Title: If
Time Period: February 5, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: A night spent out. And in.

When Mariah grabbed Cas and dragged him off for a night out, she hadn't known which of the movies was playing. But she figured, it's a rare enough treat that any one of them would be an effective distraction from his current… troubles. And while Mamma Mia isn't her favorite by far, at least it hadn't ended up being the one with subtitles.

She can bring him along to see her favorite another day. When this is all over. And he's still alive. That's the idea, anyway.

Through the movie, she tried to hide both her moments of disappointment in the film as well as that one particular moment that makes her think of her mother far too much. She's generally in the back for that. And freer with how Slipping Through My Fingers tugs at her heartstrings. She may have had to wipe away a tear or two.

When the movie's over and others who were watching with them filter away from the sheet and projector, Mariah keeps her fingers laced with his, even as the others throw a variety of looks their way. She doesn't stand to go herself, but turns toward him to gauge his reaction.

From the way he stared at the screen with wide eyes and an impressed look on his face, it's possible Cas hasn't seen many movies, much less the ones that the town has. The singing surprised him, and made a smile appear on his face, but no tears streamed down his cheeks. A few times he opened his mouth as if he wished to comment on something, but then realized that talking wasn't allowed.

Once they've left, though, talking is again an option. Clasping her hand, he doesn't seem to think about who may see them as they walk out together. Nor does he seem to be thinking about the things that have plagued his mind rather heavily. Easy to forget it in the colorful land of romantic-comedy musicals.

"I wonder how it would be to live in a place like that! Do you think people still dress all… colorful there?" he asks with a grin, fingering his scarf. His colorful scarf.

"Oh, I wouldn't be surprised if they did. Bright sun, warm ocean water, makes me wish it weren't winter," Mariah says with a broad smile. Not that Dornie is ever very warm even in summer. But a girl can dream.

She steps a little closer to him, tucking herself against his side. "So you liked it? It's a bit fun, isn't it?" She's seen them all enough to take their presence fully for granted. "Although, I am a bit glad Dornie doesn't break out into song often. Only 'round the pub, ey?" Her smile turns crooked there, teasing.

"Oh, yes, yes I did— Like it. I don't get to see picture shows very often!" Cas admits with a smile that dimples his cheek, reaching to touch her arm where she holds onto his. He really isn't thinking too much about public displays. Not right now.

"We did have a couple, in the last town I lived in. It was a… drawing one. Instead of a real people one." Some words get lost in time, or maybe he just doesn't remember the words. "It had singing too, but it was full of talking fish and crabs and mermaids." And from his fond smile, he rather enjoyed it.

Wrapped up in memory he doesn't even think before he adds, "It was Isadora's favorite. She made me go even if we couldn't go together." The words actually finish at almost a whisper as if he realizes mid-sentance what he's talking about. He grimaces and works his mouth for a moment, but is saved stuttering by a stroke of bad luck. In the form of tripping over his own feet and stumbling a few steps. Clumsyness seems to be a common feature for him these days— moreso than normal. He's sported more bruises and scraps under his clothes than ever before.

It sobers her expression some, when he brings up the her of his past, but a soft smile remains all the same. Her hand is just coming up to touch his cheek when he trips, and it moves instead to help steady him. "Careful there," she says softly, making sure he's steady before her hand moves to his arm instead.

"It's alright, you know," she says, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze. "She's a part of your life, it's alright if you'd like to talk about her. Even if it may leave me with a ping of jealousy," she says the last with a crooked smile that makes it a bit difficult to tell if she's serious or joking. But at least the rest is sincere.

"What— jealous?" Cas says with a jerk of surprise, obviously not expecting such a statement, serious or joking. Not from her. "I— you don't have… anything to be… jealous of," he states in a manner that seems to stuble over his words as much as he did his feet. "I mean I…" he trails off, deciding to not try anymore.

"So, hn, do you think that the kids made the right choice? About travelling rather than… getting married?"

Mariah's lips curve into a gentle smile at one corner of her lips as he stumbles along in his reply. She doesn't really have a comeback, beyond a sort of soft look in his direction before she shifts to slide her arm around his waist, instead of holding his hand.

"I think so," she says easily. "It isn't a bad idea to experience a bit of life before making a decision like that. And I, personally, believe a person should be… certain. Before they get married." She glances in another direction there, for a moment before she swings her attention back his way. "What do you think?"

"Well— marriage always… I was supposed to get married when I was fifteen. That's why I ran away," Cas says, scratching at his stubbly chin a little. "So I guess I would have chosen the same, though I never even got to meet the girl— I don't think my father picked yet, even." He hesitates and glances away from her as he lets his mind wander off.

"I like that they still had a wedding, though! Her ma deserved to have happiness."

"I recall that was something of a tradition in your hometown, aye? I'm not generally one to judge, considering, but it seems… young." Mariah looks over at him when he looks away, her head tilting some.

When he speaks again, she straightens up again and chuckles softly. "I agree. It was lovely how it all worked out, in the end." It's hard to say if she's as taken by the idea of a romantic comedy as other women might tend to be, though. There's a pause before she looks back his way again. "You know, I have something for you, if you're… in the mood for the walk to the Dovetail."

"My family at least, yeah," Cas says quietly, still scratching at his stubble, not seeming to notice that she's not as enthusiastic about it as he might be. But she draws his attention rather quickly at the mention of something for him, and then Dovetail.

"A surprise? For me? At the… a'right." From his smile, he's thinking of all the other things they could do there, besides get presents. And looking embarssed after a few seconds. "I— uh— I wish I had something to give you."

And his smile brings hers out as well, especially considering their time at that particular house hasn't been terribly innocent in some time. But when he looks embarrassed, she shakes her head and takes his hand again as she shifts their path. "Not at all," she says with a crooked smile. But as they take those first steps toward the edge of town, she tilts her head to look at him, "Worry about that some other night." Which is to say, she knows he's going to worry about it whether she wants him to or not.

"It isn't anything too… awe inspiring at any rate. But, it is a good excuse to get you out that way again, aye?" She says, her smiles widening into a teasing grin.

There's a nibbling on his lower lip for a few steps, as if he's not doing a very good job of worrying about it later. In fact… "That actually reminds me," Cas says after a moment, looking toward her. "If— if something does happen to me…" he's avoided saying this around her since their conversation before, when he had to tell her about what he saw. What he thought he saw. Even if he'd thought about it for a while now.

"Not that— I want it to or anything, I don't, but if it does… I think you should have everything I own. It's not that much, but— it's not like I can send it to my family or anything, and you're the,,, closest thing I have to one." His laugh is sheepish and a little forced. "I'd rather you get it than one of the other stable hands."

Mariah's smile fades with the shift in topic and she looks off to the side for a moment before she looks back to him. Her hands lift to touch his face and her thumbs brush against his cheeks; there's a brief pause before she steps into him to press a kiss against his lips. It's a bit more intense than usual, driven, even.

When she pulls back, it isn't very far, and she leans her forehead against his as her hands drop to his shoulders. "I'd take good care of it," is what she ends up saying before she straightens some and manages a slight, crooked smile. "But it'll end up a moot point, aye? You'll be alright." Up ahead, the golden, furry shape of Masque's more canine form can be seen suddenly. Perhaps adding his presence as a bit of a comfort as well. Although, to which of them is hard to say.

"It's really not that much, I just… don't want it to sit under my bunk collecting dust or getting eaten by moths," Cas says, closing his eyes as she leans in close to him, too obvious in his attempts to downplay the gesture. "But yes, yes, it will not be needed. Definitely," he adds in a louder voice, trying to hide his emotion as she pulls back, and he spots Masque.

"Hey pal," he says with a grin, as he pulls away from the familiar's master so he can rub hands over his face and take in deep breaths. Everything's all right! "Gonna walk us back to the Dovetail? Mariah says she has a present for me— but I'm guessing you won't tell me what it is, either," he jokes. As if he could understand the magical being.

Mariah presses her lips together as she watches him trying to make like everything's fine, looking a bit uncertain herself. But his attention turning to the familiar is a useful enough distraction for her to hide her emotions in, too.

Masque trots over, and Mariah leans down enough to scritch him behind an ear, which is significantly easier to do when he's a dog than when he's a badger. But the familiar's gaze falls to Cas, who gets a bark before the dog circles around his legs and points the trio in the general direction of the Dovetail. And when he starts to walk, Mariah comes to slip her arm through Cas' before she moves to follow. "He's sworn to secrecy on all gifts. No use trying to get it out of either of us. We're quite stubborn, you know."

"It's good for you that I like surprises," Cas says with a smile, putting a hand on the arm holding his in a gentle gesture as they walk toward the Dovetail with familiar escourt. As he takes the first few steps he tilts his head to the side and looks up. "Well, except scary surprises. I can do without those. I've had enough of those this month already." The initial death omen, finding out about the death omen, and all the various unnamed accidents he's been having.

Though he's always tried to downplay them when she notices the various scrapes and bruises he sports.

"But you wouldn't give me a scary surprise. And neither would Masque, I'm sure. He already did his scary surprise once. And I haven't done anything to deserve another!" But as soon as the words are out, he pauses, mouth open. "Have I?"

At that question, both familiar and mage look his way, with far too similar expressions. It's just a brief pause before Masque huffs out a bit and Mariah gets a crooked, amused smile on her face. "The opposite, I dare say," she says, and there's a nod toward the dog, "He agrees. And says you're very silly for asking."

She looks forward again, to actually watch where they're going as she continues, "Plus, I like to think I specialize in pleasant surprises. I'm afraid I don't do scary very well at all. Masque is better at that part." Even if, just now, he's lopping down the road, his demeanor more playful than anything.

"Good thing you don't mind my silliness, then," Cas says, shifting the hand from her arm to scratch at the stubble again. He's gotten used to being clean shaven with her, but having stubble or a beard gives him something to fidget with! If nothing else.

Despite his silliness of before, he doesn't talk too much as they continue on, not even thinking about anyone seeing them together. He's stopped worrying about it, really. If his boss hasn't heard by now than he's not listening to the rumor mill.

Only when they reach the Dovetail does he break away from her grasp. To open the door for her.

"No, I don't mind it," Mariah says, perhaps with a bit more sentiment than she intended, which probably contributes to her continuing their walk in relative silence. The further from the town they get, the more vigilante Masque seems to become as far as playing the look out. Once they get in sight of the Dovetail, though, he slips off, still not making himself an obvious companion to Mariah. He seems not to mind so much being seen as one for Cas, though.

She can't help a smile when he opens the door for her, and as she passes through, she takes his hand to tug him along as well. The other girls that are about watch as they head to her room, but at least they save their chittering until after they've passed. But, behind her closed door, she smiles crookedly over at him and gestures toward the room in general. "Go on and make yourself comfortable. Do you want anything? Food or… anything?" She asks as she moves to hang her coat in her wardrobe.

"I rarely turn down food when it's offered," Cas says with a grin, taking off his coat which has more than a few rough patches and setting it across the back of a chair that he sits on, so that he can remove his boots. Also worn, they are simple and broken in, and the absense of even dry horse manure shows they are his town boots, rather than his work boots. Not that he has more than three pairs to his name.

"Masque must really like my company," he says, gesturing toward the outside wall as he looks at her. "Everytime I turn around I seem to see him, lately. A lot of times he even comes over, but— he's often around. Even when I'm working. I was almost tempted to ask him if he would turn into a horse so he'd blend into the herd better." The last is said with a teasing sound. He did consider it. But he never worked up the nerve to. Except with her.

Mariah pulls out a plate, pulling off its cloth covering to reveal pastries underneath, which she comes to set down on a nearby table. "Oh. Is he?" She asks, innocently. "Well, what's not to like?" Her smile's a bit easier there, and she slides up onto the table next to the plate rather than getting a chair of her own.

"You don't mind, do you?" By her expression, she hopes not, but seems a little worried all the same. "I would suggest it to him, but I don't want anyone thinking he belongs to the Rowntrees, ey?" She says with a teasing, crooked smile.

"Oh nibbles," Cas says quietly, dropping his boots heavily on the floor and abandoning them to get closer to the plate and the pastries, already grabbing one before he even sits himself down on the chair while she props herself up on the table in front of him. "You know, I hadn't even thought of that," he adds after the first bite is down his throat. "We wouldn't want that— someone might try to buy him, or saddle him, or…" he trails off.

There's other things Rowntree uses the horses for than riding. He doesn't like to think about that, even if he understands. He often asks the kitchen to make sure he's not eating horse meat, though.

"No, no, I don't mind. I just noticed it lately. Makes me wonder if he was following me around before! When I didn't know about him. Maybe he's making sure I'm not some scoundrel or something…"

"I can't imagine he'd react well to being saddled— or, well, any of that, really." Mariah reaches over to play with his hair a bit absent-mindedly, but warmly. "I'm glad you don't mind."

When he makes his guess, she chuckles softly, shaking her head. She lifts an eyebrow playfully as she looks over at him, "Have you been doing something that would make him think you a rogue, Cas?"

"You mean besides you?" Cas says with about the most innocence me can muster with a lopsided dimpled grin across his face. "Been trying to be on the up and up lately," he says with his hands raised in more innocence than his words had been. At the very least he isn't sleeping with his bosses daughter or stealing horses lately.

Speaking of roguish with her, though, his innocent gesture seems to settle with one hand resting against her ankle. The benifit of her sitting on the table seems to be access to such an ankle. If nothing else. His other hand keeps a hold of his pastry, which he takes another grinning bite of.

Mariah blinks at first, but her expression breaks into a grin and a laugh a moment later. A hand runs through her hair before sweeping over to one side. "Fair enough," she says, and when his hand rests on her ankle, she moves to set her foot on his chair next to his leg. "But I don't think he disapproves of you, even so."

Perhaps as a method of changing the subject before the familiar's actual purpose comes out, or maybe because she just likes giving him gifts, she reaches over to slide open the drawer under the lip of the table to pull out a brown paper package. Instead of giving it to him, though, she sets it beside the plate as well. "Whenever you'd like to open it."

"I think he would have chewed my face off if he disapproved," Cas says with a soft grin, paying a little too much attention to her ankle for the moment. Even if he thinks the badger could have at least nibbled on his face, he doesn't seem to think the threat was too serious, from the offhanded way he said it.

It's the present that attracts his attention away from her ankle. The rest of the pastry is shoved into his mouth and chewed, while he wipes his fingers off on his shirt. The hand on her ankle doesn't move, untl he realizes it's going to be difficult to open with one hand.

"Better do it now before I get distracted," he says. And from the mournful way he removes his hand from her, she's very good at distracting him. His eyes brighten as the thought of the gift, though, as he unwraps it.

"He knows he's not allowed to go for the face. An arm, maybe. Toes," Mariah says, seeming equally lacking in seriousness. She chuckles at his reluctance, but her smile is both amused and reassuring. "Well, I'm not going anywhere." So his hands are forgive their momentary absence.

The gift, as it turns out, happens to be clothes. Nothing fancy this time around, but rather a shirt and pants suitable for everyday. Or perhaps her idea of what work clothes should look like. They're sturdy enough to be, at least. "I seem to recall your shirt was in rough condition last time," what with the blood and all, "And I just know you won't get rid of it until it's all but threadbare, but I hope you'll find them a suitable replacement." Why there are pants as well is anyone's guess.

From his face, the toes might be as bad as the face. He has to walk on those! But the present is too much of a distraction. Of all the things Cas might have expected, clothes weren't one of them. Though they are likely the thing he needs the most of. He runs his hands over it, smiling faintly.

"It's been a while since I owned clothes with no holes in them, or, well, patches. Besides what I got for the New Years Ball, but— Constance actually gifted those to me, so that doesn't count." And except for the shirt he can't really wear them anywhere else.

And he hasn't worn them since, either. Emergency trading fund they happen to be in right now.

"Thank you," he says genuinely, leaning up from his chair to press slightly pastried lips against hers.

"Well, now you have some to wear new holes in," Mariah says, trying to downplay it some with a wave of her hand. But his reaction has her smiling anyway. She leans over to meet him for that kiss, not minding the crumbs enough to pull away. And in fact, she draws it out a bit.

"You're welcome. I'm pretty sure I have them sized right." She's seen him without clothes on enough to have a good guess at it, anyway. Her fingers move to brush his cheek, her smile softening as she looks over at him.

Not to mention the times she's indulged his desire to be dressed by her. Cas smiles at the kiss, and her words, leaning back in to continue it after she speaks for a few long moments. Only when he pulls back does he remember to wipe some of the crumbs off his mouth. And by then they're mostly gone anyway.

"I'm sure they'll fit fine," he adds, as his hands find their way to her legs once again, moving to stand up in front of her. He may even be about to pick her up, from the way he shifts her closer to him, onto the edge of the table. "Now we'll just have to do something about the clothes I'm currently wearing," he says with a bold tease.

And since he didn't make a fuss about the present, as he promised he wouldn't during a conversation a while back, she shouldn't be surprised that he'll slip her a few of his labor strips come morning.

A sigh escapes her when he leans in to kiss her again, and by the time he stands up, Mariah's cheeks are flushed and her heart beats faster. It isn't something the happens to her often, not with her other customers anyway.

Her eyes are slow to open, especially when his hands find her legs and pull her closer. But at his words, she looks up at him with a sly smile of her own. "I might have a few ideas there," she says in a low whisper as her hands find their way under the shirt he has on. She'll get around to getting it off, but not before she takes a moment to savor. Which she seems to often, regardless of scars and scrapes.

Maybe someday she'll gather the courage to ask him not to pay at all, considering.