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She tried to focus on anything except the fact that his large, warm hand was holding hers. 

 

They were seated in the back row of the van and she was thankful that it was large enough to allow them to be alone in the row.  Akane was riding shotgun with Carlos, Junpei, and Phi directly behind them, then Mira, Eric, and Sean seated together.  The driver had classical music playing, as a backdrop to the few scattered conversations.  Mira, Carlos, and Phi seemed lost in their own thoughts, with Junpei and Akane already discussing what needed to be done about the fanatic, and Eric and Sean talking about anything unrelated to the entire mess.  Mostly ice cream.

 

Diana was overwhelmed.  Just when she thought she had processed all the memories that had flooded her mind, another one would splash into her brain.  At least, everything went fuzzy near memories where she … where she …

 

He pushed them back, threw his body over hers, over theirs, as if he could somehow stop the acid from hitting them.  An awkward sandwich of him-her-Phi-floor.  But there wasn’t enough him, nowhere to go to escape the showers.  Her arm, first, with the smell in her nose, his screams in her ears.

 

Sigma squeezed her hand tightly, as if he was also reliving it.  Or maybe he just picked up on her quickened breathing, the tension in her body. 

 

This strange man, this elder in a college student’s body, who had been willing to sacrifice himself for her, for Phi, who was her lover in a dozen (or more?) different worlds, and she couldn’t remember if they’d ever touched before in this one.  If they had, it was certainly nothing more than the accidental touches that might occur when people are sharing a crowded space.

 

At the same time, he knew her, knew that she loved having her hair stroked while being kissed, knew that the inside of her wrist was an odd erogenous zone for her, knew that there was something about having a man’s head between her legs, under her skirt, so she couldn’t watch, that was incredibly arousing to her.  He had touched her, tasted her, been inside her.

 

She hoped the bulk of her sweater would hide her hardening nipples.

 

Sigma was the kind of man she would … there really wasn’t another word for it – ogle from a distance but never approach.  Not that she really approached strangers anyway, even before … even before.  If she had met him at one of those boring hospital fundraisers or if he had been hanging around at the gym where she went swimming or if she had bumped into him outside her therapist’s office, she would have admired his body but assumed she wasn’t his type.

 

Diana turned her head to look at him and found him staring at her, his eyes as intense as they had been when they first met.  At the time, it frightened her; now, it felt comforting. She remembered that look, from a seemingly infinite set of memories of them making love. She squirmed slightly in her seat, involuntarily, and a corner of his mouth twitched up in a smirk.  As if he knew how wet she was, about the pressure building between her legs. 

 

He moved his hand from hers to her knee and she bit her lip to keep from gasping.  He wasn’t trying to do anything indecent, but the warmth of his palm could be felt through her skirt, her tights.  She wanted to feel it against the bare skin of her inner thigh (again).  She wanted to be anywhere but here with him.  She wanted him to touch her again, needed to feel him.  Hours ago, they had been strangers, but now their experiences in many different worlds tied them together.

 

It was another forty agonizing minutes – his hand on her knee the whole time – until they got to the hotel where Akane’s brother had reserved rooms.  She felt a twinge of guilt when she and Sigma were both handed keycards; she thought (hoped?) that she wouldn’t be in her room much during their stay.

 

But somewhere between the parking lot and the lobby, he slipped away.  She found herself in the elevator car with Mira, Eric, and Sean, who was wearing an oversized hooded sweatshirt, courtesy of Akane’s brother.  As long as he kept his head down, if nobody looked at him too closely due to the disproportionate size of his head, he could probably pass for an antisocial kid.  Eric picked at his nails while Mira stared straight ahead in silence.

 

Diana swallowed her disappointment as she exited into the hallway and didn’t see Sigma.  Akane and her brother had wandered off, too, so maybe they had official business to take care of. 

 

With that in mind, her dismay felt silly; there was someone trying to destroy the world, after all, and they had just escaped from a horrific game created by their own son.  Sex was probably the last thing on his mind.  It might do good for her to get a shower, anyway; it had only been eight hours or so in reality, but the weight of the extra timelines made it seem like longer.

 

She put her bag from Dcom on the bed and began digging through it for a change of clothes and her toiletries.  Her heart skipped a beat when there was a knock on her door, but for once, it wasn’t out of fear.  She checked the peephole to confirm what she already knew, and then she couldn’t open it fast enough.

 

Sigma had her in his arms practically the second he walked in, bringing his lips within millimeters of hers, letting her decide to close the distance.  As if there was any chance she wouldn’t.  He kicked shut the door behind them and she didn’t even have to ask; she heard him fumbling with the knob to lock it.  Then he was dropping something to the ground and tugging at her sweater, murmuring against her lips, “Please tell me this is okay?”

 

In response, she yanked at his shirt, pulling it up and casting it on the ground.  It forced them to break their kiss, and he stared at her for a moment, cupping her face in his hands.

 

“I … I need … I just –”

 

“Yes,” she said, hooking her fingers into the belt loops on his pants and pulling him closer.  Yes, part of it was a life-affirming, we-just-escaped-a-death-trap thing, but it was more than that.  His touch felt natural, like they’d done this a million times.  She thought he’d take her to the bed once their clothes were removed, but he guided her against the wall instead, and she trembled with anticipation.  Other Dianas may have done this, but most of her experience in life thus far was confined to a bed.

 

He stopped for a moment to pick up what he had dropped, and she tried to not sigh with impatience as he carefully put on a condom.  It probably wasn’t even the right time, but better safe than sorry.

 

His fingers slid into her easily and he groaned, capturing her lips with his again.  She spread her legs wider to give him better access, and it wasn’t enough, but she knew he wouldn’t risk hurting her, and the idea of being sore afterwards wasn’t appealing to her.  She reached between them and took him in her hand, causing him to hiss as his fingers stilled.  He took her hand and moved it to his hip, whispering that he didn’t want this to be over before it began.  Then he was caressing her breast, his thumb circling a nipple and making it harden even more. 

 

When he seemed satisfied that she was ready, when she thought she couldn’t take it anymore, Sigma hoisted her up like she was nothing, looking at her like she was everything.  He slowly pushed up and into her as she clung to him with shaky arms.

 

“I’ve missed you,” he said, his voice breaking.

 

Diana kissed him, because she didn’t want him thinking about his loss, didn’t want him to be sad during this.  She dug her fingers into his hair, letting her other hand trail down his chest.  She wanted him to focus on this, on them, on how good it felt.  Maybe it worked, because then he was adjusting his grip on her as began to thrust into her.  It would have felt perilous, with him being the only thing keeping her from tumbling to the floor, if she hadn’t trusted him completely.

 

She arched her back as his erection hit her in just the right place, cried out when he took the opportunity to cover a nipple with his mouth.  The friction wasn’t enough, so she stopped caressing his chest and reached between them, her legs wrapped around his waist, rubbing herself more frantically than she ever had in her life.  Her muscles twitched around him and he hissed, faltered in his movements.  Then he was kissing her again, thrusting harder, stopping only when the twitches turned to spasms, so he was buried deep inside her as she came.

 

When it was over, her body limp and languid, he flexed his hips just enough to get what he needed; he moaned her name as he found his own release, somehow managing to maintain the strength to hold her up.  She rested her head on his shoulder, and after a moment, he moved away from the wall, towards the bed.  After gently laying her down, he disposed of the condom and joined her as she burrowed under the sheets.

 

The sad look had returned to his face, and she tried to kiss it away.

 

“I love you,” she whispered, to the man she had known for only a week, for a lifetime.  She wanted to assure him that they had time, now, but something stopped her – a sensation from her recovered memories that told her she had said something like that to him, before, that turned out to be a lie.

 

His mouth moved noiselessly, as if there weren’t words for what he wanted to say in return.

 

“I know,” she said.  “I know.”

 

(fin.)