Unexpected Comfort

Xanadu Weyr - Main Clearing
A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places with upturned petals to wave to whoever may be looking.
The cliff looms imposingly on two sides. Toward the southwest, a spire stretches up to high above where the everpresent watchdragon sits on a lonely peak with Xanadu's Starstones. A massive rocky spur extends to the north, curved slightly to hold the clearing and pocked with doors and windows.
The hatching arena and Dragonhealers' Annex sit to the southeast, built together into a single complex that takes up a large portion of the perimeter beneath its domed roof. To the southwest, wide steps lead up to the caverns, and almost directly south is the entrance to the Infirmary. Nestled between the infirmary and the main caverns there's a human-sized archway with frequent traffic - it leads to the Wanderin' Wherry Tavern.
Tucked near the arch, just off to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Wildflower Boutique'. Windows have been cut along the cliff in various places along the cliff. Those of the administrative offices are placed to have the best view of Xanadu's airspace - to the southwest, over the entrance to the caverns and the infirmary. Others mark the dormitories and those of lucky residents, while toward the northern edge of that spur cluster the windows and entrances to the crafters' complex.
The rest of the Weyr lies to the north and east - a broad road that leads through the meadow and the trees of the forest beyond. At the far northern edge of the clearing, just inside the perimeter kept clear of trees, a clocktower sits and proudly displays the hour.

Deliveries, deliveries, deliveries. The work never ends and J'en does not get to pick his assignments. Hauling and carrying the largest of transport goods was only possible with dragons Leketh's size and so six very large and heavy baskets were strapped onto the pale colored bronze, having just landed here in Xanadu. Xanadu, the very place that his father P'rel Impressed to his lifemate Malphath and fell in love with his Uncle I'srie, before they all moved to Ista. Not far off was the home of his grandparents Lord and Lady Breakwater, and undoubtedly he would have to make an appearance least he encourage the wrath of them or his mother. J'en climbs down Leketh, hopping to the ground and removes his goggles and helmet, tucking the items beneath his arm, and stepping away so that some workers can lower the heavy baskets to the ground and begin to unload them slowly. The bronzerider pays no mind at all to them, coming around towards the head of his lifemate, and stroking a gloved hand over his massive snout.

And then there’s Risali, on her way from one chore or another with her candidate-depicting knot snugly in place at her shoulder. She isn’t looking for trouble, honest, trouble just seems to find her — and so it’s no surprise when J’en just… materializes out of the blue (he was totally already there) to spoil what was proving to be an already taxing day. She’s got the most awkward gait, her hair is a mess, and she smells of latrines — a vexing combination at best, magnified by Risali’s already less-than-stellar mood (don’t let her fool you, she was digging through muck blushing and giggling to herself all day). So when she sees J’en, her feet carry her towards him before she realizes that it’s even happened, her mouth already open with one surprisingly accusing finger wielded in the bronzer’s direction. “OI!” STOMP, STOMP, STOMP. Colossus steps from such a tiny woman are taken towards the man twice her size, not an iota of fear (come on: she beats up R’hyn in her free time) evident when she halts before him, practically toe-to-toe. Risali weaponizes that tiny, accusing finger by using it to JABJABSTICKPOKE J’en’s sternum (assuming he lets her, of course) — and she’s only all the more furious that she’s gotta TILT HER HEAD BACK TO DO IT. “What is with all you sharding bronzeriders and being impossibly tall?” she half-shrieks, stating her first grievance with his appearance before she shrieks her next one: “And KIELRIC, J’EN?” No Jae for him. He’s been a bad, bad bronzerider. “He’s a BABY.” He’s not.

This was starting to become a trend, this whole J'en showing up and someone gets pissed off before he's had a chance to really earn it. Though, admittedly, he might have this time. It's the very familiar 'OI' that calls his attention, glancing Risa's way and only shifting his weight from one foot to the other as she actively stomps her way towards him. Leketh also focuses in on the tiny female Ila-spawn, crooning sweetly at her, basically because everything aside he was actually quite fond of her. The tiny blunt harpoon that is candidate finger repeatedly jabbed into his sternum feels absolutely wonderful (no it does not), but all the young bronzerider does is look mildly down at his abuser, a single brow barely seeming to muster the energy to do more then vaguely twitch upwards. Hardly accountable for his growth, he ignores this accusation and instead moves on to the next. "I can assure ya, he ain't." Well, not anymore. Mwhahaha. But seriously, golden eyes narrow and he leans all the way down as far as he needs to give Risali a nice long hard scrutinizing look before he straightens back up and his chin suddenly lifts. "And apparently neither are ya anymore." He'd seen that awkward gait as she hobbled his way, but now that she was up-close, well he'd discerned exactly what was up. "Finally spread your legs for Th'ero's sprout, eh? Congrats." He gives her candidate knot a flick of one idle finger, expression and tone remaining ever neutral despite all the shrieking and 'playful banter' that had become the norm when it came to interacting with this particular young woman. Whether that congratulations was for her deflowering, or her candidate status was debatable. He might of been reminding her of her station, he might just have wanted to touch her. J'en was a mystery.

As soon as Leketh croons his sweet hello to Risali, the harper’s demeanor softens considerably. Fingers extend towards the bronze, rubbing along his head knobs and scratching at the ridges of his eyes should he allow her — she’ll even pull his face to her chest for a human-dragon hug, lavishing him in praises of, ‘You are just so handsome,’ and, ‘Look at all those baskets Leketh — you are so strong,’ only to have J’en countering her space invasion with his own, effectively placing all attention back on him. Risali takes a step back, hand already reaching out to push his face OUTTA HER BUSINESS with some verbal lashing incoming — and then he does it. He says those words (the ones that make whatever she was going to say die in her throat a mere sound of mental strangulation), and then he says those other words (the ones that have her drawing in an indignant half-shriek of breath while flushing brilliantly). As if that wasn’t bad enough, J’en's finishing his verbal smack down with the most humiliating knot-flick and ‘Congrats’ she has ever heard, sending her fingers scrambling to her knot as if she might protect it from his scrutiny. For a long moment, there’s nothing but the incoherency of partially formed words (I!;You!;It!;We!) cycling over and over again, until Risali’s giving up on words and punching J’en in his shoulder instead. “YOU!” she finally manages, and then she’s shoving at his shoulder to force him sideways (OBLIGE HER) and towards a more private area where they can ACTUALLY TALK without being overheard. Even if he doesn’t let her have that small victory, she’s hissing, “How do you even know?” Hands go up and out, as if warding him off before she returns them to her hips and closes her eyes in that long-suffering kind of way. "No, shut up. Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. Stop deflecting.” And then a pause, as grey eyes reopen and seem to really take the bronzerider in for the first time. Her brows pinch in sudden worry, and all of that fiery-gusto abandons Risali’s sails with dizzying quickness, leaving the tiny woman to go up on the tips of her toes and cup J’en’s face between her hands. She pulls him down to her level if he allows, grey eyes jumping between startling gold before she breathes a genuinely concerned, “Jae, are you okay?” See, J’en might be some kind of V-Card detector, but Risali is an unwilling empath through-and-through.

Leketh perks like an overly excited puppy under Risali's welcomed attention, causing J'en to slide his attention fleetingly his direction, but with no outward sign that he really cared. The bronze on he other hand simply melts under her light touch and affectionate words. His croons deepen, lightly touching her as gently as he possibly can with the very same snout his lifemate had been attending to right before she'd stomped her way over. Jae though, he merely observes, saying and doing nothing as his words sink in and do whatever it is they are going to do. There was no malice in them, in fact, there wasn't much of anything at all considering how neutral everything about the Half Moon Bay bronzerider was these days. All presented as fact, even if he could have chosen his words a hell of a lot better. Regardless, J'en was still J'en. The punch, oddly enough, is not dodged as it would have been in the past as it connects and Jae doesn't even flinch. He looks down then, between shoulder and irate candidate, before he rolls said shoulder and that seems to be the end of it. Till he's shoved at the same shoulder, managing indeed to turn him, as well as get another light attention seeking croon and touch from Leketh. He's still here too you know! J'en just looks at Risali though, quietly, for a long stretch of silence before sliding his eyes towards Leketh who maneuvers his body so that they can have some privacy and still not disturb the workers who were still unloading. As for her question, Jae's shoulders lift minutely, dropping back down in quite possibly the saddest excuse for a shrug in history. He'd opened his mouth to respond, but it closes again when she stops him and says she doesn't want to know. Her next approach though, considering the change in her expression, seems to get more of a reaction than coming at him guns blazing. Eyes widen just a touch, actually trying to avoid her face-grabbage by drawing back but not quick enough, for she's soon drawing him down to her level close enough so that she can make out the specks of sapphire amongst the gold. Her question, noticeably makes him stiffen, decidedly adverting his gaze as his dark lashes lower to half-stance. "No." Honesty, it came with the dragon unfortunately.

Half of what’s concerning is the fact that J’en is just letting Risali land her hits. She’s used to that kind of endurance when it comes to abusing both K’vir and R’hyn, but certainly not when it comes to Jae. One hand goes back to Leketh when the dragon croons, smoothing over his snout in a way that asserts physically she’s not forgotten about him, but again, her attention is swept away by and intently devoted to J’en. His brutal honesty has Risali searching his face for something, and while she doesn’t voice it, whatever she finds in his averted gaze and specks of sapphire in gold has the candidate pulling him even closer. Both of her arms go around his neck, straining on the very tips of her toes to accommodate his height as much as her body is willing, and for a very long moment, she simply… holds him. There’s no words of encouragement, no prying questions to try and understand, simply quiet, patient acceptance; it's an acknowledgement of his pain, given without expectation, exacting no emotional price. Fingers find their way into the hair at the back of his head where she holds him firm, and then finally, finally (assuming he hasn’t drawn away first, or that he even let her hug him), Risali is dropping back on the balls of her feet and relinquishing her hold on the bronzerider. Tiny hands reach out to straighten the lapels of his jacket, dusting imaginary dirt from his arms as grey eyes carefully avoid gold in an effort to give him (or perhaps herself) a moment to regain composure. “I’m here,” she tells him on a whisper, almost as if using her normal voice will destroy the oddly intimate (though not that kind of intimate) moment between them. “I’m right here.” What she doesn’t tell him is that it’s okay, what she doesn’t tell him that it will get better, and she certainly doesn’t venture into the realm of ‘I understand’. Two words, followed by three, convey exactly what she means to say: you’re not alone. I’m right here. And she always will be. “Do you want to get some Klah?” Because truth be told, the woman’s got dark circles under her eyes and the red-rimmed sort of irritation that she acquired from Daddy. It announces, 'I DIDN’T SLEEP LAST NIGHT!’ — and she didn’t. Too busy discovering K’vir and all that, you know. Priorities. (At least she wasn’t technically a candidate — yet.)

In the past, it was true, Jae was quite a bit more energetic when it came to deflecting or dodging Risali's blows. Now though? He doesn't seem to care at all. Leketh though, he appears to be used to the change in his lifemate, far more concerned with getting some lady-attention than the conversation unfolding before him. Or lack there of. That is, until the woman's attention difts entirely back to the bronzerider again, to which the dragon's long neck is suddenly coiling around them. The scene of a very small female figure up on her tip toes to wrap arms around a much larger male disappears from view just in time, because as her embrace completes and she begins to murmur those soft sweet words Jaelyn falls apart. Like a skittish runner, his entire frame stiffens into stone under her gentle touch as he physically rejects her invading presence, then it was him trying to pull away and dislodge her by applying his hand to her hips, but in the end the smallest of tremors begins and as her whispers continue worsens until shaking knees give way. Down he goes to them with a wince of pain, still resisting, still stiff, still trying to pull her off of him. "Shut. Up." he chokes, actual emotion quivering in his deep tenor as he loses the fight, his arms hanging loosely at his sides, head bowing until it rests on her shoulder. Her continues mantra of understanding milks a soft sob out of the reserved rider, quietly answering her inquiry involving klah with, "Fuck ya." That's right because all of the evils of the world are Risali's fault, well, knocking all of his carefully and meticulously constructed walls down with such relative ease certainly didn't help her position. There was blame to be placed, so it might as well fall on the tiny woman coddling him.

And despite the fact that Risali was far from expecting Jae to break, she never once shows her surprise, opting instead to go down with him when he falters to his knees; she never shushes him, she simply lets him cry. He tells her to shut up and she doesn’t even do that for him — much like how she doesn’t stay away. Fingers thread through his hair when he rests his head on her shoulder, and she rocks him until she’s drawing back to offer klah. She may compose herself under the guise of fixing his jacket, but his mild words of misdirected anger at her offer have Risali going silent for a long moment before reaching fingers brush lightly at the trails tears have left on his cheeks and she pulls him in for another embrace. Only this time, in lieu of words, she’s doing something that was always done to her as a child: she sings. “I remember tears streaming down your face when I said I’d never let you go…” And so it goes, each lyric near-whispered despite the fact that she is definitely putting those harper-trained skills to use.

J'en has been broken for quite sometime now, and there just might not be enough love on Pern to fix him. Not that he was expecting Risali to do anything of the sort, nor, did he expect what she was doing right now. He'd come to drop of some goods and then had plans to fly back to Half Moon Bay rather than between. That's gone out the proverbial window now. Risali, destroyer of plans. The more acceptance that he gets, the harder his shoulders shake, but he grits his teeth together hard in order to keep from making this into a big production. Cut backs, you see. When she draws back, his eyes are down and away from her face, as if he couldn't stand to see pity in hers but could very well be his own embarrassment with himself. One simply does not go to Xanadu and have a break down. Jae sags back against his own calves, feeling the heel of his boots digging into his backside, actually flinching when she reaches up to wipe away the moisture from his cheeks. Golden eyes then flicker to her grey, hard and accusatory as if somehow this all was her fault. Everything. From the dawn of time until this very moment. Jae was still in there, in that shell of a rider who stopped to drop off some stuff, that flash of anger was more the real him than anyone had seen in longer than he himself could remember. "Stop!" he hisses harshly, but it's too late, Risa is pulling him back into her arms and the moment her skin touches his…he's powerless again. It was torture, this was torture, she was torturing him. Ripping him open, inspecting the viscera and leaving him to bleed out on the bowl floor. "Risa…" Quieter now as she starts to sing, sending shockwaves of rejection throughout his very cellular structure violently outwards, and he moves. A hand sinks into her hair, fingers a gentle pressure at the back of her neck cradling the base of her skull and with the other he tilts her head up bringing his face in dangerously close to her sweetly tuned lips to the degree she can feel the heat coming off his skin. "Stop. Please." The first word soft but commanding, the second much more pleading, his entire physical body shaking against her.

Risali has more than enough love to give J’en beneath all of those porcupine hackles she keeps raised — in varying degrees, of course, like how she loves Calisi in a different shade of red than how she loves K’vir. Perhaps all of the shrew-like dissent is more to protect the very tenuous threads of her own alarmingly fragile heart from those who might shatter it; it’s a defense mechanism, meant to scare away those who would desert Risali at her worst instead of leading them on with the very best parts of herself first. The few that stay are worthy, the many that go are not. And while the people of Pern as a whole may not contain the capacity to love J’en in the way he needs, Risali certainly loves the broken, pleading bronzerider in the best way she can: without expectation. There’s no pity in her, just a quiet kind of acceptance without limits, the kind that says, ‘You might be broken, but you’re not alone,’; the kind that says, ‘I’m strong enough to shoulder this burden with you — let me.’ Risali takes the brunt of his anger with a soft smile that says it’s okay if he wants to redirect all of his anger onto her, it’s okay if he needs to place the blame and she’s his outlet — it’s okay because she’s willing to be his metaphorical punching bag if it diminishes even just a sliver of that anger, dams even a fraction of that self-loathing. But Risali does stop when stronger fingers than her own find their way into her hair and cradle the base of her skull, tilting her head up until she’s close enough to feel the words he speaks breathed against her own kiss-bruised lips. Grey eyes jump between gold, her brow furrows, but instead of pulling away, Risali places her hands on either side of Jae’s face, rubbing the pads of her thumbs over his cheekbones as she searches. And then Risa’s closing her eyes, tilting his head down so that she can kiss his brow and then press her forehead against his. “I’m right here,” she breathes again, because she isn’t getting up until she’s sure that the bronzerider can stand on his own, but at least she’s stopped singing.

When the singing stops, it's the breif repreve that Jae needs in order to breathe again, drawing in a lungful of air sharply and exhaling it as he drops his eyes away from the softness of her gaze, easing the transition as he lowers his head of his own accord and effectively puts an end to a very dangerous situation. His shoulders were still tight when she places a kiss on his forehead, unable to let her look too deeply into the abyss and so avoids meeting her eyes again for now if he can help it. The gentle brush of her thumbs over his cheekbones, sends his trembling hands sliding up the delicacy of her wrists, pressing his face into the palm of one. "I know." J'en murmurs when she once more reiterates that she is there, her continued kindness doing very little to encourage him to find the strength to stand. If it wasn't for Leketh, he would never be able live this down. By Pernese and biological standards he was a full grown adult man, free to make the choices any other might, but right now he was very young and very lost. He remains close to her like this, still lightly holding her hands close to his face, idly brushing he back of the one not pressed against his lips with the pad of his thumb. Something is forged in this moment, a bond perhaps of sorts, one that slowly but surely quells the tears and calms the shaking. Without daring another look into those grey eyes just yet, J'en breaks the quiet in that gruff and rumbling way of his, "Tell K'vir…if 'e hurts ya…" Now golden hued eyes lift to meet her searching gaze, "I'll find him, no matter where 'e 'ides."

And Risali waits out the storm, until J’en is reacting less with anger and more with less furious emotion; until the bronzerider finds it in himself to start piecing enough of himself back together to dam those tears and issue threats that, while Risali takes seriously, earn him a hiccup of bubbly laughter from the otherwise hellcat of a woman. And maybe a blush. “Jae, I know you don’t know K’vir very well, but I do.” An acknowledgment that deepens the flush on her cheeks and, predictably, sends her mentally scrambling towards indignation instead of elaboration. "Anyway, I’d kick his bronzeriding ass so far between, no one would ever find him again.” Even when their relationship was at its very worst, K’vir never laid a hand on her — his lips, yes, but his hands, no. Faranth help him if that ever changes, because J’en, R’hyn, Ila’den, and probably L’or and Calisi would be out for blood. Emotionally? The guy could totally wreck her. But this moment isn’t at all about Risali, it’s about J’en, and so she whispers, “But thank you,” for the selflessness of protection offered when it’s clear to Risali that the one who needs a shelter is J’en. “Now, likewise: you tell Taeski that killing-machine renegade or no, I’ll rip his throat out and feed it to Zekath.” But she doesn’t rise, she stays on the floor with him, because maybe being on the floor is exactly what he needs right now. “What do you think, you think I could take ‘em?” At least she’s aiming for humor now, now that J’en seems to be semi willing to speak.

Having the conversation shift off onto Risali goes far in aiding J'en to begin assembling his walls again, but perhaps this time he'll construct a door and give her a key in case of emergency. He notes the blush, releasing her hands now and shifting his position in order to draw his legs up to his chest, folding his arms over his knees and resting his chin atop. He keeps any comments to himself, certainly in no mood now to continue their usual banter of well aimed hits, giving her a pass. He nods wordlessly, running a hand through his own short crop of black hair with attention wandering before sliding eyes back her way at mention of Taeski. "I dun think that's gunna be a problem, 'less 'e gets bored of meh." He rubs the back of his own neck now, expression back to neutrality as his gaze once more wanders off as he loses himself in his own thoughts. A blink though when she asks if she could take out Taeski, glancing back, his mouth opening but then closing. "I still gutta tell 'im Vauril's alive."

And when J’en shifts to sit, knees to his chest, chin on his knees, Risali scoots until she’s sitting beside him and leaning her inconsequential weight against him. She draws her own legs up, fingers holding at the toes of her boots as she turns her head to take the bronzerider in and exhales. “Dad told you,” she says softly, without ire or contempt — it’s just fact; nobody else would have known. “Don’t. Tell him, I mean. Vauril specifically asked me not to tell Taeski.” A pause, as she turns grey eyes down and plucks delicately at her boot laces. “I don’t know why. I didn’t ask, but I think he’s… I think he wants to tell him in his own time.” Regardless of the conflicting information that Ila’den may have given — the result of Risali neglecting to inform him of Vauril’s wishes. Or maybe Ila’den just doesn’t care (unlikely; the man is pretty good at secrets). “Let me know when you want to get klah,” Risa murmurs. And then she does it again: she starts singing that song into whatever companionable silence might make its way between them.

J'en simply watches as Risali changes her own seating arrangement, still stroking the back of his own neck where the hair is shortest at the nape. For her question, of Ila'den telling him about Vauril, the bronzerider nods once. However, brows lift some when she tells him not to tell his weyrmate about his brother's survival. "But…" he starts, but she continues on to explain, and the further she gets the darker his expression gets. "Yer father sure does like to back meh in a fuckin' corner, Risa." he growls, head now hung as he scratches where his fingers dwell irritably. "Ila'den shouldn't have told meh. Now whenever Vauril does decide he wants to let 'is brother know, I'm gunna either haveta play dumb, or face 'is wrath that I knew the whole time and dun't tell 'im." Not that he was at all afraid of Taeski, but he did love him, and hurting him was definitely not high on his list of favorite activities. A long sigh follows, "I dun drink the stuff, just water." But she was singing again, his hand stilling and he tilts his head, not seeming to mind at all this time as she remains leaned up against his side. Instead, he folds his arms again and rests his forehead down upon the topmost forearm, in silence.

Risali winces at J’en’s admonishment of her father, placing a hand on the bronzerider’s back between his shoulder blades so that she can rub in a manner meant to soothe. “It’s not his fault, Jae. It’s mine.” WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT? Risali — RISALI — the most prideful creature in likely ALL OF PERN, admitting fault. Faranth, but if that isn’t proof that K’vir is probably the best damn thing to happen to the feisty harper woman, who knows what is? “I didn’t tell him not to say anything. I think maybe, after my Aunt left home and they couldn’t find her, he understood how much it hurts to think the worst. In his own way, he was probably trying to do what was best, so if you’re upset, be upset with me.” And Risali certainly can’t stop Jae from telling Taeski; she certainly wouldn’t hold it against him if he did — she would want to know, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need to express Vauril’s direct request despite the rift it may cause. So Risali shifts again, mild surprise momentarily raising her brows at the fact that the bronzer doesn’t drink klah, and then she nods her head. “I didn’t really sleep last night, so klah sounds good.” But silence, and the hushed singing continues, Risali still picking at her laces as she waits. Because she understands that sometimes people just need somebody there, even if they aren’t paying them any mind.

Of all the things that J'en felt for and thought about Risali's father, for her sake, the bronzerider keeps all but what he just said to himself. It is bland in comparison. He lifts his head and looks to her as she rubs his back, allowing the comfort as the tension now begins to seep out of him. "I'm not…" he starts and then sighs, covering his face with hand and lets the rest of what he was about to say fall away for a time. Only after he's taken a few breaths do those long digits slip away so that he can see her once more. "…pissed at ya. I dun think I need to explain mah issues with yer father, ya know 'em. I ain't ready to forgive either of 'em, might not ever be." There is a groan and J'en casts his eyes upward towards the sky, letting dark lashes fall and his lids cover their golden hue. "Taeski though, 'e ain't been the same since 'e starting believin' Vauril was dead, and I ain't really been around. I dun't know what to say to 'im, now…" Now, he really didn't know what to say. Though, Risali gives him a nice change of topic there when she mentions not sleeping, and suddenly he's staring at her evenly with those eyes of his, "I bet." There is only the vaguest indication of amusement in his otherwise even tone, although it doesn't translate to his expression. Chin in placed against the heel of left palm, and he observes her silently as if he was waiting for her reaction or merely wanted to watch her sing. Either way, it doesn't stop his next question from falling free of his lips, "What did Kielric tell ya, anyway?"

And know she does; Risali won’t pretend that she’s pleased about the arrangement herself, but she would also be a particularly cruel kind of selfish to deny her father's happiness over an inability to accept that Iris and Ila’den would never be Iris and Ila’den again. It doesn’t help that, while her and R’hyn may never see eye-to-eye, there’s something about the man that makes it entirely too hard to really hate him — and so she doesn’t. “Not forgiving people… I think it makes it harder for the person holding onto their anger for being hurt. I’m not saying that you’re wrong for feeling how you feel, but I think you should try to let go.” And then, deadpan. “And if you figure out how, tell me.” Risali is silent while J’en speaks to Taeski and his state of mind — and then J’en does the thing. Risali turns a brilliant shade of red, turns narrowed grey eyes onto the bronzerider’s face, and then shoves at it with a hissed, “Shut up, Jae.” But her usual ire is curbed, laced with a muted kind of giddiness that confirms just how very right the bronzer is. And then RIGHT ON TO QUESTION NUMBER TWO. Risali winces, curling in on herself as she rocks once, twice, and then manages a choked, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Faranth, Jae, look at that uh… that sun.” The harper makes a sinking motion with her hands, mimics an explosion, and then turns fauxly innocent eyes back onto Jae. “What a distraction. Did I — “ CLICK. “Wait. Th-… TH’ERO? His father is TH’ERO? That idiotic shit of a bronzerider.” Ohp. SHE’S GONNA BLOW.

Hate was a very strong word and even J'en didn't really necessarily know if what he felt for R'hyn and Ila'den was hate anymore. At first, absolutely. Now? Anger was never something that the Istan bred bronzerider had ever had much luck in completely letting go. Extreme dislike and begrudging professional courtesy might be all he will ever be able to extend to either of them, but he was young yet and without thread dragonriders could live a very long life indeed. Only time would tell if forgiveness was in the stars. He doesn't really know what to say, not really capable of expressing exactly what it is that he is feeling in regards to the bronzerider pairing, without it coming across as a heartbroken kid merely holding a grudge and unable to truly move on. Which, may very well be the case. "Ain't sayin' I dun wanna, ain't fair to Taeski, but…" He just couldn't help it and for all of it his weyrmate understood better than most when it came to not being able to have what you want, and Jae wasn't going to hold it against him anymore than he was holding it against him. Now he snorts when Risali tells him to shut up, though a very brief smirk appearing on his face when she tries to change the subject to the sun. "Gave ya all the details then, that musta made yer day." The longer he remains in Risa's presence, the more at ease he becomes, slowly but surely creeping out from under his shell to test the waters. As for the revelation that he'd helped her discover, Jae's brows shoot upwards. "Ya, he is. Only reason I know is 'cause mah dad's Weyrleader of Ista…and I guess 'im and Th'ero are sorta kinda friends or whatever." Blinking a few times, "Ya dun't know?"

“You can’t help what you’re feeling,” Risali says softly, an agreement to the unspoken words that come after his trailing ‘but', “but you can definitely decide how you react to them.” Take Risali: she could just let people get away with looking at her funny and making her best friend cry, but she chooses to be her own hero, and make a scene because LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO BE PATIENT AND CALM. When J’en smirks, Risali’s brows rise, her lips part in a soft ‘o’, and one finger comes up with startled punctuation to point at his face. SURPRISE! And then she’s leaning closer to the bronzerider as if she isn’t quite sure what she’s just seen, leaning more of her weight into him as she twists herself just so and grabs his face between her hands again to study his lips. “What was that?” she whispers conspiratorially, feigning her shock so well it’s almost like she doesn't believe it. “Did you just smile?” And then she’s turning away from him, cupping her hands around her mouth, and leaning into his shoulder, head back so she can shout, “JAE KNOWS HOW TO SMILE, EVERYBODY!” for the entire clearing to hear. And then she’s laughing. She’s is a ridiculous human being sometimes, proving there’s a lot more to her than bubbly-box missiles and banshee-quality shrieks, but she sobers up quickly when the topic is back on Kielric and Jae and details she may or may not possess. One hand slaps over his mouth and she makes a disgusted noise in her throat. “Every single one of you sharding bronzeriders — SHUT UP! That is my baby brother, J’en, and I will murder you.” But there’s something playful in her tone, despite it being a very Risali reaction, punctuated by an elbow (playfully) to his side. “Shut up,” she warns again, pulling her hand away from his mouth with a look, and then she sighs. “Of course I didn’t, know. My Dad and Th’ero impressed together, so they’ve been friends for a long time and that little shit never told me. I am going to murder him, J’en. Dead.” Which is probably why she is shrieking out, “KYZENVIRO, YOU ARE DEAD!” Because if he’s around, well. He can hear it.

J'en nods, "Ain't seen R'hyn since…" Since they rescued Ila'den from the renegades? Well, he'll just not continue on that line of thought since Risa saw first hand what came of him as a result of that mess, and they really didn't need to rehash it. "Anyway, for the best," he says, lashes lowering and casting his gaze over to the motion out of the corner of his eyes, one of the now empty baskets being hoisted back up. "Dun wanna see 'is stupid face." Oh, yes he did, it was written all over his face. Love was a funny thing, espeically first love, and try as he might to deny it…those sorts of feeling were still there. Jae had made his choice though, and now he had to live with it. He's brought back out of his head when suddenly his face is grabbed and Risa is staring at his mouth, automatically blinking and placing his hands over hers so that he can pull away, eyeballing her. "When I feel like it, ya." He startles though when she cries to the heavens, letting her go all at once and now openly staring at her wide eyed. Risali was a just as much a mystery as he was, and despite himself a soft genuine smile pulls up the corners of his mouth as she begins to laugh, a thing that transforms him to something beyond handsome, giving ignition for the shift towards a slyness of features soon there after, as she once again tells him to shut up about Kielric. "Oh?" he asks, dropping his chin into his hands as his eyes half-lid. "Ya dun wanna hear about it from mah perspective? Y'know 'e did this one thin'…" Then comes the elbow to his side and he just ends up chuckling instead quietly, which tapers off into seriousness once they were back on the subject of K'vir and parentage. "I dun think ya should hold it against 'im too much, ain't like he can 'elp who sired 'im. Know that truth mahself, very well. 'sides, 'e know that's the kinda shit that matters to ya?"

“You aren’t missing much,” Risali offers in dry tones when it comes to the topic of R’hyn. “He’s uglier than a wherry and twice as stupid.” But if J’en bothers to read between the lines of Risali’s unflattering sentiments, it will be clear that she has begrudging respect and admiration for the Half Moonian bronzerider. Who is her STEP-DAD-THING — SHE DOESN’T WANNA TALK ABOUT IT. She doesn’t even want to think about it, so she sets her mind elsewhere, like J’en’s grin and his infuriating persistence with details about RUINING. HER. BROTHER. “Shut up,” she inputs with the elbow applied — and then freezes, staring for a long moment at Jaelyn’s face before breathing out, “Oh wow. You’re not handsome, you’re gorgeous.” But Risali seems to catch herself at the tail end of that compliment, recovering with furrowed brows and a clearing of her throat. “For a really ugly thing, I mean. Don’t let it go to your head.” And back to K’vir they go, a topic that has the harper ducking behind her knees to smile even as she throws an accusatory look in Jae’s direction. “I’m not holding it against him — it’s not like I think Th’ero is a terrible father to have — but he didn’t tell me. Spoiled little purebred brat with a pedigree.” SNIFF. Like she’s one to talk, being the child of a GOLDRIDER and a BRONZERIDER — one of which was actually a Weyrleader. Nobody ever said she had to be rational in her love for K’vir. “Faranth, and now I can see it. It’s so obvious now that I know.” A pause, and then suddenly she’s sober, straightening her spine despite the fact that she remains seated. “Jae, about Kielric — don’t hurt him. I mean it. He’s always been the sweet one, he’s always been the kind one, and if you ruin him, I will ruin you.” Abrupt, but that’s Risa for you.

The bronzerider says nothing, probably because he could tell that Risali's opinion of R'hyn was shifting and changing already and given time might very well find himself getting a smack down because he said something against his former lover. As if suspecting this might already be the case, J'en leaves the topic alone now and is given the opportunity to do so because of that breathed comment. His brows slide upwards slightly, "I'm aware." Regardless of how the statement might sound at first, it doesn't appear as if Jae was nearly as full of himself as the words he's chosen suggest. While not, uncomfortable, with Risa's comment…he doesn't linger on it, choosing instead to nod simply as she sputters and attempts to smooth the slip over much the same way she does when 'insulting' R'hyn. "I won't." Quieter said, before he offers her a very weak version of the original smile, perhaps because his heart just wasn't in it. "I'm the son of a Weyrleader and goldrider and so are ya, so…unless ya asked 'im about his family, might be best just to let it go." As she goes on, he lets her, after all who was he to tell her what to do? He'd given her his advice, much as she had with him, and what she did with it was up to her. His expression smooths back out to neutral though when she warns him about Kielric, that barely there smile lingering but even more faded than before. "Dun think he's the one that's gunna end up hurt."

Is her opinion of the man changing, though? Well, yes. Yes it is. It was R’hyn who goaded her into hitting him upon finding out her father was alive and refusing to see her in the infirmary — just to make her feel better. It was R’hyn who showed up at Xanadu, and asked her to dance, all while offering her advice and ignoring the tears she cried because of a snag in her relationship with K’vir. She will never fault J’en for his heartache, nor his reaction to it, but harboring ill-will towards R’hyn is not something she can offer him camaraderie in — even if she does understand. So she doesn’t pursue the topic either, just as aware that he will probably ache in a way she cannot fully comprehend, because she still sees it in her father when anybody brings up Iris. His lack of objection to compliments? Earns him a sassy-little roll of the eyes and a shoulder bump. “And you’re modest,” she teases, sobering up once more when they’re back to lineage and she makes a soft noise in her throat that’s somehow strangled-rage. “Yeah, no. You’re right. Still going to kill him.” And then Kielric. Silence that threatens to stretch somewhere between awkward and ‘Is this really happening?’ before Risali breaks it. “Does he make you happy?"

With the topic of discontent in concerns of past relationships falling to the wayside, J'en instead focuses on that shoulder bump and everything else that went with it. "Just honest," he says softly, lifting his shoulders upwards and dropping them again gently. The bronzerider was, to a fault, honest when asked something directly. He knew when to keep quiet, not spilling the truth out everywhere he went, but when questioned someone could take him at his word. "I could deny it, which makes meh look like I'm fishin' for a compliment, or I could agree. Either way, someone's gunna be formin' some sort of opinion." A pause, "I guess I could say nothin' or thank ya. So, thank ya." He opens his mouth as she says she's going to kill K'vir, but can not find much to say other than to sigh softly, and wish the poor absent bronzerider the best of luck the next time he ran into his mate. As for Kielric? J'en quickly drops his gaze, now shifting almost uncomfortably at her completely innocuous question. He starts to say, something, a few times but the exact words appear to fail him. It takes a bit longer than her own awkwardness stretched out before his settles in beside it, "Yes." Great Faranth's painted toenail, was that so hard? Considering Jae's struggle to come to this conclusion? Yes, in fact it was. He had quite the reputation for sleeping around, of this he was well aware, but J'en covers his face with his hand and goes quiet again, finally dropping both but unable to do more than stare off over the top of Leketh's neck where he could still see sky. "Ain't sayin' I'm in love with 'im or nothin', but I also ain't sayin' it won't ever happen either. Dunno what it is about 'im, but…'e's like an oasis and I ain't felt that like….for a long time." This was Risali's little brother, and so he sighs, his eyes closing, "If ya tell meh to stay away, Risa….I will."

Risali has nothing to say about opinions, and compliments, and having enough confidence in your looks to acknowledge that you are attractive; Risali is more the type who believes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that what might be aesthetically pleasing to some could well be a pile of dirt to others — so she remains vigilant to the conversation, albeit silently, adding nothing. “You’re welcome,” she breathes. Risali’s eyes drop away from J’en’s face when he speaks of Kielric, her chin finding the tops of her knees as fingers once again pluck delicately at the laces of her boots — never quite undoing them, but tugging at them as if she just might. One, two, three, and Risali exhales a sigh. “I’m not my father, Jae. I’m not going to corner you in a lounge and choke slam you against the bar so that I can threaten you.” True story. Ila’den did it to K’vir. Poor guy. "What and — ugh, I cannot believe I am saying this — who Kielric chooses to do is very much his business. I wouldn’t dream of trying to control his life, or yours. Especially when I’m so very far away from home and in a relationship that most people would probably warn K’vir away from.” A long pause, her silence stretching as if she’s somewhere else, and then Risali’s turning suspiciously bright eyes onto Jae, ignoring her tears with practiced disregard, as though the wetness is more an annoyance than a physical manifestation of overwhelming emotion. “And you might not love him — yet. But I do. Kielric is the glue, Jae; he’s the one that keeps everybody together. Whenever I was screaming, Veliren was brooding, and Kielric was smiling. So I get it. I know.” And then, almost a whisper. “So be careful with him, and don’t be unfair to him. He deserves better than somebody taking advantage of his kindness. And if he ever hurts you, you tell me. I will kill him.” And then silence, Risali taking a moment to wipe her eyes — though if she’s crying for Jae, Kiel, K’vir, or something else entirely goes unspoken.

It was all opinion really, his perspective, the things that he says which can be taken with a grain of salt if that's what one chooses to do. J'en stops trying to explain himself though, when it comes to how he handles how other people regard his appearance, not professing to be anything more than as he is, and certainly not expecting the world to fall in worship at his feet. Ugh. As this too falls away from the conversation, golden eyes return to Risali, or rather to the fidgeting with her boots. It wasn't that it was particularly fascinating, but the bronzerider could only look at the sky and inside of his own eyelids for so long. "That'd be impressive." This might be meant as a joke, considering he was so much larger than her, but it might fall a little flat considering the mood that had settled in around them. J'en sighs though, having spared the poor woman the details, but still apparently having managed to give her too much information. He digresses though, when K'vir is brought up again, "Fuck 'em. Uh, I mean, everyone else. Clearly, already did the former." Damn v-card sniffing son of a female canine, how does he do that? "If everyone minded their own fuckin' business, the world would be a better place." A headshake for this, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her closer for a very stiff and awkward sort of side hug, suddenly finding the side of Leketh's neck intriguing. "Who ya choose to be with ain't no one's business, not even yer father's. The only opinion that matters, should be the people ya care to hear opinions from." Yes, that extended to him as well. He valued Risa's opinion, and if she wanted him to lay off her brother, he would absolutely do his best to lay off. Because, he actually cared what she thought. "If yer father were tell meh to lay off, I'd probably do the opposite. Just, sayin'…" Giving her a light squeeze, he leaves his arm lightly around her, a touch barely there or felt. "I ain't askin' anythin' of Kielric that 'e dun want to give, or I guess…went after 'imself." He's really trying to be vague here, eyes rolled upwards, and a very notable flush working its way into his lightly tanned cheeks. "Naw, dun do that. 'e's the glue right? Jus', might swin' by when…" When Kielric moves on without him? Yep, pretty much. "…but like I said, ain't 'im that's gunna end up hurt."

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