Speaking In Certainties

Title: Speaking In Certainties
Time Period: April 10, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: The blacksmith catches Mariah in a moment of something sort of almost like honesty. Ish.

It is a simple exchange of goods for services. As simple as sex can be, but Mariah prides herself on being able to keep it as simple as possible. Most of the time. The lockbox sits in tis place in her wardrobe, still empty, where Niall set it hours before. But as the sun starts to peek over the horizon, Mariah is just leaning over from under the sheets to reach for a silky robe.

As per usual, she hasn't slept. But that's okay, neither has her companion for the evening. Fair's fair. "I don't suppose you'd be interested in a cup of coffee," she offers in lieu of a good morning or good night or whatever greetings and farewells she exchanges with other clients. But he knows her routine well enough to know it is something of a signal.

In another day and age, it would have been a cigarette perhaps. But in this coming day and with this pair, coffee is in itself a luxury had by those with favors and ties to the merchant kind. Niall shifts himself with physical reluctance, head turning out of polite regard for the woman dressing; regardless of the circumstances only hours prior being anything but. His gaze lands on the sturdy lockbox his hand crafted with his tools of his trade. Its lock is hidden cleverly amongst the shallow decorative engravings along the sides of the box, with a rotate-and-slide panel covering the keyhole.

"Coffee's good," accepts the blacksmith, verbal nod encased by another more obvious hint of something else sitting fat on his tongue. The phrase hops out like a frog with an ungainly plop onto the conversational floor. "It was different this time, wasn't it?"

Mariah turns to look back at him at that comment, a frog which was so recently the elephant in the room. Her hands finish tying off her robe, though, before she answers, as if her mouth needed the chore finished before it could speak. "Different?"

It's a word of both caution and warning. Thin ice. Hot coals. Slick roads ahead. And worse, it's stopped her from going downstairs to get coffee, at least for the moment. "How'd you mean, different?" Complaints are a rare thing in this room and usually come from the sort looking to swindle. Which she's fair certain isn't the case, but it's tossed her a bit off balance all the same.

In the years of being a loyal customer of the Dovetail, Niall has had a fair share of different. Variety, they say, and spice. "Well, you know." He pushes up to a sit, eyes swinging back to the now enrobed. "Just… different." The man grasps at the tenuous answer that will keep him safe from fire and ice, but now that she's taken notice too, he pushes the boulder closer to the edge, if only to be able to see around it. "Just felt like you had something in the back of your mind. You're usually so… focused." For one who's hardly minced words, he's proceeding cautiously - have to maintain that working relationship amongst other things!

It's a narrow-eyed gaze that watches him, hands moving to her hips for a long moment. But it passes with her waving the little accusation off, "I think it's been too long for you, Smithy," she says, her smile crooked as she looks over at him. It, too, is a little off. Whatever denial routine she's going through on the surface, underneath she's taken it more to heart. Examining, perhaps.

Instead of looking at him, exactly, she walks the room to collect discarded clothes, his specifically. When she comes over to him, her attention goes to laying them out neatly. "Are you saying you were unhappy with the service?" A little more business than usual, that.

Niall scratches at a bit of stubble on his cheek as he comes underneath that gaze, not uncomfortable but certainly not at ease. Soon after the woman's deflection, though, he shoots a narrow eyed gaze of his own. "Oi, I like to think I remember the song and the dance pretty damn well still," he fires back as he finally gets up and out of the bed. As Mariah goes to lay his clothes down and questions him more curtly, he pauses. As if seriously considering his answer, the blacksmith eventually lays his calloused hand on hers atop his shirt, and looks her more closely in face and eye.

"Now you know me better'n that, Mariah," he replies after the long, examining pause. "I don't have anything to be complaining about tonight. And, it hasn't been so long. You know it, I know it."

In the end, Mariah looks over at him with a more genuine smile, and she sits down next to him, letting her hand linger under his. "I dare say you remember the song and dance well, aye," she says, leaning in to press a kiss to his cheek. "I suppose it hasn't been terribly long. Any bit of distance, though," she says, her free hand reaching up to touch his other cheek softly. But briefly.

"You'll have to forgive me. I'm having a bit of a… seven year itch." At five years. Never mind the puzzle of what a seven year itch even means when you're a prostitute, but she'll always stand by a Marilyn Monroe reference.

Niall stills beneath the kiss, a smile returning to the corner of his lips as well. It dims slightly in favor of getting back to the business of putting his clothes back on, now that she's arranged them. After donning at least the pair of pants and shirt that will make him presentable enough to the outer world, he carries on, "What's that going to mean?" The wonder is there; indeed, what does the phrase mean to the exact opposite of, well. "You're… thinking of getting out of here?"

Mariah isn't shy about watching as he gets dressed, what with the front row seats she's got and everything. And there's just a little wistful sigh once he's decent again. She sits up straighter, the question getting a bit of a furrowed brow from her.

"No. Well, maybe? I haven't entirely worked it out yet. You know what it's like, trying to make your own way in this town. When I came here, I didn't have any plans beyond… not starving," she says with a bit of a chuckle, "But It's been long since I was in danger of that and I'm feeling… Unsettled, I suppose."

Niall sits back onto the bed - handy seat, that - and leans towards her, elbows settled on his knees and hands intertwining his fingers. "Good. I mean, good that you haven't entirely worked out the whole leaving thing," he remarks, head tilting slightly to the side in studying her. But not judgingly. "But feeling unsettled, that's something else to prod your thinkin' meats about. And that's something to take care of quick, because that feeling doesn't shrink as time goes on. Trick is to know what it is that's burrowed back there." Though he doesn't ask, Niall certainly doesn't hide the curiosity perking his brows.

"I shouldn't be saying any of this to you. Are all Irishmen such good listeners?" Mariah being English, they really should be a more volatile pair. But, as he goes on, she takes a moment to run a hand through mussed hair. It doesn't do much good for taming it, but it's a nice try. "It's a matter of the fact that there's something out there that I think could make me deliriously happy. Or… might crash and burn at my feet. But I'm hoping the former. But the point is, I can't try for it properly while I'm here. But here is… safe and profitable and… familiar." Risk free. "And I'm a pragmatic person. Risks have to be calculated or you might put more down on the table than you can stand to lose. But, at the same time, shouldn't be all be deliriously happy, even just once in our lives?" But the fact stands. She's nervous.

"When the occasion calls for it, we Irishmen are the best listeners. Isn't our fault the English were never good at hearing anybody but themselves," Niall answers readily, no small amount of classic Irish teasing poking through. All seriousness comes back, however, as she describes (vaguely) what's on her mind. The blacksmith leans back, elbows moving to rest on the soft cushions of the bed. His head tilts back as he considers, then muses aloud, "From how you speak of it though? Hints at love. Doesn't it?" Eyes flick downward towards her over the ridges of his cheeks. "And that, Mariah, is the worst kind of good thing that could happen to a decent person."

"Hey now, that's my noble ancestry you're poking at. Half of it, anyway." The other half being the French half. When he lays back, Mariah watches through a corner of her eye right up until he makes that guess. "Love," she repeats, as if surprised. "I think I would be the world's official worst prostitute if that were the case." She shifts to lay down, too, with a sigh that's just a little too dreamy. Just a bit. Luckily, she's got a more wry expression by the time she's propped up on her side next to him, robe doing very little for the case of modesty. "Plenty of decent people fall in love, you know. But I'm afraid I can hardly be called a decent person." In a manner of speaking. "And falling in love with a prostitute, that's just asking to be the centerpiece of some sort of romantic tragedy. I read enough to know."

Niall chuckles wryly on the part about noble ancestry as his eyes drift down the lines of her robe. With the goods being on display, well, the man can look right? As long as she lets him. The dreamy sigh turns his gaze to her lovelier-than-his face. "Aye, and you don't have to know how to read much to know the stories of where love can lead." The man doesn't make too much of his lack of literary skill, anyway. He leans in closer, conspiratorially venturing, "Who's the poor bastard, then? A kiss and tell, for this poor bastard who's going to lose a great dance partner?"

"You're speaking in certainties," Mariah points out, because it's something she's not quite ready for yet. "And I didn't say it was love, in any case. Could be a wonderful employment opportunity. Or perhaps a touch of wanderlust, aye? And you should know by now. I kiss, but never tell." But as for the former, she leans in toward him, lips pressing against his, passionate if only to prove she can stay focused. At least for a little while. Her hand slips back under his shirt, to run over scarred tissue and blacksmith's muscles. Not exactly like it might be the last, but maybe with a touch of that type of urgency there all the same.

To show he isn't totally full of certainty, Niall gives up a shrug and a lightly disarming smile. "I don't see why it couldn't be all of those things," he says, following along up until where she leans in for another embrace. As her hand runs up his back across the flogging scars and labor-hardened muscles, he rolls over to press himself closer against the thin cloth barely separating the pair. And it soon becomes fairly certain that coffee will just have to wait a while longer.