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He Who is Dry Cork

Title: He Who is Dry Cork

Author Eglantine_br

Rating G

Word Count 461

He Who is Dry Cork

He had no fear of blows, or worse, coming out of the dark. He could strip his clothing to wash, without fear or shame. His body was his own, and Horatio loved it. No one beat him now, no one mocked him now. His value was known. There were no chains here.

Archie allowed his eyes to shut when the dark came, and he let his mind turn to sleepy pleasant things. He rocked in his canvas cocoon. The space for two lieutenants was small. They were close enough to hold hands. They were close enough for Archie to stroke the tense canvas that covered Horatio's side. This was touching, and not touching. This distant caress was more intention than fact. Horatio, yawning, petted Archie through his hammock the same way.

This was the waking world. Sleep was not so simple.

Some nights, still, he came up gasping like a gaffed fish. Some dreams he was so lost in the past that his shout woke Horatio. They ended those nights on the deck, together. Horatio gave up his own good rest, without complaint, and he drew Archie close, into the smell of his skin, the circle of his arms.

And then, some nights, were like this one. He had been in a comfortable nowhere, when, with no warning, his body and mind threw him awake. The fear was overwhelming, childish, shameful. He had no dream to frame it, it had no edges or words of meaning. He was sweating. He could smell the stink of fear on his skin. His mouth was dry. His breath was sobbing quietly, but his eyes were dry too. He had not made a sound, Horatio slept on, untroubled.

Here in the dark, Archie knew what the small and harmless know. If he held still enough, if he trembled in the most careful silence, he would be safe. He drew his knees up, he pulled his arms close. He shook, but his breathing was slowing now, and after a moment of fierce struggle, he found that he could think. He paced his breathing Horatio's. He waited for the worst to pass him by.

It would pass, it was just the body and its foolishness. Archie-inside would endure. He had not made a sound. No one had to know. Not ever, not even Horatio. He could move his arms now, the rigid clench of muscle was passing. He passed his hands over himself, face, chest, groin, legs, feet. This was not a self-caress. This was something more like an inventory. His own poor body; All present and sober.

Horatio slept on. Archie waited. It would pass, day would come. No one had to know.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 10th, 2012 11:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, my. That's really good, and and really sad, and all OK, at the same time. Poor Archie.
Jan. 11th, 2012 03:51 am (UTC)
He is coping as best he can. I don't know how much help anyone can give, even willing as they are.
Jan. 11th, 2012 05:04 am (UTC)
I think that there really isn't anything, beyond the safer environment of the Indy and what Horatio's already done. Would that the pair of them could always sleep in one bed, so that Archie could curl up against Horatio without waking him.
Jan. 11th, 2012 06:11 am (UTC)
I wish so too.
Jan. 11th, 2012 06:39 am (UTC)
Horatio says it's a very nice bed, at "Mr. Godwin"'s London house, and even if the demands of the service make it somewhat less often than "always," the year that the Treaty of Amiens held was a year of the most untroubled sleep either of them enjoyed.
Jan. 11th, 2012 10:41 am (UTC)
I have no doubt that it is a nice bed. Very, very nice. Yum.
Jan. 11th, 2012 01:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's lovely. Thank you. (Especially like the inventory bit.)
Jan. 11th, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
I can see him so clearly, just running his hands top to bottom. He has been through so much, and he just keeps going on.
Jan. 13th, 2012 03:39 am (UTC)
This is so beautifully written...

"...he drew Archie close, into the smell of his skin, the circle of his arms."

Jan. 13th, 2012 03:43 am (UTC)
I am so glad you like it. Thank you for letting me know.
Sep. 26th, 2016 04:00 am (UTC)
Archie and his nightmares are so compelling. What is it? I suppose maybe that he's in bed (well, a hammock, close enough) and he needs comfort and we just wish we could be the ones to hug him better. But Horatio is a good stand-in.

Poor Archie and his fragile pride - feeling he needs to hide his pain. Well, I guess he just doesn't want to hurt Horatio. Horatio would be sad for Archie and Archie wants to spare him.

Edited at 2016-09-26 04:00 am (UTC)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )