I'd Choose Prison

Ista Weyr - Prison Cell (This is part of an Istan TP)

Separated by a stone wall from the barracks, way at the back, with only a narrow archway as the exit in and out, is the prison cells of Ista Weyr. The cavern can be clammy when it gets really crowded or cool on otherwise empty days with its location deep in the mountain. The prisons are all made of thick metal bars fitted deep into the natural rock of the Weyr, deep and impossible to remove, and then separated by more bars in between to make for individual cells. Each cell is then decorated with a half-filled straw mattress on a low wooden pallet for a cot and a chamber pot hidden under it for the occupant's use.

Shorynia has been there with bread and water for the prisoners and discussed many things from the reasons they are there to drunken revelry and kilts. She’s noticed the bruise on Thea’s cheek and that the weyrwoman appears pale and tired. She has just mentioned she’s going to have a word with Weyrwoman Ysa about this.
(Continuation of Not in Xanadu Anymore)

Thea lifts her head quickly, "No!" She modulates her voice hastily, "Don't bother the Weyrwoman with it. I'm fine." She darts the tip of her tongue out moistening her lips, "Listen, Shorynia. My friend is fi- is not in danger. I just want to know how the people are. Generally, you know? Want to know if we can send supplies." She watches the girl leave before dropping her head back on her arms. The cell is quiet finally. She's still sitting up against the shared bars of the cell. Without lifting it she says quielty, "Sigam. I'm sorry." It comes out a little muffled.

"Nice to know somebody does," Sigam says with a wave for the departing Shorynia. He almost looks a little sad that she's leaving, but a tired look has replaced the overbearingly flirtatious one in his eyes. The Dragonhealer finally sinks to the ground again, shirt squeaking along the bars, hands pulling his legs into a crossed position when he finally gets there. He seems intent to pay little mind to Thea's words - they don't concern him - but the muffled name and apology causes him to turn and eye her. His mouth opens as if to ask just what she's sorry for, but thinks better of it. "It's alright." An awkward silence hangs for a moment before he clears his throat and says, "How's the eye?"

Thea lifts her head, swivels, pulls her hair back giving Sigam a clear view of her face. "My eye is fine, see?" And indeed the bruise is only on the cheekbone. She drops her hair, lowers her arm. "I have no idea what I hit it on when Ph'lip shoved me up on top of that dragon of his." Her mouth quirk in a wry sort of smile, "I think he's got the harness reinforced with some kind of metal between the leathers." She leans back on that arm, stretching her legs, tilts him a curious look, "Are you always like that?" She waves a hand to the spot where Shorynia stood and then in his general direction. There's no censure, not one hint of irritation in her tone, simply curiosity as she waits to hear, if he chooses to answer her.

"You know what I meant," Sigam says with a roll of his eyes, smiling slightly. He does narrow his gaze to assess the bruise, but he seems satisfied that she hasn't absolutely broken her face by the time her hair lowers again. "I wouldn't be surprised. I'm just glad you didn't get that from him. D'son would've killed me if I'd done anything to the guy." His gaze flicks towards the Weyrleader only briefly. "Like…? Oh, that." Sigam follows her gaze towards the exit, shoulders rising and falling. "Not always, but it doesn't hurt to have someone that likes you on the outside when you're in an… awkward situation." He pauses for a second, then angles his head back to Thea. "Sorry if it bothered you."

"I did not mistake eye for cheek, no. Um no." Thea smiles back before she sobers, "Yeah, probably right. Well, D'son wouldn't have -killed- you, but-" This time her eyes twinkle at him just a bit, "I know what you meant." She ponders for a moment or two, studies the tip of her booted toe as tiny wrinkles of concentration form on her forehead, "Sigam," her eyes remain on that spot as she talks, "I'm glad you are so loyal to your Weyr, but what I did yesterday was partly for personal reasons. I'm glad you didn't do anything to him. I'm tough enough." She looks up at him, pausing to blink at the door. "Oh. The flirting? Nono. I didn't mean that at all! That didn't bother me." She shrugs carefully, before looking back at him, "I meant…are you always -on- like that?" She smiles at him in a sort of bemused way, "Not sure how to put it." A finger taps the floor as she thinks, "Hyper-on-the-go funny. Doesn't it ever tire you?"

Sigam can't help but laugh, choosing that over yet another round of raspberries for the weyrwoman. "I'd make a joke about not being good with human anatomy, but you'd flip that back in my face," he says wryly, remaining quiet as she ponders. "Personal… Shards, Thea, I didn't want to deck him one 'til he started roughing you around. If that's not personal too, I don't know what is." His voice gets rapidly quieter until the last words are naught but a mumble. He sighs, and almost fidgets with his fingers. Almost. "Of course you're tough enough - a right scrapper," he agrees after a moment, eyes dancing. "I'm glad," he comments in regard to the flirting, "Because that's hard to control sometimes." He seems almost surprised as the goldrider explains herself, going quiet as if he's actually thinking about it. Then: "Sometimes it does. I can go whole weeks without wanting to talk to anyone, just finding somewhere quiet and picking at a guitar or reading. But my friends at Ierne were always like that - face-paced, quick, witty. I got used to that being the norm."

Thea's mouth hangs open at that, "I… would… not!" She has to laugh at the audacity. "What you're good at is none of my business." Is she blushing? She's blushing! But he's speaking and she's peering at him listening carefully to the words and how he says them, tilting her head questioningly, "But… I'm missing something here. I think most wing members would defend each other in that sort of situation and he didn't rough me up that badly?" He answers her other question and she nods, "I'm glad you're able to be serious sometimes. I was beginning to worry about you a little bit." She flashes him a sidelong look and a small grin, "I'd almost say jail gets you going as much as booze." There's a moment where she almost doesn't say it, she starts, then stops. Finally, "I'm glad you can laugh too, Sigam." She looks away. "I… need to learn how to do that again."

Well, then, I'm disappointed," Sigam cajoles, laughter ringing in his voice. "I certainly would jump all over such an opportunity." A sideways peek reveals her blush to him, but, perhaps wisely, he chooses not to comment. He's definitely smirking though. "He didn't," is the eventual agreement from the Dragonhealer, "but he could have." Any other implications he had are whisked away with a shrug, suddenly thinking better of it. "Worry about me? Naw. You've seen me about as seroius as I get, Thea," he says with a bob of his head, lip slipping between his teeth so he can bite at it. His fingers are wedged between his knees as he returns her sideways look with one of his own. "Ha! Nah, it's not the jail, or the booze - it's the company I keep," he admits, eyebrows raising. "I have a good idea of what I can get away with around who. I try not to step out of line, most of the time." He looks like he's about to say more, but her words still him, and for a moment, he looks genuinely saddened. "Laughing's like riding a dragon, silly," he says, turning around so he's kneeling in front of the bars that separate them, rather than leaning his back against them. "Sometimes you fall off, and it really hurts, but instead of letting it get you down, you gotta just scramble right back up… 'Cause in the end, flying through the sky just once is worth dozens of falls." No, he doesn't know where that analogy came from either. Shut up! Don't judge me!

'Thea snorts at the cajolery, "Sure you are." She shakes her head, not taking him seriously for one moment, "I'd bet there's dozens of tavern wenches out to make that a short-lived disappointment for you. She doesn't press for any further explanation of Ph'lip's treatment of her, but by the expression on her face she know when she's being dodged. She looks thoughtful, but he's speaking again, "True I have but you know? I've only ever seen you that way once, so." She shrugs adding, "All the rest of the times you've been… ah… like the old Terran saying, the live wire." When he turns around to lean on the bars she tips her head to listen, considering carefully what he says. She doesn't ask where he got that analogy and she doesn't laugh. For a long time she is silent, her eyes lower to stare as something unseen far beyond the walls of the prison. "It was worth it," she says softly at last, "But sometimes that 'just once' changes the sky forevermore afterwards."'.

Sigam does crack a smile, but he's quicker to roll his eyes, a great sweeping gesture that takes in the whole of the prison's ceiling. "Contrary to the image I project with my flirting, I don't actually pounce on every cute thing that sashays past my nose, you know. I'm picky," The Dragonhealer notes with a snobbish lifting of his chin. It would be so much more effective if he weren't fighting not to laugh… Regardless, he's glad she isn't pushing the subject of Ph'lip, and settles more comfortably into a criss-cross position on the floor. "I guess you have a point. I just don't like to show a serious face too often. I don't want people to get the impression that I'm stuck up or overtly rude. A reputation once tarnished is hard to buffer again." He's trying hard to exemplify that now, but the smile is as fleeting as the teasing sparkle in his eyes, draining away with each passing second. "Yeah. I know. The question is, will it keep you from flying?" Dark eyes are peering earnestly in an attempt to capture a glimpse of hers.

'Oh really?" Thea asks, and there's a laughing disbelief there in her tone. She adds, dryly, "Well, half of Pern's cute female population is safe then." She watches that nose-lift with a little head-shake and a half-grin. "Pre-planning your reputation. Hmm. Interesting approach to life. I never thought about it. I'm just me." She shrugs pausing to consider it further, "I've never really cared about what others thought, just wanted to be true, you know?" She shrugs, "I'd never have made a Harper or a diplomat, I guess. I can't put on a false gaiety. It seems to work for you, though? Hmm I must seem an awful snob then." She can no longer sit on the hard stone floor, but instead of heading over to that straw mattress on the pallet, she stretches out on her back right where she is, pillowing her head on her hands. His last question to her does not have her glancing away, she looks back for a long time with the pale green of her eyes gone hazy and far away as she thinks before refocusing on his, "I don't know." The words are so faintly spoken that there almost seems no breath left in her to form them.'.

Half?," Sigam asks incredulously, but his eyes suddenly squint, fingers pulling out to waggle as if he's ticking numbers off in his brain. "Yes, okay, half," he nods, not at all serious. "Sometimes, I have to wonder if you're not in the right. Sometimes it would be easier to just project the real things that I'm feeling… but making people smile and laugh lifts me up further than you can imagine, and I find that I prefer that. Their happiness means more to me than whatever I happen to be feeling. It's not that I put the needs of others before mine, but it's like…" His jaw works for a moment, but he can't seem to find the right words, so he gives up on that train of thought. "I'd never be able to be a Harper, and I doubt I'd make a very good diplomat - I think I proved yesterday that I can get too emotionally involved - but it does help me in my line of work." He blinks, surprised. "I think no such thing. You're… different, in this respect somehow." He shrugs, showing he doesn't know how to explain that. The Dragonhealer follows Thea with his eyes, appearing content to stay where he is for the moment, but when she speaks so low that he can barely hear, he shifts to the balls of his feet and crawls along the bars until he's across from her, eyes heavy with concern. He inhales sharply, hesistates, and then says, simply, "Okay." No judgement, no prodding for more, just… okay.

Thea snorts a whoosh of air through her nose, a gentle laugh at Sigam's recalculating the numbers as she watches him through her eyelashes. As the cells are still quiet, the odd K'nan silent and apparently sleeping, she is relaxed perhaps more than she has been since they arrived in this place, "I can see that you do." She smiles, "It's a gift I do not have." She hrms to herself as he mentiones getting emotionally involved the past day, but she doesn't comment. Instead she chuckles, "Not snobby, just different." She waves it away, not really concerned about it. When he crawls down the bars to be even with her eyes, she turns her head to watch him. She waits for a moment, hesitating to ask, but then, "Sigam? What about you? After four Turns…" She lets it trail off.'.

A gift and a curse!" Sigam exclaims with a chuckle, a hand reaching up to frazzle his hair in remembered vexation. "But mostly a gift, yes." One brow quirks up at her chuckle, lips pursing in a half-pout. Despite the wave, he rocks back on his heels, saying, "The standards I hold for myself are dramatically higher than the ones I apply to others, in general. I expect a lot more out of me, usually." Again he flops into a more tolerable position, arms bracing on his knees as he rests his chin on his clasped hands. His gaze remains locked with Thea's, emotions running rampant in them as he considers his answer carefully. "Do you remember the day we met? You took Cenlia, M'nol, and I up to the Yokohama, to the bridge. The first thing you see when you walk out of there is the view. I'm sure you already know that, but that view, this planet, those stars, all of this is just so beautiful," he says earnestly, emphasizing the last two words with slow, careful precision that indicates, if nothing else, his complete awe. "I'm not even a rider and I know that I wouldn't give up flying for any of it."

'Don't we all do that?" Thea says it with a slightly wry twist of the lips, "We are often harder on ourselves than we are on other folks too." She sits up for a minute, removes her flight jacket, balls it up and reclines back upon the stone floor shoving the jacket underneath her head, her dark hair spilling around her head on the stone. She turns it to see him better. She nods, "I remember." She listens, her eyes remain steadily watching him and as he speaks emotion wells up in hers, deep loss vies with remembered awe and she whispers, "Seeing that for the first time was wonderful, but for all that, it was merely the third best gift I ever had in my life." She blinks, but cannot quite keep the tears contained. They are ignored for the present, "The second best gift was to see the wonder and unveiled heart soul and mind of a person I love. The best gift of all was that he loved me and that he let me love him back." She stops to swallow, "To fly like that… can never be repeated I think." She casts a curious look at him, "Do you never think that way about your lost lady?" The question comes mingled with a silent apology in her eyes.'.

Where she is merely wry, Sigam is humorous, a single eyebrow raised high with the smirk on his face. "Not everyone does. Some seem to think that the world owes them something." His eyes flick around the cell as if it proved his point. "We know they are wrong, but delusions of grandeur are easy to come by." The goldrider's words send him into silence for a long, long time, gaze averted out into the darkened corners of the prison cell. "Once you have the taste of love, everything seems cheap. Pointless. You don't know why you liked the tang of expensive wine, or why vacationing in the sun was so important - nothing is quite like how you felt being at their side. I know this. I've felt it, and even though the experience has been rather tainted, well… Call me an optimist, but I'll hold out in the vain hope that I'll feel it again, someday." The intensity has returned to his eyes by the time he looks back to Thea, but it's not entirely directed at her as he says, "I used to, but she doesn't deserve that awe and reverence. Not anymore."

'That's true," Thea concedes, and he manages to draw a smile from her as her eyes follow where his have gone. "At least the food is good and they don't have to cook it?" This said as she glances towards K'nan's cell. Before she can consider the poor woman, she turns back towards Sigam, her eyes picking up the emotions, nuances of his tone, the words. When she speaks it isn't about the pall of former things, "I never knew how empty I was until he came. I never knew a person who thought as deeply as he did. No one ever talked about the 'why' of things or the' what if'. But he did." Her voices takes on an ironic tone, "Not one Rider at Xanadu ever expressed a desire to help make things better for Pern, all they seemed to want to do was get drunk and brawl." The disappointment in her tone ebbs as she adds, "But he did." As she says that last, her eyes return his gaze, and in the depths of the green therein are unvoiced questions, "See, you know the end and can hope. I cannot be sure, as you are, that he is no longer what he was. He was simply the finest man I ever knew." She pauses, "And I'm not really sure I could ever bear knowing that to be no longer true." The silence grows as she finishes, she laces her fingers across her stomach and she wrinkles her nose in afterthought. "Life really shouldn't be this complicated, you know?"'.

Doesn't mean that they deserve it," Sigam notes dryly, but his gaze remains on the bars - he isn't talking about K'nan or any of their other cellmates, but rather, perhaps, the founder of this prison. Or its current owner. His gaze continues to sweep the bars as she speaks, eyes flickering occasionally at her words, but the emotion to go along with seems to be something his face isn't up for sharing. The ensuing dead silence seems to be something the Dragonhealer is willing to foster, pursed lips twitching as myriads of thoughts come and go, but finally, "One of the things you'll learn is that you can't judge everyone based off that one person." An odd look is in Sig's eyes as he meets her questioning gaze. "For one, it isn't fair to everyone else, and two, if you live that way, the only thing you will ever be is disappointed." After a long stare, he blinks, eyes focusing on a spot on her jacket's sleeve rather than on her face. "There /are/ people who think that way, but maybe don't express it, and… if people didn't want to make Pern better, we wouldn't be locked up in this cell right now, would we?" His head ducks as his eyes slide shut, head shaking. "He might still be the same. He might not," Sigam concedes, not knowing himself, and not being able to judge because he simply never knew the man. He lets the silence linger then, stretching like a lazy feline until, with a sarcastic snort, he says, "It shouldn't, but we're very good at making it so."

Thea meets that odd look with questions still in her own eyes. She doesn't look away or protest or argue, but flashes of hurt, indignant denial, perhaps anger chase one another in them for a time although it doesn't show on her face. Those emotions fade, leaving her normally clear green eyes a flat dull moss. She is silent for a long, long time after he finishes speaking and when she does, she says, "You're probably right." It comes out flat and tired-sounding as if she doesn't want him to be. She lifts a foot to kick gently her cell bars on the aisle, her eyes following the movement, "I'm not sure how to find a way out." It's musing aloud, really. Not a question, by the look on her face, she'll be giving it some thought. Something nibbles at the words swirling around in her head as she studies those bars. Her eyes swing back to his, and the far-away look sharpens to the present, "Make Pern a better place." She repeats it slowly. "So lost I never really thought about why you and D'son were there. Thought you were just helping your home folks, you know?" She shakes her head in self-directed chagrin, reaching a hand through the bars towards him. "Sigam, thank you. You're a good friend." She's utterly serious, but a sly twinkle in her eye betrays her before she can withdraw her hand to safety, "And I'm sure you'll be making Pern a better place, one kilt at a time." He'd better know. She needles folks. She isn't a weaver for nothing!

Sigam's eyes, too, follow the motion of her feet, seeming entranced for a long moment. "Experience speaks volumes," is all he has to offer to reluctant admittance, an equally worn smile tilting his face up without a hint of true humor. "I stopped trusting women for a long time, you know, before I realized that I was being selfishly prejudiced. It was a slap in the face, believe you me." The Dragonhealer seems content to fidget with his clothing for a minute, retucking pants into his boots, jerking the seams until they rest just so on his thighs, playing with the wrinkled ends of his shirt before letting himself look up, a bit of a tease in his eyes. "Thea, I'm offended. We wouldn't disobey a Weyrwoman's strict orders for kicks and jollies." Cool hands reach out to clasp around hers, squeezing once before loosening them so she can withdraw it at her leisure. "Thank you, too. It's nice to know I have people like you to-" But whatever he was going to say is lost in an unflattering drop of his jaw. Recovery is quick, mischief lighting his face as an eyebrow attempts to meet his hairline. "If wearing a kilt would make Pern better, you'd never get me out of one," he says with a chuckle. "But there are apparently weyrwomen out there with no appreciation for the fashion, so alas. I'll have to find another way to improve upon this great rock." He removes one hand to snap his fingers in an 'oh darn' gesture.

Thea leaves her hand rest for a moment, then gently pulls it away. That thought process having already begun for her, “I don’t suppose it’s only matter of trust, but of finding that rare person who fits.” It is a simple statement, but by the look on her face, she knows it’s a complex matter. She sighs, her eyes drift to stare for a few long minutes not at, but as if through the ceiling. Her lips form a soundless word, then she pushes herself up from the floor, bends to gather her flight jacket. She stands for a moment, head bent, one finger lightly taps one of the bars. “I think I’d live here gladly if it meant he’d come back to me one day.” Pained green eyes shift from that bar to her friend, settled resignation mingled with despair as her finger points through the bars to the corridor outside her cell, “For a person to be free, they must choose to walk out.” She turns to walk towards her pallet. “I’m choosing to wait.”

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