Worth The Risk


Indira.jpg Jaya.jpg Shijan.jpg Jillen (NPC'd by Indira)

Date: Jan. 7, 2011
Location: Bar and Headwoman's Office, EW
Synopsis: Jaya wakes to find her bodyguard replaced. The confrontation with the Headwoman who had made this change turns out to be…not so much when a mutual understanding is actually reached. It's even reached without whiskey involved.
Rating: PG-13
Logger: Jaya

Days have passed. Days of Jaya focusing only on her bar and catching up on the things missed while she was gone. This morning was no different from the last: get up, wash up, clean up, take in a quick jog on the shore (something she's taken up recently since before the retreat) and then settle in at her bar and wait for the usuals to walk in. Shijan would come in first as always, then Suli, and then Hayli. It was routine. It was normal.

Jaya knew something was not right this morning when Shijan hadn't pitched up at the time he usually did. Her hair damp from the baths, she's halfway through running over the lists for the day when her gaze keeps going towards the very empty entrance. She was used to the bar being too quiet and almost eerie-like during this time of the morning, and so a part of her expects that silence broken at a certain time. Being that their budding relationship wasn't known to anyone, the barkeep was hoping the tall bodyguard would show up early to get some personal time in with him before Suli and Hayli showed. Not anything purely physically, but at least some words, maybe a kiss, a touch…

Footfalls herald the approach of another, with a tread of stride shorter spanned and not as light as that of Shijan’s. Which considering the shaggy haired blonde man that steps across the threshold to the bar is no surprise. Not the former harper but rather, the replacement that the Headwoman had said she would send in his stead. Hazel eyes and a vaguely arrogant cast to his features Jillen takes but a second to take in the area before he’s sauntering up to Jaya, all beach boy smiles and charm in place, “You must be my new…” eyes rake openly up and down the woman’s curvaceous frame, “hobby.” Smirk.

As to Shijan? He’s nowhere to be seen. Yet.

Jaya’s learned the heaviness (or lack of) of the former harper’s steps enough to know that he was not the one coming down the hallway and entering her bar. Not used to getting visitors this early in the morning, the barkeep looks over as the shaggy blonde head appears and gets her focus. Eyes flick over the man, trying to recall if she should know who he is or not, and not finding any point of reference, “Morning, stranger,” she puts on a neutral greeting, schooling her features from the disappointment felt at him not being Shijan into the usual cool mask she has for the rest of Pern. Keeping the counter in between them as he approaches her, “What can I-“ and all stops at what he says, and the way he rakes his eyes over her with a blank expression. Blinking once, her writing stylus pausing over a correction she was making, “Come again?” she asks, thinking the small hours of sleep she’s been getting lately to be the culprit to what she was had just heard and seen. Her dark gaze takes him in slowly, not matching his smirk as she waits for him to explain himself to her.

Jillen’s mannerisms tend to have one of two reactions. Silly young things swooning at his feet or…just exactly the one given out by Jaya. As such, hazel eyes give an exaggerated roll and he sets an overly patient and slightly condescending look onto the barkeep, “Shijan’s off the job. Indira sent me to uh…” his gaze dropping to her shapely chest as if drawn by a magnet, “watch over your body. Jillen’s the name.” Attention finally dragging up to her face. In other words, he’s her new bodyguard and apparently rather liking the body he’s supposed to be guarding. Cue one former harper, and recently sacked bodyguard who upon clapping eyes on the blonde beach bum type giving his woman the once over, stalks into the bar looking like he hasn’t slept a wink and fit to burst a blood vessel. Lips curl back in a lights snarl, hawk eyes chipping to flint, “You!” The word snapped out, all his focus going to his replacement as if in doing so he could summon lightning to strike Jillen down there and then.

At first Jaya couldn’t register what she had heard. She knows she heard something about Shijan, and watching, and Jillen … But when it does register, that cool mask cracks away long enough to have her eyes widening a fraction and her hold on her writing stylus to nearly snap it in two. “What?” that one word is spoken calmly – too calmly, really – enough to almost miss the dangerous edge that enters her voice. Eyes then narrow when the man called Jillen takes a gander at her chest, meeting his gaze with her lips parting and preparing to lash out questions at him at this sudden change. Who would —? Indira. That’s when Shijan comes in, looking about as much the same as she was at that moment as she starts coming around the counter to approach the men. Having mapped the former harper so well by now, she picks up on the cut on his head with a frown, but for now Jillen has gotten the brunt of her attention. After Shijan’s cry, “What do you mean ‘Shijan’s off the job’?” she demands then, stepping forward in a near-threatening gesture. “I didn’t make any changes to get another bodyguard, so who the fuck are you?” In walks Suli at that moment, the sleep gone from her eyes and taking in this scene like a hawk to food. She says nothing of course, edging herself in and keeping as much to the background as possible as she slowly heads towards the storeroom with her eyes glued to the three of them.

Jillen’s not in on the exact reason why he was suddenly to be taking over from the teak skinned bodyguard but there’s enough telling information coming from both the barkeep and her former bodyguard by their reactions alone to at least cobble taunting insult together and fling it out there. And so he ignores the dangerous edge to Jaya’s voice, even the unspoken threat coming from Shijan when he arrives and inserts himself. A dramatic sigh is given, hazel eyes flicking over to the taller man, “You know, you really should learn to keep your hands out of the cookie jar, Shijan.” Never mind the lecherous looks and words he’d just handed over to Jaya himself. Turning back to the woman herself, that smirk still in place, “We work for Indira, sweetcheeks, not you. So Indira will do as she sees fit.” Pausing and adding as the smirk deepens, “And she sees me as…fit.” All kinds of innuendo set into his tone. “He’s out,” a jerk of thumb in the silently fuming Shijan’s direction, “And I’m in.” Simple see? Of course that has the former harper taking another threatening step closer, Suli’s arrival either missed or simply ignored for the time being. Jaya’s glance to the cut on his temple at first doesn’t register. It does however have the effect of drawing his focus briefly onto her, coal black eyes heavily shadowed and guarded searching her face as if he could mentally convey that he was just as unhappy with the situation but not in a position to be able to do anything about it. Not with blackmail hanging over his head. And then without uttering another word he steps back and away, heading for the door in grim silence.

This cannot be happening. Jaya’s eyes fall and remain on Shijan through Jillen’s words for the both of them, open disbelief in her gaze. With Shijan taking a step forward and guardedly looking her way, she searches his face and regards him in silence before starts to head out of the bar. “No, wait!” That loosens Jaya’s tongue, seeing Shijan turn to leave, the young woman springing into action. She tries to grab his arm, his sleeve, anything to stop him, ignoring both the ‘new’ bodyguard and the Telgari barmaid hanging in the background watching the scene unfold. She’ll likely miss catching him, and if doing so, she’ll watch Shijan leave the bar before her disbelief and shock finally gives way to open anger. Such anger easily fueled by a Dicori temper long-used, the barkeep turning this on Jillen with her dark eyes blazing. To him, “I suppose the Headwoman’s in her office right now?” she asks, even though she knows. In fact, she’ll put action to words, too. Tossing over her shoulder now towards Suli and finally acknowledging that she was there, “Suli, prep up with Hayli for me,” Jaya keeps her hardened gaze on Jillen as if he was the one coming in between herself and her real bodyguard as she adds to him now, “You? Stay here if you want your limbs to stay intact.” With that, she’s heading out of the bar with every intention of catching up to Shijan if she can and from there, catching up with Indira.

It was clearly time to make her report.

Jaya does indeed miss catching Shijan’s sleeve, or at most her fingers graze across the fabric but aren’t enough to gain purchase and thus bring him to a halt. And so by the time she’s turning her anger onto Jillen, the former harper is gone from view. As to Jillen? He simply regards the dark haired woman’s rising temper with amusement, “Feisty!” Given with a leering smirk of approval and then adding crass comment to the mix, “No wonder he put his cock on the block.” The question put to the beach bum of a bodyguard has him rolling his shoulders in a nonchalant gesture, “Probably.” Who knows and who cares would be how his body language and expression read. With the command to ‘Sit. Stay’, the shaggy haired blonde bares teeth white against his tan in a grin, “Yes ma’am.” Still not one bit phased by the irate woman and in fact, quite openly gluing his gaze to her rear as she leaves.

Shijan hadn’t gone far. In fact, he’d halted in the shadows just around the corner so that when Jaya exits the bar he snaps a hand out, trying to grab her arm and pull her in against him if he’s successful in that bid. “Jaya, don’t,” realizing where it is she was storming off to. “You’ll just make things worse.”

“Get bent!” is Jaya’s parting shot towards Jillen, her ire rising with his crass comments. In another time or scenario, she would have easily welcomed such talk, but it was obvious her and the barmaid standing there that those days are over. At least for poor Jillen. The barkeep storms out of her bar and was turning around the corner when she feels a hand on her arm, grabbing. Being pulled against him, her instincts immediately knowing who it is so that she doesn’t slug him by accident, Shijan’s words have her throwing a hard look up his way and saying, “No, Shijan! I won’t let her do this!” she responds firmly, determination set in her gaze. Eyes on him as she brushes a hand through the back of his head, “He is not my bodyguard,” she says this in a near-growl, “and I won’t let you go.” Well, she has to right now anyway. A certain Headwoman needs a few words. She then tries to disentangle herself from him, adding in a gentler voice, “Don’t go anywhere. We’ll talk about that when I get back,” and she gestures with her chin towards the cut on his forehead, eyes narrowing at it. “I have some salve in my chambers. I’ll get it, and I will find you.”

Get bent? Gladly, though likely not in the way Jaya had intended considering the gleam to hazel eyes in response. With her gone, Jillen turns his attention over to Hayli, and then Suli, “So…what are we drinking then, ladies?” Er what?

Jaya’s hard look is met through eyes simmering with anger, but even so, Shijan’s head moves in a short shake, “I don’t have a choice, Jaya. I either acquiesce to her demands or…she makes life very difficult for me.” Which would likely impact on them both. Despite the anger and frustration for their situation, a corner of his mouth turns up for her fierce claim of possession, “I’m not letting you go, little one. Just…stepping back for a while until she calms down.” Given in such a manner as to suggest he’s dealt with the Headwoman having one of temper tantrums before. Briefly, an almost sheepish cast washes into place as she points out the cut on his forehead but it’s soon gone again with just a wry expression left in place. “I’ll be here.” More than likely right there, exactly where he is now.

Jillen’s lucky that it’s far too early in the morning for Suli to start knocking heads out, and when Hayli enters the bar she promptly puts the blonde new bodyguard into her care. “Got some new blood for the bar,” she notes to Hayli with slight amusement, hiding pleasure at the fact that Shijan was to be replaced. “Shijan’s out.” Outside the bar, however … “Crazy-angry people, I can deal with,” Jaya drawls with wryness, pulling Shijan close in the shadows of the corridor as she tries to steal a kiss from him. If that short kiss is stolen, the barkeep just can’t help but to lengthen it before letting go and adding with meaning, “Don’t worry.” As if she has all the answers to calm the Headwoman down, and she doesn’t. She wasn’t even sure what she was about to walk into, but one thing was for sure was that Jillan was not to be stepping foot in her bar! She briefly tugs playfully at one of his curls, sending one of her sultry smiles before finally stepping away. She catches that sheepish look when the cut it brought up, but to his last, the smile turns more genuine and the Bitran looks reassured that he wasn’t going to leave. She touches his cheek for a moment and then she’s gone, determination in her step as she leaves Shijan there to walk all the way over towards the Headwoman’s office with tightened jaw.

Hayli and Jillen know each other, of course. They both work for the same mother/son combination. Both however are careful to keep their association from Suli and as such go through the dance of flirting for her benefit. In the corridor, that kiss is indeed stolen with Shijan returning it with an almost quiet desperation, as if it may possibly be their last. Don’t worry, she says. If she only knew that he has every reason to worry as would she if she knew quite what the Headwoman was capable of when crossed. But he puts out a reassured look for Jaya’s benefit, mouth tipping up into a short lived smile for the tug of curl. Only his eyes remain wary, flattening as they follow her path to Indira’s office.

A tall thin man, hair greying at the temples is stepping out of the Headwoman’s office at the time of Jaya’s arrival. Dark blue eyes afford her a strangely knowing once over and then he’s gone down the passage leaving the tousled blonde frowning at the message just delivered and muttering something along the lines of ‘Stupid, stupid, boy!’ under her breath. A hand comes to pinch to thumb and finger to the bridge of her nose, eyes closing in annoyance for a moment.

Suli is easily cowed when it comes to the banter between Hayli and Jillen while Jaya is cowed by the reassuring smile given by Shijan. She’ll miss the wary look, the desperation on his part with that kiss, and the short-lived smile as she makes her way over to Indira’s office. Once there, she doesn’t pause by the entrance like she normally does. She walks right on in, catching the look of that tall, thin man with narrowing eyes as she passes him by, eyes falling on the Headwoman then with firm resolve. “We need to talk,” the barkeep announces her presence, arms coming to a fold across her chest with a quick once-over towards the desk.

Indira’s hand falls away and sloe eyes fit to Jaya as she arrives with that announcement. The glass from the shattered bottle of the day before, long since cleaned away leaving just that dark red stain across the threshold Leaning back in her chair a sigh spills out and the note she’d been reading is carefully slid under a stack of documents. Up goes a blonde brow, the Headwoman looking as if she didn’t get much sleep the night before either, “You’re here about Jillen.” Words given with a slightly sardonic edge to them. Hands come together, fingers lacing across her abdomen, “I’m going to assume that your retreat was…satisfying?” a knowing smirk touching across her lips. The words designed to put the barkeep off balance.

Sitting down in one of the chairs, “I am,” Jaya agrees on Jillen, eyes taking in the dark red stain before seating. Once her gaze returns onto the Headwoman with a frown, Indira having achieved putting her off-balance by that question with a blink, “Something tells me that you …know, that it was,” she answers that tightly, eyes flicking over the older woman before meeting her gaze. “I was going to come sooner, but with the bar taking up my time …” Excuses? Lips press together on that, eyes dropping away for only a brief moment before she adds, “Look, Shijan’s done nothing wrong,” in low but firm words, her gazing now not wavering from the difficult words coming from her lips. Words she’s probably going to have to face. “What’s the fuckin’ deal with Jillen, huh?”

If Indira catches the glance toward that telling red stain, she makes a good show of not noticing and instead that smirk hovers in place for having achieved her objective of throwing the younger woman off balance. Dark eyes meet Jaya’s gaze steadily, her expression giving little away as she remains silent throughout, only putting words out once the other has finished speaking and that with a knowing expression in place. “I told you, Jaya. I always find out.” Vaguely smug and then eyes narrow as she addresses the issue of the former harper, “The kind of wrong he’s done will have you and anyone else he’s associated too closely with, strung up by a man you don’t even want to meet in your nightmares, darlin’.” That having been said, she straightens in her seating, “My job and oath to those that are under our protection more often than not is to protect them from themselves. Men…” letting the word linger a little in the air before continuing on, “have the horrible habit of disengaging their brains when the other head is in control, hmm?” pointed the look she turns out as she ignores the matter of the barkeep’s new guard.

At that vague smugness, “Should I be cowed?” Jaya asks boldly, head titling slightly at Indira. “As for who or what I meet in my nightmares, shuga? Have you forgotten who I used to work for?” Her look turns pointed at that, chin lifting slightly. “So you want to protect me. Fine. Then leave me Shijan.” Problem solved in her eyes. She didn’t know this Jillen, nor was she about to trust him in her vicinity. Indira’s last has the barkeep’s eyes narrowing a fraction further, a hand moving to run through her unbound dark hair as she leans forward and states, “Why don’t you just cut the runnershit and tell me why I was greeted by a man leering my assets this morning instead of what and whom I’m used to, hm?” she directs now, not wanting to play the Headwoman’s game, her nerves frayed far more than they needed to be this morning. She hadn’t forgotten the deal she had made with Indira for sure, but at the moment the fear gripping her heart at the possibility of losing Shijan was taking precedence. The fact that she evens cares is scaring her more.

Brow lifting in response to the first, “Are you?” Not expecting there to be an answer in the affirmative thereof. Wearied the edge of the smile that curls out onto Indira’s mouth on the topics of nightmares and protection, “Jillen’s troubles…are petty by comparison,” when compared to Shijan’s. Adding on the topic of the shaggy haired blonde, “He’s a trial, I’ll admit, but I’m sure a woman such as yourself will put him in place in no time at all, hmm?” If the younger woman’s tone of voice and choice of words in any way rankle the Headwoman, she’s not letting it be known just yet. Instead, after putting a long look onto the dark haired young woman she asks quietly, “Why does it matter to you whether it’s Shijan or Jillen with eyes on your back?” As if she too were struggling with something and perhaps hoping to find solution in the answer that Jaya provides to that query.

It’s a good thing that Indira’s not expecting an answer to the first. Jaya merely glares at her, her own feelings warring within her as she listens to words on a man she was going to deck hard if he came an inch near her and her bar. “All this vague talk’s going to have me yawning by the time Vaput comes marching in here,” she notes on troubles, rolling her eyes as she looks away. She says nothing more, frowning at something to the side of her as she notices the other falling silent and putting that pointed question on her. If it was asked in any other way … “Do you know what it’s like to feel as if you’ll be dead in a few turns? Or spending the rest of your days in the mines?” she asks, the words low as she keeps her eyes from the woman’s own. “It makes your life choices pretty short.” Dark gaze finally landing on Indira then, letting some of the darkness still within her show in her gaze, “You drink. You fuck. You steal. You get eventually get caught. Death happens somewhere after that. Vaput told me that was how you knew you were alive, but I’ve been doing all those things for turns and …” she shakes her head. “I’ve had the first peaceful sleep I’ve hadn’t had since I was child when Shijan helped me with my nightmares,” she notes quietly, confusion on her face. “He helped me since to …live.” Memory of the mud fight filter through, her frown more prominent before adding as she shakes her head, “Indira, I … with him, I’ve … never felt this way before,” she admits the words, it coming difficult for her in facing such things before the Headwoman and herself. A proud Dicori? Admitting this? “I’ve been with a lot of men, shuga,” she forces herself to go on, trying to dispel the faint blush creeping onto her face, “ and a lot of those men have had their way with me and tossed me out if I didn’t do the same, but with him … it’s different. I feel … safe, with him. I feel better.” She doesn’t elaborate on the last but she does fit a harder look now onto the woman before tacking on, “I’m . . scared. Of this. Of him. Of what he’s awakened in me. But.” But. “I’m not running anymore,” she points to a conversation long ago between them – of a Headwoman convincing a barkeep to stop running from her problems. But there. It’s said, and Jaya lifts her chin then boldly and dares her to mock her.

Faint amusement lifts through the wearied expression but Indira doesn’t look set to provide any further information on either Jillen or Shijan, obviously realizing that the former harper at least will tell her what he feels she needs to know in time. However, it’s when Jaya continues to talk and do so with such honesty, despite her awkwardness that the Headwoman drops silent, swallowing hard at one point and unable to keep her attention on the Bitran woman at another. Eventually, all she has to offer is a quietly spoken, “Aye, I figured something more than fucking had gone down between you two by Hayli’s report.” Being open about how she’d come to find out. Silent for longer, gaze now lingering on the stain at the door, “How do you know, Jaya? How do you know when to stop running?” Which considering she’d been the one urging Jaya to stop doing so might seem like a really odd question coming from Indira. And so no, she’s not mocking the younger woman. In fact the look that lifts dark eyes to her shows a fleeting glimpse of a woman just as vulnerable and scared as the younger has put words to being.

Having bared her soul for slaughter, finding the bullheaded method not the way to go (since when?), the Headwoman’s words was not what Jaya was expecting in response. On the comment about what had went down, “That was never my intention, Indira,” she notes quietly, frowning in the confusion of it all. “You know how I operate, and I can wager all the marks in my bar that he wasn’t intending that either. It was suppose to just be some … fun, shuga. Just fun.” She’s not surprised that Hayli was the one that made observations (she had figured the woman’s true purpose long before now), and so she doesn’t bother to bring that up. When Indira’s eyes go towards the stain at the door, Jaya’s does too. Such unexpected questions fits a long silence from the Bitran, and she sends a considering look towards the Headwoman to determine if, in some way, it was worded so to mock her. It’s the look being sent her way that has her answering with, “When the desire to be alone stops.” Pause. “When you can spend a whole sevenday somewhere with your favorite crate of brandy on hand and not even lift a finger to pull a bottle free.” Yeah, that still boggles her. Leaning forward slowly now, perhaps seeing something wavering on the woman’s face, “I’ve been doing some crazy things since moving to this Weyr, shuga,” she states low, her voice slight with a Bitran accent. “Things I’m not known to do. Things a girl from a family of cutthroats and turncoats shouldn’t be doing. Like beg. Don’t … make me beg, Indira.” Because she will. There’s a first time for everything.

Wry the expression that hovers for a moment on what the intentions of either Jaya or her bodyguard may or may not have been, a low chuckle preceding her words, “It’s when you least expect it that you get bit on the ass, aye?” Suggesting that she herself has had firsthand experience of such a thing. Time spills out through the small silence that forms until finally she gives, “He’s a good man, Jaya. But you need to know what it is that he has trailing at his back. So that you can be sure that you’re prepared to face what that is in case it finds him here, aye? You deserve to know.” However she won’t be the one telling the former harper’s secrets. The dark haired woman’s next words must hit home at some level because for a moment the Headwoman is able to do little but stare at her with that deer trapped in headlights look as she almost exactly describes her own situation. Although she’s not about to admit as much to the younger woman. And so once again she draws silent, reaching for a crumpled but folded sheet of hide on her desk, taking it into her hands and toying with the now worn edges of it as she contemplates those words. Glancing up briefly on the matter of Jaya begging to have her bodyguard back with her, the words that get next delivered are spoken softly, “I know how hard this must have been for you,” coming to her and then being so open, pausing and then adding, “He must mean a lot to you.”

“Must be,” Jaya agrees on the first with barest glimmers of a smirk appearing. Least expecting it was definitely an understatement to her. She lets the pause linger then, watching the Headwoman with guarded eyes and letting her break the silence when she chooses. She says nothing when Indira mentions Shijan being a good man, though the slight furrow of brows indicates that the words she was saying was, also, not what she expected. She was going to continue to not say anything, but in the end, she relents. “I know he’s in some kind of trouble,” she admits quietly, gruffly. “He’s not ready to tell me yet, or to trust me. This whole thing – whatever it is – it happened fast. The rest is … it’s going to take some time.” Time is all she got. When the Headwoman does stare at her in that manner, eyes falling on the crumpled sheet of hide, she nods to it. “Our deal,” she brings up, even though she wasn’t reassured yet on the possible new change in bodyguards. “Seems as if you understand where I’m coming from.” Eyes meet her own though, conveying things silently on towards those last softy-spoken words. It’s an awkward nod that injected with some of her Dicori pride, young woman working to maintain her composure as she answers a bit stiffly, “Yes.” She’s either answering to both or one or the other. Either way, she intends the one worded answer to be full of meaning. It will probably only be later when the barkeep will realize what all she had said to the Headwoman and will freak out accordingly on letting the cool mask she keeps tightly on her slip due to another.

Catching that light frown and deducing to which part of what she said, it relates to, Indira’s smile is faint, “Just because I was of a mind to pull him and raked him over the coals for getting involved with his charge, doesn’t mean that I’m unaware of the sort of person he is, darlin’.” Taking in what Jaya says next, the tousled blonde nods slowly, “He told you he was a harper?” Realizing that with having spent near half his life at the harper hall that was likely to be the first thing Shijan would divulge, “One of the Master’s best.” That given with the lift of chin one would associate with a proud mother speaking of one of her offspring. Eyes that had dropped back down to the crumpled hide that fingers had been idly smoothing over, suddenly lift when their deal is brought up and then quickly drop away, a light frown appearing. But she does give a faint nod and a quietly given, “Aye” as confirmation of understanding where Jaya’s coming from. Inhaling and then exhaling slowly, one corner of her mouth crooks up in an oddly shaped smile, “You’ve got balls, Dicori.” Thus lending insinuation that while it might have been hard for the younger woman to do so, she’s at least staking her claim and standing next to it while she…is still trying skirt the issue. And so it is that her smile turns into something deeper and more genuine for the single worded answer given by the dark haired barkeep, “Then I’ll recall Jillen and you can keep your harper.” No mockery in her tone there. The next however bears pointed edge to it, “He does however, still work for me and I will be sending him where and when I need him to go. However,” a hand lifting should Jaya jump in to dispute this caveat, “He will always return to you, aye?” See? Not a total bitch.

With an incline of her head, all the planned arguments and tossed words now dying in light of this turn of events, “He told me he used to be a harper,” Jaya confirms that, now realizing that Indira knows more about the man than she does. She’s starting to learn when to pry and when not to, however. “He must have been real good,” she adds now, a more genuine smile pulling at the scar on the side of her face as she recalls the song he had sung for her. That smile vanishes on the next thing she says, “Must be some serious trouble to take him away from that sort of life. I take it you’ve been protecting him all this time? Gave him the name and everything?” This was more practical and easier to speak on than matters of the heart, her tone more solid as she tries to recall what she knows about their protection business. Dark eyes drop back down to that hide she fixates on, her curiosity much the same as it was before she left for her retreat. Max had his suspicions, and she now has her own, too. Indira more or less confirms it, but as expected, with the quirk of a smile touching Jaya’s lips, the Headwoman doesn’t give much away. “Despite my being a fugitive for turns,” she notes on Indira’s comment about her having balls, “I’m usually not one to back down from a challenge.” Beat. “Neither are you,” she feels compelled to add wryly, well aware that there was more to the tough-as-nails woman sitting before her. But her last – her last was what she was there for, that one can see some of the relief not hidden by her guarded mask show up present on her face. Leaning back, her shoulder less stiff now at hearing the reversal of the Headwoman’s decision, the barkeep simply gives a meaningful “Thanks, shuga.” As to Shijan still working for the woman, a hand lifts when Indira’s does, adding herself, “I know, I know. Don’t mistake me for some lovesick girl, now,” she notes with amused sarcasm, meant to hide the relief that she feels. “Just because I’m off-kilter don’t mean I’m any less formidable! Girl’s got a reputation to uphold, after all.”

Had this occurred yesterday, Jaya would likely have gotten the same treatment that Shijan had. However, those words he’d left the Headwoman with had had their desired effect. More than the former harper’s ever likely to realize. The smile is quick to come on the man’s abilities and she doesn’t outline the exact nature of his work for the Hall. “Aye. He’s been with us a few turns now.” Lips compress on the matter of the trouble at Shijan’s back, “In his case. It’s not who he knows, but what he knows about whom.” And there she leaves the matter, eyes settling back down to that folded hide that the younger eyes curiously. A short chuff of dry amusement breaks out in response to the other’s comment and then is reeled in as she states in that same quiet tone of earlier, “There’s challenges. And then there’s…heartbreak.” With that eyes lift, deep wariness at play as she states, “I’ve played that game before, darlin’ and got badly beaten down.” Shoulders shift in awkward manner, “I don’t know if…maybe…” frown. Unable to complete giving verbalisation to that thought she turns instead to the relief coming from the barkeep, the edge of a smirk at play, “Oh no, Dicori. You don’t come in here staking your claim on my most valuable asset and then shy away from being a woman falling in love. You own that and don’t back down from the challenge, aye?” turning Jaya’s words back on her with the deliberate intent of steering the other woman away from her own statement of just moments earlier.

“Secrets,” Jaya states the one word heavily, understanding some of the hints and clues the former harper had dropped on his skills. “He can read people. Read me pretty well,” she adds wryly, shaking her head at the thought. “But it’s a useful skill. I can see how that would make one … valuable, certain folks in Pern.” Look is almost significant, though she doesn’t anything further on it. Moving to the topic of heartbreak as she regards the other woman steadily, “But is it a game to be played?” she asks then, chin lifting slightly with her legs crossing. “Everything has a risk, Indira. No matter what it is. It’s just up to us to decide whether or not we want to risk all, or risk nothing.” Of course she would use such a metaphor. Noticing that awkward shift of shoulders, the statement falling into silence, “You’ve been off-kilter lately.” The Bitra barkeep finally gives voice to her and Max’s suspicions, her eyes briefly dropping towards the note she holds. As if to give some sort of explanation for that sort of remark, “I wouldn’t have picked it up then, before the break, but now …” Now with different eyes, she can see some of the same odd mannerisms in the Headwoman that she herself have been claiming. Of course she gives a cheeky grin to the older woman’s chastisement of her bold remark about her having a reputation to uphold, and there’s a quiet chuckle in acknowledgement of it. “I doubt me staring off at him from across my bar all day will help matters on keeping the peace,” she drawls, amused and somewhat awkward. Eyes taking on a possessive light now, “I do stake claim, make no mistake,” she notes then with a crooked grin. “I just … need to figure this all out. A part of me fights to bring back the ‘me’ I know, and that old me didn’t have time for love.” She shakes her head to that, blunt. “This is the sort of thing my mother would have talked to me and Beddie about, if she had lived. I’ve only just learned how to breathe, shuga.”

“Aye,” Indira drops that one word in response to the value of secrets, those that hold them and those that would try to wrest them free. She herself always a little on guard about the man under discussion, especially given all that she knows of those that move within her and Max’s group. And then Jaya asks what she does and Indira’s frown deepens. Is it a game to be played? A small shake of head and then lift of shoulders before giving honestly, “I don’t know.” There before her sits the one person that could possibly answer some of the multitude of questions she has on the man that torments her so. But she asks none of them. So instead she remains silent, listening to what the younger woman says studiously keeping her gaze off of her lest the truth be told in her eyes and doing her best to avoid reacting to those probing statements. A chuckle is let loose for the cheeky grin sent to her and then her expression slips into something a little more sombre, “Just be careful, Jaya. I don’t want to see either one of you used to get at the other, aye?” Long and considering the look the Headwoman sets to younger woman for that possessive light and the words that back it up, the same that the former harper had displayed himself when she’d confronted him. A small shake of head is given, “Don’t fight it, Jaya. Not if you know he feels the same way about you.” There a long pause forms and then she’s putting out a rueful smile, “I wish I could help you there, darlin’, but I ain’t exactly the poster girl for love, aye? Our Ahnika is probably better qualified on such matters.” That having been said the folded hide that she’d been toying with is finally set back down on the desk top as she rises and moves toward her personal quarters. A short time later she returns with a tumbler in each hand, filled a quarter of the way with amber liquid.

Jaya detects that guardedness in regards to her bodyguard, and now knowing the seriousness of his troubles, she has the grace to not press it. Indira’s answer to her own question – on games – is answered in silence, the woman nodding slowly. If only she she knows, though, but the Bitran is mired in questions of her own. The warning on their claims on the other gets an equally somber, “Got my eye on it, shuga.” To the next piece of advice, “The renegade in me wants to,” she admits a bit wryly, sending over a lopsided grin. “But then, I look at him, and …” does the rest need to be said? Yeah, the girl was smitten whether she liked it or not. “I see how Max feels now,” she continues on when Indira admits to not being the poster girl for such things, watching the other set the letter back down and leaves for the quarters. Eyes find the letter and linger there when she returns with tumblers in her hands, and her eyes latches onto the amber liquid found there. It’s been a good while since such liquid has touched her lips, and her mouth was practically craving it. With the barkeep filing Ahnika’s away for later, “I appreciate the place you sent us to,” she notes more conversationally now – now that she was assured that Shijan remained her bodyguard from this point onwards. “The cove was beautiful. Hard to leave it.” Brow lifting then, “Perfect for smuggling things in and out, hm?” she doesn’t mind probing here, anyway, this being a safer topic on her eyes in comparison.

The very virtue of the fact that Jaya had not given into temptation and sneaked a peek at that letter has Indira flicking an approving look down onto her as she hands over one of the tumblers over to the younger woman. Then again, considering the content of that letter, Jaya can be glad she didn’t take a gander or she might have been mentally scarred for life. The Headwoman’s mouth pulls into a smile and she can’t help the chuckle for the young woman’s being smitten with her bodyguard, “Next thing you’ll be pouring the wrong drinks for customers and losing at cards,” teasing. A wry smile turns out on the topic of her son, “Max is still young.” And therefore not as life weary as she has come to feel these days. Meandering back around to her seating and dropping gracefully into it, a smirk curves around her mouth from behind her upturned glass over words of smuggling. “I’m glad you enjoyed the time away. I’d say you look rested but in light of recent events…I’d be lying now wouldn’t I?” sly the teasing smile that settles into the end of those words. Altering the course of the conversation slightly she neither confirms nor denies what uses she’d had in mind for the small strip of coastline, although her next words might lend hint, “And the cave? Big enough to shelter more than two in it?”

Taking the offered tumbler with a sharp nod of thanks, Indira’s remark gets a short bark of laughter from Jaya as she returns with “Some barkeep I would be! Suli would have to take over then, and I can imagine her reaction to that.” Yeah, especially since the man Jaya’s smitten with just so happens to be on her shit list. When the Headwoman talks about Max being young, however, there’s a soft snort for that along with a wry “Max has changed,” she notes taking a long sip of the drink and giving it an approving smile. “He’s not the same man I met at the Blood and Bucket, shuga. I can take a wager and guess that a certain weyrling had something to do with it, too.” Not to mention a certain child in Tillek, but that’s not being said. Those next teasing words on being rested from the retreat gets an even softer snort, though amusement settles through it as she lingers on her drink. “Didn’t work through as much like I planned, but, you can say that I’m back and rested. Perhaps ‘back and revived’ would be a better way of saying it? Perhaps you know a little bit about pouring the wrong drinks and losing at cards?” A tease for a tease. Yes, she’s notice the Headwoman being quite distracted herself before she left for the cove, and she alludes to it just as slyly. As to the cove itself, the barkeep takes another drink before nodding and answering with, “Big, but not quite. More than two. A place I would have used to harbor items I would want resting out of the way from prying eyes. Big items, even. Checked out the rest of the cove and it’s out of the way enough to be used as the perfect storage cavern if that’s your aim.”

There’s barely a flicker of acknowledgement for the Telgari barmaid’s likely reaction, but it is there. Indira clearly having been getting reports on the woman from both her son and the eyes set in the bar. The path of her tumbler back to her lips halts at mention of how Max has changed, the Headwoman’s expression one of unspoken conflict on the matter. Eventually she pushes out a quick smile and nods, “Aye, that he has. Ahnika’s been good for him.” This whole crime lord business though. That has her worried. It’s Jaya’s next that draws low laughter from the tousled blonde, “Oh, I’m sure you worked through enough to at least put your back out, darlin’.” She’s terrible. But the barkeep catches her by turning her own quip back onto her. Despite the initial blink a slow smirk pulls into place, “Oh, I never lose at cards darlin’.” No, she just throws full bottles of exclusive wine about the place. Brows then pinch together in response to the cave not being big enough to house many people in and she mutters an expletive under her breath. There goes plan A. The fact that it’s deemed big enough to store large items in, falls into line with her plan B and as such that smoothes the woman’s expression out once again. Realizing she hadn’t given a verbal response, Indira puts one together through a benign smile, “According to Shijan’s map, ocean access will be tricky but manageable if done during the day.” The slight upward lilt to her tone suggesting she seeks Jaya’s opinion on the matter too.

Indira’s words, as crass as they may be, cause Jaya to laugh outright – choosing to say little else on the matter of her son. She still remembers all about the question of Max’s interest in Tillek Holder Law, but seems to be not supplying for now on the matter. Instead, “My back is feeling much better these days,” she can toss it right back, her smile cheeky. “I guess I have Shijan to thank for that. Which I did. Thank him. Thoroughly.” Another drink from the glass and she’s leaning back more comfortably, nodding towards that note and adding, “So do I at least get a summary? What’s this man’s like that has you holding onto that same sheet of hide as if your very life depended upon it?” with amused interest, then tacking on with a lifted hand, “I’m not asking for details, or even a name. Just want to know if he’s been, ah, throwing your own back out?” and a brow lifts at that. Onto business then – the barkeep regards the Headwoman for a long moment as she speaks on Shijan’s report, brows furrowing slightly when asked of her opinion on the matter. “I would have a death wish if I tried to navigate to that cove at night,” she agrees with his assessment, though her words are far less fluent. “Depends on the how, too. I might be able to be more assistance if I knew what you were looking to move in and out of there, though,” she probes in barkeep style, head tilting only slightly as she idly swirls the contents in her own glass.

Luckily for Max, his mother has been distracted by the recent revelation coming from the dark haired woman and her bodyguard. However one can be sure that won’t last long and she’ll be back on the trail once again. A brow goes up in amusement for Jaya’s comeback and rich throaty laughter joins the barkeep’s on the matter of backs and the thanks given for the manipulation thereof. Even raising her glass in toast to that. That laughter subsides at the query put to her and Indira leans forward, reaching for the note. Silent a moment as she grapples with what, if any to give in response and then eyes lift from it and a faint smile plays about her mouth, “He bit me in the ass.” The light self-deprecating smirk perhaps leading the younger woman to believe that was intended in the literal sense when she’d simply been referring back to their conversation earlier of the unexpected. Shoulders roll as a finger strokes over the folded hide, “He’s…older…thrilling and…safe at the same time.” Sounding a shade awkward as she speaks on the man that’s gotten her more turned around than a dragon in a field of wherries. A soft sigh spills out, “I don’t know, Jaya. It was so sudden and…intense,” frowning a little, “he…scares me.” That spoken so softly it’s barely audible. The tumbler is conveniently used to hide behind for that confession come from a woman that would usually rather cut off her own hand than admit to such things. And so the subject switch is gratefully received. Swallowing she nods to Jaya’s assessment of the cove, “Good, then we won’t have to worry about anyone without sufficient seafaring knowledge getting clever and arriving uninvited.” A long look greets the last question and then with a small lift of chin, Indira states, “People mainly. Though if the cave’s too small, it’ll have to do for storing goods.” The nature of which she’s not currently divulging.

Indira’s raise of her glass, and even the comment on biting asses, gets a lift of one corner of Jaya’s mouth in response. Dark eyes falling on the hide as she speaks, “Thought older men weren’t your thing,” she notes wryly, interest coloring her tone. Through the times that he’s been by her bar, Lorayit had confided to the barkeep on the one time he had stolen a kiss off of the Headwoman. She had the grace to think he was full of it for not getting hit across the head for it. It’s when Indira words start to take on the same awkward note that her own did only moments earlier that the young woman appears more attentive. It wasn’t like Indira to appear so. It wasn’t like Indira to even admit that anything scared her. Jaya was sure nothing did. Leaning forward a bit with the tumbler, “It was the same,” she could relate on that, her eyes taking on a light to them. “Sudden. Intense. He must be some man,” she adds now, regarding the Headwoman anew now, “to have you so unsure.” Pausing significantly, taking in the woman sitting before her with interest as she swirls the contents of her glass, “Are you running?” she asks then, those words full of meaning. Onto the topic of the cove – “People,” Jaya echoes that, chin lifting in understanding. “I see. Well, it can house people, but just not too many people. Unless you’re planning on moving a Hold’s worth of folks there, then I don’t see why you couldn’t use the cave for both purposes.” Both being as shelter and storage in her eyes. “If you want them comfortable, then no more than twenty, I would estimate. How soon were you looking to use the cove?” the question was sudden, a thought occurring to her on the matter of her looking to return to the cove sometime soon.

“They weren’t,” Indira gives with a wry expression in place on older men but doesn't go into her reasoning for having stuck with the young bucks up until now. As Jaya leans forward, so the Headwoman’s express turns back toward being slightly guarded again and then a soft snort is uttered, “He needs his head examined by a healer.” That her roundabout way of saying that indeed, she found this older man to be quite something. If Jaya only knew! Is she running? Dark eyes turn guilty as if she might indeed be thinking of doing just that and then teeth catch to her lower lip and she gives a small shake of head, “No, not yet.” Thus still leaving her path open to do so. The cove, yes, easier topic indeed. And so coming out of her short reverie an amused chuff of sound lifts up for opening a Hold down at the small cove, “Oh, probably never more than say three or four. Perhaps a family if need be.” Although neither her nor Max like to take the risk of moving an entire family about. As to when she’s likely to put it to such use, her expression turns oddly guarded, “That depends on how urgent the needs of my…northern contact might be.” Making it sound purely business related. Oh yeah, she’s planning on using that cove herself. That is if she doesn’t lose her courage and bolt in the opposite direction.

Jaya has a faint smirk lingering as she listens to Indira’s answers, the drink she holds seeming to have the brunt of her attention. At the response for running, “I think you shouldn’t,” she notes on running, eyes intent upon her. “If he’s worth anything, examined head or not. You’ve been rather off-focus these days. Your son’s noticed.” Which alludes to him making a mention of it. “But he’s just concerned,” she is quick to add on, the smile lifting briefly. “It’s not like you. Is he a dragonrider?” She remembers Indira having a weyrmate before – Max’s father – and so she assumes this older man to be one himself. Pausing then, “But I hear ya, shuga,” she adds with a short chuckle, knocking back some of the drink. “I don’t think Shijan realizes yet that getting involved with me? Means he’ll be getting involved with my family,” and the Dicoris was whole other issue on its own. As to the cove, “It can house a family,” the barkeep agrees on that, nodding firmly. “It is a beautiful place. I doubt anyone would find it easy to leave it. If you ever need me to check it out again….” She trails that off, giving Indira an amused look at the end.

A sceptical brow goes up when Jaya advises that she not run. “Easy for you to say,” she starts to gloss over with and then stops, eyes narrowing slightly when it’s brought to her attention that Max has noticed she’s not been on her game. “You can tell him…that he can mind his own business, and…I’ll mind mine.” Offering a compromise that allows her to sidestep the issue and hopefully have Jaya keeping her confidence in there being a man involved with regards to her having been off-kilter lately. Dark blonde brows twitch with amusement next. “Hardly, darlin’,” this to the mystery man being a dragonrider. That devolves into an open chuckle, “Jaya, sweetie. Shijan will have a mindhealer questioning their own insanity if left alone with one for long enough, so I’m quite sure he finds you a refreshing breath of air.” Good grief! What has the man found himself dealing with before? Turning back to the topic of the cove, the Headwoman gives a satisfied nod of head when the cave situated on its small coastline is deemed big enough for a family at least. Low laughter spills out for the younger woman’s last, “Only just back and you’re of a mind to abandon us already?” Teasing as she swallows down another mouthful of the amber liquid.

“Not easy,” Jaya counters easily with a slight roll of her shoulders. “Not when you’ve been on the run for turns, shuga. But. If there’s something to this – to him - then I think you shouldn’t. Might be worth the risk.” As for Max? A brow barely lifts at that response, and her amusement continues to linger as she answers back with, “He will find out eventually, you know.” It’s words borrowed from the Headwoman herself – her confidence in finding out things like her and Shijan mirrored back on her. Either way, it’s the barkeep’s way of saying that her son wasn’t going to hear about a man from her. Indira’s remark on Shijan definitely gets her attention, a light snort given back in response before she knocks back the last of the drink in her hand. To her last, she gets to her feet and sets the tumbler down on the Headwoman’s desk. “My turnday’s coming up,” she explains a bit awkward, it always having been an awkward topic for her to speak on. “Thought I’d break up the monotony of drinking myself silly on the day and actually do something. Not sure what. I don’t really … celebrate.” Other than to get drunk over the fact that she made it alive through another turn, of course.

At what she apparently sees as badgering when really it’s just Jaya being encourageing, Indira eventually gives an exasperated sigh, “Fine. I’ll wait and see how this plays out. But if it ends up with me face down in a vat of whiskey, I’m coming after you when I sober up!” Smirking in faintly smug fashion, “As will I.” Find out just exactly what her son’s up to. “He’s never able to hide anything from me for very long.” Riiight. Try going on for over a turn, lady. As the younger woman drains her glass and stands, so too does Indira, the words spoken drawing an exceedingly sly grin into place, “Come now, Jaya. Don’t you mean doing someone?” A wink given there and then her smile warms, “Tell you what. You and Shijan head back down to the cove. Call it my turnday gift to you, aye?” No doubt there’s likely to be a little something-something left to be discovered in the cave as an added extra too.

Smirking at the exasperated sigh, “You and me both on ending up in a vat of whiskey, shuga. You do happen to have that vat on hand, do you?” Her words on finding out what Max is up to sends a rather easy smile in response to that. “And you think you can hide this from him?” Jaya questions instead, a brow lifting at her. “I would have thought the two of you were closer than this. Keeping all these secrets from each other. I can expect this sort of thing from my family, but you and him …” Somehow, it just didn’t sit right with her. Of course such a tease from the Headwoman on account of her turnday plans gets a wry, “You’re not going to let me live this down, are you?” Hands coming out of pockets and spreading wide in a gesture of a challenge, “Alright then, tease away, shuga. Looks like the Dicori bitch got a heart after all. Just know that I will come after you in return as soon as I find out who your mystery man is.” As soon as, not if. When she chooses, Jaya will make it her mission. But the warm smile is returned when her hands drop back down to her side and the turnday offer gets a more genuine “… thanks, Indira.” She wasn’t used to such kindness, and she was hardly expecting the encounter to turn out to be so this morning. It had the barkeep regarding her differently now, the thoughtful expression apparent before she finally steps away with a sigh and states, “I better get back to prepping the bar,” and to check on Shijan with that cut of his. Bobbing her head a moment in the pause as she reaches the door, she turns back and adds, “I can punch the new guy in the nose this once, right?” as an afterthought, acting as if such a thought had just occurred to her.

Indira’s quick with both words and the determined smirk that attaches to them on hiding the mystery man from her son, “Just watch me.” That slides off and Jaya is set with a closed look, sloe eyes slipping off of her and onto a nondescript point on her desk, “Max and me. We’re still learning each other again, Jaya. It takes time, you know?” Sharing secrets and knowledge of those they protect is one thing. Sharing personal secrets between mother and son? Well, they’re getting there, slowly but surely. She sets that all aside in favour of chuckling at the younger woman before giving with a pointed look, “The heart of a bitch is always misunderstood, darlin’.” And then a brow lifts up in challenging pose to Jaya finding out who this man of hers is, “You’re pretty sure of yourself, Dicori. But you may want to stay out of this one.” For some reason the Headwoman seems to find that rather amusing given the light of oddly placed mischief that dances in her eyes momentarily. If the barkeep doesn’t step away or avoid the attempt, the older blonde steps in to give her a brief hug in response to the thanks given, “Just be good to each other, aye?” Voice dropped low and husky with sincerity for those words. Stepping back again a grin turns out on the request to be allowed to punch Jillen, “The next crass comment he makes, he’s all yours to set straight, darlin’.” Which is likely to come not moments after Jaya steps back into the bar given the stellar track record Jillen has managed to put together with her so far.

Well, Jaya can understand that. It was turns later before she saw her twin sister, for instance, showing up all sunshine and rosy as if no time had gone by. With an incline of her head in acknowledgement of that, “You and Max have a good thing going, is all. Don’t want to see it get fucked up.” That’s all she’ll say on the matter, not one to place herself in the middle of family business when her own was messed up. She smirks on the account of hearts, the two clearly of one accord there. “Even misunderstood by the bitch herself,” she comments to that knowingly, the Bitran having been certain she had known of herself until she had moved to the Weyr. “And as for this mystery man…” and she lingers close as she moves through the office, the smile one full of mischief herself. “Well. Haven’t you learned by now that curiosity stirs a Dicori?” Rather than kill one? Yep, she notes the amusement in Indira’s tone and demeanor, too, and that only serves to raise her interest. “You shouldn’t be ashamed of him, you know. Unless he’s the Weyrleader? Not that the Weyrleader is someone to be ashamed over…” and a brow lifts. When Indira gathers her into that brief hug, unexpected enough to cause the barkeep to stiffen, it was only for less than a second before her frame relaxes and she sends a smile over the older woman’s shoulder. The embrace easy from her, “We will,” she says that with open certainty, that smile present when she steps back again and moves toward the door. The last given has her laughing, head thrown back and all, and with a mere wink the barkeep is out the door and heading back.

“Don’t want to see it fucked up either, darlin’,” Indira gives with sincerity on her relationship with her son. Which is probably why she’s currently not pushing on the matter of his sudden interest in that harper tome he’d borrowed and still not returned. A crooked smile meets Jaya’s smirk, “Aye, even by the bitch herself,” she agrees. On the matter of being ashamed of her mystery man, her chin goes up and the smile that appears genuine if not a little shy, “I’m not.” And then chuckling low, “Darlin’, believe me when I say that he likely puts the Weyrleader himself to shame.” Biased much? Eyes flickering briefly back to that folded hide on her desk and then smirking, “He just might not be what…most people expect.” Especially one dark haired barkeep standing before her. That brief moment of stiffening when she hugs the younger woman was expected and so she doesn’t keep the embrace for long. A grin fits into place for Jaya’s laughter and the Headwoman makes a shooing gesture with her fingers, “Now go and set your harper’s mind at ease.” Once the younger woman is gone, Indira’s attention flits back to that last piece of correspondence from a certain Telgari tavern owner and a slow smile warms her expression. No, she wasn’t going to run.

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