Moments in Time:



Thank God that’s over. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to these things. I’m still a guerilla at heart, I guess. Sneak in, blow it up, run away. That’s me. This schmoozing stuff wears me out. Zechs gave me a crash-course in etiquette and protocol, but I’m always afraid I’m going to call someone an Honorable who should be an Esteemed, or use the wrong fork, or just generally fuck up and embarrass myself and Zechs in about a thousand different ways.

But Zechs looks happy, so I guess I must not have done too bad.

He looks damn sexy, too. Zechs Merquise in tails and white tie ought to be against the law. He’s so cool and smooth when he’s being the Ambassador, and then all of a sudden he’ll look at me and there’ll be this flame in his eyes, out of nowhere, like a brushfire set by lightning. Lightning Count, they used to call him. No wonder.

I yawn and stretch, and then I feel him massaging my shoulders. Mmmmm…he could do that all night and it’d be okay with me. Well, maybe not all night. But I wouldn’t argue about a couple of hours of it, anyway.

“Are you tired, love?”

I turn around, and I can’t help smiling at him. All I have to do is yawn, and he goes all mother hen on me. “No more tired than you.” I reach up and touch his cheek. “You’re working too hard.”

“I like working.” His smile is soft and dreamy, the one no one ever sees but me. “At any rate, it’s not work when you’re beside me.” He leans down and kisses me on the forehead, like I’m some fancy piece of porcelain that’ll break if he presses too hard. “Come on. The staff can finish cleaning up. It’s past your bedtime.”

I guess it ought to annoy me when he talks to me as if I’m a little kid, but it doesn’t. I know he doesn’t really think of me that way, and it makes me feel like he’ll take care of me, no matter what. When you’ve had a life like mine, that means a lot.

He takes my hand and we climb the stairs. His hands are strong and warm and, God, I want them on me right now. I’ve wanted him all night. And he asks if I’m tired? Not bloody likely.

We’re barely inside our rooms when he starts kissing me like he’s never going to stop. He nuzzles my neck, and my knees fold when he goes for that spot right under my ear. His arms slide around me, though, and I know he won’t let me fall.

Nobody’s ever kissed me like he does. I swear he must know a hundred different ways, from sweet and gentle to so hard it hurts. And it’s always exactly the way I need to be kissed at that moment. I don’t know how he does it—and I really don’t care. All I know is that right now, his mouth tastes so good, better than champagne even, and I’m hungry for it. I want him to kiss me everywhere and then some.

He works the knot out of my bow tie—I still can’t get the hang of that thing—and takes the studs out of my shirt. Damn, I love it when he undresses me. He does it like he does everything, perfect and with attention to detail like you can’t believe. His fingers just barely touch my skin as he finishes unbuttoning my shirt, and I’m pretty sure he’s doing that on purpose, just to tease me. It’s working.

“I watched you all evening.” His voice makes me shiver. It’s like a cat purring. A big, dangerous cat. “I watched the way you move in those pants, and I wondered what our guests would have thought if I’d touched you like this as we went in to dinner.” He skims his palms over my ass and squeezes not quite hard enough, then pulls down my zipper. “I wanted to do this when we were dancing. Could you tell?”

He turns me around, pulling me against him, and glides one of his hands down my belly, inside my shorts. His touch jolts me. I feel it like I used to feel the bolts of beam cannons blasting Deathscythe, like something that’s happening outside me but that still shakes me all the way to my core. I buck against his hand and make a noise that sounds like I’m strangling or crying or both. I’m not sure myself which it is.

His lips are against my ear, and he’s talking to me as he touches me, still in that dangerous purr like nothing ever rattles him. For a minute, it pisses me off—I can hardly breathe, and he can go on like he’s giving a fucking speech. But he keeps touching and talking, and I can’t stay mad at him. Hell, I can’t even think. I try to ask him for more, but I don’t know if the words make it from my brain to my mouth.

“My, my…so hot tonight, little one?” He’s running his fingers over the head of my cock, just enough to make me want to scream and not enough to make me come. “I love to see you dressed up, do you know that? Almost as much as I love to see you wearing nothing at all.”

He strokes my cock just once and then dives deeper into my shorts to cup my balls in his hand. He’s rubbing his thumb over them, and it’s so maddening I want to crawl out of my skin.

“When I had you in my arms and we were waltzing, I wanted to take you then. Could you feel me? I felt you—you were so hard that I knew if I stood back, anyone could have seen. And I think that if the music hadn’t stopped when it did, you might have had to excuse yourself to change your trousers, hm?”

He runs his tongue over my ear and I hear myself moaning. He’s right. When we were dancing, our bodies moved together like a reflection of making love. But it wasn’t just that, not just the way he felt pressed against me. It was the idea that we were dancing—in public—and I didn’t have to be afraid to put my arms around him. That he wasn’t going to push me away if I said too much or got too close. That it was okay if the whole room figured out that I’m crazy in love with him. It was the way he smiled at me that let me know he feels the same way. I thought I was going to come right there.

He’s still holding me, telling me what he thinks about me, and that turns me on as much as anything he’s doing with his hands. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispers, sliding his hand under my shirt. His touch lingers on the scars I’ve collected, pausing over my ribs like he can tell every time I’ve cracked one of them. “And so fragile…”

“I’m not—” I try to protest, but then his fingers hook the waist of my shorts and I can’t remember what I was going to complain about. “Please,” I beg, covering his hand with mine, trying to guide it to where I need him most, but he doesn’t go any farther.

“Do you know how much it excites me to know that you want me?” I mumble something, but my mouth is having trouble forming words. “I think you were hot enough that if I’d spread you out on the dining table, you’d have begged for it, wouldn’t you?”

I get this visual of me on the table, bareassed naked, my legs wrapped around his waist as he fucks me while the other rooms are full of people. My brain short circuits. I jerk like someone just held a cattle prod to the more tender parts of my anatomy.

“Ah ha. Liked that idea, didn’t you? I thought you would. I know you, little one. I know what you need. And you needed this, didn’t you?” He closes his fingers around my cock. I whimper. Oh god, yes, my prince, I need you and your hands and your mouth and your body forever and ever…

“And this…”

He reaches under my shirt and pinches my nipple. Hard.


I hear him chuckle at my reaction, but I can’t help it. I’m not sure if I’m protesting or begging.

He’s playing with both of my nipples now, and it’s like there’s a conduit between them and my cock, buzzing with electricity until I feel every nerve ending in my body getting ready to fire. And then his touch is gone, suddenly, and I’m lost. I reach for him, half blind with wanting him.

“Shhh, little one. I’ve not gone anywhere.” He takes off my shirt, then pushes my pants down. He pulls my shorts down, too, and I can tell he’s being careful with me, now that I’m as hard again as I was when we were dancing. He lets the cloth barely scrape my skin, and I whimper some more. He finishes with my clothes, and it suddenly occurs to me that we haven’t even made it out of the foyer.

He picks me up and carries me through the living room to our bedroom. I wrap my arms around his neck and hold tight, not because I’m afraid he’ll drop me, but because I need to feel him. I need to know that this is forever, that it’s not one night that we’ve stolen out of a lifetime of being alone. Sometimes…sometimes it’s still hard for me to believe. My arms tighten around him and I press my face against his skin. I can still smell his cologne, but mostly what I smell is him, clean and tangy, totally male. Totally Zechs. My fingers curl into his hair. Yes. This is real. I couldn’t make something like this up.

He lays me back on the bed and just stands there for a minute, looking at me. He pushes my knees apart, touches my thighs, his fingers tracing my skin. Then he sits beside me, brushes his fingertips across my cheek.

“Tell me what you want. Tonight is for you.”

I don’t know what to ask for. I want so much—and so little. I want all of his heart and body, I want just a touch. I need him on me, inside me. Or just to hold my hand. In the end, I ask for all that I need, now or ever.

“Just love me.”

He draws a line with his finger down my cheek, my jaw, my chin. Then his eyes ignite, and he’s the Lightning Count.

“With pleasure.”

I watch him strip off his clothes and I have to close my eyes. If I don’t, I’ll be finished before he even touches me again. I hear him move, and then before I can open my eyes again, he’s on top of me. Not with his whole weight—he’s always afraid of hurting me, no matter how much I tell him I’m tougher than I look. But I can feel him covering me, and I don’t think heaven could feel any better.

For a minute I don’t do anything but lay there. I feel so safe under him. So warm. And then he starts moving against me, and I shake from needing him so bad.

He holds my arm down, above my head, while he kisses my neck, his teeth grazing the skin of my shoulder. His other hand is between my legs, his fingers rubbing the inside of my thighs. I can feel my control slipping and I try to get away from him, just a little bit. This feels too good, and I don’t want it to be over so soon.

His fingers tighten around my wrist. “Lie still, little one. Let me work.”

I try. I really do. But I can’t keep still, not when he moves down to start sucking on my nipple, drawing circles around it with his tongue. “Fuck,” I whisper again, as he catches it in his teeth, biting just hard enough to keep me on the edge between pleasure and pain. It’s a tightrope he loves to walk. And it comes close to breaking me, like always.

He does the same on the other side, and I’ve got my hands balled into fists, I’m trying so hard not to come.

“Zechs, please…you’re making me…I’m going to—”

“It’s all right, baby.” He runs his fingers through my bangs as he looks into my face. “Come for me. Let me watch you.”

He presses his body against me a little harder, and our cocks touch. I can’t hold on any more. I can hear myself groan, feel him holding me still. I know he’s looking at me, watching me lose control, studying every twitch and spasm and whimper. It’s what he wants, to see me this way. God help me, I want it, too. I want him to make me helpless.

He whispers again, “Come for me, little one,” and his fingers tease me until my brain goes nova and stars explode behind my eyelids. I feel like I’m being blown apart, but it doesn’t hurt. It feels glorious.

The stars fade, but I can hardly open my eyes. I take a deep breath and find I’m still shuddering. I can’t even move.

Zechs kisses me. “I don’t think I have to ask if it was good for you, do I?”

I open one eye. It takes just about all my energy. “You don’t have to sound so damn pleased with yourself.”

“Me? You’re the one who looks positively sated.”

He moves off me and I roll on my side so I can snuggle up to him. I put my hand on his chest, and he covers it with his. His hands are beautiful, long-fingered like an artist’s hands, and so much bigger than mine. I curl my fingers and they disappear under his palm.

I look at our hands, and I start thinking. Zechs tells me he always gets a little nervous when I start thinking, and I guess maybe he has a point. It’s like once I look under the surface of something, I have to go all the way to the bottom of it.

Something’s been nagging at me for a while, like a thought that wants attention. I haven’t gone there—been kind of scared to, I guess—but tonight it kind of snuck up on me. So all of a sudden, there it is, and I’m looking at it, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Zechs can steal my control in a heartbeat, without even trying. Shit, look at me tonight. He hardly even had to touch me. And it’s not just in bed that it’s like that—I catch myself all the time thinking, “Whatever you want” when it comes to making decisions around here. That was hard to get used to at first. You really have to believe in someone if you let him have that kind of power over you. And it took me a while, but I finally learned to trust him. Trust doesn’t come real easy to me—heh, that’s an understatement. Zechs is the only person in my whole life who promised never to leave me, and it looks to me so far like he’s planning on keeping that promise. Of all the things Zechs has done for me, the best isn’t the fancy house or the clothes or even taking me away from Earth, which was killing me a little more every day even if I wouldn’t admit it. It’s that he taught me that I really can depend on him for anything. Anything.

But sometimes I wonder how much he depends on me. He’s always in control, not just of me, but of himself. I wish he’d let go once in a while—he gets so tense sometimes and I know he just needs to blow up. Yell, punch something, screw me to the mattress, whatever. But he won’t. When he’s like that, I feel like there’s a place inside of him that I can’t reach.

Fuck it all, I don’t know why I have to think so much. I always tell Zechs it’s not good for a person to think too much, and this is why.

Zechs squeezes my hand. I know he can tell I got distracted, but it doesn’t take him long to get my attention back . Those artist’s hands start drawing designs on my hip, my ass, and I shiver, but it’s a good shiver.

“Baby,” he whispers. “I want to take you.”

I want it, too, as much as I’ve ever wanted it. More, maybe, because of what I was thinking, because he can’t shut me out when he’s making love to me. I try to nod, but then he kisses my throat, and my head falls back like my neck is broken. He’s holding my wrists down, pressing my arms against the bed. His mouth bruises mine again, and I feel it all the way down in my belly. Oh God, I can’t ever get enough of him, even if he did just make me come.

He lets go of my hands and reaches for something out of my line of sight. Then I feel his fingers probing at me, and I know what he was reaching for. I can feel them, slick and warm with oil, working their way inside me. I push against Zechs’ hand with my hips—I want to feel him as much as I can. He won’t quite give me what I want, not yet, pulling back as I push.

He’s frustrating the hell out of me, and I’m about to start kicking and screaming. And then I get this idea. If he can make me crazy, why can’t I do the same thing to him?

I sit up a little and take the bottle of baby oil away from him. He opens his mouth, about to protest, but I shake my head and move away a little. I pour a puddle of the oil in my hand, smiling as the scent reaches me. It smells so…innocent.

Still smiling, I smear the oil over my body, starting with my chest, rubbing slowly until every inch is glistening. Zechs licks his lips, but he doesn’t give any other clue about what’s going on in his head. So I crawl off the bed, pour some more oil in my hand, and go to work on the rest of my body—arms, legs, until the light shimmers on my skin. He’s been watching me, intent but quiet. I know that’s one thing he likes, watching me. So…

I pour one last pool of oil into my hand, and then I touch myself, slathering the oil on my cock, biting my lip a little because the way my hand slips over it feels way too good. And knowing Zechs is watching makes it feel even better. I close my eyes, swaying a little as I stroke myself. I hear a quiet, hissing breath and I don’t think it’s mine.

I’ve almost got him, I’m sure of it. I turn around so that my back’s to him. With a deep breath, I slide my fingers down my ass, searching. I find what I’m looking for, and I arch my back a little, wiggling just enough to be a tease. I can imagine the way his face looks, even if I can’t see him, his eyes half-closed, his tongue licking at his lips. Then I push my fingers inside and I swear I hear him groan. Or maybe it’s me. Fuck, I can’t tell the difference any more.

I wriggle again so my braid twitches across my ass. I’ll admit I’m getting into to putting on a show for him. I’ve stripped for him before, danced for him…but nothing like this. I bend over just a little so he can get a better view as I go deeper.

I hear the covers rustle. Just a little more, my prince, and then I’ll have you begging, just like you always make me. But he’s still silent. C’mon, show me that I can drive you wild…just one word… I slide my fingers almost out of my body and then back in again, a slow rhythm like the one he uses to tease me before he really gets serious.

I can hear him breathing now, harsh and ragged. I have time for one self-satisfied little grin, and then he’s grabbing my wrists, pulling my hands away. Before I have another chance to move, or even think, I’m flat on my back.

He lets go of my hands, but only so he can push my legs apart. He makes a noise that’s as close to a growl as anything else, and then he takes me. Hard. It’s okay, because I’m ready for it. More than ready for it. But…God! He’s so…fucking…strong. So commanding…shit…who was I…kidding?

I’m lost. Totally. Completely. Can’t help it—he overwhelms me. I surrender.

I claw at him, my nails scoring his back. I admit it to myself, finally, that I need it to be this way. Need to be totally his. I can hear my own voice, and I’m the one who’s begging.

“Please…oh, please…”

He gives me what I’m asking for, and more. His teeth graze my skin, a sudden, sharp nip on my shoulder pushing me right over the edge. I yelp and buck and push against him, and he’s whispering my name in my ear, telling me what to do, what he wants to see and hear and feel. I obey.

And then his hands clench, holding me still, and I can feel him filling me. I let go, and it seems like a long time before I can breath again. When I open my eyes, he’s there, watching me, playing with stray pieces of my hair.

As good as that was—and don’t get me wrong, it was wonderful—I guess I’m a little disappointed that my plot didn’t work, and it must show in my face.

“Duo?” Zechs leans up on his elbow, looking down at me, that little line between his eyebrows that always makes me want to kiss his frown away. “Little one, what’s wrong?"

“Nothing.” Shit, that came out sounding like a little kid who got a whole pile of birthday presents, but not the one thing he really wanted. I try again. “Honest.” Okay, that was a little better.

Not enough, apparently. “Somehow, I don’t believe you.” He rubs his thumb across my cheek. “What is it? Was it something that I—”

“No! No. It’s not you, it’s me.” I flop over on my belly and start picking at the covers so I don’t have to look at him.

He lays right next to me, his face at my shoulder, so I can’t avoid him. Should’ve known that wouldn’t work.

“All right. Tell me.”

I might as well give in now. He’s a prince, damn it, and he always gets his way, sooner or later. “Well, it’s just that…” Fuck, I’m blushing. How does he do that? “I wanted to be able to make you crazy in bed. Drive you wild. Like you do me.”

“But…Duo…” He stops and I steal a look at him. He looks floored, like he doesn’t know what to say. “You do.”

Somehow, I knew he was going to say that, and I smile, but I’m still stupidly disappointed. “No, I mean…like…” Shit, why is it so hard to tell him this? “Like…you want me so bad it hurts…like you’re out of control…the way I am…a-and—” I’m just making this worse, so I shut up.

And he’s having none of it. “Duo…I mean it. You do drive me wild.” He combs his fingers through my bangs. “I do lose control with you.” He kisses my shoulder, I guess because it’s the only thing he can really reach without getting a mouthful of hair. “That’s one of the most precious gifts you give me.”


“I don’t know if I can explain this, but…for me, being in control is being out of control. Does that make any sense?”

He’s lost me. “No…sorry…”

He leans on his forearm, settling into a more comfortable position, a half-smile on his face. His eyes are serious, though, and I know this is important to him, so I try really hard to understand.

“My first…instinct, I suppose…is to take charge.”

I know that, and I don’t mean just with me, at home. I think about him, his past with OZ. With White Fang, of his part in the end of the war, something that he never, ever talks about. He can’t help wanting to be in command, it’s who he is. I nod.

I can see from that line between his eyes that he’s thinking the same things I am. “But when I do take charge…” He looks away from me and his voice is quiet and sad. “Things…go wrong.”

Unsaid words hang heavy between us. Words like Libra…Mars…and the word I don’t like to think about—Trieze. My throat aches and I can’t talk, so I just reach for him, but I can’t tell if he even remembers I’m here.

“That’s why I avoided anything to do with power for so long. Why I avoided any relationships at all. Things I touched went…sour.”

“Zechs, no…”

He looks back at me, a look I don’t completely understand in his eyes. “Except with you…you let me...be your prince. You let me command you. And when it was all right—more than all right—with you, I didn’t have to be afraid of that part of myself any more. I could risk getting involved with the world again. Do you understand now?”

“I don’t know, maybe…but…”

“But what?”

“Well, it’s just that…sometimes I can tell that you need to let go. And I wish you would. I wish you’d let me be…I dunno…your pressure valve, I guess.”

“Don’t fret, little one.” He smiles for real, and I can feel it all the way inside, warm, like a campfire in the middle of a cold, dark night. “You are my safety valve. You keep me from exploding at all the things that seem like petty foolishness to me, the stupidity and ignorance and waste of bureaucracy, the idiots making policy…” He sighs and I can feel him tense again. I rub his shoulders, wishing I could do more. I’d hate his job—I’d have to kill people on a regular basis, I’m afraid.

All of a sudden, he grabs me in a hug, tight enough that it takes my breath away. We’re so close, I can feel his heart beating. He cups his hand over the back of my head, presses his cheek against mine, and I can tell there’s something real and raw happening, I’m just not sure what, exactly. But I hold on, just as tight as he’s holding me. And so there we are, for a long time, just hanging on in the dark, and I don’t know why, but something keeps telling me not to let go. Like we’re holding one another up above the water, two castaways trying to keep each other from drowning.

And then Zechs whispers against my ear, so softly I feel his words as much as I hear them. “I need you, little one. Do you understand? I need you…”

I don’t think anyone ever really needed me before. I’ve always just been--convenient. I can’t answer for a long time, except to hold tighter.

He pets my head, nuzzles against me. “Duo? Baby…are you all right?”

I guess he’s not used to my being quiet this long for anything short of unconsciousness. “I…no one ever needed me before. I don’t know what to do…”

I can feel him smile against my hair. “What you’re doing is just right.”

“That’s good, ‘cause I think…I like it.”

Better, even, than driving him crazy. I didn’t know Zechs needed me—fuck, he’s a prince and I’m an ex-terrorist, ex-street rat, a barely former junk trader and professional juvenile delinquent. Who would have thought he’d need me? It makes me feel good inside, though. Warm. Proud, even. Funny how sometimes you get exactly what you wanted even when you didn’t know it’s what you wanted. But I guess life’s like that sometimes.

Thank God.



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