Title: Confidant
Time Period: March 26, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: It's difficult to play it cool with someone who already knows your secret.

For five years, Mariah's life has been steady. Constant. Predictable and also reliable. And now it isn't. Ups and downs have decided to come invade and hold a war over which one is more unbalancing. And being a fairly private individual, there was only one person she could think to go to while the stings and highs are all still fresh.


She sits in the back even when the others have started to make their way out, leaving her mostly alone and still staring as random flashes from the film flicked up on Dornie's version of a silver screen. Her fingers fiddle with a pendant that hangs from a chain around her neck. It's a new enough trinket that she's still getting used to the feel of it being there, and she drags it gently back and forth along the chain.

Perhaps it is the same for Jorn. When your life has its whorls and knots, the one constant thing is the past; unfortunately, he does not have movies of his own. Marilyn's will do. Though he does not often go out to the showings of the movies themselves, they are always popular enough in winter, just like any other activity where several dozen people crowd into a room and make it terribly warmer than the outside.

When the northman does go, it is usually alone, and usually off against a wall, near a back corner, with his cloak flipped and covered in something slightly darker. The white is a distraction, he learned early on. At least there is no need to worry about ringing phones in this day and age. He is in this usual corner when people begin to leave, and the otherwise full showing fully ends with the departure of several small groups. Jorn remains there, for a time, feet propped on the back of the empty bench ahead of him, and hands folded over his stomach. A quick look after folks leave gives him a short glimpse of those left over, and one or two get a longer gaze. Mariah being the second.

Mariah seems to shake herself out of whatever thoughts she'd lapsed into, as she moves suddenly, straightening like someone who'd fallen asleep somewhere they shouldn't. Her fingers drop the necklace, letting a certain bloodstone pendant wrapped in copper wire fall back against her skin while she turns to pick up her coat. With all these people leaving, she's going to need it soon.

It's when she starts to stand that she sees Jorn sitting there. Her head tilts curiously, as if this were the last place she'd expect to find him, and with a soft smile, she strides over to his bench to sit down on instead.

"Didn't take you for a fan of Marilyn's," she opens with, nodding toward the screen, "But, I suppose her appeal is fairly all-encompassing."

He does not so much stretch as tense up, and draw it back out, muscles making him shift. For a moment he is unsure of if he should be sitting up to attend to her or not- but in the end, they are more equals than anything. Jorn does at least put his feet down, if not sit up completely straight. It kind of looks like unease, while he looks her over more closely.

"It's not the only reason… my life is already full of drama." Jorn gives her a small smile, eyelids shading his blue eyes as he glances away towards the flickering screen. "I have always appreciated comedy. And, of course, miss Marilyn, as long as I have known about her."

"Oh, I can understand that," Mariah says with a gentle chuckle as she lays her coat over her lap and looks back toward the screen as well. "For example. I'm supposed to be working tonight." And clearly isn't. She lets out a long, heavy sigh at that confession, but when she looks back at him, her smile is back in place. Whatever part of her feels irresponsible, another part of her is— clearly— not at all bothered. The opposite, even.

"I hear you wrestled a troll, speaking of drama. The kids in town said it was giant and lumbering and had six eyes and four arms and spit fire." Oh. Children. She grins, though, at the report, and she turns toward him, her legs folding criss cross under her skirts. As usual— she doesn't seem to mind being looked at, closely or not.

"I am supposed to be resting." He shares, when she does, his smirk turning into a conspiratorial little chuckle. "But your not working affects more, I think." Something like that. Jorn breathes deep and lets out a sigh when Mariah mentions the ruckus from earlier in the week.

"Aye, well…" The northman frowns a bit at her description of it, opposed to her smiling about it. He watches her move- any man would, if he knew her. Jorn's eyes seem to be alert, even if the rest is forcibly relaxing. "There were two, technically." Jorn teases, eyebrows quirking up. Not to toot his own horn. "I shot one dead, and did wrestle the other. Knocked me out for it, though. I woke up to the smell of the militia cutting the thing apart to dispose of it." And Cas, but he does not mention the boy, even though his observations have shown him Mariah's pendant, clearly there at her neck.

"Ah well. Always nice to have a partner in misbehaving," Mariah says with a crooked, sly smile. She can't help it. These things, they spill out of her by habit these days. But his observation turns her smile smile into a wry chuckle instead, and she glances back to the screen again as her fingers absent-mindedly return to the necklace.

And even though her gaze returns to him as he explains, her fingers continue to fiddle. It is, after all, one of the things lingering on her mind just now. "Two trolls. Those children need t learn to be better informants," she says, teasing as well before she tilts her head to listen.

"…That's disgusting," she says there at the end, and she even makes a face at the idea of that particular smell. But, at least there's a laugh on her words all the same. "Poor bastards."

"I had help from others, I admit. I cannot take all credit. Dunmore torched one of them first." Jorn chuckles then, letting it quiet him down again. "Yes, exactly." Smells and bastards. "I hope that it was a freak occurrence." After a time, Jorn finally clears his throat and gestures a hand towards her neckline, his manner passive enough that it does not seem like he is actually - up to something. Which he could be.

"That is a nice piece on you. Bloodstone."

"Oh, Niall, too? Well. That does explain the fire, at least," Mariah says, her smile a touch warmer. The blacksmith's one of the good guys. And she would know. "Oh, me too. Could you imagine if they decided to take up residence? We'd need a bigger militia. And I, for one, can live with the idea of only seeing one at a distance. A great distance."

When he mentions the necklace, her hand pulls away from it as if she'd just been caught at something. "Thank you," she says casually, despite her nervous gesture, "I think it's… very beautiful. It was a gift." And that fact has her smile brightening to something more genuine. Less the seductress, if just for a few moments.

"To give them more space, the isles would need more room first." Jorn frowns to himself, but Mariah's literal girlishness catches him off guard. He figured it was Cas falling for a woman like her, not that it was possibly mutual. Surprising enough that for a few moments after, the nord gets a look much like a cat that has caught a canary.

"Oh?" The light blue eyes practically twinkle, even if somewhat out of his 'character'. Public character, anyhow. "From a suitor, perhaps?"

"Oh, aye," Mariah says with a chuckle at those first words, "Just so long as they don't sit in front of me." It would be hard to see the screen around them. Obviously.

She doesn't miss that look. Or that she very well may be the canary in this situation, which is new for her. He is most definitely up to something. And the question that follows has her putting a hand on her hip as she regards him. It also, by no coincidence, gives her a moment to ponder just how to reply to that one.

"I… am not entirely certain that prostitutes get suitors, exactly." Which is, frankly, dodging the question.

"You're human, yes? You can get a suitor." Jorn insists, feeling well enough about the situation to jest with it. "No need to look so defensive, kjaere." He lifts up his chin and sniffs, mouth flattening, arms crossing, brow levelling. "It is just that I happen to have been there when he bought it."

"The little fellow seemed quite taken with whoever it was for. I do hope you're not leading him on." There is the faintest of warnings in his tone. Jorn knows Mariah well enough to be friendly, but what he does not wholly trust are those in the profession. There are always the nice ones though, like her, but the stereotype remains that all brothel girls play a game to keep men coming back.

"I suppose. I just think it would take someone… with infinite understanding to court a woman like me." Mariah looks, for the briefest moment, a little self depreciating. But his next words bring her smile back up and she shakes her head. "I'm not trying to be. It just sort of happens." Defensiveness, that is.

Of course, then he drops that little bomb into the conversation, and if Mariah was stumped before, she's downright flabbergasted this time. It manifests in open-mouthed surprise, a low exhale and her eyes squeezing shut. She peeks an eye open after a moment, but it's that hinted warning that gets her speaking again.

"No, no, no. I'm not. I'm— I know that's essentially impossible to believe but I— care. About him. I… He's…" Her brow furrows there, a generally secretive nature and an unfamiliarity with matters of the heart mixing together into several false starts. "He's complicated everything, you know," she eventually opts for, her fingers brushing down her coat, straightening out non-existent wrinkles. "Even if it is in the best way possible."

Jorn, when you disregard his tendency for blunt questions, is a good listener when he wants to be. This, and other things, happen to make him more fond than not when girls are apt to start gossiping. He listens now, as he should, sitting up a little and careful to keep this a private conversation. Towards the end, he simply nods along to her, the gesture deceivingly gentle.

"It looks like he is worth more than a little something to you." Jorn seems relieved, somehow. "Perhaps it is time that you speak to Edme about him. No doubt there must be rumors, what with you girls…"

"That would… be the sensible thing to do," Mariah says with a chuckle that's more nervous than amused. "I'm… not sure what she would say. And I'm not sure what I would say. You are right, though. If she didn't know already, I'd be shocked. She's probably waiting for me to come to her about it." She isn't, for the record, very sensible. At least in this case.

"He is, by the way. Worth more than a little. I suppose I'm working out just how much, at the moment." Already, it's been far more than she expected. A pause lingers for a moment, her expression softening again before she looks back to Jorn. "He seemed taken, did he?" She didn't miss that bit.

"Your madame is sharper than some of you girls give her credit for- you have no doubts there, I see." There is more amusement to his manner than anything, now. "Be careful you do not take too long to work it out. He could get mixed signals."

"Oh, goodness, yes." On Cas' taken-ness. "Like a boy, he was. I hope he doesn't make any mistakes." Not that Mariah would not forgive something here or there. "I was a young man once upon a time, believe it or not. I know how he feels, I think. A boy about a girl."

"No, no doubt. I respect her endlessly." Probably on account of her saving Mariah's life when she took her in. Maybe. The warning about mixed signals gets a sigh, though, and Mariah runs a hand through her hair for a moment. "It's a bit difficult. I've never— I mean, I'm not there to collect lovers, I'm there to collect fees. And I like the fees. Until recently, I cared more about that than most anything." Shouldn't be too much of a surprise, for a woman with her history. It's probably also why she's rumored to have many of the less pleasant clients. "And now I feel all… churned up about it all." Lovesick. She won't say that, though.

"I wouldn't worry too much about mistakes. He thinks he makes more than he actually does. I dare say I'm the one more likely to mess up." New territory. Slippery terrain. "I suppose I'm quite taken with him, too, though. You might say." At those last words, she smiles again and leans over to rest her arm up on his shoulder. Even though it is a bit of a reach. "Not so long ago, aye? I wouldn't stick you in the grizzled category just yet."

"It'll figure itself out, if you don't help it along." And no telling how that would turn out. If it weren't her job to be endlessly friendly, Jorn might shy away from her leaning about his shoulder. As it stands, he puts up with it. A shake of his head and a snort later, he lifts his hand to pat her on the arm.

"I feel a lot older than I am. But thank you. Nice to know that others don't see what I feel like." Maybe a little bit of wryness in there.

"You know. You're not the person I would have expected to come to for advice on this." Not that she… was going to anyone for advice on this. But Mariah smiles all the same for his wryness, and that arm moves so she can pat his cheek. Affectionate, but still just friendly. "This would be an entirely inappropriate time to comment on what you feel like, I imagine." Considering. But it dips her smile crooked all the same.

She moves then, to stand up to her feet and pull her coat on, fingers buttoning it snug around her but leaving, perhaps unconsciously, just enough open to leave that stone visible. "The real issue stems from the simple fact that without the Dovetail, without this work… I'm not sure I have any place to go. I'm just me, these days." Her hands straighten her coat as she looks down at her feet for a moment, but when she looks back at him, her smile is back, if a little… bittersweet. "I'll get it worked out. Thank you. For listening. And for looking out for him." She understand the need for it and is, quite plainly, glad there's someone out there to do it.

Considering. Yes. The skin on his ears tints a shade darker, and he looks back at her with a similarly crooked smile. It fades after a moment, however, and he turns his blue-eyed gaze away from her.

"It is no problem." Jorn shakes his head once, looking back to her and picking himself up from his lounging. "You are a clever girl. I think that if you found yourself leaving, you would not have as much trouble as you think that you might."

"I'm grateful for the vote of confidence," Mariah says, although she looks like maybe… it might take some time for her to believe it herself. But the way she looks at him for a moment, eyes narrowed thoughtfully, it may be burrowing into her mind. To be digested later. "In France, they say bon sang no peut mentir. Good blood cannot lie. So I'll take you at your word."

Which is kind of a big deal, for her.

But she holds an arm out to him, her smile an impish one for the gesture, "Care to let me see you out?" It's a little backwards from tradition, but then, what is life without a little fun.

The modest laughing and smiling that she gets is enough. He links his heavy arm through her much smaller one- yes, this is backwards, but he does not seem to care, as perhaps it is who that matters. Nobody is going to think twice about his mannerisms with a Dove on his arm, no matter which elbow is in front. Jorn nods with his chin towards the door.

"I have to be home before pumpkin hour."