It was the only the threat to Matt's life that kept Will from turning the Darbonnian set to guard her into a smoking corpse. She still had not heard from her boyfriend, which could only mean that he was still unconscious, as they had yet to find anything else that would block their telepathic connection, even world separation.

Will tried to remain outwardly calm, but she couldn't stop the occasional spark that jumped off of her hair or fingertips. The sandstone floor beneath her had a glassy sheen from where she had failed to control her lightning once.

Everyone okay? She asked over W.I.T.C.H. radio. The other girls were still contained to their rooms while Will played the waiting game in this sandstone chamber that felt more like a jail cell.

About ready to do this the hard way. Irma's voice was the first heard.

I'm with Irma on this one, Hay Lin's voice surprisingly piped up. We were diplomatic, and then they did this. We did our best. And now Matt's in danger.

He may be in more danger if we try to pull something, Cornelia warned. We still don't know where he is.

Or if he's even…

He's alive! Will asserted quickly, glad she knew at least that. I can feel that, it's just kind of like a dial tone.

There's just no precedent for this, Taranee interjected, but my guess is the only thing keeping Matt safe right now is that they think that they can control us with him.

If he would just wake up he could take care of himself. Will was worried. What had they used to render him unconscious? And for so long. It had been the better part of a few hours.

Her conversation was interrupted as the door to her cell was pulled open. Reglan was thrown inside, followed by Sule, a few guards, and several of the advisors Will recognized from yesterday. Will stood instantly, sparks licking at her fingers. She refused to let herself be cowed by the ensemble of women. They couldn't hurt her. They wouldn't hurt her.

Matt was the one in danger.

Reglan looked terrified, and given the situation Will couldn't blame him. He couldn't have been expecting any of this at all. The prince seemed paler than usual, given her extremely limited knowledge of Darbonnian physiology, but otherwise seemed unharmed. Will wondered how long that would last. She hated that she was almost surprised, though relieved on that front.

Sule almost managed to not flinch at the death glare afforded to her by the leader of the guardians. "Will," She met Will's eyes, "Prince Reglan," She nodded at the prince standing hesitantly slightly behind Will. She pulled a chair out at the table Will had been sitting at. "Please have a seat, both of you."

Reglan glanced at Will, looking to her for the next move. When Will remained stubbornly standing, Sule sighed, looking forward. "I cannot say I am surprised," She said, "I am not sure I would do any different in your position."

Will scoffed, tightening her stance. "So you've clearly brought us together for some reason. Why are my friends on lockdown and where is Matt?"

Sule knit her hands together, looking up at Will. "I've brought you both here because you both know that Reglan taking the throne will launch my world into war, political marriage aside."

Will grit her teeth. "And what makes you say that?"

"I know the political climate of my world," Sule said evenly, "I was an advisor to Ayaka long before you were born. I have watched the unrest grow as Reglan was born, watched it sicken as my Queen aged and still bore no daughter. At her death, I knew for certain that Darbonne would not accept a male ruler."

Will struggled to keep her stance firm. She wanted to cross her arms, to find a way to argue. The Oracle had sent them there for a reason. He must have believed that it was possible. Will wanted to believe that it was possible.

"I know you have your orders," Sule continued, looking imploringly into Will's eyes. "And as a child of war you know naught but conflict, and may even see the rebellions that rise as an unfortunate necessity to change. But silencing the conflict will not be as easy as simply quashing a rebellion. It will be a constant struggle. The world will crumble, her infrastructure collapse, and Matari's people will fall. I cannot permit that to happen to my people, and our world."

Will didn't want to believe it. It internally baffled all of her senses of right and wrong. But when she considered everything she had seen, and everything Matt had told her he had witnessed, it made a painful amount of sense. Will's hands tightened into fists, the only outward sign of her internal struggle. "You do not place hope in your people?" She asked, trying to salvage her mission.

Sule looked to the room around her. "I love my people," She answered simply. "But as a mother loves her child unconditionally, she also knows her daughter's limits of understanding. I know my people are not ready for this. There is much that needs to be done before Darbonne will accept a male on the throne.

"I do not say that it is right," She summarized, "But I know that I will not allow my people to be hurt over something they cannot yet understand."

Everything in Will's mind screamed that Sule had to be wrong. It was wrong that half of this world's population was delegated to servitude and inferiority. But contrary to Taranee's beliefs, Will had actually learned something in her history classes. She was seeing a startling similarity between this world and her own of centuries ago.

It was not right. It was not even close to ethical.

But Will did not want to fight in another war.

Slowly, Will relaxed her stance, coming to sit at the table across from Sule. Sule seemed to understand that Will had come to see her point of view, and even let a small smile of relief show. Settling her shoulders, Will asked, "So, what would be your plan?"

"There are some precedents of Queens dying young, before their children were of ruling age. It was many centuries ago, but my people do have a course of action."

"Which is?" Will asked. In the back of her mind, she started to feel a stirring in that section of her consciousness that Matt usually occupied. Sule started talking about some temporary government that would function as more of a democracy while Matari made her choice for heir apparent, but Will was focused on that little presence, coming back to consciousness.


Will? Matt's presence was faint, coming stronger as he woke up. You okay? Are you… Will could actually feel when the memories of what had happened came back to Matt, as the adrenaline and anger she felt through the bond made her gasp. I'm coming. He said, and Will felt the rush of power that she knew was him going Regent.

Matt, no! She cried. I'm okay, I swear…

Sule had been alerted that something was wrong by Will's gasp. "What's going on?" She asked tightly.

"Where's Matt?" Will demanded.

"He's…" Her reply was cut off as Will's guardian angel burst through the door with a blast from his eyes.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. Will stood up, feeling like she was moving through molasses, opening her mouth to say something, tell Matt to stand down, that she was okay, but in the time it took her to formulate the words to say and transport them from ideas in her mind to actual words, one of Sule's guards had drawn a spear like instrument, and thrust it into Matt's side.

Will saw the blade pierce, penetrating into his rib cage, and the look of shock and pain and anger pass over Matt's face before he met her eyes.

And everything seemed to break into real time again. "Matt, stand down!" The order finally made it out of her mouth, and two threatening bolts of lighting prevented any of the guards from getting near him again. "He's with me!" Will called by way of explanation as she literally flew over the table to get to Matt, where he had fallen to his knees a few feet in front of the doorway.

Sule was standing too now. "That's your slave?" She asked, eyes wide in shock.

"I need gauze and bandages," Will demanded, ignoring Sule's question to press her hands against Matt's side, one hand holding the spear in place so that it didn't dislodge or cause further damage as she pushed Matt down to lie on the floor.

"Matt, Matt, fuck…" She whispered, "Why don't you ever fucking listen to me? I'm fine."

Matt let out a broken chuckle, and Will could hear the pain in his voice. "Hey babe…" She pushed into his mind to feel better what he was feeling and he let her join him. Right away she felt it, the sucking hole in his chest, and from a detached sort of standpoint how bad it felt.

"No talking out loud, you're hurt," Will whispered desperately, "We're gonna fix you, you're gonna be okay." Someone in the background was calling for a healer, people were running around her, but none so close as to impact them. We were getting everything worked out, why do you always have to jump blindly into conflicts like this?

Someone's gotta look out for you. The answer was more communicated in feelings than words.

You're lucky I love you, Will commented back, wincing in referred pain and concern as Matt coughed, the movement of his rib cage causing a shock of pain to radiate from the spear wound.

Owwww… Now there seemed to be genuine pain in Matt's response. As some sort of cloth was pressed into Will's hands, Matt seemed to genuinely be taking stock of his injuries. Okay… uh… not to scare you, but this feels bad… He took another shuddering breath. Can't breath too well…

Will's heart juddered in her chest. Matt seemed to have settled on short shallow breaths as the best way to satisfy his need for oxygen. Unfortunately, connected as they were Will could feel that it wasn't enough, and the ache in his chest from lack of oxygen was growing stronger and stronger. "God damn it Matt, you are not allowed to die on me," She snarled, tears springing unbidden to her eyes.

Not sure if that's a command I'll be able to follow, Matt commented dryly. Although could be an interesting experiment.

A Darbonnian woman in dark brown appeared at her side. "We need to get the spear out. I'll pull, you press these over the wound." Will was handed a wad of fabric-like material. She nodded. "One, two, three!"

Matt arched his back and cried out as the healer pulled the spear out, and Will could see blood spread like a wave before she pressed the gauze back over the wound.

You don't get a choice, she whispered desperately. Dammit Matt, stay with me.

But he was getting fainter in her mind. She could practically feel his life force bleeding out from her mind through her fingertips. There was too much blood. It had already soaked through the fabric she had, and the healer helped her pile on more layers. No, no, no, no, no… Matt was not going to die here, not now. Not after everything. Not to a stupid misunderstanding.

Dammit, she heard Matt comment, his tone floaty, not fully there. I had a whole proposal planned and everything. The girls were going to help me pull it off.

"You are not going to die, stop talking like that," She snapped out loud. "You're still going to propose, we're gonna get married and live happily every after, now you just need to stop bleeding!" She pressed the blood soaked gauze down harder, tears running down her cheeks.

And then the wound underneath her hands was glowing with a golden light, and Matt's labored breaths, which had been growing fainter and fainter, snapped back into his lungs with a vengeance. He sat up suddenly, hand coming to rest over Will's on his side, still soaked in blood but… Will couldn't feel the pain through their bond anymore. What had…

Will pulled the gauze back to find the skin underneath still covered in blood, but no longer oozing or even injured. Just clean skin unbroken underneath her fingertips. "What…?" She asked, not even believing it.

Reglan, Matt caught her eyes and then looked over her shoulder. Will turned around to see Reglan standing with one hand held over them, still glowing with a golden radiance.

"Matari's Light," Someone behind Will said quietly, reverently spoke. One of the advisors probably. The golden glow slowly faded, leaving everyone, Reglan included, completely shocked.

Will was the first to speak.

"What was that you said about Matari making her heir apparent clear?"

In the end, Will wasn't sure if the mission counted as a failure or a success.

Reglan appeared to have inherited the Heart of Darbonne, and matriarchy or not, Darbonne couldn't ignore the will of it's goddess.

The way Will understood it, Reglan would be included in the decisions of it's people, as a temporary government headed by Sule waited for a potential heir fathered by Reglan. It still confused Will, but despite Reglan's possession of a Heart, Sule did not act like fathering a child would be an issue. Something that Will and Matt would keep in mind if the Oracle was not able to satisfactorily answer their own concerns about parenting.

Will was not sure how to approach their debriefing with the Oracle.

Reglan had not taken the throne, so that meant they had failed.

But Darbonne had not fallen into war, so that meant they had… succeeded?

Will was still trying to wrap her head around it.

Turns out Matt had been drugged unconscious by a native herb, as the Darbonnians knew about their telepathic connection from Will's desperation to get to him the night before. But they had laid him down on a stretcher, and had him right outside the room, no actual intentions to hard him or the other girls, just prevent Will and the others from jumping into unnecessary fighting.

"You are warriors," Sule had explained sadly, "And it is in your nature, as children of war. We had to be safe. Let you hear us."

Will grudgingly agreed.

Perhaps something to work on in the future.

For now, it was time to go home.

Overall, the debriefing was positive, the council being pleased at the success, even if unorthodox, of the mission. "And you have helped set a new precedent in Darbonnian history, of a male Keeper of the Heart," One of the elders offered. "So in some respects, your mission was more successful than we could have hoped."

Will nodded, nervously looking at the ground with her loaded question. I'm with you, no matter what babe, Matt promised. You don't have to worry about that.

With that confidence installed in her, Will finally gathered the courage to ask. "Oracle?" She steeled herself. "I have a question for you."

"Yes Will?" The Oracle asked.

Will gripped the Heart in a fist, terrified to ask but needing to know the answer. "When I spoke with Ayaka, she seemed to believe that people who carry Hearts are… can't have children," She summarized shakily. The Oracle dipped his head, urging, acknowledging her statement. "Is that true?"

The Oracle nodded. "It is."

Will's heart plummeted. She had hoped and wanted to believe that it wouldn't be true, and Matt was already trying to comfort her over their bond. She knew he wanted kids someday, and maybe he would have a chance with someone else and maybe- Stop it! Matt tried to interject, but…

"However," The Oracle cut off her panic mental cascade, "It will not be the same for you as it is for their people."

"What?" Matt asked, holding it together ever so slightly better than his girlfriend.

"For as long as you hold the Heart of Kandrakar, you will be unable to conceive," The Oracle clarified, "However, should you give it up, your body should be able to conceive again."

Will was overwhelmed, casting a glance at Matt to feel out where he was. He seemed just as dazed by the emotional rubberband as she was. "I uh…" She cleared her throat, "So I'll be able to have kids some day." She clarified. "With Matt, if I want to."

The Oracle nodded, smiling faintly. "Once you both give up your Hearts, the ability will return."

"But then why would Ayaka think I couldn't ever?" She asked, still mentally reeling.

"In Darbonne, the Keeper of the Heart carries the Heart until death," A councilwoman explained. "It is only given up briefly, during a special ceremony, so that the Keeper may conceive. Ayaka was unfamiliar with your relationship with your Heart, and therefore did not know you did not know the specifics."

"I…" Will was lost for words. So Matt just wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly.

With that concern addressed, the Guardians got ready to go home for real. They were set to go back through the veil to Earth when the Oracle called Will's attention. "Will, we almost forgot." The old man held out a small key to Will. "For Matthew's collar. I'm sure he's ready to have that off."

Will had to pause a moment, looking at the small silver key. "Oh right," She commented nervously, "I almost forgot." A rush of emotions poured through her at that moment. She didn't want to take it off, she wanted to have time to enjoy this new dynamic they had just discovered together.

She walked over to grab the key, before turning back to Matt, who had an odd look on his face. She took a long look at the band of silver encircling his neck, looking like it belonged there.

"I guess it's time for this to come off, huh?" She said quietly.

I almost don't want it to… Matt's quiet response came.

I mean, you can't exactly walk around with this thing on… Will unlocked the collar, hearing the click of the clasp as she pulled it from around Matt's neck. Kinda hard to explain…

I guess… Maybe just in private then? Matt asked, leaving his mind wide open so Will could see how much he really didn't want to lose how close this had made them, how he was scared that she would get back to Earth and reject it, and reject him, how, trauma or no, he chose this, chose that this time he would do it because he enjoyed it, not because he had to, with the knowledge that he could say no at any time…

Will shook a little at the sheer power of the emotions she got, tucking the collar into her shoulder bag.

The guardians went directly home after the mission. Multi-day trips were always exhausting, having to stay in guardian mode full time took its toll on the girls. While Will technically still lived with her mom, it was a residence in legal means only. She spent all her time over at Matt's apartment, and it was there that the two returned after stepping through the fold.

Will dropped her bags with an odd feeling in her chest. It had only been a few days, but the last time she had been in this room, everything had been so different, so less… heavy.

While Will had been having her crisis, Matt dropped down onto his bed, flipping his hair back out of his eyes. She felt a sense of unease over their bond before he asked, "So… are you going to freak out now?"

Will considered it, rolling the questions over in her head. Was she? Everything had felt so natural over on Darbonne. Now, with real life and classes and work returning to her mind, how would she and Matt even begin…? And removed from where the power differential was natural, where it was so okay for Matt to wear a collar and be subservient to her. In that isolated world, it had been so easy to accept the power exchange, but on Earth…

They couldn't do it. Will would be sick and twisted, Matt would be a victim of his abuse.

She would be no better than Nerissa.

Will gasped, her arms coming up to hug herself. "Thinking about it," She answered honestly, as her heart started to thud in her chest.

Matt sighed, putting his face in his hands. "It's not like that," He said quietly, earnestly. "With you… it's not like it was with her." He must have been reading her thoughts, not that she was shielding them.

"With her…" Matt continued, looking at his bedspread, "I never had control. I had to do what she said, or face the consequences."

"But you have to do what I say too," Will interjected, her hands shaking, "You don't get a choice-"

"Yeah," Matt shrugged, looking up at her, "But you've never made me do something I didn't want to. And if you accidentally trigger the compulsion, you stop it as soon as you realize it. And you can't tell me that the instant you felt me not enjoying something that you wouldn't stop."

Will clenched her jaw. "Of course not, I'm not a monster."

"Exactly," Matt nodded in agreement. "I…" He shook his head and huffed out a breath. "I shouldn't… because of everything… I shouldn't want this." His voice was getting rough, and Will felt an overwhelming ball of insecurity and fear and anxiety rear up in Matt's mind. "I should run as far and as fast as I can, because there's got to be something wrong with me…"

"Matt," Will tried to soothe him, but he cut her off.

"But I do like it," He took a calming breath. "I like it a lot, and it makes me horny as hell when you go all Dominatrix, and I feel safe and at peace when I'm kneeling for you…" He chuckled wryly and shrugged. "And maybe it's an unhealthy coping mechanism given my PTSD but… you're not a monster Will. You could never be like her."

It was an interesting role reversal from the previous night, with Matt talking Will down from hating herself. "You let me see everything you felt Will," Matt said by way of explanation, reading her thoughts again. "While I still don't feel entire at ease with myself, and that's gonna take a bit more time, I know you could never be like her. Because I've seen into both your minds. That's why it's you I'm okay with giving myself to." He reached up to feel at the empty space around his throat. "Collar or no."

There was that mention of the collar again. Will watched his fingers absentmindedly touch his throat, as if searching for the metal circlet. "Did you…" How did she ask this? "Did you… like the collar?"

Matt's absentminded search stopped, and he glanced up at Will. "I…" He started hesitantly, and then paused. She could feel as his anxiety picked up pace behind his calm exterior. "Uh… I uh… I think you already know the answer to that."

The answer, Will knew, was that yes, the collar and the meaning contained within it made him hard, made his heart beat faster, made reality swim in front of his eyes. But Will knew that it was way more loaded than that, outside of the context of Darbonne, where they could both pretend that it was all for the mission that he had to wear it. Back on Earth…

And there was still the question Will had been afraid to ask, with all the load that such a question would contain, and how she was still ever vigilant of breaking her boyfriend. "Did she ever…" And Matt stiffened, knowing exactly who she was. "Did she ever make you wear one?"

Matt shook his head instantly, while his body seemed to recoil in on itself. "No," he responded verbally, his eyes clouding over with the darkness Will hated to see, "Sometimes she would restrain me by…" He pressed his hand against his throat as if to mimic the sensation, "And she always loved cho…" He had to swallow and pull his hands away before continuing, "Choking me," He finished, "but… never a collar."

Will's hands clenched and unclenched at her side. Trying to restrain every murderous intent she had within her, Will stepped forward to touch Matt's shoulder lightly. He jumped slightly, but the darkness retreated from his eyes as he met her gaze. "Sorry," he apologized, but Will shook her head, finally sitting down next to him.

"Well that's good then," Will offered, "One less trigger right?"

Matt lifted a shoulder noncommittally. "I guess so. Although if it were we probably would have found out the instant you tried to put it on me in Kandrakar."

Will nodded, thinking. "So… we keep doing it then? I mean… as much as you want to or…"

"I enjoy it a lot," Matt agreed, "A lot more than I ever thought I would given… everything." A vindictive smile took residence on his face. "One less thing she took from me."

"One more thing we got back," Will agreed, reaching up to card her hands through his hair. Matt hummed his approval, eyes slipping shut.

"But don't think for a second this means that every now and again I'm not going to grab you and fuck you into a wall," Matt threatened lightheartedly.

That startled a full on laugh from Will. "Oh are you?" She retorted jovially, halting her gentle stroking to give a firm yank on the hair at the base of his neck. Matt's mouth feel open in surprise and a pleased groan slipped out.

"Fuck," He whispered, eyes still closed, but a faint grin across his face, "Not fair."

"Your hair is fair game," Will laughed, "Now if I were really playing dirty…" The hand not in his hair traced down his still bare chest, coming to rest just above the line the harem pants made at his hips.

"If," Matt mocked, but the word came out too breathy maintain the tone he was going for. His hips bucked as Will lifted her hand away. "Babe…" He whined.

"You want something?" Will asked teasingly, tracing up around his collarbone and tightening his hand in his hair. Matt groaned, and Will could see the erection growing beneath the thin pants.

"Please?" He asked faintly, fidgeting in her grip. "Please Will…"

"You sure that's the name you want to use?" Will latched onto Matt's jaw, turning his face to look at her. The question seemed simple, but there was more underneath, asking Matt where he wanted to take this. Matt blinked dazedly at her for a moment, before the question and it's double meaning made it past his sex-fogged brain.

"I…" His whole body shuddered, before his eyes dropped. She feared the worst, wondering if she had triggered something, before she dug deeper over the bond. Will traced along the strings that bound them, feeling his mind started to drift off into that space she had discovered she could send him and have him feel safe, wanted, protected in her care. "Please… Mistress…"

And Will could feel nothing but lust, love and trust coming at her over the bond, and she smiled. "Kneel for me, Matt. Hands behind your back." Matt dropped to the ground, eyes half lidded as he watched her. She reached into her shoulderbag, pulling out the silver circlet inside.

"Do you want to wear this?" She asked deliberately, holding it in front of him, feeling for anything even remotely amiss. All she could feel however, was a deep sense of peace and relaxation. He nodded, smiling happily as she relocked the collar.

"Good boy," She said quietly, scratching back along his scalp until she could grip the back of his head roughly as sparks danced off of her fingers to strike his chest. Matt called out hoarsely as his cock jumped in his pants.

"Than- thank you Mistress," He murmured happily, eyes sliding closed again.

They couldn't have stopped after that if they tried.

Wow that was a doozy. Okay, maybe another chapter after this, because there's still one more thing I want to hit, but this is me finally capturing a plot bunny for this chapter. Sorry for the weird update here. I posted a chapter previously entitled chapter 6, but decided I didn't like the direction it went. So, editing was needed.

Also, note on BDSM relationships with Mama Nova. Negotiate everything please? I get a lot of leeway with these guys because of the telepathic relationship (and I can literally make them perfect) but real life power exchange relationships are not nearly as simple as I portrayed here. Especially when trauma is involved. Please do your research and communication with your partner(s). It's amazing when it works, but can be a real trainwreck when it's not.

Okay, that's all for now. Thanks for sticking it out with me. Possibly one more chapter coming!