A running gag?

Xanadu Weyr - Training Grounds
This wide, grassy expanse is nestled into a vaguely bowl-shaped curve, granite walls jagged and misshapen as though something's taken a bite out of the mountain. It's high above the level of the beach, with a lovely easterly view of the sea and a long path leading down to sandy shores. Cliffs surround the training grounds on all other sides, excepting a small archway leading towards the hatching arena.
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 might be needed to train human and dragon bodies alike.
Candidate access to the combined barracks can obtained by way of a simple door embedded into the wooden half of the structure. Weyrlings are encouraged to make use of a short but massive tunnel that slopes gently upwards into the half of the barracks meant for dragon use. To the right of this opening, a jagged crack in the stone leads to a dim cave, alive with the sound of water.

It is late, or early, depending upon your point of view. In the hours before the sun rises, before dawn spreads rosey fingers across the darkling sky, a lone figure is spied doing laps around the training grounds. Not the track, that's too easy, but the entirety of the grounds, themselves. To his credit, Averil has found shoes better designed for the task and rather then his usual culottes, he's wearing a pair of loose fitting shorts and a tank top he probably pilfered from stores. Even so, with his hair pulled up into a high ponytail, and the slightness of his form, it is hard to look at him and think 'male'. Some do, granted. Most don't. What is important, though, is the fact that he's running, and running, and running, despite the fact that he can barely breath, despite the fact that he's stopped more then afew times to throw up. He might be small, but he is both stubborn and determined to do what he has set out to do. Which, in this case, probably looks run himself to death.

It is early for R'hyn, if not for others. One can tell given only the state of the man's hair; though oft-swept by hands in an act of physical expression of mood, it is definitely sleep-rumples that characterize the chaotic spikes that reach for that dawn-burgeoning sky. The half-asleep, grumpy eyes help. Still, despite fervent wishes, peak condition does not keep itself, and after a few cursory stretches just inside the entrance to the grounds, the bronzerider sets off on a lazy jog of his own. It doesn't take long to spy a fellow runner, and despite his relative frumpy moue R'hyn is a gregarious creature by nature, and misery does so love company, right? His stride lengthens, breath coming harder, pushing himself until he draws up next to Averil, steps hop-skipping to match the candidate's pace. On your left. "Seems early for running," is puffed between breaths instead of offering a proper greeting, a small smile ticking one bearded cheek. "Get in trouble with the weyrlingmasters?" Why else would a person be out at this Faranth-be-damned hour looking like they're one stiff breeze away from keeling over into an early grave?

There is a point, in running (particularly when running alone) where the movement and strain become hypnotic, the steady thump-thump-thump-gasp keeping time with the moving of legs that would much rather be noodles. That being the case it takes a moment for Averil's brain to register that there is someone running alongside him and moment longer for the words to make sense in his brain. When they do, he gives a quick shake of his head, his pace faltering a beat before settling into something more even. "No," he gasps. Talking while running? Definitely an acquired skill. "Just… got a list.." Another pause filled with heavy breaths follows before he gets to the point where he can try again. "Milestones for weyrlings," he explains. "I want to make sure I can meet them just in case." Which, apparently, sounds lame enough that he turns red(der) and shakes his head. "Less embarassing when I get to the pushups part at this hour."

The act of running also requires a certain focus, one that doesn't lend itself to reading nuanced expressions, but the one that accompanies R'hyn's, "Oh," says much. He didn't actually expect punishment to be the case for the comparatively-diminutive candidate, but 'I read it on a list' apparently wasn't what he was expecting either. Perhaps he can draw conclusions from R'hyn's prolonged silence as he digests that, breath from running to catch up steadying as he continues to match Averil's pace. "And you're doing that all by yourself?" He's impressed, gaze flicking sideways to review Avi anew. If he notices redness turning redder, he's perhaps too polite to say so, eyes quick to swivel forwards again. He issues an audible hum of surprise and then, "That is a lot of work for 'just in case'." It's an invitation to keep talking without putting on pressure, not one to want to force unwanted and possibly physically uncomfortable conversation on the candidate purely to indulge in his own curiosity. "Agree to disagree," must needs be said on the subject of pushups, though, laughter clipped by the landing of heels upon ground. "Those are the worst and everyone knows it." Fight him on it!

"I can't do them." Averil has tried. Time and time again, he's gotten help from some of the other candidates, but try as he might, he just doesn't have the upper body strength to do it properly. From the look on his face and the fact that he picks up his pace for a moment, or two, it's clear it is a source of considerable frustration for the artist. It is only once his pace levels back out into something less punishing that he sucks in a lungful of air and expels it in a rush. Running? Running is something he is getting good at, at least. It is after a full lap that he glances at the man running with him, still not clueing in on who it is (all his mental focus is on keeping his legs running). "I know it sounds ridiculous," he admits. And while there is another long moment of silence with only the sound of feeting hitting the ground, he eventually shakes his head and adds. "I am not going to be responsible for holding a dragon back." Doesn't matter if the chances are slim, there are still chances and he is not the sort to let his failings impact another life. "Doesn't seem fair." To him, or the dragon? Both, probably.

If R'hyn has anything to say to that, he keeps it to himself for the moment, letting Averil's burst of speed work out the snarl that is his momentary vexation, fluctuating his own pace with no need to poke what is clearly a sore subject; not now, not yet. So he runs, glancing sideways and offering a tired grin when it's clear Avi is looking his way, anonymity not at all aided by an utter lack of knot. Dark grey shirt and soft, cut shorts do little to provide illumiation, his only jewelry a ring on one hand. "Ridiculous? Nah," is broken by paced breathing, "Just above and beyond the norm. Plenty of folks let the dragon come first and then struggle." Spoken like a person with experience in the matter, tone touched with the kind of teasing mellowness that comes with a lifelong habit of making gentle humor of everything. It slips away slow, voice drifting back towards polite, only just on the softer side as he asks, "So you think yours is out there?" A dragon, he means, yours in the most dragonrider-ly of senses, intimated by a sweep of his hand in the direction of the nearby sands. Fairness and responsibility are perhaps judgments only Averil can make for himself; R'hyn leaves that estimation to self-reflection, allowing the candidate an easy out on that personal question by circling back to the original conversation. "As for pushups, they take time. Have you been shown simpler ways to build that strength?"

Averil is listening. He is. A fact made clear when his pace slows and eventually becomes the quick walk heralding the end of his running. "I've tried weights," he admits as he swings his arms up and stretches acrossed his chest. "But the ones I've found are to heavy for me. I ended up being in to much pain to paint." Pausing a beat, he tosses strands of gold hair out of his eyes and finally takes a better look at R'hyn's face. "Averil," he offers. "I'm an artist." There should be a well met in there, but they've been talking long enough that it seems almost rude to offer it now. It is as he circles the grounds at that quick walk that he glances toward the sands and frowns. "I don't know," he admits. "I don't think so," is added a moment later. "Or rather I /do/ think so, but that seems like believing you are getting that present you asked for on your turnday? The one you /know/ no one can afford, but want anyway?" Again, he falls silent, his head lolling back to stretch his neck before he stops and bends forward to brace his hands against his knees. "There are way better choices available."

Though it is far too early for him to be allowed to quit for the day, R'hyn follows suit, dropping out of his run a few paces past Averil and doubling back to rejoin his proximity. "Hmm. That's an easy fix. I'll have Ila'den submit a requisition." By which he means, he'll fill out a requisition form and have the bronzerider place his signature on the dotted line next to his, but Avi doesn't need to know that. "You can use your own body weight, in the meantime. I'd be happy to show you a few things." He lets the offer stand without pressure behind it, instead meeting gaze for gaze, head tipping just barely to one side as he offers his own name right back. "R'hyn," and, matching inflection to a tee, "I am jealous. I've always wanted to paint." One might gather that he means paint well, though whether Averil does, he wouldn't know. He makes the assumption as he will, letting the sound of their steps permeate the space between them, watching Averil as the candidate frowns towards the sands. "Luckily, you don't get to make that decision," is teasing in that gentle way from before, as though he doesn't quite believe that but doesn't know Avi enough to say so, lips quirked at their corners as he says, "some of the safest-seeming bets get left standing, and some of the scrappiest underdogs are off leading wings somewhere." A shrug, as though to say, dragons, man. "They'll do whatever they were going to do no matter who you are. It's a fitting analogy, though." He is quiet for a moment, so long it seems as though that might be all before he adds, "It doesn't hurt to hope." It's thoughtful, almost, distant, gaze drifting away, unfocused but unerring - perhaps in the direction of his own dragon - and this time the quiet sticks.

Averil laughs, the sound quiet and a bit startled as he looks back at R'hyn's face. "I think that is probably a lucky thing," he admits. As for the hoping, he doesn't know how to feel about it all and it is clear in his face. Clearer when he admits. "It's a lot to think about. Your life could change forever and there is no telling whether that is a good thing, or a bad thing." In the wake of the words, he watches the man in silence, considering him for a long moment before finally offering a firm nod of his head. It's almost comical, how very serious he is about the matter. "I'd take your help, if you are serious. Whatever happens, I need to do this for myself, as well. Get strong, I mean. It's not just about dragons, not really." Although that is absolutely a part of it. "If you mean it, I'd be happy to work on your painting with you in return." It makes it more even, those scales in his head that need to be so carefully balanced. Stretching, he groans as he cracks his back, his chin tilting back toward the track. "You ready for more?" Because right now, running is the best track he has toward increasing his stamina and strength. It is as he starts into another loping run that he blinks once and slants a glance back at the man he is speaking with. R'hyn. And when the light dawns, which it does a few steps in, he flashes a smile that is both wry and honest at the same time. "I thought you'd be scarier," he admits as he finds his stride.

It's the laugh that draws R'hyn back from wherever he went, gaze clearing, lips lifting in reflexive response. "Mmm. If dragons chose us based on our views of ourselves, we wouldn't be having this conversation, probably," accompanies a flash of teeth, cheerful self-deprecation coming and going as topics take a somewhat more serious turn. "It is, and it's good that you're thinking about it now." While there's still time to run. "Impressing is irrevocable, and good or bad, nobody stays precisely the same on the other side. At least, no one I've ever met." Whether they'd admit to that or not is a wholly different matter, but R'hyn seems to have made his mind up on the subject, at least. The comical nature of Averil's determination is not lost on the bronzerider, but far be it from him to laugh; he returns that nod instead, mollified, happier, even, to hear this is a change Avi wants for himself as much as anything else. "Of course. I'm… not sure my painting is something that can be fixed," comes with an abashed fluff of hair that sends the bedhead wreck into even further disarray, "but I'd be willing to try." It's a trade, a trade he'll shake on, or at least offer to, though the adopted solemnity of it is rather ruined by a sharp snort and a dry, "You sound like my husband in the mornings," for that back crack-a-lacking, headshake accompanying despite his body's tilt onto his toes. "Never," but also, yes, stride adjusting to match one much shorter than his by habit. It's his turn for a startled laugh this time, choked, somewhat louder if only because, "That's a new one. Scary. Faranth, if only." Blue-grey eyes roll, as though it has been a long ass time since he was the most fearsome thing in the room. The gruff amusement lasts only a few paces before he adds, quieter, but as earnest, "But I'm glad I'm not."

Averil slants a glance at the man as they run, his smile turning far more honest as he reaches a hand acrossed his body to take and shake that offered hand. It's awkward with returning running, but earnest all the same. "Your husband…" Tasting the words, he runs for a few moments in silence before offering a slow nod of his head. "My partner is a candidate, as well," he admits. Which is promptly followed with a sideeye toward R'hyn. "He's a beastcrafter." Now, there is a moment where Avi finds himself surprised at his sharing, the feeling though, is not poked at to deeply. It's there, it's rare, he's not going to prod at it. "In fairness," he points out in response to the last. "You are considerably larger then I am, which does tend to be a little intimidating." He's teasing, mostly, although that is harder to tell when his running has his breathing growing more shallow. "Its good that your not. Scary, I mean. Do you like it? Being in charge of all of this?" Talking about R'hyn? Much more comfortable then talking about himself.

R'hyn realizes the mistake immediately, though he focuses on correction of term, rather than anything else. "Weyrmate," comes quick but not quite brisk, some of that self-deprecation returning in the twist of his mouth, the flavor of his words. "We joked once, and it stuck." In a lasting way, one that lends a touch of appreciation to the look he flicks Averil's way, as lingering as can be before necessity dictates he watch where his feet are going. "That must be nice, having someone to go through it with you… To understand it." Or at least he hopes that is the case, intimated in tone if not in so many words, R'hyn likewise holding back from prodding of his own - if only to keep from having to offer in kind. It might be why he seizes on that conversational shift with alacrity, laughter rolling in response, playfully narrowed eyes cutting Avi's way. "I can't help that you're short," is spoken like it ought to be delivered with a delicate sniff, one he can't quite manage at their pace. It doesn't stop him from attempting to stoop and run at once. "Better?" It doesn't last. Laughter at his own ridiculous dad-humor fades away, body righting itself into proper poise, head shaking long before he speaks. "Not even a little bit," probably isn't as true as he's making it seem, given he's still in the position, but, "If it weren't for Xermiltoth, I'd've been happily retired behind a bar ages ago. But, he seems to think we're good at it - or, at least, better than the alternatives." This comes sotto voce, the face he pulls expressing that this is very much one egotistical bronze's sentiments and not his own. "This, though. This I enjoy. Clutches. Candidates. Weyrlings. Getting to see people come into their own and know we played a part. It makes the rest worth it."

"I like husband better," Averil decides as he slants a glance at R'hyn and smiles. "It sounds more.. settled." To him, at least. Turning his own eyes front, he is silent for a few paces, focusing on getting his breathing under control and keeping his legs moving. "And it is," he finally admits. "Nice." Course, a moment later, he's laughing at being called short, his steps stuttering until he catches his stride and slants a -look- at R'hyn. "I'm not short, I'm fun-sized," he points out. The rest has him thinking, though, his chin dipping in a nod of approval despite the fact that his approval is not necessary. "Sometimes the best people to have in charge are the people who don't want to be in charge." And a beat later, he asks curiously. "Do you know Ru'ien?" And there is no missing the warmth in his tone as he mentions the greenrider, or the smile that traces over his lips at the thought of him.

It's R'hyn's turn to blame his flush on exertion, the dead-straight focus of his gaze on needing to keep his feet, his momentary lapse in conversation on regulated breathing. "It does. It is," gets quieter as it goes, until, "I prefer it, too," is only just audible over their footfalls, an admittance that is just as pleasurably personal as Averil's own. It's more than he usually says, more than a good many get to hear, but true in a way that finds him needing to shake it off, if only for a moment. Descent into laughter is an excellent distraction, R'hyn's joining Avi's, blue-greys twinkling in the wan light as he hums and says, "Sounds like exactly the kind of thing a short person would say." Hands lift, patting the air before him, as though putting a wall between him and that look. "I'm just saying. I work with Risa every day. I know it when I see it." Somewhere in the world, the goldrider is reinventing voodoo if only to pay him back for that comment, but for now R'hyn heaves a sigh and, with some reluctance, says, "I have heard that, and it's something of a comforting sentiment. It's just— one of those things. You never know if you've made a difference until it's too late, and by then it's history." And intent versus the story history tells are always two different things. "How do you think we're doing? Is Xanadu everything you dreamed of and more?" It's an attempt to make light of a heavy truth, a return of impishness hinting that the candidate need not answer with any kind of truth. As for Ru'ien: "I do," is tinted by a smile that acknowledges that shift of tone and expression, gaze roving over Averil's features anew. "Not well, regrettably, but Xermiltoth sired his green, so we've been acquainted. Why do you ask?"

Averil nods in response to R'hyn's admission, a smile flashing over his lips as they continue moving around the outside of the training grounds. He's not going to pry and he's sensitive enough to have not missed the quieter tones. Prodding at other people's business has never been his way. Still, he cannot help laughing at the tease, his lips twitching in a smirky moue. "You realize, being tall, you have further to fall if I trip you, right?" He wouldn't. Ever. But he'll certainly tease about it. "I haven't met her," he admits as his gaze sweeps back out to watch where they are going. "She was on the sands when we touched the eggs, but it would have been rude to…" Trailing off, he gives an airy wave of his hand, his expression turning wry at the thought of it. It's the question about Xanadu that has him immediately smiling broadly, pale grey eyes slanting a look in R'hyn's direction. "I met the man I love in Xanadu," he points out. "I'd say that settles it firmly on the top of my list of places worth being." After a moment, he adds in more serious tones. "It's beautiful here." Still, it's the answer regarding Ru'ien that has his smile warming, another glance slanting toward R'hyn's face. "He's one of my models. My favorite actually," he admits. "But don't tell him that, it'll go straight to his head." Winking, his smile remains as he returns his gaze to the front, his tones light. "When this is over I'm taking him to my seamstress in Ista. He needs a good corset and hers are the best."

Ever? Ever-ever? Not even if R'hyn drawls a slow, "I literally dare you"? Bet. Yet despite playfully narrowed eyes, he doesn't move away, doesn't rob Averil of the opportunity nor express any concern he thinks it'll actually come to pass. He keeps on keeping on, ferocity of his grin never dimming as he says, "I hope you get the chance, someday. She's a good person - one of the best." A thing he will fervently deny ever saying, should it ever come back around. His grin turns to laughter for the reason Xanadu is great, low and warm and touched with understanding despite its brevity. "I can see how that would create something of a bias," he admits, "but it is. Beautiful, I mean. We came from Half Moon, before, and while I miss it, there is nothing quite like this place." It is enough to send his gaze wandering, tracing over the cliffsides they're courting, looking hard, as though imagining many sweeps-worth of memorization of the nearby countryside. It takes the conversation about Ru'ien to ground him, brows tilting upwards before huffing quiet laughter. "I would never," comes with a cross of his heart, nose scrunching in response to Averil's wink. "I can see that, though. He has that poise about him." Whether that qualifies him for modelship, or corsetry, he does not say; perhaps it's even both, but the latter topic derails the thought before it can be said, breath catching before being ejected on a cough, steps stuttering until they are forcibly righted. "Ista," comes a little funny, too light, too casual, a potentially-awkward silence following before he says, "If, uh. If we know the same seamstress then yes, they are." And he's going to just leave it at that.

Averil snorts at the dare, laughter shining in his eyes. "And be responsible for the weyrleader breaking his hip? Sorry, Old man, not today." Not today, Sir! Not. Today. On the matter of Risali, he smiles quietly, the nod of his head assuring that things that will happen in thier own time. And Averil is perfectly happy to let that time come as it will. It is the last, though, that has him slanting a -look- at R'hyn, his lips twitching in a smile that is more then a little incredulous. "If you are patron of Frida's Fripperies…" What, Avi? What? Shaking his head, he just smiles broadly, a pleasant laugh spilling past his lips. "She makes all my dresses. All of them. I wouldn't dream of going to another seamstress. Course, her corsets are the true gems." And now, he's imagining R'hyn in a corset. And that, /that/ is an image that has him struggling not to smile even more broadly. "You'd look outstanding in a black leather underbust, maybe some thigh boots to go with…" Okay, so YES, /YES/ now he's playing dress the weyrleader in Drag in his head.

Oh. Ouch. That hurt R'hyn right in his heart-place, emphasized by a seizing of fingers around his sternum. "Old. Old man." Careful, Ryn, that's some nigh-on geezer wheezing you've got going there. He continues to express his utter aghastment in various pitches, tones, and huffing puffs, but never quite reaches the stage of needing to do something ridiculous to prove a point. Instead he finally heaves the gustiest of sighs, and says, "I suppose I'll have to ask for a cane for my next turnday, then. The kids will be delighted." Because they're all little savages, proclaims his squint, but suddenly Averil is slanting him a look and R'hyn is repressing a smile of his own, working hard to master the expression and failing based on the frequency of twitches and his inability to speak words without them gently warbling with ill-contained amusement. "I can neither confirm nor deny," he finally manages, "though I've a vest that laces up the back that I've been saving for the hatching feast, and perhaps if one were familiar with her work and happen to be in attendance, they might recognize it." It's quite possible his thoughts have traveled the same road, though whether of his own volition or at Averil's descriptive behest he can't quite say - what matters is the quality of that choked sound, one that says maybe the candidate is not so far off from things he's worn before, if only within the walls of his weyr. "I would, would I," is as bland as he can possibly make it, throat clearing, tongue working in his mouth as he mulls over things to say, none of them appropriate in the slightest, and so he goes with, "I can't speak to her dresses, but the friend that introduced me to her work is just as dedicated. It speaks a lot." Cue low laughter, awkward if only because this is almost certainly a rare subject for the bronzerider. "Anyways. I hope it is an enjoyable visit, when you do go. I am sure he will love it, and her."

Averil is delighted, far more delighted then he ever expected to be and it shows in the laughter shining in his eyes and the breathy laugh that spills past his lips. "I'm looking forward to taking him," he admits. "I need to get a few new corsets, myself." Particularly if he keeps up the fitness kick he's on. "You know I /do/ need more models. Ru'ien and I came up with the idea of doing a set of all male risque playing cards. Of course, he's going to be Lady Holder, but Dragons has been completely unclaimed. If," he adds with a wry smile. "You're interested. I assure you, I'm very professional." A little flamboyant but very professional. It's only a heartbeat later, that he adds. "I do family portraits, as well." Because R'hyn mentioned kids, of course. "The children don't even have to sit for them. I do sketches over the course of a few days and compose a painting from them." He might be a candidate, but his work is important stuff and he fully intends on continuing on. He does, however, add with a wink that is (maybe) just a little naughty. "Canes have their merits. Just sayin."

It speaks volumes of R'hyn's understanding that Averil will be professional that he says, "Usually I'm offered a drink before someone asks to take my clothes off," that droll sotto voce back in full force, though perhaps the jest is intended to soften the blow of his hard maybe in the form of, "but perhaps. It's not something I'd typically do outside of a gag gift, but it sounds entertaining, to say the least." It's not a no? Portraits, though - that's another story. Rampant amusement dims into something quieter, more pleasant, as though - were they not trying to keep up a pace, R'hyn might well go soft and squishy at the thought. "There are a lot of us," is warning, but perhaps not enough to brace Averil for the, "ten littles, even if the oldest aren't so little anymore." Ugh. "Maybe I am old," is bundled up in a chuckle, yet despite the shaking of his head, he says, "perhaps sketches though, or a series of individual portraits? It would be nice to have something like that." A piece of their smallness to keep when they aren't that anymore. "We should talk about that more in the future. The artwork, I mean," is said with a twitch-up grin, teeth bared, pointer fingers flicking one atop the other in a playful 'shameshameshame' gesture despite the fact that R'hyn clearly understood exactly what the candidate was implying. Alas, he has developed enough understanding of R'hyn's private life for one day, or so says the universe. Rukbat's influence is beginning to dominate the sky, and with her fiery spread comes a dull rush of wings, a rumbling growl preceding Xermiltoth's landing that blocks the easterly view. "Ah, well, it seems this is where I leave you," accompanies a drop out of running pace, feet thumping slowly to a halt, words divided up between quickened breaths. "All that fun and excitement we talked about earlier is coming for me." Woe for a weyrleading bronzerider! Still, he doesn't seem mad about it, grinning wide even as he backs towards his dragon. "Thank you for the company, Averil. Pushups, painting, soon," promised as Xermiltoth's agitated shifting earns a sigh and his full attention, words he offers the blackened beast too low to be heard as the pair moves into the weyr beyond the training grounds.

Averil doesn't mind the 'sort of' 'no, his smile easy and relaxed as he paces alongside the much larger man. "It's not for everyone," he admits. "Some people are comfortable with it, some not." And he's not the sort to press the issue. Instead, he smiles broadly at the number of children, his eyes warming. "Large families are the most fun to paint," he admits. "You get so much out of watching them interact. I would love to do it," he admits. "Just let me know." At the 'shameshameshame', he exhales another laugh, pale eyes crinkling at the corners as he meets it with and Oh-so-innocent look. It is the arrival of the bronze that has him slowing his pace, his chin dipping in a nod as he walks a few steps before leaning over to brace his hands on his knees. "Thank you, for the company, as well," he assures. "It was a lot of fun having someone to run with." At the mention of pushups and paintings he nods and straightens to offer a playful salute, his arms immediately crossing over his chest in a slow stretch as he watches the pair depart.

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