This is UN-PROOFED, only a cursory Microsoft spell-check (And we know how it is famous for missing errors). I haven't gone over this yet at all with my 'red-pen-of doom', mistakes will be a-plenty, but you'll get the generic idea of the plot bunny biting me in the ASS... HARD!
Title: “Turning of the Tides”
Major pairing: 3x4, 5x2 (OMG a new pairing for me!!!)
Author: The Fablespinner ~*D*~
E-mail: fablespinner@ hotmail.com
Genre: AU, Historical-ish Romance, Fantasy, Sap – Yeah my typical stuff.
Disclaimer: Trowa and Quatre belong to me (In my dreams). In reality they are slaves to Bandai... Oh! Bondage! *snerk*
Author’s Note: Yes, I know I have a gazillion unfinished stuff to work on… Blame rabid plot bunnies with nice visuals in my head for this. My Quatre muse is demanding this, and the Trowa muse is decidedly in favor and wanting to see Quatre in this role, so there you go….
I’m not in the mood to be overly anal about speech patterns and language usage. So the anachronistic turn of phrase is just for ease of reading and writing. It’s the story that matters to me at this point. I hope it’s not too detracting written in more modern flavored turns of phrase.
Also please note, I am not about to go making up a language, or writing in one that already exists only to footnote long phrases of dialogue later. That’s annoying as hell to read right in the middle of a story. Having to flip back and forth to understand what is being said.
So, when Quatre is speaking in proper sentences to Wufei, they are speaking Quatre’s language. When Quatre is sounding like a two year old on crack, he’s trying to speak in Trowa’s. It should be painfully obvious when these instances occur, and we all know people whose native tongue is not English, and they know just a smattering handful of words…
“They sound like strange person talking with the little English they know, but say words well they do know for to make what they want say understand.”
God that sounded like my Grandfather talking there for a minute, we all know people like this that can command just enough of the language to be understood and sound really bold and goofy at the same time. They know absolutely no slang, and sound overly blunt because they have 1/10th of our multitude of words to choose from to say what they feel.
It’s going to be cute for Quatre to be not quite so eloquent for a change, in my opinion. *grin*
I’ve left the exact year/century this takes place in to you, the reader’s, imagination, the setting again, up to you, I’m making it up as I go along to fit my needs. Rules do not apply. Laws do not apply. History as we know it does not apply.
So let us just say it was:
“A long time ago, in a land that never existed, far away….”
It was one of the wettest springs Lord Barton of Barwyke-by-the-Sea could remember, for weeks the skies had been a dark foreboding gray and the rains had soaked the earth of his fields to beyond the saturation point. Delaying the planting to an almost critical concern for his people. It would be a winter of Fish for all if the rains did not let up soon.
The lonely and isolated Barwyke castle, sat atop tall steep cliffs that overlooked the vast sea, which echoed nature’s dismay with crashing waves and murky waters. All in all it was downright miserable.
Normally, Barwyke castle was a peaceful and tranquil place, with vistas of never-ending brilliant blue and fresh salty air. It was why Lord Barton chose to live here and not in court as his Parents and Sister chose to do.
He’d had his fill off posturing and dancing, political escapades and debauchery. When his father died and Barwyke Castle became his by birthright, Trowa bid farewell to his mother and sister and left to enjoy the castle he’d loved as a boy and never had the chance to spend as much time in as he had wanted.
He was glad of it too, when returning home he’d realized his beloved father had not been so beloved to his people. The years he’d spend neglecting Barwyke had not gone without a price, and Trowa’s return was met with mixed blessings.
It took two years for Trowa to gain the people’s trust and to bring about much needed changes and guidance to the people he was now responsible for.
Time, perseverance, and the sweat and labor from his own two hands wrought greater rewards, and Trowa was a Lord his people followed without question and undying loyalty. Respect had to be earned, and he earned it honestly.
Now however, with the spring rains trying his patience and stoking the ire of his men, to say Lord Barton was in a foul mood would be an understatement.
“Well, looks like the cat pissed in your boots this morning.” Came the genial tenor voice of one of Trowa’s longest and dearest friends as he entered the hall and sat in his chair at the long table, set sparingly for breakfast with pots of fresh tea, bread, cheese, soft-boiled eggs and kippers.
“I’m not in the mood this morning Duo.”
“You’ve not been ‘in the mood’ in weeks. If we have a sparse winter, we have a sparse winter. We will have to buckle our belts and make due with what the sea provides us. You said that yourself.”
“I know. It’s just we worked so hard and I don’t want to see it all for naught.”
“You worry far too much my friend.” Duo said shaking his head and spearing a kipper on the end of his knife.
“And you worry not enough.”
“So I will worry just enough and temper the both of you.” Came a third serene yet stern baritone.
Wufei, was the most exotic looking of the trio seated around the table to break their fast. Dressed in bright colors and fine loose silk. His black and fine shoulder length hair pulled loosely into a tail at the nape of his neck. He was a strikingly handsome man, with dark almond eyes that looked to hold a thousand mysteries hidden behind obsidian glass.
Having originally come from a land to the farthest east as a youth, he had traveled most of the known world before finally coming to this land, and choosing to stay for reasons of the heart.
He was a scholar and a very wise man for one so young, at twenty-five he could read and speak not only his own native tongue, but at least twenty others fluently and the same number or more he had a decent working knowledge of, some languages lost for centuries. He was an open page, and soaked in knowledge like a sponge to water.
It made him indispensable to most courts in almost every country Wufei had visited. He chose however a more solitary life, he much preferred learning for his own pleasure, and he had very little patience with people in general.
He was an admired man, respected and revered, but seldom befriended.
Which suited him just fine. He chose his own friends, when he wanted them and not before.
He chose Trowa to befriend because the man was smart, caring, and quiet, a good leader of men, with enough humility to keep him from being an arrogant ruler. However possessing enough pride to not let his good nature get abused. He was a compliment to Wufei’s serene tastes, if sometimes Trowa’s melancholy nature even tried Wufei’s infinite patience. Trowa was, however, a man one would want as a friend and never an enemy. As your foe, you would lose. Wufei knew an ally when he met one.
Duo was the enigma. He possessed all the qualities Wufei would normally despise. He was loud and he was far too gregarious and bright. Happy to a fault, giving to the point of poverty if needed, totally selfless and generous and possessed of a vanity that would, if not taking into account his virtues, would rival a peacock. Vanity without conceit, it was perhaps that feature that originally gave Wufei pause to learn more about him.
Wufei had to admit, it was the sheer beauty of the youth that caught his attention, Duo didn’t walk into a room, he exploded into it and shone as bright as the noonday sun even at the darkest of hours. He had long, womanishly long, soft brown hair that he kept neatly braided down his back. His eyes were like no shade Wufei in all his travels had ever seen. Like dusk and twilight, and thoroughly bewitching to any and all who looked into their depths. They sparkled with mischief and humor, and were haunting when sad. Wufei was oft heard to profess they were his favorite feature about Duo. Duo also had tall, reedy build that moved like silk in the breeze. He had a tenor voice that was harsh and bright, but never grating. Duo was unique upon himself, and Wufei had been drawn, against his will, like a moth was to flame.
That had been seven years ago, Wufei had been just eighteen and Duo hardly more than a boy at sixteen, and despite that fact, or maybe because of it, neither man had been apart since the day they had met.
They tempered each other, Duo softened the edges and Wufei held the fabric from coming loose at the seams. It was an unorthodox and wonderful match in both sets of eyes.
Trowa would never admit it, but he was extremely jealous of them for their love. He begrudged them nothing, he loved them both as brothers, it was just sometimes, late at night, when he could hear Duo laugh quietly behind closed doors as Trowa’s insomnia led him to wander the halls at night, he felt the pang of loneliness most keenly in those moments.
They had something he wanted, but had been unable, or maybe unwilling to find for himself.
He, like Wufei, was a solitary man by nature. He detested pageantry and crowds of overly perfumed people. And court was an affront to anyone’s olfactory senses.
No amount of perfume could cover the stink of unwashed bodies. Trowa much preferred a good bath. Hot or cold, it did not matter. Doctor’s be damned, he hated being dirty. He’d risk ailments to be clean.
Thankfully Wufei concurred and according to his travels, he’d only heard the bathing rumors of causing sickness in this country. Wufei often called this place barbaric, Trowa agreed with him.
So when Trowa was preparing to leave court, it took little convincing and Wufei and Duo headed out with him.
Wufei took charge of the Castle itself. He gutted it completely, washed every surface, twice, and went about making sure it stayed that way.
Duo, the most personable of men naturally, easily won over the local’s trust and confidence and became Trowa’s unofficial aide. He carried news back and forth, visited the peasant’s homes and made sure that charity was taken care of where it was needed most, and he made sure Trowa was as unburdened as possible so he could start trying to organize the land and get it working again.
It was a good and solid friendship, but it didn’t stop the occasional bouts of loneliness Trowa felt when he went to his own very cold, very empty bed.
Duo and Wufei exchanged meaningful looks as they watched their friend ignore his meal and stare out at the rain falling beyond the window. They knew he was lonely, tired, and feeling a touch of cabin fever from the rain.
They all were.
“Trowa?” Duo began but was interrupted before he could finish his thought.
“I’ll be alright. Don’t worry about me. I need to check the south wall, the waves were really big last night, I have to make sure there was no damage.” And with that Trowa was gone.
“I can’t help worrying about him. He’s dying inside.” Duo sighed pushing his half eaten plate of food away, his appetite suddenly absent.
“Nothing you or I can do about it. We can just distract him occasionally, it will take finding what he is looking for to cure him of this particular depression.”
“He’s not so bad if he can’t think about his life is what you mean. This rain gives him too much time to think.”
“Precisely. Getting outside for a while will help him, leave him be for today.”
Trowa was walking alone the base of the south wall where it met the shoreline. He was drenched to the bone and the surf was deafening as it crashed upon the rocks.
Trowa could find no signs of damage other than one of the gates had been torn off, nothing of any significance. There was not likely going to be a siege upon the castle from such a rocky cove anytime in the foreseeable future. The repairs would be noted and taken care of in more pleasant weather conditions.
Trowa was about to head back toward the stairs leading up to the castle when a bright bit of red fabric stuck to a rock caught his eye. He walked over to inspect the material when he realized it was attached to a young man all but hidden behind the rock.
The fabric was the remains of a shirt that had been torn from the chest and hung limply from the waist of the body floating and trapped between rocks.
Trowa leapt into the pounding surf and took hold of the man, and carried him over to the beach.
He laid him down and began in earnest checking for signs of life. He was blue with cold, as Trowa pushed the water from his lungs. He coughed and sputtered and heaved to breathe. His intensely blue eyes, with pupils dilated to near obscene proportions, opening in sheer terror as he screamed and then fell silently into unconsciousness once more.
Trowa immediately wrapped his sodden cloak around the shivering form, and carried him up the stairs, two and three at a time, bursting into the main hall and making a racket that would wake the death.
“WUFEI! DUO! HELP ME!”
His friends came running, unaccustomed to Trowa yelling, even when he was angry, they burst into the room, practically on Trowa’s heels.
“Wufei, I think he was in a shipwreck or something. I found him on the beach. Duo, I need anything warm and dry to put him in, and have a room made ready for him please. Wufei help me with him, let’s get these off him, and by GOD, look at all these markings. What are they?”
Duo ran to get help and do as instructed before Trowa had even finished his rambling orders. Wufei in the interim waited for Trowa to finish talking before answering his question and just helped rub circulation back into cold limbs as he studied the body beneath his hands. “Tattoos. They are tattoos.”
“Tat-what? Why haven’t they washed off?” Trowa asked as he cut free the ruined shirt and even worse pants. The clothing, or what was left of it, in a riot of exotic colors in fabrics like Wufei liked to wear. Only there was even less material, and the young man looked nothing like Wufei’s people. He was pale skinned, and golden of hair. His arms from wrist to shoulder had an intricate pattern marked into his skin, and his legs from ankle, and once he was naked it was confirmed the pattern ended at his groin. The same pattern repeated across both pectoral muscles. He was a walking painting - only the markings did not seem to wash off. In fact, the only places his skin was un-adorned was on his face, neck, stomach, posterior, hands, and feet. Every other surface was beautifully and intricately patterned and designed.
“They are tattoo’s, ink has been etched into his skin, it will never wash off.”
“Yes, it is a quite painful process. Needles, and hammers apply the ink into the skin. His appear to be a form of scripture or traditional charms of sorts. I can make out a few symbols, but I’d need more time to study the language…”
“Enough, Study him later, I do not wish to know the details right now. Look, they are even on his back… he’s covered in them, I don’t want to think of the pain involved at all.” Trowa shuddered involuntarily anyway. Those markings were very close to very sensitive areas on this young man’s body. The sheer thought, of needles and hammers being used that close in proximity to his own sex and manhood sent Trowa’s anatomy seeking safe haven and drawing up in sympathy.
“He must be of some importance, those sort of markings are not commonplace and look at the gold here on his wrists and ankles. That is pure metal there, no lead compounds in this mixture, see how soft it is and how it is molded to fit perfectly along his body? It’s worth a small King’s Ransom I’d wager. And that is some of the finest silk I’ve ever seen, this man is no mere sailor off a ship.”
Duo reappeared with blankets and Trowa wasted no time in wrapping the young man tightly, he was shivering terribly, and the hall was drafted against naked skin.
“What’s all that stuff on him?” Duo asked catching a glimpse of the tattoos.
“I’ll explain later, Come let’s get him to bed, we’ll discuss what and who he is on the way.”
Trowa was already up and carrying the strange, beautiful, and rather delicate of frame young man towards the guest quarters that were being hastily prepared for it’s unexpected occupant.
Once they had the newcomer safely tucked away under a mountain of covers and warm Wufei looked unusually happy as he settled himself at a nearby table covered in his books. One of the young man’s arms uncovered for Wufei’s gleeful eye to study.
“Fascinating. Simply fascinating.”
“Thank you for that observation, now care to enlighten Duo and I?” Trowa asked, sitting opposite Wufei and never taking his eyes of the sleeping golden youth.
“Well, if I am right, this young man is from a nomadic tribe I met once on the Dark Continent. You yourself favor their horses.” Wufei said and Trowa quirked an eyebrow.
“Really? I thought they never left their lands and only traded?”
“Apparently he is far from home, why we will have to find out when he wakes up.”
“Can you speak his language?”
“There are about one-hundred distinct dialects. I don’t know yet.”
“Then we’re back to square one.”
“What do those things, those tat-a-things say?” Duo interrupted Trowa and Wufei’s conversation as he looked closely at the strangers arm.
“Well, these are an even more ancient dialect, I think they are more symbolic than anything. Perhaps a right of passage of sorts, I can only guess. On my Travels and the tribes I did meet, most of the men had variations of these patterns, I never saw anyone with as many before. I take that back, once I did, and he was the chief of the tribe. So either this young man is the head of his tribe, or he is very close, a son perhaps.”
“You can get all of that from those pictures?” Trowa asked running a finger down a particular once he thought quite elegant in design.
“Not pictures, this is writing, this symbol here…” Wufei began, showing Trowa the design he had just recently touched then showing the matching symbol in a rather old book he had open on the table “… this means ‘prosperity’. This one next to it here means ‘eternal’. So in context I would hazard to guess this is an incantation wishing for a lifetime of prosperity.”
“See, and people wonder why I stay with you. You come in handy sometimes.” Duo joked getting a not too subtle glare of annoyance in return for his jest.
Duo unperturbed continued. “When you get to those pictures next to his wanker, I bet I can guess what they are gonna say.” The sentence was punctuated by rather suggestive eyebrow waggling.
Trowa began trying to stifle a laugh, it didn’t work, and he was chuckling and trying not to be loud about it.
“For once, even though you were trying to be rude, you’re probably right. Wishes for fruitful loins, and prowess are common.” Wufei was the only man alive in Duo’s opinion able to say that with a totally honest and straight face.
“Maybe I should get me some of those tattoos then?” Duo asked, with a leer on his face that well nigh defied description.
“You don’t need them.” Wufei returned, a slow lazy, half smile gracing his lips.
Trowa lost it entirely and had to excuse himself before he ruined his breeches from laughing too hard.
For three days, the boy from the sea slept in an almost comatose state. Trowa, Wufei and Duo taking turn keeping a constant vigil by his side. Forcing weak broth and water past pale lips and urging him to swallow the meager provisions to keep his health from deteriorating further.
During this time, Wufei spent hours deciphering the various tattoos, and sitting up in shock when one stubborn marking was translated.
“I don’t believe it!” He gasped out loud and Trowa from a chair by the fire looked up in query.
“I know him!”
This revelation brought Trowa from his chair and Duo to wake up from the low sofa to hear Wufei tell his tale.
“You know him? How?” Duo asked rubbing sleep from his eyes.
“This here on his shoulder, this wasn’t an ancient character, it’s modern writing. It’s his name!”
Wufei looked almost fondly at the sleep youth and smiled a genuine smile of affection. “I always knew he’d grow up to be a fine looking man.”
“What is his name? And please elaborate.” Trowa said pulling up a chair beside Wufei, Duo settling at Wufei’s feet.
“His name is Quatre Raberba Winner. Remember when I said I had only met one other person with as many tattoos as he? That man was Quatre’s father. I didn’t recognize Quatre, I knew him long before he had any of these scriptures earned, he was after all, only ten years old. He’s changed a lot in eleven years.” Wufei began, the smile still on his face as he recalled a long filed away memory.
“When I was fifteen, my father and I journeyed to the desert, to visit the tribes and to study their culture. My father said ‘any man who can breed such wonderful, sturdy, magnificent horses in a land where life itself was a struggle had to have knowledge worth learning’. He was right, and so we came to meet with Sheik Abrahim Raberba Winner, he welcomed foreigners readily - he was a very progressive tribal leader. He gave us shelter and let us travel with the tribe for a year. It’s because Abrahim liked foreigners, that his son is so fair of feature. Most people in the desert are very dark in complexion, but Quatre’s mother was not a native. She was perhaps the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.” Wufei said closing his eyes as if to remember her face.
“She was very kind, very soft spoken, and very doting of her youngest child. Quatre here was very much in her image, and still relegated to the harem since he had not yet reached puberty.”
“Harem? Those stories are TRUE?”
“Yes Duo, Quatre’s father had fifteen wives and Quatre was the youngest of thirty children.”
“Duo shut up, let Wufei talk!” Trowa growled wanting very much every detail Wufei could remember.
“Right, where was I? Quatre. I must sadly admit at first he seemed like every other child, an irritation that must be endured. I have learned a little more patience with them since then. I was in my defense only fifteen, and what boy of my age wants a ten-year-old hanging off them? But I digress. My father simply adored Quatre, and rightfully so, when I opened my eyes and actually watched the boy in action. Even at ten, he had a remarkable gift with the horses. Even the most wild of stallions, went silent and still when Quatre approached. If I did not know better I would swear Quatre was part horse, part beast, part other worldly creation. He moved so gracefully, and fast, do not let his size fool you. Although, he is not so small now as he once was. He was a very fey child, now he is quite a nice size, just thin. Again I am going off track. I am talking about the child, and his talents. He is a whirlwind of speed when he needs to be quick on his feet. But his eyes, they are the most intriguing. They captured and held yours when he looked at you, and I found even I had to take a breath and I felt a deep peace settle inside. My father said Quatre had the sixth sense. I would not have believed it had I not seen this child do things that defied description and rationale.”
Wufei had to smile fondly. Trowa was sitting like a child, full of wonder at the story being told and it was only going to get better as the tale progressed. Finally the depression clinging to his friend had abated.
“Fascinating. Is there more?” Trowa asked, his eyes not on Wufei, but looking and searching the sleeping face before him.
“Much more. I have only expounded on one talent. His exposure to men other than his father at ten was virtually non-existent. His time was occupied with traditional womanly pursuits as his culture dictated. Boys did not leave their mothers until they reached puberty. His mother loved music, and taught Quatre to play for her. He was equally talented in music as he was with the horses. His music made my father’s final days very peaceful.” Wufei paused to wipe a stray tear from his eye and Duo reached up to silently take his hand.
“My father was already showing signs of illness when we left on this journey, and towards the end, when he was too weak to do more than sit with his books, Quatre would join us and play for him since my father professed pleasure at hearing him play. Quatre would play until his fingers would bleed, because he wanted my father to have as much music as he desired. When my father died, Quatre played for his funeral, and wept with me. He is like a brother to me for that. When I left his tribe, Quatre gave me his harp, it’s the one in my room you asked about once Trowa.”
“You lost touch?” Trowa asked and Wufei nodded.
“Sadly yes. I sent a few letters, but in time, I became involved too much with myself and forgot to honor him, as I should have. Duo brought me back from that dangerous path I was heading down, and by then I no longer knew where the Tribe was. They are nomadic, and hard to track, and I did not pursue a search as I should have.”
“Well, if what you say of his nature is true, I doubt he will hold a grudge against you.”
“You’re right, it’s not in Quatre’s nature to hold a grudge.”
“Cat-rah... Did I say it right?” Trowa asked a sheepish grin on his face trying to form the unfamiliar name.
“Close. Cat-er-ah, soft “C” sound, make the “r” a soft syllable alone, touch it to the roof of your mouth and elongate the name into three syllables.”
“I’m not even going to attempt the second name you mentioned, Rabbabababa.” Trowa chuckled at his own usually useless grasp of foreign languages.
“Raberba. And no, don’t even try to say it Trowa, your simple tongue will butcher it.”
“Well, he sounds downright peachy, please tell me he at least has a sense of humor.” Duo looked desperate for an ally in amongst his more reserved companions.
“I’ve no doubt the two of you shall get along famously. Just don’t expect a lot of words to be spoken. Quatre’s mastery of this language is about a hundred words or less. “Niceties” only I’m afraid unless he’s learned more in the past few years.” Wufei said turning to look at the topic of conversation.
“The only thing that troubles me about all of this is, WHY he is here. And why you found him in this state. Come on Quatre, wake up so you can tell us little brother.”
Wufei gently brushed golden bangs from Quatre’s still face and turned and left in a contemplative mood, Duo following close behind.
Leaving Trowa to ponder Wufei’s tale and keep vigil throughout the night.