It was as if nothing had changed. Well, in Rosencrantz's mind, perhaps nothing had. He sat on the hard ship's cot as if he were in the bed back in Elsinore, staring at a join of wood as if it were a strip of mortar. His hands were clasped firmly in his lap, however, and he gnawed on his lower lip instead of his knuckle. Any improvement should be welcomed, Guildenstern thought. "Up. Time to go." He picked his own satchel up off of his cot.
Rosencrantz looked up, with an expression on his face that was too much like that of a cur who had been kicked away from a scrap. "Is this all?"
Guildenstern nodded. Death was not a pleasant prospect. But they were, indeed, small men, not great movers of destiny, and this was, after all, a point of order. "Entropy is consuming the universe - did you know that? If our deaths buy some order, perhaps they're not so worthless after all."
"We'll never know, though," Rosencrantz sighed, casting his mournful glance on Guildenstern's satchel.
Guildenstern cocked an eyebrow. "We'll know long enough. Up until just before. Greater things than the two of us are afoot, you know." Even to himself, it sounded pompous, but he let it go. A dying man should have some latitude for hyperbole.
"That's not saying much," Rosencrantz quipped, with a wry smile.
Guildenstern sighed. "Nevertheless..."
Rosencrantz stood, having moved on with no provocation, as he always did, out of whatever black mood he had been under. "We are in England." His wry smile evened out, becoming genuine.
"So rumor has it."
A pleased, almost enthusiastic expression found its way to Rosencrantz's face, and settled in. "Different rules here, didn't you say?"
"You want to change our ending." Guildenstern tried to make his disapproval show in his crossed arms. It was not theirs to change.
Rosencrantz frowned. "Oh, no, no, not that. Just... add something, perhaps."
Guildenstern raised both eyebrows. "An aesthetic, moral, and logical conclusion?" The first, perhaps, but certainly not the latter two, he decided, as Rosencrantz leaned forward and pressed an awkward kiss to his cheek. Rosencrantz's beard scratched at Guildenstern's face, provoking a shiver. "We're not that free," he murmured.
Rosencrantz sighed, almost petulantly. "Everything else is played out. Don't we even get this?"
"Prurient melodrama? We're no better than those... lurid prostitutes with a penchant for death we left behind."
"I've had more than enough rhetoric," Rosencrantz groused. "I want some of the love before the blood. Do you really think they all expect us to be moral all of the time?" Rosencrantz put one hand on Guildenstern's hip. "We're nothing alike. Why else would they keep confusing us?"
Guildenstern opened his mouth, but nothing came out. This was a hefty elephant that Rosencrantz had caught, and he seemed, for once, to want to hang onto it. It was too meaty for Guildenstern, however, and he gummed at it and spat it out. "What will the king say?" he asked weakly.
"He'll cut off our heads for being an hour late."
Guildenstern inclined his head. "Point."
"It'll put a spoke in their wheel."
"Unless they're expecting it."
"Then we really should. We're little men, after all, mustn't change the script..."
Guildenstern could think of no rebuttal, and so simply closed his eyes as lips descended onto his, and a tongue tentatively prodded its way into his mouth, flitting uncertainly around his teeth. He put his hands on Rosencrantz's hips, feeling, for no reason he could determine, absurdly self-conscious.
After a few minutes, when Rosencrantz was on his knees, fiddling with the intricately tied lacings on Guildenstern's codpiece, his tongue hanging out of one side of his mouth in intense concentration, Guildenstern did have to add, "Just - don't call out the wrong name. Please."
Rosencrantz came to his feet, a broad, guileless grin suddenly spread across his face. "Tell you what. I'll be you, and you..."