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“It’s okay. I’ll do it.”

The woman proceeded to fix the young boy’s plate of food in front of him.

“It’s okay. I’ll do it,” he said as he attempted to take the utensils back from her.

She continued eyes distant and dull. She finished filling his plate, then filled his glass with water. She reached into the ice bucket, and dropped cubes one by one into the glass.

“It’s okay. I’ll do it.”

The woman paused, reached up, and cupped his chin with her hand. “It’s okay, sweetie. My hands are clean.” She trailed her hand down his neck and to his chest, where it rested for a moment. She then continued dropping ice into the glass.

The boy fell silent.

---

The two men checked into their room in the afternoon, and had been in and out constantly since them. They both traveled to and from meetings and briefings and barely were able to see each other in-between. What time they did spend at the hotel together, however, they spent attached at the hip.

It had drawn more than a few snide glances from the other soldiers stationed there, but by that point, neither of them cared. They knew their place, and it was well above anyone who would criticize them openly—save for Lady Une. But she only had so much room to talk given her share in the situation that was Treize Khushrenada. The newly confirmed Chief Commander of OZ had been flirting with Zechs Merquise since he was still an instructor in the Academy, and Zechs and Une were his students. Now, Treize was Commander, and they were his left and right hand Colonels. Any relations Treize had with the two of them were, in his mind, no one’s business but their own. And despite urging from the much more conserved Une, Treize was not shy about parading around his young, platinum blonde former student like a shiny necklace.

When the time for them to turn in finally came, they were both relieved to be back at their temporary abode, together and with time to rest, and possibly other things. Zechs followed Treize around, “like a small puppy,” in Une’s words, and that did not stop when the two were alone. The specific relationship Treize and Zechs had was something of an open secret, known amongst of good portion of OZ, but rarely spoken of, at least in public. Though with so many of them in close quarters with the pair, it was whispered about frequently enough for Treize to overhear. So Treize could only smirk in amusement when Zechs crawled onto the bed like a dog, helmet off and jacket partially unbuttoned to reveal the gold collar he wore, small, blue gems glittering in the amber light of the hotel room.

Treize approached Zechs, pointer finger curled around his thumb, and tilted Zechs’ chin up with his gloved hand. “And what is it my prince desires tonight, hm?”

Zechs turned his head, and nuzzled the hand. “Everything my Sir is willing to give,” he answered.

Treize sighed softly. “We’ve both had a long day. I’m not sure I have the energy for anything extensive, pet.”

Zechs nosed the hand more. “That’s all right. Whatever you choose to do, even if it’s only resting together, I will be grateful for.”

“You are especially eager tonight, aren’t you?”

Zechs nodded. “I haven’t had uninterrupted time with you in a while. I want to take advantage of it while I can.”

Treize gave a heavier sigh, but smiled. “All right.” He trailed his hand over Zechs’ cheek, and combed his fingers into his silken, white gold hair. “I’ll see what I can do, Mon Étoile de Sable.”

With a happy purr, Zechs leaned forward, and rubs his head into Treize’s torso. Treize returned the gesture with a firm pet over Zechs’ sides. However long the day had been, however many battles they’d seen, there was never too little left to please His Star.

By the time the scene was over, and the two had finished, the room was hot with their breath, and the sheets soaked in their sweat and other things. Treize kneeled over Zechs, panting. He dropped the belt from his hand, and reached down to touch Zechs’ face. “Are you all right?”

Zechs, whose back and ass were bright red, was curled up under Treize, fists clutched to the sheets, hair a tangled mess. He let out a broken moan and a languid, “Yeeessss…”

After he finally caught his breath, Treize slumped over Zechs, both hands now on his face. “You did so well, love.” He kissed Zechs’ forehead, and slowly pulled their bodies apart, which elicited a quiet peep from Zechs. Treize chuckled, and pet some of the hair out of his submissive’s face. He got up, rubbing his arm as he did, and proceeded to gather two bottles of water and a small blanket. He returned to the bed, and scooped Zechs into his arms. He wrapped the blanket around the younger man’s shoulders, then held the water to his lips. “Drink, love.”

Zechs did. And once he had his fill, Treize drank, as well.

Treize spent the rest of the night curled around Zechs. He knew the next morning, both of them would be sore. But it was worth it. To him, the stinging muscles were a reminder of their bond. He knew the same was true for Zechs.

The next morning, the two woke at an unpleasantly early hour for that day’s series of meetings and campaigns. With much groaning and moaning, the men made their way out of bed.

They dressed, and as Zechs finished his primping, Treize started gathering a simple breakfast for the two of them.

Zechs smiled as an idea came to him. He sauntered over to Treize, then slipped his arms around the man. “How about I finish with the food? After what you did for me last night, I think it’s the least I can do.”

Treize smiled as he pulled out a bagel from the room’s small toaster. “Thank you, love. But I think I’ve got this.” He grabbed a plastic knife and a small pre-portioned package of cream cheese. “I’m almost done, anyway.”

Zechs nuzzled his way under Treize’s arm, and between Treize and the counter of the kitchenette. “Come now, Treize. I promise I won’t burn the hotel down. Besides, you need your rest more than I do. They’ll be expecting a lot more from the great Commander himself than they will from his Colonel. Just let me take care of it.”

Treize shook his head, but maintained his smile. “It’s okay, love. I’ll do it.”

Zechs tipped his head, and gazed up at Treize. He placed his hand over Treize’s hand which held the knife. He slipped the knife from Treize’s hand, and proceeded to spread the cheese over the bagel.

Treize sighed. “It’s okay. I’ll do it.”

Zechs chuckled in his throat. He stood fully between Treize and the counter, and grabbed a glass from the coffee tray. He grabbed a water bottle, and filled the glass, then pulled the ice bin to him.

“It’s okay,” Treize repeated. “I’ll do it.”

Zechs just smiled. “I washed my hands.” He waved his open palm at Treize, then proceeded to drop cubes of ice into the glass. “Go sit down. You need to let yourself relax more.”

Treize’s mouth closed. He looked down at the counter where Zechs was working.

Zechs grabbed the small plate with the bagel, and the glass of ice water, and handed both to Treize. “Go ahead. I’ll get mine.”

Treize looked at the items in his hands, and nodded. “Thank you.” He turned, and went to the small table against the wall to eat.

Zechs prepared his own food—a bowl of pre-packaged cereal which Treize had initially scoffed at when Zechs decided to bring a package of it with. He sat at the tiny table with Treize, and tipped his head when he saw Treize had not started eating yet. “Is everything okay?”

Treize stared at his plate as he rubbed his finger over the lip. “I’m fine, love,” he replied softly.

Zechs raised a brow, but nodded. It wasn’t like Treize to brush him off, so he had to be telling the truth. Zechs dug into his bowl of cereal, and ate like the teenager he was, not the noble he had to be whenever he went out.

Zechs finished before Treize. The Commander was still working on his bagel, chewing with his mouth closed and back straight/ He retained his refined mannerisms, even if Zechs did not. Zechs looked up from his plate. “So, I need be at the briefing with Noin’s new troops in the west hall by eight. I think that’s on the way to your next meeting. Would you like to walk with me?”

Treize shook his head. “I have some papers I need to gather. You go ahead. I don’t want you to be late.”

Zechs tilted his head. “Are you sure?”

Treize nodded. “Yes, I’m sure.”

Zechs looked at him, befuddled. “Don’t you have to be there at the same time?”

Treize scratched at the pattern on the plate. “It’s the planning of an address to all of OZ. They can’t very well start without me. Go on. I will be there in a bit. I’ll walk back with you.”

With that, Zechs nodded. “All right.” He gathered his now empty plastic bowl, and threw it away. He put on his helmet, made a last minute self-check in the mirror, and kissed Treize on the cheek. “See you soon.” Then, he left.

Zechs didn’t return to their room until around one o’clock in the afternoon. He and Treize had both already had multiple meetings, and both were already mentally prepared to turn in for the day. Unfortunately, that would not happen for some time. The only reason Zechs returned to their room, was that he had forgotten some important files for the next meeting he was to attend. And he was to attend shortly. He practically threw open the door, knocking the “maid service requested” handle-sign to the floor. He stormed into the room, and rifled through his suit case for the papers. When he couldn’t find them, he slammed the top half of the case down onto the clothes spilling from the sides. “Damn.” He huffed, and scanned the room. “Maybe Treize has them…” He moved to the other side of the bed to look in Treize’s suitcase.

There was a crunch under his boot.

Blinking, he looked down. The floor was wet, and under his foot were bits of something shiny. He raised a brow, and leaned down to look—broken glass.

He immediately drew his gun, and lifted the sheets to look under the bed. After that, he checked the small closet at the far end of the room, then the bathroom. He checked every corner and every cabinet. Nothing. He checked their things. He found nothing missing. He stood in the middle of the room, scratching at the base of his helmet. He walked back to the glass, and knelt to examine it. The glass was small, about the size of a rum glass, with ridges that went up the sides.

It was the same glass Treize had used that morning.

He looked over the carpet. The water had already started drying.

He looked back to the door, and the service requested sign he’d knocked down in his hurry.

“Treize?”

---

That evening, at the gathering of all high-ranking OZ officials, Zechs was seated, rather uncomfortably, next to Lady Une. The two of them had been at odds with one another since the Academy. But when Treize rose to the rank of Commander and formed his own faction, he had made it very clear that the two of them needed to start playing nice, at the very least, in public and on the job. Treize was busy speaking to some of the members of Romefeller, which he despised as a whole, but had accepted was a needed asset in his endeavor. Une and Zechs sat side-by-side, not looking at each other.

Zechs bounced his knee rapidly, stomach still twisted from the glass he had found in their room. He had not dared ask Treize when they met between appointments. If Treize was out of sorts, the last thing he wished to do was upset him further. Treize had never been a violent man. Zechs had never seen him lay a hand on anyone unless they had first laid a hand on someone else. He had never been anything less than cool and collected. And finding something like this frightened Zechs. What had upset him so much as to physically throw something? Was it something he’d done? Did it have to do with OZ? Was the pressure of Treize’s new position getting to him? Zechs’ mind was buzzing when he felt the slap to his shoulder.

Lady Une pulled her hand back from him. “Stop that,” she said, “It’s maddening.”

Zechs quickly halted his leg, and pressed his knees together. “Apologies.”

Lady Une side-glared at him from behind her spectacles. “What’s got you so nervous? Don’t tell me your first political parade already has you flustered.”

Zechs shook his head. “I’m not flustered.”

Une shrugged. “If you say so.”

Zechs’ lip curled, and he looked away. He chewed on the inside of his lip, and held his hand down on his knee to keep it from tapping. “… It’s Treize. I think he’s upset about something.”

Une’s attention immediately shifted entirely to Zechs. “Why do you think that?”

Zechs looked at his feet. “I found a broken glass on the floor. Maybe I’m worried for nothing. Maybe he just dropped it—”

Une frowned. “Mr. Treize isn’t that careless.”

Zechs clenched his jaw. “I know. But he’s acting as if nothing is wrong.”

Une took a deep breath, and straightened in her seat. “And he will continue to do so. Mr. Treize does not like for people to see weakness in him. You should know that by now.” She scrunched her nose.

Zechs growled under his breath. “So what do you propose we do?”

Une’s brow furrowed. “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t suppose asking him would be a good idea?”

“Very funny.”

“I’m not much for Humor, Merquise.” She shifted in her seat and crossed her legs.

Zechs just shook his head. He returned his gaze to Treize. The Commander was schmoozing with a group of men, all much older than he. He wore a smile as he nursed a glass of champagne and talked of peace and conquering with some of the richest men alive. Treize was a man of many talents. But his silver tongue dumbfounded even Zechs. With his somewhat wanting social skills, Zechs was always a bit envious of Treize’s ability to captivate, convince, and control with nothing more than words.

He only wished Treize would use it less with his confidants.

---

Zechs made it back to their room late at night. When he entered, Treize was already in the corner chair, in only his shirt, pants, and boots, a book propped up on his knee. He lifted his head when the door opened, and smiled. “Zechs.” He closed the book, and set it aside. “You were busy today. How are you?”

“Well enough,” he said as he removed his helmet. “Met a lot of foreign dignitaries. It was… an experience.”

Treize scoffed. “Full of shit, the lot of them.”

“I wasn’t going to say it.” Zechs shrugged off his jacket and tossed it onto the bed.

“Hm. You don’t have to.” Treize uncrossed his legs and patted his knee. “Come here, lovely.”

Zechs paused his undressing, and bowed his head. “Yes, Sir.” He went to Treize, and sat in his lap.

Treize looked up at him, and smirked. “When we were younger, I was always the tall one.” He reached up and rubbed Zechs’ head. “I miss being able to tease you.”

Zechs smiled. “I don’t.”

Treize shook his head, then rested it on Zechs’ shoulder. “My beauty.”

Zechs’ smile faded, and he lowered his head. “Sir, about earlier today…”

Treize lifted his head. “Hm?”

Zechs swallowed. “Did I do something to upset you?”

Treize’s brow furrowed. “What do you mean?”

Zechs picked at the skin on his fingers. “I found the glass…”

Treize’s expression sobered and he looked away. “I see.” He smoothed some hair behind his ear. “Apologies.”

So he had done it. “… Sir, why are you sorry?”

Treize was silent for a bit. He wet his lips, then spoke. “I don’t like letting my emotions get the better of me. I am sorry.”

Zechs turned in Treize’s lap, and thumbed over the buttons of his shirt. “What emotions got the best of you?”

Treize sighed, and rubbed Zechs’ knee. “It’s nothing worth drudging up.”

“I want to know, Sir,” Zechs said. “If it was something else, I would like to know. If it was me, I would like to know what I could do differently. I do not wish to upset you that way again.”

Treize’s brow knitted together. With a deep breath, he shifted Zechs to face him further. “You did nothing wrong, Zechs. You did nothing to intentionally harm or upset me. You were trying to make me food. You were trying to take care of me. And I got angry over something incredibly small and stupid and senseless. There was nothing you could have done.”

“I still want to know,” Zechs said. “I want to know what would make you so angry as to shatter something, when I’ve rarely heard you so much as raise your voice to another person.” Zechs stopped, and leaned back from Treize. “But, if it makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to. That isn’t my right.”

Treize looked at Zechs. He looked at him for a long time. Then he let out a long breath. “I… do not wish to sour our trip with my woes. It’s not something I enjoy talking about.” he said. He raised his hands, and cupped Zechs’ face. “For now, I’ll just say that I had—something of an anxiety attack after you pushed me out of the kitchen. But I didn’t let myself break down until after you’d left.” He rubbed Zechs’ cheeks with his thumbs. “Just know that you did not intentionally do anything wrong, and that you couldn’t have known that would set me off. And, in the future, if I say to stop something. please. just. stop.” He sighed, and stilled his hands over Zechs’ cheeks. “And I am not mad at you. Okay?”

Zechs gazed into Treize’s eyes. They were deep, focused, open wide. This was one of the few moments where Zechs could feel the honesty in Treize’s tone. “All right.” He leaned into the touch. “If you say so, then I’ll believe you.”

Treize sighed, and pulled Zechs’ head closer to rest their foreheads together. “I love you, Zechs.”

At that, Zechs’ body melted. “I love you, too.”

---

The man stood over a small boy, narrow eyes glaring down at him. “She wants you tonight,” he said. “Go see your mother.”

The boy trembled, back to a corner, curled as tightly in on himself as he could be. “Please—please!”

The man raised a hand to the small boy. “I said, go see your mother!”

A hand reached out, and grabbed the man’s wrist.

The older boy looked at the smaller one. “It’s okay. I’ll do it.”

The man turned to the older boy, and slapped him across the face with his free hand. “I didn’t ask you!”

The older boy raised a hand to cover his cheek. He looked up at the man. “It’s okay,” he said. “I’ll do it.”

The small boy shook his head. “Brother… you don’t—”

The older boy looked at his brother. “It’s okay,” he said, “I’ll do it.”