None Too Happy


Bowen.jpg Max.jpg

Date: 10/22/10
Location: EW: Beast Cavern
Synopsis: Bowen comes to find out what happened to Jinnet and he and Max get on the same page with regards to Max's history with Cheusia, leaving one to wonder if their friendship will survive.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Bowen

Being that Bowen is a regular at the beast cavern at least to check in on Strider and give him a little personal attention, he only had to pass the now unguarded and unlocked tack room the very next day to know there was a change. However, at the time Max hadn’t returned with W’red yet and so Bowen just kept himself alert and on guard, generally speaking, until such a time as he could catch up with Max. He’d been more or less loosely avoiding him for the past seven or so before the tack room suddenly became unoccupied, or at least avoiding any private encounters with him that might warrant broaching a subject he still was mulling over, slow man that he is, and a subject he still wasn’t entirely sure he wanted more detail on. But this was different now. If the runner thief was loose on his own, he had seen Cheusia and might make her more of a target than she might possibly already be. If the runner thief was dead, well, Bo reasoned, that was one less worry off his mind. So two days after Jinnet’s departure, Bowen uses the fact that Cheusia is working a late evening shift to come say hello and find out the latest news. After a quick look-in on Strider, if he doesn’t immediately see Max around any of the stalls, he’ll make his way to the beast manager’s office.

In that seven before he'd headed up to the Reaches in search of a potential assistant weyrlingmaster, Max had simply either had his head up his own ass or in a bottle after the fight with Ahnika and as such had been keeping a low profile himself. As such, he'd let a few things slide with regards to his actual 'day' job. That being paperwork. The bane of most people's lives aside maybe from the Headwoman who seemed to relish it. Which would have him in his office despite the late hour and at his desk, or maybe because of it and the likelihood of being left to work in peace without one or other of his 'hands interrupting with some or other 'disastrous emergency'. Having gotten only a third of the way through what is in need of his attention, he's clearly lost interest already, for he's soon dropping the stylus and leaning back in his chair, hands over his face and exhaling a weary sigh.

Knocking on the door of the stall first, Bowen opens it just enough to poke his head in and see if he is there, ready to pull his head back out if Max isn’t decent or with his girl or something. One hand braces the door a little opened so that it doesn’t just swing back on him and he regards the beast manager trying to get some paperwork done. “Hey,” he says, practically a grunt, really. He’s not grumbling, throwing punches, or brandishing sharp objects, though. That’s a plus, right? His smile is his usual quiet smile, though there’s a telling tension to his eyes. “Welcome back. Ain’t gonna keep ya from yer work,” he nods to the obvious paperwork in front of Max, “j’st wanna know whut’s t’know ‘bout our feller whut was in th’ tack room …” And he’s not being anti-social as much as he is a man who genuinely understands duty and isn’t about to linger if Max really has some work to get done.

The knock to the door has Max palming his hands down his face, a genuine smile appearing when the tanner pokes his head around it. If he's noticing any tension to the man he's likely putting it down to it probably being the end of a long day at the vats for him. "Come in, sit down, distract me," that given as plea along with a grin, only too happy to have legitimate reason not to be giving himself a headache pouring over columns of stock numbers. The grin slips and a soft snort is uttered when the empty tack room is brought up, "Someone decided I needed saving from myself." And as annoyed as he might have been, and still is to some degree, the lengths that Ahnika had gone to in her attempt to save his life (as she saw it), struck a deep chord with him. Dark eyes flicker an assessing look over Bowen, "You been scarce lately," with his company, "Getting some good orders in then?"

Bowen smirks faintly at the request for distraction and comes more fully into the room, but his pace, as usual, is slow. He talks as he makes his way to the chair, though. “From yerself?” He grunts a little more, “How does that work ‘xactly?” He glances in the direction of the empty tack room, and then finally sinks down onto the chair with a sigh that would suggest, in fact, that he’s had a long day. “Some,” he nods a little to the question, “Mostly j’st tryin’ t’keep up with Che’s schedule.” Which is true, but still not the whole truth, “Still ain’t found nuthin’ ‘bout th’ feller whut wrote that note. Reckon I’ll take ‘er with me when I give that bar owner her boots she ordered and see if Che might not spot somethin’ familiar there. Gonna see if I can get them there t’write out sumpthin’ b’fore we leave.” He shrugs a little, as if to suggest that he’s not really expecting it to work too well, but it’s a shot and better than nothing. “So, he’s gone? That thief? I’ll need extra eyes on Che then?” Because as much as he’d like to, he can’t be with her every second of the day.

Dark eyes roll, however it's a self-effacing smile that precedes his words rather than the frustrated anger he'd worn during the encounter with his mother, "By letting my prisoner go apparently." Leaning back in his chair, Max sets his friend with a sympathetic look, "Whiskey?" and then a low chuckle for Bowen trying to keep up with his girl's schedule, "Good luck with that." Toying with the stylus, the beast manager frowns slightly, listening to what the tanner says, "Che hangs around the bar a lot?" assuming that might be where her secret admirer had seen her after his apparent visit to the infirmary, "Didn't figure her for much of a drinker." Clearly not understanding why Bowen needed her along to identify handwriting. Slumping down into his chair with a sigh, he nods, "Aye, he's gone. Probably dead by now too but who knows what he spilled beforehand," pausing and then nodding to keeping extra eyes on Cheusia, "Indira's got a set of eyes in the infirmary but only every second day. You might want to swing passed and have a chat with her about possibly extending that."

Bowen blinks a few times at Max’s first, clearly dumbfounded at this line of revelation. He even takes a little extra longer to respond than usual. “Didja fire ‘im?” Clearly thinking it had to be some bumbling stablehand who just didn’t know the whole story. He nods a little to the whiskey, “Much obliged,” and then smirks at the comment of ‘good luck’. “She ain’t hit me yet an’ she’s mostly stopped badgerin’ me so far, so I reckon I’m doin’ good so far,” and by the sly smirk and twinkle in Bowen’s eye, it’s obvious he means more than just in keeping up with her schedule. Then the smile fades and he just shakes his head, shrugging, “Workin’ on th’ theory that it’s all related t’them folks looking fer that bar owner fer now, so, figured it’d be worth a shot is all.” Not that Bo minds sticking close to Che as he has been. The stoic looks slips into a real frown as Max talks of the escaped prisoner and what that might mean for Che. He just nods, filing it away for now. “So, stick t’th’ plan or are we doin’ sumpthin’ else now?” Being that as far as Bowen’s part of the plan was concerned, it pretty much was just him trying to keep Che out of the line of fire, so to speak, and look for any connections between the person who wrote that note and this plot involving Jaya.

Bowing his head and pinching thumb and forefinger to the bridge of his nose, it sounds suspiciously like Max is chuckling. Dropping his hand away and lifting his head, some of that humor still colors his expression, "Wanted to put her over my knee and spank her but…" then he returned to find her not only injured but curled up in his bed wearing nothing but his shirt and so shoulders lift and fall in a helpless gesture. What's a man in love to do when faced with such a thing? At Bowen's acceptance of a drink, the beast manager bends and extracts the bottle always kept close at hand, and sets two glasses along with it to the top of his desk. Pouring a measure into each he pushes the one over to the tanner with a finger. Taking his own glass up, a smirk meets his friend's sly one, "Women, huh?" raising his glass as if in toast to the two of them being pretty much helpless fools around their respective women. Nodding in agreement to the other man's idea being worth a shot, "Right now all we can do is follow every avenue we have left open to us," and then with a snort, "There ain't no plan at the moment. It ran out the door with that stupid git." Jinnet. Well, that's not entirely true so he adds, "Got some intel that says there might be a farmer around here that knows more about this than he's letting on. Could be the middleman down here. Just got to figure out who." Taking a sip of the amber liquid, he exhales through the burn, "Need a face we can trust to start putting feelers out."

Ah. Not an employee. At least not the way Max is talking and looking. Bo knows that look all too well. Not that he’s ever really considered spanking Che. And as that mere image briefly crosses his mind, the stocky tanner straightens in his chair a little, then his shoulders move slightly with that quiet grunt. He reaches forward and takes the offered glass, lifting to the toast with a wry smile as he finds himself getting comfortable in Max’s presence again. He nods, “Women,” and then he knocks some of the whiskey back, a throaty growl for the burn, briefly, and then he takes a normal breath. He lapses quiet as Max moves onto the more serious matters at hand, well, the more life-threatening ones anyway, as Bo counts Che as a very serious matter of the heart. He nods a couple of times, taking another swig of the whiskey, and then going stock still at the mention of a farmer being involved. A hint of a frown tugs at the corners of his mouth and he leans back more in his chair and looks even more sober than usual. Something struck a note with him and it shows, but the slow tanner isn’t jumping up and down to explain. It’s only after he takes another swig, swallows it, that he asks, “Farmer ya say?”

Before getting back to the more serious business at hand, Max puts a smile over to the tanner, "Things going well there with you and Che?" His interest coming from the point of view that he hadn't really seen or spoken to his friend (either of them) since making the suggestion that Bowen take his lady for a picnic. The easy going countenance slips when he picks up on the tension being exhibited by the other man and so he confirms in slow manner, "Aye…a farmer." With brows edging toward a frown he takes another sip of whiskey and sets a long look onto the stocky man, "You know something I don't?"

Things going well? And then some. Or so says the slow knowing smile from Bowen to Max at the first question, and then, oddly, it fades a little as he thinks about that little something she said of her and Max. So, he clears his throat slightly, drinking the last of the measure of whiskey in that glass and setting the empty glass on the edge of Max’s desk with a little thud, “Ayup. Reckon they are fer now.” Then he leans back in his chair and exhales softly, thinking and not really wanting to put voice to it for fear it might turn out to be true. In his usual fashion, he takes a long time to answer, reaching a hand up to scratch a little at what bit of growth had come in on his neck that day, and then he finally says, “Could be nuthin’. Could be coincidence.” And part of him hoped so as while he wasn’t bosom buddies with Lo, he genuinely liked the guy, “Met a feller … a gardener here who says he’s more a farmer, and he likes t’hang ‘round Jaya’s bar. Said he knows her kin back in Bitra. Or has met ‘em at least.” He frowns, “He’s real friendly. Seemed nice enough, t’me. I remember thinkin’ it was worth notin’ at th’ time that he knew Jaya’s kin, but not worth stakin’ th’ feller out as bein’ wrapped up in it. But now that ya mentioned a farmer’s involved an’ all …” he shrugs, lapsing silent with a thoughtful frown. “Said ‘is name is Lo.”

Interpreting that knowing smile coming from Bo as meaning what he thinks it to mean, Max sends a crooked grin in return, although it does falter a little when that glass thuds to the desk top. He's not about to pry however, assuming the man will speak up for whatever it may be, if he so wishes to. On the matter of the farmer, he goes still, dark eyes trained intently on the tanner as he speaks, his expression darkening with each word as what gets said seems to fit the exact shape of a missing puzzle piece. And so it is, at the end, when Bowen gives out the name of the man he'd been speaking of, there comes a low snarl, "I knew he was no fucking good the moment he walked in here! Sharding son of watchwher's arse!" he goes on to call the farmer several other heatedly choice names as he pushes out of his chair and begins pacing. "No wonder they bloody went after Renegade," although Lorayit couldn't possibly have known the big palomino was his personal runner. Then again, maybe he had known. Turning on a boot heel he pins a look onto his friend, "And you say he knows the Dicori?" Slightly incredulous, "How the shards did you get all of that out of him? Hang him over one of your curing vats?" because he's seriously impressed with just how much information Bowen's just handed over.

The whole matter of Che and Max is put aside for the moment as Max reacts to the information about Lo so vehemently. “Could be nuthin’,” Bo states quietly again, attempting to be the voice of objective reasoning. Unfortunately, Bo’s not really the loud and overbearing type, so it could go unnoticed. When Max talks of Renegade, Bo starts with, “Whut reason would … ohh,” the rest ends in a muttered groan as another piece falls into place. The tanner doesn’t exactly look depressed, but he frowns unhappily at one of the legs of the desk as he adds, “He … wuz talkin’ ‘bout one day ownin’ a runner fer th’ races up north.” Still eyeing the table leg, he exhales a breath and shakes his head a little as if to shake it off, whatever that might be. “Ayup, said he met ‘em when he wuz in Bitra awhile back. Said her pa wuz a trader an’ quite th’ man, if I remmer right. Said it casually ‘nough, like he didn’t ‘ave nuthin’ t’hide ‘bout it. Could be Jaya knows ‘im.” He looks up at Max then, watching him pace, and at the final question, Bo reflects back on his conversations with the gardener, “He wuz drinkin’.” There’s probably more, but Bo is either choosing to maintain the gardener’s confidence about them, or he’s just not seeing them as relevant to this.

"Could be nothing," Max mutters in skeptical echo and adds in his own brief encounter with Lorayit, "Came in here wanting a runner for something or another. Told him the runners were only for use of Weyr residents and that he'd have to get his residency cleared away with Indira first. Never saw him again after that, but a few nights later…" well, the rest is history. Having paced passed back toward his own seating, he turns a look over his shoulder to Bowen, "How many farmers you know that have an interest in racing runners, know the Dicori clan from back in Bitra and know Jaya too, hmm?" Coincidence? Likely not. A grunt greets the response that the farmer turned gardener had been drinking at the time.

“Shit,” comes Bowen’s oh so eloquent response. He’s still not a hundred percent sure Lo’s mixed up in all this, but there’s enough questionable coincidences that he can’t help but admit it looks suspicious. “Kinda like th’ guy, wuz goin’ t’be playin’ cards with ‘im sometime soon.” He runs a hand over his face briefly and says, “I admit it don’t look good, but … we sure it’s a farmer?” He puts his hand down in his lap again and looks back up at Max. “Yanno, if he’s mixed up in alla dis, ya got m’back,” he says huskily, “but it’d sure sit better with me if we make sure first. Whut else we got other than it’s a farmer? Maybe we can figure outta way t’set some kind’ve trap.”

"Mmm," Max gives in agreement with the tanner's response, kicking the leg of his chair in frustration before slumping back down into it again, elbow to its arm and chin resting on the folded knuckles of his hand, a finger tapping against his chin in thought. The man had been right there, under his nose and … well it didn't matter now. What he needed now, was proof. With this in mind he inhales and sets a shrewd look over onto Bowen, smiling a little, "Then play cards with him. He obviously trusts you enough to have told you what he already has. We can use that. See what else he might let slip that'll close the noose around his neck." Realizing that his friend might see that as a betrayal of whatever friendship he's formed with the gardener, he offers an understanding nod, "Aye, she seemed pretty clear on that," dismissing Passan's role as being unimportant in the next link in the chain and looking instead to the farmers to provide answers. Words on figuring out a way to lay a trap, draws an unhappy look onto the beast manager's face, "We've got someone whose gotten themselves in close enough with Jinnet. If need be, we can use her. But she's…currently indisposed for the next few sevens." There being absolutely no ways he'll let Ahnika anywhere near this until he knows she's properly healed. "Figure the best option is your card game with him for the time being, until we've got something more to work with."

Bowen listens to all of that and there’s even a little bit of a longer pause than usual afterward before he nods, preferring the idea that he gets the chance to sort of check Lo out more before they string him up or anything. He considers telling Max about Lo trying to get him to go to Southern, about the man’s brother up north, but instead he just nods in the end, agreeing to it all mutely. If it becomes important to the case, he’ll speak on it. Until then … There’s a mildly curious look about someone, a ‘she’, who got in with Jinnet, the escaped prisoner, and they may be able to use her if need be, but he doesn’t ask. If he is able to put two and two together and come up with Max’s woman, he keeps it to himself. “I’ll let ya know how it goes,” the card game, he says finally. Then he leans forward a little, one elbow resting on his knee, the other hand resting on the other knee, and he asks, “So, … anythin’ else ya reckon I should know ‘bout?” About Lo, or this intel, or … other things.

While Max has come to realize that the tanner's a man of few words picking and choosing even those with care, the man's unusual quietness on the matter of an escaped man they'd taken down, in effect together, has him casting a long and assessing look onto him. Nodding as Bowen agrees to inform him of anything his card game with Lorayit might turn up, eyes narrow lightly at the position taken up and the question put to him from the stocky man, "Something on your mind, Bo?" Maintaining his own seemingly relaxed posture he reaches for his glass of whiskey and waits.

And there’s the direct question. Bowen leans back from his position and crosses his thick arms loosely across his chest. He looks firm and even a little hard, except for the fact that he turns his gaze from Max, indicative of some inner vulnerability he doesn’t want the other man to see. “Right,” pause, “Lemme be specific den. Anythin’ I oughtta know ‘bout yerself an’ Che, Max?” And it’s here that he turns his blue eyes back on his friend, bracing for the ugly truth, if there is any.

Max watches closely, glass raised to his lips and does a bit of a double blink when the tanner's asking after himself and Cheusia. "Er, what?" Of all the things he'd likely imagined it could have been that Bowen might have had playing on his mind, that wasn't it. Recovering and still somewhat bemused by the question in the first place because in all honesty, he's not really putting two and two together here, being as how their tryst had been a one time occurrence, his reply comes across as somewhat baffled, "No? We're good friends and she's like a sister to me, ain't nothing I wouldn't do for her but…" dark eyes meet blue a light frown forming and then smoothing out as he replies earnestly, "she and I, we ain't got nothing going on, Bo. Ahni's the only one for me." And somewhere, faaar off in the distance, a light bulb is starting to come on. But not enough yet for it to really penetrate through to conscious thought.
And while Max isn’t thinking about the tryst they had as being the reason for the question, Bo didn’t exactly know the truth of the tryst to be able to point a more detailed question at him. Not to mention he finds the whole thing a little unpleasant to think about let alone talk about. He nods then, loosening his arms and getting up with a small sigh, “Aw’right,” he murmurs, and seems inclined to leave it at that for now. Another man might poke a little harder, but Bo’s still not completely sure he wants to find out what Che meant by it. It’s only been eating at him slowly these past couple of sevens. He turns to go, his expression clouded, “I’ll have a go at cards with Lo an’ let ya know whut turns up.” Pause. “If anythin’.”

That expression his friend wears as he turns to leave has Max coming to his feet too, "Bo…wait." Genuine concern for the man lifting into place as hands place to his hips, "There something else bothering you? Is it this thing with Lo?" assuming him to be uncomfortable about spying on his gardener buddy. Grasping at straws a little in an effort to find a question that Bowen might answer directly he offers out a few more possibilities, "Something wrong with, Che? Problem at work?" He might be good at putting his foot in his mouth at times but he's come to respect and truly like the stocky tanner, and thus is genuinely interested in his wellbeing.

Even with Max being his buddy, Bowen is not about to tell another man, especially another man who may or may not have been with his woman, that his own performance between the sheets is below the bar of standards. But he turns around on his way to the door and answers the question about Lo truthfully, “He helped m’pick outta flow’r fer her,” Che. Then he shrugs, “We got t’talkin’ an’ shared a drink ‘r two. I ain’t gonna respect a feller whut tries t’kill or kidnap folks or steal runners, but I ain’t ‘xactly hopin’ he’s our fella we’re huntin’ fer, truth be told.” There is a lengthy pause after that and he studies Max long and hard before saying, “Che’s wund’rful,” and then looking away. He’s not wonderful, however, and he leaves that unstated. He does come back with softly, “J’st sumpthin’ she said ‘bout you’an’ her … made me think … mebbe … shells,” he mutters, drawing a hand slowly over his face before just spitting it out, “But if ya say ya ain’t ev’r fucked ‘er, well, then that’s that. I’ll drop it.”

With a nod of understanding, "Maybe it ain't him, aye? Lots of farmers about these parts. Got to be more'n a few that's got connections with Bitra." Not likely, but he'll offer up what encouragement he can if only to help ease that cloud off of his friend. When Bowen just comes right out and says what it is that's bothering him, one can almost see that lightbulb explode inside of Max's head. Shit. In one movement, he's to the door closing it and then back leaned up against it and arms folded over his chest, he goes quiet, head bowed and eyes to the ground. What is the correct way to a question like that? Is there a correct way? Slowly his head lifts and troubled eyes seek out blue as he finally answers quietly and in pained tone, feeling pretty lousy round about now. "Aye. Once. Long before you got here." Sighing heavily arms unfold and a hand brushes through is hair in a gesture of consternation, "Fuck, I'm sorry, Bo. I would never have…If I'd known…" Yeeeah, he's starting to fail pretty miserably there, at a complete loss as to how to make this right with the man. In fact, he'd probably feel a whole lot better if the tanner simply clocked him.

“Mebbe,” Bo says simply, but it comes slowly as everything else he does and so he is warily eyeing Max going to the door and closing it as he says it. His chest and shoulders stiffen with Max’s following words and his fists clench at his sides. “Once. B’fore I got here,” he clarifies quietly, his blue eyes fixed on the beast manager, but now looking at him, or trying to, through Che’s eyes, trying to figure out what Max has where Bo is lacking, other than the obvious.

Max's eyes never leave Bowen's face. Not even to flick a glance down to those clenched fists likely already knowing they're there, ready and waiting because its probably exactly the same way he'd react if the situations were reversed. Lips twitch around an unhappy line but he stands his ground under that gaze coming from the tanner,"Aye. Once." He repeats, a muscle starting to tick in his jaw for the uncomfortable situation. "You gonna hit me, go on and do it. I ain't gonna stop you." Just saying.

Bowen’s jaw works like he’s tasting something bitter, but his eyes never leave Max just as Max stares right back at him. One can almost hear the spaghetti-western gunfight whistle sounding in the background. “Can’t hit a fella whut’s done nuthin’ wrong, Max,” he says in a very deadly quiet and sober voice, “As ya say, b’fore I wuz here.” And therefore, before he and Che were an item. “Don’t need t’speak of dis ‘gain, yerself an’ I,” he murmurs, “But if it happens ‘gain … den all bets are off. Y’hear?” One hand twitches a little at his side and he flexes it, then the other, relaxing the fists for now.

Body language, while tense, still sees Max's hands remaining loosely at his sides and his head moves a fraction in a nod of agreement to what Bowen says last. Except to state low with a frown formed, "Ain't gonna happen again." Pushing his back away from against the door, he sets the tanner with a long look, dark eyes shadowed, "Don't expect you're too happy with me right now," hands pocket and the top of his desk now finds his focus, "But if you need a friend, door's always open," even if now it's currently closed. He gets his girl back only to a lose friend. Isn't life fun!?

Oh, if only Bowen was the emotionally expressive type. He’d probably tell Max that he can relax and that the problem isn’t between himself and Max but himself and his own loins and his insecurity over being able to meet Che’s needs and now having to live up to and even surpass such a standard of masculinity like Max in order to keep her happy? Talk about pressure! Instead, he just nods, watching Max move away from the door. “No, I ain’t,” happy with Max, that is. He grunts a little, “But reckon there ain’t nuthin’ I can do ‘bout it.” Except go directly to the Infirmary and possessively kiss his woman. Grimfaced with pain in his blue eyes, but perhaps not for reasons Max thinks, Bo continues the few steps he was making for his exit, and unless stopped, will slip out without another word.

And if Bowen were to reveal such things to Max, chances are he wouldn't know what to do with them aside from solemnly handing the man his bottle of whiskey and however many after that he might want or need. As such he simply gives a short nod in acceptance of the man not being happy with him, uttering a softly spoken, "Aye," and then watches him leave, a pained expression in place. If it weren't that he's currently trying to break the drink-get drunk-fall down, habit of ensuring sleep, he'd likely go drown himself in a bottle round about now. As it is, you can be sure the beast manager won't be getting much sleep this night.

Closing Credits Theme Song: The Fray - "How To Save A Life"

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