For You I Suffer
With the return of calm came a sense of self-disgust. Since when had I become such a weepy caricature of my former self? I knew that my reaction was in no way inordinate; surely someone who faced almost certain death as I had just done was entitled to a few tears. I was also aware that the emotional trauma of the past few days had driven my resistance to further stress to its absolute nadir. Still, I was ashamed at my behavior. I reached up to wipe the wetness from my face and pushed away from the warm security of Trowa’s powerful chest. He let me move away but kept a hold of my arms as he looked at me careful, his emerald gaze tracing over the remaining traces of tears and the red puffiness of my eyes and nose.
"Are you sure you are alright?" I nodded and moved out of his reach, standing to confirm that I had indeed regained my self-possession. He stood to join me, his gaze fixed on me even as I looked down warily at the motionless wolf.
"Don’t worry, Duo. I will take care of it, but right now, let me take you back to the cottage. I think you could use a stiff drink."
I was very tempted to take him up on his offer. I could feel small tremors of lingering shock running up and down my spine, radiating through my arms and legs. My heart beat heavily in my chest as it struggled to return to a more normal pace. But as I looked down at the sleeping beast, I realized that, in truth, there was no evil in the animal. It was nothing more than a poor creature in terrible pain. It deserved my pity, not my censure.
"C-can you help it?" I asked glancing up at the gamesman. "Is there anything to be done for it?" Trowa’s eyes widened in astonishment and then suddenly warmed to the lush shade of newly grown grass. He smiled at me with no hint of smugness in the gesture. I marveled anew at his handsomeness as his face was transformed by the pleased expression. He moved to kneel beside the drugged wolf, his movements cautious in case the animal should shake off the tranquilizer sooner than expected. He looked at the jagged cut, the slash made a hideous with infection. As he prodded it gently, an odorous, yellow-green pus oozed from the wound. The flesh around the injury was angry and red. Trowa placed his palm flat against the surrounding skin and frowned as he felt the heat emanating from the area.
"This wound is severely infected. I am not sure what inflicted it. Perhaps he was overly ambitious in trying to hunt dangerous prey, or perhaps he was attacked by another wolf. He’s alone, which means he was likely ousted from his pack." Trowa examined the injury minutely before nodding as he came to some decision. "If the creature was strong enough to threaten you, then its wound might not be too old, and it might not be too late to save it." He stood and wiped his hands against the front of his leggings.
"Quickly, go to the stable and fetch a wheelbarrow. I cannot treat him here." Trowa did not look at me, his attention fixed purposefully upon his new patient. I ran to fulfill his request, my legs finding strength in my determination to see the animal properly cared for. I found the wheelbarrow near the ladder leading to the hay loft and swiftly appropriated it. I returned to Trowa’s side as fast as I could, the well-oiled conveyance easily keeping pace. Together, we lifted the heavy beast, staggering beneath its weight. We managed to lay it gently in the bucket of the wheelbarrow, breathing hard with the effort.
"I will treat him in the workshed. It is a smaller space and it will be easier to confine him there once he wakes. Go there now and light the brazier. I will need fire and clean strips of cloth."
I raced ahead while Trowa followed more slowly, pushing the wheelbarrow with care so as not to overly jar its occupant. I found and lit the brazier, pilling the small oven high with coals so that the blaze might heat as quickly as possible. Several relatively clean rags lay on one of the workbenches. I grabbed them as well as a medium-sized cauldron that I saw lying near the brazier. I passed Trowa as I rushed from the shed toward the pump standing near the well in the yard. He nodded in approval as he saw what I carried and where I was headed. By the time I returned to the workshed - the rags now immersed in the water I had pumped into the cauldron - Trowa had maneuvered the wheelbarrow as close to the brazier as he dared.
We worked together with easy efficiency. I had doctored a few farm animals in my day and understood what was required to treat the wolf with little instruction. Trowa’s orders were terse and to the point, and soon we had the wolf laying on a straw pallet and the cauldron sitting atop the grate covering the brazier. The gamesman muzzled the wolf with a sturdy length of rope and created a makeshift leash, one end of which he tied loosely around the wolf’s neck and the other more securely around a nearby support beam. Once the water had come to a boil, Trowa used a pair of wooden tongs to remove a rag from the scalding water. I passed him one of my borrowed gloves so that he might handle the cloth without burning himself. He cleaned the wound thoroughly, keeping one eye on what he was doing and the other on his still sleeping patient. A handful of tipped darts lay next to his leg, ready to grab should the wolf show signs of waking.
The wolf flinched slightly when the rag first touched his damaged skin, but otherwise remained still. The gameskeeper was, indeed, skilled at his profession and knew well the proper dose of tranquilizer needed to keep the beast safely unconscious. Once the wound was as clean as Trowa could manage to get it using only hot water, he reached for a knife stuck in his waistband. I narrowed my eyes in sympathy for the wolf as Trowa stuck the blade in the braizer’s fire, letting the flames run over the length of the sharp metal until it glow a dull red. I knew that the heat would finish the job of clearing the infection from the wound, as well as precluding the need for stitches. Still, I stared with horrified fascination at the burning blade as Trowa removed it from the fire. He dipped it in the boiling water for a brief moment, causing steam to rise from the cauldron, before turning to look at me with a level gaze.
"Hold him," he said. I took a deep breath and decided the best way to keep the beast motionless would be to lie across him so that I might bring all my weight and strength to bear. Once I had braced myself as well as I could, I looked up at the gamesman and nodded. Trowa did not hesitate as he set the heated metal against the wolf’s wound. I winced at the sound of sizzling flesh and my nose twitched at the smell of burning meat.
The wolf instantly came to, howling with pain and straining against my hold. The restraint held securely about his muzzle, and though the shed itself creaked as the beast pulled against his tether, he remained trapped. I felt my entire body lift from the ground as the creature heaved and shuddered beneath me. The sounds of growling and whining were pitiful indeed, but Trowa did not shrink from his task. He ran the blade along the length of the gash, his sure movements betraying his competency at doctoring ailing creatures of all kinds. He worked as quickly as possible so as not to prolong the beast’s misery, and soon the worst was over. He used two darts to administer a humane dose of tranquilizer and soon the wolf was unconscious once more.
"There," he announced, his breath slightly ragged from exertion. He examined the wound once more and pronounced himself satisfied that he had done all he could. "The infection has been killed, at least what remained in the leg itself. I am sure that some of it began to spread through his body; how much depends on how old the wound is. Now it is up to him as to how much he desires to survive."
I stared at the handsome gamesman, stunned at his skill and compassion. It would have been so simple for him to declare the beast beyond saving and to kill it for its own sake. But instead he had responded to my naďve request and had pulled the creature back from the brink of certain death. My heart swelled with gratitude and a more tender emotion that I dared not explore. I struggled to articulate my thanks, unable to adequately express how grateful I was for sparing the wolf’s life.
"My lord," I began, uncaring that the appellation was inappropriate. Truly this man was far nobler than any of the fops who flounced around Windshire wasting their days in trivial pursuits. I was unable to find the words to fully reveal my thoughts. Covered with streaks of gore and sweat, Trowa stared at me for a long moment, watching as I fought my inarticulateness. He did not speak, but suddenly, I found myself in his arms. They formed a band of unbreakable iron around me as his lips seized my own.
The force of his passion was so powerful it pulled me under, so hot it burned. My heart shouted, berating me for succumbing to this madness, to this betrayal, but it reached me as nothing more than a whisper. My hands grasped at his broad shoulders despite themselves, and my body strained to feel the long leanness of his. Trowa was more than helpful in this endeavor, holding me so closely that I am sure not even the wind could have passed between us. His tongue demanded entrance and I gave it, moaning as the probing firmness swept into my mouth. My manhood rose to hardness within its leather confinement and a firmness against my thigh informed me that the gamesman suffered likewise.
I know not how long we remained entwined, the sleeping beast lying unaware at our feet. No thought took root in my beset mind save for how wonderful it was to feel such unbridled affection after such a long drought of loneliness. For Trowa made no secret of his feelings. Though he spoke nary a word, his hands moved over me with fervent intent, determined to leave no part unexplored. His hands caressed my back, grabbed hold of my ass, buried themselves in my hair even as his tongue proved its domination of my mouth.
And I showed no more restraint in returning his embrace. His perfect form begged to be explored and my hands proved more than willing. Though less bold than he, I touched every inch of his back that I could reach and fulfilled a secret wish by fully brushing his hair back from his face. Thus, when Quatre’s voice suddenly broke into our absorption, the first thing I saw as my eyes flew open in surprise was the full extent Trowa’s equally startled gaze looking back at me.
We froze, our hearts pounding before the realization that we had not, in fact, been discovered became apparent. I gasped and shoved away from him, unwilling in my mortification to be phased by the slight hurt that shadowed his eyes. I could not believe what I had done, what I might yet have allowed had not my trainer intervened. I stared at the gamesman, my chest tightening unaccountably as I watched his expression become devoid of emotion. Only the finger that he reached out to caress the hectic flush I could feel warming my cheeks bore witness to the existence of his desire. He took a deep breath and let his hand fall to his side to absently smooth his tunic, which my eager hands had set askew. My blush strengthened at the evidence of the extent temporary derangement. He smiled at me humorlessly before turning away.
"Get undressed and meet us in the yard." With that I was alone save for the insensible wolf. As I began to shed my garments, I felt as thought I was shedding off the layers of a dream. If not for the wolf lying there so still, fighting for its life, I would have been convinced that the recent happenings were nothing more than the product of my imagination.
I quickly removed the borrowed clothing, unreasonably blaming them for my lapse of sense. I had been feeling too much like my own man ever since donning them. I had been feeling powerful and in control after helping save the wolf. There could be no other explanation. As the warm afternoon air hit my naked skin, the reality of my position returned to me in a rush. How could I have allowed another’s hands to touch me without my master’s permission? How could I have actually craved a touch that was not Heero’s?
But the delusion did not long hold sway. I was not so foolish as to assume that my feelings for the handsome gamesman were not genuine. I admired both his figure and his heart in nearly equal measure. And therein lay the rub. If it had been a mere physical attraction, I could have more easily resisted it. But truly there was much to like about Trowa, and knowing that I held some esteem in his estimation was proving an addictive proposition.
I sighed heavily as I replaced my boots, having removed them so as to take of the leggings. A quick swipe with the one remaining rags, now greatly cooled, rid me of the sweat on my brow and the streaks of the wolf’s blood that speckled my hands. I took another moment to collect myself, knowing that though Trowa might easily fool Quatre with his reserved nature I would have no such defense. I knelt down by the sleeping beast, smiling as I stroked the dense fur covering his side and marveling at the incongruent roughness and silkiness of his pelt. I could just feel the movement of his lungs and was satisfied that he still lived.
"Not so fearsome now, are you boy?" With a final pat I resolved to stall no longer. The sun was noticeably lower in the sky and I squinted at the orange brightness typical of late afternoon. Trowa was talking to Quatre, and from the latter’s growing pallor and terrified expression, I guessed that the gameskeeper was relating the details of my harrowing adventure. The slight blond rushed over to me as I came into view, practically falling into my arms as he tripped over his own feet in his haste to reach me.
"Duo!" he shouted though he stood mere inches from me. "Duo, my gracious, are you alright? Please, tell me that you are alright!" He ran his hands over me as though searching for any hidden injuries.
"I swear, I am unharmed," I reassured him. Clearly he did not trust my word in the matter for the examination continued until very little of me had been left unexplored. Finally, my trainer was satisfied, and the first tears fell as he gathered me up with a relieved hug.
"My god, when Trowa told me that you had been attacked, and by a wolf! I thought my heart would stop!" He sniffed, face turning blotchy as continued to cry. I smiled down at him and gently wiped the tears away from his pale cheeks.
"I promise you, I escaped unscathed. Thanks to Trowa, that is." I glanced toward the gamesman, manfully tamping down the flush that tried to take root on my face. I felt my nakedness anew as I had not even with Quatre’s hands all over me. Trowa’s gaze was nonchalant, but it burned me all the same. I gladly looked away from him as Quatre took my face in his slender hands.
"Thank heavens you are safe, pretty one. I love you so much that I am sure I would never recover if something were to happen to you." The words were spoken without artifice and the genuine simplicity of the declaration of his affection warmed my heart. I laughed softly as he beamed at me, bowing my head in embarrassment at his effulgent joy.
"Then I shall take great care to safeguard my person. I would never wish you ill, my lord."
Several more hugs and fond pats to my head later, Quatre deemed us ready to depart. He asked Trowa for further use of his borrowed mount to return us to Windshire, but I assured him that I was quite capable of bearing us back in the same manner in which we had arrived. It took a few moments to convince my trainer of my sincerity, but eventually he was satisfied. I ignored Trowa as best as I could as he strapped me into my harness, though it was most difficult as his hands lingered overlong at several inconvenient places. I could feel my cock firm even further at his touch and was glad that Quatre was so used to seeing me in such a state that he did not think to comment on my evident arousal. Quatre heartily wished the gameskeeper a good evening and promised that he would related Trowa’s good deeds to the baron. Soon we were on our way, rushing home as quickly as I could bear us hence. The blond urged me to tell him everything that had happened in my own words, marveling and fretting anew as I related first how Trowa had saved me and then how he had saved the wolf.
"He is truly a treasure. His father was gameskeeper here before him, of course, but he was not half so skilled," Quatre gushed. "Trowa has a talent with animals that is almost mystical. At any rate, I am very glad that he reached you before you could be harmed." I felt his delicate shiver even though only my traces connected me to the cart. Talking about my erstwhile attacker brought another concern to mind and I voiced it hopefully.
"My lord, would it be possible for me to return to the gamesman’s cottage regularly while he nurses the wolf back to health? I would feel neglectful if I was unable to satisfy myself as to its full recovery." I tried to tell myself that it was the helpless creature in Trowa’s workshed and not the comely gameskeeper, himself, that commanded my continued interest. Quatre was silent for a moment, but eventually responded to my request.
"Hmm. Well, I admit I am a bit reluctant to have you return there." Swift panic made my breath catch in my throat and I stumbled despite myself before he continued. "I would be most distress if you were to find yourself in danger again." I shook my head at my own nonsense as my lungs renewed their work. Of course, it was my well-being to which he referred. Clearly there was no way he could know what had passed between Trowa and myself moments before his arrival.
"I will use the utmost caution, my lord. And the gamesman will be there if I should require any assistance. I confess, I have no desire to put myself back at the mercy of the forest. I plan to keep to the workshed where the wolf is being held as much as possible."
"Then, I supposed that will be fine," Quatre agreed. "Unfortunately, I am unsure when Heero will be free of his work long enough to spend much time with you." He exhaled in evident frustration. "To be honest, I am not sure what has come over him. He was ever the diligent administrator, but surely he need not bury himself in his duties all the time. It is most disrespectful of you."
Disrespectful of me? One corner of my mouth quirked up ruefully at the ridiculous notion even as sadness clutched at my heart. Though I was pleased at the evidence of Quatre’s partiality toward me, I told myself that he was greatly mistaken in his assumptions about the relationship between my master and myself. Not that you could call what was between us a relationship by any stretch of meaning.
I was distressed at the news that I would remain deprived of my master’s company, but I was not truly surprised. Heero had made his feelings toward me quite evident by his absence this morning and his refusal to even allow me to simply lay at his feet in supplication. For though I asked no more of him, even that humiliation was apparently too demanding. Resignation slowed the pace of my feet as I pulled us onward. At least I had the recuperation of the wolf to look forward to. At least something in this world might find my existence more than a chore.