Storms Of Life


Max.jpg Ahnika.jpg

Date: 2010.11.22
Location: EW - Lakeshore
Synopsis: Max and Ahnika take shelter from a storm both literally and figuratively.
Rating: PG13
Logger: Max

It may not be the spring and rainy season, but the summer has its rain, too. Particularly in the afternoon, like now. Having just bathed and oiled Jhath, Ahnika had started her afternoon swim in the lake and managed to get a single lap in before the thunder rolled in and the lightning lit up the sky, so she swam to the shore where Jhath had been dozing and the pair made it over to a little shelter of boulders with an overhang just before the rain started in earnest. There, they hunkered down, choosing to wait it out a bit to see if it would let up before making a run for the barracks if not. The outcropping offers a little more shelter for Ahni than Jhath, of course, but the green dragon has never been one to whine or complain. However, wet from her swim, Ahnika huddles under the rock with her towel wrapped around her, shivering a little quietly in the stormy breeze. She doesn't complain either, but it's plain she's more bothered than her dragonet.

Max, having been in conversation with a tall and thin, ferrety-looking man down at the other end of the lake where some seclusion for such private meetings is afforded, hadn’t timed the ending quite well enough and so is caught in the storm when it breaks. Making a dash for it, he’s soon soaked to the skin, rain running off the brim of his hat when he spies the outcropping of rock, Jhath for all her size, not immediately noticed through the pelting rain. As such he comes to muddy, screeching halt directly in front of the dragonet, tips his hat (go figure) and dives under the small shelter. The training he’s recently gotten back into, leaving his breathing not as hard as it might otherwise have been for the hundred yard dash. A crooked smile peels out, “Hey baby.” Of course he’d noticed her!

Jhath notices Max first, but that just means only a second delay before Ahnika brings her attention over to him next. The weyrling smiles, scooting over a little to make room for him under the outcropping, though remains huddled in her towel, hugging herself. Jhath warbles loudly in greeting to Max, in as dignified a manner as a warble can sound. "Hey Love," Ahni says softly in greeting, her grey eyes looking him over appreciatively, perhaps noticing some change in his physical condition, but doesn't comment. Not on that, at least. She does murmur, "I've missed you." Once he's settled comfortable, she'll lean more into him, but her arms remain wrapped around her to hold her towel around herself better. "Everything going okay on your end of things?"

Of little use now, his hat is removed and set to one side, leaving a circle of dry hair standing up all over the place. About the only thing dry on him and likely setting a comical slant to the beast manager. Even although he’s still dripping, he’ll lift up his arm for Ahnika to lean in against him and then wrap it about her shoulders, drawing her in close and dropping a kiss to her still wet head of hair. “Missed you too, baby,” something fierce. Especially in the last seven or so, thanks to the antics of a certain greenrider and a bare-it-all bronzerider. But that’s a longing best not spoken about. That initial smile fades and frown fits into lightly into place. “Been better,” he states in quiet honesty and then dark eyes seek grey out, “You been doing okay, love?” Concern evident due to the last time he’d seen her. A hand lifts and he strokes the back of his knuckles down the side of her cheek, “Sleeping any better?”

At least it was summer. Ahni was chilly with the wind and rain, but it was a warm kind of rain, the kind that is brought with the summer heat. She'd have been colder yet with an autumn or spring rain and it'd probably have set her teeth to chattering. Despite that she is wet and chilly and he is just as wet, she does cuddle into him, sharing body warmth for lack of anything else. If she finds his dry hair comical, she doesn't speak on it. Jhath simply keeps a multi-faceted eye on the pair. She looks up at his face from her position and worry creases her brow, "Been better? What's wrong?" But she shakes her head next before his reply and says, "I'm fine." Looking away as she says it. It's not exactly a lie. She is fine. She's just not … great. She leaves off any answer about her sleeping for the time being, preferring to hear about Max's next wrinkle, hoping she can help in some way.

His free hand wipes across a track of water trickling down the side of his face as lips press into a thin line. Shaking his head slightly as if to shake the question off, the frown lingers a further moment or two with Max choosing to focus on Ahnika and her wellbeing, at least for now, a searching look sent her as he queries gently, “Only fine, love? Still the nightmares, aye?” knowing they’re not likely to just disappear in a puff of smoke. It’s not that he’s evading her question put to him, it’s just that he’s loathe to further burden his flame-haired beauty with yet more of his troubles. And so he remains quiet.

It's Jhath that answers Max first, rumbling a discontented growl from deep within her chest. Then she snorts. To this, Ahnika sighs softly apparently getting some nudging from her green internally. Ahni closes her eyes and turns her head more in against his soaked-clothed chest as she answers with a slightly muffled tone, "Some. Not every night, though." The truth. Her forehead nuzzles against his neck a little, eyes still closed. "Nothing anyone can do anything about, so no point worrying about it," well, not right now. The night she slept curled up with Max before Nara came to get her back to the barracks, there were no nightmares. She reasonably assumes he'd keep them at bay for her, but it'd be impossible to move Max into the barracks just to sleep with her at night. W'red would have a fit and the other weyrlings with beaus would probably whine and complain, wanting to be able to sleep next to them, too. "It's neither here nor there," she says finally, changing the subject, "You should know that the cousin you needed hidden and safe is going by the name Relly now. She comes from up north, was an apprentice weaver and knows bookkeeping from helping him, but left that on account she wanted to see the world on her own and knew she'd be bound to wherever the hall sent her if she continued there."

Of course, Max has no idea what that rumble coming from Jhath means and so he eyes her a little warily, trying to decipher what it is he’s now likely done wrong to annoy the dragon. But with Ahnika turning her head more into his chest and giving muffled reply, his frame relaxes somewhat and his other arm wraps about her, his head leaning in against hers at his neck. A soft sigh and then his head moves against hers in a small nod, “Aye, don’t I know it, baby.” He’s not even going to try sugar coating that one. “One day, love,” this given to their being able to spend every night together as if sensing her thoughts on the matter, or simply going by his own experience that having her in his arms, keeps his own at bay. Once she begins reporting on Kelarad’s cousin, his draws away a little and the look he sends her is one of high approval, even drawing a smile to quirk out onto one corner of his mouth, “You done good, baby. That’s a good story you got there.” Dropping silent for a moment and then asking as his gaze goes out to the rain still falling beyond, “You got to speak to her, aye?” assuming so given what she’s just said, “She doing, okay?”

"One day," Ahnika agrees softly. Not soon enough, by her reckoning, but dwelling on it is obviously no help. So, back to business. She grins a bit and reopens her eyes, drawing back a little to look at him, "Yeah?" to having done well, pleased with his approval, especially so since her confidence has been shaken so badly lately. She leans back into him, resting her head on his shoulder now. "It's not far from the truth, which is what will make it easier for her to keep up with. She knows a bit about weaving from her folks, before they died and she was taken in by her cousin, and she knows a bit about bookkeeping because of him and Lorien. Sticking her with apprentice baker as a past would have hung her up should she have encountered one and needed to talk shop, so to speak. So, it's closer to fact than fiction, and I think that will make things easier for her." As he looks out onto the rainy landscape, she closes her eyes, relishing in the feeling of being close to him, "Mmhmm. I think so. She says as much and looks to be truthful when she does. She's considering staying more long-term, even perhaps hiding in amongst the candidates with the next cycle if she can, though she's not made up her mind." She frowns a little, "Max, can he really force her to go back? Even if she doesn't want to? She seemed to think he could." The 'he' implied is Kelarad, though Ahni doesn't specify. Jhath rumbles again, not liking the notion herself and more than likely will put up as much a fuss as Ahni if Olira has to go against her will.

Smiling warmly down at her, “Aye, really.” Sincere. And then Max is listening to what she says, nodding here and there, a brow lifting when Lorien’s name is mentioned in conjunction with Olira but for the time being he doesn’t comment to that. “And that’s exactly the way to do it. Keep a cover story as close to the truth as possible without being too close so as to lead people to a person,” that approval still apparent in his tone. Enjoying that small space of silence with the redhead tucked in against his side, his gaze shifts back to her, surprise evident in dark eyes, “She…wants to stay on?” That wanes and draws into a slightly troubled expression, “If it were anyone else, baby. I’d make it so she didn’t have to leave. But…with him?” Pissing the Tillekian off so soon after their fragile alliance was put in place wouldn’t be the smartest route to take. Besides, with that letter he’d received from Auren, he was going to need Kelarad’s help in moving his daughter. “We can however do a lot to keep postponing the date of her return. Come up with various reasons. Even saying she’s been Searched,” nodding at the idea, “That might help.” A sigh drops passed his lips, “I dunno, love. I’ll have to talk to Jaya, she seems to know him well enough so as to be able to offer clue on the best approach to take.” By the determined set of jaw and tone, one can be sure that the beast manager will do all within his power to try and grant the Tillekian redhead her wish if he can.

Smiling for the praise with her head still against his shoulder, it might be felt more than seen as Ahnika remains nestled in against him. But a few moments later she nodding slightly, "Mmhmm," she says initially, "Well, she's thinking about it anyway. She's not made up her mind. But she likes it here and she likes notion of sort having a place to start over … clean-slated. No expectations, which … considering what she's been through. I can … really understand." All Ahni wanted to do was get away from the Weyr and the reminders of Phineus, and he only struck her, whereas with Olira, Vaput did much, much worse. She goes quiet for awhile again, listening to him and thinking, "Well, no point in trying to force it if she's not sure she wants to stay yet. But … I'd be willing to bet Relly could help us figure out a way, too. She probably knows him better than Jaya even, and she'd be motivated to help us approach him the right way since it'd be all about her anyway." Ahnika's not lost hope anyway. "She seemed kind of taken with the idea of candidacy … I think my only worry would be eligibility." She frowns thoughtfully, her voice going to a near whisper, more for the delicate and awkward topic than for need for discretion, "How … long ago … did that man … attack her?" And Ahnika suddenly shudders a little uneasily, curling more up against him, feeling a little clingy with the topic alone, looking for his safe and secure arms and reassurance.

With his knees drawn up already, Max edges the tips of already sodden boots in a little further as the wind kicks in behind the rain and drives it a little in under the overhang of rocks. Eyes drifted back out to the weather as the rain continues to hiss down a short sigh escapes as he nods. “Aye,” given quietly, he too understanding how the Tillekian redhead would prefer to start over someplace new. Silent, listening as Ahnika quite rightly suggests that Olira herself would be the best bet with regards to swaying her cousin into letting her stay, he nods to that and then turns a bemused look onto the weyrling on the topic of the other woman’s eligibility for Search. “Don’t see why not.” The question asked of how long ago the attack took place earns a distracted, “Round two months back, far as I can figure.” Not quite putting two and two together there as concern drifts in for the manner in which she curls in more. Arms pull her tighter against him with the beast manager dipping his head to try and catch her eyes, “You okay, baby?”

Ahnika is slow to answer, a myriad of things going through her mind, but she remains snuggled up against him as best she can in such conditions. Eventually she says, "So, we'll know then, before the next gold rises, probably. I really … don't want to have to ask her directly if she's … in a 'family' way, but I will if necessary." Ahnika wrinkles her nose, finding the whole thing just unpleasant to the core, "Why do men have to be so … mean?" Present company excluded? Probably. She's nuzzling said present company anyway. "Why do that to her? Why do that to any woman? Aren't they powerful enough to have women just falling all over themselves to get their attention?" And this is, apparently, meant in answer to his last question. "One would think they had enough wealth and power to have any woman they wanted, and without taking her by force."

Max’s frame stiffens notably with Ahnika’s words providing clarification, his jaw working tightly as he looks away and back out into the rain in an attempt to control the anger that wells up. After many a long moment of silence, where possibly her words on why some men find it fitting to force themselves on a woman appears to roll off of him, his voice grates out. “Shoulda thought. Shoulda had that brown hover Between for longer…shit!” putting blame on himself for not having even given such a possibility due consideration. Clearly still disturbed, his next is directed to his love pulled in against his side, tone perhaps a little curter than he means it to be. “Ya need ta find out from her ‘bout that afore its too late ta do anythin’.” Accent grown stronger with his discomfort. Silent again it’s a good long while before the beast manager finally gives reply on her last, clearly sickened, “Weren’t about takin’ a woman, baby. It was a message. Sent loud and clear for Rad. Vaput’s….looking to start a war.” And apparently getting very close to being successful in his bid.

Ahnika is confused at first, "What? … oh." She frowns thoughtfully, "Well, she's been here a month already. That's … promising. I'll … riddle it out." She isn't comfortable doing so, but she'll do it. "It's not your fault, Love. It's … his." Meaning Vaputero. She doesn't really want to voice his name. Not given the topic anyway. If she is put off by his tone or matter, she doesn't show it. Jhath huffs, though if it is directed at Max or at Vaput is anyone's guess, well, anyone but Ahni of course. She listens to his last and frowns again, "So, he's a insecure coward. Only a coward would 'send a message' in the first place." Jhath rumbles in agreement. "Everyone knows the best way to pick a fight is to just go in there fists swinging. Fuck the message. All a message does is give your enemy time to prepare." She snorts a little, "Coward. He deserves to be castrated and tossed Between." Jhath trumpets, perhaps suggesting she'll do the honors, whenever she learns how to go Between that is. Perhaps it is a good thing Ahni doesn't know about the message Max is trying to send with a holdless dead body?

Lips still pressed into a frown, Max gives a faint nod, “Aye, I know it ain’t. But if I’d just thought…” words trail on what is now a moot point. The huffing coming from Jhath only earning her a brief look and then it’s back to the rain falling beyond. Ahnika’s words for Vaputero’s method of message delivery draws the beast manager’s attention back to her, a wry smile lifting the one corner of his mouth in acknowledgement of the fiery words from his firecracker. And then it drops away and he notes through a sigh, “It ain’t always as simple as just taking a swing at someone, baby. Men like that,” shaking his head a little continuing on, “Wouldn’t get a step passed the door before one of their thugs cut a person down.” Which would be why he’s chosen the smoke and mirrors method of delivering one of his own. Given in a quieter tone now as his head goes back against the rockface behind them, “It ain’t all black and white, love. Gotta play the game their way until you’re in a position to start changing it.” Perhaps giving hint that a large portion of how his northern counterparts operate, doesn’t sit well with him either.

Ahnika listens, her eyes coming opened again as he talks and finding part of his knee to stare at. She doesn't move for a different view because she's not really looking for one. She ponders a moment, frowning, "Of course it's not that simple or that black and white. But their game and their rules? It's obviously done little more than make a few cowardly sadistic men powerful and wealthy and left the rest looking for new identities or dead or shattered and broken, like Relly." She purses her lips a moment, straightening a little, though still settled in against him, and a firm set to her jaw, "We're better than that, Max. We can make up a new game with new rules and make them play it." She pauses only for a little breath before continuing, "Not with punches swung, no. Any good siege campaign needs careful strategy and planning things out." Siege campaign? Three guesses where that one came from and the first two don't count. "But even on a grander scale, the direct approach, not letting your enemies know what you're about? Keeping them guessing and on their toes. That's just smarter. Sending messages by raping women? Even if you want to leave off how criminally insane that makes you, that's just cowardly posturing and dumb. Next thing, Kelarad's going to rape some cousin of that Bitran's, and then on and on and where does it end? With a pile of broken women and lots of babies no one wants. That's not how you wage a war. That's how you pull your pants down and wave your dick around just so the smart woman at your side, the one you underestimated, can pull your knife from your belt and slice it off." Um, Ahni? But there's no stopping her now; she's on a roll, "That's all it is. Stupid, idiotic, cowardly, sadistic posturing." She untucks a hand from under her towel and pats his chest, "I'm so glad you're much smarter than that. You're the kind of man every man should aspire to be, Max." She closes her eyes again, snuggling up against him once more, "And another thing, I'll never have any other man's children. You can count on that. The only man I want fathering my children is right here." She gives his chest another tender pat, "so, after … every flight … I'll go Between. Always. I love you."

Brows twitch with Max hugging her a little tighter in against him for a moment the short end of a dark chuckle spilling out, "Just what I aim to do, baby," change things, "But it ain't gonna happen overnight, and for nowwe look to be playing their game," like sending messages with a body whose life wasn't taken by his own hand but will be made to seem so. "Bide our time 'til we can make our move." His mouth curls into a crooked smile despite the dark talk, moving to brush lips over her forehead, and then shaking his head faintly, "Kelarad ain't like that, love." He knows at least that much. "We aim to take Vaputero out before he gets his war." We?" "There ain't many up there that what he did sits right with." Oh, so the renegades do have at least some sort of code? Maybe. He is however, unable to hide his amusement at the analogy Ahnika uses with regards to waving dicks around and the belt knives that will end such a display. It fades however for the pat she puts to his chest and the words that follow. Dark eyes set a long and intent look onto her, shimmering with just how much that means to him to hear coming from the woman he loves more than his own life. The beast manager grows still, caught in that moment and then his head tips to one side regarding her in that lingering silence as she speaks of never wanting to bear another man's children. Even for flights having been mentioned, he's somewhat at a loss for words right now and so swallowing slowly he nods before his mouth is seeking hers out for a deep and tender kiss (sorry Jhath). One hand reaching to gently cup her cheek, he pulls away, eyes fixed to hers, "I love you, baby. With all my heart. There ain't no one but you." Spoken low but with a fierce passion nonetheless. And then unless Jhath has complained, or she's pulled away he'll twist in his position so as to bury his head in her neck, pulling her in tight against him, holding onto and savoring the one sane thing in his life right now.

Ahnika considers his words, giving a little squeeze as she can in kind to the hug he gives her. To all of that regarding his plans for the Renegades, Ahni's only response comes to the comment on Kelarad not being as bad as Vaputero, and even that is little more than an uncertain, "Hmm." If he doesn't force Olira to leave against her will, well, then Ahnika will probably concede that he isn't as bad. In the meantime, the jury is still out on him for her. His, for all appearances, stunned silence with her previous promise to him has her a little worried at first and she looks up into his face, blinking quickly. She relaxes though when he leans in to kiss her tenderly and she returns it easily, just as slow and tender and loving. Jhath groans and sighs aloud, the pre-teen equivalent of 'Great! Just great! Now we'll never get out of here!' to her 'parents'. Far from traumatized over such displays by this point. More just not seeing the point for all the 'gushy' stuff and preferring to find something better more fun to occupy herself with. But it's raining. Another sigh from the big green dragonet and she strikes up a random conversation with another dragonet to keep preoccupied for the moment. Meanwhile, Ahnika reluctantly pulls away from the kiss as he does and opens her eyes and smiles up at him. She says nothing, but sighs happily as he pulls her in close against him and she slides that one free hand up over his shoulder and to his back, hugging him to her. His ear is right there in that position with his head against her neck like that, but she manages, with some effort, to restrain herself from nibbling. The thought does cross her mind however. Her heart beats a little more quickly. Finally she murmurs, "Still think you can wait for me then?" She obviously doesn't know about what happened between him and Nara if she is asking him that question.

Its just as well Ahnika is able to fight that temptation to nibble his ear or else there might have been steam lifting up off of their damp clothing for what might have ensued given their impromptu cocoon of shelter from the rain and by default, the world beyond. Of course, there’s always Jhath to consider and she’s right there, within easy butt munching distance which is always a sobering factor. At least for Max it is. Her question for some reason draws his chest to rumble with suppressed laughter as the beast manager lifts his head, amusement playing openly across his features. It’s on the tip of his tongue to suggest she ask her new greenrider friend about that, but then realizes that in her asking that of him, she likely doesn’t know what had transpired. He could even have called upon his recent encounter and the ensuing badgering at the hands of one visiting Reachian bronzerider and that self same greenrider but he’s loathe to put a wedge between the weyrling and what looks to be her adopted mentor. Instead he simply clears his throat and puts out a crooked grin, a roguish light entering his eyes, “Don’t need to wait.” Given in somewhat enigmatic form. Then he’s moving his head back to her neck, mouth seeking out her ear against which to murmur in heated clarification, “See you in my dreams every night, baby.” Leaving it up to her imagination as to just exactly what they might be doing in said dreams. Of course, dreams can never replace the real thing. But for now, they’re just going to have to do.

Oh yes, and probably the reason why Ahnika manages to restrain herself here now, knowing that they'd both be hard-pressed to stop at just ear nibbling. Well, at least she would be. His suppressed laughter earns a little sheepish smile from her, but it fades when he claims he doesn't need to wait. Any other woman might jump to the conclusion that he has snared himself a tart to nibble on while waiting for his pie. Ahnika, however, doesn't. It is either because he has stated there is only her, or because she just trusts him. So, her expression turns cautiously hopeful for those brief moments until he explains in murmur to her ear, and then the expression is momentarily one of disappointment, having hoped for him to have found a way for them not to wait. But the disappointment is fleeting because the murmur to her ear stirs her to nuzzle his own neck in kind, delivering a soft, open-mouth kiss to it as she murmurs, "I dream of us together, too, my Heart." So much for resisting temptation. Jhath sighs again, though, and Ahnika sighs in echo, starting to pull away. "Jhath and I should go. This rain isn't letting up. I don't think I'll get my swim in for the day."

One can believe that if there were any way for them not to have to wait any longer; Max would likely deliver it on a silver platter amid a trumpeting fanfare of triumph. But such is not the case, neither is theirs a tale written by the whimsical hand of a harper but rather quite literally one held in the developing mind of a young green dragonet. Her press of open mouthed lips against his neck has the beast manager drawing her in closer for a moment, hairs on the back of his neck standing up in reaction. Rather than their separation being conducive to cooling his ardour, it’s had the reverse effect and simply heightened senses and responses. Toward her, not Nara, or any other woman for that matter. With that hand that had cupped her cheek moving on a course to the back of her neck, likely of a mind to draw her in for a deep and passionate kiss, it stills midway between as she starts to pull away, sighing as she does. Mutely he nods through a light twitch of a frown, hand dropping away and arm moving from its wrap about her settling over one of his drawn up knees as dark eyes settle in lingering fashion over curves and toned muscle. Suddenly he snaps out of it, sending a crooked grin out, “When you get out there again,” in the rain, “you’ll be wet enough that you could just flap your arms about and kick your legs up and call the swimming done.” He however, doesn’t look to be going anywhere.

Ahnika can't help but look forlorn now. If this is how terribly hard it is for them in six months, how are they going to survive another turn, or even longer, before she graduates? It's not the first time this problem has weighed on her, and without a solution in sight. Without a way to 'fix it'. She reaches for his hand once it settles on his knee and if allowed will bring the back of it to her lips in gentle kiss before enclosing it in both of her hands and lowering it to her lap, squeezing lightly as she does. "Fake swimming is about as fulfilling to the real thing as a dream of making love with you is as fulfilling to the real thing," she says, though her rueful smile suggests she enjoyed the suggestion for what it was worth. "It's hard, even with Nara, to get around without Tavaith seeing or … others." She frowns, her gaze sliding away at that, seeming thoughtful, "Though Tavaith is the more important. He's constantly keeping his eye on me and Jhath, especially Jhath, and we're already on W'red's naughty-list as it is." Or so she thinks. Why else would they be watching her so much? She looks out at the rain-scape, but not seeing anyone immediately closeby, or any dragons other than Jhath, she turns her attention back to Max. "But … I'll try and slip away with Nara's help sometime soon, and make it to the beast caverns." Her thumb rubs his hand, and she murmurs, "I want you. I want to be with you." There's a lot suggested in those few words, but she doesn't spell it out. She leans in then, brushing her lips against his briefly before pulling back and lifting her gaze to his eyes, "But before I go … tell me what is wrong? Maybe I can fix it." Beat pause, "Or help somehow."

It's the forlorn look coming off of Ahnika that almost does it for him, having the beast manager closing his eyes against it for a second, coming open again when she takes his hand and presses soft lips against its back. "Ahni…" Max begins to say something and then stops a small smile appearing. "Aye, I know, love." The thumb of his hand that she holds separating to brush a touch over hers, "We'll make it through, aye? I ain't going nowhere." Offering further reassurance just in case she might still be worried that he might hit out and go and find solace elsewhere. Her frown is matched momentarily by one of his own over comment given on the Weyrlingmaster and his brown and then a crooked smile appears fleetingly, "He's only doing his job, baby." As much as that might irk the two of them for what it means to them as a couple. What she says next of trying to steal away to the beast caverns with Nara's help, that draws a look of wary caution into place and a slight shake of head, "Not at the cost of Jhath's wellbeing. I'd never forgive myself if…we disappointed her." Choosing that as tactful reply as he has know idea what the draconic consequences might be if a dragonet's weyrling got themselves 'involved' before it was deemed old enough to handle it. His lips greet hers in that light brush against them hunger that quickly rises firmly pushed down and then he's turning his head away slightly only to turn it back again and find himself under grey eyed regard. Dark eyes shadow a touch, his mouth twitching toward pulling into a frown through an ensuing silence, battling with keeping further burden from her against his need to share it with the one person he can trust to possibly offer forward level headed solution. With his free hand brushing through his hair in frustrated gesture, from damp to dry and then falling away again a short sigh exhales and his eyes seek hers out once again, grave, "Little Bit's in trouble."

Ahnika merely nods and swallows hard against the lump in her throat over his reassurance that he isn't going anywhere and they will make it through. The fact that W'red is only doing his job earns a sigh and a nod, "Still, it's bad enough you have people following me and watching me, and now W'red has Tavaith and others following mine and Jhath's every move. I can't even take a bath without being watched these days. You'd think I was a sharding goldrider or something." Ahni sighs and looks away a moment, thinking things over, "But you're right. I suppose I earned all the extra eyes with this," lifting her arm to show her pink pencil-thin scar, which is much less visible than before thanks to Jonavan's aloe-cream, but still visible when this close to someone else. Her frown deepens as he talks of Jhath's well-being and she seems momentarily indignant. After all, wouldn't she be the best one to know just what her dragonet can and cannot handle and where that line is? But then, she eyes that line across her forearm and is reminded of her poor judgment once again, which just chinks away at her self-confidence all over again and she slumps, sighing once more. She rubs a hand down her face in open frustration, mirrored in the dangerous glint of Jhath's multi-faceted eyes who is almost always itching for a good fight if the cause is just. If Ahni doesn't defend her judgment, though, Jhath will, with a harsh snort and discontented rumble. All this comes a few moments after Max's statement on the green's wellbeing and disappointing her, however, and so how it actually looks to outsiders might be more confusing. It is a heartbeat after Max's last words that brings Ahni's grey eyes back onto the Beast Manager sharply focused. Her own problems wiped aside in favor of lending aid to a vulnerable baby, "What? How?"

"Goldrider's," Max gives through a crooked smile, "are a dime a dozen." How Randi and every other weyrwoman on Pern would likely kick his ass if they ever heard that. "But you're something special, baby." Forgive him for being biased here. With her lifting her arm, he reaches his free hand forward, fingers tracing lightly over that scar, his expression gone distant before it clears and warms as he shakes his head slightly and offers in low tone, "These…" that scar and the one that lies hidden from his eyes, "are a testament to your heart and desire to protect another. And that love, is rare." A quality that resonates deeply with him. The rumbling and snort given by Jhath snaps dark eyes the green's way and a wryly apologetic expression to form as not having a mental link with the dragonet he makes assumption to what that might have meant, "Won't let you down, darlin'." Or maybe he just has. He doesn't know. With Ahnika putting quick query to his statement over the wellbeing of his daughter, his attention draws away from the green an unhappy line patterning across his features. "Got a reply back from Auren," he starts to explain, "She's still at the Hold. Managed to get herself appointed as Little Bit's nanny," expression softening just a touch in unspoken gratitude for that small mercy. "Says Garnalla's going off the deep end, again," or still, depending on the weather, the time of day or whatever other trivial matter sets her off. "She's worried about being dismissed. Says that…" Words trail and the beast managers swallows, attention setting back out to the falling rain, voice barely above a murmur, "If she goes…there's nothing between Little Bit and that bitch. I…" shaking his head in frustration, "She's asking for help and…I don't know what to do, baby. I daren't go and get her. Not yet. Things with Kelarad they're still…" his hand lifts and makes a teetering gesture. Not to mention that Jaya has yet to make that smuggling run agreed upon to clear his debt with the man.

A warm smile is given Max for his initially sweet and endearing words. How can Ahnika not reward that with a kiss? And so she does, squeezing the hand still held in her one hand while her free hand reaches for his shoulder as she leans in, her own towel sliding off her shoulders, to kiss him slowly, a bit more deeply than the brush of lips before, murmuring against them, "I love you, and if it helps you to worry less about me so you can focus on more important matters, I'll put up with all the extra eyes on me." Including the ones she only thinks belong to Max but don't, "for now. But when I graduate …" she leaves off the rest of that, pulling her lips away from his mouth with a rueful smile of promise suggesting that she's no exhibitionist and wants to keep it that way. Another rumble comes from Jhath at his promise to her, but it sounds less discontented and more like, 'damn straight' or 'you better'. But much like Ahnika, she straightens and looks alert when there is talk of a baby in danger, swirling eyes faintly lined in yellow as she assumes a more sentry -like pose with the rain pelting down off her hide. She and Ahni both quietly listen, though, attentive to Max's words. For the human of the pair, a little look of sympathy crosses Ahnika's expression, and then it fades as she looks off in the distance, pondering things over. Whatever conversation is had between dragon and rider, it causes Jhath to stir and shake a little, unfurling her wings as she does and sending a spray of water off them. Fortunately, she was facing the pair under the outcropping and so most of the spray goes out behind her and not at them, but perhaps for a few drops. Remembering herself, Ahnika says aloud, "I know, Nobleheart, but … we can't wait that long. This isn't ideal, but it's the best thing within the time constraints we have." Jhath rumbles and huffs, but finally settles as Ahnika squeezes his hand once more, returning her attention to Max, "If we can't legally lay claim to Little Bit yet," we? Oh yes, 'we', "and she's in danger, then we have to trip Garnalla up so she exposes her own crimes, both to her Lord and the public, just to be safe." Ahnika has no way of knowing if the Lord Holder isn't just as bad as Garnalla, but public opinion would be harder to counter, she reasons. "If Auren can't manage things alone, send up others to insinuate themselves amongst the staff and guards there … quietly," a fleeting frown for Ahnika actually showing support for a less than direct approach, demonstrating how she really doesn't like it but sees no other strategy. "They can look for evidence that will incriminate her for her actual crimes, or they can create evidence for crimes she didn't commit," Jhath growls more harshly at that suggestion, but Ahnika inserts her will a little here, looking at Jhath for a moment and the dragonet quiets, "for the child's sake," Ahnika continues. "Garnalla's done wrong and should pay the price for it, even if she pays the same price for a crime she didn't commit. It's still the same price and justice will have been done." She turns back to Max, "If Auren ever looks to be in any real danger, the new people can make something up to get Auren dismissed as a result of them finding her out or something and make the new people look more trustworthy and loyal to her in her eyes. That will protect Auren and get Garnalla to look more favorably on your people in there. You have people that could work in there, yes?" Ahnika asks suddenly. She's still not really sure about all of Max's resources, but she knows he and his mother have more at their disposal than Ahnika really knows about.

He needs no second invitation, his free hand lifting to the nape of her neck, lips drinking in the taste and feel of her own. However short that kiss might be, it's enough to have taken some of his breath from him. Though reluctant to break from that short weave of her spell, his mouth curves against hers, "I love you too, baby." A rueful smile forms, "We'll talk again when you graduate." Not knowing the way of things in the future he's not prepared to commit himself to taking whatever 'protection' detail he might have on Ahnika, off of her. With conversation turning back toward more sombre things, a brow lifts and he glances in Jhath's direction, querying as he does so, "What is it she wants to do?" But then goes quiet as the redhead starts to lay out her thoughts on the matter, his fingers curling about hers tighter in response to the squeeze she gives his. Perhaps realizing he's said little about the Lord himself, the beast manager interjects only once to state quietly, "Lord Elisser's a good man, baby. He's just…not around much." Or wasn't when he was still there, although the chances are good that hasn't changed much given Auren's concern. Falling silent again, taking in the rest of the plan, brows twitch and it's an uncertain look that flickers her way for setting Garnalla up to take the fall for something else should they fail to force her into admitting her daughter's true sire. Somewhere, at some level, he can't help but be impressed with the way in which her mind is currently working but right now he's focussing on the pros and cons of what she's suggesting. Therefore it's a good long while after Ahnika has finished speaking before he says anything, his head going back against the rock face behind them, staring unseen into the rain. Eventually dark eyes slip sideways and land back onto her, "Some of those that look to Indira could pass as staff in the Hold itself but…" he'd rather she not know right now. Quiet for another short while, "There's one or two I could send up to take position in the stables…" And then slowly but surely his mouth forms around a dark and cunning smile as Lazerne springs to mind, the good looking, smooth talking young man known to frequent the beast caverns on occasion. Low laughter springs forth but rather than holding any real humour to it, there's openly contemptuous edges patterning across the sound, "I know just exactly the person to send." Knowing the Lady Holder's tastes well enough to know that Lazerne would be right up her alley. "He's got a sister whose been working down at Landing in the kitchens." That flash of darkness casts aside and Max sets her with openly approving smile, leaning forward to brush his lips across hers and state in husky tone, "You have got the sexiest mind I've ever come across, baby. Thank you." That last quietly spoken with deep sincerity. A fair portion of that earlier air of futility now washed away in light of having a plan and the chance to be proactive. "I'll write Auren and let her know they'll be coming up." Hopefully without his Tillekian 'brother' being aware of their presence in his domain.

Settling in a little more against him again as they conclude their kiss (with Jhath yawning intentionally to make her point), there comes a brief furrowing of her brow as he seems inclined to 'talk again when she graduates'. Pfft. What's this? But it is forestalled from developing into full-on petulance while they talk of finding a means to save his daughter. She nods a little when he talks of Lord Elisser, seeming lost in thought (or internal dialogue) again, and only waves dismissively with one hand, briefly, saying of Jhath's plan that, "It requires she be older and able to fly, go Between, and flame," flame? Oh yes. Jhath apparently thinks chewing firestone will be good for all types of things, not just flaming Thread. "And as great an idea as it is," Ahnika chooses to say carefully, not wishing to her hurt green's feelings, "we can't wait that long." Jhath huffs in a 'harumphing' way, but is settled once more, not objecting to the new plan. She does look much more intrigued and interesting in the conversation now that they aren't being all 'mushy' and 'boring'. Both weyrling and green dragonet observe Max as he sets his sights on the people he will send up to aide them, listening and watching him and his reactions. The mirthless chuckle earns a curious but unworried look from Ahnika, knowing that he'd been hurt by Garnalla badly. It is his next statement of her having the sexiest mind he's ever come across that gets her grinning and actually blushing, the latter being something she hasn't done since W'red called her out on hurting herself. This is a nicer cause for that blush, though, and she returns the affectionate kiss in kind and this time leaning more into the kiss and him, releasing his hand to slide her arms around his shoulders and press her soft but athletically toned, soaked-swimming kit-covered body into him. Pulling away from his lips briefly, she muses, "Explain to me how a mind can be sexy, exactly?" Her tone teasing and affectionate. Meanwhile, Jhath sighs as they get all mushy again, turns a little so most of one wing is facing them, and snaps it out part-way, brushing it a little against the top of the outcropping and sending a misted spray of fresh water at them while a trickle of water slides off the overhang, onto her wing and all over their feet. "Jhath!" Ahnika shrieks and then laughs.

Despite the sombreness of the discussion, Max’s attention goes briefly to the green and a side of his mouth quirks upward, “Flame ain’t sounding bad round about now, darlin’.” He gives to the dragonet picturing the brittle and cold Lady Holder with a dragon threatening to flame her titled butt and potentially ruin an expensive gown. His mind still going over the ins and outs of the plan being put into place, the blush coming from Ahnika is enough to put those thoughts momentarily to rest with a warm smile. The press of her damp body against his, has the man drawing arms about her waist, a hand drifting up her back lightly, as if exploring the physical changes wrought by weyrlinghood. Almost on the point of deepening that kiss his heart beating a little faster for the close contact when she pulls away, a low chuckle greeting her query. “Free, exploring all angles of a matter…” he starts to give in husky tone before they are quite literally getting the cold water dousing to any flames of passion that might have been starting to flare dangerously. Sodden boots instinctively try pulling out of the way while an arm jerks away from its wrap about Ahnika’s waist and without thought lifts to shield their faces. His reaction times are getting faster. “Hey!” a slight scowl going up to the dragonet and then that free hand lifts in a show of defeat as his other arm comes free of her bonded and lifts a hand in similar fashion, “Fine, I’ll back away from your girl.” As if Jhath were a jealous boyfriend or an over protective father. Amusement however, is evident in the chuckle that spills out and joins the redhead’s laughter with him adding in roguish tone, “That’s going to be some Test of Stamina if she’s going to do stuff like that.”

Smirking, Ahnika merely mutters, "Don't encourage her," though she looks amused and not genuinely discouraging him. Point of fact, Ahnika likes that Max and Jhath are getting comfortable with one another to be able to actually communicate. It would, of course, be easier if he had a firelizard or even a dragon himself, but … Ahnika smiles, looking from one another. Yes, things between the three of them were looking better all the time. There comes a brief kiss to his cheek for the talk of her brain being sexy and how, "Allll angles," she grins, pulling away and winking at him suggestively. Then shaking some of the new water off her, her laughter slides into chuckling. "We'll just have to schedule the Test of Stamina for a day that isn't raining, then." A warm look sent Max once more and she adds softly, "I dream of that day all the time, you know."

Oh you can bet he'll encourage the green, especially if in a sticky situation where he can point to someone and go 'Jhath, bad guy. Flame his butt'. Or at least that's the notion that plays out in Max's head. One that seems to amuse him given the mischievous light playing in his eyes. He turns his head into that kiss to his cheek, murmuring into Ahnika's ear and fighting the temptation to take that tempting earlobe into his mouth, "See what I mean about sexy?" Futilely brushing the splatter water off where it had landed, he snorts softly, "Or just find something to keep her occupied and…away…busy…somewhere else." Yeah, he's still a little twitchy at the idea of the dragonet 'looking in' on them. Head lifting from studying the sad state of his boots and giving up with trying to rub the mud off of them onto the backs of his trouser legs (Oh the laundry girls are going to be just thrilled about that one), a look filled with love and barely suppressed longing fits onto the redhead. Smiling a hand lifts and brushes knuckles across her cheek, "Aye baby, me too."

More than likely, if there's injustice, Jhath will be right there to, well, right it, and probably with little urging from Ahnika or Max either as passionate as the green is about such things. Ahnika grins to Max's next statement, a bit more color coming to her cheeks, and then she chuckles, speaking aloud to Jhath for Max's benefit, "Considering how bored you are by just us kissing, Nobleheart, you'll probably go off and find something more interesting to do anyway, right?" Jhath answers with a rumble, and Ahnika says, "She says, 'we shall see,'. But I think she's teasing." Another rumble from Jhath, and Ahnika smirks at her, gathering up damp wet towel in one hand and then turning that warm look back onto Max, pressing her face into his hand as he brushes those knuckles across her cheek, and then she tosses that towel at the green's wedge-shaped head. It lands there, blocking her vision a moment and before the green can shake it off, Ahnika leans in to lock lips in a deep but swift passionate kiss, and then is pulling away. Jhath issues a screech that is loud enough to vibrate the rock around them, considering the proximity, and shakes the towel off her head, huffing a little. Ahnika laughs softly, "Okay, okay, I promise." And then gathers up her satchel with her various trappings for swimming and oiling and bathing Jhath this afternoon. "Before we go, anything I need to know about what is next for Relly?"

“Boring? I’ll show her sharding boring,” Max gives with a small amount of huff and a spatter of dented ego coming into play. He does however look at least a tad relieved to hear that the green might well go and find something else to do. With Ahnika gathering up her towel, he shifts as if to take up his wet hat left lying at his side. The action stills however when he finds his lips locked in that deeply passionate kiss and returns it in kind, breath catching a little in his chest, hand slipping from her cheek to the back of her neck. Left breathless for a moment after she’s pulled away, his tongue runs across his lower lip as if catching up every last taste of her left behind and chuckling in devilish manner for the indignant screech coming off of Jhath as she shakes the towel free. “Very sexy,” he proclaims with a slow and heated rake of eyes going everywhere but to her head and that mind he’s supposedly speaking about. As she gathers her things together, his hand finally finds its way to his hat and clamps it back to his head as he shifts from a seated position into a crouch, readying to make a run for it through the rain still sheeting down. A light frown as Olira is brought up and then he shakes his head, “Naw, just find out about that…potential problem we spoke about,” loathe to put words to it and then adding, “And maybe what approach could be used with her cousin to let her stay on if she so wishes.” For aside from this being beneficial to the Tillekian currently under their care, such knowledge of the renegade could prove to be extremely useful to him too. Having said that he holds out a hand and stands as much as the small shelter will allow him to, “Ready?” To get soaked all over again and…reluctantly go their separate ways.

"If boring to her means that kind of fun," Ahnika grins, agreeing, "Then I want you to bore her utterly and completely, Love." Jhath sighs and groans, but is apparently not seriously upset and is being more sarcastic and melodramatic because Ahnika is chuckling at her with affection in her gaze. It is his heated gaze across her body that has that blush resurfacing and a warm smile, biting her lip briefly before letting it go with another warm look before it sobers again to the talk of Olira. She nods once, "I will. I'll write you if anything new comes up." Including a pregnancy. She takes his offered hand and uses it to help her up to a slightly bent position under the overhang. "I love you, my Heart." She squeezes his hand and then nods, "Ready." There's a look out at the rain and then she lets go of his hand and takes off as another crack of thunder rolls out across the sky. She sweeps the soaked towel up with her hand and the other holds her satchel as she makes a beeline for the barracks with Jhath walking along side her, considering her height and longer stride not really needing to run to keep up.

Closing Credits Music: Brandon Flowers - Crossfire

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