Your Choice

Who: Zinovia, Akemi, Yukijiath, Maozheth
When: Month 8, 201 AT
Where: Stables, Honshu Weyrhold
What: Zinovia tells Akemi what went on with C’aol.

Maozheth has spent the majority of his free day down at the lake, splashing in the cold waters and taunting the dragons who are attempting to bask in the sunshine on the winter day. Akemi’s watched him for a spell and then left after he slipped up behind her and dripped a torrent of water all over her. Warmed up from the baths and dressed in clothes fit for a stable, Akemi takes herself down to the stableyard at Honshu to greet her two horses. She offers an apple to Old Man and a carrot to Two, taking each out in turn to brush them down. It’s a solitary affair, grooming a runner, and she idly hums to herself as she works. Time passes and she’s neary done brushing out Two’s long tail. “Should I give you braids like I wear now?” she asks the mare with a friendly thump to her side. She fetches a tie from her back pocket and begins to braid the mare’s tail. “What a sight you’ll be. Like some pony from the fair and not a working runner,” she snorts and grins at Old Man. “Shall I paint your fetlocks pink?”

Wherever Yukijiath has been, she’s been near silent and distant, hiding herself away from any that might seek her out, her mental presence shrouded in clouds of heavy smoke. Hours have passed since Zinovia’s encounter with C’aol, and only recently has she dragged herself from the scene of the whole affair and off to the baths to clean it off of her and check herself over for any marks the Weyrsecond might have left behind. Phoenix has been unwilling to leave her, irritating some of the other bathers and now residing on her shoulder, the little gold the one to seek an image from Maozheth as to where Akemi is. Wearily, Zinovia trudges her way down to the stables, reluctant and hurting, though unwilling to conceal the matter from her. It’s unfortunate that just the sight of Akemi almost brings her to tears as she stops a little way from her and the horses. “Hi.”

By the time Zinovia has arrived, Two’s tail has been braided in three even plaits and Akemi has begun working on the draft horse’s mane. She has to stand on a stool to reach that high up, but the animal is placid and her head is drooping as she drowses from the attention. Akemi looks up at Zinovia’s greeting and instantly registers the upset on the greenrider’s face. She hops down from the stool and makes her way over to her, closing the distance swiftly. “What’s happened?” she asks, concern puckering her brow and gilding her eyes as she reaches for Zinovia’s hand. Old Man wickers from his stall, pawing at the wooden door to demand attention from the greenrider. Two doesn’t move. Maozheth reaches towards Yukijiath, pushing his sparks against that heavy smoke. << Tell me >> he states, winging his way into the skies to search her out.

<< No. >> It might be the first time that Yukijiath has denied Maozheth anything, yet though she flatly refuses to share what’s upset her, she at least lets him know where she’s hidden herself, her hiding place down on the Weyrhold’s farmland and just at the edge of a line of trees. Likewise, it may be the first time that Zinovia has flinched away from Akemi, slowly curling her fingers back and just out of reach, inching back into her own space while she guiltily pretends she doesn’t notice Old Man’s request for attention. “I don’t… think you’re going to want to touch me for a long time,” she quietly explains, ducking her head. “…I was trying to get C’aol to relinquish any claim to raising the children and… and he did, but I made him angry and I couldn’t stop and I thought… It could never be worse than when he’s angry, right? I just couldn’t back down, so I let him… So we… He had me.” She lets out a tearful note of awful laughter. “It wasn’t a romantic thing. He didn’t kiss me or take off my dress. But it happened.”

Maozheth wings his way to Yukijiath’s side, dropping himself down against the edge of the rows of plowed ground waiting for spring planting. He makes his lumbering approach on foot to the green’s side and hunkers beside her. He’s radiating sparks and flying bits of fire, his smoke curling around her own smoke as he takes in Akemi’s rage. He takes it and burns it for Yukijiath. It’s only with her blue’s support that Akemi is able to find the ability to breathe again after Zinovia’s news has settled on her shoulders. It comes out as a gasp as her hand moves away from Zinovia’s and she takes involuntary steps back towards the warmth of an old mare’s side. She rests her hand on Two’s shoulder, staring at her feet lest her face betray the rage and hurt that flies across it. Once she’s managed to push the majority of her feelings into her blue’s care, she lifts her eyes to meet Zinovia’s. It’s a calm gaze that settles on her future wife. “I love you,” she tells her, “I will never use you like that…,” her lip curls, a snarl shared with her blue as he huffs at Yukijiath’s side and claws at the earth with his talons. “Bastard.”

Yukijiath has settled herself into some odd and distant mental space where she’s gone too deeply inside herself to notice much of the world around her, letting fire and sparks rip through smoke and the far off fizz of champagne without feeling much of what Maozheth does. Whether her silence and retreat into the absolute blackness at the centre of her being heralds repressed anger or a sadness too deep to fathom remains unclear, her stillness akin to their dam’s. Zinovia too takes steps back, hers deliberate and accepting, hands folding together before her. “I love you too,” she says softly, “which is why I don’t expect you to pretend what happened was okay. I needed to know what it was going to be like. It wasn’t… horrendous, but it wasn’t pleasant either.” She gives an awkward shrug, Phoenix pressing more firmly against her. “He took off his belt and I thought he was going to hit me.” Her huff of sound isn’t quite laughter. “I almost said thank you, afterwards, you know? Thank you for not hitting me.” Lifting a hand, she presses it to her mouth as if she could make herself stop talking. “I… I’ll sleep in the barracks tonight. I don’t… It would be wrong for me to be in our bed, after that.”

Maozheth does not reign in his raging fireworks and flames, letting it rip through what stillness it can of Yukijiath’s. He curls himself around her, his tail-tip betraying his internal battle as it tap-tap-taps against the ground. Akemi’s gaze is devoid of feeling when she locks it on Zinovia, having successfully pushed all her emotions at her blue to deal with. Even mention of the belt and hitting does not register a flicker on Akemi’s face. She listens intently, offering her support in her silence. “You will not be sleeping in the barracks,” Akemi declares, not moving to grab on to Zinovia for fear her movement might make the greenrider bolt. “You will be coming home to me and sleeping in our bed. This is an aspect of your life I don’t have control over – nor say, but I won’t push you away from my side for the decisions you make. It’s your body. Your choice.” She turns from Zinovia then, pressing her face against her mare’s neck to breathe in the comfort offered by the familiar smell of one of her longest companions.

Yukijiath seems to deflate when Maozheth curls himself around her, sinking further towards the ground and against him, perhaps hoping for one or the other of them to absorb and hide her away completely. She sets her head down on her paws and exhales an audible sigh, closing her eyes to conceal the flickering yellow of their facets just as Zinovia utters, “I wish it wasn’t my body. I can map out each and every bit of it and tell you how it works – or how it should work – and right now I hate it. I wish Yukijiath would turn me inside out like she does with her prey.” Ducking her head, she angles her gaze towards her feet and closes her eyes. “Maybe you were right about making a deal with him. Maybe it was a bad call.” Her sigh echoes Yukijiath’s. “But then, it would be selfish to think that I could have everything I want without continuing to pay for it.” Opening her eyes again, she looks right at Akemi and tells her, “I’m sorry. I’ll always be sorry.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Akemi tells her honestly, moving away from Two and finally going to close the distance between them. Her arms move up and she gathers Zinovia against her body, hugging her close. “So I’m not going to say anything.” She tucks herself against Zinovia, holding her until Zinovia may want to push out of her arms – and even then, she’s locked on. Maozheth is trembling beside Yukijiath, completely worn out from taking on all his rider’s emotions and trying to make sense of the jumble of human feelings tossed his way. He extends his wing over Yukijiath and curves his nose around her. He won’t move from her side until their rider’s come and fetch them.

Zinovia winds her arms around Akemi’s waist and tucks her face in against her neck, the snuffling sound she makes moments later giving away the tears she’s tried to conceal. She doesn’t try to move away, not until a dull ache registers in her legs and she vaguely remembers that there is a world beyond the embrace she seeks to maintain, parting from her only when it becomes a matter of necessity. Silence, she can deal with. In-fact, she doesn’t manage another word for the rest of the day, not even to Yukijiath, who she apologetically curls herself in against once they all return home. No matter what Akemi has told her, she spends a few moments staring listlessly at their bed when sleep calls, fists curling and uncurling like she might dart off and away, clambering in only once Akemi has. Exhausted, she’s asleep almost immediately, holding onto her as though afraid she’s going to lose her.

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