I Can't Stop the Rain

Continued from Night Rescue

Xanadu Weyr - Deep Forest Waterfall


How could I have possibly missed this? Anyone who frequently travels the deep woods between Xanadu Weyr and the mountains to the west might ask themselves that question upon stumbling onto this place for the first time. A waterfall, easily a hundred feet tall, dominates the immediate area, commanding attention. Like something from a storybook, it stands before you, flanked on either side by sentinel trees and mountain brush mired in stone-spotted soil. Water cascades over a beaten rock face at its peak, flowing down in a white-capped torrent to crash into a small, crystal clear pond below.

Not content to remain where it is, the pond appears to have carved a great trench into the earth, through which a stream now flows, traveling further west towards a massive rock wall in the distance. The stream bisects the area, and a narrow point some 30 feet away from the pond itself makes for an easy jump to the other side. The shore around the pond's immediate edge appears to be mostly soil and large slabs of rock, but that gives way to a grass field after only a few feet, a touch that gives the entire area an idyllic feel. The air is fresh and clean with the bite of cool mountain water and the tang of forest life. It is alive, this place.

The trip to the Infirmary is quiet and quick thanks to Seryth's strange and mysterious jump from one point to another. Stormhaven vanishes from beneath then, replaced after several moments of silent agony with the grounds in front of the Infirmary proper. Tenebrous' arms around Thea are tight, trying desperately not to squeeze, and every muscle in them is corded tightly with unspoken strain. Behind her, his breathing is ragged, but Seryth's gentle crooning and some deeper reserve of will have kept him whole this time, rather than breaking his mind the way it did the last trip. His effort of control is clearly felt as he slowly unwinds his arms from her body and releases himself from the harnesses. "Ok," he breaths. "Let's…not do this again…"

The greeting from the Infirmary is somber and quiet. General and trauma specialists flood out of the Infirmary like ants, some seeing to Seryth herself and others helping Tenebrous gently lower Thea from Seryth's back. "There are others on the way with injuries," he says grimly. "Not as severe, but I want them seen to with equal ferve." Any shyness, any uncomfortability that once shadowed Tenebrous' mind is gone as he holds the Junior Weyrwoman in his arms. "I want to know she's stable…but we'll be leaving as soon as you pronounce. I believe you have a note authorizing my wishes." Even as the two of them move towards the Infirmary, the door is held open, the building within fully staffed and moving under the ominous brow of Master Fraille

Around one hour later, and much to the objections of several people present, Tenebrous and Thea move right back out of that door, her with a bandage around her head, and he with a pressure compress around his right thigh. He stops in front of Seryth when he sees Phylicia nearby, her hands wrapped and treated as well. There's a brief, verbal exchange between the two before Tenebrous begins strapping Thea in, and soon, the two of them are leaping into the sky atop Seryth's back…

It's cold up there in the night air, but Seryth does not *Between* back to the falls. Instead, her wings stretch and she's reaching for speed as she labors to eat the distance back. It's a smooth ride, save for a bit of grumbling rumbles alternating with persuasive croons. Apparently dragon and Rider are having an inaudible argument, which is not going Seryth's way. Her backwing into the clearing provides as gentle a landing as a creature her size can make, but it's clear the queen is not altogether pleased with something. Thea's quiet for the duration, content to simply rest against Tenebrous, drained by several things, her fall and the clash of wills back at the Infirmary only part of it. Preoccupied, or maybe not as well as she led the healers to believe, she makes no move to undo the buckles upon landing. Seryth simply crouches as low to the ground as possible and waits impatiently for them to dismount.

For some time, Tenebrous makes no move to go anywhere. He just sits there with her on Seryth's back, arms tightly wrapped around her, eyes closed in weariness. The cold winds from the mountain are only slightly broken off by the tree lines that protect Stormhaven itself, and his hair has pulled free of its pins in several places, brushing Thea's face. It's only after several minutes, perhaps even 10 or 15 that he whispers, "I need to get you inside…warmed up. Fed…" But he doesn't move a muscle…

The wind and the havoc it wreaks with her hair has gone unnoticed as it dances about face and shoulders, but at the comment from Tenebrous, Thea stirs, as if returning from a far distant place in her mind, "I probably should have stayed. You shouldn't have to do this." She lifts her head from his shoulder, attempts to sit up, but rocks forward in a clumsy move that has her bracing a hand on the neckridge in front of her. One gloved hand fumbles at the snaps and she manages to get one undone. Beneath them, Seryth's ribs move as the queen inhales, then exhales with an exasperated huff. "No, sorry Seryth, I'm not going back right now. He can-" Whoever and whatever, she means is left unsaid.

Tenebrous snorts once, releasing her slowly as she moves to undo herself from her harness. "You're darn —" One of those arms reaches around her again as she rocks forward before gently letting her go again. "You're darn right, I shouldn't have to do this," he prods gently, a small note of humor in his voice. "I left a perfectly good coil of rope in the woods, wasted the breakfast I was eating, and I'm pretty sure my most likely *former* apprentice is going to need several months of therapy after less than 24 hours of time with me. Oh yeah…and they think my leg's gonna scar." He laughs a little before resting a hand on her shoulder. "Don't you ever, for a single second, doubt that I'd do it again in a heartbeat…"

Thea's head turns over that shoulder to blink at Tenebrous, a half-smile on her lips. "Your former apprentice? Phylicia?" It's a guess only as she frowns slightly, eyes flicker towards the sky, then scan the clearing and she observes, "M'nol didn't bring her back?" Uh oh. His other comments sink in and she's twisting to see his leg. Unsure which, she twists the other way, a wave of dizziness hits, she sways just a bit. The question is sharp, "You're hurt?" Nothing is said aloud, but Seryth moves, rolling carefully onto her side so they are closer to the ground. Still buckled in, they should be fine, although Thea's one buckle undone is enough to have her wavering a bit as they go.

Tenebrous moves one hand up to support Thea as Seryth rolls almost unconsciously. "Yes, Thea. I'm hurt. My leg is hurt, my back is hurt, my ribs are hurt, and I shouldn't have to tell you about my mind." He begins undoing his own straps with his free hand. "If you ask any number of the healers in the Infirmary, I should be in a bed right now, and so should you." Then he smiles a little. "Which explains why we're both out here instead of in there." Then he nods to the waterfall. "Do you think you can walk? I've still got one secret that I haven't shown you…"

Thea unsnaps her final clip, half-falling, half-sliding off of Seryth as he's talking. She nods, "I think so, but.." Her feet find the ground and she's turning to face him, one hand braced against the gold's side as she looks at him with concern, "Aren't you caring for yourself, Healer?" Her head turns towards the falls with a perplexed look. "Another secret?" When they are off, Seryth rolls, regains her feet and angles her head to nudge at her rider none too gently. "No!" Thea's directing that one snapped word to the queen, "Fine go, but not a word to Siebith!" The gold backs away before mutter-grumbling and launching into the air to glide back towards the Weyr.

Tenebrous watches Seryth go with a slight smile on his face before turning back to face Thea. "I haven't cared for myself much in sixteen turns, Thea. Even Master Fraille knew I wasn't going to start while you were injured…" He starts over to the waterfall, murmuring, "We all have secrets." If he's thinking anything about Siebith or Thea's behavior, he keeps it to himself. "Place your hands here and here," he offers over his shoulder, climbing about a foot up on the rock wall. Then, slowly, he inches over on a narrow shelf, disappearing under the falls themselves.

Thea follows Tenebrous with a half-humorous mutter, "Might want to start, if only because it would help you when you've got to haul erring weyrwomen from icy pits." His comments about secrets earns a glance, though there's no surprise in it. She knows him well enough to know that he has… more to him. The climb takes some effort, fingers turn white as she grips the rocks as she steps where he did. She pauses midway to shut her eyes, simply clinging, her forehead leans against the wet stone, "Be a minute. Dizzy."

Tenebrous is there in an instant, moving back across the rocks to her position. "The alternative is going through the water, but that means you strip down to your skivvies and I warm you up by a fire for the next few hours. While I don't necessarily think that's an unattractive option, I think we've both had enough stress for one day." One of his hands rubs her back gently. "Take your time," he murmurs. "I'm right here."


Xanadu Weyr - Waterfall Cave

Cleverly hidden behind the illusion of stone, a cave has formed at the base of the waterfall itself, large enough to host several individuals comfortably, or one person and a dragon. The walls are moist and textured, with small rivulets of water draining from the cave floor down into the pond beyond. Moving further back into the cave finds a dry floor and a smooth rear wall. Two sturdy camp chairs lean up against the back wall, along with a generous bedroll, wrapped in water-tight animal skins. A small bundle of firewood rests off of the floor on a makeshift stand, drying.

The roar of the falls is loud here, making conversation difficult from any range other than close, and the sheer volume of water makes it almost impossible to see through to the forest beyond. The only way out appears to be via the water, back the way you came.

Thea can't help but laugh weakly at that, "Don't think I'm up to a swim," she replies. After a moment, she opens her eyes, able to finish the climb and steps into the cave and sweeps it with a surprised and pleased expression as she takes in the fire pit, bedrolls and other things he's done to make the place livable, "So you've a place out of the rain instead of some hole in the ground. I can sleep easy knowing you're out of the rain, at least." She turns back to him then, "Your… leg? How bad and what did you do to hurt it?" Not demanding, but certainly concerned.

Tenebrous glances down at the pressure bandage on his right thigh. "It started as a bad rope burn that I got when I was up in Rubicon. I…had to get back to Xanadu. I made sure it was covered and then ran home on it." He frowns a little. "The run home didn't help it, and then…there was that dragonhealer, and the fall. It's been on the mend, but I sort of…wore it out tonight."

Thea shakes her head in a sort of resigned way, "You punish yourself." She winces, "I'm sorry I added to it." Her head drops, dark hair tumbles forward to hide her face and she admits in a low voice that carries some anguish, "I… had to get away. Was trying to find the falls. Seryth wouldn't cooperate and fly me there." She shrugs, "I wasn't thinking all that clearly. I know it was stupid, but I thought that trail…"

Tenebrous slowly approaches, bringing his hands up to her shoulders gently. "You weren't that far away. You took a wrong turn, honestly, but you would easily have been here in another mile." His voice quiets. "You can always come here…always. I don't own the waterfall." Then, with equal slowness, he enfolds her into a hug. "Someone told me hugs help sometimes," he whispers. Hopefully, they're not as personal as a kiss…

Thea's head lifts as his hands touch her shoulders, her eyes are wide, pained, "I-" She blinks as his arms encircle her, then she simply leans her head against his chest, she returns that hug. She doesn't intend to, tries not to, but cannot prevent the tears. Silent, desolate, weary she cries softly, as if beyond hope and giving up all expectation of it. When finally she is spent, though she doesn't step back, her arms drop and she finishes, "I was looking for you, really. Not the falls. Figured you'd be there." She lifts her head then, blinking the rest of the moisture from her eyes, "Thanks, yes. Hugs help, but…" She flickers a questioning look at his frame. "I remember hearing you groan and mutter something about your back?" A deflection perhaps…

Tenebrous is content to hold her there, being a stone and a pillar rather than the one in need. It's a strange, new twist for him, one that isn't lost on him as she weeps gently. But, like so many other things, he gently carts it into the back of his mind, one hand rubbing up and down her back until the tears subside. When she mentions looking for him, he smiles awkwardly. "Sorry I was late…" He gives her one last squeeze before loosening his arms. She can pull away whenever she wants. "And…as for my back?" He shrugs. "Since we're explaining ourselves, yes, it still hasn't healed up from my swim in the pond. I'm…pretty much in agony right now." But he still smiles. "But it was worth it."

Swim he calls it. Not nearly-fatal plunge from a precipice that could have killed three living beings rather than simply leaving bruised flesh and torn muscle. This is not lost on Thea, who chokes on a mirthless laugh. "Late? No." She shakes her head, "But your back…" She steps away, turning to eye the collection of supplies in the cave, "Surely you've something here for that? And a wicked headache as well?" In too much of a hurry, or perhaps not wanting to admit to the Infirmary healers she had it…

Tenebrous smiles "I have supplies for those things, yes. But I can only apply numbweed salve to so many places. I'm not double-jointed, you know. I'll survive." At the mention of the headache, however, his eyes flicker to Thea's face with concern. "If…I had a headache…I might rub some vasodialative salve on the back of my neck…and drink a mug of my special tea. If I hit my head after falling down an incline, that's…probably exactly what I'd do." He steps around Thea to look her in the eye. "So tell me. Do I have a headache?"

Thea meets his eyes with a slight smile, "I have no idea, do you?" She relents, deciding not to tease him further, "No no, mine is killing me. That rock, ice or my own stupid pride - whatever I hit my head on." She gestures towards his back, "After hauling me out of there, you could at least let me get the spots you can't reach?" She's not pressing, not mothering, simply offering. His choice to refuse or accept.

Tenebrous looks at her face for a long moment before nodding slowly. "Let me make you some tea, and salve your neck. If you're up to it after that…then yes. I'd like that." He laughs a little. "Actually, I can't guarantee I won't …squirm a little, but the last time someone offered, I…" He falls silent then, his face telling the rest of the story. He couldn't do it. Couldn't let them touch him.

Thea's eyes flicker across his face, taking in that expression, understanding. Her only comment to that is a matter-of-fact, "Well, I suppose it does take some getting used to, hmm?" She's all practicality then, "Yes, tea, salve, whatever." She's leaving it in his hands, "What can I do to help?" A hand lifts to scratch at the bandages they've wrapped around her head and it's with a soft growl that she starts fingering them to find where they've taped the thing at, "This is… annoying. I'm removing it."

Tenebrous smirks. "And they say healers make bad patients." He faux swats at her hand. "Leave it on at least a little longer. Once you're done with your tea, I'll help you take it off. For now, I'd appreciate it if you just…relaxed. Let me take care of you, for a change…" He moves to his stores then, removing a plain mug and a small bladder of water. Another rummage has him coming up with a bag of what looks like herbs, and as soon as he opens, it, the thick, heady smell of mint and other things pleasant fills the air. "If you must have something to do, you'll find a pot of my own numbing salve in my satchel. If you'd just hold it in your hands, I'd appreciate it. It's horrible when it's cold." And in a few moments, he's moving that mug of tea over the fire's flame, warming it from beneath.

Thea's return smile is rueful and like a guilty child, she drops her hand, meekly submitting to that swat. When his back is turned, she's moving towards the satchel he's indicated, her movements more careful than when he'd been facing her. She's rummaging to find the numbweed and once it's found, she steps with it in hand to one of the camp chairs, wincing as she lowers herself into it. She leans forward, bracing her elbows on her thighs, watching Tenebrous work near the fire. That pot of numbweed is clasped between both hands, her fingers wrapped 'round it giving it as much of her warmth as she can. Eyes on the flames, she loses herself in thought, her face taking on what can only be a pensive expression.

The lure of the flames is intense, and its only when the steamed aroma of the tea reaches her nose that Thea hears Tenebrous' quiet murmur. "Thea…Thea, it's ok, you can put the pot down. Here." He tries to take it from her hand gently. "The mug is warm, and you should be able to drink the tea now…"One of his hands brushes a bit of stray hair away from her bandaged forehead. "Are you alright?"

When has Thea been anything but honest with Tenebrous? She blinks back to the here and now, eyes focus on him, the lost look in them still there. She relinquishes the numbweed at that gentle tug on the pot, allowing it to slip through her fingers. "No." The word is breathed rather than voiced as she sits up. Her elbows shift from her thighs as she leans back, reaching to accept the mug from him, fingers curl around the handle and cup when he lets it go. She raises it, eyes close as she inhales the aroma, then open, crinkled in a smile through the steam at him, "It's wonderful."

Tenebrous kneels in front of that chair, his eyes searching Thea's face. "It's ok," he whispers. "Or it will be, if it's not right now. I can't tell you it'll be perfect, but it will be ok." Then his voice raises to a low murmur. "And I'll be here until it is." When she comments on the tea, he smiles, "Master Fraille tried to convince me that every tonic and tincture she made had to taste bad in order to work the best. We never saw eye to eye on that front." He folds his legs under himself, simply coming to rest at her feet. "You don't have to talk about it," he offers. It's a statement, not a question.

Thea lifts the mug to her lips, sips and then nods her approval for his concoction. His words have her eyes dropping to stare at her tea, lids shuttering the pain from them and she shakes her head. "I'm not sure if it will be," she adds a shrug, "but I appreciate you being here. You're a good friend." She smiles at something, looks back at him, "So you've learned what one does with a friend, haven't you?" The mug is lifted, a long draught taken before she lowers it - the stuff works faster once inside the body, after all. She shrugs again, "The man I told you about? He's just…" her eyes drift towards the fire as she searches for the right word to sum it up with, "remote." Back to him, "And he won't say why." And that is that, says her expression.

Tenebrous sighs. "I'm afraid I don't know much about being a friend yet, Thea," he says quietly. "But I do know that friends are supposed to take the pain away if you hurt…and if they can't take it away, they're supposed to be there until something better can happen." He continues to watch the woman's face, but his eyes to flicker down to the mug from time to time, tracking its progress. When she speaks of 'that man', Tenebrous only nods his head, waiting until she's done to offer, "I don't…know much about being close to someone either. But…I know you taught me that sometimes friends should talk, and sometimes they need their distance. And that there has to be a balance between the two. Otherwise…people start doing stupid stuff, like jumping off of waterfalls…"

Phylicia has been learning how to move better in the forest the entire morning and she's in no true hurry, so even though the pair are tucked away in the cave under the water, there's no heavy crashing of bushes. The only warning the pair has to another coming is a faint shuffling of feet until a girl's small frame appears from the walk-in entry way, a new pack slung over her shoulders, and her hands lightly wrapped up in bandages. And an absolute scowl on her face which is - once again - directed at Tenebrous. "Or leaving the infirmary before either of you should." She says as she walks further into the cave, like she fully belongs there. Her eyes don't carry the scowl her face does, instead showing more worry than aggravation. Let them read into her body posture, she's going to await an answer.

Thea laughs, "I'd categorize jumping off a waterfall as unbalanced, yes." She pauses, lifts the mug and takes another mouthful, swallows lowers the thing before a gentle correction, "A friend cannot take the pain away, but they can help bear it and… and when that something better comes along… they stay through that too. There is no 'until' with friends." She makes no other comments about the man, but the haunted sadness has, at least for now, left her eyes. "You seem to be doing just fine with the closeness, at least as I see you." A brow lifts, "Are you making any new-" Then Phylicia is arriving and Thea breaks off to once again look the guilty child, although there's a smirk on her lips as she answers, "Can't argue with you there, but then, there are times one has to do the foolish thing and flee." If her eyes slide towards Tenebrous he must imagine that gleam of devilment in her eyes, right?

Tenebrous nods once, listening to Thea's words about friendship and taking each one to heart before Phylicia enters. "I'm going to get her a bell," he mumbles to himself. Slowly, he stands, that grimace evident on his face as he plants that right leg of his. "May I present Phylicia, apprentice healer and, up until several hours ago, someone who was eagerly seeking mentorship from me." His tone is droll. "I suspect the two of you have met." He holds out one hand to Thea, his other full of a numbweed pot. "More tea?" he asks her quietly. Then he looks up at Phy. "I see you didn't sleep. Perhaps I put too much faith in M'nol's abilities.""

"Sit. Down!" Phylicia says curtly in Tenebrous' direction, looking more annoyed that a healer would put such stress on his own injury. But then they all seem to be of the mind they're indestructable, because they're the ones that make people well. She walks a little further into the cave, very carefully setting her pack down. There's no small amount of clinking as she does that too: looks like it wasn't more spare clothing. "You couldn't have waited a day so he could get some rest?" Phy asks softly, her tone losing it's curtness as she crouches down by Thea. Not to mention herself, but the girl is pushing because she's worried. "Don't think you've gotten rid of me, sir." And she lets a hint of the curtness creep back into her voice. "M'nol was called to report." Aka, /she/ slipped out too, since she only had one or two splinters of the rope in her hand, bandages will take care of her just fine.

Thea's lips twitch at the bell comment then she's nodding, "She's a friend." She shakes her head, draining the brew, "No more, thanks. It's… starting to work." She offers him the now-empty mug with one hand, reaching to trade him for the numbweed if he'll allow it. "Can I see to your back now?" Her eyes shift towards Phylicia with another smirk, "M'nol's abilities would more like keep her awake than asleep." The command tossed to Tenebrous has Thea's eyebrows twitching up, her eyes widen just a hair. Wait for it…wait for it… this ought to be good, says her expression as she slides a look towards the Journeyman and back to the girl. She merely shakes her head, "Couldn't stay, no." Then she's wincing at her last words, "Called to report…" She merely sighs at that.

Tenebrous offers Thea the pot before turning away with the now empty mug and starting towards the back of the cave. "We bleed to know we're alive, Apprentice," he calls back to Phylicia. "There are rules…and then there are rules. No one likes it when we break them, but then we get cranky when others break ours after we do." He glances over his shoulder. "Live ammo." Then he looks at Thea, one corner of his mouth quivering upwards. "You want to see my back? …Not in front of the children…" Honest to god, he doesn't even laugh, just sets that mug down and then lowers himself to his bedroll with a little hiss.

Phylicia's face flushes straight to the beet-red stage as she loses her balance and collapses onto her bottom. "Theeeaaaa!" Oh, there's the typical teenage whine, though hers holds a touch of embarassed laughter to it. But the laughter dies away quick enough as she listens to her mentor. "'Live ammo' my rear end, Tenebrous. We're done with that part of tonight." Her voice has gone crisp again, before she shoves herself to her feet, resisting the urge to go smack the journeyman on his abused back. "I don't have a compress on my thigh, bruises /spanning/ my entire back, or a head injury. I have sharding rope burns which aren't /that/ bad." But instead of fighting with him more, she turns to Thea, and grins as she leans over to whisper. "Strip him. He doesn't seem to argue with you." Much.

Thea's fingers close over that pot, and she's rising even as Tenebrous is stepping away. There's a snort for the 'bleed to know we're alive comment' and a 'see what you'll be putting up with?' sort of eyeroll towards Phylicia. "Your kind of alive would have me wishing I was dead," she says bluntly to that. Her steps falter, "Live ammo? Who, what?" She continues towards him, wincing at his hiss, kneels beside him her movements stiff, awkward with another grimace as she does so. "Gonna have to see it if I'm to slather this on, unless I do it with eyes closed? I'll warn you, I saw the Infirmary report on it." Phylicia's wail has her snickering but the girl's suggestion has her blinking in failed comprehension, "Stri-wha??" Note to self: Significance of things may escape one after being head-clonked senseless. She turns back towards Tenebrous, with a shrug and a lifted brow, "Well? Time for art class?"

Tenebrous closes his eyes, wincing. "It was quiet in here ten minutes ago. It was quiet and there were no wailing women." Both of his hands raise up to cover his face and he mumbles, "If I'm quick, I can jump off of the waterfall again…" Then those hands lower and he looks at Thea. "I didn't bring you here so that the two of you could corner me. You're supposed to be relaxing, remember?" Then he eyes Phylicia. "This isn't happening with both of you in here." There's more than a little nervousness in his voice.

Phylicia is apparently Ten's common sense, since he has none in his own head to her understanding. But at the moment she wants nothing more than to scream at the both them to get their rears back to the infirmary and stay there until they're healed. "What? You want me to go outside so you can show Thea something I've already seen?" She's not wailing now, she's being sensible. "I am not your nursemaid." She reminds him. "Don't make me be one tonight, please." There's caring threat to voice, a new side of Phy that Thea hasn't seen before probably, and apparently after being stuck on elderly bathing duty she's not squeamish about undressing people she doesn't know intimately.

Thea just returns Tenebrous' look mildly, "Who's wailing? And cornering?" She hasn't even opened the jar yet. She raises both hands in surrender, numbweed pot and all, "You don't want it?" She shrugs, "Your choice." She's catching the sudden tension in his voice, eyes slide towards Phylicia, "Just… please?" Her eyes plead as she motions with her head towards the cave's entrance. There's something she's trying to convey that she doesn't put to words. She makes no move to open that jar yet, remains, very still, relaxed. If the girl doesn't move… her eyes warn her not to question.

It's only after Thea and Phylicia stop going back and forth that Tenebrous murmurs, "Why does everyone think it's about them…?" He glances up at Thea for a moment, noting the lack of movement between the two women, and then slowly moves up from his bedroll to his knees. His arms reach up and over his head to the back of his shirt, and he mumbles, "First the trip to the infirmary, and now this…"

Phylicia doesn't miss Thea's gestures, but for a few moments, the apprentice stays locked in place until she see's Tenebrous reaching for his shirt. She exhales softly, hoping that he'll let Thea put the numbweed on now. Slowly she turns, and heads to her pack, dragging out a glove and handing it to Thea. "So your hand doesn't go numb." She says softly, before soft steps take her back to the entryway of the cave, and outside.

Phylicia leaves for log Worries by the Waterfall

Thea accepts that glove, with a soft, "Thanks." Then she simply waits for Phylicia to step from the cave, ignoring the murmur from the man behind her until the girl has finally gone. She turns back to Tenebrous and adds quietly, "It's okay, if you'd rather not." Still, since he's reaching for his shirt, she begins unscrewing the cap.

Tenebrous exhales loudly when Phylicia exits, his hands shaking violently for a moment. "I tried," he mumbles, looking up at Thea. "Taking an…apprentice and things." His shirt is slowly raised up over his head, and he makes a little noise when it passes over a line on his back. While some of the bruises on his back are starting to look less than hideous, there's a new stripe where the rope was resting against his flesh, both red and bruised. "Could you…not…fall anywhere for a few weeks?" His breathing quickens for a moment as the shirt finally comes off, and he falls limply back to the cot, his face a little red. "Ok…Ok, I'm done…" His eyes close slowly.

Thea dons that glove while his shirt is being pulled off. She been focused on his emotional unease rather than the task at hand. She knows him well enough by now… "I'll see what I can do," she chuckles as she looks back to the jar she's unscrewing, then leans forward over his back to eye the damage. Her hand on that numbweed cap stills at the sight of his back. He's got his eyes closed so he cannot see her face, which is a good thing. Not a sound comes from Thea as she kneels there for a long time without moving. Tenebrous feels nothing for she doesn't touch him. There is something dripping onto his back, however - slow, steady tears fall unchecked there.

His breathing slowing somewhat, Tenebrous' lips turn up in the barest hint of a smile, and a breath escapes him. "'S…warm…perfect…temperature…" For a moment, his face relaxes, and he looks…different. It's an echo of his usual face, but more pleasant on the eyes. Or perhaps his normal face is an echo on this one. Through a mirror darkly… "I'm…really glad you stayed," he mumbles, his voice hushed.

Thea can't speak yet, nor has she yet touched his back. She shifts to the floor beside him, rests her head on one arm so she can be on eye level with him. Her eyes still overflow, and she merely blinks them when they get too full, otherwise she ignores the tears in favor of trying to find or perhaps say what is in her mind with no words at all. The expression in them ranges from grief to fear to compassion, flickering with… something else. Finally she whispers, "There are other ways to know you're alive."

Wait a minute… Thea used to be above him, and now she's next to him. His eyes slowly open, concern sliding into them gradually. One hand raises up to touch her face as gently as possible and he whispers, "I don't know any other way, Thea…I'm sorry. I wish I did…" He swallows quietly, blinking. "Don't…cry for me…you don't have to cry for me…"

Thea's tears increase, if anything at those words. "I know I don't -have- to. I can't help it," she replies quietly. So many questions there in her eyes as hers remain on his. "Have you ever tasted a fresh-fallen snow? Watched the sun sweep the land as it rises, making the dew come alive? Found the first shoots of crocus working up through an ice crust? Smelled the crisp tang of leaves in the Fall? Brushed the soft fur of a tiny kitten against your cheek? Walked in the rain and let it weep for you when your soul was crying but your eyes were dry?" She pauses, "Those are some ways to feel you are alive." A sudden comprehension dawns in the sea green of her eyes, "You…don't…feel…anything much do you? I don't think I've seen you laugh but once. Do you ever cry?"

Tenebrous listens to Thea's words, his eyes deep into hers. "I've done most of those things, Thea. I live our here in the woods…but I don't think I take from them what you do …you make me think I'm missing something important…" He brushes his hand against her tear-stained cheek once more before moving it away, more uncertainty in his motions. "Cry," he repeats the word. "I think I used to. Master Fraille used to tell me that I cried all the time when I was younger." He closes his eyes for a moment. "I feel…maybe too much." Those eyes open again. "I just don't…know what to do with them. I followed a hunch once, when I kissed you and…" He smiles helplessly. "I don't know what to do with them. Which ones to follow and which ones not to…" He shifts a little, raising his head off of the floor. "Why …are we talking about me?" It's a question, not an objection. "I brought you here for you…" Not me? Tenebrous doesn't say that. Some small part of his face reveals that he did indeed want to bring her here.

"Sure you have done them, but never lose the wonder of it or you are not alive." Thea watches him as he speaks, "Used to cry…" She tucks that away for later. His mention of the kiss has a smile tugging at her mouth, her eyes warming along with that, "That too is another way of feeling alive. And no one is born knowing what to do when. We all go through learning." She pauses with a wince, the warmth in her eyes fades back to distress for him, "We take our chances with those feelings. They are our waterfall jumps and the bruises left are less visible. But death… isn't so much a risk." As she's talking. she's still, right there beside him, but her gloved hand slowly dips into that numbweed pot and perhaps before he can tense, she is sliding the stuff down the center of his back, carefully watching him for any nervousness.

Tenebrous murmurs, "The look in your eyes tells me that doing things that way has risks of its own." For a moment, something that looks an awful lot like desire crosses into his eyes, and he swallows again…but then the numbweed comes out to play. Someone once said that the Numbweed *always* wins, and they were right. There's a little pain involved when the actual hurt fades away, and Tenebrous whimpers a little at that pain as the numbweed hits his flesh. But he doesn't run, just sort of melting back down onto his bedroll, eyes fluttering.

"I'm sorry," Thea breathes the word, but what exactly she is saying sorry for, she doesn't define. She stays where she is, but reaches back into the jar for more of the stuff, feathering it out to the wider areas of his back. She talks while her hand moves in careful circles, "Risks are a part of life, no different than what you're doing, only… we learn by them, love by them, live by them. Waterfall-jumping doesn't do that for you." She's watching him carefully adding, "If you could hug me, why's this so difficult?" Her tone is easy, persuasive, "I think you could give yourself permission to be touched, at least by people you know?"

Phylicia comes in as silently as she left though she's apparently been sitting at the closer edge of the pond because her hair has soaked in enough of the mist of the waterfall to appear damp, the coat Ten gave her beaded with the water as well though it doesn't explain the faint redness to her eyes. If the two are as absorbed in each other or the conversation as they look, they probably won't even notice her this time until a long, soft sigh escapes her lips and she starts forward further into the cave, looking for the warmth of the fire and a place to put the wet coat. She's not going to intrude upon the conversation anymore than she has just by walking back into the cave, it seems.

"I know," Tenebrous whispers wearily, though what, exactly, isn't clear. With the numbweed soaking into his skin and his senses, he's not in a position to react much about Phylicia's entrance even if he does hear her. And even if he was…he hasn't felt this good since…ever? His eyes slowly drift closed again. "Two hands," he breaths. "Just…can't get past…" then his words trail off and his breath escapes his chest in a sigh. His breathing regulates into the slow rise and fall of exhausted sleep. One of his hands is open, but the other is clenched tightly around something just under the top-most blanket of the bedroll he slumbers on. It appears to be just another blanket, albeit of remarkable craftsmanship. But he grips it tightly, even in dreams.

Thea's not a healer, nor is she a mindhealer, doesn't know their techniques, hasn't their training. But! The numbweed has been applied and the man is calm and she does it just by being herself. She catches sight of Phylicia's entrance out of the corner of her eye and her hand pauses, her head lifts to see the girl more clearly. Then she is shifting to sit up and check the back she's been numbing with that gel. It's hard not to wince as she looks at it. Then she peers at Tenebrous. Asleep. She smiles and pushes to her feet, strips that glove off and heads towards the fire, "Thanks Phy." She eyes the girl, "You okay?"

And maybe Thea can now understand why Phylicia was trying to push the numbweed on Ten, his back looking the way it does. Phy looks at her mentor then, watching him calmly. It just seems like the girl has finally had the emotions drained from her as she finds an out of the way place to set her wet coat to dry, slicking back her damp hair with her hands until she pauses to look at Thea. "Welcome." She says softly, looking towards the sleeping arrangements. She's pushed herself and now the fatigue is really starting to set in as she foregoes the fire to sit on a bedroll. "Tired." Comes the next word, before a half-smile appears. "Exhausted, rather. Aren't you?" She keeps her voice quiet, not wanting to wake the other.

"Yeah," Thea answers with all the weariness and weight of care that's been on her shoulders for some time now. "Sorry to invade you guys, I'll go back in a day or so. Just needed some time away." She's looking uncertain as to what exactly to do about sleeping, so she merely sits in one of the chairs and begins removing that bandage around her head.

Phylicia snorts lightly as Thea sits in one of the chairs. "Thea, we're both girls." She offers, unzipping the roll enough where it could fit two people, and pulling the extra woolen blankets from two packs - her original and the one she brought with her today. "If anyone sleeps in a chair, it's me." However, that comes out reluctantly. She's the least hurt, but she's also truely exhausted from a horrible 'nights' sleep beforehand. And she works at spreading out the blankets. "There's nothing to apologize for. You got /him/ completely numbed." Which is more than she could do. "His back probably needed that."

Thea finishes unwinding the bandage, rubs the skin on her forehead, reddened by the tight wrap the healers made of it. "Thing was giving me a headache." She steps to the fire and tosses it in, watching for a moment as it flares. "Thanks Phy, but I'm a mess." She gestures to her clothes, with the grime from her falling down a ravine still on them. She pulls off her boots, selects one of the blankets from the back and wraps herself in it. "I'll just, you know… lie over here. Keep you two from one another's throats… you know…" She grins sheepishly as she scoots down somewhere between the two and snuggles into her blanket, "Used to roughing it on the trails back home for my Da with his stock." Sleeping with girls.. undressing in a cave with men. Not so.

Continues in Easier, But Not as Good

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