Title: On Going Home, Chapter 20
Word Count 1667
Disclaimer I did not invent them
“Checkmate, Horatio.” Archie drained the last of his cider, and set the cup on the hearth.
“Oh, so it is.”
Horatio tipped his king, with a rueful shake of his head.
“How did you get so good at chess Archie? I didn't see that coming from the rook at all.”
Archie laughed, and sat up. He began gently setting the chess pieces away into their wooden box.
“There is more to life than whist Horatio. I played with my brothers. Sisters too, once they were old enough. We played chess a lot.”
Horatio lounged by the fire, belly down on the hearth rug, watching Archie pack up the chess set. He felt he could watch Archie forever, and never tire of the way he caught the light. The fire made pools of black and lemon and delicate orange on Archie's white shirt. Shadows lapped at his face and hair. He looked mythological. But he was Horatio's to touch and love. Tonight, one final night, without worry or restraint.
Horatio knew now the feel of the sweet wide shoulders under the thin shirt. He knew the taste of Archie's skin, and the sound of his voice in pleasure. All this would be his within the hour, undeserving as he knew himself to be. For the moment though, he was content to lounge and watch the firelight play over the shapes of Archie. He let his eyes slit half closed, and let everything blur and smear a little.
“My father really likes you.” He said. His voice felt distant and sleepy, but he did not want to waste this night in sleep.
Archie smiled. “Really?”
“Oh yes. I can tell.” He sat up, “Archie, come here.” Horatio reached out, and Archie came to his arms, warm from the fire.
“The last night.” Archie said. Horatio burrowed against his shoulder, nodded. Horatio didn't want to talk. He didn't want to speak of the time slipping away. He let his head slide down into Archie's lap. He could see the the underside of Archie's chin, from here, and a foreshortened landscape of shirt, and neck. Archie seemed to sense his mood, and settled back on one arm, petting Horatio's head with the other.
“We should not be melancholy, you know Horatio.” Archie said quietly. “A frigate. Just think. Prize money, distinction. And we will be together. It will be fine.”
“I know. I do know. I want all those things. But I want this more.” He touched, and felt Archie shiver.
“We'll figure it out Horatio.” Archie leaned into the slow, caress, returned it with his own. “Somehow, we'll find a way”
“I don't ever want to stop touching you.”
“We'll find a way.”
Horatio worked an arm under Archie's thigh. He burrowed his face into Archie's lap, and simply rested, letting his thoughts slide away with the sound of Archie's heartbeat. Archie's hand was stroking through his hair, and the heat of the fire on his neck.
“Feels good Archie,” He murmured. “Please don't stop.”
Archie may not have heard. The voice was very quiet and directed at his belly-button. But, in any case, he did not stop.
Archie was warm before the fire. He kept his hand slowly moving through the dark curls. Horatio was damp and limp in sleep. That was fine. Archie was content to sit before the fire a while and think. Time alone with his thoughts would be in short supply again very soon. He was happy to have a lap full of Horatio, in the meantime. But he was not going to let him sleep all night.
Horatio's wide mouth was slack, and there was a gloss of sweat on his brow. Archie could see his eyelids flick with dreams. Archie felt his throat lump up with tenderness. This was his Horatio. He had waited so long for this. He had been so lonely for years. He had wanted someone to love him. And it was so good. It was as good as his lonely dreams had ever desired. But Archie had not known what a privilege it would be to return love.
Now he knew. He wanted to hold Horatio close forever, and keep him safe from harm. A frigate awaited them. There would be cannon drill, cutting out raids, storms. Nobody could keep anyone safe on a frigate. But Archie would try. He promised himself he would try. “Oh Honeybee,” he said, knowing that Horatio could not hear. “Love you, love you.”
“Hhngg.” Horatio said, snuffling in his dreams. Archie set himself to unbuttoning Horatio's shirt. He stroked his fingers gently over the skin, as he revealed it. Horatio arched his head, and exposed his smooth neck to Archie's caress. He was still below the surface of sleep, just. Archie stilled his hand, to let him sink again.
The fire was subsiding to a red glow. Soon it would be time to climb the stairs to Horatio's small blue room again. Archie knew he would remember that room, and that bed in his best thoughts, all the rest of his life. He let his hand stroke down, over Horatio's hip. Let it begin to work the shirt free. The skin of Horatio's flank was soft and smooth, and hot from the fire. Horatio made another small sound and burrowed towards Archie. His eyes blinked open, dark and awake for a moment, and he smiled. He was watching now, but not moving. He submitted himself to Archie's caresses, content for the moment only to receive.
Archie slid his palm up over the flat soft plane of Horatio's belly. The shirt rumpled on ahead of his traveling hand. Horatio turned lazily to his back, to make the touch easy. His eyes were dark and fathoms deep. The fire painted golds and shadows on his skin, and Archie set himself to tracing them. He could feel Horatio's breath, gone deeper now, his heartbeat came leaping up from sleep. Archie could see the arched shape straining against the fabric of Horatio's trousers. There would be time for that, all night for that, and soon. Now it was enough to slide the shirt up and off. It was enough to delight in the muscles of his shoulders and arms, and to rest his tongue against the pulse of Horatio's wrist. He lapped at the wrist, where the blue veins crossed the crease. The skin there was so thin, soft as Horatio's lips. Horatio's hand came up against the side of his face, finding his ear, making Archie shiver too.
“Come down here, with me.” Horatio said. “Let me touch you Archie.” The quiet voice drew something up inside Archie, and he tugged at his own shirt, eager, suddenly for Horatio against his own bare skin. The shirt bent his ear, snagged his hair, but he pulled it free and let it fall away.
“Can we stay here, by the fire?” He asked.
“I don't see why not.” Horatio said. “My father is long asleep, I'm sure. We can stay at least a little while. If we are tired tomorrow we can always sleep in the coach.”
Horatio drew him down, and moved against him now, and the heat of him was delicious against Archie's chest. He let his hand slide down along Horatio's flawless back. It was as warm and perfect as a happy childhood.
Horatio's hand was loving on him, sliding over the scars of his back and arms. There were spots that were numb,and places that cringed from the kindest touch. Perhaps they always would. But between and around and inside, Archie could feel something more. When Horatio touched him, Archie felt new. He felt pure and sparkling. He wanted to weep with the relief of it. But of course he could not. He had not been able to weep since that first night, the night that Simpson---
Horatio's kiss came then, and broke the thought as cleanly as a boy will snap a twig. Horatio brought his mouth against Archie's kissing and licking, and speaking all at once. He was panting foolish little words of affection and delight, little noises of assent, and he rubbed his lower body against Archie. Archie brought his hand down between them, to rub them both, and it was better then, so much better. Horatio was trembling in his arms now, both of them open mouthed, crazed to be touching everywhere.
Archie ripped at the buttons, loosening both of them. They pulled apart, gasping, long enough to pull and kick away the cloth that confined them. He felt Horatio arch against him, gasping something lost in the rasp of breath. Rubbing and sliding was lifting them higher. They were rising up together, chest to chest. Archie brought his face to Horatio's then, and nipped at the great pulse at the angle of his jaw. Horatio gave a shocked little sob, and Archie felt his rigid helpless pulsing. The sound of Horatio's helplessness, the feeling of him quivering, sent Archie spiraling higher. The thought that he could cause such pleasure intoxicated him. Horatio clutched him, and shook, and it seemed like forever, and just as it was ending Horatio gasped “Oh, Archie, yes.” The sound was enough to tip Archie over. He felt himself surge forward, and the heat between them took him too.
Horatio rolled sideways, to lie on his back. His chest was heaving. Archie rolled the other way, letting the cool air bathe his skin. It felt fine to rest like this, sticky and panting, hand in hand, after. In his dreams, and wishes, he had never considered the moments after.
“Are you thirsty Archie?” Horatio asked. “I have some cider left in my cup.” He held out the cup, and Archie, smiling, took it.