Trowa trudged though the dew laden grass, the tops of his boots soaked by the time he reached the house. He had thought of Treize on his walk home, of what he’d seen the night before. What did Treize’s actions, Treize’s lovers, matter to him? He was a child, an ex-worker, a soon to be field hand. What did Treize matter to him, and he to Treize.

He forced the thought out of his mind as he approached the kitchen door. Netti would be up by now, cooking breakfast, humming some gospel tune or another. He hadn’t meant to sleep in the mausoleum, only to have a brief respite before facing the household, facing Treize. But sleep had claimed him and made the decision for him. And even more so, he hadn’t intended to wake up in Heero’s warm arms, hadn’t planned on kissing him. But he had. And, he thought as he thumbed the silk ribbon in his pocket, he would again.

He stepped quietly up the steps and as he had assumed, Netti was there on the other side of the screen door, but she was not yet cooking. No, she was staring at him, as if he’d taken her by surprise, then she turned her head away to look at something near the table. He opened the door and stepped into the room, following her gaze. He did not like what he saw.

There, sitting in a kitchen chair, deathly still but for a steadily tapping foot, was Milliardo. His long legs stretched out like a spider’s and his arms were crossed over his chest. His obvious irritation was a palpable force and he seemed to fill the entire room. Despite the lovely glow the morning sun brought to his platinum locks, he looked ever foreboding, aqua eyes locked on Trowa.

“Where have you been?” The question was calm enough but from Milliardo’s mouth it sounded like a threat.

Trowa froze under the icy glare. ‘Tell the truth, Nashi. It’s all you have.’

“I fell asleep in the mausoleum. I didn’t--”

“Where?” Milliardo leaned forward abruptly, a look on his face as if Trowa had just told him he’d shot his horse. “Where did you say you were?”

Trowa shook a little. He’d never seen Zechs so angry. That’s who he was now, the militant commander of the fields. His eyes were lit with fury and his beautiful face made him seem all the more deadly, a distraction from the danger.

“I . . . the mausoleum. I--”

Zechs stood abruptly and Malaise skittered back to his usual hiding place. Trowa resisted the urge to do the same. But the older man did not advance, he just stared and then spoke.

“Come with me.” And then he turned sharply on his heel, glowing hair trailing behind him, his feet falling heavier than normal.

Following obediently, Trowa chanced a glance at Netti.

“You be okay, chil,” she whispered, almost uncertainly, but it was a comfort none the less.

Zechs led him out of the kitchen, through the dining room and hall, and back into the sitting room he had been in that first night.

“Sit.” Zechs commanded, pointing at a high back chair in the middle of the room. Trowa did as he was told, folding his hands and preparing himself for a lecture, or worse. Zechs remained standing, pacing at intervals and Trowa watched him intently, thinking of what he’d seen the night before. He remembered how the man had looked nude, how his skin had shimmered with sweat, his voice had poured like honey over his ears. And then Treize. He’d done those things to Treize. ‘I don’t think I can take this.’

“Why are you here?” Zechs began his questioning.

“Because I--Because Master Treize asked me to stay.”

“No,” the man replied calmly, “you are here because Master Treize is allowing you to stay. Remember that.”

Zechs paced now, his anger still apparent but not as biting. “Why you were in the mausoleum is irrelevant. How you found it was no doubt through the help of one Heero Yuy, also irrelevant.” He stopped in front of Trowa’s chair now, staring the boy down, “What is quite pertinent, dearest Trowa,” his voice was sour as he placed a hand on either arm of the chair leaning into Trowa’s face, “dearest Nashi . . . is that you do not ever, under any circumstances, return there.”

Trowa flinched as the other man spat his name so close, almost as close as he had been to Treize. He struggled not to let his impassiveness slip. He knew that if he spoke his voice would most likely betray him.

“Do you understand?” Silence. “Do you?!”

Trowa turned his head away from the yell, unable to face Zechs’s beautiful fury. His face was still calm save for the tiny tears escaping his eyes, ignored even as they rolled down his cheeks. His whispered voice caught as he answered, “Yes sir.”

Zechs studied the boy’s averted face, the few tears, the attempt at reserve. He thought lecturing the boy would make him feel better, but this was worse. He was cranky and frustrated and taking his anger out on an undeserving child. He would have to apologize later.

Zechs pushed himself up from the chair, shoving his anger aside, and just as he had changed into the loyal servant for Treize, his personality shifted for Trowa. When he spoke again it was in Milliardo’s softer tones.

“Treize was worried when you didn’t show last night. Clean yourself up and then go see him before breakfast. He’s in his rooms. Don’t mention where you were. Tell him you fell asleep in the forest or the barn. I don’t care so long as you don’t mention the mausoleum.”

Trowa stood taking that as his sign to leave. He had a knot in his throat and his chest was heavy. Was Treize angry with him as well? He hoped not. He wanted the older man to soothe his fears. He needed the comfort. Unfortunately, there was none to be found.

Trowa found Treize at the desk in his study. After a quick bath and a change of clothes, he had rushed to find the older man, eager to apologize. Now he wasn’t so sure hurrying had been a good idea.

Even without seeing his face he could tell by the way he sat, back hunched slightly, head resting in one hand, that he was melancholy. ‘Is it me?’ Trowa wondered. It seemed the man was always sad around him, as if he reminded him of something tragic.

“Treize?” he called gently from the doorway and at the sound of his voice, Treize straightened and turned to regard him. Trowa watched in disbelief as the man shed his sadness like a cloak, only to be replaced by a pseudo indifference.

“Trowa, you’re back.” He turned fully in his chair now, clasping his hands in front of his chest, his demeanor regal and formal. “I trust you had a grand adventure in your absence?”

Why was he being this way? “No sir, not really?”

“Oh?” a honey colored eyebrow raised, “Then what sort of activities kept you from our meeting?”

“I . . . fell asleep in the woods. I was walking and stopped to rest . . . I’m sorry.”

Treize should have been suspicious, but he looked utterly understanding, ‘or is he mocking me?’

“Entirely understandable.” A gentle smile. “And Heero?”

Trowa was taken aback at that, “Heero?”

“Yes. Did he sleep well?”

Trowa blanched at the remark. What was he insinuating? “I don’t know . . . he was there when I woke, but--” He stopped mid sentence when he saw the look on Treize’s face. His eyes dropped to Trowa’s feet and the slight small began to fade like the illusion it was. Treize obviously thought his suspicions were confirmed.

“Treize, I--”

“No matter.” Treize interrupted, his tone flat. “I asked you up because I wanted to discuss your gift.” He swallowed hard and stood, walking across the room and brushing past Trowa on his way out the door. “Follow me.”

For the second time that day, Trowa let himself be led.

The air in the upper parts of the house were warmer, staler than the more lived in areas. The heaviness of it seemed to cling to one’s clothing, one’s lungs. Though for all it’s unpleasantness, it held a sense of importance, the apex to a sprawling estate, the brain of an architectural body.

Treize opened the door he had so firmly shut the night before, leading Trowa into a small, poorly lit room. The floor was a maze of stacks of papers and boxes, the walls lined with cabinets. The far right end of the room was completely unlit by the small window at left, and was beyond eerie.

“This,” Treize began, no longer hiding his disappointment yet still clinging to formality, “is your gift.”

Trowa looked around dubiously, “Is this my new room?’

Treize ignored the question, “My father kept records of all of his slaves, particularly of their purchase and sale. Unfortunately,” he sighed, toeing a nearby stack that reached past his shin, “he was not very organized. I came up here last night to look around and found nothing of what I was looking for. Perhaps you will have better luck.”

Trowa was confused by the direction Treize was taking for a moment and then realization set in.

“You mean . . .” he stared in wonderment at the piles, boxes and cabinets before him, his voice shaking, “my parents, they’re in here somewhere?”

“Somewhere,” Treize sighed, “though it’s possible you may never find them. These,” he nudged one of the boxes, “are most likely banking papers, but the others--” he stopped himself as he felt a warm body press against his, slender arms snaking around his sides.

“Thank you,” Trowa managed, shedding tears for the third time that day. He didn’t care how angry or hurt Treize was, he was so grateful for this. Even if he never found his parents, the gesture was enough.

Treize was somewhat stunned by the boy’s actions and his face showed it for a moment.

“Thank you,” he heard the sweet voice say again. The boy was warm against him, arms encircling him, the side of his head pressed to his chest. He wrapped his own arms around the small form and the boy shuddered.

‘So frail,’ Treize thought, ‘how can I be angry with him?’ He kissed the top of Trowa’s head, his lips brushing over the reddish silk there. He wanted to hold him forever, kiss more than his head. ‘You don’t deserve him Khushrenada. Apologize! Apologize now!’

“Well,” he said instead, “I’ll leave you to it,” and then he pulled away, leaving Trowa looking rejected among the long forgotten documents.

He shut the door behind him and headed back to his suite, his heart even heavier than before. He was telling himself it was good that he hadn’t apologized. He needed distance. He didn’t deserve the frail angel he’d left crying in the attic. He never had. ‘I don’t,’ he thought remorsefully.

“Neither of you.”

|Part 11|