How A Cheater Starts A Snow Fight

Xanadu Weyr - Feeding Grounds
Sparse trees are scattered through this field on the western edge of the forest, not far north of the clearing. The pen extends partly up the hills to the southwest, and the trees grow sparser the further west one goes. Within the large corral are a variety of beasts - ovines, bovines, and wherries - free to roam and graze. The appearance of a dragon may send them one way or the other to try and escape. A small pond is set near one corner of the enclosure, and at times it reflects the low, bordering mountains.
Just at the forest's edge, set under the tree line, is a guest weyr for use in mating flights, a simple cottage made of weathered planking and grey stones.

WOE, blindness. Leirith just wanted to look at the herdbeasts, honest, and when Risali made the point that Leirith can't see anything, Leirith just wanted to be near them. Honest. So here they are, sitting near the pen that holds various beasts, Risali bundled up (and looking miserable) in a patch of snow that's starting to melt through the blanket she's laid out, giving up on the tedious task of trying to make a harness for Leirith (her fingers were starting to look a lot like more like pincushions than hands) in favor of a moment to study. Or try to anyway. It's a little difficult to accomplish when you have running commentary going on in your head, but Risali's doing her best. « Just a little pounce. » "No." « You say no, but I'm still hearing 'Leirith, yes!' » "Leirith, no." « Well lucky for me, today is opposite day! And that 'no' definitely meant 'yes'. » You get the point.

You know what would let Leirith be extra near one of those herdbeasts? Having it in her belly, that's what! The herdbeasts certainly seem to think so… and also they are not in favor of this idea. They're clustering near the other side of the pen, because while the little gold may not be able to see them, they can see her. And she looks like a predator! She also smells like one. Probably because SHE IS ONE. Even if she's not being allowed to predate yet, because she is too young for that (and also for dating, because the mating flights lecture DOES come after the hunting lessons. LOGICALLY ENOUGH). It's to this scene of logic and sense that… D'lei arrives! Because he was going this way anyhow? Maybe. Or maybe he was somewhere in the right vague quadrant of the Weyr, and he heard Leirith. She is… not exactly subtle. In contrast to her, he's a study in stealth! Which is to say, his boots only crunch moderately loudly on the snow as he zeroes in on Risali and heads that way.

YEAH, WAY TO RUB IT IN, D'LEI. Geez. She just wants to be friends with all of those cowering herdbeats. What's a little pounce-and-death among friends, RIGHT? Violence equates to love, the old-as-time motivation of, 'I hurt you 'cause I love you, baby,' that is simply IRREFUTABLE LOGIC. Speaking of pounce and death among friends, the moderate crunching of boots would probably be a little more of a tell if Risali wasn't so caught up in trying to read and filter out Leirith's persistence while she was doing it. And if Risali wasn't speaking aloud to do just that, she would probably hear him. She doesn't, because she's too busy hearing herself say, "Weyrleaders: Th'ero, L'ton, S'dny, T'revs - Leirith." « But who would have to know? I could just - »

"…if she's a Weyrleader," D'lei says in DELIBERATE MISUNDERSTANDING, "then I think there's something I don't know about you. Well, both of you, really." He plops himself and his boots down on the blanket without asking, with a lean over to bump his shoulder to Risali's.Because he and his boots are jerks, both of them, who taunt poor sightless dragons whose terrible minions won't let them do perfectly reasonable things like murder innocent herdbeasts into crunchy meal-type friends.

Faranth. D'lei's deliberate MISUNDERSTANDING aside, he's just suddenly there (if you're Risali, anyway), and the once-harper is jumping as she twists to the side and looks up at D'lei with wide, startled grey eyes and too-long, curling hair that's down for once instead of being tamed by the confines of a tie. It's probably the most vulnerable he'll ever see her, ever, as she hugs her book to her chest and watches him sit with lips parted in a silently startled 'o' and then explodes into motion when he settles with a shoulder bump. THWACK. Or hopefully thwack. THWACK if the way she's aiming the book at D'lei's bicep proves to be successful, and a litany of swears if not. Okay, so either way there is a litany of swears, but THAT IS NOT THE POINT. "You couldn't have at least given me a heads up?" the goldling hisses to the bronzerider - but her anger is as quick to leave as it is to come, exhaled on a throaty noise of irritation before she leans sideways into the older man and rests her head on his shoulder. Her book-turned-weapon is opened up then, across both of their laps, as she points to one sentence and tap, tap, taps her finger on it. "Shut up, D'lei," she mumbles then, a belated response to his DELIBERATE LACK OF COMPREHENSION. "How did you do all of this? Didn't you get overwhelmed? Does it get any better?" Who's channeling Leirith now? "Where is Garouth?" Leirith? She is wuffling at those taunting boots, seeing them through her lifemate's eyes and lowering her head down to - yep. That just happened. Dragonette nibbles on the toes of boots, complete with copious amounts of slobber. At least she's being gentle about it? "Leirith his boots are not food." « Are you suuuuuuuuuuuuuure? Because if they're not, minion, maybe you could let me in the pen! And then I would find some real food. But until then, these will do. » Sigh. Dignity. They have none.

Oops. Not that D'lei didn't mean to descend in a storm of dirty boots and bronzeriding self, but… he meant it, y'know, nicely. Which is why his momentary apologetic look is immediately resolved by Risali's anger, that thwack landing solidly on his arm as he makes not the slightest attempt to dodge it. It makes a nice satisfying sound, really. A solid thump to go with that variety of swears. "Course not," he replies, and then his arm shifts back around her, resting there lightly as she leans in. Against the future bruise, aww yeah. This is exactly how things work, and he grins as he's told, yet again, to shut that mouth hole of his and stop the nonsense from coming out. He turns his head down, looking at that book, and… laughs. "Course I did." So reassuring. "Fell asleep in history class… at least twice. Mostly because Garouth woke me up the night before at like… three AM… because he wanted to make sure I'd be ready to go if something happened. Like… I think it was a meteor falling, one of those times? Very vivid, excellent imagination on that bronze." Tunguska event in his brain, GO! D'lei grins about it now, though at the time… ha, not so much! Not when he was running out to the exercise yard without even the boots that… Leirith is now eating. Or trying to, anyhow, and he tilts his feet to poke her in the muzzle. Poke, poke, so challenging to eat these boots are. Probably because they're attached to a D'lei. "They're really not," he adds in support of Risali. "They're treated with all kinds of waterproofing chemicals and strange dyes. K'lar told me the list once, it's amazing." By which he means terrible, but also kind of amazing in a 'wow, huh' sort of way. "Garouth's taking a nap. He's been… kind of restless lately." A small frown. "At night, especially."

Risali leans forward, to push at Leirith's maw in tandem with D'lei's booted feet, forcing the little queen away from her quest to poison herself and possibly die just to spite Risali because THERE ARE PERFECTLY GOOD BEASTS IN THE FIELD and Leirith relents - for now. It's better to lull them into a false sense of security and then attack when they least expect it. Moohahahaha. Back Risali goes, leaning into D'lei, extending her arm when Leirith decides to conquer BOOKS AND LAPS ALIKE with a wuffle and a nuzzle into the stomachs of both weyrling and bronzerider's persons. Since she can't do the POUNCING or the BOOT EATING, she opts instead for scritches. Risali listens while she works, sliding her fingers under patches to get those particularly peskily itchy spots of hide that go unnoticed most of the time, and then turns a look onto D'lei. "Of course he did - of course you did." Whatever that is supposed to mean. Risali shifts, pressing her shoulder in tighter against D'lei as if she might steal his warmth the same way Leirith always steals Garouth's, and then she heaves a sigh. "You are the least helpful bronzerider I have ever met. And that is saying something, D'lei. I know a lot of bronzeriders." Like, an UNFORTUNATE amount of them. A very unfortunate amount of them. It's the sigh and mention of Garouth that has Risali lifting her head off of shoulders and shifting so that grey eyes can catch amber and hold, brows furrowing in confusion. "Is he homesick?" she inquires, tiptoeing around her mini-queen's favorite topic of moons - but the implication is there, if D'lei can read SUBTEXT. "And what about you? Heard anything from Quinn?" A pause, and then a little smile as she tips sideways to shoulderbump him again. "Or the woman who is going to make you a Dad?" WAIT. "I mean, if you're not already, of course." He is a bronzerider! It's possible, isn't it?

They're so cruel, impeding Leirith's Faranth-given right to self-expression and gnawing on whatever she pleases, herdbeast or boot! It's a good thing she's such a PATIENT and SELFLESS dragon, or there might be trouble. Fortunately… she is! And thus all these crimes can be assuaged by a modest toll of scritches (and maybe some loss of feeling in legs, but who's keeping track of little things like that?). D'lei as least does his part in terms of providing them, because he's not COMPLETELY useless, petting back along Leirith's neck with his free arm. "What?" he asks Risali with a look, like… what? This is a perfectly reasonable thing. IT MAKES SENSE. It's the sort of thing that someone (him) with a dragon (Garouth) would definitely totally do! Because they did. WHAT. He snorts, dismissing her dismissal, and…. hugs her to his side, the better to impart that warmth he has mostly by dint of not having been outside nearly so long as she has. Or secret bronze-related powers, they work too! Though… "What? I'm helpful. I'm totally helpful." He looks at her, with some combination of indignation and amusement, then… to the dragon. "I'm helpful, right Leirith?" Throw him a line, here! He's got scritches if you collude with him, see? Lovely scritches, just for gold hatchlings who support his claims! They're the best. Or at least, good enough to be an okay bribe. (He hopes.) ANYHOW. The way his mouth tugs to the side at Risali's oblique question is… probably its own kind of answer. Sub~text~. "Yeah, he's… thinking about it a lot." In dark shadowy bronze thoughts like nights without a moon! Or, uh, lying in wait for a moon. As the case may be. And D'lei? Yeah, he's been thinking too. About Quinn, oh yeah. A tug of his mouth, and then… a laugh. "Her name's Serena. And she's the only one, thank-you-very-much." A grin, to go with his tone of offense. "Garouth hasn't caused that much trouble." Yet?

D'lei's question of what? It has Risali giving him another look, and then she's reaching up to push his face away from hers with a huff of, "You know what, you awful man." He probably doesn't. IT'S FINE. Because Leirith is there to distract. BENEVOLENT, THIS ONE. SO JUST. SO FAIR. A RIGHT PARAGON OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. SOOOOO willing to betray her lifemate for a couple extra of those really, really good scritches. « He is useful! He has Garouth, and Garouth's eyes are better than yours and that - arguably - makes him a better minion! » She's all amusement, the beating of drums in an upbeat tempo. « And you like him. So I like him! And when he's not distracting you and making you really, really bad at your job, he's - well, okay, no. He's never not distracting you from your job. You disappoint me, minion. Still! He has his uses! » Risali? She's narrowing her eyes and applying the palm of a hand over D'lei's mouth and drawling, "Shut up, D'lei," again. Probably both because she doesn't want feedback on Leirith's commentary and because he is TOTALLY NOT HELPFUL. Though there's a hint of a smile at the corners of her lips, as she presses closer because OKAY, he is GOOD FOR BEING A HUMAN HEATER. Just that, though. "Name one thing you are good for, bronzerider. Just one." She's teasing, sinking back into his side when Garouth, and Quinn, and Serena are back at the forefront of conversation topics. And she listens. "I'm sorry," she says softly, because she doesn't know what else to say. And suddenly? SCRITCHES ARE REALLY INTERESTING. SO DISTRACTING. Not so distracting that she can't shoot him another look around a quiet smile for his laugh and mock offense, but distracting enough. "That you know of," Risali shoots back, and then, softer, "What are you thinking, D'lei? About all of this?"

SO AWFUL, he doesn't even know what! D'lei is just TERRIBLE like that, he really is, actually bewildered instead of making the clearly obvious leap. At least he has some uses. Like scritching dragons! And providing warmth. So he's not entirely without a purpose here. Even if that good (small as it is) may be kind of counterbalanced by the way he causes distraction. The point is, HE HAS MERITS. Some of them. Somewhere. And Leirith likes him! …because Risali does. And because of Garouth. But transitive liking still counts, really it does. Or at least, he'll keep telling himself that. He has to have something to console himself in the cold dark night when Risali has stolen away all his body heat! And his fingers have fallen off because he had to keep on scritching Leirith to demonstrate his merit, but he at least keeps that up for now, because she is arguing his case for him and he appreciates her loyalty to the D'lei side. Which is to say, her willingness to support the cause of friendship in whatever form it takes. And it's a GOOD THING, TOO, because Risali is making him shut up. With her hand, even! He is shooshed. And the grin is only just barely visible around it, but never mind that. At least he's good for warmth. And… anything else? "Hmmmm…" he considers once he is once more PERMITTED TO SPEAK. "…taking the blame? I'm pretty good at that one." SUCH SKILLS. Also body heating, and… serious conversations. About things like taking responsibility, which is kind of like blame but not really. But kinda? "Eh," he says to her sorry-ness, and… gives her a squeeze with the arm that's not scritching Leirith. "It's probably Kith's fault. She's… in a mood." Which is a word that's dangerously close to 'moon', but surely can't be related AT ALL because moons are good and D'lei's tone of voice implies that this one is bad or at least makes him unhappy. Unlike scritches, which make … Leirith happy at least, so that's good, and are also fascinatingly distracting for humans which… is also good, in its way. D'lei knows that! And of one future progeny? Are there more? He grins. "That I know of," he repeats, but he does not actually sound terribly concerned about the possibility. Probably because his brain is overloaded with Potential Dooms and he can only keep track of so many at once for Actual Worrying. "Mmh." That's his considered answer to his thoughts, or at least, the only one he gives immediately. His focus is on Leirith, watching her as he pets, and… when he speaks again, his voice is quieter. "There's a lot of it. Like… I can pretend it's simple, sometimes. Being here." A gesture to Leirith, who he's still looking at instead of Risa. "But it's not, really. None of it is. And I can ignore it for a while, but… sooner or later, I'm going to have to deal with it. All of it."

Leirith does like him! She counted him among her best friends yesterday even, so that's something, right? And once she can convince her Mom dragon and her Grandma dragon to let her turn the weyrling barracks into an enormous bonfire, he can even come TO HER PARTY! VIP. It doesn't get any more FRIENDLY THAN THAT. Or like-y. Or… whatever. So what else is D'lei good at? Taking the blame; assuredly a must when you are surrounded by women like the poor bronzerider is, but still decidedly lacking in humor. So lacking, in fact, that Risali's hands still mid-scritch and grey eyes shift to the older rider, serious for once, but no less angry. It's a good thing his attention is on his hands, or he'd be able to read the myriad of emotion in her face, none of it good, all of which she buries under an thin veneer of sarcastic indifference that still somehow falls flat. "That's a horrible thing to be good at, D'lei. Pick something better." But she's back to work, eyes back on her hands, quiet when D'lei gives her a squeeze and she rests her head back on his shoulder. Risali is focusing on her breathing as much as she is focusing on Leirith's demands, listening throughout the mutual task of dragon-demanded scritches, silent when his initial response to her personal question dictates such. And then she's moving, catching one of his hands in her own, interdigitating fingers so that he can't pull away as she pushes at Leirith's maw and shifts onto her knees. Grey eyes seek out amber and hold for a moment, preceding the harshly issued, "Shut up, D'lei," before she leans in and pulls him in for an honest-to-Faranth hug. It's slightly awkward, half because she's trying really hard not to be in his lap (so she's BENT AT PRECARIOUS ANGLES), and half because… well. It's Risali. She's just… awkward with all that fierce, in-your-face, take no prisoners fire. The hand holding his releases as she moves in, until arms around his shoulders and she shuffles on her knees until hers are touching his, chin resting on his shoulder, face buried in his STUPID HAIR (it's Risa: EVERYTHING IS STUPID). "I'm here," is all that she tells him, instead of giving him a speech of pretty words, because what is more assuring to anybody than letting them know that they are not alone? Risali holds a little tighter, fingers curling into the fabric on the back of his jacket or shirt or whatever he's wearing, and then finally she draws back. That is why she was telling him to shut up. BECAUSE EMOTIONS. THOSE THINGS SHE'S NOT PARTICULARLY GOOD WITH. "We don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, D'lei. I'll help you pretend for as long as you need."

Nope. Not looking at Risali. Leirith, she's much better to be looking at! Though… D'lei still sees how Risali's hands pause, because there is really no escape from this CURSE OF KNOWLEDGE. Also, he can hear the tone of her voice. Or the lack of it, and… "Heh." He laughs at her! Well, okay, it's not really a laugh. Or humorous. "Guess it can't be picking things to be good at." Because he FAILED at that. And that self-deprecating humor is a way to lift up, when it's not dragging down. Take nothing serious! That way you can't be disappointed. You're already poised to laugh it off when someone else starts pointing at you. Maybe he could come up with something better, given time. Something like HAVING FEELS? Even if it does take him time to actually communicate them, but hey. He gets there. He may have the oldest dragon in this weyrling class, but they'll graduate eventually! And everyone will be rid of them. EXCEPT. Risali's there, catching his hand, catching his attention along with it so he actually looks to her. He's… not smiling, for once; his eyes seem like they're focusing in from a far distance in order to actually meet with hers, and his mouth was too focused on making words to actually have the time to deal with things like expression. He's just looking at her, shutting up… or, well, not saying anything, at least; too surprised, too… caught… to put together words as amber eyes look to grey. Then she's hugging him, with an attack of arms and knee-shuffles and her FACE and… he lets out a breath like a whoompf and hugs her back because now she can't see his face and he can hug her with a squeeze against him as he leans in to meet her, applying the warmth of his body with a crush of his arms as she does the same and catches at his jacket. Now he is caught, and… he doesn't say anything for the duration of that hug, even as breath goes in and goes out and could have had words on it but doesn't. Not until she draws back and… he lets her, uncurling his arms from her and… finding her eyes again. There they are! Amber to grey and… "I wish I had something good to tell you."

Grey eyes hold amber and the hands on D'lei's shoulders lift to catch his face between them, thumbs pressing from cheekbones to jaw where Risali's gaze eventually shifts to track their progress. "You will," she tells him, and the smile that Risali gives D'lei then is muted, quiet, somehow sad even as it communicates a hope for better things. She might not know D'lei as well as she could - and probably will - given more time, but she doesn't need years of friendship to single out a kindred spirit - or somebody who is, simply put, deserving. She communicates this with another hug, pulling her body in tight against his, hands fisting in fabric again as she soaks up his heat and gives him back some of her fire. This time when she pulls away, she's rubbing the cold from her and shifting to settle beside him again, silent as Leirith makes a soft sound and quick-fires a thousand questions at Risali - all of which she will get around to answering later, when she's had a moment to think and time enough to remind herself that D'lei's life is not her business and he is allowed to do what he wants, with who he wants, whenever he wants. That's why she's clearing her throat, and lifting her chin a fraction of an inch in sudden defiance, and that book so readily forgotten under the bunting heads of little queen dragons is retrieved and used to point right at D'lei. "Snowball fight?" she asks him, because THIS IS A DISTRACTION, RIGHT? One brow lifts, a smug smile takes dominance over her features, and she leans in a little closer to whisper, "Unless you're afraid to get beaten by a girl - again."

It's like he's hoping to see something, through those grey eyes. Like there's an answer behind the clouds… but of course there isn't. That's not what D'lei finds there. He finds Risali, and that's enough to slowly draw a smile to his own face, small enough she might miss it if not for her eyes, checking on the progress of her hands - or the shift of muscles under those fingers as they too take warmth from his face… and that smile, too, quiet as it is. His hand curls against her shoulder, resting there before sliding back to return this thing called hug as his other one joins it around her. He leans in to it, head tilted to rest it to hers as if by the mingling of hair or the careful listening of ears something more will pass between… though whether it does or not, there is surely enough already. More than enough, if judged by All Those Questions that Leirith has, the rapid bubble of them as thoughts and feelings flow between dragon and human - and human and human, through the ancient methods of observation and empathy and contact. Humans have had centuries to figure this stuff out, even if Risali and D'lei have only had decades of their individual lives and… far less than that of time actually spent together. It doesn't matter! Sometimes you just know and then you learn more and then… … …well. Then you have a snowball fight! It comes right after the part where you settle back, where thoughts stir and you just start to notice things like the fact that you SHOULD GET MOVING BECAUSE IT'S COLD (and maybe also other reasons but DISTRACTION, SO DON'T THINK ABOUT THOSE). D'lei will ANSWER the CALL of ADVENTURE, which is the CORRECT and PROPER thing to do. "Ha. Only if you cheat," he retorts, leaning back casually to make a SHOW OF UNCONCERN. Or maybe, just maybe, reach behind him for a handful of snow to scrunch up into a ball as he grins his defiance. "…again!" And ha! This time HE is the cheater, flinging the badly-formed lumpy snowball around at her head before they have properly started the challenge. Muahahaha!

Risali catches the smile, says nothing, allows silence and touch to be her voice and communicate those things that just never come out right when you try to say them aloud. And again, she soaks up his heat and gives him back hers until it's all over and snow fights are acquiesced but ONLY AFTER ACCUSATIONAL INSULTS COME FORTH. "Excuse you, sir. I will have you know that I am - " WHUMP. Getting a lumpy snowball to the side of the head that comes apart in so-much-black-hair and stands out in stark contrast against the strands. Risali's mouth is parted in surprise, hands up much too late to deflect, shoulders tucked in towards her body - and then she's laughing. After a shriek, of course, because who doesn't shriek when globs of snow are chucked at their heads. "You good for nothing, absolutely rotten - CHEATER!" INDIGNANCE, THY NAME IS RISALI. Risali who is shifting forward to gather a wad of snow into her own hands and doing to D'lei what Leirith wanted to do to those herd beasts all along - she pounces him. If he doesn't do the smart thing and roll away, then she'll WRASSLE HIM AGAIN, struggling to shove all that very unpleasantly cold snow down the back of his jacket because WHAT BETTER REVENGE IS THERE THAN THE OVER THE TOP KIND OF REVENGE? NONE! "Hold STILL!" Because everybody getting attacked in the existence of ever certainly heeded those warnings.

D'lei is excused, and also he is had to know that Risali is SMACKED BY A SNOWBALL. That's exactly what she was going to say, right? Well… no, but IT IS NOW. He has re-written reality to make that be the case, which is perhaps a form of cheating but is on a far grander scale than any mere violation of the rules and social contracts of some sport or game. The sort of power over reality one should respect and fear! Or… be indignant at and try to shove snow down the jacket of, that works too. He's laughing as he defends himself from the FIRE in her EYES with a stop, drop and roll… except he's already halfway down, which makes it even easier to EVADE and roll… into the snow. Okay, so, this is not going to have him escaping unscathed (er, unsoaked), because that's definitely going some places, but it's still less doom than she surely has planned for him. "You'll have to catch me first!" he replies, grinning now as he leaps Leirith with a single bound (okay, it's only the tip of her tail, it's not nearly so impressive as it could be) and fleeeeees for his very life! Or at least to duck around a tree and scoop up another handful of snow to see if he can get something past Risali when she actually knows it's coming. Much harder! But he's still going to try, because he has POWER OVER REALITY and he cannot be stopped! At least not until they've trampled the forest and filled it with the remnants of exploded snowballs, and quite possibly not until someone responsible finds them. But enough talk! SNOWBALLS.

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