Silas Turner and Alexander Stanton Discuss Difficult Life Changes
((This scene is a collaboration between the players of Silas Turner and Alexander Stanton.))
Alexander Stanton yawns as he stands outside the hotel, holding a half-filled cup of tea--actual tea--and watching the porter struggle with his trunk, hefting and shifting it in order to strap it securely onto the carriage. He did not envy the man, his trunk had grown considerably heavier after having spent the last two weeks clothes shopping in London.
That was not the primary reason for their visit, of course. They had come to see Mariah and Gianna safely onto the ship bound for Venice. And for Silas to take his barrister exams. Thinking of Silas, he glances around. Where /was/ he? He'd been frustratingly sluggish all morning. Not Alex. Alex bristles with excitement at the idea of returning to Tyrehampton. He misses it badly. The peace there. The ample space to walk or ride. His room of waistcoats. In London there is only noise and dirt. The foul stenches of too many people packed too closely together. He finishes his tea and decides that the first order of business, upon their return, is to take a nice long swim in the river. Wash Town right off. The porter finishes with Alex's trunk and Alex looks around again for Silas.
He doesn't have to wait long - Silas Turner soon emerges ploddingly, following a couple of fellows carrying his trunk. Silas stops when he reaches Alex, dressed well as usual, but the strain of the last couple of weeks is evident in his face. "I was thinking...," he says as lightly as he can, despite the dread filling his belly, "this is still a fine time to be in London - before the heat sets in. Why don't we stay a bit longer? A few days perhaps... why we could stay for the month! What do we really have to rush back to? We could spend few more evenings at the theatre. Or dancing! And we didn't even see the offerings of /Old/ Bond Street this time - there are still some fine shops there. What do you say?" He smiles a little at Alex, eyes filled with the desperate hope of not having to return to Tyrehampton and its familiar faces with so much bad news.
The smile that started on Alex's face at the initial sight of Silas fades and he raises one eyebrow. "Stay longer?" He frowns. This is the absolute last thing he wishes to do. He passes his teacup off to a servant and smoothes his hands over his favorite waistcoat--this one a nice earthy brown with dark green pinstripes. He looks down at it in order to stop frowning at Silas. Wait, is that a loose thread? No...a hair. He brushes it away. Finally he looks up. "But we decided we were leaving /today/. Arrangements have been made." He points to the carriage, where Silas' trunk is currently being loaded, as if this point isn't obvious. "And I...have to be back. To, ah, help Gran. With estate things."
Silas rolls his eyes. "You do /not/ have to help her with 'estate things.' That's what you say when you're making things up. We could make /other/ arrangements. Send word of our delay. We're /never/ in London long enough," he says, unable to keep the whine out of his voice.
Alex can't keep the frustration out of his voice. "Well, I disagree Silas. We are in London plenty long enough." He doesn't want to have this argument that he has felt brewing just under the surface for months now but he adds, unable to help himself, "Considering we don't /live/ here. Though you can change that...you're free to do as you please." He stalks off to the carriage and yanks the door open. As he enters and closes the door the porters strapping Silas' trunk down stop and look at each other. "Are you wantin' your trunk back then?" one of them asks Silas.
Mouth agape at Alex, Silas' eyes flick to the porter momentarily. "What? No!" he snaps, outraged, and then hurries after Alex, opening the carriage door and lobbing himself in, pulling the door closed behind him. He sits opposite Alex, as far away as possible, which is still nearly close enough for their knees to touch. "What was /that/ all about? Are you trying to get rid of me too? Go home, free of all entanglements?" He glowers at Alex, knowing that was unfair but unable to stop himself.
Alex frowns again, though he is happy that Silas gets in the carriage. "This isn't about me." He contemplates pulling out his flask. "I'm not bloody deaf. You've been talking for /months/ about London to Captain Windham and whoever else will listen! How much you miss it. All the great things that are here. And now you don't want to leave?" He reaches in his jacket for his flask but only holds it. "Well, I've tried to be understanding. You're young. And free, now that Gianna's called the engagement off. You should...avail yourself. In a place you find more exciting."
Silas' face flushes not understanding where any of this is coming from. "Might as well just throw away everything else in my life! Is that it?" He crosses his arms and sulks darkly in the corner. "I have always spoken of my love for London. Why is it bothering you now?"
Alex feels his defensiveness kick in and he unscrews the cap on his flask, taking a deep swig. "Doesn't bother me. I'm fine." He recaps the flask, and good thing too, for the carriage lurches then as it begins to transport them away from their hotel. He crosses his arms over his chest as well. He's being childish and he knows it--which only serves to agitate him further. "You're the one it'll bother when you start resenting Tyrehampton!"
Silas flings out his arms when the carriage lurches and he catches himself on Alex's knee before pushing back into the corner again. "It /clearly/ bothers /you/ if you've been noting every time I mention it." He stews for a few moments, then adds resentfully, "I don't resent it, I just don't want to go back right now." He can feel tears welling up in his eyes and he turns his glowering gaze out the window, instead.
"Yes, thank you Silas, you've said as much. You want to stay here for /theatre/ and /dancing/ and /shopping on Old Bond Street/." Alex is looking out the window as well as it is easier to be angry at Silas if he is not looking at his handsome face.
"You say that as if you wouldn't enjoy those things too," Silas says bitterly, glancing at Alex and then back out the window. "What awaits us? Fresher air and nothingness. No. Worse than nothingness. Everyone will have heard."
The fact that Silas is right does nothing to improve Alex's sour mood. Nor does Silas' uncharitable description of Tyrehampton. He is about to retort that Silas needn't return if it's so distasteful but the comment about everyone having heard distracts him. "Everyone having heard? But Gianna is the one who cried off. And for a good reason too. No one can argue a dying father. You might get /some/ looks but it's not going to be as bad as all that." He finally looks over at Silas, watching him look out the window. "We discussed all this before Gianna and Mariah left."
"I /know/ we discussed it!" Silas snaps, a tear flinging free from his eye. He brushes it away with annoyance. "That doesn't make it any easier! The fact of the matter is that I left Tyrehampton two weeks ago engaged and finally at an end to my studies and now I return with none of it." He presses a fist to his teeth as if to hold back the emotional tide but it's no use. He covers his face with his hands and a sob escapes. "I am so ashamed."
Both of Alex's eyebrows go up in surprise and his anger dissipates immediately. "Silas..." He drops his flask onto the seat next to him and leans forward, putting both his hands on Silas' knees. "Why did you say nothing before? You told me you didn't really want to be a barrister anyway. I knew you were still a little bothered but thought...ah, maybe you were just upset because it meant you'd be spending less time in London." He looks sheepish as he says this and gives Silas' knees a squeeze.
At Alex's gesture, Silas, still covering his face, tilts forward to rest his head in Alex's lap, sobbing and unable to speak for a few minutes. Finally he admits, still struggling to form words around his husky voice, "I did want it. Badly." He turns his face to the side a little and envelops his arms around Alex's lower legs. "I wanted to make my family proud. And I'd come to care for it - I've never worked so hard for anything in my life. They wouldn't even /see/ me, Alexander." He chokes on the words and continues bitterly, as if reliving the moment in this mind, "the man looked me up and down and asked if this was a joke. He /knew/ who I was. Who my father is. I was very polite. I tied to explain how prepared I was. He suggested I try the courts in Algiers - that perhaps they could use more sophistication... I've never even been there, nor has my mother." He's quiet again before adding, "how naïve could I be to hope it wouldn't matter. That the courts of all places might be impartial."
Alex moves one of his hands to Silas' back, rubbing it. "I'm so sorry, Silas. I'd no idea... But, ah, to not even see you? That's just rude. Court in Algiers? What possessed him to think you would want to go there?" He furrows his brow in confusion, not making a connection. "Did you inform your father? Surely there is something he can do?"
Silas looks up at Alex with red-rimmed eyes, wondering how Alex could /not/ see the obvious connection but loving him a little more for his indignance. "My father knows. He's furious. He said it's probably a political grudge - that they're angry at him and making me bear the consequences. I think sometimes he says things like that so my siblings and I keep our heads held high as if there's no other possible reason we'd be treated differently." Silas deliberately moves his hand to Alex's so their fingers interlace. He tilts their hands in the light of the window, looking at them - he's light brown skin against Alex's paler skin. "I'm fortunate to have been born into great privilege but I will always look like a foreigner, though this place has always been my home. The man said 'Algiers' because he doesn't know geography. Morocco, Algeria - it's all the same to him." Silas moves forward to sit next to Alex.
Alex looks at their hands as well as he finally realizes what Silas is talking about. A string of curses flies out of his mouth and he angrily bangs on the roof of the carriage with his free hand, the signal to stop. As the carriage slows he looks to Silas. "Where do we find this man? I'll, ah..." What can he do? "Give him a colorfully worded piece of my mind about what he can do with his bloody Algiers suggestion. You're no more a foreigner than I am. The bloody imbecile!"
Silas startles at Alex's reaction, and looks at him with wonder, fresh tears spilling down his cheeks, though his voice is more steady. "It won't change anything Alex. It's not just one man." He reaches for Alex's face and turns his head so they'll look each other in the eye. "It's not just one man," he repeats. "There are many others like him. Maybe even most of them. But thank you for that, love."
Alex looks back into Silas' eyes, frowning. He wants to argue with Silas, or use this to prove Tyrehampton's superiority over London as no one there seems to look down on Silas due to the color of his skin, but he doesn't. He sighs. "Ah, I'm sorry. Sorry about this odious man and others like him." The carriage stops, awaiting orders, and Alex apologizes to them as well and tells them to continue on. "Is there nothing to be done? If you've your heart set on this barrister business then there must be a way we can bring it about. This /man/ cannot be the final say, surely."
Silas sighs, tired from the early hour and emotional strain. He lays his head down in Alex's lap, wanting the comfort of feeling him close. "Well knowing my father, the man won't go /entirely/ without consequence... but it's not the final say on /any/ law practice. Just the courts. I can still be a solicitor... do some work for my father and locally in Tyrehampton. I'm still a /Turner/. I have the knowledge. It has to count for something." He sighs again. "It's just that the courts were what I was most excited about. Presenting a case. Arguing on behalf of someone in need of justice... now the only way I'll likely be on the inside of the courts is if I'm on the other side the law," he says glumly.
When Silas puts his head in Alex's lap, Alex's hand automatically goes to his hair, running his fingers through it. "Well, let's do what we can, shall we, to keep you from coming to /that/ sort of end." One of them being arrested was all too real an outcome, considering their lifestyle. He pushes that unpleasantness from his mind and brightens suddenly. "But...if you're a solicitor than you really can handle all of Gran's legal matters! And the company's too. That means...well, it means we could work a great deal with each other. If you wanted to. Gran could finally stop her incessant complaining about her current fellow, Mr. Rathburn." He looks down at Silas. "I know a brewing company isn't as exciting as arguing in court, perhaps, but, ah, it's not all bad."
Silas cranes his neck to look up at Alex and smile slightly. "I /do/ want more reason to work with you. If ever we find women to marry now, it gives us a well-established reason beyond friendship to be in each other's company often." A thought occurs to him and he groans a little. "But I can't take on the title 'solicitor' - some of the work might be the same but then I might as well go around announcing that I have to /work/ for a living. Then what little Society Tyrehampton has would all but dry up for me. And my father would take offense at the implication that they couldn't provide for me. He will. I think he feels guilty. Not that he regrets marrying my mother exactly... but for the hardship we bear as a consequence. It's just that I don't want to, in turn, make things harder on my family by draining them. I've done so much of that already." He's quiet for a moment, thinking things over, and then continues. "I could invest more. And provide some legal counsel and help to acquaintances - certainly to your grandmother."
Alex nods and pretends to look horrified. "Well of course you wouldn't take on the /title/...a ridiculous notion, indeed." He chuckles. "We are gentlemen of leisure, after all. No need to lose our heads and change that! You'd be a solicitor as much as I'm an accountant." He winks at Silas and kisses his head. "I can help you invest, perhaps. If you wish it. But no more talk of marriage, please and thank you! You have plenty of time and I...ah...will continue to put Gran off on the subject! And it can just be the two of us for a while longer." He is quiet a moment, brow slightly furrowed as he continues to run his hand through Silas' hair. "As for returning to Tyrehampton society...likely the ladies will be too distracted with the news that you are eligible once again to take note of the rest."
Silas closes his eyes a moment, enjoying the feel of Alex running his fingers through his hair and listening to him - nothing ever seemed quite as bad when Alex was there. Silas opens his eyes again and looks back up at Alex, "Eligible, but less desirable, perhaps? Surely this news will get around - I have little control over what people make of it. In all honesty, I'm not sure what's worse. The more desirable I am, the easier it will be to marry and stabilize things for my family and my place in Society... but that might pull me away from /you/. We're not likely to find the fortune and understanding we had with Gianna and Mariah. But if I am less desirable... perhaps I can spend more time with you. But it could cost me dearly in other ways." He reaches up and caresses Alex's face with his head. "Regardless, I'm in no hurry. Your grandmother though, Alex... she will be so disappointed with both of us, surely."
Alex frowns. He is silent another few moments, thinking Silas' words over and listening to the sound of the horses hooves beating against the ground--usually a relaxing sound, though he has trouble relaxing given the conversation topic. It's true that the odds of them finding another perfect setup as they had with Gianna and Mariah were very low. "I want you to have an easier go of things. Especially with your family. Ah, but I can't help but hope you /are/ less desirable. To the ladies, at any rate. You are always desirable to me, dear Silas." He sighs. "But I should be surprised if you were to become less desirable. You are still from a good family. Have an income. Incredibly handsome." He leans down and kisses Silas. "Gran will not be happy, no. I'm sure she'll think /you/ the star of some great tragedy for you can do no wrong. But she will be cross with me. Though... All the previous ladies she had tried to foist on me are no longer eligible. The Misses Barber and Barclay have left. Jo, too. The former Misses Sokolov, Smythe, and Campbell-Coffin are married already. Aria is engaged. So she will have to start at scratch with some new lady...gives me a good deal of time to frustrate her attempts. I am nothing if not frustrating." He does finally smile then.
Silas breaks into a grin at that but tries to suppress it. "You /are/ frustrating! I'm trying to nurse a perfectly sour mood, and you're ruining it. /Please/ try to understand that my life is in shambles and everything is terrible except you. You're merely /frustrating/," he teases still fighting a smile. He tries to complain again. "What am I to do with my time now? I spent so much of it in the library studying I hardly know what to do with myself now. And don't say 'drink' because that gets boring on its own."
"Ah, yes, sour mood. Hmm. Let me think of some terrible things....bad weather. Stuffy dinner parties. My parents visiting. Right, I've the proper mindset." Alex clears his throat and tries to put a glum expression on his face, still mostly failing. "What to do with your time...I suppose you could pick up a new hobby. Is there anything, besides law, that you've always wanted to learn but hadn't the time? Or we could hold another opera. I could write to Herr Müller. Ah, that's probably not glum enough." He pauses, thinks, amd tries not to smile. "Kick some puppies? Mope forlornly?" He teases.
Silas finds himself smiling at Alex's attempt to be appropriately serious and he quickly furrows his brow. "What is the /use/ of exploring another interest when /all/ of my endeavors fail? I have failed at marriage. The bar doesn't want me. I can't be in the opera. I couldn't handle Eton," he sighs melodramatically before continuing with a touch of humor in his voice. "I didn't even make it long as a whore. It seems I am destined to be a man of leisure. But I did /try/ to be useful."
"You haven't failed at marriage, Silas. You must first try a thing in order to fail at it. If anything, you've failed at /engagements/." Not helpful. Alex tries again. "You've succeeded in studying for the bar. How many fellows can say that? You've succeeded at making a new life for yourself--one that doesn't involve your being stabbed. And you've succeeded in being the best thing that's ever happened to me, so..." Alex shrugs. "You can hardly say /all/ your endeavors fail, I should think."
Silas bark a laugh but looks at Alex appreciatively and pats Alex's face. "Gods, you are a charming rascal. But that is a sentiment I share. And it would seem I need to add: I love you more than London. I wish I could have you both, but there's no question of who I will always return to." Silas narrows his eyes slightly, rethinking his metaphor. "Just... go with it, eh? I'm trying to say something sweet, not suggest I'm brashly cheating on you with a slightly less-handsome city."
Alex grins and nods. "/Significantly/ less handsome city, I should think." He does feel immensely relieved to hear Silas say that, however. He places a kiss on the palm of Silas' hand. "It is sweet, thank you. I just...ah, was worried I would force you into something you'll come to regret. Or resent." He looks back out toward the window. "It's not too late. If you do wish to stay longer. I mean, /we/ can stay longer."
Silas follows Alex's gaze out the window, watching the side of a building and a bit of sky from his lower view, considering Alex's words. "I don't feel forced. Not by you. And if I'm being fair, London has brought me more heartache than Tyrehampton... I suppose I just feel... uneasy. Restless. A bit afraid, even. I don't know what happens next. But I'm glad to be with you." He looks back up at Alex. "Staying here longer is tempting but I realize it would just delay the reactions I fear, not make them better. But... perhaps we can return for a little while when the season picks up again... and under more happy circumstances, I hope."
"An excellent idea, dear Silas! We may find we need a break from Gran's matchmaking soon enough. We can return and do as many London things as you wish." Alex's hand leaves Silas hair and moves down his chest while his other hand closes the curtains on the small windows. "But for now, let's see if there is something I can do to help take your mind off your worries."