Everybody Knows

Xanadu Weyr - Main Clearing
A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places with upturned petals to wave to whoever may be looking.
The cliff looms imposingly on two sides. Toward the southwest, a spire stretches up to high above where the everpresent watchdragon sits on a lonely peak with Xanadu's Starstones. A massive rocky spur extends to the north, curved slightly to hold the clearing and pocked with doors and windows.
The hatching arena and Dragonhealers' Annex sit to the southeast, built together into a single complex that takes up a large portion of the perimeter beneath its domed roof. To the southwest, wide steps lead up to the caverns, and almost directly south is the entrance to the Infirmary. Nestled between the infirmary and the main caverns there's a human-sized archway with frequent traffic - it leads to the Wanderin' Wherry Tavern.
Tucked near the arch, just off to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Wildflower Boutique'. Windows have been cut along the cliff in various places along the cliff. Those of the administrative offices are placed to have the best view of Xanadu's airspace - to the southwest, over the entrance to the caverns and the infirmary. Others mark the dormitories and those of lucky residents, while toward the northern edge of that spur cluster the windows and entrances to the crafters' complex.
The rest of the Weyr lies to the north and east - a broad road that leads through the meadow and the trees of the forest beyond. At the far northern edge of the clearing, just inside the perimeter kept clear of trees, a clocktower sits and proudly displays the hour.

One might well wonder if Casper knows any other way to exist, any other manner of behavior beyond ‘perpetually confused about the happenstances of one’s life.’ Here he is again, somehow more haggard, impossibly slouched, on beyond contrapposto to something more fitting a scarecrow’s limp posture as he observes the everpresent chaos that comprises Xanadu Weyr. There’s a certain sense of self-deprecation in the squint of dark eyes, hesitance in the slow scrub of fingers through too much scruff, reluctant determination in the scuff of one booted toe into the dirt, a back and forth slide that, all in good time, becomes one step, followed by another, and another, a slow, measured amble that carries this heap of well-worn clothing and wayward dreams made flesh into the weyr proper. One gloved hand catches the sleeve of a passerby, energy drawn from somewhere near his toes in the effort to speak low, rusted words. “The queen’s person. Where can I find her?” It’s unclear whether an answer was delivered or whether he was simply shrugged off as a random vagabond, for either way, Casper’s hopelessly poor posture refuses to right itself, shoulders lifting as a shrug even as he moves away, perhaps in pursuit of Risali, or perhaps to assault another good weyrperson in his attempts to track the woman down.

« HERE. » See? Casper does get his answer. It comes in the form of one monolithic, supersonic BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But just in case he missed it, there's a golden snoot quite suddenly in his boot to DRIVE THE POINT HOME (you can take that however you want; BOTH ARE CORRECT). But it's not exactly an accurate answer is it, because where is Ris — "YOU — " Uh oh. " — SONUVA — " Better run and hide, Casper. " — BITCH." There's as much emotion in two (four?) words as there are in Risali's expression, in the way that not-nearly-long-enough legs carry the Weyrwoman from Point A to Point B with the same single-minded devotion a wildcat has when fixated on wounded prey (punctuated by the parting of several surprised-but-not-really-surprised weyr-dwellers in her warpath). "Where the HELL WERE YOU?" But she doesn't wait for an answer; she's there to occupy his space as Leirith retreats, as that bombastic, raucous laughter eddies between deafening loud and a dull roar until it's no more, until all there is is Risali, there, just there, in Casper's immediate vicinity with one arm drawn back, one hand curled into a fist, one foot planted behind the other so that when she takes a swing, he can feel the emotion in that hit too (assuming he doesn't stop her) WHEN IT CONNECTS WITH HIS PRECIOUS FACE. And then those same vicious, angry hands are in the lapels of his jacket, twisting into fabric and pulling Casper forward, forward, forward in contrast of previous backward momentum, going up on the tips of booted toes to mesh her mouth against his in a desperate, jarring kiss that's riddled with too many emotions to pick any one. It's an exhale, a relief, a renewal of fury as she shoves him away just as suddenly as she pulled him back in, as she stands there furious, furious enough to put her hands back against Casper's chest to shove with as much force as she can manage. "I was worried about you." It's an accusation that comes with the trembling of lips, with the cracking of voice, with even more emotion in the suspicious wet of eyes — "You're an IDIOT." — ruined when Risali takes a deep breath and moves forward as if she means to shove him again. IT ALL HAPPENS SO FAST. RIP, SWEET CASPER. RISA'S PROBABLY GON' FEEL REAL BAD IN A SEC BUT EYYYYY. IGNORANCE IS THE BEST KIND OF BLISS.

Ah. Well. If ever one wondered what a Casperdeer looked like in Leirithheadlights, look no further than this moment, one defined by deafening sound and invasive bootsnootery that serves to rock the placid man forwards on his toes in shock. “Badass,” the scarecrow greets as means of recovery, hand lifting to splay fingers over his chest as though to calm the beating of his heart. “Was just looking for— you,” he notes with a faint hint of something that’s not quite surprise as dark eyes land on Risa’s person, word mirroring hers in a brief instant of two minds hitting a singular wavelength before shattering across very, very different lines. ‘SONUVA’ says she, and “Ah,” says he, and alas but that strike across his face is taken in an ugly fashion, not quite egotistical enough to respond in ways that would imply he thinks anything other than he deserves it. His head snaps sideways in a correspondingly violent manner, stance stretching, shoulders dipping, hardly recovering balance before being hauled forward by his lapels. His sense of his place in the world crashes back into place just long enough to lean into the press of her mouth against his, something that isn’t quite desperation, nor sadness, nor apology, nor need, but instead a shaken mixture of all at once bidding his own hands rise, thumbs barely managing to brush the lines of her jaw before he’s forced to stumble backwards, nearly tripping before heels can find purchase, before he can catch his breath in a weary sigh, before he can thumb the corner of his lip to check for blood that feels as though it should be there. “Yeah,” gets muttered low, fingers brushed carelessly against the fabric of his jacket, an anxious gesture, perhaps, considering the lack of red stain, “you and the universe agree, there.” He doesn’t meet her gaze, doesn’t gesture to horrible, ripped scarring visible over the hem of his shirt that perhaps explains the strained lilt to his tones that doesn’t seem to be warming along with use of his vocals, doesn’t even pretend like he’s going to move out of her way when she seems as though she’s going to come at him again. He’s just going to take it, weather the storm with a skybroom’s peculiar, twisted ability, though if she lets him get it out, he will offer a guileless, honest, “I’m sorry,” that he seems to mean, despite how quietly it gets spoken.

"You're sorry," Risali says, with a flatness of tone that bespeaks disbelief. "You're sorry?! I —" A heartbeat, a breath, a minute flicker of grey eyes toward before-unseen scars, scars that, now seen, leave Risali's mouth open mid-twist of ugly, rending words, forces her to swallow them back when a strangled, pitiful whimper comes in lieu of scathing accusation, when her fingers close the gap between them of their own volition, to press featherlight against scarring. "What —" comes breathlessly, a mere whisper, a sudden dissipation of temper as Risali's second hand joins the first and brows knit together, as if the what is not so obvious, as if she is attempting to puzzle together some great, indecipherable mystery when her eyes jump back up to Casper's for one, two, three beats and fall. Then her hands are twisting in the neckline of his shirt to pull down, shifting quicker to the bottom hem and SHOVING HIS SHIRT UP (BECAUSE SHAME, WHAT SHAME?) so that eyes can devour the marking of skin beneath layers, so that she can drop clothing from her hands and jerk backward as if she's been scalded before she can cave to the need for another gentle touch. It's one moment, one forever moment that leaves Risali looking, for once, as if she's the one confused, the one without a sense of direction, the one in a busy crowd with a puppy in need of a home and an inability to hail passerbys. "You don't get to die," Risali whispers half-furious, her eyes still SUSPICIOUSLY WET (but she's not crying, FUCK YOU). "You don't get to —" a gesture with her hands, hands closing into fists, bent at the elbows, coming up and shaking in frustration. And then the anger wanes again, subsides when Risali swipes at her eyes and locks gazes with Casper, as she swallows, and her lips tremble, and her fists clench and unclench in tandem with the way she rocks on her heels — as if desiring forward momentum, as if needing to move but finding herself incapable of action. Then, softly: "What happened?" Because sometimes, very rarely, even a wildcat can exhibit restraint.

Shoulders lift, brows twitch, a silent confirmation and expression of understanding both. He knows. He knows it’s not enough, but it’s all he has, because the truth is as ugly as it is insufficient, a lacking excuse he doesn’t want to have to make, but nor does he shy away from allowing her to discover for herself. Dark blue eyes lift to fix her with the weight of his gaze, solemnity cloaking his form in stillness, allowing her fingers to press to the skin of his throat with little more than a slow swallow and a ticking of lids for her question that doesn’t yet reach formation. He doesn’t have a response for what, not yet, gaze steady on hers as she explores the bright, twisted wreck that arcs over the arch of one shoulder and snarls across the base of his throat, meeting the long look she gives him with a glitter of some inscrutable something coming and going in an instant. There comes a sucked breath when fingers shift to the lower hem of his shirt, form tensing in something that might be protest or surprise, a small frown notching the center of his brows as lips part, pause, press together again to render a low, muted noise that would perhaps be amused if only he didn’t look so damn serious. “Guess it’s a good thing I didn’t, then,” he says, grate taking the edge off what just might be sass as he adds, “Can’t imagine the reception I’d receive then.” Karate chops? Roundhouse kicks? That singular twitch of his brows intimates that the sky is the limit in his imagination, the mood coming as fast as it goes in the face of that sheen of glitter and definitely not tears limning her eyes, the face of frustration and evident indecision that bids him change tack, bids him to risk further assaults on his person to halve distance in a slow step. His hands raise to her face with a softer susurration of sound, aiming not to cage or keep something so clearly wild, but perhaps, for a moment, share something quiet, something simplistically complex, something that cannot be defined merely by applying words to its existence and hoping they make sufficient meaning. He leans his forehead against hers, thumbs brushing cheekbones as much to soothe as to push away any lingering tears, and it's not a kiss but somehow encapsulates the same intimacy, shared breaths and crushed silence lingering in the minimal distance between them. A beat, two, and then his hands release, trailing down the outsides of her arms, fingertips sliding against curled fists, encouraging them to part so fingers might tangle together instead if she’ll allow it. It's something he seeks because he needs it, just like he needs the measured breaths he takes, the time to marshal thoughts into words. “I don’t know,” he says at length, twisting hands, if captured, to press against his person so he can pull his away. “Not really. Hard winter? Disease?” Because of course he’s excusing the beast that did this before describing what happened to himself. Of course he is. “Was moving from camp to the cliffside I use for observation and—” He pauses with a frown she can possibly feel before he pulls away, drawing back to meet her gaze for dark gaze. “Well.” It doesn’t take a terribly brilliant imagination to connect a few dots, a habit he’s perhaps picked up in the time between the attack and this moment, a sparing of gorey details few want and even fewer ask for. So for now, he’ll leave it at that. Mostly because this pose is too damn long already. Shut up. You love me.

And where sass and humorous implications might have usually depleted an amalgamation of unwanted emotions (at least… long enough to warrant a hushed, devious smile), this — this — is the exception. Risali's expression doesn't change and she doesn't answer; the expectation lingers, the hurt, and the worry, and the unprecedented fury limn her brow and surely cause that hitch in her breath as much as he does. But Risali does still when Casper closes that distance, when proximity equates to the kind of shared intimacy that means he can hear the staggered labor of her lungs and she can't actually see him when her eyes jump between his in those two, three, four heartbeats before they finally close. Risali's response isn't immediate, but it comes: a shift of bodyweight that bespeaks loosed tension, a press of her forehead to his, a bump of noses that means she's attempting the impossible of somehow lessening even that distance. Goosebumps follow the path his hands take to hers, and Risali's fingers flex, unforming fists, uncurling and loosening just enough to let Casper's in before they curl once more, this time ensaring his fingers between hers. Then she listens, presses her hands against his hips, against his lower stomach when his hands place hers there and twist away. Risa curls digits into fabric and squeezes before twisting her hands up and underneath the hem of Casp's shirt to press against flesh. Because she needs this. She needs his skin against hers to reassure herself that he's here, that he's hot to the touch and not somewhere on an observation cliff, cold and unmoving, gaze fixed to a point of nothingness in the distance, fodder for those wildcats he so loves. "But you're alive." She presses forward when he withdraws, enough to stumble despite the stability of her hands on his person, chasing after that intimacy in the seconds before grey eyes blink open to find his. "That's the important part." It's obvious that reassurance's intended audience is the goldrider and not the beastcrafter. "… And you didn't have to answer that." Because he didn't. But he did. So Risali stares for a moment too long, drops her eyes to her hands and then jerks away as if just realizing where they were. GIVE HER A MOMENT, and then she's taking a halting step forward, another, and then shifting her shoulder under his and hooking her arm around his hips, finger hooking in belt loops, leaning into him as she tilts her head back and jerks her head THAT-A-WAYS. There's a hint of a smile, forced, and then, "Come on, idiot. I have somebody who actually missed you." BECAUSE SHE DIDN'T, GEEZ. And because of course she does, because of course Risali dodges having to truly confront emotion by keeping herself in perpetual motion. And it's not a lie. Velvet will, assuredly, be more than thrilled to greet her human(s) — and get in all those kisses they failed at taking for themselves.

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