by: Shoori

Marking it Down to Learning + Chapter 19
The Man Behind the Myth

The tall, powerfully muscled man kneeling on the ground before the bed where Quatre sat, entangled in mussed sheets, threw back his head and laughed.

"That's always been one of my skills," he said easily, agreeing with Quatre's last statement. "I've always rather enjoyed surprising people with my presence."

Quatre shook his head slowly, trying to absorb this latest shock. First Duo, now Treize... who else was going to show up as one of the Order's prostitutes? The Alliance generals they'd killed at the beginning of the war? The scientists? His father?

"Polynices... I'm afraid I must admit I don't understand this at all," he confessed weakly, unable to summon the drawl he usually affected in the presence of the other man.

That was all right, though. Polynices would expect him to be off balance, shocked... It's what he wanted. If Quatre didn't give him the expected reaction, he would be angry, disappointed, possibly even suspicious.

And at this stage in the game, Quatre couldn't afford to arouse his suspicion.

The stakes had already been astronomical ­ now they had again unexpectedly gone up.

Some part of Quatre marveled that, even in the midst of this latest shock, he was still able to focus on mission strategy.

But then, that's what he was.

A strategist.

A tactician.

Lately, he'd been wondering if there was anything more than that. And he was desperately afraid that, despite all he'd hoped for, there wasn't.

Polynices chortled, bringing Quatre sharply back to the present. "I imagine you don't," he agreed happily.

"I have... a lot of... questions," Quatre confessed, aware of the screaming understatement in that statement.

"Well, fire away, boy!" Polynices encouraged happily. He'd been sitting in a chair near the bed ­ now he rose, pausing briefly as he passed the kneeling Treize to kick the other man viciously in the ribs, knocking him to his side, before settling at the foot of the bed Quatre was ensconced in. He wrapped one of the loose silk coverings draped over the bed around himself, and smiled at the blond.

Quatre assessed him a little warily, doing his best to keep his expression neutral. He'd been afraid when the other man approached the bed that he would expect Quatre to welcome a sexual advance from him, but he seemed to be keeping his distance, having moved only to make himself more comfortable.

If he had made that advance, Quatre knew that he would ultimately have had to accept it.

And how he dreaded that.

He'd had sex with Polynices four times over the past two weeks. Usually, it had been after a full night's romping with someone else, so fortunately, Polynices had not expected much from him.

Hadn't expected much at all.

Which in itself, was very strange. It worried Quatre, in fact, how little the other man had expected him to participate in the act. It was almost as if Polynices were using him as he used the prostitutes, and yet at the same time it was very different.

Polynices didn't hurt or attempt to demean him. But their couplings had been very... .businesslike, almost. The other man had explored his body, brought him pleasure, then found his own pleasure inside Quatre... but it had seemed almost like a mechanical action on the older man's part.

Businesslike. That was the one word that kept coming to mind whenever Quatre tried to categorize those encounters. The part of Quatre that was a businessman recognized the signs of negotiation, of a deal being cemented.

He just wished he knew what the deal he'd agreed to was.

And he wished that there were some terms of negotiation available that didn't involve the use of his body.

It was a terrible conflict ­ every time Polynices touched him, he wanted to scream, to run, to delve into the largest ocean in the world to try to wash away some of the taint he felt at being used ­ at allowing himself to be used ­ like that. He didn't want Polynices to touch him; he didn't want to touch the other man. Having someone he didn't want ­ but couldn't refuse ­ touch him, caress him, enter him was one of the most traumatic things Quatre had ever endured.

At the same time, his greatest shame was also his greatest expiation. For what Polynices was doing to him was the same thing he'd done to so many others since this nightmare began.

It was what had been done to Trowa and Duo when they were children.

It was what was being done to Duo now.

It was what he was doing to Duo.

So, though he loathed and hated Polynices' touch, it was also, somehow, his redemption.

Every time that thought flitted across his mind, he shied away from it. It was unhealthy, morbid, sick... like everything else to do with this mission.

He couldn't think about it much, couldn't think about what he did to others, how he hurt people, how Polynices did the same - albeit on a much lesser scale ­ to him.

He just couldn't, he literally couldn't, think of the ways he had violated his own body, and allowed it to be violated by others.

Whenever he did, he felt the tenuousness of the grip he held on his self-control, felt the looming threat of all that he was trying to repress, trying to deny, bear down on him...

Quatre scowled, and forced himself to stop. This was not the time or place to be thinking along those lines! Any loss of control was dangerous; here, it would be suicidal.

And there was more at risk here than his own life.

More even than he'd realized a few moments ago.

He scowled at Treize, who had pulled himself back into a kneeling position. He rested gracefully on wide-spread knees, his hands folded behind his back. His face was nearly expressionless, smooth...except his eyes. He glanced up at Quatre for a brief moment before returning his gaze to the floor...

And Quatre realized that however obedient Treize may have appeared, he was not broken.

Yet.

"Well?" Polynices demanded, a querulous note in his voice. "Don't you have questions?"

Quatre didn't take his eyes off Treize. "But of course," he assured the other man mildly, allowing his voice to take on some of the smooth, cultured air he usually used when speaking to Polynices. The other man would be expecting Quatre to recover quickly, and he couldn't disappoint him. "I'm still just trying to take in the... view," he said, letting Polynices hear the barely veiled lust in his voice.

And there was certainly plenty to lust over.

Treize had always been an attractive man, and he appeared to have hardly changed at all in the last eight years. He looked a little older, but hardly the worse for wear. His thick ginger hair fell in waves around his face ­ a little longer than Treize had worn it when Quatre knew him, but somehow that suited him. The strong features stood out as sharply as ever, his body was firm and well-muscled. The Order's ‘properties,' as Polynices referred to them, were always kept in the best physical condition possible, in order to be as attractive as possible to clients who spent millions to use them. As a result, Treize looked healthy and strong and as fearless and charismatic as he'd been in the long-ago days when they'd been enemies.

But Quatre had never seen him like this, then. His eyes moved down the other man's body, and the signs of Treize's suffering were there, once he took the time to look. Small scars were visible on the smooth skin of Treize's body, with healed evidence of a larger wound here and there. Treize's head was down, and his hands, Quatre realized, were bound, not folded, behind his back. He was naked, except for the bonds around his hands, the collar around his neck, and the black metal rings encircling his erect cock.

Allah, how Treize must hate that. None of the others that Quatre had used came to him ringed and collared like that, unless it were a specific part of the game he was playing that night. But Quatre somehow knew that Treize was kept like this ­ that these mute symbols of his subjugation and defeat were always with him.

Proud, aristocratic Treize, the born leader of men, who had fought to impress his will on the world, was a bound, collared whore, forced to kneel before those who would use him, unable to even control his own body.

That would be, for him, torture worse than any physical pain. It would be worse than death.

He'd been cheated of his glorious death, even though no one knew it except himself and those who kept him. But he'd intended to die a martyr, his death serving as an example to the world of what was lost as a result of violence.

But instead, he was here.

It must be... awful.

Treize looked up briefly, meeting Quatre's eyes, and the blonde's breath caught in his throat at the expression in those vivid, cornflower blue eyes.

In the past years, Relena and Une had made much of the fact that even Treize Kushrenada, the great deceased General, had been a proponent of pacifism, that he'd only fought to show the horror of war, so that no one would ever again be tempted to war. His methods, they allowed, were unorthodox, but at the heart of it, they insisted, even he had been a pacifist.

Quatre and the other pilots had been quietly skeptical. While they allowed that it was entirely possible that one of Treize's motives had been to attempt to demonstrate the full horror of war, and thus prevent it in the future, by exposing the population to a full-blown conflict, it was a little hard to swallow the idea of Treize as a pacifist. A pacifist was someone like King Peacecraft, Relena and Zechs' father, who simply would not ever resort to physical violence, even if they themselves were hurt or destroyed because of that refusal to meet violence with violence. Maybe Treize was fighting for peace (among other things), but the fact that he was fighting for it ­ literally ­ meant he wasn't a pacifist, in the purest form of the word.

That was what Quatre had believed. Now, looking into Treize's eyes for just that brief instant, he knew. Treize was no pacifist. He wanted to - no, he would ­ visit a great deal of physical violence upon Polynices the instant he got the opportunity. And not to show the man the error of his ways so that he could live a better life in the future, either. It would be pure revenge ­ Treize would revenge himself on the person who had brought him to this.

At the same time, though, Quatre saw a fleeting expression in the other man's eyes that shook him enough that he nearly reacted physically to it.

Doubt.

Some part of Treize wondered if he would ever get out of this, if he would ever be able to bring about the reckoning that he had planned.

And that was utterly, entirely alien to the Treize Kushrenada who Quatre had known. Treize had never displayed anything but assurance and towering self-confidence. But now, he didn't know if he would even be able to save himself.

Suddenly, Quatre wondered why Treize was still alive. If anyone would attempt to bring himself an honorable death, it would be Treize. He had done that, in fact, assuring his immortality by assuring his own death in war.

Why had he not brought about his death here? Quatre knew there must be monumental amounts of security on him, but he also knew there were ways to circumvent that. If Treize really wanted death, he would be able to bring it upon himself. Why hadn't he?

"I... how is he here? I thought ­ everyone thought ­ he'd died eight years ago. At the end of the Gundam Wars... "

"I think I'll let him tell you that part," Polynices decided thoughtfully. "Boy!" he barked at Treize, who obediently lifted his head. Quatre barely kept himself from wincing. It must gall Treize terribly to be addressed like that, he who had been used to respect and even adoration from those around him.

And it was hard for Quatre to witness, because he know that even when he was in the height of his own power, Treize had never addressed those around him in such a demeaning way. He had gained the adoration of his armies by showing them the respect he felt for them. Even those who were his enemies had been forced to concede that. Now...

"Mr. Winner wants to know what happened to you," Polynices was telling Treize, as though the other man hadn't been able to understand Quatre's question. It was another small method of humiliation, of demeaning another person ­ insinuating that they couldn't hear or understand conversations between their ‘betters,' that they were like an animal who needed to be addressed by name to understand...

Treize's vibrant blue gaze turned to Quatre. The blond tried to affect the expression expected of him by Polynices ­ trying to appear bored and amused, but rabidly curious underneath. Treize's eyes narrowed assessingly for a moment as he stared at Quatre before beginning his recitation.

"As you know, my suit was destroyed by Pilot 05 during the last battle," Treize said smoothly. "I was knocked unconscious by the force of the explosion, and didn't wake for several months."

Quatre frowned. Treize should never have been able to survive that explosion. No one should have. But, he thought, feeling a touch of irritation, it seemed that no one who was supposed to have died in that war really had. Zechs had reappeared, now Treize... Maybe there were entire colonies of supposed casualties orbiting somewhere in space, full of people the rest of the world thought dead, just waiting to show up and shock the shit out of him when he was least prepared...

"Where were you for those months?" Quatre demanded imperiously, forcing himself to concentrate.

"I'd been... rescued," Treize told him, his mouth curving faintly in a mocking smile. Quatre narrowed his own eyes ­ who had ‘rescued' the OZ general, and how had he ended up here?

"I was picked up by some... remnants of White Fang," Treize told him smoothly, dropping the bombshell as though it was information of no importance.

Quatre stared at him. White Fang? He drew in a sharp breath as he remembered his situation... the others...

Zechs. Allah. Zechs must be listening to this, must be realizing what had happened to his lover in all those years that Zechs had believed him dead. And this latest revelation would make everything so much worse.

"White Fang?" he managed aloud.

Treize nodded. "They were not too pleased with me at that point," he admitted ruefully, the light mockery apparent again in his voice. "Of course, by then they were not too pleased with anyone. And I believed that they feared possible... retributions?" He shrugged easily, despite his bound hands. "At any rate, I do owe them my survival," he continued, his voice heavy with mockery. "I had been... very badly injured." Here, the shadow of remembered pain colored his voice. "It took quite a long time for me to recuperate, and it was they who saw to it that I recovered."

Polynices chuckled. "They wanted to get him healthy enough to stand the hangman," he told Quatre cheerfully. "In a matter of speaking, of course," he added. "Even they could see that this was much too fine a prize to waste just killing him," he finished, his eyes raking obscenely over Treize's nude body.

"What were your injuries?" Quatre demanded. Zechs would need to know.

"Trifles, merely," Treize assured him dismissively. But they hadn't been. Quatre slowly opened himself up, allowed himself to slowly feel the emotions radiating from the other man.

[cont]