Fort Weyr - Stone Barn

Fashioned from the same volcanic material that houses the caverns, these square-cut stones have been laid by a mastercrafter stonemason turns ago to house the implements necessary in caring for Fort Weyr's stock. Large enough to stable several runners, there are also stalls for ailing herdbeast, with straw-covered stone floors within the stalls, the aisle outside swept clean. Overhead is a loft full of hay, grain bins, and other supplies. Large double doors open wide on either end and smaller windows higher up along the walls allow for light and the free flow of fresh air.
At either end of the structure are two work stations, one for leatherwork and another for healing: the waist-high counter of stainless steel with shelving above contains gadgets and tools, jars, bottles and boxes of salve, potion and powders - some of it fairly scary-looking like saws, clippers, clamps and needles. Mingled with the scent of animals and hay is a pungent medicinal smell that marks this as the healer area. The other has a wooden workbench with a rack of snippers, blades, mallets, awls and an anvil beside which are pegs with strips of leather, half-finished harnesses, whips, aprons and wide-brimmed hats. Overhead, shelves with jars of finish - dyes and oils, boxes of coiled rawhide thread for stitching and handtools indicates this is the leatherwork station.

It’s springtime at Fort Weyr, and with the arrival of warmer weather comes the addition of tiny creatures in the paddocks the aunties love to chortle over and call ‘wee babies’. Such people might be wandering down to the paddocks to peer over the fences so they can coo and cluck at them, but in the dimness of the stone barn there is solitude and serenity. It’s one of D’ani’s favorite places and today, the Weyrsecond’s beastcraft skills as Senior Journeyman are required. He’s dressed for rough work at the stainless steel counter, examining an animal that appears rather… limp and inert, an array of tools set out on a sterile tray where his gloved hands can reach them.

Dtirae is not usually drawn to baby animals. As a hunter, there is no worth in taking out the next generation, and there's no skill required in those hunts. But, little baby-things seem to preoccupy her. Her lifemate on the Sands with her clutch, and her own issues. One, unrelated, issue is the true reason for her venturing to the barn as it isn't so hard to find the Weysecond by simply asking. So, away from the cooing and clucking crowds she goes and into the stone barn in silence. D'ani is working, and so she lingers back so not to interrupt. Probably not the best time for this talk, considering.

The silence in here allows D’ani to hear the creak of that barn door, moreover, the shaft of sunlight alerts him to the entrance. Who else can it be but his assistant? To Dtirae, “Ah, there you are!” he says pleasantly without turning around. “Wash up and come join me eh? One of our newborns needs some first aid.” Aw, newly-born is right! Lying on its side on that table is a birth-wet calf, the mother watching anxiously from one of the stalls with her head over the half-door.

She does not startle when D'ani speaks as if he's expecting her. She knows better, he wouldn't expect her to be there. If she were compelled to follow his instructions, she gives no indication and wavers by the door. The safety of the animal is far more important than the compulsion. She knows nothing of which that could be of assistance. "Sorry, D'ani, I think I would cause more trouble than help… But, if you need a pair of hands?" Because she can certainly hold things without needing knowledge of the Craft. However, she reaches for the door, should he rush her out — and she wouldn't blame him.

Nope, definitely not expecting Dtirae in here - or anywhere around his vicinity. And yet, D’ani calmly turns his head to look at her over his shoulder, brown eyes somber but a lop-sided smile forming despite that. “I do, if you don’t mind. My assistant didn’t show. You can hand me things?” A tilt of his head indicates the sink where a foot pedal releases water from a tank above it. “The gloves are in the box over the sink.” His lips move, but right then the cow lets out a mournful moo. He just shakes his head and turns his attention to the calf, who is, apparently sedated.

The smile is a relief, for a brief moment before Dtirae nods and does not flee from the barn. She did offer to help, after all. “Of course.” She moves to the indicated sink, quietly washing her hands. Once clean, and dried, gloves are taken and carefully pulled into place before she is joining D’ani by his side. “What’s wrong with it?” Because she’s helping, an curious. She is, however, attentive to the bronzerider should he gesture for something.

While Dtirae is over at the sink, D’ani is drawing up a syringe. That’s placed on the tray, then he gently positions the calf more comfortably, reaches and draws one of the overhead lights above a little closer. He’s dabbing redwort on the little creature’s belly as Dtirae arrives at his side. “See there?” he gestures with the gauze square to where the umbilical cord emerges in a tiny bulge where some of the intestines have protruded from a weakness in the abdominal muscle. “It’s a herniation,” he says. Retaking that syringe, he injects anesthetic around the area. Good thing he’s got the calf immobilized so it cannot flail and kick. He offers Dtirae the spent needle, “Hand me that blade there?” It’s a scalpel - there’s but one, so she can’t get things confused. When he’s got that, before he makes the cut, he side-glances at her and asks quietly, “What brings you out here? I’m not interrupting a ride or anything?” That is, if she’s here for a runner. Unless she wants to ride a cow - D’ani can arrange that!

As he gestures, Dtirae’s looking closer, her brows furrow with concern and a touch of disgust. But, what could she really expect, what with the animal on a table and him needing tools? “You… Can fix it, right?” The spent needle is taken, gently, and placed away from the tools but back onto the table. The blade is taken and offered, and she’s watching just as curiously. “I… Actually was looking for you. You’re not interrupting, I am, if anything.” But, she did manage to come at a good time to assist. There’s a pause and she asks softly, “can that happen with human babies?”

“Oh yes, it’s a simple fix,” D’ani assures Dtirae easily. She’ll see just how simple in a moment. He knows she’s a huntress, assumes a little blood won’t bother her. His fingers are nimble as he places two fingers beside the bulge, stretches the tissue taut and makes a deft cut less than one half an inch long through both skin and muscle. One gloved finger pokes the bulge of intestine down into the body cavity where it belongs, remaining there to secure the slippery stuff as he holds the scalpel out to her handle first. “Hand me that needle?” Again, there is but one, threaded and knotted already with a length of gut suture. “You were? Why so?” A quick flick of eyes scans her face as she’s got her head turned away, careful to have them lowered to that inert patient of his by the time she turns back. He’ll take the needle, eyes on the exchange rather than lifted to hers. He employs it with a skill that would make a seamstress proud, making tiny, even, tight stitches along that incision. Her question elicits easy conversation, “Sure it can happen with human babies, though it’s not that common.” A pause, then a chuckle from him as he asks, “Why? Thinking of having one?”

“That’s good.” Dtirae murmurs softly. There is no issue with blood or guts, really, but the fact that it is a baby and perhaps came out injured? That is where the issues lay, but, she is watching him intently as he works. When the scalpel is held out, she is careful to take it from him and gingerly placing it beside the used syringe. “Yes.” She’ll grab the indicated needle, as there’s only one, and carefully hands it to him. “Because I owe you so many apologies that I doubt I’ll have time to fit them all in a day?” She’s focusing on his work, so she is unaware of him considering her face. She remains quiet as he answers, her question, but that frown is back with much more concern written in now. “Oh, not common is… Good.” As for his final question, she is, briefly tensing before she murmurs. “Not so much thinking. More like… I’m pregnant?”

D’ani grimaces when he hears the reason he’s been sought out, but it’s a self-directed one rather than at her. He’s silent for a long moment, then ruefully, “Rae… taking into consideration your feelings… and the fact Zuva was proddy, it wasn’t all that unreasonable. And…” His needle pauses, brown eyes lift to seek hers, “…some of my reaction was Dremkoth’s wounded pride.” He smirks, shakes his head, “That boy’s head never has returned to normal size after catching Kouzevelth.” He resumes his stitching and adds, “I do forgive you; I hope you’ll forgive me-” A breath let out, “-for everything.” He’s doing the final knotting, so asks, “Hand me that pair of scissors if you-” Blink. Staaare. A genuine honest-to-goodness deer-in-the-headlights one aimed at Dtirae. Stupidly, “You…’re… w-what?” The cow lows again, jolting him to at least partial coherence. “Are you… sure?” Duh, D’ani. She’d know!

Dtirae’s not watching his face, still. It’s hard to say whether or not she’s looking to avoid his expressions, or if she’s truly enthralled by his work. When he says her nickname, this time? She doesn’t flinch away, doesn’t wear an expression of hurt. When the needle pauses, she’s allowing grey eyes lift to meet brown. Her expression is saddened, for a brief moment. “It’s still an excuse, D’ani… Zuva being proddy and my feelings. I owe you apologies for more than just that.” Her gaze drops to watch him work again, the expression on her face settling into something thoughtful. “I do forgive you. I just don’t like when you call me fragile.” As he asks for the scissors, she looks over and behind her to grab them carefully and offering them towards him with the handles first. Grey eyes lift and find him staring at her. Cheeks flush a shade of red, and a hint of tears. She’s emotional. “Y-Yeah… I haven’t.. I thought I was fine? I betweened but…” Dtirae’s stubborn. One could only imagine how stubborn her offspring will be. “I can’t tell him.” The father. The waterworks start, too, but she isn’t sobbing because she’s trying to help him work.

As before on the plains overlooking the Drake's Lake settlement when he'd faced that 'why' question, D'ani's face is pained, his mouth forming a lopsided pull to one side. For a moment he says nothing as he accepts those scissors from Dtirae, his darkened eyes lower to focus on his task. Carefully he clips the excess suture material away, but his thoughts are on the woman beside him. "I'm sure you didn't," he agrees. Sometimes the truth hurts? "And I understand you not liking it, but I only called you fragile once," he asserts calmly as he dabs the blood away from the area and disinfects it. "I didn't like saying it, either. But you asked me why I didn't hold your running off to Drake's Lake against you," he reminds her. "So I gave you an honest answer." His task is finished and he blows out a breath staring at the prone calf for a moment. "I won't call you that again," he promises, "but if you continue running off every time the conversation gets difficult or avoiding people and challenging situations, I'll be thinking it." It's brutal honesty, and he's unhappy verbalizing it. He strips off his gloves, removes the restraints from the calf's feet and lifts the animal all in one move and that's when she makes her announcement. His stare is broken by her assurances, comprehension sinking in as she goes on. Tears, unshed or not, are noticed and he grunts, carries that calf over to the stall and places it in the pen with its mother. His arms open, "C'mere?"

That pained look is avoided, her gaze keeping downwards. As he works with the scissors, she is content to linger in their silence. He has to focus, and she is not determined to have his full attention. "I understand." The calf is considered again, as his task comes to an end. Grey eyes lift to him for his promise and a faint smile touches her lips. "I appreciate that. I'm trying not to run, anymore. And I'm not avoiding people. R— My friend has been helping, I talk to him when I feel like I can't talk to anyone. And, I've done the same for him." She has been improving, and making changes. Slowly, but it is happening. The gloves are carefully removed as D'ani tends to the calf and brings it to the waiting mother. His arms open, and there is a moment of hesitation before she moves closer and into his arms. Her face tilts to hide against him, as the tears fall. "'m sorry. Just… Really emotional. Been sick all morning…"

D'ani only knows what he's witnessed. But he nods with a faint smile, "That's good to hear, Rae. I do believe there's strength in you, if you want to find it." Time will tell! And until it does, he'll keep his opinion to himself. While the hug is the brotherly sort, D'ani totally understands Dtirae's hesitation. Hopefully it isn't too awkward, for it's meant to be comforting - his arms hold her gently; she may pull away any time she wishes. He allows her to cry, murmuring to the top of her head, "Shh, you have no need to apologize for being teary. Having a baby is… a big, scary step." He pauses, then recalling her earlier comment, "Would you… like me to speak on your behalf? To the father, I mean."

Dtirae’s examples for D’ani haven’t been the best of her improvement. But, there is definitely time for that to show. Later. “I know there is. I… Just need to understand that my definition of strength wasn’t exactly what was best.” Shutting the troubles away and not facing them, expressing them, or even speaking of them. The hug itself isn’t awkward as she does come to relax, and accept the comfort as it comes. “I am scared. I want to… But, I don’t know if I can. Do it well…” At his offer, however, she is tensing again and pulling away. “What? No. I know it sounds like running away, but. I don’t think I should interfere with his life. He didn’t ask for Zeruth to catch Zuvaleyuth. And he just started a relationship… Though the girl is an Apprentice. I don’t want to potentially cause a rift there. It’s probably hard enough with their restrictions. She seems… Ah. No offense, but, Holdbred and I wouldn’t want her to get the wrong idea. I like S’ai… And don’t want to cause him problems.”

D'ani nods silently, understanding Dtirae's reasonings, pleased and relieved for her ability to self-evaluate. "It takes time," he agrees. One hand, moving across her back in soothing motions, feels the relaxation and a few moments later, the building tension in her frame. He allows her to slip away, hands dropping to his sides as he listens to not only her words, but how they are said. His mouth twitches, quirks and then pulls into a serious line as he dips his head and shoves his hands into his pockets. "Okay, I won't breathe a word… to… S'ai." Because that's obvious from the tumble of words from Dtirae just who the father is. "If his girl has chosen to live in a Weyr and consort with a dragonrider, then she'd damn well better learn to deal with the consequences," he mutters darkly with a heavy frown that bespeaks both his loyalty to a friend's discomfiture and his displeasure with a wanton apprentice dallying instead of focusing on her craft. What's he supposed to do? Nothing, apparently. And this doesn't sit well with him. "You need anything, you let me know, yeah?" he asks before turning to check on the cow and calf. Because when all else fails, there's always work - and the craft - to bury oneself into when feeling impotent.

Dtirae’s watching him closely after she speaks, watching the way his mouth moves as her own twitches slightly downwards. That look does not sit well with her. “D’ani…” She starts, reaching for him as he turns. Her hand is seeking his arm, not ready to depart just like that. She settles in closer, for a moment, “if you think it’s best that he know… You could tell him on my behalf. I’d… I’d rather not? I… This is overwhelming.” It is permission, because the concern is there. She’s shifting to peek at the calf and the cow, expression growing softer and more thoughtful. “I don’t know what to do in this situation, D’ani…”

D’ani pauses at the touch to his arm, and though he doesn’t fully face her, he does turn his head to regard her for a long moment. When he speaks, his tone is kind, “It’s not up to me.” He takes a thoughtful breath, “But if I were the father of a child out there from a flight, I’d want to know. Think maybe S’ai might too.” He considers a few beats more and then says, “Might be the child would want to know its sire, but… who can know how things’ll work out?” He moves then, gently withdrawing his arm to kneel and check on his little patient, who is suckling hungrily. Mama cow, content now that her offspring is back with her, is placidly munching hay. “Sometimes even when you do what’s right, things don’t work out,” he says thoughtfully while his hands move featherlight over the calf’s belly as it expands with warm milk. “But at least you can say you tried.” Whether that’s a promise to inform S’ai on her behalf or acceptance of her reluctance and indecision, Faranth only knows. Likely he doesn’t have a clue what he’s going to do.

Dtirae nods, faintly, at his first comment. She says nothing more, but listens with her gaze intent on him. “True…” As he withdraws, she lingers by and watches him with the cows. Lips press together thoughtfully, brows drawing into a frown before she sighs. “I don’t expect anything to work out for me, D’ani. I suppose, I’ll have to talk with him. You don’t need to do what I should.” She gives a faint smile, regardless of whether or not he turns to face her. “I’ll see you later? Maybe we could… No. Nevermind. I’ll see you later.” She’ll leave him to his work. <done>

D’ani is satisfied that the calf is doing well - for now. He’ll remain for awhile and observe, thorough beastcafter that he is. But he will rise and step back to that stall door to brush his fingers to Dtirae’s arm. “You never know, Rae, how things’ll work out,” he says gently, trying to look hopeful for her sake. But the truth is, the rider aforementioned is in a relationship and with a crafter, which… complicates things for all involved. He’s not oblivious to this. He headtilts curiously at Dtirae’s aborted suggestion, brows quirking questioningly, before they fall. He nods, expression neutral, “I’ll be around. Take care of yourself, yeah?” He watches her depart, thoughtful, troubled. It’s only when that barn door shuts that he blows out a breath, slumps against the half-open stall door and murmurs, “We could… only we won’t. Or can’t…” Be friends? Hang out? Who knows. Time… will tell? In the meantime, he worries about her, as he does with all the folks he holds dear.