Almost Doomed

Title: Almost Doomed
Time Period: April 4, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: When he goes to return a borrowed knife finally, Cas finds out how lucky they may have been.

It's early enough in the day that the sun's still up. The clouds make it impossible to actually see the sun, except for a bright spot where it's hiding. The door into the Apothecary opens after a soft knock, nearly timid in nature, a dark haired young man peeking his head inside.

Cas Blackburn's head is only half visible for a moment, almost as if he's deciding whether to present his whole head after a glance with a single eye into the room. "Hello?" he says softly, in his soft accent that toys with the words.

At least it looks like he's found cloths to wear, a vest-jacket and long sleeved shirt that gathers at his wrist and trousers, not to mention a red scarf that's tied around his neck and tucked into his shirt. The only visible signs of the struggle in the stream is in a few minor scrapes visible on his face, though he'd had more when he stood there less clothed.

The dark-haired teen is the sole occupant of the front room of the shop; Aislinn is likely busy elsewhere since it’s a rare moment that anyone dares leave Cordelia alone these days. She looks up from where she’s practicing her stitching on an old piece of leather, the black thread dashes neat and tidy and much more in line than her old, failed attempts at embroidery under her grandmother’s tutelage.

“Hey, Cas,” she greets with a smile, sticking the needle and thread into the leather and hopping off her stool. “Do you need something for your injuries? Are you feeling all right? I don’t know if they have any late side effects. You’re not sick, are you?” She rattles off the slew of questions without letting him answer until she’s closer, peering at him as if to assess his health.

As she responds, Cas seems to hesitate visibly, glancing behind him out into the street for a moment before slipping inside. And leaving the door slightly ajar as he does. "No, I— don't feel too bad. I mean I'm still sore in a few places but…" he glances around deeper now that he's actually inside. "Is— uh— Lady Aislinn not here? I hope nothing else has happened… the uh monsters seem to be attacking rather frequently lately."

As she gets closer, he watches her right back, though not as assessing. More… "I actually wanted to see… uh you. To uh thank you for saving my life. Or at least helping. With the whole uh stab it in the what'd you call it?" Anatomy is not his thing, it would seem, and perhaps he's too anxious to think of it. He does seem rather anxious, but then he often does.

"So… thank you!" he says with a smile that touches his eyes and dimples his cheeks, "I'd probably be drowned if it weren't for you."

The girl tips her head and smiles at his anxious thanks. “The artery. It’s the carotid artery, right here.” She touches the space on her own neck, much like she had in the water. “You can feel your pulse there.”

She realizes she’s talking medicine or anatomy and not being polite, perhaps a moment later than she should. “You’re welcome. I’m glad it worked — I would have done it for you but I was more afraid of it in the water than I was up on the path. And it was facing me there but it wasn’t with Jorn,” she admits. “It must have been scary. You know they say that only one in ten people survive meeting a kelpie, but obviously that’s not true.”

"Really? One in ten? Those aren't odds I normally like," Cas says quietly, idly touching his neck under the scarf for a moment as if thinking about his pulses. Then with a sudden blink he snaps out of whatever thoughts he was having, mouthing an 'oh yeah' as he moves that hand down to the sachel hanging from his shoulder.

When his hand comes out, he's holding a knife, but quickly shifts it so that he's holding the blade and not the handle. "I'm kind of glad you didn't do it yourself cause— I— sort of had to cut my clothes the rest of the way off when it fell." And from the way he says that, that isn't something he would have wanted her to have done! "So this knife of yours saved me twice, really— And I washed all the blood off it and everything so— here. I figured you probably need it to uh defend yourself."

The blade is accepted and she bends to put it in its hiding spot in her boot, a little sheath sewn there to keep it from injuring her, apparently. The action allows her to hide her blushing cheeks as he talks about cutting himself out of his clothes, as well.

Cordie stands again, only the faintest of pink left in her cheeks; her messy hair helps to hide the rest. “It’s not so much a statistic as a wives’ tale, the way they say it. Nine will meet a kelpie, one will walk away. But you’re right, not very good odds at all. Maybe because we were only one, two,” she gestures at him, then herself, “three, four, five…” she ticks off fingers to indicate the others, “we didn’t make it come true. Four more people, and we’d have been doomed.”

She’s kidding, of course, but says it all very solemnly.

Even if she’s able to hide her blush, when she straightens she may see he’s doing much the same, reddish tones touching his cheeks as he looks down toward the floor. Right about where she was putting the knife into her boot, even. Cas looks back up as she gives her account on what saved them, their lack of numbers, and laughs nervously. “Good thing the rest of the militia didn’t show up til they were all dead,” he says, tilting his head to the side quietly.

“You know— if there would’ve been nine of us, hopefully you would have been the one to make it. Cause you’re uh— “ He trails off, gesturing up at her with his hands, which still seem to be half covered with gloves. The lack of fingers on the gloves gives the half covered impression. The gesture alone is trying to finish his sentence.

Cause she’s her.

Cordelia gives a curious cant of her head at his words, brows knitting before she shakes her head. Whatever he means, she doesn’t get it.

“A kid?” she supplies, then shrugs. “Women and children, that kind of thing, right? I kind of always thought that was dumb, that women and kids’ lives are more valuable or something than a man’s just because he’s bigger and stronger.”

Realizing again that she isn’t being polite, she smiles. “Thank you, though, that’s nice of you to say. Do you need me to look at any of your scratches or anything?” she asks, gesturing to his hands.

"No, I— " Cas starts softly, shaking his head as he turns away a bit to look toward the piece of leather she'd been practicing on. Better than himself that's for sure! "I didn't mean because you were a kid," he tries to explain, voice nearly a whisper for a moment. "I meant cause of this— cause of what you do. You're helping people. That… does kind of make you more valuable."

Hesitating, rubbing his hand against the back of his neck, he looks back at her, trying to shrug off his attempted compliment. "My hands aren't too bad— I got cuts all over, really. But the worst is on my back, where it kicked me. But I think it's just a bruise. It only really hurts when I jump around, or laugh really hard." He holds up his hands to show her, even if they're half covered, to show her that the cuts and bruises aren't too bad. None of them are deep, though some of them are a little irritated along the edges.

Long lashes veil Cordie’s eyes as she gazes down when he praises her, the slight pink hue coming back into her cheeks. “I”m not, not really more valuable than anyone else. Anyone could learn to do what I do, if they wanted.”

Her gaze rises again, and she smiles. “Well, try not to jump around too much, but I’d hate to tell you not to laugh. Do you want me to look at it? If you can walk all right, it’s probably nothing more than a bruise.. still, we have a couple things you could put in a poultice for the swelling,” she offers.

"I don't think anybody could," Cas says simply as he watches her, head tilting to the side. It doesn't last long, because he looks down at his clothes and bites down on his lower lip for a moment. Eyes shift from her to the door, before he unwinds his scarf and sets that down, then begins to take off his shirt. It'd be silly to be embarrassed after she saw him half naked the other day. He's not taking off his trousers, certainly.

There's definitely more than a few scrapes and bruises on his upper body. Upper arms, back, ribs. No doubt where his body impacted the sharper rocks as the kelpie fell. Some of them are irritated, skin pinker but not streaked with signs of dangerous infection. But the bruise on his back as he turns away is quite purple and black, not in the middle of his back, but more toward the side, on the back of his left ribcage.

"It wasn't too bad that day— the bruise didn't really show up bad until the next morning," he explains softly. He turns his head, as if trying to look over his shoulder and down his back, but the more he twists the more he grimaces, and eventually he relents. "I can only kind of see it, but I'm sure that… that if it was that bad right after… uh someone would have noticed."

Her dark brows knit and her mouth purses to one side as she looks at the brows, then watches him move and twist. “Well, sometimes, it’s more dangerous later. Still.. you seem to be able to move okay. The worst I think it might involve is a cracked rib or two, and there’s not a lot I can do for that anyway.”

Still, Cordelia moves closer to lightly touch the bruise, then winces in sympathy to issue a warning: “I have to press down to feel the ribs, so it will hurt a little.” Maybe a lot. “Okay?”

"Broken rib? That doesn't sound good…" Cas says, pressing his lips together afterward as he tries to look over his shoulder at her. It doesn't work very well. His hand moves up to self-consciously to touch the heavy iron bee around his neck. The cross hang a little higher on his chest.

"If it's broken what will I need to do?" he asks in quiet tones before he visibly tensing at her warning. But he fails to stop talking, "Will I still be able to ride horses and— ow."

It seems it does hurt.

Retracing the spot that makes him wince, she looks up. “I think it might be broken here, but the good news is it’s not displaced. I think it’s just a crack, and it’ll heal by itself. We can’t do much… you can tape it if you like but it won’t really help. What you need to do is come back immediately if you cough up any blood or see blood anywhere else you shouldn’t.”

Euphemisms.

Cordelia heads to the counter, dipping hands into this jar and that, and placing the items in a small cloth bag. “A little of this in your tea will help the pain, no more than breakfast, lunch and dinner. It takes a while to heal, and you’ll need to be careful on your horses.”

"Ow," he intones again even long after she touched him. Cas is a self confessed whiner, though this could be considered small. Broken ribs can be quite painful and his second ‘ow’ is almost comical sounding rather than the original legitimate ow from before.

“Figures. Finally work up the nerve to ask the boss if I can train my own horse and I end up breaking a rib,” he says quietly, rubbing at his side with his hand, almost touching the bruise as he watches her gather up the herbs and give her instructions. “Luckily the horse needs to be saddle-trained before I can even get on— and this gives me the excuse to take it slower.”

As he moves to pull his shirt back on, he continues to watch her, and the items she places in the bag. “What kind of horse would you like best— a chestnut or a black and white horse?” Weird question, but legitimately curious, even as he ows again pulling his arms through the shirt.

The question makes Cordelia raise those often-quizzical brows of hers, and she purses her lips over to the side as she thinks. Finally she shakes her head.

“I think what matters most is the horse’s personality. I like horses that like me back. The color doesn’t matter much to me, as long as they don’t try to kill me once I’m on them,” she says. “Unless their colors dictate their personalities, but I think that’s only true for things like dragons.”

She goes back to her stool to pick up her leather and stitching. “What kind of horse are you going to train for your own?”

"Color doesn't dictate much— though breed or gender can occasionally," Cas says as he straightens his shirt and vest back into place over his bruised and battered skin and the pendants he wears. "I get to pick, though, and I like both of the ones I've narrowed it down to. One is a black and white piebald— I think he's part Gypsy. The other is the chestnut, a mare— she seems gentler and younger than the Gypsy— the Gypsy is just… show-y… er."

With his shirt back on, he moves closer again to accept the bag of comforting tea. "Helps with the pain, only at meals," he says, showing he was listening before he puts the bag back in the satchel that he retrieved her knife from earlier.

"The male will probably be more headstrong in the end, the mare more likely to accept a rider as a protector and superior. I'm just having a hard time deciding," he confesses with a smile. "It's a big decision, especially since the boss is going to let me have the chance to buy it… Speaking of which— do I owe you anything for this?" he motions to the satchel.

“You don’t seem like the showy sort, but spirit is a good trait. Having the challenge of getting him to accept you might be worthwhile in its own way, too. Do what feels right. Or you can do what my cousin would probably do, and pick whichever one you think makes you look best,” Cordelia says, pushing an errant strand of hair out of her eyes.

She glances to the bag and then to the jars, and then shakes her head. “You were trying to protect someone. No charge for heroes, today. It’s a special sale.” She’ll spend some time replacing the herbs for Aislinn’s supply, however, on her day off.

"You don't think I'm showy?" Cas asks with a grin as he wraps the red scarf around his neck and tucks the ends under into his shirt. It gives him a splash of color to an otherwise plain palate. "The stallion would be more of a challange as a trainer, I think, so in a way that could make me look best. In the boss' eyes at least," he says, as he digs back into the bag, either rearranging the items inside, or…

When his hand comes out, he's holding a red apple that fits well in his hands, "I wasn't really trying to be a hero. I was saving it for lunch, but you earned it, and I'm sure you'll have to get more of that— " he nods toward the jar. "Sometime. So an apple is the least I can offer." With that said, he fake-tosses it once, so that she's ready, and then tosses it for real.

She didn't throw like a girl, so he expects her to catch as well as he did.

The apple is caught easily in one hand, though Cordelia then “caps” it with her other hand, something like a ballplayer might. “Thanks!” she says brightly, but sets it on the counter rather than eating it right away.

“Whichever you choose, I’m sure you will make a fine horse out of him. Or her. You obviously care about them, and that’s the most important thing of all,” Cordie says with a sage sort of nod, as if it’s profound advice. It isn’t, but it’s a simple fact many seem unable to grasp.

“Have a good day, Cas. Thanks for my knife and … stuff.”

"If you ever want a horse that's like what you described, you could ask me to train it," Cas says with a smile that dimples his cheek. Though a second later the smile falters as he adds, "Though I guess you could go to your uncle instead. But if he doesn't have the time I can."

With that, he slips back out the still ajar door and closes it behind him, returning to the town, and to whatever errands brought him into it in the first place.