Ignore all inconsistancies with the game, please. _ I haven't actually finished it yet so...yeah. If things don't jive then just look the other way or something. xD Also, the flow of this story is a little skewed and I'm well aware. Normally I'd spend a couple of days moving things around, deleting, adding and all that fun stuff. I just wanted to get this one out and on the stage. I'm more interested in getting a feeling for the characters right now so this is dialogue and emotion heavy and is probably lacking some description.

Nevertheless, enjoy. =D

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"Hey Dave! Long time no see." The cheerful remark was accompanied by a hand making firm contact with his back.

David Nassau could only watch helplessly as the puzzle he had been carrying into the sunroom tumbled from his hands and landed on the floor. The wooden lid popped off easily upon contact and small, delicately carved pieces of the puzzle went skittering in all directions.

The Marquis sighed gently before turning his head ever so slightly to the boy who was responsible for the newly-created mess. He placed as much annoyance as he could muster in his look but the sides of his mouth twitched upwards against his will, all the same.

Rush had that effect on him.

Actually, over the course of the year Rush had turned into something of a distraction for the Marquis. He couldn't help but watch the boy when he was around and then wonder where he was and what he was doing if he happened to leave his sight. He had also felt the unfamiliar surge of rage when he had had the misfortune of walking in on Rush and...a lady friend. His presence had gone unnoticed which was really probably for the best since if that tramp had so much as blinked in his direction he most likely would have had his hands around her neck. As it was, he had finally managed to tear his eyes away from the scene long enough to back out of the room and make a running charge for his own.

It had almost come as a relief when a situation in Blackdale required the immediate support of his troops. He had given command of the mission to Rush and had seen him off at the palace gates. That had been almost a month ago.

And now he was back and every taboo emotion that he inspired had returned with a vengeance as well.

"Sorry about that, man." The simple words pulled David out of his revelry and back to the palace's sunroom. Rush wasn't looking at him anymore, which was good since he found it hard to form coherent thoughts while he was busy trying to peer into Rush's soul. Instead, the young commander had shifted his attention to the mess on the floor.

"Yes, well, perhaps if you would exercise a little more restraint when handling your Marquis then you wouldn't be sorry quite as often." The blond grumbled. One mental hand pushed all indecent thoughts away while the other got busy in catching all the butterflies that seemed to have invaded his stomach.

"Hey relax." Rush said good-naturedly, hands coming up in a defensive gesture. That impossible smile was still lingering on his lips in amusement. Apparently the wrath of David Nassau, Marquis of Athlum, had little effect on the boy.

"It was my mother's." He answered as way of apology for his curt tone. That much was true in any case and was certainly a more fitting answer then 'sorry Rush, I just get a little frustrated when I talk to you because you make me feel odd inside and I think I might like it'. Yes, that would have gone over well.

"Oh." Rush replied, somewhat subdued. His eyes cast over the scattered pieces with renewed regret. He knew that anything David had that remained of his parents was important to him and was subjected to loving care. "Well, c'mon, I'll help you pick them up. You keep this palace so clean, I'm sure they'll be fine." With that, Rush bent towards the smooth, marble floor and began picking puzzle pieces as promised.

Soon enough they were both on their hands and knees and well into clearing the floor of the remaining bits of wood. David managed to flip another piece off of the floor and regarded it with loving sadness. He could remember sitting on his mother's lap at a very young age and watching as her dainty fingers carefully put all of the pieces in place. He could even remember his father entering the room and helping her sometimes. All the while, he would be alternating from one parents lap to the others and trying, rather unsuccessfully, to jam unmatching pieces together.

When they had died he had thrown this puzzle to the floor in his anger. He had watched in savage happiness as the pieces had flown in all directions. He wasn't sure what his intentions had been beyond that point but they had never come to fruition. Emma, who even then was always only a step behind him, had gently but firmly seized the hand that still held the intricate lid before he could throw that too.

"Is this how you cherish your parents, David? By damaging something they enjoyed dearly?" He could vaguely remember the guilt and shame that had suddenly flooded him. Guilt because he had indeed been trying to damage something they shared. Shame because his only reason for doing so had been to retaliate against his parents for leaving him in the first place.

The next hour or so had been spent sobbing in Emma's safe arms and drawing comforting words from the powerful general. Once he had calmed down somewhat they had picked up the pieces and done the puzzle together sitting on the sunroom floor. It had taken them the better part of the day but they had gotten through it and David had felt a world better for it.

Ever since, he had used the puzzle as a way of channelling his thoughts and emotions into something understandable. If he were in doubt or confused about a decision then he would take his puzzle out, make his way to the sunroom, and put pieces together until he had calmed down enough and was comfortable with whatever decision he had to make.

Needless to say, David had put together the puzzle quite a bit over the last year as he tried to make sense of his feelings for Rush. As of yet, he had no answers.

Realizing that he had slipped off his into his own thoughts and had been staring at that one particular piece of the puzzle for longer then would have been considered normal, he quickly transferred the piece into the small pile he was holding with his other hand. He could feel heat rushing to his face as he contemplated what madness Rush must think of him after that little oddity. He kept his eyes glued firmly to the marble floor, he wouldn't be able to take the, as Rush would put it, 'wierded out' look on the other's face.

Blue eyes blinked as they connected with Rush's darker brown, all the same. Despite his efforts to dutifully examine the floor he had still made eye contact. He had the reflective surface of the marble to thank for this little paradox. Rush's reflection watched his carefully as if any sudden movement or reaction would cause him to shatter.

'I'll have the entire room carpeted by nightfall,' the blond thought vehemently to himself already knowing that he never would. It would counter the airy openness that made the room so welcoming.

In an effort to dispel the moment of awkwardness he flashed Rush's reflection a smile and shrugged slightly. "My apologies, my thoughts took over somewhat for a moment. Let's get back to work, shall we?"

Rush's reflection didn't move though and instead continued to regard his own with an intensity that was becoming unsettling. "What were you thinking about?"

He was caught slightly off-guard by the question and could only blink ridiculously for a moment. "What?"

Rush's eyes suddenly left his as the boy's head ducked inwards and he began to laugh. He straightened himself up on his knees and continued to laugh at his Marquis's bewilderment. For his part, David also straightened up and watched Rush with a slightly alarmed look as the boy turned a distinctly unhealthy shade of red.

"I don't understand." David said quietly knowing that the other boy wouldn't hear him over his laughter. Somehow, Rush did though and brought himself under enough control so that he could turn a grin in David's direction.

"Sorry, Dave. You just sounded so normal for a second. Sometimes I, y'know, forget that we're close to being the same age. You always talk so well and you're so controlled in what you do it's almost as if you're as old as Emma. But not just now." And Rush fell back into his laughing fit as the memory of David's perplexed blue eyes flooded back into his mind.

"Rush!" David exclaimed as he once again felt himself turning red in embarrassment. For lack of a better alternative, he picked up another piece of the puzzle and flung it at him. Had they been much farther apart then he almost certainly would have missed but no more than three feet separated them and the small chip of wood bounced squarely off of his forehead. It was Rush's turn to blink in surprise as he tried to locate the source of whatever had just hit him.

Rubbing his forehead he gave David a good-natured glare before grinning at him. "'Fess up, Dave. You missed me."

"Very much." The Marquis's agreed. It was only after the words had been said that he realised that his tone had been far too serious for the one with which Rush had uttered his part. The momentarily relaxed nature of the room evaporated and turned heavy once more as they returned to watching each other carefully.

David had the sinking feeling that Rush had picked up on the extra meaning in the words as a frown creased his normally happy face. 'He's going to hit me or leave,' David thought bleakly to himself and almost startled himself with how easy the thought came. He was so relieved to have finally stopped hiding the fact that he could feel no regret at his slip-up. He would handle Rush's reaction and then go from there.

Slowly, the young commander stood up, his eyes never leaving those of the blond that was kneeling a few feet away from him. Once again, the sheer intensity of the look was enough to unsettle the young Marquis and he closed his eyes once he thought that he could bear no more of it.

He heard Rush take the only step he needed to in order to close any and all distance between them and his heart tightened a little more. It hammered uncontrollably as he waited for the blow that was no doubt coming at any moment.

It stopped altogether when what could only have been Rush's lips crashed down onto his.

David's eyes flew open just as Rush's hands entangled themselves into his hair and pulled him deeper into the kiss.

'This...is not happening.' His mind insisted stubbornly but his hands apparently disagreed because they rose to grasp tightly at Rush's shoulders. The puzzle pieces that had been collected in one of those hands have been tossed off to the side.

'I should leave before this gets out of control.' He thought to himself though he parted his lips when Rush's tongue asked him too. It was at this point that his mind stopped working and so he instead chose to revel in the sensations that Rush was causing within him. He gave a sharp gasp as Rush's mouth moved to the base of his neck and bit sharply. His eyes fluttered shut once more and when Rush's lips came back up to his he responded with equal intensity.

This continued for several moments. Rush's mouth, hot and demanding and experienced over his. David made up for what experience he lacked with sheer enthusiasm as he let his emotions from the last year run loose and wild. His nails dug into Rush's shoulders even through the material of his shirt and David found himself wanting to pull the offensive material off of his body. He also wanted Rush to stop yanking on his hair so hard but he couldn't find the breath to tell him as much.

Suddenly, without any warning, Rush pulled away from him and stumbled back several steps. David gasped slightly at the sudden lack on contact and his eyes snapped to Rush's with something that rivalled fear. Had he done something wrong? He had never engaged in anything beyond a simple kiss with anyone, male or female, and he suddenly loathed his chastity.

Rush continued to regard the Marquis, both of them breathing hard. His dark eyes took in the sight before him and he felt his chest tighten with emotion. David was still kneeling on the floor and he looked absolutely beautiful. Sun poured into the room and caressed his flawless features with loving worship. His blond hair was in disarray from the abuse it had just undergone and his lips were slightly swollen from the same. His eyes though, his eyes. So blue and so very confused. Insecurity and worry seemed to pulse off of the normally confident Marquis as he struggled to understand what had just happened and what was happening now.

"You might...want to get your legs out from under you. I don't think you're that flexible." Rush said and David's puzzlement intensified. When Rush descended upon him a second time though he understood. This time, as well as stealing his senses away with his kisses, Rush pushed David backwards and towards the ground. His back and legs screamed out in protest and he quickly slid them out from under him. Once that was done, he simply fell backwards under Rush's weight. They collided with the ground and despite the groan of protest that snuck by David's lips neither one took their attention away from the other.

"This needs to come off." Rush muttered as he pulled away to breathe. David was becoming utterly irritated with having no idea what was going on and was about to say as much when Rush's hands gripped the bottom of his shirt and pulled upwards. His hands raised themselves above his head reflexively and Rush completely disengaged him from the material.

He would have protested when Rush threw the expensive material to the side carelessly but knowing fingers had landed on his stomach and the sensation was altogether too much for him. He shut his eyes and focused on the patterns that Rush was tracing across his skin and idly wondered if there was any significance to them or if they were just a manifestation of Rush's imagination.

"Hah!" His eyes flew open once more and his entire body jerked as Rush's mouth enclosed one of his nipples. A hand came up to toy with the other and David was sure that he would simply explode at any moment. He continued to writhe and moan under Rush until the other boy pulled away from him once more.

This time David watched appreciatively as the commander pulled off his own shirt in one fluid moment. It joined David's in being tossed carelessly aside. The young Marquis sat up on one of his elbows and reached forward with his other hand to place it against Rush's firm stomach. He raised his blue eyes to meet smouldering brown ones unflinchingly.

He knew where this was invariably going to lead and while he could have chosen a better place for his first time he could not have a chosen a better person. The floor would have to do.

He slowly lay back against the floor, never breaking eye contact. Rush followed him downwards and kissed him gently and thoroughly. He took his time to enjoy the Marquis's moans of pleasure and couldn't help but give one of his own when the lithe body underneath him back upwards with need.

"Lord David, I must speak with you." Both boys scrambled away from each other and swung their heads to face the door. By some miracle or another it was still closed but that had invariably been Emma's voice on the other side.

"Crap." Rush muttered, his grin returning to his face with ease. He dove across the room and grabbed his shirt before running for one of the rooms many windows. From there he could drop the four feet or so into the palace gardens and make good his escape. He had one foot up on the sill before he turned, ran back to David, and pulled him into a final crushing kiss. And that infuriating grin was still in place when he dashed back across the room and scrambled out the window.

David crossed the room and leaned out the window to glare venomously down at the reckless youth. "I'm glad that you get to walk away without harm. What on earth am I going to tell her?" He demanded.

"Lord David!" He heard Emma call once again and felt slightly bad for the bit of worry he heard in that voice. It didn't ease the dark glare he was directing at his feckless commander though.

"Just play it cool. She probably just wants to let you know that my unit is back from Blackdale." With a final grin and wink Rush was running down one of the garden's many stone paths and disappeared out of sight. David made a note to get even with him at a more convenient time.

"Lord David, open this door!" And now Emma sounded both worried and agitated. He looked around for his shirt and upon now seeing it in his quick search decided he would have to do without it.

"Yes Emma, come in. It's unlocked." David felt incredibly happy that his general hadn't thought to try and open the door herself. Bless her good manners. All at once, the young Marquis became aware that he had a rather prominent bulge in the front of his pants. He spun himself around to face the windows just as Emma opened the door and entered.

"Lord David," she said and the agitation was still obvious in her voice. If she noticed the disarray on the normally neat room she didn't comment on it. "I would like to inform you that Rush's unit from Blackdale has returned and they were successful in their objective.

"Good, I am glad. Though I really do have full confidence in Rush to get the job done." Unless they were discussing intimate matters, of course. Rush had certainly failed to get that job done.

"Lord David, why aren't you wearing a shirt?" came the placid question from behind him. For a moment his brain wouldn't provide an answer and then he finally managed to grasp at something.

"Oh yes, I was feeling rather hot and I removed it in an effort to cool off." He answered, hoping dearly that he sounded casual.

"Are you feeling ill, at all?" She asked since, in her opinion, the late spring weather had hardly warranted enough heat to be walking about half-naked.

"Not at all but thank you for your concern, Emma. It's appreciated."

"Not at all, my lord. Your well-being is my concern and I take it seriously. Would you humour one more question?"

"Of course." He replied.

"Exactly why are there puzzle pieces stuck to your back?"

----END----

Totally, completely and utterly un-betaed.