|Summary:||Josse and Rowan are out drinking; things get maudlin.|
|Related Logs:||Everything in the Jarod/Rose/Gedeon triangle|
|Riverrun's (Now Infamous) Seedy Tavern|
|If you had friends in low places, they'd be here.|
|13th Eleventhmonth, 288 AL|
It's been another busy day for those calling on Lord Paramount, and as much as Rowan has tried to occupy herself — with the studies Ser Gedeon assigned her, with the moderate exercise her healing body permits — there is far too much time to think. No longer a part of the Terrick contingent, not yet accepted by Oldstones, the girl squire is once again an outsider… something she hasn't felt in years. It's a bitter melancholy, one she's nursing over a bottle in the corner of Riverrun's more atmospheric (read: seedy) taverns. She sits slouched, one foot on the chair, watching the rowdy revelry with detached semi-attention, more awash in the blur of noise than present.
Few, if any, people in here look like they're even the slightest bit aware of what's going on in the Tully stronghold. Their world is here, loud and dim and alive with sweat and dirt. Just behind Rowan a group of men and one not-quite-modestly dressed female is dispersing, a round of dry, loud laughter punctuating the noise of chair legs scraping the floor. Hardly anything to pay mind to. As the surge of noise dies down a hand reaches past Rowan, grabbing a sort-of-dry rag off her table that some bar wench had left behind. "Pardon me," is a quick and blithe excuse to the slouching squire, tossed off casually as the hand snakes back past her arm and away again. Had the words been a little softer they wouldn't have been recognizable.
Rowan blinks a few times, replaying the blithe pardon before turning around, squinting as she looks for the voice's owner. "Josse? The fuck're you doing here?" Despite the words, the tone isn't at all one of unwelcome, and is accompanied by a bemused smile.
"What?" The sound of his name makes Josse look up from the spill he was mopping off the splintered table (not that the table is likely any worse for wear for more liquid on it). In the plainest of plain, dark street clothes, the tall septon hasn't got a hint of anything Seven anywhere on him. And apparently he's missed her presence this whole time as well, as the look she gets in return is the same sort of squint. "Rowan?" Indeed, that's Rowan. "Madness, I might ask you the same question."
Rowan sees his squint and raises him a sidelong look, eyeballing his outfit. "You look — like a normal person. Have you given up septoning — septonining — fuck it, the cloth? To wipe tables with that one?" She points at the cloth in his hand. "Nothing quite so mad about me being here. M'the squire of the upstart claimant, after all. Want a drink?" She waves the bottle in his general direction.
"Normal," Josse repeats the wod with no small amount of amusement. "Now you're just flattering me." He clears his throat, brushing the side of his fingers by his nose as he glances around the noisy tavern. "Actually what I'd like is some air, I must say. If you'd like to bring the bottle you can join me. If not then hold onto it and hold out hope I can find my way back — I can't guarantee."
"Hah. I know the way back from this place well enough, now," Rowan says wryly, pushing herself to her feet and swiping the bottle. She emits a yeasty belch oh cheap liquor fumes. "'Scuse me." Classy. "C'mon, then." She gives him a little shove ahead of her, shamelessly taking a gander at parts of the septon she'd previously never given much thought to. "Nice ass, there!" she chimes. As though congratulations were in order.
Josse's speech is unslurred, but he stands up with an ungainly lurch — the only indication that he might have spent a good part of this evening drinking already, himself. "Thank you. You might take a lesson or two." His head passes right through the cloud Rowan's breath leaves behind and he makes a loud show of coughing. "But dear God, just stay downwind."
"What, studying your ass is supposed to improve mine?" Rowan asks, giggling. "Alright, then. You stay up ahead and we'll solve both matters at once." She catches up in fairly short order, however, apparently not finding his ass SO interesting that she's willing to trail behind the whole way. Out in the dusty, shambling innyard, she bumps his shoulder with hers and offers over the bottle. The night is dark, but it's not so late that the revelers have spilled out into the streets. All is muted, the noises distant, the stars bright. "I'm glad you're here," she says, simply enough, warm and heartfelt.
Alcohol seems to make Josse more willing to have his personal space invaded. He grasps the neck of the bottle, his gait settled into a comfortable shuffle that has nowhere in particular to be. "And I you, despite my shock." He makes an amused noise in his throat, tilting the bottle up to take a quick swallow and emit a soft breath afterwards. "Which I suppose wasn't as great as yours. You'll forgive me, I hope."
"For… what?" Rowan asks, equally amused. "Skulking about in normal clothes? Taking a night off from being a septon? Holding out on me about your extraordinary table-busing skills?" She grins, rattling on, "Having a better ass than I do?" She shakes her head. "I absolve thee. I knew you'd come with the Terricks, by the by. But I did think you'd be far too busy to slip away."
"Where there are wills there are ways," Josse replies, holding the bottle back over to her as though it were a generous gift. "I wish it were so simple as a 'night off', but…" He makes another 'whatever' sort of motion. "People are creatures of strange habits and I am no exception. And anyway." He shakes the bottle at her, quite gently. "You are out terribly late and unaccompanied and I am both nosy and tipsy enough to stick my nose where it doesn't belong. So out with it."
"What do I look like to you? A girl?" scoffs the squire, taking the bottle back when it's offered. She smirks, rolling a shrug. "I do go out alone from time to — " She makes a mild face, sighs, and drinks. And drinks again. "Right. Jarod and me're quits. And honestly, when did you need to be drunk to be nosy?" She trips over the painful revelation with a smirk, rambling on, "Nosiness is one of your best qualities."
"A second ago it was my arse," Josse replies, very mildly. "I do wish you'd get it straight." The sound his heavy street boots make is so different from the usual soft scratch of sandals. His gait, his voice, his manner, but all wrapped up in a costume that, despite being so different, fits him awfully well. "Quits? Oh come now. Quits over what this time?"
"A lot of things," says Rowan, softly. She swallows, handing the bottle back over. "I think if I have any more of that, I might be sick. I — " she breathes deeply and shoves her hands in her pockets, hunching her shoulders. "Over — us. We don't work. We fight all the time — and it's the same fucking fight. He can't just — accept who I am. What I am. And it's not that I don't love him, I do — it's…" She grimaces. "It's not what it should be. It's a different kind of love. And it breaks my heart, I wish — have you ever just… adored someone so much, that things got… confused?"
"Darling, if you only knew." Josse takes the bottle back, tucking it under his arm. He stops walking for a second, turning around on his heel and looking around the dirty street they're traveling. And spotting something, an occurence in a rare blue moon happens — he reaches for her hand. "Come."
She's drunk enough to just go with it — no pauses, no startles, and no comments on this strange, hand-holdy person who's standing in for her high-strung septon friend. Rowan takes his hand and follows.
Maybe they'll both retell this a little differently in the morning. Josse leads her across the narrow street and between two buildings, the sounds of shouting laughter coming from one well-lit one. His head ducks under the window, a few loose stones squabbling on the road as he slows and inches the rest of the way through the alley. There's a little bit of space back there - not much, but it's got a sparse bit of grass and and overhang from another building that shrouds it further in calm darkness. "Here." His fingers let go of hers. "Sit with me."
Rowan sits, quiet and quelled and strangely obedient. If only she were always this little trouble. She glances around, eyes becoming accustomed to the deeper shadows of the alley, then returning to study the undercover holy man. "Did you think you were in love with him too, once?"
"Him, who? Jarod?" Josse settles onto the grass and puts the bottle nearby, a soft chuckle following. "No, I…no. I'm fairly certain I've disgusted him for years and something in my head's always known that." His hand makes a looping motion near the top of his dark hair. "But someone else, yes. I daresay I always will and it's rather a good thing I'll never see him again as I would just keep on and on making a fool of myself. Because that is insanity and love is well insane." The glib factor in all this is minimal at best; there's something painfully sincere in that jumble of words. "So now you feel confused."
"I don't think you disgust Jarod," Rowan rolls her eyes. "There's a middle ground there, you know. Just because he's not a bugger doesn't mean he's got to be disgusted by it. It's more like… some people don't like pickles." She pauses, squints, reviews that, and shrugs. Whatever. As for confusion, however… "No," she says softly, lowering her lashes for a moment. "No. I felt confused. Now… now I think I understand. At least — at least why it happened. I mean, fuck, how do you not love Jarod Rivers?" She shakes her head a little, unhappily. "But I just — I fucked it all up. I thought loving someone so handsome and funny and good was… the same thing. And it's not. It's not. And he hates me now and I don't blame him even a little."
Josse also kind of reviews her analogy as his left eye squints just so…and thankfully moves on with the rest of her outpouring. "Oh, Rowan." He doesn't have to shout to be heard here and his voice has dropped back to its usual, soft-spoken sort of way. "What do you think you did that could be so awful?"
She twitches a sad, wan smile. "I made him love me? And then I broke his heart. Does it need to be more awful?"
"No, but it could be more specific," is Josse's mild return. "You and he were having a perfectly good day, when…" His hand circles through the air. "Complete the story."
Rowan sighs. "When we had the same fight we have every time we're having a perfectly good day. He's all about accepting your lot in life, doesn't understand why I have to try to be something I'm not when we all know I'm doomed to fail. He wants me to stay in Terrick's Roost and be his lady, give up everything I've worked so hard for all these years to be… a scout or something. He hates that people call me Rose, he hates that I claim the name Rivers, he — " she swallows. "I'm so sick of hearing it all that — that if I didn't love him, sometimes I think I wouldn't like him very much. He just can't let anything go. He can't accept anything I am, or want to be." A deep breath. "So it all devolved into him saying he was sorry he didn't make me happy and I should fuck off and go be with someone who does." She scrubs her hands over her face, exhaling. "And… Seven help me, he's not wrong. Being his squire made me happy. Being his lady made me… not miserable, but… definitely not happy." She leans back on her hands. "There's no fire between Jarod and I, Josse. I want…" she shrugs. "I want my lover to be someone I feel in my blood and bones… and who doesn't hate the way I sodding breathe."
Josse hits the bottle one good as she starts, and a second time by the time she's finished. The bottle makes a soft crunching noise against a few pebbles as he sets it back down, draping his arms back over his legs. "From where he stands…no, he's not wrong. For him it would be difficult to be with a woman he couldn't be with. And that's not bad. We fall in love as much with an idea of a life with someone as we do with the person we're going to spend that life with." He talks gently but as always, his tone is far from condescending. "Tell me Rowan. How did Jarod figure into the life you wanted, in your head?"
"Hah," says Rowan, bitterly. "My head, Josse, is a silly place. A very stupid and frivolous place, wherein the only ideas that are conceived are ones that inevitably head to disaster." She reaches for the bottle again. Never mind what she said earlier. "I thought, if I were knighted, that I would serve his father or his brother and we'd just go on like we'd always done. But fucking." She smirks. "And if I didn't — if I failed… I'd find some other way to do what it is I'm good at. Be a man-at-arms, or train a militia like we had back in the Mire, or… or be a sodding scout, like Jarod was suggesting. But he doesn't see the difference between giving up to be that, versus settling for that if it's all that's left me." She squints a little, curious. "Do you?"
DUMP: Anais and Lucienne have tea with the database.
"I'm not sure I understand the question," Josse admits, spreading his hands and then folding them again. "But I do think I see the problem. That the place you occupy in his vision and the place he occupies in yours is completely different. In his world, you are the most important factor. In your world, he isn't."
Rowan winces a little at that assessment, taking a swig from the bottle. "That isn't fair, and it isn't true," she protests, her voice soft but firm. "There are things in Jarod's life that come before me — as there should be. His family, his duty, his knighthood. I have things in my own life I value as highly. I don't begrudge him the things that come first in his life — they're part of who he is. This… quest, this journey, is part of who I am."
"I didn't say it to be fair. Or to imply one is better than the other," Josse says. "But I know Jarod. And knowing Jarod and that he is made of mush —" This is said with a dry but endearing tone, " — he has likely spent a significant amount of time that he'll never admit to where he's had fantasies about how you fit into that life…that family, that duty, that knighthood. He's out of place, Rowan, and he dreams about normalcy he may never be able to have. Carrying his father's name, a spot in his true family, a wife, a life he should've had and pride he should've been entitled to." He clears his throat softly, glancing at the bottle and then back at her. "And he can't find a way to acknowledge you without giving up part of him…and I think it terrifies him. Does that make any sense?"
"It does," says Rowan, shaking her head sadly. "It does… but it doesn't change anything. It's done. Seven knows its done." She takes another drink. "I just pray to the Mother he finds some lovely, biddable thing that can give him the normal life he wants — one that thinks the sun rises and sets with him, as she should."
"I certainly hope she doesn't, as that isn't what he wants," Josse says, holding out his for the bottle once she's done with it. "And if you think that's his black to your white then no wonder it's gone sour. But enough about Jarod. What is it /you/ want?"
Rowan rolls her eyes. "I didn't mean some mindless ninny. Just… someone who appreciates him. He deserves that. At the very least." She rakes her fingers back through her hair, drawing up her knees to rest her elbows on. "Fire. I want fire, Josse. Whether I'm a knight of Oldstones or a mercenary across the narrow sea, I want to live my life passionately. I'll rest when I'm old and sleep when I'm dead."
Josse almost smirks when she backtracks, but kindly leaves it alone. "I, I, I, I." He makes the same sound over and over, ticking his hand back and forth before he tilts up the bottle for a drink. "Let's have a little more fun. Tell me about the person you'd want to be with, but the word 'I'…" He plunks the bottle down between them. "…is banned."
Rowan snorts and sticks her tongue out, rolling her eyes again before applying herself to the task. "He… will see me. My strengths and my flaws, and find beauty in both. He will love me for striving, for daring, for trying… even if — " she catches herself before saying the forbidden word. "Even if those endeavors fail. He will not seek to keep me from harm by haranguing me about how — how failure and doom are inevitable, but help prepare me for what is to come. And if failure and doom do come to pass, he will hold me and help me pick up the pieces. He will not want me to be anything other than — than what the Gods made me. He will be loyal and passionate… and maybe a little mad. A little madness is not a bad thing. And he will be… he will feel… like a part of me." She looks at Josse, eyebrows raised.
"I doubt you want me to attempt to analyze that at this hour," Josse says, making his restraint sound like a favor. "So I'll just say that even though nobody gets what they want in this world without compromise, it's as good a place as any to start. Can't have everyone being dull." He smiles, just a little.
"Heh," says Rowan softly, smiling just a little, herself. It flickers and dies a moment later, replaced by puppyish worry. "Josse… am I a bad person?"
"There are no bad people," Josse replies. The slightly dramatic lilt he gives the words is no doubt a product of alcohol, but his sincerity is unharmed. "There are people who sometimes do good things and people who sometimes do bad things. Some are a little more consistent either way." He sniffs. "If you're really asking me whether I still like you, then yes."
"Good," Rowan says in a small voice, but seems quite grateful for it. She sighs. "I want to be the kind of person who does more good things than bad. Sometimes… sometimes I feel like I just do stupid things, and I'm always shocked as hells how they turn out, either way."
"You do things with you in mind first," Josse says, plainly but not unkindly. "And others second. Which is the way most people are, whether they want to admit it or not. What brings us pain and joy is more acute and more addictive than what happens to someone else, most of the time."
"How can you love someone like that?" Rowan asks, looking baffled and pained. "How can you even like them?"
"Love," Josse replies, drily, "Is rare for a reason."
Rowan closes her eyes, swallowing hard. Tears spill over, but at least they're the silent kind. "So… is everyone who loves me… just wrong about me?"
Josse picks up the bottle but doesn't yet pull the cork back out. "Wrong about what, exactly?"
"I don't know," she whispers, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. "Who I am. I mean, if I'm… the kind of person who thinks about themselves first, and — and I asked how anybody can love someone like that, and you said that's why love is rare, which — doesn't that mean people don't? Love people like that?" She sighs and sniffles pathetically. "I'm confused."
"Love is rare," Josse says. "And thank goodness, because otherwise it'd be just one more thing people take for granted." Now he pops the cork. "But you can't do it such an injustice as saying 'people love or don't love someone like X'. Love is not a static thing, that's established between two people and doesn't change. And that's what happens to so many of us…we develop this flaring passion for some person when we only see a slice of them that seems to align with what we want. And as it goes on and we see more of them we get it that love isn't something that can be motionless…it has to bend and mold. For most people, fixed on their own ideals of perfect, it can't stand that pressure and breaks. It's rare not because people are good or bad or selfish or not but because it's hard." He taps the neck of the bottle with his fingernail. "More confused now?"
"Yes," Rowan admits readily, bobbing her head. She scrubs her sleeve over her face again and sighs. "I love you," she says, speaking of love. She shrugs. "You're always good to me. Better than I probably deserve."
"It becomes clearer the more times you fuck it up," Josse says. Even the vulgarity sounds tipsily prim. "I do stupid things. We all do. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise." The hand holding the bottle points a long finger at her to punctuate that. "You'll be a different person tomorrow…and different one the day after that. A good man will love you for all those days and not just today. If you can do the same for him."
"A good man does love me," Rowan affirms, smiling wryly. "And like I said… I love you, too." She reaches for his hand and kisses his knuckles, then staggers to her feet. "I think I need to drink a river basin and go to bed. Otherwise, my suffering will be legendary tomorrow."
"What doesn't kill us makes us nauseous," Josse says, drawing out the words theatrically. He gives her hand the barest squeeze and also stands up, though it takes him a little long-legged effort to find balance. "If you get desperate I have tea for such things. Now go on, my dear."
Rowan stretches, wincing a little, and executes a patented, Ser Jarod flourish-bow. "Good night, my Josse." And she ambles out the way they came, weaving a little and singing. "The boys of House Terrick are… something and something… what's a poor father to doooo?"