[P] [M] The things we do for love
p. Wither Rose

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

Specifically, this thread is marked mature because of: In case of things getting sexy.
For Wither Rose. A thread of what might have been.[+427]
Their momentary lapse of judgment was left far behind. For better or for worse, he only gave it a passing thought. Yet increasingly, whenever it returned, he found it dressed in different colors, as though tinged by some change in season. Or perhaps by some change in the elder Songthorn himself.

Her mentorship of course was covered by the Isiltári. He could think of no finer teacher and of nothing he could have taught her in Fennore’s place. But an invested friendship? That he was thoroughly invested in. It was little wonder then that he caught wind of a development he’d have once overlooked. If Wither Rose wished for the companionship of Rand Coara, then who was he to judge?

And why was it painful to imagine? All the more so when placing what image Rand has made of himself against that of Wither? Inner voices clashed in conflict.

She was making a decision of her own with no need for intrusions.

She was a reckless girl in more trouble than she realized.

She was strong, a Rose with thorns, able to protect herself.

She was a Soul dear to him throwing herself into the clutches of a wicked man.

There was never a good time to start such a conversation. An attempt to steer someone’s life in a different direction, even if it was for said one’s greater good. Did he really have the wisdom do know this for her? Or did he only know of his own desires and they now somehow conflicted with her seeing Rand?

Whatever the case, Ierian found he had exhausted the ability to ponder this situation on his own. He inched towards a time where only by speaking to Wither could he possibly make his case. What it was? Well, he would have had to think along the way.

Wither did not make herself all that easy to find. Though they were close enough neighbors considering Fennore’s former home that she occupied, he did not receive an answer at the door. Was she already away? Could he even catch her in the act? He was strangely averse to the thought and instead committed to tracking her down. He was no Bellad, but he could still recognize scents, faint spirits hanging about in the air.

Something of a stroll later, taking turns down streets, eventually wading across a path less surrounded by civilization, he would finally stumble on her. “Wither Rose.” He greeted with the beginning of a smile. “I was hoping we could walk together, if you have the time.”
Wither Rose did not think much about past partners at all, not when there was scarcely any time for it.

Rand had an appetite that astounded her, truly; one that falsely made her believe she must have been just as bad and needy, if his projections were to be believed. Many nights, sometimes several in a row, he would slunk over to her house like a panther, climbing through windows and whispering her name on the wind until she granted him entrance — he never used the front door, like a normal person. Sometimes they would sneak away, as to avoid waking up Amon, who most certainly knew that something was going on: he had the misfortune of possessing a working pair of ears and being under the same roof as them when she had to satisfy his quenchless needs.

But it did not bother her like it should have. He brought her booze and smokes and was a warm body in her bed. Wither could almost ignore the way he never looked her in the eye, how he never said anything positive about her and seemed to outright refuse even acknowledging her in public, much less act as if he knew her name.

Was she really so embarrassing and such a smudge against his good name that she hadn't earned even an ounce of recognition? If not as a fuck-buddy, even as a packmate?

But in her constant drunken haze, such slights fell to the wayside. She couldn't feel bad about it. She couldn't feel anything at all. Rand didn't need her to.

The cigarette hung loosely from her mouth as she walked, going nowhere, seeking no one. She could feel it in her hands, the almost-negligible shake that reared its ugly head when she went to grab the smoke.

Snarling, she practically spat out another puff of bitter-tasting smog and shoved her paws deep in her pockets.

When a rumbling voice called out to her, the Privileged spun on her heel, eyebrows hitching high as she gave him a look of surprise.


They hadn't so much as spoke since that night in her house. It was a strange time, one Wither couldn't remember as fondly as he after the repeat encounters with the Priest. Rand had succeeded in occupying her mind as the only man worth her affection. Everyone else was refuse in the dreg heap.

There had not been many differences between the two encounters, when she really sat and thought about it. Two moments of weakness, made all the more situational because of the copious amounts of alcohol consumed. Yet one had ended then and there, whereas the other dragged on as some loveless affair, far outstaying its welcome.

"Oh, um..." She took a brief glance around, like there might be something to save her from it. But with no convenient exit in sight, she blew air through her nose haughtily and took another drag of her cigarette.

"I mean, sure, yeah. Why not."

She gestured him to follow and returned her hands to her pockets, both to hide the tremors and to keep them out of the cold.

"... Did you, uh, want to talk about anything, or...?"

She wondered if he still thought about it. If he was thinking about it right now.


sig by Raze
ooc [+548]
There was something embarrassing about the sheer volume of surprise that merely his arrival elicited in her. Like a stark reminder that he had indeed let her loose for a long time, and exposed her to all sorts of influences that may well have spelled an eventual downfall. As though he’d looked away for far too long and now found something saddening. He had no responsibility over her choices, and yet, was he not strong enough to be a better shield from the worst of them?

Was every learning experience one that had to be permitted to run its course with no attempt to oppose it?

Her expression, her posture, seemed as though she tightened in about herself. That she had pockets in which to hide her hand only seemed to provide an extra tool. More of her hidden, hands and intentions unknown. He could at least feel her scent, tinged with acrid smoke as it was. He knew her to be no stranger to a wide variety of substances, but at least this particular smoke did not seem the kind that would cloud her senses. And either way, whether out of a sense of obligation or sympathy, she was willing to walk with him. That much had to do.

But her question was to the point. She never was the sort to whom quiet contemplation was comfortable. There was little patience about the young Rose, and it made sense that if there was no particular reason for this encounter, then perhaps it would feel to her a pointless waste of time. Rather than decide for her in advance whether she’d take or leave this instance of his company, he instead took his mind to what he could potentially speak of with relative confidence. What did he want to speak about?

“I have not seen you in a while. Have not spent time with you.” He mused, finding at the very least the observable truth to be something viable to be put into words. The rest was a more difficult thing to discern, like the early days of studying letters and having to go through symbols one by one. Not even syllables were known at first. Even familiar words, when disassembled, created confusion. “I would, perhaps, speak of your recent days? What you have been up to?” It wasn’t easy for him to turn his phrases to a pattern more along Wither’s own manners, but then, they were entirely different Souls.

At the very least, they were headed in the same direction, and it seemed that even as they, or she at least, was closed, the air, the space around them opened into greater pastures. The smoke of Wither’s cigarette no longer coiled against the backdrop of buildings in the Square, but instead swirled in the open, spiraling towards the sky.

A path lead them elsewhere, and though neither one seemed to have a specific location in mind, they still took the turns together. At least that was what Ierian thought, rather than think of himself as pursuing a woman fleeing from him and his questions.

“I missed you.” The words broke through suddenly and he almost seemed afraid of what they could be perceived at for a moment, bracing for the consequences of such an undiluted utterance.
Well, he was right about that, at least. They hadn't seen each other, and they sure as hell hadn't talked; just hearing the ponderous tone of his voice gave her brief glimpses into their last evening shared. In her bleary-eyed daze, she'd watched the slow, clumsy way his mouth moved, struggling to form his booze-soaked lips around the words.

Wither remembered being proud of herself, like getting Ierian drunk was akin to felling a monstrous beast, a feat of skill, a badge of honor.

One that had amounted to nothing, in the end.

Her pale hand slipped out of its pocket to take the cigarette betwixt her fingers, giving it a little flick as the gray ash flittered away in the wind.

"I figured you were busy, y'know. Getting better. -Ish."

In truth, she had not figured much of anything. He already was better; he didn't rely on Amon to escort him everywhere, which had been the case when he first examined the injury that brought her to the Realm in the first place.

"Oh, just, uh... same old, same old, I guess?"

What was she supposed to say? The Priest took up a majority of her free time, but the bitter taste he left behind — of course in addition to everything else, every unsavory rendezvous that brought them together — did not immediately jump to mind as a potential conversation piece. She knew very well the reputation he carried with him in this place.

The idle small-talk, she could handle. At least for a bit. Though at some point she would have gotten him to spill the real reason he had sought her out.

What came next, however, either answered that in its entirety, or served as a springboard for more questions.


The surprise was clear on her face, mixed with a hefty amount of skepticism.

Contempt, unfounded, unwarranted, tugged her lips into a frown.

"Nothing stopped you from coming over," Wither countered, as if she had some moral high ground, as if she hadn't made herself scarce around him and many others once Rand became a fixture in her life.

"Hell, maybe it would've been nice if you had. I thought we had a good time but it felt like you kinda fucked off the face of the earth after that."

She wasn't being fair to him. She knew this. But it was infinitely easier to deflect and pin the blame anywhere but on herself.


sig by Raze
ooc [+535]
There was payback for his slip of the tongue, but those rarely contained lies. He listened to all that she had to say on the matter. It was bitter, not unlike the flavor of her cigarette. He knew it well enough from the depth of their kiss that night that tied them together, then stretched that bond to its absolute limit, now quivering like a taut string, though whether one waiting to loosen or snap neither could say. What did he expect her to respond with to his sudden sliver of unrestrained sincerity? Endearment? Elation?

Even if neither of them were what he received from the coymutt, she may not have been fair to him. But when it became wrapped in his perspective her contempt turned from a thing possibly misplaced into one glistening with deserved justice. He may have regretted the encounter they shared, but probably not for any of the reasons she thought. He hadn’t felt wanted in a long time. That a creature like him, fallen so low from his prime, could have it was an inconceivable thing. But the way this unacknowledged need was satisfied? For that alone he thought himself a greedy usurper. Someone who reached his hands for something that was not and could not have been his.

When it finally happened with Wither, he was not drunk just on alcohol. He was drunk on it all. Touch, warmth, passion. And all of it as one had been undeserved as far as he was concerned. In his mind it was explained away constantly with but one thing – the intoxication. What else could have possibly made her choose him for this partnership, however briefly?

Perhaps had he bothered to ask instead of simply wearing his shame like another layer of his self-enforced penitent mantle it would not have been so. If only the thought had occurred to him sooner. If only the thought was something he could fathom in the first place.

He nodded slowly, though at what in particular wouldn’t be known until he spoke up. “You are right… I am sorry I hadn’t.” He confessed, unaware of how often Wither may or may not have received apologies from her “suitors”, though perhaps it would be presumptuous to consider himself one. “I know my duties, but they are no excuse. It shouldn’t take an injury for me to see you.” Nor should have the presence of a rival. Yet another term that could be considered presumptuous, thus left unspoken. Was this jealousy he was feeling?

His tone changed, almost seeming to share in Wither’s vitriol, only to relax. “But even so… I hope that the sight of me does not displease you.” The smile was bitter and short-lived. The guilt lingered in his eyes, but he was not committed to remaining a shrinking violet throughout their whole conversation. “I am still on this earth. It’s a place we share.”

There was only so much self-flagellation he could fit in what few words he’s said to her. But that said, he still stood still, their walk not resuming as though the accusation locked him into place, and only when she spoke her piece could they possibly resume in whatever direction.
Wither knew she was fishing for a very specific reaction and that her efforts, more often than not, panned out. It had worked with Fennore countless of times, earning the ire of the woman that tried so laughably hard to be some sort of model in her eyes; and it sure as hell worked with Rand, whom she had shouted at as many times as they had screwed like it was some deplorable, shameful thing.

Ierian, however, would break the mold. He would offer her something that she thought was quite beyond her.


The tenseness in her face slowly loosened, the frown wavering and replaced with momentary confusion. When was the last time anyone had said that to her? Beyond that, when was the last time it was justified? Because this certainly wasn't, if she had an ounce of self-reflection.

She brought herself to a halt, turning to face him head-on, not having to crane her neck as much as the others to look him in the eye. His hunched stance paired with her relative tallness for a female put them on more equal footing, or about as equal as they were going to get.

Yet the differences between them seemed so vast, so... unsolvable, even.

His smile was quick, a brief gesture that seemed to sour his mouth. Wither's shoulders lifted with a deep breath, one she held for just long enough that she felt a tightness form in her chest, before she exhaled slowly.

"It doesn't," she answered simply. "I just..."

You just what, you fucking bitch?

A chuckle fell from her maw, and she shook her head. God, her brain fucking hurt.

"Fuck. I dunno. You're easier to look at than some people."

Some blue-furred, syrupy-tongued, prickly-dicked sorts of people.

"... I'm sorry. I know I'm being unfair."

She gave him a wry smile. The desire to run back to the Square and raid her booze cabinet was strong, but somehow she felt that that might've made the impact of her words right here and now a little less believable.

"You can call me a cunt if you want. I won't be mad and I kind of deserve it. I've got legs just like you and could've came over if I really wanted to."

The idea of such an insult ever coming from Ierian's mouth was funny enough to get her laughing again, even if it sounded wildly out of place given the subject matter.


sig by Raze
ooc [+607]
For her to turn from him, and to proclaim their undefined connection null, was not outside the realm of possibility that he envisioned. He was prepared for rebuke, and even though he was not one so meek as to shrink in response to an incoming blow, there was a tension to him. As she spoke, his ears raised ever so slightly, as if he tested the waters unconsciously. Some of her words seemed to be cut short as if she was unsure. Did he do something strange to make her act like this?

She just what? He awaited a verdict, and the chuckle she produced infected him with some of her confusion.

“Easier to look at?” He didn’t focus on the mention of an abstract referred to as some people, instead stumbling on the unclear expression. If she meant that it did not stress her to look up at him, well then, this was fortunate. If it meant something else? No, surely he could not exceed his peers. There were so many who weren’t him. Or did she care so little for his scars?

She mirrored his apology, then a smile. She suggested he insult her with such a strange expression on her muzzle. He wasn’t all too sure what to make of it, or what such an invitation implied. He did have to admit, that perhaps they had blame to share, even if he was willing to take the brunt of responsibility for the scarcity of their encounters.

“I do not wish to call you that.” He said plainly, turning to speaking of what he knew rather than whatever shaky, brittle conjecture came to mind. “If you forgive me my scarcity, how could I not forgive yours in turn?” As he spoke, he gestured, first an open palm towards her, then towards his own chest, as though physically transferring something between them.

“I do wish we could resume our encounter. Seeing as we have both made decent use of our legs to walk this far together.”

It eased his mind that they could keep on moving in the same direction, not repelling one another, whether out of anger, fear or any other sort of deterrence. He would indulge her for a time were she to speak, unbridled as their mutual admittance of faults has made them. There was catching up to do, although admittedly Ierian’s life was not all that thrilling, and he quickly admitted to her that recounting Bellad’s recent success would most likely bore her.

He did bring up learning to read and write. “I may not study with Fennore, but young Athalie has been generous with me. I sometimes see what was left at the Messenger Tree. It helps me practice.” He laughed ever so slightly, as if he’d just admitted that he’s been stealing apples from an orchard like a child. In line with such an analogy, he also followed up. “I do not take them I only read the ones open to all eyes.” Although of all people Wither was unlikely to be bothered even if he did steal messages.

A silly thing to do. What would he even do with other pack-mates’ mail?

And yet, though he had not gleaned rumors from any passing glances at letters, still one rumor he was aware of and it weighted on him. The casual conversation served to accompany their walk, and by this point their witnesses were trees rather than walls of stone and wood. After some of the pressure was gone, he brought up what scarce knowledge he had obtained. “I… heard you were seeing a man, Rand Coara, the Nin priest.”

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