By Xero Sky
Warnings: for the whole story, expect lemon, lime, blood, violence, sarcasm,
Pairings: 6 x 2 (x1) I think... I've always sucked at math!
AN: Post EW. Possible OOC, but not intentional.
Disclaimer: All copyrights remain with their original holders. No profit
of any kind is intended from this work of fan fiction.
+ Chapter One
He opened the doors and let
the ocean breeze come in. The stale air of the room stirred reluctantly
before surrendering, stirring small whirls of dust in the corners. White
walls shone now that the storm doors were pulled back. The lacquered wooden
floor shone dully in the sunlight, making the empty expanse of the room
seem somehow larger.
Home sweet home.
Most of the small villa was just like this: empty of everything but dust
and the weight of years. All of the decorative items were gone, but one
bedroom was stacked to the ceiling with furniture sealed away in plastic.
The appliances and fixtures were still there and probably worked; the
villa was designed to be self-contained, and it hadn't suffered much during
the 20 or more years of disuse. The Peacecraft arms were still inlaid
in the stone over the fireplace, but there was no other sign of who had
once lived here or why they had left.
He heard the faint humming of the refrigeration unit, and the sound of
waves. Other than that, there was only his own breathing.
The villa was a relic, a forgotten bit of the Peacecraft legacy that no
one wanted, not entirely unlike himself. The small trust that had been
set aside to pay the caretakers had finally run out, and a polite, extremely
old-fashioned letter addressed to His Serene Highness, Prince Milliardo
Peacecraft, had arrived in Zechs' mail to gently inform him of it and
request further orders. The battered envelope had surprised him, in a
time when nothing else did. He had no idea how far it had traveled to
reach him, but it had seen some adventures, certainly. The persistence
of it, as well as the novelty, had seduced him.
So here he was, reclaiming a forgotten and useless house on a stretch
of utterly deserted coastline. He pulled his gun out of his waistband
and set it on the counter.
Perhaps not entirely useless.
The money wasn't a problem. Once he turned 21, a series of bank accounts
he had never known existed were turned over to him. Much of it he had
given to charity, for rebuilding the kingdom. The rest stayed hidden,
for reasons he couldn't quite put into words. Something to do with preparing
for the worst, perhaps, or husbanding his resources for the future. He
didn't care enough to explore it further, knowing that it was mostly a
reflex, a thought pattern carried over from the past. In the meantime,
it was useful having entirely private funds from time to time.
Relena trusted him. Perhaps only Relena.
He caught a glimpse of his reflection in a glass pane of the folding doors.
Always the same. Long platinum hair, a handsome face, vacant blue eyes.
Prince Peacecraft, Ambassador without Portfolio. Usually sent to frighten
colonials who were thinking of splintering off on their own, or to soothe
feelings that needed an icy touch, a reminder of what had almost been.
He never threatened. All he had to do was be smooth and polished and Zechs
Merquise. He went by his birth name, but he knew, and they knew, that
he would always be Zechs. The Lightning Count. Terror of the colonies.
Treize Kushrenada's attack dog.
Relena's attack dog, now. Currently absent without leave, tucked away
in a forgotten house on a forgotten beach.
A waste of flesh.
He broke away and went to put the rest of his supplies away. He'd had
no idea that the house had been stripped bare, but he'd had thoughts of
20 year old bed linen and brought a bedroll and other basics, just in
case. His fastidiousness and preparations had been automatic reactions,
the kinds of things he didn't really have control over any more. So many
years as a soldier, as an officer, as Treize's protégé,
had given him reflexes and sensibilities that he would likely never be
rid of. He felt like a distant observer of himself, sometimes... often
Some part of his mind was entertaining a certain idea now, turning it
over and over like a shiny new toy, distracting him. He smiled gently,
almost giving it a name, and then shook his head. Not now. Now it was
time for getting down to work.
Sunset over the ocean was a brutal affair, he thought idly. There was
nothing to mute and absorb the ruthless glare of the sun as it swelled
up in glory before death. A glittering line of fire had been laid over
the ocean like a trail of burning wreckage as the light was broken by
"Burning wreckage," Zechs said aloud, snorting in disgust. "So
He poured another shot and downed it all in one fluid motion. He bared
his teeth at the taste, and then poured himself another before eyeing
the bottle. Half gone. He'd have to slow down, or he'd sick it all up.
A man of good breeding didn't waste expensive alcohol, and he doubted
there was any more of this stuff, anywhere.
Besides which, he'd just gone to all the trouble of cleaning up and airing
out the place, making it livable for however long he was going to want
it. He still had no idea how long that was, even now that he was there.
He didn't particularly care. There were more important things to think
But it turned out he wasn't quite drunk enough to get around to that particularlittle
Well, there was a cure for that. Even if he was a little out of practice.
It had been... six months or so since he'd last gotten what Noin used
to call "fuck drunk". He wasn't sure where the hell that term
came from, really, but it never failed to get a smile from him, even now.
It reminded him of the last time he saw her.
A beautiful woman, really: dark hair, dark eyes, and a fire in her belly
to match his. She had been there for him, even when he'd barely noticed
her. He had a clear image of her in his head, from that night: she been
leaning against his desk, her head propped up on one hand, grinning at
him. Her cheeks were flushed from laughter, and a few dark strands of
hair were stuck to her brow. Her eyes had had that strange, kind look
in them that she reserved for him. Both of them had been drunk. Some time
later that night he'd finally rolled her on the couch in his office, doing
something he probably should have done years earlier.
She'd been gone when he woke up, but there had been a note. A note with
a tentative sort of affection in it, telling him she had a mission on
L2 and she'd be back in a couple of days. She'd didn't regret a thing.
She'd miss him.
Later on he'd done the unwilling calculations in his head. While he'd
been lying there on his couch, feeling smug and tired and sated, thinking
about what he'd do to her when he got the chance, a piece of orbital debris
far too small to be tracked on any screen had hit Noin's shuttle. Moving
at thousands of miles an hour, it had little trouble piercing the hull.
There had been no explosive decompression and little fuss of any kind,
but when the rescue crew finally secured the shuttle, they had found all
the atmosphere had been lost. Everyone was dead.
A smile now, and then another drink. He did not silently toast her. He
mourned her loss, but his heart hadn't broken. He hadn't been in love
But for a moment there, a few hours, there had been a possibility of something
more, of a future that wasn't the bleak and monotonous wasteland he had
been wandering through since the war. There had been sweet warmth and
slow kisses, and he had almost caught a glimpse of something else.
Here's to almost, he thought.
In the warmth of the summer evening, he sat in the middle of the living
room floor, wearing nothing but a pair of faded jeans. A small dark bottle
was nearby, and a shot glass hung from one hand. His loose hair, stained
to yellow gold in the light, cascaded over the smooth skin of his back.
At 23, he was in the prime years of his youth, his skin tanned, his muscles
hard, his body lean. Only his eyes told the story of how those years had
been spent: their blue seemed faded now, as if their color had been spent
with his passions.
Half gone, three quarters down... He was too fucking civilized to simply
swill it from the bottle. A gentleman didn't. Even him. Bloodstains did
not erase good breeding.
Laughing mirthlessly, he stood up without even the faintest wobble, stretching
his limbs gracefully and feeling his spine crackle. There was a delicious
sort of heaviness to his muscles as he walked outside onto the deck. The
bottle, ever-faithful attendant, came with him. He smiled as his head
spun slightly, and he finally swayed a little. The colors outside, like
that astonishing sunset, were over-saturated, and his senses gave him
too much of the world. He had to stop for a moment, smiling, the breeze
catching his hair and sweeping it across his over-sensitive skin, making
He'd laid his bedroll out here, intending to sleep under the stars. No
stars yet, but he didn't care. It was good enough simply to flop down
and cross his arms behind his head, staring up at a sky bluer than blue.
Clean and deep, endless... He could hear nothing but the waves, and see
nothing but the infinite depth of space, the darkness lying just behind
If there is nothing beyond the sky, where is heaven? he thought, mesmerized.
His eyes closed for just a moment, but when he opened them the sky had
shifted, grown darker. Stars were appearing. He smiled at their beauty,
and then felt for the bottle at his side. The glass was gone, so he drank
without it, feeling the bitter heat as he swallowed. Vile. It was his
fault for not remembering how it was supposed to be drunk, though. Was
it salt he needed? Lemon?
Sugar... You were supposed to let a tiny cube of sugar melt on your tongue
before each mouthful, taming the monster before it slid down your throat.
He had forgotten what it was supposed to taste like. The effects, so much
more than whiskey, were as he remembered, though.
He watched the sky turn black, knowing it was going too fast. It was just
as well this shit was banned, he thought, swirling the last little bit
around the bottle. Bad for the head...
Like Epyon, and Zero. Like Treize.
Fuck. He didn't want to think about that. He sat up a bit, hunching his
shoulders forward. A quick, nauseating flash of near-perfect recall made
Explosions. Death. The suspicion that right then and right there, he might
He shook his head, but images were coming faster, complete with emotions.
Treize was his enemy, Epyon was in his head, and... he did what he thought
was right at the time.
That's what he told Relena, afterwards. I thought it was the right thing
to do. And there wasn't anything to say to that, was there?
After it was all done, after that fucking useless whelp Mariemaia killed
her share of defenseless people, he'd been caught. He'd been taken down
by a mechanical failure, after all his love affair with the metal and
the circuitry. He was a warrior who loved his tools, and when betrayal
came, in the form of a simple breakdown, it had proven too much for his
strained nerves. He'd gone into something like shock for a while.
Lovely numbness. It had lasted through the trials, his confessions, his
conviction for war crimes and the pardon. He hadn't held back a thing.
Long ago, he'd been religious and gone to confession, and unburdened his
soul like a good little sinner. He'd done much the same thing at the war
crimes tribunal. But his crimes were too many, and so they'd earned him
pardon, since the only other alternative was death.
Relena Peacecraft's brother, the born heir to the Sanc Kingdom, was never
going to be executed for war crimes. It was too important that nothing
threaten her position or influence now, and his shameful death would have
been too useful a tool for her enemies. That was how things were, and
that was how politics and power ran now.
Even Treize hadn't been able to tarnish him enough, somehow.
His body jerked suddenly, with the memory of a fine leather whip being
brought down on his naked flesh. A reminder, Treize had called it, of
who was in command. A gift of awareness.
Treize... He whimpered gently and stifled it, not willing to let anyone
or anything bear witness to the scar across his soul that was still the
entire property of Treize Kushrenada.
The night pulsed and ebbed around him, as memory and sleep took him and
then gave him up again in a slow erratic rhythm. The empty bottle went
spinning through the air in a lazy arc, having given all its secrets up
to him. The hallucinogenic effect of the many different herbs that had
been blended into that liqueur remained with him, fading slowly with the
Near dawn, when the darkness had begun to seem worn and tawdry, he could
no longer tell the difference between the sound of his own breathing and
the gentle roar of the waves below. Everything, his private thoughts and
the outer world, his pain and the indifference of the stars, had begun
to twist together in one long bright river of being. He thought he might
be on the verge of some revelation, but didn't all drunks think that?
He laughed, and couldn't tell if that sound came from himself or the world
itself, mocking him.
A different sound, alien and yet utterly familiar, intruded, and he wondered
if he should care about it. But then his eyes caught sight of the star
falling from the sky, and he understood for a moment. No heaven. No angels.
Just the pure shriek of metal tearing the air apart in descent. Machinery
in flight. Bright flashes of weaponry. Death offered and received.
So strange... Fighting here? He blinked, trying to see if it was real.
Perhaps he was dreaming...
It remained, a star in flight, leaving a thinning trail. Not locked in
battle, but descending through the paling skies, towards him.
A smile like a razor's bite curved thin, sensuous lips, and Zechs Merquise
laughed. Maybe it was Death. If only he'd known it was hunting him, he
wouldn't have put it to so much trouble to find him.
Lightning flashed across tired blue eyes.
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