The Prize + Part 4 (cont)

"Treize has taught you well, Chang-san," she whispered.

"Thank you. But it was Milliardo who taught me to tango."

"Milliardo? You mean Zechs? Yes, Zechs is a fantastic dancer."

Wufei looked sharply at her. "You love him."

Noin could not hide her shock, but she didn't have time to answer as Wufei dipped her and then swung her around about face for the next five count.

"In a way. We were children together."

"He is a wonderful man."

Now came Noin's turn to look hard at Wufei. "And what about our great General? What sort of man do you think he is?"

"Hmph. I don't wish to repeat it in a lady's presence," came his curt reply.

"You love him."

Wufei nearly fell on his face. "Onna!"

Noin smirked. "Turn about is fair play, ne?"

"Onna." This time the word had been softly whispered.

"You do. You just don't know it yet."

"Woman, I assure you, I will fall in love with General Treize Krushrenada the day this collar comes off my neck. I expect that to be the day after hell freezes over."

"I see." Zechs had been right. It's only a matter of time. Clearly the boy fell smitten, or else his cheeks wouldn't be as flushed as they are now. But what about Treize?

She looked over to see the General standing against the wall, with an entourage of guests clucking away at him, but his eyes were glued to the Chinese boy, soaking in the sight and blazing it on his memory. Yes, the two were clearly going to fall in love.

"May I cut in?" came a soft, sultry voice. Wufei stopped dancing and looked behind him to see Zechs looking at Noin with something far beyond admiration in his eyes. He peered at Noin, who blushed deeply, trying to hide her smile. Geez, did they have to be so obvious about it?

"Um, sure. Thank you, Noin. You were a wonderful dance partner."

"You're welcome Wufei. You're not so bad yourself."

Wufei bowed and began to head back towards the wall where his master rooted himself, when he tripped over a small little figure on the floor.

"Oh forgive me! Did I hurt you, child?"

A little girl with bright blue eyes and blonde hair looked up at him. "No," she replied simply.

"Aren't you scared of me?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Cause you're my daddy's new pet."

Wufei looked hard at the child. She looked about three or four, but he sensed her mind was much older. "Um, what?"

"I said you are my daddy's new pet."

"Your... daddy's???"

"The General's my dad. You can call me Marie. And I can call you dragon. I'm here with my nanny and I get to dance the last dance with daddy!"

"Your Treize's... daughter!?! Where have you been all this time?"

"Don't be rude! I was with my nanny. I missed daddy very much, but now that the war is over I can seem him lots."

Wufei felt faint. It had been just too much. A small tug at his pants leg brought him back to the present. "What, Marie kosan?"

"I want to dance. Dance with me?"

Wufei wanted to refuse her, kick her away from him and run back upstairs, but then even the thought of going into the bedroom that belonged to Treize made his stomach turn. Why did this news so upset him? Well, he had never once even raised his voice to a child, and he could not bring himself to hurt this one now. He bowed reverently and picked Marie up, resting her on his hip with a natural ease.

Treize noticed this ease, this apparent knowledge and confidence around children and shifted it away in the back of his mind. He wanted to ask Wufei about it later, and also why he hadn't been in his Gundam during the final battle? Treize watched his daughter laugh and sing as Wufei twirled her around the floor, his hands resting lightly on her little back, his eyes smiling and happy, even though he clearly felt uncomfortable at the ball. Wufei had a single-mindedness and an innocent charm that alluded Treize.

"How does your new prize suit you my lord?" Une asked over the murmuring of the crowd.

"I could not be more satisfied, Lady Une." Well, maybe after I bed him, Treize thought.

"That is excellent to hear, sir."

When the little fox trot was over, Wufei set Marie down and sent her off to play with the other children on the floor. Then he made a beeline for the balcony and quickly disappeared behind the red velvet curtains. Treize followed, breaking the conversation surrounding him without so much as a second thought.

Wufei walked out onto the terrace, the familiar terrace that he had not set foot on since the day he had been attacked. The night air blew chilly and he could see his breath. He looked up at the stars. "Minna." What the hell is wrong with me?

"Wufei?"

Wufei felt startled to hear his name from Treize's lips. He stopped leaning against the railing and let his hands fall to his sides. "That's a beautiful daughter you have, Treize.

Treize smiled. "Thank you. She was a child born of love, but I had no where to keep her during the war."

"Yes," Wufei said, not really wanting to hear anymore.

"I was going to tell you about her, dragon, but there wasn't time."

"Of course. I've only been here for three months. I understand."

"Dragon, you're very beautiful when you bitch at me, do you know that?"

"Be serious."

"Have you ever known me to tell a joke?"

"Treize."

"Wufei?"

"I can't keep this up much longer. I... I don't have the energy anymore."

"What do you mean?"

"Please. I have to know now. Where are my boundaries? What is expected of me? Why am I here? Will I ever go home? What is to become of me? Are you my master or my friend or... What am I to you?" Wufei felt like he would sob. He always felt so tired! He felt utterly exhausted, like his limbs were made of wet sand. His mouth felt like it was full of cotton and his heart beat like the wings of a little bird in a cage.

"Dragon," Treize whispered. He came up behind Wufei and encircled his arms around the trembling boy. "I brought you here because... you have no home. No family. Nothing to return to. I brought you here because I want you safe... I want you near me."

"Why?"

"Because..." His lips brushed against Wufei's ear. "I love you."

Wufei turned around and spat in Treize's face. Then he smacked him hard across the jaw and hissed "Usotuki!" He stomped off into the ballroom, leaving Treize standing in shock on the balcony.

Treize snapped out of it quickly though and strode after Wufei. He didn't have to go very far. Wufei stood frozen in the middle of the ballroom floor, staring agape at Lady Une. Lady Une had little Marie in her hands and she looked at Wufei with a smug expression. "Well, well Chang. We meet again. Your master tells me you please him. I am overjoyed."

Wufei, out of reflex, fell to the floor, his palms hitting the marble with a cold smack, his head lowered. His entire body shook with fear. Not again not again this isn't happening to me because Treize is here and he'll make it okay and oh fuck I just hit him and now Une will kill me!

"You needn't bow to me, Wufei. Only to your master, as we agreed, remember?"

Wufei stayed on the floor, his eyes brimming with tears. The humiliation had been nothing compared to the fear that gripped him.

"Lady!" Treize boomed. "What is the meaning of this nonsense!"

"Why, my lord. Just as you say. Stand up Wufei," Une commanded.

Wufei did it so fast Treize had to wonder if he even saw the movement. He searched Une's face but found nothing but cold amusement. "I'm going to ask again, one more time, what does this mean?"

"Mr. Chang and I are old acquaintances. When you summoned for Chang Wufei, you sent me to bring him and asked me to make sure he was properly prepared. After what you told me tonight, I assumed I had fulfilled my duties."

"Exactly how did you prepare him, Lady?"

Une looked down at Marie and the crowd and then away and Treize's face burned in anger and shame. "This was not what I asked!"

Wufei's head reeled. He couldn't breathe at all, and standing there in the presence of Une and all the other guests, who were just starring at him, he felt suddenly very small and very cold. Blood trickled out of his nose and he fought for consciousness but he knew he wouldn't win. His little body sunk to the floor almost silently, and he had never been aware of Treize's warm hands as they rushed forward to steady him and ease him gently back up. Chang Wufei's heartbeat became remarkably fragile, and he slipped deeper into the darkness than he had ever been before...

+

Treize asked Noin to watch Marie and make some excuse and then begged Zechs to follow him upstairs. "Une!" he barked. "Follow me!"

Treize then rushed up the stairs, leaving the other two in his wake as he burst into his bedroom and quickly placed Wufei upon the soft mattress. He undid the boy's tie and the first few buttons of his shirt. Wufei had a fever, a very severe fever, and he trembled slightly. Treize didn't look up as he heard the other two come into the room. He reached for the phone and dialed 77 and said, "I need a doctor up here. Now." He slammed the phone down and turned, expression utterly feral. "Une. What have you done?"

"My Lord, as you asked. I simply prepared the boy for life as your slave."

"Quickly, what did that entail?"

"Um, various things, sir. How to treat you, how to kneel and how to address you, how to please you, how to serve various meals -- "

"Stop! Go back! What do you mean how to please me?" Treize's voice betrayed very little feeling. But Zechs knew him well enough. He would kill Une in cold blood if she didn't watch her step. Zechs, for his credit, said nothing to warn the lady and merely moved closer to the bed to check on the boy.

"I had him trained, my Lord. To please you sexually. In case you were ever so inclined -- "

"You had him raped?"

"He resisted at first sir, but after the implant -- "

"IMPLANT! " Zechs and Treize screamed.

"Yes, the implant. A small device put in the boy's left arm; it releases a depressant every couple of hours, to keep him from fighting too much... I... I thought you said you found him agreeable sir..."

Treize stood up and spun around to face Une. He had never struck a woman before in his life. He struck one now. Une's eyes filled with tears; she looked utterly heartbroken.

"Never. Never in my life as anyone ever caused me to lose my self-control, as you have just now. I don't know whether to throttle you here or save it for the firing squad."

"Treize." Zechs voice sounded very quiet. "You need to calm down. Wufei. He needs you right now. You have to be calm to help Wufei."

"Yes, Milliardo. Except I don't know how I can ever make up for..." His shoulders shook.

"Let's just start with the doctors removing the implant."

"Une. Tell me we can remove the implant without hurting the boy!"

"Of course, my Lord. I left that option open," her haunted voice whispered, "in case you wanted him to resist... I only thought to please you..."

"...You're disgusting. Get out of my sight. You are no longer welcomed at OZ and if you ever come near my daughter -- "

"General Kushrenada! We're here!" Two young men in white lab coats rushed into the room out of breath. They looked at the boy on the bed and started towards him.

"Leave," Treize said to Une. "This is my way of rewarding you for years of loyal service. If I ever see you again, you're dead, Une." Treize then turned and looked at the doctor's fussing over Wufei.

Une looked at Zechs, appealing for his support, but all she got from him had been a cold frown and arms folded across a very tight chest. Defeated, she ran out of the room sobbing.

"The boy had an implant of some sort in his left arm. I should have noticed it sooner. It's been affecting him all along... You must remove it as soon as possible."

Even as Treize spoke, one doctor ran his fingers over the small incision as the other doctor took Wufei's vitals. The doctors looked at each other and then at Treize. The one checking Wufei's pulse said, "He is very weak sir. His fever is at a dangerous pitch and I'm loathe to operate on someone with such a weak pulse. However, it might be the implant that's affecting him and therefore we need to operate as soon as possible."

The other doctor looked up. "It's a coin toss, either way, sir. We'll do whatever you say, but, the chances aren't very good."

"Do whatever you have to. Get it out of him. If he's going to die, he can at least do so as himself... and not as... some damned puppet..."

Zechs placed a firm grip on Treize's arm; the older man's anguish cut him to the quick.

"Treize. Have faith. Wufei won't be beaten by a silly little fever. The boy's been orphaned, widowed, conquered, raped, and sold to the enemy.. .and still managed to be a pain in your ass. I think he can survive this. Ne?" Zechs attempted to be light hearted, but he could not disguise the fear in his voice.

"Ah. If anyone can survive this, my little Fei can. Quickly, Milliardo. The infirmary!"

The doctors and Zechs followed as Treize lifted the frail little shell of his love and rushed towards the door.

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