Chapter 3

Disclaimer: Love Hilari Bell's work, but love does not mean ownership.

Rating: T until otherwise noted (it will eventually be otherwise noted, but not without proper warning)

I'm really sorry for how long its taken me to update (almost a year, good god). I got… really stuck on it as I only really had the first scene in mind when I wrote it, and there was some shit happening in my personal life that distracted me at the time, and kind of got me off writing. Anyway, lame excuses aside, I'm very grateful to everyone who has read and reviewed so far, and… yeah if anyone actually still even remembers this fic after so long… I hope you'll still want to read despite the incredibly long wait.

To say that Michael was shocked at their captor's intentions would be a vast understatement. It appeared that drugs were not the only thing these people sold. To think that something as unjust as slavery would still exist right under the nose of the law in this day and age seemed simply preposterous to the young knight errant.

Fisk on the other hand did not seem overly surprised at the news, making Michael wonder whether his squire had already seen or heard of this during his past dealings with matters outside the law. Or rather that his lack of shock stemmed merely from the rogue's inexplicable ability to always expect the worst of people, a quality- often to Fisk's annoyance- Michael did not share.

As it was, the two of them were currently being forced to walk alongside their captors- five of them as there had been two more waiting outside while the first three had gone to fetch them- who had the luxury of being on horseback (something that only served to guiltily remind Michael of their own steeds whose fate was still unknown to him- he had already asked and learned how little their captors appreciated questions via a blow to the back of the head) down a path that by the level of undergrowth did not appear to be traveled often. Not to mention the fact that it was the middle of the night (though torches the riders carried provided more then enough light to see by). And if what they said was true- and really, why wouldn't it be?- they had good reason to not wish to run into other travelers.

They had been forcibly led to march on for about two or three hours now, and besides the initial brief explanation of their fates and the occasional warning or reprimand, the men had spoken hardly a word to their captives. Michael wondered if perhaps they did not know English all that well. They seemed to be foreign from their appearance- though the knight could not place exactly where they were from- and had spoken with odd heavy accents with awkward grammar and occasionally using words that did not quite seem to fit. Exactly how much they did or did not understand however was unknown to him, so he did not think it wise to start trying to hatch escape plans with Fisk (his squire really was rubbing off on him for him to have jumped to the idea of such an underhanded scheme so quickly).

Speaking of his squire… Michael glanced over at Fisk who was walking beside him, though now it seemed his pace had started to slow as he had fallen slightly- though not quite enough to incite their captors' wrath- behind. He looked tired, and his face was drawn in a slight grimace, his good hand clutching his injured shoulder.

Worried, Michael allowed himself to fall back beside him, earning a warning look from one of the men which the knight met evenly. The man glared, holding his gaze for a moment before grunting and turning back to the road ahead deciding for now at least that the knight was not trying to run away.

"Are you alright?", Michael asked noticing the same man glance back to glare at him again, though he still did not do anything further to try to stop him from conversing with his companion.

"Fine", Fisk grunted, turning slightly to meet Michael's worried look, and the knight couldn't help but note that he looked a little dazed, "all this walking is just getting to me."

Fisk tried to give him a reassuring smile, but ended up grimacing again when he stumbled a bit over a rock, jarring his wounded shoulder further.

"Mayhap I should ask them if we could stop to take a break", the knight suggested, his eyebrows furrowed in concern for his friend.

"You think they would listen to you?" The rogue questioned skeptically, jerking his head slightly to gesture to their stern watchmen.

"But you're in pain…"

"Oh hush", Fisk smirked despite his increasing discomfort, "you're just trying to get into my pants. I already know your scheme."

Michael's face reddened slightly looking suddenly flustered, his eyes darted to their captors, but they either were not listening, did not understand, or simply did not care whom was trying to get into whom's pants.

"D-don't say that so loudly…!" Michael retorted in a harsh whisper, drawing more attention then Fisk's comment (though their companions still gave little notice seeing as they weren't trying to escape). He knew people were unlikely to take kindly to relationships of that nature… the same sex nature, and understandably did not want Fisk speaking so casually of it. That and it was embarrassing.

The rogue raised an amused eyebrow at this, "joking, Nobel Sir. I've known you long enough to know you're too stupidly morally steadfast for any sort of scheming. Tis exactly why you've never been able to obtain a lady lover, and were forced to resort to-"

"Fisk!" Michael hurriedly cut him off (and more or less finished his sentence), glaring at the pleased with himself expression on his companion's face. "A-anyway, we are straying from the point. I really think you need to take a break."

Fisk shrugged, and then winced (he really had to stop doing that) clutching his shoulder a little tighter, "and believe me, I would love to, but as it is there isn't much we can do about that."

The rogue sighed. The conversation had distracted him from it for a moment, but he really was worn out, and his shoulder continued to throb more and more painfully, jolted with every step he took.

Caught up in his small bought of self-pity, Fisk didn't notice Michael had left his side until it was too late to stop him. The knight, mustering up as much confidence as he could, had marched up to the front of the party, coming up next to the man in the lead (who he could only assume must be the leader if there was one). Immediately, seeing Michael so boldly approach him, the man pulled back on his reins, bringing his horse to a stop- effectively signaling for the rest of the party to halt as well- and glared fiercely down at the younger man. He looked as though he was about to shout something at him, but Michael spoke before he could, filling his voice with confidence that went against their relative positions.

"Sir, my companion is tired and hurt. I suggest we take a small break to let him rest."

Fisk looked on, stunned. What the hell did he think he was doing?! You did not give orders to the people who kidnapped you! He could have slapped the idiot.

Their captors for their part looked just as stunned (though two of them appeared to hold a deeper confusion, suggesting that they had not quite understood what he had said and confirming the theory of them not knowing English very well).

The one in the lead who had been the one directly addressed quickly recovered from his shock, expression turning to one of anger instead.

"You do not give command! We stop when we get to camp! No more sooner!" He then glanced back to Fisk, sneering cruelly, "he only injured in shoulder, not feet. Tell him stop whining and tough up!"

Then ignoring Michael, he slapped his horses reins starting off once more, again a silent signal for the rest of the party to follow suit.

Michael, dejected at his fruitless efforts, let himself fall back to Fisk's side.

"I'm sorry", the knight said, "I really tried."

"I told you not to bother", Fisk glared, still shocked that his companion had even for a second thought that would work. "Honestly, I'm just surprised they didn't decide to beat you as well."

And really, they could have. The knight should learn to be more careful.

"I don't think a slave already beaten half to death would catch quite as much gold as a perfectly healthy one", the knight replied calmly, to his squire's shock showing that for once he actually had thought his actions through, "and I was hoping they would see the sense in keeping you healthy as well."

Fisk couldn't help but laugh a little at the fact that his employer was actually somewhat making sense for a change. "Can't win them all I suppose."

It was already long past dawn when they were finally allowed to stop at a small clearing near the path that showed signs of having already been camped in not long ago (assumedly the spot their captors had rested in on the way here). Michael of course was tired and sore himself after so much walking, but Fisk seemed ready to collapse. The knight had long since offered his companion to lean on him, and for the last hour or so, he had been having to nearly drag the man along.

When they arrived, the man Michael assumed was something of a second in command had gruffly motioned for them to sit by a fallen log near the middle of the camp while three of the others silently went to set up tents. If he had expected either of them to be allowed to sleep in one of these tents (or even with a blanket), he was sorely mistaken. After the tents had been set up, three of the men had retired within while two stayed out to keep a strict watch on the knight and squire who were restricted to the spot they had initially been led to.

It seemed- contrary to Michael's theory of the men wishing to keep them healthy- their captives would be provided only with the bare minimum for their survival as they were only given water and stale bread as dinner to match their harsh sleeping arrangements.

Fisk hadn't wanted to eat much, claiming he was too tired to be hungry, which worried Michael greatly. The knight also noted upon feeling his forehead that he felt slightly warm- also not a good sign.

"Fisk, let me check your wound", the knight said, going to carefully unwrap the makeshift bandage (which was actually just a torn off piece of Michael's cloak).

Fisk winced a little as the cloth came away, blood causing it to stick a bit to the wound. The knight frowned as some of the blood looked fresh. All the constant jarring caused by walking must have prevented it from keeping closed properly. He had saved some of the water they had given them to drink, and used it now to do what he could to clean the wound, which he now also noted was warmer to the touch then the rest of him and the skin around it appeared inflamed.

Twas obviously starting to show signs of infection, causing Michael's gut to clench with dread. He didn't know whether or not he should voice his concerns as there wasn't much either of them could do about it, and their captors didn't seem overly fond of helping them for some reason. After cleaning it as best he could, the knight silently tore off another strip of his own cloak and began to wrap it around the wound, muttering an apology when Fisk grit his teeth in pain from having to lift his arm slightly to accommodate this.

"Well, you sure look grim", Fisk said tiredly after it was through. "I suppose it's not good news?"

Michael bit his lip, eyes shifting to the side as he considered lying (he really was terrible at it), but thought better of it, "it… looks like it's beginning to grow infected…"

"Oh." Fisk said simply, and Michael was a little surprised he didn't add anything else about this whole awful situation being the knight's fault or anything.

"We should get some rest…" Michael said finally, having to help Fisk to lie down without moving his arm too much.

Sleeping on the ground was quite uncomfortable with nothing underneath to cushion it and twas difficult to sleep with the sun shining so brightly, but it was more worry for his companion then this that disturbed Michael's rest.

Sorry, not much of any romance in this chapter. They're in too much peril to be lovey-dovey right now.

Uh… I don't know how much it did or didn't stick out, but I really struggled with the foreign dudes' dialogue. I mean I wanted to make it obvious that they didn't speak fluently, but I was worried it came out sounding like some racist Chinese accent or something lol. (and uh, yeah, that's not how I meant it, don't picture it that way. They're just… imaginary foreign dudes or something? ha ha…)

Ah plot plot plot… I'm not used to plot. I'm used to smutty oneshots, but I'm trying to branch out. That being said, if there are any plot holes or anything that just doesn't seem to add up or whatever, feel free to criticize (even if I might cry *kidding(?)*). Or non plot too if I missed anything gramatical or spelling-wise *don't look over my stuff well enough after I write it*

Anyway, I'll stop rambling like an idiot now (I think I have a problem with that…). If you've read this far, I'd love it if you'd review and tell me what you think! I hope you enjoyed!