I worry

Adult situation - Rated NC-17

Xanadu Weyr - Domicile of Discernment

On the outside, this cottage is fairly unremarkable. It's of moderate size, though it's clearly not the home of a rider - there's no wallow, nor is there any means for even the smallest of greens to enter. It's set in the meadow, amidst the gentle roll of the terrain toward the ridge, but any adornment by flowers or ornamental plants is purely incidental. The exterior is painted white, and the roof-shingles are brown. There's a small wooden stoop, centered along the longer side - three wide steps leading up to a doorway framed by windows.
Once inside, the main room of this cottage is bright and airy, made so by a high arched ceiling and large windows that take advantage of their northern exposure, with gauzy drapes and pale golden oak sills. Overhead, there's more of that oak in the form of exposed beams, the ceiling between them painted a soft cerulean. During the day, there is likely sufficient illumination from those windows, but for night-time, there are recessed lights hidden within the beams that diffuse against the ceiling. The walls are white with a sponged speckling of the same blue from overhead, and underfoot is more of that oak.
The house has a central column of yellow fieldstone, with a fireplace facing into the room and a half-flight of stairs to either side - one leading up, the other down. Above the fireplace is an oakwood mantel, and while it may provide warmth, under most circumstances, the radiant heating system beneath the floorboards is likely to more effective. The fireplace may, however, provide a pleasant flickering warmth, and as such, a sofa and a pair of armchairs are arranged in front of it. The sofa's a velvety blue-grey, accented with a pair of red pillows, and the armchairs are brown leather - suitable for company but selected primarily for comfort.
There's a kitchen tucked off to one side, near the upward staircase. It's small, but well equipped, with granite countertops and a brushed steel cold-box and stove. There's an oblong wooden table with chairs set around it, and even some plants in small terracotta pots on the windowsill, as the presence of fresh herbs is useful when cooking.

It's been hours since Jethaniel left. Day. Turns Eons. Or so it seems to Darsce. The steward and headwoman of Xanadu are never truly off-duty, unless they're away on leave. Things come up and they must respond, she understands this. But they've worked all day and looking forward to an evening of relaxation only to have it interrupted is…disappointing. Darsce had plans that would include Jethaniel for a portion of it and then allow for time wherein he could tinker in his workroom, her to put some things away and reduce the clutter of boxes, or simply lounge on that loveseat and watch him work. But now she's faced with time alone and her initial plan, put on hold finds her first back in that bed awaiting him, her mood one of minor annoyance, mingled with resignation. That's lasted for the first thirty minutes until boredom kicks in. Then she's up pacing the empty cottage between putting this or that away… wandering that grows more restless as time passes. Manicure refrshment, nicely polished fingernails, once dried, followed by toenails. Then a long, leisurely bath… Finally, smooth and soft and fragrant, clad in a silky, nude-toned pink shift that whispers about her thighs, she's drifted back to the candlelit bedroom to wait some more. Surely Jethaniel will be back soon! And thus having crawled into their bed to wait she… eventually fell asleep while the candles flickered, casting the room in a soft glow.

While eons may be an exaggeration for the duration of Jethaniel's absence, to say it has been hours is, unfortunately, accurate. It is late. Kalsuoth's landing out in the meadow is a quiet one, as are the words Jethaniel and Mur'dah have. The door of the cottage opens, and Jethaniel steps inside. He shuts the door behind him, and there's a slight slump in his posture, a lowering of his shoulders and a slow exhalation of breath. For a moment, he simply stands there, in the darkened room. He could reach for the lights, but he doesn't. It's obvious enough that the room is empty, and he sees no reason to linger. He shrugs off his jacket, placing it on a hook. He slips off his shoes, scuffed from climbing up those rocks. These things accomplished, he ascends the stairs, his pace slow. He enters their bedroom, and the sight of Darsce brings a smile to a face that has been lacking it. It is both small and brief, for while some vestige lingers, it fades somewhat when he notes that she is asleep. Jethaniel approaches the bed, and leans down over it to caress his fingers along Darsce's cheek, tracing the line of it back and brushing beneath her ear, grazing her neck before his fingers slip away. She is a sound sleeper; he is aware of this fact, and so he is not expecting her to awaken as he turns to sit on the edge of the bed and begins to unbutton his shirt. There is, he now notices, an off by one error with the buttons - likely caused by the haste with which he donned it, hours before.

Time is an elusive quality, regardless of that the clocks say; they're wrong. Things which you seek to avoid, aging or the departure of precious children to their destinies, it flies. Those that you long for, the arrival of something promised or the reunion of the departed, it crawls. So it is tonight: it has been eons. Darsce is a deep sleeper, it's true. But there are times when her sleep is uneasy, fraught with her subconscious having the upper hand, freed from the restraints that her conscious waking hours employ to subdue it. Tonight is one such night. While she appears serene, her face luminous, at peace, inside it's a different story. There darkness roils and danger threatens. The brush of fingers is enough to disrupt the surface cohesion of the bubble holding her in it's thrall and she awakes. Her emergence is gradual: she hms with a sigh, turning towards the warmth that is Jethaniel seated on the edge of the bed. Her body curls around the part occupying the bed and her murmur is questioning, coherency slow to rise so her speech is sleep-slurred and slow, "Jethaniel?" Heavy lids lift. "Are you- everything alright?"

The difference lies in whether one's view of time is objective or subjective; the hours during which one waits for a desired objective may, in fact, be subjective eons - just as, in sleep, the perceptions of the last few moments - a ringing bell, a bright light, the touch of fingers - may be woven into a dream whose story seems to take hours. Jethaniel undoes his buttons, one by one, and his fingers pause as he feels the warmth that is Darsce, pressing against him. He had not thought to wake her, but he has, and for her waking, Jethaniel smiles as his fingers leave the last of those buttons. The shirt falls open over his chest as he turns to regard her. "Yes," he replies, an answer appropriate to either question. He is Jethaniel; he is alright. While not all entities are in what might be considered an optimal state, enough of them are close enough that the world may be thought acceptable. He reaches out again, fingertips brushed to her brow and back along her hair. "I am here. The situation is… resolved."

Yes, it's Jethaniel. Really, who else would it be, and yet Darsce has asked - with no logical reason to do so. He's alright, he says and the slight tension of her body relaxes as she manages a sleepy smile up at him. "I dreamed…" Her brows twitch together slightly. Hm. She can't remember; it's dissipated that quickly. Her hands are warm as they slide inside his shirt, skim up his sides as though checking for something. There's a breath out - relief - and a final pat before they begin to withdraw at least one of them - and turns palm up as she bends to peer at it closely in the candle light. "No blood," she murmurs, again relief colors her tone before iceblue eyes lift to his face. "That took a long time. What was the…situation?" There's absolutely no sulk in her tone, just simple curiosity and a healthy dose of welcome as she adds, "I'm glad you're back!"

Jethaniel leans in to Darsce's hands, pleased by that touch even if there's anxiety to prompt it. He tilts his head in curiousity for that dream, but does not press regarding that. His torso, pressed to her fingers, is as it should be, body-warm - the time spent in consultation and the transit between has cooled it after his exertions, and his shirt absorbed most of the sweat. Darsce might yet notice a few fresh scrapes on his palms, places where his hands slipped on the rock or found it rougher than expected, but there's no blood even there beyond a few dried flecks, and no serious injuries to be found anywhere on his body. "No," he agrees, his tone somber. He may recollect - quite easily - the blood that was not his. He may, in fact, recollect it more easily than he could see it through the darkness. His head lowers slightly, and his fingers slip away from Darsce to pull the shirt out of where it's tucked in and ease it past his shoulders. "So am I," he says as his gaze meets hers, an earnest truth and an answer to the easier part first. "An escaped camelid. She had given birth; there were complications." He exhales slowly. "A beastcrafter would have been more effective."

Jethaniel's skin pleases Darsce - and not simply because it is intact. Evidence of this is the beginnings of a smile that curls the corners of her mouth and the fact that one hand remains inside his shirt, her hand curved about his ribs. She allows her fingers to trail away as he leans back to remove his shirt; she catches the scent of sweat (but not camel-spit - yay!), not altogether unpleasant, but it brings new questions to mind. "What have you been doing? Chasing her down?" Complications, he's said and Darsce- Well, Darsce has never seen a birth in her entire life, even if she's heard talk. That being mostly from her street-running friends and how lucky Xanadu is to have such an efficient healer staff and well-run infirmary! She's never been called to attend a birth (what a disaster that'd be!) And so, "What sort?" she asks of complications. She can only mmhm agreement that a beastcrafter would have been more effective. "So, why'd they call you, mm?" She sort of amused by this, recalling Raelii's panicked entrance. It's not lost, either, that movement of shoulders as the shirt is eased off, just a little slow to sink in that the movement appears to be a cautious one. She levers herself up on one elbow to better reach one, brushing her lips to the bare skin there. "You're stiff?" Why? That's the implied question there. "Do camelids require wrangling to get them to bear their young or what?" She has no idea! Igen's camelids are the only type she's seen and those were languid. And spit for no reason. As she's asking questions, her hand trails down his arm to his palm, the scrapes felt by sensitive fingertips and peered at before she lifts her gaze to him and raises a brow.

There was some amount of chasing involved, but no, Jethaniel shakes his head to the idea that he was the one doing it. The shirt is let to fall beside the bed; he'll take care of it later. "There was… something of a misunderstanding as to my capabilities." Jethaniel frowns. "They require a beastcrafter stationed there; there is a lack of clearly designated experts. I was not an appropriate person to assist." Merely the one who came to mind for a panicked Raelii, which speaks to certain problems regarding organizational awareness - but that's his fault, not hers. Jethaniel nods slightly that he is stiff, the fingers of his other hand brushing along Darsce's arm as she leans in. He makes no attempt to hide those scrapes from her, though perhaps that's partly that he'd barely noticed them in the adrenaline of the moment, discovering them now as the brush of her fingers wakens the nerves to remind him. "There were twins. The first proceeded normally; the second… required assistance. That was provided by Mur'dah. The…" Jethaniel looks away, across the room to one of those flickering candles. "…camelid appeared… unconscious." He frowns. "Perhaps injured by the birthing." It seems probable, but Jethaniel is not a healer nor a beastcrafter; he has no idea if the creature would have recovered, given the opportunity. He does know he determined her an acceptable loss. "We… there were felines." He looks to Darsce again, eyes seeking for hers as he curls his hand around hers, scrapes notwithstanding. "We climbed to evade them."

"I see," says Darsce of Jethaniel's capabilities. She can't address his midwifery; the ones she is familiar with she prefers to address in a non-verbal manner. For the moment though, she's more concerned with his stiff, sore shoulders and so pushes up to crawl beside him. "Turn," she says sternly, her hands seeking his shoulders to knead them while he continues his account. She's keeping his frown in the forefront of her mind, but doesn't, for the moment say anything to further interrupt him. She does aww at twins but there! There's that frown again as he speaks of the mother camelid. Understanding, or thinking she does, "Ahh, and so the girl panicked, did she?" Well, that's understandable; she would have freaked out totally. Her fingers soothe knotted muscles, following the line of his shoulder to his neck, make rolling motions to ease the spasms there and travel the trapezius back to his deltoids. "So did the-" Felines, he says. Her fingers freeze. "….Felines?" She leans over his shoulders to get a good look at his face. No, he doesn't look like he's teasing and really, it would be unlike him to kid about something like that. Silence lasts for all of ten seconds before she bursts out swearing a string of cusswords clearly aimed at the felines, not him because the scenario goes blankety-blank feline this and blankety-blank feline that. Her hands have slipped from his shoulder and why? One of the pillows goes flying, hits the wall and slides down it to land on the floor, followed by a negligee'd Darsce, who then gives it a bare-footed kick, manicured toenails shimmering briefly in the candlelight. She's still swearing nonstop and if someone doesn't stop her, she may slay the pillow.

Jethaniel obediently turns when directed to do so, letting Darsce have access to his shoulders and back. He'll arrive at the reason for his frown in due time; it requires context, which he provides one element at a time through his account of the events. His lack of the appropriate capabilities does not trouble him - he has no great desire to become a beastcrafter. There are some domains in which he takes pleasure in improving his skills; there are others which he simply delegates. The twin crias themselves are actually a good thing, if rare according to his understanding of the species. The status of the mother, significantly less so. "Indeed," he agrees to Darsce concerning Raelii's reaction, though it's without any particular opprobrium. He is hardly happy that she interrupted his evening with Darsce, but some errors are to be expected during this period of adjustment. If the girl proves unsuited to the realities of herding, other arrangements can be made; for now, she's Chapar's problem. Jethaniel attempts to relax beneath the encouragement of Darsce's hands to do so, though the slowness of his report is not entirely due to the occasional catch of breath as she finds tense spots and eases them. He's nearly to the part that troubles him, and then he's there. Felines. Jethaniel nods slightly to Darsce's questioning look, his expression quite solemn. There is no jest involved, only his report on the events that delayed him. Evidently, wild felines are capable of keeping Jethaniel away from Darsce… for a few hours. He is unsurprised by the profanity; he was not expecting a positive reaction from Darsce. Nor, however, was he expecting a flying pillow, and so he blinks as it sails past, then stares at Darsce leaping after. "Ah." For a moment, Jethaniel simply sits there as Darsce applies assorted deprecations and physical assaults to the pillow which appears to acting as her proxy for those felines, but then he rises from the bed, crossing the room after her. "Darsce," he says quietly as he approaches her, arms open and seeking to interrupt her assault on the pillow so that he may catch and enfold her. "They got the camelid. Nothing else. Nobody was hurt." Aside from that camelid and a few scrapes minor enough that he dismisses them from consideration as he hugs her against him.

If wild felines can keep Jethaniel away, what, one might wonder, could wild runners do? Hopefully Darsce will not find out! The poor innocent pillow is indeed taking the vicarious retribution those felines - at least in Darsce's mind - deserve. Whatever she's saying by the time Jethaniel catches her is incoherent. She doesn't try to fight him, though she does give the pillow one more 'so there' kick before she turns to him and her arms encircle his waist, holding him fiercely. She presses her face to his bare chest and mutters passionately, "I hate wild felines!" She's trembling with both rage and fear-fueled adrenalin. Nobody was hurt he says and she grits out, "This time!" Last time Idrissa was almost hurt by them. Woe betide any feline she meets face to face! Though truthfully, the worst she could do is… splash fingernail polish remover up its nose, spray perfume or hair fixative in it's eyes before screaming and running.

Ah, but Darsce has arranged to test what happens when she is on a spirited runner placed in a chaotic situation. That runner may still be domesticated, but is quite likely that the race will be wild. He wraps his arms around her, warm and close - one around her mid-back, one curled along her shoulder with his fingertips trailing up the back of her neck to brush the hair away to either side. Jethaniel nods to Darsce's hatred of those felines, holding her against him as she quivers. His own breathing is steady, his own fear gone along with its impetus. He could have been hurt; he was not - this time. "Indeed." Jethaniel inclines his head to acknowledge that fact, then lowers it further to kiss softly at Darsce's hair.

So she has. This will likely also demonstrate what (wildly racing) runners will do to Jethaniel regarding Darsce's involvement in it. The effects will vary depending on what twists and turns that race takes. But she is confident (perhaps overly so) of her skills in participating and emerging unscathed. She curls into Jethaniel and is still for some time, slowly relaxing because yes, this time he is… safe. Not unscathed though. Those kisses to the back of her neck do much to aid her release of irrational fear and she melts against him further. "We should hunt them to extinction," she mutters feelingly before she draws away and scans his face. "You're tired and sore. I'm a sucky wife. I should have had hot food ready for you. I can't prepare much, but if you're hungry… I can find you something." Crackers and instant soup anyone? She can boil water! "I can draw you a bath and find the salve for those scrapes on your hands?"

Not entirely unscathed, no. Nor is Jethaniel entirely still, as he holds Darsce; there's the motion of his chest as he breathes, the motion of his fingers in the small drifts of caresses, and the motion of his lips to kiss. He may, however, be decribed as still with moderate accuracy, just as he may be described as safe and just as he hopes for that outcome from the race, even if he fears the possibility that it will be otherwise. Darsce's fear… ah, it may be traced to even before his return, the anxiety of her sleep and unremembered dreams. The felines provide it with a focus; Jethaniel's presence, comfort. "Perhaps so," he says to her plans regarding the felines. It is unlikely that any efficient plan could be created to do so, but there is little benefit to be gained from their presence - particularly not in the vicinity of the Weyr and its pastures. His arms adjust their positions as she draws back, loosening but remaining around her. His features are, assuredly, both tired and sore, but there's a slight frown for her self-assessment, an inward draw of his lips that sets them as he listens to her reasoning. "You are my wife," Jethaniel replies, and leans in to both obscure her view of those features and press his lips to hers. The kiss is a warm one, and by the time his mouth draws back, the frown is gone. "I am not hungry." At least not for food, though his lips have not gone far, and he leans in again for another kiss. This one is briefer, and his head retains a downward tilt as he draws it back again. "…perhaps that bath would be advisable," he says, though his arms around Darsce do not loosen further.

Ah those dreams. Their flavor lingers hauntingly, though the fear can be traced more distantly to the time of the round up. "Really, they should," she presses. "Dragonriders could beach party less and hunt more." Says the woman who, ironically, lazed about Xanadu indolently before she was handed the job of headwoman. The subject is let go for the moment so she may return that kiss but it is there, in her mind and if she passes the Weyrwoman in the admin hall, he can be sure she'll say something about it - and not too tactfully, either! She is able, despite the simmering idea of feline extermination, to smile up at her husband a touch cheekily as he reiterates her self-criticism. "Poor you." Their lips touch again and she, expecting to be released so she may start the water filling the tub, begins to withdraw - only to find his arms still looped about her. He gets a slow smile and a questioning tilt of her head.

Insofar as the felines are an aspect of external weyr management, attempts to limit their population fall under the purview of the Steward. Jethaniel certainly does pay hunters who go after the beasts, but he's unlikely to fund a wide-scale extermination campaign. It would require organization from across the southern continent, and be difficult to achieve without also damaging more desirable species. He does not, however, dispute Darsce's theories - though it is true that work is often easier to assign to others than oneself. If she were to gain support from the dragonrider leadership, the plan could proceed, but Jethaniel will not be espousing it himself; his plans involving the felines are merely to continue funding his hunters and to provide livestock guard dogs to those in the meadows. His plans involving Darsce certainly include continue having her as his wife, and he raises a skeptical brow to her opinion of what that means for him. It is, however, accompanied by a soft smile, and then he's kissing her again and proposing another plan, one whose execution would require him to release her. Jethaniel hesitates for a moment, his grey eyes warm as they regard her, and then he lowers his head slightly as his arms slowly slip away from her, trailing along her sides on the way to rest at his.

A continent-wide expedition is likely to be met with a stare, a laugh of disbelief and a flat 'no' from the Weyrleaders as well. The southern continent is not settled enough to require it, but Darsce has never been known for her logic. Her sympathy for him being espoused to her is merely a tease; she aims to keep him pleased, evidenced by the way she returns his kiss whole-heartedly enough that her breathing has sped up and she almost - almost suggests something else. But fleeing up rocks and scraped palms remains forefront in her mind. Still, her withdrawal from Jethaniel is reluctant. "I'll start the water for you while you gather whatever you need." And presently the sound of running water can be heard from the bathroom. Salve. She needs to go dig that out of one of those (as yet) unpacked boxes, but for the moment she's rummaging in the cabinets for her bath salts. Because they would help his sore, tired muscles. Oh, hm. Rose-scented, lemon-honeysuckle-scented or jasmine-scented. Eek?

If the rate of Darsce's breathing is merely measured in comparison to Jethaniel's, one would not find an increase, though according to an external viewpoint, it assuredly quickens. Nevertheless, Jethaniel has acknowledged the advisability of that bath, and though the way his fingers depart from Darsce is a caress that lingers for so long as she is in proximity, he does not stop her from leaving to initiate it. He takes a deep breath, once she's left the room. The process of gathering what he needs is somewhat more subtractive than additive - at least, insofar as the contents of this room are concerned. There is himself, and he slips out of his trousers and socks to leave them behind on the floor. They will not be required, and are in fact contraindicated while bathing. The rest of what he needs, as well as a variety of things he does not actually require, are located in the bathroom, and so he leaves the bedroom behind and goes there. The tub is filling with water, the air filling with steam. Jethaniel observes this fact, but his gaze is drawn less to the tub and more to Darsce. His eyes linger there, and then he crosses the room to her, bending down to kiss at her shoulder as she searches through the cabinets for he knows not what. The salve, he might presume, but he does not inquire.

"JETHA-" shoulder-kiss "-niel…. do you mind smelling like flowers? I have nothing manly-scented." Darsce is holding transparent containers of grainy-crystals, one pink, one yellow and one white. Her smile up at him is apologetic. She did not think to fully stock her first-aid cabinet with things appropriate. A solution that she will remedy…probably tomorrow. There will be liniment and bath salts of a non-feminine scent and… whatever else the healers say she needs. She is… keeping her thoughts determinedly on his physical… discomfort…err… exertions…past exertions! Becaaaaause otherwise…! Otherwise she'd end up in that tub with him. She will presently go rummage but for now she rises with the salts in her arms (not what she wants there, so be sure). She also thinks to offer, "I can heat your towel in the oven?"

If Darsce asks certain of the healers, they may suggest things she has no inclination whatsoever to stock. It is, however, likely that Jethaniel will continue to exert himself physically… and also to do things which strain his muscles. As such, it is likely appropriate that Darsce be prepared for his… exertions. He arches a brow for her question to him, lowering his gaze to those containers. "Ah. I… believe that will be acceptable." He is not unfamiliar with such scents, though his prior experience of them is in the context of them on Darsce while she is in his arms, instead of being directly on his arms. However, given he may still have Darsce in his arms while they smell of flowers, he is likely to find the lack of transitivity to the situation acceptable. He steps aside to let her approach the tub with those salts. The choice of flavor is not one to which he proposes an answer; while Darsce may lack skill at cooking, she is capable of salting water. Her use of the oven has not always been entirely effective, but that is not entirely Jethaniel's motivation as he says, "That will not be necessary." Neither is it necessary for him to follow her, and yet he does.

He'd better! Because he will be getting plenty of encouragement to to do so. One thing Darsce won't be stocking in her first aid kit is Cyrus' burn cream. She likes Jethaniel's skin on him. She is also pleased to know that she can do something…productive to help him feel better without the aid of healers and thus, she smiles and peers down at the jars of bath salts. Of the three, at least the lemon will add a tang to temper the flower-sweet scent and so she goes with that one. The other two are left in the cabinet and she moves to the tub. Usually a handful will suffice. But that's for mild daily exertions. Her husband climbed cliffs! And so into the tub she pours nearly half the jar, closes it and bends to stir the water to aid dissolution. No.. warm towel? She turns her head, blinks to find him right there, but not unhappy in the slightest with his proximity. Not at all thinking of that burnt dinner, "Are you sure?" she asks lightly as she straightens.

Jethaniel's expression is not one generally associated with certainty, but as the scent of lemon and honeysuckle fill the room, he nods to Darsce's question. His gaze lowers slightly - or perhaps simply remains at the same level as Darsce straightens - to look past her to observe the rise in water level. The tub is not yet full, though it is approaching that state. Jethaniel lifts his eyes to Darsce. "I will be fine." Without that towel? Perhaps he means it in another sense, but Jethaniel does not immediately elaborate. He does reach for her, slipping his arms around her waist. His fingers brush over the silky material of her negligee, and as they find a place along her hips to rest, they curl slightly, catching at the fabric in a gesture that might be motivated by the tension that this bath is intended to help ease along with his sore muscles, but does have the additional consequence of slightly lifting the garment. Jethaniel leans in as his fingers tense, the brush of his lips a soft one to Darsce's cheek along the way to a downward tilt of his head that has his eyes regarding the tub.

"…Okay." Darsce's agreement is uncertain. She's never climbed a cliff in her life (and after Igen, it's unlikely that Jethaniel will allow her near one - besides she'd break a nail trying to scale one). She's fairly sure it was a strenuous workout - especially with the impetus added by felines below. No hot towel, check (she'll have to order a heating pad from Ierne). She does not evade his arms, now able to laugh quietly, low in her throat as he kisses her cheek; hers presses into it. He is here. He is safe. He will be fine. And those felines are fading to the back burner of her mind as she contemplates other remedies for sore, tired muscles. All thoughts of former spa-treatments poof into ether as Jethaniel's fingers close about her hips. She is not looking at the tub but at him as she inhales sharply, her hands, having begun their trek up his arms pause. On the bath rug her toes curl. Her breathing quickens yet again and her voice is unsteady. "I-I should…" What was she going to do? She's totally forgotten.

The impetus of the felines provided a distraction from the strenuous nature of that climb. The impetus of Darsce… may certainly provide a distraction, though one of a rather different nature. It nevertheless results in elevated breathing and the tensing of muscles, though the motions thus far are smaller ones. Jethaniel's head tilts, looking to Darsce at the sound of her indrawn breath. His own is let out with a deliberate slowness, and he lowers his gaze. His fingers remain where they are, the thumb of one hand moving slowly over the rumpled fabric. "What?" he asks quietly, as he lowers his head to kiss at the side of her jaw, then turns it down to brush his lips to where shoulder meets neck. He is listening; his actions are certainly not loud enough to provide an auditory impediment, though they may provide a great deal of distraction. Perhaps Darsce is thinking of the rising level of water in the tub, and the fact that she should turn off the faucet before it overflows? Or that she should make sure he has a towel, warmed or not. Or perhaps that she should go make a pot of klah?

Darsce's answer to Jethaniel's singular question is slowly-growing tweak of her lips into a lopsided smile that is both amused and sultry as she shakes her head and drawls, "If you don't know by now what your hands do to me…" If the question is 'what's the matter', the answer is: him. Thus the catch of her breath, the curled toes that ought to say more clearly than words how he affects her. Her arms resume their unhurried path up his arms to his shoulders, where they begin to curl as he kisses her jaw. As lips touch the skin near her clavicle, that indrawn breath is released in a sigh as her eyes drift closed and she sways towards him. Her toes, partially uncurled, grip that bathmat once more and her fingers follow suit on his shoulders. Though he certainly is providing a distraction - one she doesn't mind in the slightest, that question lingers in her mind. What should she do? The water in the bath? Ahhh, the sound of water running goes in one ear and out the other. To-wel? Buuut she likes his skin! Klah? Klah. She drank a pot of it preparing for him to return. "I… don't remember," she admits thickly. "You tell me."

It is a part of the scientific process to continue to question even those things which are thought to be known. Jethaniel smiles slightly at Darsce's answer, though there's still a troubled look lingering around his eyes. His hands also linger, the other thumb taking its turn to caress. He does understand her reaction; furthermore, it is congruent with the desires which prompted his initial action. "I do," he says in a somewhat pensive tone. He breathes in the scent of… lemon honeysuckle, mostly, but perhaps there's some hint of Darsce herself beneath the bath salts she's provided. It seems possible, given that he is close enough to her that his exhalation tickles the skin of her neck, softer than the brush of his lips. His fingers curve against the fabric of her garment, then begin to lift, drawing it up and away from her. Evidently, Jethaniel believes she should remove it. The silky material slides between them more easily than a coarser weave might, which is fortunate given that Jethaniel is inclined to keep the distance minimal. What should Darsce do? Jethaniel has made the assertion that he should bathe, even if his inclinations at present do not seem particularly suited toward that endeavor. "Stay with me." His tone makes it as much asking as telling.

Darsce's lashes lift slowly in the time it takes for that answer to be made, in time to note the troubled look. She's not so dull that she misses his pensiveness, either and it brings concern to the tilt of her lips. Concern that had been there before her distraction, but this time for a different reason. She rises on tiptoes so her arms may slide about his neck, her lips touch his tenderly. This close she can smell the musky manscent of his exertions and instead of drawing back when her lips leave his, her face presses to his neck and she mms appreciatively before drawing away - reluctantly as the brush of fabric against her torso draws her glance flicking down; she is amenable and ducks out of the shift but also- "Ack!" She dips to reach for those faucets to turn them off before they overflow. And then she straightens, comfortable in her nudity, tilts her head and meets his eyes steadily. "I'll never leave you," she says, but also the context he's meant understood as she runs her fingertips through the water, testing the warmth and - possibly - understanding something, belatedly. "You're hurt; I worry. But you-" She regards him. Not a word is further spoken. Instead she tilts her head to the door questioningly, leaving the choice to him. Stay with him here… or there… She has no preference as to location as long as she is with him.

Jethaniel's posture is stooped, head carried low to reach toward Darsce as she reaches for him with arms and lips. He kisses gently, those motions of his lips pleasing to him even if his thoughts are not entirely so. His undressing of her is slow, but while it does not rush toward her moving away, it does require it for him to complete the motion. He holds her shift in one hand, the other brushing against her shoulder, and as she turns to deal with the tub, he sets the silky garment down between a pair of towels. The precise position of it is not important to him; once it is put aside, he reaches for Darsce once more, putting his arms around her as she stands. Jethaniel nods that she will be with him, taking at least some element of satisfaction from that. Her fingertips test the water's warmth; perhaps his have the same purpose as they trail down her spine. For his hurt, he tilts his head sideways, shoulder half-rising in an unspoken equivocation for that, though not her concern. For that, they settle back to neutral, and then he lowers his head, silent a moment as his fingers play along her back. "I want you," Jethaniel begins. His gaze seeks hers, but he's silent for a moment, holding her beside the tub. "But… I also worry."

Darsce remains in Jethaniel's arms, her dripping fingertips now return to his shoulder in time for it to rise with his partial shrug. Silent for a moment after all the mixed signals and ambiguous body language, she tries to sort it out as different expressions flits across her face. Mainly of confusion. There's a sideways pull to one corner of her mouth - a semi-smile - for a statement that would normally draw a sweeter one. But there's a qualifier to his statement and so her the line of her lips is subdued, even though her response is a positive one. "I want you too." Obviously. But. "Something's wrong." That's not phrased in the slightest as a question. Ah! He's… worried? Her mouth relaxes into an almost-frown, a worried one rather than a displeased one. "I can guess, but I'd keep you standing and you're tired-" And lest he equivocate again, she rises on tiptoes, brushes her lips to his jaw and murmurs, "I love you, and it matters to me if you are hurt and tired. Can you tell me?"

Obvious Darsce's desire may be, but Jethaniel still nods slightly to acknowledge her statement of it. He is aware; it does not ease the concern that gnaws at the edges of his face. Something is wrong, and yet when Darsce states that, Jethaniel lowers his gaze, eyes drifting to her lips, from there to her shoulder where they rest. He frowns slightly as she proposes - if not guessing, the fact that she is capable of doing so - and his gaze lifts slightly as she continues. He might be preparing to dismiss his own fatigue, but his eyes close for that kiss and he exhales slowly. "I love you too." Jethaniel's arms tighten around Darsce, drawing her closer against him, and his eyes open once more to regard her with affection through that worry. "I want you a great deal. I want to hold you, love you, to have…" He trails off, closes his eyes for the duration of a breath then opens them to seek hers. "I told you why I was gone." A statement, the first clause of an explanation, but Jethaniel hesitates before continuing as he attempts to draw together suitable words.

Darsce should have added the qualifier 'but probably miss the reason entirely' for her guessing accuracy. She's unsure exactly what is wrong, and her uncertainty shows on her face as she sinks down to the flat of her feet again. She leans into him as she is drawn close, watching that worry on his face, her head tilting as she listens to half-formed thoughts and hanging sentences. Shapely brows twitch fractionally upwards, her expression quizzical. To have…? Her? She assumes. Perhaps she oughtn't to, but she does. When Jethaniel mentions his evening adventure, her own fear rushes to the forefront once more, her ire towards the wild creatures rekindled. She snorts, "Yeah, to get chased up a cliff by wild felines!" Her hands move from his shoulders, slipping under those arms about her to encircle him fiercely. "Well, they can't have you. You're mine!" There is no pillow to kick, but thankfully she does not attempt to take out her fury on that tub.

Guessing correctly is somewhat more challenging than merely guessing. There are an infinite number of wrong answers, and while knowledge of what is probable and not given the nature of the universe, the circumstances, and the person may limit the field, there are still a great many incorrect but plausible answers. Hence the desire for Jethaniel to explain himself, as he is the person most likely to comprehend the reasons for his current concern - though he is also the person most tangled in that concern, and as such may have some difficulty in expressing it coherently. Jethaniel's arms tighten around Darsce in return, and he leans in to kiss at the top of her head. "I am." Hers; she has him, and the relationship has been demonstrated to be commutative. "The felines were, however, an unforeseen consequence. Had they not arrived," he might not have been so late? But no, that's not where the sentence goes. "The camelid may nevertheless have not survived."

The kiss to her hair prompts Darsce to look up at Jethaniel. And, since she's not letting go of him, she must tip her head back, planting her chin in his chest as her iceblue eyes pin him with an almost-glare. Felines. Grrrr! Though his words forestall another vindictive outburst from regarding them as it sinks in what he's saying. They're standing beside a tub full of hot water while it cools, he is sore and tired and yet Darsce doesn't fuss any further than the suggestions to his comfort that she's already made. The…camelid. Riiiiiiight. He'd mentioned that it was a loss. Now she understands what is bothering him - or thinks she does - and that he needs… something. She, however, is for at least being comfortable while he decides just what that is. Her arms loosen and slip down his sides, fingers twining in the waistband of his briefs above each hip where she tugs gently in a hint-to-move with her towards the door - and their bedroom. With a pensive smile, "Come tangle with me for awhile? You can explain to me why a camelid biting the dust has you upset. Frankly I am thrilled it was the her rather than you."

Darsce's glare could frighten off a metaphorical feline, though the literal ones tend to be unimpressed by such things; while there are presumably some sufficiently easily cowed as to be described as 'scaredy cats', those are not the members of their species infringing on territories utilized by the Weyr, and as such, are unlikely to become a concern. Her expression does, however, not cause Jethaniel to retreat; his arms remain securely around her. Her own ease, and his slowly loosen as well, drifting so his fingertips can brush along her arms softly. His gaze flicks to the tub; the water is on its way to tepid, though it was steaming nicely. The scent of those bath salts still fills the air, esters released as the crystals dissolved, but the window for their optimal tangible appreciation is passing. When Darsce stocks their cabinets with ones of manly scent (whatever she determines that to be), she may also obtain a replacement for the copious amount of lemon-honeysuckle which appears to be going to waste tonight. "I am sorry," he says as his gaze returns to Darsce, and one of his hands trails the rest of the way along her arm to curl fingers around hers, lifting it so that he may kiss the back before he assists her in the process of dragging him to the bedroom by moving his feet appropriately. "The camelid is… not significant."

Darsce will likely continue to believe that her small rage could cow an attacking feline unless one actually proves her wrong. Hopefully that day will never come! As for bathsalts, Jethaniel will recieve, pine with a touch of balsam and musk. Perhaps another combining the tang of the sea with the scent of winds borne to it from far-off places: the spice of desert plants moistened by rare rains, the breath of snow from remote mountains that touch the sky. Spruce with a hint of woodsmoke. The chypre of citrus, leather and the resins extracted from exotic plants, all combined to be subtle, but enticing at the same time. That'll be what Darsce will seek in Ierne. Sorry? Darsce tilts her head questioningly as she walks backwards. A half-jar of wasted bathsalts is nothing to her. Inexpensive, but insofar as Jethaniel's preferences, which are priceless to her, not even worth consideration. She flicks her fingers at the tub, dismissing it. "Don't be, I'm not." She enters their room, her aim to steer him to their bedside. From hands still near his hips, she gives him a gentle push. "Down you. You've been climbing cliffs all evening. I require you to rest, eh?" It's said with gruff humor, a small smile and if he acquiesces, she'll creep in beside him to tangle up with him. That damn camelid! Not…significant?! She is SO lost! Her forehead thunks against his chest with a half-laugh of frustration and defeat. "Is she not? But you will keep mentioning her. I don't know whether to be jealous or what."

That cabinet will be filled with scents to please the nose and (hopefully) induce Jethaniel to relax. His apology is more for Darsce's wasted effort than the salts themselves; while she is the one familiar with their acquisition process, he does not expect it is unduly arduous or costly. She may, at worst, have to utilize the other two jars until she has the opportunity to replace the one now slowly settling to sludge at the bottom of the tub. Jethaniel is easily guided, even if his motions are on the slow side. There's a slight smile for Darsce's directions, and he sits on the edge of the bed - as he did on his arrival home, not long before - then turns and lies back. Once he is so positioned, he reaches for Darsce, an extended arm with upturned palm that suggests she join him - not that she needs the invitation, given her intentions - and curls around her once she does. His frustration of Darsce - ongoing as it is - also merits an apology. The camelid's importance? "Only by way of analogy." Jethaniel curves his neck to brush lips to Darsce's hair once more. Certain of the camelids have wool of a similar shade, though hers is better tended. Camelid fiber is seldom treated with chemicals or brushed until after it is trimmed from the animals, whereas Darsce's is cared for with shampoos and styled whilst still on her head. There are, furthermore, differences in the location of the hair-producing follicles, as well as a variety of other points of distinction - including the fact that only one of them is to be in Jethaniel's arm and sharing his bed. "I am aware that… there are risks to everything." He kisses again, a soft brush of his lips, and then his eyes close as his fingertips trail across her shoulders. "Reproduction is no exception, camelid or…" Jethaniel's fingers still. "Human."

Next time Darsce might simply hand Jethaniel a jar and wander off to see to other matters while he has his bath, who knows? Or she'll be extra-lazy and simply inform him that she got him manly-scented salts to soak in and where to find them. He's just as likely to find her already in a steamy tub of balsam and musk-scented brine giving him a come-hither invitation to join her in the preservation process. Sometimes there's no telling with Darsce. Jethaniel hasn't washed, but sheets can be laundered and so she isn't worrying about them tonight. Apparently her concern, despite her tendency to meticulous self-grooming, had been his aching muscles. Analogy, he says of that doomed camelid and Darsce lifts her head to stare at him in the flickering candlelight. She sort of catches the last words but they come as she splutters, "So I'm being compared to a camel?" The last word is slightly higher-pitched, aggrieved. Reallly now! She's seen how they chew and belch… and spit! But reproduction he's said and her mind leaps to… wait, no. She re-directs her brain. Risks. She knows nothing of reproduction risks camelid or human except how to avoid getting pregnant. For that there's… wait. Now she's curious, because her friends did not cover this part. Neither did her parents. "What sort of risks?"

Jethaniel does usually manage his bathing without Darsce's assistance - or distraction. He's likely to be efficient about it, which… may not actually involve much time spent soaking. That is, however, subject to change according to how Darsce exerts her influence on him. For tonight, he will simply lie on those sheets. Tomorrow, the bed can be stripped and re-made. For tonight… at least his body is finally resting, even if his thoughts are not. "No," Jethaniel says to Darsce's indignation about the camel. "I am not." For one thing, the camelid in question is a different (albeit related) species to the ones she saw in the desert. For another… he is creating an analogy, which merely states that - in a certain domain - there may be outcomes which relate in the same manner to a pair of entities. Those entities may be - and are - very different. Also, they spit, whereas Darsce… suffice it to say that the differences are many, but after his denial, Jethaniel simply lowers his head to Darsce's indignation, his arms loosening slightly - though they remain around her. The risks of initiating reproductive activity might include falling from the bed or straining muscles - which could lead to a bath to soak them, which could lead to an infinite cycle. That is, however, not the present focus of the conversation - the inclination of Darsce's thoughts aside - and so… Jethaniel frowns somewhat, his gaze regarding the ceiling, and he's quiet for a while first. "There is… it is a biological process." With all the randomness and mess that implies. "Sometimes there are injuries, to mother or child. The healers are capable of resolving some; not all." Survival percentages vary according to a variety of factors.

Efficiency, as Darsce is fond of telling Jethaniel, is overrated. She may demonstrate this purposely rather than inadvertently from time to time. Usually, however, that is not her aim; her inefficiency, while regular is mostly just random. There is a small huff of air as she is corrected, but it's mostly a half-laugh of relief because- Hey, Darsce doesn't spit either! She might getting spitting-mad though. But not at Jethaniel - never at him! Her…indignation was more like flabbergasted disbelief. So comparisons. "Ah. So… the camelid was pregnant, I might be someday." She settles as he stares at the ceiling, wriggles to get more comfortably close to him despite his loosened arms, which she assumes are tired after cliff-climbing. He should relax those! She drapes an arm across his chest and props her chin in it to listen. Biologic. She nods. Animals and people are biological creatures. Uh huh, she gets it. Waiiiit, no. She doesn't get it. "Survival whatie? Rephrase that last sentence please?"

One thing Darsce and that camelid do have in common is being female mammals. As such, they do indeed have the potential to gestate young, though in Darsce it is merely a future potential. "Yes," Jethaniel says, and as Darsce settles in against him, the fingers of one hand splay against her back, tracing softly across the bare skin. This does require the muscles of his arm to tense in certain patterns, but the overall effect is relaxing… even if the conversation is not. It is, however, approaching the cause of his psychological tension, albeit in elliptical fashion. His fingers pause for her question, and he lowers his eyes from the ceiling, meeting hers. "I mean," he says quietly, "that it could hurt you." An understatement; the process is known painful. "It is… a known cause of death." Here in the Weyr, with skilled healers in attendance and assorted technology at their disposal, such occurences are relatively rare; it's more of a problem in locales lacking in such access - backwater cotholds, the caravans of traders, and so forth.

There probably isn't an animal on Pern that Darsce could be compared to that would please her. Except maybe a queen dragon, but… whatever they are, they're not mammals. Even with analogical ones, Jethaniel is the only person who can get away with making them. Those fingers on her back draw a shiver and prompt a stern self-reminder that elicits a sigh, quickly suppressed. He needs to rest. And so she listens…and when clarification is made she cringes; her movement barely-made but he'll feel it. She is a master of not thinking about things she cannot change and so she says quickly, "Could…hurt. Doesn't mean that it will." She'll focus on the could, thanks! Death, well that merits acknowledgement. She lifts her chin from her hand, drops it to his chest to seek those grey eyes with hers. "That what's bothering you, isn't it? That I could die? Not that you thought I was turning my nose up at you because you were sweaty or there wasn't a beasthealer up there and you felt it was your fault?"

Insofar as Jethaniel is concerned, Darsce is an entity unto herself; he is disinclined to compare her to other people, never mind animals. He is, however, aware that she shares traits with others, and tonight… he received a visual and emotional reminder of a potential consequence of one of those traits. He does need to rest. He also desires to do things with Darsce of a decidedly non-restful nature, but… he is aware of the progression of events of which those things may be a part, and those potential consequences. Still, her shiver makes his breath catch, the urge to do more rising despite the disruptive effect of his thoughts that means his fingers stop. It is a pattern that has occured repeatedly tonight as the two concepts tangle in Jethaniel's head. He feels the cringe, swallows in response to it, and nods slowly for her denial. If hurt is construed as injury rather than pain, her statement is true, and so he presumes that construal. His eyes meet hers, clouded with concern. That she could die… It is a distinct understatement to characterize his emotional valence regarding it as 'bother', but he nods. The first of her incorrect possibilities, he reacts to with surprise, the widening of his eyes as they look to hers and the arch of brows over them, followed by a shake of his head. She has not previously objected to such a state, though he has tended to arrive at it as part of a joint exercise with her. As for that missing beasthealer… it may be his fault, but the camelid is insignificant - particularly when compared to Darsce - and so Jethaniel gives his head another small shake, bringing it back to center to regard her. "I would… feel responsible," he murmurs quietly, and his throat moves as he swallows once again. "I want you, but…" He's thinking about it. His desires, and their potential consequences. The probability is very low. Fear is not a statistician.

Darsce has been good at just… enjoying Jethaniel without thinking through to the potential outcomes and had hoped to - made plans to - further do so tonight. The rise and fall of desire and reticence is something she's sensed, been baffled by since his return home tonight and finally things are clicking in her head as to why. Bother is an ineffective word, but she, having been so off in her surmising, cannot articulate the depth of his distress verbally and he's certainly not doing it. "You…" she swallows. Him responsible for…? Because she loves him, she can't ask him to risk that. "I take… precautions," she assures Jethaniel, albeit evasively. "We don't have to…" She swallows hard, "…ever…have babies if…" She trails off, her eyes clouding over. There's that but. Hanging between them. "But, you won't risk it, will you?" She slowly crumples in on herself and curls up beside him. Pain? Oh yes. It's wracking her now. Perhaps it isn't the sort that Jethaniel is fearing but it is as gripping as the other.

There exist precautions of varying efficacy and statistically significant results, but… Darsce is correct in surmising that their use is not sufficient to satisfy Jethaniel. He winces, brows lowering as his face draws together at her projection of a possible future. But? Oh yes, there's a but. "I…" he begins, and as Darsce draws away, he follows her, turning toward her - turning over her, until the arms that lifted him along the cliff now hold him over the bed and her curled body. "Darsce." His voice is quiet, rough with unhappiness. "I want to. I… if I hurt you…" It would be through layers of indirection and entirely lack intentionality, and yet guilt is sometimes no more rational than fear. Jethaniel cannot express the way he would feel to do so, and yet… "I still want you. I want to have children with you." His voice sounds certain of that, amidst so much troubling possibility. "I… perhaps I should not." He's more than half convinced himself of that, but the desire keeps rising no matter what reasons he finds to deny it. "I am afraid." That's what should have followed the 'but' before, instead of leaving the phrase incomplete. Now it is the primary clause, and the structure is inverted. "But I want you."

Darsce remains immobile as she feels Jethaniel shift over her, curled around the pain of Jethaniel's fear and knowing there's nothing she can do about it. It's the rough unhappiness of his voice that moves her - at least enough that she can turn to see him in the soft light of the few candles that haven't burned out. His words do nothing to mitigate the bleak thoughts, but she listens eyes darkened as he speaks things she already knows. "I know." She knows he wants her. She knows what he fears. "I do too," she says quietly of wanting. Him. His babies. Of fear, eh, she thinks not so much. She's spent her entire young adult life recklessly running along the edge of it. If is a nebulous, uncertain thing that may never, will never happen to her. Others maybe, but not her. She can lie herself out of that fear. But. She has no answers to fix his. So she just lies there unmoving, her eyes unwavering upon his tell of her desire and she ignores the longing to reach up for him as her fingers slowly form fists that grip the crumpled sheets. "I fear making you unhappy more," she whispers.

There is a tendency to intellectualism in Jethaniel, even when it is ultimately counterproductive; there are times when he thinks too much for his own happiness. Now is one of those times, but it is Darsce's feelings, not his own, that stir him from the course of those thoughts. His eyes look out from amidst the shadowed contours of his face, and what they see are hers. His body is close, held over her by his arms to either side of her. They are tired, those arms, but Jethaniel stays where he is. She fears… Jethaniel swallows. "And yet I am the one who has made you unhappy." The words are quiet, the tone unadorned as he states that which seems obvious to him. "To not touch you from fear, to not… love you and please you and have children with you… that would make me unhappy."

If it's one thing Darsce won't ever be accused of, its over-thinking. There's a small movement against the mattress - the slow flex of of one shoulder - to the comment that he's made her unhappy; acknowledgement where she would prefer not to agree in words. To his other comment, she lowers her chin fractionally to level a somber look at him. She says it seriously, but there's a teasing twitch pulling at one corner of her mouth, "Well then. You've a decision to make." Because she's not going to make it for him! She still doesn't reach for him, but her fingers relax their grip on the sheets.

Jethaniel is quite aware of what that shrugging gesture means. Darsce verifies what he knew to be true, and his head lowers slightly, tilting downward. His eyes leave hers for a moment, tracing her form beneath him in the light of those few remaining candles, and then they lift to hers once more. A decision, Darsce says. "Do I?" Jethaniel asks. "I thought it already made." He changes the tension of the muscles in his arms, lowers himself enough that his lips may brush - just barely - to Darsce's. "I am yours. I will accept whatever risks I must, because I will love you and please you and… give you babies." His lips quirk slightly for that phrasing, but his tone is earnest. "The risks are bothering me, tonight." He's borrowing her words, phrase by phrase, and mingling them with his own. "They do not change my intentions. They merely make it… difficult, for me." He hesitates for a moment, his eyes on hers, then finishes the statement. "I am sorry." His head lowers, his eyes close, and his lips press once more to Darsce's, more intently than before.

There's currently only one person whom Darsce can't lie to and that's Jethaniel. His head lowers and she exhales, the tease fades from the corner her mouth, even as his lips brush hers. Despite the promise that reaffirms his commitment, the line of her mouth is sad. Her eyes meet his steadily, however and she nods. There's a ring on her finger that speaks of that decision, but more than that, he is here. And yet… difficult. "I wish it wouldn't be." But it will be difficult for him and now that she knows it, she'll wonder how he will (how will she?) - be able to take any pleasure from their loving? The only other alternative is unthinkable to her and as his mouth lowers to hers, she murmurs against his, "I'm sorry too, but I understand." She releases those sheets in favor of skimming her palms us his sides, savoring the warmth of his skin. She will do her best not to die!

Jethaniel is not so expert as Darsce at the mental avoidance of certain topics, but that does not mean they are always on his mind. They are forgotten, sometimes intentionally so, or brushed aside to focus on other things. It will be difficult, sometimes. Tonight is one of those times, with the memory of that camelid's labored breathing recent in his mind. Jethaniel's knowledge is one thing, but this is the first time he has had to face the reality of it. His concerns are fresh, given credence by his experience and made worse by his fatigue. They will fade. They may not entirely cease, but they will reach a state where bother is an accurate description instead of an understatement, and there will be periods during which he does not consider them at all. Tonight, however… the avoidance of such consideration requires effort, but he does so. His desire is such that he wishes to, worn as he is, and his lips linger against Darsce's, feeling the warmth of her mouth as she feels that along his sides.

If Darsce knew the details that Jethaniel does about what happened up in the high pasture lands, the sounds he heard, and the connection he'd made, 'bother' would not have been her choice of word to use for his state of mind. Perhaps someday she'll get better at reading him - or reading between the lines. Right now, according to what he's told her, being intimate will always be, puns aside, hard for him. The truth is, she can do mental gymnastics for her own sake, but not at Jethaniel's expense. Over time, he can demonstrate that fading worry by actions, but tonight, his distress and fatigue are foremost on her mind. She is not averse to kissing him - or further things - but right now she wants him off of his arms and so her arms wrap around his and seek to draw him down onto the bed with her where, unless he persists, she'll encourage him to sleep tangled with her while those candles burn out one by one, leaving only soft blue starlight to shed a gentle glow.

Jethaniel feels that tug on his arms, and his lips draw away. He hesitates for a moment, then lets Darsce nudge him aside, toward the bed. It may not be her intention to push him away, but there is a part of him that reads it so; that he is… not what she wishes, because of his concern. He does not go far; neither does she. Jethaniel settles to the bed, and for a moment, he lies still. His eyes rise to those stars overhead, different than the ones which shine down on the barn where two camelid crias are being raised by hand. His own hands… one of them remains still. The other, as Darsce moves to tangle with him, cannot help but to splay fingers against her, expanding the surface area with which he is in contact. Tonight, he said, and while that thought of intimacy worries him, it is also a comfort that he desires. Irrational it may be, but Jethaniel is not nearly so defined by logic as some might assume, despite the fact that he regularly uses it as a tool of reasoning. There's more to him than reason, and it's that which makes his fingers trail against Darsce's side even as something that calls itself logic inside his head explains that if she desired it, she would not have pushed him away. He takes in a deep breath, exhales it slowly, and then turns his gaze away from the stars to turn to Darsce, regarding her with grey eyes deep and wistful. "Do you…" want me, he wants to say, but he has difficulty finishing the sentence. If he asked, she might answer. Jethaniel lowers his head, eyes falling from Darsce's, and he tries a different question, voice quiet enough that there's almost no tone to it. "May I kiss you?"

Not her intention at all to push him away! Never Darsce's intention. And while Jethaniel sinking to the bed was her intention, him feeling rejected was not. However, the expression in his grey eyes, the half-finished question, the lowered head and averted gaze all tell her he's acquiescing to something he does not really desire but thinks that she does. Perplexed, she can't… oh and then the listless request is made and it all clicks. She's already begun wriggling close, wrapping her arms around him, twining her legs with his when it's spoken, that meek question so reminiscent of… Her head pops up from where she'd barely rested it on his shoulder, blonde hair touseled. Icebluefire blazes between the golden strands into his grey eyes. Not anger, but passion, intensity, "Ohhhhh no you don't. We're not going backwards in this relationship, Jethaniel! If you want to kiss me, you already have my permission - I gave you that a long time ago. I never took it back!" Moreover, she's been jerked back and forth ever since he got home with the fire of desires being stoked then doused repeatedly and she's..she's… She's sputtering, that's what she is, crying and laughing all at once, "Of course I want you-" And she puts her actions to speak for her, the kiss she shares with him is pure passion, lingering, heated. By the time she lifts her mouth, she's breathless. "You climbed cliffs to keep from being eaten by wild felines, you're worried, you're tired. So I thought you might want to rest. So please, either go to sleep or show me what you want." She's not going anywhere, her arms and legs remain tangled with him, but she waits, her breath faster, eyes glinting with both desire and fond exasperation.

Jethaniel could convince himself to sleep, or at least to make the attempt. His physical fatigue means he would succeed, but Darsce's body against his might be more deterrent than assistance, given the set of circumstances that led him to ask that question. His eyes averted, he nevertheless feels her head lift. Those grey eyes are not so hidden that she may not find them, and when she does, he does not look away. A literal reading of her initial words might constitute a further rejection, and yet her demeanor is incompatible with that reading. The dissonance of words and actions joins the dissonance of desire and fear, and Jethaniel's lips curve in faint perplexity, then flex through an ah of comprehension. She is saying what a part of him (he should not listen to that part) tries to translate as a statement that he has been doing things wrong, but this time he hears the ending. Perhaps he has been doing things wrong, but that fact may be relegated to irrelevance, because he still has her permission. She could take it back; she has not, does not. His arms begin to circle her more closely, drawing her toward him actively instead of passively letting her entwine her body with his. His lips part as she sputters, but there's no counterargument he can think - nor wants - to make. Perhaps his inclination, silenced before it can emerge, is for an apology; Jethaniel is difficult, tonight. The back and forth, the oscillation of his desire and projected guilt that has dragged Darsce along with it. He has been too willing to accept that he should not want, too willing to see her actions meant as a diversion instead of simply a desire to care for him. Too willing to accept that diversion, so he would not have to explain his fear… but now he has explained it, and his desire remains. Furthermore… so does Darsce's. There's a softening of his gaze, a warmth not new-kindled but revealed now that he does not seek to hide it. It's soon hidden again as his eyes close, though the emotion will still be clear enough. Jethaniel's eyes close as a prerequisite to kissing Darsce, just as his head lifts from the pillow and turns enough that his parted lips can press deeply to hers, making shapes that explain what he cannot seem to say with words. He'd offer her his breath - he cannot imagine the need for it - but somehow, both of them seem to come up lacking from the endeavor. Their lips draw apart, and Jethaniel's eyes open slowly, his indrawn breath (he's remembered the need for it) a ragged one. His eyes are fixed on hers, those blue-shifted stars coming ever closer, and they remain so as he nods minute acknowledgements to being tired, to being worried. They are true - Darsce is correct - and yet… incomplete. His head does not tip for her thought of his rest, but there's faint surprise, that part of him which thought otherwise being told it is wrong. By that same fact, another part of Jethaniel may think itself right. "I will," he says in quiet earnest, and he does not mean sleep - though he will surely do so… eventually. First, he trails a hand down her spine, traces the contour of her rear with a touch that turns from light to firm and draws her against him as his hips shift toward her. He's still wearing those undershorts - an impediment to his demonstration - but it is nevertheless clear that certain words which are synonyms to 'difficult' also apply to Jethaniel tonight under alternate definitions. His other hand traces upward as his hips arch, fingers pausing in a position splayed against her back as he remembers that fabric (there's no need for it) and the hand on her bottom slips further down to attempt a resolution. He would be more efficient if he used both hands, or if he did not lift his head once more, denying rest to seek another kiss.

Dissonance in the right places can create a dimension that enhances harmony and counter-melody. It's possible that this dissonance, at some unconscious level, has enhanced the desire singing along nerves more than it has frustrated it? Darsce may be the one who has been doing things wrong, not catching Jethaniel's need aright and otherwise focusing on things that, while they may ease his body - the mineral soak - do nothing to ease his need for comfort. She's aware now that she still has a lot to learn about her husband! The meeting of their lips, while tangled thus, is what she's been missing this evening. Hearing his fears has helped her understanding and moved her deeply though, and so she now imparts the warmth of acceptance and reassurance as she further melts into him. She doesn't need to breathe. His surprise of her assertion that he might need to rest germinates an alternate; there is the sort of rest that has nothing to do with sleep and she accepts it without hesitation. Pulled thus against him, his intention is made crystal clear to her and she shudders, flexing her hips to press back; willing and more than, to cooperate. Jethaniel will have to deal with his undergarment; Darsce's hands are busy making a slow, appreciative transit up his body to tangle in her hair and assist the effort by drawing his head closer to hers thus bringing their lips together once more. She hasn't forgotten his fatigue, nor the exertion to come and so she mumbles against them, "We're taking a half day off tomorrow." Really - he did some overtime tonight, so Xanadu Weyr owes him that. Darsce? Heh, she'll make the time up. Maybe? If she remembers.

Jethaniel can deal with both undergarment and fear, though he may do so in rather different ways. The one is pushed downward, despite the challenge added by the way his hips keep wanting to push upward and reduce the space present - an objective regarding which Darsce certainly appears (and acts) in agreement. The transit of her fingers will find traces of his previous exertion in the feel of dried sweat against his skin, but she is already aware of that. Her new findings include the parting of Jethaniel's lips with a sigh of pleasure. Her touch has a causational relationship there; it is merely correlated with how his hand slides across her hip, tracing the curve of how it meets her torso before temporarily departing to assist in the removal of his undershorts. This does not constitute even the slightest cessation in his desire for contact with her, but it does represent Jethaniel's ability to continue past local maxima in pursuit of more ultimately favorable states. A naive optimization algorithm might be averse to leaving one because of the risks. Jethaniel, while certainly not unaware of risks… continues on toward the goal of a better future. His eyes half close as her fingers slip into his hair, furthering its state of disarray, and he moans softly as their lips draw together for that kiss, a sound offered along with his lips and tongue. By the time Darsce speaks, Jethaniel's mouth may have forgotten words, but he nods - a kiss down to her chin, a kiss up just above her mouth, a kiss to her lips made lingering. He is not averse to taking time off; there may be practical considerations, such as the continued emergence of urgent problems, already scheduled meetings, and whether either of them remembers to turn off the alarm. In principle, however, Jethaniel agrees. His legs shift against Darsce's as the removal of his undershorts transitions from an exercise conducted with his hands to one achieved by the relative positioning of his legs, kicking them off as his hands return to her hips. They curve against her skin, slowly tracing up over the contours of her waist and the edges of her trim stomach.

Some challenges are enjoyable others not so much. The type such as keeping well-groomed despite the hot springs mysteriously going dry (when it happens) with fall coming on, will for many be one of the latter. Then Darsce'll be smugly pleased that their cottage has a water heater and a tub. The current challenge, while mainly Jethaniel's, also presents one to Darsce; she must wait. While she does so, she keeps herself busy, fingers appreciating his hair, stiff with sweat or no, applying her lips in what begins in a leisurely circuit to his eyebrows, temple, then progresses in more urgent fashion somewhere around his ear, jawline and back to his mouth where she adds her voice to his sounds of pleasure. With the comment about work made and agreed to, tomorrow is forgotten (Is there a gather scheduled? She cannot recall. Oh well). The shifting of his legs re-directs her attention anyway (Think? Nono, that's something she cannot do right now. There is only this intoxication). The sensation of thumbs stroking the hollow of her hips elicits a change in her; whereas she had melted against him, pliant, now she flexes, arching the small of her back to press to him. The sound of pleasure she makes low in her throat may be muffled against his mouth but there's no mistaking the note of encouragement in it.

There will also be certain challenges for Jethaniel surrounding hot springs gone dry, but those will be of a more diagnostic nature; their cottage is - despite the fact that he has not availed himself of it tonight - equipped to provide for personal grooming. The challenge of research can be one that Jethaniel enjoys, though Darsce may be less pleased by certain of his necessary investigations into that mystery. His investigations of her, however… he breathes deep of the curve of her neck as her lips range to his forehead, his exhalations hot against her skin. His own lips brush in passing - haphazard touches as the angles permit - before joining more fully with hers. That principle is one whose applicability Jethaniel also wishes to explore in other contexts. His hands, having found that reaction of Darsce's hips, linger in encouragement of it. In encouragement of her; in encouragement of… she is correct that he is tired. As such, his hands curve around her hips, offering themselves as guides instead of supports. His body does not lift from the bed… though that may be partially due to the nature of compressible materials such as those of which the bed is made; his hips certainly shift, muscles in torso and legs tensing as Jethaniel presses to Darsce, encouraged and encouraging alike.

Darsce's challenges regarding the hot springs are likely yet to be discovered, but may partially consist of collecting sandy towels from cottages where they've been left and dealing with irate weyrfolk asking as to when they'll be repaired. Darsce will definitely be displeased with Jethaniel going into that explosion site, regardless of the miners clearing it. She'll be relieved when he re-emerges, but exploration of her, definitely endorsed! Though she doesn't need it, she follows the guide his hands provide and wriggles closer. Even lost in the moment though she is, in the back of her mind is the thought of just how greatly he has exerted himself tonight; she shifts to lie atop him, bearing her own weight on her hands and leaving his free, her hips moving to minimize the effort he needs to make. Her hair falls around his face as she dips her head to find his lips, her kiss thorough and infused with something akin to fear. Those felines did not catch and rend and…! And she is so very glad they did not!

Those persons who decide that bathing is not worth the effort and so carry on for days without doing so may also present a certain amount of challenge, but the worries of dried caverns and dripping ones are yet to be discovered, just as the ones of felines are past. Concern is not temporally limited to the conditions which align to that worry; things which are past may be regarded with analysis of (and emotive reaction to) the consequences and fear for their potential future repetition, while things in the future may or may not, depending on the event, be predicted and worried about. The future is a chaotic place; there are too many possibilities to predict it clearly, and some things loom larger than they ought due to the irrational nature of the observer. In Jethaniel's now, the preponderance of his attention, thought and focus is on Darsce. There is his appreciation of her; his love and desire for her; the intentionality he demonstrates - for she has asked Jethaniel to show her what he wants; the guidance his touch offers her is a continuation of his answer. The fact that she does not require it is evidence of an alignment between their desires, and Jethaniel does not object in the slightest to any of the variations Darsce adds. His verbal - or at least auditory - commentary is a moan of pleasure, soon to be accompanied by the sound of the bed moving beneath them as it transmits waveform motion. Darsce's choice to minimize his required effort is well-made, for while his hips move to meet hers, there's a stiffness to the oscillation, a fatigue that's as obvious as the desire which causes him to continue. His fingers trace back along her hips, resting against the small of her back with arms looped around her, holding her to him as he kisses her amidst the tumble of golden glow that is her hair as it catches the final flickering light of the candles. There comes a pause for breath - sooner than he might like, given that exhaustion - and Jethaniel inhales just enough to actually verbalize, "I love you."

Past and present for Darsce are currently jumbled in chaos, nevermind the future! Thankfully she's too swept up to think or analyze or give in to foreboding thoughts. There is only this bliss that, though it peaks as Jethaniel takes those breaths, and prevents her from answering, save with her body; her arms shift to encircle him and her weight settles more fully to him and her forehead droops to rest upon his collarbone. It lingers in a sweet haze as she too catches her breath enough to murmur, "I love you too," and tip her head to brush her lips to his jaw in a vain attempt to reach his mouth. She is not unpleased with the rough texture there, as attested to by the soft smile that forms as she, keeping her head upon his shoulder, tilts back just a little further to see his face. She says nothing further, but her hand lifts to brush his cheek with the back of it. He is here, he is safe, he will be fine.

The past affects the present; the present affects the future. They are entwined, Jethaniel and Darsce - or was that past and future? His thoughts - before they slip away to the sensations of the moment - are not unaware of consequence. He knows the risks. He does not know the precise modulation of those risks which Darsce's precautions apply - he has not inquired as to their nature - but he knows that they are only mitigations. He could attempt further ones; he does not. For all that there are things which frighten him, Jethaniel knows what he wants. Just as importantly - if not more so - he knows what Darsce wants. Their desires are entwined; so are their bodies. His fears are not irrelevant, but they do not prevent… this. This present, and whatever future may come. Jethaniel's arms tighten around Darsce, holding her close. He is here; so is she. They are together, safe… the future is unknowable, but for the present, it is all he could ask. He smiles for that kiss, turns his head just a little to lean into her hand… though his eyes are half-lidded already, exhaustion dragging him toward sleep with a weight far heavier than Darsce's.

And so when Darsce doubles, nay triples her klah intake without explanation there will likely be no connections whatsoever to this evening! She is also here, safe and will be fine - or so she's certain (whether that's correct or no, only the future knows). She snuggles in, spent, but not exhausted, content to be in Jethaniel's arms. Those last few candles are left to burn out unattended; they too, will be fine. In the morning, when that alarm goes off, she'll pounce on it (the clock will be lucky if it survives) and silence the thing, but she may not need further sleep since she dozed while Jethaniel was climbing for his life. Why, she might even attempt to cook her husband his very first Darsce-made breakfast! Eeek?

Given certain of the unpredictable elements which will manifest themselves in the near future, Jethaniel is likely to increase his own klah intake merely to achieve the necessary levels of alterness and overtime; he's likely - if he gives much thought to Darsce's consumption habits - to assume it is for similar reasons. Tomorrow morning, when that alarm rouses him, Darsce may need to remind Jethaniel that he's taking a half-day off; while he agreed to the concept when she proposed it - and will again - he was not precisely giving the topic his full and complete attention when she brought it up. There were certain… distractions. Once reminded, he'll drift back to sleep, and later that morning, the smell of smoke and the sound of swearing will wake him to - ah, but that is merely one potential for the future; Jethaniel might instead be roused from his doze with the pleasant scent of klah brewing for the second or third pot of the day. The future is full of possibilities. For tonight, Jethaniel holds Darsce close and takes comfort in her presence as he sleeps.

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