Author: Maldoror
see chap. 1 for warnings, disclaimer

Two Halves + Chapter 28
Epilogue

Two young men, hoods over their faces, plain travelling cloaks covering the green and the black colours of their respective countries, walked slowly through the palace corridors. Light broke in waves from regularly spaced windows, illuminating pieces of their childhood; their old room, Odin's training hall, Father Maxwell's private library, Zechs' room...

Heero's steps faltered as they neared the study. Duo glanced nervously around the hallway then tugged as his cousin's sleeve. They were trying for a discreet entrance, to allow Zechs time to decide what he hell he wanted to tell the people of Sanq about their sudden reappearance, and other complications.

"Come on, Yuy, stop dragging your feet."

"I-" Heero's face was frozen but his eyes were a bit wild.

"Heero, what do you think he's going to do. Make a scene? Attack me with a sword? Burn me at the stake?"

Heero gave him a glazed look. "N-no."

"Well?" He pulled Heero's arm. It was like trying to drag a mountain.

"But he can't- I mean, you-" Heero was having as much trouble sorting his emotions as his sentences. "He'll make you leave." That last came out with a scowl that tried to hide pain. "We're political enemies. He'd never be able to explain to the people- Duo this is wrong! I cannot be heir of Sanq!"

"Keep your voice down! We've been through this-"

"In his letters, Zechs kept telling me that as soon as I got back, he wanted me to marry this ditz of a distant relative of mine. Of yours. I- I can't do that."

Duo's smile was only in place by force of habit. Oddly enough the idea made him as uncomfortable as Heero. "Erm, why not?"

"Because of my bloodline!" Heero snapped. "I don't want any kids, if they're going to take after me!"

"So it's not the girl you object to-" Duo started, then kicked himself. Why did he say that? Heero didn't even know her. Why did the whole idea make him want to burn things (starting with the ditz of a relative)? The whole last week he'd had weird thoughts run through his head whenever he realized that he would have to go back to Lin in a few days. He wanted more time with Zechs. And with Heero. The six busy weeks since their victory weren't enough to catch up on five years. He took his obligations to Lin seriously but... whenever he thought of leaving Heero behind in Sanq, strange half-formed plans would bubble in his mind. They were even more insane than his usual run of plans so he'd never dared pin them down, and he wasn't about to now. "Let's get this over with, buddy."

Heero sighed and walked slowly to the study. "Sounds like Jay made it here before us." He muttered as the sound of arguing came from the room beyond. Jay's hectoring tone, and another voice, that rang all the way to their childhood.

They stopped of a common accord before the green brocade curtain of the study. Duo found Heero's hand in his and he squeezed it reassuringly, whishing he felt half that confident. Heero squared his shoulders.

The curtain swished aside and Zechs glanced away from Jay in annoyance.

"I said I didn't want to be interup-!"

The king staggered to his feet, his chair crashing behind him.

"You-you're here!" He chocked. He hesitated for a fraction, his eyes flashing between them, then he crossed the few steps in a faltering run, and swept Duo up in a hug that threatened to snap his spine.

"Duo! Gods! I- I don't know what to say! I'm so- so sorry about- about everything- I should have told you- I-"

Duo found himself thrust at arms length. The king - his father, always his father, he realized, even before Heero had told him the truth- had aged in the past five years, but his grip was still strong on Duo's shoulders.

"When I heard you were alive, I was going to invade Lin and get you back whatever it took! I would have- I- but Jay said-" Zechs threw a venomous look back at Jay who shrugged it off with a sniff. "I tried bargaining with Septim to have you back, threatened him, but I guess he knew we couldn't pull off an invasion and the jackal wouldn't let you go! I didn't know what else to do, and Heero said he'd get you back, he'd try to- good gods, Duo, what have you done to your hair?!"

Zechshalf twisted Duo around to look at the long braid falling down the back of the black leather jerkin. He blinked as Duo's choice of colours also penetrated his mind, and Duo felt a pang at the sadness in those blue eyes. But there was resolve as well.

"Jay's been telling me what you've been up to. I still can't believe you survived, but whatever happened, whatever - I'm proud of you. Jay says you're determined to go through with this- well I guess you already have, you were crowned two weeks ago, weren't you. I... we have a lot to talk about but I guess I'm proud of you for that as well." Zechs coughed and scowled, then pulled Duo into a hug again so he wouldn't be seen giving his eyes a rough wipe. Duo hugged the king back, unable to speak, until Zechs gave a shaky laugh.

"Gods, Heero, Jay said you'd grown up, but I- you're almost as tall as I am now... Er, what happened to your hair? Don't tell me you're wearing a braid as well!"

"As if he could have something so classy." Duo snickered, as Zechs ruffled Heero's messy bangs and Heero scowled. He had a hard time keeping it up when Zechs also pulled him into a bone-grinding hug.

Zechs took a step back, holding them at arms' length.

"I can't believe I have my sons back. I've been living for this day. I don't care what this crazy old coot says," this in Jay's direction, "you are both my sons! Look at you... holding hands like when you were children... "

"What was Jay saying?" Heero sounded a bit worried.

"I was saying that however much you want to, Zechs, Duo cannot be known as your son anymore! Be smart about this, he's the heir of Lin, and everybody in both kingdoms knows he's Treize's heir as well." Jay's glance swept over Duo and Heero without a pause or further comment on that lie. "No-one is going to accept you claiming him as your son, not when both countries are still potential enemies."

Heero and Duo's linked hands tightened convulsively.

Jay continued with a grin.

"Now your son-in-law, though, that's another matter! That's a solid basis for a political alliance. Besides everybody likes a good wedding party. Something tells me neither of the boys will argue too strenuously either... "

He leered at the two young men staring at him. Then he grabbed Zechs by the arm. "Come on, your majesty, you can catch up later. Someone's going to blab about their presence here any minute now and you need to decide what to say about it, which means they have to decide what to say about it first and this they might want to talk about in private."

"But-"

"But it's unfair to get them to decide their future in about five minutes? Yeah, tough, but if I didn't they'd take years and something might go wrong and we might have a messy war again. My way is better. Come on then... "

"What was Jay saying about a son-in-law?" Heero was staring, eyes wide, at the door closing on the other side of the study.

"Haha, hey, Heero, funny thought!" Duo knew an opening when he saw one; the nebulous ideas he'd had crashing around his head suddenly coalescing into a plan with his usual speed. Five minutes, no time for subtlety, but then he wasn't renowned for it anyway. "If you were given the choice of marrying the ditz of a relative we were talking about, or instead marrying someone else who you really like and also make sure this keeps the peace between our two kingdoms and will make me happy and well, what would you say?"

"I'd say yes, I guess." Heero said slowly after working his way through the convoluted sentence.

"You-you would? That's great!"

"But who are we talking about?"

Duo took a deep breath. That's ok, he though, I still have four more minutes. "Heero... "

"Whoa! You mean you!?"

"I'm freaking you out. Am I freaking you out? Is it the idea of two guys who are best friends getting together, because-"

Heero shut his mouth with a click. "I've been living in the room next to Trowa and Quatre for the last few years, I probably know more about it then you do, so no, that's not what's 'freaking me out'."

"Anyway, it's only a political alliance thingy, right?" Duo said, not lying because of course that's what it would be, at least to start with...

"Duo, you can't marry me, I... I could still go insane in the near future... "

"Popular wisdom says I'm already crazy so we'd be a perfect match then."

"Duo, you're not insane! I-"

"Anyway, it's better than both of us going crazy, you with the ditzy relative and me with some over-bred plotting piece of fluff the council will select for me if I don't take matters into my own hands. They might even ask me to marry Kelna!"

"But-"

"If we two get married instead, neither of us would be expected to produce heirs, for pretty obvious reasons, so we get to adopt someone not too dumb and that puts a final end to Treize and his line!"

"True, but I'm the one carrying the bloodline, not-"

"Pleeeeeeeease?"

"Duo, you are the Sorcerer-King of Lin. Making puppy dog eyes is beneath your station."

"Oh, well, in that case, I don't think I ever got 'Captain Yuy's' resignation, did I, so I could just order you to-"

"You very much don't want to go there... "

"Ahh, guess not. When we're married can you teach me to scowl like that? Ok, ok, we'll do this the proper way. Now, will you-"

"Duo, what in all the circles of hell are you doing?!"

"Getting down on one knee, what's it look like. I don't do more romantic than this, I warn you right now. Heero, will you-"

"Get up! I take it back, you are insane!"

"Maybe I'll just stay like this until you say yes! Ouch! Or maybe not. What did Jay do to make you this strong?"

"Duo be serious! There is no reason for you to go through with this insanity!"

"You mean, besides making sure my kingdom can finally be at peace with it's neighbour, and create links between our countries, and work out some deal to allow us to have some fallow land in which to expand so the people of Lin can finally start to break away the mountains, and they no longer have a reason to try to open breaches and get fiends to invade the world?"

"... Ok, so maybe you have one-"

"How about the one where I don't want us to end up political opponents, or each stuck in two different countries and only seeing each other during the occasional state ceremony."

"I-"

"How about the one w-where I want you to be on my side for once, instead of working around me or against me."

"D-Duo... "

"Or maybe I just want to stay with my-my best friend and the other half of my soul, instead of growing even further apart than we already -"

The rest was muffled as Heero found the best way of showing him that there were, finally, reasons enough.

"Five minutes are up- Oh." Jay closed the door again. "Well that's decided then. I better start working on Zechs now, he'll probably take more than five minutes... Looks like I saved the world again, or at least insured peace in this region for quite a few more years. Sometimes I'm so good I can't stand myself... " He wandered off to find Zechs to give him the good news.

OWARI!!!

[chap. 27] [back to Maldoror's fic]