A Hostile Work Environment

Xanadu Weyr - Weyrleaders' Office
Office and retreat, this is the domain of Xanadu's Weyrleaders. The door is in the southern wall, quite close to the western end while the northern wall is dominated by big, expansive windows, framed by sumptuous deep blue drapes edged with a brilliant gold braid and tied back with a thick rope of braided gold and blue cord. In between, the western wall is covered floor to ceiling with shelves that house all sorts of records, manuals and supplies that are used on a day-to-day basis.

The southern wall has the Weyrleader's desk — plain fellis wood, well polished and masculine. From behind his desk, the Weyrleader can look straight through the windows and out onto the main airspace of Xanadu. The eastern wall is where the Weyrwoman's desk resides: a lovely piece of furniture made of warm cherry wood. From her seat, a glance sideways gives her an equally good prospect out the window. There are a few other seats, some comfortably arranged around a low round table for small, informal meetings while there also some that can be drawn up to one of the desks.

On the west side of the door, the space is occupied by a low oblong table where refreshments can be set without someone needing to intrude. There is also an 'incoming' tray where incoming correspondence or similar items can be left.

IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN UNFORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HEAR LEIRITH (AND POSSIBLY XERMILTOTH, BUT WE WILL LEAVE THAT UP TO R'HYN), HERALDING THE GLORY (shame) OF BOTH OF XANADU'S ILLUSTRIOUS LEADERS, then surely you haven't escaped the healer-started rumor mill. Or maybe it was the people who had to clean up the guest weyr after Risali and R'hyn were through with each other. IT WAS A LITERAL BLOODBATH. FACES WERE BROKEN, BODIES WERE LOOKING WORSE FOR THE WEAR, NOBODY IS REALLY SURE HOW EITHER OF THEM SURVIVED. Except that they have, and it's been an entire day since the aftermath of a messy leadership flight lead up to this moment, this anticipation bordering on fear that grates at the ribs and forces Risali's breath to come shuddered and too-quick, like maybe she's running purely on adrenaline at this point. Her gait is off, a limp that speaks to something pulled, a body covered up in more layers than she might normally wear when it's the DEAD MIDDLE OF SUMMER (complete with a scarf), but nothing that can hide the angry bruising along her cheek. LOOK. STEFYR CLEARLY NEEDED SOMEBODY TO TAKE OVER THE BRUISE-FASHION BECAUSE HIS MARKS WERE FADING, FADING (gone?) and so RISALI RUINED R'HYN'S FACE. I kid (though he does, in the face area, look much worse than Risali). THE POINT IS THIS. It's a new day, and Risali is still a mess (physically, mentally), but she's here, damn it. She's here, shoving open the doors to her office and — stilling, those grey eyes going to the Weyrleader's desk, suddenly stricken and weak-legged until she can bite down on a battered lip (and immediately regret it) to draw herself back to reality. SHE PERSISTS. SHE BELIEVED SHE COULD, AND SO SHE DID. She collects herself, and she presses on, STOMPING TO HER DESK, THROWING HER CHAIR BACK WITH GUSTO, SITTING HERSELF THERE AS SHE SLAMS OPEN A DRAWER OR FIVE. And then that frustrated, half-growl, half-shriek (that breaks, because her voice is CURRENTLY RUINED, THANKS R'HYN) before she gives up on civility ALL TOGETHER and gets back up. To hunt for the booze, of course. "RHODY. STEFYR." She's not crying, shut up. "WHY IS THE RUM GONE?" GET HER ALCOHOL. STAT.

"It's not gone, it just moved," Rhodelia appears like MAGIC right as her name is called. Or maybe it's the fact that contrary to what she may have let on, her firelizards have been trained for at least some small duties and watching for a Weyrwoman on the move just happens to be one of those tasks. Even more magical, like some sort of Xanadian Mary Poppins, she comes around the corner bearing a tray full of numbweed and redwort and possibly even some willowbark tea as well. It's with a very cautious glance around the room that she enters, but at least it doesn't look any more like an active war-zone than the last time she left the office. She'll just head straight to the desk to plop that tray right down and start tinkering with some of the jars on it, while giving a head tilt towards a cabinet behind her. "The one with the stewards reports. Second drawer from the top."

It's easy to miss Stefyr, as it rarely is given his size, because he's crouched as low as he can get to deal with one of the file drawers on the western wall - the lower most, in fact, and when the door opens, his head ducks even farther down, making him almost nearly as small as he possibly can get. It so happens that the man is near the new hiding place of the alcohol and awkward-crab-steps sideways to fish in another drawer and produce it. He rises from his crouch and moves toward the Weyrwoman, dutifully doing as asked regardless of the wisdom of the task being asked of him, but then he stops dead. If the wide, wide eyes of his stare weren't enough to give away his shock and horror at the bruise on her face, the fact that he's suddenly gripping that glass bottle like it's the man that did that to Risali probably is a good clue that this is Stefyr's first time seeing such violence… on a woman. Probably, his sisters didn't play quite so rough as Risali. He's stunned to silence and not nearly as useful as Rhodelia is proving herself to be. After a moment, a shake ripples up his body and he leans into action, stepping forward to proffer the booze, jaw tight, expression dark and totally silent.

HOW MUCH WORSE IS R’HYN’S FACE? So. So much worse. At least it’s not immediately apparent on his entrance, too-big body still exuding the bitter cold of between, fingers smudging condensation from the surface of goggles as he rounds the corner towards the office. The heaviness of his sigh is audible from the hall, heavy steps slowing as he gives up, shoves them up his forehead, setting hair askance as he surrenders his none-too-clever disguise in favor of being able to see as he steps into the leadership office… and immediately wishes he’d kept the fogged goggles on. Maybe then he wouldn’t have to witness the lingering bruising Risali can’t quite hide, Rhodelia’s tray and the care and foresight it represents, the bottle of booze and dark look Stefyr is delivering the weyrwoman’s way; they, in turn, would not be able to witness the dark, ugly spread of bruising that leeches from nose to the pockets beneath eyes, the careful white bandaging standing out stark against the dark mottle, the wary flicker of blue-grey eyes that makes him look, for just a moment, far, far younger than he is. HE PERSISTS, allows the awkward dangle of hands to curl into fists instead, allows his own play for fury to kickstart his stride, carry him to a desk he’s visited umpteen times to deliver reports, treats, various children, but never once to occupy like he does now, a heavy, hiss-breathed drop into the seat behind it to growl a rough-voiced, “You look how I feel.” HE DOESN’T SAY ‘LIKE SHIT’, but it’s there to read in the look he flickers towards Risali before he expands it to the other pair of humans in the room, red-rimmed, potentially-sleepless blue-greys taking them all in one by one as though waiting for… something. Perhaps even he doesn’t know what.

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT RISALI, that Rhodelia comes in totally prepared? The goldrider doesn't want to think about it (or what the potential rumor-mill has spread, in lieu of any flights-outside-of-D'lei to compare to), but the expression she fixes on the woman speaks to those thin pieces of feigned strength holding her together coming completely undone. And then there's Stefyr, and it's his expression, his visible change in demeanor that bubbles up a hiccup of laughter that's not so much meant for him, but the utter irony of the entire situation. "I'm okay." She's not. "You should see the other guy." It's a whisper, aiming for humor and falling short because there's too much emotion and then she's reaching for that alcohol just as R'hyn comes in. Risali's attention turns onto Rhodelia instead, as she reaches out to take that tea with her other hand and looks as if she's choosing between WHICH TO DRINK FIRST with an expression that's gone somewhat blank (sans the persistence of fury in her expression). STEP. STEP. STEP. And R'hyn's voice draws her attention back to him, the sight of him behind the Weyrleader's desk undoing her in a way that has her slinging that cup of tea at him — though she purposely aims past him, so that she hits the wall instead of R'hyn. R'HYN HAS SEEN ENOUGH. "Fuck you," comes with a particular kind of vicious that's only marred by her inability to fully form words. And then she's settling into her seat, eyes going to Stefyr again, to Rhodelia, then down, down as she ROLLS UP SLEEVES and PULLS OFF HER SCARF so that she can take advantage of her assistant's foresight to kindness. THERE ARE BRUISES EVERYWHERE, marks and hints of teeth that paint as ugly a picture as the one you will find on R'hyn (sans his face, because LOOK AT HIS FACE). QUICK, RISA. TRY TO MAKE IT LESS AWKWARD (and not mourn the fact that you just WASTED YA TEA ON THE STUPID ONE OVER THERE). "How…" A beat. "How was the flight?" And then she's swallowing down a hiccup of laughter because the irony of that question is just as terrible. "Are you both okay?" SHE IS TRYING.

Word does spread fast, especially when it looks like the new weyrleader-pair may have tried to MURDER each other or at least left a crime scene behind in the guest weyr. There's only so much on the platter that Rhodelia's hands can occupy herself with, so when Risali actually takes the tea, Rhody gets her first good look at bruises on the goldrider's face. She'll try not to gape, but Rhody isn't quite that composed there is certainly a fair amount of jaw dropping before she busies herself with scurrying over towards Stefyr to jab an elbow at the shocked farmboy's side. Eyes widen a bit as R'hyn suddenly appears. Equally or even more-so bruised. She leans a little closer towards her fellow candidate for a whisper. "Looks like they got a matching set." Of injuries clearly. Too bad Stef is so tall that her whisper is probably a little too loud so anybody could hear. She winces as the tea cup goes flying, trying to take a half step to duck behind her meatshield friend. From the relative safety she'll blink at Risali's latest question. "Aren't we supposed to be asking you that?"

"Sweet Faranth," is not quiet enough for Stefyr's swearing to go unheard, unless someone happens to (HELP HIM OUT HERE, PEOPLE) speak at the exact moment that he catches sight of R'hyn's face and— everything. The dark look is gone because shock has a way of erasing whatever notions he might've been conceiving in the absence of counter-evidence; plus, Rhody elbowed him and that works wonders, too. His blue eyes shift, slightly panicked, to Rhodelia as if seeking direction, but they've already established there's no manual for this. So, though he's lacking in a pre-prepared tray of his own to offer, and he briefly flicks an awkward look toward Risali, he turns to sidle a few steps away from his fellow candidate and toward the Weyrleader's desk and the … yes, that's definitely the new Weyrleader seated behind it. He's just opening his mouth when the tea cup goes sailing by, missing him, but spattering his shirt with tea. It's not the first time that his shirt has suffered in this job though, so it can't be helped that all the reaction he has to spare for that is to pinch is shirt and pull it just a little away from his body, fanning it in the air to save himself from the hot liquid. Then, as if it hadn't happened at all (BECAUSE SOMETIMES HE CAN PRETEND TO COPE), he looks to R'hyn and tries again. His tone is calm, setting the example, and perhaps even a little more solicitous than it would have been if Risali hadn't been quite so mean to his personal hero. "Can I get you anything, sir?" He doesn't look at Risali now, just in case, because he's technically also R'hyn's assistant, even if he worked primarily with Rhodelia and Risali before. He makes a little gesture toward Rhodelia's tray, INVITING R'HYN AND HIMSELF to make use of it. "Or breakfast or klah or-?" He does not look at Risali's bottle, but does add, "Booze?" He looks back, finally, toward Risali and just gives her a little shrug. He's fine? Or he's sorry? Or… who knows. It's not a very descriptive gesture this time.

I mean, what’s a little attempted murder amongst friends, right? Sure, there was probably some fierce tongue-wagging concerning burned the sheets due to a positively alarming amount of bloodshed, but maybe someone has gone and exaggerated that particular tidbit. Maybe. Maybe. (They haven’t.) Still, it’s one thing to hear about it and another to see it with one’s own eyes, and R’hyn winces (or tries, and mostly looks pained for his efforts) at the twin wide-eyed looks from Rhodelia and Stefyr. Risali’s already stolen the one good joke that can be employed in this situation, and he’s not quite rude enough to insinuate they take a picture to make it last longer, instead offering up a gritty, singular laugh for Rhody’s failed whisper. “Matching. Right.” BECAUSE WHO HAS THE BROKEN NOSE OVER HERE? “I’m pretty sure that speaks for itself,” said of their flight, and it might be his usual banter if only it weren’t lacking peppy delivery; in fact, the majority of the bronzer’s personality is rather absent, the small, smile he offers Stefyr’s swear containing bitter edge. ‘She can’t save you now,’ that look promises, though maybe, just maybe, it eases somewhat as the big candidate steps closer, replaced by something wary and almost grateful. And then a teacup flies fast, the comical potential rather lost on the bronzerider because that’s an awful lot of HOT TEA splattering Stefyr, and paperwork, and the WALL that someone’s going to have to CLEAN and HAS R’HYN SEEN ENOUGH? HAS HE? Because that’s a pretty dark look he’s slanting Risali’s direction, nothing about his posture but everything about his demeanor shifting from steely resolve to active fight as he flicks a bruised, “Hard pass,” at her vicious swearing. BEEN THERE. DONE THAT. EARNED THE BADGE. “But if you’re quite done wasting resources, you can catch me up on whatever it was D’lei was doing before he… fell ill.” WE’RE JUST NOT GONNA SAY THE Q-WORD. IT’S FORBIDDEN. Stefyr’s calm words chip away at the sudden ire that’s flooded what’s left of his features, and this time there is a definite appreciative glitter to blue-grey eyes that fix on him, head shaking slowly, gingerly as he says, “No, thank you.” ESPECIALLY TO THE BOOZE, belied by a flickering glance at the bottle as though in fear she’ll hurl that next even as he offers a rather unkind, “She seems to have that under control. Napkins, maybe, if you know where they are,” said with a doubtful glance around the unfamiliar space, “and if you want any of that for yourself.” Breakfast, klah, the works. If he remembers the candidate is banished from alcohol, he doesn’t show it.

Maybe Risali hears the whisper, maybe Risali sees Rhodelia cower, maybe she witnesses Stefyr's shirt fall just as much victim to the plight of tea as R'hyn's wall. Maybe she does take note of that deafening, damning silence from Stefyr. But she stares at that tray for a long moment, her lips pressed together as she fights to keep tears at bay but can't quite seem to manage it. Because there's too much wrong. Because R'hyn is where D'lei should be, and D'lei is where she can't be. Because she is only human enough to endure feeling (being) a monster for so long, and so she whispers, "I would rather you didn't," to answer Rhodelia. The outcome is obvious anyway. "D'lei didn't come," is somehow too fragile, too broken, too much of an admittance than she wanted to divulge. So DON'T WORRY, she doesn't try to stop Stefyr from offering R'hyn anything — not his time, not the supplies Rhodelia thought to bring, not the booze she asked for. She doesn't try to interject or hinder his job. She leans to pull one glass, and then two from a drawer and pushes both that tray and the second glass towards the edge of her desk, so that their newest assistant has easier access to accommodate whatever R'hyn needs. But first she pours herself an entire glass of rum, and then she drinks it, in one go, wholly unlady-like and woefully unappreciative of such a fine liquor. It's the mention of D'lei's name that has her looking stricken again, that makes her second pouring of a glass to drink clumsy and sloppy because it's hard when you're crying. "Rhodelia," comes suddenly then, though Risali doesn't look up at her. "Can you cancel my appointments, please? All of them." And she's on her feet, grabbing a small folder stuffed full of papers from her desk as she pours another glass of rum and — just in case you thought she was going to be polite — drinks it on her way to R'hyn's desk. She drops the file there with a hoarse whisper of, "D'merial just filed a report for D — for the Weyrle — about some missing shipments. They had a meeting scheduled for the afternoon." And then she's headed back towards her desk, grabbing rum to pour another glass and down that as well before she sets both down on that tray, hauls it up, and stalks that to R'hyn's desk too. SLAM. "Weyrleader," comes detached, tired, resigned. "Congratulations." Risali's eyes come back up to Stefyr where they linger, to Rhodelia where they remain almost too long before she looks straight ahead. That's safer than bearing witness to the amalgamation of shock, horror, disappointment, disgust from EVERYBODY ELSE. And then she doesn't say anything else; she lifts her chin just so as if she means to carry herself with some dignity as not-nearly-long-enough strides carry her towards the door, as she steps back through it and DOESN'T EVEN GIVE HERSELF THE SATISFACTION OF ANOTHER SLAM. But don't worry, some poor little dredge will peek in in a moment, to come and clean up the mess the Weyrwoman couldn't quite let go of enough pride to kneel in and mop up herself. She's done enough kneeling before R'hyn for a lifetime. Today, somebody else can take up the mantle.

Rhodelia really has no words to respond to the all too fragile and broken Risali, instead her mouth just opens and closes as if she could possibly conjure some words, but just silence. The perfectly timed numbweed and perhaps not so perfectly timed tea was all the magic she could manage for this day. Eventual the only thing she can come up with is an "I'm sorry." It won't make things better since nothing anybody can do can make that whole situation better, but it doesn't make it any less true. As Stefyr is going to see R'hyn, Rhody will at least give Risa the privacy to chug that booze to her heart's content with no judgement, focusing instead on folding up some of the remnants of the blanket fort, or rather, just balling them up ina convenient pile in the corner to surely get pushed off to whatever drudge comes to clean up the tea. With the last request, she does look up and gives a little nod. "I can do that. And tomorrow's too." Give some more time for bruises to fade. The slamming of the door causes her to jump again and eyes shift towards the newest weyrleader to see if he might have any more surprises or requests in store.

The looks Stefyr is furtively giving Risali aren't disgust. In fact, they're almost a painful level of sympathy (but not pity, mmk?). The slams and jolts and general air of sharp daggers hanging around doesn't seem to register to him; these are subtleties (HA) beyond his ken. He does frown when Risali goes. It does prompt him to turn toward R'hyn, though, as Rhodelia does. It would be really convenient about now if Stefyr could magically offer knowledge of D'lei's desk and files for his new boss, but since he's still technically just a little in training for his habitual office incompetency (that's what he's being trained for, right?), he isn't able to jump in with any expertise. "I'm ready to work, sir," is what he'll offer R'hyn in polite decline of R'hyn's offer for all the things he'd just offered the Weyrleader. "I don't know the former Weyrleader's system, but I can help." CAN HE? HE'LL TRY. "When you get settled, sir." He gestures to the delivery of items courtesy of Risali. Then, with one glance to Rhodelia, he simply says, "I'll be right back." And out that door he goes without pausing to ask for permission to be dismissed. BETTER TO ASK FORGIVENESS.

R’hyn simply watches on in atypical silence, all the wild tension of a thunderstorm set to unleash still roiling just beneath the surface, but with no clear intent to act upon it. Not just yet. Instead blue-grey eyes follow Risali’s progress throughout the room, dropping only to mark objects being discarded on the surface of his desk, consider each without taking them in favor of returning his gaze to her face. It’s a look burdened with knowledge, with complications, with too many ties to too many aspects of intermingled lives and, in deflection of every personal thought, word, or action he could take, he instead says, “Save it. You can congratulate me when I’ve actually done something.” It’s less mean than it is provocative, seeking, perhaps, to stoke the flames of a familiar fight, reach for an old dynamic that they might not achieve right now, but soon, encapsulated in a dismissive tone that might well be easy to misinterpret. He might not look up again as she leaves, but the sigh he issues for the lack of her presence is telling, shoulders drooping low just once before he hitches them back into place. “Thank you. If either of you happen to know if this man happened to keep a schedule, or if he even had one considering…” THE DREADED Q-WORD. Loud exhale. “Then I’ll take that too.” Stefyr’s expression of a willingness to work is met with a nod, another, much less judgmental glance sent about the room as he considers the space (files and cabinets and even the rapid collapse of that pile of blankets) and then says, “Good. We have a lot to do.” But for now, he dismisses the excuse with a flicked salute, blue-grey eyes settling on Rhodelia as he stands, taking up the stack of files Risali left behind and thumbing through them as he says, “I don’t know where the line is drawn -” between what is done for the weyrwoman, and what is done for the weyrleader, intimated in a gesture of one finger between Risa’s desk and his “- or what it is, exactly, that you and Stefyr do, but I would like to. Plan to meet with me soon.” For now: “I called in the wingleaders and wingseconds. I don’t expect for it to be a quiet meeting. If you could keep the hall clear until they’re gone, I’d appreciate it.” And then he, too, is leaving the candidate to her own devices, hauling six feet of bruised displeasure down the hall to the ready room to HUFF AND PUFF AND BLOW SOME LIVELIHOODS DOWN.

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