Lend Me Your Ear

Participants:

Ahnika.jpg Max.jpg

Date: 7/27/10 (IC: The evening Ahnika is released from the Infirmary, approximately 2 IC days after Ruined
Location: Just outside the Infirmary
Synopsis: Max comes to check on Ahni, or get the story straight, and the pair continue their odd dance.
Rating: PG-13-ish - Language and some adult content
Logger: Ahnika

Still bandaged, though it is a smaller bandage than she had been wearing the last couple of days, the bruised knot and swelling on Ahnika's head has diminished appropriately under the wise TLC of the weyr Healers, now a vague yellow-purple tone and wee bump. Ahnika has also gotten more sleep during her stay and so the shadows that had frequented her eyes previous to the accident are also lessened. And so it is with much relief and gladness, Ahnika is released from the Infirmary and allowed to go back to duty as long as she reports back for a follow-up check-up in a few days. With a soft smile in farewell, and looking a little better if perhaps in need of a long hot soak in the baths, Ahnika steps out from the entrance to the Infirmary, conveyed this time on her own two feet, and she starts to meander away down the path along the bowl.

Foot traffic in and out the tunnel, while not high at this time of night; will have the boot steps of another on approach, blending in quite well. Hat in hand, and head down, Max is not quite as observant as he might usually be, in deep contemplation as he happens to be at the moment. Thus, the chances are good, that if Ahnika doesn't step out of the way in time, he's likely to be set on a collision course with the recently discharged.

Ahnika does, in fact, have her head held up and watching ahead of her as she walks, occasionally touching some outward jut from the stone wall. This could be an indication that she may still be suffering some bouts of dizziness and off-balance, or it could just be habit. In either case, she sees the man’s approach, his hat in hand, and obviously well before he does. She draws to a slow stop and swallows, but waits until he is within hearing distance to hail him. “Max… hello…” Ahni says, her tone one full of conflicting warmth and uncertainty with an edge of some scab of injury being ripped off anew and how it all smarts fresh. She steps a little to the side, allowing him plenty of room, if he means to continue past her. She swallows, watching him.

And continue passed her, he almost does. Coming to halt just short of doing so, Max's head goes up, blinking owlishly for a second or two and then the edge of a grin breaks through, "Ahni." Clearly pleased to see her, though his eyes hold a certain wariness to them. "Was just coming to see…you," this as his attention lands on the bandage, concern colouring his expression and tone, "They said you were here but…for something else entirely," frowning as he glances backward as if the unnamed They were tracking him. Back to Ahni a hand lifts and fingers move cautiously toward the injured area of her head, lowspoken, "What happened, baby?" About ten different kinds of query laced into those few words.

Her breath catches a little in her throat as Ahni repeats,”See … me?” She blinks at him once, and pulls her grey-eyed gaze from him to the ground, as if the words are too important to risk distraction while she mulls them over. With some effort, she straightens a little, squaring her shoulders and lifting her chin to look at him once more. Something shifts in her eyes in that moment, and her expression closes, inwardly working fiercely at rebuilding the wall around her heart. She doesn’t smile, and her voice is too light and coolly polite for it to be genuine, “Very kind of you to do so, Max. I’ve just been released. I’m fine, or will be as soon as I have a bath. But … thank you.” She shifts her weight, seeming prepared to move on then, when he comments on what ‘they’ said, and then his inquiry, and his hand is reaching toward her head, and she instinctively shields it from him, lifting her hand to cup lightly around it the little bandaged knot, feeling it and the tenderness, and so if his hand continues, it will connect with hers and not her head. His comment makes her cheeks burn, and she snaps in a hushed whisper, “No, I’m not with child! Nosy weyrfolk just overheard me talking to someone about … ” She exhales, calming herself a little with the action, and says, “nevermind.” Then she looks at him, unable to hide a little hurt in her eyes, “But I suppose if anyone has a reason to believe that story, you would.” After all, he’d known how willing and eager she was to learn the art of love making with him. “The truth is, I was dumb and I tripped and fell, knocked myself out on one of those heavy bloody tables in the living cavern.” Another steadying breath comes and goes and she looks at her feet, “But I’m fine. Now.” Mostly. Except for the fact that Max came to see her when she was just starting to get on with her life.

Having been watching every nuance of her body language and tone from the moment he'd laid eyes on her, that internal shift and pulling away from him, does not go unnoticed. A light frown appears as distress flares in his eyes and then retreats back behind his own guards for the cool tone and polite words that follow and all Max can do is nod mutely in response to them. Fingers collide lightly with the hand held protectively over the injured area with the urge to curl them about her hand and take it into his own, strong. Instead, they graze a light touch and his hand falls away uselessly at his side. Amusement (ever his jester in awkward situations) starts to edge its way through for the blush to Ahnika's cheeks and then dies a small death in the wake of the hurt mirrored in the redhead's eyes. That useless hand now finds itself a chore in the frustrated sweep of hand over his hair as lips purse and a brow goes up, "People heard you talking about…?" yes he'll latch onto that, as one of his internal counsel raises it's head. Next to appear is consternation when she accuses him of having believed the rumours, "What?" and then a small flash of guilt induced anger and hurt flares, "Thanks Ahni, great to know you've decided for yourself that's what I think of you." Jaw tightening, he turns away lest she see the truth of his feelings for her in his eyes and stares off into the distance down the tunnel, silence enveloping the man.

The brush of his fingers against her hand sends goosebumps down her arm, physically good, emotionally dangerous. She lowers her hand back to her side, still watching him. What’s this? Ahni actually managed to get a cudgel through his overdeveloped guard? This both alarms and intrigues her, as well as some inner vulnerable teenage demon actually finding a smidgeon of satisfaction in it. But it is her heart and concern for him that seems to win out. She frowns a little at his back, not fully knowing this territory any more than she knew the potential of her lips. Her eyes narrow a bit, but not in anger, more in scrutiny, and then they relax, as does her frown, and for lack of anything productive to do with her hands she tentatively reaches for his shoulder with one, his elbow with the other, meaning to turn him around, if he budges, “I meant,” she says in a soft, and gentle tone, full of genuine depth, “that you’ve come the closest to ever knowing … that side … of me.” There is an awkward pause as she looks at the ground and adds, “You know I’m not typically all that … passionate … or good at that sort of thing.” Feeling her way around this interaction with him like the blind.

Just as well his back is turned and his face hidden from her, for at Ahnika's touch his skin leaps in reaction causing the beast manager to swallow hard in response, eyes closing tight. But he won't turn toward her just yet, for fear that the internal conflict warring across his features be detected. Head going down, shoulders lift and fall with a deep breath taken and finally Max turns, the barest hint of a rueful smile appearing as he reaches for her, heedless of what the gossips might make of this new development if he's able to pull her into an embrace. Resting his chin atop her head he'll stand there quietly just holding her until the words eventually start to come, "Ahni, you're like a match to a flame," complimentary confession, "and I'm sorry," a curse spills out and then he's trying again, "I know I should stay away and yet…" and yet he just seems unable to. Now he'll draw back and seek her eyes out, "Give me time, baby. I'm trying." Desperation to be understood roughing the edges of his lowheld tone.

Releasing her grasp as he doesn’t budge, initially, and preferring to allow him that, Ahnika starts to retreat a step, but then he turns and gathers her up in his arms and he feels so good. She can’t help but indulge herself for a time as he holds her. Just holds her. She closes her eyes, yielding more than her good sense would approve of, and letting her head rest – the side without the bump – against his shoulder, while her arms slide around him in return and rest on his back. There is the barest of acknowledgments of the compliment by the soft furrowing of her brow, and then it relaxes and she chooses not to comment, more for just relishing the feel of his strong arms around her and not wanting to dispel it just yet. And then he’s speaking and apologizing and her heart is aching and she realizes what she must do and doesn’t really want to. With a breath and a courageous effort to place a smile on her features, a smile that trembles at the edges, Ahni pulls back, blinking a bit, and keeping her gaze averted from his, “No,” she says in a remarkably mature tone, “No, it’s okay. It’s … “ she exhales, trying to pull herself free from the embrace, get some distance, “It’s all okay now. I understand how I was wrong.” Thanks to Rocio, “You are what you are, Max. You deserve someone who will not try and change you. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I’m … I’m learning. It’s made easier by the fact that here,” she gestures, meaning the weyr, “I’m a nobody, with no authority, and therefore, anyone I try and bend to what I think is right, doesn’t have to listen to me,” and here, there is a nervous laugh, and a hand goes to cover it, though the mirth doesn’t reach her eyes, “and more often than not, they don’t.” She gives a little shrug, her eyes a bit melancholy and she studies the ground again, “And someone recently made me see it was wrong of me … “ and here she looks at him again, “And so, go be the man you feel you ought to be, and be with the women you want to be with. You don’t have to ask me to give you time, Max. I … just need to learn to respect that being that way makes you happiest. That it’s what you want,” she looks down then, a note in her tone suggesting she’s not entirely sure about that, but someone has put enough doubt in her mind to concede.

If he could? He'd stay like that forever. With Ahnika held close to him, without the distance that words and misunderstandings always seemed to create for him. But then she's pulling away, the emptiness felt both physically and at a far deeper level. With nothing better to do with them, hands pocket, with Max setting an intent gaze on the redhead as she speaks. At one point a derisive snort spills out - being that way makes him happiest. By the end of it all, there's no masking the punched-in-the-gut look that hovers a good few moments and then peels away behind a hard mask. Nodding slowly to himself and then shaking his head, he takes a step back from her, "So that's it then. You've already decided what it is that you think I need," hurt draws sarcasm into his tone as he takes another step backward, "Should have been a mindhealer, because you've already got me well and truly pegged, darlin'." And with that, he'll turn to leave if she doesn't stop him.

Men. I mean, really. On the one hand extremely simple, and on the other … Ahni is learning just how complicated they really can be. There are all sorts of twists and cul de sacs. The mindhealer comment cuts deeper than he perhaps meant it to, but mostly because she did truly aspire to that craft, the Healer craft that is, for a long time, and it took a good time, too, to finally concede that she wasn’t fit for it, for all that she wanted to be. And so the sting of his words, of his stepping back and then finally leaving to walk away from her. He’s leaving her. He’s abandoning her. Right there. On that there spot. And for all that the calming and rational words of reason and wisdom she’s been given the last few days, this one combined with the mindhealer comment just. Hits. The. Mark. “Don’t you dare,” she says, her words coming out in a feral growl to match the narrow-eyed gaze of hers. And just like that, she is on the move, swiftly closing the few paces distance he’d managed. Luckily being as tall as she is, she is able to execute the most natural thing that comes to her when dealing with stubborn unreasonable behavior, that is, she grabs the top of Max’s closest ear and twists. Some women break noses. Some women twist ears. It’s all relative. “Now, you listen to me, Max. I don’t know what you’re about, but I do know that you are not going to walk away from me in a silly girl’s huff. You wanted to be able to fuck every girl in the weyr and keep me on the side. I’m sorry, I’m so sharding sorry I can’t be that kind of girl for you.” And she lets go of his ear, “And now that I’m tellin’ you that you don’t gotta change for me you’re in some kind of funk. What do you want from me?” She asks, echoing his own question several nights before, folding her arms over in front of her, just under her bosom and glaring at him.

He's probably heard those three words a million times from his mother and various others throughout his life - don't you dare. As such there's a bare twitch of shoulders in recognition for having heard her and he completely ignores them as he continues to walk away. Away from that lapse in judgement that had had him testing the waters and almost baring his soul to her. That is until Ahnika catches up and more importantly -twists- his ear. Twists his … say what!? That catches Max completely off guard and he actually yelps, a hand flying to his poor ear, "What the fuck!? Are you crazy woman?" dark eyes glaring at the redhead. He has two choices. One, try and wrench away from that firm grip she has on him and thus risk detaching his ear from his head, or two, stay right where he is and listen with steely faced resolve. He chooses the latter. Once she's done, and has let go of him, the beast manager lifts a hand again and rubs at the injured part of his anatomy, a scowl going the candidate's way. He can't rightly deny some, okay, -most- of what she says, but what he can do, is snap back an answer to her question, "You!" Before shoving his hands back into his pockets and setting off again, male pride in tatters. She should maybe have kept a hold of that ear.

With his reply snapped back at her, the irate redhead is actually stumped. Ahnika is stumped so much, in fact, that she is left speechless while he … walks away from her. Again. The words ‘Well, you can’t have me!’ form on her lips, but she doesn’t quite have the gumption to put breath to them. Nor the heart. Because, damn him, his single-word response has something loosening in her chest. Stunned into stillness as she is, he is too far away for her to rush after him again without risking jarring something in her head once more, or stumbling. The Healers did try to encourage her to take it somewhat slow at least, at first. But his response has the hint of promise to it, and she is not left feeling quite as discarded as she was when he stalked off before. Instead, Ahni takes a step back, then tilts a little to lean against the wall, and murmurs at his retreating back, probably too low to be heard, “Then … come and catch me.” Lowering her grey eyes to the ground and sighing, letting her folded arms open and settle at her sides, her hands feeling idle and useless, lacking Max’s physical presence to rest upon.

Max is well out and into the bowl, driven by anger, hurt, and a rather large dose of the sulks when the stalking pace he'd employed, slows, and then stops. Staring at down at the ground for a moment or two, he slowly turns his head over his shoulder and stares back at the tunnel entrance where he'd left her. Indignation wells up. How dare he? How dare she! There he was trying to say…well he didn't know -what- he was trying to say and she starts going on about letting him go and turning him loose? Forget it! Stomp, stomp, stomp - boots hitting the hardened earth as the beast manager stalks right back again, all riled up and ready to give Ahnika a piece of his mind. Glaring at her figure leaned up against the wall as it grows bigger on his approach until he's right up close and personal with the redhead. And then … and then he truly -looks- at her and everything he'd been about to say flees in the face of worry, this evident in the catch to his voice "Ahni, are you okay?"

And there he is stomping back in toward her, but she is too distracted, too confused, too overwhelmed to lift her head or her gaze as he stops back in front of her. With his question, she gives a small shrug of her shoulders, and sighs, lifting her head finally and a hand, the latter to rub the back of her neck. “I don’t know, Max. I’m tired,” she admits, “I’m confused.” Despite how her head is up, she seems intent on not actually looking at him, her grey eyes tracing the rest of the tunnel and entrance and ground and walls and everywhere but him. “Why are you doing this to me?” the last is asked in a whisper, and her gaze finally comes back to him, seeking to meet his. And then she is looking away again, and straightening from the wall, and starting to brush past him, now taking /her/ leave, or trying to, and shaking her head slowly. “I want to believe in you … in … us … but … I can’t even begin figure out what you want to believe in.”

Standing there quiet, a frown fits to his forehead, hands fidgeting in his pockets as he resists the urge to take Ahnika by the chin and make her look.at.him - sorry wretch that he is. The question put to him has Max's eyes finally falling away from her face as shoulders roll and he shakes his head a little, quietly spoken, "I don't know." At least he's honest as he sinks back into brooding silence once again, eyes lifting to search out those soul-grazing eyes of hers. But then she's moving past him to leave and, unlike her, he seems unable to stop her, aside from sending after the redhead, in a low voice, "I need…to believe that you believe…in me." It's a plea. Because without that, he simply doesn't have the strength to battle the demons that must be conquered if he is ever to be what she wants him to be. What he wants to be - A better man.

Whether Ahnika heard him or not, she keeps moving, but unlike him her movements are measured and careful without actually just picking her way down and out into the bowl. When she gets to the entrance, however, she does stop on her own and she turns to look at him, one hand resting on the wall beside her, her grey eyes seeking connection with his gaze from across the distance, their look one of brooding all their own, and conflicted, and melancholy, and just heavy with thought. And then she turns back, and softly marches forward, gaze lowered to the ground where she walks, minding every step for fear of a misstep that might bring another tumble … of sorts.

She probably hadn't heard him, and as such with having received no answer, Max leans his back up against the wall and watches Ahnika leave in heavy silence. When she turns she'll find her own emotions reflected back at her from dark troubled eyes. The beast manager will stay there for a few moments longer, ignoring the curious looks he gets until eventually with a muttered, "Stupid fucking idiot," he'll turn and head back to the beast caverns.


Closing Credits Theme Music: Nichelback "Savin' Me"


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