Title The Deafness of Angels
Word Count 1609
Disclaimer I did not invent them
The Deafness of Angels
They crouched together on the deck of the little room, nearly immobile, for so long. Horatio had the strangest thought, maybe if they held very still, didn't move, scarcely breathed, nothing worse would happen.
Back in his body, Archie was drained, worn out with the effort, the concession of being, like a creature newborn. Horatio's careful rubbing of his clothed back, was enough. For his part, Horatio wanted only to surround Archie with comfort and safety. In his usual state, Archie was strong, and bright, flashing an armor that only Horatio was permitted to penetrate. He hated to be like this, with his soft parts publicly exposed. He didn't want to to talk, at such times.
Holding Archie felt so good, for Horatio. Always so good, Archie in his arms. But this was not the time for indulgence of desire. Archie had incited him, at such times, before and he had given in, but he had the feeling that for Archie, that too, was a kind of flight.
Still, he kissed Archie's hair and his brow, as they sat. And Archie sighed under his mouth. There was no need at all to speak.
Finally Archie gave a small chuckle, and pulled free.
“I must be back in my skin, Horatio. My arse has gone to sleep.” He said.
“Stand up then. I'll rub it for you.”
“Some other time, maybe.”
Archie stood up and stretched, stomping the feeling back into his feet, and wrinkling his nose at the tingle. He squared his shoulders, and essayed a smile.
“Let's go back.” He said.
Back at the mess table, Cadogan was eating. He gave a distracted wave, and smiled around a mouth full of mutton.
“Oh, you're back.” he said, after a snake-like swallow. “ Too bad. I was about to eat both your portions too.”
Archie pulled his own plate close. He smiled, and gave a response of such length and obscenity that even Cadogan looked shocked. Horatio smiled. He felt he could almost see the cheeky shine of Archie's armor. He sat down to eat, himself.
The three of them were deep in the silent pleasure of food, when a shadow fell across the table. A heavy step, made them all look up.
“Oh good. Hot food. I'm clemmed.” Cleveland was shucking off his coat, and settling heavily to the bench. Horatio could feel the cold pouring off of him. Cadogan shook his head dismally, and slid the mutton Cleveland's way.
“I have some news.” Cleveland said.
“We are pulling into Portsmouth tomorrow. Two days. We should have off. Mr Bracegirdle said.” Cleveland reached for his coffee. He took a deep breath.
“'Nother thing. Simpson is ill. He is going to be up with Searle for some time. They said he had....ronchitis.”
“Bronchitis?” Horatio said.
Cleveland nodded. “Yeah, that.”
“ Minorca, and now this. You seem determined to move me up in the world, Mr Kennedy.”
The pink and white and ormolu was a little overwhelming, Archie admitted to himself. The common room was lit with extravagant tapers and lamps. Horatio looked scandalized.
“I wanted to go somewhere new.” Said Archie.
He could hardly say, that the usual sailors inns of Portsmouth were all known to him, overlaid with years of memories. Some were good. Most were very very bad. But he was not going to talk about laughing with Clayton, or about past lovers. And he was not going to even think about Simpson.
“This must cost a fortune...”
“The money just builds up, Horatio, if you don't spend it.” Archie spoke, only half in jest.
“Not a problem I have ever had.” Horatio grimaced.
“Lets go to our room.” Archie grinned, “Unless you want to drink first?”
“No.” The growl in Horatio's voice was making Archie throb.
The room was as Archie had expected, all gold and drapes, tasteless and overdone, and somehow comforting, in its silly self importance. But it had a door that shut. The door was good and sturdy, and Horatio had him pushed against it, and the full length of them rubbed deliciously together.
“Oh Archie...money's not all that builds up if you don't --”
And Archie had his teeth on Horatio's neck now, and his voice stopped abruptly.
“I want you now.”
“Yes, oh yes.”
“There's a bed.”
They moved toward it, clumsily, four legged. Horatio stopped moving, half-way into the room.
“Archie – look.”
“Bed. Horatio.” Archie was caressing down between them. God, Horatio was so hard against his hand.
“I want to be naked with you.” He amplified. “On the bed.”
“There's not just a bed – Archie. There's a --”
“Oh my...” The wall across from the bed did indeed have a mirror, a huge one. It reached from knee height, to over Horatio's head. The top of it was crested with naked simpering cherubs. Archie could see them reflected in it, Horatio, facing it, pale and astonished, smiling hesitantly. Archie behind him now, twined around him, in a blue wool embrace.
“I've never seen such a big one.” Horatio marveled.
“Neither have I.” Archie said hoarsely. He reached around, and squeezed. Watching in the mirror, he could see as well as feel. Horatio's eyes shut, and his mouth dropped open. He pushed against Archie, but his curiosity brought his eyes open again.
“The mirror is across from the bed!” Horatio sounded horrified. But Archie could see his mouth turning up slightly at the corner. He was intrigued too. “Well be able to watch ourselves in the mirror while we—we, in the bed.”
Archie had to laugh.
“Yes, I think that is the idea.”
“People do that?”
“I guess they must.”
“Can we...do that?”
And Horatio looked so eager, and hopeful, and delicious that Archie had to laugh.
“Lets find out.”
Then, then it was wonderful. The room was heated well enough to be naked. Horatio's skin was warm and silky. His mouth was soft, soft, on Archie's. The last little icy lump of alone was melting under that touch, that mouth. They were together, together, and the boys in the mirror were pressed together, and it felt so good.
Horatio was kissing the angle of his neck, Archie could see his own white hands, in Horatio's hair. He slid a hand down the fragile bumps of spine, just to see it go. He trailed his nails, all the way back up, gently, just to hear Horatio sigh.
Horatio pressed him back against the pillows, and slid down beside him, smiling that steep sided vulpine smile. He took Archie's arm, and extended it, pinned it to the bed. He placed the first kiss, at the crease of Archie's wrist.
“Hmmm?” He said.
Archie nodded, open mouthed. He was shaking with anticipation. That soft soft mouth traveled so slowly, up the inside of his arm, where the skin was so lonely, where no one ever touched. Horatio's sharp teeth were nipping now, and sucking and nuzzling between bites. Archie groaned. And the mirror didn't matter, at all, because now his eyes were shut.
Horatio reached Archie's shoulder and chest. He rested there, breathless, his hand across Archie, and rubbing down the far side of him, and Archie was usually ticklish there, over his ribs, and there were scars there too, that usually flinched from touch. But tonight, it was only warm and perfect to be caressed He let his back tilt to bring it closer. He moved his hips sharply, to show the hand where to go, and Horatio made an soft assenting sound, and the hand came across, and it gripped and slid, and Horatio's thumb played across the tip of him. And Horatio was moving against his hip, Horatio's face was hidden against Archie's armpit. He was saying something, Archie could feel the buzz of it, against his chest-wall. And Horatio looked up, and his eyes were huge and sparkling, and his sweet lip was caught in his teeth. And he said “Oh, Archie.”
A sweet slow moment, and they were both readied. Archie brought Horatio over, and astride his hips. His mouth was open now, and that that crumple in his brow. He caught himself on Archie's chest, and he was easing down, and Archie saw, in the mirror, his own face yearn and crumple.
It was quick. Always too fast, that first time. Fumbling each other in the dark could not seem to ease the need to join their bodies properly. Horatio was over him, open mouthed, shuddering. He was taking his pleasure of Archie, and the sight and the slide, and the heat was too much.
“Oh, now, now.” Horatio tightened over him, and they collapsed together like two satiated jellyfish.
“So good.” Horatio said, his hand was slow against Archie's chest. “Love you so much.”
“Hmm, me too.”
“Archie, why are the angels deaf?”
“The angels, on the top of the mirror. They have those horns that deaf old men put into their ears.”
“Horatio, I think those are supposed to be heavenly trumpets.”
“Oh. Well, that's better. I don't imagine deaf angels are much use.”
And Horatio's scholarly expression was so ridiculous, above his naked body, that Archie had to laugh.