Page 173: Fallout
Summary: Jacsen confronts Anais about her forays to the wall.
Date: 6/1/2012
Related Logs: Invasion logs
Anais Jacsen 
Anais and Jacsen's Quarters - Four Eagles Tower
A tastefully decorated suite of rooms, lacking in dirty socks and dragon posters.
January 6, 289

It has been a very long day at the Roost for Anais. Seeing to the details of keeping everyone supplied, recovering from the sortie of the evening before. And then there was the most recent display from the walls, which was followed by a long session with the smallfolk sheltering in the Roost. Some had relatives among the slain. Some have other relatives still in the town. Comforting them, bringing them word, and trying to lend them strength seems to finally have taken its toll on the young woman. After a walk outside, she's retired to their private chambers, let her hair down, and hung her gown to air out, wearing only a simple linen shift. One of the servants has made sure she has a share of the stew being served in the hall, though the bowl sits in her lap as she toys with it, too tired or heartsick to eat.

Better to toy with the stew than to meet the gaze of her husband, though he admittedly has made it quite hard to do so since he stalked into their shared rooms, silent as the grave. With the exception, of course, of the consistent tapping of his cane. At least that has ceased, now, as he sits upon the edge of their bed, deliberate and quiet as he slowly works at the buttons of his jacket, the breastplate and sword already taken by a squire more or less on loan to the Young Lord of the Roost.

Anais takes a bite of the stew, more out of duty than hunger, apparently prefering the silence to starting what is inevitable. Her shoulders hunch ever so slightly, and if her ears could follow Jacsen's movement, there's no doubt they would be doing so. Even still, it's clear in the faint shifts in her posture that she's well aware of where he is and what he's doing.

The silence is broken, eventually, when her husband deigns to ask her, "Would you like to know what is the most damnably stupid part of it all, Anais?" Jacsen lets that hang in the air, though his voice seems to imply she will know it, whether she really wishes to or not.

Anais doesn't quite flinch when he speaks, forcing down another bite of the stew. Only after she's chewed and swallowed does she reply, voice soft. "What is the most stupid part of it?" Not that she's looking up. Nope. Stew is fascinating stuff.

"That if one of them were bold enough to take a shot, and they hurt you, or killed you? There would not be a damned thing in the whole of the world that I could do about it," Jacsen offers, sharing some of what gnaws at his insides. "I'd have to spend the rest of my days, be they short or long, knowing some raider had slain my wife and I was powerless to even avenge her." His hands fall away from the buttons he was undoing, resting on the bed to either side of him. "I try to understand you, Anais, I do. I know this must be so difficult, especially given what you experienced when you were young but… you need think of those besides yourself. You are responsible to more than your whim. We both are."

"I never went out until Kincaid confirmed they were out of bow range," Anais offers in her own defense, though she's more quiet than defiant. "I know better than that. And you're right, Jacsen. I am responsible to more than myself. I am responsible to every person inside these walls, and every person who's still living under their heels in the town." She does look up then, setting the bowl aside and twisting to face him. "They're going to yell at the walls either way, Jacsen. And we can't yet risk more sorties outside the wall. This is the only way to show the people inside the walls that we are fighting. It's the only way we /can/ fight. And right now, they need to see a reason for the deaths of their families, for losing everything they've ever owned or known."

There is a sharp expression she can likely not see on his face, just then. "It would be too much to expect for you to simply tell me I am right, I know," Jacsen says, his tone not yet yielding the edge to it. "And Seven defend me if I point out the simple truth that the damned raiders know how to run. Besides, there are bows that travel further than witty ripostes, Anais."

"There are," Anais agrees. "And at that distance, there is time to /dodge/ those arrows. An arrow shot for distance must be shot with a high arc, which is why they're much more useful for entire battles, when one is less interested in a single target than an entire enemy line, than for assass-" She stops herself short, closing her eyes and rubbing a hand to her brow. "I'm sorry, Jacsen. I don't want to argue with you. Especially not right now, not after-" Her hand moves to her mouth, pressing there in silence as the memory plays across her mind once more. "What would you say if I asked you to leave off your armor, to leave off walking among the men. To stay inside where you are safe?"

He reaches for his cane, fingers curling about the familiar handle. "I would say that your concern is kind, but I cannot, and I will not," Jacsen tells her, using the cane to help him leverage himself up to his feet. "And when you opened your mouth to protest, or to cleverly point out the contradiction, to call out my hypocrisy…" He draws a slow breath. "I would remind you, that I am your Lord Husband. You are not mine."

"No. That would be awkward." Perhaps the strain of the siege is wearing on Anais, given the way her lips twitch at her response, laughter threatening. She presses her hand to her mouth once more, trying to fight it back, knowing too well that if she lets that break free, other things will as well. "I'm sorry," she says after a moment. "I…all of this is…" A deep breath, and she's centered once again, turning to meet his gaze if she can. "I can only promise to be careful, Jacsen."

Surely the strain of the siege wears on her husband as well, and Anais cannot be kept from noticing at least in some measure the various teas, poultices, ointments, unguents and other remedies he must endure on a daily basis to keep himself standing up straight as he works with the men and keeps a physical schedule unlike anything he's done since returning home. "I am not seeking your promises, just now, Anais. I simply need you to obey," Jacsen tells her in no uncertain terms, his blue eyes firm when they match her own. "You like to fancy yourself a defender of our people, with bow or with word? Then act like one, and heed my instructions. If you've such an urge to see the reavers, do it from the rooftop."

"It's not to /see/ them that I've dared the walls, Jacsen," Anais replies with a twist of her lips. "They're hardly so fair as all that. The only times I've dared the walls have been when not doing so could mean leaving them unanswered and risk a loss of morale among our own people. I've accepted that I can't fight them, Jacsen. I don't even carry the bow. You'll not see me in armor, or leathers. But gods above, if I can be something…" She stops, turning away. "Please don't ask me to do nothing."

"Gods, you are the most bloody frustrating woman I've known," he says, despite that being not entirely fair. Evangeline is worse. "Did I truly wish to restrain you Anais, I would. Or at the least, I'd have sent orders that you were not to be allowed up after the first of your escapades." He shakes his head, either in wonderment or disappointment, it's hard to say. "Honestly, must you fight me on everything? Does it gall you so much to simply say 'Yes, Jacsen' and leave it at that?"

"I don't fight you on /everything/," Anais…disagrees. It's a difficult argument to make, isn't it? "Only when I disagree with you. And it isn't that I've a problem with doing things you ask in principle. It's the particular thing you're asking." She leaves the stew then, pushing out of the chair and moving toward the window. "I understand that you're afraid that something might happen to me. So am I. But I've taken precautions."

"Again, your pride, too much for you to swallow." Jacsen holds up a hand, whether or not she looks at him, wishing to forestall any response on her part. "Not another word, Anais. I am particularly sore this eve, and you're driving me towards a very uncharitable place." He draws a breath. "I will return later." He begins towards the door.

"It isn't about-" But Anais stops at his words, closing her eyes and pressing her temple to the stone of the wall. Not another word, indeed.

Her husband says nothing more as he leaves their chambers, the tapping of his cane sounding his slow-moving retreat from her, and the argument.

It has been a long day, all told, and even as sleepless as Anais usually is, the bed calls to her. She waits long enough to force down her share of the stew - now is not the time for waste, after all - before crawling under the covers to tumble into sleep.