Part the First: Of Monkey Suits and Museums
Duo Maxwell was bored. And a bored Duo Maxwell was a dangerous Duo Maxwell.
Duo snorted to himself, tugging incessantly at the collar of his monkey suit. He
was about as dangerous as a fruit fly. And about as annoying, according to his
hostess. Duo sighed. He hadn't wanted to come to Relena's fancy little shindig,
but Zechs had wheedled and cajoled until Duo gave up and agreed to put on a suit
And then the bastard had the nerve to disappear to god-knows-where with his
current lover-du-jour, leaving him at the mercy of his sister's high falutin'
friends. Or rather flunkies. He didn't believe this many people could actually
like the bi... woman. He firmly believed they only tolerated her because she was
one of them - high class and old money.
And there he was, a fish out of water.
Raising his glass, he quickly drained the contents, wincing at the bitter taste
of the amber liquid. He coughed as the bubbles tried to escape out his nose,
which only caused him to inhale some of the five-hundred-a-bottle champagne,
which in turn sent him into near convulsions and made his eyes water as he
struggled not to drown at Relena's party. Really, there were better places he'd
rather try to commit suicide.
He set the glass down on the nearest surface, cursing as he accidentally knocked
it over reaching for his handkerchief. He managed to catch it before it tumbled
off the table and he set it down more carefully this time.
"My brother was kind enough to invite you, so I would appreciate it if you
didn't break all the family's good crystal while you are here," a snide, girly
voice said from behind him.
Duo choked back a groan before turning to face his hostess. "Good evening, Miss
Relena," he said, trying to keep his displeasure out of his voice.
The woman sniffed. Somehow, with it stuck in the air, she still managed to look
down her nose at him. Duo wondered how she managed not to get a crick in her
"Do you know where my brother is?" Relena asked, looking around as if Duo had
managed to stuff Zechs into a potted plant just to spite her. Duo took the
opportunity to snag another, full glass from a passing waiter." The Carmichaels
would like to have a word with him before they leave."
Duo swirled the liquid in his glass in an attempt to look sophisticated. "With
any luck, he's upstairs now, getting laid."
Duo hadn't been aware at just how fast Relena's face could go from fashionably
death-pale to bright beet red.
"Mr. Maxwell!" Duo winced; there was emphasis on 'Mr.' "I would *appreciate* it
if you would not use such vulgar language in this house!"
Duo shrugged. "You asked."
"Furthermore..." Oh, goodie. She wasn't done. "...my brother is a Peacecraft. He
does not, as you would put it, 'get laid.'"
Duo smiled into his bubbly. "Bet that's news to him."
"He would not besmirch the Peacecraft name by having some tawdry affair - during
*my* party, no less -- with some tramp he barely knows. Peacecrafts wait until
marriage to indulge in ... in ... bedroom acts. He would not sully his future
bride by behaving in such manner!"
Duo wondered if he ought to tell Relena that he and Zechs had spent most of
their college days fucking like bunnies. But then he thought better of it.
Outing one's best friend to one's sister during one's sister's Social Event of
the Season was probably not considered kosher.
"How about I go find him for you, Miss Relena? I'm sure he's just been...
sidetracked by one of your other guests."
Relena immediately perked up, as if please to be out of Duo's presence. And she
probably was. All Duo could say was the feeling was mutual. "Yes, that is a
Duo nodded, throwing back the rest of his champagne. He coughed again. Damn
Relena wrinkled her nose distastefully. "Just to remind you, there are security
cameras covering every inch of this house, so try not to steal anything will
you? Have a nice evening."
Duo swore, watching as Relena flounced away, her pink ball gown flapping at her
heels. He didn't care if it was in poor taste to murder one's hostess at her own
party... the woman had some seriously shitty bad karma coming.
He set the crystal glass down before he squeezed it so hard he broke the damn
thing. Not that he cared about the glass, he just didn't want to spend the night
picking tiny shards out of his hand.
"Fuck this," he whispered as he slipped out of the ballroom. Despite the promise
he'd made to Zechs, he wasn't going to stick around and be talked to like he was
nothing but street trash. Sure, he came from a humbler background, but just
because he wore a rented suit didn't make him less of a person. He was so out of
there - just as soon as he could find a phone to call a cab.
The Peacecraft "house" was a frickin' maze. With expensive art and antique
furniture, it was more like wandering through a museum than a house. He knew
Zechs hated the pretentiousness of it all, but the man had grown up there, and
he still felt some kind of duty to make an appearance every now and again.
Duo knew where Zechs' room was -- finding it was another matter altogether. The
handful of times Zechs had managed to drag him home with him, for one occasion
or another, they'd spent the better part of their time in Zechs' room in Zechs'
bed, rather than exploring Wayne Manor, as Duo liked to call it.
Ah, the good old days. Before he and Zechs realized they made better friends
than lovers. Still, Zechs had taught him a lot and had been Duo's first -- and
thus far only -- lover after admitting his sexuality to his older roommate. He
didn't begrudge his friend his new lovers. He knew Zechs had had a hard life,
despite the silver spoon lodged in his throat. Or maybe because of it. Being the
only son of an ancient, noble lineage was hard enough to live up to. Being the
only son of an ancient, noble lineage AND gay… well, that was a whole different
kettle of monkeys.
He turned a corner, cursing under his breath when he realized that not only was
he in the wrong corridor, he was the wrong wing. Then he cursed out loud just to
hear the obscenity echo off the vaulted roof. The portrait of some old
Peacecraft ancestor frowned down his nose at him. Duo stuck out his tongue. At
least he could tell where Relena got it from.
Abandoning his search for God's Blond Gift, Duo tried the first door he came to,
hoping there would be a phone inside so he could call a taxi and get home. For
the first time that night, he got lucky. Maybe not as lucky as Zechs was getting
at the moment, but the phone on the desk inside the room offered him his first
ray of hope of the evening.
The study was obviously Relena's private office. Everything was pink. If it
wasn't pink, it was mauve. Duo felt dirty just being in the room. He quickly
crossed the room to pick up the -- pink -- phone and called the local cab
company. Assured that there would be a cab at the Peacecraft front door in
twenty to thirty minutes, Duo flopped down in the -- pink -- chair and closed
It didn't help. He could still see Relena looking at him as if he were a piece
of gum that had dared to stick itself to her shoe. The woman positively hated
him and greatly disapproved of his friendship with her brother. She thought he
was a bad influence on Zechs. Truth was, Zechs had been a bad influence on Duo.
He'd been a straight-A engineering student at the University until Zechs had
moved in. After that, his grades had slipped -- slightly -- when Duo started
spending more time in bed with Zechs than with his biochemistry homework. He
smiled to himself. Who needed textbooks when he and Zechs were making some sweet
biochemistry of their own?
He shifted uncomfortably in the chair, not wanting to relive the past, at least,
not when he was in no place to do something about it. Though, that would serve
Relena right. He grinned and imagined Relena's pleasantly shocked look on her
face when she sat down at her desk only to find her -- pink -- blotter stained
and sticky from her nemesis jacking off to dirty thoughts about her brother. But
he gave that thought up. There wasn't time, and besides, he really didn't care
to be caught in flagrante delicto on video tape.
His hands tightened on the arms of Relena's chair. Fuck. The idea that she
thought of him as no better than a common thief galled him. He had never stolen
anything in his life -- except for a box of condoms when he was thirteen on a
dare -- but to actually say it to his face… Damn that woman. Maybe he ought to
take something of hers anyway. Just to show her he could. Something of value.
Something to rub her nose in her expensive security system. He could take
something that belonged to her, and mail it back in a couple of days,
anonymously of course, though she'd have no doubt as to who had taken it, and
suggest she ought to upgrade her system as it was obviously lacking.
Maybe he could even take pictures of whatever it was he took, in different
locations around the city, then send it back with a T-shirt that read, "I got
had by Duo Maxwell and all I got was this lousy shirt."
Or maybe not, but still. It was the principle of the thing.
He looked around, searching for something small enough to slip under his jacket,
but important enough that she'd notice it was missing. The gold pen set perhaps?
Nah, those were probably a dime a dozen to her. Or maybe the little -- pink --
lady statue on the stand near the door. But it looked fragile and he didn't want
to actually break it.
His eyes lit on a small velvet box sitting on the corner of her desk. Getting up
out of the chair, he moved to sit on the edge of the desk, looking around to
make sure there was no security camera in the room. He couldn't see one, and he
hoped Relena didn't really have hidden cameras all over the house. He lifted the
lid of the box and peered inside.
A silver coin lay nestled on a pillow of silk. It looked old. Older than old.
Ancient even. He slid it out of the box, surprised at how heavy it was. There
was a figure on one side, but Duo didn't want to take the time to study it, just
in case Relena sent someone looking for him. He slipped it into his sleeve and
replaced the lid on the box.
The coin was perfect. It obviously meant a lot to Relena if she kept it on her
desk, but with any luck, she wouldn't open the box for a few days -- long enough
for him to keep it for a while before sending it back. Maybe he'd do the picture
thing after all. Some frat buddies of his had done the same thing to a garden
gnome owned by the cranky old lady across the street. After the gnome was
returned -- wearing a EuroDisney T-shirt -- the old lady had become less cranky,
almost pleasant even. Though Duo doubted seriously that would endear him to
Relena, he just wanted to bring that haughty attitude down a notch.
He still had about fifteen minutes until his taxi arrived, but he decided it
would be best to leave the scene of the crime as quickly as possible. That and
the pink was starting to give him a migraine. And it might take him that long to
find the damn front entrance.
He left the room, closing the door to the study behind him. He waved cheerily to
the portrait on his way down the corridor. The portrait seemed to be staring
incriminatingly at his sleeve. Duo gave him the finger.
He'd have to remember to call Zechs in the morning to tell him he'd gotten home
okay and wasn't buried in an unmarked grave in the backyard. And pry some
details out of him about that cute Chinese guy he'd disappeared with. He wasn't
sure he'd tell him about the coin though. Zechs did try to keep the peace
between his best friend and his sister as best he could.
He skipped down the hall, whistling and ignoring the disdainful looks he got
from some of Relena's guests. He doubted he would ever step foot in Wayne Manor
again after this incident, but he wasn't weeping at the loss. He bid a fond
farewell to Relena's butler as he retrieved his jacket from the coat room. Zechs
would just have to find someone else to drag to these parties in the future. He
was, at last, done with monkey suits and museums.