|Summary:||Leoline and Josse encounter one another on the outskirts of Terrick's Roost. It turns out even Septons need a confessor now and again.|
|Related Logs:||Of Soup and Strangers|
|Outskirts of Terrick's Roost|
|The worn down and ramshackled edges of town that nobody especially likes to visit unless they have to.|
|23 September 288|
Late afternoon in the Roost. While the sun still warms these hours with a vengeance, the colder mornings and nights give steadily stronger hints as to the colder weather approaching. While not quite the outskirts of the Roost, this area is a ways from the wealthier pockets closer to Four Eagles. Dingy residences are packed together on uneven, dirty streets that are strewn in pockets with refuse and standing water. Peddlers pull carts of wares and uncovered street food along the chipped cobblestones and dirt. Children in tattered clothing run barefoot, stealing when they can and begging when not, darting in and out of narrow alleys. The noise is incessant, the shrieks of animals mixing with shoutings from windows and on the streets — making a constant din that's almost as cloying as the smell of sweat and dirty skin.
By one of the crumbling wells Josse is sitting on a large block of broken stone, a bucket of water beside. A child of about seven years old is standing beside him, her face streaked with soot except where tracks have been washed clean by tears. The septon has just finished tying a binding cloth around the little girl's arm, droplets of blood drying on her elbow.
Perhaps this is more the sort of town that a wandering brother is familiar with. Certainly, the man in simple brown robes and a walking stick seems at ease as he moves through the mucky streets, stopping to speak for a moment to one of the vendors peddling some sort of savory stuffed roll. The vendor listens and smiles and offers a roll which Leoline accepts in exchange for a small statue of an olyphant. This gets studied a moment by the vendor before it's pocketed and the wandering septon steps away. He pauses, brows lifting a little to spot another of the faithful occupied with a little girl, and it's in that direction he heads next. "Any way I can help?" he asks once he arrives.
The little girl looks up at Leoline with wary brown eyes, lashes beaded with moisture. The man in brown's face is only interesting until she spots the food, her attention promptly locking there. The distraction gives Josse the second to finish his tying and he looks up, his fingers brushing the girl's dirty blond hair off her equally dirty forehead. "Oh, she's alright. Though if you really wanted to help pick up this mess I couldn't say I'd mind." The 'mess' isn't much, just the water bucket, his heavy satchel, and some bits of bloody cloth — which of course he'll wash and reuse.
"Mmm," Leoline murmurs, studying the mess as he takes a bite of his roll and chews. "Keeping the water?" The pastry is torn in half carefully, the part without the bite offered to the child.
The girl seems to cringe from Leoline for a second, then quickly snatches the half roll out of his hand and darts off without a word, leaving Josse sitting there with his hands still hovering in the air. "Hm." His palms drop to his knees and he pushes on them to stand up, grabbing the satchel strap on the way. "Aye, it's fresh. If you would."
The cloth gets tucked into the brown robes ready pockets and the remains of the roll gets grasped between Leoline's teeth so one hand can take the bucket and the other can keep hold of the walking stick. He nods to Josse to lead on, now everything's collected.
Josse grabs up the cloth scraps, jamming them into his belt. Hauling up the satchel onto his shoulder, he makes a vague motion deeper into the claustrophobic street. "Started your tour with our most scenic spots, have you?"
Leoline's reply, with half a roll in his mouth, is a faint smile and a sort of "mmph" noise. His brows lift, expression turning questioning as he nods towards Josse.
Josse only looks over a second or two after that noise Leoline made, catching the look. Both his brows go up in turn, as he steps over a bit of broken cobblestone. "What?"
The begging brother rolls his eyes and nods towards Josse again before glancing around the area they're walking through.
Josse keeps looking at Leoline, expectantly. He glances around at the the surrounding filth and then back, looking faintly amused. "Did I blink and miss your vow of silence?"
There is a long suffering sigh as Leoline stops, setting down the bucket so he can remove the roll from his mouth, though he does take a moment to chew and swallow another bite. "I was only trying to ask what brought you out to the edges of your territory, today."
Josse stops as well, sliding his thumb under the part of the strap that crosses his chest. "You saw it, really." He glances back towards the well they'd left. "It's a walk to the sept from here and some people can't get that far just for care. Or they don't feel they should." His blue eyes look back at Leoline and he shrugs one shoulder. "So when I can I come to them."
"And today was one of those days that you could, lucky for that little girl," Leoline muses before popping the last bite of roll into his mouth and reaching down for a little bit of water to rinse his fingers clean. "Skin of water might be better than a bucket, next time." He hefts said bucket up before he starts walking again.
"It'd be gone in an hour. This at least lasts a few." Josse smiles slightly, glancing down so he can navigate around a strong-smelling puddle as they start off again. "Have you ever been in this area before?"
"More or less. If not this one then all the other ones that look like it," Leoline says. "Not every septon finds time to come so far out from their sept. I help fill in the gaps."
"Do they all look alike." Josse turns his eyes forward again as a large cart goes bay with its peddler pushing the heavy thing from the back. "I don't know. I have more trouble telling apart one noble castle corridor from another than I do these streets."
"In the ways that matter, they do," Leoline answers, nudging a little stone out of the way with his boot. "Every town has edges, and every edge is similar to this. At least, that's what I have seen in my travels. But then, I don't spend time in noble castle corridors."
"Well. Those in them don't spend much time out of them, so I suppose in the larger sense it's an even trade." Josse says. "One hand knows not what the other even looks like, yet so intertwined nonetheless." He turns down a smaller street, catching Leoline's sleeve to be sure he doesn't keep going straight. "I hope they've been treating you well out here."
"Oh, I know my way around these sort of streets," the begging brother says with a faint smile, turning to follow after Josse. "They do treat me well, in general, and on the occasions that they don't, I manage well enough."
"I'm sure you do." Josse sounds mildly amused at that. They don't get far down the little street before he stops in front of a splintered door — the front bears a messy seven-pointed star in white paint. "I actually might be able to use your help here soon if the timing is right," he says as he gently bumps the door with his shoulder to creak it open. Up above on a second floor, a baby is screaming with that irritable sound that likely means hunger.
Inside the one-room ground floor is nothing but two stools and a spread of blankets on the ground, along with another large bag and a few metal tools that look as though they've been set out to dry. Another bedroll is in the back, rolled up and pushed into a corner.
Leoline glances at the star before stepping inside, tilting his head a little at the sound of a wailing infant. "What is this place, exactly?" he asks, pitching his voice loud enough to make it over the din.
"Where I stay," Josse answers, quite simply. "It's no use coming and going in one day. I'd spend half the time walking and none working. So I simply stay the night when I can. People of these streets know they're welcome here." He pulls the heavy bag off his shoulder, thudding it down by the wall with the rest.
"And your guest?" Leoline asks, glancing up towards the baby, brows twitched upwards. "He's the welcoming committee?" The water is set down near the bag and the walking cane leaned up against the wall.
"There's a family upstairs," Josse explains blithely. "Or at least a mother. The male presence tends to be plural and one at a time. I'm starting to think the child minds me more than I mind him."
"Ahhh," Leoline murmurs, glancing up at the roof, such as it is. "Well, it's dry, at any rate." He plops down on one of the stools. "The people know to find you here, if they need you?"
"Aye." Josse settles down on the open pile of dirty blankets, pulling the bloody cloths off his belt and dumping them on the floor. "There are some I call on at home. And as I walk I try to let others know. It's been slow getting word about but it's only been a few months, so."
"Bring food next time," Leoline suggests. "Word will spread much faster."
"You see?" Josse replies with a faint smile, waving a hand in the direction of the other. "I really can use your help."
"I know a little bit about healing people, I can man your little room when I'm here," Leoline offers, leaning forward so his elbows can rest on his knees. "Twice the days these people can seek help, and you'd only have to be here for half of them."
"Well. That's not really what I meant. I mean— " Josse stops himself, holding up a hand to punctuate it. "I wouldn't turn that away, believe me. But…" He sounds hesitant, as though suddenly unsure of whether to really say anything. "…there's something else."
"Oh?" Leoline asks. He nods slowly, blue eyes studying Josse with open curiosity. "What else?"
Josse scratches his eyebrow with his ring finger. "Well." That word seems to head so many things he's about to say, in the same way that many people take a pausing breath before starting. "As I said, I see some people at home and it's not because they can be cured but because they can't." His own eyes watch his knee as he talks, until now when he looks up. "The night I met you, you were speaking to the Stranger. Was it prayer as we are all taught to do or was it…that you really hear Him?"
"I'm his," Leoline says simply, with a small shrug for the fact. "I don't know if I really hear him, but sometimes it feels like I do. You want somebody who knows death to visit the ones you can't cure."
"I want someone there that can speak to them the way He would have them spoken to. Them and the people that will go on living around them." Josse replies. "I do what I can, but they deserve better. The Stranger deserves better."
"No you don't," Leoline replies, huffing a soft laugh, "he's not friendly or comforting. He's not the Father or the Mother. He's the dark places and the things we whisper when we think nobody can hear. He hears. He remembers. You want to give them solace. Hope. I can do that, but I can do that because I serve him and I'm very good at lying. Not because the Stranger would wish to hold their hands."
"That's not what I said," Josse notes, tilting. "I said the way He would have them spoken to. If you're going to play-act for comfort then nevermind, because I can do that myself. But as I said, the Stranger deserves better."
"Hmph," Leoline chuckles softly, studying Josse again. "Well. This should be interesting, then."
"It'll be as it should be," Josse replies, simply. "We aren't made of glass out here, Leoline. You of anyone should know that." He gathers the bloody cloths, scooting over towards the water bucket. "And if you patronized me at the moment of my own death I'd be inclined to knife you and take you along."
"I'll be sure to keep that in mind, should I ever find you dying, septon," Leoline replies, still grinning a little. "Shall we go, then, or are you expecting patients?"
"We'll go in the morning." Josse picks apart the sticky cloths and dunks a handful in the water. "I've already been around today and people get testy when the clergy show up twice." He smirks, wringing one long strip out. "You're welcome to stay if you want, it smelled a little like rain coming."
"Perhaps that's the real secret as to why we wander. Much harder to wear out your welcome when you make a broad circuit," Leoline muses, tapping his finger lightly agains his bottom lip. "I was going to be on my way towards Stonebridge, but I suppose the walk can wait one more day."
Josse chuckles under his breath. "Don't let me keep you. People will still be dying if and when you come back around. Your job security with me is high." A bit dark, that, but he seems to find the hair of humor in it.
He laughs again. "It did smell like rain, and I'm hopeful this room doesn't leak too very much. I'll stay. We'll see your friends in the morning, then I'll be on my way, after."
Josse gives the ceiling a doubtful look, then tosses the wet bandage strips up on the windowsill. "I'm hopeful as well but if not, I suppose I could use a bath." There's exactly one window, and the shutters might not survive a large storm. "And I apologize if I prove to be terrible company." He smiles, wryly. "I don't often have…normal conversations with people."
Leoline nearly giggles before he presses a hand to his mouth to stop it. "Is this normal?" he asks around his fingers. "I couldn't have said."
Josse laughs as well, a noise that fizzles away a little tension before he realizes it. "I don't know," he says, sounding rather helpless. "I'm barely sure anymore what people say when they're not talking about what they've done wrong."
Leoline glances around the room and sighs softly. "There should be alcohol," he suggests. "I think usually talking companionably involves alcohol. Seems to lubricate the vocal cords most successfully."
"Well." There's that intro again, and Josse clears his throat. Though it sounds more relieved than hesitant. "I did bring some. I don't like to have it in the open as I'm sure it'd walk off quicker than coin around here, but…" He stands up, crossing the bare two steps to the back of the room and fishing around in the spare bedroll.
"Ooh, very well done," Leoline approves, his hands rubbing briskly together in his anticipation of inebriation. "Even your kitchen wine would do."
"Even my kitchen wine." Josse sniffs sharply, pulling up his wineskin from its hiding spot. "This wine is aged, you know. And by that I mean it sat with the cork out overnight." He uncaps the skin as he meanders closer to Leoline's claimed seat, offering the honor of first drink to the guest.
"How discerning. It might be too fine for me." Which in no way stops Leoline from accepting the skin. He sniffs at the neck, nodding somberly. "Mmm, yes. A very fine week." With a smirk, he lifts it to his lips and has a swallow before offering the skin back to Josse. "So, tell me. How did you find yourself at the Roost?"
Josse leans a shoulder against the wall, not quite ready to stress his knees sitting on the floor again. "I was born here," he answers simply. "Nothing terribly interesting about it, unfortunately." He takes a good drink from the skin and passes it back like a good host. "You?"
"Born near the Neck," Leoline answers, accepting the skin. "Begging Brother brought me to a Sept when I needed to be brought. I guess the favor stuck." He takes a generous swallow before offering it back.
"Really." Josse reaches out for the skin, and it rather than Leoline keeps his eye contact while he talks. "How long have you been serving them?"
"You mean at all or as a septon?" Leoline asks, hopping off the stool so he can drop down onto the grubby blankets and stretch his legs.
"However you'd like to take the question," Josse replies with a magnanimous wave of his hand and a slight smile. And the pause after gives him time to take a drink.
"Oh, get fucked, I'm not confessing. I thought we were having a conversation," Leoline points out. "Try again."
"You see?" Josse grimaces, colorfully. "My best suggestion would be that I would just hush up until I was drunk, but given that it might take awhile…" He sighs loudly, glancing at the ceiling. "Hm. At all. How long in total?" The skin's offered back.
"There, that's better. And when it doubt, just be selfish." he holds a hand out, fingers wiggling in silent request for the wine. "Since I was eight, so twelve years, now. You?"
Josse has the damn skin held out. He settles with a soft thud onto the stool so the skin's within easier passing distance. "Eleven…sort of. I'd say nine years. But not to actual service until five years ago."
There, much less reaching required. Leoline snatches the skin up, pausing to take another gulp. "We nearly match, then," he muses. "Just a year apart, really."
"I shall bet we didn't match beyond that. I was an awful ward in those days." Josse smirks slightly, reaching for the skin. "You on the other hand, I don't know. You seem you could have been a child with some sense."
"I was… observant," Leoline allows. "I liked to watch people. Sometimes, I performed experiments. To see what they'd do. And what do you mean, awful? What sort of terrible mayhem did you devise?" The skin is offered back as Josse reaches.
"Mayhem? Not really. Just…too curious." The words have a certain tone like he's repeating something said rather than devising it himself. Josse takes a drink from the skin, leaning forward to rest his arms on his knees. "What do you mean, experiments?"
"Too curious," Leoline repeats, his tone a little flat. "No such thing. I, well, you know…" he shrugs. "I'd drop things, to watch what the response was. Or make things, strange little things and offer them as gifts. Or say I didn't feel well… just little things."
"To see what they'd do," Josse repeats Leoline's earlier words. The edge of the wineskin is still against his mouth and his teeth click against the hard rim at the top. "I understand, in a way," he offers vaguely. Another small sip of wine and he offers it back. "What sort of things would they do?"
"Depends on who it was. The kitchen girls would cluck and mutter and complain about carelessness and shoo me out when I dropped something. One of the septons had this look, like 'poor boy, no wonder,' and another one would have me say prayers in front of the Smith." Leoline considers before he shrugs again. "Gifts, pretty much everyone tried to be nice about it, even if they were ugly little things. Though the closer they were to my age, the more likely they were to just be blunt and throw them out."
"Mm." Josse takes that in, tapping the wineskin against the side of his leg. And then his offering to this serious turn in the conversation: "I fell through the roof of a brothel once."
Leoline blinks slowly. "You found yourself by way of a brothel, and you considered the most interesting aspect of it to be the roof?"
"Well it certainly became the most interesting aspect, once it had hit my face," Josse replies, quite pragmatically. Since Leo's not taking the wine away he helps himself to another swallow. "Priorities do change."
"There's more to that story than 'I found myself on the roof of a whorehouse'," Leoline points out, leaning forward to make a grab at the wineskin. "Let's have the whole adventure, then."
Josse laughs a little, pulling the liquor back out of Leo's reach. "I was invited there," he begins, with an almost teasing grin. "And being twelve my ability to distinguish between 'good idea' and 'bad idea' was still somewhat rough."
"Inviiiiited there," Leoline muses, leaning a little more forward, fingers twitching in silent request. "Up. Onto the roof. Of a brothel. By whom?"
"By a whore," Josse snorts, as if that should have been obvious. He sniffs, bracing his elbow on his knee and settling the rim of the wineskin near his mouth again. "Her name was Catrina and she had black hair. About seventeen, I'd suppose. She was a very tall girl, I remember that."
"So, then, you got invited up on the roof and the antics up there caused the pair of you to fall through it?" Leoline asks, his hand dropping as he gives up on the wine for the moment. "And what happened when you landed?"
"Antics," Josse repeats, with a soft chuckle a moment after. "Do you want the interesting version or the truth?"
"Both," Leoline admits, "but the truth, if I really have to choose."
Josse smiles slightly. "What I wanted from her was to let me draw her. Which I had done a few times but never…you understand." He smirks. "There was a flat part of the roof and it was her idea to go up there. Neither of us had money for any other safer place, and me being twelve the high roof of anything was worth the thrill anyway, so. There weren't any 'antics'. I mean…" He opens his mouth to say something but then whatever it is decides not to come out. "Well, anyway. When we were trying to get down she lost her footing on a ledge and while trying to grab her arm I did too — and I somehow managed to go through the roof of part of a kitchen where nobody was at that time of night. I suppose someone must have heard but I got out in a wild hurry."
"The Seven were surely with you," Leoline opines somberly, though there does seem to be something like amusement glinting in those blue eyes. "You weren't even curious, though? I mean, once she had been unclothed, you only wanted to draw her, still. Not… touch or, well, anything else? Twelve isn't so young, in some ways."
"No…" Agreement with the opinion on that perilous age. Josse keeps Leo's eyes a few seconds, as if momentarily distracted by the color, and then looks away. "I did touch her, after she asked me to. The exact same way you are, actually: 'aren't you curious?'. That's what she said." A vague smile touches his lips. "I just…well. It was a long time ago. Anyway, that's the roof story." He holds up the skin, dangling it in offering again.
Leoline leans forward to snatch at the wine before the skin gets tugged away. "It's a good story. I liked it." He considers a moment, perhaps selecting one he might offer up in kind. "I suppose my first such encounter was a year after. I was thirteen. Not a brothel, though, just a closet in the Sept's corridor. My invitations were less interesting, I suppose."
"First?" Josse smirks, scratching his eyebrow with his ring finger. "Sometimes I wish it had been." He relinquinshes the skin this time without a fight, draping both elbows on his knees. "The sept's closet, was it."
"Mmm," Leoline agrees, taking a swallow of wine and then, perhaps simply for spite, hanging onto the skin. "Small and dark and smelled of wet mops," he sighs. "Still… it was a fine and private place. Well, then, if the girl of the roof was not your first, who?"
Josse shakes his head firmly. "I've told you one sordid story and you haven't even begun to match my breath. You'll have to do better than that." He holds out his hand for the skin, moving his fingers as if to coax the object to come back to him.
Leoline lifts the skin slowly, raising it to his own lips for another swallow. "Maybe I'm shy," he chides, "there's not much to tell, really. I was thirteen and it was my first time. Thing was over nearly before it began. Still, left me fonder of closets and my lover was a good sport. So my techniques improved with time."
Josse avoids Leoline's eyes through most of that, in productive way like focusing on the dirty hem of his robe as he picks mud off it. At the end he does chuckle faintly. "I should hope she got to reap the benefit of all that practice again herself, at some point."
"Suppose that's so, more or less. There weren't all that many who caught my fancy. So." Leoline holds up the skin, swaying it from side to side in lazy invitation. "Your first?"
"It's not important." Josse talks distractedly as he watches the wineskin, lofting one of his thin brows. "This however…" His hand shoots out, making a grab for the target.
Leoline lifts his hand to pull the wine away from Josse's grip. "Wasn't offering," he murmurs. "I was trading."
"No, you traded a story for a story," Josse replies in a prim sort of tone. "This is dirty." His other hand pushes on the edge of the stool, leaning it towards Leoline on precarious two legs as he reaches again. "Come on, then!"
"I serve the stranger, what did you expect?" Leoline teases, leaning a little further back to try and keep the wineskin out of reach. "Come on, tell me. Your first time. If it's good, I'll give you the skin and a story, besides."
Josse's mouth and nose scrunch up, a loud sniff preceding his last grab for the skin. The stool doesn't quite topple, but whatever sense of equilibrium hasn't been slightly dulled by the strong alcohol drops him neatly onto his knee. "Hmpf. You give me the skin and half the story and I'll decide if it's worth paying for the rest."
"Pffft," scoffs Leoline, "what kind of deal is that? I come out the loser, that's hardly worth a barter. You start your story, and I'll let you know what it's worth."
Josse laughs under his breath, though the sound isn't quite as comfortable as it was before. "I don't want to tell it right now," he says, after a moment or two. Even with the lightness of his tone there's something about it that's not just teasing. "So I'll forfeit the two and take one. Your choice."
Leoline considers a moment before he nods. "All right, then pick a story you do want to tell, and tell that one, instead."
Josse's clear blue eyes make an expressive roll towards the ceiling, a crescent of teeth showing. "What am I doing this for, again?"
"Wine," Leoline says, "and a story in kind, and as practice. How long since you've been on this end of the question and answer game?"
"A septon has no confessor but God," Josse answers in that 'quoting' sort of tone, spreading his hands gracefully. But there is wine at stake here, which now that he's dumped himself on the floor is tantalizingly close. "Fine. Tell me what your story is about and I will try to match its theme." Maybe.
Leoline simply snickers for the quote, taking another swallow of wine as he considers. "I could tell you how I came to be at the sept, that one's worth quite a lot. Or I could tell you of an adventure on the road. Why I carry my walking stick. You can pick, if yours is interesting enough."
"I doubt anything I could say on any of those would be 'interesting'." Josse flicks a piece of errant dirt off his knee, not that it does anything to make him cleaner. Outside it's begun raining, a rumble of thunder just barely coming in ahead of the first sounds of rain patter on the splintering shutter. "I didn't so much come to this sept as I got caught stealing from the elder Brother, who then spent a good two and some years trying to turn a street rat into something presentable enough to bring indoors." He extends a hand for the skin now, raising an eyebrow.
Leoline nods a little for that 'confession', finally setting the wineskin in Josse's waiting hand. "My family died. It was the only thing the Begging Brother could think to do with me."
Josse doesn't smile at the parallels on the surface. He takes the wineskin and clears his throat, lifting it up. "How did they die?" And now he drinks from it.
The wandering septon arches a brow upwards. "Why were you stealing from the elder Brother?" he counters, rather than offering a proper answer.
"I asked you first," Josse replies and, to make the point clear, indulges in a nice good drink just after.
"And I offered my story with as much detail as you put into yours," Leoline answers. "You want to know more, you have to offer more."
"I don't, really." Josse lifts up the wineskin, smiling as he jostles it. "I ended up with the good part of the deal."
"If you say so," Leoline allows, stretched before settling on his back, hands behind his head, to listen to the pattern of the rain. "Enjoy it, then."
Josse does exactly that, for quite a long time without another word spoken. The safety of that silence is so secure one might even think he'd simply fallen asleep against the wall, if not for the very soft but steady sounds of him screwing and unscrewing the wineskin's cap with one hand.
It seems silence is something Leoline is comfortable with. He lets his eyes close, the warmth of he room and the sound of rain beating against the roof lulling him to drowsiness.
The pattering of the rain is steady and grows gradually heavier, the sill under the edge of the shutter getting damp as water soaks it. Josse's still completely silent for what could be the better part of half an hour, his eyes only moving once — glancing up at the ceiling at one point as though something above them had made a distinct noise, even though nothing did. Finally, after who knows really how long, his soft-spoken voice comes out of nowhere. "She died."
Slowly, Leoline's eyes blink open as the stretch of pattering quiet is broken by that pair of words. He arches his back in a small stretch of his own. "The girl on the roof?"
"Aye. Broke her neck, I guess. I saw her next to me, her eyes. The way her head had turned." It's not self-pity in Josse's tone, but rather the uneven cadence of words that haven't been rehearsed. "And I left her there." He clears his throat softly and sits up, looking over at the other bedroll rather than Leoline as he reaches for the small oil lamp shoved in the corner.
"She was dead," Leoline points out softly. "She didn't mind being left."
"Mm." The little noise gives no indication of anything besides the fact that Josse heard the other's words. He picks his flint out from the small pile and opens the little glass door of the lamp.
Leoline scratches idly at his stomach. "When I killed people, it wasn't by accident," he offers in turn.
There's a few beats of silence, tapped out by flint strikes. It takes Josse a few tries to get s spark to catch on the wick, a gentle glow suddenly spreading through the thunderstorm-dimmed room. "What happened?"
"Trident happened, I suppose," Leoline muses with a small shrug. "There are those that can be healed and those you can bury and then there are the ones caught in between. I helped them go."
"It was likely a mercy on those fields," Josse says. The lamp door creaks quietly as he shuts up, and he stretches up to set it on the abandoned stool. "So it goes."
"Always and always it goes," Leoline agrees with a faint smile. "Any other dark secrets you feel inclined to share?"
"That wasn't nearly enough wine to get into too many more," Josse replies wryly, stretching his legs back out and settling back against the wall. "And unfortunately I've killed the rest, so…back to figuring out what a normal conversation is."
"Likely not this," Leoline agrees with a small smirk, "But somehow, it suits."
"Aye," Josse says, drawing out the sound a little bit. "I take it from listening to people that over by Four Eagles they seem to enjoy, say, talking about fashion." One of his dark brows makes a dry arch as he glances at his dark gray hem and then Leoline's brown one. "…I don't think it'd be terribly fruitful."
"Not when one wears a uniform," Leoline agrees, smirking faintly as his tugs lightly on the brown cloth of his robes. "What else do normal people do?"
Josse scratches a hand through his dark hair. "They talk about everything but what they really want to say, they drink, they meddle in others' problems to avoid their own…" He smirks, smoothing out the bedroll behind him and leaning back, folding his hands under his head. "I find those three apply no matter how many riches one has."
"Huh," Leoline muses. "Doesn't really sounds like something to aspire to then, does it. Never mind normal. Let's be something else, instead."
Josse chuckles, his chest moving with the breath. "Perhaps that's why we ended up what we are. But you seem to be in an imaginative mood, so what do you suggest?"
"I'm not sure I'd say this mood is much different from my usual one," Leoline replies with a lazy smirk. "I don't. Suggest anything. Put a name and a shape to something, and that's when it stagnates. Let's just… be."
That quiets Josse for a few seconds, the rain outside drowning out his quiet breathing. The silence isn't the awkward one of words waiting to twist themselves out; it just hangs there like a thin wisp of smoke. "Tell me about your walking stick?"
Leoline chuckles softly, the sound bouncing against the pattern of rain. "I whack people with it," he says, "when they try to whack me. I'm pretty good at it, actually, all things considered."
Josse smirks at the ceiling, his outstretched legs crossing at the ankles. "Do they do that often, then."
"Often enough," Leoline says, "it seemed work my while to learn how to defend myself. I walk, on my own, from town to town. I'm not a large man or a looming one, and sometimes I carry a little food or a few coins. An easy target, and not so many are intimidated by a septon's robes out in the wilds."
"Of all things I might call you, an 'easy target' would not make the list," Josse smiles faintly. "But perhaps it's only the intuition of another septon."
"If only roadway thieves had your same intuition, I would be much less put upon," Leoline opines to the ceiling. "Still, I manage well enough and a little pain now and again suits me well enough."
"Perhaps I just have that intuition because I've been little better than that." Josse says with a wry smile. "There's always a fight you can't win. Best not to be the one that picks it."
"You were a highway man, brother Josse?" Leoline asks with another warm chuckle. "One who picked the elder Brother's pockets?"
"I was a thief," Josse admits. His elbow tips up towards the ceiling as his fingers scratch again through the top of his hair. "Everyone does what they have to to survive, I suppose. Nothing to be proud of, I assure you."
"Don't look at me for condemnation. I'm not that sort of septon." Though whatever sort of septon Leoline is, he doesn't offer to explain. "Anyhow, it's why you come here, isn't it? Because you remember who you were and what it was like, in this place."
"If you wish to believe me an altruist I won't stop you," Josse replies with a slight smile. "In a land of rumors it's best to encourage the good ones."
"No? It's not your tender heart that has you walking these streets?" Leoline asks, settling one arm behind his head. "Why, then?"
Josse turns his head just enough on his arm that he can see Leoline, answering question with a mild question: "What happened to your family?"
"Uh uh," Leoline chastises, lifting his free hand so he can waggle a finger towards Josse. "I told you about my walking stick. It's your turn, now."
"And you asked me of being a highwayman. I answered." Rather than annoyed Josse sounds a little amused, the corner of his mouth quirking. His hand slides out from behind his head, raising a finger right back. "Don't you shake that at me."
"What, or I'll lose it?" Leoline snickers, poking Josse's hand with his waggling finger. "I don't think you're the sort. My family died of a sickness. I didn't."
Josse's fingers snap closed around whatever awkward part of Leoline's hand he can get ahold of, his elbow lifting off the floor. "You might. I could always use an extra hand around the place."
The wandering septon groans, allowing his hand to be captured for the moment. "That was truly awful. Truly truly awful. I think you should be ashamed."
Josse's hand stays around Leoline's fingers for the second it takes for the words to connect. He lets go, abruptly withdrawing his hand back to its spot under his head as he clears his throat. "I can make you further regret staying here all night, just give me time. More wine would have helped, but I'll make do." His voice is still light.
"That so? Well, now it is my turn, so," Leoline shifts, pushing himself up on his elbows to peer over at Josse, "how do you plan to do that?"
Josse raises one eyebrow, folding his arms more sharply at the elbows. "Plan?" He smirks. "Planning is dull. I figured you to have the patience for spontaneity. If not puns."
"I'm not sure 'patience' and 'spontaneity' are meant to go together. One usually happens before the other," Leoline points out, settling onto his back again. "But I do appreciate the unexpected."
"They always go together," Josse opines mildly. "It's 'impatience' and 'plans' combined that cause problems." He doesn't move as Leoline moves away again, almost forcibly still. "Did you know your family well?" The question comes out of nowhere.
"Well as any child can, I suppose," Leoline replies after a moment to consider. "They were good people, at least so far as I could tell."
Josse shifts his feet, crossing right over left at the ankle. "How old were you?"
"Eight," Leoline replies. "That's two I'm behind, now. How old were you when you took to stealing?"
That question doesn't seem to bother Josse much. "Six," he answers, without hesitation.
"But you didn't join a sept until Eleven," Leoline murmurs, fingers of one hand drumming idly on his stomach. "That's not bad. I wouldn't think most would make it on their own so small."
"What can I say. Children are less prone to acknowledging defeat than adults," Josse tells the ceiling.
"Suppose so," Leoline agrees with a small nod. "Mmm, I like that. I'm going to use that, someday. Why were you on your own when you were six?"
"Because," Josse replies without looking over, "I didn't have anyone else."
"Yes," Leoline agrees calmly, "but why? Most six-year-olds do have somebody else."
"I…" Josse starts and then stops, clearing his throat. "Well most eight year olds have got somebody else too, haven't they? You can't think it so odd."
"I did have somebody else. Then they died, and I didn't. It's not odd, it's just… there's an explanation, when things don't go as expected. There's a way in which your path curved that is distinctly yours and no one else's," Leoline replies, turning his head so that he can watch Josse. "I want to know about it."
Josse glances up at the wall and the rattling shutters above him. He sits up slowly, his legs folded in under the heavy folds of his dark gray robe, and turns his head to look at Leoline past his shoulder. "Why?"
Following Josse's motions, Leoline sits up, drawing up his legs so that he can loose drape his arms around them. "I find you interesting."
Josse informs Leoline, not unkindly, "You have odd tastes."
"They're mine, none the less," Leoline answers, the corner of his mouth tripping upwards. "Ae you going to answer the question?"
Josse's eyes flicker between Leoline's — left, right, left again, then away. The opposite wall, then down at his left hand as it picks at his robe hem. "I was left," he says finally, stilted.
"Oh," Leoline murmurs, though if anything, his sounds further intrigued. "Now that is interesting. That is really quite interesting. Why?"
"Why do you leave things?" Josse's sarcasm is sudden and while not harsh it has a edge. "Because you don't want them. Are you happy now?"
Leoline drifts sideway to offer Josse's shoulder a bump. "Yes, thank you. That was very good."
The pulse in Josse's throat beats visibly for the few moments that he stays tense — tension that's snuffed out by the contact against his shoulder. He looks at the top of Leoline's cheek rather than his eyes. "I don't know if it's a good thing or bad one to be interesting to you." That's only half-serious.
"All depends on the context," Leoline answers. "Most everything does." He peers back at Josse, still smiling a little. "And everybody needs a conversation partner."
"Do they?" Josse now smiles, if faintly. He hasn't moved to sit back or shift away, part of his weight still braced forward on his arm. "Says the man who likes to wander alone."
"He would know," Leoline agrees, dipping his head into a lazy nod. "He's gone long enough without."
"Why you appreciate it, I don't doubt," Josse says. His head doesn't move but his eyes do, finally looking at the other pair of blue again. "And what other things do you appreciate so much?"
"Hmm. Dryness in the rain. A full belly, a safe place to sleep. And, always, always," Leoline leans a little closer to whisper this last, "a good secret."
Josse smiles a little. "Not doing too badly for yourself, then." Soft-spoken from the start, his voice is quieter with Leoeline quite this close to him, nothing louder than it has to be. He still smells like the red wine he was drinking not long ago. "Good thing nothing is perfect or we'd stop looking."
"It has been," Leoline replies, his own voice gone hushed, "a very fine few days. I shall have to visit Terrick's Roost again to see if it's repeatable."
"I think Terrick's Roost wouldn't mind that at all," Josse says. His attention drifts to the corner of Leoline's mouth and then back to his eyes. "I might not either, but I'll have to think about that." A slight smirk tweak the edge of his lips.
"Then I will be sure not to return too quickly," Leoline murmurs, his own smile growing, "to be sure you have the time you need to think."
Oh really. One of Josse's brow goes up slightly — you know, that look Leoline nicely caught onto the first evening in the sept. "Then I suppose you had better be sure to leave a lasting impression. It'd be a shame if I just happened to forget."
"Oh," Leoline cants his head a little to the side, gaze still settled squarely on Josse, "You won't forget me."
"Won't I." Josse's quiet voice keeps its slightly playful cadence. "How can you be quite so sure?"
"Well, because," Leoline replies, his voice very soft, "I think I may be the first person in a long while that you'd like to kiss, who would let you."
A feeling of cold sweeps down Josse's back and the smile suddenly fades away. "I'm sorry." He sits straighter as he talks, shifting his weight back. "I didn't mean to…"
"You should. You should mean to, I'd like that," Leoline answers. He holds steady as Josse retreats, neither moving after him or drawing away.
Josse's shoulders move with each shallow breath, and he quietly clears his throat. "Still, it wasn't the…" His lips thin and screw up at the corner. There's plenty of resistance left in his own body but perhaps it's the wine that overcomes it or — well, who knows. His elbow settles back on his leg and he bridges the small gap with his left hand, tracing the curve of Leoline's bottom lip with his finger. "…wasn't the intention."
"No?" Leoline asks, his lips holding as still as they can around that word to keep from chasing Josse's fingers away. "Pity."
"Maybe." Josse's avoidance of Leoline's eyes is less that — avoidance — as it is being more occupied with the path of his finger across a soft lip. It moves off and he leans forward to replace fingertip with his mouth, the heavy scent of wine the only real sign that this is probably not a completely sober endeavour.
Whatever Leoline's morals may be, it seems refusing the advances of a somewhat drunken septon is not among them. He huffs a small, triumphant laugh beore his eyes close and his lips part in anticipation of receiving that kiss and returning it.
For all the backpedaling and whatever else one might associate with someone much less practiced in deviant encounters, this is no innocent first kiss. Not in the least clumsy, Josse tests the softness of Leoline's mouth with his own before gently teasing the bottom lip with his teeth, stopping just short of grazing hard enough to hurt.
The begging brother groans softly, curling his hands around Josse's upper arms as his breath hitches as he returns that hunger with one that matches it. His tongue moves to become a more prominent part of the kiss.
Josse's breath is warm and feathery on Leo's cheek, exhaled in a long rush through his nose. His left hand leaves his knee and settles on the floor by Leoline's leg, the other boldly landing on the other's thigh just above the knee and digging fingertips into flesh through the fabric. His teeth play with the offered tongue and his lips put a measured but insistent pressure on Leoline's. Need without speaking, but it doesn't get very far — abruptly (no doubt that way on cruel purpose) he draws his head back. "Now," he says, breathing a little faster. "I think you ought to go to bed."
The other man blinks slowly, darkened eyes opening as that kiss comes to a sudden end. He licks his lips and draws in a slow breath. Glancing around the sparsely furnished room, it seems the only real place to sleep is right here, on these ragged blankets. And so, with a small smile, Leoline settles on his back.
That is indeed the only place for the guest to sleep; Josse's personal thin pile of blankets is about four feet away, which he rolls onto without another word. If he smiles or frowns or even sleeps at all all night is a fair mystery, as his face stays turned to the wall. The rain goes on and on, all night.
Blinking up at the ceiling, Leoline breathes out slowly. As the night wears on, its the sound of the rain that lulls his eyes shut and lets him sleep.