Day 067: Give It Time
Summary: Britt's proposal to Erson doesn't go over well, as he struggles with his disability.
Date: 4 Aug 2016
Related: Warband's Return (Erson loses his arm)
Britt Erson 

Day 067 - Tondc, The house of Erson's sister, Ashe.

There were a thousand everyday things that were a challenge with only one hand. Opening the lid on a jar of preserves, for instance. Even with the damn thing braced between his knees, Erson couldn’t get enough counter-friction on the slippery glass to open it. Frustration boiling over, he finally hurled the jar across the room with a growl.

The sound of glass shattering brought Britt in from the outside, a concerned frown on her face. The stove and preparation area that passed for a ‘kitchen’ was at the far end of the main living area of the humble ramshackle hut. It only took a second for her eyes to take in the angry set of Erson’s face and the pile of glass shards and red goo at the base of the wall. She didn’t chide him, but instead tried to deflect the stress with dry wit. “Well, so much for the cherry pie Ashe promised.”

While Erson scowled, Britt moved over to get the brush and pan. “I can do it,” he protested, taking a step towards her.

Britt waved him off. “I’ve got it. You can rinse off what’s left.” There was a moment where she wondered if anything was salvageable, but then she thought of the invisible bits of glass that must be inside. Out to the compost heap it went.

When she returned, Erson was finishing wiping down the floor. He got to his feet awkwardly, his balance still off, and it tore at her heart to see the look of helpless frustration on his face. She came up beside him after he’d put the rag into the basin for washing. “Give it time,” she said gently, “And you can ask for help, you know.”

Erson snorted. “Ask for help like a child who can’t do the simplest thing.”

“No,” Britt corrected, touching his arm. “Like a brave warrior who made a great sacrifice for his clan.” He scoffed again, but did dip his head to kiss the top of her forehead. It wasn’t much, but it was something. She slipped her arms around his waist and held him lightly. “It’ll get better.”

They stood that way for a little bit, before Britt patted his chest once - taking care to miss the still-healing shrapnel wounds she knew were there - and released him. She watched him for a moment as he grazed on some berries Ashe had left out. Then, finally, she broke the silence. “Indra’s sending me to Coesbur, when they rebuild. To join the warband there.”

His bushy brows knitted together in confusion. “Why?”

Britt shrugged. “Apparently she wants someone there who isn’t going to beat up the Skaikru or jump into bed with them.”

“Well, some of them aren’t half-bad looking. But as scrawny as most are, you might break them.” His smirk was strained, but it was there. A glimmer of his old self breaking through the clouds. It brought a little smile to her face. “When do you leave?”

The ‘you’ was a knife twisting in her gut, wiping the smile right off. “I’m not sure. I assume at some point soon Oxfor will get people together to go and start the building.” Britt was no maker, but she could do manual labor at least.

She watched him for half a minute, trying and failing to read his expression. “Come with me.”

Erson snorted in disdain. “To Oxfor’s village? That man should be feeding a tree, not still leading people.” He chewed another berry and frowned. The clouds swooped back in, the bitterness returning. “Besides, there’s no place for a one-armed archer in his warband.”

“Fuck Oxfor.” No, there’s no love lost on Britt’s side either. “There are plenty of other good people in the village. And I’m not talking about the warband.” She reached out and took his hand, squeezing it. “Come with me. It can be a fresh start for us.” Heart in her throat, she caught his eye and said, “I want to make a home together.”

Erson’s face froze, those dark brows meeting once more. He just looked at her, and seconds ticked by like hours. When he did finally speak, his voice was a low grumble. “I don’t want your pity, Britt..”

Not exactly the reaction she was hoping for. “It’s not pity, you dumbass.” She bit back the sharp flash of irritation. “I want you by my side.” Her jaw worked, struggling with the words that were so hard for her to say. “I love you.”

That softened the edges of his frown a little. His hand lifted to touch her cheek. “I refuse to be a burden to you. You deserve someone who will stand by your side as an equal.”

He let his hand drop, turning away, and Britt resisted the urge to smack him on the back of the head. “You think because you can’t draw back a bow any more, that makes you not my equal?” Narrowed green eyes bored into the back of his head as she challenged him. “Would you have thought any less of me if I had lost my leg in that battle?”

His shoulders hunched, and Britt stepped up and wrapped her arms around him from behind. “Come with me to Coesbur. Be my houman.”

She thought he might have been wavering, taking his silence as a hopeful sign. But then he shook his head and pulled free from her embrace.

“I can’t.”

The words were a kick in the gut, and Britt stared at him for a long moment before finding her voice again. “That’s bullshit. What you mean is you won’t. You have no obligation to the warband. Ashe doesn’t need your help any more. The kids are grown - Erick will be a Second within a year. You said it yourself before you got hurt — There’s nothing keeping you here any longer.”

“That was before.” He turned toward her, his face pinched with a sad and bitter resignation. “I’m sorry, Britt.”

He started to leave, leaving a stunned Britt in his wake. Her eyes flicked back and forth, struggling to process it. To think of something else to sway him. It pained her to think that maybe there was nothing she could say. Give it time, she’d told him. Maybe she needed to heed her own advice.

Before he reached the partition to the bedroom, she stopped him with a stern, “Hey.” He glanced back. “We’ve been here before, Erson. It took me twelve years to come to my senses. If it takes twelve more for you to come to yours, I’ll wait. But I’m not giving up so easily.”

He frowned at her, then ducked into the bedroom. And she let him go.

For now.

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