Tugging On Death's Whiskers
PASTE


Fort Weyr - Central Infirmary
This room looks fairly similar to most other infirmaries, with it's faint scent of antiseptic and an eerie quiet that goes along with convalescence. Rows of cots line both walls, each separated by a privacy screen. Breaking the line of cots along the outside wall is a entrance to the dragonhealing section of the infirmary. The far end of the oval room is filled with metal cabinets that hold the tools of the Weyrhealers trade, as well as a desk from which the healer can supervise his domain. Upon one wall rests a thick 'chart' containing the information on all patients within the infirmary.


It's not an unreasonable hour, but it's certainly late enough in the evening that most of the foot (and air) traffic outside has died down considerably. Most people are finishing off their dinners, or curled up in their weyrs hiding away from the mounting cold that winter brings to Fort Weyr every time it whispers across the landscape. And there's Fioreyla, wrapped up in a peacoat despite the fact that she's indoors, in the infirmary; her hands are in gloves, the lower half of her face is buried beneath a scarf, all of that red hair has been pulled back into a messy bun, and she's standing on a chair. Fioreyla is standing on the tips of her toes, tiny body extended in an effort to either retrieve or replace a folder that's rocking precariously on the edge against her fingertips and seems to have no interest in obey the laws of GRAVITY or PHYSICS when it can simply balance there and make the healer whisper soft little encouragements at it. "Come on," she breaths. "J-just a little more. I just…" EXTEEEEEEND. No deal, but HEY. At least she is trying. Why isn't she getting help? Well, it seems she's on night rounds, and the infirmary has a rather distinct lack of patients today. Perhaps the Journeyman is sneaking in a nap in a back room somewhere; whatever the case, Fiore is the only hint of life in the infirmary to be found - sans perhaps a person or two curled up in their beds, hidden from view by privacy curtains pulled closed.

And there's Sohzen, dressed in no more and no less than the last time she saw him, save for the addition of gloves of his own, necessitated by hands required to be extended past his sleeves. One hand is currently tucked around the edges of a large but familiar stack of books, fingers of his free hand brushing at snowflakes that cling to their edges, to his hair, to the woolen fabric of his robes, to lashes before they blink and are shed to melt somewhere else on his person as he enters the infirmary with a quiet tread. Dark eyes may contain no emotion, but there is perhaps anticipation in his form, in the swivel of his head as he scans the largely empty room, looking for something or someone in particular. Satisfaction reads when he discovers it, an easing of body that precedes one step, two, more, closing half the distance between them before he halts, assesses, remembers experiences previous. Precarious positioning. Violet glares, accusing him of frightening her on more than one occasion. Visible debate upon what would alert her to his presence without causing her startlement. A cough? Too precipitous. A scuff of foot? Likely to somehow cause panic. A sigh ends up being what he goes with, if only because it is unbidden, comprised of legitimate frustration for the situation at hand, and, since he's given himself away, he adds to the noise a soft-rasped, "It is like you do this on purpose."

LET'S BE REALISTIC. I probably wouldn't have mattered what Sohzen did, because his entrance alone is far too quiet. It's that blessed (or, in this case, damning) sense of comfort that comes from knowing there's nothing behind you; it's confirmed by silence, reiterated by a lack of hairs that rise on the backs of necks and forewarn of invasions. Normal people make some noise when they walk. Sohzen makes none, and when he sighs, Fire's motions still as confusion flitters across her brow. Eyebrows draw in, her lips draw tight and pull at the corners, and she's slowly turning to look when Sohzen actually speaks and there's a squeak of sound that precedes her loss of balance. Yeah. The book she was trying to desperately retrieve or place back into its place decides, with the encouragement of a jarring meeting between bodies and shelves, that now is a perfectly respectable time to become acquainted with gravity. And the top of Fioreyla's head. There's a muffled sound that sounds half like a whimper, half like surprise, and in her haste to duck and cover her head, she's falling off of the chair. WHO IN THIS ROOM IS SURPRISED? NOBODY. SO THERE FIOREYLA LAYS, ON THE GROUND, wayward book joined by several others that shimmy and shake free of their confines to pile on Fire like this is an HONEST TO FARANTH EPISODE OF AN HONEST TO FARANTH ANIME. She takes it like a sport, despite the fact that it sounds like a tiny bull may have just gone rampaging through a china shop, and amid the impending silence for her clumsy mistake, there's a delicate cough behind a curtain, and a tentative, "Are… you okay?" Fire lifts a hand, like whoever it is can actually see her, and then she's tilting her chin up so that her eyes can find Zen from her spot on the floor. At least this time she's in pants, so there are no tiny herdbeasts making a statement to the rest of the world on her knickers. "Hi, Sohzen," comes softly, resigned, as if telling him that maybe not her, but the universe certainly must have a sense of humor to always land her in positions that spell certain doom for her dignity whenever the older man is around. A beat, and then a hint of surprise as violet eyes go wide upon seeing books, shifting back to his face. "You brought my b-books?" Like she didn't expect his kindness.

Sohzen is definitely not surprised. She squeaks and shifts that first little shift that will lead to her ultimate doom, and what little alteration that occurred to his expression goes flat. He watches on with the sort of resigned restraint that hints at acceptance of inevitability despite best efforts, merely sighs again as the book she was toying with falls, as she overbalances to dodge it, as she goes crashing to the floor. "I re—" Okay, so the other books are a surprise. They cut whatever the man was about to say short, speech reversing into a swift intake of breath, eyes blinking hard once, twice, and then, "Hello, Fioreyla." His dark gaze drifts towards the Ozian figure behind the curtain, but they are dismissed as easily as they were considered in favor of assisting the little healer. Those accursedly silent feet carry him forwards, settling forgotten books onto the now-abandoned chair before dropping in a crouch to pull pages from her form. "I would ask after your well-being, yet…" Even if she was well, she is now on the floor, so perhaps that has changed. "I did. It seemed pragmatic. One should not allow manuals that describe in detail how best to overdose a patient into a coma lying around." He read them? Possibly. It's also possible he is attempting to downplay the kindness inherent in the act. He does not dwell, instead turning a fallen book over in his palms, reading the cover before setting it aside. "As I was saying," before her fall so rudely interrupted, "I require your assistance."

"I think I'm o-okay," Fioreyla breathes out, violet eyes drifting away from Sohzen to look at the ceiling, eyes going unfocused as if she's mentally doing a check over her own body to assess any possible damage. "I d-didn't hit my head very hard. I don't think I'm s-slurring. Am I slurring my words, Zen? Can you understand me?" And there she goes, bringing up one hand, one digit extended from beneath the pile of books, to move back and forth between her own eyes. "I don't feel sick." A test of a toe wiggle, the slow movement of her head, and when Sohzen's there to pick wayward pieces of paper from her body, Fioreyla sits up and sends what's left into a little pile about her lap. "And I'm not dizzy, so no concussion." Violet eyes flicker to those books, and there's a brilliant flush that makes its way onto her cheeks as she exhales, "You're r-right. I'm s-sorry." A beat, and perhaps a bit of surprise. "B-but you read them?" And now she's looking at him with wide eyes, not the kind that say that shouldn't have happened, but maybe the kind that say she's surprised he endured enough boring text to make it to the part about putting a patient into a medical coma. "I think the c-chapter about where v-vital organs are is a little more damning." She says it with a straight face at least, or maybe she actually means that, though it's hard to tell with the flush already on her face and the awkward that she always seems to become possessed by when it comes to humans and interacting with them - even when that human is Sohzen. Still, he requires her assistance, and at first there's a chipmunk-y squeak of, "M-mine?" as she points to herself and looks around the infirmary like she expects somebody else to be there. Somebody else is there, behind a curtain, being inconspicuous and RUDELY IGNORED as Fire draws in a breath and then - her demeanor shifts. What possible use could she have for him outside of being a healer? And so she jumps to conclusions, shifting onto her knees with a sudden determined expression set to her face. "Are you hurt?" Gone is that timid animal in the wild, borne is that confidence that allows Fioreyla to do what she does best. She's already reaching out to grab his face between her hands gently, gloves cold, fingers pulling down as his eyelids as she leans in close and allows her eyes to jump between his. She's already going through the check before he even responds, pulling gloves off of one hand with her teeth so that she can seek his pulse with her fingers and time it.

Bless Zen. He does not point out that the brief fall is unlikely to have caused her any such injury. He merely fixates his gaze on her, watching her watch the ceiling, shifting to her mouth for inquiries about slurred words, ending at toe-wiggles that may or may not be visible through footwear, but that he checks for nevertheless. "You are perfectly comprehensible," comes his deadpan reply, dark eyes twitching back to hers. "I am glad you are well after all." He doesn't look glad, lips pursing in the face of that flush, so perhaps she'll have to take his word for it. She's apologizing, and it's with his own particular brand of patient intolerance that he reaches out one hand, touches the side of her face with the very feather lightest of contact, and says, "Fire. It was a joke." HE MIGHT BE DEAD INSIDE BUT HE CAN STILL MAKE THOSE. His hand withdraws to drape over his knee, a flicker of what might be a smirk tweaking the very corner of his mouth as he replies with a dry, "Anyone who knows their way around a body knows where the vital organs are." Which definitely says MORE ABOUT HIM than it does about HER, though he tempers the unintended insult with a more complimentary, "But I am impressed with how much you must know, as I am sure that is only a small sampling of what you must have read thus far in your studies." A brilliant deduction, there, Sherlock, but the words are well-intended, and there just might be a flash of something like amusement or pride in his eyes for the daring intended in her words. It dies swiftly, snuffed out by the patience of waiting as she checks around her for someone else, rendered serious by her sudden shift from meek soul to determined healer. He responds in kind, going still for her perusal of his self, making no comment for cold hands and the invasion of his personal space. Instead he meets her gaze for gaze, chin tilting to allow her rare access to his throat, even as he says, "It's my side. I bandaged it as best I could, but it seemed… necessary to seek your professional help." Mostly because it's a CROSSBOW-BOLT SHAPED HOLE IN HIS SIDE, and it's NO SMALL WONDER HE WEARS SO MUCH BLACK - that's definitely the only reason the blood actively seeping through the bandages was not already evident. It's pretty damn clear when he slides robes from his shoulders, shirt lifted in a brisk manner to expose the stained-red material pressed to entry - and, ostensibly, exit - wounds. His face reads nothing, so I'll say it for him: oops?

"Zen," Fire whispers back, leaning in until her forehead is almost pressed to Sohzen's as she breathes out, "It w-wasn't a v-very funny one." But she is joking too, if the hint of a smile when she ducks away is anything to go by. And then her chin is lifting as violet eyes focus on him in shock, scrambling for the proper response to his knowledge of bodies and vital organs and — she says nothing. She lets it go. He's busy DISTRACTING HER ANYWAY with his request for assistance that she falls on readily. She's going through the normal checkups as he allows until he's pulling up his shirt and… Faranth. Fioreyla is doing the perfect impersonation of a fish, mouth hanging open only to close repeatedly, brows drawing in as disbelief forms 'what' on her lips without ever being voiced because FARANTH DAMN IT SOHZEN, THAT IS A LOT OF BLOOD. That bandage is revealed, and Fioreyla's face goes suddenly blank, as if her spirit has drifted far from this plane of existence to locate all her missing zen on the next (as in the actual state of BEING, not the literal FLESH MISSING from ZEN) and apply it to the here and now. But all of the blood leaving Fioreyla's face doesn't mean that she can't do her job. She doesn't say a word; Fire simply rises to her feet, tugging at Zen's elbow to quietly command he follow her, and then she's leading him to a bed where she makes a vague sweeping motion with her hand that says, 'Sit.' She jerks the privacy curtain closed with more force than is strictly necessary, and off Fioreyla goes, to wash her hands and retrieve sterile supplies, tugging sterile gloves onto her hands as she makes her way back with a small pan of water and a tray of increasingly menacing looking supplies. "Sohzen," she says, fixing Zen with the most DISAPPROVING LOOK she can muster (it's not very intimidating), retrieving a needle to hold up in his LINE OF SIGHT as she grips the protective plastic top between her teeth, pulls it free, and… tosses it aside? She tilts the needle up, tearing her eyes away from Zen to flick the encasing and squeeze air out until a small spray comes from the needle with gentle application of the plunger. "Are you allergic to anything?" Why does it sound like she's going to enjoy this. Those violet eyes are back on Zen. DON'T WORRY. SHE'LL WAIT.

Lips twitch again in response to that whispered moniker, never quite making it to anything that even remotely resembles true mirth, but it perhaps gives him away nonetheless: he is amused by its use, enjoys her response, does not seem to mind (or at the very least, does not immediately remove himself from) her proximity. Instead Sohzen issues that singular huff that constitutes laughter, wisdom of words weighed before he nevertheless presents a childish argument of, "It was, too." But then her expression goes serious, and his follows suit, form stiffening along subtle lines, instinctively bracing himself for questions that - blessfully - do not come. The hunter doesn't make it back to humor, or indeed any expression at all, despite the amusing quality of her fishing face. He merely waits for her to recover, follows her unspoken commands, rises to his feet with simple grace, and allows himself to be led further into the infirmary. Obediently he applies himself to her bed of choice, watching quietly as she hauls curtains shut, marking each and every movement indicative of her disapproval, cataloguing them in that eerie fashion of the perpetually watchful. Though her look might not be intimidating on a larger scale, it is perhaps more than he expected from Fiore, a quick blink betraying his surprise, any other evidence briskly squashed beneath the heel of something that might be regret. For telling her? For letting this go so long it has earned her disapproval? His carefully blanking expression does not let on, words as gritty as ever as he replies with a quiet, "Mother hens and pine nuts." The joke is purely for her benefit, seeking to temper the edge of this new-fledged viciousness, though maybe somewhere deep down the man is enjoying this, too. Maybe. But he'll never tell.

Okay, Fioreyla has one more retort before she goes serious healer, and it's to scrunch up her nose like a petulant child defying authority and stick her tongue out at Sohzen. She even crosses her eyes because HE CAN'T STOP HER. Only he can, with his - SOHZEN!!!! Perhaps Fire is used to the man's eyes being on her (NOT THAT WAY CALM DOWN) when she's with him, but the eerie attentiveness to her every action and reaction doesn't seem to bother Fiore - of course, knowing her, she may well just be oblivious and blind to the avid attention being garnered by apex predators. Sohzen is a lion, Fiore is a lamb, and the lamb is trying to make friends with a creature borne of violence, and teeth, and claws as if she isn't afraid of what happens when that lion locks its jaws around her fragile neck. So she does look on disapprovingly, and she might even catch the blink as she sets down the threatening needle long enough to move forward and start helping Sohzen free of layers. SHE NEEDS TO WORK, OKAY. But as she works, her tone comes soft, almost timid. "I'm not angry, Sohzen." Not that she's deluded herself into believing that he cares for that of which she deigns to opine. "I'm d-disappointed." And Fiore draws back, brows knitting together as hands in sterile gloves catch at either side of his face with a gentleness he can escape should he desire (not that she'd ever be capable of forcing him into submission if he really didn't want to submit). "Because you have been doing these yourself." WHAT? YEP. And she's POINTING A FINGER AT A SCAR ACCUSINGLY, like MAYBE HE FORGOT HE HAD IT, because SHE SEES YOU VILLAIN. "A-And I know you aren't going to listen to me, but…" A deep breath, and violet eyes seek out brown. One, two, three. There's something there concern? Worry? There's certainly no judgement; the emotion there is too tender, and dismissed as Fiore looks away to reclaim that needle. Okay, and she gets his joke, har har, funny man. It's probably why Fire (blushing though she is) leans forward to press her cheek against his and draw back slowly. "I have another needle for hives," she says, with a particular conviction that says maybe she just wants to stab him. GET IT? BECAUSE SHE IS A MOTHER HEN AND HE IS ALLERGIC. She can be funny too. Speaking of stabbing Sohzen, Fire gathers up all her internal strength to deliver more monologue. "This is supposed to go into the meatiest part of your body and…" Fioreyla's mouth opens, closes, opens again as violet eyes rake Zen's body in a purely clinical way, losing more and more conviction with each passing before she squeaks out, "you don't have any body fat." It's not the first time she's seen him shirtless, and honestly it's not that sight that's driving her back to nervousness. No, it's her next request, that she gathers all her inner strength for, visible in the deep breath she swallows, and the stubborn set of her jaw as it comes up just so, and she makes a turn-around motion with her hand. "If you could please lean towards the bed, rest all your weight on one leg and relax, I can just…" DID SHE JUST MAKE A STABBING MOTION WITH THE NEEDLE? She did. She totally did. "It will be over quickly." Squeak, breathless. "I promise."

"I have heard rumors that the worse the face one makes, the more likely it is to stick that way. Is this supported by fact, in your experience?" Total sotto voce, that, but it is all he can manage in the face of that… well, face. Despite the quip concerning her expression, his does not mobilize in a return act of petulance; instead Sohzen perches in suspended animation, posture perfect, hands resting cupped on each knee, legs uncrossed, moving only to not be a burden as she divests him of his clothing (ALSO NOT IN THAT WAY, SETTLE). What is it they say about lions, lambs, and taming? Because delusions or no, Sohzen is paying rapt attention to her words, allowing her to take his face into her hands, keep it without protest, brown eyes most grave as they flicker between violet before he utters a low, gravelly, "I am coming to you now." It isn't a retort, isn't an insistence, merely a statement of fact burdened by unfortunate truth: until her, there was not a healer he could trust. There is a shift of jaw against her hands, a quiet inhale, as though he might well protest the fact that he will not listen, reassure her that her concern does not fall on deaf ears, but the emotions inherent to the moment are too raw, too real, too close, and in the end, those words would be nothing but platitudes, empty promises he could not always afford to keep. And so he drops his gaze, swallows back those beautiful lies, and stills for the press of her cheek against his. Eyes slide shut on a laugh that is so quiet but so real, the noise rolling from somewhere deep and broken, given how swift it cuts itself short. "I would rather suffer," gets said in the stead of its completion, gaze cool and growing cooler by the time eyes open again. He can see where this trail of thought is going, winces an infinitesimal little wince, and just. Sits there. Weighing his options. Regretting his life choices. Debating if it is too late to seek the door. Dark eyes betray that last thought, straying back the way he came, lashes flickering in math-meme calculations. Can he make it to the door before she stops him. Is it worth the blood and the gore and the potential of internal bleeding. His chest swells with possibly the biggest sigh he's offered in her presence yet, fixing her with a look that contains all that predatory nature she cannot seem to be appropriately afraid of, and says, "You are very lucky." It probably seems threatening, but what he means is, otherwise he'd be out the door and halfway back to Xanadu by now. Instead, he's sliding from the bed, trepidation in his every inch, long, lean form fluid despite very visible regret. Palms find the bed, weight finds one leg, dark hair shifting to obscure his face, reticence returned in the face of this moment that surely both of them wish to be over as soon as humanly (in fact, preferably, inhumanly) as possible.

"It is n-not true," Fiore answers, though her tone is distracted, probably because she is preparing to threaten a man who could probably strangle the life out of her before she even knew that her flame was being extinguished. "It's an o-old wives tale that m-mothers made up so that their children would behave." A beat, violet eyes go ceiling-wards as if Fiore is conferring with the stars, and the moons, and the sun above, divining knowledge from the heavens. That knowledge must be acquired, because Fire is looking sage when secrets are passed from the heavens to Fiore, and now from Fiore to Sohzen: "On second thought, it's true." DID SHE JUST INADVERTENTLY TELL SOHZEN TO BEHAVE? She totally did. She's FULL OF JOKES TONIGHT, mirth in her eyes that lingers for mere seconds, fleeing in the literal face and gravity of gazes carrying unspoken words, complicated by emotions and promises they can't - won't — speak. But it's there in Fire's face for Sohzen to see before she looks away, the pleas that she won't give voice to, if he's attentive enough to catch them: be careful. Somebody cares about whether or not you come home. I care. But then Zen is laughing at her ridiculous antics, and it's hard to tell whether it's because of his laughter or Zen's words, but one of them earns him a muted smile, something that pulls at the corners of Fire's lips but doesn't quite meet her eyes. "Well, I'm t-trying to see to it that you d-do." SUFFER, SHE MEANS. IT'S A JOKE. She does not actually want him to suffer. Well, not a lot, anyway. But it's very, very true that Fioreyla only seems to be able to muster up the cowardice to be afraid of everything except for the one thing (or in this case, PERSON) she should be absolutely terrified of. The lion bares his metaphorical teeth at the lamb crooning in the fields, and instead of bleating and turning on her heels to run, Fire meets that predator gaze with violet and STABS THE NEEDLE INTO ARM before he can even finish telling her that she's lucky. And yeah, Fire is injecting that fluid as she makes that stab, squeaking out a cowardly, "All done," that's so at odds with her RATHER BOLD SMACK TO THE LION'S SNOUT (BAD KITTY) it's almost humorous in and of itself. At least she is sparing Zen some of his dignity, right? As whether or not he jerks his arm back and pulls out the needle before she can, she's settling into a seat alongside the bed (that she has to fight with to get to a reasonable height), and then she's pulling over her supplies, slowly removing that gauze and applying warm water if it's congealed and tried to stick at all. Gentle prodding, around the wound that sends more blood oozing from it, and Fire leans a touch closer. One, two, three, and she's pulling out another needle. "Slight pinch," she whispers, in her healer zone as she instinctively catches one of Zen's hand with her own (for squeezing, if he needs it), and leans to make several injections around the site that probably burn like hell, but will certainly make it so much more tolerable when she goes about cleaning and stitching wounds. "Do you want a mirror, Zen? I'll teach you how to stitch it properly." This softly as she finishes the last injection, lifting her gaze to meet his as she waits for it to set in so she can work. Perhaps she doesn't think he's going to make a habit out of coming to her with his wounds - not after she stabbed him with a needle.

Funny, funny Fire. Sohzen does not rise to the bait, does not seize upon her heavenly enlightenment with his words, but he does aim a pointed look her way, brow raising just enough to acknowledge the insistence that he behave with a visually-implied, 'Kettle.' His gaze lingers upon her as it always seems to, catching the shift of her visage to something serious, witnessing those unspoken pleas, meeting them with that singular blink that expresses his peculiar brand of confusion. Dark eyes switch between each of hers, a small notch forming just between his brows, wariness registering in the tension around eyes, pulling at the edges of lips, before his expression eases back into careful passivity. Alas, poor Fiore - before Zen can entirely recover, drum up some well-worded response to dispel the anxiety inherent in finding one such as himself missing being missed, she is stabbing him with a damned needle and all of that energy gets transferred into a snarl that lives up to his leonine image. Lips pull back from teeth physically as well as metaphorically, hands snapping into fists, head turning on a hiss, shoulders rolling the rest of his body away from her in an attempt to redirect that ferocity away from Fioreyla. His growl edges to a low simmer, jerking back into his mouth in a sharp intake as he does indeed jerk the needle from his arm, flinging it to her tray before daggering a harsh look her way. There's actual emotion there, even if it might be pure, undiluted frustration, rendering dark eyes bright for the long seconds it takes him to collect himself, settle his breathing, resume control with a final, tight, "That. Hurt." Sissy. This from the man walking around with the Pernese equivalent of a gunshot wound, but one might well note that he has not indicated what's happened to the other guy. Deep breath in, deep breath out, steeling himself as she seeks her stool and sets about removing his shoddy patch job and maybe he's in more pain than he previously let on, defenses ruined by her LION SMACKING, wiry muscles clenching from top to bottom for prodding accompanied by a mistrustful glance for this new needle. This time it's not a surprise, however - fingers remain calmly curled about her hand, flinching only once for that initial stab - and though there's a slight intake of breath for it stinging like a bitch, there is also a nod for her offer to provide him a mirror. "I cannot promise to remember," he cautions, but seems grateful for the concession regardless, inasmuch as one can be grateful for anything in his current state of distant disgruntlement.

Sohzen snarls, bares his teeth, pulls away from her, and growls. But Fiore stands there, unintimidated, letting him have his fit of needle-pulling and tossing before she settles into her seat. OH, SO THAT HURT? "Y-you were making a f-face," Fioreyla mumbles, almost indistinguishable. "I was m-making sure it didn't s-stick." HA. HA. JOKES FOR DAYS. A beat, and then violet eyes are finding brown as her brows knit in and Fiore lets go of a breath she didn't realize she was holding (and puffing up her cheeks in petulant chipmunk-dom with). She didn't necessarily mean to hurt Sohzen, and Fire expresses it with a soft, "I'm sorry, Zen." IS SHE THOUGH? (Yes) It doesn't matter. There are stitches to start on, but not before Fioreyla is on her feet, moving to retrieve that mirror she offered to keep the peace and also to ensure that he could take care of himself in the event that he couldn't (or wouldn't) make it to her for care. She returns, setting the mirror on a tray beside him, angling it so he'll be able to see the wound around her leaning in to sew his skin together. "I-It's okay if you d-don't remember. It's n-not that complicated, but it can be a little t-trying." Now Fire is leaning back, pulling open a pack of sutures pre-attached to a needle with a curve. She holds it up for Sohzen to see, explaining with a soft, "You w-want medical grade sutures, but t-thread will work if you d-don't have any available. Just make s-sure that it's as sterile as p-possible before you thread it through your skin. A-Also, you want a n-needle that's curved. I'm s-sure you know, but straight needles h-hurt." She sets it down, to do the other things she needs to do first: clean his wounds. And she does it studiously, flushing them, slightly vigorous in her ministrations, but pausing to explain to Sohzen what she's doing and why every time. And then the stitching. "It's e-easier if you have something to hold the needle with. And you hold it here -" She motions. "When you stitch, you should bisect the wound first, and then bisect those sections. Make sure you pull it only tight enough to make the skin touch, and make sure that the skin is slightly risen as opposed to inward," Fioreyla demonstrates with her fingers, pressing the tips together, "because it helps to prevent infection. Understand?"

What was left of Sohzen's expression goes blank with the sudden totality of one hearing a joke and finding in no way funny. It's almost as though that is exactly what's happening oh wait it is. Were he any other man, there would be muttering of just what he'll make stick alright; alas, with Sohzen, he expresses it all in minutiae, in subtle ticks about his eyes, twitches of long fingers, and a single soft chuff of something that doesn't quite manage to be irritation. That same flat lack of amusement riddles his gaze as it lifts to hers for that apology, appearing for a long moment as though he does not believe her before he issues a 'hmf'ed response. One beat. Two. And then: "It is no small wonder you apologize so, if this is how you treat all your patients." IS HE TEASING HER? (Yes.) It doesn't matter. He is not deprived of the opportunity to soften the blow this time, releasing the last of his tension from his form with a long exhale before he adds a quiet, "You are forgiven." Yet for once, eyes do not trail after her as she ventures from him, instead fixing somewhere on the floor, distant with thought that keeps him distracted until her voice breaks through his reverie. Dark eyes fix on her hands even as he sits back on the bed, easing back to provide her room to work, nodding absently as she talks through the process. Mention of straight needles hurting engenders a small cheek-tick of amusement, or perhaps remembered pain, but he remains silent through wound-flushing, gestures, pinching. "Yes," is his immediate response to her inquiry, amending with a low, "or at least, I believe I do. Demonstration would be helpful." Translation: he's as ready as he'll ever be to have this done to him rather than doing it himself.

FACIALLY EXPRESSES THE MAN WITH NO SENSE OF HUMOR. I SEE YOU, VILLAIN. UGH. SEE? ALL THE EMPHATIC HAND GESTURES. Sohzen teases Fire, and he PROBABLY THINKS HE'S FUNNY, but SOHZEN, YOU WRONG BRUH (U RITE, U RITE AS HELL). It's Fioreyla's turn to have a hint of a smile break through all the concentration on her face, violet eyes flickering up to seek brown in tandem with a pause of her work, accompanied by a whisper of, "Only the important ones." And back to her work Fiore goes, flushing in what's probably unspoken joy when she's forgiven, and pushing away every life-long hindrance that persists in its efforts to stifle her confidence and self-worth, making way for the healer who is confident in her craft and in her work; who seems to find pride (and ease, even) in both. So soft spoken, patient, Fioreyla walks Sohzen through all the nuances and important know-how of sutures while showing him how. She does it slowly, showing him how to tie the knots and place them, where and how to stick and drive the needle through skin, until she's finished the last suture and is applying gauze over the wound. "This n-needs to be changed, and you will have to come back to m-make sure the sutures are doing their job in a fortnight. But if it s-starts to feel painful, come and find me right away, okay? It might be an i-infection." Off those sterile gloves come, Fire grabbing extra supplies on the table that she holds up for him to see. She probably shouldn't be doing this; truth be told, she could probably find herself in a spot of trouble for what she's about to do, but there doesn't seem to be any hesitation in Fire when she holds up several packs of sutures with needles attached. "I'm g-giving you these, and…" some salve, gauze, medical scissors. "If you want to p-practice, bananas are the closest to h-human skin. I would maybe s-save the actual sutures for w-when you need them." A beat, and, softly, "And w-when you run out, let me know as soon as you are able." Because she will break ALL THE RULES and resupply him, DUH.

HUMOR, WHAT. VILLAIN, WHO. WHO DAT, WHO DIS. Something about the quality or content of Fioreyla's words or actions halts whatever potential for humor lingered there; he listens to her guidance, watches her work, but that distance has returned to his eyes, struggling against his own strange sense of pride for the person she becomes when she is at her craft. Orders come, requests are made, and it is only after a silence that stretches towards awkwardness that he manages a low, "Fire… I…" He hesitates, dark eyes lingering on scissors, gauze, salve, sutures, her hands, her shoulders, her face, her eyes, giving each far more attention than they rightly require. He vacillates endlessly on the edge of something that needs said, a decision he does not wish to make. There is a part of him that enjoys this humanity, appreciates the transformation that being provider and caretaker brings to Fioreyla's form and countenance, does not wish to make less of her kindness, her sacrifice, but looming over that is distinct fear, disturbing knowledge, cold fact that this is not safe. It is not safe for him; more importantly, it is not safe for her on so many levels from contraband to association that he cannot begin to appropriately consider it here, now, in her presence. That quiet anxiety returns in the set of his shoulders, tension in his jaw, swallowing just once before seeming to reach a decision. Long legs slide from the bed, body rolling with it gaze tearing from clothing to her again, choosing which to address first. Dry hands are cool when they wrap around hers, closing them over her gifts without accepting them. "Thank you. Truly. But I do not deserve this." He does not deserve her, her friendship. "If someone discovered these were missing…" A soft inhale, a shift of his hand to her cheek, brief, fleeting, shedding as fast as snow from his lashes so many moments before as he turns to pull layers of dark cloth back into place. "I cannot come in a fortnight. I have business in Xanadu that requires my attention. I am capable of removing the stitches myself, but if you wish… If you wish, you may arrive before then to assure yourself of their progress." It is as good of a compromise as he can offer, and even in it, he feels selfish, feels guilty, and then he feels nothing at all. A furtive glance away goes blank, dark and cool as gloves that slide over his palms, as he speaks words that would be perfectly cordial, if not for the rough rasp of his voice. "Thank you, Fioreyla. You are an excellent healer." Insert here the temptation to gently insult her bedside manner, registering a small slowing of his step away from her, but better judgment overrules the impulse. "I will see you again soon," he says instead because foresight is a gift of the writer, but also because fate has seen fit to bring them together in just enough strange ways that he is rational about it occuring again, whether he wishes it or not.

Fioreyla keeps her hands extended for the duration of that awkward pause, waiting, quiet, expression falling the longer it takes Sohzen to reach a point where he says her name. But Zen does say Fire's name, and those violet eyes jump to brown and hold, meeting his gaze with a silent kind of patience that doesn't seem to bear an end. There's a kind of hope that lingers, a faith that tempers out her own mounting anxieties right up until he's standing up and catching Fire's hands between his own. Fire's eyes drop to her hands between his, brows drawing in as she listens to Sohzen's thanks, hears him deny his worth, and Fioreyla's expression crumbles the moment that Zen's hand finds her cheek despite the brief infliction of contact. It's the kind of face that says everybody leaves; the kind of expression that says she knows what Sohzen is going to say before he even says it and tries to make it easier for him to say goodbye — even if there's something in her eyes that's breaking. But Fiore isn't one to complain; she's doing her best to prepare herself for words she knew to be inevitable with a smile that doesn't quite reach Fiore's eyes. There's tears that threaten, so at odds with (or perhaps a perfect complement to) that smile that seems to say, 'It's okay, I'm okay. Whatever you have to say, it's okay.' Instead, her lips form words that come on a breathless whisper, shaking and unsure, though this is nothing new for Fire. "T-They are used to me m-making mistakes, Sohzen. I will have to w-work extra hours to m-make up the loss. It's okay." And there it is, the goodbyes that come as an excuse, that have Fire's lips trembling as she tries to smile wider and nod her understanding and — there's a compromise offered, an olive branch extended that has Fioreyla looking startled and blinking, freeing tears to run down her cheeks as Sohzen offers up compliments before she can even think to tell him that she will see him soon then because — there he goes. But oh no he doesn't. There's courage in her yet, and Fioreyla's taking until he's almost to the door to find it, gathering the things she intended to give him, shoving them into a pillow case because she didn't think this through, and then she's running to catch him, to catch at his elbow with the kind of conviction that demands him to stop. "Zen," she breathes, already TYING THE ENDS OF THE PILLOWCASE AROUND HIS ARM BECAUSE FIGHT HER. "I will see you in two weeks," she tells him, firmly (it's pathetic), her eyes meeting his in a way that says DON'T TEST ME I WATCH PEOPLE WHO ARE DYING AND PUT THEM BACK TOGETHER AND I KNOW HOW TO TAKE THEM APART AND I WILL TAKE YOU APART AND STAB YOU WITH EVERY NEEDLE IN THIS INFIRMARY AND THAT MAKESHIFT RUCKSACK FROM NOW UNTIL THE END OF TIME. But let's be realistic, we all know that she's going to see him soon. Fioreyla knows it, somewhere, and it's probably why she's letting him go and breathing out, "Be safe, Sohzen." And then BEING A COWARD AND TURNING ON HER HEEL BECAUSE THE LAMB JUST CHALLENGED THE LION LIKE FIVE TIMES AND IT TOOK A LOT OUT OF HER AND SHE JUST WANTS TO SIT ON A CHAIR AND FAN HERSELF AND TALK TO A MINDHEALER ABOUT HER LIFE CHOICES (which are AWESOME, by the way).

Everybody leaves. Sohzen takes one good, long look at that expression and then he cannot face it any longer, needs to turn away and attend to dressing, needs his back to be to her as indecision wages war in subtle flickers and shifts across his features. He cannot do this, cannot endanger her, but at which point is he as much a danger to him herself as is the rest. No. It is selfish to think that she will be safer in his life than out, pure ego to think such dangerous thoughts as, 'I can protect her' and 'maybe no one will notice.' There are eyes everywhere, enemies everywhere; caring is only an avenue for hurt. Has he not learned that lesson intimately enough? The thought bids hands shake, quaking too hard to push button through toggle, because despite the earth-shattering, world-ending, star-rending YES that blazes through a soul far more empty than not, he still wants this friendship, still wants to cup and keep the tender shoots of the magnificent thing that Fioreyla could be from being clipped short, forced to regrow into something newer, potentially worse because of this choice. There is also potential for betterness, whispers a little voice, its betrayal lancing through Sohzen's thoughts, white-hot and embittering as it embeds itself in the back of his mind, but it's already too late. He's already too weak. He's already offered to see her again, his humanity winning out over logic because he never learns to expect the unexpected of the rest of the world. Stupid. Stupid. But necessary, necessary enough to take his leave before he says something else, or at least, he tries, fleeing in the face of tears shed before the deadly impulse to clear them by any means necessary overwhelms him and— "Two weeks, then," Sohzen speaks at something just above a whisper as she ties that pillowcase around his arm, gaze still admirably distant, but tone giving him away. Rude. His grip is at least firm as he returns the grasp, long fingers catching at her elbow as she attempts to flee her own bravery. "But I will come to you." No highway option. "Be safer," could be as much warning as jest, dark eyes flicking towards the downed pile of books, but he releases her to escape himself, breaching the exit towards the weyr with a billow of robes.


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