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despite the warning signs

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"Come with every wound and every woman you’ve ever loved; every lie you’ve ever told and whatever it is that keeps you up at night. Every mouth you’ve punched in, all the blood you’ve ever tasted. Come with every enemy you’ve ever made and all the family you’ve ever buried and every dirty thing you’ve ever done; every drink that’s burnt your throat and every morning you’ve woken with nothing and no one. Come with all your loss, your regrets, sins, memories, black outs, secrets. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than you."

Warsan Shire


She’s frantic, scrambling for an entirely different sort of weak spot in his armor, growling as she skitters over seams and hinges but no yavving clasps.

“Off,” she hisses. “Off.

He chuckles softly and digs into her hips in retaliation. It should be an assertion of his thrice-over-hers strength; any other time she’s been close enough to a body like his to feel the few-degree difference in body temperature, it has been. But Damar’s the one shoved into the bulkhead, steady but pliant, while she thrums like a finger poised on a rifle trigger. She wants the breastplate off. She wants him here, shoved against the wall. She wants him tearing her clothes off on the storage room floor.

His warm breath, smoky and spiced from red-leaf tea, heats her jaw as he traces a line over her kicking pulse and behind her ear. He captures the lobe between his teeth. His tongue is too rough to be Bajoran or Human, his aural ridges press too sharply against her cheek, the space between his legs flush and flat against hers. The hard planes of his broad, corded chest under her hands thrill her.

So alien. So completely, loathsomely alien.

She swore the second she shoved him into the wall and captured his stupid, hateful, pouting lips in hers, that she would never let him know how much she likes this.

She didn’t plan any of it. He’d been silent and glowering for weeks now, barely speaking to anyone, a flat, defeated look in his eyes. It irritated Garak but it infuriated her. After all they’d done, after all the people lost, how dare he admit defeat?

And so she needled him every chance she got. Cruel barbs, hissed insults, direct challenges. Anything to get a flicker of anger, a sneer, a returned insult. Something to prove he still deserved her time.

That last one she’d flung at him in the storage room of Mila’s basement amongst their crates of weapons only a minute ago.

Oh, Commander, we both know that proof doesn’t exist anywhere in the quadrant.

And it struck her for the first time — for the first time she’d known him — he was saying one thing and meant something else entirely.

His first shred of dishonesty loosed a new sort of fury from her. A rush to rip the truth out with nails and teeth, to gnaw truth down to the bone, to pry out that cold, Cardassian heart bare-handed. She’d thrown him against the wall, all thought vanished, nothing in her but blood rushing hot in her veins, and kissed him.

She swore she wouldn’t like this, but prophets he feels so good. He feels so good. Alive and vibrant under her hands, his permanent scowl gone. She wants more, wants so badly it aches, wants so badly it nearly buckles her knees. He counters every barbed attack with firm, insistent touches. Deliberate, slow, aching gentleness.

And he’s driving her insane.

He releases her ear with a scrape of rough tongue which trails back down her jaw.

“It’ll come off,” he murmurs. “I have faith in you to figure out how.”

She growls. She fists the underlayer of his uniform below the ridges and shoves him back. His head jostles back and he stares at her. In the half-light, bright for him, dim for her, black eyes stare back with blown-wide pupils. A deep blue flush stains his neck scales.

And that’s the death-knell isn’t it? One doesn’t escape more amorous Cardassian attentions without knowing what that shade of blue means. On Damar’s darker scales, it’s an inky beacon screaming at her. She’d meant to disgust him, rile him up, send him spluttering in anger to match hers. He’s not supposed to like her.

Like always, he refuses to match her acerbic rage. With every provocation or flung insult, he flinches, then takes it in stride and moves on.

“You won’t indulge me? You usually give in,” she sneers.

His tongue darts between his lips, leaving a faint glisten that catches the light. The urge to bite his full lower lip growls in her. She rolls her hips into his again, and the blue flush climbs. His breath hitches.

“What makes you think I would?” he says. “You miscalculated.”

“Oh yeah, what was that miscalculation, Damar?” Kira snarls.

His hands trail up her sides, firm and gentle and warm, while her mind wars over the contradiction. She can’t remember the last time the hands on her weren’t from a blow. He leaves her scorching, searing. He smirks at her shiver, all too clever. All too knowing.

“You think I’m like him,” he says. “You’re so convinced deep down, I’m just the same. That enough Cardassian foreplay dangled in my face will wind me up to the point of no return, and I’ll become arrogant and manipulative and everything you hate.” He kisses her. “You miscalculated.”

Rough tongue over her lips, teeth sliding, hungry and on fire and — something low in her belly clenches — scorchingly, maddeningly earnest. The taste of him is dizzying.

“Did I?” she pants. “A murderer is a murderer.”

“I was a soldier not unlike you,” he murmurs between kisses. It earns him a derisive bark of laughter which is quickly extinguished by the electric contact of his lips on hers. “A simple man of simple birth.” He peppers kisses over her jaw. “You can’t make me into a strutting Gul anymore than you can be a effusive diplomat.”

“For a soldier you’re no good at following orders.”

“Don’t tell me you disapprove,” he purrs.

Her fingers release his shirt and she slides her hands over his swollen neck ridges. He gasps into her mouth. She thumbs the plane of a scale and he moans in open, greedy need.

“Kh’iiiiira,” he hisses.

And it’s that sound — her name circumventing the UT, drawn out and aspirated, completely and loathsomely alien — that turns the sparks in her into a plasma flare. The space between the cargo crates narrows and heats, reaching the limit of comfort for her uniform.

She swore, but prophets, it’s good.

She paws and claws at him, his neck, his shoulders, his arms, his waist. She wants to touch everything. She wants all of him, laid bare. He gives almost as good as she does, but his hands shy from where she really wants them. She wants more. Her hand finds the crux of his legs, while the other fumbles for the zipper of her foreign jacket.

“You’re soaked,” she smiles, palming the ridge there and the swelling split between them through his trousers. “Don’t tell me you’re giving in?”

“Forgive me if I have a pulse,” he groans.

She shrugs off her jacket. At the brief loss of heat and contact, he grimaces, screwing his eyes shut.

“Really?” she counters. “Because from where I’m standing you’re afraid to give me more than a chaste kiss.”

His eyes fly open.

She unzips her turtleneck, revealing the dip of her throat and the points of her collarbones. Damar watches the zipper descend in raw, aching hunger. He bites down on his bottom lip, jaw twitching, strangling a moan. Panting, he presses his hand firmly against the soaked front of his trousers.

He palms himself shamelessly, head thrown back, eyes on her and her alone.

No lover has ever looked at her like that, has touched themselves so brazenly at the sight of her. Like he’s dying of thirst in the desert and she’s a bubbling stream. He’s a debauched vision of rumpled hair and dark eyes. All for her. And he’s barely touched her.

“Of course I’m afraid,” he chokes out, pressing and stroking his slit. “I like my limbs and prUt intact, thank you.”

She closes the space between them and covers his broad hand between his legs with her own. Dizzy with the sweet scent of his arousal, she strokes the split ridge between his legs in time with her fingers between his.

“I was starting to think you didn’t have one, Damar,” she says, over-sweet.

Hissing, free hand flies to her hip, claws curling into muscle.

“You’re going to have to work a little” — Her teeth lock on to his neck “—ah-ah-ahhhhhhh—a little harder than that if you want to see it.”

“Who says I want that?” she replies and drags her tongue over the bitten scales.

Damar freezes.

She pulls back and frowns. “What...”

Glowering, he swallows hard and twists out of her grasp. He readjusts his stiff breastplate.

“You’ve had your fun, Commander,” Damar bites out. He smooths his trousers, wincing at the wet stain. “I’ll take my leave now.”

He combs back his hair and leaves her burning amongst the crates, turning over what happened in an endless loop.

She hates him. She really, truly, hates him.

She’s not thinking about Damar. She’s definitely not thinking about the smoky taste of his mouth or the rough grate of his tongue over hers or the sharp, woodsy scent of his scales and how it took half an hour in the sonic shower to get the smell of him off her. She’s not thinking about his rippling neck ridges, swollen and flushed deep blue. She’s definitely not thinking about that soaked ridge between his legs and the cock hidden away there. Not thinking about what it would take to see it. Not thinking about how it would feel in her hands. Slick, ridged and gray-blue, from what she’s heard. She had been lucky enough to never see one.

She’s furious for kissing him, furious for liking it, furious at him for leaving her alone and burning up like this.

What had she been thinking? She’d been so furious. So furious she hadn’t been thinking. Shoving him into the bulkhead with her forearm to his throat, the resigned look in his eyes.

Don’t tell me you’ve given up, Damar.”

“I haven’t,” he’d said.

She’d been close enough to catch the precise blue-gray shade of his eyes.

Doesn’t look like it from where I’m standing,” she sneered. “You aren’t the first to lose family, so how about you toughen up and prove your rebellion still deserves my time.

“Oh, Commander, we both know that proof doesn’t exist anywhere in the quadrant.”

He’d been so close, her lungs full of the scent of spice and smoke. She’d kissed him without thinking. Of course she hadn’t been thinking. If she had been, she might have realized the kind of danger she’d put herself in. How long had they been stuck together? How long had she watched him bark orders and make hard choices and go through combat exercises? How long had it been since someone had kissed her?

He was right. She miscalculated. She thought he’d throw her off him, but he’d opened instead with a soft groan. A sound like relief — if it weren’t the opposite. A spark, ignited. And she’d gone up like flashpaper.

No, she’s not thinking about Damar.

Until he settles across from her over dinner and their eyes meet for a split-second. She knows what those eyes look like darkened with arousal. She knows how low and rasping his voice can get. She knows how his hands feel on her. And damn the prophets, she’s definitely thinking about him. Not even a spoonful of Mila’s bland, slightly gritty mash and the concentration required to swallow it can distract her from the blaring fact that she’s thinking about him.

About him on his knees in front over her, that plum mouth on her cunt. A rough tongue, sparking pleasure, flashes of plasma fire behind her eyes. That rumbling moan he makes, those breathy, sibilant hisses of unrestrained pleasure. Hungry. He devours her, hungry. And she’s full, warm, held steady. Strong, honest fingers press into her—

“Commander?” Garak asks.

She jolts, coughing a little on the mash. Garak, with a sympathetic wince, hands her a water ration. She drags it down thankfully over her raw, dry throat.

“Thanks, Garak,” she wheezes.

“Sorry for ah, startling you,” he says, tilting his head in that alien way, unblinking as a desert snake. “Damar and I were discussing the new patrols, I thought you would have a say.”

She glances at Damar, who is pointedly not looking at her. Definitely not thinking about it.

“I was lost in thought, sorry,” she says, and shoves more mash in her mouth.

Garak’s lip twitches.

“Praying, Commander?”

“Why would you say that?” Kira asks.

“Oh, I don’t know. Something...transcendental...about your expression. Very far away,” Garak smiles.

Kira chokes down another bolus of mash, staring level-eyed at Garak’s gleaming expression. An infinite stream of thoughts could be swirling there, all of them far too knowing for comfort. She wants nothing to do with any of them. She’s not Julian.

“Something like that,” she says.

It’s impossible to not think about Damar when he shifts to refill a whole second bowl and she catches the sweet, smoky scent of him on the air. Impossible not to think about him underneath her, bare chested and solid under her splayed hands, her thighs slick with his arousal as he’s buried in her and she’s full, full, full to burst, his strong hands all over her fevered skin, tangled in her hair. He licks a line of rolling sweat from between her breasts. The air smells like sweet, smoky oil. Lust coils hot in her belly.

Her fork clatters in her bowl. She stands and pretends she can’t see Damar’s eyes quickly take her in. Prophets help her, she isn’t some kind of hormonal teenager, but perhaps it's been far too long since she’s had the chance to take the edge off herself. Longer since she’s had a lover in her bed.

“Tell me about the patrols another time,” she says. “I can’t think, I need to go to bed.”

“Can I...” Damar asks, pointing to the plate she left on the crate.

Part of her brain halts with the shriek of a hull breach. Yes, by the Prophets, take me to bed.

Damar clears his throat.

Her brain restarts enough to speak.

“Yeah, whatever,” she says. That hand clawed into her hip only a few hours ago, and she’s thinking about it.

She lays on her cot, staring up at the ceiling and seeing nothing but the gleam of Garak’s torch where it briefly illuminates a floor joist. The piled barrier of crates separating her sleeping space from Damar and Garak’s corner casts a funny shadow, like a hulking targ.

“I’m going...out,” Garak says.

She can’t begrudge how much he hates the basement. It’s stuffy and cramped and it’s driving her slowly, steadily insane. It reeks of metal and dust and her two Cardassian compatriots.

“Don’t get killed,” Kira says flatly.

“I’m touched, Commander,” Garak says.

“Believe me, you’re the only person in the quadrant who can get Julian to wear inoffensive clothes,” Kira snorts.

Garak hums, and she can practically hear the narrow-eyed frown on his face.

“Julian?”  Damar asks.

“I am leaving,” says Garak, and she hears him pointedly shuffle up the stairs.

Kira laughs. The door creaks open and shut.

“Oh, Dr. Bashir,” she tells Damar. “He’s incredibly fond of Garak.”

Damar lets out a restrained chuckle.

She has to admit her plan — as much as it could be called one — worked. Once she returned to her cot, Damar and Garak had an easy, if argumentative, conversation. While she had a hard time sifting through their oblique historical references and literary allusions (Damar reads?) she gathered they had discussed what an intelligence network in a post-Union Cardassia should look like. Kira was sure Damar believed everything he argued and Garak believed just about nothing.

“Tain’s protegeé and an insufferable Federation doctor,” Damar muses. “He has to know what kind of man Garak is?”

“He does. But it’s Bashir who’s a more dangerous man than you’d think,” she says. “The world will be good or it has Dr. Bashir to answer to.”

Damar laughs again on the other side of the crates that give her cot a modicum of privacy. A place inside her heats at the sound. She likes his laugh.

“Optimism as a weapon.”

“That’s what rebellion is all about,” she replies.

His laugh trails off, and silence settles over them like a shroud.

They’re alone.

Last time they were alone...

She measures her breaths. Damar, who she’s definitely thinking about, lies two meters away. She’s an adult woman. A soldier. A terrorist. If she can kill her own people and set aside her hatred to liberate Cardassia, she should be able to control a fit of lust. She should be able to clear her head and forget about it.

She suspects, with a shiver, that if this is simple desire from too many nights unsatisfied and too many days full of adrenaline, she could forget about it. She had plenty of tussles in plenty of camps and caves. It’s just her luck that it isn’t simple.

And when she tries to muster up the loathing, the boiling rage, she’s reaching back for something that isn’t there. She’s grasping for nothing but memory. She’s scratching open her old wounds and asking why she’s still bleeding. And a part of her, long buried, says enough pain. I’ve had enough pain.

Despite all the warning signs, despite her better judgement, she grudgingly trusts and even more grudgingly respects a godless Cardassian bastard. A godless Cardassian with sweet lips and honest eyes and a hard, unyielding heart.

If you think any of this will make me forgive you—

No, he’d snapped. Don’t you dare forgive me. Don’t...ever.

Oh, spare me your false masochism.

He’d laughed, cold and anguished.

Commander, Cardassia’s resistance began centuries ago. Mine began the second the Union demanded I kill a girl in cold blood. He’d paced back and forth, tense as a hara cat. I bartered her life for a Union I no longer believe in. I was a good soldier, Kira.

Neither her nor Garak had asked for more explanation or apology. It was enough. They were here because of Ziyal, and Damar knew it. It was more than an apology, more than remorse. It was restitution.

She replayed that conversation sometimes, before sleep, especially with them all sharing a sleeping space. He’d said Kh’iiira. Earnest, insistent, and gentle.

Damar’s voice now lives in her head. Soft. It lowers and darkens, heavy with lust. Kh’iiira. Sibilant. He devours her with dark eyes, but he doesn’t touch her.

She squeezes her eyes shut, her pulse hammering in her ears. Oh, prophets, they’re alone. What do you have to lose? asks the Jadzia-voice in her head. Of course Jadzia would encourage this sort of shameless debauchery. Insist on her ‘living a little’. Waggle her brows and slip in sly comments about Cardassian lovemaking. Actually, Kira is pretty sure Jadzia would just give her a graphic account of Tobin’s affair with Iloja of Prim, self-lubricating appendage and all.

Damn. Damn.

They’re alone and she’s thinking about it.

She’s thinking about Damar’s hands nudging her thighs apart. Teeth trailing up her calf and nibbling her thighs, soothing the ensuing fiery half-moons with a press of cool, soft lips and a warm rasping tongue. A tongue that traces her cunt over her undergarments.  Exquisitely alien hands — pleasantly cool, soft as skin but more textured — pull aside her underwear. They trace and touch and run circles around her fevered flesh, pooling with arousal until they press into her. That tongue, tasting. Those fingers, curling.

Her breath hitches and her eyes fly open. Her heart kicks into her ribcage. No one is above her. Alone. She’s still alone.

With a jolt of reckless resolve she parts her knees and unzips her trousers. She knows he can hear. She doesn’t care. Two meters away, Damar’s cot creaks.

Hope you’re happy in Sto’vo’kor, Jadzia.

At the first touch of her hand between her legs, pleasure knifes up her spine. She’s soaked her undergarments. Yes, yes, yes. She dips her fingers into the damning evidence of her arousal and trails back up. With well-practiced pressure she circles around her clitoris.

Sparks. Stellar dust expanding and contracting in space. Pockets of gravity and its absence. Time moving, time stopping. Rushing. Blood pounds in her ears as she climbs higher and higher and higher, no longer in control of her breathing while she can hear Damar’s halting breaths from the cot two meters away.

She thinks about Damar’s heavy hands gripping her hips. His hands scraping lines into her thighs and crossing over all her old scars. His hands, his mouth, his weight, his heat, his slick, hard cock. And she’s not just thinking about it. She feels the heat trails, the exquisite slide of skin and scale, the unbearable ache. How’s that for imagination, Jadzia?

She wants it. She wants him. Hungers. Trembles. Touches in cadences. She bites hard on her lip to silence the keening cry in her throat. Climbs, climbs, climbs, until time stops and the sparks behind her eyelids ignite in a rush of roaring plasma fire. Every muscle seizes.

The universe narrows until all she can hear is the rush of blood in her ears and her own hammering heart.

Slowly, the world returns.

Slowly, she returns.

Her muscles spasm in rhythm. Tick, tick, tick.

She melts into the cot and sighs, shaky and relieved.

The basement’s silence creeps in as the force of her orgasm ebbs. Two two meters away, Damar barely breathes.

A few tense minutes pass and finally, breaking the smothering, stale and heavy silence, his cot creaks. He leans down and drinks a few greedy gulps of water from his canteen.

The sharp edge of lust is gone leaving a warm and undulating haze of heat. She shouldn’t be thinking about water trailing down his chin. She shouldn’t be thinking about him at all. But she is.

Damning evidence that it’s not a matter of simple bodily frustration.

“Is it too much to hope you’ll be nicer now?” he says, hoarse. “You know there isn’t exactly a wall between us.”

She can tell why he reached for water.

“I counted on your poor hearing,” she replies.

He swears, and unidentifiable by her translator, all she hears is a frustrated, heady, needy hiss.

Sibilant, furtive, he accuses, “I can tassssste you on the air.”

She curses her traitorous body for tensing in reply. Damn him. Damn her.

“It’s your own fault,” she says.

The renewed coil of want makes her reckless again.

My fault?” he snaps.

The cot groans as he sits up. She can imagine the outrage leveled at her through the wall of crates. But of course it’s his fault. His fault for being so maddeningly clever, so infuriatingly honest, so...so stupidly good-looking. Kissing her like that and leaving her to the whims of an unpracticed and therefore uncontrollable imagination.

She’s furious.

“Yes, your yavving fault! You’re a tease, Damar.”

He inhales sharply.

“I recall you having a slightly different opinion a few hours ago.”

“What are you talking about?” she snaps.

“You said you weren’t interested and I’m not going to play games,” he replies.

I’m not him. He’d removed himself at the slightest hint of disinterest. She doesn’t know if she wants to throttle him or kiss him for it.

Kira groans in frustration. Damn him. Damn her. They’re all damned on this sphere of dust. If he can admit being wrong, she can too.

“I suppose I...miscalculated.”

Damar falls back onto his cot.

“Do you have any idea what you tasssste like?” he rasps.

Kira flushes. Flushes at the implication, flushes at the sounds of that strangled hiss coming from Damar, flushes at his spark of anger. The basement is far too hot. Sweat clings to her skin under the turtleneck, which has reached its thermoregulating limit.

With pure, reckless insanity, she dips her fingers into her cunt again and, heart pounding, brings them to her mouth to suck the arousal off her digits. The taste of her coats her mouth, sweet and tangy like Kalanatha honey. Is this what’s on Damar’s tongue? Is it this strong? Would it be different for him to actually dip his tongue across her cunt and lap up the arousal steadily dripping out of her?

Her stomach muscles tense, and so does something far lower. Oh, oh. Her hips tilt of their own accord, thighs clenching. Heat runs through her, sticky like honey. Two meters. She can cross two meters and lay him flat, thighs on either side of his head, and take her pleasure. He can taste her all night long.

With a pop, she releases her fingers.

“I do,” she says, a little too breathy.

Canvas groaning under a sudden shift in Damar’s weight, he lets out sharp gasp. His blanket rustles. A zipper slides. Is he...? Did he...?

Damar’s soft moan of relief is unmistakable, and so is the sound of something slick moving.

He did. Yav. Drek. Fuck.

Kira feels herself tighten around an unbearable ache.

Garak can return any minute. She’s safer here. If she gets up and finds Damar’s cot, barely tucked behind a stack of crates, there’s no hiding from a barge-in. There’s no hiding behind her shield of hating his people, no hiding from herself, no hiding from him.

But there isn’t much hiding when her thighs are soaked at the thought of him in, under, around her.

“Damar?” she breathes.

His breath catches. The wet slide of his hand on his cock slows.

“Yesssss?”

“What am I to you?”

A pause. A ragged breath.

“A Bajoran terrorist, saving my people from the Dominion,” he says.

There it is — the lie.

“Try again.”

He makes a choked, frustrated sound in the back of his throat.

“Kira—”

“I am done coming up with good reasons not come over there and take you just as you are but that’s not really enough, is it? To run out of reasons not to fuck you? I need a reason to do it.”

“What makes you think I’d let you?” he growls.

Pleasure shivers up her spine.

“I don’t know, Damar, maybe something about this whole evening?” she retorts.

“I...” he starts. He clears his throat. “I...tolerate you.”

“Try again.”

The cot shifts.

“You’d give Garak a run for it as an interrogator,” he laughs darkly. “Believe me, Nerys, we’re better off two meters away. I’ll finish quietly.”

“Don’t,” she blurts before she even knows what she’s objecting to.

Nerys (Nher’yssssss). Since when does he use her given name? Since when does it tug at her chest instead of inspiring unmitigated revulsion?

Two meters. He’s as painfully aware of the distance as she is. The empty ache between her legs protests vehemently that they’re better off apart.

Finish quietly. No, she definitely doesn’t want that. She wants to hear him cry and moan and whisper her name in a filthy litany. She wants to wind him up to the point of no return only to pull back and then do it all over again until he’s begging her for release. She wants to take him apart. Piece by piece by piece.

“Sorry, Commander Kira,” he says. His voice drips with bitterness. “I meant no disrespect.”

With a growl, Kira wipes her sticky fingers on the mattress and zips up her trousers. She flings her blanket aside.

On the other side of the crates, Damar scrambles up, his own blanket bunched firmly around his crotch, to sit on the edge of the cot. His usually smoothed-back black hair, still tucked behind his aural ridges, is rumpled.

His breast plate lies abandoned on the ground, leaving him in a long sleeved black shirt that highlights a broad, ridged, muscle-corded chest and taut, flat stomach. Heavy thighs tense under his tight trousers and his haphazardly slung blanket. He’s strong, pipes a very unhelpful and very interested voice in her head. It sounds a lot like Jadzia.

Kira stands in front of him, hands on her hips. He glowers up at her. The stale, hot air reeks of arousal. Damar’s ridges are swollen and flushed, and when he opens his mouth to reply to her sudden presence, he gasps, blinking quickly. A darker rush of blue colors his neck.

Do you have any idea what you tasssste like?

Something breaks in her. Maybe its the adrenaline, maybe its the suffocating heat of the basement, maybe its that they’re alone, maybe it’s revenge for how he left her earlier, maybe it’s that she knows there’s a good chance this is all she’ll ever get before an untimely death and she might as well take it. Whatever it is, it propels her to close the short distance between them.

Kira climbs into his lap, rocking into the thick, hard line of his cock between them. Her hands tangle in his hair and pull until his mouth opens for her. She captures his greedy moan. Retaliation, retribution, for leaving her in the storage room alone. His hands are no longer timid. They pull her in and hold her hard enough to leave an arc of finger-shaped bruises on her backside. They stroke up her back to tangle in her hair. He tilts her neck to capture her pulse point in his mouth, hard and biting. Hard enough to leave a mark.

“I asked you to try again, Legate.

He laughs, breathy, and pulls back enough to look in her eyes. His lips are swollen. His eyes are black and half-lidded. She did this. She did this to him.

“First,” he says, achingly serious. “You need to tell me you don’t hate what I am.”

She considers the man underneath her, strong and alien and beautifully flushed, wearing the face of her enemy. She thinks about the comfort women, her own mother, Dukat and his men, their hands all over her. Their hands like Damar’s hands, their faces like Damar’s face. Only a little less honest. Only a little less handsome.

I’m not him.

An arrogant and unyielding man. A drunk. A cold-blooded killer. A cunning snake. A Dominion collaborator. Dukat’s right hand man. And yet, here they are fighting an occupation together. Here they are because of it all. Because he was drunk enough to reveal the mines and misplace his padd, because he was second-in-command, because he killed Ziyal and disposed of Dukat in the process, because he was so proud he couldn’t stand the Dominion boot on Cardassia’s neck, because he was cunning enough to betray the Vorta and the Founder, because he was cold-blooded enough to kill his friend on the bridge of the Jem’Hadar ship.

She looks at him, tracing his heavy brow ridges that shadow his flinty eyes. His eyes flutter closed at her touch.

He asked for her help.

He listens to her. He respects her. And when he curls his lip when he says Bajoran, it’s a private joke and not a sneer. Somewhere along the way, she started to respect him too. Somewhere along the way, she started to find comfort in their arguments, to enjoy his company, to laugh heartily at his dry, acerbic humor. And her eyes had started to linger.

They linger now.

“I have enough personal reasons to hate you,” she says finally.

Damar exhales. His mouth slants in quiet amusement.

“That’s more than I hoped for,” he says wryly. “And to answer your demand, even though you’re Bajoran, I suppose I might think of you as a friend.”

“You know I don’t trust you,” she says. Not true, Nerys. “You know I can’t forgive you.”

Also, maybe, not true.

His eyes close for a moment. He sighs. It’s a sharp, resigned sound.

“It’s enough that you understand,” he says.

He cuts through the haze of want right to the kicking organ under her ribs. Of course she understands, of course, of course. More than he knows. Her chest squeezing with the earnestness of his admissions, she admits he must understand her too.

He presses a chaste kiss to her lips. He peppers another up her cheek, her nose, her forehead.

“Yeah, it is,” she says. She means it.

He cups her jaw and rests his forehead on hers. It feels lightyears more intimate than her tongue in his mouth did. The gesture is a quiet sort of devastation. Never in her life has she been cleaved by such an earnest, gentle knife.

“I look at you,” he whispers, thick with feeling, “and I know you’re the one who will bury me.”

She looks up sharply into his eyes, searching the flinty depths.

Time stops, expands, reverses, inverses. The face across from her is young, is old, is familiar, unfamiliar, hated and beloved. Her hands on his shoulders ebb and flow the same way. Sometimes they are softened and withered, sometimes indistinguishable from reality and stained dark with blood. It’s like a prophetic vision. It’s transcendental. Where time inverts, she finds a sliver of tenuous peace. She’ll take whatever peace this war-torn life gives her.

Her heart kicks so hard she’s sure even Damar can hear it. Does he feel the inversion of space and time? Does he feel the same strange resonance?

“I will,” she promises. She brings her hand to Damar’s soft cheek, brushing over the bumps and ridges of his jaw and ear. “I will.”

Her thumb brushes over his parted lips. Hot breath puffs over her burning skin. Exhale, exhale, exhale. There’s a moment of suspended stillness. A tipping point. No going back, even though they’re already too far over the edge to really consider it.

The moment breaks and they collide.

He grabs her hand — even she can smell the scent of arousal on it — and licks a rough, fiery line from wrist to fingertip, before sucking her index and middle finger down to the knuckle.

What the hell…how in the name of — “Oh, prophets,” she cries.

His mouth is wet and hot. She bucks against him at the electric current of alien pleasure, unable to bite back her cry. His tongue dips in the web between her fingers.  Damar watches the flush crawl over her neck with pure, appreciative heat. He smiles, dragging his teeth as he releases her hand. He kisses her, open-mouthed and starving. She tastes herself on his tongue.

“So good,” he growls, canting his hips to rut his cock against her stomach. “You taste so good.”

He tugs at her turtleneck. She lifts her arms, lets him pull it over her head until she’s in her blue singlet. She isn’t any cooler without it. He laps up the sheen of sweat collecting over her exposed collarbones with unabashed hunger. He moves higher, marking her neck and shoulder with bites that feel better than they have any right to. Every scrape and claw and touch is rougher than any other lover, gentler than she can bear, and entirely obliterating.

“Touch me,” she says, trying to stay upright in his arms while the universe spins around the fixed axis of their pressed bodies. She tugs his hand to her chest.

“Like this?” He brushes over her breast, then comes back to trace her peaked nipple.

“Yes.” She can barely breathe. “Yes.”

His hands are sure, covering every inch of her breasts and ribs and back in the burning echo of his touch. Red claw trails spring up over the curve of her spine where he drags his nails under her singlet. Sending jolts of pleasure down her stomach, her nipples tighten to hard peaks under his thumb. More, more, more, taunts the gnawing ache in her.

Reaching between them and shifting, she manages to throw the blanket aside. She grabs him by the neck ridges. He tilts and steadies them with a hand on the mattress.

Kh’iiiira,” he hisses.

His cock juts proudly, fully everted, out of his unfastened trousers. It’s dark, gray-blue, glistening, and thick at the base where his undergarments bunch under it and where it splits a swollen ridge.

Definitely not Bajoran, her mind supplies unhelpfully. The retractability is familiar, but the pearlescent wetness, the color, the ridging, is — oh.

“A—ah,” Damar moans, staring open-mouthed at her pinker, hotter hand grasped around his wet and silken cock.

She strokes him up and down, listening and feeling for a change in breath, a tense of muscle. When she slides her fingers down to the very base, where split ridge meets his cock, Damar bucks and cries out in a litany of Kardasi curses. He holds onto her hips like a man clinging to a precipice.

“You think I’m treasonous, unrepentant and unjust now, do you?” she murmurs.

She continues to stroke the base of his cock. Exposing the vulnerable silver hollow of his throat, he throws back his head in a low, guttural moan. Unguarded pleasure. Kira feasts on all of it and only hungers, wants, more. Wants to touch him. Wants to find every point she can draw out pleasure until he begs for the heat of her body, the caress of her hands.

“Of course you are,” he says, reverent. “You always are.”

The low gravel of his voice does unspeakable things to her. It licks like a flame, hotter and hotter. You’ll be the one to bury me, he said, but Kira thinks he’ll turn her to ash long before she can make good on her promise.

His hands slide over the waistband of her trousers and fumble around for a clasp. He pops open the top button under her navel, then drags the zipper down, down, down to reveal the hem of her underwear.

“Off,” he says, tugging the waistband of her trousers.

With her straddled over his thighs, they don’t budge. They certainly aren’t going anywhere if she still has her shoes on either.  Wiping her slick hand on her thigh, she reaches behind her to kick off her boots. Her socks follow, one by one.

“Pink, really?” he asks.

She flings one at him. He ducks quickly, laughing, and it lands on the crate behind him.

She helps Damar strip off his shirt. The sight of his dense muscles rippling send another flush of heat racing through her. He’s all ridges and flat scales over his chest and the outer parts of his arms, but his stomach and inner arms look soft as velvet, catching the low light of the torch on the floor. Beautiful in all his alien topography, he glows like the silver light of the moon.

She wants to learn every square centimeter of him.

She trails her hands over his chest, taking in the ventral ridge running from sternum to groin. When she brushes her fingers over a divot set over his breastbone, he moans softly, arching into her touch. She slides her palms over the soft, iridescent, pebbled scales of his stomach. Muscle ripples under her teasing touch, impossibly dense and solid. A pad of thick muscle over his narrow hipbones makes a sensuous line to his jutting cock. Trying to memorize the topography of scales and ridges and scutes, of thick cords of muscle, of soft skin under her palms, her hands roam and roam. Beautiful, she thinks. He’s beautiful.

Chest heaving and eyes half-lidded, he leans up to kiss her.

“I could get used to you looking at me like that,” he says.

She laughs and twines her fingers into his hair to kiss him back. When her tongue pushes past his lips, he groans into it, and captures her hard and deep. By the time she catches air again, her head is spinning for lack of oxygen and she gasps, “Trust me, it’s just for you.”

Oh, prophets, the look he gives her.

She loses her singlet before she can even make sense of his expression. The air meets her skin and her nipples peak. His eyes take in all of her, pink skin, slivers of scars, bony hips and all, with reverent hunger. She could get used to that look.

“Off,” he gasps, lifting her up on her knees to tug her trousers down.

Their hands tangle in desperation and they nearly overbalance, but he rights them before they topple over. She stands between his legs as he pulls off trousers. Before him in just her plain, black, high cut briefs, Damar looks at her like a hara cat with a fresh kill, ready to devour.

Jaw clenched, his hands slide up her thighs. He hesitates over each change in texture, cuts and burns alike. A phaser, a knife, a slice of scrap metal. Her hips, her waist her ribs. Shrapnel from a bomb, a fall on hard ground. Her skin is a landscape of cruelty; his hands traverse her without reproach. With tenderness. As if she were a garden and not a war-torn field.

“Not too disappointed, I hope,” she says.

His brow ridges fly up in surprise. With a low, rumbling growl, Damar pulls her back into his lap, cock soaking her undergarments, and twines his bare arms around her for long and melting kiss. They’re chest-to-chest, stomach-to-stomach, thigh-to-thigh, with an inferno at every point of contact. He’s burning up. No longer cool, no longer any difference in temperature. Nothing left to temper the fire.

“Thin-skinned and furry is certainly new,” he says, raw with need. His fingers slide down her stomach, pink tracks following his blunted claws, to card through her pubic hair under the hem of her underwear. He smirks. “But I find you...incredibly...tolerable.”

As retaliation, Kira captures his bottom lip in her teeth. Damar hisses, tongue breaking the seam of her lips to kiss her, far more frantic and far less refined than those before. It’s teeth and tongue and sparks of pain and pleasure. She matches him with renewed hunger, hands scrambling over ridges and twitching muscles, curling into his hair.

When they break for air, she gasps, “You’re quite the shameless flatterer.”

“I’ll be sure to write you some poetry,” he retorts, and laughter stutters through their kisses.

Damar’s hand continues to slide lower and lower in her underwear until his thumb dips across swollen and heated flesh. Kira jerks against his hand. He flicks over the spot again, more deliberate. She bites back a keening cry that turns into a low whine through her clamped jaw. Fine scales slide and slide and slide over her swollen skin.

“Oh, prophets,” she pants. Pushing back against his vice grip, she reaches between them. She pulls her undergarments to the side. “Touch me.”

She lifts herself up to make space and after a bit of cautious exploration — not there, oh, that’s good, yes, yes — he slips two fingers inside her. Back out, slowly. In again. The pressure is exquisite. She stretches around him, pulls him in, greedy, hungry, more more more.

“Curl them,” she demands, and he does. A plasma flare ignites inside her. Her thighs shake. Damar’s thumb brushes over her swollen clitoris. Her hips jerk. “Oh fuck. Do that again.”

He does.

She clutches Damar’s disheveled hair. Sensation, everywhere. His scent on her skin, everywhere. His heat, everywhere. She collapses forward into his chest, her arms no longer holding her. With a slightly disgruntled noise in the back of his throat, he shifts her head from one side of his neck to the other.

“Your earring,” he says, still working steadily inside her. His breathy laugh tickles her cheek. “Was poking me.”

She laughs too and nuzzles the underside of his jaw leaving bites and kisses in her wake. The friction of his fingers heats her all the way to her ears. She cries and gasps in rhythm.

When he pulls his hand away, she whimpers from the loss.

“Damar,” she complains, frowning.

His teeth flash dangerously. Eyes glinting, he takes his soaked fingers and licks the fluid off them. Base to tip. Tongue parting them. Soft lips closing over them and sucking down every last trace. She can’t speak. Can’t move. Can’t breathe. Every last nerve ending is on fire. Simmer turned to boiling over.

“Bastard,” she breathes.

He grins.

She bites his jaw. A hiss of pleasure.

With his forehead pressed to hers, his breath hot on her face, he murmurs, “Tell me what you want.”

“You,” she breathes. “I want you to fuck me.”

His face reflects her eagerness, her want, her naked, open pleasure.

She captures his strangled groan in a crushing kiss, too much teeth and no finesse. With his hand firmly, dangerously, on the back of her neck and the other curled all the way around her waist, he rocks against her. The stiff swell of his cock slides against her soaked undergarments. She bucks into the glorious friction. Arousal both slick and sticky, sweet and musky, plasters his trousers to the inside of her thighs. She clutches his arm so hard her nails bite.

Kira tastes herself on his tongue.

“Like this?” he asks.

Yes.”

Tightening his hold on her waist, he scoots back on the mattress to recline against the heavy crate. He moves like she doesn’t weigh anything, but of course, to him, she doesn’t. They resettle, her thighs pressed tight on either side of his stomach. She pulls her underwear to the side and, trembling, every nerve ending on fire, lines him up. Anticipation leaves her shaking, thrumming, burning until she takes him in, centimeter by punishing, aching, glorious centimeter. So much of him. So slick and heavy. In and in and in.

“Fuck — oh, fuck —” Damar whispers.

She knows exactly what he means. Feels exactly what he feels. The sharp tang of pleasure recites yes, yes, yes like a litany. She stretches around him. When he’s buried to the hilt, her head collapses on his shoulder and she’s so overwhelmed with sensation she can’t move, can’t speak, can’t remember where she is or anything that brought her here. She gasps for air.

She shivers. Full. Tight. On edge. If he wasn’t holding her, she might break apart into stellar dust, nothing but atoms strewn across the galaxy.

He smooths his hands over the curve of her back, his thumbs trailing up to her neck before sliding down the muscles along either side of her spine. Each sweep of his palms, circling softly, relaxes her. Warms her. Pulls at the kicking organ in her chest.

“Are...are you alright?” he asks.

She opens her mouth, but all that comes out is a strangled gasp. How he’s coherent, she has no idea. Damn Cardassians. 

“Kira?” he whispers, unbearably soft.

“I’m good. More than good. I just need...” She shifts her hips a little to test herself. Exquisitely full. The fabric of his trousers sticks to the inside of her thighs, soaked.

A moan rumbles from deep in Damar’s chest. “Yeah, yeah me too,” he grimaces.

Trusting her muscles again, she kisses him. She gives him sharp and quick and biting, he counters with slow and deep and languid. She experimentally cants her hips. Her breath catches in her throat, and Damar’s most strangled, desperate groan yet meets her, followed by a veritable sermon of curses. She picks up a few. She’d never imagined them recanted in quite this context.

“You are a poet,” says Kira.

“Would I lie?” he says, strained so hard she doesn’t know how he’s breathing.

She tilts her hips again, this time rising and falling a few tentative degrees. Damar’s heart races underneath his thick scales. Again, she rises a bit higher, and falls a bit faster. The knife of pure, white-hot pleasure makes her clench around his cock.

A groan.

“Do you…” He grazes his teeth over her neck. She feels their pressure sink in, hot and sharp. “Do you have any idea how you feel?”

Another bite to her neck, closer to her shoulder and hard enough to bruise. She gasps. The feel of him around her, inside her, is all consuming. Her skin on fire. The room on fire. The sky on fire.

“You tell me,” she says.

“Unbearably hot,” he replies.

Again she moves, but this time Damar catches her hips. With this leverage, he rocks up into her. The cot creaks fiercely, but neither of them care much. Her mouth falls open in a soundless cry.

“Damar,” she gasps, scrambling to steady herself with her arms on his shoulders. “Oh, fuck.”

He sets a punishingly slow, deep cadence.

So good. She never thought anything like this could feel so good. Sweat clings to every inch of her. Slides down her temple. Down her neck. It beads and runs down her chest, the backs of her knees and the indent of her spine.

Breathing in the smoky scent of his hair as her hands tangle in it, Kira settles cheek to cheek, his ridges pressing in her jaw. She caresses his swollen neck ridges, sharp and biting, his chest, soft and teasing. Catalogs the rise and fall of his breath. His heart, kicking. Barely restrained moans, pleading and holding back at the same time.

“Is that,” she growls, frustrated by his hands tightening on her hips every time she tries to pick up the pace, “the best you can do?”

“Eager for this to be over?” Damar smirks, thrusting up just a little harder. A small cry of pleasure slips from Kira’s throat. “Because I’m rather enjoying myself.”

“You arrogant, smug bastard.”

“Flatterer,” he chuckles. “Should I call you impulsive, infuriating and stubborn?”

She leans in for an almost-kiss, catching his bottom lip between her teeth. A strangled, plaintive hiss. She smiles.

“Only if it’s the truth,” she says.

His eyes are dark, half-lidded, heady, and hazed with desire. Smiling, languid and smug, he says, “It is.”

In retaliation, she captures a swollen neck ridge in her mouth and sucks, hard. His cadence stutters. She licks and bites every last scale, from shoulder to ear and then all over again on the other side. Deep blue. He gasps and groans, head thrown back, eyes screwed shut. Prickling heat fueling the haze of lust.

His hands tremble on her hips. And it’s the tremble that catches her breath, makes her head spin, her whole body flare with heat. He’s as affected as she is, all evidenced in the tremor of his fingers. She wants, wants, wants. Wants him laid bare. Wants all of him.

“Oh, oh. Come, on, Damar,” she demands, strangled and keening into his fevered neck scales, bearing down with all she has to counter the fraction of strength he’s using. “Come on, come on, come on.

She isn’t saying please, please, please, but she’s begging anyways. Begging and begging for him to come apart. For some relief. She twists and clenches down on him. Claws his arms and shoulder-blades. Pulls his hair.

“You impossible — ah — infuriating — fuck,” he hisses through clenched teeth.

Momentarily, she considers throttling him. As if catching the dangerous gleam in her eyes, he slams into her. Oh, fuck. Phosphenes dance behind her eyes.

She curls her lip. “I asked you to fuck me, Damar.”

He makes a deep, frustrated sound. Fingers, trembling.

“You infuriating—” he pants, chest heaving. “You are going to be the death of me.”

With startling strength, Damar flips her down onto the cot. Her underwear is gone before she can protest being jostled this way. He nearly rips his trousers with the urgency to remove them and his boots at the same time. His underwear flies halfway to Garak’s cot before Damar crawls over her, captures her mouth, lowers himself between her legs and —

“Oh, oh, oh, fuck — oh, fuck,” Kira keens.

He bores her over and into the cot, one arm braced beside her head and the other clutching the back of her thigh tight enough to bruise. Damar’s hair falls over his flushed and beautiful face, his lips swollen and parted, his shuddering breath sweet and hot on her face. Forehead pressed to sweaty forehead, they exhale, exhale, exhale.

“Is this what you had in mind?” he asks.

Salt and smoke and the sweet musk of arousal fills her lungs with every stuttering gasp of air. Her nails claw down his back.

“Yes,” she cries. The angle is sharp and hot, hitting a glorious spot both inside and outside her. She meets him thrust for thrust, takes him in again and again. Desperate. Frantic. “Yes, yes, yes.”

Lips brush, light and electric. Quick sparks of contact. Soft, belying the very not soft way his cock drives into her.

His hand moves from her thigh and up her abdomen.

“You’re wonderful, Kira,” he confesses, tracing her cheek. “Incredible.”

She grabs the hand cupped over her jaw. Twines her fingers through his. Holding on. Curse her, damn her, condemn her. She’s been touched before, she’s been kissed before, she’s been loved and fucked and rendered insensate before but for the life of her, Kira can’t remember a single time before this. It’s glorious. It’s obliterating. Her hands claw down his forearm.

“You’re not so bad yourself,” she breathes.

She hikes her legs higher up Damar’s flank, opening to him. Urging him on with the jab of her heels into his densely muscled backside, he surges quicker and deeper. Her head falls back and she opens her mouth in a soundless cry against his forearm. His soft, graveling growls pour into her neck with sounds of yes, Kira, fuck, oh fuck, yes, beautiful, yes.

His hands slide up her abdomen and up to her breasts, her collarbones and back down again. Soft stomach scales slip over her slick abdomen. Strong hips hit the tender inside of her thighs. Sweat soaks her hair. Blissful ache. Sparks igniting. Prickling heat like plasma fire. Going up like kindling in the Rakantha hills.

And if it’s languid it’s as a shuttle crashing is languid, and if it’s gentle it’s as a brutal climb under the scorching sun is gentle, and if it’s wrong it’s as the body-out-of-time sensation of transcendental, prophetic contemplation is wrong.

Her body tightens, taut as a harp string, clenching. She holds onto his shoulders like a lifeline. She’s climbing, climbing, climbing, but there’s so much fullness, so much sensation that the precipice lies just out of reach. Sliding her hand down his chest, nails scraping, she finds the crux of her legs. Damar rears back from his forearms onto his hands, dark eyes focused and blazing, glinting, two stars in an inky sky. The shift hikes her knees higher. She can’t hold it anymore, not with the electric contact of her hand and Damar inside her driving all the way to the back of her throat. Climbing, climbing, climbing. Out of control. Out of time. Out of space.

She’s careening, hurtling, and when it hits, it slams. It lifts her hips right off the cot, thighs clamping around his flanks. His hand flies over her mouth to silence her open, reckless cry. Clenches hard around him. And he’s still going, riding her through the crest. Blind with rapture. She wrenches her head back and bites down on the meat of his hand, smelling her arousal mixed with the sweet tang of his skin.

Rushing. Blood pounding in her ears. Time moving, time stopping. The face across from her is young, is old, is familiar, unfamiliar, hated and beloved. Eyes like flint. Prophetic. Resonant. Something coming free. Pure collision. Stellar dust expanding and contracting in space. Pockets of gravity and its absence. And then, after what feels like an eternity of suspended time and floating, soaring non-reality, time restarts.

Exhausted, she collapses back onto the cot. All the tension melted out of her. She’s boneless. None of her muscles work, except the ones fluttering around his cock faster than her heart is beating. There’s blood in her mouth when he pulls his hand out from between her teeth.

They exhale and exhale and exhale.

He’s warm and heavy against her. Her eyes flutter but fail to stay open for long. The hand she bit pushes her damp hair back from her face. Kira’s heart kicks in her ears, and in an equally quick but offset rhythm, Damar’s heart beats against her chest.

He kisses beads of sweat away from her forehead, her cheek, her jaw. She hums in exhausted bliss. So soft. His lips are so soft. She moves to meet them with her own. This kiss is lazy and sated and drawn out in mingled breath and the gentle slide of tender, bitten lips. With incredible effort, she opens her eyes. She finds Damar staring back with that same indescribable look he gave her before.

Maybe a little in awe.

“Not bad,” she says mildly.

“Flatterer,” he says, his lip quirking.

She shifts her legs to rest over the back of his calves. With that movement, her hips and the cot both creaking softly, she feels the still-stiff press of his cock inside her. He makes a soft, plaintive sound.

Shifts as if he’s thinking about pulling away.

“Don’t tell me you’re too tired, Damar,” she smiles.

He narrows his eyes, skeptical.

“I wasn’t sure if you were—”

Flattened under his weight, all she can manage is a bit of a wiggle. It seems to be enough. His head falls onto her collarbone and a deep, tortured moan slips from his chest.

“I think I’m doing quite well, so how about you get on with it?” she says, twisting her hips again.

The mattress under her thighs is damp, the cot is too hard, and she’s on the tender side, but she can’t protest the feel of him, full and hard inside her. She’s not ready for this to be over. She still wants to watch him fall apart. She wants to take him apart.

He pulls himself up on his hands. “Really, I can finish on my —”

“I don’t think so,” she purrs.

She grips him so hard with her thighs he falls back on his forearms, his face twisted with something between agony and bliss.

“There is a small matter of anatomy,” he pants.

“Enlighten me,” Kira replies.

Damar sits upright. He braces with one leg folded on the cot, knee at her hip, and the other planted firmly on the floor. He throws her leg over his shoulder. Kira rests her other knee at his side, content to watch the dance of musculature under his skin. Buried to the hilt, he rolls his hips. Slick, hard scales slide over her cunt. Like everything else they’ve done, this feels better than it has any right to.

“Sufficiently enlightened?” His tone is light, but a tightness in his voice gives him away.

She props herself up on her elbows, fascinated by the way light catches the ghost of his ribs, by the way his abdomen clenches, by the flashes of slick gray-blue amongst her auburn hair. Their mingled arousal on his scales glistens.

“I could use a further demonstration,” she says.

He slides his hands over her thighs and hips, holding her tightly in place. His brow is heavy with the effort to stay in control.

“What happened to blind faith?” he retorts.

With a leveled gaze, Kira twists her hips against his.

“Ah — fuck,” he hisses. His rhythm falters.

He presses his cheek into her calf with a low, guttural moan.

“Can...can I...?” he stutters.

A thrill runs up her spine, triumphant. He’s losing his coherence.

Her laugh barks. “I’m not going to stop you from coming, Damar.”

“I’m t-trying to be considerate of a mess,” he growls. “I-In or out?”

Kira laughs.

“Oh,” she breathes, pushing sweat-soaked hair from her forehead. “You’re the most ridiculous—”

He bites down on her calf.

Kira yelps. Gives him a swift kick in the flank.

He glowers.

“And you are the most infuriatingly stubborn—”

“In,” she snaps. Damar shuts his mouth, blinking. “We’ve already made a complete mess and I didn’t ask you to stop so come on.”

She glares back at him. Prophets, they’re both ridiculous. They burst into laughter at the same time. Still grinning, he gives her a mock salute.

He twists and grinds against her, skin on scale, harder and faster. His mouth opens. A soft, shuddering sound follows every labored breath. Rhythmic. Desperate. She’s not sure Damar even knows he’s making it.

Kira slides her fingers between their bodies, over trails of slick fluid and her own swollen and fevered flesh. Her fingertips graze against where they’re joined. Damar’s startled gasp alone is worthwhile. When she opens her fingers and slides them over her clitoris and the scales of his slit, his whole body shudders.

The sound he makes is embarrassingly needy.

Caught in her own rapture, her hips rocking against the slip of her hand, Kira’s eyes flutter closed.

“No,” he pleads. “Look at me.”

She meets his gaze through her lashes, in awe of this strange place of choking lust and choking tenderness. Damar is beautiful like this. His jaw tensed with effort. Muscles coiling. Breath hard and ragged.

He works himself into her until his voice breaks, until his hand flies to her heart, captured by her own, nails digging into the soft scales, until he’s crying out, sobbing, shaking. She stays with him. She doesn’t surrender. Holds on to him as he repeats her name like a litany, as she takes him in and apart, as he arches and spills into her. And then, all of him inextricable from her, she follows him over the precipice.

And far above them, the sky is on fire.