|Repairing the Damage|
|Summary:||Anais runs into Jacsen at the cove, who tells her that she is doing everything wrong. Then they kiss and make up. Oh, and there's other stuff in between.|
|Related Logs:||Mainly Like a Woman and following logs.|
|Rocky Cove - Terrick's Roost|
|To the west of the path leading down, the beach extends below a cliff face and takes a turn inland where the terrain above has collapsed down to be claimed by the pounding waters below. It has formed a small, almost private cove with jagged rocks in the water at the cliffs while the ocean has relaimed most of those from the beach. Due to the elevation of the cliffs, the top of the tower to the north is just barely visible despite the relatively short distance.|
|Sat Jun 16, 289|
The winds whip the waves into a frenzy as they reach toward the cloud-covered shore. There are spots of sunlight peeking out, though, and it is in one of these that Jacsen sits, knees drawn up to his chest, his folded arms resting on top. But instead of looking into the water or out to the horizon as most people would, he looks up toward the cliff he jumped from just the other day. Willem sits a few paces back from him, having been dragged along to make sure he didn't fall over and die on the way here.
There was a meeting of Terricks. It did not end well for Anais. She returned to the keep to meet with the Maester, then promptly rode out again. And has not really been seen since. It's not Kincaid who left with her, but Derek, the older, quieter of the guards who came with her from the Banefort. Now the pair rides down the shore in silence, a yawning Nina trailing behind. When she catches sight of Jacsen, she pauses for just a moment, then slips down from her horse, handing the reins over to Derek to approach on foot. "Fancy meeting you here," she murmurs, moving to sit down next to him.
The beating of horsehooves doesn't make Jacsen turn his head, apparently not in the least interested in who's coming up to him. But when he hears Anais' voice, he does glance over with a blank expression, watching her as she sits next to him. "Didn't really want to be anywhere near the Tower right now," he says with a shrug. So, he must've gotten backbriefed on the meeting he wasn't able to attend. "So now you've made enemies of my whole family," he says conversationally, remarking on her explosion at the gathering. "I can't say I'm not intrigued to see what your next move will be."
"Your family is insane." Finally, there's no ire in the words. Anais says it as though it's simple fact. "And so is the Maester. He tried to get me to take something to convince people I was expecting. When I pointed out we'd then have to explain why there wasn't a baby in nine months, he suggested that we'd have you beat me, and then blame you for the loss of the babe. You people…" She trails off, shaking her head and dropping her brow to one hand. "Insane."
"That explains the Maester being insane," Jacsen responds, eyes moving from her to the cloudy horizon as he picks up a small rock and throws it into the water. "My family is… dynamic. Not insane - no, insane would mean you couldn't understand them, their motivations, their goals." His voice is quiet and even, lacking any sort of anger or vindication. Not even disappointment. He's just… distant. Not quite here. "You've made it very difficult to defend you to the rest of them after that one, Anais."
"I was right, Jacsen. I /am/ right. Your sister is a poison in this house, and until they /recognize/ it, she's just going to keep pumping her poison through its veins until there's nothing left. You see that, don't you?" Anais turns to look at him, knees held close to her chest as though to shelter a glimmer of hope from the wind and the waves.
"Anais…" Jacsen shakes his head, touching his forehead down to his arms. "Right doesn't enter this picture at all. Look at what is useful. Whatever you may think about my sister, whatever you may believe of her, the family loves her. My father loves her. More than anything. And she has always served the interest of the House." His head comes up again as though to still any argument she may offer. "She's overstepped here and there, maybe, but nothing egregious and always with the family in mind. It doesn't suit her to destroy her own family, there's just no sense in it. Her designs are elsewhere."
"Jacsen, she was willing to /poison/ you to get what she wanted. And your father either doesn't believe it, or is all right with that. How can you let that stand? How can /you/ be all right with that? How can-" Anais stops short, pushing up again and stalking a few steps away, wiping a hand at her eyes. "I've done things for the good of this house, too, Jacsen. I've spent months trying to mend fences with the Naylands. It's almost done. And then he just- He just spits on it." Her voice grows softer, bewildered.
"She wanted the House to start moving forward again," Jacsen says with a shrug. He seems to be fine with it too, apparently. Or he just doesn't care about anything right now. "We've fallen behind on everything. Indecisiveness, lack of communication, and just general gutlessness. We lost Stonebridge, we lost the Groves harvest. She wanted to be able to push things along as they should've gone. And it wasn't any poison I wasn't already giving myself." He picks up another rock and throws it, this time going for a high arc instead of distance. "I know you have. But you should have picked anyone but the - Naylands." The first sign of emotion in him, a slight growl at that name. "You need to tone it back for now and make friends. When Luci is married away, they'll look more to you - and it would be useful if they liked you by then."
"They should look to me /now/, Jacsen. She ran away. She left them. When everything's been ugly and hard, I've been here. I've helped them rebuild their houses, watched their children, shown them ways to keep themselves fed when there's nothing else to be done. I picked the Naylands because they were the biggest, closest threat, Jacsen." Anais stalks a few steps, then stops, digging her heels into the sand. "I picked the Naylands to eliminate that threat." A deep breath, and she turns back to face him. "Keep away from her, Jacsen, and keep her away from me."
"Should isn't useful either," Jacsen offers unhelpfully. "'Right', 'Should', and 'Could Have'." That seems to be his list of three words to avoid. "She's my sister, Anais." He raises a brow at her. "She didn't run away. She was sent to Middlemarch. She came back, and she's working to better our position. You don't have to love her, but if you antagonize her, even just by keeping aloof, you will be at odds with everyone else." He unfolds himself from his curled-up position kicking his bad leg out with the other foot to get it to lay flat. "You already know all this, Anais. Why are you so determined to fight what must be done if you wish to command influence and respect as my wife?"
"She came after you, Jacsen." The words are quiet, but heavy with menace. "Anything else, I might have forgiven her. But she came after you. And for that, I'll see her burn." Maybe that's love in the Westerlands? Anais watches him for a moment, then shakes her head, brushing the sand from her skirts. "We'll be leaving for Seagard shortly. Should I send your horse here?"
"You're looking at it wrong," Jacsen says, tapping at his wound with a weather-rounded rock. "You don't believe me, and you never might. But if you continue down this path, if you keep harboring this, it will destroy you. It will cut through the heart of you." It's a caution, not a threat, and one delivered quite gravely. When she makes to leave, he holds out a hand. "Wait. Stay." There's an urgency to his voice. A need. "Just - wait with me. Just for a moment. Willem can send for my horse." He looks up at her. "Please."
Anais pauses at his call, fingers tangling in her skirts. Slowly, she turns back to him, closing the few steps between them and sinking down to the sand next to him. It's a little awkward, the way she moves closer. The way she shifts, to rest her cheek against his shoulder. And then she does something she's never done with him before: she cries. Not quietly. Not stoically. But wracking, aching sobs that leave her breathless, arms tight around his neck.
The awkwardness is mutual. As she rests her head against his shoulder, Jacsen reaches blindly to take her hand only to be greeted by her clinging to him and openly crying. Her tears melt away whatever walls remain, empathetic pain etched on his face as she sobs. His arms wrap around her tightly and pull her even closer, slowly rocking her back and forth with his face buried in her hair, his lips pressing a kiss to her temple.
"I'm sorry," Anais sobs against him, shoulders shaking. "I didn't- I only- I just wanted-" But stringing the words together isn't working at the moment, and so she just cries a little longer, pressed tight against him. It's a few long moments before she can pull herself together enough to draw a proper breath, and even then she's still holding tight to him, sniffling. "It wasn't supposed to be like this, Jacsen. You were supposed to love me. Everyone loves me, Jacsen. I'm- I'm funny, and I'm charming, and I'm pretty, and I'm a good person. I'm smart, and I'm good at this, I am. But it seems like everything I touch here just…just turns to ash. I can't even- You don't even want me. I'm not even supposed to have to /do/ anything for that and I've messed it up."
"Shhhh," Jacsen whispers as she tries to speak and fails. He just keeps rocking her, cradling her against him, until she's gotten her words back again. "You are all those things," he reassures in a quiet voice, continuing to hold her tightly. "And I do want you. How can you say that I don't, after - I mean, up on the roof, in the storm." Of course his mind automatically translates 'want' into 'sex'. "You're my wife. And you know I… care for you. I want to see you succeed, I want to see us succeed." His hand moves from her cheek to her hair, slowly smoothing it back over her ear. "There's no damage done that can't be repaired. Not between us and not between the family."
"I'm sorry, Jacsen. I am. I said those terrible things, and I didn't- I don't- I was just so angry, and I felt like there wasn't anything I could do, and I just lashed out. I'm sorry." Anais sniffles again, letting out a few more soft sobs. "There's nothing wrong with you, Jacsen, I promise. I'm sorry I said those things. I'd never- I wouldn't. All I want is for you to love me." She tries to wipe at her face with the end of her sleeve, shifting to look up at him with watery eyes, all the more blue for it, her lashes spiky with tears. Dammit, she even cries pretty. "I can't lose you, Jacsen. I'll do anything to stop that."
"It's - " Jacsen can't quite bring himself to say it without hesitating, the wounds of it still too fresh. It stings him to remember, the memory of how she struck his pride. " - okay. And I'm - I didn't mean those things I said. You hurt me too." And that hurt still shows in his eyes as he looks into hers, a thumb coming up to wipe away at its teary edge. "The way you looked, like you couldn't wait, like all you wanted was to leave me limping in the dust while you…" He swallows those thoughts down. "Tell me again. Just tell me again that you didn't mean it, that you didn't and you wouldn't - not with anyone, not for any reason." So he does want her to be his and only his, not just proper for public image.
"Only you. Only /ever/ you." The words are fierce, and Anais follows them with a kiss that's every bit as fierce as the words, leaning her brow against his after. "I told you I'd die before I let the Ironborn touch me, Jacsen, and I meant that. Only you." She pulls back only enough to meet his gaze, her own hopeful. "Only you."
Jacsen returns the kiss with even more fervor, the arm still around her waist clutching her close as their lips meet. His. Only his. "Then you'll have me till the end of my days, and I will stand with you to yours," he says, resting his head against hers. If she only knew that he'd spoken of setting her aside just a few days ago. Granted, he was drugged out of his mind, but still.
Anais lets out a heavy sigh of relief, curling up against him. "Then we'll make this work," she says simply. "You and I." And Anais isn't the only one who looks relieved. That safe distance away, both Derek and Nina look less like they're on their way to war. They'll give the couple their space, and then approach when there's just enough time to meet the baggage train to Seagard.
Jacsen thinks about something for a long moment, continuing to stroke her hair idly with her curled up against him. "Ride with me," he says out of the blue, interrupting a comfortable silence of wind and waves. "Just until we're clear of the Roost." Before a bunch of other people see them and wonder why they're riding on the same horse. "If you want."
Anais' smile breaks like the sun through the clouds at his request, and he's rewarded with another kiss that, without the guards and maid nearby, could seriously delay their departure. "More than anything," she murmurs after, reluctantly drawing away from him long enough to make room for him to stand on his own. She even waits patiently in the sand.
The kiss catches Jacsen completely off-guard and almost sends him flopping back into the sand before he catches himself. All traces of daggers and flames are gone from his eyes when she pulls back, as though they were never there, as though the past four days never happened at all, replaced instead with a look akin to wonder. Mixed with desire. "Let's go then," he says, clearing his throat. He grabs his cane, starts to push himself up… then holds up a hand for her to help.
Apparently it's all the smallest gestures, because that hand earns another shining smile as she takes it to help him rise. And half-stumbles all the way back to the horses, distracted as she is by showering him with kisses.