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Here is No Water

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„Sir, let me just – your collar,“ Tom says, and there is really nothing out of place with lieutenant Little's collar, but Tom's hands are already moving of their own accord and he cannot make himself stop.

As always, Little lets him, raises his chin to allow Tom to fuss at his neck, doesn't mention it if Tom's fingers brush against the soft skin of his throat more than is strictly necessary. His eyes are half closed and with the mop of dark hair falling over his eyes he reminds Tom of nothing so much as Neptune, the same doggish expression of patient, wordless gratitude.

Tom wonders where the lieutenant tucks it away in his mind, what story he tells himself to turn what passes between them into something ordinary, to let himself have that little kindness.

“All set, sir,” Tom says, and smiles brightly through the brittleness in his voice.