Easier, But Not as Good

Continued from I Can't Stop the Rain


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.

With the evening wearing on into morning, the fire inside of Stormhaven's cave has finally died down to a steady bed of coals. Their low, red light filled the cave with the kind of warmth and glow normally associated with hearth and home. Pain free, or perhaps in less pain, Tenebrous wakes to this warmth, slowly opening his eyes. And blinking. 'There are two women in my home,' he thinks to himself. Then the previous evening's events begin to flutter back into his memory. His arrival at Stormhavn with Phylicia and her stunned expression at having first seen it. 'Much like my own,' he thought. They were getting settled in when Seryth's voice thundered into his head. His face was a bleak mosaic of emotions in the near darkness of the cave, shadows playing across his features. 'She looked like that poor woman that Fraille showed me once,' he thought, his eyes tracing down Thea's sleeping form. Every healer had to look at the deceased at least once during their training, but he hadn't been prepared for how crumpled Thea had looked that night. "It was so much easier before you," he whispers into the night, eyes stopping on her face. 'But not as good…' Very gradually, he leans over, letting light fingers brush the hair away from the wound on her forehead.

Thea's in a deep slumber, something a knock upon a skull and wading through a wide range of emotions will do to a person. Curled on her side, with one hand tucked under her chin, she's wrapped in one of the blankets, facing the fire, the soft glow from the coals not bothering her sleep at all. In the dim light, her lids tremble in a dream state, lashes flicker over her cheeks for some time before very slowly teardrops form that cling to them. She utters a soft moan in her throat and one hand begins reaching to pat the spot beside her. But that would be the coals.

Batman never had issues with child-proofing *his* cave…Still, Tenebrous wouldn't be a very good healer if he let his charges burn themselves. His fingers gently wrap around her wrist, holding it away from the fire and brushing her face with his free hand. "No, I'm afraid that wouldn't be a good idea," he whispers with a bit of a smile. Then he sees those tears and he shakes his head. "Only sweet dreams here," he breaths. "No nightmares for you. Not in this place."

Thea's lips part and a strangled cry issues forth, incorporating the spoken words into her dream. She mutters an incoherent reply, "…why's leaving the way..?" Her brow forms a faint frown, her mumbled words are a jumble of illegible pleading, only one word clearly spoken,"…don't g-" that stops abruptly as she feels fingers on her cheek, and her eyes blink open to find Tenebrous there. For a moment there is a depth of grief in them before this fades to confusion. "What are you- Where am I?"

"Easy," Tenebrous murmurs, his eyes flickering over to Phylicia's still form. He looks back down at Thea, still holding her wrist. "What am I?" He's still, even as she asks that question. For a moment, he makes a noise that sounds like he might say 'Tenebrous', but all that comes out is, "Just…a Fetch…" Very slowly, he uncoils those fingers from her wrist, his face set in the darkness. "You're safe. At Stormhaven. You had an accident, and needed some place quiet to recover." In the low light, his face is lost to shadows, his face just as veiled.

Thea shakes her head, a gentle smile slowly takes the place of the frown that had been there, "I was gonna ask what are you doing in my weyr, not what are you. And you are -not- just a fetch, either!" Her eyes drop to her wrist before lifting back to him with puzzlement, "Why're you holding my wrist?" His explanation of where and why has her eyes lifting to drift across the cave's ceiling. Comprehension dawns, "Oh yeah." Then her head turns on her blankets to seek him again. "How's your back?"

Tenebrous gestures from his own bedroll as he begins pulling on a clean shirt. "You were dreaming, and reaching for the coals…" When she asks about his back, his response comes automatically. "It's fine," he whispers. It's a lie, and he knows it is, and even before it's out of his mouth, it shows. The shirt settles about halfway down his back, stopping on the rope's bruising with a quiet exhale of pain. "It's tender," he offers after a long moment. "But it's to be lived with." Still, he doesn't move the shirt down, just yet, tying it off at his collarbone for the moment. Feet are stuffed into socks and after that, he reaches for boots, moving with silence beneath the waterfall's murmur.

Thea nods, enlightened and explains, "Ah. Sigam told me when we were in prison that I do that reaching out thing. I think… it's for Kav." She shrugs, remains lying where she is, but watches him curiously, well able to tell fact from fiction where his back is concerned. She's silent, deciding not to dispute that, but watches as he dons the shirt, concern in her eyes. It isn't until after he speaks again that she asks, "You want more numbweed before you go… wherever it is you are going?"

Tenebrous turns a little after lacing his boots up, one corner of his face glowing in the red. "I'm glad you didn't burn your hand." He stands slowly, un-knotting his shirt and letting it flutter down over his back with a grimace. He stands slowly, testing his right leg in its compress. "I'm just…going outside. Head's too full," he whispers. He doesn't bother reaching for his coat as he moves closer to the waterfall. "You should sleep in my bedroll. It's more comfortable. And, as an aside, farther from the coals…"

"Tenebrous." Thea speaks as he is moving away and in that time, she has pushed herself to sit up. She rises, shedding the blankets she'd rolled herself in and pads to stand before him, leaning to see his eyes, "You… you went *Between* last night." It's a statement and a question all in one. She lifts a hand, palm up towards him. Just one hand.

Tenebrous closes his eyes for a moment. "A fact that I've been trying very hard to come to grips with in my head, believe me." With the passing of the clouds from the earlier storm, moonlight passes through the waterfall and bathes his face in muted tones. His eyes are haunted and one side of his face is clenched at the memory. "I think I threw up three times while they were looking after you in the infirmary," he breaths. But then his eyes flicker to hers and he murmurs, "It had to be done." The tone of his voice suggests that he would do it again, if he had to. For the right reason.

Thea's hand reaches towards him as she responds with a quiet, "But you did it. And…" She leans closer in the dim light to see his neck at the same moment her fingers lightly brush it to make sure, "I don't see any fresh scratches." She tips her head to better see his eyes, "Thank you." The words, low with feeling, carry more than simple gratitude. They carry the awareness of what he risked, endured and dared for her.

Tenebrous remains still as she touches his neck, but the quiver of muscle beneath that skin cannot be missed, the quickening of the pulse undeniable. "My hands were…occupied," he breathes. Those hands twitch at his sides now, so close is Thea, sixteen turns worth of discipline holding him in check. "You're welcome," he offers simply. "It had to be done. I was fortunate that I could do it with you."

The tension in the man is not lost on Thea, nor is his ability to withstand having his neck touched by another. Her hand drops and she leans back, scrutinizing his face. Her lips curve in a knowing smile, "Well, so they were. Could have been my neck clawed at." There's not one bit of irony implied in that statement. "And yet, you were able to overcome it. I think you are the stronger for it." Fortunate? "As was I," she admits. Then she steps back, inclining her head allowing him to take his leave if he so wishes.

Tenebrous looks from Thea's face to the waterfall and then back. "Thea…" He shakes his head after a moment, rubbing one of his arms against the cold mist coming from the water. "…I'm glad you're alright," he murmurs. "I was afraid, when I saw you…" He swallows once. For a moment, there's water on his face, in his eyes. Probably from the waterfall… But then he's moving slowly, brushing against the side of her body on his way to the rockface. "Sleep well," he murmurs, reaching for a handhold. "I'll be outside, at the pond if you need something…"

Thea's head turns, watching as Tenebrous passes by. Her throat works as she swallows, unable to make a reply, she simply nods to both of his comments. When he is gone, she turns and pads to the bedroll obediently to rest as he has asked her to. Well, he's not here to see and she doesn't want to mess it up with her mud-smeared trous, so she slips out of them, folding them and dropping them onto the stone floor. She sinks onto the bedroll, pulls the woven cover over her. Weariness finally overcomes everything else, pulling her into a deep sleep once more.

Continues in We Need to Talk

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