Risali, and Other Snowy Perils

Xanadu Weyr - Garden
An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place.
On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.
Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.
The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also alluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic.

SO WHAT'S NEW? Certainly not this, not Risali sneaking out into the cold of winter, bundled up in jackets and gloves and leathers and pom-pom beanies with a matching scarf. She escaped into the dead of night because I LIKE MAKING YOU DIG FOR REASONS TO HAVE D'LEI HERE - and because she ran here. Because of course she did. She's resting now though, her breath white frost against the night sky, her cheeks and nose and lips red with the bite of cold and probably the reason why she's pulling her scarf up until just her eyes are visible. But resting doesn't mean staying still, and THAT, D'LEI, IS WHY RISALI IS BUILDING A SNOWMAN. BECAUSE REASONS. FIGHT HER. She's rolling up that big snowball that she clearly intends to be the base of the body now, and it's pretty impressive all things considered - impressive enough that she's struggling just a little bit to push it forward through the snow.

Risali is building a snowman because SHE WANTS TO BUILD A SNOWMAN. DO YOU??? That, or maybe she's just planning to throw a very large snowball, also for reasons, and probably at D'lei unless someone else walks by first… BUT NO. It's … someone. Who might not actually be D'lei! What if it was… D'MERIAL, out after a night of debauchery - by which we mean having just gotten kicked out of someone's bed after he made a comment too terrible to be permitted to stay the night. WHAT IF??? He would make another terrible comment about how he would KEEP RISA WARM, if-you-know-what-I-mean, or how THAT BALL MAY BE BIG, BUT- …. okay, no. D'merial has been pre-emptively kicked out of the flower-beds as well, because he really is just that terrible. BUT. D'lei, being an entirely different kind of terrible, may in fact have had a late meeting with the night-shift sweep-riders, which is a perfectly ordinary thing that he does sometimes, because it's important to keep his finger on the pulse of the Weyr, okay? NOTHING FUNNY. But yes, it had him out late enough that he was just heading back home, and he saw those fresh tracks, which, let's be honest, are rather suspicious - not that his meeting would have made him suspicious or anything, what with being perfectly ordinary - but, well, he followed them, and so here he is.

THERE HE IS, exactly where Risali's attention is not — because hey, maybe she expects it to be D'merial in the flowerbed once more, telling her all the things he'd love to do to pretty much anybody that would be willing right there in the pure-driven snow, where they would freeze to death and probably die but it would be worth it to make an obscene ice sculpture of Actual People that they could then convince (through frozen hand signals, of course) OTHER people to move to an even COLDER climes in order to preserve their grotesque show of human copulation so that centuries from now, some daring explorer would stumble upon two mummified people In The Act and wonder how, exactly, they made it to even that point in their lives. D'merial would be frozen with a winking-grin, and assures that his assets would make it through every single winter intact so that future generations could admire him from behind. Literally. It's probably also why Risali parts with a VERY LONG, VERY EXASPERATED SIGH as she finally gets that really-big-but-probably-not-as-big-as-she-thinks-because-she-is-smol ball into place and starts on the middle half of Frosty's person. Except THAT PART gets interrupted when snowballs are the size of hands (okay D'merial, that's enough), and she doesn't look before she TOSSES IT THATAWAY. What. SNOW CRUNCHES. SHE'S GOT SUPER POWERS? ALL OF THE ABOVE. SHUT UP AND ROLL WITH IT DASH. Whether or not it hits him, however, is the mystery, and Risali is turning around with a look that's already got lips pulling into the unpleasant kind of sneer that says she's about to be mean when she realized just who it is she threw snowballs at and trades it for something smug instead. She doesn't say anything though, she just LEANS DOWN with her eyes fixated on the weyrleader as she starts to roll up another ball. Come at her. She got this.

It's like she planned it… because she did, but NOT LIKE THAT. D'lei was being all wary-like, on account of late-night suspicions. And he did expect to find someone here, just.. NOT THIS. Not a snowball the size of a hand being hand-flung to him, but hey, at least he parries it (with a hand) and… it explodes to get him spattered with powdery white. Suc…..cess? Maybe? He blinks, then… laughs, with a dodge off to the side in an attempt to hide behind a tree and let it take the next snowball to the not-actually-face (because trees don't have those).

SPLAT! Yep, that one hits the tree and explodes in a spectacular way, leaving Risali to huff laughter even as she slowly but surely (and with a very attentive eye on WHERE D'LEI WENT HIDING), starts to roll up another ball. She is doing it fast, grabbing snow with one gloved hand and compacting it into the other, doing her best to be QUIET, QUIET, OH SO QUIET (and probably failing, but it's fine) so that she can sneaaaaaak, sneaksneaksneak in an attempt to get into a position that she can find D'lei. But listen, it's snowing, it's dark, and Risali doesn't have much coverage where she's at, so it's going to take a miracle there without some kind of notice. It doesn't mean she DOESN'T TRY, OKAY.

SneaKRUNCH, sneaKRUNCH, sneaKRUNCH. That's how it goes, when attempting to sneak on the snow. But hey, at least D'lei is going to be equally constrained, right? There's only so many places he can go, and… aha, yep! There's footsteps, a flash of color to behind a hedge and… fwing! A snowball, flung out around the side of it as he peeks through leaves (and falling snow) in an attempt to target that white missile.

WELL IT HITS ITS MARK, and the proof is in the way that second snowball gets blindly-flung as Risali parts with an indignant SHRIEK for the sudden blossom of COLD across her chest and arm. Okay, so that's dramatic because she's in warm clothes, but she felt it, okay. And that's when all bets are off, when the Weyrwoman SEES YOU, because she SAW THE DIRECTION OF THAT SNOWBALL and now she's running towards it, slipping just slightly in the snow when she comes around that corner too fast, and doesn't really have a good foothold on the ground, but pitches herself forward anyway in the hopes of tackling Dash and - THUNK. FACEPLANTS INTO THE SNOW. Listen, she's still reaching out for his ankles with her hands and wiggling fingers, INTENT TO NOT BE THE ONLY ONE WHO IS FELLED ON THIS DAY.

Risali used TACKLE! And hey, she successfully get someone to the ground, it's just… herself. But look, that's just a detail, the point is that she made her attack and it DID A THING. By which we mean she faceplanted, and D'lei grinned, and then she's reaching out with those GRABBY HANDS in an attempt to tug and grapple and DO IT, OKAY?? And he's doing the terrible dance of attempting to extract his ankles and… nope, not happening! He falls forward, catching himself on his hands on the other side of her, because between the two of them X MARKS THE SPOT.

VICTORY! And Risali LIFTS HER FACE FROM SNOW (which now clings to her lashes and her still-over-her-nose-and-mouth scarf) to cackle her victory even as she wiggles beneath her weyrmate JUST ENOUGH to land herself on her back beneath him - and to wiggle her way a little less X and a little bit more threading her head between his hands, shimmying her shoulders up, and smiling (not that he can really see that except for at the corners of her eyes), with a breathless, "Boo." Gloved hands reach up to pull down her scarf, and Risali is pushing up to press her lips against D'lei's and steal a kiss - one that's hard and demanding and somehow still manages to be gentle and expect nothing. "Your meeting ran this late?" BECAUSE SHE KNOWS THINGS, OKAY. IT'S HER JOB. "Did anything exciting happen?"

VICTORIOUS SNOW FACE PLANTING. And victorious wriggling, which - okay, yeah, there's something to be said for that - and… D'lei grins, then shapes his lips into a kiss as he leans back down to Risali, shifting his own position to lean a leg against hers as fingers twine… though there's a half-grimace for her questions. "Maybe? I'm not sure." That sure sounds promising. "That transfer we got from High Reaches thinks the snow-patterns on the mountains look unstable… but she hasn't actually been able to explain what it is that's wrong, just that it doesn't look right." Endlessly. And not super helpfully, but maybe importantly.

YOU CAN'T SEDUCE HER IN THE SNOW, DASHIEL. IT'S COLD OUT HERE. And that's probably why Risali is tugging fabric back up to cover her nose and mouth as grey eyes find amber and she listens. There's probably another smile beneath that scarf, because her eyes have a look - and okay, so maybe she just likes fingers and legs and the placement of bodies (and his heat, of which she absorbs MUCH OF), but shut up. "Some people just have a knack for things," Risali offers up unhelpfully, but mostly because it's true. Some people just know things, and asking them to explain how or why or what is like asking them to explain the color red to somebody that's blind. They just know. "Are you going to send a couple of riders to see if they can find anything?"

OH CAN'T HE? …oh, right, this is probably that variant of 'can't' that means 'can but is a bad idea'. D'lei CAN'T a lot of things like that, but RISALI HAS EVEN MORE. But, for now at least, he's just going to send his body heat down to counteract the snow coming up from below with cold, and grin with a crooked smile that Risali's lips are at least defended from by that scarf. "They do," he admits, because helpful or not, it's true, and then… a sigh, breath steaming in the cold. "I should. But Lesleth's still out with her tooth problem, and there's complaints about how I've had to juggle the shifts already." How much grumpy will more work cause? How much disaster might happen, if it doesn't? THE CHALLENGES OF WEYRLEADING, YO.

SEE ALSO: THE CHALLENGES OF BEING HOT, YO. Or having a hot weyrmate — listen. The snow is almost not enough when coupled with HEATER D'LEIS, but sometimes Risali has self control. Sometimes. "Mmm," it's a soft sound in her throat, something non-committal because even while she is focused on those words (and the implications that come with them), she's distracted, okay? "I can always ask Th'ero if he'd be willing to lend a few riders. They've probably seen enough snow in their time to know what to look for." And maybe then NOBODY HAS TO GET HURT. VICTORY ALL AROUND. Then, softer, "Are you okay, Dash?"

NO ICE SCULPTURES. Instead, they'll just leave a weight-of-two-bodies imprint against the snow, suitable for the weyrfolk to marvel at with raised eyebrows and (if they're D'merial) speculative gestures. "Mmh," D'lei says to that suggestion, with a duck of his chin because he doesn't always want help. But - pride aside… "Could probably use the second opinion." AWW YEAH, another of the challenges of Weyrleading: managed. HIS EGO STILL FITS IN THE WEYRBARN DOOR. Her next question makes his head dip down, a kiss at her jaw - through the scarf, yes, but it's safer that way. "Maybe." It's an answer just as soft, and then his gaze shifts up. "There are good people here. And…" A tug of his mouth to the side. "…people who've had an awful lot of chances."

JUST A LITTLE BIT OF ICE SCULPTURE? LISTEN, IT WON'T TAKE ANYWAY BECAUSE D'LEI WILL MELT ALL OF THE SNOW WITH HIS HIMNESS ANYWAY AND PRYING EYES WILL JUST BE LIKE, "There go the weyrleaders again, doing things that I wish I had the gumption to do and bein' a bunch of badasses," because that is what raised brows really mean. Speaking of D'merial, Risali's brief (and scarfed) smile flickers in response to possible help from Fort, and Risa's adding on, "You can always as D'merial too." If, you know, you want to deal with him. BUT HE'S GOOD AT HIS JOB OKAY. It's that kiss and subsequent answer that have Risali making a sound that's half enjoyment, half acknowledgement of D'lei's answer. A beat, and those coldcoldcold hands (well, gloves) shift up, to catch around D'lei's sides without betraying him by sneaking beneath his clothes and trace up against his ribs. "Do you want to talk about it?" she asks, "Or do you want me to kick your ass in a snowball fight then dance with me before we go home, and get hot drinks, and cuddle up together under a blanket while all of our limbs defrost?" Maybe there will even be a story in the second outcome, but the point is: she can be a distraction, or she can listen.

"Maybe we can trade him to Fort." Because that'd make it fair, right? Fort gives them experienced riders, they give Fort a D'merial who… sure is good at his job. D'lei brushes his nose to that scarf, nuzzling it as Risali asks, and then… he laughs. "You already know the story." His smile is a wry one, and he hooks in arms - and one leg - around her, catching Risali up with him as he rolls around onto his back with her on top - the better to look up at her, and maybe to help melt a bigger furrow in that snow to make those eyebrows rise even higher. "If we welcome everyone, we welcome the bullies who'll make people unwelcome. But …" He shrugs, making his uncertainty-angel against the snow, and reaches up to trace the backs of his fingers along her jaw before touching a fingertip to her nose. "It's hard to draw a line."

"Fort would sever all ties with us and then I would have to explain to K'vir why his Mom and his Dad were stubbornly starving to death over one brownrider and his questionable choice of pants." Or, you know. His questionable choice of existence. TOMAYTO, TOMAHTO. Lashes drop, breath comes on a shaky exhale trapped beneath fabric, and Risali nuzzles back, fingers curling into D'lei's jacket and then - a quiet smile, amusement in the corners of her eyes. "I know, but that doesn't mean you don't want to talk about it." And then she is laughing as they roll, as she finds herself straddling him, and looking down, and watching him (and his eyebrows) as he speaks. So Risali pulls down that scarf again, so that she can turn her lips into fingers along her jaw and nip, so that she can scrunch her nose around a smile to that touch against the tip of it, and then she's catching his hand in hers and pressing a kiss to his knuckles. She presses her cheek against his fingers, and for just a moment she looks at him, delineates his features, allows her gaze to jump between his eyes. "We could just take them out and beat them until they give up being bullies." A beat, and then, on more somber tones, "We will figure it out, D'lei. I don't think this is one of those problems that comes with a right or wrong answer." Just what they think is best.

"…I suppose Fort is cold enough that D'merial might wear pants," D'lei acknowledges. Because THERE HAVE BEEN OCCASIONS, OKAY??? But it's enough to bring a smile, and then they're topsy-turvy upside down and his fingers are nipped and kissed, curled along her cheek as his other arm tucks in around her waist, and… "Heh." Such fine suggestions. Such a wry smile. "We do go for the complicated." See: their everything. So, questions without a right or wrong answer? Pretty much to be expected. "…Cielo asked me if he was doing it wrong," D'lei says, with a hint of amusement lurking that's waiting for the punchline… not that it has long to wait. "Because he was nervous." YEP. That's all it takes for some - while on the other end of the spectrum, well… "If we see it go wrong, we'll stop it." Though they can't exactly have eyes and ears everywhere, can they? Not even through the marvel of draconic mindlinks… though… that's definitely something, in its way. "And try again." Trial and error and trial! Because they (don't) got this.

"Banish the thought," Risali whispers, as if the thought of D'merial in pants is somehow ludicrous (which, btw, I spelled as Ludacris on my first try and my auto-correct capitalized it and didn't correct it because OF COURSE). Still, that answer to her suggestion has Risali's lips going a little sideways, a knowing-sympathy that's half apologetic because she isn't always good at people - even her own weyrmates - and sometimes that means delivering inappropriate humor at inappropriate times. So instead she listens, and that smile comes back a little fuller, Risali's expression going somewhere between, 'Oh no, that's adorable,' and, 'Oh my gosh, how did something so precious wind up here,' before she answers with, "Faranth." Because that's REALLY CUTE okay? "I'm pretty sure nervous means he's doing it right." THE REST ARE JUST SOCIOPATHS. END OF STORY. But… not the end of the conversation. Not yet. Risali just makes another sound of concession in her throat, gives a nod of her head and another smile that harbors no humor but manifests with affection as she breathes out, "And again, and again, and again." Now she's leaning down to press into a kiss again, to capture D'lei's hands with her own, and curl her fingers in against his, and pull them a little closer to her body as she leans forward on his knees to accomplish that FULL FRONTAL SNOGGING. "Let's go home, before you catch a cold." It's painted against his lips, a tap of her nose to his as she lingers with a slight back and forth in agonizing non-contact before she exhales and draws back. There's that smile, even if it's more affection and resignation than anything else. "I'll even let you have some of the blanket this time." SHE ALWAYS LETS HIM HAVE SOME, but LISTEN. TAKE HER JOKE AND LIKE IT.

And the brownrider! Only don't, because if you banished him, he'd probably figure out how to get a boombox working so he could play Peter Gabriel outside the window… and/or create inter-Weyr incidents. Probably both, at the same time, because D'merial is good at what he does. As opposed to Cielo, who's just… "Yup." D'lei grins as he sees the echo in Risali's face of that what-even, and nods firmly. "S'what I told him." More or less. In more words, and less how-even, because he is also good at … well, at at least some of what he does. Maybe not all of it - but then, maybe he is good at the parts he's doing again (and again (and again)). If he were bad, he might have to do it even more times - or he might give up on it, or have it fall apart, and never even get to the iterative part of iterative improvement. As it is, he nods, with a sideways quirk of lips. "Yeah." He tilts his head, turning it to meet that kiss again with the steam of breath through parted lips like a cloud of mist to warm her face - such chilly face - even in the exhale after kiss where words are spoken. "What about a pillow?" he asks in turn, because HE JOKES BACK as they shift to do those important pre-requisites like standing, and remembering how to walk, and letting the cold distract them enough that they don't distract each other on the way. "What do I have to do to get one of those?" Because, hey. He likes a challenge! That's why he's with Risali… and also why he's Weyrleader.

Risali looks momentarily as if she is not sure whether she wants to hug Cielo or HIDE him away from the rest of the world, but she manages to part with, "At least he had you." Because it could have been D'merial, and THEN WHERE WOULD WE BE? But that is secondary to lips, and hands, and important things like remembering how to stand when one of the things your weyrmate is very good at is making your knees weak. What does he need to do for a pillow? " Breakfast in bed and one foot massage." A beat. "And anything else I decide I want." SHE ONLY ASKS FOR THE WORLD, DASH. But she is beaming, hooking her arm through D'lei's to start that journey home — with only one snow incident.

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