Prior to the lashing, Sergeant Solomon Tozer does not give a good goddamn about Cornelius Hickey. Save perhaps the odd moment of irritation when the little caulker’s mate is being lazy and insubordinate - which, granted, is fairly often - he doesn’t really give that little rat a moment’s thought.
Of course, this all changes once Hickey pulls him aside and demands to know the whereabouts of the native girl. The cold fire in his eyes and the determination in his voice send chills down the sergeant’s spine, and suddenly he is unable to deny him anything.
Tozer does not feel pity for the man as he’s being lashed. What he feels is something much more surprising altogether: he actually feels angry on Hickey’s behalf.
The way Tozer sees it, the man’s crime was simply taking matters into his own hands in order to protect them against a potential foe, and he reckons he’d have done the same if he’d only had the thought... it’s been a long time since he has seen any such action being taken on the part of command, that’s for good and certain. It could just as easily have been Tozer himself bent over that table.
The sergeant does understand on a purely professional level why it must be done. On a personal level, however, he is quickly losing faith in command.
What shocks him the most about this whole horrid business, however, is his own reaction to seeing Hickey stripped.
It’s the first time in years that he’s seen anyone fully naked. Furthermore, he is surprised that it turned out to be such a pleasing sight to behold; Hickey is not a handsome man. His face is long and sharp - like that of a fox - and his mouth is crowded as a poorhouse, with a noticeable underbite. And his nose might just be the largest Tozer has ever laid eyes on. Not exactly a face one would expect to come with a body like that.
Tozer hadn’t even realized until now that he had formed an image in his mind of the little caulker’s mate body, but if you’d have asked him an hour ago what he’d thought Cornelius Hickey looks like naked, he would probably have told you that it matches his general character: twisted, malnourished, and wrong.
Sergeant Tozer is stunned when they bring Hickey out and he sees those healthy, toned limbs and the milky white, unblemished skin that looks soft to the touch. A breath catches in the sergeant’s throat as they pull Hickey’s underclothes down, exposing his cock and his shapely backside.
It’s not the time nor the place for it, Tozer knows this, but nonetheless he feels his cock stirring in his trousers as they make Hickey bend over the table to take his punishment.
God help us both, Tozer thinks to himself. It really has been far too long.
As soon as the lashing starts, though, all those unbidden feelings die down and are once more replaced with Tozer’s righteous anger. In that sense, the crack of the whip is a kind of blessing.
And while the spectacle is excruciating to watch, Tozer finds that it does not have the desired effect on him - that he should come to see Hickey as a disgraced man. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: with every lash taken, with every stifled groan of agony, a newfound sense of respect blooms. THe sergeant has never suffered a lashing himself, but he can imagine the toll. Surely it wouldn’t take much of that sort of thing to make a man’s mind break right in two. But with Hickey there’s no pleading for the horrific torture to end, no loud screams, no attempts at bargaining, no tearful apologies… he simply takes his punishment like a man. He even cracks a little smile in the middle of it all, making eye contact with Captain Crozier all the while. What audacity.
Against all that he had previously thought possible, Tozer suddenly finds himself on the lazy, grousing little caulker’s mate side.
Cornelius Hickey somehow makes it out of that ordeal still standing, still proud, if a bit sore and dazed. The look on his face just as they let him up from the table is that of a newborn child; wide-eyed and open-mouthed. But it doesn’t take long for him to compose himself. After all that humiliation and torture, that little bastard still manages to look smug by the end of it. Something about this stubborn resilience of his is strangely compelling to behold - exhilarating, even.
Tozer puts on a somber face for the gathered crowd, but he can practically hear his own heart thumping away inside his chest.
Once it’s all over, when they have all been dismissed and Hickey has gone to have his wounds tended to by Dr. McDonald, Tozer sneaks off. He pulls out his snuff box and digs out a generous portion of tobacco, wraps it in a red handkerchief. He then tucks his token of appreciation away in Hickey’s hammock, before retreating to his own.
There he lies awake for hours, unable to rid the little shitstirrer from his mind.
The sergeant spots Hickey off the side of the ship, going about his dues. There is nothing at all seductive in his body language, nothing out of the ordinary - he is simply existing, no idea that he is being so closely observed - and yet Tozer’s mind is suddenly flooded with unholy thoughts, knowing now what lies beneath all those layers of wool.
Then there are the whispers going around about Hickey, that he is a maryanne. “That’s what the captain meant by ‘dirtiness,’” he had overheard one man whispering over the table during supper. This knowledge does not help quell the fire in him, the idea of that supple little imp having had relations with other men while on this expedition. Right under his nose. Perhaps in the next room over, as he slept. Tozer can’t help but wonder who it was that he had been with; Hartnell? Armitage? Pilkington? Did he take or receive? Did they kiss? Did Hickey love this man, whoever he is? Another thought strikes him, unwarranted and unwanted: perhaps it had been more than one man. Maybe he’d slept with a whole slew of men on this ship.
Something foul stirs in his chest then - something akin to jealousy, although Tozer would never think to identify it as such - and he feels ill at ease.
The Devil must have gotten a hold of him. Before, he had found the little man to be queer and vaguely repulsive. He’d been quite happy with that assessment. But now, much to his chagrin, Tozer has come to appreciate Hickey’s features.
Between the thick ginger hair and the dimples, the pale eyes gleaming with a dangerous intelligence, as well as that sweet, pink mouth, Sergeant Tozer does not stand a chance. Even those two big front teeth sticking out whenever he smiles - they had previously invoked the image of a rat - seem oddly endearing now. The little bastard has managed to etch his own likeness into the backs of Tozer’s eyelids, and these days the sergeant can’t close his eyes without seeing that damned smirk.
More than anything he appreciates Hickey’s roguish charm; the wicked twinkle in his eyes and his soft, compelling voice. Tozer imagines that voice whispering all kinds of outrageous things into his ear when the two of them are finally alone in the dark, hypnotizing him.
“I need relief,” Tozer tells his comrade as he takes his leave, heading for the seat.
It’s technically not a lie.
When he finally finds some blessed privacy he opens the fly of his trousers and reaches into them, taking himself in hand.
Cornelius Hickey is there with him now, in his mind’s eye; he is grinning, as always, as he gets to his knees and starts servicing Tozer with his mouth. The sergeant imagines running his hand through that golden hair, sees a pair of icy blue eyes peering up at him. He can almost feel Hickey’s delicate fingers around his cock, cupping his balls.
With a strangled cry, he spends.
After, he curses Hickey for making him entertain such filthy thoughts about another man.
One day, the sergeant loses his composure entirely.
The caulker’s mate has spent his day doing the bare minimum, all the while being particularly mouthy about it, getting on Tozer’s last nerve. The second they are left alone together, the sergeant grabs Hickey by his lapels and slams him up against an ice shelf.
“I’ve just about had it with you,” he hisses. “You’re in need of a good whacking.”
“Another one?” Hickey asks, unfazed by the sudden act of aggression. He tilts his chin up at him in a gesture of defiance. “Did you so enjoy what you saw the last time, sergeant?”
There is not a sliver of hurt in the man’s voice - it’s more like a challenge, and the cold look in his eyes echos this - but even so, Tozer feels like he’s really put his foot in it.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbles and takes a step back, unhanding Hickey.
“For what?” the little man asks, righting his coat and finding a block of ice perch on. “For shoving me? For losing your temper? I’ve had much worse, believe me.”
“I’m sorry for…” Tozer starts, fumbling for the right words, “for bringing up- I didn’t mean to-“
This ineptitude with words seems to amuse Hickey, his mouth forming into a small, sideways grin.
“The lashing, you mean?” he asks.
“Yes. I imagine it is something that you’d rather forget.”
The caulker’s mate does not respond right away, but the grin on his face becomes sort of stiff and unnatural, and his eyes narrow in a manner that would seem to suggest that Cornelius Hickey has absolutely no intention of forgetting about that night.
“I didn’t think it had inspired in you such sympathy for me, sergeant.”
This makes Tozer scoff.
“Oh, I have no sympathy for you, Mr. Hickey, make no mistake.”
Hickey tilts his head to the side, looking thoughtful.
“Something else about it bothers you, then.”
When the sergeant is unable to respond quickly enough, Hickey takes it as an invitation to speak freely.
“You know, Sergeant Tozer,” he starts, shoving his hand into his pocket and digging out a small, red bundle of something, “you almost granted me a glimpse into your true self, just then. You almost had a moment of… of pure self expression. I am grateful for that. I’m not grateful that it ended. I would’ve liked to have seen where it could’ve gone.”
Tozer doesn’t quite know how to respond to that; the implication in those words has got him nervous now, and the curious look in Hickey’s eyes even more so. He silently watches the little caulker’s mate as he unravels the red bundle in his hand, revealing a small clump of tobacco. The sergeant is astonished to see how he’s made it last, as it’s been months since the night of the lashing.
Hickey seems to take notice of how Tozer is staring at the red handkerchief, and a knowing little smile tugs at the corner of his mouth. But he says nothing of it.
“Now, be truthful with me, sergeant,” Hickey continues, producing a piece of rolling paper and adding to it a modest portion of tobacco. “If there is anything about me that is weighing on your mind - and it seems to me that there must be, if you should lose your temper with me in such a way - I’d rather you just come out and say it. Spare your heart the burden. And spare me the burden of speculation.”
He rolls the tobacco as he speaks, never looking up from his task, and in no time at all he has got himself a cigarette. When he licks the side of the paper, he does it slowly, peering up at the sergeant and holding his gaze. Tozer knows it’s all very deliberate.
Hickey digs into his pocket for a box of matches, but finds nothing. He lets out a weary sigh.
“Got some fire there, sergeant?”
Tozer sticks his hand in his pocket and produces a matchbox. He tosses it over to Hickey, who catches it one-handed.
“Thanks,” the little man mumbles around his cigarette as he lights up.
He lets out a plume of smoke through his nostrils before he speaks again.
“Now are you going to speak about what plagues you, or shall I have to keep speculating forev-“
“Is it true what they say about you?” Tozer blurts out, regretting those words almost immediately after they leave his lips.
Tozer is surprised to see Hickey’s eyebrows shooting up. It seems he had caught the little man unawares, even after all that pushing and prodding. Hickey’s mouth draws into a sideways smile and he lets out a small laugh, one which eventually sends him into a minor coughing fit.
“Pardon me my ignorance, sergeant,” Hickey croaks, blinking away tears as he tries to stifle the last of his cough. “What exactly is it that they say about me?”
“Nevermind,” Tozer says, turning to walk away.
“No, no, no,” Hickey tuts, hopping up from off his icy perch and grabbing Tozer by the sleeve of his coat. “That’s not fair, is it? You’ve just revealed to me that there is vicious slander going around regarding my character, but now you won’t say what they are. How am I to defend myself?”
“You’ll just have to keep guessing, Mr. Hickey,” Tozer says as he wrenches his arm from his grasp, and resumes storming off.
“Rather dishonorable behavior for a marine,” Hickey calls out behind him.
This stops the sergeant dead in his tracks. That little rat… he knows all the buttons to push, doesn’t he? Tozer knows full well that he shouldn’t let it get a rise out of him - it’s exactly what Hickey wants - but he cannot help himself.
“The rumor is,” Tozer starts, his voice barely above a whisper as he walks back over to Hickey, “that you’re a maryanne. That you take it up the arse.”
Hickey does not seem too surprised by that; he even cracks another smile. So it’s true, then.
“And why is this at the forefront of your mind, sergeant?” Hickey ponders aloud, his sharp chin jutting out again. “What’s it to you?”
Tension hangs thick as a fog in the air as the two men stand almost nose to nose, glaring at each other. Tozer is starting to feel hot under his collar, like he’s coming down with a fever. His heart is pounding inside his chest, feeling like it’s going to burst right out of his ribcage any minute now. After a long and deafening pause, Hickey speaks again. His voice is calm and dreadfully smug.
“Perhaps you’d like a go?”
All this gets him is more duties owed, and lots of them. Tozer would like to give him a broken nose on top of it, but unfortunately some semblance of decorum must be upheld.
Had their situation not already seemed utterly chaotic and hopeless, it certainly does now, after the events of Carnivale. Private Heather is dead, and not for Tozer’s lack of trying to save him, but the sergeant still feels guilty about it.
It’s not that he had been closer to Heather than any of the other Marines prior to the bear’s attack; they were all brothers, for better or worse, and he had loved them all equally. But tending to the unconscious private these past few months had filled the days. It had warded off the ennui of being stuck in the ice, and given him an important task.
And seeing how Heather had held on like that for so long, that was testament to Tozer’s already well-cemented notion: that marines really were made of harder stuff. So to see the man die like that, in such a pointless way, unable to do anything to save himself - that was more devastating than any bear attack. Private Heather was a marine and if he was going to die, he should have died in combat.
More than anything, though, he is now feeling increasingly scared and confused. From what Tozer had observed, Dr. Stanley was certainly not a man prone to theatrics and hysteria. To do what he did... the man must have lost all hope, which would suggest that he had known something that Tozer doesn’t. Something that command isn’t telling them. Lord only knows where they’re headed from here.
In that sense, Tozer feels that Heather’s death was a sort of relief. He feels guilty about that, as well.
The sergeant is sitting a ways off from the rest of the men, letting a lit cigarette burn out between his fingers, when Cornelius Hickey approaches.
“What do you want, Mr. Hickey?” Tozer sighs.
“Came to pay my respects,” the little man replies, and for once he isn’t being smug. “My condolences.”
“I’ve no need for pity.”
Hickey lets out an incredulous laugh.
“I don’t pity you, sergeant. I never have and I never would. I simply came to pay my respects. You can do with that information what you will.”
The caulker’s mate turns on his heel and starts trudging back to camp, making Tozer regret being so short with him; there had been his chance to have a moment alone with Hickey, to get to know this strange, enigmatic man a little better, and his resentment and distrust had gotten in the way. He has the urge to call out to him, but before he gets the chance Hickey suddenly stops and turns.
“Something needs to change.” Hickey looks uncharacteristically severe. “Has to change. You know that, don’t you, sergeant?”
Solomon Tozer can do nothing but give a silent, hesitant nod and watch him walk away.
Hickey is right; something has to change. And change does come, quicker and more brutal than Tozer could have ever imagined.
First there is their hanging, and the sergeant believes they are done for. Then there is fog and monstrous roars, rockets and gunshots and screams, and suddenly Hickey is granted the change that he had been wishing for.
Tozer had seen Mr. Collins’ soul torn from his body, and the memory of it robs him of his sleep. He decides then that he has no intention of becoming that demon’s next victim.
The former caulker’s mate is now elevated to leader - Captain? Is that what he should be calling him now? - of their small band of mutineers, through nothing more than the nature of their circumstances and the raw intelligence and sheer audacity required to lead a mutiny. If someone had suggested this idea to Tozer a week ago, that he would be aiding Cornelius Hickey in such a thing, he would have laughed in their face. But now, against all previously held beliefs, Hickey has become the sergeant’s North Star.
Private Heather’s passing had left a gaping hole, and Cornelius Hickey had been there to fill it. Simple as that.
And by the time Tozer had stumbled upon the horrific remains of Lieutenant Fairholme’s lead party, he was already at the end of his tether. Then Crozier had asked of them a terrible thing; to keep it all a secret from the other men.
From there, the choice of who to follow had been very easy.
Make no mistake: in the eyes of the sergeant, Hickey is still an infuriating little shit - but he is also a quick thinking and crafty little shit, and Tozer reckons the men need somebody like that now. Perhaps, under this new leadership, they might just get out of this mess alive.
He knows it’s madness, but this is mad times. Mad measures are required.
More than anything, he cherishes his role as lieutenant to Hickey’s captain. Sure, they have Hodgson, but everyone knows that the lieutenant’s title is little more than a formality at this point. Perhaps, to some extent, even Hodgson himself is aware of this.
It feels good, being second in command. And now that he’s on a first name basis with Hickey, it’s as though there isn’t even really a chain of command to speak of. It’s like they’re equals, like he’s simply allowing Hickey take the reins because it’s just the best thing to do. At the end of the day, Cornelius Hickey is the smartest man in the room; that much has now become abundantly clear, the way he had pieced everything together.
When he’d come to the sergeant with all of his shrewdly gleaned information - Crozier’s letter, Goodsir’s interaction with Lady Silence, everything - Tozer had been grateful that it was him who had been entrusted with the knowledge. And he knew then that he would have to tell Hickey about the lead party.
Sergeant Tozer has never wanted command; he could probably have had it if he’d wanted it but it’s simply too much to take on, even for him. This new development is perfect: he is without the burden of leadership, but he also has the chance to have some kind of say in what happens next. In this new arrangement he will not be treated like just another disposable, nameless body in a red coat. And Hickey treats him as though he values his opinion, just as one would a trusted advisor. It’s quite refreshing.
Tozer knows this is as good as it’s going to get, and so he tries to make himself useful in any and every way he can.
He knows that Hickey is dangerous; Crozier’s speech at the hanging had made that much clear. Tozer is no fool. Still, he means to get out of this ordeal alive. And whatever underhanded deeds Hickey has to pull in order to get them out of this icy hell is of no great consequence to him - not thus far, at least.
Furthermore, there is something to that wild, unfettered ruthlessness that still beckons the sergeant. And so Tozer seeks him out in the night, after he’s been relieved of his watch duty.
He calls out Hickey’s name as he enters the tent, his eyes straining to make out any familiar shapes in the dark. The sergeant speaks softly, so as to not startle the man. He is sure that Hickey is reaching under his pillow for his knife - of course, there is no way to tell in this all-consuming darkness.
“Solomon?” Hickey’s voice is clear as day, no sign of grogginess. It’s as if he’d been awake this whole time. “Are we under attack?”
The words themselves are paranoid, but the tone is calm and casual as always. Tozer is starting to think that perhaps Cornelius Hickey doesn’t experience any real fear at all. He had witnessed him at the hanging; Hickey had seemed entirely unfazed. The idea of this is somehow both comforting and terrifying, all at once.
“Everything is fine,” Tozer says, “I’m here to…”
He doesn’t quite know how to finish that sentence. For all his preparation, for all the daydreaming about this encounter, for all the times he has been assertive and seductive in those fantasies of his, he has no idea how to approach this in real life.
“To..?” Hickey echos into the dark.
“To see if you… needed something. Anything.”
A cutting silence ensues, and Tozer holds his breath.
“Do you need something, Solomon?” Hickey asks, his voice low and even.
“I just wanted-“ Tozer starts, but he finds it utterly impossible to put words to what it is he really wants.
When did he become so weak of heart?
“Come,” Hickey says, and Tozer can hear him sitting up on his cot. “Sit.”
Hickey grabs a pack of matchsticks - the very same one that Tozer had given him that day, out on the ice - and lights the oil lamp by his bedside. Now the sergeant can see him properly; he is completely nude and his body no less lovely than the first time Tozer had seen him like this, if a bit leaner now.
Of course he sleeps in the nude, Tozer thinks to himself. He would have expected nothing less. At least Hickey has the decency to cover his parts with his blanket when he sits down again, making space for the sergeant.
Tozer’s breath is uneven as he approaches Hickey, his heart going a mile a minute. He prays he won’t get hard.
“What’s eating you, Solomon?” Hickey asks when Tozer finally takes a seat beside him.
The sergeant can not get himself to look at him. He might just come undone if he does, lose all impulse control again, and this time God only knows what that’ll look like. However, the note of concern in Hickey’s voice is uncharacteristically genuine.
Tozer knows it might be nothing more than a ruse - but if so, it is a damned good one. The words are like a balm to his soul.
“Are you lonely?”
Hickey’s voice is soft, too much so; Tozer melts at the sound. In that moment he almost feels comforted, almost feels safe and relaxed… but then Hickey rests a hand on his lower back he tenses right up again.
“Not lonely,” the sergeant sighs. “I’m… agitated.”
“Anyone would be, under these-“
“By you.” Tozer interrupts him, finally looking Hickey in the eye. “You agitate me.”
Hickey backs up a bit and lets his hand drop down from Tozer’s back, but his face is entirely unaffected. He stares back at the sergeant, unblinking. Utterly unreadable. Tozer hates him for that.
The sergeant’s mind is in turmoil, at a loss for words. What is he to say? He has never gone about this kind of thing before, not with a man. Even if he knew how to approach this, does he truly want it? It would mean forsaking his pride as a marine, and his virtue as a man.
And more importantly: if the rumors are untrue, if Hickey isn’t attracted to men after all and doesn’t want him, then what? Will he be ostracized? Punished? Killed? It would be unlikely, as Hickey seems to need him - but what if he is wrong about that, as well? How can he truly know his own standing with a man that is in every other way a complete and utter mystery to him?
“I should go,” Tozer says, getting up to leave.
Before he can escape, Hickey has grabbed him by the arm and the shoulder, pulling him back down onto the cot. For such a small fellow he is surprisingly strong.
“Must you always run from me when our conversations become difficult?” Hickey asks. “Go on. Be a marine now, Solomon. Be brave. Speak your mind.”
Tozer takes a deep breath, steeling himself for the worst.
“You’ve bewitched me,” he finally says.
He fully expects to be laughed at, but this time Hickey doesn’t even crack a smile. He only tilts his head to the side like a puzzled dog.
“Bewitched?” he echos.
“You’ve… you’ve infected my mind with, with thoughts-“
His sentence is cut short by Hickey laying a hand on his thigh.
The touch itself is innocent enough outside of the context. However the intent behind it is anything but. Judging by the look on Hickey’s face - intense, expectant, challenging - this is in fact an invitation. To his horror and despair, Sergeant Tozer can feel a rush of blood to his nethers, slowly making the front of his trousers fill out.
He glances down for a split second, and Hickey is quick to catch it. The little devil sees, but he does not say a word. He doesn’t need to; that smug grin now plastered on his face speaks for itself.
Without a single further thought, Tozer’s arm shoots out to grab Hickey by his bony wrist.
“Do you want this? Truly?” he asks. “Cornelius, do not mock me.”
Clearing his throat, Hickey rises, letting his blanket fall off to the side to reveal his own half-hard cock.
“When I asked if you wanted a go, Solomon,” Hickey explains, calm as can be, “I was not being rhetorical. I meant that as an invitation.”
Tozer needs no further convincing. Yanking Hickey down by his wrist, he forces the naked man onto him, makes him straddle his waist.
“So forceful,” Hickey says, letting Tozer’s mouth have at his neck.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” Tozer groans against the soft, pale skin. “Do you ever stop fucking talking?”
“Only when there’s a cock in my mouth.”
The thought of that sends a lightning bolt up Tozer’s spine, and a moan slips from his mouth. That’s something for another time though; for now he is quite happy to have all of Hickey in his arms, to bury his face in the dip of his collarbone and grind his aching cock against his warm body.
Tozer thinks it’s all a bit surreal, that his hands now know the softness of Cornelius Hickey’s hair and that his fingertips are running over his scars - the corporeal evidence of an event that had, in its own way, brought them together.
“Tell me, sergeant,” Hickey starts, a touch out of breath, “how long have you been tortured by your wants?”
“Not sure,” Tozer lies as he allows Hickey to strip him of his anorak and his woolen jumper. “Not that long. I can’t remember.”
Hickey isn’t having it: He sits back and stops moving, stops touching him, making the poor sergeant sigh with frustration. Then he grabs him by his chin, forcing him to look him in the eye.
“Do not lie to me, Solomon. When were you first bewitched, as you say?”
“Shouldn’t you know that? If you’re the one that bewitched me?”
Hickey is not one bit amused.
“Now you’re testing my patience. Perhaps I should ask you to leave.”
He starts to get up, but Sergeant Tozer - desperate to keep him in his arms - grabs him firmly by the waist and holds him in place.
Hickey stares him down for a moment.
“When?” His tone is firm, impatient.
“At your lashing,” Tozer finally admits. “I first… I first started wanting you when I saw you there. Naked.”
Hickey’s eyebrows are just about touching his hairline now. He looks bemused, if not a tiny bit scandalized.
“Naked,” Hickey parrots. “And bound.”
Tozer shakes his head.
“No, it wasn’t like that-“
“Like a poor wretch in the stocks, ready to be used…”
“You thought about taking me then,” Hickey whispers in his ear, and it now becomes clear that he means to provoke him. “Right in front of all those men… oh sergeant, you are a terrible, wicked man-“
“Quiet now, you devil.”
Tozer grabs Hickey by the back of the head and shuts him up with his mouth.
Cornelius Hickey tastes exactly as he’d expected; like blood and tobacco. His overgrown whiskers are getting in the way, but right now that is the furthest thought from the sergeant’s mind.
As one of Tozer’s muscular arms curls around Hickey’s narrow waist, the other grabs the back of his right thigh. In a single smooth motion, the sergeant flips him over onto his back. Then he descends upon him.
The little imp seems to like that, biting his lip with a grin while Tozer nips at his neck and paws his thighs and arse with large, rough hands.
“I knew you’d be a beast,” Hickey says, in between moans.
“Oh, did you now?” Tozer asks, pushing curly locks out of his eyes as he comes up for air. He hovers over Hickey’s face, propped up by his elbow. “So I’m not the only one who’s been entertaining fantasies, then.”
Hickey shrugs, absentmindedly stroking Tozer through the rough wool of his trousers. He looks just perfect like that, his soft locks fanned out against the pillow, face flushed with arousal, lips red and wet from being kissed.
“That day when you had me cornered,” he confesses. “Out there on the ice. You could’ve taken me then. In the blistering cold, even. I would not have objected.”
One of Tozer’s hands reaches up to stroke Hickey’s face. His skin is impossibly soft, and it makes him feel self-conscious about his own face, marred as it now is by frostbite.
“I’ll admit, I thought about it.”
“I know you did,” Hickey says, looking him dead in the eye. “It was all over your face, writ large. Big, bold letters in red paint.”
If Tozer wasn’t already blushing from their activities, he certainly is now. The embarrassment of it all - knowing that he had been so openly lustful without even realizing it himself - it dampens his erection a touch. It is a blessing, in a way; Hickey’s ministrations had been threatening to send him over the edge much too early.
“Am I that much of an open book?” Tozer asks.
“Yes. Probably only to me, though. If anybody had seen us, they’d have seen two men quarreling... but I know the difference between when a man is aggressive with me because he despises me, and when he is aggressive because he wants to fuck me.”
“Oh, enough with your apologizing.” Hickey rolls his eyes. “Be proud, Solomon. You made me hard. Gave me fodder for my own fantasies.”
Hickey nods, biting his bottom lip again. He seems to be cherishing the memory.
“I thought about what an animal you would be,” he adds, reaching up and running his hands through the sergeant’s brown curls. “I thought about letting you take me like an animal.”
Tozer swallows hard. Those mental images alone would be more than enough to send him hurtling over the edge. Between that and Hickey’s hands working away on his cock, this could so very easily end in catastrophe.
Hickey knows this, of course - and so the sadistic bastard continues.
“I thought about… getting to my knees and letting you have free use of my mouth.”
The sergeant chokes on his own words, his arousal flaring up to the point of a near mishap. Hickey is now grinding their erections together, and even with the layer of wool between them it feels much too good.
“Or,” Hickey continues, “I thought about making you get to your knees.”
It’s all too much for the poor sergeant now. He won’t last.
“Stop, stop.” He pulls back and pushes Hickey’s hand off his cock. “Please.”
The little caulker’s mate sits up, feigning concern and bewilderment.
“Did I say something wrong?”
“No, no,” Tozer says with a shaky breath. “I just need… need a minute.”
Now Hickey is looking pretty pleased with himself.
“If you need release, Solomon-“
“No. Not before you’ve had yours.”
Hickey smiles at him then, and for once it’s not one of his signature shiteating grins. This one is genuine, even sweet.
“Now, tell me what I can do to get you there,” Tozer pleads.
Hickey leans up to whisper in his ear.
“Give me a hand… while you tell me every little detail of every single filthy thought you’ve ever had about me.”
Of course. What else would a narcissistic little shit like Cornelius Hickey ask for?
“Alright,” Tozer says. “Should… should I take my clothes off?”
“Only if you want to.”
This is a relief; Tozer is not quite sure if he’s ready for Hickey to see him naked yet. It’s a paradox, even to himself, that he can be this intimate with someone and still not be willing to take his clothes off… but it would just feel very strange. He hasn’t been fully naked - not even just scantily clad - in the presence of another person since the expedition started. It must have been years and years since he even saw himself naked in a mirror. The sergeant has no idea what his body looks like nowadays but he imagines he must be quite a lot thinner and harried now, compared to when they had first left port.
He decides to keep his shirt and trousers on.
The sergeant takes Hickey’s cock in hand. He is not that small when he’s hard, but Tozer’s large hand engulfs his circumference entirely. The little man lets out the tiniest, barely noticeable gasp.
“You’ve very soft hands for a marine.”
“That must be the only soft thing about me,” Tozer assures him as he slowly strokes his lover’s cock.
“Lies,” Hickey says, closing his eyes and stretching like a cat in the sun. “You’ve a soft heart, Solomon. Now tell me which acts of sin your mind conjured up to entertain yourself with. Tell me what you’d like to do with me.”
Tozer hesitates. He certainly has plenty of material to draw from, but he worries that his sensual flights of fancy will sound preposterous, or even distasteful. It’s not as if he’s ever had a way with words, not like Cornelius Hickey. He worries he’ll be laughed out of the room.
“Come now, sergeant,” Hickey says, “I’m not known for my patience.”
“Well...” Tozer starts, leaning over to nibble at Hickey’s earlobe. “There’s the one where I catch you sniffing around the captain’s quarters.”
This makes Hickey smile.
“That’s certainly in character.”
“I know,” Tozer says. “Up to no good, as usual.”
“And did you punish me?” Hickey guesses, a cheeky grin on his face.
“You offered your mouth in exchange for my silence.”
The caulker’s mate snickers at that, but when Tozer uses his other hand to grasp the base of Hickey’s cock, he quickly pipes down, his hands suddenly grasping the blanket beneath him.
“I accepted, of course.”
“And did I do a good job?” Hickey asks, his voice now starting to show the very faintest hint of a quiver. “Was it to your satisfaction?”
His eyes are still closed but his mouth is open now. Just like in Tozer’s fantasies, it looks soft and inviting.
“You did an excellent job,” Tozer says, rotating his wrist in a way that makes his lover groan and simper. “You were so eager. As if it wasn’t much of a sacrifice for you, even if it was a trade. You were rock hard. You enjoyed my cock so much, you took it all down. You were such a good little cocksucker… you even swallowed.”
Hickey moans, a soft and desperate sound, and it is music to Tozer’s ears.
“Then there’s the night when you wake me up in my hammock. You’re as naked as you are now, climbing on top of me. You put a finger to your lips, telling me to stay quiet. I worry that the hammock is going to come crashing down, but it doesn’t. You’re not that heavy.”
Tozer stops his stroking, now only playing with Hickey, giving his lover’s aching balls feather-light touches with his fingertips. It is insufficient and frustrating for the poor little caulker’s mate, as is evident by his strained breathing, his tense jaw, his furrowed brow. Tozer, deciding to help him out, grinds his own erection down against Hickey’s. This seems to appease the man, as he starts to shiver and moan.
“In this fantasy, we share a kiss,” Tozer murmurs.
He leans down then, planting a chaste kiss on his lover’s lips. When he pulls back Hickey tries to follow, only to find a large hand on his chest pushing him back down on the cot.
“Then you grab my hand and start sucking on my fingers,” Tozer says as he slips his index and middle finger into Hickey’s open, waiting mouth. His lover readily accepts.
It’s an almost obscene sight, but Tozer relishes it. Hickey moans wantonly as he starts sucking on Tozer’s fingers, swirling his tongue around them, getting them all slick with his spit.
“Yes, like that,” Tozer whispers, his words coming out in jagged breaths. It’s a little too good. “You did it just like that…”
When the fingers suddenly pull out of his mouth, Hickey opens his eyes and sits up on his cot. This time he is looking genuinely bewildered.
“Why’d you stop?”
Tozer hesitates again.
“Well… this is the part where, um, where I put my fingers in you.”
“Yes?” Hickey shakes his head in confusion. “And what’s stopping you?”
“I wasn’t sure if- if you wanted that. In real life, I mean.”
“Well, I do. So get on with it.”
Hickey flops back down and closes his eyes again, drawing his legs up a little to allow Tozer access. When the sergeant hesitates again, Hickey lets out a frustrated sigh.
“No need for silk gloves, sergeant. Your fingers are hardly going to be my first. Do not make me ask a third time.”
The comment gives Tozer a wicked idea.
“What if…” he starts, leaning over his lover. “I’d like to hear you beg?”
Hickey’s eyes fly open again, and now the look of mild frustration has graduated to something far more icy.
Before Hickey can react, Tozer has got him pinned down by his wrists, straddling his legs. Their positions do not allow for Hickey to push his hips up against him, no way for him to get the friction that he desperately needs. Tozer enjoys seeing just how much this frustrates his lover.
Instead of giving him relief, the sergeant bears down on the little man and starts sucking on his neck again. His mouth soon finds a spot just behind Hickey’s ear, one that drives him mad.
“You couldn’t just bloody well get it over with, could you?” the little man hisses, in between barely stifled gasps and groans. “What’s keeping you? Eh? Are you afraid?”
“No,” Tozer says. “I just want to hear you begging for it.”
“I make you nervous,” Hickey firmly states, as if it’s fact.
He might just be right.
Nevertheless, Tozer is determined to be the one doing the teasing.
“I could stay like this all night if need be, Cornelius.”
Hickey rolls his eyes.
“Very well,” he says, finally. “Please… do as you’re told.”
Tozer has to laugh.
“Alright, you stubborn little shite. Close enough.”
He lets go of Hickey’s wrists and puts his fingers back in that warm, wet mouth. The little man sucks eagerly, maintaining eye contact throughout, reminding Tozer of the other thing he’d like to do with him. And surely that is exactly what Hickey was aiming for, the sly bastard.
The sergeant reluctantly pulls his fingers out, careful not to get overexcited. Reaching his climax now would be embarrassing, to say the least, and Hickey would never let him live it down.
With one of his spit-slick fingers he finds Hickey’s hole, and without ceremony - without hesitation, this time - he pushes inside. He can tell that it hurts him some, seeing Hickey’s jaw clench up and his eyebrows knit together.
“Alright?” Tozer asks.
Hickey only gives a quick nod, which Tozer interprets as permission to push his finger further in. And it’s not long before another finger is demanded.
“More,” Hickey moans.
“Just do it,” the little man hisses through clenched teeth.
Tozer throws all caution to the wind and does as he’s told.
Hickey is so soft and warm inside. Tozer’s mind reels at the thought of sticking his cock in that sweet hole. It would surely make him come within seconds.
But they won’t be going all the way tonight, that much is clear; all the spit in the world couldn’t ease the way. If he’d had some grease on hand, certainly - but who here among them are in possession of such luxuries? Even if he’d had some of that stuff tucked away, someone would surely have found it and gobbled it up by now.
Tozer once again takes his lover’s cock in his hand and starts pumping, in a bid to keep Hickey’s mind off the pain and his own mind off his hunger. Soon enough, he can see Hickey starting to relax again. The furrowed brow gives way to a dazed expression with a lazy smile, and once more he bears the look of a well-kept kitten.
When Tozer crooks his fingers a certain way, Hickey’s mouth falls open, gasping, and his whole body goes taut as a bowstring.
“What’s wrong?” Tozer asks, worried again.
“Nothing,” Hickey answers, his voice trembling. “Please. Do that again. Touch me there again.”
It would appear the sergeant has found his Holy Grail; some kind of secret sweet spot that can drive a man wild, make him salivate like a dog and reduce him to a mindless, quivering heap of bone and muscle. The power in that is just exhilarating.
“Please,” Hickey begs again, suddenly without qualms about using that word. “Tell me more of your wicked daydream about me, sergeant.”
“After I’ve opened you up for me,” Tozer starts, leaning over him to get a good look at that face, “you take my cock. All of it. I’m astounded that you’re able to take it all. But you’re so hungry, you’re just desperate for it.”
“Yes,” Hickey says with a quick intake of breath.
“You start to rock your hips back and forth, sliding up and down on my fat cock.”
At that, Hickey starts moving his hips, bearing down onto Tozer’s fingers and pushing his cock into his hand.
“You’re clawing at my chest, moaning my name,” Tozer whispers.
“I say I’m worried about the others hearing us, but you just laugh. You say-“
“Let them,” Hickey interrupts, his eyes suddenly open and fixed on Tozer‘s face. “Let them hear us. Let them see.”
It is quite clear that he means every word. Even here and now, Tozer feels like he ought to keep his voice down, so as to not give the men on the outside any reason to turn against them - Hickey, however, appears to not give a single damn if anyone hears. The little imp proudly announces his pleasure with noises so loud and lustful, Tozer is sure they can be heard all the way down in Hell.
With every moan and filthy word from out of Hickey’s mouth, Tozer can feel his own control once again starting to slip. One hand is furiously pumping his lover’s cock while the other tries to find the perfect rhythm in his massage of that magical spot. Hickey looks like he might be getting close, his face flushed and glistening with sweat. He had better come soon, because the sergeant doesn’t think he can hold on for much longer. His cock isn’t even being touched, and still he feels like he’s a powder keg about to explode.
He must find a way to make his lover come before he does. Tozer had given Hickey his word on that, and it has now become a matter of honor.
“You would let me fuck you in front of all those men,” Tozer whispers into Hickey’s ear, nearly out of breath now. “You’re such a wanton little thing, Cornelius. Not an ounce of shame in you. None.”
“I’m not even touching you, but you’re riding my cock so hard and so fast, you come. Untouched.” Tozer’s own voice is trembling now, dangerously close to the edge. “Seeing you like that, your face lost in pleasure, your seed shooting out and spattering your face, your chest, your belly… it’s so delicious, it makes me come hard.”
“I shoot my load in that tight little arse of yours and it feels so bloody good-“
Hickey sucks in a deep breath and suddenly he’s grabbing the sergeant by the back of the neck, lifting himself up to crush their mouths together. Tozer has to let go of his lover’s cock in order to brace himself against the bedding, and so Hickey starts frantically grinding his erection against the sergeant's own. It is he that has become the animal now; desperate, fervent, and loud, clawing at his lover’s back, biting down on his neck. And with Tozer’s fingers still working so diligently for his pleasure, Cornelius Hickey comes.
The sergeant is close behind, unable to hold it in any longer. Watching intently as the climax tears through Hickey’s body, hearing his desperate noises, catching the smell of his seed in the air, and feeling his pulsing cock rubbing against his own, Tozer finally erupts. His release creates a wave of pleasure so powerful that it flows throughout his whole body until finally he spends inside his trousers, moaning his lover’s name over and over like a prayer.
When it has passed, all his defenses are down. Lying on his side, arms around his lover, he feels like his whole body is made of jelly. And he’s not alone in this, it seems; Hickey is sprawled out on his back, jaw slack, his eyes wide and wet. There is nothing in them, they’re just blank. All that is left of his face now is the expression of complete and utter rapture.
Tozer has seen him like this only once before.
“I have not felt like this since the lashing,” Hickey says with a shaky breath, as if he had read the sergeant’s thoughts.
His head turns to face Tozer, looking him dead in the eye.
“Have you ever been lashed?” he asks.
Tozer shakes his head, and Hickey turns back to stare up at the plain, featureless canvas of the tent.
“When it’s all over,” Hickey adds, his voice low and oddly distant now, as if talking to no one but himself, “euphoria washes over you. It’s like when you finally find your release... it’s that sudden absence of pain, I suppose. It does something to your brain. It’s quite powerful.”
He draws in a deep breath and sighs. Even as Hickey is looking away, the sergeant can see a wild flame in his eyes.
“To have your entire being reduced to a speck of dust… a man can start anew from there.”
When he turns to look at Tozer again, his eyes and his smile are wide.
“There is opportunity to be found in most anything, Solomon. Especially adversity.”
A charge of electricity shoots up Tozer’s spine then, a sudden eerie realization striking him: thinking back on it now, in the days and weeks and months after the lashing, Hickey had been markedly different. He’d kept to himself. He’d become more meek, less vocal, less difficult to handle and more difficult to read. More withdrawn. To anyone looking in from the outside, this might have looked like submission, like he’d finally given up his rebellious ways… Tozer knows now that it had been anything but. Cornelius Hickey had not been subdued; he had only been lying in wait.
Tozer doesn’t know if he should consider this a comfort or a threat. But for now, he is far too tired and sated to care one way or the other.