Author: pyrzm
see ch. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Broken Warriors + Chapter 20
Upstairs, Downstairs

"They're not!"

"They are! I carried their bags up myself and saw it."

"Come on, Carlos. You're talking about the tall one with the hair hanging down in his face and the little blond with the dye job? Everyone knows about them! They're married, for god's sake."

"No, I'm bloody well not, Maria. The other two--that pretty dish, Maxwell, with the braid and angel's eyes? And Capitan Yuy himself. They are together in the Blue Suite. I carried their bags in."

"Capitan Yuy? No, I will not believe it! He is ill, and they are friends, that's all."

The speculation below stairs began the moment the five ex-Gundam pilots arrived at the embassy. Apart from the general drama of their arrival, the unusual young men were a welcome change from the stuffy diplomats and spoiled potentates who were their usual charges. Among the younger servants they had almost rock star standing. Everyone had their favorite, and not a few had a magazine clipping or two taped to their dressing table mirror, or even a scrapbook.

And there was also the matter of Captain Yuy's resurrection. All of Sanque Kingdom and her embassies worldwide had observed a day of national mourning and flown flags at half-mast when the news of his supposed suicide had broken. Relena Peacecraft had issued a very touching official statement, remembering her friend and savior.

That all five of the famous Gundam Boys should be here under the same roof, even that dour, elusive Chinese pilot, caused a stir in every branch of the household, but nowhere more than the kitchens.

Their guests took no notice, of course, but their chambers were soon rather suddenly overstocked with towels and other deliverables, as every maid and footman found an excuse to visit the third floor in hope of a glimpse. Any request from those rooms was relayed like breaking news.

Guilliardo, the butler, was held in high esteem by the younger staff for many reasons, not the least of which being his ability to read room service orders like Rorschach blots. The first night the five guests dined together in the Gold Suite, occupied by the Winner-Bartons. "Simple Spanish fare and two bottles of white wine? A meal among friends, nothing more." He and Carlos returned with confirmation of this, although all but Capitan Chang were seen lounging in house robes.

Capitan Chang took his leave around ten and the night security guard for that floor grudgingly reported that Yuy and Maxwell withdrew to the Blue Suite soon after. The guard, a Sanquese of great discretion named Maquiller, would allow no listening at doors and refused the next morning to say if he'd heard anything untoward. He never gossiped among the common servants below stairs.

Carlos had chanced to linger in the servant's passage stairwell, however, and swore he'd heard cries of youthful passion.

"It was only the television," Maquiller maintained, and little Maria and several others with crushes on one boy or the other staunchly took his side in the matter.

+

The following morning Maxwell ordered breakfast for four, but the Winner-Bartons did not leave their room until much later. The chambermaids came back downstairs from their morning rounds giggling and blushing, reporting that that door was still locked and that the reason was very apparent.

"In the morning!" Constanza exclaimed, blushing behind her hands.

"Eh! They are colonials," Carlos said, as if that explained everything.

+

The day passed quietly otherwise; their handsome young guests availed themselves of the fitness center that afternoon, and comported themselves like young gentlemen, according to the staff there.

The chambermaids who did up the rooms while they were gone, however, had come back blushing again. There was no question that Winner and Barton were very much in love; the sheets bore witness and had to be changed. Yuy and Maxwell had most certainly shared the bed in Blue, though what they had done beyond sleep only Maquiller knew and the man was a sphinx.

That evening Guilliardo puzzled over the supper tray the night chef had arranged for the Blue Suite.

"Lobster salad and fresh fruit for two. But no wine?" he murmured, straightening the gleaming silverware and polishing one of the stemmed crystal glasses on his sleeve.

"Well, what does it mean?" young Carlos demanded. "Is this the meal of lovers or friends?"

"It is an odd choice, to be sure, given their age. Difficult to say."

"But it's lobster!" the chef exclaimed. "Give them a few candles to enjoy it by, whatever the case." She already had a soft spot for the pair.

On the other hand, Gold Suite had ordered pizza, beer, and ice cream, as well as two movie disks: one comedy, one Americal Western. "There will be no lovemaking in the Gold Suite tonight," Guilliardo pronounced, arranging the cart with care.

Carlos claimed the Blue Suite cart and rolled it to the elevator. He returned with word that both young men were already in a state of undress, and that Duo Maxwell's toenails were painted a very attractive shade of bluish green, nearly the same shade as his own motorbike.

"You should keep your eyes to yourself!" Maria scolded.

Carlos laughed. "They did not even know I was in the room!"

That night half a dozen of the younger servants, and, to her shame, the night chef, set up a listening post in the stairwell. Bets were placed, with odds running strongly in favor of amor. Amor won, loudly, clearly, and at length. Names were shouted and moaned, leaving little doubt as to who was involved.

The night chef fanned herself as she hustled the younger staff back to the kitchen. Guilliardo sniffed at such vulgar behavior among the staff, but Carlos, now quite puffed and full of himself, claimed it was pique on the butler's part for having been baffled by the order, and for having lost his bet. Ensalada de la langosta for two? Having seen Maxwell's toenails himself, what else could such an order have meant?

When the concierge called just before midnight with another order for the Blue Suite, everyone gathered around. The most expensive chocolates and fresh fruit at this hour? This one was unequivocal, even with the strange choice of whiskey.

"They are young!" Guilliardo said, rolling his eyes.

"And colonials," Carlos reminded him. One never knew what the wild spacers would do. "We could send up the champagne instead, and claim it was a mistake."

But Guilliardo, a man of long experience and great wisdom in such matters, shook his head and sighed, "Chacun a son gout!"**

The night chef, a champion of young love, made Carlos wait while she sent Constanza out to the garden with a pair of shears. The girl returned with a perfect red rose, which the chef kissed and placed in a crystal vase. "To bring them great passion, and luck!" she laughed, letting all the young ones smell it before setting it on the tray next to the whiskey bottle.

"If they are ordering the Sanque chocolates at this hour, and after what we heard already, perhaps no rose is needed," Carlos smirked, carrying it away.

He did not come back for some time, and Guilliardo was about to go looking when a disapproving Senor Maquiller escorted Carlos, all flushed and breathless, into the kitchen. The young footman had been caught lingering upstairs and been roundly lectured on the sanctity of a guest's privacy. Faced with the dark looks of Guilliardo and Maquiller, he would only say, "Senor Yuy, he is a god!"

Among the under staff that night, some spent the night in fevered fantasies, while others tearfully peeled photographs from their mirrors and cast them away in despair, illusions shattered. The chef slept with a red rose on her pillow and dreamt of her husband, dead these ten years.

Carlos did not sleep at all. And so it was, thanks to his gossiping with the night staff on duty in the lobby, that old Seaton already had some idea of the situation when Princess Relena arrived. Carlos watched in horror as the elderly major domo, and even the under ambassador himself tactfully tried to head her off, but it was not to be. Carlos therefore made it his business to be available with the room key, and to be in position to view the inevitable explosion when the princess threw open the draperies and scattered any lingering doubts anyone might have had as to the true state of affairs in the Blue Suite.

Carlos was treated to a brief glimpse of that state of affairs before Senor Barton sent him scurrying with a glare and a growl. But it was enough for him to be the reigning star of the night kitchen that evening as he gleefully reenacted the scene for his companions over and over again at their insistence. "Capitan Yuy! He is in the bed, a face of stone! As if she is a fly that has gotten into the room to annoy him. And the princess!" Carlos here pushed his voice to the falsetto range as he recounted the invectives she'd hurled at the unlucky couple, and struck a stance of such horror that all the chambermaids collapsed with tears of laughter, even the formerly heartbroken Maria. Old Seaton smiled and muttered into his coffee, "I did try to warn her!" Relena had done little over her tenure to endear herself with the staff.

But Carlos' greatest efforts were reserved for his portrayal of his own favorite, Maxwell. "A face so beautiful! Like a fallen angel, he is, with his eyes painted like an Egyptian. Ah, but he has the bravado of a pimp, and the mouth of a puta! 'I am not just any painted slut' he says, to the woman who stands there with murder in her eyes. Ah, he has the heart of a torero! And the princess, gasping now like a landed fish! Oh, madre dulce del dios! I thought Senor Barton would cut out my heart when he saw me standing there, but it was worth it to see such a thing!"

+

Meanwhile, above stairs:

Heero hesitated, one hand raised to knock at the door the old man had directed him to. An office of some sort, apparently, on the first floor. He hesitated not because he was nervous; far from it. They had locked the door. She had forced her way in. There was no fault on his side.

No, it was the prospect of dealing with Relena's scattergun emotions. That had always made him extremely uncomfortable. She was an intelligent person, and a very brave one when the situation called for it. But her emotions too often ruled her head, and not in any way that Heero could fathom. He had never understood why she would go to the lengths she had over the years to be near him, only to act in the most irrational and unhappy manner once she was there. This was simply another case in point.

He knocked.

"Who is it?" she demanded, sounding rather muffled.

"Heero."

"Go away!"

That was clear enough. Heero turned to go. He'd gotten no more than a few steps, however when the door behind him was forcefully opened. "Where do you think you're going?" she demanded.

Heero turned back and regarded her with some confusion. "You told me to go away."

"And so you did, just like that?" Relena gave him one of those looks, as if he was the one who'd said something totally illogical. "Get in here. We need to talk."

Heero sighed and did as she asked. Or rather, ordered. She had been his superior once, and old habits died hard.

They needed to talk. That's what Quatre had said when he'd made Heero come on this fools' errand. Heero would have ignored the advice from any of the others, but Quatre hadbeen so distressed by the scene upstairs that Heero had grudgingly agreed, if only for 04s peace of mind. No one suffered like Quatre.

"Well, at least you're dressed now." Her tone suggested more than simple surprise. So much more, in fact, that he was suddenly glad he'd listened to Duo and not simply thrown on the silk robe to follow her. It was a tone that made him glad his genitals were well covered, and that he was wearing shoes he could run in.

He was beginning to feel quite nervous, and more so every moment the ominous silence stretched out between them. Perhaps it was the lingering weakness of his illness. There was clearly nothing to fear physically and damn it, he'd done nothing wrong!

The room Relena had chosen to take her stand in was an opulent office, with elaborate furnishings that included a desk large enough to serve a banquet from and a glass fronted liquor cabinet. She went to the desk and sat down, choosing the position of power. It was a calculated move. He, in turn, went to the liquor cabinet and poured two whiskeys. He brought her one, and sat down with his own in the chair across the desk.

She stared at her glass. "Heero, it's not even eight o'clock yet."

"I thought it might calm you. You appear to be very distressed."

"And why wouldn't I be!"

"Why should you be?" Heero countered, increasingly baffled.

"Why? Why should I be? I arrive to find you in bed with Duo Maxwell-naked! And you ask if I'm distressed?"

"There's no need to shout. I'm right in front of you."

"I'll shout if I like, Heero Yuy! I'll yell the house down! How can you be so cold? How can you sit there and look me in the eye so calmly, after that?"

"I'm not angry with you, Relena."

"You! You--cold blooded bastard!"

Heero's reflexes were better than he'd given himself credit for. He hadn't anticipated her throwing the whiskey glass at his head. He ducked in time. Only the whiskey hit him. It was fortunate he was not wearing his new jacket. The sweater could be washed, and the jeans.

"You bastard!" she said again, and now she was crying. "How can you sit there, being so-so-you! No, don't you dare answer. I know what you'll say and then I'll have to heave the fire irons at you!" She stared at him for a long moment, then leaned across the desk and took his untouched glass and downed it. It did appear to have the hoped-for effect. She was still crying, but calmer. "Heero, is it possible you really don't understand?" She waited, apparently expecting an answer.

"I understand that you are upset. Apparently you were surprised by my relationship with Duo. Understandable, although I do not understand your level of response. However, I certainly would not have chosen to reveal it to you in such a manner. The door was locked-"

This reasoned response only seemed to rile her up again. "A relationship? Is that what that was? You're back from the dead for all of what? Five days? And you're in a relationship? With Duo?"

Why was she stating the obvious so emotionally?

"After I covered for you?" She was getting more worked up by the moment. "After I kept your secret. After I arranged treatment-"

Heero began to get a glimmer. "You were very kind, as always I agree. But I was not aware that that in any way obligated me to share with you the intimate details of my private life."

"Are you saying you and Duo were-involved-before you left?"

"Not to this degree."

"And?"

"And what?"

"Oh, don't be tiresome! Are you saying that you just fell into each other's arms this week, just like that?"

Heero considered this. "I fell in love with Duo during the war, I think. But I didn't have the perspective to understand my feelings. I do now."

"You're in love with him?" Relena fell back in her chair, gone quite pale. "Since the war?"

"Yes, I think it's accurate, in retrospect-"

"And what about us?"

Us? Relena and him? Relena and Duo? Duo had never mentioned any feelings for her. They'd seen very little of each other-

"Dammit, Heero! Look at me! Don't just drift off like that. I love you! I've been throwing myself at you since we met! Doesn't that count for anything?"

Heero blinked. "You love me?" She loved him. Duo loved him. Trowa 'had a thing' for him. Wufei was jealous. And there'd been a few odd looks from Quatre, too. The world was far more complex place than he'd ever guessed. Distracted, he caught a glancing blow on the shoulder from the empty glass she threw at him.

"You didn't even notice?" she cried.

"Notice what--? Oh. You? How would I know? You never told me."

"Never told you? Good god, Heero. I offered to let you kill me! I changed schools to follow you! I chased after you even when you shamed me in front of my friends that time, tearing up my invitation like it was nothing! I nearly took a bullet for you! What did you think that meant?"

"There was a war on, Relena. I had no idea what you were thinking, and had neither the time nor the inclination to figure it out. If you felt that way, you should have told me outright."

"Would it have made a difference?"

"Well, no. But I didn't even have time to consider Duo, and I already loved--"

"Stop saying that!" Relena actually pressed her hands over her ears for a moment. Then she sat back again and smoothed her blonde coiffure. "You could at least have had the decency to have told me you're gay."

"Gay?" Heero considered this. "I don't think it ever occurred to me that I was-am gay. I'm not sure I am, to be honest." Then again, there had been those odd moments of attraction to Trowa and Quatre, but he didn't know for certain that he couldn't feel that way toward some woman. He only knew he hadn't so far, including Relena. There didn't seem to be any question about that. But she was talking again. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

"I said, 'You're kidding me, right?'"

Heero felt like he was wading into deep unknown waters, but he pressed on, explaining it to himself as much as to her as he went. "I love Duo for who he is. That was very important to me back then and it seems to be even more true now, even though he's changed in some ways. But I do-love him, that is, for being who he is. And so it seems that even if he was female, but with the same personality and basic appearance, and we had still shared all the same common experiences that we have, I would probably have the same feelings toward him-er, her. "

Relena went quiet again. As usual, it did not last long. "Let me get this straight, Heero, if you'll pardon the expression. Did you or did you not have sex with Duo last night?"

"I did. And the night before, and that previous afternoon-"

"I get the picture, Heero, thank you! So you don't find his being male off-putting in any way?"

"Not at all!" Heero realized he was grinning and tried to stop. It wasn't helping the situation. "Relena, would it upset you less if he was a girl?"

"That's completely beside the point! I'd be less upset if you loved me! There, I said it. Was that plain enough for you, Mr. Yuy?"

"But I don't."

"Well, you don't need to be insulting about it!"

"I didn't mean to be. I meant that I did not choose to love him, or anyone else. If that had been possible, I would no doubt have chosen not to love at all. I tried very hard to do exactly that for a very long time. It wasn't a logical decision, to love Duo, or a considered one. In fact, it makes no rational sense at all. He is unlike me in a number of highly significant ways. He has habits and mannerisms that at times bother me, and some that were downright distracting during the war. His manner toward me should have gotten him killed several times. And even if that had not been the case, it was ridiculous to entertain such feelings then, when either of us could have been killed at any moment, and neither of us could afford any distractions. And in addition, we were far too young and probably still are, to make any serious commitment. Yet it did happen and it seems we have, against all better judgment and training. And, now that I've accepted it, I can't imagine it being any other way. In fact, at this point I would find it most distressing if his feelings toward me changed. "

"Quite the romantic, ain't he?"

Neither of them had heard Duo slip in. He'd taken time to wash his face, braid his hair, and get dressed. He was wearing Heero's white Oxford untucked over his jeans. It was a little big on him. Heero wondered if this had been a calculated choice, a marking of territory. At the same time it struck him as a nicely intimate thing, Duo wearing his shirt, though he hadn't thought anything of the borrowed clothing he'd worn. Of course, that had been out of necessity, rather than choice.

Duo walked over and sat on the arm of Heero's chair. "Sorry to just barge in like this-" he said, though his tone hinted otherwise. "I thought you two might need an interpreter. Guess I was wrong, though. That was quite a speech, baby. I couldn't have said it any better than that."

"Baby?" Relena looked like she'd swallowed something unpleasant.

"The heart wants what the heart wants," Heero added, remembering what Duo had said about Trowa.

"Quit while you're ahead," Duo muttered.

"Yes, you've made it very clear," Relena sighed. "Unfortunately, my heart wanted you. But that didn't matter, did it?" Now she just looked sad. Maybe the whiskey was working.

"Even if you had told me, I don't think it would have changed anything," Heero agreed. "I never understood why you cared about me at all. I wasn't likeable, or sociable. I'm still not. I was rude to you, and threatening on more than one occasion. I never consciously gave you any encouragement. Did I?"

Relena sighed again. "No, you didn't. Not even a little. He must have been different with you, Duo."

Duo shrugged. "Rude? Anti-social? Threats of bodily harm? Sounds kinda familiar, actually. But yeah, I guess it was different."

Relena stood and smoothed her dress. "Well, I've had my say and thrown a drink in your face. If I apologize for barging in on you, that should about cover it."

"Hey, everyone else does!" Duo said. "We should probably just put up posters and sell tickets."

"Duo." Heero caught his irrepressible friend's wrist and gave it a slight warning squeeze. Relena was trying to graciously bow out. "Relena, thank you again for everything you've done. I do appreciate it. We'll be leaving today, to spare you any further embarrassment."

"Too late for that, probably," she said, wiping her eyes with a lace handkerchief. "The household staff doesn't miss much. Where will you go?"

"I don't know-" Heero began, but Duo cut him off.

"Kat's offered to let us use a place he owns in America. We'll let you know via a secure line when we get settled. We're still tryng to dodge the press vultures."

She nodded knowingly. "The press. Oh dear. They're outside now, probably waiting for us to make an appearance. I don't suppose--?"

"Go clean up," Duo told her. "We'll go get the others and meet you in the lobby. Then we just show 'em some teeth and hug for the cameras. I'll even try not to jump anyone today."

Heero slid a hand down Duo's back and caught the end of his braid, giving it a secret little tug. "He'll behave."

+

From: The Madrid Times

Madrid: Princess Relena Peacecraft Darlian posed with four of the ex-Gundam pilots in the rose garden at Sanque Embassy today, and spoke tearfully of her joy at discovering her long time friend Heero Yuy alive.

"Heero is like a second brother to me," Peacecraft stated. "It's like old times, now that he's back."


+

From: The Berlin Weltbeobachter

Madrid: Relena Peacecraft Catches Former Lover Heero Yuy in Arms of Another-The Infamous Duo Maxwell!

Harsh words flew, according to sources inside the embassy, before Peacecraft ordered the pair off the grounds . . . .


++

I don't usually do notes, but this chapter is what happens when the author watches too much Masterpiece Theatre.

**"Chacun a son gout." French: "Each to his own taste" A common platitude that seldom refers to food. Apologies for lack of proper accent marks. They get mangled when I upload stories.

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