Never The Right Time

Xanadu Weyr - Infirmary
The infirmary here is intended for human care. It is regularly scrubbed spotless and smells of disinfectant, redwort and other herbs that are - if sometimes strong - preferable to the scents of sickness. Cots are lined up against one wall, with a set of curtains that can be pulled to give some privacy to the occupants of the cots if they so desire. They're mostly used for examinations of patients and the treatment of mild injuries that won't require long term care; near the back are some more private areas with folding dividers.
There's a number of cabinets that stand off against another wall, instruments and medications stored against when they will be needed, and a back room holds those supplies seldom required.
A desk with chair is set just off of the doorway to the caverns, meant for the healer to sit and catch up on record keeping after a long day's work or await patients. If things get too busy, the patients can do the waiting on a set of uncomfortable chairs set nearby. The other doorway comes directly from the clearing, wide enough for a team to carry a stretcher through.

It would be hard to not know what happened to the Weyrwoman - not if you were in the weyr, not if you were within range of Leirith's frantic, angry attempts to get herself or somebody else to her rider and Ness. But Risali and Nessalyn had fought for their lives and won, their attacker not nearly lucky enough to escape the encounter with his own life. A long night bled into day and it's now, after Risali has finally managed to send away her gravid queen to the sands where she should be so close to clutching, when the bustle of people has settled to something less oppressive, that Risali has Leirith reach out to Risabeth. There is still cheer in the usually sunbright dragon's voice, but something dull and misplaced - as if the tempo of bass and drums can't quite find a beat in so much chaos. Even the way she speaks is softer, more resigned. « Mine is looking for yours. » And maybe there is an undercurrent of sorrow and sympathy in there, something the queen is not so apt to share under normal circumstances but does now because these… these are not normal circumstances, are they? And Risali? She waits. She's tucked pillows behind her to support her back, leaning back with sheets pulled over her legs. Her hair is down, still not clean from last night, but at least most of the blood is gone. Now she's just a spattering of black and blue, of an eye swollen, and bruises around the bridge of her nose, and the scrape of skin from a cheek that says she got hit. One hand is bandaged and sitting limp in her lap beside the other. But she appears to be okay otherwise — aside from looking as if she just endured a vicious amount of abuse. And, well… She did. But that's not important. What's important is those grey eyes fixated towards the window and the world outside as she waits for Bethari to join her.

Silence greets Leirith, or perhaps it's simply a lack of anything at all in response. A void where Risabeth's mental touch should be and now indicates only her presence, but at least it is an absence and not an absolute nothingness, the depthless black where something should be and isn't. There's no way of knowing for sure just how long it is until there's a spark of acknowledgement, not enough to light the way or the dark, yet less than a moment of conscious thought none the less. And Bethari does, eventually, turn up at the infirmary, whether the message was relayed immediately or otherwise, what might have delayed her likewise not conveyed by word or deed. She doesn't rush, her steps measured, and nor does she noticeably react at all to the state of Risali, sitting herself down in the first available chair next to the bed. No greeting. Nothing. For all that, it's not sullenly that she sits there, her focus still present, and her head soon tilts in enquiry.

But Leirith does not push - she remains just long enough, retreats from the darkness of that void even if a part of her holds on. Support? Need? It's hard to say, because it's a still, quiet thing. And maybe Risali anticipated that there would be… more life in Bethari, that there would be some joy in the success of four eggs and their hatchlings, joy in those dragon-hopefuls finding where they belonged. Perhaps it's that more than words exchanged prior that have Risali hesitating before she speaks, blinking her eyes away from the window to take in Bethari in a way that is equally sedate, equally driven by defeat. It doesn't help that she doesn't know what to say, that she knows words are insignificant in the face of loss; that trite, repetitive sympathies fix nothing even if they are meant to communicate empathy and sympathy and a sense of kindredship to those souls lost in darkness. But Risali starts with them anyway, because it's what she has; she scraps that pride that's kept her every interaction with Bethari distant and cold since that fateful day in the archives and whispers, "I'm sorry, Bethari." A hard swallow, those grey eyes falling to her hand as fingers flex and… "Leirith told me about the clutch. I'm sorry." And maybe she meant to say more, maybe she called Bethari here for a reason, but… maybe that reason is less important now. Less important than shifting a sore body forward, to extend her good hand out just enough to offer without invading. "We're here. If you need anything. I'm here."

Bethari straightens ever so slightly when Risali begins to speak, easing her shoulders back fraction by fraction as if she could create more distance between herself and that bed without actually moving and making a retreat, her jaw tight and fingers knotted together in a lap encroached upon by the swell of her stomach, making even that tiniest of movements seem awkward. She looks away, seeking something else upon which to fix her gaze, despite there being nothing terribly fascinating that she can even pretend to suggest could possibly hold her attention, tensing further when she catches movement from Risali at the periphery of her vision. Silence, still, yet this is nothing new. Maybe it would somehow be easier if it were. There's every indication that she's just going to sit there and wait for the reason that she's been summoned, but, no matter how she tries - and no matter her discovery of rooting herself in anger giving her words - she is not a vindictive soul. Still without looking, she reaches out a hand of her own to meet Risali's, the touch a tentative one until she realises she can hold her hand without either of them bursting into flames.

And Risali allows Bethari the time to figure that out, patient until that contact is more firm, until she can give Bethari's hand a gentle squeeze even as she looks away. Not because she doesn't want to see Bethari, not because she's aware of those tells indicating and is simply choosing to ignore them, but because she's checking her own emotions. Because she needs the comfort as much as she is offering it to Bethari to take. And for one, two, three moments too long, Risali simply allows that silence to stretch and grow, to make it seem as if the only reason why she summoned Bethari here was to apologize for something outside either of their controls and - "I…" A beat, and Risali looks back to Bethari, as if debating with herself what course of action to take because last time her attempts to spare Bethari what she deemed unnecessary stress exploded spectacularly in her face. "I understand if you feel like you can't do it - I understand if there are days when… when you can't." Risali swallows hard again, squeezes Bethari's hand a little tighter as if she means to draw strength from the other woman, or communicate something words simply have no definition for. "I wanted to ask you if you could take over my meetings. Just… just for a little while." One, two, three, and on a whisper that sounds almost stricken, "I thought it might be better if… if I didn't show up to meetings looking like this and… and start a potential panic." Or fuel rumors. "I will still handle everything behind the scenes of course, but…" Another squeeze. "I understand if you can't." She can always ask Soriana for help, if all else fails. "I'm sorry to ask you now."

Pale eyes narrow a fraction, but with Bethari's response to the world seemingly a little delayed in general, it's all but impossible to tell exactly what elicits that reaction, not that her expression bears enough of anything to suggest what that faint adjustment means. Whatever it signifies, she gently passes her thumb over the back of Risali's hand in almost the same moment, the idea one she tries out again less than a handful of seconds later. Her shoulders slump a little first, then she blinks a time or two and glances down into her lap, a deep breath taken before she looks up at Risali again and indicates her agreement with a definite nod of her head, made emphatic simply to avoid it being construed as another one of those tiny adjustments and nothing more. This time, she keeps her attention on her, biting down on the inside of her lip, something that others might do to prevent themselves from speaking, but she has to because her voice just won't work - and not for want of trying. With her free hand, she smoothes down one corner of the sheets over Risali, fixing her with a more pointed look this time, as if she could tell her to stay down and rest, smoothing at that corner all she can do.

Risali looks from Bethari to her hand, to that smoothing of sheet corners in a moment that leaves Risa looking stricken once more. Emotion pulls at her lips, makes her eyes suspiciously bright, but Risali closes it out and pushes it away by closing her eyes, by ignoring the fact that tears persist and run down her cheeks without explanation or sound. Is she crying because of Bethari's kindness? Because of Bethari's pain? Because of her own? "You can stay," she breathes, and there's something there in her expression, something that's hard to pinpoint as she shifts on her bed to make a space for Bethari - if she wants it. "If you want." Instead of being alone. But Risali doesn't pressure one way or the other; it would seem the time for words has left, that there is nothing more to say. So whether Bethari climbs onto the cot and joins Risali, remains seated with hands joined, or chooses to go, the end result of how their time is spent will not alter for Risali. The goldrider will be silent, attempting to offer as much comfort as she takes in shared presence, or working through her emotions alone. There's just one more whisper of, "I'm here." Not it's okay, not another pointless apology, just that: an offer to remain, an offer to support. No more, no less.

Bethari's jaw tightens again at the sight of Risali's tears, the fingers of that hand smoothing over fabric suddenly crumpling sheets instead and holding on with an intensity that might later have the Healers finding holes where her nails have torn through the weave of fabric and disrupted it. She takes a breath that doesn't conceal the sound of one boot hitting the floor, then the other, her hopping up onto the cot not so much a hopping, but an easing, mindful of Risali's injuries and her own changed figure. For a moment, a hand hovers as though she'd use the edge of her thumb to gently wipe away tears, though, ultimately, she finds there may be no way to without causing pain, and so she carefully moves to thread both of her arms around Risali's unbandaged one to hold her hand again and gently rest her head against hers. She may not cry, but her eyes glimmer for far too long, her hand lifting every now and then to soothe along the strands of Risali's hair, no matter any blood that might linger. And that's where she stays for a long time, shooting rather savage looks at anyone who arrives who might be bearing paperwork or other things to look at. When she does, eventually, have to leave, it's not without touching her lips to Risali's temple, her departure as quiet as her arrival. If she swings by the hatching grounds to check on Leirith, perhaps that's predictable. And, in the coming days, if she interferes just enough with work directed to the Weyrwoman to divert some of it, maybe that's predictable too.

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