Taking A Gamble


Max.jpg Jaya.jpg

Date: 2011.05.21
Location: EW - Jaya's Bar
Synopsis: Max finally gets to delivering the crate of booze from Ista and is forced to face the unfinished business between himself and Jaya
Rating: PG18 - Language
Logger: Max

The evening's late. The last patron had left the bar over an hour ago along with the help, leaving Jaya to an empty bar. After having a busy night that reaped lots of reward, the barkeep spent the time working counting up profits and updating inventory lists before she passed a kiss to Shijan as he retired for the night and headed herself off to the baths for a much-needed soak. The soak must have taken longer than normal for the bar was laid bare and empty of presence save for the single stack of hides on the counter that contained her inventory lists and profit sheets.

It’s a good few sevens since he returned from Ista with Max having used one excuse or another to delay delivering the crate of Istan Wave to the bar. However, each night the crate stood in his quarters, so another night of restless sleep ensued, broken by dreams that plagued and tormented until he could no longer stand it.

Having waited until the bar had cleared out and for a fair time thereafter to ensure he’d be able to slip in and out undetected, his dark gaze sweeps the silent interior of the area as he crosses the threshold and crosses to the bar counter. Setting the crate down, a pencil and sheet of paper are taken out and then set aside when the stack of hides lying off to one side catch his attention. With a glance to the door that leads to Jaya’s private quarters, he draws them over and starts scanning through them.

Enter Jaya, damp with some of the wispy steam still rolling off of a woven overcoat-covered body, carrying her bathing tools. Dark hair clings to her face as she walks in, throwing a yawn to the air before the unexpected sight before her stops her in her tracks. Max, in her bar, at this time of night? She blinks once and then forces her legs to move forward, watching him intently as she nears, moving her head to the side to see what it was that captured him so. Gaze briefly sweeps over the crate left on the counter, than across his back before her silent query is answered. “You’re either interested in my lists to case my place or, to replenish your own stock,” she breaks the silence, probably scaring the beast manager out of his skin as she speaks and moves up to peer into the crate to his side. Dark eyes on him, “Awfully late to be about, hmm?” she adds with that slight crooked smile before she turns and looks into the crate again and asks, “What’s this?” As to those lists, Max would find them to be neat and legible – and precise – when it comes to figures. Even the inventory lists are kept up to date down to the very last bottle used that night.

It must be that Max is either that engrossed in what he’s reading through or simply off his game this evening that he’s unaware of the presence of another until Jaya speaks. In one movement he spins, his blade unsheathed and held at the ready. It takes a second or two longer for his eyes to focus and his brain to switch from survival instinct to rational thought and then the curse spills, “Faranth’s fuckin’ arse, woman! What you doin’ sneakin’ up on a man like that!?” Never mind what he was doing going through her hidework.

Somewhat amused by the Jaya’s curiosity, Max conveniently ignores the question about the hour and instead sheathing his knife moves to the crate and removes one of the blue bottles. “Gift from Ista,” he states. “Not really a gift more like…an opportunity of trade?”

When Max spins with knife in his hand, Jaya takes on step back with one raised brow. “Jumpy much?” she drops with a touch dryness, eyes flicking over the knife held until he swears and sheathes the knife. Returning to the crate then with a lift of her chin, “What am I doing here, sneaking up on you? One could say the same, shuga,” and she throws him a long, pointed look before she dips a look down to what sheet he was reading. When Max pulls up the blue bottles in the crate, she doesn’t speak until he’s done – her interest flaring. “Ista?” she echoes in curiosity, moving closer. “Who’s gifting it? Or rather, trading it?” Eyes seek his out, finally in a position to regard his expression closely as she asks.

All Jaya gets for the jumpy query is a briefly withering look and then Max utters a low snort, “You weren’t here so I wasn’t sneakin’.” Because him thinking she was asleep in her quarters isn’t sneaking about right? Mmhm. Catching her drop of eyes to the sheet he’d been reading a faintly sheepish crook of lips occurs and then he adds compliment to soothe any ruffling of feathers over his nosiness. “You keep good records. Business seems to be doin’ well?” Delaying answering her last? Maybe. Nonchalantly spoken as he takes to leaning a hip against the bar counter; “Harvis. He’s lookin’ to get this Istan Wave,” naming the booze, “out on the market. He’s offerin’ a good deal,” which he then goes onto explain ending with a wry, “So if you could keep your customers from hittin’ each other over the head with the empties, it would be appreciated.”

"But it's my bar," Jaya counters easily, leaning up against the counter with some waterdrops from her bathing marring it. "So I suppose, if you're not in your office, I can come hang and go through your things whenever I want." Beat. "Since you weren't there," she adds wryly. Added words on business gets an equally wry, "Business is well. You know that. If it wasn't, my ass would have been gone from here." She knows she's giving him a hard time, but it's not stopping her from taunting him just a bit as she drops, "But I'm sure, you're not here to talk about my bar. Harvis? The crimelord, Harvis?" She blinks at that one, the slight frown on her face as she drops a dubious look on the blue bottles. "What, they're poisoned or something?" She picks up one of the bottles then, looking with every intention of uncorking it and seeing for herself. Stealing an accusatory look Max's way, "If you've fraternizing with your northern counterparts, why am I hearing about this now? And what deal is he talking? I wasn't consulted in this!" Yeah, she's being a brat, and a pain in the ass. On purpose.

Though he’s trying very hard not to be, there’s no denying the fact that he’s acutely aware of the fact Jaya’s just come from the bathing caverns. Damp Jaya…smelling reeeal good, Jaya…don’t look, don’t…he looked. Dark eyes trap to her neck and follow the path of a droplet of water as it snakes downwards until it hits the barrier of the woven coat. And then his attention darts upward again. What was the question again? Ah right. Clearing his throat, “May as well, Randi seems to think its open season on my office.” Not that he’s that wet behind the ears enough to keep anything of any real importance in his quarters, but still.

Initially, Max is merely amused even going so far as to give a roll of dark eyes, “It ain’t poisoned. Jays, paranoid much?” And he’ll reach to take the bottle from her, uncork it and throw a good healthy swallow down his throat. Wiping his mouth with his sleeve; “Happy?” Its Jaya’s last however that starts to melt his mood a little and his him narrowing a look onto her. “Since when did I need your permission to head up north, huh?” Temper starting to fray a little at the edges even although he knows he’s being baited, Max’s jaw works, “You’re bein’ consulted now. You don’t want it, I’ll take it to Messon down Landing way. And what the fuck’s your problem anyhow? You’re always on the lookout for new stock.” There he’ll step right into her personal space, dipping his head down a little as if he might kiss her again except that he states low, “Don’t bust my balls, Jaya. I ain’t out to get you or nothin’. If you don’t know that by now then…” he shakes his head and reaches passed her for the crate.

Jaya’s watching Max long enough to know where those eyes go. Yeah, damp Jaya. Smelling reeal good Jaya raises a brow to him that could both be taken as suggestive or challenging. Even moreso when he clears his throat. “Randi? She’s been around?” she asks, finding that piece interesting. “Huh. I guess I miss much in this little piece of darkness.” Beat. “I’ll be sure to wait for you to leave and then drop on by then,” she adds in enough way that she just may case and thieve his place. Then she finds the bottle taken from her, watching the way that liquid falls down that throat. That look is lingering a little too long, even, and now it her turn to clear her throat and look away. She then takes the bottle back and knocks back some of the drink before him in challenge, the taste a bit of spice and a bit tropical. She smacks her lips as she looks at the blue bottle once again, nodding once. “Not bad,” she actually admits, relenting. “Okay, so it’s not poisonous. And.” Dark eyes light on Max when she can feel his temper flaring. “And. I thought we were in this whole ‘business’ thing together, boss? I didn’t ask for permission. Maybe a heads-up at least….or has those parameters of our little contract changed?” Brows lift in challenge again. Turning her body to face him, to give him pointed look, “You’re not in this alone anymore, Max,” she tells him, saying each word heavily. “You can’t keep me in the dark. I refuse to be in the dark. Do it again and you’ll find this bar the next time you visit with one missing owner.” She pauses long to make sure the sentiment is heard and serious.” Straightening now, she now permits a little smile when she can see that he’s angry, that he moves into her personal space. Instead of giving the heated response to his last, she places a hand over his own as he goes to take the crate and states, “I fucking love you, Lomaxin. I’m a little crazy. Take me or leave me.” Makes sense to her. “Leave the fucking crate. You know I take in new stock. I bust your chops because I can. Now are you going to kiss me and run like before, or actually stay and face me for once?” Blatant and brazen, Jaya folds her arms across her chest and just stares the crimelord of the south down for his answer.

That lifted brow is caught and interpreted and a smirk sent back in return. Busted! A light frown forms next and Max nods, “Aye, she’s back. Had some…Weyr business to take care of,” he decides on saying with regards to the goldrider’s absence. Amusement once again trickles in. “Careful darlin’, you know what I do to thieves that get caught in my beast caverns.” He ties them up and keeps them locked in the tack room and the man blanks for a moment, clearly giving that some thought, the kind of thought that he shouldn’t be giving it.

If he’s aware that she’s watching him drink from that bottle, Max doesn’t let on, though he doesn’t miss the clearing of throat, “Thirsty?” Smirk. But then she’s bringing up his trip to Ista and for some reason, he’s somewhat less amused. “I told you I was goin’,” the first time and he’s hoping she doesn’t make a connection to the fact that he’d gone back up there. Lips purse and his brows draw together as she rightfully gives him a mild bollocksing for not having kept her apprised, it’s what Jaya says of leaving if he does it again that draws the low growl, “That ain’t even near funny.”

The hand placing over his as he reaches for the crate, coupled with those words has Max going dead still and then turning his head away from her, he tries to school the taint of high frustration from his expression. It does no good though for after a moment of silence, his attention swings back to Jaya, eyes blazing. “What the fuck you want me to do, huh?” and now he gets physical moving swiftly to pin her back against the bar, his arms planting to either side of the damp, dark-haired woman in a bid to trap her there, dark eyes flowing openly over her. The crate forgotten. “For all I know that Igenite bastard,” knowing that much about Shijan, “is around the corner just waitin’ for me to make a move so that he can put his knife to my throat. Is that what you want? Sharditall, Jaya,” a hand slams down on the counter next to her. “This ain’t a game. I ain’t about to step on another man’s turf whether he’s in the know or not.” Which likely goes a ways to suggesting that he does indeed still hold something for her. But there he remains, not moving, dark eyes boring into the woman that every part of him is screaming at him to just take.

“Weyr business…” Jaya’s heard only glimmers, it seems, filtering down from the dragonriding patrons that frequent her bar, but nothing more. Max’s response on her getting caught in his offices getting a blithe, “Oh please! As if I would let you catch me again! I was off my game that last time. Not going to happen again.” Uh-huh. She catches that question with the smirk, however, and she gives him a withering look in response. It’s the next she responds to, head tilting slightly to the side as she shift those hips to lean against the counter along with a challenging, “Oh, it’s not?” Leaning close, “And what would you do should I leave, shuga? Think you’d catch me where Vaputero has failed for so many turns?” But then, that ‘alpha’ female gets turned over with Max’s eyes blazing, as he has her and moves to trap her against the bar wall, her dark eyes on him as he flows his all over her. Her own hands come up to grip into his shirt, not pushing him away or drawing him forward – but, just being there. With him being so close, his heated words brushing her face, not saying nothing to him as she lets him rage. At the end, her own face of stone as her chin lifts to him, “If you think I’m playing you, then leave,” she says simply, watching him. “If you’re so ‘honorable’ as to not step on an Igenite bastard’s turf, whatever you may think that is? Then get the fuck off me and run before you think he’ll shank you, shuga!” Well, she warned him that she was a little unhinged. Still she doesn’t push him away, watching him. Adding in a low, saner voice, “You won’t say it, will you?” she realizes, eyes narrowing. “That you don’t want me. That you don’t love me.”

Max will likely fill Jaya in on the matter of the Weyr business Randi had had but now doesn’t seem to be the time to do so. Smirking, “I caught you once.” In other words, he’ll catch her again. The taunt on what he’d do if she left, that gets a moment of silence and then, “I ain’t like the others, Jaya,” his northern counterparts, “You wanna leave, leave. But don’t do it because you’re pissed at me. That’s one fuck stupid reason to die.” There he references the fact that she’d be stepping out of his protection and right back onto being on the run from her former boss.

Once he’s got up her against the bar counter, dark eyes that initially meet similar hued, drop briefly to where Jaya has a hold of his shirt and then slowly track back upwards again. And while his expression is hardened against her words, his eyes are telling an entirely different story. Slowly a cunning, almost cruel smile draws into place. “Don’t you know darlin’,” the words breathed out low as his mouth moves to just a hairbreadth’s away from actually making contact with the soft skin of her neck beneath her ear, “there’s no honour amongst thieves.”

At her last though a small chink appears in Max’s armour, his defences starting to waiver and his head drops unable to deny the truth of her words. He stays like that for long moments, hands planted to either side of Jaya, head bowed, not saying anything. Eventually his head lifts back up, the hard mask gone, the man that has already lost so much and stands to lose more, revealed. “Jaya…I can’t…do this again,” not when he’s still bleeding in places after things went belly up with Ahnika, “I don’t… I don’t even know what I want anymore.” Truth coming low spoken and then he lifts a hand away from the counter, a hand moving to resettle a stray strand of her damp hair. Small and laced through with a strange melancholy, a smile appears as fingers move to tip her chin upward, a soft and gentle kiss placed to her lips unless she jerks away. Breaking it, Max leans away again, “You deserve better, baby.” The term of endearment slips out without his notice. “He’s better,” Shijan, “I ain’t what you need. Be happy with him. For me, aye?” And unless she stops him with the hold she has on his shirt, the southern crimelord, with a last brush of knuckles down the side of her face will step away.

“You caught me once,” Jaya repeats, placing a strong emphasis on the last word. Max’s next gets silence though, the woman regarding him as he speaks mumbling low, “Ain’t dying.” Beat. Yeah, as if she was going to leave. When his lips comes close, her gaze drops there, her breath quickening before meeting his eyes for his words on honor. She remains that way, watching go from cavalier to pleading with her, the Bitran frowning on his later words on not knowing what he wants – who he wants. She leans into that touch to her chin, that kiss given as her hands on him tightens as she breaks her silence and states, “And if you are who I deserve? Who I’m meant to be with?” Hands loosen with one reaching up to touch his lips, “Shame on you,” she says low, meeting his gaze. “For telling me who I need. For telling me who I should be happy with. It doesn’t work that way, Max.” Fingers lift to the side of his face, the barkeep sweeping her eyes over his skin there, “He…if it’s not him, then how is it fair for him to be with me, when I may be meant for another? It’s not about who’s better.” She feels those knuckles and doesn’t yet release her hold on him – only to the last minute she does.

“How Jaya, how am I what you deserve, huh?” Exasperation slips into Max’s tone. “You think you know what I am, what I’m about…” her fingers touching to his lips have him faltering though and the crimelord frowns. “And what about, Hope? You ready to be a mother?” That his next line of defence that he’ll try calling on. “I’m a package deal now, babe. There ain’t no gettin’ outta that one.” With Jaya still keeping a hold on his shirt, he doesn’t jerk free but instead simply stands there, hands at his sides…the picture of helplessness. Coming quietly, “I don’t…know how any of this goes, Jaya. I’m tired of fuckin’ up.” Weariness set across his tone. “I just want to get somethin’ right for a change.”

“As if you know what I’m about? Are you that self-absorbed?” Jaya drops, a brow lifting at Max for what he’s doing. She can see through the excuses. The next one on his daughter gets a wry “You really think waving your daughter in front of me is going to be the dealbreaker?” Beat. “If it’s a ready-made mother for your daughter you’re looking to love, I can refer you to any number of young nursery nannies here at the Weyr. Some of them might take your fancy, too.” Releasing her hold on him for the last, she sets a long look onto the man as she considers his words. There’s a low exhalation of breath, a hand running through her damp hair. Quiet, “None of us do,” she says, shaking her head and showing her own frustration. “Fuck, look at me, Max. I ain’t perfect either, like you seem to think I am.” Arm folding across her chest, “My ma, before she died….I remembered her telling me and Beddie that….if something was worth the risk, you took it no matter what,” she admits, the woman rarely speaking on her mother and alluding to how her own mind works. “It’s why she stuck it with my da, and you know what he’s like. Despite what I think of him, to her, he was worth the risk.” There’s a mechanical shrug, “I’m…as confused as you are, shuga, but…I ain’t the one giving up here.” Meeting Max’s gaze, “If it’s time you want, say so,” she says evenly, referring to time away to think and figure things out. “And if you want me to just shut up about all this and let it go, I will, but I will not let you or any other man choose my love for me. I love who I want, Max. Fuck what I deserve!” And she’ll turn from him then and go to the counter if not stopped, returning to her inventory lists as if reaching for a comforting blanket.

Max’s jaw tightens in response to her remark on him being self-absorbed. However what she says next of his daughter and of the comment he’d made has him lifting his hands to remove hers from his shirt, except she beats him to it. The sting of her words causes him to growl out a low, “Go fuck yourself.” Yeah, they hurt and hit too close to home. And then he slips into a brooding silence right up until the point she mentions taking risks. “I took the fuckin’ risk,” with Ahnika, “and got my ass handed to me for doin’ so! So forgive me if I’m lookin’ to be coverin’ it these days,” an extreme sense of rejection fuelling anger, a cloak much easier to wear than that of vulnerability. A frustrated sound spills out and then he hits her with his next, eyes burning with challenge, “How hard are you gonna fight for me, huh? Before it gets too hard and you walk away and go back to him?” Yeah, anger’s stripping away barriers and he’s likely saying more than he ever meant to, voicing fears and exposing himself in the process. He says nothing on wanting or needing more time, nothing to wanting her to shut up and let it go either, merely glowering after her retreating back as Jaya goes back to inventory lists. Rooted to the spot for a moment or two, the young crimelord closes the distance and comes up behind her to state in a low and tight tone, “Just remember one thing, darlin’. You have someone to go back to. You think about that before you accuse me of givin’ up.” And then he reaches passed her for the sheet of paper and pencil he’d left on the counter earlier.

It may have hit too close to home, her words, but Jaya's blink of shock registers that she didn't realize what it is that she did. The shock of it silences her as Max continues on taking risks, knowing who he was talking about, eyes narrowing when he puts that challenge out there for her. There he is before her, him voicing his fears, and the Bitran, for the moment, is speechless. She turns from him then, looking to length of the bar - her bar - her jaw tight in that tense silence. Hands moving those sheets of hides back together before her, "I fought for you and lost to her, remember?" she says low, perhaps too low to hear. Sighing, "I think you know how hard I would fight for you, Max." Looking over her shoulder at him, "You and I are just alike. Haven't you figured that out, yet?" The passion in their words. The fire between them.

"You just remember one thing, 'darlin'," Jaya returns in her frustration, staring him down. "There will be no one to go back to. I dunno what he'll do, but…if it's not him, it's over." Watching Max take up his paper and pencil on the counter, "I don't back down from anything, and I don't run when things get too tough. If that was the case, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now." Vaputero was a special case, apparently. "But I understand. Everything," she says low, nodding once. "You have more to lose. More to risk. It has to be worth it. I get it." Returning to her lists and stacking them together, "Whatever I said.that.I'm sorry," she uncharacteristically apologizes, picking up her writing stylus and now looks over the crate where the bottles are. "Didn't mean it like that. Whatever it was. And you're infuriating. You drive me mad sometimes, because I want to kiss you….and punch you…at the same time. But even…in the tough times….even when we bite at each other….I can't turn away. Couldn't then. Can't now. Because you inflame me…and no other has." Beat. "Am I getting more of this?" and throws her chin towards the crate along with reaching over and tapping it with her writing stylus, keeping her back to him as she guards her face from him. Knowing she's exposing herself as much as he is, and showing her fears and vulnerability.

At Jaya’s response on having fought for him and lost him to another, Max’s lips purse and a frown forms, his mouth opening to say something and then closing as a heavy sigh spills. “Jaya, that was….” he flounders, unable to dispute what she says, “You’re right.” Though he doesn’t qualify whether that applies to her first or for them being so much alike and then a brow slowly lifts not having expected her to say that she’d leave her bodyguard if he proved not to be ‘the one’. He has nothing in response there either as he processes the information. “No,” he says, slowly shaking his head, “We’ve both got just as much to lose.” Especially in light of that comment made about Shijan. Coming up behind her, the apology has Max stilling in his reach for his writing instruments and for a moment he’s silent. “Aye, I know you didn’t,” spoken quietly in response. It’s what Jaya says next that has the crimelord putting a long and intent look onto her, dark eyes hiding whatever might be going through his mind, realizing just how much she too is putting herself on the line. And then slowly but surely a wry smile tips a corner of his mouth upward. “Aye, you’ll be getting more,” though he’s not referring to her comment about the crate standing on her counter for next he slips an arm about her waist and is trying to turn her to face him. “Jaya look at me.”

"I fight," Jaya continues when Max's words falter as if she didn't hear. The words were tumbling out now. The dam broken. "All I ever do is fight. And struggle. And want. And need. And it's easy - easy to turn, to run away, to give in to what had fallen my aunt, and my uncles, and all of them…because it's easier than this. To fight…it's easier…" And she falls silent, the young woman shaking her head, falling silent to Max's words, not meeting his gaze as she answers to all of it, "It's hard for any of my clan, my family, to admit when we're scared," she says low. "But I am. Because I don't know what to do with this. I never thought …coming here, that I would ever be faced with this. It's black and white out there," the lands. "I know what to do, out there." But here she's just as lost, her fingers running over the surface of the hides, his answer on her getting more of the shipment getting a nod - her taking the answer as such to her question - as her thoughts fly far beyond the crate of Istan Wave. It's how Max is able to grab her from behind, and her body turns towards him when her face doesn't. It's only when he states it that she turns to face, the dim light glinting off the craggy scar going down that one side, her dark eyes looking into his own with too many thoughts and feelings glimmering there to try and detect - rejection, anger, hurt, passion, rage, frustration, need, confusion, desire and something deeper underneath.

Her words on fighting resonate with him but only now, once Jaya has turned to face him does Max answer anything of what she’s said to him. “Aye, it is easier to fight,” he agrees, “but sometimes we’re so busy fightin’ we forget what we’re fightin’ for.” That being him, at least on a personal level anyway. “I’ve always just taken what I want without thought for consequence or fallout and it’s gotten me in trouble more times than I like to think about. So this thing with you and me? I don’t want to screw up, Jaya. I can’t. Not again.” There he pauses as brows fit together, eyes shadowing, “Because if I lose you, I lose a friend too and Faranth knows those are as rare as snow on a sunny day.” Even more so in a position such as his. “I ain’t a perfect man, darlin’. Shards, even my kid calls me Arsehole. Fuck…my kid don’t even know I’m her Pa,” that last added with a sardonic twist to it but he continues on, the words spilling freely now. “I ain’t no different to any other man. I want it all. The wife, the kids, the fightin’, the fuckin’, shit I’ll even take the naggin’ but…” and here he pauses giving a small shake of head, “I’m startin’ to think that maybe it’s not meant to be. That maybe I ain’t got what it takes. Wheelin’ and dealin’ with the likes of them lot up north. That I can do. That I know how to do. This right here? This…is somethin’ else and it scares the shit outta me.” During all of that, he’s not let Jaya go, neither has he made any move to draw her in closer either despite that his other arm has now wrapped about her waist too.

Jaya regards him as Max speaks, not wanting to interrupt him - to hear him out all the way. Eyes dart to those moving lips, those eyes, the way his chin moves, eyes only narrowing a fraction at something said but not commenting till the end. "I don't want to screw this up, either," she says low, admitting that to him and herself as she shakes her head. "Knew there something about you from the moment you walked into the Blood and Bucket," and she meets his gaze then, one corner of her mouth lifting. "Even when I broke your nose that time. Even when you told me there was someone else, or when we drive each other crazy with my life and those in it." Shaking her head again, "Ain't none of us perfect, Lomaxin," she says with a touch of wryness. "I screw up as much as you. I can't even go home, or all the things I've done…the things I try hard not to do…fuck, I know what I am. And I want it all. And where I come from - where life's too short not to - I take the gamble to have it all. Because none of us got what it takes…but we'll gamble for it anyway." A hand slowly reaches up to his chest between them, "We're both scared of this," she agrees, "but regrets scare me more. I have enough regrets in my life. I don't want you to become one. Then, we all lose." Tone more herself and less vulnerable, she adds, "And give Hope time, shuga. Girl's just been knocked out of her place called home for all her life. Her ma's been taken away. Shit like that's not going to smooth itself out overnight. Things are pretty scary for her, I imagine, and there's no comfort here that she's used to. In time, she'll get it. She's got your blood after all," and she gives him a pointed look along with the quiet advice.

As Jaya’s gaze roams his face, so does his hers as she speaks and there’s a point or two where the urge to silence her with a kiss rises to the fore but Max refrains, merely meeting that lopsided smile of hers with one of his own when she mentions their first meeting in the Blood and Bucket, and of course, his nose. That slips off when she speaks of life being too short and of regrets for Faranth knows he has enough of his own already. The hand she lays to his chest has his attention dropping down to it and then back up to her eyes as if he were struggling against the last few strands of why none of this was a good idea. But he’s grasping at straws and he knows it. “I don’t want to become a regret of yours either, Jaya,” the beast manager states in quiet agreement and then a smile, almost a smirk touches his lips as she speaks on his daughter. Whatever it was that came to mind, he leaves unsaid as he draws her in closer against him, arms lifting to wrap about her shoulders, inhaling her scent and the man sighs. “Aye, she’ll be alright,” then adding, “So what now, hmm? You’re gonna keep on with the both of us,” himself and Shijan, “until what? One of us finally has enough and fucks off?” There’s no heat to the words, simply a need to know where he stands.

When Max moves arms to close about her, the scent of the bathing soapsand on her still-damp frame, Jaya continues to watch him until she sees that smile. There's a tentative one of her own, her free hand coming to rest up his back until he asks after her bodyguard. Lips thinning on that, "I haven't talked to him since that…talk," she admits low, not hiding such from him. "He's…let me go, Max. To see about this. To know what this is between us, because he's seen it too, and…like me, he wants no regrets. If there's nothing here I want…if…there was nothing here with you and me that's meant to be, and I see it with him, then only then I can go back. If I know it's not him," and she shakes her head, "then he has to know, Max. I'll tell him, but…there can't be anything until I explore what this is," with Max, here. "Because everytime I see you, my heart would skip. He's staying out of the picture until I know. Until then. So what now?" Hands tighten on him then, "We figure out what this is. What we want," and eyes stray over his lips briefly. "What we need. Because you're worth the risk to me. Even if you don't think so."

Max goes still not having realized that Shijan had actually let her go to the extent that she explains it and he’s left with little else to respond with another then a muttered, “Fuckin’ eejit.” For you can be sure he’d not have been as magnanimous. There is still a margin of tension about his frame, knowing full well that in the end, he could still come out the loser. The crimelord dips his head leaning his forehead against hers and is quiet for a bit until he murmurs, “One day at a time, darlin’.” And then he leans away and casts a long look down into her eyes, admission finally coming, “As are you.” Worth the risk.

Jaya grins a bit to that muttered curse, putting forth, "He's taking a gamble. So did I, coming to you. Admitting what I did that night in your office." She can feel his tense frame, letting her forehead touch his own in the silence before she hears his admittance, and she looks at him. With him leaning away, admitting she was worth the risk, the Bitran searches his gaze for any doubt - anything that could say otherwise - before she leans close and tries to press her full lips to his own. "One day at a time. That's good for me." This time, she's the one to take the initiative and kisses him.

“It ain’t a gamble worth takin’,” Max gives without apology. Hopefully Jaya understands that to mean as intended, that he’d never risk losing her in the same way as Shijan has. “You got balls, darlin’,” that his faintly amused response to her having come clean with him in his office. When she searches his gaze she’ll find nothing but a strange coupling of determination and understandable fear for it all going pear-shaped. The kiss when offered isn’t denied and is met with heat and unspoken longing as arms tighten about Jaya.

Theme Music: U2 - Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me...

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