07.01.3013: Into the Woods
Summary: Lionel goes to find Jeremy after talking to Aidan about dreams.
Date: 1 July 2013
Related: What Dreams May Come
Lionel Jeremy 

Arborenin Woods, The Spine
Tall, monstrous trees dominant the forests that take up most of the southern half of the Spine. Their trunks are like the legs of giants, and their dark bark is home to brightly colored moss and the broad steps of mushrooms. Natural light must filter down through broad leaves, casting much of the forest in a cool green glow. The forest floor is covered mostly in soft peat and rotting debris, creating a fertile bed for lush flora, which in turn become the habitats of diverse fauna. Nurse logs, hollowed snags, sink holes, and small forest caves adds layers of detail to the broad stretch of Arborenin woods. Toward the outer edges of the forest, the giant trees transition to smaller evergreens and firs, transitioning into mountain forests to the west and rocky beaches to the east.
July 1, 3013

Lionel the Mane and his trusty sidekick Dax had left Khar-Mordune hours ago, traveling via Ways and foot in search of Jeremy. Emotions had run high during the entire course of his journey from the Peake's seat into the deep dark of the Arborenin Woods. Dax has been doing much of the leading for the plains boy, guiding him through the various patches of forest, cutting through riparian clearings and getting almost lost in a birchwood patch. Dax pauses now and then, sniffing at the forest floor before bounding off in a new direction, attempting to lead Lionel toward where he might find Jeremy. This entire adventure truthfully takes place in a very small chunk of the Arborenin Woods, but to Lionel it feels like an epic journey for a single quarry.

Jeremy is up in the lower limbs of a tree. He would probably tell you that it's a good place to observe passers-by from, but really, it's just a comfortable way to put some distance between yourself and everything going on in the world below. He likely heard the approach from a good ways off, but he leaves it for the little retriever to find him. When Lionel catches up to the pup at the base of his tree, Jere clears his throat, drawing his partner's attention upwards, "And how long have you been looking for me?"

Dax rushes up to Jeremy's tree with earnest excitement, plopping his butt down in the dirt and wagging his tail in silent indication that, yes, he found what Lionel was looking for, and what is he suppose to do now. Lionel looks displeased at first, almost preparing to redirect Dax until Jeremy makes his presence known. He blinks up into the branches of the tree, stepping back to get a full view of the man. His question is answered with a lopsided smile that tries to be casual, but looks honestly relieved. "Oh, you know…" He pauses. "Couple hours."

Jeremy shakes his head slowly, "Almost as long as I've been here then." He slowly, carefully climbs down the tree, taking his time as if he hadn't a care in the world. First, he has a puppy to greet, and he crouches down, reaching out to ruffle up golden ears, then pull a piece of jerky from inside his jacket and offer it out for the little beggar to gnaw on. "How're your chest and stomach feeling after that much walking? And your leg? You don't even have a cane…" The chastisement is light, and the Arborenin knight looks up with those clear blue-gray eyes, a hint of fear still lurking under the concern for the other knight.

Oh. My Gods. Dax is so excited. He wags his tail with such mindless happiness, he doesn't see that he's managed to behead a dandilion in the process. He licks Jeremy's hand before he settles into gnawing at his jerky, quite enthused by the interaction. Lionel is less so. "Miracle of modern medicine," he says dismissively. He steps up toward his husband, reaching out to clasp Jere's shoulder. "Jere, why didn't you tell me you had… a dream last night?"

Jeremy looks down again at the question, ostensibly to scritch at Dax's flanks, but also to avoid that worried look, "Because it scared the shit out of me." He rolls his broad shoulders, as if resettling a weight on them, and then slowly straightens up, finally turning his gaze back to the blue eyes across from them, "And I guess because I thought you knew. You were at least trying to talk when I got out of bed." There's a hint of a smile there at the words, but those clear eyes are still haunted.

Guilt laces Lionel's expression for a moment. "Yeah, I was… but Jere… I don't dream the same way you do. I figured you had a standard nightmare, not the kind of nightmare Lord Aidan Peake shared with me today." He steps up boldly, wrapping one arm under Jeremy's, the other across his shoulders to touch his head. The embrace is a bodily one, providing comfort through its overall strength. He closes his eyes a moment, just holding steadily to the Arborenin Keats' frame.

Jeremy wraps his arms around Lionel in turn, squeezing gently, "The surgery? The star?" The Arborenin's muscular frame shivers, and he holds tighter to his husband a moment, one hand coming up to brush across the hair at the back of the Valen's head, and then he looses his grip on the other man, although one hand does drop down to clasp one of Lionel's hands as well. "I hope there was at least alcohol involved in the telling. It sort of needs it."

"Jeremy, Aidan was saying they were testing to see if you screamed," Lionel's voice is mixed with anger toward the source of the dreamed pain and fear for the well-being of his partner. He squeezes Jeremy's hand firmly, though not enough to cause anything more than reassurance that he's here. He breathes out a slow breath as he steadies his voice. "Aidan is taking this to the Chantry… and the Knight Commander at my suggestion. He thinks the Hostiles are set on a coordinated attack on the Chantry."

Jeremy shakes his head a little, "I don't know, maybe. I thought it was more…" He trails off, breathing in slowly and letting it out in a long, calming sigh, "It felt more like I was being experimented on. Like they wanted to know what made me tick, maybe like they wanted to know what made my Religion tick." He shivers again, then returns the squeeze of his hand, "I'll be fine, Lie. I just wanted to get out into the woods for a bit, some place calm and quiet. It just… it was real unsettling."

"Hey," Lionel announces, releasing Jeremy's hand to grasp at either side of his face. He leans his forehead up against his partner's in one last display of connection and comfort. "I'm the only one allowed to know how you tick." Then he releases him — gently — and steps aside to drop heavily onto a forestmade seat. The log cracks a bit under the sudden weight, but seems otherwise accepting of the Valen. He folds his arms across his knees. "I've heard it a couple times now… but everyone seems to think that this is all about the Awakened… that the Hostiles want to know how you guys tick. Maybe because they can't do what you do."

Jeremy smiles a bit at the physical reassurance, although he doesn't move over to the seat himself. Instead, he moves back under the tree, reaching his arms up and hopping just a little to grab hold of a low-hanging branch so he can dangle with his toes just touching the ground. "I don't know… that seems really egotistical to me. I mean, they don't have knights, so far as we know, and we call them priests, but who knows if they're actually religious or anything."

"Everything seems egotistical to you, Jere," Lie says dryly as he plucks an unsuspecting leaf, rolling it between his fingers. He can't help but watch Jeremy make a literal monkey of himself, and it does draw a faint smile on his lips. There is a touch of admiring in that gaze before it drops. He shrugs his shoulders a bit. "Lets face it, we know fuck-all about the Hostiles. It is like that mysterious girl — or boy — across the bar whose only said three words to you but you're trying to figure out if she's the one. Won't know for sure until you go out on a date with her. The Hostiles are just shitty dates."

Jeremy shuffles down the branch a little, feeling it take his weight more easily as he gets closer to the trunk, "That's because I married a Valen." One hand then the other comes free of the branch, turning around so that he can do a slow pull-up under that admiring gaze. The analogy draws a laugh from him, "You think everything's like that mysterious girl or boy across the bar." Blowing out a breath, he breathes in, lifting up another pull-up, "Really? Everyone thinks they're about the Awakened? Not the Chantry?"

"You married wisely," Lionel boasts as he scratches at his chest with a lazy, leonnide gesture. He pauses though as Jeremy starts utilizing the natural gymnasium that is Arborenin Woods, sitting up a bit to watch him with a tilt of his head. There is a delay before the Mane actually answers his partner, blue eyes flickering up to his face before his mouth creases with a boyish smile. "I'm sorry… what did you say?"

Jeremy's eyes go white, phantasmagorical leaves swirling around him in a breeze that isn't there. A soft little thump of telekinesis comes out of nowhere to thump his husband in his unwounded shoulder, "I was asking if you'd talked to a bunch more Awakened, or just Lord Aidan." The unreal wind fades out, his eyes fading away to their normal color, "I'll do more pull-ups in a minute. If you're good."

Lionel gives an exaggerated sway under the Awakened-empowered chuck. He grunts a bit. "Oof…" He grumps good-naturedly as he rubs at that targetted shoulder. He grumbles something under his breath that sounds vaguely like, "What if I want more than pull-ups…" Though he does relent, breathing out a sigh. "No… just Lord Aidan. He told me about the dream, I came to find you." He shrugs a bit. "I didn't figure that you Awakened types did much in the way of pow-wowing."

Jeremy shrugs, which means he does a third of a pull-up, then lets himself down again, "I've talked to a couple other druids about some things now and then, but I get plenty of dreams that others don't." He pulls himself up again, then lowers himself down again, "Besides the ones about you. I mean, there are plenty of things that I know are Dreams," the capitalization is clearly audible in his voice, "That I talk to other druids, and none of them have ever had anything like it. It feels like just… I mean, these big ones that everyone seems to get."

There is an actual warmth that spreads across his blue eyes at something his partner says, though he does fold his fingers together as his elbows rest on his knees. Dax has wandered up to the Valen Keats, plopping down on his foot without a care and panting. "And the big ones seem to always encourage us to bite off more than we can chew." He rubs the corner of his thumb against his chin, fingers splayed across one cheek. "I suddenly envy our ancestors… my great-great-grandfather didn't have to deal with this shit."

Jeremy chins up over the branch once more, then drops down to the duff once more. "And his great grandfather did." He pauses, thinking a moment, "Or however the generations work out." He moves over to sit down next to Lionel, reaching down to pat Dax's side, resting his other hand on the Valen's knee, "I'm not going to bite off more than I can chew, Lie. I'm just going to do my job, survive this whole crazy thing, and raise some kids some day. I'm just here to protect my people and my family."

The hand at his knee draws Lionel's gaze up to meet Jeremy's, and those steady blue eyes hold steady onto the soulful ones of his partner. He starts to smile, lazy and relaxed and boyish. "You say that now, but we both know that we sometimes can't help it… you'll come chasing me into some battle, and suddenly you're wondering if you just want to leave me behind." He rocks his shoulder gently into Jere's as he looks down at Dax, who yawns and starts to flop down across both their feet.

Jeremy rocks with the nudge, staying half-crouched to keep scritching at the pup's side, "Now you're just trying to get me to say that I'd never wonder that, that I'm always going to love you, and that you make everything worthwhile." He glances up at his husband's features, smiling easily but keeping his mouth shut, letting the fact that he's technically not saying those things — at least not again — himself.

"Yeah… and?" Lionel says as Jeremy 'accuses' him of his verbal motives, though it is followed with another warm smile. He then leans back, his hands coming up to crisscross his fingers behind his head, tilting his gaze up toward the leafy heavens as he relaxes. He listens to Dax release a happy yawn before he stretches out across the ground at their feet, thumping his tail rhythmically against the dirt and moss.

Jeremy nods, "And while you're fishing for compliments, you're also wondering about when you'll get caught up in a bramble patch, trapped by poison ivy, trying to find me out in the woods, wondering if you even want to bother fighting your way through the foliage to come get me." He laughs softly, shaking his head, "Just because you insist on riding out into the middle of a bunch of Hostiles isn't going to stop me from coming in after you, Lie, and you know it."

There is a quiet — and unusual — moment from the usual chatty Lionel. He stretches his elbows open wide like they were wings before he sits back up again, leaning down over Jeremy as he slides his hand behind his husband's head to draw him up into a slow kiss that speaks the words he would have otherwise said in response. He holds him tight against him for the length of the warm and affectionate display. When he leans back, it is only just enough to smile down at the Arborenin Keats. "I'll be tromping around in these woods just the same."

Jeremy returns the kiss softly, his hand coming up to cup the stubbly cheek of his husband. "Yeah, which is exactly why I'll always pack a some antivenom and anti-itch cream for poison ivy." He sighs softly, shifting around so that he can lay on his back along the log, setting his head in Lionel's lap and looking up at the canopy. "It's okay. I don't much want to think about the dream, but I'm okay, or I will be."

Lionel starts combing his fingers back through Jeremy's hair, careful of the work that the Knight puts into his tousle. "I wasn't going to ask about it, Jere. I got the gist. I just want you to wake me up next time, talk to me about it. If it… jars you, I want to set you straight." He breathes out a sigh. "Besides… there's a chance you are seeing things that the Gods are wanting you to see."

Jeremy shrugs a little, tilting his head into those combing fingers and looking up at his partner, "The shower worked this time, but it's nothing on strong arms and a soothing words." Nodding slowly, he wraps one arm around Lionel's waist, letting the last of his nature-soothed tension leak out of him, "Imperius, nature, the Gods. There's definitely a reason why we see what we see. Sometimes, I wish that we didn't. Sometimes it's torture to be forewarned, when you can't actually do anything about what's going to happen."

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