Beginning's End + Part 11
I come slowly to consciousness, aware of a dull ache pounding through my head. I try to lift one hand to rub at the source of the ache, but find that I can't move either hand.
That jerks me back to consciousness rather quickly. Both of my hands are bound. So are my ankles. I'm lying on my front, on some sort of cold, flat surface. I shiver at the cold radiating up from whatever it is I'm lying on, and only then realize that I'm unclothed.
I firmly squelch the panic that threatens to overwhelm me. This was a foregone conclusion. It's nothing that I should be surprised by.
I turn my head and open my eyes to get some sense of where I am, and then a touch of that panic manages to break through the barriers I have erected. I can't see. I see some light, a stray beam or two, and realize that I've been blindfolded. I rub my face experimentally against the surface I'm bound to, and can tell as it scrapes against my skin that its some type of coarse cloth.
I force myself to breathe in deeply, hold the air, and release it slowly. I hate being tied, restrained. I can bear it, though, can separate myself from it. But I truly despise being blindfolded. When I'm bound, unable to move, I can at least make use of my other senses to anticipate what's coming, have those split-seconds of time to prepare, so that I can react properly. Without my sight, I don't have that, can't prepare or anticipate or be ready. I can only receive, and react, and I hate it.
No. I will not panic. I will not play into his hands. He will not know how much the added vulnerability of the blindfold disturbs me.
I subtly test my bonds. My arms are stretched high above my head and are shackled together and to something else. I don't dare try to figure it out too obviously, as I don't know whether I'm being observed, and I don't want to appear awake.
I feel an ache in my midsection, and realize that it's the edge of something hard, like a table, that I've been bound to. I casually shift the muscles in my legs, and realized that they've been spread apart, and, though my feet are resting on the ground, they're chained to something immobile.
Great. This just couldn't be any better, could it?
"Well good morning, Nanashi. So good to see that you're with us again."
I had to ask, didn't I? Bastard. He probably knew I was awake before I did. He just sat there and let me figure out how utterly helpless I am before he revealed his presence.
The hate I feel for him begins to burn in my chest. I dampen it, imagining it as a glow that slowly fades away to nothing. Even hate is too much feeling. Even that must go.
"So, Oslo tells me that he didn't really enjoy his chat with you." His voice is closer now. It seems to be coming from in front of me, probably to the right.
"He said you weren't very informative." He's even closer. He must be walking toward me.
"Didn't you like Oslo?" he asks. His voice is very close now. He must be standing right next to me. My skin vibrates with tension, waiting for whatever is coming. This is part of his game too. I try to force my muscles to relax, but forcing yourself to relax is a rather contradictory set of nerve impulse instructions, so the attempt doesn't succeed very well.
He's silent for a long time. Intimidation technique, my mind tells me. I tense up in anticipation, then relax when nothing is forthcoming, then when I least expect it…
His hand descends on me. Although I'd been expecting it, priming and preparing myself not to react, I instinctively start slightly when I feel it. He doesn't hit me. He starts at my shoulder, then slowly, gently even, strokes the length of my arm from the shoulder to my bound wrist.
It takes all of my strength not to shudder. My stomach churns in disgust. I want to pull away from the light touch, run away, scream. It's worse then a blow would have been.
He chuckles. "Jumpy," he comments. "Are you still afraid of me, Nanashi?" he needles, continuing to stroke my arm.
"I'm not a frightened fourteen-year-old anymore, Barton," I remind him, thankful that my voice doesn't quaver. "But I see you're still awfully brave when you're dealing with someone who can't fight back."
His hand stops abruptly, and I can almost feel the anger that he's been trying to hold back permeate the air. I hope I can make him angry. It'll be over sooner.
Instead, he chuckles. "Oh, no, Nanashi," he mocks. "You aren't shifting my mind like that. Why are you here?"
I sigh. "I'm here for my Gundam," I extemporize. He'll believe that at least.
He laughs heartily. "Your Gundam," he repeats. "This Gundam is no more yours than the first one was, Nanashi. It's mine," he says, and his voice grows hard. "It's mine, just like the other was, just like the mission was, just like the world was before you" here he grasps a handful of my hair and yanks on it, "sneaked in like the little thief that you are and stole it all away!"
My head smarts where he pulled my hair, but strangely, I begin to relax. I can handle violence.
I hear him inhale deeply, and he lets go of my hair. His hand is on my shoulder again, and when he speaks this time, he whispers directly into my ear. "They were all mine, and will be again. This Gundam is mine, and now…so are you, Nanashi." I feel him straighten up. "And you have some explaining to do."
His hand wanders down the side of my body, his fingers curving around my hip. I bite the side of my tongue to keep from reacting.
"Why did you take the Gundam?" he asks.
I shrug, as best I can with my arms bound above me. "Noone else was using it," I offer insolently.
He laughs again, a sharp bark of sound. "Well, I certainly wasn't," he agrees. "Not since I was shot in the back and left for dead. I'm deeply hurt that you didn't rush to my aid, Nanashi."
I'm silent. I wish I'd pulled a gun and shot him a few more times, just to make sure.
"It's a good thing that some people are loyal," he tells me. "Thankfully, one of my father's men pulled my body out of the trash heap that that bastard S had left it in before it could be launched into space. He smuggled me back to my home colony, where I was able to recover. My father thought it best if the world continued to believe me dead, so I remained undercover for the rest of the war."
His fingers stroke lightly up and down my side and I fight the urge to wretch.
"Then I had my chance again," he muses. "Through my niece. Once she was enthroned, I could come out of the shadows and take my place in history. And again, you stood in the way." His voice deepens. "This time, you infiltrated my own damn army, using my own name." He's silent for a moment. "I wanted to kill you myself, right then. Father wouldn't let me - he didn't want to alienate Chang. We needed his Gundam. We hadn't uncovered S.'s old plans yet, so we couldn't build our own. So I had to watch you again destroy everything that was mine."
His hand slides beneath me, his fingers rubbing the flesh of my thigh. My nostrils flare with the effort it takes to resist pulling away.
"I've wondered about you, Nanashi," he continues reflectively. "You're my own personal curse, my nemesis, a demon who bears my name and who appears constantly to thwart me. You watched me almost die, stole my Gundam and my name, watched my father die. But now…Now you're mine, Nanashi. I will take everything from you as you took everything from me. You will see everything you care about destroyed. And then, Nanashi, you will die."
I feel the old coldness coming over me. Threats and warnings. The last refuge of the weak.
"But not yet," he promises, and I sense him move to stand behind me.
Suddenly, his hands are on my back, and I can't help it. I flinch and try to pull away from his touch.
He laughs as his fingers move across my skin, tracing the lines of each scar, his fingernails roughly scraping over the larger, more ridged ones. "You never did like that, did you, Nanashi?" he asks, and this time the amusement in his voice is genuine. "I remember giving you some of these," he muses, still tracing scars, "but you already bore some of them the first time I had you. You never told me where they came from. Maybe I'll make you tell me now…"
He can't. I hold fiercely to that thought. Whatever he does, I'll never tell him, never say the words, never let him laugh his way through the story of that old horror….
Unbidden, the pictures rise in front of my eyes, and with the blindfold, I can't push them away, can't focus on something else and make the images fade…
"At least he ain't struggling so much any more."
"Nah, 's'boring. We should make him dance."
Raucous laughter, drowning out the grunts of the man pushing himself into me. The pain is incredible, burning, searing. I can't escape, can't get away. There are too many of them, and I am too weak.
"You know, we're wasting half the merchandise," one rough voice points out.
"How you mean?"
"He's got a mouth, don't he? He should be using it."
I deserve this. It is my penance. The first mercenary group that I was with, the ones that raised me, had never done this, rough as they were. But they're all dead. I let them die because I believed them traitors, though I was the one that had been duped. This wouldn't be happening if they were alive. They are dead because of me. Therefore, this is my own fault, a result of my own actions.
"Yeah! Hey kid, open up. We got something more for ya."
I feel a meaty fist yank on my hair, and feel something press against my tightly closed lips. It's…it's…No! I'll be damned if I just cooperate with that. I can't prevent them from the other, but this much I can control and they'll never, never do this.
There's a muted roar behind me, and I feel a flood of disgusting wetness inside me as the man behind me thrusts deep inside me one more time. Abruptly, he's gone, and another man takes his place.
Will this never end? How the Hell many of them are there anyway?
"Come on, kid!" The one holding my hair pulls on it again. "Open your damn mouth!"
I won't. I won't.
"Hey, Rog. He ain't cooperatin'."
Rog must be the one behind me, because he stops, buried deep within me. "You know, you don't cooperate, we have to be unpleasant to you," he warns, grinding against me for emphasis.
I don't care. I won't do it. I won't be an active participant in this.
Rog sighs. "Hand me that," he tells someone behind him, gesturing at something I can't see.
"You asked for it, kid," he tells me in a mockingly sad voice. Suddenly, something descends on my unprotected back. It feels like a line of fire descending against my skin. I feel the flesh tear open, feel the blood pour out.
"Open your mouth," Rog grinds out.
The whip descends again, then again. He stops reissuing his order between blows, just lets the lash fall again and again. The pain builds and builds until it is unbearable…I can't hold it in anymore…I open my mouth to scream…
…and the man in front of me thrusts into my mouth. Rog laughs and begins to thrust into me again from behind, his hands running over my torn skin, rubbing in the blood, tearing the already shredded flesh. The man in front of me groans, ordering me what to do with my mouth, with my tongue, ignoring my gags as he pushes himself down my throat.
I comply. There's no reason not to. My degradation is complete.
The old memory, that I have not allowed myself to recall in its entirety in years, storms through my mind with the ferocity of a hurricane, threatening to break my already weak resolve.
No! Barton hasn't even done anything yet. I will not break so easily. I'm not ten years old, or fourteen years old. I'm a man, a solider, a Gundam pilot. I can withstand whatever Barton can dish out.
He sighs regretfully. "You'll tell me some day, Nanashi," he promises. "Until then…" He strokes one particular scar. "I see some of these have begun to fade. I gave them to you as keepsakes, remembrances of our times together. If they're fading…does that mean you've forgotten me, Nanashi?"
I wish he'd just get on with it. These elaborate games of cat and mouse he loves so much are rather wearing. He's starting to diminish his own effect.
Maybe he realizes that. At any rate, I hear the rustle of cloth behind me, the sound of a zipper, the soft thud of discarded material.
"I'll have to remind you," he whispers. I tense as he grasps my hips, and suddenly he slams himself inside me.
It's amazing what time and distance does. Intellectually, I had remembered, but physically I had forgotten the blinding pain of an unexpected, unsought, penetration. Despite the cloth covering my eyes, flashes of red illume my vision, as he thrusts in and out of me.
"God, Nanashi," he grunts. "I'd been informed that you were with that pilot Maxwell, but I must have been misled. Either that, or his dick is tiny. You're as tight as you were when you were a kid. I've missed you, Nanashi."
No! How dare he - how dare he mention Duo! I fight down the incoherent scream of anger and rage threatening to erupt from my throat. This can't be happening again…I can't be here…This can't be me…
Calm. Detachment. Separation. Count the thrusts, like in the old days. Reach a high enough number, and he'll be done. One… Two... Three…
Despite my attempts at aloofness, I feel pain and shame flow through my entire body. I thought I'd gone so far, but here I am again. Someone else's toy. Helpless to stop the violation of my own body.
I'm still counting. Finally, as some cold, logical corner of my mind had assured me would happen, I reach a high enough number, and he's finished. I feel his teeth come together, biting hard on the side of my neck, marking me, as he erupts inside me. He collapses heavily on top of me, and my stomach roils at the sour smell of his sweat and his seed.
My eyes are closed beneath the blindfold. My body is still. There is no point resisting, rebelling. Later, next time, I will have to struggle, fight, protest if I am to retain his interest long enough to keep him from searching for our base.
But later doesn't matter. This first time mattered. From now on, my struggles will be an act, timed and designed for his pleasure. This time, they would have been real, and I would never have escaped them.
But I succeeded. I won. He didn't drive me into the insanity that beckoned, welcomed me even. I could have hidden within it, unknowing and uncaring of what happened to my physical form. But again, that would have paled quickly. The mission would have been compromised.
The mission must be protected. It must be accomplished.
He stirs, and I feel his weight lifted.
"I have missed you, Nanashi," he murmurs again. "I promise you, I'll never forget this reunion," he continues. "And I'll make sure that you never forget it either."
The panic I thought I had successfully quelled rushes back in full force. No! He's not going to…he can't! No!
But he is. He can. He does. I hear the swish through the air, feel the burning pain as the whip descends across my back, feel the already scarred skin ripped open yet again.
"Welcome back, Nanashi," he whispers as the lash connects with my back.
I open my mouth to scream, to let loose all the anguish and horror swelling through my soul. It's too much, however, to be expressed in mere sound, and nothing comes out. My throat aches, my breath is cut off, and the pain in my chest equals that on my back but no sound comes out.
NOOOO! HELP ME! my heart, my soul, and my mind scream in unison, before they are all mercifully silenced by the darkness of unconsciousness.