Blore sat heavily on his bed. Their little party was over, mostly due to his own outburst, and the four of them had made the short, tense journey back to their respective quarters.
He'd already come down from the high of it all--for the most part. He had been plunged back into cold, stark reality while still clutching Armstrong, nestled against one of the man's broad shoulders. How could he have gotten so careless? Allowed himself to get so close?
Still, things were soft around the edges; he knew he wasn't entirely sober yet and partly glad for it. When he found himself staring too long at the framed poem on his wall, it came into uncomfortable focus, and instantly he was back with Landor. Back in that damned holding cell, the sound of his own voice rattling off of the steel walls.
Instead, he let himself drift back into the haze at the corners of his mind, the booze and drug still lingering in his system, sinking into the feeling again like one would the shallow end of a pool.
Beads of now-cold sweat had collected at the small of his back, making him clammy. How the hell hadn't he notice until now?
Belatedly, he pulled his jumper up over his head and tossed it somewhere on the floor. He could still hear the heavy patter of rain outside, and for just a second, a flash of lightning illuminated the dismal bedroom.
He might as well try to sleep, he thought, even if he may not wake in the morning. There wasn't much else to do, and he'd probably been sitting and staring into nothingness for a good fifteen minutes now. How long until sunrise? he wondered, as if its rays would wash away their guilt and fear. Wash the island clean.
A creaking sound jolted him from his reverie, and he squinted in the low light, in the direction of the door. He heard something like a faint knock. Why? Would the killer forewarn Blore of his--or her--arrival?
Clutching the lit candlestick from his bedside table, for the light but mainly for the solid heft of it, he turned the knob. Armstrong was standing outside, breathing heavily and fidgeting with his hands.
With barely a glance for permission, he pushed past Blore into the room and shut the door behind himself.
"He's in her bedroom," Armstrong hissed. "It's them, I know it's them. They're in there together. Plotting our demise." He was frantic and wild eyed, and Blore irrationally wanted to comfort him, to touch him the way you calm a stupid, startled animal.
"It's possible," Blore said flatly. "That, or they're just having a shag."
Armstrong made a face--in Blore's off-kilter state it was almost funny--"Well that would prove it then!"
"Not necessarily," Blore countered, "They've been making eyes at each other the whole time we've been here. It's natural, innit? Propriety let loose an' all."
Armstrong's curls were out of place, sweaty and pushed askew. "Still, if they're in there together doing...God knows what, I think it's better that I was here. They can't catch one of us alone, off our guard."
Blore had the audacity to laugh in his face, bringing a familiar, angry flush to the doctor's cheeks.
"Who says I even trust you?" Blore spat. He knew it was cold blooded, but he didn't care. Maybe he didn't want to admit to himself that he did trust Armstrong, or at least some deep, sunken part of him wanted to. As far as he was concerned, they were nearly the same thing.
Armstrong moved even closer, straightening his back and drawing himself to his full height. His warm, drink-laced breath was tangible against Blore's cheek. "You seemed pretty comfortable with my hands on you downstairs," he said evenly.
Blore nearly choked on his own breath, but kept his eyes steadily on Armstrong's. He wanted to blame the powder, the liquor, anything--but he knew it would be useless now. How could Armstrong see something so neatly tucked away in the recesses of his psyche that Blore wouldn't so much as give a name to it?
Blore's eyes darted to the closed door, then back to Armstrong. He set down the candlestick on the side table. "Why the hell are you here? Really?"
Armstrong was still silently fidgeting with his hands. The man was a bundle of raw nerves, Blore had decided, as early as their first afternoon on Soldier Island, when they had sat and talked out on the veranda and Armstrong had lit Blore's cigarette with those same thick, trembling fingers. At first glance the doctor had seemed sturdy and solid and strong, but inside he was soft like a spoilt fruit, something that had gone over-ripe on the vine.
Like a peach, Blore's mind echoed treacherously.
His eyes sweeping downwards, he suddenly noticed the shape of an object in Armstrong's trouser pocket. He fished out the glass vial without permission, his fingers grazing a warm hip through the fabric for a split second, and held it up in the dim, glinting light.
"Something to poison me with?"
It's was Armstrong's turn to give one of his hysterical, flittering fits of laughter. The sound always gave Blore a funny, uneven sort of feeling, and this time was no exception.
"I'm not exactly sure how I could get you to ingests petroleum jelly. Besides, it certainly wouldn't kill you...might make you nauseous, though, I'd imagine."
Blore wanted to glare at him. Instead, his eyes went wide at the substance's implication.
Armstrong leaned in towards him, nosing at Blore's jaw and bringing his lips close to the delicate shell of his ear. "I'm here...because I want you to bugger me, you blasted idiot."
"Fuck," Blore muttered, unthinkingly. The admission brought on a rush of adrenaline so strong he could nearly smell blood, nearly taste the rust of it on his teeth.
That's all it took, and suddenly Armstrong's hand was on his waist, and his own hand was fisting Armstrong's shirt, pulling their mouths together in something messy and frenzied.
Neither of them had shaved in the last few days and Blore could certainly feel it; the scrape and burn of it was a welcome relief from feeling numb, feeling nothing. Armstrong wasn't shy in touching Blore's chest and arms, exploring the gaunt planes of them through his remaining clothes. In return, Blore let himself card his fingers through Armstrong's hair, the way he realized he'd been itching to, like a compulsion.
He pulled at the curls, much too sharply, and the groan Armstrong let out into his mouth was something so deviously satisfying it was almost worth the price of being lured to this godforsaken island.
Then Armstrong's shaking hands were at Blore's shirt buttons, nearly ripping them apart. Blore struggled not to drop the bottle, still clenched in his fingers.
Somehow they maneuvered towards the bed. Using all his strength, Blore twisted them around and pushed Armstrong away and down onto the rumpled sheets. It only worked because Armstrong had been so nearly limp in his arms, a strange reversal on their earlier, tepid slow dance.
When Armstrong gaped up at him, all lust and surprise and maybe even fear, Blore could only see Landor. For a flash of a second, the feel of bile threatened to squeeze up his throat, but just as quickly the memory and the phantom sensation subsided.
He all but slammed the vial of petroleum jelly down on the bedside table before descending on Armstrong, a deceptively lithe body pressing one much more solid into the mattress.
He mouthed at Armstrong's thick neck, some sort of instinct kicking in, as he felt large hands smoothing up and down his back and heard the reedy staccato of Armstrong's breath.
"Watchit," Blore grunted, when Armstrong gave his backside a firm squeeze.
"Not really much there, anyway," Armstrong giggled--there really wasn't another word for the sound of it.
Blore knew that Armstrong was just trying to wind him up, but anything he might have said in retort died on his tongue, as Armstrong shifted underneath him, better aligning their groins. Blore could feel a similar hardness against his own prick, somehow already at half mast despite how much he had to drink that night.
He rocked into the hot, growing friction between them--overwhelming but still not quite enough. Blore groaned, low and deep and raspy; the sound only subsided when Armstrong mashed their mouths back together.
It went on like that for a long moment, until Armstrong suddenly managed to shove him off, leaving them both on their sides, facing each other but still the wrong way lengthwise on the large bed.
"What are you-" Blore muttered, sounding punch drunk to his own ears. Before he could finish the thought, Armstrong's fingers went to the fly of his trousers, deftly popping the buttons and working Blore's prick out from the fabric confines.
It hadn't been particularly long since he had done this for himself, but as Armstrong stroked him he realized how painfully long it'd been since he's had another's hand on him, let alone one who knew how to do this so well. His jaw dropped open without a sound, his knuckles going white where he was clutching at Armstrong's shoulder.
He could practically hear the smirk in Armstrong's voice. The stupid git.
Blore forced himself to look the man hard in the eye, before tightly gripping Armstrong's prick through his trousers, just in warning. His own length throbbed as he heard Armstrong hiss through gritted teeth. It didn't matter whether it was in pain or relief. Something like fire, like electricity, dances under Blore's fingertips, as he begins to rub and knead more gently, tracing a thick, hard outline through straining wool.
Suddenly the white-hot burning deep in his belly was threatening to pour over. "God. Slow down," he groaned, "Unless you want this t' be over before it begins."
"Can't last long enough to even fuck me?" countered that slightly shrill voice.
Blore's hand instantly found Armstrong's throat. He could feel the doctor's Adam's apple bobbing under the warm flesh, but still he couldn't seem to put any genuine malice into his grip. Armstrong's eyes were wide and unblinking.
Instead Blore slowly dragged his hand lower, where Armstrong's shirt was open and he could card his fingers through the smattering of hair that covered his chest. The gesture could almost be mistaken for gentle.
"Take off the rest of your clothes. Get on your hands and knees," Blore instructed him, clinging to some last vestige of authority, even if there was a quaver in the roughness of his voice. Armstrong didn't need to be told twice.
Blore had already seen the freckles dusted across his arms and broad shoulders in the dull, gray daylight. Along with that damned sun-tan, the type people only have to show that they're well off enough to holiday somewhere warm and bright. As Armstrong stood to strip out of his trousers, Blore mused that he might have played rugby in school. No, no, probably cricket, at some unbearable public school. Now his build was softer with age, but still undeniably athletic looking.
Blore's own hands seemed to move on their own accord, stripping himself equally bare. Armstrong had seen nearly all of him now anyway, and the room was becoming strangely fever-warm.
Armstrong climbed back onto the bed. Blore's mouth went dry as he gazed at the man spread out before him, the taut lines of his back and arse and thighs, and the shape of a fat prick hanging stiff between his legs. And god, that arse. Far more plush than any man's had a right to be.
Blore took a handful of the plump, tanned skin. The memory of salt air and cold sea breeze stung his senses.
"You never touched 'im?" Lombard had asked him, out on the rocky shore.
"Wouldn't want to be near one of them dirty bastards."
He wasn't the degenerate here, Blore reasons with himself, tightening his grip. Armstrong was. He was the bloody pansy for wanting this, wanting to be put in his place. If anything, Blore was doing his job, doling out punishment to someone vile and depraved. Or something like that. Just like U. N. Fucking Owen was screwing over the lot of them.
Maybe he was still coked up enough that it all made perfect sense.
He took his shaft in his other hand and roughly teased up the tight crevice of Armstrong's arse, recoiling suddenly when he felt something moist.
"It's just the Vaseline," Armstrong huffed prissily, "I've already-- There's a reason I brought more of it, you know."
"Shut up," Blore whispered, but he took the small jar from the table and generously slicked himself up all the same.
Armstrong looked up over his shoulder expectantly, in the same moment Blore took him by the hips and shoved into him as far as he could.
Armstrong whimpered, baring his teeth like a wounded animal. Blore closed his eyes and gritted his own. None of the women he'd been with had felt anywhere near this good, so achingly tight and hot that it took all of his self control not to spill his seed the second he had pressed in more fully.
After a long moment to steady himself, he rolled his hips. Then again, and again, driving even deeper, until the obscene slap of skin on skin was almost as loud to his ears as the trembling thunder outside. He watched Armstrong's fingers tighten in the sheets, struggling to gain purchase as his arms nearly buckled underneath him. God, it was intoxicating, to have this big brute of a man under him.
Gradually, the high, keening sounds he could hear Armstrong make grew from pained to pleasurable, as he arched back to meet Blore's thrusts. There weren't words to describe the feeling of him squeezing, clenching around Blore's prick, as if he was made for it. Folding on one elbow, Armstrong moved a hand between the wide spread of his legs, evidently stroking himself with a fervor. He began babbling--nonsense Blore could barely decipher, about the war, about how he hadn't been had like this since then, about how good and full it felt. It was all too much for Blore.
He pushed Armstrong farther down, until he was crumpled flat onto the mattress, and pressed a hot mouth to his ear. "Shhhh. You don't want 'em to hear you, do you? The Owens."
Armstrong whined. Blore could feel him canting his hips, desperately rubbing himself off on the sweat stained sheets.
Maybe it was a moment of his own weakness when he laid himself down, blanketing Armstrong's back with his chest and driving so deep into him he felt that their two bodies could melt into one, like he could drown in the sensation. His forehead was pressed against the man's soft hair and his lips were at the back of Armstrong's neck when Blore came: a turbulent, roiling feeling, like a wave crashing in on itself, too sweet to last longer that what seemed a single stretch of eternity. Then his mind went glaringly white, like radio static.
Armstrong groaned loudly underneath him.
After a long moment of silence, filled only with the violent drizzle of rain from outside, Blore pulled out with a wet squelch, and flopped heavily on to his back.
All at once it came over him, the thing he wouldn't even admit to himself. This is what he had really wanted to do to Landor. What he'd been aching to do to him. And it would have been easy, too. Certainly easier than explaining why the boy was naught but blood and sinew and broken teeth on the concrete when Blore had finished with him.
Maybe, he had done it to stop himself. He rubbed at his eyes, the sweat trickling down from his hairline was making them sting. The air around them was thick with the smell of sex.
If he had simply given into temptation, would it really have made him any worse of a man than he was now? Would he still be here tonight?
Armstrong rolled over and put a hand on Blore's still-heaving chest, gentle in a way that Blore knew he didn't deserve.
"We're going to get off this island--I promise you. We-we're going to be alright."
Blore looked at him, at his pale, beautiful eyes, and almost believed him.