Raisa

"Ready?"

I nod, shifting my fingers over my husband's and the object in his grasp, and together we hold it over the sink, lying in wait.

Shivering a little from excitement, my husband exhales a few times before counting us off. "One... Two... Three!"

With a uniform twist of our wrists, we turn the bottle upside-down and watch in delight as the last of its contents swirl down the drain.

"That's it." My husband gives a little laugh of elation. "I'm done! Done for good...!" In his excitement, he turns to give me an unannounced kiss before we both break off laughing giddily.

"It must feel so wonderful," I put in, snuggling into his side a little and inadvertently making him stumble a bit. "I... I don't know what it was like, but it can't have been good."

He thinks on my words for a moment, and his countenance falls a little.

"Oh!" I wrap my arms around him tight. "I'm sorry! You don't have t-to think about it if it hurts!"

He returns my embrace with one arm and looks me in the eye with a sad smile. "No, it's okay... I mean, the worse it was, th-the better it is that I'm done with it, right?"

I nod feverishly. With an almost-inaudible sigh, my husband leans back a little against the marble counter behind us.

"And it was p-pretty bad," he continues, tilting his head back with his eyes closed.

"I believe you," I respond quickly. "But really, w-we don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. We can j-just... um..." Before I can name an activity, my husband turns his head back to look at me.

"Well, I-I don't want to keep secrets from you or anything," he mumbles. Managing another twitchy smile, he continues, "It's not much to share, anyway... I can't remember most of it, after all." He exhales. "Just a lot of... blurry headaches. I can sort of remember waking up in Victor's Village for the first time, but I have no idea when. I don't think I was conscious when they finally got the new house patched up from..." he trails off, scrunching up his eyebrows a little to recall a memory. "...A hailstorm, or something. I didn't know then; my brother told me later," he clarifies. "Just like p-pretty much everything else. Like when he finally got to ditch his new job..." He laughs, a bit jittery. "They wouldn't let him off at first because they couldn't believe he was my brother."

That's credible; they don't look much alike, and they don't act all that similar, either. Although you'd think his boss would have paid a little more attention to ceremonies and things... Wait, did they ever show Esto on those? I can't really say... I was too busy going crazy that Raivis had gotten out... That, and the video they showed was... w-was...

Thankfully, my husband continues speaking.

"He still couldn't stop me when he got home, though," he mumbles. "Apparently, I'm... n-not a very good guy to deal with when I'm hung over..." He shivers a little, and I wonder if he's leaving anything out. "And then, he couldn't keep me from g-getting it on my own, either. Didn't lock up the doors strong enough, I broke in; locked them up too much, D-Dad couldn't get his share..." He shakes his head. "None of us wanted to deal with my dad... N-no one ever did. The kind of things he did..." He swallows. "I probably i-inherited some of my drinking habits from him... Th-that's not something anyone should try to be..."

Lower lip trembling, I try to nuzzle his neck comfortingly. "Y-you poor thing!"

He mumbles something about it being okay.

"S-so... that's why you decided t-to quit?" I find myself asking.

He pauses, staring up at the ceiling for a minute. "Sort of. I-it was... more of a one time d-deal, though." He doesn't say anything more for a moment, but before I can speak, he decides to go ahead and tell me.

It was just another day that started with a hangover. As always, he planned on drinking it away. Grabbed the first bottle he found and stumbled off a bit before realising the thing was almost completely empty. He tried to drink what little remained, but it didn't ease his headache in the least. Furious, he trudged back to the place with the bottles.

But this time his father was standing in front of it. Raivis didn't, and still doesn't, know whether his father decided to make the process stop for his son's health, or whether he simply had enough of someone else drinking all of his alcohol. Raivis ordered him to move. He wouldn't. Raivis tried this several times, getting more and more enraged and his voice getting more and more piercing every time he repeated it. His father still refused to move.

This last piece of resistance launched Raivis over the edge.

Unable to see any other way to get what he was dying for, he screamed and attacked, smashing the bottle onto his father's neck. Either the hangover had somehow made Raivis quick, or something else had made his father slow, because the older hardly budged as the thin glass shattered over his neck and shoulder. After the impact, his father finally seemed to register the assault, and, scrabbling at the chunks of glass embedded in his skin, fell back. At least sober enough to know his son had caused this, he then looked up at Raivis with the fiercest murderous glare anyone in this world could manage.

Raivis wasn't quite out-of-it enough to not be terrorised. Fear of his father was so ingrained into him he couldn't help but come to his terrified little senses.

His father started to get back up.

In pained panic, Raivis dropped the piece of bottle remaining in his hand and stumbled away as fast as he could. Although not a full thought could pass through his pounding head, he had enough instinct to get to the closest closet and shut the door fast. Suddenly aware of, and infinitely grateful his equally-tyrannised brother must have put in, a lock from the inside, he twisted it and collapsed to the ground.

He doesn't remember trembling that hard in his life. His father gave up pursuit soon enough, but that wasn't the only terror of the situation. Although he didn't think he was in condition to remember anything, the image of the glass and blood over his father's skin was ingrained in his head.

"It wasn't that much, really," continues my husband, "but... You know, Amer—" he can't help but look down and smile sadly at the name—"used less glass to kill Sadik. I got to thinking, i-if I were just a-a little further off, I-I... I may have k-killed my own father..." He looks back up at me, a few tears brimming in his eyes but a smile beneath. "I-I was just going to completely stop, then and there... But my headaches... They turned out worse than normal hangovers, a-and I wouldn't let myself drink any of the pain away anymore..."

He continues, telling me it got so bad he couldn't make himself move.

And then his brother walked into his room with a half-full shotglass.

Raivis adamantly refused, terrified even a drop would swing him back into his horrible alcohol abuse. But his brother insisted he couldn't go on that bad a binge and get away with going cold turkey. Finally, unable to stand the headache any longer, Raivis's will broke down, and he accepted Esto's proposition.

"And it worked!" I put in with a warm smile. My husband beams back at me, and I can't help but plant another little kiss.

"It worked," he echoes with a little laugh. "It took a while, but that's all right... I mean, I wouldn't have been doing much productive, anyway." He suddenly blushes and gives a start. "I-I mean—! I-I-I mean, u-unless I-I could have met you earlier! Well, we already met a-at school, b-but... u-uh..." He breaks off, bewildered in trying to find something right to say.

In a mad fit of giggles, I interrupt him. "I-I get it, you romancer, you...!" I try to add more, but I'm laughing too hard. Relaxing a little, my husband joins me.

He's had a rough time, but he's conquered his addiction. He still has to worry about the incoming tributes, but he can handle it as long as his brother and I are here for him. And he'll have to put up with me for quite a while yet, but judging by the ring on my finger, I don't think he minds.

I don't know what all the future holds for us. But I know, for Raivis and me both, the worst is over.