Title: What Might Have Been
Word Count 495
This is an AU
What Might Have Been
“Wh--” Horatio swallowed frantically. “Where are we?” He could feel and smell Archie against him. He was going to take the answer on trust. His eyes were tightly closed.
Archie's voice was soft and amused. It was pitched low, but sounded just as always, which was, Horatio decided, obscenely unfair.
“Portsmouth-- specifically Mr Cleveland's parents house. Guest bed. Don't you remember?”
"I remember when the last place ran out of rum. After that things became less-- actual.”
Horatio's eyes were closed so tightly that a horizontal wrinkle had formed at the top of his nose. Archie reached out to smooth it away. He let his finger trail down the slope of Horatio's nose to the declivity of the lip. It was as close to a kiss as was wise at the moment.
“Does your head hurt you Honeybee?” He smoothed the rumpled hair back. Horatio's skin was clammy.
“You don't have to sound so smug about it. I don't know why it never happens to you.” Horatio was plaintive.
“No idea.” Archie said. “Never happened to my father either. So you don't remember switching to the awful Greek stuff?”
“Well-- you had loudly declared your intentions to, as you put it, 'drink Portsmouth dry.' And when the rum ran out you were rather irritable. I was sticking to whiskey. But you said that it tasted 'like the inside of a tree.' Really Horatio. So they gave you some white stuff . Some Cypriote had paid his bar bill with it, years ago, and nobody in their right mind would touch the stuff. Ouzo. You polished off the bottle Horatio. You kept talking about Hercules. You were inclined to sing.”
“Don't worry. Cleveland extricated us at the last moment. He brought us up the back stairs and planted us here for the night. He said his parents wouldn't mind. I suppose he knows best. ”
“You do remember why we were celebrating?” Archie was laughing. He knew the answer well enough.
“Yes. I remember that. Because we could have been sent to another ship-- but we are to stay with the Indy. With Captain Pellew.”
“Not sorry about that after all?”
Horatio had opened his eyes, they were red rimmed and bleary but they were pointing the same direction at least.
“What about you?” Horatio asked. “Are you sorry not to be sent to Renown?”
“No. I like the Indy well enough. The old men are predictable at least.”
Horatio levered himself from the bed, shivering slightly. He was walking with a ginger caution, trying not to move his head. Archie snuggled down in the warm bedding. He liked to watch Horatio start the day. In truth he did have a little bit of an ache just between his eyes, but he was not going to mention that, not at all.