Who

Tallel, Echo

What

Finally Echo seeks out her cousin to talk after Tallel learned the truth about her recent activities.

Discussion of sexual themes

When

It is afternoon of the first day of the twelfth month of the twelfth turn of the 12th pass.

Where

Tallel & Willimina’s Yurt, Igen Weyr

OOC Date 09 Jan 2018 05:00

 

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“I think we need to talk.”


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Tallel & Willimina’s Yurt

Unlike the outside of this dwelling, the inside of this round tent puts the bolder, more flamboyant side of Tallel's Zingari roots on display, though it's now been augmented by all that the rest of his family brings to it. While simple in layout, there is nothing simple at all about the intricate weave of the rugs thrown down upon the light, portable wooden slat-work spanning collapsible frames. Deep wine red is the most commonly found hue, though gold, green, and silver are found as well in the hangings that drape the tent walls at even intervals. A low, wide table to the left of the hanging door serves as Tallel's primary workspace for grinding herbs and mixing medicines, while another one further off to the right - round, this time - is laden with wood and steel serving ware and makes up a small dining area. Cushions lay around the yurt in abundance for sitting, the largest pile of which obscures the low mattress on which he and Willimina sleep. Nearby, a couple of folding dividers fashioned of woven reeds and silk partition off the beds their children sleep in. A few braziers for incense and candles, as well as some round reed glowbaskets, hang about the ceiling, which tapers up to a vent that can be shut against the weather but is wide enough to give a nice view of the night sky in the evenings.


Tallel has been somewhat taciturn during his morning shifts in the healing tent over the past day or so - something worth noting when he’s normally soft-spoken for the sake of his patients. To the other healers, he hasn’t been as conversational as usual, seeming quite involved in his own thoughts. Still, he’d been amiable enough, cracked a quip here and there, and been a seemingly steady presence, if an intensely pensive one at times.

Now that he’s done and washed and fed, the caravan second is at home but still working, in his way. There are always medicines to be ground and mixed for restocking in both the healers’ tent and in personal supplies, his own included. It affords him an abundance of quiet time to continue trying to wrap his head around what has happened with Echo, what she’s decided to immerse herself in…and how he’s ever going to be able to speak to her again as well as how exactly he’s going to handle Milosh. Working with mortar and pestle is a good, mindless sort of grounding while he ponders, followed by the exacting measurements of the resulting powders into their respective containers or other vessels for mixing. He sits at his worktable off to the left of his open door, facing away, his lean-muscled frame folded down onto a thick cushion with a waterskin readily available to his right and sipped from frequently.

Steeling herself for this next encounter, the most important of this day of revelations, Echo makes her way from Milosh’s wagon directly to the Leaders’ yurt near the central fire. She feels strangely exposed, the collar gone from her neck, but her hands are balled into fists of determination at her side, shoulders back and head up. She is taking long drawn out breaths to calm her mind for what she knows is going to be an exceedingly uncomfortable conversation with her cousin. When she comes up to the yurt and sees that the door is open, she peeks in carefully, clearing her throat loudly to announce her presence seeing her cousin, thankfully alone, at work within. “Tallel?” She calls tentatively, “I think we need to talk.”

The clearing of a throat from the direction of his doorway brings Tallel’s head up, but it’s the sound of Echo’s voice that stills his hands. He hadn’t expected her to seek him out…which means she and Willimina must have run into one another.
There’s no way to account for this otherwise.

He isn’t ready.

Or perhaps he is and just needs to fast-track the buildup he’s been going through. He doesn’t turn right away, his gaze fixing on a jar of lavender as the bracing he needs to face this goes gradually taut. “Little cousin.” The low, quiet timbre of his voice seems to add another layer to his usual version of the moniker; there is much to be examine there, much to be turned over and examined. Swallowing into the hollow ache that’s decided to take up residence somewhere between his throat and his heart, he finally shifts, unfolding his legs and rising, tugging his vest to straighten it as he faces Echo. Shadows linger around tawny eyes that spark remotely with checked emotion, an indescribable sadness and resignation overarching all the rest of the emotions that swirl as a slow maelstrom within his gaze. “I think we do.”

Echo winces visibly when he uses that particular moniker for her. She didn't get an invitation to come in but this is definitely not a conversation that needs to be had standing in an open doorway. So she strides closer, steps hesitant as she begins what she is here to say. “I ran into Willa in the Bazaar today. She told me that she understood the significance of…” She pauses for a moment to try and put it the most delicately she can, “a certain piece of jewelry I wore when we had dinner here that night. She also told me that she told you it’s significance.” Here she pauses to swallow a bit, urging some moisture into her very dry mouth. Then she continues because she really wants to get as much out as quickly as possible.

“I am truly sorry you had to find out about that, but especially in that way. I had no idea anyone might know what it meant. And before you ask, as I’ve already told your wife, I am completely willing in this. In a way, I initiated it. I was..” and here she cringes a little bit again, “I was tired of not knowing what it was to be with a man. And so I sought someone experienced, someone professional, for my first time, Milosh specifically. Afterwards, we talked, he noticed how much I struggled with my anxiety, and he suggested something that could help me with that.” having been stepping forward through this entire diatribe, she now finds herself right in front of him, “And it has helped, more than anything I’ve tried before. I know it’s a strange concept to wrap your head around, but it actually works.” Shrugging her shoulders, she sighs a little bit, looking in his face for any indication as to if her words are getting through to him.

“Collar.” Tallel names the thing she dances around plainly, the sparking in his eyes flaring angrily. “It’s a collar. The same as any owned animal wears.” And no matter what its source or reason, he can’t help but be repelled by it. At least he doesn’t see it on her now. “How long did you let your blood cool before making that decision? You’ve had a knack for being practical, Echo, and no matter what I’d hoped for you, I wouldn’t have judged you for seeking out your first time with an escort. But a dominant, who decides in the afterglow that he must add you to what I’m sure is a very long list of others he’s decided he has a right to claim…”

Gritting his teeth, Tallel scrubs at his face until he’s certain his head isn’t going to explode. “No. I understand none of it. I can’t understand it. You didn’t even try to take me up on the offer I made about helping with your anxiety, and I’m sure you probably never will now because the prospect of covering it over with lust is always going to seem more enticing. It is more powerful than any medicine I can make…and it only covers it up for a time. There is no freedom from it until you look it in the eye and stare it down, and only you have the strength to do it. No one else can do it for you.”

He shakes his head slowly, over-brightness coming unbidden to his eyes, and he has to grit his teeth again to keep it at bay until he can speak again. “There’s an even higher level, you know. Than what you think you’ve found. You might think this is helpful, but it has no substance. No constancy. Imagine, cousin, finding someone who would see what you’re dealing with and instead of saying, ‘If you do what I say, this will help,” says, ‘Let me be there with you, be there for you through all the highs and lows, help you overcome it, side by side.’ There’s the shallow word of someone who can never truly care about you and might cast you aside on a whim…and compared to the beautiful strength and passion and healing you can find with someone who is yours and yours alone, it’s…cold. Empty.”

His gaze drops, his shoulders dropping slightly as though weighted. “That is what I’d hoped for you. What I’d hoped might be on your horizon when you said you wanted to come here. But you’ve made your choice, willingly let some whore of a man cast his shadow over you without a care for what it might do to the hearts of your family…and you are a grown woman, as you’ve insisted before. Your actions are yours and so are your consequences.” His eyes come up once more, and it’s clear he hasn’t been entirely able to curb the moisture in his eyes; one tear has slipped free to leave a thin, damp trial down his left cheek. “But if I ever see that collar again, or any evidence that he’s hurt you or marked you, I will take it out of his hide. Do what you want out of sight, but I refuse to see my own blood subjugated before my eyes. I’ve dealt with far too much in the past few Turns to stand for it.”

Echo takes in everything that her cousin is saying, his words bringing with them floods of different emotions that she can't even name. She forces her hands to relax from their fists, flexing them to try and get the blood circulating again in her fingers. She flinches when he gets to certain parts, but she is resolved to hear him out until the end. When he looks at her though, with that one tear trail running down his cheek, she can feel her own eyes begin to fill.

“I really wish you could understand one thing about this. It's the one thing I have found for myself that works. And you say it's cold and empty but I wish I could show you what it is from my perspective, it’s transformative and liberating. It's does have substance, I don't care what you say. The work we do together it’s…well, it's been healing for me, in a much deeper way than anything I have tried. Yes I didn't take you up on your offer to give me something for my anxiety, but really wouldn't that just be another crutch? What I get out of my time with Milosh is therapeutic, he is helping me be the best me. I am really sorry you seem to have trouble believing it but it's true. I’m no longer fighting with myself for control. It's been so long that I didn't even realize I could live like that. And this isn't romance for me, cousin. It's not like he’d love me, I know that, actually it was made quite explicit before anything was agreed to. It's probably not going to be a forever thing, but it isn't less or shallow because of that. It's not lust fueling this, it's my desire to be better, to overcome my own personal trials. And only I get to say what that looks like.”

Pinching the bridge of her nose as if that will somehow keep the tears from spilling over, but she is apparently too late because they are already making their way down her cheeks. Wrapping her arms around herself, as if holding herself together, Echo sighs loudly. “You are my blood, my heart aches to see the distress I’ve caused in you, and because of that, I will be more discreet in this. But I will not censor the work I am doing with Milosh, so if you inadvertently see some proof of our associations, I just ask you to please reconsider taking it out on Milosh, he’s just trying to help. If you need to take it out of someone's hide, take it out of mine, because it is my decision to submit to him so the punishment should also be mine.” Her voice is strangely steady as she tries to ignore the streams of tears falling from her eyes.

Tallel is very still as he listens to Echo’s counter, trying to take it in to wherever it needs to go in his mind to help his understanding…or at the very least, his acceptance. But it is nothing that can happen with immediacy; only time with it will tell if he can make some sort of peace with it. At least she recognizes that it’s a crutch, he thinks. The one thing he can accept, at least, is that it is her say, and only hers, no matter how twisted he believes her way of dealing with things might be. To that, his head bobs subtly in acknowledgment.

When her tears escape as well, he doesn’t attempt to hold any of his own back further, a slow trickle for the moment. He listens through to her last…but that last sentence has his eyes rounding wide. Stung, he can only find his words in a rough, emotion-thickened rasp. “Punishment? Where is that thinking coming from? Do you honestly believe, after all I’ve just said, that I would even consider lifting a hand to you, Echo?” A number of other things he could add ricochet around in his head but don’t settle anywhere near his tongue, leaving him staring at her, stricken, for a long moment.

“Remember that I am a healer, cousin,” he finally manages as his vision blurs with another upwelling, swallowing over a painful lump in his throat. “I can no more curb my instinct to mend a wound or ease visible pain than you can step away from your beloved runners. There are few things worse than feeling helpless to do anything about it…and few things more confusing than those who let themselves be hurt.” He looks at her for a long stretch, studying her as best he can through his tears, and then finally takes a slow, heavy step back, a movement as symbolic as it is literal. “That’s it, then. There’s nothing more I can say, and certainly nothing I can do except…remain your cousin. Maybe, someday…I can accept what I’ve learned. But it will not happen quickly.”

Echo’s eyes search her cousin’s face for any hint that her words might be getting through to him. When she sees Tallel nod slightly, it bolsters something in her, letting her believe with time, he may be able to work past this.
When he rails though at her use of the term punishment, she winces slightly at his rough voice and shrugs her shoulders. “I don't know what to think cousin, with you talking about taking something out on someone without serious provocation. So I am as surprised as you in that respect.”. She starts to regain some control over herself, tears spent, now drying on her red and blotchy cheeks. She reaches up and wipes at them with one balled fist, scrubbing away at the remnants of her emotions.

As he explains his motivations from the view of a healer, she nods emphatically at his comparison of their own natures, showing her understanding. When he brings an air of finality to their meeting, she bows her head slightly in his direction. “And that is good enough for me, I won't ask any more of you.” And with one final look in Tallel's face, Echo turns and takes her leave, unsettled but relieved that this conversation, which was necessary, is now over.

Tallel doesn’t try to explain further; he’d done so and either had the point missed or misunderstood, which at this point doesn’t feel out of place to him. He remains where he is as he watches Echo leave, drained and left with that lingering ache in his chest that he knows won’t go away for a while to come. Will he truly be able to work past this? He isn’t entirely sure. Nor is he sure that things can ever be the same between him and his cousin again.

Perhaps, he thinks, they never truly knew one another in the first place…and that possibility is another ache all unto itself.

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