Sudden Flights


Jaya.jpg Max.jpg Hope.jpg

Date: June 2, 2011
Location: EW: Bowl, Stables, Office
Synopsis: Max finally makes good on a deal, but the news of the Bitran crimelord's arrival to the south has him whisking Jaya and Hope off the continent to avoid him. Jaya also finally meets his daughter, Hope.
Rating: PG-15 for some language
Logger: Jaya

Mid-morning finds the Weyr at its usual level of hustle and bustle with everyone going about their daily routine. The area of the bowl that fronts the beast caverns is largely deserted however with most of the 'hands sent out on yet another round-up of what wild herdbeast they can find. Save that is, for the beast manager himself. Astride the big black stallion he favours riding and leading a silver-grey mare that moves with high-stepping grace, he's not alone for firmly ensconced in the saddle in front of him is the two turn old toddler he's often seen with. One arm wrapped tightly about the child's middle to keep her in place, he slows both mounts to a walk. A piping question from Hope draws a soft laugh from Max, "Maybe next time, love." For which he's rewarded with a scowl as the child twists about, "P'omise?"

Mid-morning is usually when one can find Jaya in her bar, making preparations for the busy evening, but not today. Today she’s striding in the bowl, Suli on her heels as it appears the two of them are deep in tense conversation. “….and if you think that man’s not going to seek you out the moment he steps foot here…” Suli is saying, to which the Bitran barkeep is grumbling at her and looking for any excuse – any way - to escape. Escape came in the form of Max astride his stallion, Hope sitting before him and the woman had to back away before she runs right into them all. Wide-eyed, clearly not expecting to see them there with her thoughts being elsewhere and dragged about with Suli on her heels, “Max,” she calls in greeting, eyes on him first before she slowly takes in the rest of the scene. Suli, for her part, is shooting a hard stare in Max’s direction before falling suddenly silent. Composing herself, Jaya steps forward and dares to place a hand on the stallion as she asks, “Taking the little tyke out for a ride, I see?” she notes, fitting one of her lopsided grins in place for him with something deeper underlying within it for his eyes alone.

"We'll see," Max gives the toddler vague answer and was about to add more when a familiar voice calls out. Dark eyes swing in Jaya's direction and the smile that's produced is warm; less so for Suli who gets nothing more than a tight smirk. As to Hope, she who was trying to wrestle Starflight's reins from her father's hand, her actions still and she drops a curious look down onto the woman, the stallion's coat twitching across muscle under the hand Jaya sets to it. "Jaya," the beast manager returns, "just the woman I was lookin' for." A lopsided grin is produced and then whether she's ready for it or not, he's lifting his daughter up with one arm and dropping her down toward the barkeep, "Grab her will ya?" Not waiting for a reply he'll let go as soon as he's sure she has the toddler and then swings down from the big stallion.

Suli meets Max’s gaze coldly before shooting a look to his daughter. Jaya doesn’t seem to notice – or rather, chooses not to. When she hears that Max was looking for her, her interest shows plain. “What’s going on?” she asks immediately, to which she hears Suli mutter, “Likely news that’s a few days too late.” Turning to Jaya, her tone more audible, “Later,” before she’s gone, walking back towards where the bar would be. Jaya watches her go before suddenly, a child’s being placed in her hands. Uh-oh! Considering the sort of life she lead, being in the presence of children was a rarity. Therefore, eyes go wide and before the woman protests, she is face-to-face with Hope. She holds the girl like she’s holding up a canine pup, staring back at the little girl, looking quite at a loss of what to do with her. “Uhhhh,” is what comes, her mind going momentarily blank before the first thing she could think of comes to mind: “Hey you.” Some greeting. In all fairness, this is the first time she’s ever spoken to the child, after all. Pausing for a moment, “Looking for a babysitter?” she drawls out wryly, the Bitran looking the little girl over like she was looking over a piece about to be stolen. Poor young woman, give her time.

If Max catches that mutter coming from Suli he exhibits no sign of having done so, merely setting the woman with a bland look as she leaves. "Couple of things," he then replies to Jaya tone a little tight which may indicate that he had indeed heard what the Telgari had said. That however is swept aside for the time being a grin sent her way for the manner in which she's holding Hope, "She ain't gonna bite." Well the toddler might, but not without provocation or encouragement to do so.

Hope of course goes immediately shy and a thumb meanders to her mouth around which she lisps a quiet, "Hi." She is however giving Jaya a long looking over and then, as children will, reaches a little hand out to the scar on the woman's cheek and touches it lightly, little head tipped to one side, "You fall down?"

Watching the exchange and the reins of both held in one gloved hand, Max steps in closer and holds the silver-grey mare's set out to Jaya, "Name's Moonbeam but you can change it if you're of a mind too." And yeah, he's looking a little awkward and so covers with, "Woulda had her to you sooner but Wallyce had some problems getting' her down from Keroon." And then with a wink, "I never go back on a deal, baby." In other words, Moonbeam is the runner he'd promised to her all that time ago back in Telgar when she'd laid down her demands in exchange for working for him.

Jaya, noting the tightness in Max’s voice from when Suli leaves, “We’ll talk of it later,” is all she gives, shaking her head. Right now she had a little girl in her hands, staring back at her as much as she was. Max’s comment on Hope gets a brief pointed look that melts away to a crooked grin. Dark regard take in the girl’s shyness and the way she stares, and the Bitran not flinching away from the touch to her scar proves that it was a move she had expected. The question, however, was not unexpected. Her mind going blank for a moment, it takes the barkeep a moment to respond with, “Yeah, shuga. Fell down hard.” To Max quietly, “I’ve forgotten how observant they are,” she says, nodding towards his daughter. “Both me and Beddie had a hand in raising our little brother. He was the same way.” Then he steps in closer, and she turns when he offers her the set to the silver-grey mare. “What-?” Immediately, she secures Hope to one arm, the girl able to hold onto her about her hair and neck if she so chooses while she reaches for the reins with the free hand. She looks at the runner, at Max, at the reins she’s holding, seeming not to believe at first. Quelling down some of her excitement, “This is for me? My runner?” the question are like an eager girl getting her first pair of jewelry, moving closer with Hope to peer over the mare more critically while Max speaks. She catches that awkward look, “Moonbeam? It’s unassuming,” she answers decisively, nodding. “I like it. I’ve always wanted to name one Biter, but, she doesn’t look like she rights, right?” She couldn’t hide back the bright smile anymore – tentative at first – and she says aloud, “My own runner! Shit, that’s great, I-oh-“ yeah, forgot she had a child in the vicinity, but it was too late to take back what she said. “Um, uh…” Composing herself, turning towards Max, she leans over to plant a kiss to his cheek before stating more formally, “And here I thought you’ve forgotten about our little deal, shuga. I think she’s great. Moonbeam, huh? You know how fast she can go?”

A grim nod of head is all Max gives to speaking of less pleasant matters later, remaining silent as he watches the exchange between toddler and barkeep, mouth curved up at the one corner. Little fingers trace up and down the scar on Jaya's face as she speaks, the child setting her with that solemn gaze, taking the information in and turning it around in her head. "Hope kiss S'uga all better," she announces and then without warning the two turn old pitches forward and soft lips press a quick kiss to the blemished cheek if she's able to.

With the reins handed over Moonbeam takes a step forward, elegant neck arching and then the mare whuffles a breath of air through her nostrils in greeting. "Aye, she's yours," Max confirms grin growing wider as Jaya's excitement rises. Starflight's tries to get in on the action but his head is firmly jerked away, "Not a chance, mate." Hope very quickly wraps arms and legs about Jaya when she's put into that one-armed grip, holding on like a little barnacle to the side of a ship, "S'uga wuv Moo'beam?" - "You can call her Biter if you like?" Max teases with a nod towards his daughter who is now wriggling to be set down, declaring, "Hope wuv Chicken Shit." And then she dashes off, swallowed up by the beast tunnel.

Watching for a moment to ensure Hope makes it into the tunnel, that kiss to his cheek draws a lopsided smile into place, and then dark eyes glint with challenge, "Wanna find out?" How fast the mare can go. "C'mon, I'll give you a leg up," despite the fact that the mare isn't saddled and is adorned with just a halter and lead rope. Max who has never seen Jaya ride to determine her level of competence then pauses, "Or we can go get her tacked up first."

Putting darker matters out of her head – not with a runner and a child present – Jaya nods to the beast manager before she turns to regard the little Hope in her arms. Hope speaks and before the woman could say or do anything, Hope plants that kiss on her scarred cheek. Jaya stares wide-eyed at the little, not sure what to do, what to say to such compassion from an innocent. Something like that does not come into the life of a born criminal, and so it shows how flustered she is for a moment before a tentative and more genuine smile peters out. Then Moonbeam is there and so she turns her head to study the mare, Hope wrapping arms and legs about her as she remarks, “Wait till I write Beddie. She’s going to want to visit, I’d wager,” she seems to warn, remembering the last time her twin showed up and had tried to seduce Max in his own office. Hope’s question gets a drawl from her: “Yeah, I do very much,” in which to Max, an amused brow lifts silently.

But then, Hope wriggles free from her and is running off, the barkeep watching her leave with slight narrowed eyes and a thoughtful demeanor before she echoes, “S’uga? Chicken Shit? What, teaching her to talk with renegades and dockers already?” she teases, shaking her head as she turns back to Moonbeam. “She’s….interesting,” she gives after a pause, thoughtful. “Your daughter. Thought she would be scared of me.” Some children have ran from her a time or two, especially that nasty scar was coupled with a scowl. The girl having completely put her off-guard, it takes a moment to see the mare before she’s recovered and shooting a challenging smile Max’s way. “Go for a ride now? Why not – if she can handle me.” A wink is given and she moves to the mare’s side for that offer of a lift up, looking over her shoulder and adding, “Just a little sprint. Been a good while since I’ve had the wind in my hair, boss.” Beat. “That’s if you and yours can keep up.”

Jaya stares and Hope stares right back, although there is a smile that slowly starts to grow on the toddler's lips, broadening into a beam as the barkeep smiles back at her. "S'uga better now." For why else would Jaya be smiling right? Everything is just so simple in the world of innocence and naivete.

Max is hard pressed to keep emotion off his expression for the interaction between the two and so with a clearing of throat and tug to brim of hat further down over his eyes, he makes a show of checking over Starflight's bridle. Turning back to Jaya there's nothing but a chuckle, "That woman shows up butt naked in my office again, I'm turnin' her over to Waine." With his hat shadowing his face as it does, likely all the barkeep can see is the way in which his mouth tips about a smile, "You really like her?" Meaning the mare but that could be taken to mean his daughter too.

With Hope having dashed off and Jaya now setting him with a personal challenge, Max calls out to one of his 'hands, "Keep an eye on Hope for me will ya? Just gonna show the lady here, whose boss," grin. Back to Jaya he tips his hat back off his face a little, the smile produced warm on the matter of his daughter and her reaction to the barkeep, "Naw, she's like her Pa. Knows quality when she sees it, aye?" Charmer. Giving Jaya that boost up and a swat to the butt for her latter comment, laughter spills next. "She's got her own way of namin' people. You're S'uga to her now and Chicken Shit," that laughter turns a touch wry, "that's the shardn' chicken Jon gave her before he left." And then he's swinging easily back astride the big stallion and wheeling him about in a tight circle, head pointed in the direction of the lakeshore. A swift dig of heels and a whooped, "Yeeha!" and they're off!

The simple words from babes. It’s clear Jaya has never been around children much, and so Hope’s words have the woman watching the little girl race off in wide-eyed silence. Even when Hope is gone, her gaze lingers in that direction until Max’s words bring her back to focus. Blinking as she recalls the present conversation, “Ahhh, I think Waine and Beddie would likely tear your stables down,” she notes in response, chuckling to herself. She watches what she can of Max with his hat shadowing his face, so the question put to her, she takes to mean both his daughter and the given mare. The smile fond, “I do,” is what she gives easily. “I see you’re surrounded by good things, shuga.” Perhaps to cheer the man, knowing that he was going through a tough patch the last several months or so. She snorts when he tells one of his boys that he was going to show her who was the boss, but his next has her looking his way for just a moment before the mare gets her attention. It’s likely to hide the faint blush, finding it unbecoming of her reputation. She tries to cover it by saying, “I see daughter and father are getting along now. She’s coming along fine with the Weyr?” She chuckles on her new name from the girl, but some of fades in light on hearing about the healer and his leaving. Her face still turned as she runs idle hands over the mare, “Glad he said goodbye to someone, then,” is all she says to that one, lips pursed. After a pause, “A…chicken? A pet chicken? I thought little girls more liked canine puppies and little felines.” But then she’s getting that lift up and finds herself mounted on Moonbeam, the barkeep smiling all the more now in anticipation for a logn awaited ride. The swap to ass earns Max a mock-hard look, about to retort something back – likely crass, knowing her – before Max yells and is off. It was abrupt for her and she cries out for her mare to surge forward in the lake shore’s direction, Moonbeam cantering to catch up and Jaya holding on tightly with another whoop! falling from her lips when the mare picks up pace. Finally!

The stunned expression that Jaya wears causes Max's mouth to tilt up at one corner. Yeah, he knows that feeling, the toddler continuing to surprise him on a daily basis. Her comment over his second and her twin draws a sly grin into place but to his credit, he keeps whatever quip had sprung to mind to himself. Her words have the desired effect, for the beast manager's smile warms and deepens in the shadow cast by his hat and dark eyes set an unseen though intent look on her, "Aye that I am." He states quietly.

A glance slips over in the direction that Hope had disappeared in and a small smile turns out, "We're figurin' each other out," he admits. Jaya's comment on Jonavan's departure then draws a light frown into place, "He was tryin' not to," say goodbye that is. Max then pauses, as if he were going to ask a question but with the challenge layed out, he sets it aside for later inspection. Chuckling, "Waine tried to give it to Jonavan. Jonavan then went and asked Hope to look after it for him and well…" shoulders lift and fall in helpless gesture, "What was I gonna say? No?" Yeah, the little girl has him that firmly wrapped about her finger.

Starflight, a stallion of endless tightly wound energy, needs no further prompting. Neck stretched out, thick black mane and tail streaming out behind him with his rider flattened low against him, the runner eats up the distance to the lakeshore with pounding beats of hooves. Jinking first left and then right a group of people are narrowly avoided, their annoyed calls fading behind the pair with laughter left in their wake. Lifting the elbow of an arm, Max ducks a look back under it to see how Jaya and Moonbeam are faring.

Hope was a conundrum to Jaya, and so that’s where the almost embarrassed look comes from. Just as well she doesn’t see that intent look, either. Woman’s blushed enough for one day, in her opinion. She snickers low on Max trying to figure Hope out, and vace versa. “Seems to be working,” she agrees, finding it amusing and it fades somewhat in light of hearing that Jonavan was trying not to say goodbye. A frown gets that, but she doesn’t put words to it. One would say she almost doesn’t know what to say to that, even. She snorts on the poor matter of the chicken, “In a Weyr no less! Little one better keep an eye on it or else some dragon may mistake it for running food.” But the time for talk was over. Moonbeam was in her element, it seems, catching the flight of the stallion up ahead and tries to match it. Ears flattened with its new rider leaning into her mane, the mare picks up speed and seems to know exactly what Jaya wanted. All that could be heard was the wind in her ears and the beating of those hooves to the ground, the old feeling exhilarating. If Max looks back, he would find that, slowly and by inch, Moonbeam and Jaya was catching up to them. She may not be able to outpace Starflight, but she can certainly catch up. In either case, the pair bypassing the same group of people mere seconds later, it was clear that Jaya was in her element. Her ebony hair flows behind her along with the white plumes of Moonbeam’s tail, a contrast marked against the oncoming lakeshore to any that should be watching.

Talk of absent healers, potentially ill-fated chickens and little girls that seem to be able to stump adults without much effort, all gets left behind for the thrill of the chase. While Max could spur Starflight on to keeping ahead of Moonbeam and Jaya, he doesn't, keeping the stallion at the same pace, flicking glances back every now and again as they start to catch up. Around another group of people, "Arsehole!" gets yelled out as they fly by then Starflight tucks his legs and jumps a small handcart in his way, "Idiot!" is shouted by the startled owner, the lakeshore looming ever closer. Only when tufted black hooves hit water, does the beast manager rein his mount in, panting and grinning widely with exhilaration.

Moonbeam could push it. Jaya could feel that she could fly farther, go harder, go faster. She could already imagine the racecourses in Bitra, watching those runners fly around those corners, like her favorite one called Whore’sBane…. Her thighs tighten in the thrill of the chase, and she was sure the mare could sense her excitement as they dash pass weyrfolk and riders alike. The fact that they could get in trouble for this only seems to spur her onwards – it’s been far too long since the Bitran’s done some damage. Suli reminded her of that. Those curses sent both her and Max’s way gets a nasty shout of laughter, reveling in their anger and annoyance as the shore comes even closer. Once the splash of water hits both mare and rider, only then does Moonbeams finally slows down. She canters close to Starflight and his rider, Jaya’s hair in disarray as it frames her face and hides her scar. Hooting, “Fucking brilliant!” she calls in Max’s direction, leading the white mare in a circle around the black pair, satisfied with the runner’s prowess. “Ha! She can run, can she! Bet she could even outpace ol’ Whore’sBane in Bitra well if trained so!” One would think she was acting like a child playing with a new toy, and it would be accurate.

Max is impressed to say the least, not having expected that Jaya would have quite as good a seat astride a runner as she's proving to have. Fearless yes, of that he'd had no doubt. And so taking his hat off and swiping a forearm across his brow, his grin deepens as the pair come splashing into the water. Dark eyes track runner and rider as they circle him; Starflight who had dipped his head to drink the water lifts it and sends a snort of greeting to the mare. Laughter rumbles out, eyes shining with pleasure in mirror of Jaya's own, "Lookin' to add runner races to the agenda, huh?"

In turn, Jaya was pretty impressed with Max that he could ride – but then, she hadn’t really seen him on a runner until now. She lead Moonbeam about them, getting used to the little nuances in the mare – or learning them, as the case maybe. “I’m going to have to take her out in the mornings,” she decides as she circles, already putting plans in place. “It’s been a while for me and she’s a bit sharp when you get her pacing. One false move and my ass will be on the ground.” Turning Moonbeam to ride up to the side of Max, “But I like her,” she states, beaming with a light in her eyes. “Never got my hand on a runner before. Well, not without having to steal one. This one’s mine.” A hand reaches to run through the mare’s mane, smiling, seeming very pleased with the short ride. “Is there a stall for her?” she asks then, shooting a glance his way. To Max’s question there’s a wry, “It’s in my blood, shuga,” in earnest. “The races! Haven’t been to one in turns, but, you never forget your first, or the ones after. Very impressive, boss.” Nodding, “You came through. I won’t forget this.” It also meant, with it being part of their working contract, that she was his employee in the official status.

Max was all but born with his ass in the saddle but it's not something that's ever really come up with most that know of his Weyrbred roots assuming he rode simply as a means to an end for transport and doing his job. "Not bad…for a girl," he quips cockily fully expecting a mouthful for that one. A brow lifts, once again impressed as Jaya comments on the mare's pace and form, "You know your runners. She's highbred out of Watchfire," naming a well known denizen of the tracks. A sly grin turns out as he sits the jinking about that Starflight has set to when a blue dragon lands a short ways off in the lake, "I could always take her back and have you try to steal her from me." Setting his hat back on his head and turning the stallion back toward the beast caverns, "Aye, right up next to his," response on the mare's stall. Jaya is then set with a curiously contemplative look and then Max gives a nod of head and small, awkward smile for the thanks given, "C'mon, Hope's probably got that chicken out the box by now." Deftly he changes the subject.

Not bad for a girl? Jaya flicks a look over in Max’s direction. “I was born to ride, shuga,” she states in proud tones with a toss of her head. “And I can ride better than you. Try me sometime,” now that she has a runner of her own. She’s too much in a good mood to not to put the challenge to the man. A brow lifts with interest when Max tells her where Moonbeam was bred from, the woman not able to hold back the “Really? We’re going to a race, then, you and I.” It’s set in stone because she will make it so. There’s that spark of trouble in her eyes when Max suggests she could steal her from him, the woman drawling back, “Don’t tempt me. My fingers have been itching something fierce lately.” Now she wheels Moonbeam around to step in line with Starflight to head back to the stables, nodding and looking pleased to hear that a stall was already made and in place. She falls silent as they head back, the lingering look to Mac equally contemplative and adds now a tinge of curiosity when he mentions his daughter and her pet chicken. She catches that awkward smile and hides the more genuine one beneathe a whistle as they canter on.

Laughter greets that statement, "Reckon, huh? We'll just have to see about that." The alpha male rising to the challenge laid out by the alpha female once again. Excuse that smug little look of triumph that displays briefly but given gifts that have been given and returned, even if Moonbeam is a part of a business contract, Max is feeling pretty pleased with himself right about now. "Any time, darlin'," is his quick response to going to the races and then with a sly grin attached, "Ever raced in one?" Low laughter falls next on itchy fingers as Starflight settles into a slow rump-swaying walk back the way they'd come but he says nothing, merely shooting a crooked smile laced with cunning in Jaya's direction. With a canter taken up, it's not long before the sounds of hooves are echoing against rock as they enter the beast tunnel. "I'm glad you like her," given with a small smile and then he's swinging down from Starflight's broad back and handing the reins to one of the stablehands.

Snorts, “Guess we will,” Jaya agrees, the light of the day in her eyes. Clearly she loves to be competitive, and so to have a reason to be so puts an unusual smile on her face. One wouldn’t be able to recognize her, having been used to her scowls. She grins more when Max agrees to going to a race, and the question gets a breezy, “One time. Oh, I snuck in, really,” she adds, flapping a hand about as she cooks up the true story to untrue proportions. “Had to play like I was a boy. They have issue with girls racing for some stupid reason, but I didn’t let that stop me. I was really good, too. Had grown men weeping, but I think it was more because they all betted against me and lost.” Uh-huh. Max can believe that if he wants to. “Just you wait, though. You ever been to a race? You have to see the ones in Bitra! Good redfruit spiced pies you could steal in one hand, card tables up and down the gather, and you at least see one body before the night’s out….” By the time they reached the beast tunnel, it’s likely Jaya had talked Max’s ear off about the racing gathers in Bitra. It’s probably reminiscent of that one night in her bar long ago, when she was uncharacteristically chatty. It’s the night she denies of her behavior, too. “….and then Beddie, of course, nearly had me lose all my marks in this on game, until she flashed her tits,” she was concluding as the stableboys approached, laughing. “That pretty much won it for me. And of course, I like her!” She dismounts with a little help, her boots hitting the ground. “Runner’s got heart. You surround yourself with such women, I notice. Even little Hope.”

There’s a laugh that greets Jaya’s description of having taken part in a race, and whether or not he buys the added embellishments, it warms him to see the usually guarded woman so vibrant and ebullient, indeed reminiscent of a night over a turn ago. Max even dares to go so far as to turn a smile onto her, commenting quietly over the clop of hooves, “You should laugh more.” Until this point he hasn’t answered the question put to him enjoying listening to her commentary on runner races in Bitra too much to do so. Now however, dismounted and pulling his gloves off a crooked grin appears, “Raced up Tillek way a few times. Drugged Lord’s Ransom the last time,” Kelarad’s then pride and joy, “And took the winner’s purse.” Smirk. Yeah, he’s not above lying and cheating if the ends justify the means.

“She suits you,” Max then states flowing a look over the silver-grey mare and then her new owner. An oddly placed smile appears next for surrounding himself with strong females, dark regard holding intently to Jaya for her last, “Aye, reckon I do.”

Just then Hope comes careening out of his quarters, her pet chicken clutched tightly against her little chest, little face lighting up when she spies the two. “Moo’beam wun fast?” her dark head of curls tipped to one side, attention lifted to Jaya’s face as she valiantly holds onto the struggling chicken.

Max’s simple words have Jaya stopping in her tracks and staring – looking as if she was just caught doing something that she shouldn’t have. There’s a short huff of laughter then in response, the smile genuine as she responds with, “Tryin’ to catch me off-guard, is it? I’m onto you….” It was the best tease she could come up with since her scar was starting to show out with contrast to the blush that was creeping up. Apparently, as much as she fights it, Max has that effect on her. Once off of Moonbeam, she circles the mare slowly as she checks for any injuries as Max answers her question. Brow lifts as she leans over to look at him, “Drugged, huh?” she muses, finding that interesting. “Hm. Vaput had me drug a runner or two whenever he lays down marks large enough to buy a Weyr.” She grins at Max’s assessment of her and the mare, the woman patting Moonbeam’s side with affectionate air, but it’s his next coupled with that intent regard that has her smirking his way with lingering gaze. She looks about to say something to cover herself – cuz all those looks and intent responses was unraveling a woman used to strong composure – when they are joined by Hope and her pet chicken. Her dark eyes on the chicken held tightly, the question from the little girl getting an almost shy-like smile as she answers with, “Very fast. She’ll be wind in the fields!” Beyond the confines of the Weyr, that is. She steps forward then before getting down on her haunches, nodding towards the chicken before asking, “So that’s your pet, shuga? Ahh…..Chicken Shit?”

Jaya’s words produce a rumbling chuckle along with an amused, “Cute,” for the blush that darkens her cheeks. Starflight having been handed over into a groom’s care, Max takes to an idle lean against one of the stalls and removing gloves and hat, setting the one into the other. “Prefer to race clean,” he says, tone slightly rueful, “Had to be sure we’d win, needed the purse,” is added on the matter of his having drugged the Tillekian’s runner beforehand. Dark eyes meet hers and then drop off again with a twitch of a smile just as Hope comes to a stop in front of Jaya.

“Wind inna fields,” Hope repeats the barkeep’s words a wide smile on her face and then holds the longsuffering chicken out for Jaya’s inspection. “Hope wuv Chicken Shit for Bastard,” she states with a nod and all the solemnity a two turn old can muster and then her voice drops to a whispery sadness, “Bastard go ‘way.”

Just then there’s a shout at the entrance of the beast tunnels accompanied by the sound of another rider coming in fast. It’s Delwan, one of Max’s fighters from Landing way and judging by his lathered mount, he’s barely stopped to water and rest the creature along the way. Before the roan gelding has even come to a full halt he’s flinging himself off its back and digging in a jacket pocket makes a beeline for the young crimelord. Startled by the sudden commotion, Hope makes a dive for the nearest available adult, that being Jaya, to hide behind.

Yeah, as much as Jaya tries to hide it, she still somewhat acts like a woman where it counts. Still, Max earns that scowl for his comment to the blush she unsuccessfully hides and turns to the topic at hand to help recompose herself in front of all those stablehands. “No shame in needful theft, shuga,” she answers solemnly, perhaps having done so plenty of times herself. “We all do what we must….” And then Hope is there with her chicken, repeating her words and causing unnerving jumps in her stomach. Her words on the pet, even for the healer that went away, gets long regard from the barkeep. When Hope holds out the chicken for inspection, “Nice name,” she drawls on the chicken with a touch of wryness, “and…that’s your name for the healer that got away, huh? Pretty apt, if I say so myself.” Hope would probably miss the sardonic tilt to her tone there, but it’s there and gone in instants. She reaches out a hand as if to pet the chicken herself, adding to the little girl, “You and Bastard were friends? You want him to come back?” and then, there’s commotion. Her head shoots up to peer beyond Hope, shooting a glance towards Max. The way Delwan comes in, the barkeep is getting to her feet and calmly placing her hand to the side where her concealed knife is. Eyes shoot to where the fighter is digging into his pocket, expecting something quick to pop out and so the barkeep tensing up and looks about to move where Max is – that is, until she finds the little Hope diving behind her and using her as a shield. She doesn’t let off the knife hilt she has her hand around, but she does peer down to where the girl is and involuntarily stays place as if to protect her. At least she’ll be able to grab up the girl and her chicken and move away should things get dicey, really fast.

Of course, there’s a cocky grin that meets the scowl produced though it slips off at mention of needful theft and a faint frown appears, “Aye well, it didn’t work out.” Max doesn’t go on to explain himself though not in front of his daughter or hands for that matter.

Hope doesn’t fully understand all that Jaya says despite the small frown of concentration that creases her brow beneath bangs in trying to do so. Chicken Shit has long since given up trying to evade pettings given the nature of her owner and so the hen does little to avoid the barkeep’s hand. The little girl finally breaks that small margin of silence she’d fallen into, an expectant smile starting to light her face, “Bastard come back?” It’s her father however that lends a long look in Jaya’s direction, he having caught the slight infliction to tone as she’d spoken of the recently departed healer.

A brow goes up and Max sends Jaya a faint shake of head intended to convey that Delwan was friend and not foe and then his attention sets firmly on the ginger-haired wiry young man. Completely out of breath, Delwan bends over, one hand to his knee, the other holding out a message pouch as he pants, “From Yaron.” Without a word the pouch is opened and the message quickly read, Max’s frame stiffening, “Shit. When did he give this to you?” – “Yes-yester-day,” Delwan pants, “Said to ride straight…through,” gulping air into his lungs.

Cocky grin gets some of the scowl to melt, though Jaya’s giving Max that curious regard when he respond with the words he does on drugging the runner up in Tillek. She doesn’t choose to ask further on it since he doesn’t – for now at least. With the chicken held out, the barkeep moves to give it a little pet, her eyes more on the little girl in critical study than the hen. Her question gets a blink, the woman at first note sure what to tell her given the hopeful tone before she shoots a look up to her father – a little helpless. A softer woman would have lied to the child, but the Dicori woman states, “I doubt Bastard is, shuga.” A hand reaches out from the hen to the girl as if to touch her cheek – the motion involuntary before she abruptly pulls back and covers it with a smile.

The shake of head from Max has the barkeep loosening her hold on the hilt of her knife but no less letting go of it. She keeps an eye on Hope while at the same time watching Delwan with interest, listening to the exchange raptly. She recognizes Yaron’s name and she shoots another look Max’s way, and then the message gets her full attention. For now, she remains intently silent.

Max having heard the conversation between Jaya and his daughter sends her a regretful twist of lips when she shoots him that look, one that then laces with approval when she goes for truth rather than fiction as an answer for the little girl.

Hope in turn keeps her gaze steady on Jaya as she gives a little nod, not flinching from the hand that moves toward her cheek. With the commotion that erupts, Chicken Shit gets firmly tucked under one arm while the toddler wraps the other around the barkeep's leg and peeks around the side of the woman, sensing that safety can be found with her.

Grim-faced Max gives a sharp nod to Delwan's answer, "Take a breather, Del. Rawson," calling to one of the few hands that had remained behind, "get hot bandages on his runner's fetlocks and walk him 'til he cools, then rub him down and water him. Lista," this to a crotchety looking old geezer that is amongst those drawn into the aisle of the beast caverns out of curiosity, "Find M'sal. I don't care if you gotta pull him from drills." Each order given in clipped authoritative delivery before he closes the short distance to Jaya and Hope and states low and tight, "He's here." No qualifier given. Simply a hand set to her elbow and a sharp tight-lipped jerk of head sent the way of his quarters in indication that they move there.

Jaya is firmly taken. With Hope clutching to one of her legs, the career renegade thief had to fight down the urge to bolt. She instead remained firmly in place, before finding Max approaching them. She watches the exchanges beforehand, eyes slightly narrowing up until Max drops the two heavy words. He’s here. Jaya didn’t need to know who he was talking about by the look on his face. Her body tenses slightly before giving a tight nods in return, looking down at a clutching Hope before crouching a bit to nod in the direction of Max’s office. “Hey, can I hold Chicken Shit a little?” she asks her, offering her arms for the chicken and knowing full well she’ll probably get pecked by it. She meets Max’s gaze then, the look a serious one before she sweeps a look over those milling about in the stables and waits for their beast manager to proceed her.

Picking up on the sudden tension Hope's eyes grow large with anxiety watching the exchanges going on between the adults, little arm tightening about Jaya's leg. When the dark haired woman crouches and asks to be given her chicken she finally releases her hold, nods and holds it out to her whispering, "Don' squeeze too tight." Chicken Shit that is and likely a reminder she's been given often over the past few days. The avian itself does indeed struggle a little when it's handed over, head twisting about this way and that, but doesn't peck at Jaya just yet.

As soon as the toddler has released her pet into Jaya's care, Max sends the barkeep the edge of a smile for having braved taking on the chicken and then quickly scoops Hope up and heads to his quarters. Door closing just this side of being slammed shut he sets the little girl down and hands her a pouch of grain for her pet, "Chicken Shit needs his lunch, love." Tone as light as he can make it given the circumstances. Next he turns to Jaya, dark eyes troubled and tone clipped with tension, "I want you to take her and head up to Jon. Stay there until I send word that the coast is clear, aye?" There's probably ten better ways he could have couched that but right now Max is in 'emergency' mode more interested in keeping his girls safe than worrying about trampling on toes.

“Trust me, shuga,” Jaya drops to Hope with one of her quick, roguish winks, the chicken now in her care as she gets to her feet. Holding the hen carefully, once Max takes his daughter she trails behind him into his office. It’s only once Hope is set down that she returns the chicken to the girl, grinning and adding, “Pretty unique pet, eh? Little girl like you needs-“ well, she was saying as she was watching how Max was with his daughter – the interaction between the two making it hard to keep the smile from touching full lips until her words cut short at the announcement. She looks from Hope to Max, wide-eyed, looking like she had been hit by a block a wood for a moment. Once Hope has her chicken she slowly straightens to assess the order given before a frown starts. Yeah, the woman’s rebellious so be prepared…. “Jon…?” she echoes that one, as if she couldn’t make the connection. “I mean, what—? You don’t mean?” She looks away for a moment before meeting Max’s gaze with a look of mutiny before adding with a finger being pointed in his direction, “You’re trying to keep me from that bastard. I’ve run long enough and it’s high-time to knock that man down a few more notches.” Bringing herself to her full height, “Suli told me before,” she announces, “ and I think, this time, I can bring him down. Now you want me to run?” Lips purse at that one, expecting and knowing that wasn’t going to let this go – not by the look on his face, anyway. Jaya wouldn’t be Jaya if she didn’t put up a fight, however, but at least she could be a whole lot worse if Hope wasn’t present.

Jaya's words and manner have Hope lifting a proud little smile to the woman once her pet is back in her care, "Chicken Shit, pitty." Hardly, more like scruffy looking but the little one sees past the obvious blemishes to the fowl that is her pet and that she loves. Then she lisps a quiet, "Fank ku," to Jaya for having carried the avian for her. Taking the pouch of grain held out to her and eyeing the adults a little warily, the toddler moves off and settles herself on Max's mattress to feed Chicken Shit, likely to leave grain scattered all over it.

Yeah, he'd expected resistance though in all honesty, he is unaware of the likely awkward situation he's creating for both Jonavan and Jaya by asking of her what he has. A few tension driven, angry retorts spring to his lips in response but are firmly pushed down again with Max exhaling a heavy sigh and setting his hands to Jaya's shoulders. "Jaya, don't fight me on this. I need you to do this for me. Ain't no one I trust more to keep her safe than you and him." And as for Vaputero? The young crimelord's face closes about a hard line, "Ain't no one gonna touch him while he's here. Not you, not me, no one! We're puttin' together a plan for the bastard," not qualifying who the 'we' in that might be. "He's here to see his son, or so word has it, and I ain't gonna be thinkin' straight if the two of you are here," her and Hope. Lips then purse and Max gives a sharp shake of head, "You ain't runnin' you're bein' put on a protection detail." Hoping that wording it as such might go over better.

There’s a lopsided smile for Hope and her calling the chicken ‘pretty’, a brow lifting before she drawls, “Golden, shuga,” to her thanks. She watches the girl go off to feed her pet before Max gets her attention, sighing and running a hand through wild black hair as she starts to pace the office. Any retort gets paused when she finds her shoulders taken in by the crimelord, her eyes boring into his as she listens. Shooting a dark, mutinous look his way, “And where did Jonavan end up, huh? I’m assuming he’s no longer down here in the south.” Arms come to a fold, not seeming to like the destination of the healer along with being out of the Bitran crimelord’s vicinity. And, speaking of Vaputero, “What kind of plan?” she asks then, looking hard at him. “Doesn’t take much plan to slit a throat. Got the perfect knife for it, too. Besides, “ and her chin lifts defiantly, showing that nasty scar on the side of her face in the light, “think I do owe him a return favor.” There’s calculated coldness in her voice on the man, but then her eyes dart towards Hope as he speaks the last on ‘protection detail.’ Eyes linger on his daughter, frowning, thinking. No child should be in the vicinity of that Bitran crimelord, she knows that. Her gaze still on her, “For how long, anyway?” she asks then absently.

Chicken Shit has Hope's undivided attention for the time being considering how she's giggling quietly as tips grain into one of her father's boots that's she's dragged up onto the mattress and watches as the fowl squeezes itself into it to get at its food.

Max meets that mutinous look coming from Jaya without flinching, though his hands do grip a tad tighter into her shoulders before releasing her altogether when she folds her arms. He ignores the query about the healer for she'll find out soon enough where he'd disappeared to and running a hand through his hair lips twist about a cold smile. "Nothin' would give me greater pleasure than to hold that bastard down while you have a go at him, darlin'," it being a scenario he's idly played out in his mind before, "but a quick death is too good for the likes of him. If it were up to me, I'd have him castrated." There's a brief pause, the edge of an idea falling into place and then Max continues with a lift of brow when she asks after the plan to be put together. Silent a moment he then takes an executive decision that the Nabolese and Tillekian crimelords are probably not going to like, "You can bring that perfect knife of yours with you when I meet with Serevan and Rad on the matter." Following Jaya's glance to Hope and sensing her starting to head towards the edge of agreement to getting the heck out of dodge. "Just until he's gone back up north again," tone low and constricted with the effort it's going to take him to deal with the Bitran in a 'civilised' manner while he's on his turf. Now he ventures a step closer, an arm reaching for her in a bid to pull her in closer, regardless of whether his daughter is there or not, "I need you to have my back in this, Jaya." Quiet spoken truth that hints at more that is being left unsaid.

When Max lets her go, Jaya is slower to take up pacing again. “Then we could do it together,” Jaya suggests at letting her get a cut in, a hand going to her concealed knife. It was true though. Death was too quick for Vaputero, and Jaya was grudgingly agreeing by saying nothing. Instead, the frown lingers, but her face clears just a notch when he mentions a meeting with the two crimelords. That certainly gets her interest, but there’s the other matter looming more strongly first. Eyes lingering on Hope as Max speaks, her lips purse to his answer on when they would come back before she finally turns from the girl to regard the beast manager for a long and tense moment. Mouth opens before she’s being pulled close, her hands coming up his chest to grip the front of his shirt as Max says the last to her and puts her mutinous thoughts in turnmoil. As much as she wants to argue, the look being given her along with the way Hope was feeding her chicken – somewhere Jaya has a heart. Granted it was missing long before she arrived to Eastern…. Hearing the truth in his words, “Don’t think your healer would be too happy to see me, maybe,” she notes, seeming use those words as grudging agreement with a look towards his daughter. “Didn’t exactly leave on a proper note. Does he even know?” Beat. “And what of Suli?” she asks of her barmaid. “She’s….not going to like this.” Not that it would be a surprise, really.

A short look of dark amusement greets Jaya's first but no words follow with Max watching the woman closely as she turns his request over. He knows what he's asking of her goes against her every instinct to exact revenge and so it is that quiet understanding is in his eyes when he meets her gaze though his jaw is set in line that speaks to his being determined to see his request carried through. Another glance goes Hope's way, the toddler now trying to extract the chicken which appears to have gotten stuck in his boot, a faint twitch of lips appearing and then he's looking down at Jaya's hands that are curled about the front of his shirt.

A brief frown greets her comment on Jonavan, something about it and her tone setting him to realization that there was more at play than being spoken of. "When you get back, you and me are gonna talk," for now was not the time though there is a soft snort of wry amusement given, "Jon ain't exactly the proper type, darlin'." Max then shakes his head with regards to the healer knowing of the Bitran's arrival on southern soil, his words however are cast toward the Telgari barmaid, "Fuck Suli," terse. Giving Jaya a quick squeeze he releases her and moves to where his carrysack hangs on a peg, "Ain't got much here what's hers," Hope that is, "but Ma's down Landin' way for the day and I ain't gonna wait for her to get back." And he has no access to the Headwoman's private quarters, "Gonna have to make do with what there is." Tone turning businesslike, "When M'sal gets here, go with him and throw some stuff in a bag, aye?" He wanting the barkeep and his daughter out of the Weyr and off the continent as soon as humanly possible. "I'll fill Randi in once you're gone."

Slowly, fingers uncurl from Max’s shirt, and he tells her that they were to talk, Jaya pauses before she inclines her head to it. She snorts on account of Jonavan, “You ain’t lying, shuga,” is all she says on the matter of the healer not being proper, but then, she really couldn’t talk much herself. She does twitch a smirk a little upon hearing that Jonavan doesn’t know that she was coming, seeming to find something of it rather amusing. It slides off somewhat on the next involving her barmaid. “You’re going to leave her here with Vaputero in the Weyr?” she notes, brow lifting. “Woman appears to have a score to settle with the man as well. She has all kinds of ideas. Without me here, she may prove….ahh, troublesome?” Once released from his hold, she looks around as he moves to get Hope’s things before remarking, “Wait…it’s now?” Yeah, the Bitran was assuming they were leaving maybe a day or so later, and so she was blinking on the words involving her getting packed and a dragonrider being present to take them off, the woman momentarily speechless.

Stuffing what few items of Hope's there are into his carrysack, Max turns and sets Jaya with a deep smirk, "Oh, she won't be alone. Shijan's gonna be stayin' to keep an eye on her and your bar both." Either his mind just works that quickly in putting a plan together or he’s already given this exact situation some thought beforehand. Jonavan now being back at the Healer Hall, merely an added bonus with regards to where to send Jaya and Hope. "Get that chicken outta my boot and back in her box, love," this to Hope as the beast manager adds a tiny pair of boots to the carrysack before closing it, "You're takin' her to see Bastard." This of course has the toddler fairly beaming and upending the boot and giving it a hard shake to dislodge the stuck chicken as giggles with glee, "Hope go see, Bastard!"

Max then turns his attention to Jaya as he moves back in her direction, "Aye baby, now." The term of endearment slips out unintentionally. "Ain't waitin' around for him to get here first," the 'here' being the Weyr itself.

“Working hard on getting her upend a knife into your chest, are you?” Jaya drops in her characteristic way, knowing the enmity between Max and Suli as she moves to watch Max pack up Hope’s things. “She won’t take kindly to this. She does hate the lot of you,” that being the men that seems to frequent her bar and her life the most in Eastern. Dark gaze falls on Hope then with her chicken as Max shifts into father mode, watching him interact with her as he tells her she was going on a trip. Lips twitch as she works to fight down the smile that threatens, arms folding before her before she gets her answer on the immediacy of the departure. She catches that term of endearment and perhaps it’s that that stays her hand on arguing the issue further. Sighing her defeat, “Not to sound crass or anything,” she drawls, knowing that the next words will be anyway, “but you’re cutting my balls off, here.” The lopsided grin accompanies it, and then her arms unfold and she steps forward as if about to help with any of the packing. It would give her something to do anyway. “I’ll have to talk to Suli and them,” she states, nodding. “And you tell me every single detail that goes on, Lomaxin,” and she adds a pointed look in his direction. “I want to know everything down to the color of his hair. Wanna know if he takes a piss while he’s here. Everything.” Then she moves to pull him into a brief but heated kiss, getting a hold of and pulling him by the front of his shirt. If she has him, she releases him just as quickly and adds, “You never told me how your meeting went with Serevan.”

“Don’t give a fuck,” Max replies somewhat coldly, “Ain’t done nothin’ to piss the woman off and I’m about done tryin’ to figure out what the fuck her problem is with me,” pausing and then adding, “And why the fuck would my sendin’ you and Hope away from that bastard’s reach and settin’ Shijan to watch her back, piss her off, huh? She’s full of shit,” he ends on a tetchy note.

With another shake of the boot Chicken Shit comes unstuck with a loud squawk of surprise and in a spill of grain that scatters across the bedding on Max’s mattress. Which does go a ways to taking the edge off of his sour mood and making it possible from him to turn a crooked grin over to Jaya for her crass comment, “I’ll give ‘em back when you return,” smirk. “Grab those won’t you?” a small pair of dungarees that are hanging over the back of a chair. Yeah, he’s not the neatest when it comes to domestic chores.

Pulled in against Jaya by his shirt front, Max’s arms go about her, carrysack dangling from a hand behind her, the kiss returned with just as much heat coupled with a touch of tension and regret for having to send her away. “Everything, baby,” that promised with the kiss broken and then there’s amusement as he casts his gaze downward to where Hope is tugging at his trousers as she announces, “S’hole kiss S’uga…Mwah!” before giggling and trying to stuff her chicken back into its crate. Back to Jaya, completely unconcerned by his daughter’s comment, “I’ll tell you all about it later, aye?” though he does add with a smile, “I can see why he’s so well respected amongst the brotherhood. He’s a good man.”

“Because in her mind, I’m her ward,” Jaya is easy to answer on Suli, seeming to regard Max with interest for the tetchy note in his voice. “It’s much like getting a runner stolen from right up under you, hmm? And besides, as much as I tried the get the two of you to get along,” she adds with a touch of wryness, “it seems you are destined to think the other false. I believe she’s used the same words in regards to you, more or less.” It seems to amuse her, too, though there’s concern as well. Leaning against the wall, her eyes flicking over to Hope, “I pay her to watch my back,” she adds more evenly with a nod. “She’s clearly not meant to help run a bar, though I can admit, she’s gotten better. She’s a guard, shuga, and no guard likes their oversized toes getting trampled on over and over again.” Shrugging then, “But at the same time, there’s more to her than that,” she adds. “Still figuring it out, turns later. Whatever else she is, she’s good at keeping a lid on it. Until I know, I’d rather like to keep her on friendly waters than enemy territory.”

With the hen squawking out of the boot, the crooked grin appears unbidden to Jaya’s lips as she watches them. “Make sure they don’t shrivel,” is her return comment to the crass one, moving away from the wall and unfolding arms to sling up that small pair of dungarees over one shoulder and looks around for anything else that could be on the floor or in the way. Once close to him, she passes the pair over, and once the heated kiss is broken with that promise, “You better,” she returns with a poke to his side. She looks down then to find Hope at his side, her words getting an amusingly raised brow as she echoes, “You’re a ‘Shole?” The girl is too cute, and the thief is trying her best not to even think so. She still looks at the girl like one of those canine pups gone loose, however, just not sure what to do in her presence as opposed to someone over the age of 13. “Serevan’s good men,” she agrees on the Nabol crimelord, the fond smile present. “I’ve only seen the man far away, but I would have liked to have met him. He’s known as the ‘master of secrets’ among the men I worked with in Bitra. It’s a founded claim, too. He must have a lot of marks, to employ to many spies.”

“Aye?” Max pauses and sends Jaya a long look for her explanation, “Then maybe she should be workin’ with me instead of against me all the time,” is added, he sounding still somewhat touchy about the matter. With her next words delivered however, the beast manager goes quiet, his turn to throw a mutinous look out but it’s soon followed with a heavy sigh of begrudging acquiescence. “Alright fine, I’ll…try to make more of an effort, aye?” Uh oh?

He can’t help it; her return quip has him chuckling, “I’ll put ‘em in a pretty pink bag and carry ‘em around with me ‘til you get back.” Twit. All else that is left lying about of Hope’s is a pair of mismatched socks and a sunhat. None of which, including the contents of that carrysack, are likely to be of any help in a Northern winter. Ahem. The poke to his side earns Jaya a wink followed by a soft snort on the name his daughter calls him by. “Arsehole,” he explains wryly and turns just in time to catch the two turn old rifling through his desk drawers. “Oy, fingers to yourself, madam.” – “No, take Bastard juice!” Juice? Confusion reigns supreme on Max’s face, he having no idea that the little girl is referring to the bottle she’s seen come and go from his desk with the healer having walked out with one the last time she’d seen him.

Leaving Hope to it for a moment he leans his butt against his desk, a small smile in place, “Soon you’ll get to see him up close and personal and even shake his hand. Which reminds me, he mentioned knowin’ somethin’ ‘bout your aunt in the mines? Says Ralik will bring more information next time he’s down.” A loud knock at his door ends whatever else Max might have had to add.

Snorting, “Suli hardly ‘works’ with anyone,” Jaya counters, wry amusement settling more on her face. “She nearly flipped the bar over with Indira putting Shijan on me – and I think she likes him just a tad bit more than you. However,” and there’s a light twitch of a shrug, “you and I both don’t know what the truth is with her, so yes, an effort would help.” Yeah, trying telling that to Suli. Jaya already knows what the big Telgari woman would say to getting along with Max. His return quip on her metaphorical balls has her snorting loudly and shaking her head, moving to collect up what else she can see of Hope’s clothing. Noting that the type is fit for the heat, “I’m assuming we’re heading north, and therefore,” she adds, lifting up the sunhat, “I have a feeling your girl’s going to be a bit cold. I hope that healer of yours carried furs fit for a child,” she notes, shooting a look his way. She catches Hope going through his things with a smirk that falls free, her name for her father getting a “Ha! She calls’em like she sees’em. Girl’s going to have a bright future. Might make a good thief, too,” she adds, nodding to the little girl rifling through Max’s drawers. Bastard juice? Jaya looks just as dubious, but his words on her meeting Serevan gets much interest from her as she straightens up. A frown starts when she hears about him knowing an aunt, “….Naddie? But…” she seems to guess with the unfamiliar name, trying to mentally go through the relative names in her head when the loud knock comes.

"And that ain't the least bit strange to you?" Max asks on Suli's reaction to Jaya having a bodyguard appointed to watch over her. But he's agreed to make an effort so he leaves it at that. "Uhhh…" that his oh so eloquent response when Jaya points out that Hope's clothing was likely to be hopelessly inadequate. "Shit," a hand lifting to rub at the back of his neck and then irritation rises once again for the situation, "Didn't expect the bastard to get here so quick." A helpless look is sent in Hope's direction and then goes back to Jaya and quickly he's crossing the floor and bundling up the quilt on his bed and holding it out to Jaya along with a beanie grabbed from off of the top of his wardrobe that is likely to be hopelessly too big for a two turn old. Yeesh.

Dark eyes narrow at that smirk coming from Jaya and then he grumbles, “One. One time she hears someone callin' me an arsehole and that's it, I get stuck with it." - "Got'it!" Hope announces triumphantly as she holds up a blue bottle. One veeeery much like those in the crate Max had delivered to Jaya's bar. Odd that. Max's brows go up and then figuring it out he grins, "Bastard juice. Aye, take it for him but you give it to Jaya to carry." For who knows if the child might not be bright enough to get the cork out and try drinking the stuff herself.

There's a regretful shake of head next, "He didn't give no names, just said he had information 'bout an aunt of yours what's in the mi…" words cut off and his head jerks toward the door. Pushing away from the desk, hand dropping to where his knife is, Max opens it with a sudden yank and finds framed in the doorway the big brownrider he'd sent for. "Need you to make a run for me, mate," turning to indicate Jaya and Hope, "the ladies need a lift and I need your silence." Olive green eyes touch to first the dark haired woman and then the little girl standing clutching a bottle of booze that has his brows shooting up high. "Uh, where to?" - "Fort. Healer hall," Max replies, "You don't let 'em outta your sight until you find Journeyman Jonavan. Yank him outta class or off the crapper if you have to," urgency set into his tone.

“Strange? About as strange as having Shijan everywhere,” Jaya notes wryly, shaking her head. “Perhaps she’s about as territorial as you.” Then Max is drawing her attention towards the inadequate clothes Hope has, lips twitching at his response before she replies, “Vaputero waits for no one, shuga.” Beat. “I can sew,” she adds, coming to a decision. “Get me some good cloth and I’ll make something to fit her. Might not look weaver quality, but, it’s something right?” She outright laughs at his grumbling response on Hope’s name for him, dropping, “As opposed to ‘da’? Seems like a pretty unique name. I could have called my own father that.” Eyes fall on the familiar blue bottle with curious light coming to her eyes – yes, she recognizes it – but she holds out her hand for the bottle from Hope and tells her, “Pass it on over, little lady. You don’ want none of that stuff.”

She wasn’t surprised no names were given on account of her aunt in the mines, but Jaya didn’t need much confirmation. Whatever she was going to say gets cut off with the knock at the door, it opening to reveal the dragonrider that was to take them away. She looks him over as much as he does her, and Max’s instructions to him get a slight frown from the Bitran. Somehow, she had known where they were going – a place Jonavan never confirmed or told her before he vanished – and so her jaw briefly tightens and she looks about to make sure that Hope was securely packed up at least.

A brow lifts and a smirk appears, “Suli’s got the hots for you?” For why else would the woman be territorial, right? Makes sense to him. On the matter of Hope’s clothing Max continues to look perplexed even when Jaya states that she can sew, for where is he to find cloth at such short notice? Her offer does however draw a warm smile into place, “Aye, it’s somethin’ alright.” Those words seeming to carry more meaning to them. “Use this,” the quilt, “and…” crossing to his wardrobe again his own worn flight jacket (one of his father’s) is taken out along with a heavy pouch, “use that to get her and yourself whatever else you need up there.” The latter is tossed to Jaya and contains a fair amount of marks. There’s a heartbeat of a moment where Jaya teases on the fact that Hope doesn’t call him ‘Pappa’ where Max’s eyes shadow but it’s so quick and hidden by a wry smile that it might go unnoticed.

Hope eyes the bottle in her hand, eyes Jaya and then eyes the bottle again as a slightly rebellious look starts to form. However, after a few moments of a stare down, she reluctantly hands it over. “Don’ dwop it,” she instructs and then ducks in behind the barkeep’s legs once again when M’las appears.

M’las nods to the instructions given despite how dubious he might currently be looking. “I’ll finish up gettin’ her ready,” Max states having noticed Jaya’s glance to Hope, “You go with M’las and get your things together and I’ll meet you out in the bowl, aye?”

Jaya keeps herself from breaking into raucous laughter, though she does try and connect a half-hearted swipe to Max’s shoulder. “Must everything be connected to sex with you men?” she quips in mock dryness, and then moves on to the matter of clothing for Hope with, “And I think I can get some thick cloth. Beddie left some things behind the last time she was here, likely to use as excuse enough to come back. I can look at tearing up some of her clothes.” Surely Beddie would thank her for it. She nods to the quilt and the flight jacket, along with the heavy pouch, nodding to him. “This oughta do, too,” she agrees, weighing the pouch expertly. It’s while doing so, her eyes watching Max that she catches that quick glimmer of a shadow on her teasing on Hope name for him, and so, not seeming to address it directly, “All names change with time.” There’s that brief warm smile and then Hope has her attention, the woman holding out her hand for the bottle that Hope hesitates to hand over before she does. To her instructions, “Never waste good liquor, shuga,” is her return quip, the Bitran carefully adding it to the rest of the things for transport. She does find the little girl hiding behind her legs once more with the dragonrider appearing, sending a slight frown down that’s brief before Max’s voice gets her attention. Once Max gives her leave with the dragonrider, she frees her hands and sends Hope a quick lopsided smile before moving away, nodding to her father over her shoulder. “Catch you both then,” is her final words before she’s moving out of the room with M’las in tow.

Jaya's laughter and return has Max opening his mouth and then closing it again before shooting her a narrowed look, male ego dented. A nod is given for her comment on having fabric that can be used though he holds onto the flight jacket for the time being, "Thanks darlin'." That warm smile that follows her words on names garners the edge of one from him in return but nothing is said.

Hunkering down in front of Jaya and coaxing his daughter out, Max sets to draping his over-sized jacket about her little frame. Sleeves are rolled and clasps done up but it still hangs almost to the petite toddler's feet. The beanie is added next and even though it too is rolled, Hope's head is all but swallowed by it, the ensemble lending the child the look of a holdless waif. She of course finds it highly amusing and flaps her arms about giggling and then stops, eyes fixing to Jaya as she leaves with M'las. "S'uga go 'way?" this to her father after the two have departed, "No love, she's takin' you to go see Bastard. C'mon," hefting the bag onto his shoulder, "You take this," handing over her doll that had been lying on the edge of his desk, "And I'll take Chicken Shit." With that the two will make their way to the appointed meeting place, Hope chattering ten to the dozen and Max giving monosyllabic reply.

The narrow look gets even more laughter from the barkeep, her husky tone a rough alto, nothing more, but the smile still lingers on her face. Once Hope is coaxed out free and she leaves, she leads M’las to her bar where Suli, Hayli and Shijan await her. She details a short version of her quick departure, not hiding the fact of Vaputero, but she also insist that she keeps her whereabouts a secret only between them. She could tell Suli was no less happy though, and she didn’t have the time to take her aside besides so she had to let it be and grab for her own carrysack. “I’ll be back when he leaves,” is her parting words to them all, adding bar-related instructions on her wake and leaving in short time for the bowl.

Once at the bowl, weyrfolk milling about them as she slings the carrysack over one shoulder, “So where’s your beast?” she asks M’las her eyes taking in the few dragons she can see to wonder which of them if his. Eyes will light on father and daughter if they’re there as well, and she will approach them lifting up the shoulder to indicate that she was well and ready to leave.

Shijan as was to be expected had said little, hawkish gaze merely fixed intently to Jaya as she'd given explanation and instruction. And though every instinct within the bodyguard shrieked at him not to let her go alone, he remained where he was, a tight expression in place.

Once out in the bowl M'las leads Jaya over to the furthest point where a dusty coloured brown almost blends into the landscape. The beast manager is waiting off to one side keeping watchful gaze on his daughter who appears to be crooning unintelligible words to the big beast, the child's meagre luggage set nearby. Max turns as the two arrive, a quick look going over Jaya as he approaches, expression shadowed now that the time of departure has come, "Got everythin'?"

The only meaningful look passed on with any of those in the bar was to Shijan, and it was a lingering look that hopefully told him everything about the urgency of the departure. Jaya didn’t have time to take him aside either, and she was not about to forbid the man to keep away from Vaputero while she was gone like she does Suli. Shijan would likely see the man for himself, and it wouldn’t do to forbid him otherwise. Suli, however, was another matter, and so the muttered words to her as she left showed a cold demeanor from the Telgar barmaid that probably told at least Shijan much of what the brief exchange was. Jaya oughta know that Suli will far from obey that. Once out to the bowl, Jaya falls intently silent as she lets the dragonrider lead her to where both Max and his daughter are around a brown dragon. Keeping a neutral glance about, her eyes fall on the two turn old playing with the beast before she steps up to Max and slaps her carrysack with one hand. “They know,” she gives, indicating Shijan and Suli especially. It also alludes to the bodyguard probably wanting to be around when the big Bitran shows up, and one never knows what the Telgar barmaid might pull out of her sleeve. “Got what I need. Bar should weather without me for awhile.” Especially with Suli and Hayli running things with their no-nonsense demeanor.

M'las is the one that holds out a hand for Jaya's carrysack and if she gives it over into his care, he'll set about getting the luggage securely strapped into place with Hope in her oversized jacket and beanie asking all kinds of questions and giving strict instruction about not 'dwoppin'' Chicken Shit's crate or Bastard's 'juice'.

As for Max, he gives a grim nod to what Jaya relays and then heedless of what the brownrider might think or say or those few passing by for that matter, he reaches for her in a bid to pull her into his embrace. Quiet a long few moments, dark eyes search hers and then hands lift to cup either side of her face, lips seeking hers out for a long and telling kiss. Breaking it reluctantly as M'las clears his throat, "Thank you," spoken quietly for not fighting him on the matter and for taking Hope to safety.

Jaya tosses her carrysack over the M’las without hesitation, grinning at the instructions given the man from the little Hope. Her hands are free and she moves to the side where Max is, where he gathers her up in an embrace in front of all to see and searches her face. Her own hands come up to encircle his neck as she stares back, watching him with those characteristic eyes of hers, slowly letting her hands drop from Max’s neck on down to grip his back. She leans into that hand to her cheek, heated lips seeking his own in a telling kiss before she hears a throat clear. Breaking it, “We’ll be fine, shuga,” she drawls, reaching to press fingers to his lips briefly. “She’s pretty safe with me.” On the matter of Vaputero then, “And I will get my time,” she adds pointedly. “Man oughta see me one more time before his life’s blood fall.” Expected words from the barkeep as she finally breaks away, letting her touch linger down to his hand before it drops completely and she nods to M’las to mount them up.

"Aye," Max replies in a gruff tone and nods, "You'll be okay," as if more to reassure himself than Jaya. Her fingers trail down his arm and linger at his hand, his own closing briefly about them before letting them go. "You'll get your chance, Jaya," grim determination on being able to give her the chance to face the man that had cut her in more ways than one. And then he's moving over to where Hope is and hunkering down in front of her, "You be a good girl for Jaya and Bastard, aye? And don't forget to feed Chicken Shit. Pappa'll see you soon." The familial term for their connection used for the first time with the little girl.

It's only then that Hope realizes that Max isn't going with her and Jaya and dark eyes well with liquid, "S'hole not comin' wif?" - "No love, I need to stay here. Now c'mon M'las is waitin'." Tears start to slide a slow and silvery path down over rosy cheeks as Hope nods and it's all he can do to hold onto his resolve to send his daughter away. Scooping her up into a fierce hug, Max buries his face in against the little girl, inhaling the sweet baby scent and then hands her over to Jaya. "Take her," voice rough with emotion as he steps back, jaw tight.

More to reassure him about them, “Don’t let Vaput get to you,” Jaya tells Max, trying to lessen the pain of sending his daughter, though good that would do. She didn’t like being sent away just as much, preferring to being in the thick of things but what’s done is done. She nods firmly to getting her chance, eyes a blaze with that determination before she steps aside and lets him have his moment with his daughter. She settles beside M’las as she watches the exchange, looking away to make sure that their things were duly secured to the brown dragon when she finds Hope’s face welling up with tears when she realizes her father wasn’t going with her. She could hear the pain in his voice as she turns abruptly in time for her take up Hope into her arms from him, her dark gaze regarding him in earnest as she watches a side of him she hasn’t ever seen in regards to his daughter. Her gaze lingers on Max a moment longer, unreadable at best before nodding, turning to M’las then for them both to mount up the dragon. Over her shoulder, “We’ll be back before you can take a piss, shuga,” is her ‘gentle’ farewell, the lopsided smile coming to full lips before she starts to mount up.

If only he had his hat to hide beneath, but he doesn't. Instead swallowing hard, Max meets Jaya's gaze and then forces one corner of his mouth up into a smile for her unique words of farewell. Not trusting himself to speak he only nods in return. Hope in the meantime has nuzzled her face in against Jaya's neck if possible, thumb stuck into her mouth and little shoulders heaving in quiet sobs around which she whisper-stutters, "Bye S'hole." And then rather than prolong the distress any further, under command from his rider, the brown leaps to the skies, wings unfurling and cupping the southern air and then blinking Between.

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