Title: The Trouble with Souls
Rating R (implied sex, and some angry words)
Word Count 788
The Trouble with Souls
Kit could never tell when it would happen. When it threatened he kept it away with distraction. He rolled to light a candle, or take a sip of wine. And often he escaped it, by diving back into carnal frolic. Thomas Walsingham never knew. He did not see. Kit did not let him see.
But today it came on so fast. They rolled apart, on the rumpled sheets, grinning and sweating, and the moment shattered. Kit came down with a thump. His body was his own poor kingdom, as it had been always. He would live and die in it. The touch of another soul was illusion, a trick of the friction. He was utterly alone. He stared up at the canopy seeing the stinging blur of the painted stars. Only bodies could touch. And that would never be enough
Walsingham had him by the hand, and looked at him with melting eyes, and said things that were breathless and delightful, and strange. Strange was bad. Kit had to pick it apart. And alone in his soul, wanted to weep.
Thomas Walsingham saw.
“What troubles thee, Kit?”
Walsingham drew his finger down the long line of Kit's spine, following the bumped declivity, to terminate on the tailbone. His hand was gentle. Kit shivered.
Kit had a question too, had not wanted to ask it. known that he would have to ask. Ignoring change in another was deadly dangerous. That had been the first lesson he'd got of any Walsingham. Learned it against his will, in France, where Francis had made him spy.
“I was thinking of your uncle.” (Francis Walsingham, dark as a moor, dark where Thomas was golden, slow to speak where Thomas was quick, repellent where Thomas was so beautiful.)
“Uncle? At a time like this?”
Thomas chuckled. It was a chuckle free of artifice. It was kind, and thought the world kind in return. Kit loved him the more for it, and wanted to weep.
“He made me the man I am today.”
Kit felt his mouth push forward as he said it, like an angry dog. Best not to bait him, but Tom would. Kit would have it so. Better to quarrel now than to have to ask 'why say you love me now, when you never said it before.'
“Uncle Francis is dying.” The traveling hand did not stop. Walsingham's pale eyes followed it, intent.
“Aye? I am sorry for it.” He supposed he was, or would be later.
“Scadbury is to come to me.”
“Hmm.” He sighed against the moving hand. It was somewhere so good now, and he wished he could just--
“Kit, there is more. “ The honest eyes came up to his. “I must tell you, I am to marry.”
“Two weeks. I – no, it's all right. Kit, don't get up.”
But he was up, and dressing, at speed. His clothes were all around the room, draped on furniture, cowering under the bed. He was shaking. He wanted his skin covered.
Walsingham, naked, lovely, must have felt the same. He pulled the blankets up.
“It happens, you know. It doesn't have to mean--”
He stood now, dressed. Covered. He stood facing away from the bed.
“What is her name?” As if it mattered.
“Audrey. She is good, sensible, I have known her for years. And Uncle Francis thinks--”
“He thinks you should marry, and stay here, and have the running of Scadbury, and an easy life, and-- and children, and be--”
“No, he thinks--”
“He thinks you should not be sharing your bed with a sodomite, a spy-- and it was he who made me a spy--” Kit gave a bitter laugh.
And as Walsingham drew breath to reply, Kit rode over him. “And worst of all, a cobbler's son.”
“No! That is what he thinks, and you--”
“Yes, it is. You do. I am unsuitable.” He made the word drip with filth.
“Yes, for God's sake, you should have told me sooner. Before they were reading the banns.”
“I didn't want to hurt you, loose you.”
“Well. You have.”
He was not going back to London tonight. He would leave in the morning. And he was damned if he would weep like an idiot. He should have seen this coming. He closed the door to Walsingham's chamber quietly. But he slammed the door of the guest chamber with great force.