Eating Crow

Title: Eating Crow
Time Period: July 9, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: When your policy is never to apologize, it's a difficult meal to swallow.

Times like these are when Mariah used to go out drinking. A little overwhelming, a little frustrating and the perfect set of problems for alcohol to wash away. And it isn't that she's gone teetotal or anything drastic like that, but the idea of drinking away your problems has been at the core of her life lately, with having to watch over the newly widowed Sorcha.

So today she opts for the other thing she likes to do. Off near to the water, but away from the town she sits facing the water with a book in hand. Sure, it's the same book she's read over and over, and perhaps Hamlet isn't a terribly comforting story, but she reads it again all the same. Anyway, it's more about getting a moment's peace than being dazzled by a new tale.

A horse’s hooves sound on the road, heralding the approach of a rider; at a glance, it’s easy enough to recognize the tall man in shades of gray and blue upon the bay gelding, even from afar. It would be easy enough for Beisdean to pretend not to see Mariah. Perhaps he plans to.

But a raven suddenly swoops down to land beside Mariah, then turns into the more familiar form of the sable-and-gold-furred marten.

Iago begins to slow, and finally comes to a stop; Beisdean remains in the saddle but gives a nod of greeting. “Don’t have it memorized yet?” he says, though it’s a friendly enough tease; she knows he’s read it a hundred times, as well.

Mariah starts at first, when the bird lands next to her, but when he shifts, her lips spread into a smile and she reaches out to pet him a little. "Couldn't stay away, could you?" she says, to Darklight, although she likely means it for both. But for the familiar, she reaches into a pocket to pull out a handful of dried fruit. Likely, they were meant for her own familiar, but he'll live. She sets them down in front of him and gives him a little wink before she shifts to stand up.

She looks a little different, but mostly in how she dresses now, which could even be considered modest, but at the very least, understated. Summer leads to lighter dresses, but she looks very much like she's trying to pass for a not-prostitute. A little reluctant to look at him, she walks over to greet Iago with a rub over his muzzle.

"Enter tall, dark and handsome stranger. And Beisdean," she says with a tease on her tone, too, playful rather than spiteful, and she looks up at him with a soft, if nervous, smile. "Oh, you know, best to be sure you have every line perfect." There's a pause there as she looks him over, her lips pressed together like she's not entirely sure what to say next. Which is new for her.

His brows lift at the quip, and one hand goes to smooth his hair that’s just a bit too long now and in need of cutting. He’s too thin, still, and there’s a weariness beyond the brand that his usual insomnia brings.

“I know I’ve looked better, lass, but oy, be gentle,” he says back; there’s a fragility to the politeness, a palpable awkwardness that lies between them.
Gray-blue eyes flit away to the water, and then back to her. “You’re well, then? Some things’ve changed it seems. Not much, though.” There’s a touch of a cynical tone to that last.

"Don't be ridiculous, you know you're always just a little too handsome for anyone's good," Mariah says, even if there is a touch of worry in the gaze that drifts over him.

"I'm… well, yes. Overworked," she says with a chuckle even if it is only a joke to herself. The dryness of it translates all the same. "I had a bit of a career change." It was a little scandal while he was gone, but the town seems to have settled down about it now. Her hand comes to her hip at those last words. "I haven't been run out of town for being a witch, if that's what you mean. Disappointed?"

Those brows lift again at the words ‘career change,’ and if he’s about to comment on that, the desire is swept away by her next choice of phrases.

“Perhaps that’s because no one knows,” Beisdean says dryly, and shifts the reins in his hands as if getting ready to spur Iago into motion again. “Lucky you, to have that luxury.” Bitterness tinged with envy.

Come, Dubh, he tells the marten who is nibbling at fruit, and the creature shifts back into its avian form, taking to the sky.

Mariah reaches up to take hold of the reins herself, and her voice is a little more adamant when she speaks again. A little more honest, maybe.

"You can't ride away angry this time, please. Not until I've had a go at apologizing properly." She's clearly very good at it. "Will you stay? Just five minutes. I'm sure I can think of a way to say it right in five minutes. I have been soaking in the Bard." There's a pause there, brow furrowing slightly, "Although, I'm not sure how good he is with apologies, either."

There’s a jaw twitch as if he’s struggling to retort with something but finally he gives a quick nod. He’ll stay.

“Better with insults, generally, I think, that Shakespeare,” he says quietly. Perhaps they’ve read too much of him and there’s half the problem. He puts a hand on Iago’s neck when the horse hooves at the ground, irritable for having been made to rest so long. “Don’t,” Beisdean adds, to Mariah, “if it’s not meant.” The words aren’t unkind, no extra sharpness in them to imply she wouldn’t mean them.

Surprise pauses her for a moment, like she wasn't expecting he'd agree. But Mariah nods to his words, "Aren't we all. They're much easier. Less care involved." She takes a step back, hand letting go of the leather. "You think I would bother if I didn't mean it? It's all terribly embarrassing," she says, her hand moving to straighten her dress unnecessarily.

"The thing is, I didn't think about whether or not it would hurt someone, not to know. And I never meant to. To hurt you that way. Or, actually, any way, just… for clarity." Her attention turns toward the horse, petting him a little, too, likely to settle herself more than him. But it works both ways. "I was thoughtless and I'm sorry. I can't how long it would have been before I managed to tell you, but I have this feeling you would have been disappointed at the length of it. I'm still… figuring out how to actually be a decent friend. And I am hoping you'll be able to forgive the missteps."

It's possible she's been thinking about this while he's been gone.

As she speaks, he studies the water, his eyes narrowing slightly, though it doesn’t seem in anger — more in effort, concentration. “Maybe that’s why it bothered me. Because I was learning to be a friend with someone who knew what I was, who knows what I see. And because I didn’t tell people back in my other life what I was, and I knew how shallow, how fake those friendships were.”

He sighs and tosses his head to flip a lock of long hair out of his eyes, in order to bring his focus back to her. “Angry at myself for my hypocrisy, I guess. But I have to live with myself, after all, so it’s easier to cut out someone else, aye?”

The gaze at her is still too solemn for it to be friendly, really; instead it’s thoughtful, appraising. Her, their friendship, the truth of her words. “I suppose I owe you an apology as well.”

"It's never been fake, not for me. Not this," Mariah says with a gesture between the two. "I always thought it was different for me; your power is so threaded through your life everyday, in comparison, mine is like an itch. There, but easily ignored. But you're right about me not giving it enough credit, maybe."

She waves off his last words, head shaking. "Maybe we can consider our collective slate clean. Now, are you coming down here or do I have to come up there?"

He finally smiles; it’s not as easy of a thing as it once was, but he reaches out a hand to offer to pull her up into the saddle in front of him, an invitation to give her a ride home. “Well, that’s settled, and a good thing at that, because apparently I’m stuck in this town. It’d be tiring to start all over with trying to be friends with new people. Tedious work, that.” His lips quirk into a broader smile.

“C’mon, lass, Iago’ll welcome the company and it’s a fair ride to town.”

Taking the hand, Mariah climbs up into the saddle, sitting in a rather unladylike straddle rather than the more demure sidesaddle. But then, she wouldn't be fooling anyone here with that.

"Yes, and you'd be deprived of the most fascinating company in this town and that would truly be unbearable, I imagine." She turns enough to grin back at him, but after a moment, she leans back to press a kiss against his cheek. "I missed you, you know. No one else understands my literary humor." And that's the only reason. Surely.

He squeezes her around the waist before taking the reins more properly, nudging Iago into motion.

“Absence from those we love is self from self — a deadly banishment,” he quotes, as if to live up to his literary reputation. “As long as you don’t expect me to be too humorous myself, at least for a time. I’ll be sure to appreciate your wit while lacking my own.”

"You can be whatever you like," Mariah says with a glance over her shoulder. "Seems like it was a rough trip, aye? You look like you need a couple days worth of sleep." At least that time it doesn't come as a playful jab, but rather ill-concealed worry.

She pauses a moment before she looks back his way again, brow a little furrowed. "That's what I do, by the way. Part of what I do. Enchanting poor souls into a deep sleep. Rich souls, too." It's lighthearted, but her nervousness comes out in her expression. "I don't find use for it all very often. But I worry about how my clients— my old clients would react, if they found out. I don't fancy being accused of cheating them all or getting dragged to the militia for jailtime or whatnot."

His brows knit as he glances back her way; a fleeting look of contrition, perhaps. “Makes sense. I won’t tell a soul — rich or poor.” He lets Iago’s hooves fill the silence for a moment, then adds, “I suppose if I had a choice in the matter, I’d have kept my magic a secret all my life, too. I tried down South. So I can’t blame you, really, Larkie. And I won’t hold my jealousy against you.”

A few more strides of Iago’s long legs take them further down the road, before he adds with a smirk, “There’s better things to hold against you, after all.”

Perhaps his humor’s not been left in Liverpool after all.

And that bit of humor gets a laugh from the woman in front of him, half out of amusement, and at least some from relief. Apologies and forgiveness are one thing, good humor and pet names are another matter. "That is most definitely true. And I appreciate you keeping my secret. Maybe someday I can tell people, but maybe when there's been a bit of distance." Between her and her former job. "Where are you staying now? Back at the Albatross? Or are you settling back in a little more this time?"

Since Dornie seems intent on keeping him and all.

“Albatross for now. But I suppose I should figure out a place that’s not so much for nomads, hm?” he asks, a bit of a sigh escaping from his lips. “Maybe something more than being a mere guest and errand boy, if it’s to be my actual home,” Beisdean answers.

Uncertainty colors his voice, but he shakes it away with a grin in her direction. “Hold on,” he warns, giving her just enough time to tighten her grip on him and saddle before nudging Iago into a full run.