Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

Title: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
Time Period: January 21, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: He really should come with some sort of warning label.

Early evening finds most inn residents in the tavern, but of late Beisdean has been scarcely seen, coming and going like the uninvited guests that visit him — silently and sometimes almost invisibly. He takes his meals in his rooms when he can, or skips them altogether and eats something he'd brought back from the Fairbairn farm or picked up in the marketplace.

Tonight he has a simple meal of stew before him, procured from the kitchen in exchange for a bit of flattery and a few apples from the farm. This he eats with a chunk of bread while reading, careful not to get crumbs or droplets of broth on the pages.

Shakespeare's been through quite a lot, with pages wripped and ink smudged by oily fingertips, of late.

Mariah really meant to go straight up to see him, really. But she had to pass through the tavern and there were drinks and sailors and by the time she eventually gets to his door, she's a bit drunk. With her is a large, ungainly package wrapped in muslin. For all that she herself is unsteady, that has been kept safe.

The knock at his door is a bit too loud, and Mariah unthinkingly leans right against it as she waits for an answer. "Are you there, Beisdean?" She doesn't announce who it is, but she must assume her voice is recognizable enough.

The knock makes him jump, brows dipping into a frown. Visitors are uncommon, and the last ones were none too kind. But he smiles when he hears the voice that follows the rap of knuckles on wood, and he sets his bookmark in place before rising and moving toward the door.

"Coming," is not much of a warning as it comes just before he swings the door open.

And honestly, she's not in a state to process even a timely warning. So when the door opens, Mariah stumbles right into him. Which is better than falling onto the floor, anyway.

"Whoa there," she says with a bit of a laugh and she pushes herself back up to her own two feet. Her gaze flicks over to the door, her brow furrowing as if this were all its fault. She straightens her bodice unnecessarily and looks back his way with a broad smile. "Beisdean!" Like she's surprised to see him… in his own room. "I've got something of yours," she turns a bit to gesture to the package in the hall, leaning against the wall.

"Careful there," Beisdean says, reaching to steady her, hand catching her at the elbow and not letting go before he's sure her balance is restored. The package is eyed and he raises a brow.

"All right. Come on in and have a seat, if you like?" He gestures to the room while going to the hall to pick up the parcel, carrying it in and setting it in a corner. He doesn't unwrap it but stares at it for a moment, the size and shape easy enough to discern. "So we've been cast out, have we? Even my image offends her?" he says, then turns away to look at Mariah. "Thank you. You're welcome to stay a bit but if you've other engagements, I understand."

Mariah gives him a little gesture to let him know she's alright once she's up again, but it's pretty clear she's not exactly steady. So when he offers a seat, she is all too willing. "Brilliant," she says, to the offer before she takes a few careful steps in to find a chair for herself. So much better, sitting down.

She glances toward the painting when he brings it in, and there's a little frown for a moment. "It's all or nothing with Luna, you know that. Which extreme sits better with you, ey? Plus. It doesn't belong with her, frankly. It belongs with you." Not that they all didn't love Slainte, but only one of them can actually claim her.

"I'd like to stay, if you don't mind. At least until I can walk down the stairs without stumbling. That'd be far too embarrassing for a woman of my profession."

"You're welcome to stay," he says quietly, pushing the door closed with a small thud. "And no, it doesn't, not really. She had it commissioned, I guess from memory, I don't know. My mum and I, we never sat for a painter or anything. It's not a bad likeness of her, though I don't really recall what I looked like at the age I look to be in the portrait."

He returns to his own seat, the stew pushed aside. "As for extremes, I don't know. I said I'd stay clear of her, which means what, she has to black out my existence entirely I guess. If it's better for her ego, it suits me fine. I never mean to hurt her, but I somehow always do. It's rough, to have someone's broken heart and spirit on you conscience when you never asked to be responsible for them. I'm barely responsible for my self, aye? It's a good thing the familiars can take care of themselves, or Darklight probably would have starved ages ago."

He pulls out his flask to offer to her, despite the fact she's supposed to be sobering for stair descending in the future.

"Luna did?" Mariah looks back over to the painting, but the facts really don't seem to change her opinion of where it belongs or doesn't. But then, she is very drunk.

"She'll cool off, eventually," she notes, which she may or may not actually believe, "It's all just very fresh at the moment. It'll level off. Time. Wounds. All that. You can't let yourself carry every perceived wrong, you'll go crazy." Which she may have learned by experience with Luna's perceptions over the years.

The flask makes her smile again, though, and she takes it regardless of her intentions moments ago. "You're encouraging terrible behavior here, you know that, don't you?" But even so, she takes a drink. And a rather long one this time, even if it still does make her cough after.

"Some people think I already am," Beisdean says, taking the flask for a swallow of his own. "I envy you both, you know. You, Luna… anyone who can have a normal life without worrying about invisible people showing up for dinner."

He shrugs a shoulder. "Let's don't talk of Luna or ghosts or … what don't you want to talk about it, we can put it on the list, too." He quirks a smile at her. "It might make for a short list of things we can, though. Aside from Shakespeare."

He pushes the flask her way again.

That sentiment gets a wry, clumsy laugh from Mariah, although it's far from a mirthful sound. "We're not the people to envy." She doesn't explain why not, though, because the flask is in her hand again and she hadn't actually notice it missing in the first place.

"Let's add family and magic in a general… sense to the list and we should have most of the unpleasantness filed away, aye?" She drinks again, coughing less this time, thankfully. Perhaps it's growing on her. It does take her a moment, once she's set it down again, to think of a topic that would be safe enough.

But she claps her hands together when she's got one, and they spread apart as she notes, "I'm going to do Constance's little play, as it turns out. I hear you dodged around joining in, though."

His brows knit and he tips his head, clearly bemused. "Constance's play…" he repeats, trying to remember. "Oh! The Rowntree girl. She mentioned something, but it was on my first or second day in town. I don't really remember," he says, leaning back in his chair so that it tips against the small table, and resting his long legs on the bed across the way.

"What play is that? Are you to be the leading lady? I'm sure you'll perform beautifully. If I'm still in town whenever it's put on, I'll come watch."

"That's the one," she says with a snap of her fingers as he identifies the right girl. "Oh, I've no idea what play. She doesn't either. I'm secretly hoping for Midsummer, you know. I don't think I'll go for the leading lady, though. Perhaps Titania. Or maybe there won't be enough men and I'll take Puck, then." There's a pause there before she laughs a bit and adds, "If she picks something else, I've no idea what I'll do. There's only a million other choices, but I like my chances."

While she doesn't tip back her chair, she does lift her feet up to rest on the table, and she gives him a dry look. "Truth be told, I only agreed because she's trying to rope Cas Blackburn in. But it should be good fun anyway. I was a little surprised she bothered coming out to ask my lot to join in."

He raises a brow as she speaks. "Shakespeare with a lot of amateurs sounds like an exercise in frustration, or possibly an epic battle that might result in unforeseen comedy and tragedy, no matter which play she chooses," he says with a laugh.

As for Cas Blackburn, Beisdean raises both brows in both amusement and surprise. "The stable kid?" Blackburn's his age, or close to it, but seems younger to Beisdean. "I see. How interesting." His tone is teasing, but warm.

"As for me, the militia seems to think I'm somehow suspicious and asked me about my talking to Miss Rowntree — I've spoken to her once, maybe twice that I know of, but I wouldn't want to give them more fodder for their defamation of my character." His eyes dart down to poor Shakespeare's ripped pages.

"I know, but wouldn't it be so worth it?" Mariah laughs a bit there, shaking her head. "Perhaps she'll be more practical about it, though. she does seem to have her heart set on it being a success."

When he goes on, her brow furrows a bit as she protests, "He's not a kid anymore than you are, Beisdean. And what's interesting, nothing's interesting." She lets out an indignant sound that is automatically refuted by a rather bright smile that follows. "He's just lovely, is all." Indeed.

The news about the militia has her expression turning about, though, and she looks over at him with a bit of confusion. "You, suspicious? You're wearing a knit sweater. You need to be in leather for that."

"Mariah Larke has a crush," Beisdean croons, very maturely. "He's my age? He looks like a kid. Of course, I look ancient. Fucking ghosts. Got my first gray hairs at a wee twenty years of age."

He reaches up to run his hand through his hair. "And I can be plenty dangerous wearing a sweater. You've been watching 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' again? All bad guys don't wear black Stetsons, either, woman. Keep your stereotypes in check."

He laughs again, then lets his chair drop with a clunk against the floor. "I don't know, they came in demanding answers to bloody stupid questions and then left. Now I've managed to piss off one of probably three people who cared that I was back in town, I think I'll likely just pack up Iago and go when thaw comes. It's not worth the trouble, and I do better when people just think I'm mad instead of creepy."

Up on his feet, he moves to the looking glass, tipping his head to check out his silver temples. "Maybe it'll just stay at the temples. What do you think?" He may have inherited Slainte's vanity.

"That is a vicious slander, I can hardly believe you'd say such a thing," Mariah says, brushing a piece of her hair away from her face. It's completely believable, her denial.

"Well, they should, it would make things a lot easier," she says, pulling her feet down off the table. "I still say, you're not very dangerous. And I mean that in a good way. I'd leave my best jewelry alone in a room with you, if you follow me. However, I'm not sure leaving's the answer. Speaking as someone who was sort of a pariah for a time herself, sometimes you just have to power through it. Make them get a different impression, aye? Aye."

She stands up and despite wobbling steps and a general liquor-induced vertigo, she makes her way over to stand behind him at the mirror. She has to get up on her toes to peek over his shoulder, using a hand on his arm for balance. "I think," she starts, speaking to his reflection, "it looks quite attractive. And you know it's the truth, I'm too drunk to lie."

"I doubt you were a pariah. People might've avoided you because they didn't know what to say to a girl who'd lost everything, but I doubt they ever thought ill of you. There are people who won't look past the ghosts. Trust me — I was a different person entirely down in Clovelly — I had friends and ran a shop, and no one was afraid of me. They thought me a bit touched maybe, now and then, but that was the worst of it."

His blue eyes find hers in the mirror, and he tips his head toward hers peeking over his shoulder. "Well, if that's the truth, then I like you drunk," he says with a grin. "Tell me more."

"Alright, point. But there are plenty who think ill of me now, if that makes you feel better. The whole prostitute thing," she says, as if the reason wouldn't be obvious, and waves her hand a bit dismissively. By the slight curve of a smile, she's not really comparing the two, but rather, words are just spilling out. "You should just be who you are. Who cares if people think you're an odd duck, ey? They can't hardly understand what it's like to live with."

When he looks her way, though, she laughs a bit against his shoulder before lifting an eyebrow at him. "Oh come now. You know you're handsome, you hardly need me to tell you. I bet the girls in Clovelly made it plain enough," there's even a bit of singsong on the town's name.

His lips tip up. "Boys, too, but that doesn't mean I don't like to be told." He tugs her hair and takes another swig of whiskey. "I've got an ego to feed, after all. It's almost got as voracious an appetite as Darklight."

He presses the flask into her hand while ducking his head to brush her cheek with his lips, then moves to flop down on the bed. "I read a book once where people watched that television contraption in bed. Like, whatever movie they wanted, instead of the four or five we have on film, right on a box this big," he says, stretching his hands apart a couple of feet. "Can you imagine? Marilyn Monroe in your bedroom with ya." He smirks, eyes half closing with the heat and lull of the whiskey.

"Boys, too. Aren't you a lucky thing," Mariah says with a grin. "Well, I don't mind feeding your ego, so long as it doesn't get all chubby and slovenly."

She tilts her head a bit for that brush and smiles warmly in the few moments before she takes another drink. As if she needs another. But she turns around, to belatedly follow him over and drop onto the bed herself. There's even a moment where she looks at his hands, as if trying to imagine how it all must have been back then. "I can imagine that it must have been hard to keep a man's attention in those days. Most women can't compare to Marilyn, after all."

Her hands move behind her head and she looks up to the ceiling instead. "But I think I prefer the big screen, you know. Seems a waste, shoving everything onto something so small."

"Never chubby or slovenly. I imagine it a little taller than me, and perhaps a bit more muscular, if anything. Maybe less gray." His eyes sparkle, and he turns to rest on an arm to look down upon her.

"Most woman couldn't. She was glamorous and beautiful. But you've a brain, and you're beautiful. That goes far, aye?" He reaches to pull a strand of her hair through his fingers, then tucks it behind her ear, fingers lingering on the hook of her jaw. "Maybe not so glamorous. You're real — glamour's fake, after all. All sparkle and glitter and smoke and mirrors. Anyone can look glamorous in an evening gown and diamonds. I'd rather a real girl — or boy," his eyes sparkle with that secret, "with a real smile and a real laugh than someone who's just dolled up but faking it all."

Mariah looks up at him as he shifts, and her smile turns crooked, "I like the grey. Your ego is silly to shrug it off like that." She even reached up, where fingers brush over his temples.

"Oh, feeding my ego now, are we? Fair enough," she teases, her smile broadening for a moment. Just a moment, because the touch to her hair and lingering at her jaw does a fair job of shifting her demeanor. Her smile's gentler, her lids heavier, because who doesn't enjoy the close company of a handsome gentleman.

"You realize my profession is entirely built on faking it, right?" she says with an amused lift of an eyebrow. "I can be just as fake as all that, when the occasion calls for it. But to be honest, I prefer the diamonds." She pauses a beat before adding, "Mostly." His own secret, though, may come as a surprise, but it doesn't seem to shock her.

"No need to fake anything with me," Beisdean says with a lazy sort of grin, bending lower and letting his hand slide from her jaw to the back of her neck.

His eyes watch hers as he gets closer, flicking from left to right, before finally closing as he moves to brush her lips with his. "I don't have any diamonds, though," he breathes as he lifts his lips just enough to murmur the words against her mouth before dipping down for another kiss.

There are reasons why Mariah doesn't usually get out-and-out drunk, particularly when there are men about, one of the big ones being that it's a lot harder to be responsible with that swimming around in the veins.

And while she doesn't move to meet him for the kiss, her eyes close a lot sooner than his do while she anticipates the embrace. Her hand moves through his hair as she returns not just the first, but the second as well, her fingers entwining with the dark strands.

But she is the one to pull back first, although distance is limited by the bed below her. Her eyes open to look up at his, and her lips curve into a sly, crooked smile. "That knit sweater is completely misleading."

Beisdean raises up a little when she pulls back, a little reluctantly with a cat-like sigh. His mouth mirrors hers in a smirk while his hand slides from the back of her neck to caress her jaw, the thumb brushing over her lower lip where the cut is still healing.

"It's all right, because I plan to take it off, you know," he teases, eyes sparkling as he looks down at her through his half-closed eyes. "Then it won't confuse you any."

That gets a breathy laugh from her, quiet though it is. "I imagine you look plenty roguish without it, yes." Mariah's hand slowly lets go of his hair, but only moves so far as the back of his neck.

Her eyes close again, for just a moment, at the caressing, but when she opens them again, her expression is more wry. "Taking advantage of a poor, drunk female who just so happened to stumble into your room, honestly." It's hard to say she disapproves, though, given the smile that comes to her face, drunk on more than just liquor about now. "You're not allowed to seduce me, Beisdean. That costs extra."

He laughs, ducking his head to brush his lips along the curve of her neck. "Just so happened to come to my room, on an errand… and not for the first time, Mariah. Who's to say you're not seducing me?"

But, he rolls onto his back, letting her have her space. "Told you I don't have any diamonds, lass. Alas," Beisdean says with a cocky sort of grin, then sits up to pull off the sweater she's been mocking.

He tosses it onto a chair before lying back down, stretching out. He looks rather contented with himself for a moment, before raising his brows at her. "I'd let you seduce me for nothing, you know. I'd not even charge you for the whiskey." His cheeks dimple and he reaches for the flask again.

"My intentions have always been completely— " Her words halt for just a moment, for the brush against her neck, and she gives him a sidelong glance in return, "…innocent." When he moves away, Mariah lets out a heavy breath and shakes her head for a moment before she looks over at him again.

And just in time to watch his sweater get pulled off.

"And I don't seduce men who can't pay, you ought to know the rules by heart," she says, taking her turn to prop herself up on her side. For the view.

It is a nice view.

"That is certainly not how this works," she says with a laugh, "And I'm considering the whiskey a gift, thankyouverymuch." She reaches for the flask herself, just to put her hand over it teasingly as she adds, "And seeing as, maybe I ought not let you have another, ey?"

Beisdean glances at her hand stopping his, and raises his brows at her. "I'm not clear on the rules when you're in my room, Mariah, in search of my company, merry with drink and whatnot," he says, his words playfully reprimanding.

He rolls over again, this time putting him over her, holding his body up but bending his head to kiss her one more time, a lingering, teasing touch of mouth to hers. "I wasn't kissing you as a client," he adds. "You're more than Marilyn, more than a performer in a pretty dress. A real person."

With that, he swings his legs off the bed and stands again to move to the chair. "Drink the rest," he says with a nod of his head to the flask that has perhaps another shot's worth inside. "Though it might keep you from managing the stairs."

"Well, you should be," is Mariah's comeback, and it's fairly clear she's not feeling much reprimanded, as there's a laugh on her words. When he props himself over her, her hands slide along the skin of his back. That kiss may be teasing, but her touch is not; it's downright appreciative.

And then he speaks, flattery and compliments that even sound sincere. But Mariah doesn't react with swooning or pinking cheeks or even a smile. Her hands trail off him as he moves off the bed, and reach out to take the flask instead. She most definitely drinks what's left, but even the extra tipsiness doesn't bring her smile back.

"Beisdean," she says eventually, her voice soft and tinged with just a hint of what can only be called guilt, "It isn't just a crush." She gets off the bed then, too, and unsteadily comes over to his chair, her fingers brushing his cheek. "So next time you kiss me like that, have a little something for me, ey? It doesn't have to be diamonds." A smile appears there, crooked and slight, but just enough to bring a teasing tone to her words.

He tips back in his chair to look up at her, lips curved in a smile, even as he shakes his head. "Well, he's a lucky guy," he says, and it seems he means it. "But unless you mean I should bring you a posy or maybe an ode in honor of your backside…"

Looking past her and downward, as if to get a better view, Beisdean then smirks, gray-blue eyes crinkling as he finds her gaze again, "I wouldn't count on it. I can find it for free."

He stands again, picking up his sweater and pulling it over his head, mussing his hair. "It just won't be as fun with someone else." Beisdean nods to the parcel on the wall. "Thanks for bringing it by."

"Oh, I'm not all that sure he's lucky. I not sure he thinks he's lucky, either. He still pays me," Mariah says it dryly, aiming as more a tease at Beisdean, but she's a little too drunk to really pull it off without at least some of the sting showing through.

"I might accept an ode, if it was particularly well preformed," she adds, her smile coming a little easier once Cas isn't the subject matter. "But I won't hold my breath, ey? I hope it's alright that I still plan on seeking out your company, even so."

She steps back just enough to give him room to get dressed again, but his comment brings back her sly smile. "You're damn right about that." There's a little pause before she grabs onto his shirt and pulls him in for just one more kiss, as if to leave a reminder of that fact before she lets him loose again.

"Seeking my company again… it's only a matter of time before you seduce me," Beisdean teases, lips moving against hers as he accepts that kiss, then gives back, walking her backward until he leans her up against the door.

"And then I'll have to charge you — except I owe you a couple favors already, so maybe we can strike a deal of sorts." He grins down at her, then takes the flask from her hand, kisses her forehead, and steps away to open the door for her. "Go find a paying customer for the night, and try not to think of me, Larkie."

"It's a risk you're just going to have to live with," Mariah says, her tone teasingly nonchalant. She doesn't much argue as she's being pressed against the door, or moments later when she's being shown out of it.

She smiles back at his grin, and at the more innocent kiss, but his words get an arched eyebrow. "Hmph! Your ego doesn't need that much feeding." It serves as a goodbye, because she turns to step out on the heel of her words. But before she gets too far, she turns back to look at him again, her gaze sliding over him. When she gets to his face, though, she tilts her head a bit, "I do believe you're turning me around on the sweater issue. But don't worry, if they ask, I'll still tell them you're innocent as a lamb."

And that is when she turns to start walking away. Someone down in the tavern is going to have a good night. Or someone down the hall, if she can't manage the stairs.