Standard disclaimers apply about me not owning them and stuff. I suppose I should say, to those morons out there, that I also do not own the Roman Empire or any ideas there in. Ok? Are we clear? I do not own anything! Although, if anyone is selling rights to Shinkodusenki Gundam Wing or the Roman Empire, I'd be interested. I'd take The Republic too!!!

Pairings: 1x2x1, 3x4x3, 5xS
Warnings: yaoi, au (roman empire), violence, angst, sap, annoying Relena, Duo in a dress (very VERY briefly), ex-Gladiator Trowa, scummyTrieze, out-of-control OOC Zechs, mild Duo Trauma, liberties with Heero's character (he might be ooc, but I like him so I'm keeping him), historical INaccuracy, excessive footnotes, Quatre and Heero are brothers (all will be explained!), more liberties with age and build (no 98 lb. 15-year-olds in this fic), eventual citrus. The beginning of this fic is from a more immature stage in my writing, and it shows, but I didn't have the energy to go and fix it ALL.

This part dedicated to Psyche, because she wanted to see more development in the relationships between the Winner men. Clearly, she wants to keep the quality of this fic up, instead of allowing me to slack like the lazy-ass I am. I hope this is good...

Summary: Set among the sex and politics of the Roman Empire. Heero Yuy, a Captain in the Roman Legion, acquires Sylvan bandit/mercenary Duo in an unusual manner. How will Duo cope with being a slave and moving to the biggest city in the world? Off the battlefield, Heero is a discontented aristocrat with mysterious origins. Duo shines with talents no one expected, and falls for the Captain with no heart to give him. In short, an epic romp through ancient Rome with the cast of Gundam Wing.

Chapter XXI
by Granate

Duo decided it was time to get the breakfast tray and inform Heero about who had stopped by earlier. Heero let him in, still looking bed-raggled. Duo found this distractingly cute, but launched into who had stopped over and what they had said.

"Quatre looked a little strung out, and your father was pretty curt," he finished, "but Augusta came by; she told me she's going to encourage your father to adopt one of her sons. Heero, I think things are going to be ok, you just need to clear the air. Both of them practically knocked me over to get to you. I'm sure they just want this resolved."

Heero listened to Duo silently. He knew he had to stop hiding and face the consequences of his outburst. He asked Duo to start a bath for him. Duo grabbed some fresh clothes and took them down to the bath for Heero to change into, and then started the fires in the boiler room. When Heero came down, he excused Duo so he could be alone to think.

Duo was right, he had to do this today. He owed his family an apology and the only reason he hadn't faced up to it yet was because he was rather ashamed of his behavior. His frustration with Quatre had put him in a bad state of mind, and he'd let his temper get out of control. Probably, if he'd just said, "Yes, father, I'll think about it," the conversation would have ended and his father may not even have pressed the issue later. Right after Quatre had announced his intent not to marry was NOT the time to announce his same wish. He'd insulted his father, frightened his sisters, and ruined his brother's nice dinner.

His own words puzzled him slightly, did he really feel he wasn't part of the family? Or had he just been pushed a little too far? Growing up, he had known he looked different, but he didn't remember feeling like he didn't belong. He remembered playing with Quatre and their sister Julia, who was only a few years older. He remembered going to school with his friends. He frowned. The rift had to have come when he was taken away for training. He did not like to remember the training, but he knew that was it - that was what had made him different. For some time, during training and during the war in Gaul, he had not even really been aware that he came from a family. He did see them sometimes when his father sent for him, but they felt like strangers to him. They had been completely driven from his mind. It was only when he returned from Gaul to live with them after the war that he began to remember. Not just blurry faces from his childhood, but real people who really loved him.

Of course he knew he was part of the family, but he also knew he was not truly a Winner. To Roman law and consciousness, there was no distinction between him and Quatre, but to him, there was. Maybe if they told him where he came from he'd be able to overcome some of these feelings, but his father was the only one who knew. He'd never offered any information, and if Heero ever brought it up, he was treated like The Ungrateful Son, just like last night. He desperately wanted to know, and felt like he deserved to know, but making up with his father was more important right now. Anything else would have to wait a while longer yet.

Thoroughly pruny, Heero got out of the tub and dried off. He shook out his hair and ran a hand through it, trying to brush it out of his face. It was hopeless, however. He dressed and headed for his father's house. Duo spotted him from the kitchen, and fell into to step with him.

"Going to see your father, now?" he asked. Heero nodded "Want me to come?" Duo offered, "I don't have to be in the room, I could just walk you there."

"Thank you, but I will do this on my own," Heero said solemnly.

"Ok," Duo agreed. He stopped at the door and let Heero pass him. "But you know, if you're still all depressed, you should come play with the puppies. That's what I do," Duo suggested. He was trying to be silly on purpose. Getting a smile out of Heero was a long shot, but he had to give it a try.

"Puppies?" Heero asked, cocking his eyebrow and giving Duo an unconvinced look.

"Yeah," Duo grinned. That eyebrow was just too sexy. "You know, the little squirmy, fuzzy things in the barn that your dog seems awfully protective of? Well, that's where I'll be, so you should come find me."

Heero just continued looking at him.

Duo laughed a little nervously. "Heh, you should go now. If you're not back in an hour, I'll send reinforcements to rescue you from your smothering and cooing sisters," he joked.

Without a word, Heero turned and left.

"Geez," Duo griped, blowing his bangs out of his eyes, "no puppies for No Fun Yuy, I guess." He'd obviously been brooding again. Duo laughed to himself, thinking that he probably shouldn't let Heero be alone, even in the bath. He rather liked that idea. He went back to the barn to clean some of the leather tack with those thoughts for company.

Quatre knocked on his father's office door and waited nervously for a response. One of his father's slaves had summoned him, and he knew his father was going to grill him about his decision. He knew things had gone a little too smoothly last night. Well, before the fight anyway.

"Come in!" a gruff voice ordered.

Quatre entered and found his father flipping through some papers and holding a stylus over a wax tablet.

"Ah, Quatre," he said, looking up. He put down his work and stood. "I want to discuss your decision further," he said sternly. He had been to quick to accept it last night, mostly because he had not wanted to spoil such a nice family dinner or argue in front of the entire family. Of course, that had ended up happening anyway... But if Quatre had been being that shrewd on purpose his son had to have known he wouldn't leave it alone.

Quatre sighed mentally just waited for him to go on. He'd been vainly hoping this wouldn't happen, even when he knew it was inevitable.

"You know you should have talked to me before declaring such a thing," Master Winner frowned.

Quatre took a slow breath. "I knew what you would say, Father, and will not be talked out of it. It would have been a waste of your time," he said.

Master Winner raised his eyebrows at his son's audacity, and observed him with displeasure. Quatre has his height now, he would not have his mother's petite stature like they had originally thought. He had a lean, defined build, but was not overly muscular. He had been a late bloomer and was still young, so he probably had more filling-out to do in the next few years. His glossy blonde hair looked soft, but his face was set with hard determination. His father knew Quatre hadn't gotten his stubbornness from his mother.

"Let us be frank," the elder Winner said, "this is about Trowa."

"It is," Quatre answered evenly.

His father pursed his lips and rubbed his chin. "This is foolish, Quatre, you are only 20 years old. You can't possibly know what you want for the rest of your life."

"But I do," the younger insisted.

Master Winner stewed silently. Trowa was a decent man, and he really had nothing against him, but he was a freedman and an ex-gladiator besides.

"Didn't Augusta talk to you, Father? If this about heirs - "

"This isn't just about heirs!" his father snapped, losing patience with Quatre's myopia. "This is about your career! Your future! This will cause you a rather large problem, you must know that! You made an excellent start in the senate this year; I don't want to see you throw that away. You know you will not be taken seriously unless you marry."

"I'll get around it," Quatre said. "If I am a bachelor permanently, people will become used to it."

His father did not look at all convinced. "You can take a wife and still see him," he said, although he didn't like the sound of it.

"I know, but that is not the kind of life I want live," Quatre said calmly.

Father shook his head in frustration. "I don't understand. You don't want children? You need to have a family, Quatre!"

"Like I said before, families are great, and I like children, but I love Trowa and I don't want to be with anyone else," Quatre replied.

His father made a disgusted noise. "Love!" he admonished. "Stop being an idealistic child! If you want to get anywhere, you have to marry! That is the way it is."

"You're wrong, father."

Master Winner just glared. Quatre was as good at arguing as he'd taught him to be. He didn't raise his voice or falter. It seemed like he had thought of every opposing argument and practiced his rebuttal. The Master shook his head again. "I accept this for now, Quatre, but only because I know you will come to realize you are mistaken."

A knock at the door startled them both.

"Who is it?" the elder Winner barked.

"Heero, father," came the reply.

Quatre and his father looked at each other.

"Come in," father ordered.

Heero entered, but balked when he saw Quatre. "Should I come back later?" he asked.

"No, we were just finished," their father answered. He looked at Quatre for confirmation and received a nod.

"Do you want to be alone?" Quatre asked his brother, returning the courtesy.

Heero drew a long breath. "No, please stay, I need to talk to both of you anyway."

His father spoke before he could continue. "Heero, I am very sorry for hitting you. No matter what you said, it was wrong," he said seriously. "Can you forgive me?"

Heero looked at the floor. "It is I who needs to be forgiven," he said. "What I said must have been like a slap in the face to you. I am your son and a Winner, it was wrong of me to say otherwise."


Heero looked up at his father.

"You are my son," he said firmly, "I will always want the best for you. Not for family pride, but because I love you." He turned to Quatre with a kinder look than before, "I will always want what is best for my sons, even if we disagree on what that is." He looked back to Heero, "As a father, all I want is the success and happiness of my children. Your sisters were easy on me, but you two..." He shook his head with a dry look that made Quatre smile a little.

"Marriage is probably the most important step into adulthood, and you will find that rejecting it will cause you a lot of problems. I have a father's right to expect obedience, but I will not be satisfied if you're unhappy. I wish you both would listen to me, but I suppose I must let life teach you your lessons," he finished.

"Thank you, father," Quatre said with a slight bow and then left the room. Heero just stood silently.

"Well, didn't you say you had to talk with him?" his father asked as he sat back down at the desk. Heero looked at him in confusion, he was fully expecting more castigation. His father, however, just waved him in the direction of the door. Heero hurried out and closed the door after him. He was about to head for Quatre's house, but found his brother waiting for him in the hall.

Quatre clasped Heero's arm. "Heero, I am so sorry about all this!" he said earnestly. "You were right and I should have listened to you. I wish none of this had happened."

"It would have happened sooner or later," Heero replied. "And, Quatre I want you to know that I AM happy for you, I was just worried about Father's reaction. I suppose it was better to tell him than wait for him to start making marriage arrangements for you."

"And you too!" Quatre added.

"Yes," Heero agreed, "but I wasn't as ready as you to make my feelings known."

"I'm sorry, Heero," Quatre said again. "It was poor judgment on my part. Listen, I'm meeting Trowa for lunch, will you join us? My treat."

"When?" Heero asked.

"In a little bit, maybe an hour or so," his brother answered.

"Good, because there's something I need to do first," Heero said. Quatre promised to come get him when Trowa arrived and they parted ways to their own houses.

Heero went to the barn and found Duo hanging a wet saddle blanket on the laundry line. Duo heard him approach and peeked around the blanket. "Everything go ok?" he asked hopefully.

"Father was surprisingly lenient," Heero answered. "I think Quatre wore him down before I got there."

"Oh?" Duo said, dumping out the wash bin at the drain.

"Yes, they had been talking before I arrived. I'm sure father had lots more to say about Quatre's announcement."

Duo made an agreeing noise and placed the washtub back under the sink. He could feel Heero watching him and it made his skin feel all prickly - in a good way.

"I don't think he's going to push marriage on either of us," Heero went on, "but he's pretty sure we'll change our minds."

"Well, who can know the future?" Duo said with a shrug.

"I guess there's no way to be sure," Heero agreed. He leaned on the doorframe. "So," he said, "where are those puppy-things you were telling me about?"

Duo grinned. "The squirmy, fuzzy things? Right this way!" he replied, brushing past Heero in the doorway and leading him to the stall. "See, I told you they'd be with your dog, you can always find them here." He went in and sat in the straw next to Diana's blanket. He petted her and she licked his arm. The puppies yipped and tumbled their way over to Duo and he handed one to Heero, who sat down next to him. Heero took the puppy and felt himself smiling. Duo and a basket of puppies could probably make anyone smile.

Duo + basket of puppies = cute x infinity

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