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A Sharp Blade and a Steady Hand
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Story Notes:

Written in 2010.

Nixon had let himself go a few times back in the States, usually during holiday furloughs when he had the luxury of drinking and oversleeping. Winters wasn’t the one who had come up with the nickname “Blackbeard”, but he often got the credit. It seemed fitting he should, seeing as how Winters had an inexplicable dislike of beards and always kept himself smooth.

But things changed after D-Day, and Nixon became less diligent about his grooming in the following months. His unkempt appearance began to annoy Winters until finally, while billeted in Holland, he decided to do something about it.


He dragged Nix out of bed and sat him, half-asleep, in front of a washbasin. He splashed water on Nix’s face, making him squawk and complain, and lathered his chops with soap. Nix didn’t stop bellyaching until he saw Dick pick up a straight razor. Then he suddenly got quiet.

“Dick . . . ? Whadda ya think you’re—”

“Stop talking and sit still. You don’t want me to cut you. Now lean back.”

Nix swallowed dryly and did as he was commanded, leaning back against Dick’s chest and tilting his chin upward. Dick gently placed his hands on Nix’s face and began shaving.


The razor lightly scraped against Nix’s stubble, taking away beard and cream. Dick frowned in concentration, leaning forward and carefully guiding the deadly-sharp steel down Nix’s throat, over his Adam’s apple, before stropping the blade and returning for a second pass.

Despite all the possibilities of pain and blood and accidents, Nix felt no fear. The hands on his face were gentle, trustworthy, dependable, and would never, ever hurt him.

When it was over, Nix rinsed his face and patted it dry. “Thanks,” he said to Dick’s reflection in the mirror.

Dick smiled and shut the razor with a snap.

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