Author: Kracken
Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warnings:Male/Male sex, graphic, violence, language,

Princes and Soldiers, II + Part 6
Lion's Den

In the living room of their home, Heero was already pale, sitting stiffly on the couch with his hands locked in his lap. His blue eyes were following Duo and Milliardo anxiously as the two moved breakables out of the way. Milliardo then made hot tea and Duo took up a comforter and sat down next to Heero with it in his lap. He fluffed a pillow at the small of his back and leaned into the corner of the couch.

When Milliardo returned with the tea and put the tea service aside on a table out of reach, Heero blurted, "Tell me what happened!"

Milliardo and Duo exchanged a glance. "Should I...?" Milliardo began and then motioned with his chin towards another room.

"No, " Duo told him. "It'll be okay."

Milliardo sat down gingerly in a nearby chair, barely knowing what to expect. He watched Duo swallow hard and take Heero's hand in his, squeezing hard. It was clear that he was choosing his words carefully.

"Heero," Duo began. "No one hurt me, okay? First get that through your head. I wasn't hurt and they weren't going to hurt me." Heero's hand squeezed hard in return and his eyes searched Duo's.

"Heero, mind easing up?" Duo begged, in pain. Heero tried, but without much success. Duo gritted his teeth and continued, "These guys wanted to smear Milliardo. They took a picture of us kissing this morning and sent it to the vid news stations." He watched Heero's face, allowing him to digest that. When Heero nodded, but then looked anxious, knowing that there was more, Duo said cautiously, "That wasn't enough for them though. They decided they needed some shots... to make it look like I was some sort of L2 whore. They didn't hurt me, Heero, they just embarrassed the hell out of me and stuck their hands where they didn't belong." Memory made Duo tense up, despite himself, and show a loathing that he couldn't conceal completely. "They had someone take shots of it," he went on angrily, "They put that on the vid news too."

"They are in custody," Milliardo quickly reassured Heero. "They will be prosecuted."

Heero was very quiet. Milliardo and Duo watched him closely. Finally, Heero asked, "How did they... Where did this happen?"

Duo tried to hedge. "They surprised me and that shouldn't have happened. I feel like an idiot. What's important, though, is that I'm not hurt, well, except my pride, I guess. We'll have to deal with the fallout from the pictures. I think Milliardo is going to get the worst of it, though. He thinks he's going to have to release a statement to the effect that there has been a big..." He looked to Milliardo for help. "What did you call it?"

"Gross mis-characterization of events," Milliardo supplied.

"Yeah, that," Duo said. "So, everything is all right, okay, Heero? We might get some nasty things said about us, but it's not like we haven't had that happen before."

"These men...," Heero grated out and it was clear that he had decided to be angry. "They... put their hands on you?"

"Groped me, but nothing-" Duo began, but Heero was starting to stand up. Duo tackled him, wrapping arms around his waist and taking him down, full length, on the couch. Duo then wrapped himself so tightly around Heero that Heero couldn't pry him off without hurting him.

Milliardo stood, ready to offer help. "Duo?" he asked anxiously.

"It's all right!" Duo shouted and then glared at Heero. "Look! I know you're mad. So am I! Those guys are in custody, though! If you go down there to take a couple of inches off their asses, you're only going to end up in lock up yourself or shot dead. I'd rather have you here with me, free and alive!"

Heero began to breathe hard, almost as if he were hyperventilating. Duo softened instantly and his strangle hold on Heero turned into a comforting embrace. Milliardo watched Heero all but climb into that embrace, face buried against Duo's chest. They ended up sideways and Milliardo was almost sure that Heero was crying.

Milliardo felt very uncomfortable. He wanted to leave and let Heero have his dignity, but he saw that for what it was in the next instant. He was avoiding dealing with the man that had come, part and parcel, with his lover, and avoiding what that really meant. Heero loved Duo. They were two sides of the same coin, one not complete without the other. Milliardo knew that Heero's reaction to the threat to Duo stemmed from that all encompassing friendship, but there was also another reason that threats to Duo nearly made Heero catatonic with fear. Heero was terrified of being parted from Duo. Any threat was a chance to be left alone. Without a war and a mission, only Duo gave Heero a reason to live and the skills necessary to help him live a somewhat normal life.

Friendship and fear made a powerful combination. Milliardo knew that it gave Heero a great capacity to do violence. Duo knew it too. He seemed to know all the right things to do to keep Heero from reaching that critical point and yet, there was room for more. Milliardo suddenly knew that he could offer that extra help. All that he had to do, was to put aside his discomfort and to silence a voice that told him that men did not do such things for each other, not men who weren't lovers anyway. Heero was frightened. He needed to ground himself. Heero needed to know that Duo was safe and that he was safe from being left alone and from losing his best friend.

Milliardo picked up the comforter and sat down, uncertain whether his offer would be rejected or not. He was a tall, broad man, not much older than the two holding each other at the end of the couch, but seemingly more adult because of his size and his calm demeanor. He used that to advantage when he reached out and pulled at the two. They were both startled.

Duo smiled like the sun rising, understanding, and, with his help, Milliardo was able to coax Heero close to him. Heero was hesitant, stiff, and trying to hide that he was upset, turning his anguished face away, but Duo was persistent, clinging to Heero and pulling until they were both in Milliardo's arms. Milliardo stretched out his long body then and draped the comforter over all of them. He held them, his lover and his lover's best friend, and tried not to let his thoughts wander towards embarrassment.

"You have us both, Heero," Milliardo told him. "It's all right. Together, you and I will make sure that Duo is safe and Duo and I will make sure that you will never be alone. Those men will be brought to justice. They won't be allowed to get away with their crime. You don't have to seek your own justice." His hand caressed Heero's dark, unruly hair and Heero shivered. Duo held him tighter.

"It's okay, buddy," Duo told him. "See, I told you Mill cared about both of us. You've got me, Mill, Missy, and I know you're going to have that pesky Noin pretty soon too. So, take it easy." Duo nuzzled Milliardo and smiled at him. He mouthed, "Thanks." and that made any discomfort, mentally and physically, worthwhile.

Milliardo let his mind drift as the two young men rested against him. He tried not to dwell on the sight they must have made, deciding instead to go over the speech he intended to release publicly. When his thoughts came back, he found both Duo and Heero asleep. He shifted uncomfortably. Neither of them stirred. Milliardo resigned himself, tucked the pillow under his head, and drifted off to sleep himself.

"Better?" Duo's voice whispered and then, "Stop being stupid, Heero. He cares. I care. Get over it."

A weight lifted off of Milliardo and there was a heavy sigh. Another body took the opportunity to sprawl completely over Milliardo's, taking it's place.

"I'll make tea and something to eat," Heero said and his voice sounded small and weary, a mental weariness more than a physical one.

"Heero," Duo said firmly. "It's all right, really."

Heero grunted and didn't reply. Milliardo could hear his feet padding away across the floor.

Something soft and hairy brushed across Milliardo's nose. "I know you're awake, faker," Duo accused with a chuckle.

Milliardo opened his ice blue eyes and smiled ruefully. "I was attempting to save face."

"Yours or Heero's?" Duo wondered as he stopped teasing Milliardo with the end of his braid.

Milliardo paused and then decided to tell the truth. "Both."

"Ah," Duo looked sympathetic. "Thank you for understanding and helping with Heero anyway. I think this is the easiest time I've had bringing him out of an 'episode'."

Milliardo brushed the bangs from Duo's eyes tenderly. "He's part of our 'family'. A man needs roots in his life, people who care, a place to call home. Both you and Heero haven't had that."

"Except during the war," Duo agreed. "I was kind of a loose cannon, but Heero needed to be told what to do, given a mission, and told that his life meant something. Not having that, not having anywhere to go to once he didn't have that, was devastating for Heero. If I hadn't figured it out, that he needed me, needed my help, he probably would have put a gun to his head and ended it." Duo looked pensive. "I can't lie and tell you that I didn't need him too. He was all the 'family' I had."

"Duo," Milliardo stroked Duo along his cheek. "You think that I mind this situation. Stop apologizing for it. You know that I was raised a certain way. It will take time for me to become comfortable, but that doesn't mean that I am unwilling. Do you understand?"

Duo frowned and ducked his head. "Why should you be willing?" he wondered softly. "By all rights, you should have walked away when I told you that Heero came with me. Knowing that we used to be lovers, knowing what we went through, how we depend on each other... Why accept any of it?"

Milliardo slid fingers behind Duo's neck and pulled him in close. "I love you. That's reason enough."

Duo smiled. "I think you took too many hits to the head during the war."

Milliardo frowned, very serious. "Don't doubt me."

Duo became serious as well. "I won't, but... I guess I'm not used to guys as incredible as you."

"Now, it's flattery," Milliardo chuckled. "I'm beginning to think that you are trying to get something out of me."

Duo smirked. "Oh, I will get something out of you... later."

Milliardo felt a blush that was half desire at Duo's innuendo. "My lover can be a bit crude," he said uncomfortably.

Duo looked worried. "Is that bad? I just say what I'm feeling. I thought you'd want to know I'm planning on-"

Milliardo put a finger against Duo's lips to quiet him. "You don't have to say anything. " Milliardo told him and he lifted his pelvis against Duo's. Duo felt his obvious erection.

Duo went wide eyed and then he chuckled. "Do that again and we may never get off of this couch."

"Sometimes, words don't need to pass between us," Milliardo explained. "I know what you want. It's what I desire as well."

Duo smirked, "Well, I guess body language is pretty easy to read in a guy." He leaned very close to Milliardo's ear. "Sometimes, though, saying it can be pretty exciting. You're all about teaching me to be proper and not embarrass you, but... sometimes..." He licked the curve of Milliardo's ear, "Letting loose with some choice words at the right time can get things really going." He breathed into Milliardo's ear, "I wanna fuck you until you moan and yell out for me. I wanna push it into your hot, tight, little behind and ride you . I wanna grab your big, hard cock and pump you until you shoot over both of us. I wanna-"

"Duo, Mill?" Heero called from the kitchen. "Should I make rice with the meal?"

Milliardo's eyes were as wide as saucers, staring into his lover's eyes and knowing that Duo was right. His lover's words had set him on fire. There was something to be said for some... coarseness... yet... He gave Duo a stern look and sat up, letting Duo slide down his body to rest in his lap.

Duo sighed and sat up as well. "I know, I know," Duo lamented, "Not where just anyone can hear it. I'm okay with that." He added though, "But you have to come back the other way and meet me halfway, Mill. There are some things I like and I know, if you relax some of that prudish, aristocratic-"

"Later," Milliardo told him, kissed him to stop his words, and stood up. He adjusted his too tight pants and Duo snickered at him. "Later," Milliardo repeated firmly, but then, "You're right though, that was.... exciting."

Duo looked surprised at the admission, but then happy, and Milliardo knew that Duo was going to take full advantage of that admission later on. Milliardo pulled nervously at the collar of his shirt , but his tightening pants, as his excitement became even stronger, wouldn't allow him to fool himself into thinking that he wasn't looking forward to it as well.

"Heero's embarrassed, you know?" Duo told him, changing the subject abruptly. He stood as well and jerked a thumb at the kitchen. "He's going to give you the cold soldier guy attitude now."

"I will admit to being uncomfortable as well," Milliardo replied, straightening his shirt with stiff motions.

Duo stood behind Milliardo and gathered up his lover's long, blonde hair. He made a loose braid of it as he said, "We'll be okay." It was more of a question.

Milliardo thought about Duo, about his life, about the things that he had survived as a matter of course in his short life. What he had now must have seemed like a dream come true; a home and a family, stability, and a chance to leave behind a life that had been a harsh one of simple survival. He wondered what Duo was thinking at that moment, whether he had suddenly doubted. He turned and faced Duo. Duo was frowning, letting Milliardo's hair slip from his fingers.

"You are referring to something other than Heero, aren't you?" Milliardo guessed.

Duo's mouth quirked in an attempt at a smile. "Well, we are going to go out in public at some point and they are going to say..."

Milliardo traced a finger along Duo's jaw. "We've already talked about this. You are not a passing fancy of mine, Duo Maxwell." He touched his chest. "You're in here, in my soul. It's true that things might get ugly, that words might be said, accusations made, our reputations tarnished, but none of that will change what you are to me. Nothing will make me leave you, or Heero, for that matter. Do you understand?"

Duo nodded, and then he firmed his shoulders. "Don't let them see that they're getting to you. Don't get excited. Don't talk back to them. Isn't that what you told me?"

Milliardo nodded. "They want a reaction. A bad one. They want picture to go along with their stories of a decadent Peacecraft and his lovers. They can make up all they want, but if you don't add fuel to the story, it quickly dies."

Duo suddenly smirked. "I guess our 'nap' would have made big news if someone had been able to snap a shot of it."

Milliardo looked nervously towards the curtains. They were drawn. Duo laughed at him. Milliardo frowned self deprecatingly and then sighed and smiled back. "We will have to be careful not to give them the opportunity, but-"

"We won't live in fear either, " Duo completed for him and Milliardo nodded. Duo motioned with his chin towards the kitchen, "Okay, so, then, maybe you should go break the ice with Heero? It's getting damned chilly in here."

Milliardo felt instantly uncomfortable again. He tried to stop it and relax, but Duo had already seen it. Duo ran a hand up and down Milliardo's arm as if trying to help settle his nerves and then he gave Milliardo a push towards the kitchen.

"Go on," Duo urged.

Milliardo sighed, nodded, and left Duo to go into the kitchen. There he found Heero standing at the stove with a spatula in one hand and a fierce look on his face. Missy was curled up in a corner and her tail thumped the floor happily at Milliardo's entrance.

"I think the food surrenders," Milliardo joked lightly.

Heero looked at him, blushed, and then lowered his eyes as he stirred the bacon in the skillet. His _expression told Milliardo that he wasn't feeling very good about himself just then.

Milliardo approached cautiously, not sure how to proceed. Finally, after several uncomfortable moments, he told himself to stop being a fool. He reached out and gently put a hand on Heero's shoulder.

Heero started and turned, alarmed. His eyes were uncharacteristically large and unsure. For the first time, Milliardo saw what lay at the core of the young man before him. Heero might have been the best soldier a man could hope to be, but when it came to day to day life, and being something besides a soldier, Heero was a child, a clueless child.

At last Milliardo saw what Duo had always seen, and he understood, now, why Duo had always been dominant, take charge, and protective of Heero. Heero was lost and afraid. He needed anchors in his life so very badly. He needed love and kindness from Milliardo and Duo, but at the moment, it was painfully obvious that he needed something even more important, to know that he hadn't lost Milliardo's respect.

Milliardo gathered Heero into his embrace all at once and held the man tightly against his chest. He whispered against Heero's unruly hair, "You have come to mean a great deal to me, Heero Yuy. You have become my family, a welcome part of my life with Duo. I respect you and I admire you. After living with you, after seeing what kind of a man you truly are, I think I am beginning to love you too."

Milliardo could feel Heero's blush hot against him. The man was rigid in his embrace. Milliardo refused to be embarrassed. It was important to show Heero that he did have a place with them and that Milliardo did care for him. He couldn't allow his rigid upbringing to keep him from showing his lover's best friend, his good friend, he amended to himself, how much he cared for and appreciated him.

Heero suddenly relaxed enough to hug Milliardo back. It was bone crushing and Milliardo bit his lip, riding it out until Heero released him abruptly. When Heero turned back to his cooking, Milliardo almost decided to not allow him to retreat, but then he felt a hand on his elbow and he looked back and saw Duo there, smiling and shaking his head.

Milliardo followed Duo out of the kitchen and into the dinning room . Heero had laid out the silverware on the table there already. Duo brushed them out of the way and sat down with Milliardo, reaching out and taking both of Milliardo's hands in his.

"The last person who grabbed Heero like that, who wasn't me, ended up in the hospital," Duo told Milliardo. Milliardo, remembering Heero's strength, felt a knot of trepidation settle in his gut. "He trusts you," Duo continued, "I hope you understand what a rare and wonderful thing that is?"

Milliardo nodded and then said softly, "I see now. I know why you do the things you do for him."

Duo looked puzzled.

"He needs so badly," Milliardo explained.

Duo grinned, understanding. "Like a big puppy, isn't he?" he replied with a chuckle, but then turned serious after a moment. "They kicked him to the curb after the war and didn't care what happened to him. How can anyone look into his eyes and do something like that? I couldn't. I never even considered it." He added thoughtfully, "You've got that look in your eyes too, you know?"

It was Milliardo's turn to be confused.

"You were lonely and you were hurting," Duo explained. He smiled, joking, "I thought, 'What's another stray?' and I took you home with me."

Milliardo quirked an eyebrow. "Is that how it happened? It was only sympathy you felt for me then?"

Duo reached out and snagged a finger into Milliardo's collar. He used that grip to pull Milliardo towards him. Almost nose to nose, he said, "At first, maybe, but, that whole, 'You are in my soul' thing? It didn't take very long for me to feel that way about you too."

"So, 'Master'?" Milliardo replied with a smile that was almost wicked, "Are you very affectionate towards your pets?"

Duo smirked. "I think you know the answer to that." And he kissed Milliardo deeply.

[part 5] [part 7] [back to Kracken's fic]