Big Walk, Big Talk

Disclaimer: Adult language.


Xanadu Weyr - Deep Forest Waterfall
"How could I have possibly missed this?" Anyone who frequently travels the deep woods between Xanadu Weyr and the mountains to the west might ask themselves that question upon stumbling onto this place for the first time. A waterfall, easily a hundred feet tall, dominates the immediate area, commanding attention. Like something from a storybook, it is flanked on either side by sentinel trees and mountain brush mired in stone-spotted soil. Water cascades over a beaten rock face at its peak, flowing down in a curtain to ripple the surface of a generous-sized, crystal clear pond below.

Not content to remain where it is, the flow has carved a creek bed through which a stream now flows, traveling further west towards a massive rocky ravine. This area is dappled by shade from the over-arching trees, bisected by the stream whose banks are of large slab rock. This gives way to a small clearing, the lush emerald green providing a touch that gives the entire area an idyllic feel. The air is fresh and clean with the bite of cool mountain water and the tang of forest life. It is alive, this place.

This waterfall outside of the Weyr proper - almost a day's hike via a very rough trail that is challenging in good weather and dangerous to attempt in rain or icy conditions. It is impossible to spot from the air adragonback and landing a dragon here is not possible.

So, listen. They cheated. F'yr has been dying to do more with Ru'ien than steal a few moments here or there. Sitting and talking in the observation level seating is all well and good, and there's been some of that, or a quick moment snagged while Glorioth has been asleep but even when the bronze started to view the candidates less like the enemy and more like worthy challengers, F'yr still needed to be in attendance just in case. It's been hard to get time for even the routine everyday things, let alone to coordinate those with someone else. But there has been the occasional moment borrowed, begged or stolen to let them check in. But the hatching of the clutch of three marks the return to freedom, to some kind of normalcy. F'yr is back to work at the office with much to catch up on for all that he attempted to do in the many hours spent in the galleries, but being the offices' shared assistant, there was still a lot of reintegration to do. F'yr being the workaholic passionate paper pusher that he is, he's been pulling long hours, but today he has a full day off and he's made sure he got it coordinated with Ru'ien's so they could go hiking. He's been longing to stretch his legs for so long that they're going somewhere interest despite the impending seasons. It's not a hike they could make in just a day unless they cheated to get further along the trail than coming directly from the Weyr, so that's what they did. The hike to get here has been satisfyingly challenging, allowing for some casual conversation and comfortable silences along the way. It will be too cold to swim, but the majesty of the place they push through the last bit of tree cover to find has F'yr stopping and getting the dopiest grin on his face. Because it's a perfect balm for his cabin-fevered soul. He turns his head to find Ru'ien with his eyes, grinning that grin all the more broadly for his company. "Worth it." He declares. Even if it's just for lunch before they have to start hoofing it the other direction to meet up with the dragons left to fly (and hunt) in those parts of the forest that are friendlier to enormous crashing imbecilic bronzes big things with wings and bellies to feed.

Listen. No one needs to know they cheated! It can be another secret between them for their little ‘bro’ pact from eons Turns ago. In all seriousness, Ru'ien has been dying to do more with F’yr too; not that he ever objects to any of their stolen moments. It’s all cherished time, but these longer stretches of personal time for the two of them? Are something special! Life has a way of interrupting even the best laid plans or the smallest of hopes for the day and Ru’ien just rolled along with all of it, whether it led to their occasional crossing of paths (be it borrowed, begged or stolen) or a missed opportunity. He was there for that all-important moment of the eggs hatching and likely had (stolen, no doubt) some time then too.

Then it was back to the grind! Ru’ien has his own Craft work to attend and with the seasons warming up and things needing made or repaired (or some myriad of influx), he’s been busy too — if one ignores his healthy ‘nightlife’, other obligations (aka pole dancing training) and whatever else he gets up to in the in-between! At least Kihatsuth isn’t proddy (yet)? Fate just so has it to shine favourably on both of them eventually and Ru’ien is VERY eager to spend that free time in F’yr’s company. Even on a hike, that (despite the cheating) is still a good way to exert some pent up energy. He is all for the casual conversation, no doubt peppering it well with his seasoned humor and the occasional drift of silence. Ru’ien is behaving himself too, evidence in how he only deviates slightly twice off of their intended course (literally) when something of interest catches his eye. When they finally arrive, his gaze is on F’yr and that dopiest grin he has — no doubt absorbing that moment to visual memory. “Yeah.” he echoes softly, which is more directed at Fear being worth it (and this whole moment with him). Then his gaze shifts to the waterfall and surrounding area in wonder and now he grins from ear to ear with a firmer, louder. “Yeah!” Worth it! All of it. Best picnic lunch EVER! “So you find this place before or you hear about it?” he asks, genuinely curious.

If Ru thinks he doesn't have some kind of telling (to F'yr) when he looks at his lover-friend-bro-<insert additional complicated label here>, then he'd be wrong because clearly the bronzerider's blue eyes take in something that makes his expression soften and instead of moving immediately to doff his pack and get things set out, he's stepping into Ru'ien, tilting his head (no need to bend~) to deliver a soft kiss to those lips - if the greenrider is busy smiling, he'll give a smaller one to the edge of them in warning before the real thing, unhurried, delighted in, not a provocative kiss, but rather one that speaks of the deep feelings that are so often undercurrent to their interactions.

Despite the deep feeling, they're still them, Fear and Ruin, reunited bros shoring up the foundations of their friendship and building on it. In public, it would be hard for the uninitiated to tease apart the bonds of deep friendship from the bonds that mean more than what is traditionally defined as such for the simple reason that they are inexorably entwined in this instance. The one does not exist without the other. People will see or assume what they want, but without anything in the way of non-bro-ly PDA by routine, by habit, to confirm it, there's not much more than speculation that might be made. These moments are saved for settings like this, where it's easy to feel like the only ones in the world.

When the kiss breaks, F'yr's forehead touches to Ru's briefly - heedless of the sweat that is a side-effect of the arduous hike that was just their speed before he's pulling back with a smile. "Found it once. A while back. Had a lot of time on my hands for a while." Where Ru'ien might have turned to having outings with friends as a form of distraction, F'yr — while he did keep up with his various friends — turned time to more solitary pursuits. "It was warmer then," he observes. Warmer than winter. At least there isn't snow though; that would have made the trek impossible. "Fire or no fire? I don't figure we'll be here long." Because relaxing picnics in winter aren't really a thing, for all that here they are curing F'yr's cabin fever.

He was smiling at the time - and broader in fact - when surprisingly, and also unsurprisingly, F’yr steps into his space. Ru’ien will lean into that smaller kiss to the edge of his lips, the warning headed and allowing the full kiss to proceed unhurried. There is just a barely imperceptible sound in the back of his throat, as he falls into that expressive kiss; almost as crave-worthy as their most provocative ones! It speaks of plenty and deeply of so many feelings and much of which he could never hope to correctly articulate (besides, this is much better).

There will always be that foundation, that core, that makes Fear and Ruin as they are. Let the public try to tease apart the bonds or make their assumptions! As far as Ru’ien is concerned? What they have is wholly natural between them and something to be cherished, nurtured and protected — which may explain his willingness to curb any non-bro-ly PDA among the Weyr’s populace. It’s no one’s business, really! These moments, like the one they’re about to create for themselves here in this slice of remote paradise, is for them alone. Memories and shared experiences for Fear and Ruin to create and reflect upon and another layer upon which their relationship’s foundation stands.

Leaning readily into that gesture as the kiss breaks, Ru’ien doesn’t care about a little shared sweat between them. As F’yr draws back, he will take a small step as well, gaze drifting to the canopy of trees above them in wonder, though his broad grin is steeped from the roots of their recent exchange. “It’s an amazing find! Guaranteed to be left alone — don’t know many who’d make that hike on a whim.” he muses and if he picked up on the implications behind all that free time? He doesn’t comment on it, though recognition may very briefly flicker across his features. It vanishes completely in he next breath, as Ru’ien focuses on the here and now with Fear. “I think this is one of those ‘any time of season’ spots — unlike my cliff diving one.” Which he may already be ‘ear-marking’ mentally as ‘a place to go’ come the hot weather days! “Well, now that you mentioned it? We have to have a fire! Ambiance.” Obviously, bro? For added effect, he’ll even spread his hands out for visual gesture. “NOT calling dibs on starting it though~” You gonna fight him about it? His smug curved smirk seems to imply that challenge, though he’s laughing under his breath. “I can setup everything else!”

"Well, I would," F'yr has to point out, because he would, on a whim, come for a trek like this. "To do it properly I'd need a pair of days together and gear to sleep out." He volunteers of the whole trail. "One of the nice things about having a dragon," for him, "is that you can cut your trip short as long as you can find your way to somewhere they can meet you." Such clearings aren't exactly common, but if one is mindful of the mapping on the area they're in, it can be done, surely. "Are we really going to be here long enough to use the fire before we're just putting it out?" Evidently ambiance does not pass the Farmer muster for reasoning. It does prompt F'yr's lips to pull into an impish repressed smile, lips struggling not to let it show as he suggests, "If you get cold-" er, it's winter, F'yr, "-while we're eating, we can always tuck up together," he observes. "And I can think of a few ways I could warm you up when we get back to the Weyr." Probably while safely ensconced in his homestead as his imaginings go. It's well known that F'yr doesn't know how to flirt, so none of the way his lips finally get to do that smile or how he looks at Ru'ien are flirting, so much as simply F'yr's unconscious relationship with allure. So. Yes, Ru, he's going to fight you about that. Fight dirty.

“So, what you’re saying is… we should do this again sometime but properly?” Ru’ien teases and yet there’s a small thread of seriousness there, in case F’yr does like the idea! With a brief chuckle, he’ll sober and give a little shrug that is both an agreement to the perks of a dragon cutting the travel time and a ‘no further comment’. When the challenge comes about the fire though, Ru’ien will bring his full focus back on the bronzerider, striking a haughty, but playful pose as he smirks. There’s no surprise from the push back on the ambiance, because obviously, F’yr has the right of it — Ru’ien’s just gotta stir the pot a bit! Until he fights dirty and Ru’ien just scoffs, feigning a slight pout for “losing”. It is well known to him that F’yr doesn’t know how to flirt, but it’s just yet another thing about the bronzerider that the greenrider likes! “This is why,” Ru’ien sighs in mock disappointment before his features twist back into a broad grin. “I need to step up my game challenging you! You and your tempting, delightful sounding,” And logical! “Reasoning!” He’s stepped back into his space again, gloved fingers tracing over F’yr’s jacket — and to the straps of the backpack he’s carrying, if it’s not already removed. He’ll just take that, thank you! “You know how weak I am to an offer to cuddle~ Not to mention the rest…” There’s a wry smirk to follow that, but he moves on after a beat or two. “Where do you want to sit, Fear?”

"Why not?" F'yr does enjoy both his treks into the wild and Ru'ien's company, so that makes the offer the best of both worlds, with the practical caveat, "If we can get our schedules to mesh up." That's always an "if" given the varied duties of their different wings, but it sounds less like a hurdle and more a happenstance that he's observing. That is to say that if it didn't happen, they'd surely find something else appealing to do with whatever time they did have together. Then again, there's turns of time ahead, so sometime, surely~

F'yr doesn't get lost in thoughts of future moments but stays in this one, with Ru. "If I'm making reason sound that good, I must be getting better at my job." What with being an assistant in the diplomacy paper pushing wing and all. He grins at the greenrider, perhaps genuine in that supposition and pleased by the thought even if he was probably cheating by taking advantage of cuddles. He doesn't stop the greenrider from sliding the backpack off his shoulders, he'll even twist helpfully when the moment is right to allow Ru'ien to get at it.

"I tucked in a blanket to give a little padding between us and the-," frozen, "-ground. It's not very thick though." That's another warning that no, he really did not plan for them to linger very long. Just long enough to have a bite and start heading back. He makes a gesture to one of the slabs of dark rock that creates a bit of a shelf so they can sit with legs dangling over the edge, if they like. It's only once they're settles and done negotiating who gets which sandwich and if they're sharing just how much, that F'yr takes some silent moments to watch the waterfall and eat before he looks over to Ru'ien, "I'm sorry there's not been much time since your turnday." To be more privately together, like this, he probably means.

"I'm sure we can work something out! Got some time before the weather warms up," Ru'ien will reply enthusiastically but not elaborate too heavily on any detailed plans — for similar reasons but also because the greenrider never has been much of a 'plan for the future' type! They'll figure it out together and for him the bonus will be if they DO pull it off by pure happenstance of aligning schedules!

He laughs low and heartily for the rest, giving F'yr another quick wink for the 'improvement' in his skill-sets, as he takes that backpack from him and then works on sorting out some of what's necessary for them to have a moment together. "I think we'll survive!" He muses on the blanket, heeding the suggestion of the dark rock and drifting that way. It won't take long to arrange that part — what he ends up being playfully fussy over, is the choice of sandwiches and portions. Just another quick moment of fun, to keep the balance of lightheartedness and seriousness. "It's alright, Fear." Ru'ien replies honestly, once he's cleared his mouth of a bite of food. There's likely an elbow nudged to the bronzerider's side, playful but also more beneath the innocent gesture. He shuffles in close to lean against F'yr next, shoulder brushing shoulder, while he idly swings his legs over the edge of the rock shelf. "You miss me?" He muses, mouth curving into a broad and slanted smile that is a mixture of teasing and warmth — obviously he has an idea of the answer! Given his is clearly written in his eyes, that he's missed him, but holds no upset feelings over their lack of time together.

F'yr is neither worried about future plans nor whether or not they'll survive. Portions, however, are srs bsns, which is to say that F'yr engages in the game with all mock sobriety and the appropriate suspicious looks, but if Ru'ien somehow manages to end up with slightly more than half being pressed upon him… well, it's in F'yr's blood to both be generous and to make sure those that need to eat do that. (Imagine life at the office with mother hen F'yr.) But it's just this kind of game, this playfulness that he can engage in unbridled with Ru'ien that, on other occasions, leads to little tussles or owing or being owed in invisible ledgers that never make good on things (unless it's fun to do so~) is one of the things F'yr loves best about being with Ru'ien.

That, and that they can go from moments like that to moments like this. "I know," that it's alright, but— "But I'd have liked to be able to get more. Because I do." His smile softens in that way it has of doing for Ru'ien and only Ru'ien. It's the smile that only Ru'ien gets from him. (Maybe it has look-alikes for others, but not just-alikes.) "I only just got you back. You're going to have to forgive me for never getting my fill." That probably would have been a statement that went 'for not getting my fill yet' but F'yr can't make that playful, even if he can make this as much playful as it is real.

He adds to that playfulness by saying, "I just can't get that image out of my head, Ruin." He turns his head, sandwich held safely away while he nibbles along the greenrider's jawline before he murmurs into the man's ear, "of the two of us," kiss, kiss— teeth there, "you know," more teeth, a touch of tongue and one more kiss, "in the hip bath." And that's when he pulls back snickering. Because he is the worst. But don't hit him, something might happen to the sandwiches~~

And Ru’ien was likely attempting to press the slightly more than half on F’yr, but he will relent — with only a half serious groaned complaint of his thighs (like a few bites extra would make a difference)! These games between them are one of the things that Ru’ien loves best too and that F’yr enjoys it, understands his humor and joins in. It’s more than he could ever ask and ever hoped for!

It’s true that they are building a natural rhythm between themselves, going from one kind of moment to another seamlessly. Ru’ien’s mirth doesn’t entirely subside, but it sobers just enough under that smile F’yr gives him. One that sinks in deep and warms him through and has him giving his own heartfelt smile back — Ru’ien’s smile for F’yr. “Guess I’m just as guilty, then.” For wanting to have more time with him and for enjoying hearing those words from the bronzerider. “Mhm,” he muses into that playfulness and around another bite of sandwich. His gaze remains on F’yr, blue eyes narrowed but bright with amusement and widening to that addition! Do tell? The nibbles to his jawline are definitely welcomed, with him tilting his head just-so in further invitation to the attention. He hums low in pleasure, chuckling and sighing under his breath to those kisses and teeth.

Don’t hit him!? His expression might give away his contemplation on the idea, but in the end Ru’ien only laughs, mouth curving into a wry smirk. “You’re never going to let me live that down, are you?” he mutters, amused and drifting closer to the bronzerider. Listen, it wasn’t so much a joke that Ru’ien does crave cuddles as much as anything else and he’s missed it with him. “I think I can forgive you,” he adds, looping back to that previous statement he never got to reply to before being so thoroughly distracted. “Maybe you’ll need to convince me, too.” It’s a lighthearted tease, in essence, as always.

Listen, Ru'ien, F'yr has an exercise for that. One that, with only one many-layered speculative glance at those thighs, he has no hesitation in offering to help the greenrider perform. As long as it takes. And if there are sexual overtones to that— well. He's either oblivious or it's more fun to bait the hook and let it dangle. All in good humor, of course. (And just the teensiest bit of seriousness, not that F'yr finds anything remotely lacking about the greenrider's body, of course.)

Though there's a deepening of his smile in getting the complementary look from Ru'ien, F'yr doesn't react to more until the latest play is made and reacted to. "I could be convinced," he returns to letting the greenrider live it down, but maybe only because of Ru's last words. "Or we could just call it even," that would be sensible, but where's the fun in that? "But let's just suppose, hypothetically," he proposes between bites and swallowing, "that I did want to convince you. What would you propose?" What would be convincing? Finding out (and maybe even doing it) is definitely more fun.

You bet that Ru’ien would take the sexual overtones in that and run with it! A baited hook he will certainly nibble on or swallow whole (insert another innuendo pun here). Truly, the greenrider is very secure in his body (obviously) but perhaps one day he will take interest in F’yr’s repertoire of exercise knowledge and coax the bronzerider into showing him some of it. Just wait until he learns of Ru’ien’s latest dance interests? He’s going to have to stay fit!

Ru’ien tilts his head, intrigued and raising a lone brow with a fitting smirk to F’yr’s initial return on being convinced. He grimaces fleetingly for ‘calling it even’ — exactly! Where’s the fun in that? May as well see if there are better offers on the table and it’s certainly delivered~ There’s a low rolling laugh for the “hypothetical” spin and he won’t answer him immediately. He’s too busy shifting on that blanket (it IS cold, okay?), turning to tuck his legs up off the edge of the rock ledge and tucking in closer against F’yr’s side. If permitted, he’d go as far as to sit between his legs, so that they can rest against one another in shared cuddling warmth. “Well, hypothetically speaking,” he muses as he settles, laughter still colouring his tone. “There’s a lot you could do! Don't want to spell it out too much for you." Half the fun is in the anticipation, right? "You could, oh… tell me what you’ve missed about me and about us? Could show me~ The little things count, y’know.” Does that mean F’yr’s been gaining points this whole time?

Oh, no, Ru~ Don't~ Stop~ Whatever you do, please don't make F'yr get sweaty showing you his repertoire or letting him put his big hands all over you to help you with your "form"~ How will anyone survive?!~~~~~ (DO IT.)

Well, if he must. F'yr readily shifts around so Ru'ien can tuck himself where he'd like to be. Who is he to say 'no' to some very cozy snuggling, even if he hurries a little to finish the sandwich so he won't be accidentally dropping crumbs into Ru's hat. He leans and twists to brush his hands against one another to clear them before he's reaching to encircle the greenrider with his arm, tucking his head down to press a kiss to one cheek. All in the name of warming up. "Oh, you don't?" F'yr returns, something deeply amused in his voice. "So you're saying that there's nothing you've been imagining late at night when your mind wanders before sleep?" Beat. "Like me, with you and that hip bath." He says it lowly, darkly, sexily because that's what makes it funny. Even if Ru'ien can't see the grin from his vantage, he can probably feel it in F'yr's cheek against his own.

"It would be a shorter list to tell you what I haven't missed. Because that's nothing." It sounds like a line, but this is F'yr, so it's really just the truth. Something there, though, hits into a more serious tone and F'yr is tightening his arms around Ru'ien and snugging him closer. "It's not reasonable to say let's never fight again, but I really never want to have a reason to miss you the way I missed you, Ruin." His voice even hitches a little. And to that end, "There are things we should still talk about. To make sure there's not a reason." Because time has been scarce since That Night, but things were paused, not fully resolved. "Not maybe while we're still sitting here. But maybe a little as we head back? More tonight? You're coming home with me, right?" Because if it wasn't clear before that F'yr wants that, it should be clear now.

Oh, it MIGHT HAPPEN NOW~ A future proddy Ru’ien may need some form of new ‘distraction’ to burn off that never-ending restlessness that rears up!

Ru’ien would never (or very rarely ever) say no to some cozy snuggling and when F’yr obliges to his “request”, he’s beaming smugly (so happy~) as he settles himself. Crumbs would’ve been forgiven! The kiss brings a quiet, low throated hum of happiness, as he reaches up to rest at least one hand over one of F’yr’s encircled around him. He chuckles throatily In return for that ‘something’ in the bronzerider’s voice. “Damn.” he breathes, slightly shaky, half because of the laughter that ripples with it. That grin is felt and partial joke or not, that tone sends a little shiver through Ru’ien all the same. “You caught me.” he purrs in that sultry way of his, joking in turn with a grin of his own (because let’s be honest, Ru’ien does imagine PLENTY~).

Despite the fleeting urge to tease F’yr on that one comment (because it does sound like a line), with the understanding of the truth of it, Ru'ien begins to sober his mood. It’s not just that tone, but the tightening of those arms that has him pressing, leaning into the bronzerider as they snuggle. His eyes close briefly, as memories flicker and fade unbidden. “I don’t want to miss you that way again either, Fear." he admits, grimly. "It was…” Hard. One of the hardest times of his life. Still stings. “Tough.” he finishes in a hushed way. There’s a softer sound of agreement to the need to still talk. “Yeah, we can start as we head back.” Ru’ien murmurs, as he shifts against F’yr just enough to gain enough of an angle so he can look up properly and catch his gaze. “More tonight.” The wry smile that follows cannot be helped, nor the way he tilts his head in obvious precursor to another kiss — once he’s finished speaking the words inches from F’yr’s lips. “I am coming home with you, Fear.” A sealed deal, as if there was any doubt that he hadn’t picked up on it before!

All the joking is going by the wayside. F'yr certainly enjoyed it for what it was, but as topic shift to more serious things, he's there, in this moment, too. There's another tightening of his arms for the difficulty, a press of his face into Ru's neck, the sense of it no longer being just a cuddle, but also an embrace. "For me, too. Differently." Because they had two different experiences, and yet, there's probably much in those feelings that overlap. Blue eyes meet blue when they come looking, and F'yr's smile is coaxed back into existence by that look, that smile, a soft thing that is gratitude and quiet joy and just affirmation that that's a wonderful thing to hear. His head dips to accommodate that kiss, not rushing the moment. "Good," is soft in the wake of those last words.

F'yr shifts a little, but not enough to dislodge Ru'ien. "We should start heading back soon if we don't want to end up as icicles." Even if combined body heat helps. And yet, he doesn't move. "I think I like something about the falls, the stream. It makes sense of things for me in a way that not a lot of things back at the Weyr always do. Makes my head a quieter place." He's looking at the falls as he says it, turning his head back to Ru to smile, "Thanks, Ruin. For doing this with me. I needed it." After all, what is more opposite than the hatching sands in summer-to-autumn-to-winter than lots of water in winter?

An embrace is just as warmly received by Ru’ien and needed as things turn serious. Moments like these still get under his skin and old habits rise to tempt; familiar escapes, when things become ‘uncomfortable’. The shared closeness, the intimacy — Fear is his anchor. Fear is safe and Ru’ien can focus instead on being there too, in this moment, for both of them. The shift draws him out of the aftermath of that kiss, not entirely dissolving the good it brought, even in the wake of things to come. “Mhm, that would put a serious downer on our night, wouldn’t it?” Ru’ien muses playfully, while also making zero effort to move. If anything? He leans even more into F’yr. Just two more minutes? Because he’s truly listening to those words the bronzerider shares. “I like to think everyone has places like that. You picked a great spot for yours!” The unspoken here is a ‘thank you’ for sharing it. Ruin will adhere to their old bro-code; its location will forever be known only between them! “Anytime, Fear.” That smile is returned, as he adds in a quieter, honest voice. “Y’know? This has been nice.” The hike and the moment they’re now sharing together — even the difficult they briefly touched upon.

Fear is safe, just as the man is putting his trust in Ruin to not run from things that are hard. But he's there to help him face those things, to lend strength and support just as his partner does for him, whether he knows it or not. "I mean, icicles are hard and everything, but it sounds potentially hazardous. There are things I'd rather not lose to frostbite, if you don't mind." That's a joke, it comes with a smirk, a rare look on the bronzerider but certainly warranted here.

Ru'ien gets his 'just two more minutes' by dint of the sharing. "I have more than just this one. A lot are natural places. But some are other places. The office." That's sort of funny, right? There's a bemused smile for it at any rate. "And my home. "Being with certain people," a little squeeze indicates Ru'ien is among them. "It was always nice to hike with you, Ruin. Back when we were candidates. Something I always looked forward to and cherished." Still, now, here, this. F'yr is burying his face against Ru'ien's neck again for a long moment of just enjoying the present moment, but then his arms give a little shake. "Alright, we should start moving. We can laze about later." Where it's warmer.

He's sliding off the rock and getting the pack resettled with the blanket as soon as he's pulled Ru'ien up off of it so he can swing it back onto his very capable shoulders. "I think back should be easier, more or less, than on the way up, but we'll have to be careful of any slippery places." It's not that cold today, but it is still winter and ice does show up in the damnedest places. He doesn't pick a hard topic to start yet, but he does ask Ru, "Ready?" in a way that probably implies more than just to head out.

Fear has given Ruin a reason not to run from things. It helps, having that comfort of not being alone and to have that trust, that strength and support. The joke brings a moment of laughter from the greenrider, as equally enjoyed as that rare smirk on F’yr! “The office?” Ru’ien can’t help but echo that one, likely slightly interjecting between the bronzerider’s words before he sheepishly quiets himself. Sort of funny, but mostly intriguing! There’s one of those smiles, small but no less warm for the little squeeze. “Feeling’s mutual, Fear. On all counts.” he murmurs low, tilting his head when he buries his face against his neck. Drawing them closer, in that moment and unhurried to see it ending. There’s only a sigh of mildly reluctant agreement at F’yr’s words of having to move but Ru’ien obliges. He might make a show of it at first by moving slowly on purpose but luckily he doesn’t play that out too long.

Making a few adjustments of his own, Ru’ien will glance one more time around the surrounding area and the waterfall, before settling his gaze on F’yr. There’s a small nod to whether it will be easier returning or not, but his reply is more for the last. “One thing first?” he requests, while stepping closer to the bronzerider — and sneaking in a quick kiss, while his hand will reach to lace his fingers with one of F’yr’s. As the kiss resolves, Ru’ien will grin and, if successful, hold their joined hands up slightly for emphasis. “Just in case I slip? I’m taking you down with me.” Joking aside, the real reason is Ru’ien is a little nervous and needs that connection to keep him grounded. Obviously they will have to let go at points because of the nature of hiking, but so long as F’yr allows it? He’s going to selfishly do it.

F'yr's silent acquiescence is readily readable in the way he's pliably pulled that much closer once they're ready to go, to kiss his Ruin and interlace his fingers. It doesn't stop Practical F'yr from murmuring, "If you slip, you should want me to be able to carry you the rest of the way." Because it's true! Still, the former farmer must not actually think the physical path ahead that fraught with peril that he can't safely hold hands, though he will break contact as safety dictates along the way. "Talking while we move might actually be easier," Fear observes as he tugs the hand and starts them down the return path. "A good way to give the nerves an outlet." The walking he means. "Just, let me know if we're hitting something where we should table things instead of talk. Or talk about something else." Because striding off into the woods fuelled by emotion would be unsafe as well as unwise. Not to mention that F'yr has been fled from before.

There's a visible gathering of thoughts as they take the initial trek into the shelter of bare trees intermingled with those that keep their greenery through the seasons. Occasionally, Ru'ien's hand is gripped tighter, and then released. Finally, after no small amount of occupied silence that still isn't uncomfortable, even if there is some building anticipation that is of a more somber note than anticipation's usual partners, Fear takes a breath and begins. "Should we start with who? With what? Or should we—?" Is there a better piece of everything to start with? He glances to Ru'ien though his eyes are largely on the path, though perhaps his hand is tight now on the greenrider's, like he's a little concerned bringing up his people might cause the man to go.

“Always thinking ahead,” Ru’ien muses with a hint of a chuckle to his voice, not exactly disagreeing with Practical F’yr — he just doesn’t seem that concerned over slipping and falling. “I’ve always wanted to be carried bridal style, but I think I’d rather skip the injury precursor!” He grins then, briefly, before his mood appropriately sobers, stepping forwards at the tug of his hand. There’s a small nod of his head, his gaze on the approaching path. “I’m with you on that,” he murmurs on the idea of movement providing outlet — oh yes, the greenrider knows just how well that can work! “I’ll let you know — just as I want you to tell me the same.” Ru’ien offers not wholly as a promise but genuine reassurance that he’s not going to storm off — maybe it’s really not in his nature to?

That initial gathering of thoughts is permitted to extend without interruption. Ru’ien is taking his own measures in ‘preparing’ himself, which includes squeezing F’yr’s hand in return when the grip tightens and releases. His gaze remains largely on their path or to the surrounding trees, preoccupied with that building anticipation within that not uncomfortable silence between them. Once it’s clear that the bronzerider is breaking through first, Ru’ien’s gaze shifts to him, blue eyes meeting blue and holding steady. His brows furrow lightly, briefly tugging at his lower lip with his teeth as he considers the too many options. Where to start? “Start with whatever feels ‘right’ for you, Fear? Are we going for names first or talking boundaries? Which I guess isn’t helpful at all.” he smirks, vaguely before exhaling softly. “None of it is gonna be ‘easy’. So I guess it just depends if you wanna go in slow or just tackle it like ripping off the bandage in one swoop?”

"Remind me later." F'yr's good natured response to Ru's professed whim of being bridal style carried is predictable; if anyone could~~ MIGHT AS WELL USE THOSE MUSCLES FOR SOMETHING~~ "I'll let you know," is equally predictable reassurance in turn. The rest, however, ends up bringing a little 'V' to the skin between his eyes. It is probably not a good sign that already he's having to think so hard. Some long moments later, he clears his throat a little, "Boundaries? I'm not sure what all—" He starts, stops, sort of squints at the path ahead (though it has nothing to do with what he's seeing) and then tries again. "What kinds of things do we need to talk about there?" At least with names and relationships to him, it's — well, not actually more straightforward now that he thinks on it and maybe that's why his other hand comes up to rub at his forehead and all the wrinkles now there. But boundaries are at least an as yet unknown danger zone, so start there. What could go wrong~~? He's clearly looking to Ru to have some idea of what they should be addressing or how. He probably doesn't realize how much time he's spent thinking about boundaries in his life to date.

Ru’ien only chuckles low in his throat to F’yr’s request of a reminder — which means he’s likely to pull something if the mood allows some playfulness by the time they return! For now, though, he is rooted in the present, attention drifting back to the bronzerider; watching, observing and trying best to sooth the rise of nerves. He’ll frown a little himself when F’yr’s hand comes up and then suddenly it’s on him to have the answer. Ru’ien flounders, mouth working but the words not quite there, stuck stubbornly on the tip of his tongue. THIS IS HARD, OKAY? He exhales roughly, almost a scoff (directed at himself) as his free hand scrubs over his mouth and lower jaw; the other hand is gripping tight at F’yr’s hand. Another breath and on the exhale, the start of a rolling chuckle that almost becomes a (nervous) scoffed laugh. “Damn, I — we really aren’t good with this, are we? Does everyone struggle this much?” Words suck. Words grounded in so much emotion suck even more! “I think…” he begins on more sobered terms, gaze lowering to the path beneath a serious frown. “I used the wrong word. ‘Boundaries’ sounds restrictive. When that’s not what I want for us? Is there another word?” The last is not a true question, though he’s likely to welcome any answer. Time for a small step back, a tiny regroup and… try again.

Ru’ien lapses silent, but only for a few steps before speaking up quietly between them. “You have other important people to you and I —“ He pauses to confirm in his own thoughts. “I want to make sure I don’t do anything to interfere with that. You know how I can be — and I guess that’s what I was aiming at? I don’t want to hurt you, Fear.” Not again. Not ever again, if he can have the say in avoiding it (and he’s going to try, which speaks massively of just how deeply he cares for him). “That’s why I want to talk about… what is important to us. I want to know too if there’s stuff I shouldn’t be doing? What makes you uncomfortable? What would push your tolerance?” Oh sure, Ru’ien, go for the really hard questions in (out of?) sequence! Maybe he’s aware, in some way, of how much he’s asking and gives a faint grimace and sheepish look when his gaze returns to meet F’yr’s — and maybe he’s not expecting answers for everything because that is A LOT and some may take precedence!

At least F'yr has the answer to the first one: "No one is good at things when they're new to them. Sometimes, they manage well enough." They'll probably aim for that. Managing well enough. "Worst that happens is we get it wrong and sort it out," because the bronzerider will not, here and now, acknowledge that it can/has/could get worse than that. He's holding Ru'ien's hand and he's not letting go. He listens to the rest though, "Boundaries," he rolls the word around when the greenrider has finished all. Then he wrinkles his nose and shakes his head.

"Boundaries are good. They're healthy. They get a bad rap because as a child you always want to push against the things you're told you can't or shouldn't do and that word gets used for everything from don't pull on your sister's pigtail to don't jump in the pen with the bull. They don't use it right. Parents, I mean, so by the time we get big, the word sounds limiting instead of the thing that helps keep us safe. There are boundaries that are important. Like—" He squints at nothing, maybe pulling a phrase he heard somewhere, but not one he's well familiar with, "Hard limits? They're there to keep you safe: don't go on the hatching sands if you don't belong there and there's a queen brooding on her clutch. Don't jump off an unfamiliar ledge and trust there's no rocks below, because there are probably rocks. That kind of thing."

He pauses as he navigates a tricky spot - tricky because they're holding hands, but he is not letting go, not right now - and picks up when they're around the cluster of trees that just had to grow in the middle of the beaten path. "Then there are softer limits. Things that still might hurt you, but won't kill you to push on. But boundaries are there to let you know about a danger, about where you ought to tread lightly. Nothing wrong with boundaries, just our perceptions of them."

And thus concludes another episode of 'the culmination of shit F'yr thinks about in all his silent time where he doesn't say what he's thinking.' For all his propensity for simplistic approaches and attitudes, for all his hard lean into silences and listening, there's a complex mental landscape there ripe for his herdbeast brain to meander through and occasionally, with the right people, he'll dare to offer his perspective of the world. He doesn't even get to the them stuff, because that he needs to think about a moment or six more. He'll get there. Just not yet.

“Yeah, true.” Will be all that Ru’ien says in acknowledgement to manage well enough and then sorting it out when (if?) they get it wrong. Not to dismiss it, because it is important but because he genuinely agrees with everything said! He’s usually full of opinions and rambling words but he’s learned the benefits of less — somewhat. So he bites his tongue, leaving the bronzerider to speak his mind without interruption from him.

He tilts his head slightly, as F’yr repeats the word that Ru’ien wasn’t confident on. His attention is clearly on him, silent throughout the whole explanation. His brows furrow, his expression neutral but not tense; there’s some comfort in just hearing him talk. When they reach that tricky spot, Ru’ien will focus on moving around those trees alongside F’yr and not letting go. “Never thought to think of it that way? But I like it better than what I had rolling around in my head” he remarks quietly, his voice pitched just loud enough to be heard over their trek through the woods. If he sounds distant, it’s only for being in his own thoughts — probably more than he usually is. Ru’ien gives F’yr quite the sidelong look, partially for having glimpsed so much in that short amount of time. He doesn’t comment further, not verbally at least, but through another squeeze of their joined hands. It will lead to another mutual stretch of silence between them, a not-awkward pause while he gives F’yr all the time he needs.

"So, these boundaries," F'yr ventures after that digestive silence only broken by the nonverbal squeeze of a hand. "It sounds like you mean them to be things that will help keep us and others safe. Is that right?" His tone is even, still thoughtful, but not at all unwilling. He's just making sure he understands the goal before blundering venturing on.

Ru'ien exhales heavily, not even realizing he'd been holding his breath for a moment once F'yr had broken that silence. He glances sidelong again to him, a small but warm smile tugging at one corner of his mouth. "Yeah, that sounds about right." He confirms, quietly reassuring despite his own lurking nervousness. Ru'ien's gaze will linger for a moment longer than it should on F'yr, thoughtful but silent and only drops away when it's necessary for him to be looking ahead. He's as ready as he'll ever be for this!

There's a little more silence as they move along because confirmation is good but words are still hard. Finally, the bronzerider is clearing his throat, and answering the questions: "I don't know." Anticlimactic much? His free hand comes up to rub the back of his neck. "I think the people— my people all sort of need different things to feel comfortable, and I'm not entirely sure what all— we don't-" This isn't awkward at all, right? As he bluders along, starting, stopping, re-starting. It's definitely shocking when he reveals, "No one really spends too much time talking about what they're comfortable with, except-" The one. That he doesn't currently name. His cheeks are red, though. Nevermind that Ru'ien did not ask what F'yr's people need. "What do you need?" It's so much easier to ask than answer, but clearly F'yr cares about the answer. He might not even be aware of how little F'yr was in that non'answer.'

No, he didn’t ask what F’yr’s people need but Ru’ien doesn’t get the chance to correct him — or, more likely, chooses not to. They’ll get around to it! Small awkward steps. He does tuck some of that away, namely the ‘needing different things’. There’s no push for names, no nudge or prying for even a hint. Priority has him focusing on the sudden turn of question to him. He might be taking in the way F’yr’s cheeks redden too! “I —“ And the words stick in his throat, leading to a heavy exhale and faint grimace. Give him a moment or ten? Ru’ien uses his free hand to scrub it along his jaw and over his mouth, brows furrowed heavily. How to word it? Where to start? what has he got himself into and can’t they just go back to joking around? “I need to know your boundaries, Fear. With me? With us first, I think, before I can answer that.” His free hand gestures vaguely, while his other squeezes in their joined grip. He’s feeling nervous, even if his actions so far show a calmer side on the surface. “You know how I am — and better than most.” There is fondness in that quiet admission, before his tone sobers. “Does it bother you if I flirt with others? Kiss? More?” he asks, only a touch hesitant and followed by a vague smirk. Too much? Too little? He isn’t so confident now, but he’s trying. Does he need to start listing hypothetical examples, here?

They might have been in real trouble: both needing the other's answer in order to know what they need, and F'yr's expression briefly reflects this newly recognized hazard in the form of tightened lips and troubled eyes. But then Ru'ien's breaking it down a little further, and that helps— only it trips him from troubled into perplexed. His, "No?" might be an offensive lack of jealousy. Then he's stopping abruptly and using Ru'ien's hand to drag him closer, free arm going around his back. "Hang on." Beat. He's putting it together and getting squinty at his Ruin. "Did you think I punched you because you had another someone?" Because, hold up, his tone is a shadow of dismay that may yet come if the answer is 'yes.'

Offensive or unsurprising? Ru’ien doesn’t look disappointed by it, his gaze dropping only for the abrupt stop and the feel of F’yr’s free arm around his back. He allows himself to be dragged closer, taking it one half step more and nearly leaning into him. Blue eyes lift to meet that squinting gaze and now it’s his turn to look troubled beneath a puzzled frown — at least until a few things click. Then his expression drops, likely echoing that shadow of dismay in F’yr’s tone. “No!” Ru’ien’s reply is quick, but genuine and followed by a quieter, but firmer spoken: “No, I never thought that.” He knows the reason why and has for some time. “That isn’t why — I wasn’t…” Start, stop and he falters with a shaky exhale that is nerves and frustration. Rather than feed into that flightiness, he takes a slower breath, his eyes closing as he licks at his lower lip and works his jaw silently. Regrouping. Even before he’s fully aware, he’s already leaning in to attempt pressing his forehead to F’yr’s. “I just need to hear it from you again, okay, Fear? Even if we covered this once before.” That was then and this is now and while Ru’ien assumes he has it, understands it, it still helps to have that reassurance. Especially for those longer nights or quieter stretches of time when the shadows of his thoughts catch up to him.

"Okay," is quick, from that place with foreheads pressed together. The dismay would not have been for Ru's understanding, but rather for the idea that F'yr had somehow, along the way, sent such a grossly incorrect message. It's good that they're stopped for this though, because it's important that F'yr can pull back from that position of reassurance and let go of Ru's hand just so he can bring a hand up to cup the greenrider's jaw. "I love you, Ruin." That's first, and blue eyes are trying hard to make sure that his words carry the weight of emotion there.

"I love you for what you are to me and for you being you. My love for you isn't changed if you want to kiss someone, fuck someone, love someone— a hundred someones. I just wouldn't want to hurt any of your people either." That, dear Ru, is where there was trouble before and F'yr's thumb is stroking the smith's cheek gently. "I want you happy, Keruthien. If someone else contributes to that, great." He means that. "If you want to share anything about that with me, I'm listening. If not, then that's your business. I do want enough information that I'm not wrecking anything for you or hurting someone you care about if I can help it." That, BTW, does not include giving up Ru'ien in favor of someone else unless Ru'ien asks him to change things in a way that eliminates more intimate aspects of their relationship, but he won't go there just now.

He doesn't end up asking about who had a problem that made Ru need to hear this, but his eyes search Ru'ien's and he's here if the greenrider wants to share. For the moment, they're not making more progress toward the promises of home and a warm fire and will need to move soon, but not just yet. This is too important.

They are getting some parts of this right, at least? It is good that they stopped at this point; it may have otherwise been left unaddressed, but still festering in the back of Ru’ien’s mind throughout. He will let their hands slip apart, with his hand dropping to his side at first and then lifting to rest against F’yr’s instead. As his jaw is cupped, his eyes open, gaze lifting to meet his in turn. The words bring that visible reassurance and a wordless depth that brightens in unspoken warmth and understanding — the weight of motion is caught, even if it takes a beat or two.

Ru’ien listens and while he is silent, his expression changes in the subtlest of ways but for F’yr? It can be easily read. From the way his mouth shifts, even the way he pulls briefly at his lower lip, the way his brows furrow or lift, the narrowing and relaxing around his eyes — it’s all those minute responses to what he’s hearing. It’s all good responses; the signs of someone gaining the healing they need to quell enough of those building nerves and nagging insecurities. The touch helps and he will tilt into that too, all while his arms slip around in a loose hold. Hearing his full name brings a quiet smile and a steadier sigh. Leaning in, Ru’ien will press his lips to F’yr’s in a light, but no less emotionally filled, kiss (and an implied thank you and the depth of his love wrapped all up in it).

That searching look from F’yr doesn’t have Ru’ien shying away; at least, not entirely. There is hesitation, as he considers what, if anything, to say. In his vulnerable state, the answer is there in his eyes for F’yr to glimpse and understand without the name even being spoken. He knows who it is. They both do. “It shook me up pretty bad. Really bad.” he shares after another stretch of silence, swallowing thickly from a mouth suddenly running dry. “All that happened.” He doesn’t delve them in too deeply but maybe just enough for now.

“I want to share things with you, Fear.” he murmurs low, hushed and private despite it just being them out here. “I want to share my life, everything and that includes my experiences. I don’t expect you to be as open,” One of his hands moves to reach between them, laying flat over F’yr’s chest where his heart is. “And that’s okay and it doesn’t change my love for you. That’s not what I am asking here — I guess I’m letting you know that I will be. Probably to the point of being too much some days.” His eyes search F’yr’s now, silently questioning. Does that make sense? Softly, he adds. “Having that information, so we don’t wreck anything or hurt someone we care about — that might have been what I was trying to get at. I can’t lose you again, Stefyr.”

There's silence. There's togetherness, in those moments after Ru'ien has finished speaking. F'yr has listened. He's watched. The hand that was on the greenrider's jaw releases and comes to cover Ru'ien's hand against his own heart, rubbing it ever so gently but firmly where it's at. There's hesitation. But just before the greenrider can chime in with any kind of reassurance that F'yr doesn't have to share whatever has him hesitating, he shares, quietly, "The first time I told someone I loved them, they didn't believe me. Because I have other people." He swallows hard. Because that is still a hard memory. "I was—" He takes a breath, his forehead leaning to find Ru'ien's, "I was terrified you would feel the same when I told you." Beat. "Or that people would think because I also loved others, differently, but intensely, that it would mean I loved them less. It's just not true." That last might be a little bit of an inadvertently defensive plea, a fervent wish that Ru'ien should understand this.

"I don't understand it. I can love brothers and sisters but for some, if I love more than one person, it limits what I can feel for them, in their minds, but not in my heart." That's hard. It's hard for F'yr, who is simply wired this way. But he accepts not everyone is. His eyes slide closed as he takes a few deep breaths to gather himself.

If there are tears escaping the edges of his eyes before he even opens them again, Ruin will hopefully forgive him. "I can't imagine you being too much, Ruin." HONESTLY, RU, THE MAN IS BOUND FOR LIFE TO GLORIOTH, HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO COMPETE WITH THAT??? But really, blue eyes open and he's tilting his head to kiss Ru'ien again, the way Ru'ien kissed him, soft, slow, emotionally charged. "I'm not going anywhere," his breath is ragged when the kiss ends, and he's embracing Ru'ien fiercely with the one arm that's around him, his hand still holding Ru's to his heart. "I just keep hoping I won't scare you away." Because he might. He really might.

Ru’ien’s whole body drifts closer, his hand pressed firmly and now with the addition of F’yr’s against the bronzerider's chest. Together. He listens, quietly, all through those words shared with him and even if he doesn’t immediately respond verbally, F’yr will feel his reactions. Their close proximity allows it, similar to before with his facial expressions (which are still just as subtly telling), with the way his frame tenses, then relaxes under minute little shifts — all to the ebb and flow of emotions beneath the surface in tandem to what is shared between them. It will come when F’yr shares his experience of admitting his love the first time and again to the admission of being terrified — Ru’ien imparts as much support and reassurance as he can by simply being there, without interjecting. He leans in again to have their foreheads touch in that all familiar gesture.

Of course the tears are forgiven and if he had a hand free, he would have brushed them away — and it’s not like Ru’ien’s eyes are any less dry, holding the tell-tale brightness of one barely holding back. He swallows hard, tongue working over his lower lip as he gathers himself in the wake of so much. He returns that kiss, soft and slow, allowing that emotionally charged exchange to balance out the storm inside of him. It grounds him, almost as much as the fierce embrace equally returned. “I’m not going anywhere either,” he replies in a hoarse whisper. As he leans back, seeking F’yr’s gaze, his hand will slide up from where it rests to cup the bronzerider’s jaw, thumb stroking over his cheek. “And it will take a lot to scare me off, Fear.” He was punched and then cut off for months and was there the whole time, waiting. Ru’ien does not seem too concerned on that front, even if those thoughts may surface later when he is alone.

“I know it’s not true,” he goes on to murmur, reflecting back on F’yr’s earlier words. "I see you, Fear, because we are alike in that way. Not wholly the same but similar enough in how we love. I trust you, even if I don’t exactly understand something right away.” That’s why they’re talking it out, right? or trying to “It’s hard, so hard to understand,” he whispers softly now, agreeing with him. “Trying to make sense of everything and then putting it to words for those you care about. Struggling with those worries and doubts and being afraid of the outcomes. I’ve been there. And…” he falters a moment, eventually letting out a shaky, hitched sighed breath. “It went so completely wrong and it still hurts, thinking they had the right of it when they didn’t until it was too late.” Ru’ien takes a steadying breath, blinking furiously against the sudden build of heat behind his eyes. Will F’yr forgive a few tears on his end?

Tears are not nothing, but they're not a cause for alarm with F'yr. He's leaning to press a simple kiss to Ru'ien's lips, not a long one, just one that reassures without gagging him too long. "Hurts take time to heal, Ru. Some never do. I'm sorry it happened to you." There's a hug for that. "We should keep moving," he adds, but he's reclaiming Ru'ien's hand and walking closer to the greenrider as he initiates a continuation of their path. The movement will give them time to regroup from their old wounds. Let it not be said that the need to move is a lack of support for the other, though, it's a mutual moment — they're both still there if the other has a need, right?

After some silence, some more distance, maybe one more stop for a silent embrace before continuing on, F'yr manages to find words. "There is a lot, with me, Keruthien. That might be enough." To scare him off, that is. "But not talking about it isn't going to make it easier to talk about." He chews his lower lip a moment. "I think… I think boundaries would be easier to figure out when you know who and how I relate with them." He glances to the greenrider with a lift of brows that's a silent question. Is that okay? Is he ready to lose some of the vagaries which have made things comfortable thus far in their relationship?

Ru’ien will take any form of reassurance, even the press of lips in a simple kiss and equally return it. Healing takes time, he knows that, but it’s comforting nonetheless to have it confirmed again by one closest to his heart (aside from Kiha). “Yeah.” he murmurs, a vague ripple of a withheld smile following as he hugs him back. Never one to say it out loud, his quick glance to F’yr as he steps back holds all the unspoken ‘thank you’ — as well as a mutual ‘sorry all that happened to you has happened too.’ They all bear their own scars, but at least they have each other.

With his hand reclaimed, he’ll keep a firm grip as he nods his agreement to continuing on. Following alongside, Ru’ien welcomes both the movement and time to regroup. He does not feel a lack of support and certainly lends his if needed. The silence is not a tense one, but almost peaceful on his end; it gives him time to absorb and digest what just went down. Gives time for nerves to settle, emotions to balance out as much as they can. If they stop for one more embrace, Ru’ien welcomes it! When F’yr finds the words he wants, Ru’ien almost counters him, but stops himself — except the look he still gives everything away. Have some faith in him? It won't stop the mixed look of intrigue and worry, though; it can't be helped, given it's been repeated twice now. “Not talking about it could land us in more trouble too,” he admits with the faintest of smirks. “But I’m with you on the rest, Fear and I’m ready when you are.” His hand will squeeze tight to his, a reminder that he is there and he can take all the time he needs. This is okay. It's time to step forwards through this together.

There's a deep breath drawn by F'yr as they move. "Okay." And then nothing. Some steps later, there's another breath and an echo, "Okay." He's trying, and this is hard. But there is a need. "Okay." Third time is the charm? "I already told you there are people I care about that I'm not physically involved with, but that that doesn't impact how important they are to me, right?" He's pretty sure, so he goes on. "I need you to understand that not all of these things are necessarily reciprocated in a way similar to what I feel, but it doesn't change how important, how loved these people are. Or cared for."

Beat. "Some aren't— well, they're different than love exactly, but important anyway." Does that make any kind of sense? Hopefully it does. "You probably should know about them anyway." He bites his lip. Maybe he isn't sure, but, "They're not going anywhere," seems to be explanation for why. But LOOK, here he is, still hedging. "I'll start with the ones that I have a—" he pauses, contemplating the terminology, "—significant emotional tie that doesn't have to do with physical things, but could, if it was ever right for that person and me," but that MIGHT NOT just as easily.

Third time's the charm! Ru’ien would’ve easily held out for a sixth or tenth. Really, truly, he is in no hurry to see them race to a proverbial ‘finish line’ — if there is one! He gives a small nod of his head on the swift recap F’yr starts with, acknowledging that they must have touched upon it once. Though his mouth curves into a small smile and his eyes turn sidelong to watch him for a moment, he keeps quiet to give that necessary time to explain.

“I’ll try to remember that,” Ru’ien murmurs in a low and even tone, thoughtful in reflection towards what level of reciprocation is involved and the importance that is constant throughout all. It makes sense, so far, to him! Something he tries to impart with another glance F'yr's way. His grip on their joined hands adjusts, tightening — silently giving that understanding reassurance through touch. Even with all that hedging and start and stop, Ru’ien can’t help but let another smile slip through. It’s alright, Fear. “We'll start there, then." he agrees quietly, lending further support by a gentle look his way, hoping to meet his gaze. "I’m here and I'm listening." But there’s no rush to this and the reminder is gently extended, unspoken between them.

OKAY, LISTEN, Ru. You're great, and being super supportive, but that does not, for even one half moment, change the sudden and then exceptionally deep blush that invades F'yr's face as he stares actually starting in the face. Why? Because the first names off his lips, quietly, but firmly, are: "Risa. R'hyn." AND THOSE ARE HIS BOSSES, OKAY? Also his super close friends, but LISTEN. He's not so clueless about how things work to not understand that for some people, that would be awkward, and not just because they play at disdaining one another so heartily. "They know how I feel." That's about all he's going to say there. But that's fine because the next is, "Ila'den." Beat. "I don't know how to describe what I feel — and it isn't reciprocated, but it's real, strong, and I would show up for him, if he ever needed me, if he ever wanted me." Not that F'yr ever expects that to happen. But he would. He gives that time. Time to let it hit, let it be processed. In the meantime, he moves, unless Ru'ien needs to stop, but he wants to let some of the distance give that time to process.

L I S T EN! Ru’ien wasn’t aiming for exceptionally deep blushing going on here! But to his credit, he’ll at least drop his gaze away a beat after it happens? There’s a trail to follow, even if his focus is far from it because there are names coming forth and — they were not the least bit expected. Was he prepared for it? Yes and no. Still, the revelation of those three have an impact! Mostly surprise. His furrowed brow is thoughtful once he’s recovered from the initial jolt. Processing but beyond that? No laughter, no scoffed remark and sassy quip to tease mercilessly — that might come later, if they ever become comfortable with this knowledge between them (but now is not that time). Maybe he has NO ISSUES with bosses being super close friends (or more)! Who is he to judge? “Okay.” he breathes, a touch shakily and then lapses abruptly into silence. Nope, he’s not there yet.

After a lengthy stretch of time that sees them moving without stopping, there’s a shift to his features to warn that he’s come to some conclusion. He might’ve had a moment of a hesitating half-step during that stretch of movement but that was about it. “Okay.” Two times now, followed by a pull on his lower lip and some further rumination bringing another quiet span of time. “I’d no idea you’d become so close to them.” he murmurs, a touch hesitant as he struggles to find the words — beyond ‘okay’, even if that IS the culmination so far of how he feels about it. “I mean… I get it?” Kind of. He’s still processing! He may not know them as well either, or as F’yr knows them, but doesn't diminish that importance or the dynamics between the bronzerider and those three. There’s a quick sidelong look, blushing or no. Was there more to add? Is this enough of a response for now?

In point of fact, the part that might make this the most hard to talk about is that F'yr is so good at not showing his life. That might explain, in part, the natural inclination to isolate his home even from those he cares about. It's not that he hides things, never that, just that his affection is what it is and it doesn't manifest in ways that make it obvious that's how he feels - he's a subtle man, but one capable, clearly, of deep feeling. It's like… to look at F'yr is to see the pond and when the water is calm, you can see the depths, here or there, but getting the whole picture of everything held within him is the study of a lifetime. It's not hidden, it's simply what it is - there for those who wish to take the time to look.

Understandably, much of those relationships were built away from where eyes could regularly see just by dint of nearly daily contact in the office even before F'yr impressed. "Risa," he starts, hesitates, glances to Ru'ien, perhaps taking a moment to assess whether that processing (that understandable processing) is helped or hurt by more details. "She was my first friend here, Ruin." And, "R'hyn caught me when I fell," he doesn't mean physically, "when I couldn't see myself. He saw me. He kept me from breaking, irrevocably." He also gave F'yr a dictionary, thanks R'hyn~ (A former farmer saying irrevocably in common conversation; Xanadu really does get the weirdos.)

There's a hard swallow before he adds, "Ila…" He has to start that again because his breath is abruptly ragged, though he's not stopping because the movement needs to carry him. "He-" swallow, and tears slipping free of eyes (did anyone guess that anyone but R'hyn or the associated clan might have so emotional a response to Ila that is not, you know, fear?), "He gave me a lifeline, Ruin." That's a little broken and he looks toward the greenrider. "When Daro died. Everything fell apart. The weight I'd been carrying crushed me. He anchored me. He didn't let me go through that alone. We're not— I don't know what we are," because labels are dumb, "but without any one of them, I might not even be here." Maybe he would have given up and gone back to the farm. He's managing to pull himself back together, he is, but he's clinging tighter to Ru'ien's hand, and the look returning again and again to the greenrider is one that's just checking as they move (perhaps at inadvertently increased speed) that F'yr hasn't said too much, hasn't frightened Ru'ien away already.

It could be said that that is what Ru’ien is desiring here; a glimpse of the depths of those waters. Not the whole pond, but just a little more. He keeps parts of himself guarded (mostly concerning his family), and it’s not quite the same as F’yr, but similar enough that he can grasp enough of that nature of his. Which could explain too, why he never went looking into those waters before — he doesn’t want people prying too far into his life, why would he do the same for F’yr? Only things have changed considerably between them now. Now it’s necessary, no matter how nervous and vulnerable it makes him feel, to be asking so much. To be entrusted with it!

Ru’ien is processing in a good way — it’s a good sign if he’s taking a moment to think. The added details don’t seem to throw him too hard for a loop. He makes a quiet sound concerning Risa, both understanding and accepting. R’hyn brings a quick surprised sidelong glance, his expression a mix of emotions but nothing alarming; he’s just taking in a lot of information he never knew before — this now included into that broadening glimpse of the depth of the man he loves.

Then it’s on to the last. Ru’ien is silent, but his expression gives him away because of the emotions threaded through this part. His mouth draws into a faintly grim line for the obvious struggle in the bronzerider to those (private) moments. He remembers the day that he learned of Fear's grief but there is no note of jealousy that Ila'den was the anchor. He will meet F’yr’s gaze on occasion, but for the large part, he’s looking either ahead, down or around; not to evade, but because he’s taking it all in. There is a flicker of surprise when F’yr admits the last, of not being here if fate hadn’t intervened as it did. "I'm glad you're still here." he murmurs, then lapses back to silence.

He will cling tightly back with his hand and lengthen his stride to match the pace if it shifts. Any checks on him will yield nothing but that furrowed brow and distant look. Ru'ien shows no signs of flight, if that is needed for reassurance! Just introspective. Absorbing. Making his own weaved picture of those details, letting the silence between them drift. It takes longer, this time, even if Ru’ien doesn’t mean to drag it out. “I get it, Fear.” are the words that break the silence at last, in a voice that is low and soft. He gives a little tug on their joined hands; he's going to aim for a half embrace on the go! Just for a few paces, until they can no longer hold it or risk their balance. “Or I’m starting to.” It will be longer, truly, to really start grasping it all, but he’s making some progress! Even if he doesn’t have it all yet, he’s still there and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere but where F’yr is leading them. “They’re all important to you,” he ventures a little further, glancing at him as he does. “And I'm glad you found them — or they found you? — when you needed it." What more can he say on the matter? He will, of course, if that's what F'yr wants from him, but Ru'ien never aimed to weigh in on the bonds themselves.

Fortunately, F'yr is good with any reaction that doesn't involve running away. Taking time to process? That's good. F'yr isn't even going to rush it. He allows the first verbal response to go without answer. The bronzerider is also glad that he's still here. It could have all gone very differently, but it didn't, and those three are primarily the reasons. Other important people have come into his life since— like Ruin, but before those, there were his three touchstones.

He will do one better than a half-embrace and pause enough for a real one, letting his (current) partner speak before they really press on at all, but he doesturn after a nod that accepts on a real level Ru'ien's response to them. Don't mind F'yr if he's getting a little misty eyed~ That's just the stress of the moment finding exit from his body, along with a slight shudder. "So am I." He says that. He means that. He pauses long enough to look at Ru'ien and catch his eyes to add with sincerity, "I'm glad we found each other when we did." Remember, here, Ru, that this is of importance to him, too. There's a brief pause where he adds, "Things with Risa sometimes go beyond just emotional things." But that's really too complicated for him to get into just now. So he moves on because there will be no questions entertained about that here and now. It's enough to acknowledge that that relationship is however different (even with all being unique) than the other two named in the same not-even-actually-a-category.

Then, he's looking to Ru'ien as they move along. "Do you want a break? I think next would be the people I'm physically involved with in addition to emotionally." Because, of course, none are without emotional involvement. That's just how it goes for F'yr. There's a beat before he presses forth the admission, "There are more of those." More than the previous list.

Ru’ien won’t pass up the chance to stop long enough to exchange a real full on embrace! He’ll not say a word either about F’yr’s misty eyed look, either. Why? Because the same is probably happening to him and there’s more important things to focus on~ His hand will still be gripping firm, with a little squeeze for that slight shudder. Sensing that look, he’ll lift his gaze to meet the other and note that sincerity — it’s echoed back, in some vein, at the least that he understands. “As am I, Fear, and I’ll never forget it, either.” There are a lot of good memories, there, among the earliest (and in general)! Don’t worry, he’ll remember that importance too. Has F’yr not noticed how strangely secure Ru’ien has been so far?

“Alright.” Ru’ien will merely acknowledge that addition to Risa with a single word, in a genuine soft spoken ‘good to know’ tone. Does he have questions? You bet he does! But he’ll bite his tongue on the matter and leave that for another day, another time. Complicated is something the greenrider can wholly respect (and does)! He merely tucks that tidbit away for now, along with all the other footnotes and new pieces of information to a much larger, complex image.

He tilts his head a little, gaze looking up towards the canopy of still bare-branches above their heads. Ru’ien’s reply comes out of order, but not without purpose behind it. “We don’t have to keep count?” he teases lightly in reflection to there being more in this list, with a broad curving smile meant to be equally playful and reassuring for a few beats. No doubt trying to ease some of the nerves, before he sobers. “It’s okay, Fear. You don’t have to give reasons for all of them, if that helps? Unless you feel it's needed.” he quietly offers, then gives a light shrug to his shoulders. “I’m fine.” No break necessary. His gaze will turn to peer sidelong however to the bronzerider. “I’ll tell you though, if I need it.” A time out. “Are you okay?” Does he need a break? Because Ru’ien is not at all against a moment (or five) if F’yr needs it!

"Count doesn't matter." F'yr agrees because to him, it doesn't. He is not, however, ignorant that it does to some. That's easy. What's harder is the slight squint at nothing and then a glance over at Ru'ien before he asks, "Do you not want explanations?" Is it he doing this wrong? He might be. "I can't point to particular incidents you'd recognize quite so much with the rest." This admission does not mean to imply they're somehow less important than those already named, simply that it was a different kind of evolution to get to where they've arrived. "I don't want to give you more than you want." He adds with trepidation a moment later.

A beat. "Too much is as harmful as not enough. I'm not sure what your balance is." And sorrynotsorry, Ru'ien, but that is about you, not F'yr and he's not going to pretend otherwise. He never does quite get to the brief playfulness that the greenrider manages to try to lighten the moment even if his lips tighten into something not quite a smile. He's not unappreciative, he's just… sort of still bearing the weight of all of this in a way that doesn't let him set it aside in this in the midst moment.

"I'm not not okay, but I'm not sure I could say that I'm okay, either. This is just… it's new. That doesn't mean bad, but it does mean I'm not really sure what I'm doing, if it's okay, if it's not, if I should shut up now, or go on." He looks to the greenrider, truth of his fear in his face. "I don't want to lose you." He's said it before. Ruin's reassured him, but things are real now, aren't they? "I can go on," once he understands what Ru does and doesn't want of these next notations - with descriptions or without.

Ru’ien’s first reaction is puzzlement, clear and not yet muddied by the next emotions to follow. His mouth draws down into a fleeting grimace, nervousness making his posture tense and his hand squeeze F’yr’s almost by reflex now. That should be answer enough for the bronzerider, that he’s realized his blunder. Even if it takes a moment or two after his brows furrow to mull over it. “I don’t know my balance,” he offers, eventually, in open honesty; vulnerable, because its truth born of a flaw (in his head, anyways). “I’ve never done this before? I can’t promise you one way or another, because I don’t know — won’t know until we cross that line.” Together. Emphasized with another squeeze of their hands. He’s slowed now too, coming to a stop and placing himself in front of Fear. “And you won’t.” Lose him. “I’m here.” Their joined hands are now held up (unless resisted) for emphasis again. Ru’ien steps a little closer regardless, to try and rest their foreheads together. “Trust me,” Please? “It’s been okay,” F’yr’s approach in this and their resulting talk. “My explanation was shit.” Again. “My balance is a variable. If that’s a thing? You go with what you feel is right. If it’s too much, I’ll say so. If it’s too little, I might push just a little bit.” He leans back, so that he can look searchingly into Fear’s eyes. Does it make sense? has he fucked up?

Ru'ien's words are enough to draw F'yr to a stop and turn into the other man again, conveniently as Ru'ien positions himself in front of the bronzerider, one hand coming up to cup the greenrider's jaw. He doesn't speak until Ruin's finished, though. "Hey," it's soft, "It's okay." It's his turn to be reassuring this way. "I've never done this either." Not like this, anyway. He didn't even get this far the last time he tried anything remotely similar. "I trust you." Listen, he didn't, okay? But they straightened that out and clearly he trusts Ru'ien or they wouldn't be having this conversation and maybe he'll have less trust when it's Ru'ien's turn to explain other Important Relationships, but trusting him with F'yr's Stuff has never been the problem (before - there's still time~~ ahahahahaha).

He can't help but make the F'yr face. The one that is his processing face, because this is a lot for a man who likes to take information like a dog with a bone - drag it off, bury it, worry it later when no one's paying attention or when he needs to keep himself from chewing shoes. But after a moment there's a little nod, a move into the space that Ru'ien just vacated to kiss him in a way that should be reassuring — there's no reservations there, but no words immediately, just a moment to make sure Ru takes the silent message that they're okay, before he's tugging a hand to get them moving again in the cold.

Only once they're moving does he draw another deep breath and start. "Rhody." That might be the easiest. "We've had— fallings out." Beat. It's complicated, though, and he doesn't try to really explain, but he does add, "We're okay now. She's asked not do thave public displays of affection in front of her that go beyond whatever is normal to do in public for—" He squints a little at nothing because he's extrapolating what weren't actually explained terms, "For friends who don't kiss, I guess?" Maybe that's a conversation he needs to have with Rhody. OH, AND IT'S NOT AWKWARD AT ALL THAT F'YR WORKS WITH RHODY, IS IT?? AND RISA?? AND R'HYN?? LISTEN, it's fine. Somehow, it works? Maybe it's because Office PDA is a WHOLE OTHER ANIMAL and shared around~

Ru’ien steadies under that touch to his jaw, but it’s the words from F’yr that calm the worst of his building (fraying) nerves. He licks at his lips and nods ever-so slightly to show that it’s registered. Some small part of him likely reminds him that their trust is just recently rebuilt — and maybe some part of him does worry for when it comes to his turn, perhaps largely irrational. At the expression F’yr takes on, the greenrider can relate in some way; at least, in the vein of having to process. Haven’t they both been doing that? Ru’ien doesn’t usually address things so straightforward either. He’d much prefer to crack a joke, smooth things over and just… not delve into it. All this is for Fear and Ruin would not extend as much courtesy to just anyone. Obvious by his confession moments before that he's never done this.

Further reassurance is received in that kiss, returned equally before it comes to its natural end. He got the message and it shows this time in a fleeting warm smile, turning to move a half-beat ahead of the tug on his hand. Ru’ien has been quiet thus far and remains such as F’yr takes that deep breath and starts again. He can’t quite keep his brows from lifting up at the first name, but he at least keeps himself from smirking (kind of, maybe that’s what that twitch was to his mouth). “Huh.” How anticlimactic is that unsurprised sound coming from him! IS IT AWKWARD THAT THEY ALL WORK TOGETHER? MAYBE TO ANYONE WHO ISN’T RUIN~ It could be the dynamic between all of them and workplace related ties hasn’t quite clicked yet. IT’S FINE~ That'll be dealt with when it hits! He’s adopting that frown again and it's his turn to process. “Sucks about the falling out,” he eventually remarks, voice that quieted, hushed way it gets when he’s juggling so much in his head. “But that’s good — that you’re both okay.” As for the terms Rhody set? Sorry, Fear! Ru’ien can only give a small, helpless shrug. HE’S NOT TOUCHING THAT~ He does give him a look following that though, to silently cue that he’s still absorbing but far from overwhelmed. If there is more, F’yr can choose the pace (and how much more is shared).

"It was my fault," F'yr says of the falling out. He might have said more, but a beat or two of thought later leads him to simply a shrug and a shake of his head. There's such a good story there, but it's also a private story, an intimate story, so he doesn't share. It's not entirely his to tell, even if it's about him. He does, in the end, blush red and look sheepish for more than a moment. Thus, it will take him a bit of distance moving before he takes another figurative step.

"V'ro and I have been—" There's trepediation here. "On and off." He concludes. "I've never stopped feeling what I feel." And this may be the most telling that F'yr offers in terms of just whom it was that F'yr confessed love to who couldn't accept things. "Please," he says quietly, simply, with a kind of injured feeling, "Be understanding with him. If you can." Be gentle. That man, like Ru to whatever degree, holds a piece of F'yr's heart and perhaps things there are not nearly so secure as what transpires here. "He's a good person," F'yr fiercely believes, even if V'ro wouldn't say so of himself.

Without waiting, this time, and maybe because F'yr needs to distract Ru'ien from overthinking V'ro too much just this moment, he goes on. This involves a little squint at nothing and a, "K'vir?" as if it's a question. "But we—" AWKWARD, because yes, F'yr understands the two VERY SIMILAR LOOKING COUSINS are COUSINS, "We're still sort of— starting." It's a lame ending, a lame explanation, but THERE IT IS. "That's it." At least there's that? SO FAR, goes unstated, but perhaps understood. And to be fair, it is MANY FEWER than what the gossip of the caverns might lead a person to believe given the number of admirers handsome F'yr has earned there.

Some stories, even if good, are best left private. Ru’ien can grasp and understand that much and while he may not glimpse much beyond the general sense that there is more? He doesn’t pry or push. He merely takes F’yr’s word that the fault was his and leaves it there, letting the silence fall between them once more and pretend not to notice the blushing.

Does Ru’ien make the connection? His thoughts may be reeling a bit too much for it to be immediate, because while part of him is scoffing internally in a ‘not surprised’ manner, another larger half is surprised. All those fragments may be slowly coalescing though, as his frown knits further and his eyes take on that searching look as memories flicker. Ahh. He’s about to say something, licking his lips and mouth parting, then abruptly closing when F’yr continues. His features soften, as he listens and gives a small nod of his head. “I’ll try.” It’s as close to a promise as he can offer, but means everything given Ru’ien’s nature. “I’ve never thought he wasn’t.” A good person. His hand squeezes tight to F’yr’s. “You know him better than I do, but now that I know?” How important he is to him. “I’ll try, Fear.” He was going to expand on that but F’yr is already moving on. It might be for the best, as Ru’ien might have fallen right into overthinking and start delving into a conversation that is important but not for right now.

So they go on, and he goes willingly — right into the biggest surprise of a name drop. If it’s a lame ending and explanation, that doesn’t even register because Ru’ien is just sort of STARING at F’yr (Ru’ien.exe has stopped functioning). It’s not a bad look, not that incredulous edge that usually brokers not good responses — and it only lasts for a beat or two, until he blinks and begins to reboot process again. Huh. There’s no immediate words, only an abrupt and very brief scoffed bark of laughter when he tries. Which he promptly cuts off by pressing a knuckle or two against his lips. It’s not mocking, the furthest from it! That was Ru’ien’s nervousness reflex; he tends to laugh when hit with too much. He’s quick to recover, holding up that index finger to signal to F’yr that he just needs a moment, but he’s okay. They’re okay! There’s a breath, then a strangled sound ebbed to a slightly frustrated (towards himself) sigh. Nope! Not ready yet.

It takes a few more steps, some more lapsed silence (and blushing on his end, it’s gone right to the tips of his ears). His grip on F’yr’s hand alternates between firm and vice-like but he doesn’t let go. When he finally gathers himself enough to talk, his voice is steady despite being that quiet hushed tone. “Hopefully it’ll continue going well for you both.” Genuinely. Is he happy about it? Probably. IT’S COMPLICATED! There are mixed feelings. Ru’ien can’t fully mask that from his gaze, even if he’s looking ahead right now. But those feelings aren’t relative to what F’yr feels for K’vir and he knows it, so he doesn’t give them a voice. And that’s it (so far)! There’s a heavy sigh from him, slightly shaky from the release of tension. Do they need a break? Ru’ien does. Who cares if it’s the third or fifth time now, he is going to suddenly twist on the next step, bringing himself into F’yr’s path — aiming of course, for an embrace. It might set them into stumbling a few steps, but it doesn’t matter. He needs a hug and he’s selfishly taking one!

The relative proximity of one name to the next was perhaps F'yr's trust in Ru'ien that he could offer things at his own pace, or because he anticipated more reaction to that last name. It could be that delivering V'ro's— on whom he doesn't want to dwell and discuss now ever? —and K'vir's whose name he knew would evoke something, even if he was entirely unsure what kind since, oh, fun fact, Ru doesn't really talk about his family~~, was meant as some kind of careful balancing act to try for an overload and reboot like what happens. Knee-jerk reactions are never good and maybe F'yr just wanted to make sure Ru'ien took breaths between hearing and speaking (which is not always, although certainly more frequently between the two of them, Ru's strongest suit); maybe this was F'yr trying to help his partner as much as himself because he sees Ru'ien, and tries to meet whatever needs he sees or imagines.

When Ru'ien brings himself into F'yr's path, the bronzerider is complicit. Maybe he was waiting/hoping/anticipating the need for physical contact when it was finished. Or maybe he just hoped Ru'ien wouldn't go running the other way. His strong arms encircle the greenrider and pull him tight, body to body to the point that F'yr's feet shuffle slightly closer - one between and one to the side of Ru's feet, tying no only their emotions together, but their balance — fortunately, they're both dragonmen with balance enough to manage riding their unique beasts so that shouldn't lead to any trouble. He's silent, not exactly waiting, but allowing. He communicates with his body the unwavering love he holds for the man in his arms, but lets Ru'ien initiate what he needs - whether that's a hug, a kiss, a chance to push one or the other up against the nearest tree? F'yr's not anticipating now, and hope is only for the bigger picture of their continued interwoven future. He'll give Ru'ien whatever he needs in this moment, and the moment can go on as long as he wants for Fear won't let even the bite of winter move him before Ruin is ready.

The pacing was good and it worked, despite the slight knee-jerk in the form of that laugh from Ru’ien. Hearing K’vir’s name did evoke feelings, mostly familiar tangled ones, that he has no issue tucking it back somewhere under lock and key for now; one day he’ll talk about his family with F’yr. It’s guaranteed to come up, but not in this moment. Later, another time perhaps, but not now. He’s leaning into F’yr, as those strong arms encircle him, drawing him equally as tight against his leaner frame. He silently absorbs that unspoken communication of unwavering love, returning the same frequency as tension leeches from his posture. For a good span of time, all Ru’ien needs is to be held.

F’yr will no doubt feel the way his heart races, the slightest of tremor as he shivers (not entirely from the cold), and the rise and fall to his chest while his head tucks in over his shoulder. Gradually, he steadies himself, shifting just enough to draw his head back and seek F’yr’s gaze; holding it for just a half span of a heart beat before leaning in again. He’d meant to keep it to one kiss — a slow burning, emotionally laced one. It becomes more instead, on that starting note of unhurried that now sees the kiss deepening. Just as one breaks, allowing a breath and a low throated, aching sound, he sinks into another. His hands grip firm to F’yr, keeping their bodies so intimately close, as another kiss, then another follows in shortened succession.

Only when they gain a fevered intensity does Ru’ien finally break off, with some reluctance, to press their foreheads together. Closed eyes, skin flushed, breath a little ragged from more than just breathlessness, he swallows thickly as he calms just enough to gain some semblance of speech. Roughened, gruff spoken, and the best coherency he can stitch together for now. “It’s a lot to take in.” And that’s okay. He’s okay, just feeling it weighing heavily in his thoughts. It’s all he can offer, in that very moment, because he can’t think of anything else that comes remotely close to express his thoughts — beyond what he has already expressed.

Look, if F'yr's heart wasn't racing for its own reasons before all that kissing so willingly participated in, all this closeness and the way that lets even small movements translate into titillating friction, it certainly is by the end. He's breathless when Ru'ien breaks it off, giving a ghost of a chase to the lips that go so foreheads can press together instead and he rolls with that, even if the way his chest moves against the greenrider's assures F'yr has every intention of more of that, later. There's the subtle feel of F'yr's nod to accept Ru'ien's words. It is a lot. The more subtle implication that Ru'ien is okay might be lost of F'yr but he also might not be expecting any kind of immediate pronouncement. It would certainly take F'yr time to process something that was this much a lot. So he'll linger another moment, two, then start to move like he's going to continue the walk. It's not so much farther to where their dragons let them off. (It might be time to start hoping anydragon sees fit to come pick them up again.)

There will be more later and much beyond that if F’yr is desiring as much of a physical interlude as Ru’ien is. Once the cue is given to start moving again, he is ready for it and will follow alongside him; close, brushing shoulders and seeking to twine his hand with Fear’s once more. It’s not much farther and there is a weighted silence between them — not a bad one, but one heavy with the understanding that Ru’ien, at least, is back to processing. At least until they reach the point where they’re to meet up with their dragons. Was the deal that both of them were to ferry them home? How long are they left to puzzle over it or wonder who gets the short straw in a summoning attempt? Kihatsuth may be the one who favors them with eventual mercy, even if she must bear Fear with Ruin (hold on tight now, dearie~). She’ll be equally as debatably pleased if Glorioth shows up as well and they go along their merry way with their respective riders back to the haven that F’yr calls ‘home’.

However it may occur, the important thing is that it does. Ru’ien will follow F’yr’s lead, should the invitation remain to join him in his weyr. He may not wait too long once they’ve crossed whichever threshold to seek out another one of those kisses. One that is as slow burning and deeply woven with so much emotion beyond the surface responses. It could see them caught up in one another for that spell, perhaps even backed up into the nearest surface or wall — but he leaves the how far and what next more in the hands of the man he loves. Complete trust in that moment, to follow whatever it may be that F’yr needs just then from him.

Arguably, Glorioth is not as fickle as Kihatsuth, it's just that he was busy, doing his mission. The recall was heeded, but he's a touch late. Not much. Not enough to bother things. He even won't object to Kihatsuth coming to his clearing, if that's what she wants to do, but he's not staying, he has to get back to that IMPORTANT THING, whatever it was. Shup, it's late.

When they get through the door, however, F'yr will come into the greenrider's arms for that embrace, to have that first kiss— but then it's his turn to break things off, to pull away. He's brought them in through the mud room at the base of the tower where all the dragon care supply items, and one exceptionally ugly runner-statue-turned-table-support that the greenrider may recognize from That One Day during candidacy where they had to look like tough muscle for the leadership. Why does F'yr have it here? Why has it become the support for the round table at the center of the room? WHO CAN SAY~~ Well, presumably F'yr, but he doesn't now. What he does do is smile warmly at the greenrider. "I'm going to undress you," …. "but only once we get the fires built up." In theory, F'yr should not have fires going when he's gone, but apparently little Triumph can be trusted to mind the hearths and sound an alarm, if nothing else.

So it's not as cold as it could be, but though boots come of in the mud room, and packs, everything else can stay while they tramp into the living room area of the non-tower section of the homestead and F'yr sets quick work to building up the fireplace there, then the stove, and then he vanishes to deal with the one in his bedroom. They'll want that, given winter. Ru'ien is trusted to entertain himself, or eat, since F'yr pulls out some cheese and cured sausage and bread and crackers with a bit of dried fruit and nuts, and booze with a ready invitation for the greenrider to help himself while he's doing the various necessaries of making the homestead homey.

When he gets back, he'll be happy to join Ru'ien wherever he's settled himself, already free of his own outer layers that guarded against the cold and dressed in something significantly more comfortable, and will drop his arms around the greenrider's shoulders from behind to press a kiss and then a nibble to the man's neck before slipping away to settle beside him.

He does recognize that ugly runner-statue-turned-table-support from That Time during Candidacy. The why and how aren’t asked, but he unsurprisingly has a good low chuckle over the discovery of its existence. His passing look to F’yr probably has ‘you kept it?’ and all the ‘why’s?’ neatly written there, but he doesn’t pry or outwardly ask for the reason — there’s better things afoot, like: “Holding you to that promise~” he muses, with a teasing smirk that morphs into a mirror of that warm smile.

Ru’ien does not protest the need to stoke actual fires and will go about the routine of taking off his boots and following F’yr further inside to the living room area. He’ll shed his jacket at some point, finding a respectable place to hang or drape it and will spend a moment or two entertaining himself by quietly examining their surroundings again — at least until there’s an offer of food. Such a bounty (and that isn’t sarcasm)! Ru’ien will make some bright but subtle ‘thank you’ laden comment, before helping himself to a few bites of this and that. This atmosphere, even with F’yr busy with the necessary tasks, feels good. Safe. He can feel himself relaxing even before he’s finished with his own “plans” in mind.

Plans that find Ru’ien tucked up somewhere they can settle in together, some of the food brought over for F’yr’s portion but more importantly (maybe) the glasses each of the offered booze. It’s there he waits, looking oh-so casual and relaxed in his lounging. He makes a low, pleased sound when F’yr’s arms drop around his shoulders — the sound deepens to something of a chuckle and sigh to that pressed kiss and nibbling. Once he has settled, Ru’ien shifts to lean and curve his frame towards and into him and all while skillfully handing him his glass. “Here.” he murmurs, with a small, curved smile. “We’ll get warm in no time with some of this and some cuddling.” And the fires, of course! Jokes aside, his gaze will be searching even as he lifts his glass to his lips. Silence extends for a half dozen more beats after that first sip, while he licks at his lower lip as he finds his words and settles thoughts. “Do you want to talk some more?”

Listen, if F'yr got himself beside the greenrider by putting one hand to the back of the couch that is certainly the most comfortable spot for two on the ground level and vaulting himself over and onto the cushions… well, that's just how F'yr rolls. The point is, he's there now, right? And it was faster than coming around. While the bronzerider accepts the glass, he doesn't immediately drink. In fact, he shifts to set it down nearby reaching for Ru'ien's free hand with the hand not attached to the arm settling around the man's shoulders to snug him in that much closer for some of that cuddle heat.

His thumb drifts down over the back of the greenrider's hand in a feathery caress before coming back for a second trip with more pressure. There's a considering sound that rumbles in his chest after the moments of quiet that follow Ruin's question to Fear. "There's more to talk about." He acknowledges slowly. "Mostly the us stuff, unless there's more?" He checks this with the greenrider, leaving room for an answer before he adds, "What are you feeling like?" Evidently the bronzerider is fence-sitting and he's leaving it up to his companion to decide how things should tilt. It doesn't seem immediately likely that F'yr is looking to undress Ru'ien right now, so it probably means talking either way, but the topic choices are wide and varied depending on which side of the fence they land on.

Ru’ien gives the maneuver a 10/10 for efficiency and technique! That’s what his low laughter is for, honest (and it’d be something he’d consider doing too, because it is faster)! Who is he to complain, when it just ends with them having their cuddle moment on that couch all the more quickly. Leaning in comfortably as he settles, Ru’ien will briefly watch as F’yr’s thumb caresses over the back of his hand, content to let the silence extend between them for now. He makes a quiet sound of agreement on more to talk about, a small shake of his head following the first question following. His answer will be to the last one posed, after a few beats of rare consideration on choice.

“We do have a lot to talk about still, the us stuff, but part of me thinks we did enough ground work today. I don’t want to keep pushing at it now, in case we start getting too tangled in something — if that makes sense?” He’ll tilt his head up slightly, just enough to gaze upwards from where his head rests against F’yr’s shoulder and chest. “It’s not any less important.” It’s just a lot they’ve covered so far. There’s a slow smile that follows, warm and reassuring. “We’ll go with the flow. How about that?” Which means they may not get to the deeper discussions that night but there will be plenty of other nights for them to slowly unravel all there is between them; for now, unsurprisingly, Ru’ien may be wanting to go towards something different. “… have I told you about the new ‘hobby’ I discovered?” Hobby, he says! Who calls pole dancing a hobby (okay, it legit can be but still)?

Who knows what twists and turns the conversation takes from there (as conversations often do)! Ru’ien will be an eager participant, depending on the subject or an avid listener, when not overly distracted. Regardless, the greenrider aims to make the experience something to unwind with. Laughter is a bonus, but not the immediate key. How long do they sit there, curled and cuddled together, talking away the minutes? The hours? It doesn’t matter but at some point Ru’ien will not-so-subtly call F’yr upon his promise of undressing him (unless the mood has shifted, he’s not that selfish) — from there, perhaps the night unfolds on another unsurprising note. One where Ru’ien translates much of what he has voiced before and more, through physical touch and intimacy.

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