Bethas 40, 2718
Dormitories | Night
In truth it had been a day like any other. A day spent in the kitchens for Lars; an early morning spent prepping, an afternoon spent cooking, a night spent serving tenth-form students and their professors and other faculty their formal dinner. Tenth-forms, more so than the younger students, were sometimes an easier crowd for Lars to serve. More often than not, the young galdori were more concerned with the relationships they'd formed while in Brunnhold and the studies they'd pursued, and it was easy for a passive to go largely unnoticed. There were the occasional erseholes that hadn't grown a bit since their first year and found it absolutely hilarious to make a fool of the kitchen staff, but they were easy enough to handle.
Almost everything was easy to handle, when one had spent so many years doing it over and over and over again.
Lars had made a quick detour to the baths after his final shift had ended, the man's form hardly more than a walking shadow as he navigated the halls of the university, passing only a handful of other servants and students returning now to their dorms or their homes in the Stacks. He was offered a few nods in greeting, but they went ignored, and the passive managed to find his way to the bathhouse without interruption.
He bathed quickly, as always, but it wasn't as if he was given much of a choice in the matter. There were other servants who had come from their final shifts of the night, and those from other wings who came to start their late worknight with a bath to wake them up. He was hurried through his bath, however managed to clean himself well enough nonetheless, removing the smells of food and kitchen staff from his golden hair and ivory skin. After being thrown a clean uniform, he changed, tossing his old into the basket against the wall.
Before he could exit the bathhouse, he was stopped by a familiar voice, and steel-blue eyes fell upon the form of his roommate Jamie.
"Hey, Lars. All clean, I see. I just got done cleaning the dining hall--are you going back to the dorm?" the dark-haired passive questioned, entering the bathhouse and approaching Lars.
"He was going to," answered the blonde, "why?"
Jamie offered a light shrug, glancing to the baths as he explained, "Bennett's been weird lately, don't you think? He was supposed to clean with me tonight, but I guess he must've stayed back in the room. Talk to him and see what's up, maybe?"
"You can't do anything yourself, can you. Yes, he'll speak with him. He'll see you once you get back, Jamie."
The other servant's only response was a nod, already stepping away from Lars to find an empty bath. Without further ado, Lars exited, unhindered this time by conversation and finding momentary comfort in the silent isolation the halls outside of the bathhouse provided. His pace was slow, the Hessean taking his time now that he wasn't required in any place besides his dorm, and his hands slipped into his pockets as he walked.
He supposed Bennett had been acting strange recently. The man had never been particularly friendly or extroverted around most people, but he had always been a good friend to Lars, and he knew that he had some sort of duty to the other man to make sure things were alright. Not entirely sure how to breach the subject, he went over potential starters in his head, rehearsing his words as he turned into their wing.
He's concerned about you, he considered, no--Jamie and him have been worried, because you've been different lately. Is everything okay?
None of it sounded right. It was all too much, too overbearing, wasn't it? It wasn't his business, was it?
Still, Bennett had retreated into himself so much. He had never been enthusiastic about anything, and certainly not what Lars would call happy, but now he was... more. He wasn't interested in speaking with Jamie, which wasn't all that concerning in itself considering how annoying the dark-haired man could be, but he hadn't even wanted to speak with Lars lately. The blonde wasn't one to presume, but he did consider Bennett to be one of his best friends, and those were hard to come by in a place such as Brunnhold.
You seem a bit down, he tried then, he's here if you need to talk.
That was simple enough; honest and to the point without crossing a line.
The hall was dimly-lit at such an hour, but Lars knew the way to their dorm like he knew the back of his hand. He wasn't surprised to find the door closed, but the note on the door was unusual, and he pulled the paper from the wood to look over it.
J mi , I op hat o f d h s fi t.
Y u u t ha ot c d m cha e i e so a y l te .
His eyes strained as he struggled to make out the words; finding the task an impossible one and giving up on the second line. Clutching the paper, his free hand went to the doorknob, twisting to push the door inwards and enter the room.
"Are you asleep, Bennett? He wants to speak with you, if that's okay," he spoke softly, shutting the door behind him and glancing to his roommate's bed on the opposite side of the room. He could only see his silhouette in the dim light provided by the hearth, the flames flickering low, and the blonde breathe a quiet sigh as he approached the fellow servant's bed, setting the note on his own as he passed, "Jamie will make a fuss if he doesn't wake you."
There was a strange smell he noticed more as he grew closer, as if his friend hadn't bathed in days, and Lars bit the inside of his cheek to ignore it. He pushed against his shoulder gently, Bennett sleeping on his side faced away from him, but the motion pulled the passive to lie on his back instead.
Furrowing his brows in sudden confusion, Lars' fingers felt as if they were growing numb, his mouth an instant desert that scraped like sandpaper with his attempt to swallow the sudden lump in his throat.
As if expectantly, he moved his hand from Bennett's shoulder, looking away from the pale face and glossy, opened eyes to glance beneath the blanket. The sight of blood--pools of blood, soaking deep into the linens and the mattress underneath, forced his eyes upwards to the safety of the ceiling.
"Bennett," he managed, "Bennett. Bennett, Bennett--"
He choked on the threat of nausea, pulling his hands to his face and away from Bennett's cooling, paling body. His cheeks were cold from the touch, the feeling of liquid against his skin, dragging red down his face and further down his neck. Lars pushed his hands up again, palms pushing hard on his cheeks and finding their home at the base of his hair, clinging tightly to the blonde roots now tinted red.
Dark pupils dilated and his eyes were a black expanse rimmed with a ring of steel-blue, staring into the immense and cold white of the ceiling above. He barely felt the ground hit his knees when he collapsed, his chest alight with sudden strangeness, a sensation so empty and yet so full of everything that he couldn't tell if it was fear or something else. His heart was a heavy thump against his ribcage, steady and slow in its pace, so slow in fact that Lars wondered for a moment if it would drag itself to a stop.
"Bennett," he tried again, "oh, Bennett, couldn't you have waited?"
"Waited. You mean couldn't you have gotten here faster?"
"No. He should have waited for me, he should have--"
"Waited for you. So that you could what, join him?"
"No, he should have--he should have waited for me, Lars, he should have waited because I wanted to see it I wanted to feel it and now I can't and now I never can Lars he didn't wait for me he said he would why didn't he wait--"
"You knew? You knew that he was going to--"
"Of course I knew you fucking moron, you dirty imbecile, you--"
"He can't believe you. He can't believe you knew and you didn't try to help, are you entirely moony Laurentius?"
"STOP TALKING LARS, STOP TALKING," he snapped, eyes unfocused, "I DON'T NEED YOUR FUCKING INPUT, LARS, LEAVE ME ALONE, LARS, PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE."
He closed his eyes, brushing a bloodied hand over his eyelids and breathing out the softest of sighs. After sitting uncomfortably on the floor for a good ten minutes, he heard the door open again, and forced the sound of a sob from his throat despite the only liquid on his eyes being the blood of his roommate's corpse,
"Ja-Jamie, Bennett--he--he found him, Bennet is - oh, Jamie, oh gods."