Shadow Clauses


Max.jpg Suli.jpg NPC'd by Jaya

Date: June 4, 2011
Location: Bar, EW
Synopsis: Jaya's gone up north and leaves the bar in Suli's care. Max comes by to attempt a ceasefire with the prickly barmaid. It seems to have worked….for a price.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Jaya

Jaya left Eastern Weyr in the late morning, leaving Suli to care for the bar with Hayli and Shijan. It's something she's used to by now, so she could prep the bar for the evening in her sleep. It doesn't take her long either, so when the evening rolls around and the bar is crowded, Suli goes through the motions as though she's been doing this all her life.

It's when the bar closes and the last patron stumbles out that she gets her peace, choosing to stay behind while both Hayli and Shijan take their leave and she busies herself with tallying the profits. She's seen Jaya go through her night routines enough that she could do it in her sleep, and so that's where any late-comer would find her: behind the counter sitting on a stool and going over the profit sheets and inventory lists like the bar belonged to her while sipping down some concoction of hers. No one this day noticed anything amiss with her - she was always taciturn even on her good days, so what was the difference when she was sullen or pissed off?

Suli wasn’t the only, for since having sent Jaya and Hope off, Max had spent the rest of the day in brooding silence as he’d made the necessary arrangements Vaputero’s arrival, speaking only when the need arose to do so. Indira’s return to the Weyr and the ensuing explanation of what had happened in her absence had gone as he’d expected it would. She’d been furious for not having been alerted earlier but once ire faded away had seen the sense in the precautions taken.

Now, exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally, southern’s young crimelord makes his way down the passageway, heading for the bar now under Suli’s care in her absence. Pause is taken, a hand palmed over his face and a sigh exhaled for a task he’s pretty sure is going to be like banging his head against a rock wall. But he’d promised Jaya and so, if somewhat reluctantly, Max crosses the threshold, lingering a moment, attention casting to the sullen Telgari’s back at the bar before moving in her direction with a low spoken, “Evenin’, Suli.”

The footfalls Suli hears first before the greeting, but the towering older woman does not stop her writing. A hand holds up her half-filled glass as she writes with the other, taken just another moment to finish the line of thought she wanted to add down before she finally straightens and looks up at his familiar voice. Hard, cold eyes flicking over the crimelord in the tense silence, “Must be my turnday,” is her greeting, the writing stylus going down. Jutting her chin towards the left sharply, “Jaya ain’t here,” she states the obvious, “but you know that, so to what do I owe the pleasure of southern’s youngest crimelord?” Each word drips with heavy sarcasm and oddly placed wariness as she sits back.

Max’s jaw tightens at the words sent to him, a muscle ticking for the tone taken and so he takes a moment, schooling back the irritation Suli is capable of drawing from him with such ease. A forced though polite smile appears and he moves to the one side of the woman, not taking up seating on a stool just yet as he carefully chooses his words. “You don’t like me, I get that,” he decides to start out with, “and it ain’t like I need a reason or nothin’ but…” pause is given, “it ain’t gonna do Jaya much good if the ones that are supposed to have her back are snappin’ and snarlin’ at each other, so…” and now the young crimelord appears awkward, “I’m here to see if we can figure our shit out startin’ with you tellin’ me what I gotta do stop pissin’ you off.” Blunt and to the point.

“Came all this way to tell me that, crimelord?” Suli sets the glass down now, appearing coolly interested. Jaw tightening, “And you adore me?” she returns on the first with just the barest touch of amusement. After a moment, her eyes falling on Jaya’s lists, “What you have to do to stop pissing me off?” she echoes that one, looking up at him. “Oh, that’s simple. Back the fuck away from Jaya. Was that it?” But then, she’s pausing, seeming to think something over before she heaves herself off the stool and moves to reach for an empty glass. “Sit,” it seems more like a command than an offer, the woman clearly use to giving orders. She even sets the empty glass down where an empty stool is. “What’s your poison?” she asks, flicking a hand towards the row of bottles that line the wall behind the bar counter since she really didn’t know what Max usually drank while he was here. That usually fell to Jaya.

“Haven’t figured you out yet,” Max gives honest reply on what his own thoughts toward the Telgari barmaid might be and alluding to the fact that it would only be a matter of time before he does so. Dark eyes narrow slightly for her next and his expression sets to a stubborn line through which he forces a rueful twitch of lips to appear, “That’s the one thing I can’t do. She works for me.” Its taking all he can muster not to snarl out a warning for the commanding manner the woman takes with him, ordering him to sit as she does. The young crimelord does however comply, if only for Jaya’s sake and clasps his hands together on the bar counter before him, knuckles slightly whitened and dark regard following the woman’s every movement like a feline does its prey. “Whisky,” single word reply given. Yeah, swallowing crow wasn't proving to be an easy task.

“Do you need to?” Suli returns on him figuring her out, the woman perching back on her stool. “No one figures me out. Brings out the allure in my eyes.” When Max’s eyes narrow and he returns that Jaya works for him, the barmaid snorts. “Yeah, don’t remind me,” she remarks dryly, lifting her glass to drink. “Trading one crimelord for another. One bred from a dragonrider, at that.” It’s more thoughtful than malicious, and then she’s pouring the man a glass of whiskey when he states it. Hard eyes fall on Max as she pours, trying to see into him if she could before the glass gets pushed in his direction. Tops her own glass with the whiskey, the liquor mixing with the concoction she had in it before as she states, “So. How do you propose we’re to get along, huh?” There’s underlying tones here: coolness, rigidity, and a far more hard-to-catch wariness mixed in with curiosity.

There’s a snort of dry amusement uttered for Suli’s quip about retaining an air of mystery. To the comment made about Jaya having traded one crimelord for another, Max gives a low but simply stated, “Ain’t nothin’ like that shit for brains.” The whiskey sent his way is taken up and the young crimelord meets that hard look with a closed one of his own, guarded. The Telgari’s question catches him as he lifts his glass for a drink but he doesn’t stay the action and follows through with it. Setting the glass down again, dark eyes lift and meet hers, guileless, “I ain’t got no hidden agenda, Suli. You know what I am,” crimelord of the south, “you know what she is,” renegade on the run from the Bitran that now works for him. There he pauses and takes another drink, “You don’t trust me and I don’t trust you…yet,” gaze turning briefly pointed, “but, I’m willin’ to try and trust that you only have her best interests at heart and ain’t softenin’ her up for a fall.”

Brow lifting at something said as she closes up the lists for storage, “Are you sure?” Suli puts forth on Max saying he was nothing like Vaputero, her black eyes meeting his as her auburn hair flies wildly about her shoulders. “You haven’t even met him to say. You’re only going off of hearsay. Folly.” Nevermind how she knows he has never met the man. She sets the list away under the counter then, clearing the counter surface with nothing but their glasses and the whiskey bottle. She watches him all the same like a hawk, much like he’s watching her – her mind working like a chess game. When he mentions that he has no hidden agenda, “And you think I do,” that is said without query, and with certainty. On the matter of trust then, she takes a liberal drink before stating, “I don’t ask for trust. I never ask for trust. Jaya should be wise not to trust me, as I do not trust her. As you shouldn’t. But,” and she straightens up her back into a stretch, an audible crack heard before she crouches forward a little with a careless shrug, “I do as I am paid. Nothing more, nothing less. Not the way of the Weyr, I know,” she adds with a touch of casual, regarding him steadily. “You and I are of the Weyr, but the difference ends there. I’ve learned the truth of things. You haven’t, yet. In time, young crimelord. In time. In time you may find that deep inside you have similarities to the big Bitran.” Max may see now how the Telgari talks in circles and riddles the way Jaya has, and it’s her way to do so where she wants. Perhaps she really is as crazy as Vaputero. “As for best interests,” she adds that with some dryness, “well. If I want her soft, I wouldn’t be pushing her to leave this place,” and she flicks her glance about the bar. “Weyr’s no place for a Dicori, and I think her place is in the lands. I’ve told her as much. She’s let her heart rule for far too long, and I blame that on her youth.” Chin lifting, “So I don’t have to soften her, you see,” she adds with bland wryness. “You and this Weyr is doing that well enough. She may fall because of it, I believe, but Dicoris don’t stay down for long. I would know. Why do you think she rose so far in Vaputero’s favor so fast before she fell? Or are you two still in the rutting phase of your hidden relationship that she hasn’t told you?”

“I don’t rape women or beat up old men,” Max growls out low, that being difference enough for him. And then drops to silence, gaze focussed on his drink while Suli talks herself round in circles. He interjects at one point to fit the woman with a pointed look, “Jaya’s not done anything to have me not trusting her.” A soft snort is uttered, “You’ve learned to become bitter by the sounds of it.” Not meant as a slight but more pointing out what he was picking up from the woman’s words. When she yet again tries to infer that he and Vaputero might have characteristics in common, the young crimelord says nothing, merely sending the Telgari barmaid a tight look. “She ain’t gonna fall” he counters with a sharp shake of head and then adds, “You seem to know an awful lot about the Dicori. You wouldn’t happen to be a long lost relative would you?” sardonic. It’s that last that draws a baring of teeth in a silent snarl accompanied by a low, “My personal life, is off the table for discussion.” She clearly having crossed a line with him with that comment.

Seeming to find something twistedly amusing, “Did I say anything about you raping women, or beating up old men?” Suli points out with her raised glass, bland. Shaking her head, “Still. You can have something similar interests with a cruel man. What that is, I wouldn’t know. Only you would.” Taking a sip of the concoction, she doesn’t respond to the matter of trust with Jaya, perhaps looking to inadvertently sow seeds of distrust, as is her way. His remark on her being bitter gets a bark of laughter – and no one wants to hear Suli laugh. “Oh-ho! That I am,” she rightfully agrees with Max, nodding. “I am as bitter as they come, but that doesn’t change anything of what I’ve said. Seen too many things.” She does turn thoughtful when Max insists Jaya would not fall, but it’s the next that gets her interest. Setting her glass down, “Fucked one once,” she drops with little apology. “Ratty sort of man with a hook nose. Liked to lift things, a lot like Jaya. Lifted the wrong thing one time and that was the last I’ve heard of him.” The last, she looks back at that snarl calmly as she returns with dry air, “And Jaya’s mine. You’re a part of hers, therefore, you’re a part of mine.” That’s her logic. “But I’ll let off, for now. I doubt we’ll ever like each other, and I hesitate to work with you. Not very fond of crimelords, that be. Must be the Weyr blood in me. Still, perhaps I could be swayed. Been swayed by one before, if the price is right.” Like a straight up pirate, she is, and even looks like one.

“He’s got a thing for bubbly pies too?” Max quips back with a touch of snark and wash of cockiness attached. The question rhetorical and not requiring an answer. A healthy mouthful of whiskey is thrown back with the young crimelord exhaling through the burn and Suli is sent a sceptical look, “Aye well, guess I’m gonna have to find out for myself, aye?” He not prepared to simply by into the points of view by woman who admits herself to being bitter. Strangely enough, the Telgari barkeep’s admission with regards to having had a liaison with a man of the clan Dicori sets Max to laughing, almost to the point of tears. Pressing thumb and forefinger each to an eye, he shakes his head, still amused, “You crack me up.” No seriously, he finds the woman’s statement that amusing. Perhaps he’s starting to lose his mind. Humor drains off in light of more serious topics at hand and he concedes with a long sigh, though there is still a slightly wry smile attached, “So what…you’re like her Ma now or somethin’?” with Jaya’s own having died giving birth to her brother as she’d told it to him. A chuckle, darkly amused in its delivery, “For the right price, eh? And tell me, just what would that be, hmm?” And yes, Suli now has his full attention, interest held in dark eyes.

It may have been rhetorical, but Suli’s actually giving it some thought. “No,” she answers him after a brief moment, the thought occurring to her. “Never seen him eat a bubbly pie, even if put right in front of him. Why, is that one way to woo the young crimelord of the south?” It’s her turn to be sarcastic, though she’d be hard-pressed to admit that she enjoys the banter. Max’s skeptical look is taken in stride, but a frown does drop when he bursts out laughing about the liaison she had with a Dicori man. She frowns, “Was actually telling the truth,” she puts forth, adding a mock-offended look on her face. So she’s been lying up to this point? “Golbani Dicori. Ask after him if you want. Most won’t know him except in Telgar or Bitra. What, you think all of you men are intimidated by a strong, sweet-faced woman like me? Some men actually do have balls.” She might end up having Max in stitches at this point, for the barmaid was far from ‘sweet-faced’. She drains her drink to half then, eyeing Max’s own before sliding the whole bottle of whiskey over to him. She wasn’t about to play barkeep after hours. The first pour was merely customary. “Ma?” she screws her face up at that one. “Don’t you even dare attach another whelp from my belly, Weyrman. She’s got a ma, and she’s dead. You know that. I assume you do.” But then, there’s business, and that’s something Suli can switch gears to. Setting her glass down to his question, “That is the question, innit? Could ask you to back off Jaya, or have someone killed for me, or even to lay your claim down in the south. I know you would do neither. Not your sort. So I’ll settle for the shadow clause.” She’ll even pause to see if Max would know what that is.

There’s another wry twist of lips for the woman’s comeback on Vaputero, whether she jests or not. Max lifts a hand in a gesture of defeat, “Oh I don’t doubt you did, Suli. Just…a Dicori? And here you’re tryin’ to keep me away from one.” Still amused and then a snort is uttered, “Not intimidated by you, Suli. Frustrated, irritated and infuriated sometimes, aye. But intimidated?” Hey, he’s being honest here, that earns him points, surely? As the bottle is sent his way, so the young crimelord tops up is his drink. Glass to mouth he can’t help but snicker into it for the woman’s comment about being likened to being Jaya’s mother but he catches the reference made. “You got kids?” interest peaking once again for this was something he didn’t know about the woman, “bet they’re all as handsome as their Ma.” Sending a crooked grin for the openly flattering words whether they be true or not. Another drink and then Max sets his glass down and fits the woman with a slightly disparaging look, “Ain’t gonna happen.” Any of the three options she thinks she could ask of him as a means to swaying the barmaid to perhaps being a little more civil with him. “Shadow clause…” there he pauses as if turning this over and giving it proper consideration, “and what does the shadow clause mean for you, hmm?” Not giving away whether or not he’s aware of what it even is.

A hand going to her ample chest, “I’m different,” is Suli’s excuse on her going after a Dicori. “I know what to expect.” She snorts on Max not being intimidated by her, the Telgari draining her strong drink like a dock worker more than a civilized woman. Setting it down and reaching for the whiskey bottle, “Oh, you’re plenty intimidated. You and that canine. No need to be shy.” Her glass gets topped and the woman sets a long look to Max when he asked if she had kids. She seems to hesitate, for once, before grunting out, “Had a weyrmate. A lusty one. Kids’re bound to follow.” Setting a look on him, “Surprised at you, though. Thought you’d end up with a dragonrider like those before you. Seemed destined.” She even snorts loudly at the compliment for what it is, dropping, “About as ugly as a wherry on fellis, and just as ornery. Got too much of their father in them, though. Damn dragons like the smell of’em.”

Of course, Suli expects Max to turn down any of the three options she puts forth. Weathered lips move a fraction as if about to smile, only, it doesn’t quite make it. On his wording on a shadow clause, she answers briskly, “Beyond what I tell you, you don’t go looking into me. You and none of your people do. You do so and I’ll find out, even if you send Jaya to do it,” and she fits Max with a stern eye. “I remain the mystery, the shadow. Small price to pay, don’t you think?” Which begs one to wonder, what it is she’s working hard to hide. As an afterthought, “And I continue to do what Jaya hired me to do. Can you abide, beast manager?”

A dubious, “Mmhm,” is what Suli gets to her first. Her next on intimidation, that however draws a rough laugh from Max, “You keep tellin’ yourself that, darlin’.” Brows lifts as he nurses the whiskey while the Telgari shares some of her past with him. “Didn’t take you for the type to get hooked to a dragonrider, weyrbred or no.” When the question gets turned onto him, lips thin, and a brief frown forms along with a small silence and then the young crimelord turns sardonic words out, “I misbehave too much for the likes of a dragonrider.” And there he leaves it.

The shadow clause part of things does not sit well with him and it shows in his expression. “That’s…askin’ a lot,” Max states tightly. Almost as much as asking him to lay down his claim to the south or walk away from his involvement with Jaya. “What’s to say I agree to this and three sevens down the road, you’ve got an assassin with a knife at my throat because you’re after my claim, hmm?” Excuse the wariness there but he knows the type of cutthroat business he’s in.

“Oh, I do,” Suli’s far too confident on her intimidation skills – or is it cocky? It’s hard to separate one with the other with this woman. She leans back with her glass of whiskey, studying Max over the rim before his answers on her apparent liaison with a dragonrider. There’s a stiff shrug, “Didn’t take you for the type to hook up with known criminals and claim the south in fair time,” is her counter, brisk. “We have our moments, it would seem. We have our weaknesses. T’hren used to be mine, for a time. Dragonriders can misbehave,” she tacks on without pause to his next, regarding that statement with interest. She knows about him and Ahnika, after all, so the statement was telling to her. However, when, Max shows unease for the shadow clause she puts forth, there’s little reaction from the old barmaid. Brows lifting and falling promptly, “Guess that means you’ll have to trust me,” she answers his question with just the smallest of smiles. “And as to your dubious claims, I don’t want it.” Setting the glass down, “I have no taste for the south, nor the games crimelords play,” she says to him in a continued brisk tone. “As much as killing you would lighten my mood at least a little,” she states gravelly, flicking a study over his frame slowly, “you dead isn’t part of the plan. Who else am I going to write mean things about in my diary late at night?” she drops with heavy sarcasm. “So relax your little heart. If I wanted you dead, you’d be dead long before the south became yours.”

Max knows he’s being studied and yet he keeps his gaze cast down to his glass only lifting it to set Suli with a wry look. “There’s some what would say I was born a criminal and that it was only a matter of time.” On the matter of dragonriders that do or don’t misbehave there comes an oddly placed snort of hollow amusement, but he says nothing in reply. More whisky down his throat and his glass topped up again, the taciturn barmaid is given a sidelong look. “Didja love him?” The weyrmate she had mentioned.

“Trust you?” brows go up and Max utters a slightly disbelieving laugh, “Weren’t you the one just sayin’ that not even Jaya should trust you and that you never ask for it?” Yeah, he’s got a good memory. Dark eyes roll for her next on how killing him might lighten her mood and then a faint smirk appears, “Sorry to ruin your fun darlin’.” Something the woman says however has the young crimelord narrowing a look onto her. “Plan huh? See that’s what I can’t quite figure out,” what the woman’s agenda is for he has no doubt that she has one, “And how Jaya fits into all of it.” Because he’s also damn sure that she fits into it all somewhere too.

“Were you?” Suli seems to pur the words, idly swirling the contents in her glass. “A criminal born, huh?” She seems to muse on that one long enough. She continues to watch him, nursing her whiskey a little slower until he asks after the weyrmate. Eyes narrow a fraction before answering, “He took a good fist to the jaw and didn’t utter a single curse. Managed to get my hands behind my back. Might have been the love of my life.” And then, trust. That gets a wide grin from the barmaid when Max brings up the words she said earlier on trusting her. “I did,” she puts forth with a little shrug, “except on the shadow clause. I was generalizing. You never asked for specifics.” She smirks tightly to his ruining her fun of his still being alive, but it’s the next that gets her attention. Perhaps it was a slip. Whatever it was, “Not for you to figure,” is her answer, a touch dry. “Not until it’s time for you to know. Besides, it has nothing to do with you, or her, directly.” She sets the glass down and leans forward before adding, “Can’t tell you much, and I don’t trust you enough to consider it,” she lets him know straight up, “but know this. This, all of this, is far bigger than just me and you. Or your Bitran counterpart that’s currently in your territory.”

Laughing softly Max turns the question back onto the barmaid, “What do youthink?” Back to swirling and studying the contents of his glass he goes but sends a sidelong look along with a nod to Suli when she speaks of her former weyrmate. “Thread?” a single word question put out as to why she was no longer with him. A wry smirk is next to follow in response to her wide grin on the matter of trust, “You dance with words like a whore works a client,” expertly. And he can’t but help to display grudging approval for that. “Actually,” Max disagrees turning his head to Suli, “It is my job to figure out,” given his position and then there’s a grunt of amusement, “Until its time for me to know, eh? You almost have me intrigued.” Actually, that sends up red flags all over the place for him but he’s not exhibiting any of that in this cat and mouse game they seem to be playing.

Turning away again and lifting his glass for another good, solid drink, broad shoulders lift and fall on the matter of her not trusting him. Swallowing, the young crimelord sets his glass down and then slowly swivels on his stool so that his body is fully facing the woman, ignoring her comment about Vaputero being in the south. “Somethin’ that big is gonna be hard to keep on the downlow for too long,” he states pointedly, “I might be young and I might be new to all this, but I ain’t stupid, Suli.” In other words, one way or the other, he was fairly certain she was going to slip up at some point and show her hand enough for him to figure out what it is that she’s planning.

“Shadow clause it is,” he finally concedes and then his voice drops to low and menacing levels, “but if me and mine get fucked over because of it,” a heavy pause is allowed for, “I’m comin’ after you, darlin'.”

“I say I’ll guess we’ll see, Weyrman,” is Suli’s response, lips quirking up to a half-smile. It slides on the topic of her weyrmate, the woman stating, “He’s alive. Circumstances have led for us to be apart.” Must be some interesting ‘circumstances’ to make a guarding barmaid out of a Weyrbred woman with shadows at her back. After a lingering pause, as if thinking over what she had just said, Max’s answer on trust gets back her attention along with a clearing of her throat. “Is the dance of words too much for you, crimelord?” she asks that then, it bringing back a semblance of a smile before taking a long drink and adding on the next, “Is it? I thought your job was to protect the Weyr from denizens like Vaputero. To help the helpless or the runaway fugitive? They hardly have anything to fear from me, a mere bitter old barmaid.” Pause. “Something this big has been on the down low before you were born,” she drawls that out to his warning along with a shrug, “but if it comes out, it comes out. Doesn’t change the outcome. What do I know, though?” and there’s a light in her eyes as she regards Max. “Most think I’m delirious, anyway. A woman that likes to dance with her words. So no, I never thought you stupid. Ruled by your heart sometimes, yes, but not stupid. All the same, I stay in my shadows. I like it that way. As long as I am, no one gets hurt.” A warning, perhaps? She nods to his agreement to the shadow clause then, stating evenly, “Then I will stop all my plans of slipping dead, dirty tunnelsnakes into your bed. It was a good plan, too.” She looks mockingly disappointed. When Max delivers his warning in turn, the barmaid fits that dark smile to her lips before taking the time to drain her glass. Setting it down then, “I’m starting to think being crimelord suits you, Lomaxin of the Reaches. You almost have me impressed.” It was the best he was going to get from her of an agreement, the woman not one to put words to a deal made.

Circumstances have led for us to be apart…In that pause Suli provides, Max sets her with a protracted sidelong look. Yeah, he knows how that goes. Through her return that touches on the play of words, and what he envisions his duties to be to the people of the Southern continent, the crimelord remains silent, idly toying with his glass. He does however interject to state wryly, “Aye, what does anyone have to fear from me, a simple beast manager?” In other words, hiding in plain sight is simple and he doesn’t buy that Suli is a mere bitter old barmaid. But lets it rest there for the time being.

“All outcomes can be changed if you’re of a mind to do so,” Max drawls sardonically on the matter and then utters a snort of dry amusement as he makes correction, “You’d like everyone to think you’re a delirious woman that dances with her words but I see you Suli of Telgar Weyr. You’re far more than that barmaid apron you wear.” A hand lifts and goes to his chest in feigned shock, “Say it ain’t true! No dead tunnelsnakes to play with? You’re a cruel woman,” smirk. Draining his glass as Suli does, Max stands to his feet and fits her with a twist of a smile as he turns toward the bar’s exit, “Until next time.” It clear that he apparently fully intends returning for another bout of verbal cat and mouse at some point in the future.

To Max’s question of him being a simple beast manager, “You are to them here,” Suli seems to agree, “but there are those few like me that know better.” That cruel smirk lingers on her pockmarked face as she listens to him speak, having perhaps seen through her ‘delirium’ to the truth within and calling her out on it. She says nothing until he gets to his feet, reaching forward to claim his empty glass and couple it with her own as she says, “Some outcomes are inevitable, Lomaxin. Like Ampherol. I’m sure he thought the same, until he could no longer think anymore.” That corner does turn up more upon realizing that the crimelord was not done with her yet, setting to cleaning out the glasses as he goes to make his exit. In his wake, “I’m the cruelest. Until next time, I’m sure.” And then she continues on closing up for the night.

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