Rage at the Sky
PASTE


A tunnel off the Inner Caverns - Igen Weyr
Following the Igen Hatching


Did she lose something? This woman with the bowed head, whose back is still too far into the corridor and not far enough off the actual path to be as hidden as she doubtlessly would like to be for this… this. Red-hair is now free of its usual plait, white robe still marks Tejra for what she is— what she was? What she still technically could be even if there are no longer eggs with her destiny swirling in their might bes and could bes. Given the harper's routine, extensive exercise in self-control, being seen by the number of people who must have skirted her and 'allowed' her her privacy in which to come undone, this is hardly how the teenager would want it. She's barely that, now. So nearly twenty, and yet still so very young. Her shoulders shake, and the sound is quiet, but even Tej can't fully hold back the storm of tears that is the sweeping misery of abject disappointment of being left standing on the hatching sands such a short time ago. The caverns are still alive with those celebrating, those sorrowing, and those seeking to escape the noise after the first crush of it all is over. Maybe she held it together in those public settings, but here in this side tunnel off the inner caverns, she couldn't get quite far enough to find a private space in which to fracture, to shatter, to become a broken girl with dashed dreams.

Alexa did the thing she was supposed to do. The meet-and-greet. The smile-and-nod. The 'we're so glad you could make it!' greetings and well-wishes that came with her position. But there's something about revelry and people and noise that has the goldrider gritting her teeth and faking her smiles and maybe using her pregnancy as a really convenient excuse to bow out early because she's definitely ditching the celebration long before she probably "should". And down a side tunnel, leaving the party behind and looking for solace, is probably the last place she expects to find Tejra. Maybe it's the hair, or the robe, or the combination of both, but it's a quick connection in the weyrwoman's head as to who this is and what she might be doing (even if crying is probably not something she ever expected to see). And maybe it's those darn pregnancy hormones or the maternal sentiments wafting from Raaneth, but despite her better judgement she just cannot walk away. Still, there is a pause, a calculated weighing of options before she closes the distance, finding a spot on the wall to lean so that she's near but not in her space before she sighs and decides, "I'm not the kind of harper that's good at words, you know? At least, not at speaking them. So… maybe pretend I said something really comforting, instead of this nonsense." A beat. Two. "Are you alright?" Clearly, she's not. But it's the thing people say, right? And at least it comes with genuine concern and empathy.

Crying is not really something Tejra, who has had a wealth of experiences with these salty expressions of so many complicated feelings in her personal repetoire, expects to have to show anyone. She just… didn't make it, not far enough away, or private enough. She can't catch her breath, she can't control them and it's made her face go blotchy red and ugly. She's not one of those women blessed with a pretty set of tears, not unless she's faking it, and this come straight from those deepest of heart wounds. How long ago did she learn not to wish? Not to hope? Dreams are for dumdums. And yet, here is the dreamer, the dumdum, expression colored with shock and helplessness as she looks back over her shoulder, up at Alexa and opens her mouth to speak, gulping down a sob instead. She looks away, she leans into the wall that one hand had managed to catch hold of when her knees betrayed her into this unplanned crouch that too quickly became a kneel. It takes her a moment, and maybe it's just because Alexa is there that Tej is able to use that wall to pull herself up and up so she can at least press her body, her front, her forehead into the cool stone wall, hiccuping smaller sobs as she struggles to make the quiet keening less. Is it mourning of something, in the way that dragons do? It might well be. The answer is obvious, so Tej doesn't try to answer the question. In fact, when she manages to turn her face toward Alexa some moments later, tears still streaming down her cheeks, though no longer stealing her voice with sobs, she manages a hoarse, "They're beautiful. Raaneth's offspring." Because they are, and that's part of what makes it just so hard. She hiccups again and hides her face against the stone, one hand coming up to cover her mouth, her nose, all the gross that she'll wipe on the top edge of the robe smattered by a little egg goo here and stuck with a bit of sand there.

It should be clear in a glance that Alexa was never trained on how to handle these sorts of situations. And why would she be? She was a Harper apprentice and then a candidate-weyrling-weyrwoman with little stop along the way to learn emotional maturity or how to handle unexpected displays of emotion from people you used to think of as rivals. Used to? Still do? She's not sure. But in this, there's only a shared heartache; a by-proxy breaking of her own heart because while she might not have been there, she can definitely imagine it. They may be in the hallway, but at least it is a quieter hallway, and Alexa, while not wanting to crowd, is definitely inching closer if just to offer the comfort of not being alone. A moment or two, in which she seems to debate reaching out, but maybe touching is taking things a little to far because, after one or two weirdly aborted attempts, she simply hands her hands at her side and presses her palms to the wall instead, a long sigh exhaled as she fights her own swell of irrational emotion. "Yeah, that was a dumb question," she agrees, quiet words offered in self-deprecating tones. "Sorry." For asking it. It's when Tejra turns that she turns as well, just a turn of her head so that she can afford her some eye contact briefly, if just to acknowledge her. "They are," she sighs, a sad little smile offered for a split second. Because they are. Even if Alexa is utterly biased in that regard. Another little breath, and she turns to stare at the opposite wall, allowing tears and nose-wiping and all the mess to be handled outside of her view. "I've never… I only stood the once." It's not a brag but rather an apology; a little explanation offered because, "I don't know how it feels to be left. I won't pretend that I do. But I can imagine." And she did. But she's pretty sure reality is far worse than she could have pictured. "And I'm sorry," she adds. "Cause it sucks and… It sucks." Lame. She knows it. But the words are out and she can't take it back.

"It sucks," Tejra confirms, her voice quiet but fervent, fierce, after a long, unattractive sniff. She makes some small motions with the robe. This conversation is simply doomed to be punctuated by awkward pauses, but at least there don't appear to be any more immediate, undeniable tears, even if the girl's eyes are red-rimmed in a way that assures she was crouched there some time before Alexa happened along. "I told my friend when he dropped me off that I was afraid to hope. His dragon told me she would have chosen me if I'd been on the sands the day she shelled. I know she didn't mean it, but it was nice to hear anyway." She swallows hard. Not usually a sharer, the emotions seem to have loosed some of her relevant secrets. "I don't think I can regret having tried, but I do regret this. Falling apart. I should be harder than this. I've been through worse disappointments. Those eggs… they were promises of love that could be, right?" She doesn't really stop, "Of futures yet to come, but they weren't ever a sure thing, the odds weren't even ever in my favor." They never are with how many candidates there are for how few eggs. "This should be easier to bear than those disappointments that were things that should have been, were promises of what ought to have happened and never did." And yet, the implication is that this is somehow worse. She swallows hard. "But I guess at least now I don't have to stay in the desert where my skin burns at every chance and the library is the best place to go every hour of the day." She's trying to find the silver lining, maybe?

"That…" Alexa really isn't sure how to respond to that; to the idea of a friend's dragon saying such a thing. But there's a little crumpling of her expression that seems to suggest she'd find it devastating just the same. Even if it wasn't true. Even if she, herself, has Raaneth. "I know what that's like, though," she admits. "Not wanting to hope." And maybe she won't elaborate, but it's there in her expression; in her tone of voice. Hope is a dangerous thing, and maybe Alexa knows that, too. "I don't think it would be easier," she decides, the words low like she's confessing a secret. Or maybe it's just in deference to the moment; to the breaking of hearts and the tears that have been shed. "The eggs… dragons… they don't lie," she continues, to explain her own reasoning. "When they promise things, they intent to fulfill those promises. And they do. It's just…" They do it for very specific people. And not everyone. "They're not deceptive; they don't… It's not like people." And so she can totally see how it would be worse. So much worse. "So yeah…" she finishes somewhat lamely, offering a shrug of her shoulders because it's just what she does. There's a meager snort and a sound like amusement for the silver linings, though it's not as blatant as it might otherwise be. "The library is the best part," she agrees. "And yeah. You have… options. Opportunities elsewhere. Anywhere," she adds. "You have choices. And I mean… yeah, it sucks. It's not the same," as being a weyrling in the barracks with a new baby dragon to love, "But it's not the end either, right?"

"No, they don't lie. And the dragons don't. I mean, maybe Koth. But she just likes that I taught her to dance. But when it comes to asking a person to stand, there's no reason to do that if it's not real. Toith didn't know me from the next redhead in the meadow." Was there more than one that day? Maybe, maybe not. "I don't think it was wrong that I was here, but I do think this whole thing," she plucks at her white robe, "is a terrible, awful business." Tej glowers down at her feet. "It's like the damned stars. Always promising wishes fulfilled when you see one shooting, never delivering." She stamps a foot as if she were a small child, but maybe she just needs to release some of the pent-up feelings still raging through her. If not crying, then movement? She doesn't move from the wall but she does shift, turns around reaches up to scrub off her face with her hands. Her pale gaze casts to the stone overhead and she takes a deep breath and lets it out. "I'm not sure I can be here again." She glances toward Alexa, and maybe this is somehow a topic change, and at the same time, not. "Not just because of the stupid sun." But because the first cut is the deepest, right? "Will you and Raaneth come to visit me at Xanadu when you're done being— you know." She gestures at the weyrwoman's belly. "Because this sucks," as already stated, but now maybe she's ready to go shout it at the stars or something. "What do you do when you're angry and bitter and disappointed here? Just drink?" She eyes that belly again. Alexa must have better ways to cleanse a mood, surely?

Alexa opens her mouth only to close it again, her instinctive argument against the terrible, awful business that is hatchings (or candidacy) aborted before it's begun. There might be a natural defense, a want to argue that it's necessary, that it doesn't always end so badly. But she cuts it off and simple nods in agreement. Being left Standing? Awful. Terrible. A horrible thing. That she can absolutely agree with. And even the declaration that Tejra might not return is met with a mute little nod. Because she gets that, too. There are places Alexa won't return, even if they are not dragon-related. "I get it," she sighs. Because she does. And she's pretty sure she'd've felt the same, had Raaneth not hatched that day. "Even if it was just the stupid sun." Because it's damn hot and she's never gonna get over that. But the request has her hesitating, not out of indecision but perhaps out of a curious consideration for how they got here. To this place where Tejra would even want her to visit, and Alexa would even want to say yes. Certainly the tables have turned and past-Alexa would be screeching in indignation over such a thing. But present Alexa just offers a hint of a grin, something dry and self-deprecating, for all that 'you know' she's got to get through first, before there's a nod and a, "Definitely," to answer that inquiry. "I'll need the break from this ridiculous desert." It's hot. So hot. A drum of fingers on her stomach and she can't help another little smirk, though it's fleeting and shallow, gone before it's really begun. "Yell at things," she admits. "Throw things, sometimes. Never books." Because of course not. "You can go up to the star stones and scream at the world," she offers. "It's high enough people usually can't hear you, and even if they can, they can't see you, so they don't know who it is." She might know this from experience. "And… I mean, you dance. So… I dunno. I tend to hit things. It's kind of the same, right?" No. Not at all.

"There's no one to hit that deserves it," Tej replies to the last first with bared teeth. It's not like Tejra's about to go around punching innocent baby dragons for not choosing her, although that mental image… It makes the harper sigh. "Throwing things makes a mess, usually, and then you have to clean it up." The downsides of having a temper, but it really, really sounds like the redhead knows this particular downside from much personal experience. "Screaming…" She shrugs. "Dance, maybe later." She presses her lips together, brow furrowing, and then shoots another glance at Alexa's belly. "Can you still fly?" She doesn't know. Babies and flying restrictions are both out of her wheelhouse. Despite asking the question it doesn't stop her from saying. "When you visit, we'll find something more exciting to do than throw things." Although perhaps also throw things, depending on their moods and the circumstances. "Summer is probably the best time. Our summer, not yours." Different hemispheres and all that, and time zones for that matter. There's a very brief silence before she offers quietly, "I'm very angry. It hurts, Aly. All this hurts. I didn't know a hurt could hurt this way. It's worse because I know I'll do it again. There will be more eggs. Someone will ask and fool me will say yes. And then I'll be here, again. Unless I'm not." But the odds are never in her favor. That confession is there and gone so quick and so quiet, it might not have ever been save for the haunted look lingering in Tej's face when she looks back up at the blonde.

"Yeah," for those deserving (or not deserving) to be hit. And "Sometimes," for the mess of throwing things. All said with a sigh, as if the task of deciding how to vent one's frustration were a daunting and underappreciated struggle. "I dunno, I like screaming. Sometimes." Screaming to the sky has its merits. Even if the sky doesn't really deserve it, or answer back. As for flying? "Yeah, I can." It's maybe getting on the dragon that is a bit more of a challenge. "Sure," for things to do in Xanadu. "Pretty much everywhere has more exciting things to do than throwing things. But… well. I'll take what I can get in Igen." It's a lame attempt at a joke. One that might fall flat given Alexa doesn't put much effort into laughing at it herself. And laughing at your own jokes is just kinda sad. "I'll come in the summer. Baby should be born by then." One would hope. "And we can do… whatever." Dance or throw things or scream or scheme. But it's the confession that has her fa├žade crumbling once again, that sympathetic hurt — that hurt0by-proxy — showing once again. Because it sucks and she doesn't have an answer. "I know," comes in a sigh. "I mean, I don't know-know, because… yeah. But I get it. I mean. Yeah." So eloquent. One would definitely know she was a Harper once. "There will be more eggs," she agrees, because it's just a fact of life. "And you could stand for them. But… you don't have to, either. But if you do, that's okay too. I mean… I don't really have an answer for that." She really doesn't have any answers for anything right now. "But I mean…" Shrug. Because yeah. She doesn't have an answer. "For what it's worth, I'm glad you stood for Raaneth's clutch. Even if it sucks that… yeah."

"Does Raaneth want to stretch her wings? Would she give us a ride to nowhere so we can swear at the sky where no one can hear us?" Tej suggests, red brows lifting. "Maybe you have things to scream about and you don't even know it." Or maybe she does, but Tej isn't the kind of friend to pry. Friend. If they're not that yet, they probably would be by the time that they've insulted the sky together. "If she doesn't want to, I suppose the star stones would suffice." They are all the things Alexa already highlighted, after all, but it's not as good as riding on a dragon, which has never lost its novelty before. There's a very small pause. "The gold looked at me." Everyone saw. And passed her over. She swallows hard. "I've never ridden on a gold dragon before, you know." She gives Alexa a long look, waiting for some kind of response. Rest assured with the varied life Tej leads, even at Xanadu, she can find them plenty of fun things to do. At least, fun according to Tej. Probably no one will die, though, so that should be fine. No need for orphans (or quasi-orphans) to go making more orphans right after Alexa's given birth. "I'm not sorry I came, but I can't stay." First and foremost because she's posted to Xanadu, for real. And for those other reasons. "I don't think I figured out how to make Yaromil have fun, though, so I think I'm going to have to follow him until I do." She's determined when it comes to making peoples' lives miserable. At least she can have a little humorous wistfulness in her voice for that and cast a sideways glance toward Alexa. If anyone deserves the plague that is Tej… it's grumpy Puss.

Poor Yaromil probably thought he was rid of Tejra. Woe be to him when he finds out Alexa will be a willing accomplice in harassing him For Life. Cause she's got the means and the motivation to assist in this endeavor. But maybe not tonight. "He is seriously serious," she agrees, as if that were some great crime for which he should be punished. But that's as much humor as she has for the occasion. "I saw." Cause yeah, everyone kind of saw. "Sometimes they do that." She doesn't have an explanation or a reason, and so she won't offer one. But she can empathize with how it might have made things harder. Might make them hurt more. "But I mean… you didn't really want my job, right?" OK, so maybe she has a little more humor, even if it's another semi-lame and poorly thought out attempt at a joke. "They're dragons and… they always say that there's just one person for each of them. I'm not sure if I believe that," she admits. "But I don't have any other choice. I asked Raaneth once why she picked me. What she would have done if I hadn't been there." The face she makes ought to make it clear that the question was not very satisfactorily answered. "Don't ask dragons complex questions about their motivation." Pro tip. "You never get a good answer." As for flying? There's a hint of a smile, something that lacks humor but maybe holds understanding. "And yeah. She'd love to stretch her wings. And I've definitely got things to scream about." And maybe she'll tell Tejra about them someday, cause they're definitely gonna be friends now.

The gesture that Tejra makes requires her to step away from the wall, her arms spreading in an 'I kno, rite?' way. Finally, someone is seeing her very serious concerns about Yaromil. "Remind me to tell you why I call him Puss." She baits that friendship trap with a slight wiggle of her brows that implies a juicy secret for the bold. In the meantime, there's the matter of the hatching and the job and she has a ready shudder (NO OFFENSE), "That I do not. I always thought a zippy little green to dance with me. Or a blue. Something limber." Tej can be honest about her personal hopes and dreams perhaps more easily now that they're not on the table sands anymore, or maybe just because, yes, they're definitely going to be friends now. "I suppose dragons don't away think the way we do, nor have all the answers we might wish." Not that human beings often do. Look at them: neither of them has an answer beyond 'it sucks' for being left standing, not really. But at least they can go and scream the unfairness of the world away, together. "C'mon, Aly. Let's go." She'll even go so far as extending a hand to the goldrider before taking off at a pace that's going to challenge that belly (if not too much) to head for the bowl, the open air, and the open sky where they can purge all those troubles to the uncaring night.


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