Author: RazorQueen
This is for the Moments in Time series and is set between "After the Fire" and "Twas the Night." It doesn't have its own title yet, but rather than wait for one to appear, I decided to go ahead and post (since it's been a while...)

Anyway, enjoy. :-)

[MOMENTS 1.5]
6x2; Rated NC-17

Moments

Duo stepped off the bus into the thinning sunlight of a November afternoon. He flexed his shoulders as he stood on the curb, his muscles beginning to ache. //Every damn cargo ship in the colonies must have landed today.// Not that he was complaining--even if it was just unloading freight, it was a job, it was honest work, and it was at the spaceport. He got to feel the ground shiver with every launch, breathe ship exhaust all day, sometimes even touch the cool, sweet metal hulls of the ships themselves. It almost made him forget sometimes that he was permanently, irrevocably grounded.

Almost.

He shook himself, as though he could shake off the dull, constant longing that he'd never quite learned to live with. //File that under things I can't do a damn thing about, and forget it.//

On days like today, he nearly managed to take his own advice. The sky was bright, and in his neighborhood, brilliant blue in whole stretches instead of the tiny patches that showed between the high-rises downtown. He'd worked hard, earned a day's pay, and that felt good. Duo rolled his shoulders again as he walked along the sidewalk, trying to stave off the inevitable stiffness until he could get home and have a soak in the tub. //Bath first, then see what's in the fridge, maybe watch some television.// Or maybe go down to the diner for some coffee and try not to think about how much he missed Zechs.

The last few weeks had left Duo a little dazed. Sometimes, he wondered if he'd made it all up in his head, because surely, no one like Zechs Merquise could ever be interested in him. But there was evidence: a dinner receipt for two shoved in his pocket; a shirt far too big for Duo hanging in his closet; long, blond hair on his pillow. He wondered if Zechs would laugh if he knew that Duo had wound that hair into a tiny coil and wrapped it in a square of paper, that he carried it like a talisman. He took it out and looked at it when he needed to convince himself that it was all for real.

Times like now, when Zechs been out of town for a few days and the reality of their togetherness faded into an almost-dream. Zechs still had work to do; his family had investments, and Relena didn't seem interested in those, which left Zechs to handle the business side of things. It took him away more often than Duo liked.

He shoved his hands in his pockets and kept walking. //Okay, once would be more often than I like. But I can't tell him that, can I? He'll think I'm going all clingy on him. None of that. Not this time.//

But every day he was gone made it seem more likely to Duo that his lonely imagination had taken control, that he'd read too much meaning in words and touches and in Zechs' unfailing generosity. //We've got a good thing. The sex is great. He's really nice to me. Why do I think I need more than that? It's easy this way. No strings. Nothing to break if it all changes.//

He rounded the corner onto his street, the weariness from a day of heavy labor beginning to hit him hard. Another half a block, a couple of flights of stairs, and then he could collapse and stop thinking.

He looked longingly toward his building, wishing it weren't quite so far down the street. Then he stopped dead, his heart beating so quickly that it seemed to throb against the threadbare flannel of his shirt.

A tall, blond man lounged against the wall of Duo's building, every line of his body speaking of power and grace. The sunlight shimmered on his long hair, made his white shirt gleam, and Duo wondered if he'd somehow conjured a vision of his lover from light and air. Then, as if he sensed Duo's presence, he turned his head, stood up straight and smiled, and the illusion dissolved into a very real and human man. Forgetting that he was bone-tired, Duo jogged the last few yards toward him.

Zechs swept him into an embrace and a kiss that left him breathless. For a few seconds after the kiss ended, Duo stood with his arms tight around Zechs' waist, cheek against his shoulder. He closed his eyes, losing himself in how good this felt and not thinking about anything beyond this moment.

Zechs spoke first. Duo could hear the smile in his voice. "Hello there."

"Hey." He tipped his head up to look at Zechs, wincing slightly as his neck protested. He was indeed smiling, and Duo couldn't help the answering grin that spread across his face. "What are you doing here?"

"Waiting to see you."

Duo let himself savor the warmth and solidness--the realness--of Zechs' presence. "Wasn't expecting to see you tonight."

"Am I interrupting your plans?"

Duo stepped back before he got too comfortable in Zechs' arms. "Don't be dumb. I never have any plans but you."

He winced again, though not from sore muscles this time. //Shit. Shouldn't have admitted that.// He flashed Zechs a wink, hoping it would make his words seem more like a joke than a confession.

Zechs' easy, confident smile remained undisturbed, and if he read anything into Duo's words, it didn't show on his face. "Actually, I got back into town this morning. But I knew you'd be working, so I had to find something to occupy my time."

"And what did you do all day, my gentleman of leisure?"

Zechs laughed. "Looked for an apartment. For some reason, I keep coming back to town. It seemed like I should just admit it and put down some roots here."

Duo's stomach flipped over. He wanted desperately to ask "why," but he didn't dare. //No questions. If I don't ask questions, then I don't have to deal with the answers.//

"How'd it go? Find anything?" He couldn't decide if he hoped Zechs understood what he really meant, or if he didn't. //Anything close? Anything where I can see you all the time when you're in town? Where you won't be embarrassed to have me show up and give your name to the doorman?//

"Nice enough places." Zechs shrugged. "But none of them were exactly what I had in mind."

"Oh." Duo tried to sound nonchalant, pleased with how well he carried it off. "I'm sure you'll find something that's right. If all those nice places haven't made you afraid of my humble abode, want to come up?"

"I was hoping you'd ask." Zechs held out his hand. Duo took it, and together, they climbed the stairs to his apartment.

Duo went in first, doing a quick scan to make sure the place wasn't too bad of a wreck. //Too late to do anything about it if it is, though. And it really doesn't seem like he cares when it is a mess.// Still, thank god he'd gathered up his dirty laundry just this morning under the illusion that he might feel like going to the laundromat after work. He opened the faded drapes, and pale sunlight spilled onto the floor. Duo stood in the warmth of it, stretching like a cat as he tried to work out the soreness.

Zechs moved behind him and began to massage his shoulders.

"Mm. Oh, man, that's perfect. You can keep doing that." Duo closed his eyes and sighed happily.

Zechs' fingers deftly worked at the knots in his muscles. "Being here makes me realize what was missing from those other places."

"What? No squeaky floors? No rusty hinges? No avocado refrigerator?"

"No you."

"Right." Duo laughed it off, but his throat tightened with longing. //It's just the way he is. He knows how to say the right things. It doesn't mean anything.// Did he wish that it did? Duo shook his head. No. He wasn't going to wish for more. This was great, the way it was right now.

Zechs turned him around and brushed the back of his hand over Duo's cheek. "You look tired."

"Busy day at the dock, that's all." Duo flexed his shoulders and smiled. "Thanks. That feels a lot better."

"There's plenty more where that came from." Zechs kissed him. "Go sit down. I'll get you something."

Duo obeyed, dropping bonelessly to the worn couch. He bent down and pulled off his work boots, leaned back into the cushions with a sigh. The refrigerator door creaked open and closed--//Gotta remember to oil that//-- and Zechs sat down beside him, pressed a cold can into his hand. Duo popped the top and drank gratefully. It was nice to have someone to rub his shoulders and get him a drink after working all day. It was really nice. But he wasn't going to get used to it.

"So..." Duo took a deep swallow from the can. "What else is new?"

"I had a call from Relena."

Duo stiffened, all the warm glow of Zechs' presence vanishing. "Did you?"

Zechs gave Duo a sidelong look. Relena's name always raised Duo's hackles, though they had never actually discussed why. Duo was sure Zechs knew, though. Hell, everyone knew. Heero was still News, unlike Duo Maxwell, who was just a forgotten footnote from an ugly blip in history--and in the life of the Queen's fiancé.

Zechs answered, finally, his voice neutral. "She would like me to become more involved in her government."

"What does that mean?"

"I told her I was uninterested in being any sort of minister in her Cabinet."

"Oh." Duo sat up, stiff and awkward, the can clutched in his hand. //That's good, right? So why doesn't it feel good?// "You won't be moving back to Sanc, then?"

"No."

Zechs reached for Duo's hand and gave it a squeeze. Duo supposed that was meant to be reassuring, but all he knew was the cold ache that centered in his belly. //That's not all of it. I know it isn't. Here we go again.// He held his breath, waiting for the words he knew he would hear.

"But I'll admit that I'm intrigued by the idea of taking ad hoc diplomatic missions--which was her next offer."

"Diplomatic missions where?"

"To the colonies, mostly."

"Oh."

Zechs looked at him sharply. "What?"

"Nothing."

"I see." Zechs' eyes shuttered, the light in them snuffed.

Neither said anything more, and tension grew in the silence. Zechs started to draw back his hand, but Duo gripped it. //Can't let on that this matters.// He bit his lip. //Ah, Christ. Why does it matter so much? I don't want it to. He's just a guy. Just another guy. Nicer than most, and a lot more gorgeous. But that's all.//

Duo swallowed and tried again. "Will you be gone a lot?"

"I don't know yet."

"Okay." It was all he'd allow himself to say, because the minute he let more than one word out of his mouth, he was going to sound needy, weak. Pathetic.

"You don't sound as though you are."

Duo shrugged.

"What is it?" Duo shook his head, not trusting his voice. Zechs saw through him and lifted his chin. "Duo, tell me. What's wrong?"

"It's nothing. I'm just tired."

"You're a poor liar, you know."

"I'm not lying. I /am/ tired." //Tired of wishing, and getting my hopes up, and I'm really, really tired of falling for the wrong guy. What is it with me, anyway?//

Zechs caressed Duo's cheek, rubbed his thumb over Duo's lower lip. He tilted his head a little, as though he were noting every response Duo might make, no matter how small. His voice was quiet but that of a man used to command when he repeated, "Tell me."

Helpless under that touch, before those blue eyes that saw so deeply into him, Duo blurted, "I don't want you to go."

Zechs draped his arm around Duo's shoulders. Duo closed his eyes, giving himself up to the warmth and safety and strength of that embrace. //Even if it's just for a minute.//

Zechs' voice changed. It was still deep and velvet, but cajoling, trying to coax from Duo the reassurance he could not order him to feel. "Little one. I'm not 'going.' They're business trips like any other business trip, nothing more. They just happen to be off planet."

"Right. For now."

"What do you mean?"

Duo swallowed, his own longing for outer space so sharp and sudden that he felt skewered by it. But there was something else hidden in that quick, stabbing pain, a fear that he didn't want to examine too closely. It was that fear that dragged his next words out of him.

"You'll go back. You'll remember what it feels like, being out there again." Duo shook his head. "Don't you see? She's pulling you back in. Away from me." Duo tried to get up, but Zechs caught his arm and pulled him back.

"You mean like Heero." Zechs' voice went flat, as though he, too, were suppressing an unwanted feeling.

"I didn't say that."

"But you were thinking it, weren't you?"

"What if I was?"

"Damn it, Duo, I am not Heero." Zechs caught Duo's chin and turned his face toward him. "And she isn't going to take me away from you. She can't."

"Right." Duo took refuge behind a wall of sharpness and skepticism, though he felt the tiniest stirring of hope. //Heero never even said that much. Maybe...no. No.// "How far have you gotten with getting her to lift the orders that grounded me?"

"Trust me. I will."

"I trust that you'll give it your best shot."

"Why are you fighting me so hard?"

"Old habits are tough to break, I guess."

Zechs pulled Duo to him. "Words never work with you. I ought to know that by now." He kissed Duo, much harder this time and with what felt like desperation. "Let me show you why she can't come between us."

Zechs' kiss was hard and possessive, and his fingers gripped Duo's shoulders with a strength that stopped just short of violence. He edged Duo backward toward the couch, forceful without forcing. Duo knew that if he'd resisted in the slightest, Zechs would have stopped, would have let him go. He also knew in the core of his soul that he didn't want to resist--and that made him afraid.

Zechs' long fingers worked at the buttons of Duo's jeans, opening them, pushing them down to his thighs. Duo tipped his head back, swallowing hard in anticipation. A sudden vision flashed in his mind, a memory of file photos, Zechs in his red OZ uniform, hands slender and elegant in white gloves. //Who would have thought his hands are so strong?// Then an intimate brush of those fingers jolted him back to the present and left him gasping for more.

Gripping Duo's wrists, Zechs pulled him closer until Duo's rigid sex pushed against his abdomen. He released one wrist, and Duo felt his skin tingle from the powerful grip. With his free hand, Zechs lifted the hem of Duo's shirt and kissed him, nuzzling and nipping at his bare skin. Then he lifted the hand he still held to his own mouth and sucked Duo's fingers.

Duo whimpered and squirmed, the fingers of his neglected hand digging into Zechs' shoulders, but when Zechs took the fingers he'd been sucking and guided them to Duo's ass, his knees gave way. Zechs caught him easily. He sat on the couch and drew Duo down to his lap, spreading his own legs so that Duo balanced precariously between them. Duo felt as though he were falling, and he made a wordless protest, but Zechs hushed him and guided his wet fingers to his entrance. Still holding Duo's hand, Zechs made him touch himself there, pushed his fingers deep inside, then pulled them, then pushed again, using Duo's own hand as he would a toy.

Dazed, Duo submitted. Zechs whispered instructions, and Duo obeyed, craving the murmurs of approval as he performed at his prince's orders. He felt his sense of self slipping away...what was he? Was he giving or receiving? Both...neither...because no matter what he did to make himself moan and writhe, it was always at Zechs' command.

Duo found it hard to breathe. He let Zechs use him, clutched him with his free hand as though that could keep him from drowning in the whirlpool of sensations that swirled around him. There was the purely physical, the aching bliss of being stretched and filled, and the growing need for more. But it didn't stop there, didn't end with his body's demands. His spirit hungered for Zechs' domination.

His fingers tightened on Zechs' lapel. //Not enough...it's not enough...// A sob of frustration swelled his throat, choking him.

Zechs smiled a little, as though he sensed Duo's longing. "Tell me what you need."

"...you..." //Please...please, take me, use me, make me yours...I don't know who I am unless I'm yours...//

Zechs pulled Duo's hand away from his body, and the strange feeling of being both inside and outside himself faded. Then he had his hands on Duo's waist. He lifted him, drew him closer. Duo's breath hitched, he tensed, though he knew better and struggled not to. But he couldn't relax, even though he tried, even though he knew trying only made it impossible, and when Zechs pulled him down, took him with one hard plunge, he had to muffle his scream against his broad shoulder. //It hurts!// Christ, it hurt, and for an endless, raw second, he almost forgot that he liked it when it hurt.

He felt Zechs' hand cupping the back of his head, his other hand rubbing the small of his back. The pain changed into something else, something powerful and compelling, and it possessed him. Duo's resistance evaporated.

He braced his knees on the couch and lifted himself, then dropped back again, driving Zechs deep inside him. //Yes...that's it...that's what I need...// He pushed himself up again, and this time when Zechs pulled him down, his cry was one of utter pleasure. He lost himself in their rhythm, unable to think of anything beyond how Zechs owned him, completed him. He fought the part of himself that needed to surrender, but it didn't matter. His body recognized what his mind refused, and it dragged him toward a climax that left him weak.

It took little for Zechs to follow him. When Duo saw his eyes go blind, he wrapped his arms around Zechs' neck and the two of them held each other, both silent and trembling.

Duo felt shaken. When Zechs made love to him, it pushed him too close, pressed too hard against his defenses. That wasn't what he wanted. He didn't want to be at Zechs' mercy. He didn't want to belong to anyone. He didn't want to /need/ anybody.

Zechs released him, cupped his hands over Duo's cheeks. He leaned in and kissed Duo, gently, his tongue gliding over Duo's lips. Duo's hands fisted in Zechs' hair. He struggled to regain his balance, but the world still rocked around him, and Zechs was his only anchor.

The kiss ended, and Zechs pulled away a little. He stroked Duo's hair, and Duo saw him swallow, as though he were nervous about something, or uncertain.

//Right. As if.//

Zechs' voice was still low and throaty when he spoke. "Surely you can you trust that."

"I wish I could. Zechs, I do." //But I can't.// The words hung between them, unspoken but as loud as if Duo had shouted them.

Zechs nodded, but sadness tinged his smile. Duo winced and turned his head. //Don't look at me like that, like you want more from me.// It would be so easy to believe--he wanted to believe--that Zechs wished for more than this, more than laughs and occasional companionship and sex. Duo didn't dare ask for that much. It was a risk he wasn't prepared to take. //But if I don't make some kind of a move here, he's going to think I don't care at all. //And I don't want that, either.//

"You know...it doesn't make a lot of sense for you to have your own place if you're going to be traveling."

"No, I suppose it doesn't." Zechs sighed, and Duo realized that he thought he was saying he didn't want Zechs to stay in town.

Duo got up, moving a bit more carefully than usual, pulled up his jeans, and padded across the floor to the kitchen. He opened a drawer and rummaged in it until he found what he was looking for. His fingers closed around the bit of brass, so ordinary and innocent looking, but fraught with hidden meanings. //Heero's key.// No, not Heero's now, he reminded himself. //It's just the spare key. And I can do whatever the hell I want with it.// He closed his eyes and clutched it until it bit into his hand. //And what I want is to give it to Zechs.// He took a deep breath, opened his eyes again, and went back to the living room.

Zechs had already fastened his jeans and stood looking out the window at the autumn sunset. Duo had to smile. //Damn it, he doesn't even have a hair out of place. How does he do that?//

Zechs turned and caught Duo smiling. He seemed puzzled, but a little of the sadness vanished from his eyes. "What is it?"

Duo reached for Zechs' hand and pressed the key into his palm. "Here. This is...well, you might as well stay here when you're around. If you want."

Zechs folded his fingers around the key, watching Duo intently. "You don't have to do this just to make sure I'll come back to you."

"I'm not. Keys don't mean anything." //Because you can't lock someone in when they want to leave.// "I just thought it might be...nice."

"It would be very nice." Zechs carefully slipped the key into his pocket. "Thank you."

He brushed Duo's damp hair off his forehead, searched his face as though looking for something. It took more effort than Duo expected to keep his longing out of his expression.

"All I'm saying is that I want you to stay with me when you're here. When you can. I'm not asking for anything else."

"I understand." Zechs' fingers tightened in Duo's hair. "But you /could/ ask."

"No, I can't." //Because as much as I want to tell myself otherwise, you're not--can't be--"just another guy."//

"Not now, then. But later...perhaps--"

Duo looked at the floor and shrugged. "Maybe."

"I'll wait for that moment, then. When you know what you want and you're not afraid to ask me for it."

Duo laid his head on Zechs' shoulder. //Oh, I know what I want. That's a no-brainer. Not being scared to ask for it...that's something else again.// "I want you to stay tonight. How's that?"

"For a beginning, it's not bad."

Duo raised his head, grinning slightly. He reached for the can that sat half-empty and abandoned on the end table. It had lost its coolness, but Duo lifted it anyway. "To beginnings, then."

"To beginnings. And to middles, and most especially, to happy endings." Zechs smiled and something that looked like hope ignited in his eyes.

Duo's smile widened. "Not greedy, are we?"

"When it comes to you, you'll find I'm insatiable."

"Now that's a quality I can admire in a man." Duo set the can aside again. He let Zechs hold him again, and under those surprisingly strong, ridiculously gentle hands, an answering glimmer of hope sparked and burst into warm flames.

~~THE END~~

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