Fic: There's Nothing You and I Won't Do
Title: There's Nothing You and I Won't Do
Fandom: The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
Pairing: Aral and Cordelia Vorkosigan
Theme set: Delta
Warning[s]: Sexuality, violence, but nothing graphic. SPOILERS UP TO DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY.
#03 - Beginning
The woman coughs, choking on nothing, turns on her side and vomits into the mud; she is, he thinks, the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.
#21 - Head
He makes an abortive move to cover Cor-- Commander Naismith's head, and realizes just in time that such a protective gesture would certainly be read wrong.
#29 - Old
She didn't realize she loved him until he proposed, but it came as no surprise all the same; somehow she'd known all along.
#25 - Light
Three months since she came back from that nameless planet, three months under a harsh Betan sun and her mother's worried eyes, and she has begun to long for the soft greys and blues of twilight by a waterfall, and a steady, compassionate gaze.
#08 - Doors
He pushes Ges's door open, heart pounding, plasma arc in hand, and sees her, her eyes wide as a startled deer's and spatters of blood on her face; knows in a single endless moment that if she has been hurt, it was because of him, and that if she has been hurt, he will never forgive himself.
#10 - Duty
It's safer for her, if she's far, far away from Ezar's schemes, or so he tells himself; the truth is he'll sacrifice everything to his duty, even this, even her.
#13 - Fall
Cordelia tries to trace her emotions, to find the one trigger that undid her--his smile, or his unexpected kindness, or his willingness to take her as she was--or just him, in the end, all of him.
#26 - Lost
She's gone irrevocably this time, said 'no' and got on a ship and flew away, and no matter what she said, he knows there are no solutions: Barrayar is in his bones, what he can't give, and Barrayar is what she fears, what she can't take.
#27 - Metal
The long trip across the stars to Barrayar is the worst she's ever experienced; trapped and uncertain, questioning herself, so in love she's sick and so afraid she's euphoric, and really, can't they make ships look like something other than jail cells?
#09 - Drink
God knows he's dreamed of her, imagined her, even on one memorable and drunken occasion hallucinated her, so even now with her arm across his chest and her breathing soft in his ear, he can hardly believe she's real.
#14 - Fire
He's too drunk the first night and too hungover the second; so he makes love to her for the first time the morning of their third day together, the sun catching like fire in her hair.
#45 - Ugly
He is not an attractive man (unless you're Cordelia); she's too strong-featured for beauty (unless you're Aral).
#05 - Coffee
The first time Cordelia really understands that she's married is the morning she ends up drinking half of Aral's coffee without either of them noticing.
#02 - Apples
"What the hell goes in this stuff?" she gasps, coughing (she hadn't been expecting alcohol that potent); "Apples," Aral says, with a straight face (he fully expected the punch on the shoulder).
#22 - Hollow
Somewhere in the first few months on Barrayar, Cordelia realized with a start that all the holes in her soul, detritus from her last disastrous lover, had been quietly and without ceremony filled up.
#23 – Honor
It was only after he married Cordelia that Aral realized he’d been looking for honor in the wrong places: it wasn’t in blind duty, or in service to the end, but in the way she knew him and the way he knew her, and in her sea-grey eyes.
#47 - Water
The sun and the gentle rocking of the boat and Aral's shoulder comfortably beneath her head are conspiring to lull her to sleep; it's been a while, she thinks drowsily, since she felt this safe.
#49 - Winter
Aral thinks winter just might be his new favorite season, because Cordelia is constantly cold, and prone to using him as her personal space heater.
#20 - Green
Barrayar is so alive, compared to Beta Colony, that it almost dazzles her eyes; it seems a place for growing things, she thinks, rubbing a hand over her belly.
#31 - Poison
She breathes deeply, eyes catching his in attempted reassurance--she doesn't understand yet what this will do to the child she carries, but when she realizes... he almost hopes that she will hate him for it: it will be easier to bear than her pain.
#35 - Roses
The doctor is explaining something about a violent hemorrhage and soltoxin pneumonia and touch-and-go, all of which translates to 'she might die in the next couple of hours, please don't sue us if she does;' Aral stares blindly at a bouquet of roses somebody sent in sympathy, and hates those flowers for the rest of his life.
#42 - Strange
He knew that she'd go, that she had to try to save their son, knew that she'd stopped the argument to keep him from asking her not to go, knows that he can't bear to lose her too, and knowing all that, doesn't know why he didn't stop her.
#24 - Hope
While his father rages and the advisors cluck their tongues, Aral gets Vaagen to set up his laboratory, because if there's one person whose sheer determination he will never underestimate, it's Cordelia.
#30 - Peace
She yanks the bag open and rolls Vordarian's head across the table and meets his gaze, her eyes full of strength and pride and anger, and yes, oh, yes, this--she--is perfect.
#46 - War
Aral tells her afterwards that Vordarian's ministers were very quick to settle after she made her appearance: she may not start wars, Cordelia thinks with a certain grim amusement, but by god she can finish them.
#37 - Snakes
Lady Vorkosigan actually has excellent instincts, as far as politics goes; it gets so the Lord Regent depends on her judgment more than Illyan's, which would annoy him if she wasn't right so often.
#16 - Flying
It seems like every time Lord and Lady Vorkosigan are in the same lightflyer, they come out of it with mussed hair and sheepish expressions; the Armsmen have grown to hate chauffeur duty.
#34 - Regret
He asked her once, in one of his more unhappy phases during the Regency, if she had any regrets; she thinks of her mother and brother still too angry to write and children she will never have, of a home she can no longer go to and friends she can no longer trust, of the deadly dance of politics and her son's fragile frame, and lies, because God knows Aral doesn't want the truth.
#32 - Pretty
Aral is certain that she'd never tell him, but sometimes he catches Cordelia gazing wistfully at Bothari's pretty little girl, and he knows she is mourning the daughter she always wanted; his only comfort at those times is that she wanted that daughter with him.
#18 - Foot
She's ready to tear her hair out by the time Aral's foot finally heals, but at least there were some benefits; he's a terrible patient (drove her crazy), but he stayed put (with her) for three consecutive weeks.
#40 - Spring
"Your son," Cordelia begins, holding out a spring and an unidentifiable piece of metal, and Aral winces; Miles is only ever his son when he's been getting into trouble.
#19 - Grave
It's hard enough to keep a straight face when Officially Disapproving of Miles's latest adventures; he really doesn't need Cordelia laughing silently over their small son's head.
#38 - Snow
Cordelia views snow with deep suspicion, especially after the first winter, full of war and death and blood on all that white, and the fifth, when Aral helped Miles put a snowball down her back.
#36 - Secret
The key to eavesdropping on his parents' private conversations, Miles discovered, was knowing enough to fill in everything they did not say.
#17 - Food
Miles is so proud of himself, so much the Mighty Hunter that she just can't refuse to eat what he's caught, but she can't really stomach more than a bite or two either; Aral discreetly kidnaps her remaining portion, and she turns on him eyes full of gratitude, all the thanks he needed.
#39 - Solid
Miles accused them once of telepathy, which made Cordelia snort and Aral have a sudden coughing fit, because it never occurred to either of them that sixteen years of fighting with, sleeping with, scolding and advising and loving someone looked that way from the outside.
#11 - Earth
He finds her staring at the map, eyes distant, chin in her hand, with the index finger of the opposite hand circling Earth over and over, and knows she is thinking of their other son.
#48 - Welcome
He dithered for days over whether to greet Mark in person, but in the end, the idea of a son not of his loins is just too strange for him; thank goodness Cordelia can handle it, his true partner.
#01 - Air
"The Count's had a heart attack," someone says on the comm; the words twist and blur strangely in her ears, and for half a moment Cordelia cannot breathe.
#06 - Dark
Cordelia should go back to Beta Colony after he dies, he thinks, back home; it stings unexpectedly to remember that Barrayar is not her home, and he is selfishly, secretly glad that she will outlive him.
#07 - Despair
One son is dead, with only the slimmest chance at recovery; one son is gone, just as she began to know him; her husband is sick, maybe dying in a hospital bed; Cordelia clenches her hands together until her knuckles turn white, and will not weep.
#15 - Flexible
"Thirty-three years with you," Cordelia counts, ticking points off on her fingers the way she only does mid-argument, "thirty-two years with Barrayar, thirty-one years with Miles and three years with Mark, not to mention everything I lived through before I met you, and you're seriously suggesting I'm not flexible?"
#12 - End
Sergyar is... appropriate somehow, the beginning as the end; he watches Cordelia shoo away various hangers-on, her hair pulled back and her hands on a ghostly weapons-belt, and amends that thought: the end as was the beginning.
#50 - Wood
Wood fires, wooden doors, wooden dancing floors all seem so strange and precious to her still, much like her husband; everyday things made extraordinary, she thinks, and curls tighter into his arms.
#44 - Taboo
They have never discussed Aral's first wife or her lovers, or Ges Vorrutyer for that matter, and Cordelia might have felt hurt but for the fact that they've never discussed her first lover either; some scars are just too painful to touch.
#33 - Rain
A snapshot: rain pattering across the lake, an open window, Countess Vorkosigan framed in her husband's arms, her eyes closed and her face peaceful.
#04 - Bugs
Cordelia laughs until she wheezes, catches her breath, gets a better look at Aral's expression and laughs some more; he thinks, scraping butter-bug out of his shoe, that it is perhaps not that funny.
#28 - New
With this most recent reminder of his mortality behind him, Aral has begun to take a closer look at his life; at his sons, Miles and Mark, brilliant and noisy and hurting in so many complicated ways, and at his wife, Cordelia, intelligent and breathtaking and a little changed every day, always new, always beloved.
#41 - Stable
One of the few things Illyan remembers clearly is his first impressions of the Admiral and his Captain; he never thought they'd last, both too demon-haunted and unsteady, and from such different backgrounds too, and yet... he would not have bet against them, either.
#43 - Summer
"I'm going to have grandchildren!" Cordelia says gleefully, just out of the blue one summer night, which makes him laugh, which makes her kiss him, which leads to other things, and about-to-be-grandparents should probably not be behaving like newlyweds, but bugger all that.