The Deal is the Deal

Xanadu Weyr - Firelizard Theatre
A natural clearing in the forest has grown a different sort of tree. The Courtyard of the Firelizard holds grass trampled into dirt around the wooden play structures.
In the northern part of this field lies a jungle-gym like fort, with two towers that soar to fifteen feet of height. One of them adjoins a large open deck with spiral staircase up and a metal slide down. That aside, the structure's made almost entirely of wood, the boards locked together either by being interlocked or by huge wooden bolts hammered into the boards. The towers are studded with uneven boards and rough spots, various climbing challenges on each of their faces. A swaying rope bridge with wooden slats connects the towers, and beneath it there's a sealed tunnel to run through or play minecraft.
Just past the fort, there are wooden sit-toys carved and painted into the likeness of dragons. They're about two feet high and four feet long, though the green is smaller than the blue. There's a place for a child to sit on the dragon's back, with their feet resting on the dragon's paws and hands on the bars bars attached to the neck of the dragon. Pushing with hands or feet will make the dragon rock and writhe.
In the middle of the field are two sets of swings, suspended by rope from from a wooden beam that's held up by crossbraces on either side. There's a set of monkey bars, made entirely out of wood but carefully polished until the dark bars glow, and a set of seesaws. The sandbox is set back a little from the rest, filled with sand from Xanadu's beach and scattered with buckets and shovels.
Trees border the area, including a massive Lemosian ironwood that has beneath its branches wooden benches with a view of the playground.

This place is a sanctuary usually reserved for Xanadu's youth, but this late at night — far past the hour any self respecting parent or nanny might have their children out to play — Risali haunts it. She is a lone figure in black, silhouetted amid a sea of gentle falling white. She's the one bundled up in too many layers, buried beneath thick loose curls, and one pompom beanie, and a ridiculous scarf; she's the one who conquered the swingset by climbing to the cross beam at the very top and sitting there, occupying that space instead of being a normal person occupying a normal swing. There she's balancing, with her feet swinging into open space, with a bottle of what looks suspiciously like rum clutched close to her chest when it's not being flung out to either side of her person with exaggerated punctuation of the song that she's singing. Loudly. Unrepentantly. Obnoxiously. "NINETY-NINE BOTTLES OF RUM ON THE WALL, NINETY-NINE BOTTLES OF RUUUUUUUUM…" She's alone if you ignore the fact that there's probably a golden hided badass in her head, providing sick beats and encouraging thorough debauchery (WHAT, IT COULD BE THOROUGHLY DEBAUCH) from afar, but there are no humans here to witness the fall of… okay, well… the we're about the hit the bottom of this shit because let's be real: we've been falling for a long time of Risali. Just the deadened trees and their stretching branches; just the hushing twilight of a thousand stars and the silent sentinel watch of each construction meant for children's joy. "TAKE ONE DOWN, PASS IT AROUND, NINETY — uh — SEVEN BOTTLES OF RUM ON THE WALL." Eight, Risali. Ninety-Eight. It was a good attempt though. It was a good attempt.

"You missed one," come words that might well be easy to miss, given their quiet, crackled nature, or the fact that they come from somewhere behind Risali's current, precarious perch. How long Casper has been standing there, living up to his namesake by haunting the goldrider's attempted escape to the edge of civilized forest, is hard to tell — his position leaned up against the bark of a tree looks comfortable, casual, as though it could have been simple seconds or perhaps several long minutes that he's been watching bottles arc and pompom hats sway in the breeze. "Bottles," he explains as, seeming to realize he's being rude (or perhaps going unseen), he pushes away from tree bark and moves into the weyrwoman's line of sight, no closer but no longer in hiding, either. "You missed one," he repeats, flat of his palm sweeping in a dramatic arch that one gloved palm might slap loudly atop a fist curled at the level of his waist, seeming to perform magic as he draws a second (albeit much smaller) bottle from seeming thin air. Just kidding. It was from his pocket, withdrawal disguised by fingers that waggle and distract, but she doesn't know that right. Or maybe she does, and he's just one more tipsy sot seeking to corrupt a sacred place. I don't make the rules. "Now it can be ninety-seven." Because he's knocking back a shot of whatever he's got in his pocketses, wincing through it, tongue running along teeth behind his lips as he tucks his away and finally approaches. "Mm," a flicker of doubt, a purse of lips, and then, "but if I can impress you, will you make it ninety-six?" An inquiry because he points to himself, dead in the chest, asking without asking if she'll share because what's better than one thoroughly debauched human? TWO. TWO THOROUGHLY DEBAUCHED HUMANS. AH-AH-AH.

Risali doesn't hear him, not at first. At first Casper is lost to the heady thrum of overloud bass and the echo of her voice, given back from the trees. He's lost to the sway of feet and the slight shift of body as feet kick from atop wooden beams, he's lost to the cracking of her voice when she pushes for loudness instead of accuracy and coughs at the strain. And then he's there, in her line of sight, repeating the words she'd missed before as grey eyes train onto him, relaxed despite the sudden appearance of another soul, this one meant to interrupt her haunting. She watches his magic trick, raises her brows in a way that says she's NOT IMPRESSED, BEAST-MAN, but her curiosity is piqued. "I didn't miss one," she insists, though her voice is clearly hoarse in indication that she's probably been here singing for longer than a while. "You just heard wrong." But she moves, pitches herself sideways so that she can lay on that crossbeam, bring one arm under her head to cushion her cheek, hips shifted and turned so that she's straddling the beam now so her rum-bearing arm can hang loosely. Wiggle, wiggle. "I'll make it ninety-six if you can do something really impressive." UP THE BOTTLE GOES AGAIN, touching her lips, spilling some because of the angle but NOT ENOUGH TO DETER HER. "Ninety-five if you want to come and get it yourself." Her brows rise again in challenge this time, and that bottle is wiggled back and forth in tandem with a devious smile — one that finds her tongue getting caught between her teeth. "Time's ticking, mystery man."

It's suddenly an intensely good thing Casper is tipsy enough to do something foolish but not so drunk as to not be able to do something about it. That's a dangerous gleam in eyes bled of color, something faintly aggressive in the roll of shoulders as he pushes them out of the confines of his jacket, motions that indicate a challenge accepted, for better or, more likely, for worse. A pair of open buttons expose the mess at the base of his throat, fresh-scar-pink rendered dusky purple in the dark, but it doesn't seem to bother him overmuch as he flexes, shifts, attention skimming the space around them even as he walks closer to the goldrider's swing. "Catch," he rasps, arm jerking as if he's seriously going to throw it at the poor, half-prone weyrwoman before canines bare in a crooked grin that he flashes her way for a brief instant. Just kidding. He gently tosses it up to land on the crossbeam instead, ignoring any potential reaction as he pulls gloves from blunt fingers, stuffs them in back pockets, takes one long look at the theatre around them, and then moves. Perhaps there's a reason he's chosen to study wild felines over other, gentler, less mercurial fauna — perhaps it's all simply to study their bodies in unfettered motion, for there's something decidedly felinic about the churn of his form as he darts for the far side of the wooden fort, in the coil of muscles just before he springs, in the low flow of his body as he uses feet, then hands to push himself up into the midst of the construction before vaulting over the next railing to enter his path. Spiralling stairs are climbed, not on their steps, but from their outer bars, a hand over hand climb that ends with him awkwardly straddling one of the tall towers. It isn't a kind slide to its base, but he makes it, careful to find footing upon the smooth, damp surface before executing a somewhat ungainly flip, arms spread wide to catch at wooden slats, heave his body, utilize momentum to thrust him forwards on feet that hop, skip, gaze focused, mentally tallying the steps it will take until he has to slide into that minecraft tunnel, the world around them still as he is suddenly forced to navigate inner workings that could not be planned, picking a path that, given his expression when he finally emerges, is not the one he wanted. Oh well, reads the face that follows, weight shifting from foot to foot, shoulders wobbling in a fullbodied, intensely cattish wiggle before he throws himself from the jungle gym to the mercy of the monkey bars — and slips, landing far too low with a loud, thudding, "OOF," that suddenly rids the entire world of the mystery of just why he gets hurt. Because he's damned stupid and he almost certainly owed the universe a freaking life or nine in the pursuit of dumb stunts. There's a momentary scrabble, a SCAR, BROTHER bid for purchase on bars made slick by weather, but elbows catch on an angle, one leg swinging up until he can roll on to their surface and breathe through a rough, grating laugh. "Shit," is all he says for a long moment, until he finally catches enough breath to roll to his feet and creep to the edge of monkey bars. He possesses just enough audacity to wink Risa's way before dropping to ladder-rungs below, leaping between activities in a strange, froggish hop. It takes effort to heave himself up to her level again, a distinct shake traveling the length of his arms as they force themselves to straighten, as hips wriggle to help him higher before he can get one knee, one foot, then two beneath him in a feral crouch. Chest heaving, breath leaving in rough pants between bared teeth, Casper tilts his head and lifts his gaze to stare at Risali across the distance that separates them, a singular brow tilting up as though to ask, 'Well?'

Risali is not exactly sober, so at first the fact that Casper is taking her up on her dare doesn't exactly click. What could he possibly do that would be that dangerous (read:impressive) on equipment made for children? It doesn't register that This Might Actually Be A Bad Idea when he's shrugging out of his jacket, nor when he's threatening to throw it to her and she throws out her other arm to catch it anyway. Risali nearly loses her balance then, making a soft noise in her throat as she catches air, and then slams back down onto the crossbeam, stability iffy, her entire body wobbling to resist gravity's lure, positioning even more precarious with one leg dangling and the other hooked before she can pull herself back up (booze in tact, albeit missing a bit of its content). But she manages, rolling her eyes at Casper's smile, introducing him to her middle finger and a hint of tongue, answering a hint of canines with a contagious smile seconds after he's already turned away. And there he goes. Risali sits up a little straighter, straddling the beam with one hand set between her thighs for balance, grey hues watching him as he goes and she swings her legs and takes a drink and — Faranth. The bottle catches on her bottom lip and pulls when she drags it down slow, not in a bid for sensual visualization, but because midway through partaking of her rum, shock overrode everything else. Those grey eyes fixate, mouth parted in a soft 'o', body taunt as if this mutual tension might somehow guarantee his success, or prepare her for his failure. A gasp. Risali swallows down air and scrambles to her feet, hugging rum and jacket closer to her body as she shifts with precarious footing to watch his progress, winces when he slips, but swallows down air when he doesn't stop. He keeps going, right up until Risali's had just enough time to devour form and lines and finesse and realize that she wants more, she wants to see more. Suddenly there's too much space between them, too frantic a rhythm made by her heart to be sure she heard Casper asking his question. The goldrider's breath shudders as if she was the one running, those grey eyes drag up beastcrafter form slow, slow, slow until they settle on his and she stares for a moment rocking on the precipice of inaction. It's only after the tip of her tongue makes a pass over suddenly dry lips that Risali breathes out a song-hoarse, "Come and get it." She brings the bottle back to her lips and takes a swig without taking her eyes off of Casper, holding the bottle out into the space before her — between them — when she's done, then off to the side. She makes a show of unraveling her fingers from the neck of the bottle, dropping it without heeding where it might land. Thankfully it's saved from shattering by the snow, but even the cold can't save its contents as they seep out. And she waits, so very still, every line of her body, her posture, a challenge.

A challenge she should not have made. Dark eyes lift from their unconscious drop, dragging away from their sudden fixation upon Risali's lips to meet hers dead on, relentless in the way he watches her drink, extend the bottle, and then cast it aside. His gaze doesn't waver, not even to mark the bottle's fate or bemoan the rum currently spreading through snow in a dark stain; it narrow to slits, something sharp and full of calculation flickering through blue depths. She can likely see the second he makes the decision to act against better judgment, watch as he shifts and tilts forward on booted toes so that he's moving before he's even properly gained his feet. If the motion of his body was not felinic before, it is now, gait a slow-rolling pitch that eats the space between them so quickly and yet not nearly quickly enough. He is unhurried, unbothered by the dilemma she's created for herself in withholding the drink he's earned, allowing his gaze to sweep over her once, twice, again before he finally stops, finally sinks into a careful crouch before her. He's close, too close, close enough to count lashes as fingers lift to curl under the goldrider's chin, thumb coming to rest just beneath lips, knuckles pressing up to force her head to lift toward his. Cas's voice is rough, thick with anticipation as he says, "That wasn't the deal." Was there an actual deal, though? Was there? Irrelevant. He's already leaning in to press nose to cheek, to linger with a brush of lips so light it could be mistaken for a soft exhalation against her skin. "The deal was one drink now…" He pauses, the featherlight touch of lips against hers replaced by the press of his tongue, content to takes his time tracing the seam of her mouth in a slow drag filled with nothing short of salacious intent. "…And a second if I came to take it myself." A light nip delivered to the center of her lip is the only warning he gives her before pressing forward, both hands sliding back to tangle in loose curls as he lays claim to her mouth, tongue pushing past lips once, twice, before tilting, pulling, dragging blunt nails against the nape of her neck. He takes, and takes, and takes, consuming without devouring, promising without cloying, a steady, measured, thorough exploration with just enough bite to keep from becoming dull as he takes what is owed to him… and then some, unnatural greed seizing him, every stuttered breath issued against her lips ending in a soft growl and a renewed surge against her. Once. Twice. Three times and then he jerks as if seared, hands withdrawn from the depths of her hair, eyes pressed shut tighttighttight as he makes himself lean back, rest elbows upon crouched knees, push hands back through hair and issue a gruff laugh at his own audacity. "Faranth." Don't mind him. He'll just be over here. Shaking his head at all of his life choices. This is fine. What's a little snogging amongst strangers right? Right. Nothing to see here. Perfectly normal. Bolstered by his own internal monologue, Casp clears his throat and tilts his head, fixing Risa with a look that's not quite sheepish, not quite heated, lingering somewhere in the inbetween as he finally concludes with, "But uh… I guess that can count."

Risali's chin tilts up as if in defiance, something sybaritically hedonistic in the expression — the challenge — that grey eyes fix on Casper as he moves. Her chest labors under the stress of anticipation, at the behest of his proximity, in answer to the whisper of prurient promise she finds in knuckles, and thumbs, and the slow drag of tongue against rum-flavored lips. Her breath shudders, her eyes close, and Risali's body rocks forward just enough, just a mere fraction of an inch to betray her need to be closer to Casper, closer to sating the titillating, agonizingly slow burn of needwantpleaseyespleaseyes in her veins. She can't speak so she doesn't try, and then she doesn't need to: he's on her and she's on him, and just like that, nothing else matters except teeth and lips and tongue, the feel of his body under the press of her hands, the desperate curl of her fingers into his hair. She isn't the Risali who came to an abandoned playground in order to drink, to forget that she is Risali; she isn't the woman who killed a man to protect herself and spare another the black mark on their soul, the unwashable blood from their hands; she isn't the breath and life and soul of a vivacious gold, or the Senior Weyrwoman of Xanadu Weyr. She is just this, something complicated and undone, a physical manifestation of want and need, the embodiment of desperation and heat. Her entire body shivers from the cold or the heat of his hands, from the press of his lips and the tease of tongue, in answer to every growl, every nip, every single breath stolen from her lungs and taken from him in return. She translates it into hands that pull and twist and drag down, down across clavicle, against chest and ribs and sides, drawn in near his naval as if she means to press her hands up beneath fabric and feel her skin on his. Then he's gone, Risali left with eyes wide shut and bruising lips parted in wait, with hands holding onto nothing, lingering in the space separating them as, slowly, she relearns how to breathe. Even slower still comes the ability to comprehend the complications of language, to decipher just what it is that Casper is saying in tandem with the thrum of her frantic heart. Maybe she never hears him at all. "Risali," comes hoarse and damn-near breaking, her eyes blinking open to reveal wet and pain and something unfathomably ruined. "My name," she tries again, no stronger, "it's Risali. I am…" A shiver, perhaps another response to the cold, perhaps anticipation of what repercussions will come with the truth, "Lifemate to Leirith, Xanadu's senior queen, and weyrmate to…" a beat, as lips tremble, as she tries to form the words and manages, but on another whisper, "to two men. I am… a mother, and I am… a sister, and I am a daughter." Another breath. "I am the reason a man will never return to his mother, or sisters, or daughters." Risali doesn't look away, doesn't crumble under the persistence of tears despite the fact that her voice cracks beneath the strain to speak. "And if you were smart, you would run… very, very far away from me."

Casper isn't sure what he expected, but he knows it wasn't this. There's a brief second in which he isn't fast, or agile, or quick-witted, or intelligent, or anything other than a man, a very mortal, surprisingly fragile, inescapably human creature facing a woman he likes with tears in her eyes and a tremble in her tone and it pains him. Doubt, concern, apology enter his gaze, something vulnerable in the dip of his posture, the lift of shoulders, head dropping between them to tilt to her level and listen. His expression parks itself somewhere serious, frown deepening and easing in turns, lips pressing in some sort of reaction before releasing again, though whether he is simply quelling the desire to speak or having private thoughts on her situation, it is difficult to tell. He blinks when she finishes, tilts brows up out of their frown in intimation of a shrug, and sighs. "Well…," his face screws up into something crooked and unsure, one hand coming up to scrub at the hair at the back of his skull. "That does make things a little awkward, doesn't it." What part, Cas? The weyrwoman, the family, the murder? "I mean, I didn't expect it to go quite this way, but I guess you win. Just hold still, will you. This is gonna hurt, it looks buried in deep." What in the shells is he talking about? He doesn't explain, just plants a hand on her shoulder, hoping she's just sober enough to keep them both steady as he leans over and thumps his curled hand against the back of her spine and mimes trying to pull something out of it. It might well be Excalibur, and he no King Arthur, for the effort he puts into it but eventually he twists free, pantomiming dropping the blade from her back into the snow before he drops, sits, and stretches to pick up his jacket. He holds his silence as he shrugs into it, settles it into place, intense sobriety defining his features by the time he's retrieved gloves and slid them back on his hands. Fingers flex within leather, seating them nicely, and only then does he risk a glance at her, a sidewise slant full of quiet consideration. "My name is Casper. Well. It's actually Casparis, but it feels-" Strange. Alien. Like it belongs to someone else. "-like my father. He wasn't around much. Couldn't make the time around his ingenues, mistresses, and sycophants. So, Casper. My mother lives in Ressac, alone," which perhaps explains the frequency of his appearance here. "There isn't anyone else. I like it that way." Most of the time, expressed in a frown as though that thought was just occurring to him now, and was in the process of taking him by surprise. His recovery is slow, marked by a blink and a twist of his head to face her fully. "I'm sorry. For kissing you. If it's something you don't want, it won't happen again. As for the rest…" He stops himself from saying something idiotic, like 'it looks like it weighs on you enough without me adding my opinions in,' though the thought comes and goes across his features before he says instead, "It doesn't sound much like my business, but if you need to talk to someone about it…" Shrugs. He's here. "Anyway, the last time I ran from something, it tried to tear my throat out. I'll take my chances, I think." He shifts to extend one hand as he speaks, tilted as though offering it to shake in light of this introduction of their real selves.

"I guess it does," Risali whispers, because it doesn't matter what part of her truth made things awkward, it just… is now. Then she blinks, brows knitting inward as she watches Casper, as she swipes (furious) at tears that she ISN'T GOING TO ACKNOWLEDGE SHUT UP because SHE'S NOT CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING DAMN IT. And there's Casper, crowding her space again while Risali, taking advantage of proximity, curls her fingers into his shirt and keeps them both steady. Casper pantomimes… what. The redemption of her soul? The release of every wrong that's been buried deep? The displacement of his own sword? Risali's not exactly sober, but that doesn't mean she can't pull off a mean face when he's dropping proverbial swords into accumulating snow and she, ever in her infinite wisdom, opts for a dry, anticlimactic, "My hero." It definitely was not complemented by any tick at the corners of her mouth, because that would be absolutely preposterous. But she has to let him go eventually, and she does, reluctantly. She brings her hands back down to the biting cold of snow-laden crossbeam and she listens, watching Casp at first, and then looking out towards the odd shapes the trees make against the inky black of night. She doesn't take his hand because she doesn't see it — not right away. "Casper," is what she uses to break the silence instead, as if she's tasting his name on the tip of her tongue. Her head tilts, grey eyes find his hand, and she brings her own up hesitantly, halts and goes and halts before she places it tentatively in his — not to shake, but to draw against his palm with the tip of her pointer finger, to splay digits against leather outwards, and then sink hers in the cracks between his. She curls her hand around his, squeezes, watches and — "You really are an idiot, aren't you?" she breathes. Mist rises with every breath as her eyes climb back up to meet his, as she looks for answers and finds nothing but her own lacking sobriety. "Casper." She says it again as she pulls her hand away this time, as her gaze goes back out to the thousand points of light hundreds of millions of lightyears away. A heartbeat, two, three, and suddenly the weyrwoman is pitching forward, jumping free of the swingset, landing gracelessly and stumbling into snow, hissing at the impact of a knee, and a hand, and the smart of areas that will definitely bruise even as she shifts onto her butt in the snow and then crawls over to grab what remains of the rum. THERE'S NOT MUCH, but a bit has survived the perilous drop to the bottom. "Come and dance with me," she calls up. "I found the rum." LIKE SHE WASN'T THE ONE WHO DROPPED IT TO BEGIN WITH. But she isn't going to confront her emotions, not here, not now, not when she's already gaining her feet and hugging that bottle possessively close, staring at Casper with EYES that say she absolutely WILL come back up there and push his ass down if he doesn't get on her level IMMEDIATELY. And she sings again too: "NINETY-FIVE BOTTLES OF RUM ON THE WALL, NINETY-FIVE BOTTLES OF RUUUUUUUUM."

Does it matter what the blade even signifies anymore? It's a gesture that's taken on meaning beyond its original intent, a general indication of acknowledgement of pain and suffering, and a humorous attempt to relieve it… even when it is not well-received. "Don't look at me like that. You're the one who put that there," Casp murmurs around a crooked smile, one that lingers despite the fragility of the moment; it lingers for the sound of his name on her lips, for the touch of her fingers against his gloved hand, for the curl of his own as they tighten around hers with a reassuring squeeze, and sharpens with true mirth as he says, "My mother claims it's one of my finer qualities. 'Ignorance is bliss,' she says, and then she shakes her head and wonders how she was ever cursed with such a son." Dark eyes twinkle even as amusement finally fades from his features, replying to her second use of his name with a low, "Risali." Lips press with its passing through them, as if the speaking of it is strange after so many anonymous encounters. "I don't know what you wanted me to say, though. We're all a lot of things. Some good. Some bad. But when it comes down to it, you're only just you." It's a selfish, young, idealistic outlook on life perhaps, but he never claimed to be otherwise, never said he was a paragon of wisdom or even a particularly well-adjusted individual. There's a reason he chooses a life of solitude, is out here with the clear intent to drink just as much as her, and be perfectly, dragonlessly alone while doing it. He dwells on that for a moment, gaze going down where hers rises, glances up only when she leaps from the beam. He winces for her graceless contact with the ground, but his lips are already peeling back in a sideways grin in response to the threat in her eyes, hands lifting to pat in the air. "Alright, alright. Paid enough already tonight," he says, rubbing the spot on his chest where he collided with the monkey bars earlier, "so don't hurt me. I'm coming, I'm coming." His body tilts backwards at an alarming angle, but hands have already found grip on the edge of the crossbeam, hold him aloft as he swings once, twice, before dropping to the ground with much more finesse (SUPERHERO LANDING). Eyes roll skywards as she resumes her earlier song, but he's quick to join in, pressing his side to hers, one arm coming up to link around her neck, the better to steal the bottle, knock back a shot, and correct her with a coughing, "Take one down, pass it around, ninety-four bottles of rum on the wall," followed by, "though, shells, don't you know any better drinking songs?"

On second thought, Risali jumps because Casper says her name. She jumps because the sound of it sends electricity creeping up her spine, because fleeing into the snow is a better alternative to actually pushing him off of the top of the swingset or twisting her fists back into his shirt and pulling him to her and being the ruination of one or both of them. So Risali, in that moment, does the one thing she's best at: she runs away. She does not, however, run far. And she does answer him. "I didn't want you to say anything." It's a soft admittance, words slightly mangled by the hints of inebriation and the ghost of an accent driven into her speech when she was young. "I just wanted you to know the truth, because I…" a breath, a hesitation, a moment when Risali stumbles over her own constant unwillingness to face down emotion and has to force her way through reservations. "Because I want you to kiss me. Because I like the way that your hands feel when they're on me and, even more than that, because I like how I feel when you're with me." Shoulders lift, then fall. "I have two weyrmates, Casper, but that… doesn't mean I am liberal with my… with my affection, with my body. I was — am — getting too close. That scares me. It should scare you. And you… you deserve the truth, so you can decide if you want to stay, or go, or…" Rewrite the script. Her hands splay as arms push outward, a helpless gesture of not knowing what to say or what to do or what comes next. But then he's there, tucked in against her side, and Risali's arm slings low around his hips, fingers hooking in beltloops as Casper drinks and sings and she laughs. DOES SHE KNOW ANY BETTER DRINKING SONGS? "No," she admits, snagging back the rum, "but shut up." HOWBOUDAH. She takes her own drink before handing it back to him, and then Risali is twisting herself free from Casper to grab one of his hands, to spin as she pull herself right back in against his chest with brows raised and her hands poised for a dance. "But I know other songs." AND HOW TO DANCE. Which she will, rest assured, force him to do with her. It's not the slow seriousness of a back and forth two step; no, this is the stomping of feet, and clapping of hands, and shouting out lyrics. This is hooking arms and going in circles and skip-jump-hopping that will probably mean sometimes they mess up and sometimes Risali trips into him but never does she stop. Not now. Not for a while. Not until she's tired enough to think of nothing else but the ache of her body, and brave enough to let Casper go.

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