Disclaimers: Don't own any part of Gundam Wing nor it's characters. It's a loan.
Warnings: Shounen-ai, OOCs, AU (what else do I write?), gloomy Duo (sorry, can't help it for now)
Circle of Destiny
The trio strode through the market place, barely masking their disgust at the corruption that had besieged Kyrin Kingdom over the years.
"Is this wise?" The dark haired of the trio asked, nervous eyes scanning the grounds for any signs of danger.
The tall man with a shock of auburn hair falling over one eye said quietly, "It is necessary. You are king now," he addressed the brown haired man next to him.
"He's right, Wufei," the young king informed his personal guard. "I need to see what has happened, what a cess pit my father has made this city."
Wufei made a small noise of discontentment but kept silent, knowing his liege was right. "Be careful, Heero," he needed to warn his king and best friend anyway.
The young king with a messy mop of brown hair and deep blue eyes nodded at the warning but continued on his way. He barely restrained a sigh of pain at the degeneration of the city. Barely a handful of years ago, Kyrin was a burgeoning city for merchants selling anything from silks from the East to precious gems from the West. Merchants, traders and basically everyone in the known lands came to Kyrin with their wares and it was fast becoming one of the richest cities in the known world. It was said that there were mystical creatures from Silver Myst that came from their forest to trade with the normal humans for their daily needs.
But that was all in the past. Right now, Kyrin was the central hub of activity, for human slavery.
Heero's jaw worked as his cobalt eyes took in the various cages that held their 'wares'. His father, the former king passed on to whatever hell he deserved a few days ago and Heero's own coronation had happened scant hours after that. For the past few days, the new king had worked to abolish the one thing that he had hated growing up, the 'tradition' of slaves. Many advisors in his court had belittled the king's decision, not seeing any weight in an eighteen year old's decision. Of course, His Royal Highness, King Heero Yuy wasn't someone to be trifled with. Within days, his father's advisors had been removed and those that had rebelled strongly against him had been quietly removed via his cousin's efforts, Assasin Trowa Barton.
"There seemed more than usual," Trowa muttered under his breath, his own expression betraying his cousin's shared distaste as well.
Heero's Eastern bodyguard, Chang Wufei, a noble himself snorted. "That's because they need to get rid of their stock before Heero's new decree comes into place."
"It's a pity your new decree doesn't force them to free the slaves," Trowa shot a glance at Heero that clearly questioned his decision of that.
Heero shrugged. "That will come in a few years. I will not allow any slaves in my kingdom but to stop slavery and stop the sale of slaves at the same time would be mean that the nobles would rebel against me." His eyes continued to scan the area with certain revulsion. "I need to further consolidate my position before I do anything that drastic."
Wufei and Trowa kept silent but they had to agree with Heero's reasoning. Heero's first decree was to stop the sale of slaves and from then on, there would be no more slavery within Kyrin, but those remaining would continue to serve their households until the day they die. There had been some uproar at that as the thought of paying for the services of servants was too much to comprehend by the fat, lazy corrupt nobles within the court but since they would still own the slaves that they have, they would still reap benefits for another twenty years or so. Or at least that was what they thought. Heero was fully prepared to replace all these nobles with his own loyals within the next few years and free all slaves forever more. Anyone who disagreed would then speak with the side of his sword or Trowa's garrotte. Either way, the slave trade would end with him.
His mind ran past through all the various whipping boys in his younger days. He was a prince of the realm and by no means be subjected to the various punishment normally meted out for young stubborn boys. Instead, his stand-in, the whipping boy had been sometimes tortured to a point past death. Heero had been very careful not to show any signs of affection for these slaves because he had made a mistake of being attached to one in his past and that boy had been purposely tortured as a lesson in having weaknesses by his insane father.
A loud commotion brought Heero out of his morose thoughts as all three men sought out the source of the disturbance. There was a growing crowd around a 'shop' that was nothing more than a collection of cages.
Mueller's, the sign read.
Heero knew from reputation that this was one of the more cruel slavers in Kyrin. The castle never bought any from him. Most of the slaves from Mueller would be in ill condition and wouldn't fetch a very high price. These slaves were usually sold to mines and for other hard labour. He was about to dismiss the fuss when he suddenly felt Trowa's hand gripping his wrist urgently.
"It's just the slaver punishing some slaves, Trowa," Heero said impatiently. "Let's just move on." He really didn't want to see the legacy of his father's rule. This was just what he was trying desperately to stop and he didn't need to know that he was not particularly successful in that endeavour just yet.
"No, Heero, they are your people as well," Trowa insisted. "This is what you have been fighting for. We look." He didn't give his cousin any quarter and continued to drag him toward the source of the turmoil.
Wufei came over to flank Heero on his other side and nodded gravely, agreeing with his emerald eyed friend's argument. He personally felt Heero had been sheltered during his childhood, despite some of the horrors the dead king dished out to his only son. The harsh reality of life outside the castle was one of them. The former king had never allowed Heero in the market place and limited his outings to the country side and the forests around it.
"I…" Heero decided to save his breath, realising his friends won't be deterred, king or otherwise. He marched, a little unhappy at being forced into something he didn't want to be party to and not`iced his friends' hands tightening on their swords as they neared the press of the crowd. They were after all his bodyguards and they were in a very public place. Although he wasn't quite known at first glance to by the King of Kyrin, Heero could be recognised easily as a noble from his clothes and bearing, and amongst these parts, a noble was considered easy picking, even if the noble towered above all of them and had the most piercing blue eyes.
All three nobles stared in horror at the sight that greeted them once they were close enough to the slaver's shop.
"That's for crossing me, you bastard," Mueller growled in a harsh accent Heero recognised from the lower parts of the city. The slaver raised his whip and brought it down hard onto the slave's back, which already had scars crisscrossed all over it. The slave was tied by his hands and hung in midair while the slaver applied the whip to his back. The slave's back was facing the crowd, but the young king found himself admiring the pale flesh and the trim back. He noticed a large brown rope encircling the slave's neck. This would have been a fine specimen if that idiot slaver hadn't ruined it so.
Heero's mind did a double take. What the hell was he thinking? This was no specimen, this was a human being.
He winced as the whip came down on the back again and again. The slave uttered no word, no moan of pain and if his body didn't jerk every time the thin strip of leather connected, Heero would have thought he felt nothing.
"I'll teach you arrogant bastard a lesson," Mueller raged.
"Please," a blond kneeling by the trussed up figure begged up to the slaver. "Please, let him go. It's my fault, please, master."
Heero heard his cousin's breath catching and a quick glance to his right found Trowa's attention riveted on the blond slave. The young king studied the kneeling blond, who had one hand wrapped around the ankle of the other. He seemed perfect. From that angle the blond was probably of average height, with soft silvery blond hair and when he turned, Heero caught a glimpse of the most glorious blue/green eyes. The sea, Heero thought, his eyes are the colour of the sea. The slave was slight, lithe but seemed muscular and with skin as creamy as the other one being whipped. What was their relationship?
"What are you doing?" Heero hissed under his breath when Trowa took a step forward, obviously moved by the blond in distress.
Trowa's jaw worked spasmodically. "I'm buying him. Mueller shouldn't be allowed to have such perfection in his hands." Without another word, Trowa marched up to the platform before Heero could stop him.
The king was speechless. Here he was issuing decrees about ending the slave trade and on the other hand, his family was purchasing a slave. He didn't know what to do but he agreed with Trowa, the blond was too frail to withstand Mueller's harsh treatment of slaves that were legendary in Kyrin.
"Slaver," Trowa called out idly, completely belying his inner rage. "How much for this one?" He gestured carelessly at the blond.
Mueller lowered the whip, his greedy eyes taking in the quality of the new customer's clothes. He recognised a noble a mile away.
"No!" The blond turned towards the newcomer with wide frightened eyes and hugged the other slave's legs tight.
"Shut up!" Mueller yelled, stretching out his leg to kick at the blond but was caught by a strong vice-like grip. He stared down at the noble, his eyes wide and a little intimidated. This was not a normal noble that had fat purses and even fatter behinds.
"Don't damage the goods," Trowa warned smoothly. "I asked for a price." He flicked a quick gaze over the blond one and noted besides some fading bruises, he looked none worse for wear. In fact, for a slave, he looked damn healthy and totally delicious.
Trowa's brain froze. Where did that thought come from? He had to admit, he heart lurched when he saw the angel kneeling at the mercy of a disgustingly cruel slaver, begging for mercy for his friend and had leapt to his defence. Now he found himself a little silly. It appeared, the blond almost didn't want his help. But he was probably the most beautiful thing Trowa had ever seen and no matter what happened, he will try and save this one slave from the cruel hands of fate.
"Probably want him for a bed warmer, huh?" Mueller speculated, watching the noble eye his slave almost hungrily while the blond gasped in shock.
Burning green eyes bored into the slaver. "What I want with him for is my affair. I ask you again and this had better be the last time. What is his price?"
Trowa knew the drill, the offer was, of course, completely ridiculous and the haggling began in earnest. He noted that every time he pushed the price down, glorious aquamarine eyes would grow colder and flintier as if insulted. The auburn haired man bit back a smile. So, the little angel wasn't a slave for too long. He still had spirit. They finally agreed on a price which Trowa thought was grossly overpriced if it had been any other than the blond slave and as he reached out to claim his purchase, the blond shrank against the whipped slave in fear.
"No, don't take me away from him. Please," the blond cast pleading looks at Mueller, who was too busy counting his gold and Trowa, who was moved by the distress in his new slave's eyes.
"Go," came a weak and raspy voice. "Go… with…" The injured slave gasped, unable to find the breath for words. "Go…" He managed.
"I won't!" The blond all but yelled. "Please," he turned the wide eyed, pleading look on his new master. "I can't leave him here, he'll die. I can't let him die." He boldly grabbed hold of Trowa's hand and squeezed it.
Caught between sympathy and disgust at the condition of the slave in question, Trowa threw a questioning glance at his king, who shrugged nonchalantly but he could see the seething anger in his cousin's deep blue eyes at the treatment of the slave.
"Throw in the other one," Trowa addressed the slaver who studied him again with renewed interest.
"This one is feisty and very beautiful. He's expensive." The slaver scratched his chin thoughtfully with the end of his whip and Trowa felt the blond shiver slightly. He didn't need to look at his slave to know the blond feared this repulsive man.
"He's damaged," Trowa said flatly.
"A little medical attention and…."
"I need a slave and not a charity case. You damaged him. You're lucky I didn't ask for compensation from you." The glare Trowa directed him was probably the last his victims saw.
That day, Trowa Barton bought two slaves which he had no use for.
"Cut him down," his new master tossed him a knife, which Quatre caught deftly and proceed to let his brother down.
"Duo, we're leaving," the blond whispered softly into the brown haired slave's ear as he severed the bonds. His stomach clenched as he saw the pained mask his brother's expression had become. Once again, to protect him, his brother was subjected to torture. When will this all end? When can they just go home?
Duo's prone body fell like a puppet with its ropes were cut and Quatre caught him before he landed on the floor of the raised platform. The pained moan issued from Duo was so soft that only Quatre's keen hearing picked it up.
"I'm sorry," Quatre murmured over and over, wanting desperately for his brother's pain to end.
Duo had become so weak over the past few weeks that it frightened Quatre. He was malnourished and pale. Listless and gaunt. Exhausted and dizzy at most times, rendering him unable to run when Quatre suggested they try to escape the slaver when he had heard the new king's decree of ending slave trade. If they had managed to run away, in two days they would be free but weakened, Duo got caught.
Quatre gathered Duo up in his arms and picked the prone boy up like he weighed nothing, much to the surprise of his new master. The blond nearly smirked. His new master wasn't the first to think that of him based on his apparent fragility.
"Qua… tre…" Duo opened his eyes a slit and his brother lowered his silky blond head. "Sorry…" And he surrendered himself to the comforting arms of oblivion.
Quatre stared at the form in his arms, at a loss of what to do. How could his brother apologise to him for something that was his fault? Tears hovered at the edge of his control but he stoically followed the taller form of his new master who kept glancing back at him with a slight question in his eyes. After a long list of owners, Quatre found himself actually curious about his new master. This lord didn't seem like a cruel owner and he was attractive with his dark brownish red hair that fell endearingly over one eye. His eyes! Quatre was shocked to find them the colour of newly sprouted leaves in spring. He had never seen them that colour before. His and Duo's were considered unusual amongst their people but his master's was truly breath taking. He was taller than Quatre was but he was sure in his real form, they would be of equal height, but there was whip cord strength in his new master that bespoke of a man accustomed to danger. It was an intoxicating mix.
"We will get him help," his master soothed, noticing the worried glances Quatre dropped to the unconscious figure in his arms. "What's your name?" He asked, for more of distracting Quatre from his worries.
"Quatre, master," the blond replied, lowering his eyes as was appropriate.
"That's a nice name," his master prodded gently. "But a little lonely all by itself. Isn't there anything after that?"
Quatre raised mutinous aquamarine orbs glare at his new owner, well aware that a transgression like this would warrant a beating very much like the one given to his brother. "Slaves have no need for family connections, master."
He noticed his master flinching from the barb as if Quatre had hurt him somehow with the truth.
Well, if you can't take the truth, then stop purchasing slaves, the blond slave thought maliciously.
"I'm called Trowa Barton," his master told him, recovering quickly from the earlier slip and deftly manoeuvring them through the press of people to where his party waited.
"Thank you, master for my new name," Quatre replied stiffly, knowing it was a platitude born from long tradition to have a slave's last name changed to that of the master's. "Quatre 'e'i Barton." The prefix before the last name meant roughly 'possession of' in the old tongue and it was tradition in the naming of slaves. If Quatre was lucky, his master would only require him to wear a collar with that engraved on. He had seen slaves that were not so fortunate and had them burnt into their thighs. He had been what most slavers called 'bed warmer' quality and many of his previous owners took pains not to mar his perfection but his brother hadn't been so fortunate. He had cried when he saw the mass of scars along Duo's thigh, each owner cancelling out the other's names with their own brand. And from the Duo's thigh, it was evident he had had a lot of owners.
Dark thoughts caused Quatre to miss a step and stumbled, nearly dropping his brother in the process. A solicitous Trowa politely turned to help his new slave with the burden but was taken aback when the seemingly angelic blond hissed a warning, "No one touches him but me." He got a better grip on his burden and stood erect staring silently at the ground in front of him, waiting for his master's next move.
Trowa stared at Quatre, wondering again what the two's relationship were. Lovers? For some reason that bothered Trowa a lot. And when Quatre added the prefix 'e'i before his last name Barton, he felt like he had been stabbed in the gut with a foot long knife. He didn't want the prefix, he didn't… He stopped all thoughts before it went any further. Firstly, while relationships between same sexes were not frowned upon in that day and age, it wasn't encouraged either and secondly, Quatre, for now was his slave. Beautiful as the blond was, he was still a slave and Trowa was a noble. Not just any noble, he was second in line to the throne of Kyrin in the event anything happened to Heero.
"Master," Quatre prodded his master who seemed content to stand there and stare speculatively at him and his brother. He wondered if he was destined to be a 'bed warmer' again in this service. He hoped Master Trowa would be gentler with him than his previous owners, some of which were most definitely male.
Trowa continued to walk towards his king and the king's personal bodyguard.
Quatre followed placidly behind, not for the thousandth time in the say wondering what had he gotten into as he stared at the tall brooding man with messy brown hair and intense blue eyes. For some reason, he looked extremely familiar to Quatre and there was an unusual energy coming from him that the blond's muted senses could detect. That was quite odd in itself, Quatre's senses had stopped working for a long while now. He wondered about the oddness of it all until he laid his eyes on the other man, the guard, standing next to the odd one. He breathe caught and shocked weakened his arms and this time, he did lose his grip on his brother. The guard ran forward and caught Duo before he landed on the ground.
The guard hefted Duo into his arms easily. "Your…" He began but cut himself off, casting surreptitious looks at the two men with him. "I'm Wufei, and we are going to help you brother."
Trowa's only visible eye widened with shock. How did Wufei know the brown haired man was Quatre's brother? There has been no time for proper introduction and yet Wufei knew. He continued to stare as Heero's personal guard held the unconscious man while Quatre docilely accepted Wufei handling his brother, Trowa thought with relief, while he had nearly snapped his head off earlier.
He exchanged confused looks with Heero over the duo's heads. Something strange was happening here.
Something very strange.
Come on guys, show me it is worth continuing… You know the drill.
Whoop another 1x2. This has been in the works for months now… hehehe… just posting now. Bad Tsu!