Page 293: Better Off
Better Off
Summary: Nicodemus Groves thought his family would be better off without him. Benedict Lawson believes this. Day does not.
Date: 08/08/2012
Related Logs: Punch Drunk Love Without the Drunk
Benedict Day 
The Common House — Stonebridge
Common. Frightfully common.
Eighth day, Fifth month, 289 AL

It's only been a couple of days since Benedict was pummeled by an angry Lord Groves, and he's still got a large bruise on his cheek, a slightly swollen nose and a split lip. It all makes eating somewhat of a bother, though he's seated at one of the long table in the Common House with a plate of meat, cheese and bread. He's using his dagger to cut each item up into small bites that won't require much by way of stretching his jaw.

Despite there being a number of perfectly reasonable explanations for the rumors of Kit's recent fracas in town, the details that have filtered down to Day are troubling. Six years. Six years to grow another arm to beat him with? Such a peculiar thing to say. It struck others as peculiar, certainly, for it was oft repeated with the tale. Not a stranger, then. Not a stranger…

There are last minute details for Rosanna's name day to see to, and not enough people to delegate them to. So she's asked Tommas to escort Rosie and her beau — he did offer, after all — while she runs her errands. They don't precisely bring her by the Common House. But… close enough. Close enough that she can contrive, innocently, to pass it on her way somewhere else. Perhaps… she'll simply talk with the bartender. As what the man looked like, who received the brunt of Kit's wrath. Portly and ill favored? Blonde? Red haired? Some small detail to kill that niggling suspicion that's been robbing her of sleep. That's all she really needs. And so she enters.

Perhaps she gets a bit more than she bargained for in entering, then, with the battered man in question sitting out in the open. Neither portly nor old, nor blonde or ginger. Black hair, in fact, gone a little long and shaggy. Blue-green eyes that widen above a bruised cheek as they spot the Septa stepping into the common house. Benedict looks quickly down at his plate before closing his eyes all together. One would think he'd've learned to eat in his room by now.

Neither portly nor old, nor blonde or ginger indeed. Little changed, in fact, for six years. At least outwardly. She looks for a moment, then steps over to his table, the very picture of composure. She pulls a chair out and sits across from him, folding her hands in her lap so they tremble slightly less. "I thought I was being ridiculous, imagining that it might be you." Her voice is quiet and evenly measured, even a bit too distinct, like someone overcompensating for the numbness of drink or poppy.

"Not ridiculous," Benedict replies softly. "Just very clever." He studies his plate a moment before turning his head a little to show her the less-bruised side. "I saved you a cheek, if you like."

The septa breathes a soft, mirthless laugh. "You'd like that, wouldn't you? As though that would somehow make us even." Her smile is bitter and thin. "What are you doing here?"

"No, not really," Benedict answers softly. "And I know it wouldn't… I know that. I came when Terrick's Roost was invaded. Just… haven't come around to leaving again."

"And when do you mean to leave?" asks Day, eyebrows lifting slightly.

"I don't know," the 'hedge knight' replies. "Soon, I think." He lifts one brow. "I hear Rosanna has a suitor in Lord Rutger Nayland. I can hardly believe she's old enough to be courted, but of course, she must be."

"She's ten and six," says Day, lashes lowering. She swallows. She breathes. She's holding it together. Barely. "Was it worth it?"

"I saved a boy's life," he answers quietly. "Otherwise, no. But I… I had to go. I'm sorry, I know how idiotic it sounds, but my leaving was… it was best."

"No, it wasn't," says Day, softly. "I don't care what you tell yourself to get through the night — but that is a lie. You have no idea the grief — Kit, Rosie, your parents…" She swallows again, adding, barely audibly, "Me." She closes her eyes and breathes again. "It was as though you'd died… but it was worse. It was a suicide. You left us by choice. You wounded us beyond measure and that wound will never heal… we will always be diminished. We will always suffer this… intolerable ache. And if that is what you think is best — " she breathes another mirthless, brittle laugh. "Then you're insane."

"I think…" Benedict swallows, closing his eyes again. "I think it was better to leave and hurt and be hated for it, than to stay and hurt worse by becoming someone unworthy of your love or regard. I am that, now, but at least I'm that far, far away from those I hold most dear."

"And what about the boy?" asks Day, her voice low and rough. "The one whose life you saved — is that who travels with you?" She smiles, a bitter twitch. "You're good enough for him, I suppose."

"Yes," Benedict answers softly for the boy. "He didn't have anyone else."

Day nods numbly. "I see." She stands.

Benedict's breath catches a moment before he reaches of the chain around his neck. "Septa," he murmurs, removing the pendant and letting it and the chain pool in his hand.

"You think I want that?" asks Day, barely audible, just breath and the movement of her lips. She closes her eyes. "I can't even look at it." Finally, with an apparent force of will, she swallows and looks him square in the face. "Come home, Nico." It's not a request. And she doesn't wait for his reply. She simply turns and leaves, straight-backed and composed as she entered.