Checks And Balances

Participants:

Jaya.jpg Jonavan.jpg

Date: Oct. 9, 2010
Location: The Bar, EW
Synopsis: Jonavan comes by to collect on an offer of cards and whiskey. The two end up baiting each other over their secrets and get more than what they bargained for.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Jaya


The bar’s been closed for an hour now, with its barmaid’s gone and retired and its bouncer still lingering about at the entrance in the case that Jaya should dismiss him. For Jaya herself, she’s behind the counter sliding all of her profits into an open pouch, having just tallied them up for the night with a satisfied smile. The bag vanishes into a pocket just as soon as the last one is collected, and the scarred-faced woman bends to pull out her routine bottle and glass and set them both on the table. She pours herself a glass of the heady-looking liquid immediately, studiously ignoring the fact that Shijan was present as she begins in the night’s bout of drinking.

When Jonavan tries to come strolling in, he doesn't get far, barred with the simple fact that the bar's closed. "I've got a card game to lose," is what he explains to Shijan, looking beyond and calling out to Jaya, "Hey, were you planning on drinking that all by yourself?" He's cleaned up a little for the occasion, hair still damp from a recent bath and a white button-up shirt pulled on, only slightly creased.

Jonavan’s arrival gets immediate attention from Shijan, the tall man moving as if to block him from further entrance. His eyes narrow as he begins to speak, but Jaya’s husky alto beats him to it. “Let him through. Doubt I have anything to worry about with a healer.” Shijan turns to pin Jaya with a look, then the man steps to the side to let him through. Arms folding, he’s not going away just yet as he returns to manning the entrance – his gaze staying on Jonavan when he moves on. “So. You’re actually here,” the barkeep notes, collecting up both filled glass and bottle and moving from behind the counter to approach him and one of the tables. A pleased smile in place, she nods her greeting to him as she sets them down at one of the card tables. “I did promise you whiskey, didn’t I?” she seems to tease despite the sardonic twist to her words, her dark eyes openly regarding him in his clothes. She herself still remains in her peasant top with one shoulder exposed and a trouser pant that houses many pockets for the various things she carries.

"You think we're so harmless? Slip too much aconite into your drinks and you wouldn't make that mistake again," Jonavan says, cheerful as he announces the possibility of a poisoning. He glances at Shijan to see how the bodyguard-bouncer takes it, hoping for a reaction to his needling, then slides right past to meet Jaya at the card table. "Whisky goes straight to my heart. How could I refuse?"

Jaya pauses as she steps away from the table to get another glass at Jonavan’s comment, an amused brow lifting before she snorts. Continuing on towards the counter while Shijan throws a heavily dark look, but the man doesn’t move. “Thought you were looking to play cards,” Jaya notes in that pause, returning to him with an extra glass and setting it down. “Not to die,” and she nods with her chin sharply towards the bodyguard explanation to her statement. She’s throwing a crooked smile Jonavan’s way anyway, bending to pour the bottle’s contents into his glass promptly. “Quite the man of simple pleasures, shuga,” she notes while pouring to his last, her gaze stealing out to meet his own. “Whiskey and teenaged girls – unless that extends to boys, too? I don’t seem to recall you making the distinction.” Or perhaps he did and she’s goading him in return, which seems to be the current nature of their relationship. She holds out his glass of whiskey then, letting the crooked smile grow more pronounced before adding, “Perhaps dragon poker? I promise not to fleece you of your marks too much. Men with egos that lose too much have a tendency not to come back.”

"Everyone underestimates healers." The healer in question doesn't sound put out, merely raising the objection. "Don't worry," he adds, looking back and addressing Shijan, "I'm all out of aconite and will just have to make do with my acerbic tongue. Though something tells me that won't kill your boss." He pulls out a seat with a mild scrape and sits, waiting for Jaya. "Only at Turnover," Jonavan fires back, casual as can be as he reaches out for the proffered whisky. "Be careful of my ego please. I like it intact. Dragon poker sounds fine; I think I remember that one."

“Takes more than aconite and your wonderful wit to kill me,” Jaya quips behind him in agreement, releasing her hold on the glass as she finally takes her seat from across him. Eyes falling beyond Jonavan towards Shijan then with a pointed lift of chin, “Besides,” she drawls out, her words intended for the healer despite her gaze falling on the other, “something tells me you wouldn’t have gotten the aconite out of your pocket before he had you on the floor. ‘Least I think so, seeing as how I’ve yet to truly to see him in action.” Eyes turn towards Jonavan, as if she were going to prompt him to try the man at that very moment. Instead, she laughs shortly at his next line, taking up her own whiskey and bringing it to her lips while studying him. It’s only after the lingering sip that she tips the glass very slight towards him in indication of her next observation: “I imagine you would have made an interesting dragonrider. I’ll try to keep your ego intact. You have become one of my favorites, after all.” Glass goes down and she leans forward to claim the deck of cards at the center of the table. She starts to deal out the cards, gaze lingering on the older man before the last card is given and the rest of the table space is set up for play.

"At least you admit that my wit is, in fact, wonderful." Jonavan says it smugly; so far the ego seems not to have been bruised. He takes up his drink and tries it slowly, swirling the amber liquid first. "Knew you couldn't resist," he notes, sounding satisfied to have gotten Jaya to admit his favourite-status. He keeps his whisky in hand and reaches out for his cards with the one left free, going on to say, "What's wrong with being an interesting healer? Honestly, I don't see what all the fuss about dragonriders is. Half of them have a death wish and pretend it's nobility. I like my skin unscored, thank you very much."

Once the cards are dealt, and the wager is given on marks, Jaya starts the dragonpoker game with some of gambler’s mask already in place. Peering at her hand of cards, “Do you not get it said enough, or is it that I seem to be the only woman for miles that doesn’t seem to mind your brand of humor?” she puts forth idly, her eyes not straying from her cards as she starts to rearrange them in her hand. “If so, that would be a shame. Not that I myself am so ‘sweetly-tempered.” At Jonavan’s words of her not resisting, dark eyes finally raise to meet his own over her cards before saying, “You are indeed an interesting healer.” Brows lift and fall to that. “I only mean to say you could snark your way through a Thread fight and probably not have a single strand touch you.” Eyes back on her cards and she’s shuffling out the necessary cards as she covers her cards close to herself. “I agree, though. Until recently, didn’t really have much interest in the lives of dragonriders, either. Us, ah, holdless folk have a tendency to want to avoid them.” After the necessary moves, she reveals her high hand of cards, eyes lifting in askance for him to do the same. “Turned down being searched when I moved out here,” she admits in the pause, the smirk light. “I would feel too sorry for the poor dragon got saddled with this brand of Bitran trouble,” and she lifts her glass with her free hand in a sort of toast before taking a drink.

"Oh, I just like hearing it. Goes with the ego." Jonavan collects his cards, setting down the whisky in the process, and moves between studying his hand and studying his opponent. The game, as he plays it, is as much about perception as it is luck of the draw. "Never gave it a thought, myself. Happy where I was. Turning it down though - you don't often hear that. Isn't it supposed to be an honour you don't refuse?" He shows his cards, and the round goes to Jaya. Jonavan hasn't lost much though, betting low as he gets the feel for the play.

“No wonder any other woman sees a project when they look at you,” Jaya harks back to their previous conversation, the woman holding back any celebratory movements as she wins the hand. Reaching forward for the small pile of marks, “Come from a family where business was honor,” she answers Jonavan while she collects, throwing him an amused look. “Some dragonriders like to interfere with business. That’s a problem, but still…” marks get pocketed and she’s collecting up the cards next in the pause. “Still. The problems I got? Don’t think I should be dragging any dragon into it, shuga.” Her tone is a little more serious at this, but it’s brief since she flashes the healer a smile and she slides him some cards for the next hand. Claiming her glass in hand again, “Tell me,” she prompts, the glint in her eyes there as she regards the man across from her with a little lopsided smirk. “You got a fascination with Landing, and I know it goes far deeper than just relieving the stress of nubile teenagers. Care to share, or am I just going to have to take you hostage tonite until I get something out of you?” One could easily take that as open innuendo, and it’s likely so despite the snarky tone she uses.

Jonavan responds with a smirk and relaxes in his seat, rolling one shoulder back as he puts his arm up on the top of the chair. The comfortable position only lasts a moment while he takes another sip, and then Jonavan comes forward again to take the cards and slowly shuffle. "I dunno, some would say a dragon at your back is about as good a security as you can get. And it seems like you need it, or at least someone thinks you do." He slants a look back towards Shijan's post, chin coming up slightly. "Not that I'm encouraging you to take up the offer to Stand. You don't /seem/ insecure, like you need to compensate for some inner lack." He deals out the cards leisurely, looking at Jaya with an eyebrow raised as she poses her question. Jonavan being Jonavan, he doesn't pass up the opportunity to plumb the comment for innuendo. "That depends. Should I /want/ you to take me hostage tonight?"

Dark eyes slide towards Shijan at Jonavan’s frank comment, “Another has said that once,” Jaya admits, her tone dry. “A bit too late now. Sides, there’s no certainty of me Impressing, anyway. I should blush by your sincere compliment of not quite calling me insecure.” She tacks the last on, the lopsided smirk, claiming her hand of cards with a lingering look his way. It’s only after a moment that she finally peers down at her new hand of cards, not showing either expression other than a straight-faced one as she starts to rearrange them. While doing this, his response to her question gets a blithe, “I promise to be a good captor,” she drawls, eyes flicking up to meet the healer’s. “And if not, you could always ply me with aconite if you’re looking for a challenge. Just don’t expect me to behave.” She reveals her low hand, the woman immediately taking up her glass with a brief press of lips and draining it of its whiskey.

"Always next clutch, right, if you decide you want a go. Ha! Take a look at that," Jonavan crows, sweeping up the marks he's won after throwing his cards down face-up with a flourish. The grin he shows upon carrying off the round grows fuller as he considers Jaya's commentary on captivity. He leans forward, still steadfastly mute on the subject of Landing, and points out, "See, when you talk about it that way, /why/ would anyone in their right mind give up privileged information so easily?"

“Be-ginner’s luck,” Jaya pronounces those words coolly, lips pressing together again as she reaches over for the bottle to refill her glass. Eyes watching the path of her poor marks going towards Jonavan’s care, “I allowed you that one, shuga,” she states in her own arrogance, her newly filled glass being reclaimed as she leans back in her seat. She tosses her own cards towards him to deal out the next hand while his latter words gives her a brief considerable pause. Studying him when he leans forward, “So this information is that privileged?” she points out that part of his words, the little brat that she is. “Hmm, interesting.” She’s slow to lean forward now, the glass moving to the side of her as she closes some of the proximity between them. “I don’t know many men that would like to be tied up,” she puts out there, as if that was the very thing she was looking to do to her captive. “Or, I could choose to just make this next game’s wager more…intriguing?” Brow lifts imperceptibly at that. “I mean, if you prefer to continue losing marks to me. It’s your ego, after all.” The challenge is there, the scarred woman slowly leaning back before bringing the glass of whiskey to her smirking lips.

Jonavan brushes aside the remark with a snort and tips back the rest of his drink. "Right. I probably have ten Turns playing experience on you. Even with you being Bitran and all." He slides his glass forward with the hope Jaya cares to refill it and busies his hands with the cards, shuffling quicker and sharper than the first go-round. "I don't see what you have against the hot technicians explanation. I thought it was good." The man meets her threat with a long, lazy grin, but chooses to clarify on a former point. "Privileged because you can't have it. And that bothers you." And amuses him, by all appearances. Jonavan re-shuffles rather than dealing the cards out, waiting to hear Jaya's suggested wager first. "You're quite sure about winning, but go on then. What do you have in mind?"

“Only ten turns?” Jaya shakes her head to that, as if the Bitran was expecting more from the man. “No wonder you lost the first one. Tsk, tsk.” Deliberately goading him, she’s smiling as she reaches forward to refill Jonavan’s glass without taking her eyes off of him. “As to your little explanation, that’s an awfully far distance to just be looking for notches on your bedpost, Journeyman,” she notes, setting the bottle down. “And please.” A hand presses to the table, chin lifting at him before she adds, “I’m a barkeep, shuga. I like to know who I’m dealing with at all times. Too many, ahh, tunnelsnakes in the ground for me not to?” She lets that mull over before giving a one shoulder shrug. “And yes, it bothers me. I like to want what I can’t have sometimes.” Since honesty is the name of the game this night, she doesn’t bother hiding that point. Her gaze falls to those shuffling cards then, pausing before putting the wager to him. “If I win, you talk,” she says that, just as simply. “But if you win…” she trails, a brow lifting in askance in allowing him to choose whatever he deems on his side of the bargain.

"Should've known that Bitrans start playing from birth," Jonavan jokes, rolling his eyes. His hands make a bridge of the cards, with the satisfying sound as the cards flutter back into place. "Heard something about tunnelsnakes today," he comments casually, watching the self-styled barkeep for reaction. "Something about Bitrans spying around here." There's a question to his tone although he doesn't outright ask anything, instead smiling a little at her admittance. "Well, since we're playing for information," and here Jonavan pauses to imply that the wagers could well be other things, "if I win, you tell me what that Bitran spying's about." With the wager on offer, he deals the cards.

Jaya throws Jonavan a look for his Bitran comment, “How else do we develop our pristine egos?” gets tossed back easily, though the amusement is short-lived. That smile threatening to come forth falters at further words, the scarred woman meeting his eyes steadily as she tries to figure this new angle from the healer. “Where did you hear that nonsense?” she asks, showing him a blank look that could be taken for a joke considering her words from before. And then there’s his wager, the pause getting just that suggestive hint in her gaze that doesn’t get voiced yet, “Very well,” she drawls, reaching for her cards being dealt. Eyes on him pointedly, “There’s plenty of time for other wagers when you lose,” she adds, confident that this particular game will be the case for him. “Though you disappoint, Journeyman. There are far more valuable questions you could have asked instead of that one.” She won’t elaborate, however, merely going to picking up the cards and looking at them with a straight face.

Jonavan finishes dealing and lifts his gaze to Jaya's, trying to decode her expression but admittedly not knowing her well. "Infirmary's occasionally an interesting place," he says noncommittally and leans forward to gather his cards. "Hm, we'll see," the healer replies, playing his cards close to his chest. Jonavan studies his hand a minute before returning his attention to Jaya. He shrugs at her statement of disappointment, apparently not too put out by it. "Maybe. I'm curious though, and you're the only Bitran I've met so far."

“Odd place to hear such news,” Jaya is quick to note, laying free her suspicions as she meets his eyes over her hand of cards. “And there’s plenty of Bitrans here. They’re just not like me.” Clearly. “Be interested in hearing where you got this information from though,” she adds with forced non-chalance, keeping her eyes now on her cards as she rearranges them properly. “Unless this is a healer-patient confidentiality moment? I know those tend to crop up at the most convenient times.” Just like the barkeep-patron confidentiality moments, but she’s not going to bring that up. Once she’s done, she meets Jonavan’s eyes again in the challenge and nods towards his hand. “You first, shuga.”

"Patients say strange things when they're screaming their heads off." Jonavan runs his hand through his hair while staring at his cards, then calmly folds his hand and taps the cards against the table. "Interesting that you're interested," is his sole comment while tossing out the marks into the centre of the table, betting higher than he has thus far, and waits for to either match or fold before he shows his hand.

When Jonavan tosses marks to the center of the table, that gives Jaya considerable pause. Blinking once as she watches those marks, “Why can I not be interested?” she turns the question on him, letting her gaze meets his then. “If someone’s running around, saying such things, I think it best that I know about it. Barkeep and all.” Right, use that as an excuse. It’s slow, but the woman leans back and tosses marks into the center of the table now to match his. Eyes meet his in the challenge again, letting silence reign as she moves her own hand of cards close to her chest.

Jonavan considers at length before he ups the ante a little more. After waiting for Jaya to follow suit, he lays his cards down. "You might reasonably assume that if someone's spouting their mouth in the infirmary, they'd do similarly in here," he points out, waiting to see if Jaya's hand is higher than his own and taking up his drink in the interim.

Ante is upped just a bit more and Jaya’s eyes shoot towards that revealing hand. Eyes narrowing, she doesn’t yet reveal her own. She regards Jonavan’s cards, then Jonavan himself, then those cards again with narrowed eyes. “You would think,” she belatedly answers his comment, her tone wooden. “This isn’t a good hand,” she announces, finally tossing her lower hand before her for him to see and sitting back against her chair. She takes up her whiskey, draining it close to empty in the lingering silence before setting the glass down. Meeting his eyes, “I find it more interesting that you’re so curious about this sort of thing,” she notes now, seeming to prolong from having to answer his question now that he won.

It turns out that Jonavan does indeed know how to play. He contains his smile, keeping it something cautiously triumphant rather than preening. "Spies sort of get your attention," he says, nonchalant as he leans back in turn. "All I heard was something about everyone not being on the same side and Bitran thugs in the mix. Was just wondering how you're involved. Since you're Bitran and have hired protection." He evidently assumes Jaya's involvement in whatever it is and speaks on that assumption, looking at her with certain expectancy.

It also turns out that Jonavan is pretty observant, too. Jaya says nothing at his smile and words, the talk of spies seeming to bore the woman. “You’re assum—“ she begins when he asks how she was involved, but then he’s bringing up Shijan. Eyes go beyond the healer towards the bodyguard, her expression a closed one before she brings it back to Jonavan. Running a hand over her mouth with a heavy sigh, “This is not……common knowledge,” she admits, her voice turning even now as she regards the man before her steadily. “I really do need to know who’s spouting off about that, shuga. Only a few know.” After a lengthy pause, “There are no spies,” she clears that up crisply, arms coming to fold across her chest. “Just hired men looking to kill me, is all.” Well, he wanted an answer. It could very well be her goading him again, but one wouldn’t know with the Bitran barkeep.

"He wouldn't still be here if it were just about the bar." Jonavan doesn't look back as he references Shijan, far more interested in Jaya's reactions than stealing another peek at the man still posted at the door. "Oh. Well, at least that's cleared up," he says, being flippant though his regard is serious enough. The healer cradles his drink and resettles, shrugging when it comes to providing names. "Don't know the name, didn't say." He has a description of course, and a pretty good one at that, but Jonavan doesn't give up his information easily. "Wouldn't have even said what she did if she hadn't been such a terrible liar."

“Nothing’s ever that easy, is it?” Jaya drops dryly, perhaps alluding to his own evasive moves on providing information. The rest gets her stony silence, the woman looking the healer over as if through looks alone she could crack open his skull and find out what she wants to know. She may not have a name or a description, but she now has a pronoun. “She,” she states that aloud, nodding once. “A terrible liar. Good to know. I answered your question,” she goes onto say, leaning forward with her glass of whiskey, “but it’s left me unsatisfied. That needs to remedied,” and the look going Jonavan’s way is a pointed one despite the suggestion laced into those words. “Another game, perhaps, where I win this time?” And there’s an ‘or’, hanging unspoken with that heavy pause since a brow lifts pertly in askance.

Jonavan, seemingly immune to the force of Jaya's stare, picks up on the fact that his use of a female pronoun hasn't gone unremarked upon and grins. "Oh, I could just tell you the Landing deal. It's entirely prosaic," Jonavan remarks, deliberately misinterpreting Jaya's request for another game, another wager. Still, he gestures for her to take up the cards and deal them, if she wants.

Eyes narrowing slightly, “You could have told me before,” Jaya points out, lips pressed together at the sudden change from the healer. “But, I see you’ve got some Bitran blood in you.” She could have very well walked into an information trap, and she’s realizing it with a hard stare. “How apt. Maybe you are the spy?” She’ll play that up, especially considering she had just told him that there were no spies after all. She reaches for the cards though, regarding him as she does so before adding, “Don’t think I want to play anymore.” Her gaze is unreadable, hard to tell whether these words are ominous in nature or the barkeep is playing another game entirely.

"Where's the fun in that?" Jonavan has another grin at the ready, entirely unrepentant. "Telgar," he corrects, being annoyingly precise as if he doesn't know the remark's a metaphor. He leans forward, closing distance across the small table, resting his forearms on the surface. "That's an entirely predictable thing to say. If I were a spy, I'd have to be a pretty stupid one to walk into a situation that raised that sort of question. Do I look stupid to you?" His tone, for once, is serious and his gaze similarly direct.

“Didn’t peg you for being so fun-loving,” Jaya quips back with a roll of her shoulders, staring Jonavan down for his precise answers. Even to the last, his leaning forward doesn’t have her backing down. If anything, the scarred woman leans forward more herself, closing that distance just a bit more as she stares at him dead-on for his serious words. Flat in tone, “If I’m so predictable in speaking,” she drawls that out, undaunted by his own tone, “then why bother asking me about these dubious spies in the first place?” To his own pointed question there’s a pause, the woman toying with what response to make to that. “No,” she decides to answer, her face a careful mask, “But neither am I. Gonna sulk, or something?” The light challenge is there again in her eyes on what his response would be, the woman perhaps pushing buttons – or at least testing the man – in that regard. Only this time, no card deck is involved.

"Curiosity," Jonavan supplies as answer to why he asks, plain and simple. "I like knowing things." Here again, his slight smile that only touches the corners of his mouth. "Sulk?" He echoes the word and pretends to consider it, eyes rolling up to an unspecified corner of his vision. "Mmmm…no," he decides, gaze swinging back to Jaya and the earnestness relaxing; the goading comes as a source for enjoyment for him, and he would be derelict if he didn't rise to the occasion. "Stupid women might be easier, but the appeal doesn't last. I get bored quickly."

“Then you’re just as bad as I am,” Jaya answers on his curiosity, finally allowing herself to show the glimmers of a smile again. “Maybe a little worse, even. Goading a poor, defenseless Bitran barkeep into a card game so that she could divest of her secrets.” Well, that’s clearly not quite how it all went, but the young woman may be given appreciation for effort. Eyes fall to his lips that crease into that slight smile briefly, leaning on her elbows more since she doesn’t yet move from his personal space. “Stupid men are much easier to con,” she tacks on behind his own words on the matter, her tone matter-of-fact, “but after a while they cause me to dump them on their mother’s doorstep. Are you bored now?” The question comes without pause, eyes never leaving Jonavan’s face as her voice lowers for his ears alone.

The laughter is in Jonavan's expression rather than voiced when it's suggested that he's worse than a Bitran. "I bet you have a knife up your sleeve," he counters as far as defenseless goes, and returns Jaya's regard, openly speculative. "Not yet." He matches the barkeep first in pitch, then mirrors her line of questioning. "Are you conning me? Card games don't count. And my mother's pretty far away."

Jaya’s amusement laid bare in her eyes when it doesn’t reach anywhere else. “Are you so sure?” she puts forth only too lightly on the account of her owning a knife anywhere on her person. Eyes flicking over the healer’s face, “You could always search me to be certain,” she adds in seeming innocence. And since he’s not bored yet, the scarred barkeep snorts out short laughter before answering his line of questioning. With a toss of her head, ebony hair brushing back with slender fingers, “Conning you?” Eyes lift up to the ceiling briefly as if to consider this, then adds quite wryly, “If I was, I would have had my tumble under the sheets and been done with you already. You’re still here.” Direct and to the point, she leans back only enough to claim her glass of whiskey, eyes sliding sidelong his way as she takes a long drink.

"Is that an invitation?" the man is quick to pick up on, dark eyebrows arching with the question. "Cause if it is, you might want to tell your security to look the other way. Unless you're into that sort of thing." Jonavan makes it sound like a real possibility. He straightens out of his forward lean and crosses his arms behind his head, relaxing into this opened posture. "I don't know whether to thank you or regret it," comes his comment when she admits no conning, couched in his dry, sardonic humour.

“Shijan doesn’t stick around forever,” Jaya names the man at the entrance easily, watching Jonavan with that smirk still in place. “And it is an invitation. Spend it when you get bored of me.” And then, when the healer leans back, she’s up out of her chair and crossing around towards him with that steady gaze of hers. It’s to his last that, if it connects, the woman would place a hand to one of his crossed arms and lean over to plant a seemingly chaste kiss on his lips. It would be surprisingly gentle and unexpected, and only as long as he allows it before breaking.

Jonavan holds his response as Jaya stands and makes her move, and the questioning aspect so frequent in his consideration of her turns more composed. He is surprised, certainly, by the quality of Jaya's kiss, and returns it simply as it is. When she breaks, he leans forward ever so slightly before she can move farther away to murmur, "Consider me bored."

She was going to move away once the kiss breaks and return to her seat, but Jonavan’s words stop her dead in her tracks. Jaya looks over her shoulder at him, the crooked smile full of trouble and debauchery slow to pull free at his response. Eyes shoot towards Shijan then, “I knew you couldn’t resist,” she plays his own words right back on him now, the barkeep looking quite pleased as she turns back around and moves away towards the counter with a sway of hips. As if expecting the man to follow, “I believe I was to check your head of hair much closer as well, hmm?” recalling their previous conversation from another night with ease before she’s reaching for the door to her quarters behind the counter.

Jonavan releases his arms and gets to his feet without taking his eyes off Jaya, yielding a brief, low chuckle. "I'll try to be less predictable," he rejoins with his own references to previous things said. A few quick strides bring him close enough to touch, limited to a restrained hand seeking her hip. He treats Jaya's question as coy, rolling his eyes while saying, "Sure, if /that's/ what you want," then follows her through to her private quarters, where he lets her do as she pleases.



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