Hello everyone! Yes, I'm still alive. Currently trying to juggle between my job, my study, and my private life. What the hell I was thinking two years ago to take another undergraduate course? This question currently echoes in my mind almost everyday. One year to go and once I get my title, I will certainly spend my free time lazing away and catch up with my favorite boys's adventure. *huggles Heero & Duo*

This day is a special day for me because of the date and the month. Depending on your calendar system, this day is 1221 or 2112. Either way, it is Heero and Duo day for me! I finally finished another chapter of Ever After. I hope some of you still remember this story since it has been more than a year since the last chapter. *big sweatdrops*

Note: The chapter's title is taken from one of Japanese proverbs I am currently studying. It means 'Treasure your moment with friends because you won't be with them forever.' Many thanks to my great beta, Shenlong. *glomps*

Ever After Part 16
Ichi Go Ichi E

Early November, AC 212

Weekends. The most heavenly moment for a Solo Yuy-Maxwell. He didn't have to do anything. He could just snuggled deeper into his blanket and snore away.

Ping ping ping

Or not.

Ping ping ping

Growling, Solo unwrapped himself from his super duper comfy blanket and smashed the talk button on the vid phone. "What!?"

"Ah, someone hasn't got enough beauty sleep yet."

Sitting against the headboard, Solo looked at the screen which had just come down from the ceiling. It was showing a girl with green eyes and blond hair. He scowled at the girl. "You know better than disturb me on a weekend morning." The scowl was ruined with a following yawn.

"Yes, I know better," Midii said innocently. "But I thought you would prefer a friendly warning."

In the middle of another yawn, Solo froze. He stared at Midii. "A warning? What for?"

"Well," Midii studied her fingers nonchalantly, "I'll give you some hints. Dinner party, parents away, aunties on colony."

"Oh no!" Solo groaned.

"Oh yes," Midii smiled gleefully.

"Tell me you accepted his request?" Solo asked hopefully.

"After the last time I did resulted in my temporary exile from the female circle?" Midii raised an eyebrow.

"It's a no?"

"It's a no." Midii confirmed.

Solo groaned. "So I take it that he is online with Meiran now."

"You can bet money on it." Midii smiled sweetly, "And I happen to know that Meiran has had another commitment for tonight."

"Mariemeia then?"

"Only if you want her fiancé to kill a certain blondie."

Solo whimpered. "Surely you can d-"

"I think I have given you the warning," Midii cut in, "have fun tonight."

"It's so not FUN!" Solo hollered as Midii disconnected.

Two minutes later, there was another incoming call. Solo glared at the talk button and hit the record button instead. After he listened to his own recorded voice saying he was unavailable and please leave any message after the beep, Solo waited to see what Mill was going to say.

"Solo, you better pick this up or I'll send Gillian to y-"

Solo smashed the talk button, "Don't you dare!!!"

The screen blinked and showed Mill's smug face. "So you are awake after all."

Solo scowled. "Yes, and the answer is no."

Mill lost his smug look. "I see you have been warned."

Solo just crossed his arms and raised his eyebrows.

"You know I need company tonight," began Mill.

Solo cut in, "No, you don't. You can go alone to the party."

"You can't leave your best friend among the hungry wolves alone, you know."

"Since you are not a sheep, yes I can."

Mill sighed, "And here I thought the unlimited Hugen Dusk ice cream would be enough to endure my company."

Solo blinked. "They are serving Hugen Dusk ice cream at the party?"

"It's the Hugen Dusk heiress' engagement party so of course they are."

"Hugen Dusk party?" Solo's mouth watered at the overflowing ice cream in his mind.

"Yes, and I thought we could go to the computer fair near there if we can sneak away from the party early," added Mill nonchalantly.

Solo grunted. "Well, you should have said so from the beginning."

Mill stared at him. "I thought a best friend doesn't need any incentive to help me."

Solo snorted. "When it's not a party full with high-mannered people, this best friend will surely help you. But as it is, you owe me."

"Owe you?" Mill looked perplexed. "The unlimited ice cream isn't enough?"

"No, it isn't."

Mill stared at him. "It's ice cream. Unlimited ice cream," he pointed out again.

Solo prayed that he looked firm to Mill. "Unlimited ice cream doesn't equal the inconvenience you will cause me by going to this party."

Mill kept staring.

Solo hoped his nervous sweats weren't obvious. The unlimited ice cream was very tempting after all. Ice cream, especially Hugen Dusk, to Solo was like Duo's omelet to Heero.

Mill was still staring, so Solo decided to persuade him a little more. "Remember the price Midii had to pay to accompany you?"

Mill broke the eye contact and sighed, "Okay, okay, I owe you one."

"Good, " Solo brightened.



"Iterasai." Heero's reply was to the closed door. He put down the milk bottle in the sink and returned to the bedroom. "Where is Solo going with that suit?"

Duo looked up from his staring at his daughter. "If he is wearing a suit then he's probably keeping Mill company at a certain party."

"Keeping Mill company?" Heero looked puzzled as he took their sleeping baby in his arms.

"You know, like a da-," Duo grimaced, "like an escort, I mean."

"Aren't Midii or Meiran a better escort?"

"Well yes, but you have to know that Mill is considered public property by the girls in the high school. If one girl got special treatment, then other girls would make her days quite miserable. Their belief is that if they can't have Mill then no one can." Duo stroked his daughter's cheek gently. "Hopefully our daughter is above this belief."

"Our daughter doesn't know her own brother, let alone her brother-in-law."

"Brother-in-law!" Duo sputtered. "Mill is not her brother-in-law!"

"Lower your voice!" Heero hissed.

Too late, of course. Duo's high voice had disturbed Helen.

She wailed with all her might.

Heero glared at Duo.

"Ooops?" Duo offered weakly.


"Milliard, I'm delighted that you could come today," Cecilia Dusk said brightly.

"I'm delighted as well, Madam. Mother asked me to congratulate you on your daughter's engagement," Mill spoke politely and accommodated his mother's friend with a friendly chat. Out the corner of his eye, he saw Solo edging away to a certain food stall. He was about to drag Solo back to him when the hostess tugged his arm and pulled him away to join other people's conversations. Mill managed to see Solo get swallowed by the throng of people queuing for the stall before he had to focus his mind on the on-going conversation. He could do nothing that didn't attract their host's attention at the moment but he surely was going to make Solo pay for abandoning him to the sharks.

It was half an hour later that Mill managed to get away from the crowd and searched for his straying partner. He found Solo next to the Hugen Dusk stall. Mill felt his heart do the now customary erratic throbbing as he noticed how nice Solo looked in a black suit with silver cravat. Thankfully his heart's irregular throbbing ceased when he saw Solo's face. Usually Solo's face could only add more irregularity to his heart's performance. However at the moment, looking like he was trying to swallow the whole cone in one gulp, Solo's face only made Mill mildly irritated.

"So Hugen Dusk is more important than saving your best friend from high society sharks, huh?"

"Hm hm," Solo nodded and slurped loudly on his ice cream.

Mill scowled to let Solo know how he felt about being second to Hugen Dusk ice cream. "How many cones have you had?"

Solo brought up three of his fingers while he kept slurping.

Strange that Mill found he couldn't tear his eyes from the ice cream Solo was slurping. His heart was also doing the erratic thing again. It took him a while to shake his fascination and scowl at his best friend. "Don't you know gluttony is a sin?"

"It's Hugen Dusk, Mill. Hugen Dusk." Solo said dreamily.

"You kn-"

"There you are!" A female voice interrupted Mill.

Mill glanced at the female and faked a smile while he groaned inwardly. "Madam Cecilia." The woman seemed to follow him everywhere.

"Milliard." Cecilia Dusk stopped in front of him. Mill noticed she was followed by another woman and young lady. He wanted to ask who they were but good manners had to be shown first.

"Madam, may I introduce my best friend, Solo Maxwell."

"Oh yes, nice to meet you, dear." Cecilia nodded her greeting offhandedly and focused back on Mill. "I would like introduce my husband's sister to you. Dana Constella, this is Milliard Merquise, the boy I was talking about. Milliard, this is Dana Constella."

Mill bowed to Cecilia's sister-in-law and spoke the greeting words. He wondered inwardly why Cecilia was talking about him but he couldn't ask about it without being impolite. Instead, Mill watched as his hostess pushed the young girl toward him.

"Milliard, this is Dana's daughter, Elysia Constella."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Elysia." Mill bowed to the girl. The girl bowed slowly, "My pleasure as well."

"Dana and Elysia had just moved to earth," Cecilia spoke, "Considering you both are similar in age, I hope you and Elysia can become good friends."

Well, friends he could do. But the fact that Cecilia stressed the word 'good' in her sentence rang Mill's alarm bells. "Ah of course. Are you going to Bell Liberty high school as well, Elysia?"

Cecilia's laugh cut any reply Elysia was about to make. "Elysia studies at Azure, an all girl high school, Milliard. You know it's the best school for a lady to be."

How the hell they could be friends if they are in different schools?, Mill wondered. Also, as far as he knew Azure was a dormitory school. That surely reduced the chances to befriend the students from another school. This fact only made him more alarmed.

"Dana, do you know Milliard is the best student in his year?" Cecilia spoke eagerly, "He won the intercolony political speech contest for high schools three years in a row. He is also good with a horse. I watched him win Sanc Kingdom's Dressage competition early this year."

"Oh my, you are very talented, Milliard," Dana commented while her daughter just nodded in agreement.

Mill felt like a horse in auction, being advertised for his high value so it could attract the highest bidder. The alarm bells in his head were getting louder and louder as Cecilia kept talking about his merits.

"Elysia, do you know that Milliard already has a scholarship offer from prestigious universities such as Ethon Academy and Stanvard University. Noin was very proud when she told me of this news." Cecilia beamed at her niece-in-law.

"I'm afraid my mother likes to exaggerate." Mill commented while he swore inwardly. Her mother was a gossip monger! He coughed and tried to think of a way to steer the conversation in another direction.

Cecilia, however, had another plan. "Milliard, do you mind showing Elysia the famous Hugen garden? I haven't had time to show it to her and I know you have visited the garden before."

"We could go together..." started Mill.

"Dana and I have something else to discuss first," Cecilia stressed her sentence by seizing Dana's arm. "Please take Elysia first, Milliard. We will follow you two later."

Mill watched with slightly open mouth as the two ladies quickly made a beeline in the opposite direction from the garden. He turned around to face Elysia and saw Solo snickering slightly behind her back. In dawning horror, Mill then realized what was happening.

He was being match-made!


Solo snickered as he surreptitiously followed Mill and the girl into the garden. He couldn't wait until the M-five gathered and laughed over Mill's predicament.

Being match-made while still fifteen years old was very unusual. Then again, it's Mill so maybe some mothers thought an early start would be their advantages.

Solo listened as Mill described the features installed in the garden. This was the first time he's visited the garden so he was quite distracted with the view. The statues were magnificent and the bushes had been styled elegantly. He could sit here and watched the scenery until the party was over without feeling bored. His mom would definitely enjoy this garden. If only he didn't have a more interesting thing to watch.... Solo glanced around the spacious garden one more time before focusing back to Mill and the girl.

He blinked when he noticed the girl had bowed her head and covered her face with the handkerchief she carried. Intrigued by the odd gesture, Solo shifted closer to them. He blinked when he realized what the girl was doing.

She was crying!!

Why was she crying? Solo was baffled.

Mill was evidently at a loss to what to do. The blond boy stared at the crying girl, arms moved hesitantly and awkwardly. His face showed that he was as baffled as Solo was.

Solo wondered what Mill was going to do with the crying girl. He was amused at how lost Mill looked and made sure to remember every second of this moment for it would surely be a good laugh among the M-five later.

Mill finally made his move and Solo eagerly watched the scene unfold.

Awkwardly, the blond boy approached the sobbing girl and whispered to her. The voice was too low for Solo to hear. Mill then tentatively put his arms around the girl who eagerly burrowed into Mill's arms, still sobbing occasionally.

Solo stopped feeling amused.


"Isn't an escort usually a female?" Heero asked as he settled Helen to bed.

"Not since Relena changed the Gender Equality Law," Duo pointed out, hovering beside his husband. "One of the changes is that everyone is free to choose their partner, regardless the gender."

"Then the male students are also free to chase after Mill?"


"So Solo, as Mill's companion tonight, will also experience the special treatment from the male side?"

"What?" Duo looked up from where he was watching Helen, "Oh no, thankfully not. The boys don't have such group. Even if they are interested in Mill, I believe they have more control and dignity. They won't end up making others miserable just because they are possessively jealous."


"I'll see you again at school?" said Mill as his car stopped in front of Solo's house. "Until that time, please refrain from ridiculing me too much with other M-five."

Mill was expecting the usual grin and some teasing from Solo. Therefore, he was thrown when all Solo did was mumble his acquiescent and get out of the car. Before he managed to ask whether something was wrong, Solo had disappeared into the house. Shrugging Solo's behavior as another weird thing happening to him tonight, Mill asked the driver to head home.

After the car left the Maxwell residence, Mill took out his cell phone. He dialed a familiar number and had to wait for only two rings before it was picked up. The cell phone's screen showed a woman in her mid thirties with shoulder length black hair.

"Hello Mother," greeted Mill dryly.

"Oh, hello Mill," his mother greeted back.

Mill ignored the greetings and went straight to the matter. "Mother, what have you done?"

"What do you mean?" His mother tried to sound nonchalant but failed.

"You went out of town with father intentionally, didn't you?"

"I accompanied him to an important event this morning, Milliard," came the protest.

"Taking Gillian with you?" Mill raised an eyebrow meaningfully.


"'Fess up, Mother." Mill said sternly, "You and Madam Cecilia were in this together, weren't you? I never thought I would be dragged into a matchmaking at my young age, you know," Mill said dryly.

"Now Mill, it's not like that."

"Not like that? How obvious was it when Madam Cecilia sent me to the garden with the girl alone? Or the way she directed me to sit next to the girl when there were other seats available?"

"Well, there's no harm in introducing you to some girls, is there?" His mother grinned sheepishly.

"Mother," Mill moaned and buried his face in both hands, "I'm way too young for this kind of thing. I'm only fifteen! Next thing, you will matchmake Gillian when she turns ten. No wait, she already picked Solo as her husband. aybe I should pick a hu-"

"Let's not be dramatic, Milliard," his mother cut his tirade. "Cecilia and I saw it as a friendly introduction. It's a good thing if you are interested in the girl but if you aren't, no pressure."

"No pressure, huh?" Mill huffed.

"No pressure," his mother confirmed. "What's the girl's name by the way?"

"You didn't know the girl's name but yet you consent to sending me into a matchmaking?" Mill balked.

"Don't be a drama queen, Mill. Cecilia only told me she's the daughter of the Constella family, still a relative of hers."

"Her name is Elysia." Mill sulked. He resented to being called a drama queen.

"Elysia, nice name."

"Huh uh," Mill responded unflappably.

"So, how did it go with the girl? Do you like her?"

"Mother!" Mill was sure he was blushing. "You shouldn't ask me that sort of thing!"

His mother scowled at him, "Of course, I should. Every mother would be curious of what her son thinks about a girl introduced to him."

"I hope my mother is above other mothers, " mumbled Mill.

His mother sent a stern glance at him. "Now tell me what do you think about her?"

"What do you think about a girl who cried because she, let me quote here, 'was so touched with the beautiful garden which surely has God's hands in creating it'?

His mother winced slightly, "She cried?"

"She didn't wet my shirt with her drool, that's for sure," Mill said sarcastically.

"Your shirt?" His mother raised her eyebrows, "So you hugged her to console her? That's so kind of you. I hope you kept your hands in a courteous position all the time."

"Motherrrrrr!" Mill groaned, "I didn't hug her! She threw herself onto me. I surely can't push her away, can I?"

"Hmm, but surely -"

"Can we just forget about this whole thing?" Mill knew he was whining but he didn't care. He wasn't above whining to get out of this humiliating conversation.

"It's a no then?" His mother DARED to look disappointed. "Maybe some other gir-

"It's a NO and no more matchmaking for a son who hasn't even passed the age of consent!!" Mill hollered and quickly disconnected the call.

He shouldn't have called his mother in the first place.


Heero listened to the front door open and close then left the bed where his husband was snoring contentedly. He stepped out of the bedroom just in time to see his son appeared on the stairs.


Solo jumped and whirled to face his mom. "I thought you had gone to sleep."

"I heard Mill's car pull up half an hour ago," Heero said, "I got worried when you didn't enter the house right away."

Solo winced and bowed his head, "I'm sorry. I took a walk in the garden for a while."

"Did the party not go well?"

"No, no, it was good," Solo quickly answered.

"But you don't look happy," Heero said calmly and tilted his head to the side slightly. "Were you being harassed?"

"What? Harassed? Of course not!" Solo looked confused at the question, "Why did you think I will be harassed?"

"Duo said that's what usually happens to Mill's escort."

Solo snorted, "Female escort, yes, but I'm no female."

"So what made you unhappy?"

"Nothing," came the quick reply.

Heero just raised his eyebrows and waited.

Considering he was raised by the noisy Duo Maxwell, Solo was not used to silent interrogation. He blurted out a few seconds later. "Do you know why Mill was invited to the party? So he could be introduced to some girl, that's why!"


"So? So the girl had the nerve to throw herself onto Mill and bawl!"

Heero blinked. "The girl cried?"

"Huh uh," Solo nodded emphatically, "she was a crybaby."

"What was Mill's reaction to her?"

Solo's scowl was as dark as the night, "The moron let her cuddle into his arms. And do you know what, instead of pushing her away, he just stood there and did -"

Heero listened to Solo ranting about many of Mill's flaws for a while before he cut in and sent Solo to his room since it was midnight already.

Still grumbling about how much of a moron his best friend was, Solo said his goodnights. Heero said his own goodnights, then returned back to his bedroom.

"Where were you?" came the sleepy question from the bed.

"Just had a talk with Solo." Heero climbed into the bed and settled next to Duo.

"A talk?"

"You know, I think not every male is in control when he is possessively jealous," was Heero enigmatic reply.

Duo just yawned, already returning to his sleep.


"I'm home," Mill sighed as he closed the front door behind him. This week after the Hugen Dusk party had been quite irritating. He didn't know why but Solo kept sending death glares at him. The glares, however, didn't mean Solo didn't relate the humiliating event to other M-five though. That of course caused them to have a big laughs over Mill.

Throwing his school bag onto the couch, Mill wished he hadn't gone to the party. His self pity session didn't last long though. The patter of small feet prodded him into alertness.

"Mill! Welcome back!" Gillian shouted as she threw herself onto her brother.

Mill deftly caught his sister, having used to the hellion's habit in greeting him. He then hoisted her up onto his right arm, bringing her eyes to the same level as his. "Hi brat."

"Did you know? I answered the phone this morning," chattered Gillian.

"You are not supposed to pick up the phone, Gillian," Mill lectured her, "Let the maids do their job."

"And you know what? A pretty lady appeared on the screen." Gillian continued blithely.

"A pretty lady?"

"She say her name is El...ely...," Gillian made a frustrated sound.

Pretty lady with Ely as beginning of her name.... Mill felt dread creeping up his back and said weakly, "Elysia?"

"YES!" Gillian clapped her hands happily, "That's her name."

"So what does the pretty lady want?" Mill said reluctantly.

"She was looking for you," Gillian played with Mill's hair. "I told her you are not here."

"Thank God," Mill sighed in relief.

"She look so unhappy, Mill." Gillian poked Mill's nose with the hair clutched in her hand. "She wanted to meet you on Saturday."

"Unfortunately for her, I have a date with you on Saturday." Mill prayed he managed to sound regretful. He never thought he would be grateful to have Gillian force him to accompany her to a fairground.

"Don't worry," Gillian brightened, "I told her to meet us at Merry Castle on Saturday."

"YOU WHAT?" Mill staggered backward and thankfully plopped down onto the couch. Gillian plopped down on his lap with a happy laugh. "You ... You told her..."

"She looks more beautiful when she smiles," Gillian beamed. "But she told me she didn't want to int...inter..."

"Interrupt?" Mill offered, eyes filled with hope.

Gillian frowned and shook her head.

"Intrude then?"

Gillian nodded happily. "Yes, not to intrude on our time, she told me."

Mill heaved a big relieved sigh.

"I told her that she will not. I have asked Solo to go with me there," Gillian beamed, "so I will lend you to her on Saturday."

Mill groaned and restrained his impulse to strangle his own sister. "You said you would let Solo go and find a boyfriend since you want him with a baby."

"Solo hasn't found his boyfriend, so I will take care of Solo until his boyfriend comes." Gillian said proudly.

Mill whimpered.

"And you know what? Elysia say it's double date then."

Mill groaned louder. Someone up there surely hated him.


"Omae o korosu."

Mill just sighed resignedly and continued walking down the confectionery stalls in Merry Castle.

"Korosu, korosu, korosu."

"Aren't you tired saying that word since this morning?" Mill said feebly.

Solo glared at him and whispered furiously. "You could have told me she would join us!" He gestured to the girl walking with Gillian a few feet in front of them.

"When?" Mill whispered furiously back, fed up with being accused as the guilty one here. "Every time I tried to talk to you, you just glared and avoided me."

Guilt flashed slightly in Solo's violet eyes. Mill noticed it and didn't hesitate to use the slight hesitation the guilt caused for his cause. "And what's your problem with her anyway? You even haven't had a chance to talk with her!"

Solo looked away. "I don't like her."

Mill raised an eyebrow. "Really?"

"You like her, don't you?"

Mill blinked at the sudden question, "Where did you get such an idea?"

"Don't you?" pressed Solo.

"I don't know her enough to like or dislike her," Mill retorted, "but I know I don't like someone who is unreasonably rude to me."

Oh hell, Solo looked hurt instead of angry. Mill sighed. "Look, I didn't plan this. Gillian did. I have made sure she will not repeat something like this again in the future. But for today, could you please be civil?"

Solo looked uncertain.

"Elysia is not at fault here, you know," Mill added to strengthen his appeal.

Oh goodie, shouldn't have said the last sentence, Mill made a note inwardly. Now Solo was glaring at him again. Not liking how he had to guard his words around his best friend and fed up with the emotional roller coaster, Mill decided to be brazen. He seized Solo's face with both hands and brought it near his face.

"Solo, you are my best friend. You should know me enough to recognize I have no interest on Elysia. You can have her if you want."

Solo's eyes widened comically. "Can have her..," Solo sputtered, "You thought I liked her?!"

"Considering you glare just at me mentioning her name," Mill said dryly, "yes, I did."

"NO! I don't like her!"

"So why the temper tantrum? You currently behave on the same level as Gillian does."

Solo made a frustrated sound and seized Mill's face in the same manner. "I don't know why but I don't like her, okay?"

Mill swallowed, realizing they were so close that their noses almost touched. His heart was doing the erratic beating again. "Okay," he croaked the word.

Solo stared deeper at him, "You really don't fancy her?"

Mill's mouth felt dry so he shook his head as the answer.

"Well, okay then," Solo released his hold on Mill's face and stepped backward. Mill reluctantly released his hold on Solo's face as well. "I'll be civil to her today." Solo beamed and skipped onward to join Gillian and Elysia who were trying to decide whether to buy a cotton candy or a snow cone.

Mill scowled at his suddenly happy friend and muttered, "If I didn't know better, I would say you are pregnant, what with these sudden mood changes..."

A thankfully empty snow cone cup smacking into his forehead stopped Mill's muttering.


"What's this stall about?" asked Elysia.

"Ah, jackpot stall. It sells tickets with random numbers," Mill explained, "Every fifteen minutes, they will draw a number and the holder with the same number can choose one prize from the stall."

"Is that so?" Elysia seemed interested at the stall. Gillian was also interested, though Mill suspected she understood none of the rules. He shrugged and left the two girls there to join Solo in the next stall.

"Hey Mill! Let's compete in this one!" shouted Solo excitedly.

Mill studied the stall. It was a fishing game. There were many plastic ducks in various color floating in a small portable pool. Each duck's head had a small steel ring for the fishing hook. The goal of the game was to catch similar colored ducks, as many as possible. The more ducks you collected, the better the prize would be.

Mill looked at his best friend. "It's a child game."

Solo glared. "It's fun."

Mill snorted. "I bet that's not the only reason." He glanced at the row of prizes shown and one in particular caught his eye. "Let me guess, you want that one." Mill pointed at a duck shaped chocolate, as big as Gillian's head.

Solo flushed, "It's fun AND rewarding."

"Alright," Mill smiled at Solo's surprise. It felt nice to be able to throw Solo once in a while. "I'll win the chocolate for you."

Solo snorted, "I can win it by myself."

"And," Mill continued as if Solo never interrupted, "you'll win me that teddy bear."

"Teddy bear?" Solo looked confused, "What for? Don't tell me that you have secret hobby of collecting teddy bears."

"That teddy bear will sweeten the deal I made with Gillian of not inviting pretty ladies without asking me first."

"You plan to bribe her!" Solo pointed accusingly.

"I prefer the word encouragement instead of bribe," Mill said dryly.

"Whatever you say," Solo grinned. "Let's play!"

There was no doubt in Mill's mind that both of them would get what they wanted. What he didn't expect was Elysia winning the jackpot stall. Both Solo and he stared at the prize Elysia won, jaw dropped.

"Mill! Elysia said, I could keep it!" Gillian pointed at the prize happily while Elysia looked embarrassed.

Mill looked at the head sized teddy bear he had won then at the Gillian-sized white teddy bear in Elysia arms. The girl was having difficulty keeping the teddy bear off the ground while Gillian jumped in joy around her.

Solo was the one to react first. He closed his mouth and whacked Mill on the back. "Well it looks like you have to find a bigger teddy bear if you want Gillian to keep the deal with you."

Milliard just groaned and hung his head.

Solo just patted his back in commiseration.


A few weeks later found the boys working on their homework together.

"Done! We just have to wait for it to finish compiling!" Solo said happily.

Mill groaned happily. "Finally, I need my sleep. We have been going at this for twenty six hours."

"That's your own fault to do revision at the last possible second. You know this kind of program takes a while to compile," Solo pointed out.

"But my revision will certainly give us a perfect score," Mill replied.

Solo just grunted. Mill grinned victoriously.

"So what happened to your teddy bear?" Solo asked while they were waiting for the program to finish.

"Huh?" Mill blinked and looked up from the laptop where the program was running.

"The brown teddy bear you planned to bribe Gillian with," Solo reminded him. "What happened to it? Did you give it to Gillian?"

"No. I don't think it can compete with Elysia's bear."

Solo raised his eyebrows. "What did you do with it then? Give it to one of your maids?"

Mill looked back at the laptop's screen. "I kept it."

"You kept it?" Solo blinked. "Why? Don't tell me you suddenly like teddy bears."

"Of course not."

"So why?"

"I have my reasons," Mill said dismissively as he kept staring at the laptop Solo narrowed his eyes.

"Solo!" Mill cried out as Solo tackled him. Mill was thankful that they were doing the homework on Solo's bed, since it made him land on the soft surface from the surprise attack. However, the feeling quickly changed into nervousness when he realized Solo had straddled his chest. "Get off of me, Solo."

Solo grinned down at him. "Not until you tell me why you suddenly developed a fondness for teddy bears."

"I don't have a fondness for teddy bears," Mill said as he shot his best glare at the boy. However it was difficult to keep the stare when he was aware of Solo's weight and warmth. His heart was doing the irregular beat thing again.

"'Fess up, Mill or I will..." Solo raised his hands and wiggled his fingers in threatening manner.

Mill's eyes widened. He HATED being tickled. It was so uncool in his opinion. Not wanting to be a victim, Mill arched his back to throw Solo off him.

"What the?!" Solo was surprised and lost his balance.

Mill took it to his advantage. He pushed Solo down and rolled on top of the boy. Solo of course fought back to gain his position, but Mill managed to catch Solo's flailing arms and pinned them down on both sides of his head. Solo kept struggling so Mill used his knees to pin Solo's thighs.

"Bastard!" Solo shouted and arched his back, trying to throw Mill but Mill had anticipated it and brought his weight on his hands and knees.

"Give up, Solo," Mill huffed in satisfaction.

Solo kept struggling so Mill straightened his legs and threw his body down on top of Solo. That drove all air out of Solo. While Solo struggled to breath, Mill straightened his legs and went back to his first position, pinning Solo's thighs back with his knees.

"Bas..tard..." Solo panted, the fight leaving him. "You are... heavier..."

Mill just grinned.

Solo tugged at his hands weakly. "And ...."

"And...?" Mill brought his head closer, wanting to hear Solo's words clearly.

"And this!" Solo threw his head forward, banging it against Mill's.

Mill yowled and rolled to the side, hands on his abused forehead.

Solo yowled too and cursed a storm.

"My head," Mill moaned.

Solo moaned in agreement.

When the throbbing on his head had lessened, Mill turned to his still moaning friend. "How can you be so stupid to bang your head like that?"

Solo hissed as he touched his forehead tentatively. "Mom told me to do that if my arms and legs are restrained."

"Heero's head is as strong as titanium. Yours? You are lucky you didn't get concussion," Mill pointed out.

Solo made protesting noise.

Mill sighed and plopped on his back. He stared at the ceiling and waited until his head ceased throbbing.

"Hey..." Solo said softly. "Seriously, why did you keep the bear?"

Mill sighed and kept his eyes on the ceiling. "Because you won it for me."

He felt Solo's hand reach for his and tighten around. "I kept the duck, you know."

Mill turned his head and saw Solo smiling at him. "In your stomach, you mean?"

Solo glared and turned around, giving Mill his back.

Mill felt a slight guilt twinge inside him. He shifted closer and tugged Solo to face him back.

Solo resisted so Mill shifted closer and brought his face near Solo's ear to whisper to him. "I'm happy you kept it."

Mill was closed enough to feel Solo's body relaxing.

"Don't count on me to always keep it," Solo spoke without facing him. "I kept it for my winter's supply, you know."

Mill hummed, enjoying their closeness. He dropped one hand on Solo's waist to keep his position steady. "In that case, I better give you some chocolate to keep the duck safe."

"Hmm, do that," Solo said sleepily.

Mill smiled and closed his eyes.

Being awake for twenty six hours had taken its toll on the boys. Both were sound asleep when the door was opened five minutes later.

Duo's head appeared around the door, followed by Heero's. Upon seeing his son's sleeping arrangement, Duo opened his mouth in righteous parental fury. However, before he managed to utter one word, Heero had pulled him out of the room and closed the door.

"Heero, let go," Duo protested.

Heero kept dragging his enraged husband away from their son's room.

"Let me go, Heero," Duo protested again. "That blonde boy is molesting my son!"

"He isn't. And keep your voice down."


"No buts. Solo is finally asleep after being up for hours. I won't have you disturb him."

"But Mill is -"



"You want to sleep on the couch?"

Duo's mouth shut with a click.


There was soft ringing as Solo slowly surfaced from his deep sleep. He felt the warmth around him suddenly disappear. He frowned and shifted until he found the warmth again.

Solo vaguely heard soft murmurs from the warmth. There was a sharp intake of a gasp of air and stronger murmurs.

Solo whined and snuggled into the warmth, trying to go back to sleep. He was just floating away when a hand shook him and dragged him back into consciousness.

"Solo...." Mill's voice drove the last of his sleep away.

"What is it?," said Solo with a yawn.

"Solo, can you accompany me to Elysia's fu-."

"You said you didn't fancy her!" Solo looked up in alarm. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he noted that he had snuggled into Mill's arms but at the moment, he was annoyed because Mill was talking about Elysia first in the morning. "And even if you did, why should I ac-"

"Solo." Mill tightened his arms around Solo. "Elysia's funeral."

Solo blinked, "Huh?"

"Will you accompany me to her funeral?"

When the words sank into his brain, Solo felt the air in his lungs suddenly disappear. "Funeral? Elysia? She... She..."

"She passed away yesterday evening."

"What? How?" Solo sputtered, "You are joking, right?"

"I wish I was." Mill looked down at him. Solo could see how distressed his blonde friend was.

"Mill..." Solo brought his hands up and hugged the blond boy. "I'm sorry."

"Me too," Mill mumbled.


Solo stood next to Mill as they attended Elysia's funeral. He watched as many people, family and friends gathered around Elysia's coffin. It was made from glass and he could see Elysia inside it, dressed in a white dress and surrounded by flowers. Elysia has passed away in her sleep. She wasn't sick or had an accident. Her heart just chose to stop beating. In the glass coffin, she looked peaceful, as if she was just sleeping.

Solo watched Elysia's mother sobbing onto her husband's chest as Elysia was lowered into the ground. The woman was the one who found her daughter when she came to wake her up. Solo couldn't imagine how the woman was feeling at the moment. He glanced at Mill. The blond was staring ahead, his face reflecting nothing of what he was thinking or feeling. Solo hesitantly touched Mill's hand. Mill's face didn't change but his hand caught Solo's and held it firmly.

Solo squeezed back and they stayed like that until the funeral was over. There was a cross standing where Elysia has been laid to rest. Elysia's mother had been taken home and other people started dispersing. Solo squeezed Mill's hand.

This time Mill looked at him in question.

"Are you okay?" asked Solo.

Mill looked back at the standing cross and then the sky. "I don't know."

Solo didn't know what to say.

"Her mother and friends were crying," Mill spoke again, "Hell, Gillian was crying too. But I don't feel like crying. I even didn't feel sad. I think I feel rather guilty, but definitely not sad ."


"I'm a bad person, aren't I?" Mill said, still looking at the sky.

"If you are a bad person, then me too." Solo spoke up.

Mill looked at him in surprise.

"We both only met her twice and spent short time with her. We didn't know her well enough to mourn her." Solo then looked at the cross, "I guess we both feel guilty because we didn't try to spend more time with her."

Mill didn't say anything for a long time. Solo let him be, lost in his own thoughts. He had his own guilt to deal with. Guilt that appeared because he had resented the girl without any reason.

A squeeze to his hand drew Solo from his brooding.

"We are both fools, aren't we?" asked Mill, still regarding the cross.

"That we are," Solo nodded.

"Regret always comes too late," Mill added.

"Heh, you and me, both." Solo squeezed back.

They looked at each other and smiled slightly in understanding.

"Let's say goodbye to Elysia." Mill gestured toward the cross.

Solo nodded.

Together, hand in hand, they approached the cross and bent forward. They kissed the cold stone cross from both sides.

"Good night, princess," Solo whispered.

"May you have a peaceful sleep," Mill added his own whisper.



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