Outside the Inn

Title: Outside the Inn
Time Period: December 25, 134
Characters Appearing:

Summary: There's room inside the inn on Christmas, but Luna finds herself outside looking in, and takes her anger out on two other outsiders.

Large flakes drift down, shrowding the already muted town in another layer of snow. Unlike most evenings, everyone is inside spending it with their family or loved ones. From the street, the amber colored window panes of the inn tell a tale all their own. Family and guests sit around a large table, most in a cheerful disposition, each with a glass of red wine to toast. A silver haired man at the head with his blonde wife at his right stand to toast before a table laid with more food than most have seen in a month. They seem happy.

It's Christmas at the Wandering Albatross.

Outside, a solitary figure stands at the window, invisible to those inside. Luna's slim, almost too much so, but well dressed. Her dark green velvet seems too fancy for spying, fitted to the waist and flaring out to a full skirt by the time it reaches her ankle. Her fur lined cape touches the ground behind her, even when she's on her tiptoes to peek inside. Were she anyone else, she might just walk in. Were it any other day, she might do the same.

A bay horse can be seen before it can be heard coming down the road, its breath and that of its rider rising out like steam in the dark and cool evening air. Upon approach to the inn, the rider swings himself out of his saddle gracefully, landing with a soft crunch in the snow. Planning to lead the horse to the stable, he pauses when he sees the solitary figure outside of the window.

Blue eyes move from woman to window and back again.

"I'm sure you're welcome inside," Beisdean says quietly. "Your mother invited me, after all."

It doesn't seem like an invitation he plans on accepting, given the fact he's already late and seems in no hurry to join the group within.

Everyone who has family or loved ones is inside having dinner with them.

Algernon is on patrol.

He's sunk deep in the saddle of a dappled grey mare across the road and has been for some time, thick woolen coat with its collar turned high blended black against a scraggled collection of naked trees. A scarf bound around his face and neck slices his profile down to narrowed eyes and the perpetual hood of his hat. Occasional drifts of foggy breath pull away where the wind skirts through and around his cover; his borrowed horse stirs restlessly against a more static vigil than she's used to.

But Luna's shape has been at the window for a while now and it would be nice if there was someone to drag her icy corpus inside should she persist too long in her apparent effort to freeze to death.

The arrival of Beisdean and his horse make it less of an issue however, and with a twist of glove to rein, Fogg stretches a kink from his shoulder and prepares to carry on.

Too concerned with what's going on inside, Luna didn't hear the horse until it and Beisdean were almost on her. Startled, she puts a gloved hand to her chest and grips it, glaring at the man who frightened her. "Beisdean Skye, you scared the life from me," lips pursed in anger, she narrows her eyes slightly at him before giving a short sniff and turning her back to the window. "You might have been invited but I wasn't. This is a Christmas tradition. They know I'm here but they won't invite me in. I know they know that I'm here but I won't invite myself in. Pride before the fall and all of that."

Taking a few quick steps, she begins to cross the street, moving away from the waterfront. Too busy watching the man behind her, she doesn't notice the one in front of her. Again, until it's too late. Face to face with yet another horse, she grabs her chest with both hands and folds at the waist. "Why are horses quieter in the winter than in the summer?!" This time she begins throwing her temper, and her fist, punching the dapple in the neck. Of course, she's much too weak to actually hurt it, but she's not too small to startle it.

Brows rise in Beisdean's face as Luna's anger overtakes her. "If it's a tradition, and they're your family, maybe they think the invitation's a given. I can't imagine them turning you away when they open their table to so many. And refusing to go in, that's the pride that comes before the fall. Knocking on the door takes humility that…"

Beisdean's words trail off when he finds himself speaking to her back. As Luna strikes out at the other man's beast, he mutters to himself, "… that you haven't got."

A quick loop of reins around a post, he strides after her — in case the man on the mare takes exception being accosted by the prostitute.

Some horses are spookier than others. This one — with an unfamiliar rider and cold wind in her ears — lunges into an awayward side step that's stifled forcibly into a full turn on the same axis. Three hundred and sixty ominous degrees later, the mare puffs and horfs with ears pinned back and nostrils open wide.

Her rider appears to have taken exception, brow furrowed and eyes squinted harsh against the cold and the dark and the irritation lined deeper into crow's feet than a flighty horse is probably worth. The voice that issues forth from behind the scarf is pitched low at a growl. Unfriendly. It also belongs to Algernon Fogg.

"Mind your manners."

Startled herself, Luna lets out a shriek and backpeddles into Beisdean when the horse startles and begins its jog. Still angry from her first and second, a volley of weak fists fly at his chest as she continues to throw her temper tantrum. "You don't know how it's been. Don't you speak for them, you don't know them. You don't know me. You don't know anything about anyone here anymore, Beisdean Skye."

By the time the horse comes to a skittering stop, she's stopped yelling.

When Algernon's voice sounds out gruff through the frozen air, she pauses her beating.

Coming to a full stop, she turns and wipes the wet hair from her forehead, looking up at the rider. It's the hat that she recognizes more than the rest of him, bundled under the scarf and in a position unfamiliar to her (one of authority). "Mister Fogg? I— I'm sorry, I— " Luna ducks her head to the side, making her face visible only to Beisdean when she wipes at her eyes. "I'm sorry."

The tall man lifts his chin, jaw set as he raises his eyes above Luna's head to make eye contact with the other man. He lets the woman beat upon his chest with a resigned exasperation, and just when it looks like he might grab her wrist to pull her away from him, she stops.

He'l have to write Algernon a thank you note later for that.

When Luna gives her apologies to 'Mister Fogg,' he snorts once with a shake of his head as he steps away from Luna to put a few feet's distance between them. "One day you're going to hit something that hits back," Beisdean mutters, glancing over his shoulder to make sure his own gelding hasn't spooked. "Maybe it'll do you some good," is added in a lower voice as he gives a polite nod to the stranger and makes to turn away, an angry flush in his cheeks.

Apology endured with an unusually chilly brand of indifference, Algernon has to work tooth to jaw and boot creakily against stirrup a moment before he can get a read of Beisdean and reach to hook gloved fingers beneath the wrap of his scarf. He tugs it down under his chin once he has, long-suffering in the press of a long breath through his sinuses. The picture. Of patience.

"I take that to mean you'd rather not be taken in for assault," he says, at length, and with effort, eyes checked pitchy after the start of Beisdean's turn. Further, after a beat's reconsideration: "I take it to mean — that you'd rather find something more productive to do with yourself. Somewhere inside."

It's a fearful look back that Beisdean receives before Luna steps beside him, gripping his hand tightly. "No sir, I'd rather not be taken in for assault." Her voice is strained, her usual demeanor tempered with the onslaught of the law. She's no longer angry but certainly not as jovial as Algernon knows her, at best her countenance is timid. The blonde begins shaking her head at Algernon's second assumption. "No sir, I have no inside to go to but I'll be off elsewhere."

Turning her head, she moves her gaze from the rider to the man beside her. "I'm sorry Beisdean, I'll trouble you no more." With how small the town is, that statement is likely a lie, but she lets go of his hand and gathers her cloak a little tighter around her. "Merry Christmas, to the both of you."

The threat must not be an idle one if Luna changes modes so quickly, which earns Algernon a look of narrow-eyed respect from Beisdean even as the woman takes his hand. His stays loose in her grip, not curling around it; nor does he try to defend her actions to the man who must be part of the militia.

When she lets go, Beisdean finally glances back to Luna. "I'm sure you can go inside if you wanted to. I'm sure they'd be happy to see you. I've done my visiting with my mother today; you should do the same," he says quietly, a reprimand in turn for the one she gave him a couple of days past.

Before she can argue, Beisdean holds up a hand to silence her. "If you won't, I'll give you a ride back to your home to make sure you don't hit any more defenseless horses tonight." His lips quirk into a smile at her expense. "Don't hit Iago; he'll bite back, I warn you. He's not as forgiving as I am."

"Merry Christmas," echoed back with a vacancy of feeling roughly on par with the vacuum of space, Algernon pushes the grey bunch of his scarf back up over his nose and nudges his ride into the start of a slower turn and exuent down the road, snow dusting free of folds stiffened into the wool of his coat with the movement.

"Quell your histrionics and find somewhere to have dinner." A toss of the mare's tail is appropriately dismissive of man and lady and horse, nerves still brittle after Luna's initial assault. Somehow, he manages to angle a doff of hand to hat such that it appears to be meant for Beisdean alone. Leaving him in unspoken charge of her, or something. Ever thoughtful, that way. "Consider that an order."

Luna doesn't move from her spot, preferring to stand in the middle of the street watching the tail end of the horse and its rider as it disappears into the snowy evening. "Goodbye Mister Fogg, I hope you find a warm meal to share with someone as well."

Turning to Beisdean, she lifts her chin and presses her lips into a thin line. "It's not my ma' that I'm not wishin' to see. She understands why I don't go in. It's best to leave it be, Mister Skye." An added measure of propriety only lends itself to estrangement. "I'm certain Mister Fogg will understand if we don't have a meal together. I'm not hungry and I'm certain you are, I can find somewhere else to be on my own." She doesn't mention the Dovetail.

"Merry Christmas," echoes Beisdean with a tip of his own cap to the man on the horse. "Thank you for your understanding," he adds, on behalf of Luna.

Turning back to her, he gives a shakde of his head. "I'm not good company at a yuletide meal right now, Miss Owens, and I'll not have you wandering the street in the dark in the cold in the state you're in. God knows what matter of beast you'll render bloody and unconscious if I do, and I'll not have the maiming of innocent animals on my conscience."

There's a smile in the corner of his mouth that ruins his deadpan, but he gestures to his horse. "Come. Iago can carry us both, and it's too cold to walk."

A ways down the road, there's a smudge of shadow and grey where Algernon stops and turns his horse, as if to see if his directions are being followed.

Regardless of what he determines, he continues on not long after, presumably content that he is not leaving her to be raped or murdered for Christmas. Or both.

"I don't know how to ride a horse," Luna admits, her tone a little lower as she begins walking down the street in roughly the opposite direction of the militia man. "I was never allowed to learn, my da' was afraid I'd fall." Presumably to her death. Like another child they both knew.

The fact that his horse bites. Well. The prostitute only makes a swifter move away from both her former friend and his mount. "If you're going to escort me, we'll have to walk, whether it's too cold or not. So if you don't relish the slow journey, I'll spare you my company, we can part ways here." An easy out for him, orders or not.

"You don't need to know how to ride if you're not the one with the reins," Beisdean points out, but lifts his eyes to the sky when she veers away. He reaches up to re-wind his scarf around his neck and to pull up the collar of his wool coat.

"Fine," he says, untying Iago's reins from the post and leading it into the slow gait to accompany the stubborn blonde. At least he'll be able to ride back.

Alone.

"Merry Christmas," the man murmurs again, not to Luna nor to Algernon but in a sarcastic mutter to himself.