PART THIRTY SIX
wrinkled his nose at the scent that rose up to greet him as he
followed Trowa down the long pier to the ship that was taking
them back to Macir. It was a combination of sea water, dead fish,
old wood and something unidentifiable. He hoped the ship didn't
smell like this or it would not be a pleasant trip.
Turning his attention away from the smell, Quatre watched Trowa as he walked in front of him. If his feelings weren't confusing enough, the kiss of a few days before had only muddied the waters further. He really didn't know what he felt toward the tall man and he sure didn't understand Trowa's motives. Just when he thought he knew where things were going, Trowa did something to change them. Quatre wasn't sure if Trowa liked him, lusted after him, hated him or what. He was so afraid to do the wrong thing that he was growing wary of doing anything at all. Even what he should call him seemed to change without warning.
When Trowa stopped at the ramp leading up to the deck of the ship, Quatre also stopped. He slowly looked the ship over from front to back. He'd never seen such a large ship before. "Master?"
Trowa looked back at his blond slave. "Yes, Quatre?"
"What about the horses? Shouldn't we have just ridden them back.? It doesn't seem right to leave them here." Quatre was very nervous about getting on something that was supposed to stay on a very deep body of water. He didn't see how something so large could possibly float without sinking, especially when you started putting things on it.
Trowa made note of Quatre's nervousness. "They are going back with us."
"They are already loaded on the ship."
Quatre swallowed hard at that bit of news. He hadn't known horses could get on ships, too. "Will they be all right?"
"They'll be fine. The company that owns this vessel has a group of well trained handlers that sail with any shipment containing animals. They'll probably be better off than we are."
"Damn that's a big ship," Duo suddenly interrupted as he bound up to them. "And what is that smell? Smells like something died. I hope it don't smell like that for the whole trip. Makes my stomach turn."
"And anything that would prevent him from eating would be tragic," Wufei commented dryly as he walked up with Heero and Sally.
"Damn right," Duo retorted. He slid up to Heero. "Heero likes me to be ready to go at any time. Right, Heero?"
Heero glared at the long haired slave.
"See, I told you so."
Trowa shook his head. "Let's get on board. They'll be sailing soon and I'd like to get settled into our cabins." Turning, he headed up the ramp to the ship.
Quatre glanced over at Duo, who shrugged before following Heero. With a sigh Quatre moved forward, hoping that this trip would be uneventful. In any way.
Fortunately for Quatre's peace of mind, the ship set sail without incident. He was also glad to find that he had no trouble getting used to the slight motion the ship made. In fact, the huge camels the Wasin rode swayed more than the ship did and he had never had any trouble when riding one of them.
Moving carefully around the small cabin that had been assigned to him, Quatre put away the things he had brought with him. The cabin was connected to Trowa's and was obviously used as sleeping quarters for the slaves traveling with their masters. Actually, Quatre didn't mind the small room. It was less trouble to keep clean and he really didn't have a lot of things any way.
The sudden knock at the door made him jump in surprise. Moving silently across the floor, he reached the door and opened it. "Master?"
Trowa stood looking at the blond. He's so small, was the inane thought that ran through Trowa's mind. "Are you ready for dinner?"
Quatre blinked in surprise, for more than one reason. "Is it that late, Master?"
"Yes." Trowa turned and walked away from the door, passing through his own cabin on his way to the door that lead the passage beyond. He paused when he realized that Quatre hadn't followed him. "Come on. We are dining with the Captain tonight and we don't want to keep him waiting."
Quatre stood unmoving in the doorway. He didn't think that slave ate with their masters, even on ships. He'd expected to be sent something or told to go the kitchen and get something to bring back to the room. "You want me to eat with you, Master?"
Trowa sighed. "Where else did you think you were eating?"
"In here, Master."
"Why would you think that?"
"I am only a slave, Master. I would not presume to be allowed to eat with the regular guests of this ship."
Trowa turned around, noting that Quatre was looking at the floor and not at him. He knew his behavior towards the young man was confusing, but he was just as confused. Just when he had things figured out, another piece would appear and the picture would grow muddled once more.
"It is easier all the way around if you join me for dinner. I do expect you to behave, but your presence will not be questioned. Now come on. We don't want to keep the others waiting."
Quietly Quatre walked across the room and fell in behind Trowa. "As you command, Master."
Trowa winced but said nothing. He'd wanted an obedient slave and he had apparently gotten one.
Wufei was leaning against the wall outside the door, a frown on his face. "It's about time."
Trowa nodded to him as he walked by. "I hadn't realized it was getting so late. I'm sorry."
Wufei glared at Quatre, who stopped to let Wufei go first. "Perhaps you should get a slave that can tell time."
Trowa looked over at Wufei." What's got your shorts in a twist?"
"It wouldn't happen to be a certain pretty young lady who decided to return to Macir with us, would it?"
"Why should I care what that woman does?"
Trowa smiled slightly as he stopped outside of Heero and Duo's door. "I don't know. You tell me."
Wufei glared angrily at Trowa and crossed his arms across his chest. "Let's just get Heero and his loud mouthed companion and get moving. I'm hungry."
Trowa just nodded before knocking on the door.
After a minute the door opened and Duo looked out. "Uh, hi. Is it that late? I guess you're going to dinner, right?"
"Yes," Wufei snapped. "Now get Heero and let's go."
"Uh, we're not going. So you can go on without us."
Trowa frowned. "What's wrong?"
Wufei stepped forward. "There will be plenty of time for screwing around later. I am hungry and do not want to wait for you and Heero to get ready. Now come on."
Duo looked down at the floor." It's not that," he protested. "It's just that...." He was suddenly interrupted by a soft moan.
"Duo?" Heero's voice floated out from the cabin.
Duo glanced back into the room." I'll be just a minute. The others are here to go to dinner."
Another soft moan was his only answer.
"Duo," Wufei snapped, loosing his patience.
"Duo, what is wrong?" Trowa asked calmly.
"Heero's seasick," Duo blurted out.
at him for a minute." He's what?"
"Seasick. You know, nausea, vomiting, feeling miserable. The whole thing. He certainly is not interested in eating. I told him I'd stay here and keep him company. If you could just bring me something back, I'd appreciate it."
Wufei slowly shook his head. "I can't believe Heero Yuy is seasick."
"Yeah, well, he is. So you go on to dinner and don't worry about us."
Trowa looked at the braided man for a minute. "I'll see if I can get some food sent down. And I'll see if they have anything to help Heero feel better."
"Uh, could you have the food sent to your room. If he feels like I do when I'm sick, even the smell of food is not something he wants. I'll just eat it there."
"All right. I'll have them let you know when it arrives."
"Thanks. Have fun." With a slight smile he closed the door.
"And I thought that some of the other things that have happened on this trip have been strange," Wufei commented.
"Well, he did say he'd never been on a ship before." Trowa glanced back at Quatre, who was waiting patiently." Are you all right?"
"Have you been on a ship before?"
"No, Master. But I've ridden Wasin camels and they sway a great deal more than this ship."
"Just let me know if you start feeling sick."
"Then let's get going. They won't hold dinner for us." Trowa moved away from the door and headed down the passage. Wufei followed quickly behind.
Quatre glanced at the doorway. Who would have thought it would be Heero that would be made sick by this ship. If I was to pick someone it would not have been him. I hope it is only the motion of the ship that has made him ill and not something more serious. Should I say something to Trowa about it or not? Perhaps I should. With everything that has happened it would be better to be cautious.
With that thought firmly in place, Quatre followed after the others.
PART THIRTY SEVEN
The soft whisper of the wind through the sails, the creak of the ship and the gentle slap of the waves against the bow all combined together into a soothing symphony of sounds that lulled Chang Wufei as he stood on the moonlit deck of the ship. He stood near the railing and closed his eyes, enjoying the sounds of a ship at sea. The others would have been surprised to see him so relaxed and.... free.
It had been some time since he had been on a ship and he found the voyage to be as soothing as always. Perhaps it is finally been long enough. Perhaps I should think of returning home.
Even as relaxed as he was, though, he was still alert enough to know when someone stepped onto the deck and approached him. Stiffening in readiness he spun around to see who had dared invade his solitude.
Recognizing the approaching figure, he straightened with a soft curse. "What do you want, woman?"
Sally gave him an innocent look as she stepped up to the rail beside him. "This isn't your ship. I'm allowed to walk around if I want to. I thought I'd come out and enjoy the night air."
"And follow me."
Sally looked at him. "You have a more colossal attitude than I first thought, thinking that way. You are not the only man in this world. And there certainly are plenty that are much more interesting than you."
"Every time I turn around you are there," Wufei retorted, leaning against the rails. "Like some damn shadow."
"We just both happen to be going in the same direction."
Wufei snorted his opinion of that statement. After a moment he glanced over at her. "Is there something wrong that you cannot even dress like a woman?"
Sally looked down at her clothes. She was wearing her favorite riding clothes, made of soft leather. "Why do you insist on trying to make people into things they are not? This is who I am."
"A woman pretending to be a man."
"I never claimed to be a man. Simply do not think that people should be looked at in a certain way simply because of what they were born as."
"So you think that women can do anything that men do."
"I didn't say that. There are something's that men do that women can't." A smile crossed her face. "Like pee standing up."
Wufei sputtered in indignation at her comment.
"And there are things that women do that men can't. But I don't think anyone should be limited by their sex, or their looks, or anything else. They should be able to find out for themselves what they are capable of doing."
Wufei stared out to sea. Sally's comments reminded him of what another woman had said to him. "You sound like someone I knew."
"Yes. She too wanted to be allowed to be what she wanted, not what was expected of her."
"And what did she want to be?"
"A warrior. She wanted to defend the clan from our enemies. Not sit around waiting for others to do it."
"She sounds like a strong person."
"She was." He was quiet for moment. "And her strength is what got her killed."
"What was she to you? Your sister?"
"I didn't think you were old enough to be married."
"We were betrothed at birth. When we reached age we were married."
"And she didn't like the fact she wasn't given a choice."
"No. Her life was mapped out for her from the moment of her birth, as was mine. She just chaffed more at what she saw as bonds than I did. I saw no reason to fight. My life was good and calm, I didn't see why she had to go shaking things up. But she always was questioning. She was never satisfied with the answer."
"Did you love her?"
"I don't know. I was never given the chance to find out. I did admire her, secretly, for rocking the boat. But I never told her that."
"How did she die?"
is one of the smaller ones, but my people are very proud. My
father had been chosen to be the next Guardian, a great honor
that many of the Houses fought for. So much so, that while the
men were away on a hunting expedition, a larger House attacked.
They hoped that by destroying us, their House would be named the
Guardian instead. Merian would not stand by and let that happen.
She grabbed a sword and flung herself into the battle without a
thought of what might happen. By the time I was able to join her,
it was too late. She had been mortally wounded, but not before
killing their leader." He was silent for a long moment.
"She died in my arms, never knowing how proud of her I
He turned and looked at Sally. "I swore I would never allow a strong woman to become such an important part of my life. That it would only lead to misery. And yet here I stand, finding myself becoming more and more intrigued by you with each passing moment. And you are perhaps even stronger than she was. It frightens me more than any thing I have ever faced."
"Would it help to know that I feel the same way?"
"So what do we do about it?"
Sally smiled as she stepped closer to him. "See what happens next. And enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts. It may be the worst thing that has ever happened to either of us. Or it might just be the most wonderful thing in the world."
Wufei sighed as he wrapped his arms around her. I hope you understand, my wild one. A soft breeze whispered across him, almost as if in answer and he knew that his first love approved.
Quatre lay staring at the ceiling, his thoughts uneasy. Though the day had passed quietly, especially since Wufei and Sally seemed to have reached some kind of understanding with each other and Duo had been kept occupied taking care of Heero, Quatre couldn't help but feel as if something was brewing on the horizon. It wasn't something he could put his fingers on, just a vague feeling that niggled at the back of his mind.
After a few minutes he rose to his feet and headed across the room. Perhaps if he checked on the others and assured he they were all right he would finally be able to sleep.
But the sight that met his eyes when he entered the main cabin did nothing to ease his worries. The bed were Trowa should have been peacefully sleeping was empty, with no indication that it had even been touched that night.
His brow creasing with worry, Quatre slipped from the room and headed down the passageway. He hoped that Trowa had simply gone to Duo and Heero's cabin to see how Heero was doing and perhaps to talk. Pausing outside the room, he tried to listen through the door, not wanting to disturb them if that was the case. There was no sounds coming from the cabin within, though, and he carefully opened the door. Peeking in told him that Trowa was not here and he closed the door quickly, not want to disturb the other two men's rest.
He started to head for Wufei's cabin, but something made him change his mind and he headed up on deck instead. Thought the wind was light and the moon was shining on the water, Quatre could tell that there might be rain by daybreak. The waters seemed more agitated than it had been and there were clouds scuttling across the moon.
A quick glance
around the deck told him nothing, so he began to make his way
along the side towards the bow. Just as he was about to head down
below to continue his search, he spotted two things that made the
breath catch in his throat.
One was Trowa, standing at the bow of the ship and staring off into the distance. The breeze would catch his cloak and cause it to billow up now and then, but otherwise he looked as if he was a statue that had been placed there to guard the ship and guide her on a safe voyage.
The other thing Quatre saw was much more disturbing. A figure was heading towards Trowa, slipping from shadow to shadow in an obvious effort not to be seen. Now and then the moon would gleam off something the figure carried in its hand.
Stifling the cry that rose in his throat, Quatre dashed forward, trying not to make any sounds to alert the person of his presence and hoping he could reach it before it reached Trowa.
He had almost reached the figure when it stopped and raised its hand into the air, revealing the dagger that it carried. At the same time the wind suddenly blew hard across the ship, throwing back the figure's hood and revealing what appeared to be a long braid of hair.
Quatre didn't have time to think or to yell out a warning, he simply reacted. Flinging himself at the figure, he grabbed the first thing he could get his hand on. The braid. Even as he yanked back he remembered what Angil had taught him, When it comes to a fight, especially to the death, don't worry about fighting fair. They sure won't. Do anything and everything to hurt them first.
So he did. With all the fury of the great Delminar that was the symbol of his people he attacked, lunging onto the figure's back and trying to use his weight to throw the other off balance. He used his fists, his nails, his feet and his teeth as he bit, scratched, clawed, punched and kicked; doing anything he could think of to get the knife away and force the unknown assailant away from Trowa.
His method seemed to work at first, the suddenness of it obviously throwing the attacker off balance. But after a moment the other recovered. Surging backward, Quatre found himself slammed into one of the large wooden crates that littered the deck. Gasping for breath, he was forced to release his hold.
But the advantage of surprise had been lost and the attacker knew it. With a sudden move, the dark figure jumped to the railing of the ship and dove over the side.
Though Trowa quickly reached the side of the ship, there was no sign of anyone or anything. Hearing someone gasping for air, he turned to find Quatre collapsed in a heap on the deck of the ship. He moved to the young blond's side and helped him to sit up. "Are you all right?"
Quatre managed to nod even as he struggled to get air back into his aching lungs. "Just.... had the .....wind..... knocked out ...... of me.. ," he gasped out.
Trowa looked grim as he helped Quatre to his feet. "Who ever it was got away, again."
"I'm sorry, Master. I....."
Trowa looked at the contrite boy. "You saved my life. Don't berate yourself for your efforts. I owe you."
"But if I had...."
"Another day. Don't worry about it. Let's get you back to the cabin and check your back to make sure it's not seriously hurt."
Quatre sighed as Trowa guided him down to the cabin. Just when we could have found out who is behind all this. Stupid. You should have held on better.
"Hey guys, how's it going?" Duo's overly cheerful voice called out as he and Heero entered the cabin the next morning.
"Maxwell, must you be so awake in the morning?" Wufei's gruff voice complained.
Duo simply laughed.
Quatre turned around to say something to Duo and found he couldn't. All he could do was stare at Duo's face. For Duo was sporting a black eye and had a long scratch down his right cheek.
Duo realized Quatre was staring at him and raised his hand unconsciously to his cheek. "Doesn't hurt as bad as it looks."
"What happened?" Wufei demanded.
"Heero got a little restless in his sleep last night. I tried to calm him down and he hit me. It's no big deal. At least he didn't try and choke me this time."
Quatre glanced over at Heero, who had taken a seat on the small couch and was watching Duo quietly. He seemed upset about something, but Quatre dared not ask what might be wrong. Instead he turned to look at Duo again. An image flickered through his mind, of a figure with a long braid of hair and a knife. And of himself, punching and scratching that figure.
Slowly he closed his eyes, Please Great One, no.
"Q, you okay?" Duo asked as he walked over. Quatre couldn't help but notice he was limping ever so slightly.
"I'm fine. Just not awake yet."
"Oh. Kinda early?" Duo turned and headed for Heero. Quatre couldn't help but stare at the long sleeved shirt he wore. What did it hide? Did it hide more scratches and bite marks? Ones that he had inflicted on Trowa's attacker.
"He was up late last night," Trowa informed him as he walked into the room. "I was rather stupid last night and went for a walk." He paused. "It was nearly my last. Our shadow tried to attack me, but Quatre chased her away."
"Where to?" Wufei demanded. "Why didn't you go after her?"
"I don't swim that well. She jumped overboard."
"Stupid thing to do," Duo muttered.
Trowa shrugged. "We're not that far from shore, really. She probably could have swum it easily."
"So we still don't know who's behind this," Wufei complained.
"No. But we'll be home tomorrow and I can confront my cousin. Maybe then we'll get some answers."
"Let's hope so."
But when they
arrived in the harbor the next day a surprising sight met their
The docks were quiet, with only a few people to land the ship waiting around.
"What's going on?" Wufei asked as he stepped from the ship.
"That's a good question. There should be a lot more people here," Trowa replied, looking around. "I can't imagine....."
"Master? What is that?" Quatre asked, pointing toward the center of town.
Trowa looked at where Quatre was pointing and gasped. The large tower that marked the center of town was draped in black cloth. A symbol of mourning used only when someone of great importance had died. Like the King. "Oh, no." He spun around. "Wufei, you and Sally take care of unloading our things and taking them back to the house. Heero, come with me. I need to find out what happened."
"What does it mean?" Wufei asked.
"Someone very high up is dead. Like my uncle. I need to find out what happened."
The others immediately swung into action, Heero sending Duo ahead to secure a carriage for them. Within moments they were on their way to the palace.
What can happen now? Quatre wondered.
PART THIRTY EIGHT A
Trowa sat staring out the window as the carriage rolled through the mostly empty streets. If there was any doubt that anything was wrong, the condition of the streets erased it. What few people Trowa saw were all wearing black bands on their right arms, a sign of mourning. The fact that the black bands also had a strip of purple through them indicated that it was a member of the royal family that was dead. The last time Trowa had seen those bands was when his father had been killed.
The fifteen minute trip seemed like an eternity, but finally they arrived at the castle. Trowa had barely gotten out of the carriage when a member of the household was rushing up to him. Trowa recognized him as Lord Jacob Weston, his uncle's head advisor.
The man looked relieved to see Trowa as he stopped in front of him. "Lord Trowa, I'm glad to see you got back so quickly. I was afraid that the message would take longer to reach you."
"What message?" Trowa asked.
The man blinked in surprise. "Why, the message I sent telling you of the accident and asking you to return as quickly as possible."
"I never received a message. There was some trouble on the trip and I decided to return earlier than planned. My ship just arrived at the docks. When I saw the black flags I came straight here to find out what had happened."
"Oh, dear. Then you don't know what happened. I'm sorry. Why don't you go to the library and I'll get His Majesty for you. I'm sure you'd rather here it from him, anyway." With that the man turned and hurried away.
Duo looked around nervously. "Is that such a good idea?"
Trowa sighed. "It doesn't look like we have much of a choice. Let's go. Just be alert."
Heero noticed that Duo's fingers flickered lightly across his right wrist, as if checking for something. He had a feeling that the knife he'd bought for him was hidden beneath the sleeve of Duo's shirt and had probably been there since he'd gotten it. It would explain why Duo had suddenly taken to not rolling up the sleeves of his shirt, as he was accustomed to doing.
Trowa looked around the library. There was no one in the room and he didn't see anyone hidden in the shadows. "Quatre."
"I need to check on something, fetch me the book Dark Passages please. It's over near the fireplace."
Quatre blinked in bewilderment at Trowa's strange request, but moved across the room to obey. Quickly locating the book, he went to pull it out. To his surprise the book appeared to be stuck. Giving it a hard tug he managed to pull it forward.
There was a sudden grinding sound and the fireplace beside him swung silently open.
Trowa had tensed when Quatre had gone across the room, but he relaxed when the fireplace swung open to reveal no one. "Thank you. I wanted to make sure there would be no surprises from that way."
Duo blinked. "How many rooms have this little secret?"
"Most. It was designed as a way for the king to escape if the palace was ever attacked, no matter where he might be. My cousin and I used to play hide and seek in them."
Heero nodded. "A good place for an ambush."
Trowa sighed. "If Michal is behind everything. I didn't want to take any chances."
Just then the door to the library slowly began to open.
Bracing himself, Trowa turned to wait for the person to come into the room. When the figure entered the first thing Trowa felt was one of relief. The second was confusion. "What happened?"
Saddened eyes met his. "I was told you hadn't heard. It was a horrible accident. He was killed instantly."
PART THIRTY EIGHT B
"They had gone hunting. His horse tripped over something and he was thrown off. It must have been unexpected because he landed badly and.... and broke his neck. He was killed instantly."
Trowa moved forward to wrap a comforting arm around his uncle's shoulders. He knew he should say something, but nothing came to him.
Gawain shuddered. "I know he wasn't always the best person, but he was my son."He looked sadly at his nephew. "And now you are all I have left. My only family and now my heir."
Trowa shifted uncomfortably. "I don't think that is such a good idea, Uncle."
"Why not? You are the last of the family."
"And it will probably stay that way. I doubt if I will ever have any children. You should find someone who can carry on the line for you."
"No. You are my heir and that is final."Gawain stepped away from Trowa and walked over to the fireplace. "Jacob told me you never received his message. That there was some trouble that made you return. What happened?"
"Nothing that you need to worry about."
Gawain turned and looked at Trowa. "Anything that involves you worries me. What happened?"
Trowa sighed. "There were a couple of accidents that seemed rather...."
"Yes. One or more of us could have been killed. I thought it was wiser to return here."
Gawain looked at him for a long moment. "You think Michal had something to do with it."
Trowa looked uncomfortably at the others. "Uncle."
"You came back to confront him, didn't you?"Gawain sighed. "I am sorry. I didn't think he would take me so seriously. I certainly never thought he would stoop to such tactics. I hope none of you were seriously hurt."
Trowa blinked. "What do you mean?"
"I was angry with him after the incident with your slave. I wasn't blind to his faults, although I admit at times it seemed like it. I told him that maybe I should name you my heir, since he was obviously not responsible enough to handle the duties that came with being ruler. He wasn't very happy with that. I had hoped to make him wake up and act like a grown man, not a spoiled child. Obviously, if you felt strongly enough about him being involved that you cut short your trip to come home, I failed."Gawain sighed again. "And now I will never have the chance to make things right."
Trowa stepped over to his uncle. "You can only do so much. He behaved the way he did because he chose to. I doubt if there was anything more you could have done."
Gawain smiled sadly. "You always were more forgiving. If you would like, you may go through his things. Perhaps there will be something there that will answer your questions."
"Thank you. I will, but not right now. It's been a long day and when I saw the mourning flags I came straight here."
"Because you thought it was me."
"Thank you for your concern. You are right, you should go home and rest. We can discuss things at a later time."
Trowa gently hugged his uncle. "But not too much later."
"You won't change my mind. There is nothing that you can say that will make me fell any different."
"We'll see."Trowa looked over at the others. "Ready to go?"
Three heads nodded their agreement.
Trowa gave his uncle one more quick hug before leading the others from the room.
Gawain watched them go. "Nothing. Not even when you tell me you are in love with your slave."
Duo sighed as he leaned back. He had been a little surprised when Trowa had insisted that he and Quatre ride inside with him and Heero. But he was glad, riding outside would have been uncomfortable, since it had started to rain while they had been in the palace. "I don't know about you all, but I think that seemed a bit anti-climatic. I mean here we are already to confront Michal and instead we find out he managed to get himself killed."
Heero reached over and rubbed a hand along Duo's arm. "Fate has a strange way of catching up with people."
"Yeah, but to fall off your horse and break your neck. That's gotta suck."
"At least it's over."Trowa commented softly.
"You hope. Maybe whoever was hired to kill whoever still has a grudge. I still think we need to be alert. Never know where the killer might be lurking."
Heero nodded in agreement. "Until we know for certain who was behind the attacks and have captured that person we shouldn't let our guard down. Just because it is likely the head is dead, doesn't mean the body isn't still kicking."
Trowa grimaced at Heero's choice of words, but he understood what he meant. "We'll give my uncle a few more days to mourn, then we'll go through Michal's things. As he said, maybe the answer we're looking for is there. And hopefully his death has at least shaken his subordinates enough that there will be no problems for the next couple of days."
"We can only hope."
Heero smiled a little as he walked up behind Duo and wrapped his arms around the long haired boy's waist. "You're quiet."
Much to Duo's shock and pleasure, Heero had calmly informed him that he would no longer be sleeping in the slaves' quarters. He wanted him to move into the room with him. "Just tired. Guess I was a bit pumped up for a confrontation with Michal. Now that it didn't happen I feel...."
"Yeah. If you don't mind I think I'm going to lay down for a while."
Heero turned Duo around to face him. He noticed the tight lines of pain around Duo's eyes. "Are you sure you are all right? You look like you hurt."
"I'm fine. I've got a bit of a headache, but a nap will take care of that."
"If you are sure."
"I am. Wake me when it's dinnertime."
Heero nodded. "I will."He watched as Duo turned and walked over to the bed. "Sleep well."
Duo smiled at him but said nothing.
It was several hours later when Heero returned to the room. For a long moment he simply watched the sleeping form on his bed, wondering how he had ever gotten so lucky.
Sighing slightly he reached over to shake Duo awake. "Duo."
Dark violet eyes snapped open. "Don't touch me,"Duo hissed.
Heero blinked in surprise. "What's wrong?"
Duo's arm lashed out and he slapped Heero's hand away from him. Sitting up he glared angrily at the confused man. "I said don't touch me. I'm sick and tired of having to take what you want to dish out."
Heero stared in shock at the boy in front of him. He'd never heard this soft deadly tone of voice from Duo before. "Duo...."
"I've had it,"Duo snapped, jumping to his feet. "I won't lay here while you fuck me like some damn doll. Not anymore. I may just be your damn slave, but I have feelings and thoughts just like everyone else."Suddenly there was a gleam of metal in Duo's hand as he produced the knife he'd been hiding. "It ends right now. No more. Not from you or anyone. No more fucking, no more beating, no more experimenting, NO MORE."
Suddenly Duo lunged forward, the red of the jewel in the knife glinting in the light.
Heero was so stunned by Duo's unexpected attack that he did nothing to defend himself. He gasped in pain as the blade sank deep into his shoulder. The pain served as a catalyst, snapping him from his shock. His hand shot out and he grabbed a hold of Duo's arm before he could pull the blade free and use it again. "Duo. It's me. It's Heero. What's wrong?"
Duo was sobbing as he struggled to free himself. "No more. I can't take it anymore. You're not a man, you're a monster. I just wanna be free. You're just like all the others. You say pretty things, but they are just lies. You make me sick, when you touch me. You get your kicks outta watchin' me scream, don't you."
Each of Duo's words was a blow to Heero's gut. He had never thought that Duo had felt that way. "Duo."
Duo's struggles grew more violent and he started hitting on Heero with his free hand. "I'm gonna kill you, just like I did the other one. You'll go to hell with him cause I am Shinigami and I'm gonna send you there. I'm not gonna let you stick those things in me anymore. You won't ever hurt no one again. I'll see to that."
Duo started sobbing harder as he twisted in Heero's grasp. "Let me go. Damn it get your hands off of me. I don't want no more of those drugs in me. I don't like the things they do to me. They hurt. Let me go. I wanna go. I don't wanna be yours no more. I...."
Just then one of Duo's flailing hand hit Heero's injured shoulder. With a gasp, Heero release his grip on Duo.
Duo took the opportunity to bolt, slamming out of the room as if there were demons on his tail.
Even as Heero moved to follow, he reached up to pull the dagger from his shoulder. He suddenly understood what was going on. Duo wasn't aware of who he had been yelling at. His memories had obviously reached up and dragged him into the past.
Heero had barely taken two steps down the hall when he literally ran into Trowa. "Move. I've got to catch Duo."
Trowa was stunned when he saw the blood running down Heero's arm. "What happened?"he asked as he reached out to support Heero.
"It's nothing. I've got to catch Duo before he hurts himself."
"Heero, who did this? Is that woman in here?"
Heero looked at Trowa. He was delaying him, costing him precious moments. "Duo. Duo stabbed me, all right. I've got to get to him before he hurts himself."
Trowa gasped. "Duo?"
"He didn't mean it. He's.....not himself. It happens. Sometime he gets so caught up in his memories that he can't tell what's real and what isn't. He thought I was someone else."Heero suddenly sagged. "I have to get to him. Calm him down."
Trowa slid his arm around Heero's waist. "You need a doctor. You're bleeding, badly."
"No. Duo is what's important."
Trowa looked at his friend. He was concerned about the pallor of Heero's face. It was obvious to him that only Heero's stubbornness was keeping him on his feet. "QUATRE!"
The little blonde appeared almost immediately. "Master?"
"You have to go after Duo and bring him back. He's..... upset and not himself. Be careful though, he might try and hurt you or himself. He's already hurt Heero."
Quatre looked over at the other man, a little shocked to see the blood. "Why?"
"He's caught up in his memories and doesn't know where he is,"Heero whispered, his voice noticeably weaker. "He thinks he's still with that bastard that owned him before. You have to get him calmed down. He'll listen to you. Please, bring him back."
Quatre nodded. "I will."Turning he dashed down the hall. Maybe this being trapped in his past was what happened that night on the ship, if it was him. With all the stress he's been under it wouldn't be surprising. I hope I can get to him before he does anything more. The little bit he's told me wasn't good. He's a trained killer and he's afraid enough to use those skills against anyone who tries to stop him. I just hope I can get through to him. Great One, please help me. Watch out for him until I can catch up to him.
PART THIRTY NINE
Quatre moved quickly down the hallway, alert for any sign of Duo's passing. Luckily, his choices so far had been right. The people that he passed gave indication, either by action or word, that Duo had already been by. More fortunately, Duo seemed only intent on escaping.
When Quatre burst out of the house onto the side street, he paused, looking right and left. There was nothing that he could see that would give him any indication of which direction Duo might have taken.
Where would Duo go? He's scared and confused. He's going to want
to go somewhere he feels safe. But where would that be in this
city? I doubt if he really has many good memories of any place
around here. Just the ones with Heero. And most of those are
still not very close by. Quatre closed his eyes for a
moment, trying to remember if Duo had ever mentioned a special
place here in the city. Suddenly a flash of a memory came, of him
and Duo talking about places to go in the city. Duo had admitted
that there was a small park not far from the house that he liked
to go to. That Heero had taken him there a lot, especially early
in their relationship. Duo had spoken fondly of the place. Maybe
that's where he is.
Hoping he was right, Quatre turned left and headed in the direction of the small park.
Trowa carefully guided Heero to a seat, pressing the piece of shirt he'd ripped off tightly against the wound. Though it was bleeding badly he didn't think that it was anything too serious.
Heero heard the question behind the softly spoken word, but he didn't know if he really wanted to answer it. It would mean bringing up things that he had promised himself never to talk about. He didn't want Duo reminded of the things that had happened and so he didn't talk about much about the beginning of his ownership and relationship with the long haired slave.
Slowly he leaned back, closing his eyes and focusing on ignoring the pain. Maybe Trowa's worry for him would put the question aside.
"What happened here?" a voice demanded as the doctor walked into the room.
"Heero's been stabbed," Trowa replied. "Right shoulder."
Doc moved over to Heero's side and promptly began examining the wound. "Lot of stabbing going on around here lately. Maybe you'd best start hiding the knives."
Heero opened his eyes and glared at Doc. "It was an accident."
"Of course. Now hold still so I can see how bad it is."
Heero sighed but remained silent as Doc probed the wound. "Not too bad, but it looks like it might have nicked an artery. I'm going to pack the wound and see if we can't get the bleeding stopped before I do anything else."
Trowa moved to Heero's side. "Heero?"
"We'll talk about it later."
Trowa frowned but knew he'd get nothing else out of Heero right now. But he would have his answers. Soon.
It took Quatre nearly fifteen minutes to reach the park and another five to find out that he had been correct in his guess. Curled up in a small ball under a tree in the back of the park was Duo.
Quatre approached slowly, not wanting to scare him and make him flee again.
Finally he was within a few feet of Duo. "Duo?" he whispered softly.
"Go away," came the choked reply, though Duo didn't lift his head. "Go away and leave me alone. Why won't you just leave me alone?"
"Duo. I'm not who you think I am. That man is gone. He's been dead for several years now."
Duo's body started to rock. "He hurts me."
"What is his name?"
"Kendall. Master Kendall. He sticks needles in me and makes me hurt. But I hurt him this time. I stuck a needle in him instead." Slowly Duo's head came up and he looked at his hands, which were stained with blood. "The red won't go away though. It's always there. So many. So much blood. But now it's his too. So he won't hurt me."
He looked at Quatre. "It was all right, right? To make the hurt go away. To make him go away so he won't hurt me no more. The stuff in the needles really hurt bad. And it made me do things I didn't want to do. It made my head feel funny."
Slowly he blinked and studied Quatre more closely. "Are you my angel?" he suddenly asked.
Quatre was surprised. "What?"
"Have you come to take me away? Angels do that right? Take people so they won't hurt no more. You're pretty and golden like an angel."
"No, Duo, I'm no angel. I'm a man like you. I'm Quatre, your friend."
Duo frowned. "Quatre?"
"Yes. Heero sent me to get you."
"Yes, your..... friend. He was worried when you ran away. You remember Heero?"
Duo frowned again. "Heero?"
"Yes, Heero. The one who takes care of you now. The one you love. He's very special to you, isn't he? You know he'd never do those things to you. That he would anyone who would try and hurt you. He loves you very much. Even though other still see him as your master, he doesn't. He only sees you as his life mate. His true love." Quatre held his breath, hoping that his words had penetrated the fog that seemed to have enveloped Duo's mind.
"Heero?" Duo's voice was puzzled.
Slowly Quatre saw Duo's eyes clear. After several minutes, Duo blinked and looked at Quatre with a different look in his eyes. "Quatre?" His voice was less frightened and childish than it had been.
Quatre moved slightly forward. "Yes?"
"Where am I? Why am I here? What happened?"
Quatre sighed in relief. "It's all right."
Duo looked down at his hands then back at Quatre. "What happened?" His voice was firm now, demanding answers.
Quatre looked away. He really didn't want to tell Duo what he had done. "Nothing much. You got upset and ran. Trowa had me come and get you."
"Why is there blood on my hands?"
Quatre rose to his feet. "We need to get back."
Duo also rose to his feet. "Quatre. What did I do? I don't remember anything much after leaving the palace."
Quatre sighed, knowing that Duo would press for answers. "You went to bed. You said you had a headache. When you woke up you thought you were still in the possession of your last master, Kendall. You ran to get away from him and I came after you."
"Who's blood is this?" He shoved his hand at Quatre.
Quatre looked downward. "Heero's," he whispered.
"You thought Heero was Kendall and you attacked him. You caught him in the shoulder. Trowa stayed with him and called for the doctor even though he was more concerned for you. He was afraid you would hurt yourself."
Duo's shoulders slumped. "I hurt Heero."
Duo looked at Quatre, a sad look stealing across his face. "I swore I would never let that part on me touch him. But it doesn't matter. Things will never change. I...."
"Well, well, well. Look what we have here." A harsh voice suddenly cut across the park. "Two little slaves all alone."
Quatre turned to find several men dressed in uniforms standing behind him.
"Bet they've run away, heh Jordin," another one commented.
The man at the front of the group smirked. "Sure looks that way. You two got your papers?"
Quatre blinked as he heard Duo curse quietly behind him. "Papers?"
"That's what I thought. Come on you two. You know what happens to runaway slaves in this city. March."
One guard moved forward. "Don't you do no back talking. Start walking. Or I'll make you move."
Quatre glanced back at Duo. Duo only shrugged and started following the men. With a sigh Quatre trailed behind. What have we gotten ourselves into now?
heh. That's a couple of lookers you got there."
"How come you got all the luck?"
Quatre cringed at the harsh voices that called out as he and Duo were escorted through the large room. He still wasn't sure what was going on or why they had been brought here. And he was even more confused by Duo's silent resignation to the situation.
Suddenly he was shoved into a small room. "You just stay right here, pretty boy. I'll be back to 'talk' to you in a minute."
As soon as the door to the room was shut Quatre moved over to Duo, who had taken a seat on the small bench that sat against the far wall. "Duo?"
Duo didn't even look up at him, just continued to stare at his hands.
Quatre hoped that he could get Duo talking, but before he could even form a question the door to the room slammed open and two of the men from the park walked in.
The called Jordin leered at the two. "Strip. Now."
Quatre blinked at the order in surprise. What is it with these people? Why in the world do they constantly want to see us naked?
Duo rose silently to his feet and began removing his clothing. Quatre noticed how stiffly Duo was moving, as if he wasn't really aware of what he was doing.
Frowning Quatre began to undress. He really didn't like this, not one bit.
"Well, they ain't carrin no weapons," the other man commented as he looked the two slaves over.
Jordin stepped forward and grabbed Duo's hand. "Where did this blood come from? Taking swings at your owner, boy?"
Duo simply stood there, staring at the ground.
Jordin forced Duo's hand open, then frowned in disappointment at what he found. "Ah hell, ain't nothing but a cut on his hand."
Quatre managed to keep a straight face at the comment. When had Duo had time to cut his hand so that the blood would appear to be his.
The other man shrugged as he looked at Quatre. "Who's your master, slave?"
"Lord Trowa, sir," Quatre replied.
*Crack* "Don't you be lying to me boy. I asked you a question and I expect an answer."
Quatre slowly brought his hand up to his check, which was already turning red from the force of the hit. "I'm not lying. I...."
The man swung out again, this time with enough force to knock Quatre back into the wall. "And don't talk back either."
Quatre looked up at him, but managed to keep from saying anything more. It was becoming obvious that nothing he said would be the right response. Maybe Duo's silence was the better way to go about this.
Jordin smirked. "We'll just go have someone find out if your lying or not, boy. And if you are...." The threat was left unsaid, but Quatre had no doubt as to the man's meaning, "Why don't you holler for someone to go do that, Heril?"
Heril looked at him for a moment. "You remember what the boss said. They catch you fucking one more runaway and it'll be your job."
Jordin leered at the two boys. "Oh don't worry. I ain't gonna fuck them. Got something else in mind. Be just as fun and we won't get in no trouble."
"Sure am. Hurry up."
"Be right back."
Quatre shuddered at the look that the two men exchanged. What was going to happen to him?
It was only a few minutes before Heril returned. "Okay, what you got planned?"
Jordin leered again. "Just wait and see." He turned and looked at Duo. "You, boy, are gonna do what I tell you, if you know what's good for you both. Got it?"
Duo slowly nodded without looking up.
"Good. Give blondie there a kiss. And make it good."
Quatre barely managed to stop his gasp of surprise. He couldn't be serious.
Duo slowly looked up. Then he turned and walked over to Quatre. There was a serious look on his face as he stopped in front of Quatre. "I'm sorry," he mouthed, before leaning in and placing his lips firmly over Quatre's.
Quatre could only gasp in surprise at what was happening.
Duo took advantage of Quatre's shock to slip his tongue into Quatre's mouth, gently exploring the moist cavern as he deepened the kiss.
"Yeah, that's it. Make it a good one. Now give him a blow job."
Quatre barely registered the command. The voice seemed to be coming to him from some distance. Most of his attention was focused on what Duo was doing to his mouth.
Slowly Duo pulled away and ran soft lips across Quatre's chin to his neck. "Just relax and follow my lead," he whispered in Quatre's ear.
"Duo," Quatre whimpered.
"If you wanna get out of here intact you'll play along," Duo hissed as he nuzzled Quatre's neck. "They just wanna a show. If we give them a good one they won't ask for nothing more."
"But Duo," Quatre moaned as he tossed his head back, his knees threatening to buckle at the feelings that were flooding him.
"Trust me." Duo slowly ran his mouth down Quatre's shoulder and across his chest. Breathing softly, he began to suck at Quatre's nipple, causing Quatre to moan louder.
Duo slowly let the pert flesh slide from his mouth, then puffed a soft breath of air across it. He knew that this had to be the performance of a life time, to keep both him and Quatre from getting into serious trouble. He would draw on everything he'd been taught over the years to make Quatre enjoy this and forget why it was happening.
Moving carefully, he nibbled his way down Quatre's stomach, placing gentle kisses along the way. He knew that in a minute the two men watching him would start demanding he pick up the pace, but he was determined to keep it slow for as long as possible.
Quatre gasped and grabbed a hold of Duo's hair when he felt Duo's tongue run across the bottom of his penis. He could only stand there and moan at the strange new feelings that flooded him. Whimpering at the pain/pleasure that arced through him, Quatre began instinctively moving his hips. He was rewarded with new sensations when Duo opened his mouth and let Quatre's erection slide in.
Duo could feel Quatre's shuddering and knew that it wouldn't take much to get the inexperienced boy off. He simply kept himself still and let Quatre's body do what it wanted to. He just hoped it would be enough for their two spectators.
Quatre's thrusts became more erratic as he struggle with the tide rising in him. He'd never felt like this before and it frightened him. But his body would not be denied and even though his mind had little knowledge about what was happening, his body knew what it wanted. With a choked cry of surprise, Quatre climaxed.
Duo relaxed his throat at the first spasm from Quatre, simply letting the fluid run down into his stomach. He knew that Quatre was not exactly thinking coherently at that moment.
After a minute or so Quatre moaned and sank to his knees. Duo let him slide free and cushioned his collapse.
Dazed blue-green eyes looked at him. "Duo?"
Duo grinned at the blonde. "Enjoy it?" he whispered.
"First time, huh?"
"That was pretty good," a harsh voice suddenly echoed through the room. "Now how about you two get onto the main event."
Quatre blinked in confusion as Duo cringed.
"You heard me. Start fucking."
Quatre looked at Duo. "He wants us to..." he whispered.
Duo nodded. Damn. I was hoping it would go this far. "It'll be all right. I'll tell you what to do."
"You're going to have to...... have sex with me. I'll be bottom. It'll be better that way."
Quatre could only stare at Duo in shock. They couldn't be serious. He couldn't be serious. "But...."
Duo ignored the confusion in Quatre's eyes. This was not the way the blonde should be introduced to sex. He should be with someone he loved, in the private intimacy of their bedroom. Not in front of two horny guards in a small holding cell.
"Just do what I tell you to. It will be all right."
Quatre blinked. "They want us to..... do what you and Heero were doing that one day."
"Let me get on my hands and knees. You get behind me and.... first, put your finger in my hole to stretch it out a little. Then put your dick in there and do the same thing that you did to my mouth."
Quatre stared at him. It sounded so.... clinical.
Duo was already moving, sliding his hands across Quatre's body to his penis. With a few deft strokes, he had Quatre stirring back to erectness. "Come on. You can do this."
Quatre swallowed hard as he rose to his knees. He couldn't believe what Duo wanted him to do. Very slowly he reached out with one hand and touched Duo's smooth butt. Blinking, he began running his hand slowly up and down, venturing closer to the center and the hidden entrance with each pass.
Duo twisted his head around to watch what Quatre was doing. He had to admit that the slowly cautious exportation was a turn on, but he knew that the two men wanted fucking, not fondling. "Quatre," he hissed. "Do it."
Quatre shifted so that he was more behind Duo. Reaching forward, he cautiously touched Duo with a trembling finger. "Duo," he whispered.
"Do it. Push it inside me."
Very slowly Quatre applied pressure, watching with a detached sort of fascination as the hole opened and granted his finger access.
Duo moaned and shoved backwards, forcing the finger deeper into his body. Lowering his head, he shifted forward to let the finger slide back out.
Quatre could only stare as Duo started humping his finger. Was this what he was supposed to be doing? It looked kinda uncomfortable to him, and Duo seemed really tight around his finger. He looked down at his erection. How was he supposed to get that into him without hurting him.
"Another one," Duo gasped, thrusting back. He'd forgotten all about their audience.
Quatre blinked. "What?"
"Another finger. Put in another finger."
Quatre did as he was told, adding a second finger. Duo shoved himself back and took both fingers into his body. "Spread them apart," he instructed, moaning as he felt Quatre obey. It was still gonna be a tight fit, but.... "Now take them out and put your dick in their place."
"Are you sure?"
"Just do it."
Quatre reluctantly pulled his fingers free, spreading them as far apart as he could while doing so. He didn't want to hurt Duo, but didn't know how to make it easier. Certainly there was a way to make it smoother. He looked down at himself and frowned a little. Maybe if he spread some of the fluid weeping from his dick onto himself and Duo that would help a little.
Duo gasped when he felt Quatre's fingers return, this time with something on them. Suddenly he realized what Quatre was trying to do. He closed his eyes at the feel of Quatre trying to make things better. "Do it," he hissed. "Please, Quatre. Just do it."
Quatre sighed in resignation as he drew himself close to Duo. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
"No," Duo sighed. "I am."
With a soft whimper Quatre pressed forward, feeling Duo slowly open to him. After a moment Duo surged backwards, taking all of Quatre into himself. Quatre gasped at the tight heat that suddenly engulfed his erection. He'd never felt anything like this. Even Duo's talented mouth paled in comparison to the tight cavern that now held him. With a groan he leaned forward across Duo's back, nuzzling at Duo's neck.
Duo sighed when he felt Quatre enter him. It wasn't really that bad. It wasn't Heero, but it wasn't like the others had been. "Move Quatre."
"Thrust. Pull out and then push back in. Fuck me."
Quatre groaned at Duo's last words but his body obeyed. Gasping for air he began to move, thrusting into the tight heat before drawing out again. Within moments he was pushing franticly, racing toward a peak that seemed just out of reach.
"Wrap your hands around my dick," Duo gasped. He moaned when Quatre did what he told him to. Closing his eyes, Duo began thrusting into the tight grip. He knew it wouldn't take much to get him off, not the way Quatre was hitting that spot inside him with every thrust.
"Oh, god," he gasped. "Quatre now. Do it. Come in me. Oh, god, I'm gonna....." With a soft wail, Duo's body spasamed as he shot thick ropes of fluid into Quatre's hands and onto the floor beneath him.
Quatre moaned when Duo's body suddenly tightened around him. With a cry of surprise he toppled over the edge, his body shaking as he exploded deep within the confines of Duo's body. "Oh, Great One," he moaned as he collapsed over Duo.
Duo sighed as he left Quatre's weight carry him to the ground. I'm sorry Heero. Trowa. I had to.
Quatre pressed his face against Duo's neck, inhaling the deep musk of Duo and trying to calm his trembling body. If this was what sex was like with a friend, he didn't even want to think of what it would be like with someone he was in love with. He now fully understood what Duo had meant. Slowly he closed his eyes, feeling Duo's shaking form beneath him. "I'm sorry Duo."
"No, I am. It was my fault." Duo sighed and was still.
Quatre felt Duo growing still beneath him. With a sigh Quatre let his mind drift away, ignoring the men in the room. If they want anything else, they'll just have to wait.
Onto Parts Forty One - Forty Five
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