When Hope And Love Collide


Max.jpg Indira.jpg Hope.jpg

Date: 2011.07.04
Location: EW - Headwoman's Quarters
Synopsis: The next morning, after Hope and Jaya’s return to the Weyr, Max stops by Indira’s place.
Rating: PG
Logger: Max

The next day saw Jaya helping Max down to the bathing caverns and though he grumbled and complained about not needing a ‘nursemaid’, he wasn’t ungrateful as she helped him bathe and get dressed again. There was however a stern eye cast his way when he then stated he wasn’t going directly back to bed but that he would be stopping passed his mother’s office and then dropping by the infirmary to check in on Kaskan before heading back to the beast caverns. She muttered something about his being a stubborn fool to which he merely sent an unapologetic grin.

Indira had of course checked in on Max the moment Waine had reported that Jonavan was done with him, not having wanted to intrude beforehand for what son wants his mother hovering in the background fussing and clucking like a mother hen. It had possibly been one of the hardest things she’d ever had to do but in the end, sheer determination had won out. It had near broken her heart to see him lying there broken and bruised and so frighteningly still but after consulting with the masterhealer himself, she’d been assured that the damage was mostly superficial. And so she’d left him to get his rest, using every trick in the book to keep Hope occupied and distracted from asking for the umpteenth time when she could go ‘wisit S’hole’.

Doran wasn’t at his usual post, having gone for breakfast and so trying the handle of the door and finding it unlocked, Max simply walked on in, for these days there was little danger of catching his mother ‘entertaining’.

“Ma,” he peered one-eyed around the empty office, “You here?”

From the door to the Headwoman’s quarters that stood slightly ajar there came a squeal of delight and before Indira could stop her, Hope was through it and flinging herself toward her father. That is until she spotted his battered face with the bandage covering half of it.

Coming to a screeching halt the little girl’s eyes widened and then her bottom lip started to quiver.

“Hey baby girl,” Max immediately hunkered down before her, his arms opened to the toddler, “Come give us a hug, aye?” tone lowered with gentle reassurance.

Though tears of fright didn’t fall, Hope stuck her thumb in her mouth and continued to regard the young crimelord in uncertain silence.

Indira paused in the doorway between her room and her office, sloe eyes touching to her son’s as he lifted a haunted look up to her. Stepping forward, she gave the little girl a light nudge, “Go on, Hope. Go give your papa a hug.”

Max lowered his arms to dangle over his knees and waited, drinking in the sight of the little girl that had so thoroughly captured his heart. “Did you and Shuga have fun visitin’ with Bastard?” Trying conversation as a means to distract the child away from what he currently looked like.

Slowly Hope nodded and took a tentative step forward. “Hope play wif, Bastard. Frow fings. BLAM!” A little arm flinging out before her in demonstration thereof, “Bastard no come back.” Shaking her curled head of dark hair trying to understand why she and Jaya had returned but Jonavan had not.

Max didn’t understand it either to be honest. Not now that his friend had attained the knot and rank he’d been after. It was Indira who understanding some of why Jonavan had left interjected to state, “They need him more than we do, love.” It being a statement levelled at Hope but that encompassed Max too.

Another few steps took Hope right up to the young crimelord and she tipped her head this way and that regarding him solemnly as she did so and then she reaching out a little hand touched fingers to the bandaging across his cheek.

“S’hole fall down?’ she asked.

Max went still under his daughter’s gaze, not flinching away when she reached out to touch him and then he swallowed hard. “Aye, fell off my chair, baby girl.”

Something in his tone told Hope that this wasn’t the truth but not having any form of reference or understanding yet of when adults are covering something up, she simply smiled and moved into the gap between his knees. “S’hole, silly.”

“Aye,” Max gave quiet agreement and taking a chance that she might try struggle or try to wriggle free, gathered her up in his arms and held her soft little body close against his abused chest. He inhaled deeply of the sweet baby scent of innocence as if it could wash away the events of the past forty-eight hours. “Papa, missed you somethin’ fierce, baby girl.” It being only the second time he’d referenced himself in such a way to her, the first having been when he’d sent her and Jaya away.

The last threads of wariness slipped away and little arms lifted and wrapped about his neck as Hope snuggled her face in against his un-bandaged and rough unshaven cheek. “Hope home now,” she lisped and then lifting her head solemn eyes of the same dark brown as his caught to his gaze. “Hope wuv, Papa,” she stated quietly and then put a gentle kiss to the section of bandaging that crossed the young crimelord’s forehead, recalling the request Jaya had made of her and making good on it.

His heart contracted and Max gulped then blinked furiously, fighting back the emotion that welled up and threatened to overwhelm. “Papa loves you too,” he was finally able to croak out, burying his face in against the soft tangle of baby curls as he held Hope tighter against himself, suppressing the groan as ribs complained.

When her son glanced up at her, his expression wreathed with watery elation, it was all Indira could do to hold onto her own emotions. “You can thank your daughter for saving you from the arse kicking of a lifetime,” she commented, trying for a severe look but failing.

Hope then started to wriggle to be put down. Once released she scampered off into Indira’s bedroom as if on a mission and Max slowly stood to his feet and sent his mother a wry smile. “I’m okay, Ma,” he reassured.

“You could have died,” Indira hissed low as she took a few steps away from the doorway and out of earshot of Hope.

“But I didn’t,” Max countered with.

“That’s not good enough, Max! I lost your father. I’m not about to lose …” Indira’s words cut off as Hope came bounding back into the room holding something hidden between her hands.

“S’uga give Hope,” the little girl lisped and then opened her hands to reveal, her treasure, the pretty yellow hairclip that Jaya had gifted her with beaming up at her father as if she’d just shown him a shard of Faranth’s own egg.

Max tore his attention away from his mother and forced his features free of the frown that had started to form. The hairclip being shown to him, drew a smile into place for it conjured up memories of anther time when he’d retrieved a hair comb fallen from the backpack of a barkeep with her defences let down.

Crouching once again to put himself on Hope’s level he gave the appropriate though somewhat biased response, “It’s beautiful, baby. Just like you.”

Gratified with his response she held it out to Max and patted the side of her head, “Put in.”

Amusement brightened Indira’s features when her son looked absolutely lost with how to do what was being requested of him.

“You and Shuga are friends now?” Max played for time as he tried to figure out how the thing was supposed to work.

“Hope wuv S’uga,” the toddler responded standing patiently with her head tipped to one side as her father fiddled with the clip and her hair.

“Aye, me too, baby girl,” he murmured and then frowning in concentration he finally managed to get the hairclip in though he’d not caught up enough hair and it hang limply as if it might slide out at any moment.

Indira caught that low spoken comment from her son and her brows went up but she held her tongue for now was not the time to probe for more information. “Are you staying for breakfast?”

Gathering Hope up into another, more careful hug, Max planted a kiss on her soft cheek and then releasing her stood. “I need to drop in and see how Kas is doin’. He…didn’t look too good when we brought him in and Jon wasn’t tellin’ me much neither.” Not that he could really remember much of the morning before.

The Headwoman nodded, an understanding look sent to her son, “I’ll drop by and see if there’s anything he needs this afternoon.” And then she turned her attention to Hope, “Come on, darling, lets go fix up your papa’s mess.” A teasing wink going to Max as he headed toward the door followed by a pointed look, “You and me are going to have a talk sometime soon.”

Max halted in his path and narrowed a look onto his mother for those words and that look coming from her. And with a sigh he conceded though used a favoured stall tactic, “I’ll come by once I’ve gotten everythin’ back on track again.”

Indira wasn’t buying it but neither was she prepared to argue with him just yet and so she merely sent him a dubious, “Mmhm,” in return before shepherding Hope back into her bedroom.

Closing Credits: Tim McGraw - Daddy's Little Girl

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