Chasing Perfection

Title: Chasing Perfection
Time Period: January 13, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Present hedonism collides with past pain when alcohol and drugs are mixed with spirits of another sort.

The smell of wine near his nose acts as the smelling salts that bring him to. His hands are cold, pressed against clammy skin. His right is tangled in delicate lace pulled down a few inches against a thigh while the other grips tightly around a wrist held over his head. A slowed pulse thrums against his lips, with the woman's head turned away it would be impossible to identify her by sight alone, but her blonde hair carries a particular perfume and the body pinned underneath his feels somewhat familiar. It's Luna and she's not awake.

Dark pebbles of thick glass litter the space around them and some in between them, the sharp pain at the back of his skull hints at what might have caused it. It's a painful awakening. Another more pungent and acrid aroma comes from the floor. At some point, either he or she has gotten sick.

The sun has just set on the moors, turning the room various shades of dark purple and navy blue. The clear glass of the window is frosted over in a sketchy paisley pattern with nose prints dotting the lower part of the pane. There's a nip in the air, from lack of fire for heat. For some reason, they didn't light one.

His eyes narrow immediately against the assault of dim light, and his hand comes to his head, feeling the lump there gingerly, fingers coming away sticky — mostly wine but a trickle of something thicker, darker.

Grimacing, he brushes the glass away before looking at Luna, pulling her hair away from her face to see that she's breathing, to make sure she hasn't been beaten to a pulp by … whoever did this to him.

Seeing her still asleep, Beisdean scowls, eyes darting to the door that is still closed — nothing else seems out of place in the room…

Other than the fact that he's in bed, and on top of Luna in the room he grew up in as a child.

A groan escapes his lips as he pushes himself up and away. He finds that he's dressed, with some relief, but only some — his fingers blindly refasten his half-open fly as he looks to where Luna still lies, on top of the made-bed, her dress up and around her hips.

His hand comes up to his throbbing head again; he wheels around, looking for his coat, his satchel, grabbing each and looking then from door to Luna and back again.

Beisdean only takes one step toward the door, shrugging himself into his coat before he stops, and looks back, yet again.

He sighs, dropping the bag and moving to the bed, reaching to tentatively shake her shoulder. "Luna." His voice is raw, thick.

The unbroken neck of the bottle still grasped in her hand comes up and presses against the side of his neck, not cutting into the flesh. Blue eyes, with pupils much too large, fly open to stare at him in the dim light. Luna doesn't say anything, the shaking breath through her mouth creating small ripply clouds in the air.

Slowly, her free hand moves to pull the layered skirts down as far as she can without bending her body or getting closer to him. She licks her lips, giving them a little bit of warmth as well as much needed moisture. A streak of black kohl pours from the corner of her eye and disappears into her hair.

His eyes widen, mirroring hers. It's not too difficult to straighten and step away to get away from the glass in her hand. What is difficult is keeping his balance, given the hangover and probable concussion he suffers — along with a bone-wearying exhaustion that comes with the worst of his magic. It is that exhaustion that frightens him most, more than Luna, more than the remnants of the wine bottle she wields.

He stumbles back, bumping into the door and wincing at the doorknob that delivers a kidney punch to his back.

"What…" his mouth can't quite work right to make the rest of the words.

When Beisdean moves away, the broken end of the bottle follows him, like a divining rod. Arm held straight out, she pushes herself to a sitting position against the headboard. The small clatter against the wall doesn't seem to alert anyone to anything amiss. It's when she's finally seated that the blanket is pulled up and around her cold body as a protective shell.

Luna only has one answer for him. A sob that bursts out of her small frame and a high pitched keening that is prelude to more. More watered down kohl streaks down her cheeks, it's not the first time he's seen the sight. This time it isn't for attention or hurt feelings. It's for humiliation.

Both hands come up, empty and surrendering. "I don't want to hurt you," he says, his voice too loud and too rough in his achey head. "Did I … did I hurt you?"

His outstretched hand is smeared with rusty blood — it's clear she hurt him, at some point. But why?

There is a rustle of movement and Beisdean jumps, turning in that direction with wide eyes, but it is his marten, uncurling from the corner.

She might not remember. You do not remember anything? The mental voice is gentle, worried, as Darklight's black eyes peer up at him.

Beisdean shakes his head, his eyes going back to Luna's. "I don't remember anything," is answer for both of them. "I didn't… I wouldn't…" but he knows what must have happened.

"I'll go," Beisdean says more decisively, hand on the doorknob turning.

She shifts and drags herself across the pebbles of glass to the corner. The weapon is dropped as soon as his hand touches the doorknob and both arms wrap around her knees as Luna watches his retreat. There's a small smacking sound as her lips part, like she wants to say something but only more sobs shudder through her.

"Darklight…" she squeaks, uncertain if the familiar can actually understand her words or even if he cares to. "Is it him?" She can't speak to the marten or even hear it talk if it answers but apparently familiars are supposed to be a little smarter than the average animal. She's never seen one do a trick though.

The creature looks her way, and then runs up Beisdean's legs, clambering up the tall man until it rests around his shoulders — the best answer it can give.

"Oh, God," Beisdean groans, closing his eyes, and looking away, grimacing as if in pain. "I'm sorry. Whatever I did — I usually remember, I don't know why I can't remember — but whatever I did… It wasn't me, Luna. I'm so sorry. It's not an excuse, I know it's not an excuse."

He moves away from the door so that he can open it — he's still imbalanced, shoulder knocking into the doorjamb as he begins to leave her room. "I'll pay for the damage to the bedding, somehow. I'll owe you," he mutters, one nod back toward the blood and wine-stained sheets.

Luna looks away, raking a shaky hand through her messy hair. An audible swallow follows, her throat is dry, she needs a drink. She needs more herbs to quell the trembles that give away her weakness. Everything that she needs right now are things that she knows, logically, she shouldn’t bother with. Not as long as Beisdean is still in the room.

Not as long as her virtue is still in danger.

Shifting, she risks a glance toward the window, through the darkened space. The prostitute can’t see across the room very well, not in this light or with how much she’s already imbibed but…

"I need a cigarette," she whispers.

A hand smooths up under her skirts, tender fingers feeling along the top band of her lacy underthings before hooking into them and beginning a tug. She's too distracted by his mouth covering hers and tongues dancing together to fully grasp what's happening. Pulling back a partial inch, she grazes the tip of her nose alongside his. "Baizey…" she breathes.

He stops short, crooked smile, bleary eyes trying to focus on her through a haze of herbs. Flipping his hair off his forehead, he lowers his lips again, this time to her neck and up to her earlobe where he divulges a little secret. "I'm beginning to think it's your pet name for me, luv, but it still ain't Baizey."

The voice in the memory is his — the accent and tone are not. Beisdean swallows hard, trying to will back his memory of how they got to that point, to separate his actions from whoever it was pulling his strings for however many minutes it took to get nearly murdered by the frail girl in the bed.

The hallway and the steps it leads to seem a sanctuary, and Beisdean wants nothing more than to flee down them, but…

It's not a lot to ask for, and he can at least do this one thing for her after whatever it was he did earlier.

Blue eyes skim the room until he sees the box. He bends to let Darklight off his shoulders, and the small creature moves to sit and watch as his master makes the little joint.

Do you remember? You were not yourself and it allowed you to be overtaken, I think. She realized it was not you, and it frightened her.

Beisdean's brows furrow as he finishes rolling, bringing the joint to his own lips to strike a match and light it, then brings it to Luna.

He does not hand it to her, but instead moves to the bedside table to set the little bindle down on the ashtray, giving her a wide berth and stepping away swiftly. "Were we drunk? High? That or the bottle's making my memory a tad sketchy," he says softly.

She doesn’t answer, not right away anyway. The distance of the slim spliff makes it necessary to move, something Luna doesn’t seem inclined to do, so she watches it instead. Longingly. Trying to breathe a little deeper to coax the smoke toward her. It doesn’t exactly work.

Beisdean is wanting answers, instead of looking at him, she directs her gaze to his familiar first. “Both,” she says, her tone mechanical and void of feeling. It’s a first since she woke up. She’s not crying anymore, which is a plus. Streaky lines down her cheeks are smudged by her fingertips in an effort to look a bit more presentable. He didn’t hit her, again, which is also good.

“I’m not sorry,” she intones, unbidden, her voice gaining a bit of strength. “And I still need a cigarette.”

“I am.”

Sorry, that is. Beisdean continues, “I shouldn’t have done, whatever it was; it makes it harder to block ‘em out. Stupid of me, especially the combination. But it gets so tiring… and sometimes I just want to be numb.

His voice is quiet and gentle, apologetic and ashamed all at once. Moving slowly, as he might to settle a horse, he reaches for the cigarette again, then sinks down to sit on the far end of the bed, more than an arm’s reach from where shes huddled, before offering it to her with a slow, easy stretch of his hand. The positioning is deliberate, meant to make her feel less threatened.

That and he needs to sit down.

“Who was it?” he asks, staring at his boots as he crosses his ankles, stretching his legs out. “Do you know?”

Numb, it’s a feeling she knows all too well.

Still, Luna focuses on the slim stick of herbs in Beisdean’s hand rather than his face. She reaches for it, wrapping her fingers so that she doesn’t touch him at all before she pulls it from his hand and draws it to her lips. She shouldn’t be smoking, she knows this, therefore she hesitates before taking her first long pull. As punishment of some sort, the smoke stings her insides all the way into her lungs and for a moment it looks as though the prostitute is about to be sick, but then she coughs. No matter how much she tries to hold it back, it comes, much like Beisdean’s visitor earlier.

“I can only guess,” she finally says after drawing in a breath of clean(ish) air. The cough is gone, the purge of her fear happened with that first drag and she seems more relaxed. It’s a potent blend that he rolled, something she usually saves for when things go bad. Like now. “My first— here— I accidentally called him by your name. He got angry.”

Oh. Well. Beisdean’s cheeks flush a little at that revelation and he examines his hands on his knees. “He hurt you.” It’s not really a question. His eyes close and his chin tips upward, stretching his neck as he scowls.

“Did you know he died? I don’t remember enough to know if he’d been around me before he…” a hand waves for her to fill in the gap — the word “possessed” is a little hard for Beisdean to admit, worse to say aloud.

Before letting her answer, he stands again. “I’m so sorry,” he repeats, then gestures to the puddle on the floor. “Do you have a towel? I’ll clean up…”

“I never saw him again,” she says in a hushed tone before taking another long pull from the cigarette. “Just as well, I lied to everyone… Said that he called me by another name and it was I that got angry. I lied about a lot of things that night.” Silly way to try to save face as a whore, but she was young.

Luna can’t see the floor, she’s put it completely out of her mind that there is an additional mess to clean. As if the sheets and blankets aren’t enough. Shaking her head, she balances the spliff between her lips and unwraps the blanket from around her body, dropping it over the pool. Then she feels naked. Even though she’s fully clothed.

Little beads of glass tumble and skitter across the floor as she rips up the sheet, wrapping it around her shoulders and body. It’s wet and stinks of wine, likely cold as well but she doesn’t seem to notice or care. Much like most things right now.

“I don’t like to be touched.” Because of him isn’t spoken out loud.

He stares at her as she speaks, each word she says making his frown grow deeper, his eyes seem sadder. “It’s getting worse,” he murmurs. “Since I’ve been here… I don’t know if it’s just because it’s where it all started or if it’s something about Dornie, or if it’s just me and some mental block or… I should go. I’m not safe, and I almost…”

He almost.

Beisdean moves slowly, to give her plenty of time to react, to cringe away, to hit him over the head with another bottle if she has one stowed in the bed somewhere. He takes a step onto the blanket covering the floor, and crouches down so that he can look up at her.

His eyes are still dilated from the drugs and alcohol; blood and wine darken the silver at his temples.

“Listen,” he says softly, “I’m sorry if I somehow was responsible for that. For him hurting you then, too.” He’d already apologized for tonight… though the words don’t mean enough. They can’t undo the fear he’d caused.

His eyes drop. “I’m sorry I’ve ever hurt you.”

A small flare of the fire at the end of the joint is almost at the end as she inhales deeply, one last time. Having nowhere to put it, Luna simply throws it toward the tray on the nightstand. Whether it hits it, the blanket on the floor, or catches a curtain on fire, it doesn’t seem to matter to her.

Two lines of smoke are exhaled through her nostrils, like an angry bull on a cool morning.

Then she catches his gaze and he gives his apology. For a moment it seems the dullness in her blue eyes is gone and there’s genuine emotion building in them. Not the false glow of happiness or burning anger or even tears, just a small spark that his words might have reached her.

It goes away just as quickly, replaced with pain.

Get out,” she whispers harshly, drawing deep and rapid breaths like she’s getting ready to hyperventilate or throw a tantrum. “You don’t know anything. You don’t know anything about me. You’ve no right to tell me you’re sorry now, not now, not after I’ve already been ruined.” The sheet is gathered tighter around her and she buries her face into the hollow between her knees and chest.

He reaches for the cigarette that has landed on the blanket, reaching to stub it out on the small tray as she huddles tighter into her little ball. Beisdean is quiet for a moment, unsure of what to say.

“It’s not fair to hold a grudge for something from then, if you won’t let me apologize for it now. Especially since I wasn’t even around,” he finally says at length, voice soft and polite, but a little distant. He’s already retreating, his offerings slapped away.

He rises again and this time moves toward the door. “I’ve enough to be sorry for without feeling guilty for your choices and your disappointments, Luna. But even so, I am. I’m sorry for them, and I wish I could make them go away, just like I wish I could be rid of the things that I see. But I can’t. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to care when I hurt someone — whether I mean to or not.”

The door opens and he steps through, casing one last glance over his shoulder. “I can’t seem to do anything but hurt you, whether I’m here or gone… and I can’t help that. But I can keep from hurting you in the flesh at least.” His voice is sad and solemn. “I’ll keep my distance so tonight won’t repeat itself. You’ll be safe from me — and him.”

“You’re so daft…” it’s muffled by the sheet and layers of dress. Lifting her head, Luna looks through the door, eyes red but no tears stinging them. “You’re the stupidest or blindest man I’ve ever known and for all the good he does you, your familiar can’t seem to put any sense into your addled head.”

The cold sheet is unwrapped from her body and she moves toward the nightstand, pulling open a drawer and lifting out a small envelope of powder. She holds it in her palm and looks at it for a long while before curling her fingers around it to hide it. “I don’t blame you for then,” she whispers, “I don’t blame you for now… I’ll blame you for leaving me when I need you, just like I did then but not for any of this. This is my burden to bear, Baizey Skye, so don’t you dare play the martyr for me.”

The man pauses, and when she insults him, snorts, raising his eyes to the rafters. “Trust me when I say I’m not being a martyr and that it’s not that much of a sacrifice to stay away from you, princess,” he mutters first, then turns to look at her from the doorway.

“You need to quit blaming people when they don’t read your mind. That isn’t my ablity, nor is it Darklight’s. Call me daft if you want for thinking that you hitting me on the head with a bottle might be a sign I should leave. Call me blind for thinking you shrinking away from me or curling into a fetal position if I’m near you might mean I should give you some space. Call me deaf for thinking that you saying ‘Leave’ means I should actually leave when apparently you want me to stay…”

The litany finally comes to an end, and Beisdean closes his eyes, hand reaching to his temple to try to quell the pain that’s risen with the rising of his voice. “You never needed me then. You invented some fairy tale and then it didn’t go your way, and you’ve invented this whole bloody drama that’s all supposed to be my fault somehow, and it isn’t fair. I was a child,” his foot stamps to accentuate the word, “and I couldn’t even take care of myself let alone another person’s heart I never asked for.”

“I’m not sorry for the bottle, it wasn’t you.” Luna’s voice is low, not rising to match Beisdean’s. Her fingers uncurl and she stares at the packet a little more, her shoulders shrinking downward as he rants about their childhood and her false perception of it. At the clap of his foot against the floorboards, she winces and glances in his direction out of the corner of her eye, not risking a full stare at him. “I don’t blame you for my life turning this way, that ain’t got naught to do with nothing. Aye, things might’ve been quite different if you stayed but me turning to this..”

The packet is held up and shaken as that some powder lands in her other palm.

“… It was him. The touching, it was him. I’ve always loved my drink and my herbs, they aren’t your fault.” The powder is gently shaken back into the envelope, the residue pressed to her lips rather than letting it go to waste. “There wouldn’t have been a bottle on your head if it was you. I didn’t want whatever that was, I wanted you.”

Beisdean’s heavy-lidded eyes watch her play with the packet, then drift back to her face. He shakes his head, a small smile playing in the corner of his mouth for the first time since waking.

“You are dizzying, you know that? Even when I don’t have a concussion.”


“I’m sure I must have been there at some point, for what it’s worth. To have gotten to that point.” His cheeks color again at the realization of what he had almost done — while in the control of another entity.

It isn’t shame but anger and frustration that makes him flush.

“And I’m sure it would have been grand,” Beisdean adds; the use of the subjunctive seems to argue the moment has passed — even if it weren’t for the concussion and vomit.

Definite mood breakers.

“Goodnight, Luna.”

”It’s new,” she says with a smile, pulling a small packet from the inside of her bustier. “The man I bought it from assured me it would be a cure for my problem. You know— “ Luna quickly glances at her bare shoulder and then up at Beisdean again. The smile wanes a little but she masks it by parting her lips. “You’ll try some with me? He said it was like swallowing a miracle, it makes you feel absolutely perfect. Something I think we could both use a small spell of.”

Pouring a small pile of the white powder into her palm, she looks at it for a moment before holding it up. “Lick your finger and dip it in, then put it under your tongue. It’ll work faster that way, we can do it together.” As a show of good faith, she licks her own finger first and dips it into the sugar-like substance. The prostitute doesn’t place it under her tongue right away, instead she waits for him, an almost childlike expression of hope covering her features.

As if it might just break her heart if he tells her no.


The memory doesn’t stay him in his exit, though Darklight doesn’t follow and instead moves to the bed, hopping up and curling amongst the pile of bedding — to stay where his master won’t, perhaps.

Beisdean only descends a few steps before he sinks down to sit on one of the stairs, hands curling into his hair. “Bloody stupid of you,” he tells himself.

“You’ll stay with me?” Luna murmurs to the marten, edging down onto the mattress and curling into a fetal position around him. One hand tucks between her cheek and the pillow while the other hovers over the brown fur, afraid to touch it. Whether the animal is as skittish as she is a question not pondered on for long, her hand settles on its back and she closes her eyes as she strokes the soft fur.

“You’re a good lad,” she whispers, inching a bit closer to Darklight, until he’s nestled neatly against her torso. “Sometimes I imagine that I had someone like you to talk to… someone who knows me better’n anyone. I wished for so long that I was magic.”

The marten makes a tch sound at her, closing his eyes and curling into a little ball, his tail covering his nose.

Outside the room, Beisdean rises, gripping the banister to keep from tumbling down the stairs. It will be a cold and long walk to the inn on foot — his horse is stabled at the Albatross safely.

But he’s alone — somehow, despite the pain and the hangover, the spirits are staying away — and the cold air outside will allow him to think, maybe remember, more clearly. His feet lead him, more by muscle memory than anything, to the back door, and he trudges through the snow in the darkening night toward the inn.

”What’s all that noise up there?”

”Never you mind it, it’s just Luna carryin’ on again. Fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteen six, and a pair is eight. Go.”

”A pair for two, go. Does she ever stop?”

”With her? There’s always something, just ignore it, it’ll stop eventually.” The larger of the two whores looks over at the stairs toward two sets of drying boot prints headed up. Taking the pile of cards, she spreads them flat on the table and mixes them before she begins to shuffle them between her fingers. Her lips turn up at one corner as she leans forward, nodding her chin toward the prints. “Looks like she has company anyway. It'd serve her right if she gets in over her head, she's well due for a downturn on luck.”