Favourites

Title: Favourites
Time Period: August 13, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Algernon has been thinking of shaving.

By rights Algernon Fogg has no business ejecting people from homes that do not belong to him.

And yet.

One look at Flint and a gruff, "Get out," later, he has done just that.

His next look had been for Cruikshank. It was judgmental.

Two hours and a near empty bottle later, he is feeling more relaxed. He is also in Fletcher's bed, or on it — supine with his jacket open and the aforementioned bottle set against his side. Scotch, this time. His hat is — somewhere. He isn't worried about it for the moment. For once, appearances are among the least of his concerns.

"Fletcher," he says.

Not far away, Fletcher is seated, cross legged, claiming his own corner of the low-slung bed. But it's on a frame and everything. The scale and make of his belongings and home have improved since his first hovel here in Dornie, and there's more of a sense of clutter than actual filth, save for where he butchers small animals in a different room.

"Alllgernon," he says, not looking up. His rests his head heavy against a hand, elbow set against bended knee. As usual, he glitters and clicks with beads and adornments, some of which are aesthetic, others of purpose, but it's difficult to tell from sight.

Alllgernon doesn't answer immediately. There's a pause that insinuates profundity of thought. Complicated. Lost somewhere in his survey of the ceiling.

"I've been thinking of shaving."

His moustache, he must mean. It's been bothering him, lately.

Rather than elaborate, he reaches round the bottle set against his hip bone to draw the hatch of his pocket watch out and open. Takes him some time read the face. He is forty-something and the print is small. Also, he's inebriated.

"Fletcher," he says again.

"I've always thought it made you look distinguished."

The answer comes from a slightly thoughtless place, more preoccupied with studying the other man in front of him for reasons other than his moustache. Cruikshank didn't drink nearly enough of the scotch for all things to be even. And he'll have to figure how to explain all this to the werewolf if he gets back. He's a friend, he was sad, I think. Don't mind him.

Oh.

"You're not alright," he says, speaking a truth that has been in place, he thinks, for a little while now.

He is distinguished.

Agreement on that account lifts his brows and stiffs out his resolve to press on. Unfortunately, the long breath he'd drawn in to do just that washes out of him in a rush at what Cruikshank says next. Right again. The same hand he'd tended to his watch with hooks up after his face and falls aside again before it gets there. "I am functional," he posits, tracing at his bottle. Not actually an argument.

He could go on in two or three different directions and ultimately does not. Discomfited by the sudden and unexpected murder of his buzz.

Cruikshank doesn't often feel bad about saying things, but in this case, he considers it a moment— before deciding not to once again. It's an obvious deduction, really, and it doesn't seem any better to let it go observed and unspoken, not at this point. There's the faintest hint of a smile, feline in that it doesn't present as mirth. A hand comes up, scratches at his scalp to sweep a curtain of lank, dark hair away from his pointed face.

"Who is?" Alright. "So talk, then, you were saying?"

Fogg's ego is more delicate than it used to be. It is easy to stagger him when he's caught off his guard by the sort of merciless truth people of his upbringing are not used to hearing and he is not always quick to recover. Behind closed doors.

Out there tolerating coordinated strikes on his pride is simply another requirement kept up for the sake of maintaining functionality.

While he's here in Cruikshank's bed, prompting him doesn't work past reminding him that he's here for a reason. He just lies there.

It must be irritating.

Eventually he hunches over into a sit. Bottle following him. And glass. He tips another finger or so into the latter. Clink. Without spilling. "The leadership of this settlement," he says, finally, "has not been utilizing you to your full potential."

It might be irritating! Certainly, Cruikshank finds himself waiting longer than he intended. But there is some perverse pleasure to be had out of knocking Algernon off-balance to the point of a slow recovery, just because it's interesting, or different, and hopefully temporary so he isn't about to press the issue unnecessarily. He watches and waits a bit, before folding his knees against his chest in comfortable hunch, just as Algernon sits up himself.

His eyebrows go up. "Not really," he agrees, in a tone that suggests he doesn't resent this.

"In a society built upon squeezing every last drop of blood from subservient bone I can only imagine that the reason behind that lack of utilization is that they are not aware of what there is to utilize." Algernon's diction slows deliberately towards its end and rather than bolt down the shot he has just poured, he presses it into the hollow of his temple. Feeling the effects of his procrastination this deep into the bottle.

"You have lied to them out of selfishness, self-preservation or dislike. Regardless of your motivations your actions betray a healthy distrust of Messrs Rowntree, Owens and Ross." He isn't asking, Fletcher may notice more as he goes on. There are no question marks. There might have been if he hadn't tipped him off his high horse. Maybe. His glass pushes down into his cheek and then under his jaw, cool against the side of his neck while he surveys Cruikshank through the knobble of his knees.

"How do you feel about conspiracy."

The slight accusatory shape of these words has Fletcher straightening his posture some, but not enough that he flies into some sort of denial. None of this is false, after all. Long fingers rap against the back of his hand where he has both linked to contain the fold of his legs, and he darts a glance from Algernon to— off somewhere else in the room. Then back again.

This time, he doesn't really want to knock anyone off balance, so he doesn't blurt the first things that spring to mind.

So, he focuses on the thing that most resembles a question, and says, "There are quicker ways to get killed, certainly. I like secrets."

"Good enough," says Algernon. His options are limited.

The remainder of what he's poured is — probably unwisely — tipped back and he has to deal with that for a moment. Going nowhere fast.

"I will require a disturbance," he says, once he's spurred himself reluctantly back into speech. Risk weighs on the top of his lungs like an encyclopedia. Of all the things that could possibly go wrong. He's not looking at Fletcher anymore, either. Probably best for his confidence that he doesn't. "Something that may draw fire."

The bed creaks as Cruikshank levers himself off of it in the middle of this last sentence, moving across the room towards where a cluttered work area is shadowed off in the corner. It's messy with craft-type supplies, more mysterious vials, work tools such as knives and pliers, and he starts shuffling his fingers through it. Searching.

"Or someone'll that'll fire at the right disturbance."

It's a suggestion, as he hunts, not making his agreement explicit yet until he's sure Algernon has said his piece. Something is picked up, inspected, set aside.

"I will yield to your experience and leave the intricacies to your imagination," Fogg is quick to relent when Fletcher shows initiative, "provided I am afforded a window of opportunity in which I'm unlikely to be shot."

Even sans specifics, this is starting to sound dire. Likely moreso after he's fallen asleep and Forge has sought Shade in an aside.

Inside, he balances his empty glass upsidedown over the lip of his bottle and leans to set both on the floor. From there, it takes a solid effort to slant himself back up into a sit with so much open bedding to his back. Hair in his face, and then a hand. "You're under no obligation," he tells his own wrist.

Ah ha. Something is chosen, finally, although it is probably too short a notice for it to relate directly to what Algernon is asking for. "I make a point not to be," Cruikshank says, fingertips running over the small item. "But I'd be so upset if I didn't have you kicking out my housemates to drink at me for a good portion of the evening."

He turns back, and— hesitates, judging that Algernon is maybe not the best at catching right now, so he tosses the item to land on the bed just next to him. It is a ring, one seemingly made of wood or— ivory— no, bone, or more specifically, antler. It is large enough to slip over a finger, and has some shapes scratched into its curved, polish surface. If worn, it will conform comfortably to the wearer.

"Whatever it is you're planning to do, wear that instead've drink. It lends courage, but not bad judgment."

Loose hair is swept back into something more closely resembling its usual arrangement, Fogg turns the ring up into his palm. Measuring the width and the polish and the fit of it across the end of his middle finger without quite slipping it on. "I am already without fear and my judgment is flawless," he puffs at Fletcher (somewhat defensively) to the tune of Forge in the back of his mind like a thorn in his foot.

He physically winces before a passably believable, "All the same." And then further still a mild, "Thank you."

Even so. It takes him some time to thumb the thing definitively down past his second knuckle.

"In defense of my encroachment I've watched you drown yourself into a naked stupor more times than I care to think carefully about."

Pfft is approximately the response, there, but— not actually denial, Fletcher wandering back around to drop down on the edge of the bed. The ring, once fitted, sits almost warm and snug beneath Algernon's knuckle, a little tighter than when it was first slid on but only to fit, removeable with a tug. Once this is so, there is a feeling that knifes beneath the pleasant inebriation(?) that Algernon currently has going on; it does not sober him, necessarily, but clarity sort of crystallises and unblurs his surroundings.

Doubt, dread, uncertainty, should they or similar cousins be present, are all dimmed down without removing thought and knowledge of danger. It's maybe a little weird, but not to the point of feeling awfully invasive. It brings out what might have already been there, slotting it into focus.

"I wasn't being insincere," Fletcher defends, meanwhile, flippant.

There's a stutter in the ring's performance when the sensation registers and Algernon resists out of reflex, muscle clenched through his middle and eyes distant for the breath or so it takes him to relent into a state that's marginally more trusting. He's much quicker to wonder what else a ring like this might be used for, but that's precisely the sort of thinking that creates Rowntrees and Rosses (and Blackmoores) and he wilfully crushes it out to reach for Fletcher instead. Literally — reach for him. His knuckles, ring and all, bind into collar and lapel to pull the slighter man in close.

Closer than is companionable, probably. Like a puppy. Or stuffed animal. Breathing as much liquor as he is air.

"Fletcher," he says for the third time. "You are my favorite."

Oh, hello, obviously he should have put a ring on it a long time ago! That gets a flutter of a nervous laugh and not much in the way of resistance, personal space being historically unprecious. A long-fingered hand seals around Algernon's wrist even as Cruikshank leans his weight comfortably against the other man, a hand patpatting and resting on Algernon's back.

"Now see," he says, "that's what I call a sales pitch. None of this selfishness and conspiracy nonsense. You can even stay so as not to get run over by a horse on your way back."

A grunt will have to suffice in place of a 'that's nice of you.'

But he does let go, secure in himself such that there's no awkwardness about it. A bit of a push, maybe, after the pat. Let's not get too familiar.

Also he needs the room to shrug out of his coat. And vest.

Boots, holster. Tie.

He gives no indication that he intends to give over access to the bed to its rightful owner.

It isn't really the sort of residence that has but one sleeping place, and so Fletcher goes with the momentum from the bit of a push, levering himself up via hand planted to Algernon's shoulder. He is not sleepy, or nearly drunk to Algernon's degree to simply fold up somewhere and pass out.

Leaving things as they are, he simply drifts out into the main of the residence, and opens a window to permit a certain avian friend back in when she wishes for it. They should probably talk.

Algernon is snoring within minutes, prone and having made nice with a pillow in the absence of his familiar. He sleeps hard.

Not far overhead, Forge sits stiffly upright, eyes bright with reflected light and ears folded. Staring.

From the far side of the same shoddy rooftop, captured bat twisting leathery in his fingers, Flint stares back.