Reaching Middle Ground


Keane.jpg Max.jpg

Date: Feb. 28, 2011
Location: Max's Office, EW
Synopsis: After getting back in from his retreat at the cove with Indira, Keane stops by to see Max. The two discuss the growing relationship between himself and the Headwoman, and Keane delivers a letter left behind by one crimelord to another.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Keane

It's not for long that Indira and Keane get in from their restful, retreat, the beach and sun having done wonders to the man. After having checked in on Jaya at her bar and made sure that Crawl - Kelarad's second-in-command that chose to stick around with him - was well-placed and secure, Keane finally chose this time to seek out the south's new crimelord. He missed out on all the events involving Olira and the Tillekian crimelord, but since Kelarad is well absent he assumed that the two parties have met out already. He steps into the stables, eyes roaming about with interest over the stalls as he pieces together all that Jaya had told him about the place. It did amuse him that Indira's son chose this place to be his place of business, but then he's heard of stranger places. The Ralka boys operate out of a bar. Maybe not too far-fetched, considering his own business, but…

There is many a reason that Max has chosen the stables out of which to conduct business. Not the least of which is the unexpectedness thereof as well as his continuing on in his role as beast manager, going a long way to deflecting suspicion from those not in knowledge of his more clandestine title. And so, in keeping with said role, the young crimelord is to be found in a stall with a somewhat rambunctious palomino coloured stallion that is doing anything but comply with having a head halter put on him. Max unaware of Keane’s presence in the beast caverns seems undaunted by the snorting and jerking of head Renegade employs and continues to croon low unintelligible sounds to the big beast in soothing tones.

As he steps in further without anyone stopping him, Keane catching note of the sounds coming mostly from one stall and moves to investigate. It's not everyday that the old barkeep finds himself in the stables, especially since he never grew up near a Hold nor Weyr. Kasjan was the one of his siblings interested in runners, after all. Once he comes upon the stall, he finds Max there crooning at the beast, his brow hiking up at finding the young crimelord in such a state. Taking a look about them to make sure that all that was present at the moment was just the beasts, "Kelarad must have been beside himself, finding the new crimelord of the south tending runners," he grunts out his amused greeting from behind, his gaze lighting on the runner in question. "Good disguise as any, I'd wager. Who here would accuse a mere beast tender to the crime of running wild?"

Foot traffic in the beast caverns during the day, is a constant ebb and flow as stablehands and runner owners come and go about their daily business and so challenge to presence is negligible with just Boxtol’s sharp gaze settling on the Telgari as he moves deeper into the caverns. With his back having been to the stall half door, both Max and the runnerbeast startle at the sound of Keane’s voice and the name dropped causing the young beast manager to lose focus enough that Renegade is able to jerk his head free smacking his handler alongside the head in the process. “Fuck! Quit it you ornery shit for brains!” This as he reels a step or two sideways and then whirls, a filthy look in place that drains away to be replaced by open surprise when his narrowed gaze lands on the older barkeep from the north. “Keane? What in Faranth’s name are you doing here?” a hand lifting to rub at the side of his head as a somewhat sheepish expression forms for the string of expletives that were forming to fling out at the one he’d look set to hold responsible for the beaning he’d just received. As to Renegade? If it were at all possible for a runner to look smug, that’s the expression the stallion would be wearing now for having temporarily won the battle of the head halter.

Keane's smirk only hitches up a notch upon realizing that his presence was not expected in the stables, and so the ensuing comedy of the beast winning over the beast manager gets low rumbly laughter from him. The string expletives being tossed along with that filthy look to drain only a second later gets an amused and rather witty "I should've knocked." Right. But his name is being called out and the barkeep passes the runner a look as he decides on whether or not to step into the stall or not. To the question, "And here I thought my presence all this time would have been noted to you," he answers with an incline of his head. "I came by way of Kelarad. He has gone, and I have stayed - at least for just a few days more. Yeah, which makes one wonder where the heck the man's been for the last four days to not have stopped by the stables sooner. Hands clasping behind his back now as he steps to the side, "Need a hand?" and he shoots a look to the rather smug runner then.

Max is one to take laughter at his expense in good humour, and so a low chuckle spills out for the older man’s quip on having knocked first, and he tips his head the runner’s way, “Reckon he knocked for ya.” Yeah, on his head. Dark eyes then narrow slightly when it comes to light that Keane had already been in the Weyr for a few days with it being plain to see that the beast manager is not happy about his sources having failed him in the matter. Then again, the chances are good that his mother likely had a hand in that. Lips twist wryly as Max stoops, takes up the tossed aside head halter and exits the stall latching the half door firmly behind him, “So you’re the guest he brought with him.” A rueful look goes back Renegade’s way who now that his handler has stepped out of the stall seems to have gone as docile as a kitten and is quietly munching on a bale of hay, “He lives to see another day unbacked, the ornery bastard.” Fondness in his tone for the big beast despite his words. Back to the Telgari as he hangs the head halter on a hook just outside of the stall, “You down here to check up on Jaya then?”

Keane's laughter is an easy one to Max's quip, approving of the fact that the young man could take a tease or two. He doesn't explain much to why he's been around for so long and haven't sought the beast manager out, head moving a bit from side to side before responding to his eye-narrowing, "That I am," he drawls to being the Tillekian crimelord's guest wryly. "Been out of the Weyr for a few days, so my presence hasn't been that strong about here. Since Renegade is to be left alone, the barkeep steps aside to let Max out of the stall, and then he follows the man up to the question put to him. Shrugging a bit as he takes a look around at the stablehands running about, "Jaya, Olira …" he ticks off in a non-chalant voice, not looking in Max's direction. "The Headwoman. Making sure all of my girls are okay." The way he slips in words and the tone he speaks, it would be easy to miss what he was really saying there. Running a hand across his mouth, "Got a minute? I have something from Rad for you I found waiting for me when I got back," and he pats the pocket of his pressed shirt in indication.

A crooked grin is turned out as Max starts to move away from the stall, turning in the direction of his office, “Rather you than Bhedri.” And then he pauses and turns a curious look onto the older man when he reveals he’s been out of the Weyr, “Took a tour of Landing I assume?” Faint surprise evident if this proves to be true. Spotting one of the younger stablehands paused in his work of mucking out a stall as he leans on a rake clearly daydreaming, the beast manager stoops, picks up a brush used for grooming the runners and tosses it at the youngster’s head, his aim true, “Rashdor! To work!” A yelp comes from the teen as the brush connects and he quickly gets back to work with a mumbled, “Boss.” As such he almost misses that nonchalant reference to Keane being down South to visit with ‘his girls’, the Headwoman being named among them. Almost but not quite for dark eyes narrow onto the Telgari barkeep and once again his steps halt as he turns to face the man, “Your girls, eh?” suspicion colouring his tone, “Headwoman’s hardly a girl, barkeep.” Tone flat, a smidgeon of warning laced into it. If he heard the last about there having been something left behind by Kelarad for him, he’s set it aside for the time being.

Brows both lift at the first. "You crossed paths with Beddie?" Keane finds that amusing, shaking his head. At the words on Landing though, he looks away to inspect some of the work going on about them as he answers, "Haven't been by Landing. Is it worth the trip that I've heard?" The man was planning to definitely catch that place the next time he's down. The brush thrown at the teen he was staring at gets an amused snort, then he turns from Rashdor to regard Max when he answers on his mother. finding himself facing the other when he turns back, "No, she's not," he is easy to grunt on Indira hardly being a girl - even if she was much younger than he was. But he catches the warning all the same, but the barkeep is not one to back down. This talk was bound to happen, and he would rather face the young crimelord than write it all in a letter. Fingers hooking into his belt as he straightens and looks Max in the eye, "Reckon you don't know," he notes, nodding to the obvious. Beat. "Care about your mother a lot. Have been for awhile. Never met a woman quite like her. There you go." Blunt, isn't he? He has the look of every ounce of confidence to boot, as if he was ready for any punch that could come his way. For now, talk on the note from Kelarad is set aside in turn. "Feeling's been mutual."

Wry laughter wells up, “Almost crossed a whole lot more.” Max gives in response to having met the other Dicori twin and leaves it at that when the older man reveals he hadn’t been passed Landing. Once again eyes narrow and then the beast manager’s shoulders shift in a seemingly nonchalant shrug to whether or not the place is worth a visit, “If you’re of a mind to stare at a big ass contraption.” His business at Landing of course having nothing whatsoever to do with AIVAS. But then Keane’s facing him and delivering revelation he’d never expected to hear. His first reaction is shock, dark eyes widening as he simply stares at the Telgari barkeep, speechless for a moment and then a muscle sets to ticking in his jaw. “No, I didn’t know,” flatly spoken as a hand instinctively closes into a fist at his side giving those few working in the caverns pause as they sense the mounting tension between their boss and the older man. Having met that look from Keane steadily for a few moments with a grim expression in place, the younger man forces his hand to unclench, holding the older with too much regard to go the route of decking him as he has done with younger suitors. Hearing that the feelings are mutual between Headwoman and barkeetp, his warning is given in a deadly quiet tone, “You fuck her over and I swear to Faranth I’ll string you up with your own guts on the Star Stones.” It being clear to see that’s no idle threat given there.

Keane's rumbly chuckle bubbles up on talk on Beddie, the barkeep easy on that one. "Met her the once and that was enough for me. A bit too…highstrung for my tastes." On the topic of Landing, he takes the answer at face value and responds wryly back, "Not my style either, that. Thought they built that place up for something more than a big-ass contraption. Of course, he caught him off-guard. He stares on at Max's shock and says nothing at first, brushing his thumb across the bottom of his nose and drawls, "Now you do," with a pointed look towards that closing hand. If he's feeling any mounting tensions, it's not registering - he's calm, and remaining calm, his presence so distinguishing and strong that no nervousness show in his gaze. Hearing the warning, however, he inclines his head with just imperceptible amusement around the corners of his mouth before saying, "I fuck her over, I doubt you'd have to," with just a smidge of wit. "Ain't the sort, Max. Been there, done that with the games. Got enough riding on my life not to risk it," especially with the new crimelord and his mother. Nodding sharply then, "Rather face you while down here and let you know, Max, since it's serious. Not one to slink around on a son's mother without him knowing, and now you're knowin'."

All humour drained away, his silent regard firmly placed on the older man; Max gives a curt nod to now being in the know about his mother and the Telgari. “Credit for having the balls to tell me face to face.” Something none of the Headwoman’s previous suitors have bothered to do. With Keane remaining composed, the beast manager suddenly becomes aware of their audience. Grim faced he snaps out an order for them to get back to work and gestures toward his office with a sharp jut of chin as he turns on his heel and heads in that direction, he clearly not prepared to discuss the matter any further until they have themselves some privacy. If Keane has followed and once they’re inside the converted stall, he’ll close the door firmly behind them and fold his arms across his chest, setting the northern barkeep with another long and intent study, it perhaps being hard to determine quite what his thoughts are on the matter despite the small humour of the other man. Eventually, his head tips to one side and a brow lifts, “Serious, huh?” Yet more silence and then a heavy sigh of resignation spills out as he gestures for the older man to take a seat as he takes to his own. “Seems Jaya had it right then,” beat, “Didn’t have you figured for being the one though.” The very faintest trace of wry humour at play as some of the tension he’d held starts to ease.

"Not a man to go slinking into the night," Keane gives on speaking to him face to face. Dark eyes then take on their audience, and so he complies to following Max into his office and out of the sight of ears and eavesdroppers. "They know what you do on the side?" he asks as he moves, settling down into one of the chairs infront of the desk once the door is shut. If he's noticing the intent study from the crimelord, he's not directly making a show of it. Instead, he's looking about at the new surroundings he's found himself in now, faint curiosity in apt gaze before he twists in the chair to include Max into his study. When Jaya is mentioned, "Jaya?" he echoes that one with slight interest before shaking his head. "Naw, she didn't know either." As to not being figured to be the one, "Who were you expectin'?" he counters then, amusement faint in his gruff tone since he vaguely knows a bit about Indira's past suitors. Then, the corner of his mouth hitching up more, "She tells me that you would kill me," he adds, his gaze now lingering on the young man as he finally takes his seat behind the desk.

Approval, however faint, flickers across Max’s expression, his regard for the older man going up yet another notch. It’s a wry look that gets sent the way of the now closed office door and then he nods in reply to the question put to him, “Aye, some of ‘em do. The ones that need to know.” And that have likewise dual-edged employment in the beast caverns. Dark eyes remain on Keane as he looks about the beast manager’s quarters. “It ain’t much but it suits my purposes…for now.” As if he feels the need to explain his seemingly humble surroundings. As is his custom these days, Max reaches for the ever present bottle of whiskey on his desk, pours a measure each into two glasses and slides the one over to the Telgari barkeep. Taking a slow sip, he disputes the older man’s response on Jaya having known, “Ma…ain’t been herself. I had Jaya look into it and she came away with the notion there was a fella involved somewhere.” Lifting his glass in mock salute, “And here you are.” Though his mouth curves upward at the corners, it’s hard to determine if he’s employing genuine humour or sarcasm there for he glosses over the query on who he thought the Headwoman’s suitor might have been. Southern’s crimelord meets that gaze that lingers over him and gives a dark snort of amusement in response to killing the older man, “Fuck her over and I will.” He reiterates his earlier threat and then asks with almost idle interest, in much the same manner one might expect a father to ask of a daughter’s suitor rather than a son of his mother’s, “What are your intentions?”

"Building your business of men, I see," Keane muses on that initial answer, nodding to what gets said there. It was only evident since the crimelord would bother with setting up shop in a stable of all places. All the same, there's no mockery in his tone like there was in the Tillekian crimelord's days past. Once he's poured a drink, the barkeep tips the glass his way first in thanks before sampling the vintage while he listens. At hearing that Indira hasn't been herself, "Aye, as I haven't myself in my own surroundings," he returns with an amused incline of his head. "Ain't something I planned, or expected, Max. Always kept my distance from such sort since the passing of my wife, and yet…" Here he was. Glass is lifted to that as if in a toast. Once he takes his drink though, "Dicori was right shocked at hearing it was her, though," he lets him know with a coughing chuckle, leaning back in his seat. "She didn't peg that one, but then, neither did I peg her with that bodyguard of hers." Max's repeated warning gets a roguish salute with his glass, the older man seeming used to such threats in the first place. As to intentions? The irony of Max asking the older man is not lost on him. "Right now? Getting to know her, of course," he grunts out wryly. "Ain't looking to throw her into anything, and something tells me she's been through a lot in her life. Don't want to be the next man to fuck her over, as you say. Just want to be her equal," and in all that entails. "Nice to have someone to feel comfortable with again."

A faint smile is the response given to Keane’s words on his growing business before he turns to the matter of the barkeep and the Headwoman, a brow lifting slightly when the older man confesses to having found himself just as out of sorts as Indira. What gets spoken next goes a ways to further easing the tension he’d been holding and finds Max lifting his glass in a similar toast, a wry smile flickering about his mouth as he continues to listen on in silence, sipping occasionally from his glass. Except to interject briefly on the topic of Jaya and her bodyguard, “He’s an odd one, he is.” He clearly having been surprised by the pairing himself. Only once the Telgari has finished speaking, a long pause allowed to fill the air between them does the beast manager give a slow nod and finally lend words to thought. “Reckon everyone has a right to prove themselves,” he concedes and then a more genuine smile starts to form, “and be happy. You make her happy and…” a deliberate pause allowed for to make his point, “you and me’ll be all good.” Thereby giving his blessing, such as it is. Having heard what he needed to, the young crimelord turns to the subject of business, “You said Rad left something for me?”

On talk of Shijan, "I will make it my business to have the man drink in my presence since he confesses to not doing such," Keane notes with an amused snort. "A man that doesn't drink tagged to a woman that drinks many a man under the table is like a dragon paired to a wher." Max then goes silent and Keane adds no more to his words on account of the Headwoman, staring the other down without little apology for his actions. It's only once Max gives into a nod and finally gives his blessing that the barkeep sends him a brief smile and a curt nod in return. "Fair enough," is simply what gets responded with, the man not one with flourishing words. Once the other turns toward business, the barkeep does not tarry. Reaching into one of his shirt pockets to pull out a folded sheet of hide, "You'll excuse my reading it," he notes as he slides it across the desk towards him, eyes full of mirth. "There's not much Kelarad hides from me these days. I see that his meeting with his cousin did not go well. Expected, considering." The letter itself, once unfolded to be read:

My fellow outlaw brother,

I trust this letter reaches you in good spirits and wish I could say the same. The meeting with Olira did not go as well as I hoped. Perhaps this would warm your heart, but it only leaves mine quite cold. While the pregnant matter, as it is, still vexes me, her demeanor along with that of her new friend vexes me more. Your woman speaks words on your intentions with the lot of your new brothers and sisters with disturbing alarm - one that I would like to have further words on. Words that reach ears stating of you rising above your station, above the rest of us, and that we would be the ones done away with should we not follow suit. Such words a Lord Fax would say, and I fancy that I and others like me, or worse, will take her words very seriously. Perhaps she speaks out of turn, and I would hope so for your sake, but I do leave this with one word of caution from a valued friend - if any of what she says prove true, then that will not bode well with you and yours. I do understand, however, that she is but a woman - and women have a tendency in my experience to give opinions on matters that do not concern them - but she is yours. I suggest you counsel her wisely, or at the very least, keep her tongue from the presence of those that have reason to hate a dragonrider.

Our meeting, while in contrast to the one with Olira, gives me much thought. Enclosed is the details to the next arrangement of having my man free of the Reaches. I hope to continue our friendship in these quiet waters.

Kelarad of Tillek

Keane’s comment over the former harper draws a slightly crooked grin from the younger man, “I’d pay good marks to see that man drink.” For he too clearly finds the fact that the man purports not to drink, hard to comprehend. The intractable stare coming from the older man on the topic of the Headwoman draws a faintly approving smile from Max and then he’s reaching for the folded sheet of hide being slid his way. “Seems like there’s not much you don’t know about, hmm?” Though his words might have a reproving ring to them for the Telgari having already read the communicae from the Tillekian , the light smirk puts paid to such thoughts. Settling back in his seat as he reads a brow goes up and then drops and presses toward the other as a heavy frown forms for what is written. A few choice expletives growl out as his jaw sets into a tight line. Swallowing a healthy mouthful of whiskey he sets the glass down with a faint thunk, silent for a short time as he stews, at a bit of a loss as to quite what to say on the matter. Finally, grim faced he lifts his gaze to the older man, “How much damage control is this going to take?” Openly seeking the older man’s advice on the matter.

"Same here," Keane confides on Shijan, rumbling a bit in his laughter before taking a drink. He gets back to business, however, nodding towards the note with a crooked smile in place. "I like to keep myself in the know," he gives for an excuse to what he does and doesn't know, a bare shrug given. "Not much gets by from my bar." The old barkeep watches Max's reaction as he reads closely, not bothering to interrupt the man as he returns to nursing his drink. It's only when his gaze is lifted towards on him along with words that the man leans back more comfortably in his seat and fits a long look onto the young crimelord. Not answering right away, "Damage control?" he echoes that one in a grunt, looking about the office. "Well, that depends…on if there's any truth there," and he nods sharply towards the letter held. "If you ain't lookin' to make yourself into the renegade Lord Fax, then I reckon something like this will blow over with Kelarad in due time. If you are lookin', well…" and here the man lifts gaze to the ceiling, at least briefly. "I would advise you, as he did, on such a course," he drawls, meeting Max's gaze then. "The crimelords of the north are a rather…selfish lot. If they won't get along by Serevan, a man of far more note, then they sure are fuck aren't going to get along by you, son." There's a light snort to that, amused lightly on the matter before adding, "A bottle of good whiskey and making real good on the business you and him have should smooth things over," he suggests with ease then. "Better your woman insulted Kelarad and not some of the others, Max. It would take a whole lot more than a bottle of whiskey and reassuring words to appease the lot of them. Would've loved to have seen Kelarad's face, though," he tacks on, leaning forward with a twinkle in his eye. "Rad doesn't put much store by most women, so to have one rip into him like the letter suggests would have been worth a card game's worth of marks."

Wry the smirk that greets Keane’s smiling words on keeping himself in the know, “No wonder you and Ma hooked up.” Of course, that was before he’d read the contents of the letter, for now very little of that earlier humour remains for having done so a sharp look fixing onto the older man, “Of course there’s no fucking truth to it. I’ve got my hands full down here as it is what the fuck would I want with the north?” His tone a little more heated than intended due to the anger that broils within his chest for the position he now finds himself in with his Tillekian brother in crime. Catching that faint amusement coming off of Keane, dark eyes narrow, “Glad you find it so sharding funny.” And then a growl of disgruntlement is expelled followed by a heavy sigh, “This,” tossing the letter onto his desk, “was the last thing I needed. Especially with the whole Olira situation.” Not to mention his alliance with Tillek still being in its founding stages and more personally, in all likelihood finding himself in need of the other young crimelord’s help in the future when it comes time to retrieve his daughter from out of his territory. And so it is that Max fails to see the humour in Ahnika having torn into Kelarad for the most part a grim cast to his tone when he voices his next, “Aye well, she ain’t gonna much like what I have to say to her either.”

Chuckling on Indira's account, "She seems one and the same," Keane openly agrees there with an incline of his head. "Perhaps it is that we have an understanding, of sorts." Some of his humor ebbs at Max's own, getting confirmation for his not having designs to take over the territories up north. With a light shrug, "One never knows the true mind of a true renegade," he quotes the mantra with ease, perhaps as reason for the crimelord's suspicion. Still, he knew that the young crimelord was sorely upset, and so his amusement does not linger all that long. Watching the letter being tossed to the desk, "The Olira situation was unfortunate," he states, taking personal accountability on that matter with a hand upon his chest. "Kelarad should have expected his cousin to keep the child. Not all of his family has an eye for business only." Sighing heavily then in pause on the last, he regards Max for a moment before asking, "You got your woman involved in this. Not exactly a wise move if she can't hold her tongue to those you're looking to ally yourself with, but what's done is done. If she's to be involved, then she will have to take caution with such delicate matters as you must, son. I imagine," and he lifts his glass to him a bit, "that Kelarad will figure out your true intentions. And if not?" Keane sniffs over his drink. "Well, make a note to do so more directly, is all."

For some or other reason Keane’s comment on knowing the true mind of a true renegade has the effect of drawing a low sound of amusement from the beast manager, “Or a woman,” he adds in somewhat sardonically. Taking up his drink once again, Max puts down another healthy mouthful and puts a dry chuckle out through the slight burn, “The rings ain’t exactly a breeding place for family considerations, aye?” He having at least some understanding of what likely drives Kelarad to be as patriarchal as he shows himself to be. At the older man’s words on having gotten Ahnika involved in the first place, a hand palms over his face in weary gesture and he drops silent before giving a reluctant nod of agreement, “Aye. I should maybe not have involved her. Reckon it ain’t likely fair on her given where her first loyalties lie.” That being to her dragon and then her Weyr, his gaze going to his drink he then adds quietly, “Ma was right. It ain’t no business for a dragonrider to be getting into.” The next nod is firmer in its delivery to advice given on handling future matters more delicately, and the young crimelord straightens a little in his chair, reaching for the hide that carries details on the man to be moved from Tillek to High Reaches, “Reckon I should go up there once we’ve gotten this outta the way. Straighten things out face to face over a bottle of Jaya’s finest and see if I can’t set my Tillekian brother’s mind at ease.”

Keane agrees readily to the spoken addendum by Max with a brief lift of his glass in toast to it before he brings it to his lips. When Max talk about Kelarad's leanings with family, "He wouldn't think so," he answers musingly. "Though I have brought it up with him on starting a family eventually. Such things get in the way of his business, he says. Such a family would get targeted too much, he says. I think what it is is that a woman won't put up with him, is what," he leans forward to confide the last before snorting into laughter. The laughter ebbs on the matter of Max's woman, holding out a hand to stall his words on regret. "Now, now," he puts forth gruffly, shaking his head. "Better to involve her than not, if she's in with you for the long haul. Had my wife involved all through business of the bar. Safer that she knew what was up than keeping it all from her, I reckoned. She didn't like my business and associations with the crimelords, but she held her tongue when it was needed. This may not be the business for a dragonrider," he goes on to say with a stern eye on the young crimelord," especially in your regard of skirting the law so, but you may be able to turn such an association into an advantage. Dragonriders have their uses, after all." Hands up with a shrug, "Dunno your relationship, but shutting her out now may be just as unwise." Contradiction much? "She's in the know, and has been in the know from what you say. That means those keeping their eyes on you are keeping their eyes on her as well - as they did me and my wife. Believe that." Max's words on smoothing things out in person gets a grunt of approval from the old barkeep. "Good move. Have any plans to meet with the others of your circle?"

A sober light shadows dark eyes as Max listens to the older man listing his Tillekian counterpart’s reasons on not having a family of his own and he can’t but help to agree in part though he’s hard pressed not to utter a short laugh at the other’s own reasoning on the matter. “Would take a woman with bronze balls to break that one,” such a thought amusing the southern crimelord to no end. Chuckling eases and then wanes as Keane speaks on the matter of life partners and their involvement in business, interest piquing as he speaks of his deceased wife but he listens in silence, nodding his understanding of what it is the man is saying. Draining the last of his drink, his glass comes away to reveal a rueful smirk, “Don’t plan on trying to disengage her now,” shoulders lift and fall in a faint shrug, “just to…keep it on a need to know basis from now on.” Leaning forward to take up the whiskey bottle, he holds it out over Keane’s glass first in offer of a refill. “Serevan first if I can swing a meet with him,” he gives on meeting the northerners, “Reckon maybe Harvis next.” Seeming more determined than intimidated by such a venture of personal face time with each of the others.

"Temper is more like," Keane counters on the Tillekian being broken, "though in hindsight, he really isn't all that bad compared to some. Reason why I said that smoothing things over like clarifications and misunderstandings would be fair with him." His own glass drained now, the barkeep grunts his agreement on where Max stood with his woman. "Kept Regane on a need-to-know, myself," he approves a bit on that course of action. "She wasn't the overly-curious sort, so it was easy. If she really of the things I was dealing in…" and the man drops his chin to pin a look onto the younger man with significance. "Let's just say she would have left me far sooner than the sickness. Didn't want to alarm her all the time." Only some of the time, his tone seems to suggest. Once Max offers a refill then, he nudges his glass on the desk towards him with a nod in thanks before taking up the last topic with open interest upon hearing that Max has intentions on meeting the crimelord of Nabol. "Dropping a dead body on his lands wasn't greeting enough?" he seems to tease there, his demeanor growing easier and freer with the man as it does for the other crimelords he favors. "Been looking at meeting the man myself someday," he confides, leaning forward. "Serevan's hard to catch unless you know the right people. Reckon you've met the informant that frequents Jaya's bar every now and then by the name of Ralik?" He pauses on the name of the Istan crimelord, a thoughtful expression given towards the younger man in his curiosity before adding in a grunt, "Why him?"

A crooked grin meets Keane’s comment on the Tillekian crimelord before a nod of agreement is given, “Rad’s reasonable enough,” a wry smirk then appears, “so long as you stay on the right side of him.” Max having had personal experience of being on Kelarad’s bad side during his time in Tillek. A low sort of chuckle edged with dryness is his response to women, business and curiosity and then his expression sobers for talk of the older man’s wife possibly having left him had she known the true nature of his operations. A grim cast touches across the younger man’s features, “Ahnika…don’t know the whole of it either. She ain’t familiar of how things need to get done sometimes.” Such as using a charred body to send a message, or flinging someone over a cliff to make a point. “If she were to find out…” broad shoulders shift in a discomforted shrug that tells of him not knowing quite what the weyrling’s reaction would be to such methodology. As such he’s quiet as he refills Keane’s glass and then his own. A cocky grin peels out in response to how he gained the Nabolian crimelord’s attention, “Figured I’d go with a bunch of flowers this time round.” Dark eyes put a long look onto the older man whose advice he was fast starting to come to value as he takes a sip of his drink, “Could use someone more…experienced at my back when I meet up with Serevan.” Putting unspoken offer to the Telgari barkeep to join him on that particular trip. As to Ralik a short nod is given, “Figured he might be the one to carry a message seeking audience to the man. I’ll have Jaya send him my way next time he’s in the Weyr.” With his motives for meeting with Ista’s crimelord next is queried, Max gives a simple roll of shoulder, “Way Rad was talking, Harvis is of a similar mindset to Serevan. I’m interested in hearing the viewpoints of someone younger than Nabol before I hit up the others.” Forewarned is forearmed.

"Better reasonable and that he has a right side to stay on," Keane notes with a touch of wit, nodding. He also nods to Ahnika not knowing the whole of the business, perhaps in approval although he doesn't voice it. "Women always think such matters should handled with sweet words and compassion," he adds to say, referring to his former wife as well. "It's all well and good for some, but for others…such notions will only provoke than appease. It's a risky game to balance being too kind with too harsh, though kindness is in little supply in the lands. Naturally." Flowers has him snorting his amusement to that, shaking his head and remarking, "From body to flowers. Interesting way of courtship, Max." At hearing the next - that he could come along to the meeting with Serevan - he straightens up a bit to fit a long look to the man. His desires of meeting with that particular crimelord only being known by another particular crimelord, and that the irony of such an offer coming now from the new southern crimelord whose mother he lays claim to is not lost on him. With a slow incline of his head, blinking, "I have always wanted to meet the man," he admits his desire to him, appearing taken aback by the offer given. He tacks on on the talk of Ralik then, "Make sure you have marks on you. The man hardly wipes ass without marks being in hand." Now switching to Max's motives on meeting Harvis, the barkeep regards the words in return with a nod and a slight furrow of his brow. "Similar, yes," he allows on similarities between Harvis and Serevan. "Harvis is more ambitious, more active, I've heard. Serevan has become too far removed from matters of Pern in his age. Never met the man though, but I hear he's sound. Misplaced, even, for he's far more harper than crimelord from the way I hear it from those that dealt with him."

Amusement meets Keane’s words on Kelarad and then slips away as a sigh is uttered along with a nod of head to wisdom given on the matter of how business needs to be conducted in the underbelly of Pern compared to the soft approach that women might find preferable. Quiet a moment as he toys with his glass, dark eyes set to the contents that swirl within, Max speaks confession to the dead body he’d dropped as message, his tone held low, “He didn’t die by my hand.” And then his gaze lifts and fixes onto the older man, “But she wouldn’t have understood why I had to do what I did.” He starting to view the Telgari barkeep as some kind of mentor for such an admission would never have been made to another. And so the smile he turns out for Keane’s amusement on going from bodies to flowers is small in its presentation with it drifting off as he meets that long look from the other dead on. Letting the pause spread and become pregnant, the young crimelord once again gives a glimmer of a smile, “Your experience and advice would be highly valued in meeting such a one as Nabol’s crimelord, Sir.” The form of address he affords the older man speaking to the high regard in which he’s coming to view him in. Wry the chuckle that shapes and presents itself for the payment that would be expected by Ralik, “Then I shall be sure to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” A nod is given to the similarities and differences between Serevan and Harvis, “One would be wise to compare the two and find a good middle ground, aye?” Thus further explaining his reasoning between meeting the two one after the other if possible. Interest is however piqued when its suggested that the older crimelord has Harperlike tendencies and it shows in the lift of brow that’s given.

There's no reaction towards hearing that the body laid down on Serevan's doorstep was not by Max's own hand. Grunting, "Most women wouldn't," he agrees on Ahnika not being able to understand such dark tactics. "Such course of action would be unthinkable to them. It was effective, that move. Got the lot's attention, I'd wager. Even Vaputero's." He looks a bit flushed at hearing such high regard for himself in being let along to meet the Nabol crimelord, acknowledging those words with a drink from his glass. "Then we both will get to be satisfied by this one trip," he decides to say, meeting Max's gaze with a crooked smile as he gives in his consent to going. As if he would turn an opportunity like this down! On finding middle ground between Ista and Nabol, a thoughtful silence greets it before leaning forward and returning with "You may find Ista to be a true ally. Serevan brings forth respect, but his light is dimming. There will come a time when he would need a successor, and such a topic has been wagging the tongues up north for months. Some think Harvis should be his replacement, but to have a man over two territories?" Keane snorts to that, shaking his head. "But I trust Serevan. That man's always five steps ahead of everyone, and you'll see it. He'll keep the rest of Pern stewing over who's to succeed him, I'll wager!" He can tell Max's interest is piqued on Harvis having harper tendencies, adding in wryly, "Word is that Harvis was a harper that left the Hall turns ago. Hasn't been confirmed, but if there's truth to it, it would explain how he manages to have some harpers working in his pocket throughout. Definitely explains his demeanor. Far too….civilized, I believe. Holdbred."

One corner of Max’s mouth lifts up in a wry smile for his body drop having had the desired effect and he gives a short nod, “As I’d hoped.” Dark eyes take in the slight flush of the older man with a faint trace of amusement, the beast manager lifting his glass in toast of the arrangement now put in place, “To satisfaction and making new friends.” Not that he honestly thinks he and Serevan are about to become best buds, but the sentiment to forming new alliances is there nonetheless. Swallowing a half mouthful of his whiskey, his grin turns crooked, “Sun, beach, scantily clad women, what’s not to like?” that his almost good-natured comment to potentially aligning himself with Ista. With more sobriety at play, “Two territories might go to the head of a single man,” he agrees and then amusement once again etches across his features on the matter of Serevan, “Sounds like the man has a flair for the dramatic. Can’t say I blame him though. Word of his successor gets into the wrong hands before the man’s set up and it could be the shortest term a crimelord has yet served, aye?” Fully understanding how things work in the darker edges of society. Low laughter spills into the glass lifted to his lips, taking it away without having had a drink, he gestures toward Keane with it, “Civilised, eh? Perhaps I should keep the flowers for my Istan brother then, aye?” Teasing there, though it’s plain to see that his curiosity has simply been peaked further by talk of Harvis having had Harper training at some point or another. “Ma’s got some contact with the Hall, might have her look into that before I head up to meet him.”

Keane joins in this toast to making new friends, grunting his assent before taking a drink himself. Once the glass is down, "Dramatic? Hardly, I hear," he counters on Serevan chucking shortly. "Watching his own ass thoroughly, is all. As you say, two territories will go to the head of one man. Does that mean you do not have such ambitions yourself?" he asks now, regarding Max with interest. On further matter of Harvis, the barkeep snorts his amusement at the words given there and returns "Harvis just might like that. Hear more rumor of him preferring men than what sort of business he runs with the Istan docks with Mek and Talia. You can be surprised the words that come through my bar on any given day, hm?" Glass is raised and the man drains the last of his drink before audibly setting it back down and getting to his feet. On the last he nods, smirking a bit as he says, "Might be best. I'd be really interested in hearing what you make of him when you meet him. I prefer dealing in truth, not rumors. Higher pay."

Keane’s question to him draws the young crimelord up short and he puts what might look to be a bit of a blank look onto the older man and then he’s fitting him with a slightly sly smile, “If another territory suddenly came free I wouldn’t turn it down,” a small pause is left and then he adds, “But I ain’t looking to try overthrowing no one.” Although quite how he’d manage two territories at the same time, especially with one being in the south, would be anyone’s guess. Brows go up and Max clears his throat when its revealed that Ista’s crimelord is purported to favour his own sex leaving him able to utter little more than a lame, “Oh,” and then taking a hasty swallow of his drink. His interest does however peak when the Telgari barkeep pulls Mek and Talia’s names into the mix with regards to Harvis and the Istan docks, “Might be I have more to offer the three of them than they might realize then.” He doesn’t however go into detail, leaving just an enigmatic smile to trail his words. As Keane stands, so does he uttering a low chuckle, “Do I get a cut of said higher pay for bringing forward truth rather than fiction?” He’s teasing but it also goes a long way to demonstrate that the young crimelord is learning and learning fast. Or maybe he’d always had such tendencies to begin with. Moving toward the door, his hand lifts and rests on the handle as he turns to put a long look onto the older man, “I ain’t gonna stand in the way of whatever you and Ma got going. But,” and here a slightly cocky grin comes into play, “I ain’t gonna call you, Pa.” Brat.

Keane considers that answer to his question with slight narrowing eyes before stating, "A proper response that a crimelord would give. You seem to be starting to fit in with them already." Wry to the last word. Max's reaction to Harvis's possible sexual orientation amuses the barkeep more than anything, the man rumbling into his glass and leaving it there. "You have business with the docks up there?" That got his interest, though it's reflex to ask more than to expect an answer in return. Once to his feet, his hand running idly over his belly, Max's quip on higher pay earns him an amused snort. "Come by the bar enough and you might," he drawls to that with a brief incline of his head. He turns and heads for the door then, making his departure known though it's Max's last - his giving consent to what was developing between him and the Headwoman - that has him smirking at the young crimelord over his shoulder. "Wouldn't expect it," he returns on that before nodding his farewell. "It would just make me sound old."

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