Fort's Forests ~~ Fort Weyr - Western Forests
The forests here grow all the more pressing, soon choking out the gravel- and sand-formed path that splits from the fork. While it continues to wind further into the darkness and coolness that only such thickly grown foliage can create, other smells hint at places yet to be fully explored. Blueberries and the calls of birds, lush blackberry thickets just out of sight, and deep undergrowth that holds promise of mysterious fungi and other such plants.
Traveling through the woods alone is always a dangerous affair … and all the moreso with whisperings of renegades and feral beasts running rampant throughout. The whoop and call of avians and firelizards penetrate the strange not-quite-silence of the forest, while deeper rumblings of creatures yet unseen might be heard in other places. Great beasts crash through the forest from time to time and set the avians into unexpected flight.


Out here in the deeper forests to the west of Fort there is an odd sense of peace and the strange not-quite silence that a forest as dense as this can boast. With no sunlight on the dreary autumn afternoon, the forests seem even darker and more foreboding to those unfamiliar with the territory. Occasionally, a call from local avians will ring out or the sound of some wild and bonded firelizards chittering as they fly above. Beyond them, nothing moves - save for a lone figure. Th'ero is dressed in his usual somber attire of all black riding gear, which allows him to blend fairly well with the shadows as he moves slowly among the trees and foliage and well off from the green choked path. It's an odd spot to find the Weyrleader, but for once he is not lost in thought. Instead, he looks to be armed with his sword, which he carefully adjusts at his side as he crouches down by some frost bitten ground. Fingers barely touch the edge of a print pressed into the ground and it's then that the bronzerider frowns, glancing up and ahead of him. Velokraeth is no doubt lounging in the nearby clearing, though at this distance the pale bronze is well hidden from view.

In contrast, it's not an odd spot to find the bluerider, and yet here she comes, moving almost soundlessly through the forest. Her tread is naturally light in this setting, but her steps are heavy enough to alert anyone to her approach as she walks around a few trees until Th'ero comes into view. "Oh," she says, stopping with a smile spreading onto her lips. She's dressed in a sweater and trousers, and though she carries her knives, she is without her bow. Out for a hike, it seems, rather than a hunt.

Th'ero's purpose for being there is still uncertain, even as he's alerted to Kimmila's presence. He doesn't startle when the bluerider speaks, her footfalls having already made him aware of her approach. The Weyrleader's sword hand does reach instinctively for his hilt, but instantly falls to his side once recognition sinks. "Kimmila," he says, echoing her smile as he slowly stands. Brown eyes are keen to notice her knives and the lack of her bow, though he muses anyhow, "Out hiking?"

Kimmila walks towards the bronzerider, a hand on her hilt as she quirks a grin at his instinctive reach. "Yeah, didn't expect you to be…free, so I decided to take a little hike," she admits, shrugging. She pauses and stops, tilting her head back and closing her eyes, breathing in the cool autumn air. "I love this part of the turn, in these forests. With the evergreens, and some of the leaves changing… It's beautiful. I wish I could capture it in my mosaics."

"I'm not technically free." Th'ero's reply carries a slight edge to it, though the small smile that he offers Kimmila softens it. "Technically on duty, but I'm taking… a more hands on approach to a few reports." He explains to her. In short: he's stretching the rules. As the bluerider tilts her head back and takes a breath of the cool autumn air, the Weyrleader only watches in silence and with a look of understanding. "It is beautiful," he agrees, murmuring. "And maybe some day you will?" Duty or not, no one is here to begrudge him a moment of rest so Th'ero carefully steps closer to Kimmila's side. "See anything interesting on your hike?" he asks, mostly curious though one may sense there's more to it then that. Work and pleasure, you bet he's trying to merge the two. As he closes the space between them, he gently lets his one arm slip around her, should the bluerider not move away.

Kimmila doesn't move away, opening her eyes to smile up at him. But then her eyes narrow slightly, and she gives him a keen, almost suspicious look. "A hands on approach? What is it?" she asks, her green eyes flicking around the area, scanning to see if she notices anything amiss. "Nothing particularly interesting. Nothing that'd count as strange, at least." Her eyes look more carefully at his sword, and her brows lift as she stiffens slightly beneath his arm. "Holdless?" she asks. With him on her left, her right hand drops to rest on her knife hilt.

Th'ero can't help but laugh at how quick Kimmila catches on, despite his attempts to keep it to himself. As her right hand moves, his free, gloved hand comes to rest over it, reassuring and calming though his touch is light. "Perhaps," he admits, neither confirming nor denying, yet his continued evasion of the direct truth could very well condemn him. He hadn't missed the glance to his sword as well, just before the bluerider stiffened beneath his arm. The Weyrleader doesn't seem tense, though he's far from relaxed as he turns his head to glance out towards the dense forests. "It's reassuring to know that you've not seen anything unusual, at least."

Kimmila frowns, looking up at him and then around. "What's happened?" she asks, mildly irritated by his attempts to keep it to himself. "Well yes, it's very reassuring that I wasn't jumped by the men who have already once tried to harm me," she says, her hackles well and truly up as she casts an angry glare at the forest at large.

A little surprised at first by Kimmila's irritation, it doesn't take long for Th'ero to realize what the situation could entail for the bluerider. Grimacing, his hold tightens around her, drawing her in close to his body despite her hackles being raised. "I didn't mean it like that." The Weyrleader says in a low voice, his tone sincere. "We've been getting reports of minor incidences, both within our boundaries and the Holds. I only just made the connection, not long ago, that this might all be linked." And with his one hand, he gestures to the forests surrounding them before bringing it back down and letting that arm slide around Kimmila as well. With a soft exhale and a brief, if not awkward pause, Th'ero adds quietly, "I should have warned you earlier. For that, I am sorry."

Kimmila is drawn in close despite her tension not yet abating, eyes not leaving the forest. She snorts softly and wraps one arm around the bronzerider, but keeps her other on her knife, even though she's now front-to-front with him. "Yeah," she says quietly. And there doesn't seem to be much else that she's willing to say right now, her head turned and peering into the forest suspiciously.

Th'ero shakes his head as Kimmila continues to remain suspicious, though knowing full well the bluerider has very valid reasons. "Kimmila, you're safe. I'm here and Velokraeth is nearby. They'd have to be utterly insane to try anything." He says gently, trying to reassure her. Drawing one of his arms back, he frees his hand from his hold on her to lift it up and reaching to cup the side of her face. But the gesture is never completed. The air seems suddenly alive with a subtle vibration, as if many voices have rose at once as one. Th'ero's hand slowly stops midair and it's the Weyrleader's turn to go rigid against Kimmila. "No…" The word escapes him as though he were struck forcibly in the chest and as his gaze fixates past Kimmila and towards the Weyr mere seconds before Velokraeth's keen echoes to them from the clearing. Paling, Th'ero visibly winces, jaw tense as he grits his teeth over the sound, lips curling back in an almost pained grimace. Unknowingly, he begins to back away from Kimmila, his movements stiff. "The clearing…" is all he manages to grunt in warning to her before he's suddenly turning and running off into the dense forests.

Kimmila is about to question the sanity of those Holdless men when she is struck with the same sensations. She, too, stiffens all the more, stumbling back a bit with a soft gasp. Her hand lifts to her mouth and her skin pales, giving her head a firm shake. Of course, her first fear is for her mother and father, and there is a heart-stopping moment of terror before Varmiroth relays the names to her from the Weyr, where he is resting on Wiyaneth's ledge. She stumbles after Th'ero, her strides becoming more steady as the realization settles around her that it's not someone she knows. Still, it hurts, and she runs all the faster after the bronzerider.

Th'ero is fueled more by the combined onslaught of emotion and mental barrage, duty and perhaps fear as well. He doesn't go crashing blindly through the forest however and soon emerges into a small clearing. Velokraeth, tensed and upset, waits for him, his pale bronze hide tinged grey and his eyes whirling in anxiousness and grief, his keening quieted to a low grieved rumble. As the Weyrleader never bothered taking the straps from his lifemate, it saves him the trouble of having to do it now, when his mind can barely focus. Gripping the straps with one hand, he turns, eyes dark and clouded but seeking out Kimmila all the same. Should the bluerider have followed him into the clearing, he'll turn to offer her his hand, a grim and pained expression on his face. "It will save time." He manages to choke out, while Velokraeth wings shift from listless to restless, already preparing to take off even before his rider has mounted up.

Kimmila races after Th'ero into the clearing, her green eyes flicking to Velokraeth and then to Th'ero, grabbing his hand and using it to help herself up onto his bronze. Seems she's had the same thought, as she doesn't even hesitate to mount the much, much larger dragon, her hand patting his hide. "Thanks, Velokraeth," she manages to get out, holding back her own grief and the bombardment of emotions her naturally emotional dragon is sending to her. Her breathing is hitched but she holds it together, buckling hastily into the straps.

Gripping Kimmila's hand firmly, Th'ero lingers only to help the bluerider mount up and buckle in before he follows suit, settling into place behind her. At the patting gesture, Velokraeth turns his oversized head around on his neck, crooning softly in return - it's the bronze's pleasure, it seems, despite the circumstances. The Weyrleader finishes with securing himself into place seconds before the bronze gathers himself into a crouch and launches into the air. The bronzerider seems to hold it together now as well, though one look at his expression betrays all, as he no longer has the mental strength to keep his guards up. He's silent the entire trip back to Fort Weyr, Velokraeth stubbornly refusing to Between it and flying straight. Even so, it's not long before the bronze settles into a slow dive, angling himself towards the administration complex, rather then the bowls. Settling in to land as gracefully as one of his build allows, the bronze begins to greet and echo various other dragons in a subdued and grieving tone. Again, little time is wasted as Th'ero unbuckles himself and prepares to dismount, though he allows Kimmila to go first before joining her.

Kimmila closes her eyes and keeps her head down for the duration of the flight, her fingers brushing briefly against Velokraeth's hide in a silent gesture that's meant to convey her gratefulness for the avoidance of between. When the bronze lands, Varmiroth is there too, gliding down off of Wiyaneth's ledge to meet them as Kimmila dismounts and carefully climbs down off the huge dragon. When her feet touch the bowl floor she's met by Varmiroth's muzzle, and it's then that she lets the first few tears fall. With an arm around the blue's muzzle, the dragon keening softly, Kimmila's eyes search for Th'ero, looking to see what he'll do from here.

With both Th'ero and Kimmila safely dismounted, Velokraeth moves back to allow Varmiroth more room. Briefly, the bronze lingers to gently nudge Th'ero with the very tip of his blunted muzzle before leaping the short distance to his own ledge. The Weyrleader seems frozen with indecision even with his bronze's reassurance. So for a few awkward moments, he can only stare as if transfixed and lost as he looks towards Kimmila. Somewhere in his mind, the tears register and that seems to shake him out of his stupor. "I need to go speak with my staff." Th'ero eventually chokes out, voice thick with withheld grief. With that realization, he takes a deep, steadying breath and straightens his shoulders, adopting his familiar neutral expression though his eyes remain haunted. He turns as if to leave then for the chambers, only to pause, hesitant as his gaze drops to the stone ledge. "Come with me?" he asks in a low and quiet voice, eventually glancing up over his shoulder to her as he waits for her decision.

From her ledge, Wiyaneth pushes herself ponderously into the air, winging up to the Star Stones to lend her voice to the keening, even as the emotive queen sends out soothing emotions to the Weyr. On the ground, Kimmila rubs Varmiroth's muzzle, wiping at her eyes with the back of her sleeve before she meets his gaze. Biting her lower lip, she nods in silent agreement as he turns away, but she doesn't have time to wonder what she's going to go do because he's turning back a moment more. "Of course," she says softly, giving Varmiroth's muzzle another caress and then a gentle push, her strides closing the distance between herself and the Weyrleader.

Briefly, Th'ero seems relieved by Kimmila's response as the bluerider joins him by his side. It quickly fades back to neutrality, his gaze traveling upwards as Wiyaneth passes by overhead to the star stones. Again, an arm slips loosely around Kimmila as the Weyrleader turns again to lead them both into the council chambers. Head turned down and his expression a conflict of emotions, it's difficult to read just what the bronzerider is thinking. The meeting is brief and straight to the point. A confirmation of who, what and when and most importantly how and once those details are shared and confirmed, the topic switches to the grimmer issues of dealing with kin and family and other details. Never is Kimmila's presence questioned, though she may get a few sidelong glances. By the time the meeting ends, evening has begun to settle in and while it is the dinner hour, few seem eager at the idea of food. Th'ero is silent and brooding as he exits the chambers, pausing by the door to gently pull Kimmila aside with him. It takes a few awkward seconds before the Weyrleader can find his voice, but when he does, his voice is barely above a whisper. "Thank you," he says, mouth drawn down into a thin line as he keeps his grief and emotions buried and controlled. "You didn't have to. Are…" he hesitates, "Are you okay?"

Kimmila does not protest his touch as she walks beside him into the meeting. And through its duration the bluerider remains quiet and still, standing at the Weyrleader's side. At moments of high emotion, the arm closest to him will move slowly, just enough for a gentle touch against the small of his back; soft and reassuring and hopefully soothing. She doesn't speak, either, until the meeting has concluded and Th'ero pulls her aside. "You're welcome," she says, looking up at him with concern on her face. "I'm doing okay. I didn't know her. But Varmiroth takes these things hard." She shakes her head, a flicker of pain in her eyes - Varmiroth's pain rather than her own - before she's able to push it back, comforting the blue as much as she keeps her expression her own. "Are /you/?" she presses gently, reaching up a hand to rest light fingertips against his chest.

"I did not know her personally either." Th'ero admits with what sounds like disappointment or regret, though he doesn't linger on it for long. "He does?" Turning his head, the bronzerider spares a glance towards where the blue may be. The Weyrleader shakes his head then, eyes closing briefly as he glances back to Kimmila. "Velokraeth grieves as well." He admits quietly, though Th'ero doesn't elaborate on what he, personally, may be feeling. At her touch, he glances down to her hand before reaching up to gather it between his. Somewhere along in time, he had removed his gloves and he seems to find some comfort just in the contact of skin against skin. "No." he answers truthfully to her question, yet his expression remains unmoving. "I've never experienced anything like this." And he doesn't like it that much is clear. "It's… very difficult." Th'ero mutters, mouth twisting into another grimace.

Kimmila nods, "It is," she agrees quietly. "It does not get easier. It makes me wonder what the time of thread was really like." There's a furrowing of her brows and an expression of grief and pain at the thought of this emotion being a far more common occurrence. Her fingers curl around his hand and she nods. "All the dragons grieve," she says softly, "as do we. Come," she encourages softly, stepping away from him and trying to give him a little encouraging tug with her hand, "Let's go to your weyr, where it's more private, so we can grieve." The bluerider, it seems, is holding back her dragon's tears and does not wish to shed them in public.

"Full of grief and sorrow, no doubt." Th'ero remarks darkly, "And I've a new found respect for our predecessors if this is what their life entailed." Kimmila's remark has unveiled an entirely new set of thoughts for the bronzerider to mull over as his frown suggests as well. He gives the barest of shivers at the thought of this being a regular occurrence and having to soldier on and on regardless. At her encouragement, the Weyrleader gives his head a little shake to clear it, following her after a moments pause. "Yes," Th'ero agrees as he steps forwards after the bluerider tugs at his hand. "I think that would be best." It would seem that he has no wish to shed any of his emotion in public either and slowly he begins to make the short trek to his weyr, keeping his hand joined with Kimmila's even as they approach the wooden doors. Shouldering it open, he leads her inside before following behind her and letting the door close heavily behind him.

Kimmila walks with Th'ero into his weyr and once inside, she gives his hand a squeeze before she lets go and walks to the kitchenette to pour them both a drink. Of whatever, it doesn't matter. She pours it and walks back to wherever he ended up, pressing a glass into his hand. Her eyes shimmer with tears and a few fall down her cheeks, before she chuckles softly. "Varmiroth grieves hard," she murmurs, wiping at the tears with the back of her sleeve.

Th'ero remains by the doors even as Kimmila moves off, his posture stiff and his haunted eyes staring distantly at nothing. Eventually, he musters enough strength and will power to push away from the doors and over to the couch. Settling heavily to the cushions, he leans forwards rather then back, one arm draping over his legs while the other props an elbow to his knee and his hand runs over his face. Pausing, he keeps his hand over his brow, casting his features under shield and shadow. And that is how Kimmila will likely find him, though his hand drops and his head rises when she presses the glass to him. Though his eyes are clouded with grief and sadness, no tears are to be seen but he has to clear his throat slightly before being able to say a simple word. "Thanks." The drink itself and most likely wine, is knocked back at an alarming rate. Half the glass is downed and Th'ero pulls another grimace as the aftertaste gives him a slight kick. It works in jolting him though. Glancing upwards, Kimmila's tears have him reaching for her with his free hand, seeking to touch and then tug her down to the couch with him. "So he does and he is not alone. Neither are you." He says, finally speaking up though his voice is gruff.

Kimmila is pulled down, and it doesn't take much to get her to settle onto the couch beside him, leaning against his shoulder as she also takes a few gulps of wine. "And neither are you," she says, turning to look at him through her watery eyes. Reaching out, her hand seeks his, fingers twining if she's able to grasp his hand and give it a tight squeeze. More tears fall and she shakes her head as Varmiroth settles to the ledge outside, his keening low but anguished. Sighing, Kimmila shakes her head and tilts her head forward, leaning all the more against him as she starts to let Varmiroth's grief show more, through her.

"I know." Th'ero's reply is spoken low, following a shaky exhale of breath as his fingers twine with Kimmila's and the tight squeeze is returned. As she tilts her head forwards, the Weyrleader shifts on the couch, setting his half finished wine aside to free his hand as his arm slips around her. Unless she protests, he'll draw her close to rest against him, her head to his chest and his head resting over hers. Comforting words are murmured; some almost incoherent his voice is so gruff and thick. Outside, Varmiroth's low and anguished keen is answered by a softer and saddened keen from Velokraeth, though the bronze croons comfortingly towards the blue.

Kimmila is drawn against his body and one arm slips across his chest as her body shudders. She is a woman who holds her grief close. She does not scream or flail or gasp for breath - all that comes are slow tears and some shuddering of her body, as tightly held as skin stretched over a drum. On the ledge, Varmiroth continues to keen, though after the first one it settles to a softer sound, his talons scraping slowly along the stone he rests on.

Th'ero goes not outwardly show his grief as well. There is no rage or dramatics from the Weyrleader, only silence save for his slow and heavy breathing. His body is also taught with tension and stress but no tears fall. One look in his eyes though confirms that he is not, in fact, heartless as his grief and pain is visible enough for anyone to see. When Kimmila shudders, his hold on her tightens and his hand slips from hers to gently begin to roam over her arm, side and back in a soothing manner. "It's okay." He whispers softly, unable to find any other words in his muddled thoughts. Out on the ledge, Velokraeth croons again to the still keening Varmiroth and then making a series of low rumbles and other noises as he tries to calm and comfort the distraught blue.

Kimmila keeps her eyes closed, leaning against him and accepting his comfort and his strength as she works through the grief with Varmiroth, walking down that path that the two of them have walked a few times before. Death is perhaps not as common as it was during the time of thread, but this pair has still felt their share. As her shaking subsides, Varmiroth's movements do as well, until the blue stretches out on the ledge and drops off into a sudden and exhausted sleep. Only then does Kimmila give a soft hiccup and begin to relax, tension easing from her muscles as she finally looks up at Th'ero, looking to see what he needs, now that Varmiroth has been tended to. Her eyes are wet and red, but no longer hold the amount of grief they did before. Pain still lingers, but there is more concern there now - concern for the Weyrleader and the loss of his first rider.

One would think Th'ero would be overwhelmed by the grief, considering he is so fresh a rider and had never experienced death in this light, as Kimmila and Varmiroth had. Perhaps it could lie partially with Velokraeth, but most may be the bronzerider's own doing. As Varmiroth finally settles into an exhaustive sleep, Velokraeth comes to rest as well with a tired and sad sounding sigh, settling close to the blue but still mindful of the space between them. Inside, the Weyrleader draws his head back when he feels Kimmila relax and then move to look up at him. His eyes, dark and haunted but still so obviously dry, are not devoid of emotion. Pain is there, with his grief and other emotions flicker by so fast as to be unreadable. Her concerned look is met and returned, Th'ero now letting some of the tension ease from his body but still so very little. "I'll be fine, Kimmila" he murmurs to her, a hand coming up to gently cup the side of her face, the gesture meant to be comforting and reassuring when the tone of his voice seems anything but.

Kimmila tilts her head against his hand briefly, her own hand lifting to rub gently against his chest. "I know you /will/ be," she murmurs, "but you're not right now. Let it out, Th'ero. It's best that way…" She frowns slightly as she watches him, her hand still moving across his chest in slow but firm strokes.

"No, I'm not. And it will be some time before this will ease." Th'ero grudgingly admits, letting his gaze fall to where Kimmila's hand rubs against his chest. He finds comfort in that touch and instinctively leans towards it, his own hand continuing to stroke along her back in kind. When he glances up to meet her gaze again, his frown is puzzled until it dawns on him what she's requesting. Mouth drawing down into a thin line, he looks away towards the cold and fireless hearth and he gives a slight shake of his head. "That's not how I cope." The Weyrleader murmurs stubbornly. "It may seem heartless, but I just… can't." Can't or won't seems to be the argument.

It's his stubbornness that has her questioning the 'can't'. Kimmila continues to frown, her eyes trying to find his once more. "Then how do you cope?" she asks quietly, trying not to get too irritated. "It's not heartless, I just…" Her mouth presses together lightly, and she gives her head a shake. "You're too tightly wound," she murmurs. "You need to let it out before you burst."

"Just…?" Th'ero pushes gently from where Kimmila drifts off, letting his shoulders drop then as he lifts his head up and settles back heavily into the corner of the couch. As abrupt as his movements may have been, so are his hands as they move to draw the bluerider with him, though he leaves it to her how she wants to settle against him, if at all. "I just cope." The Weyrleader remains stubborn, knowing he's frustrating her but unable to come up with any other answer. When the truth is murmured, he grimaces, his eyes still downcast and his head tilted down as well, letting his hair mask most of his features. "I can't." he repeats, though this time it's said in a low whisper.

Kimmila moves with him, settling against his side and partly against his chest. Her hand lifts from his tunic to brush the hair away from his face, parting that delicious curtain of curls so she can look at him better. "Why not?" she asks, pressing him gently as her fingers hold away his hair, letting it slip through her fingers, but never falling back in front of his face again.

Th'ero allows her to brush back his hair and his gaze drifts upwards once more to meet Kimmila's, still haunted and pained. "Does it bother you that I can't?" he asks, before sighing wearily and closing his eyes. Stress, tension and the onslaught of emotions take their toll. Even his stubbornness and shields can't withstand that long. Try as he might, the Weyrleader will crack despite his efforts. "Tears are not how I cope." He mutters softly, breathing slowly but shallow. "They never brought comfort to me in the past."

Kimmila shakes her head slowly. "It doesn't bother me if you don't cry," she admits, still watching him as she absently toys with his hair. Hey, she's holding it, so why not? "It wouldn't bother me if you did, either." She's quiet for a moment, pondering her next words before she tries to meet his eyes again. "How do you cope, then?" she asks quietly. "I don't care how you cope, so long as you…do something." Her hand moves away from his hair finally, down to cup his cheek as she tries to draw his gaze to hers. "What do you need?" she whispers, words barely audible.

Relief floods into his features when Kimmila elaborates, but even it is short lived before it disappears. Th'ero falls silent then, letting her absently toy with his hair while he withdraws inside his thoughts. "Once by fighting, but that was long ago." The Weyrleader admits in a gruff, low voice. His eyes close again when she cups his cheek, turning into her touch. "In my own way." Th'ero begins, stubborn until the last until he finally gives in with a long sigh. His eyes open then and meet hers, grief and sadness at the forefront now. "You've seen it often enough yourself." He explains with a bitter, twisted smile. "I withdraw. Or I did, once, as well." Frustrated then by his inability to explain, he makes a low sound in his throat. "I have what I need." Th'ero finally manages to say it, giving Kimmila a pointed look the moment the words escape him, though his expression still remains sad, grief overruling all even as he tries to evade.

Kimmila's fingers are gentle as they stroke his cheek. "I have," she agrees with a small nod, watching him closely. Trying to determine what she should do that would be best for him. If she should push him, or simply agree. In the end all she does is nod, pushing herself up to try and give him a gentle, loving kiss. "I'm here, Wingmate," she whispers, her sad eyes searching his.

Pushing would have triggered his temper as he'd fall on old defenses, though it would have ended in him being emotionally spent and perhaps enough to let go. Agreeing keeps things calm for now, as Th'ero seems content despite the tenseness of his body to remain where he is and simply wallow in his black mood. The kiss is gently returned and Kimmila's searching look is echoed with a sad one of his own. "I know." He murmurs back before leaning forwards to seek out another kiss. His are also gentle and loving, short lived at first but then linger longer and longer with each. Eventually he stops, turning his head to nuzzle into her neck, hiding his face as he just holds himself there and her to him. This is his comfort it seems and his way to cope. Another heavy, shaky sigh escapes him and his body shivers as the tension in him snaps and he sags under her.

Kimmila meets each one of his kisses, letting him be the one to end each, there to take what he offers and to return it as well. Soft lips and warm breath are offered, her body shifting closer to his to rest against him. When he nuzzles her neck she sighs softly, tilting her head to grant him better access, while her hand slides to the back of his neck, between his skin and the couch cushions, squeezing as she begins to massage those tight muscles. She says nothing, but lets her actions do the talking. The steady beating of her heart, the warmth of her breath against his hair as she kisses it gently, the strength in her fingers as she kneads the tightness beneath his skin. She makes a soft noise in her throat at his shaky sigh, pressing her lips against his hair once more and exhaling softly. "I'm here," she murmurs once more, almost too soft to be heard.

Letting his arms slip around her again as Kimmila shifts closer, his grip is tight and there is need behind it, but of a different sort. He keeps his head buried against her neck, unmoving despite her touch to the back of his neck and his hair. The bluerider's persistence pays off though, as enough of his resolve is chipped away and he drops his mask as Weyrleader and his sense of duty, his reservations and lets himself, for once, just be nothing more then a rider and very much human. Even as his grief is allowed to finally seek an outlet, his tears come silently and noticed only because he's pressed as he is against Kimmila's skin. His body shudders as he exhales heavily and shakily again and his hands come to rest on her back, fingers digging into her gently as his hands clench. It is by far no grand outburst of sobs or anguished cries, but as silent as one can be.

If Kimmila is surprised at the sudden dampness against her neck, it doesn't show itself. She stays there, her hand squeezing the back of his neck, her lips against his hair, holding him as much as she's holding her. Her breath remains steady and warm, and her head tilts a little more to rest against his.

It lasts only for a few moments before Th'ero has shed enough of his grief and pain to regain a steadier control. Though it lingers, it's nowhere near as strong as before and brings some relief to the bronzerider, though he'd be very reluctant to admit it. As it is, he says nothing about the tears and as he lifts his head from her neck, he tries to hide it by scrubbing at his face as he would were he tired. Which he is as well, exhausted mentally and physically, sagging almost boneless into the couch and beneath Kimmila's continued touch. When his hand finally falls so his arm can encircle the bluerider again, his eyes are a touch clearer, though the evidence is there and he doesn't quite meet her glance. Visibly swallowing, he clears his throat softly before speaking in a low voice as though nothing had occurred. "I've never experienced anything like that before." Th'ero admits, a touch out of the blue. "I thought I had had felt grief and loss. But never to that level." He shivers then, pulling her close as if for reassurance.

For real? He's trying to /hide/ it? Kimmila gives him a level look, though it's gentle, moving her hand to brush her thumb against the dampness on his cheeks. She knows, and she wants him to know that she knows, but she spares the poor boy his ego and doesn't actually say anything about it. Resting her head against his shoulder, she snuggles down against him and resumes rubbing her hand over his chest. "It's like a flight, only with grief instead of lust," she murmurs, sharing her thoughts on the matter. "Plus…I think it gives us just a taste of what it'd be like to lose our own lifemates." She can't help but shudder at that thought, while Varmiroth shifts where he sleeps outside. "Just a taste, and it's hard not to react to that realization of what /could/ happen," she muses softly.

Indeed, Th'ero was and still is trying to hide it, though Kimmila's level look tells him all he needs know. The Weyrleader doesn't bristle or react negatively though, as her silence on the matter calms him, as does her snuggling down against him. Leaning to her touch, he lowers his head down to kiss the top of her head gently and then rests the side of his face up against her hair. "I much prefer the flights." He mutters softly, smirking and yet finding himself agreeing to the bluerider's thoughts. While she shudders, Th'ero visibly flinches and mentally recoils from the thought of loosing Velokraeth. "To be dragonless…" he begins only to let the rest fall unsaid. "I'd much rather die together. Seems much kinder." Shifting a little so he can reach his wine, the Weyrleader is silent as he finishes the last portion of the glass, relaxing a little more as it warms him and instantly settling back against Kimmila the moment the now empty glass is set aside. "Just a taste is all I can and wish to handle, for now. I… don't even want to think too far along those lines."

Kimmila nods her head, moving it against his tunic as she rests there. There's a soft chuckle from her, and a little smile. "I do too," she agrees, hand continuing to slide against his chest, fingers toying with the laces. They go still for a moment, and then she nods again. "I would too. Or just after, if that was the case," she murmurs. "No, nor do I," she agrees, "so let's think about something else." Tilting her head up, she gives him a little smile of caring and understanding. "Like when we're going to go explore those Xanadu ruins. Have you heard anything more about them?" It's her turn to shift, picking up her wine and taking a sip, holding the glass lightly against his chest to balance it.

Th'ero leans his head back once again against the couch, his body shifting beneath Kimmila as he moves to make himself comfortable. Her continued touch has him closing his eyes briefly as he lets himself be reassured and comforted, though they open partially when she toys with the laces of his tunic and by her response. "Mhm." Is the Weyrleader's only response to that and letting the topic slide as grief subsides enough to be bearable. When she tilts her head up to look at him, Th'ero's eyes meet hers, now open and no longer as haunted as moments earlier. Sadness is still there, but the small smile he gives in return reaches them. "Sadly, no. I've not been down to Xanadu yet." He admits with a shake of his head. Once Kimmila has settled once more with wine in hand, he reaches up to gently stroke a few of his fingers through her hair this time, his movements slow and ever gentle, if not slightly thoughtful. "Were you still thinking of visiting them? There is a catch, though, if I recall. We have to help?"

Kimmila closes her eyes when his fingers touch her hair, taking another sip of the wine. "I would like to explore the ruins," she answers, "and if that means we have to be on a clean up crew, I'm fine with that. Are you?" she asks, glancing at him with her brows arching. Wondering, perhaps, if cleaning up is beneath Fort's newest Weyrleader. Her green eyes hold a touch of amusement, though.

"Of course. I've never had issues with work like that." Th'ero replies, a touch amused as his smile widens. "Depends as well if Xanadu's Leadership would be unsettled or curious to know why I'm suddenly among the clean up crews." He adds, though from his tone it's hard to tell if he's being entirely serious. The Weyrleader continues to let his fingers weave through her hair, eventually brushing up along the curve of her neck. "Perhaps once the weyrlings are graduated, which will be soon, we'll go together then?"

Kimmila hmms softly, finishing her wine and leaning away to set the glass aside before she returns to her place against him. "Would you rather talk to them first and get their clearance for us? Or would you rather remove your knot and just show up and offer to help?" she asks, one brow quirking up in a slightly mischievous look. Her eyes close and her head tips forward when he touches her neck, making a soft sound of pleasure. "When is graduation?" she murmurs quietly. "I need to know…" when she's not allowed to visit.

Th'ero gives Kimmila a long look in return for her mischievous remark, brows rising and seemingly in disapproval. It's only a heartbeat later though that that facade dissolves and the Weyrleader is chuckling softly. "Tempted to just remove my knot and go undercover. But that wouldn't be fair. No, I think I'll talk with them first. Could be they don't need clean up crew now." He murmurs, letting his fingers trail along her neck and down to her back again. "Soon." Th'ero tells her, sounding both pleased and not in the same instant. "Within the sevenday for sure and most likely near to the end."

Kimmila meets his gaze, not flinching away at his apparent disapproval. When he drops the facade, she just grins all the wider, and gives him a nod. "I think that's the best plan," she agrees, leaning into his touch with another soft sound. "Okay," she says quietly, shifting against his body and letting her fingers toy with his laces on his tunic once more.

"Then it's settled." Th'ero confirms with a soft sigh, not of sadness but more of relief. When Kimmila toys with the laces of his tunic again, the Weyrleader chuckles softly. Gently and carefully, he moves himself out from under the bluerider and then slowly rises to his feet. He seems reluctant to move at all, however and that much shows in his eyes as he turns his head to the bluerider. "I need to tend to Velokraeth," he tells her softly, pausing and then adding with a vague smile. "First, that is. You're welcome to make yourself comfortable." Of course, that is already known but Th'ero mentions it anyways, gesturing with a hand towards the couch and his private quarters as well. He then slowly steps away, turning to disappear into a smaller part of the weyr that leads to his bronze's couch and resting spot. In his haste to return to Fort, the bronzerider had neglected a few things and if he wishes for any peace for the night's activities, he best well tend to Velokraeth now or pay the price later.


'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.