Onari, Zhaine


(Backdated) Immediately follows Not Mistaken Identity. Zhaine tells Onari that he's been Searched. She convinces him to stick to it.


It is late night of the sixteenth day of the fourth month of the seventh turn of the 12th pass.


Onari's Wagon; Caravan Grounds, Igen Weyr

OOC Date 10 Mar 2016 07:00


Onari43.png zhaine03.jpg

"You absolutely can measure up."

Onari's Wagon

The smallest of the Reika wagons - since it's only for one person - Onari's is likely also the coziest, and not just because it's small. Her bed lies all the way at the back, thick pillows and blankets arranged neatly. Small cabinets hold food and other necessaries, while slightly larger ones hold leather and tools necessary for her trade. Hooks just inside the door hold tack for her runner, Gola, and some necessary implements (small whips, etc.) she uses to help her mother with the animals. Large slat windows on either side can be propped wide to let the air flow through, or latched firmly shut from within. Plenty of glowbaskets cast warm light about the wagon as needed in the darker hours, and Onari makes certain that any visitors have a good place to relax as evidenced by all the richly hued cushions she keeps about. It's a practical atmosphere, though with just enough of a feminine touch to make clear who lives here.


No stranger to work is this young woman, as evidenced by subtle musculature gained from a trader's life on the road - on foot and on runnerback. The strength in her 5'6 frame is well hidden by just enough feminine curvature to make it her least evident trait - pleasing to the eye, for certain, but not over-accentuated. A softly curious brown-eyed gaze dominates a face that would be quite oval were it not for the strong jaw and gently pointed chin it tapers to. Thin, tapering brows slanted inward might look severe were it not for the almost elfin nose and rounded cheekbones offsetting them. A sensually full-lipped mouth is often given to a broad smile that lights up her rosy-cheeked face, and long brown hair cascades in gentle waves over her shoulders to hang to about the middle of her back. Her beauty is understated but undeniable - almost out of place among such a rugged lot as the Reika. She is an adult of about 22.

Ruggedly handsome and well aware of it, Zhaine is all brawn and bullshit, a mountain of muscle that's only equaled by his bad temper. At just over six feet, broad shoulders are solidly cut, his chest and limbs thickly toned to delineated perfection thanks to a life of hard physical labor. Messy mop of ebony locks typically fall a shade too long around his face, though he'll often wear them slicked back or tucked into a stocking cap, emphasizing a high widow's peak. Light scruff underscores a strong chin and arches in a trim moustache over full lips that tend to scowl more than smile. Eyes are narrow and hued a rich brown that matches his hair, amber-lit depths capable of a fiery blaze when his ire is raised. A faint scar is visible at the back of his jaw on the right side, shadowed by perpetual stubble, but on the rare occasion that he’s more closely shaven it's jagged path hints at a violent history. He bears a strong resemblance both in looks and demeanor to his twin, Zarrah. He is an adult of about 22.


This particular spring evening is nothing special - clear, quiet, on the cooler side of mild. Peaceful. Nondescript. Not the sort of night one would expect to have their world shaken up at all.

Onari, up late as usual, is about to slip into bed after finishing up an entry in her journal. Clad in her usual sleepwear - a silken nightgown that hangs from her shoulders to her knees by two thin straps - with a robe thrown over it, she pads barefoot around her wagon, shutting glowbaskets to leave the lantern near the head of her bed as the only illumination.

In part, she’s waiting to see if Zhaine may come around. She always does. He doesn’t always spend the night, but it’s part of her routine to wait and see if he might now. So she waits a bit long, sitting at her table and putting some finishing touches on what she’s penned, sipping every now and again from a nearby cup of water.

Zhaine watches Onari’s shadow pass by her window again, just like he’s done for the last candlemark. The evening had deepened while he stayed in the nearby shadows, twice having to step away when someone came by and would have seen him hovering suspiciously outside her wagon. He’d come right back though, each time with the intent of finally going inside. But then he didn’t. He couldn’t.

What would he say? What would she say? He knew her history. How could she take the news he had to tell her well?

And then there were his own feelings. They ricocheted about in his head so hard that his chest hurt – or maybe that’s where some of them were landing.

Then the glowbaskets begin to go out until only one remains. Drawing himself up the young guard sighs heavily and runs a hand through slightly-overlong hair, messing it up more than helping. Striding forward he goes to the door and knocks with the usual two-hitch-three tap that he always uses to let her know it’s him.

Onari smiles automatically when she hears that knock pattern, quickly blowing across the page she’s filled in order to dry the ink and then flipping the journal shut. Rising, she pads to the door and opens it, earthen-hued eyes quickly running over the man waiting there.

Something about Zhaine right now, however, gives her the feeling that not all is well. Her gaze is quizzical behind the welcoming glint as she sidles over a bit to let him pass, absently lifting one hand to hitch the thin fabric of her robe higher upon one shoulder. “Come in,” she invites, her tone low and warm as it typically tends to be in response to his presence in the evenings. She watches him carefully for any further clues…but it’s after she closes the door again that she’ll really tune in.

For the first moment when Onari opens the door Zhaine just stares. Even in a modest nightgown with her hair flowing free and her feet bare she takes his breath away. The sound of nearby laughter yanks his attention back to the present and he clears his throat, rugged features tightening as he quickly steps inside.

He only moves far enough for her to close the door, however, for as soon as it clicks into place he steps forward to gather her up in his strong arms and capture her mouth with his. An urgent desperation fuels his ardor, though he doesn’t mean to convey that to her. He simply needs to hold her, to taste her and feel her before things change. He doesn’t know how they’ll change yet but has no doubt that they will – and for one of the few times in his life he is afraid.

It’s a long while later that he finally draws back, one hand rising to brush some hair back from her face while the other keeps her held close.


Without even a moment to get further inside upon latching her door, Onari gasps as she’s embraced and so thoroughly kissed, her head spinning almost immediately. Her arms lift to encircle Zhaine’s neck, the support of her knees dissolving to jelly and causing her to lean fully into him to make up for it. The hold of his arms certainly helps as well. She sighs blissfully into their kiss, even as she senses an uncommon drive behind it.

By the time he pulls back, the depths of her eyes have gone molten, and she hopes he doesn’t intend to wait much longer to pursue more. “Hi,” she breathes in return, letting one hand sift up into the hair at the back of his head. Sultriness limning her smile, she adds, “That’s one of the best hellos I’ve ever had, I must say.”

Studying his eyes, she sifts at his hair a bit more before finally asking, “Are you alright?”

It’s a testament to how much the young trader stirs passion in the toughened guard that he is almost willing to forgo his intention of bearing bad news and instead get lost in making love to her all night long. The feel of her lithe body pressed against his, warmth soaking through the thin material of her night gown, the way she melts in his arms and sighs when they kiss - it all coalesces into a heady cocktail that makes his heart swell to near bursting. Yes, it would be so much simplier.

But it would only be temporary. And doesn’t that just throw a dash of cold water on everything?

As his gaze drifts over the top of her head, mesmerized by the soft shift of her thick hair she responds to his greeting and his grin is nearly hidden as he leans forward to kiss her forehead.

“Good,” he husks, humor lightening his tone.

The play of her fingers in his hair makes his eyes drift slightly downward until the sound of her voice snaps his attention outward again. The dark pools of his eyes are even deeper than usual, troubled, a bit more heavily shadowed by those thick brows as they knit closer together. The line of his lips straightens, twitching the trim moustache above it as disconcerting thoughts syphon away more lustful ones.

“Onari, something happened today – tonight – just a few candlemarks ago.”

Chuckling softly for Zhaine’s response, Onari keeps herself right where she is, arms about his neck maintaining their hold even as she regains some of the lost support from her knees. His words following that simple word, however, diminish the curve of her lips, knitting finely-wrought brows slightly as her hand drifts to a stop at the nape of his neck. “What was it?” she asks. Clearly it didn’t bring him any physical harm, whatever it was - that she can see, anyway.

Zhaine loosens his hold just enough to glance toward the back of the wagon. No, best not to even go there and risk temptation. Not until he finds out if she’ll still even want him after she hears his news. Keeping his arm around her waist he turns and guides her to the small table set against the sidewall.


Onari shifts as Zhaine’s embrace slackens, moving easily enough with him further into the wagon. Normal she’d be feeling anticipation at this point. Now, however, she’s uncertain, troubled curiosity in her gaze. He’s building up to something, and her stomach does a strange little flip as possibilities start streaming through her mind. She bites her lip, forcing them to a standstill. It won’t help right now. “Alright, “ she murmurs, and sits as instructed, waiting and trying to keep a firm grip on her stream of consciousness so that she can register what he has to say as clearly as she can.

Following his own direction Zhaine sits in the chair opposite Onari, stretching his long legs outward down the center line of the wagon. For all the time he took getting here the young guard finds himself at a loss for words now. Rugged features continue in their hard set lines, an internal struggle warring silently across his tense expression. A few moments pass, then, not knowing how else to start he simply reaches a hand inside his jacket and pulls something out. A flash of white, small, fabric – a knot. A very familiar knot.

Dark eyes watch Onari closely, brandy hues rich with deep amber and so much more than he can express. His heart thuds beneath his shirt like a drummer’s beat, threatening to crack a few ribs if he doesn’t start breathing soon.

The longer Onari watches Zhaine’s face, the more worried she becomes. Part of her wants to blurt at him to be out with it already, but that’s simply a matter of her own nerves. She knows an answer will come if she just gives it a moment…

His hand moves into his jacket, and her eyes immediately follow. What he produces stills her, gaze frozen on the slim white loop of fabric cord. It’s the knot that took F’in from them and into another life. Then her cousin. Then another of the guard. And now…

It’s happening again.

The conflict of her emotions as what he’s showing her registers in full wrenches at her features, pulling her chin down and away as a sudden lump burns in her throat. She was a fool to believe that not putting words to what was growing between them would make something like this easier. What her tongue hasn’t spoken, her heart has been quietly giving voice to within her all this time, and now she can’t help finding herself caught up in a tide of longing despair as the thought that perhaps everyone she cares about is meant to be taken from her this way.

A flash of completely irrational resentment toward the Weyr has her momentarily baring her teeth, and she pushes to her feet, wavering a moment before moving to her bedside. Fingers curl into the wood frame until her knuckles pale as she holds herself steady there, back to Zhaine as she tries to sort through the roiling emotions within her.

With S’ayde…it had been faster. Different. Less had been established; there was less sting. With Zhaine, so much has been said without words, and he’s been the only one for months; there’s no denying what’s assailing her now.

She should wish him the best and let him go, ripping off the bandage now to avoid doing to him what she’d done to S’ayde.

But would she do it again? Will she wander about, fearful and anxious, wondering what’s to come and find herself unable to cope with the outcome later, if Zhaine Impresses? Or has who she is shifted enough for her to stand in patience, defying the fear that looms over her now, mocking and leering and telling her that she is always doomed to fail in this, that she should simply stop trying and let herself become reckless again?

It is a challenge, inside and out. And she knows what she wants. What she should do differently.

Drawing a shaking breath, she shuts her eyes, feeling the sting of tears gathering at the edges. “You deserve the chance,” she half-whispers, no more volume coming for the moment as her words contend with the choke-hold of emotion.

Zhaine watches the emotions wash through Onari, raking her over with painful acuity, and something inside him tears. He should have known better. Everyone he has ever cared about has been torn away from him, swiftly and without warning. First his parents. Then his twin sister. That he’d eventually gotten Zarrah back was unfathomable, in no small part thanks to Onari’s help. And now that he’d finally let himself start to feel for someone it was happening again – only this time he would lose both his sister and the woman he was falling for in one fell swoop.

Seeing her pain lashes him worse than anything that was ever done to him by taskmasters and prison guards.

He couldn’t do it! The reasons pile up in his head, choking out the exhilaration that such an opportunity should have elicited. As Onari stands and moves to the bed his entire frame tenses to get up and go to her, but he doesn’t. He stays riveted in his seat as if the weight of a mountain sits on his shoulders keeping him in place. His chin dips, his breathing shallow, the hard line of stubbled jaw grinding tightly.

Then she speaks and he can hear the tears in her voice without even seeing them. Snapping out of his seat Zhaine goes to her and sets both hands on her shoulders, his palms warm but rough in texture against her bare skin.

“No!” he hisses on a single breath just behind her. Tipping his head forward his brow brushes her soft hair and his eyes close, his words coming fast and heated, so unlike his normal brevity that it’s all the more poignant. “I’m not doing it. I’ll get my things tonight and go away. I’ll catch up with you and Zarrah when the caravan leaves the weyr. They won’t come after me because it’s just a big mistake. As soon as someone realizes who I am, where I’m from….. an ex-convict who has a death sentence on his head if he ever steps foot near Dunbar again….they won’t want me to stand. I couldn’t possibly measure up to a dragonrider.” There’s a higher level of respect in the emphasized noun that comes through despite his hitched speech and the bitterness imbibed in his self-description.

The fine hairs on the back of Onari’s neck stand on end as she feels Zhaine come up behind her, and her grip on the bedframe tightens marginally as she suppresses a shiver. She listens, but doesn’t move…until he gets about halfway through, and his reasoning causes her brows to hike.

“Oh, sharditall, Zhaine, don’t do that to yourself!”

She rounds on him, hands tightening on his shirt emphatically as tear-brightened eyes lock to his with a mix of emotions fiercely felt. “You should do it. I want you to do it! Nothing about your past matters when it comes to having the chance; you’re an ex-convict, and Dunbar is a black, corrupt little drop in the bucket compared to this Weyr. They’re nothing. None of it makes you you. And you…”

Taking a deep breath, she loosens her grip, lifting her hands to frame his face. “You absolutely can measure up,” she insists, her tone quieting and warming. “Zhaine, I…I’ve known bad men. I’ve been far too close to bad men. You’re nothing like them. Your life, the mines - it’s made you rougher than most. But Zarrah knows, and I know, what you have underneath. It’s enough. More than enough.”

She pauses, gathering herself, her breath hitching as the next words line themselves up to be let forward and her eyes dropping briefly to a point on his chest. Then she meets his gaze again, steadily, a thumb tracing the upper edge of one side of his moustache. “Enough…that I’ll be here when you get back, no matter how long it takes. I don’t…” She swallows, suddenly afraid of his reception of her words…but he needs to hear them, to understand where she’s coming from. “I don’t want anyone else. I can wait. And write you, and even see you around while you do this. But I do think you should accept.” Fingertips graze up his cheek to his temple, sifting back a bit of hair. “Go be a Candidate, Zhaine.”

Zhaine’s olive-toned complexion visibly darkens at Onari’s outburst, brandy-hued eyes flashing as he falters back a half step when she turns on him. Gaze boring into hers beneath the deep furrow of thick brows, his jaw tightens more and more the longer she talks. His spine straightens, brawny frame seeming to expand in front of her much like the rearing grizzly his stubborn temper often emulates. He’s prepared to fight her, to argue her down until she sees his point of view even though it breaks his heart at the same time to do so.

But then she frames his face and her touch sends shivers down his rigid spine. He stiffens, sucking in a sharp breath. Denial bathes darkly handsome features for what she insists on next. For all his posturing and bluster he doesn’t see himself that way but the fact that she does makes his stomach churn and boil with bile. Doesn’t she realize what he’s done?? Of course not. She couldn’t know the worst of it. She’d only know what Zarrah probably told her – and Zarrah didn’t know it all either. He hadn’t been able to tell his beloved sister the depths to which her brother had sunk.

A dragon would know, though, wouldn’t it? So no hatchling would choose him. That blue had been old, half asleep, and no doubt didn’t look hard enough.

But… Onari. He’d been a fool. Zarrah had tried to warn him not to get involved with her but he couldn’t resist the attraction, and then his heart had decided to get involved all on its own. He didn’t deserve a woman so fine. Just looking at her with tears brightening her beautiful eyes made him want to break his own neck for causing them. He can never give her everything she deserves.

His brain tells his legs to step back, to put more space between them, but he can’t do it. Her wandering touch is a tether that keeps him locked in place. And then she’s says words that make his heart jack-hammer against the inside of his chest. I don’t want anyone else. He shouldn’t be so overjoyed but the reaction is instantaneous. The rest of her words are slower to register but when they do his elation slams headlong into a wall of reality.

His hands find her arms and pull them both down to lessen the heady distraction of her touch, light pressure continuing to emphasize his words. “I won’t do that to you!” he blurts in a raised voice. “I won’t put you through that again. I can’t just leave you and Zarrah! Especially not for something that’s just a big…..” He stops, reminded of her arguments to counter that line. Releasing her arms he jerks sideways and sets both palms on the edge of a counter, his dark head slowly swaying as he stares at the back of his hands. Finally, a low murmur, “You think too much of me.”

To be suddenly without contact with Zhaine leaves Onari with a nearly breathless feeling as he releases her and turns away. The benefit to the act, however, is that it gives her a moment to catch that breath and use it to clear her head, even as the tears that have been doing nothing more than glinting come away to create glistening trails down her cheeks. “Whatever I go through,” she tells him, drawing near again and placing one hand on his shoulder, the other upon his back, “is half my fault, and my choice. And you know I love your sister; I’ll be here for her while you’re in the barracks.” It’s not the same, of course, but it’s something.


The hand at his shoulder moves, seeking his cheek again in a bid to get him to look at her as she tilts her head to try finding his eyes. “What I think is that you’re too hard on yourself. I think that whatever is making you doubt can never be stronger than someone who believes in you and knows you’re worth a second chance. And I think that if you don’t try, and let yourself have this chance, you’ll regret never knowing what could have been. That knot can’t give you a promise. I can.”

Hearing Onari take any of the blame on herself lights a fire in Zhaine, a flash-flame ripping through his chest and leaving nothing behind but ashes. The touch of her hands sends a current through him that stirs those papery bits and whips them about in a frenzy. Fighting the pull she has on him takes every ounce of willpower. Then she says his name and it feels like one leg goes out from underneath him. Then her hand finds his cheek and the brush of her fingers knocks the other leg away. Resistance is gone.

As his eyes turn to hers the amber is prominent in deep brandy hues, a wild light that is a fierce as it is desperate. Zhaine starts to growl the moment she chides him for being too hard on himself but he doesn’t erupt until she speaks of a promise.

“Don’t!” he snaps, straightening and looking away for a moment. One hand rises, palm outward, the sharp edge to his voice echoing the breaking of his heart. “I’m hard on myself because I have to be! It was the only way to survive. And if I’ve learned anything in this life it’s that things can completely change in an instant. So no, don’t make me any promises, Onari. I won’t let you…. let you tie yourself down like that. This is all a big waste of time anyway. But I’ll go and get it over with, no matter how hard it’ll be when it ends badly.”

As wanton emotions spike he takes a step back and nearly stumbles, slamming a hand on a cabinet to steady himself. When he looks up its through lowered lashes but the flash of molten heat in those dark depths is electric. Voice husked and raw he grumbles, “I want you so badly right now. I want to just stay here and make love to you all night like we always do.” His next breath shakes, making his voice hitch. “But if I’m going to do this then I have to do it right. And thanks to that damn knot…..” His eyes drop down her body, visibly stripping what his hands dare not touch. “I have to go. Now. Otherwise….”

Onari flinches only minutely when Zhaine snaps, her gaze boring into him wherever it may land as he looks away. Her jaw clenches, her tears increasing to make a slow, steady stream from each eye though she isn’t weeping. It’s a venting of frustration, anger that he presumes to tell her where she can and can’t give her word, desperation that something good is slipping through her fingers again…and yet she’s more steady now than she’s ever been in the past.

That is something. Something telling.

“It won’t be a waste of time, Zhaine,” she murmurs roughly, forcing herself to stay where she is in the wake of his words. Her fingers clutch tight enough at the edge of the table to whiten her knuckles, evidence of her own restraint in counter to the heated glint of deep-set amber infusing her gaze in turn. “And I wish you would with how badly I want you back…but if you’re going to ‘do it right’…then save it for when it’s over and done. Think of it when you start to go crazy in the midst of all those people shut inside stone walls at night. Whether you walk away from those Sands with a dragon beside you or not…the day you are able to knock on my door again, you’d damn well better. Because I will be here, waiting.”

The impulse to go to him is so strong that she visibly wavers, the table her only support for the moment. She wants so badly to at least give him a kiss that will last him through all of Candidacy, if it were possible…but she might never let go of him, all things considered.

The sight of her tears alone nearly breaks him but it’s her words that grab the last of his willpower and shreds it to pieces. The promise he had tried to stop is there and it does exactly what he knew it would, engraving itself as if in stone and finding a permanent lodging place in his emotions. He will revere it and keep it safe in the days to come even if he can’t say as much.

He doesn’t miss the waver, nor the answering heat in her eyes. His response is a gut-reaction, swift and aggressive. With one long-legged stride he reaches her, allowing himself only to frame her delicate face in his roughened hands as he claims her mouth in a kiss that is at once as demanding as it is desperate; all the things he should say but doesn’t, all the things he wants to say but can’t poured into the firm press of lips and ardent ply of tongue.

It doesn’t last long but the intensity of it could fill a thousand kisses more. When he breaks away it’s with a fierce growl, momentum pushing him toward the door before he can change his mind and give in to the passion burning through his veins.

Fumbling with the lock he hisses sharply, slams it open nearly hard enough to break and shoves the door, pausing with one foot on the step outside.

“Good night, Onari,” he says over his shoulder, voice a strained burr. Not goodbye. Just good night. He won’t say the other.

The door swings shut on its own as he slips off into the quiet shadows.

That Zhaine moves instead is a relief. But in just the same way he prevents himself from doing more than bringing his hands to her face as he kisses her, so does Onari stop herself from bringing her entire body into it. Instead, she reflexively lifts her hands to curl slender fingers around his forearms, lips and tongue answering his with equal ardor as a short moan of need begins in her throat and cuts off with the hitch of her breath.

Her head is swimming by the time it ends, her chest seeming to ache and swell at the same time, a small smile managing to find its way to her lips despite her tears carrying on. “Good night, Zhaine,” she answers, not quite able to keep a quaver from her tone entirely as she watches him leave.

She moves to the door, slowly shutting it and letting her palms rest flat against it after she latches it, her forehead touching the cool wood as she lets her eyes fall shut.

“And good luck.”

She wishes she would have said more…but it wouldn’t have made things easier. Now she has…months to hold these thoughts. But this time…she’s certain that she can.

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