Because I Care

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow
A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered amongst the meadow are a variety of weyrs, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves.

Runner stables with the paddock beyond are to the south beyond the meadow weyrs, a smithy and a woodcraft shop are settled closer in towards the path to the clearing, while trees border the western edge of the meadow, and a faint outline of a stone wall and low rolling hills can be seen to the north. Wagons laden with felled trees from the forests to the southwest or ore from the mountains to the southeast are hauled by burden beast up the road through the meadow, over the bridge spanning the river to be processed in the appropriate workshops.

Time has dragged on since Marel's release from the infirmary, and for all that she's been seen, she might as well be back there, captured by the healers. The shop has been left in the hands of its temporarily appointed manager, with the brownrider tracking sales and progress via the books and ordering that she won't leave in the hands of another, while any resumed work with her wing has involved little beyond paperwork, with much else being physically impossible. This morning, she's sat on the steps to her cottage, the door propped open behind her and the crutch she stills requires to walk leaning against the doorframe. Half in her weyr and half out of it seems safe enough. In her lap, perched on the thigh of her good leg, Brier waits patiently as she loads a message into the canister attached to his little harness.

Time has dragged on, that's for sure. Time has also gotten away from Ka'el, who has hit the ground running with the Weyrleader thing. It's been months since that fateful flight, and Ka'el has eased into the role with … perhaps only one or two bumps in the road. One of which may or may not involve fire. Although Weyrleading definitely never was in his plans for life, he seems to be doing alright so far. But there are still some big things that he believes requires his attention. Big things he's meant to give his attention to long before now. He heads through the meadow, clothing businesslike and light in material due to the season. He heads towards a familiar cottage and is pleased to see that it is occupied by just who he's looking for. Habitually, his eyes shift, looking for any signs of Isyriath nearby. As he approaches, he lifts a hand in a wave to her.

Isyriath is nowhere to be seen, though he's just as likely to be asleep behind the closed doors to his barn as he is to be across the Weyr and listening in on things, far from the girl he chose. Whatever the case is, Marel doesn't appear to be any the worse for it. If only she didn't catch Ka'el's wave she lifts her hands, palms upwards, to launch the wing-stunted Brier into the air and watch him vanish, she might continue to seem as relaxed as she does, sat on those steps with not a soul to be seen to converse with. She doesn't return that wave in kind, yet nor does she run, but she does shoot a quick glance back at the door and the crutch there, as if checking an escape route.

No wave? No acknowledgement at all? Luckily, that doesn't deter Ka'el at all, and although his hand lowers, his legs continue to bring him closer to that cottage. Through the grassy lawn. Past flowers and insects that lazily buzz from bloom to bloom. Straight to her steps where he pauses to look down at her for a moment. And then he sits, with no question of whether he's allowed to join her or not. He's her boss, he can do what he wants! Or, the more likely reason would be that asking permission would give her the option of telling him to scram, and being her friend, scramming is not an option that he is willing to take. He sits beside her and drapes his arms over his knees, slouching forward a bit with his eyes set not on her, but upon the view of the Weyr that has from her porch. From him, there's only silence for a while as the breeze blows and rustles the tassels of his knot. Then. "You didn't allow me to become a drunk. I thank you for that."

It's so easy to become accustomed to not having close contact with anyone (bar one) that even the simple act of Ka'el sitting beside her on the step makes Marel straighten, tension in her frame that wasn't there before. She doesn't speak, perhaps assuming that, since he's sought her out, he has an agenda of his own that doesn't require her input, and so she sits there, hands folded her in lap, back straight and shoulders squared. Her bad leg stretches out before her, the other tucked beneath her, and when Ka'el finally does speak, she keeps right on staring straight ahead. "If not me, someone else would have stopped you," she answers, voice low.

Ka’el is close, but his body is kept separate from hers. Space between, albeit only an inch or two, but a definite distinction between himself and her. Can he feel her tension? Probably not. Sense it? Maybe. But he's not looking at her still, and thus her rigidness possibly goes unnoticed. He cannot tell if Isyriath is here or not, nor does he ask after his commentary. His head shakes though as he watches a cloud that moves so slowly that it seems frozen in the blue summer sky. Frozen in place, like his companion at his side. "I don't think so," he answers honestly. "It was a bad time. My friends weren't my friends and I wasn't allowing them to by my friends. My girlfriend wasn't my girlfriend, and she didn't want to be. My family couldn't've known and still don't. I don't think anyone else would've stopped me, and I don't know where I'd be now if you hadn't." A slow inhale brings with it the aroma of her garden. Fresh and sweet. "I've been there, so I understand where you are," he says, speaking to that cloud. "I understand feeling desperate. You helped me out've my desperation. I want to help you out of yours."

Marel's expression clouds just the tiniest bit, but there's no frown, no curl of her lips; no nothing. "There's no desperation of which you speak," she says flatly and ever so calmly. "All of you have built this up into something so out of proportion and you're determined that I shouldn't put it behind me and move on. You all feel that you have the right to lecture and remind me and tell me exactly what you think of me, and just when I think you might have let it go, someone else pops up and weighs in." The faintest hint of heat begins to seep into her voice as she insists, "You think that I'm sobbing myself to sleep at night? I'm not. It isn't right or fair what you're all doing. None of you have the right to judge me and tell me how I'm feeling."

Ka'el turns his eyes to her now. "You'll fault me for caring, Marel?" he asks, his head canting ever so slightly. "What would you have me do? Continue on as if I never came to find you with a barricaded door and a tale of a knife to your leg? Pretend that I haven't seen your ma every day worried about you? Ignore when she tells me you wish to have a device that'll electrocute you the next time Seryth rises?" The corners of his lips pull down, though the frown that's made is not one of anger. "How do you expect me to not care after all that we've been through together? And how can you possibly think that I'm judging you or here to judge when you've seen me at my lowest point and helped me through? I'm not here to lecture. I've come to try to understand."

"You all tell the tale as if I were suicidal!" Marel protests, the swiftness of her response all there is to turn her words into exclamation and not statement. "And might I stress that all, for I don't appear to have any privacy now either. You're all gathering to discuss my options and what should be my choices behind my back." Or so she can only assume, going on what she knows. "Do you know what I didn't do when you were sleeping on my couch, hungover and miserable? I didn't go and discuss your situation with anyone." Now, she begins to try and struggle to her feet, unfolding what is by now a dead leg from beneath her, which doesn't provide her with much help when it has to take the strain of her bad leg. "The electrics weren't my idea, did anyone bother to tell you that? They thought of it."

Ka'el winces beneath her words, but he doesn't try to still them. He's sure she's taken worse from him. Not that he'd remember what, if anything, he might've yelled while under the influence. "No one's gathered.." he says, voice quiet. At least, no one's gathering with him to speak of her! He can't very well speak for her family. "Marel. I swear to you the only person I spoke to was M'kal. If you were Sori, I'd want to know if you were hurt. I knew he'd want to do something to help. I didn't speak ill of you to him, and I didn't speak to anyone else." So, she can thank M'kal for that? As she moves to rise, he automatically does too, reaching to help her whether she wants him to or not. "No, your ma didn't tell me it wasn't your idea. She didn't tell me whose idea it was, only that she wanted me to tell you that she'd go along with it. But in truth, it didn't seem to me like she really wants to."

Stubbornly, Marel favours trying to cling to the doorframe and claw her way back to her feet rather than accepting any help, but when her balance shifts and one heel slips and fails to support her, she stumbles against Ka'el and struggles to remain upright. "What does it matter?" she demands, while she's, to her mind, making a fool of herself anyway. "You are the people who want to keep talking about it. I'm trying to get on with things and you're all fixating. Just let me get on with my work and stop thinking about how I feel or how I don't feel or whatever it is." One hand slams in against the doorframe again, fingers curling as though she make it help her. "I'm one person who did something that can't be undone. I don't need everyone having a bigger crisis about it than I am!"

Ack! See? He knew she needed help! Ka'el's quick to steady her as she stumbles, his frown one of focus as he curls an arm around her. And unfortunately for Marel who might not appreciate his goodwill, he's not going to let her go. "You count, Marel. You might just be one person, but you count. You count a lot to me because you're my person. I'm not going to speak for anyone else because frankly, I don't know what they've said, what they're planning, what they've told you, or anything. Don't be angry at me for caring about you. I came to see you because I care. I've always come to see you because I've always cared. I want to make sure you're ok because I haven't seen you in weeks. Can't you see that this is the same as how it was for me? I did something that couldn't be undone, and I wanted to ignore everything about it. I wanted to ignore how I felt and how everyone else felt, and so I drank. And if you didn't turn it into a big deal, I'd still be drinking or worse. Someone has to make things like this into a big deal Marel because when you're in it yourself and all you want to do is ignore, you don't see how big of a deal it really is."

Marel doesn't try to step away or wriggle her way free, whether it's because she actually can't or just doesn't have the will to. Whatever the case is, it keeps her there next to Ka'el, his arm around her, one of hers still propped against the doorframe like she can't trust either of her legs whatsoever. "…I'm not dying," she murmurs. "I'm not sitting in a dark room, depressed and tearful. And, no matter what everyone thinks, I'm not letting Isyriath suffer or go without either. I just don't want to be around anyone, because all conversation consists of is questions or judgement and I can't keep repeating myself again and again." She looks out across the meadow, gaze unfocused. "I'm sorry I can't be all smiles and laughter or good dance partner, but I'm actually in pain most of the time." An admittance of something is better than nothing.

"Do you really think I expect you to be smiles an' laughter all the time, Marel? And I've no clue why you'd say anything about dancing, as I don't think I've ever danced with you. Though in case you're wondering, I'm rather good at it." A small smile lives briefly. "I never thought of you as someone who'd sit alone and cry, but I don't put it past anyone to feel sad. I wouldn't think less of you if you did feel sad, and I don't think less of you for not wanting to be around anyone." Been there, done that. His grip upon her remains firm. A steady brace. "Upsetting you wasn't what I came here to do. Nor was it to interrogate you," he adds with a small frown. "Or judge or anything else. I only want to be there for you a I promised I would be. As you've been for me." His eyes flit to that open door. "I can help you in if that's where you want to go, then leave you alone. If you want fellis or something for the pain, I can get that too, then leave you be. Just tell me what it is that you need from me."

"…Metaphorically speaking," Marel clarifies, of her dance partner comment, though she can't get the words out without a shadow of a rueful smile making a single tug at one corner of her mouth. "Though it can hardly not be literal too; I don't believe I'll be dancing for a while." She's accepting and not at all sorry for herself, practical to the last, even though the prospect of walking with a limp for the rest of her life has likely crossed her mind. "I just…" Slow to continue, the effort it takes to make herself ask for anything is easily heard in the absolute silence. "I just want to have a conversation that doesn't involve asking how I am or telling me how stupid I've been or telling me what I have to do now. I just want someone to accept it all for what it is and not think I'm horribly dark and twisted." She sighs and simply drops her head to rest against his shoulder. "…Don't go."

"If you were metaphorically speaking, then you should've brought up that you can't always do cartwheels while jugglin' as you ride a runner backwards, too," remarks Ka'el, his grin making a second appearance now. But he understands what she means and understands how she feels and wouldn't take it personally if she told him to scram after all. But she doesn't, and he likes that answer more. As her head comes to his shoulder, his natural reaction is to kiss her, lips pressing against sable hued hair and lingering there as if his closeness alone would be enough to shield her from that which she wishes to hide from and his lips can draw away her pain. Neither happens, even though he wishes it would. A warm exhale is released against her tresses, and after another soft brush of his lips, he suffices with gently resting his head against hers. He's not going anywhere. "Wish granted. I can tell you all about the requests I've gotten this month. That's a conversation worth having. First thing on my desk this morning was a message demanding that I have a man arrested because he believes his neighbor has trained his firelizard to steal turnips from his garden." He smirks. “C’mon. Let’s sit down, and I’ll bet I’ll have you doubled over with laughin’ by the third story.” Whatever it is he has waiting for him to attend to today can wait. This is far more important.

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