Quiet Time

Who: Jet, M’tan, Joy, Aaadi
Where: Court of Shadows, Honshu Territory
What: Considering what to do about Aadi.

Though she may have arrived early and been tiny, Joy has grown in a manner that suggests she could always be dainty regardless of that fact, and has easily charmed half the Court in the months since her birth, leaving plenty to dote on her when her parents are busy with matters away from the Hold or simply shut away dealing with the administrative side. This afternoon, Jet has swept her away from the company of the nannies and her brothers and brought her back to her parents’ quarters, where she’s settled a soft blanket on the floor and now sits with the youngest of her children, assisting her building various towers, buildings and pens for animals to create a Hold of her own from multicolored blocks.

M’tan, while a doting and attentive father, has never gone out of his way to spend special time with any of his children outside of the family time he spends with them in Jet’s company. For whatever reason, he has deviated this by spending more time with his grandson. He walks into their home leading the little toddler by the hand, whatever conversation they’ve been having since they’ve been on their outing is continued as he makes his way through their rooms. “Yes, that’s right, that color is green. And that’s purple.” He pauses as he looks to Jet and Joy with a bright smile, letting his grandson’s go so he can toddle over to his favorite sister. He plops himself down next to joy and begins to knock two blocks together to enjoy the noise they create. “Sorry,” M’tan offers his mate with a wry grin. “He does enjoy being disruptive!”

Joy looks between the grown-ups in the room, then at Aadi, her eyes narrowing a little as though she’s trying to decide exactly what she can do about the noise, but ultimately she continues on selecting animals to shove into the pen she’s had help in building. “Makes me wonder about his father,” Jet admits, offering Joy another wooden sheep. “Then, we can’t say we knew his mother at this age either.” She reaches over to ruffle a gentle hand through Aadi’s hair. “She doesn’t seem set on giving him any brothers or sisters any time soon.” Joy indiscriminately herds some cows and horses in with the sheep, then abruptly lifts her arms up towards her father. “I’m glad he has our boys and joy for company.”

“I don’t like to think about his father,” M’tan admits as he moves to pick Joy up at her reaching hands. He hugs her against his chest and then moves to sit down opposite Jet. He tucks his daughter in his lap and wraps his arms loosely about her as he holds her. Aadi blinks at Jet before he moves on to explore the rest of the toys that Joy has laid out near him. “How often is she coming to visit him? Does she… at least visit him?” M’tan asks tentatively, looking at Aadi as Joy wriggles free of his grasp to go and pull a toy from him. Aadi’s used to this and seems content to move his focus to another toy as Joy settles to play with the one in her grasp. “J’kson and Arlet’s gambling establishment has been far more lucrative than the bar is. I wonder if I should convert that to a gambling house as well.”

“He’s dead now,” Jet murmurs with nothing but deep satisfaction, her voice lowered for Aadi’s sake even if the child cannot have any understanding of death at his age. She hesitates, pretending greater focus on Aadi and Joy’s interaction than strictly necessary, delaying her response for a few seconds that seem to stretch on for longer than they are. “Arlet doesn’t… spend time with him,” she confesses. “If she visits, she asks after him, both with me and the nannies, but I’ve not seen her directly interact with him in months. I’ve tried to tell myself it’s because his birth was so traumatic and she’s never got over it, but I can’t think it’s only that. And whatever it is may mean J’kson never has children from her.” She looks up at M’tan, her gaze shading contemplative. “Maybe you could ask for their help to convert it. See if it might draw her back to Aadi a little.”

“I could ask them,” M’tan supposes as he considers the two children. “I only wonder if they left to get away from this,” he nods his head towards Aadi and then taps his chest. “Or me.” He doesn’t seem bothered by that thought as he smiles and reaches to hold Jet’s hand. “Let them have their place. If anything is going to draw her back to Aadi, it would have to be something that doesn’t involve me. I know she jumped forward to find us…, I only wish in finding us she didn’t get so broken.” He rubs his thumb along Jet’s palm. “Benden is beginning to look like a potential weak spot to tuck a knife against,” he changes the subject as he looks to her with a glint in his eyes. “Fort’s sent away the bronzerider whose dragon caught their junior’s gold. I have heard rumors that the bronzerider is not pleased with losing his chance to remain close to the clutch. And there are other leaders at Benden who are beginning to vocalize their… frustrations… at Fort’s growth.”

“I’m going to have to talk to her about all of it again,” Jet says quietly, watching M’tan’s thumb move across her palm. “If she’ll talk to me about any of it. If nothing else, I think we need an answer as to whether she ever intends to be his mother. Because, if not, we are more his parents than grandparents.” Aadi pauses in his examination of a wooden firelizard to look up at her. “And that’s the right of it,” she adds emphatically, running a hand over his shoulders. “We’ve thrown our lot in with Fort now. And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t feel like we need much of an excuse to make Benden suffer. Should they ever turn their gaze to Safiye again, I won’t be waiting on word from Fort as to the whys and hows. Someone is going to pay.”

“You know I support either decision of Arlet’s,” M’tan tells Jet quietly, not wanting to speak too loudly lest the children overhear anything. “Father or grandfather, I love him the same.” He seems more comfortable to shift to the subject of Benden, even with the threats made by Jet regarding the Weyr. “We may want to consider actions against Benden if they start to do more than complain about changes. Fort’s growth is something we both agree we want to see. While it appears Honshu was… rather dramatic about our involvement, Fort has seemed more of a mind to understand what they can gain from working with us. Our riders are old enough now to be sent out wherever we may want to place them. Perhaps they can go and visit Benden directly? To gauge what they may be able to influence? We should find a purpose for them outside of being shuttle services for our people and hunters.”

“Maybe we should send two of them to Benden on a more permanent basis,” Jet considers, letting Joy crawl towards her and situate herself on her lap as she starts gathering a little herd of various farm animals. “If it’s in Fort’s interest too, I can’t imagine they’d have too many objections to creating some transfer papers to suggest that they wish to leave Fort and sympathise with Benden. It’d serve us both to have some people there who could relay information back, provided that those we send remember they owe their loyalty to us.” She casts her gaze down to Joy. “With Fort keeping Vesoviath from rising, it isn’t as if we need to keep any other male dragons around in-case she were here to fly.”

M’tan’s smile flattens into a frown as he’s once more reminded of Safiye and Vesoviath’s situation. “It could prove our continued relationship is beneficial to both Fort and to the Court were we to send one of our dragonriders to Benden to collect intel. It may also open us up for more scrutiny from the Weyr Council. With Honshu’s leaders moving to a Hold whose Lady Holder is a dragonrider herself… it would seem the Council has begun to show positive changes.” He rubs at his jaw and then shrugs, moving to right one of the toys Aadi has knocked over in play. “I had value from placing J’kson at Fort all those years ago. I could see the value in leveraging a new dragonrider in a similar capacity.” He looks to Jet. “Our contracts for murder seem to have died down,” he notes with a smirk, “so perhaps Pern is finding a sense of rightness in the world. For now.”

“Maybe they’re all debating who they want their next target to be.” Jet presses a kiss to the top of Joy’s head and laces her arms loosely around her. “I doubt it’ll be long before Fort or Honshu or another of them makes new enemies or decides that one needs to be brought to heel. C’aol doesn’t strike me as the sort to go for long without deciding someone needs teaching a lesson, ironic as that is.” Joy offers her one of the sheep, which she idly trots along her leg for her entertainment. “Speaking of Fort and Safiye and him, why don’t you go and visit her while I go and see Arlet?”

M’tan looks up from handing Aadi a block for the boy to try and stack on top of another one. “I’ll go see her,” he tells Jet, “tomorrow. Unannounced. I’ll make a point to check in with C’aol as well to ensure he’s following through on his commitment to her safety.” He smiles crookedly as Aadi shoves his fists through the stack of blocks to tumble them all to the ground. “Our little destroyer,” he says as he reaches forward to ruffle Aadi’s hair. He rises then, looking down at Aadi and Joy. “I’ll leave him with you, if that’s alright? I’m going to go and check on a few things before we settle down for the evening.” He moves towards Jet so he can bend forward and kiss the top of her head. “I’ll make sure the children’s care is arranged for tomorrow since we’ll both be outside of the Court.” He pokes Joy playfully on the cheek before he turns and strides out of the room

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