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SaDiablo Hall, Kaeleer, Friday afternoon [Fandom time]
Dinah was trying to relax in the gardens. Eating honey-pears. Last time, this resulted in a loud argument with Lucivar and then a really intense bout of hitting each other with sticks. This time...




Dinah

Dinah was going back to New Gotham as soon as the portal got here. In the meantime, after talking to Karla, she was absently picking honey-pears off a small tree, thinking. Yes, thinking. Not brooding! ... that would be silly.



Lucivar

"Can I have one of those?" Lucivar asked, leaning against a nearby wall. "Please?"



Dinah

Dinah paused, then gave a small laugh, and tossed him one under-hand, gently. "Since you have learned to ask so very nicely." She picked another one for herself, and bit into it. "How's Jaenelle now?"



Lucivar

"She's in a great deal of pain," Lucivar answered candidly. "Most of it emotional, but a fair bit of physical, too. Safframate is not an easy drug; it takes a toll on the person's mind and body, both."



Dinah

"I'm sorry. This whole mess can't have helped her at all." She was quiet for a minute, chewing on the fruit, then swallowed and said, "Karla's in bad shape too. Physically I know she'll get better, but mentally... There's a lot of things I should have asked her, a long time ago." Then part of what he'd said sunk in, and Dinah sent him a sharp glance. "You've seen that kind of poisoning before?"



Lucivar

"It's not poison," Lucivar said, over-casually, though his wings flared as if he needed an unconscious reminder that he could move them. "It's a drug. An aphrodisiac. I was a pleasure slave in Terreille for centuries."

He let her draw her own conclusions from that.



Dinah

Dinah's face flamed, but she didn't look away, thinking as she studied Lucivar's face. "Prince Saetan said, and..." Sick, sick, sick. Dinah's stomach knotted thinking about it used on either Jaenelle or Lucivar. "Jesus, that's so wrong." She thought of heroin, of other drugs in New Gotham. "We have drugs like that in New Gotham, but they're not exactly the same. They're illegal. And addictive. Some people still take them, though."

It was easier to talk about drugs than focus on the pleasure slave/aphrodisiac part.



Lucivar

"We have drugs like that, too," Lucivar agreed. Again, he'd seen them a lot as a pleasure slave. He'd never used the things, but some males found it easier to slip into oblivion than fight. He might have been tempted, too, if he hadn't realized it just gave those bitches one more hold on them. And more amusement, when the drugs were taken away.

"What kind of things were you asking Karla about?" he asked, mostly to get his mind out of the past.



Dinah

Dinah picked another honey-pear and held it out to him, then took one for herself. "I'll let someone else yell about going after you guys. I was verbally shaking her about working herself almost to death." She bit her lip. "I get that she and Jaenelle felt like they had to, with all those people dying, but ... this isn't the first time she's pulled this." She frowned, biting into her fruit. "Did she tell you about our deal?"



Lucivar

Lucivar accepted it with a nod of thanks. Truth was, he far would have preferred to bedevil her about it, but he didn't really have the energy today for a tussle. Even a verbal one. "Nope. There wasn't a whole lot of time for talking these past few days. We were either chasing down Jaenelle or in Agio."



Dinah

"If she had managed to get to New Year's-- I think that's just after your Winsol-- without getting seriously hurt, I was going to help her buy a new outfit to replace one that got damaged while she was at Fandom." She grimaced. "Gotta start that clock over.... And I put the deal in place because she got seriously hurt twice in a week. Helping other people, and trying to deal with one of Fandom's invasions."

Did this make her a tattletale? Maybe. Lucivar needed to know this stuff, though. If only so he didn't try to yell or spar Karla out of it. "She can't say no if someone asks. She feels too guilty about not being in Glacia helping her people. It's a big old 'manipulate me' button in the middle of her forehead. It always has been, I just finally poked her about it enough to get her to admit it." She grimaced. "Thus, the skeleton look."



Lucivar

"Do go on," Lucivar said, his face a thundercloud. Yep, Dinah was totally a tattle-tale for it. But that didn't mean she was wrong. "How badly hurt?"



Dinah

"I'm not really sure on the first one-- she got badly stung by a giant scorpion," Dinah said wearily. "She was mostly healed, but still way too tired and out patrolling, when she told me about it. The other one--" Gahhh. No. Some things, she couldn't say to Lucivar. "She got stabbed. Only a few days later. Raven had to almost bring her back from dying. It's not that she did anything stupid, you know? She just does too much." To say it or not. To say it, or... Damnit.

"She doesn't want to be Jaenelle. Except she still tries to keep up with what she thinks Jaenelle would do." She glared at him. "I don't think shouting her out of it's going to help. If you've got another idea, though, please go for it."



Lucivar

"What kind of school is she attending?" Lucivar roared, his wings flaring. "Where she is stung by giant scorpions and stabbed until she has to be brought back to life? Why are we sending her away to this school if she's not even going to be safe?!"



Dinah

Dinah blinked as her hair was blown back there, and paused, grimacing. "It would be very very safe if she just stayed in her dorm room. And you sent her somewhere she can learn to be a Queen! That kind of thing only happens a couple times a year. She loves it there. She makes her own choices. She's learning all different kinds of magic. She's just also not learning to stop when she's exhausted!"

Ahem. Okay, so, the yelling back may have been reflexive right then.



Lucivar

Lucivar was used to it. It wasn't a good day unless someone was yelling at him. Sometimes he just liked to pick fights to liven up someone's day.

So, really, he was only paying attention to what Dinah was saying, not how she said it. "This has happened more than once?!"

...Some of what she was saying.



Dinah

"Nnnnnngh." Dinah put her hands in her hair, then breathed slowly. "Okay. I thought she was softening things for you guys, not that she was telling you nothing. No one there has died in the almost two years I've been there, okay? And mostly she's just... done this. This exhaustion thing. A year ago August was the worst. I know she told you about that, she swore she did."



Lucivar

"People were dying before you got there?" Lucivar would be right back, Dinah. He was just going to nip upstairs, put an Ebon-Gray shield around Karla's room, and then check in with Saetan to make sure that he followed that up with the Black.

"Last August?" he rumbled. "You mean the first summer she was at that school?" He tried to figure out about when that would be in Kaeleeran-time, and shook his head. "I was still in Terreille at the time, I think."



Dinah

"No! God. Focus!" It was enough to make Dinah want to stamp her feet. No wonder Karla kept things from these guys; they were like Helena, over-focusing on the fighty protection bits, instead of anything more subtle. "I don't know if anyone did before I got there or not. I'm swearing to what I know, Lucivar. That's all." She took a breath. "And yes, that first summer." Aaaaand he didn't know about that. She sighed. "Her uncle Saetan would know, then. And he let her go back. So keep that in mind, okay?"



Lucivar

At some point, Karla would look at Dinah and say, "Duh."

"Saetan is occasionally over-sentimental," Lucivar ground out through clenched teeth. "I think I need to go spend more quality time with my ax."



Dinah

And Dinah would say, "I am so, so sorry."

"He's the High Lord of Hell, how sentimental can he get?" Dinah wondered. She grimaced. "Look. Just... the yelling, and the training? Don't expect it to change what she's doing." She sighed. "And if you know any Black Widows that can talk to her, that would be great," she grumbled.



Lucivar

Karla's forgiveness would depend on whether or not she spent the rest of her natural life Black-locked in her room.

"When it comes to females?" Lucivar snorted. "Plenty. Being the High Lord of Hell doesn't make him any less compassionate."

Or foolhardy.

"The good thing about Black-locking her in room, Jaenelle can come in to talk to her if she needs some Black Widow conversation," he added with a nod.



Dinah

Dinah hit him on the arm, hard. There didn't seem to be any hope for it. It was the only way to get through to him.

"No." She grit her teeth. "Listen. I will use SMALL words." She took a breath. "You can't protect her forever."

Pause.

"She needs to learn to cope with stress."

Pause.

"From someone other than Jaenelle." She glared at him. "Did you get *any* of that?"



Lucivar

"The Hell we can't," Lucivar said. "And why can't she learn--?" He paused, and thought about the state that Jaenelle was in right now. "I understand why Jaenelle puts her body through the things she does," he said softly, more to himself than Dinah. "But Karla doesn't have the same kind of trauma."



Dinah

Progress. Sort of. Yay.

"No. She has her own. She had parents she loved. Unlike Jaenelle, from what I understand." Dinah let out a slow breath. "And she lost them. Couldn't save them. Then she couldn't save a ton of other people who she's thought of as hers since she was nine. She's got a best friend she can't save from the worst things that happen to her. Magic comes easily to her, like Healing, and being a Black Widow. So when she can't fix everything she goes a little... nuts."

Dinah scrubbed at her face with the palm of one hand. "She wants to be like Jaenelle. She can't. She's going to break her heart or her body trying to live up to that. And still think it's not enough."



Lucivar

"Of course she will," Lucivar objected. "She wears the Sapphire, not the Black. Nevermind, not thirteen Black. What kind of damnfool idea is it to have her try to be like Jaenelle anyway?"



Dinah

Dinah put both her hands in her hair, biting down on her frustration. "You think she's thinking that clearly when she gets like this? You guys have your, whatyoucallit, blood fever or rage or whatever. Karla feels other people's need, or empathizes so much it gets all tangled up... the land, her patients, the people she loves that she's afraid of losing or disappointing." She grimaced.



Lucivar

Lucivar also felt like indulging in some creative hairpulling. He refrained, however, since that wasn't the kind of impulse he'd turn inward and today was not a good day for picking fights.

"So she gets upset and decides she needs to compete with Jaenelle?"



Dinah

"Forget Jaenelle! Oh, what am I saying, of course you can't," Dinah said, hearing her own bitterness. "Can you understand that this is something not about her? That she can't fix? For five minutes? Karla would be doing this over-working obsessive-compulsive riff if Jaenelle didn't exist! It's just that being around her makes it worse. For one thing, none of you seem to notice anything except if it's about her!" She calmed down after a minute and said, "It's not competition. God. It's guilt. And trying to compensate the universe for being alive when people she loves are dead."



Lucivar

"You're the one who brought her up!" Lucivar roared. That hairpulling was starting to sound really appealing. "You said that Karla tries to keep up with her. So don't you yell at me when I'm just repeating what you're saying!"

Maybe he could just dump her in a horse trough and get it over with.



Dinah

"FINE!"

Dinah was absolutely quiet for a full two minutes, then said very softly, "It shouldn't be this hard to tell you that Karla has a problem." Another minute. "Please. Find her an older Black Widow to help her. She has some bad habits she has to break. And some grief and guilt and massive pain to work though." Another long pause, then with the very quiet snarl of a stiletto: "And no. You brought up Jaenelle. You wanted her to help Karla. She can't."

There. Right.



Lucivar

It's possible there might not even be water in the trough when he dumped her in it.

"I get that Karla has a problem!" Lucivar growled, his temper threatening to snap. "But you're not actually helping me understand it much. First, you say that she tries to be like Jaenelle. Then you tell me she's running off and getting herself nearly killed at that damn school. Now you're saying she's working herself into the ground because of guilt. So don't yell at me for not being able to follow all of what you're saying if you can't!"

He closed the distance between them, flaring his wings as he did. "You said yourself that Karla's not telling us a damn thing about what's going on at that school of hers, so don't get short with me if I still trying to figure out where it all went fucking wrong," he said, his voice low and quiet. "You're so quick to throw our regard for Jaenelle up in our faces, conveniently forgetting this is the first time we've heard any of it. So you can either be helpful or you can shut up, because losing your temper is only pissing me off."



Dinah

"I'm not the one yelling any more," Dinah said, her voice still quiet, if hostile. Right. That wasn't helping. She took a honey-pear and ate it, willing herself to calm down, not flinch because Lucivar was yelling. Harley Quinn had been scarier. Shiva had been scarier. Just because a big guy who cared about Karla was roaring at her didn't mean she should lash out from fear and anger. She abruptly missed Arthur, who'd been more explicable, even if he'd had the same growling and snarling qualities. She at least knew how she'd gone wrong when she set off his temper now.

"...This. Is why I'm telling you," she said, on an indrawn breath. "Since I didn't think you did know." Partly because of the focus on Jaenelle. That tangent wasn't relevant and wouldn't help, though. Okay. That much she had clear for herself. Dinah thought a minute, working out the tangle in her head that Lucivar's reaction had scrambled. "Karla did tell Saetan stuff. He wasn't happy. He's visited Fandom, and knows what it's like though. She told me that. I assumed she told you. Then you yelled and I lost track because you got onto the danger at the school." She thought another couple seconds and said candidly, "It's not a perfectly safe island. There are perfectly safe places on it, though." Well, mostly true. Enough that Karla didn't have to get hurt, if she didn't take any chances at all, mostly.

Another half-minute mental organization. "Jaenelle's her best friend. A sweet person. And she has way the hell many things on her plate already. Even if Karla wasn't having issues around her... I don't know that she'd talk about this with her. She doesn't want to make things worse for her." Something else that had just come clear in her head. Another pause. Voice calmer and milder, Dinah said, "Questions?"



Lucivar

Trying to get Karla not to take chances had about as high a likelihood of working as teaching a rock to sing. The odds were probably better in favor of the rock.

At the sight of Dinah so visibly throttling down her temper made Lucivar step back and wrestle with his. She was simply trying to help. She was giving him useful information. These were the important things to focus on.

"Could you please explain just what kind of problems Karla is having with Jaenelle?" he asked through slightly-gritted teeth. "Right now, the three Black Widows that I can immediately think of are Jaenelle, Saetan, and Luthvian, and Luthvian and Karla would try to scratch out one another's eyes before they got anywhere. Considering we've just discussed that Karla's been keeping things from Saetan, I think we can infer a lack of trust there, too."

Which hurt, but they could deal with that later.

"So, before giving Karla over to a complete stranger, if you could kindly explain what that issue is?" Or would that get him snapped at, for focusing on Jaenelle.



Dinah

That was troubling, that the closest female Black Widow who wasn't Jaenelle didn't get along with Karla. Dinah's mouth turned down in disappointment, and she nodded, taking a minute to organize it all in her head. This was getting more complicated than she'd hoped, but. Helping Karla outweighed that. And maybe if she could explain this well enough, it would make things clearer?

"Okay. First, she loves Jaenelle. As much, maybe even more than the rest of you. She's her very best friend. She doesn't think she's perfect, but Karla has this... faith, in Jaenelle." Dinah frowned, then said slowly, "And at the same time, she's so protective of her. She knows the worst of what Jaenelle's been through even more intimately than you guys do, I think. And, she's gone through similar stuff. Not as bad. Just as hard, though." Dinah looked down at the honey-pear, and slowly said, "If I sounded mad, or like I thought you were putting Jaenelle first-- It's because Karla's done that, and gotten hurt for it. More than once. It was her choice, and I respect that, but it's hard for me to see it, from the outside." She turned the honey-pear, not looking up. "She blows off her own pain as not important, compared to Jaenelle's. Or maybe that's just an excuse not to deal, I don't know. Hobart isn't as bad as Jaenelle's family, she was never at... that place. She doesn't have to be Queen of your whole world. On and on." She looked up, voice calmer. "So she thinks, 'if Jaenelle can deal, I can't complain. I'm not as important. I'm not as hurt. I have to keep going. If she can do this, I have to try. And not bother people.'"

No crying. God, not in front of Lucivar. Dinah bit into the fruit instead chewing hard to cover her upset.



Lucivar

In Karla's defense, Luthvian didn't get along with anybody. Not even Lucivar, and he was her son.

The big, Eyrien warrior was silent for a few minutes, digesting everything Dinah had said. Hadn't he seen Karla doing that exact thing on the trek through Askavi, waving off her own exhaustion and fatigue to keep pace? Then, he'd assumed she'd been doing so to prove that she could keep up and to prevent him from tossing her on the closest Wind home. But it matched what Dinah said, hinted at something deeper.

He frowned, hard. "Well, Hell's fire." There. That was helpful. "This is more Saetan's bailiwick than mine."

Seriously. What did he know about adolescent witches? "I'll tell him." And, grudgingly almost, "Thank you, Dinah, for noticing. And explaining. Amid...difficulties."



Dinah

Dinah finally relaxed, and smiled back at him a little, wryly. "You're welcome. It's taken me more than a year and a half of being around her a lot to figure this much out." Which was half an apology for any implied criticism at missing it, there. "I don't know what else to do. Someone should do something, though." She offered him another honey-pear. "I'm at college at home; Karla's still on the island. She has other people looking out for her, obviously. None of them are Black Widows or mind-healers either, though." Raven was sweet, but her usual approach of PAIN GIVE IT TO ME wouldn't solve anything.

"...and I'm sorry I yelled. Or confused you. It seemed less complicated in my head."



Lucivar

Lucivar just gave Dinah a sardonic look. "In my seventeen hundred years of life, I've never met a male who can fully understand the working of a female's brain. Saetan comes the closest, after having fifty thousand years to observe and is still usually baffled." And before she could hit him or get all hissy-cat, he added, "The reverse is also true, don't worry."

Not that this got him any closer to figuring out what to do with Karla, other than just dumping the whole thing in his father's lap and hoping for the best.

"But you are very worried about her, yes?"



Dinah

Dinah bridled for a second, then settled back down. Hey, it wasn't like she understood guys at all. At least Lucivar admitted it.

"Yes." She grimaced. "I don't-- I can't articulate it well. It's just too many incidents too close together. Karla says she doesn't know how to stop pushing. She's not denying it's unhealthy. I think this last time, getting this sick, she even scared herself." She made a small, helpless gesture. "And I can listen, and I can love her, but that doesn't change it."



Lucivar

"Hell's fire and Mother Night," Lucivar cursed softly. He didn't look all that angry anymore, just a little lost.

Okay, and a bit frustrated about that, too.

"So she likes to fling herself at danger and then run herself into the ground while doing it," he repeated, just to make sure he got it all. "And you're pretty sure that guilt is the lash that goads her on. Mother Night."



Dinah

"Pretty much," Dinah said, glum. "Look. I fling myself at danger. I like it, it's fun. Except I do it smart, and take back-up, tell people where I'm going, I take precautions, and I don't go out when I'm wounded. And I hate failing people, but I don't take it as hard as Karla does. I don't know anyone who does." She'd learned things, from Arthur, from Azula, from Helena, about her limits, and how far to take them. "She's felt guilty about being away from Glacia since the day she showed up. I don't think that's ever gone away. In her mind, every day away is a day someone else dies because of that bastard Hobart."



Lucivar

Dammit. Sometimes Lucivar wished the coven just spent their time worrying about hairstyles and fashion and males.

Okay, no he didn't. But, right now, he could almost pretend he did.

"Saetan," he said with a sigh. "This is something I'm going to have to talk to Saetan about. I highly doubt most of my experience is going to be useful with this."

He'd spent centuries destroying Courts and Queens, not helping them through emotional crises.



Dinah

"Anyway. I wanted to give you a head's up." Dinah sat down, tired. "That if she's doing stuff like that, she might not stop herself. And I guess-- I don't know." She frowned. "Maybe talking to Prince Saetan would help her. Maybe?" Or not. She grimaced. "There's only a couple teachers at Fandom who I think would be good at helping with this."



Lucivar

All the more reason to keep her in Kaeleer then.

Lucivar nodded a final time. "I'm going to talk to my father about this," he said, sounding a little weary. "He'd rather here it now than later."



Dinah

Dinah would so be backpedaling, if she knew how Lucivar's thoughts were tending.

"Okay." Dinah pulled up her feet, and rested her chin on her knees. "I hope you guys can find someone to help her."


[ooc: Part of the Agio Plot. Preplayed with offers_choices. *waves hands* Part 1. You didn't see that other one yet. Another post on the way! NFB, NFI, OOC = <3 ]

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