|Summary:||After the Trident, the Groves twins go their separate ways.|
|Related Logs:||Martyrs for the True King for their plan, Punch-Drunk Love - Without the Drunk for their next meeting.|
The battle at the Trident was bloody and terrible for both sides, but it was the Royalists who lost the day with the fall of the Prince, the jewels on his armor scattered into waters churned dark with mud and worse. The rebels marched to King's Landing, but though the formalities of conquest have not been fully played out, everyone already knows who has won this war.
Nicodemus Groves has a few gashes and will sport some new scars, but overall, he's come out of the day undamaged. Save, of course, for the crushing blow to spirit and morale. He's near the luggage wagon, now, pulling down what items belong to him with a quiet, grim determination.
Kittridge Groves is a bit the worse for wear, of the two, though that's not so unexpected, really. His brother is by far the better with a sword. Even were the pair identical, it would be easy to tell them apart now by the sling that carries Kit's left arm, the limb having born the brunt of a blow that likely would have killed him had it not been for the timely assistance of now-Ser Tommas Belte. He steps up to the wagon, reaching with his good arm for his bag, and slinging the strap awkwardly over his good shoulder. "We'll have to trim down our baggage before we leave," he suggests, "I definitely should have brought that other bag. I'll have to swap."
Nicodemus glances over as Kittridge arrives, back to the cart and then quickly back at Kittridge again when the sling registers. "I'll carry it," he offers, "how are you?" And then, he frowns a little. "What do you mean, swap?"
"Thanks," Kit says, easy enough to convince to shift his burden to his brother, "I mean at home," he says, as if it's obvious, "I'll swap bags when we get home, before we go."
"We can't go home," Nicodemus replies, accepting the other bag and shrugging it onto his other shoulder. "If we go home, we'll never leave again, you know it."
Kittridge frowns. "What do you mean we can't go?" he asks, "We have to go say goodbye. They're not going to all come to Seagard to meet us."
"I mean we can't," Nicodemus repeats, ever-so-helpfully. "If we go back, mother will cry, and Day and Rosanna… gods, do you honestly think you can look into Rosanna's face and tell her you'll never see her again? No. We'll crumble and set our bags down and swear our loyalty to a false king on a stolen throne."
Kittridge frowns more. "But we can't just leave without saying goodbye," he says, "What are we going to do, send them a letter? 'Sorry, we're gone to the East, see you never'? Just disappear?"
"We can tell father or Stafford. Or Tommas, even. They'll bring our goodbyes back with them," Nicodemus murmurs. "Saying goodbye won't make leaving any easier. Not for them or for us."
"That's just wrong," says Kit, "We can't go without saying goodbye. It will kill mother! Just because we won't be there to see it doesn't make it alright." His jaw works tightly, and he shakes his head, "No, we have to go home first."
"It will kill her either way," Nicodemus argues with a sharp shake of his head. "I can't-…we can't. We'll lose whatever conviction we had. We'll stay. We love them and they'll be all around us. We have to head to Seagard, now."
"If we'd lose our conviction that easily then maybe we shouldn't be going," Kittridge retorts.
Nicodemus stares at his twin for a long moment, taking in that resolute expression, the wounded arm, the sudden disagreement between them. "Maybe you shouldn't be," he says, though it's spoken gently.
Kittridge has never been a fan of that tone. "Maybe YOU shouldn't be," he snaps, "This whole thing is a stupid idea, and you know it. That's why you won't go home, because you know you'd have to admit it."
Nicodemus looks down at his feet and then back up to his brother. "I have to go, Kitt. I have to. But you don't, and they'll need you. I just… we've never been apart before, except that year between our spurs. But I think," he swallows, clearing his throat, "I think maybe I should go alone."
"No you don't," Kit disagrees, "You don't have to do anything, Nic. They need you, too. Rosie will kill me if I come back without you. And Day—?" He shakes his head, "No, you should come home," he says, "We should both go home. This was stupid. It sounded fun, like a story, but it's not. It's running away and never seeing anyone again. You don't really want to do that, Nic."
There's a small flinch as Kittridge mentions Day, and Nicodemus's hand lifts to squeeze the collar of his shirt, or something beneath it. "Go home, Kitt," he murmurs. "Tell them I love them."
"No," Kit replies, "You tell them. If you can't even look them in the eye and say goodbye, that's fucking weak, Nic. That is a fucking weak excuse for a conviction. Just stop it! Stop pretending you care who's king, as if it's ever made a scrap of difference to our lives. I get it, it was fun to play the hardcore loyalist, get into the spirit of the cause but, come on! This is taking it too far."
"This wasn't a game," Nicodemus says. "You know that better than I do." Nic lifts a hand to gesture to Kittridge's wounded arm. "I won't kneel to a bully and a child who took the seven kingdoms over who got to fuck Stark's sister. And I won't… I'm sorry, Kitt. I'm going."
"You'd give up your family over who got to fuck Stark's sister?" Kittridge replies, angrily, "That's just stupid. Nic. You are not really doing this," he insists, "Come home. Plan a rebellion or something or skim off the taxes if it makes you feel better, but come home."
Nicodemus shrugs Kitt's bag off his shoulder and lowers it gently to the ground. He steps closer and, careful of the other man's wounded arm, grabs him up in a tight, fierce hug. "Goodbye, brother," he whispers. "Look after them all."
Kittridge is not happy about being hugged, and not just because of his injury. "Don't do this," he whispers back, "Please don't do this, Nic."
"I have to. I'm sorry. I can't stay." Nicodemus releases his brother and straightens, clearing his throat sharply. "Watch out for boars. And ponds. And do do anything too stupid."
Kittridge glares hard at his brother, dark brows sharply angled, jaw tight. "Watch out for boats," he says, "Don't get on them. And mirrors. Only get bad advice from those." He practically grinds his teeth, fist of his uninjured hand white-knuckled tight, "Change your mind soon. And be careful til then."
Nic offers a weak laugh and nods. "Love you, baby brother. Or big brother. Whichever." He studies his twin for a final moment before turning and walking away.
Kittridge watches Nicodemus until he's out of sight, and for a long while after he stays right there, waiting, before finally he gathers up his things and goes home.