(1866-09-05) Into Pacitta
Into Pacitta
Summary: After taking the long way, Jonathan and Lorelei finally arrive in Pacitta a bit early in preparation for the Tournament events being held there in the near future. OOC Warning: Mature content below. Potential assault triggers.
Date: Septembre 5 1866
Related: One in which Lorelei fulfills her promise to Esyld, first brought up in Awful Serious.
Jonathan  Lorelei  

An Inn in Pacitta
In Set.
Septembre 5 1866

Pacitta. It's been a long time since Jon has been here, and their arrival has been long-awaited. The place doesn't disappoint.

A year ago, the port city was hit hard by the largest Brodlund raid in generations, and the effects still show. Some parts of town, yes, are still a bit dilapidated, the repairs not yet done. Most, however, have been rebuilt, and the buildings are at least as impressive as they ever were.

It's a loud, bustling city, the sort of place where one can't walk three feet without banging into a merchant or tripping over some lass selling oysters. The sights, sounds and smells of commerce are everywhere, accompanied by the rushing of the water that's literally yards beneath one's feet. Crowds ebb and surge, pedestrians jostle and push past one another, and shouts pierce the air with regularity.

Jonathan t'Maren isn't used to this, not at all, and on arrival, he looks almost… overwhelmed. Bewildered, at the least. Having left the horses tied up at a stable outside the gates, he takes his traveling companion and pushes through the city with purpose, searching for one place in particular. Fortunately, it won't be hard to find.

You know what they say about taking the girl out of the country…but to Lorelei's credit, she doesn't look quite so overwhelmed as Jonathan does. Even if this is the first time she's been anywhere bigger than Highwater Castle, the archer doesn't show it. Her midnight eyes dance around, taking note of this merchant and that girl with the cart, of this side street and that canal. It's not hard to avoid the water, nor is it hard to avoid the throng; rather, to navigate the meaner streets of Pacitta, it looks as though one needs to emulate the water it's built on and go with the flow.

Initially she'd insisted upon taking the horses with them because who knows what could happen? But now that she's here in the middle of it, people pressing in on her from all sides, she sees Jon was the wiser. She makes a note to mention it to him as she kicks a pigeon accidentally, her eyes still on buildings and people rather than where she's going. Somehow another person had gotten between her and her lead and so, until she catches up with him, her eyes stay fixed to the back of his head. Once the interloper makes a left while Jon keeps straight on going, she hesitates before leaning forward, grabbing the back of his sleeve, and taking a rather large step to compensate the difference. Even with the tourney, they're nearly equals here - or so legend would have her believe - so it's with little pretense and no inhibitions that she allows her slender fingers to slide around to the inner part of his arm and, as she's still walking, trace their way down to interlock with his.

It's strange, really, that Jon is so much more overwhelmed than Lorelei. He's been here at least once before, after all, and not all that long ago at that. Still, here in Pacitta, he seems… out of his element, perhaps, though that term doesn't quite do justice to the look on his face.

Lore might have some grace, but Jonathan is pure power as he moves through the streets, trusting that people will duck out of his way and nearly barreling through them if they don't. It's not the most efficient way to move forward, perhaps, but it's effective. He hesitates only slightly when he notices that Lorelei is a ways behind him, then redoubles his pace when she takes his arm and interlocks fingers with his own. The touch has somewhat of a calming effect, if the look in his eye is to be believed. If he's worried about being seen with a commoner, well, this is Pacitta. Nobility means quite a bit less here, although 'less' is not the same as 'nothing.'

By and by they arrive at their destination, which seems to be their home-away-from-home here in the city. It's a large, well-staffed inn, likely not the best in the city - the t'Marens aren't exactly made of money, after all - but a good one, the sort befitting the heir to Bloodfield. And they're likely expecting him at that.

She can't help but laugh - maybe that'll put him more at ease still? Lorelei sees they've found their destination and, as appears to be their wont, they stop in front of the inn like it's no big deal. Biting her bottom lip she comes level with him as they stand in front, turning to look at him in profile. Strong jaw and straight nose stand out in sharp relief from beneath his mop of messy hair that, after all this, endears him to her even more. Grinning as one funny thought compounds on another, she exhales through her nose and leans in so he'll hear her the first time she speaks, even in this din.

"Tell me - are we at liberty to afford a room with enough beds for the whole party this time?" Sarcasm seems to suit her well - the glimmer in her eyes is alluring, if nothing else - and with her point made she quiets down, squeezing his hand with hers. Who is this woman, and where did the Tawny Wolf run off to?

Perhaps it will. At the very least, Jonathan is content to stand with her for a few long moments, and though he doesn't turn to face her just yet, he can feel her eyes on his form. It has an almost intoxicating effect on the man, and when she squeezes his hand, he returns the gesture with vigor. Finally, he leans in to reply in kind, his voice a low whisper that's sure not to be heard in all the racket.

"Mmm. There will be enough bed to suffice for the entire party." It's quite pointedly singular.

And so he leads her by the hand up to the innkeeper's desk, and a fistful of coins are dropped on the counter. Enough to pay for a rather nice room in a rather nice establishment. Eyes meet hers for a long moment before he leads her upstairs, and again, there's that mischievous glimmer.

When he leans in to whisper, maybe he'll also feel her shiver. It starts at the back of her neck and spreads like wildfire through her shoulders and down her arms and back, even standing here in a city farther south than Lonnaire in long sleeves and pants in the midday sun. She's certainly not cold, and his looks are repayed in kind with eye contact and speechlessness.

It is what he likes about her, isn't it? She's not about to go too far out of her shell out here in public, anyway.

Thankful there's no common room for ruffians to threaten the likes of her (armed or not), Lorelei follows Jon up the stairs, bags slung over her shoulder as usual and boots thudding, seemingly loudly in the relative quiet of the inn, as they ascend. They brush past a maid coming from a room that's now empty, and a few other, singular people coming from their rooms to head downstairs to the bustling streets without. They are the fish upstream here, walking in the direction everyone else isn't.

There are many things he likes about her. Her quiet, concealed nature is one. The way she responds to him is certainly another.

His grip on her hand tightens a little more, and that's the tail end of a shiver that started at the base of his spine and worked its way up, then down his arm. Meeting his eyes after such a distinctly un-subtle advance is response enough, and when he turns to lead her upstairs, it's with renewed purpose.

Pushing against the stream without a care for the people passing by, Jonathan makes his way up to their room and unceremoniously pushes the door open. It's a big space, much larger than any of the roadside inns they've stayed at, with all the accompanying amenities. The bed is big, broad and richly upholstered, the whole room is fantastically well-lit, and instead of a washbasin, there's a full-size bathtub - one that, as an aside, has already been filled. Perhaps the knight somehow sent word ahead of their arrival.

When's the last time Lore had a bath? The tub is what first catches her eye as Jon pushes the door open, not the fact that he manhandles that poor door or that the bed is huge and plush and will likely be like falling asleep in a cloud later. Instead, dark eyes are locked on the filled tub, the steam rising into the air from the water, and the fluffy towels on the chair beside it. Her grip on his hand loosens and she allows hers to fall to her side, the other reaching up to grab at the bag slung over that shoulder.

"Jon," she begins, looking at him gratefully. She doesn't finish for a few, very long moments until her words seem to finally find her again. "May I?" She cants her head toward the water, inquiring.

He did have at least an inkling that that would impress her. Jonathan's own bags are slung to the floor in a hurry a ways away from the door, and he pulls it closed behind them, watching her as she watches the bath. She'll likely feel his eyes on her, even before she turns to meet them, and when she does look at him directly, he gives a little half-smile, his shoulders dropping and his whole body relaxing rather notably.

"Please," he replies, taking a half-step toward her and leaning in to speak into her ear, just above a whisper. "And I hope you will permit me to join you."

Well, don't mind if I do.

Can he feel her heartbeat quicken when he closes the door and approaches her? Certainly he must have an idea what being alone has come to mean for her. He's notably relaxed, so likewise he must have noticed that her guard's come down, too. Those uptight shoulders of hers are, while still tense, not quite so elevated and her back, though still straight, isn't rigid.

He gets no verbal response, but he will have some interaction from her: reaching both hands back behind her, sleeves falling to her elbows as she goes, she pulls her voluminous hair away from where her bow, quiver, and vest are all on her back. Her invitation to help her is clear now, especially with the look she casts over her shoulder.

Once he's aided her in disarming, she'll begin disrobing all on her own. She may be relaxing to a surprising degree with him here now, but there's still a bit of her she needs to keep to herself. Independently disrobing checks off that box, and when all her clothes are piled by her saddle bags, she pads barefoot to the tub, stopping at the edge to rest a hand on the lip.

Of course he feels the beating of her heart when he approaches her, and she'll almost certainly notice the same from him. Jonathan, too, is the sort to be fond of being alone - well and truly alone. It's rather impressive that Lorelei has reached the point where he is at least as comfortable with her as he is by himself.

When she invites him to assist, he does so, of course, strong, dexterous hands reaching out to unfasten the bow, the quiver, and the vest, piling them neatly on the ground. His smile widens a little as she glances back to look at him, and of course, he's not too proud to watch her undress as soon as he's finished his contribution to the work. Eyes stay fixed on her naked form as she approaches the tub.

Idly, not taking his gaze off her at any point, he starts to remove his own clothing, slipping off his shoes first, pants, shirt, undergarments. With nothing but skin and scars from head to toe, he watches her wander over toward the bath, keeping his spot by the door for the moment. Doubtless that won't last long.

Not long, perhaps, but not short, either. "You first?" she asks, voice projected at the water as she gazes down at it before turning fully to face him. It might be unclear what precisely she means until the hand not on the tub rises slightly, coming to rest on her outer thigh and strokes once, twice, three times over those silvery scars that she didn't want to talk about before. "Or me?" Her eyes are on his face, now, seeking his, not looking away and purposeful. It's not necessarily a trick, really, but you know Lorelei: cut to the chase, eliminate all unnecessary fat.

Not like she has any to speak of, but that's besides the point.

Hopefully she isn't a Debbie Downer, here, but she's clearly wasting no time. "We're in Pacitta." Obvious archer is obvious. Has it killed the mood? Given her boldness, it appears she's ready to talk about it now, and she dips her tub-hand into the water, fingertips first. It feels good, and her eyelids flutter.

Well, if she wishes. Jonathan nods and walks slowly over toward the tub, giving her the opportunity to admire as much of his body as she wishes - and knowing full well that her eyes are going to fall on that scar, not on the parts of him that he might, perhaps, want her to admire more. Regardless, she's right. They're in Pacitta. A deal is a deal. "I can," he replies, bluntly, coming to a stop at the edge of the tub. A hand reaches down to test the water, and he closes his eyes for a moment. When they open again, they sweep over to rest on her only.

Nodding again, he steps into the tub, though he doesn't slide all the way in yet, just sitting on the edge and letting his feet soak in the water. "Yes. This scar, I acquired in Pacitta." His voice grows soft, almost detached, as though he's not quite there as he speaks. "During the Great Raid, a year ago. I had the misfortune of facing a berzerker alone." The tip of one finger slides down to just trace over the outline of the scar, from one end to the other. "His axe struck me there."


And he's here in a rented room about to enter a tub with his lover a year later?

Lorelei's eyes bulge wide as she listens, the absurdity of their situation now dawning on her as she lets her gaze drift from that scar as he traces it up to his face again. "And you lived." That point, it seems in her mind, deserves to be driven home and she hopes to reattach him to the here and now even as he's floating away into horrific nostalgia. The gravity of what he's said sinks in, and her pale, exposed flesh dimples with goosebumps as she shivers.

"It's no wonder you won in Lonnaire," she reasons, trying to piece it all together. She still hasn't touched him, and she wonders now if she should, clearly hesitating but undecided.

She's taken by the gravity of the revelation, but she doesn't know the half of it. Not yet.

"I did. But…" Jonathan's eyes slide closed for a moment, and his breathing goes shallow. It's difficult for him to speak, or even to concentrate. Almost instinctively, he reaches out to her, grabbing at her hand. It's not a subtle gesture at all - he needs to touch her, needs to feel something, at any cost.

"There was a board in the floor. The berserker's foot landed on it as he struck me. It broke. Lost his footing. Left him vulnerable." Slowly, as though he has to will it to happen, his eyes open again, and when he gazes back at her, his voice drops to a whisper. "Dozens of men died in that house. I would have, too, but for luck."

And that, it seems, is the end of the story. There's no move toward her scars, though it's less that he doesn't want to hear the tale and more that he's too overwhelmed by his own.

A floorboard. Someone's contractor made an error and here he is, alive. "He'd have sliced…" you in half is where she was going, but she stops when he grabs for her, taking his hand in both of hers, and stepping (well, plopping, really) into the tub. Footing secure, she tugs on his hand, pulling him in. Come. Relax.

She allows probably five full minutes of silence, punctuated only by the movement of her body in the water, to elapse before speaking again. She's busied herself with cupping her hands and dipping them into the water to wash him, head to toe, her hair only wet from her shoulders down and sticking to her back as she leans up and over to get water to him. "Mine aren't from as harrowing a story," she confides, her voice cracking from the silence. She waits for permission to continue, water still sloshing in her hands.

Essentially that. "Yes." Perhaps he'd have more to say - most likely not, though - but it's all moot when she pulls him into the tub with her, and between her embrace and the heat of the water now covering his body, the tension seems to melt off his form. There's still a haunted look in his eye, but it's diminished, now. Bearable. And there's no mistaking the gratitude on his face as he looks back at her.

Silently he lets her wash him, though somewhere in the back of his mind he's amused that the one who was so excited to take a bath is going to be the last to be bathed. Eventually, he reaches out to run his hands over her body, beginning to wash her as she's washed him, encouraging her to dip a little deeper into the water. When her voice cracks through the silent air, he stays quiet, meeting her eyes.

Then his hands wander down her body to trace across the scars on her thighs, and his eyes silently ask, Go on.

Hot water, and yet she shivers again. It's not the kind of shiver she experienced out on the street, even with his bare hands on her naked thighs. Gulping, she looks down at where her knees are poking out of the water. "My father died young," she deadpans, clearly not interested in elaborating. Swallowing again, she sighs heavily, shoulders rock solid and jaw set. "I needed money. The family who raised me had none." Is two and two equaling four? Maybe.

Venturing a quick look at his face, she looks back down, cheeks pink. It's totally from the bath, right? "The first few were gentle enough. Paid extra. I was young." That clearly fetches a higher price, in her mind. It's almost like it's a detail not even worth mentioning, but it tumbles out with the rest of her story as she elaborates. "Near the end of that year, there was a tavern." Much like the one they met up with Corvin and Esyld in, turns out. Not the exact one, but you get the idea. "He was very drunk."

Has he noticed that she's stopped touching him? Hands balled into fists, she wraps her arms around under her knees and pulls them closer to her chest. "'Too tight,' he said." And here she pauses for a long moment, composing herself. The next few words are whispered to the water, her forehead resting on her knees. "Needed Moon Tea." Another pause. Another swallow. "Your sister and I met a week later."

She shivers again, against her better judgment. A tool and nothing more, no?

Jonathan is silent as her story begins, and he keeps his quiet all the way through to the end. That doesn't mean he doesn't react, however. His eyes are fixed on hers, even when she casts them down, and his hands rest on her shoulders, as tense as they are.

The bit about her father doesn't seem to shock him. The rest, however…

Well, shock would be the wrong word, but certainly it gives Jonathan pause. Yes, he notices that she's stopped touching him, sinking into herself as she bares some of her darkest secrets to him. He almost pulls his hand away, but thinks better of it - indeed, it perhaps occurs to him that to recoil from her now would be a very bad idea, the sort of gesture that would reopen the very wounds she is, perhaps, trying to heal.

There are no words from Jonathan, not yet. When she finishes her story, he keeps his silence for a long moment, touching her gently. A little nod. So that is why she is so attached to his sister.

Then he gathers her up in his arms, sinking a little deeper under the water as he pulls her close to his body, his lips pressing a little kiss into her forehead.

Perhaps, a month ago, Jonathan t'Maren would have reacted entirely differently to this news. But now, in a bath with his lover? What else could he do?

What else indeed? Well, clearly Lorelei doesn't know, because when he wraps his arms around her she jumps a little, shocked at the contact, and when he pulls her close, she's shaking. When he kisses her forehead, whatever little door was still locked to him crumbles and the floodgates open. The arm not pinned against his chest wraps around it and, burying her face against him, she weeps. It's quiet and controlled at first, like she typically is at all times, but the longer she cries the louder and less controlled she becomes. It's good they're in the tub, otherwise she might be making a puddle for herself here, her tears and the bathwater both making her hair stick to her face.

And now, what else is there for Jon to do but hold her? He may not be entirely comfortable as she weeps against his chest, but still he pulls her closer, his hands running up and down her body to gently wash her, fingers brushing across her face to keep the hair out of her eyes. His heartbeat, once racing, slows down to a steady pace, and he pulls her closer and closer, the better to lean against him, to put her weight on him in more than one sense of the term.

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