Title: All Arise
Rating R for smut
Word Count 1565
July 2, 4 bells, Afternoon Watch
“All secure below Sir.”
Captain Pelllew smiled. His blue gazed ranged over both vessels, returned to Archie.
“Well done .Mr Kennedy. And will you please take the sloop into Portsmouth and see to the transfer of the prisoners to the local authority.”
Archie crossed aboard the sloop and looked around sharp. A turn around the deck showed him all he needed to see. The sloop was materially undamaged, She was long and narrow, a fast sailor, but unforgiving perhaps, of poor handling. Her sails had been struck to the deck, perhaps to save them damage once the sloop had been unable to run. They were being swayed up again already .His men were busily putting things back to rights. Archie ordered the food and watering for the French prisoners below. All had been seen by the Indy's doctor. They were in no physical distress. He would visit them before he slept. For now he brought her before the wind.
He did not look back until the Indy was a smudge on the horizon.
July 5, 4 pm
It felt very strange to be alone. Command of the sloop, command of anything was alone, by definition. But he could feel the men of his division nearby. And too, the Frenchmen locked below. There was a particular satisfaction in making sure they were given all that they required for relative comfort. They would have have clean water, and blankets, he would unlock their chains once the sloop was underway-- Ha!-- they need never see the wicked bitterness in his heart. Only Horatio knew. ( Although sitting alone at the chart table Archie suspected that the old men knew too. They could have given the care of the Frenchmen over to someone else.) Alone and well, alone and safe, how strange. He endured it, laid in his course, gave his orders, and forced himself grimly to sleep.
Portsmouth was sullen pewter under a white sky. The air was damp and heavy, the smoke and vapors of the city unable to lift themselves high enough to dissipate. He was 8 hours ahead of the Indy. He took a room at the Goat and Spar. Horatio would find him there. In the meantime he had roast beef and soft bread, and wine, and the Naval Gazette. When that was exhausted he supposed he could write letters.
Horatio came at sundown, smiling in the dim light of the doorway.
“You were right,” Horatio said. “It was broken.”
He lifted the hand and Archie could see the three fingers bound together, immobile in canvas.
“Thought so, ” Said Archie.
“How was the sloop?”
“The sloop was a rather fine sea bird, as it turns out. Gave me no trouble at all. Although I was sorry to have missed you yesterday.”
“Yesterday? Nothing happened yesterday.”
“Your birthday, Horatio. July 4th.”
“Oh right, I suppose I forgot.”
Archie put his pen down, and lifted his inked page. He blew gently across it, meeting Horatio's gaze. Archie's thoughts now, were drawn back from Ayrshire, to the heat of the blood, to the man before him, Horatio leaning weary against the closed door; Horatio who had forgotten his own birthday, and who had passed the last night alone. Archie smiled.
He crossed the room and pressed his mouth to the wan skin of Horatio's cheek. Such a kiss might be given to any friend on the public street. It was no less for that. There would be more kisses of other sorts in the next hours. He had a small gift tucked into his sea-chest. He would give it to Horatio hen they were back aboard. But not tonight. First, this. He reached down to to lift the splinted hand. He watched Horatio's lips press tight together, Horatio allowing it, but nevertheless expecting pain. Archie was careful. There would be no pain. He brought it to his mouth and brought his mouth, open and soft, to the wrapping. He could just see the tips of Horatio's fingers, the nails still dark edged with powder, with grease and blood. Horatio's breath caught, and then released with a sigh.
“I'm useless, with my left,” Horatio said.
“Can't write. Can't work dividers. Can scarcely do up my buttons.” He wrinkled his long nose in amusement. “I'm half afraid to to take a piss. I feel ridiculous.”
“I have a solution for that,” Archie said.
He pressed another kiss to the angle of jaw, to the steady pulse there. He could feel Horatio's breath now, warm and ragged, and close. Close was very good. “For tonight, you don't read, you don't write, and you let me handle all the buttons, or any other such troubles, as they... arise.” He ghosted his palm over the troublesome buttons. Horatio pushed forward into the touch.
“Arise.” Horatio whispered. His eyes closed.
Because it was arise for Archie too. It was going to be splendid. He worked methodically, undoing buttons with slow care, covering the splinted fingers with his own and easing shirt cuffs over both, until Horatio was bare, and resting back in the curved strength of Archie's arm. It was the work of a moment to strip himself, too
“Let's lie down.”
He steadied Horatio down, to the bed, and settled to lie beside him. Horatio on his back, Archie curled close. There was time today to look his fill. Horatio was beautiful. He did not know it though. He laughed when Archie said it, seeing only fault in his own features. But like this, oh. His face and hands were brown from the sun, the rest of him was pale ivory and lush dark curls. He was wide eyed, flushed. Archie drew his hand slowly down, over his side, to the the sweet dip of Horatio's hip and the curve of his thigh. Horatio wiggled, already restless.
Archie said. “Let me take your hand and keep it safe.”
Horatio nodded. He made a small indistinct sound of assent.
Archie did this, holding the wrist gently to the mattress above Horatio's head. Horatio's inner arm presented thus, he brought his lips to graze. The skin here was soft and pale and warm under his mouth. When Horatio did this to him it felt so good, so very good. Delicious to receive this, but just now he would give. Horatio moved against him, Horatio's cock moving in small thrusts now, seeking any touch. Horatio's left hand clenched at the blanket, brown against the wool. Archie could feel the short harsh gasps and the rise of breath against his own skin.
Archie, stretched close, drew his hand down the center, from Horatio's open seeking mouth, down down to the soft drum of his abdomen, just above Horatio's navel, and the swollen red crown. It butted at his hand, and Horatio groaned. Archie trailed light fingers over it. A tickle only, a promise. The upraised wrist in Archie's grasp was flexing, sinews and bones shifting. Horatio was squirming now, and making the small sounds which were fragments of asking words.
“What would you have me do?” Archie asked. He pushed back the hair from Horatio's face. “Tell me.”
“Stay with me.”
Archie nodded. 'Stay with me' was foolish to say, perhaps, when they were atoms away from each other, close as dearest love would allow. But he knew what Horatio meant. He meant this, the touch of gaze, eyes looking, faces close, mouths open and swollen with kisses, kisses blurring the words that came with gasps and shivers. This this.
This then as Archie reached down to encircle him and Horatio bucked into the first real stroke, Archie drew at him, slow and slow again, watching Horatio's face crumple.
Horatio's thigh was between his own, and he pushed there tight to still his own heavy aching. He had no hand free for himself.
But he would not have to wait long, Horatio's eyes were dazed now, and he was shuddering.
“Oh, Archie—please,” he said. And the hot spill came over Archie's hand.
And the next deep breath against Archie's side was slow and deep.
“Oh.” That sounded very good. And Archie was the one dazed with need, not quite understanding as Horatio pulled him up to sit. Horatio moved to kneel before the bed.
He meant to protest that Horatio should never kneel so, but Horatio was pushing gently but implacably to sprawl Archie's thighs open, The splinted hand came to rest against Archie's hip. Horatio's left hand, closed around Archie, to encircle the tight heat, to define the edges of the shrieking need. And Archie was the one clutching at the blankets now, thrusting helplessly forward.
He meant to warn Horatio before the end came, but he was not sure afterward that he actually had. He only knew that he fell back, limp and gasping. The ceiling reeled white and sparkling overhead.
Horatio climbed up beside him, and folded himself against Archie's side. The splinted hand rested against Archie's heart. After a little while, Archie put his own over it to keep it there.