Civilized Behavior

He stepped out of the bathroom looking almost like a new man, if one wearing a robe that was loosely cinched about his waist. He was clean, which was a stark contrast to how he'd arrived. His still moist hair was a bit wild after the towel drying it had gone through, but his chocolate colored eyes were much brighter than they had been since he arrived. Finn smiled and carried in his empty whiskey glass. He walked over to the bottle that had arrived earlier, his robe opening across his chest when he reached for it. "I feel much better. It's always a surprise how much difference just a bath can make."

From where he stood at the dresser which had been turned into a temporary bar, he could see Rebecca's reflection in the mirror. True to her word, she had shed the clothes and wrapped herself in a robe of deep red velvet that flared out from the cinched in waist to brush the floor. The wide lapels and cuffs were delicately embroidered with silver horse head knotwork. It was a stark contrast to the thick black terry cloth one Finn wore. The black seemed to be the sort you wrapped yourself in after a hot bath at the end of hard day to curl up in front of the fire to read or relax. Rebecca's somehow managed the trick of being feminine but very much her. It was probably not something she had bought for herself; even in the short amount of time he had known her, it was difficult to conceive of Eric's daughter in a shop that sold things like that.

As he poured himself another drink, Finn's eyes roamed over the sight of Rebecca, and he smiled. He was not one to miss the details, of either the robe, or the woman within it. She was a treat for eyes that had been a bit too long in the battlefield, and she had to know that. Finn enjoyed his whiskey, and set the glass down on the bar. He observed her for a moment longer, and then walked over to where she was.

A fire burned low in the fireplace against the chill of a Spring evening. The table that usually was pushed into a corner had been pulled out and moved in front of the fire. It was a small table, and Maggie had brought up a lot of food. Too much for the table for two to handle. One of the decorative tables had been moved near it to hold the basket of fresh bread and the entire pie that had been delivered up, as well as the bucket of ale. Rebecca was there, opening a couple of bottles.

"Yep, first thang I want aft'r comin' in from riding fences fer a week, or drivin' the horses to auction. Washin' off in the river jest ain't the same."

"No. That's not the same at all." Finn agreed. He reached out and touched the embroidery of her robe, and caught the cinched belt and drew her near. "Now, I don't see any vases handy, so I think I'm relatively safe." Then Finn kissed her, as hungrily as the first time, but with an curious sense of tenderness, perhaps even reverence, as if it were something he meant to hold onto for as long as possible. Then he smiled, "There. If they could bottle that, there'd be less need for medics."

"I reckon if they could bottle that, there'd be less need fer soldiers," she smiled in return, though he could tell the feelings behind the kiss had confused her at least a little. She patted his chest and pushed him towards a chair. "Eat. Maggie said thar better not be a scrap left when she fetches the dishes later." It was pretty much a repeat of that first meal, though Maggie had added thick slices of tomatoes and cucumbers sprinkled with an herb mix of some sort. "Said she weren't goin' to both'r with lettuce 'cause that ain't real food, but ya probably needed fresh vegetables of some sort, an' if you were eatin' 'em, so was I."

Finn smiled and chuckled, "I think you're exactly right about that." He smirked slightly at her confusion, and when she patted his chest he moved easily with the push. "Just a long time out, that's all." He said by way of explanation, before sliding into his seat. "I think I can accommodate Maggie's demands." He nodded and picked up his knife and fork, starting to cut the steak up just as he had before. "I'm sorely tempted to put pie before steak though, vegetables or not." Finn had a tomato and groaned at how good it was, and then slice the veggies up so he could eat them all just as easily as the steak and home fries. "This is just what's needed to wash the taste of those foul MREs out of my mouth." Finn filled his fork, "Julian brought them in from Shadow, " He explained, "Some kind of dehydrated food stuff. Basically raw nutrients and — terrible."

Rebecca, of course, hadn't had the day that he had and it hadn't been long since she'd had real food like Maggie had served. But it was her favorite, and she started on it after watching Finn enjoy his. She looked up and frowned at the description of what he had been eating. "That ain't food. Sounds like someth'n that would offend food. Jerky an' hardtack are bad 'nough fer days on end. Though Uncle T's jerky is pretty damn good. We'll get ya a batch to bring back."

Finn nodded, "It is an insult to food. It's from some higher tech Military. They package neatly and that's about it." He grimaced, "There's this — juice — it is supposed to be orange, I think. It comes in a powder that you mix into water. Ugh. It's awful. I risked a Shift and found us some chocolate, I think that made me more of a hero than any fighting I could have done." He smiled and had a long pull from his ale bottle. "We ate the dried meat first. Julian brought in the MREs when he knew our stay would be extended." Finn ate a few more bites of food. "Anything I bring back will be a treat." He chuckled, "Blake will be terribly happy about our trip."

"We'll get ya set up," Rebecca promised before taking a drink from her own ale. "Uncle T will be pleased to help." She stabbed a slice of tomato and looked across at him. "Why's Blake gonna be so happy? Other then all tha steak he could eve'r want."

Finn nodded as he chewed up a morsel of steak, and then washed it down with ale. "That will be great, Rebecca. The Rangers will enjoy it, I promise you that." He chuckled, "Blake has not had the best horse-conversation, from what I understand. He's also tired of the forest, and wants some open spaces to stretch his legs out in. I think he's normally a forest ambush hunter, so if he wants a break, that's saying something." Finn smiled, "He's after a change of scenery, and all that steak you mentioned." He drank some ale, "He's also developed a taste for beer."

She chuckled and shook her head. "I reckon he's earned as much as he wants." Her fork bounced from between her fingers. "Thar's wide open spaces a'plenty where we're a-goin'. Demon'll show him 'round. Thar's a stretch o' plain that'll let 'em run for days 'fore they have to turn if'n they want."

Finn nodded slowly, "That he has. He'll get as much as we can give him." He smiled, "That I'm sure he'll put to the test. I'll ask him to be sure to turn around after three sunsets. We'll have to Trump home some time." Finn ate more, drank more, and sighed just the slightest bit. "There are days, Rebecca, when disappearing into Shadow becomes more attractive than I ever thought it would." He drank more ale and shrugged slightly, "But I won't, and likely never will, though I do understand the urge."

Rebecca turned from her plate to gaze into the fire for a long moment of silence. "I'm tempted ta go back to Cimarron an' stay," she admitted lowly, and he knew without being told she had never said this out loud to anyone. "At least as long as Uncle T, an' Wyatt, an' Zach, an' some o' the others are alive. I miss 'em. I feel like I've left things undone. Unfinished. The Black Road weren't there when I left, but it might be by now, or soon, an' they ain't ready fer it; got no way to call fer help if'n they need it. Tears me up ta think about it cuttin' through tha untouched places. Don' care ta think 'bout what it'll do ta me if it touches tha Lone Pine."

Finn paused in his eating when she turned to stare into the fire. He went so far as to put down his knife and fork, his hands upon the table, waiting for her to continue. He raised his eyebrows at her admission, tilting his head slightly as he listened to her speak. He did not know the people she named, though she had heard her mention one or two of them before. It was clear by her tone that they were important to her, and equally as important was the place, the land, the Shadow itself. Finn understood, Cimarron was her home, as Avalon was his — only, his Avalon was gone, and while he loved the version he'd been raised in, he still knew in his bones that his true birthplace was simply no more. Finn reached out to touch her hand, his chocolate colored gaze softening as he observed her.

"I am a warrior born, practically born and forged in and for battle. I have been on this path all my life, and make no mistake, had I a talent for art or even the esoteric, I would have been pushed towards that path. Benedict is not a man to deny one choices. My talents ran parallel to his own, I chose this life, but just as a musician that loves music might sometimes crave silence, I will sometimes crave peace. The musician and I will go back to our arts, in time, it is who we are." He smiled slightly, "You, Your Highness, are a Cowgirl Princess. The open spaces are where you belong. I don't doubt that you love Amber and your Father, but it is more than expected of you to love your Home and the people you left behind as well. To crave one does not mean you are abandoning the other." Finn withdrew his hand, "Anyone that didn't want their home and kin safe from war and harm wouldn't be worth much in my eyes." He nodded, "If there is need Rebecca, I will gather an army, and we will ride to Cimarron's defense together."

She turned from the fire only then; she had been a million miles away, staring into other fires under endless starry skies. Hearing the deep murmur of male voices, Wyatt's rich baritone laugh, Zach's harmonica, the rattle of metal camp dishes, the soft sounds of horses at rest, and the familiar noises of a campsite settling in for the night. She blinked at Finn, not even sure now what she had said aloud, but knowing it was more then she intended. Rebecca smiled faintly instead of cursing herself. "I'll keep that in mind, an' apprec'ate it." She took a drink of her ale and applied herself again to her food. "Uncle T aint' really my uncle. He's my step-dad. He didn' want me being confused when I was growin' up, so he was always Uncle T, and Eric was Dad."

Finn simply nodded. It was not something likely said. He was a not a child to preface a statement with an 'I promise' or an 'I swear', to be a man of one's word, Benedict had told him, one had to stand by what one said, regardless of context. It got him into trouble, and not a few duels, good and bad, but it was what it was. "Uncle T sounds like an understanding fellow. What of the others you mentioned?" He asks with a small smile, and drinks some ale.

"Wyatt and me, we been friends since we were crawlin'," she smiled. "Got inta ever'thing t'gether. We did all our -," she waggled her eyebrows suggestively, "- 'explorin' t'gether too. Nearly gave Mam a stroke when she found us in the hay loft tha first time with our clothes all asunder." Rebecca smiled fondly at the memory. "Good that it Mam an' not Uncle T. He'da snatched a knot in the both o' us. We weren't but fifteen at tha time. By then I knew I'd be leavin' someday, so we reckoned we'd just have ta get it all in 'fore I left. It weren't a grand, sweepin' love affair, but it was an affair." She was silent for a moment, her thoughts turning to Wyatt like they had been more and more then longer she was away. Perhaps it wasn't fair to underplay the feelings involved between them, but it wasn't really any of Finn's business that Wyatt loved her. She loved Wyatt; she always had. But she had recently come to realize that she was in love with the cowboy. But this wasn't the time for that. She grinned at Finn. "You should thank 'im while we're thar. Only man I was ev'r with 'fore I came here. Honed my skills on Wyatt."

Finn smiled as she spoke, and the chuckled when she waggled her eyebrows. "I see." He shook his head slightly, "The Gardener's Daughter, The Cook's, and a couple of others. Oji had a tendency to transfer them out after a time." He drank some ale, "Being caught in the closets or behind the wine casks hastened the process." He smiled in return, "Hardly even an affair. I'm not sure playing 'advanced Doctor' counts." Finn smirked, "The first time I was caught was by Benedict. The second time was by the Gardener himself, who learned that his Daughter was not half as innocent as he believed. Oji was annoyed with me. That was his favorite Gardener." Finn laughed softly, "You'd have to search a bit to do the same for me. Honed your skills, hmm? Is he wheelchair-bound then?"

"No," she laughed. Rebecca's bare foot kicked his shin under the table. "Not fer lack o' tryin' on my part." She smirked. "Or his. Bless 'im." She smiled then and took a moment to drink. "Be good ta see 'im again." Rebecca tilted her bottle towards Finn and grinned. "Yer jest a regul'r whore-dawg, ain't ya?"

Finn smiled when he was kicked and drank ore ale before continuing the serious assault of his meal. "Well, as long as you tried." He nodded, "I rather thought you'd be ready to visit home again. I lasted about as long. Amber and Avalon are not so different, I suppose, though Avalon is a touch more advanced — philosophically, but one is not the other." He shrugged slightly, and then chuckled. "Not really, though it might seem that way. I was a curious young man, and I have some years on you, and thus more time to fill. I can't fight wars all the time, even if it feels like I do."

Rebecca's foot was back on his leg, but it wasn't a kick this time. "Well, yer not fightin' one at tha moment, an' I reckon as soon as ya finish off all tha vitcuals Maggie thinks ya need, I fig're the veneer of civ'lization will be off tha both of us." She winked at him and devoted herself to polishing off her steak.

Finn moved his leg slightly to give her easier access, and shivered the slightest bit. "Along with our robes." He smirked and finished his ale off, before attempting to do the same with his steak.

"It's a pretty thin veneer," Rebecca grinned. The mischievous glint in her eye didn't go away as the surprisingly soft arch of her foot smoothed up his calf.

"Well, I never claimed to be entirely civilized." Finn smiled in return, and made a soft growl in his throat at the motion of her foot. "I might have dropped the veneer sooner, but I thought a bath was in order at the very least." He chuckled and finished off his steak, which had disappeared along with the tomatoes. He opened another ale, and set to work on the home fries. He ate with a bit less interest, as his eyes wandered over Rebecca, meeting her eyes with a small smirk and a warm gaze.

"An' ya gotta refuel—get yer strength up," Rebecca noted slyly. "Though we got an early wake-up ta get on tha road in tha mornin'." She polished off the last of her potatoes and pushed her plate to the side. Under the table, her foot continued stroking along his muscled calf while she sipped her ale.

Finn smirked, "That is very true. We'll need a snack later I imagine." He smiled, "Time is relative, Rebecca. We'll arrive in plenty of time. An early start is fine, but I'd like the sun to be visible over the horizon before we roll out of bed." Finn continued to eat, and finished his potatoes. He pushed the plate to one side, and drank his ale thoughtfully. "Still feeling civilized?"

"Dunno," she replied huskily with a fire in her eyes. "Ya wantin' that apple pie now or later?"

Finn met her eyes, "I believe apple pie can wait." He met her gaze, "I'd like dessert now."

Sometime later, he nearly purred in satisfaction, and softly declared. "My vacation has officially begun." Finn gave her a kiss, and then lazily cast about for something for them to smoke.

She snorted a laugh and pushed herself upright. "In the drawer of tha bedside table," said she while tugged her robe to straighten it. It was barely on, only the still tied belt holding it on her. She tugged the front closed and went to fix them a drink.

Finn rolled over slowly, and opened the drawer. He found a pair of cigars, and set them on the side table, before languidly sitting up. He smiled as Rebecca prepared their drinks, and he prepared their cigars. He lit both carefully, and finally to his feet. He puffed on both, alternating between the two until they were properly burning, and then moved over to the Cowgirl to trade her a drink for a smoke. Finn smiled as he offered her the cigar. "I'll pay for the damages this time."

She smiled and handed him his drink, and tucking her hair behind her ear before taking the cigar. "Thanks. I reckon Maggie's plannin' on sendin' a bill up the hill like she does fer the rest o' my tab." She looked past him to the room and smirked. "It ain't so bad this time."

Finn glanced over at the picture, before having a sip of his drink. "I may just have to pay for a year of frame replacement. I think that's at least three times we've knocked that poor thing off the wall." He smirked, stuck the cigar between his lips, and reached out with his free hand to open Rebecca's robe and peek inside. He made a sound of approval, and settled her robe back where it was. "I didn't get much of a look." Finn smiled, and gestured with his head towards the bed, suggesting they both take their ease. He had more to drink, and puffed on his cigar, "Did you say something about pie before?"

TOCRidin' the Trail

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