A Life Worth Having

A Life Worth Having

Who: Nala and Rori
When: Month 11, 204 AT
Where: Rori’s Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: Nala brings home a canine for help with her PTSD and protection. Discussion of what led to the necessity leads to other decisions.

The first trip that Nala takes outside Fort (and before the Healers have completely cleared her for Between) keeps her out of the Weyr for much of the afternoon, though Jynth is once again a presence on Inaskashath’s ledge by the time that the day begins to dip towards evening. Inside Rori’s weyr, it’s quiet, or it would be completely silent were it not for the soft humming that drifts from before the hearth, the sound undoubtedly coming from Nala despite the bluerider never having once seemed to be inclined towards anything so frivolous as music. Draped across her lap – or rather, draped across most of her – lies a large canine with wolf-ish features in shades of white and silver, the creature lulled by the motion of her hand through its fur and the idle lullaby she provides. It would appear that the canine is mostly grown, only retaining hints of having recently shed puppyhood, docile in manner at present, if not seeming in form.

Rori hasn’t had time to worry about Nala’s absence outside of Fort, though Inaskashath’s steady hum in her brain has kept her aware that the bluerider and her dragon are well in their absence. She’s been focused on handling a distressed Headwoman over a failed shipment of expected vegetables, with a Steward put-upon by C’aol’s latest decisions for hiring, and from the steady tutelage she’s given to her older ‘student’ in Isolwyn. She heads into her weyr completely harried from a busy day, the high-heeled shoes she prefers kicked off at the doorway before she strides all the way inside, barefoot and feeling more at ease with each step she takes. Her steps slow as she furrows her brow and considers the //sounds// she’s hearing. She doesn’t take more than a few more steps and a glance up before she beholds Nala and a canine… cuddling. Her confusion parts into a smile as she closes the distance between them. Cautious of disturbing the fluffy, large, creature in Nala’s lap she folds to her knees a careful distance away. Her skirts are tucked beneath her feet as she draws her hands up to her mouth and presses fingers against her smile. “Who is this?” she gushes.

The canine lifts her head at Rori’s approach and tries to subtly shuffle her way towards her without leaving Nala’s lap, though the motion is all too obvious from a creature of her size. After shuffling a few inches, she stops and stretches out towards her, her nose bobbing in the direction of the goldrider’s hands as if she’d seek out pets. “This is Cinder,” Nala answers, running a hand along the length of Cinder’s back, ruffling through greys and whites and silvers. “She is fully trained. Obedient. She has been taught to be observant of her surroundings and to stay close to her owner.” She studies fur rather than Rori as she confesses, “I was hoping you would not mind if she stayed? Part of her role is to be… a comfort. I know it may sound ridiculous. But I do feel there is something in having her around. One of the Healers thought of it. She can be where Jynth cannot.” Her gaze darts up to Rori and away again. “And any purebred puppies she ever has will fetch a good price.”

“Cinder, what a lovely name for a lovely lady,” Rori coos at the dog, brushing her nails through the canines fur. She’s got long enough nails to give her a good scratch and so she rakes them in a massage like gesture along the canine’s cheeks before she releases Cinder’s head and lifts both brows in surprise as she looks to Nala. “Why would I mind? She’s adorable. You say she’s trained. Even if you weren’t, Cinder,” she murmurs to the dog, “I’d let you stay.” She shifts herself so that she tucks her skirts beneath her legs and settles more on her side as her feet hide beneath fabric. “I don’t think it’s ridiculous. Does she attack if you are threatened?” she asks, looking thoughtfully at the canine. “If she does, all the better.” She moves to brush her fingers gently against Nala’s cheek. “She shouldn’t be bred for profit, Nala. We don’t need the money. If you want something and your own finances don’t cover it, I’d be more than happy to pay for something. I’m making a lot more here at Fort than I was at Honshu. We might as well take advantage of it.”

“Her training has largely been in perceiving threatening behaviour and how to behave if someone is attacked or injured,” Nala confirms, letting fingers idly wander back and forth through fur, ruffling it the wrong way and smoothing it back down. “To understand signs of distress, also, though I am told that she will potentially realise it before I even do. She has some hunting skill, if not as secure as the rest of her training.” She tips her head towards Rori’s fingers as they brush against his cheek, her eyes closing for a moment. “I am not going to take your money,” she says quietly, if firmly. “There is nothing that I need. I think it is quite enough that you have looked after me and let me stay here with you without you spending anything further on me.” Lifting her head, she leans forward to gently touch her lips to Rori’s. “As much as anything… I only thought it might be nice to have puppies around one day, as long as they have good homes to go to.”

Rori’s lips are soft and eager for Nala’s kiss, she reaches a hand to hold Nala’s cheek as they kiss, seeking to have it linger before she lets Nala move away. “Puppies sound fun to me,” she’s eager enough to decide that, “Could you imagine little fluffy pups dashing about at our feet?” Her eyes brighten at the idea, “And then we can come home from a long day and see the mess they’ve made. I once watched over a litter of terriers in the barn. They were hysterical! The mischief they would get into,” she clucks her tongue and taps a finger teasingly along Cinder’s nose. “But you won’t be like that will you beautiful? And you’ll keep your pups in line too.” She reaches out to grab one of Nala’s hands, intent on lacing her fingers through hers. “I met with Aerishani the other day,” she finally confesses, looking from Nala’s face to Cinder’s, “To discuss what choices we have… if we were to return to Honshu.” She can’t help the claiming of ‘we’, too naive to see that Nala may not view them that way, or too hopeful that she does. “I made certain if we return to Honshu, as a junior, Jynth would not be barred from Inaskashath’s flights.”

While Cinder licks at Rori’s fingers, Nala surrenders her hand to hers, her grip perhaps a little too tight at first. “…Honshu might not actively prevent Jynth from pursuing Inaskashath… but the Council will still take exception to it, and to Honshu, unless there is change among their ranks. Two Weyrleaders gone – and one at my hand – is a difference, but perhaps not enough to avoid bringing you strife.” She looks down into her lap as Cinder looks up at her and promptly moves to set her head down it. “You have shown that you can lead a Weyr when chaos threatens to overrun it. Would you wish to consign yourself to being a junior when another Weyr might consider positioning you for Senior without the burden of Jynth and myself?” Her free hand smoothes over Cinder’s pointed ears. “…I do not know that I could keep him from chasing her again, save with distance to assist. I… do not know that I would want to prevent him. But your standing and reputation for what Jynth and I want? It is not a fair exchange.”

Rori’s fingers tighten against Nala’s, matching strength for strength as she focuses on Cinder as Nala’s views are shared. “Something has to change,” her voice is hot, “the Council should not dictate how one Weyr chooses to have it’s ranks. We are no longer a people who are bred and trained simply to protect Pern.” Her breath inhales sharply as she looks up at Nala, “Me strife?” she demands, the situation drawing enough anger to fuel her words with sharpness. “You’re the one they nearly killed for Jynth’s winning. And your relationship with me puts you at risk.” She tugs at her hand, meaning to pull free unless held on to. “You’re the one who should walk away from me. For safety.” The mention of a title forces Rori’s lips into a thin line. “I would not choose leading a Weyr over you,” she tells Nala firmly, hurt in her gaze as another conversation with another woman haunts her thoughts. “I’m running Fort because it is my duty to help out. I do not need to maintain Senior status. I would go back to being a weyrling. I would be cast out to live in a cothold without any protection. So long as I have you and Inaskashath? It is a life worth having.”

In another life, the low bark of a noise that Nala makes might be closer to amusement than it truly is, but she cannot quite edge all traces of concern from it. “It might well come to that, you know. Us living in a remote cothold somewhere in the back of beyond.” She sounds much closer to teasing when she finishes than when she began, her hand lifting from Cinder’s fur to gently catch at Rori’s side and bring her close enough that she might touch her lips to her neck. “I will not walk away from you simply because the world would try to have me suffer regret or fear what it will do to me for loving you and for Jynth wanting Inaskashath for his own. If he does not catch her ever again, it does not mean I will turn away from you.” Lifting her head, she noses along the line of her jaw and moves to press her forehead to hers as she declares, “You are mine. I have no expectation of you never finding love for another. To do so would be hypocritical. But you are mine and I am yours for as long as we wish it.”

Rori never resists Nala, pliable as she is, she allows herself to be tucked against the bluerider and utters a soft unintelligible noise as lips find her neck. “I don’t want to move to the back of beyond. How will I buy pretty dresses?” she protests in a light-hearted manner, adding with a sly smile, “or lacey-bits to show you?” She inhales deeply as their foreheads touch, finding herself freed of her anger by the contact with Nala. “Jynth and Inaskashath brought us together,” she agrees, moving her forehead away to kiss Nala’s cheek lightly, “But you’re the one I fell in love with. You helped me when I was hurting and showed me more about myself than anyone else.” She reaches once more for Nala’s hand, moving it to place it against her chest, “You make me feel things, Nala, I never thought I’d feel.” She moves to wrap her arms about Nala’s neck, meaning to tug her into a fierce kiss, wanting words to fall away in place of her body pressing against hers. “I love you,” she murmurs against Nala’s ear when she pulls back to breathe, suddenly realizing her tugging and pulling might disturb Cinder, she gives a concerned glance towards the dog. “Will she fuss if I want to be in your lap?” she asks, pouting slightly as she glances up at Nala, “Because all I want to do now is taste you,” she leans forward to claim her lips again.

With her lips pressed to Rori’s jaw, Nala makes much of looking sidelong at Cinder, who regards the two of them with a placid stare and then nudges her nose at the bluerider’s nearest hand. It earns her a faint quirk of a smile from Nala, who reaches with that hand to run her palm over nose and ears before murmuring, “Go on, girl,” which has the canine lifting to her feet to trot on through to the room in which bed and water have been left for her. “I think now you will have to fight terribly hard for my attention and affection,” Nala utters dryly, her hands finding Rori’s hips to settle her in her lap, arms shifting to loop snugly around her waist once she’s satisfied with how close she is. “I love you too,” she murmurs again her throat. “And when your work is finished here, we will go back to Honshu and Jynth and I will do our best to ensure it is me in your bed and his clutch on the Sands when next Inaskashath flies.” Abruptly, she twists a hand into Rori’s hair and tugs to better bare the curve of her neck, where she touches teeth.

Rori watches Cinder move off with that simple command and purses her lips to deliver a light, appreciative whistle. “You weren’t joking about how well trained she is.” Her admiration of the canine is short lived as she finds herself tugged into Nala’s lap. She settles her arms over shoulders, snuggling herself against Nala with a contented sigh. “It’s not a fight for your attention,” she murmurs as her cheek presses against Nala’s shoulder. “I didn’t want to step out of line with her. She’s your canine for a reason. You just have to tell me how you want me to be with her,” all other thoughts on the canine are tossed aside as Nala’s hand finds her hair and her teeth find her neck. Rori arches her back and shivers in delight at the touch. “If we return to Honshu,” she has the coherence to ask now, before she finds herself too much of a coward again, “will it be too hard on you with Aislara?” She tightens her arms around Nala’s neck and burrows her face briefly against her neck. “We don’t have to talk about it now,” she murmurs, inhaling deeply to bring in that unique smell that is all Nala and all too intoxicating.

“Can you not fight for it just a little bit?” Nala murmurs, teasing until she’s too distracted to and the reality of what she says being not so far from a potential reality hits her, her hand tightening in Rori’s hair. “I have no understanding of what she feels for me any more. Perhaps she has found someone else or taken up with the rider of the brown who won Ryerith last.” She slides both hands back down to cradle Rori against her, pressing her face into her shoulder. “What will be, will be. Whether she wants me as a weyrmate or finds me to be the disappointment that she brands me… It makes you no less my weyrmate too.” Hesitating, she draws back enough that she can look up and into her eyes, her hands settled at the base of her ribcage. “…Is that okay? Do you… Can I call you that?”

“I don’t want to fight for it and make you uncomfortable,” Rori doesn’t quite catch the tease and then carries it over into the conversation that’s lingering around Aislara. “It wouldn’t be fair for me to pressure you to choose,” she reasons, reaching a hand to brush carefully against Nala’s cheek and up to her hair to tuck behind her ear. “Lately, you’ve chosen me. I love having you here with me every day. I love laying beside you at night, knowing I am safe in your arms. I love how you make me feel.” She looks fully into Nala’s gaze as she blinks back a few tears, her smile bright and happy. “If you want to call me your weyrmate, you can. I’ve never considered the fact someone might want more than one. But it’d make me feel very happy to call you mine.” She takes her other hand to gently capture Nala’s face, holding her gaze, “I’m not the sort of woman who will seek another, Nala. I need you to know that you come first. And you’ll be my only. I do not expect the same from you. But if you’re to be my weyrmate, you should know, I will treat you as my wife.” She leans forward and captures Nala’s lips, her sweet intensity a promise of it’s own.

Nala’s hands shift, her arms tightening around Rori’s middle as she kisses her, pressing her close enough that she carefully adjusts her weight and lies back on the floor, tugging her down on top of her. “If you will treat me as a wife, then I should and will get you a ring,” she says softly, ghosting kisses down a path to her collarbone. “And a cothold that is not in the back of beyond. By the ocean. That is ours to escape to.” She touches her lips to Rori’s jaw before claiming a deeper kiss of her own, one that has her drawing back while she can still resist the urge to roll her beneath her. “I love you. No matter what happens here or when we return to Honshu, that will not change. You are mine and I will protect you from anyone who tries to hurt you for our choices.” Despite her sincerity, she manages to smirk as she tells her, “And this time I will give you the choice of whether I disrobe you here or in your bedroom.”

Rori doesn’t stop the happy tears that escape, a wet-throaty-laugh and a sniffle following her as she wipes briefly at her eyes. “I didn’t think I’d cry when I was this happy,” she sniffles again, “but here I am blubbering. A ring? A weyrmate. A //wife//.” She grabs hold of Nala as she settles on top of her, her fingers digging into the bluerider’s shoulders as her lips trace all her favorite places to be touched. “The ocean,” she agrees, “and a cothold. One with big windows so we can see everything. And a large kitchen. I’m going to make you fat with all my cooking, you’ll see.” She laughs at Nala’s smirk and frees herself from her, rising to her feet and offering a hand to Nala. Her eyes are wide and her smile wider yet. “My bedroom,” she tells her, gathering a fistful of her skirts up as she walks them towards her room. She closes the door behind them out of habit, though the only soul who could bother them would be Cinder. She allows herself to be disrobed, loved, and cherished – and she does everything she can to show Nala the same. She’ll sleep with limbs tangled with Nala, soundly and happy with the way the day turned out.

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