StarCraft Main Hall
The vaulted Great Hall of StarCraft possesses a grandeur that belies its recent construction. Built to inspire the mind to look upward, smooth columns support the Gothic arches of the ceiling. The Hall runs on an East-West axis, with the heavy doors of the main office to the west. To the north and south other doors lead to various work areas. Staircases at the corners of the hall lead up to a balcony that wraps around the three sides of north, south, and west.
Cress is here.
Cress is sitting on the floor, his oldest firelizard in his lap, as he scritches the brown's eyeridge.
Linora pulls open the heavy door to let herself into the hall, a damp, chilly breeze following her. Moving without seeing, she doesn't notice Cress until she nearly walks into him. And she stops. Uncertain. Expressionless.
Cress looks up as he hears footsteps and notices someone almost walking into him, but doesn't recognize Linora at first glance. "Lin?" He would've smiled, if it wasn't for the look on her face.
Linora swallows. "Hi." She shifts uncomfortably, then sits on the bottom step of the staircase, chewing her bottom lip and wrapping her arms around herself. Her eyes are fixed on his hands, as he caresses 'Mute. Likes to watch his hands. Always has. "You're... still here."
Cress nods slowly, not really feeling the courage to look up at her again. "Yeah..." He was still here. And he knew the reason why too. She was sitting right beside him. Though that's not the reason he gives her, "it's winter now... Not the best time of the turn to go looking for someone." He had no idea where his family would be, and travelling the north at this time could be dangerous.
Linora nods. "Oh... thought you'd like to see the snow again." One hand nervously goes to the ends of her hair, twisting the damp tendril around her fingers. She's feeling the chill from the rain now... or maybe there's another reason she's shivering.
Cress turns his head, slightly to look at her, something in his eyes showing longing and fright. "I do... But I don't even know where they are," he says after some hesitation. They being his family, of course. And, of course, he hadn't talked with his mentor yet.
Linora looks up from Cress's hands and finds herself caught by his eyes. She chews her lip, not knowing what to say. Her own feelings are written all over her open face... longing, hurt, fear... but the words won't come. She drops her gaze to his hands again and manages a mumbled, "'Mute could prolly find them."
"You think?" Cress mumbles, looking back down at the brown. He wasn't sure if he wanted to send the lizard out to find his family, when he didn't even know where they were, and didn't have a clear image of them in his head anymore. "I'd still have to get to them... And it's prolly already snowing there now."
Linora swallows hard and reaches out... tentatively... to rest her hand on his. As much as it's breaking her heart to know he's leaving, she still hates to see him unhappy. "I dunno," she whispers. And she doesn't. "I just... " She pulls her hand back and curls in on herself, hugging her knees to her chest and dropping her head on her knees, damp hair flipping forward across her shoulders. "Why can't I make you happy?" Her tone is almost desperate, her voice a muffled whisper.
Cress isn't sure if he heard her right. Can't make him happy? Putting 'Mute away on his should, under protest from the brown, he's somewhat mute himself, not knowing what to say to that remark. "It's not you, Lin," he attempts, not looking at her, but staring out into the air. "It's me." Barely a whisper, that he's not even sure she'll pick up.
Linora lifts her head to look at him, not understanding, unable to find his eyes as he's staring off into space. Seeing... what? The cold places he misses? His family? "I don't know what to do," she whispers. Doesn't he know, can't he tell how much he means to her? "If you leave... when you leave," she corrects herself, hardly able to form the words, "how..." her voice breaks off completely now, the question unasked but written in her eyes. How can she stay here?
Cress swallow hard, then gets up from his seat, crossing his arms in front of him. How could /he/ stay here, when there was nothing for him, but Linora. "I dunno what to say, Lin. It's hard to explain..." He just couldn't stay here anymore. The open country was calling him. "I just can't stay here..."
Linora can't look at him. "I know," she whispers. "I kinda always knew you'd leave someday." Her arms are wrapped tightly around herself. "I just thought..." She chews on her lip. And swallows hard. And asks the question she's most afraid to hear the answer to. "Do I mean /anything/ to you?" Just a whisper.
Cress nods slowly, coming a step or to closer to her, "of course you do," he says, looking down at her as he lets his arms drop to his sides. He doesn't know where she'd get the idea that he /wanted/ to leave her. He knows he can't explain why it is that he feels the road means more though, so he keeps quiet on that subject.
Linora blinks, a relieved tear spilling down her cheek. "I... I'm trying to understand," she whispers, feeling hopelessly stupid. She looks up at him. "I can't work... I can't study... I feel like parta me's leaving with you." Really, like it's already gone.
Cress drops his chin to his chest, shaking his head. It was getting harder and harder for him to leave. "I can't help it Lin," he mumbles, and turns away from her again. "I'm just not a hold or hall person." He couldn't stay in one place for long and the time he'd spent here had been too long, and he was feeling restless.
There, he's turning away from her again. Linora /tries/ not to feel abandoned, really /tries/ not to take it personally... She swallows hard and turns his words over in her head. "I know," she says finally. Finally. She can't ask him to stay. She wouldn't anyhow. She gets to her feet, her arms still wrapped around herself, and starts for the door. Just before she reaches it, she turns back to look at him. "I can stay here... an' work, an' study and stuff... but it don't mean anything if I lose you." She looks at the floor. There. It's said. She can't think of any other way to tell him how she feels.
Hugging himself, Cress looks up from the floor, trying not to reveal too much emotion in his eyes. Probably better this way, anyhow. Might as well go pack his stuff now and go north. His family would come to Tillek eventually, he could wait for them there. He didn't believe her words though, he could see it in her eyes that she didn't mean what she said, but doesn't say anything. I would only make matters worse.
Linora waits in the silence for a long moment before she ventures a look up from the floor herself. Suddenly things look a /lot/ worse to her. She turns her own words over in her head now, trying to figure out what she said to make him look like that. Had she ever lied to him? Or even kept anything from him? Maybe she's had trouble expressing herself, but that's hardly the same thing. She swallows hard, her eyes fixed on his, pleading for him to understand her.
Having no grass to pick at, here in the Hall, Cress picks at his tunic instead, not being able to keep his fingers still. His eyes turning into a pleading look too, he attempts an explaination, "it's in my blood." So he already told her that before, if he remembers correctly, but that was the heart of the matter. "I can't /live/ in one place!"
Linora reaches for his hand, stopping the nervous fidgeting with a gentle squeeze, and steps a bit closer. "I'm not tryin' ta stop you," she whispers, looking for his eyes. She couldn't if she wanted to, she knows him better than that. "I just... " She drops her gaze, looking at her hand on his. "Maybe it's wrong." Really, nothing feels right just now... except being close to him.
"Wrong?" Cress repeat, having not thought at any point that it would be /wrong/ for him to leave. Just that he'd miss her terribly when he left. He look down at her, the look in his eyes turned from pleading to questioning. Why wronng?
Linora keeps staring at his hand in hers, not wanting to let go but knowing she'll have to. "For me to ask you... " She swallows hard, and when she speaks again, her voice is just a ragged whisper. "I don't want you to forget me." Bad enough he's leaving. She finds his eyes. "Even ifya don't want me with you..." her voice breaks, and trails off.
Want her with him! He'd never said anything about /not/ wanting her with him, but Cress belived that Linora loved it here and didn't want to leave. Turning his hand around in hers, he laces their fingers together, and looks her in the eye. "I'd love to have you with me," he whispers, then continues, "but I couldn't ask that of you...." Knowing that she grew up in a hold, and had never been out in the open country for a longer period of time. Plus she /belonged/ in the StarCraft.
Linora blinks, relieved tears filling her eyes and slipping down her cheeks. "I thought you didn't want me," she whispers, squeezing his hand in hers and stepping closer to him. That had hurt her more deeply than the idea of his leaving.
Cress shakes his head, swallowing a lump. "That's not it, Lin..." he mumbles, tearing his eyes off hers to look at the floor again. "I'm really sorry if I made it sound that way." He couldn't explain why the road had a deeper influence and pull on him, than his love for her. How could he explain that without hurting her further. "I love you," he whispers.
Linora reaches with her free hand to touch his cheek, looking for his eyes. "I love you, too," she whispers. She really can't remember a time when she didn't. "If I stay here, it'll prolly be another whole Turn 'fore I can make jman." That's if she really kills herself working at it. A whole Turn of missing him. A whole Turn of him traveling Pern, meeting new people... a whole Turn to forget about her.
Not knowing what to say next, Cress realeses her hand to put his arms around her, just standing there holding her. Nothing else to do, since he was lost for words.
Linora draws her arms tightly around him and lays her head on his shoulder. "Then I could do whatever I wanted... you think too much will change in a Turn?" The words are murmured into his chest.
Cress turns his head from side to side, giving the negative, though maybe he doesn't believe it fully. A lot had changed in the /last% turn, so why not the next? "I don't think so...." He puts his hands on her shoulders, pulling away from her to look her in the eye. "I /will/ be back," he says, his voice firm as he talks.
Linora is willing to believe Cress. She wants to believe that the way he feels about her won't change, just because she's not near him anymore. Needs to believe it. So she nods, letting her breath out in a slow sigh. Then she seems to remember something, and she reaches into her pack, coming out with a small, soft object. "I want you t'have this," she whispers, holding it out to him and looking into his eyes. "So you don't forget me and stuff."
You hand drawstring bag to Cress.
Discarded scraps of softened wherhide have been sewn together to make a little pouch, roughly the size of a man's hand. A blue ribbon is woven through slits in the bag's opening, drawn tight and tied in a bow.
"What's this," Cress says, holding the bag in his hands, looking from it and to Lin and back again, pulling at the strings to open it.
Cress opens drawstring bag.
Honey-blond with platinum highlights, this braid of human hair is coiled in a tight little bundle... but unwrapped to its full length spans probably 18 inches. The ends are tied with a bit of blue ribbon.
Linora shrugs lightly. "I wanted you t'have something... something you could see." She looks down at the floor, the fingers of one hand twisting the ends of her still-damp hair.
Cress nods slowly, having not really understood why she had cut off her hair, but hadn't wanted to ask her about it. "I would've remembered you anyway," he mumbles, touching the braid in the pouch with the tip of his fingers, then moving them to the hair still on her head. "I could never forget you..."
Really, that's all Linora ever wanted to know. "I'm gonna miss you so much," she whispers, closing her eyes at his touch. But she might even be okay, now that she believes he won't forget all about her.
Cress nods, looking her in the eye. "I'll miss ya too," he says, pushing a strand of her hair back behind her ear. He sighs, as his fingers fumble with the pouch, trying to get it closed again.
Cress closes drawstring bag.
Linora nods. "So... you already know where you're going? And when?" One hand comes up to wipe the tears from her cheeks, and she takes a long breath to compose herself.
Cress shrugs, lifting just one shoulder to show the movement. "Pretty much... My family will come to Tillek sometime during the winter, so I thought I'd wait for them there.." As to when he was leaving, he wasn't so sure. "I dunno when I'll be leaving," he mumbles, still fiddling with the bag between his hands.
Linora swallows. "It's a long way to Tillek," she says quietly, before she can think that maybe she shouldn't mention that. Of course, she'd known he would leave Ista Island. "Guess ya gotta talk t'Riina and stuff," she says thoughtfully, the details beginning to register in her mind now that she's recovered from her initial shock. One hand tugs absently at the ends of her hair.
Cress nods, "Yeah, I would," he says. Talk to Riina is what he means, of course. Sighing he grabs her hand, stopping the nervous motion of it, by squeezing it. "My family doesn't come this far south." An explaination as to why he had to go all the way to Tillek. "And they never cross the ocean..."
Linora blinks in surprise as Cress grabs her hand, turning big eyes to look at him. She nods, speechless, and swallows. A little smile comes to her face. "Guess I'm kinda lucky you did." Even if she never sees him again, the past Turn has been one she'll never forget. But she really hopes she /will/ see him again.
Cress smiles softly, holding her hand more loosely now. "Yeah, I was thinking the same thing," he whispers leaning in for a kiss.
Linora meets him halfway, her body pressed against his and her eyes closing as their lips meet. All her attention is focused on the way it feels to be right here, and right now. Her free arm loops around his neck, fingers sliding into his hair.
Cress doesn't pull back right away, as his arm comes around her back, feeling about for the hair that had always been there. Surprised at the fact that he /knew/ her hair was gone, but hadn't really acknowledge it completely till now, makes him pull back a little. "Why did you cut off your hair, Lin," he mumbles.
Linora drops her hand to his shoulder and looks up at him. And swallows. "Because I was sad, I guess... I dunno. I guess I thought it'd make me feel better or something." And it had... briefly. One hand comes up to tug at the ends of it again. "Do you... hate it?" Her voice trails off uncertainly.
Cress' eyes widen a bit, shocked that she'd think he'd hate /anything/ about her. "It's beautiful," he says, plucking at the ends a bit.
Linora smiles up at him, her first real smile in days. "Thanks," she whispers. "Diena did it." A little grin. "Well, she evened it out. She was kinda shocked."
Cress nods slowly. "It's different," he says, not unhappy with 'different'. Since he hadn't really seen her since her hair was cut off, he hadn't gotten completely used to it yet. "But I like it.."
Linora shrugs. "It grows fast." Why, if she leaves it alone, it'll be ... wait, she doesn't want to think about not seeing Cress for a whole Turn. Her smile fades a bit, and she forces herself to listen to his words, instead of thinking about the future. An uncertain topic at best. "I'm glad ya like it," she murmurs, reaching for his hand again.
Cress sighs, letting his hands fall to his sides, then draws them back up to fiddle with each other in front of his body, not really knowing what to say next.
Linora looks down at her own hand as Cress doesn't take it, then drops it to her side and stands looking at him. "I guess I oughta go... study or something." She manages a little smile as she takes a step back. "See you around and stuff?" There isn't any reason not to, is there?
Cress nods, raising his hand to touch her cheek, before letting it drop again. "I won't leave without saying.... Goodbye."
Goodbye. Linora swallows hard at the finality of the word, but she nods, her hand coming up to her cheek as if stung by his touch. Not knowing what else to say, she starts up the stairs to the dorms, backwards, one step at a time, until she can't look at him anymore, turning to half-run the rest of the way up the stairs.