Fencing For Information


Jaya.jpg Jonavan.jpg Ellis, npced by Jonavan

Date: 6 June 2011
Location: Healer Hall, Fort
Synopsis: Jaya goes exploring the Hall and meets Ellis, who is apparently Jonavan's only friend. Ellis tries to figure out the reasons she and Hope are at Hall.
Rating: PG13
Logger: Jonavan

After a restless sleep and no bar to prep for the night, Jaya was in the mood to explore.

She made sure that Hope was taken care of, the little girl having gone off to spend the morning to break her fast with Jonavan. The two barely spoke of the night before, so other than the proper words one said to a guest, the two went off on their separate paths. The Bitran chose to wander up and down the halls and peer into both empty and occupied rooms like a curious child in her free time - both room and its occupants getting her study. Dressed in the warm clothes Jonavan brought for her, her dark hair spilling over shoulders and not covering the long nasty scar that graces the side of her face, she was used to the long stares she was getting from healers and residents alike. She wore her light scowl like a stole to keep them at bay, catching snatches of muttered comments that suspiciously sounded something to do with her and Jonavan (and Hope as her apparent daughter). Any that dared to come close as if to engage her in talk, they quickly thought of something better to do. It was the Weyr all over again save for the gossip and medicinal smells that seemed to follow her everywhere.

A half an hour into her wanderings brought her into the outside herb garden where no one lingered. Dark eyes take in the rows upon rows of medicinal plants - some of them familiar by sight from her times visiting the Weyr gardener, Lorayit. Fingers itched to take up a few - maybe something to settle Hope's stomach, perhaps, or to make bland food taste better - anything. The thought never occured to her to not to steal - being that she was in unfamiliar territory, after all. As she approaches a particularly yellow-colored one, it seemed to matter little. The healers could grow it back.

Though perhaps not quite as worse for wear as Jonavan was, Ellis didn't exactly look his best. The brown-haired man of medium build managed to drag himself in for breakfast nonetheless, as much to check up on his friend as to procure klah. "Hey, where's —" He didn't even get the question out before Jonavan tersely snapped, "Fuck if I know." Ellis held his hands up as a sign of surrender as he retreated.

The journeyman went roaming with klah and hides in hand, ostensibly looking for a quiet place to get some reading done but in truth curious about the woman that had put his friend in such a surly state. The snippets he'd gleaned the night before over drinks piqued his interest all the more. And so he came to find himself in the herb garden.

Ellis watches Jaya from a side path, pausing as his steps carry her into view. Something about the way she approaches the plants makes him smile, and as he steps forward to meet her, the man looks amiable and harmless, though tired. "Can probably get you some cuttings if you like."

Jaya seems far more into the plants before her, trying to recall all that she learned with the Weyr gardener when Ellis entered. She absently runs a hand through her thick hair, shaking strands loose before a hand reaches out to touch one of the petals. That is, until his voice has her snapping back from it with one hand immediately going for her concealed knife at her side. On cue, that scowl comes to the fore, the Bitran shooting the man a heavy look for interrupting her potential theft attempt. His word are taken in silence, the young woman straightening to her full height before answering. “Oh yeah?” One that studies behavior will see that she is uncouth – no proper lady, this one. “What you wanna do that for?” Dark eyes look the man over then, her scar showing in the faint sunlight before adding, “Got a kid with me that might get tummy aches at night,” in a tough voice, trying to sound very non-mother-like. Could also be her excuse for being there instead of her real reason of casing the Hall.

Unfortunately for Jaya, Ellis is immune to dark looks and black moods. He doesn't scare off as easily as some of his contemporaries, and his expression is unchanging as he comes nearly alongside, a few paces off. "You looked as if you might want something, and that's what we're here for, to provide." He couches the reply mildly, unbothered by the theft in the making. Her reasons for it draw more open inquisitiveness. "Oh yeah?" The healer sounds more than professionally interested. "Your kid - Hope, isn't it?"

Jaya looks over her shoulder and sees that the healer is clearly not going anywhere, so the look she sends his way is sour. To his initial words, "Well then," she drops, turning to face him now with a speculative eye falling over his frame. "You healers provide, huh? You could provide me some marks, then. Yours, preferably." She's joking, right? "And something good to fence while you're at it." Detecting his interest in the little girl, his question gets a blithe, "Yeah, that's her name." Beat. "Who're you?" she asks now, especially since he wasn't looking to leave her be.

Rather than deny Jaya outright, Ellis opts for another tactic. "Alas, I haven't got any." He turns out one of his pockets as proof, holding his klah mug in the other hand. "Fence?" he repeats, brow furrowing in pretend confusion. He knows exactly what she means, what angle she's driving at, what she's projecting herself as being. "Ellis," he gives his name directly when asked, tucking the pocket back in before he offers his hand.

"Shame," Jaya remarks when Ellis turns out a pocket - one could think, underneath that mock disappointment, there was some real disappointment. She almost looks fully amused when he echoes a word she uses, turning back to the yellow herb patch she was looking to take up before stating, "Yep, fencing. Taking something and, ahhh, passing it on kindly in exchange for something else?" Dark eyes flicking up to him, studying his face for his reaction with that rakish air to her as her ebony strands fall over one eye, "You know what I mean?" with a brow lifting with that challenging glint of a smile. But then, he's giving his name outright. His hand extended, the Bitran straightens up once more and brushes hair from her eye before taking his in a firm grip. "Ellis," she repeats his name as if committing it to memory. Then, as if the name triggers something, she tacks on, "Wait, Ellis? Jonavan's Ellis?" She looks him over more closely, the masterhealer having mentioned the man - also read the name from Jonavan's journal. Almost lamely, appearing taken aback now, "You're his friend."

"Oh, that kind of fence," Ellis replies as if it rings a bell, snapping his fingers. His poker-face folds into a grin; the healer clearly enjoys the word-play. The man shakes Jaya's hand heartily and does not immediately drop her hand when she starts to place him. "Well, I prefer to think of myself as my own man." The affable man has hardly taken offense and returns to sipping his klah, holding the mug in a loose two-handed grip once he lets go of Jaya's hand. Her reaction has the healer looking at her with interest, the beginnings of a question as-yet unvoiced. "The one and only," Ellis agrees, making a light slur upon Jonavan's character as he confirms the description. "You must be Jaya." Look, he knows who she is too.

Jaya snorts to the first, but it's soft. Looking around the garden, "I'm surprised," she notes after a pause, meeting his gaze. "Thought you healer types would be more gullible, but I forget I am talking to a friend of Jonavan's." She waits for him to drop her hand, her grip solid and firm when Ellis confirms who he is. Once he lets go, she tucks her hands in her pockets and rocks back and forth a little on the balls of her feet. Full lips twitch into that cunning smile when he provides her name, drawling, "One and only, shuga. Guess I shouldn't be too surprised you know my name. Must be a shock, finding us here." 'Us' being her and Hope. Brow lifting at him then, "Are you really his only friend?" she asks, amusement in her voice as she meets his gaze over her shoulder when she turns.

Ellis doesn't appear to mind being called gullible even if it's only by association. "Well, wasn't expected," he has to admit as to having Jaya and Hope turn up out of the blue. "But I've given up having any expectations." He's good-humoured and largely without sarcasm, though sounds droll for the last. "So," as casual as can be, "planning to stay long, or…?"Ellis shamelessly fishes for information, then shrugs and says, "We go back," as if that explains it all. It doesn't, of course, since his so-called friend is more notorious than well-liked around Hall.

"I bet the masterhealer didn't expect it, either," Jaya notes with a touch of wryness to them being dropped off on his doorstep - literally. "Imagine his shock." Yeah, she was certain the two talked about it, too. She starts to slowly move about the row they're in, her eyes lingering over the various plants before them before his question gets her to turn about and raise both her brows at him. This time, there's that crooked smile of hers along with a blithe "What, he didn't tell you?" in almost playful return, a hand reaching out to touch a delicate blue leaf. She knows what he's doing, and she didn't want to give up the wordplay just yet. His vague answer gets a look before asking, "Do you? How so? You're the only one willing to put up with him, next to his sister? Grew up together?" She fishes as well and doesn't hide it, going back to examining the plants with ease.

"If you call him that to his face, his head will get so big that it'll explode. Brains everywhere." Ellis lost a bet on who would make Master first and is therefore a bit sore on the subject. Those were all his marks that were flowed as freely as the ale last night. "Well, no," he has to admit, sipping his klah and watching Jaya as she starts to wander. "I figured he didn't know." So here's Ellis, shamelessly trying to find out for himself. The man comes up alongside, considering Jaya like she considers the plants, trying to figure her out and see what Jonavan sees. For her question about his story, his slice of history, Ellis easily offers a smile, and more.

"I was mouthing off at a journeyman," he remembers. "There was some girl, I think. Was already so far into trouble that it didn't seem like it mattered if I got in any deeper so I just kept going - and he came up and pulled something out of his ass about how I had a condition. Kept going on and on, he was completely full of shit and the journeyman knew it, but what he was saying actually fit how I looked and acted at the time. So in the end the journeyman said he'd let us both off if we took extra hours cleaning up in the infirmary for two sevens and took his class too. So that's how we ended up in our first diagnostics class. Journeyman wanted Jon to keep at it - he was brilliant -" he says this without a trace of envy, resentment long gone, "but he was set on surgery just because it was so controversial, so I was the one who ended up sticking with it instead." With a faintly guilty smile, he comes to the end of the story and realises, "And now I've talked your ear off."

With a mock frown,” Funny,” Jaya remarks to the first, eyes lingering on the plants rather than her companion. “I called him that to his face yesterday and pride was not what I saw on his face. Brains seem to be still intact.” She picks a leaf off of a plant, straightening up and bringing it to her nose for a sniff. His next on Jonavan not knowing gets a wry “Had to get away for awhile,” in her slight Bitran accent. She looks his way before adding, “Might be around for a few days, a seven or so, until things….cool.” Back to the plant she studies, feeling Ellis studying her but noting more of his story. It’s a story – a piece of history Jonavan hasn’t shared – that draws her interest without trying not to, the barkeep staring hard at him the more he talks. When he says the last there’s easy laughter, the woman shaking her head. “I barkeep,” she gives with an incline of her head. “It is my place to have my ear talked off. How else am I to know what makes a man tick?” Rocking back then, “And so, because he can runnershit a story, you and he became friends? He’s been a good friend to you?” An odd question perhaps, but one she seems to be curious on.

Ellis is not without sympathy, although a smile comes easily to the man's mobile face. "Maybe you weren't trying hard enough," he suggests, like Jaya would want to see Jonavan's brains go splattering. He nods to her explanation of her presence, vague as it is, and although still curious has the grace not to go obviously digging for more - likely he thinks there's some sort of domestic trouble behind everything. "Well, if you need anything," he makes a generously open offer since Jonavan probably won't, used to stepping in where his friend fails.

Undaunted by the self-proclaimed barkeep's stare, the journeyman replies with easy, amiable good humour. "Hey, runnershitting a story is an admirable quality," Ellis says, a chuckle breaking through. "I think I cheated off his papers, too — Good?" It shouldn't be a word that needs defining, but perhaps unsurprisingly, Ellis does put it to question, turned towards Jaya with lifted brows. "He's difficult and petty and plays mind-games like kids play taunt-the-watchwher, but…" He shrugs and stops trying to explain it. "We're friends. Don't ask me why."

Laughing, the sound almost rough in texture, “Well I did praise him for his new digs,” Jaya notes, shaking her head. “He’s got it made here compared to his room back in Eastern. Hope dumped feed for her Chicken Shit on his bed, even.” When Ellis offers need of anything, the barkeep considers that for a moment. She looks the healer over speculatively before asking, “Any good taverns around here? I could use some good Bitran whiskey, shuga. Maybe a brawl or two, too.” She snorts in amusement at Ellis’s remark on admirable qualities, “So he’s that smart? Huh.” That draws her interest, but she doesn’t lend voice to it. As to whether Jonavan was a good friend or not, “You’re honest,” she observes, watching him. “I can see why you’re his friend. I don’t think he abides falsity. I don’t, either.”

"Really?" Ellis' brow lifts, followed by the low sound of his laughter as Jaya describes Hope and her pet. "You wouldn't know. He's mostly been complaining since he got back. The people, the food, the routine - if you ask me, he likes it down South." He says it like it's almost a secret, conspiratorial as he leans in for a moment. He nods before drinking the last of his klah, confirming Jonavan's so-called smarts. "Yeah. Though if you took a little bit of it away and gave it to the other areas…he'd be a whole new person." The other healer states it as a fact rather than as a suggestion, not himself convinced that a change of character would be a change for the better. Knowing how that might sound, he affixes, "But that's subtraction. What he really needs is addition." The honesty Jaya's pinpointed manifests as constructive criticism, even for a good friend. "Doesn't abide falsity," Ellis says musingly. His regard quickens a little, intensifies; the remark is the sort that has him forming opinions. "That's a good line. I may keep it." Then, to answer her question. "There's a tavern or two over at the Hold. Might have to ride out a bit to the nearest waystation if you want a brawl though. Holders - so uptight. Don't really go in for that sort of thing." He winks, and his deliberative air is gone. "I'll take you if you like. It's my restday."

At first, Jaya appears alittle surprised to hear that Jonavan would complain of the Hall – a Hall that was giving him much better than she was sure he was getting back in Eastern – but as her smile slips away slowly, the barkeep has a feeling she would know why. The confession last night would have something to do with it, but she wasn’t going to tell him that. To recover the silence, she grins at the conspiratorial tone Ellis takes and answers, “Interesting. I never would have guessed.” She lapses into silence then, thinking as she looks over the row of herbs before them for a moment. When Ellis says that his friend doesn’t need subtraction, “I can agree with that. Smart in some ways, clueless in others,” she drops with some dryness that’s short-lived. “But a smart man like him probably knows that.” She turns when Ellis repeats one of her lines, the grin lopsided as she states back, “Been hanging with a former harper too much, I think, to be having a proper healer agree with me so.” She paces close to him then as if to peek what sheets he has in his hands as he speaks on taverns and brawls to be had. Meeting his gaze with a raised brow to the wink, “You brawl, yourself?” she puts to him then, and then tacks on, “You’d take me for a drink and a brawl?” with some playful disbelief. “I should warn you, I’m a Bitan girl. I’ll drink and gamble and break noses till dawn. I ain’t proper, shuga.” Best to warn the poor man before he gets into something he’ll he blaming his friend later.

Ellis has a feeling he understands his friend's complaints too, reading between the lines. The healer lowers his hides so Jaya can look easily - nothing but medical this and that, nothing worth hiding from view. "I don't know if I'm a big one for brawling myself," the man confesses, "but I can hold your drink and encourage you while you do it." He looks at Jaya a moment longer and keeps a light tone as he adds, "Besides, something tells me you could use it. So," tone changing to greater professionalism, "What about those herb clippings?"

Dark eyes falling on those medical notes that Ellis lets her see, “You will encou—?” Jaya looks incredulously at him for that, meeting his gaze before raucous laughter erupts from her. Shaking her head, “Ha! I like that. Sure, you can hold my drink, shuga. I like that you’re honest. We’ll go out and drink, you and I, and you will watch me fight.” His remark earns him a Jaya in a lighter mood, for the Bitran nods to those herb clippings this time and says, “Yeah, I can take some. Right over here…” and she’ll lead him where, passing the rest in small talk involving the Hall while the healer gets her those clippings.

That night…

There’s a loud thunk before the door to Jonavan’s room swings open, revealing a tall, curvy young woman stumbling on through with her hair in disarray. Jaya pauses in the room before turning to close the door, peering into the dim lit room before she stumbles toward where the couch would be. Blood drips from a beaten-looking nose into her torn clothes, and the Bitran looks as drunk as a blundering fool.

Jonavan is grumpy. Jonavan wanted to be the one to go out and get drunk. He's up in a flash as he hears noise on the outside, emerging at the door to his bedroom and standing there with folded arms and a glare as Jaya comes careening in. "Be quiet," he hisses, his chin jerking back behind him, where Hope's crashed out on his bed. "Faranth, you look…" Amazing might be his first choice of adjectives but it doesn't fit the situation and it certainly doesn't fit his mood. "Like a fucking drunk."

Eyes swinging to find no Hope, “Where’s….where is…?” Jaya’s slurring her speechless, thinking the man glaring at her has stolen her. She does lower her voice though and moves to slump on top of her couch, a hand going to her forehead as Jonavan continues to speak, growling to his last, “Sounds like pots talkin’….talkin’ to kettles to me…” is her graceful return. Stealing a dark eye over him, “You missed the fun,” she drawls, swaying a bit. “My nose looks bad, but his looks worse. Even before I kissed it with my fist.” Hers is purpling nicely, now, too. She's also looking to be down for the count, the way her eyes were starting to close and her body starts to lean with that cocky smile on her face.

Jonavan's glare doesn't last, transitioning from straight-forward annoyance to something more complicated. "Sleeping. She can't sleep with you, you'll either roll over and kill her or drown her in alcohol fumes." He'd had a fairly good idea about what would keep Jaya out so late. "Fun?" He repeats the word with cynical amusement. "Good." Good? "I was starting to think you were all talk." Jonavan, dressed for bed in and old, faded shirt and loose bottoms, starts forward into the room with a mind to keep Jaya from crashing on her face when it looks like she might.

Jaya's far too sloshed to note the nuances of facial expressions - in fact, she's probably thinking the masterhealer's still pissed. Jonavan's words on Hope has her trying to lurch to her feet, instinct cut loose through alcohol prompting her to say, "Wanna see her." It takes a few tries, but in the end she fails when the bruises and fatigue overwhelm her. She's left to just stare through the door Jonavan stands next to, looking as if she could see the little girl sleeping from where she slumped. Some of his words finally filter through to her through all these attempts - well, not surprisingly, the jibe of her being all talk. She tries to throw a filthy look his way, blurting out, "All talk? I'm a damn 'Cori!" and she slaps her chest to indicate herself. "We're not all talk. Come over'ere and I'll bust yer face, too….M' fine," she adds more quietly then, seeing him coming forward, the woman now dropping her head against the couch pillow. "Don' need no healer, masterhealer. Just need to….mmmm….good fi…" As soon as Jaya's head hits the pillow, she's out like a light, her soft snores made to start momentarily.

"You can't." Jonavan's voice is tight, strained. "Not like this. She's sleeping." He watches her try and fail with inflexibility on his part; even had Jaya managed to stay on her feet, he wouldn't have let her past. The threat washes over him to no great effect, and he counters with, "Yeah, I'd love to see you try. You'd end up on your ass." As Jaya falls into her makeshift bed and falls asleep not a moment later, Jonavan's gaze lingers on her busted-up face. Instead of returning to his room, he pours her a glass of water from the pitcher on a side-table and puts it just out of reach, where Jaya won't accidentally knock it over. Next he shakes out one of the blankets Jaya hasn't fallen asleep on top of and drapes it over her. His hand hesitates at her shoulder before he allows himself to fleetingly touch her hair, smoothing it behind her ear. Then, with these gestures of kindness behind him and unnoticed, Jonavan goes back to bed.

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