I Scare Myself

Follows Phyisical Interrupt

Xanadu Weyr - Journeyman Jethaniel's Quarters

The stone of this cavern dwelling has been made comfortable, with rugs to cover the floor and hangings on the walls. Comfortable, but hardly stylish; the hangings seem to be a combination of faded remnants from the storerooms and apprenticework that wasn't up to standards. They still keep out the chill well enough, and apparently, that's what matters.
The room is lit from overhead with a soft glow - many small lights laid out in a pattern of the night sky. They're adjustable in brightness; from mere faint sparks for sleeping with, to a mid-morning shine suitable for many tasks.
Many tasks; but not all of them. There's also a pair of swivel lamps, mounted to a wooden workbench that juts out into the middle of the room. The lamps are adjustable to bring the light precisely where it's needed and cut down on annoying shadows.
There's not space on the bench - or in this room - for any major projects, but there's a never-ending series of minor ones, whether it's fixing the stars above when they burn out or else optimizing the small space heater tucked beneath his desk to keep his feet warm. One way or another, there always seems to be something there, its parts spread out across the scratched white plastic sheet of non-conductive surface. Not to mention the tools - a set of jeweler's magnifying lenses and tools for fine-work, scaling up through the wrenches and screwdrivers for medium work, tucked in a toolchest beside the workbench - or else in the worn canvas bag used for bringing the right tools for the job, to the job.
Sharing a chair with that workbench is a small desk. The desk is up against the wall, making an L shape with the workbench. Atop it is a computer terminal and a few books, along with a stack of notebooks that look well-thumbed… and a pile of paperwork that looks barely touched.
Tucked in the back corner, there's a bed. It's got plain white sheets (smudged with grease), and a navy blue blanket. It, too, is comfortable, and it never seems to be made.


Upon entering and at first glance, Jethaniel's room appears to be as he left it. The door, as always is locked. Save for the faint prickle of blue starlights overhead, the room is dark. There is, however an empty plate with remnants of sticky frosting clinging to it left (dropped) somewhere on the floor. And there's a huddled shape curled in the center of the bed. The blond hair splayed out across the surface leaves no doubt that it's Darsce, of course. The iceblue eyes are locked upon the stars, one balled fist tucked under her chin with the moonstone ring - still on her finger - is touched by her lips. She's awake, obviously, for the sound of too-rapid breathing could not be conducive to sleep.

It has been some time since Jethaniel left the infirmary. His limp, as he heads down the hallway, is quite notable, though it is not the reason why his frown has sunken into his face. It has become a part of his expression, a shadow over his eyes and heavy creases around the corners of his mouth. He pauses outside his door, leaning on the cane, and reaches into his pocket for his key. The jingle is muted by the doorway, just another of the noises passing in the hall. There's the click of his lock opening, the well-oiled door swinging open easily, and Jethaniel steps inside. The near darkness of the room is noted, but he sees no reason to turn up the lights. If he turned up the lights, he might see a reason - but he doesn't, and so he turns to shut the door, hand remaining against it in a too-heavy lean.

Darsce could be carved from stone for all the reaction the entrance receives. If she heard the click of the lock opening, the click of latch as it closed, it registers as unrelated to her here and now. Perhaps the sound has been repeated in the short hour or two past enough that they are dimly dismissed as unimportant. She doesn't speak, doesn't seem to notice the brief fall of light from the hall as the door opens then shuts. Her own mind is in a dark place so perhaps she doesn't notice the darkness around her. Her eyes remain upon that technological creation above her, wide eyes glazed over, breaths continue no faster, no slower, no softer, no louder. One thing she does, a small moan panted out in much the way an animal caught in a trap might when knowing it cannot escape what's coming. From the patient, unhurried sound, it's likely she's been doing this at regular intervals and has nothing to do with the arrival of the room's occupant.

The darkness might welcome Jethaniel, but as he leans against the door, he becomes aware that his room is not merely occupied by darkness. There is the sound of breathing; the sound of a moan. His head lifts slightly from the lowered position it had sunken toward, and he turns his head to… darkness, but in the darkness, the pale splay of hair against his bed. "Darsce," he says, and his fingertips brush the control for the lights… before pulling away, curling in against themselves. "Shall I go?" he asks, but does not avert his eyes while doing so, instead letting them fall on Darsce, quick-breathing, curled upon his bed with the rising light catching her ring and making it glow. He sees her, and though his gaze lingers, his frown deepens. This seems wrong, and there's worry in his voice. "Darsce?"

The reflection of slowly-brightening lights illuminate not ice-clear eyes, although they are certainly still that color around the edges, but the dilated pupils that make them appear almost-black. There is no focus to them, no shift to look at him but remain affixed to those stars. To both her name and the question, Darsce makes no answer. Her complexion is normally creamy; now it is the pale of alabaster stone. Her breaths continue, she remains curled in that tight ball and - at the regular interval - moans again.

Darsce is, at least, breathing, but Jethaniel upgrades the semblance of wrongness to a certainty thereof. He steps toward her - he turns, and opens the door - he takes another step toward her - Stardust appears overhead, circling with a keen of uncertainty - and the door begins to swing shut again, but Jethaniel continues, limping at speed to his bedside, to crouch against it and touch Darsce's shoulder - but he hardly expects a response, and there's a moment when he tugs and leans and tries, despite his injuries, to lift her - but he can barely manage to stand on his own two feet without assistance, let alone do this, and so Jethaniel tilts his head back and raises his voice to the tone that brings people running. "HEALER!" Or, to put it in another word for clarity, because there's a door in the way and he hasn't yet stumbled back to it, "HELP!"

To the hand on her shoulder, which is warm enough that there's obviously life to the too-still form, there is no general response. He'll feel the tension of knotted muscles under his hand, his arms attempting to lift will find her form rigidly-curled. It's the shout in Darsce's ear that draws a reaction. Simply put, she screams and makes one wildly startled flail before curling once more. The difference this time, she's staring at Jethaniel rather than those stars. She makes no move to evade him but she does speak in a colorless, disjointed, almost hopeless plea, "You made them." Her breathing continues too rapid, but her moans have stopped. If anyone answers that shout, she's unaware, trying now to rock, her movements too feeble to dislodge his arms.

Tense muscles. Rapid breathing. Jethaniel is no healer - that's why he called for one - but Darsce's scream is, if anything, comforting. She is not entirely unresponsive, even if she shrinks back into that tight ball afterward. His eardrums will recover. So will hers. His eyes are not nearly so wide as hers, but the worry in them is clear. "I… did, yes," he says, his tone an anxious one, the words coming out quickly but with odd pauses in between. "Darsce, I…" He tries once again to gather her up - or is that to stretch her out - to an effective position for carrying her. He has not yet thought ahead to what he'll do when it comes time to actually rise and attempt to limp with a heavy burden. Out in the hall, there's a stir of footsteps, but nobody seems to have found the right door yet.

Darsce remains curled, but her hands move to grip his collar. He'll feel the brush of cold fingers against his neck as they seek to curl about the fabric. It's the best she can do, this small reach for him and once she has the collar there's no further twisting. She has a hold on him, and this seems to help her breathing somewhat. She doesn't assist or seem to note he's trying to lift her. "You made them," she repeats, breathless, eyes fixed upon his beg him to understand what she's trying to say. Those beautiful stars. Those comforting stars. She sways what little she can in his arms.

"Darsce," Jethaniel says, and he gives up the effort of lifting her for a moment, his shoulders slumping down, bending toward her as her fingers catch against his garment, holding him by the shirt. Her breathing eases, and he listens to it with an anxious ear. Is it slowing too far? But… her eyes stay on his. They are capable of that, even if they are still too wide. "I… yes, I…" His eyes remain on hers, wide and anxious, looking to her and trying to… understand. Them, Darsce says. Not… he lets out his breath all at once, his head lowering as if her hand has tugged the collar down and Jethaniel with it. A slight inhalation, just enough to speak a few words, and his tone is dull, pained. "What else can I do?"

Darsce's breathing is slowing but not below the normal rate. That'll take a little longer. She is capable of focusing and as her breathing slows, her pupils begin to return closer to what they ought to be and a hint of color begins returning to her cheeks. The haunted look remains in them, however. "How?" She asks, leaning her forehead towards his, if he's close enough, eyes remain on his. Not how can he, she seems to realize that's how it might sound. Adrenalin is muddling her mind, giving her nominal aphasia and she cannot form the sentence she wants to just yet. She manages to supply the gist of her question as a belated, "…work?" Not the stars. Those she knows are fed by an electric current via a switch to filaments or light emitting diodes. Whatever. He's probably told her all about them.

Jethaniel listens, though the words are sparse and most of what he hears is simply that breathing. His eyes stay on Darsce's, but he notes, with peripheral vision, the changes to her expression as well as the reduction in dilation. Something is still wrong, but it is no longer wrong, and he does not reiterate his request for a healer. How? His lips repeat the syllable silently, and he stares to Darsce, his forehead leaning in the final distance to touch hers hesitantly. His arms are still around her; if he hesitates with the motion of his head, he has likely forgotten all about their presence. "I… don't understand," he admits with a quiet unhappiness. He would explain. He explained his lights to Darsce, when she asked. But he doesn't understand what she's asking.

Hyperventilation removes carbon dioxide from the blood vessels at too great a ratio to the oxygen levels. The ph rises in the blood and the peripheral vessels constrict, over-oxygenating brain tissue. It does funny things to muscle control, curling fingers, toes arms and legs in spasm. Darsce knows what she wants to say, she just can't say it. She needs to calm, she knows this and tells him so, "Calm." It's important for Marel's sake, for her sake, for his sake. "Hold me," she manages to gasp out between breaths. For all that she seemed angry with him in the infirmary, she doesn't now; she'll explain later. She's still clutching his collar as this movement of muscle is within the pattern her fingers will allow; she cannot embrace him even though she would like to. Her eyes show alert understanding but there's something she fears also. He'll read this - and more - a determination, a reaching for rather than a fleeing away. Perhaps it was the shout, perhaps it was his pained unhappiness. There will be no more running.

Darsce's goal for herself is also effective as an instruction for Jethaniel. He nods to calm, though Darsce will feel the tension in his arms. Jethaniel is not excessively oxygenated. He is still worried, but - her second instruction assures him of something, and his arms tighten around her. She cannot embrace him; he can embrace her, falling the rest of the way to his knees against the bed as his arms squeeze around her. If she wishes him to hold her, Jethaniel will gladly do so, and seek calm for her sake. Pay no mind to the shudder of the first breath he exhales as he draws her close; the next one will be steadier, his chest moving more evenly as he holds her in with a tautness of limbs that do not wish to - but could - relax. His eyes stay on hers, and he holds her. There are still things he does not understand, but he holds her.

He's seen her like this before. Once. She did not ask him to hold her then. Adrenalin needs to be spent. The only way to burn it is with movement. Darsce doesn't know the name of the catalyst that causes this chain reaction, but she has had enough of these episodes that she has learned a little what she needs to do. Her body sways - work with her here - resuming the slight rocking motion. "So-sorry. Marel. My fault," she says between breaths that are becoming less-rapid, deeper. She doesn't look away. Her eyes seek to convey what her words cannot, intent on getting her meaning across. Time is of the essence and so she tries again, "How does-" No. She frowns. That's not important. He knows, she doesn't need to. So instead, eyes locked on him, "Test on me!" Marel's device. It's not a request.

Like this, yes. To this extreme? No. Jethaniel failed to extrapolate properly. He was, perhaps, not thinking entirely logically. He continues to hold her as she sways, though he attempts to keep himself from restricting her motion unduly. Her apology brings a tightening of his arms for a moment, followed by a slow shake of his head. With that as context, her question of how brings a light of realization to his eyes. But it's a relatively complex system, and Darsce lacks much of the theoretical grounding, and… his eyes widen in shock. Oh, he understands now. He knows what she's… telling him. "I will… on myself…" Now he's the one speaking in partial sentences and scattered words. But. On her? How could he?

It wasn't this extreme last time, no. Last time she was merely anxious, claustrophobic, embarrassed. This time she was-is- terrified. To his denial, she nods. "My fault," she insists firmly. "I know. Sori told me." She has to breathe but she's getting more words out at a time now, "what happened her flight." She shakes her head. This conversation is not helping her to slow her breathing down. "Damn me!" Frustrated moisture glitters in her eyes. He knows about the mating flights lesson. He knows, so she doesn't say it. There isn't time. Her grip on his collar tightens, her eyes fierce. "Mine. Mine to fix." Her breathing is picking up, not slowing. At least she doesn't have the breath to shout, cuss and argue? "This. Together. Test on me."

Jethaniel's throat works, but no words come out. He is aware of what happened with the mating flights lesson, and so he does not form any coherent argument against Darsce's attribution of blame. Her curse, however, brings a momentary tightening of his arms and a low-voiced "No." A denial. He is not certain precisely what he is denying - other than Darsce - but he cannot simply acknowledge it. She tugs at his collar, and he does not resist the way it draws his head a little further down. The thought of giving that - of doing that - to Darsce, though… that, he resists. His head gives a slow shake, back and forth and… it slows, and stops, because he hears the rising pace of her breathing. The anxiety's return. She wants this. She demands… this… of him. Jethaniel swallows, and his eyes seek Darsce's, seek some answer, some way to refuse her. Together? But… "…after me." Please, his grey eyes ask. At least let him have that much. Let him know the pain first, have it tuned in intensity on his body, prove it harmless before he… tests… on… Darsce.

But he doesn't know what a mess became of it. Does he? Iceblue eyes remain locked with his grey ones. It's hard to deny the pleading in them, but- Within the circle of his arms he'll feel the rise and fall of her ribcage. She's trying, despite the disagreement to slow that down. She needs to be able to use more words! She shakes her head. Hey - that's new! Her body uncurls a little, fingers however, are beyond her control just yet. She's no longer rocking herself but the post-adrenalin reaction is kicking in. Beginning with faint tremors, barely felt, vibrating her frame growing as the trembling of muscles, which heralds their gradual release from spasm. "No," she says, again between breaths. "You test. I report. You adjust. Faster this way. " Stubborn? Thy name is Darsce. She might welcome the pain. And he already told Marel it was harmless.

No, Jethaniel doesn't know what became of it, or at least not the full set of consequences. Nevertheless, there are some things he is not willing to hear against Darsce, even from Darsce. He continues to hold her as she trembles, and shakes his head slowly in another denial, echoing her motion with more ease of body - if not ease in the emotions underlying it. Harmless, yes. Painful? Also yes. That's the point. And Darsce… "No. Not until I have tested it. Once." Because if it fails - if it is excessive - it will be him. On that, Jethaniel is also stubborn. As stubborn as Darsce? Perhaps. "Then…" After his single test… he swallows, and his head tilts down, hair falling in front of his eyes though they remain lifted. "You may calibrate it." It will be faster, yes, but the haste is not essential. Seryth will not rise again until she has, at the very least, clutched this set of eggs. Darsce has not convinced Jethaniel with her arguments. She has demanded it of him, and he - given the evident importance that leads her to demand it under these circumstances - yields.

She cannot tell him about Soriana and Ka'el. That was a confidence she hasn't been bidden to share. And so she doesn't. Instead, as her breathing slows, her trembling increases and her limbs loosen. Her arms slip around him even as her frame shudders. It's akin to drug withdrawal and in a sense it is - adrenalin is a natural drug. It leaves her limbs weak and she sags in his arms. "No," she disagrees about him testing it first. Her eyes remain upon his, fear surging to the fore. "Don't do this to me, Jethaniel." Because if it is him, and things go awry, she done. She can't… imagine a future without him, doesn't want to. "Test it on us both together first then," she pleads. "Please Jethaniel." Haste is essential and she expresses this, "Marel is making herself ill with worry. She'll heal faster having the device since she's so determined to have it." She's still not pleased with the solution, but it isn't her decision and she's not being listened to by her younger sister.

As Darsce's body goes limp, Jethaniel draws her close, taking up the slack to press against her in a way her tensed body was incapable of permitting. She trembles, and yet her arms slip around him in return… even as she denies him, and Jethaniel's eyes are pleading in response to that no. "Darsce…" he says, and that plea is in the tone of his voice. If it is her, and something goes wrong… he… Jethaniel holds his eyes to Darsce's for a long moment, begging wordlessly… then closes them, and lowers his head. If something goes wrong, it will be his responsibility. He gives a small shake of his head to testing it on both. There is no need to make two devices; in fact, the requirement for speed is a counter-indication to that possibility. If there is one device, it can only be tested on one person. To do otherwise would invalidate the test and increase the risk. "I…" He will be responsible, regardless of the outcomes. He is already taking at least two lives - Marel's and Isyriath's - into his hands by the mere offer of this as a solution. Jethaniel is confident in his electrical theory, or he would not have offered. He knows the hazards. He knows how to mitigate them. He knows… that… Darsce requires this. She demands this of him, and Jethaniel bows his head to her. "…will…" He swallows, and neither lifts his head nor opens his eyes. "…test it on you."

To that head shake silent tears well in Darsce's eyes and spill over. And yet, her eyes continue pleading until his close her out. She knows full well what she's asking. This acquiescence is a sort of death for him. Any tension left in her body melts slowly at his final words. He's holding her full weight, her neck lolls back against the arm behind her, yet her arms remain around him. "You aren't so clinical and dispassionate… after all…" she murmurs as her eyes drift shut. The horror is gone from her voice, but even after her lashes touch her pale cheeks, those tears continue. Sorrow and relief both. "Promise you won't… just do this without telling me," she murmurs as she clings to awake for just a few seconds longer. Totally drained, growing heavier in his arms, she fights as long as she can to remain cognizant enough to listen for that avowal before she gives in to an exhausted sleep.

Jethaniel does not lift his head. How can he? He does not release Darsce, either, holding her against him. As such, she can feel the way he responds to her statement, his body tensing as hers eases. She thought… believed… and worse yet, perhaps she was right. His plan to mitigate harm involves the infliction of pain. He believes it will be effective. He believes it will permit Marel to enjoy her life and rebuild her bond with her dragon, knowing that - should it become necessary - she can redirect his attention without drastic personal consequence. He believes… but do not a great many things begin with belief? A flawed supposition that opens the door to the next, and the next, until… Jethaniel does not lift his head, and he does not protest Darsce's demands any further. "I will not," he says, his voice soft, blurred with the strain of holding back emotion. "I promise." He might as well. He… still cannot open his eyes to look at her, but he waits until the sound of her breathing proves her asleep, then carefully settles her back against his bed, rising to his feet over the protests of his ankle and lying down beside her to stare at his ceiling in silence. The stars are bright.


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