Peace Children 8/8: Saturday
Author: Zillie
category: AU Fantasy
pairings: 1+2, 3+4, light 5+M, even lighter 6+9
warnings--PLEASE READ: this fic contains the death of a minor character and what is the most explicit sex scene I've ever written (which isn't saying much). Please be warned that though the sex is still a little on the euphemistic side, it does incorporate a sort of violence that may not agree with you--not s&m or bondage, but violence nonetheless. I don't think it'll be _too_ bad to read--but it does sort of weird me out that I wrote it. . . .

Peace Children + Saturday

Outside the bells struck the new day.

Duo cursed and moved, quickly, quickly, knife in one hand, concern in the other. "Poe!"

She smiled weakly. "Aye and it's always the ones you love, ain't it though?" She pressed a hand to her side. "You can put the knife away, Duo. I haven't got the strength to stab you." She took a shallow breath. "I didn't know. . . ."

Duo slipped the knife back into his sleeve -- still less than a thought away -- and took a look at her wound. It made him pale. "Gods. . . Poe. . . who?" He looked over at Heero with the closest thing to true emotion the other boy had ever seen on his lover's face.

"My grandfather," she said, with a faint smile. "My own grandfather."

Heero moved forward, his face guarded. "That's where I know you. You're the image of your mother, Lady Sylvia."

Her voice was gracious, lacking all its usual gutter flavor. "So I have been told, my lord, by many. I fear she suffers by the comparison."

Duo sat back and inched the knife a little closer to his fingers. "You'll need bandages, Poe. Hot water. What was it?"

Heero nodded and went to a chest that stood against the wall.

"Knife," she said, and winced. "Through the shoulder when I confronted him about his meeting with Lady Faiza so shortly before her death. When I arranged it I had," and here she shuddered unconsciously, the motion causing a new flow of blood to soak the cloth she held against her shoulder, "no idea. I thought. . . ."

"We can't ring for hot water," Heero said, coming to kneel beside his lover, "or anything else. "Good thing my family never travels without a few essentials." He opened the small box in his hands and quickly, efficiently, began to bandage her room. "You'll survive it, lady."

"I can't move my fingers," she said, eyes wide but determinedly brave. Duo reached up as if to brush away a tear and she flinched. "I'm all right," she said, "really."

"So tell me about your grandfather," Duo said, leaving a hand gently on her face. The sweet gesture was completely at odds with the look in his eyes.

"General Noventa," Heero said. "The king's spymaster, if I'm not mistaken."

"Five years ago he came to me and asked me to help him. He said he needed a child, one he could trust absolutely. When I agreed, he told me that the Weapon was missing."

Heero's eyes darkened. "Five years ago?"

The Poet -- Sylvia -- nodded, and bit her lip against the pain that caused. "Aye and he knew it'd been missing for a while even then. He had some reason to be curious about the activities of a thief in the capital; it seemed like a perfect opportunity for him since that same thief seemed to take in a child now and then. Had his own little stable of thieves. And, I later found out, assassins. So I told the people at court I was retreating to my family's estate because I found court life too busy to allow me time for my poetry, told my parents that I was going to stay with my grandfather to help him out in his old age, cut off all my hair and learned to talk right, and then went out into the markets." She grinned humorlessly. "I was supposed to find you. Instead you found me."

Duo's hand tightened on his knife as he remembered exactly how he had found her. "You gave a lot for your job, didn't you?"

Her eyes seemed to beg him for. . . something indefinable. "I have always adored my grandfather," she said softly, and winced as Heero tightened a bandage. "I simply had not realized until today what a fool I was."

"What happened?" Heero asked, closing his box. "You'd do best not to move that for a while. Stay as still as possible."

"My grandfather has accused Zechs Marquise," Sylvia said. "He has a great deal of information the king does not -- the king would not know about the Weapon being missing if one of his generals hadn't had a suspicion. My grandfather did not intend to tell the king until the day he held the weapon in his hand -- at which point he would have become king himself."

"Why?" Heero demanded.

"My grandfather. . . was to the king's father. . . what my lord Zechs. . . is to her Highness," Sylvia managed.

"And if he succeeded, you would be his heir, would you not?" Heero asked.

"I suppose I would," she conceded, "but you must believe me. I have no wish for the throne, and no wish to be a traitor. And certainly no wish to see Zechs Marquise die."

"So what do you propose to do?" Duo asked, his voice soft to her ears as flesh to a knife.

"My grandfather will find that I have not stayed where he left me to think things over," she told him, "at which point he will probably do something foolish."

"You've been spying on my family for five years now," Duo said, cutting her off. "Why should I believe you?"

"Because I've been your family for that long," she said simply.

"You going to tell me that you haven't been feeding the law information about us all this time?" He moved his hand, caressing her face, one blink away from her exposed throat.

She kept her head high. "Only sometimes. And sometimes I've fed Solo information. He's known who I was for a while."

Duo drew back, startled.

"Does he have the Weapon?" Heero asked quietly.

"I don't know," Sylvia said, her eyes filled with longing. "He has something, but what it is. . . I don't know."

+

"The evidence is no more than circumstantial," Relena snapped. "This is ridiculous. How could you have simply barged in and arrested him like that?"

Her father's face was red. "You're questioning me?"

"Yes," she said, sweeping forward. "As your daughter and as your subject, I am questioning you! Zechs did not do it! He would not have done such a thing!"

"You have no way to know that!" he bellowed.

"He's my brother!"

The king was shocked into silence.

"He's my brother," Relena said, quietly this time, "and he is innocent."

"You will not say such things in Our presence," her father declared. "In fact, you will leave Our presence immediately and not come back until We are ready to see you."

"In other words, Father, I'm to go to my room," Relena said, and swept a mocking curtsey. "As my lord wishes." She strode angrily from the room.

And paused.

The weak evidence that her father's spymaster had collected. . . one of his sources must be corrupt. She would find the man at once.

Resolved, Relena strode down the corridor. She was not conscious of it, but at that moment she for the first time understood what it would mean to be a queen.

+

Quatre hurried back to where his lover was sleeping. He knew he wasn't supposed to wander around by himself, but Trowa had looked so young as he slept that Quatre hadn't been willing to wake him. So he had simply made a quick trip to deliver a message to Rashid, and now he was looking forward to crawling into bed beside his lover. He had someone to sleep beside.

The knowledge so moved him that he stopped dead in his tracks. It was a mistake.

+

He kissed her as the bells struck one in the morning.

When he pulled back her eyes were startled, wide, and wondering. He felt as though he could not breathe until she gave him something, anything, that would tell him that it was all right. That it would be fine.

She touched a hand to her lips. And then dropped her hand, let her lips curve, and said, "Obviously the Dragon Clan knows how to do a few things right."

And Wufei felt a thousand bonds drop from him. He could not prevent a trace of a smile, a weakness in his voice, as he said, "I would not know -- only the Nataku seem to produce women who inspire such actions."

Meiran laughed in pure delight, and kissed him again.

The door slammed open and they broke apart.

Trowa didn't notice; his eyes scanned the room and then lit on Wufei with a stunning desperation. "Quatre," he said. "Where the hell is Quatre?"

+

"He's short and he's blonde. It was dark."

"So instead of my errant granddaughter you have brought me the heir to the most powerful Clan in the kingdom."

There was a shrug in the other voice. "It matters little. When you have the Weapon they will have no choice to follow you. . . especially with my support. With our support."

Footsteps, nearing him, and then the older man's voice, close by. "Did you have to hit him so hard?"

"He stopped suddenly -- I thought he'd seen me -- and so I ended up hitting him a bit lower than planned." The other speaker sounded completely unconcerned. "You know what they say, old man. If you want it done your way, do it yourself."

Gentle pressure on the back of his head.

"You're all but useless, you and that king of yours."

A staccato laugh. "You'll forgive me if I don't report that to my king. He doesn't take such comments kindly. . . and, after all, there should be good relations between kings, should there not?"

There was a pause. . . unconsciousness. . . and an annoyed sigh. "What do I do with him?"

"You could hardly ask for a better hostage. Among other things, he seems to have struck up a friendship with the thief."

Movement. . . he couldn't be sure. . . he almost recognized the voice. "In any case. . . not part of this. . . can't afford to stand with you if you mess this up."

+

And then the would-be king. "I have blood and right on my side -- in a matter of minutes I will have the Weapon as well. How can I mess this up?"

Wufei exchanged a glance with Meiran. "We haven't seen him," he said. "What happened?"

"When I fell asleep he was right there, beside me," Trowa said, sinking down into a chair. He was completely disheveled and looked half mad. At least. "About ten minutes ago, I woke up, and he was gone. He's in trouble!" and here he rose again, raked a hand through his hair, and started for the door.

"Wait," Wufei said. "Was there any sign of someone taking him from. . . your bed?"

"No, no," Trowa said, shaking his head, "and I'm sure I would have noticed that. He must have gone somewhere -- or thought of something -- or -- I don't know, but I know that something's wrong."

"Have you asked Duo, or Heero?" Meiran asked.

"They were gone earlier," Wufei told her.

Meiran rolled her eyes. "Well, they may be back. Quatre may be with them. Shall we?"

"Trowa and I will go find them," Wufei declared. "You will wait with Lady Catherine and Lady Hilde."

Meiran's lips tightened. "I am not the type of woman who waits."

"But you're the type of woman who could protect my cousin if someone comes for her," Trowa said softly. His red rimmed eyes were sincere; he didn't even notice that he had referred to Catherine as his cousin. "My lady. . . ."

Meiran nodded curtly and stalked to the door. Wufei followed her; Trowa, after looking around once more as if Quatre might suddenly have materialized in the room, went after them.

+

"Your highness!" The guard was surprised.

"I wish to see my lord Marquise," Relena said, dignity permeating every word.

"He was to be kept isolated, your highness," the man said, uncertain.

Relena simply waited.

"But your highness, of course, of course," he said, shaking his head as if to clear it, and opened the door for her.

Zechs Marquise sat on a low stone bench. He looked up as Relena entered the room, but said nothing.

"I apologize for this matter," Relena began.

He raised a sardonic eyebrow. "This small inconvenient matter of my being declared a traitor and a murderer?"

"My father acted foolishly," Relena said; the harshness of her words surprised her, but she rallied and continued. "I believe that he will soon see the error of his ways. I intend to have you out of here as soon as possible."

"With all due respect, your highness, I don't give a fuck what happens next," Zechs said, his head high. "What has already happened is enough. There is dishonor on my house, and the king has treated me in a most despicable manner."

"You have the look of him when you are angry," Relena said, and to her horror her eyes began to fill with tears.

Zechs said nothing, merely watched her.

"I think it is quite understandable that you hate him," Relena said, blinking furiously. "I would. I have wondered for a long time if what they said was true, and when I saw you I knew it was. And then I wondered why he did not call you son, when he looked at you with such feeling in his eyes. He looks at you, and I think that he must have loved your mother very much."

"Loved her so much he abandoned her," Zechs said, turning his head to stare out the small window. The night was blue-black; the clock tower in the distance was visible only because of the glinting hands. It was half past one. "Loved her so much he took the first possible opportunity to throw me in jail."

"If he called you son I would be dead within a year," Relena said simply. Zechs looked at her sharply. "Or so he fears," she added. "There are many, many people who do not want a queen when they could have a king. And to have a king who was a Clan Lord would set the kingdom against itself in such a fashion that I fear it would not survive. You are my brother." The words fell like stars in the sky-dark room. "And my father is your father, but before that, above that, he is a king." Her eyes went to his chains. "And a good one. I fear that in this case he has allowed his fatherly fears to influence his kingly decisions, but I have every faith that he will calm soon."

"I would I shared that belief, your highness."

Relena stepped forward and laid a hand against his cheek. "My brother, I wish you did too."

+

Catherine arched an eyebrow. "So we're supposed to wait and see what happens?" She stroked the restless kitten in her lap. "I think not."

Hilde paced. "I can't believe they expect us to do nothing while something like this is happening. All duty and honor to the kingdom aside -- don't we deserve a little fun, too?"

Meiran let her hand flit to a concealed knife. "I wouldn't say no."

"Did you note the way he reacted in the Chamber?" Catherine asked.

"Duo? We all did," Hilde said dryly. "He has a flair for the dramatic. Not that I think he was making it up -- he simply wouldn't understand the point of not making the most of everything that happens to him."

"No," Catherine said pensively, "Quatre. I was behind him, and when he entered the room he staggered slightly, and was pale. And quiet."

Meiran eyed the other girl. "Would he have gone back there?"

Catherine shrugged. "I don't know why -- but it's more likely that we'd find him there than under my bed."

Hilde grinned. "A quest, then. A quest for a Quatre. Sounds like fun."

+

Heero kept one eye on the Poet and one eye on his lover. Rather, he attempted to keep one eye on his lover.

Unfortunately, the other boy was nowhere to be seen. He bit back a curse as a shadow turned out to be not Duo but a particularly ugly vase.

The Poet gave a rough laugh. "It ain't Duo," she said.

"No," Heero said, briefly wondering who would want a vase covered in bright orange caterpillars. It was ugly enough that he was fairly sure it was quite valuable.

"Aye and I don't mean that," she said. "I mean that Duo's let _him_ come out to play."

"Him?" Heero asked.

"_Him_," she corrected. "Shinigami."

"Duo is Shinigami," he said, a bit confused.

She followed him around a corner, holding herself carefully, and he was struck by her courage. "Aye and you could say that. Me, I've never been all that sure. Duo, well, he's our Darlin'."

Heero thought of the pub. "He seems to be everyone's."

"He's very good at being just what you need to love, I think," the Poet said. "But Shinigami -- he slips out sometimes. I've seen Duo do things. . . that aren't Duo. They're Shinigami, pure and simple."

"There's nothing simple about that," Heero said, annoyed. "You make him sound like some sort of demon. He's not. He's just a highly annoying brat with a gift for sex and death."

He felt rather than saw the Poet's smile. "Aye and he likes you, too."

"Enough with the praise," Duo said, suddenly materializing. "Keep it down. Poe, he's not in his rooms. Where might he be?"

The Poet shrugged, then winced as the motion caused a fresh surge of blood. "I'm not sure, Duo."

"You said he's obsessed with the Weapon," Heero pointed out. "Maybe he'd be in the Chamber? After all, someone might have stolen the Weapon, but it'd be pretty damn impossible to steal the whole room."

Duo sighed. "It's as good a place as any, but I don't mind admitting that I sincerely dislike that room. It seems like a prison, don't you think?"

Heero opened his mouth to agree, but his lover had already melted away. He stared into the shadows and wondered if he should take that as an omen.

+

Midway to Heero's rooms, Trowa stopped. "No," he said. "He's not this way."

Wufei nodded curtly; he wasn't entirely sure that the Oz prince's intuitions could be trusted, but as they had nothing better to go on. . . "which way?" he asked.

Trowa looked around blindly. "Up," he said finally. "He's gone up."

+

The guard stood when Relena exited Zech's cell; he gaped when Zechs followed her. "Your highness!" he exclaimed.

"As you were, soldier," Relena said. He looked flabbergasted but obeyed; she made a mental note that certain tones of voice could be very effective, and filed that particular one away under `arrogant bitch.'

Zechs followed her as she strode from the room; in a soft voice he offered, "I would never think of taking a throne from one so well suited to it."

Relena paused, turned to face him. "And I," she replied, "would never give it up." She graced him with a brief smile. "It's strange -- for a long time I kept thinking about how to best serve the people -- trying to be a good monarch for them. Recently -- very recently -- I have come to realize that it's also about me. I'm not just going to be a good queen because I care about my people; I'm going to be a good queen because I enjoy it. I was born for it."

Zechs acknowledged that with a nod.

"Milliardo," she said, studying him.

"What?" he asked, surprised.

"It's one of the traditional names for males of the Peacecraft family," Relena told him. "Had you been. . . had things been different, I daresay your name would have been Milliardo Peacecraft."

Zechs surprised them both by laughing. "In that case, I think I'm almost glad to have been born a bastard. I don't think I'd much enjoy being a Milliardo."

"Nevertheless," Relena said with a dazzling smile, "that is the name I have given to you, my brother."

"If you were anyone else I'd give you a name in return," Zechs said. "It would most likely be brat."

Relena considered, then nodded. "I think I should quite like being called that."

Zechs lifted a sardonic eyebrow, and opened his mouth -- both of them suddenly jolted.

"That. . . ," Zechs panted.

"The Chamber," Relena said, and, all levity gone from the situation, they ran for the stairs.

+

[cont]