'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.

Fort Weyr - Central Infirmary

This room looks fairly similar to most other infirmaries, with it's faint scent of antiseptic and an eerie quiet that goes along with convalescence. Rows of cots line both walls, each separated by a privacy screen. Breaking the line of cots along the outside wall is a entrance to the dragonhealing section of the infirmary. The far end of the oval room is filled with metal cabinets that hold the tools of the Weyrhealers trade, as well as a desk from which the healer can supervise his domain. Upon one wall rests a thick 'chart' containing the information on all patients within the infirmary.

Edani's restless pacing the back hallways after he lost it with Marimn last night didn't last long. Shirtless and with his taped torso standing out much like a convict in stripes screams ESCAPEE, he didn't even make it back to the resident's cavern and his press to don another tunic before a healer spotted him. This Journeyman healer proved very persuasive and now Edani is back, a reluctant guest of the healercraft, lying on his back and staring at the ceiling, bored out of his mind. It's now been three or four days since he’s been admitted to the infirmary and it’s now late afternoon at the Weyr. There's actually been enough of a lull that the on-duty is back in the supply room doing an inventory check. Most of the cots are empty and it looks like someone has taken Marimn somewhere for her cot is empty.

Luckily, even prisoners get visitors. Like Zap, with a pitcher of klah and a a basket of sweetbuns to share. She swaggers right on in and plops herself down on Edani's cot, using her hip to make room for herself. "Hey, Chubby Chaser," she greets. "Can I fluff a pillow for you?"

"Yow. Hey, watch it, Jailbird!" Edani's grimace doesn't last long though and he shifts over a little to give her room. There's a chair right there but nooooo, they all want to sit on his bed. He doesn't sit up right away, just lifts his head, hauls the flattened pillow out and gives it a study before soberly handing it over. "I'll warn you though, the pay is terrible. I overhead the healers talking about it last night." He's been reduced to eavesdropping for entertainment! How sad. "Tell me you have a cake with a file in it in that basket?"

"That nickname seems more appropriate for you, Wheezy." Zap sets the basket and pitcher nearby and takes the pillow, giving it some vigrous shakes and smacking it more into a round shape. "I was never in it for the marks anyway." She leans forward right across him to hold the pillow where she can slip it in under his head if he lifts it. Strangely, she smells nice. "If I thought a file would help, I'd slip it to you. I might be able to talk them into a wheeled chair though. Or maybe just shoving your cot around the Bowl. We could make a parade of it."

Edani grumbles under his breath. She's got a point there. Probably several hidden ones too. "They don't want me to move," he growls. And yes, he's ignoring her newest nickname for him. He's got nowhere to go - not that he'd want to, really - when she leans across him. It does take him by surprise though (blame it on the lingering fellis) so for a moment he just blinks at her, then lifts his head so she can slip the pillow underneath it. He's got a lazy smirk pulling his mouth, appreciating her scent and not trying to hide that. He, on the other hand smells like… medicine and needs a shave. "Thank Faranth the old- the healers haven't thought to fluff my pillows," he murmurs. Because that would just be awkward.

Zapallie has smelled much worse than a few days of unshaved immobilility. "Oh, yes, so awkward. All those saggy tits in your face." She sits back and goes to get a paper cup for klah for the both of them. "Hmm… could always give you a sponge bath," she offers wickedly. But more seriously, "How long are they keeping you?"

Edani smells much better than the normal Eau de Herdbeast he usually wears? He just snorts gentle derision through his nose, unruffled about his complexion. He knows his skin is clear. His lips twitch in amusement. A sponge bath? "Where were you the day I came in?" Very dusty from chasing heifers even and in need of one! "Two more days," he answers starkly while trying not to growl as he admits that they're not letting him out yet. "They want me to lie still." And then of course he's levering himself up on his elbows - gingerly - so he can actually sip the klah and not spill it on that freshly-plumped pillow. "So…" he says oh so casually when he's got his cup, "What exactly did the Weyrleader quiz you about the other night?"

"Jail, sorry," Zap says, without actually sounding sorry about anything. "Well… you know, the offer's good…anytime." Oh, the look she gives him, like he's meat and she wants to eat him. She holds his cup until she's sure it's not going to spill hot klah all over him and then sips her own to buy her time on his question. A casual slump, one leg hooked over her knee. "Oh, you know, the normal stuff. How's the family, are you enjoying this weather, are you a murderer?"

"Oh right." Edani doesn't sound apologetic either. He just levels a look at her for the expression on her face. He's seen her give others that very same one. The look she gets is frankly skeptical. "Riiiight. That was the day after our almost-dinner." He sips, eyes narrowing to watch her speculatively through the steam. Swallowing, he says lightly, "So. Are you a murderer?" Not like he thinks they asked her that and got a yes or well, she wouldn't be in here. "And if so, who did you knock off?"

Zapallie rubs her chin. "Yep, that's me. I'm a murderer. Of bovines and chickens and cute little piggies." She pats her belly and licks her lips grotesquely. After this, she leans across to the basket and rips a sweetroll in half, leaving one part and eating the other with quick, large bites that are probably swallowed half-unchewed. "About that dinner… care for a rematch? I promise to go easy on your ribs when we have dessert."

Edani lowers his cup and gives Zap a long thoughtful look. He's not playing her game. "This would be why Fort's Weyrleader hauled you off to a cell to question you." The healers want him lying still, so he downs the rest of the klah and sinks back onto his back, never letting his dark eyes leave hers. Ignoring her question about dinner, he asks bluntly, "How do you know Laris?" Somber and for a reason, though not for what most might assume.

Zapallie waves off his assertion. "The Weyrleader hauled me off because he's a bully with a hot temper who sees smoke and assumes there is fire." She rests her arms on her knees and leans forward. "Not that it's a lick of your business, but I traveled with him for a few Turns after I ran away from home."

Edani continues to hold Zapallie's eyes if she doesn't look away first. "It's my business when he pins me with being a possible accessory to whatever you've been involved in because I was sitting with you," he says firmly. "And in all fairness, Th'ero has the entire Weyr and it's coverage areas to protect. I'd hardly call him a bully for responding to your needling." All said with deceptive mildness, though the look in his brown eyes is hard. The expression only softens when she mentions running away from home. "You were quite young then, I take it?"

"I can't be the first needler he's met," she says. "He's fucking one." Zap, however, has a moment of maturity. "I'm sorry you got picked up. I didn't think he'd do that to you. It wasn't like we came in together." Awkwardly she picks at some dirt under a fingernail. "I left the day I turned 16."

Edani gives Zapallia a stony look. For a long span there is silence from him. Then evenly, "I've never seen Kimmila to be anything but professional and polite to him or anyone else unless they jabbed first. Which-" He makes sure she's looking at him, even if he has to dip his head to catch her eyes, "-wouldn't surprise me if you two clashed. She has a backbone." He lets out a long breath then, reaching for her forearm to give it a gentle squeeze if he can. "I was mostly worried about you," he admits quietly and forthrightly. Yeah, bantering flirtation is fun, but he's serious right now. "Sixteen is young. Will you tell me, Zapallie, why you needed to run away?"

Zapallie grins. "I like her," she admits with a shrug, not affected by his stony look. "You ever try to not take yourself so seriously?" She exhales and gives him a pained look. "Why do you have to be so…" she trails off. "Look. Don't worry about me, okay? I'm not staying. My ma will show up and lecture me about what a fucking disappointment I am. If my pa could stop knocking women up for two seconds, he'd probably say the same thing." She presses her lips together. "I ran away because I knew I wouldn't be missed, alright? I was just a problem to everyone and they always made it clear that they'd rather see me anywhere else. Now, if you're done making me bleat like some poor pathetic lamb…"

Somehow this doesn't surprise Edani, the admission about Kimmila. He gives her a knowing smile. "We're not talking about me, but the answer is not very often, if you really want to know." He doesn't sound worried about her opinion in the least, though he does grin wolfishly at her unfinished statement, "Why do I have to be so what?" Though he lifts his forefinger stalling her answer while he listens to her. "Yeah, stop bleating, please." He rolls his eyes in an exaggerated pretense of disgust. "Tell you what. I'll quit being so concerned if you stop pretending to be so tough. Because I know you aren't."

Zapallie bristles at him, her cold eyes growing colder. "What the heck do you know about me being tough, anyway?" Seems she's not caught on to bantery flirting. Nobody flirts /back/ with Zap, hence her confusion. He's the one who wanted to be serious, though, and serious Zap is mostly just angry and defensive. "You tell me the last time your life was hard."

"When a flood tore through my cothold and carried away my da, my mum and my two baby sisters," Edani shoots back without missing a beat. "When I searched for weeks through the tumbled wreckage pulling bloated bodies from what was left of neighboring cotholds all the way to the Western Sea just so I could identify my kin." It all is said in a tightly-controlled way, his eyes gone hard as marbles while holding hers. It's not anger at her, it's something else entirely. He isn't so cool though. His hand rakes through his hair, leaving it in spiked disarray as he takes a deep breath - or tries to and is brought up short with a sharp pain that makes him wince. About her he points out, "No one just runs away from home to make it better for those left behind unless they truly cared for them, are hurt by them or both." And before she can go there, he adds, "And no, I don't pity you. But you don't have to pretend you don't care that no one cares."

Zapallie presses her lips together. "I'm sorry," she says finally. And that's all she has to say. She stares across the infirmary, expression blank. "I'm sorry," she says again, more resigned. "Look, um…" but she never follows that up with anything, she just shoves against her knees and rises to her feet. When the going gets hard, Zee gets going.

"Don't be. You couldn't have known. My folks are dead but my sisters are still al-" When she rises to go, he reaches for her wrist if he can snag it, fingers encircling it with a gentle tug to pause her before she flees. If he misses it's just a light brush to her wrist. He speaks lowly, coaxingly, "I've spent the past four turns studying bovines. They're prey animals. I know pain and fear when I see it." He interrupts himself with a quiet chuckle, "Not that I'm saying you're a cow, either. Just. You don't have to agree with me or admit you are hurt or scared. You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. But if you let yourself trust me enough, I will be your friend. If you want to pretend in public that you hate me, you go right ahead." And he grins challengingly. Game on?

Zapallie looks over her shoulder, lips pinched while he holds her wrist. She really can't resist the opportunity, though, when he points out she's not a cow. "Hey, you're the one chasing heifers. You can chase me, too." Smirk. His offer of friendship breaks that small inroad. And this, this actually scares Zap. She's a little wild around the eyes, shifting her weight slowly and subtley into a stance more appropriate to fighting. "I don't have friends, and I don't trust people. /That/ is how you get hurt. I'm doing just fine all on my own."

Edani can't help it. He laughs, smirking right back at her, "Can I? Chasing heifers is dangerous. Here I lay the victim of one." He's watching her stance, notes the pulse racing under his fingertips, can easily see the wildness about her eyes, catch the tension in her vocal timbre. "Yeah, I know, I know," he says soothingly. "You're right. Life is risky though." He releases her wrist, letting his hand drop and his frame relax because his tensed torso hurts. He's frankly skeptical about her claim to being alright but doesn't argue with her. "If you ever get to the place where you don't think you are, I'm here." Why's he gotta be so…? Because this is Edani.

Zapallie gives him a flat look. "Maybe," she finally says, pressing her lips together. "I haven't trusted anyone since I was 8 though. Not sure what makes you think you're so special."

Edani's tone is silky, his grin cheeky, "I'm not sure either. But when I get it figured out, you'll be the first to know?" See, not always so serious! Though he does point out, "I'm not perfect, but I play straight." He shrugs, "It's the way I was raised."

Zapallie thinks about it for a moment, and then she gets that horrid, wicked grin to her face. "Play it straight, do you?" She leans in slowly over him and touches his cheek lightly. Unless he stops her, shoves her away, she leans in to kiss his forehead gently. "Maybe you can answer this one for me. Why in the world do you want to be my friend?"

Edani doesn't shove her away; he's too well-mannered for that. He's honest enough to meet her gaze with an open one that speaks of compassion, acceptance and warmth - nothing more: he's not out to hurt her or lead her on. He allows her lips to touch his forehead but doesn't attempt to reach for her again. He's silent, mulling it over then answers frankly, "I don't really know; you're sort of scary." He flashes her a grin that fades off into something much more sober, "Because you need one. Because my sisters are out there somewhere and I'd like to think there's someone looking out for them without an ulterior motive. Because you-" He frowns. She probably doesn't want to hear this, but here goes, "You're spunky and interesting and I'd like to know you better."

"That's the first sensible thing you've said all night," she tells him when he calls her scary. "I was beginning to think all the fellis juice had messed with you." And then he ruins it and Zap wrinkles her nose and tells him so. "Ugh, and then you had to compliment me. Well, you might not have an ulterior motive, but I do." Smirk. "Those ribs better heal up quick." It's left unsaid that she's probably going to make him work hard if he wants inside the walls she's built up.

Yeah, well Edani doesn't beg. But he might be persistently himself enough to win her trust for all he knows. He just smirks, "You've also got a false sense of your own low self-worth. Work on that, hmm?" His expression becomes a touch guarded at her forthright warning. "You say not to worry and there you go, being worrisome." It's said lightly enough but the expression on his face has grown somewhat shuttered. "Speaking of healing, here comes my nemesis with her syringe. You know what that means." Naptime for him and the healer is out of her cage - hovering vulture-like while he snoozes.

"Have to throw you off the trail somehow, lest you think me too easy to catch. I know you like to chase cows, after all." She pats him gently on his leg where it's not going to hurt. "Get some rest. I'll see you when you get out of here." And with a parting smile and a saucy wink for the Healer — "Try not to molest him in his sleep, eh? That's my job." Oh is it now? — she's on her way out.