Title:The Captain's Guest Bed
Rating R (Barely)
Word Count 1030
The Captains Guest Bed
He could not help the chuckle. It buzzed against the warm expanse of Archie's chest. Archie chuckled too at the feel of it and brought a warm hand down onto Horatio's neck.
“What do you find so amusing H'ratio?” Archie's voice was a rough buzz. Horatio propped himself up onto an elbow.
“All day today, when the camel was puking and moaning, all I could think of was the three wise men.
I was picturing them stumbling along, with monkeys and tigers, and Matthews and Styles, and you know, myrrh and gold and all.”
“Archie!” Horatio put his hands over his mouth. His eyes were dancing.
“Spikenard, Horatio. Is it not the same thing? I believe we can find the proper biblical reference.”
Horatio reached over to the bed table. The little jar was heavy, of translucent green stone. The salve inside was cool, and just the smell of it made him ache now. Archie's hand covered his, and Archie's eyes were wide and soft.
“Never thought we would be lying in the skipper's guest bed.”
The room was small and tidy, the white walls shadowed in the ebbing light. The air was serene, it smelled of plants. There was a vase of yellow flowers in the corner. The sheets cool and sweet, perfect costly linen. His own bare feet stretched in comfort. Captain Pellew was a tall man, taller than Horatio. Horatio could only assume that the beds in his house had been made with this in mind.
“So strange to be here,” Horatio said. “If I shut my eyes I still think I will open them on the Indy.”
“Hmm.” Archie gave a luxurious stretch. “I wonder if the camel feels the same way.”
The Pellew's stable had already housed a pony and a large white billy goat. Goat and pony had watched with interest as the camel was settled into the last empty box stall. It had been accomplished easily enough. The captain's lady, Horatio thought, had her own ease with command. The camel had seemed content with fresh straw bedding, and with hay to eat. After a bit he had folded its head back against his own side, and gone to sleep.
“You still smell a little of that goat,” Archie said. “he rubbed against you—here.” He placed a soft kiss on Horatio's naked hipbone.
“Goat smell gets everywhere.” Horatio said faintly. “And he was a friendly thing too. I liked him better than the camel.”
Horatio had a fondness for goats. They were intelligent as cats, but more kindly. He had spent a good few minutes scratching this one between the horns. It had leaned against him, eyes closed in delight. Archie was doing much the same to him now, with an altogether different result. There would be time for that too. But better to wait a little while. The house was crowded. So this was a casual caress, it was given more in promise than anything.
“I am to go with the captain on Monday,” Horatio said it idly. He was looking up at the ceiling.
“Yes, he is to London, to meet with admiral Hood. I am to travel with him and buy new uniforms.”
And this had somehow been the wrong thing to say. Archie rolled away, and looked up the ceiling too.
“London.” Archie said. His mouth had gone flat.
“Yes.” Horatio could feel his happiness falter. “I had rather go with you-- I had always thought that my first visit to London would be with you. But I do need the uniforms.”
“So you do-- make sure to get new drawers too. Those are quite useless.”
And somehow Horatio did not want to say, as he would usually have done, 'If they are so useless take them off of me.'
He watched Archie's face instead. Archie's smile was wry.
“I am sure our captain will delight in your company, Horatio.”
And Horatio had a sudden memory, of Archie stiff and proud and hurt, speaking of old Captain Keene. 'He does not see me.' Archie had said. The memory unspooled like tangled string, he could not follow the meaning of it easily, but he knew it was important.
“ I don't mean to vex you, Archie. You know that I would rather be with you.”
Archie gave a sigh. He stretched his arms above his head. and rolled belly down. He rested his head on his folded arms. This close to Horatio he was a little blurry. But that was fine. Horatio liked this blur, gold and blue and pale.
“Needs of the Navy.” Archie said.
“We are here now.” Horatio offered.
“So we are.” Archie said.
He reached a hand out to touch Horatio's face, and Horatio watched as Archie pushed the dark mood aside. It was like watching a white curtain pulled over a night window. There were the emptiness, pain and anger, forced away back. They were there, of course. But Archie would have no truck with them tonight. Forcing him to speak of it more would do no good. Therefore, Horatio need not feel obliged to do so.
It was like seeing a squall line in the distance, safely bearing away. He was furtively relieved.
Then the thought slid away entirely. Archie was done waiting. He began to kiss and stroke with intent. Done talking, done thinking. Horatio felt his hips lift, faster and faster until he could not keep up, and all was trembling apogee. In the flare behind his eyelids, it was the tiger Horatio thought of. He saw again the soft striped skin of it, and the heavy power and heat. He thought of the soft looking paws, the deadly teeth.
Then it was over. He shivered, and Archie pulled him close. He reached down, but Archie shook his head. “Get me next time, Horatio.” Archie pulled the blankets up, and placed a perfect kiss on Horatio's nose. Horatio slept.