On the player's bed, he did not look like a prince. He looked like a grad student again, prone to poor sleeping habits and coffee binges and being roped into amateur productions of Dido whenever Priam fell in lust and Bunburied off to Wannsee. Pale, bright hair flopped adorably over his forehead. His shirt was undone and pushed wide open to display still-flushed throat and bitten nipples.
The player stood at the window. At his back the snow, which had taken a brief respite in the afternoon, fell idly down upon the lawn.
"Well?" said Hamlet. "Will it serve?"
The player turned his eyes again to the page in his hand, a page of poison for him to swallow tonight and spit out on the morrow into the ear of the King of Denmark.
"It will," said the player, and could not keep the edge of mockery from his voice as he added, "and so will I, my lord."
Hamlet looked at him. The player imagined those eyes smudged with kohl, glinting mirthful in the inadequate light of the green room, after the others had collected keys and coats and tousled off toward the Cross and Crown.
There were smudges now beneath his eyes that the player had not noticed before, as if the girl had gone at him upside-down with her box of paints.
"I came here for—" said the player, and halted. "I had thought—"
Hamlet's gaze dropped, but he stayed unkindly silent. After a moment, he rose, closing his shirt one-handed, tugging the bedclothes smooth with the other.
Three strides brought him to the window. Head still lowered, Hamlet clasped the player's shoulder, fingers digging painfully, before he turned toward the door. Abruptly stricken, the player dropped the page of lines and stretched out both hands to touch the prince, turning him round again, tugging him forward and down. Hamlet's grip on him tightened with surprise, and then intent. His mouth opened; their tongues touched, tangled. The player put all his art into the kiss, and then left all his art behind and only kissed, clumsy and desperate, because he knew an ending when he met one. Hamlet groaned softly and kissed like a man who still remembered love, but, save for hand and lips, he did not touch the player in return.
Hamlet pulled away, met his eyes and said, "Good night. My friend." Then, quick as a candle flame, he was gone.