Disclaimers:  I do not own Gundam Wing or any of its characters.

Notes:  Trowa and Catherine arrive at an inn.



Captive Hearts



Part Twenty-Three



Trowa looked out at the town as they were entering it.  He'd passed this way a few times in his travels and he knew the inn here
to be free of vermin and had good food.  He'd never stayed long, only for a night at most, but his experiences had been good so
far.  He did hope they had a decent bath somewhere close.  He was feeling grimy.

"Catherine?"

She smiled and nodded.  "I'll bring Wufei, my lord."  She handled the sleeping youth as gently as one would a very delicate piece
of glass or pottery.  So much so, that Wufei didn't even stir as he was moved.  Trowa felt a bit of worry for how easy his sister
was able to carry the young man.  She didn't seem to be having any difficulty at all, which meant he was quite lacking in healthy
weight.

He vacated the carriage himself just behind Catherine and entered the inn.  He nodded to the innkeeper, who hurried over to
stand behind the counter.  "Good evening.  I'd like three rooms.  Two adjacent to each other, if you please so my guard may be
nearby in case I need assistance.  My driver will tend to my horses and he'll be taking the third room."

The innkeeper bowed.  "Of course, my lord.  Will you be needing anything else?  Perhaps a pallet for your slave?"

Trowa shook his head.  "That's not necessary.  I'll be needing some bandages and ointments.  My slave was injured by his
previous master and I wish to tend to him."

"Very good, sir.  Shall I have meals sent up to your rooms?"

Trowa smiled and inclined his head.  "That would be welcome.  Also, if you could tell me where the local bathing house is?  
Unless you have one of your own here?"  He'd never had the time to take a bath in this quaint town before, as his business was
always of a pressing urgency.  If it was too far, he'd simply use a cloth and water to clean Wufei off, but he'd rather not resort
to that.  A warm bath would be more beneficial to him.

"Ah, well there is a private bath here, but there is an extra fee."  He paused before he scowled.  "Sir, surely you don't mean to
bring a mere SLAVE into the bathing chamber!  The very idea is preposterous!"

Trowa felt his ire creeping up on him and he slammed twice the room fee onto the counter.  He didn't really want to deal with
this.  He was cold and tired and he wanted to get to a bath, a warm meal and a comfortable bed.  Listening to idiots was not on
his list of things to do today.  "I'm sure this will cover any inconvenience fee you can come up with.  Especially since I have
come here on numerous prior occasions and have never been dissatisfied with the service before today."  If he weren't worried
about Wufei's health, then he would have left.  But Wufei needed to get cleaned up and put into a proper bed where he could rest.

The innkeeper stammered as if trying to come up with a reason as to why a slave couldn't be bathed and then he sighed in defeat
when he obviously couldn't come up with one.  After all, no one turned down the amount of money that Trowa was about to
put out.  "Very well, sir.  I shall show you to the bathing room.  You can ring when you're ready to retire."

Ordering a number of servants around, the Innkeeper stepped out from behind the front counter.  Another man took his place
swiftly, though there were no customers in sight.  The Innkeeper swept up the coins and deposited them in his own pocket,
then motioned for Trowa and Catherine to follow him.  A short trip down a hallway followed.

"We have a furnace in the room just behind the bathing chamber.  If you will be patient, my servants will stoke the fires and heat
the water so that you may have a hot bath.  Pull the cord on the tub of your choice so they know which one to pipe the water
into.  And there are privacy curtains, should your guard wish to bathe herself as well."  He reached a door and pushed it open,
completely ignoring the boy who stood beside it.  "Please, feel free to use any of the oils or salts you wish.  The boy will show
you to your room when you are ready."  He bowed and backed away, disappearing down the hall again.

Trowa glanced at the child who diligently stood outside the door.  He could be no older than ten.  He was young, but old enough
to serve.  It was common in many places to put young children such as this to work.  All the better to learn their place in the
world when they were still young.

As they entered, Trowa turned to face Catherine.  "I'll take him and you can get a bath of your own."

She kicked the door shut behind her.  "Thank the Gods.  I feel like I'm covered in a layer of filth."

Trowa chuckled and shook his head.  "Honestly, you're starting to smell like it too."

"You are so dead, Trowa Barton."  She took a step toward him.

"Now, now.  You don't want to go and hurt Wufei, do you?"

Catherine glared at him, sneering.  "I will get you for that little comment."  She shifted Wufei's weight in her arms.  "Here, take
him.  I'll take the bath closest to the door, you take the next one down."

He knew that she was only doing her duty in protecting him, so he didn't argue.  Without a further word, he took Wufei from
her.  Looking down, he found that the slave was still unconscious.  While worrisome, he didn't waste too much time dwelling on
it.  He'd rouse Wufei when he had to.  For now, it wasn't necessary that he be awake.  He settled Wufei on the floor, his back
propped against the side of the bath.  There was no reason to hold the man the entire time.

The bathing chamber was simple.  There were about a dozen baths lined up along the back wall of the room.  A spout coming
from the wall was the source of the water, while a rope dangled from the ceiling at the pools' edge.  Each bath was large enough
to fit half a dozen people, plenty of room to stretch out in if one wanted to.  He glanced at the selection of salts and oils, but
decided not to use any of them.  He had to get Wufei's wounds clean and many of the items would just serve to aggravate
them.  "Anything you want to use from the shelf?"

Catherine shook her head.  "No, you know I can't stand all that flowery stuff.  Especially when on the road."

Trowa chuckled and pulled on the cord.  Then it was just a matter of waiting.  He used that time to set up the items he would
need.  It wasn't much, just some soap and a washcloth.  He looked over as he heard the sound of running water and saw
Catherine tug the curtain between their baths closed.

The water began flowing into his own tub then and Trowa's attention was drawn to it.  He tested the water with his hand and
was grateful to find that it wasn't boiling hot.  The last thing he wanted to deal with was a bunch of burns on top of everything
else Wufei had.

When the tub was sufficiently full, he pulled the cord again and the water stopped flowing.  He made quick work of removing
his garments and then Wufei's.  Catherine was only a few feet away, probably doing just the same.  But it didn't matter.  They
had seen each other naked on numerous occasions.  She was his bodyguard and his sister.  She'd had a hand in raising him.  
There were no secrets between them.  The curtain she'd pulled between their baths was merely a formality.  And if something
were to happen, that curtain would be gone and she'd be at his side completely naked and dripping wet with the closest weapon
she could find in her hand.  The thought made Trowa smirk in amusement.

The first dip of his foot into the luxuriously heated water made him inhale with a hiss as a shiver ran through his entire body.  He
kept a hold on Wufei's skinny body all the same and stepped down further.  Bending, he gently arranged Wufei to sit on the
bench that lined the edge of the bath.  As his body touched the water, the slave roused.  He blinked his eyes open wearily, a
furrow scrunching his brow together when he looked up at Trowa.

"Master?" he spoke with a gravely yawn.

"Sshh, just relax," Trowa whispered in reply as he sat beside the young man.  "We're at an inn.  We all need a bath after all this
traveling."  He didn't want to disturb Catherine, so he kept his tone soft.  The baths were close to each other, but not that close
together.  The small amount of space added to the feeling of privacy.

Wufei pushed himself up.  His arms shook with the effort.  "Then I will attend to you."

"You don't have to do that.  I can wash myself."  He raised a dripping hand and settled himself back against the bath's edge.  
Closing his eyes, he laid his head back, allowing himself to relax after such a long bout of traveling.

He felt and heard as Wufei moved within the water.  He assumed the slave to be relaxing.  But that was proven wrong as soon
as a soft soapy cloth was swept across his chest.  Trowa started forward, his eyes flashing open.

Wufei's gaze met his for the briefest instant, then darted back to his task.  Before Trowa could open his mouth, Wufei was
already speaking.  "Let me take care of you, Master," he said quietly, his voice only barely above a whisper.  "It is my duty to
see to your needs."

Trowa really didn't have any reason to argue with that.  As a slave it was Wufei's purpose to see to every whim his master
thought up.  Trowa didn't want him to strain himself, but he also didn't want to cause any stress that might hinder the
improvement of his health.  In the end, Trowa decided that allowing Wufei this one task wouldn't hurt either of them.

"Do as you want," Trowa relented, closing his eyes and relaxing his body once more.

There was nothing unusual about the bath.  Wufei's hands were skilled and worked with efficiency to cleanse his master.  The
gentle, yet firm strokes were enough to lull Trowa into a light doze.  The day had been a long one, another in a tedious line of
time spent traveling.  That short respite at Heero's had not been long enough to garner any true rest.  He couldn't look forward to
that until he could return to his own estate.  He missed his gardens and the familiar corridors, the slaves and staff who knew his
habits well.  But most of all, he missed his bed.  There was nothing quite the same as sleeping in one's own bed.

His mind began to wander.  Quatre was commonly at the forefront of his thoughts.  He longed to show the pale beauty around
his home, to take the fair-haired youth to his bed.  To have that frail slave accept him without fear was something that Trowa
often daydreamed about.  Catherine teased him of his growing affection.  But Trowa couldn't help but love Quatre.  For all the
insecurities and frailties, Quatre had a beautiful soul.  Trowa couldn't wait to get to know the blonde better, to hear of his life
and of his dreams for the future.  He wanted Quatre to love him.

Like almost every other time he thought of Quatre, a telltale reaction stirred his loins.  He furrowed his brow as the feeling only
seemed to grow and spread, becoming a familiar ache that demanded relief.  Too late, he noticed that it wasn't his own
daydreams causing this reaction, but an all-too real hand from the slave he was sharing his bath with.

Trowa bit his lip to keep from groaning even as he raised his hand to Wufei's shoulder.  "Stop.  I didn't ask for this."  His hips
raised despite his words, pressing up into Wufei's grip.

Those knowing hands never paused.  He expertly stroked Trowa's member beneath the water.  "You need relief, Master.  It will
help you to relax."  He dropped his other hand lower, fondling his master's balls.

Trowa didn't put up much of an argument.  His mind and body were warring with each other.  In the end, his body won out.  It
just felt too good to deny that last release.  In his mind, he pictured the object of his affections in Wufei's place.  It was that
image that finally sent him careening over the edge.  "Quatre," he whispered, one last burst of his vital fluids spewing forth into
the cooling water.

"Master?  Did I not please you?"

"Hm?"  Trowa frowned, not really up to thinking so soon after orgasm.  He'd much rather enjoy the aftereffects, the way his
skin tingled and his body trembled.

"If you enjoyed my touch, why did you call another's name?"

Reality came crashing down on him like a brick wall.  He shoved himself upright and ran his wet hands through his hair.  
"Dammit.  You shouldn't have done that."  He took the cloth from where it had been casually discarded and made quick work of
washing the rest of himself.

"I'm sorry, Master.  I-"

Trowa dropped the cloth in the water and rose to get out.  He felt guilty, as if he had betrayed Quatre by allowing this to
happen.  And it wasn't fair to Wufei either, to be used like that.  "Don't apologize.  Wash yourself so we can leave.  A good
night's rest will do us all good."

Wufei dropped his head.  He didn't say a word in response as he followed the order given to him.  Trowa grabbed the nearest
towels he could find and quickly dried himself.  When it came time to dress though, he hesitated.  He didn't like the idea of
putting on the same clothes he had taken off before his bath.  But in this case he didn't have much choice.  He pulled on his
breeches and shirt, but bundled the rest in a pile which he tucked beneath his arm.

The slave soon followed his example.  He got out and dried.  Unlike Trowa he didn't hesitate to don his castoff clothing.

"Can you walk on your own?" Trowa asked.  "I believe our rooms are up at least one flight of stairs."  Despite his anger over
what had transpired, he wouldn't let Wufei suffer.

Wufei clasped his hands together in front of him, obviously struggling with the urge to fidget.  "I can walk, Master.  I do not
wish to be a bother to you."

Trowa nodded in reply.  He felt like a bastard for allowing Wufei to continue fondling him.  All he wanted to do was to get to his
room and be alone.  "Are you almost done?" he called out to his sister, just wanting to put the whole incident behind him.  The
best way to do that would be to leave this room.  But he couldn't leave without Catherine.  The last time he'd tried going
anywhere public without her she'd nearly deafened him with all of her yelling.  It was embarrassing to be told off by one of your
guards.  Thankfully, no one had been around to hear it.  It was only made worse when his mother had learned of his attempt.  
Sitting had been difficult for a good week.

"Yeah.  What's the rush?"  The sound of someone getting up out of water reached his ears only moments before Catherine pulled
the curtain open.  She had also thrown on the bare minimum of clothing as if not wanting to wear the same thing she had been
wearing for days on end.  "Is something wrong?"

Trowa shook his head and motioned toward Wufei.  "I want to get him into a bed so he can get some sleep."  The sooner he
could get to sleep, the sooner it would seem like the morning would come.  He just wanted to get back to Quatre and put the
whole incident with Wufei out of his mind.



*****



Catherine looked at her brother with the experience of being his guard and knew something was up.  Something had happened
with Wufei, she just knew it.  But Trowa wasn't saying anything.  That meant it was embarrassing.  "All right.  Let's go then.  
He okay to walk?"  She was perfectly willing to carry the slave again.

"He says he is, but keep an eye on him.  I don't want him aggravating the injuries he has."

Catherine accepted that and was pleased to know that the slave still had a little free will.  One thing she hated to see was a
human being - regardless of status - acting like a mindless drone.  She kept her eye on the slave as the group of them headed for
their rooms, led upstairs by the slave that had been waiting outside the bathing room's door.  When they got there, she was
pleased to see that the basket of ointments and bandages that Trowa had requested was there.  She nodded at the boy that had
led them to their doors.

"I will return swiftly with your meals," he said swiftly.  Without wasting a moment, he was off down the hall again.

"Do you have any idea what you're going to do with him?" she asked, helping Trowa to tend Wufei's injuries.

Trowa shrugged.  "No idea.  Maybe Heero will have an idea.  I don't really need any more slaves.  Especially not a bed warmer
since Quatre will fill that role when he's more comfortable with me."

She smiled and held her tongue.  It pleased her to see Trowa so interested in the little blonde.  She hadn't spent much time with
Quatre, but she thought him adorable and sweetly shy.  She looked forward to getting to know the slave.

She lost track of time as Wufei's wounds were treated and their meals were eaten.  "Would you like Wufei to sleep in here, with
you?"

To her surprise, Trowa shook his head.  "I think it would be better if he slept with you."

"Did something happen?"  As a guard, it wasn't her place to question Trowa's decisions.  But as a sister, she felt she needed to
show her concern.  "You seem more tense now than you did before the bath."

Running a hand through his hair, Trowa got up and turned away.  "I don't want to talk about it."  His reluctance to talk worried
her, but there was nothing she could do about it right now.  She knew better then to pressure him.  If he had a problem with
Wufei for some reason, he wouldn't be discussing it right in front of the slave.  She'd have to talk with him later, when Wufei
wasn't around.

Understanding that Trowa wouldn't be talking anymore, Catherine helped Wufei to his feet.  "Very well.  I'll see you in the
morning."  She shook her head.  Before his visit with Heero, Trowa probably wouldn't have balked at the opportunity to share
his bed with the attractive slave.  He was quite healthy in that aspect of his life.  She led Wufei to the room she had been given
for the night and motioned to the bed.  "Get comfortable."

The slave turned to her.  "I live to serve, mistress."

Catherine blinked at Wufei's sudden movement.  She had expected him to just walk to the bed, not closer to her.  She didn't have
the time to question his actions before he reached out and ran a hand up her thigh, easing around to rest firmly on her rear.  
Without thinking, her hand lashed out and struck his face.  Not hard, but the sound of her hand hitting his face echoed in the
quiet of the room.  Once it was done, she brought her hand close to her chest and stared at Wufei's widened eyes.  "I'm sorry I
did that, but you shouldn't touch me without my permission."

Wufei blinked at her in confusion.  "But, it is my place to serve in any capacity required."

With a sigh, Catherine turned Wufei toward the bed.  "You are required to get some sleep.  Nothing more.  Now get into bed."  
She waited until he was in bed and sufficiently covered with the blankets.  "Now, if I get into bed as well, you are to keep your
hands to yourself.  Understand?"

Wufei nodded and moved over so there was more room on the bed.

Although she was leery about sleeping with the amorous slave, Catherine trusted Wufei would not go against the orders of
someone he saw as a master.  As an otherwise obedient slave, it would be against his nature to disobey.

She got into bed and kept a good deal of space between them.  She was closest to the door and her sword was within easy
reach.  Also, she was a light sleeper, so if there was anything amiss she would be out of bed and out the door within a mere
heartbeat.  As long as she lived, nothing would happen to her brother.  With that thought clear in her mind, she closed her eyes.



To Be Continued ...