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Slash and Yaoi Fiction
Title: Sharing the Quarters
Author: Juxian Tang
E-mail: juxiantang@hotmail.com
Site: http://juxian.slashcity.net
Fandom: Hornblower, movies, Loyalty
Pairing: Bush/Cotard
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Can't live with him, can't live without him

SHARING THE QUARTERS

He watches it from under half-closed eyelids, quietly, pretending still to be asleep. In the pale light breaking through the tiny window he sees how Bush runs the comb through his hair several times, then gathers it in one hand and takes a narrow black ribbon in the other. He wraps it around quickly, efficiently. The movements are precise, repeated countless number of times. In the small mirror Cotard can see the thin mouth clamping on the loose end of the ribbon.

And now it is a tight, thin braid bound in the black strip of cloth almost to the end.

"That is a pathetic sight, this rat tail of yours," he says, his 'r' deliberately French.

Bush gives him a weary, cold look.

"Now is it some English idea of etiquette, not to answer when talked to?"

It finally gets to him, and Bush turns, his eyes blue and angry and his hands buttoning the jacket waver a little.

"Why don't you give it some rest, Cotard? You don't like me, all right, I got it. I don't like you either, and you're lounging around in *my* quarters. But I don't see what we can do about it. So would you mind shutting your mouth at last?"

"Allons dans les bois, ma mignonnette,
Allons dans les bois du Roi..." Cotard sings enthusiastically, his voice drowning Bush's words. Bush's face distorts in disgust.

"Frog," he whispers. "Why the hell don't you leave me alone?"

He walks out angrily, slamming the door shut behind him. Lying in his berth, Cotard stops singing and looks at the ceiling above him wistfully.

"If you were a girl," he says, "I would tug on your braids."

* * *

The walls are still swaying but at least it doesn't feel, at every blow of the waves, that the wood is ready to crush at any moment. The door opens, with a candle flame flickering in the draft, and Bush stumbles in, streams of water running from his pea-coat.

Cotard watches how he takes it off and lets it fall on the floor listlessly. Bush's wet pale face looks blank with tiredness and for a short while he just freezes, as if forgetting what he was going to do.

Then he raises his hand, in a lost, uncertain gesture, and pulls the ribbon from his wet, dripping hair. It catches, and he curses softly, his hand dropping like a dead weight.

And Cotard gets from under the blanket and comes up, meeting the stare of the wary, tired eyes, and says, reaching for the comb.

"Let me."

THE END

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