Page 182: No Directions Here
No Directions Here
Summary: Belle asks Alek for directions. He hits on her. Hardwicke gets pissy.
Date: January 15, 2012
Related Logs: Directly following Together Again
Belle Alek Hardwicke 
Rockcliff Inn — Terrick's Roost
The Rockcliff Inn is one of the better inns within the town and it shows with the well-lit interior and the relative cleanliness to the other locations in Terrick's Roost. The tables are polished with oils and the floor regularly swept. A set of booths towards a darker rear of the Inn's bottom floor, just beneath the staircase, are where whores generally socialize and eye prospects from when not waiting tables. Signs over the undersized bar area advertise prices for ales and wines as well as several different choices of food to be served at the small eating area by the bar or in the main open area in its comfortable seating. A door behind the bar leads to the kitchen and cellar while another near the staircase leads to a private room that would appear to be off-limits to the 'wait staff' except for food and drink service.
January 15, 289

There is little left by way of furniture in the Rockcliff's common room, those workers that have survived the invasion already having cleared what broken bits they could. Few tankards and glasses have survived, but as there are not very many patrons yet so early in the day, they have dug one of the remaining up to serve to the blonde knight cloaked in Valentin colors at the bar. All of the good ale and wine has been long since pillaged and consumed, but Alek has settled easily for one of the less pleasant casks and drinks quietly as he's been abandoned for more pressing tasks like cleaning.

Belle steps into the inn, taking a moment to view the disaster recovery in process, fleeting regret passing over her features. She rights a chair, absently, then asks one of the passing staff, "I know it's the last thing on your mind, but do you know if there's an apple or two around? Perhaps I could check the cellar? There's no need for you to trouble…"

The serving girl just shrugs. "'Ave a look if you want, lovie. We've got bigger fish t'fry. Whole place still smells like squid…"

Belle flashes a smile of gratitude, then realizes she hasn't the faintest idea where the cellars are. But there's a fellow helping himself to a cask — "Excuse me…" says Belle, putting on a winning smile for Alek. "You look like a man who knows his way around the pub. Could you point me to the cellars?"

"I do not think they allow me in the cellars of the Rockcliff anymore," Alek begins to drawl with a laugh, turning in his seat even as he rakes fingers through too-long hair. His gaze, narrowed and lazy, slides purposefully over Belle, ending only with the tip of a crooked smile. "But I am sure I can risk it, if you are inviting me there."

Belle laughs, shaking her head. "Just asking directions, Ser," she demurs with an easy grin. "I wouldn't want you to risk being thrown out on my account."

"Are you sure that all you would like is directions? I do make an excellent cellar-companion," is murmured with slow but sure suggestion, the flicker of a rakish smile in Alek's lips as his gaze drops over Belle once again, a weight to the brush of those grey eyes.

"And would that I were at liberty to give you the hero's welcome you deserve, Ser… Alek, isn't it?" Belle looks him over in turn, a dimple bracketing her saucy smirk. "But I'm afraid I'm spoken for — however renowned you are for your cunning linguistics."

"That is quite a shame. Though, it has been said that what one doesn't know doesn't hurt," Alek replies with a hint of a grin, disappointment only a fleeting thing that is washed away with another sip of ale. "And if you heard half of the truth, you surely would find yourself at liberty."

Belle laughs, leaning over to kiss the blonde knight's forehead. "You're adorable," she opines. "Now, point the way, sweeting? Or I suppose I could just wander until I come across them myself. How big can the place be?"

Belle might mean to kiss his forehead, but Alek is not quite as drunk as he appears, and faster then most would likely give him credit for. After all, he did survive the battle without a scratch to show for it. He shifts into her moment, half-rising to capture her lips with his, smile lingering between them. "You'll find it," he replies carelessly.

Now that's the oldest trick in the book — but it catches Belle entirely off-guard, already wondering where she'd be, if she were a cellar. Still, he doesn't get the resounding smack he might, otherwise. Far more amused than outraged, Belle smiles back at him, gazing through her lashes — and tweaks the tip of his nose. "Adorable," she says again, lips lifting at one corner in that same, dimpled smirk. "May the day find you as you deserve, Ser."

Hardwicke shoulders through the door, his glance sliding about the common room to mark its state and those beginning to clear it. And then it lands quite squarely on Alek and Belle and what exactly is going on between them. "I see you have helped yourself to introductions with my betrothed, Ser Coope," he says in a low growl.

"It never does," Alek begins to say, wry already as he moves to twitch her curl in turn. This gesture is aborted at Hardwicke's words, however, instead reaching for his tankard as he turns innocently. "Yours? Quite the catch, Ser Blayne."

"Oh, good," Belle says, dryly. "You've met." She curls herself about Hardwicke's arm affectionately. "Ser Alek was just telling me where the cellars are, so I could fetch an apple for Dulcinea." Completely innocent. Is it coincidence she's decided to twine herself around his smiting arm?

"Yes, well." Hardwicke doesn't take his eyes off of Alek, even as Belle twines herself so securely around his sword arm. "Some of us prefer keeping just one."

"Some people are rather boring, too. We all have our preferences," is drawled back in turn, the slight curve of a smirk to Alek's lips that peeks from beneath the raised rim of his drink. "You now have your escort to the cellars, I suppose, then."

Belle sighs. "Sweet, smiling Stranger, all I wanted was directions!" she says, throwing up her arms. She grabs a passing patron by the arm. "Cellars?"

The poor bloke blinks and points toward the back.

"See?" huffs Belle, and goes to get her apple.

Hardwicke watches Belle go with a flicker of his gaze before it returns to settle squarely on Alek. Maybe he is going to stand her and watch to make sure he doesn't follow her.

The knight does not get up to follow after Belle, though no one can certainly blame him if his gaze slides after the woman with a flicker of appreciation for her backside, can they? Instead, Alek only continues to sit and drink his ale.

"I will assume, Ser Coope," Hardwicke tells him with distinct clearness, "that you were ignorant of the fact that she is spoken for. I won't extend the same courtesy twice."

Elsewhere, Belle has found the cellar — in far worse shape than the main room — and lifts her skirts to step around puddles of ale, wine, whiskey, vomit… and other things best left uncategorized. She mutters to herself, rummaging about until she finds a single, small, lonely sack of dried apples. Which will have to do.

"That is very kind of you," Alek remarks mildly, a brow curving upwards in every bit an amused gesture.

Hardwicke scowls, bristling even further at Alek's carelessly amused mildness. "What luck that you manage to find everything so /funny/, Coope."

Alek only smiles, helplessly, as he rolls a shoulder in a shrug. "You do not find your betrothed amusing like I do?" he asks curiously.

Returning from her spelunk in the squid spunk, a few measly, dried apples in her hands, Belle comments blithely, "I'm an entertainer. Amusing is what I do." She glances between the two men. "Playing nice?"

A ripple of frustrated tension knots the line of Hardwicke's back as Alek turns his words around on him. He seems about to snap back with something distinctly more angry, though likely significantly less witty, when Belle returns. He snaps his mouth shut and glares at Alek.

"I am always nice," Alek assures Belle with a flash of white teeth in his firm smile. "Feel free to come back later without the attachments, if you like."

Belle glances up at Hardwicke, then at Alek. "I have a feeling I'm going to be busy," she tells Alek with a slender smile. "So thanks for that. Here. Have an apple." Consolation prize. She places one of the withered things on the bar beside him and ruffles his hair.

Well, now he's just /trying/. Hardwicke does not waste much time in clenching a fist and sailing it directly at Alek's jaw. Too bad the Ironborn kept trying to cut off his off arm and not this one.

Alek is ready for that, purposefully provoking as he was. He is quick enough to turn away from the punch, sending knuckles to slide along his jaw instead of impacting it directly. For all that, it will still likely leave a bruise and does have him raise a hand to thumb along it. "Come on, now. I just came to your rescue," he appeals dryly as he moves to pick up the apple.

"Hardwicke!" Belle cries, more startled than upset by the outburst. She frowns at Alex. "You shouldn't provoke him," she scolds. Too easy. Not at all sporting. Having acquired what she came for, she reaches up to coax the Captain's gaze down to her. "Was there something you needed here, love?"

Hardwicke draws his thumb over his knuckles, fist fallen to his side. "I warned you," he snaps at him, still bristling. "Just checking the state of things," he tells Belle, not quite coaxed down to looking at her yet. He is still making grarar faces at Alek.

To rararar faces, Alek only smiles, though the smirky, crooked thing is softer than before. The weight of his gaze drags over Hardwicke, sliding over the length of him before he takes a drink from his ale. He allows, "Do not worry. I have the Rockcliff well in hand if the Ironborn show back up."

Belle watches that weighted gaze slide over Hardwicke, her eyes widening a little, then chokes on a sort of laughter. She shakes her head at Alek, even blushing a little, then wraps herself around her betrothed's arm again. "We should go, darling."

"I'm sure you'll find the coin for a whore, if Oldstones can manage to pay you for your service," Hardwicke grouches. He finally allows himself to be coaxed away by that soft, urging weight on his arm, but he does shoot a last glare at Alek before he goes.

"If they ask for one," Alek only remarks to the retreating figures, looking entirely too innocent still in the face of blushing and grouching. Then he turns back to the bar to wait with his drink.

That earns another snort of laughter from Belle, who immediately assumes a mien of innocence herself, lest she be grarared at for giggling at the enemy. She accompanies Ser Hardwicke from the inn, though she does glance back as they go.

"Stop that," Hardwicke growls, either for the aborted giggle or her glance back. He is a bit grouchily stompy as they leave, at any rate.