Attempting to Heal the Rift
((This scene is a collaboration between the players of Patience Sharrington and James Bullen))
The entire night has been filled with Patience replaying the conversation in her head. Sleep does not come for her, but she does feel better laying down. She thinks the brandy must have sat poorly within her belly. Perhaps her child is destined never to have a taste for it. When the sun hits her eyes, she decides it is time to rise. Despite the dark circles which have made themselves present under her eyes, she dresses and does her best not to look absolutely wrecked as she opens the door. She is almost not surprised to see James outside of the room. "We have better places to sleep, you know."
All night, Bullen had sat outside the door to their room, his mind running over his terrible mistake and wishing he had never been cursed with meeting Eliza. Perhaps it would have been best for Patience if he had never come to Tyrehampton to begin with. Then she would not be trapped in a marriage she must certainly now regret. As he hears the door open, he looks up, too tired to get to his feet right away. Patience looks rather worse for wear, and it is simply another weight on the guilt lying like a stone in his gut. "I could not..." He shakes his head, looking away after a moment. "I could not be that far away from you. And I knew you did not wish me to be in the room."
She looks down at him, and contemplates sinking down onto the floor next to him. Instead, Patience steps back, and folds her arms around her. Words evade her. She wants to yell at him for making her feel so wretched, though she is not sure she has the energy. "You are right. But now I feel bad that you slept on the floor." She frowns at him, though she knows that what she says likely will not make him feel as bad as she feels. Would that even be worth it?
Bullen sighs and gets to his feet finally, though he stays leaned against the wall. "You need not feel bad. I did not sleep." He realizes this may only make her feel worse, if that is even possible after what he's wrought. "That is, I could not have rested wherever I might have gone. And at least I knew I would be nearby should you need me." He looks down at his feet, his boots having never been taken off. The hallway feels too small for both them and the guilt of his terrible choices, but he does not wish to step away from her yet.
"Well then." Her tone is clipped, and again, she is not sure what to say. She has questions, but she knows she does not want the answers. In fact, part of her does not want to bring up the situation at all. She wishes it could just be forgotten. However, she knows herself far too well to think she will forget the fact that her husband had gone to see a woman to ensure he did not love her, mere days before they were married. "Well, I did not need you, did I?"
He watches her as well as he can without fully looking up at her, noting the dark circles and paler than normal complexion. The worry gnaws at him, and he wants nothing so much as to pull her to him to comfort her. This is not what she would want though, so he folds his arms somewhat awkwardly over his chest instead. "It seems you didn't. For which I am glad, as I was quite concerned." He glances up finally, meeting her eyes for a moment before shame forces him to look away again. "Are you feeling well enough for breakfast? I can make you some toast and tea."
His concern is enough to make rage bubble in her chest. If he is so concerned he should have considered his actions. She wonders what else he might have kept from her. After all, they have not truly known one another for very long. "No. I am not hungry." She is still feeling the familiar pangs in her stomach, and she knows eating might help, but she is feeling stubborn. "I think I may go visit with my brother today."
For a moment he stares at her, trying to determine if she means it or if she simply does not want anything to do with him, even if it is something as simple as breakfast. He supposes he deserves it even if that is what it is, though he can hardly bear the idea of it. If she were not pregnant she could simply return to her brother, and leave him alone with his guilt. When she says she will see her brother, he panics a bit. He does not know the man well, but he finds he fears what he might do should she tell Mr. Sharrington what he has done. "Patience..." He does not wish to tell her what to do so he makes himself nod and move past her to head downstairs. It is obvious she wants nothing more to do with him. As he reaches the top of the stairs, he turns back to her. "If you would prefer it, Pay, I can leave. I would not leave you and the baby for anything, but... I don't have to stay if you hate the sight of me. There are posts elsewhere that I could take if it would make things... easier."
A large part of her wants to tell Thomas what happened. Actually, perhaps that is going too far. She merely wants James to think that she will tell Thomas. She knows that her brother can be volatile, but she doubts he would do anything except laugh at her now. She is out of his hands. Still, the very look on his face when she says it makes her wish to stick to such a story. She opens her mouth to tell him she will be spending the rest of the week with Thomas, but then he continues. /Leave/. He is suggesting to leave her. Her eyes immediately well with tears. "Really?"
He is not expecting her to cry. Not at all. He thought her to be so angry with him still that she must wish him dead, or at least far away from her. Certainly her inability to be around him caused her not to wish for him to be in their bed, or making her breakfast. For a moment he stands confused before shaking his head. "Only if it is what you would wish, Patience. I do not /want/ to leave you. But if you cannot bear to be around me, I would not make you do so. I could go as far away as you would like, or stay as near as you'll have me. You need only say the word."
"Why is this your first instinct?" she asks, her voice teary, but also sharp. "Are you so guilty you cannot even face me? You will just run away." She shakes her head and turns away from him. Her slender fingers reach her eyes to blot away unshed tears. "Is it so easy for you to just leave that you do not even care to try?" Perhaps it is what she deserves. Maybe James always was too good to be true.
"I... it is not my /instinct/, Patience. I only thought..." He sighs wishing he could take her in his arms. He practically aches with being unable to. The last thing he wanted when he offered was to make her cry. "It is not /easy/ for me to leave at all. I want to stay, to fix things, but I do not know how, and I do not know if you even /wish/ to fix things." Sitting down on the first step, he buries his face in his hands, mumbling through them, "I do not even know if this /can/ be fixed. Perhaps I have too gravely injured what we have." After a moment he lifts his head again, giving her a pleading look. "Please tell me I am wrong, that I have not ruined this permanently. I cannot bear it."
"I do not know either! But I do know that we would not stand a chance at it if you were to leave." She swallows convulsively. What does she want? Maybe part of her wishes to go back to before she had fallen pregnant. That is impossible though, and what would it accomplish? Perhaps he would have found himself with this Eliza and she would not be here feeling so wretched. "You cannot leave me alone with our child."
"But you /do/ wish to try?" A seed of hope finds its way into his chest, though it can hardly breathe through the brambles of guilt and shame that have grown there. He is still not certain whether what he has shattered can ever be repaired, but if she thinks there is a chance, if /she/ is willing to attempt it, then certainly he will do everything he can to bring it about. It is enough to drive him to his feet, to cross to her and take her hand. "Patience, I would not leave you alone with our child if you did not wish it. I would never leave you if I were allowed to stay. I only thought it was what you wanted. I am unsure I could have survived so long away from you, but if it would have given you some thread of happiness, or at least less hurt, then I would have attempted to bear it."
She feels the familiar pang of frustration rising in her chest. What choice does she have but to try? And even so, in her hours of thinking, of replaying every word written and said, she wonders if she would not have done the same if she had been in love before him. It does not make her feel any better on the subject, nor any less hurt. "I do not wish to lose you. Even if I am upset." She cannot bring herself to look at him, if she does she might cry. "Our child deserves for us to try."
For a moment, he stares at her, before lifting her knuckles to his lips. "You know you need not lose me as long as you wish me to stay. Scream at me, strike me, whatever it takes to feel better about things, but if you wish me to remain, then of course I will." His eyes flit to her abdomen and he wants badly to place his hand there, as if to reassure himself somehow that if nothing else remains of their love, that small piece of it always will. "Of course. And try we will. I /am/ glad you do not wish me to leave. The thought of doing so was killing me."
Patience does not pull away as he kisses her hand. Her mind is too busy reeling from the very thought of her own parents. Her father, as horrible as they come, and her mother complacent in it all. No. She will not strike him, or scream at him. Not right now. She wants to be better than they were, and she needs to put aside what happened--for their child. It becomes almost like a chant. "I just want you to stay.""
The word /want/ repeats over and over in his head. That she /wants/ him there, despite his choices, makes him breathe slightly easier. He even manages a small smile, though it is tired and wary. "You know I will. I will do whatever you might wish or require. Do you still plan to go to your brother? I really /do/ think you should eat before you try to make that walk."
She thinks about it for a moment. Of course she has no wish to see her brother. Not really. "No. I will just say. He is probably still cross that I spilled tea on his waistcoat during our wedding breakfast." She tries to give him a smile, but the expression is humorless and forced. She looks at her fingers and contemplates what she should ask of him. Or how she might stop feeling so upset. Nothing seems like it would help.
Her attempt at a smile is somewhat reassuring, though he wishes it were real and actually reached her eyes. “Yes, likely so.” He offers a small, hopeful smile of his own and squeezes her hand. “I am grateful that you have not given up on us entirely.” The thought of being forced to leave her had been torture. It was like breathing for the first time in ages to know she wants him to stay. “Come, let me at least make you some tea. I know you feel ill in the morning and that ginger tea helps some.”
This time she does pull her hand back, not forcefully, but she is not ready to be touching him for too long. She is not entirely ready to forgive him at all. But she has a child to think of. She never would have expected herself to feel such a way, yet she cannot stop thinking that she needs to find a way to forgive him and ease the hurt. Perhaps all she needs is time. "Very well." Her face has calmed again, and she is unable to truly feel warm towards him. Not yet.
He looks down at where their hands had been clasped, his still hovering in the air as if she continued to hold it. After a moment, he lets it drop to his side. Of course she would not want him to touch her. Who would after what he had done? Rather than continue to stare at her, as if somehow doing so could change things, he nods once and turns to head down stairs. He does not wait for her, instead assuming she will go to the parlor to wait while he prepares the tea. It takes him a moment once he gets to the kitchen to remember why he's there, but he finally sets about making the tea, which he hopes will serve as at least a tiny symbol of a peace offering. Not that it would or should help. Nothing he can think of could make up for his behaviour. Once he's arranged the tea just so on the tray, he decides to make toast after all just in case she decides she might wish to eat after all.
Patience watches him walk down the stairs. She contemplates just leaving, walking out of the door and not telling him where she might go. Perhaps she could visit with Mrs. MacTavish, or Miss Hampton. Or she could bother Thomas, but the notion sounds exhausting. She looks over her shoulder at their bedroom and decides, finally, to follow him down. She finally decides to go to the parlor, where she curls up. Her stomach is uneasy, but it is less uneasy than the feeling in her chest. Has she made a huge mistake?
Finally satisfied that the tray is as Patience might want it, Bullen carries it carefully to the parlor. He is somewhat alarmed to find Patience curled up, and quickly sets the tray down to kneel by her side. "Is everything alright? I mean... I know nothing is alright, but... your health... the child? Is /that/ alright?" He tentatively lays the back of his hand against her forehead to feel for fever, as if her unhappiness might have manifested into something physical. "I brought the tea. If you'd like I can leave you to it. I don't wish to disturb you if you'd rather not be."
She swats him away quickly as he sets down the tray and presses his hand to her forehead. "Stop it! I am fine, just--I have a lot on my mind." She regards him with a furrowed brow. Her mouth is set and she stares at him, wondering if she should hazard the questions swimming in her mind. "I do not care. Stay, don't, it doesn't matter." She hopes he realizes he means for the morning meal and not forever.
"Sorry," he mumbles, pulling his hand back and instead moving the tray closer to her. "I hate to have burdened you so." He sighs and pours out a cup for her, hoping it helps with any nausea she may be feeling - whether as a result of the child, the drink, or his own idiocy. As she says it doesn't matter if he stays, he raises his eyebrows, hoping she only means at this moment, not permanently. Surely not though, after her words upstairs. Instead of leaving, since she hasn't forced him away, he finds a seat in the nearest chair available. "Is there /anything/ I can do or say?"
Him doting on her is causing the anger to rise up within her once more. She does not usually mind his kindness, but this feels forced, as if he is going over the top to please her and it is doing anything but. "Stop acting like I am some broking thing which you have to fix with kindness. I am going to be angry. I am entitled to that. I feel ill because I am with child. You do not have to try to make me as comfortable as possible. It is only serving to make me angry."
His eyes fall to the floor as she berates him, unable to respond in any meaningful way. She is right, she has every right to be angry. "Then please, Patience, lash out at me, scream, throw things, /something/. I do not know how to fix things, and I do not know how to help you feel better. If you are angry, then /be/ angry. This quietness is unlike you and if I am honest, it frightens me." He runs a hand over his face, the lack of sleep suddenly catching up to him.
"No. I will not," she tells him, feeling defiant. "I am not going to be enraged at you because it will make you feel better. I am going to sit here and drink my tea, and watch you be frightened," she tells him, reaching over to take some tea. She could throw the cup at him. She might even feel better for a moment. But it is not going to solve anything. Right now she needs to come to terms with what has happened, to try to figure out if her love was an illusion based on thinking James was some sort of better class of man. Right now she cannot just be angry, or she might as well explode.
He looks up, surprised at her choice to remain calm in the face of this. It is not the Patience he knows and he does not like it, though he supposes that is her whole point. Of course, if he wished to he could bait her into screaming at him, but it would not make either of them feel any better, and would do nothing to repair their relationship. They sit in tense silence for a long while. It is all he can do not to simply stare at her as she sips at her tea. He is unsure what else to do though. Instead, he stares at his hands, racking his brain for ways to try and make amends. He is unsure if it is even possible at this point.
She stares at him for a long moment. She wants to scream at him, to hit him, or unleash her temper. She wants to bite him on the face, mark him and show everyone he is hers. But she also does not want any of that at all. Why did she let this happen? All of this time she had worried herself sick that she might do something to hurt him, despite how much she loves him. Yet here they are, and he is the one who has hurt her. She used to guard her heart, why did she stop? It was foolish.
"Patience?" He cannot stand it any longer, though he is unsure of what to say next. Looking up at her finally, he realizes that what he wants more than anything right now is to simply cry. It must be why his throat feels so tight and his eyes like they are filled with sand. He has betrayed the one person he loves more than life, and thinking of how he might repair it is like trying to lift the entire world from its axis. It seems impossible. He falls silent again, shaking his head slightly as if to dismiss whatever question he might have asked.
Her head snaps up as he says her name, though he does not continue. The silence is now broken, and she feels like she has to speak. "Just tell me, James," she begins carefully. Her chest is tight as she contemplates her next words. "What were you honestly going to do if you went to her, and found you still loved her. You say you would not abandon me, but then what was the point in it all?" The truth is, she does not know what he might say that could make her feel better. But the question has been running through her head since the beginning of it all, and the answer he gave her last night was far from satisfactory.
His brow furrows as he contemplates her question. Until now he had not really plumbed the depths of his reasoning for seeing Eliza. In fact, he has staunchly avoided it altogether. "If I am honest? Nothing at all. Perhaps I only wanted to know so I could make myself see how inferior she is and know that any love I might still feel for her would be completely misplaced." He shrugs sheepishly, having only just realized himself that that is all it was. Anything that might have happened as a result was simply him being a selfish fool.
She exhales through her nose. No. It does not make her feel better to hear that. Before James, she had never been in love. Now she remembers why. "But if you went to her, and you felt stronger for her than you do for me, then what?" Certainly he had to have thought of such a possibility. She cannot get that very thought out of her head.
"That was never a possibility, Patience." He gives her a stern look as if that could somehow quell her fears. "Not for a moment. You and I, what we have, it is nothing I have experienced before. And if I cannot repair what I have broken, I do not want to experience it again." He shakes his head and sighs, unsure how to explain himself. Spreading his hands on his knees, he looks at her for a several seconds before considering what to say next.
"That all seems very complimentary," she snaps, unable to hold back her anger. It is not that she does not believe him, because she does. It is that she is afraid of what believing him might mean. She trusted him more than she trusted anyone before. Now she just does not know if she can put that faith in him. She feels alone.
He winces as she bites out the words, though part of him is glad to finally see her truly angry. "It is not meant to be complimentary, only true. Whether you like it or not, it is what it is." Since she seems uninterested in eating, he pulls one of the pieces of toast from the plate and takes a bite, only to find himself somewhat queasy. Perhaps the anxiety of knowing how upset she is has worn on him more than he realized. Setting the toast back down carefully, he looks at her with a steady gaze. "I know you have no reason to believe anything I say. I've earned that. When you decide it is safe to believe me again, I shall still be here."
Patience sighs and nods. There is a bit of a relief that he does not plan on leaving her and their child. Though she is mad, she could not do this without him. She is his wife, and she intends to continue to be his wife. "Alright. That is all I can ask, for now, I suppose." There is nothing else she can say to him for now. She is angry, and sad, and hurt. Maybe she will feel better in time, but right now she is merely disheartened, with him, and with herself.
"You can ask anything you wish. I could not deny you whatever you were to ask." He knows such an insistence will likely only frustrate her, but he feels it must be restated until she believes it. "You could ask me to fly to the moon and bring it back to you and at this point I would try it if I thought it might help somehow. Or maybe even if I knew it wouldn't help." The idea that she will keep him at arm's length - at best - hurts him, but he knows he deserves it. In fact, he deserves to be banned from her presence entirely and yet she continues to allow him to be near her. He sighs heavily and buries his face in his hands again. "Oh, Patience. Whatever are we going to do?"
"I said that was everything," she says firmly. Something about the way he is placating her is causing her to be more and more annoyed. She cannot find herself aroused to true anger, not when a large part of it is that she is upset with herself, and contemplating if she is overreacting about the entire situation. She heaves a sigh and shakes her head. What can they do? Part of her wants to just pretend it never happened, but she has not exactly had luck in doing such a thing. "We are going to have to figure it out. But not today." Today it is still too raw, and she is still too confused.
"/Alright/." He sighs and gets to his feet, giving her one last look. Exhausted and worried, Bullen knows he is still expected by Mrs. Hatch whether he wants to go or not. He would much rather stay near Patience, though whether it is because he worries for her health or because he is hoping she may somehow change her mind and actually talk to him he doesn't know. "I need to go to the school. Will you be alright? I can always go and let her know I cannot stay."
She resists the urge to roll her eyes and scoff at him. Instead, she shakes her head. "I will be fine. Mrs. Hatch will be expecting you." The last thing she wants is for him to feel obligated to stay here because she is upset and uneasy. She is hoping perhaps the empty house will help her to clear her thoughts at the very least. "You had better not be late."
"If you're certain." He gives her a doubtful look, but decides that if he persists, she will only feel more trapped and aggravated. With a small nod, he turns to leave the room. "I need to wash up and change into fresh clothing. I hope she does not mind if my mind is elsewhere." He is nearly out of the room when Patience speaks again. He turns back with a surprised expression. "Of course not. I will be home before sundown. Earlier if I am able."
She stands to start collecting the tray. Perhaps if she does something menial, she will be able to consider her own thoughts and feelings, at the very least she cannot stand the place to be too messy if she is to go out and take some air. Still, she does not respond to him, as she allows him to leave, only offering him small nod instead of saying goodbye. Right now, it is all she can manage.