Title: Pre-Unwrapped
Time Period: April 2, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: In the aftermath of a kelpie attack, Mariah finds Cas minus most of his clothes.

The noise of the attack got people taking. And the word spread like wildfire through the town and even the somewhat excluded Dovetail heard the news. Mariah wasted very little time in getting herself out to the waterfront, a certain badger trailing her in case of danger, but staying mostly out of sight. It's somewhat telling, as she comes across many of her clients among the militia and sailors, when she brushes through and passed them to hunt down one man in particular. She's not here to boost morale. She's here to make sure someone important didn't die.

Only when they reach the woods does Masque come out of hiding, being a bit more overt in his protection duties which is called for, as Mariah is being a bit reckless, all things considered.

"Cas!" It's a call that rings out near the waterline of the small inlet, sounding familiar, but unfamiliarly frantic. "Cas!"

The young man in question sits on the edge of the waterfront, wrapped in a blanket given to him by one of the militia while the kelpie is loaded up onto a wagon to get delivered to someone in town. The bucket full of fish which somehow managed not to get kicked over in the ruckus is among what he had to offer in exchange for the service, as well as a few things in a pack he had, all which seems to be enough to get it delivered. Fresh salmon, after all, can feed a household. Or a few men in a militia.

A few of them no doubt recognized the iron bee around his neck, but so far no one has confronted him badly about it, while he shivers under the blanket. His boots and gloves are among the few clothes that didn't get stuck to the kelpie's skin and ripped off. The voice attracts his eye curiously and he stands up from his huddled ball of drying warmth, hair still damp looking, curling against his forehead. She's seen him wet many a time, but never quite with this skintone. Despite the blanket, he's still quite cold as he hurries over to the voice. "What— what're you doing out here?" he says in a shivery voice.

When Mariah sees him heading her way, she steps out of the trees to come meet him. She might even be… running. A little. But when she reaches him, her hands come up to touch his face, and she lets out a quick, but deep breath. She doesn't seem, at this particular moment, to care who sees her fretting, either.

"I heard— And I thought— " She gestures a bit as if that would finish her sentences for her, which they don't, really. "Are you hurt? You look cold. I wish I'd brought a proper coat along." Hers is more of an accessory than anything really warm, just now. Not that she knew he would end up dunked in the stream.

"Yeah— yeah I'm okay, mostly. Probably got a bruise on my back where it kicked me, but… mostly intact. More than I can say for my clothes," Cas says, glancing toward the kelpie with a grimace. There's probably a few eyes, and he starts to edge further away in his shoes and the blanket he's borrowing. It may or may not be a horse blanket.

"I fell in," he explains. "But I was trying to help Luna— she was watching me fish and… she's okay. I think she rushed off to see someone medical a while ago."

Glancing over her lack of proper coat, he wraps the blanket tighter around him. "Which do you think is closer— your place or mine?" Downside of his place is she'd likely have to wait outside. But he'd have extra clothes to change into.

"It took your clothes, did it?" Mariah glances beyond him to the eyes watching, but she looks back to him without a hitch in her expression. "Don't they know that's my job?" Her lips spread into a grin there, impish at first, but it fades into something that looks more relieved.

The worried look for Luna being involved is brief, given that he's quick to fill her in, but it still dims her smile. "She's okay, though? Nothing serious?" She turns away from the beach, her arm sliding around him as if she might be able to help warm him that way, and points them in the direction of the Dovetail.

"Mine, I believe. And mine comes with a fireplace and a warm meal and possibly some clothes to borrow that might not fit all that well. Mens clothes, I promise," she says, making an X over her heart. "I thought you might've… been really hurt. They said the kelpies just over ran the shore." She does seem to think in worst case scenarios.

"She was okay enough to threaten me with a layer of her dress to wear," Cas says with a grin, pleased that this woman at least is promising him trousers and shirts. And she knows his size well enough to be a good pick of clothing options. "She looked like she was bleeding, but I'm sure she's okay— It'll take more than a … kelpie? Kelpie to take her down, I'm sure."

It seems from his smile he's trying to ease her fears, as he moves under the blanket again. It seems as if he's gripping something in one of his hands, too, a knife wrapped in something. "I think I'll take your offer…" he says, before he moves back towards the nearest man helping with the hauling and quickly says, "Don't forget, Cas Blackburn. One with the clothes stuck to it is mine. I will see the leather worker about getting it treated and everything tomorrow morning."

With that said he makes his way back over, still shivery but smiling in a damp way, "I'll probably need to dip into my horse fund a bit, but how often do you get to have kelpies made into leather— one of the boys said it made great leather."

"I hope so," Mariah says, as far as what it would take to keep Luna down. When she looks back at him, her smile is back, if softer this time around. "Good. We'll get you warmed up before long." She turns to watch him make his arrangements for the skin, a chuckle following with a shake of her head. It a warm, affectionate indulgence.

"I've heard that, too. And it's waterproof, the treated hide. You see poachers head for the waters sometimes," she explains, her smile tilting crooked. "And I've lived in Dornie my whole life and never had the chance, so I'd say it's rare enough to be worth it." When they reach the tree line, and slip behind it, she moves closer to him, her hand moving to rest over his where he holds the blanket around himself. She might just be glad he didn't die. You know, a little.

"Waterproof, huh? I wonder if it makes a good saddle," Cas muses quietly as he tugs the blanket tighter around himself and moves in closer to her to begin the walk back. A grin sprouts up as he notices a spy watching them and he says, "Hey there, mate— worried I might've gotten myself killed too?" he asks toward the familiar, before he looks back at Mariah.

It could be the cold and everything that happened, helping kill a kelpie and all, has made him too… anxious to think about some of the things she said. But the further they get from it, the more it soaks in. "So— you ran all the way out here to check on me…"

Masque answers with an irritated chitter and a glance up at Mariah as if passing the blame her way as he falls into step with them. The mage puts her free and on her hip, but she explains to Cas, "He's grumpy because I woke him from a nap, but he was worried enough to come, too."

So there.

The Badger hunches up some, but it's only for show, as he gets back to his self-appointed job as bodyguard. And lets Mariah field the next bit on her own. "Ahh…" She glances at her feet for a moment, to hide a sheepish expression. "I'm certain I didn't run the whole time." But she is in sensible shoes for a reason.

If he were wearing more than gloves, a blanket, boots and his underpants, this may not be as awkward as it is, but Cas moves in closer to lean over and kiss her lightly… On the cheek.

There's still a few eyes who might be looking.

"I'm sorry for worrying you," he says with a smile, once he pulls back, rubbing a cold shoulder against her as he does.

"I didn't lose your pendant," he adds, opening his blanket enough so that she can see his chest. There's dirt and bruising and scraps of various shapes and sizes all over his body from tumbling into the rocks, but nothing that looks like it needs stitches. And he's still got both their pendants around his neck.

Even if he lost his shirt.

It's certainly one of his more interesting outfits. Mariah leans into that kiss, and does seem to understand why it's not a more… outlandish display. But even so, she leans over to rest her head against him as they walk on. She's never minded giving Dornie something to talk about, but even she has never given them something quite like this before.

"It's alright. So long as you're still in one piece, I'll forgive you." She lifts her head to look over as he mentions the bee, though, and she glances down to it and its companion, her smile spreading a little wider. "Gave up everything else, but that, 'ey? I'm touched." She might tease a little, but she really is touched under it all; it's in the eyes as she looks up at him.

"I still got my underpants," Cas says as he looks down at the blanket covering him, though he's not about to be brave enough to show her that right now. Not only that but the wind would certainly make him regret uncovering that at the moment. "Apparently they're sticky— I didn't know that when I jumped on it's back. Luckily I don't think anything but my clothes actually touched it's skin."

His smile is wide as she leans against him, leaning his head down against hers a bit as they walk, even leaning in to kiss her. She's giving the militia something to talk about, and inadvertantly so is he.

"You're sweet," he says softly. Then adds a second later, "And really warm."

Mariah laughs at that insistence, and she can't really help herself when she adds, "For now." Even Masque chitters at that one. He even sounds amused. "Yeah, that's how they— trap things and drag them under. No hands, you see." And that tendency might explain why she was so worried. That and the hooves.

The kiss gets another smile out of her, worries about gossip about a mile away from her mind at the moment. She would be more aware normally, but— "I think most people would use tart, instead of sweet." Oh, wordplay. But humor is a useful tool in her arsenal. And one she leans on the most. When he mentions her being warm, though, she takes a moment to rub his arms through the scratchy blanket before she just wraps her arms around him instead.

"Sweet to me, baby," Cas says, slipping out the affectionate name he'd used earlier, and avoided using after. There's no pause this time that follows, or apologetic look, instead he just closes his eyes and leans against her for a moment, hoping she keeps her eyes open instead of walking them into a tree.

It's still a decent walk, but he's more than willing to be hugged a little. It does after all help get him warm.

He makes it difficult, keeping her affections in check at all. And it's possibly good for her that he closes his eyes, because her smile goes unchecked and into bright and embarrassing territories. At least hearing the endearment comes easier this time, takes her less by surprise, and she answers with a kiss to his forehead as he leans against her. Which is, in fact, sweet.

She is watching where they're going, as she maneuvers them around the trees and keeps them mostly on the path to the Dovetail. What she doesn't do much of for the rest of the walk there is talk. Keeps her from letting certain things slip while she's in this glad-you-lived mood. It's obvious when they get close, though, because her arms shift from hugging to draping, and her smile tilts crooked as they approach the house. Just have to get through the parlor and up the stairs without too much notice. It's one thing to leave the militia men to gossip, it's another to show the other girls what's going on blatantly.

Not that they all don't suspect already. Or at least the more observant.

The closer they get, the less he leans against her as he walks. In fact Cas looks up at the house as they get close enough and says, "So— you going to try to sneak me up to your room again? Can't say I blame you this time— one wrong move and the whole house'll see me in my underpants. I think enough people have seen me half naked today."

But the way he said again is teasing back to a time when she did sneak him upstairs under very different circumstances. "You never did tell me why you snuck me up last time, either," he adds, looking toward the house. His lips are pressed together a little, perhaps to keep from chattering.

"Might not be a bad idea…" Mariah considers the front of the house for a moment before she tugs him off toward a different door. One with less eyes behind it. "I didn't? I could have sworn I did," she says, even though she knows she didn't. She's just dancing around it, is all. "I hope you're, at least, wearing fun underthings," she teases before she turns a handle, opens the door and peeks in.

Coast is clear enough, because she slips him inside a moment later, where it's already a much nicer temperature, before she follows him and shuts the door. A finger comes up to her lips before she turns to lead the way to the stairs. Quietly.

It seems to be going okay until they reach the floor her room is on, where there just happens to be another of the Doves loitering. An older woman. She just lifts an eyebrow and watches them as Mariah walks him down the hall and turns to unlock her door. But before they can slip in undeterred, Bonnie speaks up.

"You know, it's customary to wait until they're inside before you tear their clothes off."

From the way he walks with his lips pressed together almost in a frown, it's hard to say exactly what's going on in his brain. But Cas did glance at her when she, once again, dodged around his not-question. Yeah he's noticing she's dodging. But he doesn't ask anymore as they sneak up the stairs and get into sight of…

Oh no a Dove.

For a second Cas freezes in place, until Mariah continuing to move makes him step after her. Only when the woman speaks does he pull his blanket tighter around him, almost like an embarassed girl might try to cover herself with a sheet. "She didn't— I— Uh— " he works his mouth for a moment with no more half formed sentances, and looks at Mariah. With a wide eyed expression that pretty much screams 'help'.

It's a matter to be tackled later, getting Mariah to stop dodging and actually answer. For now, she's letting out a sigh when they're called out. And Cas is too… Cas to drop something pithy and slip out. But his attempted answer and the look her way still manage to get a warm smile out of her. Luckily, she's facing the door.

And when she turns, she's turned it to a crooked grin. "He came pre-unwrapped. Might let the others know, wouldn't be surprised if it's a busy night." She nudges the door open with a hip, giving Cas, at least, an escape route.

And Bonnie's attention turns to him and isn't shy about looking him over, even though he's covered by a blanket. Maybe she just wants to make him squirm a little. "You were quick in getting here," she observes. Mildly. But knowningly.

"I— uh— I— uh— " Cas continues to fail at speaking, looking back at the Dove he doesn't know as if he's afraid to leave without managing a whole sentance. His eyes flicker to the open door, the escape route and then back at Bonnie. "I— I'm really cold, bye," he suddenly lets out, taking that as his required sentance before he hurries inside the bedroom, shyly wrapped in the blanket.

When he's followed inside he's blushing brightly near the fireplace, holding the blanket close, and cautiously looking back at the door. As if more than Mariah might try to follow them.

Okay, that time, Mariah laughs with only her hand to hide it behind. And she watches him disappear into the room before she looks back to Bonnie. "Night," she says with a smile and a wave before she enters, too, closing the door behind her and locking the door. Like she might be worrying about the same thing.

The fire still goes, but it's burning low by now. She steps over to add some more wood to it, to encourage it along. And then she goes to pull the blanket off her bed before she comes over to Cas again. Her hand reaches to tug off the one he has, letting it drop to the floor before she replaces it with her much softer one. And this time, when she steps in closer, she uses that blanket to pull him into a kiss.

For a few brief moments, Cas continues to hold onto the old rough blanket, but he lets go as he sees she's got a replacement. As the brief glimpse showed her, he is covered in scrapes and bruises, all new, and looking very much like they came from being dragged along rocks at one point or another.

It could have been worse, though. There's no fresh blood, no still bleeding wounds. And the cold was the biggest threat, really. Any earlier in the year and they might have to worry about frozen fingers and toes.

Arms start to wrap around her, when he recalls what else he was holding under the blanket. "Just a second," he says, pulling away to lay the knife Cordelia threw him down near the edge of the fireplace, before he turns back to her— and steps into the soft blanket-y hug.

And lingering kiss. One that at least keeps him from questions for… quite some time.