Title: The Faun and the Flying Fish
Rating R (really, trust me...)
Word Count 2066
Disclaimer They are not mine
The Faun and the Flying Fish
It was hard to settle to anything in the little room. Archie did try. He tried to read the little book Miss Cobham had given them. She had picked it with Horatio in mind, of course. Cervantes' idealistic Don was a fit almost cruel in its perfection. Archie had read the book, years ago, in English. He was moved to hold a book again after so long. It felt so good on his hand, and the smell of the leather cover against his face made him want to weep. But he could not calm his mind just now, to read the Spanish.
Archie stood before the little window for some time. It overlooked the courtyard, where the Don had had him stripped and beaten. The same Don was loaning him books now. It had been cold spring when Archie suffered there. Now the yard shone in summer light, and the men of the division played at dice. There a young lieutenant might walk with a beautiful woman. But Archie could not see Horatio from the window. The courtyard was empty.
He could leave this little room, of course, in daytime. Nobody had said he couldn't. He could manage the stairs now. He was getting much stronger. But he wanted to be here when Horatio returned. Horatio's poor face had been white with horror, when Archie had told him that his 'Duchess' was the actress Katherine Cobham. Archie was fairly sure Horatio had heard nothing after that. He had rushed from the room like a man on fire.
With a sigh, Archie turned to the table and chair. He had not finished his letter to his parents. That would give him something to do, at least. Better than worrying Archie took up the pen, and drew the paper close. His brow furrowed. This one was not easy. The letter to Pellew had been simple in comparison. He knew he could not tell his mother about the conditions he had been kept in. He could not tell her of the beatings, the chains, the nights of cold starvation. No more had she known the truth of Justinian, of Simpson. She was never to know. Archie loved her.
But it did make the letter hard to compose. He could only say that he was safe now, and well, and had been moved frequently before, and had been hitherto unable, to write.
But she rose up, in his mind so clearly, her hands, the smell of her, the sound of her voice. Only last week, Horatio had cried out, “I want to go home.” And Archie had held him. Now a longing rose up in Archie, for all the dear details, of his childhood left behind. He saw in his mind the hearth, the walls and books, of his old home. So strange, he had not felt this way since he was a boy of 14. Now he was 20, a man grown. So strange, this weakness.
But he began to write, and it came more easily. Archie went to the place where words came from, and there he found peace.
He was almost finished with the letter when he heard Horatio's step on the stairs. Archie sanded the page and waited.
Horatio looked all right, if a little pale. He smiled, to see Archie, and crossed the room to take his hands.
“Well, you were right of course, Archie.” He said. “You were right, about Miss Cobham. God that sounds strange. I was so angry Archie. I had trusted her, And she was lying to me the whole time.” Horatio blew out a long breath, and his shoulders dropped. Archie could see the tightness leaving him. “Anyway, she has gone now, gone to Portugal. Enough about her. What have you been doing today?”
“Almost finished the letter to my parents. You were right, I needed to--- needed to write home. Someday maybe I'll go back. When I do, will you come with me?”
“Of course I will, Archie.” Horatio drew him up, drew him close and warm. Archie sighed against him, with Horatio in it, the little room felt like a refuge.
“Oh, one more thing.” Horatio looked amused, and a little shamefaced.
“The Du—I mean Miss Cobham, has prevailed on the Don for us . she told him our room here smelled like dirty socks! I don't think it smells bad in here, do you Archie?”
“No. Well, maybe a little.”
“Ha'hm. Well, she has ordered us up a bath. Any minute now they should be bringing up a bathtub. She was quite appalled, now that I think of it, that we had no facilities for tub bathing on shipboard. She quite rated Captain Pellew for the Navy not providing bathtubs in berthing. When I sailed with her I gave her my cabin, but I think she expected better.”
Horatio shook his head. “Fooled by an actress, caught by the Spanish, failed my lieutenants test. Not much good without you .”
“Don't try to do without me then,” Archie said. He felt his voice dropping soft, and his heart beating faster. Horatio smelled of clean sweat, and the outdoors. His shirt was damp from the heat, although the room they were in was chill as usual. “Don't ever do without me. I'm right here.” Archie said again, and it made no more sense than the first time, but it felt good to say. Horatio was chewing Archie's fingertips, licking at the nails, and pads, as if they tasted wonderful.
“You have ink on your fingers.” He said.
“Been writing a letter...” Archie said breathlessly. He was not thinking of his mother at all now.
The boots on the stairs made them drop hands, and step apart. Archie retreated to the bed, and sat on it, eyes down, mouth tight. He did not watch as the bath was settled heavily to the floor, and seemingly endless buckets of water poured in. He was shamed by his pounding heart, his mouth gone dry. He could smell the soap, and the guardsmen, but he did not look up. The crowding of the room frightened him.
When the door had shut behind them, he lifted his chin. Horatio was smiling, a crooked and gentle smile just for him. If Horatio had noticed the fear and shame, he did not say so.
“You go first Archie,” Horatio said. “The water is nice and hot.”
Archie smiled, he had liked hot baths, once long ago. He remembered the sting of hot water on his little boy knees, raw from childhood play. He remembered his mother washing his hair, and bundling him up after, to sit by the nursery fire. Archie's last tub bath had been six years ago.
The water was indeed hot. His legs crawled with goosebumps, as he eased below the waterline. Archie's balls registered a moment of shock and outrage, but he persisted. In a moment, he was leaning against the copper, eyes half closed in bliss.
“Oh, Horatio. The water feels so good.”
Archie could feel his hair, trailing all down his back, in the water. The bathtub was a big one. It had room for him to sit, knees bent, but not uncomfortably so.
There was a fresh cake of soap, yellow and smelling of animal fat. He felt as if he was removing a whole layer of skin, exposing an entirely new Archie. The one underneath would be so much better than the old one, would not be tired, or sad, or frightened. This must be how snakes feel, Archie thought, peeling off an old skin, and sliding away sleek and shining.
He propped a foot up out of the water and began to soap it with close concentration. It was some time before his eyes sought Horatio.
“What are you doing?” Archie heard the outrage color the curiosity in his voice. Outrage seemed called for, actually.
Horatio was sitting on the bed, and he had Archie's discarded shirt draped over his own naked chest and face. Horatio was sort of-- sort of snuffling the shirt, and rubbing it against himself, and his face had a look that Archie knew very well.
“Its your shirt.” Horatio said stupidly.
“Aye, its my shirt. What are you doing with it?”
Horatio's face peeked out from the shirt, red and hot. His hair was askew, and his mouth was trembling.
“You were gone two years, Archie. I felt – I mean I couldn't help but – Your sea-chest was there, and it was all I had of you, and I took your shirt and....hammock.”
The voice, that Horatio could make huge, trailed away to inaudible mumbling.
Archie leaned forward, eyes sparkling.
“While I was gone you...defiled my shirts?”
“Just the one shirt.”
“No!” Horatio looked horrified.
“Oh, yes.” Archie moved closer to the end of the tub. He was hard now, below the hot waterline. The thought of Horatio, loosing control, rubbing and whimpering into his shirt... Archie wanted to see.
“I want to see it, Horatio. Show me. I can see that you want to--” Indeed, that was clearly evident.
“Go on, Horatio, now.”
Horatio needed no more urging. He looked like a man in a trance. No, thought Archie, with his dark hair falling everywhere, and his mouth bitten red, he looked like a faun. in a forest glade. Horatio had his eyes shut now, he was rubbing the shirt against his naked chest, lipping it, rubbing his cheek on it, like a cat in a catnip patch.
“Archie.” He whispered. But he was not talking to the Archie in the bathtub. Archie shivered. It was like watching a man make love to a ghost.
Horatio was rubbing himself through his trousers now, the palm of his hand making slow hard circles, his head had dropped back. He had the shirt in his teeth. Archie could see the flat of Horatio's abdomen, heaving with his ragged breath. Archie bathed quietly, watching.
Horatio had his cock in his hand. He had shoved the trousers down to his knees. He was rubbing slowly, his lip was in his teeth, and his brow crumpled. Archie had never watched anyone do this, uncovered, so, in the light of day. It was a thing after all, that one did, or heard others do, furtively. He had not known it looked so much like pain. Archie could see the red head winking in Horatio's working hand, jeweled with sparkles of seed. Faster now, he was starting to rock, and the hand holding the shirt was flexing too.
“ Please, please, Archie.” He was nearing the end now, any longer would be too late.
“Stop, Horatio.” Archie surged from the bathtub, slopping a great bow wave to the floor. He entered Horatio's arms, and bore him back onto the bed. Archie could feel the heat of his own skin, and the soapy wetness of the bath, sliding between them deliciously. Not snake now, but perhaps faun and a merman. Or a faun and a flying fish.
Horatio arched against him in a shuddering frenzied kiss, Archie had time to get his hand down for a long caress, and then Horatio came apart, in babbling shudders.
They rolled apart, panting. The bed was ruined.
“So, you watched me?”Horatio asked. He had regained some poise, at least enough to smile to himself.
“Oh, yes.” Archie said. Horatio was starting a slow caress of Archie, his hand gentle on the warm damp skin. Now Archie was the breathless one, aching and wiggling to be touched.
Horatio was over him, with mouth and hands. He was talking in a breathless voice, half muffled endearments, questions and answers which Archie could understand only by tone, as his own body shivered and lifted.
“And you were, you you you...” Horatio said, with his mouth sliding down the slope of Archie's hip.
“So much, Archie.”
They rolled on the bed, faun and flying fish, and the bath steamed, forgotten. The day made perfect sense.