Title The Day Begins
Word Count 550
The Day Begins
“I got it backwards,” Horatio said. “Again, dammit.” He blinked and swallowed, in the pale light.
“What, backwards?” Archie said.
“I prefer the coffee before the sun comes. It makes the light less-- abrasive.” Horatio said.
“If you prefer to shiver in the dark with a cup of coffee, you can take my watches as well as your own.”
Archie wrinkled his nose. “Anytime. I'm sure the old man would have no objections.”
The glance that Horatio gave him was sidelong, sour, but the affection was there, mixed with amusement. Morning Archie was especially lovable, he thought. The annoyance was worth it, to see him glowing, glossy, chipper as a songbird.
“Besides Horatio,” Archie continued, oblivious to the scrutiny, “It is Sunday. There is nothing ahead for us but darning our stockings.”
“You said you'd do mine,” Horatio reminded.
“So I did. Your darns are lumpy.”
“Yes, they are too. Remember, last Wednesday, I got yours by accident and I was miserable all day.”
“Well, if you didn't always--”
Horatio began thus, but Archie never got to find out what it was that he 'always,' because something happened.
Something painful, and pointed and furiously hissing. The something happened to the center of his back, and clung there with grapples, hissing and climbing, painfully, as he yelped.
Archie reached up, with the hand of long suffering experience, got him by the scruff and pulled him over and down.
“Damn me, Cleveland,” He said in a carrying voice, “I have been awake an hour at most and have been blameless as a babe. Must I really suffer under the cat?”
Despite Archie's outrage, and his punctured skin, his hands were steady. Horatio noticed he was was scratching under Jeoffrey Mitten's chin.
“Control your animal,” Archie concluded.
“Sorry Arch.” Cleveland was breathless. His hands were bleeding. “I really am sorry. He got away from me, see. I was trying to feed him a nice draught. I had it specially from the surgeon. He has been listless lately, you know-- pining.”
Taking the cat in his arms, Cleveland looked down, worriedly. Jeoffrey Mittens looked up with flattened ears.
“Pining!” Archie said.
“I really am sorry--” Cleveland was contrite. “Shall I have a look at your back? Did he rip you very badly?”
Archie sighed. He rolled his shoulders. He shook his head.
“No, I'm fine. Go do what you have to do, just don't take too long. Horatio will drink all the coffee.”
“Aye.” Cleveland slung the cat over his shoulder, and departed. He was careless and graceful down the ladder, even burdened as he was by the (decidedly not listless, but quite beloved,) cat.
“Come Archie.” Horatio said, quietly. “Let me swab your back.”
“Hmm. I think you had better.” Archie said. “I am bleeding through my last clean shirt.”
Horatio shut the door, and waited. He had the little tub of salve ready. This was the one reserved for injuries. There was another, in his sea-chest, which they both associated with pleasanter things.
Archie shirtless, rested his palms on the writing desk. He pulled his hair out of the way, over his shoulder. Horatio could see the play of sturdy muscle in the shoulders and arms. He could see the skin of Archie's back, shining like milk, and the silver of the old scars which Archie had not wanted Cleveland to look at. Thus the past intruded. Horatio shivered. He pressed a kiss to the skin of the near shoulder,.
“Damn cat.” Archie said, lightly.
“Hmm-- he really got you.” Horatio was working the salve gently over the cuts. The bleeding had stopped.
Archie hissed through his teeth.
“Listless! Listless my arse,.” He said.
“Did he get you on the arse?”
“Are you sure?”
“Well--” Archie gave a half smile, “Maybe you could check for me later.”