Someone's Been Sleeping In My Bed


Ahnika.jpg Max.jpg

Date: 10/22/10 (IC: immediately following If I Can't Have You)
Location: EW: Beast Caverns
Synopsis: Max finds someone's been drinking his whiskey, wearing his clothes, and sleeping in his bed … and there she is! 'Crimsonlocks' Ahnika is asleep, unaware that Max has returned to Eastern Weyr, and is awakened by his embrace. The two reconcile at long last, and Ahnika shares a lot about what happened the night before when she freed Jinnet, things heat up between them a little before they come to their senses and the reunited couple fall asleep in each other's arms.
Rating: PG18
Logger: Ahnika

With the events of the last few days finally catching up to her, Ahnika sleeps deeply. Maybe there comes a sound or two from one of the runners in the stables, or one of the canines in the kennels that might stir a light sleeper, but not Ahni, not tonight anyway. Having left the tipped over chair and bottle and whiskey-sodden dirt-smelling clothes to be put back to rights in the morning, Ahnika enjoys what for all intents and purposes amounts to being wrapped up in ‘Max’ for the first time since their major fall-out. She is somewhat curled up facing the wall, fast asleep, within his shirt, his sheet, on his mattress and pillow, wrapped up in him literally and figuratively, her red tresses spread out somewhat like a crimson sunburst against the pillow behind her, and seeming completely at peace. Being that it is summer and she’s a little warm, the sheet comes up to her chest and then down her back to bunch a little at the small of it. One arm is tucked in under the pillow under her head, while the other one, wrapped in a thick bandage, rests comfortably on top of the curve of her waist and hip. Unfolded and left out on his desk are the pages of the note she scribbled to him shortly before trying to take her first taste of whiskey.

Having had no other way to work his frustrations out, Max had taken over the repair of the feeding pen's fencing, working until well after dark until eventually after having almost nailed his hand to the uppermost strut, he'd called it a day and dragged himself to the bathing caverns. Thereafter, though dog tired, restlessness and had driven him up to one of the empty corrals where balanced upon one of the fence posts, he spent a good long time brooding into the bottom of a whiskey bottle. After almost having fallen off twice, and still with no better answers than when he'd gotten there, the beast manager eventually gave up and made his way slowly back down to the beast caverns, seeking whiskey induced sleep and time out from the crushing weight in his chest.

And thus it is that at the end of his rope both physically, mentally and emotionally, Max enters his stall, dark eyes landing first to the small pile of painfully familiar objects left on his desk, a tight expression falling into place as he swallows hard. The upturned chair and whiskey bottle set next to it are noticed next, and those pull a frown into place as he bends, retrieves the bottle and places it next to the one on the desk he'd brought in with him and rights the chair again. The letter is next to take his attention, a hand moving toward it and then stopping short, not being nearly drunk enough to read what he is sure, is his final dismissal. So far, for whatever reason, up until this point, perhaps due to the dim lighting, the occupant in his bed hadn't reached his notice. However, when he does eventually glance disconsolately in that direction, the beast manager is unable to do little else but stare, breath catching in his throat and heart flipping over in his chest, frozen to the spot for the moment.

Perhaps it is his presence, or whatever soft noise is made by the chair or the whiskey bottle or Max’s boots, but something causes Ahnika to stir just a little in her sleep, her head moving slightly in a vague nod, her arm drawn a little more in toward her chest, legs shifting just a little under the sheet. Yes, she is real and yes she is there, but no, she doesn’t wake up for now. She is well and truly exhausted and for more than just her injury and the resulting blood loss. Nothing has come about yet to be loud enough to completely rouse her from her sleep, just the slight stirring. Punctuating her slight shifting comes a slightly deeper breath and then a soft sigh in exhale before she goes still again, perhaps just a slight movement of her shoulders while her back remains turned to him in indication of her chest moving with her slumbering breath.

Max doesn't stay rooted to the spot for long and moving quietly over to the sleeping redhead, he hunkers down next to her, a hand reaching out uncertainly toward that bounty of unbound hair, as if she may not be real but rather some cruel trick of his mind. Silken tresses bearing confirmation through fingers hardly daring to make contact, have the beast manager quickly fisting his free hand against his mouth in an attempt to stifle what may sound suspiciously like a sob. And then scared that she might vaporise and disappear into thin air and heedless of the fact he's likely to wake the sleeping woman, he kneels onto the edge of the mattress, and will try to gather her up in his arms and hold her tightly against himself, though careful not to bump or jar her bandaged arm and not thinking straight enough to realize how being woken like that might terrify the poor girl out of her skin. Burying his head into her hair, inhaling her scent, his voice comes muffled and broken with all the heartache of the past seven, "Oh Ahni…" He doesn't get much further than that as with a jerk of shoulders another sob breaks free and it's not long before there's telling wet patches starting to form where his head is pressed in against her. Yeah, so much for cowboys don't cry.

Any other night and the mere initial touch of his hands would have likely awoken Ahnika, but the young woman really is genuinely exhausted, and so his initial gathering up in his arms only garners a softly whimpered moan in her sleep. She’s completely dead weight for that initial moment, and her head lolls and rolls a little against his own as he puts his head into her hair. While her injured arm rests in her lap as he holds her, her other one is limply draped down against her side, hand lightly resting on the sheet. His unbuttoned shirt that she wears falls opened a little, revealing the long bandage that extends from her chest down between her breasts and to her midsection, and it’s about this time that she whimpers again a little louder in her sleep, this time it is his name, “Max,” in a soft plaintive whisper, groggily waking up but too exhausted and weak to make any sort of violent protest. And then her eyelids crack open and she takes a deeper breath through her nose, weary and fatigue-ridden confusion being the first expression on her freckled face while her grey eyes start to focus, and then another whisper comes, this one a little more lucid-seeming, “Max …?” And as if to test whether he is a dream or real, she turns her head a little more to better place a kiss to his ear, or cheek, or whatever part of his face her lips can reach. “ . . a dream …” she murmurs, reclosing her eyes, but the tension in her body suggesting she’s not fallen back to sleep yet, and her draped arm even moves to settle that hand on his shoulder.

It's her stirring in his arms that draws Max's head up from where it had been buried in that comforting nest of her hair and through a shuddering breath he takes her in more fully. Red rimmed eyes falling first to the shirt of his that she's wearing and drawing the faint edge of smile that lingers for the bare second it takes before that telling line of bandaging tells of further injuries received, and it's yanked away into a pained expression. Shifting slightly so as to free one of his arms, fingers of one hand trace lightly over the bandage, moving regretfully down from her chest, between her beasts and on to where it ends at her midsection. Any other time and that hand would have automatically gone a wandering on a path of its own. Now however, there is simply too much else at play. Whispered out onto the quiet air, "Oh baby…what did you do?" no answer expected from the still drowsy woman as he turns his head into that kiss that lands against the side of his jaw. "Aye baby, a dream," his smile tinged with regret is fleeting in it's appearance as he then mutters more to himself than to her, "A really…bad…dream," ended with a frown as he then tries to lay her back down on his pillow, content to let her sleep, turning his head slightly to brush lips against the hand that moves to his shoulder.

Her eyelids flutter open a little more now, then close again, and Ahnika takes a breath, the exhale becomes a sigh, and out of some combination of primitive need, grogginess, and/or weakness she turns more into him, somewhat drowsy-clingy. “Mnnn,” she sounds mutedly, fingers curling into his shoulder, but a small smile forms for his caress to her hand. It is the sensation of being put down again that has her eyelids coming open once more, but cracked to only reveal a sliver of her grey irises. “N-no,” she issues plaintively, her lips forming a soft pout while her one hand on his shoulder curls a little more tightly there and the other arm slides to his opposite shoulder. “Don’t let go,” she whispers drowsily, still in somewhat of a haze of sleep, and she could be meaning literally or otherwise. And then her head tilts back into his pillow as she looks up at him, blinking a little more, but her eyes remain mostly a sliver of vision, or half-lidded, before her brow furrows in confusion and some of the sleepiness lifts. “You’re … back.” Pause, “Early?” And for a brief moment she wonders if she’d fallen asleep and slept for days. Ahnika blinks her eyes opened a little more and finally lets her arms fall away from him, “I …” she starts, and then realizing belatedly how much she’s revealing, she draws the opening of his shirt a little more together, and then the sheet up over her chest. “M’sorry … I thought … you’d not be back before …” She bites her lip and then says, slowly, “I can leave … that is … if you want.” The question about what she did goes unanswered for now, and presumably it simply didn’t register.

For that brief moment where she curls more into him, Max responds by drawing her in closer against him, inhaling slowly in a bid stay those emotions that had all but given him away earlier had it not been for her being asleep enough not to have registered. Although the signs might be there in the rimmed eyes and one or two telling streaks down the side of his cheeks which due to dim lighting, may go unnoticed. He'd had to twist slightly to lay her down and as such ends with his upper body above her so that he's looking down into that sweetly sleepy face, his head dipping toward those softly pouting lips to kiss her gently, "Never." This to letting her go, despite whether he'd been pretty damned convinced she had done just that. One arm still under her, the other lifts and fingers brush through the silky tendrils of hair that frame Ahnika's face, unable to hide the slight smile of crooked proportions that spills out as she tries to cover herself up and perhaps even looking a little disappointed despite her injuries. "Got back this late this afternoon," given quietly a light frown starting to form as she speaks of leaving that has him lifting away only slightly. "Don't leave," coming rather quicker than he'd maybe intended but speaking to the slight panic that automatically lifts into place. "Don't ever leave again," jaw and frame stiffening as once again that raw vulnerability re-surfaces and mirrors in his eyes, "I'm nothing without you, baby." A truth hard spoken for the beast manager as dark eyes search hers warily, still unsure as to exactly where he stands with her.

A mild whimper of surrender as he presses his lips to hers and Ahnika kisses him back, even if sleepily so, perhaps especially. The comment of his return earns him a sort of blank stare, but mostly due to her still waking up and taking stock of her situation. Their situation. It’s his quick statement, or request, for her not to leave, not ever again, that sets her lip and chin quivering slightly and she inhales a deeply shuddering breath while her eyes turn glassy with moisture, “Don’t shut me out,” comes her soft reply, “please.” And she lifts a hand up to his cheek, feeling the dampness there and seeming to finally catch on to the telling look of his tears on his face. A sob catches in her throat at that, whether for his final statement or his tears or knowing she’d hurt him and feeling hurt herself, or perhaps all of the above, and then her own tears start anew, sliding from the corners of her eyes, “Oh Max!” And her other arm slides to rest a hand on that shoulder and she tries to either draw him down or herself up to him with that leverage while her shoulders jerk slightly with another soft sob and she whimpers, “I’m so sorry, Love … I never meant … I … oh Max … hold me …?”

For many a long moment, he does little else but stare down into the face of the women he's come to realize he loves more than life itself, and whom represents so much more to him than he could likely ever try putting into words. His heart clenches with her soft reply and Max is left with little else to do in response to not shutting her out, except shake his head as he croaks out, "Don't let me." Automatically he brushes a thumb to the corner of her eye closest to his hand, only barely holding on to the thread of his own emotions, "Don't…cry…baby." Ah screw it, too late! Tears slide free as he swallows hard and draws her up and in against his chest probably a little tighter than might be comfortable given her injuries, head going to the crook of her neck and shoulder, his own apology coming broken and hoarse, "I'm so sorry, baby. I didn't mean…" to shut her out, make her cry, cause her pain. All left unsaid but perhaps translated into the light kisses he starts pressing in against her hair, neck and ear where he utters softly, breath warm against her skin, "You…are my life, Ahni. Without you…there is nothing."

Sheet and shirt left to settle where they may, Ahnika slides her arms around his neck as he draws her in, sobbing softly, but too hard still to make any distinction between her weeping and the wince from the stinging of her injuries, conscious and awake enough to dull them against the mental barrier between herself and her sleeping green. She shivers under the shower of his kisses, pressing herself close in against his chest, nuzzling his neck as it grows more damp for her tears, “I took things too far this time,” she allows softly against his neck in between quiet sobs, “I should have known better … it was irresponsible of me. I had Jhath to think of and you … this was … it was too close. If it wasn’t for Waine and Zen … I don’t …” she chokes off the rest of that thought, and just says, “Too dangerous. I’m sorry. I just … couldn’t think of what else to do to keep you from leaving with him to Bitra. You wouldn’t listen to my ideas. Kept shutting me out. I didn’t know what else to do …” she shudders with a breath, “But I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me … Max. I love you.” Her bandaged arm slides back down his chest with her fingers curling into his shirt. She turns her face into his kissing lips, trying to meet that mouth of his with her own, and whimpering again through her tears.

Perhaps it's the sobbing coming from Ahnika, or maybe just that somewhere in that haze of deep emotion he still has enough wits about him to remember her injuries and so having hurt her enough emotionally as it is, Max loosens his hold on her a little. His breathing short and shallow, though that has more to do with that frightening place of vulnerability where a person strips themselves bare before another, than it does to anything of a more lusty nature. As she speaks, one arm slides up her back, his hand moving soothing strokes through her hair as he instinctively rocks her in his arms, uttering quietly against her, "It's okay, baby…I know. You were trying to help." And whether or not that help had perhaps caused more harm than good is now all water under the bridge and something they'll have to face another day. Right now, all that seems to matter to him is mending that bridge spanning those troubled waters. "I was listening, baby," even although it may not have seemed like it at the time to her, "And I'm sorry if it didn't seem that way," and then spoken with quiet admission, "I wasn't going to go." Letting her know that her words that fateful night had indeed gotten through to him even if she hadn't realized it. He does however deliver warning sprung from his own fear of ever losing her, "But if you ever put yourself in danger like that again without talking to me first…" his words trail off and a short chuckle rumbles in his throat as realizes she'd just gone and done exactly the sort of thing she'd been trying to prevent him from doing, getting himself hurt, or worse, dead. And so he ends with a ruefully spoken, "Ain't we a pair," before moving his head to find her mouth and murmuring softly against her lips, "Shhh…baby, aint' nothing to forgive. I love you and…you came back," and that's enough for him as finally his lips part against hers, giving and seeking comfort in a manner that hopefully isn't going to end them in too much of a pickle given the strong emotions currently attached.

Slowly but surely her weeping begins to subside and Ahnika continues to nuzzle against him, curling in more, ignoring any sting for it from her injuries, just needing to be as close to him as possible. “I did help … some,” she managers on a whisper, “I think. Unless you already knew all of that, too.” A pause and she asks, “You were?” listening, that is. Her head does a little nod that’s less to do with expressing anything in the affirmative and more to do with her desire to nuzzle against him, taking in his scent, his love and affection, feeling him there. “You weren’t?” this to him not going to go, which causes her to frown and grip him more tightly, suddenly angry with him and his little one-man island again, but enjoying the feeling of being in his arms too much to want to do anything to jeopardize it now, with badgering him about it. That is, until his next comment about going and putting herself in danger without talking to him first, “I tried to talk to you first …” she points out, and then shuts up, smirking faintly with his chuckle and nodding to the statement of the kind of pair they are. She sighs then, the exhale shuddering from her recent tears, “I … thought you’d never want to see me again after what I did … I only came back to bring the gifts back to you … and the marks for the damages, and leave you a note …” Then she goes quiet and murmurs, “I love you too,” before yielding to that kiss, mouth opening and her tongue sliding out in search of his own, slowly at first, and then suddenly fierce with need, mirrored in a whimper from her throat.

One corner of his mouth curves upward as she speaks of helping and then he looks a little confused, that expression filtering into his tone too, "Knew all of what already?" Yeeeah, if he'd just read that letter. As Ahnika nods and nuzzles against him, he tips his head so that his stubbled jaw rests against her head, "Aye, I was," listening. Reading that firmer grip coming from her as annoyance, Max lifts his head and tries to seek out her eyes, apology shadowed in his own, "Not after I thought about what you said…but then you started busting my ass," not that he didn't likely deserve it, "…and…" here he's having to swallow hard against the memory and so his words comes in gruff tone, as he continues falter through trying to explain, "…you left…and…" the bereavement he'd felt audible in his now low held tone as words slip away and he's left frowning for how poorly he'd handled the situation. Silence for quite a while in which he simply enjoys the feeling of having her in his arms again, the contrast of softness pressed up against his harder frame and the scent of her filling his senses. Finally in response to her having tried to talk to him, the confession is spoken quietly, "I didn't understand, baby. I'm an ass, and I'm sorry. I never meant for you to feel shut out. I just ain't used to…" having someone other than his mother, truly caring about him, "I'll try harder." What she says next has him blinking, and then turning out a slightly sheepish smile as he glances over toward his desk where the letter lies unread, "I…uuuhhh…didn't read it. Figured it was likely to be more of you saying you didn't want me around no more." His voice drops away to almost nothing at the end there swallowed by the kiss. As she deepens it, he lays her back down against his pillow, his upper torso covering hers, although careful not to press against the bandaging. His own need leaps in response transmitting through that kiss as his tongue willingly found by hers, strokes hungry caresses pulling a low groan from him when the sweet heat of her mouth is encountered. With a hand tangling up into the hair at the back of her head, his breathing becomes quickly shaken and then suddenly he pulls away, dark eyes snapping open, and fastening to hers, "Ahni…no…Jhath…" Oh look who's still got a half a braincell left.

Whatever Ahnika might have been ready to respond with is set aside for that delicious kiss. Her mouth moves greedily against his, lips soft and supple, tender skin of her chin grinding uncaringly against the stubble of his own, She whimpers in both pleasure and need as her tongue slides in to circle his. Her chest heaves more quickly with shallow breaths and under the sheet her knees are drawn up to frame his hips as he settles more on top of her body that is growing warmer and softer by the moment. Her hands grip his shoulders at first and then slide arms across his back, which is about when she winces, unable to disguise it with tears as she had moments ago, and grunts a little as he pulls away and she turns her head at the same time, murmuring, “She’s asleep,” Jhath, that is, definitely not her hoo-hoo, should there be any uncertainty on that front, and then she lets out a breath she had been holding, both from the smarting in her arm and the kiss, and slides her hands back to his shoulders while her feet slide down so as not to be framing him in such a ill-advised position right now. She turns her face back to his, leaning up for a softer, tender, less-lust-driven kiss before letting her head settle back in against the pillow and looking up at him through half-lidded eyes, puffy from her tears moments ago though they may be. “I’ll try harder too …” Ahnika says finally to something he said, and looks away at the wall next to them then, moving a hand almost absently to lightly sift through his hair, “your mother, she …” Yeah, his mother? There’s a mood-killer if ever there was one. “She explained to me a little more about … what your father meant to you. I think … she was trying to help. Trying to get me to come back to you and try again.” And then she turns her head in the other direction and stares at the desk, not being able to actually see the letter itself from her position, “It was an apology, the letter, and explaining what the marks was for … and telling you the information I got from ‘Net,” So at least that part of her plan she feels was successful, though perhaps not as successful as if a fully-experienced spy might have achieved, “ … since I didn’t think you’d ever want to see me again after what I’d done.” And here she turns her half-lidded gaze back on him.

With the way in which Ahnika responds, her warmth, the dance of their tongues, the shallow breaths that having her chest heaving just so, his body and senses are screaming ten different variations of 'Don't stop!' Only once that kiss is broken and her knees slide back down to less dangerous placement does he become aware of the wince, his head turning to receive that gentler, less dangerous kiss, his mouth quirking to one side in a smile for Jhath still being asleep and then it's concern that clears his eyes of their lusty glower. Rolling so that he's lying up against her side rather than squishing her where it hurts, a light frown forms as he reaches for that bandaged arm at his shoulder and lays it gently across her chest. Dark eyes tracing the line of the long bandage there too, "You should be asleep too, baby." a light frown forming as he mutters quietly, his head moving in a gesture of slow regret, "If only I had listened to you then…" a hand moves and hovers along the line of injuries, "this is my fault." A pained expression forms and he looks set to say more but then she's bringing up his father (a mood killer indeed) and his expression closes just a touch, that frown deepening though he doesn't pull away from her hand in his hair and instead seems to draw comfort from it, "My father" lips press together a moment his eyes seeking hers out and then he continues that frown still lingering, "was a hard man to please. It all had to be his way," perhaps where he gets some of his own pigheadedness and from where the rebel had been born? "His dreams, his plans, his…" a rough sound somewhere between a sigh and snort is uttered, "it doesn't matter now." Because he's dead and gone. He'd rather turn to the matter of the unread letter right now. Blinking a little Max follows her gaze to his desk, "An apology? Oh, I thought that…" that sentence is left unfinished when she mentions information gotten from his prisoner. Propping himself up on one elbow, a small smile appears, "So tell me, my delightful little spy, what did you get out of the idiot, hmm?" not mocking but genuinely interested to know. Her last words have him dipping his head and dropping a light kiss to her mouth, before murmuring "You're carved into my heart, baby. I see you everywhere I go."

Ahnika seems to only enjoy his cuddling up against her like that, really, less distracting, and it doesn’t take quite as much work to keep that mental guard up, even if Jhath being asleep makes it less dangerous to let it down. Ahni nestles her head against his shoulder and a little of his chest as she rests her arm across his chest in front of her face, eyeing the bandage briefly before she gives a soft snort to his statement and mutters, “If it were up to the Healers, I’d still be in the Infirmary. No, I don’t want to sleep and I sure as shells am not going back to that Infirmary, not when I just got you back,” though it could be argued that she never lost him, she just is still trying to understand what happened really. She curls more up against him, draping a sheet-covered thigh across his own, plaintively murmuring, “Don’t make me leave just yet?” either to sleep or to the Infirmary. And that’s an interesting thing to put to him when he just requested of her that she don’t leave, not ever again, but Ahnika puts it to him nonetheless, perhaps sensing and fearing that a dismissal may be imminent. She remains quiet when he mentions his father, a frown tugging at her lips as she mentally counts off the times when she’s been perhaps just as hard and un-yielding. Maybe not as much or in the same way as his father, or even his mother, but she’s been demanding and uncompromising before and she knows it. “I’m sorry,” she murmurs softly, just before he says it doesn’t matter now. And she leaves it at that. As he adjusts his position to be more propped on his elbow, she settles back onto the pillow and closes her eyes for a time, a faint smile reaching her lips for his words, and then it turns into a smirk. Her bandaged arm settles more comfortably across his middle where it’s not, perhaps, so upright, and she finally says, “It’s not all your fault,” to his first, “I had a hand in it too, and that stupid Healer telling Jaya who told you and Waine, so I had to change my plans for getting in since you knew. If I had been able to use the fellis like I originally planned, I bet no one would have been hurt. Waine would have still been knocked out when …” she breaks off to yawn suddenly. Dammit. And blinks her eyes opened to focus more on him as he talks of her being carved into his heart, and she grins, the first real grin she’s had in likely a seven, “I love you,” she murmurs in response before blinking a little more and her grin fading with distracted thoughts about what she learned. She does a little mental backtracking as she sinks more into the pillow and thinks about it, frowning a little and following his statement about her being a spy, “I don’t think I like spying so much. I much prefer a direct fight. I guess I’m lucky I got what I got out of him.” And now the bone-tired woman is rambling a little. “There was a point when I felt so … confused and out of my depth and all I wanted was for you to be there to take over for me because … I just didn’t know what to say or do next.” She exhales, biting her lip. “I kind of wish you or Waine were listening in or something so you could tell me what you guys would have done differently,” so she could learn from it. There’s Ahni, the student of all experiences. The hand of her injured arm strokes his side lightly, and she looks at him, “Maybe I should start from the beginning?”

Glancing down at her nestled in against him, "Not going back to the infirmary, huh?" an entirely wicked expression forms, "Guess that means I'm going to have to play Healer then," a finger lifts and nudges at the collar of his shirt that she's wearing, "Of course, I won't be able to tell what I'm dealing with until a complete physical examination has been conducted." He's teasing, of course. Well, hopefully. And then it suddenly occurs to him to ask, "What happened to your clothes?" Not that he minds her wearing his, in fact, the sight of her in his shirt was a downright turn-on that he was trying very hard not to pay too much attention to right now. A warm smile appears as he brushes a thumb against her cheek, "You ain't going nowhere, love. You can stay here. That is, so long as Jhath ain't gonna come hunting you down and breaking through the fence line again." Gentle teasing. Unable to place where the apology given fits, he leaves that aside brows drawing together into a bemused frown, "Stupid Healer? Che? And what was Jaya supposed to have told me?" It's the yawn that has him leaving off of that line of questioning, an expression of warmth and tenderness touching onto Ahnika as she grins, "I love you too, baby. Forever and Between." And then he falls into silence, studying her face as she admits to having felt out of her depth, a low chuckle and nod of agreement given to preferring a direct fight over subterfuge. There were several points where he thought to interject and offer comment but didn't. Only once she's done talking does he let out a sigh and dip his head to lightly kiss her forehead, "You did good, baby. You got out alive." Which in a situation like she'd put herself in, is always a good thing. Despite that sigh, there is however, an open margin of pride in his tone and his next words likely confirm that he's done trying to prevent her from being involved in that more clandestine part of his life, "Soon as you're healed up, we'll get to work on those fighting lessons, aye." Shaking his head Max reaches for the hand of her injured arm, lifting it from his side to his mouth and pressing a kiss into its palm, "I wanna hear all about it but not tonight, baby. You need to sleep now, aye?" a crooked grin forming, "Healer's orders." Him being the so called Healer.

Ahnika smirks initially at his statement of needing to conduct an examination, and the smirk transforms into a sultry smile with half-lidded eyes. Careful what you ask for, buddy. But it fades with his question about her clothes and she sighs, looking irritated, though with herself more than anything else, and she nods to the rudimentary clothes-line with her now-dirty and whiskey-sodden clothes hanging up across it. “I spilled whiskey all over myself. It doesn’t taste a sharding thing like wine, Max. It actually burns going down. How can you drink that stuff?” she asks in mild disbelief, but not chastisement. Then her grey eyes turn back to him and she sighs, “Sorry, again, about the fence … she was trying to get to me when I … got cut.” Her gaze slides to the bandage and then it takes her another moment to register the nickname for Cheusia, considering she doesn’t really know the Healer that well, and honestly at this point would prefer not to. Every time she encounters her there’s been drama, but her immediate response is forestalled by his kiss to her forehead and she smiles a little, then a little more when he promises fighting lessons, and as he kisses her palm and talks about Healers orders again, she blinks back to what she was going to say, shaking her head a little, “No, no, this one was a man. He was going to sell me fellis to put Waine out so I could get in,” then something clicks and she frowns and looks at Max again, “Wait, you didn’t know? Jaya didn’t tell you? I thought for certain she was going to you as soon as that Healer ratted me out. That’s why I changed my whole sharding plan! Oh no! My gather dress! I had to sell it to afford the fellis – that stuffs really expensive on the black market, did you know? – and fellis that I thought I couldn’t even use! Argh!” Exasperated, Ahnika puts her hand to her forehead and groans, and then slides her hand down her face, “I thought you and Waine were waiting for it, me to come with something laced with fellis.” So much for getting her to go to sleep now. She’s pretty much wide awake. She sighs, frowning thoughtfully, “So, I wonder … did that Healer lie to me about telling Jaya or did he tell Jaya and Jaya just decide not to bring it to you for some reason? I thought for sure she would. Shells …”

When Ahnika sets that sultry smile onto him that finger that had nudged against the collar slips in under it and tracks along her collarbone, a slow sly smile peeling out before his hand retreats once again, low laughter in tow. At her explanation of what happened to her clothes, brows hike upward and he glances at the items draped over the line, chuckling openly, "You thought it tasted like wine?" A crooked grin chasing out as she questions his taste in alcohol, "Mmm," he agrees on the burn, "that it does. It's…an acquired taste." Either that or he's just some kind of masochist to keep on drinking it anyway. "Why were you even drinking it to begin with?" That ill behaved hand that had been resting in relative safety on her hip, lifts and waves off the apology for the broken fencing, "Happens about every two sevens, love. It ain't nothing to get torn up about." Excuse the unintentional pun. Brows pinch in toward each other when she reveals it had been a male Healer, "Older guy, tall with brown hair and sorta…dimple thing in his chin?" his expression darkening somewhat for this line of conversation. Max is however distracted from that train of thought when she tells of Jaya having known, "No, she didn't say nothing to me. Maybe Waine…" His mouth sets into an unimpressed line, though this is more for the notion of the bar owner having known and not having said anything than for how Ahnika had planned to use it. That likely because it was something he himself would have done. Something said catches his attention next, "Wait, you sold your gather dress to pay for it?" oddly enough it's that that he picks out of the rest of what she says, looking somewhat unhappy about that revelation, "Ah baby, I'm sorry." Because she'd sold what was likely a prized possession of hers or because he'd never get to see her in it again? Probably both. Lips press together and he sets a frown back onto her, "You want I should find out from Jaya if she knew about it or not?"

While his hand traces that line along her collarbone, Ahnika bites her lower lip and closes her eyes a moment, arching her back so her chest moves more into his hand. It’s his laughter that saves them and she sighs, releasing her lip to smile sheepishly up at him. “Well, I didn’t know what it tasted like, but just knew what wine tasted like, so …” she says, and then adds with a small shrug of her shoulders against the pillow that ends up making other things roll a little slowly, too, under the parts of his opened shirt that still covers her, ahem, “I was … trying to get up the nerve to go and leave all the gifts you’ve given me behind.” This, her explanation of why she was drinking. Her eyes settle on a point past his shoulder, presumably the desk again, and then she looks at his face once more, “It was just meant to be a sip, but I think I ended up spilling half the bottle on me.” Then a soft “oh” comes as he explains the fence getting broken a lot, before distractedly nodding to the description, adding a point or two to it for added confirmation that she means Jonavan, though she appropriately refrains from adding that he had a nice ass, too, since a) she doubt it would be helpful since Max likely wasn’t eyeing his ass, and b) it would probably only make Max mad. “He could have turned me in, but he didn’t. He just told Jaya, he said, when I went back for the fellis after selling my dress and getting the marks for it, and so I didn’t get the fellis, but I didn’t turn him in for trying to sell it either because … well, I thought knowing someone like him, you know, who’s willing to do something like that, might be useful in the future.” Because she wasn’t about to try and anticipate when she might need to buy black market fellis, or something harder, in the future. She shrugs when he asks about the gather dress and looks back up into his eyes, “I thought I was saving your life. You’re worth a lot more than just a silly gather dress. Besides, if I wasn’t going to be dancing with you in it ever again, I didn’t really want it.” Which is really only partly true. It was given to her from her foster father, a weaver, so, she kind of wished she still had it, even when she thought she’d never be dancing in it with Max again, if only just to keep as a memento of her foster father. She looks away then, down where her hands now fidget a little at the edge of the bandage over her midsection, and gives another dangerous shrug, this one causing part of his shirt to fall away a little more, “You can ask her if you like. If you think it’d be helpful. If he talked to her, he may have blabbed to others.” She sighs softly, feeling like an idiot, and asks quietly, “Can you teach me to lie? Convincingly? Or at least bluff? Like at cards?”

Oooh, the wicked little temptress! That mirrored in the slow lift of brow and the span of time between that shrug of shoulders and Max actually putting together some kind of response to what is said. His eyes had absolutely not slipped to whatever delicious glimpses of forbidden curves had come into view with that movement of hers. Nope. Riiight. Clearing his throat slightly, he dips his head, his mouth seeking out hers to lay a light brush of lips against it as he murmurs, "I'm glad you didn't go." The hand at her hip set to stroking its thumb lightly up and down, "Half a bottle, eh? Just as well I like the taste of whiskey then." A certain slyness entering into his tone which is saved from becoming anything more when the details Ahnika adds in confirms his suspicions on the identity of the Healer she'd dealt with. "Sharding son of a bitch! I knew he was no good when he took my pie!" Er what? And then he draws up short from adding further invective when she points out what further use Jonavan could be in the future. Impressed, "My, my, my," tone dropping low and oddly filled with approval as a smirk fits into place, "what a devious little mind you have there, greenrider." That all falls away in the face of what she says about the sale of her gather dress, and once again that frown pulls back into place, apologetic eyes meeting her grey, as he states quietly, "You did." Save his life. But not in the manner she might think in having routed his plans to take Jinnet back to Bitra, but more simply, because she'd come back to him. A quick smile flickers in and out, "Best you keep your dance card clear, baby. Cause after you graduate? You and me gonna dance until the sun…comes…up." That somehow sounding like he's not talking about dancing at all. Uh oh, there he goes getting all distracted again as yet more soft and oh so desirable flesh comes into view when she shrugs. This time he's hard pressed to try and cover it up, "Hmm? Oh right. Speak to Jaya," dark eyes tear away from their illicit roaming about over porcelain skin and a crooked grin edges out, "Only if you promise never to use such skills on me." Cards…strip poker…somebody stop this man!

…. ftb for some heavy petting …. and then ….

If Ahnika knew about those images going through his head, her blush would return and quite crimson at that. As it is, though, she seems unaware, mistaking his blank look and shaking his head for something else, likely just for the fact that she’s nearly naked and in his bed. She’s not a complete nitwit and knows what that would likely do for Max, simply by virtue of what it does for herself. Sensing his return to her side, however, she scoots over to give him room as he puts down the bottle and takes off his boots, grinning at him through half-lidded eyes as he praises her and Jhath. Well, she sees it as praise anyway. Someone who might prefer to be ordinary might not. But Ahnika takes it as a compliment. Rolling to be on her side with her back to him so he can spoon her, Ahnika was like that when he entered, as it kept any pressure off that injured arm, so she is only too happy to cuddle with him like that. “It’s fiiine,” Ahnika drawls when he apologizes. “It was the best way to wake up, safe in your arms, held by you. I wish I could wake up like that every day.” She closes her eyes rather than stare at the stall wall, but continues talking, giggling and wiggling a little at the tickle of his chin against her neck when he kisses her there, and then she settles and goes quiet, smiling happily though she’s turned in a way he likely won’t see it unless he lifts his head up or something. Her uninjured arm slides between pillow and mattress, adding a little more pillow for her head, while her bandaged one moves to rest on top of his arm that pulled her to him. “I missed you, too,” she murmurs drowsily, “but you get to talk to your mother and explain about us making up …” why she is giving the honor to him, who knows. Could be because she senses the mother and son need some talking to do, or it could be she just isn’t ready to face Indira again after having been so sure that she and Max were over and telling her as much. Then she reopens her eyes and says, “Your mother’s the headwoman and she should probably hear about the whole matter of the runner thieves anyway, too.”

Praise it is indeed. Then again, it was the very fact that he sensed she was one to march to her own drum that had drawn him to her in the first place. Once she’s tucked in against him, Max’s reply comes in drowsy rumbling response, “Soon, baby.” That ‘soon’ of them being able to wake up in each other’s arms every day still a long way off for sure but one can be sure it’ll take a fighting wing of dragons to drag him away. Pleased the smile that comes at her words on feeling safe in his arms, the one draped across her middle hugging her briefly tighter against him, as he smiles into her hair for the giggling and loving the sound of it. “Hmm? Oooh…” silence for a moment thereafter on the topic of explaining to his mother and then in rueful tone, “I’m sorry if she busted your ass, baby. I think that might have been my fault.” Ya think!? Ahnika’s last has him lifting his head in an attempt to try and see her face, a light frown forming and then he flops back down again, “There ain’t nothing that goes on here that she doesn’t know about. Including my plans to head up to Bitra thanks to the muscle she has keeping eyes on Jaya.” Only a little disgruntled now by having had his mother pull rank on him before he’d even had a chance to explain. Nuzzling his face into the soft skin of her neck, lips brush another light kiss, “Enough about her now,” because honestly, there’s just something wrong with talking about one’s mother when you’ve got your girl (who is wearing little else but your shirt) in your arms, “I’d rather hear about how you got Jinnet to talk to you.”

“Mmm,” Ahnika begins to his ‘soon’, and then is quiet and still in his arms until his next, to which she responds, “She didn’t,” bust Ahni’s ass, at least not in Ahni’s estimation. Her hand strokes over his arm around her middle for a moment and she adds, “She was trying to save us.” That earns a thoughtful smile from the redhead, liking that Indira wants them to be together. It’s certainly better than Indira not liking them together, as she had in the beginning, though most of that was because, Ahni felt, Indira was afraid Max would hurt her as he had so many others. As Max continues however, her smile fades and eventually comes to a frown. Though she doesn’t speak up and so it’s not readily apparent why she frowns. His last, however, has the frown fading and she cuddles up a little more against his chest. “Jinnet?” She asks quietly, sounding confused a moment before it clicks, “Oh, ‘Net …Mmm. Jhath and I had a couple ideas on stand-by actually, because we weren’t sure how successful I would be getting past Waine.” Oh yes, Jhath was most definitely an integral part in her little prisoner break-out. Hell, she could have even been the one to first suggest it when Ahnika was trying to go over ideas to try and keep Max here and not let him go to Bitra. “We first thought of the fellis, and we were going to go with that until the Healer named his price and I realized I didn’t have enough marks for it. So, I told him that I’d have to sell my gather dress but that I’d have the funds for him as soon as possible. I … knew a few girls from the lower caverns who saw me in it at the Hatching feast and liked it, so I went to them first and one of them was only too happy to buy it and she had the marks, but between lessons and training, it wasn’t until the next day that I could get back to the infirmary with the marks. That’s when he admitted to telling Jaya my plan,” never mind the fact that she wouldn’t have had to reveal her plan to Jonavan had she been a better liar, “and I … guess I jumped to the assumption that she was going to warn you about it and then you’d warn Waine.” She takes a little breath, mentally going over the events of the last few days, “So, Jhath and I started working out other ideas and in the end decided lying and being sneaky just doesn’t come natural enough, especially with someone we like, like Waine, so we decided to be direct, lay it all out for him, explain we were doing this for you, to try and save you, and see if he would let us in and give it a shot.” Here she pauses a moment again, and then says, “He was skeptical at first,” not to mention misunderstanding her approach as being her hitting on him, “but in the end, he let us in. I told him to pretend to be knocked out or something and I would win Net’s confidence by appearing like I was breaking him out. Waine said he didn’t look too good … I think he was trying to brace me for it, but it made me think that I should get him some fresh clothes and a first aid kit to make me look more convincing, so I did.” Pause, “You got your clothes back from Waine, right?” because Jinnet never did actually change into them. There’s more to the story, of course, but she pauses here for his answer and in case he wants to interject any questions about the detailed version of what she put in her letter now.

Max turns out a light frown at first for her having said his mother was trying to save them but he doesn’t verbalize whatever it is that went through his mind and brought it about. With a soft snort, “Next think you know she’ll be naming our kids before they’re even born,” though his words hold no real annoyance to them because really it’s a whole lot easier having the headwoman for them rather than having to fight her like he had had to in the beginning. Having settled his head back down next to her again, he misses the frown coming from Ahnika, the hand of the arm draped over her brushing idle movements as she sets to filling in him on what had happened, certain things picked up and filed away, although likely not quite the ones she might assume. And then his hand stills and he lifts his head back up again, “Back up the runner there, you…told the Healer what you wanted the fellis for? About Jinnet being held here…the Bitran influence?” a curse is muttered under his breath and he lays back down with a muted groan but saying nothing more until she’s done talking. Despite the light annoyance displayed a low chuckle spills out for her inspired idea to have the thief believing she was there to help him, “And by the fact that he’s no longer here…I’m going to assume it worked, aye?” slightly sardonic, yet still heavily laced with approval for the plan as a whole no matter that it had cost him a vital bargaining chip. Turning his head back to where a set of his clothes have been draped over the spare chair opposite his desk (by Waine more than likely) dry amusement filters into his tone, “I wondered how the shards those got there.” Having not read the letter yet, “You didn’t by any chance charm the name of his handler out of him, did you?” because that would bring him just that one step closer to his intended target – Vaputero.

The mention of kids has Ahnika commenting with a little bit of hesitation, “I … don’t think your mother wants us to have kids, Love. I get the impression the idea of being a grandmother doesn’t appeal to her too well.” So that indicates at least one topic that Ahnika has had with Max’s mother. Oh joy of joys. It is when Max interjects over her conversation with Jonavan that Ahnika sighs, and instead of getting mad, she actually looks upset with her own self. “I tried to bluff my way with him,” Ahni explains, clearly miserable over the mishap, “but he saw through me pretty easily and called me on it. He wouldn’t sell it to me until I told him the truth. So I told him that a Bitran spy was being held against his will in the weyr and I was going to break him out and I needed the fellis for someone who I described as being Waine’s size, the guard, to knock him out, but I didn’t name names or tell him where the prisoner was being held here. He didn’t ask either. If it makes you feel any better, he said my idea was stupid,” well, he implied it anyway, and Ahnika mutters incoherently for a few moments, before then saying, “So, the next day, he told me he told Jaya and he said that he figured since she was Bitran, she ought to know. I didn’t even know he knew Jaya, but I guess being the bar owner, she gets to know everyone.” A little pause as she thinks about the events again, her shoulders tensing with the memory of betrayal by the Healer, and then she says, “So, I got mad and he got mad and he said that I didn’t have to still buy the fellis and I told him I sure as shells wasn’t and left,” mumbling something about selling her gather dress for ‘nothing’, and then continuing on after a breath and exhale, “So, Jhath and I reasoned that you and Waine must have known what I was going to try and do, so I thought I’d use the element of surprise, and really, just be direct with Waine about it, since he wasn’t expecting it, and I prefer the direct route anyway. He agreed to let me in to see Net alone,” which probably doesn’t sit too well, but since that was part of the ruse, couldn’t be helped, “So, when I got in …” her voice trails off a moment oddly, and then she continues, “when I got in, he thought I was some kind of Healer come to look after him and was all surly, and I went into my role as his rescuer, but told him I wasn’t going to help him unless I was sure he wasn’t just a decoy to trap me and I needed him to give me the code word. Jhath said that all bands of brigands have code words, so we thought it would be helpful in finding his handler if we could get it from him,” of course, how the three-month old dragon could possibly have reasoned that one out is anyone’s guess. More than likely she heard it in some harper’s heroic tale somewhere. Ahnika pauses her retelling of events here, giving herself a moment to swallow and catch her breath, considering all the talking she’s done, and give him another chance to interject with questions or points to be clarified as necessary.

Likely assuming he knows why it is his mother would be against the idea of becoming grandmother, Max tries and fails to stifle the snicker that wells up. Rather than say anything he simply clears his throat and turns to the topic at hand the frown evident in his voice for how much Jonavan now knows of what had been going on, “Anyone prepared to sell fellis on the black market is going to have a nose for sniffing out ulterior motives. For all we know, he’s the bloody Bitran handler down here.” What better cover than that of a Healer? With a sigh, “The idea itself wasn’t stupid, Ahni. In fact it was down right inspired,” finding it hard to suppress the pride in his voice and by omission suggesting that her having tried to implement it on her own, had indeed, been reckless as clarified when he continues, “But next time you talk to me before you go off and get yourself cut up.” Still unhappy about the injuries she’s sporting. “Slap me upside the head if you don’t think I’m listening.” As to the Healer having gone to Jaya about it, “Which is why Indira has two sets of eyes and ears in Jaya’s bar, it’s a feeding ground of information.” He goes quiet again, listening as Ahnika recounts the next portion and then interjects with a low spoken, “Waine doesn’t have all the facts, baby. No one does save for a few,” her being one of them, “It’s just safer that way.” Brows go up, “Did he give it to you?” the code word or phrase.

Ahnika seems to miss the humor about Indira’s thoughts on grandparenthood, and instead she frowns a little at the thought that Jonavan could be the very Bitran handler, having made the assumption that if he had told Jaya, he wasn’t, but then again, if the information never got to Max and Waine, maybe he hadn’t really told her as he said he did. That is very unsettling and only serves to bunch her shoulders up all the more for not being able to fool the Healer into giving her the fellis to begin with. Finally she mutters softly, defensively, “I’m not a good liar,” seeing it as being the fault of her poor lying skills more than anything else, but she lets it go at that, considerably mollified by Max finally admitting that her idea was ‘inspired’, though she’s feeling lousy enough not to actually smile for it, but at least she’s not frowning anymore. To his next point, she opens her mouth, tensing yet all the more and prepared to remind him that she did try to talk to him about it, but she doesn’t actually launch into it since he acknowledges it in the follow-up point, so she shuts her mouth again, feeling a little vindicated, but nodding a little. If not slap him upside the head, then she’ll twist his ear, but she’ll do something, including remind him next time of what happened ‘last time’ she ended up doing this sort of clandestine thing on her own. Next time. She nods to his question about the code, “Y-yes,” she answers, “Just that … well … At first he wouldn’t believe me that his Bitran boss sent me, and he thought you had sent me in to try and play rescuer and get more information out of him or that it was all a set up or something, so he played dumb about code words, and demanded to know who I was if I really did work for the same guy and what my mission was. I played like I was real fed up and disgusted and … sort of … twisted his ear,” yeah, she’ll blush and not look too proud about that, despite that an ear twist is probably nothing compared to what Max and Waine did to him, “and went to leave and that’s when he panicked and bid me to stay and said …” her voice trails off as Ahni works her sleepy mind to remember the exact phrase just right, “’When the red fruit won’t be’ … no, it was, ‘especially when the red fruit ain’t going to be harvested until the sun rises’ and then prompted me for the counter-code phrase, which of course I didn’t have.” She exhales softly there, remembering the little moment of panic when she was in there with Jinnet and wishing that Max was there to take over because she had just felt so utterly lost. “So, I told him that wasn’t the code I was given and pretended to be uncertain, hinted that I thought maybe the code must have changed while he was prisoner, but he caught me in that and said he could tell we didn’t work for the same people because his boss would never change the code unless it’s been compromised, and he hadn’t compromised it … well, until then, but I don’t think that registered with him.” Pause, “But there’s more …”

A corner of his mouth curves upward as he notes quietly on her being a bad liar, “That ain’t necessarily a bad thing, baby.” Unless caught by the less desirable looking for information. In which case, it could be a very bad thing indeed. But now is neither the time nor the place (in his estimation) to point this out. With the arm under his head having started to go to sleep, Max shifts and props himself up on his elbow once again and in so doing catches that unhappy look coming from her. His head dips in an attempt to try and capture her lips with his own, murmuring as he does so, “Hey, you did good, baby. Especially for your first time out and without proper back-up in place, aye?” Well, aside from letting his prisoner go, of course. His very words however, suggesting that he’s already accepted the fact there’ll be a next time. And then he goes quiet, listening to the rest of what gets said, a crooked grin appearing, “You twisted his ear?” a chuckle follows, highly amused over that. Only adding his voice to hers when he repeats the code phrase she’d managed to get from Jinnet. With the combination of the healthy portion of whiskey he’d consumed earlier, the gamut of emotions they’d both run through, and not more than a few sleepless nights of his own of late to match hers, he slowly starts to shake his head suddenly weary when Ahnika pauses and then states there’s more, “You can tell me the rest tomorrow, love. You’ve been through a lot and should probably still be in the Infirmary as it is.” And here he’ll lay back down, shifting to be laying on his back, eyes closing for a moment and then opening once again as he asks quietly, “Will Jhath let you stay?” for the night. Or at least until Rukbat starts to make its appearance.

Ahnika returns the kiss, smiling against it a moment and nodding a little, then the smile fades, “I’d not tell anyone else this, but … Max, it was a little … scary. You know? Especially when I got hurt … you were worth it, don’t get me wrong, but … that’s when I knew I really messed up. Jhath was so upset and worried and angry. I should have thought more about her, about what would have happened to her if something had happened to me. That was … irresponsible.” She exhales softly, genuinely regretful of taking things as far as she did, “Jhath was more than eager to do this. Shells, I wouldn’t have been able to plan it all out as I did without her helping me. But maybe that should have been the red flag for me to rethink it through. She’s still so young. She thinks she’s invincible, that we’re invincible. But … I know better.” She closes her eyes, murmuring, “I’m sorry, Max … I’m sorry for thinking I could do it, we could do it, on our own … it was stupid and irresponsible. I only hope that everything I got out of him will help so it’s not all for nothing.” The chuckle to her twisting Jinnet’s ear isn’t joined by the redhead with more mirth and she just sighs, feeling more down and tired than ever. There’s a little groan about her supposed to be still in the Infirmary, “I wanted as few riders to find out about this as possible. If I stayed in the Infirmary and didn’t show up for training …” she sighs again and doesn’t finish. As he lies back on his back, she remains on her side since turning over would pin her bad arm, but she continues to snuggle against him on her side as his position allows. “She’s asleep for now, but she’ll know I’m okay as soon as she wakes up at dawn and will wake me to get back to the barracks.”

There’s no mockery at all for her confession of having been scared, or even rebuke for her having risked both her life and Jhath’s in the process. There is however a frown that joins the expression of deep remorse for the fact that in effect, he’d been the cause of all that she’d gone through, it sitting ill with him, plain to see. With a heavy sigh, he turns back into Ahnika, reaching to pull her in close against him once again, except this time he’ll try slipping an arm under her so that he has both about her rather than having the one scrunched up under his head. Silence stretches out to the point where she might think he’s fallen asleep. Until swallowing slowly, his tone low though tight with some of that lingering remorse, “Shit…I don’t know why you stay with me, baby…all I seem to do is hurt you,” laying the blame for her fear and physical injuries at his own door. To her and Jhath being put in the position of trying to deal with something on their own, “Never again,” his vow given quietly intense, “I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to you because of me.” The bandages she wears cutting him up enough as it is. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you, baby. I should have been.” Her response to still not being in the Infirmary draws the very faintest edge of a smile from Max, “Aye well, there’s no shame in needing to take some time off, love,” says he, the one that almost needs to be tied down to a bedpost to get him to stay in one place when injured, “You shouldn’t be training until you’re properly healed up either.” Though he’s not going to push the point, realizing that she’s likely trying to avoid having to answer too many questions from her fellow weyrlings, not to mention those overseeing them. Shoulders shift into a slightly more comfortable position and he nods to Jhath waking her in the morning, mumbling through a stifled yawn, “Wake me up, when she does then.” Not that he probably wouldn’t automatically wake up when she does given the confines of that narrow mattress they’re both currently occupying.

Ahnika doesn’t object to him pulling her closer. In fact, she seems to only cuddle in more against his chest. She lies now at a little bit of an angle on her back against his chest, only her shoulder of her uninjured arm actually resting against the mattress. She turns her head and rests her forehead against his cheek. She stretches that good arm out a little ways for that hand to try and capture that hand of his and interlace fingers. She’s quiet a long moment with own expression of remorse and claim of responsibility and she doesn’t correct him, though neither does she beat him up worse. In the end, she squeezes his hand and merely says, “Well, all three of us lived and learned from this experience … and that’s all that matters. It won’t happen again. Not like this. No need to dwell beyond that.” Another pause as she contemplates explaining more and then just says, “I’m fine, my Heart. Better now that I have you again. They only wanted me to stay for observation and to get my strength back.” She gives a little nod against his cheek and recloses her eyes, “I will,” she says to his request for her to wake him and then she yawns, “I still need to finish telling you about Pheenie who works for Timekis. Won’t leave in the morning before you know everything … just in case.”

Dark eyes track the movements of her hand to his, fingers lacing between hers and returning that squeeze of hand before nodding his head against Ahnika’s. “Aye, live and learn,” he repeats in agreement. And he goes quiet again, savoring this moment right here and quite likely fighting sleep in order to make it last as long as possible. Breaking out of it to note with drowsy roguishness at play, “Still think you should let me do a full inspection. Just to make sure that, you know, the Healers ain’t missing anything.” Teasing and then hugging her tighter to him, “Me too, baby.” Better for having her back with him again. “Mmm,” that Max’s response to her telling him the rest in the morning and then he’s out like a light, chest rising and falling steadily as sleep claims him for the first time in over a seven without the aid of being almost comatose drunk first.

Closing Credit Theme Music: Boys Like Girls and Taylor Swift - "Two Is Better Than One"

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