Private Tales Scorched Earth

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Raigryn Vayd

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Or our first time at Belgrath. At the tavern. When I was a "boy." How did the song go?

"You know, I can't even remember," he lied. "There was definitely a line about the joys of swinging off a woman's beard."

That Dance, he thought to himself. That was a mixed memory. She might have felt out of place but it was a fond memory of her trying out femininity without it being a danger to her. On the other hand it ended up with her eating enough to nearly be sick, whilst he learned there were still mages interested in the mechanics of empathy.

He felt a brief moment of joy at how easy it was to reach for those memories and to follow the emotional threads that connected then and now.

I feel out of place here.

"And that is okay," he replied. "It is probably because we don't quite fit in here but..."

He paused as food was laid out on the table. Raigryn drew in the steam wafting up from his bowl. Spices and herbs that came in through the port city that he rarely got to enjoy.

"...it is nice for a little change and a bath that is our own for a night. We can find somewhere else tomorrow. After I get my hair trimmed!"
 
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Fife

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Fife scoffed. Raigryn might have forgotten plenty recently, but he seemed to recall the song's subject just fine. She wasn't sure if that made her feel better or worse. Better, probably, because it meant he was remembering things from this past year. Memories of Belgrath were things with her. Closer to Indretar, to remembering… Well, remembering.

But his we. Not agreeing that she didn't fit in here, but a quiet alienation of himself as well. Whether it was to make her feel better or because he believed that, Fife wasn't sure. She looked up from the table and met his eye, only for a bowl to pass between them.

Fife rearranged herself, nodding in thanks to the server and sitting up straighter. Both of them leaned in to take a deep breath of the fish stew and Fife knew that she was going to bed miserably happy tonight. Everything about it was foreign, and she had no doubt she'd never had anything like it.

Raigryn's statement completed, Fife laughed. She scrunched up her face and made the same scraggly beard sign she'd made many times before.

Only short, she advised him. You would be a stranger with no beard. When last did you cut it all off? Color had washed across her cheeks. Then, without letting him answer, she gasped and added hurriedly, What color was it before?

The moment she had him talking about himself, she picked up her spoon. The stew tasted even better than it smelled, as if such a thing were possible. She closed her eyes, hid her mouth behind her fingers, and sat back to savor it.

Good to know that everything she ate from this day on had to compare to this. There was a small relief in knowing this was the best it was ever going to get
 

Raigryn Vayd

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How introspective have you been since we left that place? Raigryn thought as he watched her. She was closed off to him, but he could see her thinking carefully as she listened to him.

Seeing her joy at the sight of a griffin had gone some way to waking him from his stupor. He had been drifting in and out of conscious thought. Looking back, she had been watching him closely and probably turning inwards as well. He had become accustomed to enjoying the world through her wonder.

He was glad to see her laugh at his need for a trim and let such concerns drift away for the time being.

"You must have asked me that before?" he said, narrowing his gaze. "Wow, I don't think you have. I had very dark hair, as it happens," he explained with a grin.

He threaded two fingers into his beard, drawing them away to find the longest, straggly hairs.

"Don't worry, it isn't going away. Just a trim."

Grinning, Raigryn reached for his spoon. Silence followed, but not because he was out of things to say. He simply enjoyed the perfectly seasoned first course. His silent prayer was not in thanks, but in hope that this meal would stay down.
 
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Fife

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Dark hair? Fife studied Raigryn for a moment, trying to imagine him so. It wasn't as difficult as she might have thought. Dark hair and dark eyes, he must have been very handsome -- was still. Fife was grateful that there was a bowl of food to avert her gaze to. But she looked up to nod when he assured her that he wouldn't be losing the trademark beard.

Good. And it was good. She rather liked him, just as he was. Well. Not as scruffy as this, maybe. But her Raigryn was a good one, even if he had been a lady killer back in his prime. She recalled the last time he'd gotten a nice trim done. For the dance. Looking back, he'd been rather dashing and she hadn't even appreciated it. Not fully, at least.

Fife pushed around a vegetable before scooping it up. She smiled and was content to eat in silence for a while. After a few bites, however, she set her spoon down to free her hands.

Who do you look like? From your parents?

She knew that they were gone, but she had wondered for a while now what they had looked like, who they were, what they were like. Knowing what traits he took from them revealed nothing about him, but it somehow felt... intimate. Fife had no such details to divulge in return. No doubt Raigrhn would conjure up something to satisfy one of his curiosities -- if he had them.
 

Raigryn Vayd

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He grinned at the sight of her obviously trying to picture him with dark hair before returning to his meal. It tasted as if it had been lightly spiced with badriss. A single snuff box of the stuff could cost an entire bag of gold. It was the kind of fact he would have expressed at length had he not been stuffing his face.

Raigryn tried to pace himself. This was the kind of place that cared about manners.

Who do you look like? From your parents?

"Oh, that's an interesting question," he replied, putting down his spoon.

"There is a portrait of them with a distant family member somewhere I'm sure. When I was younger I was told often - more often than I liked - that I looked like my mother."

Raigryn frowned and thought about the last time he'd looked at his reflection. He hadn't seen decent piece of polished glass for a long time.

"Her eyes and I think..." he said, bringing a finger up to trace his brow and down his nose. "...this was more like him. I think..."

He opened his hand and tried to take in the overall shape of his face.

"...was her shape."
 
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Fife

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She watched and listened, forgetting about the stew and the people as her mind painted images of people she’d never met and never could. Raigryn’s face was more familiar than her own, after all. She wore a loose, growing smile.

When he was finished, she was left with an odd liminal feeling, as if there was something she was supposed to say or a topic they should have moved on to, but she didn’t know what that was supposed to be. It wasn't like she had a lot of conversation experience. They had touched on his family briefly in the past, but he had expressed some remorse over the subject. She didn’t want to tread on something so delicate when he was in a good mood and recalling things well. And she certainly steered far away from the path of inquiry that veered into the present and future -- things neither of them needed to be considering right now.

Fife touched her face idly. Her gaze strayed away from Raigryn as her fingers ran the length of her features before going still with her cheeks in her palms. She had as many questions about herself as she had for him, probably more. Unfortunately there was no answering the questions of whose smile it was she wore when she was happiest or whose ire carried into the crease of her dark brows.

Fife sighed and looked back up. She had to say something. He was happy and she didn’t want to soil it on things she couldn’t change.

You have very pretty eyes, she told him on a whim. It bolstered her smile but made it harder to look at him. Dark, like the forest at night.

It was probably the first honest compliment she had ever paid him. Her stomach felt like it was doing somersaults and she snatched up her spoon to take another bite like that was going to alleviate the furious burn in her cheeks. So smooth.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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Memories of his parents never quite sat still and secure. It was nothing to do with the assassin's poison. It was over thirty years since he had seen their faces.

Raigryn tilted his head to one side at the sudden, unexpected complement. Before she dropped her eyes she would see him smile. It wasn't the usual kind of smile he wore, easy and confident. For Raigryn it was distinctly measured, on the verge of being shy.

He finished the last of his stew quite promptly. And set his spoon down in the bowl. It was really a novelty to not have to bring your own spoon to a tavern.

"You know," he said, dropping his voice, "I don't think the idemni ever imagined their sign language being used like that. And..."

Raigryn fell silent, lifting his hands into view.

I am sorry that I have not been here. The meaning didn't quite translate, with the language being more around relative positions for tactical maneuvering.
 
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Fife

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While he didn’t look as embarrassed as she was, that statement landed weirdly. Was that a good thing? Why was she so nervous? Her heart was thundering like she had been running for miles and her cheeks burned like they had been ravaged by wind and sun.

He leaned in and dropped his voice and Fife looked up sheepishly. No, it probably wasn't how they had intended it to be used. The Silent Way was meant for assassins, not a mute girl. It lacked finesse and most grammar. The thoughts she was able to convey were simple and broken and often very abstract in an attempt to be said at all.

While it was hardly speaking, it was still so far beyond what she had ever dreamed possible. It was a voice, and he heard it.

More than heard it, he understood it. Fife's eyes dropped to his hands, where he strung together… an apology.

She blinked and her eyes flitted away. There was a lump in her throat and she chewed mercilessly at her pursed lip in a very poor attempt to subdue the burning glint in her eyes. It was simple and it was broken and it was very abstract, but it was powerful. Fife gave one tiny wet sniff.

When she replied, it was to repeat the sign for here. Like this, two fingers, not three, she signed, struggling to bite back a smirk. She made a similar sign for the verb to place and spelled it out for him. Here. Place. They looked almost identical.

This was payback for several spelling lessons. She was definitely smiling now. While she couldn't pass on an opportunity to tease him, however, she also couldn't pass by his apology without genuine comment.

I know, she relented. It is good that you are back. I missed you.

But that was now as much as she wanted to talk about it in a room full of people -- all she wanted to spoil their good night. She had not meant for this to get so... feely. How one person could make her feel the full spectrum of emotion had not yet fully settled on her yet. Loving him was still very confusing.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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It felt wrong to silence her, such was their way of communicating, but he reached across the table to grasp both of her hands. Their main course was late and he didn't mind.

Her hands had always been small inside his own. The calluses from the idemni sword training hadn't left her. She had not been idle during her time without him. How useless he had been.

I am mostly back, he thought to himself. He wasn't drifting off and he had his faculties and powers. It was just a little slow to work through his thoughts from time to time and his left hand had a new habit of trembling occasionally. Things he was pretending that he wasn't hoping desperately to end.

Her determination and skill outstripped what he had possessed just a few years into training. He had plenty of the latter and precious little of the former. On stubborn resolve they would probably have been evenly matched at an academy.

What Fife had earned was the chance to relax and to learn to enjoy life.

Raigryn smiled and tried to meet her gaze. They hadn't spoken enough since leaving captivity, but it struck him how little they had made eye contact.

It could only last a few moment. He caught sight of someone heading for their table with more plates out of the corner of his eyes.
 
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Fife

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Raigryn’s hands curled around hers, not as strong as before but just as encompassing. The language of touch was also a new one, but one that she understood and spoke well. There was a stillness in the gentle grip of his hands that transcended physical comfort, as if the noise in her mind quieted. It was okay. He was here.

Fife’s hands twined with his, as small and narrow and cool as ever. She conceded and lifted her eyes to his in the silence that carried between them. The eyes watching her were the same -- deep and rich as coffee and chocolate, as warm and reliable as leather in sunlight -- even though the face that carried them was different. She wondered how much her own face had changed -- hair longer, tired rings darker, and the curl of new scars reaching across her jaw. They met for the first time all over again, as they had done several times now. She hoped this would be the last time, but that was unlikely.

She smiled back. She couldn’t help it when he was looking at her like that. Fife squeezed his hands and let that fill in all the words she couldn’t just tell him.

Someone stepped up to the table and the moment passed. Fife glanced up and withdrew her hands to settle them in her lap, a renewed flash of color darkening her cheeks.
 

Raigryn Vayd

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Sometimes it was nice to be reminded how much they had learned to communicate before the idemni signs. Not that he would ever dream of going back to a time when she couldn't truly express herself.

Dinner for him was another predictably fish based course. This time heavy meaty chunks in a pastry crust. Raigryn topped off his mug of wine to help it down. He distinctly enjoyed not having to concentrate to keep it down.

A few glances were spared their way. Perhaps for the particularly short mute woman, perhaps for his unfashionable scruff and long hair.

Raigryn knew that even if their was a perception that they didn't belong, if they paid and were confident and polite no one would say anything. They wouldn't even pay them much attention. Anything else would be impolite. People amused him.

But he saw her. Fife had spent her life trying to avoid attention and he had lavished it upon her since that collision.

There was no fuss about who paid. She'd made clear that the dirty money was theirs to use. For a change of scenery, they actually had three small adjoining rooms. One central room for their shoes and belongings and now a bath full of tepid water. A small side room on each side with a bed for proprietary.

"You can wash up first," he offered.
 
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Fife

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The meal was nice. It was better than nice, it was divine. Fife had the same thing as Raigryn, mostly because she lacked creativity and also because it kept her from reaching across to eat from his dinner out of curiosity. She tucked away quite a bit more than Raigryn, but then again she hadn't been having issues keeping food down and had always had appetite enough for two people.

She paid as little mind to the other diners as she could. Fife sensed a general cloud of colors floating about in the fluctuation of the room's emotions. It was hard to ignore the flares of curiosity and annoyance. They must have been an odd pair, and she pulled gently at the front of her shirt in a private struggle with her discomfort. She was better most days, but the added scrutiny made her skin crawl and her clothes too tight.

Still, Fife made small talk, asking about their dinner and plying Raigryn for idle conversation. It was, all in all, a nice evening. He was right; it was a fun change of pace.

Their rooms were, of course, equally nice. Fife kicked off her boots and threw a bright smile over her shoulder at Raigryn. She dipped her fingers in the water as she passed the washtub on her way to inspect the first bedroom. She glanced under the beds and tested the windows to be sure they were secure. It was, of course. Nobody was waiting for them, but she felt safer knowing for certain.

When she emerged to turn a curious circle around the sitting room, she gasped. She whistled to Raigryn to get his attention and pointed to a frame on the wall. Not just a frame, a mirror. And not one of the splotchy, foggy ones that barely cast a reflection, but a good one. Fife was just tall enough to peer into it, so she raised up on the tips of her toes to be able to see her whole reflection.

It was, honestly, the first time she’d seen herself so clearly and it was rather strange. Was this what she looked like? Fife’s fingers traced her dark brows, her angular cheekbones, the laugh lines around her mouth like parentheses, and finally the long lines of her neck. She wasn’t pretty, but she supposed she was a fine sort of plain.

Wearing a very weird smirk, turned to give Raigryn a measuring look. Much prettier women had pawed at him in the year she’d known him, and this was the face of the girl who’d snagged him?

She patted his shoulder and, keeping her amusement to herself, passed by to finish her tour of the suite.

When she was sure they were alone and that everything was secure, she skipped back to the bath. She did not need persuading to bathe before Raigryn. Love might be unconditional, but she was not particularly fond of the idea of bathing in his water after a week on the road with naught but a splash at the stream two days ago.

Keeping her back to him to preserve a guise of modesty, she stripped and stepped into the bath. The water was still hot, on the verge of being too hot, and she sank in with a long sigh. It was tempting to lie back and let the heat lull her to sleep, but she knew that was a dangerous game. She reached out for a rag and soap, then gave herself a quick, thorough scrub as perfected in chilly morning waters.

Wringing out the cloth, she draped it over the rim and looked around for Raigryn. She whistled his name. When he looked, she pointed to her bags, mimed a comb with her fingers, and flashed him a sheepish smile. Lazy of her, perhaps, but she didn’t want to step out to get it.
 

Raigryn Vayd

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It was important for his own state of mind, as much as Fife's, to be feeling more himself. In a way he had been quite content pottering along, without his own concerns nagging at him. Yet in those moments of clarity, it had been downright terrifying to think about what he could have lost. His identity, his sense of self. Everything.

He would take those small moments of slow thought for feeling grounded in the moment. It was a pleasure to enjoy fine food and wine and to see her excitement exploring a new set of rooms. Raigryn wished she could have seen some of the airy suites he'd stayed in when working on the right hand of a Kaliti Prince.

When Fife whistled he was looking into the clear mirror. Such things were rare. Dragging fingers through his hair and beard he had been trying to work out how much he needed trimming. He looked older than the last time he had taken a good look at himself. A good bit of food and relaxation would help.

Raigryn fetched Fife's comb, wearing a wry smile as he approached. He knelt down next to the tub behind Fife.

"Here, I can do it," Raigryn said quietly drawing damp hair back over her slender shoulders. There was nothing hurried about his movements, no rush to deal with the tangles as the backs of his hands glided over wet skin.
 
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Fife

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Uncertain what that look was about, she watched him carefully and held her hand out for the comb as he came near. He didn't give it to her and instead knelt behind her at the end of the tub. He offered to do it for her. Fife quickly looked away, color flashing over the bridge of her nose, but she didn't protest. Rather, she scooted back to the end to offer up her hair for him.

The brush of his fingers made her breath catch and for a moment she sat stiffly upright. Only a moment, then she settled back against the ceramic. Her arms were stuck tightly to her sides, one crossing her body so that her hand covered her scarred shoulder, and she drew her knees up toward her chest. They formed little olive islands in the water, which was glittering and dark in the firelight. Stray bubbles swirled atop the surface and clung to her knees in little clusters.

Fife offered nothing, focusing on the water as he gently worked through the tangled nest of her dark hair. He was far more gentle with it than she was. It was the longest she'd ever let it grow out before and it formed such difficult knots -- especially because she was not as adept at braiding as the Idemni.

Still, as knotted as it was, he seemed content to take his time. She let him. Gladly. It felt nice. It was intimate in a way she'd been craving and didn't know she'd wanted.

...That was a lie. She'd known she wanted it, but it hadn't felt right asking for it.

She basked in his quiet attention now, though. A small smile tugged at her lips and, growing more comfortable, her shoulders finally relaxed. Her hand slid away from her shoulder and Fife closed her eyes with a long, heavy sigh.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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She relaxed into his touch and let some of her walls down. A curious mix of emotions. Colours bleeding through a core of tranquility. A subtle touch of Fury that was perhaps impatience, but could have been a regret or last flicker of the defensive posture she had initially set herself in.

If he had been living in a nest of vipers for long months, Raigryn reasoned he would find it hard to let his guard down too. There were times that he wished he could genuinely read minds instead of interpreting emotions. This wasn't one of them. Her thoughts were her own. Even if that ability would have made a lot of things more clear about their relationship much sooner.

He made some thoughtful noises as he switched between his fingers and the comb. Raigryn should have expected her hair to be this tangled.

"We don't have the eat here tomorrow," he said. The nest was slowly being tamed into smooth, dark sheets. "But I could stand these rooms another night...and the mirror for after the barbers."
 
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Fife

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Her fingers broke the surface of the water to lure a trail of suds away from her knees and guide them to cling to the ceramic rim. Light danced on the peaks of the ripples formed by their passage and shadows gathered between. Splotches of her reflection were broken and scattered across them in swirling flashes of beige and pink.

Raigryn finally spoke, his voice over her shoulder low and reassuring. She smiled and a huff of laughter puffed from her nose. She had complained about feeling out of place too soon. Now she was also reluctant to leave, if only to dine here another night. If she'd never eat like this again, why not have it two nights in a row? It was worth feeling uncomfortable and she could be better dressed when she wasn't fresh off the road. Perhaps she would truly shock him and get a dress.

Fife tipped her head back to rest on the rim and looked up at him. Her gray eyes were wide and dark as a stormy sea in the low light. She was smiling, was simply happy. Her hands lifted from the water to a chorus of drips and gentle splashes.

We can stay here. If you want.

It was for him. All of what she had done had been for him to have moments like these back. They could stay in these rooms for weeks doing nothing if that was what he wanted. Fife watched him intently -- listening, gauging -- and her hands receded back into the water.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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He would have sacrificed so much to see that content smile cross her lips once again. The Steel Coin had left him without a scrap of himself left to give away.

Bastards

Well...you hadn't expected her to get the better of you.


The escape was hazy. Even though his memories from before the potions were far more clear, the time after the first injections was still patchy. He suspected it always would be. Raigryn felt an swell of frusttion at that.

Maybe tomorrow she could fill in some of those blanks. Maybe another week.

She had been magnificent.

Explanations could wait and so could the last of the tangles. He placed the comb down on the floor carefully.

Leaning over the rim and Fife, he smiled back in silence for the span of a scant few seconds. Leaning down, heads oriented the wrong way, he placed a kiss on her lips. Easing himself down, he wrapped his arm around her.

Raigryn settled his left hand on her right shoulder, embracing her slender form. He dared her lips to follow his own, which would left her turning over her left shoulder to meet a more forceful kiss.

By the very spark of power that gave them their magic, how had it taken him this long to do this?
 
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Fife

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Empathy wasn’t exactly seen, but she saw it in her mind nonetheless. Raigryn was not as good at hiding his thoughts yet. They bled through much as she suspected hers had when she was first learning how to build her mental barriers. Like the bleed of ink into a droplet of water, her mind saw the bloom of colors, muddled and mixed as his thoughts bordered multiple Aspects.

She didn’t often wonder what he was thinking, but she did in moments like this one. She wished she could open her own mind so that he could see what was there. It would have been simpler if Empathy worked that way.

But it didn’t, and she watched him in contemplative silence.

She turned her head to watch him gently place the comb on the floor beside the tub and her dark brows furrowed in soft disappointment and confusion. Not that she was confused for very long. Fife felt a rush of excitement, a thrill in her chest that left her breathless and a little nauseous. She wasn’t ready for the kiss at all -- and yet her chin tilted upward so that her lips met his.

Fife’s hands slipped up from the water. One curled loosely around the arm across her chest, and with the other she wove her fingers into his shaggy hair. Eyes closing and lips parting, her head turned to the side as she exhaled deeply.

She was all too aware of her speeding pulse, of the muscles in her face contorting her expression, of the way her mind guttered like a flame in the wind as it struggled to keep thinking. The clattering of too many thoughts tumbling over one another filled her head.

Fife gently turned her lips away, breaking the kiss with a small shake of her head. She had not told him no before. Or, at least, not that she could recall right then. Yet she was telling him no. It wasn't that she didn't want it. Quite the opposite, in fact. She was breathless and trembling and there was an ache in her stomach -- a need worse than hunger that she had been ignoring. It burned like the dance of flames in the hearth, was just as consuming as fire.

Her body language was just as clear. She drew her knees together in the water and struggled to breathe evenly. Color blazed from her hairline to her chest. She shook her head again and cradled Raigryn’s face in her hands so he didn’t pull away. She spared one hand to talk to him.

We need to talk. Signing it felt just as bad as if it had been spoken. Not now. Tomorrow. Tonight I want…

What? What do I want?

She wanted to be in a state of mind where she could have let this go where she so badly wanted it to go. She wanted that connection, that certainty back.

But those were thoughts she didn't entertain because there was a terrible, heavy weight on her chest. Fife might have wanted him terribly, but she didn’t want to think back on this with regret. She hardly knew what she was doing, but she knew it would never sit right with her conscience.

A tentative smile tugged at the corners of her lips, but her eyes were filled with an apology. Her hand nervously adjusted the loose hair hanging over his brow.

Tonight I want to be with you. Simple.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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His shuddering breath tumbled hot and heavy from his lips. It took more than a few heartbeats for her explanation to sink in. It did make sense. Inside his head he turned those signs into spoken words, reshaping them and replaying them until they made sense.

Raigryn slowly nodded his head. There was a flash of regret, but also the slow dawning of understanding. It took a lot of focus just to bring his breathing to an even keel.

He understood at the surface level, but not what lived beneath the picture he saw. Empathy was as much an art as a science. Seeing the colours of a painting was not seeing the intention of the brush old holder.

"Whatever you need," he said softly. "I probably...got ahead of myself," he added, if only to to make it feel like a shared responsibility to take their time.

He smiled faintly, drew in a deep breath through his nose and pressed his forehead to her temple. As he breathed back out trembling fingers reached for the comb to finish the work.
 
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Fife

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She saw the cogs turning, the slow nod as understanding sank in. Fife felt guilty, if only for a moment before her mind dismissed the notion. Raigryn had never once pressured her for anything; if there was anyone she expected to understand that there were hangups he could not see and respect her boundaries, it was him. He had been her champion more than herself at times.

Whatever you need. She smiled, but on its heels was a partial shift of the burden of guilt. As if this was his fault. Fife shook her head.

No. I miss you. I want… She somehow blushed more and simply gestured between them to try conveying that which had no sign. You. Us. This. Not right now. After talk. I'm sorry.

It was definitely one of the moments where she wished she could have just said it. What she did say felt horribly simple and vague. For once, the complex thought was so clear in her mind. Perhaps she would write it out for him. That might be wiser than trying to fumble through the clunky and pragmatic Silent Way.

He picked up the comb to continue and Fife lifted her head once more. She felt small in the tub, breathless and frustrated and red from the heat and the heat. She was bubbling over with words she couldn't say and didn't want to. She was stuck between wanting to indulge in kisses and wanting to keep her distance, between feeling the spark between them reignite and trying to take care that he didn't resent her.

It was uncomfortable in that resolute valley. Fife drew her knees back up to her chest and folded her arms over them.

Only one more night and then, once everything was on the table between them, he could decide if he still wanted her. Fife would not deceive him by pretending things were the same. For tonight, however, she would enjoy this -- the simple closeness, the draw of his fingers in her hair, the weight of his arm over her waist, the rhythm of his heart drawing her down into sleep.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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"I have missed us too," he said quietly as he ran the comb through her hair. Using his fingers he seperated the last of the knots to finish working them out. It was actually fairly easy when he hair was wet.

They were both frustrated, on more fronts than they had been a few minutes ago. Just one step forward and part of each of them wanted to take that momentum and run.

"In a way I was lucky. There were long periods of time when I wasn't aware enough to miss you. You didn't get that reprieve.

"A reprieve is like...a break in a punishment," he explained. Raigryn realised he couldn't remember the last time he had explained a word without being prompted.

He knew more than most the fallacy of looking to the past and hoping to recreate it. Things changed. He just hoped they wouldn't be so different he couldn't recognise them.

"You could practise your writing tomorrow when I'm getting my hair trimmed," he suggested as he stepped back away from her.
 
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Fife

Terrible Thief, Worse Empath
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Silence did not suit him, but he chose to answer her with something she had hoped for but hadn't wanted to hear. Fife was glad that he had not suffered alone all that time as she had. But it meant he had been through something she could not yet fathom. She didn't want to fathom it. Even as terrible as it had been to feel too much all at once, she wouldn't have made it without him as the driving force to her ambition. If she had lost touch with that feeling of needing him back, they would still be there.

Fife smiled over her shoulder when he finished and nodded in agreement to his suggestion. Yes. Writing it all down would probably be the easiest way to go about recounting the time and what she had done. That would be better than getting frustrated and crying, which she (annoyingly) seemed to do often these days. And if he was out, she would be afforded a measure of privacy for the expected emotions associated with the process.

Having had a good soak while having her hair brushed and wanting him to enjoy the water while it was still warm, Fife carefully stepped out of the tub. Her dark hair was plastered to her shoulders and neck and a small puddle formed where she stood. She politely kept her back to him as she patted herself dry and wrapped the towel securely around herself. It would be cruel to taunt him.

The small woman only turned her attention to Raigryn when she was covered. Doing so, she pointed sternly to the bar of soap, then the tub.

Bathe. Be in the water a long time. It is nice. She was bossy, but smiled as she turned toward one of the bedrooms to go dress.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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Raigryn was perfectly capable of making matters worse for himself by following her with his eyes and letting his imagination go for a small jaunt.

Her request was sinking in as he undressed and stepped into the warm water. She needed to talk things through. Perhaps she needed nothing more than to clear the air and to reestablish where they stood with one another.

Raigryn plunged down into the water, reemerging with his hair plastered to his face. That felt good.

Fife had risked her life for him and she still clearly had feelings for him. It was hard to feel too much fear when those things still held true.

She wanted him to soak, but he went to scrubbing himself quickly. He wanted to get the road grime out of his skin and start tomorrow feeling fresh and ready.
 
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Fife

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Fife did not hurry to get into her night clothes. The quiet sounds of the water let her know that she had plenty of time. Besides, what was the rush here? She and Raigryn had all the time in the world. The only real concern that urged her to hurry was the slight chill of the air.

Winter was giving way into spring. A whole season had passed them by in the clutches of strangers, but they hadn't been able to keep them. The thought eased any worries she had for the night. Though, her hand did run up her arm, tracing the gentle ridges of her scar as her mind took a brief sojourn through her recent fears.

Fife shook her head and dispelled the ideas as easily as they came with finality. No one was taking him out of her arms tonight. Of that she could be sure.

Returning to the main room, Fife cast Raigryn a smile as she passed him on her way to the mirror. Dressed in a nightshirt that fit her loose enough that it could have been Raigryn's (if someone surmised correctly), she lifted in her tiptoes to view her reflection as she deftly pulled her hair back into one of her usual braids. Weeks on weeks of practice had improved what had been an early skill when they had left the Idemni.

Her reflection was still a stranger, but a clean one. Fife settled back onto her heels once more with a smile to herself and turned promptly on the ball of a foot.

Your hair is white, she teased as she walked around the tub toward the bedroom doorway. It was, of course, much darker when it was wet, but she meant he was already cleaner. Do you need anything?

Fife paused beside the tub, her hands going to her sides and freed of the occupation of speech for the time being. She had every intent of going to lie down, and she had a terrible habit of falling asleep when she did so. It was only fair that she make sure he was set and comfortable before she did. Pity that he did not also have lovely long hair for her to comb and repay a chaste favor. She fought a grin as she glanced at his beard and resisted a playful suggestion. That, she well knew, would put her far too close for comfort -- and the bath would not be cold for a while yet.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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That felt like a question that could have been answered in any number of ways. How many things did he need? The list was quite long. Most of all he wanted safety and time. He wouldn't stop looking over his shoulder for some time now, but they were getting there.

Right now he was glad just to see her smile a little. He knew that she was still more on egde than he was, so it was good to see her enjoy a moment of simple relaxtion.

"I think I will get out of our grime," he mused. "Did you...want seperate rooms tonight?" he asked. He might as well have asked how simple she wanted life to be. He could have promised restraint in detail, but given he'd already agreed to her request he assumed that wasn't necessary.

Unless she figured he had forgotten already. Which seemed distinctly possible as he watched her hands.
 
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