Vicious Souls

Who: Arlet and J’kson
Where: Gambling Den, Southern Contintent
What: Arlet returns home after having reluctantly taken Akanyth to a Weyr.

Now that the Court has sent their young dragonriders for further training at Fort, J’kson has been allowed to fully settle himself and Malynth in Bitra. The gambling den has been open for a few nights and already word has spread along the Bitran border that a new place to play has opened its doors to the public. J’kson sits at the bar as he watches various games of cards going on within his walls. The staff that he has hired are all from the Court – those who wanted to leave their home and find more permanent residence outside of the watchful eyes of their masters. The rooms that were once joked to be leased as private rooms or offices have indeed found tenants in the barkeep, waitresses, and dealers. J’kson twirls a glass aimlessly on the bar top as he considers the stock of alcohol behind it.

There remain times when Arlet has to give in to what Akanyth wants and take him to whichever Weyr she feels is quietest and least likely to care about their presence on the given day, to chase as many greens as he pleases. It’s ceased to be something that she particularly enjoys, no longer needing the distraction of anything she can find to stop her from dwelling on her feelings – or what was a lack of them entirely. She doesn’t even make it easy on herself, still refusing to share the bed of any rider whose green Akanyth might catch and rejecting any offers from any who lose when he does too, and while the brown has been home, smug with his success, for an hour or so, Arlet has stubbornly hidden away until she’s worth talking to and can think beyond the day’s events. By the time she crosses the distance from cothold to den, she certainly looks human enough, her arms sliding around J’kson in what is no more than an affectionate embrace when she finds him, propping her head on his shoulder to regard the alcohol with him. “…Is this going to be… bearable, for you?” she murmurs. “I should’ve thought. Is it going to… upset you?” She wrinkles her nose and mutters, “Not the right word.”

J’kson reaches up his hand to pat at Arlet’s arm as it slides around him. “It’s easier than it was before,” he tells her as he leans his head back so he can look up and to the side at her with a smile. “Malynth says Akanyth is bragging about his conquests again. It’s the only time I hear hints of bitterness in Malynth about his deformity. He wishes he could fly high enough to catch. It’s easier on him that we are here,” he adds, lowering his voice and smiling in the mirror over the bar as he makes eye contact with one of their patrons. “So he isn’t hearing the flights broadcast all the time.” He turns in his seat and hugs his arms about Arlet, moving to tuck her on his lap as he nuzzles along her jaw. “So far we’ve had a dozen or so people come and go. The murmurings are our tables are easy to pick and our dealers don’t know what they’re doing. I imagine by the end of the week we’ll have people coming in to count cards and try to sweep the house. It’ll be fun to watch them squirm as they lose what they anticipated keeping.”

Arlet supplies a mock groan of protest at J’kson shifts her into his lap and nuzzles along her jaw, muttering, “I just managed to stop thinking about what I’d much rather have spent my day doing with you and, I tell you, people are very shortly going to think this is a very different sort of establishment if you keep up with that.” Not that she actually does anything to try to get him to stop, choosing to claim a kiss instead. “I’ll get Akanyth to shut up,” she promises. “I could ask him to share what it’s like, but that might just be frustrating and weird.” She shrugs, not quite sure what to make of the thought. “I’ll gladly welcome whatever kind of fool that thinks that they can take advantage of a new business. We’d better have more security ready in the event of a group getting it into their heads to turn the place over and not getting what they want. I’ve no compunction throwing individuals out, but outnumbered I’m not much good hand to hand.”

J’kson favors exchanging a number of kisses before he bothers to think about the business they are discussing. “Malynth’s in a mood today. He’ll forget all about it in a day or so. I say let Akanyth have his fun,” he says with a smile. “As to security? You tell me how many people you want and we’ll have them. I imagine we’ll have to recruit our own people. Not everyone has to be of the Court to work here,” he shares as he wraps his arms about her and tucks her against him. He looks out at the gaming tables and hugs her closer to him. “It’ll all work out. Not every place one plays poker at will turn into a cesspool of debauchery and violence. We’ll make sure we solicit the type of clients we want to have here. We’ll keep the place upscale, the buy-ins pricey enough to keep the general riff-raff out, and we’ll see how we do.” He looks towards the door and then sighs as he leans back. “I wonder how long it’ll take before M’tan comes to see the place.”

Lanky though she may be, Arlet does her best to fold herself down beneath J’kson’s chin so that she can stare out across the room while still kept firmly in his embrace. “I’d hope M’tan’s got things closer to home to worry about,” she murmurs. “I swear my mother had at least another month to go before Joy arrived. He should concern himself less with us and more with her and the daughter he’s had to surrender to Fort.” She noses beneath his chin. “Maybe Malynth misses the babies. He was good with them. I know they had to go, with what happened with Vesoviath, but it isn’t as if he really got asked how he felt about letting them go. Even for Akanyth… Keeping watch was something that kept him occupied, though he’ll deny it was for the little ones until his last breath.”

“I would argue that M’tan has an invested interest in our establishment because of a daughter,” J’kson’s tone is light and his arms are warm about Arlet. “I hope that the baby is well, even if she was early. I don’t know enough about those things. As far as Safiye and the others… Isolwyn will keep them safe.” He grows quiet as he considers his words, adding, “And she knows, because of how Jet and M’tan handled that dragonhealer, what could become her and others if they do not.” He sighs, squeezes Arlet, and loosens his hold on her. “Malynth needs more purpose than being my escort to and from places, this is true. What that can be for him, I’ve yet to figure out. Being in charge of babies was important to him. And he was good at it. That doesn’t mean I wish to return to the Court and tend to their future baby dragons were they to get them. Nor do I want to live in a Weyr where Malynth will be ridiculed.” He shrugs his shoulders and kisses Arlet’s neck. “We will find something for both of them to do here, with us. It’s not as if there aren’t other dragons living at Holds away from their kind now.”

“Yes, but I’m not his, am I?” Arlet doesn’t make it a bitter observation, though it is an easy one nonetheless. “He would never have asked one of his own what he asked me. He supported us in our marriage and in this, but… I’ll never be his. And anyway, I’d much rather he cared for Aadi than for me. I have no right to comment on anyone’s supposed parenting when I’m not there for him.” She rests her head against J’kson’s shoulder and falls quiet for a few moments before uttering a much darker, “Fort is full of vicious souls. I’m not sure that Jet and M’tan realise that they won’t go as quietly as that dragonhealer, were they to try something.” When he kisses her neck, she makes another soft sound and instinctively tips her head back. “…If you keep doing that, you really are going to have take me home,” she warns. She blinks, frowning, as she considers, “Maybe the problem was raising the babies //at the Court//. Out here, it would be…”

J’kson lets the quiet settle between them as he’s never quite sure how to approach the subject of Arlet’s son when she brings him up. He watches one of the gambling tables as hoots and hollers go up as a man sweeps the table and draws the pile of money towards him gleefully. The dealer looks to J’kson and the bluerider grins as he waves the concern away. “You’d think people don’t realize the rise and fall of poker. People go up — and people crash down. The house almost always wins. Our dealers will have to get used to riding out the concern of large wins at their tables.” He lets the conversation go back towards Fort as he considers Arlet’s words. “Vicious souls are not so far from our own,” he murmurs, “and I do believe Safiye and Vesoviath, as well as the other three, will be well treated there. Isolwyn would not harm them.” He kisses at Arlet’s neck again to distract her and then pauses, listening. “Out here it would be… easier for them to grow?”

“Well, that one in particular is going to have to generate a better poker face, if you’ll excuse the horrendous pun,” Arlet murmurs, glancing from the dealer and back to J’kson, only for any further remotely intelligent thoughts to scatter when he persists with his kissing. “Look, you,” she eventually puts together in a low growl, turning her head just enough for her teeth to touch his neck as she speaks. “I got through a day of Akanyth winning two greens and losing three all by myself, and you’re employing quite unfair tactics. So, I’m going to withhold my thoughts on letting Malynth raise babies out here and //you// are going to take me to our bed and remind me why you’re the only one that I want.” And with that, she gracefully removes herself from his lap and grabs for his hand to haul him after her.

“He had the energy to go after that many?” J’kson doesn’t conceal his shock over the number as he looks to Arlet with lifted brows. He stands as she hauls him up and then he’s using their combined hands to tug her against his chest so he can hug her tightly. “One day, if you have need of it, you know you could… with the riders.” He kisses her cheek and then slings an arm around her middle. He gives a two-finger wave and mock salute to the guard at the door as they exit. Their home is only a short walk from their place of business. Once inside the safety of their home, J’kson locks the door behind them. J’kson doesn’t wait to claim more heated kisses from Arlet. Though, he does have the restraint, to guide them back towards their bedroom where he makes good on Arlet’s request to prove to her that he is all she would want for.

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