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If I like a thing, I like it, that's enough

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Another month on land and Tozer has begun to wonder whether he might ever get any closer to the sea than the shore. In fact, he appears to be moving away from it. 

Tonight’s duty has taken him up to Admiralty House, where the Commissioner in Chief is hosting a grand dinner - grand enough, at least, to warrant twenty more marines than usual. There aren’t any real security concerns, and by the way they have been positioned Tozer suspects that they are purely for display. While he isn't the sort to grouse about a change of scenery, he can’t help thinking he'd happily swap places with one of the lads on guard by the docks, where at the very least there must be a pleasant breeze coming in off the ocean.

It's a blazing August evening, and he's itching under his collar. He's on a late watch and though the sun went down hours ago the heat from the day still rises from the baked earth and hangs thick and heavy in the black air. The Commissioner has had marines out watering the lawn twice a day all week to keep it green for tonight's festivities, but it was all for nothing; the grass is brittle and yellow.

The house is positioned a street back from the dockyard, at the top of a steep incline, and from where he is stationed in the porch of the great house Tozer can just make out the sea between the rooftops ahead, shining like plate metal in the moonlight. At home they used to call the August full moon the barley moon - good for beer drinking. Solomon wouldn’t mind a cup of something now, he’s parched, and has been standing with his back as rigid as a post for hours. 

The guests are all inside, the muffled sound of the band’s playing drifts through the windows - something cheerful with fancy fiddle-work. When he is relieved for the evening Tozer has a notion he'll chance a look through the tall wide windows and see the dancing. 

They all looked so fine as they arrived, strolling up the driveway arm in arm. The ladies wore bright dresses with wide skirts in every colour, dotting the dried up lawn like a garden of pansies. The officers' dark stiff dress uniforms glinted with gold braid, buttons and boots polished to a high shine, their trousers sharply pressed.

It must be even warmer inside than it is in out here, Tozer thinks. The ladies will all be batting their fans, perhaps they’ve removed their shawls. The gentlemen - the officers - their uniform is heavier than his, they must get very overheated. 

The kitchen served ices after dinner, he watched the footmen pulling up huge frozen blocks from the ice house at the end of the garden. The kitchen maid overseeing it winked at him on her way up the gravel path. She’s caught his eye a few times this week, and he reckons if he passes by the back door on his way out through the stables he might catch sight of her again. 

He thinks on that to pass the time. She’s fair haired with big eyes and a broad mouth - quite plain, but the wink earlier was very promising. In Solomon’s experience, girls in service fall into two camps - the mousy sort, who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, or saucepots who’ll flirt with any man who gives them a second glance, be he an admiral or a chimney sweep. There is nothing wrong with either type, but Tozer finds that his tastes will list in one direction or the other, depending on the day. This summer heat has made him lazy and a rascalish girl who knows what she wants might be just the thing. 

The passing hours are marked by the deep hollow chime of the grandfather clock which stands just inside the entrance hall, and the noise from the banquet grows more raucous as midnight approaches. They cheer as the strings play faster, the piano clangs, and he thinks he can hear the pummelling thud of the officers’ boots on the ballroom floor.

His watch ends at one o’clock, when a yawning private comes to relieve him - he's a fresh recruit and Tozer presumes he must have done something to earn the middle watch, so he doesn't stop to pass the time. He nods and walks briskly around the back of the house, through an avenue of tall potted conifers and then down a dark narrow alley towards the stables. In the shadows, when he's sure no one can see him, he slows down, rolls his aching shoulders and cracks his neck. 

Straightening once more, he enters a square cobbled yard where the light from the open kitchen door casts a long golden rectangle across the black night.

Steam billows from the kitchen door, the small windows and pipes in the slate roof. The air is thick with the leftover smells of the banquet and the sweat that went into it; cloying lard and roasted mutton, fish guts and dark rich gravy, the reek of pigs blood mingling with the sweetness of fresh baked bread.

And there she is, the kitchen maid, still in her apron and cap, passing by the open door. She catches sight of him as he moves across the lit pathway, and lingers a moment in the threshold, wiping her hands on her apron. 

"Evening," he nods and touches his brow to test the water.  

"Good evening," she smiles back, leaning in the doorway, one hand on her hip, "I reckon your night's been almost long as mine."

Tozer chuckles - it reads as an invitation to him, so he comes up a little closer. "They sound like they'll be going a few hours yet." He jerks his head in the direction of the noise.

"Oh yes,” she nods sagely, “they're having a fine time - drunk as lords, they are.” 

She’s very red in the face, her fine flaxen hair has fallen out of its bun and sticks to her forehead and temples. He rather likes that, it gives her a lively look, as if she’s just come in from dancing too.

She catches him looking and fans herself with her hand, “dreadful warm tonight, isn’t it? Like the black hole of Calcutta in here with that bloody range going all day - cast iron, you know.”

“Fancy that,” Tozer nods, “will you be working much longer, do you think?”

“‘Till Cook lets us off,” she rolls her eyes, “here, I just had ice cream, have you ever? I could fetch you some if you fancy a lick?"

"Wouldn't put you out."

"Oh go on," she grins, "or the scullery maid will have it, and she's a right bitch." 

She vanishes from the doorway before he can reply, and Tozer glances quickly about the dark yard in case anyone might be eavesdropping. All is perfectly still, the noise of the party seems far away, and everyone is busy either at their work or making merry.

The maid returns with a small glass dish and a spoon. He has to come even closer to accept it. It has melted almost to custard, but the cold weight is pleasant against his damp palms.

“My mother said I wasn’t to talk to sailors, when I took the appointment here.”

“I’m a Royal Marine.”

“You go to sea, don’t you?”

“When I get a chance,” he snorts. 

“That’s enough for my mum,” she sniffs primly, tidying her hair back under her cap. He wishes she wouldn’t, it’s lovely like that, catching the light.  

The ice cream is cold and sweet and he finishes it quickly, scraping the glass with the tiny silver spoon. He licks his lips, handing it back.

“Thank you.”

“Nice, isn’t it? I made it myself.”

“Well then, it's very nice.”

“They could have it every day if they wanted,” she nods back at the house, “I would, if I were the wife of a gentleman. I’d have ice cream for breakfast. Or a posset. Or a syllabub.”

“You’ve a sweet tooth.”

“I have,” she nods. Her hair slips out again, and he thinks how pretty her lips are, she wets them as she speaks, as if there's sugar on them. “Cook says I’ll get ever so fat and no man shall have me. Do you think that’s true?”

“Nah,” he shakes his head sincerely, "I always hold with having a thing if you fancy it."

She beams at him, pure sunshine, he sees that her eyes are almost green. “That’s what I reckon,” she says eagerly, “I reckon--”

"--- HO ho and up she riii-iises…"

They are interrupted suddenly by loud footsteps and a man’s drunken singing echoing through the dark alleyway Tozer just came through. 

“Oh here we go,” the kitchen maid gives a sigh. 

Two young officers enter the courtyard, both staggering, though one considerably more than the other. He is also the one singing, “ho ho and up she rises, ho ho and up she rises…" he cackles with laughter.

Tozer considers withdrawing - if they have come in search of the same thing as him, then he has learnt it is better to relinquish ground to his superiors. If they have come in search of almost anything else, then he’s just as well to scarper; it’s likely they won’t want him to see them. 

“Sing it with me!” The drunkest of the pair entreats his comrade, who appears to be holding him upright at the waist. 

“Hush, you’ll wake the neighbours.”

Ho ho , and up she rises, early in the morn-ing… I say, where are we?”

“Outside, you said you were feeling a bit liverish.”

“Knave! I am fit as a fiddle, take me back in and I shall dance you off the floor, sir!”

“Oh for heaven's sake…” 

The drunk man unmoors himself from his friend and in an attempt to prove his sure footedness takes off rapidly across the courtyard like a spinning top, coattails flying and hat toppling to the ground with a soft thud. 

Tozer can almost see it happen before it does - one turn of the ankle and the drunk lieutenant trips on his hat and tumbles over with a surprised yelp. 

“You know, Jas,” he groans, head lolling between his shoulders as he clambers onto all fours to pick himself up, “perhaps I am a touch squiffy--” and promptly spews all over the cobblestones. Tozer winces, and hears the kitchen maid tut over the sickly wet splatter.

"Well, I like that very much." The upright, more sober lieutenant says, removing his hat and tucking it under his arm as he strides towards his woebegone friend, stepping into the yellow light from the doorway as he does, all the gilded parts of him glowing soft as candlelight.

"Shall I fetch someone, sir?" The kitchen maid calls out to them, still holding Tozer's empty ice cream dish.

The lieutenant looks up, squinting a bit in the brightness, apparently having not noticed them until now. 

"Ah," he says jovially, "no, no need, thank you. I shall just take him back to his rooms, he's been in a worse state than this before, I can tell you."

There is something familiar in the timbre of his voice; deep and amiable, contrived to charm. “Come on now,” he bends to grip his companion under the elbow to hoist him to his feet, “up she rises, eh?”

The drunk man staggers upwards for a moment, but quickly collapses again, his lean legs folding beneath him in the loose-jointed manner of the extremely intoxicated. This time he almost brings the taller lieutenant down with him. The man straightens again, huffing, tossing his hair out of his eyes and turns to address the doorway once more.

“You there, marine!” He calls out.

Tozer stands at attention, instantly regretting not slipping out when he had the opportunity. “Sir.”

“Be a brick, come here, would you?”

Solomon spares a final glance at the kitchen maid, who returns a look of resigned disappointment before retreating back into the yellow haze of the kitchen. He crosses to the two officers with a fair bit of resentment. Wasn’t that always the way?

“There now Henry, we’ll have you home in no time,” the man with the deep voice is saying, crouching once more to heave the other man to his feet. Tozer dutifully follows suit, taking the drunk’s other elbow, trying to avoid stepping the puddle of puke. 

“Home? Home you say?” The drunk man warbles as they bring him to rights, “perish the thought, Jas! I’ve an appointment to keep with a lady!”

“I’m sure the brothels will still be there tomorrow, dear,” his friend replies, now aiming to march the drunkard away from the big house, towards the back gate which is generally for the servants’ use. “You’ve had rather enough of a good time tonight, eh?”

“Not a bit of it!” The man roars, writhing so that Tozer has to tighten his grip or else let him fall again. The gold on his uniform makes a jingling noise like the little bells on a gypsy pony, the braids of his epaulettes bounce at his shoulders. “The night is still young, take me to my darling Annie!”

“Not Big Annie?” Tozer says, surprised. 

He has found time to become acquainted with the lady himself in the past month, and though of course her profession is no secret to any man in Portsmouth, he always feels put on the back foot when he hears he has shared a woman. A man can’t help but wonder how he measures up, so to speak.

“Ruffian! You dare to speak her name!” The drunk man slurs, trying to squirm loose again, waving an admonishing finger at Tozer.

“Oh calm down you damned fool,” the other man chides, an arm around his waist, pulling him firmly. Obviously too firmly, because the jolt causes the drunkard to pitch forward again and retch, bringing up what must surely be the last of the champagne and ice cream. 

The tall lieutenant pats his friend briskly on the back. “There, there.”

He finally looks up to meet Tozer’s eye over his friend’s bent frame. The recognition is instant on both sides, and Tozer almost drops the spewing man altogether. It’s his lieutenant, the one he met in July. The long features and clear dark eyes are unmistakable. His hair is not curled as prettily as it had been that evening on the dockside, nor is there rouge on his cheeks, but Solomon isn't so much of a rake that he cannot remember the face of someone he has coupled with, especially when the sport had been so good. 

The part of Tozer’s character which is more a man than a marine, and doesn’t set so much store by rank wants to wink and say ‘not in your skirts tonight, sir?’ but judging by the look of alarm the lieutenant is giving him, he may not find it particularly amusing. Solomon feels a twinge of guilt which is as unfamiliar to him as it is uncomfortable. 

It is a surprise to meet again like this, to be sure, but he doesn’t think it worth any embarrassment. It wasn’t as if he’d been under any illusions that night; he’d known very well it was an officer he was dealing with, in stays or braces, and neither of them had put on any superior airs. Hoping to ease whatever is causing the tension, he glances down at the drunk man, who has finished unburdening himself and resumed groaning.

“Looks like it was quite a party.”

“I should say so,” the man replies, a little hoarsely. He looks away too and pats his friend on the back once more, “all clear, Dundy?”

“I think I should like to go home, you know,” comes the weak reply.

“Good man,” they right him once more. “Will you help me get him to our lodgings?” The lieutenant asks Tozer, seeming to have recovered from his shock. “It isn’t awfully far, half a mile perhaps.”

Half a mile! That might take an hour, the way they must advance so slowly, swaying this way and that to keep balance, like three men in a sack race. They finally reach the gate and have to stop again for what turns out to be a bout of hiccups.

"Perhaps you could hail a cab?” Tozer suggests, “There are enough of them at the front of the house this evening."

"Couldn't possibly,” the lieutenant shakes his head again, “I haven't so much as a brass farthing, have you?"

"No." Tozer grumbled. "Only I had just come off duty, you see, and will be expected." 

"As I said, it isn't far, we'll be there soon enough."

Tozer knows he has very little choice when it comes down to it. Drunk or sober, both men outrank him. He only hopes his captain will be understanding when he finally gets back to the barracks long past his curfew. 

The lieutenant must see his hesitation, he implores him again, “Look here, I’ll see to it you don’t get in any trouble, you have my word.”

Tozer frowns. He is tired and too hot, he’s grown thirsty again and the sweetness of the ice cream is claggy in the back of his throat. The lieutenant misreads his reluctance this time, “the girl will still be there tomorrow evening, Sergeant,” he says, impatiently. 

Tozer blinks at the abruptness in his tone, and returns it, “with due respect, sir, I am thinking only of my duty to my commanding officers.”

The drunk man is somewhat revived by now, and takes umbrage, once again swinging at Tozer, who has to reel back while still holding him up.

“Brigand!” the drunk raises an aimless arm, “do you know who this is ?!” He tightens his stranglehold on the other. 

Tozer looks at them both, knowing himself defeated, “I’m sure I don’t,” he confesses.

“This, this is--”

“Dundy, please--”

“--this is my very dearest friend! And I’ll thank you to show him some manners!”

“Honestly,” the lieutenant sighs, though there is an indulgent smile on his voice, “you are being more ridiculous than usual. Leave the poor sergeant alone, he’s only trying to help.”

After that they begin to gain some momentum, or at least the drunk man - apparently called Lieutenant Dundy, which is not the most ridiculous name Tozer has ever heard - manages to get his feet moving at a more regular pace, and Tozer and his lieutenant are able to fall into step with each other. The streets are mostly quiet, only a few inns and alehouses still trading, and most of the business further down by the dockside. It’s late enough that they have the pavements to themselves, which is a blessing, because their progress is meandering and lopsided. 

"I say, what fine chaps you both are, eh?” Dundy bellows as they turn onto Queen Street, “shall we have a song, boys?"

"No!" Tozer and the lieutenant both hiss. 

The street the lieutenants’ boarding house is on is quiet and empty, the lanterns are lit and the shutters closed up. The houses here are tall and narrow, with long windows and regimented front doors painted deep emerald, royal blue and bold scarlet. 

Their door is green, and has been left on the latch, thank goodness - they need not summon a stern faced landlady to let them in. By now Lt Dundy is able to walk under his own power, and so getting him up the front steps is made somewhat easier. Tozer thinks for a moment his job might be done, but he is duly informed that there are two flights of stairs yet to navigate, and so of course he must offer to help with that too. 

Though the house seems very grand to Solomon from the outside, when they step through into the hall he can already smell the rising damp. The flowery pink wallpaper is peeling at the skirting boards and has turned yellow in places - what’s more, the staircase is perilously steep and uneven, creaking reprovingly under their combined weight.

By the time they reach the second landing Tozer is panting with the effort and the summer heat which wafts up through the house, windows all locked tight against burglars making the air thick and stifling. The weight of Lt Dundy, who leans heavily against Tozer like a sack of potatoes, is causing him to sweat through his uniform, he can feel it sticking to his skin. The lieutenant holding up the drunk's other side is breathing harder too, muttering admonishments to his friend with increasingly short temper the further they ascend.

Finally they reach the third and topmost floor of the house, and the lieutenant guides them to a door which is already sitting ajar. Inside, Tozer sees that there would be very little to interest a burglar here. The room is large, with a sloping ceiling and a square window. The window has pale blue frilled curtains which could do with a wash, the air reeks of smoke from the sooty little fireplace, and the walls are papered with those same ugly pink flowers. Besides these sorry features there is very little; a bed, neatly made, a hatstand with three coats on it and a seaman’s trunk. Piled upon the trunk are three books, a candlestick, a bottle of claret, a chunk of hard cheese and a jar of what looks like marmalade.

“Here we are then, into bed,” the lieutenant is saying as the three of them careen towards the narrow bunk and he and Tozer toss their troublesome burden unceremoniously forward. He lands on his face with a moan, and they both step away sharply, still gasping for breath. 

Tozer is burning hot, he’d like to open the window and let some air into this stagnant little room. Lt Dundy curls up on his bed and begins to snore.

The lieutenant lights the candle from the trunk and raises it. Their eyes meet again, and Tozer is reminded how handsome he his. He’s buttoned up tight this evening, looking the very pink of naval manhood. He carries off the uniform just as well as the silk skirts, and Tozer feels a faint stir in his nether regions when he recalls how intimately he knows the hidden parts of this fine officer; the flash of his throat, the sweeping line of his collarbone, the ardent heat between his legs.

“Oh dear,” the lieutenant says, looking at Tozer’s coat. “He must have had something in his pocket…”

Tozer looks down and is startled to see that the stickiness he’d thought was sweat is actually what appears to be black treacle. 

“Christ,” he mutters, touching his fingertips to the dark wet stain on his red uniform. Failing to report after duty, and now having an untidy uniform. Solomon is beginning to reach the end of his tether; hot, exhausted and now covered in treacle, he begins to envision his future guarding prison hulks -  if he ever sees active service again.  

“I’m dreadfully sorry,” the lieutenant looks sincere enough, his face is a bit softer - though that might be the candlelight. “I shall pay to have it cleaned.”

“How will you,” Tozer challenges, “when you’ve not enough for a cab?”

“Ah, well…” the officer casts around, clearly at a loss.

Tozer sighs. It wouldn’t matter even if either of them had the cash - they’re hardly going to find a washer woman at this hour.  “Have you some soap and water?” he tries, “perhaps I can get the worst of it off.”

“Yes!” The officer’s eyes brightened, “of course, follow me.”

He leads Tozer out of the room, closing the door behind them, then through to the next one along. The door to this chamber was already shut, but not locked, though there is about as much worth stealing inside. Same curtains, wallpaper, bed and trunk. There is nothing on the trunk except a lamp, which the officer goes to light. Beside the bed is a small writing desk piled with papers, charts and ink pots. 

The room fills with warm light from the oil lamp, and much to Tozer’s relief the officer’s next port of call is the window, which he swings open. The night air is cooler up on the third floor, and between the rooftops and chimney stacks Tozer can see the sea in the distance, which is always a reassuring sight to him. 

The officer sets aside the lamp on the mantle over the fire, then goes to open his trunk and withdraws a basin. He has a jug of water by the bed, and begins to set up a washing station on his desk, performing every action with neat economical grace. His own uniform remains immaculate, Tozer notices.

"Give me your coat," he holds his arm out. 

Tozer begins to unbutton, "I can do it myself," he says. 

"No," the lieutenant shakes his head, "you were such a good sport helping me, the least I can do is send you off looking presentable." He fans his fingers in the air, reaching for the coat. Tozer gives it to him.

He takes it to the basin and begins to scrub at the stain with a wet nail brush and some soap with short brisk strokes, and Tozer, with nothing to do but wait goes to look out of the window again. In just his shirt and braces he can feel the benefit of the breeze. He breathes in the night, looking up at the dark sky. The moon is still glowing down merrily, but the surrounding blue is thinning out, the stars melting away - dawn must not be far off. Solomon’s shoulders finally relax, he feels at ease for the first time since his shift ended. This is a pleasant room, he thinks.

"I truly am sorry," the lieutenant says, still scrubbing behind him. The bedsprings creak and Tozer turns to see he has sat down, the red jacket pulled taut over his thigh. He doesn't look up, focused on his work, it's almost clean now. "I could write you a letter explaining why you didn't report back," he says, head bent, "or - or perhaps I could go with you to speak to your captain?"

Tozer smiles to himself, turning back to the window as he wonders which of those would be more humiliating. "Won't be necessary, sir," he says.

He tries to see if he can tell which building is Admiralty House from here. Has the fair haired maid finished her work? Is she undressing for bed? He holds back a sigh. He hadn't really expected much to come of it, but he had been enjoying the game. He likes the idea of exploring something he hasn’t before. He stretches unconsciously, clasping his hands behind his head and straining his shoulders, arching his back to wring out the restless tension.

"There," the officer says, and Tozer hears him shaking out the coat. He turns again, lowering his arms. The officer is looking at him, his head tilted. Tozer looks back. 

“You might give it a moment to dry,” the lieutenant puts the jacket aside, getting up, “what about a nightcap? I’ve some gin here...” he lifts the lid of his trunk, rifling inside.

“I wouldn’t put you out,” Tozer replies, leaving the window to join him.

“Not at all,” the officer surfaces clutching a bottle of gin and two crystal tumblers. When Tozer sees those he begins to wonder what else the officer has in mind. “What kind of gentleman would I be, eh?” He tosses his hair out of his eyes again and hands over a glass.

Solomon accepts it with renewed interest, taking a second opportunity to regard the young lieutenant, still so smart in his rigid blue coat. He's watching Solomon back as he uncorks the bottle with his teeth and pours out two fingers. It’s a bold and rakish look quite different from the dipped chin and shy countenance he exhibited last time they met. He makes himself quite clear; he wants something. The shape may be different, but the man is the same. 

Tozer isn't used to being looked at like that, not by men, and not by officers. It is a curious feeling, but he is not unreceptive to it. The hue of the room has changed now, they both know it.  

“A willing foe and sea room, eh?” The officer smiles, raising his glass to touch the rim of Tozer’s. 

“It’s past midnight," Tozer corrects him, "wives and sweethearts.”

“Ah.” He nods, and swallows his drink without adding the response. Tozer recognises the moment for what it is. He licks his lips and downs his own.

“You’ve a nice view out there. Clear to the sea.” Tozer comments.

“Bloody dreadful being on land all summer,” the lieutenant says, pouring them both another measure.

“Aye,” Tozer agrees ruefully. “Is that what’s driven your friend to drink?”

“Very droll,” the lieutenant scoffs, “and not far off the mark,” they clink glasses again. The officer only sips his, and sets it down over the unlit fireplace to remove his jacket. He wears a cream waistcoat underneath, satin at the back. His shirt sleeves are crisp and white. He catches Tozer looking, and quirks an eyebrow. “No petticoats this evening,” he says dryly.

Solomon smiles, glad that their prior meeting has been acknowledged at last. “A very fine figure, nonetheless,” he says. 

The arched eyebrow pulls higher, “you are a singular man, aren’t you?”

“I wouldn’t know, sir.”

“More gin?” 

“I’d better not,” he puts down the glass. Now he knows what’s on the cards, he’d like to get started. Solomon doesn’t hold with putting anything off when two parties are in agreement. 

He eyes the officer to let him know, “there’s no need to talk me around, lieutenant.” 

Something flashes in the young lieutenant’s gaze, a hint of the coquettish miss he played at last time. They both advance at the same moment and meet with a kiss. The lieutenant is more insistent than before, Solomon supposes because they are in his own rooms. His large hands roam freely over Solomon’s waist, his back, his chest. Tozer takes unexpected delight in being handled so, feeling wholly desired and entirely given to it. 

Without the flurry of silk between them this time their bodies meet at different angles, enjoyment builds in new and unexplored quarters. Making a noise deep in his throat the officer slips his hand down the back of Tozer's trousers. His fingers dig into his arse cheek but Solomon feels it in his prick. He realigns his hips against the lieutenant's thigh, needing a more deliberate pressure now, and as he does he feels the officer’s long finger searching, pressing him open and stroking with a clear suggestion. It’s a queer feeling, almost dangerous. Tozer breaks away, gasping. So that’s what he’s about.

"Yes?" The officer asks, squeezing again. His eyes are full of wicked daring.

"...yes," Tozer replies, giddy and more keen on the idea than he expected to be. 

He’s done it arseways before - it’s a coarse act, filthier somehow than the other, but it was the expected fashion when he was a fresh recruit. He had almost always been drunk on such occasions - they tell you it’s easier that way. In Solomon’s opinion, a cock up your arse was not always worth the trouble; you were taking more than one kind of risk letting a man have at you. Men are generally inclined to take their pleasure on their own terms without many other considerations. 

Still, there had been times he’d been able to lean into it and enjoy the change of perspective. Provided his partner wasn’t too much of a brute, he’d generally found it satisfying, after a bit of manoeuvering. Solomon prides himself in being game for anything.

The lieutenant is still grasping him and pressing his erection against Solomon’s through their trousers. Tozer remembers how the thick heft of him felt in his hand, and imagines it cleaving him in such a secret, forgotten place. His own prick leaps. 

Well. If Solomon fancies a thing, then he fancies it. 

“Yes,” he says again, between kisses, “go on then.”    

“Bed,” the officer says, and Tozer obeys, pulling off his braces in anticipation, writhing on the sagging mattress to get his trousers down. The lieutenant lays down beside him - he need only unbutton the front of his drawers, and that thought sends Solomon’s head spinning. 

He reaches to continue their kissing, but the lieutenant presses a hand to his chest and rolls away to reach under the mattress first. He turns back holding a small blue glass jar. 

Tozer looks at it blankly, and the officer frowns, "To - ah - for your comfort."

"Oh!" Tozer blinks. Toffs, they think of everything. 

“Here,” the lieutenant kisses him again.

Solomon closes his eyes and hears the jar unscrewed, and then a wet squelch which makes his neck flush with heat. The jar discarded, the officer takes him in his arms again, kissing his neck and shoulder, one hand in his hair, fingers stroking small circles against his scalp, while the other slides down his back and begins making inroads into Tozer's most private parts. It’s all suddenly shockingly slick, the sensation roars through his nerves and he is breached with barely any effort at all.

He grasps the officer back, kissing him hard and slipping a hand inside his trousers, stroking his length for something to occupy him as he is so carefully charted, each new inch making his whole spine quiver.

With two of the lieutenant’s fingers deep inside him Tozer moans like an innocent, like he has never been touched before. Perhaps he hasn't, for he never knew a feeling quite like it. Every twist and thrust of the lieutenant's wrist and knuckles has him teetering. Christ . He could spend just like this - but, he thinks, in for a penny, in for a pound.

He reaches back to grasp the officer's wrist and still his movements, "You'd better stop," he pants, "if you want to--"

The officer grins and withdraws his fingers, leaving Tozer with a sudden fiery ache.

They move quickly, Tozer scrambles onto his knees, his prick so hard it bobs against his belly, leaving a wet trail on his skin. The officer positions himself behind, Tozer hears him applying that strange grease to his own length and he has to bite his lip not to whimper.

He pierces him slowly, Tozer sighs with every inch as his body admits him further and further inside. He expects a sharpness that never comes, only a building heat and pressure which bruises as much as it satisfies. They both huff as they fit together, bodies crushed as close as they can be, and as the bedsprings creak beneath him Tozer thinks he's never had a poking like this. They soon find a rhythm; his lover rides into him with sure steady strokes, hands on Tozer’s shoulders, long fingers pressing lightly. Solomon pushes back with as much purpose as he is able to muster, but he is hopelessly out of his depth and clutches helplessly at the sheets, filled up beyond the point of bearing it, his pleasure almost intolerable as he is given a thorough seeing to. 

He feels his crisis rising in him like the dawn, in waves of colour which grow brighter and brighter, bursting into dazzling liquid silver. His movements begin to stutter loosely as he bounds towards it, but the lieutenant hooks his hands beneath his hips, stilling him and lifting him even closer, a thunderous drag through Solomon’s most intimate parts, 

“There now,” the officer gasps, leaning forward to breathe against Tozer’s neck, “together, eh?”

Tozer keens, desperate and incoherent, as the officer reaches to circle his cock, squeezing it hard while he drives at a new angle which finds the very edge of Tozer’s endurance. He spends - the queerest sensation which draws all of him tight then floods his belly with lightning, sending every muscle twitching. The lieutenant lets out a fierce groan, squeezing him once more, and Solomon’s knees and arms give way, he shuts his eyes so hard he sees stars and falls forward. 

They lie panting like that for long drunk seconds. Solomon could lie there for a hundred years, he thinks. He’s never been fucked like that before; when the officer pulls away and gets up he feels so tender he could weep. He rolls over, muscles singing and boneless limbs heavy.

“It’s still damp,” the lieutenant says, standing at the end of the bed and lifting Tozer’s red coat. The room is turning pale pink as the begins to rise in the little square window. It is soft and fiery, and lends his lieutenant’s skin the colour of honey, his eyes warm mahogany. 

“Will it need more time, do you think?” Tozer asks, sitting up on his elbows. 

The officer hangs the coat on the bed post and begins to unbutton his waistcoat, then his trousers, “I should think so,” he says, sincerely, reaching down to pull off his boots, next. “Another hour, if you can spare it.”

“I am already in a world of trouble with my captain,” Tozer says, watching him undress. He kicks off his own boots like a lout, letting them hit the floor with two heavy thuds. “What’s another hour?”