Day 014: Accidents Happen
Summary: Rinnan and Arlin experience a terrifying and unexpected outbreak of the Feels.
Date: 2016-05-25-29 (Yeah, it took a while to finish)
Related: This log is a continuation of Horse: 3, People: 0
Rinnan Arlin 

Village Center - Coesbur
The village of Coesbur is a middling-sized settlement of the Trikru clan. It has two major entry points, both of which funnel into the village center. The first entry point is from the west, and is across the Coesbur Bridge which stretches over one of the branches of the divided Potomac. The other entry point is from the east, and provides a direct route to the road to Polis. The village center is really nothing more than a large dirt courtyard surrounded by a variety of structures. While most of these are Grounder-built, there is one that survived the apocalypse. It is a tall, octagon-shaped stone building made of brown and red brick. It's roof is domed, and made of tarnished, greened copper with inlays of colored glass. Broad, white steps lead up to the two-door-wide entrance to the building.
Day 14

Time was, if you went the long way around the stables and went a certain number of hazy steps you'd end up near a shed that was comfortably removed from the seat. And if that didn't satisfy your anti-social needs, you could climb all the way up into the tree that loomed over the shed and make every adult looking for you even more angry that you didn't come home to eat the food they didn't have to feed you because now, you're also up this fucking tree.

Good news, the shed is still there but the path is blocked by a semi-attempt at a fence that seems to have been given up on. It's still something Rinnan has to hop over, which she does in a small, graceful bounce even as she's charging for the tree and the shed. The tree is still there, more grown out and shaggier than ever— so much so that it's sorta overtaken the shed and half knocked it down.

Her hop over the fence provides the awareness that she's being followed by Arlin. She frowns sourly at his witnessing of this moment but at least her feet slow her down. Perhaps seeing something like sense in the pointlessness of this all. Women.

Odds are that the sound of Arlin's approach would be heard even were he trying to be stealthy. Perhaps that heavy-footedness is just another way he takes up space and asserts his right to exist. He's unhurried, though, perhaps in no rush to walk into whatever he dreads he might be walking into. His bounce over the fence isn't graceful. It's agile and solid — THUD — heralded by the sound of boots reunited with the ground, and followed by crunchy steps that slightly increase in amplitude as the distance between the man and Rinnan slowly shrinks. And whether he remains outside of striking distance because he's respecting her personal space or because he's angling to avoid being struck is something for the woman to mull over, if she chooses.

Her feet slow and then stop, just short of the tree/shed combo. Her hands on her hips, her head bowed to contemplate the ground, she just sort of stands there for a moment as Arlin draws closer but… wisely, not too close. The environs around them sway in their hazy bucolicness. The distant noise of farm animals and even Veks' kennel of barking dogs and a few villagers off in the fields, tending as they do. The background refuses to cooperate with the mood; if it takes a few plodding beats for Rinnan to gather herself.

Eventually, her head raises and she turns to face Arlin as her arms fold tightly across her chest. The angry strain in her face is still present but the rosy red spread of gathering storm clouds is lessening. "I'm regretting this decision," she informs Arlin, a brief moment stolen to suck angrily on her bottom teeth.

Yup. He'll stay put, wearing an expression somewhere between wary, weary, and worry. To a lesser extent, Arlin mirrors her body language, although the folding of his arms is looser, like he's settling in for something. "There are so many terrible decisions you could've made. Care to be more specific?" The smirk is faint but there.

Her gesture is wide, slightly sarcastic in its swipe. "Here. This. This shithole, again," she mutters, her weight shifting from one leg to the other. "These people from the sky couldn't just stay there," she indicts. "Or land in the Ice Nation." Her eyes finally shift towards his face, regarding him with an anger that's losing purchase and sinking into forloined annoyance. The delicate breeze of the countryside picks up a few loose strands of her brown hair and pushes them into her face; a brief shake trying to swing them back. "We can find a reason to go back to Polis," she informs him with an air that seems to already suppose that no, actually, they probably can't.

If one were to judge by the way Arlin's eyes narrow and he turns his head away ever so slightly to give Rinnan a bit of a side-eye, he's not following. For several moments, he simply looks at her before his tongue moistens his lips, the bottom one then lightly and briefly being taken betwixt teeth for a thoughtful gnaw. Finally, he simply asks, a bit befuddled, "Why /are/ you here?" Which soon enough smoothes into something amused. "This have to do with your massive crush on me?" Why else would she come here? Other than being ordered by the Commander, which also is a valid reason.

"Go blow a goat with your flipper arms." The anger crumbles out of its facade, a new kind of embarrassed grin replacing it for the ever turning merry-go-round of 'obviously it's because you want to do me'/'die in a fire, Arlin'. The locked impasse of her folded arms relaxes slightly as her shoulders rise and fall. Her eyes drift off Arlin's face for a moment, eyeing their surroundings in that permanently leery way a member of the active warrior community does. It also likely buys time. "I… was bored," she admits carefully, finally looking at him again. "It was this or chasing a rumor that Ice Nation was setting up something beyond the border."

Wait. What? That can't be right, can it? The man looks a smidge more surprised than incredulous because he can't recall a time she actually lied. That she chose to come here, maybe really because /he/ was sent here, instead of indulging in her borderhate would surely prompt a smug smirk, if he weren't so taken aback by its possible veracity. Congratulations, Rinnan. You've just won a momentarily flustered Arlin. "Really?" Interesting. Very interesting. Throat-clearing interesting. Lips are licked again the way they are when he feels a certain kind of anxious. Then, again, with the neck and shoulder roll, before fi-i-i-nally the smug smirk surfaces. "Well, I'll do my best to entertain you, even if there are no goats to be found." He even waggles his brows, twice.

Her hand shoots out to push against his shoulder as she lets out an ucking groan. "…don't be gross," she informs him with that same bashful grin. "And… really," she continues, haltingly as her arms remain out of the self-tie. She shrugs sheepishly, another scan of the horizon for the ever possible Ice Nation infidel before her hands come to rest on her hips. "I didn't… want…," she plods, the words dragged through a molasses of word reluctance. "Just… like-," she muddles and then stops, eyeing him through a half-lidded squint. "You're stupid. You'll get yourself killed. It's better that I'm here." Obviously.

Don't be gross? She's the one who started it. He simply is the one who's ending it with a shit-eating grin. Palm meets shoulder, and the man is meaty enough to not be so easily moved, but he nonetheless retreats a few steps in this, one of their many dances. Perhaps because it takes him out of striking range when he quips, "I'm not the one with the goat fetish. I can fake the flippers you love so much, though." Case in point, he raises his hands, fingers flushed so tightly against each other that no light seeps through them in the flat planes they create. And, of course, that insufferably smug way he's smiling. "It's the least I can do for all the times you've saved my hide and will continue to save my hide." Which could easily come across as HA, HA, YOU CARE ABOUT ME if not for a flicker of gratitude in Arlin's otherwise mirthful eyes.

Okay. Let's be honest: it still comes across as HA, HA, YOU CARE ABOUT ME, even if there's more to it.

"I'll be sure to mention your flipper fetish when I find you a local wife," she informs him with a snort, but her return gaze has that steadfast flicker of something genuine lurking behind all the tasteless dirty jokes. She lets out a sigh, her shoulders deflating as her gaze runs past Arlin's gloating shoulder to the dog kennel in the distance. "I brought up your dad and started it," she acknowledges with a frown, as her gaze ticks back to Arlin himself. "That was unfortunate of me."

If she wanted to slap that smug look off his his face, her words just did it far better than any striking palm could. The tightness is back around his eyes, the green and brown and gold bleeding into each other as several emotions do the same. "Would've happened sooner or later." Of this, he sounds certain. It simply is what it is, and he's as prepared for it as he can be. The chips will fall where they will. Perhaps Fortuna will favor him for once. Rinnan's here, so Arlin's off to a good start, even if he wouldn't dare consider something so sappy. Whatever her regret, though, he harbors no grudge. In fact, he advances to wring his arm around her neck to tuck her into a friendly headbutt. "S'fine."

"Now, what I find unfortunate is how you handled your own shit. You wanna explain what that was back there?" He's sure she doesn't. Pretty sure, anyway. He might not put it past her to open up just to spite him. The thought of it makes him shift a bit, mildly stretching his neck and rolling his shoulders, even as he seeks to still hold Rinnan close. Arlin would be so much more comfortable if her guts were literally spilling out as opposed to her metaphorically pouring them out. He actually knows how to handle the first scenario, LIKE A BOSS. Yet, here he is, asking all the same.

There was a time when her guts were semi-spilling out of her. Okay, demi-spilling? Okay, it was an arrowhead in her arm but in the retelling of it all, the Ice Nation offender wasn't a sneaky child who had fired from a foxhole but a 6' 7" goon with a face full of kill marks who had gutted her in one easy flick of the wrist. Blood. Blood. Blood everywhere. Rinnan begging for Arlin to just kill her. But in his medical might, he put her organs back in with his own bare hands and then rubbed dirt on her and she got up and slaughtered 99.

True story. Yep. Some real medic hero shit there.

She folds into his unserious headlock and sighs out a relenting surrender before one of her hands snakes up and twists down on a nipple through his shirt. Slipping from the headlock, she grins a terrible grin at him and settles into a few paces away, making it more effort to bring a rebuttal. The weight of his question takes over her mood and Rinnan's fingers pick at the leftover scar on her arm from that arrow he once removed with a moody purse of the lips. "I lived with his family when I was here," she not very generously explains. "He doesn't remember me," she continues, pointing out the obvious.

A sharp hiss of breath through teeth results from that nipple twisting, and there's a flash of annoyance, as well as arousal, in Arlin's eyes, which now show a more pronounced halo of gold. And his face can't decide whether or not to express irritation or appreciation for the violent minx now out of arm's reach. The snort, however, sounds disgruntled.

"I remember." The girl abandoned by her mother and who was eventually abandoned by the people who decided to try being her new family. Arlin certainly was of no use to the distraught wild child that had been Rinnan, for she was given away to traders around the time his father was being hauled off to be executed in Tondc. Memories that certainly sting more than the wounded nipple he's rubbing. (To ease the soreness. Honest. It would look different if he were rubbing for other reasons.) "Still doesn't explain what happened back there. /You/ could've spoken up. Still can, if it matters at all to you." Which, it would seem, does. "I'll hold him down while you try to jog his memory," with her fists, "if you want." Because that's what friends do.

Watching him rub at his nipple wound, Rinnan's eyes roll slightly at his dramatics even as she pitches him a brief shiteating grin for his pain. It also allows further bob and weave on the nature of why she didn't point out her identity to Veks. Her weight shifts from one hip to the other again, one arm falling to her side as the other catches the sway one hip. Her gaze admires the ground as she contemplates her response, her hair slipping over one shoulder and caught by the breeze, briefly blows into her face.

"What's the point?," she asks, tossing her hair back over her shoulder and then offering him a dispassionate shrug. "It was a long time ago and it'll just bring up the fire." Her head shakes its head briefly in personal rejection of said 'fire'. "What use is an apology?," she smirks, already in obvious rejection of the utility of getting one. "And what about the way he is gives you the idea that he's sorry? He believes it, prolly. Enough people are going to be minding the fires and the grain stores now that I'm back without him. Fuck him," she concludes with a brusk, irritated dismissal.

Like two peas in a pod, aren't they? Both outcasts casted in the long shadows of suspicion. Arlin never asked if she did burn down the grain store, nor is he going to ask now. "The fire'll come up sooner or later." It's not unsympathetic per se, but any sympathy he may feel is sidelined by brutal realism. He'll have her back, like he always has, but he's not about to have any semblance of a soul bearing, heart-to-heart conversation about it. Rinnan will simply have to settle for unspoken empathy.

"Protest too much, you doth, me thinks." Yes, he incorrectly used doth. He also doesn't care. Shrugging, now that he's stopped rubbing his nipple, Arlin simply tells her, "Must be some use to it. You wouldn't be so butthurt if there weren't. No idea whether or not you'll get that apology, but that's kinda secondary." Isn't it? Yes. So says the man's needling sagacity. "If you want it, try to get it. If you don't want it badly enough to try, then suck it up, buttercup, and move on. But if you think me fucking him will help, I'm willing to help out." How benevolently impudent of him. Why, look at that all-too-self-satisfied grin.

Something sparks in her expression. Immediate. Bloodless.

…which probably makes the momentary furiosity of her anger even more terrifying. Or maybe not at all, since he's seen that look a few times. But usually with someone else's blood on her face. With her face all clean and sweet looking like she's halfway to civilized or something, that's maybe different. The look sparks and then blows away on the wind like it was never there

"Fuck him if you want to," she states with a dispassionate, if entirely forced indifference that she rounds out with scratchy, hard swallow and a lifeless shrug. The lady doth protest too much and the lord doth hit a nerve. Who knew she had nerves like this to hit? Maybe not even she.

She lopes away but only a few paces, coming to rest her backside against the fence that abruptly ends. Her left leg bends at the knee, the sole of her shoe taking a perch on the lower rung of the fence. Her arms stretch out besides her, one hand on the fence line as she looks at Arlin with a grimace that mimics a mouth full of marbles. "I was trash. They threw me away," she states, not to put too fine a point on it or anything.

Yes, Arlin's seen that look. He's also seen what happens to people on the receiving end of it. Those hazel eyes of his widen a touch before settling into some something weary and wary and ever-ready. He doesn't want to throw down, but he will. However, Rinnan probably is also closer to him than anyone other than his family (and one can read into that and their friendly bickering and what that might reveal about the medic's character and sense of self), so he's visibly relieved when the prospect of violence is momentarily shelved. Then, he fluffs up a little, because bravado.

When he's granted permission to fuck Veks, the man snorts. "He stinks of horse." Which might well honestly be reason enough to not be interested. "Besides, I'd hate to trigger your jealousy and ruin your shot at being family again." Arlin smiles the smile of a man who knows he's probably going to be told to feed a tree or find a goat or any other three dozen plus things Rinnan has been known to tell him when he acts like he knows she totally has the hots for him.

It sobers, though, into something more rueful, thus emotionally uncomfortable, when she talks about being thrown away. For a moment, Arlin considers, a little furrowed at the brow, pained in the eyes, and crumpled at the mouth. She needs comforting, and he's the sort who actually cares, as well as the sort to actually do something about it. "Well, I'd tell you something about one man's trash being another man's treasure, but we both know my feelings about it don't mean shit." There's something rueful to it, but it doesn't linger. Whether he trusts she values him enough to not maul him in non-sexy ways, or it's because he values her enough to risk it, the medic is closing the distance. Sighing a little, he offers, "Look, all I can really tell you is to give it a shot. If it works out, great. If it doesn't, then he's an idiot and you're better off without him in your life."

She doesn't tell him to commit lewd acts with a tree, a goat, an anthill, or even Saedra, the only sliiiiightly mutated camp whore. (An excellent story that one. So good.) She doesn't punch him in the face, the throat, the shoulders, the arms, the kidneys, or the stomach. She doesn't even feint threatening to punch him in the balls, which she's never gone through with because some things are just sacred. She doesn't pull away or run. She doesn't even crack a smile for his attempt at equating Veks to smelling like a horse, noble attempt as it was. She does nothing but watch him as he approaches, her gaze not even that wary even if he's not generally this close to her most of the time for reasons that don't start with 'this one time we were fighting and…' or ends with '…and that's how Arlin cauterized that spear wound.'

She's busy instead watching him wear this uncomfortably felt rueful expression. The corners of her mouth tug downward in a sympathetic mirror of the trouble roiling through his expression for this rarely explored subject. "Yeah," she states in anemic agreement for his sage words, her head nodding just a little even as she's watching him watch her. Her throat clears with a light tic, the international symbol for subject changes ahoy.

"You're good to me," she values quietly, a thousand record player needles scraaaaaatching off their 45s for the subject change that doesn't in fact follow. "We'll get through this. And then move on to some of other place," she games out, a mutual psyching up for the days ahead.

It's true that he's good to her. Even if she sometimes finds him insufferable, with his smug humor and incorrigible flirting and whatever else annoys her because it's a day of the week ending in a 'y'. None of which surfaces when she compliments him. If anything, Arlin looks vaguely melancholy and a little uncomfortable despite the gratitude that floods his face. Such tends to be the way of things when most people treat you like something that needs to be scraped off the sole of their boot. Or they blow smoke up your ass because they're hoping that might somehow get them in good with the Heda. Perhaps it's not at all surprising that he and Rinnan interlock in the manner they do.

Which probably means she expects him to clear his throat, which he does, as if that will somehow dislodge the tiny knot at the hollow. "Yeah, well," Arlin says, finally shaking it off, "you've saved my ass how many times?" As if that's the sole reason. They both know that's not true (the sole reason bit, not the ass saving one), but does he ever try to sell it with an amused smile. "And, yeah. We will." Get through it. "Because we're awesome." FACT. Just look at his beaming swagger.

"Speaking of places… where're you shackin' up?" There's no 'hey, baby' to it because Arlin is actually capable of handling business before pleasure. "I'm crashin' at Que's — the maker," in case she doesn't remember the guy. "It's tight quarters, but I won't stab you or try to smother you in your sleep." A bit of gallows humor there, for Rinnan's not the only one with reasons to anticipate trouble.

"Six hundred and twenty one…," Rinnan exacts solemnly before her quietly kicked dog of an expression cracks open for a smirk to shine through as she looks at him. The number of times she's saved his ass is proooooobably just a few times less. Just a few. She licks her lips lightly, the top edge of her upper lip scraped between her teeth in finish and shuffles awkwardly. All this unvarnished, real affection for each other and they're not even pinned down somewhere, certain of their death. Slipping. Definitely slipping in their advancing age.

"If there's space on the floor for a bed roll…," she elects with a slightly apprehensive look. "I mean, I know who Que is but I mean are you sure you don't want a room to yourself?," she asks, eyebrows raising at him a touch. If there's one thing that a warrior could sue for in their advancing age is the cushy notion of privacy. Four walls and a bed all to yourself: that's practically like being the Commander. She pushes off the fence rail, taking advantage of their closer than normal space. "I can just sleep in a tree if it comes to it," she advises, without nary a whiff of irony as someone who has slept in a tree.

She takes a step forward and then another and then suddenly her arms are moving outwards to Arlin's neck. But it's…so non-violent. Wait. Is she? Is she… going to hug him? "This feeling is… I… don't know how to… I can't stop-," she speaks in rapid clips of fading sardonic resistance. "OH ARLIN I FEEL SO CLOSE TO YOU NOW!," she states loudly, her arms wrapping themselves around his neck in a parody of swooning romance, not unlike the kind they've witnessed by traveling troupes of day players coming through larger villages and towns.

"I lost track when we hit triple digits," Arlin admits about the ass-saving tally. "Six-hundred and twenty-one, though." He ponders this, glibly pensive. "Sounds like I owe you at least one beer." Beat. "You'll have to settle for bedroll space, for the time being." Which suggests the room is large enough to accommodate her and that he doesn't mind the company. Lest this run the risk of getting too saccharine, he tacks on, "The trade-off's that anyone trying to kill me will trip over you first. But, hey, maybe you can indulge in your ankle fetish while your down there."

But, oh, then she's advancing, and then she's throwing her arms around him, and Arlin can't seem to decide whether or not to be suspicious, confused, or delighted. It's far from the first time someone's draped themselves over him, nor is it bound to be the last. Rinnan's certainly seen it happen from the sidelines. The way he smiles in an amused way, rests one hand on the small of the other person's back, generally not lingering long before heading further south to the Promised Land that is the posterior. She's seen the way his eyes lid as his other hand lifts to cup a cheek and drag a callused thumb across a lower lip. She's seen why he has no problem finding attractive people to go home with.

None of them were Rinnan, though. Confounding, delightful, sometimes frustrating Rinnan. So none of them saw him taken aback, flustered by their overtures. None of them ever saw him looking at them the way he's looking at her now — which she'll likely miss, busy as she is mock swooning. For the best, really. He'd undoubtedly be mortified if she glimpsed it, past the blustering humor, past the intrigue and doubt and wry suspicion. After all, she's joking, right? (It's surely safer to believe that than the alternative. The woman would likely agree, not really being one to show her tender underbelly either.)

And yet… AND YET he likes her being so close. So much so that his fingers start to cramp from a want of touching her jaw, her cheeks, her lips, her neck, her hair — and he sublimates that into wrapping his arms around her waist. That troubled expression resurfaces, and Arlin licks his lips before lightly biting the lower one, as if that will somehow bully away the want of pressing them against Rinnan's own. Somewhere, trapped within the fluttering in his chest that he's trying to beat down, the man appears to have lost his breath.

"Yeah, well…" Yeah. He's got nothing other than a throat to clear, and a brow to furrow and smooth out. "Swoon away." Swoon away? Really? "It's totally safe. No concussions on my watch." If only his smile weren't so awkward, maybe he could sell it. Maybe she'll find it endearing that he's somehow hoping that she'll be conned.

It was supposed to be a joke. Like all the other jokes between them. Like putting a very asleep Arlin's hand in a bowl of warm water? Joke! Like telling that super hot ginger girl in Tondc who was all over him that his hidden mutation was an octo-penis? Joke! Like paying that set of twins in Timore to play the same person until he slowly went insane? Haha! So good!

His five inches of height on her, she sort of half-hangs from his neck in her quest to be a jackwagon at least once a day, as is their mutual and agreed upon custom. The language of their friendship: personal ribbing, fierce protection of one another, and helping Arlin pick up hot people. And, really, is there such a thing as best friends in the apocalypse? Did society really just dispense with that kind of nonsense when all the teenage jewelry stores melted down into one big nickel plated clump and all that BFF 2 parts of 1 heart became a way less sentimental part of said clump? But if one has to apply a label to this? That's probably the closest one. Which is either a testament to their bond or a grand showcase to their mutually stunted social abilities.

And yet… this seems to be massively, royally, crazily backfiring on Rinnan in one adrenaline surging, loss of mooring moment. The shrill, ever present shriekbuzz of cicadas off in the trees is being replaced by the pulsing of blood in her ears as she stares right up at him. His mouth is moving, words coming out. Something about 'swoon'…? But what she's putting down in return for his efforts is an intensely focused on him if blanked out, thrown looking stare back. Somewhere in the back of her eyes, a mouse cowers in the corner of the expanding rictus of the cat before it.

There's an alien urge, an inexorable pull that wasn't there just a few moments ago to be close in return. She doesn't kiss… not so far as Arlin's seen and well, truth be told, he's seen quite a bit of Rinnan in various situations. In the few times he's ever seen her deviate from her standard protocol of sexual sublimation into remove, kissing didn't seem to be involved… even that one time when that tent door got left mistakenly left open and he saw… things. Sensualism thrown over for an almost aggressive, almost running start at the poor male counterpart selected for this rough and animalistic transaction. But. Here. Now. It's… different. And concerning. She lets go, suddenly, as if Arlin's made of lava and blinks up at him with a befuddled confound. What the the fuck?

For all intents and purposes, his palms might as well be blistered from holding her against his equally might as well be scalded chest. Hands up, eyes wide, mouth slightly agape in comedic misfortune. HE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK, BUT IT WAS AN ACCIDENT, OKAY? AN ACCIDENT. Instinctively, he reaches up to remove his beat-up U.S. Army Special Forces Ranger Airborne ball cap so he can rake the fingers of his other hand through his sweat-damp hair. Play it cool, Arlin. Play it cool.

With self-conscious vim, he clears his throat and makes a slightly sour face that oscillates in discomfort. "I'm, uh… I…" Seems whatever was lodged in his throat is still there, prompting further raspy noises and lips pressed in irritation. Meanwhile, Arlin keeps rolling and unrolling the brim of his cap, as he's wont to do when he's feeling bored or restless or anxious or testy. The thing's ancient, and it's a miracle that it hasn't snapped after so many years and so much abuse.

He starts again, or makes to, but the words don't come, just aborted noises that would prompt a laugh track in some shitty sitcom. And then his mouth hangs open like a dead fish for an uncomfortable (surely for the both of them) moment before he fi-i-i-i-inally manages to stammer out, "I— uh, I'm," one more throat clearing for good measure, "Your stuff. I'm gonna go move your stuff into Que's place. Our room." He winces, flinching from it, teeth bared and clenched for a tick, before stressing, "The room. Where— where we'll be staying. Unless— unless you…"

By this point, he's physically backpedaling and much as he verbally is, and he stumbles a bit when a bitchy piece of ground decides to trip him.

Rinnan has nothing to hold on to in this moment. Except Arlin. But that's how they got to this highly unsettling moment wherein the weird girl with the glasses takes off her glasses and lets down her hair and omg, secretly: she's so hot, you guys! Infinitely fuckable! Except this is the real world version of this where the question of actual and (and here's the rub ((haha? siiiigh))-) meaningful fuckability is before them and they retreat like freaked out rabbits. That's essentially life on emotional Mars: terror, all is fucking terror.

So instead, her hands lamely shove themselves into the pockets of pants which feel, like the rest of her clothes, suddenly repressive and tight. The scream of the cicadas along the treeline has gotten distractingly loud, on edge angry making. It's suddenly too hot and the breeze too breezy and Arlin is wringing at his cap, like its about to give off water at any moment. She shifts irritability in the heavy, uncomfortable slosh of the Emotional Swamp filling in like a bad swimming pool in the pit of her stomach. "Horse," she mutters with a vague nod. "Put away. The horse. Mine. Horse. That… horse who is…," she states vaguely, nodding with his plan of actions. Yes, Horse. We got it. The cicadas got it. It is known. "Our room," she agrees, the terminus of where her bed roll goes and a reconfirmation of the plan. As opposed to outside or the roof of the Seat or maybe back in Polis, where all is boredom, helping out in the 'family' trading stall, and the droning of upstart Guardians who live for their next chance to lick the very beatific and very special asscrack of the Heda in exchange for some kind of promotion.

Her feet carry her two slight paces back, in a prelude to looking busy. "I'll catch a rabbit for dinner," she adds in resolution, quietly. Far off, in the Kennel, the dogs can hear the beyond human frequency keening flail of her scrabbling around to hump this shitshow down the path to something like normalcy.

In all fairness, Rinnan was always hot and fuckable. Arlin wouldn't have made overtures over the past three years if that weren't the case. (Although, really, after the first half-dozen or so rejections, it then became a case of him joking unless she wanted him to be serious.) And life went on, and they ended up getting along, and somehow no one really notices that cancer is growing until there are visible signs. Which maybe isn't the most romantic metaphor for someone slowly permeating the cells of your being, but the alternative is a splinter under one's skin, which is more annoying than terrifying, and far easier to remove.

Although no longer sputtering, Arlin is very vigorously nodding his head in agreement to what Rinnan is saying, as he keeps wringing his cap and keeps making a slow backwards retreat. Yes. Horse. Fuck Horse. No, seriously, fuck that fucking horse named Horse. Just not literally. And what? Dinner? Rabbit? Yeah. That's sounds great. Better than great. The greatest of the great. Except that means eating together. Is that what she meant? Never mind. Never mind. It's all a good plan because it's anything other than this slow-motion train wreck of the feels. Let's not even get into her saying 'our' room. Nope.

"Sounds great. Better than great. The greatest of the great." Come on, Arlin. You can do a better job of trying to sell it. "So. Um. Yeah." With both hands, he points over his left shoulder, indicating the direction he's heading. Which may or may not actually be the direction of where Horse was last glared at. "I'm, uh." More gesturing with the pointing, his expression unsteady and distorted and yet so very emphatic. "Just— y-yeah." And then he's turning around, donning his cap, which he tugs down, and making a swift, but not so swift that his bravado gets lost along the way, retreat.

Rinnan nods. It's a solid, affirmative gesture. She nods to confirm. She nods to agree. She nods to nod with everything he says. Nodding. Can do. Was trained in the mysterious, spiritual practices of lifting one's head up and then down in agreeing fashion in her days as a Second. All this solid training sure is paying off now as she nods at Arlin with a blank, slightly poleaxed look as she watches him turn and walk away. She even manages to unsling a hand from a pocket and offer him a thumbs up. Her lips are pressed together with a violent resolve that offers little in the way of confirming remarks or any language at all.

She stands there, watching him leave with a controlled swiftness. Her mouth is a locked portal, even as the corners contort a little. /Nononopuppieskittensnonono/. It's a silent offloading list of all the things Rinnan likes. A mental focus to keep the sloshing Emotional Swamp from sloshing over. Stabbing someone. Stabbing someone in the ribs and feeling the ribs separate under your knife. The crackling, fatty bits of roasted deer. That first full body slide into a hot bath. Someone rubbing her head. Strawberry mead. Getting your stitches removed. Garroting someone with a thin wire. The crack of the spine under the hangman's rope. Early autumn blackberries. Orgasming hard-

Oh fuck. Betrayed by the list of a few of her very calming, favorite things— Swamp Breadbasket heaves upward. She turns around and shoves herself whole body behind the shed to wet heave the contents of her stomach up on to the ground. Welcome to Coesbur: Come For The Skaikru, Relive The Emotional Trauma of your Childhood.

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