Hornblower would never ask; too proud as a captain to abuse his command, and too diffident and graceless as a man to dare the subject. These qualities are inextricable from him; it would never have occurred to Bush to attempt to coax him out of them. And yet he sees his captain— Horatio, when it is only they in the quiet of his cabin; he knows the twitch of his fine long fingers, the darkness of his keen eyes, the want in his mouth which he swallows back, contenting himself with quick hands and quicker breaths and pretending he does not see the earnest devotion in Bush’s face.
So when Bush drops to his knees before Hornblower it is as a gift— not that Bush would think of it that way, not that he has anything to give to Hornblower that is not simply what he deserves. It startles a William! from those wanting lips, shocked into using Bush’s Christian name, but Bush merely smiles and sets his rough hands to the placket of Hornblower’s trousers.
In this he has skill, though no finesse, but skill is sufficient. Hornblower makes a sharp, high noise, and his fingers spasm in the air, still unwilling to take what is given until Bush pulls back, takes Hornblower’s fine fingers in his blunt ones and guides them to his head. They clench in sweaty curls. I’ll not break, says Bush, and returns his mouth to Hornblower’s prick. He’s had whores and even some sailors who would doubtless make an art of it, but Bush is Bush. He is a great, blunt ox of a man, curled kneeling here at the feet of his captain, hectic cheeks and white knuckles, pale and thin and trembling as Bush sucks for all he’s worth.
When Horatio finishes, it is with a gasp like he’s been struck, and he loses his sea legs to fold down to the deck, kneeling now with Bush and breathing hard. With his eyes bright and his mouth wet, Bush smiles at him, and is content with Hornblower’s hand in return.