Give and Take

Xanadu Weyr – Beach

The unerring range of subdued white rises and falls in a multitude of sandy dunes, creating an endless amount of tiny valleys constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of a dragon. Smoothing out as it slopes gently to the edge of the deep blue water, the sand darkens and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect. The beach itself is set along a low cliff - the height lessoning as one heads eastwards, blocking a portion of the beach from direct access.
The wide wide stretch of water opens up to the east, the far distant shore way beyond the horizon and the beach curves ever so slowly round to east and west, distant arms of land embracing the wind-ruffled Caspian Lake. East leads up to the mouth of the Rubicon River, where the protecting cliff is merely an arms length higher then the sand, and beyond that, a winding road leading out of Xanadu's territory. Westwards, the beach narrows as the cliff swings out, leaving a path wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to the sheltered cove designated the Weyrling Beach. However, cut in the cliff face to the north are a variety of rough, wide staircases, providing access to the clearing and to the meadow.

There was only so much time a guy could spend with a healer before he had to leave and the session had to be called off. With the punishment of not being able to drill or do anything with the wing until cleared and the fact that he couldn't go near Keziah (at least not unmasked), on top of Laera being gone… what was left to do? Chores, sure. The odd run. Yeah. Working out. Always. But Ers'lan wasn't doing any of that. He was simply sitting on the beach with a bottle in his hand. That's right, all this stress makes drinking a more comforting habit. Zhaoth is near by, wallowing in the sand and mouthing at the firelizards that play about his head. Lan is in plain clothes without a knot on his shoulder - why would he wear a knot if he didn't know where he fit in now? He's simply sitting with his knees up and his elbows on them, with the bottle held by the neck, swinging lightly between his legs. Not much going on, just watching the sunset.

There's a tickling breeze rain-damp but warm that asks Zhaoth where his rider is, Seryth's query isn't pressingly urgent nor particularly somber. It does, however lack the usual cheerful appeal the queen tends to use and doesn't linger once her answer is had. It's not very much longer that there is the sound of bare feet in the sand padding up behind Ers'lan and without a pause or asking of permission, the Weyrwoman settles an arm's length away beside him in the sand with her own bottle. Only she's not drinking from it as the cap is still on. She's dressed casually - apparently it's her day off so she's in capri pants and a sleeveless top taking advantage of the last warmth of the fading summer. "Ers'lan."

Zhaoth is lulling his head back and half rolling onto his back as Ers'lan's firelizards play about his maw, clinging and crawling over the brown. The dragon isn't often seen tolerating such things, though the boredom must be leeching through to both rider and dragon. He'll respond as quickly as he can and without any means of staying his voice with Seryth - all business like. But Lan knows whose looking for him and therefore isn't surprised when the woman sits beside him. He greets her in a flat tone without looking at her, "Weyrwoman." The sky at least was starting to take on orange and pink highlights on the bottom wisps of the clouds.

"I've been wanting to talk to you-" Thea starts, then changes it, "Well, ask you something, really." Then she simply stops with a long breath out and turns her head to the sea, watching the slowly purpling waves, the play of pink on the curling tips. She props elbows on her knees and allows the silence to stretch. "I guess I asked too much of you too soon," she finally says simply. "Though I was sure you would do well. I was so sure." She drops her head to eye her toes, wriggles them in the white sand. She lets that hang, tilts him a quizzical look, "What went wrong between you and Keziah?"

Ers'lan moves only to take a swig of his whisky, yes, the hard stuff. The liquid swishes against the neck of the bottle then back, as he lets it once more hang between his knees. He says nothing. Why would he? Not really anything to say when a person is being told they were mistakeningly given responsibilities. At that, his lips purse and his brow makes the slightest twitch. The tell-tale response that he's keeping back something is not his own body language, but Zhaoth's. The brown straightens up almost immediately and sends the firelizards winking *between*, attention full on the pair of riders. The last question has him take in a deep breath that lifts his shoulders, while his face turns away from Thea as his eyes look out toward the distance. Some time passes. Silence. Then with a very controlled voice, apparently he needed to hold back some choice words, his eyes trace back to the Weyrwoman, forming an answer, "Emotions."

While Thea can't read Ers'lan's thoughts she can read his expression, if Zhaoth's sudden shift doesn't tip her off. "I meant putting you two to lead a wing together, not giving you the wingsecond's knot. I have no complaints about your job performance." Emphasis on the word 'job'. "I should have put one of the older males as the 'leader instead." She exhales, "I suppose." She doesn't continue staring at him or anything, allowing him his invisible wall as it were, and resumes her wave-watching. The bottle in her fingertips is not a soft drink, its amber liquid undulating as she plays slim fingers over the glass. Still, she's not attempting to sip from it at all. The singular answer almost draws a mirthless laugh. Instead her reply is a very dry, "Ya think?"

Ers'lan does get a little blunt rather suddenly, unable to hold back when he should - maybe that's his problem. He just barks loudly when he shouldn't: "Reckon it dun matter now. Whar be done be done." And the waves shall continue to roll, life goes on. He certainly enjoys keeping a very strict relationship between the two of them. There -was- a line drawn in the sand and he marked it with her 'title' when she first came to join him. Her last reply makes him consider her once, then shrug. It was the truth. He fills the conversational gap with a slosh from his bottle as he takes another swig.

Right. If he's going to throw it away, Thea isn't going to beg him not to. "Alright," she says quietly, rising from the sand in a fluid move. "I can't claim that every decision I make is the right one all the time, but there's no one else to do it at the moment. It's the way it works." She's still got the bottle in hand, the other is brushing sand off her bottom. "I did want to understand, but… well, there's no give with you at all. Maybe… maybe it isn't all Keizah's fault either." And she's walking away.

Ers'lan flickers his attention to her when she has some humility, likely not something he is privy to. A Weyrwoman, saying she made the wrong decision? He considers her for a while, even as she gets up and has the intention to leave. Finally he mutters, "Whar did ya expect? Tis narh like you and I be having a strong relationship. Reckon the last time we be havin some talk that whar narh all bad was when ya be giving me the brass ring from ship I be sailin on once…" He shakes his head, "Whar ya want me ta say bout what happened? Whar -can- I be sayin that narh be landing me in more mindhealer sessions?"

Thea never said she made the wrong decision; ask her and she'll set you straight on that Ers'lan. She's several strides away before she turns, giving him a long look. "I expected," she says evenly and slowly, as if speaking to a child very slow to grasp the basics, "That you might speak up about what happened between you and your wingleader, not give me one-word answers that really say nothing at all. I expected for you to help me understand beyond the three-times screaming fights I've witnessed between the two of you. I expected, perhaps mistakenly so, that you might welcome the chance to state your case without an injured and hyper-ventilating woman ready to faint who really did need medical attention present." She's not angry, despite the passionately-formed words, they are calmly given. "I expect a give and take, a communication between my leaders here at the Weyr. If you can't do that, then well. I made the right call the other day." Pause. "With both of you." She'll wait for a reply, but she's not lingering long.

Ers'lan heaves another great sigh, putting the bottle in the side beside him, freeing him up incase he needs or wants to get up. Her response has him mutter, "Reckon ya be sayin that befer… I be formin a better answer fer ya then…" He rolls his shoulder, clearly not on the same page with the Weyrwoman, but that's ok, not everyone can be. His jaw rolls when she indicates that she made the right choice. "Aye… maybe…" he notes idly as he finally climbs to his feet, dusting his rump off as well. "I reckon I be clueless bout the fear that Keziah be havin fer the infirmary. She dun narh talk ta me much bout herself… jus befer her screamin thar, the third time," he notes with some confusion, brushing it off, "we be agreein ta work on that. Ta work on us." A look over to Thea as he shoves a hand into his pocket, flapping his hand absently at his side to gesture, almost a hapless one.

"Ers'lan…" Okay now the Weyrwoman is showing a hint of frustration, "I asked you plainly what the deal was. If I didn't want to know, I wouldn't be out here asking you, would I? Did B'rdian ever give you that courtesy?" Yeah, she's pretty certain he didn't. She paces to close the space between them. Oh yes, she knows he's taller than her, doesn't matter. She is getting right in his face to make the eye contact he's been avoiding. If he tries to avoid it, she'll find it until his darting eyes and her dancing around becomes comical. "I work on a trust basis. I will trust my leaders, and I expect them to trust me. You knew me then - when we talked after your captain… perished. I am still that woman. I would never deliberately hurt you. I believed in you or I'd never have given you that wingsecond's knot in the first place." This then, is the deeper issue with her and she allows him to see the distress it causes him in the frank, open expression of her sea green eyes. "I… didn't know you two had had a… break-through." She exhales a long breath, releasing her tension. "I'm… I'm glad you did decide to work on talking through that though." Thoughtful then, she murmurs, "I'd no idea she had such a deep… " she searches for the word and comes up with, "antipathy towards the Infirmary. So if it helps? I am clueless there also." And she smiles. "Please. Just… stop pushing everyone away. Hmm?"

"Yah asked me whar be the deal. I be tellin ya it whar emotions. Did narh tell me I be needin ta talk a book full fer ya to be satisfied," he isn't always wrong. The matter of B'rdian has his eyes shift away from Thea. Some lingering trouble there. Then she's in his face, which in itself has him turning his gaze back on her so she doesn't have to really dance much at all to keep his attention - that close, anyone could keep his attention. Breaking the personal bubble does that. His retort to her claim that she's still the same is a hard and rather honest tone: "Reckon the -boy- I whar then is long gone… -I- be narh the same." It was before his impression after all and to have not had a good heart-to-heart since then has put them here, with him closed and walled in, hesitant to become her best friend. He listens for a time, nodding when her distress is seen and heard, "Aye. Reckon ya would narh know…Reason we be in this spot, aye." He draws his arms up to cross his chest, brow perked at the admission that Keziah hid that secret from the Weyrwoman as well. For the last, the smiles, the ask for him to stop pushing people away, his tongue is rolling over his teeth, looking unimpressed by the request, saying quietly, "I ain't…"

Thea's lips quirk in spite of the serious conversation, "I'll keep that in mind next time I need to drag anything out of you. I'll preface it with, 'Ers'lan, give me the harper version, not the sailor's version'." Faint humor, there but a hint of exasperation underneath it. She takes a half-step back, giving him more space when he stands up for himself and at least doesn't deflect her with another two-word answer. She nods, perhaps a touch sadly. "I rather liked that boy," she notes, in her mind blaming B'rdian, not Impression and that much is made clear when she grumbles the ex-wingleader's name under her breath. As for not being close since, well he's been busy, she's been running a Weyr but her door has always been open. This is a well-known fact commented about Xanadu about her lack of protocol and her approachability. His denial at the end sees her shrugging, "Whatever, but look. I'm not asking you to be best buddies with everyone, or… me for example. That's something that can't be forced. Just…" She sighs then, finishing with, "I'm only going on what I saw in the caverns, mind."

Despite the faint humor and the exasperation lacing the tone, it earns her a short chuckle and a quick nod with an appreciating tone, "Aye, good. Tis well ya do." Plain and simple right? Tell him what he's expected to do and he'll do it. The mention of the boy who he was earns a shrug, "Reckon people change." Not a two-word answer but a three word. She's making progress. And while other people might have been aware of the open door policy, this sailor wasn't and even if he was, it likely wouldn't have changed things. There is a definite respect in his mind for hierarchy and if any of the healers reported to Thea about his sessions, that was one thing they were able to get out of him. He doesn't go above his station to find support or help. As it is, he lifts an eyebrow at her unfinished statement, "Jus whar?" Her admission to the last makes him nod, "Aye. Narh much ta base yer opinions on, reckon that."

People change. "I guess they do." Oh no! Thea may be catching his short and simple! Having seen the healers reports is not something she's going to avoid mentioning, either. "If a problem is developing between two of my wingleaders, I tend to want to know before it explodes in the caverns. Not that… that was your fault, what happened. I thought you did very well considering the situation." She pivots on a bare heel, sand whispering underfoot as she paces away to sit back on the sand where they'd been before. "What I'm not understanding is what happened after the two of you talked in my office. Why it made things worse and she took off. The next thing I saw was you hauling her broken-handed self out of your ready room. I thought being co-leaders of a wing, the two of you had a good relationship." She's turning her head at his last question, perhaps several things about him clicking into place, "Just… how did you handle problems aboard ship-" Then her mouth sort of quirks in a chagrinned sort of way, "Ohhh, you probably punched it out and then went as best buds for a few ales, hmm?"

The brownrider remains standing as she pivots and goes to sit down, watching her from the corner of his eye as the conversation returns to the point of Keziah spouting off vile things about him since he was supposed to be sterile. The point of what happened in the office, isn't an easy answer. His hands go into his pockets as his eyes drift out toward the water front yet again, the final purples descending as the sky takes on a nightly hue. Finally he shrugs, "I reckon I dun narh be thinkin I be able ta have kids… She accused me of lyin 'n then I be accusin her of lyin." A sigh as he squats down, looking at a shellfish crawling out toward the coming tide, "Reckon she be wantin me ta admit that I be capable of havin kids. That t'was mine she be carryin. At the end of it, I be tryin ta help her 'n she dun want none of it. She made it clear that I be jus a wingsecond narh a friend… As fer why she left, reckon that'd be a question for her." He waits for a time, then stands back up, with his hands dusting off the sand, "As fer whar ya saw there, she be breakin her hand because she whar upset at me again. But then we be talkin and I be sayin how foolish it t'was us fightin… 'n I was going ta take her to the infirm." A look back at Thea, a brow arching high, "On a ship, the Cap'n is always right and he be handing his orders down ta the first 'n second mates, who be handing orders down to us ship mates. Orders be orders, break 'em and thar be no excuse. Problems were flogged out of us." The honest truth of it. "Ya learned narh ta question but jus be doin."

Thea is settled rump on the sands, knees drawn up, elbows on knees propping chin to watch the waves herself by the time he's squatting down. Rather than turning to stare directly at him she sends a lash-veiled sidelong look instead, listening carefully, though she's keeping her body relaxed. Silent after he's finished, eyes back out to sea, she considers all this, idly watching the pink-tinged silvered flash of fish jumping after their dinner as night edges evening into gathering shadow. She says nothing until after he answers her question about a ship, Slowly, thoughtfully, she nods, then tells him, "A Weyr isn't a ship, though it works a lot like one. There's a really big difference, though, Ers'an." And she drops her elbows, swivels in the sand towards him, tilts her head to make eye contact with him if he will allow it, "We have women and children and old folks. We're sort of a ship…family." A helpless shrug follows. It's the best analogy she can come up with on the spot. "So when things fall out like they did, sometimes… kindness, gentleness, patience works better than," cough, "flogging."

It seems like he comes from a past which clearly outlined his expectations and his punishments for not obeying, a strict way of life that kindness didn't have any part of. Even through Weyrlinghood, it was expected of them to behave a certain way or else face the consequences. Into his months under B'drian, it hadn't really changed, as B'rdian was strict on him and whipping him verbally instead of physically. It would only make sense that he thinks the way he does because of his experiences and because nothing has shown him a different pace. Search and rescue is a military style wing after all, so he responded well to the duty side of it, simply because that's the life he knew. The Weyr didn't really spend time to teach a brownrider how to manage people after all and that is where the pieces are missing. "Aye… " is his final response, inhaling deeply as he really doesn't seem to have anything valuable to add right then. Again, the captain is right mentality shines through, glaringly.

"Did you have a… close family growing up, Ers'lan? Was your father a kind man?" Yes, the clue-bulb has gone off over Thea's head as they've talked, all things coming together for her about his sea-faring life, Weyrlinghood and B'rdian. No, the Weyr hasn't taught him differently than what he's used to, although some people learn as they observe the families around them, while others come by it more naturally from experiences in their early years. And she's giving him an example of it right now: "So well, you might be used to one way,” she explains patiently, “but as you told me before, people change. And if you're going to be Acting Wingleader of Galaxy, you'll need to be doing a little bit of that." She waits to see if he gets her drift, the offer to put him back in charge. "Think of it this way: there's a way, a time and place for strict. And consequences. And there's a time to relent and draw someone close and listen, to comfort. I have some suggestions, if you'll hear them." Dark brows lift questioningly, is he up to that challenge?

That question earns a reaction: he grows tense and his chin juts down to the side. His response verbally comes with a fine edge to it, as if he was forcing the answer to bubble out, "Whar family?" He doesn't look back or over at Thea, he merely looks out to sea, "Be the Windy Waters be the first family I be havin, once." The memory of the time he spent sailing with those lads will never leave him, the survivors remorse remaining even after all these Turns. It isn't as bad as it was months after the incident, but it was still there, a faded feeling, replaced more strongly by the bond with Zhaoth and for his weyrmate Laera. As for the rest of the conversation, he finally cants his head down to her, nodding at her offered suggestions and her challenge, "Aye. I reckon I be hearin ya out." No fear there, ready to take on what he needs to, to become a more successful leader.

Thea, meanwhile dips her head to set that bottle she carried out here in the sand, both hands reaching for sand, "Sometimes we have to let go of the ballast-" Slim fingers of one hand loosen to allow the grains to escape in a slow trickle while the other holds the handful fast. Green eyes flicker up to him with a keen look in the gathering dusk, some sort of understanding glints in them at his ‘what family?’ before she drops them back to her 'task'. She opens the palm of her hand and begins slowly dumping the sand from her other hand into it. "-and take on the new. I've a few books I'll loan you that they gave me to read when I became a Junior - people management types that talk about personalities and how to draw the best out of them. I'd also like you to spend some time watching some of the Weyr's families. Oh-" her hand is empty now and thus she waves it in her characteristic way, "start with dinner at my place." She pauses, then adds with a roguish grin, "That's an order."

"Aye… reckon Laera be havin a big impact on me life these days…" that brass ring that Thea gave to him, is no longer on his neck. If she sees the bluerider, Laera will be wearing it instead. At this point he pivots to return to his dune in the sand, where he left his own bottle, slumping right back into the butt shaped wallow he's made. He seems not to react to the task of reading books, merely making mental notes with an absent nod or sound of acknowledgement. It was the fact that he'd have to spend time with Weyr's families that made him crease his brow and consider Thea, the dinner making him blink hard at her, "Uhm-" about to find a reason to get out of it until it becomes an order, at which point he adds, "Reckon ya keep yer little man off me legs this time." His hand scuffles through his hair, scratching in points before he makes to find his bottle and dust off the rim, having another long swish from it.

Dryly, "I'll be cooking. So it'll be D'had keeping Muir off you. Only if you call him 'little man'? All bets are off on how long that'll last." Green eyes glimmer with a bit of mischief as she tracks him to his dune and that bottle. "You'll be a papa not too many months from now. When you hold your two babes in your arms…" She dumps the sand, brushes both hands together briskly, snags that bottle she'd brought, rises to step his way, reaching with a finger to gently tap-tap over his sternum if he doesn't deflect it. "It will do something-" Her lips form a secretive smile, "-right in here. And it will help balance the harsh more naturally." Then his shoulder is patted, that second bottle offered. It's a bottle of ex-Weyrleader D'son's finest whiskey, bearing the still uncracked seal of Ista. "Congratulations, on both counts." Between two fingers dangles Galaxy's Wingleader's knot. If he doesn't take them, she'll be dropping them in his lap before departing with a soft chuckle.

"Reckon I be a gamblin man…" he notes with some hint of mirth warming his otherwise hard voice. The scope of reality of becoming a father makes him gulp, loud enough that she could hear, his eyes dancing toward her, "Reckon I be 'fraid of that… T'was finally becomin ok with bein without kids fer me life… 'Fraid now, reckon cause I dun narh wanna be like me own ph'dar…" His jaw rolls and his tongue glazes over his teeth yet again, watching her as she moves and points toward him with the promised changed. He knits his brows as his gaze follows her movements, looking at the bottle that is offered to him suddenly. He thought she was going to drink it! His hand instinctively cannot resist the offer and moves to accept, drawing it close to inspect the seal at which point his eyebrows perk up, "Tis narh everyday a bloke gets ta taste good whiskey like this 'ere… Reckon I be thankin yah…" And then the knot of the Wingleader's knot is there before him again. To that, he does a double take at Thea's face, hesitant to take it. Well, he doesn't go for it and it's dropped in his lap regardless. The soft chuckle has him left wondering… watching her with a wordless reply, lips unable to form anything reasonable right then.

At that audible gulp of his, Thea nearly loses control and lets her face split with a huge smug grin, but no, she contains it (manfully?), simply nodding in an understanding sort of sympathy. It's a big change, having little ones. Scary! As her hand offers that bottle, then releases it to fall softly into his lap along with the knot she notes, "This stuff, for all you men seem to think it's wonderful makes me gag. And yes, I drank enough of it to become drunk. Once. Never again." All said with a whimsical 'boy did I learn my lesson' sort of ruefulness, not any sort of judgment on him. And as she turns to go, there's a look at him over her shoulder. The possibility of repeating the mistakes of his father? "You won't," she says firmly. Then she salutes him and leaves him to the night.

Ers'lan watches her leave, even with that firm retort that he won't be a bad dad, has him left staring after her, caught up in his silent confliction. That's the moment in which Zhaoth climbs to his feet now, free of firelizards, offering a rumble as Thea heads out, waddling over to his rider who receives a loving nudge. Ers'lan shakes his head at something unspoken between them, pressing his forehead up against the brown in a very affectionate moment.

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