No One's Nightmare

Xanadu Weyr - Deep Forest Waterfall


"How could I have possibly missed this?" Anyone who frequently travels the deep woods between Xanadu Weyr and the mountains to the west might ask themselves that question upon stumbling onto this place for the first time. A waterfall, easily a hundred feet tall, dominates the immediate area, commanding attention. Like something from a storybook, it stands before you, flanked on either side by sentinel trees and mountain brush mired in stone-spotted soil. Water cascades over a beaten rock face at its peak, flowing down in a white-capped torrent to crash into a small, crystal clear pond below.

Not content to remain where it is, the pond appears to have carved a great trench into the earth, through which a stream now flows, traveling further west towards a massive rock wall in the distance. The stream bisects the area, and a narrow point some 30 feet away from the pond itself makes for an easy jump to the other side. The shore around the pond's immediate edge appears to be mostly soil and large slabs of rock, but that gives way to a grass field after only a few feet, a touch that gives the entire area an idyllic feel. The air is fresh and clean with the bite of cool mountain water and the tang of forest life. It is alive, this place.

In the many days since the fire, Winter has come and all but gone from Xanadu's lands. A late, low blanket of snow covers most of the forest now, quiet in the sleep that comes only before regrowth. It's like something out of a child's story, the brilliant white snow amidst the trees, though the beauty is somewhat marred by the presence of the more than occasional reminder of the fire. Here, a tree is still blackened and broken, twisted from the merciless tread of the Red Bull. There, a brazen, naked pathway where once dense, lush vegetation loomed. So it is on the trail that leads down from the higher lands into the low, an already dangerous path made moreso by the lack thereof handholds where once there were several…and the now painfully visible drop that lurks in waiting for the foolish.

Stormhaven itself rests amidst the stillness of the forest at rest. A brutal freeze left the waterfall frozen once, but the passage of time and the fist of the sun have slowly begun to reverse that work, and the quiet trickle of water can be heard, pattering down loudly amidst the hush, a prelude to spring's thaw. To this, Tenebrous, quietly working, as he has been for many days. A sturdy path has been beaten in the snow, leading from the rock wall that serves as the cave's entrance to the clearing proper, and then to its edges in several places. Piles of drift scrap and wooden corpses have been relocated as much as possible, leaving an enviable pile of firewood to rest almost everywhere that the eye turns. Head down against the bite of the mountain's breath, he pulls a small sled, loaded with his newest accomplishments, to one of those piles, his whole demeanor content. Quiet.

A few days prior to her pending visit, while she was finishing appeasing the masters on some task or another, Phylicia had sent Tenebrous a note, asking to borrow his room to store something, not wanting to give it to the headwoman for safe-keeping. But the girl doesn't have that bundle with her today as steady crunching can be heard echoing down from the path that was. Occasionally the footsteps pause before they pick up again. Either Phylicia is checking her direction, or she's analyzing the scenery. Or quite likely, both. The cold of snow doesn't seem to bother her, as she has on her coat and heavier weight hiking clothes, not that the hike doesn't have her a bit warm in the first place. The young woman crosses the line where a stretch of folliage should have been blocking her view of Stormhaven, able to see Tenebrous lugging that small sled behind him. Soft footsteps that still manage to sound the crunching of snow annouces her approach, her hands nestled in a pair of the coat's pockets. "Have you been enjoying yourself?" She asks softly, raising her voice just enough to be heard as she pulls back the hood on her coat to expose her face to the sunlight.

Tenebrous doesn't answer at first. He knows she's there, of course. He's known for some time, in the silence of the forest, that someone was coming. It's only after the sled is over to one side of the clearing that he stops his work, turning slightly to face the newly arrived woman. A lilting tendril of steam drifts out of the hood's opening, giving testament to the heat that Tenebrous' body puts off as a consequence of his work. "Yes," he says simply. His voice is quiet and spare, and the word is spoken in such a manner that there probably won't be any more of an explination. Amidst the dead and sleeping wood, he's found little reason to speak at all recently, and the words come hesitantly now. Basically…just like before.

Phylicia lifts an eyebrow at Tenebrous' mono-syllabil response. The look on her face isn't unhappy per se, but its a little put out at the familiarity which the hesitant word provokes. The tendril of steam is noted, but for the moment Phy does nothing but stand there and look back at him. "Should I have tried to convince them to let me come by sooner?" She asks quietly, knowing he'll hear her. The only steam that comes from Phylicia is the occasional puff that her warm breath causes.

Tenebrous shrugs once. "No," he offers. He's not upset or irritated. It's simply an answer. Then he's turning a little back to that sled, tipping it over into the most recent pile before righting it and slowly starting over to Phylicia. When he's easily within arm's reach, he stops, letting the sled glide to a halt behind him, and for a time, he simply observes the woman. After a time, he murmurs, "Are you hungry?"

He might not be upset or irritated, but Phylicia might be getting to either one of those emotions soon enough. But that doesn't stop her from watching him as he turns to upend the sled before he joins her, not an arm's length away. He observes her from that length, and she observes him in turn, something holding her back from reaching out towards him. Maybe it's those single-syllable answer he's giving. There's a hesitation about Phylicia as the familiarity of such a scene tugs on her consciousness, a faint wariness coming to haunt her face. "Only slightly." She answers, the hesitation in his tone starting to creep into hers. "I had something to eat a little while before starting out…" She offers as she finally makes the decision to hold out one of her hands to him, palm up. "Are you? It looks like you've been working hard."

"Yes," Tenebrous says simply, though if it's to hunger or his work, one may never know. He looks on at her for another several moments before turning a little. "It's… a long walk from Xanadu. Come inside, and warm yourself a little?" For as much as that sounds like a question, Tenebrous appears to be heading that way anyway, and after waiting a moment to watch Phylicia's reaction, he simply turns, his own footsteps crunching softly in the new snow. His climb up the rock wall is calm and slow, in no way hurried, as if he's pleasured by the simple motions, and all too soon, he vanishes behind the ice wall that is the mostly frozen waterfall.


Xanadu Weyr - Waterfall Cave

Cleverly hidden behind the illusion of stone, a cave has formed at the base of the waterfall itself, large enough to host several individuals comfortably, or one person and a dragon. The walls are moist and textured, with small rivulets of water draining from the cave floor down into the pond beyond. Moving further back into the cave finds a dry floor and a smooth rear wall. Two sturdy camp chairs lean up against the back wall, along with a generous bedroll, wrapped in water-tight animal skins. A small bundle of firewood rests off of the floor on a makeshift stand, drying.

The roar of the falls is loud here, making conversation difficult from any range other than close, and the sheer volume of water makes it almost impossible to see through to the forest beyond. The only way out appears to be via the water, back the way you came.

Phylicia had waited long enough to sigh where Tenebrous wouldn't be able to hear her, both of their crunching footsteps covering the noise. Her paces leading up to the cave are slow as if she's pondering picking some of the white fluff up and lobbing it at his back. But then he's gone into the cave, and after a few brief moments with her forehead pressed against the icy stone she follows him up, taking her time merely so she doesn't lose her footing. Hoisting herself into the cave, she stands in the entry way, her eyes closed as she waits for the brightness of outside to fade from her vision before she opens them to the dimness of the oh-so familiar cave, silent as the worry he's completely reverted back to the old Tenebrous tickles her thoughts, the slight frown which betrays those feelings etched onto her face.

Tenebrous has moved deeper into the cave, stripping his coat from his person and hanging it on the same outcropping that he always has. IN the corner, nearer to Phylicia's bedroll than his own, rests that bed of fire, already layed and burning low. He moves several fair-sized chunks of wood from the drying rack into the bed of coals, blowing softly on them to coax the flame to life, and with swiftness, more heat begins to fill the room, as well as light.

Along Phylicia's sleeping roll, the evidence of Tenebrous' work is clearly seen. Clothing, once tainted by smoke, rests there now, washed, dried and folded, everything from her spare clothing. Socks, shirts, underwear… Next to that, several satchels have been laid out as well, their contents spread in an organized fashion. "With the cold still in the area, I confess," he murmurs. "I wasn't anticipating your visit…" He glances over his shoulder at her, his face shadowed by the flames behind it. "Don't mistake me…it's good to see you."

While her eyes are still adjusting, Phylicia's gloves come off her hands and are carefully shoved into pockets, before her fingers start unbuttoning her coat so she can shrug out of it, and put it on a different rock outcropping. The spot where she normally hung her coat. With the warmth of the fire starting to spread through the cave, she makes her way further into the depths, closing in upon where the pair of them normally sleep, among other things. Her cheeks are rosey from the climate change, even as her eyes take in her washed clothing, thankful for the flush that already tinges her face. "I told you I'd come visit when I could." She comments as she looks around for a warmer place than stone to sit. But because she can't see whatever expression is on his face, she can't help but get a little huffy. "You could have fooled me. What, with the welcome I got." And then it takes her a few moments to realize how surly and childish that sounded, pressing a hand to her face with a small hiss. "I didn't mean that to sound so… childish." She says after a moment. "But why would winter keep me away? It didn't before."

Tenebrous laughs quietly, turning back to the flame. "I'd think less of you if that's what you intended it to sound like," he says simply. He takes a slow breath and then exhales before standing up to his full height and turning to face her. "Some people don't like stomping off into the woods in the middle of winter." He exhales then before continuing. "I honestly…didn't remember if you were one of them. Don't read too much into it." Then he tilts his head. "You want what I am…and not what I was. What I was…died in the fire, saving you. And while you grieved for my loss, while you…grieved because you felt responsible…you like what was left…what survived."

Phylicia is thankfully far enough away where his full height doesn't require her to tilt her head back to look up at him. "It would take a natural disaster to keep me out of the woods, if I wanted to go." She says, a grin creeping back into her tone. "Although even one of those didn't seem to stop me." Not like she knew she was walking into the grasps of the Red Bull. But like he suggests, she tries not to read any further into that subject, instead crossing some of the cave to put herself in front of him, yet next to the fire as she lets the growing flames warm her frame. Now she's close enough however, where she does have to tilt her head back slightly. "That's right." She confirms, still feeling hesitant enough where she doesn't reach for him yet. The mention of the consequences of the forest fire have her wincing for the briefest moment, though the feeling of remorse quickly slides back into the background, where she's learned to deal with it. "I like what you are now." She doesn't go into much depth however on that subject, letting the simple words speak for themselves.

"Some…of What Was has survived, I think," Tenebrous offers, his tone half informatory and half…apolagetic, perhaps. "Time here has…made it easier to think. Made my mind calmer, more receptive to thought. More receptive to…remembering. Things about myself, that is. Not necessarily other people." He looks up. "I remember why I jumped off of this waterfall," he offers a moment later. Then he purses his lips and abruptly turns, moving the short distance over to one of the satchels that contains food. A bit of cold herdbeast is pulled out, and he nibbles on it, prepping his bedroll so that he can sit on it. "What did you want from me, out there? In the snow? To greet you with a hug and a kiss?"

Phylicia doesn't ask why, though as he moves to get the herdbeast to nibble upon, she moves to her own bedroll, stowing away her washed emergency change of clothing carefully. She's clearing off her own roll for a place to sit, so she can behave herself for awhile longer. Stick her on a bedroll with Ten, and she might not want to. "So the quiet is helping then?" She asks as he starts to futz with his own bedroll. The soft intensity of her blush can no longer be blamed upon the temperature change, or the chill licking wind outside. "Would it bother you if part of me was?" The part that likes to daydream of such greetings, even if they rarely happen.

"People…" Tenebrous takes a breath before turning to face her. "People…do not handle information properly, and that's why honesty is so terribly difficult. That, coupled with the fact that humanity has grown accustomed to lying to itself, are what makes the truth so very difficult to hear sometimes." He's quiet after that, the crackling of the fire serving to accompany the stillness in the cave. "It was…never just 'one kiss' with you, was it. You said it…here." He taps his head. "But this wasn't listening." He taps his chest. "Or perhaps it was, and it simply didn't care, but when I kissed you, it started something…and you can't shut it off very easily now, can you? Not without causing yourself discomfort…"

Phylicia's shoulders hunch slightly as his words seem to hit their mark. She had been in the process of dragging her roll a few inches closer to the fire, so she finishes settling it, before settling on the bedroll, unlacing her boots and setting them off to the side as she tucks her legs up next to her. "Speaking honestly?" She asks without really asking, because her eyes have lidded partially as she looks at the fire while her mind drifts around his observations. "No, I can't." She doesn't lift her eyes from the fire as she gazes into its steady glowing depth. "I thought I could keep it at 'just one kiss'…" But obviously things sort of escalated. She has noticed that he still hasn't answered her previous question, as she adds on another very similar one, even if there's a touch of apprehension about the answer. "What about you, Ten? Is it still 'just one kiss' to you?" Her chocolate eyes finally look up from the fire, gazing across it at him.

Tenebrous smiles slightly. "This…is exactly what I mean. Humans don't handle information very well. If you've got any kind of a heart at all, and … you happen to have a huge one… a kiss is never just a kiss. Even if that's how it was given." He sighs then, sitting down on his bedroll carefully. "Phylicia…What I was…I know he wanted you. Wanted to kiss you, among other things, but he never let himself do it. You were otherwise taken, and he was your instructor. And I can't sit here and tell you that I feel nothing in regards to what happened between us. Do I feel as much as you do?" He lifts a hand for a moment, rubbing at the scars on his face. "No. I don't think I do. This isn't to say that I'm incapable, or unwilling, but…" He lowers his hand. "I warned you. Warned everyone, on several levels, that I want to be able to come at things with a completely clear head, and I don't have one right now…"

Phylicia continues to look at Tenebrous, trying to keep herself from feeling anxious or anything else, leaving her face in an oddly neutral mask for the moment. Having the sort of heart that she does, even such a conversation can be mildly painful and she's trying to keep that off her face as well. "So maybe it wasn't wise to kiss you." She starts off. "I won't say I'm sorry for doing it." He's on his bedroll and she's on hers, across the fire from one another, each listening to one another. "I'm not taken anymore, though it really doesn't help you potentially being my instructor still…" She murmurs, letting her eyes fall back to the coals of the fire. "Not incapable or unwilling…" She murmurs to herself, trying to see what he's trying to get at. "What would it take, Ten? To help clear your head?" She asks. "I've said it once, and I'll say it again. I'd rather be your friend than anything else, if it comes down to such a thing.."

"Time, Phylicia. Or maybe not time…maybe just living. You've had more than a year to work up to where you are in your head, in your heart…I've had a few months, and really, not even that." Tenebrous lays back then, covering his eyes with one hand. "I'd like to think that we could be friends, Phylicia, despite anything else. That…" Then he snorts and his hand slaps back to his side. "Balls and branches, these conversations suck, and this is the first time I've ever had one," he grumbles. "Phy, I'm sorry. I know you want me to say that I have feelings for you, to roll over there and kiss you, and hold you. And while the kissing is certainly enjoyable, you're much further ahead in this than I am, and I need time to not only catch up…but find out if catching up is something I can do in my life." He turns his head, looking at her over the flames. "I'm over twenty turns old, and the first time I can remember kissing someone is aftrer I woke up from the fire. I don't know if that's because I'm incapable of having…what you want, or if I simply chose not to, or…" He sighs. "I don't…know what I need. I just know I'm not where you are right now. And I don't want to lie to you."

Phylicia's face goes from being vaguely closed off, to showing concern. But showing emotion also means that a scrap of pain can potentially be seen in the back of her eyes as she watches him lay back and cover his eyes. "I'm doing it again, aren't I?" She asks almost rhetorically. "I'm pushing for something that I want, when you haven't had the time or real ability to sort anything out…" Her tone is apologetic as she raises her own hand to play with the patch of slightly rougher skin just below her right ear before scrubbing her face lightly before a small chuckle escapes her. "They never get any easier, either. These conversations." She notes for him before she lapses to another round of quiet listening. At the end of it, she rises from her bedroll and pads quickly over to his before the cold of the stone can seep through her socks. Without asking permission or even waiting for a reaction she stretches herself along side him on her side, draping an arm over his chest while she rests her head near the top of his. The position lacks any sort of sexuality despite the closeness, merely being one for comfort. "I don't want you to lie to me." She says softly in a murmur. "Or to yourself." She adds on after a moment. A few silent moments are spent in that position, unless he pulls away from her. "I promise I'll try to behave myself. Let you initiate things, if you should … want anything." Yup. Weyr life has rubbed off on the young woman just a bit since she just offered herself.

Tenebrous absently shifts himself as Phylicia curls up next to him, his posture in no way suggesting that he doesn't want her there. Rather, as she settles herself, he bends his frame around her, enjoying the warmth, the tactile closeness. But when she finishes speaking, his face splits open into a smile thta looks…out of place. Or perhaps out of place on his old face. "Phy…" Then he laughs a little, very soft in the stillness of the cave. "Phy, you are…courteous to a fault, do you know that?" He shifts just a little to turn towards her on that bedroll before shaking his head. "Listen to yourself, young miss," he says quietly. "You're opening yourself up to heartache that I suspect you've never known. What if I did come to you? Tonight, what if I woke you from your sleep with kisses and took you to bed…what then? In the morning, next week, a month from now, when I realize that I don't want from you what you want from me…what of those times, those soft moments that we shared together?" He raises a hand up to rub her arm. "If…I thought that I could kiss you now without it pulling at your heart, I might. But I know that's not going to happen…and when I kiss you, if I kiss you, I want you to know that I'm aware of what you feel…and that I'm kissing you because I'm alright with that." He leans in to press his forehead to hers. "Your offer is kind…but I will never accept it. Not under those pretenses. You are too precious to enjoy so casually." He tilts her chin up gently, meeting her eyes. "Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you?"

Phylicia keeps herself settled against him easily, backing off a mere inch or so while he readjusts himself before she makes herself comfortable against him once more. There's something to be said for the simple act of holding another human being in such a way, though his soft laughter catches her slightly by surprise even if it doesn't startle her. "To a fault?" She echo's before lapsing into that listening silence. He's correct in needing to tilt her chin up in order for her to look at him, because by the end, she has hidden her face against him, her cheeks slightly rosey from an image or two provoked by his reflections. "We've already had a softer moment or two." She notes for his benefit, though admittedly those wouldn't be as pulling as one now would prompt. She doesn't shy away from his rubbing hand as she thinks. "If you ever realize that you don't want from me what I want from you… there will be crying. I-I'm not saying that into guilting you into anything. It's just the truth. What are a few more soft moments to add to the collection of close, fond memories?" Her hands are stationary on him, not entirely trusting her self control, but she sighs towards the end. "But I think I understand. You care enough to not want to lead me on…" But he also doesn't not care enough to just take her either, which remains unvoiced.

That smile never leaves Tenebrous' face as Phylicia talks. "A…smarter man, a wiser man than I might not have…ever kissed you, knowing your heart as it is." He smirks. "I am, apparantly, neither smart nor wise. But I do not regret what happened. I will not regret." He moves his hand from her chin so that she can duck aaway again if she chooses. "One of the things that…I've been thinking about since I arrived back here and started cleaning Stormhaven up is…Thea, believe it or not. The last time we spoke, she mentioned that we were never intimate, and while I don't know what happened between us…I'm glad. I don't ever want her Weyrmate to wake up from a nightmare where he sees my face. I don't want her to wake up from that kind of a dream either, for that matter." One of his arms squeezes Phylicia gently. "And I don't want you crying because we were together under false pretenses. You would give yourself to me because you'd be grateful for anything you could have from me…and I would be a monster for not giving you everything you deserve."

Phylicia doesn't immediately duck her head away, a touch of laughter drowning out the discomfort in the back of her eyes. "Smart and wise typically don't go well with desire." She says, raising a hand to place it against his scarred cheek, touching it more with her fingertips than her palm. It takes until the last comment for her to duck her head back against his chest to hide the wince at the all-too-accurate observation, even if she wouldn't call him a monster. "Do you mind if I ask exactly what you've been thinking about concerning her?" She doesn't seem huffy that Thea is on his mind once more, because it's clear enough that whatever was between the pair, is long since over. "You misunderstand a little bit though." She murmurs into his chest. "Being together… even under false pretenses might not mka me cry. It's the realization that you wouldn't ever feel the way I do for you…" The finality of it, likely.

Tenebrous chuckles. "As a healer, I know that there are three major centers of thought in the body, and only enough blood to run one of them at a time. head, heart, and groin." He sighs. "And if I never told you how I felt, Phylicia? If I simply kept taking from you? Kept coming to you in the middle of the night? I suspect the tears would come eventually, even if I never made my own feelings clearly known." He wavers a hand. "And as far as my thoughts about Thea are concerned, they were no deeper than what I shared with you a moment ago. Just that I don't want to be anyone's nightmare, hers or her Weyrmates." He starts to say something else, and then thinks better of it, snapping his mouth closed over the words. "Judge not," he mutters to himself.

Phylicia can feel him wave his hand around, though she still doesn't see it as she doesn't move her head. Now she's just gotten comfortable, and the warmth and innocent (enough) tactile feeling are vaguely addicting. "No what-ifs." She tells him, disrupting her comfortable position to tilt her head up to look at him. "Especially since you have told me." Though she does pause to think on it. "It would be my own fault anyways, if I kept giving and giving…" There's a small 'mmmph' noise which replaces the guesture of a nod. "I don't think you entirely have to worry about nightmares…" She says, tucking her head back against him now, striving for that comfortable position again.

Tenebrous mms "I hope not. Don't get me wrong, I haven't lost a scrap of sleep over it. It's just something tha popped into my head one day as I was moving wood. Nothing more sinister." He's still after that, simply enjoying the contact and the warmth, but after a time, he murmurs, "I'l…understand if you're no comfortable staying here, Phylicia, but you should know that, as far as I'm concerned, this cave is as much your home as it is mine. You've spent enough time here…"

Phylicia could easily fall asleep in a position like this, tucked up against him like she is with both his heat and the heat from the fire to warm her. In fact it almost sounds like she's starting to nod off, by the evening of her breathing as she rests against him. "Haven't I told you?" She murmurs, her voice echoing her relaxed feel. "I would miss your company. During winter though…" She drawls chuckling softly. "I might prefer the warmth of an actual room, if I'm not out for an assignment." The thought occurs to her though, and she looks up again. "Are you comfortable with me staying here?"

Tenebrous smiles. "As long as it's just two people in a cave, I don't mind at all…" That hand on her arm absently rubs it, a gesture that he's not even aware of. "If you mean…here, like this? In my bedroll?" He raises an eyebrow. "The…proximity doesn't bother me, and you don't snore that loudly, so I don't suppose I mind that either. You smell nice, after all…" His smile softens. "As long as you tihnk you can take it for what it is, of course you can stay."

Phylicia isn't going to stop that unaware guesture, afraid if she points it out that he'll freeze. The additional warmth the motion generates isn't a bad thing either anyways. "Mmm, it's just two people holding one another, isn't it?" She asks, making sure she has it right. She grimaces as he brings up the topic of her light snoring. "Well, if we're hitting below the belt, I might not want to, since sometimes you talk in your sleep." Or at least some of the other times she's spent the night near him he did. If he spoke out when they slept in his bed together at the Hall, she was too exhausted to notice. But her tone is light.

Tenebrous laughs softly. "I supposed that, as long as I don't wake you with my words, that's less of a concern. Hopefully, I'm not saying anything inflamatory." That hand reaches behind himself, pulling a warmer blanket over the two of them before he smiles somewhat wryly. "You sound awful drowsy for it only being early evening, you know," he points out gently. "Are we…going to sleep now?"

Phylicia wiggles her head in a negative. "Nothing inflamatory, I think. But it's been awhile and you never said the same thing twice, it seemed." She sighs in further contentment as that new blanket is drawn over the pair of them, prompting her to snuggle in a bit further. "Only if you keep doing things like this." She says, still sounding quite relaxed, but a little more with it. "The hike here was harder than I remember it being." Not to mention she's also warm and comfortable.

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