Max, Meet Mom


Ahnika.jpg Max.jpg Nara.jpg Other NPCs: Seren and Cee

Date: 1/17/11
Location: EW: Feeding Pens and Beast Caverns
Synopsis: Nara and Inefredath return with Seren and Cee and introduce Max to Ahni's foster mother and sister while Ahni is in a class. Later Ahnika joins them before Nara takes Seren and Cee back to their cothold, with the latter returning to Eastern once she's packed a couple things.
Rating: PG
Logger: Ahnika

It is early afternoon of the same day that Ahnika watched Nara Between to the rural Fort sweep area that she once called home. The redheaded weyrling wished she could have gone with her, but that was impossible. One day, hopefully soon, Ahnika would be free to make such trips on her own, but not just yet. She carried on with the rest of her responsibilities of the day, including PT and weyrling classes and working on her first leathers in between.

When Nara returned to Eastern, Inefredath bursting into the sky from Between, she had two passengers with her, and immediately sent a call through Inefredath to Jhath which was, lamentably returned stating that they were presently in a weyrling lesson, and would come to them as soon as it was over.

Well, that’s a bugger, isn’t it? Time for Plan B. Inefredath circled down, bleeding off airspeed, and allowing for a very precise and soft landing for her passengers right outside the Feeding Pens. As soon as everyone disembarked, Inef launched herself over the fence and snatched up a bit of lunch.

Now standing outside the fence with her two former passengers from Fort, Nara looks around in search of the Beast Manager, and if she cannot find him right off, she will lead them all inside and down the aisle of stables to his office-quarters.

One of his 'hands didn't report for duty this day and rather than pull someone else off an assigned task, Max has taken it upon himself to carry out the mundane but necessary task of un-baling the big blocks of hay set out in the feeding pens for the herdbeast's 'last supper'. Working in the blazing sun, shirt off and tucked into his belt, hat on and pulled down low over his eyes, he is quite literally, knee deep in hay and hidden from sight by the large bale of hay when Inefredath launches herself over the fence toward her targeted lunch.

Dark eyes narrow and a sharp expletive snaps out as a herdbeast in fright for the incoming dragon almost squashes him up against the bale. Hot, thirsty and itching all over his back with hay prickles he stalks around the hay bale, an expression like thunder on his face and another oath already forming on his lips but dying as he catches sight of Nara and her 'guests'.

Max of course has no idea where Nara's just been or who her passengers might be and as such they're afforded little more than a brief once over as he closes the distance, gaze set firmly on the greenrider herself. Once within hearing distance he gives a polite tip of hat and a quick "Ma'am," to the elder of the pair and then zeroes in on the greenrider, "Not everything on legs in there is for the eatin'. Might be you wanna check if me or mine are about before sending your green in to start taking chunks outta a man's behind, aye?" Well to be fair, Inefredath had been nowhere near him and it was a herdbeast that had tried to play Twister with him but that's in the fine print.

Nara offers one of her usually winning smiles to Max as he approaches, “Oh there you are, Darling,” she says, despite him looking pissed off. Then she winks, gives him a long, slow eyeing from toe to head, shirtless, haysticks and sweat and all, “No, I’d rather contest that. I think you’re definitely for the eating.” Cue meaningful look and wink from the former Istan party girl, “Just not by me. More’s the pity. Oh! Look! I’ve brought friends!” She makes a sweeping gesture to Seren and Cee a little behind her, carefully ignoring the dying shrieks of pain and terror from whichever herdbeast Inefredath picked out, and grateful that much of the bale of hay has the nasty business hidden. “Journeywoman Seren, Cee, allow me to introduce you to Max, the Beast Manager. Max …” Nara turns back to him, giving him a truly shit-eating grin, “Meet Journeywoman Seren,” beat pause (waitforit), “Ahni’s mum.”

And, perhaps oddly, Seren doesn’t correct that to ‘foster mum’ as Ahni is always known to do. The blonde woman looks nothing like her, so perhaps she feels it isn’t needed to be said. Seren steps up beside Nara and holds her hand out to Max for shaking. “Well met, Max,” Seren says, “Finally.”
Nara motions to Cee next, “And this is Ahni’s sister, Cee,” to which the young woman does make a point of clarifying, “Foster sister. Sort of.” Sort of? Cee smiles shyly at Max, adding, “Hello,” with a little awkward finger-wave.
“Ahni and Jhath are in a weyrling lesson. I just knew you’d want to meet them in the meantime, while we waited for her,” Nara grins at him and then moves a little to slap the man on his shoulder if possible with one hand, while the other one more properly removes her cap and tucks it in her belt, “Who wants a drink, eh?”

Untucking the shirt from the waistband of his trousers and removing his hat, Max uses it to wipe his face with. Hat clamped firmly back on again, Nara is given a dark scowl and a muttered, "In your dreams, darlin'," to his becoming any type of greenrider buffet. Well, not hers anyway. A brow goes up at the 'I've brought friends bit' and dark eyes slide over toward the two women, giving them closer study and then go back to the greenrider with a 'Aye? And what am I supposed to do about it?' type look in place.

Shit-eating grin indeed, for once the introductions are made, Max is pretty much left with a mouthful of teeth. Ahni's what!? Look at Nara, look at Seren, look back at Nara and no…he's not on a horse. More's the pity because right now he's likely wishing the ground would open up and swallow him whole. He doesn't even have time to send the grinning greenrider a filthy look for Seren's stepping up and holding out her hand. With a quick clearing of throat and a cough for having been caught on the hop like that, the beast manager wipes a hand against his trousers and clasps the older woman's hand firmly, "Uh…well met, Ma'am." Voice drawn low and somewhat gruff with embarrassment for meeting what he hopes to be the equivalent of his future mother-in-law, half-naked and sweaty, "An honour to be sure."

So caught off-guard is he that he keeps a hold of the blonde's hand for a little longer than necessary. Suddenly realizing as much the beast manager quickly releases it with an awkward hitch of a smile and turns his attention next to Cee, "Pleased to meet you too, darlin'." She gets a slightly wider smile and then he's slinging a light glare in Nara's direction when her hearty slap finds it target. "Oh aye, a drink," which he could really, seriously use right now, "You're payin'." That to the greenrider and as his version of justice for her having served up mother-in-law on a plate without due warning.

“Every sharding night, Max,” Nara says in reply to him being in her dreams. Is she kidding? Who knows? Seren is looking a little uncertainly between the two now, though. Cee, meanwhile, is up closer to the fence, more interested in watching Inefredath eat, “Look at all … the blood…” she murmurs, a mixture of macabre fascination and ‘eww’ factor. “I don’t drink,” says the Healer, “at least not alcohol,” though not in a way as to come off holier-than-thou. It’s more a professional thing, as Seren adds, “It affects my reflexes and ability to think clearly, which makes a poor Healer in my mind.”

“Ah, well, more for us then,” Nara says to Seren, while smiling at Max, “I can give Cee a tour of the Weyr while you and the good Journeywoman here wait for Ahni to get out of class, if you like?” Because standing there while Inef picks entrails out of her teeth is not Nara’s sense of a good time.

Up goes Max's brows for that return from Nara and then he's sending her a narrow eyed warning look. He doesn't however, dignify it with an answer and instead deliberately turns his attention to Seren, with a watchful glance flickered in Cee's direction should she get it in her head to hop the fence and get a closer look. With a crooked smile in place, "If you can give me a moment to wash up, I'll send someone for some fresh juice from the living caverns…" Whatever else he was going to say drops away when the greenrider decides that giving Cee a tour of the Weyr might be the thing to do. And…leave him there all alone with a woman he's just done the worst possible job of trying to impress? Blink. Swallow. Oh yes, what a scary crimelord you are, mate. Ahem. And then concern for what he assumes to be a naïve young thing from the country being guided about the Weyr by one very overconfident and open greenrider kicks in. "Uuuh…she could always come talk to Springbreeze?" weak alternative offered without his going for blunt and blurting out something like , 'Not unless you want her talked into stripping all her clothes off and running about the place naked.'

Nara just grins knowingly at Max again while Seren says, “Juice sounds nice and refreshing. Thank you. Three births in one morning is a trial even for an experienced midwife like me.” Moving away from the fence now, Cee approaches the other three, though sends her request more to Seren, “If it’s okay, Seren, I’d like to go with Nara,” and then to Max, “I’ve never seen a Weyr before. Nara thinks I might make myself a dragonrider one day.” To which Nara says, “And a fine one ya would make, Darling. Don’t let nobody tell you different.” Then the greenrider looks at Max and nods, “We could start with Springbreeze if Waine is about?” She smiles slyly. Oh no, she wouldn’t. Would she? Where’s the hemlock for the corruptors of youth when you need it? “Who’s Springbreeze?” asks Cee, while Seren asks, “Who’s Waine?” instead.

Fingers touch to the brim of his hat as if to tug it down lower to hide under when Seren mentions having attended three births that morning thanks to the imagery that all draws up due to a certain conversation had not too long ago with Ahnika on just that topic. Pay no mind to the half naked man, out of his depth and drowning over here, he's doing just swimmingly. Not. A nod and the edge of a smile goes to the journeywoman, "My pleasure Ma'am," and he's almost back on track again and then Nara has to go and say what she does. A brow hikes way/ up high when Waine gets brought into the equation, and he slings her a look, "Oh no you don't. How 'bout you take Cee here and give her a tour of the kitchens and living caverns, aye?" Because that should be safe enough, yes? One can only hope. To Cee with a warm smile, "She's a mare due to foal any day now," and then to Seren with the vestiges of an apologetic look, "Waine's…my second. Bit rough around the edges." Likes he's not? Tone slightly pointed as he sells his own assistant up the river rather than have to apologize later for the corruption of youth, not to mention the feminine boot up his ass he'd likely get from Ahnika for having allowed her foster-sister to be so tutored by her mentor.

“Oh, aa-nother birth?” Cee asks uncertainly upon hearing about the pregnant mare. She’s a bit pregnant-out for the day, which is actually probably a good thing to be for a sheltered teenager. Seren nods to Max and then to Cee, “Go ahead, Brahceer. Enjoy yourself. Take a lot of mental notes since no doubt the others will be expecting a full report from you when we get back.” And as Nara moves away with Cee, she moves to try and give Max one final slap on his shoulder, murmuring, “Good luck, Loverboy.” Then she drapes an arm around Cee’s shoulders, heard saying bemusedly to Cee on their way deeper into the bowl, and presumably the living caverns and kitchens, “Do you know what one of my favorite things about the kitchens here is, Cee? Delivering pies…” Oh boy.
Seren watches them go and once they are out of earshot says to Max, while still staring at the departing backs of Nara and Cee, “I do believe that woman is going to try and corrupt Cee. Waine, huh?” Seren smirks, the smile touching the blue eyes of the older, matronly woman and creasing the skin a little at their corners as she looks at Max, “Fortunately, I have more faith in my ability to raise girls who can take care of themselves in this world than I do in Nara’s ability to coerce Cee into doing something she’s not comfortable with.” Now starting to break a little bit of a sweat in her winter garb under the southern continent’s sun, Seren fans herself with her hand a little, “Any chance we can find some place to talk and wait for Ahni that is out of the sun, Max?”

Yet another birth for Cee, one of few for him, which suits the man just fine, thank you very much. There's little he can do when Seren gives the girl permission to go with Nara and so he instead does a good job of hiding any anxiety that teases at his expression. The slap to shoulder and parting words from the greenrider earn her a slightly withering look. It's what she says to Brahceer as they leave that has Max lifting a hand and setting thumb and forefinger to the bridge of his nose in exasperation. Delivering pies indeed!

At Seren's words that hand drops away, revealing a rueful expression left in its wake, "I'm afraid so." Max gives, realizing there was no point now in trying to sugarcoat the greenrider and her ways. The older woman's smirk over Waine is met with an amused twitch of lips and little else. With Nara gone and some of his discomfort along with her, the beast manager starts to pull himself together and turns out a low chuckle, "If she's anything like your Ahnika …" Words trail and dark eyes flare when he suddenly realizes by the journeywoman's actions and words that she must be about dying in the blazing sun and his manners seem to have deserted him. "Aye, of course. It's much cooler inside," that coming along with a gesture made toward the entrance to the beast caverns. As he leads the way, a sharp whistle is put out when he spots one of the younger lads trying to skive off work and he points to the bale of hay he'd been working on, nothing more needing to be said for the lanky teen quickly snaps to it.

With most of its inhabitants out to pasture for the day and the beast manager being exceedingly strict about the mucking out of stalls and changing out of beast bedding on a daily basis, the caverns once they enter their cool embrace, carry little more than the earthy smell of hay and leather with a faint aroma of runners blended in. Another young lad passing by with buckets of water is collared and duly sent up to the living caverns for fresh juice and snacks. Reaching the large converted stall Max steps forward, opens the door and then steps back again gesturing for Seren to precede him, "Ma'am." If she moves through into his quarters, he'll follow. "It ain't much, but its home," relieved to see that save for a pair of socks that have somehow ended up draped over the top of the cupboard in his private area, the drudge has obviously been and gone and the place looks at least somewhat respectable in terms of being neat and tidy.

“Considering what she writes in her letters, Max, I don’t think she’s ‘my’ Ahnika anymore, but Jhath’s and yours. How is she … really?” Seren asks, prompted by Max’s words on Ahni, as he leads them inside. Her attention seems to wander, offering a matronly smile to those she meets along the way to his office, but otherwise taking in her surroundings in all respects: sight, sound, smell. If she is bothered by the smell of a stable, she is kind enough not to say anything, or give it away in her body language. More than likely in her career, she’s smelled and dealt with plenty worse. She smiles at his stable-turned-private quarters and, looking around, comments, “It’d be considered a veritable mansion of a room the way our cothold is. I’m afraid Xavier and I don’t have much in the way of skills to make safely constructed additions to it. Although every once in awhile, one of the children returns as a smith of some kind and do help with making something to give us more room or make our lives easier.” She makes a point of looking around without actually nosing through any paperwork or books or deskdrawers and opened trunks he might have out. “But it doesn’t have to be much to feel like home. You’re right.”

Those few words spoken by Seren have the young man stopping in his tracks a moment and turning a long look onto the matronly woman. Her comment meaning more to him than she likely realizes. Slowly but surely a smile curves out onto his mouth and he dips his hatted head in respectful gesture, "Thank you, Ma'am." That given in a slightly gruff tone and then they're crossing the threshold and he's pulling out the chair opposite his for her to take a seat on. Only then does he get to answering her query after Ahnika's wellbeing, love and pride in the redhead warming his expression, "She's doing well, Ma'am. She's tired most days given the way the Weyrlingmaster keeps 'em on the go but she don't complain. If you ask me," and he's really quite openly biased when it comes to the weyrling, "she's got the makings of a true leader." Despite the fact that she rides green. That smile then turns crooked for comment on his own quarters in comparison to what Ahnika's family share and one can be sure that the beast manager's mind is already turning cogs on the matter in an effort to devise a way to make their lives more comfortable without adding insult by doing so. Only once Seren has seated herself does Max remove his hat, set it on a peg and then move over into his private area, snagging a shirt from his press and pulling it on over his head. Yes, he should likely bathe first, but he's obviously decided sitting bare-chested speaking to his (hopefully) future mother-in-law, goes against propriety. Moving back toward his desk now he adds sincerely, "I hope to meet your husband one day too, Ma'am and see where Ahni grew up. Your daughter," not foster-daughter for to this young man it matters little who birthed her but rather who raised her, "speaks highly of you all."

Seren smiles back at him, nodding to his thanks, and settling into the seat he offers while still looking the room over a bit longer, musing aloud, “She doesn’t write often, hardly at all, really, compared to some of the children who left, but she doesn’t seem to complain much when she does write. She never was much for complaining as a child, either. So, I’m not surprised to hear of her not complaining now, in weyrlinghood.” She folds her hands in her lap, turning her attention to his desk as he is putting on a shirt, “She might find it a little easier if she did, though. She’s never been much to talk about things that bothered her, except for the letter she sent after you broke her heart soon after she met you.” It’s stated with as much casualness as someone might talk of the weather. “She shared that much.” There is a respectful pause and then she says calmly, “I’m glad the two of you sorted it out, though.” Well, as much as these two sort out anything, considering the ups and downs of their relationship. She smiles then, “Do you think so?” of Ahni’s leadership abilities, adding, “She had our chaotic and overcrowded little cothold in such great shape by the time she left that it wasn’t until a few months later that things started unraveling again and I had to take stock of the cothold a little more closely again. We missed her, though, even before we missed what she did for us there as a sort of quasi-headwoman.” She lapses quiet a long moment after his last, her eyes dropping briefly to her lap, and then up again to his face, saying softly though genuinely, “I’m glad she’s found a new family here, a place to feel at home. She was somewhat … stifled, I think, at ours. We … tried.” Seren seems to think on saying more, and then pauses, finally offering Max another smile, the corners of her eyes creasing again, “You’re welcome to come and visit anytime. How long until Ahni is flying on her own and able to leave the Weyr, do you think?”

A slight frown almost develops on hearing that Ahnika doesn't write as often as he'd maybe thought she did and then a smile breaks through, "It's not always easy getting her to talk sometimes or to understand that it's okay to be tired, or frustrated with things sometimes." That much he'll admit before blanching a little when it's revealed that the redhead had written her foster-mother about that almighty argument they'd had. Silent for a moment as he takes up his seating, Max comments quietly, "She broke mine too." And there he leaves the matter not prepared to lay blame in a situation where it had been equally shared. And then he lapses silent unsure quite why it was that he'd even revealed as much to this woman he'd only just met. What might appear to have been brooding is washed away by a quick smile, "Ma was set to offer her a job as assistant headwoman and then she got Searched." It's the quiet manner in which Seren states her next that has the young beast manager leaning slightly forward in his seating, an earnest expression in place, "You ain't got nothing to regret having done or not done, Ma'am. Ahnika's better put together than most I've come across, aye? She knows what she wants most times and ain't afraid to go for it. She speaks her mind and is quick to come to the aid of those that need it. She's made of strong stuff and I reckon that's thanks to yourself and your husband." Considering how stripped of words he'd been earlier, that's quite a mouthful coming from Max. Just then the young lad sent for refreshments knocks and steps into the beast manager's quarters. Though red in the face for having gone on his errand as quickly as possible, he's been careful with the tray he holds and hasn't messed a drop. Setting it down on the desk with a short dip of head first Seren and then his boss' way he leaves once again. Reaching for the jug and pouring the juice into the two glasses, one is set before the matronly woman while he takes up the other, the small plate of assorted snacks, set between them. Finally he puts reply to her last, "Flying, a few weeks from now. Being able to leave the Weyr? That's gonna take longer cause they need to be learning to Between first." And one can be assured that he's waiting with just as much anticipation for the day to come when Ahnika and Jhath may leave the Weyr given the plan he's been putting together since just after she impressed.

“I … don’t rightly know why she’s like that,” Seren says to Max’s first, but in a somewhat wistful, clinical way, as if she’d been trying to riddle Ahnika out ever since the toddler was left on hers and Xavier’s doorstep, “But admittedly, mindhealing isn’t where my expertise lies. As long as she’s happy, I don’t suppose it matters much.” She smoothes down her skirts in her lap a moment before lifting her blue eyed gaze to Max with his admission and she nods in understanding, “Ours too,” softly put. Another moment of reverence for the shared sentiment of pain and unconditional love and acceptance, as cryptic as it may be, and then she smiles to him, “She’d have made a fine assistant headwoman, methinks. Even a Headwoman one day, once she got some more experience under her belt and the right opportunity came along. Let us hope she can find a place for such skills as a greenrider,” though the woman doesn’t sound skeptical about it. She blinks a few times, absorbing what Max says next on Ahnika and how Seren and Xavier should have no regrets about their methods of upbringing. After he’s done speaking, she blinks several more times, then wipes at one eye with a rueful smile, “Thank you … Max. That means more to me and Xavier than I can say.” Silly Ahni. Not showing her appreciation? Tsk. There’s a little nod to Max explaining Ahni and her being able to leave the Weyr, “That sounds like maybe it will be spring time for us, and warmer. Good. When she’s able, you and she should come up together and have dinner with us,” all dozen or so of us, “I know the littles will want to meet Jhath, especially. We don’t … get much dragon traffic in our modest cothold. Part of why Nara delivering Ahnika’s letter this morning was all the more … significant.” It’s here that she reaches forward and takes the offered glass with a murmured, “Thank you.”

Shoulders shift in a light shrug as Max gives easily, "We all be put together differently, Ma'am." Then again, he's not always the easiest to get talking on things he holds close to the chest either, so he understands that aspect of Ahnika. Its Seren's softly put 'Ours too' that draws a faint frown as he tries to place its meaning, silence lingering in the pause as dark eyes set a subtly searching look onto the older woman as if he could somehow divine it for himself. Instead, leaving her to her privacy on the matter, the beast manager chuckles and nods his agreement on the weyrling having had the potential to have made a good Headwoman, "Ma's got an eye for such natural abilities. She's right fond of her too." Yeah, so much so that she tends to side with Ahnika against him on some matters. Which of course isn't always a bad thing given how stubborn he can be. Warm the smile that greets Seren's thanks, he looking strangely a little awkward in light of it, "Ain't nothing but the truth, Ma'am. If it weren't for you, them little ones wouldn't be knowing the truth of a good home." A matter close to his own heart both for the situation of his own daughter and for the fact that in some way, what Seren and Xavier do in opening their home to foster children, he and his mother try to do in helping adults who have nowhere left to turn. The offer to visit and partake of a meal with Ahnika and her family pulls a wide grin into place, "It would be an honour. I know Ahnika likely can't wait to show off her Jhath. I look forward to it." Quiet a moment as he swallows a mouthful of juice, mentally readjusting part of his plans for when the green pair may leave the Weyr. A hand then lifts and scratches at his head as a wry smile forms for her last, "Nara has a habit of…catching people unawares." That soon drops off and his expression turns grave, "Ahnika wrote you then 'bout our…needs then." Not having any idea what was written in that letter or how much the journeywoman knows, he goes for the cautious approach.
Seren nods a bit in agreement to Max’s first, her attention politely remaining on him now that he has his shirt and is seated at his desk, regardless of any awkward silences between the two. She smiles again, “A pity I can’t stay long. I think I would have enjoyed meeting your mother, the Headwoman. Indira, I believe, yes? Ahnika may not write often, but she speaks of Jhath and you and Indira the most in her letters. She used to talk of a girl named Ciara, too, and she’s occasionally mentioned a boy named Leron, but Jhath and yourself, and your mother, she seems to speak the most of.” Jaya is perhaps most conspicuously absent, but considering Ahni doesn’t write often, the times she might have mentioned Jaya might have been rather … delicate and unpleasant to bring her up then. “Oh, I don’t know about that, but thank you just the same. There is something to be said for raising your child in a Weyr with you rather than passing him or her off to a remote foster cothold. It’s hard for the children of the riders, sometimes, I think, when it’s perfectly acceptable for them to just be fostered in the Weyr. We try our best to make them feel less like undesired cast-offs in those cases, but it’s not easy. The children of crafters who we take in, well, perhaps they are a bit better off with us. We crafters are moved around so much by the Hall usually, early in our careers, it’s hard to really keep a stable environment for our children, no matter how much we may want to.” And probably begs the question of how a master weaver and a journeywoman (well beyond the turns when one typically goes for her master knot) ended up in a rural cothold full of fosterlings, but Seren’s not volunteering that. At least not yet. She takes another sip of her juice and smiles again, “I look forward to it, as well,” regarding their dinner. Regarding the letter, however, some of that smile fades, “Allow me to be a little frank, here, Max. Very little of Ahnika’s letter actually spoke of any urgency, but she sent the letter by personal rider courier, and she’s asking me if I know of any midwives posted to Tillek,” she withdraws the folded letter from her beltpouch, tapping it against her opposite hand as she adds aloud, “I’m pretty sure I know what all this is about and if I’m right, well, you can be sure I’m going to advise against it, especially while she is still in weyrlinghood. Now is not the time for her to go digging up the past, Max.” Her expression turns soft and sympathetic, “I can understand you and she might feel better about your future as a couple if you know about her origins, but truly, I don’t think it’s going to do anything but dredge up something awful and painful and only manage to affect her weyrling training in a negative way. At least … at least wait and search for her true family after she’s graduated. I … really think that would be best for everyone.” Including herself. Poor Seren.

Smiling, "Ma will be sorry to have missed meeting you, Ma'am." That being the truth there for Indira is nothing if not fully aware of social etiquette which is likely to be heavily underscored with curiosity for the woman that raised her son's better half. That smile remains in place as Seren goes on to name the others that Ahnika has mentioned in her letters home and if he notices the absence of Jaya's name, he doesn't show it. An odd line of annoyance patterns across his features and then settles into a grim look for those parents that would so easily give up their chance to raise their own children while he's fighting so hard for the right to raise his. Max does however give a nod of understanding to how it might be for crafters but the chances are good he'd even argue that point if it wasn't that he already respects the journeywoman enough not to do so. If he finds Seren and Xavier as ranked journeymen having settled in a remote cothold odd, he doesn't give hint thereof, simply giving a quietly and sincerely spoken, "You ain't wrong there, Ma'am. Children need a home, a family to call their own, not to feel like yesterday's mistake and today's inconvenience," cue the internal grimace there, "But if they ain't gonna get it from their own flesh and blood then thanks be to Faranth for there being folk such as yourselves to take 'em in and love 'em straight."

Taking his glass back up again, the beast manager's expression goes from carefully guarded on the contents of the letter to openly appalled by the conclusion that Seren draws, although he does take the information that answers to Ahnika's past might lie in Tillek and file it away for later use. As such he's a little gobsmacked and unsure of quite how to set the woman's understandable concerns at ease, "Uuuh…no. That's…not why she was asking, Ma'am." Not about to admit to currently be looking into the redhead's background before she was left with Seren and Xavier, considering that she herself doesn't know that he's quietly been working on riddling it out. Here he stops, takes a long drink of the juice and a deep breath. Steeling himself for what he knows he must tell the journeywoman. Exhaling heavily, "It's about needing to prevent a woman from maybe smothering a babe at birth to hide her…indiscretions." Starting there, he adds with a lift of dark troubled eyes to the older woman, "The midwife…she needs to be someone respected enough in the community and her craft that her word could stand against a Lady's but discreet enough that she'll keep whatever else comes to light, to herself until all involved are safe and out of harm's way." The young man's body language matching that of the expression he now wears, that being a blend of conflicting tension, worry and an oddly placed but deep yearning tinged with hope.

Nodding with a smile, and apparently not seeing anything in Max’s mannerisms or opinions that Seren might question, the Healer midwife graciously replies to his commentary on raising children with, “Thank you. And I’m glad to know you feel the same way.” In case Ahni ever gets pregnant. Seren takes up her juice cup once more with one hand, the other still holding the letter, and sipping the beverage while watching Max’s reaction and listening to his assertion that Ahni’s origins have nothing to do on the matter of why Seren was asked about Tillek Hold’s posted midwives. It is a good thing that Seren swallows that sip of juice and sets the cup back down again on the edge of the desk in front of her as Max continues because his words put ice in her veins and the woman looks back up at him, stilling as she absorbs all of that, every ounce of this midwife’s being wanting to leap up and take arms, but warring with what just doesn’t seem like sense to her. What mother would smother her own infant? Still, she’s old enough to know she’s not seen all the darkness there is to be seen in humanity and so she just stares, wheels turning in her mind, replying, “I’ll go myself then.” Truth is, she’s not sure she can leave the foster daughter who followed in her footsteps, Brielle, to attend to all the area’s young mothers, infants, and mothers-to-be on top of keeping up with the fosterlings at the cothold. Fact was that until Brielle returned from her initial apprenticeship at the Hall, Seren was barely managing it alone, herself, though most of that was because despite her specialty, they were rural enough for everyone to consider her a General Practicioner and come to her for all manner of injuries and ailments. However, all that being said, the life of a helpless newborn was at stake, and the only midwife she knew had once been posted to Tillek she hadn’t spoken to in some turns. For all Seren knew, she wasn’t even posted there anymore. But anything more she may have said on the matter is forestalled as the sound of ground-pounding bootsteps at a full-tilted run come down the aisle. Then a breathless, sweaty, grimy and dragon-oil smelling redheaded weyrling rushes through the door. “Seren!!” Ahnika exclaims, her expression both incredulous and happy at the same time.

Max meets that stare coming off of Seren with a level look. However, when she announces she herself will attend the Tillekian Lady he gives a sharp shake of head, tone firm, "No disrespect intended, Ma'am but I ain't gonna be risking yourself. Not when you have so many depending on you already." Meaning those she fosters for he has no idea of the extent of her duties as midwife and general practitioner to her community. Not to mention that he'd really rather she didn't get too involved in the whole sordid affair for fear of the fallback of consequences that might occur if things don't go according to plan. With the breathless and joyous arrival of Ahnika he gets no further than the journeywoman does on the matter, his expression about the wide grin that forms for the weyrling's appearance wrapped warm. He doesn't greet her just yet, happy to stay in the background and let mother and daughter enjoy their reunion while he watches on quietly.

Unable to have a chance to argue the decision for Seren not to go to Tillek personally, the Healer lets that go for now and simply rises to her feet as Ahnika enters. Having not seen Ahnika in about a turn or so, Seren’s unable to hold back the moisture that springs to her eyes, “Ahni,” she greets warmly, stepping forward only once before Ahnika is there and embracing the older woman. “I can’t believe you came!” Ahni breathes into Seren’s hair as she hugs her, and one might wonder why Ahni insists on referring to her as her foster mother, instead of mother, considering how tied to her she obviously is. Pulling away Ahnika grasps the woman by the shoulders gently, “How is everyone? Xavier? I’m told Brahceer came with you?” Then she blinks, looking over at Max and grinning sheepishly, “Oh, ah, you’ve met Max.” Ahni gives him a mildly quizzical look. ‘Why is she here?’ but not voicing it since, well, she doesn’t want to seem rude. Just… unclear of what’s happened.

Chuckling, Seren gives Ahni’s shoulder a little squeeze, commenting, “My, but have you been getting yourself fit, Dear.” Not that she’s terribly surprised. She’s had Healer stints in a Weyr before and knows the rigor of weyrlinghood. “Everyone’s fine. Xavier’s got a new pattern in his head and we haven’t seen much of him outside his workshop the last couple of days, but we hear the loom going, so we know he’s alive.” It’s said with humor. “Yes, Brahceer came with me. Nara insisted it, really. I think she thinks Brahceer might be Search-worthy at some point.” Then Seren nods to Max, smiling at him, “Yes, Max and I have been getting acquainted. How was your lesson?” The woman asks Ahni.

One can be sure that after witnessing such a warm reunion between weyrling and journeywoman, Max will be having a gentle but firm word with the redhead the very next time she refers to Seren as her foster-mother. Leaning slightly sideways in his chair, elbow resting on its arm and chin set into the palm of his hand, he quietly watches the exchange. The sheepish grin sent his direction from Ahnika and the silent query has him shrugging and lifting his free hand in a gesture of, 'Hey don't ask me.' Now that he's recovered a little from the shock of Seren and Cee's arrival, he seems amused more than anything else. Oh yeah, Ahni's in awesome shape alright. Which would be why he's currently focussing more on the trim redhead's distracting curves than paying too much attention to what's being said between the two woman. And so when he hears his name mentioned, he kind of does a bit of a blink followed by a distracted, "Hmm? Oh. Aye…" So not thinking dirty thoughts about your daughter over here, Ma'am. Nope, not him. Ahem. The smile given in return to Seren far too innocent for his own good.

“Weyrlinghood,” Ahnika explains unnecessarily with a little flush of her freckled cheeks, letting go of the woman who raised her, and still bright for the unexpected reunion, “Jhath’s waiting outside and says she looks forward to meeting you in person,” leading to the assumption that Jhath is very much present in the room now, just vicariously through Ahni. “And I look forward to meeting her, as well,” Seren responds with a glance to the door, as if the dragon might come through it, which is impossible. Ahnika nods a little to the answers to her questions, smiling fondly at the mention of Xavier being head-down over another fabric project. She comments only on the notion of her foster-sibling being Search-worthy, “I thought for sure she’d be bringing back Jangsom or Anselom with her. Those boys are old enough and Nara has her … way with men.” Ahni glances over to Max briefly, and then back to Seren, who chuckles at the notion of the two boys being seduced to the Weyr. “This is a much better surprise, though!” Ahni gives a gentle brush of the older woman’s arm, and then Ahni motions to the chair Seren just vacated, “Sit and relax a spell,” as if it were her chair to offer, “Quench your thirst,” she adds, noting the jug and glasses, and moving to top off each of their glasses at the same time. As Seren retakes her seat, Ahnika answers, “The lesson was fine. More practice than anything new this time. As soon as Jhath told me Inefredath and Nara were back and had brought you with them, it was all I could do to try and get out of class as soon as possible. I’m sorry I couldn’t get here sooner.” To which Seren replies, “Oh think nothing of it, Ahni. Your training is much more important.” Setting the jug down, Ahni moves to stand beside Max in his chair, slipping an arm around the back of it and his shoulders if allowed. “I see you got my letter,” Ahnika says in an even voice with a little nod toward the folded paper in Seren’s hand. The older woman looks at it and nods, looking at Max again and the Ahnika, “Yes, I felt it better if we discuss this in person. Max and I were already starting to when you came in, in fact.” There’s a pause and she adds, “There was once an acquaintance of mine who was heading off from Fort to a posting at Tillek Hold. I don’t know if she is still there, but we can find out. We weren’t close friends, but she knew her craft. I would trust her with my life and those I care about if it came to it. No question.” Seren fingers the letter a moment and then adds, “If she’s not there, anymore, I could go myself and see what the midwives who are posted there are like and if there is any of them with whom we might be concerned would compromise her integrity and Healer oaths for a Lady.”

Something about the way Ahnika glances over to him has the beast manager shifting a little in his chair, unsure on what, if anything, Nara might have told her about a certain pie delivery. His expression however, remains bland. With Seren retaking her seat and the redhead moving to stand next to him, Max straightens in his chair and then pushes to his feet, tone warm as he murmurs quiet greeting, 'Hey, baby' before gesturing that she should take his. If she does so, he'll be the one taking up post, standing next to her, reversing the roles there a little. When Ahnika brings up the matter of the letter she'd sent, he gives a short nod of agreement to he and her mother having begun to discuss the subject that had prompted it. "I'd be mighty appreciative if you could look into seeing if your friend still works at the Hold or not, Ma'am. From the last communication, I reckon we ain't got more'n a few months, three at most to get someone situated to our, uh…cause." Still reluctant to give away his personal interest in the whole affair just yet. It's when Seren once again offers to go up to Tillek and ask around some herself if her friend proves to have moved on that he sends a troubled look down onto Ahnika, clearly unhappy about the woman doing so on her own.

“Hey,” Ahnika says in turn to Max, smiling and moving a hand to affectionately touch his arm as he gives up his seat for her. She reluctantly takes it, only after making a small fuss over him giving his chair up for her. Quite frankly, she’d have preferred just curling up in his lap and letting them both share the chair, but not while Seren was there. Once settled in the chair, Ahni crosses her legs, one knee over the other, and leans back, hands in her lap as she listens, looking up at Max as he sends that troubled look in her direction. Then she turns back to Seren, “I suggest we take things one step at a time. There’s no point in planning for a contingency we don’t really know is necessary yet.” What? Who is this and what has she done with Ahni? Ahni is all about contingency planning. Then Ahni adds, “I wish I could go to Tillek myself, but that’s not possible yet.” And likely won’t be before the baby is born. “So, if you could prepare a letter for your friend, when Nara takes you and Brahceer back, she’ll take it onto Tillek,” which will probably require a little more motivation for Nara considering just how cold it’s liable to be for the sun-loving greenrider. “If she doesn’t find your friend, then she’ll come back here and we’ll work out a plan B …” beat pause, “whatever that might be.” This last is added with a reassuring glance to Max, and then a smile back at Seren. “What do you think?” The Healer nods to Max’s appreciation for trying to get back in touch with her old midwife associate and then smiles gently at Ahnika, “You’re probably right, Ahni. That’s the best thing to do. One step at a time.” She sips the last of her juice and sets the cup back down on the tray.

And one can be sure that had Seren not been there, he would have pulled her down into his lap and done all kinds of things to her a mother just doesn't want to know about. But that's all a moot point right now. When Ahnika launches into contingency planning mode, a brow detaches and lifts marginally from the guarded expression that had settled into place, an approving look being sent down to her. "Aye, we need to be sure to be careful. This woman's slipperier than an eel coated in packfish slime." Er what? Someone must have spent a fair amount of time down on the docks somewhere. A frown follows on the heels of the weyrling's words of having gone herself if not for currently being weyrbound and he mutters in quiet aside to himself, "Over my dead body." No way he wanted Ahnika and Garnalla in the same Hold, let alone, room. Nara being sent to deliver a letter to…what!? Max's expression says it all before he even puts words to it, "You send party girl up there, she's likely to come back with the sharding Lord Holder himself!" Or even, Faranth forbid, Kelarad. Suddenly remembering himself and their present company he clears his throat and shoves hands in pockets where they're not likely to stray and misbehave. Seren is given a quick apologetic look.

Seren doesn’t blink at Max’s fish-packing reference, though Ahni does, briefly, then follows it with a smirk for his comment about over his dead body and a challenging gaze from her grey eyes. That’s wiped away with his next expression and comment and the redhead purses her lips, and squares her shoulders, preparing for a fight. That’s when Seren interjects, “It’d look too conspicuous, and from what you are all wanting to safeguard against, we will need to keep it discreet. I have a way I can get the letter over to Tillek quickly, but without drawing attention. Leave that to me. More importantly, how do I get word back down to you two here in a timely manner when I have more information?” Ahnika opens her mouth and then closes it, thinking, and finally saying, “Perhaps let Brahceer stay here for a couple sevens and then when Nara takes her back,” ‘if’ Nara takes her back, “she can bring the news back with her, unless you think it will take even less time than two sevens.”

Aaaand up goes that brow again, and Max meets that 'dem's fighting words' look and posture Ahnika takes to with a challenging look of his own. Because hey, look over there at what Nara brought back the last time she was sent to deliver a message. Well, actually, he's not displeased by Seren's presence, he is in fact pleased for having gotten the chance to meet the woman responsible for having helped shaped the woman that his Ahni is. He's simply still smarting a little for having been caught off guard like he had. It's the older woman's words that have a look that is at once both approving and curious settling on her and has him breaking his silence. "Or…" and he offers alternative suggestion should the need arise for it, "if there's a reply ready sooner than two sevens, your friend can seek out a laundry girl up at the Hold by the name of Elia. She'll get the message to us if need be." He choosing to rather keep Auren as below the radar as possible given her already precarious position as Little Bit's nanny.

The two women lapse quiet at the alternative suggestion, and but it is Seren who speaks up first, “That should be fine.” And if something goes amiss, she’ll improvise. Midwives know all too well how things rarely go as smoothly as expected. Ahnika just nods, seeming to not find anything objectionable about the plans or the contingencies for them. She stares at the tray of juice for a moment and then looks up and across at Seren, “Can you stay long enough to have supper with us? I’d like for you to meet Indira, too, and give you a tour of the Weyr.” But Seren is already shaking her head sadly, “We had three newborns in one morning, Ahni.” To which even Ahni goes a little bug-eyed in surprise, and Seren continues, “I can’t leave Brielle up there alone for long. But,” she settles a warm, motherly smile on Max and adds, “I fully expect you and Max to bring her along with you when you’re able to leave the Weyr and come up to spend dinner with us, or even longer, if …” if one doesn’t mind sleeping on the floor or the ground outside, “… if it all works out for everyone to stay,” Seren says humbly, and then stands up, “Now, where’s your noble Jhath?” She smiles again, and somewhere outside is a dragon’s obnoxious trumpet. Ahnika is reluctantly asking Jhath to bespeak Inefredath and getting up from her seat, trying not to let her disappointment show over Seren having to leave so soon already, but those who know Ahni well could tell in just the way she holds herself as she moves from out behind Max’s desk, and the softer timbre in her voice. “She’s just outside,” Ahni says, reaching a hand for Max’s as she steps toward the door.

Already knowing what the answer to Ahnika's question is likely to be due to his earlier conversation with Seren, Max lays a hand to the redhead's shoulder and gives it a light squeeze when it comes. That smile sent his way from the journeywoman is met with a similarly crafted one of his own, edged only lightly with hesitance, for having his mother hanging about was not a part of The Plan. However, his reply is given with a respectful dip of head, "I'm sure she'd be honoured, Ma'am." The humble manner in which the matronly woman ends off the offer to stay over has him tipping a curious look her way and he turns a smile first to Ahnika and then back to her mother, "If it wouldn't be too much trouble, we'd love to." Answering for both himself and the weyrling, though he can't speak for the Headwoman. Stepping aside as the redhead stands and reaches for his hand, the beast manager laces his fingers between hers sending a silently understanding look as they head out toward the feeding pens. To the journeywoman and feeling it his responsibility to do so despite whether or not she's Ahnika's foster-sister and not his, "If your Brahceer's to be staying I'll be sure to have Ma get her settled and keep an eye on her while she's here, Ma'am." Really, he's worried about Nara and any other flirtatious overly forward dragonrider that might seek to corrupt the country girl. Pottle moment much, mister? Ahem.

The squeeze to her shoulder earns Max a sad smile, but a smile nonetheless, and then Ahnika is nodding in agreement with Max, and reiterating his own words, “As long as it’s no imposition, yes. Maybe we can even help out a bit about the cothold, as things need doing, while we’re there.” To which, undaunted at the prospect of yet more people to feed and shelter, Seren simply nods, “Of course! The more the merrier.” And then some. Ahnika knows well enough to be sure to pack her own bedroll when that trip comes, and she’ll tell Max the same at some point, after Seren has left. As the exit the beast caverns and pass the feeding pens and back into the summer sun, Seren squints and immediately turns her attention to the tall and stocky green dragonet, just a couple months shy of a turn old now, but she is nodding and answering Max’s last first, “Thank you, Max. That’s very thoughtful and I appreciate that.” She’s not as worried as he is, but then, he knows Nara and some of the other more corrupting forces at the Weyr better than she does. Jhath only needs to take a couple steps of her long stride before she is in front of the trio, and she reverently bows her head to Seren, Jhath’s poise remaining stately and dignified while Seren smiles up at her, saying genuinely, “The honor is all mine, Jhath,” seeming able to grasp the body-language swiftly without Ahni needing to translate, “I’ve heard so many good things about you. I know you will take care of Ahnika in those skies.” As for Ahnika, she gives Max’s hand another little squeeze and smiles over at him while Inefredath circles overhead, apparently having taken off to await Nara and Cee outside the Living Caverns, and bringing them back now. She comes in for one of her typically precise and gentle landings, shaking out her wings a bit while Nara and Cee unhook themselves from her straps and slide off to the ground.

If Max is starting to become a little conflicted as more of his Plan seems to unravel with Ahni looking set to spend longer than just a night back home at the cothold and help out about the place, he doesn't say as much. In fact, he's mind's busy working a mile a minute to come up with something that works for all. And so when the 'ding' of the 'lightbulb' moment hits him, he turns out a slightly enigmatic grin in response to Seren's 'The more, the merrier' bit. The more, the merrier….indeed! Inclining his head slightly in the journeywoman's direction, "Most welcome, Ma'am." The smile sent in return to the redhead's is warm, with him returning the squeeze to her hand and then setting his attention between the incoming Inefredath and the herdbeast lowing and milling about in anxious circles in the pens beyond, clearly thinking the green is coming back for another snack. Nara is given a wary look and Cee something less so, "So what do you think of the Weyr so far?" both amused and interested to hear the teen's response.

Oblivious to Max’s plans or The Plan as it were, Ahnika simply grins as Jhath snaps her wings out in a kind of warrior’s salute to Seren in true ‘Yes, ma’am’ form. Thankfully, dragons have that inherent ability to avoid collisions, and so Jhath was well-aware of Inefredath’s proximity as she landed. Jhath turns her attention to Cee next, giving a short but loud burst of a friendly bugle in greeting, which momentarily stalls any response from the younger teen, who looks at Jhath uncertainly until Jhath bows her head at her, too. Inefredath, just because she can, trumpets a reply back to Jhath, and between the two greens, it’s probably not helping the nervousness in the feeding pens. Still, they remain outside of them for now (Jhath might have her meal after the others leave, should Ahni and Max wish to talk alone). When they are all finally joined by Nara and Cee to be in speaking distance without having to shout over the dragons, Cee grins and first closes the distance to hug Ahnika, “Ahnika! Is this your dragon? She’s so lovely!” And Ahni seems a little surprised by it, but returns it just the same. “Good seeing you, too, Brahceer,” Ahni says, and Nara comes up with, “She’s Cee now. A much better name than a woman’s undergarment.” Seren and Ahni both look at Cee for confirmation of that, though this isn’t the first time Seren’s heard the nickname or even used it, since Nara found them earlier. The younger teen just grins sheepishly and shrugs, “Cee is easier anyway.” And then she looks to Max, finally answering him, “Oh, it’s so large!! So much space here! I mean, there’s a lot of people here, too, but there seems to be room for them all, and everyone has something to do,” well, everyone has something they are supposed to do, “Just like at home. No wonder you like it here, Ahni.” Cee says, and Seren is looking about as amused as Max by now, and asking, “Did you want to stay a couple sevens, Cee?” Seeming unaffected by the change in name. “Oh, could I? Just for a couple sevens maybe? There seems to be so much to learn and do and figure out.” She seems to be asking Seren first, though including everyone else around them in the question. "If that's what you'd like to do, and they don't have a problem with it," Seren is already saying, her smile warm and encouraging.

Jhath's snapping salute of wings is given a crooked smile from Max who continues to keep an eye on the activity in the feeding pens. The last thing he wants to have to do is replace fencing should Jhath decide on having her meal after the others leave. There's far more important and interesting things to do, like snatching some time alone with Ahnika. Disengaging his hand from the redhead's that she might greet her foster-sibling in proper manner, dark eyes flare with amusement and the beast manager is having to affect a cough to hide the snicker that wells up for Nara's comment on Cee's full name resembling that of a woman's undergarment. Attention then lands on Cee as she answers him, "Aye, that it is. Easy to get lost at first if you ain't careful." He looked set to add more and then she and Seren are talking. At the end, once it seems decided that the younger girl may stay, the beast manager puts a glance first to the journeywoman and then to Brahceer, "I'll introduce you to the Headwoman and she'll get you settled and find you something to do…" pausing and then adding to his last, "That is if you want to. As a guest of the Weyr, you're not expected to work while you're visiting."

Settling back into attentive observer modes, both green dragons’ eyes swirl a mixture of blue and green as they watch and listen to the conversation near the feeding pens, neither one of them seeming inclined to go after any of the nervous herdbeasts in the pens. Ahnika agrees to Max’s comment on the Weyr being large enough to get lost in at times, if one’s not careful. She grins a bit to Max volunteering to introduce her foster-sibling to his mother, and then looks back at Cee for her answer. Genuinely seeming to mull it over a bit, Cee responds with, “Well, of course I’d be happy to help out. I’m not sure what I’d be good at in a Weyr, but maybe after a couple days of exploring, I’ll have an idea? Unless the Headwoman needs me somewhere in particular, naturally.” Unlike busy-bee Ahnika, Cee isn’t above enjoying some idle holiday time getting to know the place and soaking it all in at her own easy-going pace. “Thank you,” Cee says on an excited exhale, “I’ll go back with Seren so I can pack a bag, and then return here with Nara, if that’s okay.” Seren nods to that, and looks to Nara, who smiles one of her bright, dazzling smiles, “Of course, Darling! I’ll help you pack. I know just the sort of warm-weather clothing you’ll need.” Yeah, as in nothing but a turn-day suit, probably. Nara starts to make her way back over to Inefredath, putting her gloves and cap back on, and Cee gives Ahni another quick smile and offers to shake Max’s hand in a somewhat rushed manner, but given her age and excitement, it might be overlooked. Seren follows Cee in giving Ahni a hug, though her embrace with the redhead lingers a lot longer, and then she is pulling away and moving to give Max a hug now, once Cee has already started back to Inefredath’s side. “Take good care of each other, you two, and I will see you in another few months, if not sooner.” Ahnika squeezes the Healer a bit longer, too, in kind, and murmurs, “Thank you for visiting. I know it couldn’t have been easy to do on such short notice, but I’m glad you came.” Once farewells have been made, unless something prevents them from taking off without much further ado, Ahnika and Jhath will watch the green dragon lift off, and convey the three women back to the cothold she grew up in. After they wink out to Between, a soft, wistful sigh escapes her lips, and she murmurs, “I … didn’t think seeing her again like this would hit me … as hard as it did. I think … I think I missed her, them all, really, more than I thought I did.” Jhath croons knowingly, and returns her attention to her lifemate.

"Sounds like a plan to me," Max gives the younger teen with a smile which slips a tad at Nara's offer to help the girl pack. At least he stops short of actually rolling his eyes and rather sets his attention to giving Cee's hastily offered hand a brief shake, chuckling as she dashes off after Nara. To say he's a little thrown by the hug given by Seren might be an understatement, his frame initially stiff and then the gesture returned somewhat awkwardly. Seems someone's more used to getting smacked upside the head by the motherly types than receiving exhibition of warmth or approval from them. Glancing at Ahnika a soft smile in place, the beast manager's tone and expression however are warm, if not perhaps oddly retiring for the missive given to look after each other, "With my life, Ma'am. It's been an honour." Actually, it was more than a little embarrassing at first, but it all seemed to turn out well enough in the end. Or so he seems to think. As the small party mount up and strap in, Max moves to pull Ahnika in against him, her back to his chest if she allows and wraps his arms about her, watching as the green lifts and then blinks Between. Dropping a kiss to her head on the heels of that wistful sigh and ensuing words, arms tighten about her and he notes quietly, "Ain't no shame in missing 'em, baby. They're family. Just a few more months and you can see 'em any time you want to, aye?" Trying to offer encouragement and then adding with a reflective note to his tone adds, "Your ma's a good woman. Strong. I see where you get it from."

Ahnika is happily drawn into his arms from behind as she and Max watch the green and her passengers depart. Her arms move to rest atop his as he kisses the top of her head. “Mm. Just a few more months,” she agrees, her gaze turning back to Jhath, who is now eyeing the meat in the feeding pens. To his last comment, Ahni goes quiet a moment and then smiles and shakes her head, “I’m not remotely as strong as Seren is,” but she doesn’t do her usual correcting ‘ma’ to ‘foster-mum’ this time, “But thank you.” Jhath moves up closer to the fence and Ahni says, “Well, I have a little bit of time while she eats, if you’re not too busy? That juice in your office looked nice and cool.” Or at least it was then. It might have warmed up a little bit while sitting there.

With Jhath eyeing the meals on hooves milling about the feeding pens, Max takes a step back, arms loosening from about Ahnika and a hand sliding to find one of hers as he sets an intent look on her, "You're plenty strong, Ahni. You just don't see it like others do." The others being himself, Indira and possibly just about anyone else that's gotten to know the redhead. At her noting that she has some time on her hands while her green hunts, his mouth curves around a pleased line and he's soon leading them back into the beast caverns noting as he tugs her in against his side, "Always got time for you, baby."

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