Page 072: Collapsing
Summary: Jarod does so with Rowan after two long, fruitless days of Jaremy-searching.
Date: 25/09/288
Related Logs: May the Warrior Guide Me and other Gone Jaremy Gone logs
Jarod Rowan 
Jarod's Chambers — Four Eagles Tower
Ser Jarod Rivers occupies one of the smaller private chambers in Four Eagles Tower. Nevertheless, it's comfortable and private, and has a homey feeling to it. Its occupant is not a tidy soul, having little appreciation for picking up after himself or keeping things in drawers, but the castle servants manage to keep it from degenerating into filth. Dark woven rugs cover the stone floor, though the one stretched in front of the hearth is made of brown buckskin. Other hunting trophies hang on the walls, including a set of boar's tusks. Two more artistic items hang over the hearth. One tapestry depicts a knight in armor with a lance riding a dragon toward the sun. The other is a black banner with the crest of a single golden eagle's wing: Ser Rivers' bastard heraldry. The bed is large and covered in good sheets and blankets, with dark furs at the base that can be pulled up on particularly cold nights. There are no books visible, but there is a writing desk equipped with parchment and ink, and drawers for personal correspondence or paperwork. A weapon's rack, close enough to the bed to be within easy reach, holds his sword, bow and shield. There's also a trunk for his other personal belongings, and a wardrobe that's devoted to what might be a surprising amount of clothing. None of its flashy, but he's devoted a lot of his pocket money to good tunics, doublets and cloaks in shades of green, blue and other dark but bold colors, most with subtle but fashionable embroidery.
Sun Sep 25, 288

Ser Jarod Rivers has spent very little time in the tower during the past two days. He's been up with the sun riding out, then back as the sun sets, to wolf some dinner and collapse in his chambers. The dinner - a bit of chicken, some bread and cheese, and a cup of wine, sits by his bedside table. Though presently he's doing more of the collapsing. He's sprawled on his bed, boots and sword off but otherwise still dressed in travel-stained clothing. His cat is curled up at his feet, sleeping. As it does.

There's a quick, faint knock at the door — but before any inviting or banishing or even inquiring can be voiced, Rowan slips inside. She looks deeply worried and apologetic, all at once. "I'm sorry," she says immediately, locking the door. "Please don't be cross. I was very careful — no one saw me." And with that, she comes to the bed, sitting on the edge with one leg tucked beneath her, a hand resting gently on his leg. "Something's going on," though she clearly has no idea what, that something's amiss has been obvious in numerous ways. "I'm worried about you."

The door's unlocked, so slipping in isn't difficult. With a grunt Jarod sits up, plainly expecting to see some sort of household retainer or possibly one of his siblings. Though he smiles when he sees it's Rowan instead. "Lock the door behind you," he asks of her. Presuming she does that, he's not cross with her. "Come here." He sits up to hug her, in fact, folding his arms around her. And kind of leaning against her. He is very tired.

She does as asked in each count, and gladly, enfolding him in her arms and stroking his hair, kissing his brow. "Sweetheart," she whispers, one hand moving to trace soothingly up and down his back. "What is it?" She sounds even more worried, now, but attempts to lighten it with a breath if a laugh. "Do I need to break someone's kneecaps for you?"

Jarod blinks when she calls him 'Sweetheart.' Some things with her are still. Just. So. Weird. For him. But he doesn't object, really. He just hugs her. He really needs a hug right now. Her quip gets a soft chuckle from him, but it sounds half-forced. "Jaremy's gone," he says. Which is all he can say for the moment. Though theoretically there's more to the story than that.

There are a good many questions that might follow a statement like that — Gone where? Why? When? For how long? But… some of those she suspects, others she can intuit — and none of the particulars are nearly as important as the end result. Jarod, broken-hearted. She buries her face in his hair and hugs him tight as tight can be, slender arms uncommonly powerful for their uncommon use. "Oh, Jarod… I'm so sorry," is all she says, letting him add details or not, in his own time.

Jarod does just hug her for awhile, without offering any details. That, clearly, feels very good right now. Finally though he does loosen his grip on her a little, laying back down, semi-propped up against his headboard. "He left…not yesterday. In the night, the day before. Didn't talk to anybody, just up and left. There was a note." He snorts. "It said…Seven hells. It said he 'couldn't bear the shame he'd brought on the Terrick name' anymore and that he was renouncing his claim to the name, title, all of it, and going off to 'win back the respect of the people' and hoped the 'Warrior would guide him on the road to redemption.' He signed it 'Jaremy Rivers.'" That just makes him laugh, all exasperated and very, very fond at the same time, and shake his head.

Rowan grimaces, uttering a groan — more exasperated than fond, for her part, but entirely sympathetic to Jarod, at least. "Sodding hells, but he can be a thrice-buggered drama queen." She snorts. "And that's me talking." She slips down a bit to rest her head against his shoulder, arms still twined around him. "So that's what all the commotion's been about… you've all been out looking for him." She sighs and punches his other shoulder lightly. "You might've told me. I could have helped." She adds immediately, "I will help, from here in."

Jarod will keep holding her for as long as she'll let him. He lays his head on her shoulder. "Nobody knew the truth of it save myself and Jace and Luci last night. Then we told father and…he's trying to keep it quiet. We all are. If we find him, maybe we can just settle things. Get him back. Fix it before the whole world has to know. He's family, Rowenna. Whatever father says. He'll always been family." Though he adds, voice truly grieved, "Though he's not a Rivers. He hasn't the right to it. A Rivers isn't the absence of a name. It's acknowledgment. If father didn't want me to be his son, I'd just have my mother's name. And Jaremy…" He swallows. "Father said he's not his son anymore, until he answers for this. And he's disinherited Jaremy. Did it in front of me and Jace and some of the retainers, for true. I…I never thought he would."

"Shhh," she soothes, kissing his forehead and cheeks, the bridge of his nose. She rests her forehead against his, stroking his arms and shoulders. "Nothing's permanent. Nothing's broken. Off course for a while, maybe… but we can fix this. We'll find him, or… or worst case, he'll come back when he's ready. And then we can all help repair things between him and your father. He disowned him, but he said 'until'… He left him an out, Jare. Or a way back in, I guess. Regardless, this is all far from over. Don't despair."

Jarod kisses her when she rests her forehead against his. Just once, softly, though he stays close to her like that. "He'll always be my brother, whatever happens. Whatever he does. And…aye. I think father would take him back if he came home, admitted he'd been an ass. Maybe let him be Jaremy Terrick again. But he's given up the title and…I don't think there's any way of him taking that back. I don't think father would have it." He sounds more thoughtful than sad about this. "And…don't tell Jace I said so, or Luci, or anyone but…maybe that's not so bad."

Her fingers comb tenderly through his hair; she nods slightly, though not enough to disturb their heads resting together. "I think you're right," she whispers. "But I promise not to tell. Truly, Jarod, Jaremy's been trying to buck the onus of being heir for… forever? Really? First the Kingsguard, then Stonebridge, Amy — all the wild schemes. He's set himself up to fail over and over again — deep down… deep down in his heart of hearts, I think this is what he's always wanted. To have the responsibility taken from him. And Jack will make as fine a lord as anyone's ever seen. This will all work out."

"He never wanted any of it, not really. People want what they can't have and Jaremy…he just wanted the freedom, I think, to ride off over the next hill, love the girl he wanted to love, be a great knight. And maybe…maybe he'll have that now." Jarod sounds almost happy for him, though still very sad to have lost his elder brother. "I'm not worried about him. I think the others are but…I'm not, really. I think what hurt him most was having been in a gilded cage in the Roost. And maybe the world'll knock him around some but…that's not so bad. That's life. And I think he's strong enough to stand up to it." At her words about Jacsen, he nods. "It's funny. I don't mean funny like a joke I mean…well. You know what I mean. But this is who I always figured it'd be. Jaremy riding off to be a grand knight like in the tales, maybe he'll even join the Kingsguard one day. Then the title'll pass to Jace, and he'll be my fair lord brother, and he'll be grand at it, so there's no problem there. And me…" He laughs, his hands running down to caress the curve of her waist. "…I'm in bed with a pretty girl. Which is just fine by me."

"You've not lost him forever, Jare," Rowan promises, brushing the side of his nose with hers, nuzzling. "He loves you. He loves your brother and sister and father and the Roost. He'll be back some day — this is just… his time. The time he should have had long ago, to be on his own and… figure himself out. He'll come back, and he'll come back better for it." His conclusion makes her smile, though there's a little melancholy in it, as though she's taken some of his sorrow on herself. "You're a lucky bastard," she chuckles, lashes lowering as she kisses him.

"Damn right I am," Jarod murmurs, kissing her back, long and deep. He's smiling a little when that's done, idly reaching his fingers play with her dark curls around her ears. "And…I hope so. I do think he'll come back to us, better for it, on his own in time. Except…I've been out looking for him these past couple days. Couldn't find his trail. But some folk in town who saw him said he was last spotted heading east." Pause. "Toward Stonebridge."

"Mmmm," sighs Rowan, practically purring for having been so well-kissed, eyes lidding as he toys with her hair. When he says 'Stonebridge', however, her eyes snap open and she winces. "Fuck." That could be bad on so many levels. "You're going tomorrow, then?" she asks, though it's barely a question. And clearly what she, herself, thinks should be done.

"Yes. That about sums it up." Jarod laughs, but it's a hapless, 'wtf' sort of laugh. He nods. "Aye. I sent some retainers down there already to try and pick up his trail but I figure, if he's going to run into trouble anywhere, he'll make it for himself in Stonebridge. Or perhaps the Mire beyond. There are some funny rumors floating around about Lady Isolde." Though he pauses and adds, "Luci told me she's safe. In the Mire. She writes to the Lady Igara, who I guess is with her." Still, he sounds more worried than perhaps he intends to let on. "But I don't figure Jaremy bothered to ask her. Or any of us. Just…might've run off to try and be the hero, which'll be disaster if anything will."

Rowan sighs and rests her head on his shoulder again, looking wearied by the very thought. "Gods, so much folly." She closes her eyes a moment, then lifts her head to look at him again. "Stonebridge, then — finding his cast of players absent, the Mire. Failing that, Oldstones… and possibly Pyke." She looks deeply reluctant to say the last, but — "That's where I'd look. Not that I know so very well at all, but just… given his obsessions, it seems likely." She places a hand over his heart. "Let me come with you? Or, if not, let me ride out elsewhere. If he means to go to the Iron Isles, I could head him off at port, easily."

"Just to the Mire," Jarod says. "If I can't find him there, then he's truly flown to try and get a piece of his own life, and perhaps that's not so bad a thing. Rowenna…I'm going with Caytiv Hill. He's Jaremy's squire, and Lady Anais' sister and has some right to bring him home. If he's in a place where he can be brought. I need you…I need to serve Ser Gedeon, as you are. And I would ask you, though I am not your knight anymore and can hold you to no promises…I would ask you not to tell Gedeon and Lord Ser Anton about this right off. Talk to Jace about it. He'll handle how this…how it gets around. He might be cross at me for telling you but…" He shrugs. "Couldn't very well not. I'll be back within a week. Two at the outside. I find him, I find him. I don't, I don't, and it means he's not risking stupidity in Stonebridge or the Mire, which is just fine in its own way."

"No, of course," she says, lowering her eyes, looking embarrassed. "I mean, figured you'd be taking your squire, but it only makes sense you take care of Cayt, too, considering. And.. well, everything you said." Rowan shakes her head. "I didn't mean it should be just you and I — I… I wish I could help. That's all." She nods. "I… won't offer them anything, Jarod, but if they ask me directly… I can only tell them I'd prefer not to answer. And if I'm commanded…" She lifts her gaze to his, pained. "I can't lie to them, Jarod. I gave my word. I'm so sorry."

"Perhaps I shouldn't have told you." Jarod sighs. "At least talk with Jace on it first. Promise me you'll do that much. He'll need a friend, anyhow. It'll be…strange for him now. Jaremy gone. Nobody quite wanting to say he's the heir this soon, though there's no getting around that he is, to my mind."

"I'm sorry," she says again, sounding it in spades. She looks down at her fingers, tracing his sternum through his tunic. "I know it's a deeply inconvenient time for me to stop lying, but… I have to firm up my honor, some time. Picking and choosing when to tell the truth, swearing fealty to one lord but keeping another in my heart… doesn't seem much like honor, to me." She nods, however, her assent to what she can do. "I won't be rushing off to tell them anything. Like I said, I see no reason to mention it unless they start asking me direct and pointed questions. And I'll talk to Jack first thing tomorrow."

"All right," Jarod says simply. He doesn't sound particularly pleased with that explanation, or look too pleased with himself at the moment, though there's not much he can do to argue with it. "Fair enough. Do as your conscience compels you to do. That will still fuck you up sometimes, but it can't really be called wrong." He looks down at her hands, placing his larger ones over hers. "You got anywhere you terribly do want to rush off to, tonight?"

"Is there a better way?" Rowan asks, in all earnestness. "I may not be your squire any longer, but I can think of no one who's conduct and principles I would rather have instruct me, when it comes to being a knight. I would sincerely like to do better than just… 'not wrong'." For the latter part… she simply shakes her head.

"It's all I try and do, Rowenna. Follow my conscience, that is. And be true to my family. I'm…just not wrong, a lot of the time." Jarod shrugs. "We just…you don't serve the Terricks anymore. I forget that sometimes. Means things've got to be a little different with some matters, I guess."

"No. I don't serve the Terricks, anymore," she agrees, softly and with regret. "But… soon, I hope, I will again. Or, at least, serving Oldstones will be the same thing."

"Uh. We'll see how stuff works out," Jarod says, non-committal on each and every part of that. But he kisses her again. "Not to worry about now." And again. "Will stay here with me tonight?"

Each kiss is returned, sweet and slow. The fingertips of one hand trace his jaw; the other slides up beneath his tunic, beginning a thorough and covetous inventory of muscle and sinew. "Yes," she whispers, more than willing to set aside the potential merger of their houses for… far less contentious things. "Yes."

"All right then…" Jarod murmurs, repositioning her hands only long enough to dispose of his tunic. Having her in his own bed seems to be a novelty for him. He's going to enjoy it while it lasts.

"You do look tired…" Rowan murmurs, toeing off her boots as her hands return to his chest, shoulders, back… and finally sink into his hair. She nibbles the edge of his ear, breath warm on his skin. "Maybe I should let you sleep?" This asked while her leg draws up against his side, hooking over his hip.

"I feel just fine now," Jarod mutters, voice a little muted. His mouth is sort've occupied with her neck. He likes necks. "We can sleep later. Or when we're dead. Let's have some fun." He has no intention of sleeping for a few hour yet. Though he'll probably be down like a stone until sunrise after they're done.