Heading Out


Ahnika.jpg Max.jpg

Date: 8/25/10
Location: EW: Tunnels
Synopsis: Max finds Ahnika and makes his farewell to her as he heads out on the hunt for the trader Phineus. The discussion turns tense as Ahnika doesn't want him to go and definitely doesn't want Phineus brought back, but Max insists this is for the good of all involved, including Ahni and himself, needing to champion her in this cause.
Rating: PG-13 - Language.
Logger: Ahnika

Unfortunately, Ahnika didn't feel right avoiding her normal load of chores any other day than the day of the attack. Too responsible and duty-bound for her own good, it seems. So, she's been back to work since that day, essentially, and trying to lose herself in the distraction of her chores, making her Hatching robes, and what little investigation into the missing laundry she's been able to do. Trying to be inconspicuous and failing miserably, she's kept her hair down and out of that bun she normally wears, swept to the right side and covering as much of her bruising cheek there as possible. At least now it has gotten to the greying-yellowing stage and is on it's way out and not serving as a constant reminder. The cut lip is healing well, too. She's developed bruising on her upper arm, where he gripped her so hard, but thankfully that is easily hidden by her sleeve. For the moment, not comfortable wandering the weyr alone as she once was, she is trailing behind a gaggle of other candidates down one of the main halls and seeming to be heading for the Living Caverns for supper.

Over the turns, for various reasons, Max has learned to move stealthily when he is of a mind to. This evening would be one of those occasions. Dressed in worn attire of muted shades, so as not to arouse too much suspicion during his quest (faded blue trousers, a dark grey shirt and heavy hooded duffle coat in black), the beast manager waits until the main group of candidates have passed by, before stepping out of the shadows. “Ahni,” his voice pitched low, aimed at her ears only and hopefully not enough to scare the already spooked girl.

Fortunately, Ahnika was mildly distracted with thoughts of Max’s impending departure, and so when he steps from the shadows and hears his voice, she looks mildly startled, but not as much as she might have been. She smoothes that expression serene once more, looking around the hall before stepping closer to Max, seeking his warmth and strength, and smiling up into his face, “Max,” she greets, “I was heading for supper. Have you eaten? Would you be able to sit and eat with me?” One hand goes out toward his, seeking to entwine her fingers with his.

Being as how his hand had been reaching for hers at the same time, fingers are easily met and twined about hers, a glance up the hallway and then dipping his head to brush his lips against Ahnika’s. Only once Max’s head lifts again will she see the regretful smile in response to her request to dine with her. Lowheld tone conveying as much too, “I can’t, baby. I’m heading out tonight.” A gentle tug to her hand and then he’s stepping back into the shadows, hoping to take the redhead with him for a moment where prying eyes and the gossip mongers are less likely to be given any more fuel than they may already have. “I just came to say, goodbye.” And by his very tone, it’s clear to see that leaving her is not something he relishes at all.

The young woman’s thumb strokes across his hand gently as their fingers entwine as he kisses her. Ahnika returns the kiss just as softly, flushing a little because of the tenderness. She is easily tugged into the shadows with him. Any other person, she wouldn’t be doing this. Gunshy and skittish about such things even more now than she was before. But this was Max and she knew she was safe with Max, that she’d always be safe with Max. “Heading out,” she repeats softly, her smile fading, and she looks down. “I don’t want you to go, Max.” It’s not a plea. It’s not even a whine. It’s stated softly and flatly, like she is just telling him how she feels, even if she knows he already knows where she stands on this whole thing, and knows it won’t change anything. She’s just expressing her feelings. Nothing more. And here she presses into him, resting her head against his chest and shoulder and exhales, saying more softly, “I don’t want you to go. I hope you don’t find him. I just …” her voice fades away, leaving the ‘want this all to go away’ to remain unstated. It’s much easier to run from terrible memories and be able to forget them and not deal with them, after all, than have to confront them. Perhaps part of why Cheusia’s offer caused such a reaction in Ahni.

Waiting until the sounds of steps passing by fade, Max offers a small smile down to Ahnika, wrapping his arms about her as she leans her head against him, inhaling the scent of her unbound hair. Given in quiet understanding, “I know, love. I don’t want to leave you,” giving the differentiation between what he feels he must do and what he wants to do, “but I have to.” Now that his temper’s well and truly cooled from that day in the tunnels, he’s more in control of rationale than he was then, his tone however is filled with dark certainty, “I –will- find him, and he –will- stand trial for his actions. The Weyr needs to make a stand or else things are just going to keep getting worse.” How much worse it can get than defiled eggs, is anyone’s guess. But there you have it – Max logic. Pulling his shoulders away slightly and then ducking his head to try and get the redhead to lift hers and meet his eyes, “Some problems…” he states with a quick smile meant to be reassuring, “you run after, not away from them. You turn your nose to the wind and stare Thread down.” That sounding like something he might be relating having been said to him by his father at some time in the past.

Ahnika remains close against him like that as he explains he doesn’t want to leave either, and seems ready to say something, to appeal to that side of him in a last ditch effort to get him to stay. But she remains quiet as he continues, and her shoulders stiffen with each progressive statement until finally she pushes away from him and turns, running a hand through her hair. Growling softly, she swears, “I’m so fucking tired of hearing that. It’s for the good of the weyr. This is a weyr problem. No!” she says, looking over her shoulder at him a moment and then back ahead of her, staring at some point there, “It’s my problem and maybe just this once I’d like to think about what I want and need and not what would be good for the weyr. Shard it, it’s not even a problem anymore. He’s gone!” There is a throaty growl and she reaches into her hair with both hands, gripping her head as if she means to pull her own hair out or as if she has a severe headache. “We just have to warn others. We don’t have to find him and bring him back.” She shudders. Then more weakly, she says, “I don’t think I can do this, Max.” Face him again, expose the creep and be forever branded as that girl. “I don’t think I’m strong enough,” she admits tiredly.

A frown flickers into place as Ahnika pushes away from him, with Max making no move either toward her or to pull her back against him. A pained expression slips in as he drops his head and studies his boots, hands to hips in silence, and his jaw working tightly. “Ahni…” dismay in his tone as steps quickly forward of a mind to try and stay her hands in hair and then his own dropping away uselessly when he realizes the reaction that’s likely to engender. “Baby…look at me,” his ache for her pain and fear mirrored in his tone, “please?” And whether she does or not, he’ll say what he has to say anyway, “If it were just a matter of the Weyr’s honor, or sending a message or whatever the fuck else its become, I’d have let Alara send one of the ‘riders,” his tone gentling a little, “but it isn’t, its you and…” shoulders shift beneath the thick duffle coat, “I have to do this…for you.” He goes silent as another set of feet pass by and then he sighs, a hand brushing over his head in frustrated gesture, “Look at you…you’re freaked the shards out. If you don’t do this,” face the creep, “he will forever have a hold over you,” very quietly spoken now, “Is that what you want? To let him win like that?” and then with a little more heat to his lowheld words, “You’re stronger than that, Ahni. I know you are. You can do this. –We- can do this.”

Her hands are slowly lifted away from her hair and she gives a soft sigh of surrender. Reluctantly, she turns around and lifts her face to regard him, perhaps not as fast as he’d like, but she does it nonetheless. He is therefore well into his next statement when she finally faces him, and at the ‘but it isn’t, it’s you’ comment, her gaze drops away, shame filling her expression once more. And when he gets to the ‘Look at you’ statement, she flinches a bit, looking stricken, and murmuring a soft protest, “No, I’m not,” that is about as furthest from sounding convincing as one can get. Then she adds, shaking her head, “But I can forget him. I can forget the whole thing if I’m allowed … just like …” and here she stops, breath catching in her throat and she looks away, squeezing her eyes shut. Her lips purse a bit with his statement about the creep winning, and then she looks back at Max, her fists clenching, “This isn’t a race, Max, or … or some bizarre take on a Flight. No one’s winning anything here. Everyone’s lost …” the last said more softly, “something here.” She runs both hands through her hair again, looking away again, but not turning her back to him, “Go, then, if you must … as you say.” And then looks back at him, “Just …” she exhales softly, “promise me you’ll be careful, and you’ll be back, with or without him, that you’ll come back to me.” There’s a pause and she asks softly, “Keep me … forever?” Real meaning in those words, and not just for when they’ve been used before between these two. There’s a real sense of the unspoken word ‘safe’ before ‘forever’ in Ahnika’s eyes.

Expression schooled into neutral Max listens until she gets to responding to his words of winning, a pointed look breaks free and settles on the redhead, stating quietly, “No, it’s not,” a race or a flight result, “it’s the rest of your life, that you’ll carry this with you, forever looking over your shoulder unless you turn and face it.” He reaches a hand out, wanting to pull her into his arms again, but if falls back to his side, the action uncompleted, words on his lips, unspoken, to things being lost. Instead he simply nods slowly as he takes a step back, deeper into the shadows, “Forever, baby.” A wealth of meaning injected into his tone, and unless she stops him, he’ll go just as quietly as he’d arrived.

Ahnika shakes her head, mutely disagreeing, believing whole-heartedly that she can tuck this away behind her just as she has other things before, not seeing that it’s not quite the same thing. She looks down and away as he reaches that hand out to her and shifts a little uncomfortably when it falls unaccepted. It is with his last words, as he shifts deeper into the shadows, that she looks up and toward that space, “Shard it, Max, don’t you dare leave me like this,” and she’ll rush forward, closing the little bit of distance, meaning to throw herself into his arms and hopefully not trip or run into a wall or anything. “Max!” comes the desperate hushed whisper.

Just as well that he’d but taken a step back, hesitating there a moment eyes locked onto the redhead from out of the darkness before meaning to make his departure, for otherwise Ahnika may well have met the hard side of a rock wall. As it is, Max doesn’t move forward back into the lighter shadows to greet her but simply puts out a hand to catch to an elbow and steer her in close against him, wrapping her up tight in a bear hug and burrowing his head in against her hair. “Shit,” the slightly cracked oath coming for any number of reasons. The events that had unfolded and forced this most unwanted position upon them both separately and as a couple; as shield against the tight constriction in his chest; or simply relief at not leaving her on a sour note. And then pressing kisses to the side of her head and wherever else his lips might land, said with quiet ferocity, “I love you, baby. Don’t ever let go.” Of him, of them, of her spirit and fight.

Ahnika slides her arms around his waist as he guides her in properly and presses herself against him close, relishing the feeling of him that tight bear hug. “Max,” she says in a sated tone against his chest, before lifting her face more to accept and return those kisses that are more felt than seen in the darkness. Not wanting him to go, but especially not wanting him to leave with some kind of rift between them, not when for all she knows, he might not be coming back. “Never,” she responds automatically, and then murmurs against his lips, “I love you, Max. I love you.”

That last kiss deepened and then Max is pulling away, his arms moving from around her so that hands can cup her face, careful of the still bruised half his eyes seeking hers out despite the deep shadows of the side tunnel. A warm smile put down to Ahnika that holds edges of regret to his needing to leave to it and then gentler brush of lips before stating quiet promise, “I’ll be back.” Hands slide from the redhead’s face, over shoulders and lightly down her arms as he takes a step back, where fingers clasp briefly to hers and then contact is broken and he’s gone, swallowed up by the darkness.

Closing Credits Theme Music: Peter Cetera - "Glory of Love"

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