Who: Arlet, J’kson, Malynth, Akanyth
Where: Beach, Southern Continent
What: A sudden proposal.

J’kson and Malynth have been quietly practicing their technique to get themselves Between for some months now. Having been got by Safiye, J’kson has finally decided he best show Arlet what he’s been up to late at night before she finds out from that bright-eyed and all-too-seeing younger sister. << She is older than Arlet >> Malynth reminds his rider as they both relax in the bright sun of a beach. The beach is remote enough that no one should bother them, with the high cliffs behind them and the lapping blue-green waters in front of them. Malynth reaches towards Akanyth with the image of their location. << Can you join us? J’kson would like to tell Arlet something. >> The pair of them wait, J’kson’s shoulder pressed against Malynth’s as he watches the skyline for Akanyth’s arrival.

<< I suppose that would be agreeable, >> Akanyth permits, his mental touch flickering in with a rush of shadows and drifting off again on dark wings. About a quarter of an hour passes before he appears in the skies over the beach, Arlet bundled up in a fur cloak for Between instead of her riding leathers. She strips the straps from Akanyth as soon as he reaches the ground, slinging them over her shoulder as she pulls down the hood of her cloak and makes her way across the sand to meet J’kson. Brows knit, her gaze briefly roaming from his to scan their location as she asks, “…How did you…?” Get here?

Malynth is //very// smug as he lounges in the sand, his head pillowed by his forearms as he watches Akanyth’s approach. J’kson is not as smug as his blue – but his smile is bright against his tanned features. “We’ve been practicing,” he tells her, moving to close the distance so he might grab her straps and things to go and tuck beside Malynth’s own. “I wanted to surprise you. We got this image from one of Malynth’s friends,” that friend being a very far-reaching gold of Fort is not shared with Arlet, “so we’ve been coming here the last few days. I wanted to surprise you,” he gestures towards the umbrella tucked into the sand, blanket, and basket of edibles kept away from the heat of the sun. “Are you…,” he squints, considering her with a raised brow, “Impressed?”

Arlet surrenders her straps and unpins her cloak when J’kson moves to collect up her things, letting him take them off her while she trails a few steps after him. “I love it,” she says quietly, though her attention shifts to Malynth and stays there, looking for any sign of injury and unable to locate anything that might worry her. “Practicing?” she asks, looking up at J’kson. “How do you mean?” She reaches for his hands to hold, threading her fingers through his. “You didn’t have to do all this for me,” she insists even more softly. “You don’t need to impress me. You’re both okay?”

“Sure. What weyrling hood should’ve been about for us – practicing. Malynth’s gotten the hang of climbing up high enough to drop and then Between,” J’kson gestures towards the cliffs. “So that’s how we go. Means we gotta be mindful of where we go. Safiye caught us,” he tells her ruefully as he guides her towards the blanket. “She’s quite something, that sister. Not as scary as your mother but still…”. He appears to be sober and no drinks outside of cold juice and jog are tucked into the basket. He settles beside her on the blanket and brushes his hair behind his ears. “This way Malynth can take me to the poker houses M’tan sends me to.” He considers her for a moment, adding, “Though I’m thinking to ask him to run my own gambling house. On the edge of Bitra. It’ll draw a larger and more diverse crowd than the slums I frequent.”

Ducking her head a little, Arlet attempts to conceal the pained look that twists her features for a moment when J’kson mentions how his weyrlinghood should have been and folds herself down onto the blanket, her gaze not quite focused until she blinks up at him again. “I’m surprised she didn’t tell our mother,” she remarks, curling up further to rest her head in his lap. “Maybe she likes you.” She closes her eyes and gives a quiet, content sigh. “Running your own place would give you more control over matters and a more predictable income, I’d think. It’d probably be safer for you and Malynth in the long run, at least in not having to worry about getting on the wrong side of the establishment. No-one could throw you out of your own place.”

“What would you think… if it were //our// place?” J’kson wonders aloud, looking down at her with a hopeful smile. “We could crack heads together and see to it that we turn a profit that’ll be suitable to the Court. You and Akanyth won’t have to deliver me all across Pern most nights… we can focus on one place and one profit.” He brushes calloused fingertips along her cheek. “We wouldn’t live there,” he considers, looking towards the lounging blue. “We could still call the Court our home. But we could have rooms for when we want to sleep there…,” he pauses, looking to her. “I’m such a silly dreamer, aren’t I?” he laughs softly. “Making assumptions…”

Arlet opens her eyes to meet J’kson’s and rolls onto her back so that she can look up at him and watch him with greater ease. “…It’s not silly,” she murmurs, her focus a little distant again. “Not if it’s what you really want. If you want it to be ours and not something that’s solely yours to control, bar what the Court will inevitably want to take. I don’t mind if you want to be lord of your own establishment. I can still be your…” pink touches her cheeks as she tries to find the right word, “…partner… mate… without needing a say.” She reaches for one of his hands, to thread her fingers back with his. “…It’d be nice to have somewhere to go, away from the Court. I don’t know that I can stay and watch my mother keep another baby when I’m the one she didn’t want.”

J’kson gives her hands a squeeze, smiling tenderly down at Arlet. “Wife, mate, partner. You can claim any title you want. I will call you whatever you want me to. I want you to do something //with// me. I want it to be ours.” He kisses the top of her nose. He grows quiet after her admission, looking thoughtfully off at the lapping waves. “Is it how it was? That she didn’t want you? She wanted you enough to ask you to follow her here, didn’t she? More than my own father would’ve done and I lived with him.” He shrugs and looks back to her. “A place for us to run. Where we don’t have to always remember the hurt of our lives. Where,” he grins, “we can get marks out of people who want to give them up for fun.”

“…Wife?” Arlet echoes, not quite able to keep her voice steady as she fixes an unintentionally wide-eyed stare on J’kson, the pink tinting her features deepening to scarlet. “You…” But she can’t get the question out, nor seek clarification another way, something too vulnerable there and gone as she forces it back down. “We can do that,” she focuses on instead, taking a deep breath. “Build somewhere that’s ours. Where we make the rules.” She plants her hands down flat on the blanket and sits up, tucking herself close with one hip touching his. “And we don’t have to worry about the people who should have looked after us, because we’ll look after each other.”

J’kson puts an arm around her shoulders, aiding Arlet in tucking against him and keeping as close as contact as he can with her. “We’ll look after each other,” he assures her, “and we’ll do it by being ourselves. I don’t want you to think that this means… I want you to change,” he tries to clarify, his shoulder twitching in a brief shrug as he half-chuckle, half-hmphs, “as you know me better than most. I can’t guarantee I’ll change. I’ve been trying lately…,” he squeezes her shoulder. “And it’s been going well. It may not last.” He looks out at the water again, thoughtful as he holds her. “We’ll make it official. All of it. I don’t need M’tan’s direct approval. I’ve got money, believe it or not. Inheritance from my father. I’ll use that to go and buy the place I’ve had eyes on. And we’ll have a Harper draw us up papers, for the marriage. And to become business partners.” He kisses her temple. “A fresh start.”

There remains one point that Arlet can’t seem to process properly, for she echoes, “Marriage,” just as she did on the subject earlier, her eyes scanning J’kson’s for whatever she may find. “…You really want to marry me?” she questions, dropping her gaze at that last syllable to stare down at his knees, then at the blanket, then just about anywhere other than back up at him. “I don’t need you to change,” is a softer declaration, one corner of the blanket a fascinating thing. “…But I want to. I don’t always want to be like this. I want to be better. For Akanyth, for you… for Aadi, maybe one day, even if not as his mother. I don’t know how long it will take or if I can do it, but I want to try.”

“I didn’t get a ring yet,” J’kson tells her, wanting to soften the seriousness of her words with a tease, “because I truly thought you’d tell me no. ‘No, you stupid alcoholic blueriding idiot. We can’t marry. My mother will kill you.’” He squeezes her shoulder again and goes to kiss her temple when Arlet can’t look at him. “I want to try too. We can both try. I want you to know I’m beside you when you try. And here when you need me to support you.” He moves his finger to her chin, guiding her gaze from the blanket to his face. “We’ll have to tell your mother together,” he tells her, his eyes full of mischief, “so you can keep her from gutting me.” He kisses her then, wanting to focus on the happiness of the moment, rather than the uncertainty of both of their futures. He kisses her long and hard, easing her back against the blanket, wanting to show her how much she means to him through his lips alone.

Arlet lets J’kson ease her down and lazily wraps herself around him, drawing back only when surfacing for air becomes a necessity. “It’s no-one else’s business who I choose to marry,” she murmurs, edging her lips along his jaw. “So we should get married for us and tell them later. They’ll only make comments and suggest we’re equally stupid if we try to get them to be part of it.” She kisses him again, sliding her hands down to press him closer. “People who want to celebrate with us can. The rest… they don’t matter.” Lying back just enough to look up at him, she murmurs, “If you want to tell them first, then we can, but whatever they say won’t change that I love you.”

“We don’t have anything to hide,” J’kson tells her as he hovers above her, moving his weight to rest on one elbow as his other hand moves to brush her hair behind her ears. “We’ll tell them and let them complain. I hope they’ll want to be present. I’m sure Safiye,” he grins at the mention of Arlet’s sister, “will be positively thrilled.” Malynth stirs in his nearby wallow, crooning at the mention of the girl. “He’s fond of her for some reason,” he shakes his head and waves Malynth off, “You can bother me later about her, Malynth. I’m busy.” He returns to kissing her then, slow and steady, as his hands wander the length of her body. “Mine,” he murmurs along her jaw, “always.” He kisses further down her neck and throat, moving to nuzzle against her chest. “You better stop me,” he teases as his hands flicker down the length of her legs, “otherwise I’m going to have you good and proper right here.”

“If you stop, I’ll be the one making sure you don’t live to see our wedding,” Arlet threatens in a growl, twisting her fingers into J’kson’s hair to tug him back to her for a searing kiss. “Besides,” she sighs against his lips, “are you telling me you put a blanket down without any intention of using it properly?” With not a human soul to see them, she has no shame in getting him out of his clothes, nor in helping him get rid of hers and letting laughter and the other sounds he coaxes from her ring out and get lost beneath the sound of the ocean. When they return to the Court, she only has a broad smirk for those who observe her progress through halls and corridors with her hand in his, and the slamming and locking of the door to her quarters to any would-be guests.

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