Running Away

Xanadu Weyr - Calisiya's Quarters

Marel has come here several other days before. The door is closed and locked and if she knocks, there’s no response. However, when she opens the door this time . . Calisiya is sleeping (fully clothed) on top of hat painfully yellow bedspread. She blinks, twists her head … and yelps loudly at someone else being in the room.

Marel has barely inched into the room before she catches sight of Calisiya, and though she stares rather impassively through her yelping, the gold firelizard half-buried in her hair does exactly the opposite and launches herself skyward, aiming for the highest rung of the ladder that the brownrider has left behind as she works on the garden wall. Rescue must dig her claws into Marel’s shoulder as she flings herself towards the top of the room, for there’s a flinch from her that she attempts to hide and suppress, primarily by uttering, “You did give me a spare key. And say that you were going to be away.”

Calisiya waves her hand. It’s the wave of someone who can’t quite get her speech to work right until her heart stops pounding. She looks tired but anyone who was just woken up from a sound sleep would be. She breathes deeply a little and manages to get one half of her usual smile up. “It’s . . it’s okay. Come in. I’m supposed to be away, I’m just here for the day and I thought I’d put my head down.” Her hair is a disaster from rolling about in her sleep and she sits up to grab a brush and start on it. “I think . . I was having a nightmare and you startled me. Really! Come in. Don’t have to justify yourself.”

“I don’t have to do the work now,” Marel replies, still not entirely in the room yet. “I only came along to see how this…” she has to twist and get around the door, letting it close behind her, to lift up the pot that presently houses a trailing rose in a shade of pale pink, “would go with the rest.” She peers between the wall, the rose and Calisiya, then remarks, “I thought it might be too light, but any darker would be out of place.” A handful of steps carries her to set the pot down at the base of the ladder. “It was originally from a cutting of the ones growing over my cottage, so at least it should do its work in occupying wall-space.”

“You can do the work if you want.” Calisiya says, brushing away and trying with only moderate succcess to get some of the tangles out. But she’s not hurrying. She’s tired. She looks to the offered plant while she tips her head to get a better angle at her brushing. “That’s pretty.” A moment while she imagines it growing outward over the rocks and the mental image pleases her. “Did I upset you somehow when I left, the last time?” It’s abrupt. But half of what Calisiya does is abrupt. “You didn’t look quite right, and I thought maybe I said the wrong thing?”

“You need not worry about upsetting me,” Marel declares, her focus half on Calisiya and half on Rescue, as she tries to coax the pale gold down from the top of the ladder with little success. “How could you upset me, besides?” She plainly doesn’t believe that it’s possible, a distance there even to her own reply. “You know little enough of me to be the architect of something designed to hurt, you don’t seem the sort for it, and it wouldn’t be wise to upset me, anyway, since I have a key to your room and could make this wall an absolute disaster.” The last bit must be a joke, as deadpan as it’s delivered.

Calisiya smiles her usual happy smile at the joke, but settles in to something a little more honest after that. Calm and pleasant but . . imploring a little bit. “I’m not very smart. Well, about people. I know music like the back of my hand but I’m not good with people. And I *know* that face. If you don’t want to talk about it, it’s okay … but … I’m sorry?” She’s apologizing for Marel thinking that ‘Close your Eyes’ ‘Clear your Heart’ was for her, not song lyrics. She brushes away, wincing here and there. “Who’s good in Xanadu for hair?” It’s an effort to change the subject away from what she views the other woman thinking to be uncomfortable.

“I’ve told you,” Marel reiterates, “you don’t need to concerned about upsetting me. You’ve no need to apologise.” She’s not unkind about it, but she is rather clear, the weight of her words shield and warning both. “Don’t apologise for something that you haven’t done or you’ll be saying sorry your whole life.” Rescue hops down a rung or two, but nowhere near the whole way down the ladder yet. The brownrider takes a moment to collect herself, then answers, “There’s a woman in the caverns who specialises in formal braids and so on, but for a cut you might be better off in Ierne.”

“I do say sorry all of my life.” Calisiya snips back, though it’s gentle. Really, she’s only ever called someone a bad name once or twice in her life and she can’t remember ever raising her voice. ” . . and it’s probably not going to go anywhere anytime soon. It’s … just something that I have to do.” At least she’s not apologizing for saying sorry, she’s just justifying it? “Blah.” She says, obviously unhappy with that one. “I hate having to travel all over Pern for luxuries. You’d think someone with your talent in flowers, but in hair would have -something- opened here.”

“Well, you shouldn’t.” Marel’s voice isn’t exactly harsh, but it is quite clipped. “You’re even doing it now, just without saying the actual word.” Such is her interpretation. “Own a mistake when you’ve made it, but don’t give anyone else the power to make you feel bad, especially when you’ve done nothing to deserve it in the first place.” Only at the tail end of those words must she realise that what she’s saying isn’t exactly harmless, for she turns away and redoubles her efforts to get Rescue down from the ladder. She can’t think to address the other matter, and so after a moment or so’s futile flapping at the firelizard, she exhales an audible sigh and lets one hand drop to the nearest rung. “…I’m sorry.”

Calisiya kind of just looks at Marel and looks at her. Her mouth opens and then it closes again. “I don’t let other people make me feel bad.” Oh, she is lying through her teeth. She’ll feel bad about it later. “I just want everyone to be … not mad? Not upset. And saying sorry seems to appease most people even when I know it’s not my fault, or I’ve done nothing wrong.” She hangs her head a little with her eyes staring fixedly into the floor in front of Marel. “It . . makes people feel better to think that things aern’t their fault? That’s . . kind of not what I was doing with you though, I was trying to be polite and not directly ask what happened . . because it looked like I’d hit you over the head with something when I left. I didn’t realize it until I was already away.” The floor listens to her well, at the very least. ” . . don’t apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong. I’m sorry I put you in this position.”

Marel sneaks a glance over her shoulder and looks back at Calisiya for long enough to reach the conclusion that, “You’re letting me make you feel bad,” enunciated with only the very slightest softening of the cooler elements of her tone. “And you’re apologising. Again. What good will it do you to take on the weight of the world and let everybody think you’ll take responsibility for their poor behaviour? You’ll self-destruct sooner than you think – and don’t tell me that it’ll never happen because you can handle it; it’s not fair to yourself to demand that that be true.” Rescue hops down another rung.

“There’s more to everyone than poor behavior.” Calisiya says, biting her bottom lip. It’s hard for her to stand her ground in the face of a stronger personality but she’s going to try on this one; in fact she lifts her head. “It’s . . it’s more complicated than that, you have a simplistic view. I can take the weight of the world. I know . . I know I look like a drink of water, but . . ” She looks a the floor again, takes a deep breath and looks right into Marel’s eyes. “When I look at the world? I don’t see people misbehaving; I don’t see poor behavior. I don’t see people arguing with each other because someone did something wrong. I see a whole darn lot of sad people. Everyone’s broken, everyone’s carrying around things that hurt them. Little splinters, little cuts that were never stitched. And they’re carrying them inside. So, I smile even when I want to die. I smile when I’m sad, and I smile when I’m angry. Sometimes I can’t smile for a little while, like right now, but ten minutes down the road? I’ll be smiling again. I do it for the same reason I apologize all the time. I’m not… I’m not a door mat. I just want people to be happy. If I can smile super hard at someone having a bad day, and make them smile too . . my life is worth something to me.” Her shoulders sag the smallest amount, but she keeps those eyes right on Marel. “If I can take the weight, and people have a better day for it, good. If I burn out, I burn ut.”

“…And that’s not going to work on at least one person from now on, is it?” Marel says quietly, turning slightly to lean lightly against the ladder. “Because now every time that I see you smile, I’m going to believe that it’s false and that you’re falling apart inside. There’s at least one person that you can’t lie to anymore as effectively as you’d like.” She’s not the least bit aggressive or angry in her response, distant and calm even in her assessment of the situation. “I was not,” she says all too clearly, “suggesting that you are a doormat. I was trying to get across that you shouldn’t sacrifice yourself for others who won’t care that they tear you down. Look after yourself.” There’s a flicker of something else, some intensity that makes it through in a flash that’s there and gone. “And don’t lay your armour down at the feet of anyone else, when you’ve already laid it before me.”

Calisiya opens her mouth to speak. Then she closes it. She’d never really thought of it that way. She hadn’t figured that her justification, which she really does believe would be taken that way. She struggles, hard, inside of her head. Oh, that wasn’t what she wanted. Never for even a second did she think someone would take it *that* way. But they are actually right. Marel is. What she’s done is invoke mistrust. That she’s not sincere. She . . didn’t mean it that way, or did she? She doesn’t know. But nobody’s ever come back to her like this before and she just doesn’t know how to take it. Really, she was at least truthful in all she wants to do is make people happy but this… It’s so outside the bounds of what Calisiya is prepared for that all she can do is stare into Marel’s eyes with her mouth a little open. And tears silently falling out of the corner of each eye. She can’t smile, but she can at least not go completely to pieces.

“…Well, now…” Marel murmurs, absolutely not at all pleased with her accomplishment, yet somehow satisfied at the same time. “There’s something genuine.” She watches Calisiya for a moment more, her posture so rigid that she might be split-seconds away from flight with or without Rescue, the door being such a convenient and near escape route, yet all she does is reach out a hand towards her, fingers crooked slightly like she’d curl them around a hand of hers. It’s all that she lets herself do, no obvious regret visible on her features; nothing beyond that gesture.

Calisiya eventually has to lower her eyes from Marel’s and stare into the floor. She’s really fighting hard. She has no idea why this even hurts so much. Seriously, she’s crying because her florist was mean to her? Or is she crying because her florist has a good point and her life suddenly feels hollow and empty? She looks at the crooked hand, then looks at the floor, looks at the floor, and then at Marel’s face. The tears never quite stop and a few will drip from her face as she feels no need to wipe them away. ” . . that … that . . ” Hurt. “You must think I’m some kind of idiot.”

Marel lets her arm drop back to her side and promptly clasps both hands behind her back. “No,” she states with as much conviction as the rest. “I just think that you’re too willing to destroy yourself, and if and when it happens, you’ll try to do such a good job of hiding it that you’ll only make it worse. We all survive in different ways, but you’re setting yourself up for a fall, just like the rest of us.” She swallows hard. “I don’t need you to apologise and smile and say that everything’s fine, and if that’s one less person you need to smile and hurt yourself for when you’re really suffering, then I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

“I . . don’t really suffer all that much.” Calisiya feels the need to say, correcting Marel gently. “I don’t . . I don’t have a bad life.” That’s all that she gets out for now, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “Most people have a lot bigger problems than I do. I don’t . . really have anything to be sad about right now?” So she might as well let other people make her that way? It’s a lame, lame justification and she knows it. “So . . I guess, even if you don’t believe my smile . . chances are I’m not suffering that badly either? I just have moments here and there.” She pauses, and then tries, gently . . “Like the rest of us?”

“I’m saying that you don’t have to do it,” Marel says flatly. “At least not with me. You don’t need to justify why you should or shouldn’t, or whether you truly have enough pain to validate it.” She shakes her head a blunt refusal to supply what she understands to be the sought response to that last enquiry, right as Rescue finally slips down from the ladder and onto her shoulder. “I know how I am. We’re just at opposite ends of the spectrum. And… that’s that.” From one of her pockets, she produces the key to Calisiya’s room and holds it out to her. “I’ll get one of my staff to finish the work when you next visit.”

” … ” Calisiya takes a deep breath. “Are you offering me the key because you feel like it’s gotten awkward and you’d rather leave? Or are you offering it out of politeness? Because I’m leaving this afternoon, I’d really rather you did it instead of your staff…. ” All of that comes out in a jumble. “….. and you didn’t say anything I didn’t need to hear. I’ve… been a mess since I lost my family. Being alone isn’t . . natural for me. So I try to make everyone else my family, and it’s stupid.” She sniffs, wiping a bit more water away. “So, if you’re leaving because you think you’ve hurt my feelings, you don’t have to. You did, but it’s behavior I need to understand. And . . I’m not just saying that. I have to deal with this. I’m just . . I guess, I don’t know if I’m ready to.”

“I’m giving,” not offering, “you the key because technically I’m your employee and this isn’t what you’ve paid for,” Marel replies, still holding out the key. “My staff are very good; I wouldn’t employ them if they weren’t. They won’t do a poor job.” She flexes her shoulders simply to adjust to the familiar weight of the firelizard. “And I’m leaving because I don’t think you’re going to stop asking me questions, and I know that I’m not going to answer them. And if that changes, things will get… ugly. That isn’t the burden to bear of someone already attempting to shoulder everyone else’s.”

Calisiya reaches out and takes the key, staring at it dumbly. “This . . isn’t what I want.” Calisiya says. ” . . it feels like you’re running. I just . . I won’t ask questions anymore.” She sounds defeated, even exhausted and Marel may realize she’s doing exactly what she told her not to. She’s going along with what Marel wants because she’s trying to make things better. But Calisiya clearly isn’t happy with the arrangement of having her staff work on this, her face says it. And then, her face changes. She stops crying and… an annoyed look spreads over it. ” … . . If it’s privacy.” Calisiya blurts out, having no idea where the words come from. “Fine. But if it’s not wanting to answer because you don’t want to face how you feel and you’re calling it privacy that’s no damn different than what you just said about me smiling and lying. One’s camoflauging it, ones evading it.” She has her chin up and there’s a tiny little bit of proudness there. She’s been pushed far. “Everyone hurts. I’m not comparing mine to yours, but this is really, really dumb. On both of our parts.”

“I never said that it wasn’t,” Marel replies with an eerie kind of calm. “I told you: I know how I am. I never said that it wasn’t destructive or just a means to an end. I have a daughter to put before myself; a dragon; a business; employees. That’s how it is. You smile. I don’t. We believe that we’re equally good at self-preservation, and we’re just equally as awful at it. Is that about right?” She tilts her head, as though she could be waiting for an answer, yet she doesn’t. “You can’t fault me for wanting to stop you before you get to this stage.” Where you can’t stop. “You lit up in a whole different way when you spoke about your craft. You were beautiful.” And that admittance makes her blush, even if she stubbornly refuses to acknowledge it in the slightest. “Maybe that’s how I knew the difference.”.

“Well, there we go.” Calisiya says with a ragged breath. A little bitter in her enuciations, the way it rolls off her tongue. “That was honest, too.” She lets the bit about laying armor down go though. It’s just better that way. Since the tears began she’s forgotten about her brush and it somewhat comically hangs in her hair. “That sounds about right. Thank you for being fair at least.” A couple more tears are coming from her left eye without her realization, just wandering down her face on their own. “And you can’t fault me for not wanting people to get to that stage. I just want.. people to be happy.” She’s parroting back what Marel said and she knows it, but eventually she has to stop and thik about what was said and the last bit makes her eyes widen a little. Then they narrow and one hand comes up to cover her mouth. She takes a second. Then slowly, she gets up, crossing to stand in front of the florist with the hairbrush still hanging off the side of her head. ” … can you say that one more time? Please?” It really is a request, her voice isn’t pleading, but it’s a real need to hear it again. And she’ll watch Marel’s face, oh so hard, so very, very hard for any sign of dishonesty.

Marel’s expression is so carefully schooled into an impassive kind of calm that it’s difficult to tell how she feels at all, let alone whether she’s lying or not. She doesn’t seem to have held back so far, and so perhaps that might be a better indication as to whether she’d bother to gather herself to tell such a lie. She holds herself steady as Calisiya approaches, the hairbrush situation caught and acknowledge with a mere flick of her gaze, and it’s as she gently reaches with the intention of removing said brush from her hair that she swallows down whatever embarrassment she feels and repeats, “I said you’re beautiful,” with the same careless conviction as last time.

Calisiya has forgotten about the hairbrush, so she leans away at first when Marel reaches for it. Then it clicks in what she is doing and she lets her take it. She’s torn between looking at the floor; braced for the incoming dishonesty that she’s going to say and watching for it, hoping for it. Marel’s eyes are scrutinized by someone who is expecting to find falsehood. Looking for it, almost demanding it. And when it doesn’t come, she just kind of doesn’t know what to do. Mouth opens just a little and . . she doesn’t blush, just looks. And when she talks, there’s no stammer in her voice. “Nobody’s ever said that to me before.” Floor study. “I feel like I should say something. Or do something. But I don’t . . know what.”

“You don’t have to do either,” Marel replies, matter of fact, holding the brush out towards her in the same manner as she held the key: with the expectation that she’ll take it. “Here.” Her posture changes the slightest bit, weight shifting like she’d excuse herself and turn to leave. It’s a last moment thought, the new rose caught at the periphery of her vision that makes her gesture towards it, where it still lies at the base of the ladder, and tell Calisiya, “You’ll want to water that before you go to Ierne, or wherever you go.”

“Will you please stop running out the door.” Calisiya says, softly at Marel’s back with a key in one hand and a brush in the other. “I can’t tell if you keep trying to excuse yourself because you feel awkward or because you think I feel awkward. Just stay for a minute, please. Let me get my thoughts togeather.”

She’s at the door by the time she stops, and Marel just stares into the grain of the wood for moment after moment, until she convinces herself to turn around, leaning back against that door to support herself. Perhaps her silence is what’s driven her that far in the first place, for with nothing to successfully communicate, the quiet possesses her and leaves her with nothing to do but watch Calisiya with a wary edge to her.

Calisiya swallows. So many firsts. This is the first time someone has ever called her that, it’s also the first time that she’s had to deal with someone who might be as damaged as she is. The awkward? It fills the room. “Please.” Calisiya says more firmly. “Stop. Running away. I don’t want you to run away. Okay? So just don’t. Even if you have to stand there and look at me funny, do it, just . . stop running away. Just because I can’t figure out what to say doesn’t mean I don’t want to say something.” She takes a deep breath and a step forward. ” … please do this yourself? Let’s start there. I know your staff are good, but I want you to do this. You were having fun with it before, right up until this morning. Can you . . please tell me, so I can understand … why you don’t want to do it anymore?” She’s approaching, slowly, key in hand and outstretched. “And maybe we can fix the first reason you want to run away before we can move on to the second.”

“I’m not running away.” Marel states it as a fact, like the sky is blue. “I’m trying to make this an easier and more efficient process for you. I wouldn’t pay someone to behave as I have, so it makes sense that you get what you want by way of people who can do the same job, without running the risk of it happening again.” She gives an almost imperceptible shake of her head. “I don’t take any of it back. I meant what I said; I’m not going to apologise for what I think. This will only take a matter of days, and for those days, it may well be better for you to avoid what I think.”

Calisiya hesitates while she thinks. Come on, Calisiya. Get this right in your head. ” … and why do you think that you’ve behaved in a way that makes me not want to pay you? Surely. That’s for me to decide, isn’t it? You said something that you felt and that I needed to hear.” She tips her head, searching for her next point as her brain slowly works on making sense of everything. “You said what you felt and were honest. Do you actually think that I’m . . bea..” She can’t say the word. She tries, but it flits off her tongue. “pretty?” She tries, a little helplessly. “Or was that a cover to try and make me feel better because you thought you hurt my feelings?”

“It’s… more of a metaphor,” Marel says slowly, her focus absenting itself for a moment. “A turn of phrase, except there actually are marks involved, so I suppose I shouldn’t have put it that way. I mean more that I wouldn’t entertain the company of someone who had distressed me.” She knots her arms beneath her chest and arches a brow the tiniest bit. “If I won’t apologise and I won’t take it back, why exactly would I make something up to make you feel better?” she puts to her. “I may be a brownrider, but it doesn’t mean I go around telling every woman that.” Or any.

Calisiya doesn’t answer because she’s going somewhere. Her brain is actually having some clarity and working towards one of her very rare good points. ” … So, let’s say that someone was your friend. And they said something because they cared about you and you didn’t like it. But it was for your own good and you knew they were right. Didn’t mean that you were going to be able to stop doing it, but … they were right and their intent was good. Would you dismiss them from your presence so easily?” She’s inching a bit closer.

After her arms knot an inch or so tighter, Marel goes almost uncomfortably still, that is until her lips curve infinitesimally in what is not a nice, sweet smile at all, only tired and bitter through and through. “I don’t get to do the dismissing,” she utters so very clearly and carefully, “so I wouldn’t know.”

Calisiya stops in her inching and there is a little ten or fifteen seconds of her gears turing. She bites her bottom lip. Then she steps firmly towards Marel. “Please don’t run away.” She says, and attempts to slip her arms around her waist and hug her. It works for her because she doesn’t know what to say, and when her mouth fails her touch has always been what works for her. As much as hugs can. Marel’s taller than her, but she can get a pretty good hug on. At least now, Calisiya can’t be mad at her. She’s as damaged as she is. That little bit of honesty reveals it.

There’s a low thunk of sound when one of Marel’s heels hits the door as she tries to retreat further, then a brief rush of wings as Rescue launches herself back towards the ladder to keep herself from having her tail trapped against said door. The brownrider doesn’t push Calisiya away, but nor does she immediately reach to do anything like return her hug, tension lacing her whole form tight. Seconds pass with her somehow still trying to hold herself at a distance, yet, soon enough, she begins to relax little by little, until she still can’t quite return her embrace, but manages to rest her hands at her hips.

Calisiya doesn’t let go right away. She’ll wait. If it takes ten minutes, she’ll wait. Since she isn’t actually /repelled/ she’ll wait until she actually starts to hug her back. And then she’ll wait some more. “Nobody has ever said that about me before. I get pretty sometimes, or she’d be beautiful ‘if’, but nobody’s ever actually meant that. And you mean it.” The same sort of look is on her face as when she was talking about her music. “The best part is?” She’s repeating herself, doesn’t care. “You actually mean it.” Poor Marel. She’s trapped between the wall and a smiling Calisiya. “You really, really mean it.”

Marel doesn’t refute what she says, and nor does she state it again, not with Calisiya doing a good enough job of that on her own without her input. Her fingers flex, but her hands don’t actually move, not to slide around her or settle elsewhere, anchored where they are as if she doesn’t know what to do with them now. Maybe she’s actually forgotten that they’re there. For the span of a breath, she can’t even trust herself to look at her, not when she’s being exactly as what got her into this in the first place. “So, now what are you going to do with me?” she enquires rather dryly, trapped as she is.

Calisiya doesn’t answer verbally, instead she experiments. She takes one of Marel’s hands to see if she can position it somewhere on her body where a sensible, if warm hug would go. She’ll try the same with the other one, half expecting her to either burst into flames or run away screaming. That she has someone trapped like this isn’t lost on her, nor is the way it makes her feel suddenly. A little empowered? A little . . that’s a strange reaction and she just buries the idea and the concept completely. Instead, she just smiles, though it fades a little. “It’s been a long time since someone hugged you, hasn’t it?” Either that or she has a severe hug allergy. “Whatever happened? I won’t ask. But you’ve got someone here who really, really wants to share a hug and a little moment with you because you made her happy. Give her fifteen seconds of you, open and unguarded. Just fifteen.” She wonders what’s hidden there, behind all of that trauma. “Plus, you think she’s pretty. It can’t be a bad thing.” Hug the girl, damnit!

There’s no fight when Calisiya moves her hands, and no answers to her questions, still passive between girl and door until something in what she says gives her pause. Marel finally lets herself glance down at her again, and while she cannot comply with her request by way of words or making the hug anything more like something she’s initiated or committed to, she watches her for a half-moment, then ducks her head slowly enough for Calisiya to escape her intentions if she chooses. If not, the press of her lips to hers is a chaste thing and in no way a whole fifteen seconds, but it is something, whether she means it as a thing born of attraction or simple proof that she’s capable of being something softer.

And the flinch when Marel does it is mighty. Not prepared for it, a more experienced person would probably have expected it as the natural result of having someone between the wall and her and asking such a thing. It’s not a flinch of terror or something repugnant, just surprise. It means that there is only the briefest contact and then it was spoiled by the motion away. Calisiya laughs, guiltily, surprised that she’s not blushing. She’d have thought, if she were asked, she’d have something to be embarassed about. She bites her bottom lip visibly. “I’m sorry, I mean that, by the way. You just caught . . I wasn’t expecting that.” No time to adjust for back away after her explanation and justification, she’ll stand on her tip toes and … later, she’s going to wonder what’s happening here and how she got here, but she’ll return her lips to Marel’s. Except it’s not as chaste, but not blatantly provoking either. Calisiya doesn’t know what she wants, or what she’s asking for or anything like that. She’s experiencing something new, and she’ll try to get as much from it as she can until she feels she’s gone too far. And when it’s done, she’ll bump her forehead against Marel’s collarbone. /Now/ she’s blushing. She doesn’t even know where that came from.

There’s a second or so where it seems that Marel would just quite like to become one with the door and pretend that she isn’t as mortified as she is when Calisiya apologises, but by the time she’s gathered her wits and filtered what she deems to be logical and noncommittal enough to remark, she doesn’t get to say any of it at all. She doesn’t make demands of her, and chooses instead to let her take what she wants for as long as she wants, without making any overt or forceful indication of her own wants or needs. It’s her hands that give her away, really, the grasp that was lax suddenly not so, arms seeking to press her closer until the moment ends. She just tries to breathe, or pretends to breathe normally, especially with Calisiya’s head resting against her collarbone.

Calisiya explores. Carefully, gently. She’s never done this before and it isn’t immediate for her to find the spot that feels the best to her. So it’s a good thing that Marel isn’t in a hurry. She might even notice that Calisiya just smells good, expensive soaps, something cloyingly flowery in her hair. She has the means to find the scents that please her and she’s never been one to deny herself. It’s a strange moment for her, stomach butterflies, that warm fuzzy of being appreciated, and the how-did-we-get here moment. When she’s hugged, she instinctively knows she’s safe and she looks up from her collarbone rest. She hasn’t done something wrong. And so, she’ll explore more. A nose along Marel’s neck; a chaste kiss at the corner of her mouth, and another longer one at her lips. This time, Calisiya can get into it enough that she can close her eyes and finds herself grabby-handing the woman’s clothes to pull herself harder into that hug. When this one ends, she’s flush faced, breathing a little harder and her eyes are a little wide. “I, um. We’d probably . . better cool it a bit.”

“You’re the one trying to disrobe me,” Marel can’t help but drawl in answer to that, something faintly warmer in her icy-green eyes that takes the edge off of what could be sharper humour. She doesn’t immediately let go of Calisiya, but she does loosen her hold and let her decide how much distance she wants to put between them. “I’m not about to cart you off to bed, no matter what you’ve heard about riders,” she tells her plainly. “And if you want to forget this ever happened once I’m on the other side of that door, then…” The brownrider tries out a shrug that tries to negate that that’s evidently what she expects will happen. “But really… I should go. I don’t think you’ll want to make too many decisions now.”

“I thought about it.” Calisiya quips back. She might not even be mortified later. “So not there, not ready for it yet. I’ve… never even kissed anyone before. Especially..” She doesn’t say it, but the emphasis is there. Especially a girl. She doesn’t try to snake out from Marel’s grip. She begins to rummage around her a little looking for .. hairbrush, no, it isn’t there. Key, there it is. She presses this into Marel’s hand and keeps her hand over top of it. “No forgetting.” And she won’t. Marel’s done screwed up. Nobody ever forgets their first kiss and she’s going to have to live with that for the rest of her natural life. Hmmph. “Let’s make a decision right now. An important one. You’ll keep working on this for me, and I’ll be back in two weeks, and when I am, you’ll come by for a talk and I’ll play some music for you?”

Never even… Well, Marel does a good job of making it look like that information isn’t news to her. Any admittances on her part are suppressed and swallowed down, along with whatever fears rise when the key makes a reappearance and Calisiya goes about telling her what’s going to happen. At least, that’s how she must hear it. Maybe she’s still processing that first bit of news, for all she manages to do is nod dumbly and close her fingers around the key before she returns it to her pocket. She actually has to remember to let go of Calisiya to do anything about opening the door and making good on what may or may not be ‘running away’ at this point, but as she goes, she makes to brush a kiss against the line of her jaw before she vanishes. And Rescue? The little traitor just darts Between without the need to be coaxed down from anywhere.

And so, Calisiya is left standing there after Marel leaves. She closes the door, though not before turning her head to accept that brushed kiss. Then, with a click, she locks it and returns to her yellow comforter. Curling up in it, it earns it’s name for awhile as she replays again and again the last few minutes in her head. How did she end up there? How did she get there? That was . . she falls asleep before she can draw any conclusions but at least, for right now? Right that moment, the smile on her face was a genuine one.

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