By: Kracken
Disclaimer:Don't own them and don't make any money off of them.
Warnings:Male/male sex, violence, graphic, language

Princes and Soldiers series + Part 8
I Will Protect Thee

"This isn't research for a case against the detention center, is it?" the voice of the doctor demanded suspiciously.

Milliardo was half turned away from the vid phone, tapping a pen on a pad of paper on his desk. He had already scribbled several notes and he already wasn't pleased by the answers he was getting. "No, it's a back ground check on an agent, nothing more. You will not be prosecuted for telling me the truth."

"I'm recording this," the doctor warned.

"Prudent," Milliardo replied. The balding doctor had a dark, cruel looking face, not something Milliardo would have liked to see at his bedside if he had been ill. The doctor had been the resident physician, though, at Duo's internment, and it was Duo who would have had to suffer this man. "When Duo Maxwell was brought to you," Milliardo continued, "can you remember what his condition was?"

"Hell yeah," the doctor replied. He was bringing up information on a computer where he was, but he was already nodding and scowling as if he didn't need it to know the answers to Milliardo's questions. "Little bastard, Gundam Pilot! When a celebrity gets dumped into your hands, you remember it." He traced a line of information with a thick finger. "Broken bones, deep wounds, major contusions, a cracked skull, detached cornea, severe blood loss..." The man winced. "He had damage to the genitals and-"

Milliardo sat up, looking at the man's image. "Rape?" he demanded with dread.

The man shook his head. "No, they just kicked him good a few times."

Duo had said no, that he hadn't been raped, Milliardo remembered, and Duo claimed never to lie. It was hard to remember or believe in that assertion though and it was good to have it confirmed.

"Some burns, second degree," the man ended. "From cigarettes."

Milliardo ran a hand over his face, trying to banish the images the man had called up and remain professional. "He was conscious when he arrived?"

"Barely," the doctor replied. "After his arrest, orders went through and they grabbed him out of the hospital to give to us. We kept him in the infirmary. He answered questions when he was asked."

"How long was he in the infirmary?" Milliardo wondered.

"One week," the doctor replied with an edge to his voice.

Milliardo blinked, thinking that he had heard wrong. "Say that again?"

"It was the warden's decision!" the doctor exploded defensively, "and if you ask me, it was the right one!"

Milliardo asked simply, "Why?"

"There were mostly Oz soldiers in the detention center," the doctor replied. "The losers in a battle always have the worst time accepting defeat, so they make the most trouble. Every time I turned around, I discovered someone trying to get to that little shit to hurt him, even kill him. The first day, he was on oxygen and drips, and I found an orderly crimping his tubes. Putting him in lock up was the only answer, besides, once that friend of his showed up, we all felt like we were in danger."

"Heero Yuy," Milliardo guessed.

The doctor nodded. "He just appeared one day and nothing we said or did would make him leave. He just... stared... He never said anything. We called security, we called the military, we called everyone we could think of. They did everything short of tossing a bomb at him and, every time that I thought he was gone for good, he would show up again, still staring, still not saying anything. We didn't relax until he was locked up in a cell along with the little bastard."

"You keep using degrading language when speaking about Duo Maxwell," Milliardo pointed out as he scribbled notes. "Why?"

The doctor shot back angrily, "Because, every time he became lucid, he tried to cut, gut, punch, or kick someone. I had to keep him drugged and secured. Once Yuy showed up though, he calmed right down and let us do our work. It didn't make me or the other doctors feel better about the situation though. I kept wondering if that Yuy would break my neck if I didn't do my job right."

"Why would you have to be afraid if you WERE doing it right?" Milliardo wondered.

The doctor took offense, snarling, "Some people don't realize that you are doing your job correctly, sir, especially when a procedure makes their friend scream!"

Milliardo tensed. "Did Yuy ever attack anyone?"

The doctor calmed himself and shrugged. "Some of the general population, but that's to be expected. It was self defense each time. As for the staff... he was intimidating enough where no one dared to mess with the injured pilot, but... a few people came up missing and we haven't been able to locate them so far. They were all members of Oz during the war. I can't say Yuy had a hand in it, but..."

"I didn't call you for baseless accusations," Milliardo replied, cutting him off. "Once Maxwell and Yuy were put in a secure cell, did anything transpire that was out of the ordinary?"

The doctor grunted. "The whole situation was out of the ordinary. The warden wouldn't treat them as general population from the get go. Maxwell's hair was ordered cut short as per the rules, but Yuy wouldn't allow it. The warden not only didn't enforce the rules, but he made sure Yuy and Maxwell had what ever they requested. He told one of my orderlies that he was convinced that Maxwell would be released quickly and angering a Gundam pilot was as good as a death sentence for any man."

"How was Maxwell's medical care carried out in his cell?" Milliardo asked.

The doctor rubbed at his chin. "Well, it wasn't. I couldn't convince any of my staff to go into a cell with two Gundam pilots, especially when the warden had made it clear that he wasn't interested in controlling them. I wouldn't go in myself. I just made sure the supplies were delivered and that Yuy knew how to use and administer them. Like I said before, I just wasn't sure that my neck wouldn't get broken if he decided that I was doing something wrong."

The doctor suddenly looked amazed and even a bit awed as he finished, "That little, long haired shit pulled through, though, as hard to believe as that is, and Quatre Winner himself was waiting at the gate, with the cream of the medical profession, when he was released."

"Thank you. Doctor. I appreciate your candor and your time, " Milliardo said smoothly and turned off the vid phone before the man could reply. Pulling his pad of scribbles closer, Milliardo glared at them. Someone was going to pay for such heinous acts, Milliardo thought, and he was the man to see to it. The burn of anger and righteousness filled him completely. He needed to meet with officials right away and submit his findings.

Milliardo paged his secretary and ordered her to call Duo. When the door to his office opened, though, instead of Duo, Heero Yuy was standing in the doorway.

Milliardo scowled impatiently. "I didn't call for you."

Heero looked very stern and professional in his Preventer uniform. His dark gaze was serious and Milliardo could see that he knew that Milliardo was not going to be pleased by what he had to say.

"Duo wasn't feeling well. I hope that you will allow me to stand in his place and assist you," Heero said.

Milliardo didn't speak as he considered the man before him. He could sense things under the surface and his soldier's instincts prickled. He asked, sharper and more concerned than he wanted, "He's ill? What happened?"

Heero grimaced. "It might sound insignificant, but he has a headache. They can be debilitating for him."

"A migraine, you mean?" Milliardo replied, feeling relieved, but then irritated. "I hope that he doesn't get them often or that they sideline him during an operation."

Heero looked as if he were biting back a sharp response, but then he said calmly, "No, they don't happen often, and I've never known them to compromise any mission. He has a high threshold for pain. When it isn't a significant task though, it isn't necessary to suffer in order to accomplish it when someone else can easily stand in his place."

Milliardo examined his irritation and, yes, anger, and it made him uncomfortable to realize that he was being unreasonable in his reaction. Agent Maxwell was ill. Heero Yuy had come in his place. Aside from a brief question as to the reason why, it shouldn't have been a concern or a problem. Milliardo knew what the fact of the matter was though. He was disappointed that Duo hadn't come. He had wanted to see the young man that badly, had wanted Duo to see what actions he was taking on his behalf.

"I need to go to the Government Administration building," Milliardo said as he put all of his papers and disks into a briefcase, picked up his cane, and stood up. "You'll drive me there."

"Yes, sir," Heero said simply and, when Milliardo hobbled to the door, he fell into step behind him, tense and ready to offer his hand if Milliardo needed his help.

People looked at them as they passed them in the hall. Milliardo didn't blame them. He and Heero were notorious and people still recalled that they had been great rivals during the war and the uprising. No one expected them to forget or forgive and that was part of Milliardo's nervousness. He hadn't spoken a dozen words with Heero since joining the Preventers. A man couldn't gauge someone's mood towards him from so little contact. For all he knew, Heero still held a grudge against him. Milliardo frowned, feeling that familiar stab of deep guilt. Who could blame him if he did, or anyone else? In his madness, caused by the zero system, Milliardo had ordered the deaths of many people. He had been given amnesty because of who he was and the circumstances, but that didn't equal forgiveness. Milliardo had many enemies and Heero might still be one of them. Still, Milliardo thought about that approving look that Heero had given him earlier and Milliardo had to admit that he didn't understand it in light of their past.

Heero called ahead on his cell phone for a car and it was waiting for them at the curb when they left the building. Heero held the door respectfully while Milliardo managed to get into the back seat without too much awkwardness.

"Dismiss the driver," Milliardo ordered. "You will drive."

Heero didn't question the order, but he did raise a dark eyebrow at Milliardo's trust in him. Milliardo was just as surprised at himself, but there were some questions that he wanted to ask Heero and that required privacy.

As they drove, a light rain started falling. Heero turned on the wipers and they made a gentle, rhythmic noise as Milliardo searched for a way to begin. The sullen looking young man was like a wall and it was hard to know what lay beyond it.

"I need to ask you some questions," Milliardo said at last, trying to keep his tone as neutral and as professional as possible. "I am going to the administration building to file papers implicating the detention center where Duo was interred, certain persons in the medical professional, and, perhaps some officials in decision making positions who dealt in a criminal manner in the incident involving Duo Maxwell and several ex Oz soldiers."

"You are under the false impression that papers were not already filed on his behalf," Heero replied stiffly. "The incident was reviewed and all parties were acquitted."

Milliardo was stunned. "How can that be?"

Heero's face darkened. "There was a rush to sweep all things military, and all incidences involving soldiers, out of the public notice. We were supposed to be entering a time of peace. Reporting that there were problems and incidences of violence and unrest, was counter productive to the propaganda being established. Troublemakers were automatically whisked to detention centers for permanent incarceration, or retraining, and no records were made of those arrests. If there are any official government files left on the internment of Duo Maxwell, they state simply that he was held for humanitarian, medical, and psychological assistance following an 'accident'."

"There was a trial," Milliardo pointed out.

"With closed records, yes," Heero replied. "Any information on file since then was released personally by Duo and men not friendly to him. There wouldn't even have been a trial if it hadn't been for the efforts of Quatre Winner. Without his assistance, Duo would probably still be in the detention center."

Milliardo stared down at his briefcase and smoothed a hand over it. "I have witnesses-"

"Who will all change their story once they realize that you are filing reports and making accusations," Heero told him.

Milliardo's hand gripped his briefcase hard. "Of course," Milliardo replied and then added softly to himself , "I'm shocked at my idealism."

Heero heard him and he nodded, agreeing, "It is surprising."

Milliardo looked up and saw Heero looking back at him in the rear view mirror. "Agent Yuy, tell me what happened at the detention center."

Heero's eyes went to the road again. "Is that an order, sir?"

"No," Milliardo answered after a long moment.

Heero shifted in his seat and Milliardo saw him swallow hard. "I found him half dead with the word's Oz's Bitch carved into his back," Heero replied. "They were giving him minimal care and he was in danger from medics, orderlies, and the general population. If I hadn't arrived when I did... I couldn't sleep, I ate very little in case they drugged my food. They waited.... it was like animals waiting for a weakness, waiting to close in for the kill. I had to be alert at all times. Several times they managed to remove me, and each time I returned before any permanent harm could be done to Duo. He wasn't aware through most of it. I haven't told him many particulars. He doesn't ask either." Heero's hands worked on the steering wheel. "It was hell there, but I had been trained to endure and to always be ready. It served me well during that time. Sir, if you file reports and accusations, no one is going to pay for those months. No one is going to pay for harming Duo who hasn't paid already. You will only cause officials inconvenience as they ignore you and make your reports disappear. You are an important man, but Duo is just an agent. They may not touch you or your career, but Duo is another matter. It's possible that they might decide to 'make him go away' to keep the incident away from the public. They might have him sent to the detention center again."

"The men who harmed Duo didn't all pay for their crimes," Milliardo pointed out darkly. "I spoke with some of them."

"They did," Heero replied, "whether they know it or not."

A soldier's motto was, 'The only good enemy is a dead one.' If Heero was talking about subtle types of revenge, Milliardo didn't like it. He though those men should have been executed quickly and efficiently. The thought startled him and he clamped down on it. He was law enforcement now, not an Oz general who had complete autonomy when it came to delivering justice among troops and citizenry alike. Heero's admission that he had practiced vigilantism should have prompted an arrest. Instead, Milliardo found himself only glad that at least something had been done to right a terrible wrong.

"It should never have happened," Heero said softly.

Milliardo remembered then that Heero blamed himself, "It's foolish to blame yourself," Milliardo said. "You couldn't have known that something like that would happen."

"I did know," Heero replied sharply. "We had both received threats. When Duo told me that he suspected that he was being followed... he laughed about it, but I should have taken it more seriously. He was so sure that his training would get him out of any situation, that he was better than everyone else."

"The arrogance of the young," Milliardo said pensively.

Heero glanced at him darkly in the mirror. "You were not immune to it either, sir, and neither was I."

Milliardo nodded, accepting that criticism. "True."

Heero was silent for a long moment and then he said, "Duo gave me a reason to live. I was nothing inside. I kept... I thought the end of the mission meant that I could release myself from the loneliness, the pain of the life I had been living. I was welcoming the chance to end my life. I didn't have anything waiting for me, nothing to love or care about. Duo latched onto me, despite everything I did to discourage it, and he... I'm not sure... I'll use his words, "Heero looked embarrassed but he said, reciting from memory, " 'I'm planting seeds inside of you, Heero, seeds that are going to sprout after a lot of work, and, one day, a life is going to bloom for you.' Duo told me that Father Maxwell and Sister Helen, the people who had taken care of him briefly when he was young, had said the same thing to him. He told me that he wished they had lived to make his life bloom." Heero frowned as if he were still trying to understand it himself. "We stayed together. There is just something about him... I can't imagine him not being in my life."

Milliardo saw Heero shift uncomfortably again and come back to himself. "Sorry, sir."

"You love him?" Milliardo asked before he could stop himself, wanting to know, sensing Heero's vulnerability at that moment, and weak enough and uncertain enough himself to dare ask.

Heero nodded firmly without hesitation and said, "There will never be anyone else as close to me as Duo. I think, if things had been different, we might have been more than friends."

Milliardo felt the edge of his briefcase bite into his hand. "Different?"

"Duo is gay," Heero replied. He glanced at Milliardo in the mirror and then smirked, as if he understood perfectly well how Milliardo was hanging on his next words. "I'm not, sir."

The car stopped. Milliardo sat silently, digesting that bit of information as his image of Duo and Heero changed. There was a flutter deep down inside of him, a feeling of relief and hope.

The door of the car opened. Milliardo suddenly became aware of their surroundings. They were back in front of the Preventer headquarters. Heero was waiting respectfully for him to get out of the car. Milliardo almost demanded to know what Heero thought he was doing, but then he nodded, understanding, as he began to get out of the car. There wasn't any purpose in going to the Government Administration building. Nothing Milliardo filed, and none of his accusations, were going to spur any investigations. Heero was right, the only thing Milliardo would accomplish would be to make trouble for Duo.

Milliardo paused. He didn't look at Heero, but he asked, "We were enemies. Doesn't it bother you that I am with Duo?" Milliardo meant it in the working sense, but both of them knew the real question hiding in it's shadow.

"You were my greatest enemy, but that was war, and we aren't enemies any longer," Heero replied with certainty. "What better person than you, a man as skilled as myself, to protect Duo as well as I would?"

It wasn't idle flattery, but the highest compliment Heero could pay any man, Milliardo realized, and, even though Heero was far beneath him in rank and station in life, even though he was younger than Milliardo by a few years, Milliardo still couldn't help feeling a warm pleasure at receiving the former pilot of Wing's trust. As he followed Heero back to his office, Milliardo hoped that he would never have a reason to make Heero regret that trust.

[part 7] [part 9] [back to Kracken's fic]