A Week Of Work

Title: A Week of Work
Time Period: November, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Mairi gets a new roof in exchange for a little more than what was originally agreed upon.

You're too thin… I shan't return until you've got some meat.

It's been over a week that Jain's been to the brothel. Not because of the argument, the prostitute is always too agreeable and eager to please. He just hasn't had a moment to spare. Laying the last bundle of hay, he makes certain that it's tied down securely, finishing the thatching on a roof that's been in dire need for a while. In one week he's finished every chore that's lain in wait for a bit of time to see it through. The owner is too busy with things that need doing immediately, and as far as the mercenary is concerned too frail to complete the tasks.

The first morning of his arrival he made the mistake of not announcing himself. Too used to a routine where people know his comings and goings, he didn't think twice until the pitchfork nearly ran through his skull. A quick dodge, pivot, and grab had the younger woman in his arms, sans pitchfork, while he calmly explained his presence.

Climbing down from the ladder, he mops the sweat from his forehead with an old rag nearly as dirty as he is. The whispers in his ear are heeded with a nearly imperceptable nod though his eyes are directed up at the finished roof. "Two fields and I should be done… the hay needs bringin' in 'fore the snow's too thick and it's ruined."

A bird had been watching for a week. Sometimes on a roof, sometimes a tree, he was always just out of sight but still a clear presence from time to time. It's questionable if it's Stalwart that's mistrusting or if it's Mairi, though by the sharp and continual watching it's likely the former more than the latter.

While Jain's put himself to work on the fixing, Mairi'd continued her work elsewhere. She didn't let up on her work simply because there was someone else assisting in some of it, though she was admittedly glad that someone was getting to the things she didn't have time for. It would help to have everything patched and fixed before any serious storms made it difficult.

"You do good work," she says, appraising the roof before her brown-eyed gaze moves to Jain himself. "And quick work. Better than some of the hands I've hired before for seasonal work. I was starting to think that there were very few in Dornie who even knew how to properly do a day's labor." One hand rests on her hip, the other on a jug offered in his direction—likely just some water.

It's a twitch of the lips that signals Jain's gratitute while accepting the jug. A thin trail of water dribbles out the corner of his mouth as he drains it with all too loud gulps. He hasn't taken a break since he got here this morning. The back of his arm swipes across his chin when the other extends to pass the pitcher back to Mairi, there's a more ready smile on his face by then.

"The price will be well worth the toil," he says simply, glancing toward the barn and the newly mended wire around the chicken coop. "You'll keep them in cream, eggs, and bread for the winter?" As he works only on credit, the bargains he drives are hard but there hasn't been a rumor of complaint thus far. His green eyes sweep her form, careful to avert should her gaze settle on him.

"I probably wouldn't make that kind of deal for most, but I think your work is worth it. They'll be well cared for, I can assure you," Mairi replies, the jug taken back, though she makes no move to take it into the house for the moment. "I am always surprised who the girls at the Dovetail have looking out for them, but it's nice to see someone has their best interests at heart." Well, more like Jain's helping himself in the long run.

The widow's attractive, perhaps, but she's careful about covering it up. While she still wears long skirts, they're plain, usually covered in an apron, and brown. For once, her hair's tied back as opposed to loose, cheeks rosy mostly because she's been cooking inside the house cooking. "I've got food inside if you're hungry. Shepherd's pie and some fresh milk."

"You'll not tell them it was I that sent it," he interjects quickly before nodding his acceptance of the meal and drink. His hand goes out, hovering somewhere near the small of her back to guide her, touchless, toward the house. When she turns toward the door, his eyes narrow just a touch and his lips twitch at one corner again. This time, the whisper in his ear isn't as helpful and innocent as before.

You may.

"How long has it been since your husband passed?" His tone is softer, with a concerned edge, almost as though he really cares about the answer. "I only ask because the roof was in terrible need of repair. You should stay quite warm over the rest of the season…" His voice drifts as he rushes ahead to open the door for Mairi, his smile wide and easy as she passes him by.

Mairi's lips quirk in a smile at the mention of keeping the secret as to who's paid for the supplies for the Dovetail. "I'm certain the ladies will be all in a tizzy over who's keeping them so well-fed, but you can trust me to keep that secret," she replies, studying him as he opens the door. It's a treatment she's not used to getting. Stepping inside the farmhouse, she moves to finish bringing the food to the table.

"Ian's been dead for three years now. Worked the farm alone since then, but since we'd worked together for seven before that, I can handle most tasks on my own. Usually I keep my hands on a little longer in the season so that I can get everything done, but the ones I hired last proved to be unreliable and dishonest so I had to let them go. The repairs just weren't on my immediate to-do list, but I've been meaning to get to it before the weather got too bad. I suppose you have good timing."

"I thank you," the reason for his wish to keep the favor a gift isn't readily given, instead Jain takes Mairi by the hand and leads her toward the chair at the head of the table. His grip isn't hard but it's firm, insistent, as is the expression on his face at the first noise of protest. "Sit, I can serve, you've done enough." By offering him water. Asking him inside.

He lets go as soon as she sets down into the chair and gives her a weak, boyish smile before turning his back on her. From that point on, his eyes are to the floor or table until the last piece of silverware is set. Then, the lamp is dimmed a little and her plate of food is pushes toward her. "If there's anything else you'll be needing, I'll come if you call." The frame of her face is traced by sight as is the curl of the few wisps of hair that have escaped the severe ponytail during her days labor.

Mairi does open her mouth to protest a little as she's eased towards the chair, a little surprised at the offer to serve. "I say the same to you. You've been working equally as hard," she points out, but doesn't refuse the plate as it's pushed towards her. Picking up her fork, she stares at the pie for a moment. "That's a kind offer. I can usually manage on my own, though, and now that you've done the repairs you've mostly made the extra help a little less unnecessary. Still, I will keep the offer in mind."

"I've only done a week's worth of work for one man, where you've been doin' the work of two for three years." He stares into her eyes for a brief moment before flitting down to his own plate. When Jain picks up his fork, he doesn't mix words with eating, he is silent until the last bit of gravy is sopped off the plate with a bit of bread. Once gathered and left to soak in the sink, he leans back against the cupboard, just looking at Mairi.

"It's uncanny," he opens the conversation again with a smooth lilt to his voice, taking long strides back to the table to pick up her plate once she's done. "I've never met a woman who's taken to labor, yet you don't complain when left to yourself. You simply carry on." It's a compliment, really, but from across the room it can only be told by his soft tone.

The silence doesn't feel too awkward to Mairi as they eat. It's straightforward and how she's used to her meals so she's done as quickly as he is. She remains in her chair as she watches Jain, folding her arms over her chest gently as she shrugs just slightly at the words.

"You make me sound like a saint or something. It's what I do. It's what I've always done and it's something I like. People don't think I can, and I like to prove them wrong. I'm not one to sit around and not earn my keep. I do what I love."

Jain shakes his head a little and his lips quirk to one side in an awkward half smile that's stretched into a full one in a half a heartbeat. "I don't think anyone's sayin' you can't manage. It's just a shame that you have no choice, aye?" Pushing off the counter, he makes long strides toward the door, stopping next to the table to offer a small bow to the lady of the manor. "As I said, uncanny… admirable even."

His hand is stretched out again, offering to help her to her feet before he goes, presumably. "As I said, there isn't a task too small if you'd like to call. But I'll be coming around more regular, just to make certain you're well."

"I don't think it's a shame. Fate deals you a hand of cards, so you make the rest of the world fold," Mairi replies. Her gaze continues to watch him before she accepts the hand offered in her direction. "Thank you. It will be nice to see a friendly face around, and much nicer to have someone I can count on, should I need help. The thought is certainly appreciated."

When he lifts her to her feet, Jain's other hand catches Mairi's elbow, supporting her to a stand before dropping away. But not completely. Just after swinging down by his side, it's up again, brushing a few strands of hair from her cheek as he stares into her eyes.

"If I were your Ian, I'd have come back from the dead to stay at your side." His proximity is close enough that she can feel his breath wash over her lips before a soft touch. He pulls back, his expression somber as his eyes flit over her features, making the circuit of her face a few times before letting his fingers touch her cheek and slide into her hair.

The widow is swept up, and Mairi's breath and heart both catch for a moment. Bewildered, she stares back at him, unsure of what to say at first before she begins to speak to fill in the silence and possibly to quiet the sound of a pounding heart.

"I warned him the storm would come, but he was as stubborn as I am…" She wets her lips as she lets her gaze flick away quickly, unsure. "I suppose coming back from the dead would be a very stubborn thing to do, though. But you're… I just…" She trails off, unsure of what she's saying.

When she's silenced it's by the crush of the soldier's lips against hers. His arm comes around her waist, gripping the cloth at her back and pulling her firmly against him. The hand in her hair works to loosen the ponytail, breaking the elastic. His fingers run through the loose locks, letting them spill through his fingers and bunching the long tendrils in his hand as he massages her scalp.

His tongue dances with hers for only a moment before he breaks the kiss to stare into her eyes. "You're quite beautiful, Mairi, I'd like to stay… to show you…" His breathing a little heavy causes his sentences to break and when he's finished speaking he catches her lower lip between his teeth before giving her one more kiss, then another. "I shouldn't… I can't…" Is breathed against her lips but his eyes are closed and each protest is punctuated by yet another touch of his lips. "I'll go."

Mairi's not been kissed like that in a long time. Perhaps not ever. And it's been long enough since she's been kissed that the entire idea of it is overwhelming. It's not just an idea that's pressing itself against her lips, however, and instincts take over for the moment as he kisses her breathless.

When she hears him speaking, her eyelids flutter open to blink at him in confusion and bewilderment. She's not even certain for a brief second what he suggestion is. Her own protests come, short and worried. "I haven't… there's only ever been Ian… perhaps you should leave…" Even with her words, her eyes still read as unsure.

"Perhaps I will," Jain whispers. He doesn't. He clashes tongues and lips and teeth with her again instead of going away. Stooping down to match her height, he grips her legs and lifts them up, wrapping them around his waist as he stumbles toward a side room. They don't make it very far at all before her back crashes against a wall, causing a few ladles and pans to fall with a loud clatter to the floor.

His breathing is a little ragged when he pulls his head back to stare at her face again. Using the wall to support her, both of his hands come up to her face to touch her jaw and cheeks. "I'm Jain," Ee-yun, the same way she pronounced her husband's name, "and I would come back from the dead to feel you beneath me."

There's a tiny sound in the back of her throat at the sudden lift, Mairi being unsure if she wants to make sure she doesn't get dropped or to struggle to try to, but as they stumble into the other room, accompanied by the clank metal hitting the floor, her arms move around him to stabilize herself. She breathes hard as she stares back at Jain no words coming at first. Instead, she takes a moment to catch her breath while his fingers trace her face.

"Mairi," she murmurs her name, never quite having given a proper introduction despite the week's worth of work he's done for her. "And no one comes back from the dead. T-There's been no one but Ian, I don't… I don't even know what I'm doing." She feels vulnerable, mostly because it's been a very long time since she's been in a situation she genuinely didn't know how to deal with.

"It comes natural.." What she's doing, rather, what she's about to do. Jain's hasty murmur is finally silenced when his lips come down on her neck, his fingers slipping around to her front to tear at buttons and laces. All this in hopes of relieving the woman he's pinned to the wall of her clothing.

He blinks and stretches out his hand to Mairi, who is seated at the table. An easy smile crosses his lips that could be mistaken for shyness but the quirk of his eyebrow keeps it from being too innocent. "…As I said, there isn't a task too small if you'd like to call. But I'll be coming around more regular, just to make certain you're well."