You Say It's Your Birthday

Title: You Say It's Your Birthday
Time Period: May 29, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: …it's my birthday, too. At least this year.

It's not a big house by any means, the little place owned by the McKays, but with the elderly couple restricted to the lower floor, Mariah's slipped in to rent out the space on the second floor. A little staircase outside leads up to a green door that's standing just slightly open. Inside, things aren't quite settled. Crates sit against walls, not unpacked for the most part. The exception seems to be the bed— smaller than what she had at the Dovetail, but still more of a comfort and luxury than a cot— and the wardrobe both sitting in a small side room that she's opted to use as a bedroom while this main room seems to serve as both sitting room and small kitchen.

It… will take some adjusting to.

And since there's no furniture to speak of in the sitting area, what's sitting there now is a familiar blanket, close enough to the stove for warmth, but not so close that things are in danger of falling off right onto it. And by the smell wafting out onto the little balcony at the top of the stairs, something rather tasty is on. Or on its way.

There's one thing Cas can sometimes be slow at doing— and in this case it seems to be introducing himself to the newest location. It seems to take him a long time to manage to get up to them. At the foot of the outdoor stairs, he stands near the bottom step, with his walking stick held nearby even if he doesn't need it as much now. There's still a slight limp, and he's gotten used to having it around.

But it's not the actual climb that's got him hesitating. Or even the wafting smell from the balcony.

Dressed in his nicest clothes, he can't help but lean around as he looks, trying to see who all is around, and perhaps trying to make himself seen. Like he needs some encouragement to make the trek up the stairs to the new room.

He won't be telling anyone he's already climbed the stairs a few times to take a peak when no one happened to spot him.

It could be that she's watching from a window, or happens to be checking to see if he's here yet in between running about the place, because while he's standing there at the bottom, Mariah opens the door wider to peek out.

She's wearing green again, something that's been more frequent over the last week or so, and the familiar pendant and chain around her neck just happen to match the dress rather nicely. But when she sees him, her smile widens and she steps a little more outside, although a hand lingers on the door.

"Do you need help up? The leg…" Of course, the leg, and not some other flavor of hesitation.

When she opens the door, Cas freezes in his fidgetting, like a rabbit when it first spots a predator. Perhaps unfair, but it seems suitable. "What?" he says, not quite seeming to have understood what she said at first. "Oh, no— no I can walk okay, it's— I was just— I— is it okay if I'm here? I don't— the people you're renting from— is— "

His nervous rambling cuts off with a grimace and he walks with only a slight limp toward the stairs, and up them to meet her. "I mean— can I come in?" like he wasn't already invited.

"Of course it's okay," Mariah says, a hand gesturing toward the little apartment, "Autonomous unit. Plus, would I have you over if it were going to be trouble?" The way her smile tilts probably isn't at all reassuring, but the playfulness just may be.

"Please come in," she ends up saying with a softer smile. "If you don't mind it being…" She glances back through the door, lips pressing together, "A bit haphazard."

"You do realize everything I own fits in a bag under my bunk, right?" Cas says with a slight head tilt in her direction as he limps into the room, with it's sparce furnishings and other such endowments. The bed alone is more than he's been able to call his own for a very long time…

"It looks great, really," he says simply, as he limps into the room, leaving his walking stick behind next to the door.

"So the whole place up here is yours? That's pretty cool…" he looks down at the floor. "Um— so why did you invite me? I mean today— not why did you invite me at all, you— I mean— " He could start going for a while, but he seems to decide shutting his mouth is a better option.

"I do, but at least its tidy," Mariah says, watching as he makes his way rather than moving to help. Even if it looks like she would like to. Instead, she follows him in, shutting the door behind them and locking it a bit more securely than she would at the Dovetail. Perhaps because she knew who would be passing her door there.

"This room and that. Mine for now, anyway." She smiles, even if there's something a bit nervous in the expression. "Is it so odd that I'd want your company?" The bigger significance of the visit comes in the fact that there's meat on to cook, fresh vegetables, spices, something she must have traded well for, all things considered. "I'm sorry, I haven't any… chairs," she says, biting her lip as she looks behind her as if one might appear there suddenly, "I can pull over one of the crates, though."

"I— no, I just meant…" Cas trails off again, as he ends up pushing himself onto the familiar blanket. If he were used to softer places to sit, he would probably be sitting on the bed, but comfortable places aren't very common for him. The stables don't have padded seats— the floor does just fine.

But he's careful not to actually sit on the leg.

"That smells really good," he adds instead of whatever rambling he may have started with, his non-healing leg bent and pulled up near his chest for additional leverage.

Mariah comes over to sit, too, a hand moving to rest on his more healthy knee. She is used to more comfortable arrangements, but doesn't seem to mind. Not today anyway. "Thank you. I thought you might— that you wouldn't mind a bit of my cooking," she says, ending with a light chuckle. "You'll tell me if there's anything I can do, right? I mean, for your leg. Is it feeling any better?"

It seems the food just needs a bit longer, or it must, because her attention isn't on it at the moment.

"Don't think so, no," Cas says as he glances down at his leg, tilting his head to the side for a moment. "I can't think of a thing you could do that you're not already doing, really," he states quietly, with seeming honesty.

"You're wearing green," he observes after a moment, pointing toward her clothes. "And you look good in it— your boss, I met her the other day you know… did she make that dress for you?"

As he says that, his hand comes to rest on hers, black fingerless gloves on his hand that was barely visible under the too-long cuffs of his shirt.

Mariah can only nod, since she can't think of a thing she could do to help his leg, either, no matter how willing she'd be. But his observation brings out a more genuine smile. "Sorcha? Oh yes. Mostly everything I have to wear, she made at one point or another. Especially now. I sold most of my… flashier dresses to the other girls at the Dovetail before I left." Which might have gone into getting her that bed. There may be a couple things she's much less willing to adjust to.

"And thank you," she adds, belatedly, to the compliment. Her gaze shifts over to where his hand rests on hers, expression softer now. There's a moment's hesitation, internal debate over what to say next, and when she speaks up, she ends up addressing his fingers instead of his face.

"It's my birthday," she says, tone a little bittersweet.

From his grin, Cas doesn't seem to be too upset with the idea that her flasher clothes have been traded away— after all one flashy dress would probably be more than enough for him. "I'm sure you still have more clothes than me," he says as he leans a little towards her, squeezing her hand with a grin.

One that weirdly vanishes when she mentions her birthday.

"I— really? Your birthday? What— what day is it?" As soon as he says that he quickly starts to cover up again, waving his hand around as if to distract from what he views as a stupid thing to ask. "I mean what day is it today— I've never been good with calendars. I mean I know all the months, but I— kind of lose track of which one is which. I'm not entirely sure it's still May…"

"Well, I couldn't get rid of everything," Mariah says with a grin o her own, not even pretending to deny her wardrobe size. "But I did think it better to have things to wear that looked less like… or more like a seamstress might wear."

Her smile dims as his does, and she shakes her head for a moment. "Ah. Just barely May still. The twenty-ninth. It's not a big deal. I haven't even celebrated it in years. For a time, I thought myself too sophisticated for birthdays," she says, teasing some past version of herself, no doubt. "And then I just fell out of the habit. But I suppose I just thought, maybe a new start gives me a reason to celebrate this year, aye?"

"Not having a birthday is… how is it— was not having a birthday good?" Cas asks, perhaps not quite understanding what the word she said happens to mean. It wouldn't be a surprised since sometimes his English is limited. Not exactly well-read, this one. "Wish you would've told me, though— I would have gotten you something. Nothing big, but…"

He looks back toward the door and his walking stick, as if suddenly tempted to make his way toward them and bring something back.

"May twenty-ninth, huh," is what he repeats instead. When he looks back at her, he still has a hesitation in his eyes, "So how old does that make you?"

"It was fine. Having one, not having one, I'm afraid lately it hasn't been much of a priority." Mariah shakes her head again as he goes on, though, her hand turning to squeeze his. "This is what I want. Dinner. You. Sitting here on this empty floor," she says, the last getting a crooked smile. "No gifts, just… company. Yeah?"

She glances that way, too, but back to him again quickly enough. "Oh, well, that's a whole other question, isn't it?" She laughs a bit, her free hand brushing over her skirts. "Twenty-five, is all."

"Sill would've liked to get you something," Cas says with tight smile, though it seems to be too late now. There's not even much in the way of random items in his pockets he could attempt to get away with—

At her admission of her age, though, he suddenly smiles widely, the dimple in his cheek appearing under the stubble that could use a shave. "Really? That means you're younger than me," he says, sounding weirdly excited over something so small and simple. "Not that I thought you were old or nothing, you just seem… older. I guess."

As he went on his voice dropped in volume.

"Just think of it this way, when it comes around to your birthday, I won't get you anything, either," teasing, clearly, because it's unlikely she would keep to that. Mariah blushes just a little at his sudden grin, and a playful huff soon follow. "I'll take that as a compliment," she says, laughter on her words, "I suppose I have the books to blame. And being the youngest. I was around older people more often than not.

"And it's only fair you tell me now. How old are you, then? Can't be too much older, aye? Or I'll have to accuse you of finding the fountain of youth in all that walking around you've done."

"What's the point of a birthday if you don't get anything," Cas says in a quiet kind of way. Perhaps too quiet. As if it's a saying he's used before, only slightly altered. It allows him a few moments to open his mouth, as if he might start to say something more, and then close it again. And that all coincides with her question of his age.

"I— not too much older, you're right. Just a year or two," he says, voice quieting again as he looks toward the food that he smelled. "Do you need to check on that?"

"The point is to do something I like with someone I like," Mariah says, and while she might mean dinner, there's just enough mischief in her tone to imply something else, too. "I really mean it about gifts. I don't need one today. Or for today."

When he answers, she gives him a sidelong glance, but the reminder of the food is enough to divert her attention. She leans in to press a kiss to his cheek before she starts to get up, "I guess I better had, before the dinner part of the evening goes sour."

Her hand is the last to move away, fingertips dragging over his knee before she actually steps over to the stove. "Come on, then. What day should I be avoiding presents on?" She asks as she takes the meat out, setting it to cool on top of the stove. Carefully!

There's a quiet kind of tension that seems to be building, mostly in the wrinkles of his forehead, or the way his hand grips at his knee once she's let go of it. The kiss, though, made his eyes slide shut, and they stay that way for a few moments.

When he looks up at the meat, he gives his head a small shake, rubbing a hand through his hair.

"Wouldn't it be easier to avoid if you don't know when?" he says in a whispered tone.

"I suppose so. But what if I just happen to get you a gift by chance and it happens to be— " Mariah turns around then, looking over at him as she catches onto that hint of tension. Her more playful expression fades into curiosity, her head canting slightly.

"You don't want to talk about it?" There's just a moment's pause before she lifts a hand, "It's alright, you know. If birthdays are something you'd like to leave one of your secrets." And since the portion of the meal in danger of burning isn't anymore, she comes back over to sink to her knees beside him, sitting back on her legs as she reaches out to brush her fingertips through his hair as well. "I didn't mean to press."

There's a long pause before Cas reaches to catch her hand, holding it in both of his instead of just one this time. "No, it's okay— it's not really a secret— I mean it is, but— not a secret from you. I just… I don't remember when my birthday was."

As he explains that, he takes a slow breath in and shrugs. "It's the whole present thing— what was the point of having one if you didn't get anything. And after I left home I never had anyone to celebrate with— Not for a long time. Until…" he pauses. "I forgot. I mean I know how many winters and stuff, next winter will be the twelfth since I left home, and I left home at fifteen— so I'd be twenty-seven, right? I just don't remember really remember… details."

He shakes his head, then starts to smile, "Anyway, it's your birthday, not mine. And if all I have to offer is me, then I'll just have to give you as much me as you can stand.

Mariah settles a little when he takes her hand, but as much as that might normally get a smile out of her, his explanation gets a more sympathetic reaction. "Oh… Cas," she says, her brow furrowing a little as she scoots in closer. "Is there someone… we could write to? Ask?"

She doesn't linger on that question too long, though, knowing his history with his family is… difficult. "Of course, there is a silver lining, you know. You could pick any day you like. A different day every year, even," she says with a gentle smile. "And for the record? You're the one having trouble standing, not me." The bit of wordplay is delivered with a nod toward his leg before her free arm slides around his shoulder.

"I think I can stand quite a lot of you, though."

With a soft laugh, Cas shakes his head. For a moment he didn't even seem to understand why they would even try to write his family— letters aren't something he's had much experience with, being unable to write. But he does know one thing…

"I'll remind you you said that when you do get tired of me," he says with a squeeze of her hand in his.

"We could ask Baze," he adds quietly, after a few moments. "I mean— a ghost would probably know, right? And…" he trails off. He'd never quite mentioned his sister being dead to her.

"You do that," Mariah says with a laugh of her own as she returns the squeeze. "But I think you'll be waiting a long while." She leans in there, not to kiss him again, but to rest her forehead against his cheek.

Unfortunately, it all gives him an up close view to her slight tense at Beisdean's nickname, and the solemn look that passes her over feature as she leans back to look at him. It's all gone in a moment, but difficult to hide all the same. "I thought he… If he's still about, I'm sure he'd be willing to help you, Cas," she says with a smile that doesn't quite reach the width of mere moment's ago. "Probably faster than a letter, aye?"

Her hand slides down his back, rubbing softly as her voice drops to a whisper. "I'm sorry. I didn't— realize a ghost was… was it someone close?" The sympathy laps in again; if anyone can empathize with dead family, she certainly can.

"I wouldn't even know if they'd respond to a letter… I mean it's kind of a silly thing to send one about. Hi, sorry I haven't contacted any of you in tweleve years, but did you remember when my birthday was?" Cas says quietly, shaking his head a little as he looks over at the woman next to him, not quite understanding the reason for her expression.

In fact he seems to think she's caught him in his lie of omission. "Uh— " he intones quietly, fridgeting with his sister's necklace for a moment. "Don't worry about it. I'll see if I can find Baze, I still owe him for a lot of things, and I guess I'll just have to offer to groom Iago or something," he says with a grin.

An offer to groom is about the most he can offer.

"So— no-present birthday… what do you have planned beyond the dinner part of the evening?"

"Would be a bit shocking, that letter," Mariah chuckles at that, shaking her head a bit. "Maybe I should write them. Hello, Blackburns, I'm your son's former prostitute and I was wondering if you could tell me when he was born so I can avoid getting him a present. How'd you think that would go over?"

Her head tilts as he goes on, and she furrows her brow, looking a touch guilty herself. "I'm sorry. I wouldn't make you do it alone, except I don't think he'd… be in the mood to do me any favors." Perhaps feeling a bit caught in her own lie of omission. But she shakes it off and smiles his way a moment later.

"Well, depends on if you're game to stay over," is her eventual answer.

"I'm not sure how many of them would even be able to read it," Cas also admits with a small laugh, leaning in her direction even as they both feel guilty over things they didn't say. And neither of them seem willing to say now.

Instead he closes his eyes for a moment.

"If the people downstairs don't mind me staying the night… I can." Having a private stairwell will make sneaking in easier than in the Dovetail, too. "And…" he starts, then sits up and opens his eyes to look at her again. "How about we make today my birthday this year too? So we can… not give each other presents but spend a lot of time together and… then we don't have to worry about it. You're twenty-five and I'm twenty-seven and the only presents we're giving each other is… us."

"It would just be confusing all around then. Ah, well." Mariah smiles and leans in as well, a gentle kiss pressing against his temple as his eyes close.

"Stay the night, then," she says in a whisper, soft smile felt against his skin. When she leans back, the smile lingers at his request, and her arms move to wrap around him. "I'd like that. As much of me as you can stand, I believe was the phrase?"

That suddenly sounds like a challange. But Cas motions towards his leg that he's sprawling out with and says, "Just remember, I'm the one having trouble standing." It's said with a grin and a shifting that turns into a kiss on her lips, rather than her temple.

With her arms around him, it draws out for a time, gentle and sweet. Until he breaks it to whisper against her lips, "Happy birthday."

A light laugh at his comment is cut off when he kisses her, because Mariah would much rather return that than continue banter. She doesn't mind that it lingers, either.

She sighs just a little when it ends, and she's slow to open her eyes again, even as she smiles at his whisper. "And to you, too," she replies, blinking her eyes open before she continues. "I propose," she says, pausing between words to kiss him again, "we get thoroughly distracted from dinner, and come back to it when it's cold." He's used to cold meals, after all.

The tease is met with a smile that is felt rather than seen, but Cas doesn't respond for a moment. Perhaps he's already distracted, cause he's already beginning to find ways to take off that green dress she put on just for today. "Think that could work," is what he manages between kisses.

"Though don't blame me if I want to eat before it's too cold." Some distractions are worth cold food, though.