(Rough sexual handling of Duo by Zechs, but no actual NCS)
+ Part 14
"Fathers?" Heero was puzzled, pacing beside his new mate, ahead of the others, as they made their way through an endless sea of tall grass; a sea, just over their heads, that made them blind unless they rose up to see over the top. Duo had warned them against that. Their best protection, he had said, was to stay low and stay on all fours.
Duo shrugged. "King's change. Only the king has children with the females."
Heero shook his head in confusion. "I don't understand."
"You wouldn't want to mate your aunt or your niece accidentally," Wu Fei said behind him. "Identifying a birth clan, is a good way to keep that from happening. A good idea for such a nomadic people."
"But... if the fathers move from clan to clan," Heero tried to reason, "doesn't that confuse things?"
"They don't," Duo said and then amended, "Usually. Losing a clan king often involves that king's death. If they survive and claim another clan, though, then their children wear their father's clan sign."
Heero frowned. "My head hurts," he complained. "What about the sons that are driven out?"
"If they start a new clan, they choose a new clan sign. If they take over another, those children become their birth sign children."
"You were adopted, though," Heero pointed out. "Why are you wearing a sun sign if you don't come from the sun clan?"
Duo went very quiet.
Heero quickly said, "If I've offended you, I'm sorry, Duo."
"No, I'm not offended," Duo assured him, but his purple eyes were sunk in memory. "I don't know who my birth clan is. I was unmarked. That's a very sad thing for a child of the Savannah. It means that my mother birthed me as a clan outcast or... she didn't care to keep me."
Heero nuzzled Duo. "I've made you remember something sad. That wasn't my intention, love."
Duo shrugged, but his tail swung up and draped over Heero's back. "It's all right, Heero. I can't change my past, just... wonder about it. That isn't your fault."
Quatre said carefully, "It is said that purple eyes are a sign of bad luck, but I curse a mother foolish enough to abandon a child because of it."
Duo was nodding, though. "I've been told this before. My foster mother was told to leave me because of my eyes, but she's always been a level headed female and not superstitious."
"I would call that lucky," Heero told him with a chuckle. "The superstition must be wrong then."
Duo laughed as well, coming out of his mood. "I've gone through so much, and come back home without much harm, and..." he blushed, "...with you."
Wu Fei was looking skeptical. "It isn't over yet. I would withhold judgement, if I were you."
Quatre made an exasperated sound. He nipped at Wu Fei's dangling crest and Wu Fei hissed at him as Quatre admonished, "Stop seeing the black side of things, dragon! We have come through great odds and we are all whole and healthy."
Heero still felt tired, but his breathing was returning to normal at the lower altitude. He had to agree with Quatre. Their arrival there, whole and healthy, was nothing short of miraculous.
"We need to find a place to camp," Trowa said, as if he were impatient with their talk. "We need to be able to see in all directions, yet remain hidden. We need water... food."
"Wise," Wu Fei replied, all too willing to change the subject. His crest rippled as if daring Quatre to nip at him again, as he suggested, "There are patches of stone. We should choose-"
"Most of them are already occupied," Duo warned. "It's better to find termite mounds. They are very hard and high, and they are a good source of food."
Heero made a face. "Termites?"
Duo snorted. "If you're desperate, but I meant the animals that come to eat the termites. "
"There will be water there as well?" Wu Fei wondered.
Duo shrugged. "I can't say. It's hot. Water dries quickly. There aren't many established watering holes. If there are, you can be sure there is a clan nearby claiming it."
"Then we may have to travel to get water," Heero decided, "since we can't hope for water and a place to hide in one place."
"The clans don't share," Duo warned, "and they aren't 'civilized', as you see it. They'll kill you if they find you at their watering places."
Heero smiled as he looked back at the others and saw their answering determination. "We know, Duo," Heero replied. "We're ready for that." "Good," Duo sighed, "because I'm not."
They found an old fallen tree to give them shade near a few high termite mounds. A band of hyenas had taken up residence, but Duo roared and rushed them and they quickly gave up their choice spot.
"This will do until it rains," Duo said as he snorted at the rank smell left behind. "You can take the tree branches and make your own cover away from the hyena droppings."
"What happens when it rains?" Heero wondered as Wu Fei immediately set to work getting the others to strip branches and weave them together.
Duo eyed the sky and sniffed. "I don't think you need to worry about that. Rain is scarce here, but this is a wash. The rain collects here, and makes a small lake, before it flows to the south. That's why no one with reason has claimed it. You can find water-"
"I have a nose too, I can smell it, " Heero growled, hackles rising a little. Here, Duo was in his element, sleek, glowing, and relaxed under the sun, while Heero was panting under that same heat and feeling at a loss. He didn't like that feeling and he was eager to get his bearings and reassert himself as alpha.
Duo's eyes narrowed and he retorted, "I didn't ask you to lift your tail, so don't snap at me."
Heero lowered his head, but he was still on edge. "I'm sorry. I've never been where I didn't know the land."
"That is when you learn what others have to teach you," Wu Fei said wisely. "This is not a time for pride, my Prince."
It was a title that was familiar and well loved and Wu Fei could not seem to lose the habit of addressing Heero that way. Heero found a smile for his friend and then nodded. "You're right. I'm sorry, Duo."
Duo nuzzled his ear and said into it, "I understand. I felt the same in your land, Heero." He gave Heero's ear a sharp tug with his teeth and then he was turning, tail lashing, and facing the endless plain of grass. "I must go now."
"I want to go as well," Heero lamented as he rubbed at his bitten ear. "I should be at your side."
"You can't," Duo replied firmly. "That would complicate things, especially if they decided to use you as a hostage against me. I'll return as soon as I can."
"If you don't, I will come after you," Heero promised.
Duo smiled. "I know," he said lovingly and then he was disappearing into the grass at an easy lope.
"We need to get food," Wu Fei said, trying to distract Heero. Heero tried to keep his eyes on Duo, but the were was one with the grass already, invisible.
"All right," Heero sighed and turned to the others. "I imagine that there are beasts here that are very dangerous. We have to be careful and stay hidden. Once we have some skins, we can make a container for water and some cover for our hut, so the larger the animal, the better.
"Then we should hunt together," Trowa decided. "Bring down a deer... or what passes for a deer in these lands."
Heero's mind refused to leave Duo even as he joined the others in the hunt. He knew that he wouldn't rest easy until his mate was by his side once more.
Duo knew the lands of his people, and knew where they would be in what season, but things had changed. He found the prides in disarray and not in their tribal lands. Prides had joined and warriors were separated from their clans. Women and children huddled, uncertainly, alone. Duo heard their worried whispers and knew that they were without kings. Zechs had killed them or taken them as his own, destroying the order of the Savannah. Everyone talked of war and none seemed concerned for a young were lion passing through their territories.
Duo found the Sun Clan at the center of the chaos, near the border, far from where they should have been. Their numbers had swelled, but they were mostly adults with only a few cubs, cubs that weren't white or bore any markings that Duo was familiar with. His scruff of mane rose as his skin prickled. Stolen or adopted, he surmised, the sun tattoos all fresh on their skin.
Duo found his mother first, sunning herself like an imperial queen among the other females atop a flat rock. She was never one to show too much affection and her eyes were wise as she watched Duo approach. Her lack of surprise told Duo many things and he wasn't a fool enough to not sense that the wind had shifted.
"You're his queen," Duo said when he was close enough.
"And you are his son," she replied with a smile and a fierce light in her golden eyes. "See how I've cared for you, even when you ran away?"
"Ran?" Duo bristled, but with anger now. "Zechs sent me away."
"King Zechs," she corrected, but then her tone was almost purring. "That's the way of it and you were of that age, the age where males are sent into the Savannah. I knew that you would live."
The other females were uncertain about what to do. Duo saw one slink away and he knew that she had gone to inform Zechs of his arrival.
His mother wrinkled her nose. "You smell odd." Her eyebrow arched and she smirked "What clan did you find a mate in, or did you start your own?"Her eyes peered at his tattoo, puzzled, "Will you introduce me to your mates? Have you fathered cubs? Zechs will be pleased."
"He isn't my father," Duo growled. "And I haven't been with any females."
Her _expression was shocked and then disgusted as she hissed in warning, "You had best forget such nonsense. The sun has made you strange, my son. Perhaps you should go down into the caves and see your father?"
"You're not my mother either," Duo muttered under his breath and felt a sharp pang of anguish as he turned and went down into the earth, down a short tunnel that opened out into a cavern with a low ceiling and more passageways beyond it. His mother had made her decision, as Solo had made his, to side with Zechs and use him.
Zechs was lounging on a shelf of rock in a patch of sunlight streaming through a hole in the roof of the cave. A wildebeast thigh bone was half eaten and carelessly tossed aside and untanned hides were his only cushion against the rock. He still managed to look like a clan king despite the spareness of his surroundings and, as Duo neared him, he was even larger than he remembered. It sent a chill through him, recalling the terrifying flight from the male were lion's claws.
As white as snow, huge mane streaming back and over broad shoulders, pale skin hardly broke up the utter lack of color in his fur. Ice blue eyes were narrowed at Duo, intelligent and piercing, judging Duo long before he came to stand at the foot of the shelf. Having Zechs look down at him, even though he had only a foot of height advantage where he lay, made Duo want to crouch defensively.
"You have returned," Zechs said in a voice that suddenly reminded Duo of some of the lords in Heero's Keep; cultured and haughty. "When Une returned empty handed, I cursed her, yet she seemed very sure of you. Where is your were wolf prince that she spoke of? She said that you were in rut over him." Duo said nothing.
Zech's nostrils flared delicately and then he looked disgusted as he caught a telltale scent. "You mounted the beast? That is too bad. I could have used him to keep the forest cities off my tail until I'm ready to strike. Is the body still in one piece? I can at least send it back to his people and use it as a tool off intimidation."
Duo was both embarrassed and confused, not understanding Zechs.
Zech's looked even more disgusted. "You allowed him to mount you?" His tail lashed in agitation.
"Was he good?" Solo came swaggering out from behind a rock. He had grown as well, but not nearly as large as Zechs. A black mane, he would have looked sinister if it wasn't for his cocky smile. "You'll have to tell me. Is it true, that when they get over excited their-"
"Enough!" Zechs growled and Solo looked briefly frightened. "We are not here to speak of Duo's perverted lapse of good judgement. Go out onto the plain. Find the prince and bring him to me."
Solo regained his cocky smile. "Maybe I'll show him what happens when a were lion mounts a werewolf.. He might survive it."
"Alive and unharmed," Zechs retorted wearily, as if he were far too used to dealing with Solo's poor sense of humor.
"No," Duo growled. "Leave him alone or I'll_"
Zechs was suddenly pouncing on him between one blink and the next, bearing Duo down onto the cool rock with his much larger size. His fangs and his meaty breath were in Duo's face as he very precisely said, "You, 'my son', are not in a position to give ultimatums. You will do everything that I order or die. " He delicately licked the inside of Duo's ear. "You haven't experienced a male were lion. Your youth made you desperate, I'm certain, and you were drawn to an available mate. I will show you your true desire."
Zechs clamped jaws onto the back of Duo's throat and his claws grabbed Duo's middle. Duo was helpless in that strong grip, helpless against the great body positioning itself above him. Duo's skin and thick fur repelled bites and the slash of claws, and bent with supple ease to reveal his entrance. Heero would have died, cut to bloody ribbons, or broken in those arms, but Duo felt submissive, hating himself, but needing what his instinct demanded. His tail lifted against his will as Zech's pelvis thumped and a hard, dripping erection grazed his entrance. Heero, it was Heero Duo wanted with all his heart, but Zechs knew all the triggers and used them ruthlessly.
Zechs came all along Duo's backside without entering, a low moan reverberating throughout the cave. He sounded it several more times, a triumphant call that let everyone know that the king had mated.
Zechs let Duo go then, a satisfied smile on his face. He had made his point, proven to Duo that he was dominant and King, without going so far as to brutalize him. It was a warning, Duo knew, a threat that had him curling up and shaking, eyes wide.
Zechs told him, "You will stand before the other clans as proof that I can father healthy sons. In return, I will let you live as I allow Solo to live, in my shadow and sharing in the spoils and kills that are mine by right. Together we will take the tribes to war and crush the forest cities and make them ours. We will have what is theirs. We will have cool forests and walled homes. We will have the traders come to us and we will finally have the respect of the other weres that has been denied us."
"If you kill, Heero," Duo said, his voice trembling, but his fear for the were wolf forcing him to try and protect him, "I won't care if I die. I'll welcome it." Zechs had bent to clean himself, tongue rasping. He looked at Duo with a frown.
"I believe you would. I should have known that a runt from the plains was cast out for good reason. Your foster mother took you in out of some misplaced maternal feelings, and I didn't slay you when I took the clan to keep her good will and to lie when I required it. Well, she sees now, I suppose, the error of her ways, a were lion who prefers were wolves to mount him as if he were a female. Can you imagine her disgrace?"
Duo ducked his head, his heart hurting, but then he repeated his threat. "I will die if Heero dies."
"Perhaps I will allow you your plaything," Zechs conceded, "But he may wish death rather than be the convenience of a were lion prince. His position here will be less that my haunch of wildebeast." He caught it in his claws and crunched bone with his strong jaws.
Duo turned and fled the chamber, but Zech's voice followed him. "Don't attempt to leave. My weres will be watching you."
[part 13] [part 15] [back to Kracken's fic]