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Suffer Your Excess

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"You must be joking!" Londo cackled until he lost his breath and had to set down his glass of brivari to keep it from spilling all over the tablecloth.

“…Right?" he persisted when G'Kar maintained eye contact, legs crossed at the knee, face still and unwavering.

Once Londo composed himself, he replied, "I am not. And if this is enough to send you into convulsions, then you aren't prepared for real Narn humour."

Londo snorted in response. "Our cultural barrier apparently works both ways, then, for you must have not realized that I was joking throughout that entire exchange."

G'Kar thought back to the conversation that gave a pretense for his visit. It had begun when he'd innocently observed that Londo had arrived late to an important gathering, and Londo had retorted with a crude jab about G'Kar's reputed sexual prowess that ended in an open invitation to his bedroom. Banter or otherwise, it was too provocative an insult to dismiss.

"Oh, I'm well aware of that." G'Kar nodded patiently. "I believe that we've known one another long enough to determine whether there is true intent behind the words we speak. If not, we would have killed one another years ago."

Londo rolled his eyes, but conceded the point.

"Your accusation was intended to provoke me, as I've readily boasted of such things in the past, and that time it worked. Once, I would have been affronted by the suggestion and disgusted at the proposal. Ah, I would have ruminated over it until it kept me up at night thinking of ways to assert my superiority—"

"You mean to tell me that's not exactly what you are doing?" Londo broke in, then drained what remained of his glass and brought it down hard on the table. "To come here, challenge me into bed with you over a conversation I barely remember, and then leave with your dignity in tact and your reputation secure as... what exactly? Babylon 5's most desirable diplomat?" He finished the tirade by pouring himself another glass from the bottle sitting between them. "Great Maker, you're predictable."

G'Kar realized too late that his teeth were grinding and his hands were clenched; if you gave Londo an inch, he'd take a mile.

"Because it is you, G'Kar, I will grant you the opportunity to leave the room now, and because I am merciful, I promise I will drink enough tonight to forget this conversation ever happened."

"How is that different from any other night? However, it should be easier now that you have a fresh left heart to suffer your excesses," he said without moving from his seat.

The laugh Londo gave was high and forced, but he held his glass up to the light, swirling the amber liquid with an air of nostalgia. "My thought was to drink my fill while I can. Someday soon I will be forced to take my place as emperor, and the more I think on it, the more I find that I better understand why Emperor Turhan — Maker rest his soul — preferred sobriety."

"I'm sorry to hear that. You are the only man I've ever known to have better judgment while intoxicated," G'Kar said without thinking. He had hoped not to spend another evening with Londo scratching at old wounds. It did no good anymore and he took no satisfaction from it, but some opportunities were too ripe to neglect.

Londo said nothing for a long moment before he stood up and walked toward the kitchen. In times like these, the only thing G'Kar hated more than Londo's voice were his calculated silences. He opened a cabinet, revealing an extensive collection of decorated cocktail glasses behind the crest of his hair. "Since you have made it clear you will not be leaving, I at least ought to offer you a drink.” His voice rose over the clatter of clinking glasses, then dropped lower to say, "It would not work, G'Kar. Our species are incompatible."

A rejection, one designed to be stern, brisk, conversation-ending. It would have been, too, if he'd uttered it evenly to G'Kar and not to an open cupboard in that hushed, worried tone. He could not even bear to meet his eyes! As one more absurdity mounted atop their already absurd situation, G'Kar could not find the willpower to do anything but laugh — and laugh he did, louder and longer than he should have, until his sides hurt and tears pricked his eyes. Even if he could no longer in good faith blame Londo for the sins of his people, by G'Quan, he could still delight in making him profoundly uncomfortable.

"Incompatible? That... that is your only objection?" He took a deep breath, then tucked a gloved hand to his mouth to muffle residual giggles. "Tell me, did that occur to you just now, or have you considered this subject before?"

When Londo whirled around, G'Kar squeezed his eyes shut and ducked in his seat, listening for glass to start shattering against the wall behind him. The first thing he saw when he opened them again was Londo hunched against the counter, face hidden behind one hand. Between his fingers, his cheeks were coloured in that way thin-skinned species' often did when physically or emotionally overcome.

"It is not my only objection, G'Kar. Only the most obvious, and..." he trailed off, presumably after realizing that there was no good, nor wholly innocuous, answer to G'Kar's second question. He'd set it up to that effect.

"Of course I've thought about it, you insufferable imbecile!" Londo finally roared, sibilants hissed through the points of his teeth. For a moment, G'Kar feared the glass would break in his grip. He would have warned him, but the intensity was short lived. Something had changed in Londo, as if whatever engine driving his petulance had broken down. Whether because it exhausted him or because he had learned to recognize its futility, G'Kar wasn't sure. He did not miss the venom, but he could admit to some nostalgia for the days when the mood of an entire council meeting could depend on how much Ambassador Mollari had to drink the night before.

Londo's eyes softened as he approached the table. He sunk back onto the settee and began mixing G'Kar the drink he'd promised. "How could I not? I wish I didn't, but you make it very difficult when you've been... parading yourself through my dreams."

Now it was G'Kar's turn to express disbelief. "True dreams?"

Londo shook his head. "The regular kind. We can tell the difference."

What a relief that was. Few Narns believed in Centauri premonition, dismissed it as more of their self-aggrandizing rhetoric. So had G'Kar, not out of spite, but because that would mean the Centauri were denied the one of the universe's most fundamental mercies. That was, until he was forced to share a vicarious glimpse during one of the darker chapters of their feud. Though it took the will of G'Quan himself to quell his rage that night, he remembered it as the first time pity entered his heart, not just for Londo, but for the Centauri people as a whole. The only wonder was that they had not destroyed themselves already.

"That does not necessarily mean anything. Our minds are finite and must filter out that which they do not need. It can produce all kinds of strange detritus — images, words, ideas. The untethered waste of our waking life," he offered. It would be easier to sell the idea if Londo did not insist on looking so damned miserable about it. Was an honest admission of desire too much to ask? Of course it was, G'Kar reminded himself. Acting as if he had no choice in a matter was one of Londo's more infuriating tendencies.

"You think I don't know that?" Londo snapped, resentful at having to explain himself in such explicit terms. "Not true dreaming, but more than simply... unconscious castoff, as you put it."

All at once, G'Kar knew exactly what sort of dreams he spoke of. Londo must have sensed the revelation, for he offered a smile as he passed G'Kar's drink across the table, one that might have been mischievous if it reached his tired eyes. G'Kar lifted the brivari to his nose and sniffed. Centauri liquor was as weak as it was wretched, but perhaps Londo would feel more at ease if he thought they were both drunk. He drained the glass in one gulp.

"You're not exactly known for your restraint. When you see an opportunity, you grasp it without regard for the consequences. Why do you hesitate?"

"Nothing is free of consequences, G'Kar. I understand that now." Londo paused, expecting G'Kar to speak. When he didn't, he went on, "Never mind, like I said before, you're..."

"More creative than you give me credit for." Perhaps the liquor had some effect on his hardier constitution after all because G'Kar felt a little bit bolder. Bold enough to move his leg under the table and rub his ankle against Londo's calf. He gave a jolt, but didn't pull away.

"I cannot expect you to possess the wealth of experiences I have in the area of interspecies sexual relations, but we both know that's a flimsy excuse." He leaned across the table to meet Londo's gaze. He touched the hand Londo had wrapped around the stem of his glass. "Things have changed between us, Mollari, and don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about. All the same tension, all the same strains, suddenly cut off from their source — like the alarms blaring in your ears long after the bombardment is over. The danger has passed, and we may return to our lives again, but we've been altered by the threat. Even the slightest triggers may set us off, often in ways we do not expect. All of our baser instincts towards one another are intact, but the difference is, now we can choose for ourselves where to direct them."

Londo listened until he'd run out of words to say, still as the golden statuettes decorating his quarters, and so quiet that G'Kar could hear the muffled hum of the station's air filtration systems. G'Kar squeezed his hand, pressed him for a word, a look, some sign that he understood. It wasn't fair to make anyone drag out the words G'Kar had, and then refuse to acknowledge them. Had they not ended these petty cruelties?

"Is that it?" he asked, more statement than question. "G'Kar, if a night in bed were all it would take to put an end to your animosity, you might have suggested it before. A great deal might have been avoided, yes?" His teeth edged over his bottom lip in a struggle not to laugh.

"You know perfectly well that's not what I mean," G'Kar shot back, fed up with Londo's feigned ignorance. “This is not something that could have happened before, don't you understand that? It must be now. A space has opened up, Mollari. Between our worlds and between you and I." He locked eyes with Londo, daring him to turn away. "A precarious space, to be sure. One that could easily collapse in on itself at any moment. But if we take advantage of this opportunity while it lasts, I believe it could… greatly simplify our relationship."

"Sex never simplifies anything, in my experience." Londo gave a resigned shrug. "Perhaps it is different on your world?"

He might have imagined it, but G'Kar thought he detected a faint note of hope behind his sarcasm. He offered a low chuckle. "No. Not as a general rule. But I think you and I might be the exception.”

Londo returned with a genuine smile, all too rare these days. G'Kar clasped his hand tightly and drew him in closer. Londo didn't squeeze back, but he didn't let go either. He turned G'Kar's hand over, palm up, then began to undo the fastenings of his gauntlet. "You know, I find it curious that I do not remember how your hands look, G'Kar." The gauntlet loosened enough to fall to the table and Londo tugged off his leather glove. "Yet whenever I dream of you, I dream of your hands above all else."

G'Kar felt strangely exposed, but there could be no harm indulging him. Though larger and more powerful, his palms were free of spots and kept soft from their constant protection. Londo studied his hands, from his blunt fingernails to the bones of his wrist. Centauri eyes on Narn bodies. Centauri eyes on Narn hands with the same objective disinterest while they gauged how many years labour could be wrung from them. G'Kar tried his best to set the implications aside as Londo, in turn, perhaps tried not to remember how these hands had once beaten him within an inch of his life. The memory lingered in the cautious way he examined his thick knuckles, and how he bristled when G'Kar entwined their fingers together.

"I want this settled once and for all, Mollari. If this is not what you want,” G'Kar lowered his voice surreptitiously for fear of Londo mistaking his sincerity for desperation, “then I will gladly stop wasting your liquor and never speak of this again."

"G'Kar,” Londo lifted his chin to offset the tremble in his voice. “I—“

“I recall you were telling me about your dreams. I'm very curious to know what my hands were doing in those dreams," he finished, his voice a low rumble.

Londo hissed and pressed his lips together, as if holding back bile. For a long moment he sat, tense and deliberate, with a look in his eyes that almost made G'Kar wish he hadn't asked.

He wrenched himself from G'Kar's grip only to seize his hands again and place them at the bare skin of his neck. Panic rose in his chest as the scattered remnants of Londo's vision knitted themselves back together in G'Kar's memory. Horrified, he nearly recoiled, but Londo did not bid his fingers tighten. With gentle insistence, Londo guided G'Kar's hands up and down his throat, letting his thumbs tuck under his scarf before drawing them up to his jaw, over his chin. Barely reassured, G'Kar let Londo kiss the palm of his hand. When Londo let go, it was as if he'd returned from a trance. When he opened his eyes, there was a flicker of life that hadn't existed before. "I did not mean to alarm you," he said. "That was for my own peace of mind. If this is to happen, G'Kar, if this is the only way for us to settle our displaced sentiments, it is good for both of us to learn what instincts, what reflexes lay dormant, yes?"

Rationalizations coming from Londo were not to be trusted, G'Kar knew, but he decided not to press the issue. He'd never seen Londo lean into a touch like that, his lips so flushed and wet. Patience stretched thin, he moved to Londo's side of the table, grabbed him under the arms, and dragged him into a kiss. With G'Kar pinning him to the couch, he could not have resisted, but his lips parted before their mouths touched. More enthusiasm than grace, his lips sucked, warm and yielding, against his own. Even after G'Kar broke for air, Londo hovered over his chin and dabbed smaller kisses around the corners of his mouth. He required but a moment's breather before claiming him again, this time with all the confidence and focus Londo lacked after so much to drink. By G'Quan, his teeth were not to be trifled with. To retain control, he thrust Londo against the cushioned corner of the settee with a knee between his thighs. Londo made a muffled noise as G'Kar closed in until they sat chest to chest. Already, G'Kar felt movement beneath his waistcoat, something stirring at the edge of his vision.

He retreated far enough to speak. "I hope that didn't alarm you."

Londo did not look at all alarmed. A little bewildered, but he leaned into G’Kar and wrapped his arms around him as if the room were spinning rapidly with G'Kar as his only anchorage. This close, G'Kar could feel very clearly the movement hadn't just been his hopeful imagination. Londo's head rested on his shoulder, close enough to his ear to whisper, "Vir sometimes still comes to check in on me at this hour. We should go to my room to discuss this privately.” G'Kar glanced over his opposite shoulder where the door to Londo’s quarters stood safely closed and locked, presumably. Then again, Vir likely knew the passcode off by heart. Either way, G'Kar could not think of anything else they had to discuss, so he would have to take the invitation for what it was: the closest thing to a 'yes' he was going to get out of Londo.

He offered a hand to Londo as he got up, an unnervingly natural gesture. To his surprise, the man was still steady on his feet and practically dragged G'Kar by the arm as they relocated.

As soon as the door hissed shut behind them, Londo started pacing about the room with a worried look on his face. G'Kar amused himself by admiring the curves on his statue of Li by the door until Londo figured out what he wanted to say. Nothing damning, obviously, by the way his hands smoothed over his ribcage in that ridiculous way Centauri did when unbearably aroused, as if soothing an upset stomach.

"Let us make one thing clear," he said finally. He sat down on his bed without inviting G'Kar to join him just yet. "There will be no more unwelcome surprises, you understand? We will be doing this my way and you will accept that for what it is. I will not endure you… rutting against me like one of your human partners," he said, drawing out the word with a mocking nasal sneer.

G'Kar couldn't remember the last time any of his human lovers had kissed him like that, but he'd entertain Londo's delusions a while longer if necessary. "Very well. I should have expected you would be a traditionalist about such matters.”

Londo cast a steely glare through the transparent curtains of his bed. He leaned down to yank off one boot. "We are not made for what you do, G'Kar."

"Fortunately, we Narns are made for a great many things," he replied. His gaze flicked from Londo, to the statue, then back again. This time, G'Kar didn't have time to dodge when the heel of Londo's boot collided with his chest. G'Kar did not retaliate; Mr. Garibaldi had people arrested for better puns than that.

Kicking the boot aside, G'Kar strode towards him and knelt to help him remove the other one. "I do mean that. I won't do anything you don't want,” he said softly. Londo grumbled a response under his breath. G’Kar didn’t ask him to repeat himself. Too much reassurance and Londo would hear condescension.

When G'Kar looked up, Londo had undone the top few buttons of his waistcoat. From this angle he could see why he was so terribly uncomfortable. He spread his legs apart so he could kneel between them and undress the rest of him himself. He swatted Londo's hands away and took up the task until he could peel the garment from his shoulders, leaving him in a loose white shirt that rippled and billowed with every twitch of his brachiarti. G'Kar traced their outlines through the thin fabric, eliciting a hitched breath from Londo. He stroked from the centre of his chest down to his sides where they connected with his body, not sure yet whether he wanted to calm their movement or encourage it, but he did want a closer look. One brach emerged to meet G'Kar's hand. Curious, he cradled the tip in his palm to examine the velvety folds of the underside. "Ah, now isn't this just marvelous?" he said when it curled around his finger.

Londo tilted his head to the side and squinted. "Have you…?"

G'Kar smiled, not at him, but at it. "Never quite so personally," he answered, then gave it a gentle squeeze in case Londo thought to interrupt his tender moment with an anatomy lesson. Sometimes he thought the Centauri enjoyed boasting of their sex organs more than actually using them. Five others were revealed when Londo's shirt dropped onto the sheets, but G'Kar found himself rather attached to the one in his hand. Did Londo have favourites? He suppressed a laugh and begun stimulating it in earnest. Londo gasped, flung his arms around G'Kar's neck and suddenly he was everywhere. Brachiarti slipping beneath his coat, squirming against his armour, and wrapping around his back to join in their obscene parody of an embrace.

To repay his impatience, G'Kar grabbed Londo by the elbows, wrenched him upward and held him tight — bare skin to leather armour. His erection had been building for some time and he wanted Londo to feel how it swelled against his body. Londo glanced down, then back to G'Kar's face. If he did not believe G'Kar truly desired him before, he did now. "Well, it's about time you started removing all of this." He tugged at G'Kar's collar, brachiarti withdrawing. “I’m feeling a little chilly all of a sudden."

"Then by all means, make yourself comfortable." G'Kar gave him a playful shove toward the bed. He didn't expect to send Londo staggering until he landed gracelessly amid pillows. He reminded himself to check his own strength in the future and made to apologize before Londo sat up, startled but not offended. He patted the mattress expectantly.

G'Kar undressed himself as quickly as possible to prevent undue frustration on Londo's part. His jacket fell to the floor, followed by various pieces of armour, until he was left in a plain linen tunic and loose trousers. He took his place on the too-soft bedding, straddling Londo's hips for easy access to his brachiarti. Still in high spirits, Londo wasted no time pulling G'Kar's shirt over his head. G'Kar leaned down to cover him and blew a stream of air past his ear. "Still cold?"

Two brachiarti ventured beneath G'Kar's waistband. "Not anymore," Londo said, and kissed him again. G'Kar gasped at the onslaught: one brach snug around the shaft of his cock, the other cradling the tip, and four more — not to mention Londo himself — vying for his attention. Londo would come first, always, G'Kar decided, and took the two upper brachiarti in hand to lure them away from his body. He moaned against G'Kar's mouth, tilted his head up to bare his throat. It was all right now. It had to be. Londo wanted him there.

Starting from his earlobe, G'Kar left a wake of kisses and shallow toothmarks down to his collarbone. He saw no reason to stop there, lightening the treatment only over the scar on his chest. Somewhere below his waist, Londo regained enough of his faculties to protest. "Now what do you think you're doing?"

G'Kar shook off the brachiarti around his wrists so he could unfasten Londo's pants. "In the interest of interspecies equality, I hardly think it's fair that I should be put on display for your benefit while you remain half-covered?" He jerked Londo's pants down his hips with one sharp pull. "Besides, wouldn't Vir get suspicious if you suddenly took an interest in doing your own laundry?" G'Kar hoped he sounded confident, at least more composed than Londo, but the constant motion and pressure surrounding his cock made it hard to concentrate. He fought to keep his hands steady as he loosened his drawstring.

The air felt good on his cock, which was dusky and slick from Londo's ministrations. Though he lacked the corresponding anatomy, Londo seemed noticeably reassured to see G'Kar equally vulnerable. Now that Londo could see what he was doing, the brach around his cock tightened. As a reward, G'Kar sought out the brach he'd been doting on before (he thought it was the upper left) and closed his lips around the tip.

He could feel a pulse run through the organ, the rhythmic beat of his primary heart echoed by the second's fainter, faster thrums like an ever building crescendo. The one in his mouth twitched only slightly as he sucked it, others thrashed and tugged between his legs. Did Londo wield each of them independently, he wondered, or did the dextrous organs take on a will of their own when given something warm and tight to explore?

G'Kar decided it was the latter when one, without invitation, prodded against his anus and Londo looked just as affronted as he did.

He let the brach drop from his mouth. "I could have sworn you said Centauri were above this sort of play?"

Londo blustered for a moment while he wound the ambitious brach around G'Kar's thigh instead. "Between two Centauri, yes, it would be both unnecessary and degrading," he grudgingly clarified. "Unlike your species, we have the sense to keep our reproductive and excretory systems well away from one another."

Despite Londo's disapproval, the brach slick from G'Kar's mouth kept flicking eagerly against his lips. G'Kar gave the underside a sly kiss before blowing it away like a vexatious insect.

"Not a characteristic unique to Narns, Mollari. By saying so, you insult the Humans, the Minbari..." he went on. "It would seem that your species is the anomaly."

Frustrated now, Londo narrowed his eyes. G'Kar felt the brach around his thigh wind itself tighter. "Fine. I misspoke. Either way, I was going to say that because you are not Centauri, the usual... taboos do not apply."

G'Kar let his body relax, having regained the upper hand. He tilted his head toward the spurned brach hovering near his cheek. "Please do let me know if you think of any more taboos you're eager to break," he said, then welcomed Londo back into his mouth.

With that matter resolved, Londo unwound himself from G'Kar's leg and returned to his cleft, circling the entrance. If they were to have approached the issue earlier, G'Kar would have suggested some preparation, but to show hesitation would only serve to affirm Londo's convictions about the unnaturality of the practice.

He'd been expecting pain, at least a twinge, but the brach was narrower than a Narn or Human phallus, and the moist underside lent a gentle glide to the intrusion. What set him off was the sensation, the way it writhed and twisted against his insides as unsettling as it was pleasurable.

"You're grimacing, G'Kar. Is there some kind of trick to this?" Londo asked, the closest he'd come to concern.

He was about to grumble a reply when the organ brushed against his prostate and he could no longer disguise his delight. He nearly collapsed over Londo's body, and when he found his voice, it came out in a throaty growl. The most extraordinary thing about Centauri brachiarti, G'Kar noted, was their versatility; where another Narn would take him more powerfully, Londo sought out his most sensitive areas, stroking with more agency and purpose than he thought the man capable in anything.

Londo ought to be feeling smug right about now. It wasn't every day someone was able to teach G'Kar something new about pleasure. But when G'Kar looked down, the man was in raptures. Eyes half-closed, temples dotted with perspiration, he mouthed G'Kar's name over and over. Ridiculous really, but it was the sound that made his cock ache, especially the way his tongue rolled over the r's.

Something warm and wet filled his mouth. Londo groaned. G'Kar coughed before realizing the taste did not entirely offend his senses. Still, he would have appreciated some warning. Only afterwards did he notice that the one inside him withdrew from his body, much easier than it went in. The spent organs withdrew to their relaxed position around Londo's chest.

G'Kar grinned down at him, mouth finally free. "I win, Mollari."

"You what?" Londo asked after a few deep breaths.

"I outlasted you. Granted, it’s been longer than two minutes, but—“

"You're still on about that? Need I remind you that was only two? That barely counts." His two middle brachiarti flicked about G'Kar's sides. "These ones could use a little attention, hm?"

G’Kar scoffed. “You’re feeling neglected? When I’ve been doing all the work? Really, Mollari, did no lover ever teach you that your hands are for more than gripping bedsheets?”

Londo gaped up at him, uncomprehending. G’Kar took the opportunity to take Londo’s hands, planting them firmly at his waist. “Touch me. Is that so much to ask?”

“Who knew you were such a romantic, G’Kar? You ought to have shown up tonight with a bouquet,” Londo teased, but his hands were hesitant, unsure. He didn’t know what to do, what he liked, G’Kar realized. He should have known Londo would be too proud to ask.

G’Kar had always believed the best way to teach was by demonstration. He rolled his hips back and forth, made a show of enjoying himself. A small boost of confidence might be all Londo needed to recognize that G’Kar was a generous lover, that any touch was welcome. He clung to G’Kar, swept up in his motion. His hands were at his sides, his back, the steps of his spine. The brach around his cock loosened as Londo’s concentration waned, but that was alright because they were closer now, and the tight space between Londo’s thighs made a more appealing substitute. Was this what he had meant by ‘rutting’? Londo issued no complaint.

Right when he was starting to miss the sensation, the next brach found its way inside him. This time he was prepared and the uneasy, alien feeling had all but disappeared. For lack of anything better to do, Londo’s middle two brachiarti snaked idly about G’Kar’s arms and torso. G’Kar was well past the playful stage of arousal by now. Already he panted for air and his cock yearned for more friction. Yet he couldn’t allow himself to reach the cusp of release without knowing that Londo was well looked after, and that meant all of him.

G’Kar reared back on his haunches, legs spread to display his lower abdomen and the stretchy layer of skin that covered it. He didn’t know if Londo had made a conscious effort to avoid his pouch or if he had simply forgotten that aspect of Narn physiology, but he had to coax both of his unspent brachiarti towards the opening.

“Running out of options, G’Kar?” Londo chided from the pillows. “I’ve heard that’s where your people nurse their infants, yes? It would not seem proper to—“

G’Kar dipped his hand inside his pouch, making room for Londo’s brachiarti to follow. “I hardly think it is your place to decide what is proper about my body.” He let the skin snap back over his abdomen. “And I’ll have you know that among Narns, letting a sexual partner inside of one’s pouch is considered a profound expression of intimacy, one that you’re hardly entitled to… ah!” Londo wasted no time discovering his nipples. That combined with the pressure on his prostate nearly did him in.

Londo raised himself up on his elbows to better gauge his expression. “Ah? You like that, I take it?” he crooned, much happier now with half of his truly excessive reproductive system working in tandem. The arrogance G’Kar could do without, but he liked the charge in his movements and the curiosity in his eyes.

“Don’t think I won’t ask for something in return,” he replied. It was a challenge to keep his voice steady. “Sit up.”

“What is it now?” Londo muttered and sighed, but he pushed himself from the sheets, careful not to disturb the complicated array of organs connecting their bodies.

“I want you on my lap.” He clasped Londo’s waist for emphasis. Oddly cooperative, Londo got to his knees and organized himself around G’Kar with a clumsy sort of eagerness.

Londo beamed. “You’re more Centauri than I give you credit for. You know this is among one of our more… convenient arrangements.” Frankly, G’Kar cared little for Londo’s convenience and more for the way his cock felt against the soft flesh of his thighs and stomach, but it was good to know he’d stumbled upon a compromise that suited them both — he could only hope the trend might carry over to the next Alliance council meeting.

Londo seemed to prefer sex face to face, where their lips could meet, where his teeth could rake against the hardier skin of G’Kar’s shoulder as he muffled cries of pleasure. G’Kar would have offered to take his last brach into his mouth again if Londo hadn’t already put his tongue to better use. Without the support of the pillows and bed-frame, it was up to G’Kar to keep both of them upright. Once they got past three, G’Kar discovered, Centauri clearly suffered a lack of bloodflow to the brain and motor centres. At least that was his hypothesis as Londo’s head lolled against G’Kar’s neck and his frantic kisses lost their edge. G’Kar steadied him with one hand on the back of his scalp.

“Hurry up and come, Mollari,” he growled, as if that would slow the climb of his own impending orgasm. He had to be nearly there. G’Kar could see a glaze his eyes when Londo found the will to open them. He didn’t reply but for a shudder in his breath, then his whole body began to tremble. Londo squeezed his thighs together around G’Kar’s aching erection in one last display of pride.

As the last drops of pleasure drained from his body, G’Kar opened his eyes to find himself horizontal again, sprawled on top of Londo who lay with his back against the sheets, all six brachiarti retracted around his chest. He was panting hard, and coughed when G’Kar shifted his weight.

“Too much for you?” G’Kar leaned in for a kiss.

Londo pushed him away. “Get off of me, you loaf! I feel like I’m being crushed beneath a dead leeb!”

G’Kar kissed him anyway. Then he rolled over to give Londo some air.

After he recovered, Londo propped himself up against the mountain of pillows. “I only got to five, you know,” was the first thing out of his mouth, though his voice betrayed neither triumph nor disappointment.

“Aha, I knew you weren’t joking about that.” G’Kar said. “Aren’t you glad now that I did not dismiss that conversation? If only for the chance to prove yourself?” He cupped Londo’s shoulder.

“I am glad,” he admitted, bringing a hand to his chest. “I believe that was something I’ve needed for quite some time.” He traced the outlines of the scar.

“I noticed.”

Too exhausted for any effective retaliation, Londo could only attempt a sneer. “And what of you, G’Kar?”

G’Kar blinked to attention, then uttered the first thing that came to mind. “Apart from the desire for a hot bath and something to eat later, I am perfectly content.” He nuzzled against Londo’s neck. “By all means interpret that as an invitation.”

“That’s all?” Londo pressed, incredulous. “After your moving speech about, what was it? Something about opening up a space between our peoples? Simplifying our relationship? If you feel any grand revelations coming on, please feel free to share.”

G’Kar gave an uneasy chuckle, then just to satisfy him, “None so profound as to be worth adding to my book, if that is what worries you.”

“Oh, not even a footnote about how you had your way with the Centauri emperor?” He pursed his lips in mock offense. “Great Maker, I’m afraid that might stretch your gift for metaphor.”

He was grateful when Londo let the subject drop in favour of sitting up for a stretch, inspecting whether being violently crushed against the bed had done any damage to his crest. Underneath the giddy post-coital rush, G’Kar felt a strange emptiness. He did not know what he expected, but he had been expecting something. Even if it was merely to look into Londo's face and see something new reflected back. Instead, he saw all the same features and lines thrown into relief in the dim light of the bedroom. Darkness gathered in the hollows under his eyes and sketched out the down-turned corners of his mouth. Perhaps Londo was right to believe the patterns they carved into one another again and again were the will of the universe — or a punishment.

G’Kar decided to leave before Londo had to ask him to. He would rather let the weight of whatever transpired between them to come crashing down upon him on the way back to his quarters than to spend another minute in Londo's bed, scrutinizing his every move, searching for something that wasn’t there. And if Londo would prefer to spend his nights brooding, drinking himself into a stupor, and pretending that what he said in that hospital bed didn’t matter, G’Kar would let him.

He was peering about the room for his clothes when Londo gave a startled cry. G’Kar lifted his head, about to ask if everything was all right. He ended up stifling laughter again. A sizeable chunk of Londo’s hair had detached entirely from his crest and fell limply over his shoulder. Distraught, he smoothed the displaced strands between his fingers before catching G’Kar’s gaze at his back. Lost for words and trying very hard not to laugh, G’Kar almost missed Londo's helpless grin.

“Ah, well — I was planning on washing it out tomorrow regardless.”

G’Kar nodded sagely, afraid anything he might say would trigger another outburst.

Londo got to his feet and strode over to the dresser, quickly examining himself in the mirror. He gathered his bathrobe draped over a chair and turned to G’Kar.

“Now then, are you coming?”