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darkness in the light

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The first time Ges sees Aral get drunk, it's three hours after Ezar finally cut off Yuri's head and Aral has started to shake and can't stop, and his father puts a glass of brandy in his hand and tells him to drink it all. Aral splutters and coughs and chokes and then, when his father goes away, pours himself another glass, and then he falls over and lies at Ges's feet and laughs until he cries, and cries until he laughs. Ges sits and watches him and wonders what the words are for the way this makes him feel.


Aral's drunk the first time they kiss, when Ges is helping him back to the cadet's barracks, when he swings around and presses Ges to the wall, and then passes out and Ges has to carry him to bed. But he's very sober the first time they have sex, and serious, and intense, and Ges likes that too, because when he starts to gasp and moan Ges knows it's because of what he's doing and not the alcohol. It feels good. But Aral leaves in the night and in the morning he pretends it hasn't happened. Until the next time.


On his wedding day Aral stays sober again, but after the happy couple retreat to their bed, Ges gets very drunk. But a year later they are dead, adulterous wife and her lovers, and Aral is lying in the gutter when Ges finds him and carries him home, and Aral is too drunk to know or care what Ges does then. And in the morning Aral doesn't leave or turn away, but clings to him and tells him he needs him. And he stays, and Ges knows that Aral belongs to him alone now, and always will, and he smiles.


Aral's sober when he tells Ges it's over, and sober more and more afterwards, and when he does drink it's with his officers and his young cousin, all talking and laughing and arguing politics until Aral passes out and Rulf and Padma take him home, just as if they don't care what Aral used to do, no matter what stories Ges spreads. Ges watches from a safe distance, and thinks of everything he'd do if he could, and consoles himself with cadets and young officers who know better than to say no to a Vor lord. And then there's Serg.


Ges makes sure Aral is on the flagship for the invasion. Aral has avoided him too long after Komarr, but that will stop now. But then there's the ImpSec spy underfoot, and Aral behaves like he's made of granite whenever Ges talks to him and won't touch alcohol, and nothing Ges can think of seems to touch him. And then they catch the Betan woman, and Ges knows that he has found the hook that will draw Aral back to him and let it all be like it was before, when they were happy together. Confidently, he carries her off.


"God, you're drunk," Cordelia said as Aral stumbled into their bedroom, holding the wall with both hands.

"It's traditional." Aral grinned at her. "We toasted Father's health about fifty times."

"Traditional it may be," Cordelia said, "but I wanted to have sex, and you're in no state for that now."

Aral collapsed onto the edge of the bed. "Oh," he said quietly, "I don't know. Ges and I had sex when I was drunk all the time."

Cordelia went still, humour fading. "What do you want now?"

Aral lay beside her and touched her lips. "To try it with you."