|Summary:||'Rowan,' and the cat, welcome Jarod home properly.|
|Related Logs:||Also Home Again|
|Cupboard Above the Stable Stairs — Terrick's Roost|
|Oct 12, 288|
Ser Jarod Rivers is home. After an extended trek away from it, pawing the wilderness for the wayward Jaremy formerly known as Terrick. He's been back for a few hours. His horse has been stabled in his regular stall, though Jarod has mostly be closeted in the castle since he came back. Behind closed doors with the Lord of the Roost for most of that time, and briefly touching base with each of his siblings. And bathing. He was rather dirty after his time on the road, and he took some time to pretty himself up before heading out on the grounds again as evening descends. He ventures out to the stables and kennel area now, hair still wet and changed into fresh clothing, in search of the squire known as Rowan Nayland.
Squire Rowan has, according to the Master of Hounds, gone to his room for the evening. It seems that Dornish witch of Master Jacsen's brought the boy some tiny, abandoned bundle of fur and the lad's been thoroughly distracted with nursing it back to health. He grumbles about it a bit, but allows that he'd better start relying more on that Ser Jarod's new boy, as who knows when them Oldstones will bugger off back to their sticks and mud, taking Rowan with them…
"Any'ow, you know the way, Ser," says the grizzled old Houndsman, jerking his chin at the stairs. "Boy's likely got yer cat up there, too. Thing yowled somethin' pathetic without stoppin', af'er you left."
"He missed me?" The bit about the cat seems to surprise Jarod, and oddly touch him. "Sentimental thing. I figured he just thought I was a servant who occasionally gave him milk and the like. Anyhow. Thanks. I'll just go…see to my pussy." And up the stairs Jarod tromps, on that note. At a heavy jog, so his approach is probably announced long before he knocks on the little door to Rowan's room.
The heavy clomping brings quite a reaction from behind that little door — a long yowl and scratchscratchscratchscratchscratch. Obviously Ser Mew has decided the door will give him what he wants, like all other things, as long as he annoys it thoroughly enough. Also, there's laughter, followed by another indignant meow as the cat is picked up. "Seven smite you, you silly animal — you'd think he abandoned you for months. Come in!"
Jarod opens the door and comes in, indeed. Promptly closing it behind him. "Well, at least the cat missed me." He's grinning broadly. His first order of business is to try and embrace the squire and kiss her, soundly. Which the cat may get in the way of. But he's willing to risk that.
Cat? What cat? The cat is tossed unceremoniously into the bed the moment Jarod's shut the door, and Rose meets him halfway, sinking her fingers into his hair and kissing him with equal, abundant measures of hunger and delight. Ser Mew immediately hops off the bed and winds himself persistently around and through their legs, purring and rubbing. The squire pays the cat no attention whatsoever.
Jarod is less graceful about avoiding his cat, stepping on it while it laces around his feet as he makes out with Rowan. Which startles him out of doing that and makes him lose his footing, as it runs off into a corner with an irate yowl at him. He stumbles as it flits away, around his legs, and rather crashes to the floor of the squire's little room. "Fucking hells…"
Rose doesn't even try not to laugh, shaking her head and sinking to her knees, straddling him and kissing him again, making quick work of his belt. "The floor works for me," she purrs against his ear. "We can save the bed for round two." Apparently, the cat really wasn't alone in missing him.
Jarod tries to tug her tunic off over her head while she works his belt, and he's quite happy to assist her in getting him naked quickly. He's quite speedy about getting his clothes off. He's talented like that. "Missed you," he says, before starting in on kissing her again.
There's muted giggling between kisses and soft gasps as they wrestle one another out of their clothes. She drags her nails down his bare chest and suckles the skin of his throat. "I missed you, too," she whispers hotly, and then proceeds to show him precisely how much.
Jarod shows her how much he missed her in kind. He's been without the company of a woman for a couple of weeks now, and this is plainly one of those things he was *really* looking forward to doing when he got back. He takes his time at it, so it's gotten entirely dark once they're finished with each other. They migrated to the little bed eventually and he's content to just lay there, holding her. "You think the cat was watching us?" he speculates idly. Like it just randomly occurred to him.
Boneless, sated, slightly asheen with sweat, Rowan breathes deeply, cocooned in the tangle of the sheets and their bodies. Her fingertips trace lazy patterns up and down his back — and his question makes her laugh, her grin curving against his collarbone. "If he was, it was only briefly and with the utmost disdain." She lifts her head just a little, resting it on his upper arm so she can better see his face. "How are you?" she asks softly, more seriously, expression tender and concerned.
Jarod laughs. "I just never thought about it before. I mean, what do they *think* about that, you figure?" Though he's looking all at her rather than sparing any glances as to where his cat may've gone. Her question makes him grin. "Doing fairly well right now. Hope you're the same. I do aim to please." More seriously he adds, "It's good to be home. I was gone longer than I should've been, I figure. Wasn't much point to it after the first week, but I figured if I beat the bushes a bit more I might find…something." He doesn't sound entirely sad that he didn't, though there's a faint air of worry as he thinks on it.
Rose eyeballs him a quizzical look as he gives his mission statement. "You hope I'm the same?" she echoes with amusement. "You mean all that arching and shuddering and biting your shoulder to keep from crying out loud didn't give you even the littlest inkling?" She cradles his face in her hands, kissing the bridge of his nose. "It's good to have you home. He'll be alright, Jarod. I know you'll miss him and you'll worry, but… like I was telling Jack, I really think this is for the best."
Jarod chuckles at that, though he does grin broadly at the affirmation that she kind of enjoys him. Ser Rivers is nothing if not a frenetic people-pleaser. In pretty much all things. He closes his eyes when she kisses his nose, arching his chin so he can catch her lips after. "An inkling, maybe." For a beat he just enjoys kissing her again, though eventually his mind settles back on Jaremy. "It's for the best in the long-term. Though it's a good deal of responsibility Jace never should've had to take on. You can make your own life, to a point, when you're a younger son. Lordling or no. He's less free to that now. And it's another sting to our family's reputation in the eyes of the Riverlands, even if we will be stronger for it eventually. And it's devastating to my lord father. And Lady Terrick. Part of me's angry at him, I guess. Jaremy always had so much, y'know? But he never…took care of it, like I thought he should." Even now he's reluctant to criticize his elder brother. "Parts of it, at least. And he's just tossed off the name, like it was nothing. Like it didn't mean anything to him. You know what I'd give to have that, Rowenna? And he just…like it didn't even matter to him…"
"I know it's not what Jack wanted," Rose says, her sympathy evident. She combs her fingers soothingly thought his hair as she speaks. "But I hope he'll learn to find some contentment in it. I know he loves his family and the Roost. I can't imagine what fulfillment he'd find serving Seaguard that he wouldn't find tenfold here, given the chance. And Anais… is beautiful, and very intelligent, and wants very much to be a good lady. She'll make him a fine partner, if he lets her." As for the grief of a father and a mother — what can ease that but time? It goes unsaid. Instead, she says, "I know how bitter that must be for you… for him to cast aside something you value so much. He just… doesn't understand. Like so many other things." She kisses him tenderly. "The name is the only thing you lack, you know. You're an eagle with a lion's heart — a Terrick through and through."
"You say such things to me…you seem to even believe them, too." Whether Jarod does is unclear, but he looks profoundly grateful for her doing it. He kisses her back, soft but long and deep, lacing his arms tighter around her when he eventually leans back from it. "But aye. He doesn't understand. Maybe he'll come to, in time. I just pray he doesn't do himself any harm while he's figuring out the world's not a storybook. I couldn't figure out where he'd gone, Rowenna, but I…I didn't like some of what I found he'd done on the road. Bodes ill, feels like."
She does seem to believe it — her faith is even in her kisses, ardent and achingly sincere. She listens as he speaks after, tracing his lower lip with the pad of her thumb. "What did you find?" she asks.
"Jaremy seemed like he'd melted into the air after Stonebridge," Jarod says. "There's no sign he crossed the bridge toward the Mire. I pray he didn't go in that direction. We tried to track him toward Seagard a bit. I figure…Amelia's people were from there…maybe…" He shrugs. "But even if he did, there's no trail to follow, and we just have to wait and see if he resurfaces. Somehow. But I did find traces of him passing through Stonebridge. Most telling was in this dockside tavern. Rough place. Kind I wouldn't care to drink in. I'm not sure Jaremy's set foot in such a place in his life. Fuck, sometimes I thought he figured the Rockcliff was 'rough.'" Jarod snorts. "Anyhow. It was the kind of place you find sell swords and the like. And I managed to get one of them talking and I guess…Jaremy was in there, a couple of days before we managed to get to town. Trying to hire mercenaries."
Rose stares blankly a moment. "Mercenaries?" she asks with hushed alarm. "What in the seven buggering hells for?"
"No fucking idea, which is what's bothering me most about it," Jarod says. He's had enough time to let the idea settle that he's no longer alarmed - exactly - but it's the source of that cloud of worry that's gnawing at him about the whole thing. "I don't think he had much luck. I'm not sure how much pocket money he managed to take with him, but I guess he was offering to pay swords in 'justice' rather than coin." He snorts a laugh. "That's Jaremy."
She has to duck her head at that, uttering a snort of mirth. "Right. Well. At least we know he was unsuccessful." She sighs. "Even if he does have some coin, they'll rob him blind or desert him the instant it runs out. One or the other should happen fairly quickly — and that brief window should limit the damage he's able to do."
"Aye, that's most likely to happen," Jarod agrees. Though his mind still plainly isn't at ease about it. "I can't even imagine what mad quest he thinks he's off on. I wish he'd…talked to me, before he went and did this. But I think he pulled into himself after what'd happened with Amelia Millen. Before that, even. Maybe it was all tied up with Stonebridge - and Isolde Tordane - going over to the Naylands. But I don't know. I feel like, if those things'd meant so much to him, he should've taken them five years ago. Three years ago. Two or one. When he had the chance. Anyhow. Matters little now. The trouble for us is that the Naylands also spotted Jaremy when he was in Stonebridge. And I guess they also got word about him talking up sell swords, not long before I did."
"I'm sure he didn't realize how much it all meant to him until he lost it," Rose offers, stroking the backs of her fingers against his cheek. "And by then is was too late. Everything he's done since… it's been a manic and misguided scramble to get it back." She winces faintly at the last bit, grimacing. "Oi," she opines softly. "Did you speak with my cousin?"
Jarod nods an affirmative to that question. Wincing. "Aye. Couldn't really avoid it. He ran into me in Stonebridge. At first I tried to give him some story about why I was passing through. That's before I knew he knew about Jaremy being there, and talking up the sell swords. When I found out I had to go ask him more questions. Figure out if they'd…put their hands on Jaremy. In either Stonebridge or the Mire. I don't think they have. And I…maybe I fucked up, but I felt I had to tell them what Jaremy had done. Giving up the name, running off…because whatever he does…it's probably better the Terrick name isn't tied up in it."
"You did the right thing," soothes Rose, "and I'm sure your father said the same. There's no telling what Jaremy's been up to and the peace is… fragile. If someone's got to talk to my cousin about any of this, it's best it be you, really. You two…" she shakes her head a little, puzzled. "I don't know what to call it. Respect? There's an understanding. And with the wedding and the tourney coming up? The world will know soon enough."
"Father didn't seem cross about that bit of it," Jarod says. "I just…I wanted to fix it for him, Rowenna. For all the Terricks. Bring Jaremy home and…get it so it'd work out easier for all of us, even if he wouldn't be the heir anymore. But, aye. Maybe we were naive, thinking we could keep it quiet. Jace says Lord Mallister's been told. I figure the Baneforts know by now, with how things were in the household when I left, how things've got to be settled with the marriage agreement. This is how it's got to be. I just…I wish I could've made it better for everyone."
"Jarod," Rose says, resting her forehead against his, the tips of their noses touching, "you do make it better for everyone. I can't imagine what any of us would ever do without you."
Jarod shrugs to that. Edging up, just a little, to kiss the tip of Rose's nose. "I try. I hope I do, for you. I figure I'm luck the lot of you put up with me, so I should try and earn some of it. I missed you so much…" Murmured as he kisses her neck again. He's said it before, but he seems to feel the need to repeat it. Like he's sort of marveling at it to himself. "I wasn't…I mean, we can't be together like this all the time, here, so I didn't figure it'd be so…hard. It was, though. I just kept…wondering what you were doing. Wondering if you were thinking of me. Thinking about how your skin felt…like this…" His fingers trace up and down her bare back. "You make it better for me, too, I guess is what I'm trying to say."
The smile starts small and shy, blossoming as he goes on until it's wide and luminous and she's blushing of all things. She finally has to duck her head, biting the corner of her bottom lip. "Why, Jarod Rivers," she says, all dimples and sparkling dark eyes, gazing at him through her lashes. "As I live and breathe, you sound a little smitten." She kisses him, lips lingering, so her mouth brushes his when she nods. "I missed you, too," she whispers. "I know… we can't always be like this… but… I like having you near. Just… seeing you here and there, through the day. Knowing you're somewhere close by. I… didn't really know how much that… knowledge, that feeling of you was a part of my life until you were gone away."
"Maybe, Rowenna Rose Nayland. Maybe I am." Jarod sounds rather content with that. "I know. That's it. That's just it. And this is just…nice." There's a touch of regret in his tone as he says that, though. It's getting later and he should likely start thinking about getting back to the castle. But he lingers for a bit yet. "Thanks for feeding my cat. You didn't have to do that."
Rose laughs and shakes her head. "Don't be silly. What are friend-lover-ex-squires for?" Then, more sincerely, "I had to do something for you. I would have gone mad, otherwise." Speaking of the cat, Ser Mew suddenly hisses. He's glaring, back arched and hair on end, at a little crate in the corner out of which is peeking a tiny, red fox kit. It peers around and yips. "Speaking of feeding," says Rose, "meet Sly. It's third-supper time for him."
The hissing makes Jarod sit up, as if ready to do battle with some threat. Then he laughs at the yipping. "Making friends, I see," he notes to the cat wryly. Finally, reluctantly, he kisses the top of Rowan's head and rolls out of bed to start getting himself dressed. "I'd not want to keep him waiting. How'd you come up with the name 'Sly' anyhow?"
She props herself up on an elbow, lazily, shamelessly, lasciviously enjoying the view as Ser Jarod pulls on his clothes. "Aren't foxes supposed to be sly?" she shrugs. "Seemed like a fitting enough thing to call one. If he'd been a girl I'd've called him 'Sketchy'."
Jarod has to take some time finding his boots. And picking up his cat, who continues to hiss malevolently at the poor fox. "Mean sod, aren't you? Careful, or we'll change your name to Rygar." He looks back at Rowenna, offering her a big grin. "I'll see you on the morrow. And the day after that, too. And after that."
Sheet wrapped around her for modesty — but only just — she leans up and hooks the neckline of his tunic with a finger, drawing him down for a kiss goodbye. "And after that," Rose says, smiling against his lips.
Jarod has to drop his cat to kiss her good night, which causes more hissing and flitting off indignantly into a corner. The knight takes some time with it, however, so the beast has calmed down somewhat by the time he goes to collect him again. "It's good to be home," he says simply. And with that, he leaves her to her kit.