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

Notes:  Quatre rests in the carriage on the way to Meiran’s castle.  Trowa and Heero help Duo to take a bath.

Servitude, Retribution, and Enchantment

Part Forty-Seven

Quatre sighed in contentment as Nataku purred softly under his ear.  Languidly, he swept his fingers through the tiger’s fur.  He
was curled up on one of the carriage’s comfortable seats with a fur blanket over his body to ward off any chill that Nataku’s
warmth didn’t dispel.  

Meiran and Wufei were sitting across from him, talking softly in what Quatre believed to be their native tongue.  He didn’t
understand their words, but didn’t feel left out of the conversation because Meiran did address him every so often.  Whenever
he replied, both she and Wufei would speak to him in the language they all had in common.

Right now, he was feeling tired and had been dozing off and on.  To be honest, he still felt anxious about leaving Trowa behind,
but his beloved master had promised to avoid the forests until they were reunited.  Quatre shivered from the memories of his
premonition.  He did not want to see that vision come to pass.  Quatre understood why Trowa had not accompanied them.  
Meiran’s words had rung true when she had confessed her reasons for her decision.  Trowa had a duty to fulfill and was needed
at Duo’s estate.  Quatre would not interfere with that duty.

Quatre blinked away the haziness in his eyes, looking to watch Meiran.  The young Queen also seemed fatigued, and Wufei’s
concern for her was obvious, as was the fact that the handsome young man was trying not to pry into the whys and wherefores
of her ails.  Quatre didn’t know for certain what troubled her, but he did have a suspicion, one that left a creeping chill to run up
his spine.  If he was right, then it was quite serious, and something that needed to be tended to soon or there would be dire

Meiran’s expression brightened as she glanced out the window of the carriage.  “Ah!  Quatre, my little brother, we’re here.”  
She smiled warmly at him.  “Tonight, you’ll be tucked into the softest bed I can find and Nataku will guard your sleep and
reinforce your shields so you can relax a little more.”  Then she leaned back in her seat.  “That is . . . after I discover the cause
for your illness.”  She turned her smile to Wufei.  “And you have no need to worry, my Wiseman.  Quatre is not mortally
wounded, nor fatally ill, so I have no need to take drastic measures to heal his ills.”

Wufei nodded in satisfaction and smiled in return.  “Treize will be pleased to see that we have returned safely.”  He glanced at
Meiran, only to frown at the blush on her cheeks.  “What is the matter?”

Meiran sighed.  “I was worried that Treize would fuss and insist on a whole regimen of guards, so I didn’t even tell him we
were leaving.  I’m hoping he’ll realize it was an urgent matter.”

Wufei snorted.  “It was an urgent matter, but you should have let him know where we were going.  If only to send a page with
a written note.  There was enough time to do that.  We were at your jester’s home for an entire night.”

“I didn’t think of it.”  She lifted the heavy cloth covering the window of the carriage and peered out, then let out a soft
exclamation that had Wufei staring at her in wonder.

“Was there a reason for that?” he asked, blinking at her.

Meiran sank into her seat, sighing again.  “Treize is riding out to meet us.”

Quatre smiled a little at her tone.  “I take it you’re in trouble?”

Wufei snorted with a similar smile.  “Yes, trouble would be an appropriate term.”  His smile softened when the carriage slowed
and - after there were sounds of a horse being tied to the carriage and some conversation between the driver and another man -
the door was thrown open.  Quatre looked at him, the man he assumed to be Treize.  He was a handsome man, with a very
worried expression on his attractive face.

“There you are!  I was worried sick!  Are you both all right?”  He cupped Meiran’s cheek with one hand and Wufei’s with the

Meiran chuckled.  “Treize, beloved, sit and ride with us.  Wufei and I are both unharmed.  There was a slight emergency with
Duo that needed to be attended to and I went to see if I could lend my aid.”  She motioned to Quatre, who was still lying on the
seat across from her.  “While I was there, I received quite a pleasant surprise.  Trowa arrived with Quatre.”

Quatre smiled sleepily at the tall man, but didn’t have the strength to push himself to a sitting position.  He was simply weary.  “I’
m pleased to meet you,” he said, blinking back the sleepiness.  “Meiran told me much about you when she visited me several
years back.”

Treize smiled as well.  “I am likewise pleased to make your acquaintance.”  Then he turned back to Meiran.  “What was the
emergency?  Did Heero have a relapse?”

Meiran shook her head.  “No, it was Duo.”  Her expression turned troubled.  “Treize, did you ever suspect that Duo had a
problem with alcohol?”

Treize sighed as he climbed up into the carriage and sank down in the small space left on the seat where Quatre was laying.  As
soon as he was seated, the carriage began to move again and Quatre had to suppress a feeling of nausea.

“For quite a while now,” Treize said.  “But I didn’t want to make any baseless accusations.  Is he sick?”

Meiran’s lips quirked.  “Heero caught him drinking from a flask and promptly threw the alcohol away, which started the whole
situation that called my attention.  Trowa is still with Duo to make sure that Heero and Hilde have the support they need to see to
Duo’s well being.  The staff, they won’t listen to Heero because of his status.  And Hilde would be given grief over hers as well.”

Treize nodded and ran a hand through his hair.  “It’s a sad but true fact that most servants will not heed a slave, or even a
former slave.  It’s good that someone was able to stop Duo’s drinking though.”

Quatre began dozing again.  He tried to stay in the here and now, wanted to listen to the conversation going on around him.  But
he was tired and nauseous and a throbbing ache was beginning to grow in his head.  However, as hard as he tried to stay in the
present, he could not and he found himself falling into a troubled sleep full of worry over his handsome master, Trowa.


Meiran worriedly watched as Quatre slipped off to sleep again.  His rest was not peaceful though and that concerned her.  
Ignoring Wufei and Treize as they argued over a chess game they had played two days prior, she let her gaze sweep across
Quatre’s unconscious form, trying to discern his illness by sight alone.  She had a suspicion as to what Dekim Barton had been
attempting to do that night Trowa had killed the detestable man.  But she didn’t want to act on that assumption until she knew
for certain.  Once he was safely in the castle, she could perform the necessary spells to discover the truth.

“Meiran?  What is troubling you?” Wufei’s voice was soft and full of concern.  “You said that Quatre is not fatally ill or mortally
wounded.  So why do you have that look on your face?”

Meiran sighed.  “Because I suspect the cause of Quatre’s discomfort.  And it can be seen as both a good or a bad thing
depending on how he takes it.”  She shook her head.  “I fear the strain it will put on his spirit.  But, there’s no point in worrying
over it now, not until I can look him over properly.”  She smiled when Treize reached across and grasped her hand.

“You’ll worry anyway,” Treize said, though his voice didn’t even hold a hint of scolding.  There was merely a warm
understanding in his voice.  “You’ll worry, because he’s your brother and you worry for all of your brothers as if they were
truly of your blood.”

The rest of the ride was made in silence, but the affection flowing between the three conscious humans went beyond mere
words.  There was no need for talk when there was such an understanding between them.  Just as there was no need for them
to speak of the concerns that everyone felt for Quatre’s frail health.

When the carriage stopped, Treize was the first to get out.  He helped Wufei to step down.  Wufei, in turn, assisted Meiran after
Nataku had gently extricated herself from underneath the slumbering blonde and easily jumped out.  Only when the others were
out did Treize step back inside and carefully gather Quatre into his arms.

“He’s so light,” Treize murmured, brushing his thumb across one of Quatre’s bony shoulders before adjusting the youth’s body
to comfortably rest in his embrace.

“He does not look as if he has eaten in weeks,” Wufei stated, stepping toward Treize and fixing the fur blanket to more
thoroughly cover Quatre’s form.  “Though we saw for ourselves that he does eat.  He had dinner with us last night.”

Meiran sighed, shaking her head.  “He barely touched a morsel, Wufei.  He ate only when he noticed that someone was watching
him, or when Trowa himself offered a bit of food his way.  And even then, he merely nibbled at his share.  Most of the time he
spent at dinner he was picking apart a roll, turning it into a pile of breadcrumbs upon his plate, covering up the remnants of the
meal he should have eaten.”

A chill wind came then.  Meiran pulled the collar of her cloak tighter around her neck, frowning.  She had never much cared for
winter, though snow was quite lovely to look at.  Winter had come early this year.  “Treize, please.  It is far too cold out here to
stand around and chatter about his ails.”

“Quite right, my love,” Treize nodded, a shiver coursing through his body just before he began to walk.

Wufei stepped over beside Meiran and wrapped a strong arm around her waist.  The young queen smiled, appreciating his help
more than she’d care to admit.  She said nothing, merely accepting his assistance.  Nataku strode alongside them, lending
strength in her very presence.  Meiran longed for the day when she would no longer require these crutches from her loved
ones.  She did not have much time left to solve her quandary.  All she needed to do was discover a way to amend things.  If she
could manage to do it without Wufei or Treize finding out, all the better.  But now was not the time to consider these things.  
Now, she had Quatre to worry about.  She would help him.  Her own problems could wait until he was on the road to recovery
at least.


Dorothy glared at the slave that lay unconscious by her feet.  She wanted to kick him, just for the fun of it, but in his condition
she could do more harm than her momentary pleasure was worth.  She had wasted enough effort in keeping him alive.  There
was no sense in hurting him more severely now.  Besides, she might need him in the future.  No, she knew that she would need
him later on.  There was one last thing she could take from him, one of the most powerful and potent of ingredients.  Now was
simply not the appropriate time to start harvesting.  He needed to regain his strength again first.

She let out a sigh as she bent just enough to roll him onto his back.  The majority of his injuries remained.  Yet, she had healed
the most serious.  The violent tears and internal bleeding left by Alex’s enthusiasm were gone, the breaks in his thighs and hips
were mending as if they had never snapped under the pressure of Alex’s unnaturally enlarged organ.  It would be a few days yet
before he could walk, a week or more before the pain dissipated.  But then again, she didn’t mind seeing him in pain.  All the
better in fact.

“Put him in the carriage.  I suppose I should keep a watch over his injuries to make sure he mends well enough.”

“Yes, Mistress,” Alex’s voice responded.

“Put a veil over his face.  Bind his wrists and legs with chains,” Dorothy commanded, feeling irritated by standing around.  
“Leave him unclothed, but cover him with a blanket.  I can’t have him becoming ill, but he doesn’t deserve any frivolous

“Are we leaving now, Dorothy?”  Relena spoke with her melodious tones.

Dorothy turned to her, happy to not watch Mueller’s disgusting form any longer.  Relena was purely under Dorothy’s control
once again.  If not for the sight of the bandage around her head and the one binding the wound to her hand, Dorothy would love
her visage all the more.  “Yes, my love.  By tomorrow afternoon we should be happily settled in my Grandfather’s lands again.”  
She had never liked traveling much.  She was looking forward to being in her Grandfather’s home again, to be in her own room
again.  Being with Relena was wonderful, but she did miss her homeland.

“Put your cloak on.”  Dorothy smiled, watching as Relena did just as she had been told to do.  While the young queen put her
cloak on, Dorothy garbed herself with her own.  With a sigh, she turned back to watch as Alex tended to the injured slave.

Alex was not gentle as he fixed a veil on the youth’s face.  Dorothy smiled at his indifference toward the slave that loved him.  It
pleased her to watch how Alex treated him now.  He roughly wrapped a blanket around the slave, covering him from toe to
chin.  He was careful around Mueller’s hips and thighs, but that was understandable, given the fact that Mueller’s bones had
been broken a scarce few hours ago.  Alex most likely did not want to cause Dorothy to have to mend the breaks again.

Once Mueller was efficiently covered, Alex swept his limp body into his arms.  Mueller groaned loudly in his unconscious state,
his features twisting in pain.  Dorothy smirked at the sound and sight of his discomfort.  She raised her hand as Alex stood.  
“Wait,” she said, taking a step closer.  Alex remained where he was, waiting patiently as Dorothy pressed the back of her hand
to Mueller’s forehead.  She sighed in annoyance, feeling that he was quite hot.  “Ask the innkeeper for broth and try to feed it to
him.  Don’t force it.  For now, be gentle in your care of him.  Gather some blankets and make a suitable bed for him on the
carriage floor.  He’s far too warm for my liking.”  She didn’t want to be kind to him.  But then again, she couldn’t have him
dying on her when there was much she needed him for.  It would be far too tedious to train a new slave.  And she had her
hopes set on tormenting him more once he was healthier.

“Yes, Mistress,” Alex said, bowing his head.

Once he was out of the room, Dorothy shrugged off her cloak again.  There was no sense in going to the carriage now if they
wouldn’t be leaving yet.  Relena was sitting on the edge of the bed, prim and proper with her ankles delicately crossed and her
hands resting on her lap.  Dorothy smiled, then sat in a nearby chair.  She knew that Relena wouldn’t do anything without her
say-so, so she simply sat and opened a book she had left on the table beside her seat.  She’d give Alex a few minutes to get
Mueller settled in before she and Relena went down.

When she was suitably bored with the book, she stood again.  She put on her cloak and tucked the book beneath her arm.  
“Come, Relena.  It’s time to leave,” she bade, waiting for her beautiful queen to reach her side before they left the room together.

“I hope your slave recovers,” the Innkeeper called as Dorothy and Relena exited the building.  The man had already been paid, so
Dorothy saw no reason to reply to him.  She didn’t see the use of idle chatter.

Some servant she didn’t care to know the name of opened the door to the carriage for them as they approached, then aided the
two women to step up inside.  Dorothy and Relena took their seats and only when she was comfortable did Dorothy let her eyes
settle on the two men taking up the space on the floor across from her seat.

Mueller was lying on a nest of blankets, his eyes just barely cracked open.  Alex was kneeling on the floor, propping the slave’s
head and shoulders up with his knees.  In the blonde’s hand was a wooden bowl, in which was most likely a broth of some
kind.  Alex was gently holding the edge of the bowl to Mueller’s cracked lips, trying to urge the slave to drink the steaming
liquid.  When the bowl was empty, Alex eased himself from underneath the brunette, tenderly helping to lay him down amidst
the blankets again.  Mueller simply lay where Alex settled him, his eyes falling shut quickly.

“Let’s get going now, Alex,” Dorothy said, leaning back in her seat.

“Yes, Mistress,” Alex replied, saying nothing more as he exited the carriage.

Only moments later, they were on their way once again.  Dorothy allowed herself to relax as the carriage sped along the
countryside.  Soon they’d be home again.  She could hardly wait.  With a smile firmly fixed on her face, she wrapped her arm
around Relena’s shoulders and pulled the young queen close, happiness welling inside of her as Relena cuddled close.  She was
looking forward to being home again.  Hopefully her employer would be able to help with the problems she found herself facing.


Heero looked on as Hilde checked the fresh scratches that Duo had made to his arms.  It irritated Heero, Hilde and Trowa when
Duo scratched himself like that, but there was little that they could do to stop him, short of watching him each and every minute
of the day.  They were all glad that he was faring better at least.  He was able to keep his food down now.  And the spasms in
his muscles wasn’t so bad anymore, nor was the trembling that had set into his body.  He was still feverish and weak, but his
health was getting better.

“Duo, you really shouldn’t scratch your arms like this,” Hilde chided.

“I was itchy,” Duo pouted, looking very much like a kicked puppy.

Hilde shook her head, sighing softly.  “It doesn’t look too bad.  I don’t think they’ll scar.”  She bit her lip, looking thoughtful.  “I’
ll apply a salve to the scratches, but I think he needs a bath first.  Would the two of you mind bathing him?”

The visiting lord, Trowa, gulped and took a step back away from the bed.  As if knowing the man’s reason for such apparent
fright, Duo gave him a gentle smile.  “Don’t worry, Trowa.  There ain’t no one here that’ll hurt you.  But if you don’t trust me,
I’m sure Heero can take care of me all by himself.”

Trowa let out a shaky breath.  “Duo, you really know how to make someone feel guilty.”  He shook his head.  “As capable as he
is, I don’t think Heero should be carrying you around with his injured ankle.  I may not be comfortable with this, but I will help
you.”  He approached the bed again and pulled the blankets away from Duo’s form.

“While you two are helping him, I’ll change the bedding,” Hilde stated, pulling the blankets fully from the bed and piling them on
the floor.

Heero stood, limping closer to Duo’s side, only to pause when Trowa told him not to strain himself.  He didn’t like being
useless, but he stood back and watched as Trowa took on Duo’s weight, helping the ailing lord out of bed and to stand upon his
own two feet.  He followed, walking carefully, as Trowa helped Duo into the bathing chamber.

“Can you stand on your own?” Trowa asked.

Duo nodded.  “Yeah, but not for long.”

Trowa eased his arms from around Duo then.  It was quick work getting Duo undressed.  He was only wearing a thin nightshirt
and nothing more.  Still, Heero didn’t like the idea of leaving Duo to stand under his own power just yet and moved forward to
help steady the young man.  Duo gave him a quick thanks and reached up to shakily pull the veil from Heero’s face.  “You won’
t be needing that,” he said, then gestured to the remaining garments, Heero’s and Trowa’s.  “You two also won’t be needing all
of that either.”

Heero had to wonder how Duo could be so secure in his nudity.  Heero could already feel his face warming with a blush, his
hands shaking as he stripped off the one simple garment that he wore.  Trowa was faring no better with the concept of
stripping.  The tall youth’s face had gone incredibly pale.  He was trembling almost as badly as Heero was as he shed his
clothes, his eyes focused completely on the floor.

Duo raised his hands, cupping Trowa’s face in either of his palms.  “Trowa, you know that I would never hurt you, right?”

Trowa nodded, though he never raised his gaze from the floor.

“Then why are you scared of me?” Duo asked, brushing his thumbs across Trowa’s skin.  “I know all about what happened to
you, what those mercenaries did and what they were going to do to you before Meiran took you in.  Even though I was sick
then, I did pay attention to the conversations going on around me.  I heard Meiran and Treize talking with Catherine about you . .
. about the mercenaries.  Do you think I’d ever do that to you?”

The tall brunette looked up then, but only for a brief instant.  “No, Duo.  I know you would never even think to . . . do that to
me.  I have just never been comfortable without something to cover me.”

Heero felt completely lost.  He didn’t know what these two were talking about.  But he figured it was a personal matter, so he
chose to keep his mouth shut and stay out of it.

Duo smirked, shaking his head.  He let his hands fall from Trowa’s face as his eyes trailed downward to look at Trowa’s body.  
“If you think you’re lacking in some manner, let me tell you now that you are definitely not.  In fact, Quatre is a very lucky man
to have your company in bed.”

Trowa blushed a deep crimson.  “Don’t say such things, Duo”

Heero didn’t much approve of Duo talking about Quatre in such a manner, but again said nothing.  He took a quick glance along
Trowa’s body, curious.  He had to admit that Duo’s appraisal had been correct.  Trowa was not lacking in any manner that
Heero could see.  Heero was no judge of beauty or physical attributes, but Trowa’s body was lean and physically fit, and quite
well-endowed.  In fact, Trowa’s physique reminded him of the statues that Heero’s father had acquired throughout the years
and the pictures of artwork he had seen in many of the books in his father’s library.  Those had all been samples of great beauty,
or so his tutors had often told him.  If Heero were to believe their words, and he did, then Trowa was also a sample of such
beauty.  Naturally, he once again chose to keep silent though.  He did not think his words would help to ease Trowa’s
nervousness over his nudity.

“We should get into the bath, sirs.  Master Duo should get back to bed,” Heero advised, focusing his gaze on a small scar he’d
never noticed on Duo’s shoulder before.  It was nothing really, a small discoloration of his skin, but Heero was too nervous to
take his focus away from it.  Better to let his eyes linger on one spot, than to break out into a panic over the fact that he’d soon
be in the bath with these two naked men.

“You’re right, Heero,” Trowa agreed.  “Come on, Duo.”  He wrapped his arm around Duo’s back, easing him away from Heero
and toward the pool.  Heero followed.

Trowa helped Duo to sit on one of the stairs.  Heero took a seat beside his master.  He wanted to help, but his ankle was paining
him again.  Trowa said nothing as he gathered soap and washing cloths, handing one of each to Heero.  The two of them
washed Duo’s body, then his hair, rinsing him thoroughly.

Heero found his mind wandering as he and Trowa led Duo from the bath and began to dry his body, wrapping his long hair in a
cloth.  Quatre’s advice was ringing in his ears.  He didn’t know if it was wise to tell Duo the truth about his curse.  But on the
other hand, he couldn’t deny that he felt an attraction toward his master.

He was broken from his wayward thoughts when Trowa called his name.  He blushed, realizing that he had just been standing
there doing nothing at all.  “Sorry,” he mumbled, feeling foolish.  He quickly went back to the task at hand.  As soon as the three
of them were dry and Trowa and Heero were dressed, they helped Duo back to the bedchamber.  Heero didn’t see the sense in
dressing Duo in the sweaty nightshirt he had been wearing, so he alone remained unclothed.  As it was, Duo was barely awake.  
So he probably wasn’t even aware of his state of undress.

They settled him in bed, where Hilde tended to his scratches.  Trowa convinced Heero to lie down as well, placing a pillow
beneath his sore and swollen ankle.  “Lie back and relax for a while.  I’ll be back to check on Duo in a few hours.  Now though,
I feel I need a rest.  With taking care of Quatre, I haven’t been sleeping much.”

“Yes, sir,” Heero responded.

Hilde chuckled, fixing the blankets to cover both Heero and Duo.  “All of you need a good long nap.  I’ll wake you when lunch
is ready.”  With that, she grasped Trowa’s arm and ushered him out of the room, not waiting to hear any arguments and
completely ignoring when Trowa began to splutter in indignation.

Heero turned to look at Duo as he heard the door closing shut behind the two who had just left.  He let his gaze linger on Duo’s
slumbering features, lapsing into thought again.  He remembered the events of a few nights ago, the feel of Duo’s hand
caressing him.  He bit his lip, wondering if everything Duo could do to him would feel just as good.  Perhaps he should have
paid attention when Duo had been trying to teach him the duties of a pleasure slave.  He just hadn’t thought he’d ever be
interested in a physical relationship with Duo, or any man for that matter.  He didn’t want to be used for a moment of pleasure.  
Now that he had gotten to know Duo better, he was beginning to doubt that was all that Duo wanted.  Duo had had ample
opportunities to throw Heero down and take what he wanted.  But he hadn’t forced Heero into anything, even when he’d had the
perfect chance, when Heero had all but offered himself up that night in front of the mirror.  No, he had done only as he had
promised that night.  And when Heero had kissed him only minutes after they had climbed into bed for the night, he again had
done nothing to Heero.

Heero was beginning to think that he would like to submit to Duo, despite the consequences that loomed over him should he give

To Be Continued . . .