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what we never were after all

Chapter Text

The Fool was not particularly surprised to find Fitz had taken almost immediately to the bath — he deserved it, after all. He deserved one night to have anything he wanted. Well, any material thing: the sweet sleep tea to remove his cares, the warm pool in their room to ease his muscles and wash the dirt from his skin, the soft bed. They were all simple comforts, but the sort that Fitz had given up to come on this journey. The sort that had been taken from him, when the Fool returned into his life.

Spark had already described the layout of the room to the Fool when they had been here earlier to leave their packs, so he was aware that there was only one bed. Had not, at the time, known that he would be sharing it. But he could hear Fitz as he waded out of the water, took a towel for cursory drying, and made his way towards it. There was a heavy weariness in his step and voice, and he did not think to ask if his friend was well, handling his own dose of the sweetsleep tea, if he would find the bed— the sort of considerations Fitz always seemed to be juggling, along with awareness of his surroundings, motivations, politics. And yes, as he was currently mumbling, the heavy burdens of grief. But all his balls and burdens had been laid down, and the Fool listened as his body did the same, and was glad.

"Don't fight it, Fitz," the Fool said softly. "Don't question it. For one night, let it all go."

And, ever-trusting, Fitz heeded his words.

The Fool considered if he wanted to bathe — decided to use the shallow end to wash the grime of travel that was still on his skin, and the heavy paints of Amber's beauty from his face. But he did not spend long at it, and soon he was in a clean shift and stepping lightly to the bed. The sweetsleep had not taken him in its grip quite the way it had Fitz, but it turned the exhaustion of travel into a more manageable tiredness, and he felt perhaps he too could sleep well this night.

He climbed over Fitz' sprawled form. The mattress was warm, and gave beneath his knees — Fitz' skin was also warm and bare, and the Fool realized belatedly he must not have clothed himself after his bath. Well, it wasn't as if he had to fear his room-mate seeing his nudity, and they'd all but been inside each other's bodies. There were no physical secrets between them these days.

Though he couldn't help but wonder, imagined what that body must look like, after years of a comfortable life with Molly, after age finally started to take its toll despite his Skill's best efforts. The Fool saw with his hands now, and the urge to touch Fitz was immense — he hesitated and then settled for drawing the covers up over him, allowing his knuckles to graze the skin of Fitz' abdomen. Fitz hummed, and turned in his sleep, and flung out an arm over the Fool's body, and drew him closer.

For a shameful moment the Fool drank it in, the warmth and comfort of his touch, before he told himself — no. In sleep, Fitz was doubtlessly thinking of his wife, used to her filling the space alongside him in bed. Gingerly he started to detangle himself, but Fitz only tightened his grip, determined.

"Fool," he murmured, low and husky — so not Molly after all. Fitz knew who he was clinging to, it seemed.

"Fitz," the Fool returned, not knowing if his friend's eyes were open or closed as their bodies fitted together. It didn't matter. This, too, was a simple thing that Fitz deserved, that the Fool had stolen from his catalyst. Closeness with someone who cared for him. Soft touch. The Fool would allow it.

He accepted the feeling of a rough hand over his back, his waist, but startled when it went as low as his arse. "Bony as ever," Fitz mumbled, sounded amused by it. Squeezed what scant flesh there was, and it was so unlike him but also everything the Fool had quietly wanted for — years, now. Decades.

Fitz rolled them, then, pressed the Fool into a Rain Wilds mattress that slowly gave beneath his weight, an enveloping softness in counterpoint to the hardness of the man atop him. If he'd wondered at Fitz's body before, now he was certainly being allowed his fill of it, as it pressed naked over him. The Fool longed to explore — but this wasn't about him.

A soft grunt, and Fitz grappled at him, rolled his hips — ah, and there was another hardness, his cock filling thick. Even with the Fool's shift and leggings in the way he could feel the heat of it against his hip and thigh, and he parted his legs in invitation.

They shouldn't. He shouldn't. He knew — truly, that he shouldn't allow this. Fitz wanted it, that much was certain — with no inhibitions to hold him back it was clear that he wanted this, and he was not thinking of his late wife, whispered the Fool's name hoarsely against his neck. "Beloved," and despite the circumstances, the Fool felt as though it were true, felt as Beloved as he ever had as a child before the monstrous of Clerres had taught him self-reliance. Of course he wanted this too. Of course he did.

It would ruin both of them.

But much as Fitz had become all selfishness with the soporific, so The Fool found it difficult to truly concern himself with the futures that sprang from this moment, from Fitz' hands as they pawed at his clothes clumsily and to little avail. Bit at his neck, his shoulder, sharp bright spots of delicious pain.

The Fool did not try to take his own pleasure, did not even think of it beyond the pleasure he found in Fitz working brutally over him, almost bestial in his breath and movement. He helped to get his shift up and leggings down, enough that Fitz's thick cock found a home between his legs, and the Fool squeezed his bare thighs tight around it. Spat in his own hand and used that as slick to help ease the friction, and when his clever fingers stroked Fitz' cock he received in return the most heartfelt groans.

He dared to put his hands then to Fitz' arse, and cupped the swell of it, feeling the hair and muscle there. "Yes," he urged him, "Yes, that's it."

They moved together, with ease and familiarity. It was the kind of synchronicity found in riders and steeds who have traversed many miles together; Fitz would roll his hips, and the Fool would meet him, squeezing his thighs together, and then when Fitz pressed back into his hands he would give firm pressure there, too, or an encouraging smack, more noise than injury.

Fitz kissed hungrily at his neck, his collar. Tried to get past the restriction of his shift and tugged at the fabric with his teeth to stretch it. He had started to sweat and heave, and his noises came closer together, low heedless sounds. The Fool treasured each of them.

There were other things he would have liked to have done — to have explored more of Fitz' rough body, each scar he had taken in service to the Fool's dreams and needs. Used his mouth to give Fitz pleasure, or perhaps even allowed a true copulation instead of this quick facsimile. There were plenty of ways he had imagined taking Fitz apart over the years. But this time, their first time, all he could do was hold him. Clutch him close as Fitz shuddered his way to release, spurted hot between the Fool's legs with a rough animal noise, and then collapsed atop him.

They breathed together for some time, until Fitz' breathing slowed back to sleep. The Fool resisted the urge to succumb to the same and instead weaseled his way free of Fitz' body. Made his way back to the pool to clean himself — and to finish himself, too, a little furtive to be doing so in such a way but aware he could not return to the bed without taking care of the wild need risen up in him.

The Fool came with gritted teeth, loose hair curtained around his face, lean body bowed. After, he found an unsoiled nightshirt in his half-unpacked things — Spark always put them in the same place for him, folded them in the same way, making navigating the pack much easier — and then crawled back into the bed and curled up alongside Fitz, this time truly to sleep. He imagined that in the morning he might regret this, if they spoke of it at all, but he could not bring himself to do so now.