|Why Is This So Hard?|
|Summary:||That's what she said! No, really, she did.|
|Related Logs:||What Might Have Been and What May Yet Be|
|Kingsgrove - The Pond|
|It's a pond near Braeburn House. It's in like half their logs.|
|29 May 289|
If Day isn't with Rosanna, there are three likely places to find her — the mill pond, the library, or Dominick's cottage, helping to blow something up. Rarely, if ever, the family sept — for she's a rather bad septa, it is known. But she's an excellent rock skipper, and this evening, directly after the reunited family's awkward supper, she's doing precisely that along the mill pond's pebble-strewn shore. Four skips, plunk. Five skips, plunk. A somewhat disappointing three. She stoops to ferret out more likely skipping stones, the glassy surface of the water reflecting the fading light.
Kittridge isn't looking for anyone, really. If anything, he's looking to get away from everyone, but he ought to know that the pond is not the best choice for that, even late in the evening. Still, that is where he goes, shirt and wineskin both trailing from a hand as he makes his way towards the water. He stops to remove boots and trousers, and say, "Please don't hit me with a rock," to Day before heading into the water.
She doesn't. Hit him with a rock, that is. Though she does look, for a moment, sorely tempted. "Should I be offended at this casual display?" she wonders, skipping a stone near him in any event. It splashes him a tiny bit.
"Never have been before, not sure why you'd start now," Kittridge replies. He doesn't notice the stone skipped near him, ducking under the water and remaining there for a long minute before surfacing again and slicking his hair back with both hands. He floats in the shallows, half-sitting on the pebbley bottom of the pond, and unstoppers the wine to take another drink.
Day sighs, gathering up her skirts to wade out to him. She simply stands there considering him a moment, then asks, "Are you really so unhappy to have your brother back?"
"Don't sigh at me," Kittridge rolls his eyes. "So what if I was? Really unhappy? Would that be so wrong?"
Day rolls her eyes back at him, but more elaborately, plunking down in the shallows (clothes and all) to mirror his sulk. Still, she gives her answer some consideration. "You feel what you feel," she says, finally. "I'm not sure right and wrong are appropriate values to ascribe to feelings."
Kittridge drinks and then offers the wine over, shrugging as he draws his knees up and then stretches them back out again. "It would seem fair to, since you can't help them," he agrees of her assessment, and then shrugs. "I don't know what I feel," he admits, "I'm not unhappy that he's back, but… I can't seem to be happy, either."
Day waves off the wine. "I don't expect you came out here intending to share," she says with a wry smile. She places a hand on his shoulder, then shifts to drape her arm around him. "If it makes you feel any better — neither can I. And we want to, don't we? Feel one way or the other. Our hearts and minds are very uneasy in ambivalence… and it's exhausting."
"I didn't," Kittridge confirms, "But I will if you want some." When she rests an arm over his shoulders, he lifts one of his arms to set it, still dripping, around her shoulders in turn. "It is exhausting," he agrees, sounding relieved at discovering she understands, "I wish I could just feel one thing about it. Either be happy he's back or not, and just… be one or the other. Done. Decided. Going back and forth between them for weeks has been driving me mad."
The septa sighs, placing a fond and sympathetic kiss on Kitt's temple. "I know," she says, voice pitched low and soothing. "But it will pass. I promise. Your heart and mind, right now, are like… a pendulum set swinging by a great force — back and forth to extremes. In time, they'll find center once again. It just takes time."
"And trying to decide whether I should tell, whether I should let any of you know… I'm sorry I didn't tell you," Kittridge says, "I just… he was saying he wasn't going to stay. That he just wanted to say hello and then leave again, and I thought it would just be worse." He lets out a sigh of his own, and gives Day's shoulders a squeeze. "So… what do we do in the meantime?" he asks, "While we wait for the pendulum to stop swinging?"
"It's all right," Day says, softly. "I've known for a while now. Once the rumors started circulating about your dust-up in the common house…" She rests her head on his shoulder. "I wish I knew. What to do, that is. I mean, there's no avoiding it. The only way out is through. So I guess we just hold on tight. Try not to get motion sick."
"You did? Oh," Kit says, taking that in. "I wish you'd told me you knew," he tells her, the words too mild to hold any reproach, "I almost asked you what I should do a dozen times and then decided it was better you didn't know." He sets a hand on her hair as she leans on his shoulder, and nods. "Just wait. I guess so." He sighs, and amends, "Wait and drink."
"I'm not sure I could have given you good advice, just then," Day whispers, the ache in her chest making her words fragile. "I was in shock. I was in pain. I was — I wasn't ready to talk about it." She lifts her head. "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you."
"We could've been in shock together," Kit replies, and then shrugs, saying, "Everyone knows now. It's all…worked out, I guess. I should've made it Father's problem sooner."
Day utters a faint laugh, turning her face to his. "The last time we were in shock together, things got… awkward."
Kittridge snorts softly, a crooked smile flickering briefly across his lips. "It wasn't that bad, was it? I guess I don't remember it fondly, exactly, but." He shrugs and the hint of humor fades and he looks away again, down at the wineskin floating in front of him. "Oh well."
"No," Day breathes a soft, abashed laugh. "No, it wasn't bad in the slightest. It was sort of — how I prefer it. Absent the wretched grief, subsequent shame, and both of us trying to pretend it never happened."
"Yeah, minus all that," Kittridge replies with a wry chuckle. "Should've just picked me to start with," he says, teasing, "Could've saved yourself a lot of trouble."
Day flashes a quick, sad smile, giving his shoulder a gentle shove with her own. "I can't argue with that," she murmurs, bittersweet.
Kittridge bumps her shoulder right back, and replies dryly, "I should hope not. I'd have to seriously question you judgment." He smiles briefly, brittley, and then suddenly groans, loudly and dramatically, and flops backwards into the water with a great splashing of arms.
Day laughs at the groan and the great splash that follows. She shakes the water out of her hair, wiping droplets from her eyes. "You might have called 'timber' or some sort of warning," she rebukes, splashing him in return.
"Where's the fun in that?" Kit replies as he resurfaces. He gets a faceful of water from the splash and sputters, reaching out to grab Day's shoulder and drag her back for a dunking.
She's dunked easily enough, caught off balance and — let's face it — already pretty much soaked. She comes up sputtering and laughing, clinging to him — if she goes under again, she's taking him with her. Laughter fades, though not mirth, simply becoming something… quieter… as her lashes lower and her nose brushes his.
Kit makes sure she's good and dunked before she's allowed up, not that that takes more than a second or two. He's had plenty of practice, after all. Her resurfacing quiet so close is maybe unexpected, or… maybe not. He doesn't seem particularly surprised, and rather than draw back, he tilts forward that hair's breadth to kiss her.
Day makes a sweet, soft sound as their lips meet, the fingers of one hand twining in his hair, fingertips of the other resting lightly against his collarbone. Her mouth is a warm and welcoming thing, her kiss touched with gentle teases of teeth and tongue.
His hair, wet, is a tangled mess, as is hers, no doubt, which is maybe why Kit just curves his hand around the back of her head and doesn't try to slide into it. The end result is the same: he kisses her back, leaning onto a hand and a hip to draw her closer.
She groans softly, drawn closer with a willing sigh, this… being in so many ways the opposite of their furious, stricken coupling in the library, years ago. Though it strangely enough involves Nic. Again. Still, the kissing is heated but slow, drawn out like taffy, languid and delicious.
Shhh, it doesn't involve Nic at all there's just them here. Kittridge cants his head to deepen the kiss, though even long-overdue as it is, he still doesn't push too fast, eager but patient. After a while, one kiss blurring into the next til time becomes difficult to gauge, he says, "We should get out of the water."
"What water?" murmurs Day, lips curving against him — the briefest, sweetest of interruptions to the steady stream of kisses. She kisses him with her smile, not resisting a change of venue, per se, but not quite done tasting him yet.
Kit snrks briefly, and doesn't insist, letting another while go by before he draws back and away, getting to his feet and reaching down to help Day to hers. "Come on," he says. He grabs the wine, too. Can't leave that.
Day accepts the hand up, fully clothed and soaked to the skin — whereas Kit is soaked to the skin and… not clothed at all. Her lashes drift down as she looks him over, unable to help herself. "You're a very lovely man, my lord," she murmurs, lips still curved faintly
Kittridge snorts, and picks up his clothes, tugging on his trousers and using his shirt to rub at dripping hair. "Don't call me that," he replies, reaching out for her hand, "I'm done being a good lord for today."
She takes his face in her hands and leans up to kiss him — once, passionately. "You're a very lovely man, Kit," she corrects herself, nipping his bottom lip before settling back onto her feet and giving him her hand.
"Better," Kit allows, with a crooked wisp of a smile, "Still not sure 'lovely' is my favorite, but. I'll take it." He runs his teeth over his lip after she lets it go, and takes her hand, heading back towards the house.
Still rather flushed, pulse fluttering, Day squeezes his hand and moves to part from him as the approach Braeburn. "We shouldn't both go in the front. Like this."
"I wasn't planning to," Kittridge replies, "I'd rather sneak up the back stairs anyway, less chance of somebody wanting to talk to me." Which apparently he is not in the mood for just now. "I'll go on ahead, you meet me there."
Day nods quickly, taking a breath as though to say — something. But she doesn't. She only hesitates in the moment where there seems there should be a kiss for parting, but of course there's too great a chance of being seen — and off she goes.
Kittridge waits in his room, standing by the window, which is, as it almost always is, thrown open to let the air in, even as the evening cools. Curtains ruffle in the breeze, along with his drying hair as he leans both hands on the sill and peers out. It's all very picturesque.
It takes a few minutes for Day to join him, having to time her sodden sneaking so that she doesn't encounter anyone in the halls. Finally, the door opens, just far enough and long enough for her to slip inside. She finally breathes when it's shut behind her.
When the door shuts, it takes another moment for Kit to turn and step away from the window. "You made it," he says, smiling, though it's still a crooked shadow of his usual grin. He pushes away from the windowsill to cross the room.
Day smiles in return, a delicate wisp for his crooked shadow. "Cold and clammy and — inexplicably very nervous… but here."
At the mention of being cold, Kittridge twist back to push the shutters mostly closed, and then head across the room again. He scrubs at the back of his head, and then reaches out for her shoulder, thumb brushing across her collarbone. "You being nervous makes me nervous," he says, a laugh in his tone. He leans down and rests his forehead against hers, eyes closing.
She laughs as well, shivering — in the wet and cold way, alas. "There's no hurry," she assures him, or perhaps both of them. "But… do you have something dry I can wear?"
Kittridge draws back to laugh, a real laugh, this time, though he quiets it quickly less someone in the hall hear. His lips twitch and he nods, "Sure, 'course." He heads for his wardrobe, rummaging up a shirt, which he offers over, along with a towel.
Her smile brightens for that laugh — and she hesitates only a second before stripping to the skin and pulling his shirt over her head. She vigorously towels her hair, does a chilly little dance, then dives into bed. Beds are warm.
Beds are warm, and Kit's is no exception. It is also comfy. He tugs the blankets back only briefly to slide in next to her, and stretch out once he's up to his chin.
She turns to face him, scooching closer so she can benefit also from the warmth of his body. She takes his hands, simply looking into his eyes. "Why is this so hard for us?" she wonders, softly — not seeming terribly troubled by it, but matter of fact. Conversational, but warm. Talking, at least, is easy for them.
"I don't know," Kittridge admits, looking down at their hands, turning his to link fingers with hers. "I've always wanted to. I'm not sure why it is how it is. I guess…" He strokes the back of her thumb, and shrugs, "I guess maybe I just… worry. More. About how it'd be if it went wrong."
Day nuzzles the tip of her nose against his, brushing a sweet, chaste kiss against his lips. "Let's talk, then, about what could go wrong."
"Do we have to?" Kit mumbles back against her lips, smiling faintly.
"I get the feeling we do," chuckles Day. "If we ever want to get around to doing this right — or feeling right about not doing it. Or… something."
Kit chuckles back, and nods a little, sighing, "Alright. Guess that's not wrong."
She kisses him again, whispering against his lips, "So… what are we afraid of? Jealousy? Expectations?"
Kittridge makes a sound in the back of his throat, and scrubs at his hair. "I don't want to not be friends. You, and me, and Rosie, and… it's good," he says, "I don't want to hurt it."
Day laughs. "I know that. Neither do I," she replies. "What I think we need to talk about is what we're afraid might hurt it. Surely it's not the act itself. There's nothing inherently wrong with taking pleasure and solace in one another."
"Oh," Kit says. He frowns a bit, considering. "I don't know," he admits, "Not expectations precisely, but… not being on the same page? 'cause to be honest I don't really know which page I'm on."
"Let me try," says Day, running fiingers through his drying hair. "You love me. I love you. We're not in love, or the longing for one another all this time… it would have been intolerable, long ago. Never mind now. We wouldn't be able to discuss this like rational beings. Love," she says with a sad smile, "that kind of love… is a potent, mind-addling folly. But…" kisses him again, "that is the first thing we needn't worry about."
Kittridge…frowns. And draws back. "That… I— no." He shakes his head, and sits up, drawing away, "That is why this doesn't work. I don't want to be his second-rate replacement."
Day blinks. And frowns, as well. She sits up. "Kit, you're not in love with me."
"I was once," Kit replies, looking down at his hands with a twist of a sad smile, "And I guess… I guess I'm not, anymore, but… that doesn't mean I want to be the watered-wine version of what you had with him."
"That doesn't seem quite… fair, Kit," Day says, gently and surprisingly without blame. She slips a hand into his. "So you want me to be in love with you — even though it would be unrequited — so that you're on even footing with what your brother once had?"
Kit snorts faintly, and shrugs, "I'm sure if you did — love me like that — that I'd feel it again. For you." He shakes his head, smiles self-deprecatingly, "I didn't say it was smart. Or fair."
Day raises both her eyebrows, then laughs and moves to wrap him up in her arms. "Oh, Kit," she whispers, fondly. "I don't think it works that way, my darling. I think if I were in love with you… you'd wish you were in love with me, and you might even convince us both of it for a time… but it would end in tears."
"Doesn't really matter whether it works that way or not, does it?" Kit replies, still with that self-mocking half-smile, "We both know you're not in love with me, and if you aren't by now, you're never going to be. I think if all these years of charm haven't earned me that a few more aren't likely to do it," he jokes.
"I love you more than words can possibly say," Day whispers, kissing his forehead and holding him tighter. "But that — I don't know if I'll ever feel that. For anyone. Again." She kisses the top of his head — more so her tears will slip unnoticed into his hair than anything. "I'm sorry."
"I know," Kit replies. He lifts a hand to stroke her arm, soothingly, and then says, "I know I'm being a girl about this, but… I don't know. I don't know if we can just play around and expect it won't turn ugly when— when he wants you back."
Day nods. "I didn't know," she admits, softly. A little ashamed. "That you loved me once. That's… an easy thing to feel again, or… think you do, anyways. When you're fucking." Not to put to fine a point on it.
Kit laughs a little. "Really?" He shakes his head, and rakes a hand through his hair, "'course I did. I guess you were too caught up to notice." He smiles, but there's nothing that isn't wry or rueful behind it. He leans over to press a kiss to Day's cheek, resting his forehead against her temple for a moment, and then draws back, and sets his shoulders. "Anyway," he says, tone suddenly light, subject changed, "Can you imagine if Rosanna found out? It'd be a nightmare. Probably no point in risking that."
Day nods, managing a smile for him — but it's fragile. It melts away almost instantly, like a snowflake. "Would you just hold me, please?" she asks, softly. "Maybe, tonight… we can just do that."
"I can do that," Kit replies quietly. His smile lasts a bit longer than hers, and he shifts to slide back down under the covers again, and wrap his arm around her shoulders, drawing her in against his chest.
Day closes her eyes, tucking herself close to him, her head beneath his chin. If there's a melancholy ache in the comfort of his arms… at least there's comfort. She contents herself to sleep in the arms of someone who loved her once, and who she might have loved. For just a moment, she lets it be enough.