Never Tied Down


Jaya.jpg Rocio.jpg

Date: August 22, 2010
Location: Bar, EW
Synopsis: After a late night meeting, Jaya happens upon Rocio and the two share their stories over wine. Jaya gains a much-needed confidant.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Jaya

Nights ago… Same night of She Who Chops Up Men and Real Fear

This night, Rocio will come in, looking paler than usual, fairly late in the night, and request not a glass, but a bottle of wine. This time, she will pay, with shaking hands, and will slip back out again before anyone has a chance to question her.

——Present Day

It's late. Late to the point that the bar is closed, and its floors have been long sweeped. Suli's retired already, and its bar owner should have done so as well but the scarred-faced woman was up and at one of the tables - awake. She sits facing the entrance with a half-filled glass of something dark set out before her, along with a dark bottle beside it and an unfolded sheet of hide set right infront of her. Jaya's not looking at either of these things, however. She's staring at the non-descript-looking man sitting right across from her, talking in low tones as he reaches over and slides her something folded as he gets to his feet. "I hope you weren't caught," perhaps anyone at the quiet entrance at this time of night could hear the bar owner say to him, the woman already sliding marks across the table along with her cold steel gaze.

Usually Rocio's entrance is preceded by a sort of ethereal glow. This night, however, she's running short on healthy glows and evidently very late, so she'd been pacing along by the dim light of the existing fading glows and her basket sits a good sixty or so paces behind her when she nearly turns in toward the bar. The odd scene, though, stops Rocio at the threshold; she listens to what she hears, before stepping more into the shadow.

"I'm never caught," the man grunts, his large hand scooping up the marks as he rakes his gaze over Jaya in the process. "Dunno why you can't do the job yourself, though, Dicori." He takes a step away from the table, signaling an ending to their late meeting as he throws a look around him. Evidently both had miss any tall-tale signs of a hanger-on by the entrance, the two more caught up in the uneasy silence among them. Jaya frowns heavily at the man for his words, taking up the folded hides he's given her. "One foot in Bitra and I'm dead," she drops on him, cold. "You took long enough to get me this, though," and the hides get lifted up briefly. "Though I understand the Weyr was on lockdown, but…" there's a sigh, and the woman hauls herself to her feet. "Thank you, just the same. For this. Now scram." The order sets the man to chuckling derisively, executing a bow to her before he turns on a heel and heads towards the entrance.

Several turns living at Lord Crom's residence, which has always been heavily guarded since Fax had made his ill-fated attempt to conquer Pern, has taught Rocio real stealth. She slips back, soft-padding, until she's a good few glow's distance away from the entrance to the bar, then she's turned to it, and she's working the fading glass from the alcove. She's obvious, and will be obvious, when the man walks out. So will her basket, a decent length down the hallway.

With the man walking over the threshold, but manages to stop in his tracks at the signs laid bare. Frowning, his eyes land on Rocio for a long moment, his gaze turning dark. In that next breath, Jaya's at his side, peering passed him at what got his attention. Her own eyes landing on the candidate, "I said scram," she gives the order to him again, and that sets his feet to motion. With heavy steps, he walks right past Rocio, never taking his eyes from her until he was well enough down the hallway. "A quiet one, aren't you?" the bar owner's husky alto rings out now, watching Rocio intensely. Arms folding across her chest in that long pause afterwards, "How much did you hear?" she asks then, evenly.

If she's good at sneaking, Rocio is nigh well excellent at acting. She actually jitters slightly, as if startled, when the man comes within the circle of the dimming glow, and she'll turn to look right back at him, before hearing Jaya's voice. "Good evening, Jaya. The glow solution didn't get changed, so I'm doing every few, instead of every one. I'm thinking that this one is probably the most vital. And the basket's just too heavy at this time at night. Hear what?"

Silence. Rocio's words are met with a long silence as Jaya takes to leaning against the wall, watching her. She doesn't watch the man's disappear down the hall, her eyes narrowing slightly at words given. "Most vital at this hour?" she directs then about the glows, a brow lifting slightly at that. Perhaps the paranoid in her doesn't buy it, but she doesn't let off her suspicions all the same as she answers the question with, "Nothing at all, Rocio. Nothing at all." Boots scuffle against the ground, signalling to a shift of weight. "When you're done, have a glass with me," she seems easy on directing orders this night. "Unless you want a whole bottle." Beat. "Like that other night."

"Right. If you had six glows left, and the corridor from here to the main living cavern, would you put one here?" This particular glow, in fact, tends to highlight the slight curve to the tunnel; it may well be a particularly important one. She nods, to that. "I'd like that. Thanks. Been a long day." She'll step back, eyeing the other lanterns between her current position and the glow basket, as if mentally marking the other glows that are slated for changing. Then she'll send a quick look over to Jaya, with a nod, and step off to another glow, about three down, to open that and pull the beleaguered orb out of that one as well.

"Uh-huh," Jaya is saying to the explanation on the glows, blinking once at the one in indication. "Then I should be thankful you are here to keeping lighting my way so I won't get lost," she drawls, a quirk to her lips in her faint amusement. Once Rocio agrees, she returns the firm nod and settles even more against the wall - watching the whole process with idle curiosity.

"It's a job, sweetie." Rocio returns, a certain genuine weariness to her words. The stresses on the Candidates has been slowly growing. The wondering. The hoping. And that, all awash with the lingering horror of the broken eggs.

Rocio moves with adept dexterity, changing the glows, and her steps scuff just slightly, all at natural points of a walk that seems immune to fears of detection. Each glow is set out, and two are reserved, before Rocio hefts the basket that somehow seems to weigh far more than when she started out this evening. She'll head toward Jaya, and unbidden, into her bar.

Catching the weariness, "A job that keeps you up, all the same," Jaya says, straightening off of the wall once Rocio comes toward her. "I can sympathize with that, though, I can at least close the bar at a decent time, here." She leads them into said bar, taking up the thick folded hides once she reaches the table. She doesn't stop there, however, moving towards the back of the counter to bend and retrieve another glass. "We didn't get to talk much, last time," she notes idly, returning to the table and setting the glass down in favor of the bottle. "You seemed…tense." She pours, her dark eyes seeking out Rocio's then while doing so.

"Yes. Thank you for not asking questions. I was not up to… It. I… This Candidacy means more to me than I can say, Jaya. And I was afraid I was going to be kicked out. That… Is what prompted my needing to just drink myself to sleep, so I could sleep at all. Have you ever… Had the thoughts so loud and fast, spinning around, that you know you'll never sleep? No matter how exhausted you are?" Rocio sets her basket near a table, instead of one one like usual, and she settles into a chair with a weary slump.

The glass is filled, and Jaya passes it on over to Rocio before pausing at the words. When she hears the content of the words given, especially the questions, a frown starts on her face and she releases the glass to go over and claim her own. Settling down into her chair across from Rocio, "Why?" she asks the one word, regarding the other intently. "Why does this candidacy mean so much to you, Rocio? Why would they ever think to kick you out?" So much for not asking questions. To the questions asked, however, "Hardly a night has gone by, for me," she answers heavily, seeming far too experienced with this particular subject as she stares back at her glass. "Even drinking, the thoughts never always go away. They'll come back. That's their nature, is it not?"

"Yes." Quietly spoken. "Yes. And because… I was raised to be wife of a Holder, minor or major. I had a place. I had a duty. I had … I had … Maybe I had everything another girl dreams of, but it was not my dreams. I fell in love, and not to the man to whom I was married. And… And maybe I would do it different now. Or maybe I would not. But what I did… Made me holdless. And Eastern Weyr gave me a chance. A place, again. I don't want to leave again. Being a Candidate," Rocio nods her thanks for the glass and takes a sip before she continues, "Gives me a chance at a dragon. If I have a dragon… I stay." Her gaze picks out, even in the dim light, the scoreboard on the wall. "Are there bets on me, yet, Jaya? I'll put money down on Neythan. He'll Impress bronze."

"You killed him." It's spoken quietly, firmly. Jaya drinks heavily from her glass, tipping it back almost before setting it back down audibly. A finger tracing the rim of the glass now, "Something happened, and you killed him. I'm….sorry." Meeting her eyes, "I think I understand you now," she says soberly, her gaze seeming to reassess Rocio anew. "Being reformed. Being here. You want a place to belong - a place that doesn't judge. You could still have that with or without the dragon." Nodding over towards the betting board, "I put no stakes in Impressions," she adds. "If this is your place, Rocio, then it will be regardless of the outcome. You don't have to be alone." Oh look. Jaya's the advice-giver once again! Her eyes seek out the betting board again, frowning a bit at it before shrugging. "Haven't really given it much look since it arrived," she admits rather sheepishly, but then Neythan's name is mentioned and she's pinning a long look over at the candidate. "I met him, here," she remembers, nodding. "I remember you two seeming awfully close, too." Not much seems to escape the barkeep.

"I trust him." That is, in fact, a huge admission. A huge step forward from where she was, once upon a time. "I don't ever want to marry again. Never." She does not deny the accusation, which, given the accusation may be tantamount to admission. "And I guess I don't trust them… Anyone… To keep me around. But I guess Alara knows already. I guess all the dragons know, now." Rocio takes another sip, then draws her finger around the edge of the flute glass, drawing that eerie moaning sound from it. "Neythan knows."

Jaya regards the woman across from her for that admission for a moment, then slowly inclines her head to it. "It's good to have someone to trust," she seems to agree with that admission, reaching for the bottle to refill her own glass. "It's hard when you've been betrayed before, shuga. As for the rest of them…." She leans back against the chair in the lingering pause. "Well. If it's such a problem, they wouldn't even let you stand, right? Cuz, then you become -their- problem if you Impressed. And, it's not like you cause trouble around here. You don't -seem-, anyway. 'Sides," she adds, letting a lopsided smirk grow on her face, "They gotta problem with you, I'll vouch for you. Least I can do, you know?" To marriage, there's low laughter from the bar owner, the woman raising her filled glass as if in a toast before drinking from it. "I hear you on that one, shuga! To -never- being tied down."

There's another long silence, and perhaps the working of that rare sip of booze on a couple nights of near-little sleep, and a lot of stress. Rocio finally speaks again, "If I were to do it again, I would have run away before the wedding. Refused it. Instead of… What happened." Her eyes, incredibly expressive even in the absence of the the rest of her features' accenting those expressions, flick away, then toward Jaya again. "The Holdless were very good to me. If I have to, I will go back to them. But I have a Holder's fear of Thread and being out without walls around me, in it… Memorable. And I never want to do that again. You traders… Good people, for taking in as you do, whomever they run across. And not taking advantage of them." Rocio raises her glass and touches it lightly against Jayas, "No marriage. Indeed. Friends be cherished. Husbands avoided."

More silence meets quiet admissions, the scarred-faced woman keeping a solemn expression on her features. Frowning a bit as she bows her head to her glass, "What would drive a woman to kill?" she asks carefully, seeming to choose her words. "There's plenty I would have loved to stick a knife to throat to myself. One, especially. But. To actually go through with it…" she shakes her head to that, perhaps harboring such thoughts for awhile herself. With the holdless and traders, "We Dicoris never failed in taking folks in," she agrees, nodding at the compliment. "We hope the same regard is always given to us, see. My father always made a note of that with us." Once the glasses touch, Jaya sets wine to lips and wipes with the back of her hand. "Husbands would likely be in too much trouble with women like us, anyway," she drawls on that, sending a wink Rocio's way. "One that kills, and one that swindles. Quite the pair, aren't we?"

"There's no pride in it. I… Simply wasn't going to live like that. And since the fault did not lie with me, I saw no point in killing myself. After he…" She exhales, and drains the rest of the wine, setting the glass back down near the bottle, mute request for a refill. "Swindler. You've done right by me. More than that. I owe you, Jaya." Secrets kept, an easy part of that debt, by Rocio's reckoning. "He beat me up, because I would not come to him willingly. And took what he wanted. He was frustrated, because he knew I never wanted him. They threatened my family's Holdings, if I did not accept the marriage. So I accepted. I was on the tail end of sixteen. They kept me in prison until my child was born. I still do not know if I had a daughter or a son. They branded me, cut me, and left. You show yours openly." Rocio gestures to the mirror cheek of Jaya's cut. "I do not. I can't stand looking at the scars."

"Words spoken never leave this bar, shuga," Jaya says, nodding a few times at Rocio on secrets kept. Rocio's explanation for what happened, for the reason the veil is in place, gives the woman pause. The glass stills from it reaching her mouth, her face turning grave at the telling of it. "Bastard," she grits out on the man, the glass being set down heavily. "He's lucky death was what he got, then. Torture would have been far more fitting." Her lips thin at her own angry outburst, shaking her head against it before she looks over at the candidate. "And so the child is gone, with no way of knowing where he or she ended up," she seems to conclude. "You're a strong woman, Rocio. Far stronger than me." Mention of the scar has her placing a finger to it, letting out a quiet snort. "My arrogance," she admits openly on it, her eyes on Rocio's veil. "Perhaps I want him to see what I will do to him when I see him again. Perhaps I'm just crazy." Perhaps all of the above.

"My child is with Crom." Capital letter Lord Crom. "He or she might stand to inherit, depending on what happens to that insane family." Her voice is low, quiet. "My husband was not the first in line to inherit. But tragedy can strike quickly." Rocio regards the other woman's scar, and asks, finally, "What did he do to you?"

Hearing of where the child is, Jaya blinks once and her head tilts a fraction. "It's a risk keeping him or her with them," she notes, gravely. "If they're -that- off their runners. Seems like Crom breeds all kinds of trouble, though." Oh yes, Jaya seems to know of that area well. At Rocio's question, though, there's a long pause - the woman considering the other in the silence before speaking. "Heist goes wrong, I hear he wants to throw me under the wagons, of a sort," she explains, her eyes going a little unfocused. "I was young. Stupid. Hot-headed. Had the gall to humiliate him infront of his associates. Told him where he could stick his knife if he thought he was really going to roll on me and get me sent to the mines. He attacked." Her jaw tightening at the memory, "He carved my face enough before I clocked him a good one and took that precious knife of his. Been on the run ever since." Eyes focus and look sharply on Rocio now. "My story isn't like yours, I'm afraid," she drawls, a small smile forming. "Just one criminal fucking over another, but that's the name of the game isn't it?"

"I should have changed my name." Rocio returns. "When you kill one of Lord Crom's sons… Don't think they'll settle for the judgement made by the Harpers that came in for my trial." Rocio reaches to draw the cloth that hides her face, from it, and lets it drape down from shoulder to table. The dim glows reveal that she has a scar that matches Jaya's, slicing rudely down from jawbone to nearly her chin, marring what was once a beautiful face. But unlike Jaya, Rocio wears its mirror image on her other cheek. The woman reaches for the bottle, to top off both her own and the bar-owners cup with beverage, before she'll set the bottle back down again. "There is a reason I went to the farthest settlement from the North that I could, Jaya. If I Impress a dragon… Perhaps even his assassins will be called off." She draws a long breath, "To being smarter now, than our stupid, hothead selves of a few turns ago." Her glass is raised toward Jaya.

"Changin' names don't do no good, shuga," Jaya seems to know that, shaking her head to it. "If they wanting you bad enough…." Setting her glass back down, she feasts her eyes on Rocio's face once the veil gets taken away. Her chin lifts some at it, her usually guarded eyes one of understanding and acknowledgement. "The scar is who you are now," she says slowly, serious. "A part of you, like mine is. We both got the short end of the sticks, here, but it ain't the end." She inclines her head when Rocio pours more wine into her glass, "Do you really think they wouldn't kill a dragonrider?" she asks now, shooting a glance her way before taking up her glass once more. "They'll come, anyway. Eventually. Just like Vaput will come for me." It's the first time she's ever said his name in public at the Weyr, perhaps an indication that she was regarding the other woman as a trusted equal now. Lifting her glass to Rocio's and touching, there's a wry grin and a dry, "Haven't kicked the hot-headed bit, but I'm hoping I'm not so stupid now like I was then. Still. Nice to finally have someone to talk to about this, other than my guard," and there's an incline of her head to Rocio, full of quiet respect.

"It'll be harder. If I'm a dragonrider. A man who might kill a woman might hesitate to kill a woman and her dragon. And a man who might kill a Holdless woman, might hesitate to kill a woman whose Weyr will come after him. The sort of men who kill others for money… Are not those who take chances. If they are not careful, they will never collect their money." Rocio draws a long sip off her wine and ruminates for a moment, before speaking again, "Your guard?"

"Ah." Jaya understands this logic, fingers lacing together before her. "You have a point. Part of the reason why I accepted on here this bar. Figured Vaput wouldn't be -that- daring, should his eyes turn down this way. Seems like coming here was a smart move for you," she notes lightly. "I'm….still not sure with me. I think I've survived this long by being on the move, so….me staying here too long…" there's hesitance here, guarded, before she brings the wine to her lips. "Suli," she gives the name with ease. "My barmaid. Keeping her eyes and ears open for me on the Bitra front. Thought I hired her for her obvious good looks and bar cleaning skills?" She snorts at the tease. "She's here on favor of a friend, Telgar way. Perhaps you should talk to her sometime. She might be able to help keep you in the know on Crom."

"Be nice to know the gender of my child. But sometimes I think… It's probably better this way. That I don't know. I am," Rocio murmurs, "Happy here. As happy I've been since before the whole mess started." She takes another long drink, and considers what she's been told. "I didn't want anyone to know. "F'min's dragon thinks I'm going to kill F'min." There's real weariness in Rocio's tones. "I was hoping I could run away. Should have changed my name, but it's all I have left from my family. So I keep it." She nods, and she will linger, likely late into her own work'day', to speak of more mundane things with Jaya. Only when she rises to leave, will Rocio refasten her veil, and with a light touch on the other woman's arm, thank her for the talk, and the wine.

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