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Slash and Yaoi Fiction

Chapter 8

"I told to give him a mask!"

Treize nearly regretted he started saying it; Wufei stopped lazy stirring of a spoon in a bowl of corn flakes and looked up. Wufei didn't eat much - ate so little, in fact, that sometimes Treize wondered how he managed to keep functioning. And now Treize interrupted one of those rare occasions.

But it was too late - and he had to talk.

Rivulets of milk turned under Wufei's spoon. His eyes were down. The long eyelashes seemed to be drawn in ink - until they rose, giving a flash of dark fire.

"What's the problem? He's not dead."

Exotic beauty of Wufei's face had nearly distracted Treize from what he wanted to say - but the voice, so casual, brought him back to his senses. Anger rose in him, dark, seething.

"I can't believe you just say it like this."

"I can't believe you make such a fuss because of a fuckin' morph, Treize."

Wufei talked in that deliberate, purring voice that had nothing in common with his normal one; Treize hated this voice. It alone added to his fury more than anything else.

"If I have to explain that even in war, not inflicting unnecessary suffering to an enemy is what distinguishes us from morphs, Wufei..."

The morph had spent almost two days in the sandstorm without protection; in the basement - it must've been hell... If he were a human, he would be dead.

"I know, I know." Wufei's bony hand waved, stopping him. For a moment, a flash of skin above his wrist was revealed and then a too long sleeve of his baggy sweater fell over it quickly. "You talked about it before."

"If I have to talk about it over and over..."

A spoon fell in the bowl; Wufei got on his feet.

"But I don't have to listen about it."

He was going to walk out and Treize didn't have a way to stop him; unless he'd apply force - but even in his fury he managed to keep away from it. Wufei had been forced enough in his life for him, Treize, to do it.

"Why are you worried so much?" Wufei didn't leave. He stopped close to Treize - so close that they nearly touched - nearly but not quite. Wufei's pale golden face was tilted up to Treize. This closeness made Treize's thoughts mess; he could almost feel the heat of Wufei's body - one more step and he'd feel the bird-like thinness of his bones...

Poisonously beautiful... so desirable... and unrepentant.

"It's a morph, Treize, you didn't forget it, did you? He might have a human face but it doesn't change what he is. He's as much a criminal as all the rest of them." Wufei's eyes were serious, looking at him unfalteringly - and Treize felt his resoluteness drain away. "He deserves everything he gets," Wufei continued. "He deserves to die a thousand deaths. That's what everyone thinks."

The words made Treize feel a flash of anger again.

"Everyone, right? I'm sick of this place turning into a brothel, with my people participating in gang rape and torture..."

But it's only because you, Captain, allowed them, Treize thought bitterly and stopped himself from thinking more. Yet Wufei knew him too well to spare him.

"Isn't it up to you, Treize, to stop it? There are so many ways to take care of him. Shoot him. Or take him to the desert at noon without protection. Or let him suffocate in the storm. And you'll get beautiful Zechs Merquise off of your hands. Well, not so beautiful any more - it's wearing him out, even with his morph's endurance, to serve as a bitch for the whole camp, you're right about it. But let me tell you something, Treize." Wufei's voice dropped so much Treize could barely figure out the words - and strained to hear, even knowing what would be said. "As long as you don't kill him - I'll do what I want."

"It's... inhumane."

"Inhumane?" Treize regretted immediately saying this word - but it was too late. "What are you talking about, Treize? Listen to yourself! You don't know what inhumane is. What did you see to judge about it?"

"It's not true..."

"You've seen nothing, Treize." The voice became merciless, lacing on his nerves with diamond hardness. "Your talks of right and wrong are just that - talks. You've never even been wronged in your life. Humane, inhumane... who the fuck cares? The morph should be dead - or as long as he's not dead, he should suffer."

"It's not about the morph, Wufei."

"About what, then?"

About you, Treize wanted to say; about you and me.

"You challenged my order. Have you heard about chain of command?"

"I'm sorry," Wufei said lightly. "I won't do it again... Captain."

He slapped Wufei. Slapped so hard that his palm went numb - and Wufei's head rocked. The boy swayed, making a step back. A strand of hair fell out of his tight ponytail, brushed against the cheek. He touched his jaw, looking up at Treize.

"Thank you... mon Captain."

The enormity of what he'd done descended on Treize, just a second before after his hand had raised. His palm was stinging - he looked at it as if not able to believe he'd actually done it.

"I didn't... did I hurt you badly? You okay?"

He stepped towards Wufei, reached for him. Wufei avoided his touch - as he always did, his eyes glimmering as he looked at Treize's face.

"What, do you think you broke my jaw? Like you did with the morph? Speaking about inhumane..."

Treize's chest was heaving. He sought for words and could find none.

"Don't worry. You need to apply more force to really hurt me."


"I don't need your apologies, Treize, or your concern. Spare it for the morph if you want. Show him your weakness." Wufei walked past Treize, stopped at the door. Treize couldn't look at him, looked down in shame. "You're so weak. Your weakness is that you can't decide whether you want to be kind or cruel. You do everything by halves. You know what the road to hell is paved with? It's about you. I pray your people don't see the weakness of their leader... It's my privilege to see it."

Pain and anger, mixed in great sorrow, filled Treize. He looked, saw Wufei's lowered face with a strand of hair falling over his forehead. Treize's lips felt numb as he whispered one question - the question that hurt him most of all to think about:

"Why do you hate me so much? Because I failed you... because I didn't rescue you in time..."

He saw Wufei jerk his head as if being slapped again; and when his eyes met Treize's, there was such dark fury blazing in them that Treize nearly backed away.

"I hate you, don't I, Treize? And you love me. Only your love is killing me."

It's not true, Treize wanted to cry out - but no words came; his throat feeling paralyzed. And Wufei didn't wait for him to talk.

"Stay away from me, Captain. Go to your beloved morph if you want - but leave me alone."

Treize watched him walk out.


I didn't see him. I stood in front of the door, hopelessly trying to open it without letting the tray out of my hands. Empty glasses on it clanked against each other pitifully. Of course, it was my sheer laziness; Leo, the cook, asked me to bring the glassware from the recreation room - and I surely needed to pile everything together to make it in one go. So, now I unsuccessfully tried to reach for the button that would let me in.

I already was going to put the tray down - when the door slammed open.

The tray jumped, the glasses sliding from it, hitting the floor in a pretty flood; I gasped miserably seeing it. My shoulder ached where the door hit it. He walked past me.

The collision didn't slow him - but he seemed to notice, glanced back, his slanted black eyes looking with disdain. I had time to notice that Wufei's lips seemed bruised and swollen slightly, his hair in mild disarray. His gaze slid over me with loathing and I found myself muttering helplessly, my hands still clenched on the tray:

"I'm sorry..."

I was; it was my fault - and even if it wasn't, I still thought it better to apologize. Wufei Chang was not someone you wanted to make angry. Treize's right hand man and the best killer in the group - and he was a boy just of my age...

He turned away from me and hissed two words as he continued walking:

"Stupid slut."

Well, I certainly deserved it. I put the tray on the floor, rubbed my shoulder and squatted, gathering broken glass from the floor, when he was beside me.

"You." His voice was completely toneless, so flat that it was almost difficult to understand the words. "What's your name? Quatre Winner, right?" He hadn't said a word to me until now - but he had been in the room when I recorded my statement, so, he must've remembered. "Come with me. Leave it, you'll clean it later."

I got up and followed him. It didn't come to my mind I could disobey - he was in position to give me orders; in fact, everyone of Treize's people was - it was just their kindness that they didn't do it or did it nicely. I didn't ask anything - well, Wufei Chang certainly didn't dispose to asking.

I don't know what I was thinking about when he let me into his room. Likely, kind of fascinated; I'd never thought about entering his quarters, it didn't even come to my mind that I ever would. The room was painted dark; even the light seemed to be lost there. Everything was made in dull colors Wufei apparently preferred, and for his clothes, too. A wide bed covered with black sheets, a table, nets in the corner of the room. It was empty around; carefully neat - as neat as seeping sand allowed it to be - and as carefully void of any possessions. The only thing my eyes stopped on was a mirror on the wall, covered with a dark cloth... It made me creepy; it was like when having a dead man in a room, wasn't it?

I caught myself on staring and looked away quickly. I still found myself unable to look at Wufei's face. Pathetic, wasn't I? So nervous in his presence... as if he threatened me. His eyes looked unkindly, and then he winced - as if my presence caused him headache.

"I see you're wearing my clothes."

I nodded, swallowing. I knew they belonged to him even if it was Doctor J who'd given them to me. I feel uncomfortable not knowing what to say; should I have thanked him for it?

"Take them off," he said.

At the first moment I almost couldn't believe I heard it right. It was so fast I was forgetting things - a few days of no one mentioning those things and I almost could forget how it was.

"Faster," Wufei said.

There was no arousal in his eyes - those things I recognized well - just annoyance - and yet I knew I heard him right and he really meant it. My heart started pounding.


A flicker of hatred in his eyes became brighter.

"He's Captain Khushrenada for you, isn't he?"

"He said no one would..." I babbled; it felt so stupid to say that but I couldn't help it. "He said no one would make me... have sex..."

"Have sex?" His laughter made me feel small and pitiful at once, even if Wufei wasn't older or stronger than me. "Who said anything about having sex? I have no intention of fucking you. You don't think you're so irresistible, are you?"

My hands started shaking; what else could I think when he'd said it - and yet now I felt ashamed for my thoughts. He made me feel so embarrassed somehow - more than I had ever felt, and I thought I knew all about feeling embarrassed.

"I won't do anything to you," he said calmly and then added. "I swear."

A promise from anyone else - why would I believe it? But he was Wufei, Treize's... Treize's friend and lover. He couldn't be dishonorable.

"Do what I say." He noticed I still hesitated. "You owe me. You owe everyone here, don't you? If we didn't take you with us - you would still be there, in prison - and they would fuck the shit out of you every night. And the same would be with your buddy."

I felt heat rise to my cheeks as he mentioned Trowa; Wufei didn't dare to talk like this about him. He could say whatever he wanted about me, I didn't care - the more so as it was all true. But Trowa... He couldn't use dirty words about Trowa.

I just wanted him to stop talking, so, I unbuttoned my shirt; just to let him see I obeyed him. And he did promise he wouldn't do anything - I had to believe him, I had no other choice.

Of course, I could fight or try to walk out - but what he said was true, after all. I owed him.

It wasn't cold in the room; I just shivered with anxiety. Wufei's gaze slid over me, his eyes heavy-lidded, uninterested.

"Take off everything."

I did. He looked at me for a few moments. The pounding of blood in my ears grew worse. I tried to reason myself that there was nothing new for me in this position, nothing to get worked up about... and he promised, he did promise...

"Get in bed," Wufei said.

All right, I had done it this far. He didn't move when I slipped under thin black sheet. It felt at least marginally better to be covered again. Wufei winced as if going to mind me using his sheets but didn't say anything, stepped behind the nets.

The bed was wide enough to accommodate two people - and there were cuffs fixed at the headboard, the sight that made me panic, until I realized they were put too wide, for an adult man - and a tall one. I just wouldn't fit in them. Behind the multi-layered nets, Wufei was just a shadow, narrow and dark, the rustle of material the only sound I heard. As he walked out, he was hardly less clothed - a long black kimono covering his body, a sash tied on his tiny waist.

He was so thin... I'd never realized it, under his shapeless clothes; he was thin like a stem, and deliberately straight. He walked to the bed without looking at me. His hair was loose.

He was beautiful, I thought suddenly. If I was to draw him, I wouldn't possibly draw him as an animal - but as a flower - a black rose, cut off... Still life.

What silly thoughts these were. But there was some feeling of unreality in what happened. Wufei got onto the bed - and yet I knew he didn't want anything from me. He was so distant - more distant than if there had been any clothes separating us.

I don't want to be with him, I thought; I want to be with Trowa, in our room that became home for me during last days.

Wufei got under the sheet, carefully not touching me. It was so quiet. He lay against the pillow and I lay as well, small shivers going through my body. Ridiculous - wasn't it? One time I even worked up enough courage to start asking him - and he looked at me with antipathy distorting his smooth face:

"Keep quiet."

And he was completely quiet, not even his breath audible - all I heard now was just wild thumping of my heart. Then there was another sound - steps in the corridor.

Wufei moved so swiftly, I didn't have time to react. He was over me, his hand under my chin, pressing so hard it was difficult to swallow. I heard him whisper in my ear:

"Make a sound and I'll kill you."

His face was very close as he made me stay motionless - and his lips were almost touching mine - but not in a kiss. An imitation of kiss... Wufei's hair, soft - the only soft thing about him - fell over my face.

The steps reached the threshold and halted - and I knew whose these steps were. I understood everything.

I should've fought - it was not that I was afraid of Wufei's threat; but I felt so weak suddenly I couldn't make a sound even if I wanted... just to look helplessly.

As if he'd only heard the steps, Wufei turned back, letting me go a little. I could see the man at the door now, could see Treize - but not his face, not his eyes. My vision blurred and my heart thudded so much it seemed to be about to break through my ribcage.

"Sorry, Treize. I thought you understood. We don't have anything in common. The little whore has much more in common with me than you."

Wufei's thin cool fingers brushed over my chest, pinched a nipple. He pulled the sheet away. I had nothing under it. There was something disgustingly hypnotizing in his actions. I just couldn't move.

He must've realized I wasn't hard. I felt his hand cover my groin but there was nothing else I felt. Shame made me numb. I couldn't discern the expression on Treize's face. For all I could know, he might've been about to kill me - and I deserved it - and, maybe, it would be better if he did it. Better than thinking what he thought about me...

"And you can go share the company of mon cher Zechs Merquise if you want, Treize," Wufei said sweetly. I saw Treize turn away and walk out.

For a few more moments Wufei listened to the wandering away steps - and then the hand under my chin was gone.

"Get up."

Feeling somewhat dizzy, I scrambled out of the bed and saw Wufei, his kimono unperturbed, get up, take a wet tissue from a box, wipe his hands on it. After he'd touched me...

The white crumpled tissue floated on the floor and I couldn't take my eyes away from it.

What a fool... what a fool I was - let myself being used like this - like this tissue; let him play with me to hurt Treize. He'd better raped me, I thought.

"Move. Get dressed and get out." He yanked the sheets from the bed, crumpled them and shoved in my hands. "Drop them to the laundry on your way."

It was not even the deliberation of everything he did, his gestures and words that got to me. He despised me - so what, he probably had the reason - and was I anything but despicable? What I couldn't forget was Treize's silence when he looked at us. I never wanted to hurt Treize.

Treize had saved my life - and he made me believe I could start from a clean slate, that my past didn't matter so much after all. I even hoped Treize could like me a little.

"What's wrong with you?" Wufei said indignantly. "You're not only a whore but also dumb?"

I don't know what happened to me; my head was burning and the words came out without my wish. The words were impotent, outrageous - but I couldn't stop, even though I knew I shouldn't have said them, would hate myself for saying them.

"So, I'm a whore and you can't stand me so much? I'm too dirty for you, ain't I? And what are you? You aren't better than me!" I knew it was not right what I said - it was irreparable. I saw how his eyes grew wider - but I just couldn't stop. "I saw the scar on your hand." When he'd held me, the sleeve of his kimono slid down - and there was a trace of bluish, deformed skin under it, going from his wrist up to his arm. "I know where these things come from! If you can't wash after being with a morph... it turns acidic after a while... it leaves traces like that... They fucked you, too - just like me..."

Wufei hit me. I still was talking when a blow threw me on the floor. The punch was heavy - almost unbelievably heavy, coming from a person slight like this; my head was ringing and my tongue got between my teeth, making blood fill my mouth.

He stood over me, his arms crossed, and the corner of his mouth was twitching. I lashed at him, half-blindly; I didn't know whom I hated more - him for starting it all or myself for the foul words I said. I must've hurt him with my words so much.

He caught my wrists and hit me in the left side, against my barely healed ribs. I shrieked; pain sliced through me like heated blade. He moved so fast - I didn't have time to shield myself. I was on the floor again and he was over me, his hand in my hair.

Wufei's face slipped out of focus as he slammed my head against the floor. His knees pressed on my sides, my ribs ablaze with pain. My mouth filled with blood as the room rocked around me. He kept hitting me and I thought that there is happened - he'd kill me now... but it wouldn't be so bad to let it happen.

Then suddenly his weight on me was gone and the blows stopped. For a little while I still couldn't see clearly; red stains floated in front of my eyes. Then the haze was gone.

Trowa was there. Trowa - as always - had come to save me. Wufei sat on the floor, sucking blood from his lip. The kimono pooled around him and he drew it closer, wrapping himself tighter into it.

I sat up, looking in a worry, afraid that Wufei could do something, could attack Trowa - and Trowa was not in the right state to fight. But Wufei stayed where he was - and Trowa stood between us. His pale face was strained and he looked so thin and pale, like a specter; I felt like reaching to him to help him stand.

Trowa, I wanted to call but couldn't say a word.

His gaze from under the long bangs was scathingly sharp as he turned to Wufei. His voice was scathing as well:

"You son of bitch, you can't take 'no' for an answer or what? Treize said no one would touch him. You didn't hear it, did you?"

I knew what was happening - he thought that Wufei... I wanted to tell him he was wrong, it was as much my fault as it was Wufei's.

"He didn't..." I started. Wufei's eyes glittered mockingly as he looked at Trowa. When he talked, it was just:

"Get out of my room."

"Let's go, Quatre." Trowa turned to me and gave me his hand. "Get dressed. Where are your clothes?"

And at the next moment his eyes found them. Folded neatly on the chair at the bed.

He looked at me. I knew what he was thinking, could read it in his eyes so clearly - and there was completely nothing I could do about it. I felt heat rising to my cheeks as I saw the look in Trowa's eyes change.

He looked away from me, turned to Wufei again.

"'No' is 'no', he can say it at any moment, do you understand? You have no right to force him, no matter what he did..."

"Spare me from your moralizing," Wufei's voice was almost a rustle, as if he was too bored to speak in a full voice.

I flushed. I got Trowa into this situation, it was all my fault...

"And you," Trowa looked at me again. "If you lead someone on and then turn him down, you should be prepared you'd get hurt, sooner or later. Or do you really... do you really like it rough?"

These words shattered something inside me. The numbness in me turned into blazing pain but I could move at last. I got up on my feet, struggled into my clothes, not looking at either of them. And in fact I could see almost nothing apart from red circles dancing in front of my eyes.

Do you really like it rough... These words kept pounding in my ears as I stumbled out of Wufei's room, walked along the corridor to the shower. I locked the door behind me and there, under lashing water, I threw up.

* * *

The water pattered over my shoulders, first lukewarm then cold. I shivered and turned it off. The floor felt shaky under my feet and I touched the tiled wall, steadying myself. Dizziness made me light-headed. I probably was concussed a little and my ribs ached numbly.

I looked at starting bruises with distaste. The water sloshed around my ankles as I walked up to the pile of my clothes and started dressing. I didn't want to go out; here, in the shower room with the door closed, I somehow felt sheltered, felt tranquil, more or less. But I couldn't stay here for the night, could I? It would be beyond ridiculous.

From the mirror, my own face looked at me - pale, with wet sticky bangs and wide open dark eyes. For a moment I stared at myself, feeling faintly sick at my own expression, then turned away.

Wufei was right; I really was dumb. I wanted to hit this face, to feel my hand smash against the smooth surface, splinters enter my hand. But it really wasn't the mirror I hated - it was myself - and how could I punish myself enough?

Pain shot through me, not from the places where Wufei had hit me but from my chest - cutting, physical pain - and I crumpled on my knees, hugging myself, rocking slightly to make it go away. It went away, eventually - leaving emptiness in its stead.

"What have I done..."

My voice was just a whisper, nearly inaudible - but there was an answer to that question and I knew it so well. Whatever I had done - I had to live with it now. I just couldn't hate myself more for it that I already did.

I lost him; I lost Trowa. The only friend I had since my life had become that disaster. I'd met him when I thought I wouldn't ever meet another person who would care... for whom I would care... But how did I dare to hope?.. I was a fool and a whore - and I finally lost him.

I hadn't expected it, had been afraid of different things - of him going away, of his crazy decision to keep the vaccine and die. But now he despised me - and whose fault was it except mine? I recalled how contempt filled his eyes as he realized that I didn't deserve his protection, that I must've given in to Wufei myself. He hadn't looked at me with such contempt even in the beginning, when we'd just met.

"Do you really like it rough..."

I hit the floor with both fists. There was water there and I saw a streak of blood dissolve in it and realized I must've cut my hand on a rough tile. It didn't matter. I wiped it on my pants and got up. Enough of hiding there; I should've faced the results of my stupidity.

Trowa... and Treize; two people who showed me kindness and I wronged both of them. But could anything else happen - could I *not* wrong them - being what I was? A whore both in my mind and in my body.

There was no one in the corridor and I felt small relief; I wouldn't be able to face anyone at the moment, to answer questions and give explanations. Yet my feet didn't want to walk to the infirmary; it was like I couldn't control my own body, forcing every step forward.

I thought about going to the recreation room instead, hide there and spend the night - and hated myself even more for this wish. Coward... If you can't face Trowa - then go shoot yourself, go walk to the desert and never come back. But if you were weak enough to let it all happen - then face the consequences.

The light was off but Trowa was in bed, I could see his narrow silhouette under the blanket. He was getting so thin, with the fever burning him out. I felt throbbing in my chest, thinking about it.

I stopped myself from looking at him; if I didn't, I would lose even the remnants of nerve I had. So, I walked up to my bed stiffly, discarded my clothes and dived under the blanket. Stains of white and red floated in front of my eyes as I listened to the beating of pulse in my ears. I turned away from Trowa, just to be as far away from him as possible, pulled the blanket over me and hugged myself.

Pain in my ribs was like small flashes of white - but the pain in my chest was heavy and swelling, not letting me breathe. My eyes were stinging and I bit my lip, forbidding tears to leak. What was the point of those tears?

It just hurt too much...

"Quatre?" The voice reached me - quiet, careful. I flinched; my hands clenched on the blanket so hard I probably was fraying it through. I wouldn't answer; I couldn't. Yes, I was a coward - but now, at the moment - I just couldn't handle that.

"Quatre? Are you all right?"

If I don't answer, he'll give up. He'll go to sleep and tomorrow... tomorrow it'll be another day - and I'll maybe have strength enough to face him.

Trowa was silent; he must've understood. And then I felt his light movement behind me - and my bed creaked under his weight as he sat down.


His hand was on my shoulder, hot even through the blanket - and I started back, shrunk away - so abruptly my head banged against the bed rails. Metallic taste in my mouth became stronger.

"Quatre," his voice was kind, almost soft - and his hand still was on me, on my arm now. "Are you hurt?"

Trowa's face was in shadows, serious and concerned. It hurt me to look at it, at its cleanness, at the deep green of his eyes. He was so perfect, in everything - nothing could foul him.

"Tell me. What's wrong? Should I call for J?"

How could he still worry about me? Even though he thought...

I shook my head fervently; I didn't need J, I didn't need anyone... it was breaking me to feel his hand against my skin, to see his patient gaze.

"Quatre... did he injure you?"

He asked as if it was important - as if he hadn't seen with his own eyes the evidence that I'd been with Wufei on my own will. Suddenly I couldn't breathe at all - and then something shattered in me. My voice came out high-pitched, distorted.

"I don't like it rough..."

His face changed, the look of concentration on it deepened.


"I didn't lead him on. He said there wouldn't be anything, he wouldn't want sex with me!" Suddenly the words rushed out, in a flow, and I couldn't stop them. "He wanted it for a show, for Treize, to make Treize jealous, he just wanted me to play along..."

"Oh," Trowa said. I didn't know if there was any sense in what I said - but he seemed to understand. "Oh. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry, Quatre."

These words of his - I suddenly knew that he really meant them - were almost unbearable. I gasped, looking at him, unable to say anything or move. And then pain was gone and relief came, so huge that it was akin to pain as well.

I threw myself at him, not caring any more how cautious he was about touching, wrapped my arms around him, pressed to him. The thinness of his body, hard lines of it, his heat - he was so wonderful. He was all I ever wanted... all I ever wanted was to hold him like this, to be this close with him. My hero, my beautiful, my beloved...

He shifted awkwardly; and then his hands lay lightly on my shoulder-blades. I hugged him and he held me, his embrace getting tighter little by little.

"You don't hate me, really?" I whispered against his collarbone. It was almost like a kiss, with my lips so close to his skin. I heard his breath hasten a little.

"I don't hate you." There was a small chuckle in his voice and then he added with complete seriousness. "How can I..."

His arms around me were so warm, so safe - safe like I didn't feel anywhere, with anyone. With Trowa close, I knew there wouldn't be fear, no sick unreasonable panic that seized me sometimes - when everyone around seemed an enemy and even accidental touch hurt. Trowa's touches never hurt. I wanted him to touch me, wanted him to be near. I wanted him to be with me, to make love to me. I knew I wouldn't feel bad then, wouldn't think about the past - it would all be different. He would make me clean then.

But Trowa had made his choice; decided to stay chaste for the sake of his Order - and, so, there was no way...

I took his hand, pressed to my lips, kissing his long fingers. It was not that I made a move on him, I respected his decision. I just wanted to touch him at least this way, to let him know that I cared.

I expected Trowa to pull his hand away. His fingers trembled a little; and then he whispered, in trembling, fluctuating voice:

"Quatre... what're you doing?"

I kissed the tips of his fingers - and at the next moment he pulled me tighter to himself, his face pressed to my hair. I felt his breath become louder, harsher, his lips against my temple. His arm around my back pressed me harder, almost convulsively, his fingers sticking in my skin.

And then I understood. But I stayed quiet for a few more seconds, giving him a chance to back away, to change his mind. Our bodies stayed close - and then I took his fingers in my mouth, licked them. A shuddering breath Trowa made was almost like a moan, reverberating through all his body. His reaction awed me, so intense at such a small stimulation. His hand clenched harder on me, almost scraping me - but I didn't care, it couldn't feel any better. His thin fingers were hot and the tips of them rough; I sucked on them, feeling the tiny shivers going through his body.

"Quatre..." Trowa's voice almost as if he was going to cry - or beg me to spare him. But how could I spare him? He couldn't ask me for it - not now, when our bodies were merged so close together that there was only one way of being even closer.

I left his hand, turned, caught his face in my hands and plunged my tongue in his mouth. He seemed to be unsure what to do, responding feebly - and I felt my heart clenching painfully at the thought that he didn't know how it was done, had lived all those years without thinking or wanting to do it.

His breath was strained. Trowa's hands clasped on my shoulders as if he needed support to steady himself. There was a painful grimace on his face as I let him go.

"I don't feel your taste," he whispered in a hurt voice. "I want to know how you taste but I feel nothing, with this flu..."

When he started talking, I was afraid he'd changed his mind, would tell me to break off. But as he said it, I couldn't feel chuckling, strangely lightheaded with his words.

"It's okay," I said, "there are other things to do."

He kissed me then. Not on the lips - but quick, soft kisses, all over my face, somewhat greedy. His hands touched my body, feverishly and awkwardly, sliding over my chest and back and freezing there. He shivered unceasingly now; his hips moved in instinctive, uncontrollable motions. I pulled him to myself, let us both fall on the bed, him over me. He was hard - I could feel it - and he flinched greatly as his cock pressed against my thigh.

He kissed my chest now; his eyes were tightly shut and there was almost an expression of pain on his face. I thought he wouldn't bear it for long.

"Trowa... Trowa." He looked like waking up from a dream as his eyes opened. "Undress."

He obeyed me without a pause, got free from his clothes. His narrow body, golden-pale, was perfect in its lines, a jagged scar on his side like a red slash.

I shivered, too, as his naked body pressed to mine. His groin was even hotter than the rest of him, his slender organ silky and pulsing under my hand and against my cock as I pressed them together. He breathed so loudly, it was almost like sobs. The wetness from the tip of his cock coated my hand as I rubbed our shafts together.

It was his first time, I thought; and, maybe, his last time - wasn't it why he gave in? Because so little time was left and he almost despaired he would be able to leave here. His first time had to be special; he had to have everything.

I moved up, spreading my legs, sinking fingers in my anus. I practically healed, after the last time with Hannigan and others, just little soreness stayed. I worked, stretching myself, biting my lip. It was not going to be easy for Trowa to get in, using only spittle.

But there was nothing around here I could use - and I was afraid if I broke the moment, if I let him go - he could change his mind, could refuse. So, I'd have to do without lube.

He must've guessed what I was going to do as I moved because it almost looked like he was frightened. I had a grip on his cock, guided it between my thighs. The pressure built up; the stretching flashed a pang of pain through me.

I probably gave out a small sound because Trowa froze, his eyes open, intent on me.

"What happened?"

"Nothing... It just... would be easier with lube."

"Can we get it somewhere?"

"I think J might have something."

"Then let's get it."

I shook my head.

"No way I let you go. What if you have second thoughts?"

He laughed; it was not particularly merry laughter, rather nervous - but there was this breathless quality in it that made it the most erotic sound in the world.

He pushed me away a little.

"Go find it. I don't know what to look for. I'll be here."

I dashed to the cupboard where J kept his stuff. A tube of ointment had to do. In moments I was back there. Trowa was still in my bed; I was hyperventilating with relief.

He trembled under my hand as I lubed him, his face having a submissive, almost lost expression. His eyes went wide and his cock jerked as he watched how I put my fingers into me, stretching myself. I straddled him and guided his cock inside me.

There was some pain and I waited it out. Trowa's muscles were vibrating as he lay quietly under me. I reached and pushed his hair away from his face. How beautiful he was, with flush on his cheekbones, with his eyes darkened in arousal. There was a wild look in his eyes as he stared at me.

"Oh God, Quatre..." he said. "Quatre, please..."

His words hit so hard I jerked - and he moaned in pleasure - and I steadied myself, not moving any more. I looked down at him ruthlessly.

"Trowa, listen to me."

"What... what?" His voice was breaking.

"I don't want you to die. I won't let you die. I know what we have to do. Doctor J will take the vaccine out of you and put it inside me. And then we'll have three more weeks to wait for a corridor."

His tossed his head from side to side on the pillow, his eyes half-closed. Was it a negation or just despair? I didn't know; I was not going to show mercy.

"Think about it. If you die, what good it will do for those who wait for the vaccine, for your Order? And with me carrying it, you'll be able to concentrate on your way back."

"You can't..." he whispered. "You're of the same age as I am."

"So what?" I shook him slightly. "So what?"

"I can't make you go through it."

Baka, baka...

"If you could - then I can, too. I'll be okay - and you'll... you'll fulfil your obligations in front of the Order."

I knew it had an effect, could see it in his face. I put my hands on his cheeks, made him look at me.

"You know what? I won't move until you say 'yes'. I won't fuckin' move."

I wanted him to understand I was serious - but his eyes were so wild I was not sure he could understand. Then he whispered, in a faltering, barely audible voice:

"Yes. Yes, Quatre, yes."

And I moved, and he cried out and I felt heat of his come inside me - and a few moments later I came as well.

The End of Chapter 8

& & &

Chapter 9

He should've stopped it; why didn't he? Treize pushed a strand of hair away from his eyes absently, shook his head. Should've stopped that comedy, that performance for his sake. He didn't buy it for a moment, knew so well that Wufei wouldn't ever do it with anyone else. Hell, the boy could barely stand having sex with Treize - in the only possible way they'd found by trial and error. How would Wufei bear anyone else to touch his body?

How could Wufei bear it - to be with another person in bed, separated just by the thin silk of the kimono - and then to kiss, or imitate kissing, mimic caresses, down to the most intimate ones? It must've been agony for him, Treize thought; agony Wufei had to endure it for his, Treize's, benefit. Treize didn't doubt it was over as soon as he was gone - but all those moments before it... He clenched his fists. Wufei had said Treize's love was killing him. But what was he doing to himself?

"You want to hurt me," Treize whispered, his voice lonely and forlorn in the empty corridor. "But you hurt yourself more."

There was hurt, though, as well - and, maybe, it was the reason why Treize hadn't said anything when meeting huge, full of distress eyes of the blond boy - just walked away in silence. He should've stopped it - even if not for Wufei, Wufei wouldn't appreciate it - then for Quatre, for the boy Wufei was using in his sick game.

But even though Treize understood everything, his heart was still wounded - and he couldn't be altruistic; couldn't think about anyone else. At least he hadn't lashed out in rage; hadn't let his face change, in fact - walked away as composedly as he'd come.

And couldn't find rest since then.

Anger boiled in him - against everyone: against Wufei because even on the peak of fury it still felt as if Treize's heart was tearing apart with pity to the boy; against Quatre because the blond kid was a participant in this travesty, even if unwilling one. Against the morph - the strange creature with human face and purple blood - the morph Treize hated and yet tried to defend, he didn't know why.


"Show him your weakness."

He, Treize, wasn't weak. He knew perfectly well who his enemy was, Wufei didn't dare to doubt it.

"...share your company with mon cher Zechs Merquise."

Treize heard his own laughter, the sound toneless, insincere even for his own ears. But a decision already crept into his mind, solidifying with every moment. If Wufei thought he should've gone to Zechs... well, that's what he'd do.

The corridors were empty; it seemed his men, exhausted with the storm, went off early. But as Treize walked down to the basement, he still thought what if there was someone with Zechs. What would he do then? Probably what he was doing so well all those days since they'd captured the morph - pretended that nothing happened.

It was quiet down there, however. Treize entered the code and walked in. The light flickered, and Treize narrowed his eyes against the dimness and irritating dust. There was much more sand there than upstairs - more than he expected; his feet were sucked in it almost ankle deep.

The morph lay on the floor, huddled in the corner, his long limbs drawn close under him as if he was cold. His hands were cuffed together and the chain went to a ring in the wall but at least he could keep his hands down. His hair was like a long veil covering the sand around him. The hair was dirty now, matted and sticky with blood and sweat - except a strand or two that still kept that silver shimmering quality about them.

His clothes were so ragged, they revealed more than hid - and Treize thought uncomfortably his people probably even didn't bother to remove them any more to fuck him. The man smelled. Morphs' excretions had a slightly different smell from humans' - and, unwillingly, Treize could distinguish both kinds in this reeking. Cold washed him at the thought: if his explicit words about giving the morph a mask were disregarded, then what a wide field for mistreatment his silence left. He hadn't mentioned the morph should've been allowed to use a toilet, or be fed, or his injuries taken care of.

Of course, morphs were fast healers, just as Wufei said. Breathing sand for thirty-six hours would kill any human. But the sand around Zechs' head was still spattered with blood and his breath was ragged, strained.

The morph didn't seem to react at the light - but when Treize stepped from foot to foot, he must've heard the screeching of the sand and moved, struggling to raise his face. Tangled strands of hair obscured it but even through this mess of long tresses Treize saw something that made him let out an involuntary sound and step closer towards the prisoner.

Zechs hadn't reacted to light because his eyes were swollen shut. Sandstorm could shred your lungs but it also ate into your eyes, irritating them unbearably. Treize suffered himself with it, knew how it felt - and felt unwanted compassion twitch in him. Compassion he shouldn't have felt, by any means.

He saw Zechs recoil from him as he walked closer - the man must've thought he was another one who came to take advantage of him. But there wasn't much where the morph could back away - just till pressing to the wall. His cuffed hands with narrow wrists and long fingers trembling.

He didn't make a sound - and in this silence Treize felt something so broken, so doomed - as if the morph knew nothing he could say would spare him. And yet - suddenly Treize realized it and frowned at the aberrance of this idea - there was something keenly sexual in this forced submissiveness, in complete helplessness of the chained creature in front of him.

He swallowed hard, already not sure what he felt more - anger against the morph or pity. He knelt and reached to the morph's face, pushed the hair away from it.

The broken jaw had healed; maybe, had healed more than once since then, Treize corrected himself. Bruises, no doubt savage, were fading on the morph's face and body. He'd probably be able to recover fully between sessions of abuse - if not for the sand clinging to his body, sand that irritated the skin agonizingly. There were long inflamed scabs on the morph's body, and Treize thought he must've scratched himself, trying to get rid of unbearable itch.

Zechs' blind face was turned to him, his swollen eyelids trembling - and his lips trembled as well. The morph was trying to swallow convulsively and probably couldn't, was too dehydrated. Treize hadn't seen any vessel for water around; another flash of anger pierced him.

It was not what he wanted for his people to do! He wanted purity for them, honorable hatred, wanted them to feel above their enemies. Wasn't it why he kept fighting the morphs even when his own government had rejected him - because he couldn't put up with abominable cruelty of the creatures? If his own people were as cruel - what right did they have to judge?

He let Zechs go, got up and walked out quickly. It took him a few minutes to fill a cup with water and return. The morph lay in the same position, his hair scattered. His breath was coming in short, excruciating gasps.

Treize lowered on his knees, hesitating for a moment what to do, then wrapped the morph's hair around his hand, making Zechs tilt up his face again. The morph flinched hugely when feeling the brink of cup against his lips. There was fear and suffering reflected on his face and Treize thought if he had been tormented like that before, offered water and then denied it.

No one should've been treated like this. No one should've been treated like this, he corrected himself, if you wanted to call yourself human. It was what he could never prove to Wufei...

But then Wufei had harder proves to every Treize's philosophizing. In one thing, Wufei was right: he, Treize, was just a watcher, had never suffered himself, even if all the suffering he'd seen hurt and enraged him so much. And, maybe, that was why he could feel sorry for the misfortunate creature - even knowing what Zechs' compatriots did to thousands people, what they did to Wufei...

Or, maybe, it was because Zechs' face was so un-morph-like? Those blue eyes... he couldn't see the color of his eyes now.

A quiet moan Zechs made returned him to reality - the first sound the morph gave out. Treize recalled about the cup, tilted it slightly to let the liquid seep into the morph's mouth.

Soft sobbing flew off the morph's lips as he drank. He was leaning against Treize's hand now, heavily, as Treize had to support him not to let the liquid spill. As the cup was empty, Zechs thrashed, reaching for more, struggling not to let the brink of the cup go.

"Shh, shh, there's no more," Treize whispered, surprisingly softly. Zechs' closed eyelids were fluttering wildly as he sought for more water; he probably didn't even hear what Treize said. Treize wanted to let him go, unwrap the hair from his hand. And at that moment Zechs strove against him, falling forward, against Treize's knees.

He was probably just too weak - and Treize had nothing else to do but to catch him, support against his arm. Zechs' body trembled against him, hot and nearly naked.

How long had it been since he'd been in such a close contact with anyone? Sex he had with Wufei - the intercourse without touching - apart from Wufei's cock in him and later, occasionally, Wufei's hand on his cock to bring him off... For too long, Treize thought. The feeling of closeness flooded him, amazing, irresistible. the craving was so strong that Treize felt helpless against it.

So close... to hold, to be held... this body against him, breathing, trembling, hot skin under his palms - and the hot breath nearly against his groin.

Arousal was blinding; Treize felt dizzy, disoriented - and yet the need building in him was so irrepressible he couldn't reason it away, couldn't fight it. He couldn't do nothing but to go with it.

He pushed Zechs' head away minutely, pulled his zipper down. He thought about saying something, making a threat - 'Bite me and you're dead' - but for some reason he didn't. There was something about the morph, some pliancy that made him know Zechs wouldn't try anything stupid. He forced his straining cock between the lips that opened docilely, almost eagerly.

He probably was grateful for the water, Treize thought - and it was one of his last coherent thoughts. All the rest was frenzied need and brutal slamming into the straining mouth, the morph's hot lips enveloped around his shaft.

It was crude and messy, nothing like the way Treize considered having sex had to be. The morph was making gagging, choking sounds as Treize's cock pushing in his throat. A trickle of saliva leaked from the corner of the morph's mouth. But contracting, tight muscles of his throat around Treize's shaft were bliss.

He buried both his hands in Zechs' long hair and pulled Zechs' closer, so close Treize was bottoming out of every thrust. And then all his body seemed to be shaken in a long convulsion, pleasure shooting from inside him and out, streaming into Zechs' mouth.

He drowned in the feeling of being enveloped in a hot tight mouth, squeezed in contracting tight passage of Zechs' throat. For a few moments nothing existed for him but the sensations of his body, the glowing pleasure of it. Then he heard agonized, choking sounds the morph made - and drew away.

Zechs slipped on the floor, shuddering, coughing excruciatingly. His mouth was half-opened and Treize saw his come leaking on the morph's chin, saw some of it coming from Zechs' nose. The morph writhed on the floor, catching the air desperately.

The sight was so hideous... was it him, Treize, who had done something so ugly? Zechs was disgusting, pathetic... And yet in the pained movements of the tormented creature, there was something that pierced Treize's heart with pity. Almost without realizing what he was doing, he reached for the morph's face, pushed blood- and come-smeared hair away from it and stroked Zechs' cheek pacifyingly.

For a little while Zechs continued to shiver - and then, incredibly, seemed to relax under the touch, almost lean into Treize's stroking palm. It shocked him so much he jerked his hand away. How could it be... how could he seek comfort with the same person who'd just raped him?

He, Treize Khushrenada, had just raped a prisoner. Wufei... Wufei would be delighted to know; it would make his revenge complete.

Wufei... if Treize hadn't known him so well, he would think the boy orchestrated it all. But of course it was Treize's own choice - and his own crime he'd perpetrated.

Zechs seemed to go quiet on the floor; sperm and blood stopped leaking from his nose. Treize shivered at the thought of his own fluids adding to the crust of dry excretions on the morph's body. He couldn't bear it.

"Get up," he whispered, pulling on Zechs' wrists. He didn't think that the morph could be dangerous with his hands free - or, rather, barely thought about it. The morph's hands fell listlessly when Treize ran the card opening the cuffs on them. Treize pulled him again, trying to make him get up - and Zechs slumped back, obviously exhausted beyond limit.

"What shall I do with you..." Treize muttered in sotto voce - and suddenly Zechs' head jerked. He realized he had been just whispering before then - and now Zechs heard his voice - and recognized it. There was a painful frown between Zechs' thin eyebrows as if he struggled to understand something. His voice was like a rustle of paper, hoarse and weak from fatigue, as he whispered:

"Treize Khushrenada."

"Yes, it's me," Treize said and braced the morph's arm around his shoulder. Zechs leaned over him, heavy and almost lax, his feet tracing the floor awkwardly, as Treize half-walked, half-carried him upstairs.

* * *

The morph sat crumpled on the bottom of the tub, leaning against the wall, as the water ran over his body. At first he'd caught the water with open mouth greedily but then had enough and went listless, still. His long hair, wet, had a sandy color now, clinging to Zechs' shoulders and chest. Treize took the shower from the hook and directed the jet at the morph's hair, gathered it in his hand. Sand still could be felt in it, so, Treize squeezed some shampoo in his hand and foamed the strands.

What surprised him most of all about what he was doing was that he didn't feel it as anything strange; his mind understood it was not right - to have the morph in his room, in his bathroom - to wash him. And yet there was a weird feeling of everything being perfectly natural.

Zechs didn't struggle, just took it pliantly as Treize washed him; later, as Treize finished with his hair and started with his body, the morph just moved minutely, allowing him the access to wash the sand from the scabs. He didn't say a word after acknowledging Treize's name - and while a part of Treize twitched, apprehending a question or a remark, a part of him reveled in this silence, in not necessity to explain anything.

He touched the morph's face carefully, cleansed his eyes. Swollen eyelids with sticky eyelashes opened at last, blue of them almost lost in the darker color of irritation. The look of Zechs' eyes was painful, tired, somewhat subdued. As if he expected nothing from Treize, was equally ready to pain and to mercy.

The morph was young, Treize realized suddenly; his face, quite beautiful on human standards, had that vulnerability of immaturity in his eyes and mouth. Then, when Treize had first seen him, in prison, Zechs looked so different - powerful and arrogant in his smart uniform and shiny helmet. But now, stripped of everything - his clothes, his mask, his dignity - he was just a young man, probably nineteen or twenty.

A man, a human... The face was deceptive, Treize reminded himself; even with this face Zechs Merquise was the same kind of murderer and torturer as other morphs. He shouldn't have forgotten about it.

"Now. Get out," he said.

Standing on the bathroom floor, dripping water, with a towel around his shoulders, the morph looked almost defenseless. His eyes blinked, seeing now, but still inflamed.

"Come on, wipe yourself."

It seemed Zechs needed to be ordered to do every small thing, was unsure what to do or afraid to be wrong. Treize rummaged in the shelf and picked a tiny plastic bottle. As he took Zechs' face, the morph resisted for the first time, panicked, making small sounds that were almost close to whimpers, his hands pushing against Treize's desperately.

"It's okay, it's okay," Treize said in a reasonable voice. "It's just eye drops, I use them myself."

Zechs' chest fluttered as he let Treize apply the drops.

"Come with me."

The morph ate sitting in Treize's bed. The sight almost mesmerized Treize. What was he doing? What other crazy thing was he going to do? His people wouldn't think anything bad, he was sure, they knew how he hated morphs. They'd think he wanted to get his rocks off, just preferred to do it in proper surroundings, an aesthete as he was. And wasn't it true?

Zechs had a delicate, almost dainty way of eating, as if he was not starving for days. His eyes were cast down, not looking up at Treize even once. The strands of silver-white hair were getting dry, turned lighter shade little by little.

He picked the plate and the cup from Zechs - and here the morph looked up at him, with a careful, serious gaze.

"Thank you." The voice sounded quiet, restrained. Zechs' long-fingered hands that lay on the edge of the blanket, clasped hard on it - neither pulling it up to cover himself more, nor pushing it away.

He expects me to fuck him now, Treize thought. Wasn't it fair? He'd given Zechs to drink and then fucked his mouth; now he'd washed him and let him eat - and these things had to be paid for - and somehow he knew the morph wouldn't refuse paying.

There was a distant thought in his mind, seemingly belonging to someone else, that Zechs didn't have to be submissive with him, could try to fight him. It was even dangerous - to be alone in the room with a being much faster and stronger than a human, even in the weakened state Zechs was; Treize's gun was in a table drawer, quite far away from the bed.

He just knew somehow Zechs wouldn't attack him. There was something about the morph - something lost; it was not just due to physical injuries - whatever else but it'd been just days, could the creature be so broken within such a short term? It was more like Zechs didn't seem to... what? motivated to struggle.

The thought suddenly made Treize breathless. He couldn't deny it any more: the idea of the man, completely submissive in his hands, was driving him crazy with arousal. This slender narrow body completely belonging to him, this smooth hair threading between his fingers, this soft pink mouth of a child, of an innocent, stretched around his cock...

A pang of desire was violent - an almost mindless feeling that seemed to leave nothing of his control intact. Treize wanted to possess this body, to use Zechs at his pleasure, roughly or playfully - just as he wanted it.

He'd never known this feeling before. In his love affairs, before Wufei, there was always so much dignity - enjoyment coming from the feeling of camaraderie rather than from passion. And with Wufei - during that period of time, too short, when Treize had already known he wanted to be with the boy for all his life, and before the disaster happened... He always dreamed how it would be between them for the first time, how gentle he would be, how they would treasure every moment of their intimacy.

It was never to happen - and his intimacy with Wufei was a farce, a perversion... through the fault of such creatures as Zechs Merquise, through their crime...

Treize's chest heaved; he didn't know what he wanted more - to hit Zechs or to kiss him. He raised his hand and saw an involuntary flinch of Zechs - and it weakened him suddenly, turned his anger into sorrow. He touched the morph's face, non-violently, carefully, ran his fingers over the high cheekbone. Zechs' eyes, already slightly less irritated, were wide, looking at him mesmerized.

A strand of silky hair was under his fingers and Treize pushed it away, and then leaned down and put his mouth on Zechs'. He felt a small trembling of the morph's body, instinctive movements, but soft lips opened for him without resistance, letting his tongue in.

Pleasure shot through his brain in a luminescent arc. Just a kiss... He had forgotten what a kiss could be, this melding of mouths, a tongue sliding against his. Treize gasped, pressing their mouths closer, drinking Zechs' taste, soft acceptance of Zechs' lips.

His stare was not quite clear as he backed away. Absentmindedly, his fingers kept caressing Zechs' temple, fingering a tress of smooth hair. He looked at the morph and met a strangely wild, as if uncomprehending gaze of dark-blue eyes. Zechs raised his long-fingered hand and touched his mouth carefully.

This gesture, this look broke something in Treize. He didn't reason any more. He leaned down again, kissing the hand, kissing the lips, feeling Zechs respond to him hastily, almost clumsily. Treize intertwined his fingers with Zechs', not feeling disgusted at their length, at this clear sign that the creature wasn't human, after all. Zechs raised his other hand tentatively, touched Treize's face - and, overwhelmed with strange gratitude, Treize turned his face, kissed the palm.

He stretched along Zechs' body, a blanket and Treize's clothes separating them - and Treize worked on these barriers, first pulling off his own clothes, then pulling the blanket away.

The morph shivered; his small pink nipples were hard and upright and his cock, heavy and lined with bluish veins, was hard, too.

For a few moments Treize looked at it; morphs had bigger genitals than humans, he knew it - and Zechs was not different. He looked up at Zechs' face and saw a lost, guilty expression on it - as if the morph couldn't understand how it happened and expected to be punished.

"You're beautiful," Treize said.

A long shiver that went through the morph's body hardly could be caused by these simple words. Zechs' blue eyes looked at him, blinking, a kind of question frozen in them. Then the morph took Treize's hand and pressed to his face.

It was the strangest feeling he had; there was urgency in Treize's groin, the need of release, as soon as possible. And yet there was also some melting inside him that made him linger, made his fingers explore Zechs' face slowly, by touch. He touched the morph's throat and collarbones, caressed the smooth warm skin covered in fading bruises. Then he sighed and took one of Zechs' nipples in his mouth.

A sound broke from Zechs' lips, surprised, inarticulate one. Treize worried his nipple with his tongue and lips, gentle then hard, then gentle again. He heard Zechs started moaning, in long painful sounds - and wanted to cover his mouth but then thought it was nothing. If someone heard it, they'd thought he hurt the morph.

He missed it so much - he hadn't known it himself but now Treize realized it: he missed touching another body, with his hands and lips, missed bringing pleasure, applying his skills to make the other arch under him in passion. Missed these sounds, the taste of the other's skin on his tongue.

Zechs' hands, light and as if unsure - but more bold with every moment - moved over his back and neck, patting, pressing his head down to the morph's chest. Treize's hand moved down and Zechs spread his thighs for him obediently.

I can fuck him now, Treize thought. It'd hurt him, he must've been all sore down there - but Zechs would take it from him, Treize didn't doubt it. He felt an ache in his chest and shuddered, struggling with himself. He met Zechs' eyes and saw a strange, serious look that seemed especially vulnerable just in this seriousness. An expectant look.

It was probably what made Treize's mind. He moved down suddenly and took Zechs' cock in his mouth.

It was big enough for making it uncomfortable, for taking some time for Treize to get accustomed to it. He heard a surprised, broken gasp Zechs made - and he slid down with his lips along the shaft as much as he could. The morph's precum was bitter-ish, faintly caustic on his tongue. Treize licked the shaft, traced the veins on it - and then went down again, taking Zechs' cock as deep as possible.

He wouldn't fuck Zechs; he knew there was a part of him that wanted to hurt the morph, to break him and to enjoy the complete power. But there was another part and Treize was going to go along with this one - and this part of him cherished the unexpected, self-abandoned response coming from Zechs. He didn't want to ruin it by hurting his lover... his partner.

He sucked on Zechs' cock and reached to his own shaft simultaneously, slid his hand along it. So, how different was it from pleasuring himself on the nights Wufei kept him away from his bedroom? But it was different, Treize just couldn't explain how. It was different - to feel the other's body shudder in unison with his in approaching orgasm, to hear Zechs' desperate, sobbing moans as the morph's cock pushed into his mouth.

Treize felt an orgasm quake himself, his come spurt on his fingers, when Zechs' sperm filled his mouth, leaked into his throat, bitter and astringent. The morph made some hitching breaths, his body trembling. Treize looked up at him, meeting widened blue eyes through tangled strands of white hair.

"Faster," the morph whispered. "Don't swallow it. You have to wash it out."

Do you think I don't know it? The thought was so bitter and ironic that Treize couldn't help chuckling. And yet it surprised him somehow that the morph decided it was necessary to warn him.

He walked off to the bathroom; he did swallow some of it, couldn't help it - and now had to use his two fingers to throw up. A romantic conclusion for the event, he thought sarcastically, rinsing his mouth - but it was cold sarcasm, not what he really felt.

His real feeling - and suddenly he felt compelled to admit it - for a moment without reasoning, without explaining anything and feeling guilt - was that it was worth it. He didn't regret anything.


Everyone seemed to be busy except him. As if since he'd given his consent to Quatre, things were taken from Trowa's hands. It was not that he couldn't take his word back, Trowa mused, looking at the shadows of nettings on the ceiling above him, once everything was over; but no, he couldn't, of course. He needed Quatre's help to finish his task; one more day and it would be too late, he wouldn't be able to run a flyer even if a corridor opened. But he also knew somehow that Quatre didn't expect him to go back on his word, believed him implicitly when Trowa said his 'yes'.

It was absurd - but he felt he couldn't disappoint Quatre.

You'd better disappoint him than let him suffer, he thought harshly - but then again, what other possibility was there? Having Quatre carry the vaccine would give them three more weeks.

Doctor J and Wataru prepared instruments while Quatre sat on his bed cross-legged, chatting with the doctor.

Treize stopped by a little while ago and, using a moment when everyone was away, Trowa said to him:

"There was nothing between Quatre and Wufei."

He was afraid Treize could keep a grudge against Quatre; of course, he didn't think Treize would act out of jealousy - but Trowa felt bothered and strangely discontent with the thought that Treize might've thought badly about Quatre.

Despite his apprehension, there was no distrust at Treize's face. His eyes seemed sad and somehow distant, looking at something that was not here at all.

"I almost wish there had been," he said incomprehensibly.

At last J and Wataru seemed ready and Quatre flopped down on his bed, his shirt in a heap on the floor. Trowa saw a bright grin on the boy's face as Quatre answered at J's question:

"Ready for your flu marathon?"

A moment later Quatre turned to him, the same huge smile making his face all lit up, radiant. His eyes seemed almost aquamarine blue when he smiled like this, Trowa thought. He hadn't seen Quatre like that before... so easy, so comfortable. As if he was happy to do what he was going to do.

"Don't worry," J kept muttering while preparing a syringe. "It'll be just a small prick and then you'll feel nothing there."

Wataru was doing the same with Trowa. Anaesthetic that Wataru used was probably different from the one Oatta had used - but the effect was the same: he stopped feeling his left side, down from the midriff.

"Cold," Quatre said, giggling.

He looked at Trowa, he couldn't see the scalpel in J's hand - but Trowa could see it all right. He bit his lip not to cry out, not to stop it all. He had to do it... for Raymond, for all others who died; he, Trowa, owed it to them.

But why was Quatre doing it? Why? Trowa almost whispered it, looking at the boy's big-eyed face, the pale mouth slightly open in a shadow of smile. Quatre was getting nothing out of it; and even the fate of the Northern Region - what was it for him?

He saw Quatre shiver suddenly - and then a thin arm reached to him, and Trowa clasped his hand on the small cold fingers. It didn't hurt but he felt his skin separated and Wataru's fingers fish in the slash for the capsule.

He didn't want to see it; he pointedly looked nowhere but at Quatre, submerged in the blueness of the boy's eyes.

Please don't look away, he begged silently. He didn't know why it was important - but it was; he wouldn't be able to bear to look anywhere else. And Quatre's eyes never left his, as Quatre's hand kept holding on his all the time.

He saw Quatre wrinkle his nose, not in pain but in unusual sensation, when Doctor J placed the capsule into his body. With his peripheral sight Trowa could see blood that J dabbed from Quatre's skin - and then a curved needle with colorless thread.

And then darkness flooded over him and it felt like someone had switched off the light - and he stopped seeing Quatre's face and regretted it at the last moment.

When he came round, the doctors were gone. He lay in his bed, covered to the waist with a sheet, and there was a tight bandage going around his ribcage and belly.

And he didn't feel sick. It was almost incredible; for those weeks the sensation of stuffed, inflamed nasopharynx and sore throat became almost habitual - almost as if it was his normal state, a natural one. But now it was easy to breathe... and he was warm. Not cold or hot but delightfully, perfectly warm.

He raised his head, enjoying the feeling of lightness, and saw Quatre sitting on his bed. The boy's shirt was off and there was the same kind of bandage going around Quatre's chest.

Quatre smiled, with a slow, radiant smile, looking at him.

"Are you all right?"

The boy's voice still wasn't hoarse, so, Trowa realized it must've been less than three hours passed. Quatre pulled on his blond bangs, his eyes shining.

"Never been better," Trowa said.

"Good. Me too."

It's temporary, Trowa wanted to say. Quatre slid down on the floor and stepped to Trowa's bed. He must've exaggerated, saying he'd never felt better, because he swayed and started falling over Trowa awkwardly. Trowa caught him and held, looking in the shiny blue eyes just in inches from his face.

Everything else was easy - as if it was supposed to be this way: Trowa's lips on Quatre's, the boy's soft face cupped in his hands, Quatre's thin body stretched along his, their chests separated by layers of gauze. He sucked on the boy's lower lip, so sweet and soft, and felt Quatre's hands playing with his nipples as Trowa's own hands roamed over the boy's body, exploring its thinness, narrow lines and smooth skin.

He felt Quatre's hand on his cock - and opened immediately, eagerly, looking in the blue eyes with spirals of light in them.

"Do it, please. I want you to..."

Quatre looked at him for a moment, then nodded, not asking anything - found by touch a tube of the ointment in the nightstand between them. Trowa shivered and clenched, feeling a slick finger move inside him. But there was no pain and Quatre kept smiling and stroking his hair - and then Trowa felt second finger added, stretching him.

He held on the sheet, scared like he hadn't been scared even when taking the vaccine from Oatta - and yet resolute. Quatre kissed him, softly, on his lips, and the raised Trowa's legs - and Trowa felt something pushing inside him.

There was a brief flash of pain but not much, and Quatre waited, stroking his thighs, looking at him. Then he moved, frowning, moved again - and Trowa gasped and stared with an unfamiliar sensation. Quatre smiled, thrusting again, causing the flare of pleasure shoot through Trowa once more. Trowa clasped the sheet in his hands, unsure of anything any more, feeling his body like something new and amazing for him.

"Pretty baby," Quatre said. "You're so tight."

The words were silly but said by Quatre, in the gentle, childish voice of his, they suddenly made Trowa flush and feel warmth flood him as his cock pulsed with pleasure.

He reached his hands and took Quatre's face in them and looked at the boy as Quatre kept thrusting, and warm waves spread through Trowa's body from his movements.

"Prince," Trowa whispered so quietly he didn't know if Quatre heard him. "My prince."

Then he was coming, and Quatre thrust a few more times into him and then went still - and then slid down next to Trowa, his arm across Trowa's chest. Trowa hugged him and pulled closer, put the blond head on his shoulder, submerged in Quatre's smell and weight and feeling of smooth skin against his.

He closed his eyes and sleep overcame him - and when Trowa woke up again, Quatre was already burning and delirious, tossing and turning in the ring of Trowa's arms.

The End of Chapter 9

& & &

Chapter 10

It wouldn't happen ever again.

Treize didn't need to remind it to himself - because he knew it so well; it was a fact, an ultimate reality. Yet he repeated these words as if afraid to forget. It wouldn't happen again... The night he'd spent with the morph was madness and mistake - madness that filled his body with forgotten, almost unfamiliar lightness, made excitement sing through his blood. But it was all over; better not to think about it.

In silence of his office he leaned back on the chair, looking nowhere, seeing just the blur of the computer screen in front of him. His fingers moved lightly, unconsciously, in a stroking, caressing gesture - as if it was not the air he felt but softness of skin, and smooth long hair, and vibration of a responsive body under his touch.

Nothing changed. Neither his hatred to morphs, nor his helpless love to Wufei... nor the anguish these two feelings brought him. With Zechs it had been just... sex, nothing more. Treize had given in to the urges of his body and lost control. He wouldn't allow it again.

And if he tried very hard, he would possibly be able to forget that there had been anything at all, that night they spent together, those moments when he felt so good... felt almost happy.

Maybe, in some other life, in some other world, it all could be different; he and Zechs could be allies - comrades... lovers?.. They would talk, would trust each other... and there wouldn't be such burning feeling of guilt...

Guilt both for what he'd done to Zechs and what he'd done to Wufei.

"I almost wish they had..."

Treize smiled wryly thinking about the words he'd said to Trowa Barton. It was hardly true: how could he want anyone else to be with Wufei? And it was not even that he looked for a justification. He wouldn't feel less like a traitor anyway.

He should've talked to Wufei, Treize thought; should've tried to explain and accept everything Wufei would say. But Treize had never done it, couldn't work up enough courage. Perhaps Wufei was right: he was weak.

He reached for the glass blindly, filled it. A knock on the door was cautious, as if a person didn't insist on it being heard or even would rather it not to be heard. Treize put the glass away.

"Come in."

The man was young, a little more than a boy, with pale anxious face and unsettled look in his widened eyes.


"What happened, Jackson?"

"Sir... I don't know... It's probably not my business but... but I think it goes too far..." He stalled, then took a deep breath and finished. "Maybe, you can go take a look."

"At what?"

"Lieutenant Chang... he's with the prisoner."

"I see."

Treize was already on his feet, saying that. He knew at once what Jackson meant... oh God, he knew it. He felt his hands start trembling.

"Thank you, Jackson."

He passed the young man, walked swiftly along the corridor. Anger made his movements sharp, edgy. Wufei, damn you, what are you up to again? But Treize knew the answer, didn't he? Up to nothing good. After that night, when Treize had given the orders not to beat or rape the captive any more, Wufei didn't oppose it, didn't react in any way, just took it with his usual gloomy attitude. Did Treize let himself be deceived?

He rushed down the stairs; heat and cold flooded him alternately. He should've been more wary about Wufei, shouldn't have taken it for granted that the boy would suppress his hatred...

The sounds caught on him on the steps: not screams - but stifled moans, probably muffled into a gag - and sounding even more harrowing because of that. Shocked into motionless for a moment, Treize touched the wall to prevent himself from swaying. His heart thudded in agonizing tempo. A voice came:

"Here, hold him tighter. Look, he's thrashing again. Now cauterize it."

Smell of burning flesh choked him, made him nauseous. Treize made a few fast steps, entering the room. His fists were clenched tight enough to wound the flesh of his palms - enough to let him muster at least an imitation of self-control.

But the time he came in, the sounds almost stopped. There were two other men in the room, apart from Zechs and Wufei - the two whom Treize knew as the biggest haters of morphs. No wonder Wufei managed to secure their assistance, he thought bitterly. They looked at him, fear mixed with stubbornness in their eyes. He felt dizzy with effort not to let out his anger.

Wufei stood at Zechs' chair, looking at Treize, his face somewhat thoughtful as he bit his lip absently. He didn't seem to look scared, and it didn't surprise Treize; then he put on the table what he'd held in his hands - a small gas burner.

There was blood coating Wufei's hands - purple blood - and blood was everywhere, on the floor, on the table; its sweet metallic tang made the air difficult to breathe. Zechs' hands were covered in blood as well.

Zechs was tied to the chair, his arms fastened to the elbow-rests tightly. There was something wrong with his hands, Treize thought, but he couldn't figure out what, refused to figure out. He looked at Zechs' face instead, met widened in pain and terror black-blue eyes looking at him with open, undisguised plea. There was a stripe of adhesive tape covering Zechs' mouth and the breaths he tried to take were hitching, broken.

Treize stepped towards him, tore the tape off - and the morph gasped greedily, blood and bile leaking from his mouth. He was shivering like a sick animal, Treize thought. He still couldn't make himself look at Zechs' hands, even almost knowing what he'd see: could guess it after noticing the wire-cutter on the table.

He looked at his men again, finally able to take control over his voice.

"You two. Go to the brig. I'll investigate it later."

"You can't punish them, they didn't break your orders." Wufei's voice was almost sweet. The boy stood leaning against the table, his hand almost touching a shiny puddle of blood there. Well, he couldn't be more smeared with blood, could he, Treize thought.

"Didn't they?"

"As far as I understand, you said not to 'beat or rape the prisoner'. It's your very words, Captain. Of course, you can say that I knew what you meant." Wufei shrugged. "Maybe, I did. But the interpretation of your order belonged to me. You shouldn't have made me your second in command, you know. I told them what to do - and they had to obey."

There was complete fearlessness on Wufei's face - to what Treize could do to him, to any punishment that could follow. The challenge was there: you can't punish them unless you punish me; and will you punish me - over an enemy, over a morph?

Treize felt pain slamming through him, spreading through his chest like fire. He looked away, biting his lip, taking control over himself. As he spoke again, his voice was flat:

"Downey, Carter, you can go."

They walked out, without a word. It took a few seconds - and it was about as long as Treize could bear, before the words broke from him, almost breathless:

"What have you done?"

"What?" Wufei repeated, his head tilted awry almost slyly, then made a step towards Zechs. The morph was limp on the chair, his hair matted with blood and hiding his face - but as Wufei neared to him, he jerked suddenly, in panic. His chest fluttered oddly, gasps coming through his clenched teeth. "Nothing much. I thought since you find him so attractive, why not to make him even more human-like? You'll enjoy fucking him even more then."

Wufei grabbed Zechs' hand, twisted it up - apparently causing the morph keen pain because Zechs shrieked in a broken, bird-like voice. And now Treize couldn't deny any more what he saw - Zechs' fingers that looked too short; normal for a human but one phalanx too short for a morph - the tips burnt and still bleeding, with whiteness of bone under the charred skin.

"Don't touch him!" Treize hissed. Wufei gave him a strange, somewhat lost gaze. His eyes were glazed, as if he was drugged. Zechs' mutilated hand fell from Wufei's fingers.

Treize didn't know what he wanted to do. To hit Wufei? His anger demanded some outlet but at the same time was so strong that Treize didn't know what would quench it.

"Go on, hit me," Wufei whispered. His eyes focused, obsidian-dark, narrowed into slits. "Can't you do even that? Do something, Treize. Hit me - or him! You're so afraid... of staining your hands!"

"And that's why you stained yours?" he said hoarsely.

He saw a muscle on Wufei's cheek twitch; Wufei looked down at his hands where blood already became thick, gluey. He had a weird expression as if he was not sure what he saw. Then he looked up at Treize again and his voice was Wufei's best cold tone - haughty, almost patronizing.

"It's a war, mon Captain. And he's our enemy. Am I wrong that I hate the enemy, that I pay him with his own coin?"

The last of Wufei's words, the ones that implied so much, made Treize shiver.

"It was not him," he said awkwardly. "It was not him to blame for what happened to you..."

"Oh yes," Wufei smiled pleasantly. "*You* can make the difference between morphs. Sorry, I can't."

It had a strange effect on Treize suddenly. He felt sober, as if waking up from a dream. Pain was still tearing him but at the same time he knew completely clearly what he had to do.

He took a deep breath of the air poisoned with the smell of blood and burnt flesh.

"You don't hate him, Wufei, do you? Whom you really hate - it's me."

He saw a frown between Wufei's thin eyebrows. The boy looked at him questioningly, and Treize felt almost elated at being able to reach him, to say something that confused Wufei.

"It's really my fault that it happened to you, right?" he continued. "If you hadn't been at my side, they wouldn't have used you to get to me. If I had agreed to their terms, it wouldn't have been so bad. I failed you. You have the right to hate me."

He saw a nervous movement Wufei made.

"I don't hate you, we talked about it before..."

Treize didn't let him finish.

"That's right," he said. "I understand, Wufei. I just don't want you to... punish the one who isn't to blame. Punish me because it's my fault."

He pulled his gun out and reached it out to Wufei, handle first. His gaze was so insistent that the boy didn't risk to disobey - or was too bewildered for that. The cold weight of the gun slipped from Treize's hand to his.

"Shoot me," Treize said. "Finish it all - for both of us."

At this moment, he was ready to die. Or, rather, he thought that if there was a risk of dying, then it was okay - he didn't want his life like that. If his boy really hated him so much - Treize didn't want to live with it.

The gun trembled in Wufei's hands - as if it was too for him. Treize leaned against the wall tiredly. He felt so worn out; his heart was split between those two people whom he'd pulled to himself and wronged: the blond morph, tied to the chair and bleeding, and the darkly beautiful boy with desperate eyes.

Wufei looked at him - and for once there was no mockery or animosity in his eyes - but such stark pain that Treize couldn't bear it, closed his eyes.

He opened them again almost immediately - but the gun wasn't in Wufei's hands any more, hit the floor with a heavy sound - and Wufei himself slid down on his knees, hands pressed to sand.

"I'm sorry!" The voice had nothing in common with Wufei's usual cold one - but was high, almost childish, wrecked with pain. Wufei's forehead touched the floor; his fingernails dug in the sand as if he had to struggle not to slip down. He trembled so violently his teeth chattered. "I'm sorry, Treize, please forgive me!"

For a moment Treize was taken aback. The change that happened to his boy was so abrupt, so shocking. And the knowledge that he was the one who'd caused it made him clench in shame. Wufei's words came out broken, disjointed.

"I'm bad, I know... I got on your nerves... I'm sorry! Please don't leave me! Please do whatever you want to me - just don't leave me. I can't live without you, Treize, I'll die without you, please don't reject me..."


I'll never reject you, Treize wanted to say, I wasn't going to leave you - but his throat was stifled, he couldn't talk. He cast a dazed glance around, saw Zechs' pale face and pain-widened eyes - and looked away.

"I know I was a prick," Wufei continued in a trembling voice. A begging, apologetic smile curved his lips and didn't stay there as despair filled his voice again. "Always turned you away, didn't let you touch me. I know it was wrong - but I can make it up for you. I'll make it good for you!"

His blood-smeared hands reached to the buttons of the jacket, undid them one by one. There was an expression of total absorption on Wufei's face - and Treize looked at him mesmerized, unable to move even though he knew he had to. Wufei's fingers moved down along the row of the buttons.

He managed to break his stupor at last, rushed towards Wufei, caught the boy's hands and drew them away. A patch of Wufei's skin, marked with violet scars, flickered in front of his eyes as he covered Wufei hastily, words flying from his lips:

"No, don't, don't, what are you doing, you don't have to do it..."

He felt sick with shame for his own cruelty, for what he'd done to the boy, what he'd made happen. Wufei struggled against him blindly; his trembling turned into near-convulsions - and then his hands clenched on Treize's jacket, pulling him closer.

"Shh, shh, it's okay, I'm here," he whispered, patting Wufei's back, feeling steel-hard muscles under his palm. Hot thin arms held onto him with desperate strength, almost hurting him. "I'll always be with you," he said.

"Don't leave me." The voice was so childish that, closing his eyes, Treize could imagine it was that other Wufei he held in his arms, Wufei as he'd been three years ago, before everything happened. He felt something hot and wet falling on his neck where Wufei's face was pressed - and he knew what it was. The feeling of Wufei's tears against his skin made him shiver, made his eyes sting.

He got up, cradling the thin body in his arms. Wufei was so light Treize barely felt his weight. Wufei clung to him desperately but the truth was Treize wasn't letting him go; for anything. He picked up the gun from the floor and walked to the door, casting a short glance back, at Zechs.

He would send one of the doctors to take care of the morph; there was nothing else he could really do for Zechs.


"There will be a corridor in ten hours," Treize said. His pale hand touched sand-littered glass of the window. "We'll be getting food and weapons - and you'll be able to leave the planet. At least I hope it'll work."

There was that special softness in Treize's movements that appeared there after a glass or two of wine. But his voice sounded tired and his eyes had an almost haunted expression in them. Trowa wondered if it was because of all these days when the military forces both of the Union and Marotania held the planet in the ring.

"Can you pilot F-621?"

"I trained on F-610," Trowa said. "I don't think it's much different."

"Good. You'll have fourteen minutes to get through the siege. It's not much but it's possible."

"It'll be enough," Trowa said. He didn't doubt it would; he just didn't have another chance.

It'd been six days since Quatre had taken the vaccine from him - and Trowa's own healthiness still seemed unusual, almost unnatural. He couldn't forget he could be well only because Quatre was ill now.

Quatre got it bad; for Trowa, the periods of fever had alternated with spells when he felt almost all right - but Quatre's temperature kept too high almost all the time, despite J's efforts to put it down. The boy was either delirious or too weak to talk and as Trowa looked at him, he couldn't help thinking he shouldn't have agreed to Quatre's offer.

But how could he not have agreed? The timing was such that without Quatre the vaccine would be lost by now... and Trowa himself would be dead, too. It was Quatre who made it possible to wait for the corridor.

And the only thing Trowa could do was to watch him suffering; and to bring the mission to the end, of course.

It'll be enough, Trowa repeated to himself.

"But you give me F-621, don't you?" The thought struck him. "How will I be able to return it?"

He saw Treize shake his head absently; the distant look in his eyes never changed.

"The flyer is dispensable. It'll mean much more for me if you succeed with the vaccine," he said quietly.

"The Order won't forget it." It felt somehow not right to say that but Trowa knew he was acting on behalf of the Order now, represented the Misques - so, there were things he had to say. "Is there a possible way we can pay you up for it?"

He waited for the answer uncomfortably; Treize didn't do it for money - maybe, didn't think about it at all. Then Treize shrugged, and Trowa sighed quietly with relief.

"If the Order insists. You can transfer money to the War Orphan Fund or something like that. It'll be a good enough payment."

"All right," Trowa said.

"Are you going to Nevis?" Treize asked.

Trowa had thought about it; but it would take too much time - would almost put Quatre at risk. He shook his head.

"We have a branch office on Adrianopolis. It has all the authority to handle things - so, I guess we'll go there."

"I have a request for you." Suddenly Treize turned to him, sharp blue eyes staring from the pale face. "A personal one."

"I'll do whatever I can, sir."

Treize raised his hand, as if stopping him from giving a promise he might want not to fulfil.

"I want you to take the morph with you."

Trowa bit the inside of his lip just in time not to let an unnecessary question to slip off. He heard very well what Treize said; he just couldn't believe it.

"I want you to take Zechs Merquise with you. Let him go on Adrianopolis or in some other place, at your choice. Morphs have consulates almost everywhere, so, he will be able to return to Marotania safely."

"You want to let him go?" He wasn't sure what he felt. He'd never asked about Zechs, just as decided - for all those days he'd spent in the camp. But now memories flooded with new intensity. It took Trowa a few moments until another thought came to his mind. "He was working for you, wasn't he?"

But no, it didn't make sense. If Zechs were a collaborator, Treize wouldn't let him go, wouldn't endanger him revealing his status. And could really Zechs work for the insurrectionists? Trowa recalled broken lines of Misques' bodies littering the floor in the hangar of the prison station. It wasn't Zechs who'd given the order but...

"No," Treize shook his head. "He doesn't work for me."

He stayed silent after that but Trowa didn't quite notice it, overwhelmed with his own thoughts. He'd been so frightened of Zechs - then, in prison... He hadn't admitted it before but he knew it for sure now; he had been afraid of Zechs - and his own confusion had been his worst enemy. He didn't have a reason to fear Zechs any more...

"You want explanations, don't you?" Treize asked. Trowa shook his head, he didn't mean it like that, but Treize didn't notice his negation. "I can't kill him. And I can't let him stay here because someone will kill him."

There was bitterness and challenge in Treize's voice - as if he expected Trowa to argue. Did he think Trowa wanted Zechs dead?

It was not so; for the first time Trowa let himself think openly about things he considered safer not to recall - all those times when Zechs had come to rescue him, their meeting at the shuttle bay when Zechs had stopped him... and got captured. Trowa suddenly felt guilt overcome him, at never finding out what Zechs' destiny was. Surely Trowa hardly could've influenced it...

"He's our enemy, of course," Treize continued and Trowa wondered whether it was him Treize tried to prove it. "But there're things... I can't let him suffer more than he already did. It just isn't fair."

Trowa felt heat flood him; Treize's words resounded in his ears with their uncompromising meaning. But surely he had known it before - that there could be nothing good happening to Zechs in captivity? Could he willingly avoid this thought so completely?

"I can't insist, Trowa, I understand how you must be feeling about morphs. So, if you say 'no', I don't..."

"I'll take him with me, sir," Trowa said with numb lips. "It's not a problem, I'll take him."

Zechs saved my life and I never even...

"You don't need to worry," Treize went on but it seemed there was a burden removed from his shoulders. "We'll take all security measures to make him of no risk for you. You'll just leave him on some planet, where it's convenient for you."


"Thank you," Treize said seriously, with too much intensity, and Trowa felt such shame and anger against himself that he couldn't answer. Then he regained self-control.

"It's me who must thank you, sir."

* * *

People scurried about the hangar in preparation to meet the cargo ship once the corridor was open. But there, around him and Quatre, was a small island of quietness. The pointed shape of the flyer cast a long shadow over them. Treize's face looked sad and wan this way, his cool blue eyes darkened to thunderstorm grey.

"He's already there," Treize said in a low voice. "The code is 542, the magnet card is on the code panel. He's secured, you don't need to worry about him."

Trowa nodded; for a moment Treize's stare was so openly vulnerable that Trowa felt almost painful sympathy towards him. It was so unlike Treize, unlike his usual confidence. He seemed so lost now - as if treading shaky ground. And somehow, Trowa felt much the same at the moment, even though with a different reason. He tried not to think but couldn't quite muster it. The future made him feel unsure.

On that night when he'd responded to Quatre's kisses, he made his choice - and he was ready to take responsibility for it. And yet now he was going back to the Order. This thought should've made Trowa happy - and in a way it did. But in a way, it made him so frightened that sometimes he felt choking. There was no other way, of course. Returning to Misques meant that Quatre would be able to get rid of the vaccine, would be well again. But it also meant he would lose Quatre.

There still were a few days till then - four or five, depending on how long the way to Adrianopolis took, and Trowa hid behind this thought faintheartedly.

He looked at Quatre; the stubborn boy refused to go to bed and now stood huddling, looking like a sparrow with his tousled hair and darkened, dazed eyes.

"Ten minutes," someone said. Trowa looked at Treize and Doctor J and sudden understanding that he was really leaving descended on him. His heart clenched painfully; it must've been sorrow, even though Trowa had never felt like this before, about a place or people. His loyalties always lay with his Order, the rest of the world seeming insignificant, transient.

He saw Quatre suddenly fling himself at J, the boy's thin arms clasped around the man. The doc looked quite baffled for a moment and then his metal hand patted over Quatre's back. Trowa felt the doctor's gaze on himself, recalled their conversation a few hours ago - and J's answer when Trowa finally had asked him the question that kept hovering in his mind insistently:

"Why does Quatre do it for me?"

He probably knew the answer but he wanted a confirmation.

"Because he doesn't want you to leave him, you baka," J said and it wasn't what Trowa expected - but it was an answer good enough.

He wished suddenly he had the same openness in demonstrating his feelings as Quatre had; it never stopped surprising him that the boy could be so eager in getting attached, after everything he'd bee through. Trowa couldn't; only with Quatre he could be different... Quatre made him different.

"Seven minutes."

He reached out his hand to Treize and felt a firm handshake - and then turned to Quatre, called a little harshly:

"Go to the flyer. Now!"

The place in the pilot cabin was adjusted for him, the helmet ready. He put it on, touched the buttons. The voice sounded in the earphone:

"Two minutes."

Would he ever see any of these people again? Would he ever see Treize? These two weeks on the planet had changed so much in him - he never thought it could be like this.

"Four. Three. Two. One. Go," the voice said.

He pushed the lever and the flyer started.

* * *

It took him twelve minutes to pass through the corridor. It made the overload a bit harsh but Trowa decided that it was worth it. Everything went quite smoothly after first difficult minutes; piloting through empty regions was easy. Trowa spent a couple of hours, straightening the data and then left the flyer to auto-pilot.

Quatre was curled in a tight ball under the blanket and Trowa tucked it around him, couldn't resist brushing the fair strands away from the boy's face. Quatre moved sleepily, his small hand catching Trowa's, pressing it to his soft hot cheek.

"Stay with me," he mumbled.

"I just need to do a few things first," Trowa said smiling.

It was true, there were things he had to do - to check if everything was functioning all right. And there was another thing that he supposed had to be done but it didn't mean he enjoyed it. He knew he would do it, so, there was no reason to dwell on it - but somehow this reasoning didn't quite work. He was in front of the locked door finally, entered the code and came in.

The truth was Trowa didn't quite know what it was he expected to see; surprisingly so, taking into account the time he'd spent thinking about it. He remembered the helmet, the hated dark-grey uniform, long strands of blond hair... The hair was the same; as the man raised his face to look at him, Trowa recognized the tangle of white tresses.

His mind told him it was Zechs Merquise - Zechs whom he'd been so bitterly afraid for so long; but Trowa almost couldn't believe it.

Just a man... A blond, very young man with pale face and huge blue eyes surrounded with shadows. He looked at Trowa over his arm; his wrists were chained to a bar going slightly above his head. And when Trowa slid his gaze over the man's hands, he felt his heart sink, a gasp breaking from his lips. Zechs' fingers were mutilated - the scars on their tips fresh, barely healing, skin blue and swollen. The sight was so ugly, so hideous that Trowa couldn't look at it - and yet couldn't look away as well, couldn't think about anything else.

"Ah, Trowa Barton." The voice was familiar, velvety smooth, with a note of mockery in it. The voice Trowa recognized. "Nice to meet you."

There was something hollow in these words, despite their deliberate lightness - and Zechs' chuckle sounded broken, or so it seemed. Trowa made an effort to look away from the terrible hands, to look at Zechs' face.

"It's what you told me about... that you look like human."

The words were meaningless, and Trowa expected Zechs to scold him for them - but blue eyes just looked at him over the chained arms with strange attention.

That's what Treize meant under taking all security measures, Trowa thought - to chain him like this...

"I see you aren't sick any more," Zechs said. "It's great, isn't it? How did it happen? Did you get used to whatever you were carrying - or did you lose it?"

Trowa bit his lip, hesitating whether to answer; Zechs had figured out this much by himself... and anyway, now it didn't matter whether morphs knew about the vaccine or not. By the time Zechs could contact his people, the vaccine would be safe with Misques.

"Another... another person carries it," he said.

"Another person..." There was a brief smile flickering on Zechs' lips. His mouth had been split, Trowa noticed; the cuts almost healed but the lips were dry and cracked, as if in thirst. "You say it in such way... as if it's someone important for you."

A brief flash of anger pierced Trowa; Zechs always tried to get into his mind, didn't he? Hadn't changed in this... always understood Trowa effortlessly. And why did Zechs care, anyway? He must've been in trouble bad enough not to wonder about Trowa...

"What's with your hands?" Trowa asked in a voice that sounded too small, despite his intention. He saw Zechs' mouth twitch painfully and there was a small pause before the morph answered, his voice perfectly unconcerned:

"Nothing. An accident. My own fault, actually."

These words triggered something in Trowa, making shame and distress flood him. How could it happen? How could he let it happen? Could he have prevented it if he hadn't played his cowardly game of hiding from his fears? Zechs had never let anything happen to him in prison, always came to rescue him at the last moment.

He shook his head, trying to dispel the thought; it didn't work. He knew he'd been wrong, had been a coward - and if something happened to Zechs, it was his, Trowa's, fault as much as the fault of those who had done it. He clenched his fists, gathering strength to say it.

"I'm sorry, Zechs."

"What for?"

"For... ditching you."

He expected sarcastic laughter but Zechs didn't laugh; there was a strange concentrated expression in the morph's eyes that made him look younger and somehow more vulnerable - as if he doubted whether Trowa ridiculed him.

"It's nothing," Zechs said finally.

Nothing... too many things were nothing for him any more - or seemed so. It made Trowa feel so uncomfortable for some reason that he winced - and felt Zechs' gaze on himself. The blue eyes were attentive, almost searching.

"You've changed," Zechs said. Trowa frowned and shrugged, not knowing how to react at it. After a small pause, Zechs continued, his voice strangely soft. "Something... unfroze in you."

Trowa wanted to ask what it was supposed to mean but knew there was something true in Zechs' words; a part of him - a part he didn't ever know about before - seemed to melt... and sometimes it hurt.

"Is it because of that... another person of yours?" Zechs asked. Trowa pressed his lips; he wasn't going to answer. "Is it him or her?"

"Him," Trowa whispered. The thought of Quatre curled in bed, his soft hair tangled and matted, made his voice sound hoarse.

"So, he was your first..." Zechs said thoughtfully. "I hoped... you know... that I would be. But it didn't happen like that."

It made him recall; all Zechs' threats and obnoxious words, his touches that Trowa had feared so much and yet, deep in his heart, found almost irresistible - and feared even more because of it. He recalled that night when he'd already decided to go along with whatever Zechs wanted - and that moment when Zechs stopped the whipping, spared him from shame of crying out.

But all of it was in the past, wasn't it? After that, there was Zechs' suffering; humiliation and abuse he had gone through.

The morph's face distorted in a small ripple of pain.

"Do your hands hurt?"

A stupid question it was; what did he think?

"A little. Phantom pains. Where are you taking me?"

"Didn't they tell you? Didn't Treize tell..."

"Treize..." A brief smile curved Zechs' lips, clashing with an expression of distress in his eyes. Trowa flinched. He couldn't figure it out, what there was between those two - if anything was there. Or, maybe, he just didn't want to figure out. "No, he didn't."

"To Adrianopolis," Trowa said softly. "You'll be free there. You'll be able to go to Marotanian consulate there and they'll send you home."

There was no joy in Zechs' eyes, against Trowa's expectation; his gaze was too tired, with something lost in it. As if nothing could really gladden or really hurt him.

Trowa moved on a sudden impulse, before letting the thoughts of advisability take hold on him.

"Zechs... If you give me a word of honor that you won't try to get hold of the flyer, won't try to hinder me - I'll release you."

He didn't know whether one could believe a morph's word of honor, whether the creatures even had such a thing. But what else was he supposed to do? To keep Zechs with his hands chained for four or five days? Maybe, for the sake of security he was supposed to do it.

"No one is going to harm you any more," he continued hastily when Zechs didn't say anything. It looked like he tried to coax the morph into giving this word, didn't he? "It's just a few days and you'll be able to go. There is no reason for you to try to do anything crazy. I'll bring you to Adrianopolis - it's not a bad place, is it?"

"I won't try to do anything against you," Zechs said quietly. There was a strangest expression in his eyes, as if he didn't quite believe Trowa was serious. "I give you my word of honor."

Not letting himself think any more, Trowa walked up and ran the card through the lock. The cuffs opened and Zechs' hands fell down deadly. Trowa heard a hiss of pain, saw Zechs' face going blank. There were rough signs left on his wrists by the cuffs, skin abraded and swollen around them.

I can go now, Trowa thought; shut the door and leave him till the time to bring him food comes. But somehow he couldn't move, couldn't look away from the crippled hands curled awkwardly on Zechs' lap.

He reached and touched these hands, as lightly as he could. The skin felt very hot, the scars jagged and hard under the tips of his fingers. Zechs didn't flinch; his eyes, widened, looked up at Trowa mesmerized, unblinking, black pupils huge.

He held the morph's hands between his, and Zechs didn't make an attempt to get free. Trowa ran his fingers over Zechs' wrists softly. He didn't know what he was doing, it was sheer insanity - but he couldn't help it. There was something stronger in this touch than the reason, than the training infused into him by the Misques.

"Zechs," he whispered. "I'm really sorry."

Suddenly one hand slipped out of his - and a moment later hot fingers touched his face, pulling his long bangs away from his eyes. Trowa felt so unprotected, as if the hair falling over his face was really some kind of shield. Now nothing hid him from Zechs' insistent look. But Zechs' hand that kept smoothing his hair away was almost gentle.

"It's okay, Trowa," Zechs said in a calm, composed voice - and then his lips trembled and something broke in his face, tears trickling down from his eyes. Trowa reacted unconsciously, in some instinctive way that had been unthinkable for him before even a few weeks ago. He pulled Zechs to himself, wrapped his arms around the morph's shoulders - and felt thin hard body tremble in his embrace.

Zechs' self-composure was gone, replaced with desperate sobbing; his face was pressed against Trowa's chest - and Trowa didn't let him go, stroked the long tangled hair.

"It's okay," he found himself saying, "it's okay, it's all over. No one will hurt you any more. You'll be home soon."

He felt Zechs shake, almost convulsively, heard broken words coming between sobs.

"I can't... I can't go home... they won't want me any more, for nothing."

It was true - he had so little in common with his folks now, even his fingers didn't look morph-like any more. And after everything that happened to him...

"I see," Trowa whispered. "I understand. But it'll be okay."

What else could he say? He didn't know what Zechs would do; he didn't know what he himself was going to do, where he was going. How was he going to go back to the Order when his heart belonged elsewhere... belonged to the frail blond boy sleeping in the next room now.

The End of Chapter 10

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