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fakespeare, OR, of matters concerning the truth

Chapter Text

“Yet ever as a dove falls on the wind to a hunter’s spear, thou stay’st true. Dear, dear Romeo, thee be strong of heart and soft of mouth. And for that, it pains me so to see thee spend thy love on maidens who know thee not,” Mercutio raves, growing ever more upset, spitting the consonants angrily, but ending his sentences pained, choking back sobs. “To sit, idle, as thee pen words of grief for fair Rosaline, and Theodora before her, Emelina and Madallaine, and every other whose name escapes me—it is such pain as fire, as bleeding from a sword–wound, as, as—” 

All Romeo can do is stare. “Mercutio,” he interrupts, but his voice cracks and falls like a crackling ember.

His friend hangs his head. “I know, Romeo. I know,” he says, in a voice broken as the flagstones of the abandoned church they explored not a season ago—Mercutio had stood upon the pulpit and lauded Romeo in tongues poetic as a preacher’s. Romeo had thought it jest, then. 

Oh. Oh.

He sees it now. 

He wonders how he was so blind to it, how he managed to mistake his want for love as a want for women. No, no, that is not it. He does not know how it escaped him, and now he tracks the thought like a hunter with their quarry. Oh, how he has been a fool. 

All he wanted—all he wants —is to be loved. Rosaline is but another vessel to tether his longings to, just as one would tie a horse to a tree in absence of a stable. 

He looks at Mercutio, really looks. He sees… he sees his best friend, he sees laughter and late nights and whispers in church. He sees dancing wit and dancing feet and a beautiful smile and—

Oh. 

Oh, fuck. 

Mercutio doesn’t know. He thinks he does, thinks that Romeo truly loves Rosaline, but….

“No, thou know not,” Romeo says, and the words hang in the air like glass about to shatter from its frame, threaded by cracks but only just intact. It would take but a tap, or a whisper, or a too–deep breath to send it crashing down.

Mercutio’s mouth sits ajar—a terrible mouth for such anguished sentiment to fall from, Lord, no, that mouth was made for swearing and smirking and sex—and Romeo notices with a start that his eyes are rimmed red and glistening. His friend’s gaze is despairing, his mouth twisted with sorrow, his back hunched—he looks so far removed from his usual self that it pains Romeo just as a knife to the ribs. 

Romeo reaches a hand forward to cup his friend’s cheek, to dry his tears with his thumb. “Oh, Mercutio,” he whispers.

The glass breaks.

Or, more specifically, Romeo’s heart breaks.

It breaks for his friend, his friend usually bright–eyed and mischievous, now broken with grief, all for him. It breaks for all the times he laid his head on Mercutio’s shoulder, every time he cried into his friend’s chest. What must Mercutio have thought, to be so close to him and yet only to listen to him lament on some passing fancy? He thinks of it, and he winces. 

“Oh, Mercutio,” he says once more, and he draws him in, holds him. 

Mercutio is not the sort of man who cries. He is quick–witted, and obscene, and impulsive; he parades his bravado and hides his troubles. For him to even have the mere sound of tears in his voice is exceedingly strange, but for him to allow himself to cry… Romeo wonders if this is at some fault of his own, for this is contrary to the standard order of the world. It is Romeo who cries easily, it is he who curls into his friend’s arms. 

But even in such a fit of despair, Mercutio does not make a noise. He shakes for a time, then stills, his hands loosely fisted around the fabric of Romeo’s shirt. Romeo runs his hand down his friend’s back in what he hopes is a comforting manner.

Mercutio murmurs something into his chest, and Romeo pulls away somewhat unwillingly to hear him better, arms still around his friend. “What was that?”

“I’m sorry,” Mercutio says pathetically. His eyes are downcast and red, and he fiddles with the cloth of Romeo’s tunic.

Romeo brings his hand up to Mercutio’s jaw. “Thou hast done no wrong.”

Mercutio swallows, and Romeo feels his throat move under his hand. “I did not want to tell thee. I feared it would mar thy goodwill for me,” he says, still without looking up.

“It hast not,” Romeo assures him, and he feels his friend relax. “In fact,” he says, and he moves the hand he has on Mercutio’s jaw to his cheek. “It has only let it prosper.”

He leans in.