Deserves It

Participants:

Bowen.jpg Cheusia.jpg

Date: 9/24/10
Location: Black River Bridge
Synopsis: Lured out by a mysterious note, Cheusia is stood up at the bridge outside the weyr, which is where Bowen (with his runner) finds her. He gives her a ride back to the weyr and the pair make some pretty deep revelations to one another which has the potential to undo everything.
Rating: PG18 - Language, adult situations and content and even a little face-sucking. (SCORE!)
Logger: Bowen

Black River Bridge

The wide Black River roils under the stone and wooden bridge crossing its span. The water of course isn't black, but more of a lazy dirty blue. The river valley is hilly, only flattening out close to the riverbanks, a stony expanse with the water swirling between the banks in a deep swift channel. The bridge itself is newly-built, mostly stone piles and framework, with the super-hard wood from skybroom trees making up the planks keeping people from getting their feet wet while crossing the river.


To many, it would be a surprise to see the healer down at the bridge, by herself and standing there alone. Waiting. And waiting… And waiting. She is even dressed differently, hair down and in a rather uncharacteristic dress. Her arms are folded across her chest as she stares blankly down into the water, blinking her grey eyes as they remain unfocused. No one looks to be arriving any time soon, either. And finally she breaks the silence with a string of curses.

It isn’t by way of the bridge and road that Bowen arrives to find Cheusia, of all people, standing there cursing. Nope. The stocky man comes by way of the riverbank. Strider is with him, though with the rocky riverbank on this side, he has chosen to walk his gelding at this point instead of ride him. His eyes are heavily shadowed under the brim of his hat this late in the afternoon, but there’s little mistaking the direction his attention settles as he spots the woman, her back turned to him in this direction at least, up on the bridge. He pauses a moment, taking her in, especially in that dress, and perhaps to some degree trying to make sure she is who he thinks she is, and then continues on along the bank, waiting until he is within better hearing distance to call up to her, “I reckon ya might be a bit put out with me, ma’am, most women are, but t’ain’t no call t’wanna jump off a bridge now.” His tone is dry, and it may be hard to tell if he is serious or actually trying his hand at gently teasing the Healer, “I ain’t worth such a fuss.”

Cheusia probably would have gone on staring into the water even if Bo had not said a word. Though it's the sight of him that causes her cheeks to darken a considerable shade of red for the first time around the man, clearly flustered and/or frustrated. "Don't call me ma'am!" Is the first thing that she can think of in retort before adding, "I wasn't going to jump." And his final statement earns a soft snort, "everyone has their own worth." Then, she shifts to get a better look at the man. "You can laugh at me if you want. Would serve me right at this point and I look like a fool. Have at it, then." A hand waves in invitation for him to mock her in her dress.

“Beggin’ yer pardon, but I sure as shells ain’t gonna call ya ‘fool’,” Bo offers up to her after one of his long, thoughtful moments, still standing where he is on the bank below. At least he didn’t call her ‘ma’am’ that time. Then a bit more softly, though still loud enough to carry, “I ain’t one t’laugh at a woman, least of all one in a purdy dress like that.” Pause, “It’s only likely t’end with a rollin’ pin upside my head.” Another pause, then he asks, “Y’need a ride back t’the weyr, m-“ he catches himself and turns it into, “mmmaybe?”

"Oh…" Che trails off, sighing. "Feeling like one." She admits, looking down to him at the bank below before her cheeks take on another shade of red before laughter follows. "I don't use rolling pins, sorry." She fidgets, just a bit at the offer and then reluctantly nods. "Please? I… Ah… Would really appreciate it. I don't want to stand out here for another candlemark or two…"

Even after Che finishes speaking, Bowen stares up at her a long moment, and from this angle-thankfully-it can’t be misconstrued as looking up her skirt. Then, without a word, he picks his way carefully and slowly up the bank, Strider in tow, and comes around to the road just before the bridge. “Y’been out here a candlemark? Or two?” He finally speaks, asking her this. “Beggin’ yer pardon, ma—ah, Che,” he starts, stumbling a little, “Th’ fool is th’ feller who lured y’out here an’ didn’t show up.” At least he is assuming it’s a fellow. He really doesn’t know much about Che’s preferences there. And that might sound like a compliment, which is kind of a first for this one who seems to enjoy sticking his boot in his mouth, but in reality, Bo is thinking the man must be a fool to even want to meet a woman out here like this, and then a bigger fool to leave her twisting in the wind, so to speak, because Bo can sure as hell imagine what said woman will do to said man, and it won’t be pretty. He continues on, then, leading his easy-going gelding onto the bridge and where she stands, “Y’ever rode before?”

Luckily, Che isn't really paying too much attention to where the man is standing, or the fact that he can't see up her skirt. Though, it is likely because of how often she wears pants. "Ah. Somewhere around that." She admit though the rest of his words have her staring at him long and hard and that vulnerable look is back. Fortunately, her bottom lip doesn't wibble with unshed years that are beginning to pile up. "Thanks. He left a note with one of the Apprentices… I thought…" She waves her hand in dismissal to that before she laughs. "It was silly of me. I haven't ridden alone before." Her approach is slow as she gives the tanner a look. "I can't figure you out."

Thank Faranth she doesn’t cry, or else there will be someone jumping off this bridge, and it won’t be her, or if it is, it will only be because Bo went in first. Maybe one day we’ll work him up to dealing with a weeping woman, but for now, let’s take this in baby steps. He’s talking. Sort of. That’s a start. Now that he is standing closer, he tips his hat respectfully, even if she doesn’t want to be called ‘ma’am’ right now, while she continues saying her peace. He remains quiet throughout it, his blue eyes just staying on her face, seemingly attentive, as she talks. When she finishes, there’s a couple heartbeats before he offers in that low husky voice of his, “M’sorry.” Though if that is in sympathy for her being stood up, or for her not being able to figure him out, he doesn’t say. He slowly turns his attention to Strider, gripping the gelding gently at the bridle and pulling him forward a little more past him to get the saddle more in front of them both. After a pause and while he is not looking at her, he states softly in a mildly tired tone, “Whutchya tryin’ t’figure, Che?” He’s not even asking why anymore.

Pride is what keeps her from crying, that and not showing a weak face to a man she's determined to figure out or at least determined to get him talking. "Not your fault. You didn't write me a note for nothing." She muses, and clearly she has no thoughts in assuming it was him and ripping into him for that. The runner is considered before grey eyes find the man again and she shrugs, "what you think. What makes you want to avoid women. What makes you don't think we can be friends. Lots of things. Mind healing training basics don't even seem to crack the surface for you."

Not thinking it was Bo who wrote the note is a good thing, especially since Bo wouldn’t really have a good way of proving his innocence, not at least in a way he’d like. He may not be listening, though, since he isn’t looking at her right now. Instead, he steps in closer to her, but only to loop the reins up and over Strider’s head and back to rest lightly around the saddle’s cantle. Then he is back standing next to the stirrup again. There is a slight sigh, directed at the saddle, and then he turns to look at Che. At long last, he speaks, and in a very soft voice, “There’s a lot of reasons I generally try t’stay outta women’s ways. Y’already know most of ‘em. I ain’t no good ‘round women. One or another always seems t’get mad at me ‘bout sumpthin and get t’badgerin’ till I ain’t got no peace, an’ more’n half th’time I don’t even get whut I dun wrong. The way I figure it, avoidin’ women saves everyone a lot of fuss.” Despite the words used, he doesn’t actually have a whiny, complaining tone. It’s still soft, spoken matter-of-factly. Like it was just an observation made by the tanner. It’s also not the whole truth, but he did say there were a lot of reasons. His blue eyes remain on her face as he adds, “If ya wanna be friends with a man like me, who seems t’never get nuthin’ right with women, then I reckon … I’ll … try.” Though he doesn’t go into the sudden change of mind on that, and then he adds, his eyes tightening at the corners, “An’ if I wanted a shardin’ mindhealer, I’d have gone t’th’ one posted at Southern after she died.”

"I think… You convince yourself that you're no good and you mess up because you're so worried about messing up." Che offers first, "avoiding us makes us seek you out. We… Are just that way, wanting to fix things most of the time. It's why we badger." Or, most of them. Che, at least does. She offers this little tidbit of information out for the tanner to wrap his mind around. "I'd like to be your friend, and that's all I'm asking you to do. Try. Don't worry about messing up around me, alright?" Though the last statement is met with a snort, "not trying to fix your mind, just trying to figure out. I figure if you wanted help, you'd've asked for it. I know you got enough sense to do that… Otherwise your leg would still be healing." She considers him for a long moment and then places a kiss on his cheek after pushing herself slightly up onto her toes. "Thanks for not calling me a fool."

To his credit, Bowen appears to be listening this time, staring at her as she speaks, giving her own interpretation of the ‘problem’ as it were while Strider stands beside him looking ready to fall asleep. He doesn’t even swish his tail or flick his ears at this point. If he seems more or less confused by the tidbit of information, it is not betrayed in his expression, which remains simply attentive, nothing more and nothing less. He continues to remain still except for the barest of nods to her asking him not to worry about messing up around her. Perhaps it is merely placating at this point, or perhaps he will genuinely try not to worry about it. But he acknowledges with a slight nod just the same. Then he stiffens slightly as she leans in for that kiss, however he doesn’t jerk away. He’s too slow moving to respond that quickly. Instead, his blue eyes continue to watch her, an edge of wariness in them, and then a glimmer of vulnerability as he says in a hoarse whisper, “There’s more to it, Che.” And here, he leans in a little, reaching for her waist slowly as he asks, “I’d . . like yer permission t’show ya, if I may.”

Cheusia keeps her attention clearly focused on him as she speaks, perhaps looking for hints of what she says is true, looking for his body to give away the little details. However, this is not the case and she gets nothing for an answer. When he doesn't pull away from the kiss she seems pleased, her grey eyes moving to meet blue ones even if they cast a wary look her way. The hint of vulnerability is met with a shocked silence but she blinks. "More? Sure. Go for it…" She's not as polite in giving her permission.

The stocky tanner settles that one hand at her waist, and while it draws her in closer, gently, the other hand tips his hat up a little more off his head so it won’t get in the way, and then drops to cup Che’s cheek gently, fingertips toying with her hair just past her ear. His blue eyes send her grey eyes a mournful look for the act Bowen is committing here as he bows his head down over her face, tipping her head back lightly with his hand, and oh so very slowly lowering his lips to press chastely against hers. That is how it starts at least. His lips brush hers, tender and light, and his eyes close, and if she hasn’t pulled away and slapped him, he will do it again, another brush, another soft caress, and this time he lifts his second hand up from her waist to cradle her opposite cheek in the same manner as the other, one thumb light stroking along the contours of her cheekbone, ever gentle, and ever sweet, and then his lips are drinking her in once more, pressing just a little more firmly now, allowing the kiss to linger before he parts his lips and simultaneously, one hand slides back into her hair. His tongue moves to gingerly taste her lips, prompting her mouth to open, and if she yields to him, he will slowly begin to devour her with that kiss, increasing the passion and the heat with excruciating patient time taken, hotter and stronger and deeper, all to a tipping point (for most men) of a lust needing to be sated. It is at this point, his breathing grown a little ragged from the kiss that he withdraws and looks deeply, painfully down into her grey eyes, shifting his hips more into hers, and allowing in that same hoarse whisper, “I feel nuthin’ … there … so, I know you don’t neither.” Another little thrust of his hips to make his point. Despite the hungry kiss, this is a man who is not excited in the manner men usually get while holding a beautiful woman in their arms. “How long d’ya think it will be before a woman latches onta me here, findin’ out that I ain’t able t’satisfy her, and spreadin’ it ‘round th’weyr? Makin’ me the laughin’ stock o’the whole place.” He steps back from her then, and slowly releases her face, lowering his hands back to his sides, “Better t’avoid than …” he leaves the rest unsaid, looking like a kicked puppy standing there, staring down at her, and finally, inhaling and exhaling a shuddering breath, just to say, “Reckon, I should be getting’ ya back.”

Cheusia is drawn in, grey eyes still focusing entirely on blue ones even for the mournful look. She would say something, her lips moving partially but pause as he bows his head and tips her back. The meeting of their lips does not have her pulling away, more like curiosity pushing her forward. The second meeting is met with a brush of her own, entirely gentle and yet, still curious. Her eyes flutter closed as she enjoys the gentleness of the kiss. Each push forward is met in turn, keeping a careful pace with his until he prompts, in which she allows herself to yield and slowly be devoured by the tanner. Fingers do not lift to caress him, though, slowly gripping onto her skirt and when he pulls away those grey eyes open. A breath is taken to help her head from swimming and grey eyes blink rapidly. "Don't tell me what I feel…" Is the first thing she says before slowly blinking into focus and taking in his words. "What do you think we are? Cruel bitches who live to rip a man down? Shells, Bowen… Why would a woman spread that around? There's no need for gossip like that in a fuckin' Weyr. You told me and now do you expect me to go and tell? I wouldn't tell anyone… Shit." She pulls back, taking a deep breath and turning away from him for a moment. "Figure a lotta women would be thankful, not all of us just want sex. Some want to be held and kissed like that and to go on about like nothing happened or going to sleep, not to sate some need that'll be back in a few hours. Cause some men just… Constantly drive for it." Another breath is taken as she lifts a hand to run through her hair. "Getting back would be good, otherwise I'll be throwing myself into the river." Likely, it makes no sense but she says nothing more on that.

The fool kissed her and the first thing she puts voice to is more badgering, in his mind, which has Bowen’s shoulders slumping. But the man seems to have been blessed with the patience or will and physique to take a sound beating, whether that is physical or verbal or even emotional, and keep on going. Somehow. So he stands there, watching her steadily as she continues. Bowen doesn’t move to stop her as she pulls back from him, and the tanner looks at her with something of a mixture of weariness and skepticism as she speaks. One or more of her assertions apparently doesn’t seem to be something he agrees with, but he doesn’t voice it because Bo’s had his fill of arguments, especially arguments with women, and even more especially arguments with women he actually likes. So, instead, he considers ways of silencing her … at least for the time being. A lesser man would silence a woman by hitting her, but such is not Bo’s style, and knowing Bo’s luck anyway, Che’d be the type of woman who only hits back … while badgering, no less. So, he does the only thing he knows to quiet her, and while it comes at the end of her words, slow to act as he is, it does come nevertheless. He closes the distance between them, sliding his arms past her waist and pressing hands to her back to draw her into and against him. His blue eyes seek her grey ones out, and he lowers his face to hers, murmuring softly, “Y’talk too much.” This from a man who enjoys quiet, and to ensure it, at least for a few moments, he presses his lips to hers once more. This time, it is not in a demonstration of a lack of excitement. It is a pure kiss, pure for the enjoyment of it, and the enjoyment of her silence. For now. His lips are tender and soft at first, and then press more firmly after a moment’s time and his arms wrap around her more firmly at the same time. Lips part after a small spell, and he seeks to penetrate with his tongue in a slow dance of growing passion.

If there's one thing Che likes to do, it's badger the man, apparently. And only him, apparently. Or, he's the only victim so far that has stayed. Though Max hasn't entirely done anything worth being nagged over, in her mind, at least. The arms the come to slip around her waist draw a look from her as she is one again drawn into him while grey eyes meet his, seeking a silent answer and instead getting a verbal one. Her cheeks flush a shade of red as she begins a protest that never comes, too shocked to really say anything to that. When his lips meet hers, this time, she presses back more quickly while her hands slip up to rest easily upon his shoulders. Fingers curl there, gripping lightly as she remains in silence, now. And likely for a little while longer. Her lips part for his, easily yielding for him once more and not pushing for dominance.

The man is doomed, apparently, to be the target of badgering from all women until the end of his days. He’ll have to just learn how to behave like Max so as not to get any badgering, or learn to just suck it up better and not let it bother him so much. But for the time being, he allows himself to enjoy her response to him this time, and as she kisses him back and lifts her hands up, his hands grip her a bit more tightly. The kiss gradually (for Bo does very little in a fast manner) turns into a deeper embrace with his tongue rolling slowly about hers, not exactly in a dominant expression as much as a solicitous one, for this is a man who is quite interested in the woman’s needs, wanting to fulfill them, even if in his heart and mind he believes he never can. It’s why he stopped to set Indira up with what he thought was a better target for practice the other day, and it perhaps speaks to why he endures so much badgering in brooding silence as opposed to just walking away. His chest heaves again, working for breath while his lips are well occupied with much more preferable tasks, claiming hers and tasting them tenderly. His eyes remain closed as the kiss continues, growing slowly toward a greater crescendo of desire. Bo is a man who likes to take his time and do things right, and it shows. At least in action. Words, of course, are another matter entirely.

Easier said than done, perhaps. The being like Max bit. Fingers curl tighter, gripping onto his shoulders as if she'll fall if she lets go. The kiss gradually turning deeper is met with an equal response, no rush to push things faster even as one hand slips away from his shoulder to press gently at the back of his neck to pull herself closer. Her tongue moves along with his shyly, pressing but not pushing. Her eyes drift closed, finally, lost in the feeling of the kiss, lost in pleasure as finger curl slightly tighter.

And if her knees give out on her, one can be sure that the stocky tanner will catch her, keep her from falling, and hold onto her. At least, Bowen doesn’t seem inclined to let go of her or her lips anytime soon. Again, his tongue plunders her mouth, slowly though, tasting its riches in his own sweet time, and finally one hand lifts from her back to gently cradle her cheek, sliding that large, rough and calloused hand a little back past her ear, and pressing without gripping hard, seeming to grow a little more bold in his attentions for her. His other hand slides more around her, his remaining arm wrapping around her waist and back to hold her pressed against him, perhaps sensing her own two feet might not be proper enough support anymore. His breathing turns even more ragged as the kiss continues on, growing in its heat, his own blood starting to simmer with the whisper of her name and before he starts to pull his lips away, murmuring against them breathlessly, “Che …” in echo to the pounding of the blood in his ears, a pounding of his blood that is, lamentably, not found in his loins right now, despite the passionate moment shared. His eyes remain closed, however, and as the kiss comes to a slow and reluctant end, he simply lets his forehead rest against hers for the moment, working to catch his breath.

Said knees wobble, only slightly but she holds her own for the time being. Though the extra support likely helps. The faintest of moans drifts forth, drowned by his mouth as he continues to explore her own. Che's grip grows firmer, holding herself against him and only relaxing when his grasp around her grows more firm. Lips part and a breath is drawn, the sound of her name drawing forth a shiver. "Bowen…" His name is even softer coming from her, her lips only working faintly just to say his name. She doesn't press forward to him again, allowing him to catch his breath as she catches hers while her grip slowly begins to slacken. There is no more talking from the woman, only the silence that Bowen enjoys so much. And that's not from lack of trying on her part, only the inability to form a proper sentence. Or thought.

With another soft stroke of her cheek and hair with that hand pressed there, Bowen responds to her soft utterance of his name with another claim of her lips by his own, lips parting gently, but keeping his tongue withdrawn for the moment, and then he pulls away again. If he finds any smug satisfaction at what appears to have been a kiss that stunned her to silence, Bo’s expression shows none of it as he reopens his eyes to quietly look down into that beautiful face of hers. A myriad of things to say come to mind, albeit slowly, but either because he is beginning to learn just how golden (and relatively safe) silence truly is or he simply is too stunned himself to put voice to them, the slow and quiet man simply strokes her cheek with his thumb as he studies her face, and a long moment later, he pulls back but just enough to seek her hands with his, and silently tries to lead her the few steps to Strider and the stirrup, offering no words for fear of breaking whatever spell has been sewn in this moment.

Cheusia returns the brief kiss with a press of her lips, and pulling away when he does. Eyes remain closed as she simply breathes, deep breaths to make up for the loss. The silence that lingers between then is only met with her eyes opening and quietly searching his face. No one expression is set on her face, no one set emotion to show how she feels. It is a mixture of everything and nothing, and she, too finds it better not to say a word as he takes her hands and leads her to Strider. There's a silent asking for assistance before grey eyes drift away, considering the runner.

Silent still, Bo tries to usher her more into position to take the stirrup, which means letting go of her hands briefly to gently put his hands on her waist and have her face the saddle in preparation to helping to hoist her up into it. It seems the man intends to lead her along on foot as opposed to crowding her in the saddle, which in his mind is more thoughtful, though others might see it more as simply cowardice. Once she is in position between Strider and himself, and only then, Bowen speaks in that same soft, husky voice, but one that is even quieter in reverence for the exchange they had merely moments ago. “Lean back a little,” he counsels, “and put that foot,” nodding to her outside leg in relation to the runner, “in th’ stirrup there. Step yer weight into it,” he continues instructing in a quiet, patient tone, “and I’ll lift y’up from behind, and when y’get t’standing on that stirrup, swing yer leg over his rump. Don’t fret none about Strider. He’ll stay still fer ya.” His hands remain at the ready at her waist, gentle for the moment and just waiting for her to take her time to get her foot up before needing to be stronger in hoisting her the rest of the way, unless, of course, she’d decides against the whole thing for some reason.

Cheusia moves easily as he positions her, waiting quietly for instruction with no protest to how he intends on taking her home. At his instruction, she leans back and lifts her outside leg to place her foot on the stirrup. And then, she places weight in an attempt to partially get herself up, fully expecting him to help as he has stated. "Thank you." Is murmured softly and she tilts slightly, only to get a better look at the tanner. Grey eyes search quietly again before they drift away and she lingers in her thoughts for a long moment.

As she places her foot in the stirrup and starts to put her weight in it, Bowen does in fact help lift her up by the waist, and seems to make it a simple affair, neither grunting or complaining nor seeming out of breath for it, which probably speaks well for his upper body strength. While it may have made it a little easier, he doesn’t shift his hands to her bottom to help push her the rest of the way, merely keeping it to her waist, or if he absolutely needs to, her thighs, but he avoids touching her bum. He nods slightly to the expression of gratitude and then his blue eyes greet her grey ones briefly before looking to the rest of her, making sure she gets safely up on the shorter-legged (by Max’s runner’s standards) gelding without any issues. “Don’t worry,” he utters softly, “if y’fall, I’ll catch ya.” It is meant to be reassuring, but there’s potentially a whole wealth of other meaning behind it. Unfortunately, the saddle is not a side-saddle for ladies with dresses, and so she may find it a little difficult to keep her legs completely covered by her skirt, but if Bowen’s thoughts are for such matters at all, they are not betrayed in his gaze for her.

At least Che is a small woman, weight wise, at least. So it shouldn't be too much trouble to get her lifted and settled properly. A small smile plays on her lips for a moment before she adjusts herself, if only to keep herself from falling and to keep her skirt from revealing anything. "I trust you." Is returned softly for his promise of catching her, and, not reading farther into it than that. "I really appreciate it… You helping me. And…" She gives him a small look but says nothing more than that.

Bowen waits until he is certain she is settled astride the gentle gelding and is careful not to study any bared ankle or calf, should there be, as he looks up at her. The comment of trusting him earns a slight softening look in his blue eyes, and then when she continues on, he remains there beside the runner, looking up at her and saying nothing, even as she lets the thought remain unfinished. He seems inclined to speak himself, even going as far as wetting his lips in pause, and then he simply nods, apparently choosing not to say anything else. He readjusts his hat on his head, having had to tip it up at a bit of an angle while kissing the Healer, and then steps past her leg to Strider’s bridle, slowly turning the runner around on the bridge at a wide angle so as to disrupt her positioning on the saddle as least amount as possible. Once they are pointed in the right direction, he begins to lead them in an easy, slow plodding walk back toward the weyr. His fingers are tucked into the bridle harness as he leads, with no apparent objection from the easy-mannered gelding, and he leaves the reins themselves over the horn as a safety precaution. After a long moment of inner conflict over whether or not to but his head in, he asks, “Who was it?” Then a glance is cast her way over his shoulder, “Who led y’out here?” Because, undoubtedly, he’ll be inclined to pay the man a visit and have words. It’s just what friends do, isn’t it?

Cheusia smiles at the softening look before returning her attention forward, looking straight ahead as her hands find grips to keep herself steady for the upcoming ride. The silence that lingers between them remains so as she doesn't further explain what she didn't finish. The movement draws a soft sound and her hands tighten as a first reaction before she slowly relaxes. Her attention is drawn to him as he speaks, and cheeks flush a dark shade before she avoids meeting his gaze. "Was signed Gared… Probably made it up…"

Bowen had looked ahead once more after casting his question behind him to her, but then slowly draws to an easy stop, motioning to the reins still around the cantle, “If sumpthin’ goes wrong, an’ he gets away from me, the reins are right there and y’just have t’tug back on ‘em a little and he’ll stop.” But Bo knows Strider and doesn’t foresee it being necessary. Something drastic would have to happen, like a dragon landing in front of them, to spook this gelding to flight. Nevertheless, after the soft sound she made, he perhaps sees the explanation as necessary to calm her and reassure her if nothing else. Then he resumes walking the runner and after a moment’s time, perhaps when someone might think he hadn’t heard her at all, he says, “Gared, eh? Made it up?” His soft voice belies any irritation at the thought of her coming out to meet strange men, alone no less, as he assumes by the fact that she said he probably made it up. His face and eyes remain forward on the terrain and road ahead and the brush alongside the road as a man who is used to being out in the woods is generally remaining on alert for anything, even this close to a weyr. To his credit, he doesn’t badger her about coming out to meet men she didn’t know, either because maybe he didn’t know for sure that’s what she did, or because he’s been on the receiving end of such badgering for so long he’d be too reluctant to hand that kind of thing back out to someone else. “Don’t s’pose ya would let me have that note?” Taking a look at it won’t do Bowen any good, but maybe Max might …

Cheusia gives him a thoughtful look for that statement and then her gaze find the reins. A nod follows, "thanks…" Is breathed out softly as she focuses her attention there for a long moment. Though, she's fully expecting the man to get on her case about meeting with someone she doesn't know, out where she could easily get hurt, and the fact that she went alone. She waits, but it doesn't come and she makes a sound of agreement, though it is none too happy. "Should've figured…" She trails off and gives him a look, but she shrugs, taking the note from one of the hidden pockets in her skirt and offering it out to him. "Don't know what good it'll do you. I don't really want to keep it, either." Sick of looking at it and being embarrassed from the thought alone.

Oh, to be sure, just by virtue of what happened to his wife alone and never mind the recent events at the weyr, Bo is barely containing that berating he wants to give her, but contains it the quiet man does, and he and Strider plod along as she seems to settle a little more with the reins in sight now. He turns again with the sound of her voice and looks at her over his shoulder, and then as he sees her start to withdraw the note, he draws the runner to a slow, easy stop. Keeping a steadying hand along Strider’s neck and side as he steps back the couple paces to take the note from her, Bowen unfolds it briefly to stare at the writing, or make some pretense of reading it briefly, and then refolds it and stuffs it into one of his own pockets with a nod to her. He doesn’t say anything else about the risk she took, seemingly letting it go by all outward appearances, as he looks up into her face and asks softly, “Anyone else know y’had a hand in tendin’ t’ that feller Max has in his tack room?” He doesn’t offer his thoughts as to why that is significant, not now anyway, and more than likely the Healer can draw her own conclusions.

Cheusia gives him another look, watching, waiting… And nothing comes. Her lips press tightly together before she quickly relaxes when he looks to her. When they come to a stop and the note is handed over, she watches him as he looks it over. There is no sense of relief in that, simply waiting for something more that doesn't come. Though, if that look of shame is anything, she hopes it might be sparing her a lecture. "Oh.." She shakes her head, "not that I know of… I kept quiet about it." Pause, "is it that bad…?" The note and the fact that she could have walked into something more.

Bowen is a very patient man, and so he keeps his eyes on her face as she speaks and waits well after the end of her answer before responding with a slight shrug, “Might be nuthin’, but j’st, a lotta strange stuff goin’ on, so, best t’be cautious is all. Me’n Max will look inta it. But … Che,” his voice softening more into that husky whisper he used earlier, and he dares to reach over to place his hand on her knee if she doesn’t slap it away, “Why?” His tone is not condemning or critical, more lost for the cause she felt she had in putting herself in such a position, and unable to hide the hint of hurt in his eyes, they seem to be asking for more than just the reason behind this particular instance, as if he is asking why his own wife would do such a thing, though Che has no idea the question bears so much weight. So, getting a hold of himself once again, he clears his throat and clarifies in asking, “What’re y’missin’ back at the weyr so much that y’had t’come out here on his note today?” And the unasked flip-side version of that question is ‘what can I give you, do for you, so you’ll never do such a thing again?’

"Ah…" Che starts, but doesn't finish as he says her name. The hand on her knee isn't slapped away, only given a look and the question has her tensing and avoiding his gaze. Avoiding seeing what could possibly be visible in his expression. Grey eyes don't focus on one particular point, jumping from one place to the other nervously. She doesn't answer right away, even after he clears his throat and clarifying. "I'm not always as strong as I want to be…" Is her whispered admittance, though her tone drops lower. "I… I… Was giving it a try… Meeting someone… Instead of being alone."

Bowen doesn’t move, even as she looks away from his hand and to the surroundings, and if he senses any discomfort, the man does well enough not to draw attention to it. It is the comment of being alone that seems to undo the man, picturing his wife alone at home throughout the day with him avoiding her and her badgering tongue, and even their bed, like the plague. No wonder she left him to seek the arms of another man, and straight into the maw of a feline. He closes his eyes slowly with the thought, and swallows visibly to regain some measure of composure. Perhaps sensing some kind of second chance, however, a second chance to do things right, he takes a steadying breath and reopens his eyes, this time lifting a hand to seek a claim over her own, if she allows. “I … ain’t … th’best of company,” Bo begins softly, stiltedly, “But if I’m t’make a go at bein’ friends with a woman, I reckon that means I’d best have her company a spell, and so … it’d be my honor, Che, if ya would come seek me out, when ya feel alone, and … not some stranger?” Especially if it means the Healer won’t end up in the maw of some feline, not that that would have been likely at the bridge, but it’s the principle of the thing.

Cheusia is avoiding his gaze, perhaps to avoid seeing him judging her for her fickle thoughts of loneliness or to avoid a pitying gaze. A soft breath is taken as his hand covers hers and slowly, she looks up to meet his eyes. Instead of arguing the beginning of his statement, she lets him finish before nodding. "I'd… Like that, thank you." She pauses only to give him a sweet little smile, "I don't think you'd be bad company… I need to learn to talk less, anyway." Or, at least around the tanner. "Thank you." Is repeated again, softer and more timid. If there's anything else to follow, it remains in silence.

With a little nod to her initial agreement, Bo squeezes her hand a bit and strokes his thumb across it lightly. It is the suggestion that she needs to learn to talk less that elicits a rare but genuine flash of teeth as Bo wryly grins at Che with that implication, the suggestion that she perhaps would like more ‘lessons’ in talking less, that is. But a cockier man might comment to that suggestion and an inexperienced man might blush and go quiet, while Bo is somewhere in between, being a man with nothing to prove and neither one too timid to meet the challenge. He just watches her and grins, and then it begins to fade slightly to more of a neutral expression once more. He nods then to the ‘thank you’ and pulls his hand away, starting to move back up to the head of the runner to take the bridle once more and resume the easy walking pace, asking quietly, “Have ya an interest in learnin’ t’ride?” Runners, that is. Though if he might possibly mean something else, the tanner’s expression is facing forward and nothing is given away in his timbre.

Cheusia smiles at the stroke on her hand, though the grin is met with a smile in return. Though suddenly getting the implication behind it, she goes a nice shade of red. "Ah…" But she stops there, before her foot goes into her mouth and when he pulls away her hands find their previous spots to keep her steady as they begin moving once more. "Oh… Yeah. I had some. Some interest in riding…" Pause. "Runners. Riding runners…"

The stocky tanner lets out a satisfied sounding breath, though what is satisfying about leading a runner with a Healer sitting on top in the dwindling afternoon is anyone’s guess. He continues to plod along, however, as does Strider, and neither seems inclined to set a pace to upset Cheusia’s position on top the runner. Without looking back at her, Bo answers with an offer, “Well, I s’pose if yer still wantin’ t’learn, Strider is an easy one t’learn on, if ya like. We can keep it t’th’ lake up in th’ weyr.” It’s safer that way, is what is unstated.

Cheusia grows more relaxed as they continue on, her hands the only thing really tense about her, making sure that she does not slip suddenly or topple over, should something occur. "I'd like that. If you want to teach me. It'd be nice to learn." Grey eyes take to watching the man now that she is more at ease and no longer red in the face. "Just… Let me know when you want to start?"

Bowen continues along, nodding a little as he watches the road ahead, keeping a loose eye on the sides of the road as well, though this close to the weyr he doesn’t exactly think anything will happen. He is just cautious. Finally, he says back to her, “I reckon we already have. Next time, y’can get up in the saddle on yer own,” and he turns his blue eyes back to her a moment, or rather, her legs, bared or not, to see how her feet are in the stirrups and whether or not he’ll let them down longer or higher next time. Then he looks up into her face again, the corners of his lips turning up in a subtle smile, before turning his face forward again on the road. “Maybe next time y’can take more of them reins, too. If yer comfortable.” Of course, he’s just talking about riding lessons. On runners.

Cheusia continues to watch the man leading the runner, curious still and unable to truly place the man, to figure him out still. And, even more confused now than before. "Right. Next time, I'll wear pants… It'll be easier." The woman is a good four inches shorter than the tanner, so it likely they'll need some adjustment next time. And, like a child getting caught doing something she shouldn't, she gives him a sheepish little smile when he turns to look at her but she doesn't pretend as if she wasn't staring. "Maybe. We'll see how it works out next time."

If Bowen senses her scrutiny while his back is to her, he doesn’t show it when he catches that look and sheepish little smile. He continues leading Strider along the center of the road up to the weyr, now rounding one of the bends in the road and when it straightens out again he finally answers her, with deadpan dry wit, “Reckon it might be. Been a long time since I worn me a skirt t’know th’ difference.” Oh, look. He’s cracking jokes. With a woman no less. He must be loosening up. Here’s to hoping she didn’t get offended by it and starts badgering again. When she talks of maybe taking the reins next time, Bo glances back at her once more, then looks at Strider, then back at Che. With an affectionate stroke of Strider’s cheek, he lets go of the runner’s bridle. Now, he remains walking beside the gelding, but is no longer holding on and so with this he says, “Well, there y’go. Yer ridin’ on yer own now.” Whether she takes the reins or not. Now, Strider, easy-going as he is, seems perfectly content and capable of remaining at the plodding walk by his owner’s side and doesn’t seem to think anything of maintaining status quo, direction and speed. That is, unless the woman decides to take the reins and do something crazy.

Cheusia remains thankful for the man not showing that he's noticed her staring. His statement earns a look, first, before she laughs. "I can't picture you in a skirt." Which, is likely a good thing, really. She considers him as he looks between her and the runner, not willing to say anything at the moment or, until he lets go of the bridle. A breath is taken and she doesn't take hold of the reins, more in fear of causing Strider to take off running. "It's… Kind've frightening. But… You're here." And she assumes he'll be able to stop the runner no matter what.

Bo is not a beast crafter, and as such he’s not trained Strider to be completely obedient or do little fancy tricks to various commands, but Strider isn’t a green runner fresh from his mother mare, and considering his gelding state, he’s not quite as prickly or fickle or wildly unpredictable in moods as a stallion might be. Generally, the runner likes to eat, sleep, get rubbed down, and treated to sugar cubes. His needs are pretty simple. As such, Bo has a lot of faith in him, understanding and able to more or less predict his behavior, and right now, Strider’s behavior is predictably plodding along the moderately kept road leading to the weyr, owner beside him. Point in fact, if something happened to Bo, more than likely Che wouldn’t have to do anything but sit in that saddle and the runner would plod along to carry her on back to the weyr, and his stall, where he knows his oats will be waiting for him. “Meanwhile,” Bo muses softly, thoughtfully, “havin’ seen ya in a skirt, it’s a picture I rightly think I ain’t gonna ferget too soon.” And Bo doesn’t seem to be complaining of that fact, either. He falls back a little so that he’s not so much at Strider’s head, but by his front legs, and thereby, closer to Che, “I’m here,” he adds in agreement, a softer rumble as he looks up at her, “I ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

It's probably better that the runner is older, and calmer, and generally mild and predictable to his owner. And, luckily Che isn't always a fidgety person when nervous. She does grow calmer the more they walk along, and the longer she doesn't fall. His comment on her skirt wearing has her turning red once more, "I… Don't wear them too often… Was hoping to look pretty… Or, something." Grey eyes do rest on the man beside her, despite the fact that she'd rather look away. "Ah… Thank you. Again. I don't think I'll be able to say it enough today…" She admits, her voice hardly above a whisper. Though his final words have her looking at him longer, grey eyes focusing entirely upon his face and searching.

“Y’look purdy,” Bowen agrees after a long moment, nodding as he walks along side her, awkward in such a direct compliment, but he states it earnestly just the same. He looks away then, turning his attention briefly to Strider’s head and the road stretching on ahead of them and starting to rise a little with the terrain as they get closer to the weyr. Apparently satisfied that Strider is still plodding along sedately toward their intended destination, Bo tugs the tip of his hat down just a little in response to her saying thank you again. “Don’t fret, ma’-ah-Che,” he says softly, catching himself saying ‘ma’am again, “I ain’t gonna get tired o’hearin’ it. Figure I should stockpile it for th’ days when I do wrong an’ don’t hear a one.” And he’s reasonably sure he’ll do something to tick her off again, eventually, considering his track record. Today, though, apparently he’s having a good day. So, he smiles a little more up at her. The focus he finds from her has his smile fading though, replaced with a nervous look and he stumbles a little as he walks, regaining his balance before he actually kisses the dirt, though. Righting himself, he tries to make it look like he meant to do that. Really, he did.

Cheusia smiles, "thanks… I was… Ah. Trying." Not that it isn't known. She continues to watch him, still curious and growing more so as each moment passes between them, the silence and somewhat awkwardness of neither one of them seemingly able to form what they are meaning to say. "Really? I could say thank you as the first thing to every sentence and you wouldn't start getting annoyed?" She chuckles softly before going another shade of red at being caught yet again. The stumble isn't laughed at, nor giggled at, nothing stifled in that manner and she leans forward just a tad. "Are you okay?"

Conflicted with embarrassment from having stumbled and that focused gaze from her, Bowen distractedly mutters, “Ain’t no need. Yer purdy no matter whut yer wearin’. Hmm?” The last is said with him looking up at her and he mentally rewinds what he heard, then kicks a stone out of his way on the road, sending it skittering off to the side while, as she leans a little more forward, one hand reaches up for the loose reins as a precaution to her potentially squeezing her legs in against Strider and sending him off. Which more or less settles his mind about the rest of the trip. “M’fine. Two left feet,” he says, drawing Strider to a slow stop, and looking back up to her, “whutchya say t’me gettin’ on up there with ya?” Leaving the choice to the lady, it seems, and not yet answering her about his thoughts on how he’d take her saying thank you to everything. But if there’s one thing most people learn about Bo first, it’s how he takes his sweet time doing anything worth doing right, including answering questions.

"Thanks…" Che smiles at that and watches him more closely, now that she's leaned in and closer to him. The reins are given a slight look before the man is considered again as Strider is drawn to a stop. "Oh. Well… I was going to ask that of you next. If you wanted to come up. Or switch. Either is fine with me, really… Feeling kind've bad for making you walk, too."

“Y’ain’t gonna walk,” Bo says quietly, and seems to think that’s final. Without so much as a by-your-leave, the stocky man steps back to her leg and gently removes her foot from the stirrup, “if I’m too big fer both of us t’ride t’gether,” which would be a whole lot more meaningful if he weren’t having such bedroom-like problems right now, “I’ll j’st get down again. Scooch forward a bit,” he directs her, but doesn’t wait for her to adjust before he shoves his boot in the stirrup and with one hand on the front cantle and the other on the back cantle, essentially trapping her from that side, he hauls himself up and throws his leg around to the other side. Strider moves only to shift his weight in a helpful effort to accommodate the extra rider as Bowen throws his weight first on one side and then the other in getting some balance. Only once he is settled behind her does Bo slide his arms around her sides to reach the reins. He doesn’t, it should be noted, force her foot out of the other stirrup, letting her keep it there should it make her feel a little more settled in. “Ain’t too much annoys me, Che,” he murmurs from behind her left shoulder, finally addressing her earlier question. Then he decides, for whatever reason, to elaborate, “Been brought up by a muther hen, an’ married too long t’ a wife who hated me, I reckon anythin’ short of that ain’t nuthin’ t’be annoyed at or fussed o’er.” There’s a pause and he asks softly, “Y’okay?” Presumably in reference to him situated behind her because he adds, “Ain’t crowdin’ ya too much, am I?”

"Alright, then. If you say." She won't argue, this time. Not when there's been so much peace between the two. Her foot is removed easily and she nods in agreement to his statement before scooching forward as directed, as much as she can until he's up on the runner. When he's all settled, her foot slips from the other stirrup to allow him that if he wishes to take it while she allows herself to relax and settle her back against his front. "Well, that's good to know." Though she really has no plans on annoying him. "Your wife hated you?" Her brows draw into a frown and she tilts a look back at him, but then shakes her head. "Sorry. I won't press. I'm fine. Not crowded at all. I don't feel like I'm going to fall off."

Bowen is quiet behind her, and as she withdraws her foot from the stirrup, he puts his boot in it, and only after she states that she’s fine does he finally squeeze Strider’s sides a bit with his legs. The runner starts into an easy walk again, perhaps only slightly faster than the plodding walk he was at before, nothing that would generate a lot of bouncing though. Even when she turns to look at him, he watches the road ahead of them just as he had as he was when he was leading Strider earlier. After a few moments of silence, he states quietly, “I tried t’ be good t’ her,” perhaps not wanting to alarm Che, not wanting her to think that he mistreated his wife on purpose, “But I guess I got it all wrong anyway.” He keeps his gaze fixed on the road, but he exhales as he speaks, “We were young when we got hitched,” as if 22 is old now, and he continues explaining in a soft voice, “We thought we were in love or …” he pauses, “I reckon I thought we were, at least. An’ I knocked her up. Told her I’d marry her an’ take care ‘o them both, even if it meant havin’ t’leave th’ Hall.” He lapses silent a moment, his blue eyes staring t the road ahead of them but distant, as if reliving the memory instead. With an exhale, he says, “So that’s whut we did.” Pause. “But I reckon I wasn’t whut she wanted after all.” He doesn’t even seem bitter about it, really, thinking he was the one she found lacking and so obviously it was his fault she didn’t love him. If he finds it uncomfortable or awkward talking about any of this with her, he disguises it well. Perhaps it is the peace they had this afternoon that’s made him think twice about resisting her olive branch of friendship and giving in a little. Perhaps he is just tired of fighting it in general.

Cheusia doesn't entirely notice the change of speed, focusing on Bowen even though he looks forward. "I'm sure you were good. You're very sweet." Even if she may say otherwise at times. Her hands shift, only to rest one upon his leg to give him a gentle rub if he doesn't pull her away. "I'm sorry…" The second hand joins the first but on the opposite leg, trying to give some form of comfort. "I'm sure… There was a lot more to it. You're…" She trails off, considering before saying. "You don't seem hard to love. Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes… People disagree, but it gets worked out in the end." Look at them. Or, well, Che who did have a constant annoyance in trying to get information from the man. "You're not a bad man."

There is a moment, when she puts her first hand on his leg, that Bowen closes his eyes. It might be something to be alarmed over except Strider knows the way, which pretty much means just follow the road. It’s been a long time since he’s felt a woman in his arms like this, had her touch him, had her comfort, and it surprises the tanner how much he’s missed it. He never thought he would. Something inside him yearns to just simply ‘feel’ again, being as numb as he has had to be for so long. Her other hand rests on his other leg and his adam’s apple bobs in a visible swallow before he reopens his eyes, turning them now to regard her face silently. He doesn’t object to it though and doesn’t move her hand away. His own hands remain on the reins in front of her, but she might notice he draws his arms in a little closer to her, holding her a little closer, while he presses his chest a little more against her back. It may seem like he is conceding her points, considering he voices no opposition to them. In actuality, the fight’s simply left him for the time being, so he manages to remember his manners enough to offer a polite, “Thank ye kindly.” And then turns his attention back to the road ahead of them, exhaling softly, “Th’ baby … didn’t make it.” Which would explain why he didn’t have a little one running around, perhaps, and likely why he stated it. His knuckles grip the reins a little more tightly. “Things changed afterward … between me an’ Darla.” Putting his wife name to the unpleasant tale. “Wished things had come out diff’rent.” He comments slowly a moment after, his blue eyes lifting from the road to look up to the weyr now starting to loom more over the road as they get closer.

Cheusia simply watches him from where she sits, showing no worry over the man closing his eyes. Perhaps assuming that even he can see without his eyes being open, though the healer in her knows that is not entirely possible. When he draws her in just a little bit more, she easily settles into the contact, understanding the need for it, the want for it… Which was likely what drew her out to that bridge. Alone. Her hands gently grip his legs at the statement and she shakes her head. "I'm so sorry…" The thought alone saddens her, the loss of a child is heartbreaking. Comfort is offered again, another gentle squeeze of his leg with her hand. "I'm sorry…"

Bowen lets out a ragged breath after a moment, his blue eyes settling on the weyr entrance as it comes into view and the incline gradually gets a bit more steep and Strider’s pace slows even more. “Thank you,” he says quietly, speaking slowly enough to enunciate properly. “Don’t rightly know whut all went wrong. It j’st did …” and more than likely Bowen blames himself here, as well, not providing for Darla’s needs while pregnant in some way, but he doesn’t put voice to it either. And finally he offers with another exhale and a slight sag of his shoulders, “After Darla died, I … tried t’make th’most of it. Pick up th’ pieces there.” There’s another drawn out pause and he finally concludes with, “When that didn’t work out, decided I’d see if I can make a new life fer m’self here. Thought a simple tanner might be needed.” He dares to lean forward and kiss her lightly on the ear, whispering, “Hope fer a new b’ginnin’.” Then, still leaning close, he asks, quietly probing, “Y’hopin’ fer th’ same?”

Cheusia turns her gaze forward, watching their arrival while still listening carefully. "Sometimes… Things just go wrong so fast. We don't know what's happening and we don't always know what to do to fix it. Or… Sometimes there is nothing we can do to fix it." Another gentle squeeze is given, listening quietly before she murmurs, "that's all you could really do.. Pick up the pieces and.. Try again." The kiss on her ear draws forth a very slight shiver as she nods to his statement. The question, however, is met with silence for a long moment. "Kind've… More so lately." A breath is taken and then, she presses forward. Might as well share as he did, too. "My mother married a man who wasn't my father… After my brother was born, he pretty much hated me. I was sent off to the Healer Hall after. I pretty much made the best of it. I got really far, I studied hard." A pause as her eyes close, "didn't know my real father until recently this Turn. Its not so bad." She tilts her head back and smiles at him. "I can't really complain."

Bowen draws his head back just a bit, mostly so he can watch her as she speaks. He nods slightly when she speaks of how sometimes things just go wrong and can’t be helped, choosing to save his own concerns over his responsibility in the whole mess for another time, if at all. After all, the way Bo sees it, for all the show to try and scare Che away from him, he never sees himself ever in a position where he has to worry about getting her pregnant. As far as he is concerned, he’s broken and for good. So, it’s moot, for now. The comment about her father, or step/foster father of sorts, hating her draws a thoughtful frown from him. He remains quiet in order to listen, but his arms squeeze her slightly, and he turns his attention back to the entrance up ahead, briefly, and then back to looking at her just in time to catch her smile. He gets lost in it a moment, and so his reply comes even later than usual, “Yer father … he’s here at the weyr?” Cue nervous perspiration from the old fashioned country boy. Still, he asks after her first, in that same soft husky voice, “Is he kinder t’ya than th’ man who raised ya?” as the weyr tunnel entrance darkens the road just a little ahead of them.

The future is unseen for many, and, thoughts of the future don't usually bug Che… Outside of Threadfall, of course. She resettles into his arms for the squeeze, grey eyes closing as she relaxes. "No. He's at Landing. Master Smith Jarvys." Pause, and then she shrugs. "He treats me better than he did. He treats me with respect and I didn't ask him to love me. Just told him I was his daughter.. He remembered my mother, at least. Said he'd send me a letter if he ever had anything for me." She leans back, just a bit more as she considers. "Heard some rumors that he's not fond of women, or girls, and tends to be mean. Treats them… Well, not like he'd treat a man. I think he treated me better for using my brain right, being a Healer and passing with flying colors. I'm fine with that, s'long as he respects me. Kas… Kason… Probably worked under him… Probably got scared away…" The final bit, about Kason, is only a soft whisper before she decides to linger in silence.

Landing. Right. Well, it’s still kind of close. But not that close. And a Master at that. Oh joy of joys. Still, Che was a woman of her own reckoning and will and independence and that goes a long way for the tanner should he ever meet this Jarvys. Bowen continues to listen in silence, his eyes steady on the road, but he does adjust the grip on the reins so that they are gathered up in one of his hands. This leaves the other hand, as she continues to speak, to settle in around her, hand gently resting on her middle, unless she pushes it away. His grip tightens slightly over her comment that Jarvys isn’t ‘fond of’ women and he closes his eyes a moment for what she must have thought of Bowen, himself, those first few meetings. He reopens his eyes at the mention of this Kason person, though, and the fact that said person probably was scared off. One doesn’t have to be an AIVAS computer crafter to understand the implications on that front though and Bo lets go of her entirely and takes the reins in both hands once more, leaning back a little as the entrance tunnel swallows them up. He lets the silence linger past the entrance guards where they briefly stated their business. As much riding as Bo enjoys doing, recreationally, they likely didn’t question it, however, probably having seen him come through more than once, though usually when he returns with something he didn’t leave with, it’s small game and not a pretty woman. He finally speaks once the guards are outside of hearing range, when they come out of the tunnel and into the bowl proper, it is that same soft husky tone, “I’d like t’ try an’ be a friend t’ya, Che, no matter who yer father is.” He pauses as he considers his next words at length, and in the end, decides simply, “Y’deserve t’be happy, Che.” Telling an independent woman you’ve no intention on poaching another man’s game is probably just asking to get smacked and badgered. Maybe Bowen is finally learning.

It is likely that her father wouldn't care one bit about the men in her life, or, if he did.. Who knows? She would likely be shocked. Che relaxes as his hand shifts to wrap around her. She is no longer sitting in a stiffened upright position, slightly slouched against the tanner. Though when he repositions his hands again, she takes it as a hint and slowly repositions herself away from too much contact. Grey eyes continue to focus elsewhere, blinking far more often than one can consider normal. "Thanks, Bowen. I'd… Really like that." She doesn't turn to meet his gaze, only shifting to lift her hands to rub at her eyes. "Thank you for that, too. You deserve it as well. To be happy."

And that seems to be all the confirmation Bowen needs, as she straightens away from him and more and more people come into view as they travel along the bowl. Being two grown single adults and not having a dragon attached to either one, they don’t have quite the need for discretion in their contact, but he remains respectful of his contact behind her nevertheless, ever since the name Kason was mentioned. And as such, he continues through the bowl with just a nod in gratitude for her sentiment, lapsing silent for a time until he asks, “Need me t’drop ya off at th’ ‘firmary? Or somewhere else?” He’s already past the beast tunnel entrance himself, so either he has some other errand to take Strider with him on, or he is just that determined to drop her off as close to her destination as possible.

Cheusia remains in silence as the ride continues, not looking back at him and taking a deep breath. "Right here is fine." She decides, not meeting his gaze. "I can go alone. I want to change, anyway. So… You don't have to worry." She finally spares a look back and only a slight smile is given. "I'm sorry for making you uncomfortable. Thank you for the ride back."

Bowen continues on a few paces farther before drawing Strider to a slow and gentle stop. He’d argue on where to drop her off, but he doesn’t want to put her in an awkward position that might force her to explain something to someone … someone like Kason. He sighs and shakes his head a little, but more at a thought than anything she may have said. Finally he focuses his blue eyes on her once more, managing a soft smile. “Y’didn’t. An’ yer welcome.” Simple as that and then he is swinging his leg over and down, dismounting with practiced ease. Once he settles on the ground, he reaches up carefully to help lift her down by her waist, keeping his grip on her as being simply efficient and practical, and trying not to like the feel of her in his hands. He exhales, his expression closing.

Cheusia searches him, grey eyes trying to find something. Though, they find nothing as he smiles and responds. She waits for him to swing down first, carefully sliding her her leg over to assist him in helping her down. Her hands come to rest on his arms, and her grip tightens. A visible conflict crosses her face before she speaks in a hushed tone. "Don't do this to me…" Whatever it is, though, she doesn't clarify as she moves to close the distance with her lips finding his. If he doesn't push her away. And if he doesn't, her grip will tighten more.

Strider seems perfectly content to remain still as his riders are dismounting, and simply turns his head a little and blinks his big eyes at them once they are completely off his back, making breathing a little easier. It’s still not a sugarcube, though. His tail swishes languidly as he provides some cover, at least from one side, to the embrace as Che completely catches the big tanner off guard, both with her words and then her lips. His mouth is stiff at first, surprised would be more accurate. But Bowen doesn’t push her away. His arms curl around her as he deepens the embrace and brings her in closer against his barrel of a chest. He rumbles deep within his throat in contentment initially, enjoying the feel of her, the taste of her, parting his lips for her as he had earlier, before finally coming to his senses and pulling his lips away, breathless. His chest works hard to recapture air in it and he looks at her with concern and open pain in his eyes, “Che, if there’s another man in yer heart, in yer life … I can’t. I won’t.” He closes his eyes, recalling all the rumors that surfaced after Darla’s death, shaking his head. He won’t be that man. He won’t be the arms another woman leaves her existing love for. “I ain’t gonna do that t’nuther man.” Then he reopens his eyes, “If y’have fallen fer him,” he lifts his hand up to caress his knuckles to her cheek, “Y’both got talkin’ t’do. I ain’t gonna get in th’ way of yer happiness.” Pause. “With each other.”

Cheusia tightens her grip on him when he doesn't push her away, lingering only for a moment and quite ready to pull away before his arms curl around her and bring her closer. Her lips work against his, and when they part for her she makes to push further before he pulls away. A slow breath is taken and held as grey eyes move to meet blue ones. "He…" She quiets, then, shakes her head. "Hasn't been here. For awhile… A long while… Not since Max's girl stormed out of the Infirmary and…" He heard that story when the two spoke of it. Her eyes close as she takes a deeper breath, holding this one for longer and not saying any more. Only catching her breath and her composure. "Sorry…"

Mentally kicking himself for the various men he put his fists to after finding out (well some of it was just mere suspicion) that they had been with his wife, Bowen hangs his head a little and recloses his eyes as Che speaks of abandonment, very likely the same sort of abandonment his own wife had felt. The shoe is not quite so easy when it is on the other foot, is it, Bowen? If there was such a thing as Karma here, Bowen would be due for a good ass-whooping from this man named Kason. Cue mental groan. But Bowen doesn’t let go of her, even after she catches her breath and composure and offers apology. His arm stays right there, and his hand shifts from knuckles caressing her cheek to an open palm cradling it as he lifts his head and reopens his eyes and takes her visage in the darkening twilight. “Don’t … be. I’m th’one who should be sorry fer kissin’ ya on that bridge,” Should be, but isn’t really. It was a good kiss. “Kason’s th’ one who should be sorry fer leavin’ ya twistin’ in th’ wind like this.” He slides his hand back past her ear, curling his fingers in her hair, “But –you- ain’t got nuthin’ t’be sorry for.” And then, having been in what he believes is Kason’s position, Bo slowly begins to let go, softly and hoarsely saying, “Don’t give up on ‘im, Che, not … yet.” Oh, how things might have been different if any of those men had said those words to Bowen’s wife instead of giving her what she asked for, what she needed from them, what she needed from Bowen. Fuck. He closes his eyes at the irony, mentally making plans for that entire crate of whiskey Max promised him. Reopening his eyes, he slides his hand away from around her waist and the other from her hair, gently, and steps back. “I ain’t goin’ nowhere,” Bo says quietly again. Perhaps a promise to remain her friend. Or a promise to be around once she is certain things between her and Kason are ‘settled’ in some way. He doesn’t clarify, perhaps letting her be the one to dictate where things stand between herself and Bowen that way.

Cheusia tilts her cheek into his hand as he shifts to cup it, drawing some comfort from the action alone before she opens her eyes to meet his gaze. "You didn't know." She states softly before she shakes her head, "he had… No real commitment to me." Or so she's trying to convince herself. Her eyes quietly search his face as his hand moves into her hair. "Thank you…" For not blaming her, for nt pushing her away. There's many things she can be thankful for today. When he begins to let go, she steps bck, slowly. "I… I won't." If only to wait a bit longer, to see if he comes back. Another step is taken while another breath follows and his final statement is met with a look, a mixture of emotions crossing her face before she smiles and nods. And then, she turns to walk away, careful not to look back. Careful to walk away without allowing feelings to control her actions, not even for a glance back to see the tanner before hiding herself in the inner parts of the Weyr for a good few hours. Not wanting whoever played the prank on her to believe that they were the cause of her distress.

To her words, all of them, Bowen nods silently. If there is any relief shown for her statement that Kason had no real commitment to her, it’s well hidden by the shadow of the brim of his hat in the lengthening afternoon and evening. He makes no move to touch her again, perhaps even relieved as she takes those steps away from him, the distance making it a little easier. And then as she goes, he moves to lean against his old faithful Strider, who follows the Healer out with his eyes too. No sugarcubes? Women. The two companions watch her until she is no longer visible, either from the lengthening shadows or from some physical thing, like a tunnel entrance into the lower levels of the weyr, obscuring her. There is a time for solitude. When the best thing for a man to do when he’s got something on his mind is a ride in the country. He just had one. There is also a time when the best thing for a man to do when he’s got something on his mind is to get drunk and pick a fight. Bowen flexes his fist and looks at it. This feels like just the right time. With a click of his tongue, the quiet tanner gathers Strider’s reins, turns about and walks him back to the beast cavern. If he can cool down his frustration by the time he’s taken care of Strider, all the better. If he can’t… well, this will be an interesting night indeed.


Closing Credit Theme Music: Trace Adkins - "I Just Want To Feel Something"


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