Xanadu Weyr - Stefyr's Room
This is a fairly standard, if small room. It's only large enough to hold a twin bed, a small chest of drawers and a desk with a chair that serves both for any paperwork that might mistakenly have come Stefyr's way and a place to eat. Judging by the omnipresent cup and empty plate, it's probably used more for the latter than the former. There is, however, enough drawers that he might have writing paper and utensils hidden away for non-food purposes. On top of the chest of drawers is a small wash basin, pitcher and washcloth. Leaning carefully behind the basin, braced against the wall is a small, unframed mirror. Though the bed is habitually made, dirty clothes end up more beside the small basket meant for them than in it and boots lay haphazardly about when they're not on their owner's large feet.

Dawn. Wake. Dress. Eat. Work. Eat. Work. Eat. Work a little more if there was more to do and light enough to do it by. Wash. Worry. Sleep? Toss. Turn. Dream. Wake. Breathe. Worry. Sleep?


The splash of cold that hit Stefyr's face as he stood over the wash basin in his small room was a welcome wake-up from the end of day stupor that had become habit in the month since he arrived at the Weyr. Work, the kind that was both physically demanding and exhausting to his ever-spinning brain, was his refuge. At first, it felt as though the frenzy of activity and the influx of new sights, sounds and experiences would be all he needed to make it feel less like he was still running as far as fast as he could to avoid the pain of heartbreak and lingering heartache.

It didn't work, really. He still felt like he was running. Worse, he felt like he was flagging and about to pitch over from the constant state of exhaustion, raw in body and mind from that all-consuming need to be too busy to plunge down into the mire of worry, pain and regret that nevertheless found him late at night.

She wouldn't suddenly leave his brother to hare off after him, to tell him it had all been the biggest mistake she ever could have made and that in her heart of hearts she had always loved him and only him. In truth, he would never wish she would, either, because that would mean Daro's heart would have to break, and the pain of that was too well-known to Stefyr for him to wish it on his worst enemy, let alone one of the brothers he actually loved (rather than just tolerated).

Enough of that. If Fyr's brain leapt down the hole now, he'd never convince himself to lay down and his body needed sleep, even if his mind didn't often agree. He splashed his face again before taking up the rough cloth laid by for this purpose. His eyes darted up to the small, unframed mirror balanced carefully on the top of the dresser, behind the basin. He hadn't taken much from the stores - only a few changes of clothes more than he had when he realized how hard his frenetic work would be on what he'd brought with him, but he had decided to take the mirror. It was scratched and shadowed from age, but it helped him anyway.

He'd never had much time for mirror-gazing back at the farm and with the way he wears dirt like it's cutting edge fashion, it isn't that he was vain, but he made time for it now. His face was, after all, the only thing familiar to him in this wild Weyr. Even that wasn't always true, though. It had become something of a ritual to stare at his reflection until his face didn't make sense to his mind anymore. Eventually, all the parts became irreconcilable to the familiar whole. It was an echo of what Stefyr felt about his insides all the time, but forcing his eye to acknowledge the superficial version was like breaking a finger to distract from the pain of a gaping gut wound. It was infinitely easier to deal with, and far less messy.

Before he got that far tonight, Stefyr tried a smile in the glass. Were his smiles fooling anyone? Did they look natural? Friendly? Willing? There were some, he'd have to admit, that were real enough, but he never laughed, not once since he arrived at the Weyr. The joy wasn't in his limping heart.

The fact that his heart felt like it was limping at all was an improvement, of course, from the day it was flattened by his brother's announcement. No one at home had wanted to see through his false solidarity. She had been his friend, only. Not even that good of a friend, he reflected bitterly, given how seldom they saw each other as neighbors at the great distance that was the combined fields of their families' respective lands. Being this far away from home at the Weyr, it was funny to think that he had once thought of that as a great distance. The dragons he saw daily could have made it from one farm to another in minutes.

Would it have made a difference to her heart, to his brother's suit, if he'd tried to walk the distance to see her more often? Would it have made a difference if he'd had a dragonrider friend willing to fly him between the two in less time, to be able to be at her beck and call? Better yet, would it have made a difference if Stefyr weren't merely the youngest brother, who happened to be her agemate and pal, but was someone who'd gone off to the Weyr sooner to become someone? If he'd become interesting? If he had Stood and Impressed and had a dragon of his own who could take him the short distance between her life and his? But then, that would have been a whole other life. One much closer to the one he was living now among these people and their great beasts.

These people and their dragons - or maybe it was just his own exhaustion - made Stefyr feel off-balance. It wasn't even that he felt he didn't belong so much as he felt out of sync. He was always a step slow on the pick up or talking too fast, too eager or too laconic. Too much too. Even the things that felt right, felt wrong in the same moment. Half the time he felt like he was in a bizarre dream he couldn't wake from. Sometimes, he would say he didn't want to wake from it. Others…

When he really was asleep, he sometimes woke up smelling the farm in his nose only to open his eyes to the ceiling of his room and realize where he wasn't. Then it was time to work, faster and harder to avoid all the feelings that would try to crash down on him. He didn't need those feelings. They were useless to him. All they would do is remind him of things he couldn't afford to give in to. This was better. It was better for all of them even if it felt like drowning. Like dying. It was better than being tempted to idiocy, better than poisoning something pure and precious that that stupid, lovable Daro had managed to secure. He didn't think he'd ever be the type to destroy one of his brothers (even if half of them were unlovable idiots), but he didn't trust himself. He couldn't afford to trust where she was involved.

What Stefyr needed now were reasons he could never return. He needed to become one with the craziness that this Weyr was proving it had in spades. He needed to become wrapped up in it, embroiled in whatever it could offer in the way of a new life. Maybe if he kept working hard, he could be exhausted through all the awkward and slow down only once things started to feel normal. He could hope. He could try. He could take whatever the Weyr threw at him and just say, yes. He nodded at his exhausted reflection and then set about scrubbing his fingers meticulously clean.

He would do it. He could. He would say yes to life, to the Weyr.

Hang the rest.

The next day, he said yes to helping find some lost livestock. That ended well, with Stefyr over the shoulder of a previously unknown bronzerider after spending too many hours alone in the deep, dark woods, some of that in the company of a lost Weyrwoman.

Finally back in his room much too late at night, Stefyr stared at his dirty face in his small mirror. He'd laughed, in the end, and even though it was hysterics, even though it wasn't joyful, it was still a laugh. It was something shifted deep down, healing some deep fissure in his heart that doubted and whispered late at night that he would never belong at the Weyr, that he would never belong anywhere but the one place he couldn't be. But when he spoke the words to the stranger, feeling only half mad from the stress of the day and the long hours of the night, he had been surprised to find them true. He belonged here.

Stefyr stared at his reflection. There was something different about the familiar features of his face now, about the whole, not the individual parts. Some tension that had sat on in his brow had eased. Some jagged edge within had found its mate; not a perfect fit, but something close enough to be bridged by that bizarre certainty that he had spoken truth. He didn't have to pretend a smile; even exhausted as he was, it bloomed on its own. He reached for the pitcher to fill the basin, only to find it empty. A low swear later and he was snagging up a change of clean clothes and heading for the hot springs. He wouldn't have slept well dirty anyway.

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