Instincts

Participants:

Ahnika.jpg Jaya.jpg

Date: 9/26/10
Location: EW: Kitchens
Synopsis: Jaya is having a late night meal in the kitchens when Ahnika arrives for pie-making and the two get reacquainted after not seeing one another since the hatching.
Rating: PG-13 - Language
Logger: Ahnika

Eastern Weyr: Kitchen

A typical Weyr kitchen, this room contains a small section for immediate storage, large stoves, pans and containers of immense size, and continuous activity. The cooks and Bakers claim their domain, utilizing almost every bit of space in this smallish kitchen. Hooks for cutlery and pans stick out of the walls, and the gleaming polished countertops usually boast plates and platters full of various kinds of food.


It's late evening. The recent events involving Jaya's life has frayed long taut nerves on the woman, so the living caverns have been seeing less and less of her since. Which is, really, nothing new if you knew her routine. What is definitely routine is her taking her meal in the kitchen after it's closed, the bar owner setting at a table with a bowl of something that has gone cold. Food seems to not be on her mind this night, for there's an open map laid out on the table before her that seems to have her full attention. Shoulders are stiff from little movement since she's been there, and her pale yellow backpack is open and by her side under the table. It's a strange scene to walk in on, when no one's seen her with a backpack in months, but those that happen to pass the kitchen work to make no notice.

“Ellie,” Ahni’s voice can be heard on approach before she even arrives to the kitchens, “Anything I can help with while—“ and her voice trails off as she enters, not finding one of the particular night cooks she expected to find on-duty. The green weyrling gives the large kitchen cavern a thorough once over with her grey eyes, and then Ahnika settles that gaze on Jaya instead, “Oh, hello Jaya,” she says smoothly before going back to examining the kitchens for any pots that have been left to simmer that might need stirring or something that needs to be pulled out of an oven somewhere before it burns. Only once she’s satisfied there’s apparently nothing that is going to boil over or burn that she needs to attend to, does she continue her trek to the baking station, apparently intending to do something of the sort while she is here. “How have you been?” She asks the bar owner. It’s only been, what, two and a half months since the redheaded teen has seen her?

When Jaya hears the call of a name, she looks up from her map study and finds the familiar face of Ahnika. It has indeed been a couple of months, the scarred faced woman taking in the weyrling with her gaze as she pauses on any physical changes that could be seen. Finally meeting her eyes then, "They all cleared out awhile ago," she answers huskily, voice a bit hollow as she sits her back against the chair and finally takes up her cold meal. "Ahni, have you been well? Jhath?" Odd, really, that she should remember the dragonet's name, but perhaps it was due to her having a hankering to know about those certain people in her life that have had some sort of significance to her. She then sweeps her gaze over the pots, taking a moment before answering Ahnika's own question to her. "Been better," she drops low, soberly, bringing her attention back on the map. "Good to see you, though. I've been…meaning to come by and check up on you, but…." Didn't have the time? Or maybe she wasn't sure if she could fully face the girl after the whole Phinneus thing started on her watch.

The few months of candidacy and weyrlinghood physical training have been to the redhead, who has added some muscle tone to that willowy height, though considering her choice of loose-fitting clothing, it might be hard to tell save in the way she carries herself. Settling in at the ‘pie station’, Ahni pulls out a clean mixing bowl and sets about adding flour and eggs and water and such in order to begin making the crust, but she knows her way about the kitchen and can certainly talks while she works, shooting Jaya a simple and friendly smile with nothing significant about it, neither too polite nor overly gushy, casual but genuine. “As well as can be with our big mouths and short tempers,” Ahni says, including Jhath in that assessment, though not terribly derisive or apologetic about it. “Been better?” The weyrling pauses in beating some eggs to give Jaya a considering look, “Do tell,” before going back to that mixing bowl, and adding with a chuckle, “Would have been hard to come by and find me up until today. Been serving out extra physical training exercises in penance.”

Ahnika's smile could be like the oasis in the desert, for when Jaya looks up at it her features just can't help but to warm up at it. Passing a look over the young woman, "Causing trouble already, shuga?" she muses faintly on that, this topic on weyrling antics getting her interest as she sets the bowl back down. "Didn't think you were the sort. But then, you /are/ one of the few that has managed to stand up to me, hm?" There's no rancor there about that time in her bar, the woman finding the whole thing more amusing than anything else. When she probes for an explanation, though, Jaya's eyes drop to the activity Ahnika is doing and some of that warmth slips from her face. The map getting a look, "Long story," she puts forth gruffly then. "It'll smooth over just fine, though. Looking for a plan."

“Quite the contrary,” Ahnika breezily states as her arm works the mixture in the bowl while her free hand adds in the sugar, and Ahni seems disinclined to explain what she is making, but she is definitely on a path to something specific as opposed to just trying to meander or mosey and find something to do. “We’re righting the trouble,” or so Ahni and Jhath believe. More vigorous stirring before she gives the mixture a little taste with one finger and adds a little more sugar before shooting Jaya a small rueful grin over the standing up to her comment, then shrugs, choosing not to add to it for whatever reason. “Plans are good for smoothing,” she agrees wholeheartedly, “been working on one or two of them myself. Anything I can help with?” Asked as she adds a little more flour and steps up with the mixing, slightly stilted in her words as she adds, “Jhath is good at planning too. In fact, I think she’s better at it in some ways than I am. Very …” she pauses looking at the ceiling, “um, tactical … for a dragon. If that makes sense.” And militant and justice-seeking, too, though those things don’t always help with planning.

"Righting trouble?" Jaya echoes that one, a brow lifting in explanation to it. "Had some friends that called what they were doing as 'righting trouble', too," she adds, letting just a bit of amusement in now. As for plans, well, her lips thin together as she carefully figures out what to say. The only thing that seems to come to mind at this point was, "You got any reccommendations on someone that I could leave the bar to? Temporarily, perhaps?" she is quick to tack, though it's a loaded question either way. Not that she was leaving anytime soon, thanks to a certain gardener. "Just to cover my bases. Just in case." Is she trying to convince Ahnika or herself? And then, she turns to the map and starts to fold it back up. "You've gotten used to having her in your head by now?" she asks as she does so, sending the weyrling a speculative look.

“Righting trouble,” Ahnika nods as she states matter-of-factly as she goes back to adding more flour and beating and folding the thickening mixture, and either choosing to ignore any teasing tone or simply oblivious to it until a heartbeat later she looks thoughtfully at the ceiling, “Well, okay, ‘righting potential trouble’.” Another smile is cast in Jaya’s direction, but it is brief as, well, she has some pie crust to make. To Jaya’s initial question, however, Ahni actually stops what she’s doing and looks at her, looking rather thrilled, of all things, “Oh! Yes,” because prior to her Impressing, this sort of thing was right up the blossoming Junior Headwoman’s alley, really. “Well, aside from me,” and she actually doesn’t sound like she’s joking there, “which could get tricky with weyrlinghood, even if I promise not to drink …” her voice trails off and her grey eyes settle on the mixture in the bowl, deep in thought, “Indira would be a good choice, too, but she’s really busy more than likely, unless she’s picked up some other Junior Headwomen who are helping her more.” After that, she starts rattling off names, some or perhaps even many Jaya has likely not met, “Asura if she’s still around might be good for it, and Feilla, and Turifenagen, though he might drink some of your stock while doing it, but the man does know his booze. Oh … well, there’s Max, I mean, he’s busy with the beast caverns, of course, but he found someone to take care of them for that … hunting trip,” the one where he hunted down Phineus, that is. Ahni’s voice trails off a moment with a frown and she blinks some thought away before continuing, “So, he might be able to, you know, get someone to take over for him so he can take over for you. Or something.” Then another blink, “Cover your bases in case what? You’re not sick are you?” The redhead frowns again and gives Jaya a speculative look of her own, answering slowly, “Jhath and I are so ‘together’ I think I was used to her in my head after the first seven.” Which is pretty much true, though it took her a little getting used to remembering she didn’t have to speak aloud in order for the dragon to ‘hear’ her. “Now I can’t imagine how I ever got on without her there, really, or …” or ever imagine herself without Jhath in her head in the future. The terrible thought stills her a moment and, not liking it at all, she goes back to the doughy mixture in the bowl.

Jaya settles more comfortably as Ahnika speaks, the weyrling always managing to keep the woman calm. For the most part, anyway. "Potential trouble," she echoes that one, allowing herself to send a crooked smile her way as she drops the folded map into her waiting backpack. "That's-" but then she pauses when Ahni starts to rattle off names of those that could watch the bar, the bar owner blinking at her enthusiasm. She's nodding through the names, keeping her opinion of them to herself until Max's shows up. "No," she drops on his name coolly, the word coming out before she could stop it. "No," she repeats with less intensity then, "He's busy. Don't want to get him involved. Not if we don't have to. Suli would have a fit, anyway." She wasn't sure if Ahnika knew about the animosity between the beast manager and the barmaid, but she was putting it out there anyway. "I wouldn't saddle you when you got your own duties," she continues on, backtracking on the names given. "Maybe Feilla. I know her. Asura if she's around still. Would ask Suli myself, but, I reckon she would come with me." She pauses then at the question given, sending Ahni a small tired smile before shaking her head and answering. "Sick, as in, crazy maybe," she drawls that out wryly, letting some amusement filter through before fading. "Just…in case. Got some trouble on my heels and need to be practical about it." It's the farthest she's gone in admitting there was trouble at all, and the woman is momentarily uncomfortable by it. "Nothing to worry about, shuga," she tacks on, schooling her features to something more confident. Might not be anything at all." Right. Hearing about how Jhath was in her head made the bar owner smile a bit at her. She draws her bowl to herself then, "I can see a difference in you," she finally notes, the woman pleased by it. "Confident. Jhath's doing you a lot of good. Didn't realize dragons had that sort of effect on a person." It was definitely something she will muse on in her private quarters as well.

Ahnika is quiet a long time while Jaya speaks, though she does appear to be listening at least, by virtue of her nodding at different intervals. Her visual attention is primarily on the mixing bowl, however, which she has now started to knead the sugary dough within. “She’ll never abandon me,” Ahnika blurts to the last comment about Jhath first, and it is so sudden and quickly said and almost stream-of-conscious that the redhead actually blushes a little for voicing the thought aloud and perhaps showing some sign to some weakness within her. Clearing her throat and getting her thoughts back on track, Ahnika, “Thank you. She has.” Pause, “Done me a lot of good that is.” Then a smile, soft and expressing fondness for her oversized green. To the comment about dragons having that affect on humans, Ahni doesn’t respond, mostly because she’s not sure that’s the case a hundred percent of the time, considering some of the dragonpairs she’s met since being a weyrling, including some of the weyrlings, but she wisely doesn’t point anyone out, and moving on with a brief nod, “Max would probably prefer not to, anyway, himself, come to think of it. But he’d be a good one, as far as knowing how to run a bar, I’d think.” He definitely knew his booze and how to brawl and probably how to gamble, though Ahni’s never seen him. “You’re not crazy, Jaya,” Ahni states next, seeming quite confident of the fact, and then adding, “We all have our … problems though.” There’s another nod, “Trouble on your heels would be one thing needing to be practical about … though if you think it’s going to mean forcing you out of here, I’d talk to the weyrwomen about it. They might be able to help.” A little shrug comes then as Ahni continues to work the little bit of sugary dough in the bowl.

It's that blurted out comment that gets Jaya's attention more than the rest, the woman sending Ahnika a long studying look for it. Watching her blush, "Of course she won't," she is ready to agree, frowning slightly as she regards the other for it. Perhaps because the statement is so odd, "I understand. About that, Ahni." It's genuinely given, and it's a slight opening to talk on that matter even though she doesn't follow it up with anything else. She nods awkwardly on Max, her voice locking up along with a frown at her bowl until her next words cause her to look up abruptly. "Ahh, I'm good enough with Randi at least letting me run a bar here," she says on getting the Weyrwomen involved in her trouble, her eyes a little wide at the weyrling. "And…it'll be alright, Ahni. I'm not going anywhere for now. Who else is going to stop all the fights that seem to happen on my watch?" Brow lifts at that, the woman trying on a joke for size.

To the statement of her understanding, Ahnika merely nods, looking uncomfortable and not seeming to ready to say anything more on the topic to Jaya. Then another nod for Jaya and her relationship to Randi, and the third nod starts to come with the latter statement but is then stopped midway as Ahni looks up from the bowl and blinks a little at Jaya, “Fights? Who’s been having fights? Did something happen to Suli?” Which might be an odd question to ask, except that Jaya did ask ‘who else’ and Suli was the first person Ahni thought of because, let’s face it, the woman is an effective bouncer, big as she is, when she’s not off buying runners that is.

"Just some….ruffians messing up my bar the other night," Jaya is weary in explaining, flapping a hand at her as she finally sets her bowl of untouched food aside for good. "Stepped out for just a bit. Came back and found Suli with her hands full. Don't know the two, really," and she fixes Ahni with a look. "Other than the fact that one thinks pretty words and a smile will get me to fuck him, while the other at least had the decency to drop me some payment for the damages. Suli's fine, by the way." When wasn't the towering woman, really? "Got at least a table, some chairs and a few glasses that need replacing," she adds, mentally tallying up she saw of the damages. "Guess I'll have to go to Indira about it, since that's her thing."

Ahnika frowns thoughtfully but nods, going back to making her pie, now putting half the soft crust in a lightly greased pie tin and starting to flatten against the sides and bottom. “Fools,” Ahnika comments of the ruffians, “Just going to end up banned from your bar if they don’t watch themselves,” pause with a glance for Jaya, “if they aren’t banned already.” Then she goes back to the pie crust dusting the interior in the tin with a little bit of sugar for extra measure as she adds, “Glad to hear Suli’s doing well. I like her.” Which is such an irony considering Max doesn’t, but then, Ahni is her own person if nothing else. There are times she wants to grab Zen by the ear and twist, and Max seems to like him just fine even when the man asks permission for his dragon to chase Ahni’s, so … yeah. Irony. “Next time I get the chance to make more sweetcakes, I’ll bring them by for her. Did she like the last batch I brought?” Which was likely more than two months ago now. Without waiting on an answer, though, Ahni, the would-be junior headwoman adds, “You can go direct to a trader if you know one who deals in that sort of thing, of course, but a lot of times Indira can get you some better deals, you know, because she buys more in bulk, or has established connections with someone who gives the weyr a discount.” Of course, more than likely Jaya knows all this already, but Ahni thinks she’s being helpful, and Ahni is not Ahni if she’s not trying to be helpful, even unsolicited. Which only adds an additional layer of how much Jhath and Ahni are really alike considering the last time Jhath thought she was being helpful with the weyrlingmaster, it landed Ahni with extra PT.

"Haven't banned them," Jaya answers that pointed look from Ahnika, but there's a heavy 'yet' there that's unspoken. "One of them /did/ pay me, though. Didn't get his name. Happens a second time though…" Yeah. No amount of marks was going to get the bar owner to play nice a second time around. At hearing that Ahni liked the Telgari barmaid, brows lift slightly and the bar owner's leaning forward a little to say, "Then perhaps you can convince the same to that beast manager of yours? He seems to think the woman trouble." She doesn't go into details, but it's obvious that Suli is a touchy subject between the two of them. "She did like the sweetcakes, by the way. Didn't want to tell me flat-out, but I think you made her day." Jaya shows a lopsided grin at that with an incline of her head. She's silent when Ahnika delivers useful information on where to get replacements, the woman giving her a considerable glance. "Would have some help there if I had stayed with my family," she admits, nodding to Ahnika there. "Dicoris don't trade much in furniture, but knowning my da, he could get anything. Something like this he would have jumped on, too." There's faint wistfulness here, but Jaya looks away and dampens it. "Thanks, Ahni," she says then. "Think I might talk to Indira after all. She'll be able to get the discount faster than I could."

Nodding a little at the news about not banning the men yet, and that one of them even paid her something already, Ahnika moves to the section of shelving that houses the oversized jars of sliced fruits and jellies, selecting the berry mixture she knows Max favors, and hauling it down without needing the stool that sits nearby. She pauses though and draws to a stop as Jaya leans forward and appeals to Ahni to help convince Max that Suli isn’t so bad, “Huh.” She says softly in odd response, “Well, he …” takes some warming up to? No, not quite. Zen didn’t take much time to get in Max’s good graces. And Ahni is reluctant to say that Max misjudges people or trouble all the time, considering how she thought Phineus was a little weird, but not trouble, while Max was extremely wary, and so in a moment of unusual uncertainty, she says, simply, “Pay his instincts some heed in this. I mean, I like Suli. I do. She’s … direct.” Or so Ahni thinks, “But if there’s something that isn’t sitting right about her with Max, you know, you might want to look into it. It might be, I dunno, she’s skimming off the top somewhere,” Ahni frowns, “I hope not. But what I mean is that it may not be anything serious, but Max’s instincts was right about … someone looking to hurt me and I dismissed them because it just didn’t make sense and it turned out true and … well, I got lucky, real lucky, is all I can say.” Ahnika frowns a little more at the memory of Phineus, but not the traumatized victim sort of frown that one might expect, more the kicking-herself for not being smarter sort of frown. She gets back to work, spooning out thick syrupy berry goodness into the pine tin. Then she smiles, but it’s not as big or eager as if she hadn’t heard that Max felt something was troublesome about Suli, “I’m glad she liked the sweetcakes. I’ll bring by some more soon. It’s getting a little easier to leave Jhath now for a little while. Not always having to wait until she’s asleep.” Though to be sure Ahni is still so full on weyrling lessons and exercise and practicing that her time is limited in other ways. “Dicoris,” Ahni repeats as Jaya says it, and nods thoughtfully, “Well, I imagine that would have been helpful, but … Indira is a good resource, too.” And she shoots Jaya a grin as she spreads out the berry mixture in the pie tin. Nodding, “She’ll do right by you.” Of course, Ahni is biased, and not just because of Max being her son. She idolized Indira and her mad-headwomany skills back before they even arrived at the weyr.

"I know about Phineus," Jaya relates it when Ahnika brings it up, grimacing at the memory. "Sorry it happened at all, Ahni. I didn't…don't really know what kind of men come up in there, you know?" She's a bit guilty that it started in her bar, started in the fact that she was helping the redhead banter with the men, which, clearly caused later trouble. And then, she's not happy to think about Suli in that light, but now she has Ahni agreeing with Max and it has the bar owner frowning. "She's…protecting me," she confides that to Ahnika then in the pause, the frown not abating. "She doesn't like Max, so, I know she's been making things difficult with him. Tried to get her to stop, but, you know Suli," and she passes the weyrling a knowing look. "But…I am. Looking into it. Don't like it, but if there's any chance…" she shakes her head to that, giving into a heavy sigh. On the account of the Headwoman, the bar owner nods to her firmly and adds, "I will see her then. Been awhile since I have, anyway. Pretty late for a pie, eh?" She finally addresses what Ahnika is making, her chin gesturing towards the mixture with a lift of one brow.

“Sorry?” Ahnika asks first, appearing confused as Jaya mentions Phineus and apologizes for him, and a moment later Ahnika in her own resilient way shakes her head and gives a dismissive wave, “Don’t be. No one’s fault but his own.” And here she pauses a moment as for the first time in a long time she realizes she’s not actually thinking of herself as being at fault in that whole fiasco, too. Her shoulders straighten a little more and while she doesn’t actually smile for the fact, there does seem to appear something “lighter” about her carriage. “No one’s fault but his own,” she repeats, punctuating it with a little nod while she sprinkles a little more sugar on top of the berry mixture in the confines of that pie tin. She nods a little about Suli protecting Jaya, not that Ahni knows the whole situation, but Suli is more or less a bouncer as well as a barmaid, so the redhead reads that as protection going hand-in-hand with it. “It might not be anything really serious, like I said. Maybe she’s doing a little filching or something that’s not really going to get anyone hurt, not physically, and maybe she will still protect you as she is, but yeah, Max has good instincts,” she nods as she says this, and interestingly enough, she doesn’t seem to think ill of Suli in such a scenario. Perhaps she’s just been hanging out with too many from that side of the tracks lately to really judge them harshly. Another nod for the comment about paying the headwoman a visit but anything she was about to say to it is forestalled by a rueful grin and a glance at Jaya, “Max likes bubbly pies.” No real need to keep it a secret, in her mind, not from Jaya anyway. “I’m trying to make him one a seven, you know, to make up for the fact that we can’t … be with each other right now … but I got off track when issued that penance.” She eyes the jar of berry mixture, “Hmm. Maybe I should make him two tonight to make up for it.”

Since Ahnika seems to be at peace with it, Jaya gives one of those awkward little nods and lets it go. As for Suli, she's quiet at first, studying the redhead with unreadable eyes before she finally gives into a more confident nod. "It's hard to compromise with him," she admits on Max with difficulty, alluding to their recent encouner at the bar. "Frustrating. But I get it." On Suli, anyway. She may have to elicit help from Rio, after all. When Ahni mentions Max liking bubbly pies, the woman snorts and shakes her head. "Not surprised," she says to that, letting a smile form. "Good compromise, though. He's been coping with ….pie? And penance?" That gets her attention, her eyes on Ahnika as she regards the other for her response.

Ahnika offers Jaya a rarely seen commiserating look, “Frustrating isn’t the half of it. That man …” then she laughs, “I guess I’m more like him than I thought, loving a challenge as much as he does.” Not really complaining about him or finding fault in him for any frustrations, or if she does, it is only to love him all the more because he is so fallible at times. So she is pinching on the top layer of pie crust when Jaya asks about the coping and the penance, “Well, and we write each other letters. Makes it a little easier,” which probably would have Max sighing at Ahni if he knew she was saying so much to Jaya, but Ahni trusts until someone proves themselves untrustworthy to her, which is probably not always a good thing. “Penance,” Ahni nods, “The one where I got issued extra work,” physical training and the like, “For mouthing off to one of the weyrlingmasters.” She doesn’t seem all that remorseful, though.

Jaya grins in understanding to that commiserating look, shaking her head as she readily agrees. "Reckon you both do each other a world of good," she notes, the woman bending to grab at a backpack strap to pull it up from the ground. "Nice to see that. Something tells me from the last time I talked to him, his past isn't that too far from my own." She blinks when she hears about the letters, but the smile is back in place from being taken aback. "Never saw him as the romantic type," she admits wryly, snorting. "Who'd have thought it. Perhaps I'll find something like that, one day." Perhaps. Or maybe she's been drinking her own booze to he revealing this to the green weyrling? Well, it's obvious, realizing that she has said more than she meant. Perhaps she's been craving girl talk lately as distraction. At the last, "Did he deserve it?" The weyrlingmaster. Then the bar owner's shaking her head and adding, "Better you than me, shuga. I don't think I could handle having one of them barking orders at me all day. Only so much I can take before I snap." So much as in, by the first barked order rather than the last.

Chuckling softly, Ahnika nods, “That or we’ll do each other in. Whichever comes first.” But she seems to be joking. “Thank you.” She nods slowly to the comment about Max’s past, and the mirthful look fades, but doesn’t go to a complete frown. Just pensive. And then she shakes her head a little and gets ready to put the pie in the oven, stoking the fire if she needs to. “Well, they aren’t love letters so much as just … keeping each other up to date with what’s happening around us. So, no, not really gushy,” pause, “Most times.” So maybe there is some gushy. A little. Then she nods, pulling her head out of the oven and straightening, “I would be surprised if you didn’t, Jaya.” Find someone like that that is. Then she pauses, looking thoughtful, “He … deserved a talking to. He was being ridiculous. But,” she hesitates and adds, “Probably didn’t deserve me calling him a twit specifically.” Seeing Jaya starting to gather her things and leave, Ahni offers her a nod and picks up the pie tin, “You take care, Jaya. Be well, yes?” She smiles.

"I doubt it, somehow," Jaya is quick to answer on the two doing each other in, regarding Ahnika with steadily as she works. "And…thanks, shuga." Given to her finding someone - granted, if she survives that long. Still, she's finally getting out of her seat and giving into a long, languid stretch. It was getting late, and while she didn't eat, the weyrling had given her much to think about in its stead. "Everyone deserves to get called a twit at least once," she drawls on the weyrlingmaster, sending a fond smile over Ahnika's way that is genuine. "If he deserved it, then he'll think twice next time in messing with you. One would hope, anyway." Backpack gets shouldered and the scarred woman's noddding a farewell as she tosses the bowl she had into the sink. "Don't stay up too late," she tells the redhead, looking her face over as she's close to her. "And…it was really good talking to you. Miss it. see you around, shuga." And the bar owner will incline her head before leaving, leaving a smile in her wake.


Closing Credits Theme Song: Alicia Keys - "Thing About Love"


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