Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I don't own nor profit from GW or its characters.

Warnings: angst, angst, and a verbal account of the rape

Heero's Fourth
Part 17
by Dyna Dee

The atmosphere in the throne room was strained and tense as the King and his Four, the Queen, the Prince's Three, and at least a dozen royal guardsmen silently eyed the four standing before them to face the King's judgement for their actions. A few nobles who were in attendance at court were summoned to witness the proceedings and had arrived separately. All turned as the door opened and the Prince of Bronwyn stepped into the throne room. He moved with unerring confidence to take his seat next to the King, his head held high, his eyes steeled with resolve. Once he was seated, the King began as he addressed the four before him.

"You have been brought before me, nephew, to answer for your crimes against your cousin, and his Fourth. Have you anything to say for yourself in your defense?" The room went silent in expectation of what the tall, sandy haired young man would say. They were disappointed as he chose to remain silent, head bowed and eyes cast down.

Taking a deep breath, the King glared darkly at the young man he had hoped would have a different fate than that of his father. His heart constricted tightly in his chest that he was once again forced to punish a member of his family for an attack against the crown. "Your actions, Treize, against your Prince by taking his Fourth forcibly and against his will violated him when you tried to force the bonding upon him has brought you here today to answer for your misdeeds, as well as accepting the shame you have brought upon yourself and your father's already tarnished name by your jealousy of Heero's position and a desire for his Fourth. Your treatment of the boy was despicable and base. You're a disgrace to the royal family whose name you have borne and who blood runs through your veins. Nevertheless, I'm willing to hear from you any word of defense against your actions. Are you quite sure you have nothing to say on your own behalf?"

It seemed the young man being addressed had changed his mind after being charged by his royal uncle. He raised his head and eyes to meet his King's, and stepped forward and bowed appropriately. "Sire," he began as he straightened. "At the time I took the boy, my true desire was to bring him to one of my secluded lodges and woo him, to begin the bonding process. I saw the young singer with Master Rem before the feast in which he was first introduced to the court. I admit I greatly desired him and felt he would be a perfect replacement for my lost Fourth. However, my cousin beat me to Master Rem for permission to become acquainted with him, and put him under his protection. Heero took his Third, a Sensitive, from my lands. I felt this new boy was mine by right. I saw him first and he should have been mine." he declared with some defiance in his tone.

The King's eyes narrowed darkly at the young man standing before him. "You know that's not how the bonding works, and I thought we'd resolved this issue that first night that Heero announced he'd found his Fourth, Treize. You presumed unwisely that the boy would want you. Have you forgotten the bonding takes place under mutual consent and is achieved only by following certain guidelines handed down by our Fore Fathers as instructed by the Great Druids themselves? You have taken that which was given to us to preserve the royal line of Bronwyn and used it in a fowl manner to meet your own wants and desires. I believe it was quite apparent that the boy did not consent, did he?"

Treize bowed his head and sadly shook it as the events of the day they'd taken the boy filled his head. "One ill-fated mistake after another dogged my heels that day." he answered, then feeling the need to confess what had transpired, he continued. "When Zechs and I entered Duo's room, we startled him and he awoke fully and screamed for Trowa. Zechs hit him much too hard in order to silence him. The boy was unconscious when we carried him from the room, wrapped in a blanket as he wore only his nightclothes. Yet as we entered the corridor, we found ourselves facing Trowa who openly challenged us. It was then we learned that Duo had been ill. Unbeknownst to the boy standing defiant and ready to fight, Une came from behind and knocked Trowa out with a blow to the head, and I believe she saved his life, for Zechs or myself would have had to defend ourselves against his attack had he been able to make it, and I had hoped not to cause grievous harm or shed blood as I claimed Duo for my own."

"How can you say that?" Heero shouted as he jumped to his feet. "Do you call what you did to Duo not hurting him?"

"Sit down, Heero!" The King said firmly and placed a restraining hand on his son's forearm. "Let's hear him out, it is his right." he reminded him.

After a moment, the Prince got control of his raging anger and sat, unhappily, his knuckles turning white as he gripped the round carved edge of his chair.

Treize continued at the King's nod. "We were on the Western Road when Duo awoke. He went wild, not only about being abducted, but apparently also because he was on a horse. I couldn't contain his thrashing and screaming and I refused to let Zechs hit him again. I tried to sooth him, but he was in a panicked state and beyond my words. Zechs suggested we move off the road and into the forest to deal with the problem." He closed his eyes as he recalled the day and continued. "It seemed to take forever for us to get far enough in the forest so a passer-by wouldn't hear Duo's loud complaints." he said quietly and took a deep breath to continue.

"Our progress was also slowed as the forest's growth was thick and it was still fairly dark. Duo continued thrashing about wildly, fighting my hold to get off the horse. When at last we found a small clearing, Zechs took Duo from me and held him tightly and away from the horses. The boy became more coherent after a short while, but then began to rail at us that Heero would come for him, that he belonged only to Heero, and only Heero would have him. We knew his bonding hadn't begun yet, and I tried to convince him he could be happy with me, that we would care for him, protect him. It was then that Zechs reminded me that Heero would be fast on our trail, and because of Duo's fear of horses he would slow us considerably and that we would lose the boy if we didn't claim him quickly. He surprised me when he told me he had brought the Druid's wine, just in case, and that desperate times called for desperate action, that we could take him there in the forest, hoping the bonding would take, or lose him forever."

He looked up to the King with regret in his eyes. "I knew it was wrong, that it was most likely impossible to bond under such circumstances, but Duo was reviling me, and Zech was urging me to go forward with his suggestion. My other two had withdrawn their thoughts from me in disapproval. I felt I'd committed myself to this scheme and I would pay for it regardless of my next move." He bowed his head in shame. "I allowed myself to be swayed by Zechs because I wanted the boy desperately enough to risk all." he paused. "And so I took him. We tried to force the wine into him, but he kept spitting it out at us. He fought me, so Zechs had to hold him down on the ground. I tried to be gentle, but I knew by his screams that I had hurt him. When I was done, there was no bond. I could sense Une and Noin were upset with what I'd done, but Zechs told me I must do it again and as many times as I could until the bond took or the singer would be lost to us. And so I did. It took a while, but I claimed his body two more times. I knew as I looked down at him sobbing, coughing, and exhausted from this ordeal that I had not bonded with him, nor would I ever bond to him. I also knew what I had done was horribly wrong, and I had repeated that wrong three times altogether." He looked up, his eyes haunted with the visions in his head. "Zechs told me he would clean and dress the boy and leave him by the road to be found by those sent to search for him. He wanted me to ride ahead with my other two who were agitated and distraught over what they'd witnessed. We left the both of them and traveled back to the road. After a short time, I realized that I couldn't read Zechs as he had learned to block me out. Feeling he might be in danger, I sent Noin back to give him aid. Both joined me just after sunrise and we began our hasty flight from Bronwyn."

Treize had ended his confession. "I know what I did was wrong." he stood straight to face the consequence of his actions. "I shouldn't have taken him, shouldn't have forced myself on him, and I'm ready to make any restitution I can to him and to my cousin."

"Restitution!" Heero snapped indignantly. "Restitution will not make this right, nor will it go away because you say you are sorry, cousin. You can not give him back his innocense nor remove the memory of being raped, beaten, and bitten repeatedly. I never thought that you, Treize, would stoop so low as to practice this form of abuse on another, especially an innocent." the Prince's voice seethed in anger.

"What?" Treize blinked in obvious confusion. "Beaten and bit. What are you talking about?" he demanded.

"Are you denying it?" the King asked. "There are several witnesses, including Heero, Jens, and Rolf who saw the damage to the boy's back. He was indeed beaten leaving lash marks and the numerous bite marks and deep scratches that drew blood."

During the King's description of Duo's injuries, Treize's eyes went wide with shock, but as the king finished, his nephew's shoulders, once straight with pride in his position and name, now slumped in defeat and shame. "I'll accept any sentence you give me, Sire." he said quietly, defeated and ready to be punished.

"No!" Noin stepped forward. "It wasn't Treize." she informed them.

"Noin, stop. Please." Treize turned his head to firmly give the order to his Hands.

The dark haired woman hesitated for a moment, exchanging a meaningful glance with him, but then stepped forward again. "Please Sire, hear me." she begged softly.

The King nodded his head for her to continue.

"Shut up, Noin." Zechs growled, his face red with anger.

"I will not be silenced." she snapped back to him, her anger matching his.

She turned back again to address the King. "Sire." she began with a slight bow of respect. "It wasn't Treize who abused the boy as you describe. The events he spoke of were truly what happened in his presence. Une and I were there, shamefully observing the attempted bonding." The black haired woman's voice shook slightly with emotion and she closed her eyes as a tear fell from one corner as the memory of that morning came back. "In my mind, every night since then, I have heard the boy crying out for them to stop, screaming from the pain." her voice choked. "I knew it was wrong...., so wrong."

"Why didn't you try to stop them?" the King challenged her to search her conscious.

"I'm Treize's Eyes, not his conscious." she replied quietly, her eyes not able to meet the royals' gaze. "And Zechs was in a blood lust. I've seen him in that state before and know there is no stopping it. He truly was in control that night, and had manipulated Treize towards his own ends. He wanted the singer from the first moment he saw him, lusted after him. But he knew he couldn't get to him with Prince Heero and Treize both wanting him. So he went after him through Treize." she answered.

"Shut up Noin." Zech's voice rose in warning, echoing throughout the throne room.

"At the last feast," she continued, glancing wearily at the tall, angry blonde to the side and just slightly behind her "it was apparent to all that the singer grew even more beautiful and desirous under Prince Heero's care. He looked so happy and confident. Zech's used this visual fact to entice Treize further into taking steps at acquiring the boy for himself. He hired someone to watch for the comings and goings of the Prince and his Four. We had heard it rumored of the illness sweeping the castle and city and decided to bide our time and not expose ourselves to the sickness. Then we learned the annual hunt was to proceed and the Heero and two of his Four would be joining it. We came to Bronwyn in darkness and lay low in the city biding our time. His spy informed us that Duo would stay behind with Trowa and a minimal staff in attendance at the castle." she paused to look at each of the royals before her. "Other than knocking the posted guards unconscious, you basically know the rest of the story up until the time I was sent back to help Zechs in the forest."

She took a deep shuddering breath to steel herself for the part of the story they had not been told, not even Une nor Treize had known the truth. "I rode back and found Zechs.....his pants were down and his loomed over the pale naked body beneath his own, .......taking the boy." she shook her head, trying to shake the horrific memory. "I stood back thinking he was near the end, afraid to interrupt as his anger is terrifying at times. But then he withdrew from the boy and leaning over, bit him on the backside, making him scream. He then entered him again for a few moments and then stopped once more to pick up a leather strap. He...hit Duo with it until he cried out. He began again." Noin's eyes held the same look of revulsion as she related what she had seen, as when she had watched the violence being perpetrated on the helpless boy beneath Zechs.

Her voice was soft and shaky as she continued. "Knowing I would pay for my interference, I hesitated, but the boy became so still and silent, and Zech's brutality seemed to grow, that I couldn't bear to stand by any longer. I unsheathed my sword and placed it against Zech's back and told him to stop. He paused for a moment, but I think that my watching him and holding the blade to his back heightened his pleasure and, with a learning grin on his face, he pounded into the boy until he came with a satisfied scream of his own. He then withdrew from the still, unmoving boy and stood to fasten his pants while looking at me with that smug smile on his face that I've always hated."

She stopped and swallowed with difficulty, not daring to look back at the people she was bonded to. "I looked away from him and down at the boy on the ground," Her voice cracked as she struggled with her emotions. "and saw fully what Zechs had done. I turned away from both of them to be violently sick." Another tear escaped the corner of her left eye and trickled down the side of her pale face.

"Zechs grabbed me roughly by my hair and pulled me up to look into his face and told me that if I told Treize or anyone else what I'd seen, he would kill my family and then do away with me in a most painful manner. He does not threaten lightly, Sire." she looked up with desperation etched into her face. "I have a mother and three younger sisters that would be helpless against his rage." she explained then bowed her head in shame. "I'm sorry, but I agreed only in order to protect my family. I covered the boy up with the blanket before we left, but in truth, I never thought he could survive." she ended, her voice barely a whisper.

Treize turned on his Heart with anger. "Why? I understand your wanting him, but to brutalize him so? Why?"

The tall blonde, who had lost none of his haughtiness, moved his hateful gaze from the dark haired woman who had betrayed him, to confront Treize's questions. A small satisfied grin formed on his face. "He wouldn't scream," he answered with an insouciant shrug. "and I wanted him to scream for me like he had for you. So I did what I had to in order to get him to scream."

Treize looked horrified at his Heart, sickened body and soul by the one person he had given his love to above all others and trusted with his heart. Now he found to his dismay and disgrace that Zechs had manipulated and used him to further his own gain at the expense of an innocent.

"Une." The King called forth the only one of Treize's Three who had not spoken, but stood by her bonded lord's side with her head hung low. "Is what we've heard from Treize true?"

"Yes, Sire." she answered quietly.

"And Noin's account?"

The tall young woman raised her head to answer her King. "This is the first I've heard of it, Sire. But I would trust Noin's word over Zechs. We both have learned the hard way that he can be cruel and ruthless in order to get his way." she added and then bowed her head waiting to learn her fate.

"Treize," the King look sadly at his nephew. "Zechs is under your protection, thus you are the one to meet the punishment equal to his crime. If you fail to meet out this punishment, I will have no choice but to punish you for your crime and his."

There was a tense quiet in the throne room as Treize contemplated his next decision. The King sat and waited patiently, fully aware of his son next to him silently raging, his anger radiating from him like the heat of a fire.

Treize raised his head and straightened his shoulders. "An apology will never suffice for what has been done and I submit myself to your judgement, uncle. However, in regards to Zechs,...." he paused and took in a deep breath, steeling himself for the words he would speak next. "I turn him over to Prince Heero to deal with him as he see fit, and relinquish my bond and protection that might have protected him from judgement."

"Treize." Zechs growled in warning. "You can't do this to me. I'm your Heart!"

The sandy haired young man looked up wearily, his face was filled with sadness as he spoke, for possibly the last time, to his First, his Heart. "With your actions, you've broken my heart, Zechs. I'm suddenly greatly relieved that I wasn't successful in bonding with the boy. As a replacement for Kellen, he would have been a fresh, new start for us all. But I can now see that you had plans contrary to mine, and would have abused the boy. I'm glad he's out of our reach."

Zechs stood viciously glaring at the man he'd pledged his life and heart to. No trace could be found of the feelings Treize thought were an intricate part of their lives, the love and respect that should have held them together as a unit.

"Heero." The King's voice brought everyone's attention back to the present. "Would you pass judgment on Treize's Heart?"

Heero nodded and exchanged a brief glance at his Three standing off to his side. Wufei nodded, and then the Prince turned to his father. "Father, I would give him a sword and have him face Wufei for judgment by my Hands."

The King gazed into the steadfast eyes of his only son, both knowing the outcome of such of fight. "Very well." he nodded his consent and turned to Wufei. "Wufei Chang, as the Prince's Hands are you willing to meet out Justice for your bonded Lord and his Fourth?" he asked formally.

Wufei bowed to the King. "Yes, Sire. I willingly take on the honor of being Prince Heero's Hands, to meet out justice for, not only he and his Heart, but also for the three of us who are greatly affected by the harm done to them, and to us. We are one in purpose and in brotherhood, a harm done to one is done to all."

"Very well." the King nodded, pleased with his son's First's reply. With a motion of his hand, several guards moved forward and ushered Treize and the two women to the side of the room to watch. The other persons in the room moved likewise move to place themselves against the wall to give space for the fight about to begin. The ropes binding Zech's wrists were removed, and a guard unsheathed his sword to hand it to the tall blonde man. Zechs took the weapon and practiced several sweeps to determine the weight and balance of it. He nodded, indicating it acceptable, then removed his cloak, which the guard took then moved away to a place of safety.

Turning, Treize's Heart faced the smaller, dark-eyed boy, his large, odd looking sword readied in his hand, his eyes intensely watching Zech's every move. Zechs had never seen the Prince's Hands fight before, but he had heard rumors and had seen him in his strange practice that was like a dance. He knew the rules. If he defeated Wufei, he would be allowed to walk free, though exiled. If he didn't, he would be dead. He didn't plan on losing.

Zechs brought his sword up in a sign of readiness. Wufei brought his own up in answer, raising it up by his shoulder at an odd angle, with the sharp tip pointing down, his knees bent as if to pounce. The tall blonde wondered at such a pose, but decided to take the lead and lunged fiercely at the boy. His first move was easily countered, and began a series of thrusts and strikes. After the sweat began to drip from his brow, t Zechs had the distinct feeling that he was being toyed with, maybe in an attempt to tire him out. He fought back with need, skill, and desperation fueled by determination. The clashing of swords continued as the two fighters moved from one side of the room to the other and back again.

Zechs roared in frustration as yet another teasing touch of Wufei's sword cut through his clothing and skin, not causing major damage, but at the same time letting him know who had the upper hand in this battle. The taller man attacked again, viciously trying to wound the boy who was quicker and more skilled than he could ever have imagined, a sneer of triumph appeared on his face as his nearly berserker moves succeeded in causing the smaller fighter to move backwards defensively. Then suddenly, Wufei's sword came up and his wrist twisted, sending Zechs' sword flying into the air with a spin before it clattered noisily to the floor. The larger man lunged onto the floor for the fallen blade, and when it was once again in his hands, he adeptly rolled and came to his feet, ready to attack again.

Wufei stood ready also. No matter what technique Zechs used, his smaller opponent countered it. Panic began to seep into Zechs' confidence. He was tiring as the fight continued on, much longer than he'd anticipated, and he began to realize he could not best the boy.

The observers of the fight, who were standing watchful from the perimeter of the room, were always quick to move from out of their path as the combatants approached. The sudden and constant shifting and quick movements of the two battling kept those on the throne room floor in a constant state of awareness, and ofttimes they jumped or scramble hurriedly to avoid the men and the arch of their swinging swords. Quatre and Trowa ended up a good distance from each other as they dodged the fighters, their eyes fastened on Wufei.

With sweat in his eyes and his breath coming in gasps, Zechs desperately looked for a way out. He knew he could not run for it as guards were placed at the doors, so he looked quickly for an alternative. His eyes lit for a slight moment on the smallest person in the room, Quatre, the perfect hostage. He would win his freedom a different way it seemed, and maybe even a bit of revenge. Having no other option available, he made his decision. Setting himself up, the tall blonde allowed Wufei to beat him back into the direction the boy was standing. During their fight, the smaller boy had obviously been separated from his taller companion and now stood alone and defenseless. His eyes darted quickly during the fight to make sure the small blonde had stayed in place, and angled himself once again in that direction to be within striking range.

Wufei's sword struck the taller man's blade held up defensively as he attempted a block his carefully aimed blows. Zechs was tiring, and, at times, the black-haired boy observed a look of panic in his opponents eyes. His own sharp eyes noticed his opponents darting glance and that he purposely backed away from his katana in the direction of Quatre. "There's no way." the Prince's Hands murmured beneath his breath and brought his sword up again with even more determination that when he started.

They battled furiously for another few moments when suddenly, Zechs lunged to his right towards the unsuspecting, but shocked-looking blonde boy.

on to part 18

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