Fort Weyr - Stone Barn

Fashioned from the same volcanic material that houses the caverns, these square-cut stones have been laid by a mastercrafter stonemason turns ago to house the implements necessary in caring for Fort Weyr's stock. Large enough to stable several runners, there are also stalls for ailing herdbeast, with straw-covered stone floors within the stalls, the aisle outside swept clean. Overhead is a loft full of hay, grain bins, and other supplies. Large double doors open wide on either end and smaller windows higher up along the walls allow for light and the free flow of fresh air.
At either end of the structure are two work stations, one for leatherwork and another for healing: the waist-high counter of stainless steel with shelving above contains gadgets and tools, jars, bottles and boxes of salve, potion and powders - some of it fairly scary-looking like saws, clippers, clamps and needles. Mingled with the scent of animals and hay is a pungent medicinal smell that marks this as the healer area. The other has a wooden workbench with a rack of snippers, blades, mallets, awls and an anvil beside which are pegs with strips of leather, half-finished harnesses, whips, aprons and wide-brimmed hats. Overhead, shelves with jars of finish - dyes and oils, boxes of coiled rawhide thread for stitching and handtools indicates this is the leatherwork station.

The day after the goldflight, Ezra bundles up and hikes his way down to the barn through the snow. One, to get Zoi some more food, and two, in the hopes of finding D'ani. He's heard rumors through the grapevine enough to know that his best friend isn't dead, though there were some rumors (which he didn't believe) that placed him in the infirmary. Trying to be mature about it, the boy forced himself not to panic or flail around, instead making himself wait until the next day to casually seek D'ani out. So down to the barn he goes, hauling open the heavy door against the snow drifts, and pulling it closed again once he and Zoi are within the warmth.

It's crisply cold out, the temperature low enough for it to snow and between intermittent heavy snow squalls through the still air, glimpses of weak sunshine turn the flakes glittery. Should one be looking, Dremkoth can be viewed sprawled on his ledge, unharnessed and indolent, so it's a fair guess that D'ani isn't going anywhere today. Where is he? No one seems to know. "That sounds like a Zoi down there," says a disembodied voice from overhead, recognizable as D'ani's though it sounds like he's got a cold. He doesn't appear, though he does call, "Are you with her, Ezra?" Dumb question, really. Like, when are they not?

Ezra did spy Dremkoth on his ledge, but the boy is far too shy and respectful to just go up to the bronze and ask where his rider is, or to find a rider to ask their dragon to ask Dremkoth where his rider is. So…wandering around looking is Ezra's best choice. He grins when he hears D'ani's voice though, but carefully schools it into something more cool and collected. Be a grown up. Be a grown up. "Yeah," he calls, making his way towards the ladder. "Can I come up?" Zoi's tail waves the air gently, but she knows the ladder and its limitations, and flops to the floor with a resigned sigh.

There's a hesitation before D'ani answers, "Yeah, come on up. I'd come down, but would probably fall trying. Getting up here was… tricky." Whatever that means. There's no other sounds, no head poking over the loft barrier, no grin or wink from brown eyes. The only sounds are the soft whisper-tick of snowflakes and the occasional ice pellet against the windows and the munching of hay in the stalls below. Oh and the scurrying feet of some small critter who oughtn't be in here and knows leaving is wise when it scents the canine. Zoi might see a ripple in the straw scattered on the floor by the door.

Ezra climbs up swiftly, his keen sense of what is normal picking up on the alterations in voice and behavior. "You okay?" he asks as he climbs. "I heard about the flight yesterday…" And as his head peeks over the edge of the loft it's clear he's blushing, cheeks aflame with…something. "I mean I felt it but I heard what happened."

D'ani is over by the small round vent in the peak of the roof, hands stuffed in his jacket pockets lounging on his back on a hay bale. Well, he looks like he'd first sat there and then just flopped onto his back. His knees are bent and his feet still on the floor. "Felt it huh?" The lust…the anger…the terror… He lolls his head towards Ezra as he emerges at the top of the ladder. His face is now visible rather than the back of his head and it can be seen that his nose is swollen, covered with some sort of dressing and one nostril is packed with what looks like gauze. He's got bruises under both eyes which gaze in an unfocused glassy sort of way in Ezra's general direction. I'm fine," he drawls with a crooked grin splayed across his face. He's not fine. He's higher than a kite.

To say that Ezra has a moment of panic is an understatement. His heart thuds so hard in his chest that his firelizards appear above him, chittering in alarm until he waves them off with a strangled cry. Scrambling forward, he manages to get a hold on his emotions before he runs full tilt or draws his little dagger to fight…Faranth knows what. Old memories, old demons push at his mind at the sight of those bruises on his best friend and he wrestles hard with himself so that by the time he's kneeling beside D'ani, his face is nothing but concerned. Logic is made to override emotion, forcing those fears into their dark little box in his mind. Dremkoth was fine, Dremkoth wouldn't be fine if D'ani wasn't fine. Dremkoth… The teen puts his hands on his thighs, fingers unknowingly gripping the fabric being his only visible indication of inner turmoil. Though if D'ani notices… "What happened to you?" Ezra asks, his voice only wavering a little bit.

He's smiling so he must be okay, right? Now he's grinning at Ezra's upside down face as the boy bends over him. It's not that D'ani doesn't notice the boy's alarm, he's just fellis-stupid and can't stop the giddy grin despite it registering of distress he sees. "Gold flight," he says with a smirk - as if that ought to explain everything. "You felt the rage, right? Welp, I forgot to duck." He's… bright-eyed, boneless, obviously feeling no pain at the moment. "Broke my nose. The healers reset it and say it'll mend just fine, not even a scar." One hand is withdrawn from his pocket and waved about limply to vaguely indicate Fort Weyr's airspace. "How was the flight for you?" What tact he has - not! Blame the fellis.

Ezra blinks a bit. "Rage? I…no. I just felt…uh. L-lust." More blushing. His mother would be mortified. "Duck? Who did you have to duck?" And he can't help but laugh, a laughter of nervous energy and relief as he flops down beside his best friend, shaking his head. "Breaking your nose sucks. I broke mine once. One of our runners jerked his head up and hit me right in the face." Shaking his head, he clears his throat. "It was…uh. Educational?"

"You didn't huh?" D'ani is confused for a moment then ohs to himself. Don't mind him - he's slow today. "That's because Iaverulth was too busy blooding and flirting to get into it with Zuvaleyuth." He nods sagely and then says with breezy unconcern (not that he doesn't know how bad it could have been but he's alllllll chillaxin') for the danger past, "Zuvaleyuth was furious but, come to think of it, I didn't feel her. Huh." His eyes slew to keep Ezra in his field of vision. His answer and thoughts all run together, "Who'd I what? Oh! Dtirae. Owww. Runner head's are hard!" He grimaces in sympathy. Bad idea. Despite the fellis, that hurt. He'll try to remember not to do that. As for the flight being educational, he really shouldn't ask, won't go probing for details by the bouncy-toned, "Anyone I know?" It's a pity this conversation is happening under the influence!

Ezra shakes his head a bit. "Should…do you usually feel rage?" Blink blink. He's slow too, this being new to him. He's finally mature enough to /feel/ it. And then he frowns, not sure he's heard right. "Dtirae? She…she broke your nose?" And then his blush is back, snorting and shaking his head while he jerks his hand through his hair. "Wasn't like /that/. We just…made out." And then he bolted and locked himself in his room. There should be classes for this sort of thing. Pernese Sex Ed. Pamphlets.

"Only when there are two queens fighting over the males. Which technically should never happen." D'ani replies, turning his head to eye the rafters overhead. "One or both of them wind up dead," he adds starkly and there's not enough fellis on Pern to help soften that awful thought, so he frowns at the ceiling. The question about Dtirae draws a laugh. "Yeaaaaah, she did," he affirms that sheepishly. "Zuvaleyuth felt possessive and tried to stop Iaverulth - or attack her, I'm not sure which. She shouldn't have been here. Dremkoth tackled her and took her *between* to get her away. When we landed, I guess she was still feeling her dragon and she socked me. I wasn't expecting that at all." They should do classes for the teenage Weyr residents! That would be all kinds of awkward informative-ness! He raises his hand, makes a fist and offers to fist-bump. "Congrats, man. You made it to first base, way to go!" Maybe he's punch-drunk. Haa! No pun intended!

Ezra goes a little pale. "Dead?" he whispers. "Fighting? Why can't they just…share? Or..or take turns? The runners don't fight…well, the stallions do sometimes over the mares, is it like that?" And then he blanches, blinking. "She…Dtirae…/Dtirae/ broke your nose? What-" a bitch. But he doesn't say that. Nope. Hesitantly, he returns the fist-bump. "First base? What's second base?" Eager, he is, and that just makes him blush again. "She was pretty," he mutters.

It takes D'ani a few tries because he misjudges just where Ezra's fist is, but he manages to touch knuckles finally, allowing his arm to flop back onto the hay bale he's lying on afterwards. "Yeah, sort of like stallions or bulls only far more lethal," he confirms. "They don't share. It's their instinct I guess." He shrugs about Dtirae, assuming the unfinished ‘what’ was the beginning of him asking 'what for?' It's a very good thing he doesn't know the alternative. "Dunno. Her dragon-link? Pent-up stress? Maybe I scared her. We didn't exactly ask permission for grabbing her queen and *Betweening* somewhere they'd never been before." His giddy grin is back, but his voice is mock-stern, "Second base? It's something you save for a more serious relationship, Young Man. Pretty or no, you have to respect them."

Ezra frowns, shaking his head. "She shouldn't have hit you," he says, his voice low and hiding much. "Where'd you go?" he asks next, almost dreading the answer. Then he stiffens a bit. "I'm not so young any more. And how can I avoid it if I don't know what it is? I didn't /want/ to kiss her. I just…it just /happened/."

D'ani's blithe thought on that: "Oh well. Too late now." He definitely wishes she didn't hit him but his tone is full of admiration - and a dreamy sort at that, "She sure can pack a whallop. Laid me flat out on my back." His head lolls to eye his best friend, a knowing smirk spread over his face, "Young enough not to want to kiss her even if she was pretty," he counters before his levity fades. "Sometimes the best ones just 'happen' when you're not expecting them," he says. Sort of like punches. "But regardless, I'm way older and I've not tried for second base with Dtirae." Whoa! TMI, right? Thank you fellis, for dissolving the brain-to-mouth filter! "Ahhh to Maiona," he says of where they went. He's not so numb he doesn't have an idea of how Ezra will feel about that.

Ezra frowns, shifting a bit on the hay. "I didn't want to kiss her because it…it was like I was /made/ to kiss her. Didn't…I wanted to choose my first kiss. Have…have it be special," he mutters, trailing off. Ezra…a romantic at heart? "Not in a dark tunnel of the weyr. Wanted it outside, under a tree, after a rain.." Wow, he's thought about this a lot. And then he flinches a bit. "Oh." Jealous. Jealous and other emotions, but D'ani in no state to help him work them out, so he just shoves them down again. Be a grown up. Be a man, not a boy, stupid. He opens his mouth and then closes it again, sharply.

"Oh." D'ani's teasing expression turns to approval. "That's so mature, Ezra," he says earnestly. "And rare. I approve." Ultra-relaxed or not, he really means that. Romantic? He's not seeing it until Ezra elaborates. He leavers himself up on one elbow the better to peer over at his friend. "That's really nice. Is there… something significant to you about a tree and rain?" And he can see the expression on Ezra's face, remembers how he'd reacted when he suggested they bring Rayathess along, so he can guess. "It's a place for sharing, not hoarding selfishly to myself." Us, he really means. "When I go with you, it's all yours to enjoy. When I bring someone else, it's all theirs. There's plenty of magic to share." Aaaaand he can't keep himself upright, so rolls onto his back again. "Yknow where my first kiss was? Underneath a waterfall in Maiona's heart. With my betrothed on the night of our engagement." He sighs then, but it's more regret than true grief, "Same night she died."

Ezra shrugs a bit, blushing. "Just…seems like a nice place…And there was a tree in the courtyard that was so pretty." Until it had his family piled underneath it. The tree is still there, too. Shifting, Ezra sighs. "I…like hoarding," he mutters. And there's a long silence before he says, "but I'm trying to be better. See?" And he turns a pocket inside out, revealing…nothing. Then he blinks. "Your betrothed? And…she died? In the flood?" Wait, that probably isn't right.

Oh thaaat tree. D'ani knows which one as soon as Ezra mentions a courtyard. Knowing what happened there, he murmurs, "Sometimes building new memories in a place helps. I do that at Maiona every time I take people there." He turns his head when his friend mentions hoarding, the hay rustling underneath his scalp since he's too lazy to try and lift it. "Ezra, that's great to not let something control you," he says sincerely. "Yeah, my father… you know how it goes for the sons of holders. He chose the daughter of another island holder. My folks had her folks over to visit every time I came home on break from beastcrast hall. She was there the night of the flood." And Ezra knows what happened in the flood.

Ezra exhales softly. "Maybe," he murmurs. "But…that tree is for my family. It'd…it'd be weird to…kiss someone there. That's…a place for the dead to rest." He is silent for a moment before speaking again. "I…the night you took them away…" the prisoners, "I…I started to clean my room. I'm…tired of…" He struggles with the complex emotions, of putting his broken psyche into words as he works to mend it. "Of letting things control me," he concludes, taking D'ani's words instead of trying to make up his own. They work, in a way. "Yeah," he says. "I was too young for that." He's quiet a moment, toying with some hay. "Did you like her?"

"That'd be entirely up to you," D'ani says about kissing under that special tree and while he's completely and utterly relaxed, he's no less earnest, "but it might be a place for them to smile upon you and the love of your life? When you find her, that is." See, he doesn't want to push at Ezra to handle things the way he would, just give him a chance to consider another perspective. He just as easily moves to the other topic, turning another smile of approval on his friend. "Yes, like fear. Hoarding is giving in to fear. You're stronger than that, I knew it!" Of his intended bride, "Aerin? Yeah. Well, we got to be friends, she was pretty. A nice girl." He's quiet for a few beats, from down below the stomp of a hoof rings out hollowly against a board, a swish of a tail fills in the silence. "I wasn't in love with her. I felt bad about the flood taking her though."

Ezra shrugs a bit. "Maybe," he murmurs. "You…you're way more open with Maiona than I am with Stonehaven. You're the only one I've taken there. Maybe in time…" But not now. "Fear," he says with a nod. "Fear and I are old friends. I'm tired of it. Tired of being afraid. Tired of all the locks and all the rituals that don't do anything anyway. You still got hurt." Quiet a moment, he listens and then nods. "That's sad." All of it.

It was sad. "I'm more open about a lot of things, but I'm also ten turns older. And I was eighteen when the floods came, not a small child. So it's understandable you're not, Ezra," D'ani says of his keeping Stonehaven sacrosanct. "You don't have to rush changing that until you want to. Don't force it." He draws a long breath, eyes seeing past the boards that form the ceiling not so very far away from them. "We all have fears," he says at length. "I still do," he admits with a shrug of acceptance. "I just… refuse to give them much place in my life and thoughts." He got hurt? Ohyeah, fellis-forgotten already! He touches the dressing on his nose. "This? This is just a lil bump." And then his slow-brain catches something: "Rituals? What, you had rituals that were supposed to keep me from getting hurt?"

Ezra shifts a bit, nodding his head. They are different in that way. In their ages, their maturity levels when their families were taken. "I won't," he says quietly. "What are you afraid of?" he asks, no so naieve as to be surprised his friend fears things. And then he squirms a little bit. Okay, he squirms a lot, blushing and looking away, though his shifting has his arm brushing up against D'ani's and he doesn't move it. "Yeah," he whispers. "I…yeah." And he pauses to gather his thoughts, deciding if he wants to share or not. And in the end he decides he will, because D'ani is his best friend and he's /pretty/ sure he won't get laughed at. "Back home we'd always…we'd always say 'be safe' whenever we left each other. Sort of…sort of an 'I love you' and kind of like, if we said it, nothing bad would happen. I didn't say it the last time. I forgot. And…and right after, I thought it was /because/ I missed it that they all got hurt." Heavy thoughts for a kid as young as him. "So I started doing it more, to people I cared about, when I got here. And I always do it for you, quietly, or…or just in my head."

Maybe it's the drugs numbing him that enables him to say it, maybe it's all the things he and Ezra have been through, definitely it's the level of trust Ezra has placed upon him during this particular conversation when D'ani replies slowly, reluctantly, "That my sisters perished in the floods and I will never find them." He closes his eyes then, as if the saying of it, the hearing of the same, kills something precious he's kept protected deep inside. His arm doesn't move away from Ezra's and though his eyes open while he's listening to Ezra, he's still looking at the ceiling. He mmm's in his throat understandingly. "Spoken words are powerful things," he says finally, thoughtfully. "But I think more for the speaker than the hearer. 'Be safe' is not a bad sentiment to express, Ezra. We all want that for our loved ones. And it's hard that life can be dangerous." Case in point, his broken nose. He hand lifts, finds Ezra's forearm and gives it a squeeze. "I'm…touched that you'd say it for me."

Ezra nods his head slowly, as if that's what he was expecting. "We will keep looking," he says quietly. "We'll always hold some hope." Shifting, he reaches out to D'ani's forearm in return, strengthening the grasp twofold. "I do," he says quietly. And he still will, even while trying to let go of the obsessive nature of his rituals. The ones that hold him back and prevent him from moving on, at least.

"Aye," says D'ani both of continuing the search and keeping hope alive. His hand relaxes it's comforting grip, though it doesn't move entirely away. "I'm glad," he says simply, though the two words do little to express the deep affection for his best friend and how moved he is that the young man cares enough to express it. There's companionable silence for a time, the barn sounds filling in - the creak of wood as a brief puff of wind hits the side of the barn, the shuffle-scuff one of the beasts from below makes moving around its stall, a loud whuff as something exhales. In that time the slack hand still resting upon Ezra's arm grows heavy. "I'm so proud of you, Ezra," D'ani says faintly, drowsily. A second later a gentle snore issues from the man. Fellis-sleep has descended upon him and while hay bales make awful mattresses, this won't keep him from slumber. It'll be a few hours before it wears off enough for him to awake and the pain to send him back to see the healers.

Ezra doesn't let go either, the teen craving the physical contact with another human being. He lets the silence fall and is comfortable with it, some color touching his cheeks at D'ani's words. "I'm proud of you too, D'ani," he whispers, cherishing those words and tucking them neatly away. And when the Weyrsecond falls asleep, the teen just smiles. Glancing over at him, he watches for a moment to make sure he's comfortable and then he shifts a bit into an upright position, carefully moving D'ani's hand to rest on his knee. With the help of his firelizards he gets them to bring him paper and a stylus, writing a short note before sending it off to be delivered. And then he lays down again on his back, D'ani's hand moved back onto his arm. His other arm tucked behind his head, he stares up at the ceiling and rests, keeping a relaxed vigil and letting his thoughts drift.
iting dignitary.

'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.