(2018-05-17) Disreputable Company - Act I
Disreputable Company - Act I
"I wanted to know what it would feel like."
In which Antonella makes good on a promise to introduce Cesare to the horse he helped save.
Following the Stolen Property story and preceding a second act.
Misc Info:
No horses were stolen at the conclusion of this log.

Making good on her promise to let Cesare see the horse he helped to recover, Antonella has extended an invitation for him to visit the Capello stables here in Matora. She may have even explained how she couldn't possibly take him out, not in the condition he's in, not as heavily watched as he's been since his return to proper care. Whenever the gentleman arrives, he'll find Antonella already inside the stables. She's dressed for riding, in trousers and tall boots and a light tunic, with her hair drawn back in braids. She's in the company of what may have been and may yet one day be a rather handsome stallion, though the hair she's currently brushing ever so gingerly has been plucked and cut and roughened, still looking ragged even these few days later. The horse's coloration has been changed, too, dark splotches still dying his furparticularly over his brandwhich will require a little more time to fade. While she words, she hums a cheerful song to the animal, his utter indifference not fazing her in the least.

Despite his best efforts, Cesare is unable to slip through the Capello grounds without some well-intending servant spotting him and happily offering to help him. Thus, he wears a long-suffering look when that servant leads him here and introduces him, leaving Cesare standing in the doorway to the stables with his head shaking tolerantly, his eyes resting boredly on the servant during all this fuss. "So much for the element of surprise," he says blandly after all that.

Antonella, on the other hand, looks quite delighted. No, maybe that's amused. Her smile's wide either way, her demeanor perfectly patient as Cesare endures his introduction, eminently polite as she issues a gracious, "Thank you," to the servant and assures that they need nothing else. Setting the brush down, she takes a step closer to her guest, still within arm's length of the horse at her side. "I can teach you how to dodge them if you mean to keep coming around," sounds like it might be meant as enticement.

Somewhere between impressed and doubtful, Cesare counters, "Are you offering to teach me how to break in to your family's house? Because. Really." He gestures to himself - though it's not the best example; he's wearing clean clothes today, and is decently groomed, but the whole 'oft-disheveled' aura is still there in the slack posture and permanently sleep-smudged eyes. "But let's put a pin in that, since I might be keen to see your version of breaking-and-entering. Is this the beast that caused so much damn fuss?"

"Are you suggesting that you might be a thief?" asks the girl who most certainly caught him stealing, her eyes wide with poorly feigned disbelief. Antonella's blue-eyed attention dips down along his form before turning to the handsome horse at her side. She pets lightly along the beast's muzzle and introduces, "Airs Beneath the Moon. I promise, he was more handsome before he took this journey. I expect the conte will send him back home soon, after he's had some time to recuperate." Head canted curiously, she looks to Cesare again and asks, "Have you interest in horses?"

Cesare says, "Of course not," of his being a thief, tone shocked, but he also nods his head gravely at the same time. "Lofty name," he continues, back to the matter of the horse, then tentatively holds out the back of his hand to the stallion, shaking his head. "Only stolen ones. And any that I might happen to be riding. Nera had him?" And his forehead creases uncomfortably at the presumed yes.

The horse with the lofty name isn't quite as friendly as Antonella, but he sniffs at Cesare's hand all the same, dark nostrils flaring wide before he lets out a wet little chuff. No carrots. No apples. No anything interesting. Hrmpf. "Not precisely," sounds almost like a question. "If I understand her operation correctly, she never quite has any of them. All just a place for people who like other people's horses to meet, which isn't any of her concern at all. She was, however, generously compensated for letting us meet with whoever happened by that night."

Cesare answers the chuff with a tssss, withdrawing his hand to swipe his knuckles down the side of his leg. Mumbled, "Next time, I'll leave you to the thieves, sir." Folding his arms high across his chest, he takes a step or two back, listening to Antonella's explanation, quietly accepting it. His nod filters off slowly by the time he asks, "You went yourself?"

Antonella, amused, gives the horse an approving pat before leaving him to his own business, which seems greatly, at the moment, to brooding about the lack of treats and grooming he's currently receiving. It's a hard life for Airs Beneath the Moon. The question turned her way has the blonde's cheeks catching some color, though that shyness scarcely shows in her expression. "With my conte, yes. Which, really, was for the best in the end. He doesn't much care for indirectness which, I'm sure you understand given the nature of her business, is how Nera operates." She's smart enough to leave off how nice it was to feel useful, but she can't quite hide that 'I helped!' gleam in her eyes.

Sorry, but Cesare misses the beaming pride there, since his eyes have widened and his mouth has opened in surprise. "You and Baldessare both went?"

Antonella frowns as the color on her cheeks darken. She answers simply, "Yes," though there seems a question to it.

For a second, the gears turn all but visibly behind Cesare's eyes; they're pointed at Antonella, but he's looking at something that doesn't exist on the other side of her, so maybe the blush is lost on him? "Okay," he says eventually, and even dredges up a smile from somewhere. "He must be relieved to have this fine," wry, 'cause look at the poor horse, "stallion back safely."

"That's not the word I'd use," Antonella mutters in response, scowling ever so shallowly at whatever that was about. "Satisfied, perhaps." Chin jutting up, she asks, "Why? And why did you want to see him?"

Cesare tilts his head, lifts his brows, looking amused at the jutting chin. "When you go out on a limb for someone, you wanna see what got you out there to begin with, no?" He trails a look across the scraggly-looking horse, still doing so when he adds, "You ask a lot of questions with your face, why don't you ever say them out loud?"

Antonella's eyebrows draw together at that first bit, head canting slightly to the side. Not that she takes the time to voice any of that either. He might be to blame for that, the observation and inquiry which follow clearly catching her off-guard, eyes going all wide as she takes all of a heartbeat to consider that. Tilting forward just a little bit, drawing ever so slightly closer to Cesare in doing so, she asks, "If you understand the questions, why don't you ever answer them?"

Cesare, channeling every nine-year-old ever: "I asked you first."

Childish though the retort may be, it seems to set Antonella a little bit more at ease, her smile coming back. She straightens, taking a step forward as she does, then gives a little shrug. "Not every question merits airing," she offers to start. "Sometimes, I'm just working something out on my own. Sometimes, my questions are entirely tangential. Sometimes," softer now, "I expect I'd sound a fool for asking. Sometimes, I'd just be entirely untoward." Another shrug. "I know well enough when to keep my mouth shut."

Cesare seems to take most of that as a matter of course, his only reaction to this whole 'Antonella keeps walking over here' issue to be a quick glance down at the diminishing ground between them. After that; "I'm not sure it's much good to keep your mouth shut and your expression wide open, but that's fair enough, I guess. Though." He smiles brightly of a sudden. "Fuck worrying about what's untoward."

Well, if he's going to go ahead and look at that shortening distance between them, no reason to be coy about it. Antonella takes another step, just one, watching for reaction, her smile a little warmer for the appearance of his. Her answer's easy, possessed of neither pride nor put-down. "You say that like anyone's ever looking at me."

"Would we be having this conversation if no one was ever looking at you?" Cesare's reaction to that dwindling distance is a snicker, which fits well with his smile from a second ago. "I steal from people. You should be aware of that if you intend to keep coming over here."

"You do seem to be an exception," Antonella observes. And she takes another step emboldened by the reaction. And for the warning? Another. She falls shy of invading personal space, depending on how he calculates, stilling within arm's reach without quite broaching into intimacy. "You can't seem to keep your story straight. One moment an innocent, the next a thief. Which story am I to believe?"

Whether she believes it or not, here is a rare moment of candor from Cesare: "Whichever one you want to believe. That's the whole point." He remains unmoved - or, well, unmoving. His arms stay crossed, and his expression remains generally amused (if maybe a little wary, like how you can never be totally sure that a goose that's been making you laugh isn't about to freak out and attack you).

Antonella holds her ground as she declares, "I know what I believe," with a curt and certain nod, satisfied with whatever it is that she thinks she's figured out. Her steel-blue gaze takes in his posture, the set of his arms, his unmoving feet, all of it drawing her smile wider. When she looks up again, her head tips back a bit and she asks, "What was the last thing you stole?" Beat. "And why?"

Cesare does finally shift, but only so he can reach into his pocket, rummaging his hand around for a few seconds before he pulls out the contents. There's a hazelnut, an earring with a decent-sized opal in it, and some dust in the palm that he holds up for Antonella's perusal. "Because why not. What was the last thing you stole?"

Antonella lifts a hand, index finger extended, that she might tip the earring just a little to better see that opal, how the light that filters into the stables glints off it so prettily. "I've never stolen a thing in my life," sounds awfully plausible while her gaze is still dipped in consideration of that pair of purloined peculiarites. When she peeks back up at Cesare, she adds lightly, "Except moments, attention, a heart or two." Lies, those, teasingly made with a crinkle of her nose. "A decorative fan." Her hands come up to gesture, like something unfolding, a blush again coming to her cheeks. "Dark wood. Painted with these blue birds perched upon green leaves."

Cesare offers the earring up without hesitation, tilting his hand in a go-ahead gesture. In case Antonella is keen to possess an earring with no match and/or a hazelnut. "Why did you steal the fan? By my estimation, you ought to be able to buy it, so why not pay for it?" It's not an honestly asked question; that he has theories is evident in his tone.

Antonella takes the earring with only a moment's hesitating, that flicker of a look between the offering and the offerer before she plucks it up and pockets it for herself. "He wasn't watching," she answers, as if it were that simple. "It was there, and he wasn't watching, and…" Her shoulders shrug up as her voice drops lower. "I wanted to know what it would feel like."

Cesare watches the earring disappear, then puts the hazelnut back in his pocket and refolds his arms, a default, non-threatening pose. "What did it feel like?" he asks simply, no baiting, no assumption, as if he's no more than curious about Antonella's perspective.

"Exhilerating," comes without thought. Antonella leans physically into that idea, drawing in a deep breath as she, eyes half-lidded and face upturned, pitches forward the slightest bit as if tilting into the wind. "The rest of the day was a rush. I was giddy. I think I won a few good hands that night. No one came stomping out after dark looking for me." Her gaze dips as she rights herself without thinking about it. "It felt liberating, until it didn't." Smile gone, she doesn't quite frown, but there's plainly evidence of some difficulty there.

Cesare's been there, knows it, nods along with the exhiliaration and all that accompanies it. And he sighs accordingly when Antonella gets to the breaking of the spell, lifting his shoulders in an answering shrug. "Well, maybe that just means that a life of crime isn't for you," he says, gentler than is his usual, flippant custom. "In which case, you probably shouldn't have your servants tongue-wagging that you spent all day in the stable with some riff-raff."

Antonella's grows rather warm and lovely at Cesare's last words, a rather fond look turned his way. Before she catches herself and looks askance at Airs Beneath the Moon who genuinely could not care less about any of this, why have these humans not brough him any apples yet. "Maybe it means I need more reason than because why not. Maybe it means I know what that feels like and can move on to other adventures now. Maybe—" Something seems to dawn on her, smile quirking sideways for a second. When she looks back to Cesare, she concludes, "Maybe I just like disreputable company."

Cesare laughs openly at Antonella and her quirked smile. "Sweetheart, if I had a nickel," or whatever the equivalent of a nickel is, "for every time someone's just liked disreputable company, I wouldn't have to steal hazelnuts and opals." He gestures toward the exit then, though, saying with more seriousness, "And I really don't want your keen-eyed sisters scrutinizing me any more than I have to bear."

If she should take offense, Antonella hasn't figured that out, her smile wider for his laughter. Her brows arch as one shoulder shrugs up at that 'have to' in regards to his habits. One might guess that she's not sold on that point, but neither is she inclined to press. Her gaze flicks toward the exit then back to Cesare. Then with gentle resolution, she poses, "Then maybe we should go somewhere else."

Well, that was not the response Cesare was expecting, if the brows raising and the shift from 'he's getting ready to leave' posture back to 'focused on Antonella' posture is any indication. "All right. I'll bite. You get us out of here with no one the wiser, so no one comes looking, and we can go see just what your threshold for disreputable really is."

Antonella's eyes narrow ever so faintly as she considers this proposition, her gaze going unfocused, thoughts turning inward. With a blink, her attention drops low, and she murmurs, "I'm generally better at talking through my trouble after than before, but I supposed an exercise in forethought is a fine enough place to begin." There's a nod, resolute. Gaze lifted, smile flashed. And then she's off on her way to go see to excuses which might keep her family from worrying after her.

Leaving Cesare to see if there's anything worth stealing before he GTFO…

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License