Xanadu Weyr - Deep Forest
The wooded areas closer to Xanadu Weyr represent a compromise between man and mother nature, but to the north and west, no such arrangements have been made. The deep woods between the Weyr and the mountains are less traveled, the wider paths fit for man and beast less present. The noises of mankind are barely audible here, brief ghosts on the wind, and the quiet thrum of forest life presses in on all sides. The snapping of a twig, a bird's cry, the low cadence of insects; all of these things seem louder. Closer. The deeper one moves into the trees, the more it becomes obvious that one passes through nature only at her allowance.
The cover of trees is more severe in this area of the wood and only occasional shafts of sunlight lance down through the canopy, the sky visible in brief patches. A rough path has been blazed back towards the Weyr. It does not appear to be a heavily frequented path, but the few who have chosen to pass through this area appear to use it more than other avenues available. Only the very foolish or the very experienced would ever wander far from the path.

IT IS SUMMER, AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS, RIGHT? Neither do we, but if we had to guess, it'd probably be something akin to SUNSHINE, and ADVENTURES, and ROADTRIPS. Risali doesn't exactly have the luxury of being able to experience all of those things at leisure, not without a whole lot of planning for it well in advance, but even being the Senior Weyrwoman doesn't stop Risali from having a few days off here and there. You know. Even if the 'days off' mean she's still On Call in the event that something goes spectacularly sideways and refuses to wait for normal business hours to be corrected. BUT SHE HAS THE ILLUSION OF FREEDOM, AND THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. Which is today. Today is one of those days off, and today, Risali is opting for adventure. She's tucked herself away in clothes better suited to trekking the forest and, after having found a good spot canopied and secluded (and only a little anxiety-inducing (LISTEN, she STILL RELIVES THE TRAUMA OF PAST EXPERIENCES; the forest has become an Uncomfortable Place To Be Alone now, even if she's stubborn enough to refuse to let it be an Uncomfortable Place To Be Alone because this is Risa and she won't be daunted or cowed)), sent D'lei a letter. By D'lei we mean Garouth, and by a letter, we mean Leirith, WHICH IS TO SAY, that bombastic, brilliant, effervescent monstrosity of a queen is sunbright cheer and over-enthused drums when she crashes into Garouth's shadows without an inkling of grace. « WE HAVE MADE A MAP. » It's as crudely drawn as one can imagine it to be, the mindvoice equivalent of a child's scrawl in crayon on paper as X marks the spot. « WILL YOURS COME TO FIND MINE? SHE IS KIND OF DISAPPOINTING, SO WE WOULDN'T REALLY HOLD IT AGAINST HIM IF NOT. » And listen, D'lei probably has better things to be doing than joining Risali for MYSTERY REASONS in MYSTERY PORTIONS of the forest, but fight her. Risali, in the meantime, is busying herself with uncovering… building material? …MAYBE.

« I have heard, » Garouth says with the ripple of shadows like water surrounding the mental CANNONBALL that is Leirith, « that such maps often lead to treasure. » Admittedly, Pern hasn't had nearly as much of the sort of piracy that leads to such stashes, but hey, it's still in the shared consciousness, it counts. And there have definitely been small children having adventuresome treasure hunts. So, again, it counts, and Risali is - « Often, there are perils along the way. » See, Garouth is a wise dragon. He understands these things. « Struggles to overcome, and difficulties that may defeat the unwary. » A shiver of shadows, curving into a pair of jaws that snap down with a crack of distant lightning before they dissolve into the shadow-rumble of lightning. « It may even be a trap. » So, what we're saying here, is that someone with sense would probably keep away and avoid the inevitable disappointment of either not finding anyone… or just finding a disappointment. Which, conversely, helps explain why it's not that long at all before a D'lei makes his own appearance. He heralds his presence with a vaguely-hummed tune, paused at intervals as he listens to his surroundings in an attempt to figure out whether he's even anywhere near the right place or whether he's just about to be swarmed by territory-hungry avians or flesh-hungry felines.

Leirith is warm, is constant, is pure, unadulterated affection without limits, without expectation, without bounds. That only expands when Garouth's mind bleeds back into hers. Laughter bubbles over, chases after thunder with points of light that flicker and shimmer and go back out to complement his shadows as she listens. « Any adventure worth having is only worth having if there are perils, and struggles, and difficulties. » HOW ELSE IS ONE TO PROVE THEY ARE A BADASS, HMM, GAROUTH? As for the trap, well… light turn into a flurry of feathers, falling like raindrops that trap the sudden flood of her dancers in their deceiving confines. « It is always a trap, my Garouth. » THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO FUN. And while she laughs, while she enjoys those implications of DANGER and CUNNING that D'lei is SURELY TO FACE, Risali is… less the territorial avian and flesh-hungry feline (though, we suppose, that depends on who you ask) than Leirith is painting her out to be. BUT IT'S PROBABLY NOT THAT FAR OFF. See, Risali knows D'lei is coming because, despite the movement of material and unpacking and putting her hands on her hips to glower down at wood and boards as if this might inspire them to take an aesthetically pleasing (if not at least functional) shape, it's quiet. It's quiet enough for her to hear that shift in the atmosphere, to hear feet on the path, to hear humming that would be appreciated on any other occasion if only because it spares Risali from having to spit out threats when he, inevitably, startles her. BUT NOT TODAY. Today, Risali's body goes still, and then loosens as she sneaks as quietly as she can to HIDE HERSELF AWAY FROM D'LEI. O LAWD, SHE COMIN'. It's probably fine. What's less fine is how she waits to jump out at him, fully aware that this might land her on the winning end of a bruise or five, but wholly willing to take the risk as she leaps from behind and onto him with what we can ONLY CALL LAUGHTER. Yep. It was definitely a trap. FIGHT HER!

Feathers spawn a battle of hawks and crows, beaks and talons tearing and rending alongside a cawing that dances in and out of laughter at the chaos. It's a trap, yes, but of whom? ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT. So a tangle of vines reaching up, shadow-tendrils that coil around fighting avians and drag them under, enveloping them as more tendrils chase up, up, explode into fireworks and streamers of multicolored ribbon and bunted fabric, a profusion of bright-hued feathers like confetti as Garouth laughs. « As it should be. » Peril and struggle? That's just where a shadowbeast (and his rider) belong! So D'lei walks right into the trap, because he followed the bait (ie, those woody thumps of attempted construction) without being wary enough to realize that their cessation wasn't just a pause to think through thorny questions of deepwoods architecture. He comes upon the scene! A partial structure, or at least, something that he can pretend is an attempt toward it. Look, you've seen his weyr, right? HE AIN'T GOT ROOM TO COMPLAIN. He ain't got much room to linger on that sight, either, because - like the wild feline from her pounce - RISALI STRIKES. D'lei draws in a breath, half-turns as some combination of snapped twigs and that glimpse of motion makes his body start to sink into a crouch… not that it gets all the way there. There's enough recognition that he doesn't go for any of the very rude forms of self-defense, but instincts still take over enough that - as she hits him - his body twists against hers, knowing that he's falling to the ground (leaves and branches and rocks) but also hooking a leg against hers, shoving one shoulder forward as the other one goes back to reduce his impact by turning it into a roll… or passing it on to her. One of these days, these two are going to need a very awkward airlift from a very awkward position, and half of Pern will roll their eyes and/or sigh at it. Is that day today? MAYBE.

AS IT WILL ALWAYS BE, as Leirith will always be drawn to those creatures borne of Garouth's mind, as she will always be drawn to his shadows and forests and the very beast that dwells within them if only because he is Garouth and neither time nor a distinct failing when it comes to remembering anything will take that sense of his importance from her. So she laughs too, catches firework ribbons to spin herself in, to dress those masked dancers with just as Risali meets with MINOR SUCCESS and then ABJECT FAILURE. There's a squeak emitted the moment she realizes her world is about to look very different, when hands scramble to catch in the fabric of D'lei's clothes and then she doesn't really know what happened. One moment she was standing up, the next she finds herself becoming painfully acquainted with the forest floor as breath is forced from her lungs and she, for just a moment, blinks up. And then she's laughing, body shifting with it, hands coming over her mouth as if she might stifle that errant humor as grey eyes jump to find D'lei. "I'm sorry," comes breathless, around lips pulled in too wide of a smile, preceding a hard swallow that does nothing to remedy the bubbling of laughter that chases it. She isn't sorry at all. She enjoyed it ENTIRELY TOO MUCH, but since she's down here on the ground now (where it's not exactly comfortable, but certainly not UNcomfortable), she throws one arm up over her head, crooked at the elbow, and allows her eyes to drift upward, up towards the reaching fingers of trees as the extend towards each other and blanket them from Rukbat's sturdy regard. Breathe, Risali. "Were you busy?" comes then, as Risali's eyes drop back to find D'lei and her nose scrunches up — half humor, half apology, something entirely unrepentant in a way that Risali always seems to manage to be, rife with mischief.

"Are not," D'lei retorts, with a grin that he follows up with a push of his face past her hands and a kiss that's as firm as it is brief… and it is brief, because his lungs are not exactly as full on oxygen as they'd like to be, after that impact, and while some people might - in the heat of passion - claim that love is as important as breathing actually no it isn't. Not for more than a second or three at a time, anyhow. That grin's still there after, though, and then he, too, flops himself to lounge against the forest floor in a way that attempts to maximize the relatively-soft pine-needles and dry-leaves and minimize the number of rocks jabbing at his unprotected flesh. "I was sanding the new railing," he answers her question… which is to say, kind of, but not with anything that can't wait, even if there's also a sort of impatience to get it all handled… but the reasons for that impatience are, in large part, the same ones that also called him out here, so… he's not particularly upset at the delays. Having a non-wrecked home is important, sure, but… SO IS THIS. "…we should weave pine-boughs through it, once it's ready," he says, as his eyes fall on that pattern of the trees above them. "Bring the forest back inside."

Risali's answer to that accusation is even more laughter because D'lei is right, she's not. She's not even a little bit sorry. What Risali is is a woman about to experience the other sometimes-it-can-definitely-be-true thing that people say about love: it can take your breath away. D'lei diminishes that distance between them until Risa's lungs catch, presses his lips against hers and steals her breath more surely than even her tumble and collision into the earth did. She doesn't want him to go, doesn't want him to stop. She presses up into that contact, hand rising as if she means to tangle fingers in his hair and trap him there, but D'lei moves and Risali lets him go. She's flush, unfocused, unsteady, but she lets him go. Instead, she takes a moment to listen and remember how to breathe, to slow the frantic heartbeat against her chest as D'lei speaks. "We should," comes finally, a little too breathless. Risali rolls towards him then, onto her side (with a soft grimace, but undeterred nonetheless) with one arm tucking beneath her head while the other hand finds its way onto his chest and curls fingers into fabric just over her heart. "I'm sorry," comes with more sincerity this time. "I'll come and help you finish it, if you want the help, after." Or, you know, SHE WILL COME AND MAKE IT WORSE, but one can only ever learn by doing — and Risali, for all her shortcomings, can pick up on physically tasking demands pretty damn quick. THAT ASIDE, she's leaning forward to press a kiss against D'lei's jaw, and then exhaling, "The kids wanted to make a camp, but they wanted it to be something more permanent and something we could come to find without having to do too much set up." A beat, as Risali flings out an arm to gesture to her BUILDING SUPPLIES. "And since they all made really, really cute eyes at me for there to be some kind of semi-permanent fort in the woods, I'm making eyes at you to help me make that happen. And then maybe to camp with us." BECAUSE FIRES, AND MARSHMALLOWS, AND FORTS. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

D'lei grins, and nods, because - let's be honest - it's hard to do sanding wrong. Insufficiently? Yes. Scraping your own knuckles in the process? Frequently. But actually causing problems is hard, and it's even harder to cause problems bad enough that they can't be fixed with even more sanding… or an extra coat of primer. "Yeah." Risali can help. She will help. (Maybe that was the bonus extra trap-within-the-trap?) But for now, they're here, in a forest that is wholly that instead of the transformation of a home into it, where the trees are grown from seeds instead of the shadows of Garouth's mind, where… Risali leans in, and kisses at D'lei's jaw, and his mouth curves in a bright grin as he turns his head to hers, too late to catch lips with lips but close enough to catch the lingering exhale of breath. "Hmmmm," he says, and it's as much the rising anticipation of excitement as it is consideration or acknowledgment of the stated words. A camp, a fort, an adventure-in-waiting in the woods… "It'll want a watchtower," he says, as his eyes shift away from Risali, past her to those supplies. "Up in a treetop. And -" Thoughts, tumbling behind those amber eyes, thinking about construction, affordances, dwellings in a way that's like the work he's been doing with his days and yet not quite, because this isn't a weyr, it's a camp. It's "- not a building. A frame, with hooks to hold canvas sheets, so we can build our tent, change out which sides are walls and where the breeze comes through…"

"Good," comes around another smile. "I can't count a day successful unless I'm distracting you from very important things." AND JUST HOW DOES RISALI PLAN TO DISTRACT D'LEI? With bloody knuckles from sanding too hard, of course. GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER. D'lei might have missed scoring his mouth against hers a second time, but Risali leans in when he does, to press her forehead against his, to close her eyes as if she's envisioning those suggestions that D'lei brings to the table and — "I think that sounds perfect. I was thinking we could build a fire pit, too." Not to appease Leirith or her own need to dance around those unpredictable flames, but because no camp is complete without stories around a campfire, spearing things on sticks whittled down to points and holding them over open flame to roast whatever it is. "The kids also requested a secret hide away from us, because apparently we're gross sometimes, and so I think the watchtower will help eliminate that problem." A beat, as Risali presses a soft kiss to D'lei's lips and then draws back just enough to push herself up into a sitting position, to take in their surroundings and then look up, as if considering which tree might be the best to house not only their children's escape, but their shelter. "I was thinking maybe we could string some rope and tie up jars and put glows inside of them, but…" Maybe that's too complicated? That's what Risali's eyes ask anyway, as she drops them back to D'lei. "What do you think?"

"Of course," D'lei agrees to that firepit, because really, some things are just as fundamental as Risali's need to distract D'lei (or her tendency to be distracted by his mere existence. "We can get some logs around it, for seats." Or backrests, if they want to lounge on the ground. Or impromptu dragons to be vaulted over and climbed upon. Or - and here's the real truth - all of the above. He leans his forehead back to hers - and aren't they both distracting each other, now, from the very important camp construction? - before he laughs at that further demand of their spawn, the complaint that… "Well, they're right enough." He's not so clueless a gross adult that he doesn't realize it, not so far out of touch with his inner child as to not know that parents are sometimes awesome but also parents, and… their children deserve a way to get away. "We could put hooks for internal walls, too. Or maybe a curtain, so if we're being too gross…" Just YANK THAT CURTAIN and hide it from sight. D'lei's head tilts, returning that kiss, and then as Risali sits up he levers himself onto one elbow to look around as well… though she's still doing her distracting job, because his gaze - and smile - is already lingering on her by the time she looks back to him. His head tilts at the proposal, the question… "It'd be easy enough to put up hooks, and string the lantern-ropes as part of setting up camp," he considers, then grins. "Prepare them with a lead-line and pulley, and we could even get the firelizards to string them up." And what child would not be gleeful at watching miniature dragons string up their camp with glowing lights? Especially - "We could use colored lanterns."

Definitely all of the above, to accommodate moods and children and their need to be both still and rambunctious at the exact same time. At least with all of the options, they can alternate between climbing one minute, sitting the next, and invading laps and space and the logs of their siblings to their heart's content. "Yeah." But then D'lei laughs, and Risali's heart flips even as her smile pulls even wider, torn between wanting to hear it again and speaking. In the end, she breathes out, "What I didn't tell them is that they only exist because we decided to be gross." OR DIDN'T, AS SOME FLIGHTS MIGHT ATTEST, but those not-quite-aware-but-still-done-with-consent-on-the-lips moments are few and far between. Which is to say, even if a child or two was conceived at the height of dragonlust, it doesn't really count. BECAUSE THEY HAD PLENTY ENOUGH OPPORTUNITIES OUTSIDE OF THAT FOR CONCEPTION. "I figured I would let you break the news to them." YOU KNOW. LET D'LEI ENDURE THE, 'NOOOOOOOOOO,'S AND THE FEIGNED RETCHING FOR ONCE. And anyway, it's not important. Risali huffs another soft laugh for the idea of internal walls, eyes jumping back to all of that material as if she can see the bones taking shape as D'lei speaks. "That honestly might be the most necessary part of this camp, Dash." Because listen, kids don't always want the prying eyes of their parents on them, and parents CERTAINLY enjoy their own privacy too. "The pulley system would be nice. The kids could use it themselves if they wanted to wander out here on their own." A beat. "Assuming Kyriel and Dari don't join a craft before then." A beat, and then Risali's eyes are back on D'lei. Quieter, with a mixture of pride and something painful, she whispers, "They're growing too fast."

"No need to traumatize them," D'lei replies with a teasing grin, and then… "Noooo. Me? But - I mean -" He makes a face, somewhere in between pouting three-turn-old and scandalized teenager with a heavy dose of amusement that maybe takes away from the effect but is, nonetheless, inextricably a part of this conversation. (And, look. The kids have already been told the ACTUAL FACTS, insofar as they need to know them for the age they are, Risali and D'lei aren't irresponsi- okay, no, can't say that with a straight face, but they have limits, places that are important and where they do have conversations even when they're hard ones. Just like Risali - for all that she's run off into the woods - would actually (with much regret) go back to deal with actual emergencies. But. "…can I at least break out the puppets?" Because you know what makes conversations about the birds and the bees better? (Worse.) PUPPETS. And silly voices. But - more seriously - yes. Walls (even canvas ones) are important, and D'lei nods his agreement to Risali about them, about pulleys, about… "I know." And if there's a bit more pain in his own expression, it's because he missed so much, because the years went by even faster for him and - as much as he loves the children he's met again - he was gone for so much of it. "I've asked Selene if she wants to stay here for the clutch." And that is even more of a wince than the other children, another aspect of growing too fast but also… complicated. "It'd be good for her." Or so he thinks, but he's not the only one who gets a parental opinion there… which, in his own opinion, is part of the problem. But. That's why it's complicated.

Oh Faranth. Not the puppets. Risali's head goes back with laughter at the same time she reaches out to smack D'lei's shoulder. A breath, two, and Risali is half-laughing, "I would be disappointed if you didn't." Give her a minute, because she is laughing again. Probably at the thought of just what that dawning horror would look like on every child's face as they realized what the puppets were for, and what D'lei was about to do. SEE? PARENTING IS FUN, and traumatizing your children (IN THE FUN WAYS) is but one of the many bonuses to watching them learn and teaching them as they grow. But, right, back to those other important things, those harder things that all parents have to face: their children getting older. Risali's smile softens at the pain in D'lei's, fingers coming out to touch gentle at the corners of his lips as if she might take the pain from his expression. But she can't, so she focuses on what she can do, and that's listen. There's surprise, eyes jumping from her hands to find amber, and then Risali's brows furrow inward. "I miss her," comes the soft admittance, rife with the longing of one who loved another like their own and still lost them. "I think it would be good for her too." For many reasons, for so many complicated reasons. "What did she say?"

D'lei has no answer except his grin, but - « I see what you mean. » Which non-sequiter (but really, it's entirely congruous) that Garouth apparently addresses to Leirith but very much says in his public voice (and this is Garouth, creature of subtlety and shadows, so let there be no doubt at all that he knows the difference) only makes D'lei grin all the wider for that moment of joy and fun before… well. It's entwined together, the joy and the pain, but in the conversation they shift from one to the next because there's only so much space in a mind to grapple with such complex ideas. There's the pain of loss, and while D'lei doesn't hide it from Risali, he does offer her a warmth in his smile, that slight wryness of 'I know, and you know, and we know, and here we are' for what is but cannot be changed before they move on to what also is but can - perhaps - still be altered. What is lost, and yet… Well. The corner of D'lei's mouth draws inward with a slight tug. "She said she'd think about it. But…" That tug deepens, drawn like a fish hooked on a line, like the tinge of too much lemon. "I think it's Serena." Not exactly a surprising revelation, perhaps, but. "She's never outright said that she regrets impressing, but…" That doesn't stop D'lei from getting the sense that Serena wants to save her daughter from making those same 'mistakes', and he exhales with a sigh. "She'd rather Selene wanted to be a weaver." Another non-sequiter, at least… if you don't recall Samiryth's mind with its drape of silks and satins, the flutter of fabric and adornments arrayed in fanciful patterns or tucking a child in to sleep.

« That it's always a trap? » comes eddied with laughter, « Or that mine is sorely disappointing? » Risali just huffs a slightly louder, "I can hear you!" for BOTH dragons that ends in Leirith booming even more laughter. But THAT IS ONLY SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT. It's not as important as the look on D'lei's face, or the way Risali shifts just a little bit closer to him, until she's pressed up against the heat of him and partaking of a comfort she, at one point not so long ago in her life, thought was forfeit forever. That's probably why she catches one of his hands in hers, laces their fingers together, and tucks them both between her stomach and her thighs as she leans toward her knees and watches D'lei close. The smile that comes is more a grimace, a pull at the corner of her lips that harbors no humor and banks, guttering out damn near as quickly as it's come. "Serena always did have ideas about the shape of her world and the people who stepped into it, didn't she?" From how romance should be to how messy kids should get. "If Selene comes, will she be staying with us — with you — or would you want her to set up in her own space?" Because Selene is still young, but not so young that she couldn't walk away from her life at home and apprentice herself to a craft or run with knot in hand.

« I am glad to know that your ears are not disappointing. » Not that Risali is actually using her ears, per se, to hear these draconic burns that make Leirith laugh like nobody's business (and make it everyone's business, because that's what she do). « Perhaps that, too, is a trap. » Wheels within schemes! Schemes within traps! Traps within wheels! D'lei, well, he is just staying right out of that (and being amused by it), because - amusing as it is - it is, indeed, only somewhat important. What's more important is that Risali traps his hand, with the tangle of her fingers (his twine back to them) and the tuck of it in against the warmth of body, that she looms closer to him and his other hand reaches to brush, soft like a leaf drifting through the air, and rest in against her side as his lips quirk at her summation of the mother of D'lei's first child. "She did." And when D'lei not just failed to fulfill the role she saw for him, but was unwilling to be a project for her to shape toward it… well. That relationship was contentious long before D'lei's disappearance and return. "I suppose that's up to her, isn't it?" he asks (semi-rhetorically) in answer to Risali's question of where Selene might stay. There's a moment of thought, and then a breakthrough flash of grin. "Serena'd hate it, either way." Her daughter, with her vagabond ruffian father! Her daughter, all alone amid disrepute! "…I'd like it if my weyr was at least an option." Another reason for why he's been moving up the timetable of making things habitable instead of roughing-it.

HOW BADLY DO YOU ACTUALLY NEED YOUR DRAGON, D'LEI? HOW MUCH MURDER IS TOO MUCH MURDER? WE'RE JUST ASKING FOR… FOR US. WE ARE ASKING FOR US. We kid, we kid. Risali laughs, a soft, "It's bad enough when Leirith does it, Garouth," escaping her. But then she's focused on that dragon made of dreams and shadow's rider, on his words and all those complications of a life before even she was involved… and all the things that came after that, too. For D'lei, at least, Risali is still — or, well, as still as she can ever be. It's not until Dash has finished speaking that her own lips pull again, just a hint of some muted emotion at the corners. She nods her head, once. "It is her choice." As it should be. "But I would like that, too. For both of you." Because they could catch up on time lost, because Selene would have a chance to find out who she wanted to be when removed from the rigid expectations of a mother who wants the best, but still wants too much. Because D'lei would have time with the little girl who first made him a father, who maybe couldn't have him in an era of skinned knees and teddy bears, but could have him now, when she was at a pivotal point of growing up and learning how to be herself. Which is probably why Risali's eyes are dragging back to all of that boneless lumber waiting to be touched and then letting out a breath as she makes up her mind and lets D'lei go — but only so that she can rise to her feet. Give her a moment to brush away leaves and foliage and dirt that cling to her pants, and then she's reaching out both hands for D'lei to take, to help him stand if he'll accept her offer of leverage. "Come on, Dash," comes from around a quiet smile. "Those bannisters aren't going to sand themselves." RIGHT? This project, at least, can wait. What's one more promise pushed back, if only temporarily, so that they can fulfil another one? "Maybe you can show me what those puppets know too, when we're done." BECAUSE OF COURSE SHE TRIES TO INJECT LEVITY WITH SOMETHING WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE, even if that look says she's only half joking before her breath is stolen on another huff of laughter. « THIS IS PROBABLY WHAT YOUR MINI-MINIONS MEANT WHEN THEY SAID YOU WERE GROSS. » It's true. It's probably why Risali laughs harder.

"Yeah." There's the quirk of D'lei's lips, the expression of honest desire because it would be nice, but it's not wholly his decision… and yet he can't just stand back, either, because if he doesn't say something, the impressionable young (she's fifteen, she's practically an adult, she's still a baby) person who is his daughter will be handed a future that is a desire for what's best that may not be hers. So. It's complicated, and they're not going to solve it here and now, and so … it's time to move. (Because isn't that how they always answer these unanswerable questions?) So D'lei tucks his hands in Risali's, takes that leverage like a guide-line hooked through a pulley to bring his larger body up to his feet, rocked onto toes and then settled back to heels. His gaze goes to that piled lumber as well, and then… his brows lift, at the same time as his head tilts back at her words. The bannisters? But. The corner of his mouth tugs inward, and he reaches up one hand to touch his fingertips softly to her cheek. "You're important too," he tells her, his words also soft, just a little slow not from hesitation but in order to give them a weight to help sink in. "So are the rest of our kids." And they're the ones who asked for this forest fort, this campsite escape for their adventures. "We can hire a work-team. Let the Weyr take up some of its responsibility." Because, yeah, D'lei wanted to take on the rebuilding project, enjoys the rebuilding project, but some things are more important than giving him a chance to further indulge his hobbies, and family is one of them. It's important, it's serious, and not even terrible jokes about inappropriate felted relations can take that away from him. SORRY RISA. DASH BEIN' EARNEST, HERE.

Risali's laughter gutters out the moment D'lei's fingers are on her cheek, and while that smile doesn't vanish, it does change. It takes on the shape of something complicated but warm, something that's affection, and understanding, and… apology. Grey eyes watch amber for one, two, three moments before Risali turns her lips into D'lei's hand and presses a soft kiss against his palm. "They are important," Risali agrees, "but Selene is mine, too." Not in any way that might force titles, or relationships, or bonds that are unwelcome and unwanted. But Risali has always loved Selene. Selene would always have a place in Risali's heart, and mind, and home whether D'lei falls sick again or not. Which is to say, Risali isn't competing against the young woman that she has, even after turns of forced separation, always loved. "And even if she chooses not to come home, I want her to feel like she can." Now Risali is stepping towards D'lei, sinking into his heat as fingers curl into his shirt. She goes up onto the tips of her toes, chin tipping back as she pulls him closer. "It isn't about making me, or them happy over her. It never will be, but if you asked our children whether they'd rather have this," a gesture towards the skeleton of their soon-to-be camp, "or their sister, they will choose Selene every time. We should still hire a work team, if you really want, and while this is important, this can wait." This doesn't have a finite amount of time in which the demands for it can be fulfilled. "Besides, Dash. They miss you. I miss you. You're giving all of us a chance to come home. What's more important than that?"

D'lei never doubted Risali's love for Selene - nor did he think there was a need to choose, exactly, it's just… well, at some level, certainly, there is a need for that decision, because they're only two people, they can only be in (at most) two places at once, there are only so many hours in a day and days in a week and weeks in a year and those years as their children grow are going so damn fast and - "Okay," D'lei says, and it's not a yielding but it is an assent, an acknowledgment that she's right and - while this is important - the weyr - their weyr - is more so. (And, yes, Risali is the one who pulled him away from that, but there's not even a moment when the thought of blame crosses his mind, because why would it?) D'lei tucks his arms around Risali, curves them around her back as she presses close and draws him closer, and he nods to the fact that this can wait (even if, for every day it waits, those children will be just a little older) and… he laughs softly, not because he's mocking the idea of them missing him, or needing home, but because she's right, and because sometimes when you see the perfect, obvious truth you just need to laugh. So he does, as his head tilts in and he touches his forehead to Risali's, leans it there as their bodies press close together. "We will. And -" One corner of his mouth quirks, a wry tickle of that little selfish clamshell whose grain of sand is insignificant compared to what it'll become. "- we'll get a work team." A grin, as if admitting his own impulses, letting them go, and reminding (himself) that, "There will always be more projects."

Ah. That laugh. It sparks through Risali like electricity, but this isn't the time for that. Risali smiles instead, grey eyes jumping between amber and going softer still for that quirk at the corner of D'lei's mouth. "Only if you want to," she says again, as fingers abandon his shirt to touch at the corner of his mouth then draw inward, across his lips. "But there will definitely be more projects. And time." It's a murmur, a sound half distracted as she tilts until her nose is glancing against his and she's kissing him once more — harder, firmer, lingering for a moment too long while still, somehow, not being long enough. "Thank you," is painted against his lips in a single breath. For coming back. For coming here. For thinking of Selene and all of their children. For thinking of her. "I don't know what I did to deserve you, but I love you, and I'm glad you're here." And then she's taking another breath, this one shuddered as if she's forcing her thoughts and her mind back, away, towards those horizons that are no less complicated but are more important in the interim. Risali drops back to the balls of her feet, smoothes away the wrinkles she's fisted into his shirt and then tucks herself in against his side, under one of his arms, bracing her arm low across his hips and hooking her fingers into belt loops as she smiles up at him. "Ready?" is a whisper, but she waits. He can lead the way home, and Risali will help him tackle at least some of those projects — if only as a distraction sometimes. LAUGHTER COUNTS AS MORAL SUPPORT, and we both know that Risali will press in close and do her best to, if not help, then at least try and keep him happy while he works through it.

D'lei's chin tucks, his lips quirk, and it's an inadequate expression of the fact that he wants to have their weyr filled with family and laughter far more than he wants to have placed every plank and stone of it himself - and he wants that with a desire that's sustained him for a turn of living in a ruin, through winter in a stone tower with no more heating system than a hearth with a leaky chimney. So, yes, he wants it, even if he feels like he should be the one thanking Risali for boosting him up high enough to notice the way the mountain behind the molehill he'd been staring at. Instead, though… she kisses him, and he kisses her back, lips yielding in the way they part and yet responding with equal fervor in the way they press to hers. He breathes her in, as lips part, as the response and sensation is almost enough to make him loose the track of her words… but not quite, because the resonances of her voice draw him in, carried through the almost-touch of lips, the press of chest, the presence of her here in the forest that is still as not-quite-silent and yet silent-enough as it was when he first came here. And maybe Risali doesn't know why, what, how, but that's okay, because D'lei - "I've lost track," he says, because maybe he doesn't know either, and that's as much true for why he has her as the other way around "- if I ever knew." Does it matter? MAYBE NOT, suggests his one-shouldered shrug, the crooked grin in lopsided counterpoint to it. Just because things are complicated, that doesn't mean they can't also be wondrously, gloriously, amazingly and perfectly simple. It just is. So he nods to her question, a single tuck of chin, and - "Let's go." They'll tackle the project of the present, and build the project of their future, and Risali will definitely contribute at least some actual labor and tool-use… as well as being, in herself and with nothing more than who she is, more than half the reason why this weyr will - ever - be rebuilt and thrive.

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License