For You I Suffer
"Be sure of this, young man. I will do all in my power to insure that my nephew parts from you at the end of your time here with his heart firmly in tact."
I gaped stupidly at her, the pronouncement having left me dumbfounded. And, though I would have been most pleased to find my understanding in error, her meaning was unmistakable. I felt my heartbeat stutter and my body went numb at Lady Une's emphatic declaration. She meant to keep my baron and I apart, save for, it seemed, in the most physical sense of the concept. Her brown eyes were cold as they dispassionately noted the distress that had emerged on my face.
Did she know how deeply her words had wounded me? Did she care? Since the moment of my arrival, the sole thought that weighed on my mind, the single prayer that burned in my heart, was that Heero would come to love me as I loved him. That, one day, he might hold me in such dear regard. I longed for my master to need me, to want me to such a desperate degree that he would never let me go. It was that fervent wish that enabled me to endure the humiliations and shame that were so gloriously heaped upon me day after day.
That Heero's nearest relation, the only person who conceivably held any sway over my lord, sought to deny me my heart's desire struck me to the core. There was no respite in her dark gaze. Nothing to comfort me that she was enjoying a harsh joke at my expense. The utter seriousness of her intent was plainly written there for me to see and I felt a great, stabbing pain, which threatened to steal my breath.
After untold moments, she released my chin. My legs, quivering at the sudden revelation of my pitiless enemy, quivered uncontrollably and were no longer able to bear me up. I sunk downward, falling to my knees in seeming obsequiousness as I tried to control the forceful pounding in my chest.
Why? I cried silently. My hands dug into the carpet, clutching and pulling futilely at the soft fibers. Why was I being thus tortured by this elegant noble woman? Lady Une moved away from my humbled form, brushing past the young doctor, who had reseated herself on the couch and was looking at me with curious regard.
"You have heard tell of my brother, the late baron?" she asked in unwitting answer to my unspoken plea. There was a pause, as though the lady expected me to answer. Head bowed in dejection, I nodded, unable to speak. She must have seen the gesture for she continued, turning her back to me and gazing into the fire.
"I loved my brother, make no mistake. But, he was a fool. He had no head for leadership, as his mind was often occupied by things of a more divertive nature." She rounded upon me, the movement betrayed by the gentle swish of her skirt. The sound bade me raise my eyes, though I wish I had refrained as she speared me with her hawkish gaze.
"Heero, to my immense satisfaction, is nothing at all like his father."
Unable to withstand her scrutiny, I looked down in defeat. She glided past me and a gentle breeze blew over my naked skin, affected by the sweep of her morning dress. I was nearly overcome with the urge to shudder, the sensation caressing my wayward flesh like a lover's touch. My eyes stung with the shame from the wantonness of my newly trained flesh.
"From the moment I first laid eyes on him, when he was naught more than an infant, I knew that my nephew was born to leadership. His would be a firm hand, and, under him, I hoped the rule of Hane would be conducted with the nobility that had been greatly wanting under my brother's tenure.
"Heero was a very steady child, swift in mind, strong in body. The quickness with which he grasped the myriad complexities of government often left his tutors speechless, astounded at his brilliance. The weapons masters charged with training him in the art of warfare could barely keep pace with his prodigious skill. And, when he was untimely thrust into his predestined role at such a tender age, he took to his station so competently that none, neither his allies nor enemies alike, dared question his authority."
How ironic it was, I thought, as I kneeled upon the floor, that the one person who instilled the most terror within my heart was the one person who truly understood the extraordinary man that I loved so unreservedly. Lady Une's affection and regard for her nephew was palpable in every word she spoke of him and, in another life, we might have been the greatest of friends, joined in our acknowledgement of my lord's inestimable worth. How sad that our shared regard was fated to pit her against me as my bitterest foe.
And, yet, though I knew her speech was meant to dissuade me from my hopeless adoration of my baron, her approbations perversely filled me with pride. It pleased me as much as it pained me to hear of Heero being spoken of with such unconcealed praise. Although I needed no reassurance as to the strength of the hand that guided me on my journey of self-discovery, I received it eagerly, nonetheless.
"Unlike his father," she continued, "in matters of the heart, my nephew has been most circumspect. As I'm sure you are well aware," she continued, shooting me a sly glance, "the handsomeness of his continence is without equal." I flushed in unspoken concurrence, drawing a tight smile from her lips. "And, there have been many a young lady who have thrown themselves at him, as well as those whom have been thrown. Yet, he has remained properly aloof, knowing that his first duty is the reestablishment of Calderash as a preeminent power in the country.
"The only time Heero caused me any concern was when my brother's last manzoku no dorei, his pleasure slave Penella, was brought to Windshire. She was beautiful, to be sure, but she was willful, never coming to accept the fact of her circumstances. My brother tried to tame her, to bend her and gentle her, and, though she eventually became the outward embodiment of perfection, he was never able to claim her. Instead, it was she who came to rule over him, securing his heart with every wayward defiance of his control.
"Heero was but fifteen years old, however, I could sense his untoward attraction for her."
Since the night of my presentation to the court, the name of my predecessor had become a beacon, a model which I strove to emulate. I had heard much of Penella, of her beauty and her grace, and had been impressed, wishing to follow her flawless example. Yet, now, I was hearing that my ideal had been less that perfect. Had, in fact, captured that very emotion in my master's heart which I would have given anything to know. Jealousy quickly eroded any reverence I had felt towards her and my sorrow was briefly comforted by the suggestion of my forbearer's fault.
"To Penella's credit," Lady Une went on, "she never encouraged him in his affections, being more than occupied by her perceived misery. But, he pined for her with a boy's lust, only his animosity for his father, his desire to be as different from his parent as possible, staying his pursuit of her. And, when she died and my brother followed her to the grave, his heart crushed with grief that he had lost the love he'd never truly possessed, I thought that Heero understood the folly of allowing himself to be ambushed by such a tenuous emotion as desire."
She looked down upon my bent head, the burning fierceness of her gaze transmitting her wish that I might be destroyed in the conflagration. I dared only the briefest of glances and saw the sudden tension that stiffened her stately bearing.
"So," she gritted through clenched teeth, "you may appreciate my consternation when I found you arriving on our very doorstep. Rough hewn you were, and yet, your appeal was undeniable. I'd suspected that something had happened to Heero during his tour of Calderash after taking over the baronetcy, but I could not have guessed the truth. I tried to rationalize his decision to take on a dorei, that, as baron, it was his right. His decision to limit your tenure to mere months rather than years as was custom seemed, to me, to be a most responsible choice. He has been, thus far, correct in his treatment of you, giving Quatre control over your immediate care, dealing with you only when it does not interfere with his duties. And, yet, I recall with dismay his expectant distraction when he told me of his plans to bring you here. I have watched you very closely since your arrival and have become concerned that the abject worship that shines in your eyes whenever you look upon him may come to infect him."
I gasped at her words, somewhat ashamed that I had made my feelings so evident. At the same time, however, I experienced a bright shard of hope at her unintended revelation. My baron had brought me here against his aunt's wishes. Was it possible that he had felt even a sliver of the wonder I'd experienced upon our first meeting? Joy bloomed within me, sharp with bittersweet impossibility. If only it were true, that there was the slightest chance that I could win my master's heart, I would be utterly content. But, before I could become lost in my fanciful musings, the tip of a satiny slipper caught the underside of my chin, lifting my head and forcing me to look into Lady Une's handsome visage. There I could see anger mixed with worry. But, above all, there was resolute purpose.
"Heero is meant for greatness," she said, pinning me to the floor with a direct stare. "I will not see him suffer the same fate as his father, brought low by nothing more than a pretty face."
The joy I'd felt was abruptly dashed, replaced by an emotion akin to abject despair. Any claim I had ever hoped to make on my lord's heart was clearly doomed to failure. For this lioness of a woman was determined to keep my importance in his affections at the lowest possible degree. I could not halt the sob, which escaped from my lips despite my efforts to repress it. And, just as I had no victory over the weeping in my soul, I failed to arrest the single tear that traced its way slowly down my cheek.
Lady Une readily discerned my misery. She lowered her foot and bent towards me. A bewilderingly gentle finger captured the betraying bead of sorrow before brushing across my flushed cheek. Taking hold of my chin, she prevented me from looking away, and I was confronted with a soft smile, which made only the merest of impact on the austerity of her brown gaze.
"Do not think me cruel. For I also have your best interests at heart. Tell me, would it be kinder for you to leave from here and return to your former life with my nephew naught more than a pleasant memory? Or, as I can read in your eyes, would you wish to pine for him for the rest of your days, doomed to heartache and loneliness? For, I assure you, your promotion to nobility notwithstanding, once you leave, you will not return."
Never to return. To be forever deprived of my master's intoxicating presence. It was the fear that haunted my ever waking moment, my proscribed day of respite looming darkly on the horizon. For, what would be the point of life if it meant never again seeing the deep blue of his eyes, hearing the commanding softness of his voice, feeling the touch which lit me afire? Though it had been mere days since my arrival, I had quickly come to the realization that my simple life before meeting Heero had been meaningless, filled with trivial worries and petty concerns. To return to that bleak place, now that I knew of his existence, now that I was aware of what he meant to me, was unthinkable. And, yet, what could I do? What command did I have over my fate? The answer awaited me in Lady's Une's dark gaze. None. Powerlessness was my only companion and it was the bitterest of friends.
"It is not as though I will encourage him to forsake you entirely," she went on, uncaring of my anguish. I shivered, the loss of hope leaving me chilled. I closed my eyes, no longer able to bear her regard, my tremors increasing as she again stroked the side of my face. Her tone had lost its sternness and addressed me with kindly concern. I was not in the least reassured, and became only less so as she continued to relate her aims.
"No, I shall simply remind him of the proper deportment of a master towards his slave. You see, a master should remain aloof and unattainable. How else can the servant reach a state of perfect submission? To know reassurance and comfort is to become lazy in one's captivity, and that would be unworthy of such a magnificent specimen as you, my lad." I struggled to disguise the horror which I was certain shone in my eyes as her thin lips turned up into a sincere smile.
"Your purpose is to be a reflection of your lord, a tangible manifestation of his authority and triumph. I will simply advocate that he give you a more public role. It would not do for him to horde you jealously to himself. When he allows you to be displayed for the pleasure of others, he demonstrates his benevolence. And, when he bestows you upon others as reward or boon, he proves that he is gracious. Indeed, Duo, you may come to appreciate your importance, something that should not be tainted by such vagaries as human emotion."
The elucidation resonated in my heart, striking at my greatest terror. To be shared with others. To be passed around like an admired toy. Although I had heard the tenet time and again, I had stubbornly refused to internalize the notion. I simply could not accept the loathsome precept that I might be bequeathed to others as naught more than a pretty bauble. Surely, I'd reasoned, Heero would not wish to part with me so casually. But, I was clearly deluding myself. Reaffirmation had come, yet again, from this most reliable of sources and my stubborn denial crumbled further under the blow.
"My dear boy," she said, smiling in the face of my desolation, "I would wish for you to set an old woman at ease. You seem a most respectable young man, a credit to your parents, I am sure. I know that I can count on you to do your duty and bring no shame upon my nephew."
The surety with which she spoke, the certainty in her gaze granted me no respite. I could find no counter, though my heart raged against her edict. Fortunately, she seemed to take my tears as a sign of my acquiescence, for she released me and left me to my suffering.
Lady Une had no further words for me. I was resigned to kneeling beside her upon the floor as she took her seat upon the couch next to Lady Sally. They chatted pleasantly of inconsequential matters, ignoring me save for fond hands, which occasionally patted my head.
After some time had passed in this manner, a knock sounded upon the door. It opened at Lady Une's command admitting the dearly longed for sight of my trainer. Never before had I been so relieved to see Quatre as I was at that moment. The sentiment was so intense that it manifested in a physical manner, stirring my flesh anew and easing the deflating effects of Lady Une's revelations. Though my actions could easily have been seen as a snub, I ducked away from Lady Une and raced on hands and knees to his side, bending low and placing my cheek upon his boot. My turgid cock fell heavily against my thigh, as though it, too, was happy to be reunited with the slight blonde.
"Good afternoon, pretty one," he greeted me, the warm benevolence of his tone sweeping over like a healing salve. How I longed to be gone from this place, this homey setting, which had witnessed the moments of my deepest anguish. Suddenly afraid that Quatre had not, in fact, come to save me, but would leave me there and continue on his way, my hands stole around his ankle, clasping it as securely as I dared. He looked down at me with a fond smile, reaching down and pulling me up on my knees by my chain. His hold on my tether was a sure sign of our eminent departure and reassured me as nothing else could have done. I returned his gaze, uncaring that my relief at his presence was clearly emblazoned across my features.
"Quatre, you have certainly done an excellent job with him thus far," Lady Une congratulated. "I expected nothing less from you. You father was a most accomplished trainer." He was all smiles as he bowed towards her in gratitude for her approbation.
"My most sincere thanks, my lady," he replied. "But, I must confess, Duo has made my job quite simple; a pleasure more than a duty. The baron is to be commended on his choice."
"Indeed," was the extent of her comment. The weight of her gaze fell upon me, but I brazenly failed to acknowledge it, preferring, instead, to nuzzle the hand that was dotingly caressing my cheek. I attempted to tactilely communicate my wishes to be gone from Lady Une's presence. Whether I was, in fact, successful, I cannot say. However, Quatre made our excuses directly and I was soon feeling the much missed sensation of cold stone beneath my bare feet.
"Did you have a nice time with Lady Une, Duo?" Quatre asked. I dipped my head noncommittally, my mind shying away from any other thought than the desire to return to the sanctuary of Heero's chamber. I most definitely did not wish to relive the last few hours I'd spent with the baron's aunt, having my soul ripped painfully to shreds. So determined was I to eschew all attempts at reflection, that I did not immediately notice that our path was not taking us to my master's abode. Quatre was still chatting, but I had not been listening, preferring to let the cheerful sound simply soothe my jangled nerves. Clearly, I should have been paying attention and I sought to rectify the oversight.
"My lord," I began, "where are we going?"
"Hmm? Oh, I thought I said." Quatre grinned at me, an expression which never failed to cause a knot to germinate firmly in my stomach. This instance was no exception and the tightness grew into a heavy stone as he repeated his explanation.
"The talks with Slaburry have finally come to a mutually beneficial conclusion. As I understand it, the treaty was signed with nearly all of Heero's terms left in tact. Quite an accomplishment, I dare say, considering how obstinate the delegates from Slaburry were being over the matter. However, it seems that though they finally understand that the baron is not to be trifled with and that Calderash's new ruler is made of sterner stuff than his predecessor. No disrespect to the late baron," Quatre hedged, "but, he was not the most commanding of men. Heero is of quite a different metal."
So I've been told, I thought. I felt as though I could listen to my master being praised for hours on end without growing weary, however, at this moment, I had more immediate concerns which needed to be addressed.
"Are we going to see him?" I questioned, hoping to learn of our destination. Quatre nodded, filling me with elation. For a few, blessed moments, my step felt lighter and my heart beat faster, the knowledge that I would soon be seeing my master again making me buoyant with joyous anticipation. But, as fond as I was of my handler, sometimes I was certain that his sole purpose in life was to dash all of my hopes on the bitter shards of reality. With his next words, he did just that, crushing them further beneath his sprightly step.
"Heero has ordered that a banquet be held in commemoration of this historic and momentous occasion. The entire court is to be invited and Heero asked me to prepare something special for the entertainment. I had something in mind that I've been wanting to try, and, I believe it will be just the thing."
Entertainment? I stared askance at the back of his golden head. I had finally relinquished my deliberate ignorance of my situation and was neither fooled nor mollified by his obliqueness. He meant me, of course. My only conjecture as the stone in my gut turned into a hard ball of ice was just what delicious form my latest torment would assume.