Repetition 3pm

Title: Repetition 3pm
Time Period: February 2, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Bridget Ross becomes both sides of the coin when it comes to debt collection.

"Please, I promise I'll pay. I've just run into a spot of bad luck, that's all…"

The trembling voice behind the door sounds a little muffled. The windows are much too dirty to see through but the bit of candlelight on the inside meant for both warmth and heat gives a clue that someone does live there, instead of just squatting. It's that area of town.

"You've said that the last few times I've come to visit," the other voice is a bit smoother, quite calm and collected. "This time, my employer isn't taking no for an answer. I see little here that you've got for me to take away. At least by way of possession…"

"Wh— What d'you mean, MacCruimein? What do you mean to do?" Sounding a little more panicked now, there's a shuffle. Wood topples to stone flooring and a child's scream erupts from inside. There's more than just the two of them in there, there's a whole family by the sounds of the whimpering inside. "No, please, not my fingers, I need them to work!! I've been ill!! The blood sickness, I've been trying to nurse my wife."

"Then you'll have to come up with a better barter, won't you?" Sounding as scintillating as silk, the taller silhouette moves around the room to a huddled mass in the corner and pulls a piece of it away.

"No!!” The hoarse cry comes from more than just the older man, from an older woman, and girls of various ages. “Not Fiona!! Not my daughter… you can take my fingers… just leave her alone!" The woman inside the mass coughs as she tries to barter a new trade.

If there is one thing consistent about Bridget, it is that in the face of friend or foe, she will always try to do what she sees as right. When a frightened witness came running to find her, they didn't say Jain's name, but it's possible she could guess that much before she got there.

But regardless, her heavy boot kicks open the door as the man begs for his daughter. There's a gun pointed inside, and while Bridget is not the best shot in the militia, she's odd enough at this range to make it a real threat. But if that isn't enough, he knows her ever-present knives are there somewhere.

"Drop. The girl." Her voice is steady, too, but firm. She's a woman of honor giving him fair warning.

He doesn't.

The fist that holds the teenager's hair tightens and he wrenches her closer to his body, using her as a meat shield. "I'm afraid, Miss Ross, that I can't do that." Jain's own pistol caresses the side of the girl's face, the tears streaking her cheeks wet the end of the barrel. Then it's pointed at Bridget. "Mister Connelly is well aware what happens when the tax man cometh. He's quite far behind on his dues, you see, now it's time to pay…

"With whatever he has on hand."

"Please ma'am, please Miss Ross…" a ragged hump creeps closer to the soldier woman. A man on his hands and knees, begging favor. "He's going to take her, he's going to sell her off. I just need more time, a few more days."

"He's not going to take her," Bridget says to the man without taking her gaze off Jain. Her weapon doesn't lower, even when his turns in her direction. "He's going to let her go back to her father, because he's not getting one step outside of this house with her in hand."

Her thumb pulls back the hammer of her gun, and she steps further into the doorway, although she doesn't move far from it. "Last chance, Jain," she says, not loud but quite clear, "We can all still walk away."

"And then who is going to pay what he owes? It won't be me and I ain't comin' back empty handed." His head angles off to the side and there's a motion to it that's not quite a nod. Then Jain turns back to Bridget with a smile. "Perhaps we can come to some sort of agreement. Miss Ross, what do you suggest we do to resolve the situation for all parties involved?"

The hammer of his pistol is pulled back, the older of the two taking their game of chicken a little bit farther. His gun, on the other hand, is not pointed at Bridget any longer, instead it's pressed to the temple of the girl he holds close to himself. Half lidding his eyes, he shifts the girl by the hair and presses his nose into the back of her skull.

"Once this one has worked off her father's debt, she'd be more than free to come back if she wishes." He takes a deep breath inward and then glances toward Bridget with one eye. "But I'm open to alternatives."

Bridget glances to where that gun presses against the girl's head and then back to Jain's face again. "He should work off his own debt, if that's your idea. It isn't her debt. She is, as of this moment, under the protection of the Ross clan, Jain." She may not be good at politicking, but she knows her name carries its own weight when her position in the militia doesn't do the job.

"I suggest," she says a little louder, "you have the children close their eyes." Must be advice for the father. Perhaps she's not seeing this play out cleanly.

"Is she now? Well ain't that convenient…" With a grunt and a shove, the girl falls forward, stumbling toward Bridget. The pistol swings up at the same moment, aimed for the spot between Bridget's eyeballs. The smug smirk of self satisfaction pastes on Jain's face. "Then I'll lay claim to you, Bridget Ross, as payment. He's no good to me, she's under your protection, but you…"

His eyes flit toward the floor and then back up to Bridget's face. "You can consider that one, a direct order."

Bridget doesn't waist time, once the girl isn't shielding him, she fires toward the man's chest. Once the bullet's free of her gun, though, she grabs for the girl, not to comfort her, but to give her a shove back in the direction of her family. She's not expecting there to be just one shot fired, perhaps.

Which may also be part of why she moves, so that it isn't her head in his line of fire when he decides to pull the trigger.

The girl screams.

Not from of the horror that's been inflicted in the house but two marks on her calf and a bit of blood trickling down toward her ankle. She falls to her knees, looking up at Bridget as the poison overtakes her, silently pleading for help. She's not ready to die.

There's surprise on Jain's face as he stumbles backward and then land in a seated position at the table. Hand to his chest, he peels it away just slightly to see the blood and then coughs out a laugh. "I didn't know you had it in you, Ross, I'd have taken you instead…" He coughs again, this time bringing up a bit of blood. "…instead of them."

It's the father's turn to cry out now, holding his ankle to protect a wound much the same as the now dead girl's. In the shadows of the room, the diamond scaled back of an asp disappears into the wall.

Bridget is suddenly faced with screaming and wounds all over, but her steps take her over to Jain first, her hand coming to press his back against the wound, as if the gesture might help hold him together. Her expression shows upset for the first time since she came in, and she shakes her head at his words before she actually looks at his face.

"You couldn't just let it go," she says, fixing him with a tight frown. "I didn't want to shoot you." She means that, too, but she backs away from him a moment later, to turn her attention to helping the family. As best she can, anyway.

The market bustles with people, tall, small, thick, thin, all looking for others to trade with in order to get what they need for the day. One man with wild blond hair curling out in too many directions to count, pushes his way through toward the edge. To a woman standing with her arms crossed and a pistol on her hip.

"Ross," Jain smiles, looming in a little closer and ducking his head as if about to connect his lips to hers. But he doesn't. At the last second, he gives a wide smile and feints to the side, twisting into a stand next to her. There's a pistol on his hip as well, the claymore he's known to carry around mysteriously missing from his possession. "I've a job, it's a private affair… care to join me?"

Bridget doesn't shy away as he ducks his head, which likely means the gesture wouldn't be unwelcome, but she doesn't attempt to complete it herself. Probably because she's always a little embarrassed and unsure when it comes to such things. The way her cheeks flush when he moves away certainly implies that much. But his smile brings hers up as well, even if it is subdued in comparison. That's just Bridget.

She's got a pistol as well, but her other weapons are out of sight, which means no sword for her, either. and no crossbow. Perhaps she finds the gun a better deterrent to crime within the town itself. "I'm due a break," she says in acceptance. "What sort of job?"

"Debt collection, there's a man that owes a considerable amount to one of the farmers on the outskirts." Jain's tone is as easy as the swagger in his walk as he leads the woman around through the throng of shoppers. "He's been spending it all on drink and medicines. Though by the amount of time he's been spending around one of the girls at the Dovetail, I don't think it's a traditional type of herbal cure he's looking for."

Perhaps just liquor and drugs.

"Anyway, the farmer's requested we either bring the payment for his goods or he'll allow one of them to work off the debt… fair trade, I s'pose, aye?" He gives a glance in Bridget's direction along with a hand on her shoulder, guiding her toward the more derelict part of town. "He's got a daughter, probably the only one strong enough to survive a winter on a farm. I believe the rest have that blood sickness, he's no good… he'll just lie around and drink himself to a death. If we take the girl, she'll get a good home, food, and honest work."

Bridget walks along beside him, head tilted as he explains. There's a frown deepening the more of the tale she hears, a mild disapproval of the father growing in that expression.

"Poor girl. Sins of the father, all that," she says, a hand moving to her hip. The injustice of it might sting her a bit, but so, too, for the farmer. Knowing her, she'll probably make a habit of running out to check on the girl, now and then. "Let me explain it to her, aye?" It's possible she thinks Jain might be a bit gruff. Imagine that!

"Of course, I'll leave you with her while I deal with him, then?" Jain's hand crosses Bridget's back to rest loosely on her other shoulder. A gesture of friendly affection more than romantic, after all, they've been working together for years.

His free hand rises to rub the back of his neck and he juts his chin toward one of the houses at the far end of the mud road. "Over there, I'll let you knock and go in first. I have the writs of debt in my pocket, I'll give them to him while you and the girl pack her things. Don't bring anything too worn and ragged, I'm sure she won't want to keep such things where she's going."

Pulling a few leather strips from his pocket, he counts them up and shows them to Bridget. "Once we're all done here, meet me at the Albatross and I'll buy you a drink and we'll split the take."

Whatever amount the farmer is willing to pay for the beggar's daughter, but the good Miss Ross doesn't need to know that.