There Are Things We Have Not Survived

Xanadu Weyr - Weyrlingmaster's Office
// There's nothing fancy about this office, in fact it's quite utilitarian. There's nothing but a desk, a bookcase, a large filing cabinet and a long bench table - all made of wood stained in a warm golden hue. The desk, which consists of little more than a wooden slab, sits in the corner opposite the door. Allowing an eye to be kept on the young dragons and weyrlings, the wall that divides the office from the barracks has three large windows with wooden shutters in the same honey as the furniture that can be closed for privacy. Spacious dimensions, leaving more than enough room for the Weyrlingmaster to meet with his AWLMs - or several weyrlings at the table, which is placed underneath the windows, is softened by creamy walls and soft lighting. Otherwise the room seems almost bare.//

The day is closing out, there's a light rain which means that Leirithtopia is probably done for. Sadly for some, but for people who hate fun or love safety regulations, it's a huge relief because the place was a literal death trap. After a fun day of being bad at almost any chore, she is assigned, though there's never a lack of try Evi fails at anything involving heavy lifting or coordination. Even after losing some of her holder baby fat, she is dead clumsy. That probably explains some of what is occurring tonight, there's a small MEW outside the Weyrlingmasters door, and the door is opened extremely slowly and only enough for a small hairless feline to get in. Whatever is going on here, it's suspicious at the VERY LEAST. Curtains makes her way into the office but seems to be lost on what to do next. The small siamese pointed NEKKID cat mews and makes dizzy circles, she has something in her mouth and keeps going about a foot into the office and then back to the door. "SHH, no, no, Curtains OUT, target." Some kind of advanced feline training has been happening, the brown eyes peer in through the slit door as she attempts to direct the feline, the eyes are so low to the ground she has to be laying ON the floor at the threshold. The CATTE seems to be trying to understand, but can't get more than 2 feet from the door before she pixies herself back to the door for instruction. "No.. Noo, out. Curtains. OUT. TARGET" There's definitely something brightly colored in her mouth, and the naked catte is dressed her evening red cat pajamas, with a hood that lets her ears stick out and feet fully enclosed. After a few moments, Evi opens the door a SMIDGE more jutting her face in and reaching in to get her pet. At this moment, Curtains goes rogue and flounces her way towards the Weyrlingmaster desk, "Shards." She curses under her breath, whimpering slightly. This plan is going well. SO WELL.

Low voices and the smell of something warm and fresh-baked are possibly what attracted the kitten in the first place - that or the general aura of troubletroubletrouble that can only appeal to creatures of a similar mind. Curtains means mischief, a sentiment that can only be echoed as words fade at the sight of this caught-red-pawed tresspasser that's emerged in their midsts. "Well. It would seem you have company," is definitely the voice of the weyrleader, each word enunciated with dripping humor from his place on Ila'den's desk, chin dropped to his hand, elbow resting on his knee in turn, feet perched on either side of Ila's chair, framing his weyrmate's thighs with laced-up leather. Mischief runs rampant in blue-grey eyes that fix on Ila's face, a devious smile to match slow-growing, one hand extending as he says, "They're coming to me now." HE CAN KEEP IT RIGHT? RIGHT?! Wrong. Even he, in some rumpled, possibly-dazed, definitely-tired state of amusement, can hear Evangeline's whispers-that-aren't-really-whispers-at-all, that look he's giving Ila taking on a different meaning: before sunrise, they're his children. All of them. Isn't night duty great? "I'll leave you," he says, legs swinging to drop his weight to the floor, the maybe-sight, definite-sound of lips pressing against Ila'den's preceding a low, "Goodnight," and an even lower something else that even kitton ears can't hear before R'hyn is not-at-all subtly stepping right over Evangeline's peeping head, if she hasn't withdrawn by then. Does he say anything to her? No, but if she's looking he'll aim a little wave in her direction before hands stuff to pockets as he slouches off into the night.

Evi, a rule of thumb for the future: knock. Always knock. It might make the incriminating hands gripping the weyrleader's thighs, the upward tilt of Ila'den's chin, that damn-near-feral focus in a gaze absolutely riveted seem somehow less — less intense, less intimate, less something your gentle Bambi eyes aren't ready to see. It's the ease with which Ila'den handles the sudden interruption that speaks of a man whose life is rife with them; it's in the way his posture relaxes, in that shift he makes when his attention drops so he can see around his husband without removing his hands. It's there in the way one brow rises slow, in the seeming patience told only in that there's no real reaction at all when that grey eye focuses on one errant kitty, not at all up to performing her mistresses' tricks. "Mmm," is Ila'den's response to R'hyn's observation, a low hum of acknowledgement for words spoken. "And you cannot keep it," he informs, raspy, husky, almost bored despite definite humor in the way one corner of his lips pulls to the side, bares a single canine before he's leaning back, releasing R'hyn, making space that the Weyrleader might stand. Ila'den is already pressing to his feet when that probably kiss is returned, when, 'Goodnight,' is met with, "I'll be home soon," and a low, rumbling laugh for whatever whisper came next. R'hyn leaves, and Ila'den is on his heels, leaning down in a herald of protesting leathers so that he might pick up Curtain and cradle her in the crook of one arm. He risks scratches to hold open the door for his weyrmate, but he remains there, leaning against heavy wood, grey eye watching R'hyn until it can't anymore because he's going, going, gone. It's one, two, three heartbeats before Ila'den's gaze drops down to Evi, denotes prone positions and kitty-cat clothing with a husky growl of, "Are you coming in?" The quality of his voice is natural, Evi. He probably won't eat you.

All the best plans of mice, and mice. Evangeline does not think all the time before acting, despite meticulous planning and a lot of practice she is fixated on her failure but suddenly she is looking at the Weyrleader ON TOP of the Weyrlingmasters desk in a position that puzzles her. Very much in a 'if the pizza man really loves the babysitter why does he keep smacking her rear' type moment. ( Evi does not grasp what COULD be going on, her face scrunched up in contemplation. Maybe R'hyn needs to buy more chairs? Yes. Lack of good chairs seems fitting. Her entire plan falling apart on her and her gaze going up to the damn WEYRLEADER stepping over her prone form. Shit. Shit. Shit. Ground control to MAJOR TOM. Nope, nothing, for a full moment she lays on the floor and her entire 15 turns 11 months flashes before her brown-green eyes. A deep-seated sigh, her whole plan gone. Staring up at Ila'den her lips curl in, shoulders resting so fully on the floor she might be risking being sucked down into it. Her eyes go to her kitten and she rolls them slightly. THIS IS HER FAULT. At this juncture, Ila'den might notice that in the mouth of Curtains is an eye patch, a special one. Lots of care has gone into the teal and red paisley pattern, and Curtains is only holding it by the leather strap. "I um-." Pushing herself to a seated position she gets enough momentum to stand and crumples down like a puppy would to an alpha dog, head low and body in full submission with shoulders tucked up safely around her ears. Despite the slowness, she is learning. "I am sorry- Um. Il'aden, sir. I. Well Curtains, then I..Well you." Nope, no words tonight. Closing her eyes so she can avoid seeing the man she says, "Sir. I. Made-you-something-but-I-didn't-want-you-knowing-it-was-me-so-she was." That's it for that, out of words.

And Ila'den watches, he watches Evangeline's failure writ in crumbling poise, retains cat and that casual, at ease lean against the door as she gathers herself in lieu of any floorspace colluding to agreement, swallowing her whole. He watches that puppy-dog posture that almost — almost — could be concluded as deference as opposed to timidity, fear. But it's not. Ila'den reads a lot of things in the conclave pose of a body, in shoulders too high and a tongue that seems incapable of forming words meant to be strung together. And then Ila'den is doing more than watching: he's listening. He's so intent on the words Evangeline is speaking, so quiet through each stuttering, halted attempt at speech that one might equate his study of her to someone riveted. It's like for that moment, in that impossibly small space, she is the most important person come delivering absolution and he is waiting in the wings, hanging onto every word, hoping to be saved. "Ila'den," comes raspy, low, gritty as he just keeps leaning on that door, infuriating in absolute inaction. "Or Ila, if you like. You can even call me Kilarden if you are feeling a particular way about it. But not, 'Sir'." And now he's drawing that grey eye away from Evangeline so that he can, in fact, take in that eyepatch she'd been attempting to deliver via some kind of ULTA SECRET KITTY COUP. It's with a sweep of fingers between gremlin-cat ears, a brush of them along her jaw that he finally catches at the band and eases it away, coming away from the door so that he might lean sideways at the hips and set Curtains back down on all fours. His attention is on that offering now, turning it in his palm before his attention comes back to Evangeline, slowslowslow. "Thank you, little bird." And then there's a gesture again, a sweep of his hand towards his previously Weyrleader-occupied desk as he growls, "Though next time, I'd suggest trusting your secrecy to something a little less… feline." Low, rumbling laughter escapes him, something short-lived that bares his teeth and somehow manages to make the man look all the more villainous. And then he's tilting his chin towards the desk, moving to go and sit behind it once more. "Are you coming in or not?"

Evi settles into her downtrodden posture as if her body slowly accepts the new shape and sinks a bit lower. For her part, Evangeline's physical form exudes stress, her nails have been bitten down, and her lip has permanent teeth marks in it. All the joy that radiates off of her when she is 'on' is absolute despite the rigors of candidacy and long hours of emotional torment she brings upon herself. As Ila'den speaks, she twitches slightly, long past memory of something triggering a subconscious tic of fear. Swallowing all of her saliva with a gulp, she says, "Okay, thank you, si-, um, Ila'den." Small, fast nods, her head moving much to fast for social comfort. As Curtains is released from his grasp, she moves with unexpected speed, snapping up the feline and pulling her close to her chest. "Um, I just. Your." The deepest breath is taken, and she squares her shoulder and lifts her jaw. Her body posture is that of someone trying to win a spelling bee, ONE BIG BREATH EVI. "You, maybe could /possibly/ maybe seem a /little/ less um. You if you had some color." Her tone still lilts along at an unnatural pace, as if each breath she gets is precious and should be maximized. The hand not holding the feline balls up and goes to her mouth, the knuckle of her first digit being bitten down on, "I thought, she might do it. We, well. We did practice." The amount of exasperation in her tone sparkles of something else, someone else who one day might exist but does not now. Someone with a sense of humor, maybe even sarcasm. "Well-" Looking in at the office, she takes a step inside, a quick giant step as if the threshold she was just laying on was suddenly lava. "I- You do not have to wear it, I." Eyes tightly closed, and she is scrunching her whole face together, "I don't want any trouble, I just wanted.. to maybe." She wanted to not feel so nervous staring at this man, she wanted to give herself a focal point, she wanted to try and do something beautiful for someone Cita cared about because she cares about Cita. She wanted to see if he'd even wear it. She tried to feel ok, desperately. To feel like she fit, like she might be ok like she wasn't just acting. None of that comes out her mouth, a small whimper escapes and she sighs with defeat.

Ila'den is listening despite the fact that he's moving, pulling open a drawer where maybe he meant to retrieve something or put it away except that he pauses, the ascension of grey up, up, up until he can capture Evi's gaze with his own as dangerously slow a movement as the way his lips pull up in amusement. There's too many teeth, something feral, something wolfish, something dark and implicit to macabre humor. One, two, three, and there's a rumble of laughter in his chest, a continuity of motion as Ila'den peels black from the ruin of where once there must have been an eye so that he can place the new paisley, red-and-teal patch over it. The other is dropped into that drawer, closed away with a press of hand as Ila'den leans forward, brings both elbows on the desk and steeples his fingers, brow rising to further implicate amusement when he rasps, "Well? Do I look less… me, little bird?" … Probably not. Now he probably just looks like Ila'den in a red-and-teal, paisley patterned eyepatch. Because it's not so much the dress that comprises a man so infuriatingly self-assured. It's his presence, his aura, that absolute I-don't-give-a-fuck confidence that lends Ila'den the edge he dons like armor. And just like that, Ila'den is leaning back in his chair, a picture of perfect ease, his attention no less focused but certainly less predatory. Every physical manifestation of stress is noted but, as of yet, unremarked upon. "I have no doubt you practiced." Though perhaps he doubts the validity of success. PROBABLY BECAUSE HE HAS SO MANY CATS. "My experience with felines is that they always have their own agenda and very rarely deign to give it up." AND CLEARLY THEY WILL BE BETRAY YOU. But Ila'den is listening again, quiet as Evi squares her shoulders and find strength and keeps going. Ila'den is quiet for a long moment too, as if he's considering what words to speak into that silence and can't quite decide. "Sit. You look like," SHIT, EVI, "you need to talk."

Each movement Ila'den does is watched, wide eyes reading the room and searching for signs of a trap. Nothing. Brown eyes flicker left, then right, as if someone might be hiding in wait. Nothing. Evi's breathing slows, her shoulders slowly sinking into relaxation, and like a light switch, there's a small smile on her face. Fear cannot win this battle, the battle for whatever Evangeline is, or will be. Pressing her lips in, subconsciously AWARE that she is not fooling Ila'den, her head bobs up and down slowly because the tension has to go SOMEWHERE. As the new patch gets put on she is all puppy, her whole body wriggling and wiggling with satisfaction in her own creation, the triumph is apparent in the tight smile that shows now teeth but encompasses her entire face. HE PUT ON HER THING. YES. There's a twinkle in her eyes as she takes him in, head tucked down and then a small sigh. When it doesn't make a huge difference. BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD EVI DEAREST. Squinting at him, you can see the gerbils that run her inner thoughts moving, squinting and then opening her eyes wide with her brow furrowing and unfurrowing, teeth clenching, one side of her mouth down, one side up, switch, head tilt left, now right. A strange ritual of plotting and thought. Resignation overtakes her, and she finally finds a word, this time there's a bit of mischief, a spark of the light that is Evangeline. "Well, you know, it doesn't hurt. You, I mean. Maybe it's the red. Should have used— purple." The purple is squeaked out, eyes falling to the floor in expected reprimand as she scurries her way into a chair, wiggling her body as she notes that the office chair turns slightly, there's a tickle of delight as she presses it right and then left. SOMETHING TO DO LATER. Sitting up straight, shoulders pressed hard and body stiff, she sighs and says with a bit of defiance, a wise woman knows what she knows. "HERE." The stubbornness in her comes out, reaching into her pocket because EVERYTHING EVI has EVER made has HUGE hidden pockets. A small piece of paper is obtained, and Evi PULLS the feline up in front of her "CURTAINS. HERE." The ton one uses when training any animal, LOUD who knew she could BE so LOUD. Her voice is strong too and firm, a rare sound that might surprise many. "CURTAINS. OUT. TARGET" Pointing to the desk. MEW comes from the small animal, and she grabs the paper in her mouth, jumping from the girl's lap and looking EXACTLY like Templeton from charlottes web y'all. Ridiculous in every way. The red-dressed form of NEKKID siamese vaults herself onto the desk with ease and drops the paper, turning back to focus on Evangeline for furth instruction. Evi smiles and nods at her pet, "Curtains, RETURN." With that, she jumps off the desk and is back with her owner. HOW BOUT DAT. NOW SHE PERFORMS. "Ila. Ila'den. Um." A deep sigh and a shake of her head, eyes locked on the eye patch, nothing she makes frightens her, so it allows minimal comfort. "Sir, this is hard. I, they keep making me run laps, and carry stuff. I try, but. Everyone is older than me, and I am—." She is a bit chubby and lacks muscling, she is still waiting to become an adult.

But for all that Evangeline communicates in posture, in expression, in a culmination of words hedging at the border of insult, Ila'den's only real response is to laugh. Again. It's that husky, low pitched, rumble of sound that sends each corner of his mouth pulling in amusement, an amusement that lingers long after his laughter has died, sharpening hard lines. But he's listening. He isn't commenting about purple, about how it might soften the hard edges of a man who's seen too damn many things, but he listens. He watches too, with a detached, but no-less polite interest as Evi capitalizes on a moment of doubt to prove her ability, as the cat who would-not-could-not deliver her target in enough time to spare Evangeline this indignity does, at last, perform. "Well done," comes Ila'den's praise on a rasp of sound, his amusement somehow gentled by a show of self-defence no matter how subtle the backing. Ila'den challenged her; Evangeline rose to it — and proved him wrong. But once Curtains is back with Evi, once Evi's attention is focused on his eye patch, the assistant weyrlingmaster is back to listening, to watching Evi as she speaks and hearing every word that comes out of her mouth without so much as a hint of change in his expression. It doesn't gentle, it doesn't soften. There's no pity despite an absolute void of expectation. It's just a man hearing a young girl out, enduring the current state of her woes. "Ila'den," he corrects again, gruffness no less present despite the fact that he's speaking softer. But now he's leaning forward again, placing forearms on his desk as that too-big body presses into it, as his gaze finds Evangeline's to hold when he asks, "So am I to understand, then, that you are less… capable than your peers, Evangeline?"

There's a shift in Evi as Ila'den asks his question and she deflates, shoulders sagging and glum look sticking to her round face. "I would not say I am less capable, I.. I might be differently capable. Stefyr is big, and so he is strong, but he couldn't sew a button on." A wise woman KNOWS what she knows, "If I am sewing or cooking if I get a CHANCE to be in the caverns, I am fine. The training part, with the running. DO Dragonriders do that much running? I mean. DO you run a lot?" She is totally serious, the inflection in her voice reaks of consternation as if somehow this is a prank they are playing ON EVANGELINE. BASTARDS. "I do spend half my day um, with the weavers but that OTHER half. Maybe, I could run, less? Not no running, but less?" You know what she can try, looking down at her feet, she swings them happily. At that moment, having spoken her peace, she plants one foot and launches the chair in a circle with a squeaking giggle, the giggle of a gleeful child. She does this several times before she stops and laughs at Ila'den, an insecure laugh of -OH SHIT YOU KNOW YOU ARE STILL RIGHT THERE- before she tucks her head into her shoulders and snickers with her mouth closed. "I would totally make -all- the baby clothes Cita ever wanted to have to run less. But not like half less, no, I want to run like. A LOT less." OOOH, bribery. It's amazing how quickly she gets comfortable with someone, not that it will last, but the spinning made her bold. Forgetting her station, she was bold, maybe even glub. Suddenly having to face him again, she rocks back and forth nervously and sticks her knuckle back in her mouth. Bad Evi. Bad.

Ila'den. Watches. Evangeline. He watches her while he listens, that grey eye taking in every frenetic movement, every change in posture, every single bit of personality and more that she delivers with alacrity. He doesn't say a word when she stops spinning, when that laugh precedes an attempt to become some long-forgotten aquatic creature and Ila'den's lips press faintly up in a gesture that's more acknowledgement than humor. One, two, three, and she's nervous again, pushing her knuckles into her mouth, rocking in a manner that does nothing to soften the expression on Ila'den's face. His regard is predatory, cool; it's detached despite the fact he's so damningly aware of every tick of movement, every change of pace. He allows her that moment to settle on any one emotion, and instead of berating her or calling attention to her antics, Ila'den merely asks, "Why are you here, Evangeline? Not here, in my office. Not here, in Xanadu Weyr. Why are you here? Why are you standing?"

WHY. That is the question, right? Why is Evangeline here? You know what. The question takes her back, she pulls her knees up into the chair and shoves her face into her felines head. There's a deep breath. Eyes closed, and she lets her head sink backward if her eyes were open she would be looking at the ceiling. He broke her, that's it. He better get out some paperwork because, for the longest of three minutes, she is TOTALLY still. She has had her whole soul sucked from her, and she is broken. Opening her eyes, her mouth pushes out in a near pucker. "I do not have— anything." Her voice is so flat, she might as well be telling him they are out of milk. No inflection, the dead sound lacks any of her joy or fear. This fact is. "My mother abandoned me. First… at the half-moon, but then Monaco. No one can find her, she has a green firelizard, spoon could find me." There's a sob now, she is guarding her abdomen like he has stabbed her, like the physical pain of her most IMPORTANT person leaving her is physical. She breathes raggedly, balling her fists up. "Maybe. Just— maybe. Something out on the sands wants me. My family here loves me, but." This part is untrue, but the truth is funny when it's your truth. This is the reality Evi lives in, whether true or not. "I am not one of them." Her head falls forward, she seems so much smaller and sadder. He might have preferred her spinning to whatever this is. "Maybe I just needed a change of scenery. N'on believed in me. He thinks I might impress, and his hope might be all I need to actually do it. Maybe I am just wasting time." Tears quietly flow down her cheeks, and she is curled up in the chair, holding her cat, another person to avoid. Quietly in her head, she is plotting out all the ways to avoid Ila'den. All the ways to never have to ever be anywhere near him again. "I want to go home." The truest thing she has ever said to anyone. "But my home is gone. maybe this beats thinking about that all sharding day." There's no edge to her curse, everything she says just -is-. "I can go sir. I am sorry." Saying this, she doesn't move, it's a formality because her body does not want to move. It wants to sink down into the floor.

It would be ridiculous to assume at any point that Ila'den is ill-equipped to handle crying women; he raised Risali, after all — or, well, he is her father at any rate. But more than that, he has a proverbial army of children, whose accumulative tears and painful-things alone must translate into some experience with soothing feelings too big to fit into bodies so small. But there's none of that here; there's only Ila'den, watching as silence stretches and turns into one painfully lost little girl crying for all that life has wrought. And what does she have to show for it? Pain. Tears. The indignity of falling apart before a man she doesn't really know and all because she was trying to do one kind thing. So while Ila'den doesn't offer platitudes or gentle affirmations of worth, he does listen; he endures, weathers the tumult of emotion with Evangeline, remains a steady calm in the storm, allows that torrent of admissions and awful truths to paint a picture of somebody struggling to find just where, exactly, they belong. He does it patiently. It's not until Evi's finished that Ila'den moves, the friction of leathers in protest heralding his call to motion, the slide of fabric marking when Ila'den peels off his riding jacket to reveal a long-sleeved tunic underneath. It's with slow, measured steps that he comes to Evi's side, that he places that heavy density of fabric that smells too much like him — woodsy and spice — over the top of her head. It's a shelter, a shroud behind which she can fall apart, where nobody can bear witness to her undoing. Except, perhaps, for Ila'den — though he will never tell. Now he's sinking into a seat beside Evi, turning so that he can face her while he leans into the lip of his desk with one elbow. "You may leave if you want," comes that husky rasp, "But you should go knowing that the world will not always be kind to you. It will not relent because you've lost your home. It will not slow down because you cannot keep up. It doesn't change its face or level the playing ground merely because you want it to be something else." And he waits a long moment, his gaze heavy on her before he continues. "So are you a survivor, Evangeline, or are you a victim?"

There's a silence in Evangeline, she does twitch in fear when he comes near her, and her eyes get big. She doesn't know this man, her body half expecting him to hit her though. No one in the Weyr has hit her yet, old habits die hard. As the jacket covers her, she sobs, the sobbing starting deep in her core and coming out in unstoppable waves. With the sobbing comes a slight shiver, her body, fully invested in being sad in feeling ALL of it. Her mind, which has been trying to absorb all of the things that have to lead her to this chair, to this office, all of the tribulations of a life that has DUMPED her here. Dumped is an apt word for Evi, dumped a house on her head, dumped her at Monaco, and then again dumped her here. Into this office. "Cita-" SOB. Once she began crying like this, there's no stopping it, this is out of her control. "She said-." Another loud mewl, the sound sounds strangled as she attempts words around it. "I was- brave." Slowly the sobbing dies down, replaced by a silence that could swallow anyone. The silence that has turned her to stone. "The world is an asshole." Is muttered out, probably the least ladylike thing she has ever said, it's told with so much contempt it could be someone else. The bitterness that COULD fill her at the tender age of almost 16, the kind of anger and rage that COULD take root in this person. The type of violence that could ruin something beautiful and soft, destroying a rare life that exudes joy. SOmeone not disenchanted by the depravity of the universe but enchanted by the wonders of her existence could be gone. Lost and replaced with someone who would be far less rare in the changing sands of time, someone FAR LESS in every way. QUIET. STILL. That- that bitterness is not WHO you ARE Evi. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. "Survivor. Sir. If the world wanted me to run, it would have made it possible." There's slight MIRTH in her tone, all of it dry, but she's almost cheeky. The sentences show an indomitability in spirit that few posses, the ability to drag oneself from despair and darkness into light. The gift of choosing joy. IT might help that any report Ila'den has gotten on Evi's physical abilities would put her slightly below average at EVERYTHING. Balance, Strength, Speed (way below), dexterity. All of it reflects her indoorsy upbringing. All of it has been pointing to her needing MORE training, not less. "I wish-. "Do you know what you wish? Are you certain what you wish is what you want? No. You don't know. "-this was easier." It's unclear if she's talking about living in general or running anymore. It could be all of it. "You are um. Training Stefyr to spar, can… I get that for running? Can someone do it with me? NOT in front of me. WITH. If doing this.. means I have to."

Fear is not an emotion Ila'den is stranger to seeing — not in the expression of others, not when it comes to him. Perhaps the acknowledgement of what he already knows doesn't have the power to phase him anymore, maybe Ila'den never cared how easy it might be to draw parallels between the man he is and the monster he believes he's become. Either way, there is no outward reaction to Evangeline's twitch of fear; he does not accommodate her discomfort by affording her space, does not have the decency to spare for looking apologetic. He persists. He sits beside her, and he tells her those things that maybe, in this moment, she doesn't need to hear, and he persists. He listens too, waits out her tears, allows her to speak uninterrupted except for that husky, rumbling laughter that echoes her sentiment. "Aye," he rasps. "The world is an asshole." But he doesn't take this moment from her; he doesn't rob her of that freefall, of that moment to decide she's sick of falling and find something to hold onto instead, to fight back. He lets her find it, lets her find that strength he never doubted so that she can give the answer he knew she would have. His smile is muted, missing all those hard-dangerous-wolfish lines, trading them for something that’s almost pride — almost, except that it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “The world isn’t what’s keeping you here, little bird.” It’s that stubborn will, that belief that she can and so she does and now — through adversity, through a tangled mess of deciphering friend from foes, in enduring every up and down and in between — she’s here. “The world doesn’t change for anybody — not you, not me. No one. You adjust and you bend, or you break. Candidacy is the same, and if you impress, weyrlinghood more so. Maybe you will be lucky enough to find your lifemate on the sands, maybe you will be lucky to have a lifemate content to cruise through life and never be more than what the world expects them — you — to be. But what will you do if your dragon doesn’t care about who you were, or where you came from, or why it’s hard? What if all they see is how you can be better?” And Ila’den will wait, for a long moment, his gaze still fixed, his patience intact. “You gave me an eyepatch because you thought it would make it easier for you. You can’t change the world or the things in to make you more comfortable, Evi. You are the only thing in life you can control.” Just you. And now, now he will address her request, a slow exhale of breath as he leans back and brings his arms over his chest, no less focused on her. “Did you have somebody in mind?” Because Ila’den can think of several people, but he might as well ask her first before he polls the roster.

Underneath Ila’den’s coat, Evangeline is oddly safe, maybe because she can either hear him or see him but the two together makes her uneasy. The small tent he has made her eases her into honesty and allows her to be the person the other candidates have met on occasion. “How many people really have a house fall on them though?” The absurdity of her life coming into full view, and she shakes her head under the coat. Evi misses the smile, she has a riding jacket over her head and is in a musky private dimension all her own. “I don’t know that much about dragons. Can you um-learn as you go?” The touch of fear is back in her voice, the uncertainty of the whole thing, though it seems like a normal amount of fear considering the implications. Several large breaths are taken, her body attempting to unwind but finding peace in its current state, the closeness of knees to chest, and head to knees. At least false security still generates comfort. Though truthfully with this man, in this office she is probably the safest she has ever been. Not that she knows it, a body that has known fear as deeply as Evi’s feels the tremors of it long after the event. The earthquake ended a turn and a half ago, but she is still struggling to stand on a landscape that has not stopped moving since then. “I like the eye patch; you should wear it.” Evi protests for a moment, the pride she takes in her craftmanship obvious, “You won’t get one that will last like mine.” The assurance in this part of her life is concrete, something that she KNOWS is true and has abundant pride in. Stillness again and her breathing speeds up, the fear she feels from all sides of her coming and dragging her back down into an abyss. There’s a gap where she does not speak, does not move, the only sound is harsh uncontrolled breathing that wants desperately to be crying. Fighting for control of her emotions is an important battle, probably more then Evi will ever know if she is to gain a lifemate and have to share this pain with another. A hard swallow is followed by quiet, crisp words, they come out on the edge of tears, but it’s obvious she is fighting it back. “I- can do it.” At that moment, Evi pulls something up from her childhood, something she has probably carried for half her turns. An old Terran poem with lost significance. “Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die.” (The Charge Of The LightBrigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson) Her voice squeaks and cracks as she mumbles it out, a piece of wisdom from a time long lost, something from her mother. “Ma used to read it to us, gramma got it from an archive. I—” The ability to explain in words why this fits her now is lost to Evangeline, she does not have the vernacular yet or the intellectual prowess, but that spark of discernment presents itself. As the reason for this whole event comes back up, she hmms under her breath, “You um-if you want, um, can pick. Someone…fair.” There’s definitely an implication in her inflection that implies that everyone might not be fair. With that, she braves sitting up properly, pulling the coat down so that the top of her eyes and head are visible, for the first time in 5 months she looks directly at Ila’ den and really sees him. Her mind rapidly trying to coalesce all her ideas about him together and still a trite confused, the gerbils in her head working overtime. Who the hell is this person, somehow the figment in her head of the scary, mean, pirate man was SIMPLER. Everything in her life used to be so simple.

And isn't that the whole point behind a jacket? It's a place to be safe, a place where you can fall apart and nobody has to see, a place where you can go through every indignity without the added pressure of too damn many eyes on you. Ila'den doesn't have blankets or pillows in this tiny office; he doesn't have anything to offer that might present the security of privacy (because he knows the importance of pretending you're together when you're falling apart), and so he makes do with what he's got. "I would say as many people as are abused, or orphaned, or assaulted. Everybody has a chapter they don't read out loud." Which is not so much to diminish Evi's experience, but to remind her that she is not alone. That there are people who suffer every day and she is just as strong as they are. She can fight, she can overcome, she can win. She just has to believe that she can first. "I didn't know anything about dragons when Teimyrth hatched," comes that husky, raspy growl. "I was not born into weyr life." And where he came from, well… they avoided dragons at most any cost. He doesn't touch on that though, he doesn't share more than a mere glimpse of understanding nothing, once. It's the comment about the eyepatch that earns Evangeline husky, rumbling laughter, a sound pitched low in his chest that lingers in the corners of his mouth but dies almost as soon as it's past his lips. "Aye, well. I will keep it in mind, little bird." And he's wearing it now anyway. That counts for something, right? Right! It's that stillness, that quickness of breath, that fear that's damn near tangible in a sudden silence that bids Ila'den to move. It's not a grand gesture of comfort — well, for anybody who is not Ila'den, anyway. But he shifts forward just a little, just enough. He plants one of those too-big hands against the top of Evangeline's head (or rather, the jacket over it) and smooths it down, down where there would be hair if not for her temporary shelter, down between shoulder-blades and the curve of her spine and back up again — slow movements, repetitive, much like a father soothing the woes of a young child. 'I can do it,' she says, and Ila'den replies with a rasp of, "I know." And yet, when she lowers that jacket, when she turns her eyes onto him, Ila'den's resting his chin in the palm of his opposite hand, his eye closed as if he's tired and doing his best to stay here for somebody who needs him. Or maybe he was communicating down a private line, because that grey eye is coming open again, deliberate and slow before Evi becomes his focal point once more. "Risali. She runs every morning. She said she will run with you tomorrow, but we should find you somebody after that." And hey, Risali has slightly shorter legs than Evangeline, so at least the weyrwoman will have to work harder to keep up?

The hand on her body did not escape notice, but like all of what is happening in this office, it evades comment from Evangeline. Possibly by not speaking of it, they can solidly agree to never speak of this, of her weakness in spirit. All of his words are noted, and with the comment about him not being a weyr bred she “Oh’s” softly with a slight hmm of approval. Once she has sat up, Curtains is pulled up to sit between her knees and her body, a small cat crevice made entirely of Evi legs and torso. When the name of her running partner is said, she nearly groans, only the idea that Risali is his daughter holds it back, though pink bite covered lips purse and then flatten in a grimace. “Um,— ok.” Big brown eyes stare at Ila’den, lost on how to explain her nonrelationship with his daughter, and her avoidance of ever creating one for the last two months. “Where, does she want me to meet her?” The uncertainty in her shy tenor voice can easily be chalked up to the heavy emotional toll she has faced recently, and not the fact that Evangeline has avoided Risali so skillfully it’s become second nature. What a weirdly useless talent. “Ila’den.” Her voice touches his name in the way a child touches a stove. Unsure if her mouth really belongs, making the sound out loud. It’s not far from when a child is about to ask their parent for a favor, that heavy questioning in her voice. “Did um- Risali, agree to this?” She sounds skeptical AF. As if somehow her avoidance level should be noted somewhere, somehow. Scooting herself to the edge of the chair, she allows her legs to hang off of it, her mind deciding that whatever this is, it is about to end. Ballet slip-on covered feet get planted on the floor, and she begins to become what she was when she first entered the office. Folding the jacket, she stands and places it neatly on the desk, exhaling sharply and allowing her fingers to trace down its length and memorize the texture, ensuring her hands remember what it felt like. In a show of thanks, she pats the jacket, turning to face the Assistant Weyrlingmaster. Pulling her shoulders up and straightening her posture, her face still gives away the evenings break down, but the rest of her is back to business. With a kitten tucked under her arm, Evi awaits Ila’den’s reply.

“On the beach,” is Ila’den’s answer, immediate, disinterested. Evangeline moves to stand, and Ila’den’s hand drops down to his thigh, pressing into muscle so that his elbow bows outward while that grey eye tracks the candidate’s movement. A beat, and his eye is closing again, Evi’s answer for the use of Ila’s name a raspy, “Hmm?” that does nothing to stir his attention back towards her — not yet. It’s her second question that translates wolfishness into humor, that accentuates masculine, lazy amusement with the barest hint of canines. “You have met Risali, no?” Now that grey eye comes open again, focuses on Evi for one, two, three moments before he corrects his own posture, moves to stand. Ila’den collects his jacket from where it’s been carefully laid out and pulls it back on again — a wholly unnecessary gesture, given they are in an office. “I did not raise my daughter to be meek, Evangeline. She would not agree to something she did not want to do merely to garner your approval. Or anybody else’s, for that matter.” But he’s moving back around his desk, settling behind it, pulling paperwork back towards himself with an exhale of breath that says he’d rather be going home. “If there is nothing else, little bird, see that you close the door on your way out.”

"Beach," Evangeline repeats it back to Ila' den, showing that she heard him but also committing it to memory for her own purposes. At the mention of Risali, she nods hard several times, hard and fast, "No, No si- Ila, I have met her. She had breakfast with me right after I was searched." That breakfast wherein a proddy Risali reacted to Evi's attempts to comfort her by bolting out the door, ensuring months of awkwardness that Evangeline herself exasperated by avoiding the Weyrwoman. She isn't saying something, shifting from foot to foot and waggling her chin back and forth. "No, no- um. No- uh. No, she is THE Weyrwoman, why would she. No. She is THE WEYRWOMAN was- uh surprised she had time for-um. Me." Both her shoulders meet her ears, and she is frowning deeply she attempts to find the words, "I was making sure she knew that it was me we, um. We don't talk much." It's not untrue, but as Ila' den is offering her an out, she nods and meanders to the door. Before reaching it, she turns around and says, "Thank you." Her voice is barely above a whisper, sweet and tiny. With that, she slips out the door, softly shutting it and pitter-pattering herself and her kitty to the barracks. There's a good chance Ila'den will be getting a nice glittery cat card and cat-shaped cookies for his trouble.

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