The Accidental CuddlePuddle That Never Was

Xanadu Weyr - Training Grounds
A wide, grassy expanse, nestled into the gentle bowl shape where something's taken a bite out of the mountain. It's high above the level of the beach, and there's a good eastern view of the lake and a long path leading down to that sandy shore. Granite cliffs surround it on the other sides.

While much of the grounds are left in their natural state, one area has been trampled and trodden by enough feet that the grass struggles to grow. A running track circles a set of equipment - straw dummies with wooden frames, obstacles of various sizes and shapes, and targets for flaming, archery, and whatever else.

There's a dragon-sized opening to the south that leads to the cavernous weyrling barracks, and a smaller tunnel to the northeast - large enough for dragons newly emerged from the sands, but quickly outgrown by hatchlings who are then forced to take the long way around - at least, until they learn to spread their wings and fly. Between them in both position and size, a jagged crack in the stone leads to a dim cave with the sound of water.

It's night. People and dragons sleep at night. This is something that F'yr has been trying to explain to the tail-twitching bronze who has decided he is NEEDED outside the barracks tonight, to STAND GUARD. There might be renegades anywhere, you know. YOU DO KNOW, because Glorioth has SAID SO, in that BOOMING VOICE of his. All of this probably explains why F'yr's forehead is hitting bronze shoulder…….. Repeatedly. It's a break from oiling, because if he's got to stay awake with his dragon, even in the poor light offered by the twin moons above, he might as well get in the next round of oiling given how explosively fast bronze hide cells seem to be generating to make this legendary hero EVER MORE LEGENDARY. (He would say wait for it, but he's already THERE.)

It's Koth who appears first, boldly stepping out of the barracks, marbled wingsails mantled and at the ready more than to make her look larger or more imposing. That's for dragons who are insecure in their size, and that's not Koth. « I thought there was a scuffle, » she growls in accusation at the very dead training grounds, and the bronze whose siren call brought her here. It's a handful of moments before V'ro is following after her, whisper-yelling, "Get back here, you can't just go wandering around in the middle of the night!"

« THERE COULD BE, » Glorioth gives Koth his undivided attention. (RUN!) Don't threaten him with a great time. He turns toward the green, sizing her up. « You're small, but why not. I'm too brave to spare the small. » NEVER LET IT BE SAID THAT GLORIOTH WASN'T AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TROUBLEMAKER, and so he charges at Koth, of course. There's a strangled protest from F'yr's throat and then he's sprinting, cracked ribs jarring, and trying to throw himself bodily into the path of the oncoming bronze.

Not one to cower in the face of adversity, Koth rears up on her hind legs, wings beating a challenge before she's leaping forward to meet Glorioth's MUCH LARGER charge. She's bold, though, not stupid, so she twists away at the last moment, as fast and agile as her young body allows, to run further out into the training grounds with a playful trill. « You're so big and strong and brave. But you'll never catch me! » And V'ro must believe the little green, because it's F'yr he starts running toward as though he'll somehow save him or something. Worst case, he can probably get a healer if his dragon tramples him, right?

« I AM HONOR!! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! » Glorioth is delighted. Does his battle cry make sense? Nah. Does it have to? Double nah. Contrary to what might seem apparent, he doesn't want his rider dead (how could F'yr admire his admirable admirableness if he were dead, duh), so he veers out of the man's path, which really just leaves F'yr in impotent 'No, Glorioth!' pose, eyes watering from pain; his ribs definitely aren't healing like they should. And that's probably why when the bronze goes charging gleefully off after his NEW FAVORITE clutch sister, to tussle in the yard if he can catch her (HE'S SURE HE CAN; whether or not that proves to be true in fact will not change his certainty even one tiny bit). Meanwhile blue eyes streaming silent tears follow the bronze and then flick to the oncoming greenrider before he sinks down, down onto his knees to draw shallow shuddering breaths that are a result of his self-inflicted pain.

"F'yr!" V'ro half growls, half worries, and then he's there with the other weyrling, crouching down with him to gauge his status. "Are you okay? Shard it, you're never going to get better if you keep pushing yourself like this." No thanks or anything for trying to keep Glorioth from potentially mauling or squishing his clutchmate, even. Koth doesn't need protection, you see. She's a badass warrior who isn't as cautious of glorious bronzes (or anything else) as she probably could be. So she'll lead Glorioth on an honorable chase until he catches her or they're both too exhausted to keep going. Or, you know, one of them gets bored because babies. "Can I help?" asks V'ro, holding out a hand in case F'yr wants to get back up.

F'yr's hand grips V'ro's and does really use the other man as a lever to get himself back on his feet, his other hand going to push the tears off his cheeks now that they're no longer actively flowing (but, shit, that must have hurt). "Thanks. And probably not. I don't see where I have too much choice. I mean, the Weyrlingmaster is helping do what he can, but there's only so much…" that anyone, including him, can do to help curb that level of excitement and activity. Activity is the name of the game, zoom zoom zoom zoom zoom zoom zoom (IT'S EXHAUSTING JUST TO READ IT, RIGHT?) go the baby dragons until it's suddenly and abruptly too quiet. F'yr's blue eyes are a little lost in V'ro's face and maybe that's why he stiffens when he realizes the silence is so complete. Does V'ro hear it? Or not hear it? Will he turn and sprint (okay, sprint-hobble in F'yr's case) in the direction of large expanses of hide that are too still a distance away?

Brow furrowed, V'ro lets F'yr gather himself without comment or intervention, but he stays close in case the other weyrling needs his support. He might have started to say something, then, but that's the same time F'yr is realizing the quiet, and V'ro looks over to where he last knew the dragons were with a frown. The greenrider lacks outright panic, but only because he can still feel Koth, and that she's not hurt or dying. He still outpaces the injured blond, and he's walking around the dragonpile to make sure there's no ichor that he can see in the dark. "I… I think they're okay? Should we wake them up?" Like any new parental figure, V'ro obviously doesn't love that idea, but he puts it out there anyway.

Having that level of bonding is something that F'yr is going to have to work at. It's the reverse of the people who have too much integration with his dragon, this issue of not enough. It might be partly intentional because he's frequently stymying the bronze's idea of a good time. There's no chance that Glorioth intentionally cuddled up with Koth and fell asleep. Cuddling isn't even something he typically does with his own rider, not that he's touch adverse from the big blond, he's just not soft and squishy like that. The way that the bronze is half sprawled over the green… it looks like maybe Glorioth who WAS NOT TIRED, OKAY? might have tried to pounce Koth and zapped the last of his energy reserves in that leap and conked right out while in mid-air and this is the result. The big blond stops in front of the dragonpile and just stares. His eyes are suddenly glassy again, but for a whole other reason than pain. The cutes are intense, and F'yr feels them down deep. He's silent and staring at the babies like that, so tenderly, for a handful of heartbeats before he sniffs and clears his throat. "Nah. Let them sleep, I think. They'll be up in a little while to eat." Won't they? They are growing insanely fast. His eyes cast up toward the clear sky and he purses his lips. "I'm gonna nap." And he moves to join the pile. "Coming?" It's warmer against dragon bodies, you know.

And V'ro probably hasn't really realized that anyone's bond with their dragon is any different than his, even if they've no doubt learned as much. Knowing and knowing are very different things. "Yeah," he says, a little distant while he finishes around the cuddled pair. "Yeah, they'll be up again soon." F'yr's so smart! V'ro watches as the other weyrling joins the pile and for a moment he seems hesitant about joining. But after a glance back to the barracks, he moves to find his own place amongst the warm, exhausted bodies.

The bronze weyrling picks his way over a bronze tail and around a green limb to place himself close to where the two dragons are pressed together in their cuddlepuddle, and he starts to settle, pausing only when he sees where V'ro is finding his own place. He stills, blue eyes thoughtfully search the other weyrling's face, his movements, his— everything. Then he finishes settling, not saying a word. He grunts as one of his shifts catches his ribs just wrong and then he loosely crosses his arms over himself in slight defense against the nippy air. "Wish I could get him to give me his wing, but…" With Glorioth already out for the count, that's unlikely, even if it might be unlikely anytime. It would at least block that breeze.

Whether or not F'yr intended anything by that comment, it has V'ro pausing, then moving again. He climbs over to the bronzerider and settles in against him, careful to avoid any contact that might hurt him. "Better?" he asks with the sort of grin that says he knows getting all cozy with him ought to be a good thing.

"Warmer," F'yr answers after a moment, a moment in which Glorioth stirs and thankfully mushes no one in his slight (for something as big as a transport wagon) shifting. He looks pained, but no one is touching his ribs and he's breathing shallowly. Glorioth shifts again an ominous rumble coming from the dragon. "Let's talk about something," sounds a little harried. "Anything. Do you like music?" He grasps at straws, one leg starting to bounce in release of building anxiety.

"Uh," begins V'ro, shifting slightly like he's not sure if he should put more space between them to ease F'yr's suffering. "Sure, I like music. Gathers are one of my favorite places. Lots of music there. And dancing." And things to steal, but he won't say that out loud to the blond. "I enjoy dancing."

"Dancing is good, I like dancing," his foot goes bounce bounce bounce. "I'm learning to dance. Risa's teaching me." Glorioth sh-hi-if-fts, snorts, rumbles louder. F'yr pinches his eyes shut. "My brothers taught me drinking songs in the bunkroom at night, back home. Do you know any drinking songs? Let's sing one," or F'yr can, and will, because it's a good distraction from rapidly devolving thoughts that are translating into a variety of feelings that are disturbing someone's slumber. So he sings, quietly, but in a smooth baritone, untrained but nice.

"Oh, yeah?" V'ro seems kind of interested in F'yr learning how to dance. Maybe from the Weyrwoman, especially. But since the other weyrling moves on, the greenrider won't linger on that point. He's grinning as F'yr starts to sing, it's pretty adorable, but he must not know the words, so he only tries to join in, quietly, when he picks up on what repeats, until it's over. "You have a nice voice."

Meeting V'ro's eyes when the song is over might have been a mistake, given that the blond flushes and Glorioth growls. Blue eyes close and he might be reciting some internal list of things that are supposed to help distract his thoughts, broadly, from things that might make him feel strongly in a particular way, but after a moment he manages to still that leg, even if his toe still taps. He keeps his eyes closed, but he does say, "Thanks. My mum liked to sing to us, and we sang to keep ourselves entertained after dinner some nights. One of my uncles plays gitar. I might've liked to be a harper if I hadn't been a farmer," which automatically precluded the possibility. … And his eyes stay closed even as his face is turned toward V'ro. THIS IS NOT AWKWARD AT ALL. IF NO ONE POINTS IT OUT, IT WILL STAY THAT WAY. THE NOT AWKWARD WAY.

SURELY V'ro is noticing how weird F'yr is acting, and how Glorioth is responding. But he's obviously not commenting on it. Until he does. "You would've been a good harper. I bet you could still get lessons for harpering if you wanted. After they're all grown up and we've graduated, I mean. Are you okay? I can… I can go back inside. I could bring you a blanket." And then leave again. HE'S A GOOD FRIEND OKAY.

"No, it's fine. I'm fine. Sorry. Just thinking about things I shouldn't." F'yr clears his throat, face still red in the darkness but he's breathing more evenly. "I'd rather you didn't go. Maybe…" He clears his throat again and shifts, settling his head more against the bronze hide. "Will you tell me a story?" A bedtime story will surely be the magic cure for the big man's curse of the closed eyelids.

"I wish I could touch you," is probably the last thing V'ro should be thinking, let alone saying out loud, but he moves on with a sigh at himself and a slight clearing of his own throat. "A story, hm." He has to think about it for a handful of moments, but then he's regaling the tale of a young man trying to sell the unsellable - a single earring, a bowl with a hole in it, and finally his heart - that might be a story that was once told to him by his family.

'You are touching me,' would be the sort of innocently naive response Stefyr would have given. And this particular bit of growth has less to do with impressing Glorioth and more to do with being so busy that sleep is the greatest aspiration one has for any amount of free time for two sevens. The less innocent meanings might not be lost on F'yr this time. But if they're not lost, they're also not helping him just now. So for whatever reason the words are not addressed, but not ignored, even if the difference between the two is a subtle one. By the time V'ro is nearing the end of the story, it might seem that F'yr is asleep. But he's not. The sleepy mumble of, "Does he do it?" To find the end proves it.

"No," answers V'ro. "He tries, but he realizes he can't sell his heart, because he shares it with everyone he meets, to some extent or another. And they share theirs with him. It was always one of my favorite stories as a child." His head leans slightly against F'yr once the story is finished, letting the breathing of the dragons fill the silence.

"That's a nice story," F'yr murmurs, interrupted by a huge not-baby-weyrling yawn, his head nodding, nodding, and then falling to V'ro's shoulder as he succumbs to slumber, for too short a time before there are rumbling bellies and itchy skin and pretending this didn't happen to attend to. (But also, HE CAUGHT YOU, NYAH NYAH, KOTH, even if none of this ever happened.)

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