Zechs woke up as he felt someone tugging at him. When he opened his eyes he noticed there were two persons dragging him by his arms across the courtyard. In a first reaction he wanted to hit one of them, but something was cutting his wrists. Still very dizzy he couldn't really make out what it was, only that it hurt.
Then his memories of what had happened before he lost consciousness returned.
"Treize?" he whispered.
There was no telling what they had done to him. Suppose they have killed…
"What the hell!? He's already woken up! You should have hit him harder, ass hole," one of his captors said to the other. Zechs pretended to be still very out of it, but was already regaining his senses. They're bringing me…never! The men walked quicker and kept on dragging him along by his arms. When one of them pushed his chin up to see how his condition was he quickly spit him in the face, knowing very well he would not react like a stoic Oz officer to this insult.
"You stupid fuck!"
The man raised his hand to hit him in the face and just a hint of a second before it reached its goal, Zechs dodged it by moving his head to the left. The man lost a little of his balance and Zechs used this momentary weakness to forcefully place a knee in his stomach. Then he let himself fall to the ground and roll to the side. His other opponent was looking perplexed at his actions and was still assessing how to react when the blonde already pushed himself up to stand. Because his hands were tied together it wasn't easy, but he managed and quickly ran away. The other came running after him now, but soon lost distance on the lightning count. He ran over the courtyard, heading for the gate of the castle.
Zechs decided he first had to make sure his hands became untied. And then I will come for you, Treize. The man behind him fired his gun, but wasn't even close in his aim. Adrenaline shot through his body, only about 40 yards left and he would be out of the castle. The thought of where they wanted to lock him up only enhanced his speed. Almost… almost there… Then suddenly a door went open in the little building next to the gate and a surprised soldier came out. Zechs recognized him as one of the woman's lackeys and ran around him quickly as he started charging for him. Now others came out as well, including the woman.
He managed to avoid being grabbed by one, but his dodging movements made him vulnerable for the kick another gave to his ankles. Zechs fell forward and unable to break the fall with his tied hands landed flat on his chin. It was like burning spikes shot through his face and chest as he made contact with the stone floor. But it wasn't the worst. He knew what they were going to do to him now.
Frantically he struggled as his shoulders were grabbed. He heard the woman scream to the two men, who had been in charge of locking him up first. When she was finished, the one whom he had kneed in his stomach walked to him and kicked him roughly in his stomach.
"That will teach you, you son of a bitch!" he said as he stared at him angrily.
But the words didn't matter to him. Three of them were dragging him to that dreaded place and the rest of was watching closely. There was no way in hell he was going to escape now and the fear of his nightmares came over him again. Only now it was much stronger, for he knew it was going to be real this time. He tried to wriggle himself lose from his captors and for a moment they had to stop walking to contain him. A fist connected with his face, but he also managed to kick someone against his knees. Behind him he heard the woman laugh.
"What a spitfire, maybe that's what Khushrenada likes about him so much."
One of the men wasn't so amused when Zechs bit him in his arm and angrily drew a knife Without being able to avoid it he stabbed it inside his upper leg. Zechs let out a painful moan and gritted his teeth, desperately looking for a way out. The woman now became annoyed with the display and tapped her foot on the ground.
"Oh, just hit him out."
And the world became dark once again.
This time it remained black when he opened his eyes, at least for a moment. His whole body was still sour from the beating he had received. There were no more people around him and the first thing that struck him was the wetness of the floor. Then he smelled it. God no! Everything but…! Anxious he looked around him. But he knew exactly where he was, for he had been there so many times in his dreams. His eyes started to get familiar with the dark and saw a few things. Many of the corpses around him had decayed years ago, but he recognized the face of one of his former trainees at Khushrenada castle. They've brought in new ones, just to make me…! Calm stay calm! Remember what you are, you're a soldier! Treize? Where are you? Are you alive? Have they…!? Calm, damn it!
He breathed in and out a few times and tried to think like the officer he was. His hands were tied and they had apparently let the wall he had crawled out of years ago collapse again. As he tugged his hands he found out they were tied to the wall as well. Don't panic! I have to get that lose first. He shoved himself through the dirty rainwater and closer to the wall. There were some rocks sticking out of it and he frantically began to rub the wire against it, in an attempt to erode it. He tried to banish all the information his senses were giving him from his mind. There is nothing around you, nothing! Just cut cut cut! He had no idea how much time passed as he did it. But the wire was strong and didn't give in. The little light shining through the hole in the ceiling was taken away again. Night. It's dark again, I…calm! It began to rain and he thirstily caught some of the water on his lips as it came through the hole.
His wrists had started bleeding hours ago, because of his rough rubbing against the stone. But he still kept on, urging himself to think of nothing else. But it was getting harder with every passing minute and it was when he heard the noise of something falling that he looked up and lost himself. A few rats came in and started eating from the corpses. The distraction had snapped him out of his trance and now everything truly hit him. The smell he had tried so desperately not to smell violated his nose. He retched and then threw up violently over the floor. When he was finished he pushed himself up and stared at the rats bewildered. But unlike the first time he had been locked up in there, there was nothing he could do to chase them away. He couldn't even reach them and this realization added to his feeling of helplessness. Panting heavily he pushed his back against the wall, bringing his tied arms up to cover his face.
The rain poured over him and he started shaking because of the cold. I am going to die here…
Alone. He was six years old again, only surrounded by inescapable pain, fear and shame. He rocked against the wall, still keeping his arms against him, but unable to block out the sounds of the rats, the smell and the cold. Vaguely a thought came to him. Lucky… Treize doesn't see me… like this. But it was soon lost amidst chaos.
It was the bird sitting on his face that pushed Treize over the edge from sleep to awakeness, not the rain. The first thing he registered was the pain in his shoulder. I was shot. Then the events came to him back at once. He stood on his feet within a second, causing the bird to fly away hastily. I have to get Milliardo, but.... where am I? He looked at the trees around him, and the trees around those trees. In a forest, but where? Am I still in Sanc?
He remembered waking up once after they had drugged him. Immediately another needle had been pushed inside his flesh, before he had been able to move. How long is it since that happened? He didn't know, but he did know they had taken out the bullet from his shoulder and treated the wound. It only caused him to worry more. So they really want me to be alive to see what monstrosities they have done to him. He climbed up an elm tree. It was the largest he could find. A branch cracked, but he didn't care, didn't even notice it. When he was on top of it he looked around. Trees, more trees. It was not easy to look with all the dark clouds in the air. To the west: only trees, to the south: only trees, to the east: only...wait! Above those trees he saw something that appeared to be a tower. His eyes narrowed. It's the castle! He more jumped than climbed of the elm.
He had to get there as soon as possible. Who knows how long he is already locked in? The drugs still tried to keep his legs from moving, but he didn't care. He could hardly believe what had happened. Of all the things… they had to do that to Milliardo. Treize didn't want to think about the effect it would have on him, but he knew he couldn't really expect him to be sane anymore, even if he was still alive. But even if that's true… I will take care of you. He started walking, still very effected by the stunning effects of the drugs. Have...to....get....there. The sun went down and he continued advancing to the east.
Images of Milliardo being locked up in the place of his horrors again drove him to make step after step, faster and faster until he was finally running. He didn't want to think about what they had done to him. The sun showed her face again and he was still running. Exhaustion now aided the drugs in keeping him back but he still continued.
Finally the trees made way for grassland. He could see the city in full view now. The castle where his Milliardo was confined rose above the houses like a volcano. God, don't let me be too late. He reached the outskirts of the capital and ran through a street and another. Then a female officer stopped him.
"This is a restricted area, you are not......Your Excellency!?"
She stared at him perplexed for a second and then flipped open her communicator.
"Colonel Une, the general has arrived in sector D5. He's in bad shape."
She turned to Treize.
"Sir, Colonel Une is coming."
Treize first wanted to continue moving, but he knew Lady could probably help him reach the castle sooner. Besides there was little power in his body left so he took a breath and leaned against a wall.
Within 2 minutes she arrived on a motorcycle. Typical.
She jumped of and tried to make him lean on her.
"Your Excellency, what happened? You have been away for 4 days."
4 days? God!
"I...have...to get...to the...castle," he said between breaths.
She nodded and got back on the motor.
"Let's go!" she said, starting the engine.
He took the seat behind her and they tore through the town.
"Have you seen Zechs?" he asked as they took another turn.
"No, I thought he was in the castle with you," she responded.
"And you never did go in the castle, all this time I was away?"
She shook her head. "I did as you ordered."
A sigh escaped his mouth. He had just wanted to give them a few hours of privacy so they could finally talk about Milliardo's past. And now this had happened. Instead of binding the prince to him he had lost him forever.
When they reached the courtyard he immediately jumped of and ran to the left. Lady followed him hastily as he tried to find out where the outside wall of the room was. On lots of places the walls had collapsed, but when he assessed where the kitchen they had been standing in had been, he knew he had to move more to the left.
"There." he said as he pointed on a collapsed wall. Lady followed his finger with her eyes. He knew she was beyond curious and appreciated how she didn't say anything.
"Lady, you have anything to blow it up with?"
She pulled a hand grenade of her belt.
"Something a little less strong, Zechs is in there."
Her eyes widened, but she took something else out of her pocket. He didn't know much about explosives, but was aware this was something used to blow up locks with. She laid it on the debris and made a fuse on it.
"Get back Your Excellency."
It worked perfectly. Some of the stones were blown away, but it didn't cause another collapse of rocks. The smell of death immediately pushed inside their noses. He could do nothing but hope Milliardo was still alive. He walked in and saw bodies, some of them death for years, but others for a far shorter period of time. They even threw in new bodies, to make the torment just like then. His eyes desperately sought for Milliardo. He walked past some of the bodies, looked beneath them but couldn't find him. When he turned to look at the other corner of the room he saw him.
Milliardo lay on his side, back towards them in rainwater. His platinum hair was draped with blood and lying around his head. He didn't seem to be breathing. A rat was sitting on his shoulder comfortably. Treize chased him away angrily. Now he saw how his pulses were bound together with plaited iron and chained to the wall. They never even wanted him to have a change to escape.... Treize bowed over him and felt his pulse. Heartbeat? No?!...... Yes, thank god! But a very faint one.
He looked at the hole he had come from. Lady stood there, looking shocked at Milliardo.
"My god," she whispered.
"We have to get him out of here," Treize said. "He's super cooled."
Lady took out her gun and walked towards them. She pointed it at the chain and shot through it.
"We will remove the iron later, first we have to get him warm," she said.
Treize took Milliardo up and noticed how limb his body was. He laid Milliardo's head in his neck and supported it with his hand, the dirty hair sticking to it. Lady hastened inside the castle and while he was still carrying the blonde through the main hall when she came back with a blanket. Treize draped it over him tenderly.
"There's a bed there," she said. "Follow me."
They reached a room with a huge bed and he laid Milliardo down. He seems so fragile and small on it. Lady made some light and only now he saw the wounds on his face. It wasn't just the scratches the woman had made with her nails; there were other wounds he couldn't place. Curse them, did they hit him more? Or was it the rats? After all he had not been really able to defend himself. He looked at the iron around his pulses and the wounds they had caused. Poor little one. But he knew it wasn't the body that had suffered most, but the mind.
The dagger was taken from the belt and he cut the sharp strands of iron. He felt so powerless as he knelt next to him. With all his talk of how he wanted to protect him, it had been his actions that caused Milliardo to be tortured like this.
He caressed the face and removed the already torn shirt. There were so many wounds, bruises and scratches beneath it. Treize took a motionless pulse and pushed it against his own cheek. Milliardo, what can I do? What can I do?
Suddenly he felt Lady's comforting hand on his shoulder.
"Your Excellency, you are not well, it would be best for you to sleep; I will take care of him."
"No I want...have to be there when he wakes," he said, refusing to let go of Milliardo's arm.
"It would do him no good if you are like this, Your Excellency, he needs you to be strong."
"I can never fall asleep when he is like this." Treize said.
But he was wrong, a slap with Lady's gun made him sleep in quite easily.
His dreams were filled with Milliardo like so often, but they were not arousing like they tended to be.
Treize was in his room at his castle, with the world turning around beneath it. It was not turning around an axe but randomly to all kinds of directions. Suddenly the scene shifted to a graveyard. On the graves were the names of men and women he had slain. On a hill was another gravestone, this time without an inscription. Someone was tied to it and when he got closer he saw it was Milliardo. He sat there covered with blood. He looked at Treize and smiled, pointing at his wounds. The scene shifted again. Treize was at the Sanc-castle, which melted slowly away. Only a young boy remained on the place were the castle had been. The boy tried to disappear like the castle, but it didn't work. He remained where he was and tried to follow it into the ground. But regardless of how many times he removed the earth, he could never create a hole.
Treize awoke, breathing heavily. He was still in the same room as he had been before, lying under a blanket. Panicked, he looked up, only reassured when he saw Milliardo was still there. Lady sat next to the bed, her hand pressed a compress above Milliardo's eyes. A bucket with water stood near her feet. She looked at him, concerned. No longer the Oz-officer, but a caring woman. She had never looked more beautiful.
"He's doing better now, his temperature has risen, but he's still unconscious," she said.
Treize walked over to the bed and looked down at Milliardo. The blood had been washed out of his hair and his chest. The wounds were still there and the bruises. Lady stood up from her chair.
"You take over from me now, Your Excellency, I doubt he wants to see me when he wakes."
"Lady, I can't express how grateful I am for everything you have done for me," he said.
"Then we are even, Your Excellency." And she walked out the door.
Treize sat down next to the bed again. Only now he noticed Lady had also treated his own shoulder wound. He held Milliardo's hand and waited. I wish I had been as good to you as she is to me. The prince stirred sometimes, Treize knew that was a good sign. But he didn't talk in his sleep like he had hoped, for it would have told him what was going on inside his mind. For many hours he sat like that, losing track of time. Lady came in once to ask if everything was okay, but there was nothing new to tell her.
What if he never wakes up? What will become of me? I should have gone to see him this past year. I thought it was the right thing to do, to stay away, and to protect him. The first time I see him after all that time I cause this. But even if he hates me, I can never leave him.
Treize stood up to open the curtains and let some light shine into the somber room. At the moment the sun shone in, Milliardo started to blink his eyes. Then the blond shot forward and tried to crawl away from the light. Of course, he's been in darkness for many days. Scared Milliardo looked around himself with his arms in front of him defensively. Treize rushed to him and reached out his hand for him. The younger man dodged it and moved closer to the wall and Treize pulled back his hand.
"How are you Milliardo?" he asked softly, hoping he would answer.
Milliardo just glared at him. Treize had been shocked by the fear and hate that had shone in those ice blue eyes on several occasions, but none of that had shocked him as much as the utter lack of emotions that he could see now. Suddenly Milliardo moved to the front of the bed and swung his legs over the edge. Treize tried to get him to stay on the bed, but Milliardo attempted to stand anyway. When he realized his legs refused to carry his weight he sat down. Treize reached out for his head, attempting to stroke some hair out of his face, but the prince dodged his hand and moved a little farther away from him.
"You can't go, you are wounded."
Milliardo tried to get up again, but Treize gently held him down.
"I think it's best for you to tell me what happened to you."
Milliardo bowed his head a little, opened his eyes wide and smiled. Treize was totally shocked by his expression. He's insane!
To be Continued
Will Treize find a way to keep him with him or will Zechs go his own way? Next time in the last chapter of this story.