Mending and Miscommunication

Xanadu Weyr - Shore of Lake Caspian
The cliffs that run along the shore come and go, various weyrs nestled along the tops of them or dug into the walls, but eventually they recede enough to expose a beach. The white sand echoes the rise and fall of the cliffs with a multitude of sandy dunes, endlessly creating tiny valleys that are constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of dragons. The dunes smooth out as the gentle slope approaches the edge of the deep blue water. The sand darkens, and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect.

The beach narrows to the southwest, leaving a path barely wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to a smaller, more sheltered cove. The sands are the same white, the waters the same blue, but they're calmer and more tranquil, more protected from the winds that ruffle Lake Caspian and the currents that tug beneath the surface.

Rough, wide stairs lead up to the meadow above and the road that runs along the top of the cliffs, passing through the fields and heading for the river mouth that can be just barely seen from here. The largest of the staircases up the cliff is located near the docks that jut out onto the peaceful blue waters.

MANY HAVE WONDERED, BUT NONE HAVE ASKED: How does Stefyr maintain that muscular physique without all that farm work that must have had more than a little to do with building it to begin with? At the Weyr, one part (but not nearly all) of the answer is swimming. And so it is that on this afternoon the big blond may be found just finishing a vigorous swim in the sea. Given that he actually looks a little exhausted (and maybe it isn't just the swim that's at the root of it) when he drips his way into the sand and where he left towel, shirt and sandals, it might not be a surprise that he's not paying as much attention to his surroundings as he usually does, focused on the place he can flop down onto his towel.

Khavro is just another skinny guy without a shirt running on the beach, along the surf, such that it is. Whether he's here on purpose or not is uncertain, but he slows when he spies Stefyr emerging from the water and he's heading toward him as the big blond settles on his towel. The trader is there in short order, sinking into the sand next to Stefyr with a quick, "I'm sorry." Probably so the other candidate doesn't, like, leave or drag him into the water to drown him or something.

The big man is only barely settled on his towel when Khavro sinks down beside him. Stefyr freezes in the motion of pushing his hand through his hair. The hand doesn't stay motionless for long, just kind of stutters back into the motion and completes before falling into his lap. His expression is difficult to read as he looks over to the curly-haired candidate who's joined him. There's a pregnant pause where the blond's lips press together and it's clear he's thinking - though what is anyone's guess. Whatever it was that he was thinking isn't made more clear when he clears his throat and does finally speak, saying, "I'm not sure what you think you have to apologize for?"

"Bullshit." Khavro shuts that down without a second thought, and he continues before giving Stefyr a chance to interrupt him. "I like you, okay? I want to kiss you. I want to kiss all over you. But I wouldn't blame you if you didn't even want to be my friend anymore. I haven't been very fair. I'm just— I know I'm kind of a mess, and that's not your fault." Mostly. "So I'm sorry." He waits, then, chancing an earnest glance at the blond.

Stefyr's brows creep up a little as Khavro shuts down what— well, in light of his perplexed expression was probably genuine remarks. The rest… well, naturally it makes the blond's face look sunburnt far faster than it could become so even with the way Rukbat is cheerfully present today, already working at drying his hair and all the rest of him. Stefyr's eyes move away from Khavro briefly (at that part about being kissed all over) before returning to the other man's face as he speaks. He opens his mouth, closes it, clears his throat and tries again. "The way I saw it, it seemed like I had overstepped," which is why this apology seems to be puzzling him so much. He takes a minute to try to bring himself onto Khavro's page. "So… I haven't?" Overstepped. "Do you… want to be friends?" He's trying, Khavvy, he really is, but boy's not the swiftest when it comes to these sorts of things and that's a little bit of whiplash from the last interaction to this one.

"I know. I just… I panicked. When you said you'd get hurt on my account." Or something like that. It was so long ago, after all. "You didn't overstep. Shards, I'm not sure you could if you wanted to." Khavro ruffles his own dark hair, all nervous energy and uncomfortable honesty. "I do. I want to be friends. If you still want to be my friend, anyway."

Faranth. People who take time to internalize what they're being told are the worst in conversations like this because it means the person putting things on the line has to wait for them to catch up if they want a thoughtful response. And so … … There it goes. "Sure. I'd like to be friends. If you're sure." He squints a little at the man with the seesaw reversal. "Are you? Sure?"

"Yeah. I mean— yeah." Just yeah, Khavro. Don't overthink it. That's part of the problem with silence. It gives the trader too much time to think of problems that don't exist yet. "I'm sure I want to be friends with you, Stefyr. So." There's a pause and a glance toward the blond. "Are we good?"

This, "Sure," comes sooner than the last, "but-" it also gets one of those. He presses his lips together a long moment and then lets out a breath. "Just sure." Evidently whatever Stefyr's 'but' was going to be isn't about to be shared. "We're good." He shrugs, and although his smile is reserved, it's still a smile. He may still look just the slightest bit confused, but that might just be his face today.

Khavro looks concerned by Stefyr's 'but' and there's a slight fall of the tentative hope on his face. "Okay," is all he lets himself say, though. "Good." He sits there for another few moments, repeats awkwardly, "Good," and then he's shifting forward to push himself back onto his feet.

"Are you going?" Stefyr's tone of surprise can't be missed, but neither can the edge of disappointment. "You haven't told me how you are yet." And apparently the big blond cares to know, if the inquiring tilt of his head is enough to go by.

He pauses mid-shift, coming forward onto his knees to look at Stefyr as though he's some unsolvable mystery. "Sorry, I thought that's what you wanted." But if it's not, Khavro will stay for now and try not to ruin everything by being an idiot. "I'm okay," is probably too simple of an answer. "How are you?" he asks, not quite settling in again, but not leaving, either.

Blond head jerks in an invitation for Khavro to stay, even to join him on his towel, if he'd rather not sit in sand. "Nervous," is Stefyr's opening bid for this conversation. He draws his legs up until his sandy feet are just off the edge of his towel, arms coming to loosely encircle his slightly splayed knees. "Hatching is coming up. It means change." He rolls his shoulders in a release of tension that might also be a weird shrug. "Katailea said she thought it was like a storm." He purses his lips slightly for a moment, his cheek twitching before he adds, "I've seen storms destroy the work of months in an hour or less. Seems like this might be that kind of storm, for some." Maybe for him.

Khavro does rise, then, but only to dust enough sand off of his butt and thighs to settle down again on the towel with Stefyr. "Change isn't always bad. You're either going to impress, or you're not, you know?" Or die horrifically from a tragic accident. That still falls under the other two options, though, so he doesn't point that out itself. "I'll be relieved when it's over, one way or the other."

"I know, but I'm afraid of what I'm going to learn about myself, one way or the other." This is a vulnerable truth, but one the young man apparently has no difficulty speaking in the space between them. Stefyr doesn't look at Khavro now, not as he often looks at anyone he's speaking to, but his look is inward and quietly concerned. He shifts his feet in the sand, letting his toes start to dig their nervous energy into the white stuff.

"What do you mean what you're going to learn about yourself?" This, perhaps, has not occurred to Khavro at all. Is that something he needs to be worried about, too?! "You're great, I don't know what you'd be afraid of learning."

There's a rumble from Stefyr's chest that's a noise of disagreement, but he doesn't bother to get into a 'tell me I'm pretty' conversation; it's just not his style. That's probably not the issue, really. "I've never faced anything like this. What if I run? What if I want to? What if I get there and find out my wanting to be a dragonrider is all shit and I just don't know what I'm talking about?" He rambles off the string of worries in a row, adding one more, one heavy one. "What if I get out there and suddenly realize I just want to be back at the farm?"

"If you want to run, you can," is the man-who-run's wise advice. "I've wanted to. More than once. There's no shame in changing your mind. Or not knowing something for certain." Maybe he needs to convince himself of that, too, but he sounds sincere all the same. "Anyway, you can be a dragonrider and a farmer. You can farm all over Pern, even." Okay, so that's not THE farm, but it's still farming. "What do you want right now?"

"Right now, I don't want to run. I don't want to run because I'm panicking." Stefyr's toes dig, dig, dig into the sand, making little foot burrows. "I can't take my dragon to my farm, if I even have a dragon." He sighs, reaching up a hand to scrub across his face. "Forget it, I guess." He says and then flinches and casts Khavro a rueful look. "Sorry. I'm not very good about talking about this stuff when it's my stuff." All this while he looks at the sand mounds where his feet used to be, not at the other candidate.

Khavro flinches, too, but he looks away, down the beach, to try his best at hiding it. "We don't have to talk about it," he says when he glances back. Not if Stefyr doesn't want to, at least. "It doesn't matter what I think, but you'd be a good dragonrider. You're honest. Straightforward." Simple? But in a good way! Randomly, he asks, "What's your favorite color?"

"Thanks," is a little gruff, but there it is. "For understanding." Stefyr wiggles his toes some more and unearths his feet one pull of a leg at a time. "Mmmm…." Apparently this is a think-worthy question. It should be easy, right? And yet, he comes out sounding unsure, "Green? Like leaves in the sun?" It might even seem for a moment as his eyes search the horizon that he might not say more about anything, but then he murmurs just loud enough to be heard over the sound of the water and the other occupants of the beach. "I'm not sure being a good dragonrider even comes into the equation for the dragons. Honest…" He makes a little head wobble as if not committing himself to that quality. "Or straightforwardness. I mean, you've met Ila." There's a thoughtful look to go with his horizon-gazing, but he doesn't elaborate. "And other dragonriders seem to be as different as different comes. Maybe my seeming like a good dragonrider will work against me in the end."

"Green is a nice color," muses Khavro. And he might have been okay with some of this less awkward silence there, but when Stefyr continues, he tilts his head to study him. "I just mean you're a good man. You'd be a good dragonrider. And if your dragon is on those sands, I bet they'll love that about you, too." He offers a quirk of a smile, even if there's something sad about it, and he looks down the beach again. "Anyway, whatever happens will happen, I guess." That's how he deals with life, at least.

"Being a good man might be overrated." Stefyr works at putting the sand back into the little holes he dug, idly. FARMERS, ALWAYS DIGGING HOLES AND COVERING THEM UP AGAIN. Physically and emotionally. "I think I'd rather be some shade of grey." BUT DOES HE EVEN KNOW HOW TO BE LESS OF A WHITE KNIGHT? "You're right though. Whatever happens will happen." He looks at the horizon a long moment and then shifts to lean back on his hands. "I almost wish they'd hurry up. Save me the worry."

Willing to admit defeat in being capable of making Stefyr feel better, Khavro leaves all the shades of white and gray alone. "It'll be over soon. Then you can find all new things to worry about." He doesn't particularly sound like he's looking forward to that part, but he bends his knees, wrapping his arms around them, settling his head on his arm to study the other young man like Stefyr is more interesting than the rest of the beach.

Even if Khavro doesn't sound especially like he's looking forward to that part, the words get a short laugh from Stefyr. At least Khavro got him to smile? Well, briefly, as blue eyes meet green and he pinches his eyes shut. "It shouldn't be funny, because you weren't kidding," for once, or maybe he was, but it's not really a joke because it's true. "But it is. Funny."

Khavro smiles, maybe unconsciously even, at Stefyr's laugh. "It is funny," he agrees. Such is life! Because if you don't laugh, you cry. "It'll all be okay, though. Everything will be okay." He lifts his head to turn his gaze out toward the water, maybe realizing he's been more or less staring at the blond. "Did you get your robe sorted out?"

"Didn't I once tell you that?" Stefyr looks even more amused, but his smile is close-lipped this time, but wide enough for his dimples to show. "Next thing you'll tell me you're thinking of staying on at the Weyr whether you impress or not." That Stefyr logic grows on you. LIKE MOLD. "I'm set. Got the tears sewn up and all. How about you? Did the one I found work?" It's probably as much idle curiosity as concern for the lackadaisical candidate's hatching readiness.

"I've stayed this long," says Khavro, so very put upon. Granted, he's the one with a vested interest in seeing whether a dragon will put up with him for the rest of its life over him finding somewhere else to run every time he gets restless. "Yeah, I think it'll work. Thanks." For extending the robe branch, perhaps.

Stefyr's smile breaks wide again, nearly laughing as he looks at Khavro. He leans and nudges Khavro with his shoulder in a good-natured sort of way. "You've been very brave," is said in an intentionally patronizing tone, expression suddenly all serious (but only for fun), "enduring the Weyr this long. That's what my da wrote me. That I'd "endured" the Weyr long enough." That does actually make him laugh, even if it's a little watery of a thing. "The way they write, you'd think the Weyr had me hostage when the truth is there's nowhere I'd rather be."

Khavro snorts something like a laugh. After he realizes Stefyr is using someone else's words. "Your da sounds like a delightful man," says the trader, voice bright with sarcasm. "I for one am glad you've endured the Weyr this long. Even without the friend thing, being able to look at you every day has made everything more bearable for me, at least."

Comments like that definitely deserve a good shoulder shove, so Khavro is duly rewarded by the big blond. "Pretty sure you basically hated the sight of me there for a while. For those sevens when you didn't even look at me." That Stefyr saw anyway. "My da's not so bad. A little distant. I think that might just be because he's so busy. Busy can be good though. Maybe I should just stay busy until hatching time." And be exhausted for it? Probably.

"Look, I can hate you all I want, but you're still sharding gorgeous." It's not even a compliment, Stefyr, it's just a statement of fact that everyone knows. Common knowledge. "I can think of a few ways to keep you busy. But your da would definitely disapprove. Or maybe he'd be proud of you for enduring such hardships." Is this what flirting is? "I've been trying to stay busy since I got here," is only slightly more serious.

Just because Khavro regards the words as truth, it doesn't stop Stefyr from blushing very slightly. "I look like the guy on the cover of the romance novel Rhody loaned me." It's a quiet confession, but prompts a sheepish look and then a low laugh. When he's done, which will depend entirely on if Khavro laughs with him or not, he asks, "What kinds of things?" It's an innocent question. Or is it? There is a thoughtful sidelong look at the curly-haired candidate.

"You really do," Khavro does laugh, because it's true. Stefyr could be the model for every male romance novel lead on the planet with very few complaints. He doesn't even have to know that specific cover, he knows the type. "Oh, uh." He pauses, considering his phrasing. "Kissing, I guess. Not just your mouth." His green eyes flicker from Stefyr's face, down his torso to the waist of his shorts and back up again. "Or you could come running with me." You know, whatever sounds good to him.

Stefyr probably doesn't realize that his tongue moistens his lips in the distinct pause between Khavro's words and his response. He probably also doesn't realize that he's become unusually still. "I thought you didn't want me to kiss you." A beat, and then he adds, "Because I kiss people." Other people than Khavro. His cheeks are tinged with color now, but at least it's not a raging blush, so there's that. The other question can wait.

His face scrunches up, pensive in the few moments it takes him to gather his thoughts. "It wasn't… that, exactly. Anyway, we're just friends. It's not my business what you do with anyone else," Khavro says it somewhat dismissively, clearly not wanting to linger on those thoughts longer than he needs to right now.

The blond's lips press together the way they habitually do when he's not letting himself say whatever it was that was first in his brain. After a moment, Stefyr's quiet, "Okay," is acceptance. He shifts off the blanket and onto his feet. "Let's run." Since Khavro offered. It's far from the broad-shouldered man's favorite work out activity list, but he's been seen to do it at least occasionally given the impending possibility of weyrlinghood and the rumor of just how much running weyrlings do.

The big blond agreeing to run was not at the top of Khavro's list of expected responses, so it takes him a moment to process both that and his presumed rejection, watching Stefyr stand before he's following suit. "All right. Which way?" He glances both ways down the beach, but will follow the other candidate's lead if he takes it. Given that running is perhaps the only overly physical activity Khavro enjoys, he doesn't seem worried about matching Stefyr's pace.

"I'll follow where you lead," Stefyr replies, eyes on the other man's perhaps a little more intently than strictly warranted. And in practice, the big blond will probably run beside the other candidate, though he might lag a little every now and again. And when the run is over? He'll return to collect his items and head to get cleaned up.

Khavro will keep a moderate pace, not exactly making it easy for Stefyr, but not trying to give the big guy a heart attack, either. No chatting, just running to drown out their worries and at least some of his own frustrations until the blond has had enough.

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