Not At All Complicated

OOC Note: If you don't like seeing how a personal relationship develops, this might not be a good log to read.

Xanadu Weyr - Tenebrous' Room

Spring has come to the realm of Xanadu. While the temperature continues to increase from the chilly climes of winter and the sun shines with good cheer to melt what remaining snow there is, not everyone has been outside celebrating the slightly more comfortable weather. The day is starting to wind down, the sun slowly starting to descend to its resting position, tinting the sky with orange rays of light.

But Phylicia isn't outside enjoying the weather as some would think her to be doing. Having remembered a certain key in her possession she has let herself into Tenebrous' room, a simple bag of clothing slung over the back of that lonely chair, tucked into the hollowed nook in a desk. She's dressed simply and comfortably, in one of her tawny brown blouses and the skirt he often saw her wearing while she was recovering from her burns. She's tucked up against the wall, sitting up with her legs tucked up beside her. She doesn't look far from her normal self, but something about the picture just seems to scream 'wrong'.

Tenebrous' entrnace into his own room is non-chalant, and he's already closing the door, absently slinging a satchel into the corner before he notices that anyone else is there. Both of his flits are present, one on each shoulder, and he talks to them quietly as he moves. "Perhaps I'll see about getting abit of straw from the beastcrafters to build the two of you a proper nest, instead of using my dirty clothes pile in the cave's corner," he murmurs to them good-naturedly. But then one of them, little Truth, trills, high and quiet, and Tenebrous turns, his slightly amused expression dying on his face. Even beneath the hood, it's visible in the lighting of the room. "Stones, Phy…I'm not interrupting…" Then his voice falls off as the image as a whole sinks into his mind.

Phylicia starts vaguely as a satchel goes flying somewhere in the space in front of her towards the corner, though her head never turns to track the bag on its way across the room, to the floor. The room was silent before, so it's not hard for her to catch Tenebrous' murmurs. "Just make sure to make it deep. Some of them like to nestle in." And thats when the wrongness might really set in. Her voice is a bit hoarse, even with the glass of water located on his desk, aggravating whatever scarring that might have happened in her throat. She does however, turn her head to look at him, even if she can't force herself to smile. "I should be appologizing. I still … had the key. And I let myself in." The unspoken offer for her to get out is there. "It's still your room, after all."

Tenebrous does something a little uncharacteristic of himself at that point, and pulls his hood away, absently willing his two flits to flutter over to a small patch of floor. "It's alright," he says, his tone a little neutral. "I….It's alright. I don't remember giving you the key, but…I guess it makes sense that you'd have one." One glove is tugged off and then another before he slowly starts over with a frown. "Phy…are you alright?"

"You gave me when when I still lived with M'nol and we were having … difficulties." Phylicia fills in for no real reason other than to inform him of the original circumstances that gave her a key to his personal space. Chocolate eyes watch as he pushes back his hood, and then takes off his gloves. "I'm not sick, or hurt." She offers in a normal - if hoarse - voice, though if he's really listening he might hear her exhale the word "Physically." A hand rises out of her lap, disturbing the ball o' firelizard nestled in the crook between her thigh and calf two heads poking up and cheeping softly. One concerned, one admonishing. And she runs her hand through her bangs, in an old habit when she's thinking, letting her hand sink back to her lap with a small sigh. "I could be better though." She finally admits, leaning her weight back into the wall.

Tenebrous nods slowly, pacing up to the edge of the bed and kneeling down next to it. "I'll skip the usual 'Has something happened's and simply move ahead to 'What happened?'" He absently begins unfastening the long coat he wears, opening it at the chest to let a bit of compounded heat out. "You look…" He shakes his head. "You look like someone just punched you in the gut, in all honesty."

Phylicia looks like she's about to argue Tenebrous' statement at first, her mouth opening before she clamps it shut. The hurt that wasn't there a moment ago in her eyes is starting to creep up however, as barriers come down. "That's actually probably pretty accurate." She says after a few moments, watching him kneel on the floor by the bed. "'What happened'…" She murmurs to herself for a moment, thinking of the easiest way to sum it up. "M'nol and I had a fight." She pauses for another moment as her jaw clenches, wondering how much more she wants to say. "And he said some … hurtful things." And maybe some true things too, but that just made trivial things hurt that much worse.

Tenebrous listens with the occasional slow nod, wrinkling his nose a little at the mention of a fight. "Why do you think he said them? To hurt, or because they were the truth?" He lifts one hand to rest on her knee, an open offer to hold a hand if she wants it. "I assume that… he isn't taking your decision to leave your relationship with him well?"

Phylicia shakes her head, though it takes her a few moments to realize that there's a hand on her knee, available to her. It's not like a desperate cling, but instead her hand slides the rest of the way down her leg and comes to rest over that hand as her next words confirm his question. "No, he isn't. Didn't." There's a touch of anger to her hurt, but it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. "A little… of both. Maybe." Her free hand once again runs through her bangs, though it pauses above her ear. "I hurt him by leaving. But I would have hurt the both of us more if I had stayed." It's coming out all sorts of choppy. "I just … /asked/ that he take care of himself, and that's about the last thing he did!"

"Two things," Tenebrous offers quietly, giving that hand a squeeze. "First, you can ask him to sprout wings and fart flames, Phylicia, but that won't change what he's going to do. He's young, he's impulsive, and from the few times I met him, he was a bit…" Wussy? Wimpy? Pansy? GIRLY-MAN? "…flighty. I know you care about him. You're a good person. But you have to draw the line somewhere. This one's out of your hands." He holds up his other hand, ticking off a second finger. "Two…" His eyes narrow a little. "You don't look like this if someone tells you the truth. You look like that if you're caught off guard and someone socks you one."

"If he's young, what am I?" Phylicia asks a little more sharply than she might have intended. "I'm only about a turn older than him." Yet she still is older. And likely vastly more mature. "I know what he said isn't true. But from him? It hurt, Ten." There's a silence that follows, as she swallows, but not long enough for him to ask before she finishes the thought. "He said that I didn't understand grief takes time to heal. That I'm uncaring. That I'm no sort of healer." It seems from the quality of her voice the list went from best to worst.

Tenebrous' eyes turn a little stony as he continues to listen to Phylicia. "I won't bother debating the merits of women maturing faster than men, suffice it to say that you and he are textbook examples…" He gives her hand another squeeze. "But you and I both know that you understand grief and what, precisely, it takes to heal." His voice grows a bit harder as well. "And we both know that you're competent at your craft."

Phylicia isn't so wrapped up in her own feelings where she misses the hardening of both his eyes and voice. Her muscles jerk to a halt in the middle of a tug, as if to insist there's enough room next to her for him to sit. But uncertainty creeps into her face after a few moments, her grip loosening on his hand. "Did I … say something wrong, Ten?" In her current frame of mind anything that goes wrong could likely be her fault, to her.

Tenebrous shakes his head. "No, Phylicia, I'm just a little irritated at humanity as a whole. You both hurt from the choice you made, you clearly didn't do it to be hurtful to him. I find myself curious as to why someone would go out of their way to be cruel to someone they love…or once loved." he releases her hand. "I had a better opinion of him, perhaps, than he deserved."

Phylicia pulls her hands back into her lap as he lets go of her hand as well, resuming the position he found her in when he walked into the room, minus the fact she's still looking at him instead of staring into space. The uncertainty fades away not nearly as quickly as it came on. But not having anything to say to that, Phylicia laspses into silence for a few minutes before there's an abrupt change of topic. "I should get back outside. But I didn't want to take the trek with my mind on other things. Not without another person with me, at least."

Tenebrous nods to that thought. "A prudent course of action. It seems there's somewhat of a track record of that forest doing bad things to people who wander into it unaware." He gestures to himself. "I assume you're wanting to come back out to Stormhaven? DO you think you'll move back out there, now that you've been cleared to work at Xanadu again, or… should you stay closer to the Infirmary?"

Phylicia nods in turn, her hands picking lightly at her skirt in another one of those unconscious gestures. "I am. Especially since we can probably start working on the garden soon." If he hasn't already. His quesiton about her moving has her looking maybe a little confused. "Move back to Stormhaven?" She has to offer the smallest crack of a smile - the corner of her mouth upturning. "I've only ever visited it for prolonged periods.." Though with how often she was out there it might as well be a second residence. One hand raises to rub the side of her face, and she half-shakes her head. "I'm sorry, I must be getting tired… why would I need to choose between one or the other..?" She asks in both honest curiousity and minor confusion. Maybe she misunderstood the question.

Tenebrous waves a hand. "You wouldn't have to choose. I'm still… picking through things… I sort of assumed that you had more or less set up shop out there while you were working with me, but there's certainly no press to come back." Then his face clouds a little. "Especially now." ONe hand raises to rub at his face. "I was… I haven't made the walk back to the Weyr proper since the forest burned, Phy. Kherissni's made the hop for me overland each time, and…" He takes another breath. "I don't know if you've seen what's become of the clearing. I had to walk through there not long ago, and it's… bad."

"I know." Phylicia says solemnly. "I haven't had anyone to drop me off or pick me up." She's taken the trek through the forest each time, and the almost sad expression on her face is enough to say it's beginning to sink in further. "To say we'd be starting over is … an understatement." Because there's more work ahead of them then if they just chose a new plot of land. With her mood somewhere between the hurt sulking he found her in and the touch of good humor he's restored, her lips smile slightly though her eyes continue looking minorly pained. "I think I had set up shop with you. But…" She pauses. "I-I don't want to impose myself on everything you do. Everywhere you tend to be." She sucks in the lower corner of her lip, chewing on it. "I'm not sure that sounds right…" She murmurs, more to herself than him.

Tenebrous murmurs, "You don't want to move in with me and risk turning a quasi-stable friendship between you and I into something awkward for either of us?" He stands slowly then, looking over at a wall for a moment. "Yes… to say that we'd be starting over would be a little humorous at the very least, but… I honestly don't know where else I could start it. There's not enough room at Stormhaven, and I wouldn't want to plant it there anyway. Getting to it during bad weather would be a deathwish. We're more or less comitted to that spot." He raises a hand. "The upside is, I think I have a litle help, if only with the menial labor. Another Senior Apprentice, though she's not a botanist. Just interested, and capable of taking directions from you or I when it comes to handling the plants."

Phylicia offers a bit of a crooked smile to Tenebrous this time, looking up from her perch on the bed. "I've already made it awkward enough, haven't I?" She asks, her tone neutral and flat. "I don't want to make it worse…" After all, she does want to keep some of her friends. Her body posture is still that of one trying to guard themselves against most things, theirself included. His latest revelation of the possibility for help is met with little else than a quirked eyebrow. "Oh?" She says, trying to make the one word sound curious without being nosey.

Tenebrous sighs. "It's the nature of the situation to be delicate, Phylicia. With… everything that's happened between you and I, you have to have known that it would have been a little different than normal." He steps towards her then, and rests a hand on her shoulder. "I don't regret. It just is what it is, and I have to be mindful of that." He gives it a little squeeze. "As for our help, I don't know how much you've rolled around Ista, but did you ever meet a Senior at the hall named Galina?"

"/We/ have to be mindful of it." Phylicia corrects him without making any move to displace the hand on her shoulder, instead the smallest slump coming over them instead. "And I haven't been, really." Nor is she really now, being tucked away in his personal room like this. The thought makes her exhale in a short, almost huff'd sigh aimed at herself. The topic of Galina has her brain rolling, a bit sluggishly at first, but it's rolling. "I haven't been to Ista much at all." She comments idly, sounding distracted as her brain churns. "Her name… sounds like I've heard it before. But I don't think I've ever met her." The poor other Senior was likely a piece of gossip once upon a time, with that memory of hers and the distance she kept from the rest of the apprentices.

Tenebrous nods. "We can only be the people that we are, Phylicia. If nothing else, the incident with the fire has taught me that, to say nothing of my time in your company." He shifts a little, removing his hand from her shoulder and sitting on the edge of the bed next to her. "As far as Galina is concerned, she's…" He laughs a llttle. "She's a great deal like me, in a lot of ways, which might be more than the world is ready for, right now." He purses his lips. "She's hole'd up at Ista, and she's about as book-smart as they come. But she's beginning to realize that there's more to the world than the work that she's been embroiled in for so long." He gestures. "Someone…had to have helped me, Phylicia, and I'm not sure who it was. But before the accident, I was not this man, and I am suddenly he, now. Someone should do the same for her."

Phylicia's lips don't so much purse as pucker. "If you really want, I can give you two guesses as to who I think first helped you. And it wasn't me." For a moment she looks like she might say something else, but whatever it was falls back for the few moments it takes for her to lift a hand from her to maybe take one of his. "Just…" Now her eyebrows pull together as she seems to be having difficulty forming whatever it is she wanted to say. A long moment passes before she shakes her head. When she speaks she sounds minorly irritated, again likely directed towards herself. "Nevermind. You're a grown man and I'm just a friend. Not a nagging motherhen." Her lips don't exactly resume a normal expression for awhile, taking into the consideration having a second young lady around. "Am I going to have to watch whay I say and ask around her as well?" That thought yeilds just a little amusement, but if the answer is 'yes' there's likely to be another sigh from the Senior on his bed.

Tenebrous smirks slightly. "Well, if it wasn't you, it was Janelle or Thea, based on what I know of myself, and since you're making the face that's normally reserved for someone eating Alum, I'm going to assume it was Thea." The smirk softens. "In a way…I guess I'm glad. It means that we were close, before whatever… happened, did. It's a piece, even if i don't know where it goes." He takes a breath. "As for your… other sntiments? By all means, express them."

"I saw some of the … falling out, Tenebrous." Phylicia says softly as he prompts her to express her other sentiments. And she does so slowly and a bit hesitantly as she tries to find the proper words once more. "We both see the after effects of some sort of misunderstanding. A miscommunication." This time her lips purse as she thinks; the punchline is the difficult part to express. "Just be … aware of what you two're doing." And Phy still doesn't look entirely happy at the way it came out. "I don't want to see you hurt." There's a momentary pause as her shoulders lift in a small shrug. "I probably wouldn't want to see her hurt either, if I get to know her…"

Tenebrous blinks a little. "Uhm… Phylicia, we're… going to be planting a garden. Most likely with you there too, because I don't want to have to stop every thirty seconds to explain how things work to her. She's a healer, but she's not a botanist, and she's never worked with me before. Not like you have." Then he smiles. "I told you, I'm… not out there fishing for relationships. Not with you, or Hasha, or Galina." Then he sort of looks down at himself. "It's the coat, right? Women love the coat. That has to be it…"

Phylicia doesn't slip back into a sulk, but her expression grows slightly sour as she looks at him and his expression at her confession. "Call me paranoid or what-have-you." At least her voice doesn't echo her face. It's just her normal tone. "You talked about helping her. If you reach into a person's shell, the person may just reach back." But her soured expression doesn't stay incredibly long as she shakes her head. "I could care less what you're wearing." Even as she puts her weight back into the wall as she looks at him, silently watching, her thoughts running over her reactions just a few moments ago.

Tenebrous sighs softly, watching her retreat. "This … " He shakes his head. "Paranoid of what, Phylicia? Is there some social convention that says an act of kindness must be repaid by a night in someone's arms?" Then he blinks, and looks worried for a moment. "There's… not, is there? I mean, I know this is a Weyr and everything, but…?"

Phylicia shakes her head slightly. "No, there's not. At least not that I know of." She waits for a moment, chocolate irises fixed on his face to see if he finishes that original thought of his, but when he doesn't, she speaks again. "Paranoid that you'll fall for someone else, or someone else will fall for you. Just because you're not fishing doesn't mean something might not happen." She's not retreating totally, but it's been another long day for her. "I'm being … difficult." She does admit, though finally she gently presses at him. "Would you like to finish that thought?"

Tenebrous nods firmly. "Yes, Phylicia. You are being very difficult." He leans over to try and poke her in the belly. "This won't ever be a casual thing for you. Not with our friendship, and not with any romance that may happen between the two of us. And that's fine, because it's who you are, but… are you going to be unhappy if we don't end up dating, Phylicia? I can't speak to my future or my wants… and you know that."

Phylicia's natural reaction is to grab his hand with both of hers, stopping it centimeters from poking her stomach as she partially curls up. But there's a bit of a grin on her face, marking the protectiveness of her frame as pure reaction to being poked. But as with the theme of the conversation, her smile fades a little bit. "Unhappy?" She echoes him softly, rolling the thought around in her head before she tentatively shakes her head. "Sad for a little while." Her eyes move from his hand back up to his face. "I know you can't. It's why I'm working on my control again…"

Tenebrous' next question is blunt, if softly asked. "Would it be easier for you if you did not socialize with me while you are trying to… readjust yourself?" He makes no attempt to pull his hand away when Phylicis holds it in her own. "It… cannot be easy for you with all of the time we've spent together, especially because some of it was under intimate circumstances. I don't regret…but I also don't want to make your life more difficult."

Phylicia tightens her grip on his hand in surprise, her eyes narrowing instead of getting wider as she looks at him. "N-!" She doesn't even get her initial blurted answer out before she stops herself. Her grip loosens but she doesn't let go as her eyes fall downwards to let her think. And think quickly she does, by the slight pinched look of her forehead. When she looks back up there's a small hint of sadness to her eyes as she tries for a smile and succeeds at a faint one. "Probably." She admits reluctantly, giving his hand a more controlled squeeze. "I think we both know neither of us regrets any of it." She lets herself trail off for a few moments. "How long until you wanted to start on the garden, Ten?" Because she wants to help, and probably would even if she didn't have her control back yet.

Tenebrous listens as Phylicia speaks and then stops, and then speaks again. "An honest answer, even if it's unpleasant," he murmurs, nodding his head to her. "We'll… work out the particulars later, if you wish." Then his voice grows firm, his eyes insistant. "But you're my friend, Phylicia. I didn't get into all of this to lose you. You're the only person I know that walks in both places with me, past and present… I'd rather not see you drift out of my life. You let me know what I can do to help you…and we'll start working on the garden whenever you're ready."

Phylicia doesn't look like she's ready to let go of his hand, she might just take it with her when she leaves. "I'd rather not drift out of your life." Comes her response as she manages a hair bit more of a smile. "I have, can and will find enjoyment in just being your friend." One thumb idly strokes the knuckles of his captive hand, though it's at his face she's looking again. "In turn for me asking for your help when I need it, you need to ask me for help when you need it. Deal?"

Tenebrous grins. "Phylicia, you're already helping me rebuild my garden. It's going to be bigger than the old one was, and a bit more conducive to study as well. Personally, I suggest you wait and see how big a chore that is before you simply offer me cart blanche." That grin softens. "Not that I would not offer it to you in a heartbeat either. You absolutely have a deal."

"You'd never abuse cart blanche and you know it." Phylicia actually manages to say in a teasing tone as a somewhat lopsided smile appears. "And you know I wouldn't either." At least, not without feeling absolutely horrible about it. With only the warning of her giving his hand one more squeeze, she lets go of his hand and moves with a quickness not associated with sulking girls. She uncoils from her position and leans forward just enough to softly press her lips against his, nothing behind it but a soft sadness. And then she's scooting off of his bed and righting out her skirt, using the action to keep her hands busy until they come to rest on her bag upon the back of chair. "It might be a little while." She warns softly, paused by the back of the chair, before she digs around in the front of the bag, producing the key that let her in. "Did you … want this back?"

Tenebrous accepts the kiss with his usual smile for such things, casually swatting a hand at Phylicia's retreating backside as she moves away. The notion of time, of it being awhile before he can see her again, dampens his smile somewhat and when she pulls the key, it all but fades. "You keep it," he murmurs. "This room and my home are always open to you… I don't ever want you to think that you're not allowed in it…" Then it's his turn to stand slowly, words unspoken on his lips.

Phylicia is mentally abusing herself for offering the key back to him as his smile fades, one can almost be sure of that as her jaw clenches for a moment. "Thank you." She says simply and humbly. Watching him stand, she leaves her bag on the back of the chair for another moment, key stashed back in the pocket it came from, and crosses the few scant steps to put her in front of him. If she actually had any significant arm strength besides what climbing a small cliff face will build, the hug she gives Tenebrous might actually make bones creak in protest. But instead the strength of the hug makes her small frame tremble a moment. "At least it's not a 'good bye'." She reflects to him quietly, requesting him to say something without actually saying it.

Tenebrous wraps his arms around her without any prompting at all, and takes a shaking breath. "I've gotten used to you being… -you- over the last few months, Phylicia, and I'll tell you, I'm scared as hell that… when everything is said and done, you'll be different. We'll be different…" He squeezes her just a little tighter. "Do you have any idea how badly I want to tell you not to go?"

Phylicia's smile is slight but true as she rests her head against him. "Just what is 'me', Tenebrous? What possible changes make you so scared?" She asks the loaded questions before her lungs groan in slight protest at the tighter hug before she can suck more air back into them. She's induldging her senses once more at this close of a proximity. "It's just not badly enough for you to actually tell me not to, is it?" She responds in turn softly, glad that her forehead is against him as her jaw clenches and unclenches minutely.

Tenebrous closes his eyes for a moment, one of his hands playing out across her shoulderblades. "I just… I'm used to you being like this. Close, and comfortable, and I don't want you to turn into something else that keeps me at arms' length when we finally run into one another again. It seems like every time I get close enough to having a friend, something threatens to take it away…" He takes a slow breath. "It'll hurt you more… to stay here." And yet he doesn't sound too sure about that. "I don't want you to hurt whenever you're around me…"

His facial expressions are lost on Phylicia since she's still not looking up, but rather seeming to focus on the jacket just in front of her eyes. The conversation is sounding achingly familiar, and she's on the wrong end of it. But unlike the person she had this sort of conversation with, she's not going to start throwing out rash words. "You can't have it both ways." She chides him gently. "I'm not sure I can be 'just a friend' and keep up physical contact like this." Hugs might be okay but… she looks up finally. "I may be able to control my emotions, but I can't control how my body reacts." She only reason she likely isn't responding much at the moment is due to the topic of conversation. But she hears the uncertainty in his tone, and presses just a little bit. "Why would I hurt more? What would happen?"

Tenebrous loosens his arms around her slowly then, beinging his hands up to her shoulders. "I think you misunderstand a little," he murmurs to her. "The… closeness is what I don't want to change. Don't… get me wrong, Phylicia, the physical aspect of our relationship thus far has been … very, very good. But I don't think it's fair to keep behaving that way with you when I suspect your mind is building something more with me… and mine isn't ready for that right now. I don't mind what we are right now, except that it's… hurting you that I can't reciprocate in every aspect. That's not fair to you… and I'd be less of a man if I tried to convince you otherwise. That having been said, if… you go apart for awhile, to… get things under control, to bottle thing sback up, I worry that some of the closeness we have right now will go away too…" He exhales a little in sad laughter. "It's ironic that, despite my penchent for dark and empty caves, I enjoy tactile contact with another human so much…"

Phylicia's hand shift to his hips just after his hands shift to her shoulders. She watches him, watches his face as he speaks and tries to absorb his meaning, that is only face value. His sad laughter is what brings her back to the here and now as she blinks, raising a hand to his cheek. "How you got to be so tactile is a bit of a mystery…" Though she can't entirely blame him. While not as frank about her like of tactile contact, she certainly seems to enjoy it. There's not much to say on the previous topic, he covered it pretty thuroughly by the look of thoughtful comprehension. "I honestly don't know what I will - or won't - be capable of once I get it back under control." She drops her eyes from his, dropping her hand down to his shoulder as well. "But we'll just have to work with whatever we have, hmm?" Her forehead resumes its spot on his chest. "I should go find another bed for tonight." She murmurs softly.

Tenebrous shakes his head quickly. "You don't… have to go anywhere… You can stay here, Phy. Really. I've got business back at Stormhaven anyway. I just stopped by here to pick up a few odds and ends. If… you're comfortable staying here, please do. " Then his face wrinkles up a little, and he murmurs, "Why does it have to be… like this? Why does it have to hurt like this? I don't… get any of this, Phylicia, I don't… do relationships or companionship…" He takes a shuddering breath and whispers, "I don't want you to go."

At first Phylicia just shakes her head slightly, no more than a wiggle. "Of course I'm comfortable! But if I'm to get myself under control, here isn't where I should be." She murmurs between his thoughts. And the next string of them has her clinging to him, the arm still resting on his hip encircling him again for another, tighter half-hug as his breath shudders. "I don't want to cause you any more pain." She says, almost more of a moan as she holds herself to him. "We… we hurt because we care." And its as if she's trying to mold herself against him at his admitance. It doesn't look like she's going anywhere.

Tenebrous shakes his head a little as Phylicia clings to him, tightening his arms around her once more, a hand cradling the back of her head. "I can hear him sometimes," he breaths. "Whatever… died in the fire, I can hear him, and feel him when I look at you…" He takes a shallow breath. "It was easier to keep things… separate in my mind, but it's getting harder every day, like… what once was is somehow pushing its way to the surface of my conciousness. It's so hard to tell the difference sometimes, and I don't… want to wake up one morning and have it all gone, and realize that I've been lying to you or misleading you… or anyone. I've already hurt one person so much, and I don't… have the luxury of so many friends that I can afford to push them away. Especially when they're you…"

Phylicia's breathing isn't the most steady thing in the world as she rests up against him. "Why keep them seperate? Why not integrate them? Stop fighting with yourself…" She both offers and asks before lasping into a momentary silence. "Honest answer, no second guessing." She says finally, a bit slowly as her voice is somewhat contained. Though there's a chill running down her spine that produces a small shiver of her shoulders. "How - or what - do you feel about me?" Its the question people dread to ask. There's an underlying tension to her body as she awaits for the answer to that question, her forehead pressed to his chest for only a moment longer before she lifts it once more, looking up with a carefully neutral, though almost expectant expression.

"Why keep them separate? Because they're pieces of another man's memory, Phylicia. Whatever he was, he's not me. At least, he doesn't feel like me. Or maybe he is, and I just…" Tenebrous shakes his head. "I don't want what I feel to be the result of … some strange half life's carry over. I don't know where the feeligns came from, or what's responsible for them." His hands raise up to her shoulders and he pushes her away just far enough to look into her eyes. "And when I tell someone that I care about them a great deal… that they're one of the mainstays of my life, and quite possibly the only truly serious friend that I have… I want you to know that it's coming from me. That it's what I believe, me, myself, and not some…" He searches for the word, and finds none. Then the rest of her words sink in. "… No second guesses?" he asks quietly. "My kneejerk reaction is not to let you go out that door… not if I know you won't come back. Not if it means some part of what we are will be… less." he sighs. "I'm sorry, Phylicia… I know that's probably not the concrete answer you were hoping for, but I'm afraid it's all that I have…"

Phylicia is fairly pliable in his grasp, moving with his motions as he pushes her shoulders back enough to get a better look at her face. "That's … understandable." She concludes after a few brief moments of thought, her eyebrows creasing towards each other just barely. Her expectant expression lessens as he does answer her question, the tension still humming quietly through her body. "So what do I make of all this?" She asks quietly, as if trying to gather her thoughts. "You don't want me to go. And I don't want to go. But… somehow it's still an option." The thought is apparently still running through her head. Somehow.

"Let me ask you this," Tenebrous says a moment later. "What… does it mean, if you stay? I'm…" He lifts one hand to rub his face. "I mean, I get that we just can't…" He sighs. "Give me a second to work through this. I'm new to the game." he purses his lips. "We're just fine as friends… but you want more, and you lack the ability to separate any of our intimate physical contact from something that you're taking more personally. and… you're having a hard time limiting yourself around me so you don't get any deeper 'involved' in what we are than you should, given that I'm not ready to make any kind of intelligent decision…" He snorts. "Yeah. That's not complicated at all…" Then he eyes her. "What… does it mean if I ask you to stay? What does that mean between you and I?"

Phylicia doesn't even get her mouth open to possibly answer him before he's moving on to summarizing the situation. And the summary is more or less accurate as well, though she apparently doesn't think much of it as one side of her face draws into a bit of a cringe. "Not complicated at all, no." She mumbles in response as she starts to think about his question, heaving a small sigh while her eyes focus - yet unfocus at the same time - on one of the details of his coat around his chest level. "It's hard. Since you say you care - at least a bit - my mind puts on that more personal, more intimate note instead of simply enjoying the contact. But you get hung up, because you don't fully know if it was the former-you that had feelings or if you do too." No, not complicated at all. "I know I care for you. What was then, and what is now. You're you. So I want to help, and that's also where it's hard when I see you struggle with memories now and then…" It seems like she's talking it out herself, still staring at that one point. "If you ask me to stay… without time to control myself…" Now her eyes close, as if she's trying to imagine it. "I… enjoy whatever you feel you can give me. And I hold to the hope that you'll eventually figure yourself out." Obviously in the favor of staying together, though she doesn't say it.

Tenebrous isn't shy about vocalizing that thought. "You don't just want me to figure myself out though. You hope that … I come to care for you the way you do me." He takes a deeper breath. "If you stay here, you enjoy whatever I can give you. We laugh, we're friends, and we occasionally, or more than that, given how much we seem to enjoy it, engage in other behavior." Then he stills himself. "And you never stop holding your breath. If someone else who can love you now, for who you are, comes along, you'll brush them off, in favor of … hope." He looks at her gravely. "Am I wrong?"

Phylicia's eyes are open now, and focused as well as she looks at Tenebrous. Her head tilts to the side minutely accompanied by a small grin as he pegs her unsaid sentiment. "If I go, we laugh and we're friends but I can't promise I could keep my head for close physical touch." The only way to figure that one out would be to let her go and see where regaining control leads. She's listening to him again though, considering his words and again, trying to picture a situation. "You're not wrong, but you're not completely right. If that were the case, I'd still be with M'nol and … no." The thought of resuming a romantic (or maybe any sort of) relationship with the brownrider doesn't seem to agree with her at the moment. "It's completely subjective."

Tenebrous blinks once. "Ok, I'll be honest with you, that one went by a little fast. Tell me what happens if you stay here again? Because… you're telling me that if you go, you'll be gone for a bit, and when you come back, we'll be friends and laugh, and maybe still have sex once in awhile, and…" Then he shakes his head again. "I'm… sorry, I'm not very good at this."

Phylicia shakes her head in turn, her hand sliding up from his shoulder to softly cup his neck, just below his ear. "No one's very good at this." She says in a 'don't worry' tone. "If I stay… I could touch you when I'd like. You could touch me when you'd like." There's a little bit of a smile tugging at her lips, as if she's restraining herself from demonstrating her point. "Very little in the way of inhibitions besides good sense. But if I go…" She draws her hand away now and takes a step back, putting herself just within the range of his grasp. "We're still friends, but much less touching. More inhibitions. Possibly no sex at all, depending on my control…"

Tenebrous needs no prompting to lean into Phylicia's hand as she speaks, and when she steps away, he almost winces. "The selfish part of me… wants to ask you to stay. Because I enjoy having you nearby, and I'm honestly scared that if you go away, some of our closeness will go with it. I… want to ask you to say because I'm comfortable with you as a friend. You're a bridge for me, between what was, and what is. You're the only person that knew me before and after… and I don't want to give that up. That having been said… it wouldn't exactly be fair to ask you to stay…" Then his face screws up and he turns a little. "I can't ask you to stay while I figure this out… I can't ask you to do that to yourself. I obviously can't stop you if you do, but…"

"Life isn't fair." Phylicia says, reaching out for one of his arms as he begins to turn, taking half a step closer. "Though people usually say that under different conditions." It still applies. Her fingers curl around his arm, merely as a presence and offering him the chance to turn back towards her. "Why can't you, if I'm willing?" And if he thinks she's not willing, he's not listening very well. For a moment her fingers tighten on his arm demanding his attention. "Tenebrous," Her tone is serious, but soft and caring. "Tell me what you would like of me. Which would cause you less pain?"

Tenebrous closes his eyes slowly. "I'd like to find some kind of hybrid between the two. Where I know we can continue to exist this way and you're in no danger." He opens his eyes then. "Pain is… something I'm used to. I'm not worried about pain. I'm worried about you hurting. I don't know if I could handle that, if I knew I was responsible." Then he shakes his head. "But if you want to know what I want… I want you to stay. Work with me. Play with me, help me plant my garden. Hold my hand, and let me hold yours when you need it, and if we happen to fall into one another's arms on an evening or a morning, then so be it… I don't want you to go. I don't know if that gives you the answer to all of this that you want. But I don't want you to go."

Phylicia barely bites back a laugh, though the grin on her face before he even gets to the part that really pleases her betrays the pending giggle which isn't contained for long. "Neither of us wants to hurt the other, and yet neither of us wants to just be selfish!" She finally says around that giggle as she moves to stand in front of him, once more sliding her arms around him in a much gentler, less desperate hug. "Yet in the end we're both being selfish." She's making no further moves to go anywhere or even do anything, instead just resting there against him. "That gives me an very good answer, Ten." She says after a few silent moments. "If it makes you feel better, I'll work on my, mmmm… concept of all this. While keeping your company, that is. I'd like nothing more than to do what you just said."

Tenebrous sighs shakily, before wrapping his arms around Phylicia again. "Okay," he stammers, and for a moment, his whole form trembles. Then he steadies himself and squeezes her right back. "I could give a damn about the concept of all of this. If we're both alright with whatever… this is, I don't care about the concept of it. As long as we're both happy. When we stop being happy, when we find we can no longer be comfortable… then we'll revisit things, but… for now, no leaving…"

Phylicia notices the tremor that runs through his body, though Tenebrous gets little more than a worried glance tinged with curiousity and a slight cant of her head to the side. "I hope you let us leave the room at some point in time." She says, intentionally being obtuse. "We might get hungry otherwise." Yet as comfortable as resting against him is, she starts inching her way around his body, lingering, until she gets back to the edge of the bed, where she sits. "Did you have to get back to Stormhaven tonight?" She does remember him saying something about just needing a few odds and ends a while ago.

Tenebrous turns slowly once Phylicia seats herself. "No. I don't have to go back there tonight. I have to take a dragon to Ista tomorrow, actually. The Master has agreed to let me house a few seedlings at the Hall's arboratory until the garden is ready to be planted in. I'll have to start soon, but I've got too many samples to bring in to just let them sit around. I have to store them somewhere." He raises a brow. "And you? Do you have a shift coming up soon?"

Phylicia shakes her head, letting herself get a creak in her neck as she looks up at him with a smile. "Mmm, no. My shift was earlier in the day. I was …" she pauses a moment, her cheeks flushing slightly. She was sulking is what she was doing, when he walked in. "Thinking." She finishes after a moment, her smile fading a few notches. "Tomorrow's shift is closer to midday." She supplies, distracting herself once more from the other topic.

Tenebrous ahhs quietly, simply choosing to lean against a convinient wall as she speaks. "You have time to kill then? Were you looking for a bit of volunteer labor to engross yourself in?" With a half-amused smile, he gestures to the doorway. "The On Duty at the Infirmary is always looking for more help sorting files and doing inventory. It seems that someone's flit has been marauding the supplies and making off with the occasional bit of medical supply. They can't fathom who would train their fire lizard to do such a thing, but…" He spreads his hands.

Phylicia's gaze flickers to the doorway before a grin once again pulls at her lips. "They can't?" She asks, the beginning of laughter there in her voice. But apparently at the edge of the bed is not where she wants to be. Carefully taking her skirt in hand, she hikes it to just above her knees before she crawls closer to the head of the bed. "I certainly could think of one." She says, pinpointing him with an amused look over her shoulder as she settles herself again. "But maybe tomorrow I'll help them with their paper work. Today has already been a … long day." Comfortable and sitting near the middle of the bed, she looks at the pillow. "I don't think I was going to be up for much longer."

Tenebrous watches Phylicia's movements without a complete lack of disinterest before shaking his head. "If it's already been a long day, you should see about a meal, a hot bath, and then sleep. Maybe a shoulder rub from a concerned party, but then…off to bed, I should think." Then he smiles. "Yet I suspect you have alterior motives."

"A hot bath is the first thing I did afterwards." Phylicia says with a smile, though she says nothing about a meal. It's likely her appetite has been a little off since the fallout with M'nol. Besides the crawling up the bed, she's done little to be actively provacative and that doesn't seem to change, even as she pats the area next to her, running a hand through her hair to make sure its dry. "What motives would those be?" She asks, feigning more innocence than close friends might give her. "Though a shoulder rub does sound good."

"Right now," Tenebrous offers, absently beginning to pull his gloves off, "It looks like your motives consist of fishing for a shoulder rub, and I suspect that you know I'll give you one if you ask. And if you ask nicely, I'll even get out a bit of the tiger balm that I've packed with me. Seems several people have had a rash of sore muscles of late, so I made it a point to carry a small pot with me. You're just the first one that I've caught wearing a skirt."

Phylicia stays stationary on his bed, though she tucks her hands together just in front of her lap on the bed, and leans forward slightly. "And if I ask very nicely would you consider more than just my shoulders?" She asks as she still waits for him to join her on the bed before she shifts to a more appropriate position. "Though you would have to come over for me to ask properly…"

Tenebrous has the decensy to keep his face straight as he stuffs both gloves into whatever secret place on his person that they normally go, pacing over to her and sitting down on that bed where she directs. "You would have to ask me awful nice to garner more than a shoulder rub, you know," Tenebrous offers quietly. "I'm a busy man, you know. Gardens to plant, fire lizard to corrupt…"

"Not that I won't be helping you with the planting." Phylicia notes with a chuckle, finally shifting herself to just inches behind him. Her hands start to help him out of his coat, gently insistant though she makes no pass at his clothing. And she raises to her knees, leaning forward just slightly to put her lips next to his ear, but none of her body actually touching his besides for her hands on his coat. "Would you please consider giving me more than just a shoulder rub?" She asks in a quiet near-whisper voice, placing a singular light kiss where the lobe of his ear connects with his jawline, and pulls away, settling herself just to the side of him afterwards. There's wariness in her eyes, behind her playful smile.

Tenebrous allows himself to be divested of his coat, absently setting his satchel aside a moment later, within easy reach. But when Phylicia leans over, whispering in his ear, he twitches visibly, and his head jerks just a little. "Those aren't toys," he stammers playfully, glancing down at the newly risen gooseflesh on his arms. When she pulls away, he turns to regard her with a smile. "If you tell me what hurts, I'll be happy to work on it," he murmurs. "Though, I should warn you, tiger balm leaves a rather potent smell behind. Not unpleasant, but very distinct. You'll probably want to take off your overshirt if you want to save it from the mess."

Phylicia shifts enough on the bed to where her back modestly faces him, though she grins over her shoulder as she unbuttons her blouse and sets it off to the side before she lays down on her stomach, arms latching on to a pillow to use to cushion her head as well as her arms, leaving the entirety of her back bare, minus the tiny bit her bra covers. "Thank you." She says first, her eyes still laughing. "Though I'd be more worried about your sheets than my shirt." She doesn't pause long to think though, when it comes to assessing the sore points. "My entire back, if you wouldn't mind? I'm just … really tense. All over." And it mostly gets taken out on her back.

Tenebrous chuckles. "My sheets have seen worse at my hands than a bit of tiger balm. They'll survive until I wash them. Besides, I have a spare set in the closet, should you decide to stay here this evening." Then he's bending over to pick up his satchel with one hand, the other rooting about until he finds the jar of balm. "Just relax," he offers quietly, his tone almost clinical. Then the jar is opened. Tenebrous takes a moment to daub a bit of barriered oil on his hands before the balm is scooped out and warmed on his palm. Then, at the base of her back, rather than the shoulders, hey lays his fingers to work, working with slow, radiating strokes from her spine outward.

Telling Phylicia to relax in such a situation is about as needless as telling Tenebrous to watch his footing in the forest. Her body gives under his hands, except for the spots of tense, knotted muscles along either side of her spine, and just beneath her shoulder blades. "You said there was no leaving." She reminds him, playfully. Being intentionally thick has its perks sometimes. She aims one last smile at him, before she shifts her head to a more comfortable position and lets herself relax fully, eyes sliding shut to help.

"So I did," Tenebrous offers quietly. "Then I shall take extra care not to get any of the balm in places it does not belong, hmm?" In time, he's worked up to her shoulders, thumb digging in with slow, relentless intensity. There's nothing artful about what he does, not like the workers that one might find at an Istan resort, but his work is effective, non-the-less. What he lacks in technique, he more than makes up for with raw skill and simple knowledge of the body. It only takes him a few near misses with the straps of Phylicia's bra before he's hooking each with a pinky and coaxing them out of the way. But beyond that, he remains quiet, content to speak through his work.

Occasionally there's a small grunt from Phylicia as he hits a sensitive tense spot though a moment later she's usually exhaling in a soft sigh. "Mmmm." Is the only sort of affirmative that he gets from her about the balm before she completely lets herself relax, drifting off into sleep sometime during the massage, her breathing deep and even, and her face peaceful for the first time in a few nights.

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