Not So Scary Afterall

Ierne Weyrhold - Guest Weyr
There's probably a guest weyr there SOMEWHERE. JOKE'S ON YOU IF YOU THINK WE FOUND IT, THO.

The thing about Laurieth is that she never goes quietly or without a fight, and so Ebeny is likewise rarely a gentle partner when under the influence of her green, even when caught by those familiar to them. Perhaps there will never be any true knowing or understanding just what goes on in the building that serves as Ierne's flight weyr when Laurieth is captured and claimed by not her usual favoured browns and blue, but by a bronze - for the first time in turns - but what is evident enough is that neither green nor rider keep their claws sheathed. Most troubling is that perhaps it's Laurieth who does the least damage. Maybe Ebeny will not remember just who shoved who against the wall or who thought the floor would be a good idea, or just why that chair is smashed, yet exactly where responsibility is owed turns out to be the least of her worries when she wakes to a not entirely unfamiliar level of pain and instinctively hauls a blanket up over herself, rolling onto the side that doesn't cause agony in an absent attempt to get a look at the person she finds herself with.

And while Teimyrth is not a cruel dragon, he is certainly far from a kind one. It's why raking claws and the threat of teeth do not deter him, the determination and frenzy translated to his own rider who would not have been a gentle lover to begin with (but is patently less so now). So even if the hazy lack of clarity guaranteed by flightlust means Ebeny truly never does remember the who, or what, or why, the most likely answer to each is probably the same: Ila'den. Which is to say, Ila'den gives what he gets, with teeth that bite and fingers that might not leave scratches in their wake, but certainly leave bruises — and, apparently, broken ribs. For both of them, if the sudden sharp pain in his side upon being awoken is anything to go by. There's a low growl that escapes the bronzerider, one arm taut with muscle raising as the other moves to where pain persists, as if he might be able to ease it with touch. No luck, and now the bronzerider is groping for his pillow as he slowly eases himself to sit up, resting his back against the headboard and tilting his head back against it, planting that pillow firmly between his legs as he simply remembers how to breathe. From the looks of him, it would appear that he's used to abuse, given that you'd be hard-pressed to find a patch of skin on the man that isn't marred by varying levels and severity of scaring. One, two, three, and Ila'den is opening his only good eye to roll it towards Ebeny, amusement hinting in the pull at the corner of his lips as he drawls out, "Broken rib, little bird," a huff of sound as he leans, to retrieve his eyepatch (HOW DID THAT EVEN GET OFF?) and place it over the grizzly ruin of his other, empty socket. Lean, breathe as that eye closes again and he shifts to make himself more comfortable. "I've woken up in a lot of strange situations, but I don't think I've ever woken up with my ribs broken." A deep inhale, and then low, rumbling, husky laughter escapes him. "I almost forgot how much it hurts." Only now does Ila'den tilt his head, blinking that eye back open so that he can actually see Ebeny hiding behind her sheet, his hair bed tousled and unruly in gravity defying angles that make him appear all the more wild for it. "Are you okay?" Despite the fact that Ila'den's voice is a low, raspy growl of sound (always), he still somehow manages to make the question sound gentle, as if he's attempting to prevent spooking an already frightened animal. "Did I hurt you?"

Ebeny's strategy is largely comprised of just not moving and also trying not to breathe too frequently, as if she could convince the pain to go away if she just stays still enough and quiet enough and it forgets all about her, even if lying as she does means that she's just about eye level with Ila'den's waist and not able to do much more than tilt her head back slightly to get a quick look at him before settling back how she was. There's no flash of alarm at what she finds, yet nor is there any hint of recognition, the events of the recent past still too jumbled together to allow her to catch more than brief glimpses through the indistinct haze. Muddy-green eyes narrow as she considers the question put to her and loses the battle against pressing her hand to her own ribs, what bruising she's accumulated and dished out seeming to perturb her none, for all that focus appears to be difficult. "I don't remember," is an honest answer, her voice low and rough. "I mean… I mean, I hurt, but I don't remember whether you… or I provoked you. I probably provoked you." This, she accepts as a matter of course. "Yours aren't the first ribs I've broken. Probably won't be the last. And you're not the first to give it back in kind." She dares another glance up at him, holding her breath against what pain it invites. "I'm sorry. I'm not usually… Not that it's all Laurieth's fault. We're both terrible when she rises."

Ebeny's response earns her more of that husky laughter, short-lived though it may be in response to the pain it causes him (or perhaps that's just the way he always laughs) to execute it. Regardless, a hiss escapes Ila'den on an exhale, hand gingerly pressing against his side as he breathes out a raspy, "Fair enough." Mostly because he doesn't remember very much of what happened either. Still, there's amusement in Ila'den's gaze when that grey eye finds its way back to Ebeny, the former renegade unerringly attentive to her words - to her — in a way that might be considered unnerving (to some) when she speaks. He listens, he waits, and he doesn't look away until she's done, tilting his head back as that eye closes once more in a futile attempt to keep mounting pain at bay. "You have nothing to apologize for, little bird," comes softly, the corners of Ila'den's mouth curling up in a hint of smile that's not so much laughter as it is amusement at their current predicament. Or perhaps it's just self-deprecation manifesting as quick humor. It's hard to tell with Ila'den. "I am." Usually rough, he means. "But I am sorry that I hurt you, regardless of who provoked who." It was just as likely to be Ila'den as it was to be Ebeny, and the bronzerider knows it. That grey eye comes open, focused on the wall opposite for a long moment before it drops back to Ebeny with another fleeting smile to greet her. It seems to be in an attempt to put her at ease, to dismiss her concerns, but the reasoning behind it doesn't matter so much as his next words. "It is done, little bird. It doesn't matter. Will you allow me to take you to the healers? I wouldn't feel right knowing that I did that to you," a pause, as that eye goes over what damage he can see, and then settles on her face, "without making sure you made it to somebody who can tend you." He waits only a moment before shifting to put his feet on the ground, another growl escaping him as he works up the courage to get to his feet and keep that pillow in place. His back? It's the worst of him, so riddled with scar tissue that it appears as if somebody flayed him and his back didn't have enough skin to piece him back together proper. It's a mangled mess, really, but a distant memory compared to the state of ribs making him move slowly and at a slightly bent angle as he searches for… well, any article of clothing, really. Faranth, but they made a mess of this place. Ila'den's even picking up a piece of ruined chair, holding it up for study, turning a look onto Ebeny with a raised brow, and then setting it back down with rumbling laughter before moving on.

"No," Ebeny insists, carefully easing herself onto her back, where she lies for a moment until almost immediately deciding that that isn't exactly a lot of fun at the moment, her frown one born both of contemplating whether sitting up will be worth the pain and her determination to refuse to be absolved of what she's done. "I do need to apologise," she declares, slowly easing herself up to sit propped by the one arm that won't send shooting pain across her ribcage if relied upon. "If I didn't, it would be like saying it's okay that I did this - and it's not. If we're apologising, then we both can or we both don't need to, but it's not right that you should and I shouldn't. It's her - my - nature that we owe this to, ultimately." So she believes, responsibility claimed in a manner matter of fact and without the embarrassment of turns past. "Because I can't… I shouldn't deny that I enjoy it." Just what of it all she enjoys is a step too far to clarify, for all that it might be plain enough. She's not so ashamed of her body that she bothers to expend the effort to hold up the blanket any longer, especially since Ila'den has seen it all before, and inches her way towards the edge of the bed to follow him no further than that. "Why don't we take each other to the healers?" she proposes, gaze raking over the mess of his back without allowing her voice to give away even a tiny measure of what she might feel about how it looks. However, when he holds up that piece of ruined chair and looks back at her, there's no denying that the smile she aims for is a forced one that doesn't reach her eyes, unable to work past guilt to find amusement in it, though she doesn't permit herself to flinch. Attempting to be helpful, she nods towards a far corner and suggests, "I think that's your shirt."

The expression on Ila'den's face communicates clearly enough that Ebeny does not need to apologize to him, but the elder rider endures it none-the-less, pausing in his slow-going retrieval of clothing to fix her with that same attentiveness he'd regarded her with before. "Very well, then," comes with a hint of brogue and burr, amusement on concession as he keeps moving, but this time towards Ebeny. "I accept your apology, little bird. I hope that you can accept mine." He's at the bed now, standing before her with little more than a pillow to keep his modesty, eyes on her face when they could be raking her body (BUT HE'S MUCH TOO POLITE TO DO THAT, despite harboring a reputation to the contrary). And he doesn't stop. Ila'den gets much too close and leans in, the only acknowledgement of pain a wince and an exhale without being deterred from sinking into a crouch. He's putting arms on either side of the bed near Ebeny's thighs, the posture caging without stealing the room she might escape in, never once dropping his gaze from hers. "But I am not a man that you need to apologize to, understand? I am sorry that I hurt you, but I am not sorry that it happened. And I am sorry that you are waking up next to a strange man that you know nothing about, so let me share just enough. I am not a gentle man, I am not what most people would consider a kind man. Whatever you gave, I am sure that I deserved it; more than that, I am sure that I retaliated if I was not the one that initiated it. My weyrmate is probably going to laugh himself silly between bouts of concern when he sees me, and our other 'mate is probably going to stab me with her eyes while she binds my ribs." Another smile, this one somehow mischievous and boyish. "So it's okay to laugh, little bird. It's okay to like it, even. It's okay." But his head turns, tilting as he takes in the rumples fabric and he breathes out, "So it is. Good eye." DID HE JUST… MAKE A JOKE AT HIS OWN EXPENSE? HE DID. He totally did, which is why he's smiling when he looks back to her, and then rises to his full height again. That pillow goes right back over sensitive areas, and away he goes to retrieve his shirt. But he doesn't put it on, not yet. He hands it to Ebeny instead, despite the fact that she's abandoned her sheet, and hunts for his leathers instead. "I should probably tell you that my name is Ila'den, and that I'm rider to Bronze Teimyrth of Half Moon Bay Weyr." A beat, as he looks back to Ebeny. "You do not have to give me your name if you don't want to, but it might make it easier. For when we take each other to the healers."

She could lean away. There are those who would probably believe that Ebeny should lean away, particularly given her state of undress, yet she stands her proverbial ground and lets Ila'den get as close as he likes without giving him a flicker of fear or concern in return for the trouble he's taken, even going so far as to reach for his shoulders before she can stop herself, more worried for him than for herself. Her hands hover for a second or so before they land lightly on his shoulders as though to keep him from what mishaps pain might cause, little made of it, for she affords him her full attention without the distance that often defines her even when focused. "You seem a decent sort to me," is what she finds most pressing to say, before he can move too far away from her. She bites down on the inside of her lip, hesitant, but takes a deep breath and tells him, "Laurieth appears to have a habit of getting herself caught by dragons with riders who can handle what we're like when she flies. I don't know if she does it deliberately. What I'm trying to say is… I know what you mean. I'm sorry I hurt you and I'm sorry you'll keep hurting, but I'm not… sorry about anything else." Guilt, however, might be a slightly different animal. When he makes his joke, she glances down into her lap in a poor attempt to conceal a quirking of her lips, hands sliding free of his shoulders as he rises, to collect up his shirt instead. "I'm Ebeny," she offers in turn. "We live here. I sing - and write for the piano; I own the music place down the road."

"Do I?" Another rasping breath of husky, rumbling, short-lived laughter. "Don't tell anybody else, little bird. I have a reputation to maintain. I can't scare people if they stop believing that I'm crazy and a monster." A clack of his teeth as he snaps them together in dark humor, though whether people really do believe the aforementioned of Ila'den, he doesn't clarify. It could, in fact, just be a lie (it's not). It's irrelevant. Ila'den is an odd creature indeed, for he pervades as much as he invades space, saturating the very air with his presence in an unruly, wild, unrepentant way. He's all wolfish arrogance without being overbearing; a man confident enough in himself to harbor little care for how the way he acts may be perceived by others. But Ila'den does not like to be touched. It's there in his body, when Ebeny's hands hover and inevitably come down on his shoulders; it's evident in the way that muscles ripple to taut readiness and that smile tightens just enough to be evident. But Ila doesn't move away from her touch. He does not politely gather her hands in his to place them back on her own person with a gentle joke to curb an otherwise awkward gesture. He endures, because he is in Ebeny's space and it's only fair that he allow her some modicum of being in his. It's not an intimate touch, it makes sense given their positioning, and so Ila'den allows what he would usually find a very gentle way to prevent: contact. But then it doesn't matter, because his attention is focused on Ebeny for the duration of her explanation before he gains his feet, retrieves his shirt, and hands it over. There's a soft noise in his throat - agreement, or polite interest - and then Ila'den is bending down to retrieve his leathers and make with abandoning pillows so that he can pull them on - slowly, with a grunt of pain and another wince every time he moves just right. "Ebeny," he says then, softly for as much of a growl his voice permanently exhibits. "It's a pretty name." And there's a moment of debate, a hesitation as if he's gauging whether or not he wants to reveal something personal to her before he says, "Will you play and sing for me sometime? When we are not in need of a healer, of course." He can't curb her guilt, but it doesn't mean he won't try to distract her from it.

"Maybe one monster recognises another." It's not a joke, Ebeny's words delivered calmly and surely, and still it's not meant to be a slight either, as readily as she accepts what facet of herself she acknowledges with them. Carefully, she gets to her feet, offering Ila'den's shirt to him as she begins her own search for clothing, finding first a boot, then her trousers, only to find her blouse hiding just beneath the bed, leading her to hook it out with one foot and awkwardly attempt to flip it up into the air to avoid bending down. Lucky for her, it works, even though she discovers buttons missing from said blouse and so goes hunting for her jacket to preserve her modesty once she steps outside. She's not a petite woman by any means, yet she moves with the easy grace of one who's finally grown into their frame (when not trying to flip articles of clothing into the air), even if it's taken nearly four decades, layers of garments reapplied until she's managed to get everything but her socks and boots back into place. "If you'd like me to," she promises, retreating to the bed to gingerly sit down and consider how best to manoeuvre into footwear with the least pain. "If there's anything in particular you'd like to hear, let me know? Otherwise I might end up testing new pieces on you." She colours a little then, shooting him the beginnings of a rueful smile. One hopes she has more confidence when doing the actual singing and playing.

"Maybe," Ila'den says softly, eye observant. "But I have grown up with monsters, Ebeny, and you are not a monster." Whatever that means. It's vague, and Ila'den shows no inclination towards elaborating on just what kind of monstrosities he bore witness to in his youth; in his current years, to warrant the loss of an eye and a slight limp to his gait that denotes an old injury that never healed correctly. But while Ebeny works, so does Ila'den, finding all of his own clothing without having buttons missing from clothing. That would be because his clothes do not harbor them, though there are rips in the seams of fabric that Ila'den eyes with muted amusement before he pulls them on in layers. Ebeny's voice draws Ila'den's attention back to the woman, and there's a gruff, "I would like that," before he notes her hesitation and moves without so much as a moment's consideration for the pain it's going to cost him to help her. He's gathering her socks and her boots in his hands, another grunt escaping as he moves to kneel on the ground before her and carefully threads his fingers through her socks to where toes go, holding the fabric open so that she has to do little else but make her toes angle to receive the fabric. "And you are welcome to practice your new songs on me. My daughter is a harper - or, well. She was. Now she is a dragonrider, but I always did enjoy listening to her play and sing." He's not going to tease her about her hesitation, though that grey eye does flicker up before he drops it back to her feet with husky laughter. "I promise not to laugh if it's terrible. Or tell you that it's terrible." Okay, so he'll tease her a little bit, but it's good natured.

"No, you—" Ebeny starts to protest, only to reach the conclusion that it will likely cause Ila'den less pain for her to simply comply as quickly as possible rather than fight the help he's offering. Obediently, she slips her feet into her proffered socks and then into her boots, thanks murmured under her breath, though she's unable to speak without a measure of amused frustration colouring her words, leeching none of the warmth from them. "If you think anything I play for you is terrible, you have to submit it in writing. That's the rule." She thinks nothing of teasing in turn, nor of touching a shoulder again as she insists, "Here, sit down. We share pain equally. That's also the rule." Or it's one that she's just instituted, but she's not to be deterred, waiting patiently with the expectation that he'll do as she says - whether he will or not - before she gathers up his own socks and footwear with the intention of doing exactly as he's done for her. "I don't care what anyone else thinks," she says softly, focused on the task at hand. "Or what you think they think. Or want them to think. You're not scary. Or crazy. I won't tell anyone, but I think you're actually very sweet. You can laugh about that later, if you like, but I'm not changing my mind."

"Yes, I do," Ila'den answers when Ebeny starts to protest, and there's a conviction in his words, a tone of voice on raspy, husky growls that leaves no room for argument. Not that Ebeny was of a mind to argue, given that she's complying in an effort to spare him more discomfort or pain (and sparing him the trouble of giving her a disapproving look while silently waiting for her to draw that conclusion herself as opposed to having a discussion about it). There's husky laughter for her counter teasing, and a softly spoken, "I don't play by the rules, Ebeny. I will tell you to your face, and risk another rib or three for my trouble." A wolfish grin, a hint of humor even as he tenses under her touch and those shoulders roll in an effort to be still. That brow arches up at her insistence of help, and for a very long moment, it seems as if Ila'den is not going to allow her. But he does, in the end, though it is against his better judgement. "We are letting the healers treat you first, little bird," he tells her, accommodating the shift of places and the accompaniment to sock and boot his feet. "And if you argue with me, I will throw you over my shoulder, and we will both regret you saying no." SO DON'T ARGUE WITH HIM. He means it too, if the smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes in threat is anything to go by. But he does laugh - at the mention of him being sweet, and not scary, and not crazy. He reaches out to still her hands, and then leans down to finish up the work himself, standing with effort so that he can help her to her feet. "I am sure you will find many who disagree with you, so never say never. You just might change your mind in the future. Come, you can lean on me if it's too much." And he will wait, to lend her his arm, or to walk a half step behind her with an arm extended towards her middle back without touching — just in case she needs the support but is much too stubborn to accept it. Off to the healers with them!

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