Who: Jet and M’tan
When: Month 7, 205 AT
Where: Court of Shadows, Honshu Territory
What: Jet has news not thought of, nor expected.
With a baby less than six months old, the fact that Jet continues to look a little worn around the edges and is more apt to flares of temper than she normally is might not be much to dwell on, save for the fact that, despite her best efforts to hide it, gossip begins to make the rounds of the Hold of her not being able to keep much food down for most of the day and having been caught napping in the nursery when seeing her children and grandchild. It must be something that she’s attributed to stress, especially as she’s lost weight as well, but it’s only so long until the Healers wait for a moment of weakness and vulnerability to get her comply with the tests and the examination they insist on, then send her on her way with… news. News that sends her up to the quarters she lives in with her husband, away from the noise and goings on of the Hold below, to sink down onto the end of their bed and stare blankly as she tries to process what she’s been told.
M’tan has been doing his best to be scarce at the Hold, still filled with shame and indecision over his capabilities as a leader after his… mismanagement of Arlet. He’s never been quick to think of Jet’s tempers as being tied to her health, though he has tried to bolster her more with larger meals when he can sneak them upon her. He enters their room after being gone most of the day in the North. He shucks off his jacket and gear and tucks it in their proper place before he moves further into their space to find Jet laying on their bed. “What’s wrong?” he asks as he crosses the distance to settle on the bed beside her. He tucks his hands behind his head and reaches an arm to offer Jet a place to curl against him as he too finds his gaze moving towards the ceiling.
Jet opens her mouth and immediately closes it again, not accustomed to being so unable to say what she wants, how she wants, and her own incapability in that moment keeps her quiet for longer than she might ever have intended. She tries again and still no words come out, her shoulders slumping as she closes her eyes and lets exhaustion only sink in deeper, accompanied now by the beginnings of frustration and embarrassment. Momentarily defeated, she curls up against M’tan, a minute or more passing before she manages to murmur, “…I’m pregnant again,” and all too obviously tenses in anticipation of his reaction. “The flight, it—“ Either she can’t continue or assumes that must be explanation enough. “I’m not going Between.”
What M’tan was prepared for Jet to say is nothing close to what news she does deliver to his ears. He lifts himself up immediately to look down upon her. “I wouldn’t want you to go Between,” he tells her, concern crossing his brow and slowly replaced with a smile. “It’s so close together… is it a dangerous thing?” he asks, holding his smile in place, his eyes bright with feeling as he considers her. “I won’t lose you,” he tells her, moving to kiss her brow. “No matter what. If this child risks you… we choose you.” He wraps his arms about her and tugs her up into a hug. “But if you’ll be well and we’ll have another..,” he laughs suddenly, looking at her. “We should get in the habit of going Between after a flight in the future, love. We can’t populate all of Pern now.”
“The Healers want to see me every two weeks,” Jet confesses, unable to conceal her discomfort at the prospect. “They suggested that this bit might be harder and later might be easier, since my body’s not had much time to adapt since the last one. I’m just… tired and hungry and don’t want to eat all at the same time right now. Everything feels… magnified.” She wraps her arms around M’tan and tucks her face into the crook of his neck, though she still relies a little on him to hold her up. “It’s to be expected. But even if there’s two or three or five of them, I still want them. They’re ours.” Drawing back, she plants a hand down on the bed to prop herself up while she searches her husband’s features as she questions, “Does this mean I can expect you home sometimes now, or are you going to continue avoiding all of us?”
M’tan can never hide his emotions from Jet and his guilt and shame write themselves across his brow as he drops his gaze to avoid hers. “Yes, of course. I’ll discharge someone else to handle what I’ve started in the North. I’ll keep my trips outside of the Hold to the night and briefly if needed to keep me close to you.” He sighs heavily and holds her against him. “Sometimes a man has to wallow in his shame.” He kisses Jet’s temple. “And avoiding my family isn’t what drove me… it was avoiding the failure of choices I made. How is Arlet?” he risks asking, keeping his arms about her so he doesn’t have to look in her eyes.
“I don’t mean that I expect you to drop everything and look after me,” Jet quietly insists. “If anything, I’ll just want you all to let me sleep,” she adds with a twitch of a smile. “I just mean… I miss you. We all mess up. Faranth knows I have. Arlet would never have experienced all of this if I’d not been so selfish as to leave her that letter.” She gently bumps her head against his. “…She’s settled into her new rooms and been spending time with Safiye. More because Safiye has taken it upon herself to not leave her alone. I don’t think she’s spent any significant time with Aadi, but at least she’s staying here and eating and not sleeping away the day.” Though she hesitates, she still suggests, “…You should try talking to her.”
“I can’t agree with you that the letter was selfish. I think it was selfless. Some people who give their children up for adoption never seek to reconnect with them. To offer them the welcome of family that we have to Arlet is a gift, and it wasn’t selfish to do so,” M’tan tells Jet with a hint of heat behind his words. “I wish you would stop blaming yourself for what has befallen her. Does she even know what happened to you? When we were young? With Hassoun? It might be good to tell her,” he considers, looking towards the ceiling again. “If only she can understand some of my damage… and know how you overcame it yourself. The damage and hurt.” At the proposal that //he// talk to Arlet, he stiffens. He eases the tension out of his body by pressing his lips to Jet’s forehead. “If you think it wise, I can try. I imagine I’ll only stick my foot in my mouth and make things worse.” He pauses for a moment. “We should be receiving the eggs from Honshu soon,” he tells her, “I could… use that as a reason to speak to Arlet? To ask for her help in their transfer?”
“No-one here knows what happened with Hassoun,” Jet murmurs, directing her gaze down at the bed while she takes a moment to gather logic over instinct. “I don’t… think I want that to change. That way, it stays in the past. Another life.” She looks up again and tells him, “And I have you. Who does she have in that way? A drunken bluerider who can’t function unless he’s had a few. Who even knows if he actually cares for her or it’s the drink talking? What chance of having a family does she have there, if she wants one? I can’t tell her that I suffered but I always have you in my darkest hours when she doesn’t have that.” She drops her head back to M’tan’s shoulder, her forehead resting there while she hooks a hand into his shirt. “What you want to tell her is your decision, but… I don’t think I can do it,” she quietly admits. “She was Weyrleader when Fort accepted eggs from Honshu… She should know something of how to be useful there.”
“It’s not for us to have an opinion on,” M’tan says, looking rueful as he says it, “as it wasn’t for me to have an opinion on how she might utilize Akanyth’s interest in flights to try and glean information from her bed partners.” He winces, saying what he said aloud reminding him how horrible his idea was. “I won’t tell about Hassoun,” he tells her, deciding to follow her instinct on leaving that part of their lives so far behind them. “It is why we traveled forward in the first place. To remove us from his influence.” His grin hitches a little, his eyes sharpening with savage intent. “And how we were able to step in and have influence //here//.” He nods his head, drawing his fingers gently through Jet’s hair. “Then that is how I can seek to break the tension between us. I… don’t think I’ll bring anything up to her, aside from needing her help with the egg transfer and coordinating with Honshu’s leaders.”
“It is if it’s setting her up to get hurt even worse,” Jet mutters, her tone touched with a bitterness that she doesn’t bother to conceal, yet there’s no heat there to suggest that she’s about to rush in to doing anything about it. She lifts her head to nuzzle her way along M’tan’s jaw before abruptly diverting to capture his lips in a gentle kiss. “I missed my husband,” she says softly, drawing back just enough to look up at him. “Who is probably going to have to be very forgiving in the next few months, and for that I’m sorry. But I’m not sorry about anything else.” She kisses him again. “I love you.”
M’tan’s fingers draw up to play against Jet’s hair, falling into the pattern he is prone to when he’s thoughtful and adoring of his wife. He finishes finger-combing her hair by tucking the strands behind her ear. His grin, as ever, is crooked but his eyes shine with unspeakable joy. “I love you more,” he tells her after they’ve kissed. “And I have missed you as well. I’m sorry that shame drove me away,” he moves to tuck her against his chest, wanting the comfort of her closeness near his heart. “My joy and love will have me stay.” He kisses the top of her head and falls to idly playing with her hair or drawing his fingers down along her back. If he lulls her to sleep, he’ll be glad for it — and won’t stir from his gentle movements until she finds the need to wake again.