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Wallace Bixby for Sloane Bixby.
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Mild Confusion
#1
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July 25th, 1890 — MacKay Household, Irvingly
@Conall MacKay

Jesus, Beau was thankful to have moved out of the MacKay house months ago. The few minute walk from the small house he rented with the American's allowed him the chance to process what he was to ask Conall this morning. Greeting Eva's father every morning after becoming reacquainted was hard enough, but the question he had to ask this morning would be far more difficult. Conall and he had always bonded over their mutual hatred of Mr. Langley, and now he feared that hatred to be aimed at him. After all, Beau was asking permission to completely upheave Eva's life.

As though he hadn't already.

Like most mornings, Beau arrived at the MacKay home early enough to escort Eva to work. Only, today he knew she hadn't woken there and was already at the zoo. It was yet another step in his hastily thought out plan to not completely ruin Eavan's life. She — and their baby — deserved better.

One of her cousin's showed him into the dining room where Conall was taking breakfast alone. Everyone else had, apparently, already left for the morning. "Mornin'," Beau greeted somewhat nervously. God save him.
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#2
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It was rare - especially rare recently - that the Irvingly house was truly quiet, and so Conall had taken advantage of the relative silence this morning to take a leisurely breakfast.

Well, leisurely enough, until a familiar face (with the frame of a half-giant) wandered in. “We just can’t get rid of you, can we, Miller?” Conall hailed him in friendly enough jest, and with a brief beckoning wave to boot. He ripped off another piece of bread as he took stock of the man standing there, looking a great deal more uncomfortable now that - for once, apparently - he was not attached to Eavan’s hip.

He suppressed a snort. “You like my company that much, hm?”
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#3
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If only Conall knew the extent of it, Beau thought to himself. The knot of nerves formed a pit in his stomach so heavy he felt he might hurl. Even if her father said no, Beau knew he was still marrying Eva as soon as it could be arranged. He was still going to find a house and establish himself as a decent husband. But, the plan was significantly harder to achieve without his consent. If the family publicly disapproved...well, Eva might as well walk around with her pregnant stomach for the world to see.

"Not quite," he replied with a chuckle as he helped himself to a seat across from Conall. How was he to phrase this? And without telling Conall why it was suddenly so urgent? Beau should've had Eva there as a buffer, though that might've given it away.

Then, much more seriously, Beau announced, "I - uh ... I have a question I need to ask you."
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#4
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Not quite. Well, no. Conall wasn’t blind. Nor had he been born yesterday, for that matter.

Though he hadn’t expected this (at least not today, not... so soon) and so he scrutinised Miller as he sat down, all the humour sliding off the lad’s face. This was a serious talk, then. Fancy that.

Do you now?” Conall said emphatically, picking up a knife to butter his piece of bread. “Shoot,” he said, deadpan, taking a large bite of breakfast. No need to make this too easy.
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#5
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Conall was holding a knife.

Much as Beau liked to believe Eavan's father knew nothing of their antics, it was an unspoken truth that just about all of Irvingly knew. They were inseparable, what with (formerly) living and working together. Beau was infatuated, so blissfully and blindly happy to be near her that he didn't act as careful as he ought to have.

Which, clearly Conall knew, since he was holding a fucking butter knife in the most intimidating manner Beau had ever witnessed. Or, was it just his nerved amplifing everything?

His throat was suddenly as dry as the Arizona desert. Jesus. Beau cleared it once, then twice before finally meeting the gaze of his future wife's father. "I'd like to marry Eavan," he stated less like a question and more like a fact. "And I'd like your blessing to do so."
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#6
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Conall kept chewing.
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#7
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A quiet moment stretched on for what felt like an eternity. The question had been asked, more or less. Was he meant to make a speech? A plea to be granted the permission that wasn't necessarily Conall's to give in the first place. (It was only a formality, after all, and if the older man knew what had sparked the sudden change Beau doubted they'd be playing this game.)

Beau clenched and unclenched his hands beneath the table. They had bonded once over their mutual dislike of Mr. Langley, but would that ire be directed towards him now? Fuck, he hoped not.

Steeling himself for humiliation, Beau sat straighter in the chair and continued to look towards Conall. "Do I have it?"
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#8
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Conall finished his mouthful and smiled wryly. “What, no big speech?” Langley probably would have come armed with one - but he had been a smarmy git in all respects.

Miller had been a different story. Something had obviously been going on, but Conall wasn’t sure what had brought this on. They seemed to get on well together - seemed breezily happy for now - but he had been expecting the winds to blow this burly fellow back to the States at some stage, and let Eva get on with her life.

But at least he was a magizoologist.

“I take it you’ve asked Eavan?” he continued, dropping the butter knife but raising an eyebrow. If she was not inclined to marry him, it wouldn’t matter what Conall thought; and if she was inclined no doubt she would do it anyway. He couldn’t begrudge that, when he’d raised her to be as stubborn as him. And she was a smart girl. (Not that she’d had particularly stellar judgement before, but he would forgive her that mistake as long as she had learned not to make it twice.)


#9
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Conall couldn't actually expect him to give a speech. Beau, who so rarely spoke to any great lengths, wasn't the speech type. He was the knock-your-daughter-up-and-marry-her type, the type to fuck up but try to right the wrongs. People like him had no idea how to properly formulate a speech nevermind deliver it. "No speech," he confirmed with a shake of his head.

"I have." There was no use lying to Conall about having already gotten Eva to agree to marriage. Her father wouldn't consent to it if Beau hadn't. "I wouldn't be here otherwise."


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#10
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He had. So. Conall heaved a hefty shrug, exhaling audibly in a sigh that was meant to say well, that’s that, then. He waved a hand loosely at Beau to affirm that this was his permission, and blinked back the shock at having a soon to be son-in-law at all.

“‘Course,” Conall said gruffly, placing both hands on the table in front of him as he spoke, as if this also was not so obvious that it could go without saying, “if you so much as dream of hurting her, I will make sure you live to regret it and not a day longer. You’ll wish you’d been gored by an Erumpent.”

He wasn’t yet decided what precisely he would do to make him pay for it, but it could not hurt to start planning. Besides that - well, things were excellent, and to that end, Conall grinned.
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#11
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Truth be told, Beau wasn't afraid of Conall, not in the physical sense anyway. He was taller, younger, and more athletic than Eva's father. Beau had extensive experience in fighting and dueling, had even accidentally murdered a man once (much to his shame). There wasn't much Conall could do to him that Beau hadn't already experienced.

Despite this knowledge and confidence in his abilities, Beau knew the single most ability he lacked was Conall's determination to protect his daughter. Yes, Beau loved Eva and would lay down his life to protect her and their child, but at the end of the day Eva wasn't his child. All his hopes and dreams hadn't resided on her head for nearly three decades as Conall's had (even if they all did now). The threat was a solid one, one Beau would do his damn best never to be in need of reminding.

"I wouldn't dream of it." And he meant it wholeheartedly. Beau would've watched her be happy with Fletcher if that was what she wished. Miserably, of course, but what was his hopes to her happiness? "And you have every right to should I forget that."
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#12
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“Good,” Conall said just as firmly, pleased enough at Miller’s general demeanour. He had always figured himself a suitable judge of character - he’d known Fletcher was a pompous ass practically within seconds of setting foot in the country, hadn’t he? - and Miller had not tested his patience too thoroughly yet for Conall to be particularly worried. (He could say that more easily now Miller wasn’t staying in the bloody house.)

“Guess that means you’re sticking around, then,” Conall added, the end of his sentence lilting in a question he wasn’t sure he was ready to think about, which was where they’d go next. He’d come over from the States, perhaps they’d go back, perhaps they’d travel - he was happy for them both; this was what he’d always wanted for her, someone who understood her properly; he had no excuse to complain. He’d have time to let this all sink in, he presumed, absent-mindedly picturing the wedding in the midst of a Scottish winter.


#13
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When Beau agreed to help settle Astra in Irvingly, he did so knowing there was a chance he might never see his homeland again. He had always gone wherever the wind blew, from the mountains of Colorado to the great plains and beyond. There wasn't much of the states he hadn't seen, and while he'd miss aspects of it (the weather being his main complaint) he wasn't too disappointed to never return. Perhaps they would visit one day, or maybe he'd go back to his old zoo to fetch Dmitri. Even so, it wouldn't be to permanently stay, not unless Eva wished for it.

"I'm afraid so," he returned with a slight smirk. He and Conall had gotten along well once, having bonded over their mutual dislike for Mr. Fletcher Langley. Whether or not Conall would continue to like him after he fell into bed with the man's daughter repeatedly for months was debatable. Beau certainly realized if his daughter (Jesus, he hoped they had a daughter) conducted herself similarly he'd be highly uncomfortable. A rather abrupt sense of respect for Conall washed over Beau at the realization. To not have murdered him in cold blood was a remarkable show of restraint.

"I have a plan to purchase a piece of property, hopefully near enough to the zoo so Eva doesn't have to leave it or be far from her family." Beau explained unprompted. Whereabouts this piece of property was was questionable, but this plan had only been formulated last night. Not every detail could be perfectly ironed out just yet.


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#14
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“Good man,” he remarked, leaning back in his chair in mild surprise at how easily the bloke had said it, like moving across the world was a simple thing. Nevertheless, Eva not leaving the zoo if she didn’t want to leave it was non-negotiable, as far as he was concerned, and it was a good sign if Miller knew her career came first. And if he was willing to stay here, settle here, just like that, just for her... Conall liked Scotland well enough, he did, but he also knew full well there were more interesting places in the world.

But he was sure Eavan had missed the farm from the moment they’d sold it, and this was her own chance for something not unlike it. He scrutinised Miller again, only hoping she was as keen on this half-giant as he was on her. Merlin, he must have it bad.

“Then I’ve no choice but to put up with you, I s’pose,” Conall said, folding his arms and giving a long-suffering shake of his head. He was joking, mostly. “You tell her I’m happy for you both,” he instructed, with an awkward hand-wave as if to say et cetera. (Was he allowed to finish his breakfast, yet?)
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