07.09.3013: Baby Crazy!
Summary: Rebecca leaves her daughter Sophia with Lionel and Jeremy.
Date: 9 July 2013
Related: None
Jeremy Lionel Rebecca 

Pale Horse Tavern, The Caravan
This tavern is famous. It is perhaps the only reason that the Pale Horse Caravan — being older and a bit outdated — has not yet been retired. It is nestled between a pawn shop and fresh foods market. It has a mottled wood facade with stone exterior wainscoting, and a simple round wooden sign hanging above the glass-inlay door. The only windows are those facing the Market Center, and the glass is obviously handmade — by a glazier apprentice no less — with visible imperfections and ripples. The interior of the tavern is all warm woods and deep reds which only makes the rearing white horse carved into the various wooden surfaces stand out more. The primary seating is along the long, corner bar with mismatched stools. There are booths that sit opposite of the bar, the red upholstry of the benches looking worn and threadbare. The proprietor of the Tavern is an ageless man named Sam Daniels who some joking believe has been around since the First System War. He maintains a menu of hearty foods that are all cooked over open fire stoves in the back kitchen. He favors local brews and distilleries, and he doesn't tolerate misbehavior in his house. Some refer to the Pale Horse as a bar for soldiers, horse herders, and other dirty jobs. In other words, this is not a high class establishment.
July 9, 3013

The great battle in the Vale is over, and people are trickling back to the Caravan, some broken, a few dead, but mostly without serious injury. Jeremy Keats may be a knight, but he wasn't present. Instead, he remained with the few Outriders protecting the Caravan, but with the rest of the Outriders returning, he has come into the Pale Horse, his crossbow and camouflaged jacket setting him apart more than a little from the Rovehni themselves. Still, Sam seems to know him, and has settled a plate of pot roast and a beer in front of him.

"A ROUND FOR THE RIDERS OF ROVEHN!" Comes a rather loud voice just as Lionel Keats, held up by two Outriders, comes limping into the Pale Horse. It is returned with a boisterous: "WOOWAH!" The Mane himself has been out on the battle, running down fleeing Hostiles and stomping out the would-be remainders of the enemy armies. By the exoskeleton cast on his right lower leg, it is quite obvious he had suffered a broken bone — the amount of pain killers coursing through his system is probably also a tell-tale sign. He sports a rather magnificent black eye as well. The pair of Outriders help him to the bar, promptly dropping him in a stool beside Jeremy and offering the Valen's husband the collapsible crutches. "He's all yours," one of them announces.

The tavern door slides open and a jubilant squeal of "HORSIE!" echoes through the space. It's followed by the appearance of Sergeant Rebecca Mordain in a soft, roan-colored leather tunic and breeches. With her is the owner of the shout, her little daughter, Sophia. The child is balanced on her mother's hip, red curls bouncing, as she points at all the horses carved on the surfaces. Like Jeremy, Rebecca was not in the main fray. She did some of the preliminary scouting, then was sent back to help protect the caravan should the battle go against the Valen. With the riders returned, she has come to have a meal and a round with them while spending time with the child who is just shy of a year old.

Jeremy looks over his shoulder at the call, a smile spreading across his lips. His eyebrows rise at the sight of the cast and the black eye, and he shakes his head, taking the crutches and shaking his head, "I should have bought the insurance." A soft sort of twang touches his words, the remnants of the backwoods Arborenin Woods. Jabbing his husband lightly with the padded end of the crutches, he demands, "What did you let them do to you?" The squeal distracts him, however, and a bit of smile touches his lips as he finger-waves at the little girl before looking back to Lionel.

Lionel sways uneasily on the stool, slinging his arm around Jeremy's shoulders to drag him to deposit a rather sloppy kiss on his cheek. Then he looks up just in time to see Bex and her lovely daughter make an appearance, and he throws out his other arm wide. "Bex! Doth shine like a red sun, my lady, fresh as a strawberry on a warm spring day." He slumps back against the bar, swatting at Jeremy at the poke and prod. "Oh, some monstrous monstrosity took a hammer to Charmer's leg." He immediately holds up a finger. "The horse… is fine, stubborn nag… but he collapsed on my own leg." He turns a bit toward Sam. "Barkeep! Fetch me a pint and shot of your shittie —" Then he spies Phia. "Poopiest whiskey!"

Sophia makes grabby hands at the man waving to her and giggles. At her name, Rebecca turns, and spies Jeremy and the more familiar form of Lionel. She heads their way, arching a brow at the sight of the black eye and the cast. "See Sophia, this is why scouts are better than Knights. We stay far away from the bad things and no one messes up our pretty faces." The child is busy trying to wriggle her way out of her mother's arms to get to Jeremy. "Also, we don't bother with spouting poetry." She grins. How was it out there?" she asks, a bit more grimly.

Jeremy rocks into Lionel's embrace, shaking his head and bracing both of them against the bar. His eyebrows rise up at the mention of the horse being hit, but he nods his head when it appears that Charmer is alright — or at least not further cybernetic. He looks over his shoulder, shaking his head to Sam and mouthing 'painkillers' as he paints to Lionel. And then there's a little kidlet, and he crosses his eyes, sticking out his tongue and wiggling it back and forth. "There's nothing that'll stop Lie from spouting poetry. Tilting his head from one side to the other, he raspberries at the little girl, laughing lightly.

"You wound me, Bex!" Lionel says, jabbing at his chest purposefully. "Right here… right here…" He sniffs. "After all those sonnets I wrote you." He shakes his head before his expression breaks into a wide smile. Then he watches as Jeremy starts to go googoo-gaga for Bex's baby. "Look, I bring you a babysitter." He then narrows a look at Sam. "Don't let him baby me, Sam… I'm a Knight of Rovehn." Because that apparently offsets the dangerous mix of painkillers and booze. He does look back to Bex. "You know, it wasn't all that bad. I think the Hostiles were hoping for reinforcements. The Vale is free of Hostiles." For now.

Sophia is utterly entertained by Jeremy clapping her hands before stuffing a few chubby fingers into her mouth and drooling on them. Rebecca looks at him and snorts with an amused smile. "Do you need a job? I need a nanny." She tips her chin at a chair at their table. "Can I join you? I need dinner and keeping Sophia amused in all this noise is a feat. She seems to like you, that gives me a chance to have a few mouthfuls before the wailing begins." Lionel's estimation of the battle has her nodding a bit. "I'll probably be out there the next few days making sure none of them slipped away."

Jeremy reaches out to take Sophia from Rebecca at her agreement, curling his legs up under his stool so that he can set her feet atop his knees. "Please do." He looks over to Lionel, smiling just a little, and putting in, "I'm Jeremy, by the way." And then he smiles at Sophia, "And who's this big girl? Huh? Who is she?" Bouncing his knees under Sophia's feet, he looks over to Lionel, "Eat something. I won't have you keeling over after you valiant Outriders freed the Vale?"

"Join us," Lionel insists, not that he needs to insist that hard. After all, Jeremy just kidnapped a baby. He turns a bit toward Sam, grasping a pair of menus as he glares at the bartender. He turns and offers one to Bex. "On us," he says before he pops open the menu. He glares a bit at his husband over the edge of the menu before he looks over toward Bex. "You let me know if you want some heavy cav company." With a broken leg. "I'll watch your back."

"This is Sophia, and she is very pleased to meet you, Jeremy," Rebecca speaks for her child. She leans in to add, in a mock-conspiratorial whisper, "The only word she knows is Horsie. Not even mama yet." She slides into a seat and takes the offered menu. "Pretty sure you couldn't keep up with me in the field, Lionel," she quips with a wry smile, and the sort of tone one uses with an old war buddy. "You're about as stealthy as a herd of buffalo even with both legs working." She hrms. "Lamb stew and biscuits tonight I think."

Jeremy lifts his eyebrows at Lionel, "So I guess you won't be coming back to the Spine on that gimpy leg of yours." And then he looks back to the little girl, "Well hello Sophia… how many years old are you?" Glancing to her mother, he returns side-long, "Horsie is a good first word. Almost as good as…" turning back to Sophia, he coos, "Jeremy. Can you say 'Jeremy'? How about 'Jere?'" Grinning over at both Lionel and Rebecca, he adds, "He's a lot less stealthy than that, by the way. I've taken him hunting."

Lionel whispers to Sophie. "You can call him 'horsie'." Then the Mane looks exasperated as he looks between Rebecca and Jeremy. "What's with everyone giving me shit about my ability to sneak around. Then he sulks over the menu, looking over it before he hands it off toward Sam. "My usual." Which would be pot roast — a favorite in the Keats house. He then crosses his arms at his chest, wincing slightly at the ache in his chest. And then he glances over toward Bex. "You'll be relieved from that… I'm on bedrest for a few days." Because healing a broken bone doesn't really take all that long these days, but still.

Sophia holds up a finger at the question, then promptly tries to stick it up Jeremy's nose. "HORSIE!" Rebecca watches with a grin, but there's a sadness in her eyes. She's still wearing her wedding ring, even though Ioan has been missing 10 months and presumed dead by most. She shakes it off and looks back to Lionel, "Because anyone who's spent ten minutes on a walk with you knows you make enough noise to wake an entire caravan, Mane."

Jeremy starts to jerk his head back slightly out of pure instinct, then stops and holds his head still despite the little finger going up his nose. The Arborenin scrunches up the bridge of his nose, "You want a little bit to eat and relax without this little angel, you're welcome to it." He nods over to Lionel, "Lie'll make sure I don't run off with her." Well, that and the security systems around the caravan. He makes 'omnomnom' faces at Sophia between the words of his question to Lionel, "Are you going to be able to eat that without falling off your stool? They must've given you the good stuff, didn't they?"

Lionel does cast a more genuine smile toward Rebecca. "Seriously, Bex… we can look after her if you want to eat and drink in peace for a few hours. I can always drop her off at your condo." He looks precariously at Sophia now, considering her with those perfectly blue eyes. Then he looks up at Jeremy and scoffs. "Of course they did. I'm Sir Lionel Keats the Mane of the Plains. Only the best."

"I can probably feed it to him," Rebecca quips. "Although he might be a messier eater than Sophia." She smiles and reaches a hand to stroke over the baby's impossibly soft curls. "And as long as she's happy in your lap, she's all yours. I'll warn you though, when she starts to get overstimulated, she'll get very cranky." She seems relieved at the chance to take a break but she shakes her head. "Not tonight. I'll be out hunting down Hostile stragglers tomorrow. I want my baby cuddles tonight, just in case…" she lets that hang in the air.

Jeremy glances past Sophia to Lionel, "Nope. Sorry." He points to the little girl, "This little one's the best." And then he brings his hand up in front of his eyes, hiding them before popping back 'into sight.' "We'll get her back in a couple hours. I'm going to have to pour this poor guy into bed by then anyhow." Dropping his hand from his face, he settles Sophia down to sit on his leg, bouncing her just a little and then letting her sit and grab at his fingers. "And maybe she'll keep Lie from wallowing that he won't be able to ride out again or come back with me to the Woods."

Lionel grunts a bit at Jeremy before he reaches out to gently touch Bex's shoulder. It is a comforting, companionable touch that includes a bit of a smile. Then he shakes his head a bit. "You're a good and strong soldier, Bex. Just remember that." Then he looks up as Sam returns with hot plates and… a glass of water. Lionel looks at it like it is alien, and he peers inside it cautiously. "What's this?" Then he looks accusatorily at Jeremy. "Huh?"

Rebecca ponders, then she nods. "All right. I trust my daughter's fine judgment in this case," she says. Sophia giggles like mad at the peekaboo game, then she grasps the offered fingers in a hardy grip and squeals with delight. Her mother waves a waitress over. "Mine will be to go, thanks." She gets up and clasps Lionel's shoulder lightly. "Get better soon. The Six know we need you out there, Lie." She turns to Jeremy, "You keep this one in one piece, hm? He's one of the good ones." She scrawls her address on a bar napkin, then kisses the top of Sophia's head. "You be good, sweetpea. Mama will see you in a couple hours." She mouths, "Good luck" at Jeremy, probably meaning with Lionel, as Sophia seems content, and heads for the door to pick up her to go meal.

Jeremy doesn't even look, "Water." He gives Rebecca a wave, "I'll try, except he keeps running off without me. Wave to mommy, Sophia." He nods and raises his eyebrows in a 'Six know I need it' gesture. Half-turning back to the bar, with the little girl still on his knee, he scoops up his fork and starts to poke at his own pot roast, making starship noises as he moves the fork toward his own mouth. "I'm glad you're okay, Lie. But really, you let Charmer fall on you?"

Lionel shamelessly watches Rebecca go, blue eyes lingering on her departing backside a heartbeat longer than normal — painkillers slow down reaction, after all. He swerves back around toward Jeremy, and he looks down at the bundle of strawberry blonde innocence in his lap. He takes a drink from the water glass, looking a touch disgruntled but not about to upset the Arborenin. He turns in his own stool to look forward at the colorful bottles behind the bar. He grunts at Jeremy's words. "It was a rough corner around a boulder pile. The Hostile was just waiting for us to take the corner and then…" And he raises a hand to make a slightly violent gesture before he also starts in on his plate, muddling together his vegetables, potatoes, and beef. He eyes that giggling baby in Jeremy's lap, and then looks up to his husband. "You're good at that you know…"

Jeremy looks sidelong at Lionel watching Rebecca, grinning just a little. "Over here…" The comment only comes after Rebecca is well out the door, and by then, he's lifted Sophia up in front of his face, displaying the giggling, burbling angel. Setting her back down on his knee, he tickles at her sides, "What do you think, Sophia? Is he a silly?" Nodding up to his husband, he smiles, "Yeah… she's adorable, isn't she?"

The Mane looks around to blink into the eyes of the pretty redhead baby, and he slips into an exasperated smile. He shakes his head, reaching out to muss up the baby soft curls before he releases a bit of a sigh. He starts in on his meal, chewing idly as he considers the measure of adorableness that is Sophia. "I suppose so," he says before he starts to crack with a smile toward his husband. "So… when are you going to start trying to convince me we need one of them of our own?" He smirks.

Jeremy keeps most of his attention on the baby, working through his meal slowly on the side. After he's had another couple sips of his beer, he pushes the half-empty glass over to his husband. "Well, I have to make sure that you're good enough for the job of Mommy." He lets Sophia grab hold of the fork, taking the time to dab at her mouth with his napkin. "But I figured we'd wait a little while. It's not like either of us is going to be around to take care of her, we're going to be so busy for the next thirty years." He looks down at the cast, "Except when we're broken."

Lionel gives Jeremy the appropriate amount of space to consider his answer. Then he nods, also taking a few moments to chew at his own meal. He blinks though when he is offered some of the beer, and he takes the pint glass cautiously before he takes a sip, and then two, and then three. He looks down at the giggling Sophia again as he offers the glass back. Then he clears his throat a bit. "Isn't that the point, though?" He glances over toward Jeremy, though he does seem a touch awkward. "We're going to be busy for the next thirty years… so…" He pokes a bit at some potato.

Jeremy collects his fork back from Sophia, wrapping one arm around her so she can grab hold of his fingers. He's two bites back into his pot roast before he responds, "So… yeah, I've been baby-crazy for years. And yeah, babies are chick-magnets, but they don't do much for most other guys." The Arborenin knight smiles crookedly, "I don't want to cramp your style like that. Unless you're saying you'd like a blue-eyed little prince or princess." Beat pause, "And I don't mean the Sauveurs."

"Ha!" Lionel says around a bite of pot roast. He is quiet for lengthy moment, glancing between Jeremy and Sophia before his shoulders sag a bit. At least he is also smiling through this slight surrender gesture. "The Sauveurs are too blond for me anyway…" Then he rests his cheek deeply into his folded knuckles and palm of his left hand, elbow propped on the bar. He chews idly at a mouthful of mush before he glances over toward Jeremy. "I don't know, something to talk about." He puffs out his cheeks. "When I can see straight." He hesitates just a little bit, nudging around his food as he half-mutters. "I do want a family with you, Jere." But don't tell anyone he said that. Gods, the ladies would weep. From his approximation at least.

Jeremy slowly bounces Sophia on his knee, a lulling rock rather than an active bop, "You mean big life-changing decisions shouldn't be made while one person is hopped up on painkillers?" Jere sets down his fork, leaning over to clasp the back of Lionel's head, "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone, big guy." More quietly, and more seriously, he adds, "But yeah… I'd like to talk about it. Later. Now eat. You're going to need your strength. For healing."

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