Lujaynne trudged down the path that led to Farrun, welcoming the time to be at home, and dreading it as well. She had been gone a sound six months this time around and she was looking forward to a few weeks of being with her family. Scratch that, she was looking forward to a few weeks not chasing down jobs and performing them, sometimes under grizzly circumstances. Time at home would be another battle she knew she wouldn't enjoy, but she had very little alternatives in the matter. Go home, or stay on the road.
No doubt by now her husband Achavan knew of her arrival, heck, the whole town probably knew she was coming home. The guards stationed along the path had probably already sent in word of her impending arrival, no doubt on Pravin's orders. The guards, no thanks to her prior service with them, also let her freely bunk with them when the day got late, and that was probably also on Pravin's command as well. That made her smile.
Pravin had been her best friend since they were young. She couldn't quite capture that age in which they began to hang around and play together almost exclusively, but she never forgot her ninth birthday, when he'd presented to her a glass rose. It was a cheap trinket, but neither of their parents had been extravagantly wealthy. In fact, Jaynne had no doubts that what coin Pravin had used to buy this had been stretching the means of which his family could afford. But to this day, Jaynne still wore that rose about her neck, upon a dirty silver chain in which she'd begged her mother to get her so she'd never lose it. And she never had. It was the one piece of jewelry she ever wore on her travels. It was the only thing she ever considered to be valuable to her. And the most likely thing a thief would never steal. They wouldn't even fetch a gold coin for this. But to Jaynne, she'd never sell it, not for all the fortune in the world.
"Jaynne..." a local city guard nodded as she passed. Haubin was his name, although it took some prompting to recall. Next to him was a younger guard, probably some green recruit, who merely nodded at her respectfully. Jaynne did the same. The young lad made her flinch, thinking how young she had been when she'd joined the guard with Pravin. Hardly older than him..
Jaynne's head snapped in the direction of her son's voice. Immense joy coursed up her spine at hearing her son's voice calling for her. Nothing could have been more pleasant, more joyous than a welcome home than that. She dropped the bags from her back and squatted down, just as her son came running into her arms. Her armored arms wrapped around his growing body delicately and she stood up, spinning him around gleefully. This was the best part of coming home, to feel the love of her child.
"Hello sweety," came Achavan's voice, more subdued and calculated. He wore a smile for her, but like her returned smile, they were each forced. A charade they carried out for their son. "Welcome home."
Pravin lifted the stack of papers he finished signing and tapped them on the desk a few times to straighten them out before sticking them in an envelope for further filing. Jay was coming home today, his guards had already sent the message forth and he wanted to get out there in time to greet her before her family got to her. One of the few perks of being an officer is that he didn't have to work this day if he didn't want to. However, this paperwork did need his attention before he left, which was why he was finishing it first.
With the envelope sealed on his desk, Pravin strode out of his office, through the officer barracks and finally out into the street. The city guards nodded or saluted respectfully to his position and he acknowledged them in turn. It didn't do to be a prick of an officer as he remembered his officials being when he was enlisted in the guards, but he also had to maintain a respectful authority over them. By acknowledging their acknowledgements, he was doing both at the same time. Most of the enlisted guards appreciated his gestures. Most of the greener recruits that he had to spend his time yelling and disciplining did not.
"Spring in your step, eh son? Lujaynne must be home," came an elderly guard. He had been retained merely out of loyalty to his service for all these years. He had once been one of Pravin's superior officers. Now, he mainly was responsible for taking muster of all the green recruits on a daily basis. But Pravin never forgot to mind his manners around the elderly man.
"Yes sir. How'd you know?" Pravin asked, stopping. He didn't want to, but it would be just rude to pas on by the man without affording him the respect of his position, and age.
"You have that look on your face. That look any man has when he's in love with a woman." The man chuckled, half teasing, but mainly serious.
Pravin bit his lip. The man's words were like a blow to his gut. "Jay's married. She's my best friend, I'm just glad she is home safely."
"If you say so, lad." the man shrugged. "Best be on your way before you miss her." And with that, the man waved Pravin on his way. Him. Dismissing a superior officer. But one thing Pravin had learned was that sometimes, ranks didn't matter. Respect did. And this old man deserved that respect.
Pravin began back on his way, picking up his pace to make up for the delay in going out to meet Jay. He pondered over things as he moved along, thinking on events that had transpired long ago. Like when he had come home from his mission, in love with another woman that he eventually broke it off with. He remembered the surprised look on Jay's face, and then the hurt that followed it. He didn't want to see it at the time, but he couldn't stop recalling it now. Had he been the reason that Jaynne had marries that destitute of a man, Achavan. He hated to think so, but feared that it was so.
Pravin's eyes found her coming up the street and his heart picked up its pace or two. He tried pushing back the joy he felt upon seeing her, telling himself he was just happy to see his best friend, but the old man's words haunted him. Was he in love with her? Or was he romanticizing something that wasn't there. Or was he imagining things? He needed to talk to her before her family...
Damn. He was too late. Pravin pivoted on his heel and turned away, not wanting to see the 'happy' homecoming. He began marching to the bar, where he would inevitably meet up with Jaynne when she sought solace from her family problems at home. Yet another reason he disliked Achavan.
"Do you like it?" Achavan exclaimed, more than asked, extending his arms wide to show off the new abode. Jaynne's eyes flashed with a bit of anger and a bit of joy. He.had.bought.a.new.house. HE.HAD.BOUGHT.A.NEW.HOUSE! If it wasn't that this man was Darrion's father, she might have taken her sword and shoved it through this man's gut. She had been living on the slimmest of fare, pinching every coin when she'd received news that he needed more money at home to take care of Darrion. And she returned home, to a NEW HOME to find out that he had bought without consulting her? That was money she could have used to buy a horse! A horse to make her trips here faster!
"Do I like it?" Jaynne mimicked, her voice neither happy or pleased. Achavan's smile faded. " I have been living on the slimmest of the money I"VE earned just so you could buy a new house with MY MONEY!? What was wrong with the old house?" She seethed, a headache that could only be cured with ale beginning to set in. She rubbed her temples. Wow, the moment she set foot into her house, her NEW house, and already she was fighting with her husband. This usually waited until after the 'weclome home' bedroom affair.
Achavan continued on like nothing was wrong. "The old house was getting cramped. Darrion needed space to, you know, grow." Achavan said, trying his best to be poetic. She had fallen in love with his silver words, and in the course of this marriage, those silver words had ceased, as did the man's money and jobs. He never got them anymore, and she quite wondered if he was ever looking.
"Don't bring our son into this. This was all about you. YOU wanted a new house, and you never consulted me!" Jaynne snapped. Her eyes falling onto strange things she hadn't noticed before. Decorative ornaments all over the house. USELESS decorative objects. What did he need a plate mounted on a wall for? Or a blue and white pained vase with lavender flowers for?
Achavan dropped the act, and scowled at his wife. "You are not here to know what your son or *I* need for that matter. You aren't here to take care of your son, but I am, and he needed a bigger house!"
"I am out there making the money that you and my son can live off of! I don't see you out looking for jobs anymore. You do nothing but stay at home and buy useless shit to look at!" Jaynne yelled, picking up the flower pot and hurling across the house. With a tinge of satisfaction, it shattered on the far wall into thousands of irreparable pieces. Achavan howled as his vase disintegrated. "You have no idea what goes on around here! YOU ARE NEVER HERE!"
"YOU'RE RIGHT! AND I NEVER SHOULD HAVE COME BACK!"
Jaynne stormed out of the new home, feeling only slightly guilty seeing the hurt look on her son's face. She loved her son, and she did all this traveling for his sake. Not for her husbands, but for his. And she was glad to be home to see him, but she wasn't as glad to see her husbands' as much. The new house wasn't hers, and she wasn't welcomed in it. But she knew where she would be welcomed.
"You're buying," Jaynne snipped, sliding into a stool next to Pravin. She knew he'd be here, and welcomed his presence. He was the one person she could rely on to understand how she was feeling.
"They're always on me," Pravin quipped, sliding a pre-arranged mug over to her. Like any experienced guard, she lilted her head back and downed the ale quickly and efficiently, slamming the empty tankard on the table and tapping for another. The tender quickly replaced her ale and she consumed the second one in the same manner as the first. When she got to the third, she didn't choke it back as she had the previous two, but began to nurse it. Pravin waited for this moment before speaking.
"You're here early. Didn't expect you until later tonight."
"He bought a new house," Jayne murmured into her ale, still half amazed by the transition.