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21 May 2006 @ 11:18 am
"Fluidity" -- fic for Zortified  
Title: Fluidity
Author: sahiya
Recipient: zortified
Rating/Warnings: PG-13 for men kissing each other
Author's Notes: Thanks to eolianbeck for beta reading. zortified said in her request: "I'd love to see Ivan doing just about anything except mess up and be made to look foolish. Slash here would be a definite bonus." Hope this suits.
Summary: God, but how Ivan was growing to hate weddings.

Fluidity

God, but how Ivan was growing to hate weddings.

He used to like them all right. They were an excuse to get drunk, and usually he got laid at the end of the evening, both of which he considered very good things. Now that all his friends seemed to be traveling in pairs, however, they were just getting depressing.

Especially this one.

He’d first slept with Donna Vorrutyer after a wedding, he recalled. Not one of hers – the daughter of one of Ivan’s mother’s friends, he thought. The details of the event itself were rather vague, especially since he’d been an even bigger fan back then of the whole “open bar” concept, but he remembered how she’d looked in a blue dress with no back and a neckline that had made his mother frown in disapproval. Ivan was used to pretty girls, but Donna . . . Donna wasn’t a girl. She wasn’t pretty either, exactly. She’d taken him home at the end of the evening – and Ivan realized now that any say he may have had in the matter had been purely for show – and made him completely forget every blushing Vor damsel he’d ever sweet-talked out of her knickers.

And now, he was at her wedding. Her third – or was it fourth? Except she wasn’t the bride this time around.

I need another drink.

Ivan claimed a glass of wine from a passing tray and decided a strategic retreat was in order. Miles was dancing with the bride while Ekaterin chatted with Kareen, and his cousin was probably the only one who’d really object if Ivan took himself off somewhere. Though Ivan wasn’t even sure about that anymore; parties weren’t nearly as much fun now that Miles had gone and gotten engaged. Ivan had always assumed that, what with his off-planet career and everything, Miles would be a bachelor long after Ivan, but apparently not.

As stealthily as possible, Ivan made his way over to the doors that opened out into the Vorrutyer gardens, which were full of one-of-a-kind genetically engineered plants as loony as the Vorrutyer scions who’d thought them up. He was nearly there when he heard, from somewhere just behind him, “Ivan!”

It was the groom himself. Ivan spent a brief moment wondering what he’d ever done to completely piss off the powers that be, if they be, and turned around. Dono, resplendent in a dark blue suit as elegant as any gown Donna had ever worn, stood there, smiling at him. Ivan gulped his wine.

“Aren’t you going to congratulate me?” Dono asked, sweetly, and put a hand on his hip, smile softening. Most of his purely feminine affectations were gone now, Ivan had noticed, but occasionally he had a way of smiling at Ivan that put him in mind of some of their more . . . intimate moments. Damn him if some part of his brain didn’t still find it sexy, despite all intention to the contrary. Very unnerving, that was.

“Yes,” Ivan managed. “Of course. Congratulations. Olivia is . . . lovely.”

“Yes, she is,” Dono said. “Where’s your date?”

Damn him. “I don’t have one,” Ivan said, only choking a little.

“Oh,” Dono said, eyes sparking, “what a shame. If you don’t watch out, you’ll turn into as much of a confirmed bachelor as Byerly.”

Ivan was fairly certain he knew exactly what kind of confirmed bachelor Byerly was. He drew himself up indignantly. “I think you of all people, Dono, know that the chances of that are extremely unlikely.”

“Hmm,” Dono said. “True, I suppose. Though one never knows. Such things are . . . fluid, shall we say. As I well know.”

“Not for some,” Ivan said firmly.

Dono smiled again. “Have a drink, Ivan. Have a few.”

He held up his glass. “Doing all right, thanks. I was just heading out to the gardens for some fresh air.”

“It is a lovely night, isn’t it?” Dono said. “Do you remember that time in the Imperial Gardens at the Emperor’s Birthday? You did that thing with your –”

“Dono,” Ivan interrupted. “Don’t you think it’s a bit, er, inappropriate to be reminiscing with me at your wedding reception?”

The smile became a grin. “True. Though I think it’s even more inappropriate for you to be telling me about propriety.” Dono sipped his wine. “Anyway,” he said, stepping back, “I just came by to collect my congratulations. Have a nice stroll. Oh, and watch out – some of the plants are a tad temperamental.”

Once Dono had gone, Ivan let out a breath, turned, and stepped resolutely outside, vowing to play deaf to any other calls for his attention. He picked a path at random, one eye watching nervously for grasping plant tentacles, but the foliage looked very innocuous and rather pretty, having been strung with millions of tiny lights. Though he’d spent his fair share of time at Vorrutyer House during his liaison with Donna, he’d never seen much more than the portion of the house leading to her bedroom, and certainly never set foot before in the gardens.

Avoiding people turned out not to be much of a problem, since the garden was populated almost entirely by couples with better things to do. Eventually he found an unoccupied bench overlooking a pond filled with large flitting goldfish, probably imported from Earth. Ivan sat, watched the fish, and wished he’d had the foresight to grab more than one glass of wine before leaving the party.

It was not, Ivan thought glumly, that he wanted any of his former girlfriends back. He’d never wanted to marry any of them, not really. Donna had kept his attention the longest, and if he hadn’t been sent off for that stint on Earth, something might have come of that eventually. But everyone before and since had all been so boring. And they’d all wanted to be his mother – not in the sense of mothering Ivan, but in the sense of wanting to become Alys Vorpatril – which was something he’d just as rather avoid, thank you. His problem was not, really, that he’d missed opportunities. It was that the opportunity had never quite seemed to arrive.

Or maybe he was just fooling himself and he’d missed the right girl completely, having been distracted by something bright, shiny, and long-legged. Ivan took a long swallow of wine, head swimming a little, and tried to stop thinking. That had never used to be a problem for him.

“Ah, Lord Ivan!”

Ivan closed his eyes. “Byerly,” he said. Probably it was too much to hope that By would move on quickly.

“At your service,” By said, sweeping him a foppish bow. He sat down next to Ivan on the bench, and Ivan felt his eye twitch. “I must admit, I didn’t expect to find you out here.”

“It was a bit stuffy inside,” Ivan said, looking away.

“And it is a lovely night, is it not?”

“It is.”

“I saw your cousin earlier, with his widow.”

“Well, Miles is hard to miss.”

“True.” By sipped his own wine contemplatively, and was silent for a time – longer than Ivan had ever known him to be silent, actually. It was refreshing. But at last Byerly said, oh so casually, “Won’t your undoubtedly beautiful and Vor-ish date get lonely if you stay out here too long?”

Ivan grimaced.

“Alone, then?” By said, and Ivan knew he was not imagining the note of glee in By’s voice, uncannily like the one in Dono’s earlier. “What a coincidence. So am I. But then, all the young blushing Vor buds have proven sadly immune to my charms.”

“Oh really,” Ivan said, not quite able to resist. “I heard it was the other way around.”

Byerly sighed. “Well, the Vorbarr Sultana rumor mill can be cruel, very cruel indeed, as I’m sure you know.”

“Sometimes rumors have their basis in fact,” Ivan pointed out.

Byerly smiled. “Sometimes they do.”

Ivan raised an eyebrow at him. “And in this case?”

By merely continued smiling. “So many questions from someone notorious for never asking any. One might ask oneself,” he said mildly, “why you’re so curious.”

“I’m not curious.”

“Aren’t you?”

Ivan suddenly became aware that Byerly’s hand had migrated onto his knee. He looked down, blinked at it, and then looked back up at By, who was studying him from mere inches away. “Dono put you up to this, didn’t he?”

“Put me up to what?” By asked innocently. Ivan gave him a look. “Ah,” Byerly said. “No. He didn’t.”

“I find that hard to believe,” Ivan said, wondering vaguely why he hadn’t yet pushed By’s hand away.

“Not that he wouldn’t be thrilled to find out,” By added.

Ivan did stand up then, stumbling as he did so, and Byerly nearly over-balanced. “So that’s what this is about. I suppose you’d also report it to my mother.”

This isn’t anything, Ivan,” Byerly pointed out. “Unless you want it to be.”

Ivan stared at him. “This is nonsense,” he said at last. “I can’t believe I’m even – this is ridiculous.” He shook his head. “It’s – I’m drunk. I’m drunk and you’re here and – God, I hate weddings!”

“You and me both,” Byerly said, more bitterly than Ivan would have expected.

Ivan shook his head. “Look,” he said. “I am going to go. And you are going to stay here. And neither of us is ever going to – ” He broke off as By stood up, stepped forward, and took hold of Ivan’s shoulders.

“To what?” Byerly asked.

“Speak of it ever again,” Ivan finished, rather weakly. He’d meant to step back, but somehow the command got lost between his brain and his legs (and he was afraid he knew exactly where, too). For a moment he thought By was going to make some smartass remark, but he didn’t. Instead he kissed Ivan, holding him in place by the shoulders, until some well-trained part of Ivan’s brain switched on and Ivan found himself responding. By took ruthless advantage of Ivan’s stunned state, gradually sliding his hands down until one rested in the middle of Ivan’s back and the other on Ivan’s arse.

Ivan considered a lot of things in the first ten seconds of that kiss. The fact that he was straight, for instance, and that Byerly Vorrutyer was just about the last person he wanted to cross that line with. He thought about what Miles would say if he ever found out (not that he would), or what Dono would say (far more likely, unfortunately). But he was drunk and it was his ex-lover’s wedding and he frankly hadn’t been laid in longer than he cared to admit.

He put his hands on By’s hips, leaned in, and kissed back.

It was . . . strange, Ivan thought. Not in all the ways it was unlike kissing a woman, actually, but in all the similarities. By had no stubble, his cologne was rather flowery, and he tasted like wine. With his eyes closed, Ivan could almost imagine that he was kissing a woman.

Except . . . no breasts. Which was a shame, really, but not enough of one, it turned out, to deter Ivan. And there were other bits that proved far more interesting than he had expected.

Ivan finally pulled back when By started to tug on his arm, trying to pull him down onto the ground.

“No,” he said, breathlessly.

“Don’t tell me you’re panicking,” By said, equally out of breath.

Well, he was, actually, now that they weren’t distracted, but that wasn’t the point. “The plants bite,” Ivan said.

“What are you – oh. So they do,” By said, glancing around them suspiciously.

“Ah –” Ivan stepped back. “Perhaps we should get back to the party anyway. Miles is probably wondering where I am.”

By nodded and squinted into the sun, which was just starting to set and sending golden fingers of light stroking through the foliage. “I suppose.”

They didn’t speak on the way back to the house. Ivan was trying to make up his mind about something, and he thought Byerly knew it. He didn’t need to say anything, he thought. Once inside they could part, he to Miles and By to Dono or whoever, and they need never say anything about it again. It need never have happened.

They had reached the house. By turned, looked at him, and raised an eyebrow. When Ivan didn’t say anything, he nodded, more to himself than to Ivan, and started to turn away.

“By,” Ivan said, quickly, while parts of his brain lit up in bright red warning lights and started screaming incoherently.

“Yes?” By said, far too quickly. He coughed. “Yes?” he repeated.

Ivan fought a hysterical smile. “I have my lightflyer here,” he said. “I could give you a ride later. Home, I mean.”

By smiled broadly. “Why, Lord Ivan, how . . . gentlemanly. Thank you.”

Ivan nodded. Miles was waving for his attention on the other side of the room, but before he turned away, he leaned over, grabbed By’s arm and said, “If my mother finds out about this –”

“She won’t,” By said. “I have a stake in that too, you know.”

He supposed By did, after all. “Or Dono,” Ivan added.

“Oh, Ivan,” By said, “you wouldn’t force me to keep secrets from my dear cousin, would you?”

Ivan looked at him.

By sighed. “All right.”

By sauntered away. Ivan watched him for a moment, realized he was staring at By’s arse, and shook his head.

“Thirty’s awfully old for sexual confusion.”

Ivan jumped and whirled around. Dono smiled at him. “I’m not confused,” Ivan said firmly. And then, perhaps a bit belatedly, “I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about.”

The smile widened. “You should straighten your collar, Ivan. Someone might think you’ve been necking in the gardens.”

Ivan couldn’t help it. He flushed, and straightened his collar. “You don’t need to look so . . . satisfied,” he muttered.

Dono raised an eyebrow. “Of course I’m satisfied, Ivan. I would be very happy if you and –”

Dono,” Ivan bit out, with a frantic and – he feared – not all that subtle palms-down gesture.

“All right, all right,” Dono said. “Anyway,” he added, patting Ivan’s arm, “if I can help at all in this time of, as I said, confusion –”

“I am not confused,” Ivan hissed. Bloody hell, all Vorrutyers are mad! What was I thinking?

“Of course not.” Dono smiled, showing white teeth and looking more than a little predatory. “But if I may offer one piece of advice?”

Ivan grunted.

“Fluidity,” Dono said, nearly purring at him. “Just remember, it’s all about fluidity.”

fin.
 
 
Current Mood: accomplished
 
 
 
Anne-Elisa: mwahahahaetrangere on May 21st, 2006 12:08 pm (UTC)
absolutly lovely XD

Well, he was, actually, now that they weren’t distracted, but that wasn’t the point. “The plants bite,” Ivan said.

“What are you – oh. So they do,” By said, glancing around them suspiciously.

Loved these lines.
sahiya on May 22nd, 2006 10:22 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Kassia: Happy Cordykassia06 on May 21st, 2006 12:12 pm (UTC)
This was DELIGHTFUL.

I couldn't sleep, and you have just made not-sleeping that much less of a chore.
sahiya on May 22nd, 2006 10:22 am (UTC)
Glad to be of service. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Fictualities: groucho dumont otpfictualities on May 21st, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is very cool. I think you've nailed Ivan -- he's determined to be disengaged, covertly dismayed by his own disengagement, and surprisingly ready for anything when someone else prods him into it. And great kiss!
sahiya on May 22nd, 2006 10:23 am (UTC)
Thank you! *schnoogles Ivan*
firefly_124: expensive by asefirefly124 on May 21st, 2006 01:18 pm (UTC)
Very nice!

And my favorite line has to be this one: "He’d meant to step back, but somehow the command got lost between his brain and his legs (and he was afraid he knew exactly where, too)." *weg*
sahiya on May 22nd, 2006 10:24 am (UTC)
Heh. Aww, Ivan. *schnoogles Ivan*

Thanks for reading!
jetta_e_rus aka Жоржеттаjetta_e_rus on May 21st, 2006 01:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, I like your Dono!
A charming, sly, caustic, bright fellow who sees Ivan through with ease.
sahiya on May 22nd, 2006 10:24 am (UTC)
Thank you!
a Job's muffler: Flyboyshedda62 on May 21st, 2006 02:13 pm (UTC)
Very enjoyable! I was a bit worried at first it would be Ivan/Dono, which at Dono's wedding would just be... wrong. Ivan/By, though, is a delightful pairing, and your dialogue is spot-on.

Though considering the line about missing breasts and other parts compensating, I'm wondering if Ivan needs to meet some Betan hermaphrodites.
sahiya on May 22nd, 2006 10:26 am (UTC)
Ivan/Dono would have been very, very wrong indeed.

I think poor Ivan has about all he can handle at the moment. A Betan hermaphrodite would probably overwhelm the poor boy. Would be a most interesting fic though.

Thanks for reading and commenting!
(no subject) - ari_ on June 22nd, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sahiya on June 23rd, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
quietannquietann on May 21st, 2006 02:23 pm (UTC)
well, you know... snicker. giggle. very nice. and By and Dono really are evil, aren't they!
sahiya on May 22nd, 2006 10:26 am (UTC)
They really are.

Thanks!
fuzzyboo03fuzzyboo03 on May 21st, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
Unbelievably amazing. You nailed Ivan and By perfectly.
sahiya on May 22nd, 2006 10:27 am (UTC)
Thank you!
zortified on May 21st, 2006 03:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was fantastic! (Though I feel bad, since I had to drop out - been sick for two months and this weekend is the first time I've actually been well! So great to celebrate with Ivan fic!)

Thank you very much for writing this for me!
sahiya on May 22nd, 2006 10:28 am (UTC)
You're welcome! I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I'd never written Vorkosi-fic outside the A Deeper Season universe before, so this was a lot o fun.

And glad to hear you're feeling better!
Dark Rhiannondarkrhiannon on May 21st, 2006 10:13 pm (UTC)
Brilliant--you kept them all so perfectly ic, while pushing Ivan past his own perceived boundaries. Yummy!
sahiya on May 22nd, 2006 10:29 am (UTC)
Thank you!

That is the problem with Ivan slash, isn't it? He's so terribly straight in canon. Glad to hear it worked for you.
lyraslyras on May 22nd, 2006 03:27 am (UTC)
Your Dono is spot on, as is Ivan with all his vague bewilderment and world-weariness. Poor love! Hopefully By (and I loved the throwaway line about him being more bitter than Ivan would have expected) will help him relax a little :).
sahiya on May 22nd, 2006 10:29 am (UTC)
Hopefully. *pats Ivan*

Thank you!
quietannquietann on May 23rd, 2006 08:33 pm (UTC)
He’d first slept with Donna Vorrutyer after a wedding, he recalled. Not one of hers – the daughter of one of Ivan’s mother’s friends, he thought. The details of the event itself were rather vague, especially since he’d been an even bigger fan back then of the whole “open bar” concept, but he remembered how she’d looked in a blue dress with no back and a neckline that had made his mother frown in disapproval. Ivan was used to pretty girls, but Donna . . . Donna wasn’t a girl. She wasn’t pretty either, exactly. She’d taken him home at the end of the evening – and Ivan realized now that any say he may have had in the matter had been purely for show – and made him completely forget every blushing Vor damsel he’d ever sweet-talked out of her knickers.


do you mind if I grab this as a plot bunny?
sahiya on May 25th, 2006 09:12 am (UTC)
Be my guest!
(no subject) - quietann on May 26th, 2006 02:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sahiya on May 26th, 2006 11:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
Jedi Interdictor: howl earring by silchijedishampoo on May 23rd, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed reading very much! Nicely written, with a lovely and light wry tone throughout, so perfect for the situation and world and characters. Great dialogue-- none of it felt out of place coming from the mouths of these characters.

I've always seen Ivan as pretty much completely heterosexual (would that be a 1 on the Kinsey scale?), but really, Ivan can be talked into anything, I think, depending on the person who's doing it. And By is like Ivan a lot-- certainly is much more crafty than he pretends to be.

(Though I've always secretly thought that Ivan/Gregor would be sorta hot. ::hides from roommate::)

“Thirty’s awfully old for sexual confusion.”

Ivan jumped and whirled around. Dono smiled at him. “I’m not confused,” Ivan said firmly. And then, perhaps a bit belatedly, “I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about.”

The smile widened. “You should straighten your collar, Ivan. Someone might think you’ve been necking in the gardens.”


This was a very cute and in-character little exchange that I particularly liked (though isn't Ivan like 35 here?). Thanks for writing and posting! :)

sahiya on May 25th, 2006 09:17 am (UTC)
No, this is set fairly soon after Miles and Ekaterin's engagement -- or possibly just after the wedding. Anyway, I was thinking that would make Ivan thirty, maybe thirty-one. It's entirely possible I messed that up though.

Anyway, I would also peg canon!Ivan as a 1 on the Kinsey scale. But he's sexually frustrated here, and just frustrated and fed up in general, which is when things tend to happen with Ivan.

I think Ivan/Gregor would be hot as well. Someone should write that.
busaikko on May 24th, 2006 07:52 am (UTC)
Beautiful! And now I really, really want a Part 2.

PS you can blame etrangere for seducing me to Ivan/By....
sahiya on May 25th, 2006 09:19 am (UTC)
Hmm. *considers* You know, I might try writing p0rn here. I've tried it in the past with A Deeper Season-verse Miles/Gregor and it doesn't usually work very well, but Ivan/By just might. We'll see. *contemplates*
(no subject) - busaikko on May 25th, 2006 10:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sahiya on May 25th, 2006 10:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - busaikko on May 25th, 2006 11:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - regan_v on January 2nd, 2007 02:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
leadensky on May 26th, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)
Heh. Ivan & By is the one (non-canon) slash pairing I'll buy in Bujold fic, and you've done a nice job with characterization here, both with Ivan and By.

- hossgal
sahiya on May 26th, 2006 11:46 am (UTC)
Thank you!