Title: Flatmates
Time Period: May 30, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Just like any other set of flatmates. Really.

It's not always easy to sneak out when one has a bum leg, but somehow Cas Blackburn managed it in the very early hours of morning. Even after many distractions and the need to get lulled into sleep by a magical sleep aid, he still, somehow, managed to get out of the small bed, get dressed, grab his walking stick, and sneak out the door and down the stairs, after borrowing the key to get back in.

The sun's starting to appear through the window when sounds can be heard at the door again.

From the sounds, whoever is trying to get in is trying to be quiet about it. Cas hopes she managed to sleep through his whole sneaking out— though he hadn't realized it would take him til the sun came up, either. The door cracks open and he begins to limp in, walking stick free— because his hand is full of a basket. One he borrowed from her, actually.

When the door opens, the little apartment is still dark, but it becomes quickly evident that Mariah did not sleep through the entire absence. Although, by the way her hair is still mussed from sleep, how her robe is only loosely tied and how the bed through the little door is unmade, she must not have woken up too long ago. A mix of trying to shift her sleep schedule and the presence of a much emptier bed than she expected probably had a hand in it. The sunlight didn't help, though.

Currently, she stands in front of the stove and from the smell, she must be making coffee. But she turns just enough to look at him at the door over her shoulder, an eyebrow raised. It's hard to say if she's upset, or just groggy for it being so early. But it's one or the other.

After a whole step inside, Cas freezes at the smell of the coffee and the sight of the empty bed— the mussed hair and the robe— "You're awake," he says outloud in his soft accent, grimacing a little as he pushes the door closed and locks it behind him. "That— didn't exactly go as planned," he says outloud.

But it doesn't seem to get him down too much, as he smiles at her brightly, stepping further. The limp seems only a little worse without the stick, but doesn't seem to cause him as much pain, if that says anything.

"I— uh— kind of— went to— " he motions around as if he's having a hard time saying whatever he may have planned to say— he must not have thought he would have to say anything. "Here," is what he ends up with, holding out the basket.

Inside there's several tied handkerchiefs with small bundles… berries he edible wild berries he spent all morning collecting— his trousers have dirt stains, and dirt on his hands as well and even a smear on his cheek. His sleeves are still rolled up, and the shirt itself looks to have survived the various encounters.

Next to the handkerchief bundles is a rum bottle, empty of the brew, but filled with wild flowers of various colors. Yellows, blues, purples, whites… The bottle's chipped, but washed out, as if he found it on the side of the street after someone's drunken night out.

Even with it held out toward her, Mariah doesn't take it off his hands right away, but instead looks from his face to the offering and back to his face again, brow furrowing for the brief moments before it all processes.

"You picked me flowers." She's very observant this morning. But it's alright, because a smile soon follows and she takes it all from him to set down next to the stove. Her first order of business is to lean over and pull him into a kiss, sleepy though it may be. "And I was all prepared to be irritated," she adds, her smile tilting crooked. It might be a joke. Whether or not it's true.

But the second order of business is to pick up the makeshift vase. The room is no better put together than it was the night before, but she glances around for a moment or two before she slips into the bedroom again. At least there's furniture in there.

"Not too irritated I hope," Cas says outloud after the kiss breaks, eyes still closed for a moment. In fact she's already away from him by the time he finds his words, and when he opens his eyes he limps after toward the bedroom area, still holding his burden.

"I didn't mean to be gone that long, I was hoping to make it back before you… woke up. I borrowed your key," he adds, holding it up in his other hand, the one not attached to a basket.

"Not so irritated some flowers couldn't right it," Mariah says, and that's a much clearer tease, as she sets it down on the little table she has sitting under her window. The choice leaves the flowers blocking her mirror, but turns toward him with a smile all the same.

"That's alright. You're allowed to," she says as she comes back over, not to take the key, but to put her hands on his face as she kisses him this time. "Good morning," is murmured against his lips before she leans back a little further to nod toward the bed. "You really should sit."

It comes with a little more concern.

"Flowers and wild strawberries," Cas says with a grin, since she never unbundled the berries he'd spent so much time on his knees collecting. "And blueberries and raspberries too, but I found a good patch of strawberries that the birds hadn't gotten yet," he says, laying the basket down beside the bed, and the key she didn't take from him too.

Maybe he doesn't feel like he's really allowed to, yet.

"I'm a little dirty," he looks down at his trousers, and his shoes, then toward the bed. Which doesn't have dirt on it yet. But may if he sits down. "I should clean up first," he adds, holding up his hands as well. He dusted them off, but that didn't get everything.

There's a second glance at the basket and then at him as he explains what else it is he brought, and she follows along to peek into one of those handkerchiefs. And when she looks back up to him, her smiles a bit wider; she reaches up to take his hand to help her straighten again, the other carrying some of those strawberries with her.

"If you like. I don't mind a little dirt." But she steps over to push her dressing screen a little to the side, revealing where she's shoved a much less fine tub and wash basin. The set up's all squished in comparison to her room at the Dovetail, but she's determined to fit it all in somehow. "It's not…" Whatever she was going to say, she stops and edits herself a bit, shoving away a bit of an embarrassed look with a better smile. "It isn't the same, exactly, but it'll do."

"They'll all have to be washed, obviously— but I learned what berries are good to eat, so I know those are okay," Cas says, gesturing towards them as he follows behind her, where the washing up will likely happen. Somewhere during his limping he slipped off those shoes and has begun to undo his trousers to take them off as well.

"It's more than I got," he says honestly, with a grin at the basin. "I wash up in the same place I wash the horses." Or more often, he washed up with her. But when he couldn't, those were his main choices. Not to mention using the same soap, which no one would consider the nicest. "Do you mind?" he asks, as he moves to sneak some of the water from the wash basin for his hands.

"Well, a tub is a pretty decent place to wash up clothes. I keep thinking I should keep some extras here for you, but then I remember how much I like the view," Mariah says with a playful smile as he walks by. "Just toss them that direction, we'll get to them. Once I've had coffee. And some of these strawberries."

She comes to lean against the wall next to the basin, getting out of the way as he moves for the water. "Do I mind, what? That you wash up where the horses do? Or that you wash up here? Because I don't particularly mind either one."

"I never felt right asking before, but— can I? Bring some clothes here," Cas says, as he drops the trousers on the edge of the tub. Likely he wasn't planning to wash them at all. He could sit around without them on for a while and clean them up when he gets back to the stables.

And he doesn't dare unbutton his shirt until he gets his hands wet and scrub the dirt off. Cleaning his shirt is more difficult.

"I don't really have a lot of changes of clothes, but keeping a couple here seems to be… uh… a good idea. If you don't mind me leaving a few things here, at least."

"Cas," Mariah says, sounding both amused and endeared as she tips her head and looks over at him, "You can leave whatever you like here." By her tone, she must have assumed that was a given. "And you're free to… stay. You know. Whenever you like. No caveats this time," she adds, her smile turning a bit sheepish.

She steps away then, as if not sure she wants to watch his reaction. Or giving him a chance to have a more honest one with her not looking right at him. So she moves just far enough to set the berries down with the others, since it may be better to wash them all at once anyway.

As she steps away, Cas' eyes follow her, head tilting to the side for a moment as his brow furrows. It's almost as if he's trying to figure out how to take what she just said. Or as if he's not entirely sure he heard what he thinks he heard. With his hands cleaned off, he dries them and leaves his shirt on. With just that on, it seems almost too big for him. Even with the sleeves rolled up, it hangs lower than it likely should when it's not tucked in.

The hands may be clean, but he's missed the smear of dirt on his cheek.

"So… if I have something to do in town, I can come here instead of sleeping in the stable, or— " He hesitates. "Or I could stay more often. I… wouldn't want you to get lonely, and it's not a long walk. It's shorter than walking to and from the Dovetail, actually."

"I do hate being lonely," Mariah says as she turns back to look his way. The smear left over has her pressing her lips together for a moment, but it's not too good a dam against the smile that follows. "But if you're in town. Or if you'd rather share a bed than sleep in a cot. Or if you'd just like to… stay here."

When she steps back over, she moves close enough to clean off his cheek herself. She could just tell him its there, but it doesn't seem to have occurred to her. More likely, she thought of it and dismissed it, but semantics. "There's also something I should probably tell you."

Whether she purposefully picked a moment when he's not quite dressed or not, that's left a mystery. "Before it comes out in some unpredictable, almost comical fashion before I get a chance."

"You know I never feel comfortable leaving my stuff in the stables— I don't even have a box to lock my horse-fund in," Cas admits, softly, as he looks towards her lock boxes. He has ways of stashing his things away so that they aren't just sitting in a bag under a cot, but that doesn't mean someone won't one day find them and run off with it.

At first, he seems mildly concerned with her preface to a confession, but it doesn't really fill in well before she continues to talk about it. "Uh— okay?" he says, looking confused.

Could be he's having a hard time thinking of what could come out in such a way that she would need to tell him. Especially as he's at her mercy while she cleans off his face and stands around in his underpants and a shirt.

"Then bring it here. I believe I can make room in their for your fund." Even when his cheek is clean, she lingers there, thumb rubbing softly over his skin. "I'll be sure to get you a key." Her hand drops then, moving instead to rest on his arm.

"It's just Casper. I figured you didn't mention it because you just didn't think of it or else because it's one of those secrets you still have and either way, you don't have to explain or confirm or… deny. Or anything. But I thought I better say that I heard it. Is all." And while it's a bit rambling, there at the end she looks up to his face to smile again, a bit nervous, but that's not just from telling him she knows his name.

"And anyway, you're always Cas to me."

Under the nicer fabric of his shirt, Casper's muscles tense up as soon as she says the word. He'd been smiling so cheesily at the idea of leaving things here and having his own key, that perhaps he hadn't been prepared for his secret to be stated so bluntly. And then rambled about.

"What— how? I haven't told anyone here my name— no one should— it— did I ramble in my sleep or something?" He doesn't think to accuse magic. Magic may be more common here than he'd been used to, but it doesn't mean he thinks of it as the source.

"It was… a slip of the tongue. I hope you won't be angry at her, she was sort of in the middle of— something. But Aislinn said it out and it wasn't on purpose, but she was having a bit of a bad morning, that… particular morning." Mariah isn't sure anyone's explained the lengths the woman went to to help, and a second blunt drop may not be an entirely good idea just now.

"And like I said, you don't have to go into it," she notes, her hand running over those tense muscles, "and I won't mention it again, if you don't want… I— Should I not have brought it up at all?"

"Oh," Cas says quietly, though he does start to move away a bit even as she rubs his arms. Wandering is probably a better word for it, even if he's limping. His leg no longer needs bandages, and the limp is likely only worse than it was last night from all the bending down and sitting on his knees to pick.

Dropping onto the bed, he rubs now clean fingers through his hair. "It's not really a … big deal, I just never liked me name. I liked Cas better. Easier to say and… when I left home I could just pretend, you know?" He laughs a bit, as if that's funny. "It's okay, about Aislinn, I mean. She helped save me, right? Name would be silly to be mad over."

It's Mariah's turn to watch him as he walks to the bed, and she doesn't quite move to join him, but steps out into view, at least. "Cas suits you better," she says with a slight smile. Testing the waters, despite his laughter.

"She did, at that," she says, nodding softly. It's clear that she's grateful, but something about it all has her crossing her arms. Just for a moment or two before she shakes it off and calls up a warmer smile. "Anyway… So what do you think? Staying here and all. Otherwise you'll just have to put up with me asking you all the time."

"My sister used to say it was silly to keep going by my 'kid name'," Cas admits, quietly, as he watches her standing there with something that's not quite understood. Probably for the best. At her warmer smile, though, he grins and reaches his hands up to her, offering them out.

Without any gloves or long sleeves, the scarring on his left wrist is more visible for a moment— but she's one of the few he forgets to hide that around.

"I— " for a moment he sounds as if he's hesitating, then he suddenly decides, with a firm nod, "Yes. I— will this be an all the time, thing— cause I wonder if I'll get paid more if I don't have to sleep in the stables."

Mariah steps over to take his hands, his words bringing out a laugh of her own. "Oh, I like that," she playfully protests at the end, but when her hands move to her hips, they drag his along, too. It ruins any pretense of actual disapproval.

"It's an all the time thing if you'd like it to be," she says, her voice quieter there, more sincere than moments ago, "I'd like it to be." It breaks, though, with a crooked smile as she leans over to touch her forehead to his. "I've gotten used to having you around."

It's probably a good thing she doesn't drag out the playful protesting, cause Cas looked genuinely worried there for a whole second. It doesn't last when his hands meet her hips and she grows more serious— it fades into relief, even as he pulls her body a little bit closer.

In fact, he's pulling her down into his lap and into a hug.

A hug that somehow seems more intimate for a moment than a kiss, much like the forehead touch she did.

After a few moments, he says, "So that would make us flatmates. I promise not to leave dirty clothes everywhere."

It isn't hard to get her to come closer, or to sit in his lap as much as she positions herself so she doesn't upset his leg. Her arms wrap around him and she lays her head on his shoulder, letting her eyes close. Indulgence. Just a little.

"Just almost everywhere, aye?" She says as she straightens enough to look at him, although only one arm untangles from around him. It takes his hand, lifting it so she can press a very un-flatmate-like kiss to his palm. Her fingers slide down the back of his hand, moving to trace the lines of that scar.

"Will it entirely ruin the moment if I ask how you ended up with this?"

"I don't think I have enough clothes to leave everywhere," Cas says as his own punchline to his statement, even if his smile fades at her fingers drawing attention to the scar, and the question actually stated. "I'm gonna run out of secrets," he says quietly, even laughing a little.

But he doesn't try to take his wrist away, either.

"It's kind of a long story, but— when I first ran away I didn't really have much— and I— I got caught… uh— stealing." He hesitates and looks at her cautiously as he admits that. "And the farmer tied me up and… I managed to get out, but the rope dug pretty deep and it took a long time to heal and… scarred." Though his voice is shaky and even serious, he tries to lighten it with a joke. "The farmer wasn't as good at tying up people as the hobs."

Mariah looks a little apologetic at his laugh, even through the little smile she gets in return. For once, though, she doesn't make comment on the desirability of mystery. And her touch doesn't leave that scar, even as he starts to explain.

Her smile fades, though, replaced with a gentle furrow of the brow and a frown dipping the corners of her lips downward. "I'm glad he wasn't very good," she says, eventually, and she lifts his hand again, but this time she kisses the scar instead. "I'm sorry you had to go through that. Things won't be that hard again," she says, as if she could somehow promise such a thing. One thing's for sure, she doesn't seem to have much judgment for the stealing.

"Me too," Cas says quietly, but in a way that shows he really, really means it. There may be no way of knowing how things could have gone differently, but he doesn't want to think too much about it, either.

"So we should… probably have breakfast. We can make our oatmeal taste better with fresh fruits," he offers with a grin. "Though don't expect fresh fruits every morning— just every morning I can find some." Cause he likes fruit in his oatmeal.

"Right. Breakfast." She might have gotten a bit distracted. "Coffee." Priorities. Mariah returns his grin as she starts to stand up. "I think I can accept fresh fruit only some mornings. But only because it's you. I'd toss anyone else right out," she says, her hand keeping hold of his as she takes a few steps back toward the other room.

"One of these days, we may have to actually find a table. If we're going to be eating breakfast like civilized people." A blanket will just have to serve for now, though.