A Knife S Edge


Bowen.jpg Cheusia.jpg Indira.jpg

Date: 9/21/10
Location: EW: Lakeshore
Synopsis: Bowen finds Indira venting some frustration while practicing with her throwing knives and he offers to help … only to stick his boot in his mouth once again just as Cheusia shows up and helps remind Bo why he never remarried.
Rating: PG-13 - Adult Situations
Logger: Bowen

Eastern Weyr: Lakeshore

With the brightest of contrasts, what once was a desolate, dry and empty scoop in the ground is now a full and luscious lake. Water laps against the shoreline in a gentle internal current, while in the very center, it seems almost eerily calm. A small sign hung on the highest bit of twine states 'LAKE HOPELESS' in forcibly fancy script, yet there doesn't seem to be any apparent reason for the title. Maybe one of the residents knows.

Late afternoon finds some of the Weyr's residents down at the lakeshore with a few even braving the chilly waters to hike skirts and roll trousers for a bit of a paddle. Indira, is not one of those barefooted individuals. In fact, she is almost quite literally, far from the maddening crowd, down at the furthest curve of the shoreline. Which is probably just as well given her current activity. Her attire this day is anything but feminine or fitting to her position as Headwoman. Well fitted breeches, flat heeled boots, a sleeveless leather vest that laces up the back and apparently (probably due to the warm summer weather) no blouse or tunic worn beneath it, with a pair of wide leather wristbands set to each wrist have the tousled blonde looking more like a huntress or dragonrider. Old feed sacks filled with sand dot a line a goodly amount of paces away from where she stands, the dull thudding of four knives finding their targets in quick succession all that breaks an otherwise fairly pleasant summer afternoon.

Whether on his way back from a ride, or a nap, or delivering some finished leather product to someone, Bowen finds himself walking along the lake curve. Initially, he spies from a distance the headwoman throwing her knives at the sacks. The tanner stops moving and just stands there, watching her from that distance before a hand rubs down the bottom half of his face thoughtfully. After a time of watching her, he turns and heads farther up the lakeshore where he knows some people have been using an area for a a little firepit at night. The stocky man hefts up one of the little two foot-long logs-turned chair onto his shoulder and meanders back to where the headwoman is. Calling to her back, so as not to startle her on his approach and possibly get a knife thrown at him (one stabbing is plenty for this man), Bowen offers, grunting a little, “Ho there, ma’am. Just a moment.”

So engrossed in her current activity, or just that many dragonlengths away in her own thoughts, she's initially not aware of anyone coming up on her, or perhaps that's the impression she chooses to give out. That is until Bowen calls out. Indira's head snaps around, the tight braid of hair swinging out and around almost hard enough to slap across her face, almost, but not quite. Dark eyes flick a briefly appraising look over the tanner, noting the healing bruises and cuts to his face. "Looks like you've been making friends, tanner," this stated with a slightly amused expression in place. And then a curious look is being sent to the logs Bowen bears, her head tipping to one side but not saying anything, waiting for him to do so should he choose to.

Bowen doesn’t respond right away, but that’s par for the course with this ‘slow’ tanner. Instead, he shifts a little under the weight on his shoulders and waits until she acknowledges his presence enough to know (or at least reasonably anticipate) that she won’t throw any knives at him while he’s in her target-area. Only after being reasonably certain of his safety, he hefts the little stool-logs over to the area where she’s been practicing, assuming she must have gotten the feedsacks from Max and not questioning it for now. Setting the logs upright, one on top of the other and then a sack on top of the logs to affect a close to three-foot tall target span, Bo takes his hat off to wipe sweat from it on his sleeve and then puts it back on to move back to stand closer (though not close) to Indira, and out of the way. The bruising and injuries are looking better now, but definitely still noticeable, especially as he shaved today, finally, the beard being a little too hot now in these warmer months for his preference. “I reckon so,” he finally responds dryly in a slow drawl, “A friend will help ya move, though, while a good friend will help ya move th’body. I prefer me a good friend.” Pause. “Like yer son, ma’am.” Throughout all this, his attention is on the target area and not Indira. Then finally he adds, “Got yerself a bit of a good arm, ma’am.”

Hands to hips, Indira watches in curious silence as Bowen sets to work, a slow grin forming when it becomes evident it's a new target he's putting together. Crouching, fingers trip across the selection of knives laid out on a soft length of well used leather, caressing over them with the familiar ease of touches to a long term lover's body. Finally, three are chosen and the headwoman stands once again, settling them easily into a loose grasp in her left hand. Dark eyes flicker briefly over to where the tanner has situated himself, a short sound of amusement, just this side of being a snort erupts, "Shoulda known Max was involved in somehow." Although there doesn't appear to be any irritation in her tone. Attention slides back to the new target set up, "Hope it was worth it," stated with little to no inflection in her tone. Taking up one of the knives in her right hand, its balance is automatically tested while just the barest edge of a smile shows up to indicate she'd heard the compliment given. "You much of a knife man?" eyes slipping sideways and flowing another assessing look over the tanner, more especially his forearms and wrists.

From the sound of things, it seems the headwoman doesn’t know of the prisoner in the stables, and if she doesn’t already know from her own son, Bowen is sure as not going to be the one to spill the beans. Of course, that could change considering said Headwoman is currently in the possession of throwing knives. “I reckon it was,” he states after a long pause. Worth it, that is. And then he goes about looking between the knife in her hand and the new target set up. With the question, however, his eyes stray to the unseen healing knife wound in his thigh and then says, “Y’could say that, ma’am.” Of course, considering the topic of conversation and the direction he casts that blue-eyed gaze before looking up at her, one could take that statement in an entirely different way. “Might be a bit rusty, though.”

Chances are, she -does- know of said prisoner but wary of long ears that might be somewhere about, Indira is playing the ignoramus. However the vaguely approving line her mouth shapes into and then slight nod sent Bowen's way in response to his deeming it worth it, might give hint of this to a person well versed in nuance and body language. One blonde brow tipples upward as the headwoman follows the path the tanner's eyes take. Alright, so she probably only knows the bones of what went down and not the meat of it, so to speak. Attention dropping back down to the knife in her right hand and extending her silence, she suddenly inhales as if having come to a decision and takes whatever steps are needed to close the gap between her and Bowen, holding the knife out to him hilt first, "Now's as good a time as any to brush up on those skills. Especially seeing as how you've got a target all set up and ready to go." A light edge of an approving smile appearing for his initiative in having done so.

If Bowen realizes any miscue of his body language in any of that, he doesn’t seem to show it. But when he approaches him with knives in her hand, the stocky tanner reflexively tenses. He doesn’t, to his credit, turn and run, however. He just watches her from under that hat brim with those blue eyes. There is about two heartbeats before he responds to her offer, and then he tips his hat, murmuring, “Much obliged, ma’am,” before he gingerly takes the offered knife, examining it and testing the weight of it in his hand as he steps over to the mark. He eyes the target a very, very long moment, but remains stock-still, and one might just start to wonder if the man fell asleep on his feet or something, just when he leans back with the knife in one hand and throws it at the target. It misses the sack, going low instead, but there is no question to the sort of power in those muscled arms of his as it thuds a good inch deep into the wood of the bottom log. His footing was fine as was his swing and flick of the wrist, obviously, since the knife did stick. It was just his aim.

If Indira notices the way he tenses when she approaches with the knives, she's not displaying as much in her expression but one can bet there's a margin of internal amusement going on. With Bowen having taken possession of the knife offered, she takes a step back and to the side of his throwing arm. Having never seen the man's skills, she's not taking any chances of becoming accidentally impaled with one of her own weapons. She is however scrutinising every twitch of muscle, every shift of body and distribution of weight as he throws, all response he initially gets is a low whistle, though it might be difficult to determine quite what that's supposed to mean. "You got the power," she notes quite openly as she steps in closer. In fact right up into his personal space and reaches up with her free hand to tip the brim of his hat slightly upward without so much as a by-your-leave. Probably deciding clearer vision might help with is aim. And then moving to stand almost shoulder to shoulder next to the tanner, seemingly heedless off whether or not this might make him uncomfortable, takes up one of the two remaining knives in her hand and holds the other out to him. In soft low tone as if speaking a line of Harper poetry, "Relax, let it flow through you. See your target. Feel it. Embrace it. And then…" she let's loose her own knife, the weapon flying end-over-end in almost amateurish flight until it embeds almost to the hilt dead centre in the feed sack, "make it yours." An odd little smile appearing at the end that he might be forgiven for thinking she were speaking of something else entirely other than what it really is - the words of a woman passionate for this particular activity.

If Bowen were a faster man, he’d have flinched away from her hand on his hat, but as it is, there is merely a movement of shoulders after the fact as he turns his attention on the Headwoman while she speaks. Of his power, he makes no comment. But he watches her throw with more attention for her arm and wrist and where the knife lands than any lecherous stare. Which could also account for the fact that he doesn’t seem to make any correlation to any innuendo anywhere. With a little grunt to either her throw or her words, he takes the next offered knife and studies the target while testing the weight and balance of the knife a little longer in his hand, and studying the leaves nearby for any sign of wind direction. Finally, after making sure Indira is out of the way, he goes still again, staring at the target intently for a long moment before leaning back, drawing his arm back and then through, and flinging the knife out and over to the target. It lands a good bit higher this time, impaling the top of the stacked log, just a few inches off from the bottom of the feedsack, but it sticks in by that same inch or so, the metal glinting a little in the afternoon sunlight.

Considering the rather large difference in upper body strength, there is no way Indira would be able to embed a knife into wood, the way she can into the far softer grip of sand filled feed sacks. As such, a grin of a far more open nature and filled with approval shows up and is sent sideways to Bowen, "Work on your aim and you could bring a wild feline down with an arm like that." She's out of knives now. At least those of the throwing variety, the others laid out on the soft length of leather more fitting of skinning or hand-to-hand combat. Walking over to the line of targets, the headwoman begins gathering up the knives, voice raised so that it carries back to him, unless he's seen fit to join her, "You hunt much?"

The approval and encouragement from the older woman confuses Bowen enough to have him stalling for a response even longer than usual. So he probably looks pretty ungrateful for not saying ‘thank you’ or similarly before she asks him that next question. He eyes her retrieving the knives they had both loosed together at the target, but no, he doesn’t join her there. Staying right where he is for the time being. He mulls over her question and, more pointedly, his response. To Bowen’s way of thinking, asking a tanner if he hunts is a bit like asking a Baker if she’s ever spent time in the vegetable patch. No, it’s true, not all tanners know how to hunt, just like not all Bakers know how to tend gardens, but Bo’s been of a mind to think they all should, if they knew what was good for them and their careers. As such, a more facetious or playfully sarcastic response might come if he were addressing a man, but since he’s addressing a woman, the Headwoman in fact, he simply nods, “A bit, ma’am.” Pause. “Better with m’bow.” Says the man trying to recover from whatever damage his ego took for the fact that she’s currently better than he is at this hitting the sand-filled sack stuff.

If she's aware of any confusion for the encouragement given, Indira's not letting it be known. Chances are, she was simply speaking her mind and as a result isn't expecting any kind of thanks to begin with. Once the knives are gathered up her progress back to where Bowen's remained is a slow, sort of meandering path, a thoughtful expression set briefly on the tanner all to keep her expression from being entirely bland. Lips curve up at the corners in short show of amusement for whatever it is that's going through that mind of hers as she arrives back next to him and holds out the knives for him to take his pick of. "Aye," acknowledging his return on hunting, "Bit rusty on the bow myself." Glancing down at the weapons she holds a crooked grin appears, "Better with the blades." Thereby perhaps offering salve to his ego, in her admittance of her own shortcomings.

Bowen can’t help but stare and watch her walk back to him in that leather vest with no shirt under it, though to his credit he is staring at her face this time, perhaps learning his lesson from the first time they met, and to be sure there is a wariness and tension in his shoulders as she does approach him and hold out the throwing knives to him. His blue eyes examine the knives she offers him, seemingly inspecting them when in reality the gears in his head are just toiling over the whole situation he currently finds himself in. Bo finally makes a selection of two of the knives, exactly the number he threw last time, and finally nods a little to Indira, commenting softly, “Well, I’m sure Max can set ya up with some target practice with th’ bow, too.” And while that sounds a lot worse than he meant it to sound, suggesting that Indira can’t do for herself, his expression remains utterly clueless for the fact. Poor guy. Of course, with the amount of work and promises Bo keeps piling up at Max’s door on behalf of some of the women of the weyr, more than likely the women of the weyr won’t be the only ones giving him a badgering.

On any other given day, Indira can be guaranteed to have used her current attire and one awkward looking tanner to her advantage of amusement. However, this is not one of those days and anyone that knows the Headwoman well enough (those being in scarce supply right now) would know that one less than chatty woman combined with knife tossing practice, probably means something is up. None of which Bowen is likely to know or be aware of. Once he's made his selection a blond brow tipples upward in response to his comment and where a sarcastic and entirely feminist remark would have been tossed his way, she instead stays right there, putting the poor man under close and intent study before finally coming out with, "I was thinking more along the lines of a trade." That being said, the targets become her focus of attention as she turns away and sends a knife flying through the air with slightly vicious bent to it and a small grunt as it leaves her hand. Suddenly swinging her head back to regard Bowen with dark eyes, "Tell me something," the slightly hard line creeping into her features might be warning for the poor man to get out, and get out now, "Why is it that men have this absolute need to possess a woman, hmm? Why can't they just leave it to twisting in the sheets and then walk away after they've had their fun?" Perhaps it's his solid silence in general, or just that she's reached the point of just not giving a damn anymore that has Indira suddenly throwing those rather personal questions at him. But she doesn't wait for a reply, simply sends another knife flying at the stacked target and misses it entirely with a clatter of metal against wood.

Enter Che, who does happen to hear parts of the conversation, but lingering out of the way so not to stick her nose in… But, really, this is Che. "He doesn't believe in possessing women." She offers for the man, "doesn't even think he should make friends with them because it'll lead to sex." Grey eyes flicker to the tanner, searching him, as always but making no particular comment in his direction before her gaze turns to the Headwoman to which she offers a polite smile and an incline of her head, just enough to be respectful. "Ma'am." Opposites seem to work better for her as the greeting follows her statements. Hands are then slipped into her back pockets as she continues to linger away from the line of fire, though there's no stopping them from turning their aim on her.

No, it’s a pretty guaranteed fact that Bowen doesn’t know something is up. In fact, the man can be pretty obtuse when it comes to women in general, let alone a woman he’s actually met twice. However, even if he doesn’t always understand women, he does get the physical cue of being under close scrutiny as she puts him under now, and the stocky tanner manages to resist the natural instinct to take one step away from her. He quietly stares at her with those blue eyes of his all the way up until she turns from him and flings the knife at the targets. Then his eye is on the knife and where it impacted, and as Indira continues to speak, the silent tanner’s eyes slooooowly slide back to her face, though his head remains turned halfway toward the targets. He straightens a little, then, face turning more toward her while his eyes look off in the distance past Indira’s shoulder at a memory of his wife staring at him straight in the face. Instead of getting mad or defensive for Indira’s words, the man actually looks genuinely regretful and guilty, as if he, himself, had tried to possess Indira, as if he, himself, bore the guilt of all men who have done wrongs to all women on all of Pern. He blinks away the memory and looks at Indira again, lifting his free hand to rub down the now clean-shaven bottom of his face and exhale a bit. He looks then at the targets, still saying nothing to the Headwoman, and at an easy pace, he starts off toward the targets, his own two throwing knives still in hand. Here’s to hoping Indira doesn’t have any more with her and throws it at him, but at least Che will be there if she does. And that’s when the voice and words of the Healer register and Bowen stops in his tracks, sloooooowly turning around to regard Che. He looks at the Healer woman, and then the Headwoman, and then back to Che, and then back to Indira, before finally turning again and moving back to the targets. He collects the knives that Indira threw, taking his good sweet time about it, too, and then heads back to the Headwoman, handing them over to her, still without saying a single word for her own, and not seeming to object to Che’s own conclusions drawn. After all, they are pretty much the truth. Sort of. While handing the two knives back to Indira, Bowen then hands the two knives he had been intending to throw with the other hand out to Che, and now, finally, he speaks, a soft husky voice breaking his silence, “Y’said y’didn’t want t’be treated like a woman.” As if this explains everything. Then slides his gaze back to Indira, “I reckon I’ll … leave ya ‘gents’ to yer … throwin’ now.”

Jaw pressed into a mulish line, Indira stares after Bowen as he goes to collect the knives thrown and then with a snort and irritated toss of braid, turns her dark eyed attention onto Cheusia, eyes narrowing slightly as she takes in the comment made and the person making it and then slowly but surely a smirk turns out. She doesn't make reply to what the journeywoman had said, but instead, tapping the blade of one knife against the others comments in an ease of tone far too casual, "If I hear 'Ma'am' coming from either one of you again this afternoon, I'm going to consider the option of using the two of you for moving target practice. Name's Indira. Remember it, use it." And with that she'll shove everything else back down to where it came from and employ a smooth switch of subjects, "Got any feline pelts going beg …" and that cuts off and the normally together and highly sure of herself headwoman is left gaping a little at Bowen for his last. Anger, an all too convenient shield to hide behind, lifts up and sparks in her eyes, "Excuse me?" her grip tightening enough around the hilt of a knife that he might be forgiven for thinking she's about to use it on him. "Hey!" moving to try and block his path if he is indeed looking to be leaving, "You don't get off making a wildly obscure comment like that, out of nowhere and then just walk away." This to his having landed her in the category of now suddenly being viewed as a male. Yup, that last has her totally off balance and more than a little confused, as the brow lifted glance she darts Cheusia's way might tell of.

Cheusia quirks a look to Bowen, genuinely interested in watching him still… Let's just say that the man is slowly becoming more fascinating for his actions and expressions and even the way he carries himself. Her hands remain in her pockets as he looks between her and the Headwoman and she can't hide that look of amusement that slowly crosses her face as he turns to collect the knives. Only then does she allow her attention to return to the Headwoman and she smiles in response for the smirt, "Indira. Didn't know if you were a stickler for titles or not." And she'd rather avoid getting on people's bad sides. Well, Indira's and Master's, at least." Bowen's comment is then drawing her attention to him. And the knives and they are taken very slowly, "are you sure you want to give these to me?" Implications are there but she shrugs and finally responds to the comment of being considered a man. "And you said I had to stop badgering you like a woman. Like I said, I didn't treat you like a woman but I don't think I can stop the badgering."

Despite the fact that he might be finding himself stabbed (again), Bowen is remarkably level-headed and calm, at least on the outside. Yet another trait shared with his gelding runner, which could say a lot about him, really. The stocky tanner regards Indira as she gets angry yet again and if she doesn’t take the other knife from him while Che is relieving him of the two in his other hand, he will simply give a little flick of his wrist to stick it in the ground, but a safe few paces distance away at least. Then he looks at Indira and then Cheusia, remaining still as Indira moves to block him. He tips his hat first to the Headwoman and then to the Journeywoman, but is careful not to say ‘ma’am’ to either of them. To Indira, he quietly says, “Seems t’me I ain’t getting’ nuthin’ right here. Must be rustier than I thought.” Pause, “Indira.” Then to Cheusia, he manages a soft, sad smile, replying just as softly, “I reckon that’s so, Che. Best t’get myself on then.” And weaponless, the tanner steps past, or tries to step past, the Headwoman, and on out of their way.

"Not on my off time," Indira gives a little woodenly in return to Cheusia with regards to titles and their use. She's still a little shaken both by Bowen's inexplicable and seemingly remorseful attitude of earlier and the journeywoman's earlier statement spoken on his behalf upon her arrival. Combined with their most recent exchange, she's currently translating it all to mean she's somehow gotten herself into the middle of some or other unfinished business at play by letting her own frustrations over a certain state of affairs get in the way of keeping her mouth shut. As such she tries to extricate herself from the current situation, despite the words sent to the tanner and her attempt to block his path, by dropping into a crouch and looking to be setting her knives back into place on the length of leather laid out on the ground before her. Having not taken the knife held out to her by Bowen, she flinches slightly when it pegs into the ground nearby. Listening to the exchange between the two going on above her head, her words when they come are quiet spoken but bear no trace of evidence to whatever she's got going on internally, "No, stay," this to Bowen, "Sounds like you two have some sorting out to do. I need to get back to…" well nothing really, not if you discount the bottle of peach brandy that's looking very appealing round about now. Straightening once again, the knives neatly rolled up in their leather cocoon, a polite and carefully constructed smile is in place and she sets her attention to Cheusia, "I'll be dropping passed the infirmary sometime soon to chat to you about setting up areas of triage and what volunteers you might be needing." Leaving the obvious reference being made to Threadfall, unspoken.

Cheusia mms softly, "not rusty. You're just a confusing man. Can't figure you out, yet." She's still studying him and now has made her intent of solving the mystery that is Bowen clear. The knives in her hand are given an idle look before she is carefully setting them aside. "We don't have any sorting out to do. He's stubborn, I'm stubborn and I figure we'll be at this for awhile." Days, weeks, months. Who knows. Attention flickers back to Indira and she nods for the statement, "alright. Thank you… Indira. I'll be around there when you come."

With Indira’s words, Bowen doesn’t stop. Just continues marching past and seeming relieved as the two women start up an unrelated conversation. A few steps farther and with Che’s words, he does pause, but just for a moment, keeping his back to the women as he just stands there. Those with really good ears would hear him sigh, and then he picks his boots up again and continues on, not looking back.

Cheusia's words simply go to further embed the belief that's she's stepped into a sticky situation that's a little too close to home for her liking right now. And so with a nod for meeting up to talk business at a later stage, she very briefly swings her attention onto the departing Bowen and states her appreciation for his earlier efforts with a quietly given, "Thank you," although it's likely to have gone unheard by the man and the press of lips might negate the thanks given to begin with. The smile twitches out in farewell to the younger woman is a pale little thing and then Indira's off back to the sanctity and relative safety of her rooms having entirely forgotten to take possession of the knives the journeywoman had still been holding. She does however; make a point of keeping her path slower and well behind the tanner until it veers off in a different direction.

Closing Credits Theme Music: Limp Bizkit "Break Stuff" (uncensored)

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