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Better than a Wife

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Incurable - Part Two [Jan. 25th, 2006|04:02 pm]
Better than a Wife
ltbush
[iansmomesq]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

Second and final entry for Incurable

Part One can be found here:
http://community.livejournal.com/ltbush/34782.html

Rating: R (graphic surgical yuckiness)
Pairing: implied HH/WB more friendship BookVerse
Summary: The conclusion of Incurable, including the dreaded surgery, and Horatio's take on the whole disaster. Once again, thank you to black_hound for the impetus, the historical nitpick and the detailed wonderful beta read. Cheers, woman. This is for you.

I hope you enjoy this.
Maybe now it'll stop running around in my brain and haunting my dreams.


Part Two

First of all, I would define medicine as the complete removal of the distress of the sick, the alleviation of the more violent diseases and the refusal to undertake to cure cases in which the disease has already won the mastery, knowing that everything is not possible to medicine. – Hippocrates

Through Hell or High Water, William….

“I told you, Signora, I do not want to see Mister Hornblower,” Bush hissed, barely above a whisper. Notwithstanding the weakness in Bush’s voice, Hornblower saw an icy flame in his friend’s eyes – fire usually saved for those Bush despised the most -- the French – especially during battle.

“Well, now, William he is just…” Elizabeth began.

“William!?” Bush cut her off, sitting bolt upright. “You call me by my Christian name? What sort of insolence do you… do you…damn!” Bush’s words dissolved in a fit of coughing, peppered with winces of pain, oaths, insults and blasphemies the like of which Hornblower had never heard. Hornblower had to take a step back for fear of being toppled over by the blue streak.

“Settle yourself, sir,” she soothed. She cooed Bush’s name, laid him gently back down, stroked his forehead, and brushed the hair from his face. Hornblower couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy at the attentions. “There, now, Mister Bush,” Elizabeth breathed, “there.” Bush’s coughing slowed and ceased. “Better? Yes, better now, sir.”

Bush made a growling noise deep in his chest and turned away, gazing out the window.

“Horatio here told me you would prefer it if I called you William.”

Bush swore again, and again, he sat upright. “Captain Hornblower told you incorrectly, Signora.” He again focused his eyes on Hornblower, the anger still burning therein.

Hornblower coughed and cleared his throat loudly, for the first time feeling nervous and a bit intimidated by Bush – and Hornblower did not know why. It should not be that way, Hornblower thought, for a captain to be treated as such by his lieutenant. Perhaps it was the anger which Hornblower did not fully understand. Perhaps it was the knowledge of Bush’s fierceness in battle against the French; and having that ire directed at him instead. Perhaps it was the abject fear of losing Bush forever as a friend and brother.

Before Hornblower could respond, the door swung open and five men entered. Hornblower immediately recognized the old surgeon’s assistant. The other four, he assumed, included the surgeon, a young assistant – perhaps a student, and, judging from the size of them, two burly strongmen to hold Bush firm during the procedure.

The surgeon approached the bedside at a clip, unceremoniously shoving both Hornblower and Elizabeth aside. Without word to Bush, he threw the covers off the bed, exposing not only Bush’s wounded leg, but his bloodied, torn, trousers and naked torso.

The older assistant worked as quietly, quickly and deftly as the surgeon, preparing a table with various and sundry surgical instruments. Hornblower ticked off a list in his mind as he watched the man draw equipment out of a large bag, setting each item out in a precise pattern: knives, saws, forceps, retractors, a metal tourniquet, sponges, cloths, lengths of thread, needles, bandages, and a basin, which he filled with water from Bush’s bedside pitcher.

Hornblower observed the man closely, thinking to himself that the assistant and surgeon worked together well -- like cogs in a clockwork – one seeming to know and anticipate the needs of the other.

Much like William and myself, he mused, much like we may never be again.

At the end, the assistant placed on the table a small, brown, wicker basket, just the right size to cover the end of what would remain of Bush’s leg after the surgery. The Badge of Honour, Hornblower thought.

Hornblower turned his attention back to Bush -- at the wrong moment. Again, without a word, the surgeon tugged at the dressings covering Bush’s leg, and plucked away the soggy, bloodied lint, exposing the horrific wound. Hornblower could not help but suck in a breath through his teeth at the combination of the sight of it and the sound of Bush’s muffled cries of pain.

The bottom half of Bush’s lower leg had been rent completely from the body. Where the foot should have been there was simply open space. Above it, the skin hung in ribbons of flesh, some thick, some thin – shatters of what had been there before. It looked to Hornblower as if some sea monster had taken a great bite out of Bush’s leg, yanking and tearing with great teeth.

Bush’s leg shook with pain and nerves, causing some of the exposed muscle to quiver and shake involuntarily in a gruesome display of the workings of the human body. Bush’s disconnected muscle, searching for a limb to move, reminded Hornblower sadly of a flying fish stranded on the Sutherland’s quarterdeck -- flailing and tossing -- desperate for re-connection with the sea.

Worst of all, the two bones of Bush’s lower leg were exposed, broken at sharp, harsh angles, and stripped of flesh and muscle so that they protruded out, stark and virginal white against the red meat. As the surgeon moved Bush’s leg into place, the bones, bereft of support, clicked together, making a nauseating grinding noise. Bush swore loudly and bared his teeth against the pain.

Hornblower could stand no more. Despite his strong desire to appear steadfast, his stomach could no longer bear the sight. Instead of running out of the room, as was his desire, he strode up to the head of the bed, and sat facing Bush in Elizabeth’s chair. Hornblower covered his face with his hands, breathing shaky breaths between loud swallows and nauseated coughs. Once calmed, he felt a hand touch his own, and lifted his head.

The hand belonged to Bush, who was sheet-white with pain and apprehension. “Are you… are you all right, sir?” Bush whispered, his voice catching and rising an octave after a particularly painful move of his leg.

Hornblower placed his hand on Bush’s and squeezed tightly. At that moment, Hornblower no longer cared why Bush had so desired to reject his company. He would ask Bush later, no doubt, given his own insecurities, pride, and paranoia, but for the moment, it made no matter. “Is that not a question I should be asking you, Mister Bush?”

“Yes, I… suppose it is, but I am not the one who… looks as green as a certain midshipman did his first day aboard ship.”

Hornblower gave a single chuckle through his nose. “I do not think I will ever live that down, will I?”

“I do not know, sir. I… was never on… the Justinian. I wasn’t there… but you know how reputations go.”

“Yes, Mister Bush. Yes, I do.” Hornblower fell silent.

“I can only pray that mine has not been tarnished by events of late. I should… hate the indignity to have been known as the lieutenant who was ordered to be carried below decks when his ship was… captured.” Regardless of Bush’s wistfulness, Hornblower knew full well then and there that such was the source of Bush’s resentment.

Resentment well deserved, Hornblower thought, and which shall be remedied in spades.

The surgeon stood at the foot of Bush’s bed, his hands folded. The assistant stood to his right near the instrument table, and Elizabeth to his left, placing a large copper basin on the floor beneath Bush’s wounded leg. “Siamo aspettiamo, signori. Signore Bush?”

“What did he say, Horatio?” Bush breathed, his voice a staccato, reedy whisper.

“He said, they’re ready to begin.” Elizabeth interpreted, and nodded to the two other men. “These men, William -- they are Henri and Jacques. They will be holding you down. Please, do not give them a difficult time.” She smiled sympathetically. “I have saved some brandy, and I have it at the ready for you should you wish to have it.”

Bush glared back and forth between the French soldiers, eyeing them, Hornblower thought, as if challenging them to force him otherwise. “No, thank you.” Bush answered, satisfied.

“Are you certain?” Hornblower asked.

 “Yes, I am certain.”

“You are a pigheaded fool, Mister Bush. I think you should at least have a drink or two to dull…”

 “Is that an order, sir?”

Hornblower shook his head and sighed. “No, Mister Bush, it is not. It should be, but it is not.”

“Duly noted, then, Captain, sir.” Bush knuckled his forehead in salute. “But, I will not have these Frog lubbers think less of England for the sight of weakness in one of her officers,” he hissed through clenched teeth. “Now, give me something to bite on, and get on with it.”

The soldiers moved into place. One snaked his arms around Bush from behind, pinioning Bush’s arms back by the shoulders against his muscular body, and trapping Bush’s head facing upwards with his free hands. The other placed both hands on Bush’s good leg, forcing all of his weight downwards, holding it in place. The student stationed himself over Bush’s other leg, preparing to force his weight down upon it.

Bush suddenly grunted, pushing against the binding of his upper body, and his eyes went wild. He thrashed his head violently from side to side. “Let… me… loose, damn you!” he ordered. “Christ, I want… to … see… need to… want to … see…,” Bush growled. “You goddamned Frog, let go of me!” His voice echoed for eternity, it seemed.

“Qu'il permette qu'il regarde son ami, Jacques,” Elizabeth intervened, quietly, “il a besoin de lui.” She then addressed Bush. “You wish to see, to talk with Horatio, correct, William? During this procedure? As a distraction?”

Bush nodded, and Jacques immediately loosened his grip on Bush’s forehead. Bush turned toward Hornblower. “Stay with me, sir… Horatio. Stay with me.”

Hornblower leaned in close, and laid his hand gently against Bush’s face. With the same hand, he gingerly massaged open Bush’s jaw, and when Bush complied, Hornblower fixed a wooden bite-stick, slowly closing it between his friend’s teeth.

Elizabeth is right. Formalities be damned.

“I will stay with you through hell or high water, William. Through hell or high water.”

The Italian surgeon turned to his assistant and held out an expectant hand. “Vincenzo, diami il tourniquet, per favore.”

Rest, Captain Hornblower, It’s All Over Now.

The surgeon muttered and barked orders in Italian to his assistants while examining Bush’s leg, which was now bound in a metal tourniquet. Hornblower noticed with apprehension that the flesh downstream of the binding was turning a horrid purple. While Hornblower was desperately curious to know what the man was saying, he was too focused on Bush to occupy his mind with translating the words.

Moreover, Hornblower was uncertain whether he wished to watch the procedure occurring at the foot of the bed, or keep his eyes turned toward Bush’s face, positioned at the head. Although, deep down, Hornblower knew he likely could not stomach the sight of an amputation, still, the thought of it carried a morbid draw – like the fascination in watching a rated frigate slowly toss and sink beneath the waves.

All being said, and knowing Bush’s needs, Hornblower decided it would be best to keep his mind on his friend, to be the diversion that Bush would need over the next few minutes. Bush’s face was taut in his attempts to appear under control and fearless. However, the rapid blinking of his eyes, and curling inward of his lips gave away Bush’s real feelings.

From behind, Hornblower heard the unmistakeable scrape of a metal blade being lifted from a wooden table. Bush heard the same, Hornblower knew, for at that very moment, Bush’s façade crumbled. He gasped and swallowed against the bite-stick, and his breaths, pushed through his nose, became short and fast.

Elizabeth laid a gentle hand on Hornblower’s shoulder and peered kindheartedly into Bush’s eyes. “Aldafieri is going to make the first cuts, now William. I wish I could say it will not be painful.”

 Bush nodded rapidly, the look in his eyes saying, “get on with it.”

Hornblower chanced a look behind him and saw the surgeon, positioned between Bush’s legs, skillfully clutching the long, curved blade in his right hand, and holding a portion of Bush’s leg with his left, as if, Hornblower thought, he were making ready to carve a roast duck or slice a sausage. For a moment, Hornblower’s world slowed as he watched, his stomach lurching like the roll and toss of a sloop-of-war. It seemed an eon before the surgeon felled the blade against Bush’s leg and made the first cut. As he did so, the knife squelched deep into Bush’s skin and flesh, spilling and spurting out copious amounts of bright-red blood onto the gray bedsheets while the surgeon undertook a practiced series of turns and curves within.

Hornblower’s attention was snapped back to Bush by a bloodcurdling, horrific scream. In all of his time in the Navy, Hornblower had heard shrieks such as these from a distance, but had never seen the source of one until now – and the source of this particular scream terrified him. What was worse, the source of that scream was Bush, and it struck Hornblower deep with the knowing of it, the knowing of how, and the knowing of why.

For the third time that day, Hornblower fought back tears, this time upon seeing the frightfully contorted and nearly unrecognizeable mask of pain that became Bush’s face – eyes screwed shut, lips drawn back, teeth bared, forehead and eyebrows showing deep furrows. Hornblower blinked furiously and couldn’t help but whimper slightly on an exhaled breath.

It’s no good me standing here and of no use, Hornblower thought, and resolved himself to serve his purpose there – to help Bush through this ordeal. Hornblower bent over and tented his upper body over Bush so that they were nearly nose-to-nose. “Look at me, Bush,” he ordered, “you must look at me.”

Bush opened his eyes, connecting with Hornblower’s right at the moment when the surgeon made the second cut – the one separating Bush’s skin from muscle. Bush growled and moaned deeply with this cut, his eyes rolling, blinking and lolling back into his head with the renewed pain. Bush suddenly turned wavecap white and his face went slack. “He’s going to pass out, Elizabeth.”

“Let him, Horatio,” Elizabeth said, “it would be a blessing for him if he did.”

Bush did not faint, but opened his eyes again, again fixing his glassy blues on Hornblower. “Still with us, Mister Bush?”

Bush nodded, his breaths still ragged. Yet, he managed to attempt a small, wan, smile. “It… hurts,” he said, his words practically unintelligble from the impediment of the bite-stick.

Before Hornblower could retort with, “that is the year’s best understatement, Mister Bush,” Bush tensed, threw his head back, and moaned anew. Hornblower looked down the bed to see that the surgeon was now pushing and pulling the intricate saw back and forth across a great, bloody chasm rent into Bush’s leg. Hornblower’s stomach flipped and jolted, and, set on staying conscious himself, he turned back to Bush. “It is nearly over, William. Nearly over now. Just hold on. Just keep looking at me, please.”

As the saw cut through the small bone, and slipped down to begin eating away at the larger, Bush thrashed his arms wildly against the new intensity of the pain. The soldier instinctively tightened his grip on Bush’s shoulders. Seeing no other alternative, Hornblower grasped both of Bush’s arms and pinned them down against Bush’s sides. This action elicited an icy, hate-filled stare and a severely garbled, “get the ‘ell off me, H’rnbl’er,” from Bush.

“I will not.” Hornblower matched Bush’s stare with a determined one of his own. “I will not allow you to injure yourself further, now… stay… still!” Bush struggled mightily against Hornblower and the Frenchman, alternating between ear-splitting yells, mangled and jumbled swearing through the bite-stick, and vicious growling for what seemed to Hornblower an eternity.

Suddenly, then, at the tail-end of one rather protracted scream, Bush went stock-still. Hornblower felt any resistance or stiffness in Bush’s body dissipate and die.

“I believe he has had enough, Horatio,” said Elizabeth, gently drawing Hornblower back off of Bush’s body. “He has had enough.”

Without Bush’s screams, mumbled oaths, and blasphemies filling the room, Hornblower, despite the sound of his own heavy breaths, could hear the distinctive “pop” of the saw finishing its cut through Bush’s leg bones, and then a rhythmic “drip, drip, drip” of blood from the table trickling into the copper basin below. He turned just in time to watch the student lift the amputated end of Bush’s leg from the table and unceremoniously heft it into the copper basin, causing the blood therein to slosh and splash in a gruesome display. The student wiped his hands against his brown leather apron, which was already slick and glistening with blood and splattered with bits of red and black flesh. The surgeon’s apron, hands, and even his blonde hair were equally bedecked in gore, such that Hornblower fancied him not unlike a meat butcher.

At this thought, Hornblower sucked in a breath and, without realizing, held it. He was still in shock, still watching the surgeon, who was now weaving a needle and thread deftly through Bush’s flesh. After a moment, he teetered perilously, his eyes losing focus, and his hands starting to tingle.

Elizabeth, who had been mopping sweat from Bush’s brow, saw Hornblower’s state, and rushed to his side, guiding him down into the chair where he, himself, fainted dead away.

“The great Captain Horatio Hornblower of His Brittanic Majesty’s Navy,” Elizabeth laughed. “Rest now, you and William both need it.” She picked up Hornblower’s dangling hands and placed them gingerly across his chest. “Rest, Captain Hornblower, it’s all over now.”

I Will Not Have You Wake Again In This State, Bush. I Will Not.

Hornblower sat on the edge of Elizabeth’s chair, his crossed arms resting on Bush’s bed and his chin resting on his arms. He had sat there for nearly an hour, staring alternately between Bush’s placid, slumbering face and the now-darkening bloodstain at the opposite end of the bed. He worked the familiar length of black ribbon in his right hand, calming himself with the movement and the feel of the silk against the tips of his fingers.

The words, “Leave me on deck! Let go of me, you dogs!” echoed over and over in his mind, accompanied by the memory of his own, brusque order, “take him away.” Take him away…Dear God, did I really say that? Take… him… take… Bush… away. Away. Hornblower shook his head in self-disgust. Inattentive, dismissive, horrible and rude to even the best of your friends, aren’t you, Horatio?

“It was all my fault, William,” Horatio whispered. “All of it, and I am sorry.” Hornblower glanced around the room. “What do we do now, William?” Hornblower laughed. “Not a question I thought I’d ever be asking of you, of all people, my simple friend.” He let his head loll to one side. “Just look at the mangle I’ve gotten us into – a mangle from which I promise we will recover -- somehow.”

Bush continued in a twilight sleep, induced hours ago after Hornblower had fed him a bowl of lukewarm broth -- broth which Elizabeth had laced with a dose of laudanum. As Hornblower had spooned the onion-scented soup into his friend’s mouth, he could not help but remember the assistant’s words, “We have ways to, how do you say – sneak -- small doses…”

Hornblower lifted his arms from the bed, rested his elbows upon his knees, and cupped his head in his folded hands, the thumb of his right hand rubbing absentmindedly against his lower lip. The room, save for Bush, was quiet and empty, the light from the window waning into the oncoming darkness of the French night. Hornblower looked up again at his comrade, Bush’s angluar face casting long, harsh shadows in reflection of the orange and pink sunset sky.

Hornblower sighed and rose to light a candle on the other side of Bush’s bed. As he did so, he again noticed Bush’s long, dark curls cascading helplessly and untamed against the white nightshirt and Bush’s damp skin. “This will not do,” Hornblower muttered, lifting a wayward strand off of Bush’s neck, allowing the curl to wind around his index finger, “this will not do at all.”

He lit a candle, placed it on the side table, pulled up a chair, and sat down. As Bush was facing the other direction, Hornblower had perfect access to the nape of Bush’s neck. “I will not have you wake again in this state, Lieutenant Bush. I will not.”

With that promise made, Hornblower gathered Bush’s hair in his hand, and combed through it with the fingers of his other. He divided the locks into three and began braiding, making a tight cable weave from Bush’s scalp, down to the flipped-up ends of the forming queue. Satisfied, he held the braid fast in his left hand, and with his right, reached across the bed and gathered up the black ribbon he had left there.

Slowly, and deftly, Hornblower began the time-worn ritual of wrapping Bush’s braided hair into a seaman’s queue, finishing it with a small, skilfully knotted bow, as he had done so many times in the past. Only, this time, Bush did not squirm as was his wont. Bush did not try and turn his head to follow the path of a wayward midshipman, thereby ruining Hornblower’s handiwork. He did not curse whenever Hornblower pulled his hair too tightly or yanked out a strand or two with the braid. He did not reach his hand behind to criticize the tautness of the queue or the neatness of the wrap. In fact, this time, Bush did nothing. Bush was silent.

Hornblower placed Bush’s finished queue gingerly back against the bed, satisfied with his work. Yet, there was something sadly missing, very sadly missing – something, Hornblower knew, that would never be the same -- and Hornblower’s heart broke with the realization of it.

This time, when he felt the bitter sting of tears behind his eyes, Hornblower let them flow unbound and unconstrained.

*fin*


linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: whochick
2006-01-25 11:24 pm (UTC)
Absolutely gruesome and poetic at the same time. I don't know how you did it ... I had to abandon the rest of my breakfast while reading, and that's saying something since I'm a nurse!
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From: iansmomesq
2006-01-25 11:41 pm (UTC)
Then my work here is done.

Seriously, thank you. From a habitual ficcer such as yourself that is a big compliment. Big one. Huge. And much appreciated.
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[User Picture]From: caudebac
2006-01-25 11:34 pm (UTC)
Absolutely gorgeous. One of the most beautiful fics ever. I mean, I seriously can't form a review that does this justice.

(I'll so glad I bought Ship of the Line and Flying Colours today. I have a feeling I'll be rereading them shortly.)
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From: iansmomesq
2006-01-25 11:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!!! *squooshes you*
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[User Picture]From: wee_mango
2006-01-25 11:45 pm (UTC)
*applause*

Lovely - great stuff! :D More more! :p ;) William + Horatio = OTP.

:)
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From: iansmomesq
2006-01-26 02:15 am (UTC)
I'm ficced out for a while, LOL. ;)
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[User Picture]From: westdean
2006-01-26 12:10 am (UTC)
Absolutely terrific. Enjoyed that so much - a missing scene that has cried out to be written.
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From: iansmomesq
2006-01-26 02:16 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! Now you write one, LOL!!!
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[User Picture]From: lindsaygirl58
2006-01-26 12:33 am (UTC)
Wow, Jenn, wowwww!!!

Gawd, that was hard to read but I enjoyed every minute of it.
I think I need that brandy now.

That was a beautiful job. Thank you.
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From: iansmomesq
2006-01-26 02:17 am (UTC)
Thank you, Karin! And thank you for posting this over at bushblower. You're a great friend. Sorry it was hard to write, but it had to be done that way at least in my estimation.

Yeah, I need a few brandies now. ;)
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[User Picture]From: black_hound
2006-01-26 03:30 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing this, madame! *raises tricorne in salute & gratitude*

Hornblower let them flow unbound and unconstrained.

That is the line that really does it for me as it references in my head the unbinding of Bush's hair, which I found to be symbolic of Bush being unbound physically and spiritually. So it all wrapped around itself and fit together as a whole.

And HH rewrapping his queue was in some way a hope that everything else could be bound up as well and made the way it once was.

:)
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From: iansmomesq
2006-01-26 03:48 am (UTC)
You are so absofrickinlutely welcome. Just don't do that to me evar again. *grin*

And HH rewrapping his queue was in some way a hope that everything else could be bound up as well and made the way it once was.

I like the way you put that. Yes, that's the effect I was going for, but not so much in those words -- not so thought out as that *g*. I wrote this in two days, remember? :)

Hornblower was the cause of enough indignity to Bush, between getting him into the scrape in the first place, to ordering him below, to taking him out of the battle, and then ultimately to the ultimate sacrelige of getting his leg chopped off.

The queue was the one shred of dignity, shred of pride, Hornblower could have given back to Bush right then and there. Bush was so fastidious, that to have the queue undone bothered Hornblower in lieu.

If I didn't think it too cheesy, I would have had Hornblower remove his uniform jacket and place it on Bush. ;) See, everything about Bush as a naval officer was stripped away coming off the Sutherland -- Hornblower had to put something back to make the man "Bush" again.

And it's not only Bush being unbound. It's Hornblower as well.

Gah... I've blathered on. Thank you so much again for all of your help. You're a true friend, Hound. Really.

*glomps you*
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[User Picture]From: quigonejinn
2006-01-26 06:14 am (UTC)
I'm glad that you continued and followed up with this -- loveliness of seeing Bush at this point at his life aside, it was just nice to see how this played out what with the AUUUGH WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT and BUSH ISN'T REALLY GOING TO REFUSETO SPEAK TO HIS BOYFRIEND, IS HE?

Thank you. <3
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From: iansmomesq
2006-01-26 06:52 pm (UTC)
OMG you crack me up! :) Of COURSE Bush wouldn't be able to stay away from Horry for long, you know that... they're such soulmates those two. *grin*

Glad you liked.
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From: iansmomesq
2006-01-26 06:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you... means a lot. Here -- I'll pass the muse on to you. I'm done with her for now. I want some more Christmas fic so here... *passes muse* Take her and run! Run!!! *grin*
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[User Picture]From: dastier
2006-01-27 01:06 am (UTC)
aha, part 2, great!

by placing Hornblower nearby, you've given Bush more mercy than was ever present in the book canon, and right when he must have needed it most. while thinking how Forester might have pictured that gap in the plotline after the surrender of the Sutherland,i was always grimly sure he'd have placed HH somewhere in the distance, devoting most of his thoughts to the unlucky ship and just a passing note to what was happening to Bush - among other survivors. you've written it the way it should be.

from this part, which was thoroughly enjoyed on the whole, my fave are two scenes - where Bush's limb is uncovered [>:)] and of course, the braiding scene. awww :))
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From: iansmomesq
2006-01-27 03:27 am (UTC)
by placing Hornblower nearby, you've given Bush more mercy than was ever present in the book canon, and right when he must have needed it most

I agree, and I also agree that there is likely no way Forester would have written it this way. That's the way Hornblower is, actually, I mean, look at the way he treated Maria. ;)

you've written it the way it should be.

Thank you so much!!! Truly, too, I didn't want to make this one a re-hash of the brilliant work you did on yours. Plus, as much as I love Bush, I saw a real challenge in writing Hornblower and snatched it up. He tuckered me out something fierce, but hey. You do what the muse tells you, LOL.

Thanks for the feedback. As I've said before, it means a LOT!!!

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[User Picture]From: quietcontrary
2006-01-29 01:13 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry for taking so long to reply! I read this soon after you posted, but I was at a public computer and didn't have time to write out the reply that this deserved :)

I love the emotion and the symbolism of this piece! The descriptions of Bush's leg are somewhere in between amazing and grotesque, which is just perfect. This bit particularly got to me:

Bush’s leg shook with pain and nerves, causing some of the exposed muscle to quiver and shake involuntarily in a gruesome display of the workings of the human body. Bush’s disconnected muscle, searching for a limb to move, reminded Hornblower sadly of a flying fish stranded on the Sutherland’s quarterdeck -- flailing and tossing -- desperate for re-connection with the sea.

You combine gruesome and poetic in the same sentence! The depictions of the pain and the image of the amputation were so vivid and I think it makes the undoing of Bush work very well. He's always such an unphased character and yet he must have been brought close to breaking with the amputation.

I especially like Hornblower redoing Bush's queue, because it symbolises so much - Hornblower's care for Bush, the fact that he can only express it through something that he can pretend to be duty, the breaking and healing of Bush.

And a few squee!moments:

“Are you… are you all right, sir?” Bush whispered HAH! Because no matter how hurt and furious Bush is, he really does care for Hornblower desite himself!

“It… hurts,” This just about killed me. It's such a simple, innocent statement, almost as if Bush were a child, and I think it would have taken a lot to get thim to admit that much.

“This will not do,” Hornblower muttered, lifting a wayward strand off of Bush’s neck, allowing the curl to wind around his index finger Dude. Curls + hand!porn? *melt* Seriously, if I had a picture of a curl of Bush's hair wrapped around Hornblower's finger I would get it framed and mounted! Lovelovelove the image!

Dare I ask for an encore? *g*
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From: iansmomesq
2006-01-29 07:04 pm (UTC)
The descriptions of Bush's leg are somewhere in between amazing and grotesque, which is just perfect.

Thanks. I wanted to try and avoid the gross out for the gross out's sake, know what I mean? Hope it worked. There had to be a purpose behind the blood and gore, in my estimation.

...it makes the undoing of Bush work very well. He's always such an unphased character and yet he must have been brought close to breaking with the amputation.

Yeah, I had basically two choices... either leave him very stolid through it (like dastier did so amazingly brilliantly); or have him come undone. I don't think the friendship part of the story would have had the same impact if he had not lost it. Also, I think the opium he had earlier combined with his sheer exhaustion probably set up to break him down rather nicely. ;)

I especially like Hornblower redoing Bush's queue, because it symbolises so much

Thank you. It was fun to write that part, and it was something I'd been thinking about for a while.

“It… hurts,” This just about killed me. It's such a simple, innocent statement, almost as if Bush were a child...

I was looking to this to be more of Bush trying to inject some humor into the horrible situation (thus the wan smile) and failing miserably. The more I look at it though, it seems very un-Bush to be this sardonic. ;)

Dare I ask for an encore? *g*

Hee! I'm all ficced out after writing Horatio! ;) He's a killer.
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