Handle It

Title: Handle It
Time Period: January, 133 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: After his sister's disappearance from society for a month, Arthur comes to call deliberately while her husband is out, and makes a startling discovery about the state of the Saxons' marriage.

It isn't often that Arthur Banes is seen marching down the street with purpose. If anything, it's usually a relaxed meander, hands slipped into pockets as he makes his way to or from wherever he may be going, a grin on his face and a spring in his step - even when it's all put on. Well, either that, or he's sprinting down the way in the hopes of avoiding the meat cleaver wielding man changing after him, or the rifleman that he's wronged that evening. Usually one or the other. But rarely with outward determination painted across his face.

But tonight, that's exactly how he appears, hands clenched into fists as he nearly pushes one woman out of his way. The door to Patience's - well, the Saxon's - home waits before him. Eyes narrow as he approaches, ignoring the angered cries of the woman he had pushed aside. But for all that determination, the anger that sits in his eyes, there's a distinct air of nervousness, showing in the way he hesitates to knock once he reaches the door. He knows that Byron is away, overseeing one of his caravans, but he doesn't know if his sister will even be willing to see him. It's been almost a month since the last time he saw her as it is.

And that time didn't exactly leave him in the best state of mind either.

"Patience!" is shouted as he knocks repeatedly on the door, a flat expression on his face, the tone in his face similar. "Don't shut me out again, sister. Let me in."

Patience had been at the top of the stairs, venturing carefully from her bedroom, when Arthur started pounding on the front door. The usual business activity that would be going on in the house is conspicuously and deliberately absent during this trip of Byron's. They have been scarce since her second miscarriage started as a murmur trickling through the population of Kingsley, before it was confirmed.

To ensure peace and quiet for his wife's recovery, Byron had said.

Patience watches the stairwell for a solid several seconds as if it might shift and change before she could attempt to descend. Stairs have been difficult since… Well, it isn't peace and quiet that Byron's left the house empty for. Patience all but wraps her arms around the banister, leaning heavily against it as she makes her way down.

There is a mirror placed deliberately in the entryway by the lady of the house. Patience checks her reflection in it before she reaches for the handle. While most women would quick stuck a stray lock of hair into place or maybe pinch her cheeks for rosiness, Patience lays two fingers along the slope of her nose and closes her eyes. It appears mended - or how Arthur recalls it should look, anyway - in the time it takes her to open her eyes again.

Fading bruises and a cut on her lip are similarly absent when she finally grants her brother entrance. "Oh, just get in here," she hisses without any preamble. "You're going to cause a scandal. What in the world is the matter with you?"

"I can't imagine what kind of scandal could come from brother visiting his hermit sister?" Arthur inquires as he stands in the doorway for a moment, eyeing Patience, words spoken in a tone that could lead one to read accusation into them, if they were so inclined. Not entirely Arthur's intent, but not something he would deny either. "I can always go, if you'd rather," he continues, aiming his thumb back over his shoulder. There's no actual intention of leaving, evidenced by how he steps in afterwards.

"It's been nearly a month. I can't check in on you?" He eyes her deliberately as he unwinds the scarf from around his neck, holding it under arm as he steps further in. "So, how have you been?" This time with a smile as he turns back to her, arms opened a bit. "My sister disappearing off the earth, however warranted it might be, isn't exactly something I've enjoyed, you know?" His feet shift a bit, and he leans forward, pointing at her. "You left me with only the kids. That is a special kind of hell, I promise."

"I meant the shouting. So loud. I thought you were supposed to be good at subtle." She winces and immediately regrets the barb, and makes a point of shutting the door behind him and leaning her back against it so he can't decide he's offended and leave in a huff. "Of course you can check in on me," Patience responds gently this time. Hesitation is brief, but noticeable before she moves forward to both give and accept a hug.

Arthur's sister takes great care to hook her chin over his shoulder as she does so, so he can't see the way her face contorts from the twinges of pain that touch cause her, biting her lip against any audible betrayal of her injured condition.

When she withdraws, and he makes his quip about who he's been left alone with, and his opinion on that situation, she stares down at the floor. The melancholy takes hold in an instant. "Some of us aren't lucky enough to have children." She shouldn't have to remind him - doesn't have to remind him - why she's been so reclusive in the first place. Or at least the official story behind it. "I guess I just have no sympathy for you in this case."

Normally he'd retort back about how she could visit him at school then, or somesuch like that. But even in the mood he's in, he knows better than that. Still, he doesn't apologise for his comment, instead letting the smile drop in on his face. "Well, that's good then," he replies, clapping his hands together as he turns, opting to move on instead of acknowledge his sister's lack of sympathy for him. "Otherwise I might think you were starting to avoid me or something."

Hands slips into his pockets, scarf stuffed into the pocket inside as, for whatever reason, he takes the lead towards the parlor. "So. How're you doing? All that time cooped up in here must be killing you. How have you been?" Well, he knows how she's supposedly been doing, but he asks anyway, eyebrow quirked at her as he looks back over his shoulder. "It can't be all bad."

"Can't be all bad?" She echoes, some incredulity seeping into her tone. "It is all bad. Everything has been terrible since-" Patience stops herself, and takes a deep breath. "No. No, it isn't all bad, I suppose. I've just… I had hope, Arthur. I thought this time things would work out. I'd been so careful…"

Like she's careful now, in the way that she takes her movements slow so as to avoid limping, and she drags her fingertips along the wall in a manner that looks nothing more than idle. She's using it to steady herself, however. "Lord Byron's taken it particularly hard," Patience murmurs bitterly. "As if this loss was solely is."

She looks up and smiles tightly. "Don't misunderstand me, though. He gets by. More than. He deals with his grief the only way he knows how, I suppose." Being that Byron Saxon is as much a fixture at the local pub as he ever was, the implication that he drowns his sorrows in drink is heavy.

Arthur is silent for several moments following that, listening carefully, processing it all. He's aware how much of a drinker Byron Saxon could be. A convenient excuse, really, for him. "Yeah. I'm sure he does," Arthur mutters in return, before abruptly spinning back to face Patience, arms held out a bit ."What do you say to getting out tonight? Just tonight. Are you up for it? I don't know about grabbing a drink or anything, but at least a walk? I mean, it's got to be better than staying in here another night?"

He grins, just for a moment, before his hands fall back to his side. "I know you had hope, Patience, and I'm sorry. I just don't like that you've been stuck up in here the last month. I don't like that people have been turned away. It's worrying." Among other things, to say the least. "So, I think it's as good a time any to tell house rest to sod off and get out for a bit."

Patience looks frightened for a moment before she manages to pluck up enough courage to shake her head. "I'm really rather weak from the whole ordeal. I'd much prefer to stay inside. Your…" She trails off, silent for several seconds as she tries to find the right words.

"You're welcome to stay for a few hours. I wouldn't mind the company." Patience makes her way to a green velvet upholstered armchair and sits down heavily. She shifts uncomfortably, avoiding eye contact, or even looking at her brother at all. "I'm sorry you've been turned away. Mum and Dad, too. It wasn't my idea… Byron felt I needed my rest."

"Still?" Arthur replies, with no effort made to hide his disbelief. "I guess I can't say either way, having not been through anything so awful myself, but you were on your feet much faster…" he trails off, his expression sour. Even he realises that that was a bit much, and for a moment, he really does regret it. Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, he watches Patience carefully.

Arthur may not have the eye for detail his sister has, but in training himself not to give away when he's uncomfortable, lying, or being secretive, he's learned, sometimes, how to pick up on it in others. And his sister isn't exactly making it hard for anyone watching, not with her body language. And really, he's tired of trying to bait her into saying something more substantial, so instead he picks up a small, empty metal urn sitting not far from him and begins to look at it for a moment, before setting it back down. "I really would wish you'd cut the crap, Patience. It's unbecoming of you."

"Really? But you say I'm so lovely when I'm telling lies," Patience responds calmly. Then her gaze suddenly flicks over to the urn and her posture goes stiff, her chin lifting slightly. Swallowing the hard lump in her throat isn't disguised. Traitorous household items.

In an effort to downplay whatever it is her brother just saw, and she has a pretty good idea of what it was, she tells him, "It isn't what it looks like." Patience fusses with the dusty rose fabric of her skirt, wadding it up in her fingers and smoothing it out again in her lap. "He's just under a lot of stress because of the- Because of my- Because I lost the baby. Again." She tilts her head down and shuts her eyes. "And because I tried to hide it from him."

Arthur hadn't actually gleaned anything from the urn, but Patience doesn't need to know that. Not at the moment, at least - his inspection of her "traitorous household items" had come the last time he had been here, just before her month long internment within the walls of her own home.

If was because of that night that he's even here now.

"Oh?" he replies seemingly calm, finders dancing across the table where the urn sits until he pulls his hands back, trying to look Patience in the eye as best as he can. "I suppose that's fair. Both of you have every right to be every kind of upset," he replies with a bit of a shrug. He turns, looking towards the kitchen. "Do you mind if I get some water?" is asked nonchalantly enough, and he's already moving before she has an answer. "I don't think it gives him any right to say or do what he does. Do you? Or do you think I'm still off base?"

"Go on," Patience grants, looking toward the kitchen even as Arthur already begins to move in that direction. "I'll just wait here then, shall I?" isn't really a question. Taking a deep breath, she endeavours to answer the one he asked instead. "I don't think it really matters what I think Byron bloody Saxon should or should not be allowed to do when in his moods. It's been nearly six years, Arthur. Do you think I'd be here if it was what you think?"

Of course, even a very brief inspection of items in the kitchen will confirm that it is precisely what he thinks. A pot hanging from the ceiling has a story to tell. One that's happened since his last visit. When it recounts the words shouted, it speaks to him in his sister's voice. Byron, please! it cries out, breathless. Don't come any closer! The piece of cookware can't even be indignant about having been lobbed at Byron Saxon's head.

It does, however, feel sympathy about what happened next. From where it came to rest in the pantry, all it can tell Arthur is there was a terrible crash, and much more screaming.

He hadn't originally gone into the kitchen for an inspection, but his sister's continued denial of something he's already highly confident in prompts him to take a bit longer getting his drink that he had originally planned. And he's pretty sure Patience knows exactly what he's doing, she should know him well enough by now. "I've given up knowing what to expect, Patience," isn't meant to be, nor does it sound, snide. "Not since I became a teacher."

He grows quiet after that, having abandoned the pot for his ceramic cup, listening to it tell a similar story to the one the pot had told him, and his hand trembles a little, a bit of water spilling out to the floor. This time, her marches back into the parlor room, and looks dead at Patience. "Stop being stubborn. Tell me the goddamn truth."

Patience's head is already in her hand by the time Arthur returns. She had hope that her assessments of him would prove to still hold true. That he wouldn't want to get involved in her mess. She only looks up at him when he's suddenly so stern.

Unexpectedly. "When have you ever cared about the truth?" Tears well up in Patience's eyes, but the remain unshed for now. "Especially when a lie is so much more convenient. For the both of us." Resolve makes her own expression hard. "I told you before you don't want to know what goes on in my house." Back when all of Kingsley believed her to be in love.

"Wha-" Arthur's eyes widen and then narrow. "Why do I care? Are you high?!" he retorts, arms jerking out in a manner that spills more water from his cup on to the floor. Now he's just a step below shouting as he moves closer to her, finger pointed at her as he takes his steps. " I've been a part of your family for, what, 16 years? I have done so much, even if it wasn't what you would've liked, for this family, you and I have worked so hard to make sure things are okay, and you have the gall to ask me why I care? I can't believe you!"

He continues to stare at her in disbelief for a moment, a hand running back through his hair as he leans back and takes a sip of what's left of his water. "So, what, you think because I lie I don't care about you? If that the case, than I'll just fuck off right now and you won't have to worry about me caring anymore," he threatens, taking another sip of the water. "But if you think I'm going to be the only who knows for long, you're wrong. Byron may not sleep with whores as much any more, but he practically brags to them about things when he's drunk." He stops, taking a deep breath and closing his eyes. "How long?"

In truth, she expected the world would figure out what was going on in the Saxon house once Patience's husband had finally gone too far, and he would have to explain how his pretty little wife had died. It's the shouting that finally causes her to break down. So much instinct had been learned over the past few years of her marriage, and when Arthur raises his voice, Patience shrinks back and moves to shield her face without a second thought. A ragged sob escapes her lips, and it takes her a long moment to gather her wits and realise what's happening here.

Arthur seems unperturbed when his sister retreats back at his shouting. He really should have expected it, given how she's bee treated over the last few years. The sob catches him a little off guard, but he remains stone faced. What does catch him off guard is when Patience lowers her hand, and all her wounds come up for the world to see, and in the moment Arthur is simply stunned, stuck slack jawed and shoulders slumping as he comes to fully see what's been inflicted on his sister.

And then anger sets in.

"That bastard," he chokes out, grip tightening on the cup in his hand so much that, if he still had his magic working, he could hear it crying out as a small crack forms along the side. "How could you never tell me about this, Patience?! Are you mad? Daft? Fucking hell, look what that man has done to you! You're supposed to be be beautiful, not a battered down house wife!" He motions at his sister with both hands at those words, bringing back tor est at the side of his neck. "You know I can't let you stay here, right?"

"I did it for you!" Patience shouts, voice cracking. "So you wouldn't have to go back to the old way of things! So you could stay a teacher! And be honest, and decent, and good, and everything that I love about you!" The tears keep spilling down her cheeks as she continues, lip curled in disgust and anger. "Byron's so drunk he doesn't even remember what he's done half the time. We wake up the next morning, and I look as beautiful as I ever did." And there's the barest hint of pride to her voice, that she's been able to fool her own husband, and keep her magic a secret from him in the process.

With a shaky hand, she reaches up to wipe at her face. "He gets so damned confused. But he was stone sober the night that he…" Patience's breath hitches, caught in her throat for a moment. "The night he found out I'd tried to cover everything up. I was so weak, I couldn't make the magic strong enough… That's why I had to stay locked away in here. He was aware of it. All of it. Every single mark he put on me." She sniffles and doesn't think twice about pressing the back of her arm to her nose gingerly, wiping it with her sleeve. She can't look any worse to her brother than she does in this very moment. Both physically, and in terms of reputation.

"I can't leave. He'll find me. You'll be the first person he checks with. Then Mum and Dad. He'll kill me, Arthur. And he'll kill you, too." Slender fingers burrow into golden curls. "Byron grew up here, remember. He knows you and I aren't really siblings." Her pale green eyes come up then and fix steadily on Arthur's, as if she could convey whatever meaning those words are meant to hold with only a look.

"I never asked you to take beatings for me!" Arthur shouts right back. "You're the one who changed the plan, remember?" He knows, deep down, that this probably isn't the best time to be throwing things back in his sister's face, but he's so angry at this point that it really doesn't matter to him. "Did you even consider going back to him? Fuck, mum and dad are well off enough by now that we probably could've had it both our ways!" Well, probably not, but Arthur would like to think so. Not that, he can admit, Patience ever totally had her way.

And listening on about how Byron barely even knows, well that certainly doesn't help things, both hands grasping at fistfuls of hair out of frustration. "You- God, I never wanted this Patience, and I don't believe for a second that you did either. Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell anyone??! Do you really have that little faith?" And that outburst is punctuated by him slamming down the ceramic cup, unintentionally rendering it to pieces against the furniture beside him. He stares for a minute, before turning back to Patience.

"You have to tell someone now. It's the right thing to do. You know it. I know it. I don't care if he doesn't remember it." Pulling his glasses off and wiping his brow, he centres his gaze directly on patience, a dark look in his eyes as he stares down at her. "And if he even thinks about doing a thing to any of us about it, I'll make him regret it."

"I chose to do this," Patience responds in a low voice, anger at being blamed coursing through her. He isn't even listening. "You didn't ask me to, but I knew what would happen if I didn't. That womanising son of a bitch would have come after us. He'd ruin us. All of us. Every last bit of influence we managed to obtain would be destroyed. And we'd go back to lying, cheating, and stealing." And while Arthur may find some thrill in it, Patience never has.

She listens to him calmly, because it's all she can do to keep from falling apart entirely. When he asks the question, does she really have that little faith, her response is so quiet and simple, it's drowned out entirely by the shattering glass.

Yes.

Yes, she has that little faith. Patience blames Arthur as much as Arthur blames Patience. If he hadn't insisted she get married, she wouldn't be here. If she hadn't insisted she stay married, she wouldn't be here. But if he hadn't given her every reason to believe that their lives would be better, that his life would be better… If she hadn't felt so marginalised by the scheme in the first place, maybe she would have had more faith.

"Byron has his fingers in every pie in the county. He has many, many more people to do to us what you're thinking about doing to him." It's a very, very slow movement when Patience pushes herself up out of her seat to stand, but when she does it, she stands up tall. "I will handle this. Don't you dare undermine me now."

"And you really think that those people would support a man who beats his wife like this? Maybe turn a blind eye in the face of good, but goddamnit, Patience, you sound like you're expecting a mob. That's insane!" Granted, most people would probably find this whole discussion insane, but that's not something that Arthur seems particularly worried about. He rubs his face, looking almost desperately around the room, as if for something.

"Good lord, I think living with him has left you more cynical than me, sister. Ruin us? If you reasonably, and as calmly as you can, leave him for beating you? I doubt even his own mother would support him in that case." There's more than a bit of suggestion in that statement, Arthur's hands moving over his forehead. "I swear, if you don't do something about this, Patience, I will," he says a bit more calmly. "I can't just sit here knowing this is going on. And if you want me to…" He stops just short of saying maybe I'll just go, but the thought can be seen in his eyes, in the way he looks towards the door.

"Don't you dare tell his mother," Patience warns. "I will handle this." Hopefully in a manner that is different from the way she's been handling it. She lets her head hang, hunching her shoulders. It's unbecoming to see her mope in such a way. She wonders why she feels so much shame when she's the one who was smart enough to fool everyone for once. Even the master himself.

"I just wanted you to be taken care of," Patience whispers. "Byron scares me. He always has, but I didn't want either of us to be… To bring anyone else in on this. Our biggest…" She lifts her gaze again. "This is our business. Always between us. You think you can keep other people in line because you have things on them. Well, so does Byron. He doesn't need a mob to be a threat." That much should be obvious from the looks of her. "Just let me do this my way. I'll make things right. I promise."

"Forgive me if I'm the one who's lacking faith now," Arthur replies somewhat defiantly. "I can take care of myself, Patience. Even when I'm not off cheating people out of their things, I do fine for myself." He likes to think so, at least, and when doesn't, give the impression that he does. "But fine, you wanna handle this? You handle this. I just hope it's better than the fool way you've handled it so far." He stares at her, eyes narrowed, before he turns and begins to walk away.

"I've heard 'just let me do this my way' before," he says with a look back over his shoulder, "and look where that's gotten you now. Think about that a bit, Patience, when you're deciding just how you want to handle it." Hands back into pockets, he looks like he's headed for the door now. "But believe me, nothing you do will stop this short of leaving. I promise you that."

Patience Banes-Saxon's heart just about stops in her chest when her brother turns to leave. She stands frozen where she is, almost disbelieving that he's turned his back on her. When he looks back to her, her illusions are back in place and she again appears as if nothing's wrong. "I suggest you work on your alibis. Get out there, and make sure you're being seen."

Determination makes pale green eyes hard. Harder than Arthur's known them to look. "When I act, I want it to be perfectly clear to everybody that I've acted alone. Do you understand me? I've driven people half mad before," not that she's proud of it, "and I can do it again. I'll convince him to let me go. One way or another."

The illusions being back just gets Arthur to shake is head when he looks back at her. "I'm a teacher, Patience. I have a built in alibi." It seems to have worked well enough for him so far, and he doubts that this'll be anything different, even if he isn't entirely sure what his sister has planned. And really, that's the part that bothers him the most - that he has no idea what she's going to do.

He turns back around fully, eyeing her carefully. "Don't do anything drastic. Or stupid," sounds more like advice than chastising. "Hurting him will only look bad to us. And making your self seem mad or crazed… well, I'd rather you come out of this without being strung up or thrown into the bin because everyone thinks you've absolutely lost it." He sighs,s tepping back towards her. "YOu want my advice? Just drop the illusions and let everyone see things they way they are for once. The truth works better than anything else for this." He pauses, the irony of this not lost on him as he smirks. "Isn't it always funny how that sort of thing works out?" he inquires, clapping his hands together.

A thin smile serves as all the clue to what Patience has up her sleeves that Arthur is going to get. "Aren't I supposed to be the one to tell you not to do anything stupid? Go on, then. I have thinking to do." Her approach is slower than it should be, but she takes his arm as if to be escorted back to her own front door. "Would you tell Mum that I'll come by for dinner on Sunday? Will you be there, too?"

"I guess we finally switched places, Arthur laments, watching her carefully as she approaches. "I had business plans on Sunday," actual legit ones too, "but I'm sure they can wait a weekend. I'd rather be there when you come to visit." He lets his arm be taken, turning his attention back on the door as he walks in silence beside his sister. It's only when they reach the door that he turns to face her and speaks up again. "Please, be careful, Patience. I always worry about you, and this doesn't make it any better. Do something about this. Not for me, for you." Or he might himself, and Patience knows it.

"Please, don't change your plans on my behalf. There will be other dinners." Patience leans up to drop a kiss on Arthur's cheek. "I'm all grown up now," she murmurs wryly. "You taught me very well." Which is as much ominous as it is reassuring.

"It's nothing. I'd rather be back with you all, anyway." Arthur replies with a small shrug as he turns back to the door. "Dinner with family is much more enjoyable than a stuffy dinner with book traders. They'll be in Cheshire through the month anyway." Releasing Patience's arm, a hand moves back to the door knob as he looks back at her, his gaze once again stern. "We have yet to see about that," he says a bit more sharply. "Don't mess this up, Patience. But don't just sit here either."

Fooled you, didn't I? would be asking for more trouble than it's worth. "I won't mess this up. I believe my stake in this is quite a bit larger than yours," she reminds gently instead. Now that the initial shock has worn off, and it's all out in the open, Patience can work on damage control all around. "I'll see you on Sunday then, I suppose?"

"If not sooner," Arthur remarks as he turns the handle and pulls the door open. "I know you hate it when I feel the need to check on you, but I think I have plenty of reason to pop in again now," he asserts, pulling his scarf back out of his jacket and wrapping it around his neck. "And I will pop back in. If only so I can see my sister after a long month," he adds, looking back at her. "Don't let him touch you again," serves as a final whispered word before he steps out the door and starts on his way.

"Just… I know you won't be, but don't be obvious about it when you do." Patience steps back to give her brother room to take his leave. "I mean it, Arthur. Make sure you aren't keeping to yourself. Get out there, and be seen. Even if you just sit with a book and a pint." She can't even try to smile when she tells him, "It'll all be over soon."

"Right, right," Arthur says with a smile and a wave back at her as he walks away. "I'll get right on that. I promise. Just as long as you mean that, though." Sliding his glasses back on to his face, he reaches into his jacket and pulls out a book, looking around as he decides where to head from here.

A book and a pint? That sounds like a pretty good plan right now.

Patience leans heavily back against the door after she closes it in her brother's wake. Her eyes shut and she heaves an exhausted sigh. Steeling herself, she stands up straight again and starts forward out of the entry way.

This is going to take a lot of planning.