The Mutilated Bride

By Kat Reitz


The younger man's body was heated, clinging close to the larger one's as their hearts slowed in the aftermath of their passions. Treize sighed softly, listening attentively to his fragile lover's shaking breaths. He savoured the feeling of the leanly muscled, trembling, smooth-skinned body blanketing over his own. It was the eve of his young lover's sixteenth birthday, and they'd at last consummated their relationship.

"My dear dragon," he breathed gently, nuzzling a spot in front of the man-child's ear. Feathery strands of ebony black hair clung to his full lips, and he carefully tucked the wing of hair behind his lover's ear. "My beloved Wufei..."

Light breaths fell steadily against his cheek. "Treize..." Hearing his name exhaled in a breath made his groin threaten to stir to life again. But he didn't want to push Wufei too far -- not their first time together. He smiled beatifically at the youth in his arms, pulling him closer. They'd have years together, until one of them died of old age. His smile broadened a little further. A long time indeed, since he was only twenty five himself. Assuredly another fifty years. "I love you, Lord Treize," Wufei breathed quietly, nestling closer to the larger form.

"And I love you, my little one," Treize replied, just as quietly as the words had been voiced to him. He was glad he'd taken Wufei to New York with him on the trip his business partner Mirialdo had dragged him on. They ran an investment firm together, which meant a continuous hunt for investors. Not that life was hard for either of them, since both were from noble families, but keeping a joint business going kept them busy.

Mirialdo was in the room next door, was he not? Probably with a pillow over his head. Treize chuckled slightly. "Glad you came with me?"

"Very much so," Wufei said in a tired voice, shifting even closer, if it were at all possible.

Treize kissed him one last time before sagging back into the soft bed, allowing oblivion to claim him at last.

Treize had just successfully sealed a deal with an obscenely wealthy man. Who said going to balls were a waste of time? He glanced around the ballroom, spotting Mirialdo buttering up two women who probably knew they were being buttered up, but since it was the beautiful blond man doing it, they likely didn't mind. He smiled slightly to himself. These Americans, no matter how rich and well mannered, practically fell over themselves to accommodate the two European nobility, and Treize's young charge.

At the passing thought of his young love, Treize cast a glance at the door of the public restroom. As soon as Wufei finished, they'd dance again. The smile on his face became less icy and removed while the thought turned itself over in his mind. Wufei was an exquisite dancer. And beyond that, he was a perfect companion, a responsive lover who enjoyed all of Treize's games, frighteningly intelligent, but small enough to want, almost need, Treize's protection. To think he'd found the boy on the streets of London when he was only five.

That stirred up some fond memories, and Treize allowed himself to sink into them. He'd been a year or two younger than Wufei was now when he'd come across the small child, dressed in rags, in the middle of a London street, sitting in the road itself, crying his little heart out. The first thing Treize had done was rushed into the street to take him out of the way of traffic, then carried him home. His parents hadn't been too pleased, and while he'd taken the little boy up to his rooms and cleaned him up, they'd called the police to see if anyone had reported him missing. A few minutes of coaxing once alone with the child, and Treize had found that his name was 'Wufei' and that he didn't want to be left alone again.

The police had to literally pry Wufei off of Treize, since the young boy had clasped his arms tightly around Treize's neck. For the next few weeks there had been litigations, and courts they'd had to go to... But his parents had finally gotten Wufei legally recorded as existing, and in their care. True to his word, Treize hadn't asked them ever again for a big favour. Wufei had added light to the house while his parents were alive, and had kept him feeling alive since then.

His musings had taken longer than he'd thought, for when he opened his eyes to gaze about the large ballroom, the place was nearly vacant, and Mirialdo was approaching him.

"Two investors, Treize," he began, grinning like a wolf, then paused dead. "Where's Wufei?"

For some reason, Treize became agitated just then, and turned away from Mirialdo, pushing open the bathroom door.

"Wufei? Dragon? Are you in here?" The urinals were unoccupied, and the stalls, too, it seemed...

But he'd not heard Wufei leave!

Perhaps his dragon was playing some sort of cruel joke. He pushed open the first stall. Nothing. And the second and the third. The fourth...

There was an open window, the curtain covering it fluttering inward.

"Sir Khushrenada, for the final time, we've got one of our best men on it!"

"That's not good enough," Treize snarled, slamming his fist hard on the desk. "It's been over a week, and no sign of him!!"

The sergeant turned away with a heavy sigh. The tawny haired nobleman and his taller blond companion had been there for at least an hour every day since the young Chinese man they'd been traveling with had disappeared. Not a single sign of foul play had been found.

"We're working on it," he muttered, turning away coldly.

Treize spun back towards Mirialdo, muttering "Stupid Americans" under his breath.

The blond man frowned, shaking his head. He'd never seen his long-time friend so worked up over anything, but he knew how attached to the boy Treize had been, how deeply... no, he couldn't bring himself to admit that Treize had been in love with Wufei. Not yet. But secretly, he supposed that the boy had fled, lured away by America's many promises.

But, how to tell Treize of that idea without breaking his heart?

From the edge of his hearing range, he heard two officers speaking.

"He's gone mad, poor sir..." One of the secretaries.

"His little manservant ran off, I'd bet... So of course there's no evidence to find." One of the officers. "I bet he got tired of being that man's toy, and fled to get away."

"He wasn't a toy, or a manservant!!" Treize snapped, starting to lunge at the speaker. There was a mad glint in his eyes, and Mirialdo barely managed to stop him by grasping his left arm quickly in a harsh grip. Treize spun, eyes narrowed until they met his companion's.

"We're leaving, Treize," he murmured, mindful of the audience that was watching.

The fire in his eyes flickered, fading, and he fell silent.

Mirialdo relaxed his grip on Treize's arm, and they began to walk toward the precinct door.

"You'd best find him," was Treize's half growled parting shot.

They'd returned to the hotel, and Treize found himself unable to spend another night alone in the room he'd been in with Wufei. So Mirialdo had agreed to let him sleep in his room, with him. They'd already stayed three days longer than they'd planned to, waiting for word of Treize's young love.

Treize was sprawled out gracefully on the sofa, a leather-bound copy of 'The Prince' in one hand, spare sheets tangled carefully about his lean hips and long legs.

Of course, he was nude.

He thought nothing of sleeping in the nude. But after so many years of putting up with the habit without a word, the blond nobleman found he could no longer remain neutral. It was sometimes an enjoyable show, if he could manage to awaken before his friend, and act as if sleeping, so he could watch the older man rise with a vague twinge of guilt. Sometimes it was amazing how naive Treize was in his thoughts -- he seemed to think that Mirialdo had no interest in other men, least of all himself.

So as Mirialdo passed by the sofa, he allowed himself to take a leisurely glance at the luxurious body sprawled on that piece of furniture, unaware of Mirialdo's train of thought as he was so occupied with worry for his dear lover.

But now... now that Wufei was no longer there... No longer an obstacle... Mirialdo was there to provide solace and comfort for Treize. Would be there.

He undid his dressing gown, letting it slip to the floor as he reached up to turn out the single electric bulb.

"Good night, Treize," he murmured, slipping between the sheets of his double bed.

Treize tucked the book away. "Good night, Mirialdo," he replied, almost listlessly, surely mechanically.

The darkness settled over the room, but Mirialdo remained awake, waiting until he heard the soft breaths that signaled the other man was sleeping. Silently, Mirialdo rose, unbuttoning his pajama top and casting it away. Then he stretched out on the sofa beside Treize. Not exactly comfortable, but he could sacrifice that for the perfect moment to get Treize as his.

Treize awoke to a slightly larger form pressed close against his body, warm skin touching his own. It felt nice, and the physical contact was half familiar... His eyes snapped open, hopeful for a flickering moment -- beyond hopeful, nearly ecstatic -- but that hope died as he found himself looking into Mirialdo's azure eyes, rather than Wufei's soft black eyes.

"My friend?" he asked tiredly, beginning to sit up. But a heavy arm rested across his side. "Wha..."

Mirialdo tightened his grip on that lean, naked body, enjoying the press of heated chest against chest. Whoever Wufei had fled with, the platinum haired nobleman doubted he'd ever have a companion of such refinement as Treize, with such a perfect form mentally, socially and physically. Wufei's loss, Mirialdo's gain.

A brush of moist warm air against the shell of the older man's ear. "I'm here for you, Treize -- until Wufei returns." /Which will be never./ And the ginger haired noble seemed to be about to protest violently, until Mirialdo crushed his lips against the other's.

/He's mine now./

Weeks had passed in New York, weeks that the blond man saw as wasted -- a waste of possible opportunities for new investors, and a waste of Treize's spirit. But Wufei had not been found, and in the years since then, Mirialdo had made a point to not seek out investors in America again -- no need to drive his companion into depression.

Sometimes it always seemed like Treize was depressed. He still held himself with careful bearing, but that inner sadness caused by Wufei's disappearance slowly took hold of more of his outward appearance. The only way Mirialdo had kept his friend from killing himself was by convincing him that Wufei had left him, that Wufei had been at fault, not Treize, and that Treize had every right to be happy.

/With me, of course,/ Mirialdo mused quietly, looking over to his partner, in both life and business. Nine years was a long time to mourn someone. But Treize was still good companionship, as bright as he'd ever been and now, it seemed that his air of sadness brought more investors willing to trust the solemn, ginger haired noble with their money.

They were at a fair in southern France, sitting on a bench, talking quietly and drinking soda. As the conversation flowed easily, Mirialdo noted how many times Treize would get that familiar far away look in his eyes. The young Chinese man was on his mind again, along with that frown. How he wished he could make Treize smile again, as he had used to do! Tentatively, aware they were in public, the blond noble raised a hand, touching it to Treize's high cheekbone.

Treize turned his head to look at his friend, a wistful smile alighting on his face for a moment. It must have been a good memory to be reliving. Mirialdo wasn't sure if Treize was truly sane any longer, but, strangely, it didn't bother him at all -- he would not desert his companion, and he was not harmful to anyone if he were mad.

Now, to find something to keep Treize's mind occupied with, so it would not wander yet again!

His clear azure gaze trailed over the large park grounds. They'd played games of accuracy in throwing, a few that were fun but a waste of time in truth, and looked at scientific exhibits. Then he saw... the less savory, but gruesomely entertaining, part of any fair. Mirialdo rose, one hand grasping Treize's arm, urging him to rise also. "Come, friend -- there's a freakshow over there!"

"You wish to see freaks, my friend?" Treize queried, voice smooth and a little amused by the younger man's enthusiasm -- sometimes the twenty eight year old could seem so childish, but it was good to hear him not speaking of business, or various wars around the world, not matter how much it *did* interest Treize. Pleasant to see that he still had interests of his own that he was willing to make Treize suffer through.

"Why not?" was the smiled reply, and Mirialdo slid his hand down, grasping Treize's hand for a daring moment. Public gestures of that sort were barely accepted between a man and a woman, let alone two men, but Treize smiled easily in response. He'd always been at ease with Wufei in public... that thought was dismissed quickly. No reason to ruin a good day with such remembrances.

They paid the proprietor of the small, enclosed building, and entered.

"Isn't it funny how they think keeping the lighting bad will help to frighten people?" Mirialdo mused, standing beside Treize in the darkness. His hand moved a little, and gently grasped Treize's.

The light grip was returned by Treize, as they began to pass glass boxes on pedestals -- supposed animals that looked like they had been badly sewn together, rather than having ever existed. "Are you frightened, Mirialdo?" There was a soft smirk hidden within those words, and they accompanied a squeeze of the hand whose fingers were intertwined with his own.

"Oh, yes, *very* frightened of the..." A pause to read the placard in the stand before them. "Were-duck." He held back a snicker.

"And well you should be -- that fanged bill could do much damage... and if it weren't for faulty glue holding those teeth in, I'd bet that creature would still be alive, terrorizing a kitchen table in some farm country." Mirialdo smiled slowly as Treize spoke, eyes drifted about the room as they continued, talking a joking the exhibits until they entered the room for the 'live freaks'. There their ears were assailed by animal like noises and sickening sights -- Mirialdo was momentarily glad that they'd had nothing more than soda so far in the day.

Most of the freaks were silent, except for two or three -- one that looked as if it were only half human, the other half some sort of cat; one whose body was stuck with hundreds upon hundreds of fine silver pins; and the one in the last cage, from which animalistic grunts escaped.

They paused there, and Mirialdo gazed with dispassionate eyes over the creature -- human, surely, but there were patches of grey fur sewn into it's living hide, what original skin he could see having been a warm shade of copper, now of grey pallor from living in darkness. Matted long black hair swung in it's face as it rocked back and forth in the cage, growling low in it's throat.

"Disgusting, isn't it?" Mirialdo asked, talking above those growls, still holding Treize's hand.

There was a long pause from Treize and he shrugged, saying only, "Poor creature."

"Tor...eize! Sama..."

Sapphire eyes darted towards Mirialdo for a moment, and Treize knew his lover had not spoken that. The voice that had spoken was rough, but there was something...

"Tor..eize! Mee..ri!"

A trembling hand reached through the sturdy bars of the cage, sharp rust scraping over his wrist as he moved his hand to push that matted, dirty hair back from the creature's face.

Intelligent sloe black eyes met Treize's and the nobleman's hand fell back to his side, other grasping Mirialdo's tightly as a soft anguished moan rose from his throat.

Mirialdo's own eyes were wide, locked on the creature as he half started to back away, but was held in place by Treize's hard grip, his lover's frozen position.

The creature in the cage, scarred, twisted face revealed, pressed it's small form against the bars, mouth twisted mournfully.

"Tor-eize," Wufei uttered again, one gnarled hand coming up to grasp an iron bar, half seeing the side door open -- the owner of the show coming in to see what the disturbance was -- wanting only to see the handsome aquiline face that tears now ran down. It had taken them long enough to find him.