Title: Insecure
Time Period: March 19, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Most times, that's exactly what Cas is. Luckily, the lady finds it endearing.

Mariah has a strict policy when her clients are significantly late. And that is, of course, that she leaves a message that they're welcome to come another night with the girls downstairs and takes someone else at the last moment.

But things are a little different this time.

There's no message waiting for Cas when he arrives, and no locked door to indicate someone else is there. No, everything seems normal, despite the hour. Except that Mariah isn't dressed for this sort of company. Or any company, really. She sits on her couch, in a warm robe instead of the more suggestive one she normally wears, with wet hair resting around her shoulders and the soft, floral scent she likes to use in the bath, there's a book in hand and a tray of little cakes sitting next to her on a small table.

On the table they tend to use for food is a still-chilling bottle of wine, very gentle wine, since Cas isn't a drinker, and a pair of taper candles burning themselves pretty low by now. Of course, she has a better light near her that cuts the intended romantic atmosphere. It's hard to say if she's upset, exactly, but mostly because she's never had reason to be upset over a late client before now.

She's not entirely sure how to react, in this case. She'll decide later.

Anyone who happened to spot him coming into the Dovetail at such a late hour earned a sheepish, but also pained smile. Times like this Cas wishes the stables were closer to the town, cause he's still wearing clothes that have certainly seen better days. At least they weren't the clothes that she'd aquired for him a month ago.

He wouldn't have climbed trees in those.

A rough bag rests in an arm as he knocks gently and opens the door. It was such a gentle knock, as if he were afraid to wake her. And from the way he peeks inside, toward the bed first, he is relieved that there's signs of… no one except her. At least.

The bundle in his arm looks awkward, with something long and pointy and dirty sticking out of the top, and the lumps indicate it has a few things not pointy stuffed inside. Apples. He'd gone back for them.

"'ey," he says quietly, before stepping inside. Or more accurately limping. He's walked off the worst of it, there's some hint of it in the way he shifts his legs. And if the limp alone weren't enough, a scrape on his forehead stands out, scabbed over, cleaned off, but there. And a dust and dirt clings to his clothes. And even a missed piece of leaf. "Uh— sorry I'm late."

He has a good excuse?

At the knock, Mariah lowers her book to look that way. And when it is, in fact, Cas that opens the door, she lets out a sigh that manages to be both relieved and disappointed. But it only lasts for that second before the state he's in registers, and it's clear when it does, because her eyes widen and her book is all but tossed aside in favor of getting to her feet to cross over his way.

Her forehead crinkles in worry as she looks him over, her hands coming to help him set down his things. "Yes, well. How dare you," is spoken dryly, her lips curving into a smile at one corner. But that, too, doesn't last long.

"What happened? Are you okay?" Fingers reach up to lift his hair to peer at the cut and, well, above it. Just in case.

"Oh— yes, I'm fine, really," Cas says, even trying to raise his hands as if to fend her off some. It isn't really that hes trying to fend her off, though. Because he looks relieved— and still a little worried.

The worry is in the creases of his forehead, with his eyebrows raised up.

"There was a troll— thing. Attack. On the edge of town. Really I'm okay— just a few bumps and bruises. I sort of… fell out of a tree. And then a building fell on me. But it could have been a lot worse!" Despite how much he insisted that he was a baby when it came to getting hurt, it seems he's trying his best to cover it up. At least for her.

"I brought apples— but I think it would be better to wash them first. They've had a rough day." The last is said with a tight-lipped smile as he holds up the lumpy— and pointy— bag.

Mariah's hands lift a little, too, and her expression is a bit… embarrassed. But at least his news gives her a reason to bring those hands to her face to cover a more shocked expression. And lingering blush. "Are you kidding?"

By the time he's gotten the explanation out, Mariah has grabbed a chair to drag over. And she pats the cushion before stepping over to lock the door behind him. She lingers just a moment before she turns back around. "At least I know I was right to worry about you." Even if she'd been a little… off as to why she should worry. "Here, I'll wash them. A building fell on you?" It's all still processing.

"Not the whole building…" Cas says, as he hands over the bag, after pulling something long and pointy and definitely not for eating out. And despite washing it it still has a lingering smell to it. "It was a… run down old mill really. There wasn't much of a roof to collapse, but I thought it would hold up against a troll better than it did."

As he says that, he's rubbing his face with his hands. He did clean up a little— as much as he could. After all they were next to a river.

"I didn't exactly try to fight it, but— the militia gave me this since… I was there. And everything." He holds up the tusk. The smelly tusk. There's a pause, before he adds as if he just thought of it, "I threw an apple at it."

Mariah takes the apples in her arms, but she doesn't move off right away. Instead, she eyes that thing with the smell. And then him. But those last words get not only a smile, but a gentle laugh from her. "Well, must have been some apple. You didn't show up here squished, after all. I hear trolls are supposed to be strong enough to toss a whole house.

"You were off fighting a troll and I thought— " She lets out a sigh instead of continuing, and turns then to bring the apples to her washbasin, sliding them in before she pours water in to start washing them off. "So you got a prize, ey?" She says, with another glance to the tusk, "That's quite the bragging rights. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little proud for you. And I'm glad you're… that you're okay."

Following her to the wash basin, Cas puts the tusk away back into the bag, where at least the smell won't get on much of her belongings— or so he hopes. "I was just trying to distract it, is all," he says with a shrug, looking down as he says that. But for a moment he's smiling.

She's proud of him, and that seems to make him happy. Almost happy enough to forget what she just said. Almost.

His head tilts to the side for a moment, smile fading into something more serious. "I certainly didn't plan on fighting trolls today— Constance is going to love hearing about this— " That tangent is added entirely as an aside, before he slips in a more serious question, "Did you think I'd forgotten?"

Mariah looks over at him as he comes over, that smile of his causing hers to widen as she dunks in a cloth to wash the apples with. "You say that like trying to distract a troll is something to shrug off." Of course, he would paint it that way. But she's still smiling as she looks back to the apples again.

Her motions slow a little at that question, and there's a delay before she looks over at him again, her brow furrowing gently. "No, not… exactly. Maybe you got busy or… decided… not to come by or maybe forgot. I suppose it did cross the mind. Troll attack certainly didn't. Although, kicked by a horse did, for a time." She gives him a crooked smile there, like it isn't something to dwell on, and she looks back down to the apples. Apparently, they need to be very clean.

From the way his lips press together, it's not necessarily that her worry surprises him, but Cas is certainly thoughtful about what worried her, the thoughts that crossed her mind. "Horses don't kick me," is what he finally settles on saying, moving up behind her to press up against her, arms going around to help with the washing. Or just to be in the way, really.

The apples need to be really clean!

"Though I guess the boss could have given me extra work on my day off. That could have happened," he admits, softly, against her hair. "Sorry. I should have sent word or— something. I stayed a few hours cause Sir Wartooth was knocked unconscious in bearform and— I decided to sit with him until he woke up. His fur is really rough!" After he says that, he laughs, as if he finds his tangent funny. Or the fact he even said it at all.

He gets in the way pretty well. And while Mariah might try to fight a smile when his arms go around her, she doesn't manage for long. "No, I suppose they don't. And how could they, hmm?" He's too cute to get kicked, in her opinion.

She turns her head to look at him, an eyebrow lifting, "Please, Cas. You do not need to be thinking about sending word to the whorehouse when you're dodging a troll. Or just after you've done. I'm unreasonable sometimes, but not that unreasonable." She looks back again, using the mirror above the water to look back at him instead. "I'm sorry. I should have known better than… all that."

But that tangent gets an odd, but amused look as she regards his reflection. "Were you petting him?" She teases, a laugh coming along with her words.

The eyes in the mirror are met by a smile, not quite as thin, even showing a little teeth, as he decides what to do with his hands. They end up wrapping around her waist against the robe, hugging her back to him. Cas forgets he's still rather dirty as he does that, though.

"I only— petted him— a little? What else was I supposed to do! He was unconscious. And it's not like I could move him… Haven't you ever wondered what a bear felt like?" he asks. As if everyone must have at some point.

It seems he's letting her worries slide, for the moment. Or maybe that apology was enough for him to forgive and forget.

Mariah leans back against him, her eyes closing for a moment, her smile softer, but no less genuine. It lasts until she remembers there's a mirror there that she was just looking at, and she blushes as her eyes slide open. Sheesh.

"Well, actually— I have wondered. I suppose being a little rough makes sense. A bear isn't just there to be cute, like a kitten. Aye?" At least she doesn't seem to mind the dirt and dust. Although, this isn't her best robe, either. But chances are, she'd be hard pressed to care in any case.

"His skin is black under all that white, you know," Cas says quietly, leaning his nose into her hair. Certainly she smells better than him, better than the stinking troll. Likely he will need a rather thorough bath, and a change of clothes before he'll fell like the smell has passed. But for now buring his nose in her hair is enough for him.

Despite that safe and light topic of interest, he breaths out into her hair before he whispers, "I wouldn't forget, baby."

There's a pause, then his eyes open, as if he hadn't actually meant to call her that and just realized he did.

"Is he?" Polar bear facts are not among the things she's read much about. "We should ask him why." It's a curiosity, to be sure, even if her tone is a little distracted due to a certain bit of nuzzling.

But not so distracted that she'd miss a sudden term of endearment like that. Men call her a lot of things around here. Not things like that, though. She looks up at the mirror when he says it, eyes a touch wide. There's a swallow as her hands still, even under the water as they are. But when his eyes open, she looks off to the side and presses her lips together briefly.

But she lifts her hands away from the apples and turns around to face him. And he may be dirty and her hands may be wet, but they slide around him all the same. "I'll keep that in mind," she says eventually, but the way she looks at him just now, her worries over what might have kept him away are a distant thought.

The sideways glance makes his eyes dart down for a moment, a hint of body language that tends to happen when he's insecure. A side of him she sees more often than Cas would probably like. But as she twists in his arms, pressing damp hands against dirty clothes, he looks back up at her face, eyes widening a little.

"Good— you should. Keep it in mind," he stutters slightly, as if he's half forgotten what it is she's keeping in mind. A lot can go on in a brain in a few seconds…

"You know— I— uh— think I might need to get washed too, like the apples. I'm rather dirty," he glances at himself in the mirror, head tilting to the side, as if wondering when his hair got quite that disheveled. It's like bedhead. That fell out of a tree. That got a house dropped on it.

"I will," Mariah says, her smile widening a little like she's finding something endearing. She nods along his comment about needing a bath and being dirty, but on the tail end of his words, as his head tilts to look into the mirror, she leans forward to kiss him. Her arms tighten around him some, more encouraging than really holding him there. One of her hands slides up into his hair, although at the back of his head, disturbing left over bits of debris from the house.

She isn't ending it any time soon, either. She's got a lot to express in the gesture. You know. Being sorry, being worried, being glad he lived. Being touched by a little term he accidentally dropped into conversation. Give her a sec. She'll get to the bathing part.

The bathing part can certainly wait, cause the kiss slowly works away the insecure tension that had developed, as kisses often do. They have a reassuring quality to them, especially when she's packing so many expressions into it. Cas leans into it, despite the protesting sore spots that have had hours to linger. Bruises he hasn't even had the chance to look at. Not to mention the sore leg he's avoiding standing on.

It seems he's determined to let it go as long as she wants— at least until he forgets about his leg and shifts his weight as he leans even more against her. It causes his knee to buckle, breaking the kiss so he can grimace, "Ow, sorry— I should— probably sit down before we… continue… Doing this." Even as he says that, he leans in to kiss her between pauses in the words.

Until his grimace makes him punctuate it again with a soft, "Ow."

Pain is quite enough to get Mariah to lean back again, her hands moving to support him this time as she looks down at his leg. Worried, of course. But it's eclipsed by a smile as he kisses her between his words, and a gentle laugh, by the end. "You're incorrigible." But you know. She likes that about him.

Moving to take his hands in hers, she starts to guide him away from the basin, and back toward the door to where her tub sits. "I think I should get you out of those clothes and into a bath. I hear it isn't a bad place to rest bumps and bruises. Two birds and all that." Three birds, maybe. "I suppose I'll just have to make sure I'm extra gentle."

As she pulls him away from the basin, towards a much bigger basin, Cas looks down at his clothes. "Starting to wish I had a spare pair of clothes here, cause I'm not looking forward to putting these back on." And he's not about to ask her or any of the ladies of this household to wash his clothes while he lounges around in a robe.

"Too much to hope you've got me even more clothes, eh?" he jokes quietly. "No— well I guess you'll just have to keep me out of 'em as long as possible," he says in a softer voice, still smiling.

Yes, he is incorigable. Once she gets past his insecurities.