Word Count 300 (triple drabble – is that a thing?)
Disclaimer As always
“Archie?” Cleveland's face was clear in the moonlight.
“Keep those giant feet to yourself, oaf!”
“What are you doing down there?”
“What are you doing up there?”
Archie leaned up, lifting an eyebrow, as if sleeping curled on the deck fully dressed was a delightfully normal thing to do.
“I'm on watch Mr Kennedy. You are just...strange.”
Cleveland lowered himself carefully.
“I'm glad you are not dead, Kennedy,” he offered.
“Well, me too.”
Archie rolled to sit. With his chin on his knees he was a compact bundle of muscle. Cleveland did not fold as well. He never had. Archie reflected that Cleveland was just the same. He was the closest thing Archie had to an old friend.
“So why the deck, Archie?”
“It was too loud and busy in berthing. You know...”
That was selective truth, at best. Archie reflected. The fact was that cannon drill today had nearly unmanned him. The sound had torn at him, left him shaking. Archie didn't understand it. Loud noises had never bothered him before. He had liked cannon drill, years ago. He had been good at it. But now, apparently it left him dry mouthed and soaked with fear-sweat. Horatio had known of course, but Archie doubted anyone else had noticed.
“We kept your dunnage you know.” Cleveland said. His voice was light, and his gaze rested on the horizon. “Yours and Hornblower's too. All your books, and letters, and you know – nasty underdrawers and whatnot.”
“Well, thanks Cleveland.”
“It was no problem. I better get up, before Bracey sends me to the masthead. Enjoy your deckboards you strange man”
Cleveland clapped him on the shoulder, and shambled away.