To: LittleLinor

unedited, raw, and gilbert / oz flavored. Though there is some break and alice mixed in there for fun. Yes, another oneshot. Eventually i'll do a serious multi-chapter thing with character development and-- oh bother just enjoy this and review please?


Minutes of a Clock

It was gradually becoming dark.

Shadows began licking at the corners of the building—in every crevice, hall, and room. The soft pitter-pattering of toffee candies hitting glass resonated through the small seating room, breaking up the monotonous silence. A set of golden eyes settled upon the hand that was responsible for the clanking. Seated at the far end of the room was none other than Xerxes Break, looking rather deep in thought, despite the childish antics he was currently pulling. His right hand continued to repeatedly tap the edge of a wrapped candy against a tea dish, despite the look of disdain from the dark-haired male in the room. After a few seconds, he ceased.

"Is something wrong, Master Raven?"

Gilbert, who had been trying his best not to be so easy to read, scoffed. "Nothing," he murmured laconically, settling his attention on the adjoined room. Alice and Oz were doing something—reading something or another while sharing dinner.

"I wonder," Break hummed, tilting his head to the side. He said nothing for a moment before bringing his hands together, lacing them. The action went unnoticed, however, due to the excessive length of his sleeves. "Don't tell me you're still melancholy over today?" A smirk.

Gilbert pointedly scoffed. He then shook his head. "He was careless. I got upset. That's all."

Break rolled his eye and leaned back in the chair, lounging further. His feet came to rest on the tea-table, highly obnoxiously. "That seemed a bit more than upset," he responded and brought a finger to his lips, as if in thought. "Perhaps my assumption that your fixation with your master was an obsession is actually not just a theory?"

Gilbert's expression did not falter—it was as stoic as usual. "It's my job to protect him—"

"One-track record," Break interrupted with a dramatic wave of his hand before setting it back down on the table. "As I have said before, if you do not tame that wild obsession of yours, it will one day pierce through your special person, leaving you alone…to deal with me~"

"Joy," Gilbert murmured under his breath and arose from his seat on the couch.

"Where are you going, Mr. Raincloud?" Break wondered as reached for another candy.

"Smoke," Gilbert answered automatically and headed for the door that lead to the small balcony.

"Such a nasty habit of yours. No wonder the lovely ladies never take an interest in you. You smell like an ashtray," Break commented absently and snickered under his breath soon afterwards.

Gilbert deadpanned. "I didn't ask your opinion. You're so damn insuff—"

"Your words wound me," Break taunted. "Really now, can you go one night without resorting to those sticks of yours?"

Gilbert faltered, subconsciously looking down at the jacket-pocket that contained the box of cigarettes. He frowned, hand groping over the area. After a second, he looked back to the Pandora member and offered a weak glare. "It doesn't matter. It's not doing anyone any harm."

"Besides yourself," Break answered.

"Leaving now," Gilbert responded apathetically and offered a mock wave before walking over to the door. Before he could wrench it open and step outside into the cool night, he was stopped. By a voice, that is.

"Is Gil going outside?"

"I do believe so. He was raining on my parade again—as usual—so I decided he'd have to sleep outside tonight."

Gilbert glanced over his shoulder, brow cocked. His gaze swept past Break to Oz who was standing beside the ashen-haired male, hands locked innocently behind his back. The Nightray's earlier tension returned. How could Oz be so careless? How could he be so cavalier when it came to his own life? It really grated on the older's nerves.

"That's--!" Gilbert began when Break's words processed in his mind. A low, inaudible growl began to surface from his throat. The nerve of that guy!—

"Really?" Oz grinned playfully and looked across the room to his friend. Their gazes met and Gilbert's look of imminent murder faded. The blonde grinned wider and rocked on the balls of his feet. "But Gil will catch a cold if he sleeps outside. Please reconsider, Break~"

Gilbert deflated—and sighed. "Oz, don't encourage him," he muttered, hand rising to rub at his temples. Oh he felt a headache coming on all right.

"What are you two arguing about?"

Ah yes, another reason for a headache.

Alice had entered the room a few seconds prior and was now standing beside Oz, passing a look between the sniggering Break and the brooding Gilbert. Automatically, she crossed her arms. "Seaweed head, I demand an answer," she scoffed. She waited a good two seconds before turning to Break. "Stupid clown, why are you grinning like that?!"

Oz paled a fraction and lifted a hand to sheepishly rub at the nape of his neck. "Ah, Alice. Maybe—" he began but was cut short when Alice's balled up fist met his head.

"Shut up, stupid servant. I was in the middle of a conversation," she muttered, though her harsh words were accented with an almost warm undertone. It was a marvel how contradictive the young Chain could be sometimes.

"So abusive," Break noted from his seat and sat up some. "We were merely discussing Raven's smoking habits. No arguments here, Miss Rabbit."

Alice did not look convinced and merely lifted her nose up. "Well, it's annoying," she decided, ignoring Oz's silent whines from her earlier assault. "I'm going to bed."

"Oh?" Break arched a brow and smirked. "Did today's events tire you that much?"

Alice rolled her eyes. "As if it matters to you, clown," she mumbled and walked over to the hallway, glancing over her shoulder. "If you stay up late and are tired tomorrow, it's off with your head," she concluded to no one in particular and headed down the hall, yawning quietly when her back was turned to the others. Always strong in the face of others, she believed.

Break watched her go with a soft noise of amusement. "And the Queen, once again, has spoken."

Oz smiled, the look of mock pain having disappeared. "I think it's cute," he objected and looked down the hall Alice had disappeared down.

Gilbert sighed and turned back to the door. "I'll be outs—"

"Ah, that reminds me. Gil, do you have a minute?"

Foiled again.

Gilbert paused, fingers lingering over the handle to the door. He frowned at the glass, uncertain of what to say. Well, it was Oz and—"Of course," he responded before he had time to think and turned around.

"I'll leave you two to your conversation, then. It is getting late," Break decided as he arose from his seat, taking his teacup and plate with him. He offered the pair a mock bow before heading away from the seating room, off into a deeper part of the building.

Silence fell upon the pair. Amazing how a room could go from conflict to utter silence in a few seconds.

"…Is Gil still mad?"

And the ice was broken—or rather, refrozen, perhaps.

"Mad?" Gilbert looked to Oz, a look of confusion on his face. "Oz, I never said I was mad," he began, almost hesitantly. Damnit, he had given off the wrong impression, again.

"Ah…I thought you were," Oz answered in a murmur and rubbed at his neck again. Wordlessly, he passed over to the couch and took a seat, flopping down like a child would. After a second, he gestured for Gilbert to take a seat beside him. Eventually, Gilbert conceded and sat down.

"…Why did you think I was upset?" Gilbert questioned when a minute or two had gone by.

Oz's hands laced in his lap, green gaze cast down on the floor. The boy's shoulders then rolled into a shrug. "Gil had a scary look on his face that he sometimes gets when he's mad or annoyed," Oz explained and peeked a glance at Gilbert. "Kind of like this…" And Oz imitated it, looking highly ridiculous on purpose.

"…That's not funny," Gilbert said with a frown and shook his head. He brought his hand up, out of habit, to hide his face as he spoke. "I wasn't upset, so to speak. Just…alarmed."

"Alarmed?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Because."

"Because why, Gil~?"

"Because what you did was….careless." There, he had said it.

"…Ah."

Once again, the room was silent. Perhaps it was better when the four of them had been bickering? Gilbert brought his fingers awkwardly through his messy hair. Once done, he dropped his hand and waited for Oz to continue. To comment. But the words never came. Instead, all the Nightray could hear was the soft rain outside. Maybe it was a good idea that he hadn't decided to go out after all.

"I was trying to help," Oz finally started up again, a small smile on his lips. "I figured that I had to try harder this time. I couldn't help that girl from the abyss…but I thought this time would be different," he explained, the smile never faltering. It was a bit unnerving. "I wanted to help but I guess I'm not that strong after all, heh~"

Gilbert averted his gaze. "Putting your own life at risk isn't really any better, Oz."

"Ah…" Oz didn't refute nor agree to that.

Gilbert knew where this conversation was going. "It was careless and you could have easily gotten hurt."

"But I didn't," Oz answered and cheerfully looked to Gilbert. "And it's over now. We're all safe." He nodded to his own chipper words. "So why is Gil still tense?"

"I'm not tense."

"Yes, you are." Oz smiled charmingly and tilted his head to the side.

"I'm not," Gilbert responded apathetically and closed his eyes. He really could have gone for a damn smoke.

"I wonder why Gil would be lying to me," Oz pondered aloud and leaned his chin into his palm, watching Gilbert carefully.

"I told you, I'm not tense."

"Gil needs to learn how to relax," Oz decided and shifted closer on the couch. "And stop worrying so much," he added on in a thoughtful hum before smiling again. Gilbert always did have the most amusing facial expressions. He was quite fun to watch.

"I worry just enough," Gilbert refuted and shook his head. He cracked open an eye to gaze at Oz. The boy was suddenly a lot closer and—oh he had that crafty look on his face he normally wore when he was up to no good. The Nightray tensed further, if at all possible.

"If you keep worrying so much you'll get grey hairs," Oz pointed out and lifted a hand up to prod at Gilbert's hair.

At once, the Nightray batted the hand away. "I'll get them eventually."

Oz frowned, dramatically, and brought his hand back down, though not entirely, letting it linger on his friend's shoulder. "Well…yes. But you'll get them sooner if you don't stop worrying all the time."

It was an uphill battle, really. "…Whatever you say, Oz."

"Hm…if that's the case, then you agree you are tense?"

Smirk.

Gilbert sighed. "No, that's not what I meant—" he began in a grumble but was cut short when Oz's hand flexed on his shoulder, giving the tense area a soft squeeze. He faltered. "…Oz?"

"Ah, you really are tense," Oz murmured, mostly to himself. "Gil needs to relax right away before he croaks and dies from an ulcer!"

"…That's a bit extreme."

"Not really." Another dark, Oz-like smirk.

Gilbert wasn't sure what to say and just looked at Oz with an expression mixed between confusion and slight apprehension. He never really knew what to expect with Oz. Neither said anything for a moment. Gilbert ended up scoffing and shutting his eyes again, forgetting what he had originally wanted to say. Sometimes that just happened. Especially around Oz.

"Just imagine a cake," Oz began after a moment, fingers beginning to massage his friend's shoulder.

And it was quite hard to focus with that surprisingly pleasant touch. "A cake?..."

"Yes, a cake. Vanilla~" Oz agreed, beaming brightly at his friend, despite the other's eyes being tightly shut.

"Why?" This ought to be good.

"It'll relax you. And it's delicious," Oz answered with a thoughtful hum at the end.

"…I don't even really like cake. I just make it because Break and you…" He trailed off and sighed in defeat.

"How nice."

"…right."

Oz giggled softly under his breath and continued with the impromptu massage, watching Gilbert's expression quietly. The other hadn't relaxed at all and it was quite the mystery to the Bezarius. Whenever the maids had given him massages he relaxed, so why was Gilbert still tense? Why was he such an enigma all the time?

"I wonder why Gil is so tense," Oz pondered aloud yet again, shifting onto his knees this time. He did not break contact and only added to it, mouth close to Gilbert's ear. He held back a laugh and continued. "Won't you tell me? I promise I won't tell anyone~"

Gilbert stiffened. He hadn't…been expecting that one. "I'm not tense," he reiterated for the thirtieth time, it felt like.

"You keep saying that but I don't believe you," Oz argued. "Did Break upset you?"

"No. I told you, I'm not tense. I was just bothered by earlier but I'm fine now, Oz." He really wasn't in the mood to argue. Especially with Oz.

"Ah…" Oz didn't sound convinced and therefore did not move out of Gilbert's personal-space bubble. "There must be a reason, because it's obvious you are tense." A small pout.

"…You don't give up, do you?" A sigh.

Oz grinned mischievously to himself. "Well, if Gil doesn't want to tell me, that's fine too! I'll just help him relax some, then. And if cake doesn't help…what about imagining a pretty girl?"

Gilbert arched a brow, a golden eye slipping open once more. "…What?"

"A pretty girl," Oz repeated with a bold smile, breath warm against Gilbert's ear.

It was highly distracting. Gilbert remained silent, eye shutting again, as if actually listening to Oz's words. Really, he was just trying to regain his composure. It had been ten years and his master still found a way to make him uncomfortable and metaphorically squirm. It was truly embarrassing. He was a proud Nightray now and…and having Oz make him such a flustered mess wasn't expectable at all. God damnit.

"It's not helping, Oz."

Oz huffed again and shifted away from Gilbert's ear—at last. "Well, you have to do more than just imagine a pretty girl," he decided and leaned against Gilbert's side, twisting his body a bit so he could look at his friend's face straight on.

Gilbert opened his eyes—really a bad idea—and blinked. "What?"

"Imagine…" Oz began, the mischievous glimmer in his eyes returning. "That you just gave her a rose, yes," he decided and playfully winked, "And she's blushing and smiling~ Because Gil is just that suave," he continued, watching Gilbert carefully, "And then you say something really sweet to her, or maybe give her some cake, and then she does…" Oz's hand lifted into the air and lightly touched Gilbert's hair, brushing back his bangs. "This," he finished.

Gilbert said nothing, face noticeably paler. "She wouldn't do that, Oz." Nice comeback. Really.

"Ah…" Oz grinned, a bit sadistically this time, and leaned closer. "And then…" He was close, very close. Why so close? "She asks you…why so tense?~" Oz couldn't help but laugh afterwards.

Gilbert wasn't amused. "…Damnit, I'm not tense!" And if Oz wasn't so close he probably would have flailed his arms about in irritation and defeat and utter submission.

"Oh? Oh really?" Oz smiled beautifully and remained close. He pondered for a second, an idea sparking in the youth's mind before he spoke again, still leaning closer. Hell, by now he was practically half on Gilbert's lap. "It's never nice to lie to a girl, Gil. That's rule one." His lips, rather accidentally or on purpose, brushed against his friend's cheek as he said each and every syllable, letter.

And once more, Gilbert's face drained of colour. "Oz, I didn't ask for advice…" Shifting. Awkward. Why did Oz do this, damnit?

Oz looked contemplative for a second before grinning and meeting Gilbert's gaze. "That's too bad, Gil, because I feel rather generous today."

"Generous?" Oh dear.

Oz laughed softly under his breath, barely audible, and nodded. "…Gil's breathing really fast, why?"

Gilbert wasn't aware of such a thing until Oz pointed it out. He wasn't sure what to say so remained silent, mind racing about in a million different directions.

Unsatisfied with his answer, Oz brought his hand up to Gilbert's hair again, allowing his slender fingers to trace through it. "Gil needs to stop worrying so much…" His voice became quieter. "…Even though I appreciate the concern, I don't want you to worry." Because I'm not worth it. Definitely not worth it. Not worth you.

"You…"

"Shh," Oz ordered, the smile back, even though it was fake. He brought his hand down from Gilbert's unexpectedly soft hair, to his face. "Gil…" he began, "…I know you won't admit to being tense, for whatever reason, but can you at least tell me why you're breathing so heavily and much?"

Gilbert's stomach dropped, but it wasn't entirely unpleasant. "That's…" The Nightray looked stoic but then faltered, flustered again. It was amusing how he could revert to the old days of games and teasing so easily.

"Please?"

"Oz…"

"It's okay. I won't laugh, promise!" Oz whispered encouragingly with another grin, fingers absently stroking along his friend's cheek, clearly memorized.

"…I was once told that people breathe for various reasons," Gilbert murmured, refusing to make eye-contact.

"Oh?"

"The main reason is to live. We all need air to survive, after all... The second reason was more than that. You breathe because you have a reason to live….to continue surviving and remaining in this world."

Oz's gaze softened. He chose not to interrupt.

Gilbert looked conflicted, flustered, and downright young again. "And I suppose it's natural that I breathe more…rapidly when I'm around you."

Oz absently licked his lips, watching Gilbert with a small nod.

"Because…if every breath I took promised me another minute with you…" He trailed off, unable to finish the sentiment, clearly too embarrassed.

Silence befell.

Oz blushed faintly, not having expected that. "…Ah." It was becoming a generic response. He remained quiet for a moment, allowing the weight, warmth, and conviction of those words to set in. Once they had, the playful look was back. Gilbert, who was still looking away, almost regretting saying such embarrassing things, was none the wiser to the look.

"But what if you gave those breaths to someone else?" Oz inquired.

Gilbert's brows furrowed. "…What?"

"If you gave all those breaths to someone else, wouldn't that be just as nice as ensuring more time with them?" Oz questioned with a bold grin.

Gilbert finally looked back. He was met with a pair of glittering green eyes. Cue the blush, again. "…I suppose," he muttered.

"Then Gil can be generous too," Oz whispered, voice trailing off as he brought his lips closer to his friend's, "and share his plethora of breaths?..."

Gilbert said nothing, breath hitching accordingly. His heart pounded in his ears, the blood pulsing in every which direction and—and Oz was kissing him. For heaven's sake, Oz, the womanizer and playful young little gentleman was kissing his best friend, no his servant, and…and why was Oz so much more versed and natural at this?

Gilbert fell into rhythm after a moment, still too far lost in stun and old submissive habits to take charge. He allowed the blonde to gently kiss him—a roll of the lips, a small peck here, a small nip there, ah and a brazen suck there and—and was that Oz's tongue? Yes, yes it was. It was warm and wet and it made shivers shoot down Gilbert's spine when it touched his lips and peeked past them, all but prying them open. It felt good. It felt really good and he hadn't a clue why Oz was doing it but—but he doubted he really needed a reason.

Oz's hand found Gilbert's after a second, interlacing their fingers tightly. His tongue poked curiously at Gilbert's inert, speechless one. Considering there were no words upon either, the muscles easily moved about one another, giving their owners equally strong and shudder-inducing sensations. Somewhere along the way Oz had oh-so nonchalantly slid upon his friend's lap, knees pressed on either side of them, almost in a straddle. The back of the couch supported Gilbert, ultimately trapping him, allowing his master to do as he pleased.

And that wasn't really a bad thing, because Oz's other hand had began dancing down his friend's neck. A soft moan grew in the back of Gilbert's throat as his hand lifted, almost hesitantly, and touched the small of Oz's back. He was warm. He was warm and knew what he wanted and—

And when Oz broke the kiss, eyes shimmering mischievously, proud, and like the imp he was, Gilbert found it hard to breathe anymore.

"Where…" Did he learn that?

Oz laughed quietly, out of breath himself. "…Gil is still Gil," he concluded, a small drip of saliva falling from his lips. He wasn't embarrassed, but the Nightray seemed to be by the hefty blush on his face. It was truly a sight to see Gilbert like this after so long.

"Though…" Oz's voice took on a cadence once more. "…I'm still a bit short on breath," he said softly. "Can Gil spare a few more?"

No sense. This made no sense and yet all the sense and …and well… And all Gilbert could do was nod, his sharp words and harsh attitude having melted away. And further away when Oz kissed him again, curious, eager to learn more, and happy. Because Gilbert was the last thing he had from his own time. Something familiar, even if he had changed. Something he could hold on to. And for now that was enough.

I'd give my last breath to you, Oz, if it meant you'd live one day longer.