The Dragon's Fang

Title: The Dragon's Fang
Time Period: December 26, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: While checking in on at the farm, Cas and Mairi exchange Christmas presents and they promise to save each other a dance.

The sun sets early in the colder months of the year, requiring homes to light candles and lanterns and other forms of illumination to scare off the darkness. It's not long after the sky has turned from gray, to a deeper gray, to the deep black of a cloudy night shy when a set of boots can be heard upon the porch of the Fairbairn farm house.

Cas leans to peak at the window as if he might catch signs of movement, before he knocks firmly on the door, bundled up in one of his thicker coats (warm if patched in many places) and a long red scarf wrapped around his neck. Even a dark brown hair is plopped on his head, as if that might help keep him warm. There's no sign of a torch or other light. If he's travelled at night as much as he said, he must be good at adjusting to movement in the dark.

There are times like this that Mairi is really curious about Dina Ross' mention of electricity. Her house is softly lit, the widow herself sitting at the table and mending everything that seems to have holes—it's something she's been meaning to do, but she never has time during the day, so she's forced to make due when the light has fallen.

Mairi is slightly startled at the sound of knocking, mostly as it's unexpected, and her gaze shifts over to the dragon's skull that sits at a side table. The redheaded woman blinks at it, then looks to the door, getting to her feet. The door swings open and she's once again given over to a look of surprise, though one that spawns a warm smile. "Cas. It's good to see you."

"Is it?" Cas asks with a sheepish smile that shows off dimples even as he raises his arms in kind of a boyish gesture. Almost a shrug. "I think it's better to see you, personally. Can I come in? It's not exactly toasty out here— rather cold actually. I would have shown up earlier but I actually had work today— and tomorrow too— I only just finished working when I set out to come visit."

There's a pause as he turns around to look out into the black of night and the cold that's welcoming him when he has to hurry back to his job in the dark. Or mostly in the dark. Even if he waits til morning, the sun rises late, and his work will be starting not long after that.

"Better to see me? Clearly the light's a bit dim if we're both thinking that," Mairi teases softly, but she takes a step back, slightly embarrassed. "Oh, I can't believe I left you standing there. Please, Cas, come in. I'll make Stalwart come warm your lap." She looks back into the darkness outside, waiting until he's inside before she shuts the door. "Come sit by the fire with me."

She moves to a side room for a moment, returning with the kitten a moment later. Stalwart blinks with sleepy eyes as he's scooped up by Mairi and returned to the main room. Her free hand drags chairs closer to the fire, and the kitten is set down in the chair across from her so that Cas can settle with a kitten companion. "I'm very glad you came."

"Stalwart, huh? I still haven't figured out where this little guy came from," Cas says, moving inside and removing his coat first and setting it down across the back of the chair. His clothes underneath are mostly blacks and browns, a button up shirt and a vest, with the scarf giving most of the color.

"Whoa— is that? You kept the skull?" he says when his eyes fall on the dragon's skull, leaning opting to look at it instead of sitting down to have the kitten in lap, almost as if he's trying to imagine it when it was still moving around. "This thing must have been huge. Did Ser Wartooth bring you back this prize?"

Mairi looks over at the skull, a small grin across her features. "Jorn brought it to me, yes. He wasn't sure if it was a proper present, but I wanted to keep it. I figure it will scare off unwanted guests, most likely." The mention of the skull, however, has her on her feet again. "That reminds me…" She heads over to a corner, pulling open a drawer before she returns with one of the dragon teeth hung from a leather cord.

Moving over next to him, she offers it forward. "I wanted to give you this. For courage. Perhaps it will bring you luck in case you run into any trouble." She looks at the skull. "This is supposedly a young one… pretty incredible, isn't it?"

"Oh— that's— are you sure you want to give this to me? I bet you could trade it for a lot," Cas says, holding the cord in his hand while letting the tooth itself rest in the palm of his other. It's heavier than he might have suspected it to be, too.

"This is a late Christmas present, nh," he says quietly in his strange southern accent. It takes a few moments before he clasps his hand around it and returns to his coat, digging around inside it. "I'm not good at the whole… Christmas thing. Which is kind of funny really— " For reasons he doesn't explain. "It's not a very good present, but…" His hand hesitates as he touches something, then he shakes his head and shuffles around in the pocket somemore, pulling out something rather small.

"Here," he holds it out— a small pendant in a celtic star design in some kind of pale metal. Possibly steel, possibly silver.

"Of course I want to give it to you. It seems perfect for you," Mairi insists before she looks back to him. "Christmas is just a day with a present or two and good company." She stretches out her hand and takes the pendant, studying it in her palm with a small smile. "You're a liar," she says. "This is a good present, and you are good at this." She closes her hand around the pendant.

"I could be a lot better at it— I could have given it to you yesterday," Cas says with a small smile, even a hint of a sheepish laugh in his voice. He still looks embarassed even as he looks around the room, before he puts the dragon tooth necklace around his neck. "Sorry you won't be able to wear that til you get a strap for it, but— "

There's that handshrug again, as he moves over to that chair finally, to sit, and take the small companion creature. Who gets his fur ruffled affectionately. "He hasn't grown much yet. Keep looking for his mom or his brothers or sisters, but still haven't found 'em yet."

Mairi smiles all the same, turning the pendant over in her palm before she moves to sit back down in front of the fire. Stalwart mews at the ruffle, but complacently settles in Cas' lap. The widow looks towards the fire. "Perhaps Stalwart's all on his own. Maybe his family's gone," she suggests. "I think since you haven't found anything… it's probably safe to say he's the only one."

Mairi laughs. "Are you secretly hoping you'll find a kitten of your own?"

"An orphan would be sad," Cas says, genuinely looking sad as he holds up the little critter close to his face, with his hands on the middle. Their noses touch lightly, before he settles the kitten back onto his lap.

"Good thing he has you, then— and you have him. I— yeah, I guess I wouldn't mind having a kitten, or any animal really, but I'd have to make sure it's okay with the boss first— I just didn't want them to freeze, or get accidentally trampled if they were in hay."

There's a guilty smile that seems to say he would have liked to find them and try to talk his boss or his boss' wife into letting him keep one.

"Not having family—it's a sad thing indeed. But me and Stalwart have each other, so I'm sure we'll both be alright," Mairi says, looking towards him and the kitten. She's still smiling, albeit a little sad. "Perhaps you could convince them to let you have a pet. All kinds of things are born in the spring and I bet if you figure something out that would work best around the stables, you could argue for it. Aislinn is a kind woman… I'm sure she could be persuaded and convince her husband in turn."

"I'm trying not to make a bad impression on him— the boss— so I probably won't ask about it," Cas admits, even if his mouth bunches up on the side in a thoughtful way. "I mean I know you'd help me out with a job if I did get kicked out, but… I hink Rowntree is more my kind of place. I really like it there." Even after only the first few months.

"Besides, you need the company more than me. I have many horses to take care of." Even if the horses can't curl up on his chest in his bunk with him. But one can't have everything.

Mairi smiles, looking between him and the kitten. "I'm sure you've made a good impression on him. You haven't gotten fired, which means you're doing just fine. Stalwart keeps me good company in the evenings, though. It's a job that suits you, I'm glad you're there. Really, I'm glad you're in Dornie and sticking around."

Stalwart purrs softly, his head inclining just slightly to observe his mistress, who has resumed staring into the fire. She holds her hands out to the fire, warming them a little. "I think you're making Dornie a good home," Mairi says. "You're doing well and you'll keep doing well here, if I can wager a guess."

"He may not fire me til Spring, cause that's when new hands show up," Cas says in a self-deprecating way that seems almost a joke from his smile. Maybe it's not. "Until then he'll likely keep me through the winter just cause I'd be difficult to replace."

The purring makes him keep petting, as if he can make the kitten purr even more. Certainly doesn't want him to purr less. "I'm glad you got confidence in me, at least. I— I really only stopped by cause— are you going to that New Years dance thing?"

Mairi's hands stay up near the fire. Mostly because she feels the need to occupy them with something. "If he fires you in the spring, I will hire you on. You can stick around here until he finds you another opening. If anyone deserves a job there, it's you. You may be difficult to replace now, but when all the hands show up… you make sure you're still difficult to replace. Training new hands can be hard. Why take a risk on someone new when you have someone familiar and capable already there?"

His words regarding the dance have the widow smiling softly. "I am. I've got a dress I'm mending just for it," Mairi has actually brightened at the topic. "I don't take many opportunities to get out and have fun, so I certainly wouldn't miss it. Are you going, Cas?"

The subject of his job just gets a smile while she talks, though something about it seems as if he may start arguing with her, so it's better he doesn't. After all, Cas isn't quite as confident as she is— The subject of the dance seems easier to talk about.

"Yes— yes I am, going. No idea what I'll wear yet— probably my paisley shirt, nice pants and a mask, but I'll see what I can come up with. Colorful paisley bandit person could work…" Though he sounds doubtful. "I'm glad you're going, though. I keep saying you need to get out more, and this is a good chance to." He looks toward the clothes that are sperad out. "What are you going as?"

"We make do with what we've got," Mairi says with a small smile. Paisley bandit… at least she'll be able to recognize him. "I saw a picture in a book—Alice in Wonderland. So I thought since I have a blue dress I'd do that and just wear an apron over it. I'm going to make a mask, though, but I haven't decided what I'll do with it. Maybe I'll make something with feathers. I know it's not a terribly clever costume, but I don't really have very many options."

"Oh, I remember that story. — someone read it to me once," Cas says, smiling widely as he remembers that particular thing. "I don't remember much— crazy cats, smoking caterpilars and mad hatters and stuff, but it seemed like it must have been a really important story back in the old world. Had lots of words I didn't understand."

Such is the way of things. "It had a kitten in it too, didn't it? You could take Stalwart in a basket or something. I bet he'd love to go."

Mairi actually giggles. It's something she's not used to doing and hasn't really in a while, but it's not quite a laugh and not enough of a chuckle to really be termed as such. Her smile is broad at the idea of Stalwart in a basket. "Yes, I believe she has a kitten! And I know Stalwart would be cross with me if I left him at home and went dancing without him. You're right about the book, though. I didn't quite understand everything but I could figure out what the story was, at least. I don't know that anyone will figure it out, but I suppose it doesn't matter what I wear as long as it is nice and I have a mask."

The kitten is suddenly lifted up so that Cas can look him in the eyes again, "Can I have permission to dance with Lady Alice, Ser Stalwart the brave Knight Kitten of Wonderland?" It comes out as terribly cheesy, but genuine, and he looks over the kitten's ears to the woman he's actually asking permission from. Mostly cause he doesn't know the kitten would actually be able to understand to voice an opinion on it.

There's a mewl from Stalwart as he stares at Cas. The kitten's paw comes out to bat at Cas' nose, which seems to be Stalwart's answer to everything. Mairi laughs, her eyes moving from the kitten, back to Cas. "He says that you may. He likes you so he'll allow it." Perhaps that actually is a translation of Stalwart's words, but at the very least, it's what Mairi claims he says. "And I would be very happy to dance with you, Cas. I am sure you will be a dashing paisley bandit."

The nose bap earns a sound that's almost a little hoot equivalent of a laugh. Cas didn't expect that, and looks back and lowers the kitten, touching his nose where he was batted as he smiles across the way at Mairi. "I look forward to the dance. And I promise not to steal your whole night away."

Mairi laughs again as she watches Stalwart and Cas, her gaze lingering on the two with a genuinely happy look on her face. "You are more than welcome to take a nice slice of my night. I only know a few I believe I may dance with and I would like my night to be as packed as full of fun as I can. It's going to be a long winter, so I'd like to make the enjoyment last as long as I can."

"I only know a few people at all, but I intend to dance with most of them— " There's a pause and his nose wrinkles as Cas suddenly thinks of something, "'Cept Ser Wartooth, that might be weird. Or me boss of course. Also weird, but if a different way. But there's a couple I'll be dancing with, yourself included. As long as they like dancing— I've always been a fan of dancing, just don't get to do it much."

The widow laughs at the thought of Cas and Jorn sharing a dance and it leaves an amused look on her face. That's an image she won't soon forget. "Do not worry," Mairi says. "I'll be sure to dance with him on your behalf. But you're right, I'm a fan of dancing, but it isn't exactly very practical to go dancing in the fields or around with cows. Singing, on the other hand, I can do just fine. Calms my cows, now that they're used to it."

"Only songs I know are really… odd," Cas says with a laugh, scratching at his cheek as he starts to move to stand up, pulling the kitten up against his chest for the moment, stroking the back of his neck. "But me mum and little sis used to think I could sing. Or at least she made me sing more than my brothers."

He looks toward the door and hesitates a moment before adding, "I should probably go. I really did just stop in to make sure you were going and talk you into it if you weren't. And exchanging presents was a bonus."

"Maybe I'll teach you some songs, Cas," Mairi says, watching as Stalwart seems content to purr against Cas' chest. "It was good to see you. And I'm glad you came by—I had honestly thought of not going, but who knows when I'll get the opportunity again to go dancing and dress up. I don't have many excuses to." She looks towards the door. "Are you going to be alright getting home in the dark?" She asks with concern.

"We'll have to do that, definitely," Cas says, moving closer to her as she speaks concern. It is one he might share, from the way he sheepishly follows her eyes. "I'll be fine— really. I have a place to go to besides trying to find a comfortable tree or bramble patch." His smile is boyish, but not as confident as he's trying to sound as he holds the kitten out to her to take.

Mairi takes the kitten for a moment, then looks at him again, seriously. "Are you sure? I don't want to send you out in the dark, especially walking alone. Are you sure you don't want to stay and leave at dawn? I could always ride out with you so you don't have to walk…" She sets Stalwart down on the table as she regards him with concern.

"I'd have to be back before the sun's up, cause that's when I'm expected out in the stables— I wouldn't want to make you ride in the dark too." Cas says quietly, though there's a hint of hesitation in the way he says it, as if he might reconsider as he glances over at the dragon skull.

It doesn't last cause when he looks back at her, he takes in a slow breath. "No, I— really should. I got a tooth to keep me safe now, right?"

"Stalwart can keep me safe and both horses know the way back… they've done it for years. It wouldn't be a problem," Mairi tugs on her lower lip with her teeth, still watching him. "Whatever you feel is best. I'd rather you be comfortable and safe." She does, after a moment, smile. "But you're right. You do have the tooth. It will protect you, you know."

"Never heard of a kitten riding a horse before, but there's a first time for everything," Cas says in a joking manner, looking over at the great Knight Stalwart, who could possibly find a way to keep her safe on the way back. But maybe couldn't, either.

"It's not gonna snow on me, right?" he asks, perhaps without quite thinking on what he's asking. Or maybe he does from the way he looks back at her, more serious, and with a slight tilt of his head.

"It won't," Mairi says. "It won't snow for the next couple of days, so I think we'll be safe until at least New Years." She pauses, then her expression shifts slightly. "I mean, it's not likely to snow." There's a sheepish smile. "My old joints don' ache or anything." It's a playful tease, though much more to cover up her flushed cheeks at her own words. "I'm sure Stalwart's the fastest kitten, he'll be able to keep up."

For some reason her teasing and hint of flushing seems to have a strange effect on him. Or at least he seems almost as flustered as she feels. Cas opens his mouth, starts to say something, and then backs away toward where he put his coat and focuses on pulling it back on. "I'll trust your old joints then, and expet no major snow til after the party. Which is great— I'd hate for it to get canceled due to snow."

His words are absent, almost rambled, as he rewraps the scarf to cover his neck to the chin and looks back from under his brimmed hat. "I look forward to seeing you in the blue dress with Stalwart in tow, Mairi."

Mairi's cheeks remained flushed, following him towards the door as he prepares to leave. She brushes her hair back out of her face, offering him a nod before she looks to the doorway. "I'll look for you. It'll be hard to miss me and Stalwart," she says, a quick look around to make sure he hasn't forgotten anything. "There's no way it'll get cancelled. Everyone will have a fantastic time, I'm sure of it…" She clears her throat, just slightly. "Thank you for visiting me, Cas."

"Next time I'll bring a couple fish for you," Cas says after a moment of almost awkward silence, as if he's waiting for something, or perhaps forgetting how to actually leave.

Or maybe he's just hoping it will be warmer when he steps outside. Either way, he looks back at the kitten on the table, holding up his hand in a wave, before looking back at Mairi. "I'll— see you later," he says, moving closer as if he might kiss her on the cheek again as he did when she visited him on the farm with lunch. Then he seems to rock right back to where he was and turn around to open the door instead. "Take care," he adds with his back to her, as he hurries out into the cold night. He probably won't get very far til his eyes adjust, but he can use the light from the door for the first steps.

Mairi's red cheeks remain, but when he's abruptly rocking backwards and heading out the door, she blinks in surprise. Her hand comes to rest on the open door as the light from the house casts upon the dirt in front and on Cas' retreating form. "Take care, Cas," she calls. "I'll look for you at the dance!"

She lingers by the door, letting the dim light continue to pour out of the house. Mairi stays there until long after he's gone, when the cold finally forces her to shut the door and return to her work.