Xanadu Weyr - Firelizard Theatre
A natural clearing in the forest has grown a different sort of tree. The Courtyard of the Firelizard holds grass trampled into dirt around the wooden play structures.
In the northern part of this field lies a jungle-gym like fort, with two towers that soar to fifteen feet of height. One of them adjoins a large open deck with spiral staircase up and a metal slide down. That aside, the structure's made almost entirely of wood, the boards locked together either by being interlocked or by huge wooden bolts hammered into the boards. The towers are studded with uneven boards and rough spots, various climbing challenges on each of their faces. A swaying rope bridge with wooden slats connects the towers, and beneath it there's a sealed tunnel to run through or play minecraft.
Just past the fort, there are wooden sit-toys carved and painted into the likeness of dragons. They're about two feet high and four feet long, though the green is smaller than the blue. There's a place for a child to sit on the dragon's back, with their feet resting on the dragon's paws and hands on the bars bars attached to the neck of the dragon. Pushing with hands or feet will make the dragon rock and writhe.
In the middle of the field are two sets of swings, suspended by rope from from a wooden beam that's held up by crossbraces on either side. There's a set of monkey bars, made entirely out of wood but carefully polished until the dark bars glow, and a set of seesaws. The sandbox is set back a little from the rest, filled with sand from Xanadu's beach and scattered with buckets and shovels.
Trees border the area, including a massive Lemosian ironwood that has beneath its branches wooden benches with a view of the playground.

Daytime is playtime! Which is why the firelizard theatre is awash in small children. They're screaming! They're running! They're arguing with each other! It's a scene of exactly the sort of chaos for which the place is known. And amid it all? D'lei! He's stolen a swing, because he's a jerk, and he's swaying back and forth on it. Not even swinging hard and using his legs to take full advantage of the equipment, nope. He's being an adult and boring, with lazy pendulum-rock and an expression that's somewhere in between thoughtfully-distant and troubled. Sheesh, if he's just gonna worry, can't he go do that in his office instead of taking up play equipment?

NO. Yes, actually. …That probably would have been a better setting in hindsight but we can ALWAYS MOVE THERE IF WE NEED TO AND ANYWAY, IT'S TOO LATE NOW, WE'RE IN THIS AND WE HAVE SWINGS. Swings that seem very far away when you are limited by one single crutch and one very stubborn ankle that is definitely not broken, but definitely angry about supporting weight. This is Risali's dilemma, and why it takes the Weyrwoman considerably more time with considerably less swagger (okay so she never had swagger, but she definitely had A Walk and it definitely had A LOT OF CONFIDENCE IN IT that is DEFINITELY IMPOSSIBLE TO REPLICATE WITH A CRUTCH) as she comes up short mid-hobble several times to yield for small children and possibly their parents as they move about in a sanctuary just for them. And broody (sexy) Weyrleaders apparently. But Risali does make it to the swings and to D'lei eventually, a brush of fingertips from her bandaged hand along D'lei's jaw and against his cheek used in greeting as she hobbles past him. And then she sits on that second swing, being INCONSIDERATE ADULT NUMBER TWO as her crutch gets settled between her legs and Risali wraps her good hand around rope before tilting her head to look at D'lei. She really studies him for a moment, a tug at the corner of her lips that never quite makes it into a smile coming and going before she breathes out, "Did you figure it out?" It's maybe an odd question, ambiguous and vague with no real starting point, but this is Risali. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.

Don't you go denying the swings. DON'T YOU DARE. Not even the UNBROKEN ANKLE OF GREAT ANGER can deny those swings. The crutch may not be able to achieve swagger, but it is an impromptu weapon, which can in fact be used on anyone denying swings. So. BE WARNED, YE OF OFFICE WAYS. Also be warned, ye small children, but let's be honest, THEY DON'T CARE. Some of them would have run straight into Risali - if she didn't stop for them - because, seriously, they have more important things to do than look where they're going. Like running! And also screaming. D'lei draws up one side of his mouth toward a smile, at least - tugged that way by the touch of Risali's fingers as she passes - but it fades back down again once her touch passes by. He kicks a foot off the ground, as she settles into what's her-swing-now, and starts a sway as his eyes slowly track up from the ground, past the running children, to the trees beyond… and then to Risali again, with a tug in at the corner of his mouth with a wry look. "No," he answers, which… is at least a simple answer. "Not yet." A shift of his mouth, between wry and grimace. "If there even is an answer."

OUR SWINGS SHALL NOT BE DENIED. The children will be denied their wayward-feet collisions, however, and Risali will be denied the pleasure of wielding a crutch as an impromptu weapon because she makes it SAFE AND UNSCATHED to that waiting swing. Risali listens, her focus on D'lei as he looks to the ground, to the trees, back to her with an answer that has Risali's brows knitting inward and the corner of her own lips pulling outward in something that's bordering on pain and sympathy. "I didn't think so," she answers into that space between swings. "Not with that expression, anyway." Give her a moment and Risali is putting weight on her good foot, using her crutch to help her stand and stepping into that small space between swings so that she can catch at one of D'lei's ropes and SLOW HIS ROLL. Or… well… his sway. Listen. She maneuvers herself once she's not in danger of being taken out by a swing to stand before him, and then she's using her bad hand to push D'lei's knees apart and afford herself a little space to go down on her own between them. It's slightly awkward and painstaking, and it's going to be even more awkward to recover from that kneeling position (ALSO OW), but she lets crutch fall to the sand and brings her arms around D'lei's hips. She rests her bruised face very gently against his knee and abandons ALL PROPRIETY FOR THINGS TOTALLY APPROPRIATE IN THE MIDDLE OF A PLAYGROUND, SHUT UP. Just kidding, she's just resting there. "Do you want to talk about it?" comes soft, an offer to talk or let it be — the way it's always been between them, the way it will always be regardless of what change touches.

"It was that, or something I ate," D'lei replies, an attempted joke that at least lightens his tone for a moment even if it doesn't do all that much for his face. Across the playground, an eight-year-old boy rolls their eyes at not only the renewed lack of swinging, but the fact that Risali is a GIRL and THEY ARE ICKY… but never mind that, small child. You can run away, and Risali can tuck herself in between Dash's legs - pls to continue not minding, small children - and settle there. A wry smile flickers across D'lei's face as she does, because… of course she's getting into the awkward position. Because of course she is, and his fingers reach to caress through her hair, tucking some of it back away from her ear, tracing down along it as she rests. He lets out a slow sigh, silent for a moment as he continues to pet along the curve of her head and the soft of hair over it. "People… get confused," he says, words slow as he shapes them out from his head. "They think that… just because they want something, that makes it more important than what other people want." A grimace, and his fingers pause as a touch of anger seeps into his voice. "They're hypocrites, and they're selfish, and they make excuses why they matter more than anyone else. Why they're right. And … then they hurt people."

Risali echoes that attempted joke with a smile, but none of her usual banter. She also does not shake her crutch at eight year old boys with OPINIONS ABOUT SWING USAGE and an aversion to COOTIES while telling him to get off of her lawn because she's doing much more inappropriately awkward things. LIKE GETTING INTO THIS POSITION THAT D'LEI HAS A PROBLEM WITH. WHAT, D'LEI? FIGHT HER. SHE WILL GET BACK UP AND ONLY TURTLE MINIMAL AMOUNTS. JUST WATCH HER. But that will be relevant later; for now, the important thing is D'lei and those slow forming words. It's the way Risali draws back just a little so that grey eyes can find amber and hold, devoting her attention to him, and his words, and those hands in her hair before she shifts again to ease the pressure on her ankle - down onto her bottom, so that hands slide back to catch at his knees instead and Risali can bury her face back in against them. One, two, three long moments and Risali answers with, "Because it's the only way that they know how to feel important." There's a huff of laughter then, a twist of her own expression into a grimace as she rifles through the repertoire of her own words and settles on, "No matter what you do, some people will only love you as much as they can use you." A beat. "Is this about people, D'lei, or a person?"

PFFT. There's no way Risali can turtle as epically as Leirith, anyhow. SHE WILL DISAPPOINT. D'lei looks down to meet those grey eyes looking up from his lap, the shadow of brow over amber ones shifting as Risali's change of position bumps the swing and makes him sway in a little wobble. His hand shifts again to stroke along the top and back of her head, tracing along hair. He answers her conclusion with a grimace, a taste in his mouth more bitter than anything Sylvarin could have come up with, and his fingertips brush in softly to the edge of jaw - but then away, careful of bruises that splotch and spatter their pattern that looks worse than it is but is still pretty unpleasant. His mouth tugs sideways, a humorless heh at the question. "It's… persons," he answers. "I've got faces I'm picturing, but it's not just one of them. It's different ones, different ways. The ones who'll do something they'd judge someone else for. The ones who'll ignore someone telling them to leave, because they want to stay. The ones who say it's just a joke right until they stab someone's eye out."

Risali presses a kiss to D'lei's knee as she listens, as she mulls over her own words for a long moment and then shifts backwards more fully, to catch the hand in her hair with her unbandaged one. She squeezes, gentle, and firm and meant to communicate those little things that he should already know: that she's there, that she's listening, that he's not alone and he's not wrong. TAKE HER VALIDATION. But grey eyes seek out amber again as her thumb brushes over knuckles and lips part just faintly. "And you're angry," she whispers. It's not a question, it's an observation, one that has Risali's eyes eventually dropping to trace down the bridge of D'lei's nose, across his lips, up along his jaw to his hair and back to his eyes. And here the pull of her lips is almost sad, something quiet and muted and ending when Risali licks her lips and drops her gaze to their hands. "I don't know what the question is D'lei, or what the answer might be. But I know that if anybody is qualified to figure it out, it's you." A pause, as Risali presses a gentle kiss to D'lei's hand and then presses her cheek into it - gentle, because it still hurts. "And I'm here." In whatever capacity he needs her - to bounce thoughts off of, to listen, to talk. SHE'S GOT THIS, D'LEI. A beat, one two, three, and here comes that humor: "Is it too soon to make a joke about kicking somebody's ass if I have to?" BADUM, TSH.

D'lei curls his fingers back to Risali's - and maybe a bit of hair in with it too, but that can slide out in between squeezes. He nods to her observation, because… it's true, and he's not going to deny it - though he will validate it - but neither does he have more to say about it. Not directly, anyhow; it's just there to be read, to be seen in how it shapes his face and simmers there. His mouth tugs to the side, a shift of grimace, and then his fingertips curl to brush under jaw in the wake of that kiss. "We still have asses to kick," he answers, though it's with more serious than smile. "And is it really right to use… hypocrisy to cause violence to… not even to make things better. To hold off a future problem that might not even happen, and might happen to someone else if it does." His jaw sets, a scowl for a moment, then works through a grind as his eyes re-focus to Risali's. "…but we have to. Because I can't not try to keep everyone safe…" A grimace, and then he shifts forward, a lean in to slide his butt off the swing and then sit down on the ground beneath as it sways back and then forward to thump at his back. "…even though I'm not perfect at it."

Another squeeze as Risali listens, as she keeps her gaze steady on D'lei's once more if for no other reason than to let him know that she is present in this conversation and she is listening. "I know," she whispers, because she does know - she knows all about those asses that are in dire need of a life lesson on human etiquette, and once D'lei's jaw sets, Risali's already reaching for him before he transitions to the ground. So she meets him halfway, fingers on her bandaged hand pressing to his jaw as if she might ease the tension there and make the reality of those answers less stark. She can't, but she can validate him - in her own way, as clumsy as it might be. "No matter how hypocritical or broken we are, we will do this together - knives drawn, arrows piercing - because that's what we do, Dash. We never stop fighting." Not for their children, not for their weyr, not for those people and creatures they can protect - and not Risali for D'lei, even if she's fighting against doubts and questions and the faults of others. "And when we can't beat the odds, we change the game." And here comes a softer smile, half a grimace and lacking humor as Risali drops her gaze back to D'lei's hand and then presses her bandaged one over it as well. "And none of us are perfect, D'lei. Nothing you can do will ever please everybody, so we will be heroes or villains together. Sometimes we will get it right, and sometimes we will get it wrong, but the important part will be that we tried, and whether or not we can look at ourselves at the end of the day and know that we did the best we could." At least, that's WHAT SHE TELLS HERSELF.

She does know, and D'lei knows she knows, and… he turns his head to kiss over bandages, because just because she's been hurt that doesn't make his affection any less, it just means he has to be more careful. At least… for now. "Making a place for people who can't make their own," he says, and he puts his other hand on top of her hand on his. He's silent for a moment, his gaze shifted down to those hands, and then he lifts it again with a stillness to his face. "We'll be both. I'm not going to pretend it's right when I do it. Or when you do it." His gaze is steady, amber eyes deep as they look to grey. "It's more complicated than that. We're here to survive, and make a place for the people we care about… where we can be free." A moment, and then the sideways tug of mouth. "Where we can all be free, instead of some people trying to tell everyone else how they're supposed to act. We're all important… so yeah." His fingers curl, press in a squeeze to hers. "We keep fighting."

"We'll be both," Risali affirms softly - because it's true. Because they will always be the heroes or the villains of somebody's story; because there are areas of grey where good and bad are not so simple as those black and white depictions of right or wrong. Sometimes you have to become a monster to become a hero. MAYBE NOT THE HEROES XANADU DESERVES, BUT THE ONES THAT THEY NEED. (AWWWWYIS, BATMAAAAAN!) "And I won't let you hate yourself for making an impossible choice. Not now, not then, not ever." Risali holds his gaze, meets his conviction with her own, squeezes his hands even of one of hers echoes pain dull and persistent back up her arm. "And I will stand by you - as long as I know you're doing the best you can do. And I know that you always will - it's one of those things that I fell in love with." Because D'LEI IS GOOD. Too good FOR THIS WORLD, EVEN. And now Risali is drawing her hands away from D'lei's, to shift back onto her knees and press into a hug that sees her fingers threading through his hair as she squeezes with her upper arms. "So I won't say you're making the right choice, but I think you are making the best one. For us, and for all of those other important people too." One, two, three, and: "Together." They keep fighting together, that kiss Risali presses to his hair confirms it.

D'lei nods - slowly, because villainy is heavy, and so is heroism. Even heavier to be holding both, in all their intertanglings and interconnections… but Risali can be the Catwoman to D'lei's Batman, and together they can make Gotham… or Xanadu… a safer place. D'lei smiles, just a little - just a tug up of one corner of his mouth, because maybe he was getting close, but now he can't hate himself because Risali would have to beat him up, and she's already bruised and that would make it hurt more. So he won't; instead, he'll slide his arms around her middle, curling in and hugging her to him as she hugs him to her, pressing body to hers so that they can make those best-possible terrible choices, and can fight against everything and everyone (for the sake of everyone)… "Together," D'lei echoes softly, his mouth moving against Risali's chest, and he follows it with a kiss there, hidden in at her because sometimes he doesn't have to show his face to the world. Sometimes, they can just be together amid screaming children or whatever other chaos may find them, and it will be good, because they're together, and they're doing their best.

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