This is, more or less, the eighth story in the internal chronology of The World That You Need, though the (ye gods) tenth posted.
Many thanks to ellen_fremedon for beta, and to iulia, oliviacirce and rubynye and the other usual suspects for encouragement!
Aral/Jole, (Aral/Cordelia). Explicit. Sex toys. 5500 words.
"I've never really seen the point. I mean, sex is already fun. It's sex. I don't know what you'd need toys for."
Read below or at the AO3.
Dance Across the Room
Aral got dressed while Arkady was in the shower. They both knew much better than to shower together; excellent though Arkady's scheduling was, they didn't have that kind of time.
Aral was fully clothed except for his boots when Arkady stepped out of the bathroom naked, his hair already neatly combed. Arkady's eyes went wide and intent in a way that reminded Aral quite pleasantly that Arkady didn't only cede first shower to Aral out of courtesy. Arkady liked this part, and Aral didn't at all mind indulging him in it, though it wasn't going to be anything but the look of the thing after their earlier activities this morning.
Arkady had stopped a couple of strides from the bathroom door. Aral beckoned him closer, and Arkady came to him at once. Aral put one hand to the back of his neck and the other on his hip, pulling him into a kiss.
Arkady kept to his role as their mouths met, playing demure, letting himself be coaxed. Aral kept his hand firm on Arkady's hip, keeping a few inches between their bodies, between his uniform and Arkady's bare skin, even as he teased Arkady's mouth open, dipped his tongue in to taste. They were both blandly mint-fresh now, of course, but Arkady's mouth was hot on his, his breath quickening almost instantly.
Still, it wasn't long before he lifted his head against Aral's grip; Aral let go at once, taking a step back and sitting down on the edge of the bed to give Arkady an extra few inches of height advantage. Arkady smiled and ran a hand unnecessarily over his still-tidy hair.
"Sorry," he said. "I was about to make rather a mess of your uniform."
Aral raised an eyebrow and glanced down. Arkady was half-hard, in no danger of making a mess very imminently.
Arkady rolled his eyes and said, "Grabbing at it, I mean."
Aral smiled, and waved a hand in the general direction of his and Cordelia's rooms. "I have more uniforms."
Arkady stepped forward, putting them kissing-close again, but this time Aral kept his hands at his sides and Arkady touched, brushing at his shoulders and then his shirtfront. "I like this one."
"I'd better keep it, then," Aral agreed, because explaining that uniforms were interchangeable--that this was indeed the whole purpose of uniforms--was precisely not the point.
Arkady grinned and then took a step back and turned, bending over the bedside table and opening the top drawer.
Aral raised his eyebrows, and without even seeing the expression Arkady explained, "Just checking what we're out of. Today's the household order to the import shop."
Aral scooted sideways to look, watching Arkady's fingers hover over the contents without quite touching anything.
"We never have made it to the back of the drawer," Aral remarked, more or less idly. Idly enough, he thought, since it was clear nothing was going to happen just now and all propositions, explicit or implied, were theoretical to some degree.
Arkady glanced sideways at him, then tugged the drawer out slightly further, though Aral knew that Arkady would have every single item in it memorized.
"If you want anything," Arkady offered.
Aral shook his head slightly, smiling and keeping his voice light. "You're plenty, Arkan. But those things are fun sometimes."
Arkady shut the drawer and sat down beside him on the edge of the bed, frowning a little. "I've never really seen the point. I mean, sex is already fun. It's sex. I don't know what you'd need toys for."
Aral was startled into a laugh and said, "I don't know whether to be flattered or concerned at your lack of forethought."
Arkady gave him an assessing up-and-down look and said confidently, "There are meds for that, and even if they're contraindicated for whatever reason there are fingers and mouths and your voice and everything else. I'd rather have you, not some piece of plastic."
Aral leaned over and kissed him once, firmly, because there was no other possible answer to that. Then he stood up and said, "I suppose this is just something I'll have to show you."
Arkady looked startled and pleased and curious, and said, "We have about fifteen minutes before we should each go to breakfast."
Aral hadn't meant now, but it was impossible to mean anything else when Arkady put it like that. Aral stood and opened the drawer again, pulling out a nice simple item and holding it up with a questioning tilt of his head.
Arkady said, "We're ordering more lube today anyway, don't worry about using it up."
Aral grinned and made a little circular motion with the plug, and Arkady obediently turned, folding himself over the edge of the bed and spreading his legs. Aral grabbed the lube and slicked a finger, stepping close behind Arkady and remembering not to drip on his own uniform.
"This is me, touching you," Aral said quietly, pressing his finger to Arkady's hole, circling, waiting for the last little surrender.
"These are my fingers--" and there it was, more visible in the line of Arkady's spine than tangible under his hand, but when Aral pressed inside Arkady's shiver was the better kind--"opening you up for what I want to put into you."
Arkady turned his head and said, almost evenly, "With you so far, sir."
Aral snorted and didn't let himself be drawn. He moved his fingers exactly as quickly as necessary to open Arkady up thoroughly and efficiently.
"And this," he said, pressing it in, watching in fascination as it disappeared into his body--a startlingly erotic sight, even without any accompanying sensation--"is a piece of plastic, engineered with some care for this purpose."
Aral worked his fingers against the base, and Arkady made a startled noise, hips twitching involuntarily. He was a little breathless when he said, "Still with you."
"Ah, but you don't have to be," Aral said, and Arkady looked over his shoulder with a puzzled frown.
Aral reached out with his clean hand and tugged on Arkady's shoulder. Arkady obediently pushed himself upright, his breath hitching as he did, and turned under the gentle pressure of Aral's hand.
Aral kissed him softly, reassuringly, while holding him at just the same distance as before. Arkady's mouth opened more easily to him now, mouth hot and soft and eager. Aral pushed him back after a moment, and this time when he met Arkady's eyes, Arkady looked a little dazed, wide-eyed and blinking. Arkady was in the middle of sex, while Aral was still fully clothed.
"Now," Aral said softly, pushing on Arkady's shoulder, "turn and walk away from me."
Arkady blinked, visibly pulling himself together, and then nodded and pivoted on his heel and took one cautious step and then another. His hands were opening and closing, his breath visibly uneven.
Aral smiled and occupied his hands with a sterilizing wipe from the drawer to keep from reaching out. "You feel that. That's still me, Arkan. Still touching you, even when you're out of my reach, even if we're not in the same room. I'm still in you, and I still get the pleasure of knowing what I'm doing to you, no matter where you are."
Arkady halted, looking over his shoulder.
Aral tilted his head a little and added, "Even when we're not together, this is still with us. Between us."
Arkady turned half-toward him, nodding. They'd had that conversation in a few different ways now. Aral was reasonably certain that Arkady believed him, but only time would demonstrate that it was actually true, and what it really meant to either of them.
Arkady walked back toward Aral, reaching out a hand. Aral took it and held it, meeting Arkady in yet another kiss. Arkady broke the kiss but pressed his forehead to Aral's, keeping too close for eye contact. "I should get dressed."
"You should," Aral agreed. "I'll take it--"
Arkady shook his head slightly and said, "Let me keep it a while?"
Aral shuddered. What Arkady proposed was instantly, perfectly clear to him. Arkady wearing it under his uniform, working beside him. Aral would have to go through the day knowing exactly what he was feeling, and why. He felt his own cock trying to answer as Arkady's had already begun to.
"Please, sir," Arkady said, and there was a smile in his voice as he added, "You won't even know, I promise you."
"Of course I'll know," Aral growled, getting both hands firmly on Arkady's shoulders, but neither pushing him away nor pulling him closer. "That's half the bloody point."
Arkady ducked his head slightly and said, "If you think I shouldn't...."
"I think you may not find it nearly as fun as you're thinking right now that it will be," Aral said. "I think it will distract both of us. But I--as your commanding officer--"
Arkady did pull his head back a little at that, meeting his gaze.
"I won't forbid it," Aral said, shaking his head. "The personal mischief a junior officer gets up to is his own business, so long as he doesn't make it unavoidably mine. I would give any of my subordinates a bit of leeway for an off day now and again, and you're no different."
Arkady nodded slightly.
"As your lover," Aral went on, "I beg you not to keep it past when it stops being fun, is that clear? I--" delight in your happiness, "I share your pleasure, and your pain, and I much prefer the former. This isn't any kind of test. It's just a toy."
Arkady nodded again.
"And if you're serious about this," Aral added, turning back to the drawer, "allow me to recommend a second little item, to prevent you ruining the line of your uniform while you're experimenting."
Arkady was right behind him when he turned, and when Aral held up the little strip--Arkady would surely know what it was--only nodded and said, "Yes, please, sir. If you would."
Aral checked that it was set the right way and then quickly and efficiently fastened it, tight enough and no tighter. Arkady's face went blank when it activated, his cock going soft almost instantly.
"Fuck, that's weird," Arkady said, looking down. He touched himself curiously, jerking his hand back when he realized that he was as sensitive as ever, just not getting hard.
"It is, isn't it?" Aral said, striving to sound more amiably knowing than aroused by the intimate awareness of what Arkady was feeling. "Like cold but not actually cold."
Arkady looked up sharply, meeting his eyes, and his mouth formed a small soundless oh for a few seconds before Arkady swallowed and said, "You've--you've used--"
"Not that one," Aral said, and found himself far more tempted to tell Arkady about it than he'd ever imagined he might be. It was, the way he was thinking of it now, far more a story about himself than her. "But--yes."
Arkady's gaze flicked sideways to the drawer, doubtless remembering who had first stocked it, and what that implied about her knowledge of the uses of all those fascinating products. The excited color in his cheeks deepened toward red, and Aral leaned in to kiss him before that train of thought could wander too far afield for either of them.
Arkady kissed back with reassuring alacrity.
"Would you like help getting dressed?" Aral asked, when he pulled away to breathe.
Arkady opened his eyes, ran a hand over his hair--still perfect--and smiled shakily as he said, "I think I'd better do it myself."
Aral returned the smile as he took a step back. "I'll see you after breakfast, then, Lieutenant."
Arkady managed to walk all the way from the bed to the wardrobe, but then he had to stop and lean his forehead against the door. If he kept quite still he could almost--well, no, he couldn't ignore it, but the sensation stayed the same. He could acclimate to it.
He'd been standing there half a minute before he rocked on his heels, sending pleasure and a breathtaking rush of sensation through him. He felt his balls tightening, making him yet more conscious of his impossibly soft cock. He didn't dare touch himself there, but after another moment of breathing through it, he stepped back and opened the wardrobe door, stepping in again to prop one foot on the boot rack.
He reached between his legs, biting down hard on his lip as he brushed the tip of his cock with his wrist, to touch the plug in his ass. The plastic was already body-warm and it wasn't, really, so big. He knew that. It was just there, where Aral had put it, where Aral knew it was, and it--
Arkady rocked his fingers against and his breath caught. It shouldn't be so--it shouldn't feel so--it was nothing he hadn't felt before, with someone else or alone, not really. But he opened his eyes and looked at the uniform he was about to put on, and thought of Aral's voice and Aral's hands. He thought of walking around all day like this while no one else could tell the difference.
He knew he shouldn't. Aral hadn't forbidden him to do it, but Arkady still knew it was irresponsible to be playing at something like this during duty hours, to be making such a game of his uniform, his work. He certainly never had before; he'd never even been tempted, before Aral, to daydream about a man he knew when he was on duty. It had been a part of his life that stayed entirely separate, conducted in dim rooms, wearing civvies when they wore anything at all, not speaking ranks or last names.
That was what Aral had been saying about this, the metaphor of it: things were different now. He had Aral under his skin, in his head, in his heart, all the time now, in or out of uniform, on duty or off, in his own bed or in the Prime Minister's office. So why not....
Arkady twitched his fingers again, shifting the plug inside him, making his breath catch and sweat break out down his spine at just the thought of feeling this all day. He'd have to speak, walk, behave perfectly normally, focus on his work. He couldn't let on at all, at the same time that he wouldn't be able to forget.
He really shouldn't. He knew perfectly well that he shouldn't. But Aral hadn't forbidden him, and if anything urgent came up he could stop, and in the meantime he could try.
Just for an hour, he told himself. He could try it just until they got to the office, and then he would stop. That wouldn't do any harm.
Arkady carried it off well, all through the usual morning routine of departure from Vorkosigan House. He greeted Cordelia with such aplomb while collecting Aral from the breakfast room that Aral thought he must have given up on the idea. Aral was distracted--scolding himself for the faint, juvenile sense of disappointment at a game called off--while Arkady chatted unexceptionally with the Armsmen on their way out to the groundcar.
Aral got in first, as usual, and glanced up as Arkady followed. He moved the same as always, bending down quite smoothly and climbing inside; only Aral, watching him, was in position to see the telltale flush bloom on his face as he did.
Aral glanced down at his wrist comm, fiddling with it until Arkady was settled across from him. He couldn't help but be acutely conscious of every slight sound of movement, and the little hitches of Arkady's breathing. Aral kept his own steady by a concentrated act of will.
When he couldn't resist anymore, he glanced up to find Arkady sitting quite still, shuffling intently through some flimsies. There was still a fading flush painted across his cheeks and the tops of his ears. Aral felt his heart thump suddenly faster at the thought of closing the distance and tossing the flimsies away; he thought he could hear his blood rushing in his ears, but it might only be the muffled sound of traffic outside.
"Lieutenant," he said out loud, because he was much better safe than sorry. "Do you happen to know if I remembered to take my blood pressure medication today?"
Arkady froze, and then his lips curved up slightly. He looked at Aral through his lashes, not lifting his head. "You did, sir. There weren't any pills left by your plate when I came in to fetch you."
Aral nodded. He'd been pretty certain he had, but he hadn't been at his most attentive this morning. Cordelia had given up even trying to make light conversation after a few minutes, just smiling one of those very Betan smiles. And today, he had a feeling, would have been a bad day to forget.
"Mind you," Arkady said, looking down again, but Aral could see the flush darkening again as he spoke. "One state of excitement is much like another as far as your cardiovascular system is concerned. A day of sustained anxiety or anger puts as much stress on your heart as any other form of physiological arousal."
He sounded quite steady, almost prim, and Aral wanted him so badly it hurt. He couldn't think of a more eloquent rejoinder than, "Come over here and say that."
Arkady was startled into a laugh, looking up at him as he did, and then his eyes went abruptly unfocused and his breath caught. He looked away abruptly. Aral could see a faint sheen of sweat at the back of his neck.
"No," Aral agreed, sitting back firmly in his own seat and directing his gaze out through the canopy. "On second thought, you'd better stay there."
Arkady pulled up the usual number of files and programs on the comconsole at his desk. He did take the liberty of arranging them so that the holo displays hid him as much as possible from anyone who walked into the office, but he thought that was more or less harmless.
The walk from the groundcar to the Prime Minister's office had required such singleminded concentration that it had seemed to go by very quickly. Like an emergency or a fight, once embarked upon it simply had to be gotten through. It was only now, sitting at his desk and trying to get on with a rather quiet morning's routine, that Arkady could appreciate the position he'd put himself into.
He'd told himself, back at the house, that he'd felt this before, but he hadn't. Not like this, not all mixed up with his ordinary life like this. And it wasn't unpleasant, as Aral had seemed concerned it would be. It was dizzyingly, dangerously pleasurable; he felt as though he had a very pleasant sort of fever. His whole body felt slightly overheated, sensitive everywhere to the slightest touch. The familiar weight of his uniform had become a strange sort of all-over caress.
And that was to say nothing of the toy inside him. Glancing around the outer office--momentarily empty apart from himself--Arkady clenched down on it again, shifting in his seat as the wave of pleasure washed through him. It was exactly like a wave on the lake, going nowhere in particular, without any particular urgency to reach completion. It simply was, a strange haze of pleasure that blurred everything else and carried on and on and on.
Arkady answered the comm twice, modulating his voice correctly, taking precise notes, making schedule adjustments. He reviewed reports. He rocked slightly in his seat again and his eyes nearly shivered closed. He ought--he really ought to stop soon. It was irresponsible to let himself be so distracted on duty, to take such shameless pleasure from this secret dereliction.
But he remembered the way Aral had looked, in the groundcar, when he'd realized Arkady still had the toy, and he knew that he wouldn't. Not just yet, not when he could last another hour, and make Aral look at him like that just one more time. He could carry on a little longer.
He glanced at his chrono, and at the door, and braced one hand on the desk as he squirmed in the chair again.
Aral stood and shook hands with Vorafanasiev, aware that he'd been both distracted and abrupt throughout their meeting. Fortunately it had had the effect of cowing the young minister into bewildered eagerness to please. Aral was reasonably certain he'd neither promised nor demanded anything that had not been neatly laid out in the bullet point agenda he'd spent most of the last half-hour staring at to keep himself from trying to look right through the closed door to the outer office.
On cue, the office door opened a moment after Aral stood, and he could see Jole--only slightly pink at the ears this time--ushering in Vorafansiev's civilian secretary and a captain from his staff to collect their superior. Aral exchanged salutes with the captain and turned toward Vorafanasiev when he leaned in for some last word.
"Your man doesn't look well," the minister murmured. "I hope it's nothing contagious."
Aral couldn't help looking toward Jole at that; it was a natural, inevitable moment for it. He was standing just exactly on the threshold, neither in nor out, precisely positioned to move things along as necessary. He was less flushed than he'd been in the first hour of the day, but his eyes had a certain glassiness to them which could possibly look like fever to anyone who didn't realize his true condition.
"It's nothing serious," Aral said, schooling his expression to unconcern. "He'll be back to himself by the end of the day, I'm sure."
Vorafanasiev nodded agreeably and hurried away, probably trying to escape before Aral's momentary benevolence could evaporate. Jole ushered the lot of them out without a backward glance, and Aral retreated to his desk to steal a few moments before his next appointment to regain some equilibrium.
He was in no more danger than he'd been that morning of distorting the line of his uniform; desperately conscious though he was of what Arkady was doing--feeling--in the next room, Aral's body stubbornly declined to respond. Desire was a persistent hungry ache, blood rushing to his cock without accomplishing anything except to make him exquisitely conscious of what he wanted and the myriad reasons he couldn't have it. Seeing Jole at the usual intervals all morning had been pleasure and torture at once; glimpses of his distracted pleasure were the closest Aral had come to any hope of satisfaction.
Aral scrubbed a hand over his face, cursing himself for a fool. He couldn't imagine, now, why he'd thought this would be a greater torment for Arkady than for himself. Had he had the impossible hubris to imagine that it would be Arkady who would learn a lesson in what was between them even when they couldn't touch? If so, he was being amply punished now.
There was something apt, indeed, in his predicament. He could see the humor in it, even if it was no comfort while he was tormented with impossibilities. He, who had commanded worlds, who still occupied such a very high office, was rendered entirely helpless by this one bewitchingly aroused lieutenant.
As if in response to the thought, with supernaturally perfect timing as always, the outer door of the office opened again and Jole stepped through.
"Sir," he said, standing just inside the open door.
Aral looked up, schooling his face to a bland look of inquiry. Jole's flush was rising again, and he stood very still.
"You got through that one ahead of schedule. You have twenty-six minutes now until your next appointment."
Aral nodded, looking down at his desk to avoid watching too hungrily. "Thank you, Jole."
"Do you mind, sir, if I...."
Aral looked up in time to see Jole gesturing, with a perfectly modulated degree of sheepishness, to the door of the private washroom attached to the inner office. Aral nodded, waving him toward it even as he looked down again. The door to the outer office was open; Arkady had said sir. The game would end, just like that, and the day would become an ordinary day.
Aral picked up a stylus, just for something to clench his fist around. He reminded himself that he had told Jole to do this, to end the game when it wasn't fun anymore. He had no right to expect anything else. They could debrief tonight, in privacy, and perhaps by then he would be good for something.
The office door closed with a soft click; Aral did not look up to watch Jole walk with impeccable posture and fevered eyes across the office. He listened, unavoidably, to the sound of Jole stepping through the door into the little cubicle beyond.
Arkady said, in an unmistakably personal tone, "Twenty five minutes thirty seconds, sir."
Oh, Arkady thought, heart thumping faster as Aral got smoothly to his feet, his grey eyes bright and intent and his stance very nearly predatory. That's what it takes to get you to come the commanding officer at me. Noted.
Aral covered the distance between them in a few quick strides, and Arkady couldn't help backing up into the washroom, though he couldn't go far. When his ass hit the sink he shivered, his eyes going unfocused between the toy inside him and the man bearing down on him.
Aral's hand closed on Arkady's arm, and his voice was rough as he said, "What have you got in your pockets for this contingency, Arkan?"
Arkady smiled a little at the pet name combined with the ferocity. He ducked his head to hide his expression as he reached into his pocket and withdrew two single-use packets of lubricant. His hand was shaking as he held them out.
"Good," Aral said, something between a growl and a sigh, and his hand closed on Arkady's, holding him steady. Aral pulled Arkady into a kiss, fast and thorough.
Arkady, who'd felt himself teetering on the brink for hours, shuddered at the contact, moaning helplessly into Aral's mouth.
"Turn," Aral directed, sounding breathless himself as he pulled back. Arkady complied, unfastening his belt and uniform trousers as he went.
"Hands on the wall."
Arkady obeyed again, bending to put his hands to the wall just above the sink, canting his hips out helpfully and lowering his shoulders enough that he could look up into Aral's face in the mirror. He watched Aral look him over--still perfectly in uniform from that vantage, his loosened belt and fly hidden--and then Aral met his gaze in the mirror.
"What was it you said this morning?" Aral rested one hand on Arkady's hip, fingers just creeping over the top of his trousers. His eyes lowered, following his hand. "About what you'd rather have?"
Arkady stared, his mind a blank as his hips twitched under the pressure of Aral's hand, and then Aral's gaze flicked up to meet his again. Aral raised an eyebrow.
Arkady forced himself to recall what he'd been asked and answer.
"You," he managed. "I'd rather have you--"
Aral, mercifully, jerked Arkady's trousers down and then his underwear. Just the brush of his knuckles over Arkady's bare buttocks was enough to make his knees weaken. He did his best to spread his legs, leaning his weight into the wall to keep steady.
Arkady remembered what Aral had asked him, though, and he understood: Aral wasn't any harder than he was just now, and without intervention. This wouldn't be the sex he'd hardly dared to envision, but Aral had asked him what he wanted, and he wanted this any way he could have it.
"Your hands, your voice. I want you, not some piece of plastic."
"Though the piece of plastic has performed admirably," Aral remarked, his voice gone so gruff that Arkady could almost feel it, like a rasp on his sensitized skin.
The next second Arkady swallowed back a sob as Aral's fingers pressed against the toy, moving it inside him in tiny thrusts. His hips jerked uselessly, and his cock swung, heavy and limp, against his bare thigh, startling a sound from Arkady on his next breath. "Please."
"Breathe," was all the warning Aral gave him, but the slight unpleasantness of the toy being withdrawn was a welcome respite from the unrelenting pleasure of the last few hours.
It lasted just long enough for him to take a breath, and then Aral's fingers, already slick, were pressing into him, two at once, familiar and yet strange after his body had adjusted to the rigidity of the toy. Just the twist and press of Aral's fingers inside him, warm and mobile and deliberate, made him gasp and arch, and if he could come without actually coming, he was about to.
"Please," Arkady repeated. One hand pulled back involuntarily before he slapped it against the wall again. "Please, Aral, let me--"
"Ah, yes," Aral murmured. "Shh, be still, Arkan."
Arkady squeezed his eyes shut, listening to his own rough breathing and the wet sound that was all the warning he got. Aral's two fingers pulled out and three pushed in, wet and enough to stretch him a little now. He pushed back into Aral's hand, and Aral made another soothing noise and shifted to one side, reaching around Arkady with his other hand.
The light touch of Aral's fingertips against his cock made his whole body jerk. The little strip fell away and his head went light as he hardened faster than he could ever remember. Aral kept one hand low on his belly, and his fingers withdrew almost entirely from Arkady's ass, just teasing at the rim.
Arkady kept his feet--it flashed absurdly across his mind that his physical therapists from ImpMil would be so proud if they could see him now--and the first dizzy rush passed after a few breaths. Aral's hand closed around his cock and Aral's fingers pushed back into him, slick and rough.
Arkady opened his eyes again, but the angle in the mirror was no good. He had to turn his head to look.
Aral was looking back, and now he leaned in, pressing against Arkady's side as his hands worked on Arkady, filling him, stroking him, driving him on. Aral's eyes were dark, his cheeks ruddy with desire, and yet there was no completion for Arkady to worry about except his own. He rocked his hips back and forth between Aral's hands, scarcely able to breathe. He wanted this to last forever, this moment of satisfaction after all the teasing of the day, but he wanted to get there, too, wanted to finish this.
"Aral," Arkady gasped. It was beyond him even to beg.
"Yes," Aral said, pressing just there, hand twisting just so, and Arkady dropped his forehead against the mirror as he came, his whole body shaking with it. Aral's hands kept moving in and on him, pushing and coaxing him through every last shudder.
He stilled, eventually, letting his hands drop to the sides of the sink. Aral's hands left him, gently, and Arkady reached out and flipped on the sonic cleaner that had been retrofitted onto the sink. Aral stuck his left hand under it first, and then they shuffled around, both still trying to keep pressed together while changing places. Arkady tugged up his underwear while he was at it, and only briefly had to lean against the wall before he propped himself against Aral instead, leaning against his back while Aral stuck his other hand under the sonic cleaner.
Aral turned the water tap on after that to wash up properly, and under the running of the water, Arkady said quietly, "Thank you."
He felt Aral's reaction to that, a faint puzzled tensing of his body. Arkady looked up to meet Aral's gaze in the mirror. He looked fondly amused, that fierce aura of command dissolved away.
"For showing me," Arkady specified, smiling a little foolishly himself.
Aral laughed and elbowed Arkady away just enough so that he could turn without putting wet hands on Arkady's uniform. Aral kissed him softly this time.
"You are an education, Arkan," Aral murmured.
Arkady would have protested--he had been the one who hadn't understood beforehand, after all--but Aral nodded toward the towel, and Arkady handed it to him.
"Next time," Aral said meditatively, drying his hands. "We'll plan it better, and I can fuck you over the desk."
Arkady swallowed something that might have been a whimper, and when he met Aral's eyes there was a mischievous shadow of his earlier ferocity there. The rest of the day, Arkady realized, was not going to be so very much easier than this morning.
Arkady smiled, and answered properly. "Yes, sir. I'll see when I can make room on your calendar."
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