Title: The Lies of the Day
Word Count 734
Disclaimer Not mine
The Lies of the Day
The plashing sound was its own relief. Archie put the pot down.
The air of the little room was cool on his bare skin. Behind him he could hear Horatio snoring slightly. In a moment Archie would return to the bed, Horatio would snuffle in sleep, and drape Archie in all that ridiculous lanky heat. In a moment.
Archie sighed. Beyond the window, beyond the land, the water was still more black than purple. There was pale at the horizon. Out there, over the water he could see the false promise of morning. Useful day would be hours yet. Archie clasped his arms across his naked chest. He leaned against the window frame and sighed. There was nothing so strange about standing to watch. Away, on the water, he knew, other men stood, and watched the lie of coming day.
“Archie?” Horatio's voice was soft. Archie did not turn. He did not speak. But here was Horatio, with that startling heat, and a blanket to cape around them both, and Archie sagged back a little.
“Daylight is coming.” Archie said.
“Hmm,” Horatio said. He had his face involved in Archie's hair and shoulder, and did not bother with real speech.
“Strange to think that the Indy is out there, carrying on as always.” Archie said.
“Yeah. I know.” Archie could feel Horatio tense a little. But the kind mouth did not stop its nuzzling, the warm arms did not change their embrace.
“They were so glad to see you,” Archie said.
“To see you too, Archie.”
“More shocked to see me, I would say. They stared. The only one who didn't was that damn cat.”
“Was that why you were sleeping on deck?” Horatio asked, his voice very quiet.
“Maybe” Archie made a flapping gesture. This was hard to explain.
“I was down in berthing, and I slung my hammock, and it should have felt the same, you know. I was expecting to climb in and feel like the old me. Sometimes you go back to a place, and it is as if the time away just collapses to nothing, and it is all the same. You know?”
“Yes, I know.”
“Well, it was not like that, Horatio. I felt crushed, buried underground, I couldn't breathe. I needed---I needed the sky.”
“Telling Pellew and Bracey-- I had to tell them everything. Things I have not talked about with anyone. They questioned me, and I knew they would, and I – and they were kind. Somehow that made it worse.”
The part of Archie that watched from a distance, noted that Archie could not seem to talk properly. Deep breath. He did that and it was a little better.
“Anyway. I just needed to see the sky.”
“That makes sense to me.”
Archie leaned back against the heat. Horatio's arms slid around him, Horatio's hands rested on Archie's lower abdomen. Archie could feel the long warm fingers against the movement of his own breath. They cupped slightly the soft fuzzy skin of Archie's belly. The usual affection was there. Archie could feel that, but not lust, not just now. Horatio's hands were light, but certain, as if holding something something of weight and value.
“Cannon drill-- bothered me. The noise.” Archie's voice was small with shame.
“You have to give yourself time.”
“That's what Mr Bracegirldle said.”
“Well, he's right, Archie.”
And, after all, how could Archie explain that the kindly faces had hurt with their looking. The reasonable words had stung. He could not tell Horatio, without hurting him too. Horatio knew little of the Biche.
But those long strong hands were turning him now, pulling Archie into a blanket wrapped embrace. Horatio's mouth came soft to his, kissing him as if he were not fragile, not damaged, as if Archie had never failed at anything.
There was a wan light in the room now, and Archie could see Horatio's face, his eyes were fond and drowsy, the kisses like long awaited rain, from a kind sky.
“Come to bed, Archie. Come back to bed with me.”
And Archie found that he did want that. They turned away from the window, and the lies of the coming day.