==== January 13th, 2014
==== E'don, T'ral
==== E'don and T'ral sort some things out. Ish.

Who E'don, T'ral
What E'don and T'ral sort some things out. Ish.
When (Backscene) A seven or two after the rogue Fall at Keroon.
Where Southern Weyr

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living_caverns.jpg

Living Caverns
Grand and spacious, the cavern curves high aloft in naturally-vaulted ceiling that soothes any sense of claustrophiba. Rich woods line the cavern floor, varnished and stained a rich mahogany, while round tables scatter about candlelit and intimate. The largest table lies southerly next the sideboard, long trestles that seem oriented to providing for the weyr's youngest. The rich blue of Azov can be seen from a distance in good weather, when the heavy stone doors covering the entrance are allowed to stand open.


It's been a few days since Keroon and thread fall. To say the mood amongst Southerners is tense would be an understatement, but no truer are those words than within the Catmint wing. E'don had been moody since Cerise had been confined to the dragon infirmary and has taken to keeping himself occupied in public places to cope with the aftermath. Tonight is no exception; the bronze rider is seated at one of the uncrowded tables, picking idly at his plate of food with one hand as he shifts hidework with the other. Lips worry as he chews and glances, once in a while alternating to scribble something down with a pencil. At the very least, the bronze rider isn't channeling his worries into more destructive habits.

Since their exchange at the infirmary some days ago, T'ral has been giving E'don a wide berth. Today, the tables are crowded and the bluerider isn't up to making nice to strangers. So he can make not-nice to a not-stranger. T'ral takes a deep breath. "Wingsecond." T'ral's greeting is formal. Rules of the mess dictate that he is not required to salute when arms are laden with food, but he does request, "Permission to sit."

E'don takes a momentary pause in reading one of the hides to glance sidelong, up at T'ral, giving the blue rider a moment of consideration before motioning to the empty spot, assumably across the table from him. "Yeah, sure, go'head." The bronze rider takes another bite of the roll he's eating, before turning idly back to his hide work. There's a good minute of silence, before the bronze rider glances up with a exuded air of apathy across the table. "How's Esanth?" He questions distracted as he pulls another hide towards him. "You're ribs alright?"

T'ral puts down his plate and sits, economy in the movements, but mostly exhaustion. He's still favoring his side. He snaps a napkin, settling in his lap. "Miserable." Esanth's distress at Jiamoth's injury wasn't a secret. T'ral did what he could. But until Jiamoth came through… The weyrling's eyes are dark-circled. Not a good sleeper anyway, the only thing that's been getting T'ral to sleep through Esanth's deep worry has been working himself even stupider. "Side's fine. Superficial." He stabs at the food on his plate, no energy put into making a good show of manners. He's on the verge of asking after Qianvaelth going as far as opening his mouth to ask the automatic and obvious question, but rather clamps his mouth shut and looks bleakly at his plate. Food. Stuffed into mouth. Chewed. Drink. Swallowed. Repeat.

"She'll be fine." To which E'don refers, Jiamoth or Cerise isn't elaborated on, and he takes another bite of his roll with a upward, twitch of a shrug. The chew is thoughtful though, and the rider is giving T'ral another side glance over the table. "Make sure he's eating, and not focusing all of his time on Jiamoth's condition. I don't think it'd be healthy." It's not like E'don knows any better of the advice he's giving, but the weyrling is banking on his knot to push forward the airs of authority. "We have to keep healthy and up with our drills." That's more a statement than an order, and E'don lapses back into tense silence, dragging another hide over. "Qian's doing fine."

T'ral nods. He's said as much about Jiamoth already. Cerise would be fine if Jiamoth was fine. Right? About Esanth, he's been doing that -making sure Esanth eats. It was good advice. The first that Arianne and Nika both had given him when they'd learned of Esanth's preoccupation. If not for Esanth's drive to hunt for Jimaoth -ovines, only ovines- he wasn't sure he'd have been able to be able to get the little blue out of the ground weyr. "Yes, Sir." T'ral says, flat. "No, Sir." It's not healthy. It's troubling is what it is. And I'm about out of ideas on how to deal with it. More shifting and shoving of food. More drink. T'ral's eyes flick up to E'don's, relief at his report on Qianvaelth. He'd surely have seen Qianvaelth in the infirmary had the wounds been grievous, but word is good. He nods. Stabbing, shoving more food.

There’s an audible sigh that comes from E’don’s side of the table, an exasperated and tired huff that happens as the bronzerider grinds his palms fitfully into his eyes. “Stop.” He grits this out fitfully, pulling his hands down his face. If the guy had been trying to keep his composure, it’s a short lived endeavor. “T’ral, there’s a fine line-” He pauses to let out another guttural sigh. “-I know you don’t think I’m the most competent of riders out there with this knot. But I rather you respect my rank without making it sound like you’re having to eat a shit sandwich while you do it.” He finally turns back to his meal again, taking a small bite out of his roll once again. “Cut out the ‘yes sir’ crap.”

The 'sirs' aren't snide or delivered with ill grace. But there's been a stiff, clipped precision to the bluerider's interactions with the Wingsecond since the weyrlings had returned to Southern after the bloody out of phase Threadfall. T'ral places his flatware on the table alongside his plate and folds his hands, "Permission to speak candidly, Sir?" The young rider's eyes are earnest. He'd just been ordered to drop the 'sirs' but what he's fixing to say will probably test the bounds of that order, and so the extra propriety.

“Yeah, sure.” E’don response is droll and he meets T’ral’s earnest look with his own exasperated, tired look, lips dipping downward. “Ga’wan.” He motions with a flick of his wrist, at the bluerider with a grunt, leaning back in his chair to await his response. And then quickly, there’s a look, a rise of the bronzerider’s eyebrows in displeasure. He heard that.

T'ral fixes E'don with a steady, hard look, "When have I ever undermined you or your leadership? Or stepped over that 'fine line?'" T'ral's eyes flash with anger and he holds up a finger, "Once. After Keroon." In the infirmary. When everything was crashing and falling apart. And not in disrespect, either. He continues, "What I think about you having that knot has nothing to do with anything. It only matters that I follow orders and respect the chain. 'There is rank, and I need to respect it,' right?" Yeah. T'ral didn't like how that had gone down. His eyes are unwavering. "All I've ever done is bust my hump for you and the wing and the Weyr." He sits back abruptly, chair legs giving hollow wooden hoots with the force, wincing as the motion tugs at the still-healing score in his side, "So you'll pardon me if I've retreated far enough back so that I don't make the mistake of thinking we're friends and accidentally step over that fine fucking line." He breaks the steady look and stares at the table, sad or angry or… it's complicated.

“Oh yah— respect, something you just do naturally, right?” E’don’s response comes back grated and condescending, but albeit, tired. And as if the bluerider is missing the entire point of what E’don is trying to convey. “Look.” He leans forward in his seat, resting his elbows slack against the table, hands splayed out in front of him. “I can barely get a girl to look at me, and you think I’m a bit of an idiot. I get that.” He ticks one forefinger against the other for point. “So the least you could do T’ral, the least is to not make me feel any dumber than I already do m’self.” He leans back into his chair, giving a tired, dismissive wave to the bluerider’s loyalties. “Yes, you’re a better rider than me, I know. You deserve this knot. But just—” E’don palms his cheeks before dragging hands down with a labored sigh. “I’m doing the best I can, okay?”

"Work is something I do naturally." Job needs done. Job gets done. "Respect… I respect honesty, E'don. And you've always been that," he squints at the bronzerider, leaning forward, elbows on his knees. It puts his chin low, not far off the table, "Honest about trying to squirrel out of things. Honest about trying to get lai- off with a girl. Honest about supporting Yules and Cerise. Honest about…" He shrugs, "Everything. It's…" he grimaces, ugh, does he really need to say this, "It's your best quality. No farce with you." He cocks his head, "I thought the 'masters were crazy for giving you that knot. But they weren't. It was just what you needed." He sits up straight, "For the record: when they gave that knot to you, it was about the only thing I respected. And I was jealous. I had to sit with that. And learn to give room to someone else whose dedication I questioned." The 'masters were geniuses. He looks up, earnest again, "It suits you now. You've earned it." His jaw bunches, "Especially after Keroon."

The muscles of E’don’s neck bunch as he pulls a tense, straight face, his lips flattening with a half-nod. “Yeah, thanks.” It’s a meek, embarrassed response, and he taps the table with an open palm as he lets the idea sink in. “I appreciate it, T’ral.” There’s one of those manly, awkward throat clearing, the proverbial building of that emotional wall that E’don puts up, and he lets out a soft, dismissive chuckle. “Just don’t flaunt Prym around either, yeah? You make the whole wing jealous.” He raps his knuckles against the table in a move towards levity and he’s pulling himself up from his seat. “I better head out. Thanks for the talk. I’ll see you ‘round.” And in that ever diminutive salute, the bronzerider is moving off towards the exit.

T’ral’s serious evaluation of E’don turns quizzical at the younger man’s consternation. Sensing an end to the conversation and not wanting to look head-on at E’don’s discomfort, he pulls the plate of food back to himself. He nods at E’don thanks. He smiles and is about to give a non-regulation friendly salute when E’don throws out the comment about Prymelia. “Flaunt?” His surprise is clear by the furrowed brows and mild affront. When had he ever flaunted anything? Enjoying something was not flaunting. And then with a little salute of his own, the bronzerider is moving off. Deep in puzzlement, staring at his plate, it takes a moment for T’ral to notice that E’don left his hides. The bluerider looks up to call the Wingsecond, but E’don is gone. So much for not feeling stupid. T’ral gathers the hides together, wolfs down his meal and heads to E’don’s weyr, with a stop at his own weyr on the way. He had something to drop off for the Wingsecond anyway. A very-belated graduation present. It was good to fly a little, right? Not let those wounds heal up ground-bound.

A short while later…

T’ral and Esanth are backwinging to land on Qianvaelth’s ledge. The ledge and weyr’s occupants are not in evidence. The blue is more gray than usual, his backwinging perfunctory, enough to not crash and land soft enough not to break open T’ral’s score. Settling into down into a sphinx pose, the blue folds his wings with a snap, a dry rustling of lament and then waits… eyes pale, as off as his hide. The bluerider sits atop the dusty blue dragon, fidgeting a moment. The hides he’d brought -which E’don had forgotten- weren’t likely to be greeted happily. He shakes his head and dismounts. It’s awkward with the long, raw wound in his side. It burns and he hisses, hitching, teeth gritted. He fishes the two bundles out of his bags and turns towards the weyr and leaves them just to the side of the entrance where they aren’t likely to be missed.

E’don,

Thought you’d want these. The other thing was supposed to be a ship’s clock, but I didn’t realize they cost so much. I got the closest thing I could. Belated congratulations on graduation and your appointment to Wingsecond.

+T’ral

The other bundle:

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