Not A Simple Woman


Bowen.jpg Jaya.jpg

Date: 9/29/10
Location: EW: Beast Cavern
Synopsis: Jaya and her new bodyguard come looking for Max. They find Bo instead and the bar owner and Bo get reacquainted more properly.
Rating: PG-13 - Language
Logger: Bowen

While he had been told to take it easy once Cheusia released him from the infirmary, Bowen still had a couple of days of work to catch up on, even with the other tanners taking up some of the extra work between them. And so it is late evening when Bowen is found returning to the beast caverns, this time with a handful of bridles and leads bound in a leather wrap and slung over his shoulder. He greets any stablehands still about with a simple quiet nod, which likely includes Waine as much as the big tank of a man (even compared to Bowen) has been keeping guard for Max lately. Bo would normally just go into the tack room to drop off the bundle of repaired bridles and leads, but he doesn’t even try. Instead he knocks once on Max’s “office” door and with no answer forthcoming, he dangles the bundle over the other side of the door and lets them drop harmlessly to the ground. He could leave at that point, but the man has some affection for his faithful Strider, and makes his way toward his gelding’s stall before he departs fully.

At this night, the stables are about to get surprise arrival. Without fanfare, Jaya enters the place in her usual bar-running attire, and there's nothing stealthy about it. She walks in a few paces before the stable door open again and a tall, dark-featured man with ebony curls around his face steps in quietly. He shoots a keen look around the place before he settles a few paces behind and to the side of the bar owner, saying not a word as she slowly walks down pass the stalls and towards Max's office. The stablehands there currently only get a single nod from her, nothing from the male shadow trailing her, and if she's noticed Waine near the tackroom she's currently hasn't chosen to acknowledge him.

As Bowen is walking away and hearing those non-stealthy footsteps approaching Max’s office, he draws to a stop in his usual time-taken manner and turns slightly to be able to look behind him without turning all the way around and without actually craning his neck over his shoulder either. More a 45 degree angle. Having spent many a turn hunting, he knew well enough how to assess weight of a creature by footsteps and so before he turned he knew it wasn’t Max returning, and was half-expecting, curiously, to encounter some green weyrling come to say goodnight to her man. So, with eyes somewhat shadowed by the brim of his hat, Bowen takes in the bar owner and her shadowing companion in mild surprise. The swelling of his chin is long gone, but the purple-grey and yellow bruise left from Kaskan’s uppercut is still visible, along with the little scab of the cut to his lip. “Th’ Beast Manager ain’t in,” Bowen rumbles huskily, finishing his turn to face her more in the aisle. One hand settles easy-like at his hip while the other lifts to his hat, tipping it politely, “Ma’am.” The man behind Jaya merely gets a polite nod with his blue eyes giving him a little longer assessment before returning attention to Jaya. If he is nervous at all about encountering the bar owner here, the stoic man shares none of it on his expression.

When Jaya looks up towards Max's office the further in she walks, she finds her path blocked by the large barrel chest of a man. A familiar one, at that, since her gaze starts from his middle and lifts slowly up to his healing face. Silence meets Bowen's words on the beast manager not being in, though her eyes do narrow in recognition of the man she's now facing. Dark eyes take him in like she was appraising a new vintage, and she seem all that apologetic for it either. Shijan, the man behind her, looks unconcerned on whether Max was there or not, so he merely passes Bowen a wordless nod before looking around for a wall to settle against. It wasn't his business, after all. To Jaya, the man seems nonexistent. "So he's not here….but you are," she drawls that out, briefly stepping to the side of the man to look behind him towards the last stall down there. There's a clicking sound of tongue against teeth as she straightens, the heavy sigh escaping at a trip wasted. "I know you," she says, her dark eyes meeting his once she makes a slow show of raking her gaze down his body - perhaps to unsettle him, which would be her way. "You're the polite one. Paid for my bar's damages. Jaya." She tosses in her name, the glimmers of a smile reaching her eyes but not her lips. "Name's Jaya, shuga. Not proper enough to be called a 'ma'am'."

Bowen can’t help it; a woman looking at him appraisingly like that? Makes him a bit twitchy and it shows. ‘Unsettled’ isn’t the half of it, though perhaps not so much for the reasons she might think. He straightens from that relaxed posture, his broad shoulders squaring a bit, and a frown tugging slightly at the corners of his mouth. The stocky tanner’s eyes briefly leave Jaya, which is perhaps a mistake, only to regard Shijan as he leans against a nearby wall. Merely alert, but inwardly very grateful he’s not alone in the stables right now at this hour with strange people (strange to him anyway) lurking about considering all the other craziness going on in the weyr lately. But Bowen looks at Jaya once again when the woman starts to speak. He even goes as far as stepping aside a little and making a sweeping gesture toward that last stall where Max holds court, so to speak, silently inviting her to go look for herself should she not believe him that Max isn’t there. As she shows glimmers of a smile, his frown only deepens and he crosses his arms over his chest and looks at her, slowly coming with his reply, “As y’say, ‘polite one’.” A lengthy pause before he drawls with a nod, “Jaya. Name’s Bowen. Ain’t sweet enough t’be called ‘shuga’.”

It's highly possible that Jaya's taking Bowen's shiftiness for merely and effectively being unsettled, for the scarred faced woman doesn't let up on her study of him. When Bowen's eyes go for the man settling behind her, her brows lift. It stays that way a little longer when he steps to the side for her to go see Max's office for herself. In one motion she steps pass him, going straight to that door and raising one fist to lightly tap against it a few times. "Hey, Max!" she'll even call out, waiting a few moments for a response that's not coming before she turns to face him. "You're right," she says this as if she wasn't expecting him to be for some reason, approaching him slowly with her dark intense eyes. "Imagine that. Well. You hang around here often? Perhaps you can help me, eh?" She sends Bowen a lopsided grin at the namedrop, nodding once and repeating it. "Bowen. Well met. I sure ain't calling you 'sir'. Why so tittery?" It's certain that that's probably not even a word, but the bar owner's finally calling his odd behavior out with a wave of her hand towards him. "Acting like I'm looking to eat you. Could have done that back in my bar when you trashed it, hm?" Well, he didn't trash it that bad, but Jaya's one of dramatics sometimes.

Bowen is not the least surprised that a woman doubts his word. He’s been dealing with such for turns. Even though these aren’t his beast caverns, tanners and beast crafters and their ilk all run in the same circles for the most part, and Max is quickly becoming one of Bo’s most dependable friends, and so as she moves to check for herself that he isn’t in, Bowen remains where he stands, arms crossed over his chest, posture tense though may appear not as tense as he feels with the way his weight is leaning more on one leg than the other. However, he is positioned so that peripherally, even if he is between them, he is able to keep Shijan and Jaya both in his sights to some degree. To her statement that he is right, the tanner merely grunts a little, verbalizing nothing. In fact, the ‘slow’ tanner doesn’t seem to react to anything more from her for a long time, but his frown does ease a little with her banter. He doesn’t smile, however. Finally, he offers in that husky voice of his the only answer to her handful of questions he chooses to respond to, “Whut d’ya need help with?” Quiet and to the point. Yeah. He’s much more fun when he’s had some whiskey in his system, apparently. At least around women.

"Direct." Jaya folds her arms across her chest, not exactly letting off on her teasing as she gives Bowen her full attention. "Not bad. Makes me wonder what else you can do." Brows lift, then fall before she turns her gaze from Bowen and looks about them as she forms the question she wants to ask. "Lomaxin's keeping a thief in here," the bar owner takes a chance, chin lifting slightly as her tone slips into something more businesslike. "I need to talk to him." She doesn't mince words, either, keeping a straight face as she stares the tanner down. She's also taking a chance that the man would know what she's talking about, and if he didn't then she oddly saw it as no harm done.

Another man might snort at her comment about wondering what else he can do, like some trick performing canine? But Bowen merely watches her, his own arms still crossed, and that frown is back, deepening slightly until she mentions a thief being kept here. To his credit, his blue eyes do not dart reflexively toward the tack room as someone else might, giving it away. But there is a tightening in the corners of his eyes and he is slow to respond, but respond he does, “Y’sure ya got th’ right place, Jaya? I don’t know no Lomaxin,” because he was introduced to him as Max, not Lomaxin. Now, could be he is just that dumb not to make the connection, or it could be he is playing dumb. “And keepin’ thieves is dangerous business, I hear, let alone talkin’ t’ one. Mebbe yer needin’ t’talk t’one of them guards whut’s standin’ ‘round.” He resists the urge to glance directly at Shijan here, not willing to take his attention off Jaya when she is so close, though one can be sure that any movement from that quarter won’t go unheard or unseen peripherally.

"Lomaxin. Max," Jaya puts forth promptly without any pause from her, undaunted by Bowen's response. There must have been a reason why she choose to name Max fully other than just simply 'Max', but she's not supplying the information since there's just a barely imperceptible nod. "And I don't want to talk to a guard. I want that one that's captured. Got business with him. But seems like you don't know what I'm talking about," she muses slowly, eyes narrowing slightly as she was clearly figuring out Bowen's association with Max, "so I'll let off. I'm sure I'll catch Max later on it." Shijan shifts, once, his dark eyes glittering from where he leans as he watches Bowen rather than Jaya now with still no words from him. Letting the pause linger some as she liberally looks about the place, "Haven't seen you before that night, so, safe to say you're a new addition here?" Jaya is asking, briefly shooting a glance his way as she says it. "I'd remember seeing one as you around, otherwise."

It is at the barely caught shifting from Shijan’s direction that the stocky man in front of Jaya moves again, but he keeps his arms crossed, perhaps an attempt to put her unleashed dog at some slight ease. He merely shifts his feet apart a little, balancing his weight on both feet in preparation for another row should Shijan come charging. It kills the wound in his thigh but the only sign of it from Bowen is that tightening in his blue-eyed gaze a little more, which hopefully will just be attributed to the topic of conversation. Once again, Bowen seems to excel at drawing out the pauses between her comments and questions and his responses. His attention remains on her, however, so it’s either the man is truly a simpleton, or he is just extremely careful, or he just likes to frustrate those with whom he is conversing. His stoic countenance betrays nothing, even as she draws the correlation between Max and Lomaxin. The seconds tick by and the silence gets bigger and Bo finally states gruffly, softly, “M’just a simple tanner, ma’a-“ he catches himself, barely, “Jaya. Been here fer a handful of sevendays. Not long, I reckon.” Or so he allows. He says nothing and gives no response to the notion of her remembering him if she had seen him before, merely continues on, “Business with a thief? Well now, sumpthin’ ‘bout that is mighty unsettlin’. He or she musta filched sumpthin’ terrible ‘mportant to ya.”

It's definitely clear that Shijan is watching Bowen, but despite the shift his lean against the wall stays casually neutral. It's his eyes that seem to have that sharp quality to them, not wavering much from the tanner other than to occasionally shoot a long look Jaya's way. Despite his proximity, he seems to be able to hear what the two are talking about as well - though, since he's not actively participating, one would never really know whether he's really listening or not. "Just a simple tanner," Jaya, meanwhile, is repeating that response from Bowen with slow interest. "I see. Been learning no one's as simple as they say they are these days." Lips press together at that, and she, like Bowen on many things, doesn't elaborate. She turns slightly from him then, continuing to sweep her eyes over stalls and places that a captured thief would likely be stashed as she lightly and carefully asks, "You're any good at it? I might have a proposition for you if you take private orders." And to his last? She was looking with mild curiosity towards the tackroom, what she could see of it anyway, when she allows a snort to escape his words. "I'm not a simple woman," she puts forth with dark eyes falling on Bowen then, playing on his earlier words without a smile to grace her lips this time. "And this is not a simple matter. Business is business, regardless of with whom it is with. Surely you can understand that," she drawls this last out, her Bitran accent now slight. "Simple tanner that you are, Bowen."

Despite the recent fight Bowen picked at the bar due to mitigating and extenuating circumstances, Bowen is not really the kind of fellow to start one. He’s more the kind to finish one. And so as long as Shijan is just watching and not actively coming at him or doing anything else threateningly, Bowen maintains his own stance and makes no threatening moves towards either Jaya or Shijan, which if he knew Shijan’s reputation, Bo would probably be grateful at his own good sense there; Shijan would undoubtedly put the stocky tanner back in the infirmary again and probably for a much longer time. Fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be, Bo knows nothing of Shijan, not even by reputation, and so he keeps up the posture without any nervousness or fear, just a careful, cautious regard. Perhaps interestingly, it’s Jaya’s last couple of comments that actually draws a bit more of an expression from the usually stoic tanner, and this is to look a little confused, furrowed eyebrows drawn up slightly before his expressions settles neutral again once more. Poor Bo. He’s really not very good at all this intrigue and subterfuge stuff. He doesn’t seem to acknowledge her look for the tack room any differently from her looking elsewhere in the beast cavern, but that could be because he’s taking his good sweet time trying to come up with an appropriate response as he watches her. “As with anythin’, I reckon whut’s ‘simple’ t’one ain’t so t’someone else,” he drawls slowly, softly, “But last I checked, thievin’s kinda frowned on in these parts. Might be th’ thief yer lookin’ fer s’already been dun staked out’r sumpthin, dependin’ whut ‘e took from ya. Good ole fashioned justice served, I reckon.” There’s a little pause as he continues to watch her, and then says, “I do alright. Ain’t walked no tables, though. Th’ fancy detailed work goes t’one’a dem.” The actual tanner crafters, that is, the ejumacated ‘experts.’

Jaya's pausing, actually considering the response from the tanner that was slow in coming forward with slight interest. Her gaze looking off to the side, the only response she manages to give on his about what's simple is a very thoughtful, "Touche." Eyes finding Bowen's own now, "Thieving's frowned on all parts, shuga. Bowen," she amends, though with after a heavy pause that she does so. "Doesn't mean the person doing the thieving…perhaps some had good reason. Or no choice. Not everything's so black and white, cut and dry." Dark gaze sweeps off him then, not seeming to give notice of his study of her even though she's been doing some studying of him on her own. "Still," she continues after another heavy pause, her voice all business again. "That thief didn't take anything from me. They're not the one I got an issue with. Justice is far from served, Bowen," she adds a bit coolly to him, shaking her head a fraction at him. "Even if they're dead as you say. Don't need no fancy work," she switches to the later topic without warning, turning her intense eyes on him again as she folds her arms across her chest. "Just need me some well-made boots. Only got the pair, and now that I got a bar I'm running, I've got the marks to spare. If you're good for it, we can deal." No mincing words here, since the bar owner detects directness to be the best way to deal with him.

Right about now, the throbbing in his thigh is starting to bother him as he maintains that stiff and prepared-to-spring position. Bowen doesn’t let on voluntarily, but he can’t do anything about the slight sheen of perspiration breaking out on his face. He still has his hat on, however, so it may go unnoticed under his brim. Or it may not. He makes no offer to object to her claims about things being black and white or shades of gray, either he is “corrected” in his perception from her little lecture and doesn’t see fit to acknowledge it, or he simply chooses not to argue. Assuming he was of such opinions in the first place. Once again, he allows her to continue talking and even after she comes to a stop, he lingers there, unspeaking. A few heartbeats pass and then he’s offering softly, “Just so happens I got some hides stewin’ in a brain bath now, matter’a fact, that’ll be good fer boot-work when done curin’. But,” he pauses significantly, “If’n ya got an issue with whoever’s got this thief then,” appearing to make the leap that if she doesn’t have an issue with the thief for him taking anything from her that she has an issue with the thief’s keeper, “I don’t want no part in no jailbreakers, Jaya. Ain’t gonna get in yer way, mind, but don’t look t’me fer help with that. Got sumpthin’ good here,” he allows, which is true and helps sell what he’s saying here, “That what servin’ justice means t’ya, have at it, but without m’help.”

The way Jaya's been studying Bowen something fierce, something like a slight sheen of perspiration gets noticed pretty quickly. She frowns at him slightly, eyes flicking up his forehead before dropping back down to his eyes as she asks, "You alright, man?" She's probably not expecting him to answer that, for she moves on to address his words on justice with a curt, "What…?" She blinks back, frowning more before she shoots the silent Shijan a look behind her. She backtracks mentally on what she had said to give that impression, then she shakes her head and adds, "Break him out? I don't think so." Expression turning a bit austere, "Max can keep him. I just want to talk to him. That's all. Whatever he does with him after that is of little care to me." Giving into a sigh as she lets the austere look fade on him, "Look, I …got something good here, too," she admits, something that perhaps been a tension with her for a good while now. "Not about to mess that up over some dumbfuck thief that wasn't smart enougb to not get caught. Got my own brand of serving justice. As I'm sure you do." Gaze turns pointed at that. "Now. About those boots…"

Bowen would like to wipe his forehead a little, or draw a hand down his face entirely, really, maybe even rub the back of his neck, but the stocky tanner does none of those things, remaining diligent in his stance. It’s apparent that he is paying attention to her, though, as his gaze never leaves her, even as she looks back to Shijan. With another pause, though not allowing quite the lengthy pause as he had been, he shrugs softly, “Then I s’pose ya need ta talk t’Max, Jaya, assumin’ he knows where this thief is at all.” He lets anything else about justice being served go, preferring to give the impression that he knows nothing about it. He also seems disinclined to say anything about whether he is or is not alright. But boots? He’s able to talk about boots, apparently. “Ayup, boots,” he nods, letting his blue eyes finally move from her face, but only to travel down to her feet, “Like those? Or sumpthin’ different?”

"I suppose so," Jaya seems ready to agree on talking with the absent beast manager, finally letting a smirk linger on her lips where none was previously. As to the boots, she looks down at the worn ones she's wearing as well before she looks back up. "Different sounds nice," she answers that with a single nod. "Just something that won't tax me on my feet. I guess, in this, I'm simple after all." There's the smirk in full bloom, though it's only for a few seconds before it's gone. "Do I pay first? Or are you one of those that prefer to make the order first before paying?" Her studying of him is there, the question probably one that leads to learning more about the tanner without really asking. In either case, she remains businesslike and neutral with him for the time being until she heads on out with her shadow.

With her agreement, Bowen leaves off any more talk of thieving or justice or Max and how he or Jaya may or may not be involved in anything of the sort. He’s businessman now, wary and alert businessman with Shijan right there, and to be sure Jaya and her eagerness to hit men with the butt of her knife would have kept him wary and alert on its own. He grunts at her questions, and slowly lifts his gaze back to her face and answers huskily, “Nah, but I’ll need t’know how much material I’ll be needin’ ta use before I can give ya a fair price. I’ll come by th’bar tomorrow with some samples and t’take measurements. If ya end up not likin’ th’boots when they’re done, I’ll just add ‘em t’the weyr stores. No need t’pay anythin’ up front.”

Since the talk shifts solely on business, that's where it stays for Jaya. If she detects Bowen's wariness in the two of them there, she's not saying anything about it as she mulls over his responses long before nodding her assent. "Sounds good," she agrees to him coming by for measurements, already going over the tasks she needs to do or needs to be shifted in order to expect his arrival. "Very well on the paying front, too. We can do business. Suppose I better get going." She turns then, sending Shijan a look that sudden has the man coming to life. He jerks up from his lean sparing the bar owner a short nod before he shoots Bowen a nod himself. "See you soon, then," she drawls to the tanner, allowing herself a lingering crooked grin as she starts to head off towards the entrance. With Shijan taking up somewhere behind her, she looks over her shoulder towards Bowen with a chin lift in farewell, along with a wry, "Be a darlin' and tell Max I was by? And that I need to talk to him. When you see him."

Bowen nods slightly to her acceptance but remains quiet until she makes her departure, nodding to Shijan as the man comes back to life and nods to him first. The tanner then tips his hat in polite farewell to the bar owner as she makes her exit. When he does speak, it is merely, “Ayup,” in acknowledgment of her request for him to pass along to Max that she was by and needed to talk to him. He watches her leave, his eyes politely on her back or the back of her head and not the sway of any hips or her bum itself. Even after she and Shijan are completely out of line of sight, he lingers in the aisle a little while longer, though he does move to lean against one of the nearest stall walls and gets some of the pressure off that wounded leg while he stays. Once he is reasonably certain they aren’t just coming right back with more ‘reinforcements’, he heads back to Strider’s stall and gives the gelding the attention and company he had been planning to in the first place, and should Max not return in that time himself, he’ll be sure to tell Waine or whoever is on guard duty there, to pass the message to Max.

Closing Credits Theme Music: Toby Keith & Willie Nelson – “Beer For My Horses”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License