Title: I Only Am Escaped
Word Count 467
I Only Am Escaped
Stupid to feel shy about it.
Foolish to feel awkward. But after all what could one say?
How do you do ? I fished you out of the sea? You look different when your head's not underwater? Sorry about your ship. I'm Archibald Kennedy, I know ever so many helpful things about guilt and failure...
None of that seemed kind or appropriate. Neither did avoiding the fellow. At the moment he was confined to the doctor's space. Once he was up and about it would be worse.
No time like now-- best get it over with. Horatio's arm was around him, heavy with sleep. Sleeping on the deck he sprawled like a child. Archie could see his eyes flicked restlessly under the soft lids. Horatio was dreaming. Archie backed himself away, leaving the nest of blankets. He leaned forward to kiss those busy eyes, and the long serious nose. Horatio made a small sound, not quite a word, and sighed as Archie drew the blankets up and tucked them close.
The passageway was dim and close as he made his way forward. In his time on the Indy Archie had, at various times been: burned, punctured, bruised, feverish, drunk, and given to fits. He had avoided the pox, because he only wanted Horatio. And Horatio, thank God, only wanted Archie. That continence, if known, was a death sentence. The men who took mercury every time they made port and spread infection far and wide were safe under the law. That was not not the fault of the doctor, of course. He seemed a blameless sort. But Archie had known other sorts of doctors. He mended himself, or had Horatio do it. Horatio probably knew as much a doctor anyhow.
Here was the little curtained doorway. He could hear the sound of hushed voices, then a thick cough.
The doctor was a small dark man. He and his chair were splashed with the yellow light. He was working at a battered writing slope. In the hammock at his elbow Archie could see lieutenant Bush. He had a nightshirt now. He seemed a rather ordinary brown haired man. His breath rasped. Archie could see the shadow of whiskers now, against his pale skin. His hands were bandaged and his eyes were shut.
“Ah, Mr Kennedy.”
“Good day, Sir,” Archie gestured. “How does he do?”
“He has a concussion, and bronchitis. Sleep is the best thing now. He will live. That is a good start, always. He has you to thank, when he is well again. But how are you yourself, Mr Kennedy? Any--”
“I am well Sir.”
Three steps back, and he was back in the passageway.
He could tell Horatio he had tried.