Title: Nightingale
Time Period: March 30, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: In the wake of an attack on Dornie, Mariah comes to check up on a certain patient.

It doesn’t take too long for news like dragon attack to get around town. And while Mariah might have given Beisdean a free pass after the troll incident, two attacks in relatively quick succession warrants a visit. And she comes armed with cloths and bandages and the whole lot when she knocks on his door there at the Albatross.

“Beisdean, it’s Mariah,” she greets through the door, but it’s just a bit of a warning before she turns the handle to let herself in. “Don’t get up,” she says, a smile on her face, “I heard that you were hurt. Again.” She slides the door shut behind her before she comes to set her supplies down on a table beside the bed. “You’ll have to tell me all about it once I’ve made sure you’re not secretly bleeding to death.”

The man is lying, not asleep, with his good arm thrown over his face; this muffles the humorless huff that is meant to indicate some sort of laugh. As Mariah had guessed, he has yet to clean and bandage the wounds he’d gotten trying to fight off the Reds; a good deal of the blood on his hands is not his own, but that of those he’d tried to help to safety… or drag away for a later burial.

As Mariah nears the bed, Beisdean sighs and pushes himself up, despite her words, to lean against the headrest. Darklight is curled up on the pillow beside him, protective even when wounded and sleeping off his own injuries from the troll attack.

“A Nightingale and not a Larke today, hmm?” Beisdean finally says, looking up at her. Despite the joke, he is pale beneath the dirt and blood, his eyes rimmed red. “I’m fine. Aislinn Rowntree might be able to use a bit of your help. There were others worse off than me.”

Mariah sighs when he moves, a hand moving to her hip. “Stubborn.” Out of the bag she’s brought along, she pulls out some dried fruit to set on the pillow near Darklight. A finger gently scritches under his chin, but otherwise, she doesn’t disturb the familiar. “Just for the moment. I plan to be a Larke again before long. You won’t mention the lapse to anyone, hmm?”

No, she’s far more set on disturbing the man. “The way I see it, I’m helping her right now. I’ll see to some others after.” She pulls out a deep bowl next, and a liquor bottle repurposed into a water bottle to fill it up from. Some cloths are pulled out next and she brings it all with her as she slides onto the bed. “Plus, I’m best with the handsome patients,” she adds with a crooked smile as she reaches to take his hand, dipping a cloth into the water before she starts to clean the blood off.

The compliment does its job and earns her a toothy smile, and Darklight too rouses after the scritching to tch at Mariah and then paw at the fruit.

Beisdean’s fingers curl around hers, squeezing lightly in thanks. “In like a lion,” he muses. “I was planning to head back, soon, now that it’s spring. I’d say my luck in Dornie is about what it was when I was a child. I’m just trying to decide if it’s safer here in town or if setting out on my own is like inviting tragedy to come courting, the way things are going.”

Mariah seems focused on the job at hand as he speaks, her gaze on his hands as she wipes the cloth gently over his skin. But there’s no missing the way her smile turns bittersweet, or how it takes her a moment before she can look up at him. “If you’re planning on going out like a lamb, I suppose you’ll have to be in one of those sweaters of yours,” she says, teasing in an effort to get her smile more steady.

And speaking of which, she slides closer, her fingers moving to help him out of his torn and also bloody shirt, this time out of concern more than anything. For the moment, at least. “You can’t go yet,” she states after a pause, although she seems to be neglecting to say why, exactly.

His eyes slide away, focusing on the familiar who is chewing the piece of fruit, rather than watch her sad smile. The inevitable sweater joke gets a mirrored smile of her own, and he helps her by shrugging out of the shirt. He winces when he moves the injured shoulder, still mottled with blue and purple from the troll’s throw.

Beisdean raises his brows at her decree. “I won’t with this shoulder like this at any rate. You get another couple weeks at least. When am I allowed to go in your book?” he asks, smiling up at her.

She echoes that wince, sympathetic at least. “Sorry,” she notes, for making him move, but she moves, too, to exchange bloody water for clean and to get the bandages out to set down next to her. But when she sits down again, she gets right to work at cleaning out the bites and scratches, even though it stings. She’ll say sorry again later.

“When I like you less,” Mariah says, matter-of-factly, before she actually looks at his face. “You couldn’t have been cruel or unpleasant, hmm? Or dim-witted. That would have helped. I would have been happy just looking at you instead of coming to count you as a friend. It would be terrible of me to keep your arm wounded, right?” That part, at least, gets a crooked smile. Still a bit sad, though.

Each touch of the cloth brings the slightest of winces, a tightening around the eyes that then crinkle at her words. “I can pretend to be if it’ll help,” he teases back. “Though I’m not sure how witty I’ll be if I keep getting knocked about by trolls and dragons.”

He watches the dabbing and bandaging for a moment, quietly, a somberness coming over him. Finally Beisdean speaks again. “I can’t decide if having a couple of friends who know what I am and accept it is better than going back to what I had before, back in the south. Respected shopkeeper, mates enough to count on two hands. But all a bit fake, I suppose.”

“At least you’ll still have your pretty face,” Mariah says with a quiet chuckle. But when he goes on, her hand stills on his chest and she watches him, her head tilted slightly. “The real question,” she says at length, like she’s not entirely wanting to speak up, “is where you’re the happiest. And I suppose it’s selfish of me to want you to stay, regardless. But I’m strangely alright with that.”
Her fingers drum against his chest before she leans back to finish bandaging him up. “I’m— sorry, you know. For how I was to you when we were kids. I was awful. I hate that I was a part of what drove you away from home. Away from your mother. It was so stupid,” she finishes with a breathy laugh on her words, mirthless though it may be. “I don’t think I ever actually apologized before.”

His brows knit at the word happiest, like it’s a foreign term he’s come across in reading. There’s no answer to that — which is in itself an answer.

The unlooked-for apology makes him look up in surprise, shaking his head and catching her hand. “You didn’t drive me away. Don’t think that. Kids are kids,” Beisdean says, reaching with his other hand to tug her hair, a reprimand for thinking herself to blame.

“I didn’t leave because of how people treated me. I left because I had to learn how to deal with the things I see. How to live with it without going mad, aye? I would have needed to anyway, no matter how you acted, Larkie.” Beisdean leans forward, long legs swinging around to sit on the bed rather than recline.

This allows him to press a quick kiss on her cheek. “‘What’s gone and what’s past help should be past grief,’ our Will tells us, but it wasn’t your fault to begin with.”

Mariah closes her eyes at the kiss, leaning into it just a little. “Will was very wise,” she says, pausing just long enough to clear a lump out of her throat, “I’m notoriously not, though. So I’m still sorry for being such a brat all the time.” She smiles, though, and shifts to slide her arms gently around his torso. Wounds and all.

“Seems to me, you haven’t gone totally mad just yet. Must have worked alright, your sojourn to the south.” She smiles there, and leans against his shoulder. “But you weren’t happy there, either?” She didn’t miss that look.

The cloth is taken from her hands and set on the table with the rest of the supplies before Beisdean tugs her back onto the bed to curl up with like a stuffed toy or doll. His chin rests on top of her head and he stares up at the rafters above.

“I thought I was,” he says mildly. “It’s been so long since anyone knew my secrets, you know? But whatever I had with those people — it wasn’t real, either, if I wasn’t honest with them.”

Heaving a sigh, he closes his eyes and tips his head against hers. “I do miss my shop. It wasn’t mine but it felt like home.”

Mariah doesn’t argue as the cloth is taken from her, or when he lays them back on the bed. In fact, she settles against him rather easily. Her fingers find a place to rest without upsetting his wounds any further.
“Keeping your secrets doesn’t make what you had dishonest. It’s up to you, how much of yourself you share with anyone. As long as you’re yourself. Heaven forbid if we had to expose all our layers to everyone,” she says with a chuckle, shaking her head softly. “And if we do, I have a list of confessions it’ll take us a year to get through.”

Because it’s been an altogether chaste conversation to this point, Beisdean can’t help but reach up to tug at the neckline of Mariah’s dress, tugging it toward her shoulder.

“I’m all for uncovering your layers, Larkie,” he teases, bending his head to drop a kiss on her now-bared skin there. He looks up, gray-blue eyes sparkling. “After all, you’re overdressed, relatively speaking.”

None of Mariah’s clothes are designed to be too difficult to get off, at least as far as shoulders go, and that tug gets her looking up at him with an arched eyebrow.

“I walked right into that, I suppose.” But she doesn’t seem to mind it, really, especially as that kiss has her eyes drifting closed. The opposite, likely, given that she’s not pushing him away. “I like this ratio, actually. And besides, I came to tend your wounds. House call and everything. I think the view is a decent enough payback.” The grin she flashes him there is anything but innocent, but rather impish and playful instead. Nevermind that she’s not just looking, but touching as well. That’s just a bonus.

“Battered and bruised as the view is?” Beisdean says with a wry laugh. The scrapes and scratches on his chest are minimal thanks to his clothing protecting him from the dragons’ teeth, his hands and arms bearing the worst of it.

“Some nurse you are. Lying down on the job,” he adds, lips returning to her neck to nuzzle the spot behind her ear, another tug on the gown to press his luck.

“Even so. You’d be surprised what a little roughing up can do,” Mariah says with a crooked smile. Sly, even. It is, after all, a very nice view. When he leans in to her neck, she lets out a groan that’s really meant to be protesting, but falls just a little short of the mark.

“I see your libido hasn’t suffered any,” she remarks, dryly. Her hand makes its way up his chest to slide behind his neck, fingers entwining in his hair as she turns just enough to kiss him. It’s just for a moment, really. Or two.

“You know, this isn’t what I came here for,” she says, tone still dry, but spoken in a whisper this time.

He continues the kiss even when she stops, playing chase when she retreats.

“Doesn’t have to be why you came to be why you stay,” he teases, not pulling away as his fingers tug at clothing. “You can leave and tell everyone you took excellent care of my every ailment.”

Mariah does make him chase, but she also lets him catch her. And she lingers a little longer in the kiss after, her hand tightening on the back of his neck.

She eases out of it, though, her hand sliding back to his chest as her eyes open to look at him, her smile crooked again. “If you want every ailment taken care of, I think you’ll have to make an appointment. Come into the office. You know. Its far better equipped for such things.” She doesn’t exactly disengage, though, but lays back down against him.

“Also, I lied. I’m far worse with the handsome patients,” she says with a grin against his neck.

“‘So bad begins and worse remains behind,’” quoth Beisdean, a hand reaching to smack lightly her rear to make physical pun of the words.

He relents, though, returning to the more platonic lean of chin upon her head, her snuggled against him. “Will it cost me any for you to stay a bit while I nap?” he asks, an uncharacteristic shy quality in the question’s tone; the moments bookending his sleep are often difficult ones, and there are newly dead to contend with.

“Quoting Hamlet, now that is not playing fair at all,” Mariah says, but there’s a laugh on her tone in the wake of the pun that removes any seriousness from the accusation.

The question, or the manner it’s posed in, softens her demeanor as well as her smile and her hand shifts to find his to slip into. “Not even a drop of your very fine whiskey,” she answers, and tilts her head to press a less driven, but more affectionate kiss to his jaw.

When she opens her mouth again, this time it’s to sing a soft lullaby, something in French, as if understanding he might be having a bit of a hard time with the getting to sleep part just now. And definitely so, as before the song is quite finished, her voice manages to lull him off into a deep slumber. Like magic.