Different Paths


Jaya.jpg Jonavan.jpg

Date: 29 May 2011
Location: Jaya's Bar, Eastern Weyr
Synopsis: One last card game before Jonavan goes.
Rating: PG13 for language.
Logger: Jonavan

One day, a folded note is carried into Jaya's bar by one of the youths who help out around the Weyr's infirmary and wear the purple healer apprentice knot. The girl has instructions to deliver it directly so hangs around waiting for attention and, when finally handed over, the missive unfolds to reveal a single word: Cards? No signature; Jonavan figures she knows his handwriting by now.

The night's a busy one with all of its usuals in their place. Shijan mans the entrance, watching those who enter and leaves as usual, as both Hayli and Suli make their presences known to those manning both table and counter. The girl that passes the note to Jaya must have crawled over riders and traders to do so, and the note does seem to give Jaya pause as she reads it. "Cards?" Suli was over her shoulder and reading it, a brow furrowing at that single word. Her hands occupied with glasses, "Doesn't look like Ralik's handwriting," she notes. "Because it's not," Jaya answers immediately, the frown lingering her face as she folds it back up and pockets it. She knows the handwriting, alright. "I won't be able to talk tonite," she goes on to say to the barmaid, meeting her gaze without seeing her. Suli got no explanation. Suli wasn't expecting one.

Once the bar was closed and the barkeep was left alone, a single table was set up with a deck of cards at the center, two empty glasses, and a deep blue bottle set to the side. Jaya sat in one of the sole two chairs there, already claiming one glass and pouring herself something to drink in the still silence of the night.

The little would-be healer was picked for a reason; she's known for her tenacity. One needs it to survive under Jonavan. The girl waits for something affirmative to carry back be it in word or writing then scampers back out through the crowd.

Much later, Jonavan judges the hour appropriate and makes his appearance. He pushes the door to, pausing for the briefest of moments to look around the room. A fresh haircut gives him the close trim favoured by riders, and for once in his life the healer has seen fit to shave. His gaze settles on Jaya, lips form a light smile, and he starts up again towards her. "Hi."

Jaya was in the process of starting on her second glass when she feels more than hears Jonavan's arrival. Facing the entrance, she looks up in time to see him standing there, her dark gaze drinking in the changes she sees in him with un veiled interest. She notes the haircut, but it's his expression that interests her most of all after the last meeting between them. Noting the light smile almost warily, a tentative and curious one gets returned after a moment before she sets her glass down and says, "Hey." She then nods him towards the seat in front of her, her eyes never leaving his face.

Undoubtedly there is something more behind the smile and unconcerned expression held on the healer's face, but whatever it is he hides well. Jonavan passes his hand over his close-shorn hair, still not used to it, and moves to sit. "So, what're we playing?" he asks, question coming as naturally as if nothing has passed between them, harkening back to early days when a card game was just a card game.

Lips part, but no sound comes out. Jaya doesn't know what to say, how to say it, but it passes once Jonavan's seated. Instead, she moves to pour him as glass and leans forward to push it towards him without any of it spilling, his question getting a heavy, "The only game there is worth playing." Dragon poker. A look briefly passes his way as she reaches for the deck of cards and starts to shuffle them deftly. "Are we playing for profit or for fun?" she asks them, cards moving through her fingers too quick to follow, shuffling the deck fully a few times before she doesn't wait to start doling out the cards.

At Jaya's reply, Jonavan's smile widens into a grin for an instant with the sharp, white flash of teeth. "What's this?" He reaches forward and fingers close around the glass. He picks up the bottle too, interested in the vivid tint to the glass that leaves its contents a mystery. "Your choice," he decides, unconcerned, as he sets the bottle down. "Playing for nothing though, I don't know if that's ever fun."

"Uhhh," Jaya's taken aback by the wide smile, her eyes on his teeth before she resumes work on flipping out cards for them both. His question gets a nod towards the bottle, "Something new for the bar. From Ista. Called Istan Wave. Figure I would give it a try, see if the patrons here would go for it." It has a distinct blend of spice and tropical fruits from the climes that had its name, an exotic flavoring that was not a part of the southern bar before. Once the cards are dealt and the deck placed where it should be, Jaya picks up her hand and her glass to the healer's last. There's a small smirk, the woman clearly staring the man down and trying to figure out this new turn of behavior. With a careless shrug, "Could be," she counters on playing for nothing, her tone carefully easy. "Depends on what else is on the table." Beat. "I'll put marks forth, if you do," she adds, nodding towards him to set the price.

"Are they?" Jonavan asks before putting the glass to his lips and trying the infusion for himself. It can't be conversation about different kinds of drink and their selling successes. When Jaya contradicts his statement, the man's expression carries the question that he doesn't put to words. "I'll play squarely if you do." The insinuation being that a Bitran is expected to cheat. Jonavan reaches for his cards and pulls out a quarter-mark piece before he's even looked at the hand.

"You're the first," Jaya gives in answer to his question, meeting his gaze before she takes a drink in kind. So many questions, things to say between them, and the expression she catches for his own query gets her full regard in silence. What Jonavan says next gets a snort from the Bitran, putting forth along with a quarter-mark to add to the pot, "Dunno what's you're talking about, healer," she sends his way with mock-dryness before the bottom half of her face gets hidden by her hand of cards. And then this first round, she lingers silent, dropping and putting in cards, ever watchful of Jonavan's own hand until it was time to reveal them. Laid down and revealed in favor for her glass of Istan Wave, the cards are fairly high but can be beat.

"Lucky me." Jonavan's tone is drier than the drink. He examines his cards, adjusting one here and there until the hand is sorted to his liking, and exchanges two with those on the deck. Jaya wins the first hand, but Jonavan's smile is forgiving. It is still the first hand, after all. He says little, but not solely from concentration on the cards; his composure lends itself to an almost-comfortable silence.

"You should be," Jaya is quick to return, seeming to warm up to dryness in Jonavan's voice. It was what she was used to of him, after all. She wins the first hand, but there seems to be little joy in it. She collects and shuffles the cards again, letting the silence linger between them before she literally, cannot take any of it anymore. Dealing out the cards again, her eyes watching where they fall between them, "Should I be expecting to find something like tunnelsnakes in my bed after this?" she asks, sending him a look, her curiosity laid bare. "You're awfully…calm, tonite." His calm unsettles her, clearly. Frowning a little, "Did something happen at the infirmary? Is there trouble?" The cards for this round are dealt and she settles her hand absently.

Alternating between drink and a close examination of his cards as they fall on the table, Jonavan looks amused when Jaya suggests rigging up her bed with tunnelsnakes is not beneath him."Would I do that?" He smiles disingenuously, knowing himself immature enough to probably at least consider it. He picks up his cards one by one, in time to her questions. Without sounding sharp, tolerant in his taunting tone, he instructs, "Shut up, Jaya. Play your cards."

Eyes on her cards as she discards one, "Probably," Jaya answers on what Jonavan would do, the little smirk in place. She didn't expect the answer she got when asked after the infirmary, not sharp but the woman cuts her eyes up at him sharply as if he had. Cards go down immediately and she sits back, eyes full of warning, narrowing as she tries to calm that familiar temper that rises to the fore. Going for her drink, "You must have me mistaken for someone else," she mutters audibly, shooting a dark glance his way for those words. She regards him coolly for a long moment as she nurses him drink her expression now heavily guarded in the face of that before she drains half her glass, sets it down and picks up her cards again. "Cut the shit, Jonavan," she says, her tolerance starting the drop. "You know I don't like being spoken to like that." Her own words terse, she now falls broodingly silent, eyes remaining solely on her cards as she grabs one from the deck to add to her hand.

"Probably," Jonavan agrees. Across the table, he watches the woman's temper rising as well as her struggle to gain mastery over it. He opens and closes and opens again his hand of cards, barely looking at them. "I know." The admittance is heavier than his tone taken thus far. "Nothing's wrong." Or everything, depending on one's perspective. Jonavan dithers between cards and drinks and settles on the latter. "Look, I thought one last round of cards might be nice. Can't you just play?" Setting an example, he puts down his hand on the table.

Silence meets all as Jaya remains on her cards, her low hand being revealed before she finally looks his way. She reclaims her glass, leaning away, no longer touching any of the cards since she lost this round. With the silence being heavy as she looks him over, "You don't want to talk," that being more statement than question gleaned from all that. "Should I even venture to ask what you mean…" It seems she's about to ignore the question asked on just playing, but after a long moment as she watches him, looks over his haircut and his shaved face, with an exhalation of breath, she reaches forward and puts another mark piece on the table before collecting up the cards in silence. She shuffles deftly without even seeming to focus, the cards being dealt out quickly and then she regards her hand with that lingering, guarded frown, saying nothing.

Winning is not the pleasure it should be. Jonavan collects the chips of wood but soon tosses one of them back into the neutral space between himself and Jaya, ante for the next hand. "What is there to talk about?" The rhetorical question takes a curious turn as he leans back and waits for the next hand to be dealt.

The cards dealt for the next round, Jaya takes her time rearranging the cards her hand through that rhetorical question. It's only then that she looks up Jonavan's way for it, not answering right away, not seeming about to answer when it lingers longer than it should have. Eyes fall back on her cards, two being taken out with quick decision as she tries to force down the sadness that the question emits. Knocking back the last of her drink to recover herself fully, her jaw tightens as she reaches to pick up two cards from the deck to add to her hand - and to start rearranging all over again with her poker face in place.

Jonavan stops waiting for an answer, if ever he was, and lets the silence build as he collects his cards. The man knows his poker and subjects his opponent to nearly as much study as the hand he holds. He doesn't force words on Jaya, going through his own motions of shuffle and discard. Silence he can do, even an uncomfortable one, and seems determined to wait it out rather than be the first to break it.

Once the arrangement appears to be to her liking, and she briefly looks up to see if Jonavan would drop first, Jaya waits for a little while longer before laying out her hand. This one higher than fairly, the cards arranged one by one neatly before her and for his eyes to see. Once they were out of her hands, she reaches for the blue bottle and refills her glass to the brim, sets the bottle back down but close to grabbing range, and sets to nursing her drink as she waits for his hand to reveal. Oddly enough, she doesn't look to be breaking the silence any longer either, though her focus is not as if should be for a game over gambling. A Bitran, she is not right now.

The healer narrows his eyes at Jaya's cards, looking for a trick that went unperceived. He folds rather than reveal his lower hand. The drink proves ready sustenance to nurse his loss. "Okay. When I said shut up, I didn't mean entirely." Jonavan tries to find the humour in the situation as he holds out his glass, since she's pouring.

Jaya wins the hand, but there's no taunting or joy. There's really…nothing. She looks as if she lost the hand rather than won it, the barkeep reaching for the won marks and tossing one back in for the next round. The heavy silence from her still lingers once Jonavan breaks it, the humor falling flat with her as she focuses on collecting up all his and her own cards without looking his way. The cards come together and she sets them aside in favor of picking up the bottle of Istan Wave. Reaching over to pour him a refill, she tops back her own glass - apparently she plans to do a lot of drinking this night - and sets it aside to shuffle the deck of cards again. At the end, as she starts dealing out the cards again for the next round, "Up the stakes?" she asks woodenly, her eyes on the cards as she watches where they fall, nodding towards the where the marks for the round would be.

Jonavan watches, bringing his glass back towards him once the top-up is attained by not immediately taking a sip. Instead, his hands fold around the glass. "Sure," he agrees easily, letting the cards fall into a full hand before he moves to pick them up. "What do you want?" The question doesn't limit itself to marks.

When Jonavan agrees and sends that question, Jaya seems to direct it towards the game. There's a mechanical shrug as she picks up her cards, "Your game," is her husky-toned answer, putting together her new hand with odd carefulness. "I'm just playing it, shuga." Whatever it was, she seems to have given up the fight, the woman appearing drained. Or, it could be the liquor. Or both. Cards get moved around without any sort of strategy, the drink taken up an after-thought. One card gets dropped with a frown, setting it aside for a new one from the deck before she nods towards the lone mark. "What's the wager, shuga?"

"My game?" Jonavan repeats, holding both drink and cards at the same time and managing to spill neither. His low laugh bears no malice. "When has it ever been?" He's a glass behind Jaya but keeps pace now that he's joined her in drinking. He slides two cards across the table for exchange after producing the requisite mark. For the wager, "You tell me."

"Thought there was nothing more to say between us?" Jaya puts forth with no malice - it's given in monotone, the woman watching after her cards rather than Jonavan's face. After a deliberate pause, "Full mark," is her wager, the woman dropping another card in exchange for one from the deck. She even shifts to fish into her pockets to pull out the right change to toss to the center of the table. After a moment, there seems to be something to say between them since she adds a touch lighter, "Weather's been nice out lately. Good riding weather. Racing weather, even. Ever raced a runner before?" and she looks up from her cards as she asks neutrally, seeming to have her cards in order.

Jonavan must concede her point because he says no more, substituting an answer for a long pull from the glass he's drinking from. "Sweeter than my usual tastes, but you could sell it," he finally gives a verdict on the liquor. It's followed by a keen look for the bet she names, and he sets down his hand so he can draw forth further marks from his pocket as the little collection in front of him doesn't add up. "Rode one, yes. Raced one, no." He gestures for her to show her cards first with the hand holding his glass. "Max has runners doesn't he." There would be bitterness given to the name if he knew. As it is, it's still neutral.

"It's not bad," Jaya agrees on the drink, though don't ask her what it tastes like at this point. The barkeep wouldn't have been able to distinguish it from ale, the way she was downing it. "It's strong, so it will sell with this crowd. I think one rider complained once that I had too many weak stock," and she shakes her head to that one. "Still," and she downs some of it in her glass and looks at the blue-tinged liquid within as she seems determined to keep the conversation on neutral ground while they played, "I should make a good profit. Maybe." She watches Jonavan put in his marks pieces before showing her hand, which was decent. "You should race one at least once," she says then, leaning away from her shown hand with her glass close. "I guarantee, that it's far from boring. Wanted to be a racer myself back home, but, most men shun us girls. Think we'll crack a wrist or something," and she snorts at that one. On Max, the question gets a brief roll of her eyes and a dry, "Yes, he does, but you try taking one to go race it. Those aren't really bred for them anyway. One or two of them will certainly crack a wrist." There's a faint smile on the topic, and then she gestures with her half-empty glass for him to reveal his hand.

You should slow down, Jonavan should say, but he doesn't. Who is he to lecture Jaya? The healer still keeps pace and accordingly the liquor disappears rapidly from his glass too. "I find it hard to believe that you wouldn't make a profit." Case in point - Jaya wins the hand and draws forth a oath from the healer. "Faranth's tits. My deal, you're stacking the deck." He doesn't really think Jaya's cheating but holds his hand out for the cards nevertheless. "I'd probably like it," he agrees on racing, "but I haven't had a go at riding even in a long time. Out of practice."

Jaya's not slowing down. Not even on her good days. Setting the glass down at bit heavily as she lifts one finger - the win she gets seems to be of little interest to her as the liquor starts to set in, "Made profit my whole life," she says, nodding a few times. "This place here, shuga, it's not much different. Well, except maybe being surrounded by riders and decent folk instead of dirty men and cutthroats." Beat. "Some days, I miss cutthroats." Eyes fall on the hands presented, and she shrugs at the muttered curse from the healer. "If I was cheating you," she notes heavily, eyes boring into his face, "then you wouldn't have known it. Besides, I don't care if I win tonite. I'm still trying to figure out why you even want to play with me tonite, since you don't seem to want anything to do with me." She lets him take the cards anyway though as the words fall without filter from her lips, planting an elbow on the table to prop her head up on it as she then answers on racing - "Then ride, first. You'd kill yourself racing. Bitra has the best setups. You've been to Bitra, right? No? If not, you should. Not as bad a place as folks like to think. Not boring, either."

"Yes I would've." A few drinks in him and Jonavan is more arrogant than ever, evincing complete confidence in his skills of observation. He takes the deck but their hands don't touch. Another moment has him starting to shuffle. "No," he corrects with a maddening smile, "you don't want anything to do with me." The cards fall together with rapid-fire precision. "Beyond playing cards and figuring out why I'm here - and I told you, I'm here to play cards." His words turn circular, and the man slides the deck across so Jaya can cut. "I can think of worse ways to kill myself than something involving speed and danger. I've been," he affirms. "Not for some time, though. You're right, it wasn't boring.

"Nope," Jaya openly disagrees, watching him. "I'm just that good. Been caught a few times, though, but, I manage. Men get really tetchy when they realize a woman can outmaneuver them," and a intoxicated finger slides over and down the scar on the side of her face as if in indication. Drink gets downed completely now before she address his words on reasons for playing cards, the first getting a blithe, "No," with counter correcting, the dropping heavily. "I never said I didn't want to have anything to do with you. Why would I say that? If I didn't, you wouldn't piss me off so much!" and she flicks a hand in his direction for emphasis. "So you're wrong, about me at least." Beat. She grabs the deck and cuts, reaching for the blue bottle again before turning to the topic of racing. "Worse ways to kill yourself, hmm? I can, too. Seen some pretty gruesome ways back there. I miss Bitra." The words are as quick as shuffling cards, the woman staring into the glass she's pouring for herself. "Home and whatnot. Should go back, at least for a bit. Go racing good runners. Cheat some men at cards. Been a long time. Been turns. Been home recently, yourself?"

Jonavan's eyes follow the line Jaya traces down the side of her face. "See if you can cheat me," he proposes, sliding the card back towards her undealt. "Best two out of three. See if you can win, see if I can catch you." Cards now in the table between them, it leaves Jonavan's hands free to seek the drink and drain the glass dry. He smiles ever so slightly when it's granted how infuriating he can be, but still asks, "Didn't you though?" In intention more than word, but to the same effect. "So have I;" unsurprising given his profession. Then: "No," he answers shortly the question of visits home. "My father and I don't get on terribly well." A straight answer from Jonavan without evasion - does Jaya notice?

"You want to lose tonite that badly?" Jaya puts forth, frowning a bit as she tries to work through any tricks Jonavan maybe playing with her Istan Wave-sodden brain. Eyes falling on the deck then, "Don't really care about winning," she seems to interjects, looking over at him. She takes up the deck then, his question getting an unfailing, "If you truly, honestly think that I didn't give a shit, that I don't care about you, that I would not have had anything to do with you despite all, through it all, because of it all…" She states, her thumb brushing over the topmost card idly, "…then, you and I would have never worked, shuga. Guess we just," and she shrugs, frowning, "come from different paths, you and I." She grows silent on that, thoughtful before she continues on deal out the cards and say, "Same wager?" Beat. "Your da, really? Why so?" Yeah, Jaya's noticed the straight answer, and the added question escaped from her lips before she could stop it.

"Who says I'm losing?" Jonavan's cocky, yes, but it comes as no surprise. "You think you're that good? This isn't about winning." At least, not in the way of marks gambled and lost. He frowns through Jaya's remarks and at length replies, "That wasn't exactly what I said. Besides - you said it first. That I want nothing to do with you." He isn't willing to admit this separate paths logic and instead grows sullen, ducking his head and rubbing the back of his neck. The fingers of the opposite hand push his glass out for a refill. "Yeah," he mutters, not really caring about the marks won or lost. The man doesn't say anything immediately about his father, preoccupied with the business of collecting his cards and sorting through his words. "We don't see things in the same light."

Well, Jaya wasn't exactly keeping tabs on who was winning or losing, and it shows on her slightly dubious expression. "Uhhh, welll, I'd still win," she finishes lamely, staring Jonavan down. "But I'm drunk so, uhhhh, I can make mistakes." Yeah, blame it now on the liquor. When Jonavan interjects her words, the Bitran looks up from the deck. "Do you?" is all she seems to put forth on all that, watching him. "Want to do with me? We're talking in circles now," and a fogged brain isn't making much sense of it, either. She waves a hand at him, a tired smile given, "I dunno, Jonavan. I never do, with you. I always seem to say the wrong things with you. Do the wrong things, at the wrong time." Back to the cards once their dealt, she picks up her hand as she adds, "That's the way it is with us, hmm? Push and pull, never a compromise in sight." There's no accusation in her tone - just, stating her own facts as she grabs the blue bottle and goes to refill his glass. Refilling her own and holding it out to him as if in a toast, "Here's to two fucked up people that can, at least, play cards right, eh?" is her toast, the laughter self-deprecating before she takes a drink in salute. The words on his dad seem too familiar, even, the woman regarding the man before stating, "I see." Beat. "No compromise. What did he want of you?" and she studies her hand and makes with the rearranging.

Jonavan makes a loud, comically contemptuous noise, blowing air through pursed lips. "I don't make mistakes even when I'm drunk so you shouldn't either." Apparently holding Jaya to the same standards he sets for himself. As for the wanting or not wanting or whatever it is that they're talking about, half-obliquely and half-honestly - "I'm here, aren't I?" He gathers in his cards but doesn't pick them up when Jaya proposes a toast, choosing the latter instead. The clink of glass to glass seals the salute. "Oh, I don't know." He plays casual for the sake of not directly answering the question on his father and picks up his cards. "This hand's straight," he determines, and so he'll play it. "He always finds something to criticise."

"You just want to see me fall on my ass," Jaya quips, pinning the healer with a look on his comment on making mistakes while drunk. "Shouldn't ask a Bitran to cheat you anyway. Might take more than your marks by the end of the night. This Neratian made that mistake, once." Silence meets his half given answer, it being part of the circle-talking as she looks over her cards and throws some marks to the center of the table. "You are," she finally agrees to him being there, "and so am I." That seemed to be enough answer from her. Once the toast is made and she takes a long drink, "Some would say," she notes, dropping a couple of cards in favor for more, "that he criticizes because he wants to see the best in you." Beat. "Unless he's just an asshole like my own," she adds a touch dryly, shaking her head. "Ole' Bhadri Dicori criticized the cleanest chamberpot if he wanted." Hands are subtle, the movements subtle as she replaces cards, not a step missed.

"Probably," Jonavan agrees, like he had agreed to an earlier prank, with a quick flash of a grin. As for tempting the Bitran nature out of her, his smile widens. "I'll risk it." His own marks join the pat, tossed in as uncaringly as if he hasn't counted them. The man's seemingly satisfied by the answer she puts to him and says nothing further to it, letting the toast serve as answer. "Some." He watches Jaya closely given the challenge he set for himself and for her. "Differing ideas on the word best. You've a card up your sleeve." He doesn't mean metaphorically.

"You'll be disappointed," Jaya seems to warn, flashing that quick grin right back. "I don't fall, and you can risk it. Don't say I didn't warn you." She watches his marks join the pot, moving her cards about a bit more animatedly than before. She knows he's watching, but she doesn't seem fazed. "You're going to be the best healer in Pern," she notes as she works, her poker face in place. "Surely your da would support that. Better than being a thief, at least." When Jonavan states she has a card up her sleeve, the woman, sets her hand down and lifts both hands up. Her sleeves were short enough to see up under, and so she makes a show of shaking the sleeves of her arms. That was his answer, and she reclaims her hand of cards. "Ready to show'em or are you scared to?" she puts forth then, eyeing his hand he holds.

Jonavan keeps close and careful watch on Jaya's hands, the sharpness of his regard answer enough. "Surely," he agrees dryly to the remarks on his father but doesn't elucidate for several moments as he pays close attention. "Would've liked me to go back and take over for him. Evie gets off easier somehow. But my family's been the Hold's healers several generations back." The way he says it indicates he has no intention of carrying on that auspicious line. Jonavan's failure to bring a card to light elicits a shrug, not terribly concerned by the failure there, for: "I know you did something." He doesn't try to resist the slip into innuendo. "You show me yours, I'll show you mine."

“The family business,” Jaya breathes out those words knowingly, seeming to understand exactly where he was coming from. “I get it. Been there. Should have done the responsible thing myself and taken over the trade wagons from my father,” she relates, eyes flicking over her cards as her hands move. “Didn’t, though. I just….saw something different for myself. Didn’t want to be tied down to a wagon.” Hearing Evie’s name causes her to smile, looking his way before adding, “Women usually do,” to her getting off easy. Back to her cards, “And so, you wanted different, and he criticized. My guess is, you haven’t gone back home since?” Jonavan’s noting of some sort of slight of hand being done gets an intoxicated snort from her. “Unless you can point it out, healer….” And then the innuendo in those words cause her to snort a touch more amused before she reveals her high hand. “Oh, I think we’ve been down that road before, you and I. Here you go. Read and weep. Or drink. This Wave stuff really does taste better the more you drink it.” Drink it, she does.

Jonavan is practically a mature adult tonight, listening and responding. Conversing. "Well if it matters any, I'm glad you didn't." Take over the wagons. "Oh, no. I go home from time to time. Fun for the whole family." Flippant with his sarcasm, he sounds more like the Jonavan she knows than earlier with that weird eerie quiet calm. He frowns as Jaya shows her cards, unable to place the trick - girl's good with her cards, but then he expected no less. "Two out three," he reminds and tosses his lower hand across the table for her. "I'm onto you now." He drinks away his loss since he's not really the weeping sort.

Mature adult. Jaya almost appears taken aback that Jonavan answers her at all, and for awhile she’s just staring at him. There’s a slight frown, then, “I’m glad, too. I would still be there otherwise.” She lapses into silence, her eyes falling on the card when the old Jonavan returns on his going back home. After a moment, “So when’s Evie visiting again?” she asks, lifting her dark regard to land on him, and then she nods towards his face to add, “Like the look. Liked you the other way, too. I don’t think I want to play anymore.” The cards. There was no heart in cheating this night, and it shows. She looks to see that she won the hand, and instead of collecting up the cards she wipes them all to the center of the table with one hand and collects up her glass. “You can have the marks, shuga.”

Under Jaya's stare, Jonavan looks almost embarrassed even as he questions her on it with a wry, "What?" Embarrassment is a new disposition for him; it doesn't sit well. He skips to an answer about his sister in short order. "Oh, I don't know. When she feels like it or feels a need. You should ask her yourself though, don't rely on me." In other words, he's aware of the acquaintance grown up between the two and neatly removes himself from being the third wheel of their friendship. At her compliment, Jonavan self-consciously rubs the back of his head again. The near-shave makes him look sterner, brings his features into sharper definition. It makes a notable change from the rough appearance he's defiantly favoured so far. Dropping his hand, he shakes his head in the negative. "No, I don't want them." The man responds to this rather than her other comments. "Consider it an investment for your bar." Taking his cue from the finished game, Jonavan finishes off his drink and sets the glass down. He unfolds from his chair, looking down at the bar owner from his greater height. Silence stretches out between them as he tries to put words to what it is that he wants to say, and at last gives her again words he had spoken the first time they met. "It's been interesting."

When Jonavan asks, and looks embarrassed, Jaya answers. “You’re different tonite. Honest.” Which may be a clue, or something, but she’s not sure. She doesn’t respond when he answers on Evie, only giving a non-commital nod to seeking her out herself, but there’s no reaction when he chooses not to take the marks. Clearly, the game had nothing to do with the marks. She doesn’t touch them all the same, remaining to sit back in her chair, watching the healer finish his drink and get to his feet. Eyes narrow slightly when they both stare at each other in that lengthening silence, and for her, the silence seems telling. Or it’s maybe the words spoken, it being familiar to her. “A man doesn’t leave his marks behind on the table unless he knows it’s for the last time,” she notes with a deep breath, her eyes falling on those untouched marks. “Even when he has plenty of them. I feel like I’m losing a friend.” She shakes her head to that before meeting his gaze again, looking over the shave and the haircut. “The cut, this game, your demeanor….”

"I am what I am." The difficult man gives no other explanation and leaves Jaya to do the explaining for herself. An explanation Jonavan neither confirms nor denies, difficult to read. "If I left, who would make your life miserable?" The question comes quicker to his lips than an outright lie. Paused in place, he doesn't respond to her list of clues, letting them trail off until he at last sports a smile that speaks more of regret than good humour. "Were we ever friends?"

Jaya couldn’t speak if she wanted to, her gaze just lingering on Jonavan for his first two responses as she reaches finally for her glass. The last gets an even longer look from her, the briefest of a heavy frown, her expression ending up heavily guarded as she finally looks away from him. Leaning forward to slowly collect up the cards, “If you had to ask,” is all she says to that in a low, sober voice. “But I’ve tried.” Beat. “And failed, clearly.” Pausing on a card, blinking back tears as she keeps her face averted, there’s faint short laughter as if something said suddenly amused her, and a faint “Until we meet again. Or we don’t.” Then she resumes picking up the cards.

Jonavan's silence is more expressive than spreading hands in a helpless gesture; his hands remain right where they are, at his side. Eventually he answers her, frowning to see the subtle clues of her distress. "I'm not good at friends. Or anything else, for that matter." He pauses, still picking his words, not moving from his place even though the young woman's words sound like a goodbye. "You didn't fail, Jaya," he says at last. "I did."

“Self-deprecation is my look, not yours,” Jaya quips in dry humor, a small huff of laughter proceeding the words on his not being good at friends. The last card gets picked up, and she absently shuffles them all into a very neat deck with her gaze remaining firmly on them. The last gets long silence, the young woman not sure what to say, how to say it for that. Finally, “You’re a decent man, Jonavan,” she says, still unable to meet his gaze. “Far more than you give yourself fucking credit for. Deserve far more than you think you do, too. Way more than what your father thinks, or anyone. You know it, or you wouldn’t be here.” Lifting her chin a fraction as she gently lays the deck of cards down, “An old boss of mine once told me, before he cut me, that you do what you have to do to get to where you need to be, to be golden,” she adds absently. “Failing’s part of that. You’re a healer. You’ll be the best at it, but we both did, you and I. Wasn’t all you.” She pushes the deck away and reaches to weigh what’s left of the bottle. “So be golden, shuga,” she says, finally looking his way, the smile touching full lips having no warmth and matching the sadness she tries to hide. She raises the bottle as if in farewell to him then, not getting up, seeming intent on staying there at the table to finish off the large blue bottle since it goes to her lips. “Just be golden.”

Jonavan has never asked how Jaya gained her scar beyond initial speculations. He's able to keep his eyes on Jaya far steadier than she can look at him, and his gaze flickers to the side of her face when she mentions her old boss. He doesn't respond in so many words, but finally steps around the table to stoop, bringing himself down to Jaya's level so he can press a short, chaste kiss to her scarred cheek if she lets him. Straightening, he simply says, "Take care of yourself, Jaya." With that, he turns and goes.

The kiss to cheek is taken, and Jaya closes to her eyes to it. Once Jonavan straightens and steps away, she only can watch him go, choosing to say nothing until he reaches the entrance. Only then does she respond back with a hoarse, “See ya, shuga.” The card are forgotten, and the barkeep turns with the Istan Wave bottle in hand to stare after the wall in deep contemplative silence.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License