Title: Peace Children 4/8ish: Wednesday
Author: Zillie
category: AU Fantasy
warnings: angst, language, sex and/as weapons, Duo getting discovered, things like that.
rating: R for language and some sexual stuff
pairings: 1+2, 3+4 and thank you so much to all of you who sent me feedback--I enjoy it so much--and Danielle, it was so nice to hear from you again. Confession of weakness: I get all self-conscious and don't wanna post any more until at least _somebody_ has indicated that it wasn't total crap, so. . . send feedback!

Peace Children + Wednesday

Wufei picked up a sword, testing it. The morning was too bright, he thought. At home in the mountains -- ah, they had mornings just like it. Especially after they had indulged too much the night before. He swung the sword.

"You handle it like an infant," Meiran said derisively.

"Lady, no infant could lift this sword," he retorted. "I doubt you could."

She sneered and picked up a heavier sword. "I can do anything."

"Except make pleasant conversation."

"No reason I should bother, with you. You couldn't tell pleasant anything from pigs."

"I have known pigs more pleasant than you."

"You've known pigs, all right. I hear things about your mother. . . ."

Wufei swung around. "That was not an honorable thing to say. But I suppose there is no honor among swine."

Meiran smirked. "Yep, that's what they say about your mother all right."

Heero permitted a small eye roll and stretched a bow. Sally, beside him, pointed out the wood and the style. He half-listened. Wufei and Meiran bickered, Zechs was examining the swords, Noin was doing quite well against a footman with a quarterstaff. Where was that boy?

"Would you like to try it, my lord?" Sally asked.

"No," Heero said, pushing the bow away. He strode over to the maces and began testing them, his eyes still on the door. Faiza and Quatre appeared. "I'm just a bit sore," Quatre was saying. "Don't fuss. It's probably just the ride catching up with me."

Sally trotted over to meet them. Heero heard something about music -- a violin -- and then Quatre bowed to Sally and left again. Faiza carried a scimitar -- she began to stretch. Heero sighed.

The Lady Catherine appeared, for once without her leonine escort, and began to stretch as well. She was, Heero noted, remarkably flexible. She had a brace of knives at her waist and several more at each wrist. He wondered if she was any good with them.

Finally -- Hilde! Heero moved closer.

The girl slid a glance over her cousin Lucrezia and moved towards the stretching girls. She seemed to be alone. Then she paused, and looked over her shoulder, and frowned. And beckoned. And there he was.

Heero picked up a sword -- not the equal of his own -- and smiled.

"I hate women," Duo muttered, but he followed Hilde into the practice courtyard. It was filled with nobles and their pretty toys. He had a feeling that somebody would take this opportunity to try and beat the shit out of him, and he wasn't sure that fighting back was a good idea. He sighed and looked around.

Ah, shit. He should have stayed in bed.

"You know swords?" Heero asked.

"Not personally, no," Duo said. "I mean, I've heard of them, seen them around, but I wouldn't call us friends or anything."

The boy didn't blink. Or smile. Or anything. "What do you fight with?"

Duo raised his hands.

The boy smiled.

Duo winced.

They got into fighting position. Heero was smiling now, a feral grin that showed far too much of his teeth.

"You're beautiful when you smile," Duo said, just as Sally told them to "start!"

Heero's mouth dropped open. Duo swept his feet out from under him easily and won the first point.

"Hn," Heero threatened.

Duo's smile was fierce. "I love it when you talk dirty to me." This time he found himself on his back, the air gone from his lungs. He stared at the sky a minute, then hopped up.

"That's one for me and one for you, Hee-baby," he said, circling the young lord. Their eyes were locked. "What do I get if I win?" He grinned. "More interestingly, what do I get if I lose?"

"You talk too much," Heero said, his eyes narrowed.

"Not when I have better things to do with my mouth," Duo said, and lunged. Heero sidestepped and tried a well-placed kick, but the boy was like a shadow and somehow behind him. He threw Duo over his shoulder -- with a flick of his braid the boy landed on his feet. "You've got to try harder than that," he mocked.

"I can do harder," Heero promised, catching the boy in a hold.

"I can hardly wait," Duo breathed, and Heero found himself on the ground again, not quite sure how it had happened.

"Well fought, my lord," Sally said, but her smile was for Duo.

"Well fought," he echoed, staring at the victor.

"It was a lucky point," Duo said, tossing his braid over his shoulder.

"We'll have to try it again. Perhaps with swords," Heero said. He didn't like losing -- he wasn't used to it, but the few times he had lost before he had burned with shame. Today. . . he pushed his thoughts aside and took Duo's outstretched hand.

"I'm not very good with swords," Duo said doubtfully.

"And I'm not very good with wrestling," Heero told him.

Duo's grin was flirtatious -- Heero thought. "I could help you out. Give you some. . . private lessons."

"Hn," Heero said, his face impassive.

Duo shrugged -- no skin off his back. He turned and began to walk towards the others, who were watching something else by this time.

"Duo."

"Hmm?"

Heero watched those eyes widen inquisitively and wondered. "What about your prize? You did win."

"Oh," said Duo. "Right." He dashed back, then away again.

Heero touched his hand to his lips and wondered harder.

+

"I beg pardon for my cousin's absence, Your Highness," Faiza said, sweeping a curtsey. "He was sleeping quite soundly." He had fallen asleep right after he'd gotten back from wherever it was he'd gone off to this morning while the rest of them had played with weapons.

Relena nodded. "We shall miss him, but we look forward to his presence in the music room this afternoon too much to begrudge him rest."

Faiza thanked the princess and took her seat.

Catherine watched the woman. She was as dark as her cousin was fair, and as exquisite in her way as he was in his. They were a lovely group, these Peace Children of His Majesty's. And, to her way of thinking, the prince they called Trowa was the most beautiful of all.

She wondered what he remembered. If he knew that his eyes were like his mother's -- like her mother's as well -- and that their cousin Vic had hair that fell the same way. She wondered if he still liked animals, still loved music, still drew silly pictures of people he knew. She wondered if he would care that upstairs in her room she had several pictures he had drawn when he was little.

His eyes seemed so dead to her, she thought as she watched him chat casually with the princess. He drank far too much, and his laugh sounded like it was in chains. Her sad gaze must have attracted him, for he looked up, right at her, and then let his eyes wander to her low-cut dress. He smiled -- a bit more suggestively than was polite -- and raised his cup to her. She flushed and looked down.

"You didn't bring the furballs today," Duo said. She was suddenly intensely glad that he sat beside her.

"Oh -- no," Catherine agreed. "I left them in my room. I thought they might be, well," she shrugged, "out of place."

"Things of beauty and courage are never out of place," Duo said, his eyes making his meaning clear, "no matter if they look like beasts or wear the finest fashions."

She flushed again.

"Me, I'm a cat person," he said. "Love them. Some people like dogs, and that's fine, but I figure I'm too much like a dog myself. Friendly, loud, hairy." He tossed his braid as if to illustrate his point. "I like cats, I guess, because I want to be like them. Lean and mysterious and beautiful. But I'm a dog." He grinned, panted a bit with his tongue hanging out, and she laughed.

"Then I shall believe you to be loyal and faithful," she told him.

"Oh, no, don't," Duo said. "I'm not one of those good heroic dogs. Just a mangy cur."

"Man's best friend, at least," Catherine told him. "Or woman's."

"Where I come from we don't say dogs are man's best friends," Duo mused. Across the table Hilde shot him a warning glance but he ignored her. "I always heard that a man's best friend was his right -- "

"Duo, won't you try some of this lovely, um, gray stuff?" Hilde said loudly.

Duo looked at her, then back at his hand, which he had been about to use to illustrate his point, and shrugged. "Sure!" He turned to Catherine again. "That's another way I'm like a dog. I never turn down food." He deliberately licked the gray stuff -- nasty, by the way -- from his spoon with a pout.

If Heero Yuy wanted to watch him, he would get a good show.

Heero followed him into the hall. "What are you doing here?" he asked quietly.

Duo whirled around. "I -- what do you mean? My sweet cousin Hilde -- "

"Isn't your cousin, is she?" Heero demanded, moving closer. "Though maybe that thief in the markets is."

Duo's smile didn't alter. "I think you may have had too much to drink."

"I'm not stupid," Heero told him softly. "I saw him that night. Were you there, too? How did you convince the lady Hilde to bring a thief into the palace, Duo? Is that your name?"

Raised voices warned of the approach of Wufei and Meiran, who as usual were embroiled in an argument. Duo bit off a curse and swung Heero into the nearest room, looking around to make sure it was empty. He pushed Heero against the door. "What is it you want from me, huh?"

Heero simply stared at him.

Duo moved his pelvis against Heero's. "Is that it? You want me in your bed and you think that making up some story about my cousin is going to do the trick?"

"We both know I'm telling the truth," Heero said, his chin raised.

"Maybe," Duo gritted, "maybe you are. So what? What do I have to do to keep you quiet? Get down on my knees right here? Or kill you? What's it going to be?" He kissed the other boy roughly. "Deep throat or slit throat?"

Heero jerked away. "I want to know who you're here to hurt." Duo pressed his mouth to the other boy's throat. "Is that what you want?"

"I want you to promise me you're not going to hurt anyone here."

A hand slipped down his body. "Are you sure you don't want this?"

"I want to hear you swear your loyalty to the king."

"Don't you want me beneath you tonight?"

"I don't want your body," Heero gasped.

Duo ground against him. "I think you do. In fact, I'm pretty damn positive."

"I don't want any body that gets bartered for safety," Heero gasped.

Duo suddenly swung away. "What the fuck? The whole death before dishonor thing?"

"Sex shouldn't be used to keep you in food or comfort or -- "

"Or in life? What should sex be for, then, Heero, since you know so much about it?"

Heero found himself pinned to the door by those eyes. "Love," he croaked.

"Love?"

"Love."

"Love! Fuck that! I've never been in love, Heero." The name was said in a mocking tone. "But I've been in bed with plenty of people. And hell, yes, I'll have sex to keep myself from going hungry or to keep somebody -- especially me -- safe. If I ever fall in love, I'd fucking proclaim it from the rooftops like the fucking miracle it is, but until then, Heero, I'd just as soon stay safe, healthy, and whole, even if it means I have to fuck my brains out to do it."

He turned again, looking furious. "You know why I beat you this morning, Heero?"

"You said it was luck."

"I lied. I could have kicked your ass in a second. I could do it now."

Heero's hands slipped to the knives he wore beneath his shirt.

"Don't bother." Duo's voice was ice cold. "Or, better yet, why don't you try it? You've never killed anyone, have you, Heero?"

"No," Heero said. He found he was sweating.

"No, you haven't, and nobody's ever tried to kill you, have they? Didn't think so. All your battles have been safe, with people who call you lord and master -- no chance of them slipping a bit, right? You don't know what it's like to fight and know that you're a hair from bleeding to death. You don't know what it's like to see a body and know that you've killed the person who used to be in there. You don't know what it's like to kill, and you don't know what it's like to fuck. So until you do, little boy, don't judge me." He reached out to push Heero aside.

And found his arm tightly gripped. "Are you here to hurt the princess?"

Duo stared at him, then smirked. "You like her?"

Heero was taken aback.

"Haven't you noticed that she likes you?" He leaned a little closer. "Haven't you noticed that she watches you? She thinks you're pretty." His breath was close enough to stir Heero's hair. "Hell, you are pretty."

"Why are you here?" Heero asked, managing to keep his voice level. He thought that maybe this flirtatious boy with his teasing eyes was the most dangerous thing he had ever seen. . . and he thought that maybe he had a better idea, now, of what it was like to know that somebody could kill you in a heartbeat.

"No reason, Heero," Duo said, retreating beneath a smiling mask again. "Have a few drinks, maybe fuck a little. To slip something pretty in my pockets and dance with the princess and slash a few dresses because nobody who goes around taking away sight should look so sweet. No death, no stealing of the crown jewels, no great plot against the crown. Just a little holiday, Heero. And you?" He brushed his hand along Heero's body as he spoke, and then punctuated his last question with a full on grope. He had the pleasure of seeing the other boy's eyes go wide.

"I. . . am. . . peace," the soldier said.

"And I," Duo whispered in his ear, "am death." He kissed him, on the mouth, and then turned and hopped out a window. "See you around."

+

[cont]