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[Hornblower] Midnight Command

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Kit', Sep 28, 2022.

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  1. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Title: Midnight Command

    Author: Kit'

    Genre: Romance; Angst, Emotional Hurt & Comfort; Friends to Lovers

    Warning: Allusions to past sexual assault but nothing explicit

    Characters: Horatio Hornblower, Archie Kennedy

    Summary:
    Archie Kennedy has dreams. Sometimes Archie dreams about Horatio. Those dreams are the only time he can, for a little while at least, escape the Spanish prison that has held him for the last two years. Sometimes he dreams of Simpson and, when Archie has those dreams, he wakes up screaming.

    Tonight his screams woke Hornblower, who has given Archie a very tempting offer to help him get back to sleep.

    Author's note: If you haven't watched the mini-series I would highly recommend it. Luckily all the episodes are free on Youtube!
     
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  2. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    “Acting Lieutenant Simpson is now Mister Midshipman Simpson.”

    Archie stared resolutely at the table, his heart hammering. Simpson kept talking but Archie could no longer focus on anything, but the grooves of the table top. Simpson kept talking as Archie’s vision narrowed further. He was lightheaded and breathless when Simpson’s vile voice cut through again, calling his name.

    He managed an answer, stammering through the rules that Simpson had forced on him and his fellow officers. Forced was the best way to put it because even now he could feel Simpson’s rough hand on his body, smell his foul breath. Archie jerked as Simpson slammed his knife into the table top. He risked a glance upwards, expecting the new midshipman to shy away, but Hornblower was meeting Simpson’s gaze steadily, his face composed. A part of Archie wanted to warn Hornblower of what would happen if he fought against Simpson but his throat felt like someone had stuffed it full of oakum.

    “Mister Kennedy, that Mister Hornblower learns who runs this mess, you’ll wake him every hour day and night until I tell you otherwise.”

    He nodded, a part of him pathetically grateful that perhaps if Simpson’s gaze was held elsewhere then he would escape his ‘lessons’. That vain hope had been dashed the moment he’d looked up and seen Simpson’s hungry gaze on his face.
    Then, before his eyes, Simpson’s face seemed to morph. His teeth grew longer and more pointed. Simpson opened his mouth to say something but now his mouth was nothing but a cavernous black maw ringed with teeth. He stood up and bellowed, slamming a hand down onto the table. Except it wasn’t a hand anymore, but the tentacle of an octopus. Archie backed away, tripping over his chair in his haste to escape.

    “Little coward,” Simpson hissed, climbing up and onto the table to follow him. Except where his arms and legs should have been it was only octopus tentacles, reaching and grabbing for him.

    Archie’s heart thudded wildly in his chest and his face was bathed in sweat. He scrambled backwards along the floor until his back slammed into the wall of the mess, the rough grain of the Justinian’s hull bit into his hands.

    Archie closed his eyes, and shrank into himself hoping that if he was quiet and still then Simpson’s gaze would ignore him.

    Instead he heard the quiet susurrus of the tentacles moving, tasted the smell of Simpson’s vile aftershave, and felt his hot breath on his cheek.

    “Time to get reacquainted, boy.”

    Archie woke himself up screaming.
     
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  3. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Fingers pressed into his shoulders and for a moment Archie struggled, desperate to get away. He could hear someone calling his name and he surfaced, gasping for air and trying to push whoever it was away.

    “Archie, come on, let me help you!”

    Archie struggled for a few seconds more, blinking in the half-light. The rough cement walls reminded him that he was still in Spain. Not home. Not back on the Indefatigable either where Simpson could reach him.

    “It was a dream, Archie.” Horatio was saying, gently pushing Archie back so he was lying down on his bunk. The dream still haunted him. In the darker corners of the cell, he could imagine Simpson lurking, his awful tentacles waiting to wrap tight around Archie’s neck. He shivered.

    “One day you’re going to have to tell me about those dreams,” Horatio said, a smile touching the corner of his mouth.

    He smiled weakly and shook his head. “One day maybe I will, but I fear you would find me foolish.

    “You were thrashing around like your life depended on it!” Horatio said, an eyebrow raising slightly to show his disbelief. “Anything that creates that reaction could only be something dreadful. Besides,” he added, and his hand reached out to grasp Archie’s. “I cannot ever find it within myself to think you foolish.”

    Archie wondered how much he was blushing. The feeling of Horatio’s hand on his sent a strange thrill coursing through him. “I’m fine, really. It-” He paused. “Sorry for waking you”

    Horatio shrugged, untangled his hand and pulled Archie’s blanket back up his chest.

    “It is quite alright. You must have had a bad night. You are lucky I happened to be there.”

    Archie’s breath shuddered as the edge of Horatio’s hand brushed across his face. He turned, trying to use the movement to cover his awkwardness, so he lay on his side, looking at Horatio. He watched as Horatio leaned over him, fingers hovering just over the scars on Archie’s collarbone; the eternal reminder of a failed escape from another Spanish prison.

    “If you are fine, I will leave you." Horatio said, half rising. He stopped mid-way and glanced down at Archie. He started to speak and the words seemed to tumble out of the lieutenant’s mouth. "Although, if you need it. I am happy to share the warmth of my bed if it means you will get a good night's sleep.” Horatio looked almost as surprised at what he’d said as Archie felt. He quickly recovered, though and laughed sheepishly. “My apologies, it sounds rather stupid when I say it out loud. It is just...you were screaming. I thought…maybe this way you would get a better night's sleep. Maybe if we-”

    He stopped himself.

    Archie frowned, feeling confused. His chest felt tight, and there seemed to be a growing warmth deep in his stomach. He realised that he didn't want Horatio to leave, but he didn't want to seem too eager. Not when his own feelings were so conflicted. The ghost of Simpson and everything he had done still haunted him. Archie searched for the right words.

    “If you think you would sleep also.” His voice sounded breathless even to him and he winced. Why did Horatio have to be so attractive? Why was that the best thing he could think to say?

    “I think I could,” Horatio said softly. He paused and leaned in close, his warm breath brushing over Archie’s ear and causing goosebumps to raise all along his arms. “Although I do hope my company does not keep you from getting restful sleep.”

    Archie wanted to scream. Instead, he smiled and reached out to stroke Horatio’s face. There was no denying how handsome the man was. How soft his skin felt under his fingertips. How he smelled like cinnamon and the sea. Archie couldn't hold back his grin anymore. “Of course not, it is my bed after all,” he whispered. He reached up and wrapped his fingers into Horatio’s curls, and pulled his face gently towards him.

    He expected Horatio to lean back and pull away. Or, worse, to leave. But instead, the other young man moved forward, pressing his lips to Archie’s.

    Archie’s mind whirled, his body tensing instinctively. Was it a mistake? Had he made things worse by kissing him? Did he really want to kiss him? What if Horatio found out about-

    But then he heard the other’s muffled groan and the thoughts fled. Archie felt Horatio tugging gently at his arm, pulling them closer together. His hand was running lightly down Archie’s neck.

    Archie felt himself relax completely, sinking into the touch and melting against Horatio. The other’s hands were warm and firm, resting delicately against his face; wrapping through his hair. Archie tilted his chin, wanting to get closer, wanting to feel the heat radiating from Horatio’s fingers.

    The hand against Archie’s face slid down until it rested gently against the curve of his waist. Archie shuddered involuntarily as Horatio changed direction, running his hands upwards as if trying to feel Archie through his worn shirt.

    Archie opened his eyes and stared deeply into Horatio’s. As soon as he met his gaze, Horatio leaned in and kissed him again. Archie closed his eyes again and moaned quietly at the contact.

    He had been imagining what Horatio might taste like for weeks. He had dreamed of Horatio, imagined him touching him in ways he knew would drive him wild, imagined them falling asleep pressed up against each other, both hot and sticky with sweat from the exertion of their lovemaking. The memory of his dreams of Horatio meant the terrible dream of Simpson slithered back into his head.

    Suddenly he couldn’t breathe. He gasped in shock, going rigid and still.

    Horatio froze immediately and pulled away, concern shining clearly in his eyes. He released his grip on Archie’s hair and stroked one of his hands down Archie’s cheek His eyes travelled over Archie’s face, scanning every inch of it as if searching for the cause of his distress.

    “Are you alright, Archie? Are you unwell?”

    “No, I am perfectly well, thank you.” Archie swallowed roughly . “Just…give me a moment,”

    He squeezed Horatio’s hand and slowly pushed himself up onto his elbows. Horatio followed him up, watching carefully as Archie sat up and took a deep breath.

    He didn’t look at Horatio. Somehow that would make it worse. He took a couple more deep breaths, trying to calm the hammering of his heart and push the dream away. Eventually he looked up at his cell mate. “Please stay, Horatio. If you don’t mind…it helps to have company sometimes.”

    “You are sure?” Horatio asked, leaning closer to check Archie’s expression. Archie nodded.

    The two fell into silence once more, both unsure what to say. They continued to watch each other warily. Finally Archie found himself smiling shyly and Horatio mirrored it.

    "I..." Archie started and then stopped. "I would still like you to sleep beside me. If you..." His face was burning and he was terrified that Horatio wouldn't want anything to do with him. Simpson had told him as much. That once anyone knew what he had done, then they would never want to touch him again.

    Horatio nodded and pulled back the covers to slide in beside Archie. The bed was almost too narrow and Archie suddenly felt very conscious of their position. He shifted uncomfortably, wishing he didn't feel like such a fool.

    A few seconds later, though, Horatio reached out and drew him close against his side. Archie's head nestled against the hollow of Horatio's throat and he sighed with relief. He buried his face in Horatio’s shirt, inhaling deeply and taking comfort from the familiar scent. He hadn’t noticed how badly he missed the smell of cologne until Horatio brought it into his world again.

    Horatio rubbed his hand slowly over the bare flesh of Archie’s lower arm where the sleeve had rucked up as if calming a frightened animal. Then he wrapped his arm around Archie’s waist to pull him closer.

    "You are trembling," Horatio murmured, his lips brushing against the top of Archie’s head.

    "I'm sorry, it's just…” Archie trailed off and then took a shuddery breath. “I am frightened,” he mumbled, feeling ashamed for how weak and pathetic he must have looked to someone like Horatio.

    There was nothing but quiet for a few moments. Horatio held him tighter.

    Horatio gave a small, worried sigh. "I do wish that I could take those thoughts from your head, Archie. I don't know what Simpson did to you, but I can guess."

    Archie started. "How did you know?" The question seemed too loud for the moonlit room. Archie's heart hammered in his chest and he suddenly wanted to run even though, with the locked door of the jail there was really nowhere to run too. Horatio said nothing, just held him closer and reached out to stroke his hair.

    "I might have been a naive midshipman when I started," Horatio said softly, "but I saw the way he looked at you. Saw the fear in your eyes and Clayton’s. I thought it was merely the threat of violence or whatever secrets he apparently held. It wasn't until after he was dead and you were gone that I found out the truth. That there are more ways to put fear into men's hearts than through simple bare knuckled violence or the threat of a flogging."

    Archie's face was suddenly wet and he realised that he'd started crying. He let out a small, muffled sob and Horatio lifted himself up slightly. "Come, come," he said quietly. "I do not think less of you. Only that Simpson was far more of a monster than even I had guessed."

    "I didn't think you'd want me," Archie managed. "I didn't think anyone would after what-"

    Horatio sighed. "I need you, Archie Kennedy. You are the reason I survived those horrid first months. After I lost you in that battle, I felt adrift. Finding you here has been-" Hornblower paused and sighed contentedly. "It has been like finding home again."

    "Home?" Archie asked stupidly and realized the implications of the word. But then he thought about the kiss they had shared, the way Horatio had touched his face and neck without hesitation. The way it had sent his insides twisting and turning and making him dizzy with desire. Even now.

    "Yes, Archie. Home. Wherever you may be now. Wherever you may end up next. You are the only thing that makes sense right now."

    And Archie believed him. Even though he was terrified. Terrified he would somehow screw up tomorrow morning and ruin everything

    “Sleep,” Hornblower said with a certain air of finality. “Maybe tomorrow we’ll talk more about our future.”

    Archie’s brows knitted slightly at the word ‘future’ and then relaxed again. He nestled against Horatio’s chest again and closed his eyes. Breathing in the smell of cinnamon and sea salt, he eventually fell asleep.

    *
    Fin
     
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  4. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 28, 2007
    I'm very relieved that Archie receives care and concern from Horatio. Their future appears brighter! And no, I've not seen the miniseries, thanks for the rec. I've read about four of the books and seen the 1951 film. What a riproaring adventure from those years, as Sharpe would attest.[face_good_luck]
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2022