Author: Reverand Maynard
Warnings: 13+6; kisses; almost angst---nah, not really; Mariemeia; PG-13
Author's Notes: This fic comes after 'That Depends' and before 'More than That'. It is best (but not necessary) to have read "Yes, Please" prior to this fic. As far as the timeline goes, as with the rest of the series, it is a bit skewed, or better, some occurences have been warped to fit my needs. Here, Zechs has made plans to go into outerspace (more can be derived from 'That Depends') just before the whole mask-breaking scenario (more on that in 'More than That').

SS: Twice as Much

Dear Mother,

How are you, momma? Gretchen says you're happier than ever now that I'm doing so well at my studies. She says you watch me from heaven. Is that true? You should watch me at my target practice. I'm very good, even if grandfather has to stand behind me to keep me from falling backward. He helps me hold the pistol.

Grandfather is doing well. I do not think he misses you and I wonder why. It has been so long and I still miss you. He says that strong people do not get sad. He must be very strong...

+

It was all too familiar. It had happened too often. Nothing had changed... and yet everything was different.

Zechs watched the dark figure of his general seated behind the large oak desk. There, the sunlight streamed into the room from the window behind, turning the man into little more than a black silhouette. A secretary, of sorts, had escorted Zechs into the room. As if sensing the tension that seemed to shadow the man in the mask, she did not leave until the general gave a dismissive nod.

"You came," said the silhouette after some time, its voice neutral.

"Of course," Zechs replied, knowing already that a game was beginning. Though he could not see it, Treize was smiling.

"I'm glad."

"... of course."

With the squeal of reluctant leather, Treize shifted in his seat, allowing his visitor a glimpse of his expression. There was no smile. "Will you be leaving tomorrow? The Lady has information of such a departure... and yet, you are here."

"The trip is postponed," Zechs supplied. "Difficulties with an engine... or five."

"Five?" Treize asked in a suspiciously unsurprised tone. "That many?"

"We suspect foul play."

"As would I."

Zechs stood, moving slowly toward Treize's desk. It felt insolent to do so without being bidden. No soldier approached their general without good reason, permission, or as an answer to a direct order... then again, he'd been feeling rather insolent lately.

+

Grandfather says I've got another year still before I'll be ready for his plan. I still don't quite understand it, but maybe that's why I'm not ready for it. He says it is my destiny. Gretchen says there's no such thing. I don't know what it means.

My birthday party was two days ago! But you know that. Of course you do. Grandfather let me invite as many people as I wanted, but I don't know very many so mostly it was older people like grandfather's friends and some of our family. I spent most of the party with Gretchen in the kitchen. She made me a cake and bought me a doll. Grandfather gave me clothes and a hat with my initial on them, as if I could lose my own clothes. But he acted very proud of me when I put them on, and made me show myself to everyone there. It was fun when they all cheered for me...

+

Expansive and mostly bare, the oak desk afforded more workspace than necessity dictated, inviting one to make use of it somehow, which Zechs did. His newly chosen perch provided him with an ample view of his companion's face.

"I was planning to see you tonight, Treize... engine trouble or no."

"Were you?" Treize looked up at him with no indication as to his thoughts on Zechs's advance. "And here I thought you would gladly traipse into space without so much as a backward glance."

Zechs removed his mask and sat the irksome thing atop a pile of reports the general had most recently reviewed, knowing well that Treize was watching him. He crossed him arms over his chest.

"I said I would try to come, didn't I? Am I known to be a liar?"

Treize's hand rested inches from his thigh. Both men seemed to realize this, but only Treize made the fact obvious by reaching across that little expanse and thoughtfully rubbing the crease of Zechs's breeches.

"Ah-ah, Zechs," Treize finally said, not taking his eyes from the white fabric that warmed his fingers. He smiled a little. "You know I can't answer that... glass houses and all..."

"There are so many of those, aren't there?" Zechs's question was cold, and not really a question at all.

"Yes," said Treize, looking into Zechs's face now, his smile fading. Zechs had never seen him so... was that hurt? Insult?

"Why did you come, Milliard?" The name might have been a curse.

"Do you wish I were not here?"

The leather chair cried out again and Treize was standing.

"On the contrary," the general began, "I only wish to know why you are here... what brought you here other than engine trouble, because I know that was of little consideration."

+

That man was here. At my party. The same one from a few weeks ago, remember? I told you that Grandfather has lots of pictures of him in his desk drawer, the one I'm not supposed to look into. Not very good pictures, actually. Most are very blurry and from far away, but it was definitely him. The only difference in when he came was that the phantom was not with him. He is in almost all of grandfather's pictures as well. I call him that because he wears a mask, just like in the play that Grandfather took me to once. Only he has a lot more hair and you can see even less of his face. But he must be a monster to cover himself that way. There must be dreadful scars. I can't think of it!

Anyway, the man was here. He didn't talk much to the other people. He must have few friends like me. But he watched me when he thought I was not looking. I wonder if he is one of those men that Gretchen tells me to look out for... in fact, when I asked about him at the party, she said to never go near him! Do you believe that?

Of course, that meant I absolutely had to.

+

"I... wanted to see you, Treize." It took some effort to keep his eyes on his general's, even more to remain in his state of repose on the desk with that man standing near him. It became more difficult still when Treize leaned in, left hand resting on the desk at Zechs's side.

"Why?"

Zechs's body tightened. "You know well why, Treize. You asked me here. Don't play with me. I'll leave first."

"No play," Treize offered, seeming to belie his statement as his free hand brushed through blond strands about a crimson shoulder, "... only curiosity."

"Why do I doubt your sincerity?"

"Why do you still doubt my affections? ... or, better, your own?" Treize touched his face.

Zechs caught his wrist in an unyielding grip, thinking in some too dutiful part of his mind that he could be court-martialed for such treatment of his general. "What are your intentions, Treize?"

Unperturbed, Treize smiled and leaned in farther. "I believe I've already asked the same of you."

"And I answered."

"Only vaguely."

Zechs had no room for smiles or games. "Perhaps that is the only answer I have."

They were close now, Treize ghosting his lips across pale skin. "Perhaps I could give you cause for another..." he laid a chaste kiss on pliant but unresponsive lips, "or at least one..." another, "a little less... muddled."

Zechs breathed a little heavier despite himself. "This is not easy for me."

"I know."

He swallowed and, pride be damned, turned his head away from Treize's warm mouth. "Then let me be."

A pale neck presented itself when Zechs turned and Treize took it as an invitation for more kisses. "You ask too much."

"As do you." Zechs replied, twisting farther from the man's lips.

Treize stepped away, examining Zechs's face for the sincerity of his words. The answer he found was not the one he wanted. He moved again, back toward his chair and sat. Had Zechs turned his head a moment sooner he would have seen a look on the general's face that no other had: unguarded, vulnerable, infinitely wounded.

Presently, his expression was again that of indifference. "Say your piece, then, and leave me. I grow tired of your indecision, young Merquise."

Zechs might have looked stricken had he been capable of that look, instead, he showed only mild interest. "By that reaction, Treize, am I to assume the worst of your intentions? I truly believed them more honorable than that."

"I remember a time when your actions were not so at odds with your desires, Zechs." He picked up a pen and made notes on a report less than a foot from where Zechs still sat. "Whatever was left of that impetuous boy is gone."

Zechs was quiet. "As well it should be. It did not serve me well."

Silence hung heavy and palpable between the two. Memories swarmed and stung.

Treize spoke first. "You fool."

"Truly."

Time stretched.

"Have you decided upon your purpose for this visit?" Treize asked in the tone of a man who could not be bothered, finding more and more interest in the wild notes he made in the reports.

Zechs was suddenly unaffected. He spoke as if reporting mission details. His posture straightened but he remained seated. "There was never a question. It concerns a promise you made to me many years ago. I want you to know, I still hold you to it."

"I believe I've made a few promises to you in our time, Zechs, which do you mean?"

Zechs didn't hesitate. "I die first, remember?"

Treize dismissed this with a wave of his hand. "A dismal child's fantasy."

"But a promise... and one you are obligated to uphold to the best of your abilities."

"Nonsense."

"Are you so dishonorable?"

"You speak of yourself, Zechs. I owe no obligations to one so deceitful."

"I have deceived no one."

"Then I have promised nothing."

Silence.

"... then I have no choice."

Zechs stood then, moving nearer to his seated general, bending to face the other man at less than an arm's length. And Treize did not flinch, even when Zechs touched his face, then kissed him.

+

When Gretchen left me to fetch something from the kitchen, and when grandfather was busy with his friends, I snuck behind the man from grandfather's pictures and watched him. He watched the rest of the party for a while, like he was looking for something. And just when I started to wonder if that something was me, he turned around and found me behind the potted ferns. I wasn't afraid, though. I walked right out from behind there and asked him who he was. He looked so sad, momma. I don't remember him looking that way in any of grandfather's pictures. Maybe it was because the phantom was not with him. Maybe I was rude to ask. I don't know. But I apologized like Gretchen says is the nice thing to do, and he smiled at me. I liked his smile. I think he might have been a nice man, but just then, Gretchen came from the kitchens and practically snatched me from where I was standing! When I looked back, the man was not smiling, and neither was I.

+

"What is this madness?" Treize asked him, cradling Zechs's head in both hands, wanting an answer, taking kisses at will.

"If you cannot promise me that you will live... then I cannot promise myself to have this later."

"This?" ... more kisses, caresses...

"You."

The kiss deepened and Zechs was suddenly on his knees, moving between Treize's, seizing the man in a tight embrace. Hungry mouths, like thunderstorms, collided in a frenzy, ravenous, desperate and bruising. Treize had been right to call this madness.

"How do we stop this?" Treize asked suddenly, not halting his ministrations but speaking around them, his voice, like Zechs's, breathy and urgent.

"Do you want me to stop?" Zechs asked, not at all serious, and was surprised to find that, when Treize next spoke, the general was with him on the floor, kneeling, too, the epitome of aristocracy on his perfect knees, yet no less dignified for the gesture. They no longer kissed. Kisses seemed too little comfort for Treize, who held Zechs in an almost desperate embrace, as if to absorb him, pressed against the other man at every possible plane of their bodies.

Against soft, blond hair, Treize continued. "...how do we stop pretending that every meeting is our first, that we are strangers... enemies in our ignorance?"

"Perhaps we cannot. Perhaps we change too quickly to maintain familiarity..." Zechs knew that was not true, but the real reason escaped him. "...or perhaps it's the hunt you truly love and not the thing at all."

"You are a fool."

"As are you."

Leaning back, Treize again took Zechs's face in his hands. Reverence shone in his eyes... and something brighter besides. "But the hunt was over long ago... the kill has only just begun."

"And you expect to attain me with that kind of talk?"

"I believe I already have you."

They kissed again with renewed vigor. As with all things, anticipation fueled their fires, and tender touches soon led to frantic ones.

Zechs panted heavily under his general's attentive hands. "... not here... Treize, please."

"Certainly not." Treize replied, though he did not slow his caresses. "I'll have you on silk sheets or I'll not have you at all."

"Truly?"

"No, that's a lie... I'd have you in a mobile suit if it were the only option available... but it is my desire. And I am a man who is accustom to having his desires met."

"And I to serving them... a prince on his knees."

Treize smiled against warm flesh. "Ahh... the best kind..."

+

And that is what I've done this week, momma. I promise to write again next week. I wonder when you will tire of hearing me go on about nothing... I wonder how long I will have nothing to go on about. Gretchen says you would have loved to listen to me go on about anything. I think she's right, but I wish I could hear you say so.

It's a long walk back to the house, I should go soon. The gardens are so pretty this time of year, but you know that. The roses you planted are blooming so brightly! I wish I'd been here to help. They would remind me of you, I'm sure.

Please give my love to uncle Trowa. Of course, give yourself twice as much.

Your daughter,

Mariemeia Barton

end

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