Pretending to be Strong

Xanadu Weyr - Infirmary
The infirmary here is intended for human care. It is regularly scrubbed spotless and smells of disinfectant, redwort and other herbs that are - if sometimes strong - preferable to the scents of sickness. Cots are lined up against one wall, with a set of curtains that can be pulled to give some privacy to the occupants of the cots if they so desire. They're mostly used for examinations of patients and the treatment of mild injuries that won't require long term care; near the back are some more private areas with folding dividers.
There's a number of cabinets that stand off against another wall, instruments and medications stored against when they will be needed, and a back room holds those supplies seldom required.
A desk with chair is set just off of the doorway to the caverns, meant for the healer to sit and catch up on record keeping after a long day's work or await patients. If things get too busy, the patients can do the waiting on a set of uncomfortable chairs set nearby. The other doorway comes directly from the clearing, wide enough for a team to carry a stretcher through.

It's been the passing of a week since that dark night filled with terrors, since a moonlit eve rife with haunted forms that proved themselves much too corporeal in the end. The evidence is here, ensconced in an endless sea of plaster, bruises, and bandages, some limbs carefully lofted while others rest against crisp white sheets. His face is partially obscured by bandages that curve over one eye and cheek, setting hair askew with its winding about the back of his head, but despite dark, ugly bruises and spattered lacerations, it seems the worst of his trauma had been dealt to the rest of his form, skin in the minority where visible, a cast encompassing his entire left leg lifted into the air, corresponding arm faring little better, forced into a sharp right angle at the elbow by the bend of wrapped plaster. All are, ultimately, still and unmoving where they rest. Indeed, excepting the occasional restless shift that speaks to life in the midst of a near-death experience, motion only comes from the slow and steady rise of R'hyn's chest, appearing for all the world asleep.

The tiny space is interrupted by a voice, gentle despite the command of, "You need to eat." Her answer is a growl, an ominous precursor to a gruff, agitated probably-being-reiterated-for-the-fourth-time-how-many-more-times-does-he-need-to-say-it, "No." A heartbeat of silence, a moment when grey eyes lock with grey and neither Ila'den nor Risali back down from the challenge each finds. Then, softer, "You can't help him if you don't have any strength." Nothing. "He's going to be furious with you when he wakes up." Another pause and, still, nothing; nothing more than eyes that do not concede, do not bend, do not agree to what, in Ila'den's mind, equates to abandonment. Risali can see it. She doesn't need to hear the words to know the thoughts. "Fine," comes too soft, as if there's something painful about what she must do — must say — next. "Then I am revoking your rights to be in this infirmary." And that's when it happens. Ila'den is up before Risali has enough time to blink, the plate in her hand smacked out of it from the bottom, making a sound so offensively loud in the quiet of an infirmary as it splinters against the floor and spatters food matter everywhere. Ila'den crowds his daughter's space and Risali, built of stronger things, in possession of an indomitable will, unwilling to be intimidated even by this man, surrenders not an inch to her father. Instead she squares her shoulders, tilts her chin, finds angry hues with her own and holds them. "Get out," comes hushed, gravel and grit and harsh, husky tones. "This is my weyr," Risali spits back, leaning forward just enough to press a finger into Ila'den's sternum, still managing to keep her voice hushed. "And I am not my mother. You lost the right to give me orders a long time ago." A ripple of agitation, another growl. "You are not Iris," the bronzerider concedes, but there's an insult underlying the implication that Risali is an entirely separate entity from her mother, "but it doesn't matter where life takes you or whose arms you find yourself in. Weyrwoman or not, wife or not, weyrmate or not, you can't change the fact that I am your father." One, two, three, four moments. It takes four deep breaths before Risali can answer him. "Funny how you want to be my father now. Are you going to throw that in Ciardyn and Yzaelia's face when it's convenient after you abandon them too?" THUD. But it's all ruined by the sounds of curtains drawn back, by the appearance of one very pregnant, very haggard looking healer who, despite her normal state of stumbling words and failing fantastically at people, manages (very unconvincing) irritation for once. "This is my infirmary, and you can both get out if you can't keep it down." It's still hushed, it's still soft, there's an edge to words, but it's more a firmness borne out of a healer's necessity to protect her patient rather than a true manifestation of agitation. Then, as if Fioreyla realizes that she's JUST TOLD THE WEYRWOMAN and one VERY SCARY, VERY MUCH NOW FOCUSED ON HER MAN TO GET OUT OF AN INFIRMARY SHE DOES NOT, IN FACT, OWN, she adds, "I-if it please you. I…" squeak. "Pleasebeconsiderateofthep-patients." AND THERE SHE GOES, leaving Risali to stare down Ila'den again and Ila'den to stare down his daughter. An unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Until… Until… "And if that was D'lei? If that was Kyzen?" comes softly, brogue thick with emotion, thick enough to ruin the application of words as Risali stiffens and then looks away. "You have to eat," she whispers then, her only response. And: "I will, but not now." AND IF ONE CAN SEE, Risali's head whips back towards Ila as if she means to argue but… but grey eyes flicker toward R'hyn, and that suspicious, sudden wet in her eyes DEFINITELY CAUSED BY SOME ROGUE ONE DUST, is blinked away once, twice, before Risali relents. "Fine. But I'm coming back in an hour, and you will eat." She abandons Ila'den to his watch, leaves a broken man to stare at the curtain long after she's stepped beyond it, to take in bits of broken plate and bits of food before he sits again, reclaiming his seat at R'hyn's side, leaning forward just enough to put his face into his hand while the other extends to settle against R'hyn's chest. It's hard to tell if that's simply the only spot he feels confident enough to touch, or out of the necessity to constantly remind himself that R'hyn is still breathing.

It's bad luck, perhaps, that this action, said scene, plays out as it does, Ila'den on his feet, staring down the barrel of his daughter's harsh truths, shotgun echo interrupted by the appearance of Fioreyla into its midst - it has robbed Ila'den of his place, of the hand against R'hyn's chest that would have caught on to the change of breathing patterns, of the shift to a more rapid rise and fall as awareness surges to the forefront of a mind far, far too used to cradling itself in darkness. It means R'hyn hears more than he should, strains against the knife-like grip, the bone-deep ache, the ancient weariness that threatens to swallow him back into the empty black in order to focus, to try to put heard words in order, to string, erase, and string them again in an attempt to make them make sense. His body tenses with the effort, and that hurts in ways he had not previously conceived of hurting, forcing him into total, regulated stillness, eyes pressed shut hard, harder, hardest yet as he waits out the harsh red throb of pain that paints the space behind his lids red with its unforgiving fury. He almost forgets, almost lets the monotony of it drag him back into blissful obeisance, lulled by the sudden quiet in the space around him and the soft throb of fellis in his veins, but there's a scrape (chair), a shift of fabric (human), and then a weight settled upon his chest (hand), and the recognition, the simple, utter sense of it all forces eyes — no, eye, singular — open enough to see. It peers down towards the space where Ila'den's palm presses against him, lingering there as though gathering energy for the much longer journey along sleevature to reach the rider's bent form. Wrong. That image was wrong. All of this was wrong, alarm bells blaring even if he can't quite focus on why. Right. Right. Make it right. Fix. How. Help. Warmth blossoms in the back of his mind, then, golden heat chasing back the soporific drag of medication against his senses, breathing picking up again, once, twice, inhaling as deep as bandages and the ruined ribs beneath will allow before he speaks in soft, wrecked, cobweb-ridden tones: "Dangerous game, bronzerider." It takes more effort than he'll admit, even with Xermiltoth's influence, eye sliding shut to remarshall his strength, slight frown forming between his brows before he can force it to reopen to peer at Ila'den once more. There's perhaps more to be said, more he wants to say, but the simple idea of it exhausts him to the point where he can't, doesn't, not yet. Ila'den will have to make what he will of mingled pain, confusion, and sadness for something he can't quite understand expressed in a weary gaze that can't… quite… stay focused.

Ila'den's entire body goes stiff, as if he doesn't quite believe that he's hearing words — those words — in the silent hum of a busy infirmary. It's as if Ila'den can't quite bring himself to look up, to see if it's true, to see if R'hyn is awake. It's as if he's heard that voice too many times before this moment and knows, in that implicit way that people always do, that he won't survive the barbwire knife of another disappointment. But this is Ila'den, a man who has faced death, and been death, and fought like hell to overcome it. This is a man who loves a cat-collecting, heart-stealing, once-bartender, once-enemy enough to risk another piece of his soul in looking anyway if it means that once, just once, R'hyn will be awake and it will be his own imagination that is asleep. So his movements are slow, a shift of shoulders as fingers lose some of their tension and then gather it back in anticipation, the hush of fabric as his arm drops away from his face, the slow upward tilt of a chin and an eye that unravels a path up across chest, across sternum, against neck, and chin, and lips, and nose before it finally settles on grey-blues with a deadness that sets an expectation: that he will find it closed. And he does. Shoulders dip, his head is already dropping back to his hand, but not fast enough. Because there. Heryn opens his eye again and Ila'den is visibly staggered, ensnared. There's a telling redness lining grey eyes that speaks to days without sleep, the growth of facial hair and rumpled clothes and somehow-even-more-unruly hair that paints a damning picture even without the uncharacteristic puffiness around his eyes to clue in things we won't speak about. Caught. There is genuine surprise on Ila'den's face, a stillness in his gaze that his entire body echoes in that small moment of infinity cut out just for them. For him. It's that exhiliratingly terrifying moment of realizing there's hope again, that maybe, just maybe, everything will be okay. But Ila'den doesn't say a word, not yet. It's as if a week without R'hyn was just long enough to forget the common tongue, just long enough to render his ability to comprehend language moot. "And you," he finally breathes, a rasp that hitches when his entire body trembles then ripples with movement, hand abandoning chest for the side of R'hyn's face, to sweep his thumb just under the bronzerider's good eye, "you look like shit." Ha. But Ila'den is out of his seat, pressing lips to Heryn's mouth in a kiss that's alarmingly gentle, a mere whisper of touch, a reaffirmation of affection, a heat sans electricity because this kiss isn't meant to seduce or entice or provoke. It's reassurance. It's a need. It's a hello as much as it is the tentative beginnings of preparing to say goodbye. "You fell," he whispers. "You should be still. I'll go get the healers." Because the reality is that R'hyn, in all honesty, still shouldn't be awake. Ila'den knows this. … But he lingers.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, it's all wrong. That small frown cinches the center of R'hyn's brow again, head turning just so that the simple strain of keeping his gaze on Ila'den's form is no longer quite so taxing. Task accomplished, the fallen bronzerider takes in details that suggest haggard exhaustion, threadbare emotions, unguarded surprise, the sum of which he does not understand. He knows only that he does. not. like it. "Again," is whispered, audibility unintentional, the message meant not for Ila but for his dragon, whose sunwashed thoughts flood his mind once more, sinks into every fold of a concussion-abused brain, usual vivacity dampened to a soft, purring glow that might well spill over into Ila'den's thoughts in an act of typical Xermiltothian indescrimitation. R'hyn does not notice, does not correct ill behavior, instead spitting forth a single breathy laugh that he regrets but would never take back in response to ritualistic words, a whispy, "Ha-ha. Incorrigible," forcing its way from betwixt lips, lips that are summarily claimed in the gentlest of ways. It hurts to move, to breathe, to exist right now, but that does not stop R'hyn from trying — trying to reassure Ila'den that he's here, he's here, he's here in what little return pressure he can manage before ugliness swarms his vision, black-red-purple lines and spots leaving him unbearably dizzy, breathlessly disjointed, balancing on the brink even as frustration sets in. There should be more. More reassurance. More feelings. More white-hot slivers of awareness of just how glad R'hyn is to see him expressed in that singular gesture but he just… he just can't quite manage it yet. Instead he grits out a a low, "Hnn-nnh," from between gritted teeth. It's undeniably a denial, fingers of his loose hand catching upon folds of fabric on their way towards Ila's nearest hand, making ill progress indeed, but trying nevertheless in the hopes of making him stay. As for 'you fell?' "I don't remember. …Shouldn't I remember?" He feels like he ought to, like there should be something bridging the gap between the enormity of his pained exhaustion. Anything other than the look on Ila's face, one he notes again even now with a soft, "You're sad," and, "She's right," an observation one might excuse as delirium given the way eyes roll back up into his head, head lolling back onto his pillows, his round's energy spent. He is not asleep, eye still flickering beneath its visible lid, thumb absently brushing fabric, knuckles, whatever they might in repetitive, mindless gestures.

It's not like Ila'den is going to complain. Beyond the fact that Xermiltoth's bleeding light has been a constant for well over a decade, it is a reassurance. It may not be the same kind of reassurance found in the violent mindembrace of his lifemate, the very one who sits in deepend silence at the back of his mind, but it is reassurance. It means that R'hyn is still here, but Ila'den still asks, "Again?" huskily, never expecting an answer, perhaps not truly wanting one. But timeless rituals, while earning laughter from R'hyn, manage to draw only a pained kind of expression from Ila'den. Maybe that's why he stole more reassurance, maybe that's why he's still beside his weyrmate instead of flagging down a healer, bringing his own hand to R'hyn's when the alternative proves too difficult a task. "No," comes hoarse as the pad of his thumb brushes over unbandaged skin. "For now, not remembering is good." Not because it is medically sound, not because it means that his head suffered no damage during the fall, not because Ila'den is trying to reassure R'hyn that he's unbroken despite the vast amalgamation of proof to the contrary his body endures, but because Ila'den believes R'hyn has enough faces, enough moments, enough darkness to fill his nights. Perhaps the frustration of blank memories is a kindness when the alternative is white-knuckled terror, to relive the phantom weightlessness of freefall, that split moment of stark realization when the wind resists gravity and tries to defy your descent but your body does not, that final breath of resignation when your brain somehow manages to say goodbye. Somewhere, a mindhealer is probably in the throes of a right proper fit. That mindhealer can go stuff themselves. "And she is right," is quieter, more pain in the admittance, a flicker of emotion that manifests only in the break before Ila'den speaks again, before a soft rumble of laughter rises from his chest. "But she is not Cita." IE: HE AIN'T SCARED OF NO RISA. Note that he doesn't touch on accusations of sadness. Instead, he watches R'hyn's head roll back, and gives his hand a gentle squeeze. "I'll go get the healer." So why is it that he still hasn't let go?

"Mm," R'hyn hums in reponse to that initial question, but fingers curling about Ila'den's and dragging it higher in slow increments is as much as can be managed. He presses it to the center of his chest, cradling it against his unbruised sternum, a childish gesture belied by the strength of his grip. « He says it helps him think, » Xermiltoth translates whether Ila'den wants the explanation or not, gold-licked rays of his mind beating down hotter, brighter, as though the effort to speak quietly has spilled over into other aspects of his thoughts nevertheless. It retreats quickly, at least, leaving R'hyn to shift and mutter a soft, "Now'm thirsty, y'dumb bastard," or something garbled to that effect. There's a sheepish diamond-scatter of apology, but both dragon and rider seem to withdraw together, Xermi's mind dimming to a simple warm glimmer on a sunlit lake, Ryn's hand finally loosening the ferocity of its grip as he seems to finally surrender to the drag of darkness against his mind. Seems, said because fingers tense when Ila'den's words go painfully quiet, because he musters the effort it takes to prise eyes open once more, worry and confusion in his gaze because his brain is telling him he's said something wrong and he isn't sure what, and so he says, "No. Nevermind," and, with effort and energy that corresponds with the bronzerider's rumbling laughter, adds, "Starve then." SASS. It's weak, but lips do manage to twitch, though whether it is for his own jest, Ila's fear of Cita, or lack of fear of Risali because she is not Cita is unclear. It lingers through the squeeze of his hand, fades only for mention of healers, some part of him understanding that is a good idea even though he does not want Ila to go either. "Okay," he says because he can't decide which is correct, at the same time tucking his weyrmate's hand in tighter against his chest. GOOD LUCK, ILA. ENJOY THE MORAL QUANDARY OF DOING WHAT'S RIGHT VERSUS BREAKING THIS ANGEL'S HOLD ON YOUR HAND. MOOAHAHAHHAA.

Summoned by Faranth only knows what instinct - or possibly a snitching snitch dragon - guess who? It's Cita! She doesn't have heels to clack on the floor angrily, she doesn't even stomp out of respect for the patients held within the Infirmary walls, but it's clear: Citayla's on a mission. The mission might be having finally snapped after a week of no sleep, or it might be another obsessive check on R'hyn and Ila'den when the proper Healers not Directly Involved In The Patient's Life aren't looking. Or maybe it's to cram food into Ila'den's face until he sharding eats it, given the slightly manic light in her raccoon-ringed eyes. Said light? Absolutely flickers, unsteady, the second she lays eyes on the pair of them - she doesn't Get It right away, doesn't notice Ryn's state of semi-consciousness. Ila's expression, whatever it is, takes the fight right out of the goldrider. Some of it. Some of the fight. "Ila." She sighs as she approaches, not for the first time in the sevenday and probably not the last, to drag the bronzerider for some shower-food-babies time. Tellingly, Ilyscaeth is quiet - the yawning, vast void of space empty, empty, empty except for the distant crackle of a live wire, or potential energy. At least she's not letting out the Bad Feelings, not yet, and neither is Cita. Don't worry, Ila: it looks like our Cita's not far from a good spleen-letting, either, for all that she's gentle as she crowds their space, brisk, efficient. Until she isn't. It's taken some time for the healer's lack-of-sleep-addled brain to catch up, but it's pretty plain: Ryn's more-or-less awake, and that changes the script. Even Cita's not enough of a hardass to drag Ila'den away from that, she's not even enough of one to immediately grab her stethoscope. She doesn't burst into noisy tears, either, for all that it looks - very briefly, on a flicker of some emotion she doesn't bother to obscure on her face - like she might. Instead, the goldrider grabs a second chair and falls down, hard, next to Ila. Some helpful healer she is. Give her a second. She'll reboot.

"Ah," Ila'den answers aloud, because he has no recourse in which to respond to Xermiltoth through Teimyrth's refusal to communicate except for having R'hyn hear. It's R'hyn's response to Xermi that has Ila'den drawling, "You're always thirsty, husband," with dry sarcasm. AND HE DOESN'T MEAN FOR A GLASS OF WATER (which he surreptitiously looks around for and, finding none (and seeing how R'hyn starts to pass right back out anyway), gives up on locating EVER). "Given that they're already trying to throw me out, I'm afraid you're going to have to remain that way." A beat. "On second thought, seeing Fioreyla's face might just be worth Cita's vengeance." BEHOLD: HUMOR. It falls flat of its usual mark, but at least he's trying. Calloused fingers on his free hand rise, brushing over R'hyn's brow as if he might smooth away the finer nuances of confusion, as if another husky rumble of laughter might be just enough proof that he's okay (he's not okay), just enough to keep R'hyn from being R'hyn long enough to let him rest instead of worry about everybody except for himself as he is wont to do. "Sorry to disappoint you, but I — " Am being interrupted by the arrival of Citayla, by the familiarity of his name in what is probably also the universe's well timed NOPENOPENOPE at having to hear whatever it is that Ila'den was about to say next. Instead the bronzerider watches his raccoon-eyed weyrmate with a flicker of his own emotion, something that gives way in grey eyes, that's either joy, or relief, or implicit trust that makes the suffocating tightness in his chest a little less. At least he doesn't have to let go — not yet. Instead he waits, quiet as he watches Cita fall into her seat, quiet as he looks away from her to give her a moment of privacy to gather herself while he leans forward just enough to kiss the knuckles of R'hyn's captured hand. And then he is pulling away, letting go of R'hyn just long enough to move behind Cita, to push her chair forward (FIGHT HIM, FIGHT ME) as he plants a kiss on the top of her head and smooths down any hair that might catch at unshaven beard. Then he's back in his own seat, catching Cita's hand in his own, placing R'hyn's hand between both of theirs. "He told me to die, you know," comes on a husky rumble of sound holding too damn much emotion (try as Ila'den might to shake himself free of its physical manifestations). "You and Risali can stop trying to make me eat because R'hyn gave me his permission to starve." SO THERE.

"Hn-hn-hn." That is the sound of R'hyn trying to laugh despite himself, each dull huff of air from his lungs accompanied by pain that clips it short, but he just can't help it. "Ass," he croaks on a gasp, ripples of discomfort radiating through him, bidding limbs shift of their own accord before — NOPE, WORSE — being forced into stillness, eyes pressing shut tight as he breathes through the repercussions of his own terrible choices. Lips — freshly broken open — quirk up at both corners before going lax again, embracing necessary stillness, painting Cita quite the picture indeed when she happens upon them. Eyes are back open, vision straining to stay focused on Ila's face, frown not only persisting but growing deeper because disoriented he may be, but a decade in the presence of this impossible man has taught him enough about coping to mistrust some timbres of laughter. Ila is just as lucky as Heryn that Cita's arrival interrupts what might have become protests, fight drawn up against his better judgment, mulish purse of lips shifting to miserable attempt at a smile when the goldrider pushes through their screen. "Cita," is weak, breathy, but contains no less pleasure for seeing her, attention stolen only by Ila'den's lean to kiss his knuckles. Wait. No. Wait. Protest fills Heryn's gaze when the bronzerider's hand is withdrawn, grip tightening, a soft, instinctual noise ripped from his throat as, misunderstanding, he tries to chase after the press of his weyrmate's fingers against his. "Don't go," comes as strong as Ryn can make it, tones still wobbly, as vulnerable as the wincing tilt of his one visible eye, as mild panic speeds the rise and fall of his chest against their confines. "Don't let him go." This for Cita, for the kiss pressed to her head, for the panic run rampant against his will that doesn't settle even when Ila'den clearly intends to occupy his seat again, to grip his hand between both of theirs. "I don't— I don't" Want Ila to die? To actually starve? To cave to the fall that is clearly coming for him again, this time in a totally different way, blackness eating at his vision, red writhing against the backs of his eyes as he twists and arches away from agony the source of which he cannot identify. "feel so good." Each word becomes its own sentence, clipped, broken, and followed by a wild, strangled noise that one hopes he'll never have to make again.

Cita might as well be a font of some of Ilyscaeth's crackling energy — is it really healthy for that much energy to be contained in skin? How is she even doing it, anyways? Maybe she's born with it, or something. Faranth knows, but here she is, managing, just barely, to collect herself in that beat, unfettered fondness in a quick glance up at Ila. Or she would, if her name wasn't there, if Ryn wasn't awake and talking, looking like that, and — no. No, she's cool, it's cool, she's definitely under control and not also a little flighty. Sure, the healer fair climbs out of her skin when Ila stands, wide-eyed as much as Ryn's panic rises, but she stays seated, all soft hushing noises and a tiny, strained smile for her Weyrmates. "Hush, Ryn, he's not going anywhere, he's not. Not right now." She murmurs, settling a look on Ila when he sits back down and gathers hands that suggests that she's serious, here. She'll figure it out. What good is Ilyscaeth, if she can't flagrantly break rules and boss people around when she really shouldn't? "Ryn, honest, it's okay, he's. Not." The goldrider's hand is considerably less steady than her voice as Ryn goes down. Cita bolts upright, latches onto Ila's wrist in a vice grip for…comfort, for whom? Stability? The other hand immediately grabs the injured rider's hand, turns it over gently so she can press two fingers to the inner curve of his wrist. A beat, two, and some of the tension winding Cita up bow-tight bleeds away on a shaky breath, but she's standing still, darting worried eyes between Ila and Ryn. "I've." The goldrider starts, pained; her grip hasn't loosened, she doesn't even seem to be aware of the fact that she's possibly cutting off poor Ila's circulation. "Got to get Fioreyla. I shouldn't be —" Sense? Breaking through? Who would have thought. In an unconscious echo, she's not moving, clinging to Ila's wrst; look, he's very cling-able, alright? And she knows, she knows that consciousness is fleeting in situations like this, she knows that very probably nothing is wrong, but. But. Cita does pause, remember that here is a man probably even less stable than she is; she gentles her grip, squeezes Ila's hand, does not lean into an emotionless Healer Face like she likely would love to. "He's fine. He's going to be fine." Talking to Ila or herself? WHO'S TO SAY. "Ila. Can — can you stay here? Fio can check, can. See if he needs anything. I'm going to get some food. For us." That's the compromise, stilted, fading in and out of I'm Going To Be Strong Here Because That's What's Up. She won't treat their Weyrmate, Ila eats, nobody leaves, just now. Fair. Right?

"It's my most redeeming quality," Ila'den responds to any mention of 'ass', "my only one, actually, and the only reason you ever agreed to weyrmate me in the first place." But the pain makes Ila'den's smile less, brings worry to an already pained expression, and it gutters out when R'hyn's expression says he doesn't believe it. Maybe that's half the motivation behind pushing Cita forward, behind capturing her hand and R'hyn's, behind forcing both of their focus onto each other and taking R'hyn's scrutiny away from him. It's a mistake. Where Ila'den might have have normally abandoned the two to each other, to share that secret bond he has no desire to tarnish between them, this time he just can't do it. Clearly R'hyn doesn't know that. "I'm not going anywhere, baby. Breathe." But Cita's panic settles into his bones long before her hand is on his wrist to translate it; he stands in tandem with the goldrider, breaks her grip on his wrist so that he can pull her in against the hard lines of his own body to comfort her as much as anchor himself in this moment. He doesn't keep Cita from grabbing R'hyn's hand, but he does keep his arm around her with a grip almost bruising against her hip in contradiction to the calm in his voice. "Citayla," comes soft, measured, "breathe, baby. He's fine. You're fine, Heryn. You just need to breathe. Deep breaths. I'm here. Cita is here." And his free hand is pressing fingers against cheeks without trying to crowd the bronzerider in, because he knows how claustrophobic moments like these are, because he knows how irrational and indiscriminate panic is, because he still needs to touch his weyrmate regardless. Nevermind that his voice cracks; it just means he feigns a pause before he keeps talking and doesn't let Cita go. He needs her. He can pretend to be strong enough for all of them, but he needs to hold onto her to do it, to hold onto R'hyn to remind himself that he's still alive. AND THEN THERE IS FIRE, the little healer arrived with the kind of urgency that says she was already alerted if the gaggle of senior apprentices rushing in with her isn't indicative enough. "Move," comes soft but strong, gentle hands pushing between Cita and Ila'den and earning her a growl from the bronzerider, one that has her squaring her shoulders because MAYBE ILA IS A WOLF, BUT SHE KNOWS HOW TO DANCE WITH LIONS. "You can be as scary as you want after we are all sure that he's okay. Please, move." So he moves. Ila'den pulls Cita with him because he can't let her go, and Fire moves forward with her team. "He's okay," Ila'den reassures Cita, even if the way he DOESN'T LET HER GET FOOD BECAUSE HE'S HUGGING HER TOO CLOSE says he is not. She's trying to be strong. He is trying to be strong. NONE OF THEM ARE REALLY STRONG. "Please stay." It's a hoarse whisper. "Just for now." But Fire is taking R'hyn's hand and whispering gentle reassurances as she goes through her checks, as she gives hushed orders to those assigned to help. "It's a panic attack," comes for Cita and Ila'den, but Fire never looks up as she gives more orders to another apprentice who rushes out. "I'm putting him back under," Fire tells them, shushing R'hyn, rubbing knuckles as she does. Then it doesn't matter, because her apprentice is back and the healer's back is turned to the other two as she pushes more of the good stuff to knock R'hyn's ass RIGHT BACK OUT. "You both should go. Just for now. I'll stay." AND IT'S NOT A SUGGESTION, if that look she gives them both says anything. YOU'RE LUCKY SHE'S EVEN LETTING YOU NEAR HER PATIENT.

In spite of the fact that she would absolutely throw hands on Ila escaping Bonding Time for Noble Reasons, the universe conspires, cruelly, against our poor Citayzleat's currently-solo quest to make the stubborn-ass realize how very adored he is. The sheer audacity of that won't be unforgiven, but just now, just for right now there are slightly more pressing matters. Namely, maybe clinging to said Ila just a little, and not fainting in sheer relief when the apprentices alert Fire. "Thank Faranth." Cita breathes, glances between the two with something like uncertainty. Healer Instinct says LISTEN TO THE HEALER. Sleepless Weyrmate Instinct says MAYBE GROWLING IS A GOOD IDEA. Who wins??? Thank Faranth Ila steps back, because in spite of her relief on seeing the healer, she's not so super sure on being moved from R'hyn's side, either, for all that she can't seem to find further words to vainly attempt to soothe the man. Cita doesn't resist when they move, has enough sense to go with it, but she does take a moment to potentially attempt a sleeper-hold on Ila's chest. Or possibly just return the bone-crushing hug with an equal amount of ferocity. One. "'kay." She's not going to argue, here — her mission for food is important, necessary even, but this is more important. Neither of them can maintain whatever glitchy Definitely Okay facade forever, but THEY CAN TRY. See: Cita pulling herself together with a sharp nod, twisting her head to squint at Fire but not move, not yet, acknowledging the other healer. "Okay." Follows the determination to put the poor guy back under, gaze flicking up briefly to guage Ila's response to that. "That should — should help the panic. Keep him calm until he can." Not twitching, not twitching, not. "Process. What happened." Can't panic if you're conked out good, right? A long, long, long stretch of silence follows before Cita takes a breath in, out, nods again. Try as she might to not see the logic, it's there: their Weyrmate isn't going to know whether they're there or not, so they might as well get some things done. "We'll be back. With a cot, and provisions. We won't risk his — his health, if he wakes up and Ila's not here." The look she chances up at Ila, this time, is apologetic; here she is, breaking promises already. At least she can pave the way for their return: also not so much a suggestion as a warning, but she can't be a model patient always. Healers, terrible patients, and all. Does she move, though? Not even kind of. Ila asked her to stay, and in spite of knowing full well that They Should Go, she's not. Not until she's certain that he's…if not okay with it, at least roughly as willing to Play Along as she is. Beat. "Or, I could send for a Weyrling." Oops.

Ila'den's response isn't one that Citayla will find on his face — not this time. That carefully constructed facade that says we can do hard things is masking whatever emotion was there only moments before, grey eyes departing fire-headed healer and panicked weyrmate to meet Cita's darker hues the moment they lift to his. No, the answer is in his grip, in the way fingers flex and tendons tighten, in the way they dig into skin in for one, two, three heartbeats while muscle ripples taut beneath skin and his breath, for just a moment, halts somewhere in his throat. It can be found in just how long it takes for Ila'den to realize that he's holding onto Cita too damn tight, to swallow down another breath and force his muscles, his fingers, to relax one by one by one by one. But he's looking to her for answers, reading Cita's face to guage the appropriateness of such action, waiting to see if he should fight or submit to the knowledge of other healers, trust that somebody in this room can take the reins where Cita has chosen that she cannot. But he's silent, watching her even after she looks back to Fire, looking away only when she speaks to watch R'hyn. "There's no need," Fire says, distracted as she works, but present. "We will have a cot here when you return." A beat, a glance between Cita and Ila. "Two of them. I won't risk his health either. Now please. Go." GIVE IT A MOMENT. BETTER YET, MAKE IT FIVE. It takes five whole moments for Ila'den to finally look away from R'hyn, to look back down into Cita's face and then bring up his hands to cup her jaw, to press his forehead in against hers and to close his eyes. "He's fine," comes hushed, but it's evident that this time it's more for him than for her. Still, he drops his hands to Cita's shoulders, squeezes, and then shifts the hold into one arm draped across so that he can lean his weight in against her OBNOXIOUSLY and STEER HER, OF COURSE. "We're only doing this because R'hyn will make dreadful eyes at us if he wakes up and we've both wasted away to nothing, and he's got enough going on to guilt us for the next decade. But we'll gather some food and go eat in his room." As if it's some GRAND SCHEME, SOME GREAT JOKE. What it truly is is a guise, because right now, more than anything, Ila'den just really needs to be near R'hyn. "I'll pick your plate if you pick mine?" So that they can torture each other, of course. There's a baker here, after all, who's known for his completely bizzare (questionably edible) creations.

If anything, Cita's grip is just as fierce — that is, grounding, probably. Grounding, maybe a little bruising, who's counting here? Not the goldrider, who automatically squeezes an arm in response, although what response hers might be is debatable. Appreciation? Maybe? Comfort? Likely? She's pulling together the scraps of some sort of dignity, some sort of I'm A Healer Damn It, and Fire is right, besides. The Healers at Xanadu are good; and she would know, right? She can manage to not pitch a fit, probably, as much as — let's be real — this seems like a situation that would call for one (and they've definitely seen worse, besides). Not looking nearly as chagrined as she should for Fioreyla, Cita nods once, still gripping Ila too damn hard even as he relaxes his grip slowly. She can take it; can manage to stand, more or less, without fidgeting too much or flying back to Ryn's side compulsively. They both can manage that, obviously. Sure. "I appreciate that." The goldrider murmurs, deferent for once in her life. She can't quite manage any sort of a smile, so much as a pained-looking grimace, but she…tries? And is distracted from her noble efforts, anyhow, regarding Ila for his silence, then there's the smile. It's a faint little thing, private, fond as she grabs the hand she mauled so rudely and planting a kiss there while he's got it raised. "Of course he will. This is temporary. It's —" Hard to maintain that attitude, not easy when he's flipping his shit, confused and scared and hurt. "It will pass." Cita's certain, here, maybe a little on the crazed side, but what's a little bit of deranged certainty between Weyrmates who've had a long week? She manages to remain upright for the leaning, not even staggering that much, bumping her head sideways against the rider's shoulder. "Faranth forbid we give him more leverage." The Healer admits, huffing something vaguely in the vicinity of a laugh. Again, maybe a tiny bit on the hysterical side. Don't worry about it. "Better get enough to have proof. Just in case he gets any ideas." She mutters, glancing one last time at their presently-slumbering Weyrmate, then Ila, worried; shakes her head, almost as quickly, dismissing it. They've got work to do, and as much as staying right here would be preferable, well. "I won't put anything spicy on yours if you don't put anything green on mine." Cita bargains, just to head off that part: the pastries are dangerous enough, without having to eat green things or any of Citayla's brought-from-Landing goodies she so loves to share. She can play along, and drag along too, either leading or following, one, to drag them (TEMPORARILY. BRIEFLY.) away from R'hyn.

But Fire is busy doing Fire things, like tending to her patient instead of the family of her patient. YOU'RE WELCOME THOUGH, CITA. If she was not in her own I'm A Healer Damn It mode, she'd be tripping over herself (literally) and stammering out apologetic platitudes. After they're gone, you can be sure that the usually timid chipmunk-of-a-woman will probably collapse into a proper Victorian fit, complete need for extra-strength smelling salts included, delicate sensibilities affronted by her own peculiar brand of daring in challenging not only Ila'den, but Citayla — the woman she knows through reputation alone if nothing else. That is not important. Important is Ila's hand sweeping the pad of a thumb over Cita's lip then across her cheekbone, the press of his own kiss to her brow in answer to the one received on his hand before he's trapping her under his arm and heading them temporarily away from where they're both adamant that they must be. Important is Ila'den finding in Cita the ability to pretend he's strong enough to do something he doesn't want to do, simply because he's watching her find a way to do something she doesn't want to do. "It will pass," he echoes, as if reiteration might somehow forgo hope to become something more concrete, like reality. "And we should." Give R'hyn proof they pretended at being human LONG ENOUGH TO EAT, he means. It's the last about no Spicy for Ila, no Green for Cita that has Ila'den pausing, regarding his weyrmate for a moment too long and, in a sudden need, a sudden, pressing, desperate need for a chaotic touch of what constitutes their own normalcy, Ila'den hauls Cita up, quite abruptly, onto his shoulder. "No deal. R'hyn's going to know you didn't eat your greens somehow, and he'll make those eyes — you know the ones — and suddenly I will have significantly more cats. Do you want cats, Citayzleat? Because this is how we get more cats." By a lack of greens and an immeasurable amount of guilt-leverage from broken, not-here-to-even-defend-their-own-honor weyrmates. But so it goes. Ila'den will pretend the banter, will keep drawing on Cita's strength and giving what little remains of his in return so that they can both get through this together, and when they return to R'hyn, true to Fire's word, there will be two cots there. They're both pressed flush against each other, flush against R'hyn's bed, flimsy and uncomfortable but there. Ila will concede the middle to Cita, so that he can hold onto them both during the night.

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