Unanswered Questions

Xanadu Weyr - Craft Complex
This large area has been painted a soft cream with dark orange trim used as an accent. It's separated into a variety of smaller sitting areas, couches and chairs organized into rings and squares, tables set where they can be used easily. Recessed electric lights in the ceiling provide a warm glow, and a row of angled skylights on the eastern wall above the entrance give some natural light when bleary crafters first emerge. There's often a cart with klah parked off to one side to help with waking up or finishing that important project - or simply to be enjoyed with comfortable seating and good company.

Along the southern edge, an open archway leads to a library of books and records. There's something for every craft, it seems, from tomes of caprine diseases, to Pernese history and law, to gemstone identification, to sheet music, to sea charts and herbal manuals. There's even a few works of fiction, though none of it seems very well organized. Whatever is sought, it's probably here… somewhere. A few desks for studying are tucked in amongst the shelves, each with a lamp to illuminate the reading material. Near that archway, a long table holds a row of computers. They're connected to databases all over Pern, and are available for general use except when the computercraft requires them.

To the north, a pair of double doors open onto a grand hall, the vaulted ceiling designed with acoustics in mind. This space is used for lectures and concerts, rows of benches set up to face the front. Along one wall, instruments hang free or on shelves for anyone with the appropriate skills to use. There are often harpers here, practicing their craft.

A pair of hallways lead back from the western wall, one going to the apprentice dorms and the the private quarters for the ranking crafters posted at the weyr. The other provides access to the various workshops.

The F'yr of eight months gone is not the F'yr of now. So much has changed not only within the context of weyrlinghood, going from half grown dragons to nearly full grown, dragons on the verge of graduation into senior weyrlinghood, but in many other ways. For a large chunk of that time (about seven of the eight months), F'yr wasn't vanished, but he was deeply distracted, focused so hard into weyrlinghood training that run-ins with him were brief and with the distinct impression that even when he was listening, his mind was turning over a hundred other things. It doesn't make for having been a very good friend over the past months, but perhaps it's forgivable. He does have a high maintenance dragon, and over at least one of those months, there was the chance of being seen with red-rimmed eyes. He's been tightlipped except to say that something bad was happening at home, that all that could be done had been, and that it was still bad. It wasn't the kind of thing that benefited from helping hands or prying and the baby bronzer would staunchly not say more on the topic, not that anyone seems to have pressed at the time. The past month has been a little different, a few more smiles here and there in passing encounters, real attention to questions asked and answered, more presence where before there was a sort of checked-out quality to everything he did that wasn't work. Now, he's sitting at one of the tables in the common area of the Craft Complex, books with notes spread out on the table, covered in F'yr's meticulous handwriting; it's come a long way from the boy from the farm. His head is bent over the notes flowing from his pen while the after-dinner mug of klah sits forgotten along with a plate of pastries.

N'on has been through weyrlinghood… And probably no one has retreated /quite/ as thoroughly as he did in the days just after Zhelinath hatched. So perhaps he understands. He has made the occasional gentle overture, if only to keep the door open when F’yr feels ready for human companionship again. He probably expressed some concern during those times when F’yr seemed particularly unhappy, but he’s not the sort to push too hard. Of course, there’s also the fact that he’s got his own problems. He’s been spending more time than ever at the tavern, though he isn’t so sloppy as to get drunk in a /troublesome/ way. It’s just that those occasional quiet nights lingering at the Wandering Wher have expanded to a nearly nightly occurrence.

The exception, of course, are those nights when he’s technically on call. Like tonight. If something bursts into flame, it’ll be N’on at the forefront of the response. Presumably, nothing has actually burst into flames, because he’s here, wandering through the aisles of books. Now and then he picks up a book, flips through a page or two, but always returns it to the shelf where he found it. When he spots F’yr, he hesitates for a moment. After taking in the intently studious posture, he retreats to the exit. He’s gone for several moments before returning with a freshly steaming mug of klah, which he silently sets next to F’yr, replacing the cold mug.

F'yr must have been engrossed, really, because the new mug draws his eye as it appears and the pen slows while he blinks at it, stopping just shy of letting those pretty letters get sloppy. The mug gets a second blink before it seems to occur to the blonde that hot mugs of klah do not tend to simply materialize without help and he looks for the hand that gifted the sustenance of the studious (and unstudious alike). Blue eyes find N'on and a faint smile ghosts across F'yr's lips before it cements in a quietly appreciative thing there on his closed lips. "Thank you." He sets his pen aside, and briefly shuffles the notes to some arcane order that perhaps only he can understand (he did learn to file from Rhodelia, so). "Join me?" He glances around the room, keeping his voice low enough not to bother anyone else using the space, but conversational, gesturing to one of the empty seats no longer blocked by his many notes.

N’on gives a slow, crooked grin at the invitation. It’s almost as though he wasn’t expecting it! But he nods a little and claims a seat, taking care not to displace anything that looks important. He shoots a curious glance toward it, but he won’t pry if it seems like F’yr is working on something personal. He sits sideways on the chair so he can slouch lazily against the table without completely hampering his ability to sign. “Hard work?” He points at the neatly organized notes.

"Always, when I can manage it," F'yr's smile is a little dim, but better than the non-smiling man of months past. "Getting ready to start into senior weyrlinghood. Do the rounds with all the wings. One of the riders I know recommended getting to know the wing histories well, so I'm doing research. Some of it's pretty dry," he admits with a conceding smile down at the papers. "I'm glad to see you." His fingers tap on the tabletop for a moment before he reaches for the mug of klah that he was brought. "I wanted to apologize for… oh, probably a lot of things, but it really sums up to being a bad friend over the last… while." While. There's a bracing breath and a swift delivery, "My brother got sick. He passed away a couple of months ago. It's been… a lot. So… work," he gestures to the paper, "to distract me, to distract Glori." He swallows and looks to N'on head canting just slightly. "How are you?" The bronzerider knows the greenrider hadn't been at his best when F'yr's world started its silent and private vigil for an outcome that could not be changed, but now there's concern touching his brow for the man seated with him, maybe not enough for all the months where he was too distracted to notice but… well, it's progress.

N'on's rueful smile suggests that he is familiar with the dry reading required to understand those histories, but it shifts quickly to surprise. He starts to sign something, but the thought stops half-formed when F'yr's reason for retreating is revealed. He looks stricken, unsure, his hands hovering in preparation to sign, but nothing quite comes out. Instead, he impulsively offers a quick hug, leaving words out of it entirely. As for how /he/ is? Well, he doesn't answer that question just now. Instead, whether F'yr pulls away or the hug runs it's natural course, he signs, "You could have told me." Then, after a moment to consider that thought, he adds, "I'm sorry I didn't ask."

Where some months ago accepting the hug would have been impossible for large, loud and HEROIC reasons, the hug is now readily accepted, the bronzerider's arms wrapping around the greenrider, offering as much as he's given in the way of mutual comfort, even if the hug is 'for' him. After N'on has pulled away, F'yr's expression turns conflicted. "Truthfully, had you, I wouldn't have answered. I… saying the words aloud would have made them real in a way that would have been crippling, I think." His lower lip is pulled into his mouth and briefly chewed over before he draws and releases a breath and goes on. "Only Glorioth knew the details. I did everything that could be done. There was nothing more anyone could have done and I couldn't visit." There was that small matter of having a dragon not large enough to fly, not to mention the larger matter of having a dragon who would probably have decimated the family farm's herds in one terrible (HONORABLE) slaughter. "And Glori was so twitchy about people touching me— or rather, me touching people then that I couldn't even have had a hug like that without it causing…" The man's face pinches as he imagines the unpleasant aftermath of such an event. "None of it was great. None of it was fair or okay. It just was what it was. I hope you can forgive me for dealing with it the way I needed to." He has to believe he did that. If there were choices that would have been better… is there really a point to reviling himself now for making those he did? "I think you've had your share of… things… on your mind." The blonde head tips and dips and tries to get a better look at the greenrider's face, expression thoughtful once more.

N'on listens through all of this, with no sign of judgement. Just that certain kind of warm sympathy reflected in a gentle smile, a touch on the arm. In fact, he seems much more comfortable in listening and sympathizing with F'yr's story than having the spotlight turned back on him. He shrugs, waving vaguely as though to shoot away whatever has been on his mind. He looks away, eyeing the pastries as a distraction, but in the end, he signs a brief explanation. "I moved to my own weyr."

Is it better or worse to be drawn abruptly into the bronzerider's arms again, for another hug, this one maybe longer than the last? Maybe it's better in that it's not forcing N'on to find words for things he doesn't want to talk about. Maybe it's worse in that it's obvious F'yr has made the logical conclusions and there's sympathy and support in those arms. If N'on doesn't want the hug, it can be avoided, if he wants to cut it short, that can be done too, but if F'yr has his way, he'll hold the greenrider some long moments in silence. When he releases the older man (or if he never held him to begin with), there's a beat and then two of blue eyes on N'on's face before, the bronzerider offers, "Sorry. I hope it's for the best." He doesn't offer hollow words of comfort in total ignorance of the circumstances, just those that he can mean. There's the sense, of course, that N'on can talk about it if he wants, but there's also no expectation in the silence that ensues for a few more beats. <This pose can stop here if N'on does want to talk about anything! Otherwise, we can add:> Then, the bronzerider is offering distraction. "I've been seeing a lot of new places. I had wanted to ask you whenever I saw you next, if you had any recommendations for places I should see? I've seen a lot of the big, popular ones for people betweening, and more from the air and fewer from the ground." It might be an obvious option for topic change, but it's there in case they need something new to talk about lest it get awkward.

N'on doesn't exactly.pull away from the hug, but it's a bit more awkward than the first. When F'yr pulls away, the greenrider gives a tight smile and vague wave of his hands. "My decision," he signs, simply. He's back to staring uncomfortably at the papers on the table, or anything but eye contact with F'yr. At least, until the topic change, which he accepts with a rather grateful smile. Surprisingly, he does have an immediate answer to that one. "My family," he signs. He reaches across to snag a blank piece of paper from F'yr's supply, in order to write a quick explanation. "I want more people to know how to find them. People I trust. In case they are in trouble and I'm not able to help."

F'yr has only a nod for the short words about the decision that led to N'on's change of life situation, not pressing him to talk about it or for more details. He reaches for his klah again to take a sip, only to pause mid movement of the mug to his lips when N'on's answer comes. He does drink while the answer is penned and the bronzerider leans a little toward the silent man to read it. "Are they likely to be in trouble?" It's a logical question, but it's followed with, "Of course. If you can convince Zhe to show Glori the visual… I have…" he thinks a moment trying to pinpoint his next day off in his mind, before relaying the information. "We could go then, if you have a shift free? Make sure I find it right and that someone there knows who I am?" He doesn't suggest N'on do the same for him, even if it sounds like a good idea, but that might be because— "Oh. Hm." He frowns, then frowns more deeply. "I'll have to figure out how to distract Glorioth. They have sheep, right?" Glorioth HERDSLAYER and sheep sound like a really bad idea; it's the very idea that is the whole reason F'yr isn't going home at the moment, really. Well, almost the whole reason.

The question of whether N’on’s family is likely to be in trouble is answered by a simple solemn nod. Then there’s the mention of sheep, and N’on chews on his lip, some anxiety leaking through. He brings the paper back so he can scrawl a note. “Lots of sheep. Not dragon food. They need all of the sheep to survive.” He passes this note over, and in spite of a sudden uncertainty in N’on’s demeanor, Zhelinath makes her presence known to Glorioth with the mental equivalent of a quiet, ladylike cough. With that single warning, she dumps a crystal clear aerial view of a location she has apparently been to a number of times: Rolling hills spreading in every direction, far away from any nearby civilization. An ancient farm house, probably built just after the last Threadfall, dwarfed by an equally ancient barn. Smaller buildings, added later, are scattered haphazardly nearby. Some people might say it’s not so much a ‘home’ as a ‘compound.’ Once the image is share, Zhelinath retreats, leaving the impression that she’s very much enjoying a relaxing bask in the sun.

One of F'yr's hands moves to touch N'on's shoulder in brief squeeze. "I understand. My family's herds, too." They're equally indispensable. The big blonde chews on his lip, Adam's apple bobbing as he tries to work this out. "I can ask Rhody for Ina's help with Glorioth." Having a gold on backup duty is probably the safest choice in case the bronze really gets out of hand. Someone might be sorry that Zhelinath's cough is met with a heroic, and much too loud, « AH-HA! WHAT HO! » with a surging crescendo of the theme music and clash of weaponry that comes intermixed with the musky smell of sweat, leather and smoke, but whoever that is, it's not Glorioth. Glorioth is ever completely without shame, without doubt, without virtually any redeeming qualities, but that's just how it goes with some dragons. He has gotten practiced with receiving images though, he must have done because he's been safely betweening and he takes this one, reflexively. Just as reflexively, it's passed to F'yr who's the repository for all such images and the bronzerider's eyes close as he internalizes what he's being shown. The weyrling exercise goes that the chain reverses, F'yr giving it to Glori, Glorioth to Zhelinath, to check it, but if they have it right, Glorioth doesn't bother to question why he's received the new image, nor interrupt the dragon's sun bathing further.

Zhelinath verifies that the image is correct, then settles back to her interrupted not-quite-activity. N’on smiles tentatively, and absent-mindedly taps the pencil on the paper, thinking it over. Finally, he returns to write another note and slide it over. “Having others to help might be good. But if they call for help, don’t stop because of the sheep. They won’t ask for help unless it’s an emergency.” With that instruction, he returns to a kind of pensive contemplation of the table’s wood grain. Zhelinath’s whisper reaches out to Glorioth again. She seems oddly unbothered by the overwhelming tone, in spite of her own subtlety. Glori may be ever the same, but Zhelinath is not quite. She still projects with a whiff of smoke and flicker of candle flame, but there’s the odd impression that the candle burns in opposition to a darkness that is almost tangible. The sort of darkness that is not just the absence of light, but a swallower of light, barely held at bay by the efforts of Zhelinath’s flame. Probably those details will be lost on Glorioth, but she speaks solemnly nevertheless, « You are near to grown, now. » Much as she sometimes speaks of herself and N’on as one entity, here she speaks of Glorioth and F’yr as though they were one. « Can we trust you with an adult’s responsibility? »

F'yr is still in his seat with his eyes lingering on the words of N'on's note for some long moments. It might be moments he's in conversation with his lifemate, but it's just as likely a mental marshalling of words— the right words. "I'll go, if they call. I think it'll be alright, I just…" He grimaces briefly, "I haven't wanted to chance it. My family lost two sons in the last turn and a half." Stefyr by leaving home and his brother to sickness. "One of my other brothers broke a leg one spring and I know what the lack of a strong body does to the checks and balances." It's that much less work that can be done, that much less productivity for a small place that counted on each of its labor assets. It's probably a large part of the reason the bronzerider comes from such a large family, really. "Losing a herd because I couldn't…" He cuts himself off and shakes his head. "It would be devastating." Just as it would to N'on's family. "Seemed better not to take the chance right now." Also emotionally easier, but no one needs to look at that too hard right now. He clears his throat and shifts to look at the greenrider, "How will they call, if they do?" The conversation between the men might have its share of difficult topics, but at least they're having the same conversation, whereas Glorioth is on the wrong page to start with. « YOU HAVE BUT TO COME NEAR AND BASK IN THE RADIANCE OF MY VALOR TO KNOW ANY TASK CAN BE OBLITERATED WITH MY BRAVERISM. » Glorioth has never known a doubt, he's never known a lick of common sense, or associated a consequence with an action. The bronze has a brain that is like a bunch of rocks (with equivalent I.Q.) letting all the important things pass through to the richer soil of his rider's mind while he remains oblivious to his ignorance.

Is Zhelinath deliberately playing the part of the delicate medieval lady? Or is that just part of her natural personality? Perhaps it doesn’t matter. She projects an impression of quiet fondness, then a shadow-puppet play of an elegantly dressed lady offering her handkerchief as a token to a brave knight. « I can see that you /are/ very noble, indeed. If we are not alive to carry out our duties, I know I can trust you to act bravely in our stead. » There’s another retreat, but this time with implied invitation. « The sun is very warm today. » Meanwhile, N’on answers the most important question with a quick sign: “Firelizard.” He smiles ruefully and adds, “Dad doesn’t like firelizards, but I convinced him.”

If only Glorioth's truth when it comes to 'heroism' and 'bravery' and 'nobility' matched any of the real definitions of those words, Zhelinath's ploy would work. It would be perfect. Unfortunately, what Glorioth calls bravery is really bloodthirst and nobility is only pursued when the benefit to himself is obvious. His whole life philosophy boils down to the phrase, "Killing equals honor!" There's no such thing as an evil dragon, but Glorioth's got all his toes over that line with just how self-centered he is. SURPRISINGLY, Glorioth has very few friends. Unsurprisingly, Glorioth doesn't care save for his lack of sung praises, but he can get those from his lifemate who inexplicably and truly loves him anyway. His answer is painfully simple (and also just painful; F'yr would wince if he was tracking, but he's not), « I AM THE NOBLEST OF ALL NOBILITY. » And so humble. « SEE THAT YOU DO NOT DIE IF YOU WISH YOUR DUTIES TO BE FULFILLED. I QUEST FOR VENGEANCE FOR MY DEAR DEPARTED FATHER, WHOSE BRAVERY AND VALOR CAME SO NEAR TO SURPASSING MY OWN. » In other words, his quest docket is full. He's honestly not trying to be rude, he's just pretty terrible. « SO IT SEEMS. A GLORIOUS DAY FOR GLORY. » The invitation is lost on one of such stellar intellect. FORTUNATELY FOR EVERYONE, Glorioth is attached to a very dutiful F'yr who is looking at N'on with tremendous gravity. "Alright." The bronzerider is reaching to try to take one of N'on's hands in his own in a gentle but firm grip, not to keep him from signing but just for a moment of connection, perhaps attempted comfort, or just communicated concern. "You don't have to tell me, but I can see something isn't right." He probably hasn't lost sight of what that might be in so many months. "If you ever want to tell me, or just… sit and not tell me, you can." In other words, F'yr is going to try to be there for N'on now that his own crisis is diminishing in presence. He releases the greenrider's hand if he ever got it as he finishes.

Disappointed but unsurprised, Zhelinath withdraws her presence slightly. The candle flame remains lit against the darkness, small but still there. « You know nothing of valor, chivalry, or glory. Good day, Glorioth. » With that, she well and truly withdraws, shutting out any outside communication for the sake of enjoying her sunbathing. N’on’s reaction is at least a bit warmer. He tries smiling, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. Something about F’yr’s kindness cracks his ‘everything is totally fine’ facade, and he has to blink hard to dispel a suspicion of tears. He squeezes F’yr’s hand, then gently extricates himself. “You can’t help,” he signs, with clear regret. “Dangerous.”

That Glorioth does not need to have the last word is one of his extremely few saving graces. In point of fact, the green's abrupt withdrawal doesn't even ping his radar as strange, but is anyone surprised that others have shown the same good sense Zhelinath is exhibiting in hard passing on additional quality time with this particular bronze blockhead? It's fine because no one is as interesting to Glorioth as Glorioth himself. F'yr winces slightly, but it's not for the dragons, it's for his accidentally putting a chink in the facade, one similar to the one he wore for months and needed to function. He doesn't, therefore, press this issue as he might once upon a time. What he does say is, "Okay. But I'm trained." For slightly more than just self-defense, really, if not for the complications of N'on's particular situation. "If it makes it less dangerous for you, for me to be around, I'm willing and able." He doesn't necessarily think N'on is doubting his capability so much as perhaps being a little protective where it may not be needed. But then, what does F'yr know anyway?

N’on rubs the bridge of his nose, a small gesture of impatience that he doesn’t do a great job of covering. He goes back to the paper, choosing to write his next words rather than sign them. “I am trained. I trained for this exact situation. It wasn’t enough. You should stay out of the way.” He passes the note over, then leans against the table. By the time F’yr has had a chance to read through the note, any annoyance that might have inspired it has drained away, and N’on signs an addendum: “I will leave Xanadu.”

F'yr's blonde brows dip as he reads the note, opening his mouth to respond when N'on signs the addendum. It silences him for a handful of beats while he processes. Processing in the moment is not F'yr's greatest strength, but he manages, here, now, at least to some degree. He turns his eyes back to the paper a little longer than is necessary to read it a second time start to finish before N'on has his full attention again. "I know you're trained." It's a simple affirmation; he wasn't ever in doubt of that. "I'm… really terrible at staying out of the way," he admits, one hand reaching to rub the back of his neck before it drops back to his side. "You don't have to deal with things alone, but I'll respect if you need to." N'on has muscular blonde friends, see? Surely, N'on can see that, right? The muscles, at least, are hard to miss given how much focus the bronzerider has had on the physical in the past eight months, and he was no rail to begin with. One more pause as he looks back to the paper and back again to the man, a marked sadness in his eyes and the shift of his features before he asks, "May I visit?"

N’on stares down at the table, still leaning against folded arms. There’s something deeply unhappy in his posture. Sometimes it takes him time to decide to talk, but one enduring marker of his friendship with the younger bronzerider is that F’yr always gives him time to compose his thoughts. Unless that has changed, he takes advantage of that now. He glances to the work F’yr was doing, then around at any others who might be using the communal space to study. Finally, he turns in his seat to face F’yr, lifting his hands wearily to sign, “I was terrible at staying out of the way. Then…” He touches his throat, and frowns deeply. “I don’t want to run away. I want—” He hesitates, brow furrowed and hands poised. “I don’t know what to do. Everything I do is the wrong thing.”

Many things have changed for the young bronzerider, but not this. N'on may certainly take advantage of F'yr's enduring and judgmentless patience. True, blue eyes track N'on's attention to a point, and even when he reaches for his papers, it's only to neaten them a little, though there's no sense that this is any kind of cue for the greenrider to be done, just something to occupy the hands that are used to being busy. The work is nothing impressive, really, just notes upon notes of old wing histories for the wings of the Weyr, gathered from a variety of sources. When N'on turns in his seat, F'yr shifts likewise to give the older man his attention. He watches both expression and hands with equal attention. His eyes dart to the greenrider's throat at the moment of that touch, his lips tightening slightly. He's silent a moment, considering, then he suggests, "Can we step into one of the craft rooms?" He's probably thinking of the classroom where both he and N'on got to spend time learning, likely to be empty at this time of night. If the greenrider is amenable to seeking a little more privacy, the bronzerider will efficiently gather his things and tuck them away into his messenger bag, taking the time necessary to return his resources to where they belong before going to seek out that particular room.

The relief that transforms N’on’s expression clearly shows his feelings about retreating to a craft room. The anxiety still bubbles under the surface, as much a part of him as the callouses on his hands, but the promise of a private space to discuss these issues at least banishes some of the surface tension. He nods a little, watching for a moment while F’yr clears away his research. He fidgets with a pencil while waiting, but before the table is really properly clear, he pushes away from the table and goes searching for the appropriate room. Presumably, F’yr can follow at his leisure. When F’yr catches up, he will find N’on leaned back half-seated against one of the tables, his hands braced against the edge as he stares pensively at the floor. His notebook remains tucked away in his pocket for now.

F'yr does follow, of course, though he catches at an arm before N'on departs to clarify the destination quickly to be sure they're both thinking of the same private space, lest he have to spend time looking for the greenrider, and he joins him shortly after, setting his bag by the door before moving toward the man. He doesn't join him against that table, but rather pulls a chair and predictably turns it so he can have an armrest on its back, settling the thing so he faces N'on. Since this chair is made for someone substantially smaller and turns younger than F'yr himself, it gives the bronzerider a comically oversized look, even if the expression on his face is anything but. He's careful, as is his usual habit, with trying to find the right words and it takes him a moment. "I'm listening." That's to start with. "Whatever you want to tell me." Because he habitually doesn't pry, but this time, he does touch the place where N'on's scar would be, were it mirrored on his body, to be sure that certain tragic events are included in the invitation, if the greenrider wants to speak of them. "I don't want you to run away. I want you to know what to do. But I don't know how to help you with anything if you… don't want to tell me, or want to protect me." He doesn't seem sure which this is, or both, there's no judgment in his tone, only careful words, careful tone.

N’on continues staring at the floor, deeply conflicted. His fingers clench and loosen on the edge of the desk a few times, but when he finally lets go, it’s so that he can turn the chair sideways and sit down. He forms the words slowly, with uncharacteristic clumsiness. “I stabbed them.” He doesn’t make eye contact. Instead, he stares somewhere into the middle-distance as he makes that confession, blinking hard. “They didn’t move. Like it was nothing.” It might narrow down who he’s talking about if signed pronouns were gendered. Alas, they are not.

The breath goes out of F'yr audibly. Whatever the bronzerider expected to hear, it wasn't this. All that careful settling he did into the chair, it's abandoned in favor of slipping off the chair and stepping to where he can sink onto his knees and look up at the greenrider. He's not always the brightest glow in the basket, but he's also had time to ruminate on past conversations, however distant they are now. "The enemy?" The question is soft, and probably it's really asked because F'yr probably can't imagine his friend stabbing someone who wasn't, and there was that flash of a face from Zhelinath, that time, long enough ago that a certain bronze does not remember, but his rider is another story.

Is it the lack of judgement in F’yr’s question? Or maybe it’s hearing the moniker spoken out loud. Something makes N’on crumble, his shoulders hunching as his eyes well up and he has to blink even harder to avoid doing something /terribly/ unmanly. But he nods quickly, confirming F’yr’s guess. With hands shaking, he starts to reach into an inner pocket of his jacket, pauses, but then reveals a small book.

This isn’t the usual notebook he uses for communication. It’s smaller and hand-bound, with no consideration for making the pages easy to remove. The cover is rough cardboard and tattered from much use. The pages are equally ragged around the corners, as though it’s been hanging around in his pocket for a very long time. N’on offers the book to F’yr, and if the bronzerider should open the cover to see the contents, he’ll find the writing mostly faded from time and wear, but still clearly legible. Each page is printed with a single question, leaving a sinful amount of blank real estate on the page. The questions don’t mean much out of context, while some are downright cryptic, but there’s a very definite theme:

“Why did you do it?”
“Why us?”
“How did you become this?”
“Why did you come to Xanadu?”
“Why did you stay?”
“Why did you send me to the ship?”
“Why didn’t you stop them?”
Toward the back of the book, the questions become even more relevant to the present:
“Why did you hurt Evi?”
“Why can’t I beat you?”

Some of the questions may be a bit repetitive, granted. But every page has been dedicated to one unique thought, until there are no blank pages left.

F'yr is quick to react to that crumble. Maybe he anticipated it, maybe that's why he asked for a private space, or maybe he's just ready to support his friends when they seem to need it. One way or another, the big man is pressing up from his knees in a smooth motion and wrapping one arm around N'on's shoulders, hugging him with just the one arm so that his hands aren't trapped, so he still has his voice. It puts him at an awkward height with N'on sitting, but whatever that might do to his muscles is done without complaint or concern. When the book is offered, he looks to N'on briefly, but doesn't question that the offer of it is tacit permission for him to look. He does, slowly, and with care when it becomes clear that there are ideas on each page. Still, it's not a lot to go on. F'yr goes through it twice before he offers it back to N'on. Only then does he ask, "These are your questions? The ones you can't answer?" A pause, because this, too, requires clarity for the bronzerider. "He's the one who did this to you?" His hand reaches this time not to touch his own body but N'on's, in that place, near that place, but not if the greenrider seems to not wish him to.

N’on takes the book back and looks at it for a moment, then tucks it away into his pocket again. “I can’t ask,” he corrects. He still seems reluctant to make eye contact, so perhaps it’s just as well that F’yr has offered a more tactile version of support. The greenrider accepts the embrace, leaning against the other man’s support. The final question is answered with simply a nod. He doesn’t flinch away from F’yr’s touch, but he does self-consciously tug upward at his collar.

F'yr isn't often one to push a person's boundaries, but he does now. Just a little. Even with the self-conscious tug of N'on's collar, he lets his hand ghost lightly along the length of the scar, over the collar where necessary. Then his hand drops away and his arm squeezes the greenrider's shoulders. "Can I ask?" Does F'yr mean the questions N'on can't? Does he mean about how N'on got the scar? The bronzerider leaves it frustratingly vague, but there's the question that he lets hang. If N'on wants out from his arm, the blonde won't keep him, but the arm isn't going anywhere yet otherwise.

Although N’on isn’t normally the touchy-feely sort, in this moment he doesn’t seem in any rush to escape F’yr’s embrace. The question finally draws his gaze back to F’yr, his eyes filled with trepidation. He takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, but in the end, he returns the question with another signed question. “Ask?”

There's silence from F'yr for some long moments, though his arm doesn't waver from its attempt to offer comfort and support. It's his turn to take a deep breath and drop his eyes to regard the greenrider seriously. "Your questions." Maybe he wants to ask about the scar, too, but right now, what he's going to focus on is that. "I know," he preempts the anticipated objection, "that you don't want me going near him, but… I've spoken with him before." Judging by F'yr's intact state, those talks did not turn ugly. "Maybe answers would help, somehow." He rubs his face with one hand before reaching the same hand to touch N'on's scar. "This is unforgivable." Maybe it's said aloud in case it's not obvious the bronzerider's feelings on that much. But it is a puzzle from the outside looking in.

The blood drains from N’on’s face, leaving him looking suddenly sickly. He shakes his head and shrinks slightly from F’yr’s embrace. He turns in his seat, takes F’yr’s hands, and looks at him intently with a solemn, worried expression. After a short time, he releases his grip in order to sign an answer. “It’s dangerous.” Tentatively, if F’yr doesn’t retreat, N’on reaches up to touch the bronzerider’s cheek. After he withdraws, another argument is offered. “He won’t answer.”

F'yr releases N'on from the embrace, but only after his arm tightens slightly in indication of support. Still, he doesn't keep the greenrider against his will in that shrinking. The man's hands are readily taken and steady blue eyes answer that solemn look. He doesn't flinch from the signed word 'dangerous,' nor does he shy away from the touch of N'on's hand to his cheek. He doesn't do N'on the discourtesy of dismissing his concerns out of hand, either. "It will be less dangerous if you can help me understand everything that's happened so far." This is said calmly, matter-of-factly after some weight moments of silent consideration. "He might not answer." F'yr admits without much qualm. The bronzerider isn't promising what he might not be able to deliver. "If it might help you," and it might not, that that may be the truth too is in the blonde's serious expression, "I'd like you to let me try. Please." Technically, F'yr has the questions and could go ask without N'on's blessing. Quietly, gently, F'yr finally asks, "Tell me everything?" He probably means what's important to this, but he is the sort to encourage what's important to N'on.

N’on looks away, and it seems for a second that he won’t answer. But then he looks back, unhappily, and signs, “It’s a very long story.” That seems to be an invitation to get comfortable, because he readjusts his own seat, folding his legs criss-crossed. Another hesitation, but then he starts to sign a slow explanation. “His men stole our sheep. Many of our sheep. I tried—Me and my brothers—We tried to stop it. He tried to kill me. Would have killed me. I am lucky.” There’s a wry smirk as he signs the word ‘lucky’ and follows it up by tracing the line of scar tissue across his throat with a pointer finger. “Many years passed. He came to Xanadu as a Candidate. I didn’t recognize him, and he didn’t know me. I caught him meeting with his men outside the weyr, and then I knew. Bad time, but I escaped. He Impressed. I didn’t tell anyone after that. His dragon is a monster.” He glances to F’yr, then away again, frowning deeply. “That’s enough?”

The bronzerider takes the invitation for what it is, straightening to move back to his chair and resume his previous posture. This time, his hands hug the back, fingers flexing a little against the wood as N'on explains. Maybe F'yr wants to let that be enough. He's obviously taking this all with utmost seriousness, and… it isn't. It's with reluctance that he shakes his head slightly. "How did you heal?" That's the first part. He needs not just the how but the after circumstances to paint a complete picture. The rest is, unhappily, "You stabbed him." It's not an accusation nor judgment, just quiet repetition of what the greenrider already confessed. "Tell me about that. What happened?"

N’on frowns faintly, more thoughtful than discouraging the questions. Still, that shadowed look around the eyes hasn’t dissipated, and it darkens slightly as he signs a slow answer. “Father’s quick thinking. Journeyman Healer on rounds, next farm over. Time. Luck.” He shrugs, as though to indicate some element of providence that he can’t explain. The other question is harder to answer. His brow furrows and he sighs deeply. “Zhelinath was…” A beat of hesitation, but he tightens his jaw and continues. “Glowing. Evi told me he put hands on her. I got mad.” He shrugs and looks to the side. That seems to be the end of that explanation.

There's a silence from the bronzerider in which his eyes leave N'on to go to the floor rather than the ceiling. There's a few slow breaths before he's looking back to N'on. There's still no judgment in his expression, but perhaps a little bit of understanding. "I saw Evi after she left him. The bruise." The bronzerider shifts, rising from the chair, but maybe just because he doesn't want to sit anymore. "She was upset about a lot of things, but none of them were really him." There's a pause. "I saw him after that." There's a slow draw of breath and then a release. "Evi's been through a lot," he's sure N'on knows this, that it's not news. "Sometimes…" F'yr hesitates, not really looking at N'on for this moment, "Sometimes I think the thing that appears to be the problem in the moment isn't really the problem, more often than not. But it's hard not to go to the defense of people we care about." That sentence seems to hold weight and it's only a few beats later blue eyes return to the greenrider to 'hear' whatever he might want to say next.

N’on narrows his eyes, glaring at the floor. After a moment, he scrubs his face, takes a deep breath, and launches into another round of signs. “I will always defend my family.” He gestures vaguely, then adds a more specific sign to clarify, “Weyr-family. Everyone.” But then the fight drains out of him, and he shakes his head. He reaches for F’yr’s hand, gives it a squeeze, then raises to his feet. “Be careful,” he signs, emphatically. “If you talk, be careful.” He doesn’t look totally hopeful about it helping, but he impulsively pulls F’yr into a hug, then starts to retreat. “Zhelinath,” is the only explanation he signs, as he backs toward the door.

"I wouldn't ask you to do any differently," F'yr replies, shrugging his shoulders. He doesn't, he wouldn't. N'on is N'on, to F'yr, and F'yr wouldn't ask him to be other-than-N'on. Why exactly he offered what he did… well, that might bear thinking on, for more than one of them. There's a return squeeze to the hand that's taken, and even a return of the hug, if a not quite a beat behind the giving, just for as long as it takes the bronzerider's mind to catch up with action. "I'll be careful." He assures, his eyes following the greenrider before he does. He's not going with him this time, but rather just retrieving his bag before being on his own way. For a man who has made many a similar exit since impressing, he doesn't question N'on's; besides, F'yr has too much else to think about on the walk back toward his homestead.

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