A Very Bad Morning

Western Weyr - Living Caverns
Here is the center of Weyr life, the living caverns. These two main rooms were man-shaped from smaller caves, and are joined by a carved arch with depictions of dragons in flight and dolphins leaping in swirling waves. One room has many round stone and wooden tables and a stone fire-pit instead of a hearth. Over the round-walled, gas fired pit is a large conical hood made of polished bronze, with reliefs of dragons with their riders flying over ships guided by dolphins. This hood and chimney keeps the room smoke-free. Through the archway is an enormous hall, with long tables and benches, some carved from the rock floor, many crafted of wood. This room is a combination dining and meeting hall, and can seat over 300 comfortably. Above both rooms, angled shafts lined with polished metal bring in sunlight during the day. Electric lights also burn, day and night.

It's kind of cloudy and grey outside, not cold but not exactly beautiful; as Western mornings go, it's not an especially memorable one, except for the way people glance at the skies on their way in, checking for the rain that may or may not begin to fall, sooner or later. Already in the caverns, relatively awake now that she's had a mug of klah, Rhysanna is sitting at one of the stone tables near the fire-pit. The remains of her breakfast are on a plate beside her, the fork still in her hand inclined to poke at it idly from time to time, though most of her attention is on the letter on the table in front of her.

Cloudy mornings are the worst. Though all mornings are pretty bad for Zi'on, since he is a night owl. The bronzer comes in, dressed but still half asleep. His hair is cow-licked and his shirt is accidentally tucked in on one side. Initially he walks right past Rhysa, moving to get a stack of pastry and a mug of klah from himself. Then he peers blearily out at the caverns, looking for a place to sit. And promptly seems to fall asleep standing up. Or just zones out for a while, until someone bumps him. He blinks, and finally notices Rhysa tucked away by the fire and moves to join her. "Hey there." He says, looking at what's got her attention. "Everything okay?"

In a previous life, Rhysanna would definitely still be asleep at this point; weyrlinghood is presently making that preference a difficult one. It does mean she's got sympathy for Zi'on when, tipping her head up, she acknowledges his presence… and only the faintest hint of a smile. "Morning," she says. No, there's nothing 'good' about it. "You look like your brain is still in bed. I'm— mmm, no, everything's fine." The letter - just a few lines in tidy script, really - gets folded into tidy thirds, though she doesn't take it off the table.

Zi'on's job makes it difficult, especially when he has meetings at other weyrs in different time zones. Zi'on pouts at the lackluster greeting. Once he was getting kisses! But.. probably never by Rhysa. Zi'on instead lays an arm on the back of her chair and scoots closer. He raises a brow at the 'everything's fine' comment. "What happened?" He doesn't want to go prying, but he will pick up that paper if she refuses him. "Is it Taveh? Your mom?"

It's clearly still far too early for enthusiastic greetings. Besides, Rhysa's glancing from Zi'on towards her letter, and then back again. "No, no," she's quick to answer. "Honestly, it's nothing. Just a letter from Larya. I told myself I could mope about it over breakfast, but then I had to forget about it and move on. She doesn't want me to come visit. She wants to, I don't know, break ties and focus on her new life. So!" By the end of that, she's aiming to sound cheery. "It's fine."

Zi'on stares at Rhysa like she's from another planet. Other than Earth. He picks up the letter to read it, like he does believe her. "What? Why would she want that? She got married, right?" Zi'on gives Rhysa a sad look. "I'm sorry. Do you know why she would do something like this? I mean… maybe she was coerced. I realize you two haven't talked in a while. But maybe she needs to be checked in on." Zi'on wraps an arm around Rhysa's shoulders and gives her a squeeze. "You want a pastry?"

Oh good. Because that just makes Rhysa wilt, gaze dropping towards her empty mug rather than focus on Zi'on. The letter is pretty much exactly what she described: blah blah thank you for your best wishes blah blah please don't visit I'm focusing on my new life now blah blah thank you for your friendship. "No, I think it's quite genuine. She was always worried about her fiance— well, husband now, I guess, about what his family would think about her coming from a Weyr." Rhysa's dark eyes turn, regarding Zi'on side-on as she leans in to that arm and that squeeze. "I can never eat sweet things first thing in the morning," she says, with a shake of her head. "But thank you."

Zi'on sets the letter down. Why would anyone want to cut ties with the weyr? Of course, it's hard for him to imagine wanting to leave your past behind. "Sorry, Rhysa." He says, quietly. "Is there anything I can do to help, you think?" It seemed pretty irrational to the bronzer though. He gives Rhysa another squeeze and kisses her forehead. Then he take up one of his pastries and bites into it. Comforting himself with food. "Is Taveh still too scared to fly?"

"I don't think so," says Rhysa, managing to smile this time, however mutedly. "But thank you, anyway. Maybe it'll change in the future. Or maybe it was inevitable that different paths would break us apart. It's…" She trails off, abruptly shaking her head as if to clear it, though it also may be partially in response to that last question, too: "Oh, no. She's flying again. When she has to, at least. She's… stopped playing with Kaiath, though. I think she's decided it's beneath her dignity, or something, and I feel… well, bad, for Kaiath."

Zi'on nods. "Does she know you impressed gold? You'll be a powerful contact once you're graduated…" Not that he wants to devalue their friendship of course. It just seemed funny to him to cut ties now. Zi'on looks sad. Probably more sad than he ought to be, consideirng he didn't know the girl. But still, she was Rhysa's best friend at some point. That was worse than a break up. "Ah. Well, I suppose it's good that she's flying. Kaiath probably… needs to play a little less. She's cute and all, but she is getting a little large for that. Plus with Nae's nose and all, she'll need to calm a bit."

Rhysanna's tone is distantly related to 'bitter' when she says, "Oh, she knows. That's half the problem, I think. I don't know. But… I think. So." She exhales. "There's not much I can do about that." Her fork gets stabbed idly into the remnants of her eggs; for a few seconds, Rhysa simply sits and breathes. Then, "I'm not sure Kaiath knows how to calm down. I mean, she was subdued right after the accident, but… I just don't like knowing that she's confused because Taveh suddenly stopped wanting to be friends."

Zi'on frowns. Now he looks like he's trying not to get mad. "I see. I suppose there isn't." He sighs. "Well. Maybe she'll come around at some point." And if not, then they knew were her loyalties lied! Zi'on concentrates on his pastry and his klah for a bit, while Rhysa composes herself. He feels… relatively useless. It wasn't like he could even really offer her a shoulder to cry on since he didn't want to encourage her to be emotional. "True I suppose… You mean the accident with Nae hitting her nose, right?" He sighs a bit. "I'm not sure what to do there, either. Taveh seems to want to distance herself from everyone. Have you tried discussing it with her?"

"Maybe," agrees Rhysa, who otherwise seems happy enough to abandon that topic altogether… not that the other is all that much of an improvement, given the way she stiffens. "She thinks we're both better off without other people," she answers, slowly. "She thinks… I think she has this idea in her head about what we're supposed to be, both of us, and that this is the only way to achieve it. I pointed out that Miraneith and Shadhavarth aren't like that, but it didn't really seem to sink in. I won't be distanced from people, whatever she wants."

Zi'on and Rhysa are hell-bent on having a terrible morning, it would seem. At least by their current topics of conversation. But it's his job to look after the goldrider. He frowns at Taveh's world view. "I wonder why she's so anti-others…" He frowns then. "You think maybe… we're making it worse?" He motions to the two of them, indicating their romantic relationship (or what little of it they can have). "You can't live without other people. Not at the weyr, anyways." He sighs. "Have you had a chance to talk to Enka? Maybe a direct conversation with another gold would be helpful."

It's the kind of morning that would be improved wholeheartedly by alcohol. Or distraction. Or something. Instead, there's only Rhysa's sigh, her head half turned so that she can catch those frowns, her teeth dropping to rest upon her lower lip, biting it uncomfortably. "She doesn't seem to disapprove of you any more than anyone else," she offers, tentatively, in a way that suggests she's not wholly sure that's not just wishful thinking. "We're not… doing anything we shouldn't. I… haven't talked to Enka." Her cheeks turn pink. "I should. Taveh will hate it, though. Admitting weakness."

Let's face it, it's the kind of morning where Zi'on would somehow trick Rhysa into playing hooky. And staying in bed. With him. Doing things that dare not be mentioned until mating flights. Zi'on looks at Rhysa, trying to see how confident she was in her statement that he's not warranting extra disapproval from the gold. Or causing her to hate other people. He frowns. "No. But we are together a lot. Alone. Maybe she resents it. I don't want to exacerbate the situation. I can come around less." He shrugs. "Maybe. But it would be good for her to find someone she could talk to that she can let her armor down with."

It's probably even the kind of morning where 'trickery' would scarcely be necessary. But. Alas. Zi'on's frown has Rhysa sighing again, her gaze sliding away from the bronzerider and off towards the opposite wall. "I don't want her to think that she just… gets to win. But the idea that we've somehow caused damage to her…" Yeah, that bothers her, obviously, and has those teeth chewing at her lip again. "Maybe," is her conclusion, offered on another exhale. "I'll try. I don't… honestly, I think she's just afraid. And she shouldn't be, because she has… me. And there's nothing to be afraid of. No one expects her to be perfect." Now she just sounds frustrated.

Yes, this is turning into a very bad morning. Rhysa will learn that Zi'on tends to blow bad news out of proportion. At least when it comes to relationships. Things he couldn't fix. Zi'on's shoulders slump at Rhysa's confirmation of the possibility they might be making things worse. "What is she afraid of? Maybe we're trying to treat the symptoms here and not the disease. Maybe we need to find out if there's an actual problem that she's hiding from. I don't know. I just don't want her to become an angry gold who just looms on her ledge all day. It wouldn't be fun for you or for her."

Even looking elsewhere, Rhysa is aware of that slump, and it shows in her face: she looks miserable. Oh good. "I don't think there is anything," she says, finally turning her gaze back towards Zi'on. "She's just paranoid about how she's perceived. But it's stupid, because the more she withdraws, the more people notice and think something is wrong with her. I think she's just… I think it's just who she is. What she's like. And I just need to learn to manage it, because she can't lock herself up in some ivory tower or whatever it is she wants. And I can't…" Her lip wobbles, just a little.

Zi'on's brown furrows a bit. "Perceived by who? She's at the top of the food chain around here… there's not too many dragons she needs be worried about. For what it's worth, Suldith still likes her. Even if she is cold toward him. There hasn't been a new gold here in so long." Of course a lot of that was probably Zi'on's doing. When Rhysa's lip start to wibble though, well, Zi'on looks panicked. "No no… it's okay, Rhysa. Just… just relax. It's probably just a phase since there's a lot she's unsure about right now. With the flying and all…" He reaches over to pat her back gently.

Annnnnnnnnd a bad morning turns worse. Well, no: Rhysa doesn't start sobbing or anything, which is definitely a point in the plus column, though it's plain that she could. For a few seconds, words are completely out of the question, and instead she has to resort to quick nods: it's a phase, her dragon is basically nearly an adolescent, she's probably just moody. It's fine. "Right," she says, a little shakily, a few seconds later. "Right. She'll be fine. She's… she's just growing up." Right.

Sod the rules. Actually, he was doing a favor to them, in Zi'on's estimation, when he reaches over to pull Rhysa in against himself. He leans his head against hers. "Don't worry, Rhysa. We'll figure this out. She might just be moody these past couple of weeks. Who knows? She might be fine again tomorrow." He looks down at her and smiles a bit. "No tears, okay? We'll talk to Enka. We'll go flying together. We'll do whatever it takes. Okay?"

There are definitely easier, less traumatic ways to go about rule-breaking. Rhysa's easily pulled in, burrowing against Zi'on for several silent seconds as she attempts to recover her equilibrium. Her voice is small, not much above a whisper, when she answers, but at least she makes an effort to return that smile. "Okay," she says. "It'll be okay. We'll work it out."

This way, Rhysa gets some support and hopefully doesn't have a meltdown in the middle of the caverns, in addition to probably waking up her dragon. The bronzer will let Rhysa stay cuddled in against him for as long as she wants. It was for her benefit! Even if Zi'on's not complaining, considering this is the closest they've been since she impressed. "I'll be here no matter how hard she tries to push everyone away. You should bring her by the sands. She can look in and see Mir and Suldith. Tell her it's educational." He tilts her chin up. "Don't worry, my delicate flower."

It's really in everyone's best interest that Rhysa doesn't have a meltdown, wake up her dragon, and then cause her dragon to have an even more public meltdown! That would be bad. The weyrling does not precisely seem to be in a hurry to withdraw, which is, well, hardly surprising, and not just because of her present emotional turmoil. As her chin is tilted up, her eyes lift to meet Zi'on's, actually attempting, this time, to hold his gaze. "I'll try," she says, exhaling shakily. "Thank you. I'm sorry I—"

Zi'on does not want to be around Rhysa if that should ever happen. He would never hear the end of it. Zi'on rubs her back comfortingly. He smiles softly down at her. "At least you haven't busted your face up, like Nae, right?" He chuckles a bit, trying to lift her spirits. "You're as lovely as ever. Hopefully Nae's face isn't permanently damaged." Zi'on locks gazed with her for a moment, then pulls her in for a more friendly-type hug. Before he gets even more of an urge to press his lips against hers. "Rhysa, please. There's no need to apologize. What you're going through is tough, I'm glad we can talk about it." He sighs then. "I probably ought to restart my day, though."

That mention of Nae does have Rhysa exhaling a near-laughing breath, and yes, she's more-or-less smiling after that. Friendly hugs help, too. "You should probably fix your hair and your shirt before you do that," she says, as she draws back, the twisted corner of her mouth probably as much acknowledgement for the rest of what he's said as he's likely to get at the moment. "I need to head back to the barracks, anyway. Taveh'll be up soon, and—" The endless routine of mucking, bathing and oiling begins again.

Zi'on blinks at Rhysa's comment as to his appearance. "Hm? Oh…" He gets up to tuck his shirt in and fix his hair. "Better?" The pastries he'll take to go. "We should all go out for a fly soon. Maybe not today, it looks like it might rain. But soon. No excuses." He tapes the side of his nose. At least now that the young queen can fly, she ought to be able to do her business in a convenient location? Betweening would be soon enough, though. "I'll see you later, Rhysa." He gives her shoulder a squeeze, then heads out.

"Soon," confirms Rhysa, firmly. And - hurray! - her smile, however tentative, does not disappear the moment he's gone. So… that's good!

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