Title: On going home, chapter 3
Character: Archie, Horatio
Rating: PG (Maybe) a kiss
Disclaimer: I did not invent these people
On Going Home Chapter 3
Horatio awoke to day streaming in the window of his father's study. He was warm and snug, subsumed, as he had often been before, in the cushions of his father's sofa. It could almost have been 10 years before, but for two things. The first was the sensation of his feet, almost reaching the sofa's end. The second was the solid, undeniably real, Archie Kennedy.
Mornings were kind to Archie. He greeted each day at full strength, lifting his face to the sun, chipper as a parakeet. He rolled from his hammock in full possession of his intelligence, his strength, and a wit which was especially disgusting before noon. Archie did not even need breakfast or coffee,( though he preferred plenty of both.)
Horatio started most mornings in misery. His stomach churned with sinister intent, and his gaze was thunderous. Breakfast, and in particular, coffee made him less venomous to his shipmates.
On this day there was no need for sharp action. He stretched his long feet, burrowing them under Archie's sofa cushion.
“Good Morning.” Archie said. “It's six bells. Your father came home around dawn. He peeked his head in the door, and went up the stairs.” It occurred to Archie, as he spoke that he was giving what was essentially a morning report. It took an effort of will not to conclude with 'All is well.' Instead he added cheerfully: “I've been learning about the bile duct.”
Horatio nodded, unsurprised. He took the statements in order. “Does that sometimes.” He said. “We'll see him at breakfast. Mary insists. They will both be so happy to meet you Archie.” He rose to his feet, and gave a groaning stretch. “Bile duct is it?” He said. “I think the bladder may be more the thing. Need to go outside.”
“Oh,” said Archie “Me too.”
“Well, why didn't you – you never had any trouble telling a head from a halyard.”
“It's your house Horatio. I was waiting for you.”
Horatio collected his comb, and extracted both their queue ribbons from the sofa. “I'll fix your hair, after.” He said. “You look-- untidy.” He could not say, you look like an angel made of fire.
Outside, the sun was already warming the ground, sending up the delicious smells of earth, and plants and land. Archie and Horatio stood in companionable silence, turned slightly away from each other, watering the boxwood tree. They finished with a near simultaneous flip and tuck.
“Come sit here.” Horatio said, “You can braid mine after.”
Archie sat on the step below, and Horatio began to work the comb through . Prior to Justinian, he had never combed anyones hair but his own. He looked forward now to the days that he could comb out Archie's hair. It flowed through Horatio's hands, delighting him. It was straight as a waterfall on the ends, and curled sweetly underneath from the heat of Archie's skin. Lifting the weight of it, he could see the column of Archie's neck, bowed forward for the comb. Archie's hair was longer than Horatio's Braided it reached his shoulder blades. Set loose, as it was now, it fell to his mid-back. The color was mutable, changing, even as he held it ,depending on the weather and the light. He worked slowly, but, all too soon the tangles were combed free. Horatio stroked the ivory comb through a few more times, trailing it over the Archie's skin, just to hear him sigh.
Archie leaned back against his knee, as he began to draw it into a tight braid. He could feel the strong spring of Archie's spine. The black ribbon drawn strong and proper around the braids-end was the last thing. Horatio put the knots in to hold all day. He knew that little wayward bits would work loose, but that was all right, even on the ship, that was all right.
Horatio ran his thumb over the brush end of the braid. It was as soft as cat fur, Following an impulse he could not explain, he lifted the end to his mouth, it was soft and warm on his lips, barely there. A mystery. Surely something so shining and colorful should have a taste. He put his tongue out, it tasted like hair.
He felt Archie turn, and dropped the queue, too late. Archie Kennedy, sitting cross-legged on the step, was looking at him in astonishment.
“Horatio! Were you chewing on my hair?”
Horatio's face was aflame, his chin dropped. He risked a look back up to Archie's eyes, and found them dark, wide, in a flushing face that matched his own. Softly, watching closely, Archie spoke again.
“Were you kissing my hair?”
Horatio couldn't look. “Yes.” Almost inaudible.
Archie waited in silence, for Horatio's eyes to lift. He caught them mercilessly with his own. His face had a look that Horatio dared not interpret. His voice was gentle.
“Horatio--” Archie said, “You can kiss me anytime you want, really. You don't need to ask..”
Archie looked up at Horatio in astonishment. The air between them crackled. Archie felt his belly clench, and his heart slammed his chest like a run out cannon. Cleared for action, Sir. He thought. Horatio took him by the ears.
He knew Horatio had never kissed anyone. The lips that touched Archie were closed, off center on his own. He felt the soft huff of Horatio's breath, and the sweetness of it all, rising in him, the joy. Horatio kissed as if Archie were covered in gold dust, as if he would dissolve like morning fog. It was the gentlest thing that Archie had ever known.
Then it was over. He was still moving forward, aching, about to respond, and it was over.
Horatio released his ears. Horatio's voice was shaking, and still very soft. “If I kissed you whenever I wanted, I should never do anything else.”