It’s late, closer to the morning than the midnight, the camp completely dead after 38 hours of non-stop meatball surgery.
Charles is barely alive himself but still wound up tight after three consecutive crises he had to deal with. That just doesn’t let go easily of him, the nervous tension, the mental strain. Nothing challenging, of course, nothing that would require all his skills, but the sheer amount of time he’s spent digging into human insides was demanding enough.
Lucky Hunnicutt. Charles would rather be on the post-op duty right now than try to ease his brain and body into a crap sleep.
He expects Pierce to be out like a light by the time he finishes with a shower and reaches the Swamp, but he’s wrong. The tent is dark, but Charles can still make out a silhouette on the cot, a tired and awry one, but awake.
“What’s keeping you up?” he asks almost reluctantly, his voice coming out softer that he’d like. But he’s really quite tired.
Pierce groans under his breath. “My back. Someone has replaced it with a plank of wood – a crooked one, too.”
Charles huffs. “Try some exercise, Pierce, I hear it helps.”
“Are you kidding? Blinking feels too vigorous right now. Do you have some morphine on you, by any chance?”
Having finished drying his hair, Charles stands by his own cot, hesitant to climb it and clearly too far gone to have a remotely sane idea.
“I do not. Another thing that could help you is a massage.”
Pierce snorts and tries to stretch, but only groans again in pain. “Don't tell me. You have a spare nurse in your pocket.”
“I do not have that either. I do have a pair of still operating hands.”
That makes Pierce pause, a miracle of miracles.
“Are you offering me a massage, Charles?” he asks eventually with incredulity.
“Either that or I’ll have to listen to your moaning for what’s left of this night. Are you taking my offer?”
There is another pause, even longer one.
“Alright. But don’t try anything. I’m not that kind of a girl.”
Charles snorts, crossing the tent and fortuitously avoiding all the rubbish on the flour. “You’re exactly that kind of a girl, Pierce. Now sit up and take your tee-shirt off.”
Pierce complies awkwardly. “Aren’t you quick, mister. My pants stay on, I warn you. Yours, too.”
Charles can’t help but smile at that obligatory warning. He’s not sure what’s more in it, a concern he might interpret something wrong or entirely too right.
“You shan’t worry, Pierce,” he says, rubbing his palms together as he kneels on the cot. “My interest in your backside is purely medical.”
“It’s enough that you’re interested in it at all,” Pierce grumps without a bite or his usual dubious wit, which must mean he’s really in a bad way.
It’s a not really comfortable pose for a massage, Pierce should lie down, but that would be too close to things starting to get interpreted, so Charles works with what he has. Hunched shoulders, an arch of a knobby spine, bony shoulder blades and taught muscle refusing to yield under his touch. He’d offer Pierce a drink but there’s definitely a few in him already.
“Spread your shoulders for me,” he asks a moment later, when his efforts meet no result. “You’re not cooperating.”
“That’s because I’m as flexible as a slab of concrete,” Pierce complains but complies, letting Charles dig into the bunch of knots on his back.
It goes better from then on, the task almost meditative and letting Charles’s clenched wrists work themselves loose with effort, the warmth that Pierce’s skin radiates seeping into his bones and joints.
“Hmmmm,” he hears after a while and smirks smugly, the deep, satisfied sound Pierce makes resonating sweetly through him. “Yeah, that’s… there…”
He’s almost relaxed now, Charles notes, rather relaxed himself, not as much kneading the muscle as stroking the skin, smooth and soft and glowing gently in the poor moonlight.
When Pierce makes that sound again, Charles can’t help but lean closer, into the warmth and such a sweet temptation of intimacy. He mustn’t think of that at all, but how can he not, deprived of it for so long and the subject of his untoward yearning so… Better not dwell on it.
Charles has almost enough brain cells left to declare his job done, but as he opens his mouth, Pierce sighs softly and leans back into Charles’s hands, making his breath hitch.
“Are you falling asleep?” he whispers, stroking his palms down Pierce’s back, pausing on his belt.
Pierce tilts his head backwards until it rests on Charles’s shoulder, the long stretch of his throat all exposed. Charles licks his lips involuntarily and then swallows, as a hot palm covers his knuckles. If it’s not an invitation then he doesn’t know what is.
He kisses the thin tender skin behind the ear first, a barest pressure of lips and a lick that makes Pierce gasp. He gives it another lick and more kisses, finding a throbbing vein to bite on gently as he slips his hands around Pierce’s waist and lower down. There’s another gasp when he reaches his destination – worn baggy shorts stretched over the hard flesh, so hot to the touch – it’ll be even hotter when Charles finally removes the tatty cloth covering it.
Pierce arches into him as he works one hand in, holding him secure with the other – he’s fully in Charles’s embrace now and in his mercy, languid, eager, so maddening no matter whether he’s talking or moaning.
“Be quiet,” Charles half-orders and half-begs. “By God, please, be quiet.”
Pierce decides to carry it out by finding Charles’s mouth and slipping his tongue into it, about which Charles can’t complain. He manages to push down Pierce’s pants and finally strokes his fingers up his length, marvelling the moment and the whine his venture causes.
“Lie down now,” he says between the kisses, dragging Pierce along with him and pressing their bodies flush together, his own clad erection fitting right between Pierce’s buttocks.
“Oh, take it off,” Pierce mumbles impatiently and helps to it, spreading his thighs just enough for Charles to slide in, the tip nudging right behind Pierce’s tight and heavy balls.
They both moan at that and move towards each other feverishly. Charles squeezes Pierce properly now, letting him fuck his fist and then slip back onto his cock, the motion curt but easy, both of them wet with arousal. They muffle their moans with more backwards kissing, desperate and messy.
“Close,” Charles warns a moment before he spills between Pierce’s thighs, breathless, biting hard into his nape, and a second later Pierce follows with a soft cry - or maybe a loud one, Charles can’t tell with the blood rushing in his ears.
In the following morning, they don’t quite look at each other.
The set of Pierce’s shoulders is easy and there’s no tiredness in his gait.
Charles feels like whistling frivolously.
In the mess tent, Pierce sits beside the unshaven yawning Hunnicutt, his smiles and dubious wits all back.
Charles sits opposite them, still not quite looking.
“How’s your back, Pierce?” he asks, allowing himself a glance.
“Very well, thank you,” he says, eyes twinkling. “You might check on it again later, though, just to be sure, doctor.”
“Oh, certainly,” Charles smiles, noting with pleasure Pierce is blushing. “I always make sure my patients get the best possible treatment.”