Black Glass and No Reflection

Title: Black Glass and No Reflection
Time Period: April 21, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Aislinn asks a favour of Mariah.

A whore's room is always a strange place to visit, especially if you're not actually clientele. But there's a period in the late morning when most of the Johns are off, back at work or back with families and wives, and it's a pretty safe bet you're not going to be interrupting something… risque.

And this morning isn't terribly risque, either, except for the fact that it happens to be a certain stablehand's day off and he and Mariah are still sleeping off a late night. Or, at least, resting, in the latter's case. She's not gotten far enough to be dressed, but she sits up with a book in hand, letting the sun filtering through her curtains light up the page in front of her. She'll wake Cas up eventually.

The woman on the other side of Mariah's door is nothing if not polite, no matter what the time of day, and taps the tips of her fingers on the door in an attempt to rouse her. This is the way Aislinn Rowntree knocks.

"Mariah," she whispers through the door. "Are you awake?" There's an apology in her tone already just in case Mariah isn't, and that's normal for the healer too.

It's a rare enough event that Cas gets days off and gets the chance to sleep in that he's more than welcoming the warm comfort of the room with a fireplace and soft sheets. Much softer than what he enjoys normally.

The polite tip tapping of fingers on the door, soft as it may be, are enough to wake him. From his lack of snoring he may have just been laying there, holding onto the sleep as long as possible.

The voice is probably what bolts him upright, more than the knock, not even thinking as he tries to get out of bed, only to get caught in the sheets. There's a surprised yelp, and a loud thud from inside.

And then a softer, "Ow," from where Cas has landed on his back beside the bed tangled in sheets.

The knock gets Mariah's attention, but before she can really answer, there's all this clamor within the room to worry about. There's a bit of a laugh, at first, as she closes her book and sets it aside. But she comes to peek over the side of the bed where Cas has landed, an eyebrow lifted somewhat playfully. "Are you alright?"

It gives away that she's not alone, and also that people are up on the other side of that door. She pauses just long enough to help him up, at least to where he can sit instead of lay down, but then she flashes him an impish smile, because she's up off the bed a moment later, tugging on a robe as she crosses to the door. She's still tying it, even when she comes to crack the door open.

"Aislinn," she greets, in genuine friendliness. The teasing cuts in just after, though, as she cocks a hip against the door frame, "Didn't think I'd be seeing you at my door." It's a fairly regular innuendo.

The look that Aislinn gives Mariah is bewildered and a little perplexed, but she swiftly smoothes it out again and resists the temptation to peer past Mariah.

Who the other woman sleeps with is quite literally her own business; out of respect, she decides not to pry. "If this is a bad time," she says instead, knitting her pale hands, "I can come back again when it isn't. There's something I need to speak with you about."

"Ask me again when I'm awake…" Cas says quietly, closing his eyes for a moment as she makes her way toward the door. The hiding on the floor doesn't last too long, though as he rolls around and tries to free himself, and find the discarded clothes. He won't borrow one of her robes, even if that would be quicker.

With his fingers curled on the edge of the matress, he peeks toward the door and the voice, barely seeing through the crack. Though it takes some time for his eyes to adjust to the light to realize he is looking through the crack in the door. When his eyes have adjusted, he flushes across his cheeks and ducks back down, squirming to get dressed. And looking as if he wishes very much there was a back door to the room.

Mariah turns her head just enough to see what Cas is up to, "No, I think it's fine. We were just pondering brunch." Maybe she was. It's hard to say, really. But when she looks back to Aislinn, her expression turns toward the serious.

"Is everything alright?" It's concern and confusion, because the reasons one might need to speak to her are somewhat limited. But she waits just long enough for Cas to be mostly covered before she actually opens the door to usher Aislinn in. Luckily, there are places to sit that are more conversation appropriate. They're even set apart from the bed, as if she might have thought about the need to entertain on a more proper level.

A subtle shake of Aislinn's head communicates that no, everything isn't all right. "I've been told that Algernon Fogg comes here to visit with Miss Owens," she says. "I was wondering— I was wondering if the two of you…"

She trails off, then, unsure how to phrase what she means without offending even if Mariah is difficult to offend on the subject implied by Aislinn's silence. A different approach: "I can feel almost anyone, but my magic— it won't touch him. It's like looking over the side of a boat in the dark. Black glass and no reflection."

Now she does glance over Mariah's shoulder at Cas, uncertain whether to continue at her current volume or try for something softer. "We all keep secrets — I've held onto yours this long. Will you do something for me?"

As Cas stands, he's holding half of his clothes against his chest. But at least he managed to get his trousers on. The bundle in his arms cover up a lot, but for a moment he looks at Mariah as if to say 'we were?' to the brunch statement. It's Aislinn that gets most of his tired attention, even if he's self-consciously shifting around where he stands.

When Aislinn hesitates and glances over at him, he looks down at the bundle and then back up. "I can— um— go if you two need to talk alone. Get dressed and… go get you something to eat. That… brunch— yes, brunch. That we were going to have."

That shake of her head has Mariah closing the door behind the woman, and she glances to Cas as well, but doesn't seem put off by the line of questioning coming from Aislinn. She's comfortable enough not to be shooing Cas out, even at his offer.

"You mean, Algernon and I? Never had the… pleasure. He is one of Luna's favorites, though." Which might explain why she hasn't been hired. She leans a hip against one of her chairs as that explanation follows, her brow furrowing. "Algernon Fogg. Terse fellow with the hat?" It doesn't seem to mesh well with her impression of him.

But whatever she might be thinking about him, Aislinn brings her attention to the now at the mention of secrets, hers in particular. She straightens up, tenser than usual, and she doesn't seem to know what to say, exactly. So she looks over at Cas, a hand moving to her hip. "If it's alright? I'd like it if you stayed." But when she returns to Aislinn, that hand stays firmly at her hip, her stance a more forced version of her earlier ease. "You don't have to put it that way. I imagine I wouldn't mind doing a favor for you now and again." But there is something guarded about that answer. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, perhaps.

That Mariah hasn't sent Cas out of the room informs Aislinn of several things. First: Mariah trusts him. And second: He already knows the secret she alludes to. Nevertheless, her voice remains hushed, though not necessarily inaudible to the man in the room.

It's whoever might be trying to listen in from outside that worries her. "He's a good man," she feels compelled to put out there, in Algernon's defense, "I only want to know if your magic can do what mine can't. Would you try it the next time he visits?"

"The old guy from the Inn?" Cas inquires softly, looking toward Mariah as if she might confirm it. There's some visible hesitation at staying, but slowly he puts the pile of clothing down on the edge of the rumpled bed and begins to pick up the sheets to lay it back where it was supposed to be.

There's no suprise at the talk of magic, but he looks rather flustered still. And that may be why he stops to pull a shirt over his bare chest, whether the doctor has seen such things a dozen times before.

Mariah gives Cas a nod, but there's a delay before she looks over his way, something in his description of the man bringing an amused smirk out of her. "That's the one."

Her brow furrows again, though, when she looks back to the other woman. "You just want to know if it works on him?" She lets out a sigh there, and a breathy chuckle just after, "That's not nearly as bad a favor as I was expecting. Wouldn't be too hard."

"He isn't," Aislinn stresses gently. Old. It isn't said just in Algernon's defense, but her own husband's as well. Worry is the healer's other constant companion— the one that isn't her familiar— and the idea that Edmund could be old after only eight years of marriage has her heart fluttering anxiously in her chest.

She needs her mate. More importantly, Ariel needs his father; Aislinn remembers how much it hurt when she lost hers, and Cormac was only—

"Yes," she tells Mariah, voice tightening against her will. "And please don't speak of this to anyone. Donagh would not take it well."

"Sorry," Cas says as a quiet apology, a wince of guilt crossing his face as he tugs an extra layer of clothing on, in the form of a thicker vest, and starts to busy himself with making the bed.

"I guess he's not that old," he says, perhaps getting some of why the other woman might look stunned by what he's saying. Or perhaps not, really.

While he can't help with some things, he stops pushing down the sheets and looks up at Mariah, "Do— do you want my help on that? I mean if you need someone you know it works on to make sure you're not… missing all together?"

"I won't mention it. Secrets are the one thing I'm actually pretty good at." Mostly. "I'll let you know, once I know." Mariah glances over Cas' way at the apology, her smile crooked again. But her hand reaches out to rest on Aislinn's arm. It might just be a bit of comfort, but she doesn't exactly explain.

Instead, she looks at the stablehand again, an eyebrow lifting at the idea that she might miss, but she opts to nod rather than argue. "I wouldn't mind. Shouldn't be too hard to run into him."

When Mariah's hand touches her arm, Aislinn seeks it out with her fingers. If it's comfort, then she's grateful for it. "Thank you."

"Oh— yeah, I can keep a secret too," Cas says quickly once he seems to remember the whole secrecy thing. "Well, most the time. In this case definitely. And not just because you're my boss' wife and you could probably get me in trouble or…" he trails off suddenly as if he's realizing his rambling is going in a dangerous direction. He probably shouldn't remind her of all that!!

"I keep her secret— so I can keep this one," he adds on, sheepishly, scratching at the back of his neck. "So brunch?" he ends with a dimpled smile, that is only half ruined by his flushed cheeks.