+ Chapter 6
Duo lay next to Zechs, trying
to stop shaking. Warmth radiated like a promise of safety from the long,
powerful body ranged against him, and he basked in it until the tremors
stopped. This...thing...with Zechs... it's different...Grant made me
promises. Money. Power. But he never protected me. From anything--or anyone.
Not that he thought Zechs could, not really. But it was nice to pretend,
if only for a minute or two.
[ch. 5] [ch.
7] [back to RazorQueens' fic]
He'd grown used to the feel of someone beside him in bed, had just started
to get used to not feeling it again. He hesitated, then splayed his hand
on Zechs' chest, half expecting to be shrugged off. When he wasn't, he
wriggled just a little closer and nuzzled against Zechs' arm. Under the
slight tang of sweat, he smelled like sage and citrus, spicy and completely
male. Duo closed his eyes. Don't let yourself get used to this. It
won't last. It never does. He sighed, weary.
Zechs smoothed Duo's damp hair out of his face, so intimate a gesture
that Duo winced.
He needed to distract himself from the lure of that touch, so he started
to talk. "It was a...party. You know what kind. Grant liked to...I don't
know, show me off, I guess. Liked to show off all the things he could
do to me. He was pretty hard on me that night, pushed me really close
to my limits, and I thought I was going to have to safeword. But I didn't.
I held on because I knew I'd disappoint him if I cracked in front of all
those people. That was the worst thing, that everyone was watching..."
"You didn't like that?"
Duo had a feeling that his answer mattered to Zechs, and he took his time
before he spoke again. "It wasn't being in front of people that bugged
me, not exactly. I didn't mind anyone just looking. And I...I liked what
Grant did when we were alone. There was always this give and take. He'd
know what I needed and do it to me, and I could tell when he needed me
to fight him back or to give in. That was part of the rush, being able
to give him what he needed. You know?"
Zechs nodded. Duo thought back a half hour to what Zechs had done to him,
and he felt himself blush. Oh, yeah. You know all about giving someone
what they need. God almighty, do you. He teetered on the edge of getting
lost in those blue eyes again, and he looked away and started to talk
"When it was in front of an audience, though, he changed. It was like
he had to prove himself to them. It made him look good to show them how
well trained I was, how I'd take anything he ordered. It was all about
him...and them. And they scared me, because all they wanted from me was
my pain. They didn't care whether or not I submitted to him. They didn't
really care about control. They just wanted me to hurt. And Grant wanted
so bad to give them what they wanted that I was never sure how far he'd
Zechs stroked Duo's head, but said nothing. If he was impatient for Duo
to get to the point of his story, nothing in his voice or body showed
it. Still, Duo had the sense that he listened intently, and that his mind
moved the pieces of Grant's murder around like a puzzle, fitting in every
new bit of knowledge as he tried to find a shape that made sense.
Duo let himself lean into the petting before he went on. "That night,
they wanted blood. I could tell...could smell it, almost, from the minute
we walked in. Grant knew, too, and I felt the change right away. He was
never cruel when it was only us, just...strong. But..."
He stared across Zechs, looking blindly at the window and the glittering
lights of the city, afraid to close his eyes and see it all again in his
mind. He swallowed and held his body tight against the memory, fighting
the nausea that came with fear and humiliation.
He didn't answer, but he didn't turn away, either. Instead, he laid his
cheek on Zechs' chest, just below his shoulder. His arm draped over Zechs'
torso in a half-embrace. Zechs covered Duo's hand with his own, and Duo
felt an unfamiliar flutter in his belly. He tried to ignore it and went
on with his story.
"That night...we came back to the office, and Grant said he wanted to
show me something. I wasn't in a-a very good mood, so I was kind of like
‘yeah, yeah,' figuring it was some new toy or something. But then he put
this videotape in to play." Another wave of sourness rose up in his throat,
almost choking him. He willed it down.
"What was it?"
"Do you remember that kidnapping and murder a couple of years ago--some
senator's staffer. The one where the ransom tape was on the news."
"Yes, what was her name...Karen...no, Carol. Carol Schuster. Senator Gregory's
office," Zechs recalled, frowning as he dredged up the memory. "The senator
and the girl's father tried to pay the ransom, but no one made the pick
up. Her body was found a couple of weeks later. Never any suspects--cold
case now, I imagine."
"Oh, no." Duo's fingers twitched under Zechs' hand, and Zechs closed his
grip around them, stilling their nervous drumming. "It's not cold. It's
"What?" Zechs blinked, trying to follow the connections in Duo's rambling
story. He shifted, leaned up on his elbow so he could see Duo's face.
"I'm not following."
"The tape Grant had...well, let's just say that what they showed on the
news was only a little clip of what's on there. At first...at first, I
thought it was someone's home movie...you know, some people like to watch
"Then I got that it wasn't. She didn't...it wasn't consensual. I don't
know how, but I knew it pretty quick. It doesn't sound much different
at first from someone who's getting into it, but--well, after a while,
it was pretty obvious. To me, anyway. And I kept thinking I recognized
her. Then it got to the part I knew I'd seen before. On the news."
"It was Carol Schuster."
Duo nodded. "And he was there. Dermail. Right there. Calling the shots."
Duo flicked Zechs a chill look. "You think I wouldn't recognize him? Or
that voice? Guess again."
"How much of it is on the tape?"
Zechs' mind reeled through the possibilities. Dermail on tape, with a
girl who turned up dead. Not ironclad for a murder conviction, not by
a long shot. Still, it could still pin some very nasty felonies on him.
He had a quick fantasy of Dermail doing hard time, and he felt viciously
cheerful by the vision. It was almost enough to make him forget about
the warm, naked pressure of Duo against his side. Almost. He drifted his
fingers across Duo's bare hip. The touch earned him a quick, startled
glance and a sudden parting of lips that made him want to taste Duo's
mouth again. He dragged his attention back to the case and to Duo's revelation.
"I mean the murder. She was strangled to death--eventually. Is that on
Duo shook his head. "There wasn't supposed to be any tape at all. Dermail
didn't know. There wasn't supposed to be any ransom. I don't think they
even meant to kill her, not in the beginning. It was a threat to Gregory,
to get him in their pocket. I guess one of the others got the idea that
they could bag a couple million on the deal, too. Dermail got rid of him
after the tape got all that airplay--and then her, too, when the whole
thing got too hot. He doesn't like...loose ends."
"How do you know?"
"About Dermail?" Duo's eyes shuttered, closed off.
Zechs raised his hand to Duo's cheek. "I meant about Carol Schuster. Her
Duo blinked, and some of the cold wariness melted. "Grant told me. I don't
know how he found out, but I'm pretty sure he was right." He scrubbed
at his eyes with the heels of his hands. "God. I don't want to know this.
I don't want to know any of it."
"Duo, listen to me." Zechs sat up and caught Duo's hands in his own. "They
aren't going to come after you because of what Grant told you. He was
probably right. But you're no threat to them. It's hearsay, not evidence."
Duo shook his head. "You don't know these guys if you believe that."
Zechs' mind flashed on a cold, damp morning and an alley that smelled
like blood. "I know them." He came back to the present with an effort.
"I also know the law. You don't have anything on them, not as far as the
law is concerned."
"Yeah," Duo conceded. "But the tape..."
"The tape is more of a problem for them. Do they know Grant had it?"
"I'm pretty sure they do. After all, Grant's dead."
"How did they find out?"
"I think...from the things he said to me that night...I think he told
them. Tried to use it ‘for leverage,' he said. I guess he wanted something
from them. Money. More power. I don't know, he didn't tell me that."
"Christ. Was he stupid?"
"When it came to some things, yeah. Yeah, he was."
"But if they have the tape--"
Duo's glance slid aside, and his chin jutted stubbornly. "They don't."
"He gave it to me."
Zechs swore again. "Are you stupid?" He sat back and ran his hands
through his hair, sweeping it back out of his face.
"Look, I didn't know he was going to get killed. He told me to take it,
put it someplace safe--just for a few days. He said I wouldn't have to
hold it longer than that--"
"You believed him?"
"Yeah...one thing about Grant, he never lied to me. So I did what he told
me. And then the next morning, I came to work and..."
Duo faltered, and Zechs reached out, touched his arm. "Where is it now?"
For the first time, Duo hesitated deliberately, obviously weighing whether
to reveal anything or not. Zechs pulled back his hand.
"I can't help you if you don't trust me."
"Trust?" The cornered-animal panic came back into Duo's face. "I've never
trusted a cop."
"Then why'd you get in bed with one?" The question was out before Zechs
could stop it.
Duo turned his head, his braid twitching and snaking along his spine.
"You know what that was about, and it didn't have a goddamn thing to do
"You're wrong. It has everything to do with trust."
"It had everything to do with getting off. That's it. That's all it was."
But Duo sounded desperate, as though he tried to convince himself as much
Zechs looked at Duo, wondering if he'd seen things in the young man that
weren't there. Was there really no substance underneath the exquisite
need to be dominated? It seemed impossible, that he'd misread the emotions,
the intelligence in his pretty face. Maybe once again, he'd created an
image that existed only in his mind. This time, he'd thought...but he'd
been wrong before. Maybe he was wrong again. He got out of bed and reached
for his pants, turning his back on Duo.
"Hey--wait. Where are you going?"
"What's the matter?" Zechs asked bitterly. "You got off, what are you
Duo made a noise, a tiny, wounded sound that made Zechs turn. He crouched
in the middle of the bed, arms wrapped tightly around himself, his mouth
twisted with hurt. Zechs thought he had never seen Duo look so young.
All the bravado of the street punk, the confidence of the business executive
had vanished. It left him more naked than when he'd stripped off his clothes.
"Don't." A plea crept into Duo's voice, and Zechs could see in his eyes
that he hated himself for it.
"Don't go. Don't be like the others. Don't be like Grant."
"What makes you think I'm like him?"
"Your voice just then. Your eyes. They were so cold..."
He sounded hopeless, and it tore at Zechs. He clenched his hands, unable
to leave after all. "Duo--who are you? What do you want from me?"
Duo looked up, his eyes wide and absurdly innocent. "I thought you knew."
Zechs leaned closer. He couldn't help it, even though every bit of logic
he possessed warned him not to. He kissed Duo. It was sweet and trembling,
in a way he hadn't expected. From the startled look in Duo's eyes, he
hadn't expected it either.
Zechs drew him back down to the bed, unwound his arms from their protective
clutch over his heart. Duo gave a little, let Zechs lay him back against
the pillows, but he struggled back up to his elbows before the next kiss.
"What is it?"
"How can you know I didn't kill him? How can you just take my word for
it that it wasn't me?"
Zechs looked into Duo's blue-violet eyes. He'd studied the faces of too
many killers not to know when he saw one--and when he didn't. "It isn't
"You really mean that, don't you? You believe me."
"I wouldn't be here if I didn't."
Duo didn't even try to fight. He couldn't. Zechs' body pressed down on
him, but it wasn't the weight that kept Duo from getting up and running.
It was the caress of his hair on Duo's shoulders and chest, how it brushed
over his throat, teased his nipples until they ached for a more solid
touch. It was the way Zechs looked at him. The way Duo knew Zechs saw
him. It was Zechs' hands on his belly, his thighs. His mouth--
Duo heard himself moan. He hurt, but somewhere in the depth of that hurt
lay something else. Another need, another emptiness that he'd never expected
to be filled. It made him reach for Zechs, grab at those powerful shoulders,
try to pull him down.
Zechs cupped his hand around Duo's cheek. "Slowly. We're going to do this
"Nn..." Duo wriggled under Zechs, but it wasn't enough. "Need it now."
Zechs' chuckle throbbed against the skin of Duo's throat. His tongue drew
a languid line over Duo's jaw and chin, teased over his lips. He skimmed
his hands along Duo's sides, held Duo's hips down as his mouth kept up
its deliberate torment. Duo bucked in a moment of frustrated petulance,
but it only seemed to amuse Zechs. He kissed an unhurried line down Duo's
breastbone, stopping to lap thoroughly at each nipple. His teeth closed
slowly on each in turn, an inexorable, inescapable, delicious torture.
Duo's body ached for more. He begged, swore, threatened, and still Zechs
took his time until his mind drained of even the possibility of thought--or
fear. He knew only hunger, wild and furious, and he fought to have it
sated. Zechs held him down, forced him to take the languorous pleasures
of his hands and tongue. Words, too, tender and possessive, breathed against
his hair, his skin.
Duo gave in. He lay still, trembling, legs spread. Zechs smiled down at
him, and Duo felt a rush of warmth in his belly. He looks like an angel.
No. Like a god. Too strong to be an angel. He doesn't play by anyone's
rules. He makes his own rules. He reached up and drew his fingers
over the perfect line of Zechs' jaw.
Zechs gave him what he wanted. Duo closed his eyes, hands gripping Zechs'
arms. Gasping, he took Zechs inside him, wrapped his legs around his waist,
and when they began to move together, he whispered, "Master..."
"Open your eyes." Zechs made Duo take all of him, and Duo's world dipped
and spun. "Look at me when you say that."
Duo opened his eyes. Zechs leaned over him, braced on the bed. Duo could
see the need in him, too, the hunger to take as strong as Duo's need to
be taken. It burned blue-hot in his eyes, glowing with barely controlled
violence. Duo touched Zechs again, and he felt Zechs' shiver of pleasure
as if it were his own.
He looked into Zechs' eyes and spoke again, his voice soft but certain.
Zechs' mouth crushed on his. He tasted blood, but it only made him wilder
for the man who filled him. Their coupling turned frenzied, and they dragged
each other, clawing and snarling, toward the edge of pleasure.
Duo dug his short nails into Zechs' flesh. His voice turned ragged as
he begged for permission to let go. "Need to..."
Zechs pushed him that much farther, as though he knew by instinct where
the absolute line of Duo's control lay. He held him there until Duo felt
tears burn in his eyes. "Can't take more--"
"Come for me. Now."
Duo's body arched and jerked with his orgasm. Not mine...yours. Everything
I am is yours. Even this. For a brilliant, blind moment, he lost himself.
But even as the pleasure ripped through him, he clung to Zechs.
"Now you. I want to feel you."
Zechs thrust into him again, harder. Duo moved with him, the aftershocks
of his own climax blending with Zechs' cresting need. He saw Zechs' eyes
go blind in the instant before his body tensed, felt his shudder and a
vague, warm rush inside him.
Zechs collapsed on him, gasping. Confident that he wouldn't be pushed
away, at least, Duo wrapped his arms around Zechs' neck, threaded his
fingers through platinum hair. Zechs smiled lazily and kissed him, then
rolled them both their sides.
Duo gripped at Zechs' arm as he shifted. "Stay?"
Zechs toyed with Duo's damp hair. He ran a fingertip over the tip of Duo's
nose, traced the outline of his mouth. "Yes."
Duo sighed in relief, but he fought the quiet onslaught of sleep, afraid
he would wake alone.
Zechs held him. His strength had a steadiness to it, rock solid. "Trust
Duo nuzzled blindly. "Guess I have to."
Zechs' arms tightened around him, and once again he felt safe, protected.
"That's enough, then. For now."