Beating The Odds


Jaya.jpg Max.jpg

Date: Dec. 19, 2010
Location: Max's Office, EW
Synopsis: Jaya stops by to cover a number of things with the beast manager - that being, her plans of taking a break, Indira's interest in his Tillek affairs, the bounty hunters hanging about the Weyr, and his relationship with Ahnika. In the end, their friendship serves to strengthen further from where it's been before.
Rating: PG-13. Some language as usual.
Logger: Jaya

Time has gone by with the bar continuing to be busy for Jaya and those that work for her. With Solak and his thugs still on the prowl, and retreat to prepare for, the barkeep finally found the time after closing the bar to head down towards Max’s office with Shijan in tow as usual. She already expects Waine to be present when she enters the stables, so there’s a greeting falling from her lips immediately once she steps through. Her hair is tied back from her face as she walks down the familiar stalls towards his office, humming a common bar tune low enough that one might not be able to catch it before reaching the door.

So who’s a pretty boy then? Certainly not Max who is sporting a purpled and swollen eye along with the causative jagged cut just above his eyebrow and is currently squinting down at a document he’s trying to read, with his good eye. The ‘V’ of the loosely laced shirt he’s wearing does little to hide bruise marks along his throat but does at least cover the bandaging swathed across his ribs beneath it. Not lounged back in his seating as is usually his way, he’s instead taken to a gingerly held upright posture with one leg extended before him. The stylus he holds in his fight grazed left hand, taps in irritated manner against the top of the desk. Any humming or approach of another is either put down to being that of a night hand making his rounds, or simply not heard.

Once Jaya makes it to the office door, it is customary of her to rap her fist on it a couple of time before she pops a head on through if the door isn’t firmly closed. Dark eyes scan the office quickly – she’s started doing so after the whole ordeal with Beddie – and finding no naked woman there assaulting her boss, she goes on in to approach her usual seat – and stops. All humming ceases at the sight of Max’s bruises, her eyes widening as she changes her direction and approaches him instead of the chair. “Max, what-?” she starts to say, a hand reaching out as she approaches him as if to touch at the cut she sees just above his eyebrow. “Who?” is what she asks then, concern and a little bit of anger lacing her tone now. “Who fucked you up like this?” Now that’s a more Jaya-like response.

The rap of fist to door is what draws Max’s head up, the document he’d been squinting at, dropped to the table. Nope, no naked women giving him a hard time this night. Jaya’s eyes widen and his face closes, flinching a little and pulling away should she be planning to touch that cut. And no, it’s quite clear he hasn’t seen a Healer, however the light sheen left behind by numbweed will attest that he’s at least been looking after it. A scowl is shot to the barkeep, male pride dented by the notion that he might have come off worse and so he mutters grumpily, “Sparring session went bad. You should see the other guy.” No really. She should see the other guy because he looks about as pretty. Setting a dry look onto her, “You just come here to mock me or was there something in particular.” Oooo, grouchy much?

When Max flinches away, that does stop Jaya from trying to press a few fingers to the cut again. Deliberately ignoring the scowl, “Some sparring session,” she returns, giving the beast manager a look that says ‘You’re not fooling me.’ “Has Ahni been by to see you like this?” And then, to his last she finally straightens up and away from him and goes to reclaim the seat she was previously reaching for with a blithe “Of course I came all this way to mock you, shuga. I have so much time on my hands that I figured, ‘Max needs me to mock him tonite.’ Just my luck! Here you are, all bruised and bloody, and mock-worthy!” It’s all said with sarcastic dramatics, hands lifting in the air as if the sun was about come down and bathe her in light. Just as suddenly, the act drops as she drops into a chair and crosses her legs with a flat look towards Max. “My real, less-worthy reason however, is to give out some news to put my mockery on hold.” Pause. “You should let me get my case and help put something good on that,” she offers then, the sarcasm not covering the concern one bit. “I’ve had my share of being purple-faced enough to carry stuff better than numbweed. Who did that to you?” News can wait.

His uninjured brow lifts and Max sets her with a return look that suggests that’s his story, and he’s sticking to it. A slightly withering expression falls into place for Ahnika having seen him recently, “Still got my ears don’t I?” Whatever that’s supposed to mean. Yeeeah, he’s been keeping a low profile and basically skulking in his office the past few days. Jaya’s sarcasm earns her a narrow eyed look and without so much as a warning, the beast manager throws the stylus he’d been toying with, at her, “Real funny, darlin’.” Though her dramatics do have the effect of him cracking the very faintest edge of a smile. A twisted line of a frown half forms with her demeanour suddenly shifting, setting her offer of further help and adroitly (or so he thinks) side-stepping who he’d been trading fists with, “What news?”

“Poor baby,” Jaya seems to coo, and it would have been successful if not for her ducking the stylus Max throws at her. Coming back up and looking for where that stylus went, “You really are pissy when you’re injured, huh?” she seems to tease, remembering the last time she had walked in and found the beast manager looking pretty much the same way. She shakes her head to that, catching that small smile that was really the reaction she was looking for in the man. Settling back more in her seat and watching him, “You really should let me lend you my kit, at least,” she offers again when he sidesteps. No, she’s not about to let this go. With Max considered in her circle now, he’s about to find out how protective she is about others’ well-being if she has anything to do about it. She’ll pause, letting that sink in with that determined glint in her eyes before she finally addresses her reason for being here. “Not sure if this has reached you by now,” she notes, letting some of the seriousness on what she’s about to say flow into her features. “There’s some bounty hunters at the Weyr,” she announces, eyes hard on the beast manager. “Main one goes by the name Solak. Came at me in my bar in front of witnesses one night, but he hasn’t been back since. Apparently he’s moreso after the gardener here than me, but…” and there’s a slight shrug, “…he recognized me. I know I’m on a good number of lists out there, but…”

Max would likely do something really childish like stick his tongue out at Jaya for that pissy comment but that wouldn’t be very fitting of Southern’s new crime lord, now would it? Instead he settles for a grunt, setting his forearms onto the desk and absolutely not wincing at the pain that draws from his ribs. Dryly amused as she presses on the offer of further help, “You and Ahni in cahoots or something?” Although he’s not outright turning her down either. A crooked frown forms with his injured brow not quite wishing to co-operate in the movement right now, “Heard talk of bounty hunters but nothing confirmed,” a one eyed blink and then an expletive as she tells of one of them having gone after her. “Shit! Where the shards was Shijan!?” anger quickly rising up and then sliding off a touch as she adds that they seemed to be after the gardener, mouth pulling into a slight smirk. “Knew that bastard was up to no good. Any word on why they’re after him?” That she’s on more than one list, seemingly of no surprise to the beast manager.

Since Max doesn’t protest this time – at least not all that much – there’s a slow smirk given on his quip involving Ahnika before Jaya shrugs lightly as if what said is indeed the case. “You men really can’t get on without us,” she notes, eyes pointed on his injuries. “Proven time and time again. Who’s ass do I need to kick again? Don’t tell me it’s Bowen.” It’s the only man she knows that’s been in constant brawls enough to give as good as get, and so he’s her first assumption. On the topic of the bounty hunters, some of that amusement fades at his expected reaction, though in defense of her bodyguard a hand lifts as if to stall further words. “If not for Shijan hauling him off, who knows what Solak would have done,” she notes quickly. “I doubt the man would have done anything substantial, anyway. He was really there for Lo. What do you have against him, anyway?” It’s common for her to change tactics abruptly without a pause, catching that slight smirk he reacts with. His following question, highly anticipated, causes her to shrug again and drawls out, “Who knows, really. Had an inkling Lorayit was involved in something with the way he’s been in and out of the Weyr, but it could be for any number of reasons. He’s well-traveled for a gardener. Spent some time in Bitra and has a love for the cards, so if it were my guess, I would say he owes somebody something and they hired Solak and his men to collect.”

Warily Max eyes her for a moment on the matter of barkeep and weyrling greenrider ‘ganging up’ on him and then utters a rough snort, “You women would feel all left out and unwanted if we didn’t give you something to fuss over.” Tit for tat. With Jaya probing yet again on who it was that had been pounding on him, the beast manager lifts a brow, “Why does it matter? What if it was Rad’s goon, Flack. You gonna kick his ass?” Chances are it won’t take her long to figure out who it was, especially considering he’s looking about as good as Max is right now. A grim faced nod greets her assurances that her bodyguard had indeed done his job. Slightly incredulous the look that fits onto her next, “Lo? Oh you know, nothin’ much. Just that small issue of my runner, my escaped prisoner and the fact he seems to know enough about you and your family back in Bitra to have me keeping him under suspicion still.” Yeah, he has his sources of information alright. That perhaps given away when upon recalling Bowen’s words about Lo’s brother and the trouble he’s in to him, the beast manager drops his attention away from her when she makes guess at the gardener being indebted to someone. His injured leg hefting its booted foot up onto the new cross-piece recently added to the centre of the bottom half of his desk, he lifts his gaze and settles it onto Jaya, silent for a long time before giving quietly, “He’s got troubles up north, but unless Bo can get him to trust him enough to let us help him, there ain’t nothing I can do but to have my men track this Solak and his bunch down and have them thrown out of the Weyr.” Shrugging slightly at the end there for how his hands are effectively tied until Lorayit takes the first step, personal beefs aside.

“Please,” Jaya returns on his quip, rolling her eyes expressively before snorting. “And it does matter – to me. I don’t care if it was Waine that did it. I can get a few good swings in before he’s on top of me.” There’s a light shrug to that before she then tacks on, “I’m bound to find out, you know. Save me the trouble.” Max’s answer in regards to Lorayit though earns him a blithe, “You have no proof that he was behind all that, shuga. As to him knowing about my family,” and she pauses, not really having anything to say to that that could make the gardener look any better. Eyes narrow slightly at this news, however, involving the tanner. “I know Bowen plays cards and drinks with him from time to time at my bar, but I didn’t realize they were so close,” she notes, watching Max curiously now. “Is that your doing, to keep tabs on him? Lo is the friendly sort.” Leaning back in her chair then, “I’ve tried to bring up Solak with him before,” she admits with a nod, “but he’s been evasive. Guess you’re right. Just thought to keep you in the know with those men, which, speaking of…” And she takes a breath, eyes dropping away before she lets out her breath and launches the next topic, “…I’ll be taking some time off from the Weyr,” she tells him, meeting the beast manager’s eyes once more.

Max tries his level best not to transmit the surprise engendered by Jaya’s protective instinct over him, and perhaps it gets lost in his battered face covered by the smirk settled onto her, “Trouble’s my middle name, darlin’.” Nope, he’s not giving the name up. She’ll just have to find out for herself. One shoulder lifts and falls in a shrug on whether or not he has proof, “Got enough to be keeping my eye on him.” Her curiosity is met with a closed expression, silent as he shifts and gingerly leans his back into the chair and then the edge of a wry expression forms, “Bo took the initiative to make contact with him and keep tabs on him.” Thus hinting that the tanner then passes on whatever information he’s able to glean from the gardener, onto him. Unsurprised at Lorayit’s evasiveness on the matter of the bounty hunter, a short nod is given, “I’ll see what Bo can maybe get out of him on that.” He looked set to say more but words are stilled at her announcement of heading out of the Weyr. The beast manager’s uninjured brow goes up and he sets her with a dubious look, “That wise, darlin’? That run was one thing but…” pointed his expression turns, “I ain’t sanctioned nothin’ else passed that.” Just in case she’s thinking of carrying out some or other private job he’s not in the know of.

Jaya snorts at that remark on him being trouble, the barkeep shaking her head and, for now, letting the matter rest with “While Trouble and I are practically married.” The matter on Lorayit has her eyes narrowing a fraction in consideration of what Max says, “You think helping him would perhaps pull him to our cause?” she puts out there with a lift of her brow before she shakes her head slowly. “I dunno about that, Max. There’s a lot going on there that none of us will find out – even Bowen. Got the feeling from him that he likes keeping people guessing. I can try to get more information out of him,” she offers, though there’s uncertainty coloring her tone. Actually, her interest is more peaked about the friendship between the tanner and the gardener, but that’s to be explored at another time. And then, Max is reacting to her announcement of her going away, coming to one of the expected conclusions for it and she raises her hand to stall off further words. “It’s not what you think, shuga,” she corrects in her husky voice with an incline of her head. “I’m not cheating you there. Looking to go and clear my head for a sevenday or two is all. Your mother was gracious enough to provide me a means and a safe place to do that, so long’s I bring Shijan along for the ride.” There’s an odd pause here, but the Bitran then clears her throat and continues. “Got a lot on my mind and I can’t unwind with Solak and them about. Even with Beddie about, too. I’m not asking to go,” she tells them then, a slow smile touching the corners of her mouth. “I figured, best I let you know without just leaving and causing you something close to heartbreak. I know how much you can’t live without me,” and she gives a long-suffering sigh, a hand going to her chest as she chooses the more humorous approach to soften the command. Dropping the act with a short chuckle, “Suli will be running things until I get back,” she feels the need to tell him that, that smile now more prominent. “Besides, I wouldn’t have to leave if I have my precious runner to ride,” she seems to remind him of his part of her contract, continuing to tease as she slides an intent look upon the beast manager.

Crooked the grin that meets her announced nuptials with Trouble, that dropping off into a wry expression, “Ain’t just about pulling him to our cause, darlin’. Sometimes it’s just about the helping.” Well aware that there are those that won’t pay it forward, his credo being that it then lies on their conscience and not his. “Heh,” the sound soft in his abused throat, “We all got a lot going on with us that we don’t speak up on, don’t we? All I wanna know is that he ain’t gonna turn you over to Vaputero if we help him, an’ I’m all good with it. Bonus would be any solid information he might have that’ll help in taking the bastard down.” Leaning slightly off to one side, his chin now coming to rest atop knuckles of the arm he’s leaning on he listens in silence to what Jaya says, dark eyes taking in every nuance of tone and body language. Finally with an exhale as her words leave the air, Max then utters a light snort for her last, “You want second grade cart runner, or you want a runner with the potential to race?” Those being in short supply given that racing runners are considered a luxury sport even amongst Lords. Turning back to the break she’s telling him of, the beast manager’s lips twitch for her dramatics, “Ain’t worried about ya cheating me, darlin’. More worried about keeping your hide in one piece.” The fact that his mother has a location earmarked and that the barkeep intends taking her bodyguard with her, must be what decides him for pushing stiffly out of that lean he nods slowly, “Take the time you need and get your head sorted. I’m sure we’ll manage cope without you…somehow,” openly teasing at the end there.

Something said definitely gets Jaya’s interest. “How do you know he has a connection to Vaputero for sure?” she asks then, frowning slightly at the beast manager at this slip-up. “Think he has the same dubious connection as my erstwhile barmaid?” and a brow lifts in amused askance to that. That amusement even lingers longer on his response regarding the runner. With a wiggle of lifted fingers at him, “I’m not looking to race,” she answers wryly to that, shoulders shifting. “Just ride. I was willing to let you teach me and everything, even though I’ve ridden plenty of times with a certain notorious Bitran renegade.” A wink is tossed, and then it all clears to a more genuine smile at his response on the retreat planned with an incline of her head. “Your concern warms me right here,” and she thumps her chest with one fist. “I trust the break will be just what I needed. Maybe Shijan will braid my hair once I can get him to smile more and let off on knowing every nuance of what I’m thinking.” That matter settled in her eyes, “Speaking of your mother,” she fluidly moves on to the next topic as is her usual, some of her amusement starting to vanish on this next one as she pierces Max with a look. “I think you need to talk to her,” she notes a bit more evenly now. “She wants me to find out what your interest is suddenly in Holder conclave law…which tells me that she hasn’t a clue about the kid you got in Tillek, does she?”

“I don’t,” Max gives flatly, “Although its not a great leap of imagination to connect the dots, darlin’. Lo wanted to take a runner out, I said, no. Few nights later them twits break in and try to take a runner. Caught one of ‘em. Jinnet claims to be attached to Vaputero somehow and down here after your hide reporting to some sort of middle man with ties to the farmer community. Lo’s got some sort of connection to Bitra and your family and he’s a gardener. Gardener, farmer, same difference to me.” Giving Jaya a pointed look now, “Need I go on?” Setting that topic on the back burner for now, his mouth twists into a smirk as he gives a snap of fingers, “Dang! Just when I was hoping to see you landing on your ass too!” That smirk lingers with her quip on his concern for her wellbeing, “You misunderstand me, darlin’. It’s us that’ll be getting’ the real break here.” Teasing further. That slipping off as she brings up his mother, the beast manager’s expression tightening and openly giving away the fact that indeed, his mother has no idea of the existence of his daughter. Dark regard settling onto a distant point somewhere past her shoulder before his attention eventually drags back onto her, “Tell her I’m doing a friend down at Landing a favour. He’s been seeing a Lord’s daughter on the sly and wants to know what his rights to claim her might be.” The lie to be handed over to Indira so smoothly given one can almost believe it to be the truth.

Shrugging lightly, “Only asking, not defending, darlin’,” Jaya returns on the account of Lorayit, though she does drop a look on him and adds, “Gardener and farmer are two different things. Besides, if Lo is working for Vaput, as you say, then he’s doing a good job covering his tracks. He’s had plenty of time to get me back to Bitra, and he hasn’t. He’s been out of the Weyr a lot, actually. Seems to be more frayed than normal, despite my trying to get what’s wrong out of him.” Max’s continued teasing gets a roll of eyes from the barkeep and a wry, “I’ve been sweetness and light since being here. Dusted your nose the first time, didn’t I? You’re going to miss me. Just wait.” That banter drops on the topic of Indira, the barkeep narrowing her eyes onto Max and suddenly leaning forward with her clasped hands landing on his desk. “Look, I’m not about to get in between something that shouldn’t really be kept from your mother in the first place,” she notes evenly with a flat look to the beast manager. “That woman claims she’ll know whether I’m lying or not. She even managed to broker a deal out of me regarding my own retreat. You willing to put me on the block like that?” Pausing for significance, “Why is it that she doesn’t know, Max?” she asks bluntly, eyes level on him. “It’s pretty risky to be keeping something so significant from your own mother, you think?”

“Both get their hands dirty don’t they?” Smart Aleck! His uninjured brow goes up as Max points out, “Won’t be the first time someone holds on to their bounty to get a higher take for the job, darlin’. We have been over this before. The longer you’re out of Vaput’s clutches, the higher the price on your head, aye?” His regard narrows next as Jaya speaks to the gardener having been out of the Weyr a lot of late, not liking that one little bit as for all he knows, the man is indeed an informant for his Bitran counterpart, and is reporting back to him his findings on the goings on under the beast manager’s leadership as Southern’s new crime lord. He says nothing however, filing that away and likely to be setting closer tabs on the comings and goings of Lorayit. Foregoing the light bantering return from the dark haired woman, he pushes up stiffly from his chair, using his hands set to the arms of the chair to find his balance and then hobbling off somewhere between office area and private area. Brooding. Hands to hips he turns and sets the barkeep with a tight look, “If I wanted her to know. She’d know.” Not really answering her question until with a frustrated sweep of hand through his hair a heavy sigh spills out, “Look, I ain’t exactly proud of the fact that I got that bitch knocked up, aye? So far, only you, Ahni, Randi and Bo know about Little Bit and that's four more than is safe as it is.” Lips fit into a frown and he limps a step or two back toward his desk, “She’ll be told when I figure out how to get Little Bit safely here without having the Lord on my ass. Not before then.” A soft snort is uttered, “She won’t know if you’re lying. That’s just a scare tactic she likes to use.” Oh, really? Grunting with the effort it takes to lean down and open a desk drawer, Max extracts his ever present bottle of whiskey, flickering a glance over to Jaya, “What deal did she get outta you?”

“You wanna flat out ask him then?” Jaya puts forth on the gardener, brows lifting at Max until she notes the narrowed-eyed look being sent on regards to him being out of the Weyr a lot. Perhaps guessing where the turn of his thoughts is going, “I don’t know where he’s off to no more than you,” she lets him know, “but I do know that wherever it is, it hasn’t been going well for him. Keeps coming back in a mood fit for an irate firelizard. Hasn’t been himself. If you choose to look into it,” and she’s well aware that he will do so, “let me know what you find out.” Moving onto the topic of Indira, the barkeep remains silent through it as she watches the beast manager intently. Towards the end, “What good is keeping her out of it, hm? As opposed to her knowing? You think she’d fly off the handle and go up to Tillek herself?” Eyes narrowing a little at that, “I’m willing to admit that I don’t like this, Max,” she says with a slight shake of her head, frowning. “Not that I’m the perfect council when it comes to family, but…she’s bound to find out, is all I’m saying. Keeping back something this big? It’s going to fuck things up between you two.” She’s said her piece, however, leaving such fates to the two of them before she nods slightly and adds after the lingering pause, “I’ll see what I can say to throw her off, but if she comes down on me, boss, I’m coming after you.” And yes, she’s making that announcement extra ominous, too. “Think me and Indira are starting to get along pretty well, and I actually don’t want to fuck that up. Ah, the deal.” Lips twitching in held humor at the deal made with the Headwoman, “Nothing major, I don’t think. She wants to know everything that goes on during my retreat in exchange for me knowing about this letter she was guarding about like a holdbred girl. Figure she has something up her sleeve, but, you’d know more than I.”

Max sets her with a withering look, “Oh aye. That’s exactly what I was going to do.” Not. Expression turning thoughtful for looking into Lo’s comings and goings, he puts out in musing tone, “Might be time to get Flack to earn his keep. Seeing as how he’s so sharding good at lurking.” Yeah it still rankles that Kelarad’s man had known of his and Indira’s presence the moment they’d set foot in the Weyr. His uninjured brow goes up and Jaya is set with a slightly incredulous look, “What the fuck do you think she’d do!? Of course she’d march her ass right up to Tillek and into Lord Elisser’s parlour too, no doubt. You ain’t met her when family is threatened, Jaya.” Giving a light shudder at the thought of his mother and Garnalla facing off against one another. Yeah, no thank you. Dark eyes peel away from the barkeep as he gingerly sets himself back down in his chair, holding out the half full bottle of whiskey to her, no glasses on offer this night as that would mean his twisting around to reach them on the shelf behind him and….that would just hurt too sharding much. Sighing heavily for keeping something like this from Indira, “Aye, I know darlin’. I just…” frowning once again, “Way I figure it she’ll have all the air taken outta her bluster the moment she claps eyes on Little Bit, aye?” So…that’s his plan? Simply march into his mother’s office and present her with physical evidence of her first grandchild and hope to Faranth that’ll be enough to diffuse her anger? Lips press together into an unhappy line for the threat of Jaya coming after him if the Headwoman finds the truth out and kicks her ass. “She shouldn’t have gotten you involved.” Too late now, mate. It’s what the barkeep says last, of the deal made between herself and his mother that draws the low expletive from Max, “Fuck! I knew it! Asked Ahni to try and figure out what was going on with her.” Regard narrowing lightly, “A letter, you say?” Given the amount of correspondence Indira receives on a daily basis, its concern that drops into his tone.

Jaya easily, or perhaps pointedly, bypasses Max’s sarcasm when he brings up Kelarad’s man at the Weyr. Her snarkiness lets off on the matter of him, eyes narrowing before she remarks, “He did come by to make himself known to me. Strange sort. He was definitely around from the time I moved down here. Remember feeling back then before the bar was open that I had eyes on me. Couldn’t place it,” and the Bitran twitches her shoulders a bit. “It stopped around the hatching, though, but I got that feeling again when he came into the bar. At least now I know. Likely Rad’s been using him to keep tabs on me from time to time.” Falling silent for a moment, “The way he slithers about, Flack would be a good choice,” she seems to agree with a single nod. “Lo wouldn’t know of him. We might be able to start getting some solid answers then.” Max does get a dry look from the woman then at his answer on his mother finding out about his child, but she reaches forward to take the offered bottle with a nod of thanks. After a good, burning swallow that sets her to a slight grimace as it goes down, “Or, you presenting her with a child will have her feeling betrayed that you kept something like this from her,” she counters then, shaking her head and appearing adamant. “You don’t know women very well if you think you could just spring this on her one day without any consequences. Indira strikes me as the sort that doesn’t broker any arguments, either.” She takes another healthy swallow from the bottle before passing it back and leaning away with a sigh. “Well, it’s your call, shuga. She’s gotten me involved and wants answers. She knows you’d talk to me over her and has admitted it. What am I to say to that, other than to avoid her bringing up that topic at all.” Which was going to be hard to do, considering. She shakes her head at that again before Max curses and causes her to looks sharply at him. At hearing that the Headwoman’s been acting out of sorts, “What do you mean?” she asks then, frowning at him as she tries to recall if she remembered anything out of normal from her encounter with Indira. His question of the letter gets a brisk, “Your mother’s always been secretive, like you, so it’s likely just her being…you know, her.” Pause. “Yeah, a letter. Pretty guarded about it. Evasive. Not that I was expecting her to bare her soul to me and all. Me and her don’t really talk like that.” Yet, apparently, if that deal is anything to go by.

Listening as Jaya talks of the manner in which Kelarad’s man operates Max gives a nod in uneasy agreement thereof before a smirk is fitting into place. “He’ll never see him coming.” This on putting Flack to tracking Lorayit’s movements. Drawing silent as she drinks from the bottle, he offers a soft snort on his knowing nothing about women, “Show me the man that does and I’ll show you another woman in disguise.” Taking the bottle as its handed back to him, he slugs a healthy wash of the burning liquid down his throat, Adam’s apple bobbing painfully against bruised skin as he swallows. Hissing a little through the after-burn the barkeep is set with a determined look, “You tell her what I told you too. There’s a friend down Landing way what’s been seeing a Lord’s daughter and he wants to know his rights in asking her to handfast with him.” Which will hopefully buy him enough time to properly decide which course of action to take with his mother, even if it means facing her fury for having had a lie fed back to her. That is if Jaya gets to her before he does. That having been said another swallow of whiskey goes down the hatch before he’s handing the bottle back over to Jaya. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, one shoulder gives a slight twitch of a shrug, “Dunno, just…sorta not here. Not focused.” He gives on what he’d noticed of the Headwoman recently. The beast manager’s battered face turns out a dry look before he answers sardonically, “Our line of work don’t exactly give us Harper freedoms to make a song and dance about our lives, darlin’.” Filing away the matter of the letter a grunt greets words on Indira not being one to bare her soul, “The day she does that, is the day I put a pink dress on and dance about the Weyr singing ‘I’m A Little Teacup.” Uhhh, careful what you say, Smartypants, stranger things have happened.

Jaya cannot help but to snicker at Max’s agreement with her on him not knowing women well, the barkeep shaking her head and saying, “Then trust me when I say, shuga, that you’re one whiskey bottle away from a disaster waiting to happen.” That being with him and his mother. In other words, it was his funeral. “I’ll tell her just that after I get back,” she assures him with an easy shrug, though inwardly she was hoping something would change before her next meeting with the Headwoman so she didn’t have to lie. She did mean it about not wanting to screw up what she was developing with his mother. “If she doesn’t believe me, though, remember what I told you about me coming after you.” Once the bottle comes back her way, she takes a healthy dose from it enough to cause herself to cough. “She could be in love,” she guesses wryly with a look towards the beast manager. “She did mention the Masterharper with some fondness when I asked her about that letter.” Uh-oh, Jaya could very well be starting false rumors there, but in this case she’s only reaching the logical conclusions of the information given. Max’s sarcasm on their secret lives, however, causes the barkeep to snort and return in kind, “And you think I’m holding klah parties with all the ladies of the Weyr with my life?” She rolls her eyes to that and takes another burning swig from the bottle before passing it back. “How are things with you and Ahni, anyway?” she segues to ask, an amused brow lifting in askance on the man’s relationship. “See each other lately? The flames of love and passion still going strong?” and she even adds the dramatics of clasping her hands together and batting her eyes to the ceiling as if in euphoria before dropping the act and adding, “Surely it’s coming along better than mine…although my relationship with my brandy bottles seem to be pretty solid.” Yes, she can tease. She practically considers Max like a brother now to do so.

Jaya gets sent the equivalent of a wryly dirty look for her snickering comment to which he responds with a smirk, “Now take us men for example, we’re real simple. Turn up naked with booze and…we’re all good.” Until of course a woman not his significant other does so and then…he’s anything but good. Face fitting into a scowl, Max simply narrows his eye onto the barkeep but says nothing more on the topic of his daughter and putting his mother in the know. It’s what she says next that causes him to utter an incredulous snort, “Indira? You must really be needing that break if you think that to be so,” he states dryly. “She don’t do love.” For as far as he knows, she does anything under 35 turns that has the least possibility of having strings attached. The Masterharper? That one actually draws a guffaw from the beast manager, exhaling sharply almost immediately afterward for the sudden abuse it inflicted on his ribs. “She ain’t never met the Masterharper in her life before,” he’s finally able to give, highly amused by the notion, “She done played you, darlin’.” Well, Indira’s never met the man as far as he knows. A smirk greets her retort on klah parties, “Was thinking more sewing circle in your case.” Reclaiming the bottle, he’s about halfway through swallowing down a mouthful when she asks after him and Ahnika and whether they’ve seen each other recently or not. Swallowing a little too quickly he’s having to clear his throat against the catch that forms there and then he’s the picture of innocence save for the faintly goofy grin that edges through. Shrugging slightly his answer is likely more truthful than she might have expected, “We have our good days and our bad days. Don’t help that brownriding git’s been putting ideas into her head on how we ain’t gonna work out ‘cause she’s a rider now, and I ain’t.” A small amount of annoyance for that slips in and then is washed away with a smirk, “Think I got her laid out straight on that one. For now anyway.” And then he too falls into teasing dramatics, “So no tall, dark and handsome lurking in the shadows then?” a soft ‘tsking’ sound is made. “Might have to send you one for your Turnday. Bow around his neck and all.” Grin.

“You’re not that simple,” Jaya points out with a finger lifting right towards Max. “I’ve been around simple. You’re not it, shuga. That is a good thing, however.” As far as Indira is concerned, the beast manager’s answer on her gets a light shrug and a wry, “Hey, I could be wrong, but I don’t see you coming up with any plausible reasons for your mother’s behavior lately, either.” Still, the barkeep’s giving Max a look when he mentions that his mother had played her, not saying anything else on the matter. What does catch her attention is his reaction to her asking after him and the green weyrling, both brows lifting slightly when he sends her that faint goofy grin. Yes, she was expecting some flippant response to her question, so when he does speaking more truly there’s a peak of interest shown on what he says. “I’m assuming ‘that browning git’ is her Weyrlingmaster?” she takes a guess, remembering the man when he first walked into her bar and nodding her understanding. “Not really his business, is it? Besides, the way I hear it, it’s not that uncommon for a rider to be with a non-rider.” Her mind immediately went to a certain gold weyrling and the old love of her life coming back and she adds in, “Why would there be a problem? Because of the flights?” Because the way she saw it, that couldn’t be helped – but then, Jaya’s a naturally sexual person. “She has any idea when Jhath can be allowed to fly out of the Weyr?” she suddenly asks, a sudden idea starting to take root in her head, because down to the truth of the matter, she liked Max and Ahnika together – and she has come a long way toward admitting that considering how things started out between the three. Her frown was more from disapproval on what was said against them. Max’s return teasing question immediately gets a snort and a roll of her eyes as she drops her back against the seat. “I don’t think Shijan counts if you’re talking about lurking, shuga,” she notes dryly with a shake of her head. “I seem to have an ‘amazing gift’ of choosing men that either end up belonging with someone else or just sees me as a good time.” Well, his truth gets her truth in response. Shrugging with hands lifting up briefly, “At least I’ve got my booze,” she lets him know with a wink. She’d probably be up the creek without it. “And if you’re serious about sending me one for my turnday? Can he not be a prick? I’d really appreciate it, though at this point, the best turnday gift I did get was that washrag from Keane.” It’s all said with a sardonic twist, but it’s also laced with enough humor that one might think she’s simply making the situation lighter than it is.

Max can't rightly deny his lack of simplicity, not given the current re-arrangement of his face. For simple men don't get their faces pounded in, right? His open eye rolls expressively at Jaya's next, "For all I know, she ran into Ritalia while she was up there," Telgar way, "and from what I hear, that woman's enough to put a dragon on edge, aye?" Which might be the reason for his concern over the Headwoman's slightly distracted state since her turn from the North. Next he sets the barkeep with a look that undeniably reads 'Duh!' when she questions the identity of the brownrider he'd referenced. Jaw tightening a little he shifts in his chair, as if uncomfortable due to injuries, or perhaps it's the topic of flights brought up. Then again maybe not as evidenced in the deep smirk that forms over the latter, "Got me a plan in place for those." A short shake of head as he adds, "W'red told her he ain't never seen it work out. Fuck it!" the expletive describing his annoyance, "he don't know shit about us, aye? Just 'cause he ain't seen it work before, don't mean we can't make it." As to when Ahnika and Jhath may leave the Weyr an odd smile shoves the irritation aside, "Not soon enough for my liking. Been working on something…" that given in slightly conspiratorial tone but he doesn't complete the sentence for next it's a sly grin pushes out. "The way Indira puts it…he counts alright." But doesn't qualify that statement as once again a frown forms, expression and tone dropping sombre, "You deserve better, darlin'." Some of that 'brotherly' instinct coming to the fore in small measure. With his uninjured brow going he does his best to hide the amusement the washrag comment draws into place, "Wait. Keane gave you a…washrag?" Nope, there's the snicker, "Why?"

Frowning slightly at the comment made about the Neratian crimelord, “I’d be surprised to find Talia anywhere in the Telgar vicinity, considering,” Jaya notes on that possibility given. “Not even all her, ah, tactics would work on Lorien for him to keep someone like her in his territory. You better hope you don’t have to deal with her yourself, shuga.” On the topic of the Weyrlingmaster, Max’s answer to one such as flights draw a level of interest up from the barkeep. “What, planning on tying Jhath up when she gets proddy?” she guesses on his ‘plan’, amusement coloring her tone. “And you’re right. He really can’t assume. I mean, you and her made it this far, right? That’s more dedication than I’ve seen between Holders. Like I said, you aren’t simple.” The smile more prominent now, “If you were, that scene I walked in on between you and Beddie would have gone a whole lot different,” she notes on that matter with a brief incline of her head. When she hears that Ahnika can’t fly out of the Weyr yet, her lips pressed together before she says, “Whisking them away late at night?” because Ahnika was not going to go without her dragon, she was sure. Max’s sly grin gets open curiosity though, the barkeep shaking her head at his statement regarding her bodyguard before she puts out there, “The both of you, really. You must be talking about the randier Waine or something.” As far as she was concerned, Shijan’s been the picture of innocence so far. Then his next sober words get a lingering pause from her before she shrugs some of her bravado on and states, “Hey, I manage. You know me. My family doesn’t have a history of normal relationships.” Chin dropping as she looks pointedly at him now, “Which is why I’m rooting for you and Ahni to defy this Weyrlingmaster and work out just fine,” she adds with slight amusement. If she could help it, she was hoping to do the same for Rio and Kaskan, too, though there’s much less certainty there. His last on her odd turnday gifts gets short laughter from the Bitran as she leans forward and answers with, “A washrag, you heard me! Keane’s the practical sort. He saw it as appropriate. I wanted to smack him with it. My next turnday, though, I’m hoping for a little more than some washrag. At least it was a clean one, I’ll give him that.”

Lips purse slightly with what Jaya reveals of Ritalia's habits, his only hope being that his mother had indeed remained in Telgar as she was supposed to do and not…gone wandering up Nerat's way, (and the lady crime boss) as she'd planned on doing before Randi had found them. He sets that aside however, that same sly smirk dropping into place, "Let's just say that there’s a Southern blue that'll be taking an interest in young Jhath soon as she's old enough for him to be making contact with her." Oh? Max's attention drops away, a small smile appearing as he shrugs in awkward gesture for what the woman he's fast becoming rather fond of says for his and the redhead's loyalty to one another. Quiet a time before eyes lift and he states simply, "I need her." That retiring smile deepening into a crooked grin for whisking the green pair away one night, "Something like that. Still got a few creases I need to iron out though." Like procuring an empty Weyr and then somehow getting it fitted out in a manner conducive to what he has in mind for the time away with Ahnika. Low laughter switches him from that topic to the one of Jaya's bodyguard, "You're taken him with you on that break of yours, aye?" an amusedly pointed look ending his words. All jesting falls away with the beast manager setting the barkeep with a sincere expression of gratitude for her declaration of supporting his and the green weyrling's relationship. "I know we got off to a pretty rocky start you and me," silent a few moments before adding with an intent look fitting to the dark haired woman, "Having your friendship…that means a lot to me, Jaya." That solemn moment lingers a time longer and than he's turning out a short chuckle on the Telgari barkeep's idea of appropriate Turnday gifts, "Coulda been worse. He coulda given you a bag of sweetsand, yeah?" Which would have inferred that the woman was dirty.

“You’re hoping Jhath will choose this…blue?” Jaya tries to grasp the plan, a brow lifting before tacking on, “I see. Devious, especially if you’re okay with this blue’s rider?” In either case, Max’s sinple statement of needing the green weyrling is taken in understood silence, the barkeep slow to send him a genuine smile in wordless response to that. Well, almost silent, for the woman simply adds in her husky tone, “You’re both lucky,” – which pretty much sums up her feelings on them. Max’s next draws an awkward dip of her head though, the woman well remembering their ‘rocky start’. Meeting that intent look, “I guess the Weyr does have a way in changing a person,” she admits to having changed herself wryly – for if she were the same selfish woman that walked into the Weyr, she still wouldn’t have had anything to do with the beast manager. “And hey, yours mean a lot to me too, shuga. Who else am I going to harass with Keane is far north of me? We’ll be fine, you and I.” That moment lingers a little bit longer, and then she drops back to the topic of Ahnika and plans of whisking her away into the night with an amused, “Need any help with that, you know where I usually am.” Beat. And, well, she’s not saying anything on the account of Shijan, her gaze taking in that look and that pointed question and seeming to file that away to ponder on later. The amusement is still there, however, especially in regards to her bodyguard as she finally heaves herself out of the chair and addresses his last. “Sweetsand? Don’t tempt him, Max,” she warns lightly, even though Keane isn’t present. “All I really need for my turnday is a crate of whiskey and a place to get sloshed. In that, I’m pretty simple.” She winks his way before stepping away from the desk, stretching out her arms a bit as she fights back a yawn.

Expression more than a little smug, Max leans carefully back in his seating and laces fingers together over his abdomen, "Salisha seems to think her blue's up to the job." No honorific in that name given there. Silence for a time until breaking it with a solemnly given, "You had every right to hate me, Jaya. I was a prick. So thank you." For giving him that second chance. Solemnity gives way with a chuckle, "Maybe its time I paid Keane another visit and see what sort of harassment I should be preparing for, huh? But aye, we'll be fine," warmth infusing his tone. The offer of help is given a thoughtful pause but the beast manager doesn't take her up on it. Yet. The smile and acknowledging dip of head his responding appreciation for it having been made. Once again that boyishness falls into place in the form of a cocky grin for putting ideas into Keane's head, "You know…the more I think about it…the more I'm starting to see the merit in paying Telgar another visit sometime soon." Oh dear. Pushing up clumsily to his feet as Jaya does his smile is more genuine, though it does hold a slightly thoughtful cast to it, "You've had your last Turnday spent at the bottom of a bottle, darlin'." Especially if he has anything to do with it. Taking stock of that yawn he limps a few steps closer, hand swinging out as if to swat at her behind, "G'wan with you. Go to bed. We'll talk when you get back, aye?"

Salisha? That gets slow, peeling laugher from the barkeep. Shaking her head, “Weyrbred through and through,” is Jaya’s comment to that, the drawl laced with her Bitran accent. The laughter dies off at his next though, the thoughtful demeanor present as she regards the beast manager in the lingering pause before putting forth soberly, “Didn’t hate you, Lomaxin. Looking back on it all, I did overreact just a bit. I sum it up to me being in a new place with new, unusual folks all around me.” Bravado is there again as she says it, since it’s easier to own up to her feelings in that manner. Talk of her former Blood and Bucket boss always draw a fond smile from her – “You should. I know I need to, as well. Indira tells me he’s looking much better when she went up to see him. If you go up there and get that man to get me sweetsand for my turnday, Max, I’m going to come in here one day and steal all of your booze.” There’s no pause between the two statements, catching that cocky grin and sending back a rather cheeky one. Once she on her feet and done stretching, Max’s words on spending her last turnday sloshed gets a light frown from the barkeep as she turns to regard him. “Don’t…think I can stop, shuga,” she openly admits the inevitable now, alluding to the fact that she’s tried to quit in the past. Her concern shows when he limps forward, but she eyes that swinging hand and she’s ducking back and away from it before it could make contact with a short snort. “I’ll drop off that kit in the morning,” no, she hasn’t forgotten. With a stern look accompanying that, she heads towards the door and turns a nod over her shoulder at him. “Nnn. I’ll see you when I get back. Try to keep yourself in one piece while I’m gone? Don’t make me have Suli look in you.” Because that’s exactly what Max would want, right? Riiight.

With Jaya putting two and two together, that smug look he's wearing simply deepens, sending a wink for her Weyrbred comment. Smugness dissipates with her thoughtful pause, a rueful expression appearing as he gives quietly, "And I was still trying to make every woman I came across…pay for…" words trailing off as he says more than he'd ever intended too. Dropping his attention away with a quick clearing of throat Max puts response to her comment on Keane and his gifting style instead, "Is that a promise or a threat, Dicori?" recovering some of his cockiness once again. He'd well expected her to sidestep his hand, the gesture having been half-hearted to begin with the grin that had started to form, melting off as he sets her with long and considering look for her words on her love affair with the bottle. "Used to say the same thing myself, darlin'." Stating his understanding rather than getting on her case about it. A show is made of patting himself down lightly before putting on a mock sulk for keeping himself in one piece, "Now you gone done and spoilt all my fun." Yeah right. The remark on having Suli looking in on him has the beast manager sending a dirty look her way, "I'd rather shag a watchwher."

Yeah, Jaya caught that statement before it trails, but she does given Max a long look for it before acknowledging it with an even “Understandable.” She could understand that, now that she knows all that he’s been through. Who was she to judge, really? She lets it off in favor of more amusing talk involving Keane, the woman snorting and rolling her eyes towards him with a brief, “A promise. You’ll have no choice but to come to my bar and pay to get the crate back.” Poor Max. She might give a discount. Might. Opening the door and finding Shijan there waiting, as expected, Max’s return on drinking gets a considerable look over her shoulder before a gentle smile peels out. “But now you have her,” she notes in return, not needing to elaborate on what perhaps had changed the beast manager from how he was when she first met him. It’s simply stated matter-of-factly, even. Now heading out with laughter in her wake to his last, “Somehow I know the feeling would be mutual,” is all she says on the Telgari barmaid’s behalf, steps taking her out of the office and down the stable as she heads back to the comfort of her bar.

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