For You I Suffer
Quatre tried again to impress upon me his opinion of Heero's feelings, but I would hear none of it. Quatre was a good man with a good heart and it pained him that Heero had so little regard for me when he knew how I felt about the baron. But even my former trainer could not create what did not exist.
The blond refused to heed my attempts to ignore him and seemed quite prepared to press the issue as long and hard as he could, but fortunately, Trowa returned from his trip into town before Quatre could get too worked up. Hilde followed Trowa inside, and soon we were all sitting down for lunch. Quatre was happy to see his friend again after so long and so sad a parting, and I was grateful that the tall man had managed to so thoroughly distract him.
Lunch turned into afternoon tea and eventually became dinner since neither Trowa nor Hilde seemed anxious for Quatre to leave. Freed from the blond man's attempts to engage me about the baron, I was reminded of why I was so fond of him. Inevitably, the sky began to dim, and Quatre reluctantly made his goodbyes since he was planning to get an early start back to Windshire in the morning. I saw him to his horse while Trowa helped Hilde clean up after dinner, and the smaller man took advantage of the opportunity when we found ourselves alone in the stable. I cringed when he pinned me with his gaze, his large, round eyes beseeching.
"Duo, please, won't you come to the castle? As a member of the gentry, it is your right to come whenever you wish. Indeed, it is also your duty to report to the baron about your land and holdings and...."
"Quatre, do you really think my little farm would be of interest to anyone but myself?" I sighed. "You are free to come and see me whenever you would like to, and please tell Helen that I miss her terribly and would love to see her whenever she is able to visit. But...." I returned his gaze in kind, forcing him to accept my reluctance to travel to Windshire. "I have to put the castle and everything that happened there behind me. I am very grateful for everything that you have done for me, and I cannot deny that I enjoy no longer having to fret about my financial wellbeing, but, you must understand, Quatre, I am no longer the person I was. I am no longer a manzoku no dorei. I cannot go back to being that pathetic creature who desired nothing but the love of a man who cares nothing for me. I just can't."
Quatre looked into my face for a long moment before closing his eyes. He stepped close to me and wrapped his arms about my waist.
"I promise, I will speak no more of it. I only want the best for you, Duo. I love you dearly. You know that?"
I smiled and nodded, returning his embrace. We stood quietly leaning against each other for a long moment before the blond backed away. He mounted his horse, lifted his hand, and rode away without a word.
The warm breeze of early summer wafted past my face as I turned the soil in Hilde's garden, making the tendrils of hair that had escaped from my braid dance about my head. The late morning air was redolent with the fresh scents of ever growing grass and the reassuringly pungent aroma of healthy animals. The new dairy cows were grazing upon the hillside and the horses, including my still nameless gift, were running happily around the paddock. The sow and her piglets were hold up in the barn, preferring the shade to the heat of the day.
They were my only companions, as Trowa and Hilde had been wed the week before and were enjoying my gift of a month-long trip to Pholan. Hilde had been most grateful for my generosity, fair knocking me to the floor with her enthusiasm and almost bursting my eardrums with her high-pitched exclamation of joy. She had never been away from Fashel, let alone been to the city, and I knew she would enjoy the experience, especially with her new husband to look after and indulge her.
I smiled as I remembered how happy and beautiful a bride Hilde had been. I grunted as I dug the hoe deep into the rich, brown soil. I had sworn to her that I would look after her beloved patch of dirt while she was gone, and I knew that she would have my hide if she returned to find that I had shirked my duty.
I did not want to admit how much I missed my friends' company. They deserved their newly wedded bliss, and they deserved to discover each other as husband and wife without the dampening effect of my presence. But miss them I did. I had become accustomed to having Trowa around and Hilde constantly underfoot. But more distressing, without the welcome distraction they provided, I was left alone with nothing but my thoughts to occupy me, and they were not the most pleasant of companions. Though I berated myself for my morbid obsession, I found myself unconsciously marking the approaching anniversary of the day the baron changed my life forever.
Quatre had not visited since his appearance in the spring, but he wrote me often, his letters appearing on my porch as fast as his messengers could bear them. I read them faithfully in the beginning, the missives providing dry and amusing insights into life at the castle and casually inquiring into mine. But Quatre never neglected the opportunity to mention the baron and the strange behavior he continued to exhibit, and after several such letters, I could no longer bring myself to look at them.
Quatre continued to press me to come and see the baron for myself, but I could not. I simply refused to believe that I could have such an effect on the most powerful man in the country, not when he had been so heedless of my very existence.
Frightened though I was of Hilde's wrath, the warm day tempted me from my work. Sweat beaded upon my face and I pulled my shirt away from my chest, sighing as a breeze brushed over my moist skin. I glanced up at the cloudless sky, the brilliant, vibrant blue calling forth memories that tightened my chest even after all of these months.
The bright, morning sun dazzled my eyes, so when I first caught sight of a solitary figure riding over the hill, coming from the direction of town, I may be forgiven for doubting my vision. But after blinking in an attempt to see past the spots caused by the sun's radiance, I realized that the approaching figure was indeed real.
I suddenly felt far warmer than even the pleasant weather could account. My breath quickened and my muscles tensed as a fine tremble overtook me. I could say that I recognized the commanding, straight-backed posture of the rider even at that distance, or that I recognized the beautiful horse on which he rode. But the reality is simply that my body knew its master even though my mind refused to accept the truth.
As he came nearer, all of my attempts at self-delusion were dashed. I stared helplessly as Heero rode across the rigged field of sewn earth, drawing ever closer to where I stood frozen. My fingers ached from the ferocious grip I had on the hoe, uncertain whether it was to prevent me from throwing the implement at my unexpected visitor or merely to keep me from running to him. He stopped a respectable distance in front of me and dismounted. The distance might as well have been inches, for the force of his presence hit me like a powerful blow.
But although I tried to deny his still profound affect on me and to harden myself to remain calm as his blue eyes ran over me like a caress, I was astonished at the change in him. His face was composed but haggard, dark circles bruising the skin beneath his eyes as though he had not slept for days. A light shadow of stubble dotted several places along his jaw along with a thin cut on his chin, attesting to the haphazard carelessness of his attempt to shave. He stood straight and tall, yet exhaustion seemed to cling to him, and though his clothes bespoke his rank and wealth, to the practiced eye of one who had spent so long dressing and undressing him, he somehow seemed unkempt. But even faced with the stunning evidence of the truthfulness of Quatre's story, I refused to give in to sympathy. All I wanted was for him to go away and leave me be.
"You should not be here." My tongue ran ahead of my thoughts, blurting out the question swirling in confusion around my head. "What do you want of me?"
"I want you to come back with me." He spoke without hesitation.
I froze, the turmoil in my heart stealing my ability to think clearly. My beset mind could invoke no sensible explanation for his stunning demand, so I covered my uncertainty with anger, clinging to the only logical thought that came to me.
"Why, because I still owe you two months on my contract?" I scowled at him, trying to ignore the pounding against my ribs. "I would remind you, my lord, that you released me from your service."
"Because I am going insane without you," he said without inflection.
I gaped at him in shock, my ire flaring as I waited anxiously for him to admit to his poor joke. I opened my mouth, prepared to make a scathing reply, but as Heero continued to stare at me, and even though he looked as tired as I had ever seen him, I could feel his intense gaze pierce my battered soul. My tongue stilled as I looked into those eyes that even now cast me into a torment of helpless desire.
His expression was as closed as ever, but in the depths of his blue gaze lurked something that warned me that he was in deadly earnest. Here was a man, who was used to being in complete control of himself and everything around him. But now, he looked like he was struggling against something with all of his might, and was clinging to that vaunted control by his mere fingertips. My gaze strayed helplessly to that vulnerable, red line where the razor had slipped in his hand, and I started as he suddenly spoke again.
"I cannot eat. I cannot sleep. Whenever I close my eyes all I can see is your face." His voice deepened to a growl, the roughness of his tone belying the blankness of his face. "You cannot know how hard I have tried to forget you, the feel of your skin, the smell of your hair, the sound of your voice crying out to me in need."
It was as though he was laying the blame for his distress on my head and I desperately wanted to be insulted. But the sound of his voice rasped over me and caused a spike of heat to shoot straight to my slowly swelling cock. I closed my eyes to shut out the sight of his beautiful face and wrapped my arms around waist, subconsciously trying to shield myself from the sensation his words engendered.
"What magic do you possess? You seem nothing more than a man, flesh and blood, but you are a demon, haunting my dreams. I burn, scorched by the memory of eyes like fiery gems. I feel a noose of chestnut silk around my throat, demanding my very life. You have imprisoned me, and yet, I have no desire to escape." He moved toward me abruptly, grabbing hold of my arms as I tried to shy away. "I love you, Duo, so much I cannot even breathe without you by my side. Please, won't you even look at me? Do you hate me so much?"
No, I love you! My heart shouted so loudly I was sure that Heero heard its cry. The words sprang to my tongue. The desire to confess tore at my throat, urging my lips to speak them. But I forced them back with all the ruthless instinct of self-preservation. Never had I heard such an impassion speech from my former master, but neither could I bring myself to believe him so easily. The pain of memory was simply too great. Shaking my head as though I could force the sound of his voice from my ears, I pulled away violently.
"Tell me, my lord, do you take pleasure in spewing such falsehoods? How can you possibly expect me to believe such a fantastic tale as this?" Heero's eyes narrowed sharply as my pointed rebuff recklessly denied what was before my very eyes. How could I not believe him when he looked like this? But I simply could not risk my heart, not when he had abused it so terribly. I almost allowed myself to see the hurt that his shuttered face could not conceal, but my speech turned even rougher as anger and confusion flooded through me.
"If you love me, as you claim, why didn't you come to see me after what that bitch, Dorothy, did to me? After what you allowed her to do to me! I was lying there for days, in so much pain I wanted to die. And the only thing I wanted, the only thing I prayed for was to see you. But not once in the weeks I was recovering at Sally's did you come. So don't you dare insult me now by pretending that you care!"
"I do care, damn you!" Heero's face was flushed with emotion such as I had never witnessed from him before. His dark eyes glinted as though with lightening as it broke over a storm-tossed sea. I blinked in astonishment as it was the first time I could remember ever hearing him raise his voice.
"When Quatre told me what had happened to you, I wanted to call him a liar to his face. I knew that Dorothy was rather high strung, but to even think for one moment that she would dare harm you, I could have laughed at the mere notion." His jaw clenched so tightly I feared his teeth might shatter.
"I walked into Sally's surgery expecting at the very worst that you had received some minor injury due to Dorothy's carelessness that Quatre had conflated through his over-developed capacity for worry. But when I saw you lying there...." The ruddy color drained from his face, and I watched in disbelief as he grew as pale as the snow that had so recently blanketed the earth.
"I am not proud to admit that it took Quatre and two of Sally's sturdier male assistance to keep me for tearing off after her then and there. My only thought was to find that woman and take her head from her shoulders. My sword was unsheathed and in my hand before Quatre's shouts for me to stop penetrated the murderous rage that had taken control of my very body. But fast on the heels of my fury was an even more insidious emotion. I quickly realized that it was not only my rage at Dorothy that had nearly driven me from your side. It was shame."
"Shame?" I echoed, my shock rendering my voice almost mute, even to my own ears. I looked up and shivered as his gaze pinned me, refusing to allow me to turn away again.
"Yes, shame, remorse, guilt of the blackest kind." Heero closed his eyes for a moment, his hands clenching into white knuckled fists at his side as though just the mere recollection of those events was too much to bear. "Because you were mine I failed to protect you. Not from Dorothy or her bastard of a cousin. Not from my aunt. Not from those accursed highwaymen." He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders as though reaching for some inner strength. "And not from my own bloody foolishness."
My chest ached as though I had been running for miles and was unable to catch my breath. I did not want to acknowledge the sincere emotion that was written in the tense line of his shadowed jaw, in the stiff set of his shoulders, in the blazing intensity of his gaze. Like a drowning man, I latched on to the sentiment that had hurt me more than anything as I had huddled in chains on the cold, stone floor of the castle's kitchens.
"I was yours, as you say. All you had to do was look at me and I would have done anything you asked of me. Anything! But no more." Heero opened his mouth to interrupt, but I shook my head sharply, my braid whipping against my back. "I heard what you told your aunt after she had banished me down to the kitchens to be chained up like a pig waiting to be slaughtered." Heero had the graciousness to flinch, but I was feeling short on solicitousness, and desperation prompted me to be vicious. "You told her that you never wanted to see me again. Do you deny it?"
"No," he growled. "Those were my words. But you have to understand...."
"Well, you have your wish! I am with you no more." My frustration and hurt rushed forth until my brain seemed unable to keep up with my tongue. "And now you are free to return to your life and I to mine. I should really thank you, my lord, for rejecting my love, foolish as it was. I you had not, I might have gone on begging for the meager scraps of your attention, turning more and more into a pathetic creature until you hated me as much as I had begun to hate myself. I am no longer your property."
"No, you are not." His voice rumbled deep in his chest, and the muscles bunched visibly in his clenched jaw as he spoke. "But you are mine just the same, no matter how you might wish to deny it."
I laughed, the sound tinged with a bit of madness. I wanted to turn and run away, but I forced myself to stand firm. The sight of Heero's beautiful face burned my eyes as though they were being etched with his image. The weight of my grief threatened to crush me as I threw away those last shreds of hope to which I had clung over the long, winter months. I knew with dire certainty that unless I cut all ties with Heero here and now, I would never be free of him. My despair made me reckless as I would never have otherwise been.
"I never meant to betray you, and I know that I have no one to blame for it but myself. But at least Trowa deigned to show me a speck of kindness." I shuddered as I was speared by a deep-blue gaze, my skin twitching as though struck with a shower of burning embers.
"You dare mention his name to me? When I saw you two together, when I saw him touching you.... Gods, I wanted to kill you both."
"Why?!" My voice quivered, but the force of my shout surprised us both. "Why would you even care? You tossed me to whomever you fancied like some shiny toy with which you had gotten bored. And to think that I was proud when you gave me away to others to fuck, as though it were some high honor that I was being whored out to whomever you thought deserved a pat on the back." I ran a hand down my face as I finally realized the full extent of my insanity.
"Gods, I can hardly believe just how big an idiot I was." I glared back at Heero, gratified that I could look at him without my heart trying to escape from my chest. "At least Trowa showed me kindness when all I could feel was wretchedness and despair; and for that, I so very much wanted to love him...."
Whatever else I might have said was forever lost. A deep growl as though from a wild animal was my only warning before my face was captured in a hard, almost painful grip. I gasped in surprise and whimpered from the bruising force of the fingers against my jaw, but the sound was lost beneath the crushing pressure of the lips that capture mine in a searing kiss.
I struggled against Heero as his tongue forced its way past my clenched lips and claimed ownership over my mouth, his stubble raking against my skin. My struggles were frantic as I tried to push him away, but my strength paled next to his. And as ever, my will faltered in the face of his wordless command. My mind might rail against the madness of it all, but my body refused to deny its master. Heero ordered me to surrender to him with sweeping thrusts of his tongue, and with every fiber of my being, I wanted nothing more than to obey. It took every bit of my new found self-respect to turn away from the hot press of his lips.
"No, stop," I breathed, struggling to gather my scattered wits, my entire body shaking with every pulse of blood through my painfully swollen cock. But Heero gave me no quarter, no respite from the overwhelming force of his presence. His fingers buried themselves in my hair, rendering my attempts to escape futile. I swallowed a cry as he pulled my hips towards him with his other hand, the sound becoming a moan as I felt the answering hardness between his legs.
"Do you want to know why I hated seeing you with Trowa? Because even in that brief moment, I could see the affection you had for each other. I could tell that it was not merely lust that had brought you together, but that there were true feelings between you. And damn me for it, but I was jealous and afraid." I gasped as he whispered against my lips. "I was afraid that you wanted to leave me for him."
"Then why...?" I moaned, as he licked at my lips. Heero finished the thought as the ability to speak abandoned me.
"Why, what? Why did I give you to others even as I sat in my bedchamber drinking myself into oblivion each time you were with someone else? Why did I torture myself with the images of someone other than myself kissing you, touching you, discovering as I had how sweet you feel wrapped around me as I thrust into you?" My knees weakened as he abandoned his rambling speech to delve into my mouth with his tongue.
"Yes," I whispered as he allowed me to catch my breath.
"Because I am a fool, Duo. Because I am a stupid little boy who lets others dictate to him how to live his life." The expression on my face must have relieved the full extend of my credulity, for he chuckled with sharp self-deprecation as he arms tightened about my waist.
"It is true. All my life my beloved aunt has drilled into my head the importance of the Yuy name and the gravity of my duty to the family. Did you know that she meant for me to marry Relena?" He waited patiently as I sputtered, torn between feeling justified in the jealousy I had once felt towards her and amazed at Lady Une's audacity. Even through the green haze of resentment that had clouded my gaze when I saw them together, it was obvious that the affection between them was only fraternal in nature.
"Because she felt that the daughter of the Peacecraft line, though clearly inferior to Yuy blood, was at least a somewhat suitable match. She also approved of the fact that Relena was young enough to bear a large number of children to carry on the line. She never did forgive my mother for giving birth to only me. So you might imagine her displeasure when I unwisely revealed to her that I had fallen in love with a young farmer from a no-name town on the outskirts of Calderash."
A thumb, callused from hours of swordplay, brushed across my lower lip. But if he wanted to keep me from speaking, he need not have bothered. Even if I had been able to marshal my thoughts into sufficient coherence to form a word, I would not have had the breath to do so. I was completely floored by his inadvertent confession. My hands, which had been pressed against Heero's waist in an effort to push him away, abruptly reversed their intent. The fine linen of his shirt threatened to rip beneath the sudden desperation of my grip.
"Love? You love...me?" I wanted nothing more than to let myself go, to surrender to him, but I could not let myself give in. "Why should I believe you?"
"Do you know why I sent Trowa with you when you left?" He leaned close as he lowered his voice into an intimate murmur. I shook my head, unable to repress the shiver that ran through me as his warm breath brushed over the shell of my ear. "Because, as much as I hate the sight of him, I knew I could trust him to look after you." Heero sighed in annoyance, though it seemed mostly directed at himself. "Hell, he has done a far better job of it than I have. If I had to name one regret out of the many I have concerning you, Duo, it is what happened that night that my aunt kept me from you after she took you to the kitchens."
I leaned away from him just far enough to look into his eyes.
"Quatre told me what happened. I-I do not blame you for what she did or for what happened afterward. It was my own imprudence that made me run into danger."
"No, not that. Though the memory of what that thrice-damned bandit almost did to you is enough to drive me mad, that is not what I meant." Heero sighed, closing his eyes for a moment before re-capturing me in a sea of blue. "No, what I regret is allowing her to convince me to let you go."