Women Troubles

Participants:

Keane.jpg Max.jpg

Date: April 1, 2011
Location: Blood and Bucket bar, Telgar area
Synopsis: A drunk and bruised Max stops by the Telgar bar from Landing to avoid going home. What he gets is a virgin drink and advice.
Rating: PG-15 for language
Logger: Keane


The Blood and Bucket was cold along with its drinks. The ale has gotten better since Keane had traveled south, and his clientele was all the better for it. His bar was cleaner, his counter almost shined, and the male barmaid he had working with him - a courtesy of Indira's - was turning out to be a valuable asset to his business. Things were really looking up for his bar, and in extension, the bar's owner himself. This cold, crisp night finds the bar close to closing after a full night of card games, binge drinking and wild insults. Keane had learned much while he toured the tables and the counter, especially about the going-ons in the lands. When the drinks flow, even the most reluctant and tight-lipped would spill his or her guts to a crowd that was willing to keep the drinks coming. Patrons like that was the reason why Keane was still in business and considered a commodity for crimelords in the vast areas. Right now, however, the drunks were stumbling out into the night while Rordan, his barman, starts on closing down the bar. A few patrons are left - two men were huddled together at one of the tables, deep in some sort of discussion that's not meant for other ears, and there was a lone man sitting at the counter still nursing his ale.

Whiskey bottle still in hand as if it were some kind of security blanket, Max had taken longer than should have been necessary to buckle the riding straps. Then again, he had been trying to do so with only one hand. When K’ral had turned and offered to relieve him of the bottle so that he could use two hands, the beast manager’s lips had drawn back in a light snarl of possession causing the brownrider to lift his hands in a show of defeat.

“Wimmen trouble, huh?” the slightly built man guessed as he turned back around, the smirk evident in his tone.

“Fuck off!” Max growled out as he finally got the last buckle secured.

When K’ral asked where to, the words ‘back to the Weyr’ started to form on his lips and then Max changed his mind, “Telgar. The Blood and Bucket,” he gave crisply.

And thus it is that one half frozen southerner, (since he wears nothing beneath his flight jacket with his shirt having gotten destroyed) with a bruise starting to purple at his one temple, a split lip and knuckles grazed raw, darkens the threshold of the Blood and Bucket this cold and frosty evening. Side-stepping a drunk that staggers passed, dark eyes sweep across the interior of the tavern in brooding silence searching for the tavern owner as he takes a few inward steps.

Rordan notices the slight darkening outside that heralds the arrival of a dragonrider faster than Keane did. The bar owner was busy putting away all the mugs when Max enters, and it’s the sharp intake of breath from his barman that has him peering over towards him, then towards the entrance….and stops. He recognizes Max, of course, but he wasn’t used to Max looking like this. The two men huddled at a table looks the southern crimelord over furtively, pausing for a moment to study his face. The man at the counter turns around when the barmen do, his frown pronounced before he sends a look towards Keane. As for the bar owner, he slaps his washing cloth over a shoulder and moves around the counter to approach the crimelord with a critical eye. “What the fuck?” he drops once in Max’s hearing distance, his eyes flicking over all the visible injuries he could see before noticing that the man was looking quite cold. “Ror, take care of the bar,” he tosses over his shoulder without looking back, gesturing for Max to follow him as he steps back and moves to head for his bedchamber.

Expression blank, Max looks the two men at the table over briefly and then dismisses them from his attention with cold disinterest. The frown coming from the man at the counter barely seems to even register with the southern crimelord with just Rordan behind it getting something near acknowledgement for his presence. It’s to Keane that his brooding gaze falls, watching the older man in silence as he rounds the counter and approaches him and then a dark smirk that holds no humour traces out. “Fought a dragon for its whiskey,” and he lifts the nearly empty bottle he still has with him and waggles it back and forth sending the contents sloshing about inside. Dark brows pitch down toward each other in a frown as Keane heads off and gestures for him to follow. He’d come here to drink, not talk! Or so he’s telling himself for he’s really not too sure quite why he’d sought the Blood and Bucket out when he could just as easily have slumped over a table in Jaya’s bar. But follow the older man he does.

When Max waves that bottle of whiskey, Keane reaches for it along with the words, “Sounds like that dragon didn’t fight all that well to defend it.” He’s not grabbing any bottles with him as he passes the counter just yet, though one can believe that he has his own stash in his bedchambers. Making sure that the crimelord was following, the bar owner passes Rordan and goes to the backhall where the rooms are, reaching the room at the very end and opening the door for Max to pass him. “Got some aid back from when your mother came last,” he grunts, indicating the wounds he sees on the younger man. “You can clean yourself up as best you can while you tell me what the fuck has happened to you.” He was hoping it wasn’t Indira, his curiosity in the man evident in his eyes for him being in his bar at this time of night – looking like this. There’s an air of authority in his voice in any case, it coming naturally to bear as he enters his own room, hooks out a chair at his tidy desk in indication for Max to sit in as he goes to retrieve the aid kit.

Being as how he’s cold, already somewhat on his ear and much of the fight gone out of him, Max isn’t quite quick enough and finds his bottle in Keane’s hands. A perplexed look falls into place but he doesn’t try to grab it back just yet although he does keep a firm eye on it as he follows the tavern owner back to his quarters. Uttering a rough snort, “The dragon started it. I ended it.” Looking down at himself a hand smoothes over the jacket he wears, and it’s a rueful expression that appears as he catches sight of his knuckles, when mention of aid is made. He of course not being able to see his own face and so despite the throbbing reminder the injuries serve up, he offers up sardonically, “T’ain’t nothing. You should see the dragon.” Dragon, yeah right. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. That is until Keane presses on what had happened. It’s a dark almost rebellious look that gets thrown back the older man’s way as Max enters his quarters and rather than answer just yet he takes in his surroundings. Instead of seating himself right away, the young crimelord stubbornly remains standing, watching from behind hooded eyes as the tavern owner moves toward the first aid kit. Eventually he relents and slumps down onto the chair, dark eyes already searching for where Keane might have set his bottle down, and gives with an almost nonchalant air as if dismissing the matter as inconsequential, “Had to set one of my men straight.” And then he tries to turn the attention off of himself, “Ma sends greetings.” Yeah right! The Headwoman has no idea her son had even been down at Landing, let alone involved in a fight or that he’d slunk up north to lick his wounds.

The bottle firmly held in one strong arm, Keane leads Max to the back and ushers him in with the door closing behind him. “Dragons wouldn’t leave marks like that,” he notes to him, knowing full well that Max was lying. He finds the kit and turns with it, the bottle still held in one hand as he approaches and drops the kit rather than the bottle on the desk before him. He finds Max sitting, the next excuse getting a dry “Oh really? Setting men straight these days equate to a full circuit round, is it?” and he nudges the aid kit towards Max, indicating for him to use it. Now he falls into his seat behind the desk with a sigh, grateful to he off his feet after all full day’s shift. He watches to see what Max would do next now, setting the bottle on the desk more on his side than on Max’s when Indira gets mentioned. “I send greetings back with a kiss,” he returns with a corner of his mouth lifting. “Does she know you’re here representing the name of my bar?”

Dark eyes slide away from Keane and find his collection of knives of extreme interest when he calls the young southerner out on his lie but other than a grunt he gives no verbal response. Sprawled in the chair, dark eyes track the older man, or more truthfully, his bottle that Keane still has a hold of, back to the desk and then his eyes narrow in response to his words on having had to set one of his men straight. “Stupid bastard saw fit to defy one of my trainers so I gave him a lesson in manners.” Yeah, and put him out of action for the next three or four months while he was at it. The kit nudged toward him is eyed as warily as if it might contain a tunnelsnake and then Max leans forward and drags it closer to him but doesn’t open it just yet, eyes dropping pointedly to his bottle that the tavern owner is keeping close to him. A soft snort is uttered for the type of greeting sent in return to the Headwoman and for the first time since his arrival some of the bravado drops off and he gives a small shake of head to her knowing his whereabouts, “Nope.” And then his dark gaze shadowed with wounds that are not visible to the naked eye lifts briefly from the aid kit and touches on Keane. “She’d just ask too many questions.” Tone so low, the words are barely audible.

When Max eyes his knife collection, “I used to make knives growing up,” Keane explains to him, nodding towards the neat row set up. Not much in his bedchamber has changed since Indira last seen it. Maps still hung on one side of the wall. The place still looked cleaned despite its small size of the room. Max talks about the incident and the bar owner nods once, still not looking too convinced but was willing to go with it. “Looks like he was giving you a lesson, too,” he notes by the damage seen and when Max looks towards the bottle set at his side he adds with a touch of wryness, “Thirsty?” He doesn’t look surprised to hear that Indira has no clue, and so he takes a long pause, willing to watch the crimelord with the aid kit before idly noting, “You know, we bar owners are good for … you know, keeping words to ourselves. Dispensing words, in return.” He could tell that Max was pissed about something, but he wasn’t sure what. He wasn’t one to drag things out of his patrons, either – not through words nor drink. Likely why he took the bottle away, too. So the words was opening, the man looking in anticipation towards Max to both start patching himself up and perhaps to indulge him in what was really eating him.

Despite his sour mood, interest peaks at the comment made and his eyes go back to the knives on display, “You still do it?” Dark eyes track back again and hold to Keane for a moment before they drop off and Max finally opens the medical kit, keeping his attention cast downward as he unpacks the redwort, cotton wadding and numbweed. On the question of being thirsty, he gives a faint shake of head, finally realizing that going on a bender right now wasn’t going to solve anything. Tipping redwort onto some of the wadding his hands still in their action of cleaning the grazes across his knuckles and he glances upward as Keane speaks to the merits and benefits of being a barkeep, then it drops back down once again, he not having said a word yet. And then, setting the wadding aside he closes a hand into a fist and then opens it again, silent a few moments longer before he finally states heavily, “I fucked up.” A confession that the young man clearly finds hard to give and then tossing the wadding away from himself angrily the words start to spill out, “What was I supposed to do, huh? Just leave it and make like it never happened? All’s I asked was that she be careful what she says to the likes of Rad and…” Words cut off abruptly and he lifts a hand, palming it out over his face and then wincing as it moves over the bruise purpling on the side of his head. “Maybe that ‘master of hers was right, walkers and ‘riders ain’t a good match.”

“Got apprenticed to a natural knife maker when I traveled with some traders,” Keane explains, turning to reach for a glass and another bottle sitting nearby. “It’s how I got involved with crimelords in the first place. Haven’t done it in turns,” he goes on to say as he pours himself a glass of deep red liquid from the bottle, taking his time as he speaks, “but you never forget. Just one of those things.” Catching the interest then when he meets Max’s gaze, “You’ve done it before?” he asks, watching the crimelord with the medical kit with approval. He falls silent when Max does, swirling the contents in his glass idly now as he leans back in his comfy chair. It’s only when Max opens up that there’s reaction from him – a raised brow, mostly, choosing not to interrupt him until he is completely finished. There’s no judgement in his eyes – no anger – there’s a hint of concern, however, for the bruises he sees, connecting them to the contents of his words. “Kelarad?” he picks the Tillekian’s name up, the other brow lifting. “You talked to your girl,” he surmises, taking a drink. “I take it, it didn’t go well.” Frowning a little at the last then, he adds in a grunt, “Best you start from the beginning, eh?” wanting to hear the full story while nursing his nightcap.

That interest lingers as Keane explains further about the knives and his talent for making them, a wry look appearing for it being how he got involved with the underbelly of Pern and then Max gives a shake of head to having tried his hand at making such a weapon. “Naw, ain’t got the patience for it,” which is apparently different to the patience he has with unruly runners, and then he adds, “but I know a good weapon when I see one. Know a good few too that would buy them off you if ever decided to go back to it.” The topic having loosened his tongue. And as much as he’d responded in the negative to being thirsty, dark eyes do stray to the drink Keane pours himself and then are forced away again. It’s the next that has him dropping back to brooding silence as he dabs numbweed over his knuckles, breaking it when he utters a low spoken, “Aye,” to having spoken to Ahnika. Flexing his hands as the unguent starts to take effect he leans back in his chair and sets the older man with a long look either trying to collect his thoughts or deciding whether or not he really wanted to go down that rabbit hole of misunderstandings and hurt. Eventually a sigh exhales and in wooden tone he gives brief recount. “Went up to Tillek first to see for myself just how pissed Rad was, smoothed things over with him and then…” lips twist together and he then continues, “I wasn’t going to bring it up when I did but she gave me an opening so…I took it. She got real pissed, real quick. Started saying I was choosing my work over her, that I trusted Rad’s word over hers and was accusing her of being disloyal and of betraying me. Said I’d changed, that I no longer cared for her…or my family and friends.” There he stops a moment and gives a slow shake of head, swallowing and looking away to the maps on the walls. “She said that…she didn’t think it was worth it…anymore,” voice low and then he turns a hollow look over to the older man. “I tried, Keane. I really tried to make her see that none of that were true, that I was only worried for how things might be taken up the wrong way like Rad had. Went back two more times to try and make right and…got more of the same. Even that sharding dragon of hers got in on the act, said I was abandoning her. I just…I don’t know anymore. What the fuck does she want from me?”

Nodding on knives, his eyes falling on them, “Been thinking about going back to it,” Keane considers, “at least for a little. Bar’s top priority. Knife making does take a lot of patience, though.” When Max strays to watching the drink he holds, he lifts the glass and adds in, “Want your bottle back? Seemed like you already had your fill for the night…unless you want to crawls yourself out of this bar and back towards southern.” Smirk. He silences on the matter of Ahnika, his frown lingering through the words that pour from the crimelord’s mouth. Considering his own thoughts on the matter as it gets laid down, “Becoming crimelord, leading renegades,” he states slowly, choosing his words carefully as his eyes stray from Max, “…it’s not like deciding to tend beasts, or light glows. It’s not something that you can just pick up and drop whenever the whim takes you. Isn’t ‘work’, and Lorien can tell you that,” noting the Telgari crimelord. “She’s looking at it the wrong way. Becoming leader’s like…Impressing, I’d imagine,” he casts about for a comparison, trying to find the best he could think of at the moment. “You Impress…you can’t just decide you don’t want to be a dragonrider anymore the next morning. Same thing. Youmay decide not to be crimelord tomorrow,” and he points his glass Max’s way, “but it takes time for the rest of Pern to catch up and agree.” Pausing, shaking his head then, “I warned you about how involved a woman needs to be in this,” he says then, recalling their last conversation with a serious air. “It wasn’t going to be easy on the two of you either way. It would take sacrifices on both sides. Perhaps…she wanted you to go back to the way you were before you became crimelord,” he chooses the answer the last now, sending a look across his desk. “Seems like so. Regane reacted the same after a long while. Wouldn’t be surprised if that was what she’s after, but, it doesn’t seem fair to accuse you of not caring for the people in your life from this.” Peering at Max from his glass then, “Question is, where does that leave you?” he asks with interest. “Would you be content being a beast manager once more, giving up the path that you chose?”

Eyeing his bottle hungrily as Keane offers it back, the young crimelord’s jaw works as he seems to battle a demon within and then he gives a shake of head, “No.” Determined to try and ride this one out with a clear head, or as clear a head as he’d been left with since leaving his home continent. As the older man starts to dispense his advice, so the younger drops silent, a heavy frown creasing his brows together as he nods his understanding here and there to what gets said. He doesn’t however give immediate answer, turning instead to applying a blob of numbweed to the side of his head in the hopes of staving off the mother of all headaches that has started to form. Reaching for a clean piece of wadding he wipes his fingers clean and gives another shake of head as he states firmly, “I ain’t giving it up.” Answering to the last first, “It’s like you say, this ain’t some sort of child’s game where you just kick the ball aside and walk away when you grow tired of it. There’s too many counting on me to do so.” And then a soft snort precedes his reply on him going back to the way he was before having taken on the mantle of crimelord. “Or maybe this is who I’ve always been,” spoken in a sardonic tone. A sigh follows that and he leans back in his chair again, “The mistake is mine for having led her to believe I was something I’m not.” At least he can admit that much and then he looks away dropping quiet a moment before he addresses the matter of how involved one’s woman should be in things, “What choice did I have, Keane? She’s too smart for me to have kept something like this from her. And I knew it weren’t going to be easy but she don’t seem prepared to meet me halfway. Try to understand how things work out here. How every move we make is being watched with men just waiting for opportunity and reason to put a knife in our backs.” And then he goes back to the path he now walks, “She sees the choices I made as having chosen position and power over her even although I could argue the same with her having chosen to Stand when I knew how it would change things if she impressed.” Lips thin in a show of frustration and Max stands moving over to where the maps hang, studying them he gives quietly, “She’s better off without me in her life to complicate things. She needs to be amongst her own kind, find someone with the honour,” pausing and adding in a gruff tone that speaks to just how deeply it pains him to say, “that I obviously lack in her eyes.”

Appearing to approve of Max’s will to withstand further drink, “I have a spiced redfruit blend from Jaya’s bar that won’t degenerate you any further,” Keane offers then, it having to be the very drink he was drinking. “It’s quite good.” He’s also openly approving of Max sticking with the path he’s taking, nodding a few times to that determination seen in the young man’s eyes as he states “Something you’re not. What was that?” He’s not very versed in Max’s past, only knowing what all his mother or Jaya has mentioned to him in the last turn. In regards to the greenrider, he shakes his head immediately to the question put to him and answers, “Not what I meant. I’m sure you told her what needs to be told in this business. It is her choice, however, to choose whether to invite that kind of life into hers or not, Max.” Leaning forward, his fingers lacing together, “It’s one thing if she was some tradergirl or a holdless woman with no attachments, but she’s a dragonrider. Business like this one could spell trouble for her and hers. She has her dragon to think about, and while I disagree on the notion of a dragonrider and a non-dragonrider not being able to work things out, it’s slightly different when that non-dragonrider happens to be make himself leader of a renegade organization,” and he pins a look to that one. “Compromises would have to be made. Sacrifices. She would have had to concede to how business is run, and risk dragonrider morality in the balance, whereas you would have to risk the fact that she and her dragon may not come back each time they meet Thread. Both positions are rife with risks, and it takes a certain level of….ahh, determination? Ambition? - to keep a relationship of the sort going. Perhaps she’s not ready for that. Perhaps you are not. Maybe not now, or ever.” He’s dropping the point, giving honest opinion on the matter – it having been points of conflict with he and his own late wife. On further words, he nods and says, “I can understand, from where she stands….I can see where she’s coming from. It’s not something she signed on from, and very well, you can say the same in regards to her agreeing to stand. However, there’s no one to blame here, son,” he notes, shaking his head slowly. “This is how life is. We make choices. Sometimes those very choices take us down different paths we never meant to walk, and sometimes, those choices require those with us to either walk that same path, or move on to follow their own.” He pauses to let that sink in. “She’s not in the wrong, and neither are you. You both made your choices. How you choose to live with those choices? That is what determines whether the path you both are on will be the same.” Leaning back now, regarding the man steadily for his last as Max moves to his maps, “Ain’t my place to tell you if being with her is worth it or not,” he grunts, sitting back in his seat with his drink still in hand. “’M not exactly partial to dragonrriders and their kind, either. Have too many with sticks up their asses for my liking. If she’s one of those types, then it’s possible she’ll never understand your business, Max. We’re criminals to those kind. Wouldn’t be fair to have her turn a blind eye to the sort of business you’re dealing, nor would it be fair for you to play the Weyr’s game just to not ruffle any feathers. There will come a time when you’ll have to make dangerous decisions that neither you nor a dragonrider’s not going to like.”

The very faintest trace of amusement filters into dark eyes when Keane reveals that it is indeed a redfruit blend he’s drinking and not an alcoholic beverage as Max had assumed and so he gives a grateful nod of head, “Sounds good.” Lifting fingers to rub at his temple as at least the external throbbing starts to let up he listens in silence. Every passing word coming from the older man weighing heavily on his mind until eventually both expression and body language speak to it in the form of the grim expression he wears and the way in which his shoulders slump slightly. Silent for a long time after the last words have faded on the air, unable to deny what has been said, he finally speaks. “You ain’t wrong,” the young crimelord gives quietly, “She ain’t cut out for this kind of life and it ain’t fair of me to ask her to risk herself, her values, her dragon, or…her duties to the Weyr for something she don’t understand and didn’t sign on for.” Yes, he calls the Weyr home too, but he’s not bound to like the greenrider is. Slowly he turns from the maps, meeting that look from Keane dead on and then his jaw tightens as the reality of his situation sinks in, “I shoulda known better. Broke my own code with her. I just thought that maybe…” A frustrated sound spills out and he doesn’t complete his sentence, unable to voice the fact that the hopes and dreams he’d harboured with regards to Ahnika and himself were proving to be little more than wishful thinking. And so he returns to his chair and sprawls into it with a heavy sigh as his head drops back and dark eyes fix to the ceiling, his mind a dark morass of thought and emotion as he slowly starts to accept the inevitable. “I failed her. I failed us…she deserved…” better, but the word never makes it out for he’s having to swallow hard lest he make a complete fool of himself in front of a man he’s come to highly respect. “Could do with that juice now,” he croaks out. He could do with a crate of the hard tack in which to drown his sorrows but that’s now a moot point.

Keane doesn’t set to pouring just yet. Focusing more on the topic at hand since it seems to weigh heavily on the young crimelord, “Can’t blame yourself for paths taken, son,” the bar owner states grimly, staring the man down. “Like I said, you both made choices here. If you weren’t dealing with this business,” and he raps fingers on the desk, “you would be dealing with hers in dragonriding. Standing is a big decision, and one not to be taken lightly, I hear.” Withdrawing his fingers then, not looking to be in agreement to Max’s words on failing as he grunts, “And she didn’t fail you by agreeing to be searched, thus, Impressed?” Excuse him, he’s biased, if the infrequency of dragonriders to his bar is any indication. Must be a criminal thing. Now he reaches for another glass, setting it before Max and moves to pour the spiced blend into the glass in the silence. “Look,” he states, settling back into his chair. “Both of you made big decisions. You can’t fault one without the other here. The problem here isn’t who’s at fault. It’s how much the both of you are willing to sacrifice and compromise with the other if this was meant to be as such. After all,” and he raises his glass as if in a toast now, “the two of you are young,” especially in comparison to himself. “A lot can happen in the next several turns, and if you and your lady can’t get past decisions made like this?” He pauses, shaking his head without leaving Max’s gaze. “You young ones speak of eternal love and how nothing can come in between you. I tend to take on a more realistic approach to things after the life I’ve lived,” he notes with a touch of wryness. “I say that to say this: forever doesn’t happen often, son. When it’s meant to be, you’ll know. You can become the crimelord of the whole northern continent and the woman could become the weyrwoman of Pern, and it wouldn’t matter one bit. There’s no argument. You do what you have to. Choices make or break you, and those willing to stick around for the ugly times along with the good? Those are the ones you want to stick around for good.” The filled glass goes Max’s way across the desk then. “Think about it.”

Again, dropping to silence as Keane speaks, the young crimelord’s mouth presses into an discontented line, not liking what he’s hearing but again, unable to refute the wisdom of the older man. Leaning forward he takes up the glass poured for him and stares down into the rich red liquid. On sacrifices that he would have been willing to make; “I would have given my life for her,” he eventually states quietly and then glances up, “But she made it clear she doesn’t want my protection.” Or so that’s how he’d interpreted Ahnika’s response about Jhath being there for her when he’d expressed his concern for her safety if she was going to continue to rile the wrong people up without pause for thought. At last he takes a drink and then lets out a sigh, “Aye, you’re right.” He doesn’t say to what in particular but the chances are good that it’s an all encompassing statement. “Thank you,” that too is spoken low as weariness suddenly hits in hard and then he adds with the faintest trace of a wry smile, “I see now what Ma sees in you.” Strength of character, stability and the kind of wisdom that only years of experience afford a man but he doesn’t elaborate and leaves it unsaid.

Keane could tell his words were starting to get through to him. What tension that was left leaves his frame at Max’s initial words, he clears his throat before draining his glass and setting it audibly down before him. “Such sacrifices don’t work when it’s one-sided,” he states idly, nodding once. Smiling a bit then, “You’re young, Max,” he notes then with a touch of wryness. “You’re going to run into heartbreak and loss, and so will she, but it’s not the end of the world. May seem like it right now…” and he nods towards those injuries and the bottle Max had brought in with him, guessing that the fight had something to do with such heartbreak. He nods once to the thanks, going quiet as he lets the last of his words sink in for the young crimelord. It’s only at the last that he speaks – laughter rumbling up on what Max now sees in him in regards to his mother before stating, “An old man that has had far too much time thinking over his own mistakes?” in amusement, rocking his chair back as he settles his clasped hands over his abdomen.

Taking another drink from his glass, dark eyes lift at Keane’s comment and he sets a long look onto the older man before giving a shake of head for the heartbreak and loss he is yet to still experience. “Never again,” he vows in grim tone, expression hardening, survival instinct kicking in as walls of self-preservation start to come back up. Walls he’d let down when he’d let Ahnika in. His hands are given a cursory glance, gaze lingering on his knuckles when Keane makes note of his injuries and Max is quiet yet longer before lifting his gaze, “You got kids?” Perhaps an odd question but given the recent events and his apparent inability to master his personal life, the young crimelord is starting to question all other aspects of his life too, including fatherhood. To barkeep’s last one corner of his mouth threatens toward a smile and then drops back down again without it having come to fruition. Instead he lifts his glass of juice as if in toast, “To living long enough to learn how to avoid stop stepping on my own dick,” sardonic at best.

When Max speaks those two words, it’s almost as if Keane could see his heart hardening outside of his chest. Pausing long, contemplating what he sees in the young crimelord’s eyes, “Said the same until I met your mother,” he notes quietly, idly, in a grin tone. “After my wife, when she died…” He doesn’t finish that thought, it perhaps still weighing heavily on his conscience. It’s unexpected the question Max puts to him, the bar owner frowning and appearing taken aback for a moment before answering with “I might, running around. Officially, no. The one Regane and I had died within days of his birth. Never had a chance to again with business being the way that it was. Perhaps she resented me for it. I’ll never know, now.” The question brings note though, for he frowns a fraction at him and now asks, “Yourself?” When there’s that toast to be made, there was low laughter before he reaches forward with his own empty glass and clinks it with Max’s own. “Let me know how that goes for you,” he returns with faint amusement, the wink far too quick to be caught. Once the glass is set down then, Keane looks Max over in pause before saying, “You’ll be alright, son. You’re made from the same stuff as your mother, so long as you keep yourself intact,” he brings up the injuries, smirking. Leaning forward, “So how did you really get those, hmm?” he asks now, nodding to those bruised knuckles. “You don’t strike me as the type to beat up on women, so…”

Heavily guarded his gaze as it rests on Keane for a moment and then Max looks away. He makes no comment to the man having said the same himself, simply giving a nod to whatever it is the barkeep and the Headwoman have together. Words when spoken are directed to the man’s loss with sincerity, “Sorry about your wife.” A frown forms when Keane answers the question put to him, stating that his son had died shortly after birth and he shakes his head at the unfairness of life, or the cruel loss of it, “How’d you deal with it?” And then quickly adding, “You don’t have to answer that, it ain’t none of my business.” To whether or not he has a child, he gives a brief nod, that frown still lingering, “Aye, a daughter.” Glass clinks against glass and Max can’t help the faint smirk that arrives for Keane’s quip as he downs the rest of his drink. Then his free hand lifts and rubs at the back of his neck with just the briefest narrowing of eyes when once again he’s asked about his injuries, “I ain’t never hit a woman.” And then he relents with a puff of air escaping his battered mouth, “One of my fighters decided to deck first my trainer and then me, when I called an end to his sparring session.” Here he pauses and a rueful look passes across his face, “Put him down harder than I meant to.” In other words, he lost his temper.

“I’ve made my peace,” Keane gives for his condolences on his wife, his head a little bowed as he moves to refill his glass. In fact, this answer seems to be in response to how he dealt with losing his son, too, but he adds, “It’s alright. How did I deal with that? Wrongly.” Leaning back and sighing into his glass for a moment, “Went deeper into my business. Left Regane alone a lot of those days. Think I should have been around her more, but, at that time I guess I felt like she had something to do with his dying, see,” he admits honestly with a frown. “Not a good way to mourn the loss of your son, and I think she resented me for that ever since. She deserved better than what I gave her. She was never into the life and the underground I was dealing in, and a part of me’s still convinced that I had something to do with her resulting sickness.” He gets to his feet then with his drink, slowly approaching his wall of maps with his back to Max as he mentions that he has a daughter. “Is she with you?” he asks then, not having heard of a child with Indira. His back remains against him when the crimelord speaks of the origins of his injuries, the unseen smirk appearing as he studies his maps before tossing back, “Knocked out, in other words. Looks like you still have some fight in you left from your days in Tillek, hmm?” he asks wryly. “Rad tells me that he’s planning some important games. I suppose you were planning to get involved, then?”

Grateful to have the focus off of him for a bit, Max listens in silence as the older man talks, a frown lingering for his heartache and losses and then he lets out a sigh and nods, “Aye, I reckon it ain’t for Ahnika either.” Judging by their last few encounters as he finally understands what it is that Keane has been cautioning him over, much as he wishes it were otherwise. “She musta been some woman,” he then states quietly and clarifies by adding, “to have stayed anyways.” Dark eyes follow the old barkeep as he gets to his feet and the young crimelord gives a small and likely unseen shake of head on the question of his daughter being with him, “Not yet, but soon.” Is all he gives on the matter and then a regretful expression once again crosses his features on the matter of his fighter, “Out of action for a few month to come.” As to the upcoming games, “We’ll be putting two of our best into the mix.” His decision already made a faint smirk appears and then is quickly slipped behind a bland mask. “You have an interest in the fights?” interest peaking as he tries to learn more about the criminal barkeep.

Eyes on his maps, “Regane was a grave and steady woman,” Keane seems to agree, his chin lifting with long-forgotten pride. “She was the sort that could have ruled this underground business well, if she wanted.” Chin dropping then, “It wasn’t her way, and I was the fool for pushing it on her.” Much left unsaid, the man falls into a somber silence before clearing his throat and letting his gaze move to the side of him when max answers on his daughter. He looks as if to ask more, his eyes narrowing at the mystery of that answer before, for now, letting the matter rest. Keane was the patient sort. Turning to face the young crimelord on this easier topic – something that doesn’t delve into the pains of the past – “I have an interest in the fights,” he answers with a bit of amusement, nodding. “Got into them after Regane’s death. She didn’t like me spending hard earned marks on the wagering,” and he laughs at the memories of her angry face whenever he came home a few marks shorter than when he left. “Now, it’s going to take the end of Thread for good to get me to stop.” Returning back to the desk, “Kelarad and I have a, uh, working relationship with the fights,” he confides then, dropping into his seat. “Some of it is me getting my patrons here hyped up about the fights. I get a cut for those that show up. Get extra if any of them wager on the fighters. A few of the other crimelords have the same working relationship too, more or less.”

“Rough business for a woman to get into,” Max comments lending his understanding to how difficult it must have been for Keane’s wife and then more quietly, “You did what you thought best at the time, Keane. As you said, she too made her choices, aye?” The young pup reminding the older dog of his sage words just recently spoken. Given the delicate nature of the situation currently surrounding his daughter, the young crimelord is grateful to let the matter rest for the time being. However, for the first time that night a faint but true smile crooks out curving the undamaged side of his mouth upward. “Wouldn’t have had you staked for a betting man,” approval sitting in his tone. Light amusement sparks dark eyes for some or other reason as the barkeep touches on the nature of the deal he and Kelarad have with regards to the fight circuits. “I give my word that the south shall not disappoint and is sure to bring a surprise or two of its own to the games.” For a moment that amusement deepens turning slightly sly before its stowed away behind an unreadable mask.

Keane grunts his agreement to women getting involved, though he does add in behind Max’s response, “There are those few that are bred for it. Most aren’t I know that now.” It’s the best reassurances that he gives on his own long-gone issues, turning to the easier topic of the fights with a more jovial air. Setting his glass down, “Didn’t start out that way,” he states to being a betting man, the smile warm. “Dabbled a bit when I was around your age. Preferred to spend my earnings on wooing women more, in those days,” he confides with a shallow wink. He looks pleased at hearing Max’s vow on southern’s contribution to the games, his amusement strong as he sends over wryly, “I look forward to it. Harvis of Ista and Jorro of Fort are sending over some of their own too, though naturally, Tillek owns some of the best fighters in Pern.” And speaking of the northern crimelords, “Have you gotten around to meeting the lot of them yet?” he asks on impulse, curious.

A sigh exhales and Max gives a nod to what Keane says of most women not being cut out for the kind of lifestyle they lead. “No one can fault us for trying, aye?” to have the semblance of a personal life outside of criminal activities for they are only human after all and just as much in need of love and support as the next man. But that is neither here nor there now. Wry the look the older man gets sent now on the matter of wooing women, “Ain’t never tried to buy a woman’s attentions and ain’t about to start now.” He obviously seeing any gifts bestowed on Ahnika during their time together as being an entirely separate issue. Smirking with a margin of cockiness leaking into his tone on the matter of Tillek producing some of Pern’s best fighters, “All things change in time.” Though he does look interested when the names of the other crimelords that will have men in the games are spoken for up until now he’d been somewhat in the dark on where his competition might come from. A shake of head precedes his next, “Not yet. Heading up to Ista in a day or so to meet with Harvis. Figured I might leave earlier than expected. Take some time before making contact with him and…get my head straight again.” Ah, so he does listen when advice is offered out then.

Smiling a bit and slowly shaking his head, “No, no one can,” Keane agrees to the first in a tone that show the turns of his age. He moves to drain his glass then, nearly coughing into it as something said on women’s attentions set him to laughing. “Women I chased in those days loved the good wine,” he gives wryly on the matter, not sounding the least bit apologetic. That smirk lingers on through the topic of the fights, a brow lifting at Max’s cockiness and snorting. “You boys always trying to one-up each other,” he drawls out in mock sternness, knowing full well that he was the same at Max’s age. When he gets his answers on meeting the other crimelords, the bar owner nods a few times in approval of his words. “Harvis is a good man,” he notes, nodding. “You’ll find him better company than even Kelarad. I think it’s good you’re taking time to get your head all sorted out though. Don’t want to be dealing in business with your mind all cloudy. Might help to stay out of a few fights while you’re at it, too,” he tacks on, one corner of his mouth lifting.

Setting aside the more painful topics that had been under discussion Max can’t help the snicker that forms at Keane’s words, “So that was your game plan, huh? Get ‘em liquored up so that they couldn’t run anymore and fell into your bed?” Teasing as he stops short of asking how that one worked when it came to his mother because no offspring really wants to hear about the sexual escapades of their parents, right? Hands then lift in a gesture of being caught out and the younger man shrugs, a crooked grin falling into place, “A necessary part of sorting the men from the boys, aye?” Not the least bit apologetic or fazed by the stern look the barkeep affects. Once again interest peaks when the nature of the Istan crimelord is touched, “Better’n Rad, huh? What? He got himself a bevy of naked serving girls down there or something?” To taking time to clear his head there comes a nod to staying out of fights however, little more than a smirk precedes his words, “I ain’t gonna make a promise I ain’t gonna keep.” Grin. The young crimelord looking to be getting back to his normal self and a far cry from the broken young man that had stumbled into the Blood and Bucket. Or is he?

Laughing aloud, “Liquored up?” Keane echoes companionably. “You mean the other way around! I didn’t give women any power over me in those days. Still not even sure how Regane had caught me.” Yeah, perhaps it’s good that Max doesn’t ask after his and Indira’s relationship. He’ll certain hear some things that might scar him for life! On the Istan crimelord, the bar owner setting his glass aside now at the question, he shrugs a bit and says, “Naked serving girls? Yeah, I doubt that,” and there’s an amused look being sent Max’s way as he says it. “Kelarad would have that more than him. Naw, he’s just better to deal with overall. Likes to see both sides of an issue – something that most crimelords don’t.” On fights, the response gets more laughter and he shakes his head at it. “Just keep your ass in one piece, at least,” he notes then, conceding to that. At least, from what he was seeing, Max was starting to get back to his old self – which was something a barkeep was good at doing. Keane has had plenty of his patrons come in, looking for a moment to gather their thoughts and vent.

Chuckling Max rubs his fingers to his forehead and gives wryly on how men will often find themselves captured, “Some women just have a way about ‘em, aye?” An amused snort is uttered as he starts gathering together the bits and pieces he’d used from the aid kit and clearing them away, “Waine sure looked pleased with himself the last time we was up there.” So perhaps there had indeed been naked serving girls about the Tillekian crimelord and he’d simply…not noticed them? Not likely. “Sees both sides of the mark, eh?” it clear that he’s filing that information on the Istan away. Standing just as Keane comments on him keeping his ass in one piece, the southerner makes a show of twisting about to try and see it and then gives a crooked smile, “Yessir.” With that he moves away from the desk and the chair he’d recently vacated, “Time I took my sorry ass home and got things sorted before I head out again.” And there he pauses looking a little awkward before giving with sincerity, “Thanks for…you know…” listening to him and dispensing some very sage advice.

“That must be it,” Keane agrees to the first with an incline of his head. He even snorts on the account of Waine, shaking his head before commenting on Harvis, “It’s good to have someone that can see like that in this business. Too many turncoats that will turn you this way and that, son. Anyway, though,” and he gets to his feet, fatigue from the day’s work starting to set in his eyes when Max stands. To those awkward words of thanks, the man stares at him for a moment before inclining his head again briefly with a warm smile and grunting, “It’s what I do. Anytime, Max. Now go on,” and he nods to the door, the smile more wry now. “Get your ass on home, crimelord.”

“Always good to know which are worth attempting to form an alliance with, and which aren’t,” Max replies on Harvis. Taking note of the weariness in the older man’s eyes, the younger holds his gaze for a moment and then tentatively returns the warm smile as he moves toward the door. Pausing with his hand on doorknob he turns a look back onto Keane, “This…stays between you and me, aye? Ma, she…don’t need to know about it.” Even although he knows full well the Headwoman is likely to find out, he’d rather not face her just yet. Turning the knob and opening the door, shoulders set to a determined line and his face to set to the unreadable mask that will be presented to the world beyond, “’Til next we meet.” And then the slightly battered young crimelord is gone, off to confront whatever next life has in store for him.

“If ever you need advice on them,” Keane notes on the northern crimelords, nodding once. With the amount of information that comes in and out of the bar, he hears more than he should on them. “Doesn’t hurt to have a leg-up.” When Max mentions to keep the meeting between them and leave Indira out of it, the bar owner pauses, hesitating. He’s not comfortable with having to hold things from the Headwoman this early in their relationship, but after regarding his face, “I’ll hold it out, though she’ll likely figure it out on her own eventually,” knowing the nature of how she runs things on her end. At that moment, he could see how alike mother and son really was, and it amused him. Then he watches the man leave, nodding his farewell to those parting words, and only sending to his back, “Stay strong.” It’s only when he’s alone that he stares after the door for a moment longer, the conversation having stirred up old memories long buried, before he sighs deeply and finally turns to shut down for the night.



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