Oh, The Places You'll Go

Consummate Desire

Notes: This is the third fic in the Allegoriverse. The first two are Ramble On and Further On Up the Road. You can read this without those, but you'll get a better sense of the 'verse if you read them first. Thumbs up provided by mrs_laugh_track.


Wat's hair slips wet through Chaucer's fingers as he combs it assiduously for lice. Man'd been scratching all day and as soon as the last customer had taken his rowdy leave, Chaucer'd grabbed Wat by the tunic, dragging him outside and shoving his head into the rain barrel. Wat had spluttered and fought (of course) and Chaucer had been drenched to the bone, but an amused, "Cease wailing, you idiot. Do you want your patrons to complain about nits in the beer?" had quietened him right enough. There had been some bubbled attempt at a response which Chaucer chose to translate as, "You're on the mark, as usual, you celestial spark of genius," though it was far more likely to be, "It's meat they don't have to pay for," but after that Wat had been meek as a lamb.

He'd submitted to Chaucer scrubbing at his head and then allowed himself to be led upstairs and disrobed (it was a warm night, the tunic would dry fast enough to be used the next day), before being seated on the floor at the foot of the bed. Chaucer had stripped off his own wet clothes and rummaged in his satchel until he'd found a wooden comb.

So now here they sit in a halo of candlelight, naked as the day they were born, Wat wedged between Chaucer's legs, one hand curling to grip a bony ankle, as Chaucer splits and parts and sorts and hunts. It's a soothing, repetitive job, Wat is pliant and quiet, and Chaucer is lost in his own thoughts, words coiling around words in metered verse, splitting and parting and joining, just like Wat's hair. Chaucer thinks he could write a hundred lines on Wat's hair. A thousand. Wat's cheek brushes the inside of Chaucer's thigh and he hums tunelessly. The words in Chaucer's head stutter to a standstill as he thinks there should be more nights like these and, for a moment, he is gone, before he upbraids himself for wanting more than he can have.

"I think I'll marry Kate," says Wat.

And Chaucer says, "Hmmmm, what?"

"I think I'll marry Kate," says Wat again and this time Chaucer is dumbstruck.

His hands twist and the comb catches and Wat yells and Chaucer says,

"You can't."

At least, he thinks that's what he says but his voice sounds strange and he isn't sure he recognizes it.

"Um. Yeah, I think you'll find I can. She'll have the protection of my name and I'll have the protection of her, herness, and it'll be good."

Wat's hand is still warm on Chaucer's ankle and it's disconcerting. It's making Chaucer's head spin because Wat's hand is warm on his ankle and Wat's mouth is pledging allegiance to Kate and the world has stopped making sense.

The sun will not follow the moon unless-

"How do you know she wants your protection? Our blacksmith has managed perfectly well without it so far." He can't say her name. He likes her name – Kate, Kate, Katherine, not broken by the wheel, strong and true and blood like milk. Fuck.

"Stands to reason, don't it? If people think she's got no backup they'll rip her off. She's going far, is our Kate, with her armour and that. Needs to show 'em who's boss. Them nobles they got no shame. Save William."

Chaucer thinks he'll try incredulous. That sounds akin to what he should be feeling.

"Show them who's boss by being married to you?"

"Yeah, why not?" Wat is only slightly testy. "Got a business, haven't I? Running a tavern, successful and all. Got stature now. Got class. Well, got respect. They won't mess with my wife, not if they know what's good for 'em."

The cramp Chaucer feels in his gut must be a result of the pie he ate at supper. He has to squeeze his next question past clenched teeth. "And will you get children on her?"

Wat cocks his head to the side, considering, and his still-damp hair brushes against Chaucer's skin. It's cool and soft and Chaucer's hands resume their task without thinking.

"Dunno," says Wat, thoughtful. "Dunno if she wants 'em. Will if she does. Do my duty as a husband and that. And it'd be good to have someone to leave this place to. Someone that's not my arsewipe of a brother and his flamin' brood of hellions."

"You can't sleep with her." Chaucer is affronted, alarmed, appalled. Many, many emotions beginning with A. He wants to giggle. His hands tighten on Wat's head.

Wat is angry now, pulling away from Chaucer's hands, yelling as he leaves hair behind, caught in the wooden comb. He's on his feet and Chaucer is too; he won't be overwhelmed by Wat's rage, not when he has a deep well of his own to dip into.

"Don't you give me that bollocks, you arsehole! You've got a wife. You've got children, don't matter how much I pretend they don't exist. What's so special about you that I don't get the same rights?

Chaucer blusters some pathetic response that even he is not listening to. Wat's right. Of course he is, but this is new, this unutterable jealousy, and the snakes writhe inside him and tumble the images behind his eyes – Wat slipping Kate's nightgown down over one pale shoulder, Kate lifting her face to meet Wat's lips, the two of them joined and rutting, wild and sweat-drenched in this bed, in theirbed.

Chaucer scrubs at his face, desperate to chase the pictures away.

He says, "I can't."

He says, "It's different.

He says, "I didn't marry for love, Wat, that's not how it works. I didn't have children because I wanted to dandle my little self on my knee. In my world children are for advancement, a parent's, a child's, a family's. It's a chess game, each pawn delicately placed to best advantage. I love my children for duty and for gain and I do not love them for themselves." He's almost sure that's true. He sighs. "It's different. I am a bad man and you shouldn't love me." He rubs the back of his neck, tipping his head down and looking up through his eyelashes.

Wat is seething under, Chaucer knows. He can feel the heat roll off him as he steps close, closer, closest.

"But I do, don't I, Geoff? You took my legs out from under me-" he hooks a leg around Chaucer's and pulls, Chaucer falling, helpless, on to the bed, "-with your words and the way you looked at me, like you was – I don't know – daring me to play with fire or something." Hands drop, either side of Chaucer's knees, swift and heavy. He is the crawling serpent. "And then you gave me this, your body-" Wet tongue draws trails like ink. "-to do whatever I wanted with." Kisses silk and kisses damask, kisses deep, dark velvet. "And you never once." Thrust and heat: the shock of connection. "Stopped." Thrust and parry, this time. "Pushing." Nothing.

Chaucer pushes up, searching again for that connection, but it has gone; Wat is scrambling off and away. Chaucer struggles to his elbows. "Wat," he growls, drawing out the name, long and dangerous. He's only too aware of his vulnerability, prick bobbing above his stomach like a lure on a fishing line, chest lying open with his beating heart ready for the taking.

"I'm not stupid," says Wat, and he paces the small room; a lion caged. "I know yours is a different world to mine. I don't understand fine court manners and I don't care to. I have you when I have you and I would be lying if I said it was enough." He stops his pacing and faces Chaucer, wrapping his arms around himself. "Some nights I lie there and my bones creak from having nothing to hold. So do me a favour, Geoff, don't begrudge me keeping warm in my bed while you're away, if that's what Kate wants to do. Her heart is keeping company at her dead husband's grave, and mine is wherever you are, and you know it. What harm can it do to give ourselves a little comfort when the cold sets in?"

It's an absurd sight, the naked man, prick still purpled-angry, whose eyes are pleading and his smile doesn't reach them.

Chaucer's heart is squeezed so hard he can feel it beat in his throat. It will only take a little more pressure to burst it entirely.

And then Wat's face shifts and his eyes crinkle. "And if you came home unexpected, like, to find her there, you could always join us." He leers.

Chaucer shakes his head, closing his eyes to see again the images of Wat and Kate together, only this time, there is a third set of hands, a dry voice saying, "Oh come now, Master Fowlehurst, that's no way to treat a lady," and Kate's giggled, "I don't know where to look."

It's not what he wants.

It could be what he wants.

Chaucer laughs, rueful. He's sore and beaten. "I want what you want," he says. He's almost sure that's true.

"Really?" Wat brightens.

"Really."

"Well. Good, then." Wat loses no time in climbing back on top of Chaucer – for which Chaucer's prick is entirely too grateful – and sets to kissing him thoroughly.

Chaucer's hands find Wat's hair; it still holds traces of water and slides through his fingers like silk. It slips from his grasp and he curls his fingers, twisting the strands between them. He holds on.

Wat grinds his hips against Chaucer's, the weight of him and the scrape of his rough hair against Chaucer's prick sending ripples of pleasure across Chaucer's skin.

"What, Wat?" he mutters into Wat's ear, nosing at his temple.

"You want what I want, and I want to fuck you so hard you feel it with every rise and fall of your horse's hooves tomorrow. So when you make your bow to the king you can still feel my mark on you." Wat's voice is a rock wrapped in velvet and Chaucer can't get his breath. He pulls Wat's head down to his neck instead, letting Wat taste the musty savour of him, half desire, half panic.

"I want that," he manages to say. And then, because he doesn't know when to stop, "You're probably going to need to wash before your marriage proposal. I merely offer this as a piece of friendly advice."

"Got that covered," says Wat against Chaucer's throat. "Shut up, now."

Chaucer considers everything he could say, everything he wants to say, everything he won't, and says, "Make me".


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