Old Habits


Jaya.jpg Kaskan.jpg

Date: March 26, 2011
Location: The Bar, EW
Synopsis: Kaskan stops by for a drink and to catch up. The two discover new changes in their lives.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Jaya

Evening has crept across the weyr and melted further into night. Kaskan makes his way to Jaya's bar intentionally aiming for the time she usually closes in hopes of finding her alone - or at least minus customers if not her staff. Approaching the doorway he ducks to one side to avoid a pair of swaying revelers singing off-key as they trudge down the hall. A handful of riders follow in short order, laughing and chattering good-naturedly. Kaskan slows, hoping the surge of exiting patrons herald the closing of the bar.

His guess is soon confirmed as a trio of women appear and one slows behind the others to give him a saucy look. "Bar's closed, honey. You lookin' for some company?"

Kaskan gives the woman a passing look and shakes his head, already looking toward the bar. The woman snorts loudly and gives her long blond hair a toss as she turns to catch up with her friends. "Ain't gonna find anything in /there/. Your loss!" Kaskan barely notices as she leaves, his mood set in one direction and not inclined toward wandering.

The bar has indeed closed up, with its last patrons of the night tottering out of the bar and leaving the place to Jaya and her bodyguard. The barmaids Suli and Hayli retired with the last of the patrons, one of them claiming sickness as they went. Shijan is at the entrance as usual, watching everyone as they come and go. He catches Kaskan as he walks in with a long look, not stopping him or telling him that the bar was closed. The man usual only came in around closing anyway. Jaya catches Kaskan’s entrance too as she cleans up the counter, her keen gaze watching the exchange between the guard and the trio of women with light amusement. She even snorts at that parting shot the woman delivers his way when it’s clear he was rejecting her – and of course, having been used to the man’s demeanor with women, she appears rather taken aback that he did. She doesn’t speak yet until the man gets close, her hands busy at washing out the last of her mugs for the night.

Shijan is noted sidelong, the bodyguard's presence something Kaskan is used to seeing at all hours around Jaya and her bar. He's more surprised not to find the barmaids though, his gaze shifting from side to side as he approaches the bar. Pleased at the setting he focuses in on Jaya as he sidles up to a stool, hitching one elbow onto the counter as he greets her with a sampling of his white-toothed grin. For a change there are no bruises, no cuts, no dirt on his clothes, not even a sour expression to be seen. Other than a stronger scent of oil than usual he seems rather put together. "How lucky am I - got you all to myself?" he quips.

"It happens occasionally," Kaskan shrugs with a casual lift of one broad shoulder. "I must've passed some sweetsand somewhere by accident." Shijan has been around for much more intimate moments than this so her reference to the bodyguard is dismissed as inconsequential. Of much more import, in Kaskan's mind, is the question of a drink. "Both?" he asks, donning a charming smolder sure to win her favor. One hand rises to rub idly at his shadowed jaw, a little quirk playing about the corner of his lips as he ponders the possibilities. Finally, a flip of his wrist leaves the solution in her capable hands. "You've always known just what I need," he starts, innuendo thick though without the forwardness that accompanied it in the past. "Surprise me with something strong but smooth?"

“Or you’ve stopped using the Weyr’s denizens as training posts?” Jaya puts in for a light tease, a wink going the man’s way before she sets about to looking for the right vintage for him. “Hmmmm … I do,” she agrees after a pause, finally coming up with a dark brown bottle in hand. “I’ve always known.” Meeting his gaze then as she uncorks and sets to pouring, “You can’t be having one of those rough nights, shuga,” she surmises after a moment in dismissal of it, regarding Kaskan steadily. “You’d usually be dirtier. Or bloodier. So what’s the occasion? I have noticed that you haven’t been by my bar in a while,” she notes almost playfully, not bothering to hide that, yes, she is very much trying to poke into his personal business. She is a barkeep, after all, though much of the nosiness is stemming from the Dicori woman herself. Once the glass is filled, she slides it his way, setting the bottle aside set to watching him taste the strong Cromese vintage.

Kaskan simply watches her without comment till the alcohol is served, then he takes a sampling drink and dark brows rise sharply behind over-long bangs. Oh yes, he recognises the vintage and suspicion immediately limns rugged features. Added to her questions, the combination is highly unlikely a coincidence. Lips twitch with the effort to maintain a serious line as he tilts a sidelong look at her, pretending to be more concerned than he really is. Barkeep and Dicori notwithstanding, Jaya has long since earned an exception to his normally private nature. Having sought her out for just that reason he merely draws out the moment for curiosity rather than any real reluctance. "Are you always this subtle?" he asks, tipping the glass in pointed gesture. Crom, of course. Which is directly related to her questions. Leaning one elbow on the counter he leans slightly toward her. "I would wager that you probably know much of the answers already yourself," he counters, light blue regard locked on hers.

At his question, along with that tip of his glass – the woman was watching his reaction to the vintage after all, and was well aware that it would be one a Cromese would recognize – Jaya gives a light shrug and moves to set the bottle of the vintage away. “Not sure what you mean,” she answers that blithely, straightening up and looking his way. “I’m a barkeep. It’s my aim to please my patrons so that they will come back again … . and give me more of their hard-earned profit.” A wink is tossed his way before the woman takes to leaning against the counter. Clearly she was taking a break from closing down the bar. When he leans toward her, she meets that gaze of Kaskan’s head on and counters back with “Were there questions, guard? You’re going to have to list them for me, shuga.” With two fingers tapping the side of her head, “You know how it is for us Dicoris. We pretend to know, until we really do.” Makes sense, right? Now it’s her turn to lean a bit towards him, dark eyes pinned on the man as she adds, “But just so you know. I do have a question. What’s up with the clean get-up?”

A soft snort slips from Kaskan at mention of profit since most of the time she's gifted his drinks but a saucy vein of conceit can't help but note that he's paid her back in other ways. His expression says as much without the words as their gazes meet and hold. Her admission draws a deep chuckle into the mix and one hand darts across the decreased space between them to flip some of her hair away from that tapped temple in a playful gesture.

Then something changes. The teasing in his manner lessons even as intensity increases. Stormy hues shadow light blue irises as he looks to her, the struggle to deal with certain deep emotions still too new to be easy. Kaskan draws in a long breath, holds it a second, then lets it go in a rush of words. "I did it. I talked to Rio. And it went… really well." His tone ends on a positive note. Reaching for her hand he covers it with his, a touch of chagrin touching his lips as he admits, "You were right, Jaya." Pause. "Thank you." Then, with a light squeeze, "I don't say that often so soak it up."

Jaya meets those gazes easily, and there’s a calmness there that’s usually not there in the barkeep. She snorts at that playful flip of her hair from him but doesn’t move away from it. She rolls her eyes, though. “Guard,” is all she says to him, which might be a tossed name of derision. Maybe. The woman would be teasing in either way. When Kaskan’s demeanor changes, then, Jaya’s does not. She regards him in silence as she watches him struggle to speak again, and when he admits to speaking with the gold weyrling – her close friend – a slow smile draws free from her. Her hand is claimed, and she inclines her head in the silence as she breaks her silence with a wry “I’m not often wrong in such matters, shuga. Us barkeeps watch people, eh?” Straightening as she flips her hand in his and gives it a squeeze before releasing him, “I’m glad things look to be on the up for you, Kas. I haven’t talked to Rio, but I’ve kept you both in my thoughts these days. So … does that mean…?” and a brow lifts, prompting him to speak, to elaborate.

Kaskan sits up straighter as she does, broad shoulders relaxed as he keeps one forearm resting on the countertop, fingers reclaiming a light hold on his glass. A quick snorts escapes at her response, his manner slipping back toward teasing to make deeper topics easier. A wry twist sits at the corner of his lips as he lets a Cromish clip thicken his drawl, "You watch much t'closely f'us who wanna keep secrets, woman." The glass is lifted and an appreciatively long swallow enjoyed, a soft sigh following as he sets it back down. Dark brows lift to match hers and he lets the silence linger for a moment, taunting her with hovering juicy possibilities. Unable to resist for long, he chuckles and his expression softens. "What it means, my dear barkeep, is that we finally stopped guessing, admitted a few things and agreed to work on the rest." Another light sigh fills a pause. "There are still some things… I'm not sure about. But we have a start."

“Now I told you about keeping such secrets from me,” Jaya drawls, only briefly thickening her Bitran accent with a wink. “But still. I am very pleased to hear that about you and her,” and the smile turns more genuine. “I really am, shuga. Long overdue, right?” When Kaskan mentions there still being some things he’s not sure about, the barkeep’s brows furrow a bit and she puts in, “Like?” with interest. Of course, she’s naturally curious. “Is it about Rio? About you?”

Blue gaze drops then, as Kaskan considers, looking to the swirl of rich liquid in his glass for a moment. Thoughts tumble about in his head like a leaf in the wind, elusive and frustrating. "Yes, long… overdue," he says softly and with the slightest hesitation. His free hand rises, fingers sifting back through dark layers and sliding down to rest behind his neck. "About both of us. She's a rider. I'm a 'walker'." His voice hitches sardonically on the quoted adjective. "I told her we'd work it out… but I don't know how I'm going to stand it… when her queen flies." His voice grows deeper till the last words are set in a growl. "She's been /so/ hurt - I don't want anyone else to… to… to be with her."

Jaya catches that hesitation, but for now she doesn’t make comment on it. When Kaskan starts laying out the differences of the situation, that’s when she speaks. Turning to reach for an empty glass for herself, “Of course she is, shuga,” she note on Rio’s new status, sending Kaskan a raised brow as she starts pouring the very liquid that he drinks. “Such differences, I believe, could be worked out – unlike what some dragonriders seem to think. This whole …” and she waves a free hand about when the right word doesn’t come forth, “… business about dragonriders only sticking with dragonriders is runnershit, if you ask me.” But then, he speaks on flights and how he was going to handle it, and the barkeep takes that moment to down some of the poured drink as she ponders over the dilemma. Regarding the guard steadily, “At least a green didn’t find her fit to Impress on the sands, Kas,” she gives on the lesser of two evils. “From what I hear, golds don’t really rise all that much. Some hardly rise at all. I get that you don’t want anyone touching her but …” How to put it delicately? Well, Jaya wasn’t the delicate sort. Opting for blunt, “Not much you can do about flights, Kas,” she tells him, setting the glass down with a sigh. “Best you can do is make sure that a knife is far from that woman when it goes down. As to not knowing how you’re going to stand it …” Eyes roll to the ceiling for a moment before she pierces him with a pointed look. “She’s a dragonrider now. Up to you to figure out whether she’s worth it enough to turn a blind eye or not, hmm? It’s not something Rio can control, shuga, and she sure as shit ain’t the same holdbred girl you left back in Crom either.”

Kaskan can't help but smirk a little at the strength of her response and typical choice of words. His own drink is forgotten for the moment, his fingers tightening around the glass as she mentions the other possibility of Rio riding green. That would definitely be worse. Much worse. His chin bobs slightly at the scarcity of gold flights, Rio having mentioned that fact as well. He still doesn't like it. A low growl rolls from his throat as she finishes and he gives the glass a little shove, curling fingers into a fist. "I didn't leave her! They sent her away and told everyone she was dead!" Grinding his teeth he struggles to push that line of thought away, always bitter. Blue eyes dart back to the barkeep, shadowed with stormy hues. "Of course she's worth it." Pause. His tone grows calmer but all the more adamant. "I can't help feeling jealous. She's /mine/. I just got her back and I don't want to think about having to share her. Dealing with a dragon is hard enough." Dark layers shift in random wisps about his face as he shakes his head at that thought. The young queen had made quite a first impression on the guard by scaring the daylights out of him.

“I know you don’t like it,” Jaya interprets Kaskan’s silence correctly as such, regarding the man as she speaks on the matter of gold flights, “but unless you plan on singlehandedly knocking Eovarijath to the ground before she rises …” Yeah. Fat chance of that happening. Predictably, the guard returns heatedly on the fact that he didn’t leave Rio, and the barkeep continues to nurse her own drink in the ensuing silence with her gaze lingering on him. Eyes dropping to the shoved glass, “Didn’t mean it literally,” she drawls, the smirk touching full lips as she carefully sets her glass back down. “I see you’re still raking on that temper of yours. Here I thought I was bad.” Granted, the Bitran hasn’t been all that bad since arriving in the Weyr, but still. She is just as bad on a more normal day away from the south. She meets his gaze then when he speaks on Rio being worth it, dropping rather bluntly, “Then all you can do in this situation is make sure that when it’s all said and done, your ass is around waiting for her so that she doesn’t feel like her whole life’s out of control. Because she will. It’s about that dragon of hers, not her.” But she doesn’t have much argument to the fact that he’s jealous, and possessive of her. That is being met with understanding in her eyes, the woman having these days a point origin to understand where before, she did not. Best thing to do there? “How is Eovarijath dealing with you?” she segues into that subject, curiosity light on her features. “She has been rather aloof with me, which serves well, so I imagine she wouldn’t be all that against someone that evokes rather … pleasant feelings in her rider?”

Kaskan grumbles a few more times at her various responses, scowling into his drink. Images of physically man-handling the young gold to the ground entertain him briefly but mulling over her comments eventually takes effect, a more reasonable cast slowly filtering across his rugged features. A shake of his head sets wisping layers askew, a sardonic look in his eye as his blue gaze finds hers again. "You'd think, wouldn't you? No, she's too controlling… overbearing… I worry, for Rio." His jaw sets, tight with the frustration of a one-sided view. "Since that first time we've been avoiding confrontation by meeting when she's sleeping or otherwise occupied. Rio says she'll forget…" His voice trails off with obvious doubt and one shoulder hitches in a semi-shrug.

Jaya watches Kaskan grumble into his drink, the corner of her mouth lifting imperceptibly. At him raising his concerns on the dragon, she shakes her head and states, “Eovarijath is not going to bring harm to her, shuga. You’re going to have to trust her there. Rio knows what she’s doing.” She shrugs to that, taking up her drink again and taking long drink from it. Eyes lighting on Shijan only briefly, “I think that you should make an effort to meet with her little queen,” she suggests then, setting the glass back down resolutely. “Her hiding you may work for now, but if you plan to be around for the long-haul, she’s going to have to learn that you’re a permanent part of Rio’s life. You’re going to have to establish yourself there, shuga.” She feels like a mother speaking this way, and the thought alone makes her snort – although she doesn’t explain the snort away. Leaning back, “So do you and her have any plans coming up? Or you and Jhorn, who I haven’t seen about these parts lately?” Eyes fall to his glass then to see if the guard needs any refill already.

Kaskan listens but the look on his face makes it plain that he doesn't like her suggestion. Grumpy wrinkles feather his frown and stubborn shadows line his brow, blue eyes sparking with frustration as he glances away from her. He doesn't argue though. He came for her thoughts - whether they're what he wants to hear or not. The change of direction is a welcome diversion even though the answer is a quick shake of his head. Random locks fall askew across one eye as he tilts his head and looks to Jaya askance. Fingers idly turn his glass, the contents less drained than would normally be the case if he weren't so distracted. "No, no plans with Rio. We've just been taking things one day at a time. Jhorn has been taking some classes at Landing lately so we've been over there." He pauses briefly, gaze unfocused with drifting thoughts that bring a ghosted smirk to his lips. "That kid is a sponge, I swear. I never found classes so fascinating as he seems to."

Since Kaskan makes no further argument, even though by his look he’s not completely of an accord, Jaya doesn’t press her point. On hearing where Jhorn has been lately, “He’s been in Landing?” she asks with interest, head tilting slightly. “And you too? What’s he learning down there? I always thought the Weyr was the place he was to learn, hm?” And maybe, just maybe, she wanted him about to tease again sometime, too. The matter of Rio is set aside for now, only nodding to what’s being said on things moving one day at a time. “Never took any classes myself,” she goes on to say conversationally then, leaning against the counter and trying to appear as if she would have been in such situation to have done so. Right. “Beyond a traveling harper here and there that stayed for awhile, Dicoris never put much talk into learning other than reading and writing for business. Is the kid ever to return to the north? Or is he doom to all eternity with our lot?” she teases on the last with a brief raise of her glass before bringing it to her lips.

Reminded by the lift of Jaya's glass Kaskan returns to his own drink, thirst coming back now that thoughts turn from Rio. Jhorn is an easier topic. A quick huff marks his reply, wry grin disappearing into his beverage as he takes a drink. "Anything and everything, far as I can tell. The boy has no concern for politics whatsoever." A serious mote shadows blue eyes as he grows quiet, thoughts outpacing spoken words, swirling his beverage to appear pondering the drink instead. Boll's scion might be able to indulge his curiosity about AIVAS but his guardian can not, the secondary agenda given by his superiors constantly looming. Her questions, though teasing, still strike a chord of concern for the guard. Now that he's found Rio, going back to Boll poses an issue he didn't think to ever face. The easiest route is to ignore it for now, but since Jaya asked he just follows her lighter tone. "I think if it were left to him he'd be more than happy to be 'stuck' with us but eventually they'll want him back home." Humor sneaks back into his expression as he cants a rich blue look her way. "You seemed to have made quite an impression on him. Think /you'd/ mind him tagging along all day?"

“Isn’t he a Lord’s son?” Jaya muses on that, a faint smile lingering here. “And yet, you have him around such unsavory folk.” A light wink is being tossed here. Kaskan’s answer, though she can tell that there’s words held back, his answer in regards to his charge earns a wry “I can’t imagine his folks wanting him in a Weyr forever. There’s always the unfortunate possibility of, ah, Impressing to a dragon?” She was certain that would stay the young man’s future plans that his parents have for him. “But, I can understand his freedom,” she goes on to say conversationally, the words easy due to empathy. “I was meant to be a trader all my life, and well…” and arms draw away to indicate herself and the bar. “Let’s just say that the lands can be quite the heady wine,” she drawls with a smirk. Arms drop back to her sides and she takes up her drink on his last, the barkeep not answering right away, but she does give the guard a mock-stern look. “I? What on Pern’s dirt did he ever learn from me? If he wants to tag, I wouldn’t mind that. Gotten used to be tagged around as it is,” and she nods behind him towards the bar entrance. “But he’ll be learning how to sling drinks and cards all night, if he does. Sure you want him to have that sort of education? You know the sort of folks I keep about me. You, for example,” she drops with mild sarcasm.

A groan is immediately drawn at mention of impressing and Kaskan rears back slightly. "/That/ can't happen," he says with emphasis. Another quiet moment extends, his expression contemplative as again thoughts range ahead of what he's willing to say aloud. Old habits die hard. Blue eyes stray to Jaya and seeing the genuine cast of those familiar attractive features he's suddenly struck with a sense of loss and longing. For too long he's been aloof, always on guard - every face suspect, every smile doubted. His usual company of brigands and ruffians didn't inspire comraderie.

It didn't used to be that way.

Spurred by such thoughts, he suddenly replies at length. "He's the current Lord's grandson, heir after his father," Kaskan first clarifies. "So yes, impressing would make things difficult to say the least. It was bad enough that Andi impressed. I'm in trouble as it is for letting him spend so much time at the weyr. Most of his training is supposed to be at Landing." A little scoff escapes, lips curling as dark brows arch slightly. "But you've met him so you know how he is. The boy could charm a VTOL from the wall if he wanted to, and unfortunately he set his heart on coming to the weyr. I can't prove it but I swear he finagled his classes so the ones he /had/ to have were over here." Fingers roll a random pattern on the countertop as he continues, "I've tried to put off their knowing back home just how much we've been over here, but you're right. If he were to even be searched I don't think I could show my face in Boll again."

Lastly a smirk rises at her description of negative influences and his expression is cast in a knowing smolder, light blue regard set askance as he tips his chin. "I don't think it's so much /what/ you said as /how/ you said it, my dear. Us poor males don't have a chance when you flip those long lucious locks and you know it."

“And if it does?” Jaya asks quietly on Jhorn, her dark eyes becoming pools of intrigue in her questioning such a thing as Impression. “He is here, isn’t he? This is a Weyr. We are all future victims the longer we stay.” She silences up when he starts to speak of Jhorn’s predicament, however – and his own – with interest lighting his eyes. It was the most Kaskan’s spoken of the boy’s origins, even though the Dicori woman had suspected so already. That is why no reaction of shock graces her face along with further questions on the matter. Taking her eyes off of him now, “He may not become Lord Holder,” she states the obvious possibility with a shrug. “Much could happen to him before such a thing is considered. You got in trouble for Andi?” Now this, she hadn’t heard of, and the barkeep looks to him for more clarification. As to Jhorn managing to get his classes at the Weyr instead of Landing, Jaya snorts and sets back to leaning against the counter and lingering on her closing hour drink. “He’s a holdbred boy with thoughts of seeing a little excitement in his life,” she gives perhaps in excuse to Jhorn’s intentions. “Aren’t all holdbred folk desiring it act this way? And what would happen if he was Searched? Would his father drag him back to Boll, along with you?” Kaskan’s last, while it would flush the face of most women, the Bitran merely chuckles low to herself and looks down into her glass. “I was merely a barkeep, shuga,” she gives in excuse for herself now, meeting his gaze with a wry tilt to tone. “It is not my fault that you ‘poor males’ have a tendency to think with the wrong head more often than not. Best Jhorn learns that lesson early, than run into the wrong woman that would rob him for all he’s worth in the process.

With a groan Kaskan dips his head, one hand rising to blend roughly through ebony layers and falling to rest on the back of his neck. "I /know/," he drawls, blue gaze finding her again out of the corner of his eye. "Believe me, I've thought about it. When the next clutch arrives Jhorn and I will be gone. I can't risk it." Sighing heavily he drops his hand to the counter, laying it loosely over the other arm. "He /will/ be Lord Holder some day, even though it's far off with both his grandfather and father in good health. They won't let him go another route. That's one reason for him being here. Learning, making connections, widening his outlook…" His tone takes on the rote of repetition of something he's obviously heard before, fingers twitching in a half-hearted roll with each addition to the list.

"No, no," he corrects, changing direction to clarify her question. "I just meant they're extra cautious with Andi having impressed. Lord Boll wasn't too happy about that." But then back to his ward and expression shadows with concern. "Excitement - ha! That boy has no idea what it really feels like to be so scared your chest threatens to burst from the beating of your heart, or not be able to breath because your lungs are frozen with fear." He pauses a moment to consider her next question, then, "He probably would haul us both back - and send a whole fleet full of armed guards to do it."

A warmer smile hovers about his lips as she responds to his teasing, his spine straightening and broad shoulders veering back slightly. "On behalf of men everywhere I take exception to that slanderous statement!" Then, with a saucy twist to rugged features he adds, "Are you complaining?"

At hearing that the guard will be heading out when the next clutch arrives, Jaya blinks. “Where will you and him go?” she asks then, her curiosity present. She wasn’t expecting the man to actually have had plans, but at the same time she was she wasn’t surprised about such a departure. “How long?” – “And you’ve been that scared before?” she tacks on upon hearing that Jhorn wouldn’t know the experience, the barkeep regarding the man before her with interest. She even nods on that a moment later and gives, “I know the feeling myself. Lived it almost everyday until I came to this Weyr.” Clearly, that’s changed. To the latter, however, her smirk resurfaces on his brazen response and wryly intones “I never complain, guard. Though, things have changed for me as of late,” and her gaze briefly shifts towards the entrance. Eyes meeting his, “Wanton tart is not so much one anymore, shuga.”

A shrug lifts Kaskan's shoulder as he considers her first question, obviously struggling with a satisfactory conclusion. “Back to Boll is the surest way to prevent him getting searched,” he states, then pauses, thinking of his orders to do just that and the excuses that have already taken root.. “But I could keep a good eye on him at Landing… if he still has classes to attend.” Another pause while blue regard slides to check the barkeep's reaction. Plausible? Perhaps. If it works.

His expression turns wry as nose scrunches and brows furrow, a quick shake of his head mockingly denying that he has ever felt so afraid. “Nahhhhhh.” But then she admits to it herself and all but the twist of a smile melt away.

The last of her comments washes his features clean of everything but surprise. Dark brows rise behind skewed bangs and a dubious glint lights his blue gaze. Noting her glance he turns to look over his shoulder and with the bar empty of customers there's only one person she could be hinting at. Whipping his head back around he blurts an incredulous, “The /bodyguard/??? Yer pullin' m'tail!” forgetting to monitor his accent. Scrutiny narrows as he searches her face. “The closest I've ever seen him come to a smile was…” and he demonstrates. Sitting ram-rod upright he crosses his arms and looks at Jaya for a frozen second, executing a perfect imitation of Shijan's intense regard and straight-lipped head nod.

Plausible? Maybe, but by the raised brow that Jaya sends the guard’s way, it’s possible that she knows there’s always something held back or altered in answers sent. She has gotten used to it by now enough not to question it. She pours another glass of the drink for herself, then merely smirk a bit at his brazen response to being scared. “Right,” she drawls that out, not believing it for one bit as she brings the glass to her lips. She lingers on the taste for the moment when Kaskan manages to piece together her words along with the brief look sent towards the entrance, shrugging just as non-chalantly as he had done when questioned on Jhorn’s possible future plans. Brows twitching imperceptibly at his apparent shock – and the slip of the accent at the end, “Must one smile to be considered?” she merely sends as an answer, the small crooked smile in place along with her feeling the unnerving gaze of her bodyguard staring at them both from the bar entrance. She has to admit that the imitation is pretty funny, the barkeep snorting – and one may detect a snort coming from the direction of the bodyguard as well – and rolling her eyes. Perhaps in defense, “Perhaps I like intense men,” she puts out there with a brief pucker of her lips, then she punctuates it by downing almost half of her glass. “And his name’s Shijan.” Just to remind him, though it’s all said in both sarcasm and high wit.

"It helps," Kaskan quips, giving her his best smoldering smile as a sample. Dark locks drift askew over bright blue eyes, his chin tilted downward to send that regard from beneath equally dark lashes. Holding the barkeep's gaze he vies unknowingly with the one from the doorway, his with an added hint of humor for the success of his imitation. "You're intense. And you smile," he notes in a drawled purr as she takes a long drink. One hand is raised to flip in a dismissive gesture at the name though he knows full well what it is, his sultry demeanor slipping as teasing ensues. "Chejan, Shijan… that's your problem. Too familiar with the hired help." Reaching for his own drink he takes a healthy swig before pushing the glass away, his expression taking on a more serious hue as he casts a wry look toward the barkeep. Lips curling with a softer smile he muses, "At least if you fell for someone it's a guard."

“You’re far more intense than I am,” Jaya counters from where she leans, lips pursed over the slight crooked demeanor of her smile. “I’ve seen you rip through an innocent green-bush in the garden, remember? Not to mention all of your dramatic flares in nearly tearing my bar down.” She fits Kaskan with a pointed look at that, though there’s little sternness present. His continued teasing of her and Shijan’s relationship earns him a dry “Hired help?” She snorts at that one. “Please, shuga. It’s not like I was looking for a guard…or a hired one at that. Not usually my style, but it happened. He’s… different,” she admits more soberly a gentle smile given to the Bollian guard. “Not like the men I’m used to. Isn’t just about the fuck with him, or the drink.” Shrugging just a bit, “Who would have thought it, hm? A girl from a notorious clan falling for a hired bodyguard.” There’s more irony there as well, but the woman doesn’t bring it up. She merely raises her glass to him then, as if in a toast, before moving on. “So what now, guard from Boll? Got your girl, got your charge, and it looks from here,” and she gestures with the glass towards his face, “that your days of picking fights with the Weyr’s men are over. Life looks good for you.”

Kaskan shrugs a shoulder at mention of damage to her bar, not denying nor claiming fault for any of that, but her inclusion of the Bush Incident earns a pointed look given back to match her own. Angling his chin the same as hers and raising dark brows in echoed perfection he holds the look as long as she does, managing to avoid even crooking the smile lurking in his bright regard. "You /would/ have to bring that up," he drawls.

Pleased that his jibe about her guardian garnered a response he sits forward again and crosses his forearms along the edge of the counter. He listens, expression noncommital, though by time she finishes he has to grunt aloud and emit a soft sigh. "Who'd've thought?" he echoes in apparent agreement, collecting his empty mug and giving a pointed tilt to her semi-toast. She may sound sure but he isn't convinced, even if the man in question is of the same profession. For her sake he keeps his doubts in check, holding them aside to quietly stew.

The sudden turn of her questioning pulls him upright, one hand rising to drag through tossled layers like it always does when he's uncertain. He appears to consider her question a moment, though a quick tilt flickers at he corner of his lips at her mention of fights. That, at least, doesn't seem likely. They happen even when he isn't trying to cause trouble. As for the rest.. well.. it's been his experience that things always look best right before they crumble so it's hard to relax and let his guard down even now. Irises cloud with the blue-gray of an overcast sky as he lifts his regard back to meet hers. "Honestly? I don't know."

“I would,” Jaya is not apologetic – it is her way. Kaskan’s shock on her choice of lover gets a snort from her – she can tell he isn’t convinced, but the woman doesn’t look to be trying to convince him otherwise. She merely smirks, returning to the last of her drink until he answers her question on his plans for the future. When he admits that he doesn’t know, the barkeep stares at him with little reaction for a long moment before straightening up and stating, “As good an answer as any, I suppose.” Beat. “Really is good seeing you, Kas,” she states with a barely-there smile, stepping away to return to closing down her bar. “Hope your plans involve you sticking around here in the long run, at least. My bar’s been dull without you, despite my having to replace valuable items each time.” The smirk now touches her lips.

Kaskan is quiet a moment longer, more disturbed by her seemingly simple question than he wants to admit. Plans? He accepted long ago that he'd lost the ability to make those kind of plans, especially involving other people he cared about. But now he wanted to do just that despite the skeptical indecision that gnawed at him.

Her retreat rescues him. Humor comes flooding back as she jokes about his abuse of her bar so that he can't help but give her an echoing smirk and shrug one shoulder, saying, "Can't have dullness on my conscience. I could always come and smash a few heads together - for your sake, of course."

She was getting used to the Bollian guard’s stints of silence, not knowing him that much enough to guess at what he’s thinking, and so it leaves Jaya to let him alone in his thoughts. Kaskan’s remark on her bar gets laughter, the Bitran shaking her head as she starts to work on wiping down the counter. “For my sake,” Jaya notes wryly, on him coming to start fights. “As long as you plan on buying everyone, and I do mean everyone including me, at least two rounds of drinks before Shijan kindly escorts you out.” That’s her way of drinking to his health, at least. Nodding towards his cup then, “Fancy anymore to drink, or are you heading out for the night?” Eyes fall beyond him towards her bodyguard, likely looking to get some time in with him once the bar is fully closed.

Kaskan leans forward on crossed arms, chin tilting downward as he sets a dangerously smoldering look on the barkeep, light blue eyes cutting through the ebony of wayward, over-long layers with a mischievious glint. "Just put it on my tab, babe. You know I'm good for it," he can't resist teasing. They may have both moved on with other relationships but there will always be a special connection, an extra closeness there. Unable to hold the moment for long against amusement he sits back at her question, drawing in an exaggerated breath that deeply fills his chest and letting it out with a loud sigh. The glance sent behind him isn't missed. "I suppose I could survive with a skin to go if you have one to spare?" he tries, dark brows lifting over a charmingly hopeful smile.

Jaya regards that smoldering look as she wipes down a dirty mug with a smirk of amusement – Kaskan’s response on there even being a tab in her bar getting a wry “A tab? Only tabs I deal in are of the ‘favor’ kind.” Favors that the barkeep was sure to call in at one point or another later on. Still, she knows a tease from the man when it’s evident, and so when he asks for a skin, the woman sets the mug she’s cleaning down and turns to get the very skin that he was asking for. She also drops a price. See how nice she is? “Least I can do is drop a small discount this once,” she notes tacking on, “being that we’re old friends and all.” Yeah, she’s not falling for his charming smile, but charging even her old friends is the way she rolls..

With a decided smirk Kaskan leans back and retrieves some marks from his pocket, dropping them on the counter and sliding off his stool. "Much obliged," he says, scooping up the skin. His other hand rises to flick a quick two-fingered salute at his temple. Turning to go he tosses one last grinning tease, "I'll throw back a toast in your honor - to old friends."

Once Jaya catches those marks set down on the counter in a flash - marks in her bar hardly stay on any surface for very long - she ticks off a wink his way and drops those marks into one of her pockets. She watches Kaskan scoop up the skin, nods upward for that two-fingered salute, and as he turns to go, "Kas? Take good care of her, hmm?" she feels obligated to say, returning to cleaning out her mugs. His last words gets mere laughter, the woman shaking her head and passing a look towards the waiting bodyguard still at the entrance as she watches him leave.

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