Disclaimers and warnings still apply


Part Five : No Return

"Those mirrors were broken and scratched in places; despite their solidity,
someone had been able to make star-shaped cracks in them. This proved to me
beyond doubt that the torture chamber had been used before we came into it.
Some poor soul must have fallen into that 'deadly illusion' and furiously
attacked those mirrors, which continued to reflect his death struggle in
spite of their slight injuries. And the tree branch on which he had ended
his torment was placed in such a way that, as he was about to die, he had
the final consolation of seeing a multitude of hanged men kicking
convulsively with him."
~The Persian, of Erik's Torture Chamber

Winner placed his meticulously-manicured hands on the edge of the table,
expression carefully sweet as he said, "You’re saying he’s had five
opportunities to kill him and has pulled out every time?"

Across from him, Yuy stood at strict attention, cobalt eyes flat as he met
his leader’s gaze unflinchingly. Winner arched an approving eyebrow; the boy
did indeed recover well. The Arabian had never known anyone to bounce back
from Maxwell’s ministrations as quickly as this boy had, and he took it as a
sign of his own ability to have chosen the Japanese assassin and tested him
thus. The mute nodded, lips moving silently as he explained what he had
seen. "Five. I might have expected this from Maxwell if he got a taste for
the brat, but I expected far more from Nanashi." Winner frowned. He had
chosen the ex-mercenary carefully and twisted the malleable, abused
personality with care. After dealing with the forceful personalities of
Chang and Maxwell and the disappointments of Peacecraft and Catalonia,
Winner had chosen Nanashi as someone who would ruthlessly follow his orders
without question. "Damn. We’ll have to take care of it then."

Yuy’s head tilted to the side, expression faintly questioning as he moved
his mouth, knowing Winner would read his lips with no problem.

"No, I don’t want Maxwell going alone. I want to handle this matter
personally." Yuy looked surprised for a moment before carefully schooling
his face to expressionless. Winner did *not* go out in the field, and the
wide eyes usually kept so carefully sweet were narrowed and tight. "Go get
Maxwell. If Nanashi fights us somehow or we run into more than one of them,
we’ll need him." Yuy argued and Winner glared unrelentingly. "I know he’s
gotten his hands on the other Chang, but he can damn well play later. Do I
make myself clear?"

One sharp nod and Yuy turned, disappearing through the door.

Lightning flashed in Winner’s eyes as the room filled with silence, no hint
of the angel he pretended to be in the hard expression. //I will not stand
for betrayal, Nanashi. Don’t think I haven’t dealt with this before, or will
hesitate even a moment to send you Peacecraft’s way.//


Consciousness returned slowly to Wufei, fighting its way through hazy
nightmare images of a violet-eyed demon laughing blood. Dark eyes opened
slowly, startled by bright light and clenching shut in pain as he released a
low moan against his will.

"Awake, are you? That’s a good pet . . . open your eyes for me . . ."

That voice, so familiar and wanted, pulled Wufei’s mind completely from the
darkness and he forced his eyes open again, waiting tensely for the pain to
stop shooting out from his temples as his eyes adjusted. He tried to turn
his head and found he couldn’t move; no amount of strength could seem to
twitch so much as a finger and he bit back panic. A shadow fell over him,
accenting the swift, uneven rise and fall of his chest as that voice said
again, "Good . . . very good. You recover quickly."

Wufei managed to roll his eyes to the side and he stared in awestruck wonder
at the vision before him. Duo was seated on the edge of the bed in nothing
but waves of lose hair and skintight black pants ripped through with
crimson. Scattered throughout his hair were small braids and he balanced the
hilt of a razor-edged knife effortless on one palm. It was a beautiful
piece, intricately carved on both blade and handle, practically shining from
care. The Chinese boy struggled to speak, to say anything, but it was
impossible. "Poor baby," Duo cooed, tossing the knife in the air as he
turned to crawl on the bed. Reaching behind his back, he effortlessly caught
the weapon again and drew it around to lay it against Wufei’s cheek.
"Confused, aren’t you? Disorientation is only the first step, Fei, pet.
There’s so much more to come." He smiled, and ice ran the length of Wufei’s

Maxwell couldn’t seem to stop smiling. His lovely new pet was dressed in the
same design as him, but the leather pants were white and stripped through
with blue. Maxwell had always wanted to see Chang in the outfit but his
lover wasn’t much for games, just deep, constant, lasting, pure sex. Unable
to move anything except those velvet eyes that were studying with a
wonderful combination of fury and fear, Wufei was a delicious distraction
for the starved American. "You’re so pretty," he said warmly, running his
fingers lightly over the unresponsive body, exploring the familiar planes
with sensual curiosity. "Silk hair, dark eyes, toned body, that dark bronze
skin..." he trailed his touch over the tight pants and Wufei’s eyes widened
as he tried valiantly to speak, to scream, anything. "And that voice..you
have his voice too..." Maxwell’s smile grew dangerous and he leaned in until
his mouth was right behind his captive’s ear. "I’ve never heard Chang
scream. You’ll scream for me, pet . . . I’ll make you scream."

Wufei’s heart was beating triple-time and his mind was screaming, demanding
for his body to move as he felt Maxwell’s hot breath caressing his cheek.
//This is wrong! This is wrong!

Duo-!! Gods, let me go, please, anything, anyone but you, Duo...// There was
a flash of pain in his side and he jerked, managing to move if only

Maxwell smiled and moved back, sitting on his knees and watching with
heavy-lidded eyes as power quickly returned to that lovely toned body. He
adored these drugs, found by Chang and given to him two years before. They
worked fast and in synch with each other; one brought on instant
unconsciousness while the other was an antidote for the first, taking only
five minutes to return the victim to a full if weakened range of movement.
He smoothly covered the needle and slipped the empty vial into his pocket as
Wufei struggled to his elbows, expression caught between a glare and extreme
hurt. "There’s a good pet. I’m impressed!" Maxwell glanced at his watch.
"Three minutes! You’re stronger than I thought. Wonderful."

"Who-who are you?" Wufei glared at his attacker despite the fact that his
head was spinning and he was exhausted, having to tunnel all his
concentration into moving. Maxwell raised slender eyebrows at him, an
expression Wufei had never seen on Duo’s face in the three years he’d known
him. This wasn’t Duo, not his Duo. He knew the American too well to believe
he was capable of shoving his tongue down another person’s throat and
knocking him unconscious. Besides, Duo could have any person he wanted -
male or female - there was no reason he’d set his sights on his roommate.

"Why I’m Duo, pet. You’d think after living in the same room for a year you’
d recognize me." A slender hand reached out and traced the smooth line of
Wufei’s arm.

Wufei jerked his arm away, cursing when he realized the movement was
strangely slow. "You are *not* Duo."

"What makes you say that?" Maxwell purred, laughing lightly as Wufei pushed
away and pressed against the headboard, still shaking a bit with the
after-effects of the drugs.

"Duo wouldn’t do what you did to me," Wufei bit out, eyes hard and
frightened at once.

"Kiss you, you mean?" The other boy’s flinch was more than enough answer and
Maxwell’s eyes practically shone. "Ooooh, so your little crush doesn’t want
you?" Maxwell pushed up to his hands and knees, crawling close and forcing
Wufei to crowd even tighter to the headboard. A hand started at the slender
ankle and made its slow way up Wufei’s leg in a long languid caress that
sent a wave of confused disgust and need through Wufei’s body. The other boy
leaned close, the large violet eyes and lustful expression straight out of
the Chinese boy’s more forbidden dreams. "Well *I* want you, so why fight
me, hmm?"

Terror and unwanted desire were so clear in those gorgeous velvet eyes that
Maxwell’s groin tightened. He laughed softly, a low and dangerous sound, and
suddenly grabbed Wufei’s arms, stepping gracefully off the bed and ripping
the Chinese boy into a standing position. "Look around, pet," he murmured,
pressing his chest to the slightly wavering boy’s back. Wufei stiffened, his
breath catching in fear and confusion, dizzy from the drugs and the sudden
change of position. "Take it all in."

Wufei’s eyes were squeezed shut but Maxwell’s hands on his upper arms made
them snap open and he found himself obeying the sensual whisper against his
will. "Shit..." he breathed, and heard that musical laugh behind him again.

The room wasn’t terribly large, and was almost totally filled by the large
bed he had awakened on, but what room there was had been put to optimum use.
Chains, knives, leather strips, collars...a million devices created for the
sole purpose of causing pain lined the walls, along with a number of metal
devices Wufei didn’t think he *wanted* to know what were. There were at
least two places to be chained upright to the wall itself and hooks on the
ceiling, and the bed had chains on the corner as well. Somehow not matching
the rest of the room were a collection of soft silks and feathers, all
black. A shudder passed down his back as the implications of such an
esoteric collection were sank in.

Wufei stood frozen until something cold pressed against his back and he
jumped, tensing as he felt Maxwell come around in front of him. The American
held a knife in his hand that gleamed with the light of a weapon cared for a
sharpened to a razor’s edge. He slipped the blade easily into a sheath
hanging from his belt and circled his captive like a shark, lightly running
his fingers over his own bare chest, rubbing against nipples already tight
with anticipation and imagining those strong, familiar hands, cold with
fear, touching him instead. Wufei stood straight-backed, those lovely velvet
eyes locked on the assassin’s every move. "Beautiful," he murmured, "simply
beautiful. You’re already a little frightened despite that fierce
expression." Fire shot straight to his sex, sending delicious sensations
through his body. That fear in what seemed Chang’s eyes was the most erotic
thing he had ever seen. "And hearing you scream with his voice..."

Wufei’s stomach was clenched into knots as the boy who was Duo and yet not
passed close again, muttering so softly that the Chinese boy couldn’t quite
hear him well enough to make out the words. He sniffed delicately, catching
an unfamiliar musky scent; then, the hand that had been rubbing circles on
his captive’s chest slipped into his own pants, the large violet eyes boring
straight into Wufei’s and capturing him. A small pink tongue flicked over
full lips as Duo’s doppleganger wrapped his hand around himself with a low
moan of pleasure.

Wufei wanted to draw his eyes away but he couldn’t as Maxwell’s hand
emerged, slightly damp, and reached to tap just above the Chinese boy’s
lips. That smell...Wufei flinched away, frightened and disgusted. It was the
smell of arousal and sex.

Wufei felt ice flood his veins as realization dawned and his mind whispered
one word.


"Kawaii!" Maxwell chirped, sounding so much like Duo that Wufei’s head
snapped up. "Calling out for help from your little crush! Think you’re
betraying him by being here with me?" Wufei blinked; he hadn’t known he’d
spoken the name aloud. Suddenly his captor’s hand shot out and he yelled as
strong fingers grabbed hold of his crotch, squeezing hard. Duo’s
doppleganger looked shocked. "Nothing?! I look just like the boy you’ve
lusted after, half naked, and I get nothing?" Wufei glared at him and he
laughed. "What a wonderfully unexpected pet you are! Only makes you more

"Get your hands off me!" Wufei spat, grabbing Maxwell’s wrist and hitting
nerves that sent a spasm of pain through the assassin’s arm and forced him
to release his grip without Wufei’s having to pull it off and possibly doing
himself damage in a *very* sensitive place.

Maxwell’s eyes narrowed to slits of pure fury and his free hand moved faster
than lightning to the small of his back. Wufei stared as the arm snapped
back out, the sharp crack of a small whip in the air sounding through the
room. His captor pressed the whip handle to Wufei’s cheek, letting the
leather dangle beside his face. "You may look like him, but Chang you’re
not. Don’t think you can take liberties, pet. I’m more than familiar with a
million forms of discipline."

Wufei growled and grabbed at the whip, ready to wrench it free, but Maxwell
struck out, knocking his still-weakened legs out from under him so that he
landed hard. His usually fast reflexes were dulled by the drugs and air flew
from his lungs as he heard the report of the whip just before it slammed
into his bare back, tearing skin with a metal tip like a razor.

He struggled to sit up, dark spots dancing in front of his visions, only to
feel the leather and metal slice into his shoulder, leaving a thin strip of
crimson. He glared through strands of loose hair, unable to do anything
more, panting slightly.

Maxwell almost couldn’t stand it, those large dark eyes, bronze skin torn
and oozing red, the defiance he so wanted to break; it was all too much and
his erection was a hard, hot pain at the forefront of his attention. "You’re
a bad boy, pet," he cooed, raising the whip again, wanting to tear that
perfect flesh just once more before he took him, torturing him with his own
helplessness. Usually, in his early sessions with a new pet, Maxwell would
tease them into a humiliating and unwanted passion before leaving them
hanging and satisfying his own desire with Chang; but Chang wasn’t here and
this boy wasn’t responding, and he so wanted to hear him scream, beg for
mercy until he was begging for more-

The door swished open.

"GET OUT!" Maxwell hissed, whirling to find Yuy in the doorway. Behind him,
he heard the soft shuffle of leather on carpet and cracked the whip behind
him without even looking, hearing a small grunt of pain. "Get out of here
now, Yuy!"

Wufei stared at the slender form in doorway, too shocked for a moment to
act. His back and shoulder screamed pain at him but he tried to strike out
again - and found he couldn’t. //Shit! I should have seen this
coming...poisoned barb on the whip so I couldn’t fight back..!//

Yuy stepped into the room, carefully not looking at Maxwell’s newest
project, and delivered the message Winner had sent him to give. The American
’s face was flushed, the material tight across his groin painfully tight and
Yuy could smell the familiar musk of his arousal as he looked on
impassively, inner thoughts unknown.

"No fucking way! I’m not leaving now, and you can tell Winner-"

"Tell. Winner. What?"

Maxwell’s head jerked up and fear bit at his mind. Despite knowing that it
was one of Winner’s tricks, he scowled and looked away. "Tell you I’m
coming, damn it." Then he smiled and turned. "He’ll still be here when I get
back," he said, speaking as if Wufei wasn’t even there. The Chinese boy had
pushed himself to his knees and glared at him. "Now be a good boy while I’m
gone, pet, and I’ll give you a reward when I get back."

"I’ll pass," Wufei spit out. Maxwell laughed.

"A little spitfire aren’t you?" He swooped down and took the Chinese boy’s
mouth in a bruising kiss, Wufei too shocked by the sudden move to fight
back. "We’ll take care of that, pet," he said, and followed the other two
boys out. Yuy closed the door . . . and his eyes lingered for a moment on
the boy kneeling in the middle on the crimson-stained carpet, shoulders and
head bowed as blood dripped slowly over his skin.

"Be safe, Duo-kun," Wufei whispered as the door slid closed. "Wo ai ni."


Duo was worried.

He hadn’t seen Wufei all day, and that was incredibly odd. Oh, there had
been a glimpse here and there around campus, but that was all. It seemed the
Chinese boy was going absolutely everywhere. Wufei was usually a
straight-to-class, straight-to-dorm guy, and the American was wondering if
there was something wrong for his roommate to be wandering all over campus.
He’d also heard a rumor that Wufei had punched someone full in the face for
looking at him funny-and that *sure* didn’t sound like Wufei! Frowning, he
headed back to the dorm to see if Quatre was in. Maybe the Arabian had heard
something...and if Quatre wasn’t in his room, Duo had a pretty good idea
where he would be.


Nanashi knew the moment the others arrived.

All five assassins had implants under the skin that allowed them to be
traced at all times and also connected them. When they were close it caused
an odd tingling under the skin. It was hard to pinpoint the situations, but
he recognized Winner’s presence immediately-and that meant trouble. Flat
eyes looked out. Quatre was alone. The blond had escaped his well-meaning
friends for a moment of solitude, sipping at a thermos of hot cider and
reading a literature book in one of the clearings in the forests around the
school. It was a perfect opportunity to kill him; clean, distant, there
would be no witnesses and Winner could slip right in.

But Nanashi couldn’t do it. He couldn’t kill the boy who was the true
personification of the gentle countenance that had drawn him from the depths
of hell. He had taken the pills that dulled his thoughts, the ones Winner
had given him, but they hadn’t helped. He’d had the blond in his sights half
a dozen times that day and yet Quatre still lived. He watched as Quatre laid
his book to the side and fell back on the grass, arms spread-eagled beside
him as he smiled happily over the sensation of sunshine on his face. Such
innocence...was so alien to the assassin...

//Winner will kill him without a thought.// Nanashi thought, expression
still carefully schooled. //They’re almost here. They’re...I don’t want to
see him die. I don’t understand this, I don’t understand any of it. But I
will *not* let Winner kill him.//

Nanashi stepped out of the bushes. He was ready to guard the other boy in
any way necessary. "Trowa!"

Nanashi froze. Quatre was smiling at him sweetly, pushing up to his elbows.
"I didn’t expect to see you out here!" He laughed sunnily, such a familiar
sound, one Nanashi had heard coming from Winner’s mouth but it had never
been real before. "I thought only Duo and I knew about this place!"

Nanashi wasn’t sure how to respond. He’d never been greeted with such warmth
before, besides those first few days with Winner before he had learned the
truth. He knew his double wasn’t at all an outgoing person, but since his
target was Quatre he hadn’t paid too much attention to the other boy. In the
end, he didn’t have to make a decision. A twig snapped to his right and a
warning bell went off in his mind. "Get down!" he yelled. The blond just
looked at him in confusion, then there was the sound of a shot and the
assassin moved like lightning, knocking the blond over with the weight of
his entire body. He heard Quatre cry out, but stayed on top of him, holding
him down.


Ice flowed down Nanashi’s spine. "Winner," he whispered.

Quatre’s eyes were wide with shock and fear and he shifted trying to catch
his "friend’s" eye. "Trowa? Are you okay?!"

"Get up, Nanashi."

The response was automatic as Nanashi stood, still positioned in front of
the stunned Arabian.

"What...?" Quatre staredm unbelieving. Stepping out the woods, a gun held in
his hand was...himself, with Duo. Duo looked incredibly angry, the usually
laughing violet eyes tight and hard.

"You better have a damn good reason for dragging this out, ‘Nashi. I was
playing," The American said darkly, and Quatre knew that he was no more Duo
than the mirror image who held a gun to his head was himself.

"What’s going on, Trowa?" he asked softly. The other boy looked back at him
and flinched.


"Move, Nanashi. If you won’t kill him, I will. Frankly, I’m disappointed. I
expected more from you." Winner’s expression was harsh, his voice holding
none of its usual practiced sweetness.

Nanashi shook his head slowly. "No. I won’t let you kill him Winner."

//Winner? Nanashi?// Quatre glanced between one and the other, body tense.
//He’s not Trowa, either?//

"What did you say to me?" Behind Winner, Maxwell winced at the blond’s tone.
Nanashi had majorly crossed his bounds and there was no turning back now.
The American had seen it before, and the outcome, he was sure, would be the

"I said I won’t let you kill him," Nanashi answered, face certain but a
tremor in his voice.

Winner scowled and reached out with his mind in a fierce, twisting motion
that made Nanashi cry out, pressing his hands to his temples. "Who do you
think you’re talking to?"


Winner looked up in surprise at the sound of his own voice. Quatre rushed
forward to hold onto Nanashi’s arms, helping the taller boy stand despite
his pain. "You’re defending him? He was sent to kill you, you know."

Quatre looked at the taller boy in surprise. Nanashi managed to slit his
eyes open and for a moment, their gazes met and Quatre’s icchu no kokoru
reached out and met the other boy’s soul. //Such pain!// he thought with a
gasp //and so much like Trowa’s! He *is* Trowa somehow...which
means...they...// He looked up, disgusted. "He didn’t kill me."

"So I noticed," Winner spit out, raising the gun again. "No matter. I can
take care of both of you at once."

"No!" Nanashi straightened, sweat popping out on his skin from the strain of
fighting the panic and agony shooting through his skull. "No-I won’t let you
kill him-"

"Idiot!" Winner laughed, a cold and flat sound, and Quatre watched as the
alternate Duo stepped back, face suddenly contorted with fear. There had
been a feralness in him that had been obvious and frightening; for him to be
backing away from Quatre’s copy was an incredibly bad omen. "Do you think he
wants you? Your little blond angel?" Nanashi jerked, eyes downcast, and
Winner’s lips twisted into a cruel smile. "You must be kidding! You’re more
idiotic than I thought! What could your little angel want with a slut like
you? Think he’ll want you when he finds out what you were when I found you?
Those men weren’t done with you yet, were they? Still rutting you, one at a
time, tearing and beating while you screamed for mercy...or where you
screaming for more? That was it, wasn’t it?"

"They..they made me..."

"You’re nothing but a mercenary’s whore. You have no place in this
world...and since you’ve disobeyed my orders-"

"Leave him alone! How can you mock his pain like that?!" Quatre didn’t know
what was going on but he had never been more disgusted in his life. "I don’t
know who you are or while you’re pretending to be us, but don’t you *dare*
use my voice to say those things! If he was raped it was no fault of his

"See? See Nanashi," Winner said smoothly, ignoring his double and holding
his subordinate’s eyes with a gaze like ice. "He knows you’re a whore, and
he doesn’t want you."


"Sorry, ‘Nashi. But now...you have no place in our world, either."

It all happened in mere seconds.

The sound of a shot rang out in the little clearing, overlaying Nanashi’s
brief cry of pain as he was thrown back, eyes wide with shock and betrayal.
Maxwell whirled, hearing something tearing through the bushes, only to meet
a fist in the face as Duo burst out, having arrived in his attempt to find
Quatre, crashing a heavy log on Winner’s head. The blond assassin went limp
as Quatre reached to catch Nanashi, watching the blood already seeping
through his shirt and the edge of his mouth. Maxwell recovered quickly,
landing a hard, expert chop on Duo’s neck, causing the American to give a
short cry of pain before he crumpled to the forest floor in a dead faint.
Nanashi staggered, grabbed Quatre’s arm and hissed, "Run...Maxwell will..."

"They have Duo! And you’re hurt-"

Nanashi smiled. A real, gentle expression as his heart filled with more
peace than he had ever known. "Run..get the others...I’m dying
anyway...hurry..before they get you too..."

Quatre stood only a moment, considering, then smiled as warmly as he could.
"Thank you," he whispered, and brushed a kiss on the taller boy’s cheek
before disappearing into the woods.

Nanashi stood frozen a moment, raising a bloody hand to his cheek...before
his eyes rolled up and he crashed to the ground, battered soul finally
slipping free of its living hell.

"FUCK!" Maxwell rubbed his cheek. "I’m gonna get a bruise, dammit, and the
little tart got away!" Leaning over, he checked first Winner’s heartbeat,
then Nanashi’s. "Damn. It would be Winner who lives," he groused, standing
and toeing the dead nameless assassin with his foot. Reaching into his
pocket, he pulled out a small communicator and waited for Yuy to respond. "I
’ll get Yuy to haul your sorry asses back to base," he informed his
unconscious and dead comrades. "And I..." He turned, kneeling beside his own
unconscious double, "after I warn Chang that our cover’s blown...I will
*personally* take care of you. After all, pets always do better with a