Gratitude 2.0

Xanadu Weyr - Candidate Barracks
A long, low ceilinged room opens off the entrance hall to the arena. One wall is slightly curved, set against the outer wall of the arena itself. Cots are set in two rows along the length of the room, each with its own small press at the foot for personal belongings. Wide windows are spaced along the outside wall, letting sunlight in, while other lights are available for the night time hours. It's always warm here when there are eggs on the sands, and candidates seldom need more than a light blanket.

Night time meant darkness and with darkness comes restlessness for the starcraft apprentice known as Valerian, unable to get his circadian rhythm in synch with the rest of his class. Daytime brought fatigue and eventually slumber, usually midchore, in the most precarious and uncomfortable looking of positions. Once he'd fallen asleep standing up and sagged against a tree while 'hunting', another time he'd lost consciousness over a line upon which rugs had been hung for beating, and a third yet example was the time that he'd rested his head 'just for a minute' halfway through a load of laundry and woke up just after dusk. It meant a lot of tossing and turning once curfew was called, with a shield of merciless stone between himself and the unreachable sky which called his name. More than a few times in the last couple of hours he's awoken one of his fellows on one or the other side of him thanks to the squeaking of springs with each change of position meant to draw the sandman closer, gotten his fair share of dirty looks, and as he clutches the pillow that had been so recently thrown at him to his chest, he stares ineffectively up at the wall of rock that keeps him from his truest of friends. The stars. There was an ache in him that had started low and itchy, but as the seconds ticked by, steadily grew. Now it pounded at him along with the beating of his heart, compelling him to do something before he simply went insane. Not even the gentle (and not so gentle) sounds of snoring or snorting several cots over is distracting enough to keep him from slowly sitting up and yanking on his boots. He could lay there all night and he wouldn't be able to sleep, the least he could do while he was awake is find some candidate based chore outside beneath the stars so at least he could feel somewhat useful and sate the cravings of his soul. As quietly as he can, he creeps across the barracks towards the door, not wanting to disrupt those who had managed to find their rest.

If they could sleep through the creak of springs, those other more diurnal candidates should at least have a chance of sleeping through Valerian's sneak past their cots. There's a few that stir as he passes, though whether woken or merely restless from their dreams it's hard to say. It's starting to look like he'll succeed, and that's when the door opens. It's dim outside the barracks, little more than night lights, and framed in the doorway is a tall shadow looking in. It's R'eyn, come to do a late-night inspection of the barracks and make sure all the candidates are safe and sound in bed! Which means, of course, that his eyes quickly focus in on the one who isn't in bed. There's an arch of R'eyn's brows as he looks at Valerian, and then a come-here gesture with his hand before he steps back from the door, holding it open for the candidate. No words, of course; that might wake up one of the sleepers.

Every time someone twitches, Valerian freezes and winces in silence. Slowly he turns towards whomever was stirring and then waits with heart thudding patience for the individual to settle and return to whatever dreams may come. Suffice to say, the progress is slow at best, and had he not cared so much about the rest of his class the starcrafter might have been fortunate enough to not find the door opening so close to victory to find a wall of bluerider in his way. In mid-sneak he becomes a statue of his former self, grey eyes at first locked on the center of R'eyn's chest and slowly slide upwards to meet blue. Blink. Blink - Blink. Reflexively, a grin that is decidedly all teeth in wolfish quality suddenly appears on the sixteen turn old's face. Yes, hello. The expression vanishes in the next second with come-hither gestures and the way opened to him, conjuring up a soundless but heavy sigh with a slump of shoulders, and he propels himself as silently forward through the space that had opened up for him. Just as quiet, he steps off to the side so that the assistant weyrlingmaster can shut the door again, undoubtably to buffer those who yet slumber from his proceeding ass kicking.

R'eyn's expression remains unchanging in response to Valerian's there and gone again grin, exposing nothing more than mild curiosity. Whatever else he's feeling, it's hidden behind a wall of reserve. He does, in fact, close the door behind them, the better to make sure they don't keep everyone else awake. Candidates need their sleep! Which Valerian doesn't seem to have been getting, except in daytime naps that barely count. "So," R'eyn says after a moment or two's pause, and follows it with another one. "You want to tell me what's going on?" This… does not sound like an ass-kicking. Not yet, at least; there's more curiosity and patience in his quiet tone than would fit with that course of events.

As if to ensure that no other candidates are roused, Valerian continues to tip toe and side step until some distance is between that shut door and himself, peeking over at it as if to mentally check on the exact measurement and calculate it against the frequency with which sound carries. Only once he seems to find the correct ratios does he lean himself back against the wall directly behind him. He doesn't look nervous or fidgety, other than occasional peeks here and there around R'eyn back towards the place from which he had come, "I can't sleep at night," he says quietly, trying to keep his voice to a tone that won't inadvertently disturb those that lay beyond, "Even before I joined the starcraft." Another glance the way of the closed door and then his eyes return to the bluerider, "I think I was one of the first searched after Leirith clutched and I have tried everything to keep myself up during the day, but…" It has been completely useless, from extra PT a few hours before curfew to drinking a whole pot of klah right at the start of the day. That one though, well, his racing heart had him pretty quickly into the infirmary where he was given something to bring the rate back down and then was told to sleep it off. "…the longest I've managed to make it is early afternoon."
R'eyn listens to Valerian, unmoving and unchanging as he explains his problem. There's a moment further he waits, as if to see if there's more, and then he nods. "There are some things about ourselves we can't change," he says. "It's true of everyone - you, me, all the rest." He makes a gesture toward the wall that separates them from the candidates who are actually sleeping. "But… if you can't change your body's schedule - and I do believe you that you've tried - why are you still trying?"

The starcrafter was still checking on that door and really he seems more concerned about waking his fellow candidates than the fact he'd been caught trying to sneak out of the barracks. He does make sure to give R'eyn all due respect and pay attention to what the man has to say, but he can't seem to help double, triple and quadruple ensuring that he isn't being disruptive somehow. As the assistant weyrlingmaster goes on, Valerian drops his gaze at some point and in true teenager fashion lifts and drops his shoulders in that shrugging thing that can be either telling or irritating. "What else am I supposed to do? Lay there on my cot and stare at the ceiling all night? I keep falling asleep in the middle of my chores, which means they aren't getting done." The boy sounds, well, frustrated. However, he was still managing to keep his tone of voice soft and in that low hush that didn't carry far at all. In fact, even R'eyn might have trouble hearing him now and then. "I don't want to get kicked out because it looks like all I want to do is nap."

The corners of R'eyn's mouth shift downward slightly, a faint grimace for Valerian's first words before he eases that expression off his face for the talk of undone chores and the real concern here - which is to say, what it might make people think, and how that might impact Valerian's ability to be around. "That's not the question I meant." Isn't it just like authority to change definitions until they get an answer they want? R'eyn half-smiles. "If the goal is to have you doing chores during the day, you're right - your choices would be to find a way to sleep at night, or fail." He lets that last word hang in the air a moment before continuing. "Chores are not the goal of candidacy. Do you know what is?" And now, a leading question!

Grey eyes lift from the ground, following by a slight upwards angle of his chin. Valerian looks, perplexed. Then, confused. "It isn't?" Yeah no, R'eyn has gone and broken the poor kid's brain with that and soon thereafter it's obvious that he's desperately trying to make sense of what doesn't. If that was not the question that was being asked of him, then what was. Brows furrow and knot and this does not seem to help with the amount of frustration that he usually hid behind wide toothy grins and should that bobbled in silent laughter (or not so silent). Everything was not throwing caution to the wind and doing as he pleased regardless of the consequences as it may seem to those candidates that interacted with him on a mostly evening-type basis. Many heads were likely shook in passing, spotting him snoozing away wherever he happened to pause long enough that his fatigue overwhelmed him, and so when R'eyn presents what Valerian had believed to be his continued failure at being a 'proper' candidate…the boy winces. Yep, he had most certainly failed at doing any chore completely. A breath is taken in and then slowly released as a hand drifts up to his face and he rubs lightly at the bridge of his nose. He wasn't tired, but he was exhausted. He hadn't slept properly since that night that Risali had knotted him and while he loved his sister deeply, he'd be lying if he hadn't thought she'd made him a candidate simply to mess with him in this way, "I…" he starts and then while his mouth remains open, no sound comes out. That there, was a camera worthy expression. Valerian, leaned against a wall, gaping like a fish out of water with his eyes bugging slightly out of his skull. The message here was fairly obvious: Nope. He didn't seem to have a clue to what the weyrlingmaster was referring to. It had to be deeper than doing chores until they were thrust practically naked wearing nothing but white dresses at newly hatched dragonets. He got that, but it was hard to think of philosophical reasons when your brain was fried. "…don't know. Uh…make friends…touch the eggs…don't get mauled?"

"It isn't," R'eyn confirms, but after that, he lets Valerian stew on the question. He can wait all night - or at least, he gives that impression with his impassively-patient expression and quiet as the starcrafter-candidate cycles through thoughts and expressions in the hopes of finding one that fits. Which Valerian eventually does, even if it's not very philosophical. "We don't actually care if you make friends, but you'll generally be happier if you do." He smiles, just a bit. "Touching eggs and not getting mauled are part of it, though." Which could be a lead-in to him asking Valerian for more thought, but the assistant weyrlingmaster takes pity on his tired state instead. "There are two goals of candidacy." He lifts a hand to count on fingers. "First, to make you ready for a dragon if you impress one. Touches, lessons, training. For those of you who can already read, write, and run, that mostly just means touches." And not getting mauled. "Second. Make sure you aren't slacking off and wasting time, either by doing chores… or working in an established craft."

Well, yes, that was a given. Valerian had been just tossing things off the top of his head at random there, but two out of three wasn't bad. Truth be told, he could care less about making friends himself, he was quite young and those if any, would come with time. Now starcrafting? That was his passion and if he could somehow manage to find himself a lifemate and still practice? To visit The Yokohama whenever he liked? To be in space? A shiver runs down his back that is left unexplained, but it probably wouldn't be too difficult to figure out. Not with the look that the boy levels on R'eyn all perpetual and barely contained excitement, "I can read, write and…" There's that grin, the one that makes his face more teeth than anything else. From the looks of him, physical fitness was not a concern. Oh, he could run. He loved to run in fact. To jump. To climb. To get as high, as close to his beloved stars as gravity and topographies would allow. Much to the heart clutching paled faces of his craftmaster's chagrin, "Please tell me that means I can sleep during the day and craft at night….please tell me that's what your saying…"

Not like R'eyn was in any doubt about Valerian's basic skills. Those candidates who lack in them are generally notable enough that the weyrling staff learn the list of them to recognize on sight. He smiles, just slightly, as he nods to Valerian's agreement on those counts. "That is what I'm saying, yes." He smiles a bit more. "You'll still have to make a few things during the day. There are some lessons and planned trips… but those will be exceptions, and you can set an alarm for them and drink your klah." It's much easier to be up for four hours out of your sleep cycle than twelve. "Have the starcraft send up a report on what you're doing for them." Somebody's got to check up on things! "It's probably even early enough that you could get started tonight… if you want." This is a very silly question. Really, it's more of an invitation to Valerian to get the shell out of these barracks and into the starry night!

There was a distinct lack of lacking in all things physical fitness, so Valerian would most certainly not be on that list of candidates to be watching out for. As the weyrlingmaster confirms what he suggested with a factual statement, the boy is ignited. Every cell buzzing and electricity shooting through him from someplace hidden till then. Of course later, he would probably pass out, but the difference there would be that it would be done most contentedly as he gave into all that fatigue, but this time it would be free of the guilt that he wasn't measuring up to standards presented by his fellow candidates. It's entirely possible that he doesn't hear the 'buts' or need for 'alarms' because he's practically bouncing in place. In all of that surge of endorphins and relief, he launches himself at poor R'eyn and grabs his face even if he has to put himself up onto his toes to do it. The man be tall, yo. MWA! A hard press of lips to his and then the kind of hug that suggests homicidal intent with arms flung around the weyrlingmaster's neck and he's gone before he can suffer the consequences of such a breach in conduct. Zoooooooooooooooooom, around the corner and most definitely out into the night.

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