Barkeep Psychology


Jaya.jpg Kaskan.jpg

Date: Dec. 8, 2010
Location: Gardens, EW
Synopsis: Jaya comes across a troubled Kaskan and finally learns that there's a significant connection between him and Rio.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Jaya

The night brings a cool breeze from the direction of the lake, touching each flower reaching towards the sky. No one is present in the gardens at this late hour – no one save for Jaya, who has claimed the flat rock that one who usually frequents the gardens would find the gardener there instead. She’s leaning back with a yellow cut flower in her hand, her eyes idly scanning the sky and looking very much as if she has been here for awhile already. Lorayit, the Weyr’s gardener, is nowhere in sight, but it looks as if the barkeep couldn’t care less whether he was there or not.

Kaskan is quiet as he enters the garden area, his head bent and mindset such that he doesn't even see Jaya. His clothes are rumpled as if he's slept in them, his hair even more disheveled than usual and his movements clipped as if reigning himself in at the last moment. Heading straight for an area thick with greenery more than flowers he stops by a small bench and just stands there a moment.

Then, without a sound, he lifts one leg in a straight shot to the side and kicks the bench over backwards. The next victim of his anger is a nearby bush, thick with brightly offensive leaves and swaying with negligent nonchalance in the breeze. Several rounds of energetic kicking later the bush is devoid of most of its leaves as well as branches, the guard's anger fiercely intent on stripping the bush as bare and exposed as he feels inside by recent events. He never raises his voice, not wanting to attract attention, but lowered grunts and groans accompany many of the forceful hits leaving him nearly gasping for breath by time he stops. That in itself is a sign of how close he is to losing control completely - his usual smooth grace shattered by the emotions battering his nerves into a frenzy.

Having stopped he seems to fold in on himself, shoulders curving inward as he crumbles to his knees, hands clutched into fists on his thighs and head bent forward. For a moment he is still. His profile is hidden behind a raven curtain of tousled layers. Then he suddenly growls deeply and leans forward, attacking what remains of the bush with his bare hands. Branches snap and break, tossed away savagely as he tears down the remainder of the foliage. Streaks of blood mark some of the branches and leave jagged lines across his olive-tanned skin. He isn't satisfied until the roots themselves are dug up from the ground, dirt caking his hands and forearms. Only then does he finally slow, fists curling to pound the ground a few times in quickly decreasing ripples.

The sudden rustling of the bush, not to mention the crash of the bench, is what has Jaya’s guarded attention. The barkeep suddenly straightens, eyes narrowing as she looks in the direction where she could hear the damage being done. It couldn’t be Lo, could it? The man’s been missing a lot lately, making it hard for the woman to find him and deliver the recent disturbing news to him. She was really here expecting the gardener to eventually show up, so without much thought, she gets to her feet off the flat rock and goes to investigate. She’s close now, the darkness concealing most of what the guard is doing for the barkeep to notice him outright. It’s only when she turns the corner towards where she hears the rustling of the bush again that she finally breaks her silence and calls out, her skirt flitting in the sudden breeze, “Lo? Are you-?” and she stops. No, that was not Lo. Dark eyes find Kaskan in the throes of tearing one of the gardener’s bushes to shreds, her eyes widening at the damage before she swiftly comes forward and moves as if she’s going to stop him. “Kas, what the fu—?” she starts to say, the incredulous look on her face present as she gapes at the damage done.

Thinking himself alone, Kaskan is slow to register the arrival of someone new. Normally emotions are kept in strict check behind a hard shell, rarely allowed to affect him. But those boundaries were based on a particular belief and solidified by turns spent afterward dealing with the aftermath. To find out now that it was all a lie has shattered those protective barriers and shocked him to the depths of his soul. So many conflicting emotions pile atop one another in quick succession that he hasn't the time to reconcile one before the next is upon him. Knees grinding into the ground he sinks his fingers into the dirt, ignoring the pain that lances his nerves from a myriad cuts and scrapes. Chin tucked he squeezes his eyes shut and grinds his teeth, external damage nothing compared to the raging inferno that torches his mind and heart leaving behind a sunken ashen husk.

A familiar voice framing his name sinks through the gloom to dully register. His chin snaps up toward the sound but his blue eyes are glazed and deeply shadowed with the rings of not enough sleep. Dark brows furrow behind a lank sheet of raven locks that fall in wayward wisps over half his face and a sallow hue washes out his usual olive-tan complexion. "Jaya?" he murmurs in an empty voice. Shaking his head he sets one palm to his lowered brow, rugged features twisted in a mask of anguish. A whole new tide of conflict assails him with her arrival. The long-abused desire to trust someone - to care for someone - vying with an ingrained defensive measure of staying aloof. Not wanting her to see him like this, knowing he won't be able to resist her questions in this state and fearing the flood that might result, he draws in a long, haggard breath. His words are strained, voice a false shadow of firmness as he says just above a whisper, "Go away Jaya."

Jaya watches this different side of the guard – the man was usually in a groping sort of mood whenever she’s been around – so to see him like this has her in pause. Keeping a couple of paces away from him, she watches the turmoil of emotions playing across his features when he looks up at her. Clearly something had happened. Dark eyes straying towards the destroyed bush again, “Is it-“ but then he’s telling her to go away, the rest of the query dying on her lips at that look on Kaskan’s face. This is out of her element – she was used to promptly removing herself from situations like this, but this was a man she knew – or, she thinks she does. Slowly crouching down to see him better, but not moving any closer, “You should get that looked at,” she goes for the more practical response, her eyes pointedly looking towards his bloodied hands. Whatever questions she has is in check, the barkeep’s concern for him only showing slightly through her otherwise guarded demeanor.

Periphial vision registers Jaya's presence as she kneels down, dark lashes flickering over hooded eyes. Latching onto darker emotions is easier, automatic. He must drive her away. He doesn't need anyone. Lips turning down he draws breath to say something he'll surely regret but her unexpected suggestion surprises him so that the words are swallowed up instead. Lips purse instead and unshaven jaw tenses. "It doesn't hurt," he notes in a disgruntled tone. Still not looking directly at her he rubs his temple with his palm, pressing as if to physically subdue some of the thoughts beneath. "Don't try any of your barkeep psychology on me, Jaya," he grunts.

“My ‘barkeep psychology’?” Jaya echoes that one, staying kneeled and not looking to be moving anytime soon. Admittedly, she was drawn to this different side of Kaskan, regarding it closely like one would watch a dragon fly for the first time. She merely says “Good,” to his hands not hurting, but she wasn’t done yet. After a long moment, “So are you going to attack another bush and cause further damage to Lorayit’s garden?” she asks then, keeping her voice even and level while she doesn’t take her eyes off of him. What she leaves off is, ‘Or are you going to tell me what’s up?’ – but one would think this bit was implied. Barkeep psychology.

Kaskan is sucked in despite his apparent wariness, or maybe deep down a part of him wants to be. Either way the over-powering urge to make her leave him alone is put on hold. Still, his reply is laced with weary sarcasm, "I might… might take out the whole garden! You gonna try and stop me?" She couldn't know, of course, that he'd never do such a thing. One of the reasons he came here and, in fact, why he unconsciously chose a simple bush to take out his frustrations, is because of that long-forgotten part of him that used to love being a gardener. Something about the place helps soothe him in a way he can't explain. The ironic thing about his question is that of most the women he's ever known Jaya probably could do some serious damage trying to stop him. Not that he really wants her to try. A part of him regrets lashing out at her but the hurt and pain are still too powerful to let go of him yet. Tipping back he sits on his heels rather than leaning forward, his pose unhurried. Notably, he doesn't object to her set posture either.

With Kaskan seeming to want to take out the poor garden, Jaya starts making some assumptions. They might be wrong assumptions, and even she doesn’t seem to believe them, but if it got him talking… “So,” she starts a bit too casually, now sitting back a little once she settles on her knees. “What did Lo do this time? Steal a lover away from you?” she makes a weak guess, even though she knows the weyr gardener enough to find some truth in the query. She pauses then, eyes intent upon the guard before she makes another guess in the form of a different question: “How’s Jhorn doing?” Easy and deflective, she continues to keep her voice level as if that won’t rile the man. After another lingering pause she finally answers his own on her trying to stop him with a light, unassuming shrug. “I might,” she says simply. “Knocked you in the head once. Shouldn’t be all that hard to do so again.”

Kaskan grows even more confused by her attempts to guess what's bothering him, which might be her goal. If it is, it's working. Taking a deep breath he rifles his raised hand through his hair, the gesture only making his tousled mop more of a mess.

"Lo?" he starts, a trace of male pride stung by her assumption that someone would be able to steal a lover from him. With distraction comes clarity and his troubled blue gaze finds hers.

As she takes another leap of topic his frown thickens, logic trying to make the connection. The clutter of frenzied emotions is subtly smoothed to the edges as his attention realigns, but still bucking and clamoring for precedence in the background. "Jhorn??" he echoes a bit more urgently and starting to sound like a parrot.

As his sluggish thoughts catch up she makes her last observation and that brings him up short. Whether its the truth of her statement or the non-chalant manner that she delivers it but something strikes a chord within his emotionally drained psyche and the result is a deep, maniacal laugh. Swiping his hand across his cheek he leaves a streak of muddied blood, completing the picture of a man gone mad. "I wouldn't put it past you," he finally admits, lips uncurved despite the bout of humor.

“Lorayit,” Jaya clarifies, waving a hand about her to indicate the garden they’re in. “He runs all this. You’re here, messing up his shit, so I’m assuming he did something to you. Wouldn’t be far-fetched, really…” And if Kaskan is distracted, that suits her fine. She continues to weave him in with words: “Is Jhorn, okay?” she reiterates now, looking the guard over. “And have you gotten any sleep? You don’t look so good.” Battering him question by question, each having no connection with the other. It seemed to her to be the better alternative to asking straight out what was wrong, not choosing to spring that one until she needed to. For now, hearing that maniacal laugh, “Mess up another bush and I’ll knock you down faster than you could cry for help,” she seems to warn, or tease. However the man wants to take it. She’s keeping her gaze on him though, still not breaking eye contact on her end.

Kaskan doesn't know Lorayit so his slow nod of understanding when she explains is all he does to acknowledge that. He does glance at the bush once, those darker emotions leaping on the object of offense and trying to lash out again. Picking up a broken twig he crunches it between his fingers and throws it at the hole where the bush used to be, over-turned dirt and remnants of foliage making the spot look like an explosion took place.

Mention of Jhorn does much to center his thoughts, responsibility for the likable youth giving him some sense of purpose when all else seemed to fall apart. If nothing else he must see the boy safely home when his training is done. "Jhorn's fine," he simply states.

Her observations, however, don't sit so well. He's a mess and he knows it but he doesn't care. Right now it just doesn't seem to matter. Still, he has just enough vanity left that he'd rather she didn't see him in such a state. "Of course not!" he blurts to that in cryptical fashion. Immediately he shuts down, aware that he's too close to letting that dam loose. Her threat merely garners a grunt and a pointed look. As soon as he meets her eye he realizes his mistake and lets loose a sigh. His face clouds with a deep hurt and he hits the ground to his side with a fist. In one last attempt to dissuade her he barks, "Why are you still here?"

Silence meets the majority of Kaskan’s short answers, and Jaya raises a slight brow when he throws a broken twig towards the remnants of the bush. His blurted answer is what gets her attention, watching him shut down with that pointed look going her way. Watching that fist hit the ground then with a slight narrowing of eyes, his face shut down and that barked question put towards her, the scar-faced woman represses most of her sigh and slowly gets to her feet in the continued lingering silence. Letting the cool night breeze rustle through unbounded dark hair around her shoulders when she looks down upon him, “Don’t know,” she finally answers in a quiet, husky tone, the barkeep preparing to leave him to his own counsel. “Thought I was checking on a friend.” A slight guardedness rears up then before Jaya finishes that turn around and begins with slow steps to head out of the garden. Then over her shoulder, her intense gaze finally off of him with her back to him, “I won’t tell,” she states evenly as if in farewell, likely meaning that she wasn’t going to rat him out as the attacker of one bush to the gardener.

Kaskan watches her rise with a sense of dread that surprises him. He should be glad. He wanted her to leave. So why this urge to stop her? Her words sting his already raw nerves with bite enough to make him flinch and hold his breath as he watches her start to walk away. Without the focused beam of her gaze on him he relents enough to respond to her final parting, squashing down the resentful anger that simmers below the surface.

Misunderstanding her words he takes them to mean whatever is bothering him, which is easy enough for him to believe not only from knowing her personally but she /is/ a barkeep after all. They keep secrets for a living. In his case, however, it's a secret that's about to become public knowledge.

"You don't have to bother. Everyone will know soon enough," he says in a clipped tone. The unspoken invitation is there for her to read or dismiss. Strangely enough he's angry that she's leaving, baffled by the anger, and annoyed at women in general for being so damned confusing.

Those words get her to stop, but Jaya only turns her head a fraction towards where she could catch Kaskan in the corner of her eye. “Know what?” she directs at him then, her body turning just a bit more so that she could turn her head all the more towards him. She was aware he had misinterpreted her, but she’s not about to correct him now. Exasperated now, her chin lifting a fraction, “Kas, what is going on with you tonite?” she puts out there bluntly, turning a bit more so she now sees him fully. “This isn’t like you! If you truly don’t want to tell me…” she trails that off, lips pressing together into a tight line as she waits for his answer to that.

Kaskan clenches his teeth on a growl and leaps to his feet in one swift motion, the sudden surge of emotion sending blood rushing through his veins. Hands splayed in an entreating gesture he faces her, slate blue depths reflecting forlorn devastation. Grinding out every word he seethes, "She can't be alive, Jaya. Everyone said she was dead. Everyone believed she was dead. How could she have been alive all these turns?? Rocio…" Jerking his head to either side as if to fling the confusion aside he looks to her again, focus painfully intense. "Rocio… Rio. I can't believe it's her!"

Well, maybe Jaya was expecting a lot of things, but she certainly wasn’t expecting this. Hearing Rio’s name – even ‘Rocio’ – immediately puts a heavy frown on her face in slight disbelief. Turning fully now to approach Kaskan with slow steps, “Rio…?” she echoes the name of her confidant, confusion falling in place. “I don’t understan…” and words trail as she tries to recall anything said before but failing. Shaking her head, “Kaskan, what are you talking about? Do you know Rio?” Yes, she knows Rio’s past, but the gold weyrling had never revealed the intimate details of there being a true love. The only conclusions Jaya has to draw on right now was what was told her, and after that lingering pause, her eyes narrows in slight suspicion as she suddenly makes at least one connection: “Crom.”

A slow blossom works it's way up Kaskan's neck to color his cheeks like banked embers, his control shaking loose as barely checked emotions begin to boil over. Closing the gap between them with a few quick strides he grips her arm, pouring avid heat into touch as well as tone. "Yes, Jaya, Crom. We met there. We fell in love. We planned to get married." His voice falters, breath quick and heavy as he drudges up the worst of his worst nightmares. "Then she was taken, accused of murder, and… and…" He breaks the lock on her gaze for a moment, unable to articulate the details that most drove him wild about Rio's torture - the forced wedding and aftermath that preceded the climactic end. Forcing himself to face the rest he looks to her again, shaking her arm with the ferocity of his emotions laid bare. "They said she was killed for her crime, Jaya. I wanted to die. I nearly did." His voice nears hysterics, deeply course. " /I/ don't understand. How can she be /my/ Rio? Here? After all this time??"

When Kaskan has her by the arm, Jaya’s instinct was to pull back – but instead, the shock of his words is what stops that, eyes widening at hearing this particular information. Her frame goes stock-still as she tries to rationalize what she’s hearing, and whom she’s hearing it from. Dark eyes remain narrowed at him, looking for all the world as if she hadn’t heard a single word he’s said – even through him shaking her arm roughly. And then, “Rio, and you…?” is what she registers, managing to piece that much together through an addled mind. She shakes her head to that, taking a step back even though he still has his hold on her. In a composed voice that she doesn’t feel anymore, “Does she know?” she asks then. “You…talked to her?”

Kaskan lets her arm go as she steps back and furrows both hands through his hair with an agitated swipe. Sighing heavily he clutches his head between his arms for a moment, visibly pulling himself together as a fevered panic threatens to drive him insane. "Yes.. yes… yes," he chants to her clarified questioning.

The last has him dropping his arms and looking to her with the shock of that event still swirling like a wild storm in his blue gaze. "She told me herself!" he states resoundly. "I just walked in on her making a sandwich in the kitchen and next thing I know she was on the floor…. and she said my name…"

He hesitates there, remembering how her voice had reverberated through him in echoing tsunami-size waves from times past. He swallows hard then, realizing how bad the next part sounds. Anger renews, spiking his tone. "I… I couldn't believe it. I left." Then, pinning her with all the focus of his being he asks, "You know her, right? Has she ever talked about her past?"

“You just walked out on her?” Jaya catches that bit with a flash of anger, staring hard at the guard as if he had just bitten her. Giving him that ‘what were you thinking?’ look, she turns from him then and starts to pace – words and thoughts swirling in her head since she’s still in shock. While pacing, it almost seems as if she hadn’t heard his words after that one, but then she whirls suddenly on him and answers his last with, “Of course we talked, but…” she shakes her head again, a hand stealing to her forehead, “…she said something about her loving someone that wasn’t the one she married – something brief – she only talked about what happened…the murder…her baby…Kas, you’ve really got to talk to her!” She’s stepping to him now, eyes intent upon his as she searches his anguished gaze. “Back then, before she Impressed…she was suffering, too,” she tells him, revealing how close the two had gotten. Her voice lowering now in sudden realization, “And then…you and I have…” Yeah, she’s made that connection now, too – even though there really was no way of knowing.

Watching her pace his own anger flares in response to hers, nostrils flaring as his breath quickens. "What was I supposed to do?" he demands. "I don't know how to feel!! It's all bombarding me at once." One arm gestures firmly, slicing the air as he continues, "I have scoured myself every single day since I left Crom for not being able to save her and forcing myself to go on without her. It left me empty inside and out."

He listens as she recounts what she knows, visibly cringing as she mentions a child. His hands ball into fists even as his mind veers away from the details that would include, and whipping about he returns to stomp the remains of the bush into the ground. Bending to pick up a rock he throws it with a loud grunt, muscles rippling along his arms with the effort. "Fucking bastards!!" he shouts, not caring who hears this time.

Energy spent he whirls back to Jaya, catching on the remainder of her words. Not so much talk to Rio as to see her - see her beneath the veils. Yes, the idea sparks anxiety within him. He wants to have the confirmation but at the same time knows seeing her will break his heart all over again.

And finally, the lowering of Jaya's tone catches his attention more than if she had shouted. Moving to stand in front of her he grips both her arms in his hands, fingers sinking into her muscle with earnest fervor. "Jaya," he starts, sounding more sane than ever as his gaze seeks to lock onto hers. "I don't regret a second of anything we've done and I never will."

While Kaskan grows more frantic, Jaya seems to grow calmer. The pacing stops as she stands there before him, watching him grow angry all over again at what she reveals. Understanding floods her expression, as guarded as it still is, the barkeep remaining silent for a long time as she listens to his cries. Looking over him with an exhale of breath, “You need to rest, first,” she says this calmly, taking to steps to be close to him without touching. “You can’t think to rationalize any of this while you’re kicking bushes.” But his last – those sane words given to her – has a hand lifting to touch his cheek and press there briefly before her hand falls away and she says soberly in response to him, “Neither do I, shuga.” Stepping back, her demeanor quiet as she stares at the guard that’s in turmoil, “Go to her,” she practically orders him, but her tone stays surprisingly gentle. “You both need to solve what’s been broken.” Whatever she feels and thinks is kept in check, the Bitran falling far too easily behind that gambler’s mask of unreadable expressions as she says the words.

Kaskan snorts at the idea of rest. Sleep is as far from his reach as the Red Star, his mind in too much turmoil to grow still enough for the release of oblivion, or even worse - dreams. After his manic exertions the visage he presents is as horrid as he feels inside, blood and dirt in his hair, on his face and caking his hands and arms. Added to the sallow sunkeness of his expression the man looks like death warmed over several times.

At the touch of her hand he tilts his cheek into her palm, earnest gaze a deep pool of tortured blue. He almost feared she would say differently, or take the news differently, but then he should have known better. Jaya is made of sterner stuff than that. Even in his chaotic state he can recognize the familiar habit of withdrawal that he usually employs himself reflected in Jaya now. So be it. As hard as it is to hear, her advice is sound. He can't run from this. Not this time.

Covering her hand briefly with his he drops it as she steps back and with a heavy sigh drops his gaze as well. The light garden breeze nearly carries off his words when they come, a ragged whisper nearly too soft to hear. "I don't know that I can take it…. if it's really her. All those lost turns… she was alone… after what happened to her." Then, gruffly louder, desperately plaintive, "I didn't know! How could they lie to me like that???"

Jaya smiles briefly at that touch her hand, watching the turmoil rolls across his face in her silence. She almost miss his words carried on the breeze, and the barkeep folds her arms across her chest as the breeze causes a shiver – or, maybe it was the words heard. In either case, “You can make it up to her,” she offers quietly, her concern for her confident evident in her gaze so she finds some comforting words to see the predicament that he’s in. Then firmer, “Revenge can come later,” she notes, assuming that would eventually be the next step the guard would want to take on those in Crom. Perhaps, once the dust clears and Rio is more free to do so, she would want to, as well. “The priority right now is Rio. She…she needs you…” and she trails, at a loss of what else to say, her voice nearly breaking. She felt for them both, that much was true, and so, with a firmer whisper she repeats it: “Go to her.” As for she herself, she will not approach the weyrling until much after when some of the dust settles – when it would possibly be her turn to be the confidant Rio needs if she still wanted her there.

Kaskan scrubs his jaw, fingers digging into the two-day scruff as he angles his chin. A flash of hope sparks at Jaya's words but is immediately squashed by the sheer magnitude of the situation. How could he ever make up for what Rio had been through? Merely contemplating the imagery throws his mind into a venomous pit of despair. Over time he was able to submerge those consuming emotions and move on in a crippled fashion.

Her next words stir a darker beast within his chest, one that consumed him nearly to his own demise and then stalked him for turns thereafter. Revenge. But there was little a mere gardener's son could do against the might of Crom royalty. Still, the desire sleeps like a restless snake, quietly waiting for the chance to strike. His eyes smolder with the heat of that desire.

It takes a moment to allay those thoughts again, her voice working its way into his thoughts. "Needs me?" he whispers hoarsely. Pause, then, "She must hate me." Pain filters across the plains of his face, making his rugged features even harsher. Visibly steeling himself he squares his shoulders and forces out the admission that fuels much of his confusion and the twisted reasoning that comes with it. "I hated her… for a while. Then I felt even worse for it. She was just a girl. I should've been able to do something." Catching his breath he looks away, gaze catching on the broken bits of twig and leaf. "I was angry at myself for blaming her, then angry at her for making me feel that way. It just kept going around and around!" He pauses, lips set in a tight line of indecision. "If I go to her… now… is it going to start all over again… or is it going to finally make sense?"

“You don’t know that,” Jaya says on Rio hating him, the barkeep shaking her head with a small frown. Well, she didn’t know that, either. Hands lifting in her helpless shrug, “Honestly, I don’t…I’m not even…look, I don’t even know the whole story,” she tries to voice her thoughts, the woman as lost as Kaskan was probably feeling as she takes a step forward. Hands falling back to her sides as she turns to look at something in the garden, “Rio’s a really good friend of mine,” she explains almost softly, her dark eyes falling on the torn bush. “I mean, she told me what happened afterwards, but…” and her voice trails before she turns again to face the guard. “I don’t know if it will make sense,” she finally answers his question, her eyes searching the indecision on his face, “but…it’s a try, right? But I mean, Rio’s not the same person she was back in Crom. I’m sure of it. And then, she has Eovarijath now, too…”

Kaskan listens to Jaya speak of Rio with an ache miles deep. In her usual way she manages to hitch on the crux of yet another concern that is tearing him apart - the changes that have occurred since those days in Crom. He isn't the same person either. He doesn't know what her life has been like since she was cast away but he knows what he has done, the levels to which he has sunk, and the illicit lengths to which he has gone to survive. Without a doubt she'll abhor what he has become.

He loved her more than life itself once. When that life ended love was put in a jar of glass and secreted away like a precious secret to be privately savored but never explored again. The glass has been shattered but the shards are still there just waiting to cut him to pieces if he dares to reach for it. Should he even try?

"Eovarijath," he echoes, the hint of a wry smile finally touching his lips. "There is that. At least she'll be forever safe now. They can't hurt her again even if they do know where she is." Which is something he could never have guaranteed her himself, he bitterly admits. She's better off now without him.

Confusion is still paramount, but at least anger is finally abated. Thanks to Jaya there's a chance he might do the right thing, but for now he's still undecided. Looking to her with an air of finality he reaches out to lay a hand against the curve of her neck, thumb lightly stroking the line of her jaw. "I'll think about it, I promise. Thank you, Jaya."

“Impressing, I think, was a good change for her,” Jaya admits, delivering to Kaskan a little wry smile. “She seems to think the same will be so for me, but I’m not so certain of that. She’s pretty wise for her age, Kas. And kind.” It’s almost with awe how she speaks of the weyrling, alluding to her fondness for the other. That smile vanishes back into something sober though, his touch causing eyelids to flutter a little in the soft breeze before she dips her chin down to kiss that thumb briefly. To his last, “I’m not one to thank, shuga,” she drawls, wry in the end as she meets his eyes with a slight crooked smile laced with her guardedness. “I’m just trying to keep you from getting your ass handed to you on a plate should you decide to mess something up of Lo’s here. He loves this garden.” Always fall back on sense of humor to hide from the truth, right? “Then, with an awkward little shrug, “But yeah. You’re welcome.”

Kaskan nods, his traditionalist bent unable to ever think otherwise of impressing one of the great beasts of Pern. He's pleased to hear her speak so well of Rio… or Rocio? In the end he just can't beat down the lingering doubts until he sees her for himself, without the masking veils.

Humor is a soothing salve. His lips lift wryly to one side at her jest, fingers brushing a light trail across her lips as he lowers his hand. "Glad to know you got my back, darlin'." Blue gaze lingers on her face a moment longer, then he turns and walks away carefully picking his way amidst the flora and fauna on his way out of the garden.

Jaya smiles more to that brush to her lips, Kaskan’s words getting a brief, “Seems to be my thing.” Having someone’s back, perhaps. She meets those eyes and then watches him go, staying where she’s at until the man’s frame can no longer be seen anymore. Only then does a sigh that’s heavy in its deliverance escape full lips as she turns away, her slow steps taking her in the opposite direction as she sinks further in her deep thoughts.

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