A Matter of Trust

Xanadu Weyr - Garden
An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place.
On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.
Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.
The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also alluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic.

Risali is in the gardens again, sitting on the space of bench she’s cleared of snow as the moon peeks out and offers her little light in which to see, catching at the frozen ground in a way that refracts and makes spackles of brilliant iridescence. Still, the world around is gray, the night is cold, and Risali’s got so-damn-much black hair (that she has debated cutting off a time or two) down, curling at her elbows and offering a curtain as she leans forward in her jacket with legs crossed underneath her. Leirith is absent, the boisterous gold having fallen asleep while Risali fried her brain on the text of all those damn books in an effort to study politics, and trade goods, and treaties between weyrs – like she is doing now, while she waits for K’vir, like she always does when she sends Potato away with a message that Leirith is asleep and they can meet. Yes, Risali is in the gardens, perched on a bench that is only feet away from where she danced with D’lei before, body pressed to his, while their dragons joined her in a song about dancing in the moonlight. Poor, sweet K’vir. Risali should probably know that something is up, but this is Risali. She’s… blissfully unaware.

And as always, K’vir makes his appearance not long after Potato shows up … only this time he’s a little longer in arriving. Nothing major but it’s just small enough to maybe kickstart the ‘something’s off’’ warnings — if Risali is paying that much attention to the passage of time. If not then, she could get better signals when he approaches because he’s not all relaxed and doing his usual happy-go-lucky greeting. He’s the complete opposite. He’s tense, wary and… fidgeting. A lot. Like he’s not quite sure what to do with himself but not wanting to be OBVIOUSLY out of sorts and yet is so painfully that. “Hey…” He at least speaks up to announce himself. It IS cold out too! Maybe that explains his hands remaining jammed in his pockets and the hunched shoulders? Sure. Sure, that’s it!

But Risali is not looking up to heed those warnings, nor is her focus on the length of time it takes him to arrive; indeed, grey eyes are focused on the pages of a book, memorizing as much as she can as quickly as she can because tests loom and she intends to… not be put through these lessons again, not if she can help it. This distorts time in tandem with sleep deprivation. So it’s not until K’vir’s voice bleeds through her focus that the goldling lifts her head up with a startled kind of excitement, smile brilliant as grey eyes seek him in the dark of nightfall and – she falters. Her eyes go from K’vir’s face to his hands, aware of his reluctance, achingly aware of the distance kept between them if only because it’s – “K’vir?” she asks, a little breathless, a little unsure – a new emotion for her, and one that she dismisses around another smile (albeit forced) as she snaps her book shut and gets to her feet anyway. And then she’s moving into the bronzerider’s space as much as he will allow, reaching out to pull herself against him in a hug - if he tolerates her being close enough. And, okay, maybe she was paying attention because there’s a slightly emphatic, “And you’re late, stupid bronzerider.”

At least he doesn’t flat out reject her on her approach? K’vir welcomes her when she reaches for him, but there’s a pained look to his already strained features; exactly as one would look when they’re warring with themselves. He hugs her. He hugs her tight (and loving). He hugs her too tight (something’s wrong). He holds her too long and not long enough. Whatever is eating at him is no doubt palatable by now. Risali is smart enough to see through it and likely empathic enough. Anyone could likely tell he’s upset and near breaking point. He doesn’t laugh at her joke, but his mouth twitches in another one of those broken weak smiles before it falters. Stepping back a bit, K’vir looks down at her and steels himself at last… to say something likely far more confusing (and worrisome) than it should be. “I still love you,” Still? “You know that, right?”

And Risali knows, because of the expression on K’vir’s face, and the way that his arms around her feel right and yet somehow still manage to feel so wrong, that something is the very opposite of okay. Something has happened, something has changed, and it’s fear that digs into her psyche, talons first, giving emphasis to the way Risali leans her body into K’vir’s and seeps his warmth through their jackets as fingers fist in the fabric at the small of his back to just hold on. It’s fear that keeps her there, pressed against him, as if staying here in this moment will somehow keep reality at bay; as if she can prevent him from speaking by sheer proximity and will alone; as if she can prevent whatever world-shattering revelation he is about to reveal from taking root with irrevocable damage. It doesn’t work. K’vir steps away and Risali lets him go, though she is reluctant to do it. Hands remain poised in extension between them, already trembling as his words transform her fear into a different kind of terror, and her reach drops a fraction of an inch as her shoulders tuck in towards her body. “Still?” It’s like she’s preparing herself for a physical blow. For a moment, Risali looks lost, grey eyes searching blue for some kind of answer that she doesn’t find. She doesn’t find it in his expression, or his words, or even the way he holds himself together long enough to speak. So the goldling swallows around the sudden lump in her throat as fingers fist in the fabric protecting K’vir’s chest, forcing out words that come caustically scathing and accusing on the heels of her uncertainty. “What the hell did you do, bronzerider?” Anger: Risali’s first line of defense.

Unknowingly, Risali delivers the PERFECT catalyst. K’vir’s restraint on all that bottled up emotion snaps and he goes visibly tense again. His eyes narrow, while a flush of anger darkens his skin. Does she remember the last time he looked so angry? Because she’s about to get a REFRESHER! “What did I do?” he snaps back, not yelling but speaking so tersely and so harsh he may as well have. His hands have come out of his pockets too, to point at his chest in a mocking manner before sweeping outwards. “WHY is it always ME? I’m not the one getting all cozy and snuggly with another bronzerider!” Weyrling, technically! He’s probably heard of D’lei’s transfer, despite not knowing him. And now that that’s off his chest? The rest is going to just come pouring out in some never ending stream of withheld jealousy and other nastiness that, if he wasn’t so woefully inexperienced, he’d SEE just how unfair it all is! How wrong he is. Unfortunately, he’s never tasted this sort of jealousy before or the fear with it and the hurt and it’s blinded him completely. K’vir begins to pace, still looking at her in mixed hurt and anger, but mostly that same pained, strained look. “I saw you two! All close and you touching him like that… and damn it, Risa!” Another little explosion of frustration there has his voice rising a bit, but he doesn’t move on her, turning his back instead as he just paces, restlessly. He doesn’t even mention the dancing, if he even saw that. The dancing he doesn’t care about. It’s the closeness! Which from his end of things, looks bad. He doesn’t have the whole picture, just a snippet that in this context? Has led him down the very wrong path and conclusion.

Risali does remember, though it was a time so long ago, in Igen, when K’vir’s overabundance of unleashed frustration had become the catalyst for them. It was only a kiss, one angry, lustful kiss that had turned them into this and so much more. It was that first kiss, the one that made it impossible for Risali to get K’vir out of her head, and the one that seemed to keep her on the bronzerider’s mind. That was the last time Risali can remember K’vir’s eyes narrowed with so much hostility directed toward her, and much as his anger turned her temper into a tempest of fury then, it does so now - with a quickness. “Don’t you dare raise your voice TO ME, KYZENVIRO.” And while Risali may be giving the bronzerider commands opposite to what she herself is doing, her own hypocrisy seems of no importance to her; the goldling is too busy stalking the distance K’vir paces between them to acknowledge it, and - SHOVE. Risali’s hands are on the bronzerider’s back with gusto, throwing her whole body into the ill-tempered push. “If you are going to insult me, then look at my FACE.” And there’s another shove, followed by one after another in a rapid fire of staccato, agitated movement. “LOOK AT ME.” And she will stand there, hair wild and windswept, clinging to her jacket, and her lips, and the lashes of her eyes in a way that highlights the white of snow, chest heaving. Instead of correcting K’vir, Risali is on him again, unleashing her own hurts – and the tears, that start somewhere between the first breath she takes and the first word she hisses out at him when she gives him another shove, but there’s no debilitating anguish in her expression. Merely rage. “Fuck you, Kyzenviro. FUCK. YOU. ME? AND D’LEI?” SHOVE. “You have lost your FUCKING mind, you STUPID bronzerider.” SHOVE. “And so what? SO WHAT? WHAT ABOUT BETHARI?” SHOVE. “AND SHARAZA?” SHOVE. “YOU DO NOT get to come to me and accuse me of being TOO CLOSE to ANYBODY, K’vir.” SHOVE. “YOU DON’T HAVE THAT RIGHT.” And just when it seems like Risali might awaken the weyr as a whole and invite them to witness the fissure of their once-perfect relationship, the fury seems to diminish, swallowed in a breath that sounds more like a sob and exhaled with, “I should go.” But she doesn’t leave. She waits, because there’s a part of her that simply cannot turn away from the man who, even now, makes her heart do somersaults somewhere in the pit of her stomach.

K’vir doesn’t turn entirely to face her, even as she begins to shove him and yell. It’s not until she’s shoved him a few times that he finally reacts and shakes her off. He doesn’t shove her back, but he makes it CLEAR that he doesn’t want her attack him and is unable to go on the attack in return. He doesn’t WANT to hurt her and yet IS hurting her… in a far worse way. Stupid bronzerider is right. “DON’T use Bethari against me!” he counters heatedly, facing her now and staring down with eyes hardened by anger and… something more. “That was a FLIGHT and a childhood crush that’s NOTHING now!” And lead to some of the more humiliating points in his life. Which he still feels prickly about. “And Sharaza was my ONLY friend back home… WHY the fuck does that matter? I don’t see either of them! And I definitely don’t paw at them and get all snuggly close…” Now his words feel empty and hollow and it’s with a frustrated growl that he turns away from her for a moment, a hand scrubbing at his mouth. Fingers rasp over the stubble growing there. A closer look, if Risali hasn’t booked it by then, shows K’vir actually looks like hell. With his anger and frustration having found an outlet, he’s back to feeling conflicted as Risali’s words sink in. Seeing her upset like that, brings back all the memories of their first encounters. What drew him to her in the first place. It makes him love her all the more and it makes him HURT all the more. It’s the hurt that compels him to advance on her and if she hasn’t punch him by then or beaten him back, he’ll kiss her. KISS her in a way only he can, while he crushes her body to his in a fierce embrace. And as soon as it began, it ebbs and he steps back agian, looking down at her and this time it’s with open and clear misery. Guilt, perhaps? But that jealousy still lingers too, beneath all the layers now. He looks at her with the love and adoration he has for her too, just to make it all the worse. “I love you, Risa! And know that you can leave me…” Just ignore the slight strain to his voice in offering that. “Just know… I don’t want to be deceived —” NOPE. Wrong words. He crushes that swiftly enough and sighs, raggedly, the fight waning out of him. “I’m not around much. I remember what weyrlinghood is like and…” Maybe he fears replacement. They’re both riders now but she’s undergoing an experience of a lifetime that he is on the other side of already. Bonds form. He gets that but it doesn’t stop the jealousy despite the illogical reasoning. K’vir shakes his head again, taking a small step back. “I’m sorry.” Shame and guilt. He won’t look her long in the eye either.

“Or what, Kyzen?” WHAT IS HE GONNA DO? He won’t even push her. See how very unafraid Risali is? Very. K’vir can try to shake Risali off, but the weyrling continues to advance until – “Calisi was a flight,” Risali bites the words out, as if clear enunciation will lend clarity to the distinction in her mind. “You wanted Bethari.” And there it is, the first hint of crumbling, when Risali looks, for one fleeting moment, helpless, as if she isn’t sure what she is doing here or why, or how it even got to this point; it’s the moment when words lose their emphatic strength and come out a strained whisper of sound, so very unlike the I-Will-Not-Be-Broken harper that speaks them, forming around the echoes of her own hurt. “You wanted her when there was already an us, Kyzen. And I can’t even hate you for it, because she is beautiful, and because I told you that you could be with any woman you wanted to be with.” And nevermind Sharaza. Sharaza was used as intended: a probable low blow to communicate he has friends of the opposite gender, why can’t she? Though it seems the point was missed, due to Risali’s inability to elucidate in the face of her own mounting fury. What Risali did not anticipate was K’vir saying words that leave Risali feeling both insulted and absolutely mutinous. It’s what gives him the advantage when he advances on her, her floundering inability to compartmentalize her own feelings until he’s there and too-late Risali is taking half a step back. It’s a stumble, corrected when K’vir grabs her tiny frame to crush against his much larger body. There’s a furious protest in there, muffled against K’vir’s sternum as she struggles against him and then - oh. Oh, but he kisses her, and ineffectual hands that were making half-hearted attempts to push him away fist into the lapels of his jacket so that she can pull him closer. Fingers scour over K’vir’s shoulders to the back of his neck, catching in his hair to twist as she bends her body into his, near-frantic in the way she finds his mouth with teeth, and lips, and tongue until - back. There’s space between them again, space in which she cries, honest to Faranth cries while he speaks and - SLAP. Risali is bringing her hand down on K’vir’s cheek, unless he stops her. “Deceived,” she spits out, so much venom in one word. “DECEIVED?! You think I’m CHEATING ON YOU?” He might take a step back, but Risali isn’t giving him even an inch of space in which he can retreat. “I am not your werymate, Kyzenviro. And we would not be having this conversation if he was a woman. TELL ME I AM WRONG. TELL ME.” A beat, and then, “I. LOVE. YOU, you STUPID, IDIOTIC BRONZERIDER. Faranth help me, but I love you.” Another sob, and Risali is stepping back, blinking through tears to look at her hands. “I look at you and I’m home, Kyzenviro. You are… my home. And you don’t even trust me.” It’s a stark accusation, one that carries too much weight, belied by a wealth of immeasurable pain even though it’s a mere whisper of words.

“What? WHERE did you get that idea, that I was chasing Bethari, while being with you?” K’vir’s voice raises again, cheeks flushed and eyes narrowing, but there’s a definite note of genuine confusion tossed into the grand mess of things. “Yeah, I wanted her once but I’ve always loved and desired YOU!” A harsh spoken counter to her argument but it’s genuine. Every last bit of it. He completely deserves that slap to the face too and though it staggers him a bit, it DOES snap some sense into that stupid, young head of his. It’s almost as effective as the sight of her crying. Now K’vir feels even WORSE than before and lower than dirt. He looks stung too, when she flatout tells him that she’s not his weyrmate… and maybe there lies the issue. HE’D been seeing them as such. “It’s just…” he begins lamely, not quite sure what brought him to this level. Regret is in his eyes and bleeds into his words. “I… You don’t know how it looked, Risa! I thought…” Wrong. He was SO WRONG! And now he might pay for it — big time. “Risa, I’m sorry.” He means it too. Even if he’s all MIXED UP now and not quite sure what to do. Except apologize, like the fool he is. “I DO trust you! I do! I just…” He keeps faltering on that and makes a frustrated, almost wounded sound. “I don’t know! I just saw what I saw and… and I didn’t know what to think…” Realizing he’s only making a bigger mess of things and despite Risali having SLAPPED him, K’vir tries to reach for her. Even if he just firmly grips her hands or her arms (or keeps her from scratching his face off)… it doesn’t matter. It’s contact, with her. Connection. “You’re my everything, Risa.” And he’s sorry he hurt her. He can’t quite say the words, as they stick in his throat but it’ll come through in the look he gives her. Please understand? Though HE will understand if she hates him a little right now. Boldly, he’ll try to brush away some of her tears and then he can’t handle it anymore, seeing her like this. “I’ll go.” She needs to calm down, after all, before Leirith wakes up.

Strength. Risali has it in spades, and she exhibits her command over it now. Where did she get the idea, indeed, about Bethari and K’vir? Instead of answering, Risali’s whispering, “It doesn’t feel good, does it, being accused of things you aren’t doing.” But K’vir’s second words make her flinch, and while there’s no broken sounds coming from her throat, or a keening of sorrow, and hurt, and emotion she can’t quite suppress, there are tears. Risali presses the heels of her palms to her eyes in annoyance, an attempt to dam the evidence of pain, failing spectacularly, defaulting back to anger in agitation when she’s unsuccessful and deflecting by biting out, “You. Are. A. LIAR.” And oh, she looks up just in time to see that face and there’s another part of her that breaks; Risali can feel it, clamoring for dominance, that broken, quiet need to fix things, but Risali catches the emotion by curling one hand into a fist, and that resolve of fury returns, bringing with it accusations. “Don’t you make that face. I asked you what we had and you said you didn’t have a weyrmate.” And, well… despite the length of time that’d passed between that conversation in the hot springs and now, there’d never been any official rectification as to the standing of their relationship. He was hers, and she was his; it had always been as simple and uncomplicated as that, with K’vir being free to do as he wished (though nothing ever came of it). BUT APPARENTLY NOT RISA (JK, LOW BLOW, SHOTS FIRED). “You are implying that I am a whore, and you’re sorry?” Okay, so maybe she’s a little strong on the wording there, but you get the point. “You didn’t know what you saw, so instead of saying, ‘Risali, who is that? What is between you?’ you start with, ‘I still love you,’ and, ‘I saw you getting close and snuggly and pawing at him?!” And there K’vir is, in her space, and she doesn’t back away or fight him off; instead, he says something exactly right, and so she stays. She endures the hands wiping away her tears, but grey eyes are locked on blue with muted rage, and hurt and – ‘I’ll go.’ Two small, insignificant words. One, two, three, and Risali whispers, “Then go.” She will come around. For now? She has a dragon beginning to stir in her mind, and she’s schooling her emotions. But she will wait, in the snow, hating to watch K’vir leave, but loving to watch him go (IF U KNO WUT I MEAN).

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