Word Count 526
Disclaimer Not mine
Home is the Sailor
“I wanted to feel it.”
Archie's voice was low. He could feel the constriction in his throat, childish tears, gathered there, never to fall. He leaned a shoulder back against the door of Horatio's room. His head dropped, avoiding Horatio's gaze.
“We came all this way, came all the way back--- and I missed it.”
Horatio drew Archie to the nearer bed. (The same beds, they were, the same house, the welcome, of all his lonely fantasies.)
Horatio's hands were on him, drawing him close, caressing, but watchful.
“You have not gone away like that in a long time.”
Horatio was not accusing. He was gallingly gentle, starting with the obvious, a platform for Archie to speak from. Very well.
“It was, was just too much.” Archie's breath rasped. “The coach stopped, and they came running, and I could feel myself going--” He made a fumbling gesture above his head.
“They wept over us Horatio. Over me.”
Archie could feel on his face, where Mary had kissed him, where the doctor had pressed his wet face.
“I had imagined it so often.” He could hear the defeat in his own voice. “This house, you, all the things we did.” (Horatio gave a flickering smile.) “It kept me alive. In, F-France. Do you understand?” (Thank God, he would never understand.)
“I wanted to come back. The days here were the --- you don't understand Horatio. They were the best days of my life. And you--”
Archie did not let the tears fall. He never did. But he buried his face in Horatio's waistcoat, his voice thick with misery.
“Do you think they noticed?”
“No.” Horatio spoke between kisses, holding him close.
“I don't think so. And if they noticed anything, it makes no difference. They love you, Archie. I love you. Love you so much. You are here now. We both are.”
Archie gave a small laugh. It sounded weak even to him.
“You are supposed to be the one who needs cossetting. You are supposed to be getting over being sick.”
“I am. Getting better, I mean. My heart doesn't pound so much. See?”
“Still, maybe we should lie down and rest for a little while. It might be prudent.”
“Oh? Prudent? You think so?”
“I do. We have some time yet before dinner.”
Horatio drew him close, holding Archie against the drum of his heart, in the narrow bed that Archie had dreamed of so often. Four years gone, and the room was the same, the smell of the little bedroom, the feel of Horatio's caress. In his worst moments Archie had almost believed this to have all been a dream.
But, oh, it was real. The doctor had greeted him, kissed him, wept over him like a son. Mary as moved, he could hear the sounds of her heroic cooking. He was safe here. He drew a deep breath, and held Horatio close, and let himself feel it