Sky Blue

Xanadu Weyr - Dragon's Rest Farm
In contrast to the gigantic barn is the smaller homestead. The structure is a small two-level cottage, complete with a covered porch that sweeps around the exterior. The wooden slats of the house seem freshly painted, as if this old place has been brought back to life by careful hands. A chair-swing sways beneath the shade of the porch, moving with the slightest breeze off the sea. Inside, the quaint space has been decked out with the comforts one might expect. Fluffy rugs cover hardwood floors, and finely carved furniture dominates most of the spaces. A few things here and there seem older, heirlooms that now have a new place to call home.

Everything within the cottage is comfortable, rather than elaborate. Though it may have once been empty, there is now a warm, welcoming feel to the place. Many large windows and sliding doors look out upon both the training field and across the road, a view of the beach and the sea beyond. Even on the hottest days, these can be opened to let in air and leave the rooms cool and comfortable. Set back a ways from many of the other Weyrbarns along the roadway, there is plenty of room for those who need a bit of space and privacy. There is plenty of space, leaving room to grow, to learn, to expand, and most of all… it is a warm, safe place to come home to when the day's tasks are done.

Searching. Searching. Galaxy is out at it again, sweeping low across another area of Cold Stone. The dragons cast shadows against the snow as they soar above it. Looking. Searching. Seeking signs of … anything. Ka'el has left them to it. He's been back and forth between Xanadu and ColdStone, checking in on riders. Getting updates. Soaring upon Kanekith himself. Each time is more difficult than the last. Empty-handed. Empty-handed. He comes home with nothing each time. No new news. No Weyrwoman. No …nothing. He hasn't rejoined Galaxy today, opting to keep his feet on Xanadu and his mind open for the influx of information that comes in spurts through Kanekith. Reports from the leaders of the Wings carried on the thoughts of their lifemates. It's a wonder leaders don't go mad in these times. Silence can be suddenly interrupted by information overload, but it's never information that he needs to hear. And so, Ka'el has to give his mind a break. It probably isn't fair. Those riders aren't getting a mental break .. but neither are they getting as much as he in their heads. Thus, Ka'el has left the Caverns, carrying two buckets. He's walked through the clearing with those buckets and to the coast with those buckets and an expression that most have correctly interpreted as 'don't bother me now'. And now he heads to his weyr with those buckets, one grasped on the handle by each hand.

Soriana's been to Cold Stone sometimes, in those days. More often, she's been here. Well, not here. She's barely managed to be in her own weyr, even to sleep. Skyler is getting used to the nursery. He's doing well at it, even. The nannies say so. Which is good, because if he weren't… Soriana's not sure what she'd do, actually. She'd figure out something. Maybe. She's glad she doesn't have to, though, because she's been busy figuring out what a Weyr does absent a Senior Weyrwoman. How a Weyr mourns. How work gets reapportioned. What gets left behind. She's figured out that being in the office means that work doesn't get done, which is why she stalked around to everyone's desk - hers and her mother's included - and picked up a nice big stack of papers, then went by the nursery to pick up her son and took the both of them back to the weyr. The place is a mess. She doesn't care. She's sitting at the kitchen table with Skyler in one arm and a pen in the other, and she is Doing. This. Accursed. Paperwork. … well. Some of it. The important stuff. The rest is being ruthlessly culled into a heap called Later.

The place is a mess. How could it not be, with two ferrets, four firelizards (or is it five?), and a baby to cause those messes that no one has time to clean up. Ka'el enters and pauses, peering at the mess. At the stuff on the floor. At the things out of order. He closes the door and moves further in with those buckets still in his hands, gripped tightly as if by letting them go he'll lose his resolve on … whatever it is he's resolved himself to do. Step one, get home. He's home. And his home is crying the loss of their Weyrwoman. Some … have given up. It's no longer a rescue mission to them. It's a recovery mission. Recover her body. Bring her home. Ka'el shakes away these wayward thoughts, eyes flickering to Soriana and Skyler, his family. The kitchen is approached and entered, and he heads towards them and the papers on the table. The papers don't interest him in the slightest, but his weyrmate and son do. "Someone can come and take care of the mess," he says. They have people for that. He's the Weyrleader. He has people for everything. Soriana is a Junior. She has people too. Between the both of them, they have plenty who can pick up the slack … when mourning is done. When sadness has receded. The lidded buckets are finally set down nearby, and both Skyler and Soriana receive a kiss to their cheeks. "Stop doing that," he says with a glance to her paperwork. "We need to fix his room. I brought paint. I don't know what colors are good, but I brought colors for a boy. Brown. Blue."

Shards, don't ask Soriana to count. She's lost track of things like numbers, at this point, and Skyler's not nearly old enough to do it himself. There's some firelizards. More than there are humans. Fewer than humans plus dragons. Ooh, math. Maybe Soriana can do that accounting form after all, or… could, but Ka'el has different ideas. She blinks up at him. Someone can come… and invade their house, move things and put them down somewhere different and put the cups away upside down? "Yeah." Sure, what does she care? It's all just stuff. It's not actually important. People are important. Thea is (was?) important. No. Is, regardless of whether she's actually coming home after this. Paperwork is sometimes important. The stuff that puts food on people's tables and makes sure they have roofs over their heads, that's important. The hard part is figuring out which paperwork does that and which is just… paperwork. Stop doing it? Soriana frowns, replacing the worn half-smile that had been there a moment before. It's not that she doesn't want to stop, it's just… what if it is important? It's already been sitting there, and… well. It can sit a while longer. Skyler's room. Soriana glances down to him, meets those blue eyes that are focusing far better than they did a few weeks ago. "…he can repaint it when he's older." Because giving a five turn old paint is a great idea, right? "We… should do the ceiling blue." She swallows, and there's a catch to her voice as she adds, "-like the sky." Her eyes? Wet? …yeah. Yeah they are. But never mind that. She pushes back her chair, rising from that paperwork.

Paperwork has waited. His has too. Documents and forms that need his attention. His signature. His approval. It can wait another hour. Hour and a half. The people will have their food and their roofs and their supplies. They won't go without the things they need for survival, but it can wait another hour, for what's an hour compared to the many hours in one's lifetime? And one lifetime is all they have. Thea … has made that fact very real to Ka'el. When will his life end? When will it be Kanekith who blinks out of existence, possibly taking Ka'el himself with him? There is no clock that he can look at that tells him how much time he has left. There's no timer. Nothing. His moments here with Soriana and Skyler are … limited. Set to an invisible schedule. Today, he is scheduled to be here with them, doing what needs to be done. And that could mean paperwork. It could also mean painting an unfinished bedroom for their son so that when he is ready to graduate from sleeping in their bedroom within a bassinette, he has his own to go to. But the thing that needs to be done could also be something else. A something else that concerns moist eyes and sad faces. Cracked voices and frowns that deepens the lines of the brow and mouth. Sky blue… Ka'el's eyes close at that, and his head bows a little at the memory that comes with the phrase. Blue, like the sky. Eyes reopen. "He'd like that…" he finally says after exhaling slowly. " …So would she, I think…" He watches her as she rises, wraps his arms around her when she's up, pulling her and Skyler to him. Another kiss is given, this time to Soriana only. To her temple, where his lips press and hold for a long moment before pulling back. "If I stop moving, it'll catch up to me. Everything will flood my brain. Every minute I've ever spent with her. Every conversation we've ever had. .. I need to be present. In the present. I need to paint his room."

All the clocks ever say is that it's later than it was before. Time passes, but how valuable is that time? That… well. It's hard to say. What needs to be done with it? There's all sorts of things that need to be done, or at least, that someone will say need to be done. Paperworks. Consultations. They're all so important, and sometimes… none of them are actually important. The ones that are actually important are easily pushed aside… just for a little while, but it's easy to let the 'little whiles' pile up. If you let them. If you don't take time for them, make time for them. Writing onto the schedule of life can't be done on a calendar. It's done by a million tiny decisions, a million actions. A million pieces of paper, filled out or… left behind. Soriana adjusts her hold on Skyler as she rises. Painting? Yeah, it's important, but it's something they could get someone else in to do. There's maintenance workers who could do a far better job of putting color onto walls than they could. If that were the most important thing to be done… but it isn't. Not really. Skyler… sure, he'd like that. He'd also like a pink ceiling, or a black and white striped one. He's not very picky about his ceilings. That's not the point. He'd like that. And she… Soriana keeps her eyes up, open. She'd like that. "Yeah." Only a bit of waver to her voice. "I think so." If only Soriana could ask, but she can't. Still. She thinks so. She smiles, quavery-like, as Ka'el applies that kiss, and shifts Skyler in her arms. "I don't want to forget," she says quietly. All the moments. All the conversations. All the advice and laughter and everything, from an introduction in a field of runners to… "Let's paint his room." Instead of just… remembering.

"We won't ever will," Ka'el assures. Their minds won't allow them to forget. Few minds will. And minds like Skyler's too young to hold a memory of a person he's only met once, will not have memories of their own, but they will be told stories of the Senior that they were destined to never know. A Senior who once called him Sky Blue. His parents won't forget. Today, Ka'el does not want to dwell. Dwelling leads to depression. He's already gotten the reports. Riders who have succumbed to it. Dragons, flightless and woeful. A dragon as aloof as Kanekith is helpful in these times. He mourns, he grieves, but he has not broken. Neither has Ka'el, who feels the same as his lifemate. He won't forget, but he does not allow his mind to sink into a pit too deep and dark to fully recover from. They'll paint. Thea is … possibly…probably gone. Skyler is very much here, as is Soriana and the rest of the Weyr. Life has a funny way of continuing, not pausing even for Death. "I'll open the windows," he says, stepping back to hoist the paint buckets again, one in each had as before. "We can bring Skyler's basket close but not inside, so he's not alone. I already had the room readied for painting.." But that was months ago. Two of them, actually, before Skyler's arrival. And since then, it's remained nothing but 'readied'. Readied, but untouched. Til now, out of necessity. "I'll have go back later.." To Cold Stone? To the office? He doesn't specify. "But that's later. .. unless someone fi- .. unless someone contacts me with news." He starts towards the hall, towards the incomplete room that's not terribly far from their own.

"No," Soriana agrees. "We won't." They won't forget. Skyler won't forget either, once he's old enough to remember. He'll have to be told the stories, but there will be plenty of those. So many things to remember. The ceiling can be a reminder. Blue. Soriana nods to Ka'el about Skyler's basket. "I'll get it." She can handle baby and basket at the same time. She's gotten good at juggling in these months… at least for certain kinds of juggling. Baby juggling. "I should go back too." Will she? Maybe, maybe not. She knows she should. But… if there's news, she will. If there's someone else who's… having a hard enough time that they need attention now, she will. Luraoth's been visiting some of the dragons most affected, those whose riders are… aren't handling it well. Not that anyone's handling this well, but some are handling it better than others. Luraoth visits them. She shares their thoughts, listens to them… redirects those thoughts, in gentle ways. She encourages them to remember instead of wanting to forget. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Or. Hasn't yet. Luraoth hasn't given up on them. Soriana's not… she's… not expecting Thea back anymore, but that's not the same as giving up. Even if it's… beginning to get to the point where they might have to consider giving up on the search. There's only so many patrols that can be flown, so much of the mountains to cover. Those riders are needed back here. It's just… too big. The mountains. The problem. Which is why, today, they're just going to focus on one small room for one small baby. Soriana gathers up his basket, a blanket to tuck around him and a fluffy toy with a rattle for him to mostly ignore. He's been paying attention to things like that more lately… but mostly only when someone else is holding them.

The room. Empty. Baby-sized things. Baby-sized furniture. These things have been clustered. Covered with plastic. Someone knew what he was doing when getting this place ready. The things needed to be protected, much like those fragile dragons that are under Luraoth's care. Protected by the young gold queen like Skyler's furniture is blanketed by a thin layer of plastic. Luraoth's protection is stronger. Her guidance, a living, warm thing. This room is just an empty space of laid plastic, but it will grow. It will become a place where play is had and fun memories are made. A room in which stories are told and many songs are hummed to a boy who'll be lulled to sleep in the arms of his mother. Or his father. Messes will be made in this room. Juice spilled. Ouchies bandaged. It was a storage place before. An empty space now. A boy's room in the future. Things change all the time. Day to day, turn to turn. The cans are situated somewhere in the middle of the room, where paintbrushes of varying widths and lengths are laid out in no real order amidst rolling pans. He pries one bucket open, revealing a light blue paint. Painting can't be too difficult. There's probably a rhyme and reason to it, but Ka'el's not thinking about that now. He's thinking about Skyler. And Sori. And painting. And fall. And winter. The seasons that will come and go … without their Senior for the first time since his arrival. He tips the paint, letting the liquid pour into a rolling pan. Fluid sky. "…It's not bad, is it?" he asks, righting the can, "to want.. to need to do other things in the middle of this? Is it wrong?"

Soriana settles Skyler into his basket. The trick is getting him tucked in just right, snug without being too tight, and then he… well. He may still cry. He does that sometimes for no discernable reason, as well as all the ones they've learned to discern. Sometimes things just… happen, even if they're not supposed to. Days that were supposed to be like any other turn to tragedies. Babies that aren't hungry or wet or tired… cry anyway. Maybe it's teething. The boogeyman in the closet… heh. Maybe this room will acquire one of those, when a small boy looks at shadows in the dark and decides to be scared. If he does… maybe his parents can tell him how they've set a pair of dragons outside to guard him. Luraoth is good at keeping nightmares away. That's what she's been doing around the Weyr… but surely not every day will be like these ones. These days happen, but things… they'll get better. Right? (They'd better.) Soriana glances to Ka'el, and she smiles wryly. "Yeah. I mean… I can't just… we can't just all sit around and feel sorry for ourselves." Sure they could. Nothing would get done and the roof would fall in and the walls wouldn't be painted… but they could. A sound from Skyler turns Soriana's attention back to him. It's not a fuss… exactly. More just a burble, but it reminds her to finish tucking him in. "It's… not like Thea stopped because D'had left." She says it to Skyler, or at least while looking at him. Maybe it's more for Ka'el, though. "So… we shouldn't stop either." So she doesn't. She gets Skyler settled, in the hallway where he can vaguely see the decorative process. Soriana comes in, to look over the brushes and pick one that looks about right. Okay, Skyler. Time to be educated about how to apply paint to surfaces. Or… maybe about what not to do? Either way, he's not going to remember it… yet. This or anything else; they've still got time to figure out how to do it right. How to make it look good, even if there will be cracks and bubbles in the paint. Life won't be perfect. Neither will Skyler's room, but… it'll be painted.

It's true. Thea didn't stop. And likely, she wouldn't want Xanadu to stop living because of her …. death. She is dead, isn't she? The possibility that she's survived has dwindled with every passing hour, and how many hours has it been already since the minds of all of Xanadu's riders were bombarded with frantic fear? So many. Too many to keep the hope of life aflame. There was a blizzard. There's so much snow. So many mountains. So much area to search. Keep moving forward. It's becoming a mantra. Oh, he'll pause to mourn in his own private way, but it won't last for days upon days upon weeks and months. Keep moving forward. Let's begin by painting a room. Ka'el's eyes have stayed upon Soriana as she spoke and tucked in Skyler. They've stayed upon Skyler after she's moved away from him, safe from the fumes of fresh paint. "So, we won't," he agrees, eyes sweeping back to Soriana. "We won't stop, and we won't let others stop for too long, either. Thea wouldn't want it that way. She was always doing something. Always working. Planning.." Making baby jackets, too. He situates a ladder, another one of these painting tools that was likely brought months ago in preparation for the makeover, and presses a booted foot upon the bottom step. "Skyler'll love this. He's never seen a blue ceiling before." And the kid is the king of ceilings. He stares up at them a lot! And thus, their projects begins. The first of many in the years to come for their child, likely. What will he need next? What will he want when he's able to request things? The future is such an open book! But this page, this chapter, belongs to Skyler's room. The ceiling is plain, but eventually, it will be streaked with blue. The floor will be sprinkled with it too, dripped paint that splatters on the protective plastic like droplets of a rainshower. Little by little, more ground is covered. White, to pale blue. Pale blue, to a pale blue that has a bit more zest to it as layers are added. Uncoordinated layers, but still .. layers. Layers rolled on by doting parents who press on through tragedy. It takes some time, especially when pauses are needed to entertain Skyler, who'll eventually fall asleep for an unknown amount of time, but eventually, after paint-refills and brush changes, the ceiling is painted. Imperfectly, but who besides a painter would notice those imperfections up there?

Not that Thea's here to tell them what she actually would want. That's the worst part of it, or at least, the part that keeps coming back to mind when Soriana doesn't want it to. Thea's not there to ask, not just because she's gone home for the day or is in a meeting, but because she's gone. For… yeah, for good. There's not much point in denying it. Keep moving forward? They will. The search continues. The mission to find… whatever they can. But… if Thea's out there still, she's found a way to survive without them. She's moved on and hasn't thought to send even a firelizard back to reassure them… and that doesn't sound like Thea. Not at all. So… Thea's gone, but Xanadu won't stop. Soriana and Ka'el won't stop. Skyler won't… stop growing. He's already getting a bit big for some of the smaller baby-clothes they got him. Soriana's starting to believe that why the time winter comes around, he will be ready to wear that coat. They'll… probably even be ready to put it on him, to be reminded of Thea when they look to Skyler and see him wearing it. Another of the reminders, around a Weyr that has so many of them. It's been Thea's Weyr for how many turns? Enough that there are reminders of her in every corner. Of Thea living, of Thea working… "Even on her rest day." Usually. Except for rare exceptions, but even then she wasn't one to sit still. The baby coat is proof of that. The trip to Cold Stone that… she only made in one direction. Soriana's going to focus on one direction too. Forward. She's going to keep moving. Away from Skyler, once he's settled, but she'll be back to him plenty of times. "We'll get this taken care of." The ceiling? Well, yes, but the ceiling is just the start. Just the start of the things Skyler will need, will want. Wait until he can actually ask for things! Just the start of other things, too. The start of all the things that will need to be done around the Weyr. The start of all the many projects that need to be done, the start… well, no, the middle. The middle of moving forward, the next of a series of next steps that have gotten them this far and will take them… who knows? Not them, but they're going to find out. It'll be somewhere new. There's always something new. Soriana takes up brush and paint, because the current something new is a new color for the ceiling. Blue. Blued and bluer, a shade that's first uneven and then… less uneven. It's still not entirely even. They're not painters, these two, and the light's misleading sometimes. Still, it's definitely bluer than it was, and the imperfections can be something for a boy to stare at when he's lying in his crib, to make up stories about when he's refusing to sleep or staying home sick. If they… but Soriana's not had that thought for days, has she? It's somehow drifted out, less important when everything's a flurry of getting searches coordinated and supplies ordered and maybe - if they're lucky - picking Skyler up from the nursery before he's the very last of the babies left. Taking the time to think about it would require her having time to think, and she hasn't. She's just been moving forward. Today that means painting, and not thinking… which seems to have an awful lot of thinking about it, even so. But… at least it means they have other things to think about as well. Like… "Stripes on the walls, maybe?"

They're not painters. There's cleaning up to do once painting is over. The washing of brushes. The collecting of unused paint. The putting away of supplies. All things that one would do when accustomed to painting…or perhaps even when unaccustomed to it. But, Ka'el doesn't make a move to do those necessary things. The cans will be left open for a time. The unused paint in those pans may end up drying. And the paint on the brushes may do the same, rending them unusable later. But his mind isn't on that. His mind is on the blue ceiling, which is where his eyes are too. It does sort of look like the sky, doesn't it? "If we wanted…we could have someone come in here and really make it look nice. Believable. With clouds, maybe. Maybe a flock of avians." If they wanted. There are a lot of things they could do and have, if they wanted. If they asked. If they were the type of people to want for things and demand them, there would be very little left to want. A slow breath is exhaled as he rests his paintbrush down in the plastic bin, glancing to his blue fingers. "Stripes?" he says, looking to the blank walls now. Blue. Brown. White? Hm. "Stripes would look nice…" he says, slowly nodding in agreement. "…I don't know if my painting skills are up to the task. We may need to hire someone … else risk endin' up with zig-zags," he says with a mild smirk that feels alien on his face. Smiling has been … so far from his mind. There's been little to no reason to crack even the barest of ones in the last day, and he nearly…nearly feels guilty for doing so now. But it lingers because he wants it to, and he looks at his paint-wet fingers again with a slightly elevated brow. "Though, maybe. We might be able to .. if we get in some practice stripes first," he says just as he reaches for her, fingers stretched her way in attempt to swipe the tips of them across her cheek, donning her with war paint.

They painted! That makes them painters. Not… good painters. Possibly not even competent painters. Certainly not competent cleaning-up-after-apply-paint-ers. But they're definitely painters. Were painters. Soriana tilts her head, looking up at the ceiling-sky. That spot they half-missed might be a cloud? Maybe? Ish? "We could," she agrees. They could get actual competent painters in here! "Maybe we will." Eventually. When they have the time to find someone to do it, or they decide to do it when they don't actually have the time for it but pretend anyway. It'd make for an even more interesting ceiling for Skyler to stare at, by the time he's old enough to recognize clouds and avians out of paint-splotches. Stripes, or maybe a forest of brown trees in the blue… if they got that actual painter in. Maybe they do need to hire someone? Soriana frowns slightly, considering on that. Stripes would look nice. Zig-zags? She half-smiles. "…those might look nice too." In theory. If someone who isn't them does the painting. If they do it? Probably they'd end up painting circles instead. Or something else entirely. Soriana's distracted staring at the wall, so she doesn't notice Ka'el until… "Ahh!" Paint. She's been painted! Daubed with blue like a dragon flying thread and… for a moment, she stares. Ka'el the painter so incompetent he can't even keep the paint on the walls! Stare and… then… she laughs. Because it's… because sometimes she needs to laugh. Because sometimes everyone needs to laugh, especially when the alternative is to cry.

Zig-zags would look nice. So would circles, if the correct color scheme was chosen and someone who actually could paint perfect-looking circles was hired. Theme: Polka-dot! But stripes it shall be instead, as the idea has been planted as an actual thought … even if that thought is only half-formed. They'll hire someone. Ka'el will hire someone to fix up his boy's room. It has to look nice. Skyler is their first and only. A little bit of spoiling is only natural, hence that coat from the Senior …. former Senior. He looks at her face, a slow smirk beginning to curve his mouth at the three finger smears that run across her cheek. His expression is triumphant, smug even. But the expression falters a bit at her incredulous stare. Uh oh. Maybe he's gone too far? Maybe .. this isn't one of those moments in which play is appropriate. Skyler may soon bear witness to his father's demise! Well .. if he were awake he'd bear witness. As it is, someone has hit the snooze button on the alarm that is Skyler, leaving Ka'el to fend for himself. Uhhh… Give him a second. He'll come up with an excuse! That, or a very, very sweet and sincere apology. But, after a few ticks have gone by, her laughter begins. Phew! Isn't that a load off of one's back? His shoulders slightly slump in relief as the tenseness slips away from them, and now a grin spreads his lips. It is funny. Probably not as funny as their laughter is making it seem, but laughing helps relieve the stress. Releases endorphins. And for a few precious moments, things feel as they have always been. Light-hearted and happy. Ordinary. Still chuckling, he approaches her and wraps his arm around her, the bit of blue that's left on his hands not making much of an impact on the canvas that is her clothing. He holds her as they laugh, and as they do, his hold around her gradually grows more firm. More protective. His grin gradually begins to slip from his face and eyes, and the chuckles die down to nothing while eyes stare at an opposite bank wall. Words break the silence that's fallen. "I wouldn't know what to do if it was Luraoth the dragons cried for."

There's a running theme here: someone who knows what they're doing. A skilled painter! …okay, how about a competent painter? A… half decent painter? Half decent, to go with that half-formed thought of hiring one. Even half-decent is bound to be better than Ka'el, who can't tell the difference between walls and faces, and Soriana who's… apparently a wall. Some parents, huh? Some painters. Some…times it doesn't matter if things are awful, because even if they're really bad they're laughably bad. Laughter doesn't fix everything, but it does make a lot of things seem better. It makes a bright point a release of stress that helps with moving forward. It doesn't paint over the pain and sorrow, but that's because life isn't a wall. It does add a splash of brightness, one that matches with other splashes, other bright dots of color stretching back through time to happy moments, laughter to carry them through the tears. Soriana slips her arms around Ka'el, not much caring that she's going to get blue on her clothing. It can be washed. If it can't be washed, blue paint is far from the worst thing that's been staining her clothes lately. Skyler doesn't tend to be neat and clean. Skyler doesn't even know those concepts, let alone the words for them. Soriana laughs, but the laughter doesn't laugh. Neither do tears, neither does anything including life, but… this laughter falls to silence, and her arms tighten their grip around Ka'el. Soriana swallows, lowering her gaze. She looks at buckets of paint, brushes and rollers and… "Shards." If Luraoth … if it were Luraoth who made a final journey to between. Soriana on her back, or left behind. Or… "Kale…" Would he go back to having that as his name, if Kanekith were the one? If he survived that moment, is that how… "I don't know." How could she? It's not something she wants to imagine. It's not even really something she can imagine. Her mind goes blank, tells her there's nothing there. Tells her it's impossible, like it tried to when Seryth died. It tried, even in the face of Luraoth's certainty, even in the face of dragon-bonded knowledge. It could happen. It did happen. It could happen again, to one of them. Soriana half-closes her eyes, pressing herself to Ka'el.

There's nothing like death to get you thinking about that very thing. Death. Something that they'll all face someday, in due time. Tomorrow? Ten turns from now? Forty? The former Senior probably knew that some day she'd be gone. Maybe she had plans for that, when it came. Where things would go. Which child would get what. Maybe it was imagined to be a gradual process. A middle-aged woman turned elderly, giving those around her to slowly come to realize that she's slipping away. Not this … abrupt thing that's happened instead. And who is to say that tomorrow, his life will not end as abruptly? Or Soriana's? What if it had been her? … Where would he be now? Not in the middle of a sky-blue room, likely. Not thinking about tomorrows, for tomorrow would be an insane concept to him if she were not a part of it. But … what of Skyler? Can he afford to shut himself out of the world while Skyler still needs his parent? These thoughts….he doesn't like them. They make a sour feeling churn in his stomach, and his heart tightens in an uncomfortable way. He can feel Soriana against him. Her inhales and exhales, the motions of her body, and if he's still enough, even the thumping of her heart. "You're everything to me. You, Kanekith, and Skyler…You're my everything, all of you." One of his arms move, lifting a hand higher, high enough that fingers thread through her hair, resting against her head as his presses gently against the side of hers. "Don't look for me," he murmurs. "If Kanekith … He wouldn't go anywhere without me. If he..leaves, then I'm gone too. I don't want you to hope for something that's not there." He shakes his head, just a slight movement against hers. "Don't look for me."

After time spent in an infirmary bed. In a chair out in the sunshine. A warm spot by the fire, given right of precedence by the aunties and uncles… assuming they remembered her former rank. That's how people are supposed to go, right? After turns of that, once they've retired and left their duties behind. Once they've got grandchildren - actual grandchildren, who're old enough to finger-paint them pictures to be hung proudly on the wall, having met and spent time with far more than just one baby who's not even technically related. All these are things that Thea should have done, or if she didn't, she at least should have had the chance. But… death doesn't keep to anyone's schedule. It ignores the times penciled in on calendars, and arranges meetings when it sees fit. Thea's calendar said rest day. The Weyr's schedule said a normal day. Seryth's message shattered that normalcy and brought death to the forefront of everyone's mind. Thea… oh, they denied it. Of course they did. Death isn't supposed to come; not like that. There's only so long it can be denied. If Thea was alive, sane… she'd have sent a message. Her firelizard come to drape over her desk and keen fragmentary images. She's dead, or crazed enough that she's not Thea anymore and all they can hope for is that she'll be happy in whatever beasthold or mining shack she's found to shelter her. But… even that seems unlikely. Thea's dead. She's gone… but they're still here. Soriana half-closes her eyes, presses close to Ka'el. The warmth of presence. Of bodies, near each other. A physicality that's… only temporary. It might last for decades yet. Should last for decades. But… it might not. She curls her arms around Ka'el's back, feeling his shoulders, the bones and the muscles over them. The physical body that's strong… but also fragile. Even Luraoth and Kanekith are fragile, powerful as they are. Soriana blinks a few times in rapid succession. Everything. Everything, and it could so easily become nothing. Nothing left but… "I will, though." Soriana's jaw sets in the stubborn mode, except… not quite. It's more the one where she figures if she puts it firmly enough she can keep the water out of her eyes. "Around every corner. In every empty room. I… I can't not look for you. Even if I don't search… I'll look."

Is this why some people choose to be alone? Desires of lust are left to flights or, perhaps, a stranger on a random night to never seek out again once the sun has risen? Friends are few, family is none. Is hardening or burying their heart a way of preserving it from heartache? Maybe. But then .. what kind of life is that to live? Ka’el tries to imagine it, as he holds Soriana to his chest. He attempts to imagine himself without the press of her body against his own. No Skyler. This weyr wouldn’t be his. Neither would his knot, perhaps, for if his heart were so cold, would Kanekith’s be as well? Would that effect his will in flights? Who knows? It’s all difficult to visualize, this life with solely himself in it. But would it be better? For if he died in that sort of life, who would mourn? No one. No one would grieve. No one would seek his presence in now empty rooms and hollow halls… But, these thoughts are not useful or helpful in the slightest. That imagined life is not his. If he were to die tomorrow, she would mourn. Skyler would probably not, but he may note a change in his environment. A face that was usually there no longer one that he sees. The Weyr would mourn. His friends would mourn. His firelizards and dragon would mourn and die with him .. But that’s life. Relationships are meant to the built. Bonds are supposed to be had between people, like his with Soriana which…even the thought of sadness in death can’t make him regret. He kisses her now, lips to her temple, then shifts his head and uses the hand previously in her hair to gently guide hers so that lips can meet in a tender touch. “I’d look for you too,” said after his mouth parts from hers. “And I’d see you everywhere. Every place I’ve been with you. Every moment we’ve had..” His thumb grazes across her cheek in a fond, reassuring caress. “Kanekith and I aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. We’ll fight death off for as long we’re able to so we can be here for you, Luraoth, and Skyler. I can promise you that.” He can promise those battles, though he can’t promise eternal success. So he doesn’t, knowing they’d be empty words. Skyler, at some point, has awakened, but fussiness has been kept at bay due to the sounds of his parents voices. But now, noises are starting to be made. Small ones. Preludes to the cry of hunger. Or perhaps the cry of wanting to be held. In any case, he’s making his presence known, which momentarily turns Ka’el’s eyes.

Easier? Maybe. It'd certainly be simpler. Nobody to worry about but oneself. Nobody waiting at home or in an office, nobody to have dinner with… a dragon, perhaps, unless that solitude extended so far as to not allow for impression, too lonely to permit a lifemate to join minds - oh, because it would be lonely. Maybe there's some people who wouldn't be lonely, or at least, who'd be okay with that sort of loneliness. But… if they were… why should they care? To think about other people - to consider how they will feel after one is gone - requires rather more care for others than anyone who'd manage to live a life so free of entanglements. Soriana couldn't do it. She's heard the stories of a quarter of the Weyr at least, and that's just the ones she remembers. She cares about all of them. Not all the same. She cares about all of them a little, and some of them… a lot. More than a lot. Numbers she can't even count to, but she doesn't have to. She just… knows them, feels them… feels Ka'el's hand on her cheek and his lips pressed to hers. Hers press back to his, a warm kiss. One that lingers for a moment, then draws away. There's a glisten to her eyes. It's… "Yeah." They'd look. Even without finding. "…everything we've done." She swallows. "And… I'd want to." That's the thing of it. She'd still want to look for him, to see the ghost of him lingering everywhere… because if she didn't, she'd have to forget him, and that's worse. Soriana nods to Ka'el's reassurance. They're not going anywhere. (Neither was Thea, until she did.) "We'll… be here too. Me, and Luraoth… and Skyler." He's definitely here now, and making noises to remind them of that fact. Soriana glances that way as well, then darts her attention back to Ka'el to kiss him again, quicker this time. Because. Because she needs to kiss him. Because he's here, and so's she. Because they're going to do this thing, for just as long as they possibly can. Because… life is short.

Too short, in some cases. In Thea’s case. In the case of those who have fallen before their time for whatever the reason. Accidents. Sickness. Things far worse than either of those. And when life proves to be so unpredictable, and in this case so unfair, people are reminded to appreciate the little things. Like kisses from a weyrmate. Smiles from a child. Small moments that get lost in the big ones, but it’s those small, seemingly unimportant ones that one clings to in the end. Those are the memories that help the survived get from one day to the next in face of tragedy. The kiss that he now gets from her is one of those little moments that he’d think of and miss if she were gone. Skyler’s voice too. Those little cries that they’re getting so good at deciphering. The sounds he’s making now? His hungry whines. And if they ignore him for longer than a minute, they’ll turn into hunger wails! “I can make us lunch,” he says, taking the cue from their son. “And we can sit and eat before deciding what to do next.” The thought of staying home now is a wonderful one. They could stay indoors or perhaps lounge on the porch swing and watch the day crawl by and be thankful that they have one another and their son. But their rank and present circumstances don’t allow for such simple luxuries. Not today. Today, there are riders who are sweeping cold and snowy mountains, looking for something, anything to tell them of a fate that most already know. Today, there are people who are still fearful and need the guidance of their Weyrwoman Juniors. So many people need them now, perhaps just as much as they need one another. “And maybe tomorrow, we can paint another wall. Stripes or zig-zags or polka-dots with dragon wings.” A mild smirk for that, and he gives her another prolonged squeeze against him before, with much reluctance, letting her go. Heading to lunch together, their little family of three. Leaving behind a first bitter-sweet memory in this sky blue room.

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