|Of Trust and Distractions|
|Summary:||Jacsen makes some promises to Anais. Then they talk about ejaculation.|
|Related Logs:||Withdrawal!Jacsen logs (Give Me More, I Need You, Whatever I Must Do, The Winged Badger).|
|Lord Jacsen's Chambers - Four Eagles Tower|
|WHY DON'T I HAVE A DESC YET. SO LAZY.|
|Fri Jun 08, 289|
Anais may have gotten word from Saffron that Jacsen is awake, lucid, and - believe it or not - in good spirits. He doesn't look much better overall, but the young man who was hovering over him when he initially came to curl up and die is going about the room, cleaning up, changing the sheets, and making the atmosphere more lively. The whole effect is brightened with the melted-down candles removed and the curtains opened, natural light flooding into the room. As for the Young Lord, he's been changed into a fresh shirt, though he still reeks of sweat and sickness, only looks to be cold, not shivering.
Anais can't have been far from the door, because Saffron isn't gone for more than a few minutes before his wife steps back into the room, closing the door carefully behind herself. As she did during the siege, as she has since her return, she keeps a straight back, and despite spending as much time as she can guarding Jacsen's recovery, she's managed to stay in a clean gown. The change in her husband brings her to a stop, blinking as she takes in the room, the open windows…and him. "You're looking well," she says slowly, just a touch of suspicion in the words.
"Willem, give us a moment, please," Jacsen says to the boy, who dutifully leaves the room with a quick bow to them both. "I'm feeling better. Not quite well," he says cautiously to his wife, his eyes scanning her face. "Lady Saffron's visit lifted my spirits." He leans down on his hand, which is pressed into his thigh. So the leg pain is bothering him again, which means the other pain has died down significantly since the last time she was in here. "Unexpected, but welcome. I hear she brought other visitors with her as well."
"Saffron's very good at that," Anais says quietly, watching his hand and the way he moves closely. "But yes. A good number of visitors. It seems there's some pronounced tension in Stonebridge at the moment. The Charltons moved a small cohort of armsmen and knights into the Crane's Crossing while the knights of the Cape and some of the levies were out looking for those of us who'd been taken. Presumably in order to support Lady Danae's claim. Which, like Gedeon's before it, Lord Tully has reserved judgement on," she adds with some disgust. "Haighs and Westerlings, for the most part, though Lord Ser Kamron Mallister returned as well, and found his sister Lady Nedra already arrived."
"That doesn't bode well," Jacsen comments with a slight frown. "Which just may bode well," he adds after a pause, trying to work it out - but not for very long. "Can we host them all?" he asks. It always goes back to that dwindling supply of food, doesn't it? "I heard our offer of land was turned down, and the Groves will sell to the Naylands for coin." He watches the way she watches him, straight-faced, steady.
Anais sighs heavily, pressing a hand to her brow as she moves to the small desk. "We can host them for a little bit, but a number of them have taken rooms in the inn, bless their souls. Lord Patrek has at least seen to the upkeep of those who look to him, and my father sent enough to see to our immediate family." She settles into the chair, staring silently at the desk for a long moment. "When did word come from the Groves?" she finally asks. "I hadn't heard." The last is so carefully devoid of expression that it quite thoroughly expresses her displeasure with that.
Jacsen looks relieved to hear that a good number of the party will be covered, though he's surprised to hear that she hadn't heard that latest news. "Luci brought me the information when she visited earlier," he says, cocking his head. "I had thought with certainty it would have reached your ears first. I don't know when it arrived." Seeing her settle into the chair, he holds out his hand to her. Reservedly. "Anais, will you… come… sit by me?" He swallows nervously.
"Luci," Anais echoes, forcing a deep breath and pressing her fingers to the desktop hard enough to whiten her knuckles. "Well. In that case, I suppose I'm not surprised I hadn't heard." She looks up at his offer, the slow build of anger halted by a flicker of uncertainty, her eyes guarded as she looks to his offered hand. "Of course," she answers, though those words are as whitewashed as the others. Her shoulders are tight when she joins him, motions uncharacteristcally stiff.
They both sit there looking tight and stiff - her with what he takes for anger, and Jacsen with something else altogether. "Anais," he says quietly, holding her hand like it's a completely foreign object to him. "I don't remember everything that happened while I was… not myself… but I do remember enough to know I did something that hurt you. And for that I am sorry." He swallows again, frowning as he looks down at her hand in his. "I know we are not… we are still getting to know one another, but I was… unbecoming. It wasn't me, it was - it."
Speaking of actions unbecoming, this close he can likely see the faint outline of fingertips bruised into the line of her jaw, despite the powder used to cover them. "No," Anais agrees quietly. "You were not yourself." The small muscles in her jaw jump, words and feelings forced back beneath a thin veneer of calm. A deep breath, and she manages to smooth away some of the tension, though it lingers beneath the surface. "And even if you were, Jacsen, I've no right to expect…" She stops, swallowing, then reaches out to set a hand to his knee, her eyes there rather than on his features. "It's fine. We have more important things to worry about if the Groves have already sold their /entire/ surplus to the Naylands. Which is ridiculous," she adds with a sniff, rolling forward on less sensitive matters. "They might have gotten land and coin both by selling part to each of us, and made two allies instead of an ally and an enemy."
The tension remains, and it's almost palpable - despite them being close enough for Jacsen to see the bruises on her jaw, they're miles and miles apart. Turning to her, he says, "You've right to expect some - " And then he sees it. "Who did this to you?" he asks with a frown, reaching up to her face. He doesn't touch the marks but leaves his fingers hovering just above them. "You didn't have these bruises when you were recovered from the bandits." Quizzical boils over to angry, and his voice rises. "Did someone lay hands upon you? Who was it?"
Anais looks up, brows rising at his question. "You did," she answers, before surprise turns to a frown of her own. "When you were raving. When you- I thought that's what you were apologizing for." She sits up a little straighter, eyeing him. "What were you apologizing for, then?"
Jacsen reels back, eyes widening in shock. "I - I did," he says. Period, not question mark. "I don't remember. Doing that. I'm - " Another swallow. "I knew I did something, but I never imagined it was… I'm sorry. Anais. I never meant to…" Except he probably did, for all he knows. As halting and confused as it is, the apology has the tone of sincerity to it.
"I told you, it doesn't matter," Anais dismisses the apology, pushing up from the couch to move to the vanity and touch up the powder. "I knew better than to get that close when you weren't in your right mind and I did it anyhow. It's fine." She's quiet for a few moments, focusing on the cosmetics before she looks back at him. "Jacsen…" Sighing, she sets the powder down to return to the couch, reaching to take both of his hands. "There is…I mean to say…" She pauses, catching the inside of her cheek between her teeth. "I want nothing more than to be your wife in every sense of the word. I want you to trust me. I want you to confide in me. I want you to love me. But it's become increasingly clear that those goals are going to require a good deal of work and focus, and right now we have a lordship in danger of starvation. We have a duty to that first. So if you don't particularly feel anything for me, that's fine. We'll deal with that later. The first priority right now is your health, and the second is how we find our way through these difficult times as a holding. So I won't ask for your heart." Even if it breaks hers. "But I will ask for your loyalty on matters of administration and politics. Can we agree to that?"
Jacsen nods slowly, looking down at their joined hands. "That is why I asked Lady Saffron to get you," he says. Another frown, another swallow. He's still struggling with something, so the apology wasn't all of it. "Through what short time we've shared, you have been a good… and loyal wife to me. Despite all the difficulties. Whereas I…" He licks his dry lips. "I saw you returned from the bandits safely only to hurt you here with my own hands." He slowly turns their hands around so that the seal on his finger is clearly visible. "I wasn't myself, but I am still responsible. And it wasn't because of Milk of the Poppy, it was due to its lack." A hard swallow this time. "I had Willem bring me some. In the herb-tea. What little he could find." Slowly, his eyes make their way up to hers.
Anais closes her eyes, though not quickly enough to hide the pain and frustration in them. "Jacsen." Her hands tighten around his, while she tries to find a safe place in her mind from which to speak. "I don't…know what I'm supposed to say to that, except that I should have known when I came in." She opens her eyes to meet his gaze, weary. "What do you want of me, Jacsen?"
Jacsen's eyes search hers as his hands reciprocate the squeeze. "Listen," he says urgently. "I need you. I need you, Anais, specifically. I don't know whom I can trust fully. Not anymore, not completely." His voice drops to a conspiratorial whisper. "I had a… visitor. One who offered to bring me Milk of the Poppy. In exchange for… something. A favor." He glances at the door, then back to her. "I almost gave in. If I had seen it in front of me, I would have, I know that. I needed to put an end to the craving. The weakness."
Anais presses her lips together at his words, rage flashing across her eyes like lightning in the storms she loves so much. It's said all through the Banefort that she's her father's daughter, though few believe it until they see it. "You're right, Jacsen," she agrees, voice tight. "You need to put an end to that weakness. Though I don't think continuing to rely on it is going to help. But we'll get back to that." Her chin rises as she meets his gaze. "But more, we can't have traitors in our house. Tell me who tried to use you that way. We'll see who has the sharper claws."
This is a new side of Anais that Jacsen has not seen before. Or at least has never noticed. "It wasn't… traitorous," he answers with measured words. "At least, I have no reason to suspect it. The visitor was - is - good. On our side. I've no reason to think otherwise." But he doesn't sound a hundred percent certain on that one. "I can't name a name, not - yet. Please trust me on this, Anais. When the time is right." He looks down at the seal for a second. "But it may be unwise for me to stop my… medication. Not when we are in such a precarious state. I can't afford to be so vulnerable and so malleable."
"Jacsen." Anais looks as immovable as the Banefort from which she comes, her jaw set. "Tell me who it was." She arches a brow, challenging. "Or would you rather leave me undefended against whatever they may try with me next? Finding you not so easily manipulated, they may try to set me against you, or turn us against each other. I can't guard against what I can't see."
Jacsen shakes his head firmly. "I can't," he says, looking away. "They're not a threat. I promise you, Anais, if I thought they were, then I would tell you in a heartbeat. But others might be." He grips her hands tighter. "That is why I must know. That I can trust you fully, completely, and without hesitation. That you won't turn against me, no matter what anyone says, no matter how bad it gets."
"Jacsen, where exactly would I turn?" Anais' question is dry. "If you won't trust in that because I'm your wife and because I've told you I won't, because I stayed when Jaremy left, because I fought the Ironborn for you and for this keep, then trust it because I have nowhere else to go. We sold my dowry to feed the Roost for just a little longer. My father doesn't have the resources to provide another. I am not going anywhere." She shifts to face him more fully, grave. "But trust this too, Jacsen. If I find out who tried to suborn you on my own? I make no promises of safe passage for them."
Jacsen takes in her words - and her threat - with an even look. "Then you will have the same from me," he promises. "And you were right, before. That it will take time for me to… love you." At least he didn't throw an 'if' into that sentence. "But you are a bright and beautiful Lady, Anais." He lets his hands slip away from hers and to his sides. "I will need more Milk of the Poppy. Very soon. Willem could only scrape together enough to quiet the symptoms for a couple hours."
"If you're going to keep taking it, Jacsen, then you're going to do it with the Maester's assistance and regulation," Anais says firmly, freeing one hand to reach up and brush a hand through his hair. "Just enough to hold back the sweats and cramps. No more. I mean it." Her features soften as she watches him, the rage fading into the background once more.
"And if you want more, you come to me first, and we get it together," Anais adds carefully, still watching him. "Both of us. Together. If it's too much to bear, please come to me. Maybe I can at least distract you from the discomfort for a little bit, hmm?" she asks, a faint smile finding its way to her features.
"Both of us, together," Jacsen confirms. "But if the Maester's going to be involved, well need to ensure his discretion. And secure his stores." The tapping slows a bit when she mentions distractions. "Distraction, yes," he says, clearing his throat. "Which is, well, one of the problematic side effects of the Milk, once I start back on the regular doses, that I will… desire, but not… achieve." Another throatclear. "Unless the Maester has something else for… that."
"We're not securing his stores," Anais says flatly, warning. "He's controlling them, because you can't control your desire for it." At the last, she flushes slightly, reaching up to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear. "Well. Just because you can't /finish/ doesn't mean we can't…start," she shrugs self-consciously, glancing away. "Or that I can't." And there's a flare up in her cheeks, because that is not something good noble ladies say, even to their husbands. "I mean. If you don't mind. Practicing." Right. Practicing.
"I didn't mean - not for us to take it," Jacsen says, trying to defend his words so they don't sound like he wants to confiscate all of the dope. "I meant secure them against theft, tampering. That's all." As for the other matter… "No, and it's not that it's… enjoyable, it's… it stops me from…" He is looking just about everywhere except at Anais. "No, no, not at all," he responds. Mind practicing, that is. "No, practice is, is good." Pause. Frown. "Do I need practice?" Then, immediately after: "What did you say about me in the caves?" Those two questions might be linked.
"I /like/ practice," Anais admits, looking a bit sheepish herself and avoiding his gaze just as much. "I mean. I mean, I wouldn't like it if you needed practice, right? My mother always said that it didn't matter if it was enjoyable, but the women down at the docks-" And then she cuts herself off, clearing her throat. "The caves. Oh." She wrinkles her nose, leaning back into a corner of the couch. It's further from him, but it's also a more relaxed posture, more genuine. "Well I didn't tell anyone details about /that/. Not that they weren't asking, but I was of the mind that it probably wasn't best to bring up those sorts of topics while naked and at the mercy of angry bandits." She falls silent a moment then, finally looking back to him. "Someone asked me how I'd describe you. I said you were smart, canny, sometimes ruthless. Proud. But that I thought you questioned yourself too much, because of your leg. That I wished you had more faith in yourself and your abilities. That…" A pause, and she catches the corner of her lip between her teeth. "That maybe neither of us was what the other had expected. That I wasn't sure you cared much for me, or even cared to try. That I didn't think you'd come for me, but that when I got home, you would hold me until I slept, and be there when I woke." The last is quiet, and there's almost an apology in it.
Jacsen listens, settling on the other end of the couch. It's funny - now that they distance themselves more physically, they're both more close and relaxed. "I suppose… those are all true," he says after ruminating for a minute. "Except." He holds up a finger. "I came for you." For the rescue, not the last time they… practiced. "I came for you." And that seems to be an important point for him. After all, he had just woken up a few days before.
Anais smiles faintly, dipping her chin in agreement. "You did." She draws a breath, reaching up to push a hand through her hair. "You're filthy," she informs him. "And I'm at my wits end. What do you say we go down to the cove and go for a little swim?" she suggests. "Forget about all of this for a few minutes and just…be."
"That sounds… nice," Jacsen admits. He sounds unsure of things that are nice, not after the last couple days that he's had. "We'll have to see Maester Pyrs on the way, I'm…" He brings his arm up slowly until it's horizontal; his hand is shaking considerably more than when Anais came in. "Before it -" Then something clicks in his head and he looks at his wife with a… different expression. "Unless swimming is just supposed to be a… distraction."
Anais arches a brow. "Why would I go all the way to the sandy, salty beach to distract you when I could do it right here with a hot bath?" she asks, smile wry. "I love going swimming, Jacsen. I want to share something I love with you. And if it keeps you from thinking about the drugs for a little bit, then that's just as well, but I wasn't trying to handle you." She moves to stand, offering him a hand. "But whatever we're going to do, we'll do it together."
"I was trying to get you to… handle me," Jacsen says wryly, scratching the scruffy hair above his ear. "I've been off the milk for two and a half days and only had a minuscule dose a couple hours ago. So the… effects may not be as… inhibiting." He clears his throat again. Why is this such a difficult subject to talk about? He takes her hand, cane in the other, and pushes up onto his feet. Good thing she's holding on to him, because he sways quite a bit when he stands.
"Oh. Oh!" Anais glances over her shoulder toward the bed, a faint smile curving. "Well, in that case, forget the beach. We'll save the bath for after." And with those words - cheeks still flaming - she leans up and slips a hand behind his neck to pull him down for a kiss, more than happy to provide ample distraction.