Table of Contents

Chapter 21 - Can’t Trace Time by A.J. Hall

The space between the birch-trees was narrow, a strip of uneven grass on the edge of the lapping dark waters of some sort of lake. They had been barely ten minutes out of Hassadar when Bel touched the light-flyer down on the water’s edge, flicked a switch which folded the controls ingeniously back into the dash, and waited. No affronted landowner emerged to drive them away: there was only the forest, the lapping waters and the enveloping dark.

“Good,” it sighed. Bel must have caught Owen’s sceptical glance out over the little clearing, because it patted his arm. “Relax. I set the canopy on full polarity. No-one from outside can see a thing.” Bel grinned, wickedly. “Just as well, given everything I’ve ever heard about this district. As I don’t reckon I could pass you off as my brother, and neither of us have hooves, catching us having sex might really shock the locals.”

Owen exhaled. “Great. I ask you to find us a quiet spot for a shag, and you choose Brecon-on-Barrayar.” A thought struck him. “I hope the locks on this thing are as good as the polarity’s cracked up to be. To begin with, coitus interruptus is against my religion and that goes for double if it’s inbred cannibals doing the interrupting. Christ, I hate the countryside.”

Bel turned towards him. Its voice was low, husky; lips full and inviting. “I’m glad to hear you’ve got religious scruples. I’d hate to think you were planning to pull out at the last minute.”

Owen raised his eyebrows. “Pull out? Me? Nah.” He paused. “Even if I am feeling a bit like the lesbian girl of Khartoum at the moment.”

Bel let that one slide off it. It fastened its lips over Owen’s, kissing him first with deliberation, then with a deep, drowning, passionate intensity that woke a frantic response within him that left no room for words.

The warm weight of the herm’s body was on top of him, thudding heart against his chest, their erections pressing hard against each other, a confusion of hands feeling and stroking and fumbling, the two of them locked in the same passionate tangle of intense need they had felt on the balcony, except this time there were no bright lights, no prowling security, only the tiny, vulnerable bubble of life that was the light-flyer’s cabin, screaming defiance into a vast, dark and hostile wilderness.

“I - want,” Owen gasped, his fingers gone suddenly clumsy, fumbling at stubborn clasps, searching for fastenings, sheer need focussing all his perceptions to a single urgent pinpoint.

“What -? Tell me - please - “

“To see you. All of you.” His voice was raw with frustration. “How does this fucking ridiculous thing come off, anyway?”

Bel’s eyes flashed with something that might have been mischief, might have been triumph. It broke away, momentarily, and with a deft wriggling movement of its shoulders the gown was a heap of discarded blue fabric on the cabin floor.

So that’s what happens when you switch the anti-grav off.

The delicate pallor of Bel’s skin had struck him even while Petrova Comienski had been carrying out her examination. Now, illuminated only by the dimmed light of the light-flyer compartment, it looked downright translucent.

The skin of someone who lives between the stars, but avoids the rays of any single sun.

“Christ! Anyone ever tell you how downright fucking gorgeous you are, darlin’?”

By contrast against that skin those cream silk knickers - Bel’s only clothing - looked almost dark. Owen slid a hand between tensely muscular thighs, sliding his hand up and down Bel’s cock, stroking its hardness through the thin fabric. It twitched and leapt under his exploring fingers, stoking the fiery need that throbbed in his own groin.

Now - now - now.

Bel’s eyes widened. It looked, for a moment, unexpectedly vulnerable. It arched its hips a little as if to give a hint.

“More - oh, God, please - more. Please. But - um - further back.”

Owen caught his breath. Oh. Now I see.

The thudding of his heart was deafening. Someone seemed to have turned off the oxygen to the light-flyer compartment, too. It was enormously difficult to breathe. The fine silk of the knickers behind Bel’s balls was sodden; his exploring fingers sliding beneath the fabric parted labia slippery-slick with desire. Bel stiffened against him as his fingers - grown suddenly assertive - plunged two knuckles deep or more into its cunt; repeated that, in and out, the heel of his palm rubbing rhythmically against its engorged clit.

Bel gasped, writhing against him, sharp teeth biting at his neck and shoulder. He withdrew his hand, raised his fingers to his nostrils and inhaled, deeply.

“You little beauty!”

He pulled off those idiotic knickers, tossed them aside, letting them lie where they fell. Bel fell back across the light-flyer seats, pupils so distended that the blue eyes looked almost black, limbs tumbled every which way, breasts thrusting up towards him, cock erect, blatantly assertive.

“Oh God. Just fuck me now, will you? How many times do I have to ask?”

Owen gulped; his voice nakedly sincere. “Darlin’, any more of this and I’ll be coming in my pants. Help me get rid of these clothes, will you?”

He’d chucked his formal tunic-top in the back of the light-flyer already; now Bel grasped his fine white shirt, ripping it over his head with a fine disregard for buttons or seams. He wriggled out of trousers and boxers, leaving him naked against Bel’s body, little electric shocks triggering along all his nerve endings as skin brushed against skin. His lips moved down the herm’s body. Blessing, for once, his lack of height he slid down all the way, so he was kneeling on the cramped floor of the light-flyer, his back pressed against the dash. Bel, realising what he was at, twisted that supple body, raising those long legs, resting its feet against the windscreen. Spread its legs for him.

His tongue flickered out, caressing the head of Bel’s cock; evoking more gasps as he flicked repeatedly, butterfly-light, along the infinitely sensitive vein at the back before he moved his lips down the shaft, over the balls, down and back, back where he ought to be. Back where he knew what to do.

“Oh - yes!” Bel’s voice was more of a yelp than anything else; muscles trembled in the strong thighs pressing close to each side of his head. Ignoring the increasingly assertive demands of his own cock he intensified the pressure, let his tongue dance delicately around Bel’s clit, dipped in and out in a flickering, teasing rhythm; until the herm in one intense, unexpected gasp came.

It was like nothing Owen had ever experienced before in his life.

Ever since he’d been fourteen, discovering sex for the first time, women had always seemed alien beings. Each individual woman remained alien - infinitely fascinating - until the moment he first had her; defined her, encompassed her.

Watched her turn into someone giggling about him with her mates, moaning about commitment, bitching when he didn’t phone, mooning idly - pointedly - past jewellers’ windows, becoming careless with the Pill.

When they stopped being alien, he stopped being interested. They had never understood that.

This - this was something else. This possessed depths of alien he’d never dreamt of. And he was quite sure he would never reach the bottom of them. And he certainly never wanted to.

He caught Bel in his arms just as the herm turned completely over, forced him back against the light-flyer seats, moved to straddle him; back arched above him, hands on his shoulders, braced in support, head thrown back, suspicion of an Adam’s apple outlined in the silhouette of its throat against the canopy of the light-flyer -

“Oh, fuck, darlin’, just do it!”

One sure hand caught his cock, guided it inside that tight, slippery heaven. The rhythm of his thrusts was so natural it was almost as if it had been hard-wired into him. His teeth caught at the pale skin of Bel’s neck as the pace speeded up - frantic hands slid over sweat-lubricated back and clutched at buttocks, kneaded into firm flesh - and the pace picked up as his need became more intense, Bel above him was responding to that, but Christ, where in the fucking Galaxy had the herm got that idea from -? And who could have ever imagined it would have felt like that -?

“Oh, yes - oh yes - oh fuck yes -!”

He came in a shuddering explosion of release and collapsed against Bel’s chest. The herm - almost equally spent - curled around him, pulled the evening dress over them by way of covering, hit some command on the dash which started to breathe warm air out into the light-flyer compartment. As Owen drifted off into sleep Bel was stroking his hair, muttering gentle, affectionate noises into his ear.

When he was able to think about moving again - he started with his left eyelid, rather than risk straining anything more important - there was already a lightening in the sky on one side of the canopy.

“Dawn’s coming.” The herm sounded like a soldier making a sit-rep to its superior officer. Assuming there was an army anywhere in the world in which sit-reps were delivered by someone with a leg slung casually round one’s waist, and a morning glory of epic proportions pressed encouragingly against one’s kidneys.

Of course, assuming “Captain Jack Harkness” didn’t invent his rank, he has to be strong evidence in himself that somewhere in the space-time continuum such an army undoubtedly exists. Somewhere.

Owen turned in Bel’s arms. Lips found lips with delicious, unhurried languor. He broke out of the kiss to murmur, “How long before we have to be back at the hospital?”

“I can get us there within an hour and a half. A bit less if I redline the drive. And the Countess told us to be out of there by midday. It gives us a couple of hours. Depending on how much you need to do once we’re back there.”

Owen thought - his hands were drifting over Bel’s body as he did so, which didn’t make coherent thought that much easier. But there was that one bit of unfinished business -

He made up his mind.

“Redline the drive. Get us back as soon as possible.”

Bel’s expression was almost a pout. “I have to?”

Owen grinned, the certainty ringing in his blood that he had done the right thing. “Forgotten my quarters, darlin’? Be a crying shame to waste that bed.”

He glanced down at the light-flyer compartment. Clothes were scattered everywhere, few of them in any decent state of repair. A thought struck him.

“Oh, and sweetheart?”

Bel raised its eyebrows. “Yes?”

“Just for me - you said the canopy was on full polarity, didn’t you? That means you don’t actually have to put your dress back on, do you?”

It took a fraction of a second. Then, wearing only an infinitely evil grin, the herm slid behind the light-flyer controls.

“Yours to command. Director. But let’s hope the municipal guard don’t chose to pull us in on spec. But otherwise - yes.”

They took off into the grey dawn.