David stumbled getting out of the chariot, and had to catch himself on the driver, who looked up at the sky with the resigned expression of one who had caught many a land-sick soldier before. "Thanks," he said, reaching back for Goliath's head. "Give me a horse any day."
The driver snorted. "Just out of the fields, lad?"
"As well as. Am I as muddy as I feel?"
The driver didn't answer, and David followed his gaze to see the royal party. They'd only been an hour or so ahead and yet Saul was clean already, and resplendent. Abner, at his side, said, "The hero who slew the giant Goliath."
"That was well done," Saul said, and strode across the courtyard to clap him hard on the shoulder, so hard that David had to take a step back. "Whose son are you, boy?"
"The son of your servant Jesse, of Bethlehem," David said. He dipped his head, holding Goliath out before him. "His weapons are in my tent, my lord, but I can bring them to you."
"And what would we do with those? Give them to two men standing on each other's shoulders?" Saul let out a burst of laughter, the same raucous cough he used when he was telling dirty jokes in his chamber. David couldn't help sneaking a look at the son he'd brought along. Jonathan, probably. He was staring at David with a queer fixed expression that he had never seen before. He looked, David thought uncharitably, like one of his sheep.
"Well?" Saul said, and David realized he'd been asked something. He dragged his attention away from the son of the king. "Will you stay to feast?"
David bowed his head again, this time to hide the satisfaction.
Saul ruffled his hair. "We need more soldiers like our shepherds," he told his generals. "Get a servant to show you the city, boy, you've earned it."
And left, and left David gaping at the courtyard stones like the rube Saul thought he was. He hadn't recognized him.
Any king might not know the name of his servants, but David had sat like this, just like this, his head bowed over his harp, until his fingers had cracked and his feet had ached, in Saul's chambers. He'd driven out his king's moods so often that he'd begun to make up his own songs to find new ways to soothe him. Saul didn't know him.
Someone tugged at Goliath's head, and he looked up. Abner's second in command was staring impassively at him. David let go hastily, and went to wipe his hand on his shirt.
"Oh, hell, you can't," said the prince, from across the courtyard.
"I'm sorry?" David said.
"I don't think you've noticed this in the excitement," Jonathan said, coming towards him, "but your hand is covered in Philistine blood and your tunic is covered in chariot dust. We're very formal in Gibeah. We've even taken to wearing shoes."
David cursed, and pulled at his tunic anyway, realizing only afterwards that it undid all of Jonathan's concern. "I can run to the well--"
"You'll be mobbed," Jonathan said, regretfully. "If you want to have the tunic to wear again afterwards, and not just a thousand shreds of good luck in the hands of your well-wishers? Take mine. You can wipe your hands on the chariot if you like."
"No he can not," the driver said, as if this was any man. "Lad, if you lay one finger on my axle in this condition--!"
"Dodai, you are a scandalous old woman. The floor's all over blood anyway."
"And do you think I want to add to my troubles?"
David said, "Lord Jonathan--"
"Jonathan, son of Saul," Jonathan said. He undid his belt and started loosening his mantle. "And you're David, son of Jesse. I'm sorry about my father. He'll call you in, tomorrow, you know, to play the harp just the same. Do you want to see how long it takes him to realize?"
"I didn't know you knew me." David wiped his hands diplomatically on each other, working off some of the flaking blood. "You served with my brother, didn't you?"
"Abinadab? He spoke of you," Jonathan said, briskly. David noted that he didn't bother to lie and say highly. "He did your father honor."
He was nervous, David realized. It was the patter of someone who hoped that if he spoke quickly enough he wouldn't stumble and say some other thing he wanted to keep between his teeth. It was masterfully done, and it would have worked if he had been able to look David in the eye, instead of keeping his attention on the simple work of taking off his tunic. "Look, let me borrow Dodai's mantle instead. To dress like that I'd have to do better than kill one Philistine."
"Yes, you'd have to do something like fight a legendary battle and have the king's son give you his tunic," Jonathan said. He handed it over. "And belt, and mantle, and I know you haven't arms. You have to look impressive. It doesn't matter that the last time any of his advisors were in a raid was before we were born. They think a sword conveys a military mind."
That sword was real iron! "Your father offered me armor," David said, in desperation. "I didn't do well in it."
"What a lucky thing I don't have armor to give you." Jonathan put the sword on the pile with the rest. Dodai tossed the prince his cloak, and Jonathan caught it, so that they stood toe to toe, Jonathan in only his clout, David still itching with the dust of war.
It was currently impossible to miss that the prince was well-made. David found himself searching his face, for something better to do with his eyes, and saw that he was even-featured, too, a little scarred but smiling. Cautiously, he said, "I'm a stranger."
It was Jonathan's turn to stare now, like a hooked fish. He said, at last, "I know." He tried to laugh, and missed. "Have you never seen someone and known they're someone you ought to trust?"
"No," David said, before he could remember to be dishonest. He laid the clothes gently down on the stones. "I haven't," he said, again. "I would like to."
"For God's sake. You don't have to," Jonathan said. "But I don't think I can do anything else."
The sun was high. It wasn't even noon yet. This morning David had taken his sling and gone out to fight a giant, and the only reason he'd known he was coming back was the memory of oil on his forehead from years and years ago.
"I think your shoulders are too broad for me." David said, at last, and took off his tunic. "But I'll be happy to be wrong. Do you know where I'm to leave this, brother?"
Jonathan grinned at him, suddenly easy. "Come on," he said. "I'll show you."