If I Can't Have You



Date: 10/18/10 (ICly after Max has spoken to Waine in Welcome Home, much later that night, with Ahnika not knowing that Max has returned to the weyr.)
Location: EW: Weyrling Barracks and Beast Cavern
Synopsis: Ahnika is unable to sleep and so seeks to purge herself of what might be preventing her from sleeping soundly, all the things Max has given her, plus a note in explanation, only to find that it is Max's 'essence' in his empty bed that finally helps her to sleep.
Rating: PG-13
Writer: Ahnika

Long after Jhath had finally dropped off to sleep, Ahnika was still tossing and turning, staring up into the empty darkness of the domed ceiling of the weyrling barracks. She had long since run out of the verbena that Healer had given her and was back to the restlessness that left her unable to truly sleep at night ever since she and Max had had that fight. Ahni had thought that if she did something about that runner thief and left Max without the option of taking him back to Bitra, that that would be the end of it. But obviously, that sense of worry for him wasn’t the only reason she couldn’t sleep. Of course, she thought as she gingerly traced a hand over the bandaged arm and then down her chest, it was hard to get comfortable considering every time she moved it stung again. She could only apply so much numbweed.

The only thing she could truly be grateful for about the whole matter was that it was over, and that whatever this feeling of unfinished business was that kept her awake wasn’t keeping Jhath awake, too, not too badly anyway. Ahnika sighed softly and sat up, swinging her legs over the edge of the bed and leaning back on her hands as she regarded her slumbering green. Jhath worried about her, Ahni could tell, but no matter how long it took Ahnika to finally get to sleep, Jhath usually was able to fall asleep sooner rather than later. Guilt settled in about her shoulders, how close she had come to really getting hurt, and how it upset Jhath, particularly since the big girl couldn’t actually get in to defend her. Ahni sighed softly and rubbed the back of her neck. This had been too close. Yes, it was for a good reason, but she wasn’t just risking her own neck now. She should have been more careful. If something had happened to her … Jhath would …

Ahnika didn’t even want to finish that line of thinking. She frowned and rubbed her hand down her face.

Of course, everything would have been fine if she could have just knocked Waine out with the fellis in the beginning, she reasoned. Then he wouldn’t have tried to prevent Jinnet from escaping and Ahnika wouldn’t have been hurt. “Stupid Healer,” Ahni muttered to herself.

If it wasn’t worry over Max, who might be pissed off at her but who now would not have a reason to go to Bitra, despite M’zen’s thoughts that he might still go, and if it wasn’t worry from Jhath who was slumbering in peace, then why in the world couldn’t she sleep? Ahnika ran a hand over her head, her hair pulled loosely back into that single braid she keeps at night. The braided bracelet of runner hair that Max had given her brushed the side of her face; even though she felt certain they were no longer together, a couple, she still couldn’t bring herself to get rid of it.

Ahnika took a deep, slow breath and exhaled. Even before the events of last night, she felt sure that he’d never be able to treat her as a partner in their relationship. They were over. But now she had crossed a line with Max, and she was even more certain that it was the point of no return. Indira’s words and then M’zen’s joining surfaced to her thoughts, words entreating Ahni to give Max time, to give him a chance. Gingerly, she fingered the bracelet in her lap, studying it in the near darkness and sighed again, missing him, wishing she could explain, but knowing somehow that with that crossed line he’d never trust her again, even if she had only been doing it to save him. It was really over now. She’d lost him forever …

It was no wonder the young woman couldn’t sleep.

That had to be it. She’d never get over him or get past this and get some sleep if she still had things that only served to remind her of him. That was the problem with dwelling on the past, Ahnika reminded herself. You can’t change what’s already happened and it did no good to think about it. He’ll never respect her, she thought; he’ll never see her as an equal adult partner in this relationship. He’ll never take her seriously. He wasn’t letting her in before; he’s certainly never going to trust her now, not after this. Ahnika pursed her lips into a thin line. He’ll never let her truly be a part of his life or let her help him. She had to move on. It was the only thing she had left to do. She had to let go, as she was sure he had done, and move on. Her heart twisted a little in onto itself for it, but she knew in her head this was the best, most practical and rational thing for all involved.

Her jaw set with determination, Ahnika stood and carefully changed out of her nightshift and grabbed a tunic and pair of breeches from her press and then rummaged around for the knife and runner shoe he had given her. She considered the damage that she and Jhath did to his beast caverns and grabbed up her marks-purse made heavier with the marks made from selling her gather gown, funds she hadn’t used for the fellis as she had intended. Even if she couldn’t repair the trust she was certain she’d lost, she could at least give over all her marks to help pay for physical repairs. She started off and then stopped and looked back at the book that rested on the floor next to her bed. Jhath did love that Harper’s tale that he had gotten her. Licking her lips and hesitating, she considered leaving it. Then she thought of what Max would think if she returned all of his things except that one. Bah! Ahnika had read it enough times she could probably tell it to Jhath in her sleep. Besides, it was time she got Jhath a new story anyway, right? Time to move on and never look back. She picked it up and walked carefully out of the barracks and followed the all-too-familiar route to the Beast Cavern, keeping her eye out for trouble, considering everything the weyr had been experiencing lately.

When Ahnika arrived, she carefully entered the stall that also served as Max’s office and sleeping quarters. She knew he was still gone up north, but she didn’t feel like having to explain herself to any of Max’s men. She wouldn’t be long at all, she told herself. Just long enough to set the items on his desk and slip back out again and that would be that. It’d be the end. Official and clean.

Ahnika inhaled determination with the thought, and exhaled uncertainty. The unmistakable musky scent of Max hard-at-work was so prevalent here. Frowning a little, she looked around the stall in the darkness, seeing only shadows of what she knew made up his home here. She made for the desk and set the book, knife, runner shoe, braided bracelet, and marks-purse down on top of it in a neat little pile. Staring at it, she took another deep breath and closed her eyes. Maybe if she just allowed herself to stay here a moment, just a moment, it’d help her make the necessary break. It’d help her have that closure.

Pulling out the chair, Ahnika sat down on it slowly, letting her hands play a little on the surface of the desk, remembering that night she had found him in here so beaten up and the first aid kit spread out so messily on the desk. The weyrling sighed softly, then closed her eyes, remembering the feel of him under her hands that night and the feel of his lips, the look of regret and self-loathing in his dark eyes.

She inhaled again, through her nose, and exhaled out her mouth, remembering that first kiss with a couple of kittens in her lap, his gentle approach, the laughter in his throat. Ahnika put a hand to her forehead, remembering the knot she had gotten when she ran into the table, how he had come to see her in the infirmary, worried about her, getting angry when she said she was through trying to force him to her expectations of a man, a faithful boyfriend, and letting him go. She thought of how he didn’t give up though, how instead he had made her that sharding runner shoe. She reopened her eyes, sliding a glance over to the heavy thing on the pile of other gifts he had given her. Her heart ached. “Max …” Ahnika croaked in a whisper over the dry lump forming in her throat, “oh … Max. Sharditall.” Trying not to let her memories shake her resolve, she looked around his desk for stylus and paper, and upon finding them, she began to write out a note to Max. Unfortunately, she couldn’t stop her hand from shaking as she wrote, and so it took longer to write out the missive, one that started out with her intending on keeping it brief but ended up with it going onto a second and then third page, and by the end of it she made a little disgusted sound at herself and set the stylus down, flexing her hand a little to stay any cramping there.

Ahni then pulled open a drawer and not finding the whiskey there, she tried another. Aha! There it was! She needed just a nip, just one little nip. Jhath was asleep and it’s not like Ahnika was about to get drunk. She just needed a little something to help her resolve, that’s all. Uncorking the bottle, she paused to run her gaze over the little note:


There’s so much to say and I’m not sure you’d really want to hear it anyway. I can’t say I blame you. I imagine it looks like I betrayed your trust, as I’m sure Waine must feel, too, even though what I did I felt like I had to do to save you. I’d rather have you mad at me but alive and hale than learn of your death in Bitra and knowing I could have done something to keep it from happening. Losing your trust in me and your love for me is worth it if it means you’ll be alive, even if you’re only alive and hating me.

Regardless of what you think of me or my “carrot” plans, I seem to have won Net’s trust enough to get what I think might prove useful information. Apparently, Net’s gang is here for Jaya, whose real name, he said, was Bajaya Dicori. I suspect you know this already since Net indicated you did. Net told me I would be well-rewarded if I smuggled Jaya to Bitra, to a man named Vaput, and his people would take Jaya off my hands. I led Net to believe that I would do my best to do this for him, and he and I could meet up there, as Net stated were his intentions of returning to Bitra as soon as he could. In fact, there were a couple of times Net said he had no intentions of staying here at the weyr once he got free. Net told me that if things went wrong to contact a man named Passan, who may or may not be his handler you are seeking, and who can be reached through the farmers here, one farmer in particular, and to say ‘Net sent me’. He also gave me a code phrase, though I’m not sure if it is considered compromised now and of any use, and of course I don’t know the counter-phrase for it anyway. He said, ‘the red fruit isn’t going to be harvested until the sun rises.’ It’s a code. Hopefully it will prove useful to you somehow.

He gave me other names, people he was guessing at who I might ‘work for’: Kelarad in Tillek, Timekis in Boll, and Borrento. I told him I worked for Timekis and he seemed to believe me, I think, though I did say that I’d never met the man personally and there was a middle-man, at least one, between us. I gave him my name as Pheenie, and he may or may not know about Jhath being mine. She came at the end, breaking down your fence to try and get to me when - well, in any case, for that I am sorry and I’m leaving all my marks for you to help reimburse you for repairs and buy Waine another bottle of whatever is his preference for all his trouble. Don’t be too cross with him, Max. Even though you and he knew what I was intending because of Jaya finding out from that Healer, he still gave me a chance to see my plan through at least to the point when I let Net out. Had I been able to use the fellis that I sold my gather dress for, none of this would have happened the way it did, and Jhath and I could have tracked Net to their hideout. I tried convincing him to pretend take me hostage instead, believing that Waine and Jhath could track us back to their hideout together and still no one would get hurt, but Net just wanted to make a break for it, and with Waine conscious, well, I had to improvise to try and keep anyone from getting hurt. Well, hurt worse.

With any luck, all the repairs will be finished before you get back, but I’ve little doubt that you’ll hear about everything from Waine, so my marks are yours for reimbursement. Maybe one day you’ll come to trust and believe in me enough for us to start over again, as friends perhaps, but I can respect you not wanting anything to do with me now and as long as you are safe and out of the Bitran’s hands, I can live with that. I may not like it, but it’s better than the alternative and I can live with it. With that in mind, I’m returning everything to you. Do with them what you will. I can’t keep them if I don’t have you anymore.

I love you. I always will.


Ahnika didn’t even bother with a glass and tilted back to down her very first-ever draught of whiskey. As soon as the hard stuff hit the back of her throat and burned a slow path down her gullet she nearly gagged, losing her grip on the bottle a moment and fumbling hand-to-hand with it down her tunic as she tried to catch it, coughing and sputtering and trying to get breath rightly back in her lungs. The chair tilted back and the redhead squeaked as she tumbled backwards, getting whiskey and dirt all over herself. So much for her bath earlier. She managed to get the whiskey bottle sat up straight on the floor before any more of it could be spilled and sighed, wiping her mouth with the back of her uninjured arm. She rested there a moment before rolling away amidst a stinging arm and chest and hitting her knee on Max’s press, “Oof. Ow.” She groaned a little as she rubbed her knee, mentally taking stock of Jhath who was still, fortunately, fast asleep. And this was all while still sober!

From there, Ahnika climbed into the nearby mattress, trying not to enjoy the scent of Max so close and so fresh. She got out of her whiskey-soaked and smelling clothes and dug around in Max’s press for one of his shirts, finding a nice long one that would end about mid-thigh on her. She put that on instead, trying to ignore the fluttery feeling she felt when she did, and got up to string that line across the stall that previously was used to cut off the section of sleeping area from office area. This time, instead of throwing a blanket over it, she rubbed her whiskey-doused clothes into the stall floor to try and get more of a stable-smell to cover the whiskey-smell, and proceeded to hang them over the line for drying. She undid her braid and shook some of the dirt from her hair. At least she could hunker out here the rest of the night and let them dry before reporting to the barracks at dawn when Jhath woke up and Ahnika wouldn’t be smelling so much of whiskey. Max won’t be back for at least another day or two, she figured, and having been Max’s woman as she had been (sniffle), Ahnika knew that the Beast Caverns was probably one of the safest places in the weyr for her. Max’s guys wouldn’t let anything happen to her - well as much as they could protect her from everything but herself.

Feeling secure in her decision, safety, and plans, Ahnika settled back onto Max’s mattress that held his scent, resting her head on his pillow, that held his scent, under the sheet, that held his scent, and wearing his shirt that, while clean, still held some of his scent. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was the fastest she had gotten to sleep without medicinal aid in nearly a seven, completely forgetting the items left on his desk, the turned-over chair, and the opened whiskey bottle on the ground next to it, and not caring how the clothes drying on the line above her might look to one of Max’s stablemen in the first light of the morning.

Closing Credits Theme Music: Joss Stone - "What Were We Thinkin'"

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