Back and Forth

Who: Arlet, Rori, Akanyth, Inaskashath
When: Month 12, 202 AT
Where: Baths, Honshu Weyrhold
What: In which things get slightly less confused for some, more so for others.

Between shadowing various wings and practising a range of the duties that she’ll be expected to perform as a rider, Arlet manages to avoid directly talking to Rori for a whole ten days. It’s also a whole ten days of tension between her and Akanyth, who manages to hang onto the fact that she’s sold him out and revealed the feelings he can barely stand, and does a good job of trying to forget by chasing every female he can find – and winning every other time or so. The wake of the latest of those successful flights finds her in Honshu’s baths, scrubbing herself from head to toe to restore some equilibrium in shedding any lingering physical reminders of the time spent in a strange bed with a stranger.

Inaskashath has taken the information of Akanyth’s love as nothing more than misconstrued affection – he doesn’t love //her//, he’s wishing for a gold to rise so he can catch her like he catches all of those greens. She’s kept her mental ribbons and steel at bay, avoiding the brown at all costs – and so, Rori has been avoiding Arlet. The duties that have slowly been coming her way are taking up more and more of Rori’s time, giving her antisocial tendencies an excuse for not noticing Arlet’s distance. Their friendship (relationship? Rori never knew how to frame it in her mind) was always rout with confused space. Rori doesn’t know how to maintain normal friendships – she’s always been a loner. She makes her way into the baths without thought, her towel already tucked about her body as she nears the steam of the baths. She’s shed the towel and is dipping a toe in when she recognizes Arlet in the baths. Her pause is only for a count of ten before she strides into the warmth she was awaiting her. “Hello,” she offers to Arlet, an olive branch – a hopeful glance before she submerges beneath the warmth of the baths to wet her hair.

Rori’s voice makes Arlet turn from the side of the pool, a startled look lighting her features just as she sinks down all the more into the water and brings her hair forward to in an attempt to cover her shoulders and collarbone. She’s never really been bothered about anyone seeing her unclothed as far as bathing goes, yet now she claps her hair to her as if it were a robe and keeps her arms crossed over her chest, her chin level with the water’s surface. Arlet remains silent until Rori pops back up again, more pale than blushing when she catches sight of her again, jaw clenched and gaze just a little too focused. “Hello,” she murmurs, forcing the word out as she backs herself into the side of the pool and props herself there, giving the distance between them unnatural attention.

Rori has grown used to the Weyrhold’s lack of focus on nudity, having no reason to feel ashamed of her own skin, she’s never shied away from bathing in public view. Arlet’s reaction gives her pause, that distance reinforced by Arlet’s physically moving further away. Her face betrays her feelings before she can try to pretend she’s not hurt – it flashes across her face as she turns to collect soap for her hair. She’s focused on washing her hair, allowing for silence to fall between them. It’s only after her hair has been washed and rinsed that she looks to Arlet once more, subtly checking to see if the brownrider has moved at all from her location. She makes no move to hide her own nakedness, her hands are loose at her sides as she finds a seat to settle on.

It’s amazing just how still Arlet can go for so long when it suits her, her gaze averted just enough to ensure that it doesn’t look like she’s watching Rori or staring at her in any way that might be construed as intrusive or inappropriate. When she realises that Rori is looking at her, she darts a quick glance her way, then closes her eyes and tries to loosen her shoulders, the motion creating ripples across the surface of the water. “…Do you know how to check if something is broken?” she finally asks, her voice not as steady as she would wish it to be. She lets her eyes lose focus and stares out across the pool, unseeing, her head tilted slightly as she waits for a response she may or may not want.

Rori’s brows lift up in surprise and then she’s shifting on her seat, her own set of ripples moving out as she inches forward towards Arlet. She stops herself from moving too far, reminding herself to settle down and remain seated. “No,” she states with a shake of her head, “I don’t know, other than the obvious… pain that you’d expect from a break. Are you hurt?” she asks, the upswing of her question noting her concern even more. It’s the way Arlet keeps staring off, that glazed look, that finally has Rori breaking her own rules as she swims across the pool to be nearer to Arlet. “What happened?” she asks, moving to rest a hand on Arlet’s shoulder.

“Someone wasn’t happy that Akanyth won,” Arlet murmurs, trying not to flinch as Rori touches her shoulder. “It’s… hazy. I just know that someone grabbed me and shoved me into the wall before they were stopped.” She can still move both arms, but as she inches a little above the water and draws her hair back it becomes clear that that shoving was face first, her collarbone and one side of her neck a mess of grazing and bruising that lies particularly dark and angry on her right. “The pain went away,” because she won, “but it won’t stay away.” Even trying to shrug her left shoulder makes her wince. “I’m clean,” she insists, in-case Rori should get any nearer. “I managed that much.”

Rori’s face registers her shock, the color draining out of her flushed cheeks as she takes in the damage to Arlet’s body. “They’ll be punished,” her voice is hard and sure, the push of Inaskashath’s mind drawing further words out from Rori, “We’ll make sure of it. This is unacceptable.” Rori reaches forward to draw Arlet’s hair further back, tenderly inspecting the wounds that had drawn such vivid rage forward. “Even if you were dirty, Arlet, I’d be concerned. Don’t say things like that,” she carefully braids Arlet’s hair and tucks it to the other side of her body. “I’m taking you to the healer when you’re done soaking.” She takes a breath and moves her finger to inspect more of Arlet’s face, gentle movements meant to gauge for further damage, and also to reassure herself with touch that Arlet is there in front of her. “Bastards,” she snarls out, low and hot, “filthy, uncontrolled, bastards.”

“He’s arrogant and smug and insufferable when he wins. One of us had it coming.” Arlet closes her eyes again and submits to Rori’s exploration of her injuries, still doing her very best not to flinch or let the pain show on her face, her acceptance of the fact that she’s likely taken the beating meant for her brown complete and without regret. She favours her with a somewhat lopsided smirk, declaring, “It’s nice to know that you can break out the language occasionally,” in a low drawl. “It’s not a bad colour on you. Remind me to get myself into some slightly less catastrophic trouble again in future.” True laughter seems to hurt, the attempt abandoned after only a huff of sound, her focus swimming clear as Rori’s inspection shifts course. She could blame the pain or her nearness, or simply the fact that she //cares// enough to be angry, or none of it at all when she dips her head the tiniest bit to brush her lips against one corner of Rori’s own.

Rori looks momentarily abashed at the mention of her cursing, her eyes moving to look down as her lips twitch in an attempt to hold back an embarrassed smile. “Well,” she mutters, shrugging and then shaking her head. “When someone is one,” she now can’t say the word, “they should be called it. Inaskashath is going to find out who the dragonrider was, you realize, so if this happened outside of our Weyrhold can you please let me know? I’ll do my best to calm her down.” She admits with a small sigh, “I can’t say I’m ever that good at helping her when she’s upset.” It may be that her dragon’s overreactions are often envied by her quieter rider, who struggles to allow herself to feel more than embarrassment or shyness. She’s angling her face back up to look at Arlet when the brownrider’s lips brush against her own. “Oh my,” she breathes out, completely taken aback as she looks at Arlet in surprise. “That… was a weird thing to say,” she mumbles, a bright red flush moving up from her chest to her cheeks. “I.. well, um. I’m sorry if I was bad at it,” she blurts out.

Arlet closes her eyes again and lets her head drop back against the edge of the pool, sighing softly. “…I shouldn’t have… We talk about stealing agency and flights, and someone takes mine, then I take yours.” She gives a tiny shake of her head. “I’m sorry.” It’s easier to focus on exactly who left her in her current state, not that she seems able to supply very detailed answers. “We were at Telgar,” she murmurs. “They hate us. Honshu, I mean, not specifically me and Akanyth. That should’ve been warning enough not to chase, but he wanted to… forget.” No more than that is offered on that particular score. “I didn’t see who it was, but I know it was a man. Might have had bronze knots, or very pale brown. Either way, they won’t punish one of their own for hurting a Honshu rider. They’ve probably given him some sort of award and two weeks off.”

“What was taken?” Rori asks, confused as her fingers drift up to touch at her lips, “My agency? You’re being dramatic,” she declares, suddenly clearing confusion aside and looking at Arlet with a frustrated sigh. “You’re so quick with this back and forth. It’s the same with Akanyth and Inaskashath. Do you want to kiss me? Or is it him?” She folds her arms in front of her and moves to lean back beside Arlet, looking out at the ripples of water that her movements make. “Between her and him and you, I can’t keep any of my own feelings straight.” She looks aside at Arlet, “I’m going to Telgar and I’m going to get the stupid rider punished. It’s unacceptable. Now,” her anger over Arlet’s injury gives her voice purchase as she demands, “And if you want to kiss me, will you just get on with it and kiss me? I don’t know what it’s like and I’m not entirely sure that //was// a kiss, but if we’re going to sit in here and be naked together and almost do it- we might as well give it a go!” Inaskashath’s anger is a tangle of woven fibers as she shoves her awareness at Akanyth, pushed away from Rori so that her rider can have the space she needs to calm herself. << Tell me who did it to Arlet >> she demands, the steel of her hatchet being sharpened on a rock. << And we will do something about it >>

“It’s nothing to do with him,” Arlet declares without hesitation, her irritation with her lifemate plain in the darker edge to her voice. “But that’s what I’m worried about. That you don’t know your own feelings and you’re going to make a mistake.” Irritated and upset and hurting enough to snap back, she abandons logical argument and barks, “Maybe I want //you// to kiss //me//.” She makes to fold her arms again, but finds it too painful to go through with now, and so is left leaning there sporting a scowl, her arms hanging loosely at her sides. It’s getting harder for Akanyth to resist Inaskashath’s wishes as she grows, owing in part to her colour and partly because she has that much sway over him because of his despicable feelings, but he still manages to dig his heels in for a moment, a writhing creature of shadow as he tells her, << No, >> in no uncertain terms. Whether it’s worse that it’s the truth or worse that she gets it out of him, a despairing, distant howl follows, << I don’t know! >>

“If you’re leaving it up to me to kiss you, that’s unfair! I don’t know how to kiss!” Rori’s voice has risen even higher in pitch, her body tensing as she shifts from her seat to look into Arlet’s face. “I’m not one of those girls who went around trying it on, you know!” And then, before her indecision and her nerves can get the best of her, she leans in close to Arlet. Her eyes close as she tips forward, her lips a little too wet, and her press of them against Arlet weak as she tries to gauge the feel of it. Then, suddenly, it’s as if a spark has been lit and her arms move to wrap around Arlet as she draws her nearer, those lips parting slightly, her kiss deepening. Inaskashath’s blade is sharp – sharp enough to //make// the truth come out. It’s his despairing howl that has her steadying the blade as she lifts it up, prepared to sever the shadows to get her way. She drops it and lets the steel fade back into the tangle of ribbons. << We can’t let her get hurt like that, Akanyth. It is not fair. You should not go to the Weyr’s that are vengeful. >> There’s the weight of a gold’s touch in that ‘should not’ but her will is not overpowering his.

Indignation joins upset as Arlet’s eyes widen and she starts to blurt out, “Neither am—“ only to be silenced when she finds that she gets what she wants and Rori’s lips meet hers. She waits for long enough to try and gauge whether she believes it’s actually what the goldrider wants too, giving her time to change her mind or decide that she doesn’t want anything more than that first press of her lips to hers, yet, once it’s clear that she isn’t going to bolt and doesn’t have immediate misgivings, she yields and lets Rori have what she wishes of her for the span of several seconds before she settles her hands at her hips and makes it quite plain that she has no interest in ceasing to kiss her any time soon. //That// just makes it so much worse for Akanyth, howl shifting into a roar of defiance as Inaskashath threatens to make him comply and get her own way, fighting against his own desires to submit as her rider does to hers. << I made her do nothing. She wants to forget. It’s //your fault//. >> He flinches not in accusing her. << You and your bronzes and your eggs. Always theirs. There’s no truth to you but biological imperative. >>

Rori understands now what it is to be lost in the sensations of her body as she melts against Arlet, needing to press against her as they kiss to hold her above the water and steady her suddenly weak legs. She’s breathing, she must be, but her head is light and all she can do is kiss and be kissed. Her hands don’t know where to go, until they wrap around Arlet’s shoulders for balance and the sudden //rightness// of being there. Arlet may kiss her as long as she likes, Rori has no desire to stop now that they have finally started. She’s wanted this – it’s true, some part of her longed for this, with someone, with //Arlet//. “You’re perfect,” she murmurs between kisses. Inaskashath’s roar of anger is a whip of wind and a slap of her ribbons against Akanyth’s mind. << You dare to say I am nothing but an egg-layer! Amorenth would destroy you if she heard such words. Other colors catch besides bronzes! >> she snarls at him, << When will you realize that? >>

Arlet is left with the quite the conundrum. She has no desire to surrender Rori to anything or anyone, but even as their kisses manage to dull her pain to a low, faintly irritating murmur, her arms refuse to comply in going around her, leaving her only to tighten her hold on her middle just to stop her from thinking that she wants any distance between them. There’s the roar of Akanyth’s fury at her ‘betrayal’ to contend with too, yet the press of Rori’s body to hers drowns much of him out; so much so that she starts to edge her lips along her jaw and down her neck, hands still mobile enough that they start to stray – if only for a moment. She stops herself, declaring, “I’m not,” with low, self-deprecating humour, resting her forehead against hers as she pauses for breath. “Can’t you just take me to bed instead of the infirmary?” Why she blushes, who knows. “I don’t mean… I just mean to sleep. Be warm. Safe.” Akanyth’s howling twists to an awful brand of maniacal laughter, the threat of their dam meaningless to him. << She is not //my// queen, >> he states unflinchingly. << I don’t want you for //catching//. But they do. They will. >> It’s there now, the lot of it, and so the shadows fall to cover his retreat, his recent victory now tainted by //feelings//.

Rori’s body tenses at Arlet’s wandering hands, her immediate reaction diving her towards uncertainty – even as her body tugs her for //more//. She lets a sound escape her that is almost a squeak as the breath she pulls in is sharp enough to whistle at the idea of ‘taking Arlet to bed’. She doesn’t mean to look relieved when Arlet clarifies, but she is as she relaxes her body into the warmth of the water. “We will do both,” she tells Arlet, moving to brush her fingers with a wondering look across Arlet’s cheek. “Infirmary and then I’ll take you home with me,” Rori’s innocence with that statement is clear she doesn’t quite grasp how others may interpret that. Even with the potential gossip, it is Rori who escorts the bruised Arlet to the infirmary to get looked over and handed medicines to ease the discomfort of her ‘battle wounds’. And Rori walks her up to her weyr, where the lavish quarters are kept neat and minimalistic with their decorations. She happens to have a small kitchen and a store of food at home, so it’s easy enough for Rori to prepare them a simple meal before she drapes Arlet in one of her most comfortable silken dresses for sleep and tucks her into her bed. If more kisses happen, Rori isn’t going to complain, though eventually conversation (and kissing) will cease when sleep is needed. She curves herself around Arlet, nuzzling herself into the warmth offered by the brownrider.

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