... For My Shirt

Disclaimer: Adult language and themes.


Fort Weyr - Guest Weyr
The guest weyr at Fort has been given as many conveniences as possible. A large, comfortable-looking bed rests against the back wall, the linens changed on a regular basis to keep them fresh. For temporary storage of personal belongings a sturdy footlocker can be found at its foot, and a table and a quartet of chairs provide a place for visitors to entertain guests if they so wish. The floor has been covered with a large rug and the walls are draped in tapestries depicting various scenes from Pern's grand history, all to help ward off the chill of the stone in the winter months. There's even a small ice chest with an attached cupboard for storage of cool drinks and energizing snacks for the weyr's occupants.

While Fjainoith is locked in wintry warfare with Teimyrth, Lhiannon's shivering in a way that has nothing to do with being cold and everything to do with dragon-fueled anticipation as the weyr all but empties. There's no room for the pause to think things through that would probably take place were she entirely in control of her faculties, leaving her a fiercely enthusiastic participant in all that follows after (glassy) blue eyes meet gray for the first time. The dragon's demands become the rider's and overtake that first instant where her hand trembles, relative inexperience all but masked in the heat of the moment. Hours pass before the waves of shared sensations finally slow enough for her fervor to do likewise; the moment awareness returns might be betrayed in the way her frame tenses briefly against his in a way that isn't quite similar to those earlier, silent requests for more, even as a hand that had held to him so tightly now slackens its grip so that her fingers are all but loosely curled at Ila'den's shoulder, instead. A lengthy, slow exhale later, she shifts just enough so that she can try to aim a glance toward the doorway; it's dark in the weyr in the way of being somewhere near midnight, although on which side would be hard to determine without a timepiece or look at the sky. The harper is, for once, speechless — but her stomach helpfully fills a space that might have been meant for words with the low growl of one long denied a meal.

The moment after, when winter's seasonal spell has thawed, when Teimyrth releases his thrall over Ila'den's every thought, every word, every action. The memory of flight is lost in the quick-melt of snow, turned to rivulets of water in a dawning spring that leaves behind only the impression of a winter that once was. That's how he comes awake: slow, aching, a burning of skin and muscle that's too familiar to be novel, a remnant of occurrences not distant enough for Ila'den to not know what too-big hands will find if they palm from bruise-held hips higher and higher and higher, too frequent to forget that he will not know the lines of this stranger if the tips of his fingers were to explore the body coming back into similar awareness against his. Even in the dying eddies of their mutual, frantic, fever-dream fervor, they do not. There is no more acquiescence now, no guttural growls to accompany caustic words and acerbic commands, just this: the aftermath of a battle fought under Fjainoith's banner, two more casualties claimed in a perennial war. And it's been hours, hours spent in the tumult of dragon-induced madness, hours taking and giving and taking and giving and — and now they're awake, surfacing from beneath the fury of a blizzard, Ila'den's body no less tense than Lhiannon's above him when awareness slams into the backs of his eyes, clearing away the fog. His own grip eases, loosens, falls away, one hand reaching for the ruin of an empty socket as if he means to check for an eye patch or cover the grisly sight from her eyes before they have a chance to adjust to the gloom. Ila'den's own eye follows the track of Lhiannon's to the door, though his attention is back on her before her body can announce neglected needs. A beat, two, three, four, and Ila'den's voice — low, raspy, serrated — comes only then. "Are you waiting for something?" His eye tracks back to the door, as if to pinpoint what he means should those words garner her attention. "Are you waiting for someone?"

As his grip falls away, those loosely curled fingers near him retreat in mirrored, if cautious response. "Waiting — " Lhiannon's own voice is rougher than usual; she swallows, clears her throat, tries again (it's only marginally better). "No. Just - trying to decide what time it might be, " but for all that her delivery is evenly given, there's a note of not-quite surprise at the end. Hours, indeed, an expenditure given over to an activity to which she isn't very accustomed. Whether a byproduct of biology or her extracurricular training, perhaps her pupils dilate just enough in the darkness for her to be able to discern that he has but one - and perhaps not, as what follows the little noise of probably concern is a quiet, "Did I hurt you?" It's graceless and not a little awkward, the way she so carefully extricates herself and resettles next to his side while one hand pats downward in search of a sheet, small movements interrupted by a low hiss between her teeth for the increasing awareness of her own discomfort.

The tension coiled tight in Ila'den's body eases by mere fractions when Lhiannon moves, calloused hands drawn forth from banishment to frame the softer angles of her hips and guide with a gentle pressure meant to (hopefully) aid her graceless, awkward retreat. Then they're gone again, this time seeking to retrieve wayward sheets from where they've landed in a twisted heap near the foot of the bed, drawing them up and forgoing the modicum of modesty they promise to provide in order to settle them high around Lhiannon's shoulders instead. See, he might have the distinct markings of a gentleman, but a better man would not laugh at the quiet probable-concern extracted from a question so valid to the moment. Ila'den isn't a better man. Husky, low-rumbling laughter greets her kindness, an amusement that is not unkind despite never quite reaching a peak before it gutters out, the pittance of an ember never igniting, borne on a pull of lips that hints at canines. "It would take a lot more than that to hurt me, little bird." The words come riddled by lingering vestiges of humor, the asphalt grit of his voice curbed only marginally by its application, and then he's moving again, one hand seeking discarded scraps of fabric in the dark while the other remains poised across his eye. "Did I hurt you?"

For his kindness, a murmur of thanks as she moves to rearrange the drape of the linens so that they can be tucked a little more modestly beneath her arms and loosely over her waist, after which the tightness in her shoulders gradually lessens in small increments. "So it would seem, " Lhiannon observes thoughtfully (and unable to keep a thread of relief from working its way into her words) in the wake of that humor-touched answer, gaze lifting to better study what she can make out of his profile as his motion resumes. Now, it lingers a bit longer where, even in the shadow-filled room, it's more evident that he keeps a hand up by his face. "I don't think I'm in need of a trip to the infirmary, " she replies matter-of-factly for his echo of her question, "and I had expected — " Her grimace is inaudible, but the little puff of exhale that follows isn't. " — some pain, " she finishes after another beat, gradually sliding from the bed into a ginger shuffle across to the room's ice chest. The glowbasket next to it gets partially uncovered to throw a little illumination into the immediate vicinity so that she can more easily fiddle with the cold storage's contents. "Food and water, " she notes aloud, half-turning to glance over her shoulder to the only barely-more-visible man after she decants some of the aforementioned water with a pleased noise. "Would you like anything?" The glows cast the woman and her reserved posture into somewhat sharper relief; biochemistry makes it harder to filter her expressions in the wake of what they've just shared, leaving her features arranged into something polite with an appropriate amount of uncertainty for someone who isn't entirely sure how to proceed in such matters.

Fingers catch on a thin strip of black and something in Lhiannon's voice gives Ila'den reason for pause. He doesn't comment, not right away, but there's a sudden starkness in his regard, something as barren as Teimyrth's winter and full of self-recrimination when it jumps from an eyepatch found to the sheet-wrapped ghost beside him. She's already moving away, and were it hours, minutes, seconds before, his gaze would have followed with predatory intent, feral and hungry and primal, a wolf — a dragon — calculating the distance to his prey. But the hour is past, Teimyrth banished back to the realms of winter, and Ila'den's focal point shifts to a fixed point in the darkness, away from her. "So it would seem," comes burdened with that low, rasping growl so elemental to him, an echo of her previous sentiment wrought wry with humor and returned on the heels of another huff of half-formed laughter. His hands are in motion again, bringing that patch to rest over the ruin of his eye, and then he moves, rising without the modest protection of layers, footsteps silent but for the heaviness of a less-pronounced limp every second step. He comes to stand behind and to the side of her, calloused fingers reaching to pull the decanter free from Lhiannon's grip in a gentle bid to serve himself, to secure his own cup and divest her of any perceived responsibility. Would he like anything? There's a moment when Ila'den considers her words, that grey eye lifting to denote her face, dragging hard down lines and planes and angles that collude and conspire to take shape and frame her, this woman, this stranger with whom he visited carnal intimacies upon only moments ago. Then he looks away. Then he drinks. Ila throws back his water in the same way an alcoholic might throw back a chaser, abandoning the decanter back into her hands or down onto the nearest available surface if she declines to take it and shelving his glass. What would he like? "To know your name," comes pitched low, a shift of a too-big body varnished by violence long ago communicating ease even as the tension evident in every hard line of his body belies it. "And to know if that was your first time." He knows it's not what she meant when she asked him, but it's what he asks anyway. And he waits.

An involuntary shiver, a quiet inhalation, an unconscious little lean toward him at his approach; Lhiannon has to work to steady herself with him standing so close. While he pours, she takes another swallow from her own glass, breathes in and out. Under his regard, blue eyes steadily travel over him in a similar fashion. A less diplomatic partner might broach curious questions about those visible areas of scar tissue, or stare overly long at the patch that masks an enucleation. Surely she takes note of these features, but offers in lieu of words a wondering sort of smile now that she can better take in the sight of this man whom she does not know — even if her body now knows his. When he turns away, so too does she, if only to drain her own glass and set it aside. "Lhiannon, " answers she with another lift of her clear gaze to his, hesitating after before adding a softer, "but given — " what they've just shared, " — our present circumstances, Hana could also suffice." For the inevitable query, her attention shifts briefly to his hands, his arms before returning to his face; her teeth catch momentarily at her lower lip before releasing it. Then: "It's our first flight." It's an honest answer, if perhaps not the one he might have been looking for. Eyebrows arch with quiet expectation after for his name in return, this man paired with a dragon who is so similar in impression (the closest to an equal the pair has yet encountered) to her own.

Lhiannon shivers and Ila'den's eye is drawn to the gesture, holding for a moment too long as she leans in and grey seeks blue. There is something self-deprecating in the wolfish pull of his lips, the tilt of his jaw, the twinge of those outer corners guttering long before he leans in to meet Lhiannon halfway. He stops just shy of diminishing full degrees, amusement taking root in the invasion of words he presses back into that minimal (but carefully maintained) distance between them. "Are you afraid, little bird?" Does he look like a monster? But he's leaning away with low-pitched, husky laughter, laughter that fails once more to endure beyond the measure of one single beat. Instead he listens, waits, patient for every word, focused on every line, aware of each syllable until it's his turn to speak and the first word he parts with is, "Lhiannon." Then, softer still: "Hana." And for a moment they're plunged into silence, a silence that stretches and grows, unyielding, toward a breach of the uncomfortable; for too long Ila'den says nothing, allows that damning nothingness to permeate and stagnate until it seems the former renegade might not speak at all. But he does, eventually. "Ila'den," comes on a rasp, "or Ila, if you prefer. Well met, Hana." And while Ila'den doesn't pry, he does move, a shift of his body back towards the bed, blind once more in the absence of a glow as hands seek out discarded layers in the hopes of finding something. No luck so far. Then, after another long moment, "Do you want to talk about it?" And only here does Ila'den pause, eye moving back to Hana, devoting his full attention for just a moment to her answer.

Afraid? "No." (Perhaps it isn't that sort of shiver.) It's not too quick or too slow of a response; she exhales slowly into that space without words that follows his voicing of her name, gaze tracking his movement back toward the bed as she repeats, "Ila'den." Without any particular accent, her voice is difficult to place, but precise in its enunciation of syllables in the manner of someone who's probably well-educated. It's a thoughtful tone that wraps its way around the syllables of the name she can now put to the man, even as she half-turns back to double-check that the door to the ice chest is secured. It (very conveniently) also affords the harper the opportunity to try to recollect herself. Lhiannon's expression is all but smoothed into polite weariness as she makes her way back toward the other side of the bed, one hand holding the sheet to her chest while she shifts what she can reach of the nearest corner of covers (wherever they may be) in case there are clothes hidden somewhere in the tangle of fabric. Her plucking motions still at his prompt, his pause, and Lhiannon — Hana sighs. "Does it get — easier, afterward?" And because that could refer to a whole passel of elements related to this aspect of dragonriding, she adds a clarifying, careful, "The emotional downswing after those kinds of - shared heights."

No. The timing of Lhiannon's admittance doesn't really matter, does it? It's enough of an answer for him to understand, too little of one for assumptions to fully form, and just enough of one to give dark brows occasion to rise, embodying the language of a question unspoken. What might have been surprise is tempered by sheer will, restraint that ripples through the hard lines of his body before tension bleeds from his shoulders on the heels of another huff of hushed laughter. "I see." A low hum follows, starts low in his chest and reverberates for one, two, three seconds of thought before he dismisses it. Whatever his opinion of her reaction, whatever his thoughts on her subsequent answer, whatever questions are inspired by the thousand implications one word provokes, it goes unspoken. Instead, Ila'den answers the trial of his name with a low rasped, "Boo," then grey is on blue once more — or it would be, were there enough light to permit more than a mere approximation of meeting her gaze. Does it get easier? Ila'den doesn't move from where he stands shrouded in shadows, taking one heartbeat too many to consider what answer he could possibly give her. "I don't know, little bird. Anybody who tells you that they do is a liar. The only person who can answer that question is you." It's ambivalent at best. "Every rider I've ever met will tell you something different." Then humor alights, his next choice of words harboring a hint of teasing: "Are you disappointed, Hana? What were you expecting?"

The greenrider's expression turns wry; not so very visible, perhaps, but it's audible in her rejoinder that's edged with dark amusement for yet another cyclical part of life over which she'll ultimately have no control, "One adolescence should be enough." Thoughtful gaze sharpening for his prompt of expectations, Hana studies what she can make out of him for a long moment. But it's Lhiannon who answers steadily, perhaps bolstered by the glacial green who stirs some distance away. "Disappointment implies that one had expectations to begin with." A breath, then: "We neither of us seem especially injured and you've been polite. I've supposed that's the best scenario in which I could hope to end up." More quietly, "I don't remember everything we shared, " and perhaps never will, "but I remember feeling free. Thank you, for being part of that." It's not the speech of one who's disappointed, at any rate. A little 'ah, ' precedes her finally separating something from the discarded blanket — a sock, although the color isn't easy to ascertain without increasing the lighting level.

Now Ila'den laughs — actually laughs. The sound is still low-pitched, distant thunder burdened by humor, canines bared in an expression lacking for wolfishness (and impossible to see without the relief of proper lighting). "Once," comes serrated despite the fact that he's clearly speaking around a smile, "I broke my partner's ribs. She broke mine too. Hurt like hell." A beat, and Ila'den is moving, hands catching at the wall and dragging as he begins a slow canvas of the perimeter. "I was polite then too. I even helped her put her boots back on." If there was a takeaway from this shared instance (that she only got lucky this time, that one day she might find herself faced with the reverse), it's eaten up by a low growl of, "Fucking Th'ero." But then he's silent, listening to her words or focusing on the texture of the wall as the pads of his fingers skid across their spanse. Maybe it's both. Either way, his own soft, "Ah," joins in chorus with her, followed by a faint click. To say that the lighting chases away the shadows would be a stretch, but it curbs them, allows color to bleed back in from the edges — maybe even enough to identify the color of the sock in Hana's possession. It allows Ila'den to see what it is, anyway. "A sock. Good find." And again Ila'den is moving to the dark blot of discarded leathers, ensuring they belong to him before pulling them hard over thighs and hips if for no other reason than to spare Lhiannon intimacy of another kind. It does nothing to block out the ruinous state of his back when it's turned to her, the thick layering of scar-tissue speaking to a time when perhaps he'd been torn apart and left to heal from the unthinkable. Maybe it's the vast mapping of scars lining the rest of his torso and arms, the angry residue of long-ago friction burns at his wrists, that inspire the way he continues to look for more swatches of rogue fabric after he turns back to her. But lest Lhiannon think Ila'den wasn't listening, hands settle on his hips, his chin tilting in slow ascent until grey finds blue with an intensity perhaps better left unwitnessed beneath the filter of darkness. It's feral still, primal and brutal and unrelenting in a way that might explain just why Teimyrth chose him, just why he asked if she was afraid. "You should try it outside of a flight," letting go, being free. "It's even better when you can remember every detail. Maddening, too, but worth it." The corner of his lips pulls, there's heat in that expression, but it's diverted with a curious tilt of his head down and to the side, a drop of his gaze before he bends at the waist and straightens with… a shirt? Ila'den pulls it open, revealing fraying bits of thread no longer joined, a split that runs jagged and unchecked down the full length of ruined fabric. A beat, two, three, and dry comes, "Is this yours, little bird?" Oops seems to be implied, but there's not an ounce of repentance to be found in him.

If Lhiannon's arms instinctively fold about her at the mention of broken ribs, can she be blamed? "That, " she says at some length, "goes beyond politeness. I don't imagine that it was easy for either of you, " getting dressed with that level of pain to contend with. She tries (and fails) to suppress a little smile for his growl while he searches the wall for — light, the abrupt transition to which leaves the woman squinting briefly until her pupils constrict enough to restore some comfort. "Hardly, " she discounts with a little laugh when he pronounces her find good. "More useful if it were winter, perhaps." It's impossible to ignore the lines of heaped-tissue that might carry tales no one should have to imagine or relive; she drops her gaze back down to focus on better shaking out the covers before he's quite turned back around, lifting it again in time to meet his eye. She doesn't exactly shiver again under his regard, but her lips briefly part, then close; she has to swallow before she can reply with a quiet, "Is it, " that lacks the inflection of an interrogative. She's pink-cheeked by the time he straightens back up with that button-down, long-sleeved shirt, very blue eyes widening slightly. Equally dryly, after clearing her throat, "It was." (Hopefully her slacks fared better.)

"It wasn't." How could it have been? Every movement ached, every breath ignited another fire, every attempt to be kind and gentle came with a constant undertone of sharp, white-hot pain. "But we both healed, and neither of us remember what happened. I think it was harder for my weyrmate, when he was asked to come retrieve me from the infirmary." Nevermind socks (though if you ask Ila'den, it was still a good find); they're moving on, delving into topics that are uncomfortable by sheer dint of the content contained within spoken words being damn near taboo. "It is." Ila'den doesn't pursue the topic beyond one single affirmation, more intent now on finding the layers they shed (or in this case, shred) to get at each other hours ago. He doesn't apologize for the state of Lhiannon's shirt, for the upturned furniture littering the weyr, silent spectres of what occurred painting a damning picture; Ila'den doesn't even apologize for the marks of red that he can see on her now, for the ones he imagines will be more pronounced beneath her sheets given a day or two to blossom into ugly, if temporary, reminders of a time neither will remember. But grey comes back to blue and it's there again, that hint of something dark aimed inward, as if the apology lying dormant on the tip of his tongue would be forthcoming if he were a better man. But Ila'den is not a better man. "You can have my shirt." Or maybe he finds apologies little more than trite platitudes, beneficial only when an action performed is made in conscious will or bears to serve as an acknowledgement of a mistake that will never be repeated again. Ila'den can claim neither intent nor intention, but he can make reparations for what destruction his hands have wrought. "And whatever marks you need to replace it." But he's setting it carefully on the bed and returning to his previous task. "You were hungry." He was paying attention. "You should eat, Hana."

Harder for his weyrmate (who's not a 'she'), of which the harper makes silent note. There's a little noise that's probably meant to be agreement for the idea, even if she, herself, has no personal point of reference for such a scenario — save that it's never easy to see someone one cares about in pain. Lhiannon spares him a sidelong glance for that affirmation while she awkwardly contributes to the search with only occasional winces for the shift of muscles in areas that will, indeed, bruise in time. Her pants, thankfully, are intact; with a measuring look for the beige material and another for the sheet that's preserving her modesty, the holdbred woman manages to wriggle partially into them before readjusting the linen to fall on top of her casualwear, half-turning to return that look, his generous offer, with lifted eyebrows. Quietly, "Thank you." It takes a little maneuvering to get free of the makeshift-toga once she slides into his shirt, in which she undoubtedly swims. She secures as many of the buttons as she can (there might be a few missing here, too, though thankfully not where it matters most) and has to roll the sleeves up once, twice, but it's loose enough about her frame that she should be able to make it back home later without giving passersby a show. "It's almost, " interrupted by a small yawn, "too late for a meal, " comes as only half-hearted protest to his encouragement, particularly as her stomach chooses that moment to make its opinion known again. "Here, at least, " she appends almost as an afterthought, "but I'd wager you've missed your dinner, too, although you don't weyr at Fort." She sounds fairly certain of this, however lightly she slips that into the conversation; Fjainoith, at least, would likely have known of Teimyrth before today were that an untruth, given the way she's studied him as she rises to alertness with first a surprised, then a narrow-eyed (but undeniably satisfied) sort of fascination now that their coupling, too, has passed.

"You're welcome." For what it's worth, Ila'den's attention drops back to his renewed search, gracing Hana some semblance of privacy just in case a wardrobe malfunction reintroduces them both to a glimpse of what lies safely tucked away in fragments of fever-dream memory. He does come up with his riding jacket, shrugging it on over his shoulders without pulling zips and ties closed. There's a beat as Hana becomes Ila'den's focal point once more, brows rising as lips pull slow at one corner, that gravel-and-grit growl lilting when he speaks with an undertone of teasing. "Are you asking to come home with me, Hana?" He knows she's not — or rather, he assumes she's not. "I am sure Citayla would be happy to tut over your state and scold me while R'hyn made pancakes." Maybe it is breakfast time where he's from. "But Xanadu's a long jump to make when you're tired." Like he's tired; it's obvious in the red around his eyes for those fluent enough in Ilanese (or even simply studied in the subtle nuances of body language), but it's clear he likely has no intention of allowing that fact to keep him here. And even though he's already answered her question, he gives her a more concise: "No, I'm not. Though I am in Fort often enough." He doesn't elaborate on why, he doesn't even offer an explanation as to how Fjainoith might have missed the mark of winter in Teimyrth's mind if he's here enough to warrant words like 'often'. But Teimyrth seems just as disinclined to explain, to rise from where he rests even as he's alerted to Fjainoith's resurfacing, attentive to her movement. « It was an honor, » comes with the insidious chill of winter, frost seeping and destructive even at rest — even with the hint of a fire burning somewhere, offering sanctuary in a mindscape of blistering white, « to serve you. » "I'm sure Shenanigans will have food if the caverns don't." A beat, and then softer, "Are you sure you're okay, Hana?"

Lhiannon probably isn't asking to go home with Ila'den given that she's resumed her search for her shoes in the wake of his question, or perhaps the twin to that sock (which has carefully been set aside so it doesn't get lost a second time). As he fills in the name — names! — of his weyrmates, there's a glance too quick to be anything but the product of astonishment, no matter how quickly her expression smooths when she peeks back over at him again. Those names, after all, are hardly meaningless, especially to a harper with an excellent memory for them — and a rider who isn't so far removed from having to memorize those names in her training. "A long jump, indeed, " she echoes at length, settling gingerly on the edge of the bed to more easily pull on first one sock, then the other. "But, " more pointedly, "I'm not the one who has to make it there safely tonight while tired." Her unspoken 'be careful' might hang in the silence that follows while she crosses the room to investigate a sleeve sticking out from beneath a knocked-over chair, which she carefully nudges a few inches away to more easily rescue the (now wholly unnecessary) sweater underneath. Having been removed and set aside before their frenetic time together, it's rather unscathed save for being significantly wrinkled. Often, he says, and there's another careful breath, shoulders squaring as she gets back to her feet. « You've been - most helpful, » Fjainoith acknowledges almost begrudgingly, the impression of sunlight filtering through her own perpetual snow with an answering, if distant flicker of warmth that silently conveys what her words will do not; she'd like him to be aware that she's appreciative, even if the next most forefront thought is how much she'd like to go rest in her own home. Lhiannon does a good approximation of 'prim harper' by the time she turns back around to face the bronzerider again (if you ignore the too-large shirt and the fact that she's still in her sock feet) — but that reiterated inquiry about her well-being elicits a long exhale, a little lift of her chin. "I will be." If she isn't being wholly truthful, whatever else sits beneath the surface gets channeled into a renewed search for her boots. It takes a few moments to locate the other one that's sticking out from under the bed before she's quick to stuff a foot in. Then it takes her two tries to tighten and knot the laces, but they're quick attempts, perhaps quick enough to have blurred into one by the time she straightens once more with a quiet, "Are you?"

If Ila'den catches Lhiannon's astonishment, that too-quick glance inspired by the identities of his weyrmates, the bronzerider doesn't comment on it. He focuses instead on the words Lhiannon doesn't say, the implications left to ambiguity, a silence that speaks without voice, heard despite never being spoken. "I'll be fine," is, if not a truth, then something that Ila'den believes in enough to deliver with quiet conviction. Dragonriding is, afterall, second nature to a man who's spent more turns of his life in the shadow of dragon wings than beyond the reach of them. Cue the rescue of Lhiannon's sweater, cue Ila'den pausing in the middle of retrieving one of his own boots as that grey eye jumps to the rumpled cloth and then drags slow to Lhiannon's face. Seconds pass in silence, stretch and grow and finally Ila'den speaks. "Well," comes guttural, low, humor doing little to curb the gentle accusation in his delivery, "that is cheating, little bird. If you wanted my shirt, all you had to do was ask." It's the only reason why Ila'den's attention is on Hana to catch the squaring of her shoulders, that breath. And in its wake comes a rasp of laughter, quiet though it is, before low-pitched words come damn near too quiet to be heard. "Does that worry you, Lhiannon? It shouldn't. You don't have to see me again." Not unless dragons rise, or circumstances force them together. But it's still her choice. Speaking of dragons, that living, breathing, sentient cold in Teimyrth is as stark and barren now as it was in the midst of their flight, unyielding and untouched. If he is moved by Fjainoith's storm, the howling fury of his timeless, ageless, perennial winter gives no sign. He merely imparts, « It was a pleasure. It was my pleasure, » and then he says no more. The next words come from Ila'den, as he finds a second boot and forgoes hunting down his socks in order to settle on the bed and pull them over his feet. "You will be." It's not a question, it's an observation of her answer, a processing of words that, much as her silence before, leave entirely too much of what could be said up to interpretation. There's a stiffness in the hard lines of Ila'den's body, leather protesting each movement as he wraps laces around boots and ties them with steady efficiency. "Don't waste your time worrying about me. I have a weyrmate that will see to it that I'm just fine when I get home." But silence comes with little more than the sounds of laces pulling taut to fill it. "I could stay," comes only once he's straightened, voice pitched low, back to her. "We don't have to rush through goodbye." She doesn't have to be alone; Ila'den can give her that much of himself after everything she gave of herself hours before.

It's hardly opaque enough to protect any adult's modesty, this sweater; Hana cuts a sidelong look at him for that jibe. If he wanted to see her in his shirt, all he had to do was — actually, no, strike that. "I'll make sure it gets back to you, " she says instead while giving a last tug to her boots, arms folding loosely over her chest once she's through. Mildly, "It's not so large a world, sometimes, as people would like to believe, " which isn't much of an answer, if one at all. Glancing back at him over her shoulder for his offer (so kind of one, whatever else people may call him), one hand self-consciously tucks some of her hair behind her right ear, full lips lifting into a smile that's very small, almost rueful. "You've at least one someone probably waiting on you, " comes her even reply, "and we've — she and I — taken some time you likely didn't intend to spend. But it doesn't follow that this has to be goodbye, " unless, of course, he wants it to be. A moment's hesitation later, "You did say you come here often. Will 'until our next hello' do?" Perhaps she's not so worried about running into him again in the future, after all. Fjainoith, in her silence, permits the impression of a path crunched by invisible feet to drift between the two winter wardens, a winding shape that wends its way toward Teimyrth for destinations yet unknown before a flurry of snowflakes falls lightly from above to mask their origin, petering out as her attention is redirected elsewhere.

"You can keep it," comes in an effort to rid Hana of any perceived expectations; he will not hold her to the promise of its return, especially not when the shirt in question no longer houses those buttons he or she or they have torn from stitching, leaving behind emptied sockets and gaps where fabric might otherwise have met. "Or not. What you do with it after tonight is up to you." It's hers. And in so much as the words might sound like a dismissal, they're not. It's Ila'den telling Lhiannon that no matter what choice she makes, whether she seeks him out or avoids a second encounter, that regardless of whether or not she's in possession of his shirt should they meet again, it's okay. Every decision, every possibility, every action or inaction she does or does not take is okay. If there is one expectation he hopes for her to take away from this evening, an evening spent in the mutual clutches of flightlust, sharing an intimacy already shadowed and forgotten and crumbling with each passing minute time puts between them and it, it's that there are no expectations. As for the size of the world, well, "It's not," Ila'den concedes, distracted. "But that doesn't mean you have to share it with people you don't want in yours." There's weight behind each word, meaning that can only be derived from the experience of the speaker, context that can only be understood with insight. Ila'den offers neither except to pause in what he's doing and lift his gaze back to Hana. And then that wolfishness is back, borne on the slight pull at one corner of his lips, the hints of canines bared, that intensity in his regard that never quite seems to be less than a predator calculating how to capture prey returned. "Until our next hello then, Lhiannon." And he rises, pulling his riding jacket closed, mussing hair already defiant in the face of gravity, unruly and unwilling to be tamed. He closes the distance separating them with slow, measured steps, a stalking gait that only ends once he's close, close, too damn close and shifts back just enough to keep from caging her in. "Thank you, Hana." For last night, for their shared conversation, for letting him go; he doesn't say. He doesn't linger either, moving instead to the door where his hand falls to rest on the latch. "I'll walk you to our dragons," comes burdened by that husky, growling rasp, "and if you've changed your mind about company by the time we reach them, I'll stay. We'll get food. You need to eat. Otherwise…" he doesn't speak the obvious. They'll part ways and he will go, a ghost from a fever-dream, until the time comes for them to say hello again.

One hand lifts, smooths at the wide collar where a button is indeed missing before it drops back to her side accompanied by another twitch of that tiny, tiny smile. Hana regards him throughout the next few minutes in quietude, bright eyes searching his when he approaches, gets almost too close. In this space where her mind and awareness are more her own than not, there's a moment where her frame almost freezes with tension before it eases with the next breath, expression warming in the seconds after with a hint of friendly affection. "Thank you, " she echoes in exchange with the barest inflection added to the last syllable, leaning up on her toes before he's quite far enough away to press a gentle, if swift kiss to his cheek. Tying her sweater loosely about her waist, she follows him to the door and beyond, giving him her word that she'll eat something before going back to sleep (which probably translates to being preceded by a bath and a change of attire) by the time Fjainoith comes into view in all of her pale, terribly triumphant (and still tired) majesty. ("I shan't hold you up, " the woman reiterates if prompted, permitting herself a markedly relieved lean against her dragon.) Raising a hand in farewell once she's safely aboard, neither green nor rider look back once they're aloft and ascending silently northward to the witch's castle but for the rush of dragon wings and a barely audible whisper of wind that may well follow the other pair until they've left Fort's airspace.

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