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

Notes:  A drunken Duo stumbles over a disturbing scene and acts on impulse.  Heero finds himself with yet another new master.  
And Hilde has a problem and a shared past with the person Duo chose to replace her with.

Servitude, Retribution, and Enchantment

Part Seventeen

Duo cackled madly at some joke he had heard, although he couldn’t remember the joke anymore.  He staggered out of the
tavern, G having told him that he had drank enough for the night.  Duo had giggled and nodded, leaving in a pleasant drunken

He tripped and almost fell, giggling as he straightened himself up once again.  Then he unhitched Chaos and patted the horse’s
side.  “Ready to go home, buddy?”  Duo asked, his laughing ceasing as he ran his hands along Chaos’s smooth body.

Duo tried to mount his steed, but since he almost fell over after his repeated attempts, he decided to walk instead.  He grasped
the reins and walked Chaos along the street, heading toward his home as he stumbled along.  He frowned as he passed by an
alley, thinking that he had heard something.  But when he looked in, he couldn’t see anything . . . it was just too dark.

His curiosity getting the better of him, Duo decided to take a look.  “You wait here, Chaos.”  Duo said, letting go of the reins and
stepping closer to the alley, almost falling down half a dozen times as he approached.

He stumbled once again.  Before he could fall flat on his face he reached out and pressed his hand against one of the walls,
thinking that perhaps drinking so much was not a good idea.  He peered into the dark alleyway, once again hearing those strange
sounds.  After a moment, his eyes focused in the dark and he was able to make out two figures moving around.

One was a slave, and by the look of it he was being beaten by his master.  Duo hated it when people abused their slaves . . . it
was just wrong in his mind.  As his anger boiled within him, he continued to watch the scene play out before him.  The slave
was forced up against a wall, his garments torn from him, the man behind him roughly beginning to prepare his body for an
invasion.  It was obviously unwanted, and Duo couldn’t stand to just watch and let it happen.

As the man took out his own length and positioned himself behind the beaten and whimpering slave, Duo ran forward.  He hit
the man at a full run, knocking him aside and away from the injured slave.  The slave crumbled to the ground as well.

His drunkenness having been replaced by rage, Duo began to pummel the man, repeatedly hitting him with his fists.  “How dare
you hurt him?!”  Duo shouted, finally pulling himself away from the man and glaring at him.

“This is none of your business!  Be gone!”  The man shouted in reply, pulling his breeches up once again.

Duo blinked, remembering that voice.  He looked to the slave, his eyes widening as he saw that it was the same slave from
before.  This was the one he had helped to stand just outside of town, the one whose master had been dragging him behind a
horse.  Duo ran to the young man’s side.  “Are you okay?”  Duo asked, pushing back sweat soaked hair to look into terrified
eyes.  He could clearly see the slave’s features now without the hindrance of the veil he had been wearing, and his face was just
as beautiful as his eyes were, despite the bruising to one of his cheeks.

“Get away from him!  He's mine!”  The man shouted.

“How much do you want for him?”  Duo asked, knowing that he couldn’t just let this continue.  Unlike the last time, he wasn’t
going to just watch.  He was going to do something.

“You want to buy this piece of trash?”  The man asked, his eyes glinting at the mention of money.

Duo nodded.  “How much did you pay for him?”  Duo asked, noting the look of greed on this man’s face.

The man shrugged.  “I won him in a poker game.”

Duo turned to the slave.  “How much were you purchased for by your previous owner?”  He asked, fearing that the young man
would lose consciousness soon.  He was hurt badly, and his eyes just seemed so pained, so afraid.

The slave opened his mouth, looking between his owner and Duo fearfully.  “My last owner paid two hundred silver for me.”  
He said, meekly. Then he quietly added.  “My first master paid a great deal more.”

Duo nodded, taking in the sight of the numerous injuries to the slave’s body, wincing at the sheer number of them that he could
see even in the darkness.  Lash marks . . . bruises . . . even if Duo bought him, the young man might not live.  Still, Duo knew
that he couldn’t just leave him here to die by this bastard’s hands.

Silently, Duo reached to his belt and pulled off his coin purse.  He tossed it to the man, watching as he caught it.  “There’s over
a thousand in there, gold and silver mixed.”  Duo said, reaching over and grabbing the slave’s garments from where they had
been thrown aside.  He helped the young man to get dressed, noticing that he was barely able to even stay upright in his kneeling

“You’ll pay this much for him?”  The man asked, then laughed.  “Go ahead and take him.”

Duo nodded, removing his own cloak and draping it around the slave’s shoulders, not caring that his blood would stain it.  It
was a cold night, and he didn’t want the slave to suffer any more than he already had.  “Come on.”  Duo said gently.

“Y-Yes, Master.”  The slave replied, slowly rising to his feet with Duo’s assistance.

Duo led him away, making sure to walk slowly so that the slave could keep up with him.  The damage to the slave’s feet hadn’t
gone by unnoticed by Duo, neither did the fact that the young man favored one leg more than the other, a sprain or a break
perhaps.  “What is your name?”  Duo asked, just wanting to keep the young man awake.

“I am Prince Heero Yuy . . . Son of King Odin.”  The slave mumbled.

Duo blinked, not sure if he had heard right.  This slave was a prince?  Duo didn’t know if he could believe it or not.  However,
with a gorgeous face like that, it wasn’t all that hard to believe.  “I’m Duo Maxwell.  You don’t have to worry anymore . . . no
one’s going to hurt you like this ever again.”  Duo promised, vowing to himself to give this slave a good home.

“Yes, Master.”  Heero replied quietly, his tone saying that he didn’t truly believe Duo’s words.  It wasn’t a surprise though, not
after how horribly his last master had treated him.

As he stepped out of the alleyway, Heero leaning heavily on him, Duo heard the loud crack of a whip.  Only a moment later, pain
slashed across his back.  Duo lost his balance, falling to his knees and unfortunately losing his hold on Heero who went tumbling
after him.

Duo spun, only to watch as that bastard that had hurt Heero, stalked over to him, the whip clenched in one hand.  “You think I’
m just gonna let you have him?  I don’t think so, pretty boy.  I never got to have my fun with him.”  The man sneered.

“I paid you for him!”  Duo shouted, aware that people had begun to file out into the street to see what the commotion was about.

“I’ll keep your money . . . but you ain’t getting him until I’ve had a taste of him.”  The man said, raising his whip.

Duo raised his arm just as the whip came down.  His tunic was torn open, the skin beneath it sliced into.  Duo gritted his teeth,
glaring at the man.  “I bought him!  He's mine!”  Duo replied, not willing to let that man anywhere near Heero again.

The man just shook his head.  “He’s yours when I tell you he’s yours.  Unless you want to take his place in my bed.”  He
laughed cruelly, raising the whip once again.

Duo turned, deciding that a lash to his back would be better than one to his face.  But nothing happened.  There was a sudden
commotion, the unmistakable sound of hooves against the ground, followed by a loud hated shout.

“Let go, you stupid beast!”  That man yelled.

Duo turned, wanting to see what was happening.  He smiled, seeing that Chaos had grabbed the whip with his teeth.  Chaos
always had been a loyal horse, and to hurt Duo was just not something you did when Chaos was nearby.

The man tried to pry his whip away from Chaos, but the horse just reared back, yanking it out of his hands.  He dropped the
whip only moments later.  When the man went to pick it up, Chaos reared up again, bringing his hooves down on the bastard,
the man’s cries quickly dying away as Chaos repeated the action.  Over and over again, Chaos trampled him, the sickening
sounds of snapping bones making Duo wince.  But the man had deserved it, he had been one cruel bastard.  First to drag his
slave almost to death, then to beat and nearly rape him . . . he should have had a slower more painful death, at least Duo thought

“Chaos!”  Duo called out, watching as the horse immediately stopped his assault on the corpse and walked over to him,
whinnying as he shook his head.  “Thank you, buddy.”  Duo smiled.

Hands gripped Duo’s arms, and he found himself standing.  Once he was up, he turned, only to see Otto the innkeeper standing
behind him.  “You go on home now, Lord Duo . . . I’ll take care of this mess.”  The older man said.

Duo nodded.  He hadn’t expected anything less from the people of this village.  They were his tenants after all.  Along with the
manor house, Meiran had given Duo a village and a few farms to see over.  The people here were very loyal, even if Duo was
seen as just some common jester.

“Thank you, Otto.”  Duo replied.  He stepped over to where Heero was standing, the slave having been helped up by one of the
other townsfolk.  He wrapped his arm around Heero’s waist, and carefully began to lead him over to the horse.  

“Can you ride?”  Duo asked his new slave.

“I’m not sure, Master . . . I will try my best.”  Heero replied, sounding so very tired.

Duo sighed, hoping that Heero would be able to stay conscious until they reached home.  Duo reached up and patted Chaos’s
side.  “Hey, buddy.  I know you don’t like extra passengers, but will you make an exception?”  Duo asked, speaking to his loyal
steed.  “You saw how that guy was treating him, didn’t you?  I’m not about to make him walk.  So would ya do this, for me?”

At Chaos’s whinny, Duo smiled, taking that as a yes.  

“Thanks, Chaos.”  Duo replied.

With some amount of difficulty, Duo managed to get both himself and Heero up onto Chaos without either of them falling
down.  Within a few minutes, they were on their way back to Duo’s manor.  Duo was behind Heero, wanting to be sure that the
slave wouldn’t fall off, also wanting to be able to keep an eye on him.  He knew that Heero was tired, but feared that
unconsciousness would not be a good thing in his current condition.

“So, you’re a prince?”  Duo asked, just trying to keep Heero talking, to prevent him from falling asleep.

“Yes, Master.”  Heero replied tiredly.

“Then how’d you get to be a slave?  Was your kingdom overthrown or something?”  Duo asked.

Heero shook his head.  “No . . . I was kidnaped and sold.  W-Who rules here, Master?”

“Why do you want to know?”  Duo asked, curious as to why Heero would care.  He didn’t even care that Heero had changed
the subject.  It was obvious that he didn’t want to talk about his own past.

“I want to know how far away from home I am.”  Heero answered.  

Duo smirked.  “These are the lands of Queen Meiran.”  Duo said proudly.

Heero gasped.  “The Sorceress Queen?  And you are in her service . . . Master?”

“Yes, she is a sorceress, and I am her loyal court jester.”  Duo said, leaving out the fact that he had other duties as well,
assassination of enemies and other such things.

“Hn.”  Was all that Heero said in response.

A short time later, they reached Duo’s manor.  A servant was waiting outside as Duo rode up.  He helped Duo in getting Heero
off of Chaos, making sure that he stayed standing while Duo dismounted.  “Have Hilde sent to my chambers . . . and make sure
that Chaos is tended to.”  Duo ordered, although he was unsure if any of the servants would be able to handle Chaos.  The horse
didn’t usually let anyone other than Duo near him.  Duo sighed, knowing there was nothing he could so about it now . . . he had
to take care of Heero as soon as possible.

“Yes, my lord.”  The servant replied, bowing.

Duo took a look at Heero.  The slave was barely conscious, his body shivering as he fought to remain standing under his own
power.  Duo shook his head.  “Sorry, about this, Heero . . . but you look too tired to do this on your own.”  Duo said, quickly
sweeping Heero into his arms.

Heero grunted, but said nothing in reply.  Instead, he just gripped the edges of the cloak that Duo had loaned to him, using his
bloodied fingers to pull it tighter around himself as Duo carried him into the house.

Duo quickly made his way to his own chambers.  Once inside, he stepped over to the curtained-off area.  Carefully, he set
Heero down on his feet, knowing that he couldn’t leave him standing like that for long.  He pulled aside the black curtain,
revealing yet another of Meiran’s gifts, a bathing room.  It was covered in white tiles with diamonds and amethysts seeming to
glitter amongst them.  Everything was always smooth to the touch, and yet it was impossible to slip on any surface.  The water
was always warm and clean, everything immaculate.  Magic was sometimes a wonderful thing, in Duo’s honest opinion.

The door opened, and Duo turned to watch as Hilde walked in.  “Hilde, can you give me a hand with my new slave?”  Duo
asked, removing Heero’s veil.

Hilde nodded, then looked at Heero.  She gasped, then rushed forward.  She paused when she stood right in front of Heero,
taking a moment to look at him carefully.  Then, she suddenly spat in his face, glaring angrily at him.

“You know him?”  Duo asked, blinking in shock.

“Yes . . . he was my first master!”  Hilde seethed.  “He wanted nothing to do with me, wouldn’t so much as look at me.  So his
father, the King, sent me back to Crossroads and the auction house.  It was his fault that guard decided to force himself on me
during the ride to Crossroads!”

“Hilde . . .”  Duo started, wanting to stop her now before she did any more damage to Heero, mentally or physically.

Hilde didn’t seem willing to listen though.  She smirked at Heero.  “So you’re a slave now?  Too bad Duo’s your first master . .
. you should go through what I went through when you decided you didn’t want me!  You are SO lucky, you arrogant
bastard!”  She raised her hand, delivering a strong, hard slap across his face.

Heero merely stood there and took it, not saying a word.  He turned away, his body shuddering as he apparently fought back his
tears.  Duo could see his face, the way his eyes were tightly closed.  Duo knew well the pain of hiding emotions . . . he was an
expert in that field himself.

Duo turned back to Hilde, ready to yell at her, only to see that she was staring down at her own hand in shock.  Blood was
staining her fingers.  Duo turned quickly, gently forcing Heero to turn his head.  Brushing away some of the hair, Duo saw a
head injury that he hadn’t noticed before.  Now he was happy that he hadn’t let Heero fall asleep before . . . this could be serious.

Duo once again turned to Hilde, angry with her for assuming things.  “Hilde, I was NOT his first master!”  Duo shouted,
reaching out and pulling at the cloak that covered Heero’s body.  It fell away from Heero’s body easily, dropping to the floor to
pool around his battered body.

Hilde gasped in shock, her hand flying up to cover her mouth as she took in the sight of Heero’s injuries.  In this well-lit room,
every cut and bruise could be seen clearly, each of the lash marks standing out despite the blood that covered him.  His hands
were shaking at his sides, blood dripping from them, his legs and feet badly injured.

Duo sighed.  “Can you help me get him cleaned up?”  Duo asked.

Hilde nodded.  “Yes, of course, Duo.”  She said quickly, moving forward and gently taking hold of Heero’s wrists, lifting his
hands so that she could see them better.  “What did this?”  She asked.

“There was glass on the ground.  My last master ground my hands onto the shards with his feet.”  Heero replied tiredly.

“And your feet?”  Hilde asked.

“That bastard dragged him behind a horse!”  Duo answered for him.  “How long did he have you do that?”

“Since he won me in the poker game . . . in Crossroads.”  Heero stated.

Duo blinked.  “Crossroads?  That’s days away from here, even if you don’t stop to rest at night.  What kind of a sick bastard
does that to another person?”  Duo asked, more to himself than anyone else.  He shook his head.  “Come on, let’s tend to his
injuries.”  He took hold of Heero’s wrists, “Hold your hands up so I can get these shackles off.”  Duo said, reaching behind him
and pulling his lock picks from his braid.  Within moments, the shackles clattered to the ground.

Duo smirked at Heero’s bewildered expression, but said nothing as he turned the young man and helped him to walk into the
bathing room.  Duo hastily stripped off his own clothes, watching as Hilde removed Heero’s only garment, his loincloth.  She
looked over at Duo.  “Oh God, you’re bleeding, Duo.”  She exclaimed.

Duo nodded.  “Yeah, Heero’s last master tried to rape him, even after I had paid for him.  Chaos stopped him.  We can worry
about my injuries after we tend to Heero.”

Hilde nodded, moving to hastily gather the objects they would need.  She set a number of bandages and salves by the bed for
later use, then retrieved soaps and drying cloths for the bath.  Once everything was set, she removed her own clothes and took a
step down into the water.  

Duo once again wound his arm around Heero’s waist, and cautiously began to guide him forward.  Hilde took hold of Heero’s
arms as soon as he was close enough, helping him to step down into the warm water.  As soon as he was deep enough, Hilde
and Duo urged Heero to sit on the steps, allowing him to take his weight off of his damaged feet.  Duo took a seat behind Heero,
his legs on either side of his body, to ensure that Heero didn’t fall over.

“Let me see your hands.”  Hilde said.

Heero slowly raised his hands.  Hilde gently took hold of one, turning it palm up and examined it.  She carefully ran her fingers
over the cuts, a moment later pulling a shard of glass from one of his fingers.

“There’s still some glass in them.”  Hilde commented while she worked to get rid of each piece of glass, setting the shards on
the edge of the bath.  After several long minutes, she had removed each and every piece.   She looked over Heero’s shoulder at
Duo.  “Wash him carefully.”  She said.

Duo nodded, leaning over and picking up some soap and a cloth while Hilde got one of each for herself.  They cleaned Heero off
as tenderly as they could.  However, with the number of injuries that Heero had, it was difficult to avoid them.  Heero was silent
for the most part, but he did whimper and flinch when one of them touched a particularly sore spot.  Hilde took care of most of
Heero’s body, while Duo took care of his back and hair.

When they were done, Hilde took hold of his arms, above his wrists and led him deeper into the water, Duo moving along with
them to make sure Heero would be okay.  “Close your eyes.”  Hilde said, just before they dipped Heero under, rinsing the suds
from his body.

Then they led him out of the bath again, Duo all but holding him up as Hilde carefully dried him, wrapping towels around herself
and Duo before they took him back to the bedroom.  Duo was worried about making him walk, but unless he wanted to open
the wounds on his back again by picking him up, Duo couldn’t do anything about it.  

Heero sat on the edge of the bed, then the two of them tended his wounds, applying salve and wrapping bandages around him.  
By the time they were done, he was nearly totally covered in bandages.  Around his torso, his feet, his hands and wrists . . .
there was even one wrapped around his head.  Hilde then tended to Duo’s injuries, applying salve and wrapping bandages to
cover the slashes on his arm and back.

“Lay back.”  Duo whispered, urging his new slave to rest.  “Get some sleep.”

“Yes, Master.”  Heero replied, his eyes falling shut, quickly drifting off into unconsciousness.

Duo sighed, discarding his towel and climbing into bed as well.  He leaned over and reached out, curling his fingers through
Heero’s damp hair as he watched him sleep.  With all the injuries that the young man had received, Duo was still unsure if he
would survive.  Duo could only hope for the best though, so he settled down beside the young man, closing his eyes and falling
asleep as he continued to worry over the health of his new slave.

To Be Continued . . .