author's note and warning

            Pairings: 1x3 (implied), 1+2 (current), 1+2+3 (developing)
            Warnings: language and adult situations
            Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing, and no malicious infringement is intended.

First, let me thank ArithKenshin, Maldoror, Casey Valhalla, Tyr, Zazreil, and Koyote for their thoughtful and thorough feedback at so many stages of this story. Each has had different viewpoints and interpretations, and all have helped me more clearly define the story's progress. Special thanks to ArithKenshin, for her invaluable input and support that gave me the guts to start the story in the first place.

Second, this story shows an extreme in the BDSM world, and one that's rare outside fiction. Most folks in the BDSM scene have healthy and communicative relationships, as a successful D/s (domination-submission) or S/M (sado-masochism) scene relies on the involved parties discussing their wants and needs. The character in this story had no such conversation with those who tortured and broke him. Please do not draw the conclusion from this story that Master/slave relationships are abusive. The good ones aren't; they're just set up along different lines than the mainstream, but they still are based on love and affection between two people.

Third, at no point will you see any of the characters physically abused, although references will be made. The emotional and psychological damage is the real issue here, and everyone suffers. There are also some really tough decisions made by the characters, some of which you may not like, and some of which may not make sense at first read. Every single scene, every single action, has been carefully considered. It has been difficult to strike a balance between what would be in character against decisions required by the situation. If you choose to flame me, please be aware that I am not writing this as titillation or fluff entertainment. The topic is serious, and I'm treating it as such, just as I will treat all responses and reviews equally seriously.

Fourth, there is sexual content. Technically, if someone does not consent – or is unable to do so because of external influences - then any sexual interaction becomes sexual assault, including oral sex or manual stimulation, or even simple groping. If you look at the main character and see him as still himself but with a new personality overlaid, then sexual assault occurs during this story, however well intentioned the other characters may be. If you see Jade as a completely new personality, then the lines become much fuzzier. As he is now, he desires the sexual interaction. Does this make it any less reprehensible? At the very least, you should probably brace yourself. It is not a pleasant read, either way.

Those are the kinds of questions that are raised, and hopefully at least addressed, even if there isn't a definitive answer.

And the simple fact is that I can't necessarily promise a happy ending, but I plan to try. 

[01 Jan 2004: edited to fit with story timeline]


prologue

     The room was getting dark, but Heero didn't stir. Dusk came early in the mountains, but he remained in the chair, sitting where he could see the door, and the dark shape over by the wall. Heero glanced up at the clock, and did a quick calculation. Trowa should be home with Ifrit in fifteen minutes. Heero would be able to hear the Jeep on the gravel driveway for plenty of warning.

     It had only taken an hour and he'd run out of things to say. The figure never moved unless given something to do, but even direct orders couldn't drag a word out of it.

     "Are you thirsty?" Heero's voice cracked, but he tried to stay calm. The quiet anguish was wearing on them both, despite their attempts to stay busy, to focus on something tangible that could be fixed. For all the times they had enjoyed the silence between them, as a couple...Heero stifled a sigh. This wasn't the same. "Trowa should be back soon," he added.

     The figure didn't move.

     "There's soda in the fridge," he said, watching carefully.

     The figure stirred, came to its feet in a graceful single move, and swept past him without looking up. Heero leaned forward, cradling his head in his hands, listening as the fridge opened, and a container was set on the countertop. The wooden cabinet was opened and shut so quietly he didn't register a glass had been selected until he heard the clink of glass on the countertop, followed by the sound of soda falling into a cup. The fridge opened and closed, and then the freezer, and Heero could hear the sound of three ice cubes being dropped into the glass.

     Trowa always adds three ice cubes after pouring my drink, he thought, and wondered when Jade had ever lifted his eyes long enough to notice such details. Almost two months of being with him constantly, and they were no closer to their goal. The only progress, sometimes, seemed to be that Jade now reacted to implied orders as well as direct ones.

     Heero felt movement past him, and glanced up to see the glass of soda being held out. It rested on the palm of one hand, and the fingers of the other hand kept it in place. Jade was on his knees, his head down, and his knees were spread shoulder-width apart. Heero sighed and took the glass. He'd learned already that if he didn't, Jade would simply sit there, waiting. For hours, if need be.

     The hands dropped when relieved of the glass, and fell back to their usual position, clasped lightly at the small of Jade's back, just above his tailbone. His black long-sleeved shirt and black jeans seemed incongruous with the position, Heero reflected momentarily, but at least he was dressed. It had taken them two weeks to get Jade to dress regularly, and even then, sometimes he'd backslide. Heero set the glass down on the coffee table, and leaned forward.

     Placing one finger under Jade's chin, he lifted the head up. The eyes dropped, focused squarely on the floor, or perhaps on his shins. Heero couldn't be sure. It didn't matter. Those blue eyes wouldn't look at him.

     Heero pulled his hand away, sighing as Jade's chin dropped back down, his head lowered. Reluctantly, sadly, Heero ran his fingers through the chestnut bangs, grown long across the face. He watched for some flash, some reaction, as he caressed the hair, pulling the braid around to rest on Jade's shoulder. It was a third of its wartime length, and Heero squashed the sudden anger that always flared up when he touched it, these days. Jade would only flinch, and it wasn't anger at Jade.

     "I spent four years learning to show emotion, thanks to you," Heero whispered, fingering the braid that was barely past shoulder-length. "And now I spend every day trying to squeeze myself back into a box, because if I don't..."

     Heero sighed and leaned forward, planting a soft kiss on Jade's forehead. He rubbed his thumb against the silent figure's cheek, barely smiling as Jade's eyes closed and he leaned into the touch. Trowa had reminded Heero, so many times, that physical touch was a reward, and rewards were necessary in the process.

     Involuntarily, he whispered: "Duo..."

     There it was again, that flinch. Heero swore, silently. It didn't even take a strike, and Jade reacted with pain. Just a single word, and yet Heero couldn't help it. He could think of this...thing...as Jade, but sometimes it was too much. He wanted it to be Duo. He wanted his friend back.

     But the longer they'd remain there, Heero knew, the more Jade would grow worried. Having nothing to do seemed to be an issue of great concern to Jade, and it was with a rising sorrow that Heero released the young man.

     "Go back to your spot," he said quietly.

     The figure rose with in a fluid movement, backing up silently for several feet before sinking to his knees and backing onto the pillow. Once there, he came to rest in the same kneeling posture. Heero watched, feeling the helplessness flooding his system. He wanted to smash something. He wanted to kill something. He wanted to scream, to shout, to do something, but all he could do was watch...and give orders.

     "Take a nap, Jade," he ordered gently. Heero watched as the figure turned on the pillow and curled up in a ball, hands around the ankles, head tucked between the knees. "Trowa should be home, soon. Everything's going to be okay."

     Heero leaned back and stared up at the ceiling. He didn't feel like reading a book, or checking email. He didn't even feel like eating, but it was nearly dinnertime, and Trowa would be hungry when he got back. There was a sound from outside the cabin of gravel crunching under tires, and the purr of an engine approaching.

     He sighed and stood up, aware that Jade was alert as well. Heero ran a hand through his hair, squared his shoulders, and went to meet his lover at the door.