Author: tokageMusume

When Zechs Met Duo + Chapter Four
The Brave, The Fair and A Thousand Deaths

Dinner in the conservatory was pretty cool, Duo had to admit. It had sounded like one those precious things that only the overly-inbred would get excited about but it turned out to be something anyone would like.

A trestle table had been set up in the middle of the big hothouse attached to the family wing. It looked like just another of the long tables that filled the rest of the glass-walled greenhouse. All around, ranks on ranks of spring flowers were laid out awaiting their big debut in the gardens the following day. The air smelled great, like a breeze pouring down off an alpine meadow and Duo found himself filled with a sort of irrational happiness just sitting there looking around. As evening fell, about a hundred candles twinkled everywhere; between the flower flats, up in the windows, peeking out of stacked flower pots. Dinner was the usual solid Sanq dinner standards presented in yet another charming and original way. The theme this time was, of course, flower pots. Relena had a good household; she was an inventive hostess and the whole week had been a series of really nice surprises much like this one.

Still, the pilot could feel himself losing his taste for it all.

He was even missing synthetics a bit. Not for the flavour, yuck! but just for the relief of their simplicity. Well, for one thing, eating with the upper crust was such an event on Earth! Getting dressed specially for the meal, gathering around the table, passing all the dishes, listening to everyone's remarks about the dishes, talking, talking, talking... well, it was obviously about a lot more than just eating something to stay alive. Duo wasn't sure he would be up to the ritual too many more times. These days it chafed at something in him to be constantly in company this way. On the face of it, what could possibly annoy someone about an evening like this? People he knew and liked in interesting and beautiful surroundings and nobody was shooting at them. He sighed. He thought he must have a broken gear inside somewhere. He was finding it harder and harder since the end of the war to be interested in nattering sociably about nothing.

The only thing that was getting more interesting all the time was sitting right next to him, calmly eating, smiling and chatting with everyone.

All through dinner, Duo had found himself helplessly watching Zechs. And not like you watch when a friend is talking or when you're wondering where someone got their hair cut. No, he was studying Zechs like there was going to be a quiz later.

He watched the somehow meaningful arc of the wineglass traveling to the prince's mouth; watched the red wine meet his lips; waited with a subtle anxiety for the delicately convulsive movement of his throat when the latest sip was finally taken. He watched Zechs smile and chat with people all the while touching the collar of his shirt, fingering the cloth, feeling it... why was he doing that? Did he realize he was doing it? Of course not. How could he know that watching those fingers explore/feel/touch/caress the simple linen collar was making Duo's stomach tighten with something next door to pain? He could always watch the other long, slender hand laying on the tablecloth next to Zechs' plate instead. His square tipped fingers looked strong, capable. There was a dusting of pale hairs on his knuckles; now and then the candlelight would flare on them as he tapped, tapped, tapped his index finger. This feeling of being twisted up inside; this was new, Duo decided. He couldn't say yet if it was a feeling he liked or not. It certainly was intense.

Zechs' voice was working some new sort of damage on him this night as well. It was deep, rich and dark as always, sure. But when the prince used it quietly, like this, all but murmuring ... hell, all but purring! Duo kept getting tangled up in the sound rather than the sense. What had Zechs been talking about anyway?

And then, finally, there was the glancing. As a polite person will do, Zechs turned and glanced at Duo regularly, graciously bringing him into whatever small conversation he was having. The touch of those chilly, perfect blue eyes felt hot tonight. Like Zechs was deliberately dragging the blood up to the surface of Duo's skin with his eyes. Duo realized then that he wasn't adding much to the general conversation. Nod at the glance; smile. He figured it would probably help if he actually ate the food, too. Eating was good. You could smile and nod and no one expected you to say much if you were eating. So he ate. When he remembered.

Otherwise, he just watched Zechs and felt himself get wound tighter and tighter with the watching. When the long-fingered hand that fiddled incessantly with his collar finally dropped beneath the level of the tablecloth and briefly patted Duo's knee, Duo almost choked on the whatever-it-was he was chewing. Just a short, friendly pat on the knee. He felt his heart speeding up and his chest tightening along with everything else and then the final indignity; he got hard. Really hard. How could there even BE blood for that when all of it was in his face?

He addressed his dinner plate seriously after that and eventually wrestled his nervous system closer to a resting state. Dinner was winding down; chat was lazy; there were liqueurs; admiration of the flowers. Chairs scraped on the flagstones and some general wandering through the hothouse commenced. Duo took advantage of the moment to quietly slip away behind the great tree that grew up through the center of the greenhouse. He ran a still shaky hand across the tops of some scarlet daisylike flowers, thinking about his body's embarrassing clamour at the table.

A small, polite cough requested his attention.

"Quatre! Hey..."

"Duo, I need to talk to you for a minute... " The small blond looked serious, but a little flustered as well. His cheeks were pink, he was a bit out of breath. He quickly led Duo even further away from the dining area.

"About something from this..." He placed a single palm against his breast. Ah, yes, the famous Space Heart. Duo nodded. "There's no best way to say some things so I'm just going to say them." The slender blond looked so serious! Duo began to feel a little alarmed.

"There's an old servant here at the palace..." Quatre looked grim. "He may look proper and attentive and self-possessed but on the inside, in his heart, he's just one long continuous scream. He regrets! He just... regrets. It's almost all he ever broadcasts, no matter what he's doing. He's bowing, he's making phone calls, he's smiling politely, he's handing you your coat -- through it all, he's just this big raw blast of regret. It's so painful I can't stay in the same room sometimes."

Duo goggled at his friend.

"I know. Why am I telling you? I don't like to talk about what I feel; it's other people's private lives and I'm just a big eavesdropper, I know. But, Duo, " Earnest blue eyes riveted Duo. "Duo, you're right on the edge of becoming another big howl of regret and you're my friend so I'm just going to say this straight out and I don't care if it isn't any of my business!"

Duo found himself leaning back a bit. "Ok..."

Quatre swallowed and charged on. "You and Zechs have been making these .... explosions! ... of feeling all over the place for the last few days! They're really something!" Quatre coloured up interestingly. Duo felt a crooked smile coming on. "I'll tell you something personal so we're even... I've been picking up, a lot, on your ... interest... in each other. Trowa's been pretty happy about it." The blond finished flushing to a cherry red. Duo just grinned. "But what I want to say and I'm not saying it very well is I can FEEL you trying to talk yourself into just leaving and forgetting! Especially after one of those... gods, bonfires!"

Duo's grin felt wooden suddenly. What?

"You keep feeling this big attraction to Zechs, so big it's like a shout or a bright colour or .... or... I can't describe it. Anyway, every time right afterwards, you just shut down! Everything goes all dark and I can feel you closing yourself off and turning away." Quatre had the bit in his teeth now. He put a hand on each of Duo's shoulders. "Don't do it! Don't let yourself turn away! Please. You could be like that poor old man... a big knot of regret and pain!"

He snapped his mouth shut and let go of Duo, looking immediately contrite. "I'm sorry. I know it's none of my business but I don't ever want to not want to be in the same room as you. Understand?"

Duo grabbed his nervous friend and gave him a short, tight hug. "Knock it off. You can say whatever you want to me. You know that. I don't care if you are all nosy and a big buttinski." He laughed, poking Quatre in the ribs to punctuate his words.

"You're my second friendly adviser today. Yuy said something like that to me this morning. I'm beginning to feel like Scrooge. So, should I expect advice from Trowa sometime tonight?"

Quatre looked relieved at Duo's good humour. He laughed. "Well, if he does ever give you advice, be sure to write it down. So, Heero said something? He's a different man lately, isn't he?"

Duo nodded, leaning against one of the beflowered tables. "Uh huh. He thinks I ought to 'be with Merquise'. He also said that Merquise was in love with me... crazy, huh? I mean..."

Quatre nodded thoughtfully. "He would say it flat out like that..." He looked up at Duo a little guiltily. "When you two are together, I can't always sort out who's feeling what... It's so loud. But, yeah, it's the real deal for somebody...Sorry! I should shut up now!"

"Winner, knock it off. Jeez, I already let you off the hook. Quit looking for ways to suffer, okay?" Duo gave Quatre a look that said clearly he wasn't going to talk about his intentions but at the same time he beamed affection at the infamous Space Heart. He just wasn't ready to talk to anyone, even this sweet, nosy do-gooder.

The blond pinked up a bit again and then laughed. "Okay, okay. But you know how it is. We're closer than family, Duo, and we all want a lot for you. You... deserve it." With that, Quatre squeezed both Duo's hands and hastily retreated.

Duo wasn't all that surprised at the mini-intervention. Quatre liked to think that he hated butting in but he was always doing it anyway. He was their good friend and his empathy made it impossible to stand around and do nothing if he thought one of them was in trouble.

So, Maxwell, are you in trouble?

It felt like it every now and then. When Zechs wasn't around, Duo was sure he could probably walk off the estate and never look back, never question the decision. Probably. He hadn't been in the market for a lover when he arrived; leaving without one wouldn't be a disappointment. Not a big one, anyway. Filing for the Mars hauling contract had even given him a way to put off deciding. He didn't have to be in any kind of hurry to make up his mind. If he got that contract, he'd be swinging by Mars regularly for a lot of years to come. Of course, no telling if Zechs would be as interested in years to come. He was awfully interested right now, though, wasn't he?

Heero's flat voice whispered in his ear about a good match.

But all the thinking aside, whenever Duo would see Zechs in the flesh, things would leap up and rearrange themselves inside his gut. Zechs' physical presence was so... powerful. And, yeah, that was good but maybe it wasn't all good. Maybe it was keeping him from focusing on more important questions... Duo felt his face heating up a bit. Really, important critical questions about...

Questions like... what exactly were those important questions again? All he could come up with at the moment were --

What would that yard of living platinum silk Zechs called his hair feel like on (Duo's) naked skin? What would those long, strong, square-tipped fingers feel like on (Duo's) naked skin? What would all that smooth snow pale skin feel like pressed up against (Duo's) naked skin? Yes. Duo's. Naked. Skin. And what would that raw honey voice sound like murmuring ... things...in his ears? Those were the bigger questions, weren't they? Duo shuddered. He wanted to find out. Yes, he did.

And now, weaving in and around all these interesting questions, he could hear Quatre's mournful warnings about regret and darkness.

"There you are..." A deep, thrilling voice broke into his reverie. Duo's head shot up and his big, startled eyes met and then shied away from Zechs' with guilty haste. Merquise stopped dead in his tracks brought up short by the wild vibe surrounding his almost-not-quite lover.

Smiling, he moved toward Duo slowly trying to puzzle out the meaning of that look. The look that had raked hotly up his body and seemed to be stalled now somewhere around his collar. His smile broadened. "What are you thinking about, back here all by yourself? You look..." He laughed softly."Frankly, you look like you're going to attack me... Are you going to attack me, Duo?"

Duo felt his head nodding, just a bit; felt himself colouring. Dunno. Can't seem to talk. Zechs looked like something magical, appearing so suddenly in the flickering amber candlelight right on the heels of Duo's fevered imaginings. As if there was too much of the man to take in all at once, Duo felt his vision narrowing to a small swatch of detail just below the level of Zechs' face... casual linen shirt laying open a bit over finely shaped and shadowed collarbones... burnished hair loose over his broad shoulders, the pulse in his throat beating, beating... Then he was standing right over Duo, forcing him to look up, finish the trip up to those painfully blue eyes. And then he was bracketing Duo's shoulders with large warm hands, looming closer until Duo's eyes closed out of instinct and then there were warm firm lips on Duo's own.

At that moment, some tether or restraint that had held Duo Maxwell so tightly reined in for so long stopped doing its job. He threw his arms around Zechs' neck and unabashedly pressed himself to the strong body carefully cradling his. He needed to touch, to smell, to taste Zechs. He couldn't hear above the roaring of the blood in his ears. He knew he was losing control; he didn't want to stop this time. All he wanted was to get close to Zechs; as close as flesh and skin could get to other flesh and skin.

Zechs found himself with an armful of superheated pilot. All his own carefully exercised control was being shaken by the passion he felt vibrating through the smaller man. Zechs broke the kiss, took a deep breath and pushed Duo's hair back from his face with rough, broad gestures -- just to be touching him, his hair, his skin. Duo's eyes opened and Zechs saw then how completely his lover had thrown himself off into the wild blue. The stormy eyes Zechs loved were dark and wide and no mistaking the reason at close range.

"Are you sure?" Zechs murmured, rubbing the tightly muscled back beneath his hands, searching the uptilted, elfin face for any sign of reluctance.

Duo nodded. Gulped. Closed his eyes, reopened them. "Of course not." He gave Zechs a wobbly grin. "Take me somewhere private, please?"

+

Zechs' apartments were impressive, of course; snappily happy fire, soft music, mood lighting... Very nice. But, at the moment Duo was trying to deal with the big overgrown couch he was sitting on. More like sitting in; he'd never seen such a huge sofa. He was completely dwarfed by the great pale brocade back and sidewing surrounding him; his feet barely skimmed the floor unless he perched on the edge. Well, screw that. He kicked off his shoes and curled up far into the corner. Better. Much better. Cozy back here. Trying to hide, Maxwell? His inner voices were openly jeering at him tonight. Yeah, so what, he jeered back. So what... so what if his stomach felt like there was a rock in it and he couldn't seem to stop shaking? All he could think was "Shit! Yeah! I'm finally gonna do it!"

He took a deep breath, forced himself to stop wringing at his braid. Threw it over his shoulder for the tenth time. And, of course, since he couldn't see around the great lumbering piece of furniture, he nearly jumped out of his skin when Merquise reappeared with their drinks. Drinks neither of them probably wanted. He suspected Zechs kept finding ways to delay, to give Duo time to reconsider and make his accustomed retreat if he wanted.

Zechs put down glasses of something pale and sparkly on the table. Sat. Shot Duo a shaky smile. Threw his own hair behind his shoulders. At the moment, he looked as wide-eyed as Duo felt and that calmed the pilot down considerably. Imagine Zechs being nervous! Why on earth should a tall, gorgeous creature like this ever be nervous? Suddenly, things seemed a lot plainer. This man was more than just easy on the eyes; he was considerate and smart and funny and ... oh, hell, yes, this was it! Duo felt himself smile confidently and hold out a hand. His turn to reassure.

The prince sighed, took the proffered hand, leaned in to gently kiss Duo's lips. He ran one large hand down the side of Duo's face and around the back of his neck, anchoring and joining them. Duo felt a ready wash of heat scrolling through him and moaned into Zechs' mouth softly. That small noise knocked Zechs right out of slow-careful- deliberate; he pulled Duo up onto his lap with easy strength until they were face to face and breathless.

Duo settled comfortably astraddle, slung his arms around Zechs' neck and leaned back a bit. "Oh, yeah, this is where we left off, isn't it? We were torturing each other in a greenhouse I think.. Remember?" He did one slow roll of his hips, moving closer to that place where their bodies would be pressed together from groin to chest.

Zechs chuckled throatily and wrapping his large hands around Duo's haunches, pulled them together those final few inches. As he felt Zechs' hard flesh press into his own urgently, Duo sighed and fell forward. He thrust his tongue into Zechs mouth deeply and moved his hips in the same slow, luxurious rhythm. Zechs' fingers tightened where they clung. It was his turn to groan.

"I want to see your skin... " Duo breathed into Zechs' mouth, punctuating each word by pulling open a shirt button on the broad chest he leaned against. As the shirt fell open, Duo's hands pushed inside and ran lightly over the skin he'd dreamt about. "Ah! ...you feel good...!"

Zechs couldn't help it. He had to risk... "Duo... Have you ever done... this... before? I need to know..." Zechs could barely control his breathing and Duo would not stop touching, touching, but he did finally look up and answer slyly.

"What? Kissed someone? Yes. Licked someone's nipples? Yes..." and he lowered his head to make action suit words, running his tongue across the blond's chest and teasing with his teeth.

Zechs groaned and pressed a hand to the back of Duo's head to hold him in place. That mouth was exquisitely distracting. "No... I mean... sex.. have you actually had sex before...?"

Duo chuckled. "Before what we're gonna do right now?" He sat up and looked at Zechs more seriously. "No. I haven't. Does it matter a lot to you? I mean, I know how it all works... I just didn't have time to do a lot about it during the war." He smiled crookedly. "I was busy."

He looked serious all over again. "I don't want to disappoint you... I mean, somebody like you, you must've had a lot of lovers... " Duo sat back and studiously did not meet Zechs' eyes. "I haven't got much experience but you have to get it somewhere, sometime? Right? I mean, you can show me..." He raised his eyes finally. Zechs felt his heart hammering at his rib cage. He pulled the young pilot back into his arms and squeezed him.

"God, who could resist you? Disappoint me? Never." He pushed Duo back to look him in the face. "I can't wait until you might be more ready to hear this... I've learned not to wait to say the important things. I have to tell you now... I love you, Duo." He raised a hand. "I know. I know. We just met..." He pulled Duo down, kissed him, nipped at his cheek, his ear. "...it's crazy... I don't care. I'm crazy. Everyone says so. So... there... I love you." He littered more kisses around Duo's face. "You don't have to say anything at all... but I had to tell you how I feel... especially since you..." He grasped the elfin face between his hands. "You cannot disappoint me...I'm honoured you chose me... I have to ask you one other thing..."

Duo covered Zechs' hands with his own and just nodded. He couldn't answer what Zechs had said; hearing it put so plainly had left him without words. Yuy was right! Quatre was right! He felt his excitement swoop from the purely physical into something else he didn't have a name for.

"Do you... mind too much that ... " Zechs closed his eyes, huffed a deep breath, opened his eyes. "...that everyone does say I'm crazy? I know they're happy enough to send me off to Mars where I can only do so much harm and who knows? maybe some good... but I'm not fooled. They don't want me on Earth or in Sanq... If you... become involved with me, you'll get tarred with the same brush..."

Duo's laugh echoed merrily in the big room. He fell back to hugging Zechs. "That's a good one, prince! As if a Gundam boy could have any ...um.... untarred surfaces left!" They both laughed then, wrapped up in each other's arms. Duo murmured into the side of Zechs' neck, quietly, wonderingly, "And after tonight, we are... involved... aren't we? Okay...that's okay with me..."

Zechs looked down into the stormy blue eyes, more tranquil now even when he could plainly see the heat simmering there. As on the first night they met, the strange alchemy of souls in perfect resonance enveloped them, made them calm and sure. In that moment, had they known it, they sealed a compact that would become the stuff of tales; the first Governor of Mars and his shy salvage pilot lover.

Duo sighed finally and pinned his almost-not-quite-any-moment-now lover with a pointed look. "Ok, sugar. Are we done worrying? Coz, I really wanna know what all this sex fuss is about..."

Zechs growled in response and stood, easily taking Duo along, who laughed and wrapped his legs around the taller man's waist.

"Yeah! That's more like it! Show me what I've been missing, ok?"

+

In the dimly lit bedroom, Zechs stood Duo on the bed. His flying hands unfastened, unbuttoned and unzipped every impediment between them; he grinned, made a few final sleight of hand moves and the impediments fell away like magic. Duo stood unselfconsciously naked. "Very smooth. Teach me that, too." He pulled his braid around and tore off the restraining tie, began uncoiling the heavy rope of hair. "The whole nine yards... No holding back..." he murmured.

Zechs shrugged his own clothing off, devoured Duo with his eyes. The smaller man was perfectly proportioned and the sturdiness Zechs had felt beneath his hands before was now obvious. He was strong and wiry, his muscles subtle but definite. His skin was soft and covered with fine, light hair. It was also punctuated by horrific scars in so many places; the tracks of bullets, fire, injury, greater and lesser mayhems. Much like Zechs' own body. Decorated by the long chestnut hair trailing over his shoulders and chest, the ferocious scars and his usual crooked grin, Zechs' love looked like a warrior out of legend. That feral air was no small part of his allure, the prince decided.

Duo reached out to trace a particularly nasty red scar arching across Zechs' ribcage. He looked up into sad blue eyes and smiled softly. "We look like hell, don't we?"

Zechs shook his head. "No. We look like we survived hell. And you look beautiful...You take my breath away. I want to know every inch of your body, every scar. I want to know everything that's happened to you, love."

Duo threw himself back onto the bed, crawled up to lean against the pillow lined headboard. He smiled, feeling his blood begin to heat again as Zechs followed after. Zechs was the beautiful one here! The rangy blond looked at first glance as though he ought to be clumsy, his limbs were so slender and long. But when he moved, his training and athleticism shone through, making him look as sleek and graceful as a great white cat. Duo reached for him greedily with two hands; he wanted... there wasn't any focus for what he wanted. He just wanted. "Okay... I'll tell you all my stories but right now, I need you to kiss me..."

Zechs obeyed. He laid next to the smaller man, pulled him close. The feel of skin on skin... the sweet, champagne flavoured mouth on his, the sensual slide of Duo's hair across his bare forearms... Zechs couldn't have been any happier in that moment.

Duo murmured some soft nothing into their open mouths and threw a leg over Zechs', pressing his most urgent flesh against Zechs' hip. The blond freed a hand to reach down and surround Duo's length, gently feeling out his shape. Duo groaned and gasped, pressed closer. "Oh, careful! I'm pretty desperate here...!" Zechs felt the truth of that; his hand slid easily down and back; Duo was wet already. He squeezed again and Duo shivered, bucked his hips. "Oh... that feels too good ...!"

"Let it feel good... We have all night... Just let go, love..."

Zechs shimmied down the bed and took Duo's rosy erection between his lips in one swift movement. The pilot's head jerked and he curled almost protectively around Zechs, hands twining into the loose platinum hair. He couldn't close his mouth, couldn't stop making all the noises he knew he was making but it was too much ... He couldn't control anything while that hot, tight, wet pressure was dragging at him.

"Zechs...! I can't... I won't be able to... Ohhhhh...!" Duo tried to pull away but Zechs wrapped both his large hands around Duo's hips in answer and took him deep into his throat, encouraging, demanding. Duo felt his orgasm all but claw its way down his spine and out of his body. He fell back, stretched out and gasping as he came helplessly into Zechs' mouth. It was bliss, it was painfully intense. It lasted forever.

When his head stopped spinning, Duo realized Zechs was licking him with slow, broad sweeps of his tongue. All around his soft and now shy sex, the tender skin at the join of leg and groin, up the small ridge of muscle leading to his trembling abdomen... Like a cat with a kitten, he licked every bit of skin within reach while Duo recovered his wits. Duo drug his fingers through Zechs' hair, combing it away from his face, peering down the length of his body, marveling at the expression of pure peace and happiness his lover wore.

"Jeez...whatja do that for? It was wonderful... and now here I am, all noodle-like..." Duo purred while he stroked Zechs' hair and the blond looked up at him. His face shone. "I want to make you feel like that, too... my turn, 'k?"

Zechs laughed softly and rolled over... Duo glanced down. "Ahhhhh... didn't wait for me ...!"

"How'm I supposed to control myself when you're... god!... making those sounds?" Zechs pulled Duo into his arms, cradled him close. They tangled each other up tightly and Zechs all but fell into Duo's mouth, tasting and claiming. Duo thrilled at the musky taste of his own excitement that still flavoured Zechs' lips. It spurred him to break away and bury his face in the pale hair of Zechs groin and put his own tongue to work in turn. He took care to imitate everything Zechs had done to him, touching all the skin he could with broad swipes of his tongue. He was surprised and pleased with himself at how easily it came to him to touch someone this way. He glanced up to see Zechs smiling contentedly down at him. As he worked his way up the muscular abdomen, he came once again to the broad, angry red scar that slashed across nearly three ribs.

He carefully traced the outline of the damage with his tongue and kissed his way up the red wound. "What's this one from?"

Zechs carded lazy fingers through Duo's already madly tangled locks and murmured, "Tallgeese. Engineering trials." He trailed a hand across a jagged silvery scar on Duo's shoulder in turn. "What's this old one?"

Duo sat up, straddled Zechs' lap. "Fighting for a place in the commodities line when I was a kid. This?" Duo leaned over to lick a star shaped scar that looked like a tiny meteorite's caldera beneath Zechs' sternum.

"Plasma burn." He reached up and captured Duo's left nipple between his thumb and forefinger. "And what happened here?" The nipple was almost bifurcated; something had sliced it deeply, cleanly. Duo shivered and his eyes closed as Zechs teased the flesh into standing. "Ohhhh.... bullwhip... those things... !" He shivered again, less delicately and licked his lips.

"My turn.... Who gave you this?" He leaned forward and used his tongue tip to trace a pale, thin bit of tissue that led away from Zechs' left ear up into his hair. While he waited for the answer, he drew his tongue back around the exposed ear and sucked at the pearl- pale lobe. Zechs groaned, found his hands on Duo's hips, clutched. "Riding... accident... when I was a kid..."

Duo leaned back. His lids were heavy now as he searched Zechs' skin for the next target. He dragged a fingertip lightly across a shallow trench on an otherwise perfect bicep, his other hand finding a pale tan nipple to absently pet and tease. "Let me guess this one... hand gun... 9mm?" Zechs squirmed a bit and shook his head. "... .22 calibre... some kid...ahhh... My turn..." He freed a hand, reached up to cup Duo's cheek, ran a thumb enquiringly across the pale line accenting the bridge of his nose. Duo's lazy, sensual smile broadened. "Oz holding cell Number 3421...you'll get to hear the fallout later when I fall asleep... "

Duo's fingers outlined a tight, oval weal just below Zechs' muscular abdomen and just above the tightly curled blond hair of his groin. "This one got kinda close, huh?" Zechs felt himself hardening again as the questing fingers wandered, twirled and tugged at tight curls. "Wing... gave me that one..." His voice had gone dark. He watched with barely slit eyes as Duo watched him slowly tumesce. Licked his lips. "So..." drawled the pilot, fingers circling and feeling, feeling, "... I used to get so hard flying 'scythe I couldn't walk until I came... sometimes I didn't even have to... help out... Ever happen to you, prince? Hmmm? I bet it did..." Zechs could feel Duo's cock twitching and stretching where it was trapped between their thighs. The smaller man's growing erection kept perfect pace with Zechs' own. Zechs caught his breath and pointed at the bedside table. "There's something in that drawer we want..." Duo leaned over, fished around and came back with a large cobalt jar.

"This it?" He threw his hair behind him, unscrewed the lid, sniffed. "Mmmm... spicy..." He ran a finger into the scented salve, scooped out a dollop, rubbed it between his thumb and forefinger. "Slick...slippery..." He gave Zechs a cagey look. "So, where does this go?" He rubbed his hands together, spread the lube evenly and then rubbed it on his own chest, working his nipples into stiff nubs and catching his breath appreciatively and looking into Zechs' eyes steadily. "It is nice...great idea... ohhhh...I had no idea those could feel so ... " He shivered.

Zechs' wrestled himself upright, banging up against the headboard and grabbing Duo; the pilot laughed throatily at the manhandling. He caught at Duo with both hands and pulled them chest to chest. His crossed legs held Duo's splayed legs wide, forced him even closer as he straddled Zechs' lap, their erections laid warmly against each other's bellies.

Zechs massaged Duo's ass, ran his hands up the slender back, tangled his fingers in chestnut silk and growled into his lover's ear. "I wonder if it tastes as good as it feels, hm?" He dipped his head and sucked at Duo's nipples each in turn, making the smaller man pant and squirm and rock against him. One of Duo's hands worked its way between them. Zechs felt himself being fondled and measured roughly. He bit at the nipple he was teasing, pulled his head away to watch Duo's lube slick hand ride up and down his shaft. The sight, sound and feel of the small, calloused hand twisting and twisting reduced him to panting.

"More... okay? ... more..." Duo murmured, scooping out lube and running it over both their cocks now. He pressed them against each other and balancing with one hand on Zechs' shoulder, used his other hand to hold them tightly as he pumped his hips in a slow, maddening rhythm. It was killing the prince by inches; the rhythm teased, it promised and withdrew.

Zechs leaned his head against Duo's and groped for the lube jar. He dipped out a handful and ran his fingers blindly down the cleft of Duo's spread cheeks until he found his goal. He swirled slick wetness up and around soft, sensitive balls and ran his cupped fingers beneath them, gently lifting and squeezing. He smeared the spicy scented salve everywhere and began his own teasing frottage with a single fingertip, pressing and retreating and pressing again against the delicate skin of the shy opening. Duo's hand stopped, his head fell back and he groaned open-mouthed. "Oh...! god... Zechs! ... ah!... yeahhh... oh, man...!"

Zechs sucked hard at the long, bare neck he found beneath his lips, whispered. "It gets better... ah... better... here, love... here..." He slipped a single fingertip into Duo's body, pressed gently, rocked back and forth, back and forth until he felt Duo's sac hitch along with his breath and knew that the caress had captured him. "Has anyone ever touched you here...?"

"No... unhhh...god... no...!"

"Have you ever touched yourself here?"

"N-noooo.....oh!" Zechs set up a gentle, exploratory rhythm and soon they were rocking together in synch.

Zechs pressed a large hand against the flaring curve of Duo's buttocks and forced him down, down onto the invading hand. Duo gasped and sobbed, his eyes flew wide and then closed as his head fell forward. Zechs knew then he'd hit the right spot; he hit that spot again, and again. Duo's hand still squeezed their cocks together tightly but he completely forgot to move as Zechs' relentless fingers sent hot sparks chasing along his nerves. He pulled himself flush to Zechs with his other arm, blindly lifting his head, seeking his lover's mouth. Zechs bent his head and their lips brushed together in a rough, gasping open mouthed kiss for a moment until he plunged his tongue into Duo, matching the rhythm of his hand, the rhythm of their hips, the rhythm of the blood pounding through their hearts.

Zechs felt himself approaching the edge of his endurance. Duo squirming in his arms, the tight heat of his body surrounding and pulling at him... it was all spiraling up faster than he would've chosen. He couldn't stop but he had to be sure to see this time... he had to see the face that was no one's to see but his... "Duo, look at me... look at me... love... " Duo's head pulled back, lips swollen, perspiration making kiss curls of the wispy wolf hair around his flushed and beautiful face, eyes vague with pleasure but focused on Zechs. "...yes... look at me.. I want to watch you come... " Zechs could see even his words were ratcheting up Duo's excitement. He murmured and crooned and licked at Duo's lips and cheek and neck, using his voice like another set of hands to stoke the fires higher. "... feel me in you... just a start... just a taste... when you're ready, that will be my cock ... my cock fucking you.. oh, it's good, it's good, isn't it...?"

Duo groaned and twisted, his own voice broken. "Yes... yesss... oh, yeah...I do I do want you to fuck me... yesss... ohhhh it's ... so...!"

Zechs slowly pitched them forward until Duo lay on his back, Zechs now kneeling between his legs, fingers still pressing and pressing deep. Duo smiled then and put both his hands between them, grasping their too slippery cocks firmly. Zechs groaned, dropped his head and fought the gathering end he could feel demanding its due. "Oh.... god.. yes... I do want you to fuck me...! Zechs! Zechs!" Duo's panting, rasping whisper pulled Zechs' head back up and he watched, open mouthed as the pilot's face stilled, striving and exertion fading into a transcendent expression of achievement. His stormy eyes closed and with a single, deep, rending cry, his release spilled between them. Zechs felt it catch and pull at him from the inside. He had a split-second of wonder that joy and despair could look so similar before his own eyes closed and he surrendered into the already warm, wet cavern of their joined bellies and collapsed.

Duo clutched at Zechs, pulling him into a tight embrace, wrapping as much of himself around the tall blond as possible. Zechs marveled at how Duo could have any strength at all left. For himself, he lay completely poleaxed, cheek pressed to his lover's warm chest and content to stay that way forever. Not being a very introspective man, he didn't bother to wonder why this one relative stranger had snicked into place in his heart like a missing puzzle piece finally found and fitted. All he knew was this was right and proper and now the restless searching of crowds and the hopeful looking into faces in rooms and windows and sidewalks could stop. This was where he belonged. At last. Duo began proprietarily finger-combing the hair away from his brow, kissing him, licking here and there and making small contented noises that sounded vaguely subterranean to Zechs' ear. He felt himself drifting and drowsing.

Duo was too wired to be tired even though his body felt like he'd run a marathon. His elation was in direct proportion to his earlier misgivings and fears. He was flying. The thought of love still scared him witless but this... comfort and closeness and complete intimacy was like water on the starved plant that was his heart. Words were so slippery; as someone who now refused to lie, he had more than a little experience with slippery, deceitful and pretty sounding words. But this honesty of the flesh, of eyes speaking from some internal place to which the mind had only passing access... this was Truth. He felt a radiant, calm certainty while still wanting to get up and run around the room shouting. It would be a long time before he used the right word for his unarguable condition.

"Hey... sleeping beauty... there's a yellow light flashing on the phone over there... do we care?" Duo's chest rumbled with the question.

"Huh uh. It'll stop. But keep talking... that feels good."

"Well... it just turned red. Do we care yet?"

Zechs pushed himself up on an arm and glared at the phone. "Maybe. This better be good..." In a moment, he was punching the in-house page code and waiting. He scrubbed at his face and yawned, then looked surprised when the page was answered. "Hi... yeah... " He chuckled. "Well, no I'm not very surprised... Oh? Uh huh... uh huh..." His face split in a grin. "Ok. I'll tell him. Yes, thanks!! Thank you very much!"

He pulled a crumpled sheet from the bottom of the bed and held it out to Duo, still smiling toothily. "Here. You better put this on and go get the door. Someone's got a delivery to make and they asked specifically for you to accept it."

Duo was mystified but he wound the sheet around himself obediently and padded out of the bedroom just as a light knock sounded at the suite door. He cracked the door and peered out. At a smiling (!) Trowa Barton holding a large basket. Trowa shoved the basket at him and kept smiling.

"Quatre sends this with his regards. And congratulations. And lots of other things... I've forgotten half of it. He can tell you himself later."

Duo reached out to take the basket, peered down into it. Napkins, bottles, silverware, covered dishes...something that smelled really, really good! Fruit and ... yeah! Cake! Score! He looked back at Trowa and laughed.

"And he made you bring it... So, ya got any advice for me, Circus Boy?" Duo grinned hugely, clutching his goody basket in two arms.

"Yeah. A slow, warm bath is as good as eight hours of sleep." Barton's smile deepened and grew an improbable dimple. "Be sure to write that down, now." He headed off up the hallway, turned back in a moment. "By the way, you and Zechs decided to get up early to go down to the launch site for the day. So, no one expects to see you tomorrow." A final wave and he was gone.

Trowa Barton. Smiling. Huh. The things you see when you don't have a camera!

The happy pilot stared gratefully down the empty hall for a moment more before he took the good advice, the good food and the day off they'd been given back in to share with his sleepy prince.

+

Duo scooped a handful of bubbles out of the warm water; trailed it up and over his chest; leaned back into the reassuring embrace behind him; dabbled his fingers down the ridiculously long thigh stretched out next to his own. Sighed luxuriously. He'd surely pay for all this pleasure and peace later!

"Penny for your thoughts." Zechs' rich dark voice rumbled. The water was hot enough to make Duo wonderfully lazy and drowsy and slow. Really! Just too good to last!

He tilted his head to look up into eyes the clear blue of a warm sunlit sky. Funny. Why'd he ever thought they were cold winter blue? "Not sure my thoughts are worth that much, sugar... I was just thinking that sure as hell I'll pay for all this later. That seems to be how it works. For this much happiness, I figure a ship's gonna have to blow up under me..." He smiled ruefully.

Zechs chuckled and kissed the top of his lover's head. "Maybe we've already paid. I mean, we've both had our share of ships blow up under us... And I've never been this happy before...."

Duo laughed. "Quit fishing for compliments, shameless! I haven't been this happy before either... So, we may've already paid, huh? That'd be great. From your mouth to God's ear." He flopped back around onto his warm, cozy perch and shoved bubbles around aimlessly.

Zechs knew exactly how Duo felt. They had both been crafted to be weapons and all their short lives they had been chivvied by great events from one struggle to the next in the pursuit of that fate. For their kind, duty and inclination coincided perfectly. It was not really possible for either of them to believe in a personal fate that included happiness of an ordinary sort. At some level, every warrior misbelieves in the propriety of satisfactions found outside of battle.

But, watching the improbable bundle of strength and beauty he held in his arms, the prince was determined to fight melancholic fate tooth and nail even if it proved useless. Every passing moment strengthened his resolve. He would make the here-and-now as good for Duo as he could and leave future worries to future care. He felt that as long as he was careful and honest and worked hard and didn't ask for too much, they too might get to carve out some small portion of the peace they had helped broker. At the bedrock of his heart, he was not convinced they would succeed but he well knew that fighting has nothing to do with the hope of victory.

And anyway, a warrior's most proper rewards were always measured in the moment.

"I'm not looking any further than that picnic basket right now... I'm starving!! Come on, let's get it over with... No guts, no glory!!" Zechs picked up the shampoo bottle and waggled it in front of the drowsy man in his lap.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah... And only the brave deserve the fair!! Anyway, I don't wanna get all pruney..." Duo pushed out into the center of the huge tub and dunked. A yard of wet hair floated away from his shoulders. He glanced at Zechs' own floating yard of hair meaningfully and grinned. "Okay! We're goin' in!!"

As bubbles and lather boiled out of control and water filled the air and laughter and complaints echoed around the marbled room, the foundation course in Zechs' careful masonry against fate was laid out, straight and true.

+

"Now?"
"Yes! Now, please, now.... oh...! Oh, hell, yeah...!"
"I can't... can I move?... does it hurt?... I won't hurt you...! Never hurt you!"
"No... yes, move... no, doesn't hurt... oh, god, right there ... dammit! ....Zechs! ... good... good... good...!"
"...I know... can I... I've got you... oh, love... oh..."
"...ohhhhhhh.... not already! ... nonononono.....oh, hell.. yes... yes... I'm gonna... jeez! oh, babe....!"
"...I've got you... god, yes, oh, sweet... ... I love you, Duo... ah...!"
"..............."
"..............."
"...!!! ... Hot damn!! Yes!! Yes!! I am SO not a virgin!...."

+

Relena looked worriedly up the drive, hoping to spot a familiar sedan approaching in the twilight before it was too late. She hugged Quatre again and checked for the third time to make sure all their luggage was loaded. Heero stood patiently leaning up against the car, exchanging syllables with Trowa and waiting for the Long Goodbye to wind down.

"I can't believe they're not back yet, but I know you're eager to catch your shuttle... Oh, Quatre! Trowa! It was wonderful seeing you! I hope you had as much fun as I did!" Quatre smiled beatifically and kissed Relena's cheek with genuine cheer.

"We had a great time! Everything was perfect! So much better than anyone could have hoped, don't you think? Don't worry about those two! We never really say good-bye, you know... It's bad luck. I'll catch Duo in L2 next month. I'm going to look at the salvage site he's thinking about... And we'll see Zechs on Mars soon enough. You know me, fingers in a million pies!" They hugged again and Quatre started to climb into the car. Again. Barton ran interference to ensure actual launch this time.

Relena lifted a finger when a sudden thought struck her but Yuy was there to catch her hand. He looked at her with patient good humour, shook his head slowly, kissed the tip of her finger and pushed her hand back down to her side. He turned, arm around her waist and watched as Trowa climbed in, herding the still chattering Quatre. Relena subsided peacefully but waved frantically as the car finally pulled away. Quatre's hand appeared in the back window of the sedan waving frantically as well.

The most famous diplomat in known human space turned a misty eye to her attentive, gentle captor as the limousine pulled away. "I wish we didn't all live so far apart!"

The sedan tail lights winked on in the growing dark and then winked out around a curve in the road. They turned back to the house. Relena laughed and clapped her hands. "I know! We'll get everyone together in the colonies next time! How about for the harvest parties? Well, they wouldn't be harvest parties in space, exactly, would they? And we'll get Wufei to come, too... Who's he seeing now? Anyone? Well, I'll find out...."

Heero nodded thoughtfully, smiled his secretive smile, answered nothing, listened to everything and steered them toward the doors where light and warmth and the pretty, petty concerns of peace waited to gather them in.

End "When Duo Met Zechs" --- tM

***** Omake *****

AC 199 - Mars - Prime Base City

Word passed rapidly through the ranks after the station control crew let it slip. The Rapunzel was inbound! No, the Rapunzel was actually in system! No, the Rapunzel was already in orbit! A grand uncertainty surrounded the ritual; anchor pools were settled only after the docking logs could be smuggled out of the port offices. People smiled and laughed as they hauled away at their work with renewed vigour and mounting glee.

After six months in the great dark, the little system hauler an entire planet watched and waited for with uncommon impatience had at last returned with another precious net load of much-needed ammonia for the terraformers.

However, it wasn't just the ammonia that was much needed and far from the real reason for all the glee.

Whenever the Rapunzel and her handsome captain docked at Station above Prime City, a general amnesty in the hard life of the project crew and citizens was always the rule. The driven, duty-mad Governor would actually close his own 7 x 24.6 X 687 offices and declare a general holiday for the duration of the download.

While robot shuttles tweaked the massive bergs of frozen gasses away from the Rapunzel's nets into their eventual gravity feed points, "iceberg" parties spread like wildfire through every dome and trench dorm. Huge amounts of carefully collected alcohol were consumed; bowls of fragrant, hoarded leaves redolent of Earth were sparked and ritually shared; alliances were forged; babies conceived; enmities resolved; crockery, diets and sometimes hearts were broken. An entire world celebrated.

As usual, the Governor would take his reserved shuttle to ascend to Station as soon as the Rapunzel was reported in the plane of orbit. The rangy blond all but dropped whatever was in his hands when the news arrived and headed straight for the port. Along the way, one or another of his aides would always appear by magic, day or night, for the ride aloft. One and only one aide ever made the trip with the Governor.

This time, had he noticed, two aides converged in his long-legged, single-minded wake as he passed through the halls of Prime City's government offices at top speed. Behind his heedless back, a ferocious flurry of whispers were determining his entourage for the trip.

"I won the pool! Beat it, Johnson!"

"The hell! You swapped next round with Nesmith two turns ago and Nesmith sold me the marker... See ya, Nakamura!!"

The victorious aide ran to catch up. The pool was not played by all the staffers, but it was played with determination by those who did participate. Once, a new aide had asked one of the players what the heck was so great about the short trip to make grown people act so nuts. The answer had not been especially illuminating.

"Well, if you're with the governor when the Rapunzel checks into Station offices, you get to see something... special." Then the player in question had laughed softly and added. "But only if you're pure of heart."

The shuttle trip was brief. The port master's offices were just a short walk from the Governor's shuttle berth. Smiling faces approached, trying to chat the Governor up about this or that but he was unstoppable. His aide Johnson stuck to the man like glue. When they reached the port master's offices, the Governor stopped dead in the open planetside dock doors while the usual foot traffic continued weaving around him on all sides. He stood watching the outworld dockside doors across the madhouse of the port offices like a man depending on their opening for his next breath of oxygen.

The outworld dockside doors opened. A short, leather-clad figure with a long, messy braid stood blinking and rubbing at his eyes in the bright office lights. His bleary gaze tracked steadily across the busy port offices, searching. As he stepped across the threshold and officially onto Martian soil, port authorities surrounded him, slapping his back and pumping his hand. He smiled, nodded, shook hands, handed over the crystal drive with his hard coded permits and bills of lading but his stormy blue eyes never strayed from the tall man standing quietly in the planetside dock doors. And the Governor's eyes never left the pilot's.

As always, the unwavering line of their gaze cleared a path across the busy carpet. In mere moments, someone shoved a visitor's crystal drive into the pilot's waiting hand and slapped him on the back. He made his way deliberately across the room; stopped in front of the Governor; grinned his trademark crooked grin. He was worn and grimy, as always. Too pale and too thin, as always. A bandage covered some new insult on the side of his neck. Johnson made a note to get the doc to pay a call. Tomorrow. Or, maybe the day after. Play it by ear. In the meantime, clothes, food -- probably lots of small, tempting meals... the aide's mental list grew.

Even through the hive buzz of Station business, the clanging of dockside mechas and her own internal dialog, Johnson could still hear Captain Maxwell's well-known husky murmur as he reached out a shaky hand and Governor Merquise's reply as he captured it in both of his own.

"I'm home!"

"Welcome home!"

[ch. 3] [back to Singles l - z]