Author's note: I always knew there was an amusing story behind this brief exchange, and here it is. Slash, Horatio/Archie. Oh yeah, and if I owned stuff, this would have happened in the film. Unfortunately I don't, so it didn't. Many thanks to iheartHSO and Demus for being there to bounce ideas off of. I'm going away (to Portsmouth! Woot!) in a couple days, so it'll be a while before I post the next chapter. Sorry! But reviewing will make it happen quicker.

Forgetfulness

Prologue:

"Ever do something and forget you did it?"

"All the time."

No, Horatio would not care to elucidate. Not a bat's chance in hell. And a good thing Archie hadn't heard the exchange, or he might have told Wellard more than Horatio wanted him to know. Or Bush, for that matter. Both of them saw Mr. Hornblower as firmly dedicated to his duty, a perfect example of propriety and gentlemanly behaviour. Wellard looked up to him as a role model, and he was slowly gaining Bush's respect. Neither of them knew anything that would be good material for blackmail, and Horatio intended to keep it that way, despite Archie and his big mouth. 'Scared of heights' indeed. However, he could not stop his mind from flickering back to that morning in Portsmouth, on their first shore leave after returning from prison in Spain. The night before, he and Archie had gotten very drunk indeed…

Chapter One: The Morning After

Horatio awoke with the formidable, scowling, parasol-wielding mother of all hangovers. Bright light beat against his eyelids, and he didn't even want to think about what would happen to his eyes were he to open them. They would probably shrivel to raisins and crawl away to the back of his skull to keep his pounding headache company. He didn't want to think, period.

Somehow he found the strength to moan and pull the pillow over his head. Unfortunately, this action drew unwanted attention from the other occupant of the room. Footsteps sounded across loudly creaking floorboards, and a solid form sat down on the edge of the bed, bouncing so that Horatio swore he could feel his brain knocking against the inside of his skull.

"Good morning, Horatio," Archie said, his voice mercifully low and soft. "This is a sorry sight."

Horatio's response was another groan.

"Come on," Archie urged, giving him a rather less merciful poke. Horatio tightened his hold on the pillow as Archie attempted to tug it away. "Rise and shine!" Archie's tone was quite definitely ruthless now, as well as being irritatingly cheerful. "Wake up and smell the flowers!"

"Bugger the flowers," Horatio croaked.

"I would, but I am afeared you would get jealous." Archie's chuckle sent lances of pain through Horatio's head, and, seeming to sense this, his next statement was kinder.

"How about wake up and smell the coffee?"

This got Horatio's attention.

"Coffee?"

"Good. I'll go get you some."

The weight on the bed lifted with a comforting pat to Horatio's shoulder, and a door opened and closed. After a few moments, and with the thought of coffee to sustain him, Horatio was able to open his eyes and sit up. He found himself in a small, unremarkable inn room, with a table and chair the only other furniture besides the bed. He frowned as he noticed his uniform in an untidy heap on the chair, but smiled when he realised that he was naked, and remembered why. Just then, Archie returned holding a steaming mug, which he handed to his friend. Where Archie had discovered the gem of information that Horatio liked his coffee scalding hot, black with no sugar, Horatio did not know, but he was exceedingly grateful. He returned Archie's warm smile as he lowered the mug from his lips.

"You're an angel, Archie," he informed him.

"Hardly." Archie's twinkling eyes took in Horatio's debauched state. "Honestly, Horatio," he continued, sitting down beside him again, "you look like you just climbed out of the oubliette in Ferrol."

Thankful that Archie was now able to joke about that terrible experience, Horatio replied wryly,

"I don't feel much better than I did then, I assure you."

Halfway through the mug, his headache was abating, and he was starting to feel almost human. It was then that Archie casually remarked,

"By the way, I don't suppose you remember what you did last night."

Horatio was confused.

"I got drunk, clearly."

Archie's smile was just a little bit wicked. He took the coffee away from Horatio, who relinquished it with a whimper of protest. He set it carefully on the floor, and without further ado, cupped Horatio's face in his hands and kissed him soundly. Horatio's brain gave up the feeble attempts it had made to think, and let him settle into the comfortable familiarity of kissing Archie, who pulled away as soon as Horatio started to respond.

"Wh…what?" Horatio asked, as intelligently as he could.

"That's what you did."

"Hm?"

"Last night. In the pub. You kissed me in front of…oh, say…several dozen other people."

A spark of recollection returned, and Horatio groaned.

"Oh, hell. Did I really?"

Archie nodded solemnly.

"But I…we…"

Archie thrust the mug into Horatio's hands again.

"Drink your coffee, Horatio," he ordered, "It will help keep your mind off the pain."

Horatio forced down another sip, but his mind was now relentlessly, though still muzzily, seeking answers.

"Did they notice?" he asked.

"Who?"

"The 'oh, say…several dozen other people'?"

"Oh, them. Yes, a few of them did anyway. They pointed and laughed and made disparaging comments about drunken sailors."

"But they didn't arrest us or anything?"

Archie gestured to the room, which was obviously not a jail cell.

"Of course not. You could scarcely stand, Horatio. They had no way of knowing that you would have done the same thing sober. Though not, I think, under the same circumstances."

"No, indeed I would not. In that situation, that is."

"So I merely removed your lips and hands from my person, stated the obvious to you in a stern voice—'You're drunk'—then settled our bill and hauled you upstairs. You may remember what happened next."

Horatio looked down at himself, still lying in bed naked.

"I can guess."

"That's good, because otherwise I'd have to give you a demonstration." Archie smiled invitingly.

Horatio, ever the cunning strategist, looked at him quizzically.

"Demonstration? Of what, Archie? I don't remember."

Archie rolled his eyes.

"I thought you were dying in agony."

"The coffee helped," Horatio replied, setting the now empty mug down on the floor and giving his Archie his most pleading, persuasive expression.

"Well, in that case…" Archie drew him closer for another kiss, and the rest of the morning was spent very agreeably.

Then came the infamous occasion when they 'drank Portsmouth dry' in celebration of being transferred to Captain Sawyer's command. Archie made the great mistake of getting too drunk to restrain Horatio, and things went downhill from there.

To be continued. Dant dant daa…