Broken Jade

Chapter 3


by Sol

Part Three

Sleep on horseback,
The far moon in a continuing dream,
Steam of roasting tea.
--- Basho Matsuo


Heero pulled into the parking lot of a small Italian restaurant and checked the time. "Two o'clock," he told Trowa. "Lunch rush should be done."

"Good," Trowa replied, then stopped, halfway out of the car. "Shit."

"What?" Heero paused as he shut off the car.


"What about them?"

"Jade... bare feet... restaurant?" Trowa shook his head. "You do the math. What size shoe does he wear? Any chance the two of you wear the same size?"

"I think his feet are a size larger than mine," Heero said. He scratched his chin as he looked over his shoulder at the backseat. Duo was still asleep, his head tucked down between his knees, the chestnut hair covering everything. "Did you get my hiking boots? Those run a little large."

"They're in the trunk," Trowa replied, getting out of the car. A minute later he had Duo awake, and putting on socks and shoes. Heero watched as Trowa whispered softly to the silent young man, helping him out of the car. Trowa stopped then, and Heero was startled to see the taller man flush bright red. "There's one thing... "

Heero crossed his arms, annoyed. It was bad enough seeing Duo just standing there, nothing to say, no smiles... He ignored the sudden pain in his chest and focused on his lover, waiting.

"He's wearing a cock ring," Trowa mumbled.

"He... " Heero swallowed hard, certain he was blushing just as thoroughly. He could feel his ears getting warm. "And you're telling me this because..?"

The taller man ran a hand through his auburn hair, pulling it back long enough to pierce Heero with a steady expression. "First, it was still on him when he was soft. That means it's on there pretty tight. I don't know if that'll make it hard for him to piss. And second, he's your best friend. If there's anyone here to do the honors, I'd think it'd be you."

"I'm not exactly an expert in cock rings," Heero replied, a little uncomfortably. Sulking a little at Trowa's glare, he nodded reluctantly. "Come on... Jade... let's get you to the restroom." Duo didn't move, and Heero stopped a few feet away, realizing that Duo wasn't with him. "Jade," he snapped, a bit more forcefully than he intended. "Come on. Don't you need to go?"

Duo responded by stepping closer to Trowa, but still not touching the taller man. His hands were clenched tightly at his sides, but his shoulders were slumped. Trowa glanced down, and sighed. "Jade," he said, setting a hand on Duo's shoulder. "Go with him. I'm going to get us a table. I want you to use the facilities... " He glanced over at Heero, puzzled. "How specific do you think the commands have to be?"

Heero did his best version of a restrained gape. "You're kidding, right?"

"No, I'm not, damn it," Trowa snapped. "The papers distinctly said he requires permission for everything, but I don't--" Trowa bit off his words and glanced away for a long minute. "Look, I'm doing the best I can, too. I just don't know what I'm supposed to do."

"Neither do I," Heero acknowledged, stepping back to close the distance between them. "I guess we can start with general. Jade," Heero said, clearing his throat a little. "We're going inside so you can use the bathroom."

Duo's only response was to lean towards Trowa. Heero looked at Trowa, one eyebrow raised.

"Jade," Trowa said, pushing gently at Duo's shoulders. "Go with Heero. When I'm not there, you listen to what he says. Understood?"

Duo nodded once, but didn't lift his head.

Trowa stepped back, exhaling slowly. "He'll take care of you, Jade. Don't worry." He glanced at Heero as a scowl flitted across his face. "And you'd better. Don't take your anger about this out on him."

Heero narrowed his eyes, opened his mouth, and thought better of it. Slowly he nodded, and managed a small smile for Duo's downcast face. "Jade, come on." Waiting until Duo began walking, he led the way into the restaurant, Trowa bringing up the rear. They separated at the entrance. Inside the men's bathroom, Heero watched carefully as Duo entered a stall. Curious, he bent down, noticing that Duo was facing the toilet. Heero leant against the wall, his arms crossed as he waited, listening to Duo urinate.

Guess that answers one question, Heero thought. We'll deal with the rest of it... later, he decided.


Heero could see papers spread out across the table as he and Duo joined Trowa. The taller man glanced up and dropped his head again, focused on what he was reading.

"Jade, sit down," Heero said, and nearly wasn't fast enough to catch Duo under the arms. "Shit, Trowa," he gasped, struggling with Duo's dead weight as the silent man let his legs buckle under him.

"What's he doing?" Trowa came out of his seat, and shot Heero a baffled look. "What did you say to him?"

"I told him to sit down!" Heero pulled Duo back to his feet, frightened at the way Duo was trembling badly under his touch. I'm not gripping him that hard, he thought. "And he dropped like a rock!" Heero gritted his teeth as Duo tried to sink down again, and yanked the silent man back upright.

"Jade," Trowa barked. "Sit... in the booth. No kneeling," he added in a softer tone. There was a pause, and Duo's legs slowly unfolded. His entire body radiated hesitancy as he slowly slid into the booth across from Trowa. "That's better," Trowa informed him as Heero slid into the booth next to Duo. "From now on, Jade," Trowa said quietly, "you'll sit on chairs or booths... or sofas... but no kneeling."

There was a half-nod from Duo, and his quivering slowly subsided. The waitress appeared a minute later, and Trowa ordered for all three. He knew Heero's eating and drinking habits well enough, and he clearly doubted that Duo would pick something.

"You ordered a child's meal for him?" Heero pulled several of the sheets towards him, giving his lover a dubious look. "He'll need more food than that."

"Water is what he needs mostly," Trowa replied. "That sheet covers the information on what to do when he's woken up from the sedatives. He was out for forty-eight hours over the trip. His stomach won't be able to handle any but the blandest food, in small doses, for a day or two."

Heero nodded and reviewed the sheet. It read like information on dealing with transporting animals from Earth to the colonies. It contained the usual information about diet for the first week after the trip, type of sleeping drug used, and a scale of weight to length of time sleeping. He ran down the list, and rested his forehead on the heel of his hand as he studied the sheet. "I'm losing my appetite, fast," he muttered.

"There's more," Trowa said quietly. Heero looked up to see Trowa glance around the near-empty restaurant before speaking. "Those starting orders... "

"What about them?"

"They're for imprinting."

"As in... " Heero's mind refused to acknowledge the information.

"I'm his Master, now."

There was a long silence at the table, as Heero thought over Duo's strange behavior. "That makes sense," he said, his voice soft as he watched Duo's still form. "He used the stall in the bathroom... I got the feeling he didn't want me seeing him... "

Trowa nodded. "From what I've read, that would be something they'd... train him to do." Heero growled softly, and Trowa sighed, his voice dropping to a whisper. "The problem, Heero, is that in all this information about commands, and skills, and suggested punishment schemes, and reinforcement, and... " The tall man threw up his hands and leaned back in the booth, lines of exhaustion clearly etched on his face. "There's not a single word about what they had to do, to get this result."

"Which means we have nothing to go on, for an idea of how to undo it," Heero replied.


Their food arrived, and Trowa pointed to the plate set down in front of Duo. "Eat your dinner, Jade. But," he added, letting his hand rest of Duo's clasped fingers, "stop eating when you feel full."

They were silent for the rest of the meal. Heero focused on reading the medical reports and the reinforcement patterns suggested by the slave auction sellers, while Trowa reviewed the commands and skills that Duo had been taught. Duo ate about half of his hamburger, and several of his fries. Eventually Heero realized Duo was eating slower and slower, and he nudged Trowa, who told Duo to stop eating. Heero paid for the meal, and somehow they got Duo and the paperwork back out to the car without another unexpected reaction from the silent man. Trowa buckled Duo into the back seat again, told him to take another nap, and climbed into the front seat with a sigh.

Heero turned the key, listening to the engine start up, and pulled out of the restaurant. A minute later they were on the highway, and they could see the mountains off in the distance. "Three and a half hours until we get there," Heero said.

"Wake me when we're getting off the main highway and I'll navigate," Trowa said, stretching out his legs and leaning the seat back a little. "And I wouldn't mind waking up to find out this is all a bad nightmare, and just the result of indigestion from another political conference," he added, a bit sullenly.

"Could be," Heero replied. "I sure had enough of that for six years."

"You're a saint, you know that?" Trowa's head lolled on the headrest as he grinned at Heero.

"Am not." He shifted in the seat, raising an eyebrow at Trowa's expression. "It wasn't an all bad six years," he said quietly. "Just... bad timing." He managed a small smile, remembering those days. "I should've listened to Duo. He warned me I was being an idiot. Shit," he said suddenly. "Forgot." Heero looked in the rearview mirror and frowned. "He's still asleep."

"Don't risk it. Besides, we should probably get used to calling him Jade."

"I can't do that." Heero frowned at the road, unwilling to meet Trowa's eyes. "I can't call our friend... I don't want to consider him then... " He gave up, unable to articulate it. I just can't do it, he thought unhappily. I don't want to mix the two.

Trowa seemed to sense his confusion, because he leaned over to rest a hand on Heero's thigh, a comforting touch. "Call him Maxwell, then. Maxwell is the one we knew. Jade is... this new person."

"Maxwell, then," Heero muttered.

Trowa closed his eyes, amused. "And by the way, I seem to recall that during the war, ‘idiot' was usually what you called him."

Heero snorted. "He was, most of the time. But he was better suited for peacetime than I am... or you are," he added, shooting his lover an annoyed look. Seeing Trowa's eyes were closed, Heero grunted slightly.

"That's what I don't get," Trowa finally said, opening his eyes and turning to look at Heero. "Of all of us, Du... Maxwell's spent years rolling with the punches. His head's always above water because he doesn't fight it, he just lets the current go."

"Idiot that he is," Heero grumbled. There was a pause, and Heero relented, sighing. "It doesn't make sense to me. I... " No, he told himself, I don't want to go there. Sternly he pushed the memories away, locking them back in their box, and focused on Trowa's words. "If Maxwell was caught by the company he was investigating... I would have expected him to go along, and bide his time, looking for a way out."

Trowa laughed softly. "You're not old enough to be senile, and not educated enough to revise history, my friend. You've let yourself forget just how much of a fight he put up when OZ caught him and Deathscythe during the One Year War. I can't see Maxwell going gently into anything, let alone that good night."

The car was quiet for several minutes, the only sound that of the wheels rolling against the pavement. Heero studied the traffic lightening around them as they sped away from Sanq's main city. Finally he came up with the only response he could muster. "Maxwell is like the ocean," he whispered. "All sound and fury on the surface, but underneath... there was always something lurking. Deep, and cold."

"Poetic," Trowa murmured. "But true." He shifted in the seat, turning his head to stare out the window, and his next question was almost buried under the sounds of the engine and the wheels. "Why did you two never get together? Quatre told me Maxwell had a crush on you... "

Heero shrugged. They'd never discussed it before, although he knew Trowa had sometimes wondered, especially in those months after Duo... disappeared. Even now, he told himself, I can't say dead. Heero glanced in the rearview mirror, seeing Duo's huddled sleeping form. He might as well be dead, now. "That was a long time ago," he said quietly.


"Timing," Heero replied, shrugging. "He didn't say anything until my bachelor party... " Trowa chuckled, and Heero shot the taller man a glare. "I'd never drunk before," he said, a little sharply, tempted to roll his eyes at Trowa's smirk. "It wasn't like I knew what to expect."

"Bad timing on his part, to tell you then," Trowa said, his tone serious again.

"Not really... it was more like, confessing. Clearing the slate," Heero said, thoughtful. "It wasn't a bad thing... it was just part of our friendship. Besides, he and Hilde lived together then. Wasn't like he was going to leave her for me... "

"And you were already tied into a wedding with seven hundred guests," Trowa said. Heero glanced over to see Trowa struggling to keep a straight face. "You do look good in monkey suits."

"Shut up," Heero growled, but there was no malice behind the words. "We wanted to elope, but Mrs. Darlian had other ideas." He smiled ruefully. "She had a lot of ideas, actually. We ended up just going along with it."

"Not the way I heard it," Trowa retorted cheerfully. "Quatre said you threw a fit and bolted."

"Gossip-monger," Heero grumbled. "I did not throw a fit. I just declared... a time-out on wedding plans." He shrugged as they took the exit for the east-west highway outside the city. "It was all Maxwell's fault, in the end. He convinced me it was easier to just go along with things."

"Bending is always his style, if there's no other choice," Trowa observed. "Especially if it doesn't really hurt you to go along." They were silent for a moment, and Trowa turned on his side, pillowing his head as he slowly drifted off to sleep.

And if it does hurt, Heero thought, Duo would fight like hell until there's no fight left in him. He glanced in the mirror again, sorrow permeating him, and exhaled slowly, trying to let the despair dissolve along with the miles under the wheels.

It didn't work.


Heero pulled up to the gate, the rusted metal captured in the headlights. It was early dusk, but the shadows under the trees were dark.

"There should be a house off to the left," Trowa reported. "We're to pick up a key."

"I'll come with you... Do you think Jade will be okay, alone?" Heero pulled up the emergency brake and opened the car door with a feeling of relief. His legs just weren't up to long driving, he thought ruefully, remembering the days when he could've run ten miles, piloted for twenty-four, and still taken out a base successfully. Glancing at Trowa, he could tell the other man was thinking the same thing.

Trowa flashed him a grin before opening the back door. "Jade... shhh, shhh, it's okay. We're not there yet. Just sit here and wait. We'll be back shortly." Without waiting for a response, Trowa shut the door again, rolling the window down a little so Duo could get some fresh air. He patted the window softly, and Heero raised an eyebrow at the taller man as he came around the Jeep.

"I feel like I'm leaving an animal in the car," Trowa admitted. "Roll down the windows so it doesn't get too hot, but not too far, so it doesn't jump out." He stopped, turning to face Heero. "I have to tell you... the more I find out, the less I'm sure I can really help."

"I know," Heero said, touching his knuckles to the back of Trowa's hand, the merest touch, and tried to think of a way to explain. Failing that, he could only nod. "I know."

The two men followed the low lanterns set along the walkway, and stepped up onto the porch. Trowa knocked, waited a minute, and raised his hand to knock again just as the door was flung open.

Heero blinked, seeing no one, and then thought to look down. He knew at five-ten, he wasn't a towering height, compared to Trowa's six-two. All the pilots had shot up to five-ten or five-eleven, but Heero had spent too many years thinking of himself as short. The woman in front of him, however, was beyond short, Heero decided. She was miniature.

The woman peered at them, frowned, and raised a hand. There was a click, and the porch lights came on. "Wondered why I couldn't see you," she told the two men, then raised her eyebrows, stepping back from the doorway. She was wearing a man's button-up shirt that looked like it had seen better days, and white overalls. Her feet were bare. "I'm Liddie."

"Trowa Barton," Trowa replied, and waved his hand at Heero. "Heero Yuy."

"Nice names," she replied, but her expression remained serious. "Well, come on in. I don't want all the mosquitoes stopping by for a visit, but I'll live with the two hundred I've let in already."

Trowa glanced at Heero, who gave him a nearly imperceptible shrug, and the two stepped into the house. It was hardly a cabin, and looked more like a modern art establishment. The house seemed to be one large room, with high ceilings and broad windows darkening at the day's end to reflect the interior. There were large canvases hanging on the walls, and more leaning in stacks, three or four canvases deep. Heero glanced around, noting that the pictures were all wild abstracts, in deep and vivid colors with hypnotizing patterns hidden in them.

Heero studied the woman as she pointed them to a bright blue loveseat. She was probably only five-feet even, with white hair that was cropped close, curly and trim. Her face was lined with wrinkles, but her eyes were a sharp blue, so pale they were almost gray, and Heero wondered if that was an Une family trait. There was a smudge of yellow paint on her cheek, and more flecks of paint in different colors across her knuckles and under her fingernails. Her wrists were thin, and her fingers long and hooked, like a bird's talons.

"Those're the keys," the woman said, dropping a ribbon into Trowa's lap. "The red one is for the gate. You can leave it open once you're in, but if you leave overnight, I prefer you lock it after you. There's also one for the house, and another for the workshop. Nothing in the barn now, but it was originally a workshop and barn when my grandfather built it." She settled herself in the yellow chair opposite them, and leaned back, her finger on her lips as she contemplated something. She was silent for a minute, then dropped her hand and gave them a mischievous smile. "I understand you work for my great-niece."

"Yes ma'am," Trowa said.

Liddie waved her hand. "Don't call me that. Makes me feel like I'm ninety, and I'm only eighty-three. I still have a few years before you need to ma'am me." She leaned forward, her eyes bright. "So... is Lady still a complete psycho?"

Heero blinked, and Trowa stared before managing to get himself under control enough to answer. "Ah... no. I don't think so," he added lamely.

"Too bad," she retorted. "I highly recommend cultivating senility, myself. That and sheer craziness can get you through a great deal." She slapped her hands lightly on her thighs and stood up, as if she'd come to a decision. "I turned on the water this morning, so you shouldn't have a problem taking a shower tonight. The phone line should be on in a day or two, but you can get cell phone coverage if you go down to the main road. The propane tank was filled this afternoon, which means hot water and the stove should work." Liddie held up a finger. "Notice that I said should. It's been about five years since anyone's used that old place, but late August is usually pretty temperate around here. Lady said you might be here through the winter."

The elderly woman got up, heading to a small pantry-kitchen, and sorted through several things on the countertop before turning around. She was holding a small plastic card, and Trowa took it with a puzzled look.

"That's a debit card," Liddie explained. "Instead of charging you rent, Lady and I agreed that we'll pay what you fix to make it habitable, as long as you do the work." She gave them both a sharp glance. "You're young, so I'd guess you can handle it, but there's a lot to be done. Broken windows, roof needs work, wallpaper peeling... " The woman waved a hand dismissively. "Nothing too big. I also took up sheets and blankets, although I think the bed is a lost cause. Rough it tonight and get a new one in the morning." She paused, watching them closely.

"Thanks," Trowa finally said, when it became clear she was waiting for a response. "We appreciate this."

Liddie snorted. "You can appreciate whatever you like. I assure you that I'll get what I want, which is a property that's not falling down. Then I'd have no problem inviting my grandchildren. Until then?" She shrugged, and gave Trowa a teasing smile. "Not letting them stay here, that's for sure. I'd never get any peace." Liddie fixed them both with a stern expression, and pointed them to the door. "Speaking of which, I do require peace. So don't feel you need to be social on my account." Opening the door, she studied them for a long second, and the stern expression melted into a knowing smile. "I don't get the feeling you two are the type to throw a lot of parties."

"What gave you that impression?" Trowa leveled his green eyes at her with just the barest hint of a smile, and Liddie grinned outright at him.

"Good to see we're talking the same language. Oh, and I also left three full hurricane lamps by the front door. The matches are in the metal box by the front door, so you can't miss it. They're right where the light switch would be, if the damn house had electricity." With that, she gave them a half-wave and shut the door softly behind them.

On the porch, Heero turned to Trowa, and a slow smile spread across his face. "Not what I was expecting."

Trowa grinned outright. "So much for that huge housewarming bash I was planning."

Heero shook his head, following Trowa back to the car. Halfway down the path, he stopped, frowning. "Do you hear that?" He couldn't place it, but it sounded like a low moan. It made him think of doves. Mournful, his mind supplied, even as he realized the source. "Duo," he whispered.

Trowa broke into a run, bolting for the Jeep. Heero jogged along behind him, mindful of the uneven slate path. He could barely see Trowa's form by the Jeep, throwing open the back door, and the low moans as Duo nearly fell out of the seat trying to get at Trowa.

"What... " Heero's question trailed off as he came around the Jeep to see Duo, still belted in, clutching at Trowa and sobbing pitifully. He stopped, staring wide-eyed at the sight of Duo... crying. What the hell, Heero thought, bewildered and alarmed.

"Shhh," Trowa was whispering, rocking Duo closely even as he struggled to reach past the crying young man to undo the seatbelt. It clicked, and Trowa carefully pulled Duo the rest of the way out of the Jeep. "Separation anxiety," Trowa said quietly. "I didn't think we were gone long enough," he added, half to Duo, half to himself.

Heero stepped closer, at a loss, watching as Duo's sobs shook his whole body. Trowa hugged the longhaired man closely, whispering as he tucked Duo's head under his chin. "I'm sorry... we didn't abandon you. We will never do that... it's okay, it's okay," he repeated, glancing over Duo's head to hold Heero's gaze.

"Jade... " Heero sighed, stepping forward as Trowa beckoned him closer. Tentatively he put his hand on Duo's shoulder, jerking it back as Duo cringed at the touch. The dark-haired man stepped back, his shoulders slumping as he gave Trowa a defeated look. "That sound he made... "

"I know," Trowa whispered, and a sad smile flickered at the edges of his lips. "At least we know he can make sounds, even if he won't talk."

"Can you... get him into the Jeep?" Heero pulled out the car keys, watching sadly as Duo's sobs died down to sniffles. "I'll unlock the gate." He took the keys Trowa offered, turning away as the taller man coaxed Duo back into the backseat. Soon the gate was opened and swinging out of the way. Heero guided the Jeep slowly down the dirt road, watching the headlights play with the shadows as the sun set behind them.


End Part 3


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