interlude - part two

"Then I think I had better call your parents and say that you're out to dinner with me, and that you'll be home late. I wouldn't want them to worry about you."

Serena flashed to the image of Darien trying to talk to her father, and gulped. "Uh, maybe I'd better call. If my father thinks I'm with you . . .we won't have to worry about tomorrow, 'cause he'll shoot you today. " Darien grinned lopsidedly and nodded at that. Kissing him lightly, Serena hopped off his lap and went looking for the phone, absently tugging her clothing back into more or less correct position. She found it in the kitchen, and leaning against the counter, she made the call quickly, actually getting her mother on the phone. In a flash of inspiration Serena asked if it was ok to stay at Rei's for supper and then go to school in the morning? They were having a really good spread on and Rei wanted to do some studying after, could she please stay overnight? Serena heard the hesitation in her mother's voice and her heart plummeted, then suddenly her mom said ok, but don't forget to come by early enough in the morning to get her school clothes. Serena promised she would faithfully and hung up before her mom changed her mind. Now she didn't have to go anywhere all night. Smiling, Serena turned to Darien waiting in the kitchen door.

At home, Mother placed the telephone back on the hook. She smiled a little sadly as the knowledge of where Serena had to be washed over her. She looked at the ceiling and sent a little prayer upwards for her daughter - let it be beautiful for her.

Darien felt guilty on Serena's behalf, already she was lying for them. Yet it was hard to regret it, a whole night together instead of a few hours, time for playtime and talktime and lovetime. Reaching past her, he grabbed the phone and deliberately pulled the cord from the wall, causing the lights to grow in her eyes again, laughter warring with desire again. Also deliberately he paced to the front door and made a big production about turning all the locks on it, this time bringing real laughter. He grinned at her, and catching her in his strong arms, whirled her around and around. Her laughter was like small bells, the joy in her face lighting the room like sunlight. He placed her on her feet again, and kissed her solidly. She returned the kiss with interest and Darien felt the flames being stroked to life again. He ignored it, and held her hand as he trekked into the kitchen -- if he had all night there was no point rushing.

Serena helped him raid the fridge - spicy pickles and mild cheese, salted crackers and some kind of salmon paste. A handful of nuts and some leftover takeout pizza. She found grapes hiding on the counter, and a truly impressive chocolate stash in a ceramic jar. Her eyes got large at that and Darien had the grace to blush. Like children, they assembled the haul on the coffee table in the main room, and Serena sprawled on the couch with a handful of grapes. Darien chose the floor, tucked between the couch and the table near her head. He hand fed her the little chocolates, laughing as she tried to bite his fingers. Darien deliberately let the tension simmer below the surface, not giving in to Serena's increasingly more obvious attempts to get him interested in other things than food. He peeled an apple with a small knife, and alternately fed the both of them with pieces on the point of the knife. She pouted when he wouldn't respond, so he distracted her with questions about her little brother, what it was like living in her family. She chattered happily and inquired about his. When Darien revealed his lack, she was silent but with a wounded expression in her eyes that made his heart melt again. He moved on to other topics, asking about her school and her friends. He spoke about about his life, such as it was - feeling himself opening to his love as the sun sank lower and slower in the sky. When they were down to the pickles and crackers, Darien felt himself as relaxed as he could ever remember being. A glance to Serena lying on her back on his couch showed her to be equally lethargic, almost purring in her contentment. Her hair was pooling over his shoulder, and he idly played with the strands, rubbing them over his fingers, reveling in the feel. The conversation faltered and then died a comfortable death, strangled in the last warmth of the day, both of them focused inside themselves.

Serena lazily draped one leg over the back of the couch, licking the last of the salmon paste from her fingers. She stared at the ceiling, not looking at Darien but aware of his hands in her hair as if possessed of sensitivity in the individual threads. She sighed gently and knew that Darien echoed her movement. Tilting her head a little, she looked at him from the corner of her eye, greedily gazing at the strong profile, the shock of hair that she knew was like warmest silk to the touch. His collarbone jutted sharply from his chest, and Serena recalled inimately how his skin had felt under her hands. Her eyes slipped casually across the curve of his shoulders, and the fine sprinking of hair on the nape of his neck. Suddenly she felt uncomfortable again, a feeling she was becoming more familiar with somewhere in her stomach that tasted something like honey and pain. His nearness assaulted her senses and Serena began to feel awkward again, all too long arms and coltish legs. Her gaze swept over the glossy black of his hair and she remembered vividly the deep colour of his eyes. That honey feeling began to sweep through her body, and she felt that internal trembling starting again, all shaky and quivery. 'O great,' she thought with despair and a rising hysteria, 'he doesn't even need to touch me, and I fall to pieces!' Serena felt confused and excited, a combination that had occurred to her before. 'I don't understand this at all!' she wailed to herself. Serena just knew she was going to explode if she didn't get away from here.

Nervously, she sat up from the reclining position she'd fallen into, butter yellow hair sliding sinously through Darien's fingers. A little startled, he looked back at her abrupt change of position. Studiously she didn't meet his gaze, leaning forward a little on the cushions like a bird about to take flight. She got to her feet in a rush and too casually walked to the balcony window. Placing one slim hand with unconscious grace on the jamb, she stepped through into the fresh air and the noise of the city broke over her. Serena leaned on the railing, eyes seeing the familiar Tokyo skyline without really registering it. Her feelings and thoughts flashed through her mind like koi in a pond, all glittering fins and flickering darknesses. She tried to breathe deeply, and ended up swallowing convulsively, panic rising and falling within her. That devil in her head again was saying that this fascination with Darien was insane, no matter how right it felt. She hardly knew him, hadn't exchanged more than a few dozen words with him before this and most of those had been insults. She knew she wasn't that good in school, and Darien had never before missed an opportunity to remind her of it. So what was this feeling that seemed to have trapped them both, so overwhelming that she couldn't think around it? Serena was young and the physical attraction was complex and disturbing, but intuitively she knew that it was really only the tip of what she felt suddenly for the man with storm-colored eyes. In the middle of her fragmented thoughts and emotions, Serena felt her fragile self-image start to crack as her imagination ran away with her. It was almost with a feeling of relief that she felt Darien step onto the balcony behind her, bringing all her internal accusations crashing to an immediate and confusing halt.

It was not until later years that she recognized this moment for what it was - when for a moment she reverbrated with the recognition of soul shaking love. For as the spicy scent of his skin fell over her like a prayer, Serena felt that emotion rising through the chaos of her thoughts, an undefinable sense that he would always show her the right path, that she had only to trust in him and he would be her unfailing light in the darkness. Serena felt this moment of clarity like a brilliant piece of sun falling through the depths of ocean, fading as it fell. It would take the moment of her greatest darkness for her to remember this revelation, that he was the mate of her soul as well as her heart, to be recalled with soul bruising agony in the moment that she lost him.

But now, Serena clenched hands on the railing, and closed her eyes helplessly as he came and stood behind her, wrapping shockingly warm arms around her slightly chill body. She leaned back tentatively into his embrace and felt his breath stir her hair into a small dance. They stood that way for a few minutes, Darien knowingly giving her the time to compose herself, feeling something of what she must be feeling. Darien questioned himself, keenly aware again of how young she was emotionally, and that the glimpses he'd had of her grounded and speaking her mind with clear sight were only teasers of the woman she would become. And Darien knew helplessly that it was beyond any sense of control now, that whereever the borderline had been he had crossed it too long ago to turn back. Unless she ran out of this apartment right now and never came back, he knew where this night was heading. Darien couldn't find it in his heart to regret the eventual parting that they would soon have to share. Some people never even got that much space of love, and Darien's thoughts flashed back to the old man in the park, and his heart throbbed in sudden painful understanding.

His arms tightened convulsively, and she squirmed around inquiringly, sky blue eyes staring into his. Darien smiled into them, seeing small flecks of silver floating across the iris of her eyes, a trick of the light perhaps. His gaze deepened as a blush came to her face, her lips of softest pink quivering slightly with a trembling that had a match in her limbs. Darien felt the heat rising between them again, and shamelessly he exploited it. Leaning in, he kissed her the lightest butterfly kiss he could manage, feeling her lashes brush his cheek in a involuntary caress of her own. Even this lightest of contacts shivered his backbone, and he bent her back over the railing to kiss her again. Darien knew his eyes must reflect that wild, almost feral emotion of possession that welled inside him. Surprisingly, Serena seemed to freeze into a moment of stillness in his arms and he was sure he saw an understanding acceptance in her gorgeous eyes in the moment before his lips met hers again. The fire flared between them, and the kiss lengthened until both of them were gasping with the force of it. Feverishly he kissed her again and again, strong calloused hands running possessively over the wealth of her unbound hair. After an unknown time Darien raised his head, his eyes reflecting how shaken he felt. Serena gazed up adoringly and the look of vulnerability on his face went through her like a lightning bolt, her self-confidence rising that she could make him feel like she did. Darien gave a wry grin down at the expression of smug satisfaction her face, and with a hint of roughness said, 'Let's go back inside.'

Serena blinked and then breathed back a soft, 'Yes.' With ease he ducked down and casually picked her up, a reminder of when he had held her in the clean misting of the fountain. Serena felt at peace once again as he stepped across the threshold and back into the suddenly darkened room.

Across the street, Rei frowned in confusion. She often took this route back to the temple when her grandfather sent her out for supplies. She always made a point of looking up to the balcony that was Darien's, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. And it seems that she had seen more than she wanted to with this casual spying expedition. Darien had not been wearinga shirt, she could make that out at least, and the kisses had not been platonic by any stretch of the imagination. Rei cursed how far away she was, that she couldn't make out who the girl was, only the brightness of her yellow hair standing out in the growing gloom. Rei felt jealously consuming her heart, and her eyes narrowed as she contemplated how to make Darien pay for being involved with some other girl and not telling her. He was a cad. A swine. A two-timing low life. Working herself into a fit of rage and jealousy, Rei swore to find out who the mystery girl was so she could flaunt the knowledge under his nose and then storm away in righteous indignation. Deep in thoughts of revenge, Rei continued her interrupted walk back home, the bag of supplies bouncing heedlessly over her shoulder.

Inside, Darien gently deposited Serena in the middle of the floor, and with a finger to her lips, indicated that she was to stay there. Mutely, Serena watched as he closed the balcony door and closed the blinds, turning the room to murky darkness. With the surety of long residence, Darien prowled the room, lighting candles that she hadn't noticed before that began to cast a mellow glow over the air. As her eyes adjusted to the gloom, Serena took the time to appreciate the animalistic quality of Darien's movements. 'A big cat,' she thought dreamily, 'hard and velvet and all mine.' She trembled again, feeling her nipples tighten painfully against the thin cotton of her dress. This time the feeling didn't frighten her and she waited with eyes like pools of stars for him to return to her. He paused by the small stereo and selected something that began to play a slow and sad music that suited her mood of occasion. He paced back to her, a light footed stalking that sent delicious shivers of anticipation racing over her skin. Tenderly he folded her back into his embrace and he began to sway in time to the music, a slow rhythm that she was able to follow effortlessly. Her arms wrapped lovingly around his waist, her smooth cheek nestled into the curve of his shoulder. They moved together to the music, Serena daringly lifting her head to invite the magic of his kisses, her hands traveling the length of his warm back, fingers splayed over the shifting mysteries of his strong muscles. His lips were full of promise and sensuality and she felt each movement of his body like a shock of electricity. Serena forgot that she was awkward and clumsy, forgot that she was too young for him and for what was between them, forgot even that the rest of the world existed outside the curve of his arms.

He shuddered appreciatively as her hips curved around him sweetly and with specific intent. Her lips began to rove over his chest, her sweet tongue darting out to caress the hard knots that were his nipples, her teeth grazing his skin. Deliberately, Darien altered the rhythm of their twinned movements, beginning to make slow love to her again, wary of sending her into another fit of fright and anxiety. She responded as eagerly as even he could have wished, matching his pace and lifting one leg to curve over the back of his thigh, standing on tiptoe to bring her body tighter into his. Darien began to shake imperceptibly, a cold flash running through his veins like a demon as the front of his straining jeans were brought into direct contact with the warmth between her legs. Darien's mind supplied him with a vision of how she would feel if his clothes weren't on, and with a mute groan he wrapped strong fingers across her back and pulled her tight into his body. The shock of that suddenly overwhelmingly intimate connection brought them both to a moment of awareness in the midst of the whirl of sensation. Serena's hands had flown to his shoulders to maintain her balance, and she was almost nose to nose with him. They gazed searchingly into each other for long moments, that pulse of blood the only movement between them.

With a calculation that was born of an impulse in her bones, Serena leaned back and trusted to his strength to hold them. She began to circle and rock her hips against the hardness in his groin, stroking and pressing herself against him. Her fingers curled into claws with the effort and Darien felt her thighs flexing along his own with the strain of the controlled movements she was making. His long hands wrapped around her waist, and he felt the twisting, sinuous movements of her body shaking through his arms. His eyes greedily drank in the sight of her long neck thrown back, her long hair pooling to the floor, her rolling torso inciting him to near riot with lust. He began to thrust more urgently into her softness, the scent of her arousal rising through his brain like the sweetest addiction.

Darien felt himself approaching flashover point, when he would simply collapse to the floor with her and rape her willing body over and over again until he was satiated. That was not how he wanted it to be her first time, as much as his body might be urgently demanding it. Than as the thought sunk in, that this would be her first time, that he would be her first lover, a sun-bright arrow pierced his heart and Darien nearly hit crisis point as her sweet body vibrated against his. Gasping, Darien broke away and stood up from the deep stance he had fallen into, forcing her leg down his thigh and away from that compulsive movement that had destroyed his concentration. With fingers that trembled, he traced the contours of her face and the silken corners of her mouth. With a darkness in his voice that he didn't bother to disguise, he whispered to her, 'You distract me, witch.'

Serena blushed a little but her gaze was as clear as it had ever been. Darien felt a sensation of vertigo as he knew how hopelessly he loved her, and how little chance they had together. With a rigidly enforced casualness, he brushed his hands along her collarbone, then curved around her shoulders to release the closure of her dress so that it fell at her feet like a froth of sea and foam, standing as golden as Aphrodite new-risen from the waters. Serena began to shiver and Darien doubted it was from cold. His gaze travelled the length of her body, greedily sucking in the sight of her breasts quivering atop her heaving chest, and the shadowly places across her flank that eased into the curves of her beautiful hips. The softness of her belly trembled under his eyes, the scrap of her panties hardly concealing the darker gold that peeped out from under it. Her long legs were so beautiful, even the curve of her ankles drawing his admiration and approval.

He kissed her sun bright hair and lips soft as petals. He kissed the curve of her jaw and the softness of her neck where her pulse beat like the wings of a bird. He worked his way lower and lower, across the ache of her nipples and the taut skin over her ribcage. His hands slid lower over her slim hips and hooked the waistband of her panties, tugging them down to expose the paler flesh underneath. His lips on her belly, he felt her breathing become shallow and the flight of her hands into his hair, but she didn't stop him or say no. Darien continued and in a moment, that scrap of cotton joined the pile at her feet. With sensitive fingertips he kneaded them into the bewitching curive of her outer thighs and his head dipped lower, tongue circling her belly button and then teasingly through her upper curls. Her scent was intoxicating and Darien could now see the dampness on her thighs and her spasmodic trembling. Gently he nuzzled her mound, her fingers now clenched convulsively into his hair. He kissed her thighs, licking at the salt on her skin and the taste of her arousal. Coaxingly he eased her legs into a wider stance, so that she opened beneath his gaze like a shy flower. Eyes half closed, Darien held her legs in an unshakeable grip and he placed his next kiss directly over her exposed center. Her trembling exploded, and shockingly his tongue darted out and stroked the small nub of flesh so that Serena made unidentifiable sounds of exquisite pleasure and near pain. Involuntarily, Serena tried to close her legs against this surprising invasion but Darien had been prepared and neither his hand nor tongue gave her any mercy. With an expertise born simply of his own desire to please and posses her, his tongue worked magic over and through her, alternately sucking and caressing her pleasure node, then maddeningly ignoring it to tickle her thighs and tease with his teeth against her excrutiatingly sensitive flesh.

Serena had never even known something like this was possible, her hands buried in his thick hair as his mouth moved over her in the most intimate caress she could imagine. Her legs widened voluntarily, allowing him greater and greater access to her. She had sniggered with her friends when they watched people kiss on the street, had giggled with Molly over the racy pictures that Ruruna had brought to school one day. But no one had ever suggested that someone could do this to you, could make you feel like your whole existence narrowed to a single overwhelming point of sensation. Even explorations of her own body, as satisfying as they had been at the time, were pale shadows compared to this. His tongue lapped at her like a cat, and his hands held her to the most minimal of movements. As her legs relaxed and opened, Darien dared further and with a quick twist, probed the entrance to her virginity with the tip of his tongue, tasting the sticky honey that now flowed from her like lifeblood. With a wild sound, Serena arched in his hands, thrusting her hips forward into his mouth, and groaning, Darien buried his teasing, wicked tongue into that tempting crevice, thrusting and lapping at the pulsing walls that wrapped around him. He stroked her with a response that equalled her own, her mindless thrusting and twisting controlling the tempo now, and Darien rode the wave of her impending release with a keen sense of anticipation.

And then as suddenly as it had started, her body froze into immobility and Darien could feel the crazy pulse running across his lips. His tongue glided immediately to her point of insanity and scraped with with deliberately painful teeth. With a wail that shook her body like a leaf in a windstorm , Serena spasmed around him, trapping his tongue deep inside her as her thighs flexed powerfully around him. Her honey pulsed in waves, flooding into his mouth as he eagerly drank her orgasm. Only his strong arms held her up as Serena shook and cried out in shock and surprise. As her trembling became spasmodic and her thighs began to release him, Darien withdrew the deepness of his contact and gently licked at her, easing her body back down from the heights it had flown to. Her hands began to unclench finally and she started to try to support her own weight again, legs trembling with reaction. She leaned into his body as he rose higher on his knees to press his face into her trembling belly. His hands rose to stroke her softly, and like a flower drooping in the setting sun, she slowly collapsed to her knees against him, her hands running over his hair as she held him to her breast.

Darien caressed her sweetly shivering body, damp and shaking with reaction, and absently began to suckle on one of her hard nipples, gentle suction tugging it out of position and into his hungry mouth. She seemed not to notice for a moment, still shocked in the aftermath, and Darien used the opportunity of inattention to move his fingers between her thighs. He curved the palm of his hand over her mound of silken curls and his fingers slipped with shocking ease into her warmth. She wriggled but that only served to allow him deeper access. With one finger he began to toy with her pulsing button, and began to suckle on one breast in earnest. In a vain attempt to stop this new invasion, Serena dropped her hands from his hair down to his wrist, locking her slim fingers convulsively on it. She tried to lift herself away, and Darien let her draw away slightly before plunging his hand upwards, impaling her on his fingers. He began to stroke her again and again, his thumb now rubbing over her flaring nerve point.

Serena was totally at a loss, her desperate move to rid herself of his persistent fingers only serving to allow him to penetrate her more deeply. She squeezed her thighs together to try and close him out, but her own slickness merely heightened the sensation as his hand moved insistently over and through her. Her hands tightened on his wrist in a death lock and with a shock of lustful awareness realized the sight she must look; hair flowing like a shifting garment of gold over her back, her thighs trembling around a man's invading arm, her breasts squeezed and thrust forward in open invitation for his insistent mouth. Desperately, she whetted her lips and looked down at Darien, trying to express how she felt, unsure herself whether she wanted him to stop or take her higher into this sexual experience. Her mute appeal was not lost on Darien and he eased off, and with a final stroke over her damp curls, released her again. With a sigh she drooped forward, trembling against his body and this time he just held her and let her senses relax from the tightness they had been drawn to.

When her breathing slowed, and she stirred again, he got stiffly to his feet and drew her after him. The music had stopped somewhere along the way, and only the candles burned still. Holding her hand warmly in his, he led her to the bedroom and laid her down on the darkness of his bed. With hands that were none too steady, he divested himself quickly of his few garments, jeans rustling as he drew them off. His hard erection tugged at his belly, and he lowered himself to the cool bed beside her and gathered her sweetly into his arms. Darien was content for the moment to simply hold her, her skin to his, and her hair like a flame in the dark. He stroked it gently as her breathing tickled his collarbone and chest, and knew he had thought of nothing else but this since he had kissed her yesterday in the cool water.

Hesitantly, her fingers reached out and touched his mouth. He nibbled at them slowly and they moved to trace the planes of his face. He felt her prop herself up on one elbow and he turned his head to face her, her eyes enormous in the minimal light slipping through the window. She drew her hand over the curve of his eyebrows and then down the taut smoothness of his chest. His stomach tensed with butterflies as she lingered there, a feeling at once both ticklish and disturbing. He willed her hand to go lower yet, but she hesitated there, so close to his aching hardness that he nearly groaned with it. Serena leaned in and nuzzled his ear, sending a sudden wave of goose shivers down his body. She giggled softly and then surprisingly purred, a sound he'd never heard before. She moved her lips to the bone behind his ear and purred louder, sending waves of sound vibration coursing through his bones. With something approaching desperation, he wound his free hand into the base of her hair and pulled her away, then sprawled her halfway across his chest and kissed her savagely. Her tongue ran possessively into his mouth, perhaps taking a page from his own book, and this time Darien did groan with the pleasure of it.

Then with a smoothness and surety he never would have given her, she threw her leg over his thighs and raised herself to sit astride him, her wet softness pressed firmly against his hard cock, pinning it to his belly with her weight. The instant sensation of contact nearly proved his undoing, and Darien clutched at the bed to keep from moving, knowing that anything would send him over the edge. His hardness pulsed between her thighs erratically and he breathed harshly, the exquisite sensation of her body atop his doing wicked things to his desire. She waited with bird-like anticipation until his body stopped straining under hers, and his hands raised from the bed to hesitantly stroke her legs. Serena began to slide herself slowly along his stiff length, each stroke slicker and more teasing than the last, his erection jumping in uncontrollable twitches beneath her. Deliberately she kept it slow, and Darien released all control to her, his fingers spread and kneading her thighs hard enough to leave small bruises. Serena had never felt this way before, lazy and excited, and she moved on instinct alone, trying to give him the same pleasure he had given her.

Serena listened with increasing pleasure as Darien twitched and moaned beneath her. She raised herself higher on her knees and placed delicate fingers on his chest, beginning to stroke backwards as well, dipping and teasing him as his hips began to buck. She discovered a way to twist her body and hips into a quick sliding curve as she slid her outer lips against his steel length, and felt the immediate response beneath her. Serena realized that she was losing control herself as her sweet spot rubbed against him again and again, and raising that aching tide inside her.

As Serena concentrated on this dance of arousal, a quick snake movement downward of her hips and the powerful flexing of his thighs brought his erection to the brink of her slickness, and Serena gave a cry of fright and shock as the tip penetrated her defenses. She froze against him, feeling his hardness tight against her thighs and her legs splayed to either side of his straining body. Leaning forward on her hands, she realized the vulnerability of her position, the head of cock already lodged tightly against her, the tip of it vibrating inside. One thrust, and she was his, unable to prevent or deny it. In a sudden agony of spirit her eyes flew to his face.

In the dim light, Darien's face was totally closed, all angles and sharp edges as his chest flexed under her fingers. In amazement, Serena saw that he was biting his lip with the agony of not completing the stroke, his whole body vibrating to complete that one act, and his indomitable will refusing to take that choice away from her. In that flash of recognition, Serena's fears vanished and with a wild cry tensed her arms against his chest and impaled herself backwards, taking half of his length in that one stroke. Darien's body could hold no longer, and he surged underneath her, driving his shaft to the hilt inside her. Darien's cry of completeness mingled with her own and Serena whimpered and rocked on top of him, crossing her arms in agony over her breasts. The burning between her legs seemed insurmountable and she could feel him so deeply inside of her she thought she was going to choke. Mindless she twisted and tensed around him, feeling like a hot metal spike had been driven into her belly, ripping her apart. Suddenly his hips thrust foward in a powerful motion, and Serena wailed with the exquisite agony of it. She trembled and cried out again, and dimly she heard him say something in a voice barely recognizable, but the words flew past her understanding. Then she felt his legs bunch underneath her and he thrust inside her again, and yet again. Hands on his chest and hopelessly off balance, Serena could only endure the rhythm as the burning intensified and she cried out in pain, tears springing to her eyes.

But sooner than she would have believed possible, the burning became a heat and then a fire rising in her belly, his hardness slipping through and into her in a motion as old as the sea. Serena knew dimly that she was lifting her hips away from him in perfect time, that she spread her legs wider to allow him deeper penetration, each stroke shaking both their bodies with the driving force of it. Serena heard her own voice somewhere, chanting something she couldn't hear over the wild beating of her heart, and the rushing flow of the blood in her ears. Then she gave up thinking at all, simply reacting to his body twisting under hers, riding his arching hips with all the desire of her young body to have all of his, and to never let it end.

It was with a feeling of sweet conclusion that Serena felt another bout of shaking attack her, stronger and more intense, and knew that she couldn't last much longer. Darien's feverish hands felt it, felt the wild trembling of her body become unglued again, frantic and driven. Her body burst into new heat and Darien felt her inner muscles clamp down on him in a grip of unmistakeable intent, her hair like a corona around them both. His voice rose with hers and Darien arched beneath her again and again, riding the wave of their burgeoning orgasm. Wave upon wave of pulsing, aching need flowed through him into her, filling her belly with hot liquid, her walls throbbing around his imprisoned cock. Darien felt his vision flash into white, could only feel that one point of connection and the spilling of his seed into her secret flower. Serena trembled uncontrollably, feeling the incredible sweetness of her release flowing over him and the sudden heat inside her that spoke of his. She felt the shaking of his body under her fingertips and she fell forward against him, slick with sweat and suddenly too warm to be believed. She panted against his chest, hair sticking to her all over like a shroud and the painful throbs of his heartbeat matching the quivering she still felt inside her, his hardness no longer stretching her apart quite so tightly. He wound his arms around her, and slowly the world stopped spinning and their breathing slowed to near sleep.

Carefully he rolled her onto her back, Serena sleepily protesting until he settled his partial weight over her, his breath tickling her ear. He remained inside her still, unwilling to release that intimate connection just yet. Absently he caressed her breast, running a slow hand over her body as far as he could reach. Serena hugged him and Darien felt himself slide another step towards sleep. He dozed lightly, the scent of her hair and the smell of their recent sex combining delightfully in his nostrils. Dreamily, Darien wished it would always be like this, to hold this woman in his arms, to wake up with her every morning. Something about her seemed so right to him, that her youth and inexperience was a passing phase that would yield something mysterious and beloved to him, that all he had to do was wait. With smug satisfaction he recalled his moment of release, when she had been wrapped around him so tightly he could have died of it. As relaxed as he could ever recall being, he mused that if things only got better after the first time, he might not survive it. Under half closed lids he surveyed her sleeping face, noting the small smile on her lips. He hoped that meant he had pleased her, had not been totally selfish his first time.

His hand moved down to caress the softness of her belly, the dampness that lingered on her skin and he contemplated his seed inside her, proof of his possession where none could dispute it. The idea rose headily in his mind, that now she was truly his in a way that none could ever take away, that he would always remember this moment in the aftermath of love. He wanted her to be his in every way that counted, so that anyone looking would know and stay away. His hand flexed lovingly over the slight swell of stomach, and he imagined his seed spreading inside her with mindless purpose, to make a child of this union. An image of Serena's body swollen with his baby rose inside him like a wave, and Darien came suddenly awake in a surge of fierce joy and equally fierce dismay. His body shivered in sudden cold as he realized that things had developed so quickly that he hadn't even considered this natural consequence. This one act of uncontrolled impulse could already have given her that child, that she was young but not so young that menarche wouldn't be established. Darien cursed himself helplessly for all kinds of fool, for not thinking of this several hours ago when he would have been able to do something about it. Something about Serena had always overloaded his circuits to think, and probably always would. He ached suddenly with something approaching pain. Tomorrow they would part for their separate ways, and if things went wrong, he would never know if she carried his child or not.

'O God,' he thought, his thoughts racing and clear. 'A child. Our child.' Darien's mind flashed him a picture of Serena holding a small boy by the hand, a boy that had her eyes and a somehow familiar quirky smile. Darien couldn't decipher the emotions sweeping through him, something of despair and guilt, and something as hot and bright as flame. With fevered gaze he swept her beautiful face, the roundness of childhood making it smooth and soft in the filtered moonlight. Then with a sense of fatalism he realized that the damage was well and truly done, there was no backing away from the consequences now. With another, milder curse for himself, he settled back into her body and resolutely refused to deal with it until the morning brought reality again.

An unaccountable time later, Darien woke again, this time from the chill of sleeping naked on top of the covers. The parts of him that covered Serena were warm though. Cheeky child that she was, she seemed perfectly content where she was. Darien propped himself on one elbow to watch her when she wasn't aware of it. Her face was still nuzzled into his chest, mouth slightly open and her hair tangled around the both of them.Tantalizing glimpses of flesh peeped out between the golden threads, and Darien felt his desire stir again to life. When she slept, she really looked the child she was without her mobile expressions to disguise the fact. Darien realized that at least some of what he was feeling was a sense of guilt over her youth and an equally strong conviction that it changed nothing. Not wanting to wake her, he carefully stroked the smoothness of her hair away from her beloved face, running long fingers through its silk. His expression was soft, the normally tight planes of his face relaxed and his eyes darkened to a deeper shade of love and acceptance. Had Serena awakened to see his expression at that moment, it would have been impossible for her to mistake the depths and surety of his feelings.

With a sigh, Darien carefully lifted himself away finally and moved off the bed, careful not to disturb her too much. She sprawled into the warm spot he had just left and sighed softly in her sleep. She took up more room than he would have thought possible if he hadn't know a few cats in his time. With a smile, Darien quietly left the room and stretched slowly on his way to the bathroom. He revelled in the soft protestations of his body, the aches and abrasions only heightening his anticipation of the next round. Leisurely he turned on the water for the bath and rummaging in the cabinet, found a couple of leftover mineral salts and added them to the filling tub. The water started to foam slightly and a mildly fragrant odor began to permeate the small room. While the tub continued to fill, Darien made his way to the living room and collected a few of the larger candles that were still burning. He blew the rest of them out as he went, carefully cradling the fragile glass bottles with the multihues of oil gently rocking inside them. He arranged them carefully so that their warm glow spread over the small bathroom like a benediction. Testing the water, he adjusted the taps and then wondered if he should wake her up first or simply carry her into the water.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement and he looked up, startled. Serena hugged the doorway, eyes a little anxious and wearing his cast off shirt. She looked simply adorable, the hem of his shirt hanging to her knees and softly biting her lip. One finger came to her mouth and she nibbled on it uncertainly, and then dropped it to wring her hands together. Darien straightened up and Serena blinked and stepped back a little. Peeking at him under long lashes, Serena stumbled over the words. 'I woke up and . . . well you weren't . . . and I thought . . . um, I just thought I'd come see where you were.' The words finished in a rush and Darien's heart beat painfully at the vulnerable expression in her eyes. Her lips were quivering, and Darien walked slowly towards her, his reflection growing large in her eyes. He wrapped strong arms around her and kissed her warmly, trying to drive all her uncertainties away. When he pulled away, her face was soft again and she blushed.

Serena tried to look up into his eyes, but she knew she was blushing and was afraid to seem too naive. It had been frightening at first, to wake up in a strange place, her body hurting and sore in places she didn't want to think about too closely. The room had been the wrong shape, the light coming from the wrong direction, even the smell was different. It was when she had realized she was cold and had shifted her position that her body had protested in a shockingly intimate way. In a flash Serena had remembered everything that had happened, and her body had flushed both hot and cold and raised shaking hands to her face. Darien was gone from her side, and she was afraid to find out what he thought, if she had disappointed him with her inexperience. Trembling she got up from the bed, her thighs sticky and her insides burning with an odd, tearing pain. She cast around for her clothes, wanting to cover her nakedness before he saw her, but could only find his shirt. She clutched at it and wriggled into the sleeves, rolling them up just so she could find her fingers to do up the buttons. His spicy scent rose around her, and Serena stopped momentarily, eyes closed as she savoured the joy of wearing his clothing like she had a right to. It felt almost like his arms were holding her, and idly she wondered if he'd let her take it home so she could wear it to sleep in. On tiptoe, she left the bedroom, wanting him to hold her again and afraid to ask.

The only light had come from the bathroom and Serena catwalked over there, trying very hard not to make any noise. It was a miracle that she didn't trip over anything on the way, but she peeped in where the soft light of candles was eminating. Small green plants softened the harsh outlines of the small bathroom, and soft towels hung on the rack. For a moment, Darien had been oblivious to her presence and Serena had drunk in the sight of him like a draught of heady wine. She could see the fine hairs raised on his arms, and the candles made his normally pale skin a bronze sheen that complemented him. The pale scent of flowers drifted by her and her greedy eyes saw his thick black hair needed cutting, long enough to curl slightly at the ends and now in a wild state with clear marks of his finger-combing. Long lashes caught the light and made his eyes in profile seem dipped in gold. Her eyes drifted shyly down his body, all his toned muscles standing out in bas-relief and sending a queer thrill of ownership through her. His lower belly drew her fascinated gaze, a dark arrow of hair curling down into his groin and Serena could see that his thighs were stained a slightly darker colour. With a jolt, Serena realized that must be her blood, and her thoughts scattered into confusion again. Before she could think of anything to say, he looked up. He had smiled at her and had simply walked over and kissed her again. All her half-formed fears vanished again and warm contentness had washed through her.

Darien finished the long, lingering kiss and smiled down into her eyes. 'Your bath awaits, my love,' he said warmly. He kissed the tip of her nose and she blinked, startled. Lazily, he drew her into the bathroom and began to undo all the buttons of his shirt. She had them all they way up to the throat, and Darien chuckled silently to himself at this evidence of body shyness. He had revelled in her body, and intended to do so again, a couple of buttons merely served to heighten the pleasure of finding her golden skin underneath it. Blushing, she offered no resistance and resolutely refused to look in the mirror. When he had undone enough buttons, he pushed it off her shoulders and it slid with a rustle to the floor. Her slim fingers came up quickly, then settled over his chest as he kissed her again. Darien looked over her shoulder into the mirror, seeing his own dark head bent over her golden one, his height and strength beautifully matched to her slim delicateness. With a delicious shiver, he drew his gaze away and back down to her eyes.

With a one hand still clasping hers, he turned off the running faucets and stepped in, drawing her after. Carefully, she settled in front of him, gasping when the hot water touched her the sore joining of her legs. Darien hugged her from behind, and she settled into his chest lazily, soaking in the hot water. The warmth spread through both of them and they drifted for a while silently. Darien reached for the soap and coaxed Serena into a sitting position, beginning to wash her smooth skin. He washed the blood traces from her thighs and covered her in slippery soap. Serena giggled as his hands traced the ticklish parts of her ribcage, gasping as they rose to play with her nipples. He stretched long arms to run them over her smooth legs, bending her forward at the waist to reach her ankles. Shyly, she turned around and face him on her knees and began to do the same for him, running the soap over his broad chest and defined arms, twining her fingers in his and carefully washing each fingertip. When her hand began to brush over his abdomen, he made no effort to hide his excitement, watching her with half-hooded eyes for reaction. Her eyes were bright but clear, and firmly she touched him with those soft, soapy hands and washed away the traces of their earlier lovemaking. Darien slipped further down into the tub with those distracting hands running over his erection, his blood starting to boil again. Serena's tongue was sticking out of the corner of her mouth, so deep was her concentration, and she moved her hands down his legs and across the sensitive spots on the backs of his knees. Darien twitched in startled reaction and her eyes flew to his face, merriment twinkling in them. He grinned and settled back down, letting her finish.

When he was done to her satisfaction, she leaned forward, pert breasts brushing against his chest as she kissed him. He reached up and hugged her waist, drawing her back down into the water with him and began to thrust against her soft belly again. Serena made soft sounds of agreement and matched his movements, water sloshing over the sides of the tub. Darien made a sound of satisfaction as Serena curled her legs around his and made room for him to reach her center again. This time, Darien controlled his entry, knowing how sore she must feel. Serena knew now that the pain would dissipate, and didn't do anything more than moan when his hardness caused her to burn steadily again. The warm water seemed to help and the lingering soap on their bodies made it easy to slide into a steady rhythm. Serena was soon eagerly meeting his strokes, and Darien lost himself in her body and the relentless slide into mindlessness. Water went everywhere and Serena's kisses were deeper than velvet, drawing him into the warmth of her tongue and lips. Dazedly, he realized that he was going to finish again, his body already drawn to a peak of excitement. Gasping, he tried to tell her to stop moving, to wait a little longer but the imp inside her gave him no mercy, her body thrashing wildy in his imprisoning arms, wet hair flying around her like flame. With a sense of the inevitable, Darien felt the coiled snake in his belly start to move and he began to shake with the beginnings of his release. His eyes flew wide for a moment, gaze locked to Serena's flushed face, her expression of satisfaction and greed too much for him to handle.

Darien's eyes closed involuntarily, and Serena could feel the uncontrollable nature of his thrusting underneath her like riding a beautiful horse, all power and strength. His strong fingers grabbed urgently at the sides of the tub and he arched his back, his long neck falling away from her and chest straining with the throes of incipent passion. With a cry that seemed both of passion and pain, Darien shuddered and twisted beneath her, his face a riot of emotion. Serena felt like a goddess, like a queen, like the most favoured woman in the world that he should do this beneath her, his face reflecting the passion she gave him. With a final groan, Darien settled back into the water, body softly shuddering. Dazedly his eyes opened, and Serena smiled down wickedly at him and squeezed her thighs against him. With a grin, Darien reached up and tweaked a nipple, his body relaxing into the water. Wonderingly, he looked around and realized that the bath was over as most of the water was now on the floor. Serena got up and stood over him, her hair tangled and wet, clinging to her body like a second skin. With a groan, Darien got up on shaky legs and leaned against her for a moment. Her skin smelled like pale flowers and sex and Darien reached again for the taps, this time settling for a shower. They embraced loosely, and Darien was content to lean in the hot water pounding down on his head and wash Serena's hair. Finished finally, they stepped out onto the soggy floor.

Darien winced, wondering if the downstairs neighbor was going to complain in the morning, and wrapped Serena in a long towel. Wrapping one around his waist, he pulled out a few more from the cupboard and threw them on the floor. He noticed Serena staring at him in the mirror and grinned back at her, one lock of hair falling in his eyes. Shyly she looked away, but then stared boldly back. He came up behind her and placed a kiss on the damp skin of her neck. He realized they hadn't said very much, but then words seemed so inadequate to the things he was feeling. She helped him take the candles into the bedroom now, and curled up on the bed, Darien brushed the knots out of her hair while the radio played something soft in the background.

Serious now, Darien shifted to face her, her long hair starting to dry and and curl at the ends again. Her sweet face looked up so trustingly at him, her eyes aquamarine in the candleglow. He lifted one hand to his lips and gently kissed each finger. Darien struggled with how to start this, how to tell her that he hadn't been considerate enough of her, that her body might already be becoming a woman in truth. Her gaze was steady on him, and he cursed himself for allowing his reaction to her to cloud his judgement. She didn't deserve this, the uncertainty and worry this would give her.

'What is it, Darien?' she said softly. 'You look so . . . strange. Is there . . . did I . . . do something wrong?' Her expression reflected her uncertainty and Darien kicked himself again.

'No, no, Serena. You've got it wrong . . . I'm the one that did something wrong. And I have to say that I'm afraid to tell you, that you might . . . well, not think very much of me.' Serena leaned forward and hugged him, her soft cheek brushing against his, slim arms wrapped around his neck. Darien hugged her back, unable to resist the temptation to hold her again, and allowed himself a quick kiss to the pulse in her neck.

Serena whispered in his ear, 'I love you. I love you. I love you.' It seemed a chant of protection and declaration, her voice low and clear. 'Always. Forever. Even if you forget about me tomorrow.' Leaning back to face him, she kissed him on his forehead. With a smile, she looked deep in his eyes. 'I'll forgive you anything. I love you. And I think that I always have.'

Darien felt his heart crack open and bleed for the honest, forthright way she gave him everything she was without asking if he felt the same way. That had always been Serena, to give without asking for return. With a deep breath he confessed his sin. 'Serena . . . I wasn't careful with you. All I could think of was how good you felt in my arms, and how much I wanted you. Serena, I didn't use any protection, didn't think of the consequences.' Darien could see that he was confusing her, that she didn't understand where he was going with this. He put it bluntly, 'You could be pregnant. You could be carrying my child right now.'

Serena's face reflected startlement at first, and to his astonishment, a fierce gladness. 'A baby? Your baby?' she squeaked breathlessly. Her hands flew to her stomach, and her eyes immediately dropped there, as if trying to see the proof of his words already swelling inside her. 'I hope its a boy,' she said dreamily, '. . .with your hair and beautiful stormcloud eyes.'

Darien groaned and held her fiercely, 'You're not supposed to like the idea, Serena. You're too young for that responsibility, and you have so much to do yet. And I'm a fool for making it possible. I was selfish, I wasn't thinking of your protection like I should have been.' His lips twisted and his voice became as rough as concrete. 'All I could think of was being inside you, being your lover. And now you might pay the price for my lack of concentration. I'm so sorry Serena. I never meant to bring you any pain.'

Her eyes still reflected the joyous idea of a life maybe growing inside her, and secretly she hoped it was. It would be so good to have his child, to have her body changing with proof that he was hers and she was his, that she held him in a way no one could deny. Carefully, she cuddled into his lap again, and rested her ear against his chest, feeling his heartbeat throb into her body. 'It's ok, Darien, I didn't think of it either. And I felt the same way, all I wanted was your arms around me too.' She blushed but continued bravely. 'I'm sure it'll be ok. Don't worry about it, alright? We'll just have to be more careful.'

He kissed the top of her head, and gave way to the inevitable. The fact that she seemed delighted in the idea made him shake his head in wonder. He cuddled her gently in his arms and contemplated the golden child that she was. It seemed so unfair that the real world would come crashing in tomorrow with no regard for the feelings of new lovers. Lips to her hair, he sorrowed for the parting that would be. He was sure that such a magical night as tonight would never come again, that tomorrow they would go their separate ways and have to settle for stolen moments away from the prying eyes of others. He knew Serena didn't appreciate the complexities of this, and he wished her to remain ignorant as long as possible. People could be cruel, and much as he felt for her, he knew others simply wouldn't understand. And to make things even bleaker for their future together, how to explain that he was the infamous Tuxedo Kamen, that until now his whole life had been focused on fighting to obtain the fabulous nijizuishou. Darien didn't know how he could do both . . . continue the battle and keep Serena as well. Darien was well aware of how chilling his focus could be, to the exclusion of everything else around him. And he knew that he couldn't give up now, the nijizuishou were too important, too vital to his sanity to let them go. He knew a feeling of inevitabiliy that he would lose Serena in this, that when his focus realigned to his primary goal, she would be confused and angry and then hurt, perhaps beyond recovery. And her love would wither like a flower away from sunshine.

Darien closed his eyes and tried to get his heart to accept that Serena could only be, should only be, a brief flare of light in the darkness of his life. He didn't think his heart understood all the overwhelming reasons why this couldn't continue, and he knew his body was conspiring against him as well. He sighed silently and gave up worrying about it; this whole affair had a feeling of unrealness about it anyways. He hugged her in his lap tightly and she gave him such a sweet smile that he forgot to care about anything else.

Darien coaxed her off the bed and drew down the rumpled covers. He unwound the thick towel around her and let it drop, following it with his own. He settled her into his bed just like she had always belonged there, and stretched his cool length beside her. Snuggled into her body, Darien let himself drift away, the extertions of the night catching up with the both of them like a wave of darkest water. At peace for the first time in many years, Darien slept.

In another part of the city, a dark haired girl knelt in front of a burning fire, the light flickering over her face making her seem like a demon in a play. Rei asked herself again what she was doing here in front of the sacred fire, but knew that her temper would plague her until she finished this. Jealousy had gnawed on her heart all evening, and she had waited until she was sure her grandfather was sleeping soundly before creeping down here. The sacred fire was really only to be used for good purpose, and Rei knew that what she was about to do was bad karma - but she really couldn't help herself. She had to know who that girl was, and how important she was to Darien. Her eyes reflected burning flames and the rage roared in her heart like a fire itself.

Rei chanted the invocations, preparing her spirit to recieve the images the fire would give her. When she reached her center, she threw open the doors of her soul and called out. 'O sacred fire, show me the temptress that steals the heart of my love!' Rei waited calmly, bathed in the glow of the fire. It crackled and spun before her, and Rei felt a weight, as if a wall was holding her back, guarding what she wanted to know. Rei pushed her spirit forth a little farther, and demanded again, 'Show me what I need to know. Sacred fire, I command it!' Never had Rei forced a vision as she did with this call, and she felt her spirit bleeding its energy into the otherworld between this one and that, trying to bridge the gap between her knowledge and her desire. Just when she thought she'd have to break it off or be drawn into the flames, the fire flared and the wall crumbled beneath the pressure she was applying. The fire leaped and then settled and a vision formed before Rei's astonished eyes. Darien slept in his bed, dark head bowing protectively over a golden one. Although she had guessed what was going on, Rei's anger leaped into white-hot rage that he could be so cruel to her. She loved him, and she had tried to make him see that he loved her too, and this is what he had done. Another girl lay in his arms, obviously having recieved more of Darien's attention than she ever had. Shifting in sleep, the girl turned away slightly, and Rei realized with shock who lay there in contentment. Mind reeling with the information, Rei's attention switched back to Darien, man who had betrayed her love.

Darien dreamed he awoke, the room suddenly stuffy and warm. It seemed like a presence of evil hung over him with bright wings and horrible eyes, something that focused on Serena with burning intensity. Darien could feel the hovering danger, the impending sense of doom about to fall and dreamlike, he thrust up one hand against the danger and he spoke a word of power. Golden light filled his body and eyes, dazzled him with its brilliance and the evil presence winked out, thrust out of existence with the force of power he had thrown at it. The light cracked and fell apart into a shower of fireworks, cascading to the floor in shimmering waves. In seconds it was gone, leaving Darien blinking and wondering what kind of dream he'd just been having. Something in his heart was burning, a flower that ached and warmed him. Then the sensation faded and Darien was alone in the dark again, Serena breathing softly beside him. The experience quickly faded and exhaustion hit him like a wall, and Darien tumbled headlong back into sleep.

Rei woke up, and stared at the ceiling in confusion. Shifting to one elbow, her head split into several pieces and she moaned with the pain of the headache. Wincing, she looked at the sacred fire that now burned sullenly in the grate. What the hell was that, she wondered. Never before had she been hit with such raw, unfocused power, not in all her questing through the fire or as the fighter Sailor Mars. Darien's power had flooded through the link she had forged and had slammed her physically back into the wall of the house. In the moment of that link, Rei had known that Darien still slept and that his power was reflexive and unfocused. Wonderingly, she realized that if he had truly been awake and focused, he could have killed her with it. The pain of his betrayal lessened beneath this new, overwhelming puzzle. Just what was Darien, that had always been so ordinary, doing with a power that could level a trained mind like hers? And what was Serena, of all people, doing in his arms?

Rei sat back on her heels and pressed her hands to her head, waiting for the pain to subside long enough so she could get back to bed without knocking anything over. Darien. And Serena. God, she never would have guessed that. Rei would have sworn on anything that Serena hated Darien for his condescending ways, would have been equally certain of Darien's low regard for the school-challenged Serena. Rei wasn't sure what she thought anymore, wasn't even sure she was angry anymore. One thing was certain, she didn't want to look at either of them until she figured out what she felt, and if she was going to tell anyone what she knew. There was more going on here than she had guessed, and that blast of raw power had upset anything she might have felt. Rei felt like she'd been kicked by a mule, and wobbling, she stood and made her way back to her lonely bed.

When he awoke, the sun was blurrily peering into his window. A crick of the neck told him it was still early, that it had been his internal clock that had woken him. His arm was asleep and he looked over to be greeted with the sight of Serena blocking off his circulation. His heart thumped and he smiled lazily, hair messily tumbled into his eyes. Carefully he withdrew his arm and waited for the pins and needles to subside. She murmured in her sleep, but didn't wake up from her dreams. Frowning, Darien tried to recall what he'd been dreaming, something that had a taste of danger, and a liquid light. Then it was gone again, and Darien kept only a lingering sense of something odd having happened. When his arm felt like it belonged to his body again, he rolled over onto his stomach and kissed her nose in her sleep. She wrinkled it, and subsided. He kissed it again, wanting to see her beautiful eyes, and this time she raised a hand and swatted him away. Blinking, he grinned and then used his finger to tickle her. Mumbling grumpily, she said, 'Ok Luna, ok. I'm awake. I'm going to school. Stupid cat.'

Lazily, Darien drawled back at her, 'I'm not stupid. Or a cat. Do you want to wake up now?' Serena's eyes flew open, dreams still flying through them like minnows. She blinked and then smiled so happily that Darien was glad he'd woken her.

'You feel like a cat,' she said sleepily. 'All warm and fuzzy.' She giggled at the image, and Darien mocked growled at her.

'Fuzzy huh? I'll show you fuzzy.' Mercilessly he tickled her until she howled, feet kicking and sending his covers everywhere. Breathlessly she yelped for mercy, and eventually he let her be, both of them panting and laughing, tangled in the covers like bugs. Impulsively, Serena kissed him lightly and then did it again. His eyes started to light with something other than laughter, and Serena's breath caught in her throat. The next kiss was full of reawakened desire and she melted into his arms again.

They made love for the last time slowly, taking the time to explore each other fully in the growing light of day, laughter and sweet words easily passing between them. The sun flowed over them like a liquid sea of light, and Serena revelled in the detail of his body and how differently it worked from hers. When finally he joined with her, she felt completed, like she had been missing his presence her whole life without knowing it. With steady pace he melded into her, his driving hips sinking her deeper into his bed and his kisses full of honeyed desire. She returned them with interest, and raised her legs to lock around his waist, completing each stroke with him in perfect harmony. The light swelled around them, glowing on the healthy sheen of their twisting bodies. When the end came, it came for them together. Darien cried his release into her hair, body shuddering with uncontrollable surges into her. Her soft voice pleaded in his ear and her fingers buried into his hair in a grip of passion. Quivering, they collapsed together, Darien sprawled over top of her and too deliciously replete to move. She stroked his hair and rocked him gently, her legs lowering to clasp his legs. He made a motion to move away, not wanting to crush her slight weight under his, but she held him fiercely and he desisted. The light rose and their breathing slowed until they slept again.

This time it was the alarm that woke them, Darien switching it off with a small curse for the bright day. It seemed that words were too full of meanings, too obtrusive in this private dream of love they had shared. He saw the growing misery in her eyes, but knew there was nothing that could change it. Silently, he helped her from the bed, realizing himself how lonely he was going to be that night, sleeping where she had been with him. They showered, Darien laving her sorest parts with tender hands. He helped her find her clothes and she dressed reluctantly, each item seeming to seal them away from each other. He tried to dress casually himself, cursing the necessity of being places today. Dressed, they stood facing each other in the living room, the light in the window showing him clearly the anguish in her eyes.

'I don't think I can do this, Darien,' she said miserably. 'I don't think I can pretend that you don't mean anything to me anymore. I don't want to leave here and pretend this . . . we . . . never happened.' She gulped, and lowered her head. Darien started to say something but she shook her head. 'It's no good for us, is it? I'm too young, there's too much I don't understand about you . . . but I love you so much I can't breathe with it sometimes.' She struggled for more words, but this time Darien was the one who interrupted her.

'Serena.' His voice was loving and she looked up, tears showing her in eyes. 'I don't know much . . . but youth is something you grow out of. Somehow we'll find a way Serena. We'll figure it out somehow, because we have to. I don't think I can let you go.' His eyes burned intently into hers and he repeated it, as much for himself as for her. 'I can't let you go. I love you. Outside this room, you have to pretend that nothing has changed, I told you that last night and I meant it. But we'll be together as often as we can, and somehow . . . we'll make it work Serena.' Darien meant every word he said with all of his heart, but a voice in his mind just laughed.

'Just hold me.' she breathed. She came into his arms as sweetly as ever, and Darien held her tightly. They stood that way for a long time, neither of them willing to let go quite yet. Finally, the embrace ended and Darien whetted his lips. 'Come on,' he said roughly, 'I'll drive you home.' With a sigh, she held his hand and they left the apartment, the door closing behind them with a sound of finality.