Title: Give Us This

Genre: Gen/Introspective, I suppose.

Rating: PG

Word Count: 1044

Characters/Pairings: Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, mentions of others. Not overtly romantic.

Summary: Rosencrantz is melancholy and philosophical. Guildenstern hypothesizes as to the nature of their situation. Rosencrantz forgets what they were talking about.

A/N: So, my first time writing in the R&G fandom. And you know what? It's HARD! Guildenstern gives me the most trouble: not his voice, really, just some of his speeches. I wrote this oneshot with no clear idea where it was going, so what I ended up with wasn't what I had in mind at the beginning, but all and all I'm quite happy with the result. This has smatterings of both the play-Guildenstern's characterization, for one-and the movie.

"It's unfair," Rosencrantz says one day as they sit side by side on a stone ledge outside the castle. He swings his legs back and forth a bit and stares curiously at them, as if he can't quite fathom how they came to be attached to his torso.

"What is?" Guildenstern asks absently. He's prepared for an answer like, 'because clouds can fly and we can't,' so when his companion spouts something even remotely approaching the philosophical it comes as a bit of a surprise.

"That they—" Rosencrantz gestures behind him at the palace and almost falls off the ledge; Guildenstern has to grip his elbow to stop him, "—know what's going on. I mean, I know that HE knows what's happening—" Guildenstern intrinsically knows this to mean the Player, "—but the rest of them. They're just as—as caught up in this as we are, and yet…" He trails off, then picks up his thread of reflection and continues with it. "And yet, they're aware. Their stories are still going on. They have a past as well as a present. But—they're the same as we are." He blinks, his eyes wide and innocent. "Aren't they?"

Guildenstern sighs. He often finds himself wishing for a more pensive companion, but when Rosencrantz changes from his childlike self into this melancholy man he paradoxically finds it difficult to deal with him. "It's because—" he begins, then pauses. "Listen, you know how sometimes you just spout out words to, to Lord Hamlet, or the King? Words that you're saying but you can't for the life of you fathom where they're coming from?"

"Oh yes," says Rosencrantz, nodding. "That was worrying me too."

"But whenever you're talking to Player it's different? That you've suddenly and inexplicably regained the ability to use your own mouth to form your own words into your own sentences? Your own sentences that don't feel like you're reading them out of a book, or, or like someone's talking through you? Like a dream, a dream where the control is vested in some other power. The man said to the horse that he was king, but the horse was truly the master of them both, and he spoke through the man and the gods themselves were abashed. And so we were to them as they were to us, and to us they were not the same."

"Give us this our daily—" Rosencrantz breaks off, frowning. "But it's not, is it?"

"Not what?" Guildenstern prods.

"Well, it's not really—it's not really us anymore, is it?" He bites his lip as he speaks. "The person talking to the king—the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who's talking because there's no difference now is there—is that really us?"

"Is that really you?"

"Is there a difference?"

Guildenstern's eyes flash for a moment and, just for a second, he's irrationally angry. "I don't know." He turns away from the other and crosses his arms, staring morosely out at the grounds.

From next to him comes a small voice muttering, "Statement."

"Not the time."

Rosencrantz doesn't say anything, but Guildenstern can see him visibly deflate out of the corner of his eye.

Guildenstern stands up resolutely, stretching his hands up to the sky. "Maybe—" He pauses, then looks at his still sitting companion. "Maybe no one has a story. Because when we're talking to Hamlet, we're not really talking, are we? Maybe Hamlet isn't talking either. Maybe the Hamlet we know doesn't exist any more than the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he knows do. Maybe there's someone pulling the strings from backstage."

Rosencrantz makes a great show of brushing off his shoulders and arms. "I don't have any strings attached to me. Do I?" He looks worried, jumping off the ledge and craning his neck over his shoulder, eventually turning in a full circle in an attempt to locate any elusive threads attacked to his back.

"Metaphorical strings, I mean. Point: we who speak as we do do not speak thus to him. Point: we do speak thus to each other."

"And the Player," Rosencrantz puts in, still looking rattled about the strings.

"And the Player. An original thought, if a rephrased one. Excellent. Conclusion: we have never spoken to anyone but each other and the actors. Discuss."

"But—" Rosencrantz looks worried. "But we spoke to Lord Hamlet just a minute ago. Don't you remember?"

"No, while we did speak to Lord Hamlet, WE did not speak to him. Nor him, I postulate, to us. Understand?"

"No," Rosencrantz says with the air of one who knows he is lacking in something but does not mind in the slightest. "I say, would you look at this?" He's crouched down on the dirt, watching several rivulets of water run in different directions. "Notice the way the bubbles don't—"

Guildenstern, annoyed, stamps out the miniature stream with a boot. Rosencrantz's face crumples.

"I," says the perpetrator with a distinct lack of concern, "am attempting to rationalize the situation in which we currently find ourselves in order to make some sense of this—time, time, that's what it has to be, a cycle, perhaps—and you," he adds, getting back on track, "are sitting on the ground watching bubbles. An act which, perhaps unfortunately, does not surprise me in the least. Tell me, have you any idea of our predicament? You expressed concern a moment ago."

"I did?" Rosencrantz's eyes are glazed, unfocused. "I've forgotten."

With that the fight seems to go out of Guildenstern and he plops down on the ground next to his friend. "You always forget, don't you?" he asks, affection warring with exasperation in his tone.

Rosencrantz nods solemnly. "I'm afraid so." He turns puppy-dog eyes on Guildenstern. "Is that wrong? Do you forget?"

Guildenstern thinks, then nods, a concession. "I forget."

Then both sit there, staring off into the middle distance before Guildenstern heaves a great sigh and stands up, clasping his friend but the upper arm and using that as leverage to haul him up too. At Rosencrantz's questioning look, he says, "We'll be getting all muddy."

"We'd better go inside," the other adds.

"Of course," says Guildenstern as the two make for the castle. "It's our cue."