Title: Relief of the Watch
Rating R (smut here)
Word Count 1384
Relief of the Watch
The Indy flexed around him. He swayed with her motion, his knees bending A ship is alive, and she is never still. Archie let his eyes find the horizon. He could see the day coming, small and cold. Damp air moved against his cheek.
The sentry turned the glass, the bell spoke. He was free to go. Archie let out a long breath. His eyes were gritty with fatigue. He had some few good hours, now before the day properly began. He headed for his quarters.
The passageway was dim, and at this time, empty. Behind each partition of canvas, behind each thin bulkhead of wood, men slept. For six years, Archie had known well the sleep of weary men. He knew the sounds of it, the murmur and shuffle and shift. In sleep, the good were laid bare, and even monsters stirred his pity. Let them rest. He would not wake them. His feet were quiet. He eased his own door open, and stepped through.
Here now, dim in the diffuse light, and the sounds and smell of ships canvas, was the best place that Archie Kennedy had ever rested his own tired head. This was better than the great house of his parents, in Scotland. It was better than the townhouse in London, where he had dressed in the riches of his long-gone childhood. It was better than the dream world of theater, and better than the whole nations of France and Spain. Better because of Horatio.
He slid his shoes away, one foot against the other. He padded forward in his stockings.
Horatio was just as Archie had left him. He was tumbled on the deckbaords, in a wild arrangement of limbs, and bedding and discarded uniform. He was smiling slightly, dreaming. His hammock hung above him, slack and empty.
The canvas of Archie's hammock was identical. It would be damp now with the airs of night. It would be stiff and abrasive on his tired flesh. It would take some time to cup him warmly. Horatio was the better option. Cupping Archie warmly was one of the things Horatio did best.
Archie stripped down to his drawers. He dropped to the deck and burrowed close.
“Hmmm.” It was a small foolish sound, not really a word at all. Horatio turned in his embrace.
“G'mornin.” Horatio said, indistinctly.
Horatio twined around him. Archie's skin was stippled with cold, Horatio was hot in contrast. Archie felt himself shiver and sigh.
“Come here, here, close to me.” Horatio said.
His voice was gruff with sleep. And Archie was as close as bare flesh would allow, but Horatio pressed the sway of his back, as if there could be closer. Archie was pliant now, with the heat, and a kiss was warmer and closer, after all. Kissing led to kissing. They were bringing hands up to touch. They were leaving sleep behind.
Horatio's soft mouth on Archie's face; here was the need that never abated, but only drew itself back somewhat, like a kindly tide. And now the tide was rushing against Archie again, to high water. It was lifting them both, pulling them away into itself. They floated deliciously.
“We have time.” Archie said.
Horatio was moving restlessly now, sliding against Archie. His eyes were open, dark and soft, Archie felt his breath tighten. Horatio was over him now, half on him, his near leg, sprawled over Archie's own. He looked down at Archie his gaze was solemn.
“Your arm.” Horatio said.
“Oh.” The sound kicked out of Archie, a mew of anticipation. His hips were rolling, pushing at nothing. He loved this. Horatio did not do it every time.
Horatio took Archie's arm, and stretched it out, soft side up. He held the wrist, not tightly, but very definitely. Horatio slid his other hand down Archie's side, until it came to rest in the crease of belly and thigh. He rested it there, unmoving, an implicit promise. Archie's struggling could bring it no closer.
Horatio started at the far end. He kissed Archie's straining finger-pads, one by one. He let his tongue play over them, then the palm. He pushed into the cup of Archie's hand, loving over the places of callous and burn. They meant nothing, everyone had those. Horatio had them too, even the old men had them, Bowles, Bracey. Archie assumed Pellew had them too. He had never gotten close enough to see. He preferred his interactions with Captains to remain decently distant.
But Horatio was strangely moved by Archie's hands. He licked, as a dog does, as if he could soothe those little long ago hurts. And it felt so good to let him do it.
Over the hillock of flesh then, at the base of the thumb, and on to the plain of wrist; Horatio's tongue was a hot point, tracing the purple estuaries, charting their wandering their path to the heart. Archie floated, eyes closed mouth open. It felt so good. The first bite came with no warning, and it made Archie gasp. His hips curled forward. Horatio gave him one soft stroke there, not enough.
But Horatio chose to misunderstand. He rasped his face up Archie's trembling skin, over the straining muscles of the arm. Here was the bend of the elbow. In daylight the skin here was translucent, white as whey. There were scars here too, Horatio had mourned them in daylight. Archie in childhood, apprehensive and diffident, had gone to be bled. Here, at the soft bend of the elbow, year after year, they had pierced him with the lancet.
Horatio had not forgotten. His kisses here were soft. He rested his cheek against the bulge of Archie's upper arm, and let Archie pull him into an embrace. Archie could feel Horatio against him, swollen and hard. He brought his own hand down to touch. One slide, one stroke, and Horatio was flexing forward, thrusting now against Archie's encircling hand. One more stroke, another, and he could feel the tremor at the apex. He took his hand away.
“Oh, no...no.” Horatio's head was back, his eyes closed.
Archie drew him close, kissed the angle of his throat. He brought his hand down between Horatio's legs. Horatio's balls were a trusting weight in his hand, soft and hot from sleep. Horatio gasped at the touch,
“Want to make it last,” Archie whispered.
“Oh, but oh--”
Horatio twisted somehow, and was alongside now, and Archie's leg twined over his. Now they were close and rocking together, and whining together. The damp slide between the bellies of them was so good, so good, and Archie knew that it was not going to last. They never could make it last. They were driving it higher, both of them. Horatio had him tight, hands on his back, mouth on his neck.
“Now, oh, now.”
Horatio's voice was tight. Archie felt the hot pulse against his own cock, against his belly. Horatio shuddered and sagged.
And it was rising over Archie, and he could not hold it. He brought his teeth down on Horatio's shoulder, and felt himself cry against the salt of his skin. Horatio was steady for him, and Horatio's voice in his ear-- “Love you, Archie. Love you, yes, yes, oh.”
Filtered light had found the little room. Day was upon them. Still there was time to rest, to let the prickle of sweat cool, and the two hearts of them slow. Horatio had rolled free. They sprawled on the decking, hand in hand. The wood was cool and smooth under Archie's back.
In a moment, in a little bit of time, they would get up, and wash. Not yet, not yet. Horatio's hand came over him, gently pushing the hair off of Archie's sweaty face. Archie caught the hand, and brought it down to kiss.
Time spent in lovemaking was stolen time. Memory could not catch him when he was in Horatio's embrace. When they moved together, when they delighted each other, Archie was clean and free. But the weight settled on him afterward. He felt it then, as he shouldered it for the day. He felt it now. They were going to France.