Title: Telltale Compass
Word Count 430
A small bit, just after For the Prize
“We should have done this years ago.” Dillon smiled down from the height of his raised elbow. His face was flushed but his breathing was returning to normal.
“We did do this years ago.” Stephen pointed out.
“Not like this. This was--”
“Well yes. We have improved with age I find. Perhaps the years between 20 and 30 are formative-- I wonder if a study has been made, a paper--”
He stopped astonished, muted, in the face of James Dillon's laughter.
“Can you stay here, for a time?” Stephen asked. “Or must you be forever running up the stairs to view the wheel or the stars or something? I would not keep you from your Naval tasks.”
Skin and heat, another beside him, he had a new appreciation for those as well. There would be time it seemed. James Dillon was the picture of contented torpor.
“No. I can stay here, at least for a little while. Joe at the wheel is a good man, and I can see our heading well enough.” Dillon's free hand was warm and large on Stephen's chest, his eyes were very green in the warm light of the little cabin.
“How can you see where we are going then?” Stephen said.
“Look overhead.” Dillon gestured. “See that compass there?
“Oh yes,” Stephen said. “ I had noticed that. What a cunning and delightful think to be sure, so decorative. Brass and--” he flapped a hand, words apparently failing him.
“Aye.” Dillon's hand had moved south of the chest now, torpot or not. It was sure and good passing south of the abdomen. And it was was doing lovely things, beneath the warm blanket now, unrelated entirely to any discourse on Naval décor.
“Aye it is a pretty thing, but it is not there for looks. Ugly would do as well. This is called the 'Telltale compass.'
“See you, Stephen how it is mounted above the bed?”
“Aye, mounted, indeed so.” Stephen's eyes were bright and his breath was rapid now.
“It is made to be viewed from below, from the Captain's bed here. And to show him how the ship travels. Look, see, the point is upright. We are going North Stephen. North is always pointing up true North on a chart, and magnetic North on any compass. You understand--”
“I think I-- Oh. Don't stop Jem, please.”
And James Dillon, smiling, did not.