Fort Weyr – Th’ero and Velokraeth’s Weyr

This weyr is opulent, it almost looks like some of the ground weyrs. It is quite large, easily fitting two large dargons. The slight lip on the wallow allows for large blankets to be draped over it without sliding downward. The floor stone is smooth, having been wore down over the turns by many dragon and human feet. Towards the back of the dragon area there is a wall with a double door wide opening leading into the living area. On either side of the living area there are two smaller rooms. Towards the back there is an entrance to the washroom on the left and an open area for the kitchenette on the right.

The living area is quite large to match the dragon’s area. There is plush carpeting covering most of the weyr, except for the dragon, kitchen and washroom areas which are tiled. The furniture left behind is in quite good condition. There is a sofa and a klah table in the center of the room, and couple of bookcases. Towards the back where the kitchenette is there is a rectangular dining table with four chairs. The spare room to the left has only a desk in it and a book shelf.

The kitchenette is well cared for. There are ample cabinets and counter space about made with good stone, though they are worn a bit by age. There is a stove and oven, ice box and a deep sink. The bedroom is of a slightly more modest size. The bed looks to be roughly a queen size, and there is a dresser with a mirror over it off to the right hand side of the entrance. Some of the area is consumed by a walk-in closet in the back right corner. The washroom is quite large and clearly designed for two people. There is a large basin tub with a small stand up shower next to it. The toilet has been partitioned off to the left corner, leaving space for a large vanity across most of the back wall of the washroom. It has a light colored stone countertop with two sinks carved out and a very large mirror on the wall behind. There is plenty of cabinet space underneath.

Night has fallen, cold and dark across the Weyr and most of the weyrfolk are well asleep. Only a few are awake at this hour and among the few are Fort’s leadership and staff. Roused from sleep or whichever task they were doing by Velokraeth’s summons, they all gathered to hear the Weyrleader’s somber and disturbing report of what he and Dtirae discovered out in the remote cothold. The meeting stretches on and on for hours, despite the night waning to dawn. Eventually, all that can be done and discussed is exhausted, Th’ero, Dtirae and even Kimmila thoroughly questioned by all. They are all dismissed then, no one lingering and tension heavy in the air, as everyone’s moods are subdued. One of the last to leave, as always and even this pre-dawn morning is Th’ero. Cold, beyond exhausted, the Weyrleader retreats to his weyr once the council chamber doors close. Pausing only to see if Kimmila follows, he wastes no time in striding stiffly down the stairs, grimacing as the wind cuts through his thin layers of clothing. His riding jacket still remains with Ezra, the boy now in Elara’s hands for the time being.

Velokraeth has returned to his ledge, the pale bronze now freed of the burden of the crates though his straps remain. Th’ero pauses then by his lifemate’s side, quietly beginning to undo the buckles though his fingers are stiff and his movements bordering on clumsy. He assumes Kimmila will either tend to Varmiroth or wait for him inside, though the bronzerider leaves plenty of space for her to store the blue’s straps should she wish. Once the tasks of caring for his bronze’s needs are completed, Th’ero finally turns to enter his weyr. Chilled now straight to the bone and not entirely from his exposure to twice to the cold and once to Between, it’s no surprise that his path takes him straight to his hearth. Exhaustion is written plain and clear on his features, but his eyes take on a haunted, disturbed and troubled, thoughtful look as he begins to roughly set some wood in place. But he can’t seem to light the fire, his attempts ending in failure and with his nerves already frayed, frustration settles in quick enough and he curses, trying to will his hands to stop shaking, though he’s doing his best to hide it.

Kimmila does not follow right away, having some quiet words with an old drudge friend of hers, and waiting for the woman’s return before she makes her way up the steps to Th’ero’s weyr. Her strides are brisk despite her exhaustion, green eyes darting briefly to her mother’s ledge when she passes. Wiyaneth and Nemmenth are both resting across the entrance, blocking any wind and any/one/ from venturing inside. Neither dragon pays Kimmila much mind as she passes, and the bluerider holds the skin of mulled wine tighter as she ascends. Varmiroth is waiting for her on Velokraeth’s ledge, the blue chafing in his straps but – for once – patient to await his rider’s pleasure in removing them. Kimmila does so, laying them aside and rubbing the blue’s muzzle before she slips inside, closing the door behind her. Green eyes find Th’ero at the hearth, and she walks towards him, wariness settling into her bones now that there is no one but him around to see. “Here,” she says, pressing the hot skin into his hands as she crouches beside him, pulling off her gloves. If he lets her, she’ll swiftly light the fire.

Th’ero had been so lost in his own thoughts and on lighting the fire that he had not heard Kimmila approach. Normally not one to startle easily, the Weyrleader does give a slight start when the hot skin is pressed into his hands. Blinking, he stares down at it before his mind sluggishly turns over from his brooding. “Thanks.” He murmurs softly, accepting the wine and giving her the lighting material as a trade. Leaving Kimmila to the fire, Th’ero rises to his feet and moves to the couch. He settles heavily to the cushions, huddling himself into the corner as he leans back, slouched and withdrawn even as his hands uncap the skin. Lifting it, he takes a long drink, not seeming to care if the mulled wine burns or not, simply seeking the warmth. Capped again once he’s finished, he keeps the skin firmly held in one hand, while the other lifts up, elbow propped on the armrest of the couch and his hand turning so fingers prop up against his head, which he now keeps turned down. Th’ero’s eyes have closed, though not in rest and his mouth is set in a thin, grim line.

Kimmila gets the fire lit and blazing before she sheds her jacket, tossing it with her gloves and her belt of knives onto another chair. Only then does she sit on the couch near Th’ero, her knee against his as she bends to unlace her boots. Lifting first one foot and then the other, she uses her hands to massage warmth back into her toes, glancing sidelong at him from time to time as she does so. Otherwise, she does not speak. Not yet. Her green eyes are stormy, expression shifting between fury and concern, back and forth like tidal waves. Outside, Varmiroth settles and drops off into a swift sleep, and that eases some of the tension from Kimmila’s shoulders. But not all of it.

In the silence between them, Th’ero broods in his turmoil. His expression seems frozen, his heavy scowl not easing an inch, even as Kimmila settles next to him. His eyes do open a fraction, dark and haunted as he tilts his head up and a little to the side to turn them towards the bluerider. Watching her quietly, the Weyrleader says nothing or is unable to say anything. Exhausted from the discovery and then the meeting, where every detail was pulled from him, the bronzerider could also be savoring a moment of silence. The wineskin is uncapped again and Th’ero takes another long, deep pull of the liquid inside before passing it to Kimmila, his hand lightly bumping into her arm before he tilts it questioningly towards her. “Here.” He says in a gruff voice, just barely above a whisper.

Kimmila settles against the back of the couch – or as much as she can, with her stiff posture – and then takes the wine skin. Taking a few long gulps from it, she then offers it back and looks at him, trying to meet his eyes. “You okay?” Obviously the answer is no, but what else can you say? She wants to get him talking, or at least to tell her that he /doesn’t/ want to talk.

Grasping the wineskin firmly once more when it’s passed back, Th’ero is roused by her question enough to give her a long look. His mouth twists up into a smirk then and the Weyrleader shakes his head, speaking once more in a low voice that betrays his exhaustion and inner conflict. “No.” Obviously. “Far from it. And neither are you?” He seems fairly confident on what her reply will be, as his gaze slides away then and focus on the now blazing fire and remain there, unmoving as his smirk dies away back to a grim set line. Th’ero lifts the wineskin again and drains more of it in a few gulps. He leaves just enough for Kimmila to have another share of it as he passes it back to the bluerider, not even turning his head the slightest, seemingly transfixed on her fire now.

Kimmila finishes the wine and tosses the capped skin onto the table, leaning back against the couch with a heavy sigh. “No,” she admits quietly. Rubbing a hand over her face, fingers briefly stroke across her eyebrows before it drops to her lap. “I just can’t believe…and yet…it happened, I won’t deny it, but…”

Th’ero makes a low, gruff noise in his throat in response to Kimmila’s words, his arms crossing over his chest as if he’s still trying to ward off the cold, though his weyr is rapidly growing quite warm. Tilting his head back, his eyes close again as they drift from the fire, brows knitted together in an unwavering heavy frown. “An entire cothold. Slaughtered.” The Weyrleader abruptly and bluntly mutters, the fury that suddenly flares barely held back from his tone as he struggles with the still very vivid memories. “It’s worse then I had imagined, when we first landed. And that it happened at all…” Th’ero drifts off then back to silence, grimacing in disgust.

Kimmila nods, “All but one,” she says quietly. “How many do you figure? Eight? Ten? Two entire families gone?” Her mouth settles into a grim line. “I wonder if they took any of the /bastards/ with them,” she says, her voice hard as steel and sparking with simmering fury. “They must have. They were tough folks, living up there. But not…not trained for that.”

“Yes.” Th’ero says just as quietly, eyes slowly drifting open again and his arms seem to tighten all the more across his chest. “All but one.” He echoes. As Kimmila tries to tally the amount of lives lost, the Weyrleader’s mood only seems to plummet at the numbers. “That will be determined soon enough. This… barbaric act won’t go unpunished.” Th’ero’s withheld fury laces his tone then, jaw tensing as he takes some small shred of comfort that justice will be done. “Very few are ever trained for that, even those with skills in combat. Shards, no folk deserved and end like that. And Ezra…” Here he pauses, silent and sullen, withdrawing back to his thoughts. A few seconds pass before the Weyrleader takes a sudden and deep, slow inhale. “The boy will need help, if the damage isn’t already too far gone.” Th’ero murmurs, exhaling heavily as he pulls a hand free to scrub at his chin, then up along the side of his face, fingers pinching at the bridge of his nose. “And I plan to keep him here, in the Weyr. For now. I…” he falters then, exhaustion and stress taking hold.

Kimmila shakes her head slightly. “It won’t,” she murmurs. “If we can find them,” she adds, ever the practical one, and glancing sidelong at him. Then she shakes her head, her body shuddering. “Ezra is with my mother.” As if that means she doesn’t have to worry – or think too much – about the kid. She pulls a crumpled parchment from her pocket and hands it over. “A drudge brought me that during the meeting,” she murmurs. The note is from Elara, and is a simple update on Ezra’s progress –// ‘Ezra is staying in Kimmila’s old room’ // “It has a door you can lock,” Kimm supplies, “and Mom has the key but she never, ever used it.” ‘He has been given as much food as he can eat. He’s stuffed himself to the point of illness twice, but now seems to have eaten just the right amount and seems to be sleeping. He’s scared of everything and everyone, and the only thing that brings him comfort is the knowledge that the door locks. When I told him that, he was happy to run into the room and close and lock the door. -Elara’ Kimmila sighs as she watches Th’ero read. “Mother will find him a mindhealer I’m sure. I think keeping him here is the safest thing.” When he falters, she reaches out to rest a hand against his arm. “You what?” she presses softly.

“We will find them.” Th’ero growls with sudden vehemence, each word more stressed and clipped then the last. And he doesn’t have to say the rest of what is most likely flashing to the forefront of his mind. They will be found and they will pay and dearly. So violent are his thoughts that Velokraeth chuffs in mild reproach from his wallow. What the bronze says privately is enough to shake Th’ero out of that mind frame, though the Weyrleader doesn’t look the least bit apologetic. Kimmila reassurance that Ezra is with her mother seems to bring a little comfort to him though and as she hands over the crumpled parchment, he smoothes it out after accepting it and begins to read. He nods as she adds in her explanation, though remains silent in response until he finishes. “I’m glad you agree then. And I’m more then confident in Elara. Else I would not have put Ezra in her care.” The note is neatly refolded and would have been handed back to Kimmila, though that movement stills when she reaches out to rest a hand on his arm. Th’ero can only shake his head when she presses him, his features suddenly taking on a tired and weary look. “I have much to think about. This has…and will, cause so much trouble. There is much to consider, much to organize.” He slowly exhales in a near sigh, before adding in a low whisper. “I feel as though there is blood on my hands.”

Kimmila watches his face, her expression hard and set, lines showing on her face around her eyes and her mouth. Then she nods, “There is,” she agrees, “but you won’t do it alone.” He’ll just make all the hard decisions. “What is the first step?” she asks. But then she’s stiffening, her hand convulsing on his arm in a sudden clench. “Why.” It’s more statement than question, said with hard lines and anger underneath her tone.

Th’ero can only shake his head a little, casting his gaze downwards to Kimmila’s words. He knows he won’t be alone in this, but the decisions, the hard ones, will fall to him. The Weyrleader feels much older then and no doubt looks it too, as his body begins to ease from tenseness to a boneless weariness as he sags against the couch. “An investigation.” He mutters, already dreading the amount of work it will take to organize and to keep the details hushed and quieted. “A small group. Trustworthy and able to keep their mouths shut. Equal parts from Weyr and Hold.” It all tumbles out in short, blunt pieces, his tone almost flat as he shares just a glimmer of his thoughts with the bluerider. A sign of trust, if subtle and he would have continued if Kimmila hadn’t clenched his arm. Th’ero starts, alarmed and instantly his brown eyes lock and focus sharply on her. Her question though and her anger beneath it have him suddenly defensive and his expression becomes closed and just as hard. “I knew the signs. Increased suspicious activity, among other things. Even you were attacked and yet all I did was tell the guard captain to send out more patrols, but only within Fort Weyr’s forest range.” Th’ero admits tensely, his voice cold as his anger begins to surface, pricked by Kimmila’s response. “A wiser man would have checked with the Holds and cotholds. Report and warn. Maybe then this could have been averted.” Silence falls then, as Th’ero looks away and back to the fire, features taking on a stormy look as he leans forwards now, resting his now steepled fingers against his chin. “Did you know what Ezra told us, Kimmila?” he murmurs so very quietly after sometime. “He told us his mother had said to him that riders would come, but that we came too late.” Th’ero side glances to her sharply then, back over his shoulder, brown eyes haunted. “I /never/ want to hear words like that from a child. Ever. And I had to lie and play along that his mother was fine…” And his voice drops lower, though the bitterness that twists his words cannot be missed. “When she’s most likely cold and dead, tossed aside in that heap.” It’s clear then that Th’ero is taking all this to heart, perhaps far, far too much. But the Weyrleader is obviously troubled and disturbed, among a deluge of other emotions.

Kimmila’s hand relaxes just a tad against his arm as he speaks, nodding her agreement to his first plans. “That’s good. The Holds will appreciate being included,” she says, but then the conversation takes a turn. Then she’s frowning in reply. “The signs of what? What were you expected to do? Keep the weyr on full alert forever? Have the cotholds abandon bringing in their last crops in favor of mounting their own patrols against a threat that might never come?” Her frown deepens and she stops speaking, before she sighs and nods. “Maybe that would have been wise,” she allows, “but that doesn’t mean this is your fault. I won’t have you thinking that it is.” As if she could reach into his brain and *pluck* those ideas out herself. She quiets then, leaning against the back of the couch and watching him, and then she sighs. “There’s nothing anyone could have done,” she says quietly. “You /know/ that if they’d managed to get word out – if a rider had been there – it would have been different.” Her hand reaches out once more, this time to touch the back of his shoulder with light fingertips. “This isn’t your fault.”

Despite his dark mood and exhaustion, Th’ero isn’t oblivious to the truth behind Kimmila’s words and while to start, he begins to stubbornly reject them, her persistence pays off. With another grimace, he’s turning his head back so he faces the fire but his shoulders drop a little and the hardened expression begins to crack and soften. It doesn’t keep him from making a frustrated noise in his throat though. But neither does he counter her words, simply letting his silence know that he understands. Her touch doesn’t have him flinching and he doesn’t move from it, but Kimmila will easily feel the stress and the tenseness of his body and posture. “I know.” Th’ero finally mutters and lowers his face down into his hands, scrubbing once more. “We may have been too late, but neither will I have them die in vain. We will find out what has happened. And then there will be justice.” His tone takes on a hard, steely edge now and for a brief moment; he’ll bristle with renewed anger before the tension snaps again and his body sags. “I need…” Th’ero starts, falters as a slight shiver courses through him and picks up again. “A drink.” With that said, he slowly pulls himself to his feet and without another word, silently moves over to the kitchenette, his movements stiff and sluggish as he reaches the small cabinet where he stores all his alcohol.

Kimmila nods, “No one expects anything less from you, in this,” she says quietly, letting her hand fall as he rises, her green eyes watching him. She stays on the couch, tucking her stocking feet up beneath her to keep them warm, staring at the fire. Biting her lower lip, she stifles a yawn behind her hand. “I’m tired but I don’t want to sleep,” she admits softly, not turning to look at him. “How will you choose who goes to investigate?”

“My thoughts are too much of a mess to let me sleep.” Th’ero admits softly as well, though he continues to pick through the cabinet and doesn’t turn to face Kimmila. So he’ll numb the thoughts with alcohol and perhaps other outlets, but neither of those are voiced. Finally, he settles on a wine and not bothering to read the label or fuss over vintage, he simply uncorks the bottle and even skips the formality of glasses. Not exactly the classiest of moves, but this is his weyr and with only Kimmila as witness and too tired to care, Th’ero takes a few long sips straight from the bottle itself. And while he does, he comes back to the couch but stands behind it, lowering the wine bottle down until it’s within sight and reach for the bluerider. “It’s a dry and quite bitter. But it may help.” He tells her. Silence follows, as he considers his answer and when he does speak again, it’s in a soft, tired tone. “I’m not sure. I wish to be a part of it, of course. As for the rest… I’m at a loss.”

Kimmila nods her agreement with his words, and when he comes back she takes the bottle. She’s no stickler for simple things like glasses, and takes a swig of the wine from the bottle without hesitation. Then she coughs, and sighs. Her head shakes from side to side, and then turns to look up at him. “You can work with the captain to choose ours, at least. And maybe one of your most trusted staff members goes to the other cotholds and holds, and tells them what has happened. Ask for their best guard or fighter. They won’t want to hear about it from a Harper, days after the fact. Maybe your Weyrsecond goes.”

Th'ero makes a low, thoughtful sound deep in his throat at Kimmila’s suggestion, eyes taking on a distracted look as his thoughts are given something to focus on. “That is one option, yes.” He murmurs in agreement, letting his gaze rise up to meet hers as the bluerider turns to face him. “I agree. They should not hear this second hand. It’s a start and one I will consider.” To judge from his tone though, the Weyrleader won’t be making that decision for a few hours yet. The hour is still far too early and the bronzerider is pushing himself to his limits. Even if he wanted to leave now, Velokraeth would likely bar him. The pale bronze appears asleep in his wallow, but he’s listening. With his hands now free after Kimmila has accepted the wine bottle, Th’ero hand lingers for a moment before his fingers lightly and tentatively brush up along her shoulder.

Kimmila would bar him too. At his touch her eyes sink closed and she sighs, leaning against his fingers. “He had my knife, Th’ero,” she whispers softly, lifting a hand to grip his tightly, her eyes opening to look up at him again, pained. She gives his hand a little tug, hopefully a clear enough indication that she wants him to come around to the other side of the sofa and sit. “Can I stay?” she asks next, her expression one of exhaustion, but lingering there is also remembered pain, and hints of fear. Nervous, even here. Perhaps not for herself, but for others and for her memories. Especially her dreams.

Th’ero’s head tilts to the side a little as Kimmila sighs and leans against his touch, a ghost of a smile on his lips. His other hand comes down to rest on her other shoulder, his touch firmer now. The Weyrleader begins to lean down then, seeking a kiss but then freezes midway at what she whispers. Fingers clench slightly and the budding relaxation he was beginning to feel comes to an abrupt end. He would have pulled away too, but Kimmila’s tight grip keeps him in place and her pained look is echoed in his eyes as he glances down at her. “I know.” Th’ero says, his tone heavy in guilt. He won’t hide that. When she tugs, he doesn’t move but his hands remain on her shoulders. Her request surprises him too and now confused, he frowns down at her, the pain and hints of fear in her eyes earning a concerned look now as well. “You know you are always welcome to stay.” Th’ero reminds her gently, perhaps also to reassure her. He pulls away then, but not before lifting one of his hands up to gently brush his fingers along the side of her face. “Come.” Is all the bronzerider murmurs then, turning and taking a few steps towards the back of the weyr and closer to where his bedroom lies.

Who has the wine? If it’s Kimmila, she sets it aside before she heaves herself to her feet and pads after him. There’s guilt on her face for her lack of timing, bringing up the blade when he was obviously starting to relax. “I’m sorry,” she murmurs as she stops inside the doorway, watching him. “I’m not helping much, am I? What do you need, Wingmate?” She takes a few more steps into the room, following him to wherever he’s gone.

Th’ero hasn’t gone far, having kept a careful eye on Kimmila’s movements from over his shoulder. When she reaches the doorway, he stops and turns to face her. He’s brought them both to his room, with his bed behind him now. Sleep seems far from his mind though and he takes a slow step forwards and closer to the bluerider. Her apology only has him shaking his head and holding up a hand to wave it off. “You are.” He quickly assures her. Any guilt she may show only brings a slightly pained look to the Weyrleader’s features and when she asks him of his needs, his first smile crosses his features though it’s strained. But it’s there, at least. “I have what I need.” Th’ero murmurs softly, mood sobering then as he fixes Kimmila with a searching look. “What is it that you need, Wingmate?” And while he echoes her line, he is serious. There’s a pause then, before he continues in a softer tone. “It’s hard to know where or how Ezra got the knife. No one knows of its connection, but it is an unsettling clue. But until I know… we can’t assume.”

Kimmila smiles when he does, though hers is tentative as she slowly closes the distance between them, looping her arms around her waist for a hug, resting her head on his chest. “Just you,” she whispers. She shakes her head, “People know I have the other two…” she murmurs. And it’s true. She keeps them in a pouch at her waist whenever she goes hunting, and she’s not shy about using them when she needs to. Suspicious, perhaps, that one of her own blades ended up at the scene?

One that /he/ gave her?

“No one needs to know the details of the blade… Only that Ezra had one. I have the knife with me.” Th’ero murmurs as Kimmila approaches and loops her arms around him. As her head rests up against his chest, his arms slip around her to return the embrace, making it as comforting for her as it could very well be for him. What she murmurs has him frowning though and a hand comes up to gently stroke along her back in a soothing manner. “Are you worried that it will cause suspicion?” Th’ero asks and again his tension spikes as he becomes protective and defensive by even the thought that some would think that the bluerider was involved, somehow.

Kimmila nods, “Good plan,” she murmurs, leaning into the embrace and holding tight, as much for her comfort as his. Her hand slips up his back beneath his tunic, palm warm against his skin. “If they knew the knife was mine,” she murmurs. “No one but you knows how it was taken from me. Might be suspicious…”

Th’ero sighs heavily, both from relaxing under the touch of Kimmila’s hand against his back and from the words she murmurs to him. Careful to keep his concern hidden, he tilts his head down to kiss the top of her head gently, his hand still gently stroking along her back while the arm he has looped around her tightens to draw her closer. “If it ever comes to light that the knife belongs to you and some begin to suspect or question, then I’ll come clean about what happened.” He says in a soft reply. In other words, he’ll take the blame and whatever fallout that may come. “But as for now, the knife is in my possession. Unless someone asks to see it specifically, there’s no need to drag it into things. You and I are the only one’s who know that it was once yours.” Th’ero falls silent then, lost once more in his thoughts.

Kimmila nuzzles against his chest with a soft sigh, finding comfort in his warmth and his heartbeat, his presence and his…let’s be frank, his alive-ness. She makes a soft noise of assent, though she might argue the point later. Not tonight, though, her mind is far too sluggish and tired, nor does she want to get either of them riled up again.

Th’ero is very much alive and thankfully warm now, considering his extended exposure to the cold. He too finds comfort though in Kimmila’s closeness and the warmth of her body pressed against his. The Weyrleader lets the silence grow, content to simply bask in the embrace. Exhaustion makes for a sluggish and very tired mind however and soon his hold begins to ease. “We should sleep.” He suggests but from the look in his eyes, he knows neither of them will have an easy time of it. “Nothing more can be done, not at this hour.”

Kimmila glances up at him with furrowed brows, a flicker of worry in her eyes despite her slow nod of agreement. “Yeah,” she murmurs, gently slipping away from him to crawl across the bed, snuggling down under the covers and then reaching her arm up towards him in an invitation and a request. She keeps her clothes on, because sliding between cold sheets is never fun.

Too tired to even undress as well, Kimmila’s invitation and request is eagerly accepted. Pulling back the sheets, Th’ero slips under them as well and right to the bluerider’s side. His arms slip around her again, drawing her close as he sets his head down on the pillow and while he closes his eyes, sleep doesn’t come. It’s an attempt at least, but if Kimmila were to speak or move, he would know.

Kimmila scoots closer and rests her head against his shoulder, one arm draped across his chest while her other is squished between them and bound to fall asleep at some point, even if she doesn’t. She closes her eyes and focuses on her breathing. Turns of having to catch sleep wherever and whenever she could have given her the ability to calm her mind and ease herself into sleep, and that’s what she does now. She sleeps, and if she has nightmares they don’t make themselves known. But a short time later, she starts to move, her body shifting. And if Th’ero has been paying attention to her behaviors whenever they sleep together, he should know that the bluerider is gearing up for a kick.

Th’ero eventually drifts into an uneasy sleep himself, once Kimmila does the same. No nightmares plague the Weyrleader this night either, his mind still too torn up to let him sleep deep enough for any dreams, good or bad. He has begun to pick up on her sleeping habits, so that while he doesn’t fully wake, he shifts just enough to avoid the worst of the kick should that be what the bluerider was gearing to do. Long having adapted, it will be brushed off and his light sleep will continue. That is, until anxiety and restlessness nibbles at him and breaks that thin layer of unconsciousness. It was a short nap, but enough, it seems as Th’ero is now wide awake and whether he wishes to be or not.

Kimmila does indeed lash out with a kick before she turns over with her back to him, slumbering on.

Grudgingly, Th’ero stirs himself enough to lift a hand up to scrub at his face. For a moment, he settles again, perhaps in a vain hope to fall back asleep and for a few blissful seconds he’s unaware of any troubles or stresses. But within moments, it all comes crashing back and while now rested, he’s no less relaxed. Turning his head, he’s met with the sight of Kimmila’s back and gently, he reaches out to lightly press his hand against the fabric of her clothing and sliding up to her shoulder. Th’ero pauses then and his touch withdraws, leaving her to sleep on if his touch hasn’t woken her. Carefully, he sits up and swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, he leans forwards to rest his elbows on his thighs, arms crossed as he waits. He might not be able to sleep, but Kimmila may and Th’ero is prepared to linger there until she has woken.

Kimmila sleeps for maybe another half hour before she awakens, her body rolling over and her hand reaching over to his side of the bed. Touching the empty space where he used to lie, she startles and opens her eyes, focusing on him and exhaling a soft sigh of relief. Moving out from beneath the covers, the bluerider crawls over to lay on her stomach across the bed, her head by his hip. “Morning,” she murmurs, tilting her head to look up at him.

Th’ero doesn’t move from where he sits for the full half hour, though the thought crosses his mind. So as she begins to roll, the Weyrleader is pulled from his inner thoughts and he turns his head to glance over his shoulder and just in time to see her startle and focus on him. As she crawls out and over to lay next to him, he leans back a little to let one of his hands come up and gently brush his fingers along the side of her upturned face. “Morning.” Th’ero murmurs softly, even managing a small smile directed her way. “Hungry?” he asks. He doesn’t bother asking how they slept or how she feels, making his own assumptions it seems.

Kimmila closes her eyes briefly at his touch, and then they open to look up at him, searchingly. Trying to judge his mood. “Yeah,” she answers after a moment’s thought, pushing up to a sitting position and reaching up to place her fingers against the back of his neck, kneeding gently. “Want me to go get some breakfast?” she offers, glancing down at her rumpled clothing and deciding she doesn’t care. Maybe she should leave some clothes here…wouldn’t /that/ be an awkward conversation.

At first glance, it’s obvious most of his exhaustion is gone, though Th’ero still carries a tired look to his eyes. That could be partially due to his continued stress though and his expression, as much as he struggles to keep it light and neutral, still shows signs of turmoil. His mood though is more restrained then it was earlier, Th’ero well in control (for now) of his temper and darker thoughts. “We could go get breakfast,” he murmurs in reply, stressing the first word though he drifts into silence as she kneads the back of his neck. Closing his eyes, he leans into her touch and lets himself relax a little beneath her fingers. “That is, if you feel up to it.” He’s probably not noted the state of her clothes and his may not be any better. And it could lead to an awkward conversation or it may not, as Th’ero could be too distracted by the events unfolding to realize what that could imply.

Kimmila continues to rub his neck with strong fingers, trying to ease out the kinks and the knots. “Sure,” she answers quietly. “I’m up to it. Where do you want to go?” Leaning over, she kisses his shoulder softly, in what she hopes is a supportive gesture.

Tilting his head a little to the side, Th’ero’s eyes remain closed as Kimmila continues to rub along his neck. “The least busiest. Which should be the caverns, for now. Velokraeth tells me that the morning is well done, which means we’ve missed the rush. The caverns should be deserted.” He murmurs to her, sighing a little though not in sadness. Rather more in relief as he succumbs to her fingers and relaxes further. The supportive gesture has him opening his eyes and he leans over to answer with one of his own, though he aims to kiss her directly. It will be a light, gentle kiss and even a touch loving if she doesn’t pull away from him.

Kimmila’s fingers still during the kiss, meeting it and returning it softly. “Sounds good,” she says quietly, giving his neck another squeeze before she pulls her hand back and slides off the bed, tucking in her tunic as she walks to the bathing chamber to wash her face and brush out her hair best she can, wrestling it back into a runnertail.

Th’ero looks a touch disappointed as Kimmila slides off the bed and walks into his bathing chamber. He leaves her to her business though and slowly rises to his feet. Slipping out of the many layers of clothing he had worn the day previously, he tosses them onto the bed and then begins to rummage for something cleaner and fresher. A pair of pants is found first and he pulls those on and it’s while he’s searching for a tunic that he turns back to the bed, perhaps to consider wearing the same one when his hands find the bundle. Unraveling it, the missing knife is tumbles out hilt first into his palm. And that may be how Kimmila discovers him if she steps out from the bathing chamber. Half dressed and staring at the hunting knife with the polished wooden handle, his expression unreadable. (corrected)

Kimmila walks back into the bedroom in her wrinkled tunic and trousers and socks, her face washed at least. Eyes settle onto that ‘missing’ knife, and a frown settles onto her lips. “Th’ero,” she says slowly, eyes lifting from the knife to his face. “I don’t want to lie about that blade being mine.” Her voice is quiet and thoughtful, but firm as she’s made her decision and now she’s ready to stand by it.

Th’ero’s eyes lift from the blade at Kimmila’s quiet voice and his features go from unreadable to stubbornly set as he grimaces in response to her words. From the front of his weyr comes Velokraeth’s chuff and snort. Clearly while the Weyrleader disagrees, the pale bronze is on the bluerider’s side. “The suspicion it will put on you though… It’s not worth the risk. It proves nothing that Ezra had it in his possession.” Th’ero remarks in an equally low and thoughtful tone and his hand clenches tight around the hilt of the blade. His gaze turns away then and a distracted look crosses his features. From the tight line his mouth suddenly takes on, it’s clear he’s having a little disagreement with his lifemate.

Kimmila shakes her head stubbornly, though she does grin a bit at Velokraeth’s addition. “Think of the suspicion it will put on /both/ of us if we hide it and they find out later. Lots of people all over Pern have seen me with those blades, and they’re not exactly a common set. And I have the other two in my possession,” she says, pointing out towards the couches. “We know it proves nothing, but to someone looking at it from the outside, it could very well place me at the cothold. Especially if we act like it’s something worth hiding.”

Th’ero inhales long and deep as he straightens his shoulders and tilts his head up, a key indication that the Weyrleader is usually about to stubbornly disagree. Whether some logic behind her words or Velokraeth’s insistence or both, there’s a lingering silence before he snorts. “Fine.” He says, clipping the word as he holds his tongue. Turning, he sets the knife down on top of the wooden dresser and a little rougher then intended. It’s left to either remain there or for Kimmila to take, but Th’ero seems to go back to the task of finding a tunic to wear, less he wish to startle Fort and go out in the winter only half dressed. “You have a good point,” A very good and logical point, but he seems reluctant to admit that. “But I doubt anyone will remark on the knife. Not when we have much more pressing and concerning matters. Telling them now will only complicate things, considering I withheld the information during the meeting.” He points out, head turned away from Kimmila as he opens a drawer and begins to rummage through his clothing. “At least… on the origins of the knife. They know Ezra was armed when he came out of hiding.”

Kimmila doesn’t touch the knife – she wants no part of it anymore, and watches him walk around. “I think the knife needs to be taken to staff and shown, and tell them that it was mine. But…” Here she trails off, thoughtful. “I don’t really want to bring up getting attacked,” she admits, rubbing the back of her neck. “But…let’s just say I lost it a few months ago, after you gave it to me. I don’t want someone to suddenly look at the knife and say, ‘Hey, that’s Kimmila’s, why was that at the scene of the slaughter?’” She grimaces, eyes following him.

“So you want me to go to them and tell them it’s yours, but only tell that much of the truth?” Th’ero replies slowly, the look he gives her as he glances up bordering on incredulous. The Weyrleader shakes his head then and glances away as he slips a tunic on over his head. He turns his attention back to Kimmila however as his hands work on fastening the lacings. “Fine, then.” He says by agreement, echoing her grimace but giving in to her logic and choice. “I’ll bring the knife up to my staff during the next meeting later today.” And from his tone, he’s already dreading the idea, though it will be hours yet before they’ll gather to meet. “You might be called in by them and could to be questioned again.” Th’ero warns in a glum sounding tone, not at all pleased by the prospect. His hands, now finished with the lacings, rise up to run though the mess of curls that is his hair, partially to smooth out the worst of it and half in a frustrated gesture. They then fall to his sides as he rolls his shoulders back and stands straighter, taking a deep long breath and exhaling slowly as he braces himself to face what is likely to be a very, very long day. At least the start of it he won’t be alone and Th’ero glances sideways to where Kimmila stands and his features soften just a fraction. “We should go and eat. While we can.” He murmurs softly.

Kimmila frowns, meeting his gaze. “What? You have a better idea? Admitting that I lost it in an attack would look bad,” she says quietly. “That’s past history. I lost it. That’s not a lie. And someone picked it up, and that’s how it ended up at Stonehaven.” She nods her head, watching his expression closely. “I’m sure I will be,” she says quietly. “There’s nothing else for it. It looks suspicious either way. I’m not guilty though, so I have nothing to fear.” Or so that’s her hope, anyway. She smiles faintly at his softening expression, and nods. “We should,” she agrees, reaching out her hand for his.

“No,” Th’ero admits with a frown, slowly beginning to accept that Kimmila is for all purposes right in her choice. That much shows as his grimace relaxes into something more of a small smile directed to her. “No, you don’t have anything to fear.” He agrees as he gently takes her hand in his, his grip firm and reassuring. “So neither should I.” Th’ero murmurs softly before leading them both from his private chambers and out to the main part of his weyr. As they approach the couch, he gently slips his hand from hers to leave the bluerider free to seek out her jacket or anything else she wishes to collect. Th’ero however strides half way to where he normally keeps his gear before cursing softly. “Damn. Ezra has my jacket…” Along with his knot, but that’s the least of his concerns. Chuckling a little in dry humor over his lack of foresight on that, he crouches down to open a chest and pulls out a thin looking jacket and well worn. It’s definitely not made for flight and not for winter. But it’s better then nothing and so long as they don’t linger outdoors, the Weyrleader won’t freeze. Slipping it on, he’s already fastening it as he gestures towards the doors with a quick tilt of his head. “We’ll take a shortcut.” He tells Kimmila, already moving to rejoin her by her side though he seems to wait for her to head out first.

Kimmila shakes her head with a bit of a smile. “Neither should you,” she agrees. Picking up her own jacket and knives, she frowns a bit when he picks up the thin coat. “Why don’t I just stop by Mom’s weyr and see if I can get yours back?” she offers, removing the pouch with the two wooden handled knives from her belt and setting them down. No sense /inviting/ trouble. She only pulls on the blue and silver handled beltknife – her favorite that is never far from her side. “Which shortcut?” she asks as she steps onto the ledge, finding Varmiroth gone hunting.

“I’d rather not disturb them.” Th’ero doesn’t hesitate in that reply, though he probably means Ezra more then Elara. His eyes flick over to the knives as Kimmila sets them down and he gives a brief approving look on her decision. He turns then to disappear back into the private chambers they just exited, but not before giving her a signal to wait. When he returns, he’s buckling the dagger she gifted him to his side, though it’s hidden the moment he lets his jacket fall over it. “And I’ll be fine in this. If I’m required to fly though, I’ll have Velokraeth bespeak Wiyaneth. I won’t risk myself to more exposure. Once is enough.” Th’ero says in a firm tone, but meant only to reassure Kimmila in the end. As she mentions the shortcut, he waits until he’s followed her out onto the ledge and the doors are firmly shut behind them. “It takes a little longer, but it’s a little… quieter. Come.” Striding forwards, he pauses only to slip an arm around Kimmila’s lower back, holding her close but also guiding her with him – unless she protests his advance. Their route takes them down to the administration complex and then past the council chambers and to a spiral staircase that leads to another, and not often used, side entrance to the living caverns.

Kimmila glances down at the dagger and there’s a small smile. “M’glad you like it,” she mutters. Meeting his gaze for his decision on the jacket, all she can do is nod in agreement. She doesn’t protest his arm around her, slipping her left around him in return. “It’s too bad one of us isn’t left handed,” she muses, tapping her knife with her free right hand, and grinning a bit at him.

For a moment, things seem to shift back to regularity, as Th’ero turns his head down to glance fondly to Kimmila as she slips her left arm around him in return. “Hmm? And why is that?” he muses as he leads them both through the small doorway. They emerge near the back of the caverns, which not only gives a clear view on how crowded or busy it is, but also sets them close to the serving area. At this hour, the caverns are hardly populated, with most of the weyrfolk already gone to their duties and chores for the day. Even so, Th’ero hesitates as his eyes roam the area and once satisfied, moves on. As they approach the serving tables, he lets his arm slip from Kimmila’s back. “Slim pickings.” He remarks dryly, though knowing full well why the selection seems a little off. The Weyrleader doesn’t linger too long on choices though, settling on some klah and some bread spread with jam. He waits until Kimmila finishes (or he’ll meet up with her) and gesturing with a nod of his head, he leads her towards the most private seats he can find.

Kimmila gives his waist a squeeze and grins up at him, “Because then we’d both have use of our dominant hands when we walked like this,” she teases. Pausing when he does, she peers thoughtfully into the cavern and then walks with him, slipping away when he does to get her own plate. “Just because it’s after breakfast?” she asks, getting a few rolls and some butter and jam (that looked really good when he got it), and a few pieces of fruit. And some sausage. After getting her own mug of klah, she follows after the Weyrleader.

“That and there was some issues with the stores.” Th’ero supplies in a low tone, though there is no one around to truly overhear either of them, especially in the little corner nook of a spot that the Weyrleader has picked out for them. Letting Kimmila settle first, he then sets his (tiny) breakfast down and sits heavily into his chair. It’s only when he can scan the cavern again that Th’ero begins to relax a little. Klah is reached for first and he takes a slow sip, eyes taking in all the food Kimmila selected. That seems to bring another smile to his lips and he softly teases the bluerider. “Hungry, are we?” he muses.

Kimmila nods, “Very,” she murmurs. “I haven’t eaten in…a day.” Give or take. She gives him a crooked grin as she settles in to eating, also glancing around but for the most part trusting that no one’s going to attack her here. “What is your schedule for today? Do you need me to stick around?” she asks, voice quiet.

Th’ero looks a little surprised by Kimmila’s reply and then a concerned frown settles in. “Why so long?” he asks her gently, before tucking into his own food. But with so little, the Weyrleader quickly finishes his breakfast. Taking his mug in hand, he leans back into his seat in an almost casual manner. At least, that is what it’ll seem like to anyone just quickly glancing over to where they are sitting. In truth, he’s not at all relaxed and Kimmila would be the only one to easily see through his mask. “I’m… not sure. I’ve already deviated from my usual duties.” Th’ero admits quietly, looking down as he drifts into his thoughts. “I suspect there will be more meetings shortly. And if not today, then it will be first thing tomorrow. There… is much that has to be done.” He shakes his head then, already grimacing over the amount of work that lies ahead and none of it easy. Her last remark has him looking up at her sharply and his features relax a little once again. “I would prefer if you could. Unless Western requires you?”

Kimmila shrugs, “I was in Western yesterday morning, had breakfast, went on patrols, then Varmiroth wanted to visit Eastern. I was going to eat something but the beach felt so nice I just relaxed there for a bit, talked to a few nutjobs. Then your call came, so I hustled it over here. Didn’t feel hungry at all last night.” Last night/all night as the meeting went on and on. She smiles reassuringly at him. “It’s fine. Going a day without eating isn’t that uncommon, though usually it’s because I get distracted with a hunt or Varmiroth ropes me into an art project.” She gives him a concerned look and then nods. “I can stay,” she answers, without even checking with Varmiroth – or Western. Maybe she has a sevenday off or something. “Is there anything I can do?” she adds, tilting her head a bit as she gazes at him across the table. “Or should I just…stay in your weyr?” Tough call, being a Western rider and all.

“Nutjobs?” Th’ero interjects, a brow quirking up in a slightly incredulous look to Kimmila’s description of the folk from Eastern. “Seems like you have some poor luck when visiting that area.” He teases gently, though he swiftly sobers after that. His mouth pulls down a little in silent agreement. No one was very hungry last night and it seems the Weyrleader’s appetite is still missing, if his meager breakfast is anything to go by. “So long as you’re fine, then I won’t worry.” Th’ero admits, reassured not only by her smile but also by her elaboration. He trusts her enough to believe her and that trust extends to him believing her when she mentions no conflict with her duties. “I won’t have you hide in my weyr all day.” He mutters, smirking over his mug as he lifts it up to take another long sip of klah. Th’ero frowns then and speaks up as he sets his mug down to the table, though his gaze remains on it rather then the bluerider. “I want you by my side. I need…” And he falters here, fingers pushing the mug a little from side to side as he works through his restlessness and growing anxieties. “I need support. And from those I can trust. I know you’re not bound to Fort and answer to Western. But you are a part of this. You… witnessed enough.” But only because he called her to the scene, when truthfully he should have called his own riders. Shifting a little in his seat, Th’ero settles to cross his arms over his chest, gaze drifting up to meet Kimmila’s now as he grasps for a change of subject. “As for Ezra,” he begins in a soft voice. “I’ve faith that Elara will help him heal in time. But it’s his future that concerns me.”

Kimmila snorts, “It seems I do,” she agrees, grin crooked. “At least these people weren’t rude. Just…there was one that was completely bizarre.” She nods, reaching across the table to briefly touch his hand. “I’m fine,” she assures him. Settling back in her chair, she finishes her meal and sips her klah, nodding her head at his words. “I’ll need to go back to Western to change,” she says, nodding down at her rumpled attire. Usually she wouldn’t care, but if she’s to be with him all day in meetings she should look presentable instead of doing the Walk of Shame all day. Then she lifts a hand, shaking her head slightly. “I’m bound to Fort,” she says, her voice soft but firm. “And to you. I just don’t wear the knot of Fort. Do you think that will bother people?” she asks frankly, eying him over the rim of her mug. She’ll then submit to the change of subject, shaking her head with a sigh. “That poor boy’s bound to be a bit broken. Do you have plans for him?”

“Bizzare how?” Th’ero asks, curiosity now piqued and all to eager to jump on a subject that offers some distraction. When she reaches for his hand, the Weyrleader’s head tilts down but his smile is clear all the same. Only when she mentions her need to change does he take an actual look at her clothing, though he wisely keeps his response to a nod of his head. “Take all the time you need. You can always bring some clothing here, if need be.” He offers in a way that it comes off innocently enough, unaware of what it could imply if it’s taken one way over the other. Th’ero blinks then, giving Kimmila a long look when she claims to be bound to Fort and him in a firm voice. His mouth opens to protest, but then he reconsiders. “I… no. No, I don’t think it will.” And if it does, they can come talk to him and the Weyrleader will no doubt set them straight on the matter. Th’ero’s shoulders relax then, a little more of his stress chipped away. “So then it’s settled? You’ll be with me today then. Unless Western calls for you.” Seems he’s not about to let that slide anytime soon. Then the subject shifts and Th’ero moves along with it. “Unfortunately. But we can only hope we can save him from further damage.” He murmurs, his expression taking on a sympathetic and pitying look for the holder boy. When Kimmila asks of his plans, the Weyrleader meets her eyes but hesitates. Just when it seems he will withhold his thoughts, his posture relaxes and so do his features. Once again, it’s all a matter of trust. “I do.” Th’ero begins slowly, watching her reaction. “I want him to stay here, in the Weyr. He will be fostered, but I fully intend to have it so that he has duties assigned to myself, Elara and perhaps a few other ranking riders. He may be the last Stonehaven, but not without a family.” He pauses then, a sad look to his eyes as they take on a distracted look. “Seems the only way I can make amends to him for the loss he’s suffered.” Th’ero adds after giving himself a slight shake.

Kimmila shakes her head, “She kept going on about wanting men to dress up in ovine suits. Varmiroth doodled one in the sand for her and she thought it was the best thing ever.” There’s another slow shake of her head, and a soft laugh. Wow, was that only yesterday? Her pensive look returns as she glances at him, seeing if there’s any underlying meaning of his offer to house her clothing, but then she nods. “Sure, that’d make things easier,” she says with a shrug. Some things are awkward when they shouldn’t be, and other things aren’t, when they should. Such is their way, it seems. She nods. “I’ll be with you today,” she says. Western won’t call. Or if they do, she’ll push her duties off on someone else. It’s not hard. She’ll work double shifts for a sevenday straight, and then have some leisure time. Work hard, play hard. Sipping her klah, she listens to his plans with a slow nod. “It seems like the best thing to do, since he has no home to return to. Assuming he wants to stay here instead of being fostered at one of the Holds.” Swirling her klah mug, she takes another sip. “Why?” she asks, giving him a curious look. “Why the ranking riders? Just because you feel bad? Or do you think he could be a good rider or headman or steward someday?” She shakes her head, “It wasn’t your fault, Wingmate,” she murmurs.

Amusement finally shows on Th’ero’s features and while the Weyrleader doesn’t laugh, he does at least chuckle. It’s a start, at least. “Ovine suits?” he muses, giving Kimmila a disbelieving look though all in jest. “That is bizarre. But at least you weren’t gaining another admirer.” He adds teasingly, before his mood sobers again. Indeed, some things do end up being awkward with them. But not the mention of her stashing clothes in his weyr and perhaps it never was a touchy subject to begin with. When she confirms again that she’ll be with him, Th’ero looks openly relieved and completely unaware of what she would do if Western does call for her and the amount of work she does to make up for it. If he knew, he’d probably feel guilty. Instead, blissfully unaware, he can only be relieved and perhaps even subtly happy. “Good.” Th’ero murmurs with a slight nod, before turning back to the issue of Ezra. “It will be his choice. I won’t stop him, if he chooses Hold over Weyr. This is undoubtedly a huge shock on top of everything else that has happened. I won’t blame the boy if he wishes to seek out life in a Hold instead.” He says in a firm and truthful tone. Th’ero won’t stop him, but neither will he like it. At Kimmila’s curious look, he locks his eyes with hers, giving her a long and thoughtful stare before shrugging his shoulders. “Perhaps.” He says slowly, “Though again it boils down to his choice. And I say the ranking riders because I’d like to be able to keep him close.” Th’ero admits, though he grimaces a little from the way it sounds. Awkwardly, he shifts a little in his seat, scrubbing at his jaw as he struggles to find the words to explain his innermost thoughts. “He could have potential for anything. Steward, Holder, Rider or Crafter… who knows? But as the last of his line, I want to be sure he at least can start off well and just not disappear among the weyrbrats or holds. It’s the least we can do.” When she murmurs to him, Th’ero’s face sets into another stubborn look though he gives Kimmila a small smile. “Even if it isn’t my fault, Wingmate, I’m still going to make sure he does not go without.”

Kimmila shakes her head, “She kept going on about wanting men to dress up in ovine suits. Varmiroth doodled one in the sand for her and she thought it was the best thing ever.” There’s another slow shake of her head, and a soft laugh. Wow, was that only yesterday? Her pensive look returns as she glances at him, seeing if there’s any underlying meaning of his offer to house her clothing, but then she nods. “Sure, that’d make things easier,” she says with a shrug. Some things are awkward when they shouldn’t be, and other things aren’t, when they should. Such is their way, it seems. She nods. “I’ll be with you today,” she says. Western won’t call. Or if they do, she’ll push her duties off on someone else. It’s not hard. She’ll work double shifts for a sevenday straight, and then have some leisure time. Work hard, play hard. Sipping her klah, she listens to his plans with a slow nod. “It seems like the best thing to do, since he has no home to return to. Assuming he wants to stay here instead of being fostered at one of the Holds.” Swirling her klah mug, she takes another sip. “Why?” she asks, giving him a curious look. “Why the ranking riders? Just because you feel bad? Or do you think he could be a good rider or headman or steward someday?” She shakes her head, “It wasn’t your fault, Wingmate,” she murmurs.

“Is it?” Th’ero murmurs softly, shaking his head again as he crosses his arms across his chest just a little tighter. “We will see if he thanks me for it or resents me for it. But I’m not about to just toss him out.” The Weyrleader takes a slow, steadying breath then, and another frown settling on his features. Silence slips in again as he mulls over his thoughts. “You’re not… upset that I am practically adopting the child?” Th’ero asks slowly and carefully, watching her curiously now. “Though truthfully it’s not really I who’s adopting him and more like the Weyr.”

Kimmila blinks in surprise, green eyes lifting to his face. “Who said anything about adopting?” she asks, a furrow appearing between her eyes. “Are you going to foster him yourself?”

Th’ero snorts in what appears to be amusement, though his smirk says otherwise. “Do I seem like I have the time to foster a child? Especially one that may be as broken as Ezra?” he drawls a touch sarcastically. His reaction seems oddly harsh, but it could be Kimmila’s surprise, even as minor as it was, that has the Weyrleader’s back up. Clearly, he did not get as much sleep as needed. Sighing softly, he frees a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose and then move up to rub above one of his eyes. “I’m sorry, Kimmila. I didn’t mean to snap at you.” Th’ero murmurs apologetically. “But that is part of the reason why I want him fostered here, I suppose. So I can keep him under my supervision for whatever chances I get.” And he hesitates again, unable to find the correct words. Truthfully, it all boils down to the Weyrleader’s guilt on the matter.

Kimmila’s brow arches up at his sarcasm, but she doesn’t rise to it. She shrugs. “Then you’re not practically adopting a child,” she points out logically. “You’re just keeping an eye on him. I don’t have a problem with that at all. Why would I?” she asks with another small frown, leaning back in her chair and crossing her own arms over her chest.

Th’ero shrugs his shoulders to Kimmila’s question, his hands spreading out in a helpless gesture before his arms fold back over his chest in an odd mirror of her movement (and not done purposely). “I’m not sure why you would have a problem with it. You seemed surprised though.” Which is also perfectly logical, but the Weyrleader must know it, as he smiles crookedly and faintly not long afterwards. “My thoughts right now are a sharding mess. Nothing makes sense right now.” He murmurs quietly, glancing down and away and almost apologetically again in tone.

Kimmila shrugs, shaking her head. “So are mine,” she mutters, a bit of frustration for her muddled thoughts. “I’m fine with it,” she says, just to make sure /that/ isn’t unclear. “I think he’ll need role models.”

“Frustrating, isn’t it?” Th’ero muses, trying to ease the slight tension between them or perhaps mostly on his part. He brightens though a little to Kimmila’s suggestion, the bluerider mentioning what the Weyrleader must have been trying to seek out. “Yes. Exactly. Role models. I can’t bring his parents back. I’m not even sure if they’re alive or dead, though I’m sure it is unlikely they are alive.” He remarks grimly. “And trying to replace them may only cause him to resent us or withdraw. So… I figured if we’re just here as… guides, I suppose. Role models. Someone he can trust.”

Kimmila nods, “I think that’s the best course of action,” she muses, reaching across the table to rest her fingers on his hand once more. “But you shouldn’t feel so guilty,” she says quietly, watching his face.

Th’ero’s posture and expression relax a little from Kimmila’s reassurances about his thoughts and idea on a course of action for Ezra. When she reaches for his hand, he meets her half way, letting his fingers weave with hers. Let anyone who glances their way assume what they want, but the Weyrleader needs the connection with the bluerider. “Why not?” he replies just as quietly, his face set in a stubborn, but curious look. “I can’t help it, Kimmila. I try, but it’s not something I can easily hide.”

Kimmila gives his hand a squeeze, not caring about anyone else at this point or what they think. “Because it wasn’t your fault,” she says softly, “and guilt can really cloud judgement.” Which he’s going to need plenty of in the coming months.

Squeezing back, Th’ero’s eyes drop to their joined hands and he exhales heavily, mouth drawing down in a thoughtful and stubborn line. “I know it can cloud judgement. It can cloud and warp more then that. But I can’t deny it either.” He says quietly, still refusing to give in. “I am not saying I’m taking all the blame,” Which in truth, he isn’t – not now anyways. “But I do feel some guilt regardless if it wasn’t my fault. Or perhaps regret is a better word.” And the Weyrleader can only lapse into silence again, shaking his head in a slightly helpless gesture.

Kimmila nods, “Regret, yes,” she muses softly, giving his hand a firm squeeze. “I’m not trying to tell you what to feel, Wingmate,” she says softly. “Just…I don’t know. Trying to help.” Perspective, perhaps? She gives him a sad smile.

“I know you’re not.” Th’ero replies in turn. If he had felt she was trying, his temper would have likely flared. But the Weyrleader seems calm enough, though the frown that has settled on his brow never quite eases, even when he goes to smile softly to Kimmila’s words. “You are helping, Wingmate.” He tells her honestly, lifting his eyes to meet hers to prove it before they glance away across the caverns. Th’ero’s mood seems to drop then as he takes on a deeply thoughtful and brooding look.

Kimmila gives his hand another squeeze. “What is it?” she presses gently, still half leaning on the table to reach his hand. “Is there anything you need before I head back to Western for a bit?” A brow arches in question as she asks.

A lingering pause is all Kimmila has as a response to start, before Th’ero pulls himself from his inner most thoughts and turns his head slightly as his gaze slides back to her. “There is much to do and I dread what is to come. I feel…” Inexperienced. “…unprepared. But I do what I must.” Squeezing back with his hand, he then reluctantly slips his free as he gives her a curious, but thoughtful look. “I was considering seeing Elara and possibly Ezra this morning, before the next meetings. When did you plan to return to Western?” he asks gently.

Kimmila shakes her head with a sad sigh. “No one could be prepared for this, Th’ero. You’ll do the best you can and that’s all anyone could ask.” She leans back in her chair when he releases her hand, arms crossing over her chest. “I think she’d appreciate a visit from you,” she muses. “Whenever,” she says with a little shrug. “I could go do that while you visited Mother and Ezra?”

Th’ero closes his eyes for a moment as Kimmila’s logic and truth sink in and the Weyrleader gives a subtle nod of his head. “We can hope.” He mutters faintly, almost under his breath. But her musing remark has him opening his eyes to regard her curiously again, mouth curving into a small but crooked smile. “Considering I just had Dtirae drop Ezra on her without warning… I’m sure she would appreciate a visit.” He muses, though his tone takes on a sarcastic tone. The crooked smile of his also does the faintest of twitches when Kimmila calls Elara “mother”. Oh right. “Seems like it would be best. I doubt I’ll be too long.” Or so he thinks.

Kimmila snorts, giving him a wry look and pushing to her feet. “Alright. I’ll head to Western then and get cleaned up. Be back as soon as I can,” she promises, lingering behind her chair once she pushes it back against the table.

Th’ero gives her a long, almost questioning look for the wry one she gives him and with a shake of his head, pushes his chair back as well. Rising slowly to his feet, he doesn’t turn to walk away and instead takes the few strides needed to bring himself right to the bluerider’s side. He lingers there, hesitant for an awkward second before he gently rests his hands on her sides. Provided she doesn’t move away from him, the Weyrleader will lean his head down to kiss her, short and most likely quite chaste but the gesture still means just as much (if not more). “Take care,” Th’ero will murmur quietly in yet another odd gesture, gaze lingering on her for a few more long seconds and for a moment, temptation is seen flickering there before vanishing. Then he’s stepping back, shoulders straightening and his whole demeanor changing as he switches roles. Taking a slow, steadying breath, he gives Kimmila another subtle nod of his head. “I’ll see you soon.” He adds with a vague smile and then turns to walk away before his resolve crumbles.

Kimmila stays put, her hands lifting to settle lightly against his chest. Rising up to meet his kiss, she returns it just as softly and chastely, a sweet gesture of farewell. Temporary though it may be. “You too,” she whispers. “I’ll be back soon.” Watching him go, her shoulders slump slightly before she gathers herself and turns, heading back to pick up her things before she and Varmiroth return to Western.

'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.