Page 036: Bonds of Family
Bonds of Family
Summary: Jacsen and Jarod catch up over copious amounts of wine, but alas no women or song. Some things are left unsaid, if not quite unasked.
Date: 17/08/2011
Related Logs: A Brother Returns
Jarod Jacsen 
Jarod's Chamber
A messy room with an open bar.
Wed Aug 17, 288

It's past sunset and the day is getting low at Four Eagles Tower. Jarod's spending tonight in the castle and is tucked away in his chamber. His room is a perpetually untidy place, as he has a dislike for putting things in drawers or picking them up off the floor, but the castle servants manage to keep him from living in complete filth. The walls are decorated with a few hunting trophies, as well as the golden wing on black banner he wears on his shield, his bastard heraldry since he can't properly wear Terrick colors in tournaments and the like. He's presently seated at a writing table, brow heavily furrowed as he goes over some ledger dealing with equipment for the Guard. A sleek tomcat is curled up on his bed, snoozing, but apart from that beast he's alone. The room is reasonably well-lit by several candles, and he's nursing a cup of wine while he frowns at his work.

There is a rap upon his door, the sound of it lower upon the thing than one might expect were it a servant or an interloping sibling. Low, even, were there a child about, and seeking the Guard Captain's attention. Low, that is, for anyone not rapping on their brother's door with the end of his cane. "You'd best be decent in there," Jacsen warns, before the door begins to swing open beneath his insistent hand. "And reasonably sober."

"Come in and see for yourself, wouldn't want to spoil the surprise," Jarod calls jovially. The door's unlocked and opens easily enough. He does, indeed, still look reasonably sober. For the moment. He looks up, grinning. "Get in here, little brother, before I waste anymore of my time on actual business." He pours another cup of wine from his flagon, without bothering to ask if Jacsen wants one. It's assumed. "Unless you're here on actual business, of course, though I pray nobody needs that of me at this hour. Went a day without a body appearing in an alleyway and I'm hoping that's how I'll keep it."

"With such a sweet dream as that, even if I had news of a few, I might let them keep til morning," Jacsen confesses to his brother, nudging the door closed behind him. He carries a small basket, loaf of fresh bread and wheel of cheese evident just partially covered by cloth, and he sets it on the writing table his brother's at, leaning heavily on his cane. "Thought I might come and save you from the doldrums of paperwork." He gives the pages a brief look and smirks. "The glories of duty, hmm, Jar?"

"You've a kind soul. Let's drink to it. And various other things. I'm sure we can make up an appropriately high number of things to drink to that'll get us reasonably unsober quick enough. Food! Well done." Jarod puts the wine cup within easy reach. It's dark red, and heavier than the sweet summerwine that's presently favored at the dinner tables. That done, he stands and strides to nudge a spare chair over to the table for Jacsen. "Glories, heh. I never realized how much went into ordering the men-at-arms in a household. Trying to work out drill schedules. Which we should increase. I think. Not sure. I should ask the older men about it, they've been serving the house longer than me."

Jacsen sets his cane aside and gingerly lowers himself into the chair, a quirk of a smile favoring his mouth. "Plenty of things to drink to, yes," he eagerly agrees as he settles in. "So speaking of the older men… how has your appointment gone over with them?" He leans forward to claim his cup of wine, and takes a slow, savoring sip. "Well, I hope."

"It's a little strange," Jarod admits, plopping back down into the chair he was occupying before. "Some of them have been with the House a long time. I used to irritate the oldest ones when I was a page." He smirks. "They're good men, though. They know their job, serve the halls well in steel and blood and all that. I try and do right by them. I wonder if father wouldn't have been better off appointing one of them to the position, though."

He leans back into the chair and lifts one shoulder in a shrug. "Blood matters, even if it does not always carry the name," Jacsen points out, a glance at the golden wing on black banner his brother sports a clear indication of his meaning. "There are scores of men willing to be loyal, even skilled, but far fewer you know carry the bonds of family. I suspect our lord father had the same thought in mind when he decided upon you." He puts down his wine after another swallow and reaches to tear a piece of the twisted loaf of bread he brought along. "You'll have some growing pains, certainly, but we'll all come out on the other end better for it, I reckon."

"Father's given me a great deal in my life, none of which he was obligated to give," Jarod says, eyes also flicking to his makeshift banner. "I just…I do try and earn it. To pay him back some for it. And I hope I don't disappoint him." He gulps some wine, before also ripping himself off a hunk of bread. "You like that?" He gestures his cup toward the black banner. "Wasn't quite sure what to do for it, when I had to put it together."

"I think it suits well enough," Jacsen remarks, tearing off a mouthful of bread with his teeth, and chewing it thoughtfully. "What made you decide on the black and a golden wing?" He swallows the morsel of bread and reaches for his cup. "I've seen a lot of banners that just make me wonder what the man who made them must have been thinking. That you avoided that fate," he suggests, gesturing at Jarod's banner with his index finger, while the rest hold fast his bread, "Well, that itself is worth mention."

"I wanted to use something that called back a bit to the Terricks," Jarod says, experimentally dipping the tip of his bread into his wine cup. He chomps it. And shrugs. It's not an overly impressive experiment. "Nothing overly presumptuous, but I figured it'd all right, as I was entering service here. Wing's in Terrick gold, and I figure it calls to mind half an eagle." He grins. "Might as well make the joke first if the world's going to make it on you, eh? As for the black…I think the ladies like it. Has an air of danger, and mystery." With that boyish grin on his face, he looks neither particularly dangerous nor mysterious.

His shoulders shake a bit with laughter, whether at the joke of half a Terrick or the airs the banner gives off, it is hard to say. "Well, I can see where that all makes sense," Jacsen concedes, finishing the bread in his hands and reaching for the cheese knife in the basket. "I'll be sure to keep all my paramours away from you, Jar, lest you inspire in their nethers an insatiable desire to brave danger, and solve mystery." His lips curve as he pops a bite of cheese into his mouth, and offers the knife handle first over to Jarod. "Like as not we'll have an unending stream of quarter-winged lads calling you papa before long."

"I would never poach my little brother's quarries," Jarod says, in mock offense. "Our tastes are different enough that I figure we can pluck the fields without troubling each other too much. You take the ones who can read, I'll enjoy the rest." He takes the knife and slices off a few bits of cheese, enough to get himself the makings of a decent cheese sandwich. As for the last, "Ha! Not any time soon, if I've my way of it, prayers each day and night to the powers of moon tea and good timing. I've no wish to make a Rivers Rivers yet. What about you? Any particular maiden - or un-maiden - mourning your departure from Seagard?"

Jacsen snorts with laughter at that last, popping another mouthful of cheese as he shakes his head. "No, I'm afraid," he says, without elaborating. "What about you, brother? Have a particular lovely face that you find yourself calling on more than the rest?" He swallows the rest of his cup of wine, and pours a refill without finding much point to asking first.

"No," Jarod replies in kind, shaking his head. And taking a moment to drink. Then he continues assembling his sandwich, tearing the bread in half rather than cutting it, and sticking the cheese slices inbetween. It's a pretty rudimentary assemblage, all things considered. "Mainly I keep the fine whores at Rockcliff well-supported. Got to make use of your own town's tradespeople, after all. I'm contributing to the tax base. Or…something." He chuckles. "Besides, keeps things simple." He cranes his neck toward the cat on his bed. "I'm fostering that thing for one of them, actually."

He eyes the tomcat a moment. "I was going to ask what you were doing with one of those… not that the answer makes much sense itself." Jacsen glances down into his cup before he takes a small sip, measuring himself in contrast with his quick downing of the first. "Fostering someone's pet doesn't sound completely uncomplicated, my dear tax-minded brother," he teases lightly, "Who is she?"

Jarod shrugs, his mouth half-full of sandwich as he replies, "She asked. Didn't figure I could say no. One of the other girls might've been better-suited for it but, oh well. He's not bad company. His name was Mittens." He grimaces. "I've changed it, though. I've taken to calling him Ser Batholemew. Get it? It's a pun. You know. Mew." Another shrug. "Rowan suggested it. His last act in my service, that, so I'll give it to him. And I guess it was a bit complicated, though I can say honest none of it was on my part. You heard the name Amelia of Seagard bandied about?" He waits, to see if Jacsen has. In the meantime, he refills his wine cup.

After laughing at the Batholemew joke, Jacsen shakes his head a bit. "I cannot say that I'm familiar with it, no. But I'm listening," he assures his brother, one of his hands idly dropping to his right leg, that the ruined of the two, where he begins to massage the muscle in this upper thigh lightly.

"Well, that's a long tale, but I'll try and make the short of it, because we've far more fun things to discuss," Jarod says. "Amelia was one of the whores who worked the inn. I used her a fair few times myself, won't deny it. She did a man good services. She was a favorite of Uncle Revyn's, too, when he wanted that sort of thing. And she was the one who relieved Jaremy of his virginity when he was sixteen." He grins, chuckling. "Not me, of course." His own went to a pretty brunette town girl a couple years his senior, just before they left to squire with the Mallisters. "Anyhow. I don't think Jaremy and Amelia had been seeing eachother in the carnal sense for years. He got off it when he finally decided he wanted to marry Isolde Tordane. Too little too late, that, but I guess I can appreciate the attempt at virtue. They seemed to stay close, though." He says it as if he's troubled by it. Though before going on, watching Jacsen, he asks, "It still hurt?" The leg, he must mean.

A cloud comes over Jacsen's features at that last, a glance spared his leg, and one could be forgiven for missing the softly worded answer. "Always." He reaches for wine again, downing a healthy mouthful. "Jaremy is a loyal fellow, perhaps to a fault at times," he points out. "It would not surprise me that, whether he bedded her or not, he'd find some fondness for the woman." He lets out a breath. "So, you're keeping her pet, which means she is gone. But where and why?"

Jarod doesn't miss the answer, watching Jacsen close and quiet as he gives it. He nods, quiet for a moment, just drinking along with his brother. Eventually he does speak again, back on the subject of the whore. "Jaremy's got a good heart. He wants to take all the world into it. He hasn't seen enough of the ugly parts of it to know there's some things that're best kept out. And aye. She's gone. For good, if she's any wisdom in her. I told her if I were her I'd make for King's Landing, but I don't know if she listened."

He takes another gulp of wine before going on. "She got mixed up in some of our family's business. I honestly still don't understand the whole of it. I didn't ask Jaremy too much. Figured it was none of my business and if he did bear her some…fondness…" A shrug. "…figured it might be best not to pry. There was this incident in town. Ser Rygar Nayland - Lord Ryker's cousin - rode in with a writ of arrest from Stonebridge. Claiming Amelia had stolen some silver from the Tordane treasury. Jaremy wouldn't let him take her. It got kind of heated. Then, not too long ago, she and Jaremy got into some sort of…fight at Rockcliff. Public, rather embarrassing incident. She hit him across the face, and he struck her back. Had her arrested, for striking a highlord. Which, from talking to her, was what she wanted him to do." He shakes his head. "It was that which prompted her to leave the Roost, after she was released from our dungeons. Seemed to be bringing a mess of trouble on herself, the more she got wrapped up with our family."

Jacsen shakes his head quietly, setting down his wine and resting his head against the wall behind the chair. "He's the damned first born, he should know better than to let some whore get in the way of family business. I'll wager well that she goes little further than Seaguard, and wager even more that she does not leave the Riverlands." He settles a hand on the table and the other rests upon his leg. "It's a different life for a whore in a place like King's Landing, Lannisport, any of the great cities. Here it's more provincial, most people of note know one another, none can afford to be particularly unkind or cruel… Too many bruises show up on a girl when Jarod Rivers or one of his friends comes to play, and I am certain you'd put an end to the abuse." He turns his head to look at Jarod, his head still against the wall behind his seat. "She's the affection of the future Lord of Terrick's Roost, Jar. She'll be back, hoping for the day our dear brother gives her a Rivers of her own."

"I don't think he's had her in ages," Jarod says. "More chance of that from me than him, and I do try and see the girls I go with regular are good about taking their moon tea. I pay for the components, even. I'm a gentleman." But despite the attempt at a joke, there's worry underlying his manner. "I'd not bet against that, but I hope you're wrong. Well, for now she's gone, and hopefully happier. And Jaremy's rid of her, and I've got nothing but her pussy." He beams. He has totally been working on that joke. Perhaps refining it just for this occasion.

His brother's serious facade cannot help but crack at that last bit, and a morsel of bread gets tossed at Jarod's head for the trouble. "I bet you've been saving that one," Jacsen insists, his shoulders shaking despite himself. "And it doesn't hurt that Anais is as fine on the eyes as most women I've ever laid mine on. You don't suppose he could get elevated to the Kingsguard that I might have to do my brotherly duty and wed her for him, hmm?" He's teasing, clearly, and chases it with another mouthful of wine.

Jarod laughs heartily, getting solidly hit in the forehead by the thrown bread. He picks off a small piece of his own and throws it back at Jacsen. "Rapier wit like mine takes time to compose, little brother. Ah, the pretty and witty and blonde Lady Banefort." He raises his glass in a toast. "It's baffling, isn't it? Jaremy fucks up and dawdles with Isolde, loses both her and Stonebridge. So he's punished with…a gorgeous and spirited Westerlands lady who brings us ships and a tie to Lord Tywin Lannister. You and me need to be more disgraceful, I think. I wonder if we can fuck something up royally enough to have father ship us in a couple of Dornish girls?"

"I don't know," Jacsen responds, laughing, "But I'll be damn sure to ask him the next time we speak. If only I can let him know it was your idea." He raises his cup towards his brother. "To our Seven-blessed elder brother. May we be fortunate to have but a sliver of the good fortune they have seemed to heap upon him."

"To Jaremy, so lucky he doesn't even know it," Jarod says, raising his cup and toasting his eldest half-brother gladly. He drinks deep, then chuckles. "Not that I should complain. I'm as lucky a bastard as you'll find in the Riverlands, which I do try and remember. Still…if father does want to ship me in a Dornish girl as reward, I'd not turn her away. It's funny…" He pauses a minute, to get what he wants to say properly in his head. "When we were younger, I did figure he'd get the balls to do it one day. Give up the title, make a go at joining the Kingsguard."

"Then damn the both of you for your luck," Jacsen remarks, mirthful despite the contrast of fortunes one could easily draw between he and his brothers. "Mm. Why a Dornish girl? For the exotic skin, the taste of spice on her skin?" he wonders aloud, "It sounds delectable. Though I wouldn't mind spending my winter burrowed beneath a mass of bear furs and inside some Northern maiden either." That last comment is not lost on him either, asked about through a mouthful of bread. "Why do you think he never did?"

"I figure if I'm ever going to make the eight, that'll be the toughest one to get done. Strictly by geography. Now, the North, you and me could knock out on a hunting trip some month, if we aren't afraid of summer snows," Jarod says. The bit about luck makes him smirk, though it's a little wistful. "Well, we need it more than you. You've the wits to actually make it through the world yourself. Jaremy and I muddle through only by the grace of the Seven and skin of our teeth."

The last question he gives more though, drinking deeper of his wine. "I don't know, really. I figured he would after he got his knighthood. It was all he used to talk about. And if he did…well, it'd just be a matter of you becoming my fair lord brother instead, and that'd be just fine for father and for the land itself. Though there are only ever seven in the Kingsguard. Best knights in the land. I don't think I'd ever have a chance in seven hells at it, even if I didn't get struck by lightning trying to put on that pure white cloak." He chuckles. "Maybe he felt a duty to the land, to the people. To father. Maybe he realized he was in love with Isolde, though it seems like that still happened too late for it to've stopped him. He should've just married her five years ago, or three, or two. Lady Banefort aside, if I were him I'd have realized I was never going to do better and been glad of it the moment it was offered." He's always held Isolde Tordane in high esteem. And perhaps more affection than is strictly appropriate, not that he'd likely admit it.

"I don't know about that… granted, the headaches would be fewer and far between had he just married her when he had the chance," Jacsen points out, "What might have come of it now? Oldstones riding to the Roost insisting that our brother's new land was anything but? Rather than sitting here in the position of navigating the twists and turns of things between Ser Gedeon and the Naylands, we'd be the ones left to defend Valda Tordane." He tips his head back and drains the remainder of the second cup, and holds it out to his brother for a third. "Imagine what might have been, were Jaremy Lord of Stonebridge, and the letters proven true? Even if they could not carry weight enough to change anything, the honor in Remy and father both would strangle them for keeping silent." He shakes his head. "A fine mess, all of it, but I wonder how much worse it could be with a Terrick at the heart."

"Ser Gedeon claims he'd not have ever made those letters public, if Isolde had married Jaremy like our father and Lord Geoffrey planned," Jarod says. "Because that was what Lord Geoffrey wanted. That's what he said to me when he showed me them, anyway." He pauses a moment, pouring himself more wine. "He…umm…came to me with those letters the night the tournament ended. Before he'd taken them to Isolde. Before he'd shown them to anyone, I think." He admits it in a mutter, and it's followed by deep drinking.

Jacsen's brow raises at that bit of news, though the inevitable reproach is mostly kept out of his voice. "And you did not take them to father, when you saw them?" he wonders, swallowing whatever else his opinion might be on that decision down along with a mouthful of wine.

"No," Jarod admits it with reproach in his own tone, slouching down in his chair. "No, though I know I should've. Taken Gedeon and them straight to our lord father, before Lady Valda had any chance to get her claws on them. I didn't though. Gedeon figured he owed it to Isolde to show them to her before anything public was made of them and I sort of…agreed." Drink.

The smaller of the two brothers, the weight and muscle he'd earned as a squire long since faded with his dreams of knighthood, leans over and puts a hand on Jarod's shoulder. "I'll not fault you for being who you are, Jarod," Jacsen assures his brother, in a tone that is both frank and fond, "Trusting, lovable, honorable, bull's ass that you are. And I'll not insist on nothing, but…" He recedes back into his chair. "I'm here now. When… situations like this come up, I'd feel much more useful, and less the shamed cripple, if you'd let me at least advise you."

Jarod leans toward his brother when he puts that hand on his shoulder, head dropping down. "I fucked that up fairly royally, didn't I?" he admits with a long sigh. "Figure I might have earned that Dornish girl by it. And aye. This is why I said when you rode up we needed you here, remember? Even if you've a bum leg, I don't believe you could ever do anything shameful. And I know. I've gone over it in my head a hundred times, and given what happened, especially with that poison in Gedeon's wine…well, I can say I wish I'd done it different if I'd known how it'd go. Not knowing…" He shrugs. "…I guess at the time I just figured…if it'd been something like that between me and Jaremy, or you, or Lu or any of us…well, it would've been best to settle up between ourselves before it went out into the world, wouldn't it? We'd at least protect each other. I figured Isolde would handle it…different with her brother…" He amends, with some bitterness. "…her half-brother, than she did."

"I love you well, brother, more than you know," Jacsen assures his bastard kin, "But you and Jaremy seem to be making quite the pair of late." He shakes his head, though he cannot hide his almost amused, and certainly fond, smile. "We can't change what happened, though, no matter how much we wish we could. And I know for a certain fact that we've no time to feel sorry for ourselves. It's all we can do to learn our lesson, and move forward. Isolde might have worn the Tordane name, but even if she /is/ Lord Geoffrey's trueborn daughter, she is every inch the daughter of Valda Frey. Don't let your heart cloud your judgment, no matter how fond you remember her. That's the lesson here. Make peace with it, and dwell on the rest no more."

"Aye, perhaps she is at that," Jarod admits it softly, albeit with more regret than conviction. "And I have learned a lesson by it, I'd like to think." He looks up to return the smile, with a rather sheepish grin. "So, how badly does Lord Jason Mallister want to kill us at this point? Over the loss of Stonebridge, that is. Did he send you back here to rescue us from ourselves, or did you just figure you needed to come back before things entirely fell apart?"

Now it's Jacsen's turn to give something of a sheepish smile. "You'd not want to hear how he put it, let us leave it at that." He holds up his cup of wine, and glances down at the contents, giving them a slight swirl with a flick of his wrist. "I've wanted to come back for a long while, Jarod. When Lucienne left Seaguard to come back here it was… difficult to remain. But I…" Didn't want you all to see me like this. "… Lord Mallister had need of me. Gave me a place of respect, duties to be responsible for. When he said he needed me to come home, though, I… was very glad for it."

"I'm sorry I left as quick as I did, after the Trident," Jarod says. "Back then I just wanted to get away from it. As far away as I could. Looking back though…I figure it would've been better for me to stay awhile longer. Maybe a year or two, at least, done the first of my service with Lord Jason before going home to father. I think he would've taken me on. It was…it was funny being back here, after everything. The castle seemed…smaller than it had when I left. And I…I don't know…I didn't feel quite right in my own skin for awhile after it was all over. Maybe it wouldn't have been easier in Seagard but we would've been together, at least."

He shakes his head a bit at his brother's apology. "It changed all of us, Jarod," Jacsen reminds his brother, "And I don't know that I wouldn't have felt the same at the time, had things turned out differently. I'm just glad that after it all, you're still… you. I've seen others changed too far to recall who they had used to be. So don't apologize," he insists. "In our own ways, we all did what we needed to survive."

"Those were hard and ugly days, little brother. But, aye. They're over and done now. I got my head back on straight after awhile. It was just…I really missed you, missed all the men I'd fought with there. Back here…I mean, Jaremy tried to talk to me about it. I don't figure I was very good at letting him. I just…I'd been so proud I got to go, you know? Finally, here was a thing we got to do that Jaremy didn't. And we were going to great glorious heroes and save the Seven Kingdoms and all that rot." Jarod snorts, shaking his head and taking a very deep gulp of wine. "I couldn't put into words how it'd really been. I couldn't talk to anybody, really, except…" He trails off, drinking and shrugging. "…well, that's done now. Just saying, Seagard might've been better for it."

Blue eyes that favor the candlelight do not spare Jarod when he imbibes that drink and tries to shrug off the name that had danced on the precipice of being spoken. "War is not half so glorious and grand as the stories like to tell, save perhaps for those rare few like Rhaegar and Robert, upon whom the fate of the realm was decided." Jacsen taps the rim of his wine cup once, and then twice, before rounding about and asking, "Except who, Jar?"

"Whenever anybody asks me about the Trident, they always ask what it was like seeing Robert Baratheon down Prince Rhaegar Targaryen," Jarod says, totally ignoring the last question. As if he didn't hear it at all. "Like they can't believe you could've been there and not seen it happen. Like it was the only thing that happened. I didn't even realize Prince Rhaegar was dead until Ser Vernon told me, heard it like it was a story already."

Jacsen reaches for a fistful of bread, torn from the much diminished loaf he brought to share. "Like they were as tall as they say the Wall in the North is, that among thousands of men we could all see," he shakes his head, chuckling faintly. "I suppose none of them would like the honest answer." He chews on a bite of the bread, and adds, "So is this where Rowan learned it? Keeping secrets, I mean." He frowns over a mouthful, and shrugs a touch. "I suppose it doesn't matter. Just not used to you keeping something from me. But we're not all so young and free anymore."

Jarod chuckles himself at that, settling down in his chair and gnawing on his sandwich. The last remnants of it. He's mostly here for the wine at this point. "That is a more entertaining version of it. I don't…" Blink, blink, blink. Eyes narrow. "…what's this about Rowan now?" He tries to ask it in a very casual and cagey fashion, and of course sort of fails.

Jacsen's lips thin slightly, his demeanor making clear a preference for the sort of warm brotherly camaraderie they've shared over bread, cheese, and wine. "I spoke with your former squire, Jar. We met somewhat by happenstance, and shared quite a few words. I know that that tale you gave me… about Rowan and his training, and the Kingsguard? It's horseshit," he says, tone clear on how he feels about his brother feeding him such a line. "But the young man claims whatever the reason you dismissed him, it's a secret that affects him alone, and so I left it be. That he has love for you, and our kin, is obvious. Being a Nayland besides? Had I been here, I would've asked you to do anything but send him away, but it is too late for that."

Jarod sighs heavy, looking down at his hands, then up at Jacsen. "Jace, I swear to you, I couldn't keep Rowan in my service. Not in any way that'd satisfy my honor. As for his secret…aye, he's got one. And it could ruin him if it came out, and I suppose he's still too much a friend to me for me not to keep it for him. But it's his and only his, and like I said, my honor is satisfied. It's not something our house could come to any harm by, no way I can see. I know I might've said some things that make you not trust my judgment greatly but…I do believe that. As for secrets…" He shrugs, somewhat blurry green eyes trying to meet his brother's blue ones. "…I figure all men've done things they aren't proud of, if they've lived to do much of anything at all. I just try and do the best I can now, and hope I'll be worth the lot of you loving me for it."

"Just know that you make that decision not just for yourself…" Jacsen tells his brother, before nodding at the black and gold banner, "… but for the rest of us as well." He reaches for his cane, and uses it to begin pushing himself up to his feet, less steady than he was when he first came in. "Now come here and let me squeeze you in a hug once more. I'm not quite over my mirth at seeing you all again." He offers Jarod a true, warm smile, one that seems willing and grateful to push the rest of their conversation aside.

"I…" And for a minute it seems like Jarod might just break down and spill whatever Rowan confidentiality he has. But he doesn't. "Aye." He stands, waveringly, and catches Jacsen in a rough embrace. "Thanks." Unclear if it's for the food and drink or not pressing him on the other matters, or just in general. "They got your rooms fixed up yet? If not, you can take the bed here for the night if you want. The cat won't mind."

"Fixed up well enough, and plenty of blankets to keep me warm," Jacsen confirms for his brother, clapping on the back and squeezing him one last time. "I love you, for all that you're sometimes a pain in the ass, Jar. I pray you always remember that, no matter how I might seem."

"I love you, too, little brother, even if you are a git who's smarter than me. For which I figure we're better off," Jarod says. "C'mon, then. I'll walk you home. Gentleman that I am." He stumbles to get the door for Jacsen, at least. "We should do this again. Often. I mean, minus the depressing stuff. But definitely the rest of it."