Unfinished Business


Jaya.jpg Max.jpg

Date: May 5, 2011
Location: Stables, EW
Synopsis: Jaya stops by to check up on Max and the two go down a somewhat unfamiliar path. Frustration and untapped desires is present between them as they stumble through their feelings.
Rating: PG-15 for language
Logger: Jaya

Jaya waited until it was late evening and when the bar was properly closed for her to head out. Dressed in her long, flowy skirts of tans and blues, the Bitran barkeep entered the old and familiar stables that with hands bunched into pockets. She carries a deep blue bottle in hand with her - perhaps as a gift as she looks about the stables that she cased a long time ago, and had given Max a broken nose for. It's been two sevendays since she's seen Max last, and from the time her Shijan talked about what he had detected between the two from their last meet. Even now on the threshold she hesitates, already contemplating going back to the solace of her bar, but the woman wasn't one to back down from challenges. So, with a heavy heart and a deep breath, she firms her resolve and heads on down towards the crimelord's office. Once at the door she stops, hand lifting before knocking once, the woman hesitating once more as she takes a look around the stall doors. Part of her was thinking to just set the bottle down, steal something for old times sake and retreat, but she looks back at the door and knocks again without thinking. She wasn't sure if the man was in, though considering the time of night, she could imagine him sitting at his desk, drinking like does behind the counter of her bar.

With his mother suddenly turning up at the break of dawn, plonking a still sleepy Hope in his arms and declaring she was off to Telgar for a few days, it had been one very long day for Max. At first Hope had cried and struggled to get down in a bid to go after Indira and when he’d held onto and tried to soothe her, the toddler had sunk sharp teeth into him.

At each turn there’d been battles with both father and daughter as stubborn as each other. Breakfast had been an abortive affair when she’d started throwing spoonfuls of porridge at him when he turned his back, lunch was no better with her clamping her little mouth shut and refusing to eat anything, apparently determined to go on a hunger strike until her grandmother returned.

The breakthrough had finally come when he’d dragged the toddler off to the baths all but kicking and screaming in typical two turn old toddler tantrum. In a bid to escape, Hope had tripped up the top step of the pools, fallen and bumped her head. Tired, hungry and miserable, the little girl had finally turned to her father with all the fight gone from her.

And so it is that Max is currently sprawled flat on his back on his mattress with one arm draped about the little girl that is snuggled up against his chest, the pair to all intents and purposes, dead to the world, the door to his quarters while closed is not locked. Its Waine who had been finishing up with something in the tack room that crosses the aisle with a smile for Jaya as she knocks, “Go on in. He’s got it closed so’s the little escape artist he's got in there don’t make a run for it.” Er what?

With Waine approaching her with his words, Jaya nods a greeting to him and pauses. "Escape-?" she frowns at that, turning towards the door and firmly letting herself in. What she finds is Max sleep and his little daughter sleep beside him, the barkeep pausing on the threshold with bottle in hand in indecision. She had not banked on little Hope being here, but then, the woman should not have been surprised. She pivots to peer back out whence she came, her mouth opening and closing with no words falling free, lost in whether she should disturb such a peaceful picture or not. She turns back and stares at them for awhile, head tilting slightly as she contemplated them, before she finally finds her legs and creeps further into the office. Her boots making softs scuffing sounds as she moves, she reaches the desk and gently places the bottle there on top before moving away, looking with every intention of slipping back out of the room without waking to two of them.

While Max would very much like to be asleep, he is in fact, just dozing fearing that should he give over to sleep the little rascal aka his daughter, is likely to either belt him over the head with something or try yet again, to escape. Thus as the door to his quarters creaks open, he stirs but only enough to crack an eyelid once the sound of soft boot falls heralds someone moving further into the converted stall. He comes fully awake the moment he realizes its Jaya and not for instance Waine. Dark eyes lock to her, drift down to the bottle she places on his desk and then back up to her face and then he’s carefully trying to slide out from under the sleeping toddler, scooping a pillow out from under his head to set under the dark mop of curls that had been resting on his chest.

Hope stirring in her sleep and mumbling something unintelligible has Max freezing with expression of near panic writing onto his face and then the little one shoves a thumb in her mouth and cuddles back down again. Darting a look to Jaya he lifts his finger to his lips and then tilts his head the way of the door as he stands and starts toward her, not bothering with trying to find a shirt right now. A last glance sent to ensure that Hope has indeed settled back down and then he indicates that they should step outside.

Jaya turns back from the door in time when she hears a noise and she finds Max trying to disentangle himself from his daughter. Cautioning on quiet as he does, her eyes falling on his bare chest briefly, she reclaims the bottle and goes for the door without any words. She doesn’t wait to see if he follows, moving outside the office and turning to hiss back, “Letting her live in the stables now? Where’s Indira?” and she looks around as if expecting the Headwoman to appear out of thin air. If Waine was still there she sends a look his way that’s one of curiosity, though when she turns back to Max if he appears, “If I came at a bad time…I didn’t want to disturb you….kinda just wanted to nick something and be gone,” she tries for humor on why she was there - not exactly sure herself, it’s clear - awkward perhaps but the woman doesn’t linger on it as she raises the bottle that she had brought and adds, “Thought you could use some wine. Good vintage. Rich from Benden.”

Closing the door behind him, Max sends her a slightly withering look; his tone held low, “It ain’t like I had a choice in the matter. Ma came down here this morning, dumped her with me and…fucked off somewhere.” A small amount of irritation for his mother’s actions is evident in the frown that appears as he tries to rub the crick out of his neck from having been lying at an awkward angle, his hair standing up every which way. Waine is indeed still about and without needing to be asked, takes up a position outside of the crimelord’s quarters, the latter quite ironically then moving in the direction of the tack room. Halfway across the aisle he utters a laugh that is held low as he turns a devilish look over his shoulder to Jaya, “Got itchy fingers, eh? Think you could keep my nose out of it this time?” The bottle of wine that she holds up earns an appreciative look of approval as he pushes the door to the tack room open, “Benden? Alright darlin’, whadda you want?” Because no one, especially not the barkeep, turns up with the good stuff for no reason at all, right?

“Not like her,” Jaya agrees on his mother, though something in her tone suggests that she has an inkling why she finds Hope suddenly with his unruly father. “Should have had her tailed, boss. You have the right of it. Rumors in the bar have been quiet as well.” Beat. She wants to ask after his daughter, but not yet. She watches Waine before she follows Max to the tackroom – that room quite familiar to the woman after having socked the man there a long time ago. She catches that devilish look with a wry smirk of her own, his question getting a blithe “You know who I am and what I do. Think that all changed just because I was given a bar to run and a home to live?” Lips twitch a bit at keeping his nose out of it, the woman looking said nose pointedly and returns with “You mean you don’t want a bloody one for old times’ sake? Lomaxin, you wound me!” A hand steals over her heart entering the tack room once the door is pushed open. She half expected to see Jinnet tied up here like he was long ago. Jaya couldn’t still believe that so much time has passed from that time. “So I can’t send you a Benden gift without wanting something in return,” she delivers, moving to the counter and placing the bottle there before turning to face him. “Perhaps I felt generous tonite. I wasn’t going to let you have all of it, besides. Can I ask for something, then?” She pauses, her eyes going to the ceiling as a finger lifts and taps her chin. “Hmmm…well, you do still owe me my runner,” she muses aloud, not looking his way. “Perhaps I’ve come to collect and seduce you down for it with this here wine,” and the bottle is lifted again in saucy indication. “Maybe I’ve come to help lift the frustration from your eyes,” and she looks at him now, her tone light before dropping to dryness as she adds, “Or, perhaps I’m just here to steal. You wouldn’t have noticed if I distracted you with wine. That’s how all the silky ladies do it before they lift marks and wares from the men.” Those silky ladies being the ones that got paid to lay with men in the lands, their bodies draped in stolen silks and sheets with a slight dirtiness from the lands.

A wry smile and a shake of head are what greet Jaya’s words on having his mother tailed. “Naw, reckon she’s gone up Telgar way. She looked pretty shattered when she dropped Hope off.” A mark of concern in his tone. That slips away and in its place is a twist of a smile. “None of us change, darlin’. Not those bits what make us who we are, aye?” Once they’re in the tack room, the air a rich aroma of polished leather laced through with the musky scent of runners, Max takes to leaning against the work counter, arms folding across his chest and Jaya is set with a silent and unreadable look as dark eyes track her movements and the bottle set down near him. In all the teasing words that she delivers, there is one that has drawing a brow upward, “Seduce me? Don’t think that bodyguard of yours would like that, darlin’.” A rueful smile is forced out and then he gives a chuckle of a more genuine nature. “So that’s it then, huh? Distract me with wine and steal all my valuable…what…runner shoes?” a glance going to the items stored in the tack room that really have little value to any that don’t work with runners. On the matter of still owing Jaya a runner there is produced a vaguely enigmatic smile but the crimelord puts no words to it simply stating with a nod to the bottle, “Don’t usually entertain in here so we’re gonna have to get rough and drink straight from the bottle.”

“Keane?” Jaya drops the name of her former boss with a flash of interest, looking over at Max curiously for his mother’s choice of getaway. “Huh, sounds like they’re getting serious, then, if so.” She returns the smirk on them not changing, the woman not about to apologize for the fact that she could very well steal from him. Once at the counter she was about to uncork the bottle until he speaks on one of the guesses she puts out there, some of her amusement ebbing to something more cryptic when she regards him. Hand softens against the bottle, leaving the cork in as she returns, “That bodyguard of mine’s picked up on how I felt about you,” in a sober and blithe tone, clearing her throat as her dark eyes lift from the bottle to meet his. “Distract you, though….hmmmm,” and she makes a show of casing the place, full lips parting as she pivots about. “Well, you’re right. Nothing but runner shoes and rusty old saddles in here! Likely why you lured me in here in the first place. I’m onto you, Lomaxin,” she seems to tease, her search proving fruitless and so she’s watching him once more in a lofty manner. She almost seems to expect the silence for her runner not yet delivered, the Bitran folding her arms across her chest to study him before dropping, “You’re not reneging on your honor, are ya, weyrboy? Keep me mired in missions so that you can keep me here longer?” Not that she has any intention anytime soon to be leaving Eastern, but she wasn’t putting that out there. She’ll say anything to get her runner. When Max nods toward the bottle she holds, she then sets to opening it up with a pop of the cork and husky rejoinder: “All I ever do is rough, shuga. You ain’t drinking with the flush-faced holdgirl, but I suppose I’ll just have to put a reminder on you.” Lips twitch as that before she takes the first drink before reaching forward and handing it over.

Max’s mouth tips toward a crooked line and the muscles in a shoulder tighten and release as he gives a shrug, “He seems to make her happy.” That being about all that matters to him with regards to his mother’s relationship with the Telgari barkeep and then his eyes meet hers and a faint frown appears on the topic of her bodyguard being aware of what she’d confessed to him a few sevens back. Silent he lets her talk, watching as she uncorks the bottle and then his chest lifts and falls and a sigh exhales as palming a hand over his face he pushes away from the work counter and turns a long, closed look onto Jaya, “You shouldn’t be here.” Tone low with odd warning. Not answering to anything that she’d put to him, her last has him look away with a faintly frustrated expression in place. “Don’t play the player, darlin’. What you want, I ain’t got. Go back to him.” And there’s an odd note in his voice as with his frame tense with thoughts best kept to himself, he’ll try to move passed her toward the door.

"That's good," Jaya admits on Keane and his mother, the woman proud that her former boss was able to let someone in after so many turns. With the bottle still held out though, Jaya watches the crimelord's expression close along with his words. She falls in shocked silence as he moves passed her towards the door. At his back, "I can be wherever the fuck I want," she answers the first, the bottle lowering at that closed look sent her way. Then, more quiet, "He thinks….he said….I need to know where my heart truly belongs, shuga," she tells him, not stopping him from leaving. "He needs to know. There's business…..unfinished…between us, but…." the words were hard to get out, not looking happy by Max's own words, so with a heavy sigh and a run of her hand through her hair in frustration, she suddenly switches to defensive mode. "Look. Just look me in the eye and say you don't want me, that you never did, that this between us is one-sided and has always been and I'll go." She doesn't specify whether she will go back to Shijan or not, her own face closing over the reaction received and looking close to bolting herself.

Max pauses, his back to her, chin dropping toward his chest and jaw tightening as he stares blankly at the floor. Jaya’s initial was anger expected for that had been his intention, to get her good and mad at him in the hopes she’d leave and this fool’s quest would be ended before it began for he simply didn’t have it in him right now to put himself on the line again.

However what she says next has his hand stilling on the door handle and then pushing it closed again with a gentle click. Back still to her, his head turns slightly in her direction though not enough to be in profile or for her to see his expression in the dim lighting. He doesn’t look at her as requested merely asking in a low tone that is barely audible, “Do you love him?”

Jaya watches that strong back without moving from the counter, her hold on the bottle tight. Max’s question seems expected, for the answer given is simply, “Of course.” Beat. “But there’s a problem,” she tacks on tonelessly, her chin dropping to look down at the bottle of wine. “It’s never been just him in my thoughts. I love you, too. He knows that. We talked about it. He thinks I should try….find out what it is between you and I. He….doesn’t want there to be regrets, and I understand that.” Turning from Max then to face the counter and set her gaze on what lined the tackroom, “But I told him, see,” she explains while examining, finding the saddles and the knickknacks easier to look at than him. “I told him you felt nothing for me. I’m right, aren’t I? But he won’t take that for an answer. He doesn’t want regrets.” She turns to look over his shoulder at him, watching him with a closed expression as she adds, “So prove me right, Lomaxin,” she states low. “If you want me gone, then look at me and say the words. I’ll leave you be and never bring this up again. Ever.” And she takes a long drink to that. “Or you can just walk out,” she adds then with little inflection, her gaze studying the color of the bottle. “I’ll take that for an answer, too. I’ll finish the wine myself.”

I love you, too. Jaya’s words have his frame stiffening to match his jaw, muscles tightening across his back and hands slowly curling into fists where they hang at his sides. Words grate out low as if each is painful for Max to speak, “What do you want me to say, Jaya?” slowly turning back to face her only to find her turned away from, “I ain’t like him. I ain’t one to share and I sure as shit ain’t about to poach on another man’s territory.” Giving himself away with some of what he says and then his expression hardens and he takes a step back toward her, opens his mouth to say something and then closes it, hands lifting and falling in frustrated gesture. And then he reaches toward the bottle she drinks from, hand closing about it and drawing it toward him in possessive manger despite that it is in effect hers and that she’s still holding onto it, possibly using it as a means to draw her to him along with it. Growling out low, lips draw back in a pale sneer as he tries to use disdain and anger to shield himself against the position he finds himself in, “Here’s an answer for you, darlin’….” Without warning or invitation his other arm snaps out and unless she sidesteps the manoeuvre (or tries breaking his nose again), he’ll pull her roughly in against him, his mouth crushing down on hers, tongue and lips demanding, savage with heated intent and then just as suddenly he breaks the kiss, breathing shallow and takes a step back, dark eyes blazing with passion and hunger denied. And then he stalks out, likely leaving the poor woman just as confused as he is.

“Did I ask you to be?” Jaya turns to find his face hard, her own a mask of uncertainty. “But I need to know, Max. I need to know if I’m wasting my time, or will regret…” and then he approaches and she stands stock still, watching Max intently like a predator stalking prey as he reaches for the held bottle. When he draws it towards himself, his possessive hold dragging her towards him and his personal space with her dark eyes drinking him in. Before she could speak, her lips parting as if to either protest or counter, Max has her in his hold and his lips are crushed against her own. That demand of tongue and lips momentarily shocks her, but the Dicori woman is quick to respond in kind – a hand reaches up to the claim the back of his neck, daring him to deepen the kiss before he abruptly breaks it and breaks away from her. Disoriented, heavy of breath, she blinks and leans back against the counter for support, meeting the passion and hunger in his eyes that she hasn’t seen since that night at her bar long ago. Frustration cords her frame as she exhales a sharp breath, watching him turn from her and a tight “Max-“ falls from her lips after him. Confusion wracks her body as it does her, but she does not go after him, her shoulders slacking as she remains in the tackroom with the bottle of good wine.

Max doesn’t respond verbally to anything Jaya says, letting that wildfire of a kiss do the talking for him. When he finds her responding in kind, the touch of her hand burning at the back of his neck, his resolve waivers and for a heartbeat in time, the kiss is deepened, his hold on her tightening before he breaks it and finds reflected in her eyes the same firestorm that’s searing through him. But leave he does only getting as far as just outside her door and hopefully out of her line of sight before he sinks down to his haunches, hands lifting to clasp over his head in high frustration. What the fuck had he just done!?

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