For You I Suffer
I sat as still and quietly as I could while Helen fussed over me, fearing that if I moved in any way, I might fly apart. In contrast to the finery I had donned for my night with Treize, Helen strove for simplicity in my adornments, musing that anything fancier would be wasted on common fighting men. She set my hair atop my head in tight coils which would withstand more vigorous activity, and I tried not to think about what form such exercise might take. She affixed my nipple clamps and cock ring per the usual, but refrained from placing any bobs in my ears. My face she altered with subtle color, enhancing the hue of my eyes and giving the appearance of life to my pallid cheeks.
As she worked, she chatted about a variety of inconsequential matters: the state of her tiny garden, the love-struck mooning of her youngest daughter, the imminent birth of yet another grandchild. I tried my best to ignore her and everything else, desperately pretending that what was to occur that night was nothing more than a bad joke being played at my expense.
I struggled mightily to bury the agony that threatened to crush my heart. Yet again, I thought that I had finally come to truly understand my place, to comprehend my purpose. But no matter how strictly I told myself that my only goal in life was to bow to my master's every whim, it seemed such efforts would ever be for naught. With every torment I endured, I grew ever more certain I would never be able to accept being nothing more than a plaything for him to admire at will and then to toss away as a young child does with a pretty toy he favors one day and is bored with the next.
I could no longer deny that I had been a fool to ever believe that my master might come to feel for me that tender possessiveness that suffused my entire being at the very thought of him. "Never again," he had sworn after banishing the vile ambassador from his country and his sight, and I had been so desperate to put my own interpretation to his words that I had been blind to the truth. I had hoped that Heero's vow meant that never again would I be given away as some mere trinket, that never again would I be shared with anyone else but my beloved lord. But now, the shroud of self-delusion had been forever ripped away.
The baron had come to me last night as had become his custom, and I accepted him with all the helpless passion that he demanded. But for the first time, some small piece of my heart remained closed to him, had grown cold with the knowledge that I was to be tossed like some choice cut of meat to wolves far more vile that the beasts that lurked in the depths of the forest. "Never again," Heero had sworn, and now I was forced to acknowledge the true meaning of those words. Even as I cried out my master's name into the velvet darkness, I died a little at the import of Heero's promise. Never again, he had pledged, would he give in to any tender sentiment he might yet hold for me. Rather, my position as a mere slave was to be fixed indelibly in the eyes of the all of Windshire, as well as in his own heart.
I made my own pledge that night, as my master fell asleep in my arms, insensible to my agony. I held back my tears though they would be revealed to none but myself. I swore that no one, especially my master, would ever know the true depths of my pain. If I had anything left of my pride it was that, and I would guard it jealously lest I be left with nothing.
Quatre arrived just as Helen finished her work. He looked me over carefully, a bright smile plastered on his face as he pronounced me more beautiful than ever and paid homage to Helen's skill. His good humor and Helen's overly hearty reply were forced and I felt no need to respond in kind. I was utterly sick of being called beautiful. Only once had the appellation brought me any fortune, and now even the memory of Heero's declaration that the quality had brought me to his notice and into his service was a source of pain. Neither Helen nor my trainer attempt to elicit any response from me, and I was most grateful, for I could offer none. I wanted nothing more than for this horrible night to be over though it had not yet even begun.
I remained just as unresponsive on the ride into the village. Quatre had secured a horse and we rode double as he declared it would not due to overtax me. I had done nothing that day beside laze about in the baron's suite, battling with my stomach as anxiety over the forthcoming ordeal beset me with nerves. In the end, eating had proved beyond my capacity, so though I had barely moved a muscle that day, stress and lack of food had left me on the brink of exhaustion. My trainer sat before me on the horse, our relative heights making this the most sensible arrangement, and I gratefully leaned against his narrow shoulder as he directed our mount toward the sight of my coming humiliation.
The sun had set, the advanced summer having shortened the days. Quatre had decided that I should not be presented before night had fallen, ostensibly to lessen the time that I would be required to serve my coarse hosts. The land was dark but I cared not, for I kept my eyes closed, attempting to rest and lend aid to the illusion that I was not being summarily led to slaughter. Our route was familiar as I had traversed it many times on my own two feet as I bore my trainer about in his special carriage. As such, I knew precisely where we were headed, and in my mind's eye, the village's largest inn loomed in my thoughts even as I felt the horse turn off the main road toward that suddenly imposing edifice.
I would have gladly kept my eyes shut against the world until I was safely returned to the castle, but when Quatre stopped and I felt him dismount, they opened despite my wishes. The inn looked the same as it always did, though this was my first time seeing it at night. The Golden Swan was a modest establishment by the measure of such magnificent cities as Pholan, but for the village it was quite respectable. It sat overlooking the town's main square, across from the row of shops which had witnessed my first mortifying experience at the hands of the village's common folk.
I did not allow my gaze to stray in the direction of the stores, knowing that I could not deal with that memory on top of the horrid anticipation that gnawed at my gut. Instead, I looked over the site of my impending disgrace, trying but failing to feign any interest in the locale. The building was solidly made of pale stones save the tiled and tarred roof, which insured that the inside would remain warm and dry through any extremes of weather. The doors and windows were outlined with a decorative arrangement of stones painted to resemble gold and an image of the inn's namesake spread its wings and stretched out its long, gilded neck on a sign overhanging the door. I watched the placard sway back and forth in the pleasant, evening breeze as the door to the inn opened and a lone figure stepped out into the darkness.
The man looked to be about my height and was slightly built, though his posture and graceful stride hinted at carefully leashed power. The sounds of merriment and the gruff rumble of numerous male voices drifted through the open door. I willfully disregard the sound of rough laughter as I strove to gain a clear view of the man's face in the dim light from the two lanterns that hung to either side of the door.
"Lord Quatre, a pleasure as always." The figure bowed and a cautious thread of curiosity rose within me at the slight though unmistakable accent that marked the man's authoritative though not unpleasant voice.
"Captain Wufei," Quatre replied as he pulled our horse to a halt so we might dismount, "a good evening to you, as well." The man's features resolved themselves as we neared, the meager light from the lanterns finally offering sufficient illumination of this unknown soldier who was to soon hold mastery over me. My first impressions were of a direct, dark gaze that held no hint of color beyond the deepest black and a shockingly young, devastatingly handsome face that rivaled even my baron's in comeliness. His hair, as singularly black as his gaze, was pulled back neatly into a short queue at the base of his skull. His costume was similarly austere and simple, black leggings and black boots encasing his long legs and his feet, respectively. A dark brown jerkin of practical, military cut bared the wiry muscles of his arms and shoulders and provided the only hint of color in his attire. There was some small similarity in the turn of his eyes and the slant of his cheekbones that made me wonder if he shared my master's foreign ancestry, but my scope of knowledge was too limited to say for certain.
I did not call attention to myself besides that which was necessarily garnered by my nakedness, yet the man's gaze suddenly fixed on me as though I had called out to him. His black eyes seemed to burn with some inner fire and I felt a wave of heat reach across the distance to singe my bared skin. My meager courage fled and I looked down toward the hard-packed dirt of the inn's courtyard, unable to withstand the man's sharp regard. My trainer moved forward and took the soldier's hand in greeting.
"Captain, I trust you understand the honor being afforded to you." The blond glanced over his shoulder at me, his aquamarine gaze shadowed with concern. "I am entrusting you with the baron's greatest treasure, and mine, as well." He studied me for a long moment, turning back toward the young soldier only after I refused to meet his gaze. Beneath my lashes, I saw the other man incline his head in acknowledgment of the charge.
"Do not fear, my lord. You may be sure that neither I nor my men will betray your faith." His speech was much more formal that I was expecting from a fighting man, even if he was ostensibly in charge. I looked up at him from beneath my lashes only to find that his focus had not wavered in the slightest. His gaze raked over me, full of carefully muted anticipation and hot promise. My breath caught in my throat and I looked away once more as my body reacted with embarrassing predictability to the erotic challenge. I shifted as my treacherous cock began to fill with blood and my trainer turned toward me as the movement caught his attention. Quatre moved until he stood before me and lifted my chin with his hand until I was forced to meet his worried gaze.
"Duo," he began softly so that Wufei could not hear, "I am conflicted about leaving you here. I know that the baron has commanded that you be presented to his soldiers as a reward for their exemplary service. The captain is an honorable man, and I know that I should have no concern for your safety while you are under his care. But once before I did not voice my trepidation when you were thus offered, and I will forever regret it." The memory of my wretchedness when he had finally retrieved me my night with the Slaburry ambassador haunted him still. "So, please be honest with me now." His brow furrowed as his features stiffened with uncharacteristic seriousness. "If you do not wish to be here, if you honestly do not want to do this, then I will take you back to the castle and deal with whatever punishment the baron may mete out for my disobedience."
How cruel he was to place such temptation before me. I knew that his offer was utterly sincere, that if I but asked it, he would defy the baron for my sake with little thought to what the consequences might be for himself. In that moment, I loved the slight blond so much I thought my heart would burst. How nice it would have been if it were he that I loved and none other. If it were so, I knew that anxiety and doubt would never plague me, for he would never fail to let me know the exact bent of his feelings. But alas, it was not the kind blond who held my heart in his powerful grip. No, that honor belonged to one whose mission in life seemed to be to cause me the greatest amount of torment he could bestow.
But I was being unfair to Heero. It was not he who had filled my head with dreams of romance and false promises of love. That honor belonged solely to my own foolishness. I had agreed to become Heero's manzoku, to become his slave, and it was no one's fault but mine if I yearned for that which was never to be. I smiled at my trainer in what I hoped was a reassuring manner, praying that the slight tremor in my lower lip did not betray me.
"My lord, you need not fear for me." I was fairly certain that I spoke the truth. Yes, I was anxious about what the night would hold, but my nervousness did not begin to approach the abject horror that seized my lungs whenever I thought of the Slaburry ambassador. Treize had been motivated by nothing less than the basest evil, and he had unleashed his depravity upon me without hesitation. As I glanced surreptitiously over Quatre's shoulder at the dark, young captain, I felt only the hesitation of uncertainty. The only undercurrent I sensed from him was that which caused my heart to beat faster and my wayward manhood to swell with an altogether different sense of expectation. I met my trainer's concerned gaze as directly as I could. "I will do my duty without regret," I murmured, my voice as steady all the false confidence I could muster.
Quatre held my gaze, searching it with his own for any hint of dissemblance. But apparently my talent for subterfuge had greatly improved for after a long moment he sighed and graced me with a subdued version of his typically cheerful grin. He reached up and took my head between his hands, his fingers careful of my intricately styled hair. He urged me to bend forward so that he could press his lips against my forehead. My chest tightened at the sweet gesture and, yet again, I wished that I could love him as I loved Heero.
"Alright then, pretty one, if you are certain." With one last, fond pat to my cheek, he turned back toward the waiting soldier, his demeanor taking on a much friendlier aspect. "Captain, I leave him to you and wish you and your men a pleasant evening. Please enjoy yourselves as best you may, as the baron will see to any expense. I will come to collect Duo in a few hours." He flashed a too bright smile toward me and moved quickly toward his horse as though afraid that if he went any slower he might not go at all. Then, with a call of "Good eve!" he was gone and I was left alone to face the fate I had professed to accept.
I kept my gaze turned meekly downward with my hands clasped before me as I faced the young captain. I waited for him to give me some direction but his continued silence only caused my cheeks to warm in a hateful blush. He looked me over carefully, taking in everything from my elaborately styled hair to the golden ring wrapped around the base of my cock and every inch of exposed skin in between. The firm line of his lips turned up slightly at one corner and a single dark brow rose in an inquisitive arch.
"I had heard all of the rumors and thought them to be naught but exaggerations and lies." I looked up as he finally spoke. His smile, arrogant yet not threatening, grew as his dark gaze swept over my bared flesh. "I see now that even the wildest telling was criminally short of the truth."
I was unsure whether I was being flattered or insulted but decided to give the captain the benefit of good intentions when his smile quickly grew noticeably warmer. He held out a hand in mock gallantry, and having no other choice, I took it and allowed him to lead me inside.
Though I had not been rich in my previous life, I had spent no little time in the few inns my hometown of Fashel boasted. As such, the impressions of the homey space were familiar, save for the fact that I had never before walked into such an establishment in a complete state of undress. The tap room was not as large as the dining hall at Windshire, of course, but it was quite sufficient so that the two dozen or so souls either enjoying the inn's hospitality or providing it need not feel crowded. The ceiling was high, indicating that the sleeping quarters above stairs had been afforded only minimal space beneath the sloped roof.
A bar ran along the side of the tap room furthest from the door, and a rotund man of middle age - most likely the innkeeper, himself - stood behind it filling three sizable mugs from a spout. Various decorations, such as several worn but well-polished weapons, the Yuy family coat-of-arms, and other displays were hung on the walls, making use of every available surface. Above the bar was featured the requisite head of a large, male deer, his massive rack stretching nearly the entire length of the wall it graced. Five tables able to seat eight normal-sized persons apiece, or six of the stout men who were instead testing the strength of the furniture, were situated haphazardly around the room. The wooden, plank floor was bare of rugs so that any droppings from the graceless patrons - soldiers to a man as evidenced by their size and prominently worn armaments - could be easily cleaned.
Two young women served the men, their resemblance to the innkeeper marking their relation to him. One of them grabbed the mugs from her father and delivered them to a thirsty table, dancing nimbly out of the way of several groping, meaty paws with a coy giggle. The other girl disappeared through a door at the far side of the bar only to return moments later with an older woman who was clearly her mother. They carried trenchers of food, the mouthwatering aroma identifying the roasted meat and grilled vegetables that were received by another table of men with a grateful shout.
A fire danced in the main hearth, providing light to those inside and a warmth that I found most pleasing against my skin. But even that happy blaze was not enough to fully counter the icy hand of mortification that swept over me as all eyes came to rest on me seemingly at once. I had thought that my presence here was expected since the baron had arranged this meeting. But my assumption was apparently mistaken, for to a man, the soldiers stared at me with mouths agape and one of the serving girls shrieked at the sight of me. A platter rattled as it dropped on a table, the culprit being the innkeeper's wife, who pressed one hand to her ample bosom and the other to the side of her flushed cheek with a quiet but audible "Gracious me!" Whatever remained of the tiredness that had begun to retreat upon meeting the young captain fled in full at their shocked scrutiny. Besides the captain, only the innkeeper and one particularly large soldier seemed unfazed by my presence. The portly proprietor came around the bar as quickly as his heft allowed and greeted my transient guardian with a broad grin and a firm handshake.
"Captain! I'll admit I thought you were pulling a fast one on old Magee, but sake's alive, here he is!" I could only blink at the open, friendly smile the innkeeper turned on me. His perusal of my shocking appearance was almost perfunctory and I could only guess that he had seen me on the occasions I had passed through town on my way to Trowa's. "So you will be having that private shindig for your men, then?"
"Yes, Master Magee," Wufei acknowledged. "I do hope we are not causing your business to suffer." He glanced around the room and I followed his gaze, noticing that besides the innkeeper and his family, the inn was occupied only by Wufei's soldiers. I blanched as the sheer number of men present took on new meaning, and was unable to feel the proper gratitude that there would be no outside witnesses to my shame. Magee laughed and waived away the younger man's concern.
"Oh, no! No indeed, young sir. The baron has compensated me most handsomely for this evening." He slapped Wufei's shoulder with a strong, capable hand, and I was impressed that the slighter man did not buckle under the powerful show of bonhomie. "The place is all yours for as long as you wish. After dinner has been cleared, my wife and daughters and I will leave you to your own amusements, eh?" He shoved an elbow playfully toward Wufei's stomach with an amused chuckle. His wife was passing by at that moment and gave a scandalized "Humph!" at his intimation. I was, thus, even more surprised when she surreptitiously aimed a playful swat at my bare bottom, causing me to gasp and jerk away from her hand as she moved along feigning innocence.
"Your hospitality is much appreciated, Mr. Magee. I will admonish my men to not make too much of a mess while we are here."
"Oh, do not worry about any of that, Cap'n. You just enjoy yourselves as brave young men should, and we will take of ought else." He laughed again and returned to his post behind the bar where his eldest daughter was waiting impatiently to place more drink orders while treating me to careful scrutiny. As was evident from her forthright gaze, she was no sheltered miss. Unlike Lady Relena and her cronies, there was a knowingness in her regard and the smile that played around her full lips that caused me to feel even more naked than before. I gladly looked away from her as Wufei took hold of my arm and led me deeper into the taproom. Shouts and catcalls followed our progress and my humiliation grew by leaps until I thought I must combust from the heat that lent color to every inch of me.
Finally we came to what had apparently been designated the head table, for only the large soldier who had not been surprised at my appearance - a man of early middle years -sat there. I surmised that he held some rank of significance, his flinty gaze and scarred, leathery face bespeaking hard won experience. His was not the only such visage. Though younger than the man at the captain's table, a hasty glance over the other patrons yielded further impressions of scars, muscles, and little knowledge of idle living. I wondered absently how the captain had managed to remain so unscathed as Wufei nodded towards the older man before turning me to face the crowd.
"Sergeant, men, let us thank Mr. McGee and his lovely wife for this fine meal." Calls of agreement rang out and the innkeeper smiled and raised a hand in thanks. "For you are deserving of nothing less. We have rendered a great service to this country, ridding her of the rabble that dared lurk in our forests, that would threaten trade and harm the people. From the lowliest farmer to the fancies dining up there in the castle, all owe us the ease they enjoy on this night." Shouts and laughter accompanied this self-important speech, though the undercurrent of inwardly directed mockery lent it the humor the captain intended.
"The baron has deigned to reward you for your bravery, for the blood you have shed on his behalf, for your courage and your loyalty. And," Wufei added, raising his voice above the joyful shouts and deafening thuds of daggers pounding against the tables, "our liege has seen fit to reward you for being a bunch of randy bastards!" He glanced at me with a smirk as laughter and guffaws rang out and pushed me forward from where I had been attempting to use his body as a shield so that I stood in front of him.
"And so, the baron has given us his pretty toy for the evening. Raise your mugs to Baron Yuy, boys. Long may he reign!" A cheer rose toward the rafters and empty wooden mugs slammed against the tabletops as they were drained to a man. And then, before I knew what was happening, a callused hand grabbed my arm and I was swept into the melee of coarse jerkins, sweaty bodies, and manly lust.