Oh, The Places You'll Go

This is the Road to Ruin

Notes: So you know the bit where Wat says, "This is the road to Rouen, isn't it?" Yeah, well it doesn't sound like that to me. Oh, Alan Tudyk, your accent is so helpfully variable. mrs_laugh_track provided the thumbs up (there was some stuff about super glue there for a while, but don't let that concern you). *smishes her*

Roland knows it from the start, that Geoffrey prefers the company of men (though the siren song of women can still charm him onto the rocks, particularly if he is in his cups). Roland knows it, and Geoffrey knows he knows it. Geoffrey knows too that Roland thinks it must be William that gladdens his eye, and it should be — golden-haired and golden-hearted, Will is an Adonis amongst men – but Truth is a strange beast and one that shapes Geoffrey as much as he shapes it. It is not William. It is not his lord.

Because when Wat says, "This is the road to Rouen, isn't it?", Geoffrey hears, "This is the road to ruin," and, as he sits on the prickly grass in the nakedness God granted him, he's never been more sure of anything; the squire is right.

Love at first sight is for courtiers and kings, languid ladies and greenwood youths barely breeched. It is for the tongue curling around the sweet, soft syllables of French, the language of romance, words looping in chains of pearls around a lover's neck or woven into tokens worn against the heart. This is not that. This is desire and need, the impulse to take and possess not for love, but for satisfaction. This is for the bluntness of flattened vowels and the rough familiarity of the common tongue, for tacit agreements and silent assignations in spaces veiled in shadow.

This is what he feels in the space between two heartbeats when his tongue is already running ahead with ways in which he can become entangled with this eccentric and merry band. They can save him, he thinks, looking at Will, the sun setting a halo to his hair as he considers Geoffrey's fate. Or they can aid in his destruction, he thinks, as the squire spits brimstone and beckons him to Hell, fiery locks blazing in the light. Geoffrey concentrates on the words and ignores the tug of desire a half-seen chest and unfettered passion provokes within him. He's long past the early blush of youth and well able to subdue impending embarrassment. It would be best if the clothes came quickly, however.

This is the road to ruin.
This is the road to ruin.
This is the road to ruin.
And his heart's as light as air.

It's a waiting game, then. Geoffrey provokes and retreats, provokes and retreats until Wat can't tell what's up and what's down. William is in love and does not notice, Kate keeps her own counsel, and Roland sees but does not speak, either to approve or disapprove, though sometimes Geoffrey thinks he hears him muttering a prayer to St. Jude as Wat aims yet another blow at Geoffrey's nose and pride.

Geoffrey wants to think that misplaced desire is the root of Wat's explosions of violence. That he feels but does not understand; that he can be taught by a willing mouth, a willing hand. He wants to think this, but he does not know, and time is growing short.

Geoffrey has a gambling problem.

He waits until Wat has finished eating (Geoffrey may be a fool, but he is not such a fool) then stands, silent, letting his gaze rest on Wat as the firelight licks up his face, easily reigniting the desire which never slumbers, not these days. Wat looks up.

"What?" he says. "Have I got something on my face?" He wipes at his mouth with a sleeve.

Geoffrey smiles and shakes his head. "Come with me," he says.

"No," says Wat, putting down his plate and stretching out his legs. "Quite comfy here, thanks."

Roland seems fascinated by the sewing in his hands. "Oh, will you look at that?" Geoffrey hears him mutter, "I used gold thread where I meant for green. That's not going to look right, I'll have to unpick. That's another night gone."

Geoffrey rolls the dice. "I think I saw Sir Philip's horse stumble when she went into the stall. We can't sell her if she's lame. I thought you should take a look at her."

"Why didn't you say?" Wat jumps to his feet, outraged. "That's our passage to England sunk if we can't get rid." He lights a brand in the fire. "Head in the clouds, that's your problem. No point in your fancy words if no one's taking care of business. The horses are more important than you and don't you go forgetting that."

Geoffrey trails Wat to the stables and does not interrupt as Wat rambles on. It stings a little to hear himself so castigated, but he does not take it seriously; apparent forgetfulness doesn't make him Pontius Pilate, no matter how much Wat may protest its truth. Besides, he's busy thinking of interesting ways to shut him up.

As they reach the stables, Geoffrey takes a stride forward, taking the brand out of Wat's hand and thrusts it into a rain barrel. Wat has no time to protest before Geoffrey is hustling him inside and into an empty stall, pushing him up against the partition.

"The horse," Wat protests, but Geoffrey is casting his final throw and cuts off the sentence with a kiss.

Of course, this is when he remembers that gambling usually leads to him stripped naked before God and man (woman, too, if he isn't quick to hide), and not in the good way. His heart stops and his hands stop and time stops, too. Wat could fong him and leave him for dead, he could scream dirty Sodomite and Geoffrey would have no answer, he could insist he be cast off from Wlll's service and Geoffrey...is used to being there.

Then Wat's lips move against his and his hands are underneath Geoffrey's coat, tugging him in, and Geoffrey is pulled back to the here and now by their harsh breathing point and counterpoint to the basso beat of blood in his ears. Geoffrey pushes in, rutting against Wat's belly, like some crazed hound chasing a bitch in heat. Jesu! It would be so easy to spend, just like this. He wants more, though, and pulls away, hauling Wat round and tumbling him to the hay covered floor.

Wat's prick rubs against Geoffrey' with each thrust between Wat's legs, leaving a damp trail on his skin. Geoffrey's arms almost buckle under the weight of the knowledge that his claim is being acknowledged, his long wait over, satisfaction imminent. He rests on his forearms and lowers his head to Wat's chest, hips still moving as if controlled by a higher power. Wat's hands slip under his and then clasp them in a tight grip. Geoffrey feels something shift in his chest and then it is all over for him and he shudders out his pleasure, squeezing Wat's hands so tight he may never work out how to disentangle himself.

"Next time," he says in Wat's ear, "you're going to let me fuck you so hard you'll be begging William not to make you ride."

"Oh," says Wat in a small voice and Geoffrey feels the sharp pulses of Wat's prick and the spreading warmth between them. He bites down, just above Wat's heart. There'll be a bruise.

This is the road to ruin.
This is the road to ruin.
This is the road to ruin.
And Wat has taken him there.

Whilst around the camp lords and their ladies tryst in furred luxury, Wat and Chaucer meet 'by chance' in dark places, as if sinning out of sight were not sin at all. 'Tis but an itch that wants a scratch, at the heart of it all, Geoffrey reasons, and if these days they do not spring to their feet the moment the deed is done, if they rest against each other and murmur together as their hearts slow from their frantic beating, it is common courtesy, after all. Nothing more, nothing less.

When they reach England, their coupling intensifies. They both know their time is close to past, though neither speaks of it. William will be crowned champion and Geoffrey will return to his first lord, John of Gaunt, and these past months will be as a dream, appearing only in flashes to weigh his tongue and his pen down with words. Geoffrey must release his hold on Wat, send him off with a fare thee well, and learn to be satisfied with his wife, or the friendly sin of his own hand. Perhaps it will be a relief not to feel his blood stir every time a fist flies towards his face. Perhaps it is only the exhilaration of the sword edge they walk daily that has kept his desire so strong for such a time. It isn't as though a simple squire is a match for him, look at it how you may.

Geoffrey is a gambling man.

Against all odds, Will triumphs and they are jubilant. Wat shakes him by the shoulders and he grasps Wat's hand. It's rough and solid and Geoffrey feels the familiar tug of desire alongside a spreading warmth inside his chest. It's broad daylight but this can't wait, and while Jocelyn and William lose themselves in each other and Kate and Roland set about caring for the horse, Geoffrey beckons Wat and walks off without looking back, sure that Wat is following.

It's a dirty alley but it's the best he can do given the throngs of people in and around the stadium.

"Let me," he begs and Wat turns and braces against the wall without a word. "You'll be free of me soon enough," he says, pushing a greasy thumb into Wat. Wat makes a choked sound and his head thuds against the wattle and daub. Geoffrey is alarmed. "Did I hurt you?" he asks, stilling his thumb.

"No," says Wat, and his voice has a strange cast to it as if he is keeping from laughing. "No." He is urgent now. "Do it. Go on."

One hand splayed across Wat's chest, one wrapped around his prick, Geoffrey thrusts into him, no longer aware of the stench of rotting vegetables rising around them, nor the dinginess of their surroundings, his entire world focused on the points of contact between them, the pull and twist and burn of it. He wonders if Wat will hear the name Geoffrey Chaucer spoken years hence, if he'll think of this time, if he will ask, oh so casually, if Geoffrey has ever penned a verse about a squire named Wat. Geoffrey knows the answer will be no, because he has no idea how to put whatever this is into words. It's the only thing he's good at, and he's lost.

There are other ways to make marks, he thinks, and bends to bite hard at the nape of Wat's neck. Wat yelps and grinds down onto Geoffrey's prick.

There'll be a bruise.

"Another sin, Chaucer?" hisses a quiet voice. And God sent a serpent into the Garden.

Geoffrey spreads his coat around them both, obscuring Wat from view.

"Piss off," he says as jovially as he can manage, given the boiling fury that's rising within him. This must be how Wat feels all the time. In fact, Geoffrey can feel Wat go rigid underneath him and he whispers, "Hush," into his ear.

Simon the Summoner does not piss off, nor was Chaucer expecting him to. Under cover of the coat, he deftly restores their dignity, or, at the very least, their apparel.

"Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear," Simon says. "I do believe the bishop is taking rather a dim view of sodomy these days. It'll be the lash for your friend, there. I'm sure that you can find a way out, though, Chaucer, clever man like yourself. I could, perhaps, be persuaded to keep your name out of it for, let us say, a small wager."

Geoffrey doesn't gamble, not any more. Not when Wat's reputation, Wat's life is at stake.

He turns around and holds out his arms. "Take me," he says. "Let him go, if you have a spark of kindness within you. I forced him into it; the sin belongs entirely to me. Let the bishop do what he may, I will be thoroughly chastened, I promise you. Just leave him be."

The Summoner opens his mouth with a sneer but it changes to a round O of surprise and he crumples to the floor. Behind him stands Roland, hefting a practice sword. He nods at Geoffrey.

"Run, then," he says, conversationally.

"Thank you," Geoffrey mouths, then turns and thwacks a frozen Wat around the head, grabbing his arm as he starts to run down the alleyway. Wat springs to life and the two of them hare through the maze of streets. They don't stop until the houses give way to open countryside and then they fling themselves into the nearest ditch, out of sight. Geoffrey thinks perhaps his heart will burst and it's not simply because of the distance they have run.

"Wat," he says, finding Wat's hand and lacing their fingers together. " Il apparaît que je t'aime."

"Huh?" says Wat, and it occurs to Geoffrey that the normal rules do not apply here, and it is only his own obtuseness that has prevented him seeing it all along.

"It appears I love you," he repeats, and Wat says,

"That's good then, seeing as how we're on the run together. Might be awkward if it was only the other way round, like."

Geoffrey thinks about this for a moment, then nods sagely, lifting Wat's hand and kissing each knuckle in turn. It's the first time he's seen Wat blush.

This is the road to ruin.
This is the road to ruin.
This is the road to ruin.
And Geoffrey doesn't care.

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