Place Of Solace

Participants:

Jaya.jpg Shijan.jpg NPC'd by Max

Date: Nov. 20, 2010
Location: Barkeep's Room, EW
Synopsis: During one of Jaya's nights where she's ravaged by her dark nightmares, Shijan comes around to help her put them to rest by facing part of her past.
Rating: PG-15 for dark content
Logger: Jaya


Despite all the busy activities going on in and outside the bar, things have been progressing along with Jaya and her growing team – that being Suli, Hayli and Shijan. Routines have been established between the barkeep and those she spends her time with – especially with Shijan since he’s the only one among them that is with her most times of her day. That position for the most part used to be Suli, but with all the recent mess-ups that involved a certain beast manager and two runner thieves, things between the barkeep and her oldest barmaid have been strained at best. Jaya was beginning to come to like Hayli, another one of Indira’s implants into her bar, but seeing that it takes a long time for Jaya to trust anyone, the blonde barmaid just hasn’t reached that list yet. That only left Shijan, and the Bitran woman still finds herself on the fence with him from after their official meeting.

Jaya loved her privacy, so there’s much embarrassment and irritation (even shyness) when she has to involuntarily share those more intimate parts of her life with him. He’s been a gentleman in standing outside the baths, and has been retiring when dismissed from the bar, but he has seen Jaya both drunk and incoherent during the times when the darkness threatened to take over. Beyond her locked door to the back room, the nightmares of the past assail her most nights when she doesn’t choose to drink them away – her cries perhaps heard beyond the locked door to anyone that would dare come by her bar at such late hours of the night. This particular night was no exception: tired from a long night, Jaya summarily dismissed Shijan as usual before she closed her door to the bar in her exhaustion. She had fallen asleep on top of her bed sheets with all her clothes thrown on the floor – only making sure to lock behind her before doing so. No one would dare try to intrude on the Weyr’s tough barkeep, right? It didn’t take long for the nightmares to come, the woman tossing her head from side to side and causing her pillows to fall off the small bed as hands grip at her middle. Tears glisten down her cheeks in the low glow lighting, sleep being the only cause for all of her guards to be down at this very moment to allow such whimperings to fall from her lips. Whispered apologies fall from unbidden lips, over and over again as the woman seems to be reliving some dark memory behind her closed doors that has her for the moment vulnerable.

If there's one thing he's good at it, it's biding his time as he has been doing ever since Indira set him to keeping watch over Jaya. It took a while before she finally got used to his presence, with Shijan always being careful to remain as polite and discreet as possible. His routine quickly fell into place, with the tall teak skinned man waiting up to an hour after she'd closed her door and turned the key in the lock before returning quietly back to his post. As such, this evening is no different. Having just returned from the baths, his head of ebony curls still damp, he took up position next to the locked door. Back leaned up against the wall, and knees drawn up with arms dangling over their tops, his head tipped backward to rest against smooth rock and lids shut. Not sleeping, but rather going into a quietly meditative state whilst still remaining alert to any untoward presence in the bar.

Therefore, when the sounds of nightmares once again reach his keen hearing a long sigh pulls from the former harper now turned bodyguard and hands lift to pull through his hair. How much longer was he supposed to sit hear and listen to the woman's anguish without doing something? The smuggling run was coming up soon and if he didn't do something now…Another sound from within the room and he stood, pulling a long thin piece of metal from his pocket. Accomplished at picking locks, it didn't take him long to get it open. Turning the handle he stepped in quietly, keen eyes taking in his surroundings and the distraught woman in tortured sleep. It didn't bother him one iota that she was as naked as the day she was born, for his attention was to her face and then where her pillows had been, looking for sign of a knife before making his move. Softly he started humming, his rich baritone caressing out onto the air to the strains of an age old lullaby as stepped in closer and dropped to a crouch next to Jaya's bed, a hand moving to gently stroke long fingers through her hair, all the while on high alert should she wake up and try to take a swing at him or worse still, knife him.

So lost in the throes of distorted memories – which is common as far as nightmares go – Jaya misses any changes to her solitude when Shijan enters her room. Hands bunch into the covers tightly as she shifts from side to side a little, her breath heightened as soft tears spill from clenched lids. It was clear she was upset – that whatever it was that had a strong hold of her was claiming her this night as much as the others as he approaches. He’s probably close enough now to hear her whispered apologies, punctuating the crumpling of the sheets before the humming reaches her ears. It’s slow, but her thrashing body responds on its own to the soothing noise by calming the motions – it being less frenzied than they were before, anyway. A sigh escapes her lips when he caresses her wild array of hair falling about her, not yet feeling his presence since the tight grip on the bedsheets start to slacken to that sound.

A frown pushes brows together for the whispered apologies and tears falling from under closed lids but there's no pause in the humming. With Jaya starting to calm and settle, Shijan keeps the caresses through her hair steady, starting to put words into the melody of the lullabye but not the lyrics it had been written with over a hundred turns ago. Instead, he's fitting questions into the lilt and wash of his almost hypnotic baritone, for without knowing the cause, he can't begin to employ a means to a healing. The first question: "What are you apologizing for, sweet child." She's not a child and he's not that much older than her but the wording is deliberate. Meant to strip away any fear that might be associated with answering it, for the sleeping will often give response to more, than one fully alert and able to hide behind nuances and word games.

Troubled head shakes as Shijan puts words to the song, and the question only gets incoherent whisperings from Jaya as she seems to bury herself into the bed. Soothing words seem to do wonders, and it’s perhaps a good thing she’s not yet awake to find someone in her locked room, asking her why she was apologizing. For a good while, it would seem as though she hadn’t heard the question. There’s whimpers, sniffles and a moment where it she lapses into a silence to suggest she had fallen into a deeper sleep. It’s during this that she suddenly shifts, her head jerking away from him before mumbled words fall from parted lips: “…I…killed…him…” and then a long exhalation of her breath.

Having received his first answer, he returns to simply humming the melody once again, allowing time to pass, taking the risk that Jaya falls into too deep a sleep to reach through to her subconscious. He can always return the following night if need be. Softly Shijan begins to intone one simple word: "Who?" Into the beginning of each bar of the lullabye, his hand stilling its motion through her hair and moving to rest lightly, almost without touching over one of her hands. As if by that very gesture, he can draw the answer out through her skin.

“…killed…” is the answer greeting Shijan’s next question, Jaya’s lips barely moving as her frenzied body motions start to settle down. Perhaps it’s Shijan’s presence in the room or his touch to her hair that has her calming to his influences. Of course, she could wake at any moment, too, but it seems the bodyguard is aware of the risks he take. Head moves to the side again, moving as if she were shaking her head to the question before the Bitran woman mumbles, “Dunno…he…Va…” dry lips close together as a tear falls from closed eyes, another whispered “…so sorry…” escapes before there’s a lingering pause and a name whispers out: “Hasen…” Fingers curl into the bed sheets she grips, and she silently starts to cry.

It's clear to see that Shijan doesn't particularly enjoy this line of work, if for no other reason than simply because of the grief and deep emotion displayed by those he's worked with. Lips press together into a thin line, for obvious pain and remorse Jaya exhibits, his expression remaining otherwise, unchanged. He has one last question, one that might take a little longer to get out of her before he will allow himself to comfort her. Again, blended into the lullabye's melody comes the simply sung: "Why?" The urge to wipe away those tears, is strong and he's having to force himself to remain where and as he is until he gets what he wants.

Why. Why. That one’s the difficult question, one that – if awake and on terms enough to explain – would probably take a lot more time than perhaps she would be willing to give. Jaya is silent other than the quiet sobs racking her frame, but after a long moment, all that comes from her is a very shallow, “…had…to…” Had to? Perhaps it’s a good thing Shijan’s not some guard sneaking into her room. Such damaging words would have the ropes tied around her wrists and hauled out of bed in an instant. It’s probably just as well that nothing else gets said, for the memory alone has her recoiling close to herself – back to whispered apologies and other words that just doesn’t make any sense. Basket? Dress?

Had to. Shijan continues humming although his voice is quieter now in the still of the room as he mulls that over. That could mean anything but there is only so much a person can give when asleep. And so, very carefully and gently, knowing full he's likely to be fighting a wildcat within seconds of his doing so, he lifts a hand and gently brushes the back of it across her cheek, before slipping an arm in under her shoulders and drawing her in against his chest and rocking her. One…two…three….mentally counting how long it is before she wakes up and slugs him.

Jaya, even before her bodyguard starts to gather her up, starts to win the sleep war. Eyes tighten in a signal that she was coming to, right when Shijan draws her to him and he starts to rock her. Perhaps it’s the sudden shift of position or the sudden warmth she well knows as another body beside her – or the beating of his heart. It could be either one, because as he predicts, her unfocused eyes start to crack open in mid-whisper: “…’M sor…wha…?” What? Instead of the cool familiar sheets she’s used to, the sudden feel of a body where there shouldn’t has her instincts taking over. Shoulders abruptly stiffen and a leg kicks out at the bed as her body twitches awake. She looks around blearily, then a hand moves to grip at Shijan’s shirt before she pauses herself and pats at him a few times. “What the fu… ?” she starts out, the barkeep turning in the very dim lighting to catch that she is very well being held in the arms of someone – with her naked. Nope, she doesn’t scream. Shock pours liquid into muscles instead as that one hand grips at his shirt now as if gearing up to do damage. Nevermind this man could land this woman on her ass, but while the rest of her is waking, her brain clearly isn’t yet. In this moment, all she does is stare at him as lips try to work and form the curses she’s just dying to spill at him.

With Jaya coming awake just seconds after he's gathered her up, Shijan goes still, only his shoulders stiffening but a fraction as he prepares to have to fight the woman off. He does however use that time while she's still too sleep befuddled to be able to do anything, to state quietly, "I'm not here to hurt you, Jaya." His eyes black pools in the near dark fitting to hers without threat, solid against the curl of her fingers into his shirt. The wrap of his arms about her neither tight nor suggestive, leaving it easy for her to wriggle free should she wish to. After having delivered those few words, the former harper goes quiet, expression solemn, eyes filled with non-judgmental understanding. Waiting. Patience being something the man has in spades.

She wants to lash out and cuff the man a good one, but something draws Jaya back from the obvious course for her. His voice confirms what she sees of him, now knowing that it was only Shijan and not some crazy stranger looking to steal or grab at her. His soothing words set her to just staring at him, her lips parted as nothing continues to escape those lips. Her breath is heavy, but slowly, it starts to relax – along with her shoulders losing their stiff grace against him. Fingers stay on his shirt, however. Just in case. “Shijan?” she croaks the name through sleep-ridden tones before she starts looking to the closed door. “How…how did… ?” How did you get in? Then a thought occurs to her, her dark eyes widening along with the tightening of her hand on his shirt. “Is…someone trying to steal…? Is… someone here?” she tries to put her fears into words, eyes going to the thrown pillow on the floor, then around the bed for the hidden knife that’s probably been knocked to the floor as well.

Black eyes remain fixed to Jaya's, however as she starts to relax, the very faintest of smiles traces onto his mouth. Shijan doesn't look to be removing his arms from about her neither does he seem to be affected or aware of her state of nudity. So much so, that one might wonder if he's not perhaps a eunuch? "Yes?" this when she croaks his name out and then he follows the path of her attention toward the door. Without so much as a shrug, "I opened it." Simple as that. Glancing down at the hand that tightens into his shirt, his bland expression finally breaks with a light frown and then once again eye contact is made and held. Ignoring the questions put to him, he leans slightly sideways, lifts the pillow from the floor and puts it back on her bed, but doesn't release her for he needs to be able to physically read her body language for what he breaks silence to speak next, "Tell me about Hasen and why you had to kill them?" Again, no judgment or…any emotion in his tone at all really.

Tears drying on cheeks, Jaya regards Shijan just as much as he’s regarding her. His voice so leveled, it would seem she could almost accept that he had simply just opened her door. Almost. Sending a sleepy-incredulous look to the door again, “It’s locked,” she seems to note, dark eyes falling on her bodyguard again. But she doesn’t seem to argue the point – not when he glances down at the hand on his shirt. Reluctantly, she loosens her hold on him then in the silence and slowly drops her hand to her lap. She meets that gaze warily, watching him as he goes to get the pillow. Curiosity for why he was here in her chambers flit through her features, the frown starting to come forth when he doesn’t answer her questions – instead, he puts to her one of his own. The name gets some of the color to drain from her face. The question itself has her body shifting to high alert. She stares long and hard at him, trying to read in his gaze what’s not there while without thinking she blurts out, “Who? What?” Wiping the drying tears with the back of her hand as she forces her eyes away from him, “What are you…? Shijan, I’m sure it’s late,” and just for theatric’s sake with her body still stiff at such a jarring question, she’ll draw a fake yawn that she hopes is real enough for him to take. Reaching a hand out to pat him sleepily on the shoulder a few times, “We’ll talk in the morning, okay, shuga? When we’re both making sense?” Awake-Jaya might be able to pull off the dismissal, but a disoriented-Jaya is too obvious.

"Was locked," he corrects without explanation or even the smug look one might expect from him. Again a light frown breaks through his expression when she releases his shirt, that not having been his intention and so he follows her hand with his eyes to where it lands in her lap but says nothing of it, simply lifting that piercing gaze to Jaya once again. Finger splay across her back when she goes taut against, as if able to use every digit laid against her, to extract information through them. Only now does the former harper's expression break to produce a wry smile which then retreats behind a firm expression when she tries to fob him off. Both hands move to place to either side of her face, ignoring the pat to his shoulder. Staring intently down at the dark-haired woman, "No. You're going to talk now." Her talk, him listen. And so he patiently repeats himself, "Who was Hasen and why did you have to kill them?"

Was locked. That gets a look, and it’s one suggesting that Shijan might need to be expecting a lecture (or at least she’ll try a good shot at him if he doesn’t block her first) later. Jaya regards that light frown in place, the way he watches her every move – and it was starting to unsettle her. That piercing gaze she doesn’t try to meet, her back shifting to his fingers as she lifts her gaze to regard that smile that she doesn’t see all that often from him. Once Shijan has her by the face, this time she’s not able to look away, those dark eyes wide and unwavering as he asks the question again. Blinking a few times, “Why? What’s it to you?” she puts forth then. Evasion number one didn’t work. Time for evasion number two – bratty defense. The look one of forced petulance, “I dunno, alright?” she tries to evade a second time, the move more desperate since Shijan is proving to be quite skilled at not falling for her tricks. Granted, she’s the one in the compromising position here, not him… Staring boldly back at him as her fingers linger on his shoulder, “How about we talk about you breaking my lock?” she sweetens the maneuver by deflecting the question with another question. It was Shijan’s move, the look on her face one of a challenge – even though she was clearly looking like the amateur in comparison to him.

The thumb of one of his warm hands held to her face, moves to subtly brush along the drying track of tears on her cheek as Shijan states quietly, "Yes you do." Making it blatantly obvious that he'd been there through the wrenching shedding of those tears and the whisperings of apology that had gone along with them in her sleep. He is however, unmoved by her bratty display or challenging tones. What's it to him? Once again, one corner of his mouth twitches into the trace of a smile, stating in that quiet baritone of his, "It is of concern to me, because it is of concern to you." Truthful. Aware of her fingers lingering on her shoulder the former harper gives to the question of her lock, "It's not broken." Which it isn't. Yet again, the question comes, with just the lightest press of fingers against her back, "Tell me about Hasen and why you had to kill them." He could go on like that for hours. Wearing his target down like water dripping over time onto a rock. This time he adds with each word carefully measured and weighed up against the heavily burdened young woman, "You know I'm not going to hurt you. And I'm not going to turn you in," piercing gaze softening just a fraction as compassion filters in, "I'm only here to protect and help you." For the first time a trace of regret washes through his tone, "Don't make me force it out of you." There is however little sign of physical threat to that statement, suggesting he has other means over getting what he wants from her. However, he hates resorting to such blatant invasions of privacy and would prefer that she told him of her own accord, for in that alone, healing starts to come.

Shijan’s thumb to her face has Jaya stalling in most of her comeback responses. The way he was treating her, that trace of a rare disarming smile, and his saying that it had concern to him was leaving the Bitran barkeep at a loss. Such tactics wants to draw suspicions to the fore, so her eyes narrow just a small fraction. She doesn’t answer him, even when he admits that he didn’t break the lock to her door. That question again, though, coupled with the small press of his fingers to her back has her mouth shutting close. Evasion number two didn’t work as well. Eyes dart to the door, the fleeting thought passing by on running. Further words draw her gaze back to him, even bypassing his threat at something said pulling a twitchy cold smirk from her arsenal defense mechanisms. The woman fully awake now as she rears back from him just a little to fit a long look at his face, “Help me?” she puts to him, slightly mocking. “There’s not anything you can do, Shijan, that hasn’t already been done.” Dropping the act, her voice turns wary and sober as she looks away from him with a frustrated sigh and a hand reaching to rub at her eyes. Since he was insisting, “They say the first kill’s always the hardest,” she states, keeping her gaze away from him as she delves into the dark part of her soul to recall. “Guess they’re right, shuga.” Eyes falling on him then, “Hasen was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” she tells him quietly, lips trembling just a little despite her trying to keep a brave face on. She was a fucking Dicori, after all. “I had to get out of there and he came at me. He came at me. I didn’t really mean…to…” voice fails then, the Bitran shaking her head slowly before she boldly goes on and adds, “But it had to be done. If I stayed there any longer, I’d be in the mines right now.” Eyes gaze back at Shijan then before the fingers on his shoulder twitches and starts to fall away. “Didn’t know his name until later,” she tacks on evenly then, looking away once more. “He had a family. Didn’t know the place was theirs, but…” Would she had cared either way back then? She couldn’t utter that path of words, so she falls silent once more.

Catching her attention darting toward the door, Shijan can't help the small smirk that fits into place, "You wouldn't get but a few paces." Before he caught and stopped her. The mocking words sent him barely even register a reaction with one who has seen and heard just about every excuse and evasion tactic in the big book of Denial that there is. And so he waits patiently for her to begin speaking using the time to shift from that cramped crouch next to her bed and boldly take to seating himself on the edge of it instead. He doesn't however release her but will shift her in against his side if she doesn't object too hugely, an arm slung easily about her shoulder, his gaze going to the opposite wall of the room. Once Jaya starts putting words to nightmarish regret, eyes slip back onto her briefly, expression impassive before they slide away again as if watching some unseen scene unfolding before his eyes on that wall opposite them. A long gap of silence is left after her last word has been uttered and then the former harper nods slowly and turns that penetrating gaze back onto her and asks simply, "Where?" Referencing the location of where this life altering event had taken place.

She was indeed thinking of running by now. The last thing Jaya was expecting to do late at night was have a chat about her demons in her turnday suit with a man that says little to her on any given day. Shijan’s words for Jaya on him catching her has her pressing her lips together and not registering that with an answer. When he shifts though, she didn’t think to move away – she settles against him, his one worded question getting a slight grimace from her. “Benden,” she drops in a hollow voice, the scarred faced woman starting to draw her knees up and settle her arms around them. “A cothold there. There were some …things, my boss needed taken from there,” she explains, the words awkward sounding before she shifts against him and reaches a hand to draw away clinging black hair from the scar on her face. Rubbing at it absently, “It was my heist gone bad,” she references, though the bodyguard probably wouldn’t know what she means unless he was truly eavesdropping on her talks with a certain gold weyrling that is her confidant. Even her confidant does not know the details of this incident, apparently. Her head shifting in his direction without actually looking at him then, “It’s my burden, Shijan,” she says the words low, her tone dark. “I must have been…dreaming, again,” which would probably account for how the bodyguard found out – especially in regards to a name, she estimates. “Don’t know what you heard, but…no one knows about this,” and this time, she turns to turn almost pleading and vulnerable eyes on him. That look alone conveys his discretion, such a dark secret kept while on the run for all the turns she’s been away from Bitra. The only other one that knew was Keane, and he was far away in Telgar.

It's not that Shijan doesn't notice her nudity, but more that right now…he's working and so he'll continue to make it seem like he's simply…not wired that way. Fingers of the hand about her shoulders give a brief stoke of comfort as she reveals the location and then proceeds to flesh the event out with more details. Stated quietly, "Vaputero." Drawing the conclusion himself as to whose orders she'd been under at the time. He's not been privy to the conversations held with the gold weyrling, having deemed it fitting to rather afford the woman the time with her confidante, patiently waiting out his time. Shifting, his free hand lifts and will capture her chin if she doesn't jerk away stating quite firmly, "And now it's mine too." Her burden. Once again a corner of his mouth twitches around a faint smile, his hand dropping away from her and once again, the wall is fit with idle study as his baritone lifts out of the darkness, "I carry the secrets of many, Jaya." His burden. "Some that would sooner see me dead because of such knowledge." The very edge of a hint given as to why he is one of those under Indira's shielding wing, hidden away from the searching attentions of others. His gaze draws back, catching onto that vulnerable and pleading look coming from the dark haired woman tucked in against his side. Grave the expression in place, "I can make it go away. If you want it gone," the awful memory of that event that she carries with her. "But first, you need to say goodbye to it," his jaw tightening a bare fraction for what he knows that is going to entail. The raw pain that must occur when she properly revisits the event. Quietly, "Do you trust me?"

Hearing the name from his lips draws slight coldness from Jaya, but the woman nods once as she regards Shijan’s face for a long moment. She doesn’t even bother asking how he got the name – with him being connected to both Max and Indira, it wasn’t a far stretch to think that the three were probably talking about the whole mess. Her mess, rather. It would be enough to put her on edge, but it’s what he says next on burdens that has such feelings on pause. Her chin is taken in that shock, silence marking her as he explains his skill of secrets. She was perfectly fine with this – though not verbalizing it – until he speaks about making it go away. Brows furrow immediately on that one – “You can’t make a memory go away,” she returns, skepticism evident in her voice. “Other people know. People like Vaputero.” Not to mention those others on the heist with her that day. Sighing a bit as she meets his intent gaze, “Yeah, sure,” she says on trusting him then, though the wariness hasn’t left her face. “You’re still here trespassing in my room, aren’t you?” To her, that was proof enough that she did, when most would have at least gotten a tin can thrown at them by now.

Indeed, he has been given enough information relevant to Jaya to make his job easier, and so he simply sets her with an intent look, expression giving little away. His mouth shifts though settles into neither smile nor frown before settling back into an impassive line, "I can make yours go away enough to stop the pain." Here his hand drifts over her bare shoulder and presses fingers lightly over where her heart is, "In here." Next his hand lifts to touch at her temple, "And in here." Brows flicker faintly as if toward a frown and then settle back into place over hawk-like eyes at her comment on those that will still remember, "And the pain will still be there's to bear for as long as they deny their hands in it." A short nod accepts her words on trusting him and a smile quirks onto the edge of his lips for trespassing in her room. That drops away when he reaches for one of her hands, his fingers stroking over the length of one of hers, quiet a while before Shijan fits a long look onto the scar faced woman, his voice barely above a whisper, "Do you want it gone?" The pain. For that after all, is his purpose here.

Jaya is mesmerized. Who is this man coming into her place talking about taking her pain away? Eyes flick over to where Shijan’s fingers press – her heart and her head. Yeah, she’s not exactly believing him, and the way he’s talking has her wariness on the rise considering he’s starting to speak mind healer talk so she remains silent with him – regarding him as much as in shock as in being transfixed in watching two canines mate. You want to turn away, but…. “Yeah,” she hesitates briefly on answering his quiet question, the woman’s gaze now staying on the man as he takes one of her hands. She almost looks scared, too – scared of what he’s about to do next, so she blurts out nervously, “Uhhh…what are you going to do?”

Most people react the way Jaya does, especially those with an adversity to mindhealers. A mindhealer, however, he is not. Simply a man with a talent now being used to help those he's pointed towards as he was once helped himself. Shijan remains completely still under that shocked gaze of hers, lending her what time she needs to take in all that's transpired thus far, knowing this to be a concept few had come across before. Only once she admits to wanting the pain gone does the arm about her shoulder tighten slightly and then falls away from her as nodding he rises from his position on her bed, eyes piercing through the dark at the as if surveying the contents of her room. "Nothing yet," he gives with a faint smile, "You're going to tell me where you keep your writing tools, first." Likely an odd sounding statement for sure but his expression and tone of voice will now tell that he's serious in this matter.

Writing tools? When Shijan pulls away to look about her room, Jaya takes that moment to let her knees fall down as she runs a nervous hand through her wild mass of hair. Frowning as she looks about what she could see of her room as well, “Who’re you writing?” she asks deliberately, her suspicions back up on alert now that contact has been broken. Dark eyes go towards the desk she has before nodding there if he is looking her way to see the gesture. “Desk,” is verbally given as well, though she’s far more interested in getting her question answered right now – the scarred faced woman assuming the worst. He did say he wasn’t going to turn her in, so that faint smile he gives is doing little in calming her normally tetchy nerves. The fact he’s smiled more than he has in the given time he’s been watching out for her is proof enough to her that he was up to something.

At first her question is ignored with Shijan moving over to her desk, not fumbling about in the dark as one might assume he would. Returning with the necessary hide, stylus and a book he'd found there to act as something press on, he settles back down on the bed again. Setting them to one side of him, he kicks his boots off and drawing his long legs up arranges himself in a cross-legged position. The writing tools are once again taken up and then that penetrating gaze is turned back onto Jaya as he holds them out toward her. The former harper's baritone lifts up onto the still air, held low as he gives her instruction, "You're going to write a letter, to Hasen's family. Telling them all the things you've felt, but never got to say to them. And then…" pausing to let that first bit sink in before he gives the next, "you're going to write one to him," even although the man is dead, "Telling him why you did it and how it’s made you feel every since." Talk about facing one's demons! Silence spreads out, with him sitting there, the book, hide and stylus bridging the small gap between them, waiting for her to make that first small move in the right direction by taking them from him.

Facing demons is definitely the understatement of the night here. Speechless, Jaya covers that with laughter that’s far from convincing. “So what, I can add them to the list of people after me?” Nervousness gets couched in sarcasm, Jaya’s favorite method of defense. She’s looking at the writing tools like they’re tunnelsnakes now, the woman recoiling back from them a bit before she meets Shijan’s penetrating gaze. Remorse might be one of those new concepts she may have picked up while being at the Weyr (for the most part), but she was still criminal enough to assume writing them might open her up to them laying revenge on her. Frowning, “Uh, look, shuga,” she starts, running a rather shaky hand through her hand as she tries to compose herself into some semblance of pride before him. “It’s why I took on this whole bar-thing anyway. I’ve been saving up to send them marks every month. Been doing it. Figured it was the least I can do, and they don’t know where it’s coming from or who I am…” She’s dealing, right? As to that second letter, well, she had no defense for that one. Eyes drop to those writing tools again. “Think he knows why I did him in by now,” she mutters slowly, flicking a dark glance up to Shijan, figuring the dead, in her mind, would have such knowledge. Being dead and all. But, slowly, she does lean forward and slide the writing stylus from his hands with a frown.

Deadpan in the face of her nervous laughter, "No. You're not going to be signing your name." Simple as that. "Marks don't buy you or them peace of mind, Jaya." Although Shijan does appear gratified (if one can even tell given he gives very little away to that effect) to hear that she for a while now, has been trying to make amends. Through all the frowning discomfort and nervous sarcasm, his own expression has remained immobile. Only once she takes the writing implements from him does a compassionate light enter those hawk-like eyes. Given in quiet invitation, "You may sit with me while you write." Which considering they're already sitting next to each other might sound odd, unless she notices the gesture he makes toward the well his almost lotus-like position creates with legs. Thereby offering her once again, that physical comfort of his presence through a means of direct contact.

Jaya seems to deflate in relief at hearing she wouldn’t have to reveal herself, though all the same that seems to do little to calm her nerves on the whole matter. “Marks help them out,” she does counter though, not understanding that particular concept. People need marks to live, right? She’s helping them live – at least without their man of the place. With the rest of the tools taken up, she looks down at them until Shijan offers for her to sit with him. Eyes meet his own then, a decline immediately wanting to come to her lips on instinct before lips twist and she hesitates before she shifts over to allow herself the physical contact with him again. Sighing, she pulls a sheet of blank hide loose and sets it over the book, leaning back against him as she places writing stylus tip to sheet. It’s here that she pauses, the Bitran clearly at a loss on what to say or write to a torn family. Then, quite resolutely, she jots down the simple words of I’m sorry. before her eyes close and she looks away. A letter such as this is definitely much harder than she expected.

"Marks soothe the belly not the heart, Jaya," Shijan offers that distinction forward without judgment. The chances are, he wouldn't have been offended had the offer been declined, although having her taking it up does make his job that little bit easier. As such once the dark haired woman has settled herself in his lap, and leans back against him, the former harper wraps an arm about her middle, careful not to make it seem like he's making a move on her and leans his back and head against the wall, eyes going to the ceiling rather than to what it is she's writing. It's only once he senses her hand stop moving, that his attention flickers back down onto her. "What are you thinking, Jaya?" his voice breaking the stillness of the air once again.

“What do I know about heart, Shijan?” Jaya returns that, deadpan with a look on her face to match as she shifts up to settle her arms over his one wrapping around her middle. Eyes open once she had stopped her writing, the question unexpected from her bodyguard as she fits a rather guarded look onto the man. She shakes her head but a fraction, “It’s…not easy,” she admits on writing it – beyond her apology, that is. I mean, what, I say ‘Gee, sorry I killed your father and husband by accident while trying to steal from his office’? ‘Sorry, didn’t really feel anything at the time, but it’s okay! Your husband is the bane of my nightmares ever since’?” Sarcasm being her defense again, the Bitran snorting softly before turning her head to catch a glimpse of him. “I can’t write that.” Or her feelings, for that matter, the woman so used to holding them in.

Shijan is quiet many a long moment at that initial question, and then puts forth through a gentle and unseen smile, "It's because you have a heart that any of this is even necessary." Given in slightly pointed statement. A light squeeze of his arm about her as she lays hers over it and then his head goes back against the wall once again, listening in silence to all that she says next. "Yes," he states simply, "That is what you write." Negating her response on not being able to do so. "Tell them how you felt then. How you feel now. That it keeps you from a full and proper night's sleep." Echoing what she herself had just admitted to. There comes but the barest brush of thumb against her side in encouragement.

On having a heart, Jaya snorts quietly to that as she taps the writing stylus to the sheet absently. “Yeah,” she says to that after a long pause. “Much good it’s doing me. Starting to think my aunt had the right of it all this time.” Granted her aunt’s in the mines serving time, but… Feeling Shijan’s gentle caresses, she sighs as she returns to the task at hand and puts the writing stylus back to work: I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention to kill your husband, and your children’s father. His life wasn’t worth the very object I was trying to steal, and for that I have been paying with my life ever since. I hope the marks find you and your family well, and I will continue to send them for as long as I can. It’s not much, and it won’t bring Hasen back, but, at least I would know you were taken care of. She pauses after writing that, her eyes staring at nothing before she adds, I felt nothing when I killed – no, I lie. I felt something. Anger. I felt anger, at him. If he hadn’t been there, trying to stop me…I know that’s wrong, and the remorse I feel now has been a burden for me, but back then, I was much younger than I am now. Back then, I cared little about who got in my way. Stylus goes down again, the need for a drink never being as strong as it is right at this moment.

Spoken as if maybe he'd dozed off for a moment, with his head leaned back against the wall, and eyes closed as they are. "Had the right of what right?" Shijan asks in the quiet of the room. Feeling the shift in her posture as Jaya gets back to writing, he once again lapses silent. If he's able to read any of what gets put down, he gives no hint thereof. When the stylus goes down, the former harper shifts his shoulders against the wall slightly and perhaps having been around her long enough by now to know what might be going through her mind with regards to needing a drink, gives low, "Not now."

Sniffing, her head turning a fraction as if she could see Shijan behind her, “Don’t need a heart in the lifestyle we’re in,” Jaya mutters her aunt’s words so long ago, tapping her writing stylus against the sheet again. Well, that was the ‘tame’ way her aunt said it. Writing stylus lifts and she scribbles down, Just know, that the one responsible has been dealing with the consequences of that day ever since. She pauses as if thinking of writing more, but then the stylus goes down. “It’s done.” She wasn’t going to sign it or write any ending pleasantries like ‘I hope this finds your family well,’ or ‘Please be well,’ or even a ‘Goodbye.’ The last words were good enough, abrupt enough. She lifts the letter up as if to read over the painful words, eyes narrowing at it even though she well heard his last. Somehow, Shijan always knew what she was thinking at certain times, and if that doesn’t unsettle her enough… “Is that part of your job description?” The low words were meant to be in mockery of his managing to read her, though it comes off more even-toned than that.

"A heart," Shijan gives after a pause, "is what separates you from them." Still holding to what he'd said of her earlier. It's when Jaya announces her letter done and lifts it up, that the former harper's eyes unlid and he takes the chance to do a quick scan through the contents, his expression a blend of satisfaction for her having completed the first part of the exercise and melancholy for the burden carried by his younger charge. His free hand lifts from next to him with the teak skinned man reaching around her to take the letter from her and lay it to one side of him, if she'll allow. A sound vibrates in his chest that could be laughter but never quite makes it out as such. "It's what you do most nights. Reach for the bottle at the end of the day, as if to drown," his hand lifts once again and gestures toward the letter, "all of this." Giving explanation on how he'd realized where her mind was going as well as leaving no doubt as to just how closely he's been watching the woman. The timbre of his voice more somber now, "And now the other one." Prompting for the letter he wants her to write to the dead man himself.

With him taking the letter from her, “Do you have a heart?” Jaya blurts on the tail end of his words, her head turning again to get him in her peripheral view. Hands freed of the letter goes for the writing stylus again, the woman toying with it when she feels more than hears that sound vibrating in his chest since she’s leaning up against him. Shijan’s observations of her draw an unseen look, brow furrowing slightly towards the wall before drawling out, “Well the drinking ain’t all belonging to this, shuga. I am my father’s daughter, aren’t I?” Snorting, as she puts stylus to the new blank sheet before her, “I’m just following in his footsteps.” Yeah. Surely that’s not the only reason, but Jaya’s not putting voice to it. Her mind’s trying to figure out how much else the man’s been learning about her in his time spent being her bodyguard. Not even Tackas had the nerve… So. A letter to a dead man. Sorry I killed you, she starts the letter off short enough, though she immediately crosses a line through it and moves down to the next to write instead, I hate that you haunt me. All I can see is your eyes. Maybe you think it was my intention to harm you, but it wasn’t. She pauses here, rereading what she wrote before she leans back into him alittle and asks in a quiet voice, “You ever killed before?"

Where most others might have simply answered with a 'I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't.', Shijan is faintly amused by that question and so answers it with one of his own, "What do you think?" Silent again in the wake of her words on drinking before stating quietly, "You don't have to be, Jaya." Like her father. He doesn't add more to that. Not now in any event. As Jaya once again begins writing, his arm about her middle tightens and then he once again lapses into that interminably patient silence, seemingly lost within in whatever thoughts of his own that might be occupying him while she writes. Then again, maybe not for with the dark haired woman leaning back against him and asking what she does, his reply is given without pause, gravity lowering his baritone, "Yes."

Shijan’s answer (or rather, question) to her own gets a quiet snort from Jaya and a roll of her eyes that he probably doesn’t see. With his arm tightening about her, I’ve been mad at you for that day, she writes down, brows furrowing. If you hadn’t stormed the room, I could have gotten out. Everything would be fine. I wouldn’t have been on the run for over five fucking turns because of a boss that chose to throw me under the wagon instead of himself. He says I should have killed you sooner – that I wouldn’t have been in this mess. That I deserved what I got. You must think I do, too. “I think you study me too closely,” she finally answers that first, even though it was probably rhetorical. As to her not having to be her father, that gets a frown, but she doesn’t answer it. You seemed to have gotten the better deal than the lot of us, she starts to write again, the stylus flying over the page. At least you don’t have to suffer. I’ve hated you before, but I don’t now. Your dying wasn’t your fault. It was mine. Remorse, when it hits, can be one heady bitch. “First one as hard?” she asks at his answer, making the assumption that he has done it more than once.

The snort has his amusement lingering and then it drops away again into that lingering pool of silent meditation when Jaya sets to writing again. Eyes closed again, Shijan puts a rare and faint tease forth, "It's in my job description," his studying her closely. Remorse is indeed a bitch with a sharp bite. His reply when it comes, is spoken quietly, the man's frame shifting only slightly in his lean against the wall, his arm about her translating a minutely tighter grip. "Always," as if she's not the first he's worked with in this regard and perhaps alluding to the fact that he personally has always found having to take another human life to be a somber and grave affair, not to be handled with flippant indifference. As it should.

That rare tease heard from her bodyguard actually draws forth a small smirk from Jaya before stylus goes to sheet again. You may want to know why I did it. At the time, it was either you or me. Survival, right? Because the others with me that day were going to abandon me there if hadn’t hurried. I had no thought of what I did, but ever since I would relive the moment over and over in my head. Some nights are better than others where I don’t see all the blood, but then there’s those other nights … Eyes go unfocused for a moment, whatever amusement that lingered in her now fading completely. It’s almost as if she hasn’t heard his answer to her quiet question, the silence coming from her as heavy as the room itself before she continues writing. I will see that your family is taken care of, Hasen. I used to watch them when I could. I can’t anymore these days. It’s alright if you hate me. I think I know the feeling. Stylus hesitates before going down, the woman sliding the letter up for her eyes running through it once more before she wordlessly passes it onto Shijan without looking.

His frame, relaxed beneath hers as she writes, tenses ever so minutely when the stylus stops and that heavy silence stretches across the room. Shijan's head lifts away from the wall his chin moving over her shoulder, now in open study of the words written down on that hide, letting her know that he was reading them. With a faint nod of head giving satisfaction for a task well completed, he takes it from her and sets it down on top of the other. Removing the wrap of his arm from about Jaya, his voice once again breaks through the quiet, "Now you need to get your tinderbox and an empty jug." Say what?

Jaya was figuring he was going to read the letters anyway, and with Shijan trespassing enough tonite, she doesn’t bother hiding any of what’s written. Moving a little once his arm is moved from her middle, “You need…what?” she twists a bit to look his way, frowning for a long moment. She does comply though, lips coming together so that she slides off the bed and goes towards her desk collect up those very things. A tinderbox in one hand, and an empty jug in another, she turns around and approaches the bed where he is and shifts her hips as she remarks, “Please tell me we’re burning those and popping open a nice bottle of brandy.” Those being the letters she had just finished writing.

Shijan has little response to her first other than to lift a brow in a sort of no-nonsense type gesture. And if he's watching her ass as Jaya goes to get what he's asked for, you can bet she'll only find him back in that, eyes 'closed' head against the wall posture when she returns. Heh. That shift of hips? Totally not noticed. Ayup. Riiight. But he's that good at masking that his attention looks to be held instead the items in her hands, piercing gaze lifting to her eyes for the latter quip given, mouth folding around a wry line but making no response to it. Hands go out for the items and then he nods to a place beside him on the bed. If she's given him the tinderbox and jug and settled herself, he'll gesture with a push of chin toward the letter written to the dead man. Voice dropping back into that same quiet timbre of before, "Take that one, hold it in your hands and close your eyes. Picture Hasen as you last saw him," dead, "And then read the letter out loud to him." That the first part of his instruction.

Jaya’s not going to put on any clothes. This is her room. She tosses the tinderbox towards him first at that no-nonsense look, then settles into the bed on knees before she hands the jug over. She meets that piercing gaze head on, willing herself not to be intimidated by the man as she drops down and sits beside him. Once Shijan starts to speak, her eyes go towards that top letter dubiously, and when he finishes his instructions, “Uhhhh…” she begins, not knowing about this step as she shoots a look his way. Frowning heavily now, “And what’s that going to do?” Ever the curious, though it’s likely her buying time to figure a way out of this one. Write to a dead person was one thing, but speaking out loud to one while a memory of his corpse is fresh in her head? Talk about a mind fuck!

Had he remained in the Harper Hall, Shijan could likely have become one of their most valuable assets given his strength of will and natural talents. That is neither here nor there now but one can bet it goes a long way to maintaining that cool facade while in the private quarters of woman, in the middle of the night. A naked woman, at that. Carefully schooled into neutrality is the expression he presents to Jaya for her discomforted question. A hand breaks free from that almost indifferent air he's got going on and reaches for her chin, looking deep into her eyes as he states low, "Break the dam." A mindfuck, yes. But one with constructed purpose. Dropping long fingers away from her and retreating back into that impassive cloak, he nods at the letter, "Close your eyes, and then start reading."

Shijan’s hand to her chin puts Jaya on pause, the barkeep meeting that intense gaze for a moment before blinking a few times and looking away and back towards the letter. She reaches to take it, the woman throwing one darker look his way before she brings the letter up for her to read. Eyes closing for only a moment with her taking a deep breath, she slowly starts to read through the short note. At first there was the Dicori bravado, put in place for whenever she’s so nervous to do anything else, but as she got into the letter, she was finding it hard to continue. Husky tone lowers as she goes, gets slower, and the hand holding the letter shakes a bit before she blinks back the tears threatening to blot out the letter completely. Letter goes down before finishing and she looks away for a moment, eyes closing as she tries to gather herself together, and she’ll even shoot Shijan a dirty look for putting her through this.

Deadstill and immobile as if the man were carved from wood, his gaze blank-eyed as he watches the woman struggle heavily through reading the letter out loud. One can be sure that the internal battle he wages to simply take her in his arms and soother her, is fierce. However, not a shred of that is shown. Only when she falters and sends him that dirty look does a brow break free from that impassive visage and lift upward in firm prompt for her to continue. Jaya was close, so very close that he could almost feel it. He couldn't let her stop now and take the risk of undoing how far she'd already come. And so he puts word to expression too, giving out a stern, "Read." In the dark, his jaw tightens faintly, hating this necessary but unsettling part of his job.

Jaya locks that dark gaze at Shijan, looking quite mutinous. She wants to argue. The Jaya of the Dicori clan would have told him to shove it and let her temper blow out. It was the natural way of things – at least it was from where she came from. None of that was happening this night, though. Shijan seems to have a hold on her and she was hating him for it right now. She did not want to continue this, so the one worded command has her jaw tightening before him. Or trembling. That anger isn’t exploding forth though. It’s in her eyes, but she couldn’t bring it like she always could. No one told her what to do! Right? With threats and warnings dying on her lips, she finally turns away from him and picks up the letter. It’s another pause before she reads again, her voice low and broken as she pushes herself through it. Her stomach heaves a little through the words, her dark unbound hair spilling forward enough to cover most of her face and scar – but she keeps on reading. It’s only when she reaches the end, the last word lingering in a whisper on the air that the letter goes down again and there’s a trail of tears down her cheeks from having fallen quietly while she finished. She wipes at those tears in frustration, hating the silence in the room. Hating him for making her remember. Hating herself for those betraying tears. No words of sarcasm or mockery comes this time on what happens next, the Bitran’s cold and collected mask having finally slipped to show the scared and vulnerable 18 turn old young woman before him.

Shijan quite likely expects that anger to come boiling forth, his eyes never leaving hers, daring her to do it. For even anger is a means to lifting the lid off the pot she otherwise keeps so firmly lidded. It would however, simply mean he'd have to resort to stronger methods. The former harper's expression remains unchanged though, just the edge of firm resolve setting the angles and planes of his face. Neither does he touch her, for this is something Jaya must do entirely alone. His presence in the room being all that he can offer until this is done. Only once her last word has whispered out, is there any movement from the man accompanied by the soft snick of flint against steel followed by darkness that warps and dances before the small flame flaring to life. Carefully igniting a long sliver of wood treated to allow for a slow burn, he holds it between them, his face casting into eerie shadow and light. Baritone only just above a murmur and stroked through with compassion, the next instructions are given. "Now roll the letter up and close your eyes again. This time, picture him…in peaceful slumber." The sliver of wood has enough length that he has time enough for her to digest and do as directed before it burns down to his fingers, the small flame glittering across the trail of tears on the cheeks of the young woman stripped bare of her masks next to him.

This is going to be one of those nights where Jaya will deny everything should anyone else know about it. She’s also certain Shijan wasn’t one of those that would her business to those that didn’t need to know – even though a part of her realizes that he does work for another. She remains in the same position she is, staring at nothing when the sudden light in her room draws her attention. Eyes follow that light to the wood between Shijan’s fingers, the silent tears continuing to fall freely now as she listens to his next instruction. This step seems much easier to do than the last, even though moreso now in the state she finds herself. She was bared, the Bitran having only been so once or twice in her young life, and she has worked hard to put together such guards and defenses so that no one else would get to see her like this. Those guards were crumbling this night, and it was putting the barkeep at a loss on how quickly to put them back up again. So, she sees Hasen in peaceful slumber, slumped over his worktable like she had seen him numerous times when she had to case his place. Even alive he had always seemed to work himself to sleep – being that she would sit there and watch for hours. Her eyes close and a sigh barely heard escapes her lips as she slowly rolls the letter up with deft fingers tightly. She still remains in her silence.

He does indeed work for another. However, it is he and he alone that decides which information to hand over and which to keep locked in the quiet existence of his mind, the tearful young woman finally facing at least one of her ghosts being one such thing. For a moment, Shijan looks away to set the tinder box down on the floor, using that brief span in time to carefully push back the tiny crack that had broken through his façade in the face of her sorrow and remorse. The time for him to allow such things to be seen would come. Later. Right now he had a task to bring to completion. Straightening once again, the slow burning sliver of wood is held out to her, an encouraging smile drawn faintly upon his lips, "Now burn it," the letter, "and say goodbye, as if he were here in this very room with you."

To Jaya, when she does look a little his way all she sees is the cool and collected man that has managed to shake her to her core – that cool and collected that she most desperately wants to hide behind right about now. When Shijan holds out the wood for her to take, she’s slow in taking it. Her eyes linger on it first, the fire glinting off the trail of tears on her face before she transfers that look to catch the faint encouraging smile. Her own expression never changing, she lets the silence in the room speak for her once the next task is spoken. She looks down at the wood before taking it, making sure not to burn her fingers in the process as she in careful grace, brings the fire to meet the rolled letter. She watches in seeming fascination as the fire catches onto the letter immediately, its slow burn having her bring the letter close for inspection as it eats through the words she had pain-stakingly written. It’s long moments where she just stares at its burning a bit, the scarred faced woman finally breaking her silence in the dark with a low and hoarse, “See you around, Hasen.” Wherever he was, if he was below ground. Her eyes close to that then, no longer watching her words burn, letting the man’s image of slumber fade from her mind along with that quiet farewell. Perhaps she could feel him leaving, though the memories won’t likely ever fade from her mind.

Shijan, in that silent shroud he wears like a second skin, watches as the flames lick and curl about the letter, his eyes lifting briefly to Jaya's face, expression solemn for this simple 'ceremony'. Perhaps sensing Jaya's thoughts on the matter of the man she'd killed, he finally reaches out an arm toward her in invitation to lean in against his side or crawl back into his lap. Whichever she feels the most comfortable with. Stated in that same low tone he's been using throughout, although now there's open feeling and understanding allowed free into it, "He will never truly be gone, Jaya. For he cannot be. He will always be a part of you. But a part of you that now has been set free." And hopefully in the process, some of the pain and remorse so strongly associated. The second letter is taken up, carefully folded and shifting he sets it to a trouser pocket, "I'll see that this gets delivered."

Jaya hesitates a moment before drawing herself into Shijan’s arm, then onto his lap with a clouded look going in his direction. A part of her craves that warm touch, so for her the option was obvious. His words on Hasen draws on her silence, still watching the small flames flicker and devour the letter all the way down until it gets close to her fingers. Only here is when she leans forward to blow the flames out. “I…” she finally breaks her silence, trying to find the words to speak. “Thanks,” she chooses to say instead, not watching where that second letter goes. Her eyes still remain on the whisps of smoke curling up from the eaten letter piece still held in one hand. Turning her head a fraction towards him, “Thank you,” she tells him, this one not for what he says, but perhaps for what he has done. Emotions were still raw, but there seemed to be a small sense of peace in her hoarse tone now. She leans against him in his lap for support, the tears not falling as rapidly now.

With Jaya seeking to curl herself up in his lap, both of Shijan's arms move to wrap about her, much of the tension he'd held in his frame now gone and thus providing the fragile young women with warm and yielding solace. His eyes, as hers, hold to that cleansing letter burning away to little more than ashes. The flames blown out and her room slipping back into near darkness once again, she might miss the faint smile followed by the brief incline of head that greets her thanks. Sincerely spoken as he dips his head forward and brushes lips lightly against her temple, "Thank you for not fighting me." His instincts, like those of any normal man are to soothe her raw emotions in a more physical way but he knows better than to do so, senses that his remaining viewed in the light of trusted protector, is likely what she needs more right now. And so he'll simply keep his arms about her, rocking every so slightly back and forth while returning to humming the opening bars of that self same lullabye he'd entered with.

Eyes close when Shijan wraps himself about her, Jaya finally feeling the silence of the room in her heart as well in without. The kiss to her temple draws but the faintest of smile as tensions leave her body and she turns a bit to lay the scarred side of her face close to the beating sound of his own heart. The mumbled response, incoherent at best, is all that is heard, the man figuring right that his presence as her protector this night being the best thing she needed more than anything else. She lets him rock her as her eyes remain closed as that song envelops her, pulling her down into a place of open solace the likes of which she hasn’t felt since being her deceased mother’s presence when she was a child. Sure, she’ll likely have returned to herself in the morning – all tough and acting as if she was untouchable with her guards crafted back in place. She’ll act as if Shijan was just a piece of the furniture for the most part, unless to go out of her way to annoy him here and there when it suited her. Despite all that, it will never compare to this moment when some of the darkness fades from her eyes as she slowly gets rocked towards a calmer peace of mind this night.

Yes, he's well aware that come the next day, he'll become little more than a shadow once again, with Jaya back to needling him whenever the urge takes her. But then that's just exactly how he'd rather it be, the less attention drawn to himself, the better. Shijan remains like that, humming softly, rocking the vulnerable young woman gently until he feels her breathing alter telling him that sleep has finally claimed her in soft embrace. Ever so carefully, he shifts in his position, laying her down on her pillow then drawing the sheets up over her before settling down on the floor with his back against the frame of her bed, keeping watch over Jaya as she sleeps. However, come morning, she'll awake to find him gone and her bedroom door once again locked against the outside world. When next she encounters the man 'reporting' for duty, he'll give no show of what had transpired the night before, other than a faint smile and dip of head before taking up his post at the door of her bar.



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