Linden, Veresch


Linden takes Veresch back to Ista for a visit.


It is midmorning of the seventh day of the twelfth month of the first turn of the 12th pass.


Ista Weyr

OOC Date


When Linden asked him if they could take a girl back to Ista, at first D'ren said sure. The trio rode Aikuonath through smooth skies and emerging high above Ista, rider and dragon visibly relaxed to be back home. The island and sea spread out before them in the morning's first rays of sun, pink fading from the horizon as they began to circle down towards the bowl. Sandwitched between D'ren and Veresch on the bronze, Linden turned his head to smile at Veresch and see how she was doing so far.

For the two of them, it's coming home. For Veresch, however, it's seeing her home after four hundred and odd turns, and the emotional impact is massive. She's still quiet for a few seconds after they pop out from Between, but her face gets successively whiter as they spiral down and long-forgotten pieces make themselves known to her. One hand lifts from the straps to fist against her chest, as if the place behind her heart where all emotions live is stinging, hurting, contracting in on itself. Moments later her head droops, and she has to blink very hard to get tears to flow away rather than fall.

Linden senses that, he sees it in her and hesitantly he reaches back to touch her knee and give it a squeeze. Aikuonath circles and lands with a powerful backwing in the bowl, crouching to let D'ren dismount first. Twisting in the straps, Linden looks at Veresch. "You want to go back?" he whispers softly.

There's a gulp of effort at the squeeze to her knee; Veresch looks up with a fierce expression and shakes her head intently. "No," she says a bit hollowly. "No, I don't want to go home." A part of her is home now, see? As Aikuonath lands and D'ren dismounts, she waits her turn to slither down and murmur a respectful "Thank you, sir," to Linden's father. Reaching up to scrub at her face with small hands, she sets her shoulders. No crying. At least get to somewhere especially beloved before falling apart. "I'm okay. Lead on, Mr. Guide."

Linden slides down first and offers her a hand, well trained by his father in the etiquette of riding dragons and carrying passengers. D'ren dips his head to the teen with a gentle smile, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket to offer to her. "My pleasure, young lady." Then he turns to stride off towards the Living Caverns. Aikuonath remains where he is, watching the pair curiously. Reaching up, Linden gently touches his hide and then extends his hand to Veresch. "I always go to the beach first," he admits.

Given the handkerchief, Veresch mutters her thanks for that too and scrubs rather more successfully at her face, reddish eyes turning green irises penetratingly bright and (unfortunately) her skin rather blotchy. Swallowing, she reaches out slowly to take the boy's hand and gives a few steps forward, nodding to him. Her eyes close half-mast, her face lifts to breathe in the humidity, taste the salt tang in the earth. Memories churn, deep and dark. "Let's," she whispers back. "I need someplace a little private. Without other couples."

Linden squeezes her hand gently and gives her a warm and understanding smile. He'd never want to go back to High Reaches. For a lot of reasons. "Okay." Wait. Couple? They're a couple? GLancing down at their hand, the teen grins privately to himself and begins to lead her forward, his steps confident and sure.

Ista Weyr Beach…

If Veresch had understood what she had said, she would have denied it violently. As it is, misunderstandings will happen. For the moment she clings to the boy's hand as they walk the path down to the beach, and when she sees it there's another swallow. Her hand drops from his and she slowly undoes her boots and pulls off her socks, then rolls up her pants. She wanders into the sea then, slowly, almost in a daze, until she's ankledeep in the hissing waves, and tears are welling over her cheeks faster than she can rub them off. "I've missed it. I've missed it so much."

Linden scans the beach. It doesn't seem to be too busy right now, this hour of the morning. Letting her hand go, he also crouches down to remove his boots and socks, hoisting them over his shoulder as he follows after her. "Yeah," he agrees softly, wading in and watching her, and then turning his face to the waves and close his eyes, breathing deeply.

It takes some time for Veresch to have her cry, and it's neither quiet nor neat. D'ren won't be getting his handkerchief back for some time. When she's done, she's even more splotchy and red, a bit of a fright to look at, but there's a measure of calm in her eyes as she stares out at the waves. Gulping back the last of the tears, she casts her attention hither and yon, trying to get her bearings again after so many years gone. Her toes play, sink into the black sand, and her feet work at it until she's ankle-deep. "You live here all the time? You're very lucky. Or d'you think your mother's going to move to Igen permanently?"

Linden waits it out, because there's no place he'd rather be than at the beach anyway. He glances at her, and privately doesn't think she looks /that/ bad. He offers her a warm smile when she speaks. "Yeah. When we came forward we were in Igen for a bit with all the other oldtimers, but then we moved here. Mom might stay in Igen, I don't know, but…" He shrugs. "I live with Dad."

She retreats slowly until she's at a spot where the sand's dry enough to flop down on. Landing with a thunk, she wiggles herself a nice perch and concentrates on Linden, frowning slightly. "Can't imagine what it's like to live like that, you know?" she finally says. "I'm not dependent on my parents any longer, but at least I have both of them in the same place. Still… I'd live with my dad as well." She pauses to consider her words. "I wish I could say Igen's a nice place against this, but… Igen's so dry."

Linden meanders after her and flops down as well, his hands automatically digging into the sand to start creating a hole. "It's…" The teen shrugs. "I dunno. When we were in Reaches my parents were both there. But then Dad and I came forward, and we didn't think Mom had. So it was just the two of us for most of my growing up, y'know? Then Mom actually /had/ come forward so…" He holds up a hand, tilting it back and forth. "Everything's kind of wobbly right now." Figuring it all out and how he feels about it all. "Yeah, you too? I like living with Dad. Mom's…" He trails off and then grins. "Well you know." He looks out at the water and breathes deeply. "My lips bled the first seven I stayed there." Dry dry /dry/.

Veresch grimaces, nods. "Same here," she mutters. "But my father had this kind of grease made from ovines - don't ask me how - and that helped until my skin adjusted." Going from sea to desert — never a good idea. "My mom's a terror like Prineline, they're friends. I try to stay out from underneath her feet wherever possible. "D'you have any brothers and sisters beyond Roslin? I mean, as far as I know Linny's her mother too." Pause. "Speaking of, how's she doing?"

Linden's nose wrinkles. "From ovines?" Gross. "My dad made me this stuff…I kind of think he just took Aik's oil and put some junk in it, but it works alright." He continues to dig until he reaches damp sand, and starts to pile that beside the hole. "I've heard about Prineline," he murmurs. "What does your mom do?" As for brothers and sisters, he shakes his head. "Mom's got three kids but I'm Dad's only. She's doing better. Going to get out of the Infirmary soon, and the Healers don't think she'll lose her hand." The relief is palpable in the teen's expression and voice.

"My mom?" Veresch grimaces. "She's Prineline's one assistant - one of the other reasons I walk carefully around her. Until recently she was very fond of grabbing me when she thinks I'm not busy, and making me do whatever she neds someone for. It's only when I became the assistant that she stopped, and thank goodness, or I would have gone mad." There, the first smile of the day shot to him, a small curling of her lip. "Some people probably wish that she could have been grounded through it somehow," she mutters. "If you have any idea how often I've heard that queens are only there to lay eggs… makes me want to punch someone in the nose."

Linden ahs, wincing a little bit as he begins to build a sand hold, starting with walls made of the damp sand he dug from the bottom of the hole. "Yeah, my parents do that to me too. As if I'm going to run off and light something on fire if I have a spare second. I mean, that one time wasn't on /purpose/." He grins. But then he snorts, shaking his head. "I mean, I can get if a weyr just has one gold left, but…queens…they /fly/.

"Golds don't need their riders to fly in mating flights," Veresch mutters sulkily. "In a queen's wing, she'd have to have both hands to work a flamethrower." She shakes her head, hair flipping in the breeze, and turns to scoot closer to the sand fort in progress. Hesitantly, looking at him for permission, she starts scooping up sand as well — the creative effort'll be his, but at least there'd be enough sand to play with, and perhaps build a retaining wall, or caldera. "I wish I was older," she says clearly. "These days it feels like I'm angry at everyone, because they all don't think."

Linden nods. "That's true, the flamethrower…" He frowns. "Shards. I wonder if she'll ever fly Fall again?" And he's conflicted with how he feels about that. Scooting a bit to make room, he smiles at her in thanks as he continues to build. "Older? What do you mean? So folks would listen to you more?"

"Nah, so that I have more strength when I pop them on the nose, of course!" Veresch says, laughing brightly despite the fact that she's probably mostly past her hitting phase, and definitely past her hair-pulling phase. "I dunno. Sitting here on the beach makes it all feel kind of without a point, you know?" She turns to watch the sea again, hands falling still for the moment. "Your mother'll fly 'falls again," she speculates. "Woman like her… bound to do whatever she wants."

Linden laughs. "It's all in how you throw the punch. Girls can throw /hard/ punches if you know how." He continues to build, looking over at her briefly, then at the sea he's always tried to not take for granted. "Makes what feel without a point?" Then there's a low snort from the boy. "She always does whatever she wants."

For a moment Veresch has a queer smile on her face; whe she speaks again, it's about something entirely different. "Do they still make those jam turnovers here? I'll go and fetch some for us if you're hungry; I could certainly use a bite to eat. I brought a little money along. 'Sides, your dad's dragon did the heavy lifting, so I have to pay you back for that. And for this idea. It was a good one."

Linden nods, "Yeah, they do. They're a little different Dad says," he feels like he has to warn her, "but they're still good. You don't have to do that though. Pay for them I mean. Just put it on my dad's tab." Linden is a bit sheltered, still.

"Your dad," Veresch says pertly, "is not going to pay for my turnovers. That'd just be wrong." Headstrong and obstinate, see? She turns to wander back up the beach, one hand already in her pocket to pull out the twist she keeps her money in today, when things turn to chaos. Those riders lounging low on the beach scramble up and away towards the weyr, and it's only by luck that she manages to catch one of them. She still disappears afterwards, but when she comes back it's to the tune of dragons mourning, and with a white face, and she's crying again. This time there's no end to it, and Linden's shoulder is borrowed to cry on. "Dead," she mutters inbetween. "One of the queens here. Threadfall."

Linden looks a bit startled at her pertinence, confused as to why his generosity seems to have insulted her. He doesn't follow her though, instead turning back to his sandhold with a thoughtful frown as he tries to work it out. The sudden shift in atmosphere is not missed and the teen looks up and around, eyes scanning the sky automatically for thread, and then watching for Aikuonath. When neither of those things come he turns back to his hold, only to let his shoulders slump and head bow as the keening begins. "A queen?" he whispers, his heart wrenching in his chest when Veresch returns. He slides his arm around her shoulders automatically, head leaning to rest against hers. "Who? But…" he blubbers a bit, sniffling, "but we were't supposed to fly today…" We. Ista.

There's a small wriggle to get comfortable, and whilst Veresch is still making use of the poor boy to lean and cry against, she's offering a shoulder for him as well, and two arms that link cramp-tight around his waist. "…I don't know," she manages to get out. "I don't know. Everything is chaos back there, so I didn't get much news… I am so sorry, Linden. So very sorry. I can't imagine how you're feeling now."

Linden shakes his head and hiccups softly as he cries, his arm squeezing around her as he leans back, head down, tears dripping on his tunic. "But…" He /knows/ them. He knows the queens of Ista. His dad knows them. They're not BFFs or anything but he knows them, he's helped them, run errands for them. He hiccups. "I'm sorry too. This…" sniff, "this was supposed to be a fun visit…"

It's that sense of loss that affects Veresch, and her tears dry up a bit, lost in the face of another's sadness. Mumbling something, she twists entirely and reaches up to ruffle his hair soothingly. "It's okay," she whispers. "It'll be okay. Shhh." Her fingers are gentle, and her hold gentles as well as she sinks down, taking them to the sand. "It was a lady called Saree. Your… senior?" That's probably why everyone's rushing around like headless geese, and she leaves him to draw his own conclusions. "It's okay. It's still okay. It'll be okay."

Linden hiccups. "It was Saree?" His voice is a thin whisper as he cries again, head down. "I…shouldn't…be…" He's fighting with himself. The grief of the weyr is pushing down on him, old enough to understand and /feel/ but not old enough to control it, he's just swept up in the weyr's grieving. The hair ruffling earns a slight twitch, but he doesn't move away from her. Deep breaths, deep breaths. In and out, and in a few moments he's mastered himself again and is sitting up straight, wiping his eyes with the backs of his hand. "There wasn't even Fall today…"

Veresch allows him to pull away if he wishes, and with a grunt she shares his father's handkerchief with him, staring out at the sea instead. "I dunno," she says, somewhat calmer herself. "The people said something about helping Telgar, that there was a really bad fall somewhere." Would the youth be okay, almost losing a mother and now losing a beloved, if distant leader as well? Unsure, she glances at him, then back. "I'm not sure what to say," she mutters against the sound of fading keening. "Cry, ok? It's stupid that guys don't cry."

Linden sits up but keeps his arm around her unless she protests it. Taking his father's handkerchief he squeezes it tightly and then uses it, at least turning his face away before he does. "Telgar…" That explains it, and the teen nods with a heavy sigh. "We're not supposed to," he mutters, tears still leaking out of his eyes even though he's no longer actively crying. "You don't have to say anything," he murmurs.

There's a small noise from the girl, a I-can-talk-if-I-want, before she gives up the ghost and just lets him be close. There's a long silence, most of it spent looking at the waves rolling calmly in and out, before she has the courage to speak again. "You know. I've not seen this beach in four hundred and… well, a bit Turns. And it looks exactly like it did. Not exactly, of course, but it still smells the same, and I know that tonight it'll have that funny green on the waves that shines at night, and…" There's a slow shrinking as posture is abandoned and she slumps forward under the embace. "But it's weird. It's no longer my home."

Linden knows she doesn't know what to say, and it's fine. He doesn't know what to say either. Looking up to the waves, he breathes in deeply and lets it go, nodding. His arm squeezes her gently. "Do you wish it was?" he asks quietly.

There's a swallow from her. "No," she says finally. "No, even if I were here fulltime, my brother would still be dead. He stayed with his family like he wanted to. I'm sure there are still a few of his descendents around here somewhere…" That last is vague as she blinks, shaking her head. "But I still have my mom and dad, and you still have yours. And you can hide out with us for a while at Igen whilst the weyr recovers, if you want?" She's not under the impression that it's going to be anything but difficult for Ista in the coming months. "Your mom will appreciate it, I'm sure."

Linden nods his head a little bit. "I'm sorry," he says quietly. Lifting his head, he looks around. "I'll bet there are…they have records, if you wanted to look. Lots of people have come to look up their families." As for his parents, Linden swallows thickly and nods. Riders. Both his parents are riders. And riders seem to die an awful lot. But he shakes off that thought. "Maybe," he admits. "I need to see what Dad needs…if he needs me here or if…" The teen shrugs. "If it'd be easier for him to not have to deal with me." He knows he's a handful sometimes. "Mom would, yeah…Ros would too maybe." But it's Igen…

But it's not Ista. That's a refrein that Veresch has lived with for so long that it's a wonder it's not engraved into her heart somehow. Perhaps it is. But there's one thing that she has to correct, at least. "If you were at all that much of a bother to your father, he wouldn't have brought you with, or allowed me to hitch a ride, I think." Her brow furrows as she turns to peer at him, reddened eyes and all. "My mother's the worst," she says bluntly. "Absolutely. But even though we fight like canines and felines, she'd never want me anywhere she couldn't take care of me. I'm sure it's the same with your dad." There's a sudden blink, as if a thought had crossed her mind. "How old are you?"

Linden shrugs a bit. "Not all the time, but sometimes I'll do something and he'll give me that look…" That 'You've disappointed me' look. "He's a good Dad. He…yeah. It was just us for a while…" But she knows that story. "Me? Fifteen. You?"

"Almost sixteen," she informs him with that mix of age-superiority and girl-superiority and pride that she's finally making it out of the teenaged grist-mill of emotions. Hopefully. "Well. In about two months and a few days." Her brow knits as she quickly counts down on her fingers, then nods. "Yeah, about that long. But if you're fifteen, you're about old enough to start a trade of your own if you want? A lot of the crafts recruit from younger. What do you want to do when you grow up?"

Linden nods a little bit, and then he sighs. /That/ question. He hates that question. Because he's heard it a lot. "Not quite sure for sure, but something in the weyr. Maybe a steward's assistant or something like that. You know, just helping out." He has no ambition.

"Hmm." Thankfully, showing at least a little sensitivity to the situation, Veresch shuts up for a moment. It's then, in that space of non-thought, that she blinks and dips one hand into a pocket. Pulling out a warm twist of cloth, she reaches down to pat the sand into an acceptable table and smoothes it out, undoing the cloth. Jam turnovers, likely gotten just before the bad news. "Forgot about them," she mumbles. "Must've gotten them without thinking."

Linden perks up at the sight of the turnovers, reaching out to take one straightaway. "Thanks," he says, shoving it into his mouth with all the delicacy of a growing teenage boy. "So." Moving on. "What else do you want to see?"

Veresch watches him eat, taking one to piece it apart into smaller chunks. "I don't know," she finally says. "Things are pretty messed-up back there. I think… I think we should just sit here for a while, and go back and come back another day. I still want to see the gardens, and the nursery here, but … another day."

Linden nods, turning a bit to smile at her, lips stuck with crumbs. "Alright. I'm okay with that." He'd rather be on the beach anyway. "Another day though," he promises, "promise, we'll come back another day."

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