You'd Be Okay

Title: You'd Be Okay
Time Period: February 3, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: "Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." -C.S. Lewis

It's a rare evening by many accounts. When he's not found in the Dovetail for the evening, Cas Blackburn is nearly always holed up somewhere in the castle, among the horses or sleeping for the early morning work. Today it seems he is doing neither. The smelly stablehand could point the pretty young woman in the right direction, because he'd heard mention of a trip to the Wandering Albatross.

"He's been acting right weird the last few days," the man even said. And upon entering the main room of the Wandering Albatross, with it's tables and strings of sailors and other passers through, it seems he's certainly doing something he said he only rarely does.

Drink. The glass in front of him is more empty than full, with the pale ales he avoided around Christmas. It's hard to tell from his smile how much he's drank, but he's laughing at along with sailor's bad jokes from the nearby table that's considerably larger and more populated with men and drinks than his own.

It's been one of those evenings where things have just not gone well. First, her trip out to find Cas was interrupted by a young, wounded girl, and then it turned out he wasn't there at all, and she had to make the trek back to town on the other stablehand's direction. Honestly, she half expected to have missed him here as well.

But no, when Mariah steps inside, she catches his laugh first, before her gaze can find him in the room. Her entrance would be unremarkable if not for the fact that she's a crowd favorite when it comes to the sailors. There's a whistle from a table near the door as she sheds her coat, and it's only years of practice that let her shove thoughts of dead bodies and mauled limbs aside and call up a smile.

She may wave and make hellos here and there, but she's fairly set on that particular table with that particular man sitting at it and she weaves her way through the crowd before she comes to drape her arms over Cas' shoulders from behind. Sure, it's supposed to be her night off, but that never stopped her flirting before.

"So here you are," she greets with a crooked smile, "It is quite literally the last place I would have guessed." He doesn't drink, after all. Or didn't.

The hands at first seem to surprise him, from the way his body shifts, but it's not with tension as he might have displayed normally. However much he drank seems to have drained his body of the usual awkwardness he might have felt. The voice makes Cas laugh again, hands reaching up to grasp the arms around him, and turns enough to see some of her.

His breath smells like ale.

"I hoped I would see you tonight, even if I had to steal you away from one of them," he says a little too loudly, but the sailors seem to be laughing over it, rather than insulted. At least he's not likely to get punched in the nose tonight.

Mariah laughs a bit at it herself, glancing over at the sailors as if to share in the humor. Good sports, the sailors, generally. "Is that right?" She says when she looks back to Cas. He might notice the worry simmering under the amusement on display if he were sober, but then the worry wouldn't have reason to be there, were that the case. "If I had known you were so keen, I would have grabbed one to be stolen from on the way in."

She straightens up long enough to catch a barmaid's attention to motion of a drink of her own, but then she steps around Cas to drop smoothly into his lap. "And just what did you have in mind for the evening, hmm? Assuming you'd be able to walk out've here," she teases.

"I can still walk!" Cas says in a voice that starts to carry some slurring, and his smile is a little more lopsided than normal. Though with her in his lap he doesn't seem inclined to do much in the way of walking right now. Arms rest around her, and he leans in to press a kiss against her lips. In public. With no mistletoe as an excuse.

It doesn't seem he noticed the worry at all, though. He doesn't seem to be noticing much of anything other than… well… her being in his lap.

"We could always stay here tonight. I could buy us a room and we could take some ale upstairs… the sailors mentioned playing drinking games. Do you know any?"

That kiss gets some cat calling from the next table over as Mariah leans into it, but Mariah seems more interested in the fact that Cas doesn't notice, rather than the fact that the sailors do. His question gets a light chuckle, though, and she replies with a half-smile. "I know a couple."

But his idea seems to be an agreeable one, and Mariah slides off his lap to offer him a hand. "I'll get us a room. You worry about getting the ale up the stairs."

The hand, is taken, but before he uses it to get to his feet he twists it around to kiss her lightly on the back of her hand. From the smile, Cas isn't going to argue over her paying for the room. Like he might normally. He doesn't even seem to give it a second thought.

Course he's still paying for the ale. Maybe that's enough.

"I'll go get some," he says as he pushes to his feet. The hand is needed, at least somewhat, but he also wobbles and presses a hand against the table to stay upright. From the laugh he thinks it's funny. "I got it, really," he says, before she can protest his ability to walk.

Mariah lingers there for a moment, just in case he's about to fall over, but his laugh keeps a smile in place. It is possible she'll wait until the buzz has passed to completely ruin his night. It's difficult, with that smile of his.

"That's alright," she says, her smile turning sly, "if you spill it just gives me more reason to get you out of those clothes." She steps away then, off to arrange a room and leaving him to his chore and the hoots and whistles from the next table.

"She's mine tonight, guys, sorry," Cas says with a sloppy grin that can be heard even at a distance. The sailors seem to be good sports about it, which only makes him smile more, and wobble off to secure a few sealed bottles of ale. Two will probably be more than enough, and that's all he trades for, passing over the labor slips he should have been saving for a future horse.

With his bottles in hand he slowly works his way towards the rooms, trusting that she will succeed in meeting him there with a key. And trying to keep upright on his feet the whole time. Only a little leaning against the walls.

She does wait for him, right at the top of the stairs. It's not at all to make sure he actually gets down the hall. Really. There is a key in hand, though, from her own successful trading. When she sees him, there's a bit of a smile, but she doesn't come to help, not until he gets to her.

And she lets them in when they reach the room. It's not as grand as hers at the Dovetail, but it's got a comfortable bed and a fireplace and warm rugs sitting over the wooden floors. Her smile doesn't falter until she's closing and locking the door behind them, and even then, it's only for the door's benefit. "I hope you don't mind I've got some catching up to do," she notes, with a gesture toward the bottles and a crooked smile.

"No, of course I don't mind," Cas says, setting one bottle down near the bed and popping the cork out of the other with his hand. It seems they'd already been loosened, but not removed for easy carrying. The bottle is handed over to her, no glasses needed for the drinking, not between them. They already share more than the bottles.

"You're so pretty," he says absently, with a smile more silly than shy, with a glint in his eyes that doesn't fade as he makes his way over to the bed to fall down on it.

Something he seems to regret as soon as he does, cause he jumps up immediately with a pained look on his face and moves to lay on his stomach instead.

"And you're drunk," Mariah says to the compliment with an amused laugh. She takes the bottle and a drink of it, but doesn't get much further than that. When he has to change positions on the bed, she doesn't bother hiding the concern. She comes over, setting the bottle down on the floor next to the bed as she sits on the edge, her hand coming to rest on his arm.

"Cas, what's the matter? Are you hurt?" Not totally unheard of for someone who works with animals to end up hurt now and then, but Mariah happens to care whether this one ends up hurt or not.

"Some scratches and bruises— nothing bad really, just hurts when I land on it like that," Cas says with a grin, propping his chin on his arms and smiling. He forgot to take anything off, or perhaps didn't forget so much so. But since she'll likely see him with his shirt off soon enough… he won't be able to hide anything from her really.

"I only had two glasses— that's not enough to get drunk," he adds after a few seconds, but from the smell of him, he must have had more than two. Maybe the sailors started refilling his glass when he wasn't looking as a lark.

"Alright," Mariah says, but it's hard to say if she really buys that he isn't hurt. At least until she smiles over at him again, her fingers moving to brush against his cheek. But she picks up the bottle to drink again. She needs it, after tonight, but it's set aside again in favor of laying down next to him there on the bed. She opts to stay on her back, though.

Even so, she scoots close to him, to lean in and pull him into a warm, lingering kiss. It may even be a little needy. Just a little. Her arms don't move around him, but one squeezes his arm instead. It's possible she has a hard time not touching him.

"Looks like I'm on top tonight," Cas says in a teasing voice with eyebrows raising in a hint as he leans back into the kiss, half hovering over her, propped up by an arm. Despite the joking mood, and the fact his mind is addled, something about the kiss makes him realize that everything may not be right tonight.

Part of him knows why he's not all right tonight, but not why she may be. When the kiss breaks again, he hesitates, a hint of seriousness shining through. It doesn't last too long, though. "Glad you found me?" is what he asks, voice softening a little, less silly, but still with a teasing quality.

Oh. He's had more than two. If she didn't already know, that comment settles the thought in. Not that she minds. In fact, when he props himself up, Mariah slides herself right under him to continue the kissing.

Her eyes open when it breaks, though, and she smiles softly up at him. "Everytime," is her answer, also with that mix of teasing and genuineness. When she leans up, this time it's to press kisses along his jaw, perhaps in an attempt to distract him from the fact that things aren't right.

"Everytime, eh?" Cas asks, the same teasing sound to his voice as he hovers over her, some of his weight pressing down against her as he does. He's never been large, and probably never will be from the way he's built, but that might be in his benifit right now. Before he might have worried about being on top of her like this, but— he is definitely drunk.

By more than two glasses.

Closest he's been to this around her was when Luna drugged them both, but she'd probably been too equally drugged to notice it as well.

"I'm glad when you find me too, everytime. Would've been a lonely night without you."

There's a briefer kiss pressed to his lips there, before she lays her head back against the pillows to look up at him. "It's not a good night for being lonely." She doesn't seem to mind the weight, but then, it's probably nothing she isn't used to.

Her fingers move to tug at his shirt, not forcibly enough to pull it off, but enough to hint that she's thinking in that direction. "Of course, when is a good night to be lonely, ey?" She chuckles a little there, before she nuzzles her nose against his. It's still a gentle touch, even though his nose has been far improved lately.

Far improved to the point he doesn't even seem to notice the touch beyond the tenderness it intends to share. Cas even smiles, pressing a brief kiss against her lips as he sits up on the bed, so that he can begin to remove that shirt for her. It's more than a shirt, in fact a few layers of clothes, obviously what he walked this far in.

The top layer of a coat falls to the floor, then a sleeveless sweater gets removed. The thinner shirt under that is left, for the moment, but it has buttons in front.

"Having a bad night?" he asks, even as he leans back down, to trail kisses down her neck.

Mariah can't help a smile as she watches, her hand moving to his leg as those layers get peeled off. When he leans back down, her fingers move to those buttons. She's a bit slow in undoing them, but determined even through him being a terrible distraction.

Her head tilts and her eyes close at those kisses, and there's a soft, pleased sound in her throat. "Mmm," she says, which may be a yes or may just be her enjoying the attention, but she follows up soon after, "Getting better by the moment."

As the buttons start to come undone, there's a hint of what might have been bothering him if she looks. Cas pulls back enough so that he can look at her and smile, making the bruises on his chest visible. As if something slammed there with it's full weight. Not unlikely to have happened, in his line of work.

"Making my whole month better, so I hope it's helping with your night— course I haven't seen you since the month started…" And their last meeting had been under pretty bad circumstances. Maybe this one is similarly bad. Though he doesn't know how much.

"Such a shame, too. I corrected it as soon as I could," Mariah says with a gentle smile. That smile dims away, though, when she looks down and catches sight of those bruises. It makes her sit up a little, brows furrowing as her fingers pull part of his shirt to the side.

"Cas…" She frowns as she looks up at his face. "Are you sure you're alright?" Her hand moves to cup his cheek while she tries to keep her worry in check. It may be a little on edge, with recent events.

"What?" Cas says, not seeming to understand her question with a rather glazed expression in his eyes. Only when he looks down at his chest and sees the bruises on pale skin does he even realize.

"Oh, yes, right— those don't even hurt as bad as they look, honest. Barely feel 'em," he says with a pat against his chest.

No grimace this time. But with the ale numbing him it may be difficult to tell if he's honest or just not feeling it right now.

"We should start getting your clothes off now," he says, having to sit up again so that he can use both his hands.

"You're not just saying that so I won't fret, are you?" Mariah sits up, too, partly to keep close to him and partly because her own clothes are a bit more complicated. But it also helps her to slide that shirt off his shoulders. And once they're bare, she leans in to kiss there, too.

Of course, she doesn't stop at one, but who can blame her. She also seems to be leaving her clothes to him, since she's not making a move for her own buttons. Preoccupied, perhaps.

Preoccupied as she is, the sliding down of his shirt seems to cause something to leak through the ale numbness. Cause Cas grimaces visibly, as he focuses on her buttons and laces and anything else between him and her skin.

It's the back of his shirt that might gain some of her attention away from the light kisses, and the skin down his back. Light blood splotches stains his shirt, most of it old and dry, but a few spots fresh. The bruises there somehow don't look as bad as the front, but the scrapes… they do look pretty bad.

Almost as if he were dragged against rough ground on his back. It looks as if he washed thoroughly, at least, but not as if he bandaged.

It's just a chance glance toward his shirt that alters Mariah's demeanor. She might get distracted away from bruises and bumps, but blood's another story. She leans back to look at his face, her hands sliding down to his arms to stop him from getting through those buttons and laces. "You are hurt," she says in a firmer tone.

She shifts there on the bed, moving over to sit at his side so she can get a better look at those scrapes. There's even a hiss of breath through her teeth at the sight, and her hand comes up to touch his cheek again. "Why don't you lay down…"

"Do I have to?" Cas lets out a small whine at her request to lay down, seeming content to keep working on her ties with his fingers. Even if they're more than a bit wobbly from the alcohol. Even as she moves away and tries to stop his hands. Only grabbing them seems to work, making him let out a small sigh and glance over his shoulder.

He can't see most of the damage, but it doesn't look swollen or overly infected, just a little irritated, the skin pink around the various abrasions. "I just fell down, it's not— I'd rather— " He trails off, more of himself showing through the drunk that he'd gotten. Perhaps he's sobering up a little.

"Alright alright," he says in a somewhat moody version of his usual voice, almost pouting really, and he shifts enough to lay flat on the bed.

Listening to his protests, Mariah puts a hand on her hip and just lets him get it out. She doesn't nag him to get on with it, especially since he sort of convinces himself to. But, once he's laying down, she slides off the bed and takes it upon herself to get through those laces and buttons. It's done slowly enough and teasingly enough that it's clearly for his benefit, and only when she's down to scandalously little does she climb back onto the bed.

She crawls over to his side before leaning down to kiss him again, letting it draw out before she pulls back just enough to look at his face. "I'm sorry. I can't help but worry about you when you're hurt," she says in a gentle whisper. Soothing his upset seems to come before seeing to any wounds, though. Perhaps because she can see it's not overly serious.

From the look in his eyes and the growing grin, Cas is very grateful to watch her undress. And it gets him ready for the long lingering kiss, that he leans into and greedily tries to draw out even more as she pulls back to speak. The words somehow seem to catch him up, though, from the way he stops trying to kiss her and looks at her face.

The talk of worrying about him seems to worry him for some reason. It doesn't last too long, though, as he looks toward the bottle. "You shouldn't worry about me. I mean, I don't want you to. I'm sure you have plenty of other things to worry about than me. It's not even the worst I've been hurt."

As he says that, he rubs the scar around his left wrist, that looks like it may have been a rope burn of some kind, before he points to the bottle. "Pass that over so I can get another drink, will ya."

"A surprising little, actually," Mariah says, her tone teasing, as far as how much else she has to worry about. She shifts to reach over and grab the bottle to pass over to him.

Her fingers move to brush over that scar, even though she hasn't looked away from his face just yet. "Worrying is something you do over people you give a damn about, yeah? I would go so far as to say I give two damns about you. So. You may just have to get used to it." It's a statement that tries to stay lighthearted, but her tone holds onto a hint of sentiment all the same. She must notice, because she bites her lip just after.

"I love it when you do that," Cas says quietly, after she bites her lip like that, his smile wide enough to make the dimple stand out on his cheek, even as he props himself up enough to take a long drink. He usually doesn't use such strong sentiments around her, but he's usually not drunk, either.

And apparently avoiding the chance to lose the buzz too much.

Lowering the bottle, but keeping it in hand, he watches her as he asks softly, "So you'd miss me a lot? If I weren't here— If— I had to leave or something?"

"When I do what?" It's sort of a rhetorical question, and there may be a blush on her cheeks that she hasn't had nearly enough alcohol to justify yet. She slides down to lay on her side, her head propped up by an elbow against the bed and her legs stretching out next to his own.

The question makes her smile slip, though, and she regards him for a long moment before her fingers reach out to brush his cheek softly. "I believe I would," she answers eventually. "It'd be lonely here without you." There's just a moment's pause before her forehead crinkles and she asks with a bit more active worry, "You're not, are you? Leaving?"

"When you do that— blush and bite your lip. It makes you look…" Cas trails off, unable to find the word he wants as he takes another sip and then hands the ale over to her so she can get started on joining him in drunkedness.

"I'm not planning to go anywhere. Not if I have anything to say about it, at least, but— you never know, right. Lots of… things going on. Strange and bad and… you never know." He trails off, looking down at the pillows instead of her as he hesitates. "You'd probably be okay, though. I mean you do have a few friends, and Masque, and…" he trails off.

"I suppose I won't ask you to stop making me blush, in that case," Mariah says as she takes the bottle for a drink of her own. She sets it down between them, her fingers still curled around the neck as she looks over his way. His words seem to inspire her to take another, longer drink before she sits up there on the bed, legs folding under her.

There's silence for a long stretch, with Mariah looking at the mouth of the ale for a time before she turns her head to speak over her shoulder. "Is there something you're trying to tell me, Cas?" It's a tone that's much subdued.

The log pause gets a weird response, Cas looking at her in a confused way. "Is there?" he asks quietly, sounding as confused as he looks, but there's something about it that seems more feinted than genuine. Especially since he's usually pretty genuine about things.

"Not— really," he says with a shake of his head, sitting up again despite his scraped up back. And bruised chest. His hands reach out for her again, touching her arms lightly. "I'm just rambling," he adds in a dismissive way.

Nuance is something Mariah pays attention to. Pays attention to, employs, reads. And when Cas, of all people, sounds anything less than genuine, it brings a frown to her face. Her shoulders straighten and when he touches her, he can tell, she's a bit tense.

She turns to look at him, trying to keep her expression neutral, but that frown seems to be stubbornly sticking around. "You had better out with it, yeah? Whatever it is that's on your mind."

The protesting seems to form almost instantly, though he never gets the words themselves past his lips. A lot of half-starts, uhs and ehs and his mouth opening and closing. Until Cas finally looks down and sighs visibly. The ale is definitely not clouding his mind as much anymore, even if he may want it to.

His lips press together tightly for a moment, before he lays back down on the bed, half-turning away from her. "It's nothing big, really…" he says, sounding preoccupied as he looks at his hands and speaks. "I heard one of the stablehands talking about that guy we found, the night watch guy— said they bet he saw a Black Dog, that that's what got him. Cause anyone who sees one is supposed to die, right? I'd never heard of 'em. Guess we didn't have 'em down in England."

When he moves away from her, she doesn't follow, not right off. With him turned away a bit, she takes that bottle again for a much longer drink. Much longer.

But Black Dogs… are not what she expected to be hearing from him, and she furrows her brow as she looks over his way. "Aye, that's the tale. They come around sometimes. To the sick or the old… But I don't think that was a Black Dog. It didn't kill Constance." That just sort of comes out before she really thinks about it, but she winces the moment it's out of her mouth. She'd meant to deliver that a little easier.

"Maybe," Cas says quietly, sounding as if he doesn't quite believe her when she says it wasn't a Black Dog, but then he hears the rest and suddenly sits up, turning to look back at her, no longer distracted by his own thoughts. "Constance— What about Constance? What happened to her?"

If he'd been working at the stables tonight, he may have been there to find out, but the look in his eyes is genuine worry— even a little that could be fear.

"She got… bitten. Sorcha and I came upon her near the castle. She was hurt, but she'll be alright. Her father will make sure of that. I would have stayed, but I didn't think it appropriate for a whore to stand at the girl's bedside. Best to let the professionals at her." Nothing whatsoever to do with her being afraid. Or wanting to find him as a remedy for it.

Mariah reaches over to take his hands, scooting a little closer. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to worry you."

For some reason Cas flinches at her words, even goes as far as to look guilty for a moment. "No— you— you don't have to be sorry for it. I mean I would have found out eventually, right…" he says quietly, voice trailing off a little. Still worried, but that guilt remains.

"Did she say what it was that bit her? What it looked like?" That part almost seems to be worrying him as much as the next question, "How— how bad was it?"

"She said it was a wolf. I didn't ask too many questions. She was in pain, you see…" Mariah takes a moment to pass him the bottle again. Perhaps she thinks he needs it. "It was…" She pauses there, looking down to her lap before she goes on, "Not as bad at the night watchman." But bad enough. She hides her upset better this time around, but it's there still, under the surface.

"This has all got you really worried, hasn't it? It— We just all have to be careful walking out away from the town, is all." Nevermind her own walk home is plenty away from the town as well. "And it'll be fine," she says with a reassuring smile.

"Wolf, huh," Cas repeats quietly, looking at the bottle for a long time before he remembers to drink. He says it in a way that sounds one part relieved, and one part just as worried. The guilt seems to be gone, though, oddly enough as it was there in the first place.

"I'm glad it wasn't… as bad as it could have been. But I'm sorry it was as bad as it was, too. Maybe I can… go in to see her. Not sure how appropriate that would be, being a stablehand and all," he says softly, as if that is up there with whore in the status of things. In some people's eyes, it is.

"I'm sure she'd appreciate a visit. Can't say I know many who'd begrudge a handsome young man coming by with well wishes," Mariah says with a gentle smile. It's an expression that doesn't last too long, though, given the circumstances.

"Cas… you know you can tell me… what you're thinking. I can't say I ever took vows like a priest, but whatever you say to me doesn't have to leave the room," she says, hazarding a guess that he's embarrassed about speaking up. "I promise my brand of confession is more fun anyway," she says, her smile returning there, and turning crooked.

"Mariah…" Cas says quietly, looking back down at the bottle as if he'd rather have a few more drinks in his head and fogging his mind before he attempts to give his confession. He hesitates even more, eyes shifting around as he looks back up and down. Only after he takes a long drink does he finally speak again.

"I didn't see a wolf," he says quietly, voice soft. "I've seen wolves before— this— this wasn't a wolf. It was a dog. Not like Masque. Bigger and… meaner. And black. It jumped on me." His hand touches the bruises on his chest, that seem to be focused on two large areas.

"I hurt my back trying to get away. I didn't… get bit or anything. But… It couldn't have been the same thing that attacked Constance. There's no way you would mistake this for a wolf…"

Mariah falls quiet at that explanation, her brow furrowed as she looks him over. "You— saw a Black Dog, is that what you're… saying?" Her hands move to cup his face as she slides closer to him. "Can't be. Not you."

It's one of those situations where the physical would do little to solve it, and that leaves her floundering a bit. But one thing's certain; she most certainly would miss him.

The reaction from her seems to gain mixed responses. For a moment Cas seems relieved, perhaps to have said it, and no longer needing to keep it from her, and then he seems to worry and be upset all at once.

"I don't want you to worry. I mean… you'd be okay and everything… You were okay before I got here," he says quietly, almost as if he's trying to convince her of it. Or himself. Or both of them.

"Don't tell me I would be okay," Mariah says, worry and hurt mixing together into a bit of a snap. But she instantly regrets her tone, and her eyes squeeze shut a moment before she lets out a breath and shakes it off.

When she looks at him again, her expression is softer, but also sadder. But instead of talking, her fingers reach for the long leather cord around her neck. The necklace is pulled up over her head, bee and all, and while there's a moment's hesitation, it doesn't last long. Her next move comes in the form of sliding it over his head instead. It may be the most naked she's ever felt, suddenly not having that gentle weight around her neck, but she lets go of it, letting it hang around his instead.

She sits back then, her hands sliding down his arms. "You need the good luck more than I do." She may have expressed skepticism about it before, but when it comes down to it, she has a little more faith in it than she likes to admit.

The small snap makes Cas look down and away from her, so he almost misses her lifting the necklace off from around her neck. He knows how rarely she removes it. His eyes widen for a moment as she pulls it off, and his mouth opens when she moves it around his neck instead.

Right next to the leather cord with his sister's cross. His hand reaches up to touch both, lightly, and his eyes close. No words even attempt to form, and maybe they don't have to, cause there's tears in his eyes. Ones he'd probably been holding in and trying to drink away. They fall as he blinks, shaking his head and scrubbing a hand over his eyes to dismiss them.

Hand shifting, he grasps his own necklace and slowly pulls it off, reaching both hands out to lower it around her neck. "Just until… I give yours back." It's much lighter than the iron bee, but he took his off almost as rarely.

Mariah closes her eyes when he gives her his in return, and she lifts her fingers to touch the cross for a moment. When she opens her eyes, tears still threaten to fall, brimming precariously. Her hands move to his face again at his words and she nods quickly a few times before she leans in to kiss him.

It's a deep kiss, but hardly lustful or hungry. No, there's something altogether different about it this time. Something more. Her thumbs brush at his cheeks, not seeming to mind the dampness there, or the fact that hers soon match it, as a pair of tears slip past her ever vigilant guard.

The kiss is met with the same response, one more intimate than passionate, only made more so by the way Cas' hands go to sides, pulling her body closer to his own, so that he can wrap his arms around her. The kiss tastes of salt, his tears and hers, and ale.

Lips don't break away so much as move, breath and lips against her cheeks as he follows the trail of the tears to kiss her eyelids gently. "Mariah, I…" he starts softly, his forehead lowering back down to press against hers. It furrows, as if from a hint of tension. It takes a few moments before he continues. "I'll try my best to— uh— not go… anywhere." The wording is awkward, but that genuine quality is back.

Mariah's eyes stay closed through the kiss and the others that follow, even if it only does so much good in keeping the tears at bay. But they flutter open at his words, blinking away the excess wetness before she really looks at him.

"Good. I like you here. I'm not done with you just yet," she says, gentle humor covering a much more raw emotion. "For the record. I'm not letting anything hurt you tonight," she adds as her hand slips into his hair and she leans in to kiss him again. She makes no secret of the fact that she's planning to go beyond kissing, what with how she slides into his lap, her knees falling to either side of him, but at the same time, she doesn't seem to be hurrying it along, either.

"In that case… I hope it's some time before you are," Cas says quietly, voice deepening a little as she gets into his lap. Sure, he hasn't fully removed his trousers yet, but that doesn't change the gesture too much. The tears may no longer fall, but they still stain his face in a few places, as the arms around her move tighter, lifting her up some.

When the kiss breaks again, he's smiling, eyes opening to look up at her. "I'm yours all night," he says quietly, then starts to grin as he boldly adds a moment later, showing he's not completely sober after all. "And you're all mine. I told the sailors downstairs."

And when he smiles, Mariah does, too, her forehead leaning against his at first. The bolder statement gets a soft chuckle, "So you did. I suppose that makes it all official, then." As if her sitting there with him and with barely anything on didn't.

She seems to be taking that tone and running with it, perhaps because it's easier to help him put trouble out of his mind when she's more playful. But her smile tilts slyly as she slides her arms around his neck, "I do believe you said something about being on top…"

"When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother what will I be. Will I be pretty, will I be rich? Here's what she said to me…" Mariah walks alone along the road back toward the Dovetail, her feet pressing lonely prints into the freshly fallen snow. Her scarf is held unhelpfully in hand, and it leaves its own trail behind them as well. She sings softly to herself, a familiar tune, but turned haunting and sorrowful for her current mood. "Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see… Que sera, sera."

Nice necklace. The familiar's words tap into Mariah's distracted mind, and she looks down as the badger joins her walk. And interupts her somber singing. Her fingers come up to touch the cross hanging from her neck, her lips pressing together for a moment before she looks ahead again, not answering.

Back to work, then? His next prompt comes with a bit of accusation on his tone and that makes Mariah stop walking to look down at him.

"Of course, back to work, what else?" she snaps, turns and resumes her course with a stomp. It's a good thing no one else is about at this hour, or they might think her touched. Masque doesn't prompt her again, he just trots alongside her, stewing in mild disapproval.

"Please don't pout. It isn't as if I can stop working because a client might— because he's having a rough spot. I've got to keep busy." Mariah stops walking again and her hands come up to press against her face.

"I need you to protect him," she says, at length.

I already protect you.

"I can take care of myself—"

And he can't, is that what you're saying?

"I don't have a death omen on my heels, how about I put it that way? I just can't…" She crouches down, to be closer to his level before she continues. Her tone shifts, something softer, franker and more vulnerable. I just need you to do this for me, Masque.

And you'll just be off whoring.

Mariah stands up then, brushing her clothes free of the bits of snow and ice clinging to them. "I need something else to focus on, or else I'll be grieving him before he's gone. And I've got next to no rights to grieve him as it is. As far as anyone's concerned, I'm just his whore."

What about as far as you're concerned?

She pauses there, licking her lips for a moment before she turns to look down at the badger.

"I should have turned him away," she says when she finally speaks again, "That first night, I should have turned him to one of the others with his boyish smile and nervous rambling and harmless requests and wonderful— but I didn't and now I'm all tangled up in him when I shouldn't be, but I want to be and if he— if he dies…" Her hand comes to rub over her face. She already cried once, she's determined not to again. At least not so soon.

And Masque watches for a few moments, but by the time she drops her hand back to her side, her familiar is speeding through the snow in a completely different direction.

Thank you. It's a gentle thought, and she even gets a soft, if sad, smile before she turns to start walking toward home again.

"When I grew up and fell in love, I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead. Will there be rainbows day after day? Here's what my sweetheart said…"