|A Rose By Any Other Name|
|Summary:||Rowan has a girl's night out — with unexpected results.|
|The Crooked Crane Inn, Stonebridge|
|23rd day of Seventhmonth, 288 AL|
The evening after the first joust, the Crooked Crane is a scene of mass revelry. Winners and losers both are congratulated on their prowess and bought multiple rounds, the tales of their mighty clashes told and retold. Minstrels play, smallfolk dance, and the atmosphere is merry indeed.
Rowan is there incognito, and already well in her cups. Truth be told, she had to get half drunk just to muster the courage to come downstairs. It's been a long, long time since she's worn a dress. Since she's been a she, out in the open for all to see. And it's quite the transformation. Dark hair work up in a circlet of flowers, ringlets abounding, a simple-but-comely gown of light blue cut square at the neckline — not immodest, but just low enough to show there are curves beneath, displaying the delicate lines of her collarbones and the long, swanlike grace of her neck. Few would associate the lady with the squire — at least, such is her fervent hope. And so far, all has gone well. Hours of dancing, laughter, and flirtation have left her, for the moment, exhausted — far moreso than pike drills. Having just begged off another dance, she sits at a table alone for now, drinking a goblet of sweet wine, watching the room with contented delight.
It is not only the jousters and their assistants that have had a long day; the joust is a madhouse for smiths, prepping last minute commissions, shoeing tetchy horses, banging dents out of dozens of suits of armor so they'll be ready to be damaged again the next day. It's enough to make a man want to drink his weight in ale, and when he finally made it to the tavern, still just tugging down a clean grey tunic, Tym Rivers set about doing just that. He's well known here and comfortable in the crowd, greeting old friends and making new ones, joking and boasting and dancing amidst the constant clanking and clinking of tankards and cups. He slams yet another empty mug down on the table and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, stretching before acquiring a refill and, with a waggle of brows at his comrades, heading over to toss himself down on the bench across from Rowan. He grins, smirkily, and greets her with a drawled, "Hey there."
Eyes studying the contents of her cup in some distant reflection, Rowan doesn't see who's just helped himself to a seat at her table. The voice tickles the back of her mind, but it's not until she looks up and sees the face that recognition — and cold panic — set in. The smile freezes on her face and her voice sticks in her throat. She pales, then blushes, certain for a moment she's being called out. But… perhaps not? She blinks once, then gathers up her courage. And takes the plunge. "Hello," says Rowan Nayland to Tym Rivers, with the kind of lovely smile she's certainly never bestowed on him before. "Do I know you?" She lifts a brow, a dimple on her cheek.
There's no recognition in Tym Rivers' eyes, bright as they are with drink and reflected fire-light. He lifts a hand to rake back his hair, and grins wide at that smile. "No," he replies, shaking his head so his hair's dislodged and he has to rake it back again already as he adds, grin tugged wider still, a slender glimmer of teeth and good humor, "But you could."
A rush of giddy relief makes her laugh more than the flirtation. She studies him a moment more, to be absolutely sure, then laughs again, completely in love with the moment. "I see," she replies, lowering her lashes, flushed with wine and the thrilling terror of her own daring. She takes another sip from her cup, watching him though her lashes, and then meeting his eyes boldly. "Let's presume I wish to," she allows, playfully. "Do you have a name?"
If Tym has any idea who he's talking to, then he's an actor born and wasted on the forge, for all his relative skill with a hammer. He smiles again as she flushes, and lifts his mug, drinking deeply, before glancing back up to meet her eyes. "Oh, plenty of 'em," he replies, flashing her another grin, "But you can call me Tym. Tym Rivers if you want the long form, and you might. What should I be calling you?"
"Rose," replies the girl, laughter still in her voice, sparkling in her dark eyes. "Rose Rivers, in fact." She wiggles her eyebrows. "Perhaps we're related. What a scandal." It would appear, however, that she highly doubts it.
Tym laughs and shakes his head, "Nah, I doubt it. You haven't got my nose," he says, eyeing her face a bit squintily and shaking his head, "Nope, totally different bone structure. Your cheeks and chin and…" he gestures in a sort of vague circular way, "…face. Your whole face, really. Totally different. Nothing like my face. I'm prettier, for one." He grins, and drinks.
Stifling laughter, Rose presses her lips together and pokes the inside of her cheek with her tongue, trying to deliver her next line deadline. "Prettier than me?" A beat. "You must be a Terrick get, then." And drink. Shoulders shaking with mirth, she props her chin in her hand, elbow on the table. "So, my sweet non-cousin… now we're named. How shall we become better acquainted?"
Tym snorts and laughs, shaking his head as he drinks deep, and then stretches out an arm to haul over a pitcher, refilling both their cups. "Terrick get. They talk a good line, lemme tell you, but they can't back it up where it counts, if you know what I'm saying." He drinks deeply again, and then props his chin on his hand, mirroring her posture. "Any way you like," he replies, smirk returning, "I could make a few suggestions."
"Reeeeeaaallllly," drawls Rose, fascinated by this tidbit of information. She takes the jest as it's meant, but the mental image delights her into giggles all the same. All those times Jarod was having his lance polished, he was really dipping a dagger? Her cup. Runneth. Over. And speaking of which — refills! She drinks gamely, smacking her lips with satisfaction. "I barely ever drink," she notes. "Wine. Is. Amazing. Are you aware?" She peers at Tym. "Uh. MAYzing." She leans back in her chair, grinning. "I'll hear your suggestions. Though you might want to carefully edit them based on the fact that I'm a lady of virtue and all that rot. I'd hate to have to slap you and storm off in a huff. The night's too young for that."
Tym drinks deeply, licking lips clean before he grins, chuckling at her and nodding, "It sure is. I know I'm a fan." He drinks again, and tips back in his chair, tilting the front legs up off the ground as he reclines, and taps his chin, exaggerating his pondering regard of Rose. Brows lift, and he affects dismay, "I don't know what you're implying, but I'm sure I'm a perfect gentleman. Why I was just going to suggest we go find you a chaperone and talk ourselves a polite turn about the square or something, obviously."
He gets about to the word 'gentleman' and her eyes glaze over. Drift shut. And by the time he's talking polite turns, she's affected a full on snore. She snorts herself awake with a start. "I'm sorry, were you saying something?" She bats her eyelashes.
Tym laughs, and shifts his weight so the chair drops back onto all four legs and he's sent leaning across the table towards her. He grins, and glances around before looking back and lifting a brow, "You staying around here?"
Rose points a finger at the ceiling. "Right upstairs," she states. She needed a place to safely make her transformation, and the Crooked Crane doesn't rent by the hour. "I'm just in town for the tournament. You know what I think," she says, leaning forward on her elbows with a wide, bright smile. "I think we should get a flagon of wine. Or two. And get out of here. Take me someplace beautiful. Your favorite place." She amends, smirking, "That isn't a bedroom."
"That isn't— alright," Tym Rivers nods, draining what's in his glass and shrugging, nodding along, "If that's how you wanna play it, Rivers." He grins and nods, pointing a finger at her, "You just wait and see where I'm gonna take you tonight." He slaps a palm on the table-top and stands, digging into a pocket for coins, which he exchanges for two flagons of wine (just in case) and then jerks his chin toward the door, "Come on, then, girl."
"Hah! That's Miss Girl, to you, Tym Rivers," says Rose, pointing at him and pushing herself to her feet. Both hands flat on the table gives her a moment to be sure of her balance. Judging herself ambulatory, she takes Tym's arm. "Let's go!"
And off they go, Tym leading the way out of the inn and through the square. It's still fairly full of people as well, with the crowds in town for the tourney, but once they get a bit further away, things begin to thin out. He leads the way out of town, down towards the river and then along it. It doesn't take too much walking before they're out of earshot, the countryside quiet except for birds and insects and the rushing of the water. It's dark, too, but Tym seems to know where he's going, navigating them a little ways further and then down the bank, through some brush, which he gallantly holds aside, for Rose, waving her past with a dramatically courtly bow and an, "After you, Rivers." Through it is a little clearing, the bank gently sloping down to the water, overhung by trees that don't quite keep out the moonlight. "Good spot for fishing," Tym says.
Maybe it's the wine. Maybe it's the moonlight. Maybe it's the — well, it's something. Rose clearly didn't think she was going to get precisely what she asked for. She beams, turning to Tym in a swirl of skirts and elation. "It's gorgeous…!" she declares. She strolls ahread, through the trees, looking up to watch the moonbeams play and stars wink between the boughs. "How amazing…" She spins and drops to sit, resting back on her hands and still looking up through the leaves. "I'd no idea you'd an eye for beauty."
"I know beauty like the back of my hand," Tym declares, easing down beside her and leaning back comfortably, cracking open one of the skins of wine and drinking deeply before he finally finishes the joke, "I got beautiful fucking hands, after all." Another drink and he passes the wine over, stretching out and folding his arms beneath his head.
Rose snrrks and bursts into laughter, snagging the flagon from him. "You have manly fucking hands," she says, defiantly emphasizing the bad word. Sure, she drops it all day and night in her real life, but this — it all feels illicit. Which it sort of is. "I have beautiful hands," she stretches out an arm, admiring her hand by moonlight and drinking. "Long fingers." Short nails. Not particularly soft and bearing faint scars in places, but pretty enough. She wrinkles her nose and drops her hand into her lap. "Sort of useless, hands like mine."
Tym snickers as she laughs, and takes the wine back, drinking as she holds out her hands. He holds one of his up next to it, larger, rougher, more obviously scarred. "Useless?" he clicks his tongue and shakes his head, "Don't be telling lies about pretty hands like that, that's just cruel. I can think of a few uses for 'em right now."
Rose rolls her eyes. "I'm sure you can," she replies, smirking. She takes his hand and holds hers up to it, palm to palm. Hers are considerably smaller, dainty, in comparison. Despite the long fingers. She tilts her head, pondering. "You do, actually, have beautiful fucking hands." She sounds oddly sincere about that. "There's beauty in purpose, don't you think?"
Tym drinks and drinks and swallows, replying after he does, "So long as there's a purpose for the beauty," he replies, and then waggles his brows at her and grins, "That's fucking deep, that is. Don't think on it too hard, I can't have you passin' out just yet."
Rose sighs. "Oh, Gods, I do think too much, don't I?" she laments. "Ro — Eustace, my brother, is always saying so." She relieves him of the bottle, wrapping her lips around it and drinking. "Mm!" she laughs, quickly putting her hand up to her lips, a dribbled spot of wine on her chin. "Hiccups. Fuck." She laughs again, wiping her chin and suckling the trace of wine from the back of her hand.
Tym watches her drink, and then laughs as she dribbles and curses, holding up to fingers in an X to ward her off, "Fuck hiccups," he says, "Keep that shit away from me. I better not catch them off you," he says, clearly not entirely serious, "I fucking hate the hiccups."
The girl, affronted at being warded off like the walking dead, gasps in mock insult and punches his shoulder. Hard. Sweet Seven, the slip of a thing packs a whallop. "How positively — " Hiccup! " — ungallant!" She pouts. "I am sad now. And I am keeping the wine." She hugs the bottle to her. Sulk.
"Ow!" Tym laughs in surprise at the punch, "What the fuck, Rivers?!" He laughs again and rubs his shoulder, shaking his head, "I just don't want to put you to sleep, I seem to recall you snorin' at me when I mentioned being a gentleman last time."
Laughing, Rose bumps him with her shoulder. Gentler, this time. "Oh, don't be such a girl." She drinks, grinning. "You know, you've made at least two lewdish innuendos and I haven't struck you once. So apparently I don't mind." She smirks. "Weird, that."
"I know, right?" Tym replies, taking the wine back and drinking as he shakes his head, "You flirt with me at the Bird, and come on out here, in the dark, all alone, and drink all this wine with me and everything… and then every time I make a suggestion, you just laugh and change the subject, like that's not why you came out at all. Weird."
Rose nods. "Very, very weird," she agrees, not seeming terribly concerned about it. "You have my sympathies." She smiles warmly at him. "But I'm glad you brought me here," she says with pleasant candor. The wine has certainly done its work. "And you're actually rather appealing — which of course you know. But I didn't — so it's a pleasant thing to discover. But no, I didn't come out here to hike up my skirts and fuck." She drinks, gazing out over the water. "Just to be under the stars and moon. And be a girl. With someone who looks at me like you do. It's sort of delicious." She shrugs, glancing at him with a smirk. "Also, I'm a bit of a good girl. I've never so much as been kissed. So really, just jumping to the fucking would be a weirder."
Tym laughs as she agrees, a surprised chuckle, and he flops back, head shaking as he settles it on bent arms again. "You're a strange one, Rivers, that's for sure," he says, and then laughs, surprised again, sitting up on one elbow. "You're kidding," he accuses, and then peers at her, and laughs, "You've fucking got to be kidding me. Aren't you? That's just wrong!"
She shakes her head, wide-eyed. "I'm absolutely not kidding you. About fucking, or fucking kidding you, for that matter," She laughs and drinks, passing him the bottle. "I think this one's done." She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. "I… don't get out much."
"Shit," Tym Rivers declares, shaking his head, and taking the empty wine bottle, setting it aside and opening the next, tugging on the cork with his teeth and then drinking deeply. "That's just crazy," he says, and then narrows his eyes and asks, "Are you, like… I dunno. Some kinda secret freak or crazy person or something? You got boy parts or been kept locked up or anything?"
Rose tilts her head, squinting at Tym's question. "Really?" She looks completely non-plussed. "No, I don't have boy parts," she sniffs in disdain. At least not on the outside. "And I haven't been locked up. I'm just…" she considers how to phrase it. "Choosy." She nods, reaching for the bottle. "Anyhow, I've been very, very busy."
Tym holds up both hands, palms out, disavowing responsibility for any offense she may have taken at his question. "Hey, I mean, pretty girl who seems like a good time tells me she's never been kissed, I gotta wonder. Pretty common girl, anyway," he amends, and then abruptly looks at her askance, "You some kinda secret noble or something? Slummin' for the tourney? Wait, nevermind," he waves her off, "Don't tell me. I wanna be able to act surprised when your brother or father or betrothed or whatever strings me up."
Rose can't help but grin at Tym's desire to maintain plausible deniability. She laughs again, shaking her head. "You're funny," she notes, apparently approving. She examines the bottle; takes another drink. "I'm… sort of noble." She shrugs. "A bit. Born that way, anyhow." She glances at Tym. "But there won't be anyone coming after me, so you don't need to worry."
Tym frowns, confused about that for a minute, and then shrugs and reaches for the bottle. He flops down on his side again, and drinks and then asks, "Not gonna be anybody coming after 'cause there isn't anybody or 'cause you're not gonna let me do anything worth coming after me for?"
"Not going to be coming after me because they don't want me any longer," Rose says, only the faintest touch of regret in her voice. Overall, the statement's factual. Without any undue drama. She takes the bottle back and drinks. "I ran away, and took up with an acting troupe." There's a faint, wry smile. "My family presumed I'd disgraced myself. Gone to bed with everyone in the merry band, including the dwarven fire eater."
"So you're an actress?" Tym asks, latching on to the two least-emotionally delicate and thus most interesting to him bits of her statement, going on to muse, "I knew a guy once said he'd fucked a dwarf. Never met one, myself." He shrugs, and says, "So, you're a noble who ran away to be an actress and hasn't fucked a fire eating dwarf." He nods, "Alright. I can get behind that. I'm still callin' you Rivers, though."
"Absolutely correct. A noble who ran away and has not fucked a dwarf." Rose nods as though that neatly sums up her life and everything about her. And drinks, then passes the bottle. "Rivers suits me as well as any name. I no longer have ties to the family that birthed me — quite officially disowned." She gazes at the water again. "Will you take me fishing?"
"Pretty nice being a Rivers," Tym says with a shrug, "I like it, anyways." He frowns a bit. "Fishing? Another time, sure. Not tonight. We haven't got any poles." He pauses, snorts, corrects with a smirk, "Fishing poles."
Rose gives Tym a long, dry look, mirth tugging the corners of her mouth. "Just from sitting here and talking with me? Really?" She glances at his nethers, then back up at his face. "It was talking about the dwarf, wasn't it?"
Tym snorts and then laughs, nodding, "Aye, it's the dwarves. Get me going every time. Never met a fellow who wasn't a bit partial to dwarves," he claims, "Most of us're just shamed to admit it. But I feel like I can be honest with you," he says, so overly-sincere it's got to be a tease, "Tell you the deepest, most secret parts of my soul. And about the dwarves livin' in 'em."
The excessive sincerity definitely hits the mark — she giggles so much that she snorts, startling herself and then laughing all the harder. "Oh. Fuck. That wasn't very ladylike."
"But it was very dwarflike," Tym says, grinning, "I don't know if I can resist much longer. You were already pretty, and now you sound like a dwarf?" He shakes his head, "Overwhelming, that there right there."
Rose flutters her lashes at him and tries to look sultry. It's a world of fail, but it's cute. "Just wait until my beard grows back."
Tym claps a hand to his chest, more or less over his heart, and falls back like he's stricken, for a moment. "Seven help me then! I'll be totally done for," he declares, sitting back up and grinning. He shakes his head, snickering still, and apparently decides this is his moment, leaning over to press his lips to hers.
Still laughing, Rose says, "I — " And that's all she gets to say. Then there are lips on hers and she's being kissed. Not that she didn't expect him to try, she just wasn't sure she'd let him. But she's letting him. And her eyebrows, above eyes still open, furrow for a moment. Weird. Right, odd decision, but it's her first kiss and those don't happen again, so best make the most of it. At which point, she remembers to close her eyes and lean in a bit, one hand finding his shoulder so she doesn't topple over.
Not that she has any basis for comparison, but it's a nice kiss, his lips warm, and surprisingly soft, and just barely parted against hers. His hand on her cheek is callused but light, and once she's touched his shoulder and leaned in, he tilts her chin just slightly, and his own a shade further. He draws back just for a beat, and no further than a milimeter or two, and then kisses her again, not one to quit while he's ahead.
Her brows furrow again as he tilts her chin, then she discovers how their lips fit so much better that way. His are parted just a little, so she does the same. She's a quick study. And very shortly thereafter she's kissing him instead of simply being kissed, a sweet noise in her throat indicating she finds the whole thing more than a little pleasant, her tongue delicately, shyly tasting his lower lip.
The little noise is like a cue for Tym's lips to open just a hint more, and when her tongue beats his out, he lifts the hand that's not on her jaw and discreetly slaps palms in celebration with an invisible man next to him. He lets her have his lower lip, giving her a moment to explore before he tilts their heads just a bit further, kiss growing deeper.
Fade to black.
Some while later, in a room at the Crooked Crane, we find Tym and Rose Rivers in bed, sweat-damp and catching their respective breaths.
It takes Rose a few moments to come back to the material plane. Eventually, her eyes flutter open, and she becomes aware of the man flopped over at her side, and how rather rapidly she was abandoned. She props herself up on her elbows. "What, that's it?" she looks more amused than angry, at least. "You do your little… grunting thing and pull it out and it's over?" Her eyebrows lift.
Tym blinks and peers at Rose for a second, forehead wrinkling as he replies, "Yeah? What, you were screaming because it wasn't good enough for you?" He arches a brow at her skeptically and curls an arm under his head, scratching at his belly and informing her, "I mean, if you want to do it again just gimme a minute."
Rose blinks, then snorts. "No, I was screaming because it was extraordinary, obviously — an extraordinary experience. I certainly see what all the fuss was about, now, but I'm fairly certain I could have gotten there with anyone willing to piston their hips so."
Tym laughs at that, and shakes his head, "You really are a virgin. Were," he corrects, and then chuckles again, "Go on, then. Go pick somebody else down there and see if it's the same. Better yet, ask a whore," he suggests, "Ask 'em how often they feel like screaming for joy." He shrugs, scratching at his stomach again and says, "You'll see. You got no idea how many different ways that could've been crap for you."
She stares at him for a moment, incredulous, then shakes her head and swings her legs out of bed. "I don't know what I was expecting," she says — to herself it seems. "Yes. It was very good. Well done, Tym." She slips into her chemise and goes about fixing her hair as best she can.
Tym looks puzzled, and sits up a little to watch as she gets up, frowning. "Did I do something?" he asks eventually, after a slightly too-long silence, "'cause I don't get what the problem is, here. You had fun, right? I had fun. We had fun," he gestures between them, and then spreads his hands in a questioning shrug, "So what's the matter?"
Rose slips her gown over her head, lacing up the sides. "Nothing's the matter," she replies, a bit briskly. Then, looking on his confusion and taking something akin to pity, she explains, "A few people whose opinion I value have been telling me for some time that I should just… get this over with." She pads over and sits on the edge of the bed beside him, turning her head to regard him. "It wasn't really what I'd planned to do tonight, but the opportunity was there — and I figured you'd be good at it. And I was right. You are. The sex part, anyhow." She smiles wryly. "My primary objection to my friends' advice was that I thought it should be with someone I loved, but what they said was true — you don't need to love someone to fuck." She tilts her head. "I think it's probably for the part afterward."
She slips into her shoes, then leans over and kisses his cheek. "Thank you, Tym Rivers. I'm sure you're right. That could have been awful — and it wasn't."
"I even stayed awake and everything," Tym protests mildly, clearly still somewhat baffled by her issue with his behavior, "I mean, a guy's got to catch his breath, what d'you want? Come on, what're you running off for?" he asks, "You're just gonna do it once and then stop? Not at all curious what the second time's like? Here's a hint: it's longer."
Dimples appear on her cheeks. "No one stays mad at you for long, do they?" She reaches out and brushes his hair back. "At least no one female." She shakes her head. "I have to be up in three hours. I'm afraid I can't stay for the encore."
Tym smiles as she brushes his hair back and then laughs at her refusal, "Sevens, Rivers, it's not that much longer." He grins, and wheedles, tugging on her hand, "Half an hour. You'll sleep better after, trust me. Besides," he points out, "This is your room, remember?"
Rose blinks, looking blank for a moment. "So it is," she says, finally. She glances about. "But only for one night. I have to get back. There'll be hells to pay if I'm missing." She leans in and kisses him quickly. "You really don't want to know." She's up and across the room before he can have a chance to test her resolve, grabbing a satchel from near the door. "Sleep well, Tym Rivers."
Tym looks a little puzzled, and mildly disappointed, but shrugs and gives a little wave. "Alright," he says, "Have a good one, Rose Rivers. See you around, I guess. Watch out for dwarves." And with that he settles back, apparently more than happy to make use of the room if she's not going to.