Page 195: Practicality
Summary: The Terrick and Tordane Rivers discuss the practicality of Jason Mallister's decision to duel the Greyjoy, Stonebridge, and the things they want but can't have. And the things they can have but won't take.
Date: 28/01/2012
Related Logs: The Mallister/Greyjoy duel log, when posted. This is yet another in the ongoing Jarod and Gedeon love and hate each other saga. They do not kiss in this one, but it's probably far from over, so there's always next time. They can't quit each other.
Gedeon Jarod 
Waterfront — Seagard
Seagard's waterfront was once the gateway to a bustling port, both for the Mallister naval fleet and merchant ships that docked here from all corners of the River coast, West, and even lands farther south. The Ironborn's initial attack on the city laid it low, however, and the wreckage of that initial assault still litters the sea. The Mallister fleet was demolished in that first wave, and the blackened remains of its once-proud war galleys float off the docks. The merchant stalls, customs stations and seedy dockside taverns that once thrived here are largely burnt as well, the Ironborn having looted and gutted them before they were driven from this part of the city. The dock - one of Seagard's three major ones - is still intact, however, and there's enough raw space in the stone buildings that couldn't be burned to house supplies.
Sat Jan 28, 289

"Sulking doesn't tire me out." — Jarod Rivers

"It must be because you've had so much practice!" — Gedeon Rivers

Hours after the battle that broke the siege of Seagard, Jarod volunteered for night watch down on the waterfront. Though there's little to watch at present, save the darkened waves. The Ironborn with Rodrik Greyjoy are long retreated, and any that may've remained in the city afterward are fleeing to the countryside rather than trying to remain. So he just stands, on the dock, watching the water under the stars and gibbous moon. It's a clear night, not terribly bright but enough that it gives some illumination.

Gedeon didn't volunteer. He's just restless, sleepless and down by the water, and his wanderings bring him over to where Jarod studies the stars. "Learn anything?" he asks, falling into a spot beside the other bastard.

"What're you doing out here, Gedeon?" Jarod's greeting to the Tordane bastard is terse and lacking in friendliness, and comes with no easy grin. But he seems to have given himself permission to be disagreeable where Gedeon's concerned. In a way, he almost seems to relish it. It might be a novelty for him. As for the actual question, "Not yet. I'm just a couple hours into my six, though, so I've time for something to come to me."

"Oh, get fucked," Gedeon replies amicably, "I'm here because I wanted to stretch my legs and I appreciate the sight of a bay without longboats. You're into your sixth what?"

"Second hour of my sixth on watch," Jarod replies, slowly, like he's explaining something to someone who's a little simple. "And get fucked yourself." While unfriendly, it has a conversational quality to it. "I volunteered. Still a bit keyed up after all that, nowhere to blow it off, figured this'd do as well as anything. I don't expect much entertainment, though. Squids've taken to the seas, any clean-up'll find finding the reavers that fled to the countryside rather than the boats."

"Ah, but those were the days," Gedeon sighs wistfully for 'get fucked yourself'. "I guess second hour of your sixth is better than second wineskin of your sixth, if you're meant to be doing a job. Though," he shrugs, "One wineskin would be nice. It's a nice change, to be able to swallow without hurting."

"That what kept you, hurt your throat?" Jarod asks, smiling some, though it's a smirk with an edge to it. "Thought I advised you to stay away from prostitutes." Though this is a thing he's an actual interest in, so he follows up the dig with a moderated, "Where have you been, Gedeon? Thought you were mending after they took you back to Stonebridge."

"No, you dolt, my gut. Where all the muscles are that move when you swallow," Gedeon replies with a roll of his eyes. "Of course I've been in Stonebridge, getting my wound tended and firemilk poured on it again. Where else would I have been? I assure you, however, that when it comes to whores, you've far outpaced me."

"I tire of the company of bought women these days," Jarod says, looking out at the water. He sounds more thoughtful about it than anything else, and he's not arriving at happy thoughts. "I tire of paying for affection in general. I always seem to find myself doing it, whether it's in coin or otherwise. It's a habit I'm trying to break, though. Anyhow. How'd you find Stonebridge? I worried for you some, in the tender care of Tordane Tower and Valda nee Frey's house."

"I shouldn't have thought you'd need to pay for affections these days," Gedeon replies with a shrug as he studies the water stretched out before them. "Everybody pays for affection, one way or another."

Jarod crosses his arms along his chest, head turning, and he regards Gedeon steadily. "It's not like that, Gedeon. And I wonder if it'd not cost more than I've got to pay now. Consolation drains a man more than coin, and I'm very tired of being second-best in the hearts of every damn person I love. Anyhow. I asked you about Stonebridge, and you avoided the subject."

"Pah," Gedeon snorts, "I'm sure it's precisely like that. You're the better choice in pretty much every way I can fathom. Just because you're too dense to see it doesn't mean it's not true. But, I'm tired of thinking about it. So. Stonebridge. It was fine. I convalesced and saw your lady sister for a spell before she returned home."

Jarod shakes his head. "Love's got shit to do with merit, Gedeon, just like anything else in this world. We both know that. I heard the way she spoke to you today, saw the way she look at you when you were carted off to Stonebridge. I'm not blind, and this time I won't pretend to be. Just because you fucked it up, that had naught to do with me, and I won't pretend I can hold it." As for Stonebridge, he shrugs. "Still might not be wise for you keep there too much. The Roost'd give you shelter, when you aren't moving with the army, if you wanted to be somewhere closer to your lord father's lands than Oldstones. I am there little these days, myself, with the duties down Stonebridge-way Lord Jerold's tasked me to. So…" He shrugs. "…if that's a thing you'd think on, don't let it bother you."

"It isn't," Gedeon answers. "I mean, I don't mind the idea of being near you, sorry to break your heart. Anyhow, don't be daft. If you were lying on a sickbed, she'd plant herself just as staunchly by your side, say all the sweet words you wish. Get yourself gutted if you don't believe me. And any rate, well, I'll think on if I'd like to visit the Roost soon."

"Just like she did you. Don't see where that gets me, apart from that she'd be sweet to me if I were dying. She's got a good heart, it's just one that wants what it wants. When it wants it." As for the rest, Jarod shrugs. "I've mostly stopped wanting to hit you every time I see you, I suppose. Doesn't change anything, and it's not fun anymore. Well, not as fun."

"Thanks, I guess. Considering you really have no right to want to hit me at all except the fact that I'm better looking," Gedeon teases with a smirk. "And you're an idiot, by the way. Her heart is very good, but sometimes it appreciates a little wickedness. Seems like something you're practicing getting better at, so it should all work out nicely."

"I don't know. I think what we did to each other was pretty shit," Jarod says. "Though I guess we both did it the same, so we're even, if nothing else. Still, felt like a thing a bloke should hit another bloke over. And I can't be to her whatever the fuck you were, Gedeon. Wouldn't want to be if I could. So perhaps it's down to me in the end. Fair enough." He turns away from the other bastard, out over the water. "You ever been to Seagard before?"

"Well, I can't be what she needs, so perhaps she should run off and leave the both of us behind," Gedeon mutters, arms crossing lightly over his chest. "Can't say as I have, actually. Never really imagined that the first time I saw it, it would be half-charred and full of ironborn. We fixed that problem, at least."

"Perhaps she'd be happier if she did," Jarod mutters. "I made her miserable the first time, not sure I'd do any better with a second. And I am not up for losing whatever I've left of her again." As for the Ironborn, he nods shortly. "There's more left of Seagard than the Roost, at least. Though Lord Mallister was lost. Hell of a man. Can't name a finer knight in the Seven Kingdoms, including picturebook Barristan Selmy my brother Jaremy's so in love with. Some of the best times in my life - that I didn't spend as a boy with you and your half-sister - were spent being forged into something useful by him in this city. Jace and me. Seven hells. If our thirteen-year-old selves could see the men we are now, what do you figure they'd say?"

"Watch out for that whatever-it-was that took away Jacsen's use of his leg?" Gedeon suggests, a corner of his mouth quirking. "I don't know. I don't think any of us imagined what we'd grow up into. You made her miserable the first time, but if you realize it, you're already a step ahead." He breathes out softly, lowering his gaze a little at mention of Lord Jason. "I can't believe he was felled," he murmurs. "The man cut a path through the Trident."

"Prince Rhaegar's Royalist bodyguards and a nasty fall off a horse," Jarod replies, as to what took the use of Jacsen's leg. "What I realize is, every time I held her - well, near every time - I felt like she wanted to be somewhere else. And a handful of times aren't enough. I'm not keen to share my bed with you again, Gedeon. Sorry. You're not my type. I don't care for blondes." The hair-color joke is tacked on. The rest of it plainly stings him to admit. "I want to be first in someone's heart. Just once in my life. That's all I want." As for Lord Mallister. "Shouldn't have accepted a challenge from the Prince of the Pyke, many will say. But, Prince Rhaegar did from Lord Robert. And both went out in ways the Warrior'd approve of. I figure, a man like that, if you can pick your death, that's not a bad way to go."

"She doesn't want to be there now. You've no worries on that count," Gedeon sighs with a small shake of his head. "Well, I hope you find what you wish. I can certainly understand the desire." With a faint sad smile, he adds, "Trouble is, even after a good death, you're still dead."

Jarod grunts. That's not a thing he believes. There are many things so deeply ingrained in Jarod Rivers' brain they cannot be easily dislodged, and that's one of them. "Death's far from the worst thing a man can do to themselves, I figure. He died in honorable combat, defending land that was his, and left a son who'll carry on for him. And…he was a good man." He laughs, almost bitterly, as he says it. "Whatever the fuck that means in this world."

"He did. Left a son, a child, to rebuild Seagard now that he's gone. You think Young Lord Patrek is ready for such a burden? Still, for a noble death, for the sake of being a good man, it was all worth it. And I am sure Patrek understands," Gedeon replies quietly.

"And what would you have done in his place, Gedeon?" Jarod turns back to the Tordane bastard now. Green eyes regarding him steadily in the starlight. "What kind of man are you? And what kind of man will you be, to the people of Stonebridge? If you get it."

"I might not have accepted a duel," Gedeon supposes, "does that make me a poor lord? I am… a practical man, Ser Rivers. And practical men understand that to be a successful ruler, one must have the hearts of the people. Does that answer suit you well enough?"

"For not accepting a duel? Don't think one decision makes you anything," Jarod says with a shrug. "And no. It doesn't. But I don't figure I'll get any answer out of you that'll satisfy me, where Stonebridge is concerned. But, I picked me side in that fight a long time ago. If I felt then as I feel now - and if I'll wager if I knew even half of what Rowan won't tell me and what you'll never give me an answer I can believe on - I'd likely have done different. But. Is what it is. Matters little what I think anyway. All I can do is pray that I'm wrong and that you'll make good with it if you get it. Strikes me, Gedeon, that men in this world - and women - spend a lot of time trying to take what they want, but very little time thinking of how they'll treat it when they get it."

"Is that how it strikes you? Strikes me that men spend more of their time thinking about what they want than actually doing much of anything at all. Wring your hands and think on what you would have done all you like," Gedeon murmurs. "You've decided I'm a villain, and how very convenient if it were so. It can all be my fault, that way, can't it. How tidy."

"I've decided you're not the boy of fifteen I couldn't find after the Trident," Jarod says. And he does sound, more than anything else, sad as he says it. "And I miss my friend. I'm sorry he didn't come home."

"And you're the boy who went looking for me?" Gedeon asks with an arched brow. "Precisely as you were, back then? It's six years past. We grew up."

"No, I'm not. Maybe I miss him, too." Jarod shrugs. "And this is the where we are. World is what it is. Men take what they want with no regard for it, perhaps to break it once they hold it. Other men are too weak to try and make anything of their lives at all. Either way you end up holding nothing."

"That's always been the world, Jarod," Gedeon replies, "you just didn't see it for a while. We've had this discussion before, haven't we? Multiple times. Aren't you tired of it, yet?"

"I'm told I tend to repeat myself when I think I've not made my point," Jarod says wryly. "Perhaps I have, and we just can't agree on it. Fair enough. We've grown to different sorts of men." He looks back out over the water. "If it were me, I'd have taken the duel. You figure that's the wrong choice?"

"It's the noble choice. The heroic and honorable one," Gedeon says. "I don't think there was a wrong choice. Suppose that's how we differ, in the way we're men. You see right and wrong. I see all the spaces in between."

"There's not only right and wrong, Gedeon. I'm not that naive. There's usually better and worse, though. Even if they aren't always what we'd like them to be. Telling yourself there isn't is just as much an excuse as the ones men make up for not taking what they want." And then for something completely different, Jarod says, "Does my lord father have your promise, in writing, that you'll swear to Stonebridge if you get it? Oathed and sealed and all?"

"No," Gedeon laughs, smiling for a moment, "nobody's asked. I'll write it if you like." He shrugs a bit for that. "Back at the Roost. Or Stonebridge. It's no matter to me."

"I think you and me will go and get that done tomorrow," Jarod says. "Make time."

"Look at that, little Jarod. You have grown up. Well done," Gedeon replies, still smirking. "I think I'll try and get a bit of sleep. I'm not on watch, after all."

"Go fuck yourself," Jarod replies to Gedeon. Though he does smile, just a little. "I'll see you in the morning. Bright and earlier. We've oathing to do, after all."

"If you can find me," Gedeon calls dismissively as he begins to walk away, "and I'm awake. We've made a late night of it, sitting here and sulking. Might want to sleep in, come morning."

"Sulking doesn't tire me out," Jarod calls over his shoulder to Gedeon. He's some hours left yet. He spends them watching the water for longships that're long gone.

"It must be because you've had so much practice!" is Gedeon's parting shot. And then he's making his way back towards the camps and leaves Jarod to his duty.

Jarod grunts, but he doesn't actually retort to that one. He can't, really.