Buying Time

Title: Buying Time
Time Period: July 26, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Fogg's former whore spends a fortune for a moment of his time to get so little in return.

Tap-tap-tap

At first it was the click of a fingernail against Algernon's wooden door. The scent of hearty soup from downstairs is usually not strong enough to seep up the stairs, at least not this strong. The midday meal is over, as the noise of dock workers and sailors has ceased to a dull thrum of regulars clicking their glasses against the hard top of the bar as they signal for refills. It usually allows the militia man another hour or so of sleep, however blissfull it might (or might not) be.

knock-knock-knock

When unanswered after a few moments, the gentle tap becomes an insistent rap of knuckles against oak. It couldn't be the proprietor or any of the employees, they all know better than to wake the night watchman so early in the day. Unless it was something important— but their knocks would be accompanied by frantic cries of panic from outside. Some sort of catastrophe would have to happen for one of them to come up.

"Mister Fogg," there it is, the familiar voice of a whore formerly from the Dovetail. "Algernon, please can I come in? I brought soup and a bottle."

Tap-tap-tap and Algernon opens his eyes.

Fitted close across his chest, Forge is nudged off and aside like a rug so that his arm is free to loose his pistol from out beneath his pillow. The big cat stays stretched long on his side, one eye open, one paw pushing at a corked bottle that's been sharing the bed with them. Lazy.

Cylinder glanced to and hammer drawn back, Fogg also remains in bed with his gun and his familiar after a few seconds groggy thought given over to the matter. Occam's Razor would have him believe that the sound at the door is most likely a case of mistaken identity. Or a new hire.

The knock and call that eventually follow say otherwise.

The gun, at least, is uncocked after a long stretch spent staring at the end of his bed. Resigned.

Forge yawns.

It's a while before Fogg answers the door in last night's trousers, his holstered revolver and nothing else. There are no bottles left out. And no books.

He does not look excited to see her. And he does not open the door all of the way.

Lucky for Algernon, she looks as happy as ever to see him.

In one hand, Luna has a small wooden tray with a bowl of promised soup, a bun, and a spoon to eat it with. In the other hand, is a bottle with a very old label on it, this is what she holds up. "Can I please come in? I brought one of the bottles of brandy we found in Liverpool, it's at least over two hundred years old and you can have it all to yourself if you'll have me." As a guest in the room, probably nothing more. Probably.

She sweeps over him with a languid gaze before both of her eyebrows raise a tick in silent question. What is he waiting for? "I promise I won't linger."

An indistinct noise in the base of Algernon's throat sounds like approval. For the brandy. At least.

Even though she intends to come in to be had with it.

He steps back to allow her entry accordingly, door left unattended so that he can turn back into his domain in search of his robe. He finds it where it's supposed to be (hanging in his wardrobe) and shrugs into the neutral, tatty grey of it without particular hurry. No effort is made to soften the fact that she's just woken him up. She knows what time it is.

"You're looking better."

"Am I?"

Really, she knows she is but it's a feeble attempt at modesty. Her hair isn't up in its usual complicated style, a practice that Luna's dropped since coming back from Liverpool. It has a dual purpose, saving her ego from stares at her neck and saving herself the horror of seeing her neck. She enters, turning her back on him to give a little privacy while she closes the door.

The bottle is placed on the small table by his bed, she deposits herself on the edge of the mattress. She crosses her legs at the knee and tugs the grey dress so that it falls properly. "You remember how I was when you used to visit me at the Dovetail?"

"I do."

Algernon sizes himself up in his mirror as he is lead to say so, one hand turned up against the grain greyed in around his chops. They could stand to be maintenanced. He's been less resilient about the upkeep, lately. The thought has crossed his mind to shave it all clean.

You should, says Forge. You look ridiculous.

He sizes up Luna's ankles from beneath the bed, firey eyes narrowed to slits and tail sweeping blunt at his side.

Fogg works his jaw.

"Do you remember that I was afraid of something that was watching me through my window?" Almost automatically, Luna's gaze flits to the shade over the window before she looks back up at him again. She doesn't reach for the bottle, she promised it would be all his. Instead her fingers lace together to keep themselves from picking at his coverlet or plucking at the fabric of her own dress. "It came to visit me, such a sweet puss," she smiles suddenly, before holding her hands out to her sides, trying to mime the cat's size. Forge, in actuality, is smaller. "As large as the castle bricks and about as solid, I swear."

Her hands drop again to her knees and she massages them nervously. "I think he's someone's familiar but it's not one of the ones I'm familiar with."

There is a static silence between cat and man where accusation would fit very neatly.

The space goes unfilled. Which may be worse, actually.

Forge looks away from Luna's ankles.

"An undocumented familiar within Eilean Donan's walls has potentially serious implications," Algernon says, initially to his own reflection and then to Luna with a late glance across his shoulder. "Mysterious voyuers should be received with hostility. Smothered or drowned, if possible."

Forge hoods his brow, toes splayed wide and all their claws with them.

"It's the only way to be sure."

"I don't think so," Luna snaps back, folding her arms under her breasts and tucking one hand under her elbow while the fingers of the other hand curl around the bicep of her opposite arm. "First of all, that cat was big enough to rip me in half. Second, it wasn't frightening as much as— aloof. Like you.g"

She pauses for a second before tapping her fingers against her arm. "I was just wishing to ask if you'd ever seen a wildcat on your patrol. It has the prettiest jasper colored eyes, and he has scars on his neck— " she stop again and chews on her bottom lip nervously "— like me."

There's an edge to the look Algernon turns back on her once she's snapped, patience as threadworn as the robe he's tied slack about his waist. The already sharp bones around his face are honed harder still for a pound lost here and there, most likely to the odd liquid dinner.

"Consider then the disfavor you are doing his mage by making a spectacle of what was previously a secretive presence in Dornie." If you're such fine friends, rides near accusation through the growl of his voice. Unsaid but heavily implied. "Wildcats are only seen when they wish to be seen."

Luna shrinks— guilty— under that glare. Watery kitten eyes turn up on him as he makes his opinion known and her lips pinch together tightly to keep her chin from quivering at all. "I wasn't!" She argues defensively, switching the cross of her legs from the knee to the foot, then tucking them under the bed. "You said to drown it, I could never do that, it'd cripple the poor person it's part of. Magic's a gift, one that I envy very much, I just couldn't hurt anyone like that."

If the blonde woman wasn't inside the room, she'd surely be on the other side of the door for the bickering that just happened. That in mind, she eyes the door a moment before taking a calming breath. "I wasn't making a spectacle of anything, I just wanted to know why. Was it sent to look after me or does it look after me on its own."

Luna shrinks and Algernon circles to sink himself down into the chair at his desk. Tired, suddenly. Why is this conversation happening. Why especially is it happening in the middle of his night. In his room. With him.

He stares blandly at a tie he's left on the floor and the tie stares back, unmoved.

"I wouldn't know," he says finally. Already feeling sorry. For telling her Forge should be drowned, not for grousing at her. Lest there be any confusion.

"So you've never seen it then? Not even out my window?" Luna leans forward as she asks the question, her feet slipping a little further under the bed. They're still for the moment and invading the space that Forge has claimed for himself. "You do remember the tracks and the noseprints, aye?" She glances at the bottle then back at Algernon, her brow furrowing in worry. Maybe she shouldn't have brought it for him as a gift.

"Eat the soup, Algernon," she changes course, jerking her chin toward the tray and bowl. "You've gotten so thin, what's happened to you?"

"I cannot say," says Algernon, who occasionally tells the truth more directly than his usual. He is well-trained about the eye line and does not look to Luna's heels, nor to the wildcat scooting awkwardly back away from them. He meets her eyes instead, relieving a corrosive buildup of pressure about his temper with a slow, measured sigh.

"Mister Fogg," is therefor able to come as a firm (but polite) correction rather than the backhand it might have been. He doesn't eat the soup because he does not lightly take orders from whores past or present. "Why are you here?"

"I came to ask about the wildcat, I brought you a gift to pay for your time." Like someone who's lived her entire adult life as a whore would think. "And some soup because I thought you'd like something to eat when you woke up. Now I'm reconsidering both because you've been nothing but a nasty git."

She stops.

"Mister Fogg."

The heels come out from under the bed and she stands, brushing her hands down her drab dress. Before she moves, she brushes her fingers through her hair to better hide the scars. It works so well. She doesn't pick up the bottle or the soup, leaving them both for him to clean up, when she crosses the small room to the door again. "I'll ask someone else about them then. Thank you for your time."

Jaw locked on its hinges, Algernon leans reproachfully back against the desk as she stands, watching her go without moving to follow. Her timely application of his desired title is endured without much expression. A certain flatness.

She isn't wrong.

"Thank you for the brandy," is as neutral as he can be in turn. Proprietous in all the ways that matter least and in no hurry to get up and open the door for her. Granted, he's made no move for the bed either.

"Eat the soup," she repeats, hand on the latch but not opening it yet. She's not in a hurry. "Please. I don't like to see you so thin, you're not as handsome this way as you were when you laid in my bed." She grins at him briefly and then shakes her head. "Self preservation doesn't seem to be doing you much good, you're off."

Once again, she cuts herself off, this time before saying anything too horrible. "You were kind to me once, Mister Fogg, more than once. Even if you were always so maddeningly frustrating, I'd rather not see you wither. If there's anything I can do for you at all, just say it."

Algernon forces a thin smile back at her, insult mingled with concern taken in inscrutable stride. It's an expression she's seen before, usually in the context of distracted tolerance.

Guilt gnaws cold in his gut and Forge can no longer be easily observed at the post beneath the bed. It's possible that he's no longer a cat. A scuff of his hand across his mouth draws his focus forcibly back onto her and he nods. Farewell. Agreement to the soup thing. Dismissal.

"I'll be sure to let you know."