I'm Right Here

November 19, 2016
==== Calisi, Risali
====
Xanadu Weyr - Musical Garden Refuge
Constructed of hand-chiselled whitestone, this large cottage is unique in that it appears to have been here from before the time Xanadu was founded, its stones bearing a resemblance to the ruins in the old forest. Large windows, flanked by raw wooden shutters faded to a silvery-grey, have thick-leaded diamond panes that allow the meadow's light inside. Pink climbing roses scale the front wall, the porcelain blossoms scenting the air with their delicate fragrance and providing shade over the three shallow stone steps leading to a portico in which an arch-topped door is set.

The space within the cottage is vast, but simple. Stone floors are covered in large rugs in pale, pastel shades and the walls have been painted white. The front door opens up into the main living space, a living room that has a double-wide, deeply-inset window that makes the sunny room perfect for housing potted plants, Isyriath's portion opening off of one side. The door to the kitchen is almost immediately to the right, heating and cooling units to be found within. Comfortable couches in pale pink line two of the walls of the living area, standing opposite each other, a long, low table set between them in the centre of the room. On the wall, above one of the couches, hangs a tapestry in which a gold and blue dragon feature. To the rear of the cottage, a door to the left leads through to the main bedroom, while a short corridor on the right leads through to two more bedrooms. French doors open up onto a private, high-walled courtyard, a garden enclosed within.

The main bedroom is decorated in the same pale colours as much of the cottage, the large bed made up in white and sage-green sheets, plentiful pillows and blankets stacked and folded neatly when not in use. Oak bedside tables flank it, while a dresser with a large mirror sits against the far wall at its foot. Through from the bedroom, a bathroom tiled in white sports a deep bathtub set into the ground, the sink and shower crisp and clean of design.


It's been hours after the flight. There hasn't been any sign of Calisi. If Risali has been looking for her, she hears they had to be rescued from the butte, that it was K'vir or someone that caught Meirath and that nobody's seen Calisi since. Her and Marel's house is off the meadow and if she tries that she'll find the door ajar. Inside of it, there is a prone shape. Clothes are askew, hair is a mess, and Calisi is lying curled in a crescent shape around what looks like a blood splatter that isn't her own. She's clutching something close to her and her cheek is against the floor. She looks like she's unconscious but she's just sleeping.

Risali has looked everywhere; high low, in places she was pretty sure she wouldn't find the goldrider but figured was worth a look anyway. Person after person had shied away from the question, or shrugged their shoulders, or shook their heads; the harper was about to give up her pursuit altogether and secure a ride home when one helpful well-doer pointed her in the direction of Cali's home. It takes her some time to navigate, completely at a loss for Xanadu's layout, but she does get there. She's got numbweed in most places, but time has made the bruises on her contrast in a brutal bloom of angry purples and hideous blacks; her neck is practically nothing but the ugly colors, one eye remains bruised but less swollen, there's a cut above her eye and her lips, and the knuckles of her right hand are in the process of scabbing where the flesh came away in a fight. Her nose is bruised, her jaw and cheek are bruised - truth be told, she looks about as fantastic as Calisi does, but Risa is on her feet and moving. "Calisi," the goldrider's name is breathy and strangled, strained as her throat works to form the words around a bruised larynx. She freezes, for a moment terrified, going through a thousand thoughts from healers to K'vir to who can help, what is she supposed to do, and then she puts a lid on mounting panic. The younger woman wills herself forward, kneeling on the ground as grey eyes take in spattered blood before she reaches out to very gently touch Cali's face. The pads of her fingers follow her hairline, pushing gently at blonde hair and trailing over her cheek. She's breathing, and the knowledge helps Risali to relax - but only just. "Cali," still a strained whisper, though Risa leans further in until her lips are just above the goldrider's ear. This time her hand finds her shoulder, grasping in a grip that's altogether gentle even when she gives her a very gentle shake. "Cali?"

The motionless woman on the floor is clutching what seems to be the destroyed remnants of an anklet. But not any anklet, this has a weird mix of electrical components and a some other assorted gubbins on it. Much to Risali's relief, Calisi's eyes open at about the third time she calls her name. Her eyes are not focused and she does't see Risali. The shake helps, so does the closeness of her lips and her pupils shrink; eyes becoming suddenly alert as she swings her gaze to the girl and….. turns deadly pale. Risali can see it. The color drains completely out of Calisi's face and her eyes go so far away it looks like she's going to pass out. Then she grabs at Risali's leg with both of her arms and the tears that come are hysterical. Not even sad. Pure hysteria. The sound of someone who's mind has snapped and gone completely. "I'M SO FUCKING SORRY! IT WASN'T ME! NOT YOU TOO!" It doesn't make any sense at all. "That's it. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't do this. I can't. As soon as I can get up, we'll.. we'll go to the dark place and then you'll never have to see me again and I won't do that to you again, and I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't." She's lost it. Cracked like an egg.

Risali's eyes go wide as she jerks back, locking gazes with Cali only to - Cali's arms catch her leg and Risali goes still, hands pulled back and poised above the goldrider in that momentary second that it takes her brain to catch up with her eyes so that she can figure out what the hell is happening. Risali can only manage extended silence in the wake of mass hysteria, and it's not until the woman utters 'I can't,' for the thousandth time that Risa pries Cali's arms from her leg, settles herself beside Calisi on the floor, and pulls the woman into a hug. Her own hurts matter little in the wake of Calisi's crumbling everything, and she runs fingers through her hair while she rocks her as best she can given the limitations of their position. "I'm here," she whispers in that strained way, smelling of cinnamon and rum, numbweed and K'vir, bubblies and L'or; there isn't much sense that she can make out of the smaller woman, but she holds her against herself regardless and pieces together fragments of shattered thoughts. "You didn't… do anything to me…" A slow intake of breath, and Risa's eyes fixate on what they can: the broken anklet, again the spattered blood, and grey eyes close tight. "Cali," she breathes, once, twice, three times, and then she tries again, "I'm right here. I'm here with you." Notice she doesn't ask what happened, or tell her to stop, or try to tell her that it's going to be okay; Risali has enough experience with her own hurts to know that these kinds of breakdowns are usually the ones in which words of such nature are scathingly insulting or inadequate. And so she just repeats it, over and over: "I'm here. I'm here. You didn't hurt me. I'm right here."

She's about as limp as a noodle; and she can't let go of the anklet and she can't get herself into a position where she can stop the tears either. She's just gone; and Risali is the one who has to cope with it. K'vir got some of it earlier (in more ways than one, haw haw haw) but seeing Risali all beat like that when she just did the /SAME THING/ to someone that she loves so much was too much for her to bear. All she can do is hold her and rock her and wait, the hysteria going out of her eyes after half an hour or so. "I…. I didn't?" Calisi asks, confused. "I… I didn't….. I didn't hurt you?" She seems so out of it, almost on drugs. But no, no, she's been on Meirath. "… Oh my." She rolls into Risali's embrace and squeezes her. She can't cry anymore, her eyes have literally stopped producing tears. "… Everything's ruined. I'm not even being melodramatic, it really is. That's…. that's…." She can't look at the splattering of blood on the floor. She just can't. "… that's Marel's. I hit her. I hit her. I hit her. I tell my daughters… that violence is never the answer, that … that…." Her lip is quivering and she's threatening to go into hysterics again. "….. and I just bloodied their mother. I bloodied her doing something awful. It was all me, I wasn't even defending myself. It's.. It's…" She closes her eyes and takes a quivering breath. "Let me focus on you. So I can stop hoping Meirath mistimes a jump and we aren't… just aren't anymore. …. What happened to you?

Half an hour, an hour, a day; the length of time doesn't matter to Risali — she's there, repeating her mantra, holding onto Calisi for however long it takes the goldrider to cry herself out and roll into her embrace. The squeezing earns a whimper of discomfort from Risali, but lest Calisi thinks this means she needs to loosen her grip or let go, Risa momentarily strengthens her hold. She looks just as wretched beneath her clothes, and the contact invokes aches she didn't allow K'vir to apply with numbweed. When the goldrider speaks, Risali simply listens; she doesn't offer advice, she doesn't pry for further questions, she merely inserts, "I'm so sorry," at intervals, sounding desperately sincere despite the fact that what Calisi is revealing is truly terrifying. But Risali isn't here to judge, she is here to run her fingers through Cali's hair, listen to her intangible hurts, and let her cry. Risa stiffens, though whether it's in response to her becoming the focus in lieu of Calisi's crumbling mental state or the hope for absolute nothing is debatable. A breath, a slow exhale, and then a whisper of breath, "I got… cornered by… two men and a woman. I think… they wanted to… scare me." A pause, as she swallows her own emotions, fights back her own panic and horror at an assault too fresh and an outcome that never was but could very well have been. "The two men… They… They pressed themselves… against me. I don't… I don't think they expected me… to fight. But I… I did. I did and… they got angry." Another swallow, another moment used to rest her straining voice and then, "They… I thought they were going to…" And Risali's voice breaks, emotion coming unbidden both in wavering words and to wet her eyes, body trembling even as she tries to will herself calm. "I thought they were going to… rape me. But they… They didn't. And…" Breathe. "I'm okay." Silence, silence in which she realizes she's stopped rocking and stopped petting and beings to do both again: "I'm here, thought. Now. I'm right here. Let me… get you some water."

It snaps Calisi out of her troubles so fast that Risali might have poured water actually on her; because she sits up a little and hugs Risali as though to comfort her and she winces when she does it. Nope, her body is protesting that. Risali is doing what she needs to do though; the right thing. Tell her troubles, pet her and don't ask too many questions. If it sounds terrifying it's because it is! Did she ever have to see her mother out of her mind like that? "I'll kill them." Calisi says, honestly and helpfully. "You just tell me who forced themselves on you." Is that what she meant by pressed against her? She can't tell until the end. "…. And I'm so sorry that happened to you. You look awful. Maybe… we met for fate." She reaches to Risali's hand when she talks about water, slipping her fingers through it. "I don't need a drink. I just need…. this is awkward, but i hurt. Really bad. I don't want to go to the infirmary because they will send me to the /mental ward/ right now. And they'd be right to do so. K'vir… really did a number on me. I'm banged up, especially my back. I think I have shards of rock in it. He couldn't find any better place to fuck me apparently." She sniffs again; wavering, lip quivering and almost loses it. So close. All of her hurts and horrible things and K'vir had to fuck her on the rocks. "…. There's a bottle of spirits and some tweezers in the bookshelf in the living room. Would you mind having a look and picking out what you can?"

Calisi's rage on her behalf is as comforting as it is disquieting - and not because of the goldrider's honest and helpful threat (promise?), but because Risali is finding herself surrounded by people who care for her wellbeing outside of family and isn't quite sure how to cope with it. It's nice, it's… "He did what?" Risali's voice might be a whisper of breath, but it's clear that if she could command the words to bat-screeching decibels, she would; as it is, the words come out in pitchy breaths of disbelief as Calisi's fingers interdigitate with hers and Risali squeezes. Grey eyes find Cali's after a moment of unseeing rage, and the emotion and expression go suddenly muted as she listens to the rest of her story and request. There's a long pause, but Risa ends it by stretching out her unhindered arm into the space between them and pushes some hair out of Calisi's face with the tips of fingers. There's a soft smile there, genuine in its warmth, before she breathes a soft, "Of course. I'll be right back." Risali gives Calisi's hand one more squeeze, and then pushes herself back onto her knees before gaining her feet and taking measured steps to the aforementioned bookshelf in the aforementioned living room to retrieve the aforementioned booze and tweezers. Risali does not stop there, however. The woman is stubborn, and she locates water anyway, along with a cloth that looks spare, and only then does she return to Cali with her burdens. "Do you… want to do this here, or… somewhere else? Maybe… soaking in the bath will… help to loosen some of… the debris?" She will just hesitate in the doorway, waiting for Calisi to either confirm or deny her idea.

"… With all respect and love. I've exposed myself to just about everyone I know in the last while. If it hasn't been my body it's been my heart. You are amazing; in the state that you are in right now you -STILL- want to look after me. But I don't think I'm ready to be in a bath with you. I…. kind of like that you feel like the one friend that hasn't seen me in every one of my vulnerable states." She could be talked into it though. Her voice is cracking and she looks /defeated/; but Risali is going to have to know what she's getting into. It all comes out by autonomic reflexes. "…. It wasn't really K'vir's fault." She mumbles. Sad. Fuck, she's going to get him in trouble too. Can she do /anything/ right? "He didn't… have many options on where to do it, but he could have gone on the bottom. I guess." A grudging admission. She shrugs off her torn shirt and sits up cross legged; elbows on her knees and her hands over her face. Her back is a mess of small gashes, some of which have sand and stones in them. Read: She's been lain roughly, and lain on /gravel/ apparently, and pale skin isn't very happy about it.

But Risali doesn't look at all offended. The harper merely remains until Calisi makes her own wishes clear, and then she comes closer. Despite tweezers, and spirits, and water, and cloths, Risali curls her arms around Calisi's shoulders and pulls the goldrider in for another brief, but no less poignant hug. "We won't… do anything you're… uncomfortable with. No… baths…" Breathe. Risali relinquishes her hold, depositing her bounty before taking up a spot behind Calisi. There's a wince when grey eyes take in the damage and, despite Calisi's defense of the bronzerider and his dragonlust-driven actions, Risali bites out a breathy, "I'm going to kill him," at Cali's back. She hesitates for a moment, not knowing where to start, and then settles on removing the culprits that look least likely to require digging and, therefore, hurt. "If… you want me to stop… say so. I'll… move on… and soak that area before… I come back to it. Okay?" But she doesn't wait for Calisi to agree, she starts her work, diligent and thorough, gentle when she can be but rough when she has no other choice - and she even soaks when applicable, wetting the cloth and holding it with gentle to any wounds. "He didn't… clean you up?"

Calisi has gone to her happy place by the time that Risali comes back; except it isn't a happy place at all. It's just a place where she doesn't have to feel anything. She wasn't wearing anything under the shirt int he first place (K'vir's probably wearing it as a trophy) and her modesty is kept by lying prone on the floor; face down with her cheek against the cool tile. Completely and utterly resigned to this fate that has come along. "If you want the truth." Calisi says, softly. "It's not personal discomfort. It's that I think you're really pretty, and I fuck up everything with people I think are really pretty and I don't want to put myself in a situation with you where one of us isn't wearing clothes for any reason at all. I'm just not going to do it; you've been super nice to me and you are /super/ pretty, and I just /punched out my fucking wife/ and that is /her blood/ I am looking at right now. The only responsible thing I can do with my /life/ right now is to not put myself in any kind of situation." Her eyes have been so lost to fatigue that she ends up closing them so she can't see the floor any more. "… it really wasn't his fault. He wanted to, but I just wanted to leave. And not be there. And be anywhere but /FUCK/." The profanity is sudden and loud and happens at the stinging caress of the alchohol. But it's just one curse and a few silent tears because in her heart? She really deserves to be hurt right now.

Risali didn't ask for the truth, but the woman doesn't shy away from it either. Her hands still for fractions of a second as her brain catches up with Calisi's words, but even as her cheeks bloom with color, she just keeps going. Risali works, Calisi makes confession after confession, and Risali only stops once that final, crude but profoundly telling word comes out of the goldrider's mouth. "I'll clean it up… as soon as I'm done…" she breathes, and she's talking about the blood. Really, it shouldn't just be left to stain and remind and - "And I'm still… going to kill him." Risali begins her work again, nearing the end of what she can get without vigorously washing the wounds. Cali will need to be tended by a healer, but Risa will do what she can in the interim. "I think… you're pretty… too. And it's," pause, breathe, "okay. We won't do anything… you don't want to. Whatever the reason. I'm… right here." And she is. She lapses back into silence (unless Calisi sees fit to speak more), but she's there, pausing only every now and again to push hair away from her face before finally, finally and exhale. "Done. I'm… going to rinse them with… water and… get out what I can, but… I think you'll… need a healer… for the rest."

"NO." Calisi says; loudly, firmly, and completely sure of herself. "I'll clean it. When I'm ready. It's… It's going to stay there until Marel comes back; I'm not going to wash away what I did and forget about it. I'm going to look at it every day. Every time I step over it I'm going to think about what I've done; until it's sunk in /all of the way/ what I've done, what it means and what a monster I am. I'm not going to let myself forget about it." So maybe she has gone off the deep end alot but it's an improvement of being unable to form words besides 'I can't. "Yeah, well. I'm not going to go see a healer or they'll lock me up. It's probably going to happen anyway; but I can at least delay the inevitable for a little while. Do what you can and the rest will get pushed out when the skin heals. Does anything need stitching?" It hurts. It hurts /so bad/ and Calisi is probably traumatizing the girl but the pain is a lifeline and sanity. Feeling /something/. Something. Slow inhales and ehxales, with her cheek against the ice cold floor. "I don't want you being mad at K'vir either. I don't… even. I don't want or need you to do /anything/." She stops, wincing from something other than the pain. That came out wrong. "I don't mean to say I don't… appreciate what you are doing. I've alienated everyone else, but don't go and be mean to him or I'm going to feel like I can't talk to you either."

Risali doesn't try to offer advice or speak reason into Calisi; she could offer pretty, poignant words of, 'You're going to think about it and remember anyway, Calisi, the rest of the weyr doesn't need to know,' but she doesn't. She could tell Calisi to get herself off of the floor and get herself together, but she doesn't; Risali simply listens. At some point in the conversation, Risali finishes her work, grabbing what remains of the water to pour over cuts and wiping away excess filth from Calisi's back with an increasingly filthy rag. "I don't know," she finally breathes, honestly. "I'm not a… healer, and I've… never been trained it in, but… they look mostly… superficial." Until Calisi says what she does of K'vir. There's a pause, a silence that stretches on into infinity until the shift of fabric announces movement and, seconds later, Risali is kneeling on the floor above Calisi's head. She lowers herself until her own cheek is pressed to the floor in front of Cali, and there's a breathily soft, "Look at me." And she will wait, she will wait until Calisi lifts her gaze or until she loses her patience waiting and tucks fingers beneath her chin to tilt her head up just so. "Please." Risa shifts again, off of her knees, to lay on the floor and run fingers through blond hair slowly, gently, in a manner meant to soothe. "My favorite thing… to do… is kick Kyzen's… ass. Don't take that… don't take that way… from me." And the smile Risali gives is softly punctuated with humor, an attempt to draw out some of the seriousness from the situation even if she knows it's futile. "He… helped me. Maybe we can… have him come back… so he can… check." Faranth but talking is hard, and she focuses on breathing while she waits for an answer.

Calisi speaks just as sharply as her firm no. "If you aern't satisfied with your job that means that you should do it again until you are sure." Sharp words that don't fit the passiveness she uses as Risali works. not a wince, not a complaint. Not even sigh. She also refuses to look at her friend; turning her eyes so that they stare out of the bedroom and into the hallway; beyond that to the swaying grasses of the meadow. When she's /forced/ to look she closes her eyes stubbornly. Look at her not look. The floor's really clean though, aside from Marel having bled all over it. Calisi is a pretty obsessive cleaner. Or Marel is. Or Nerri. Or the dog. someone is. She looks. Finally. She looks and she stubbornly keeps water from falling from her eyes but she can't keep it from pooling there again. "I never want to see him again. I'm going to have to, because I'll be sitting on sands with him, but right now? I really don't want to see him again. I'm having a hard time enough with you. I'd like it very, very much if you'd pet my hair for one more minute and then make yourself scarce. If you want to do something for me, you can find Bethari. She's a queenrider here, and tell her I'm lying on the floor until she comes to see me. Then you can find Kiena. She used to live here, I have no idea where she is now; and tell her that I need to see her too. And if you can do /that/, go ahead and kick K'vir around for me a little."

Let us not forget one very integral part of Risali's personality: she has a temper, and Calisi's sharp words make it flare. Pitiable circumstances or not, Risa is nursing her own injuries and lacking patience. "I'm not a healer," she snaps right back, though her words sound decidedly less scathing given that her voice can't manage much more strength than breathy squeaks. "Snapping at me… isn't going to… make me one." Still, she lowers herself to the floor, and shows compassion, and gets kicked out anyway. One, two, three, and slowly Risali pushes herself up and onto her knees. "Okay," she breathes, "okay." Though whether it's in concession to no K'vir or hunting down Bethari and Kiena is, momentarily, unanswered. Risali leans to pick up everything but the spirits she brought with her (and pulled out of Calisi), returning items to where they belong before pausing in the doorway again. "Bethari… and then Kiena. I'll be… I'll be back. Let me know… if you… if you need anything." But she does deposit a new cloth (likely for Cali to cry in), along with a blanket, and a pillow, and some water. Cali doesn't have to use them, but they're there in the event that she does. It's with one lingering glance over her shoulder that Risali sets off, repeating 'Bethari, Kiena. Bethari, Kiena,' wordlessly lest she forget the names of either woman she's been sent to find.


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