Title Bandage Change
Word Count 1471
Disclaimer I did not invent them
Horatio had his book settled in his lap, and he was squinting down at it, chewing on his lip, and turning the pages with his left hand, in a manner both harassed and awkward. The injured arm was resting in his lap, still bound with Archie's extra neckerchief. He seemed strongly disinclined to use it.
Archie had been reading in his own hammock all dog-watch, and was ready to stretch his legs. His head was swimming with sines and cosines, even if Horatio's wasn't.
“Meet me in the sail-locker,” He said. “I want to change that bandage.” He had been careful to say it quietly. There was no rule against meeting in the sail-locker, but there was also no respectable reason not to change the bandage in public view.
He went first, not looking or lingering, knowing Horatio would join him soon. Simply being in the little room made Archie's groin tingle. The smell of the canvas, the soft gold slide of the light as he lit the lamps, and the memory of Horatio's touch in this room made Archie's mouth dry with want. There would be time for that. He would make sure of it.
Horatio came into the room with a slight sidle, and a shy smile. “Ready Archie?”
“Yes. Sit here.”
“Oh...you are really going to check on my arm?” Horatio looked somewhat deflated.
“Lets get your shirt off. I may need to soak the bandage if it sticks.”
This was true, but it was also good to slide his fingers under Horatio's shirt buttons, and undo them slowly. His smooth skin was tinged gold by the yellow light, and it was warm as Archie slid the cloth away. He looked bright eyed, but healthy, no sign of fever at all. Archie drew him close, and slid a hand down Horatio's neck and back. Horatio leaned against him trustingly. Archie loved when Horatio held onto him this way. It made Archie feel as strong as the side of a mountain. He buried his face in Horatio's hair, sliding down to kneel before him, so they were face to face.
Sitting back on his heels, Archie took the arm into his lap. He unwrapped the black silk, and it came away easily enough. As he had expected the linen underneath stuck. He set a wet cloth, over it, and let the water begin to do its work.
Horatio had his lip tucked into his teeth. He looked apprehensive. Archie was reminded again of the clear expanse of Horatio's skin. Naked, he was a thing of perfection. He had somehow come to the cusp of manhood without the usual breaks and marks and scars. Now, in the course of a month he had injured himself twice.
Waiting for the scab to soften, there was no reason at all not to kiss that lip. Horatio had it braced just thus, against a pain he was trying to be ready for. But Archie was not going to cause pain. He was going to be very careful. He kept the kiss gentle. He was keeping his hunger in check, he could feel Horatio quivering as he did the same.
“Lets try that bandage again,” Archie said. He could feel how his own voice had dropped and thickened. He tugged gently aside what he could, and set the wet cloth back. After a moment he was able to gently pull the linen free.
The hole in Horatio's lower arm was as big as the end of a finger. Black burns marked its margins, and bruising, further out. It looked sore. Still, when Archie lowered his nose to the wound he could only smell damp healthy Horatio-skin. He gave the wound a consoling kiss.
“We should let it dry a little before we wrap it up again.” Horatio said.
“How does it feel?” Archie asked.
“Better.” Horatio was flexing his arm, and twisting it from side to side. He reached out with both hands then, for the first time all day. He pulled Archie close, against his skin, against his chest. One of Archie's hands was caught up under Horatio's chin. He put his own around it, drew it to his mouth. The nail of the second finger was a ragged blue black.
“You crushed your finger.” Horatio said quietly.
“It's nothing Horatio.”
“I can take a hot pin to it, drain the blood out.”
Archie looked at Horatio, puzzled. A crushed nail was a prosaic daily injury. It meant nothing. But Horatio had taken the finger into his mouth, and was slowly working his tongue over the cuticle, the pad of the finger, the nail. Archie had washed his hands, but he knew that they must still be bitter with the residue of gun drill. The soft pressure of Horatio's mouth did soothe the throb under the nail. But the look on Horatio's face was intensifying the throb to the South'ard.
He gently pulled his hand loose, and Horatio let it go.
Archie could feel his heart bounding, his breath quickening. He moved to undo his own shirt, and Horatio pushed his hands away gently.
“Let me.” Horatio's hands were loosening, unbuttoning, slowly revealing Archie. He saw Archie every day. But his eyes were soft and his hands were finding skin now, moving lightly, slowly as if Archie were unutterably precious.
“You, you, you.” Horatio murmured. He slid off the roll of canvas he had been sitting on, and knelt to mirror Archie. He slid his hand under Archie's hair, Archie shivered.
“Feels good Horatio.”
“Hmm.” Horatio trailed a finger around the curve of ear, and down Archie's neck. His arm, the injured arm, was tight around Archie's waist, warm against the skin.
“Careful of your arm.” Archie said faintly.
“It feels fine now. You healed it, I think.” Horatio said.
“So glad.” Archie said. And he didn't say anything for a little bit then, because Horatio was nipping his way down the strong column of Archie's neck. His free hand was trailing down the center of Archie's chest, finding the curve of abdomen, drawing heated shapes that made Archie's breath shake.
And Horatio was reaching down, to cup Archie, to rub him with delicious slowness, to draw the shrieking need to the surface. Archie pressed against him, head lolling, content for the moment to receive.
Horatio's hand was working the buttons now, loosening cloth, pulling it away from Archie's tight hot skin.
“God, I've missed touching you.” Horatio's voice was another rasp, a caress all on its own, rubbing some good place that Archie's own hands could never reach.
Archie was moving now, helpless to stop. It was rising too fast, and he had to--
“Horatio wait, stop.” He caught the hand, and drew it away.
“I want us together.” He loosened Horatio's trousers, pushed them down. It felt tawdry not to undress fully, it felt cheap to hurry this . But some small part of Archie was rational still. It was safer this way.
They were kneeling up now, face to face, clutching each other, trading clench and push and slide. Horatio's hair hand come loose, and Archie's hands were tangled in it. Horatio's breath was a touch all its own at Archie's neck and ear. They were rising together now, circling higher together, shuddering together.
Archie felt Horatio clench, and cry out between his teeth. He went languid, and Archie, suddenly frantic, was left behind.
“Please, H'ratio, I need, please. “ He was begging, in a voice suddenly unlike his own. And Horatio slid a hand down between them. Two strokes was all it took, and the sweetness burst over Archie.
They sagged apart, panting. The dampened linen served well enough to mop them up, and they were struggling into clothes again. Safer to that first. Once covered there was time to sit together, to simply breathe.
“Your poor arm.” Archie said. The scab had been knocked loose somehow, and the little wound was oozing.
“It doesn't hurt.” Horatio said “I feel...really good actually.
“Me too.” Archie grinned. “But we should get that bandage back on, at least.”
“In a minute,” said Horatio. “I want to just sit, for a bit.” He put his head on Archie's shoulder, and Archie leaned into the warmth of him, reveling in the contact, the dear substance of Horatio, close beside him. Archie squinted slightly and let the gold light blur over the white canvas. Horatio moved gently against him with each breath, and there was time to breathe slowly himself. Maybe, he thought, this was something like heaven.