Title: Few Words Suffice
Summary: The boys have a night out after the Renown. LKU
Disclaimer: Hornblower belongs to A&E and the Forrester estate.
A/N: Thank you to Fiat Incantatum for betaing:) Merry Christmas, Siria:) There will be a Archie-centric sequel to this in the future.
The three of them were very drunk, or so Archie's new friend, the floor, told him. William's drunken laughter at his fall came from somewhere above Archie's head, and was joined by Horatio's giddy laugh a few second later. Archie doubted Horatio even knew what he was laughing at. Bush eventually helped Archie up, patting him down helpfully, but ineffectually to check if he was injured. Archie suspected he'd bruised his arm in the fall, but he was too numb to feel anything, not even his still healing wound. The morning would tell, as would the sore head.
He shook his head. With Bush's help, he made his way unsteadily to the table. If he could still contemplate the next morning, then he obviously needed another drink. Luckily, a new round of drinks had appeared while he was in the bog. He gratefully sipped the new pint.
Across from him, Horatio was staring steadily into his mug, but he looked up when he felt Archie's gaze. Although he had been a lightweight when Archie first met him, Horatio held his liquor well these days. But no man could be expected to be sober after, well, many rounds of ale. Archie frowned. There had been some rum too, hadn't there?
Horatio's earlier laughter had abated and he looked serious now. He raised his mug. "To Captain Sawyer!" It was a sobering toast. Archie raised his drink, as did William.
"To Captain Sawyer," they both said, but Archie couldn't resist adding, "for having a reputation that kept his lowly lieutenants from harm." Horatio frowned at him, while William nodded in agreement – too far gone to reprove Archie for a comment to which he would usually have taken exception.
Archie drained his mug. Horatio could disapprove all he wanted, but he knew what Archie said was true. Had Sawyer been less respected, both the mutiny and the Captain's fall would have been made public. They could all have been hung. As it was, there had only been an enquiry about the revolt of the Spanish prisoners. Someone in the Admiralty had had the bright idea of forestalling it until both William and Archie were healed enough to testify. Horatio had been unofficially running the Renown during that time. Buckland's fears over how his conduct would reflect on his career had nearly crippled the man.
Poor Buckland. His fears had been realized. There had been no official reprimand, but it was doubtful the aging lieutenant would ever find a post again – not with a reputation for being caught napping. As it was, Sawyer's reputation was intact, and the three of them had been politely warned never to discuss the madness of the last few years again. Bush hardly noticed his wound now, and while Archie was in more pain, he was fit to move about and resume his duties. Buckland would retire if he was smart, and the Renown was expecting a new captain. Life hadn't looked so promising since those first days when they learnt of their posting to the Renown. Was it any wonder that they had decided to see how much of their prize money they could drink through in their weekend of leave?
Three more pints appeared on the table, and their empty mugs were skilfully gathered up. "Here you are, sirs. Would you be staying the night, and would you like some company?"
Archie blinked. Obviously, they were more direct here in Kingston than in England.
"What are your girls like here?" asked William, and Archie flushed as he realized that she hadn't been offering herself.
"They're well-fed and clean," assured the serving woman. Archie snorted at that. No one ever said their girls were poxed and ugly after all. William looked reading to negotiate, but, as always, it was Horatio who was the voice of reason.
"We already have rooms," he said.
"The serving woman shrugged. "That'll be the last round then, sirs. I'll be closing up for the night." Horatio and William looked so disappointed that Archie had to laugh.
"Come, gentlemen. I have a bottle of port back in my room," he said. Horatio and William were inclined to linger over their drinks, but they couldn't last forever. They paid, and made their way along the muggy streets towards their lodgings. The three of them were leaning heavily on each other, as they found the earth was treacherous underfoot.
"It's the earthquakes," said Horatio suddenly.
Archie was concentrating on his feet. They didn't want to place themselves where he directed them. "What?"
"The earthquakes, Archie. Jamaica is famous for them. They're making the ground move… and shake… and rollll...."
The argument would have been more convincing if Horatio hadn't been swaying as he said it.
"A three man earthquake," agreed William solemnly, before sharing a grin with Archie.
"Thank you, Mr. Bush." Horatio never noticed when someone was teasing him.
"Ack!" Archie started to fall, but they caught him, staggering a little.
"I consider you a friend, Mr. Kennedy, but if you force me to carry you back…" warned William.
"Never fear, William. If I fall, I intend to take you both with me!"
"I thought we jumped?" asked Horatio. Archie laughed.
"That we did, Mr. Hornblower. That we did."