F*** THIS Therapy

Xanadu Weyr - Dragons' Pool
Light filters in through a jagged crack in the wall, but while it's dark in here, it's certainly not cold. Water seeps through the walls, forming trickles and rivulets that run down to an enormous pool only to rise again as steam. There's enough room for a full-grown gold dragon - though she'd be curled nose over tail and likely displace half the water. Smaller dragons will find ample chance to bathe and play - which may splash just as much, all things considered. Glowbaskets hang from hooks drilled into the rock, casting their dim phosphorescence over stone shattered and blackened by smoke.

Early morning at Xanadu Weyr, so early that Rukbat has not risen yet to greet the day with her light. The summer air is crisp and carries the barest possibility that fall might soon break the warm summer heat into something far more pleasant. Evangeline has her fair share of off-kilter habits, none of them have escaped the notice of the Weyrlingstaff, but she has been allowed to persist due to there harmless nature. Of those is the fact that NOBODY in the barracks has ever seen her shoulders, she is always fully dressed and even changes into a skirt picked for nighttime sleep before tucking in. Her devotion to the task is absolute and borders on pious. That is why it would surprise no one that nobody knows when or where she showers, only that Evi is rarely dirty and thus must bathe somewhere. Today finds her doing her secret bathing ritual, her purple skirt and long-sleeved blouse are folded neatly by the edge of the pool. Next to that are 4 mustard-colored towels that have been embroidered with cats in various stages of play. Evangeline can be found easily, her dirty blonde hair is wet and piled up on the edge of the pool. The young woman's eyes are closed, and she looks exhausted, dark circles on pale skin give her a gaunt edge that is ill befitting her typical ebullience. On her left arm, barely visible above the water is a HUGE bruise that looks like it has occurred relatively recently as the purple and blue pigments have not fully filled in the mark. The mark is unique, the distinct impression of a handprint with darkening near where one would assume the knuckles of the person were. One might think the person who made this mark was wearing jewelry. For her part, Evangeline is half asleep, her body stealing rest away from loud draconic voices or whatever else seems to haunt the weaver girl.

For all that it's so early, this isn't a wholly usual time of day to find Stefyr entering the dragon pool cavern, towel over his shoulder, small satchel over an arm. He's already sweaty, already actually in need of what this pool offers. It must have been an early practice morning with Jaynas, the candidate who spars with the bigger man each dawn. Since this is closer than the hot springs in the main complex, this is the place Stefyr, too, frequently opts to bathe - at least twice daily, really. Once after sparring and once before bed. But since this is extra early for his usual time here, it's not a surprise that he hasn't run into Evangeline and her particular routine before. His blue gaze falls on the sole occupant of the pool as he approaches and really, given their history, he mightn't be blamed for deciding the trek to the other pools might be worth it today only… his eyes fall on that lurid mark, and he's moving before there's thought. His things are dumped unceremoniously and he's coming to the edge of the pool where her hair is piled, kneeling down. Even if she doesn't catch the approach, the sweaty scent of a big man who's been working out is probably a dead giveaway of his presence, even if he doesn't smell as horrid as death probably would; just a little gross, really. "Evi," is an exhale of a breath as his hand reaches out to hover over the mark, the arm, worry creasing his brow as he looks down at her face. He's not looking farther down, of course. He's just searching the younger girl's face. "Are you okay?" It's the obvious question and one his voice gently demands answer to.

There's a detachment that follows trauma, a willingness of the mind to try and move away from the injured body and find refuge elsewhere. Evangeline is familiar with being in many pieces, this new experience has added another puzzle piece to a project that she was not up to solving before, now it's a big mess. Stefyr is not heard immediately, wherever she was residing in herself, sheltered her from his sound, but she does smell him. The oversized nose that mars the face of the otherwise dull girl wrinkles and retracts, the tip of her nose upturns slightly from the nasal assault. Still, she seems to nod back off until Stefyr is speaking, and every muscle in her body reacts with a jerk. "What-" That momentary shock of not knowing where one is overtakes the pale girl, her body moving forward about a foot and breathing doubling in speed. Giant, terrified brown-green eyes glance up to meet Stefyr's. Beat. Recognition comes to her face, and arms instinctively cross defensively over her chest to aid her in protecting her modesty. "STEFYR." It is said in much too loud a voice, an accusation laced into his name. The gerbils that run her mind are slow this morning, and his hand pointing to her arm is noticed. Reflexively one palm goes to cover the injury, hiding her wound from others so she may appear less weak. "I- um, I am. yes." Bowing her head down, her ear reaches her shoulder with the practiced ease of someone who has long been a broken baby bird. Arms wrap around herself, pressing in to provide comfort, the pressure that might make the bad things go away. "There— was a man, in um. The meadow. He—." no more words, caught between the urge to cover up and the stillness that shock demands. One major canary in the coal mine that is Evangeline is the fact that instead of trying to cover more, she simply sits with arms wrapped around herself.

Stefyr's intensity might be frightening to someone who doesn't know him. He's watching her face as she moves, as she speaks, and his eyes never drop, never flick away while she's just starting to explain. He makes a rumbling noise in his chest that is some variety of unhappy with this explanation. Still, he glances back toward the opening to the cave. Maybe he contemplates storming down to the meadow, searching out some man there who might have marked her, and— well, frankly, probably getting his ass kicked. He's only so many weeks into Ila's self-defense training and sparring practice. Plus, there are rules to consider. And consider them, he must. Besides. His eyes go back to the girl in the pool and he takes a steadying sort of breath. "I'm coming in," he warns her, going by way of his things, moving them closer to hers and dropping them down. He searches his bag briefly and sets a jar on the lip of the pool before he strips off his pool, pats down his pockets to check for anything that shouldn't get wet and then climbs in right there, into the depths. "Let me see?" He invites, holding out one hand along the top of the water toward that arm. If she looked, she might see that he's not without his own bruises, though much lighter - some in different states of healing. Not many, but a few. Sparring daily with purpose does tend to leave some marks after all.

The rumbling from the blonde ripples through Evangeline, and she flinches, her shoulders convulsing inward; every noise provokes a physical reaction from the girl. Beyond the subconscious twitches, that are a direct result of having her mental and physical space violated by someone more than capable of maiming and killing her, she is deathly still. Head tucked down, and eyes snapping tightly shut and opening in an attempt to erase the imprint left on her that delves far deeper than the discoloration on her arm. As he comments about entering the pool, her lips purse out in displeasure, but there is no protest, she holds herself together with her own arms vice gripped as if the smallest motion might press her to fall apart. "Stefyr- I'm ok." The weak tremble to her voice contradicts the statement, and while she watches him, she does not move; slowly, with great hesitation, she offers her arm so that he can asses the damage for himself. The offending individual had to be big; it's obvious a males hand did this as her bicep was enclosed in its entirety, and it's clear as the water surrounding them that she would have stood a minimal chance of escaping. Someone had AHOLD of Evi, a secure hold at that. If the purple and blue contusions are scrutinized, it's evident that the perpetrator was wearing multiple rings and that each left an imprint in too white skin. Skin that rarely anybody ever touches or sees. Violence is hard to witness, yet with this young woman of 15 turns, there's something grotesque in harming her. Her eyes are tightly closed, her face pinched in pain and apprehension as she allows herself to be looked over. The free arm is still gripped over her chest. "I um- I use to think Dragonriders were heroes. You know. I um- I. I would visit Nana and listen to the ballad of Moreta's ride." Her voice is detached and whispy, "I thought Dragonriders were good people, but I don't know now. He um- he had lots of jewelry, and his dragon… I don't even know if it was a dragon. He had a lot of metal on his leather's, they were all black. His hair was black. His dragon was black. He was— black. Not um- not on the outside, inside somewhere." The fear in her voice is abundant; her hair flopping against the wet stone with each small shake of her head.

Despite that blond head of hair and occasionally vacant-without-a-lifemate-for-excuse that the big man sometimes sports, it's certainly not lost on Stefyr that things are not okay. "Okay," is quiet, serious agreement from him because he won't tear that assertion from its place bandaging unseen wounds. He knows too much about his own. The lack of challenge might be worse, though, because even though he's there to figuratively (or physically) push against, he's not offering a fight that would, if nothing else, serve to distract her from whatever it is going on behind her eyes. His eyes go from her face to her arm, and then he moves slowly toward her. Without realizing it, his palms are above the water in a gesture probably ingrained into him long ago for approaching an injured or frightened animal. It might be appropriate as wounds do sometime have a way of bringing the inner animal to the surface, one way or another. He doesn't want to spook Evi any more than he would an animal, any more than she already is. His reach is slow and steady, one palm cupping under her wrist, touch gentle and gentling, and when he reaches for her upper arm, he doesn't actually touch but instead cups the water under her bicep, close enough to be felt to be there but not near enough for skin to touch skin. His brows draw down and down as he listens, as he looks at the bruise. "I have numbweed," he starts with after a moment of silent assessment. "I used it after practice with Jaynas." That's easiest, it's a foothold in the discussion that is bound to become fraught. "If it's who I think it was…" He draws a slow, deliberately even breath before going on, "His dragon was bronze," on the outside, "but he is a beastly one." It's said with the exhaustion of those who have already wrung out all their emotions. "What did he say to you?" is quiet, but he offers quickly and briefly, "He told me that wanting to be a dragonrider wasn't good enough… It shook me." And he lifts his blue eyes to let the younger girl see just how deep: cut him to the core and left him bleeding his life's spirit, if not any actual blood. And, of course, "You don't have to tell me," is probably just to make sure in the here and now that she knows he's asking, not demanding, not insisting, just… inviting her into a difficult place that he'll do his damnedest to make safe, for now.

Everyone has armor, a shield against the darkness of the world. Evangeline's armor has always been her clothing. The physical ability to block herself from being seen creates the illusion of control. The control of what is visible, regulating what she is surrendering to individuals who want more than they deserve. Those who want to take too much. Here in this pool of water, her armor stripped away, her emotional bulwarks stripped bare as her eccentric buoyancy has all but been snuffed out she is, less. In the low light of the pools, dark eyes find Stefyr's, her hand quickly taken and relinquished to his power every move watched as her eyes gauge the reaction to her mishandling. Pressing her shoulder blades into the rock behind her as hard as she can, the solid-state offering a brace. The injured hand flaps above the water with a minute splash, and anxious flapping. The shock takes over her face, and her head juts forward with a wag, gasping and searching for words. Nothing. Silence overtakes her, her head falls back against the stone in defeat, and her eyes rake the cavern ceiling. "I'm okay. I have it." Is squeaked out again, a half-hearted attempt to convince herself as much as anyone else. "You saw him too?" An escape of sound that is one octave from a whisper, a whisp that could get lost in the space between the two Candidates. After several ragged breaths, her head settles back on her shoulders, fingers on the arm currently blocking her nudity climb up to her shoulder. The limb creates a nook, a safe spot for her chin to rest, fingers digging into flesh harshly enough to move indent the tissue. "He- told me." Burying her lips in the nook and tucking closer to her chest, eyes staring into the water and catching the glimmer of her own reflection. "He said if I could not face his dragon then, um, I did not-uh. Belong here. That I did not know what I signed up for. That— a dragon would not fill the holes." A giant gulp, the saliva in her mouth being swallowed as sad eyes look up to search the blonde man's. "If wanting to be a dragonrider is not enough Stefyr, then, maybe this is a fool's errand, but if there's a dragon." Whimpering, the dragon flashing through her mind disarming her voice again. "IF-" Nevertheless, she presses through, "There is a dragon willing to pick that surely… there's a chance?" Hope slowly attempts to find her again, in darkness, her voice catching a spark for a brief snippet of time. All at once, it vanishes, and her eyes scan the water, staring at her own reflection.

Stefyr's expression as he takes in the bruise is unreadable, even for all that she's paying his face such close attention in those moments. There's a grimace when she explains what the black rider said to her, but he doesn't interrupt. When she finishes, his baritone is hushed but earnest. "It doesn't look like it feels good, but I've seen worse end healed. Are you having any trouble using your arm? You might be stiff tomorrow around there. The numbweed will help." That's a repeat, but it's safer than the rest. But that's the only part that's safe. He shifts his grip from her wrist, down to her hand, drawing it under the water where his second hand joins his first to close over her smaller one. It's the closest to an embrace that he can offer and possibly that she could accept given the current location and situation. After a moment of just holding that hand with gentle pressure, his hands start a massage of the fingers, rubbing across the back of her hand and palm with a sort of rough movement reminiscent of a cat's bathing tongue, trying to draw more circulation into the limb. His hands will move up her arm, but go no higher than the elbow. Even as he offers this small comfort, he takes a breath and strings words together like a lifeline. "Sounds like he's a one-trick pony. It sounds a lot like what he said to me. But listen," listen, he stops rubbing her arm and just holds her hand in his, squeezing gently, because this is important. "I'm working through all this just like you are, but here's what I've got: dragonriders are just like us. I grew up on stories, too. But look around our class. Who here are heroes? Who are villains? There's probably some of both. There are good riders, bad riders, scary riders, sweet riders. For every N'on there's probably one like that asshole. Dragons are different each to each, but I've never heard of an evil dragon, so even that beast of his can't be that bad even if he does leave behind as mental creep worse than being in dark room hearing sounds from under the bed." The rubbing starts again on her arm, fingers kneading gently. "I'm sorry you met him. That he was such an asshole to you." He empathizes with that part. "But for all that I wish you hadn't had the experience like that, like this," his eyes flick to her bruise, "I think it was good for me that I met him. Because you know what? Fuck that asshole. Wanting to be a dragonrider is plenty good enough a reason to stand. Not knowing what it means or what you hope to get out of it or even hoping a dragon's going to fill some missing piece inside of you isn't a good enough reason not to try it." He takes one more deep breath because there's more. "You might end up with some scary piece of work like that dragon of his. But I don't think any rider ever is paired with a dragon that isn't somehow right for them. R'hyn said you're a we and you become everything the dragon needs you to be, everything and more than you would have willingly become. It's a sacrifice but it's not all bad. If you're worried, talk to them. The riders you know that are good, decent people. And next time you see that guy, you tell him to go fuck himself and you leave." That last might have a little snarl in it and catching himself getting worked up, the blond clamps his jaw shut, a muscle twitching and he lets go of her hand because he might have squeezed a skosh too hard there toward the end. "Sorry," is the necessary and meant mumble thereafter. And that shuddery breath is testament that he's not quite as over it as he wishes he were.

Evangeline is rarely touched by another person, certainly, her physical contact with other candidates has been limited to nearly none. For that reason when Stefyr maintains contact she does not react, brow furrowing for a moment as her mind has plenty to do without trying to overthink the man’s kindness. The collapsing inward posture she has embodied in order to mildly comfort herself relaxes fractionally as he rubs her hand. His strong squeeze is met with a squeeze of her own, stumpy fingers contracting in weakly, acknowledging him though the rest of her remains stone. “Do- um— you think he does this to everyone?” Leaning herself back though keeping her awkward caved in look. All of his words hit her, for part of his speaking she stares into the water disconnected from the world and despondent. Not until he gets to the part about R’hyn, the name fishing her out of whatever lake of sadness she is allowing herself to drown in. The name of the Weyrleader pulls her up, and she focuses intently on Stefyr, nodding her head into her elbow crook. “Ila’den said the same sort of thing though— he asked me why I was here. I don’t even KNOW. I um- well I know N’on believes in me. “ Sighing with resignation her mouth latches onto her elbow crook, all of that anxiety begging to escape taken out by teeth on flesh. Stefyr should not be surprised by the biting as an outlet for stress, given the history. Pressing into her reserves of strength, her hand is released from her shoulder with visible fingernail marks in her shoulder. “Stefyr I can’t ever speak to him like that, he could hurt me, or take me to someone who will do it for him.” Babbling out her biggest fear about the encounter eyes wild and scared, “People disappear Stefyr, people die, I had an uncle once disappear, one day Ma was at a gather she swore someone was wearing his jewelry.” This is the first sign that Evi knows the world is dangerous, that she is at least aware that bad things are not simply earthquakes. Breathing quickens and her free hand reaches out so her finger tips can press in on his bicep, gentle and assured, the touch of someones mom or sweet sister. “Did um— did you tell anyone?” Her hand rubs small circles on his arm, a reciprocation of comfort. “I-um- I didn’t get his name, his dragon is Zyddagath.” The name comes out with a whimper, eyes narrowing and body shivering in spite of the warm water. “Maybe, someone could help?” The girls mind still trapped on how to maintain her safety, she didn’t think there were many things worse than an earthquake.

In the very least when Stefyr's said more than a mouthful, he has the manners to listen to whatever comes before he tries to say another. This time, it's not as much. For him, the touch to his bicep, even from Evangeline rather than some more familiar source doesn't seem to faze him, even with their history. "I think you could help. Yourself. I mean." That he might realize after the words are out are probably not as obviously helpful as he initially thought because he tries to explain. "It's good to know you have backup, if you need it. And you do. You have fellow candidates. You have family. You have the whole Weyr to back you if you were really in need and the cause was big enough. But this is just one man, Evi. A scary man. And maybe he has scary friends," there's some flicker of knowledge in his eyes there but he doesn't linger on it, "but just a man. You're a match for him. You don't need to fight him to beat him at his own game. You beat him by knowing what's here," his hand comes enough out of the water to make a small splash as it hits his heart, hand in a fist. "And by using what's in here," he points to his own temple. Arguments about what might not be in there always aside, the big blond is on a bit of a roll with wisdom so we won't stop for jokes. "If you're scared for you body, then you learn. Come train with Jaynas and I in the mornings. Or train with Ila. Or someone else who knows what they're doing in a fight. But there are better ways to deal with scary shit than fighting. Fighting is a last resort." And then, with concern drawing his brow down, he has to make one more point. "I won't hurt you, Evi, but I could. I think you know that. You're not afraid of me because you trust that I won't. And you're right to trust me that way." He's really talking physically here, but he probably doesn't know it might be helpful to distinguish that to prevent future misunderstandings. Oh well. "So start with me. Tell me to go fuck myself. I dare you." He'll add that as an extra push, in case she needs something to push back against now.

As the blonde man continues speaking Evangeline pauses, head cocked to the side and both eyebrows raise in skepticism. The play that usually exists in her brown green eyes is back, but mostly because the words coming out of his mouth seem to have her doubting his sanity. “The whole Weyr was nowhere to be found-Stefyr.” There’s a continuous shaking of her head, an insistence and desolace in sad eyes. That lonely lost abandonment of a child who is searching for someone, her eyes moving from his face back to the water. Without a lot of warning anger wells up inside her, sadness dragging her down and pressing her into the water. Suddenly she is smacking the surface hard with the hand that is not touching Stefyr. “SHARDS.” She yells, eyes lighting up and cheeks reddening with embarrassment, violence has never been part of the lady that Evance raised. Her mother might not recognize the sad sinking young woman. “ACCK.” Screaming and shaking her head hard because the wild hornets nest inside demands that she ACT. “Stefyr I am not strong, I am. I am not you. No amount of Jaynas help can change this.” The left hand is still gently maintaining contact with the man’s arm, a lightning rod to help summon the anger that must come if she is to survive here. The other hand is balled in an angry fist, “Stefyr Ila’den said it, he said it. The world is going to hurt me. It is not going to bend or stop.” Wild eyes, a small sob escaping her lips as her free hand hits the wall behind her with a resounding thunk, and she grimaces but once more a partially balled fist smacks the wall. Pain zips through her body, but at least it is real. Her hand hurting is easy to understand, does not need an advanced degree of cognition or self awareness. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE.” Pulling back her other arm and balling her fists near her chest she screams, “FUCK HIM. FUCK YOU. FUCK EARTHQUAKES, AND STUPID BRONZERIDERS AND FUCK BEING SCARED. FUCK ALL OF IT.” Every word comes out at the top of her lungs, some of it probably not making that much sense but she is LOUD her lungs more than capable of creating an echo. Shocked eyes blink several times, cheeks redden and in the lightest whisper she says “I am sorry Stefyr.” Both of her arms cross over her body, the anger that once existed dissipates like steam but leaves her stronger. Evi’s eyes are brighter, the fire in her alive again. Staring hard and determined at her larger blonde companion, the power in her revelations seeping into the air around her. Something extra and powerful that had been hidden and is now as bare as she is to be seen. Who can guess how long she had needed to have this outburst.

"Again." It's a fierce demand from Stefyr. There are many things that matter in what occured in the span of those few moments, but there is only this one response from the blond. Stefyr's expression is determined and his eyes are locked on Evangeline's. Just that one word is all he gives her. And then, "Louder." (And, "Again," and "Even louder!" if she will repeat it at all.)

All of the events that have pressed Evangeline forward suddenly fall down on top of her like cards. A finely built house of cards that she has maintained for a turn and a half since an actual house fell down around her. The fear in her eyes is back, not fear of Stefyr, or where she is but an inner fear of who she is. Blinking hard, she gazes down and shivers, looking at herself with clarity as anguish finally has its way with her. This stage of grief was the one she had avoided. Anger at the world for what it had done to her. Such violent and real fury that once she felt its onslaught, the result of injustice at the highest level, it would destroy her. The kind of crime that hollowed out the happy girl, falsifying who she is. Both pale white hands move up defensively, palms open arms fully extended, a stop sign stamped on her skin, but it's no use. The vessel that held her together is cracking, her chrysalis of light and bright, revealing someone authentic and much stronger than the shallow creature she had been masking as. "FUCK… FUCK…" The words feel hot in her mouth, they sting her tongue and back of her throat as her eyes light up with fury once more, "FUCK MY MOTHER. FUCK her for LEAVING ME ALL ALONE. FUCK ANYONE THAT WOULD DO THAT." Finally, the thing that needed to be said is out, and the poison that has been strangling the girl is gone. Tears flow down her eyes and hard, dirty sobs rack her body. "FUCK This." The sound is less now, breathy and broken. "Fuck all of it, so hard. So much." Arms fall down into the water with a splash, the broken person in front of Stefyr stares deeply into him, eyes attempting to share pain vast enough to swallow time, trap a girl in a loop of self-inflicted torture. Ki'lian was simply a spark, never the fuel.

Stefyr respects her moment. In fact, he bears witness, for her. For the world. Things don't always need witness, but this has one. Stefyr doesn't take on her pain, he is an unshakable rock. Not an unsympathetic one by any means and he turns and reaches with his long reach to catch the corner of his own towel and draw it so he can pull it into the water and wrap it around the younger woman's shoulders, a warm barrier so he can fold her in strong arms that hold off the world and give her permission to fall apart within the safety and privacy of the circle they create, if that's what needs to come next, or just a place to breathe if that's what is needed, or neither. Maybe he’s just offering simple human compassion in antidote to the poison. Sometimes quiet can be a blessing, but sometimes it can be a curse, making a person feel more alone with their worst selves, and so, he speaks. "You're not alone." He hasn't been through what she has, he doesn't claim understanding or experience, but what he can do is be here, with her, through this. After another beat, "You're stronger than you think." It's an earnest vote of confidence in the younger woman struggling so hard to claim what's in her.

Small hiccuping sobs escape Evangeline's body, whimpers, and whines that spill into the world as auditory manifestations of pain, loss, heartache. The towel encircles her body, none of her ordinary misgivings can find their way through her hurt. Laying her dirty blonde head on his chest, the wounded animal mewls stutter and trickle out, stopping for brief glimpses before starting anew. Each breath brings a rivulet of sound, her head rocks back and forth as the truth shreds through her over and over, picking away a scab that was housing an infection threatening to eat holes in her soul. "I-I." Nothing, she can't form words anymore, only crying and shaking, a cleanse that might bring relief, solace. Hands creep up underneath her head and pillow it; the low moaning sound that has taken the place of sobs is almost worse. The long mouth closed wailing, it's exactly the sound a child makes when inconsolable a rare sound in an adult because nothing is ever so wrong as to warrant its use. The ache she feels is palpable, possibly because if nothing else, both of them have to be emotionally intuitive to have been searched. "Thank you." Emerges from her lips, cutting through the air between them. Gradually her body is limp, all of the emotion drained away as heavy silence takes its place. The heaviness of feeling so much and then nothing, the body attempting to guard itself by numbing the mind. The aching in her chest once a roar is a dull, heavy stone, still present but no longer threatening to crush her windpipe and steal what makes her, her.

If the witness had a witness, that witness would see the way Stefyr's lips twitch in a semblance of a frown that never quite gets there. Mostly, he keeps his expression unreadable, not that he's in any danger of being read as he simply goes on holding this girl. She can take as long as she needs. He'll even pretend, for her, that he isn't hearing the sounds, that he isn't anything but walls to protect her so she doesn't have to try to hold her own through this crumbling. Only after she speaks real words, a real phrase, does he give her one final, long hug - a squeeze that is gentle but fierce before he withdraws his arms from around her and steps back to give her a different kind of space. He doesn't explain why he's done what he has, or even how he might have come to learn that it can sometimes help. He doesn't ask questions about the story that rode her to this point of emotional implosion. He just nods to her words. He moves to the side to dig into his bag and pull out a small bag of soapsand. The turning aside for familiar motions is to give her a moment, to let her find some measure of balance, if she can. "You know, the reason I said you should train with Jaynas and I has nothing to do with being strong, or being weak. It has everything to do with practicing a response to feeling out of control. If you don't panic, you think better. If you think better, you have a better chance of coming through something. I think, for me, it helps to feel like I have options, even if I don't want to use the options I have." This is a distraction, an offer to return to something resembling normal, or at least to let her close the door on all that's transpired here, for a time, if she wants to. He wets the soap and starts to scrub at his limbs with practiced efficiency.

The comfort she has found in Stefyr carries Evangeline through the darkness, his gentle squeeze is met with a pat of her hand. As he retreats, her body takes a moment to find itself. Suddenly she is back, back from wherever the sorrow carried her and back in the water wrapped in a towel. The fabric is pinned close, a barrier between skin and eyes providing security in the absence of arms. She shimmies back to sit in a hollow, a small shelf of rock offering her a solid spot to set her bum. Hands wrap around the edge, something to hold onto while she gathers herself up and listens. "I will get my butt kicked." The quiet, sweet tenor has lost none of its childlike edges and lilts out in the same sing-song it always has. One can now assume, this is how she sounds, that large parts of her are this way with no need for explanation. "Ila'den wants me to um, run. He wants me training every day, so if. If." The idea seems so far away now, her mouth fails her and eyes search the water. "If I impress, then I might—survive." That is the cusp of it, physical strength and endurance might mean the difference between life and death when it comes to caring for a hatchling. The ability to keep up and guide a lifemate is as physical as it is mental. "Would.. could I wear my clothes?" The question sounds so innocuous, but if Stefyr paid any attention, he would know that her clothes are as much a part of her as her hair. "I.. could make something, maybe, for it." Large exhales, eyes reaching up to where Stefyr washes and then with an exhausted sigh grabbing some soapsand from beside her. The battle for modesty has been lost today, no use smelling. "We should tell someone about the man." Ah, the thing that started the whole conversation is finally back, the gentle innocence in her voice does not penetrate any further, "Could um, you tell R'hyn?" The inquiry is full of questions, as the young weaver has no idea about the relationships Stefyr has with anyone but herself and the other candidates.

"I don't see why not." The clothing question is the easiest to address, so Stefyr does that first. "If you were ever in a real situation to use what you learn, you'd need to know how in what you usually wear." He rinses his arms before moving to squat and tip his head back to wet his hair before lathering up their short length. "Although, since you're so talented with all your clothes things," he makes a little wiggly gesture in the air because clothes making is obviously some kind of hoodoo voodoo magic, "you might think about modifying some skirts to look like skirts but be pants." He shrugs. "I think I've seen some people who wear things like that around and it might be easier for when you get knocked down. And you will." This part is harder but it has a nice segue at any rate. "I get my butt kicked, Jaynas gets his kicked. We end up with scrapes and bruises and we practice more. You don't have to practice as much as we do, and maybe partnering with one of the other girls would be more comfortable for you, to start with, but…" He shrugs, maybe forgetting where he was going with that or maybe just not needing to go the rest of the way there. "Running is a good idea. This would be something else. It would make you stronger over time, which has to be good if you're going to be clambering all over one of those enormous things to bathe them like we have to help do for chores." It is a workout, to say the least. Then, the most difficult matter. He's not actually looking at her at all, busy as he is with his on ablutions, but his body language and expression tone down into the bland zone when he replies, humorlessly, "I could. But I'd rather find him myself." The man. "I don't want anyone's big knot used as a bludgeoning weapon when my fist would be more satisfying." Okayokayokay, he sounds like he means it, but probably he wouldn't risk his spot on the sands by actually fighting with the dark bronzerider.

Slow circles are rubbed with soap sand, one shoulder then the other with wincing as she gets near the bruise on her left arm. Upper arms and forearms receive careful treatment, it's clear this is a ritual and one that she enjoys. Never having done it around others, her eyes stay fixed on her task of painfully slow cleaning. There's no indication that she is listening beyond small dips of her chin, mind still befuddled by emotion. "I can try skirt pants, the um, the chores mean my projects are last. I have to finish my robe first." The stubborn girl who will not wear anything not her own had set up a dressed figure between two cots in the barracks, slowly a pleated version of a candidate's robe has been pinned to it. Any spare moment Evi has, late at night or during free time is spent working on the project. Weyrlingstaff attempted to reason that they had robes, but after several attempts, they gave up and have allowed her to do what she wants. There is something to be said with how stubborn Evi can be; it's a subtle pigheadedness that gets results. The hand wiggling is noticed, and she giggles, a quick sound that escapes with a squeak before it is cut off. "Maybe, Katailea will do it with me. She's nice." Another handful of soapsand is grabbed, and one leg is extended out of the water in a surprising show of flexibility, the towel is still being used to make sure nothing above the knee is visible. The foot is taken in hand, bending at the knee so that the foot is equal with her face. "Takes forever, took me half the day to clean a bronze once… I am glad I'm unlikely to get one of those." The smile takes over her face, all teeth and squinting eyes with her single dimple showing on her left cheek. She thinks she is funny. The smile drops so quickly into a frown as the man's response to her question falls short of expectation. Features pinch in, lips, nose, and eyes all narrow in at him. "Stefyr." She sounds like his mom, 4 turns younger, but the severity pushed into his name stings. After a few beats, her face relaxes, "If you um, do something dumb and get killed, can I trade pets with you?" Another cheeky grin, maybe they are getting to meet the real Evi finally.

"No." See? Stefyr does know that word. Here's the proof. "Leirith's I.O.U. that she's probably completely forgotten about is mine. As if it isn't bad enough that I have to keep checking on everyone else's pets in addition to caring for my own," this last is said quite primly, as if a piece of paper takes up an awful lot of his time and energy. He's not really looking at her and even now when he flashes her a grin, his eyes hit the water near her, but not her. Obviously the only reason he could conjure the word 'no' is because he was just playing. "I just want to talk to him. But if R'hyn or Risali get ahold of him before I do, he might not be allowed to talk to me. That's one man I want to face myself. Need to face myself. Before hatching." Now he does look to find Evi's face, his eyes serious. "Can you understand why?" He doesn't want to explain; but he will if he has to, probably. Or maybe he'll just let it go. It's easier for him to look away, and vanish beneath the surface for a moment to clear his hair before he moves to a separate shallower ledge where the water only comes to his knee so he can prop up a leg and get started on his lower half and torso. "Katailea might be a good choice. Or one of the other girls. Parthi seemed like she'd be interested in doing more when a bunch of us did that first lesson with Ila," he names one of the other girls in the class who's closer to Evi's age and size. "But maybe ask Katailea first?" He sounds a little unsure about that, but he shrugs. "I don't know how much interest she'd have in it. I don't know her that well yet." Not as well, one might guess, as he seems to feel he knows Evi by now, even if there's plenty of layers he's not been given access to, nor may ever be.

Well HUFF. Evangeline turns her lips all the way down and flattens them out, in a mocking snotty frown, "You would be DEAD so like, I could just take it." YEAH. SHE COULD JUST TAKE IT. The look is abandoned as quickly as it is taken up, and her other leg is being scrubbed, "Stefyr.." Worry edges in, a frown and a sigh his name sweeping out with the r held out with a hard UR. "Would you at least ask someone? Anyone?" The hand full of soap sand ventures under the towel while the other one holds it on, presumably washing parts she cares not to reveal. Messy wet hair bobs from side to side as her head goes from shoulder to shoulder like an eccentric metronome with a beat all its own. "Um, OK. SO." One Beat, two. "You ccooullddd take someone, or tell someone before looking." Lips purse out in the resolution, her eyes finding his as she slips down into the water and submerges herself. Once her head is above water again she slithers over to where her towels are, pulling herself up onto the ledge one of the dry towels is held up as a drape, she drops the wet cloth, and the mustard-colored cat towel becomes her new shield. "I will ask Katailea first then Parthi." Wrapped up in the ugliest towels on Pern, her face sad again, "I um. I hope you find what you want, I- do not understand." The other towel is wrapped around her hair, and then one is placed over her shoulders. The clothes are gathered, but she is not moving to leave yet.

"Could you?" Stefyr lift his voice in a combination of real curiosity and return tease, the words drawn out long enough to imply doubt in her heartless appropriation of the recently departed's PRIZE POSSESSIONS. He makes short work of the rest of his cleaning before sluicing off the soapsand by going deeper into the pool. "I don't need to ask anyone, for my purposes." He rolls his shoulders in a shrug, "You can if you feel like you need to. I think this is something I can handle myself." He sounds confident in that much anyway. He swims to where it's shallower and climbs out. Being bereft of towel and now in wet shorts which was probably not planned on, he gives a shake as he closes his soapsand bag. Then it's over to his things to kneel and dig for the small jar. He makes quick work of opening the jar and dabbing his own chest for the worst of his sparring bruises - though there aren't many to speak of. Just one quasi-ugly one this seven. Once he's done, he extends out a hand for her arm to offer a quick and light application with his fingertips before he washes them clean in the water. "I'll walk you back to the barracks," he offers as the jar is put away once more and his shirt and bag are plucked up and feet are shoved into those cork sandals. He'll even collect his sopping towel and ring it out before slinging it over a shoulder. Nothing forgotten today! Then, if she's ready, he'll make good on his word to see her safely back along the path to the barracks.

Listen, Evangeline's 15-turn-old self is an expert at eye rolls she does 100 of them a day when dealing with chores or training. Stefyr gets one of her best eye rolls, her face contorting with mouth open and lip pouting out, making her seem ridiculous. "Yes- it would be your last act of kindness. Leirith left me a little girl, and um I am paying my aunt to take her at night. I owe her three dozen cupcakes for Odi's turnday party." Biting her bottom lip, she shrugs one shoulder up and then down, the mustard cat queen covered from head to ankle in yellow. "Um- ok, I uh, guess." Her voice carries no bode of confidence, she is utterly unsure of anything and everything. Speaking to adults is not her forte, especially the utter nuts in charge around Xanadu. As the numbweed is being applied, there's a grimace, the expectation of pain nearly as bad as the actual feeling. With a puff, she exhales and examines his work, eyes closing gently. "It's not far, um, you don't have to. But." Fast, sharp nods, she gathers her clothes and secures her towel fort around her body. "Stefyr, um, let's not talk about any of this morning. Ever again." And with that last word, she's ready to get back to the barracks. There are things she has not survived because the person she was before is not the person she is now. The Evi, who started this day, is not the one standing wrapped in the towels before Stefyr. That may make all the difference.

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