What Hit Her



Date: The night Ahnika returns from the Beast Cavern after Max kicked her out, and the memory is of the day she left her cothold
Location: Lower Caverns / Former cothold
Synopsis: Ahnika is trying to put the pieces back together
Rating: PG-13 for adult content
Logger: Ahnika

"Goat’s milk?" Davel, one of the youngest drudges, looks uncertainly at the redhead before eyeing the basket bundle of squirming fur. "Where did you say??" the boy asks again.

"The beast cavern," Ahnika says with a brooding expression, not at all thinking this is really a good idea, but it was better than she, herself, going back and potentially encountering Max again, and she certainly wasn’t going to be sending another girl in there to potentially have to deal with him. The memory brings another flush to her cheeks and she turns away, busying herself with folding some of her recently laundered clothes and stacking them on the end of her cot while the boy sat on the floor with the basket of kittens, getting acquainted.

"The beast manager there, his name is Max, and he or his stablehands will make sure you are able to collect the milk," Ahnika says with a somewhat flat tone, still a little stunned by what happened and not quite certain how to make sense out of it. "He’s the one who asked me to look after the little felines, so as long as you tell him what you’re about, he’ll help you." The last is said with a measure of hesitation. She’s not entirely sure about that, but she’s mostly sure. "You think you can you do this?" She manages a smile, warm and patient, for the younger boy.

Scrambling to his feet, Davel grins at her, "And it means I get out of latrine duty for the next several seven?" And as Ahnika nods, already mentally calculating who she could trade a favor for that one, and hoping she wouldn’t have to be the one to take Davel’s latrine duty personally. Excited, Davel doesn’t wait any longer, scurrying off, presumably to the beast cavern in search of goat’s milk.

Ahnika watches him go, continuing to fold the few clothes she brought with her, reminded of the folding and packing she did on the day she left, and the conversation she had with Seren.

It was a warm day, making it even more difficult for Ahnika to decide which of the winter garments Xavier had made for her she should pack. She didn’t have room for all her clothes, not if she wanted to travel light, which would be more practical. For now, just one or two will do and she can hopefully buy more when she gets to wherever she will end up.

A cool breeze danced with the curtains as a familiar voice, warm and serene came from the doorway, “So, you haven’t changed your mind?” A smile tugged at the corners of the much older woman’s lips, but the slight worry to her eyes took away some of the warmth and goodwill in that smile.

Ahnika looked over her shoulder and smiled at the Healer, shaking her head in answer and surprised at herself to find a catch in her throat, preventing her from voicing her answer. Instead, she looks back at the large bag she is folding and placing clothes into. This places her back to the Healer at the door, but the other woman begins to move in, and Ahnika clears her throat to steady her nerves, “Is it broken? Tal’s arm?” The tone is meant to be conversational.

“No, not broken,” the woman with blonde curls that Ahnika had envied for as long as she could remember responds with a small sigh. “You know I’m getting a little too old to keep up with all the fosterlings as well, Ahni,” the woman says, moving around the cot to face the redhead teen. She picks up a dark tunic with grey and silver embroidery, folding it gingerly.

“No you’re not. You’re barely middle-aged, Seren,” Ahnika said in a voice meant to brook no argument further, despite the obvious distance in ages, but she was unable to look directly at the Healer standing across the bed from her. “But even still, Brielle will be walking the tables soon and said she’d be back as soon as she could,” back to take over heading up the cothold with Xavier and Seren, and Brielle a Healer too now, Ahni thought with a little bit of bitterness. She worked hard to push the edge from her tone as she continued, this time more softly, “You won’t need me,” a small pause to swallow and she hurried on, “and I don’t want to miss this opportunity.” Ahnika reached for another garment, folding it gently and slowly before putting it in her bag. Seren reached for one, too, lapsing quiet for a few moments.

Shrugging a little, conceding that and deciding not to beat that dead runner any longer, Seren hesitates before speaking again. “I’m not sure a weyr is a good place for you though,” Seren said cautiously, “Especially this new one.” She put another folded garment in the bag and then stops, regarding the teenager in front of her. “Maybe Fort Hold would be a better fit, and it’s closer too.”

“It’s perfect for me,” Ahnika said a little impatiently, shaking her head. “No one needs people more than a brand new place, and everything will be a mess and I know I can really help them. It’s perfect for me, Seren.” The last just barely managed to come out in a small whine, in such a way that marks teenage girls only. She was growing vexed over everyone else thinking they knew what was best for her better than herself.

There was another lengthy pause in the conversation, and just when things got a little uncomfortable, Ahnika looked up from her packing. Seren’s brown eyes met hers and the Healer smiled a little, but it seemed to be with effort, and suggested mild discomfort of her own, “You know, early on in our Hall careers, Xavier and I were both posted at a few weyrs. It’s an adjustment, Ahni.”

“I’m sure it will be. I’ll be fine, though,” Ahnika said, over-confident without actually sounding arrogant.

Swallowing slowly, Seren added, “Ahni, I know we’ve not had as much time together as you may have gotten with … I mean, otherwise, overcrowded here with fosterlings as the place has always been, but—“

“Seren,” Ahnika interrupted, “If it weren’t for you and Xavier taking me in when you did, I’d likely be dead for all my actual mother and father cared,” she said with genuine disgust in her voice, “don’t apologize to me for that.” She shrugs, “So, it’s crowded here; you’ve still given me more of a home than I could have ever hoped for otherwise.”

Seren heard Ahnika out, nodding a little, considering her words and the bitterness beneath the surface, “I just want to make sure we’ve done everything we could’ve to prepare you. Weyr life is very, very different from living in a cothold as rural and remote as this one.” There’s a beat pause, and she adds, “A lot more people for one.” Another uncomfortable pause, “Many more boys.”

Ahnika went back to finishing her packing with a little scowl and buckled up her bag, “Be serious, Seren. When do I find time for boys?” Not really thinking about the fact that the only boys she’s ever known while living here were her foster brothers, and none of them were crush-developing material.

“Ahnika,” Seren managed with a patient tone, “Many more boys. Not just the handful you’ve grown up with here. And weyrboys have extremely different thoughts on … sex, than what you are used to.”

“Sex,” Ahnika said carefully, looking at Seren. The other woman nodded, smiling gently, “Ahni, I’m a midwife Healer; you see pregnancies around here all the time. I’ve explained the physiology of how it happens pretty clearly, I thought.” Seren tilted her head a little, “Do you … have any questions about it?”

Ahnika’s cheeks flushed a bit and she fidgeted with moving items around the room, looking to see if she may have forgotten something. “No, of course not. Your lessons have always been very … illuminating.” If kind of … clinical.

Seren considered her response a little bit before nodding and brushing off her healer apron with a small sigh. She moved to the door, then, looking at Ahnika over her shoulder, “You won’t know what hit you until he’s gone, Ahni, but if anyone can pick up the pieces and carry on, you can. You’ve always been resilient like that.”

“Who?” Ahnika asked, not even trying to hide her confusion, “What are you talking about, Seren?”

To that, Seren just shook her head, “Just take this with you if nothing else: real men don’t treat people like side dishes.”

She left then, down the hallway, leaving Ahnika with her single satchel of clothes, confused but not discouraged.

Back at the weyr, in the here and now, Ahnika’s expression is one of sudden clarity.

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