Peace Children + Friday (cont)

+

Duo's mouth was full. Overflowing. He reached up and wiped a dab of creamy white from his lower lips. "Mmmm," he sighed. Wufei watched, his expression slightly skeptical. Duo took an even bigger bite of the ice cream a pretty maid had given them in return for a few of Duo's extra-special smiles. Bet I know what he's thinking, Duo thought. He's wondering how this goofy kid can be a killer. He took yet another bite. Good.

He let his eyes wander over to Heero, who was eating in neat spoonfuls. Duo weighed the pleasure found from the cold confection to the pleasure he would receive from Heero's look of astonishment, and grinned. Pulling back a loaded spoon, he aimed and fired. A blob of ice cream landed on his lover's nose.

Heero's hand froze. His eyes narrowed. And a second later Duo found an entire bowl of ice cream on his lap. "Geez! Heero! You're not supposed to do it all at once!" Duo protested.

"Hn. Why not?"

"Because now you're unarmed," Duo grinned. "And I'm not." He loaded his spoon again.

Heero looked at Wufei. Considered.

The Dragon pulled his bowl to his chest. "No. Nuh-uh. Never."

Heero took a step closer, still eyeing the bowl.

"Heero, this is not the honorable path," Wufei said, his voice rising a bit. Sounded like a girl, Duo noted cheerfully. The side of Heero's mouth moved up. Almost -- sort of -- like a smile.

"Think of justice -- " Heero darted. Wufei smirked. And the Odin found himself wearing a bowl of ice cream.

Duo cackled and set shots flying at both of them.

They exchanged glances.

And advanced.

"Argh! No! No more!" Duo begged several minutes later, pushing frantically at Heero's tickling hands. Wufei, who was making ice cream designs on Duo's squirming face, went right on doing so. "Please!" he begged, breathless from laughing.

Wufei sat back, admiring his work before it melted away. "Should we show mercy?"

"Hn," said Heero, and leaned over to kiss the ice cream from Duo's nose. . . and cheeks. . . and lips. When he sat back up, Duo was staring at him with an expression that seemed almost. . . unguarded. Shock, perhaps, soul deep. He looked over at Wufei, who was deliberately ignoring them.

"Great!" Duo said, sitting up and moving away from Heero quickly. "Sugar! Now we can get some work done!"

"You might want to change first," Wufei pointed out.

"Right, right," the braided boy babbled. "Clean clothes -- one of my favorite things. So who's my escort this time? God knows we can't have me alone for three whole seconds!"

"I'll go," Heero said, standing and leading the way out the door. Duo said something meaningless to Wufei and bounded after him.

"That was fun, right, Heero? I mean, the sugar and the games and all that stuff. I bet you did that all the time when you were a kid! Oh -- look -- Relena hasn't moved my stuff yet! I betcha she will before tonight! Wouldn't want me this close to Hilde, after all! She's been annoying me for years -- tonight I might snap!"

"I'll have them move your things to my room," Heero said, sitting on the bed.

Duo, shirt halfway over his head, paused, and then shrugged, dropping the shirt on the floor. His face when it emerged had a completely different look on it. "You assume a lot, don't you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Maybe I'd rather sleep with Wufei. After all. . . you. . . I've already had." He dropped his pants. "Maybe I'm bored."

"Maybe I can promise to keep you entertained," Heero said, mouth dry as he watched the lithe boy move across the room.

"Maybe I don't think you have it in you," Duo purred, loosening his long hair.

"Maybe I want to," Heero managed.

Duo, hair unbounded, walked toward him, and then dropped onto the bed. Crawling Heero's way -- all sorts of interesting bits dangling -- he looked like a god. Heero took a deep breath. "Maybe," Duo breathed, "you weren't that good a fuck."

"I'm good at everything I do," Heero said, with no pride. Just truth. "Give me at least a day to learn."

Duo's fingers found the fastening on Heero's shirt. "Maybe I just wanted to fuck a noble."

"Yeah, and maybe I just wanted to fuck a whore."

Duo pulled back.

"Or maybe I wanted to. . . make love with you."

"Whores don't make love. Nobody's got that much money."

"Why don't you stop playing with me and tell me what the hell the problem is?"

"The problem is, I'm not your lover. Just because I fucked you last night. . . and this morning. . .and just because I'm about to do it again. . . that doesn't mean jack shit. Got it?"

"Hmm," Heero said. Duo studied his face and then reached for the hem of his shirt.

"I don't want you kissing me in public."

Astonished, Heero looked at the other boy. "Wufei's hardly public."

"I don't care. I don't need that. Relena already thinks I'm killing her court -- I don't need her thinking that I'm corrupting them, too. Especially not you -- her pretty boy." Duo shifted a bit, and Heero searched for air. "I don't mind this me/you bedroom thing -- but it is a bedroom thing."

Heero caught his hand as it went for the pants. "Are you ashamed of me?"

Duo arched an eyebrow. "I'm a thief, a murderer, a bastard who got found on the streets like garbage. I run and I hide and when I have to I lie. Why the hell would I be ashamed of you?" He placed a firm kiss on the other boy's lips. "This is good sex, Heero. Don't ruin it by making it more than that, and don't ruin your life over it. You'll be a Clan Lord long after I'm gone."

"Maybe," said Heero, his lips on his lover's throat. "Maybe. Now shut up and fuck me."

Duo dragged his pants all the way off. "One good fuck, coming right up."

+

Making love. Duo shut his eyes and listened to Heero's breathing.

The other boy squirmed closer. "We may not be saving the world, but if it ends this is the way to go," he said sleepily. "I told Wufei we'd be right back," Duo sighed. "It's been an hour. We're going to be late for dinner if we don't move right this second."

"I doubt we're invited," Heero said, tracing circles on his lover's abdomen. "I don't mind if you don't."

Duo shifted his head so that his nose was in Heero's hair. He inhaled deeply. "You're something else, Heero." A thought occurred to him and he smiled against Heero's head. "And speaking of something else. . . ."

+

"Oi! Roa! Set us up, would you?"

The woman -- girl, really -- behind the bar looked up and squealed. "Aye and if it ain't me own darlin'! Where you been, love?"

Duo made his way through the crowded public house -- Heero followed closely. Very closely. "I been missing you, of course," he said, and laughed when the girl leaned over the bar and smacked a kiss on his lips.

"Aye and you're a sweet liar," she said. "What'll it be?"

Heero felt a certain warmth on the back of his neck -- he turned to look behind him. A man was eyeing him up and down -- when their eyes met, he lifted his glass and lowered one eye in a lusty wink. Heero turned back to Duo quickly. And edged a bit closer.

"And who's this, then?" Roa asked, setting a drink before Heero. She gave the boy a good look. "You're a pretty one, aren't you?"

Heero wasn't sure if he should nod -- shake his head -- say something -- return the compliment. It wasn't until his hand closed around the hilt of his knife that he realized it had moved.

"He just followed me in," Duo said. "Never seen him before in my life." He laughed at the look on Heero's face. "Nah, he's with me." He ran a hand possessively over Heero's hair -- Heero glared at him.

"Betraying me again, lover?" Roa asked with a smile.

"Aye, because your man wouldn't cut my balls off in a second if I glanced the wrong way," Duo said, and comically leered down her shirt. She laughed again and pushed him back, then smiled at Heero.

"He's a bit of an odd one but we like him well enough. They call me Roa. Always glad to meet me darlin's darlin. He treatin' you good?"

Heero watched Duo drain a glass. "Well enough."

A heavy arm clasped around his shoulder. "I wager I could treat you better."

A second later, the man was on the floor, staring up in astonishment. "It was just a suggestion!" he protested, his face very red.

Heero looked down at him, his foot still on the man's throat. "Hn."

Duo's eyes were wide. "Calm down!" He pulled Heero back. "Last thing we need is too much attention!" He turned to the man and offered him a hand. "Forgive my friend, Voss. He's a bit. . . touchy."

"Not as touchy as I'd like him to be!" Voss grumbled good naturedly. "Does he do that to you every time you lay a finger on him? If so, you'd best watch where you lay your cock!"

"I'll mind my own cock, thank you," Duo said, "and you mind yours -- gods know it hasn't lain anywhere but in your own hand for too long a time!"

"Some of us can't afford anyone as pretty as you, Darlin'," Voss said, wrapping his arm around Duo's shoulders. "Unless. . . for old time's sake. . . ."

Heero forced himself to stay still. This room. . . in some ways it was worse than the palace. No flowers, at least -- but there was music -- and sweat -- and smoke. And people. Lots of undisciplined people.

"So you be a client of Darlin's?" Roa asked comfortably, pushing a glass a little closer to Heero. "From what I hear he's worth every penny."

For a startled second he wondered -- "you mean in bed?" Roa was taken aback. "Aye, and what else would I mean? If darlin' could do anything else I might die of shock! It's like my father always said -- some was born to fight, some was born to love, and some was born to drink. My father fell into that last category, you know. Aye, and I'd bet you're a fighter yourself."

"And you?" Heero asked.

She shrugged. "I don't mind drinking, and I'll fight if it comes down to it, but I'd ruther have love any day." She paused a second. "Or night."

"Aye and you might have to polish your fighting skills, Roa," a man down the bar called out. "I hear that the king is too sick to wield the weapon. We'll be part of Oz before spring!"

"Aye and I'd be in the streets fighting before it came to that," Roa said, flicking a towel at him. "And so would you, Hamish! If I had to push you there myself!" She ran the towel over the sticky bar -- as far as Heero could tell, it made little difference. "Myself, I'm not so sure that even if the king -- gods bless his fat ass-was strong he could do anything with the weapon."

"You don't believe in it?" Heero asked.

Roa considered. "I believe in the gods because I'm not a foolish woman, whatever my man -- or yours -- might say. I believe that the king does a decent job -- this bar here is half mine and the law will defend my right to it. But as for the gods favoring the king?"

She shrugged. "That's good enough for old stories but when it comes to King Treize -- gods curse his fat ass -- I'd rather have Darlin's boss. You hear that, darlin'? You tell old Solo to send one of his men after Treize!"

"You paying, Roa?" Duo asked, back to the bar for another drink. "For a kiss I'd do it myself!"

"Aye and that'd be a waste of a kiss!" she laughed. "Just because you belong to Solo doesn't mean you can talk like him! You'd do better to take up verse and write with the Poet, luv. You're a lover. Not a fighter."

"If I can love you," Duo said, kissing her again, "I'll be content with that. Have you seen the Poet lately?"

"Not since she and Solo were here the other day," Roa said, giving a glass a cursory wipe before filling it for another customer. "Yesterday, it was. She's been gone a lot lately."

"Aye, and the king's taken a fancy to her poetry and set her up as the court poet," Duo teased. "I'm waiting for him to a take a fancy to mine."

"You'd have a shorter wait waiting for him to take a fancy to something else of yours," another barmaid said, smiling at Duo.

"I've given up my fine trade," Duo declared, "and decided to take a wife." He pulled Heero to his side -- the smell of alcohol was strong on him. "Here he is!" He tilted his head a bit and kissed Heero, full on the lips, but his eyes didn't close. There was a challenge there, Heero thought dizzily, a dare to prove that he was more than just the other boy's toy -- he wasn't sure if Duo knew it or not, but there was a challenge there. He closed his own eyes and kissed his lover back for all he was worth.

Perfect soldiers never backed down from challenges. He pulled back, opened his eyes, and was surprised to see Duo watching him with something deeper in his eyes than usual -- fear? Disquiet?. Heero smiled.

Mission accepted.

+

Relena, who had managed to get through dinner without having to talk to Dorothy Catalonia even once, sighed in relief as they moved to a small parlor. Everything seemed to be going well -- except for the absence of two of her Clan Heirs. Other than that, though. . . she looked around the room.

They seemed like a group. Wufei and Zechs and Catherine discussed arms; Quatre and Hilde were laughing at something; Trowa was flattering Meiran ridiculously; Sally was managing to keep a conversation going between Lucrezia and Dorothy.

As for Heero. . . Relena wasn't stupid. She'd seen the looks Wufei, Trowa, and Quatre had exchanged before Quatre had diplomatically said that Heero was guarding Duo. She had fair suspicion that guarding was only part of it. For a minute, then, Relena had wished that she were a man, and a foolish one -- that she could flirt with Death and laugh like he laughed and hold Heero in his cold arms like he was probably doing right now.

As for Faiza -- her body lay in state. She would be cremated in three days time. And they would all stand there, their faces polite with masks of grief, their bodies stiff with masks of disdain. She wished she knew that anyone -- just one of them -- was thinking. Her eyes fell on the face of the man she had yet to call brother.

He looks like me, she realized with a start, around the eyes. Right then he was laughing and leaning forward -- she could not remember the last time she had behaved likewise. Relena was seized with a sudden desire to know him, to be part of this group. All around her she could feel them coming together, but she still stood alone in the center of it.

She started towards her brother.

The door opened, and Relena was startled to see her father. She curtsied, briefly, abruptly. "Father -- "

"We are very unhappy with the news we have just been brought," he said without preamble. "Our informants give us good reason, though, for what we are here to do. One of our Clan Heirs has died -- we grieve this loss, but not as much as we grieve the loss of the Heir who was her murderer."

Quatre was frozen, his face ashen, his lips slightly parted.

All the laughter fell from the room and was replaced with an awful foreboding. Relena looked at the seven Heirs before her and saw that not a single one of them was looking at another. All eyes were glued to her father.

"It is with great sorrow and greater anger that we have come to arrest the traitor in our home," her father said, and gestured to the soldiers that followed him. "Arrest Zechs Marquise."

Zechs stood, every inch of his body furious. "I know not what you're talking of, sire," he said, spitting the last word with a hatred that gave it double meaning.

The king stared regally down at the boy who had his face. "We have proof that you have conspired with other lands against us, that you have arranged the death of your cousin the lady Faiza."

"With all due respect, your majesty," Zechs said, no respect at all in his voice, "you are mistaken."

"We are rarely mistaken," the king said softly, his eyes on Zech's hand, which rested on his sword hilt. "We have come in person to arrest you. It is more than you deserve."

Zechs' hand tightened.

+

"They think you're a whore?"

"Yep. A fairly decent one -- explains away any money I manage to have."

"Why don't they call you by your name?"

His lover shrugged. "Didn't have one when I was little. But I used to tag along with Solo, and they always teased that I was his only permanent fixture -- this was before we picked up the rest of the gang -- so they called me Solo's Darlin'."

"He lied to you, then."

"Either that or Roa did," Duo said cheerfully.

"She has no reason to lie."

"No, probably not."

"So he lied to you."

"Most likely."

Heero stopped still in the street outside the palace. "Why aren't you angry?"

Duo shrugged. "Solo usually has a reason for what he does. I don't know -- I just do what he says, for the most part, and we get along fine."

"But he lied to you!"

"Either that or he didn't want to tell me anything with you there," Duo said, starting to walk again.

Heero followed him. A minute later, he spoke again. "You emulate him."

Duo glanced over, puzzled. "Yep. Guess so. Always have."

"Why?"

His nose wrinkled. "I guess. . . because he's perfect." Duo ticked off items on his fingers. "He survives, he succeeds, he brings people together, he protects them. He saved me."

Heero shut his mouth on the pithy comment he'd been about to utter. "Saved you?"

"Saved my life. Took me in."

"He made you a whore and a killer."

Duo thought about that for a minute. "Aye, and I suppose he did. But I never stopped him."

"How can you take this so lightly?" Heero said, almost screaming.

Duo seemed perplexed by the question. "Well. . . because he's my family. And because when it comes down to it he didn't make me anything -- he only gave me the means to become what the gods had made me to be. I kill, sure. I'm good at it, too." He rubbed a hand over his forearm as if cold. "It's not exactly the first time he's lied to me. I'm not saying I won't beat the crap out of him later -- or at least try -- but I'm not going to cry over it."

"Those people in there -- they don't know you're -- "

"Of course not," Duo said, laughing at the question. "As far as they're concerned I'm Solo's Darlin', no more, no less."

They were approaching the palace now.

"And are you?"

"His?" Duo considered it, then smiled. Hungrily. "Not tonight."

They climbed in through the window and found the Poet waiting for them. She was covered in blood.

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