Adventures In Dragonsitting


Ahnika.jpg Jhath Max.jpg

Date: 10/3/10
Location: EW: Lakeshore
Synopsis: Realizing that some positive memories and interaction needs to be made between Jhath and Max in order for them, in the long run, to learn to trust one another and get along, Ahnika leaves Max to "dragonsit" for a spell at the lakeshore while the weyrling herself goes swimming. In the end, the green dragon and beast manager come to an understanding.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Ahnika

It’s a few days after that fateful night with the confrontation between big angry green dragonet and boyrfriend that Ahnika and Jhath are at the lakeshore once more, this time it’s midmorning and sunny and warm, before the lunch meal for either weyrling or dragon. One of the outcropping of rocks has become ideal for this pair for a particular little exercise that Ahnika likes to call ‘Dodge-sack’. Having climbed up on top of the outcropping, Ahnika is barely looming over her tall green, a handful of little pouches of sand at her feet. The camo-green dragon seems only too excited about this game, prancing a little around the bottom of the rock, wings partly extended and watching up at her lifemate. There is no conversation given aloud, but by the meaningful looks exchanged, there’s no doubt that one is being held internally. Suddenly, Jhath snaps her wings open wide and gets into a sort of crouch, head lifted to watch for ‘incoming’ little sewn pouches of sand, as Ahni begins randomly tossing them down at her. Jhath works hard at trying to dodge them. Some hit and some miss. The ones that hit, harmlessly, earn a hissing sound, though the testiness is more at her own slowness for not dodging the pouch than for the pouches themselves. In this game, the pouches represent Thread, of course, so each hit is something to be taken with a little more sobriety than just losing the game. When Ahnika is done throwing all the pouches, she peers over the edge of the outcropping, another silent exchange made and then Jhath is grabbing the pouches and tossing them back up at Ahni for another go.

Walking along the lakeshore, an obviously pregnant Spring Breeze in tow, comes Max and Waine, the two deep in conversation with the beast manager shooting his ‘hand a dark look. The burly ‘hand’s shoulders roll in an indifferent shrug. With an expressive roll of eyes, Max looks away and then a slow grin starts to peel out as his gaze finds Ahnika and Jhath. A few quick words given to Waine and he’s handing the halter rope over to him before shoving hands into pockets and making his way over to where the two appear to be playing some sort of game. Stopping a short distance away, he watches in silence not wishing to interrupt, an openly warm expression in place and quite obviously not bearing the green any grudge from their last encounter. Not that he’s exhibiting that is to say.

As Jhath grabs some of the pouches from the ground with her muzzle and tosses them up to Ahnika, the redhead grabs some, while others just hit the surface of the stone where Ahnika sits. A few get thrown up to her and Ahnika nearly catches them then fumbles and they fall again, only to be grasped and tossed up again. And so it is with the last sand-filled pouch that comes at Ahni that the redhead spies Max standing a short distance away. She brightens noticeably, not that she was in a dour mood before, and that’s when the pouch hits her in the face and knocks the redhead off her grip, rolling off the edge of the outcropping and momentarily out of sight. Jhath bugles in alarm, and, as she is right there, hops the short distance around the boulder outcropping. As big as she is, her back half of her tall, stocky green body is visible, tail swishing in obvious fretting.

Max seems inclined to simply stand there and watch, a margin of amusement in place as he tries to figure out the nature of the game being carried out. It’s when that pouch hits Ahnika in the face and she goes tumbling off the outcropping that he leaps forward instinctively with a startled “Jays!” falling from his lips. Except that, he finds Jhath blocking his path and the green is set with a narrow eyed look, or at least, the butt end of her is. “Ahni?” edging around to the side to try and get passed the dragonet in order to get at her bonded he lifts a warning look up to her, “Bite me and I’ll bite you right back.” Yeah, like that’ll work out well in the end. “Just want to see if she’s okay,” still directing his words to Jhath as keeps moving closer to where he’d seen the redhead fall, “Shift your butt over so’s I can get in there.”

As Max and Jhath vie for checking on Ahnika and come around the rockface, it becomes clearer that the redhead hadn’t fallen all the way down, having caught herself on a ledge and is hanging there, not too sure how far the drop is below her and not really wanting to risk her grip by looking. “Max!” Ahnika cries out as Jhath once again tries to put her head under Ahni’s boots for added support, overconfidently believing she can lift the weyrling back to safety with just her neck-muscles alone. Which if the huge green was done growing, she might actually be able to, even at this age, but considering her bones and muscles are all still developing and are delicate, it’s certainly too dangerous for Ahni to put her full weight on her yet, and the redhead swears under her breath, “No, Jhath! Shells, I told you, you can’t support me yet! Max!” Then gasps as one hand gives way while Jhath warbles at Max, too concerned for her lifemate to grumble at his words and shifts a bit so he can get under Ahnika better. Her feet dangle about ten feet from the ground, likely about a foot or two out of Max’s reach, depending on how long his arms are relative to his height.

“Shit!” this was once Jhath moves enough for Max to get in passed her and assess the situation. “Hold on Ahni…” and then her one hand slips, “Don’t let go!” Were the green bigger and that bit stronger, he’d probably have taken the risk and used her like a living ladder to clamor up so that he could reach Ahnika. As it is, she’s not. “You can’t push her up, you’re not strong enough yet,” this to Jhath and then he’s quickly adding more instructions, “Get your head in under her butt and lower her down as far as you can when she let’s go,” realizing there’ll come a point of angle to gravity where it might become a little difficult for the young green to bear the redhead’s weight for too long, “and I’ll catch her, aye?” Hoping to Faranth Jhath understands what he wants her to do, he shoots a worried look upward, “You hear that, baby?” planting his boots firmly and bracing for the catch, “Now let go, we got you.”

The seconds tick by and Ahni’s grasp continues to edge out with her weight until her white-knuckled grip is but the tips of her fingers. Not daring to look down, she is going by sound alone and counters Max’s suggestion urgently, “No … I’m … too … heavy …” but in more of a grunted mutter for not having the lung-capacity to shout anymore. Jhath seems to get Max’s idea and lifts her wedge-head up under Ahni’s bum, crooning encouragingly as she does, “No …” Ahni says again, though her protest is moot as her hand slips off the edge before Max even finishes telling her to let go. There’s a squeal of alarm as her butt sinks more against Jhath’s head, and the weight of which is more than Jhath expected, as Ahni knew, and the green’s head dips downward with the weight, still trying to hold her up nevertheless, just unable to. Jhath bellows briefly in alarm, and Ahnika slips off the green’s muzzle, heading straight for Max’s arms. Still, even if she is freefalling the last couple of feet, the bracing of the green did allow for some measure of angling Ahnika’s trajectory better, and slowing her descent a little.

He’d realized Jhath wouldn’t be able to hold Ahnika’s weight and had been counting on her to break the redhead’s fall more than anything else. Still, it’s another muttered curse of worry when her grip finally gives way and yet another as she goes slithering off the front of the dragonet’s face. The drop however, is still enough that even for having been prepared for it, when Ahnika hits him, and he wraps strong arms about her, the momentum is enough to knock him over to land flat on his back with a loud, “Oof,” as the air forces out of his lungs. At least she had something soft to land on, right?

If it weren’t for the connection, Ahnika would be scrambling up off of Max as soon as they impacted and over to Jhath to check on her. As it is, the redhead is able to do most of the checking mentally, though to be sure she’ll also give her a physical looking over in a moment. As such, the multi-tasking green weyrling could be perceived as caring more about Max first, as she grips at him upon impact and rolls off him a little so that she is mostly just leaning over his face, “Are you okay, Max?” comes her breathless question immediately, her eyes going in and out of focus for a time while her hands cradle his face. “Max?” Jhath shakes her head and neck out briefly, and appears no worse for wear. Only Ahnika would know of the tenderness in her neck, not a sprain, just a little overuse of those muscles for that brief time. Once she more or less shakes it off, Jhath comes over to crowd her and Max again, peering down at him from behind Ahnika’s shoulder and crooning at him in both question and encouragement.

Oh, ain’t those stars purdy!? Max at least hasn’t been knocked out cold and so with Ahnika rolling off of him he’s able to suck in a large breath of air. Blinking a few times as it takes his eyes a moment to focus on her face, a grin slowly emerges, as he notes, “You keep falling for me.” And then he’s looking passed her and to that wedge shaped head, that same grin still in place, “Thanks for not biting my butt.” That to Jhath and now he’ll try sitting up, hand going to the back of his head and rubbing gingerly at the back of his head where a nice knob is starting to form and cast an assessing look over the redhead, “You okay, baby?” and then another glance up to the dragonet, “She didn’t pull anything did she?”

“You keep catching me,” Ahnika grins in reply, leaning down briefly to brush her lips to his forehead before straightening and awkwardly getting to her feet. Jhath warbles in response and Ahni supplies, “She said you did well, Champion, and you and your butt are worthy of a stay of execution for another day.” Jhath can have a sense of humor. Sometimes. Ahnika dusts herself off before offering her hand down to him, “I’m fine. Well, my fingers hurt a little,” said as she eyes them a moment, “but they’ll be okay. And Jhath …” he voice trails off as she looks up at the now 10-week old tall green dragonet towering over them, “She says she’s fine and she feels fine, but,” she looks down at him again, hand still offered, “We’ll have a closer look just as soon as you’re on your feet again.” And she pauses to add, “Thank you,” more softly, both for coming to her aid, and for working with Jhath, teamwork-wise.

“Always,” Max murmurs to catching her, his eyes going a little squint in following her press of lips to his forehead. Jhath gets given the eye for her brand of humor and he tips two fingers to his forehead and away again in a dryly amused salute of response, “So kind of you, Jhath.” The hand offered by Ahnika is taken and he hauls himself up to his feet again. Keeping a hold of her hand he reaches for the other and after inspecting her scraped up fingers gently presses kisses to each in turn and then dark eyes seek hers out, “You scared the shit out of me.” He admits quietly in response to her thanks. Releasing one of her hands his attention goes to the dragonet next casting an appraising look over her wedge shaped head and then the long neck in particular as he takes a step closer, “May I?” The question is sent to both the redhead and green alike as he looks for all intents and purposes to be about to reach and run a testing hand along those neck muscles. He’s no dragonhealer by any stretch of the imagination but in having experience with runners knows what knotted muscles feel like.

There comes a soft rumbled warning from Jhath as he takes Ahnika’s other hand, but then it is oddly cut short, either because Jhath soon realizes what he’s about or Ahnika explains it silently. The redhead calmly watches him inspect her hands and lay kisses upon them. “Isn’t the first time,” Ahnika states softly of her scaring him, “Probably won’t be the last time either.” It is somewhere between playful tease and sobering commentary. She is a dragonrider now, after all – well, the riding is yet to come. Her scraped hands squeeze his own in some kind of apology for scaring him both now and in the future, futile gesture though it probably is. As he lets one hand go, and takes a step closer to Jhath, Ahnika steps with him, and there comes no rumbling as Jhath lowers her head for it and her neck to be better within reach. “Yes,” Ahnika answers succinctly to his question, and then raises her free hand to the back and side of her neck, “It’s not sprained, but I can feel it, in here. A little tender.” And then she moves that hand up to gingerly feel along the cords of muscles on the side and back of her neck, murmuring, “Shouldn’t have, Nobleheart.” Jhath snorts her disagreement there.

All Jhath’s rumbled warning gets from Max is a brow lifted look sent her way and then his attention is back to Ahnika, whatever it is that her words have engendered within the man is carefully suppressed with just the barest hint of shadowing in his eyes to suggest there’s anything at play mentally. As such, it’s a somewhat lackluster smile that appears as he nods, “Aye, I know, love.” And leaves the notion of further risks of injury to the redhead there, not prepared to get into it with her about something he can do little about. With Jhath lowering her head to provide easier access to her neck, a smile appears for the obliging young green, “Hey there, darlin’.” His voice held low and soothing, much like used with his runners. Stepping in closer, the beast manager glances back Ahnika’s way as she shows him where it is that the dragonet is feeling tender and then nodding lays his hand palm flat against her hide in the indicated area and presses a firm but gentle sweep up and down the cords of muscle. After a moment or two of such exploratory massaging, his hands fall away and he steps back again with a light wrinkle of nose, “I ain’t no dragonhealer but it don’t seem like she’s done anything much more’n strain her muscles a little. I got some salve I use for the runners down the beast caverns I can have sent up for you. Shouldn’t do her no harm. Bit of numbweed and a whole lot of oil, my Pa used to use it on Argonth. Just massage it into her hide over the muscles next time you oil her and it’ll help loosen the muscles so’s they don’t go tight.”

Ahnika seems all too eager to drop the topic of potential further injuries and scaring him. A light throaty rumble greets Max’s greeting, not sounding so grumpy this time. She does produce a deep, alto whine at his touch, turning her head to nudge him in the shoulder for it unless he ducks, which earns a firm, “Jhath,” from her lifemate and she goes still with merely a brief snort. Then Ahnika returns her attention to Max, stepping forward to feel along the neck herself a little more lightly until she turns it into a fond stroking of the green’s neck and headknobs, smiling over at Max and nodding, and trying not to look too guilty for having been the cause, “Thank you.” There’s a slight pause, likely holding two conversations at once here, and then Ahnika says, “I was hoping to catch you here, actually.” This is said as Jhath, already bored apparently, regards the top of the outcropping of rocks and the remaining sand bags.

He doesn’t duck in time and Jhath’s muzzle catches him square on the shoulder. Biting back an expletive, “I ain’t gonna hurt ya, darlin’ and I aint’ falling for that neither. Not with the way you tried to put the scare on me a few days back, aye? You’re fiercer than to whine for a little poking and prodding.” Not that poking and prodding had been what he was doing but understanding her likely to be unhappy with the unfamiliar touch and thus using flattery to her courage as means of trying to convey that to her. He’ll even go so far as to pocket his hands in a show of them being ‘safely’ out of contact with the green. His smile goes to Ahnika, warm, “I’ll send Brolan up with it,” and then widens into a crooked grin as she states she’d been hoping to catch him, “Shall I bend over now so you can kick my butt or was it something else?” assuming to be something to do with having upset her bonded a few days back.

Another deeply throaty rumble that one can almost imagine ‘damn straight’ coming from the tall and stocky green as she responds to Max’s stroke of her ego, apparently mollified, though distractingly looking up now. Ahnika grins with Max’s words, pleasure at his handling of her dragon clearly evident. Then she nods when he brings up Brolan, before glancing at Jhath and the green’s preoccupation with the sand-filled pouches up top, staring up at the flat-top as if willing them to just simply jump down at her with her eyes alone. “Later, Jhath. You should rest that neck of yours anyway,” seeming to remember to at least hold part of the conversation aloud for politeness sake. And then she is looking back at Max, stepping forward to reach for his hand, “If you bend over, that’s just asking for Jhath to bite it off.” And hopefully, the weyrling is meaning his butt and not something else. The dragonet croons woefully at the game being concluded for the time being, but is either ignoring the statement about biting anything of Max’s off or missed it in her preoccupation. If he allows her to capture his hand, she leans up to brush a light kiss to his cheek, and then tries to lead him back around to the other side of the oversized boulder where her leather bag was left, “It’s hot. I want to go swimming instead of my run. I’d feel better if you sat here with Jhath.” Indeed, she means him for a dragonsitter, apparently. “You two need to get better acquainted anyway if the other night is any indication.” Jhath snorts. Although, she’s apparently not putting up such a fuss about him touching Ahnika now, or her touching him, so helping Jhath to save Ahnika must be worth something to the green.

The teeniest edge of a smirk meets the rumble coming from Jhath but hopefully she’s not too adept at reading human expressions yet, a wink being sent Ahnika’s way for her grin. Max was just about to offer go up and get the green her sand pouches but refrains from doing so when the redhead wisely calls the game concluded for the time being. His hand is easily captured by hers, fingers automatically lacing between hers and a crooked grin arriving for the potential of the dragonet biting his butt, “She’d have to catch me first,” and entirely roguish light glinting in his eyes, “and then you’d have to kiss it better.” With that kiss to his cheek, the beast manager looks almost disappointed for being led back around the boulder and out into the public eye, even moreso when she then states she’s going swimming and rather than enjoying an eyeful of wet Ahnika in her bathing suit…is being asked to dragonsit. Dark eyes swing over to Jhath in such a manner that one can almost hear the petulant thought of ‘Damn dragon!’ Dubious the expression that settles back onto the green weyrling, “She gonna stay put?” Because wrangling a dragonet that’s trying to stay glued to it’s bonded side and that is already standing as tall as the green doesn’t sound like he’s going to come off too well at the end of it.

“She’d catch you,” Ahnika says matter-of-factly, confident in her green, which is echoed in the confident rumble from the camo-patterned dragonet, “But I’d kiss it better,” she agrees with a nod and a glance over her shoulder at him, “Along with other things.” Oh, she is pushing the limits, to be sure. Clearing her throat as she gets to the leather bag, she merely gives her shadowing green a look and Jhath straightens and snaps her wings wide for cover from prying eyes as Ahnika tugs her tunic up over her head, belatedly telling Max, “Close your eyes,” with a rueful grin as she tosses the tunic at his face, which probably doesn’t smell the best, unless Max just likes the smell of her skin lightly “perfumed” with her perspiration. “And quit pouting,” though he wasn’t really, “The lake’s right over there. I won’t be far. You might even be able to still see me at times.” She gets out of her breeches next and then undoes her supporting garments before digging around in the leather sack for what makes for a swimsuit in these parts, probably translating into some short-type affair and halter top. To his question, Ahnika already knows the answer, but asks anyway, “Jhath? Will you keep Max company while I go for a swim?” The dragon grumbles throatily, then punctuates it with a croon. “She will. I brought the book, too, which will help. Just in case. You might also see if you can teach her a thing or two about playing cards. Or, you know, talk to her?” Ahnika gives him a meaningful look. “The sooner the two of you,” including Jhath in this part of the conversation, “reach some kind of accord over me, the sooner things get easier for all of us.” Jhath snorts, but Ahnika merely smoothes down the suit affair and looks up at her green fondly, “Okay, done. Thank you, Jhath.” And the dragon settles her wings back into place around her body, while Ahnika starts to head off, unless Max stops her, “Have fun, you two!”

Along with other things…? A brow goes up and Max sends that same roguish grin back to her, “Oh really now?” And then glances over at Jhath in such a manner as to suggest he might actually be contemplating getting bit on the butt, just so that she can kiss better. And then everything goes dark as her tunic lands on his face. Clearly he doesn’t seem to mind her perspiration perfumed scent for he takes his time pulling the item of clothing off of his face, to reveal hooded eyes. Just the slight tension stringing across his frame any indication as to the effect her stripping off in front of him has on the man. Then again, that could be due to just having been told to quit pouting. Which he totally wasn’t. Riiight. And no, he’s not closing his eyes either but is at least keeping his lecherous thoughts to himself. Finally a bit of a smile with dubious edges appears as he casts a look up the dragonet, “Talk to her? Going to be a bit of a one sided conversation that don’t you think?” Oh he’d very much like to stop her. Being left there to dragonsit a green that at best seems only to tolerate him and at worst has usurped his role in the redhead’s life (to his way of thinking) but he’s not about to look the petulant idiot in this situation and so simply sends a warm smile to the redhead stating with all the nonchalance he’s likely not feeling, “Aye, we’ll be fine, baby. Enjoy the swim.” The one he’s not taking with her. Cue the internal pout. Once Ahnika’s a good enough distance away, the beast manager tears his eyes off her retreating back and sends a wry look up to her green, “So what do you want to do? Talk, or have me read that book to you,” not sounding too enthralled with the latter as he settles himself down with his back against a boulder, silence stretching out for a bit. Reaching for a pebble lying nearby he picks it up and starts toying with it, words coming quiet and probably not easily for the man, “She was mine first you know.” Chancing a glance then up to Jhath to see if she in anyway understands how her coming into their lives has changed things up.

As Ahnika heads off toward the cool waters of the lake this late summer morning, Jhath straightens her posture, more or less sitting up and watching her bonded depart. Those used to reading the body language of an animal would perhaps note the tension in the dragon’s frame and the slight lean forward, suggesting – in Jhath’s own subtle way – that like Max, she too would rather go with Ahnika than stay here, but she does her duty, as she sees it, and remains behind. Ever watchful of her lifemate, but remaining behind nevertheless. It’s not the first time they’ve been separated, to be sure. Ahnika has to bathe and eat sometime, after all, and if Jhath were dozing after a meal, Ahnika would just be having a run around the lake or bowl anyway, which is its own distance, too. But in this case, the dragon isn’t exactly comfortable with the situation either and it’s told in body language. To Max’s question, the green’s head turns to briefly regard the leather bag Ahnika left, knowing the book to be within it, and then Jhath regards Max as he situates himself against the boulder and continues. There’s a brief discontented rumble in her throat to his last statement, punctuated with a soft snort, likely at the notion that Ahnika belongs to any man as if she is some kind of trophy, despite the fact that Jhath, herself, refers to her as ‘my Ahnika’, or it could be that Jhath is merely grumbling for the fact that Ahnika's heart does, indeed, belong to Max, at least in part, or perhaps it was Max's use of the past tense that has the green muttering in her own way, and then Jhath returns her attention to the redhead, who is now wading into the water in the bright, sunny distance.

Max goes silent for a while, merely sending a frown up to the green for the discontented rumble she sends by way of her response to his words and then his attention flits over to the lake. “Aye, I’d rather be down there with her too,” he gives glancing up at Jhath having noted her body language from earlier. The pebble he’d been toying with now starts to get rolled between the fingers of one hand, moving across their tops from left to right and back again in idle motion. “I ain’t going nowhere,” he suddenly states attention still on the lake, “Not unless she wants it that way. Which I reckon means…” sending a sidelong glance the way of the dragonet, “we’re gonna be stuck with each other for a very long time.” Suddenly he flips his hand over, catching the pebble in his palm and closing his fingers over it, “This would be a whole lot easier if you could talk.” A sigh exhales and he moves to lean his head back against the boulder and then winces as that newly formed knob comes into contact with the hard surface. Rubbing carefully at it, his hand moves and taps a finger against his temple, “I ain’t got her in here, like you do,” his hand moves next and touches over the left side of his chest, “But I got her in here,” his heart, “and there ain’t nothing I wouldn’t do for her.” Like quite literally being Ahnika’s soft landing when she falls.

Jhath’s not exactly the most demonstrative dragon in the first place, considering her soldier-like leanings, and so as Max continues to talk, she sits there, watching the lake from this distance, attention on the redhead swimming along the surface. At least at first. His comment about them being stuck with each other for a long time earns the turning of the head once more, regarding him in quiet study. She’s listening at least. She’s also now watching him work that pebble, seeming intrigued with it. With his comment about it being a lot easier if she could talk, Jhath wuffs softly (a rarity for her) in apparent agreement, and off in the distance, Ahnika stops in the middle of the lake to tread water, lifting her hand to shield her eyes and stare off in their direction. She couldn’t possibly have heard Jhath physically, as soft as it had been, but there’s no doubt something got stated at that moment to have her attention for a time before she is swimming again. It is his last statement, as Jhath observes him, that the green’s eyes swirl a little yellow and she growls. Then as if to make a point since she can’t speak, she whips her head back to where the leather pack had been left, grabs it by the strap with her mouth, and smoothly tosses it up and over her shoulder where it rolls a moment before sliding off her side and thumping onto the ground. Do for her? Like manhandling her? The green dragonet glares. But at least she’s not snapping and hissing at him as when she first came to Ahnika’s "rescue" those few nights ago. Off in the distance, a swimming Ahni stops in the middle of the lake once more, treading water, and looking in their direction. It’s too far to see the look in her expression, of course, but one can imagine she’s a little alert and worried.

With his attention having been on the lake at the time, Max catches the moment where Ahnika stops and turns to look back their way. Frowning again, he glances back up to the green and utters a soft snort, “Shoulda known you’d be sending it all back to her.” And thus he slips back into silence, sending that pebble rolling back and forth across his knuckles again. The growl and subsequent toss of the leather pack has the beast manager snapping out of his brooding silence and darting a look first to Jhath and then down to where it had landed, “Jays! What’s your problem?” The pebble gets tossed aside and he stands snatching up the pack up by the strap, “Fine, I’ll stop talking and read the damn book. No need to have a hissy fit,” digging around in it to find the children’s harper tale, “but I ain’t gonna be the one explaining why we ain’t reached an accord.” Frustration more than anything else at play in his tone.

With something that seems some mixture of a deep alto honk and a throaty bark of frustration, of all the things, Jhath stomps off the little bit to get around that outcropping of boulders once more while Max is digging in that leather bag for the harper’s tale. All the sand pouches were still up on top, except one, that being the one that hit Ahni and came down with her. While Ahni continues to tread water in the distance, trying to figure out if she needs to come in or not, Jhath swings her head around with a corner of that sand-filled pouch in her mouth and launches it in Max’s direction. To be sure, the dragon isn’t Roger Clemens and so in all likelihood the sand-filled pouch doesn’t hit, unless Max just happens to be at the wrong place and not paying attention enough to duck. And that’s about when Ahnika starts swimming back, a bit faster than the pace she had set for herself. She knows Jhath isn’t trying to hurt Max, but she isn’t sure Max doesn’t know that.

His hand closing around the book and about to extract it from the leather pack, Max’s head jerks up at that bark of sound coming from Jhath and then discards the pack entirely when she goes stomping off around the boulder. Suddenly a sand pouch comes sailing through the air and instinctively he snaps a hand out and catches it. “Jhath?” concern and a healthy dose of confusion filtering into his tone as he turns the pouch over in his hand, trying to figure out what the green’s wanting, “You wanna play?” If she hasn’t backed out from behind the boulders, he’ll edge in closer, careful to avoid getting squished between the dragonet and a hard surface. Believing her to perhaps be sulking he tries a different a tactic now, “I get it. You think I’m an ass. You’re probably right,” pausing and then continuing on, “If it’s that whole affair from a few nights back…” a sigh escapes as he suddenly realizes how it must have looked, “I wasn’t hurting her, darlin’. She…we…” struggling to figure a way to explain to Jhath without –actually- explaining, “Ahni was tired, and…” A crooked grin breaks free as it comes to him on just exactly how he might be able to make the young green might understand. “You know that Trial of Patience thing? Well, we were in danger of failing the test,” he was in any event, “So I decided rather than fail her, and you, it would be best to take her back and let her get some rest.” Of course in all of this, his back has been to the lake and thus the beast manager is unaware of the redhead’s return path through the water.

Withdrawing enough to straighten out and turn and face him, Jhath just stares at him. It could be a studious look with the way her head is drawn back in against the neck as she looks down her muzzle at him. Or it could be a look of incredulousness. Such is the fun of dragonsitting without the mental router, so to speak. However, not all is lost. He says she thinks he’s an ass. She gives a little toss of the head and snorts. As he continues, Jhath watches him and seems to be listening, sitting up in that stately pose she likes to strike. As he mentions the Trial of Patience in particular, she maintains the stately pose, but lays down, tail curling around and against her side, tapping not entirely dissimilar to a person drumming fingers. When he finishes what he has to say, she offers a deep rumble of a whine and lowers her head and neck down to rest on the ground, but her multi-faceted eyes continue to watch him. Ahnika begins to wade out of the lake, dripping and arms and legs a little tired from the strain, but not rubbery or winded too much. Jhath croons, but with his back to the lake now, it is liable to simply look like she is crooning at him. The tapping of her tail slows and then stops. And then Ahni’s voice rings clear on her approach, raising her voice to be heard without actually shouting. “Respect,” she says, her tone matter-of-fact and not hurt or angry, “Jhath thinks you don’t respect me.” If Ahnika, herself, believes it, she doesn’t say or show it. Her expression is simply one of bipartisan interpreter at this point, feeling that this is something they need to sort of work out between themselves, though obviously it didn’t work out quite as successfully as Ahnika had hoped. It was still better than had she not given them these few moments in the first place. “It’ll get easier, I think,” Ahnika says, a little breathless still, and stopping a few paces away to towel off, “The more time you spend together, the more you’ll be able to make sense of some of her body language. It wasn’t too terrible, I hope?” The last is said with a hopeful smile for Max, and apparently Ahnika means to make this a semi-regular thing? Oh boy. She’s still not really interested in making any commentary to the lack of respect statement from Jhath. “Good job on the Trial of Patience bit,” Ahni nods approvingly with another smile.

Arms fold cross his chest, the sand pouch still in the one hand and Max studies the dragonet, trying to divine from body language alone what her reaction might be. When she lays down and utters that rumbling whine he takes a step closer to her head and hunkers down, he’d probably stroke a soothing touch to her muzzle but given her reaction to his having touched her earlier, he’d like to keep his hand attached to his arm. Taking that sound to have been an unhappy one, “It ain’t all that bad, darlin’,” a crooked smile turning out, “We’ll get it figured, aye?” So focused had he been on trying to convey something, anything of a reassuring nature to the dragonet, the beast manager hadn’t heard Ahnika’s approach and all but jumps at the sound of her voice and the comment sent along from the green. Brows knit together into a deep frown which is sent first Jhath’s way and then over to the redhead as he stands. At any other time he would have been drinking in the sight of one dripping-wet-Ahnika toweling herself off, however being as how he’s doing his best to trying and build some kind of bridge between himself and her bonded, his expression fits into guarded. As such there’s little but a fleeting glimpse of a smile in greeting and then he’s turning a disturbed look back over to the dragonet, “If I didn’t respect her, I wouldn’t have brought her back. Or bother with…” a hand waves about in futile gesture, “…any of this.” Trying to communicate with Jhath. A rough sigh exhales and one can only imagine that this has got to be worse than trying to get on the good side of a girl’s father. Something he’s never bothered with before either. Hands pocket and he sends a slightly closed look over to Ahnika, “Respect,” he states, probably for the dragonet’s benefit more than hers, “Is a two way path.” The smile he sends at the end is faint in response to her last for clearly this encounter has gone a ways to discomforting the man in a manner which he’s not likely to put voice to any time soon.

In all honesty, Jhath wouldn’t mind the soothing rub to her muzzle right about now, even from Max, but it’s understandable that he wouldn’t know that. To his statement that they’ll get it figured out, the tactically-minded “fixer” (especially of problems dealing with fairness), whuffles loudly in general agreement, sending hot breath across the ground to stir any grass or loose pebbles. She agrees. They’ll figure something out. She just needs time to riddle out a solution, which she understands now either from Max’s statements earlier or from Ahnika’s own preoccupied thoughts that Max is in their lives for the long haul, whether she wants him to be or not, and as such she better learn to deal with him. Doesn’t mean it will be easy or she will completely roll over her values and beliefs for him, and that is all too well proven as Ahnika arrives and Max hears the notion of ‘respect’ being one of Jhath’s triggers here and with Max’s words on respect, the green dragon remains where she is, offering only one of her deep, rich altos of a throaty rumble, effectively grumbling. For Ahnika, however, she offers translating as she towels off, “It’s the fact that you grabbed me, I think. E’ro did that. Not letting me walk on my own two feet. Carrying me like a sack of tubers,” Ahnika snorts at the memory, which is echoed by Jhath, though her anger is actually for E’ro, and not Max, “So it sort of set me off … that night.” There’s a pause and then she continues, “She sees that as being disrespectful, as do I, really, but … I know I can be … frustrating for you at times,” Ahnika states, not seeming to take it as much to heart as Jhath is, not to mention some part of her just liked having Max’s hands on her, even if it was in such an embarrassing way. That’s something Jhath definitely doesn’t share. And then something in Max’s words have her stilling in her toweling off and she straightens, looking genuinely struck and concerned, “Wait. You think I don’t respect you?”

With a hand lifting to rub at the back of his neck, Max sends first a bemused look and then one of open annoyance between both Jhath and Ahnika as she reveals where the issue of respect appears to be coming from. However, the annoyance is probably aimed more at that the fact that he has somehow been viewed in the same light as that particular bronzerider than anything else. Turning a brow lifted look onto the dragonet, “So that’s what all this is about? You’re pissed because of how I carried her out of there?” dark eyes swing back to land on the redhead, “And you too?” assuming her words to mean that some of the green’s anger that night had been fed in part by her. Having not intended his actions in the way that they were taken, and are apparently still being viewed, his lips press together into a frown and he goes quiet for a good long while, staring passed Ahnika and out over the lake before slowly nodding, “Fine, won’t happen again.” It’s at the question put to him that the beast manager turns his head and sets a careful look onto the green weyrling, perhaps thinking back on the things he’s done in the past and the manner in which he’s still forced to conduct certain affairs and thus probably feeling rather much like he’s currently being put under some or other kind of draconic spotlight of worthiness. Instead with a sigh he replies thusly, “I love you, baby and would give my life for you. That ain’t never gonna change. But…” and here he struggles a little, flicking a glance over to Jhath, “I’m just a simple man. I ain’t a dragonrider, a Lord Holder or a harper. I fucked up and I’m gonna fuck up again,” quite aware of his own infallibilities, “And…she knows it.” Which is probably his roundabout way of saying he knows he’s likely not worthy of respect by the measure of standards that her green probably holds to.

“No,” Ahnika says immediately to his asking if she was pissed over his throwing her over his shoulder, “I was … for a moment,” that most immediate of moments which is all it took for Jhath to wake up and freak out, “but not anymore.” A pause and she sighs. “I’m sorry,” she offers, realizing that to some degree her inability to control her knee-jerk and more passionate responses to things is what started all of this. She lapses quiet within his quiet then, tilting her head and looking at him with open concern, while Jhath remains lying in that stately position, though her eyes are fixed on the pair before her. To his comment about it not happening again, Jhath lifts her head a little and looks at Max. Ahnika sighs, purses her lips, and debates whether to pass it along, which is about when he offers up the rest of his comments on respect and fucking up and that draws Ahnika’s attention back to him, “Of course you will,” Ahnika starts, “We all will. Doesn’t matter if you’re dragonrider, Lord Holder, Harper, or Faranth herself. No one is perfect, Max. But you’re an adult, Jhath isn’t. She thinks the world will end if someone dares to take one of Balkrith’s turnips from him without his or L’ron’s permission,” which may sound odd, assuming Max doesn’t know anything about Balkrith’s turnip fetish, “and she’d go to the end of Pern to right the injustice done against them.” Jhath warbles agreement since, she doesn’t see anything objectionable there. “In a few days, she won’t remember what happened that night and I don’t intend to remind her, but something may happen again and this whole mess has made me realize that if the two of you aren’t around each other enough to get along in a good way and make a difference for when something happens again, then Jhath will never learn to trust you for those rare times you do fuck up.” Jhath turns her head and those eyes onto her lifemate, drawing her head up even higher, “No,” she supplies to Jhath, putting her foot down. “I’m not going to. He’s not an idiot, Jhath. He cares about me. Of course he will look out for me. And frankly, Nobleheart, you’re being a little overbearing on your own here.” Though she stops short of actually comparing Jhath to the men who have tossed her over their shoulders and carried her off, “How about you let me decide who can do whatever to me, when, and how, and why?” This startles Jhath a moment, but it’s hard to know that unless one is in her head, as stoic and stately her noblebearing remains at the moment. And then she croons at Ahnika and lowers her head again to the ground, pouting and sulking while trying not to look like it. With a soft sigh, Ahnika hangs the towel over her shoulder and goes over to her, crouching to rub her closest headknob, “I know you mean well, Nobleheart. You both are so alike in many ways, really, caring about me to the point of wanting to control me at times.” She looks up at Max and arches an eyebrow, suggesting quietly,“Her other headknob could use a rubbing too. She won’t bite you, Max.”

Ahnika’s reply draws a short nod with the edge of a frown appearing for her apology, likely deeming it unnecessary however he doesn’t say as much, merely sending a sidelong glance down to the green and then his focus goes back out over the lake again. He remains quiet through the first half of what she says next, just a small amount of bemusement at play, although that could have more to do with turnips appearing in conversation. Finally turning his attention to the redhead, Max is about to make agreeable comment on the need for he and the dragonet to find a way to come to terms with each other when she speaks aloud to Jhath. That simply sends him quiet again, though there is the very faintest edge of amusement at play now. There comes a light press of lips and another frown when the young green looks very much to be sulking but again, he remains silent a little out of his depth and unsure quite how to make it all right. That is until Ahnika moves over to comfort the dragonet and suggests he try the same. Wary or perhaps dubious that this will make any difference, he does as bidden and crouches back down next to the wedge shaped head, his touch firm though still gentle as opposed to her bonded’s likely softer one. Dark eyes lift slowly, seeking the grey of the redhead’s out and he finally manages to find words to offer forward, and though while simple, speak volumes to his rugged determination to find an accord of some sort. “We’ll make it work, love,” regret stringing through his low held tone for his part in putting her in such a difficult situation.

There comes a throaty moan from Jhath and she closes her eyes to the rubbings, and as her lifemate promised, she doesn’t bite Max. This time. Ahnika smiles warmly as Max crouches down with Jhath’s big wedge-shaped head between them and is quiet a little moment before the smile turns rueful, “Of course we will.” She looks up from the young green between them as she continues to rub, knowing - just – the right spot. “And when you start getting frustrated, my Heart, just think of it as … practice,” she winks, “for enduring our future children …” ‘and their own melodramatics’, she doesn’t supply, but it is implied nevertheless. Then her attention turns back to Jhath and she says aloud for Max’s benefit, “Jhath, you should hear the crusade Max has launched in search of a proper guardian of little feline wards he had been forced to rescue from careless bovines. Did Davel come to your call for aid, Max?” Not spoken in a condescending tone, but it’s clear Ahnika is trying to find something that Jhath and her over-developed fondness of heroics and valor can sink her figurative teeth into with regards to Max. Her legs starting to cramp a little in this crouched position, but not wanting to sit in the dirt when she just came out of the lake, Ahnika straightens and shakes out her legs a bit, letting Max continue to rub as long as both he and Jhath like him to.

It’s likely that Max was less worried about being bitten and more so about pissing the dragonet off any further. Either way, his hand moves gently over her headknob, eyes cast down toward Jhath in such a way as one might imagine he’s trying to get inside her head and figure her out. Of course Ahnika’s comment about any future children of theirs has him blinking upward and looking a little stymied for a moment, before clearing his throat and sending out a dry smile, “Don’t reckon telling her to go sit in a corner and mind her manners is gonna help any, baby.” Which would likely be his way of dealing with a rambunctious youngster. His mouth opens and shuts when she goes on to call getting the needle clawed kittens out of his stall in order to avoid crushing them in his sleep, a crusade. Instead it’s a low chuckle of amusement that filters out and he nods, “Aye, Davel came and got ‘em the day before you came round. Spoke to his Pa about letting the kid come round the caverns more often and gave him the runt of a porcine litter to take care of too.” As the redhead stands to her feet, he stays where he is for a moment longer, and then with a quarter smile sent down to Jhath before he too stands, “You don’t bite me, I won’t bite you, and we’ll do okay.” Although the biting bit is probably meant metaphorically and alluding to giving each other a hard time when in reality, they both have a common goal at heart.

Ahnika grins, stepping away to pick up the leather bag, “Noooo,” she draws out, then chuckles, “But we’ll learn patience in the process, right? And we’ll need a lot of that with all your sons.” Ahnika teases and grins again, then stuffs the damp towel in the bag. Not that their daughters won’t test their patience at all, of course, nooo. Not at all. Jhath grumbles throatily, not about to be displaced by a bunch of human sons and daughters. How can they fly and flame Thread if Ahni is going to be in the queen’s wing while with child so much? Ridiculous! Cue short snort. But she opens her eyes and looks mildly interested in hearing about the supposed crusade, only to be bored to yawning as Max doesn’t elaborate in true harper dramatic fashion. BOR-ing! After the yawn, on the tail end of Max’s statement about biting, and as the man stands, Jhath too gets up, perhaps sensing Ahnika is getting her things together to leave. The large green dragonet stretches a little and shakes slightly in loosening up as a human might stretch and roll shoulders, and then she proceeds to head-nudge Max, or try to if he doesn’t dodge, in the back toward Ahnika. “She says ‘Agreed,’ and expects you to give me a properly respectful farewell in turn.” Pause, “And she says that next time you can play Dodge-sack with us if you want to,” followed with a brief scowl from Ahni, but she does translate, “So that if anyone falls, it will be you and not me, next time.” Then she tsks, “Jhath,” in mild reproval.

“Or which end of the whiskey bottle is the kinder one,” Max gives dryly in response adding with a smirk, “because those daughters of yours are going to be a picnic, aren’t they?” And then he sends Jhath an openly amused look for the grumble, “Best get used to it darlin’.” Having her rider stuck in the queen’s wing. Although in all honesty, while the man jests so freely and easily about such things now, one can be certain it will no doubt, be a whole other matter when the reality of being presented with such a situation comes around. Brows go up at the yawn and that amusement deepens further, “Jays, I must be losing my touch. Haven’t bored a lady to yawning in a long time.” Being as how his attention was elsewhere at the time, the nudge to his back sends the beast manager stumbling a step forward and shooting the beginnings of a glare the dragonet’s way, “Hey now!” until the redhead explains and a crooked grin settles into place, “In that case, close your eyes, young one.” His idea of proper farewell and the dragon’s of respectful likely not in exactly the same category, however, there's only one way to find out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as he reaches for the redhead to pull her into his arms, hesitating only momentarily to chuckle low, “There’s only one kind of falling I do. Now kiss me already, woman.” And with that he won’t wait for her to do as ‘bidden’ and instead claims her mouth for what turns out to be a meeting of their lips in a marginally chaste manner.

Instead of incredulousness or offense, Ahnika takes the statement about daughters in mirth with genuine laughter, light and lilting in sound. Her grey eyes sparkle with warmth and amusement all the more with his comment to Jhath better getting used to it. She slides into the straps of her leather pack as she states with more amusement, “You just need more practice, Love. Jhath isn’t just any lady.” Perhaps speaking to her own challenge to keeping Jhath entertained while bathing or oiling her. And then on a more serious note, she offers this hint, “She likes puzzles or riddles to solve, especially if they are sort of tactical in nature. Or,” she grins, arching her eyebrows, “grand tales of crusading heroes.” Jhath adopts a stately, mature pose, looking down her muzzle at them both, as if to say, ‘It’s all part of my master plan, you know; there’s a good reason for it.’ Not just fun and games? Ahnika looks up at the outcropping of rocks and frowns thoughtfully, which is cut short as Max closes the distance. Jhath snorts and tosses her head in mild disapproval, like a little boy might make a face at his parents ‘mushy stuff’ and go ‘yuck!’ or something. But as there doesn’t seem to be anything passionately sexually charged here, chaste as it is, both Jhath and Ahni aren’t panicking or freaking out over it. Although, just as Max is pulling Ahnika into his arms, she protests mildly, “I’m all wet,” in warning. Toweled off and not dripping, but her suit is still very heavily saturated with lakewater. It apparently doesn’t matter to him and she lets it go, surrendering to the chaste kiss, while thinking about … snow and ice and winter. Keeping any other heated thoughts firmly from her mind for Jhath’s sake. She’s had a lot of practice over the last few months. She does respond to the kiss similarly, however, her lips remaining closed and leaning into it, and Max, and putting her arms around his neck as Jhath starts to nose around looking for where that one sand-pouch went.

It’s only after he’s lent thorough and proper lip service to farewells, that Max draws away and grins down at his now damp shirt, “There’s got to be some kind of irony in this,” he states though doesn’t clarify the point of him now being cooler for having had his flame-haired temptress in his arms, especially given their present company. It’s probably also just as well he has no idea what Ahnika had just been focusing on and that he’s not yet taken Ahnika back to the Reaches with him for a visit, or else she might very well be viewing the effects of winter ice and snow in a different light entirely. Keeping his arms loosely about her waist, not yet prepared to let her go, dark eyes seek out Jhath as she noses about for her lost sand pouch, “Riddles and tales of crusading heroes, eh? I’ll have to bear that in mind.” His next is sent to the green dragonet as planting a kiss to the redhead’s forehead his arms reluctantly drop away from her and he moves toward that pile of boulders, “I think it’s still up here, darlin’,” the sand pouch she’s looking for. And without further ado, the beast manager’s climbing his way up to take a look-see.

Smirking at his statement as they end the chaste kiss, Ahni takes the moment to tenderly stroke a hand through his hair above his ear once before letting her hand drop to his shoulder, not seeming to mind his lingering grasp about her as she then turns her attention to Jhath who is sniffing around the place where Max had been standing when she lobbed the pouch at him. The kiss to Ahni’s forehead earns an affectionate squeeze of his shoulder with her hand before he pulls away completely and heads for the outcropping. “Be careful! Don’t fall!” She calls out to him, even though it’s really perfectly safe, as long as one doesn’t get smacked in the face with a pouch of sand. Looking up, Jhath bugles loudly at Max as he climbs and she starts to stomp around a little, though not in irritation as much as in anticipation. One might call it a ‘dance’ or a ‘prance’ but tall and stocky Jhath does not dance or prance. She stomps. “She said she knows the rest are still up there. She means the one she threw at you,” says Ahni, not yet catching on to this being a game or a problem engineered, so to speak, for Jhath to riddle out, which is probably for the best as Ahni would only likely inadvertently give it away in her head. There’s a pause and Ahnika adds with amusement, “Though while you’re up there, if you want to throw the rest down it’d save me from getting them later.” Jhath comes back to the outcropping and crouches beneath it, similarly to a cat crouching and ready to spring, apparently thinking Max will drop those pouches and she gets one last run at playing her “Dodge Thread” game before they have to go. Her attention is on top of the outcropping, while Ahnika comes over to lean against the side of the rock while putting her boots back on.

Her hand stroking through his hair and the lingering grasp is almost enough to have the beast manager staying exactly where he had been. But, duty calls. Or should we say, his attempt at trying to get on Jhath’s good side. Halfway up Max turns and puts rueful grin down onto both weyrling and dragonet, “At least it should entertain Jhath some,” this to him falling. Reaching the top, he drops to a crouch and starts gathering up the pouches left up there, “I know which one she means,” this to Ahnika as amusement shows itself in a short chuckle for the stomping green, “You figure out where it went, Jhath, and there’ll be an extra wherry in your feed bucket in the morning.” Swiveling on his boot he raises his finger to his lips in a ‘shushing’ gesture toward the green when he spies her bonded leaned up against the rock and putting her boots back on. With a wink he tosses the first pouch down, aimed somewhere in the region of Ahnika’s butt. If the dragon has realized his intentions and decided to play along by keeping quiet, he’ll call out an overly innocent sounding, “Oops, sorry,” if the pouch finds its mark. Thereafter the rest of the pouches will be tossed in haphazard form for Jhath to dodge before Max is dusting his hands together and making his way back down again, stating as he does so, “They used to have riders drop colored yarns from above to resemble Thread once the ‘lings were flying.”

“Perhaps,” Ahnika states loud enough to be heard, “But it won’t give an ounce of entertainment for me.” This regarding his falling off. To the challenge of finding the sand-filled pouch, Jhath bugles again, more excited stomping (which elicits a laugh of amusement from Ahnika), and turning over rocks nearby with her muzzle in her search for it. She is, at least, extremely systematic in her search pattern. Regimented in just about everything. That’s soldier-Jhath. Meanwhile, Max gets the drop on Ahni, literally, and the soft pouch of sand hits at about her tail-bone, which draws a short gasp and start from the weyrling as she straightens and it slides off. She narrows her eyes up at Max, but the slight smile of amusement at the corners of her lips betray any true ire that might have been read in her expression. The second light thud of sand impacts Jhath behind her headknobs as she was still nosing around looking for the missing one. But she is ready for the rest of them after that, looking extremely serious as she watches the sand pouches getting tossed off in random order and only having barely a second or two to judge their trajectory and dodge before they hit her or the ground. She does only slightly better than before, though internally she rationalizes the first one hitting as being « I wasn’t ready. He threw it before I was ready. ». “You’re getting better, Nobleheart,” Ahnika states approvingly as Jhath gives her the final tally of what hit and what didn’t. “As soon as you get down to zero hits this way, we’ll do it with your wings extended.” As they would be in flight. She turns back to Max as she laces up the second boot and looks at him with interest, “They did? Huh. Weighted a little I imagine, considering how light yarn is.” Jhath looks intrigued with this idea as well, flexing her wings – though not fully extended - as she mentally pictures it. And then she resumes her search, expanding the search pattern as she goes until she hits the farthest point Max and Ahni had stood away from the outcropping of rock since she lobbed the thing at him.

“Ah, but then you get to kiss better,” Max states with a grin as he eyes the distance between where he’s perched and the ground where she is as if he might truly be contemplating the worth of throwing himself off in a bid for the extra attention if his tuck-and-roll theory doesn’t work out too well. Men! The gender that having just beaned their girl on the butt with a sand pouch will sit up there and be so bold as to offer an unapologetic wink in response to the narrowing of eyes being sent up their way. “She ain’t half bad,” this given with open approval for Jhath’s pouch evasion tactics. With the last of the pouches tossed, the beast manager starts making his way back down again, giving his head a small shake, “Weighted only with having been damped down a little with water first. Thread gets tossed about on the air currents as easily as yarn does, which is what makes it so…” and then he suddenly stops, lips pressing together and nothing further on the subject coming from the man as boots thud to the ground. It was probably only that he’d been distracted by keeping his footing that he’d even spoken on the matter in the first place. With one of his hands pocketing one of them closes about something, but doesn’t withdraw whatever it is as with a jut of chin toward where the green is searching, “She’s thorough, I’ll give her that.”

“Yes,” Ahnika agrees on kissing better, “Right after I twist your ear off for it.” She grins ruefully before returning her attention to Jhath, who briefly looks up at him for the statement that she isn’t half bad, and actually bows her head a little in gracious, somber acceptance of the compliment, perhaps in her own way of also giving some measure of reassurance to Max that she will do everything in her power to keep Ahni safe from Thread, too, before going back along her systematic search for that errant sandpouch. Ahnika watches Max descend once more, more to come to his aid should he need it than anything else, and listens as he speaks, supplying, “… dangerous,” in completing his spoken thought. Her grey eyes look up to his face once more, “Hey,” she murmurs, a hand reaching out for one of his, “they’re not going to send us up before we’re ready.” Not that readiness has stopped anyone from getting killed, but one can assume that statistically speaking the less experienced and prepared are the ones who most likely end up slain. Most likely. Not always. Then a distracted look as Jhath concludes her ground search and begins to look around for the next level, her multi-faceted eyes landing on Ahnika’s pack and she tromps over, nudging at it until Ahnika takes it off her back, “I needed to get the sand pouches back in there anyway.” She opens the flap, “See? No sandpouch, Nobleheart. Good thought though.” Then she grins ruefully at Max, “Thorough. Yes, indeed. One of many descriptors I’d use.” Stubborn. Melodramatic. Archaic (at least in speech and some of her interests in chivalry and crusading). Demanding. Clever. Just. Ahnika smiles fondly for all of them, though.

The twisting ear comment does little to pull any kind of contrition from Max, his hand does however move in subconscious gesture toward the side of his head and then falls away to be captured by Ahnika’s. Quietly spoken, “Aye, dangerous,” a short nod of head sent in gratitude to Jhath seeming to understand what it is she’s trying to convey. One corner of his mouth twitches in the attempt of a smile as his free hand lifts to brush knuckles against her cheek, “I know, love. But even the most experienced fall to Thread.” And there he leaves it not wishing to drudge up those particular memories any more than they already have been, or scare the redhead needlessly. So it is with some degree of relief that he turns back to the green and her search for the ‘missing’ sand pouch, “You’re getting warmer,” he notes with quiet amusement and thus likely giving out that he knows where it is.

Lifting her other hand to try and grasp his as he brushes her cheek, Ahnika turns her face to kiss those knuckles, dirty and dusty or no, gently. She feels the need to reassure more, in some way, but is at a loss how and so does not press further. Having inspected the pack to such a thorough extent that it ended up stuck on the end of her muzzle before, laughing, Ahnika pulled it off, Jhath looks around again, seeming to take in every bit of terrain, no matter the height, and finally comes to the conclusion that Max must still have it somewhere on him, having ruled out everything else, and his hint that she was getting warmer certainly helped her make up her mind. She draws herself up then, towering over them by a good few feet at this point and looks down her muzzle at Max expectantly. Her tail resumes the tapping motion once more as if drumming fingers. She gives a part-wuff and part-warble, showering them with her hot breath, which probably doesn’t smell the best, considering what she eats. “Sweet Faranth, Jhath,” Ahnika says, fanning herself a little, “just ask the man to empty his pockets if you don’t want to actually poke around his person directly.”

Indeed his hand is both dirty and dusty given his recent climb up the boulders. A quick flicker of a smile is sent Ahnika in return for the kiss she puts to his knuckles. That then broadens into a grin as Jhath unwittingly provides comic relief by wearing her bonded’s pack on her muzzle, “Must be the new look for greens this season,” he quips. As the green then sets her sights quite literally on Max, he at least doesn’t gag over the hot dragon breath although he does swallow and blink a little. “It’s in my pockets, eh? You sure about that?” and then he’s shoving his hands into those very pockets and making a show of feeling about in them. “Hmm, wonder which pocket it could be in…” deliberately stalling and then slowly but surely he pulls his hands out to reveal the sand pouch in his left. “This what you’re looking for?” fond amusement lining his features as he holds it out to the dragonet. –Fond- amusement? Yup, it would seem that he’s slowly coming to terms and figuring out how to connect with the big militant green. Which isn’t to say he’s always going to get it right.

“All the rage,” Ahnika comments on the leather pack as fashion statement as she sets it to rights again, moving away with it to the ground under the outcropping while Max and Jhath conclude their little treasure-hunt game, and getting out of the way of any further flameless breath-weapons. She begins to collect the sand-filled pouches on the ground, stuffing them in her pack a couple at a time before looking over her shoulder at the other two, grinning as Max makes his little show of drawing out the inevitable and Jhath’s stomping around in regimented marshaling form until he finally reveals it. She trumpets her sense of triumph, gingerly taking the pouch from his held-out hand and then nudging him affectionately in the arm in quasi-slap-on-the-back-good-show manner. After which, she promptly stomps over to Ahnika and shakes her head a little, swinging the pouch, as if to say ‘look! I found it!’ eyes swirling with pride and satisfaction. “Very good, Nobleheart!” Ahni says, grinning and opens her pack a little wider as Jhath dutifully drops it in and Ahnika goes about finishing collecting the rest of the pouches. Jhath turns back to Max then and trumpets merrily at him. It seems that between his breaking Ahnika’s fall, checking Jhath’s neck, headknob rubs and playing games with her, he has won himself back in her good graces. Chuckling, Ahnika straightens and interprets, “She said ‘thank you’ and ‘next time, she will abscond with something and secret it away for you to try and find.’” Reversing roles, but with Jhath’s own twist in saying it. Then Ahnika smiles at him, looking pleased herself, and says, “And thank you, too, from me. You did well, my Heart.” Winning Jhath back, not that she would have continued to remember his transgression anyway, but repetition of good, positive experiences will go a long way to helping their relationship between dragon, rider, and … future weyrmate?

The nudge to his shoulder bumps Max back a pace but he realizes the manner in which it was intended and so simply sends a chuckle Jhath’s way for it, watching as she heads over to Ahnika to show off her ‘prize’ and help to pack the pouches away. “Definitely worthy of a nice fat wherry,” he states on the heels of the weyrling’s own praise to her dragonet and as response to the bugle sent his way. Once the redhead straightens, he closes the gap, seeking to sling an arm about her waist and draw her in closer, dark eyes touching onto the green as a crooked smile turns out, “It would be my pleasure,” to play a game of Hide and Seek with Jhath and then his attention is turned back Ahnika. “Anything for you, baby,” stated low and followed by a quick brush of lips.

Oh yeah, Jhath heard that about the wherry and bugles with pleasure, which has Ahnika laughing again and saying, “She says she’d like that very much, thank you, but only if Balkrith can have one too, since it’s only fair. Helping him find lost turnips all the time has given her lots of practice.” Jhath is nothing if not a just and fair-minded girl, even if a little melodramatic about it at times. She is looking at her green as Max slides his arm in to draw Ahni closer and so she has to fight the thrill of it in her mind as she hadn’t seen it coming. As he leans in to lightly brush her lips, Jhath’s wings snap out and then curl a little inward and around the couple. Momentarily startled, Ahnika looks up at her lifemate, only to smirk and comment, “Well, thank you, Jhath,” before looking up at Max and blushing slightly, “As you were leaning in, I was just thinking how nice it would be to have a little bit of privacy …” She clears her throat, wrapping her arms around him briefly and hugging tightly, “I love you,” she murmurs, leaning in for another chaste brushing of lips, and then lowering her head against his chest briefly, just enjoying the loving feeling of his arms around her.

“Balkrith, eh?” Max appears to give this caveat of Jhath’s some thought and then nods slowly, “Seems fair enough to me.” And then after another moment’s pause for thought, “Reckon me and L’ron are going to have to have a sit down sometime so’s he can explain this turnip thing to me.” The snap of wings has him instinctively freezing and glancing worriedly at Ahnika. What had he done wrong now? When explanation is forthcoming a low chuckle sounds out and the dragonet is sent an approving look, “I like the way she thinks.” Even if the action taken by the green had been in response to a thought sent by her bonded. “Love you too, baby,” his frame at first going rigid for the next light kiss initiated by the redhead as he fights against baser instincts. It’s only once she’s got her head nestled in against his chest and he’s shifted to wrap both arms about, that he states, “You two should likely be getting back before you’re missed and I have a weyrlingmaster on my ass for leading the innocent astray.” Although it’s said with humorous intent, there’s no mistaking the underlying frustration at play.

“It’s a very interesting and cunning plan. Turnips will be saving all of Pern,” despite the teasing, Ahnika really doesn’t mean it in a mocking way. Besides, what the heck does she know? Maybe they will. She chuckles to Max’s comment about how Jhath thinks, which is returned with a gracious, though brief, dip of the head from Jhath. Smiling against his chest a bit with his words, Ahnika says, “Jhath and I can take ‘em on,” amused and not serious, of course. Although Jhath offers an approving rumble of agreement. And then Ahnika pulls away, looking up into Max’s face as Jhath folds her wings back in against her sides. “Tomorrow?” She asks, of meeting again, and gives a little wave, waiting only long enough for his reply before slipping away, Jhath stately falling in a marshalling step beside her chosen.

“Save all of Pern?” Max echoes a brow going up, “Figures it would be L’ron’s dragon that would have such a notion.” Amused more than mocking or condescending. Dropping a kiss to her head before she pulls away, a smirk fits into place for the green pair taking on the weyrlingmaster’s, “Of that I have no doubt.” A warm smile filters in and he nods, “Aye, tomorrow.” All things being equal on the front of whatever ‘emergency’ might suddenly need his attention, she can be sure he’ll be there, no doubt with some or other riddle for Jhath to figure out in order to give beast manager and weyrling some time together. Watching as the two depart, tall and willowy redhead alongside the tall and stately green, a smile lingers at their back until he too turns and heads around the further side of the lake where Waine awaits to continue on the discussion they’d been holding earlier.

Closing Credits Theme Music: Tim McGraw - "The Cowboy In Me"

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