Breaking (In) a Weyrleader 101

WARNING: Contains strong language, violence, nudity, and a WHOLE HEAPING HELPING OF TOO MANY EMOTIONS


Xanadu Weyr - Guest Weyr
Rustic and simple, this one-roomed cottage sits at the edge of the forest near the feeding grounds. The decor is spartan with a wide, comfortable bed and a couch, table and chairs and small kitchenette. Kept stocked with food and drink, the bed freshened with sheets and coverlets after each use by the weyrstaff, it's nothing more than a place to give riders participating in mating flights a bit of privacy when they need it.

EVERYTHING. HURTS. Her legs hurt, her arms hurt, her face hurts, her bones hurt — her heart hurts. That's an odd sensation, more even than the press of a body she knows before she's even woken up isn't the body that should be there. Maybe it's why Risali stays still, why she doesn't jerk away from heat, from wrongwrongwrong muscle, from the gentle movement of breath drawn in and exhaled out beneath her. She doesn't scramble to put space between herself and whoever this is; she doesn't grab for sheets or sit up with every intention of wrapping them around her shoulders to put some kind of barrier between them. She just… lays there, and she cries. Not shuddering, gasping sobs, no. No, these are silent tears, the kind marked less by sound and more by the tightening of a body wound too tight, that uncontrolled assault of emotion that cannot be dammed and will not be stopped. And it takes her too long to finally sit up, to will sore muscles into catching that blanket in her hands so that she can sit up on WHATEVER POOR SOUL THIS IS and bring it around her shoulders. BUT IT'S — "R'hyn." There's a hint of heat in her voice, something that might have been fury except that her voice breaks on the first breath and doesn't seem to recover. "No," comes a little stronger, driven by a denial that changes into a plea of, "No, no, no, no." And then stronger, a sudden fury expelled on another, "NO." Now those hands are grasping, dropping the security of blankets so that she can grab a pillow and SHOVE IT DOWN OVER R'HYN'S FACE. But don't worry, she's smol, and even if R'hyn couldn't fight her off, she WOULDN'T KILL HIM. Still. Won't doesn't mean she can't try to come damn close to it.

And R’hyn is as he always is - uselessly oblivious to a fault. He is much slower to reach full awareness, a soporific curl of arms around Risali’s shoulders accompanied by a low, sleepy noise that speaks to a mind struggling to stay at rest. Here there be terrible truths. Here there be pain and fire and fury. Here there be dragons. And so he fights the raging hotpulldrag of skin battered, bruised, and broken, acknowledges it with only the most strained of whispered exhales and digs of fingertips against her shoulders, the skin about eyes tensing just so before he relaxes beneath her again… And yet, despite best efforts, sleep does not return; Risali tenses, and R’hyn soothes, instinct some dozen years honed bidding muscles to finally ease, hands to finally drop, tracing a line down the goldrider’s spine in a singular comforting sweep and then — then every inch of every action slams down on him at once, agony lancing through the height of one temple to the other, cascading down the bridge of his nose in a white-hot throb that doesn’t stop there. Shoulders bitch, a split lip oozes with a backwards pull as teeth bare, the curve of his spine away from so much discomfort disturbing injuries he wasn’t even aware of until then. Warm hands stay steady on Risali’s hips, keeping her there as pain writhes through him, as calves bark through the dig of heels against fabric and then— “Fuck.” Then that voice, that singular word, that initial speaking of his own name takes the situation from bad to worse, hands slamming away from her as though she were a brand, slamming to sheets where they twist and catch. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” echoes her spoken refusals, the poundpoundpounding of his head beating in the space between words, head turning as though if he just doesn’t open his eyes, never sees her perched upon his stomach, voice breaking in a way that damns him so many times there’s no way to conceive of the multitude, that maybe he can deny it ever happened. Again. A-fucking-gain. “He didn’t—” He doesn’t get to finish the sentence, doesn’t even manage to turn his face out of the pillow to face her, the pressure against his bruised cheek perhaps the only thing that saves her from being bodily thrown from the bed. Their shift in position is precipitous enough as it is, a sharp snarl from beneath the pillow accompanied by a full-bodied buck, hands instinctively raising to catch her around the wrists, twist six-and-a-quarter feet of honed bronzerider until she’s pinned beneath him, hands slamming knuckles up against the headboard, knees tucked between thighs ridden with bitemarks to keep the long, naked length of his form suspended far above hers as he - lingers there, breathing hard and clipped as agony roars through every inch of his form, takes away his breath as well as it lends an angry edge to it, the will to dredge up words a literal fight she can watch cross his features if she’s looking as he musters the willpower to snarl, “What. The fuck. Are you doing,” in tones made nasal by the only-too-obvious bruised-up break of his nose.

Pain lances up her spine, sears through her wrists, jars her knuckles, steals the very breath from her lungs. There's less fury in the sound that sudden movement rips from her throat; it's more a protest, a keening, something broken and undone, something that crumbles more and more as she struggles in futile twists and bucks of her tiny body to be free of the overtly mascline press-hold-hover trapping her here, in this place, where the sheets smell wrong and the bed's too small and R'hyn feels too big. But Risali musters strength, finds a kindle of what was once a tempest somewhere buried in a haze of lust-addled forgetfulness and something so raw it makes every shallow breath feel like her lungs are catching fire. She twists her face into spite, into disgust, into cruel words, into something barbed and acerbic that… never comes. It dies on the tremble of her lips, is shed in the echoing ripple down her body and suddenly she's crying again because the answer, the truth, the one thing she knows is that, "I don't know." And every part of a woman who stitches fragmented pieces of herself together with feigned pride and ruined confidence breaks, shatters. "Where is D'lei?" comes hopeless, pleading, as if R'hyn might change reality with one single answer, as if she might bargain for D'lei's health through a man as powerless as she is. There's something desperate in the repetition of those three words, as if R'hyn might somehow make the answer to why D'lei didn't come, why Leirith lost contact with Garouth, why it's R'hyn instead of D'lei here in the aftermath of another flight — "WHERE IS D'LEI?" And she's thrashing again, twisting hips that protest every movement, trying to bring her legs up so she can press her feet to R'hyn's thighs and twist beneath him for leverage, but she can't quite manage it. She can't manage it, and she knows that even if her body weren't as many shades of misused as R'hyn's, she still wouldn't be able to do it. So she crumbles again. She breaks again. That loss of control rips a sob from her and she hates herself for it, but she can't stop. She swallows down air because she knows — she knows — that she is going to have to give up even more of herself to a man she's spent a lifetime refusing to be vulnerable to. "Please," comes breathy, broken, a word forced from between lips as finally, finally Risali wills grey eyes to grey-blue. "I just… want to go home." Later, when she has strength enough to hate him again, she'll deal with every repercussion of Leirith's ill-timed flight.

And R’hyn is as he always is - a goddamned sucker. Somewhere between hopeless pleading and the twist of her small, small, muchtoosmall form beneath his, the bronzerider eases, aggression replaced by doubt, ire surrendering to the closest thing to apology he’s shown her since the last time, no doubt. Every locked muscle eases, every clenching press of his fingers against her skin loosening one by one, as though he needs the count of each and every release to back him down from the point of further regret. “I don’t know,” he echoes, less desperate, more aggrieved, as though even he didn’t suspect to be here, doing this, suffering in every literal sense of the word as eyes tighten, as muscles shudder and threaten to give out from misuse and abuse, as his gaze lifts to course around the room as though waiting for the quarantined rider to do as he did before, to saunter vaguely downwards to take command of the situation and make a bad thing somehow less so. But there’s no D’lei this time, no silencer that can be applied to hot golden thoughts that R’hyn can feel even from here, that he pushes from his mind because he cannot confront the reality that Xermiltoth’s smugness presents: that he has succeeded yet again in raising his rider to weyrleadership, and this time he will not be denied. “I don’t know,” he says again, softer this time, moue running counterpoint to her own. Where she is loud words and sharp thrashes, he is the picture of defeat, allowing the kicks and shoves at his person to break his hold, folding backwards on himself, butt to heels, hands limp on corded thighs, shoulders curved, looking so young but somehow so old as he simply… stares at some wrinkle of their sheets where blood has pooled and dried in an ugly smear. His jaw works as though there might be something - ANYTHING - else to say to save this moment, to save face, to save them, but in the end he just shakes his head and gingerly shifts to move himself closer to the edge of the bed. “Then go,” he murmurs in a voice cracked and broken, not from emotion, but from sheer use, judging by the hand that lifts to touch it, tracing bitemarks and bruises up to his jaw, across his face, brushing flakes of blood from beneath his nose with a sharp intake of breath for the tenderness the action agitates. “But Risa?” R’hyn hesitates, head tilted in her direction only just so, as though weighing the wisdom of his words, whether they need - should - ought - be said before he indulges in some cruelty he can hate himself for ever expressing aloud later. “Make sure you go between.”

Freedom. Somehow it doesn't taste the way that Risali thought it would. It's bitter and angry, nearly as suffocating as too-strong hands trapping her somewhere she should not be. Maybe it's the unspoken, kindred spirit that she finds in a misery not so unlike her own, in that deafening roar of something that should never have happened to either of them that keeps Risali there, on the bed, as R'hyn moves away and she, in a bid for some semblance of modesty (where the need for any has long gone), reaches for that blood-ruined sheet to pull over her body. Maybe she's drawn to the echo of someone broken, that understanding of a world made incorrect by one action (or two, or three). Maybe she's just mad, but she reaches for R'hyn across that sudden distance, moves before she even realizes that she gave her body permission to do it. And it hurts. The pressure of moving to her knees alone is an agony that flashes white-hot and almost stops her, that shudders her breath as much as adrenaline or shouting because it hurts but Risali has never gone down without a fight. So she makes it. She makes it before R'hyn can finish speaking. She keeps her hold on a sheet that wouldn't matter anyway so that she can bring her arms around his shoulders from behind and cover them both with it, so that she can press her too-small body into his too-big back and squeeze him into this reprieve, this respite, this sanctuary, seeking comfort as much as she aims to give it. "What?" comes a whisper, her own voice cracking with misuse as much as emotion, doesn't seem to keep the fact that she's still crying from her voice as she waits and he — he answers. Every muscle, rent with protest, angry at every movement, screaming to restrestrestrest goes taut as five. simple. words. make up the sum of one simple request. 'Make sure you go between.' Make. Sure. You. Go. Between. A younger Risali might have allowed herself to be ruled by that rush of welcome rage, a Risali before Leirith might have found strength in it, curled her hand into a fist and aimed to break R'hyn's jaw to complement his nose but this Risali, the one whose mind is equally full of a contented dragon wills herself to breathe. Those fingers tightening to press nails into already abused skin relax, are forced away from Xanadu's new Weyrleader in tandem with the way that Risali forces herself away. Her existence narrows down to little more than the subtle shift of weight on the bed, the rustle of ruined sheets as she pulls them with her to stand. She moves in a damning silence around the room to collect a shirt — his, by the look of it, because it's much too large to be her own. It doesn't matter; she pulls it on and comes to stand before him, hesitating only seconds before she sinks into a crouch and balances on the tips of her toes, puts her hands on his knees more to steady herself than to make any actual contact. And those grey eyes seek out blue-grey again, find them through the mangled mess she's made of his face and too-damn-much black hair. "Fuck you, R'hyn," comes without strength compelling enough to match the twist of her features. But maybe she doesn't need it to, because there's a half whimper of pain or a bitten-back sob as she rises to move with an unsteady gait, as she leans around him to grab the pillow on the bed and SWING IT INTO THE SIDE OF HIS FACE AS HARD AS SHE POSSIBLY CAN. "YOU don't get to tell ME what to do." And for half a moment she stands there, angry and half dressed and not caring that one can only appear so ferocious through STUPID TEARS. But even after that, she doesn't leave. She watches him as she stalks around the room to find her clothes like some kind of caged beast, as she picks her way through overturned and broken furniture to find haphazardly strewn bits of her own outfit. ON THE PLUS SIDE: SHE HASN'T GONE FOR HIS EYES. YET. SO THERE IS THAT.

R’hyn’s body telegraphs his words well before they’re ever uttered - he doesn’t return Risali’s affection, doesn’t even allow himself to lean into it, to take any mutual consolation from the intended comfort of the press of her small form against his back. He simply exists in the forever-brevity of that moment, speaks words from his lips with the sort of numb detachment inherent to the embracing of an out-of-body experience, the mood, the pain, the too-loud beAtbEAtBEAT of blood through his skull hammering more and more of his gentle nature from him with each passing second. There’s an intake of breath for the tension of her fingers against his skin, a stilling of his form as though waiting for that violent impulse to be acted upon, one that does not ease despite her retreat. He knows he’s done wrong well before the silence that speaks more volumes than words possibly could, eyes spun far and away from any possible connection with her own, refusing to lift to follow her progress around the weyr until she’s literally perched on the balls of her feet before him. The motion smacks of such utter familiarity that blue-greys snap to meet hers, mingled vulnerability and loathing - inner or outer or situational, it’s impossible to tell in this moment - floating amidst a silvery sheen. Regret. So much regret. It’s weighing on him already, leaning so hard that it must be some kind of insanity to repeat behavior in the hopes of eliciting a different response, or perhaps some form of self-flagellation as he says, lip lifting in the barest of bleeding sneers, “You already did that. Look at where it’s gotten us.” It speaks volumes that he doesn’t move, doesn’t flinch when she reaches past him, reels back, connects the pillow across the side of his face, and he just takes it like he thinks he deserves it, the muffled noise he issues one of instinct, bitten off as quickly as possible. A sigh emerges in its wake, pushed from between teeth in a heavy hiss as he tries to contain a pain-ridden tremble, fails as he lifts his hand to his nose and it comes away bloody, storm-dark eyes staring at the bright iron-red as he smudges it between his fingers with fascinated dispassion. “Fine,” he croaks after a too-long moment, hands tightening on the edge of the bed, knuckles going white as he tries to settle some inner reeling before pushing himself to his feet. Heedless of nudity - unashamed of it in the face of everything else, perhaps - he simply stands there as he tries to gain at least one bearing, gaze laden with empty fury pointed as downwards as the curve of his shoulders, fixated at some point on the floor as he says, “then please, as a personal favor and sincere request: Go. Away.” SARCASM MUCH? MAYBE GO FOR THE EYES AFTER ALL. HE CLEARLY DESERVES IT.

"FARANTH, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?" One hand is thrown from her person, palm poised, fingers splayed, as if she might censor the reality of R'hyn's masculinity with the careful application of one hand she was definitely not using to touch him exactly there the night before. But with just as much frenetic energy as she suddenly forces into her voice (that breaks and cracks and goes hoarse despite her best efforts), Risali's closing both of her eyes, and pressing the heels of her palms in against them — only… that hurts, and there's a hiss before her arms come up in a universal show of exasperated defeat. "No. You know what —" And there she goes, jerking that tunic up, shedding modesty and propriety and the hope that she might pretend this hadn't happened for a second time by balling so much fabric into an ineffectual, flimsy ball and chucking it at R'hyn. It probably hits somewhere near his chest and falls to a useless heap on the floor, but Risali's hands are already in motion again, gesturing to the whole of her person — her nudity — with a sarcasm translated through motion. "You might as well take a good hard look because we BOTH know Leirith," and here, here there is a vicious jab towards the door, a vague gesture meant to encompass the fact that somewhere in the world, somewhere beyond this tiny guest weyr, beyond broken beds and broken minds there is a bombastic queen entangled in a vivacious bronze and loving every minute of it. "We BOTH know how she operates, and this. This is probably going to happen again. AND AGAIN. AND AGAIN." And she's suddenly all fury, picking up a piece of broken furniture to hurl at the Weyrleader, unwilling or unable to take proper aim and looking WHOLLY unapologetic if she Gets Him Somewhere Good. "And this is YOUR. FAULT. YOURS. YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT. YOU SHOULD BE IN FORT WEYR, BUT YOU'RE HERE." It's not logical. It's not rational. Ilyscaeth is bound to the sands by eggs she'd sired with Xermiltoth and Risali doesn't care. She doesn't care that every other syllable goes unheard, or is pitched oddly, or doesn't come out at all. Now she's grabbing somebody's pants and hurling those at him. Then a boot. Then whatever in the hell that was. "Go WHERE, R'hyn? WHERE? EVERY DAY, I am going to have to see YOU and you're going to have to see ME because YOU didn't GO AWAY." Nope. Clearly throwing things has lost its novelty because NOW SHE WANTS TO BE PHYSICAL. Which she aims for, by SHOVING AT HIS CHEST. "So get fucking used to it, Weyrleader R'hyn. Man the FUCK UP and say hello your new normal because you." SHOVE. "Couldn't." SHOVE. "LEAVE." And then she's heaving, swallowing down breaths that are threatening to turn into sobs, parting with some of that fury grating on her ribs because she's coming back to the first thing he said, to the one thing she didn't have the strength to address until now. "And the last time," That is utterly broken, "the last time, it got us Zyriden." Lest he forget that they made one beautiful thing together. "So you're stuck with me because of that too."

“ME?!” Ah. There it is. The sort of hysterics only a mother can love. Sorely lacking in that department, R’hyn thrusts his own hands up into the air between them, making to hide her behind palms as she did him, or perhaps fend off the sudden onslaught of clothes, furniture, words with hisses of intermingled pain and vexation. Despite the raise of his arms to shield his person, he takes what she’s throwing, lets shards of what the guest weyr used to be form bruises where there previously were none, exacerbate flight wounds that ruined wooden surfaces to begin with, accepting each and every blow - glancing or otherwise - until finally something collides heavily with a knee already laced with hard, ugly scars. Agony looks for a moment like it might bring R’hyn to his knees; he manages just barely, catching the edge of the mattress with one hand and holding himself there by sheer force of will, teeth gritted in a snarl that can’t linger because it hurts. Everything hurts, and it sears away the fragile strands of restraint, sets sadness ablaze and transmogrifies it into something else, something just shy of the impotent rage of his youth. “Listen, if you thought this was my fucking idea of a good time, that this was some kind of a lark or ill-conceived whim, you’re fucking mistaken,” he growls as he steps forward, a slow but inexorable cross to her person heedless of mutual undress, more than willing to take hits in order to draw closer, closer, closer still. “Because we BOTH know Xermiltoth, and if you think for one second that dragon wouldn’t seize me in his claws and throw me to the sand just like he did last time, I have news for you. He wanted this, and without Garouth, he was going to do everything in his power to have it whether you, or I, or anyone else wanted it.” As for where she should go? “Literally anywhere but here. Your weyr. Mine. The smoldering crater of Half Moon. I don’t give a fuck. I don’t want to see you until duty absolutely requires it, and maybe not even then,” he grates out, words interspersed between her shoves, lips twisting somewhere unkind, a series of teeth stained red by the blood flowing unchecked from his nose. Something cracks. Something bids him laugh, low and derisive as blue-grey eyes finally do drop to give her that long, hard look, lingering not on her, but on bruises of his own creation. “Look at yourself,” he taunts as if he has room to talk. “You wouldn’t know normal if it bit you in the ass.” Lean. “But go ahead. Pretend you know me. Pretend that because you’ve only done this with one man, you know how it’s supposed to go. Pretend I love our son any less than I do all of my children because he’s complicated. Whatever will get you the fuck out of this room so I can have ten fucking minutes to…” To what? “To breathe?” Cue strangled laughter. A sudden collapse of aggressive posture. A ceilingwards wheel of too-bright eyes as his poor leg wobbles and hitches as he strides away, back to the string of shit she slung his way, dragging pants from the mess and finally hauling them up over his hips as hysterics continue, wet and bubbly because irony broke the camel’s back. “You know, it sounds like you’re the one stuck with me.” Which is for some reason hilarious in this moment, a smile curving an ugly slash in his features without reaching his eyes as he huffs clipped laughter and digs for the shirt somewhere at the bottom of the pile - if only so he can whip it back at her. Him losing his shirt in flights: a time honored tradition. FIGHT ME.

Risali endures it. She endures every single word, every invasion of space, every step that brings R'hyn closer and closer and closer and closer and she doesn't yield an inch. That chin lifts in defiance, and then she's laughing too. She's laughing as both of her arms are flung away from her body, as fury permeates every inch of her being and sheer will alone forces, "You did this to me," from between her teeth. "YOU." And then she's going for it; Risali is lunging forward to catch biceps in hands preemptively clawed, digging into already abused flesh so that she has even more leverage when she slams her knee into an area of anatomy that he's only just covered up. But she doesn't dance away because that would be smart and this? This is Risali, Risali who waits until R'hyn's on his knees regardless of where his hands go next, who takes advantage of a sudden lack in height so that she can grab his hair at the base of his skull and pull hard, to force him to look up at her. "And don't you ever," comes venomous, her entire tiny frame shaking with a fury fueled by adrenaline, "ever try to tower over me like that again." She lets him go with a shove, leans down only to grab that shirt he tossed her way and pull it on as she turns to take not-nearly-long-enough-strides out the door. SLAM. And she's gone. …Or, it'd be R'hyn's lucky day if she was. But just as suddenly she's back, crying without the damning addition of sobs as those same strides with that horrible hobble in her gait carries her right back to R'hyn. She's reeling back, drawing her arm back and back and back so that she can slap him across the face in a motion executed with alacrity. "And for the record," comes broken and hoarse and no less emphatic despite the emotion making it all so much worse, "I didn't like it either. I've done this with two men. Two. But they were men, which is why I refuse to include you on the list. Fuck you, R'hyn. Fuck you." And there she goes again, this time with her pants, unsteady with an already hindered stride as she tries to pull them on, ultimately successful as she SLAMS the door on her second exit. You probably think it's over. R'hyn's probably thinking he can SEE A HEALER AND GET HIS NOSE SET BEFORE HE BLEEDS TO DEATH, but no. No… just when you thought it couldn't get worse, Risali is back. Again. A-freaking-gain. She's back, and more furious now than she was the first time, except this time she's actually sobbing when she leans down to grab her boots and hug them to her chest. And for a long moment she looks at R'hyn through her own hurts, through her own demons, through her own regrets. For a long moment she knows she should be kind but she can't so she says nothing, her lips trembling, her body shaking with fury and too much emotion so at odds with the first. And then: "Leirith won't take me between." Another piece of pride surrendered, help asked for despite the fact that it comes derisive on those syllables that do manage to form. And then she's storming back out again, but not far enough away. Now she has to wait for that uncomfortable ride between, and hope that she doesn't 'accidentally' slip from some straps on the way back out.

It’s her laughter that does it, that draws R’hyn to her fury like a moth to flame, that brings him close enough that the use of his height becomes its own form of abuse, that it takes the entire length of his nose to point a glare down at her for furious, teeth-hissed words. “And apparently I’ll do it again. And again. And again.” If distaste weren’t apparent, it would almost be a damning tableau, the bronzerider using every inch of too much body, too much muscle to crowd her, urge her backwards with growled words uttered not-too-close but not-far-enough from her face. It sets up the hike of her knee into the rise of his thighs, robs him of opportunity to fend her off, results in a pained, gasping choke that reverses into a sharp snarl of pain that draws on and on as he drops to his knees, hands far too busy pressing to abused flesh, breaking the abruptness of the fall with a slap of palm to floor, to possibly do anything to her. Head bowed, it’s impossible to tell what emotion ripples visibly through his form, a long shudder that ripples the length of his spine, sets hands to trembling as he curls them against his stomach; impossible until she jerks his head up so eyes meet her, tear tracks belied by the sudden douse of light in his blue-grey gaze. Breathing edges somewhere regulated, full-bodied shivers leeching into vacancy, eyes dropping to fixate anywhere but her face as she shoves him back and he goes, body holding its sideways bow as she storms out of the guest weyr with a SLAM… Only to return moments later. R’hyn doesn’t move from the half-crouch he’s adopted, doesn’t flinch for the projection of the slap she delivers across his face, lets the force of it jerk his head to the side where it stays, lips parting only so he can breathe through the red throb of pain pounding through his head, lick at the well of blood pooling along his upper lip, enduring words, waiting, waiting for the exit she finally makes so he can drop his head to his knees, fist hands in the fabric of his pants before they extend outwards, latch on the first solid objects he can find in his proximity, that he might rise to hurl them against stone walls, smash them against the tilted remains of a bureau, reversing the path of destruction until palms press flat against the wall nearest the bed, slide until arms curl over the back of his head, allowing him a slow descent until his forehead can rest against the persistent cold of stone. That’s how she finds him, leaning hard, waiting out the angry pounding of his head, neck, shoulders, all, all, all of him, defiance, fear, refusal, anger rippling the length of his scratched, bruised, battered spine as she lingers, lingers, lingers, and he’s just pushed away, just tilted his body towards her, furious defeat in his every line, lips already parted to deliver some acerbic line when the goldrider finally speaks and whatever pride R’hyn had left breaks on a choked laugh. Because of course. Of course her dragon won’t take her between. Of course she comes back to him, in preference to her bounty of other, better men in her life. Of course this success or failure hinges on his performance of a task. Because of course. This and more flickers through his expression, but at least it is expression. At least it is a longsuffering sigh he issues as he stoops to shove feet into boots, at least it is a hiss of pain, a flicker of ire that passes through his gaze as he hauls his flight jacket up over his shoulders. At least it is with a scoff of disgust that he jerks his former knot free of its moorings, fists it in his hand, makes it look as though he might throw it, too, before he stuffs it into a pocket instead as he takes stilted, pained steps towards her, pressing one surprisingly gentle hand against her shoulder to turn her towards the door and encourage her back outside that he might slam the door shut behind them one last time.

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