|You Hurt Me|
|Summary:||Anais and Jacsen take a step in the right direction toward reconciliation.|
|Related Logs:||Immediately following Percentages and Happiness|
|Reading Room - Four Eagles Tower|
|The room has a large glass window and seat that looks out partially over the cove, in daylight hours the sun provides illumination to the room. Other stools and chairs linger in small groups as shelves along the walls are littered with scrolls, books, letters and documents. The contents are a modest collection of local records, histories, and literature offered to both the family and guests of Four Eagles Tower.|
|Fri Jun 15, 289|
Once Rutger has departed, Anais lets her smile disappear. Without saying anything, she reaches out to close the ledger book once more, then starts to rise from her chair.
Jacsen smiles to match Rutger's grin. "Of course," he says with a nod. He may not be entirely convinced. "We shall see you again soon, Ser Rutger. Safe travels." Once he's gone, he finally leans forward with a wince, the wineglass quickly set down to free up his hand for pressing down on his thigh. The pain is back, even though he took his dosage at the usual time. He, too, rises, clutching his cane. "You're a good liar, Anais," he observes blandly, heading for the door.
Anais sets the ledger down at the desk, settling in again herself. "I'm good at a number of things," she murmurs, starting to transfer figures from the journal to the ledger again. Pausing to sharpen the quill, she glances up at his back. "It's a pity you're not interested in any of them."
"I'm sure you are," Jacsen replies, halfway to the door. So close and yet so far. "And you seem not to know much of what I'm interested in." Almost there… almost there. "But that's no matter now, is it." He pauses at the door. "I hope you had a good laugh last night." Good fun, picking on the cripple.
"Not so much laughter, really," Anais murmurs, a flicker of something crossing her features before she schools it away. "I stubbed my toe on the chair this morning." Caught in her own web! There's a pause, and she stills. "Jacsen?" Maybe she's a good liar, or maybe she really doesn't want him to walk away just yet. "What /are/ you interested in?"
Nothing from Jacsen on that, not even a snort. The question goes unanswered for a long time, though it keeping him there was her purpose, it worked. "You needn't concern yourself on my account," he says in a tired voice. But he doesn't make to leave yet, even though he's clearly in growing pain, visible in the way he holds himself even with his back to her.
"Her?" Jacsen echoes, clearly confused by that. "Her who? Roslyn?" She's the latest 'her' that was anywhere near the discussion. "I don't know what you're talking about." Except the last part, he has a pretty clear idea what that's about. "I didn't think you were into women."
Anais arches a brow. "Is it Roslyn?" she asks. "Because that's going to put a whole new spin on these negotiations." She doesn't seem to believe that, though. "Whoever it is, Jacsen. Whoever it is that you prefer to spend your time with instead of me." At his last, she rolls her eyes slightly. "Is that what it takes? I'd feel better. I can hardly blame myself for just being one woman if it takes two before you're enjoying yourself."
"What are you talking about, Anais," Jacsen snaps in that same weary voice. "There is no whoever else. I told you there was never anything with Avinashi, if that's what you're going on about. I don't know what else you want from me." He shakes his head with a sigh. "I don't know what game you're trying to play now. I suppose you can't change the furniture about during daylight, so you've some new way to torment me until you can catch me off-guard. I can't outrun you, so do as you will." And he presses on.
"Sex!" And then Anais flushes bright red, and lowers her voice. "I'm trying to ask you what you like. Because whatever we're feeling about each other, I'm not going to stop having relations with my husband. I have a duty to the Roost to provide an heir, and I'll be damned if I'm going to stop. So I could wait until you come to bed and just take advantage of you, or I could ask you how you like it and we can do things your way." She pauses in front of him, looking pained. "I'm trying, Jacsen."
Well, that's as good an attention-grabber as any. Jacsen stops again, this time turning to face her. "Trying what, Anais?" he asks, his voice tense. "Trying to somehow serve the Roost and destroy me at the same time? Because that seems rather ill-advised to me." Giving her an inscrutable look, he shakes his head and starts limping away again. "I thought you were planning on choosing someone else for that," he says, using her words from their fight about the 'heir'. "Perhaps you'll even fool the rest."
"You hurt me." It's an accusation, yes. But it seems genuine, too. "Every time I try to get close to you, you push me away." Anais stops in front of the door, though she keeps her voice low. "When your mother died, I tried to be there for you, and you didn't want me. Yes, you came to Stonebridge after the bandits. But you wouldn't ride home with me. And when I woke up that night, you were gone. I tried to help you through the withdrawal, and all you wanted was more poppy. I try to keep you from drowning, and you're just embarrassed I'd try. So yes, I said something cruel. I wanted to hurt you back. It was stupid. But it can't actually surprise you, Jacsen. Even a dog will bite if you hit it enough."
"Push you away?" Jacsen echoes. "When my mother died, I was…" He shakes his head, not wanting to think back to that time. "At Stonebridge, I was still half-fevered and in pain. That night, I tried to find something, anything to quiet the pain. When the Maester took away the poppy…" He makes a face - does that even require explanation? "You swam out to 'save' me but Ser Kamron already had me, that was the plan from the beginning. But you came out in front of everyone. You say I hurt you, but you shamed me." He shakes his head again, more forcefully this time. "And then you - " He cuts himself off. She knows the rest.
"Then tell me what you want," Anais pleads. "I can't be what you want me to be if you don't tell me what you want." She starts to reach out, then clasps her hand tightly in her skirts instead, watching his features. "Just tell me what you want, Jacsen. Give me a chance to make you happy."
"I tried," Jacsen says through gritted teeth. "I said I wanted you to be the one I trusted, the one at my side through all this - " Negotiations and food shortages and everything, " - and this is what you gave me. This is what you left me with." So she did manage to hurt him, and maybe even more than she had planned. "And I had even started to think - " He catches himself and looks around the hallway. Just because he doesn't see anyone there doesn't mean nobody's listening around a corner. The rest is lost to an exasperated sigh.
"Fine. I'll go first." Anais steps forward, reaching out to set her hands against his chest. "I want to feel like you want me. I want you to stop worrying about what I think, or what I've done, or what it looks like, because I want you to be /sure/ that you are all the man I need. I want to feel safe in your arms. I want to feel like I can let go, or cry, or fall apart for five minutes because you are there, and you have this under control." She looks up, fingers curling in slightly, as though she's ready to pull back again if she has to.
Jacsen doesn't back away from her touch, though he's not exactly warmly receptive of it either. "You can't just… make those things happen," he says. "How do you expect me to believe that when you've… after what you've said and done?" Which part, treating him like a woman or telling him she was going to get someone else to impregnate her? "But I do want you. Did. I don't know you anymore." He frowns down at her. "I don't know what of you is a lie."
"You didn't know what of me was a lie before, either," Anais points out gently. "Or else you would have believed me when I told you I hadn't done anything with anyone else. And you'd have known I wasn't going to, either. You'd have known…" She steps back, letting her hands fall with a soft sigh. "You'd have known that I know you're a man, Jacsen. I just want you to show me sometimes. Because that's what /I/ like." She looks away then, making room for him to depart. "Go ahead."
Even though she makes way for him, Jacsen doesn't leave just yet. "No, but now I know that parts of you are," he says, the frown slowly melting away. "You'll have to convince me of those things." At least he sounds like he doesn't think she's lying - he just wants to be reassured. He sighs and just looks at her for a moment. "I jumped," he says, jumping back to the day before their big fight. "And for a moment, I thought - I forgot." About his leg, about the pain. "And I felt like a man. A whole man." Then there's a silence again, followed by a deep breath. And turns to go, because that seems to be the right thing to do at the moment.
"Maybe that's something to remember, then, Jacsen," Anais says quietly as he leaves. "Sometimes, if you want to feel whole, you have to be willing to take a risk. You have to jump." She waits for him to move down the hall, then turns to return to the reading room herself.