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Interlude in Sea Minor

 
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Claire Gallows
Eternal Light
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 21 Feb 2013
Posts: 1145
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Jobs: City Guard, Sword for Hire
Can Be Found: The Sassy Owl Saloon or Underwood Manor in New Haven
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:47 pm    Post subject: Interlude in Sea Minor Reply with quote

Four hours north of the city, the height of spring was filling Icarus Cove and its outlying properties with tentative warmth. Rose Cottage had sat empty for most of the winter, shut up tight against the gales and greys of the off season. Now, the first hints of sprouting sea grass was poking its way through the sandy dunes of the shore, stretching high for the clear sky. Though she had been given the option, Claire hadn’t sent someone ahead of them to prep the beach bungalow. So while the twins played, she and Cooper had spent the late morning opening the place up, unpacking bags, dusting, and restocking the cabinets. They only planned on being there for two weeks, just until Beltane, but the prep work would come in handy should they come back later in the season.

“Alex! Give your sister her shovel back!” Claire called before a scuffle could break out over the orange plastic shovel that Averia had been using to dig a hole in the sand. Begrudgingly, the platinum wonder gave it up and instead took the matching bucket to put it on his head before marching circles around his dark haired sister. Their mother shook her head and went back to sweeping the deck when suddenly her phone rang. It was still inside so she propped the broom against the clapboard siding of the cottage and hurried in to find it before it kicked over to voicemail. Snatching it up from the coffee table, she punched the talk button without looking at the caller ID. “This is Claire.”

“Lady Light? This is Commander Leonis.” It was a voice she hadn’t heard in a year, not since he had called to tell her that her husband was dead. Stepping back out onto the deck, she froze, her mouth dry and her heart pounding.

“Cor… hi…,” she began cautiously, swallowing hard to try and remedy the lump in her throat. “Um… how’re you?”

“Well enough, all things considered. Yourself? How’re the children?” He sounded tired. It made Claire wonder where he was.

“I’m… cautiously optimistic about things… they’re doing well. Not to, um, cut short the pleasantries, but it’s been quite some time since I heard from you… is everything okay? Is the King still…” She trailed off, unable to finish the sentence. Alexander climbed up onto the porch with a hermit crab pinched between his fingers. He grinned ear to ear as he showed his mother. “That’s beautiful, baby. Let’s go put him back in the sand.”

“No, no, Mama. Avy frowed him. He owie.” The toddler told her, holding the crab up toward her.

“Maybe if you make him a castle he’ll feel better,” she suggested. This seemed to sate the little boy who went leaping off the deck into the sand again, protectively holding the hermit crab in one hand while he dug with the other. Claire adjusted her phone against her ear. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s no trouble. They’re talking now?” Cor asked.

“Here and there. Averia’s quiet, Alex does most of the talking.” It worried her that he wasn’t answering her question but she didn’t press again. Maybe she could wait him out instead.

“Ah, well then.” He too trailed off into silence. They sat like that for what felt like an eternity, only the steady crackle of interference letting her know the call was still connected.

“Leonis, the last time you called me it was to tell me that Noct was dead. If you’re bearing bad news once more then get it out.” She finally said.

“Actually.” There was a shuffle on the other end. “I was just connecting to you while I waited for… here you are, Your Majesty.” More shuffling followed, a phone handed off from one person to another. Claire’s breath hitched in her chest.

“Lightning?” Regis’s world weathered voice asked after the shuffling settled.

“My King… it’s you. I thought maybe… something had happened…”

“Commander, next time I ask you to ready the phone for me, could you please do so without giving her a heart attack?” Slightly quieter, Regis’ admonishment was met with a curt answer that Claire couldn’t make out. At some point she had slumped into a chair on the deck, slouching forward to put her elbows to her knees as she waited for Regis to speak to her again. It came a moment later. “It has been some time, I apologize. We’ve been on the move but at last we’ve found a safe refuge. Are you well?”

“I… y-yeah. You? Everyone there? I’ve barely heard a thing since…”

“Ah, yes. We’re… we’re getting by. I think at last dawn is breaking and the worst has passed. How are the babies?”

“They’re so big… you wouldn’t believe it.”

“I’d believe it. They’re tenacious little ones. Hopefully we’ve not caught you at a bad time…”

“Oh, no. No, you haven’t. We’re, um, at the beach house for a few weeks. Just getting settled in…”

“I’m glad you’re taking time away from the city. They’re not too big of handfuls for you, assuredly?”

“They can be, but I have help… Cooper’s here with me.”

“Their male nanny, yes?”

“Actually… um. He’s a bit more than that now.”

“Oh? Do tell?”

“This is, well, it feels strange to say. At the very least to you, but you’re the closest thing I’ve had to a father in a very long time. But… we’re seeing each other.”

Silence fell beneath the crackling connection. Claire’s knee bounced, jarring her arm with every bob as she counted out the seconds between her declaration and Regis’s answer.

“I see… It’s… it’s been some time, hasn’t it?”

“It has… over a year now and he’s been beside me every step of the way.”

“I suppose I can’t necessarily fault you…”

“Please, Your Highness… I love your son, I loved him with everything I had and I will always. Please don’t question that. But Cooper is here now and he loves me, he loves the kids, he respects where we came from, how we got to where we are.”

“Light. You needn’t justify yourself. Not to me, not to anyone. You are happy?”

“I am. I didn’t think it possible ever again, but I am.”

“When I lost Aulea, I felt much the same. Moving forward doesn’t necessarily mean moving on though. It’s possible to live while still carrying what you had before.”

“I know… and I do so every day. And we’re going to give the twins the family they need.”

“So it’s serious then?”

“It is… we’re… um, we’re expecting another addition to the family… and we intend to get married at some point after that. He loves the kids like they’re his own. He’d never try to replace Noct, but gods, Regis, he loves them.”

The exiled King went quiet once more. Down in the sand, Alex was placing his hermit crab friend atop a spire of his shoddily built sand castle. While he did so, Averia flung sand at him with her shovel. Claire got to her feet, unable to sit still any longer.

“And they are safe?” He asked quietly after a few moments. Claire nodded then realized he wouldn’t be able to hear the rocks rattling around in her skull.

“They are. Unbelievably so.”

“Just as well… the Empire has been dauntless in their pursuit. Assuredly they know that the children are not on Eos. It may be a matter of time before they seek them too.”

“I won’t let anything happen to them. I may be… limited in what I can do there but here… here I will tear them apart.”

“I don’t expect anything less. But it’s my hope that by staying one step ahead of them, they’ll continue to look for me before the children. That said… I’d like to further ensure their safety. This morning, Commander Leonis dispatched a pair of Glaives on assignment to your location. You can expect them within the next two weeks, barring any unforeseen complications. They carry with them something very important. You’ll understand when you receive it.”

“Regis.”

“I can’t say more. For as secure as this connection may be, we never know where the ears may be.”

“I… I understand.”

“I knew you would. I should go now. I promise it won’t be another eleven months before the next time we speak.”

“I’m holding you to that.”

“I know. Talk to you soon, Lightning. Give all of my love to the babies.”

“I wi--” Before she could finish, the line went dead. For a moment she sat there, her phone held tight in her grasp as the screen went dim with the ended call. She didn’t even register the sting of tears in her eyes until they were cutting their way down her cheeks. Before either twin could see her, she stood and turned away, right into a wall of a Gurahl on the threshold of the deck. Concern had written itself in the knit of his brows and pull of his mouth. All she could do was shrug and bury her face against him. His thick arms wrapped her up, a broad hand passing up and down her back in soothing strokes. Against him she mumbled, “it’s okay. I’m okay.”

For the first time in a long time, it wasn’t a lie.
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The legends all say different things
She's a cruel incarnation of death
A merciful angel of the afterlife
A deity without divine power
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Claire Gallows
Eternal Light
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 21 Feb 2013
Posts: 1145
See this user's pet
Jobs: City Guard, Sword for Hire
Can Be Found: The Sassy Owl Saloon or Underwood Manor in New Haven
273582.50 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

April 23rd, 2017

The twins were down after a long Sunday spent in Icarus Cove and on the beach. After a week at Rose Cottage, Claire was already feeling the benefits offered by her kinship with the sea and it was with easy relaxation that she settled on a lounge chair positioned on the beach house's deck with an unopened bottle of Broot in hand. A fresh beer had been left nearby for the cowboy while she kicked her feet up in anticipation of another coastal sunset. Their trip to the little fishing hamlet had left her pensive, but not in a bad way. It was the way she got when the cogs were turning, when plans were forming and grandiose things were building in her head. It had been sparked by a single comment offered by a simple vendor on the boardwalk.

What a beautiful family you have.

It was, beautiful that is. It wasn't what she had originally envisioned years ago patched and fused together as it was, but it was just as beautiful. Just as perfect. It was just... different. She wedged an arm beneath her head, propping herself up thoughtfully. Things change, not everything goes according to plan. But if there was something Claire did well, it was adapt on the fly. With that on her mind, she broke a pleasant string of companionable silence with a few words. "Have you thought of how things'll be after this one gets here?"

As casual as could be in lounge pants and a sleeveless t-shirt, Cooper slipped out onto the deck. The twins had gone down easy, with very little coaxing done to lull them off to sleep. Bare feet were silent on floorboards that inevitably creaked beneath the cowboy's weight, until he finally paused by Claire's chair. Thick fingers tangled into the mess of her hair, stroking gently. The question drew his attention from the setting sun, down to her and her swelling belly.

"They'll be good. They'll be bad. They'll be somewhere in the middle. S' kind'a how it seems t' go 'round this place. But we'll be together and that's what matters." The grip on pink locks made tipping her head back easy, allowing him to lean over a steal a kiss from her waiting mouth. "Y' got somethin' on yo' mind?"

At sixteen weeks, she wasn't nearly as big as she had been with the twins, but there were still noticeable differences for her between her first pregnancy and the second. This one didn't seem as draining so far, a blessing in and of itself. It left her though with plenty of time to think and ponder and postulate. Most of the time it was a good thing, or at least an okay thing. This time, she wasn't sure, but the touch of his mouth to hers was a welcome distraction for a few moments.

"We will be and it is what matters." A moment's pause, just a trio of beats. "The apartment's only a two bedroom... same with the guest house. Obviously for a few months it won’t be an issue... but, I was thinking. And I'm not sure... I'm not sure if I can live in the manor itself... Is that stupid?"

"Scoot," he murmured quietly and then urged her forward. Carefully, the big man eased in behind her before tugging her back to play the part of body pillow. His hands started at her hips and then crept around her torso slowly.

"The baby'll probably spend some months in a crib in our room anyway, but you're right. After a while, it'll get cramped." Cooper was silent for a few long moments after that, considering something before he began speaking again. "S' not stupid if'n that's how it feels. The body memories make the bad ones mo' painful. S' also an awful lot'a house fo' you. Never seemed like yo' style. But I see what you're gettin' at. We should start considerin' a new place t' live. Am I right?"

She scooted with an awkward little wiggle and huff until he could slip in behind her. Once he had, she waited for him to get comfortable before she leaned back against him. He was a welcome sort of safety though, more than worth the temporary displacement.

"Serah and I spent a really long time with just enough. Just enough food, just enough money, just enough space for the two of us, and even once I got promoted with the Corps and started making more, we barely upgraded." Her hands twisted the cap of the Broot off and set it on his leg. "It made him happy... but it was his dream and I can't keep living in that. So... yeah. Maybe split the property, keep the little guest house for an out of the city retreat... sell the rest and get something smaller in town? Maybe?"

"In town," Cooper intoned the words quietly. It wasn't a notion he was entirely sold on, but there were certain factors that had to be considered. Right now, the city was a central point for their life outside of each other. It didn't thrill him, but in its own way it was still home. "We can do that.Y' look into anything yet?"

"No," she said with a shake of her head. "I was just thinking that maybe if we could get the gym... I dunno, transported or moved or rebuilt, I don't know, closer to the city, it'd be better for the guys and the team. Then being closer to the city would make dealing with team stuff easier... easier to handle DGO stuff... easier to manage stuff with the Owl and Hangman. There's the apartment over the Owl but there's no room to expand, you know? And three kids under three, a loft over a bar's no place for them... they need a yard and space to be crazy. You know, like Raven's got for Adelaide."

"It'll take some time, movin' the gym and gettin' that stuff worked out, but it makes sense. You've obviously put a lot'a thought into this befo' bringin' it up." Big hands smoothed gently over her stomach, rubbing lightly. His face was buried against her jaw. "S' all a smart move as things currently stand. Where y' wanna go lookin'?"

"Peanut's got the hiccups, dunno if you can feel it." Claire set a hand over his to move it over to where she could feel the flutters. She bobbed her head a few times, rubbing her cheek against him. "I started thinking about it after my accident. The trip between there and the city... honestly I'm surprised something hadn't happened before. But add everything else in and it just... kind of made sense, you know? I don't really want anything smack dab in the middle... the city gets crazy... but maybe on the edge? North side of town maybe?"

A crooked smile spread across his mouth when she redirected his hand, his palm warm against bare skin and soaking up the moment. The rub of her cheek was worth a nuzzle and nip to her neck, before he was nodding along with her logic. "Somethin' close to a park or some woods. A place with fresh earth. We could do that. New Haven, maybe?"

She kept her hand over his until the movement settled, her fingers relaxing in their press to instead lightly graze over the back of his hand. "Battlefield Park or the north sides of New Haven or Seaside aren't a bad thought, I'm thinking. New Haven you can sorta get the lake vibe on the water there, it wouldn't be too different from the manor now."

"How big?" His fingers laced with hers, trapping her hand there. “At least three bedrooms. You want a guest room fo' anyone? Home gym room?"

"Four bedrooms maybe? Three and a guest? If it's got a basement I can make that work for a home gym slash office space for things." She said thoughtfully. "Wouldn't mind a high fence, keep snoops away." It made her think of the gated homes of New Haven that she often passed when she had lived in a tiny two bedroom apartment in the district. The thought prompted a wistful smile, reminiscent and sad rolled into one.

"If'n we can’t find one with a high fence, I'll build us one. S' not that hard and I'd rather not have anyone peekin' over the fence at us anyway." Sensing the bittersweet nostalgia, he pressed a kiss to the side of her neck. "Somethin' with strong walls."

"Yeah," she said with a nod of agreement that found her tilting her head aside to accommodate the sweetness of his kiss. "And a big yard. Say..." She paused, she look over her shoulder at him. "What about room to grow?"

"Slugger," he mumbled. "If'n it's possible, plan on spendin' the next twenty years pregnant." Did she see that grin? Cooper was serious.

That had her laughing, though not too loud since the bungalow's windows were all open for the sake of soaking up the cool sea air. "That is a reeeeeeally long time to be waddlin' around. So... maybe an extra bedroom or two isn't a bad idea..."

"We'll get a place in New Haven." He nodded and grinned into her jaw. "It'll be a good stop gap fo' now. Eventually we'll do better. Everything'll be better." It was possible he had plans of his own.

"New Haven's where I first lived when I came here..." She said as though she certainly wouldn't mind going back. "It's no rush on it, plenty of time. Dubream will be champing at the bit to do something with the manor... it oughta go high, he said. Should give us some good liquid assets to work with for it after that." Claire tipped her head back against him. "Thank you." For what, she didn't say.

"I lived in New Haven fo' a short bit," he confessed. "Back when I used t' work fo' Malirecci Auto and then the Blue Hour Club. S' a decent place. We'll make it work. Could always, well... you could always turn the manor over to the DGO. Give the organization a place outside the city fo' troubled youth."

"I thought about it." She admitted, storing away his little tidbits for long term keeping. The man had a rich and extensive past, one he didn't always speak much of, so when he did, she committed every little bit she could to memory. "But every time I look at it, I want to burn it to the ground. Besides," she paused to rub a hand over her face, "the upkeep on the place... I don't know if the foundation can afford it. With the youth center... we're just breaking even on donations."

He gave a slow nod at that. "Then sell it off."

Wriggling in her seat, she turned to one side to lay her ear against his chest, just over his heart. Two fingers against his leg tapped out the slow, steady rhythm. "Okay. Maybe I'll work on that after Beltane... for now I'm not gonna worry about it. Thank you for bein' my partner in this, you keep me sane."

"Fo' now, let's just enjoy things here. Have some fun with the kids and go sneak down to the inlet t' relive yo' birthday celebration last year. Y' like the sound'a that?" His hand rose to comb fingers through her hair.

"Mmh, more than like it." She hummed a pleased note and leaned into the rake of his fingers. "It'll be good. All of it."



[[Thank you to Cooper for cowriting this with me <3]]
_________________
The legends all say different things
She's a cruel incarnation of death
A merciful angel of the afterlife
A deity without divine power
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