'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 - Bathing Cavern

A high, domed ceiling stretches far overhead, voices echoing in the distance. Warm, moist air fills the room, coming from the variety of pools scattered about. Vines have been planted in baskets and grow up the walls, thriving in the soft artificial light provided by glows placed at random intervals about the room.

It's still midmorning, only several minutes after the Xanadu Girl in Pink(tm) and Zapallie exchanged words in the living caverns and Edani left abruptly. All the way down the tunnel to the bathing caverns the beastcrafter's black expression had kept everyone at bay as he stalked here. Usually he'd purposely choose the least busy time to bathe because those ingrained holder-ish ways are still habit, even though he's gradually getting used to things around here, bathing with women present is still something he tries to avoid. For obvious reasons. Today he does not care, the happenstance that there is no one here barely registers as he grabs a towel, bag of soapsand and drops them beside the pool. Angry enough to shrug out of his shirt, shuck out of his trous and sink into the pool in three fluid moves that he'll regret later, he sinks in all the way over his head. Nothing to see but his distorted form and little bubbles trickling up as he mutter-sighs under there.

Zapallie left just after Edani, feeling all mother henish, to make sure he got where he was going safely. It's not her fault he's… in the bathing caverns. Well, that's never really bugged the weyr-bred girl before, and if she knows that it will offend his sensibilities — well, she doesn't. His head under the water is what prevents him from seeing that she's entered, but it also prevents her from seeing him, and so she stands there looking around in confusion for him. And then she sees the bubbles rising and assumes the worst — Edani is drowning! Which means she has to save him…which mostly means rushing over to the pool, dropping down on her knees, and searching for a shoulder or something to haul him up…WHAT A HERO!

This is the sum total of Edani's mind: "Mrrrrrrrrgh! Wome- AHHHHH!!!!" A fountain of bubbles erupt as his shoulder is grabbed and he screams like a girl under water. Then of course his head pops up, and he's turning to see who's grabbed his shoulder and why. Who-wha? He just stares at her with dark eyes uncomprehending while the hair plastered to his forehead trickles water through the slow-to-clear expression that goes from rattled to recognition to resigned as it sinks in. Zapallie. Followed. Him. Here. His expression closes and he sinks back to chin level, muttering, "Did you want to apologize? Because I'm listening if you do." From the tone he really expects she's here to dish out more of the same as she was back there in the cavern.

"I thought you were drowning," gasps Zap when he comes sputtering up and stares all accusingly at her. Her hand has long since been jerked back and reclaimed, held to her chest like he burned her. "Apologize for what?" she adds blankly, obviously confused. But now assured he's just fine, she stands back up and steps back. "I, um…just wanted to make sure you got where you were going alright," she mumbles, averting her eyes now.

At that tone of confusion, Edani turns his head over his shoulder and looks at Zap warily. She's gone all mumbly and modestly averting her eyes, not that he's too worried about what she might see, he's too preoccupied to worry about that. Dark brows knit in growing puzzlement. Silence with the only sound dripping water into one of the many pools echoes loudly in the stillness. "You're setting me up so you can say something harsh," he finally says. But he doesn't sound so sure. He also isn't sure this is really Zapallie. Maybe the bovine kicked him in the head and he forgot? He actually lifts a hand to feel his soaked head for evidence a lump. While his fingers dance across his scalp, he "Why would you make sure I got back alright if you don't want me asking you if everything's alright?"

Zapallie frowns as he starts feeling his head. "Did you hurt yourself?" she asks, turning her head to the side suspiciously. "Just because I don't want to spill my guts to you doesn't mean I don't sort of maybe care that you don't fall down and hurt yourself and crack your ribs all over again. I have plans for you, remember?" At least now that she knows he's okay she can joke again.

"I didn't expect you to spill your guts," Edani protests quietly, still feeling about his head for a second or two longer before he thinks to answer her. "No, I-" He jerks his hand away from his head, props both arms on the ledge to the pool and turns to face her while resting his chin on them. "I told you if you didn't want to talk that's okay and in a group of people I hardly thought you would. What I didn't expect was that callous disregard and the cutting sarcasm. A simple 'I'm fine' or 'can't talk' would suffice." He's still mighty confused. "What did I say back there that made you look at me so distrustfully?"

"Told you," Zap begins, sitting down a safe distance from him. "I don't trust anyone." She folds her hands into her lap. "You told me I could hate you in public, didn't you? Well, don't expect me to treat you different in front of other people then." She presses her lips together, doesn't meet his eyes. "There was a ship wreck… at Western. A really big one. A whole fleet went down. My sister's a SeaCrafter at Western…" she leaves it dangling in the air.

"I did say that," admits Edani with a laugh that's more frustrated breath exhaled than mirth. "I said pretend to hate; that looked pretty real." And why it bothers him is something he's skittering away from. "Look, I get that you don't trust anyone. And I get sticking up for yourself as harshly as you feel you need to, but you attack people before they barely say hey to you. It not my way to condone that. You're not going to get a poor baby pat on the back from me when I see it." So yeah, she noticed he didn't approve and- He's gathering himself to say something further along those lines when she speaks about her sister. He just stares for a moment, absorbing the change in her clothes and things clicking into place where she's going and why. She's being decent and he's suddenly understanding why. He doesn't ask why she's here talking to him when her sister could be missing. "Come on-" There's a whoosh of water as he levers himself out of the water, grabs his towel and wraps it around his waist, reaching for her wrist all in one motion it seems. If she doesn't get to her feet he'll haul her up and drag her with him. He's all but running for the door.

Zapallie shrugs her shoulders. "Gotta keep people on their toes. I don't care if you like it. I never said you had to or asked for your approval to live my life the way I wanted, did I?" No, she did not. Her eyes get wide when he storms at her naked, and only relaxes slightly with the towel. "What are you—" she asks, but he's hauling her to her feet and she's climbing after him awkwardly with a protesting reminder, "Your ribs!"

"You don't. But you're right, you didn't. Not asking you to change. Forget it," Edani grinds out between the short breaths he has to take walking at this pace. "I'm not explaining it very well anyhow." He's got something else on his mind at the moment anyway. His ribs? He feels nothing. Adrenaline is better than fellis ever could be. Instead he peppers her with questions as he hustles them down the hall to the resident's cavern. "Where and when did the ship go down? How did you hear? Were there any survivors? Do you have a ride waiting?" His last before they skid to a halt at the door to his cubicle, "Don't leave. I'll be right out." And he's stepping behind the curtain to dry off and dress.

Zapallie seems completely bewildered by his action. Adreneline in deed. "Er," she manages to his rapid-fire assault of questioning. "They went down in that last big storm Western had… hear tell the flag ship exploded even." She scratches the back of her head and looks bemused when he disappears behind the curtain. "What are you doing, Edani?" she asks of her own. "I guess 3 people went missing, but they rescued almost 200 people out of the wreckage. I'll get a ride when I get a ride… I heard some taxi dragon's rider taling about it."

"……" The sound of rustling clothing stops suddenly. The curtain slides back and Edani stands there in boots and leather flight pants like the fool he is, shirt in hand but not on, hair in disheveled disarray and that tape he was going to soak off his torso still firmly in place, though still damp. He just stares at the young woman. "Zapallie…" he says with an 'I am an idiot' sort of tone. "Was your sister on that ship? Is she okay?" Yeah, he should have asked those questions first. And of course he belatedly thinks to answer he question because it reached his brain JUST now. "Getting ready to go with you to Western, that's what."

Zapallie has an odd look on her face, and it's all for him. "I don't know," she admits. "That's why I wanted to hop down to Western and find out." She sighs softly, seeing him all taped up and just shakes her head at him. "You can't Between, you goober. You've got busted ribs." A hand reaches up, tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. And then impulsively she steps forward into his personal space and tries to press a quick, chaste, grateful kiss to his mouth. "You're damn sweet, Edani," she says, sounding extremely uncomfortable about it. "You should probably stay away from me from now on."

"You don't know." Edani peers at her like she's just grown another head. "Why are you even still HERE?" He's momentarily thought maybe her sister has been safe all along and he over reacted. But no she sets him straight on that. "My ribs aren't busted. They're merely cracked," he says with a crooked smile that's a touch cocky and a lot reckless. The kiss takes him by complete surprise because he's shaking out his shirt to resume putting it on. SO gonna go with! He blinks, hands reach and curl about her upper arms and not in a particularly gentle way as he keeps her from dashing off. He gives her a little shake. "And you're a fool," said with a tender affection, returning the kiss briefly but firmly. "I've been there, remember? I'm coming." And he shrugs into his shirt, grabs the jacket off his bed. "Lets go." He may regret this later, but right now he's feeling no pain.

"Well how could I? I ran away, remember? My family doesn't even know I'm here right now to tell me." She squints. "Well, I guess Adinaeth could probably find me. Or Raenth, or Dhonzayth… Or Suldith…" She trails off when he grabs her and for a horrible moment she looks… terrified? And then defensive mode kicks in and she squashes that reaction down with her usual reaction to everything — nastiness. "Cracked, broken, it makes no difference. I don't need you tagging along. It's not like you even know my sister." She even wipes the back of her hand across her mouth defiantly.

Edani's got no experience with whether *Between* could even hurt a rib fracture but right now he's assuming she's grasping at straws. He's onto her now though, and smirks at the wiping of her mouth she does. She kissed him first! "Right. You don't need me there. Gotcha. Guess what? I am coming anyway." With that he keeps hold of one of her upper arms and starts back the way they came. "We both know I can get a ride without getting you dumped off in the Northern Barrier Range and stuck having to walk home." Or get her a ride, period. "Just. Don't say anything more, okay?" Oh he knows she's capable of wheedling a ride with faux sweetness but can she maintain that until she is on the ground at Western? It'll take a healer to stop him now and that's something he's not allowing to happen, keeping a hold of her arm. She could… scream?

Zapallie might scream, actually, if he keeps hold of her arm. Zap's more of a I touch you, you don't touch me kind of girl. "Edani…" she says, giving her arm a tug. "I'm sisters with half of Pern, and even if I wasn't, there's a taxi service." Her eyebrows furrow and then she digs in her heels. "What do you mean, don't say anything! I didn't know you were my Lord and I your servant." Scowl.

Edani wants to keep going! And in his mind, if she's going to cross the line into his personal space, then turnaround is fair play. As Zap applies the brakes though, he slows, turning a very confused look at her. "You want to be there and find out, don't you?" He's getting a little muddled with her questions and so lets go of her arm shrugging. His own brows knit in confusion. "I didn't mean it that way! If you talk to the 'taxi service'-" air quotes strongly implied "-the way you talked to people in the caverns awhile ago, I'm worried they won't take you. That's all I meant. I can flag down a ride." If she's not coming, then he'll go without her. Because there's an element to this neither of them have said aloud but he doesn't vocalize it. "I'm from Western too," he says stubbornly.

"Of course I do," replies Zap. "Look. Just butt out, okay?" She scowls, which is about the only look she can manage besides saccharine and snarky. "Believe it or not I've managed just fine for Turns before you decided to take me on like some sort of poor addled charity case. And /don't touch me,/" she adds, rubbing her arm where he just had ahold of it protectively, looking more like a cornered animal than anything else. "I had enough of people touching me without my permission." Arms curled around herself she takes a step backward, leaving the way open for him. "I'll get my own ride. You do whatever you want."

"Oh right. Just fine. That's why you ran away and got mixed up with a man who slaughters women and children," Edani tosses with a rough sarcasm. He's getting nowhere and he's holding her up. And he cares more about her getting where she needs to go than being a support for her that she clearly isn't ready to accept. At her protest and arm rubbing, though he's already let her go, he raises both hands palm up, a remote look shuttering the flash of… something in his eyes. "Won't happen again," he assures her coolly, taking a step back. The rest of what she says doesn't compute right now. Adrenaline and churning thoughts already ahead in Western on that 'whole fleet of ships that went down' is not conducive to rational thinking. "As you wish," he says coldly about butting out, turning and stalking away down the hall. He’s passing the infirmary entrance just as he tosses over his shoulder, "I have to go to Western."

"It was the best option at the time…I didn't know what he was about then." Zapallie looks a little lost for a second, and it's long enough for him to turn and stalk away. She deflates once his back is turned, leaning her back into the wall and staring blankly at the opposite one. She'll let him leave her behind, and probably feel sorry for herself while he does.

Edani catches that deflation while his head is turned over his shoulder to make that last declaration to her. For a beat his step falters, the mask of cold indifference slips into confusion. He just shakes his head, resigned to her decision and then… then, because he's still moving forward, albeit slowly, he collides with the menace that is the gray-headed bulwark of health and wholeness, the healer - his jailer. Her toe is tapping, her face, glowering. "You're not going anywhere," she says flatly holding up a hand to forestall the protest sure to come with that breath Edani's taken to argue with her. "Unless you want to remain a senior apprentice for a very long time." The sputtering and growling, "You can't do that-" of the beastcrafter’s is cut off by a flat, "Oh yes. I can. If you *Between* with cracked ribs you will jeopardize your recovery. And I am obligated to notify your craftmaster he might have one less crafter under his care."

Zapallie tried to tell him Betweening would be a bad idea…

Oh there's no tried about it! She did tell him and more. The message is just now sinking into Edani's mind as he turns another glance over his shoulder and sees Zapallie heading the other way without so much as a 'thanks for caring'. There's a sense of finality to the way he turns back to the healer and inclines his head, wordlessly accepting her verdict. Shoving his hands into his pockets with force enough to cause him to wince from the pain it causes his ribs, he stalks head down and glowering into the deeper tunnels of the Weyr.