by Dyna Dee
The piercing blue eyes of the tall blonde were fixed solely on him, and sent a shiver of fear through his suspended body. "Please put me down," Duo asked politely, slightly embarrassed that his voice came out of him sounding timid. "you're hurting me." When his request was ignored, he began to struggle to break free, but the painful clutching of his upper arms and shoulders increased, keeping him in place.
"What have we here?" Treize's amused voice asked with calmly from behind the tall blonde.
"A little treat." Zechs gave a knowing chuckle.
The sandy haired man, who looked so much like the King, came to stand by his Heart's shoulder, casting appreciating looks at the boy in the other's hands. He caught his breath at the boy, whose natural beauty was even more enhanced with his glorious hair falling freely down around his body, and cheeks flushed with color, and breathing rapidly, and who looked up at him beseechingly. At first glance he appeared as if he had just been delightfully ravished and was breathtakingly stunning.
"Humm." Treize moaned in reaction to the boy.
"Do you think he tastes as good as he looks?" Zechs asked, a mischievous look in his eye.
Treize chuckled. "Only one way to find out."
Duo didn't know what they were about, but he didn't like how either of the men were looking at him, as if they had something wicked in their minds.
Without letting the boy's feet touch the floor, the tall blonde flipped the smaller body around and crushed his back against his broad chest. His arms quickly circled around Duo, pinning his arms down at his sides.
"Lemme go!" The alarmed boy shouted, becoming panicked.
Treize quickly moved in front of the Prince's Fourth and held the heart-shaped face firmly between both hands, then swooped down and began to thoroughly kiss him.
After a few agonizing moments of struggle and unable to break free, the braided boy began to yell past Treize's lips. "Don't! Stop!" Duo's cries were muffled as the older man's mouth increased their pressure and assaulted his lips with determination.
"Let him go!" a firm, familiar voice demanded behind Treize's back.
The Prince's cousin reluctantly began to pull back, also recognizing the voice. He gently tugged on the boy's luscious lower lip with his teeth before letting go completely. His eyes then strayed to his own Heart, a smug smile on his face. "Tastes wonderful." his voice rumbled deeply as his eyes sparkled.
"I said, let him go!" Wufei's voice echoed loudly in the stone crafted corridor.
Treize turned to look arrogantly at the Prince's Hands, his eyes measuring the boy's worth. The black haired boy stood in a battle stance, his sword in hand and his stance displayed his willingness to fight.
"Or what?" he countered lazily, raising a haughty eyebrow in question. "You'll run me through with a sword? Me, the King's nephew? And all because of a stolen kiss?" he said mildly indignant.
"No." Wufei answered, his voice cold and calm, keeping his stance of readiness. "But I could strategically strike Zechs so that he would no longer be of service to you." There was no hint of humor in the exotic boy's face.
Zechs eased Duo down his chest to shield the front of him with the boy's body, yet continued to hold the squirming singer firmly in his grasp.
Treize sighed as if bored with the whole situation. "Let him go." he casually told the tall blonde. His First released the boy who flung himself out of their reach and scampered around to place himself behind Heero's fierce looking Hand.
Trowa suddenly appeared from around the corner to back his brothers up. He opened his arms and Duo eagerly turned into them, burying his face against the taller boy's chest. Securely wrapped in his arms, the smaller boy missed the hateful and warning glares that passed between the other four.
"How dare you touch one of my Four." Heero's angry voice addressed his cousin a moment later as he rounded the corner, fury written on his face. He stopped to stand at Wufei's shoulder and Quatre, who followed closely behind, stopped near Trowa and Duo.
Treize gave his cousin a unconcerned smile. "No harm done, cousin." He raised his hands showing he didn't want a fight. "Just wanted a taste."
"He's mine!" the Prince growled out. "You have no right to do this."
His tall cousin's smile faded a glint of anger appeared in his eyes. "He should have been mine." He then pointed to Quatre standing behind the prince. "You took him from my lands. By all rights, I should have had this one" he motioned to Duo, "from out of your land."
"We've been over this before, Treize." Heero snapped. "The King settled against your weak claim for Duo, and Duo chose me. Where do you come up with these fabricated rights?" he snorted in disgust. "Besides," he added. "your land is the King's land, you are a tenant there. As the King's son, it is my right to find any of my Four from any of my father's lands."
"You earn that privilege only by the luck of your father being born a few moments before mine." Treize snarled.
"Luck or The Maker's will," Heero replied more calmly. "I'm still the King's son, and these are my Four. Keep your jealous hands off or the consequences will be severe, cousin or not!" he warned in a steely voice.
Noin and Une appeared at Treize's back, ready to defend him.
"Enough!" Terrell, the King's eyes rounded the corner. "What's gone amiss here?" he demanded.
"Just a little fun, no harm intended." Treize spoke up, instantly changing his anger to a cool and controlled facade. "Ask young Duo. I didn't hurt you, did I, boy?"
The boy in question stiffened in Trowa's arms as he heard his name rolling off of Treize's lips so casually. After a moment, he turned. He knew Treize hadn't really hurt him, except for his sore arms which would no doubt bear bruises. No, he wasn't hurt; just humiliated and disgusted.
"Duo?" Terrell asked gently.
The braided boy lifted his face away from Trowa's chest and turned to face his attackers. With anger in his eyes he rubbed the back of his hand viciously across his lips and spit on the ground. "Disgusted, but not hurt." he answered, glad that his voice came out stronger than he felt.
The King's Eyes studied each group glaring at each other. He could guess what had happened and frowned. He turned and directed his comments to Treize. "You are out of line here, Treize. Offer Prince Heero and his Four your apology, then return to your chambers until tonight's feast."
Treize straightened, bristling at Terrell's order. "Very well, I apologize." he said harshly, no sign of sincerity in his voice or visage. He and his three waited until at last, Heero gave a slight nod, acknowledging the apology.
"Don't you or your Three ever touch any one of my Four again." he darkly warned his cousin. Treize glared in reply and then turned his back on them all, his Three following him back to their rooms as ordered.
It was only after the retreating group disappeared around the corner when the prince turned towards Duo. He was proud of the boy at how he had replied to Treize with spunk. It would be important in the years to come to only show strength to those who would challenge his right to rule. He had no doubt that his cousin would issue such a challenge one day. Jealousy of his position as heir had always beleaguered his cousin, though he had managed to keep it in check until recently.
"Duo." he called out to his Heart tenderly. The braided boy moved from Trowa's hovering protection and into the Prince's comforting embrace. "Are you hurt?" he whispered into his ear as he held him close, feeling his rapidly beating heart against his chest.
"Only my arms where Zech's held me off the ground. But it's alright." he replied as he buried his head into the Prince's neck and shivered from the cold and rattled nerves.
"Come," Heero patted his back in a gesture of comfort. "you're cold. Lets go back to my chambers." He turned the boy to fit him under his arm. Quatre rushed over to walk beside them, taking up Duo's hand in his.
As the hour neared for their arrival in the banquet hall, Duo felt ill as ease. In truth, he didn't want to face Treize and his Three after the incident that afternoon, but he couldn't show his uneasiness to the others. Heero had praised him for standing up to his cousin after the incident. He couldn't let him know how confused and frightened he had been. He rubbed his forehead with his fingertips. His head ached, and he was just grateful Heero hadn't asked him why he had bolted from his bedroom. This had certainly been a confusing day, and right now, he longed for his bed and not the impending feast.
A soft knock sounded at his door just before it opened and Quatre's blonde head peeked around the corner. "Time to go, Duo." he announced cheerily.
The braided boy sighed before he looked up and forced a smile that didn't reach his eyes.
Quatre's brows drew together in worry, and entering the room, closed the door and approached his friend. "It'll be alright, Duo." he said soothingly as he hugged the singer to him. "We'll all be there to keep you safe."
"I know." Duo felt ashamed that the other boy could sense his feelings. "I'm just tired and my head hurts."
The blonde pulled away and put a cool, soft hand on his forehead. "No fever." he reported. "It's probably just a reaction to what happened today." he rationalized. "I'm sure Heero would excuse you from attending. But he would be very disappointed at you not being there."
Duo nodded. "And I don't want to send the message to Treize that he had that much of an affect on me."
Quatre's smiled beamed in pleasure. "Then gather your cloak and gift and lets go."
Returning the smile, Duo turned and went to the foot of his bed and knelt down in front of the chest of clothes. His hand dug down to the bottom and latched onto the gift he'd painstakingly prepared. He pulled the rolled parchment out, gently secured by a blue ribbon.
Quatre eyed it curiously, but didn't ask as they had all agreed to keep their gifts a surprise. He picked Duo's cloak up off of his bed and placed it around his shoulders, the singer fastened the clasp that held it together at the neck.
Duo's eyes raised up to meet the light blue eyes, and Quatre could see the uncertainty in him. He leaned forward and gently kissed Duo's lips, hoping to return the boy to his normal good spirits. When he pulled back again, both boys smiled with affection for each other. Taking the braided boy's hand, Quatre led him out to meet the others.
The feast came and went without further incident. Heero ignored his cousin, who had put on an air of indifference. The prince received his gifts from his Four in front of the attending guests. Wufei presented him with a finely crafted sword, much like his own precious blade. Trowa played a tune on a lute that he had composed. Quatre had worked with a tanner to craft a leather casing for Heero knife, and Duo performed a song of unrequited love and presented a scroll on which he had taken great pains to perfectly form the words of the song in neat and bold script.
The Prince's eyes shone with delight at the thoughtful gifts. Many others approached the royal table with gifts for the Prince, which he acknowledge and accepted with humble gratitude.
Yet as Treize approached with his Three at his side, Heero's eyes narrowed in warning. He observed that his cousin carried a cloth covered object in his hand that gave the appearance of a box. With a slight bow, Treize held the box out and extended his arms outward towards his Prince.
Heero reached out and, reluctantly took the box from him. Placing it before him he removed the silken cloth and saw that it had, indeed , a finely tooled wooden box. Studying it, he unfastened the latch at the front and lifted the hinged lid. Inside was a gold cup encircled with five beautiful gems.
"Tis a cup fit for a king." Treize said, causing Heero to look up sharply. He remembered the old saying to beware of gifts from an enemy, and raised an eyebrow in question. Was Treize his enemy, or was he trying to apologize in his own formal but round about way? Was he finally acknowledging that he was subjugated to his King, and that Heero was going to one day be King? He knew without a doubt that Treize coveted his position as heir, even as his father, Dallin, had coveted his brother's place as King. His jealousy and traitorous action caused him to be banished from the kingdom after he had attempted to gain the throne by a thwarted attempt to kill his twin and rightful ruler of Bronwyn. Those had been black days for the royal family of Bronwyn. The king had been injured by his own brother's blade and might have been kill if Uncle Jens had not taken the arrow into his body meant for the king by the bow of his brother's Hands. It was well for Prince Dallin that Jens was not mortally wounded or he himself would have felt the cold steel of the King's own blade in is body.
The King's twin was stripped of his Four, two who had died in the attempted coup, his other two were sent across the seas, never to return. Prince Dallin was then sent to the far northern reaches of the kingdom to eek out a life in the harsher climate, given a humble and secluded home and land, but no money or power. The King's heart softened though when it came to his nephew, not willing to blame an innocent child for the sins of his father. Treize was allowed to return when he was older, and was given back his family's ancestral estate in the far northeastern part of Bronwyn to manage, and was welcomed to visit the castle and it's many celebrations. His cousin had behaved for the most part, and had been allowed to have his own Four, as was his birthright as a Prince of Bronwyn, an it proved to be an activity which took up most of his adolescence. But his barbed insinuations of "accident of birth" had been insightful, and his jealousy of the life Heero lived was plainly evident. Yet here tonight, he seemed to be making a statement with such a fine gift to his cousin, and Heero had never wanted to think the worst of a person he had once spent days in happy child's play with. Those days seemed far away now.
With a nod and a slightly forced smile, Heero addressed his cousin. "Thank you for the thoughtful and exquisite gift, cousin." he replied to the gift properly. "The sentiments behind it are truly welcome."
Treize gave one of his well-practiced courtly smiles and bowed again before he and his Three withdrew back to their seats.
The meal was of the finest fare, and the wine, being the best in the land, was liberally distributed among the guests. As the meal ended and the entertainment had begun, Wufei leaned into Heero's side. "Duo is weary. Shall I take him to his room?" he asked aside.
With concern the prince looked past this First down the table to find his Fourth. Duo leaned heavily on his elbow, his forehead rested firmly on his open palm, the plate of food before him seemed almost untouched. Quatre, sitting next to him, was speaking softly, his arm around Duo's shoulder in an attempt to comfort. Heero's eyes were then drawn to where his cousin sat facing them from the table paralleling theirs. Treize and Zechs were both staring at the singer. No matter the earlier gesture, Heero didn't trust him any longer to behave himself where Duo was concerned. He nodded his head at Wufei's request. "Yes, but take him to my bedchamber. Treize might be tempted to enter Duo's room, but he wouldn't dare to enter mine."
A look of anger swept across the First's face. "He wouldn't dare!" he growled
"Maybe not." Heero replied darkly. "But Duo's is already badly shaken. I don't want to take any chances with his welfare."
Wufei nodded and stood. Moments later, he escorted the braided boy out of the Great Hall, Quatre hovering in their wake, ready to be of assistance.
Hours later, the Prince of Bronwyn entered his room, candle in hand casting a soft glow around him. He moved slowly, silently to the bed so that the glow cast it dreamlike aura onto the slumberer.
Wufei had returned back to the hall and reported that he had tucked Duo into the prince's bed and stayed with him until he had fallen asleep.
Duo slept on his back, his arms raised so that his half-opened hand rested by his head. His long braid lay carelessly sprawled across the other pillow. The blanket was pushed down to his waist and Heero could see he slept in his untucked shirt and breeches.
Placing the candle on the stand next to his bed, Heero began the task of undressing himself, carefully folding his best clothing and placing them on the end of the bed, then pulled on the long night shirt that had been laid out for him. He moved to the top of the bed, and climbed under the covers, gently taking hold of the braid and holding it in his hands. Memories returned of Duo's hair falling down around him that afternoon and of the pleasure of being able to touch the velvety softness as he held him close after the incident with Treize. The memory elicited a deep sigh from him.
He carefully removed the tie binding the braid, wanting to feel the lush softness once again and unable to resist the temptation. He slowly unraveled the twisted rope of hair, hoping not to disturb the sleeping boy. His fingers brushed over the silky length. It was as intoxicating to him as the finest of wines.
Duo suddenly turned onto his side and resettled. His face was close enough that his breath sent cool puffs of air onto the prince's neck. Heero reached up and touched the delicate skin of the heart shaped face and stopped short, his hand trembling slightly. He shouldn't touch him, he reminded himself. This was Quatre's time of bonding and he mustn't be distracted by his greatest desire....slumbering before him. Their time would come, and oh, how he longed for it.
But the candlelight on the boy's face gave him a semblance of the ethereal. The invisible and growing connection to the braided boy that was his Heart was undeniable and, for the moment, too irresistible to be completely denied. Positioning himself, Heero brought his face close to Duo's. 'Just one kiss.' he told himself. 'If I touch him softly, he may just stay asleep and no harm will have been done.'
Inching his lips closer to the other's, Heero paused, inwardly debating with himself as to the rightness of his actions. 'Just one.' he told himself firmly. His lips touched Duo's, ever so gently.