Title: On Going Home, Chapter 9
Rating: R, for the usual reasons, also sailor talk!
Word Count: 2099
Disclaimer: I did not invent them
On Going Home, Chapter 9
Horatio had read of lying in a lover's arms. He had dreamed of it, in the months since he turned 18. He had pictured holding and touching Archie through the night. He had imagined Archie touching and caressing him. Now, three nights into their leave, it had come true.
Tonight he had known they would lie together. And it was marvelous. They had toyed and whispered and kissed, and it all rose and fell, just as he had dreamed it would. Now Archie lay against him, limp and satiated. Archie was asleep.
Archie in a hammock hardly moved at all. Horatio had watched him enough to know. He simply climbed in, and settled onto his back, he decided to sleep, and he slept. He also wakened every four hours. If he had no watch, he smiled dreamily at Horatio, and sank below sleep's surface again.
“After you've been on a ship for years, you'll be able to do it too.” Archie had assured him. Horatio was not so sure.
But Horatio had learned something else new this week. Archie in a land bed, was a different creature. He kicked, and he wiggled, he talked nonsense, and he exuded heat like a pot roast. He stole the covers, and he took all the space.
Horatio had had trouble sleeping all his life. Even as a small boy, there had been nights he had stared at the ceiling for hours and thought about whist. This was one of those nights. His mind was so tired. But nothing on his body could sleep. Except for his arm. Archie was lying it.
“Roll over, Archie.” He whispered. “There, there you go, there.” He slid his numb arm loose, and oozed himself to the floor. He ruffled Archie's hair in a kiss. “I love you Archie.” He whispered. He had said it a few times now, but never when Archie could hear. Archie didn't hear this time either.
“West, a quarter west, baked ham.” Archie said comfortably, and rolled over to his face.
Horatio climbed into the other bed. The sheets were cool and he could stretch out. He could hear Archie's breathing. He lay, counting his own against it. After some time he slept.
The sound did not come from far away. It did not come slowly. It came as a senseless warbling shriek, like ice down Horatio's spine. Shooting from sleep like a rocket, he knew what it was. It was Archie, shouting as one of his fits came over him. Then, the thump of Archie's vulnerable body, crashing to the floor.
Horatio knew he could not get Archie back into bed. He was too heavy, and his body was rigid as a board. Archie's head was knocking the floor, over and over. The sound was ugly. Horatio tried to lever Archie's upper body into his lap. No good. Nothing would bend. Unable to think what else to do, he slid down close. He was able to get a hand under the back of Archie's head, and take the impact there somewhat.
There was a pale gibbous moon floating in the center of the bedroom window. It gave enough light to see by somewhat, though it drained everything of life and color. No matter. He could see that Archie's mouth was bleeding. He was breathing oddly, and with effort through a rime of bloody froth. Archie's eyes were half open, rolled oddly to the side, as if he were trying to look at something over his shoulder.
Horatio, lay beside him, cushioning the wracked body as best he could. Archie had said, that the fits did not hurt, that he could not remember them, after. It seemed impossible to believe. It looked so painful. Horatio wanted to cry.
Then, all at once, it was over. Horatio knew it had only been about five minutes, but it felt like forever. Archie's body went limp. He drew a deep real breath, and let it out with a sigh. Horatio wiped at Archie's mouth, with his hand. Squinting in the moonlight, he could see that Archie's tongue was bleeding, but only a little. He was not choking now, at least. Horatio rolled him gently to his side, and cupped behind him. Archie's neck was fever hot.
“All over now, Archie, all done.” Horatio stroked his hair back. “I'm so sorry Archie.” He whispered. He pulled the blankets down over them, on the floor. “Archie, I love you so much. I'm right here with you. It's all right now.” But Archie didn't hear. He was asleep.
“God-thamn it. Ow, Hell!” Archie was sitting on the bed, naked,scowling. He was feeling his tongue.
“I bit my fucking tongue.” His head was turned away from Horatio, as if unwilling to look at him. He was flushed with anger. Horatio rolled to sit up.
“It is not. I assume from the evidence that I had a fit last night.”
“Well. Yes. How do you feel now?”
“Oh lovely. Just...jolly. I'm sorry for your fucking inconvenience Horatio.”
“Archie --” Archie, was dressing, with precise savage gestures.
“I-- nothing.” Horatio looked down. “I'm glad that you are all right.”
Archie came over to stand in front of him.
“I'm not all right. My mouth is bleeding. My skin hurts, and my head aches like I've been eye-buggered. I humiliated myself last night, and I hate it. Every time it happens I think it will be the last, and then it happens again and I hate it.”
“It doesn't matter Archie. It's only me.” Horatio's voice was small. Archie looked at him closely, pulled him up.
“Only you...Silly Horatio. You matter most of all.”
He kissed Horatio. “Ow.”
“Let me get dressed.”
“In a moment. Ow...”
“Does this hurt? “
“Ow. Ummm, yes. Do that again.”
Horatio slid his tongue carefully over Archie's seeking out the bloody bitten spot.
“You know, it is very early,” he said. “We both had a broken night. We could climb back in bed for a while, and... rest. “
“All right. Just let me get this off.”
“No. Let me.” Archie let him.
The bed was soft and cool, and somehow it seemed more roomy than it had the night before. Horatio was able to lie on his back, stretched out, and Archie curled into the hollow of his shoulder. This, of course, was how his arm had gone numb in the first place. He felt his mouth quirk. It didn't matter.
“Are you really all right?”
“Yes. Or I will be. That seems to be helping.”
“Yes, oh yes... I have to say it is a cure my parents never sought for me. But it does seem to be...helping.”
Horatio waited a bit before he asked. “Did your parents try many different cures?”
Archie was out of breath, but he answered readily enough.
“Oh yes, several. Some were awful. None worked. There was one doctor who claimed that the answer was to put me in a cold bath, and beat me with sticks. They didn't give him much credence, I am pleased to say.”
“Well, they were worried. And disappointed. My siblings are perfect, you see. “
Horatio started to say something. He meant to argue with the cold hurt in the voice. But Archie interrupted, continuing. His eyes were fixed on the ceiling. Horatio, moving a hand slowly, distractedly, let him speak.
“Mostly though, I had to take pills. “
“Was that bad?”
“Most were not too bad. But they didn't work.”
“Some of them made me sick, or stupid.”
“That does sound bad.”
“Yes. There were some pills I hated because they made me so dizzy and slow. My parents made me take them anyway. This was the year I was 10. After a while I started spitting them out when no one was looking. I knew they wouldn't work anyway, but my parents had hopes. Then I had a really terrible public fit, and they found me out. They certainly wanted to beat me with sticks then. In fact, my father actually did.”
Horatio pulled Archie closer. His thoughts were wild and illogical. . He pictured all the younger versions of Archie,stretched back through the years. He wanted to speak to them all. He wished he could drop to his knees, and offer them comfort. He wanted to tell them about the being he held in his arms. He wanted to tell everyone. 'My siblings are perfect you see.' He would never forget the calm acceptance of that pain. And most particularly, Horatio wanted to beat Archie's parents with sticks.
But Archie had moved on. He was waking up now. He was done talking of the past. He was right here and now, and moving over Horatio with delightfully wicked purpose. He had turned his attention to the soft, nameless flesh just south of Horatio's underarm. He nuzzled his nose against it, skating his teeth against the curve of muscle and rib. Horatio rose up in goose-bumps.
“Do you like that Horatio?” Archie's hand had crept under the curve of his back, and was touching now, again, the spot above where the trouser laces would be. The clever kindly hand rubbed Horatio there in little circles, driving the breath from him. The other hand, in its mercy sought the front. It rubbed and stroked, driving him up, up. Horatio thought – but no. It took him to the crest of the wave, and then it stopped, leaving him beached.
“Please. Please, Archie.”
But Archie was rolling on top of him, pressing their bodies tight together, together wonderfully, all the way down. And moving then, Archie was teaching him, and it was like learning a dance. He had never been able to dance-- but he could learn this dance. It went: me, you, you, me, me, you.
He was so dazed. And it felt so important somehow. He found himself asking dizzily, “Are we-- did you?”
Archie smiled down at him, “No. It's not. I would hope if it were, you would know.” He gave a gasping chuckle. “And I should hope I'd ask first.”
The dance had not stopped. Me, you, had become imperative. It was the most important thing ever. Every move, every turn made it so much worse and better, and Horatio could not believe it could go on this way. He was up so high. He could not believe he was capable of this. Me, you, you, me ---and then.
Archie lost the pattern. Horatio, holding on, watched in awe. Archie drove against him, powerfully, with a new dance that was all his own. Me, me, me. And Horatio felt the wet slide, and Archie shuddered and gave a little broken sound.
The little sound tipped Horatio over. That he, dross that he was, could bring Archie to this...the thought was enough, and he was Me, me, me. And he did not know what sounds he made.
“Oh, Horatio.” Archie was pushing the tangles off Horatio's hot face. “That was so good. Are you all right?”
Horatio felt himself coming home. He was sliding down from the heights to the deck of his own body, and that was fine. But it felt very strange to be himself again, after being so high and free. It made him want to weep a little. It was all so strange.
“I seem to be springing leaks – Sorry Archie.” Horatio clawed at the tears, they made no sense. But Archie knew better. “Don't be sorry. Dear Horatio.” Archie gave him a wobbly smile. “It happens sometimes. It just means – it means that it really mattered.”
“It mattered. I love you Archie.”
“I love you too. I think I always have. Since that first day, anyway. Oh, no, Horatio, sweetheart, oh, it's nothing to weep over.”
“I don't know why. Why, when I'm so happy. I don't know why.”
“It's all right.” Archie sat up, drew him close. “Let's clean your face up.” And Archie cleaned Horatio's cheeks surprisingly efficiently, using his nose.