A Star to Steer Her By


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trek's over.

~John Masefield

Vega Run

A large trader’s ship, the Vega Run is a sleek sailing sloop capable of slipping with speed through the waves of the sea even when heavily loaded. Tall masts, graceful sails, ropes and rigging, a skilled crew and open seas that beckon her, the Vega Run is poised to fly.

It is quite dark, middle of the night somewhere out at sea, a gentle movement sways the cabin in which Thea and D'had share on board the Vega Run. In the berth, Thea lies awake with lips pressed together, trying not to move or awaken the man beside her. Finally she cannot help it, she stirs, turning on her side, under her breath there is a mumbled, "Breathe," to herself.

D'had is quite comfortable, or at least it could hardly seem any other way with the way he's sprawled across the bed. There's room enough for Thea if she doesn't mind lying relatively close. After all, bed space on the ship is limited particularly in comparison to what might be found at the weyr.

Thea would be comfortable, in spite of the sprawling man beside her, arms and legs wherever they've wound up if not for, well something that keeps her awake. Fine beads of perspiration form on her brow, as she swallows repeatedly. She lies there after that one shifting move, listening to the unfamiliar creaking of the wood, taking her own advice trying to breathe regularly, deep, steadying breaths.

D'had turns, an arm falling over across Thea in the process. He stirs, barely, or maybe he's just making noise in his sleep. But something somewhere doesn't feel right and while it might take a few minutes more for him to come into that realization fully he does wake. "You alright?" he asks quietly, sleepily, after simply watching in the darkness for a bit.

Thea winces as that arm falls across her stomach, not that it fell all that hard, but still. She reaches for it and is in the process of lifting his arm carefully, shifting it to rest on her hip instead, still hoping not to awaken D'had. Alas! His words tell her she has failed. "Mmhm. Go back to sleep." She scoots back against his side. After a moment she adds, "Just a bit queasy is all." If seasick is the word, she's not using it, likely doesn't know what it is.

D'had smirks, though the way they're laying it goes unseen by the junior. Then again it might just be heard in his voice. "That all," a touch of teasing there as he slides out of bed. So much for going back to sleep. "I'll get ya somethin' ta eat," he adds, having fallen back into that pattern of speech that much of his family uses.

Thea sits up when D'had slides out of bed, bumping her head on the ledge above their berth as she does so. A soft, "Ow" of protest as she rubs the spot. Oh and yes, she heard that amusement in his voice, so she lobs one of the pillows at where she thinks he's standing. "Ha, very funny. Lucky I didn't upchuck on you while you slept." She pauses, grabbing the sides of the bed as ship tilts slowly, then curls back on her side with a groan. "Dizzy. I didn't feel this way up on deck. Why's that?" Then a cautious, "Ya really think food will help?"

D'had winces for her for that bump, and that pillow catches him just as he turns back. "Dunno," he replies for the why. He's not the one who's seasick, not something he's had to worry about himself. "Can't hurt any," he adds for the food, disappearing shortly only to return a few minutes later with a handful of crackers from the galley. He slides back down onto the edge of the bed, ducking to hopefully avoid hitting his own head. "Here," he says, handing one over, "Try this."

Thea remains curled on her side until D'had leaves, then sits up again, sliding out of bed to feel around in the dark for her wrap, donning it and tying the belt. She sways as the ship moves under her again, grabbing for the edge of the berth to steady herself. She's standing there as D'had returns, sits beside him, using his shoulder to steady herself lest she wind up pitching into his lap instead. "Thanks," she says for the cracker, nibbling obediently and trying to sit stiffly without moving back and forth with the ship. After a moment, she asks, "Can we go up on deck?"

D'had sits in silence, listening to the sounds of the ship while she nibbles. He raises a brow for that question and then shrugs. "Don't see why not," he replies, standing again. "That helpin?" he goes on to question, realizing he hasn't checked on that yet either. Not that it's been that much time, but really he should have asked before falling asleep. Right?

"Not yet," Thea admits reluctantly, adding sheepishly, "I thought some fresh air might help. But if you want to go back to sleep, I can manage." She rises carefully, clinging to that shelf above the bed, an arm out to feel her way across the dark cabin. Curiously, "How do you walk with it moving like this?" The deck underneath them is moving, but it's not all that much. More of a slow rise and lowering than a roll as it was in the smaller sailboat back at Xanadu. As it comes up underneath her, Thea murmurs, "I feel heavy one minute-" the deck drops and she flails, "Now really, really light." He can't see her, but she's got her eyes squeezed shut, although her tone will certainly give her away. She's definitely out of her element.

D'had nods, "It'll get better," he assures. Not that he's necessarily 100% on that. It might, it might not, depends on the person really after all. He reaches out a hand to steady her though. "Just .." How to explain. "Let it move." When you're just used to it, it works.

Let it move! "Not like I can stop it, Donn." Thea's tone is half-amused and half-perplexed. She does cling to that hand he offers but her body is all stiff, braced against the movement under her. She leads the way to the door, feeling her way to the narrow passage, but here she pauses. "Which way?" She whispers it so as not to awaken the others.

D'had chuckles. "Don't fight it," he teases quietly, pointing towards the right at the question of where to go. "Let it move." That said again he shifts his hands to her shoulders, giving them a light squeeze. "Relax." Likely easier said than done.

Thea tries, she really does, relaxing enough that the next shift underneath her feet has her shoulder thudding against the wall. "If I could see how you're doing it…" she grumbles this under her breath as she turns right, one hand on the wall. Her shoulders under his hands are still tense with her efforts as she climbs the stairs to the deck. Once there, she waits for him to direct her and of course, she's reaching a hand for him since there is no handy wall to lean against. She catches sight of the stars and moonlit waves. "Ohh…" It's a sigh of pure pleasure.

D'had chuckles again, following her up onto the deck and making sure to be there for her to hold on to to keep her balance. "You'll get the hang of it," he assures, leading the way over to the short flight of stairs that leads up to the upper deck, there finding a seat and pulling her down beside him. With nice weather and being night they shouldn't be in the way at all.

Thea half-smiles, "Easy for you to say, being born to it and all." She does hang onto his arm, and leaning against him, she can feel how he's walking. "Oh, you're-" She eyes his legs in the dim starlight, "It's in the hips." Well, she tries, but this is something that must come with practice, for she's just at odds with the ship's movement. Although she hasn't eaten one singe cupcake tonight, she might as well have for the way she's staggering. Once seated, she curls up beside D'had, snuggling into his side, eyes on the water. Silent for a time, she asks quietly, "Are you glad you came?"

"I guess," D'had replies with a shrug. Like she said, born to it and all. "You'll get used ta it," he replies, "Kinda like riding a runner, or so I've heard." Because him and runners are not exactly friends. He wraps an arm around her, quiet for his own moment after that question before he answers with a slight nod. "Yeah. You?"

Thea shudders, a movement likely he can feel under his arm, "Runners!" The way she spits the word out, there's something there. She doesn't go into it, however. Instead she tilts her head at him; his tone has her curious, "You ever ridden one of them?" His pause to answer about being glad he came has her brow quirking and she draws a quick breath, opens her mouth to say something, thinks the better of it and then closes it, turning her head to gaze out at the sea. For a moment there is no sound but the rush of the water past the hull and the slap of canvas above them. Very quietly, she asks, "You're sure? It's not bringing back bad memories to you?" She turns to watch his face in the dimness as best she can while he answers, then nods finally in answer to him, "Like your family lots."

D'had shakes his head, "Nope." Beat. "Well.. once." But the way he says it it’s that sort of 'don't ask' reply. "Don't sound like you like 'em none…" He repeats that pause again, nodding in the end. "Yeah, I'm sure. Makin' new ones," he replies leaning over to press a kiss to her forehead. "Glad your here."

Thea's lips quirk in a grin at that 'don't ask' tone, oh, but she's tempted! "Once for me too. Shardin' thing ran away with me." The half-laughter fades from her voice when she confirms, "Don't like 'em at all. One almost killed Kav once-" She closes her lips on the rest of that story, muttering instead, "Crazy beasts!" She's holding her breath for that pause, looks concerned in spite of his reassurances, but remains silent, choosing not to press him. Instead, she props her head back on his shoulder and looks at the stars beyond the sails, eyes drifting from zenith to horizon, breathing in wonder, "I've never seen the sky like this."

D'had chuckles, "Yeah, we don't see eye ta eye either," he replies of runners. A smile quirks his lips as she settles back into him. He too tips his head back to stare up at the sky. "Nice ain't it. None ‘a the lights like at the weyr and all that. Good clear night like this…" he trails off, sighing in contentment.

"Someday you'll have to tell me what happened with that runner." Thea nudges him with her shoulder, teasingly adding, "I'll make sure you've had some of D'son's good whiskey first." As to his question, "Yeah, it is," she agrees with a sigh of her own. Relaxed now, she inhales the scent of the sea, watches the stars and just takes in the contentment of the man beside her. "You're different here," she observes finally, a smile curves her lips as she tips her head back enough on his shoulder to watch him through her lashes.

Here, with her, to him it’s the same, but she might notice differently. "Thanks," D'had chuckles, falling quiet again for awhile. "Been… a long time since I've been out here," he admits. "Glad you like it though. Get your look at the stars."

Thea finishes the thought she'd started a few moments ago, "You seem more… at peace and… " she searches for the way to say it, "comfortable." A sidelong look at him at his mention of a long time, "Surprised you ever left it. Did Search tempt you so?" She obediently turns her head to watch the night sky, allowing that silence to stretch on for a time. The creaking of planks, the splash of water in their wake takes up where voices left off. Her eyes lower to the vast darkness out over the sea surrounding them, "It makes me feel so small… and sort of lost."

D'had shrugs, "Was curious I guess, never thought I'd actually impress," he says of search. "Figured it'd be a chance to see inland for abit, make some connections." Meet some girls who hadn't already smacked him. "Yeah?" he questions, turning a look towards Thea that holds a hint of confusion for that last statement. "Think its relaxing, nothin' but the open sky for miles."

Seeing inland. Thea lifts her head to give D'had a stare - she saw his reaction to those mountains that were her home, after all. It's the connections bit that has her looking enlightened, a loud laugh escapes her and she claps a hand to her mouth. Oops? Hopefully she didn't wake anyone. "Never thought you would impress? Musta been some shock." More of a shock than being smacked by a whole new set of girls. Her eyes return to the horizon, "Lost in a good way." Trying to explain the concept, "Outside of… me. And the things that press on me. Free."

D'had shakes his head, lifting a shoulder in a half shrug. "No…" he turns a glance towards her, confused and perhaps a touch offended by that burst of laughter. "What's so funny bout that?" he questions in all seriousness. But her explanation finds a nod from him. "Yeah.." he agrees, "Kinda like that." Beat. "Glad it’s nice. You can see the star."

Even by that faint starlight Thea can see the offended look she's been given. She waves a hand to indicate the ship, the sea, and tries to explain, "I was remembering how uneasy you were back at Cold Stone and was thinking-" Her voice carries a hint of teasing, "-it must have taken more than a dragon to lure you from all this." She shifts, to give him a look of apology, links her arms around his neck, resting her forehead against his, "Please don't be mad. I was remembering how you used to be, and you know… girls on the sands in short white robes distracting you and then… Surprise! Hello - Siebith!" The star he had said. She looks up, blinks at the myriads of stars overhead for a minute before looking back to him. "Which star?"

D'had chuckles. "Ain't mad at ya none," he replies with a grin, pulling her to him. "Somethin' like that though, yah. Where I met Ash an them…" And maybe he shouldn't say anything more about it. Yes, she knows how he was, but still no reason to talk about it any more. "Stars, meant stars," he corrects himself, turning from her to glance up again. "But there," he points, "that one we use ta help navigate.."

A breath of relief escapes Thea as he pulls her to him, "I'm glad." Because him mad at her is just something she couldn't bear for long. There's naught but a nod as to how he was; the past doesn't bother her. She just grins back, shifts to sit on his lap since she is nearly in it anyway and tilts her head up to see the one he's pointing at. "That bright one there?" She glances back down to him for confirmation. "Does it have a name? I was gonna ask how you steer the ship at night. Who's driving anyway?" So she doesn't use the proper terms for sailing, she can be excused since she's neither a sea nor a star crafter, yes?

D'had drops his hand once she's seen where he was pointing, wrapping arms around her waist as she settles on his lap. "Don't really know the names," he admits. "Just where they are and where they lead. But yeah that bright one there." He turns a glance towards the wheel. "Pa probably." He's not correcting her on the terms though.

"Polaris?" Thea says uncertainly after a few minutes of silence. "Yeah, Polaris. Kav-" an apologetic glance at D'had, "-he was a starcrafter. He told me once the names of some of them." She squints at the star, "Dunno if that's the one or not." Back to D'had, "So… all night you sail, huh? Can't drop anchor to sleep? Where are we going anyway?" She too, turns to look towards the wheel, but it's too dark for her to see. The gentle pitch and roll of the ship, almost hypnotic, lulls her into an almost-dreamy state. "Can see why you find this so relaxing," she murmurs, eyes half-closed.

"Sounds right," D'had replies, a subtle frown crossing his features at the mention of the starcrafter. "But yeah, someone's gotta watch the wheel, make sure we're on course. Otherwise hard ta say where ya are in the mornin'."

Thea is watching the stars at the far edge of the horizon so misses that touch of a frown on D'had's face. She's at peace, serene here and now with him on this ship and with her life. "I see. Makes sense then if all you have are the stars." She rests her head on his shoulder and falls silent then, until she quietly recites, "’I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by-‘ my ma read that to me when I was-" She stops suddenly, her head lifting to peer down at her stomach with widened eyes. "Here!" She grabs one of D'had's hands and places it on the barely-there curve of her stomach. Beneath the palm of his hand is the tiniest of flutters.

D'had nods just a bit, resting his chin on her shoulder as he stares out at the line that would be the horizon and the stars that rise above it. "When you were-" he starts only to have his hand jerked to her stomach causing him to nearly jump as he blinks. "Are you-" he starts again, but he does feel it. Maybe? "That..?" what he thinks she was trying to show him.

Thea raises her head slowly to meet D'had's eyes, wonderment in hers. "Yeah," she breathes, her hand still rests atop his. She doesn't need her hand there to feel it, after all. Watching him for his reaction, "Can you feel that? The babe…" Then more cautiously, "You'd know that, though, yeah? Being through this three times before?" She tries not to sound as if it matters so much that he is as pleased as she is and perhaps she is able to hide it from him? Maybe, maybe not. Still, it's the first time for her and she's amazed by it, a smile of delight - and relief - curves her mouth.

"Yeah.." D'had replies slowly. "I think so…" He's not sure, but he thought he felt something there. There's surprise and uncertainty in his reaction. Questioning. "Have I told you how wonderful you are lately?"

Thea blinks at that and looks back up at D'had with a bemused sort of smile, the ice green of her eyes reflecting starlight back at him as they crinkle, "Um, no?" It's not that she's objecting, it's more like a 'what-brought-this-on' sort of tone. She nudges him with one shoulder, "I'm not wonderful, though. I'm just me." There's more fluttering going on down there under his palm, but it's so faint it's like butterfly wings or something. "It's… alive. The healers said if I felt movement, that fall I took probably didn't hurt it." Her relief is obvious. She'd hidden her worry over it.

D'had's lips turn up into a slight quirk of a grin, his signature half smile. Hand on her belly gives a gentle rub. "Well ya are. Wonderful I mean. Glad ya came out here with me. Could show ya the stars. Ain't much I know, but.." he shrugs, giving a light hug. "Good that you're feelin' 'er move then. You still goin' ta see 'em when you're suppose to. Yeah?"

Thea leans to see D'had's eyes in the darkness, not an easy thing to do since they are as dark as the night. "Thank you." It's whispered before she places gentle lips on his and gives him a brief kiss. Leaning back, "Aw, Donn, it is too a lot. It means everything to me that you brought me here… to meet your family… to see where you grew up… how you lived. Rather have this than presents and… stuff." She snuggles her head back down on his shoulder, but tilts her head so she can still see his face, a teasing smile for him, "Her? Might be a he, you never know." She nods reluctantly about the healers, "Yeah, if I -have- to." She yawns, "Suppose we should sleep, or tomorrow they'll be on us for lookin' so tired." A light laugh, "You were sleeping better here than you'd been back home, before I woke you up."

"Yeah.. well…" D'had replies, he'll go with it and not argue. He returns that kiss until she pulls back, curling arms around her once again. "Glad ya like it," he adds smiling down at her. "Suppose, can stay up and watch the stars if ya like though. Can sleep as late as we want in the morning."

Well, in that case… since they can sleep late and she cannot get enough of the stars anyway… One of Thea's hands lifts, a finger traces his lower lip, "Still like your smile," she tells him (and no cupcakes needed this time for her to say it!) But, right! The stars! She slides her arms around D'had, settling back down into him, turns her head to watch the skies. The gentle rocking of the ship, the rhythmic sounds of waves and wind, creaking of wood and ropes a soothing background to this peaceful night. And if she falls asleep here, he'll just have to wake her up or carry her back to their berth.

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