Finding His Place (Vignette)

Did D'lei need to skulk his scruffy self into the back hallways of administration in order to get himself assigned a place to live?

…probably not.

He could have asked Risali, and the bonds of whatever-it-is-or-was would surely have made wheels turn and things happen.

K'vir, in fact, had the foresight to offer his help, and while the bronzerider might be less highly placed than some, the word of an established wingrider would surely have carried at least some weight in this process, helped things along, gotten better outcomes than might otherwise be expected for a scruffy self skulking in back hallways.

…and, in a way, that's exactly why D'lei didn't go to either of those people. Because the wheels would have turned, yes, because those bonds would have flexed, but the problem is that right now D'lei doesn't know what those bonds are, exactly, because they were snapped like an elastic band and… nobody, least of all him, knows just how much more they can take.

So, yes, he needed to skulk his scruffy self into those back hallways, and what's more, he had to to it while there was still a very important meeting going on, so that he wouldn't be spotted and helped, because… well. He's already taken enough.

Which is what leads to D'lei being here, sitting on the creaky chair of a minor functionary under the steward (or maybe headwoman, he's not sure) because that's where he got redirected by dint of his scruffiness and the fact that everyone important was busy with that meeting.

The functionary - a man named Reauce - is, in fact, slightly peeved… both about the fact that he can't slack off while his superiors are in that meeting, and that this querent seems oblivious to his attempts to brush him off so he doesn't have to do work today.

"…and you say you have a bronze dragon?" Reauce not only lets his skepticism into his tone, he puts in extra. He's aware that not all dragoriders look respectable. (He'd have to be blind not to have noticed, what with Risali right down the hall.) But… still. It's inconvenient, that's what it is! …and besides, this wouldn't be the first time a greenrider tried to claim themselves a bronze in a bid for more luxurious digs.

"That's right," D'lei replies. It's not the first time Reauce has asked him that, nor even the second, but he's not even annoyed, because… this process, this dealing with an obnoxious but ultimately useful man, who holds a sort of power over him and yet has far less power than he believes… It's almost fascinating to him, in an abstracted and self-reflective way. He remembers… no, not quite… but almost. There's something tugging at his memories, and so as Reauce delays and stalls and harrumphs at him, D'lei responds - just barely - with most of his attention occupied inward, chasing those threads of memory in a way that's also familiar, also evocative of moments past and people he used to be.

There's that harrumph again, as if by clearing his throat Reauce hopes to also clear D'lei from his sight. (It doesn't work.) So, he tries again. "And you've no wing assignment." This time, the tone is tinged with mild scorn, the disdain of a busy man for the slacker sitting before him.

D'lei half-smiles. "I expect I'll be in Meteor for now, yes." Which isn't quite the same, but isn't so different, either.

Reauce harrumphs again, more loudly. "That's for the Weyrleader to decide," he informs the putative-bronzerider, and is all the more annoyed to see how it makes that fragment of a smile widen.

He wants - oh, how Reauce wants - to merely send this burden on Weyr finances (and possible liar) packing… but in the implausible case that he is legitimate in his requests, denying him could lead to all sorts of trouble. Really, even if he isn't legitimate… if this querent causes enough of a fuss to make his superiors pay closer attention to his doings, Reauce could lose entire hours worth of lunch-break. And so - much as it galls him - he wants to not only send D'lei (or whatever his real name is) away, but send him away happy.

Reauce glances again at the list of properties he made such a deal of getting from the shelf. There's the ones that are obviously unsuitable, the ones nicer than this ruffian deserves… the ones that are both… and…. oh. Ohh. Why not make two of his problems go away? For the first time, he starts to smile.

"Well," Reauce's tone shifts to something almost unctuous, ready to seal the deal and forestall any complaints. "I might have something that could serve, but it's just a bit of a fixer-upper…"

D'lei lifts his brows - part interest, part… an echo of memory, another piece of familiarity (unintentional, he's sure) that tangles with the fragments already there. "How much is a bit?" he asks, and - a moment later, as another piece of his past-actions, past-knowledges clicks into place - he gets specific. "Do you have the assessment report?"

Reauce swallows his sales-words as D'lei's specificity turns them slightly sour. He could have spun it, he's sure, but now that there's going to be details attached… well, maybe he still can, but he's going to have to provide those facts lest the complaint-investigation process come home to roost.

"Hrmph," he says as he rises from his desk, crosses the room to a filing cabinet and sorts through it to obtain the requested sheet. Reauce scans the wreckage again - unfortunate, really, the way things compounded, and certainly not due to any actionable lack of oversight and maintenance - before bringing that sheet over.

D'lei takes it, reads the words… at least twice, some of them three times as he sees what thoughts they joggle loose and makes sure to understand. Besides, it's good to make Reauce squirm a little, become impatient with him… or else think he's slow and easily tricked. Either one is useful.

Finally, D'lei lifts his gaze, arches those brows again as he infuses dryness and a certain skepticism into his words. "This is rather more than a bit."

Which is, of course, why Reauce would have preferred not to actually show the document, but here he is. Here they both are, and he's not giving up yet. "Well, I suppose, at the moment, yes. Some of the repairs are planned by the Weyr, of course -" which is not technically a lie, just because those plans are getting dusty and unlikely to ever be prioritized "- but more hands make light work, mmmh? And dragons, well, those can make some things even lighter."

D'lei mmmhs, and makes a show of studying the document again. Reauce is lowballing the work, of course - and he'll try to make vague promises and then wriggle out of them - but… memories flitter of a cave-weyr in Monaco's jungles, of woodwork and wiring and pipes D'lei figured out once before. He was less experienced then… and, admittedly, also less muddled of brain, but… he did it before, and he could, plausibly, do it - or at least, much of it - again. And… K'vir did volunteer to help, didn't he? Maybe this isn't the way he intended that offer, but… he probably still would, and likely even enjoy it.

This would be hard work… but there's a pleasure to be had in building (or re-building) a den, and it could provide a certain sense of meaning and accomplishment without having to be together-enough to try and rejoin a wing or take a more structured role. If he tries this, and fails… well. It's springtime, and there's summer after that, and even autumn before there's any real concern about camping half-exposed to the wilds.

So, D'lei lifts his gaze to Reauce again, and there's a faint smile with a sharp edge to it. "Let's draw up the documents, shall we? With a full specification of the work to be done by the Weyr, and a copy of it in a letter to the Master Builder here." Which is, of course, exactly what the bureaucrat would prefer to not be bound by, but can - likewise - not deny when it's asked for. Nor will he be able to effectively argue any of the repairs - the roof, the walls and floors, all materials as specified or approved by the builders - that D'lei includes in his requirements, "Just so we're all clear on what's agreed."

In the end, Reauce is left not entirely sure he's won, though at least he (thinks he) wriggled out of the technician for electrical repairs. (A more insightful man might wonder if - given the fire risk of faulty electrics in forests - that was actually a good thing, but while Reauce may be many things, that's apparently not one of them.) Still, he's managed to get rid of a disaster of a weyr and an inconvenient putative bronzerider, and Reauce refuses to let the fact that D'lei volunteered to accompany the messenger to Xanadu's Master Builder (and thus prevent the signed and sealed letter from going astray) from ruining his well-earned relaxation.

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