Patch Up


Max.jpg Kaskan.jpg

Date: 2010.12.20
Location: Max's Quarters
Synopsis: Max and Kaskan try to fix up the damage they did to each other. Occurs directly after Beating Frustrations
Rating: PG18
Logger: Max

Kaskan enters the stall/office/habitat warily, illogically expecting some sort of trap. Or at least some runners. When the reality is a tidy work and living space a soft grunt erupts. With shuffling steps he makes his way inside and leans heavily on one end of the desk. "You mentioned whiskey?" he questions with a raspy, weary voice.

It’s a pity that Kaskan decided to lean so heavily on the desk which was already sagging off to one side, for without much warning the rickety old thing gives a groan and the already weakened centre strut gives way causing the whole affair to sag to the ground with a shudder. Max rather than being pissed off sets the guard with an oddly amused look as he gestures wearily at the desk fallen over onto its front, “Whiskey’s in there.” In one of the drawers now smooshed up against the ground.

Kaskan is just out of luck tonight. Wood is not his friend. First the fence post and now the desk. The sudden loss of support throws his sense of balance off completely and his instinctive attempt to transfer gravity to his other leg draws a sharp hiss of pain from his injury. Embarrassed, his anger flashes forward and for a moment he merely scowls darkly at the beast master as if willing his limbs to cooperate so he can lunge at the other man's throat.

But then there's the whiskey. "Huh?" he adroitly clarifies, whipping a look downward at the tipped desk. Frustration peeks. Could this day get any worse? "Why'd you keep it in that rickety ol' thing?" he snarks.

Oh yeah, Kaskan almost losing his balance and toppling over with the collapsing desk is helluva funny. Max however has the decency to swallow his mirth and simply sends out a helpless shrug (as if has no idea that it was going to do that) in response to the scowl coming off of the guard. Eyeing the offending piece of furniture he hobbles over round to the front of it and setting a dry look onto the guard says, “Well it weren’t broke when I put the whiskey in there.” Because yes, this is somehow now the other young man’s fault.

Bending with a grunt against the pain that movement induces, he takes a hold of the side currently trapping his whiskey under it, “You gonna stand there and whine like a little girl or you gonna give me hand here?”

It wouldn't matter if Kaskan's arm was hanging by a single thread of sinew he wouldn't give Max the satisfaction of not helping lift that desk. So with grim determination he sets his jaw and hobbles into position, looking singularly confident until pressure is applied. Then his sun-warmed tan flushes beat red as the rush of blood defies pure stubborness to reflect just how much effort it's taking. Pain sings through his injured arm, which he favors as best he can without looking like he is, and echoes through his mid-section with lung-crushing intensity. Bent forward with his chin tucked, raven layers provide a wisping shield over most of his expression and his knuckles are white where they grip the wood. Well into the effort he can no longer restrain an elongated groan but grinds his teeth hard to dull it. Once he can muster enough breath to speak he grumbles, "This whiskey better be worth it."

Given Kaskan’s obvious injuries, Max wasn’t expecting him to actually try and lift the desk with him, but rather to snag the bottle of whiskey while he lifted that end of it away from the floor enough for him to do so. As such he gives a bloodied and swollen roll of eyes as the man stubbornly sets to doing just that. ‘Don’t be a sharding wherry!’ grunting against the hammering his ribs are undergoing as muscles pull and stretch across them for the effort, ‘Get down there and pull the fucking bottle out,’ grunt, pant, wheeze, ‘bottom drawer.’ Unless the guard is quick about it (as quick as he can be given his state), he runs the serious risk of the beast manager unintentionally dropping the desk on his head as the last threads of energy and power quickly drain from his system. ‘It’s whiskey ain’t it?’ In other words, of course it’s worth it.

It's a close call, but pain wins out. Kaskan shoves pride aside temporarily to follow Max's direction and leave the other man the job of lifting the heavy desk while he merely rescues the alcohol. Definitely the lesser of two evils.

Moving as quickly as his aching body permits, Kaskan tries to open the bottom drawer but finds it stuck. Bracing himself he gives it one hard yank and trips backward when it suddenly comes loose and flies completely out of it's slot. Falling back hard against the wall he scrambles to grab the bottle as the rest of the contents tip out of the drawer. A quick shot of adrenaline gives his fingers the dexterity to pluck it to safety but his shoulder screams two seconds later when those same muscles relax again. With a jerk of his chin he hisses, "Got it."

Rescue of booze is always of high import, especially when beaten and battered and one is wishing to take solace in its burning forgiveness. The moment Kaskan declares the bottle safe; Max drops that side of the desk down panting shallowly as his body throbs its complaint for ill advised lifting of said furniture. Straightening slowly he turns a wry look onto the contents of the drawer now scattered about the floor. And then for some odd reason he’s flushing under the tan his work outdoors has lent him when he realizes letters from a certain weyrling are amongst the debris. Even if the pain kills him for bending over to do so, he’ll set about trying to gather up every last one of them before the guard is able to identify the pieces of folded paper for what they are. In an attempt to further distract the other young man as he sets about his task he gestures with a shove of chin over his shoulder to where a small leather sack is hanging off of a peg, “Medical pack’s in there.”

Kaskan is not so far gone that curiosity doesn't raise it's pointed spokes and prod the guard to narrow a look at the scattered papers being so quickly gathered up. The promise of medical supplies is nearly as much of a draw as the whiskey but since he has the latter in his hand already he decides the other can wait a moment longer. Lifting the bottle he sets his teeth to the cork and gives it a yank then spits the plug to one side. "What's the rush? Got some flaming hot love letters there or something?" He's only teasing but, then again, he did meet Ahnika once. Lifting the bottle he takes a long swallow, bringing it back down with a hefty and appreciative sigh. "It'll do," he quips, holding the bottle out to Max.

You can believe that Max is torn between booze, numbweed and…preservation of personal life. Or as far as it’s able to be preserved in a place like a Weyr. And so he carries on gathering up the letters regardless. The pace however slows and then stops altogether with him not quite having the energy to reach for the last one and so he simply ends up slumping against the stall siding with a grunt as fresh bruises across his back connect with it. Having ended up near to where Kaskan is, the letters he has managed to pick up are held in oddly protective gesture against his chest. Turning a bloodied look onto the guard, the beast manager grunts in response and sends in faint challenge, “Aye.” Not denying the content of the letters. “You got a problem with that?” and then muttered a little more under his breath as he takes the bottle from the other young man, “Least I know that when I’m lurking around them barracks it’s because I actually know someone in there.” A few someone’s but that’s neither here nor there right now. Throwing back a healthy swallow of the contents down his throat he hisses slightly through the afterburn and turns a curious one-eyed look onto Kaskan, “What’s the deal with that anyways?” Harking back to the conversation had before they’d started punctuating sentences with their fists.

Kaskan tries to narrow a look at the paperwork that has Max so vexed but it doesn't change much in his already squinted, bloodied and swollen-nosed expression. When the other man joins him against the wall he slides down as well, not having the energy left to bother finding a proper seat.

A grunt is made to Max's first question, along with, "In fact I do. I really do." Irony invades the guard's tone, a shake of his head making the reply reflective rather than offensive. Wriggling dirt-caked fingers at Max once the man downs a swallow of whiskey he indicates wanting the bottle, rolling his eyes in a long-suffering expression for the topic at hand. "If you've got letters you're lucky. All I got was a blow like a hammer over the head." Knowing that cryptic comment is going to engender questions he huffs and rolls the wrist of his limp, injured arm in a dismissive gesture. "It's an old, long story best drowned in whiskey and forgotten."

The uninjured brow goes up in query for the reflective tone and words used by Kaskan, his interest further deepened. Another chug of whiskey down his battered throat and then Max hands the bottle back over to the guard. Bloodied fingers tighten around the letters a moment with the beast manager regarding them in silence before giving a painfully executed nod, “Aye, letters help.” Spoken with an awkward gruffness. And then a frown forms with him sending a side long glance over to the other young man, “Got plenty of time and more where that came from.” That with a nod to the bottle they’re sharing. “Would kinda like to know why you were wanting to break my head open,” pausing and then muttering, “’least I had good reason.” Oh really?

Kaskan is more tempted than ever to get the heavy weight of long-guarded truth off his chest, but remembering Max's northern connections he lets cautionary habits win over and tries to skim over the other man's offer instead. A wry chuckle gurgles forth at the crafter's last inquiry, Kaskan taking the bottle and giving the other man a sidelong smirk. "I wasn't wanting to break your head open until you tried to kill me," he notes. "I believe your exact words were… 'I'm going to kill you!'"

As for a good reason, well, Kaskan can understand defending one's mother but still, he takes a swig of whiskey then adds, "I didn't know she was your Ma, Max." And with a nudge in his tone, "But you gotta admit she is rather attractive." That restrained description may be as close to an apology as he's going to get. Kaskan didn't miss Max's earlier references to being shut out of the barracks either though, so with a nod toward the letters he assumes the two are connected and asks, "So what's your gripe?"

It's a pity that Kaskan doesn't realize that by very virtue of Max's position in the south and his contacts in the north, that he could do more good than harm for the guard. But that is neither here nor there right now. That one eyed dark regard settles onto the man slumped beside him when he so adroitly sidesteps properly answering the question put to him. The beast manager let's it rest for the time being however, a short rasping chuckle uttered for the reply the man does give. “I mighta said that, aye.” He's not denying it, however his show of amusement would demonstrate that it had been a in-the-heat-of-the-moment comment made at the time.

That edge of humour stays in place as Max tries shrugging off the dim apology made, only slipping sideways a little at the tonal nudge given. His free hand lifts to sweep absently through his hair, wincing as the heel of his hand brushes against the cut on his eyebrow. Finally with a soft snort he concedes, “Aye, she ain't bad looking.” The woman's his mother so he's not about to add anything further there. A glance goes down to the letter and then lips twist wryly together before slipping into a slightly brooding silence. There for a while before he breaks it with a rough sound that sits somewhere between a growl and a sigh, “Damn fool Weyrlingmaster thinking he's got it aaaall figured out. He's wrong you know,” turning a one-eyed look of steely determination over onto Kaskan, “And we gonna show him how wrong too.” Ayup, that explains a whoooole lot now doesn't it? Erm no, not really.

Somewhere within the depths of old adrenaline and even older whiskey a bubbling of curiosity asserts itself enough for Kaskan to latch onto Max's vague reply. Lifting the bottle he hoists it toward the other man by way of a toast and agrees heartedly, "We're gonna show /him/!" After a healthy swig he offers Max the bottle, only swaying marginally as offset balance makes the floor shimmy across his vision, then asks in a much lower and normal tone, "Uh, what exactly are we gonna teach him?"

A short chuff of sound that settles for a shade of laughter held carefully out of respect for damaged ribs is what greets Kaskan's toast. He doesn't have a bottle to greet the other with so simply gives a tired thumbs up. Letters still clutched to his chest, Max waves off the offer of the bottle and sets his free hand to the ground as he draws his good leg up under him and with teeth gritting against the pain, manages to get himself upright. Setting a determined look down onto the guard, “We're gonna show him that riders and 'walkers' as he calls us lesser folk, can make it work. What the fuck would he know anyways. He ain't got a mate.” That last grumbled as he limp-drags himself along to the sack containing the medical supplies he'd spoken of earlier.

Kaskan frowns, dark brows pulling at dry, caked blood as they draw downward. The other man's words slowly sift into his brain, which sluggishly inspects each and attempts to makes sense of them. Eventually another query results. Tilting his chin upward he watches the beast handler move across the room and has to blink hard to concentrate. Deciding more whiskey might help he takes a long swig, turning his head to swipe chin to shoulder. Yes, better. Clearing his throat he aims his voice and asks, "Make what work?"

Hobbling back across the short distance looking somewhat like he's just tangled with a wher, Max drops the small sack to the ground next to Kaskan and then slowly lowers himself down after it, a string of expletives following as his butt finally hits rock. And yes, he'll take that whiskey now as the vague gesture toward the bottle might indicate. Wariness shadows in as the other young man queries him further, his relationship with a certain green weyrling already under the microscope of her weyrlingmaster. And so therefore there's a short silence that develops with the beast manager tussling with the need to share his frustrations and common sense dictating that he continue to keep it as much on the downlow as possible until she graduates. Swallowing down a long swig of whiskey, he finally utters in a voice rasped from the afterburn and abused throat, “My girl's a weyrling.” Hence the dragonrider/walker comment of earlier.

The fall of that bag causes a slight flinch as the thunk echoes within Kaskan's skull. Whiskey is handled over while the other hand rubs at his brow, fingers gingerly avoiding the cuts and bruises there. His thoughts are still sluggish beneath the injuries but the alcohol is helping to dull the distraction of pain. When Max's reply comes Kaskan blinks a few times, slate blue gaze focusing on the man as a surprising shaft of common ground cuts through the fog. Having gone through painstaking mental rounds with the same struggle himself he immediately perks, straightening up slightly against the wall. "Mine too!" he blurts, quicker to throw caution aside with emotions having drained him to the bone. "Did that damn oaf of a bodyguard shut you out too?"

Starting to dig through the contents of the leather bag, Max stills and lifts his head at Kaskan's confession, “Aye? You got a girl in there too?” And suddenly he's looking at the guard in a new light. The bottle handed over is taken and for the time being set to one side as he finally manages to find the jars of redwort and numbweed and a roll of clean wadding. These are offered over as exchange for the booze which he then sets to throwing down his throat before setting a wry twist of expression over onto the other young man, “Sucks don't it?” Having their respective women locked up and bound by the strictures of weyrlinghood. Lips then purse together and he utters a painful snort, “Us no good walker types are all shut outta there after curfew, mate.” Sarcasm on them being 'no good', heavy in his tone. Curiosity gets the better of him and he shoots a sidelong glance over to his companion of fists, frustration, booze, “What's her name? Ya girl?”

Medical supplies are getting to be as familiar to the Bollian guard as the tack for his runner, though this is the first time he's tried applying them himself. Managing to unroll some of the wadding with his one good hand Kaskan sets it on his thigh and sits up with a grunt, easing open a few of the fasteners on his ruined shirt and gingerly moving the material off his shoulder. The ugly black and purple bruise that is revealed is underscored by a bloody gash just below the curve, his formerly nice shirt tattered and sticking to the dried blood in and around it.

Bubbles of anger help modify the renewed sense of pain seeing the injury causes, Kaskan's mind latching onto Max's words as a distraction. The other man's verbiage strikes a chord with the frustrated feeling of injustice coiled within the guard and pries open a sense of bonding that much more for having someone truly understand. So while he would have been evasive previously, Max's question elicits a distracted, yet unhesitated, reply. "Rocio…" A quick huff clips the last syllable as he edits, "…er, Rio now."

Dubious the look Max casts over to the guard as he attempts to treat himself and soon he’s holding out a bloodied hand, fingers wiggling almost impatiently toward the wadding. “Take the shirt off ya, twit,” he gives with a grunt of pain as he tries to lean awkwardly over toward Kaskan, obviously intent on trying to help the man. “I ain’t no healer but I done worked on runners enough times.” Which isn’t quite the same as calling the other young man a runner’s arse now is it?

Unfortunately, the clumsy movement knocks the whiskey bottle over where he’d set it down and sends the last of its contents to pool onto the floor, darkening the rock. Which he doesn’t at first notice for his attention is caught by the name provided. “The goldling with the face thing?” It’s called a veil, you moron! “Shit, you really know how to choose ‘em.” Perhaps alluding to having heard rumour via feedback from his network spread about the Weyr of there being a dark past attached to Rio.

Hands already occupied, Kaskan jerks his knee to knock the wadding off his lap and in Max's direction. A sardonic grunt and sidelong glare are cast to the other man's advice. "I'm trying to, /mate/," he drawls, imitating Max's typical address. Squeezing his eyes shut a moment, muscles tense across his abdomen as he tries to sit up and work the shirt off but when the pain flares and the shirt doesn't cooperate he leans back again with an annoyed huff. "Oh that's inspiring," is wryly added for the runner comparison, though fortunately he doesn't seem to make the same connection as Max.

A groan as deep as those provoked by pain rumbles from his throat as the whiskey spills. Just throw him off the Starstones now! There's no sense in carrying on without the burn of some good, hard whiskey. The roll of wadding adds insult to injury by turning a rich shade of burgandy as it soaks up a portion of the spreading liquid.

Kaskan bristles at the description of Rio, taking his anger out on the remains of his shirt. "Yah, well, s'more like it chose me," he spouts, pulling unsuccessfully at the last few fasteners. Half of the shirt lies open, revealing a muscular chest surprisingly clean but distinctively marked by old scars. "Spent over two turns thinking she was dead and trying to get her out of my system but it didn't work… and now she's here. But between that two-ton bouncer and a gold bodyguard that wants to eat me alive she's as out of reach as ever." Frustration peeks in his tone as well as movements, his arm yanking the filthy material and flinging his arm toward the beastmaster. "Dammit, rip this open! The shirt's a loss anyway."

Max sends him a withering look for the imitation and ensuing response to his having worked on injured runners. However, it’s the groan loosed from Kaskan drawing the beast manager’s attention down toward the spilt whiskey that draws a flatly given, “Shit.” Well they say whiskey’s good as an antiseptic, right? Max obviously believes so for soon he’s reaching for the soaked wadding and shoving it in under the guard’s shirt over the gash on his shoulder. “Hold that there,” given through teeth gritted against the pain leaping from his ribs. And then he’s doing as requested and taking the fabric between both hands rips it into from shoulder to wrist.

Eyeing the remains of the shirt, lips press into a grim line for what is shared by the other of the young woman that had quite literally, driven him to drink and then he’s giving gruffly, “Ain’t no way to get ‘em out of your system, mate. They work their way in under your skin and before ya know it life ain’t it worth it without ‘em.” Max slips into deep silence then as he works the cork off of the redwort container and gestures for Kaskan to remove the wadding so that he can rinse out his shoulder wound. Almost hesitant to offer the man he’d just tried to beat to death advice he puts it out there any way, “Don’t have ta be like that, ya know. With her gold that is. Jhath and me, we had…issues to begin with.” A wry expression forms across his battered features, “But Ahni was gettin’ stuck in the middle of it and…” here his attention lifts to the guard’s face, visage now sombre for the truth he puts out next, “A rider ain’t got no choice but to choose their dragon first, Kaskan.” Pausing a moment he continues, “It’s up to us,” the non-riding half of such a relationship, “Ta figure out a way ta make it work with their dragons, aye?” Dabbing gingerly at the gash with clean wadding, numbweed is next to come if Kaskan hasn’t pulled away or tried to deck him for possibly inflicting more pain. Small silence once again forms and then he’s asking quietly, “She worth fighting for?” Rio that is.

As Max tears the shirt Kaskan hisses an expletive that'd sheer the ears off a watchweyr. He'd meant for the man to rip the last few fasteners so the shirt could be parted and eased off his arm but somehow Max's taking the more painfuly distructive route seems appropriate. That withering look is returned then, creased with shadowed lines of pain tensely held in check. Male pride comes to the guard's rescue, refusing to let the extent of his internal struggles show.

As much as he hates to admit it, Kaskan knows that Max is right about the medicinal properties of alcohol, so as the other man applies the soaked wad to his shoulder Kaskan merely turns his head and clamps his teeth hard enough to make his jaw ache. The automatic flinch that flashes through his arm at the first sting ushers another string of curses from his lips, the dislocated shoulder echoing its own complaint for the sudden movement.

Letting his eyes drift shut, partially veiled by over-long bangs, Kaskan concentrates more on the words than actions of his earnswhile healer. That they turn out to be just as painfully deep internally serves as a good distraction. "Issues.. heh…" he snorts, comparing the mild description to Rio's protective gold's desire to filet him alive. His thoughts take on a darkly meditative state, musing over the hurdles of the situation. Knowing how mentally guarded he is with his own thoughts he can't imagine being so exposed. During one of Max's pauses he asks in a soft but strained tone half to himself, "How can they stand it?"

Though softly spoken, it's Max's last question that resounds the loudest, eliciting an instant and firm reaction that's more telling than any of Kaskan's self-inflicted misgivings. "Oh yes."

Max doesn't always get or take the subtle route hence his approach to getting Kaskan's shirt off of him. However, whereas earlier inflicting pain on the guard had been his primary objective, now the beast manager appears loathe to do so. And so it is that a grimace crosses his features for realizing what must come next in terms of resetting Kaskan's shoulder. Searching through the medical pack he finds a sturdy strip of wood intended as an emergency splint and holds it out to the other young man. Spoken with apology, "Gonna have to put that back in," his shoulder, "So best you bite down on that."

If the guard understands his intentions, Max will start painfully manoeuvring himself around until he can set the foot of his good leg against Kaskan's hip for leverage. His words broken up with the effort to do so. "Came stormin' at me once," Jhath, " fit to tear me apart for puttin' Ahni over my shoulder." Glancing upward in his slow shuffle for the softly asked question," The dragon in the head thing? Dunno. My Pa was a brownrider. Said it's like findin' a piece of yourself you didn't know was missin'."

Now in position and panting a little for the painful exertion, the beast manager gives Kaskan some more unsolicited advice based on his reply. "Then you gotta fuckin' start fightin' for her!" Pausing and then adding, " You ever tried to get a ornery runner or a canine to trust you?" All attempts at trying to modulate his accent gone. "S'bout the same with a dragon. You need to stand your ground. Your Rio, that's what she's protectin' an' you gotta show her she can trust you to do the same, aye?" Here he'll pause waiting for the other young man to give the go ahead to reset his shoulder.

A few beads of sweat break out on Kaskan's brow as he realizes what Max intends. Still, he'd rather have the beastmaster do it than go to the healers and get some kind of restrictions put on him. Taking the wood in his good hand he gives it an evil look. An arched brow of surprise turns on Max as he recounts the charging dragon and he can't help but ask, "How'd you get out of that one?" As for missing pieces, well, he isn't sure what to do with that so merely logs that away for later review.

As Max gets into position Kaskan braces himself but before he bites down on the wood he shoots an angry, "I'm trying, man, but I can't even /get/ to her right now!" With the other man's pause he puts the wood between his teeth, feeding on that flare of anger to help steel himself for what's to come. Without looking, he gives Max the slightest of nods.

Giving careful inspection to the exact nature of the dislocation, Max utters a sound somewhere between amused and a snort as he replies, “Put her down an’ told Jhath I was takin’ her back to the barracks.” Which he had been but for reasons probably best left unsaid. Having been in a similar position of having a dislocated shoulder, Max sets Kaskan with a rueful look before stating grimly, “S’gonna hurt like a bitch.” Just in case the guard was in any doubt. One can only hope that the numbweed spread about the gash will have started to take effect and aid in masking the pain guaranteed to follow while he manipulates the shoulder back into place.

Keeping up conversation as a means to trying to distract away from what he’s doing the beast manager takes a hold of the injured arm, bending it at the elbow and then in toward Kaskan’s chest in an ‘L’ shape, “Write to her and get one of the laundry girls that goes in to change linen to deliver it to her.” Slowly but steadily he starts to rotate the arm and shoulder outward keeping the guard’s upper arm stationary with one hand. Frowning slightly in concentration his tone is slightly distracted, “Or I could speak with Ahni and see if she could pass on a message for Rio to meet you somewhere when her gold sleeps.” Just as Kaskan’s lower arm passes ninety degrees to his chest his shoulder is quickly coaxed back into the joint with a faint ‘pop’, which should provide a fair amount of relief.

Kaskan's entire body tenses in anticipation, teeth biting down hard on the block of wood. Letting his head tilt back against the wall he closes his eyes, dark lashes feathering a growing purple-green bruise that is spreading across his nose. Oh yes, that'll look lovely in the morning.

Listening to the other man's words he tries to picture the scene as a diversion. …Ahnika's shapely rear end hoisted over Max's shoulders helps, giving him a brief pause of humor… Jhath's irridescent eyes awhirl with ferocious intensity as they fixed on the beastmaster…

Even so, pain lashes through his nervous system as soon as Max starts to manipulate his arm and his teeth sink into the wood. His mind latches desperately onto the beastmaster's suggestions, trying to plan the exact actions needed for each to focus his thoughts. …The laundress who flirted with him when he needed a shirt mended might pass a note for him… His penmenship is awful… Who could he get to write it?…

A hiss rattles past the wood as Max starts to lift his arm outward, the agony revving up with increasing speed. Sweat breaks out across the guard's brow, his complexion darkening with the glow of banked embers. … Ahni again… His first and only encounter with the red-headed weyrling wasn't exactly endearing… Would she be willing?… Probably if Max asked…

Fire! The last push that sets his shoulder where it should be sends a jolt of liquid heat through his veins strong enough to snap his entire body in a vise-like grip. Back arching, he looses a gritty primal yell that echoes through the room despite being muted by the wood. His good fist slams to the floor hard enough to bruise the side of his hand, the leg opposite Max kicking outward with a bone-jarring jerk.

The yell slowly recedes into a series of groans until he pries his aching jaw open enough to let the wood fall. Tone muscles ripple with excertion beneath the open front of his shirt, his breathing sharpened with the strength of air rushing through his lungs.

Eventually he relaxes and sighs heavily once, grunting as he gives his arm a testing twitch. Hooded eyes lift to Max, blue irises shadowed with stormy hues of gray. "You better not have enjoyed one single second of that," he grumbles in a thick, hoarse voice. Gone is the biting sarcasm of earlier, replaced with wry amusement.

Grateful that Kaskan hadn’t taken that lightning flash of agony out on him, Max sags back against the stall siding flattening the palm of his hand over throbbing ribs that are starting to purple beautifully. At first his reply is a mere grunt to which he adds words once he’s caught his breath again, “Oh aye, every last moment.” A snort declares that to be entirely untrue and then he’s setting a mournful look down to the emptied whiskey bottle. He’d get more from his private stash but just doesn’t have the energy to do so right now. The last of it having been used to get the guard’s shoulder back into place.

Glancing sidelong at the swollen and purpling nose of the other he gestures his free hand vaguely at it, “That straight?” What? He’s keen on inflicting more pain on the man to set it back if it isn’t? Hardly. As evidenced in his next, “If it ain’t you gonna need a healer, mate. Leave it too long before you do and it feels like someone hit you square in the face with a mallet when they set it straight again.” Ah, advice drawn from personal experience then. Shifting his battered back uncomfortably against the siding, a hiss spills out as he gingerly moves the leg with the abused kneecap. Panting a little his next is more solemn, “If ya want her, Kas. Don’t let her get away, aye?”

Kaskan isn't sure anymore where the bruises end and his body begins. The two have become one. He could really use some of that spilled whiskey now. The question of his nose serves as a distraction, but only for a moment. "Hurts like a bloody bugger but I don't think its broken," he drawls, accent slipping. Lifting his chin toward Max a little, he asks, "S'look crooked to you?"

Watching the other man painfully adjust his own seating, Kaskan wonders if they've enough numbweed and fellis for the rest of both men's injuries. It'd be a shame to have to go to the healers after all the effort they're putting into managing themselves. Grunting, he adds dryly to the other's advice, "I hear ya, but s'easier said than done!"

Max squints the eye that isn’t swollen shut and peers at Kaskan’s nose, “Naw, don’t look it ta me.” But then he’s not a healer so the guard might want to get a second opinion on that one. He’s not that punch drunk that he doesn’t once again pick up on the northern accent coming through and so tossing the jar of numbweed over to the other young man states quietly, “You ain’t from Boll.” This as he soaks another piece of wadding with redwort and makes sloppy attempt at cleaning up the cut through his eyebrow, “You from Crom like her?” Oh yes, he knows more than he’d been letting on he does. He doesn’t however give Kaskan much time to answer before he turns his head, wadding held in place and sets a long look onto his ‘sparring’ buddy, “Meant it when I said got contacts, Kaskan. But I can’t be helpin’ ya if I don’t know what it is ya need help with.”

Kaskan sniffs at Max's assessment, testing the functioning of the nose in question. Though painful, it seems to work. Moving on.

Catching the tossed jar Kaskan is distracted with deciding where to apply it first when Max's soft words fall like a ton of bricks. Instantly going utterly still he doesn't say a word, outwardly calm but for the rigid tenseness that steals over his frame. A soft intake of breath betrays him with the beastmaster's question, his jaw tightening. With his shirt in tatters the coiled readiness of wiry muscles is more apparent. Mentally reeling, paranoia takes over and Kaskan's imagination colors the other young man with all manner of spy-like, malicious intent. Before he can gather a reply Max speaks again and some of Kaskan's suspicion turns to curiosity.

Pulling his expression into a blank mask, Kaskan lifts a slow gaze through off-set bangs, slate blue irises intense. The numbweed lies forgotten in his palm. Looking at the bloody visage beside him Kaskan imagines a darker sort of 'help'. The man knows too much. One word in the wrong ears could draw deadly attention - and now there's Rio to consider. Habitual pessisism vies with newfound bonding, landing him somewhere in the middle with wary caution.

Attempting to discourage him, Kaskan leaves off his adopted southern drawl for a more natural northern clip to say, "I'm not need'in help, Max. Leave it be." Firmness is there, in the cool hardness of his gaze, his tone lacking any sign of sarcasm.

Kaskan’s reaction is what’s the most telling, confirming the beast manager’s suspicions. And so, regard drawing off the guard, he discards the bloodied wadding, takes up another piece of it, tips the redwort over it and gets down tending to the cuts and grazes that he can reach that are scattered about chest and upper back. Lips quirk around a sardonic line for the other young man’s last and he calls it without shame, “Bullshit.” Wincing as the disinfectant trickles through a particularly nasty gash that starts just above his shoulder and jags down his back where a broken fencing pole had caught him. Only then does attention lift and fit back onto Kaskan.

“Northerner taken to guarding the son of Lord Boll that’s got a history with a woman from Crom held for murder.” Max states flatly, his uninjured brow lifting in pointed manner. “Aye, ya ain’t needin’ my help.” Snort. “When ya get over ya pride and paranoia,” yes, he’ll call that too even although he realizes Kaskan has no reason to trust him yet, “ya know where to find me.” And then adds in quietly, "Need people at my back I can trust, Kaskan." Therefore making it clear he's offering an 'I scratch your back, you scratch mine' type scenario.

As Max sets about tending his wounds Kaskan watches for a few moments. Abused muscles remain on wary alert, though he slowly relaxes as he realizes he doesn't feel threatened by the beast master. No, if Max wanted to turn him in or even kill him then he would've found a much more efficient way of doing so.

So the jar of numbweed is tilted, scooped, and quickly applied before his fingers are too effected by the ointment to be of any use. The relief is immediate, drawing a soft sigh from his lips as the worst cuts are dosed. Cheusia would probably hang them both high for the unsanitary application.

Annoyance briefly rises as he tries to reach around his ribs, every shift of movement sending flashes of dull pain through the newly set shoulder. One grimace in particular melts into a grunt as Max bluntly calls his bluff. Kaskan continues with his ministrations, slowed by distraction, but not giving Max's suppositions credence by responding directly.

Sitting up with a low groan Kaskan gives attention to the deep gash on his thigh instead, using the angle to tilt disheveled raven layers forward and partially hide his expression. As tired on the inside as he is on the outside, the other man's insightful directness is both disconcerting and a relief. Trust simply isn't a luxury Kaskan allows himself anymore, not even - to be painfully honest - promising it to someone else.

Without looking up he smoothes some numbweed on the ugly wound on his leg, his words all the stronger for their quiet, even tone. "You don't know what all's involved, Max. I won't chance putting Rio or Jhorn in danger." Silence, then softer, "And you shouldn't trust me."

Amusement fits into place as Kaskan goes straight for the numbweed without first using the barrier of the redwort to prevent his fingers from numbing. Max of course, says nothing because that’s going to be helluva funny in a few minutes.

With the guard not immediately giving response to his words, the beast manager too falls silent, although there’s no denying the sidelong glances that flicker over every here and there. When words are finally put to response there’s an understanding cast to his features as he nods. He understands only too well the need to protect one’s own at all costs. Even if that means turning down the untested hand of help offered. It’s Kaskan’s last that draws a suddenly wary look into place. It only now occurring to Southern’s new renegade lord that the man slumped beside him could very well be in the pocket of one of his northern counterparts. Boll’s for all he knows.

His silence draws out as he struggles with wanting to be able to trust Kaskan and the harsh reality that he might well have reason not to. Eventually, having given up on trying to reach his back and numbweed giving blessed relief to his battered kneecap, he pushes awkwardly up to his feet and picking his way through the mess of things strewn about from the collapsed desk heads over to his private sleeping area. Extracting an unopened bottle from the press there he hobbles back and holds it out to the guard, “You aiming to put a knife in the back of me and mine?” The question bluntly asked.

As predicted, Kaskan starts to lose feeling in his fingers about the time Max gets up to fetch some alcohol. Grumbling, he shakes his hand and slaps it against the side of his leg in one of the few spots left relatively undamaged. "Blast it!"

Realizing he can go no farther he tries to take the jar from his other hand (the one attached to the dislocated arm) to set it on the floor but too many nerves are numb. Tapered fingers clumsily fumble around the jar until it tumbles off to the side with a clatter.

Sighing heavily Kaskan lifts a tired blue gaze to Max and spies the bottle in his hand. His hero! Reaching for it he flexes his hand, dismayed when he can /see/ the motion but can't /feel/ it. At the same time Max's question gives him pause and he lets his hand fall, assuming the other man will notice the lack of function. "No, Max," he says with utter seriousness. "Nothing like that. Just dug a few holes of my own, is all." Gargantuan craters would better describe the mess he created but downplaying better suits being evasive.

Turning his head just enough to catch Kaskan’s movements from the corner of his eye as locks he the press once again, Max can’t help the smirk that starts to form as the guard finds his fingers starting to become uncooperative. By the time he’s on his way back and the numbweed jar rolls from the guard’s useless grasp, he doesn’t bother hiding the snicker that rises up, “Redwort, mate.” He gives, trying to choke back the laughter that lifts up for the simple fact of the hammering his abused ribs would take if he gave in to it.

A strangled bark of laughter escapes and ends with a grunt of pain when the other young man reaches for the bottle held out to him and then just gives up when he finds himself unable to take it. Mirth sloughs right off at Kaskan’s reply, knowing all too well what it feels like to find yourself backed up against a wall like that. And so rather than answer to that just yet, Max gives an acknowledging nod and starts to hunker down next to the guard. His knee gives out and he ends up hard on his ass only just missing landing in Kaskan’s lap by inches. “Sharditall!” he growls out through the pain that throbs through his leg and then turns a scowl to the other young man as if somehow that were his fault, “I’ll hold the bottle an’ you drink but if ya need a piss you’re on your own, mate.”

Whether or not Kaskan accepts the offer to drink, the beast manager uncorks the bottle of whiskey and holds it at the ready, within reach of the other’s mouth. “All of Pern is made up of great big shardin’ holes, Kaskan. You ain’t the first an’ you ain’t gonna be the last.” That given in gruff understanding and thus ending his probing (for now) into the fake Bollian’s troubles.

Kaskan scowls at Max's show of humor, his fingers still twitching on his thigh as he tries to make them work right. "Riiiight," he drawls. Redwort. Did Max give him the numbweed jar first on purpose? A dark brow arcs upward at the other man, the old scar marring it showing more prominent. He should've known better but being suspicious of the other man gives his pride a way out.

Max's fall helps. Amusement filters some of the annoyance and suspicion away and the look given him by the downed man is enough to raise a chuckling smirk. Payback is a bitch. At Max's advisement Kaskan scoffs a sardonic laugh, but not wanting to be so helpless he attempts to do it on his own. "My other hand…" he starts, trying to lift the hand of his dislocated arm. It rises a bit, his expression tightening more with each fingerwidth, before falling back to his stomach on a loudly, rushed exhale. "Damn!" Tilting his head toward the beastmaster he allows the need for alcohol to momentarily outweigh his pride. "Fine," he snaps, "Just gimme a drink."

Nothing is said to the last of Max's admonition but his words set hard on the young guard's mind. Again that inner wall of hardened isolation wavers with the desire to trust someone, but wary caution and fear are too well ingrained to allow it free reign. Instead he grasps those other emotions as an outlet, wryly commenting as he readies for the drink, "I'll try not to piss on your floor, if the need arises."

Kaskan suspects him of having set him up and…Max does nothing to erase such suspicions, merely producing a grisly grin from out of his bloodied visage. Which of course is wiped right off his mug when he lands on his ass, the smirk coming from the other young man? Studiously ignored.

With the guard trying to raise the hand of the injured arm to reach for the bottle, the beast manager utters a light snort, “Shouldn’t be movin’ that.” No kidding. And without further taunt, he holds the mouth of the bottle to Kaskan’s lips, tilting it only slightly so as not to drown him with whiskey. A nice guy after all, right? Mmhm. No further words are put to whatever troubles Kaskan might have weighing down on him, just a grunt of amusement given over not messing up the floor of his quarters.

Punches and insults traded, the resulting injuries tended (sort of), and whiskey shared thereafter has the effect of Max starting to regard Kaskan as one of his circle of friends, no matter the obvious troubles he withholds. With neither of them in any state to be able hobble much further than toward the private area of his quarters, Max puts forward offer, “Got a spare bedroll. Ya can sleep here for the night an’ kiss up to a Healer in the mornin’, aye?” Though his tone lilts upward in query, the chances are good he’s already decided the other young man shouldn’t be left alone this night. Then again, he might well be under-estimating Kaskan’s desire to be so.

It's not easy to look manly or in control when being hand-fed from a bottle but Kaskan tries, pride eased somewhat by the fact that there's only Max to witness and the alcohol has a blissful effect on his system. Added to the numbweed he can almost claim relief enough to turn down the offer of a night's stay but the moment muscles tense to rise he's overwhelmed with exhaustion. The thought of dragging his battered behind across the bowl to his temporary quarters, suffering all the sidelong glances and raised brows along the way, pales beside the option of simply rolling over onto a bedroll.

Raising his arm he wipes the tattered remains of his shirt across his mouth, hand still ghosted to his senses, and crooks something of a smile at the other young man, nodding once, “Much obliged, Max.” On a whimsical stroke of humor he adds, “I'll skip the kissing though. Last time I flirted with Cheusia Bowen about birthed a watchweyr on the spot.”

A flicker of a smile and a short nod of head are sent in acknowledgement of Kaskan’s thanks and then Max is taking to slugging back a healthy swallow of whiskey himself from the bottle, hissing appreciatively for the slight burn down his abused throat. Amusement rolls into place next, “Were’nt thinkin’ of Che,” the bottle tilts the guard’s way, “But that tanner’s ‘bout treadin’ on my last nerve.” Added to keep the ruse of tanner and beast manager being at odds with each other, firmly in place. “Was thinkin’ maybe Jonavan would ‘ppreciate a sound kissin’,” the pretence of a grave sort of nod given for that, “Give him somethin’ ta smile about, aye?” Brat.

Humour at play and then he’s once again pushing painfully to his feet, finding his balance and hobbling over to his private area where he reaches for the bedroll stowed atop the cupboard. It takes several attempts and a string of expletives given for the pain rising up from his ribs for the reach above his head before he gets it down and manages to get it rolled out on the floor.

Kaskan blinks with blatant wide-eyed shock at Max. News of his apparent dislike of the tanner is interesting, but his suggestion of whom to kiss is downright unnerving. That serious expression is eyed closely while given a stilted, "You pullin' my tail, man?" Note is made of that name for sure. Jonavan.

Watching his newly-minted comrade struggle after the bedding, Kaskan makes the effort to sit up. Just the thought of standing drops a heavy weight on his shoulder, eliciting a mournful moan. "Did ya have t'fight back quite s'hard?" he quips, clipped Crom accent more evident than usual as he cants a colorful expression at the other man.

The astonishment coming off of Kaskan is for the most part glossed over save for the barest traces of a smirk called into play. As to suggesting that the guard try kissing on Jonavan, Max manages to maintain that grave expression despite the mirth bubbling precariously close beneath the surface as he notes, “Kiss on Che and Bowen comes after ya. Kiss on Jon and well…maybe that young lad in the Infirmary gets upset. But you could take him.” Even adding a stroke to the other young man’s ego to further cement his ruse.

With the bedroll finally laid out, Max sinks to the edge of his mattress with a grunt. Yeah, he’s going nowhere soon in spite of the fact that a visit to the bathing caverns might be a good idea before collapsing into bed. But that’s just too far away, and he hurts in places of his body he’d forgotten he had and…there’s no Ahnika to kiss and make better right now.

Kaskan is given an amused snort for his mournfully couched words, “Coulda just stayed down.” The beast manager points out and then adds a grumble of his own, “Iffen you wanted ta fight for me in the rings, ya just had ta say so. No need ta drive the point home quite so hard.” Although that last is given with a margin of approval for the guard’s fighting prowess. And then a weary gesture of hand is given toward the bedroll followed by a wince as for the places on his back he’d not been able to get to with the numbweed. “Bring the whiskey with ya.” Because there’s no way on Pern he’s moving again until morning.

Bracing himself, Kaskan drags himself to one knee before he has to pause. Weak arm clutched to his stomach he draws on heavy breaths a moment before staggering to his feet and practically falling forward onto the bedroll, careful despite aches and pains to not spill any of the alcohol. Priorities and all.

A long series of wincing moans later he's laid out on the makeshift bedding, bottle upright in one outstretched hand, and body quickly shutting down as he relaxes. "Ya well, I have a bit of a stubborn streak," he mumbles. Giving the dulling effects of the numbweed one last boost he lifts his head and tips the bottle, sloshing the liquid past his lips. Then, letting his head fall back he closes his eyes and stretches his arm out again. "You want this?"

Oddly placed approval greets Kaskan’s admission of stubbornness and then trying to carefully lower himself down onto his mattress, Max groans as ribs complain for the slightly propped up position he’d been aiming for. A scowl gets shot the other young man’s way, “Didja have ta break ‘em?” Rhetorical. Well, not broken, cracked and it’s only one but right now it feels like a dragon sat on his chest. And so it is that when the guard holds out the bottle, the beast manager slings his arm out and takes up the offered bottle, “Shardin’ right I do.” The chances being good that he’ll drink himself into oblivion in the hopes of drowning the pain. Which is going to make for one very hung-over, very grumpy, very sore, beast manager in the morning.

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