|Punch Drunk Love Minus The Drunk|
|Summary:||Benedict Lawson and his squire run into Kittridge Groves. Turns out the lord and the hedge knight know each other.|
|Common House — Stonebridge|
|The Common House, located at the intersection of the docks and the town proper, provides a roof and more for travelers that arrive via land or water. The warm interior is kept so by a large hearth at one end of the room, the subtle hint of peat at the edges of the smells within. The main room is large and provides for long tables and benches over the planked wooden floor. Clay pitchers stand ready to serve the customers with multiple kinds of refreshment. A few whores work as waitresses for the visitors, providing companionship at the rear of the building where the more well-off visitors stay. Those of the lower classes are welcome to sleep on the benches or on the floor near the hearth.|
|05 May 289|
They came into town two days before, the long, lean common knight in black and his attending squire that arrived as retinue to Lord Blackwood. But, once the more official business of noble-wrangling began, the pair of commoners slipped away to find a place to rest and somewhere open ears might hear a useful tidbit or two. So, it was a room at the Common House and, after a morning of exploring the city and training, they're back there for a midday meal.
Benedict has been… well, Ser Lawson is never exactly jumpy, but he has been less restful since their arrival here from Riverrun. More taciturn, quicker to look in the direction of sudden movements or opening doors. Currently, he chews on a chunk of bread covered with a soft cheese, and simply lets his blue-green gaze slide around the room at large.
Coming home has indeed been something. He can't even recall the last time he was this far North and west when he was in Westeros-let alone the riverlands. Still Much like the lean common knight, the youth clad in dark leathers is coming back from the bar with pints in hand. One sat down before Ser Lawson with a raise of his brow, before he's drawing out his chair, and situating his curved sword before sitting. A sip from his cup and he looks back over to the door. "Barman's only heard what folks is talkin' about already." Locke begins. "Both sides though- would you like to hear it Ser?" As opposed to calling him Benedict or such. After all in Westeros one must be proper-and his teacher's strict on the right code.
Benedict accepts the offered mug, taking a swallow as his gaze again drifts to the door. But it doesn't open. No one comes in. He swallows down the mouthful of ale and nods. "Aye, tell me what he says and which side he seems more partial to, if either."
"Well rumors that seem to favor the current lords o' the tower state that the Lady Tordane nee Westerling has about fucked every manjack in town, including the butcher. Basically if it has a cock she will spread for it." and there's another sip of beer, before he's brigning his hand up to rub at his face. "And that she lies in order to ruin the Naylands hopes of holding Stonebridge. She's no virgin-marriage does not count." and he rolls his hand as if to say on and on. Locke pauses for a moment a brow hitching up. "You worried about somethin?"
"No," Ser Lawson replies, drawing his attention away from the door so it can settle more properly on the lad trying to speak to him. "Spreads her legs for the butcher, not a proper wife, I heard. Go on."
'Right." he replies before he is nodding. Locke watches the doorway briefly, before there is a huge sigh from the lad. "The otherside, well sir. That web is a sticky one. Apparently some Charlton serving folk claim that the Lady has been pursued by the Lord Regent in a rather obsessive manner. That once he heard she was married he came an roughed her up abit." a frown at those words "An that he'd declare her slattern an all if she didn't annul her marriage an throw herself at his feet an marry her." a shake of his head "Apparently he came in secret, so folks wouldn't know it was him. But everyone saw him there even one of her sworn."
"Though, of course, each side has every reason to change as they do," Benedict muses with a nod, "and it doesn't seem like either side is much louder than the other as far as these tales go. Well, keep listening." He pauses to have another swallow of ale. "I will, too. I'm not sure there's much for the Blackwood to hear that he hasn't already, though." The black-clad common knight is seated at a table with a young man some seven years his junior. The pair of them are drinking from pints and talking quietly.
"Mayhaps we should go an take a look at their camp?" Locke muses "If anything we'd see if she has bruises, or see if it's nothing but a wild fuck party. Cocks'n' all." And there a nod of his head to a passing serving girl whose cheeks strike scarlet. "Sorry." An apologetic look given to his knight, before he is looking right down into his beer. "I think both rumors got a merit of truth in em. Just don't know which ones." The squire says after a moment. "Th' Barman here has money though on the Lady if it means anything."
Kittridge enters from the street, and lingers in the doorway a while, holding it open with his shoulder as he turns back towards the street to laugh with someone still outside. Eventually his friend takes off, and he gives a wave and turns to step the rest of the way into the common room, heading towards one of the serving girls to order himself a drink.
"Perhaps," Benedict agrees thoughtfully, "though I'm not sure Lord Blackwood wants his retinue making unofficial inspections of the Lady's camp. I'll speak to him, see what his thoughts are." There is a faint wince as 'cocks' come into the conversation right when a girl swishes by, and he looks towards the bar and the barman behind it. "Suppose it means the Naylands haven't been in control long enough for total loyalty of the people. That or the barman just enjoys his bets." As the door begins to open, of course Benedict looks towards it. And freezes for a second before staring sharply down at his own ale. "Shit," he mutters, hands curling tightly around the mug.
"If it helps, we can make it official. I'll scowl a lot and wear a raven on m' breast." Locke states with a faint, but toothy grin. As for the other possibility, the squire shrugs. "That could be the gist of it. I'll admit to not knowing a lick of shit about this part of the land. Ser. Were we on the stones i could give you a better estimation.." And then eyes widen and narrow back to Lawson. "Shit?" And now he's turning his head to gawk back at the door. "What is it?"
Kittridge smiles charmingly at the maid, who heads off to collect his pint while he wanders in search of a seat to his liking. He glances at the table where Benedict and Locke sit, and does a brief double-take, but then begins to move past.
"Um," Benedict murmurs, keeping his head low, "someone I wanted to see. Just, not quite here." Still, the black-clad knight straightens a little, pushing his shoulders back and lifting his head. As Kittridge begins to walk past, Benedict calls, "My lord. Would you join us for a meal?"
Locke continues to stare at Kittridge, and lets his eyes follow him as the man moves along. There's a quick glance back to Benedict as a brow raises. "That fellow, you know him? He a friend? An an enemy? Want me to find out where he sleeps?" his mug is sat down as he makes a stabby motion towards his hand. And then he leans in, his voice dropping. "He someone that'd get us into trouble, Ser?" And then there is a pause at the clarrification. A look almost of disappointment, before he nods. "Righto."
To his knight's invite, the squire does edge a chair out with his boot.
Kittridge stops walking past. He just stops, and then he turns on his heel, swiveling to look where the voice came from, and to look at Benedict. He just stares for a long moment, and then he finishes turning, and walks back to stand behind the chair Locke has edged out. He doesn't sit, and finally says, "Really?" His tone can't seem to quite decide whether it is meant to be skeptical or not.
"Sit," Benedict suggests again as Kittridge settles behind, but not quite in, the seat. He holds Kittridge's gaze, taking the moment to look the man over as he is studied in turn. Then he clears his throat, ducking his head and scratching a little nervously at his hair. "If you'd be willing to, I mean."
Locke raises a brow back in Kittridge's direction. "He asked didn't he?" A bit of something lacing the tone of those words, before he is looking over towards Ser Benedict, as if waiting an order or something. And then he is clearing his throat, as if remembering manners or whatever his Lord has taught him. "My Lord." And then a glance to Benedict "Want me to get him a cup?"
Kittridge does not seem willing to sit, at least not just yet. He curls his fingers around the chair's back, just looking at Benedict. He glances once at Locke, as he speaks, and then looks back to the knight to ask, "Who is that?"
"Easy, Locke," Benedict murmurs to the younger lad as he prickles. For the offer, however, the knight nods. "If you could fetch Lord Groves a pint of ale, I'd appreciate it." Looking back to Kitt, he says, "This is Locke Septswood. My squire. Locke, this is Lord Kittridge Groves."
"I'm sorry." he states back towards Benedict. And Yes, the young man does mean it. It's then he's looking back towards Kittirdge. And with that he rises up, one hand going to ease at his belt, as the other is jutted for the Groves Lord. "If Ser Lawson knows you, you ain't bad." a toothy grin there, and once the shake is eagerly and enthusiastically completed, he will be bounding off towards the bar. Locke's good like that. No questions-well not much.
Kittridge's hand is taken and shaken, as he nods, "Squire. Of course." That's all he manages before Locke's heading off to get him a drink, and then he turns back towards Benedict, and finally folds his tall frame into the chair. "Lawson, is it?" he says, looking at him.
"Lost son," Benedict replies with a shrug. "I had a maudlin moment. Ser Benedict Lawson. Hedge knight currently under Lord Tully's employ. We came here with the Blackwood." He keeps his attention on Kitt as the other man sits. "I wanted to see you before we left again. I know I haven't the right, anymore. But I. Well. I did."
A sloshing of ale, when Locke does finally get back as a tall pint is practically forced in front of Kittridge. "Drink up Lord Kitt." Apparently, Kittridge is too long, or Locke has some trouble to conforming to the Courtesy tenant his knight has tried to instill into him. A big grin is passed towards Kittridge, before he is looking back to Benedict, and then back to the other. His brow furrowing for a moment, as if he's trying to put something together. "You been to Riverrun, m'Lord?" And Locke's eyes focus back to Benedict as he mouths: How do we know him?
"You had a maudlin moment." Kit echoes this, and chuckles once, shaking his head and reaching up to brush his hair back as this sends it across his forehead. Ale is set in front of him, and he looks at it, and then back to Benedict, "So," he prompts baldly, "You wanted to see me. Say what you wanted to say."
Benedict takes the moment, as Kittridge's ale is set down, to have a generous swallow of his own. Peering over at Locke from above the rim, he swallows and wipes his mouth. 'Later' he mouths in return before clearing his throat and looking back at Kitt. "I'm sorry," he says, and, "I miss you. I miss all of you, but. And I'm a terrible— I'm terrible. I don't deserve forgiveness. I'm not asking for it. But if there's anything you need or anyone else needs, that I could help with, in any way, please ask."
Locke nods once, and does his best to fall silent for the most part. Hands wrapping around his pint before he is taking a long drink. And only then he is raising a brow before he's looking back to Kittridge as his knight starts apologizing. And a frown sets on the young man's features, but true to not wanting to interrupt, He bides his time.
Kittridge sits, and listens. He looks calm enough, even after the other knight has finished. He doesn't reply, not right away, just sort of sitting there, nodding. Nodding along, or nodding to himself, it's not entirely clear which, but he stops abruptly anyway, to all of a sudden launch himself over the table at Benedict, tumbling them both over onto the floor and wailing on him all the way.
Benedict makes a sound that's something like a mix of 'oof' and 'ouch' as his chair tips and he's knocked onto his back on the ground. He lifts his hands, though only to try and fend Kitt's fists off after he lands a few good wallops. He doesn't actually try to stop the Groves lord, though, or to fight back.
"Hey." Locke says, before his eyes are widening and then he's climbing up out of his chair. "Hey!" his voice raises, clearly torn over what he is seeing. And then, Finally a rather loud and barked out "HEY!" And soon the Squire is throwing himself dutifully and tenaciously into the mix. So, Lord Kitt, will probably feel another body slam into him, and some fists as well unless, Benedict calls him off. Or something. Maybe he'll punch Benedict too.
Kittridge doesn't seem to care about Locke's protests, or getting hit. He just punches Benedict. "You piece of shit," he calls him, "Six years? SIX YEARS? And you want to know if there's anything you can DO? NOW you want to help? You fucking bastard!" Though for all his apparent vehemence, if the squire (and other patrons) are paying attention they may notice it's less a vicious, blood-thirsty attack than the sort of ultimately harmless beating on each other to settle a disagreement most commonly done by friends or brothers.
"Ow, I.. fuck, Kitt OW!, you already got that eye—" Benedict sputters jerking up his elbows and using his arms to more properly cover his face. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, how did you grow extra arms?"
"STOP HITTING HIM YOU FUCKING CUNT!" That seems to be Locke's battle cry as fists are aimed for Kittridge and by default now Benedict. And unlike the friends or brothers or whatever they are, poor Locke is swinging hard. Luckily for the boys though, Some patrons have come in, looking to stop the fight, and so, two rather burly fellows are hoisting back, and trying to subdue a rather rambunctious squire. "I mean Lord Cun-LEGGO OF ME! That's my knight!"
"I've had SIX YEARS TO GROW THEM JUST TO HIT YOU YOU ASSHOLE," says Kittridge. He finally stops hitting Benedict when Locke is dragged off him. Well, he hits him in the side once more. Okay, maybe twice. Just onnnnne more. Then he's done, and stands up, straightening himself up. "Asshole," he repeats.
Benedict coughs a couple times before he pushes to his feet, swiping at a nose that's trickling blood and a split lip. There's a bruise already forming high on one cheek as well, and Benedict stands a wee bit stooped from those socks to his side. Looking over to the men holding Locke, he says, "It's all right. Please let him go. Locke, it's okay. I'm fine. I… well, I had that coming." Peering over at Kittridge, he sniffs. "You still hit like a girl."
"LET ME AT HIM." Locke is raging, as he's trying to swing a leg at Kittridge's ass. Only to be jerked back further by the two men, before he's trying to fight them. Though given the order from the knight-the others promptly drop the young man, Who is scrambling to get up and of course go pick a fight. Luckily the words of: Locke it's alright, has the young man pause, with clenched fists, before he is looking back to Benedict. "Huh?"
"You still take a punch like a girl," Kittridge retorts. He brushes himself off, and glares at Benedict some more, ignoring Locke for the time being, still. He glares some more, and says, "So, what. You just wanted to stick your head in and say you're sorry and run off again? That the plan? Have me carry your message for you, again? Get to tell everybody goodbye for you again 'cause you still can't man up and do it yourself?"
"No. I was going to man up and do it myself, this time," Benedict replies. "I just wanted to man up to you, first." Wiping at his nose again he says to Locke, "It's all right. Lord Groves and I knew each other well before I went to the Stepstones. He owed me a few punches. More than a few, really."
Locke snorts before he is raising a hand up to rub at his nose, though really no one hit him. A shake of his head, before a hand moves to fix his hair somewhat, or un tussle it. "What is he talking about Ben?" a beat and he is quick to add "Ser?" After all he wouldn't want to shame his knight any more, besides calling Lord Groves a cunt. "I figured.." Locke adds before he's looking back to the table and the spilled pints. "We didn't even finish them.." though that's more to himself than anything else.
"More than a few," says Kittridge at almost the same moment. He still glares at Benedict, expression hard and angry. "So what are you here for, then?" he asks, "Why come back if you're just going to leave again?"
"Maybe we should go somewhere quieter and talk," Benedict suggests. "You and Locke both deserve answers, but I'd rather not offer them in a tavern. We've a room, here. Could we go speak there, Kitt?"
Locke folds his arms over his chest right there and glowers at the pair of them. "Yes, we do." Because Locke is confused as all get out. But then he doesn't know all the intricacies of families, let alone things here in the riverlands.
Kittridge glowers, and crosses his arms against his chest. He looks ready to refuse, for a long moment, and then finally nods. "Fine," he says, and follows.
They head up the stairs, the three of them, and Benedict opens the door to the simple room he and his squire share at the inn. Glancing at the lad, he asks, "Locke, would you give Lord Groves and I a few moments to talk alone? I'll explain everything. I promise." The lad looks less than thrilled at his request, but he moves away, letting Kitt and Benedict have the room and privacy, for now. Leaning up against the wall, the hedge knight says, "I came back when I heard Terrick's Roost was under siege."
Kittridge glances at Locke as he exits, and then back to Nicodemus, folding his arms once more. He frowns when told he's been back that long, and starts to say something, and then pauses. "You were at Seagard," he says, "I saw you. Didn't I?"
Nicodemus shifts his weight a little and then he nods. "Those ditches were a nasty touch. Never saw quite so many horses downed at once."
"When Brynner went down, you were there," Kittridge says, "All that time in Seagard. And on the Isles?" He shakes his head, running a hand through his hair and shakes it again. "Why?" he asks, "Why are you here, now?"
"The Riverlands are my home. You're my family. I had do my part to defend them," Nicodemus answers with a shrug. "Terrick's Roost was taken, you think I was going to sit idle, imagining Kingsgrove would be claimed next?" He shakes his head, pushing his hand through hair badly mussed by Kitt's punching and his struggles to 'defend' himself. "I was hurt on Pyke and recovered in Riverrun. Lord Blackwood needed a small escort as he travelled to Stonebridge and I thought I might. I. I just wanted to see you."
"I thought I'd imagined it. Because it reminded me of the rebellion, so I imagined… but I saw you." Kit rubs at his face with both hands, not looking at his brother, eyes closed behind his fingers. "And what, you didn't want to before?" he asks, the words sharp as hands drop, "Just now, after all this time, suddenly you wanted to see me— us— again?"
"I always wanted to see you and the others, Kitt. But the Stepstones are much further away and it was something I could resist doing, so long as I kept busy. And then there was Locke…" Nicodemus frowns softly. "But we're here. It was more strength than I had to be here and not seek yo out."
"I thought you'd last a month," Kittridge says, shaking his head again, "Three, maybe, at the outside, if you included sailing time. You never even fucking wrote. Rosie cried for weeks. Weeks, Nico! And every day she asked if maybe you'd be back today. You promised her, you promised her you would come back. And you didn't even write. We thought you were dead. No, you should go," he says, suddenly shaking his head harder, like he's made up his mind, "If you're not going to stay, then you should just go. Everybody doesn't have to go through this bullshit again."
Nicodemus flinches back a little at that, but his head bows and he doesn't argue. "How could I write? What could I say? I've done nothing to be proud of since I left, save finding Locke."
"You could say you were alive? You could explain why the fuck you were gone? What was keeping you there so fucking long? Say you were sorry?" Kittridge shakes his head and rubs at his face again, "I don't know what you want me to say, Nic."
"Nothing. Don't say anything. You're right, I haven't a place here, anymore and it was unfair of me to ask." Nicodemus swallows, lifting his head and regarding his twin. "If I wanted to write those letters, would you deliver them?"
Kittridge doesn't respond right away. He paces towards the door, and stops, both hands at the back of his neck, fingers linked there, tight around his nape. "Yes," he says, then, "Maybe," and finally, "I need to think. Don't leave town yet." And with that he exits, heading quickly out of the room, down the stairs and out the common house.