Who

Tallel, Milosh

What

Backscened! Milosh finds Tallel to talk, some progress is made, but prideful men will be prideful men and egos bruise easily.

Adult Content: NSFW Topics Discussed

When

One Night on The Plains of The Telgar Step, Just After the Rodeo

Where

The Telgar Steppe

OOC Date 25 Mar 2018 06:00

 

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If I were to treat you like a cur, Milosh, you would know it.”


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The Telgar Steppe

The savannah home of desert runners and hardy herder-folk, Telgar’s steppe-lands along the northern bend of the Western Road are dry and wind-swept. No trees grow here, save around the scant rivers and lakes that dot and thread the terrain. Summers here are quite hot, and the winters are deep, with many a morning finding the low shrubs and grasses gilded in thick, silvery frost. The flatness here might drive a mountain-dweller insane, were it not for the rolling hills that break the monotony of the view every now and again. Navigation must be done relying on sun, stars, sense, and scant landmark alone, for there are no mountains or valleys to take a bearing by for leagues.



It’s been an exciting stay out in the Steppes with the Kheeriin for the Haeyleri, full of festivity and high spirits all around. The rodeo has been a rousing success, and Tallel has watched Lillia’s events as often as possible, filled with pride no matter how she’s placed. His stepdaughter is young yet and can’t win them all, no matter how much he hopes she does.

The caravan second has been spending much of the rest of his time tending to his very pregnant wife and their children - the ones who still need minding, of course. A break has come in the candlemark before dinner begins, Willimina and Taliana dozing while Taimin is off getting to know one of his uncles. Tallel has just finished a barrel bath, his dark hair sticking up in damp spikes as he relaxes upon the steps of their currently empty wagon. He’s sipping from a bottle of Zingari Red, though only enough to wet his mouth every now and then. Otherwise, he’s simply sitting, letting his hair dry, the inevitable thoughts of a father dealing with an impending birth - of twins - rolling steadily through his mind as he gazes out across the Steppes.

There comes a time in a man's life when he's got to swallow his pride and be the one to talk first when in a tiff with someone else. Milosh is in one of those times now, headed towards the home of the mother clan’s Caravan Second. He's been meaning to talk to Tallel for a while now, and hasn't been able to really when being introduced to parents and siblings and cousins and having to make a good impression of himself. Which, obviously, he hadn't done on first meeting the Kheeriin man. A few well placed questions set Milosh on the right path to the soon to be father of twins and soon enough, Tallel comes into view. Milosh approaches and walks into Tal's line of sight slowly. “Greetings Caravan Second.”

Whether the issue between Tallel and Milosh could be considered a “tiff” might be up for debate. They’re both stubborn and proud in their own ways, and Tallel most certainly feels justified in wanting the other man to come to him, as he more or less informed Echo the last time they spoke. No matter how one looks at it, there’s a lot of male ego involved. But it isn’t smugness or vindication Tallel feels when Milosh appears and greets him. He only feels the familial protectiveness that arises where Echo is concerned, a bit of nerves kept beneath the surface, and the tug of his own reins upon his emotions. If the other man is indeed here to talk, he must listen carefully, and let his heart and normally level head lead him. “Milosh,” he answers with a nod, straightening and slipping off the steps to stand and face the man. “What can I do for you?” He’s sure he knows why Milosh is here, of course; he just needs to hear it said.

Milosh wants to run his hand through his hair but is immediately reminded of the topknot he's got going at the moment and has to settle with letting his hands fall to his side. There is indeed a deal of male ego involved here and even knowing he needs to do this, and wanting to do it even, there's part of him that poofs up inside at the idea of having to discuss his private activities with someone. “I was wondering if you had a moment to spare? I think it's time we had a sit down and talked about a few things.”

Tallel resists the urge to fold his arms upon his chest, instead clasping them in front of him. “I do,” he replies civilly, gesturing to invite Milosh to settle on a nearby basket of thickly woven grasses, so sturdy as to be nearly rigid. There isn’t much in the way of actual seating over by the wagon, but he discovered the basket to be a good makeshift perch in the meantime. “Considering the last time that happened was some months ago.” With everyone being avoidant in between. Quite mature on everyone’s part, but Tallel figured it would have been better than possibly punching the other man, which wouldn’t have helped a thing. After a moment of consideration, he offers Milosh the bottle of whiskey he’s been sipping from, but he doesn’t speak further yet.

“Indeed.” Milosh props himself against the basket and for once, declines an offer of whiskey, he wants to be clear headed. “With Echo and I living together and things going as they are… I figured we should clear the air, since I'm not going anywhere anytime soon and well, we both have an avid interest in your cousin's well being…” There's more to say, but Milosh figures this is a good place to start, with the one thing they actually have in common, a want to protect Echo.

The refusal of the whiskey garners an arch of a dark brow from Tallel, and he has to decide whether or not he ought to feel insulted. In the end, it’s a little enough thing that he brushes it aside, but it does make him wonder. He pulls the bottle back and sets it on the step, leaning against the wagon and this time folding his arms for comfort’s sake. “There are things on your part that will always make me question that, if I understand them correctly,” he confesses plainly, “but I also think you are in love with each other, so I know I will have to try to push it from my mind. Let me make a few things clear first.”

He draws a deep breath, letting it out slowly to keep himself even. “It isn’t my intent to stick my nose into the midst of you and Echo’s relationship. She’s an adult for all I can’t help thinking of her as my little cousin, and I don’t need or want details. I just…want her to be happy, and safe. So what I do want to know is what your intentions are with her in the long run.” He doesn’t sound or look angry, just…concerned. Resigned to something beyond his control and wanting to believe the best, if he can just understand. “What does investing in Echo’s well-being mean to you, Milosh?”

Straight to the point of things. Milosh can respect Tallel for that, and doesn't really even flinch when the Caravan Second brings up that four letter L word. Milosh has recently come to a few terms with himself, even if he hasn't said it out loud yet. Milosh patiently lets Tallel get what he needs to say out, and tries to get his own thoughts in order. The question is one Milo expected and is ready to answer. “I don't intend to hurt her, if that's what you're looking for, and I don't intend to leave her either.” In fact, as of late, Milosh has been thinking of a more permanent situation but he hasn't had the nerve to bring it up with Echo yet. And for a moment, Milosh almost feels the need to explain why he was such a cold hearted bastard in the beginning, and thinks to himself that he might need to, if Tallel is to ever understand.

“I ….” Milosh is not ever one to be happy when he's at a loss for words, but he has to do this, for himself, for her, so he screams at his mind to get it's shit straight. “I do love her, and it kind of snuck up on me…I don't blame you Tallel, for not liking our situation much. It definitely isn't what we Zingari would call ‘normal’ by any means, but I can promise you she's happy… and well cared for, and my interest in her well being travels the same road as yours, I want her safe, and happy…” And in my arms always… His mind adds silently, “And I'd like to wed her some day, if you're willing to let me.”

The way Milosh speaks of Echo and their relationship confirms things for Tallel, at least. He has to bite back a comment about hurting his cousin, reminding himself that their bedroom activities are none of his business no matter how much he may dislike the nature of it, as he understands it. He simply has to try to block it out. A slow sigh leaves him as he takes in the other man’s words, and a corner of his mouth lifts. “Love tends to do that. Sneak up on people,” he notes, pushing out of his lean against the wagon. “If it’s wedding that you intend, that…will be more up to her mother than me.” And it’s only just occurred to him that he’s Echo’s closest living male relative, which makes things a little more significant for him despite his aunt Chari having more of a say.

He draws closer to Milosh, studying the man carefully. “There are two things that would put me more at ease with all this, Milosh,” he says. “One would be knowing that she isn’t having to share you anymore.” In other words, leaving his escorting days behind him. “The other would be simply to know who you are. Which is not something anyone other than Echo can claim here, as far as I can tell.” The lift of his brows invites the other man to correct him if needed. “You keep to yourself, yet you strut around as though all ought to know you. Since you wish to have my cousin on your arm, I should hope there’s much more to you than that. There’s obviously something more she loves, and it can’t be the face you put on to the world at large alone.”

Milosh nods. “Of course, but as the male relative I know of, and who seems to be looking out for her well being, I figured I should bring it up to you first.” Milosh does have some moral and social values. As for Echo sharing him… “I haven't been on the escorts rosters in some time…but don't you think that decision is between Echo and I?” As to who he is, Milosh nods, more serious than before. “I am supposed to be illusive, I am, after all, a spy.” But that's not the answer Tallel is looking for, and Milosh well knows it. “I am a man, Tallel, same as you. I was born to the Armida, excelled in acting, and by default, disguise, and so, started spy training in my youth.” This next part comes hard, but not as hard as it had been to tell Echo, perhaps telling her had made things easier for Milosh. “I wed when I was supposed to, even had the joy of fatherhood once. And I lost them both to sickness. After that… well, I became that face you see me put on for the world at large, I buried the man I was and became as stone. It's made me quite the career amongst the spies. But Echo… she… she opens parts of me I thought long dead….”

“I’d say it’s more between you and your conscience, especially if a family is ever on the table,” Tallel counters evenly to the matter of sharing, his jaw tightening subtly around further commentary kept reined back. “And though you are supposed to be elusive, even our spymaster has friends and lets his own people know a bit of him.” A man whom most would think ought to hold himself apart more than the rest. A personality can be revealed without secrets being aired, after all.

Tallel does listen intently to the rest of what Milosh has to say, his features softening as the other man tells of his past. Well. That would make a person retreat into oneself. “I don’t believe a man can become truly as stone and remain a man. She would not have been able to touch you otherwise.” He says it with a faint smile curving his lips. “Love tends to find every chink in the armor. Echo… I have long thought she would be able to charm a man without trying. Her nature - what I believed I knew of her nature, anyway - always seemed the sort.” He sighs, soft and long, letting his tawny gaze stray out across the Steppe once more as he thinks.

“I am sorry for what the past dealt you, Milosh,” he says quietly at last, his eyes returning to the other man. “And I am glad my cousin has helped you begin to move beyond it. I would be ignorant not to acknowledge that I’ve seen some changes for the better in her since she took up with you as well. My greatest hope for anyone is that they would know love the way that I’ve been fortunate to. There’s nothing more incredible, I believe. And it’s not for me to judge what form that takes.”

There’s a small look that Milosh throws Tallel’s way when he mentions the matter of sharing being a matter of conscience, because though he’s right, to a point, well, it is he and Echo’s decision, and no one else’s. However, he doesn’t elaborate on the subject as Tallel at least gets that it’s not his decision to make, or comment on really. As for Javid having friends….well, some people have them, and some don’t, Milosh has a few. “It’s been a hard deal, knowing who to trust the last few turns, don’t you think? I kept to myself because it was better that way. Though, I do have friends amongst the people, Tallel. I’m well acquainted with Igraine and her mate, and the pregnant dancer, Reveka. I’ve trained with her a bit, she taught me a few things. And perhaps, if you were to ask around the Armida camp, a few would tell you things about me. I am not as much shadow as you might think.”

As for becoming stone, Milosh might agree with Tallel on that a bit. And as for apologies, Milosh shrugs. “There wasn’t anything that could have been done about my wretched past Tallel, the hand that was dealt to me was done so for a reason, even if I still haven’t quite figured that one out yet. Fate’s a fickle woman my friend, very fickle indeed.” He smiles when Tal mentions Echo helping him through things and he laughs when Tallel mentions the changes in Echo too. “Tallel, that woman has always been as she is, vibrant and strong-minded and loveable. She just needed someone to nudge her off the edge and into the thick of life…she did the rest herself, I take next to no credit for her blossoming the way she has. And as for me…well, I don’t know that she helped me through it more than forced me to face it finally.”

“If you wish to marry my cousin, it isn’t others I want to hear about you from,” Tallel remarks pointedly, though there’s no heat to it, just factuality. If Milosh thinks that having Tallel learn about him through third parties would be acceptable under the current circumstances, he’s missing the thrust of the caravan second’s words. “If I hadn’t discovered Echo’s involvement with you the way I did, I’d be a friend to you as we speak. As things stand, there is much work to be done between us in terms of trust.” And in a nutshell, that is the primary issue Tallel struggles with when it comes to Milosh. “It is trust I am willing to work toward, but there is pride to be swallowed. On both our parts. And if Echo has not explained some of where I am coming from, I must make that clear as well. If we can agree on that much, along with wanting the best for my cousin…it will be a start.”

Milosh laughs a bit, shaking his head as Tallel talks of not wanting to hear about him from other sources. “And yet, Sir Second, you’ve not asked me a single thing in regards to what you want to know. I don’t give up information on myself just because I can. If you want to know something man, ask. Otherwise my life is my own and I’ll share it as I choose.” There’s no malice from Milosh either, but trust is a two way street. “You’re right there’s much work to be done in terms of trust, and while you don’t trust me Tallel, I don’t trust you either. It shouldn’t matter how Echo got involved with me, or even, how you found out about it. But it did happen the way it did and from the start you haven’t liked me, simply because of the way your cousin and I choose to …. Interact… and I haven’t been the only one on the avoidance road as of late.” And Milosh is tired of feeling like he’s the ONLY one at fault here, and for being judged for something that ought not be anyone’s business. “Echo hasn’t explained much beyond that you disapprove of our bedtime activities and don’t understand them, which, In my opinion dear leader, is not a good enough excuse to treat me like a dirty curr picked up off the side of the road.” And once again, Milosh is offended, pride and hackles prickling up as once more, he feels he’s not being given a fair turn. Would Tallel always think him a monster?

If I were to treat you like a cur, Milosh, you would know it,” Tallel counters, tawny eyes narrowing subtly in light of the other man’s bristling. “I haven’t denied being avoidant, and here we are, face to face, right now, so let’s just push that to the side, shall we?” Tallel steps closer still to Milosh, now unfolding his arms and clasping his hands behind him, leaving himself open. He has nothing to hide.

“I do not care about what you and my cousin get up to in bed any more than you care about what my wife and I do there, and I have not for some time. Shells, I have been studying Healer treatises on the workings of the mind trying to gain an understanding so that I can move past my own difficulties and just accept and not think about the finer points anymore. But remember that my first impression of you was not as a man beyond a face I could barely summon to mind, but as a collar around my cousin’s neck. A symbol of ownership, domination, possession, things that go against every moral fiber of who I am and things that embody pride in the extreme to me. That is what has stayed with me and why I haven’t liked you, not because of how you and Echo ‘interact,’ as you put it. And first impressions are very difficult to get past. I wish that were not the first sign of you I had seen, but it was, and that can’t be changed. I want to see beyond that first impression, but right now you are only reinforcing it.”

As for the matter of knowing of who Milosh is, “I can ask for facts about you from now til dawn and not have a better measure of your character. Facts are easy. The measure of a man is better found in how he interacts with others, deeper questions, how he handles different situations. I would gladly lay myself bare in all of those things, faults and all, to grant you a view of who I really am. And I would challenge you to do the same, if you don’t fear it. Otherwise…” Tallel takes a step back now, hands unclasping to hang at his sides. “Walk away from me, with no clearer view to be had for either of us. Perhaps that might be better anyway, all things considered.” Milosh is bristling, Tallel is digging in; there may not be any further headway made at this point. Parting ways for a breather before round two might be the best call for the moment…if they can both concede it.

Milosh gives a curt nod of agreement to Tallel's first, hands sliding into his back pockets, rather than crossing over his chest. A man must swallow his pride now and again, there's no denying that. And Milosh doesn't have anything to hide either, not anymore. Something in Milosh's expression may convey a slight disbelief when Tallel speaks of not caring what he and Echo get up to behind closed doors, but he'll bite his tongue and listen rather than retorting something he might regret later. He's logical, even if he can lose his temper and be a complete jackass sometimes, and knows when to back down.

"If there is something you cannot or do not understand about the dynamics of this sort of relationship Tallel, I would more than happily answer any questions you might have. I've been a teacher of the seductive arts for a long while now. Another thing, by the way, that I have recently retired from." MIlosh has taken very different approaches to his career since deciding that the only woman he wants, ever, is already in his arms. And he has no intentions of retiring spyhood, but he'll now be teaching just disguise technique and some acting skills. He wants to bristle again at Tallel's description of Echo's collar, wincing as the man continues. He wishes he could get the man to understand that it had been his cousin's choice to wear it, her choice to enter into the relationship with Milosh, that she could walk away at any time and Milosh would never stop her. That that side of their relationship had subsided much as of late…but this must be approached delicately, if at all. "I am not trying to reinforce a bad impression Tallel, and I admit to more than my share of pride, but you cannot deny that even now you have much decided the make up of my character, without having observed those things that make up a man's worth.”

"Facts are indeed easy, you've got the right of it there, and easily manipulated. I can't literally show you right this moment my worth in deeds and interactions, it's impossible. I've seen you working with and observing Aztrexia's classes. Have you ever sat in on one of my disguise classes? Seen me with my students? Observed Echo and I in public? We've been about a lot during our stay here with the Kheeriin. I've met your aunt. Respectable woman." And Milosh means that, he's got a subtle and near awe struck respect for Echo's mother, already. The woman is a fearsome dragon in her own right. "As for the deeper questions Tallel, I don't fear them, but I can't answer them if I don't know what you're asking, you actually do have to ask a question now and again to get to know someone. I am not afraid to lay myself bare, faults and all, but again…I can't answer questions I haven't been asked."

Milosh has no intentions of walking away, he'll play ring 'round the bush all day and beyond, as long as it takes to make Tallel realise that he values Echo, loves her, and really does have the best intentions towards her, even if they are a bit of an odd couple. Milosh is digging in this time.

It may be that Tallel will never fully be able to shake that first impression, the explanation about the collar and the attendant mental imagery that arose having been quite beyond his control. But he is determined to move beyond it…even if Milosh makes it difficult. He’s convinced he’s already made it difficult for himself, after all. At this rate, he may never truly like Milosh, but Echo loves the man, which means there is something to him that Tallel must learn to see somehow. “I can deny it,” he counters with a scowl, “because I have decided nothing about your character. I merely have impressions I am open to having changed, no decisions made. I know it is hard to tell the difference, but do not presume to know how I think. In turn, I’ll do my best not to presume to know yours.”

The caravan second draws a steadying breath and forces himself to relax a bit. “And no, I have not observed you and Echo in public because I am a bit occupied with a very pregnant wife at the moment. Perhaps you and Echo might take around the Haeyleri fire along with the rest of us while we’re still here. Once we’re home I will certainly observe some of your classes, and we’ll have much more opportunity to get the measure of one another.” Not being on the verge of insomnia with worry over Willimina and their coming twins will probably help his demeanor and thought processes considerably.

“In the meantime…” He does have a few questions to start with. And while the rest of his family still naps or is involved in the rodeo, he’ll pose them, listen carefully to the answers, and start to let his opinion of Milosh become more fleshed out as best he can. It will be a start, anyway.

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