'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.

Fort Weyr - Ezra's Room

Is there anything that smells *quite* like a teenage boy's room? The room that Ezra was given after his rather abrupt arrival at Fort Weyr is one that does not suit his station, but speaks to the sympathy his story brought up in people. One of the larger residential rooms, it actually consists of both a living room and a private bedroom. The rooms are dirty, being that Ezra has not allowed a drudge in here in turns, and covered in *things*. This boy is a bit of a hoarder, there is no denying that. But beneath all the stuff, there are some pieces of furniture. The living room has a small table and two old chairs, as well as a lumpy couch that is covered in clothes and other various things. It also has a fireplace, the smoke drawn up through a tunnel in the rock.
The bedroom has a large bed with rumpled, messy sheets and lots and lots of blankets and pillows, as well as piles of more stuff that cover the dresser and wardrobe. There are tools, bits of wood, fabric, technology parts, old bits of cloth, and a hundred other random things. There is also food stashed everywhere. Much of it has gone bad, but until Ezra's firelizards can sneak it out, it remains to rot. Another thing the rooms have in abundance are glowbaskets, which are placed on every surface and kept filled and bright constantly. He might be just a little afraid of the dark.

It's two days after Gold Hill, and Rayathess has been moved to his own quarters. Under guard, of course, but the man has been allowed to wash and eat and - perhaps most importantly - rest. Healers were also offered if needed. During that time, Ezra has been in his own room, puttering around and moving things. Picking this thing up, putting it over there, making a little fort out of blankets and sitting beneath them, then going to the caverns and bringing a platter full of food back to the room, where he promptly stashed it in little nooks and crannies and hiding places. An apple in his underwear drawer, a meatroll in a glow basket, and some food given to Zoi and the firelizards as well. Some of which they eat, and others they stash in their own private places. It's a little hoarding army.

D'ani's been busy with wrapping up weyrling-type things, studying for a couple of tests he must now take early because of his re-assignment, doing a few of the drills and in-field tests and studying those maps, meeting with Inri and Abigail and packing a few clothes in a carrysack to await in readiness for the departure once they know where they're going. Now however, dressed not in leathers but in crisp white shirt, pressed khaki slacks and shined shoes instead of boots, he heads, to Ezra's quarters as requested, takes a deep breath and raps smartly on the door.

Barking erupts, as expected, and then Ezra's shouting voice to get Zoi to be quiet, and then a "Who is it?" Assuming D'ani answers truthfully, the boy then unlocks all the locks on his door and pulls it open, peering out at his best friend. "Hi," he says, eyes darting around D'ani's outfit. "You look good," he says. He, by contrast, is a bit of a mess. Same clothes he's worn for a few days, which probably means he hasn't bathed either. Hair sticking up, circles beneath his eyes.

"It's D'ani," says the weyrling promptly. It seems this is not the time to joke with Ezra and his mood is just shy of somber. "Hey, Ezra," he says as the door is opened, reaching a hand out to Zoi for her to lick and hopefully forestall any attempt of hers to jump on him. The boy looks like he hasn't slept since they'd tried to go see Rayathess and so his "Thanks," is coupled with, "Haven't you been able to sleep?" He squints briefly at Ezra's clothes and asks, "Are you ah… ready to go see your brother? Th'ero says we may." Then he adds mildly, "I can wait if you'd like to change and um, comb your hair."

Ezra steps back into his room so D'ani can enter, lifting a hand to touch his hair with a little grimace. "No," he admits looking down at the floor. Sheepish, nervous, he fidgets with the hem of his shirt. "I…should I? I should, huh. What…what should I wear?" What do you wear for a reunion with a brother you thought murdered? He looks at D'ani's clothes, thoughtful, and begins to edge back into the bedroom. "Should…I've got a black shirt…and…maybe some brown pants? And maybe my jacket?"

With a quiet chuckle that he means to put the boy at ease, D'ani steps into the room and says lightly, "Yep, you should. And I think anything that is clean and fairly wrinkle-free ought to do. The black shirt and brown pants sound fine. And your jacket. Would you like me to wrangle an iron from one of the nannies in the laundry for you? I'm an expert shirt-presser." He's had to do for himself for a long time now.

Ezra pulls a shirt out of the bottom of a drawer that looks like it's been wadded in a corner for quite some time. Because, no surprise, it has been. This kid has no life skills. "Uh," he says, giving it a little shake that only half unravels it. "Yeah?" he says, looking sheepish and down at the floor again. "I don't know what to say to him," he murmurs, fidgeting with the shirt, plucking at it even.

D'ani holds up one finger, hold that thought. "Do you have a belt? And some nice shoes? See if you can find them and I'll be right back," he says and slips out. It's not far - just down the hall to where the bathing caverns and laundry are and he runs. There the nannies are so anxious to help that instead of giving him one of the hot irons and the insulated bag to keep it hot, three of them follow him back. His arms are loaded with towel, washcloth, basin, pitcher of hot water and sandsoap so he uses his toe to tap on Ezra's door once again. Somehow he gets them to back off and he slips inside without them following when Ezra lets him back in. The items are set somewhere in Ezra's bedroom, "Quick," he holds out a hand for the shirt. "Why don't you give me the pants too and I'll have them go press them. And your shoes; they can shine them for you. Otherwise, they'll insist on coming in to sponge-bathe you." He rolls his eyes. Nannies!

Ezra looks up, startled, and wordlessly passes over the items that D'ani requests. Though he goes utterly pale at the bronzeling's next remark. "S-s-sponge bath?" That would be mortifying! Looking at everything D'ani brought, the boy goes over to begin washing /himself/, thankyouverymuch. He scrubs and shivers, scouring his skin so roughly it turns nice and pink.

Yeah, who needs that, right? D'ani agrees and so he takes the clothes, heads to the outer room, stepping out with into the hall with the aunties. He'll accompany them to the laundry and oversee the pressing, keep them busy chattering while he nods, appearing to listen raptly while Ezra bathes, returning in a quarter of an hour with the clothes on a hanger. "They're onto a new project, I think you're safe," he says upon being let in once more. "Here ya go," he hands the clothes and shoes over and busies himself rubbing Zoi's ears while Ezra dresses. And about that thought the boy had voiced, he suggests, "Start with hello?"

Ezra gets dressed in the privacy of his bedroom while Zoi occupies D'ani with licks and demands for attention. "I guess," he says, stepping out of his room a few moments later, looking transformed. In his neatly pressed clothes and Stonehaven jacket, he looks superb. "Okay," he says then, taking a deep breath. "I'm ready." He thinks. Hesitating, he walks towards the door and fidgets some more.

D'ani tries not to worry overmuch, but can't hide the concern from his eyes as he turns from Zoi to Ezra. But, "You look great," he says honestly, rising from where he's knelt beside the canine. Reaching Ezra, he gives the boy's shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "He's got his reasons for not… showing up sooner, Ezra. I'm sure he'll explain." It's vague, it's a sucky attempt to reassure the boy and he knows it, but it's the best he can do without overstepping. He too, moves to the door, "Is Zoi coming along?"

Ezra's eyes narrow at D'ani's attempt to defend Rayathess, and he shakes his head, jaw set and stubborn. "Yes," he says, snapping his fingers to bring Zoi to his side. Then, straightening his shoulders, he steps out of the room but then moves aside so D'ani can lead the way.

D'ani mutters to himself; he's worried for Ezra, trying to re-adjust his original mindset regarding Rayathess and well… not say too much before the pair meet, but of course Ezra can't know that. "This way then," he says quietly and heads off into the corridors that he's told house the hold-heir now. It's not hard to find the quarters because two burly and armed guards stand at the door. Names, he's learning, have a way of getting repeated, so he leaves them off, "Th'ero has given us permission to see your charge," he says carefully but confidently. And when they allow, he'll rap, knuckles on wood sounding brisk.

And as they wait for Rayathess to open the door, Ezra's hand slips gently into D'ani's, clutching it fiercely while his other hand reaches down to rub Zoi's ears. Steady, steady…though he's trembling as he stares at that closed door.

Rayathess’ Room

The room is tidy but sparse, as he has no possessions or anything but the clothes on his back to call his own. The furniture really is sparse. Functional, but lacking. Two chairs, a small table, a few storage trunks, a lone rug and a small room recessed in the back where the bed is likely tucked away.

The burly and armed Guards will give both D'ani and Ezra the long, studious look and then likely turn to confer with themselves before the burliest of the two wave them through. Go on and be quick about it, his gesture seems to say. Though really, they won't care how long they take, but rest assured they'll be alert and listening for any suspicious sounds. Within the room, Rayathess has indeed used the time to rest (to finally have a bed to sleep in!), clean up and change into fresher clothes, though they hang a little loosely on his frame. His hair is still shaggy and long, but at least it's been tidied as best the young man can manage. The room is tidy but sparse, as he has no possessions or anything but the clothes on his back to call his own. Rayathess starts a little at the knock on the door, instantly wary and uncertain as he turns to glance towards it. He had just begun to slowly pace the room again, restless but still too apprehensive to go out into the Weyr itself. "Come in," he calls out, trying to keep his voice firm and steady though it may falter in the end. Slowly, he takes a few steps away from the door, alert and tense even as he tries to inwardly talk himself down to a calmer state. This is not the camps, he has nothing to fear of knocks to the door.

D'ani squeezes Ezra's hand. He can feel the trembling, so drapes an arm around the boy's shoulders and hugs him reassuringly, despite the guards standing right there. "It'll be alright," he assures his friend with a whisper, an assurance he is far from feeling himself but he hopes it will be so. Rayathess answers and so he drops his arm, grasps the knob and turns it, pushing the door open and leads Ezra in. "Good morning Rayathess. Th'ero asked me to bring Ezra to see you." Then to the both of them he asks, "Would you prefer that I wait outside?" He'll leave it to Ezra to introduce his canine.

Ezra leans against D'ani until the bronzeling retracts his arm and Ezra has to stand on his own. Taking a deep breath, he straightens his shoulders and steps inside, looking at his older brother for the first time in over three turns. He stares at him and blinks, feet as if rooted to the floor. Half of him wants to run forward and embrace him, and the other half wants to start yelling. So he does neither, standing there in his pressed black shirt and tan pants, and his jacket in Stonehaven's colors. "No," he says quickly, glancing at D'ani before his pale green eyes are riveted back on to Rayathess. "S'you, Raya?" he whispers softly.

Rayathess is wearing nothing more than nondescript clothing, all neutral hues and sturdy woven fabrics. Clearly from the stores, but better than what he had for sure. Green eyes narrow slightly as it's D'ani through the door first, the young man still at odds towards the bronze weyrling though willing to be civil — for now. "Good morning," he says, only to fall silent and brows lift high when he states his reason for visiting. Ezra? Suddenly Rayathess is taking another small step back. Why wasn't he forewarned? "Yes," He answers in harsh contrast to Ezra's 'no' and awkwardly, he clears his throat and amends, meeting neither of their eyes. "Come in then," he will gesture with a slight sweep of his arm, "Though there is not really anywhere to sit. Sorry." And it's true. The furniture really is sparse. Functional, but lacking. Two chairs, a small table, a few storage trunks, a lone rug and a small room recessed in the back where the bed is likely tucked away. Rayathess turns then to Ezra, his features set into a conflicted look as too many emotions filter through for one to settle. Cue the awkward staring? He'll note the crisp and freshly pressed clothes and the jackets (and it's colors) and at his brother's soft whisper, his shoulders will drop and so will most of his 'tough' act. "Yes, it's me, Ezra." he says, though it's clear he wants to say so much more, only to have to bite his tongue. "You've grown." he ventures cautiously.

For now, D'ani is coolly polite to Rayathess, giving the other young man the benefit of the doubt, not comfortable around the hold-heir but not emanating hostility as he was the first time they'd met. "I'm sorry, I thought Th'ero had let you know," D'ani says as Rayathess reacts the way he does. He's certainly not ready to be any sort of friend to him and shrugs at the 'Yes' answer. It's what he expected! Though he does look to Ezra instead of turning to go. He'll only step out if his friend is comfortable being left. He stifles a sigh and eases the door shut, when Ezra says 'no', leans back against it and steels himself for the reunion. Ezra's whisper has him swallowing…hard.

If Ezra were thinking clearly, he might consider how difficult it will likely be for D'ani to watch this, what with his own siblings still missing. Ezra still stares at his big brother, pale green eyes studying his older brother's face. "What'd they do to you?" he asks with a frown, but still stays rooted where he was. "Where's mom? And Anrila? Why didn't you come back? Why'd you leave me there!" he asks, each question coming faster and louder as the boy can't quite stop himself. Zoi presses her body against his leg, and that's what stops him from shouting any more hard questions at his brother.

"It seems to have slipped the Weyrleader's mind," Rayathess replies, just a touch cooly, towards D'ani. Not wholly intentional but simply a backlash of the trapped feeling the young man is experiencing. He'd have appreciated time to mentally prepare and instead he is finding himself struggling to cope, a touch helpless — and he does not like the taste of it. Eyeing the bronze weyrling from the corner of his eye, Rayathess keeps most of his attention focused on Ezra, though Zoi now is given a wary look. A /very/ obvious one. Does he not like dogs? Or perhaps the camps had them and he expects the same type to be the one that now sits at his younger brother's feet. "They did many things and some I won't tell you right now, okay? That'll be for later." Rayathess explains, cryptic and yet truthful. There are details the young boy doesn't need to know and some the hold-heir doesn't want to be so open about with D'ani in earshot. It's hard enough to open up to an estranged sibling but a stranger too is too much to ask. "I don't know where mom is." That is answered truthfully too but blunt and Rayathess' expression falls and twists at it, wishing perhaps he had something more to say. As Ezra's voice rises, he lifts his hands up in a slightly placating manner. "Anrila is safe. And I couldn't come back though we tried! I tried to come back for you, when I realized you hadn't followed when I took after Anrila. But we were caught and I couldn't leave her alone with the bad men so I had no choice but to go." he tells him, his voice not quite rising as Ezra's had but it certainly grows rougher.

D'ani drops his head to study the floor - perhaps so there aren't TWO sets of eyes staring at Rayathess. He's had some time to mull things over and see them from the young man's perspective, so merely nods understandingly. He can imagine Rayathess would! "I'm sorry," he says again, though not because it is his fault; more to show compassion than anything else. Ezra's reaction is pretty much what he thought it might be and he lifts a hand to rest gently on his friend's shoulder, though he doesn't say anything. He's silently supportive though. He doesn't interject anything to the conversation, though when he lets Ezra know Anrila is alive, he holds his breath, waiting for the boy's reaction to that.

Ezra stomps his foot, his free hand closing into a fist. "You had a choice! There's /always/ a choice!" he shouts, color rising into his cheeks. Perhaps he was holding out hope - some secret, secret hope - that their mother was safe somewhere. But no, that hope is gone. "Where is Anrila then?" he demands, looking around - as if she'd be hiding in a corner. Zoi whines softly, tail swishing against the floor. "You didn't try hard enough, it's been three turns, Rayathess!" Ezra says harshly, his eyes filling with tears. "You LEFT me to die! You didn't come looking for me…NOTHING." Beneath D'ani's hand the young boy is physically shaking, muscles taut and singing with tension and stress and emotional upheaval.

Rayathess will forget D'ani's presence there, as the bronze weyrling's lack of speaking up or even moving has the younger man growing oblivious to his witness of this whole dramatic reunion. Not that he expected it to go well, but neither was he entirely prepared to be so swiftly accused by his younger brother. "She's not hear, Ezra. I had to put her with traders. It was all part of a plan so we could make it out and back here." Back home, wherever home may be. But he has no other answer for him and can only grimace as he falters, his thoughts stalling at the bombardment of emotions and difficult questions suddenly thrown at him. Despite his efforts, Rayathess begins to fidget and then pace, restless and not unlike a trapped animal within the confines of an ill suited cage. It's a slow pacing though, a few steps one way only to turn and resume the opposite direction, hands worrying themselves and his grip his rough and scratching over his own skin. "I did what I had to do to stay alive and keep her alive," Rayathess counters, his voice rising as his frustration boils over, only to look instantly regretful as Ezra's eyes fill with tears. So he continues, but he keeps his voice to a low and harsh murmur, "We /tried/! I didn't want to leave you there, alone! You don't think that didn't burn and eat at me for three Turns, Ezra? Of course it did! Every. Single. Day. Every day I was stuck in those forsaken camps, trying to keep your sister safe, trying to find a way out! They don't treat deserters nicely, if you're caught. I saw what they did to some who tried." Rambling, he blinks and catches himself abruptly, mouth twitching as he straightens, tense and now standing still as he stares right at Ezra and yet unaware of the younger boy's own tension and stress. But he can't bring himself to apologize, his jaw working to say the words but they stick.

D'ani comforts as best he can by gently squeezing Ezra's shoulder. Rayathess isn't paying much attention to him and that's pretty much what D'ani hopes - that the two will forget he's there and open up to one another. Not that he doesn't expect it not to get a little messy at first. But this is a normal and necessary step in the healing process, so when Ezra's voice grows louder and his anger spews forth, he has to restrain himself from exhaling in relief. He is the neutral party here, not taking either side, knowing the two brothers will need to work this out on their own. This is good… this is good… he's telling himself. All this anger is something Ezra's kept bottled up inside himself for three turns.

Ezra shakes his head, trembling with his free hand clenching. "She's…you don't know where she /is/?!" Poor Rayathess. "Well I /hope/ it ate at you every day!" the boy shouts. "At least you had Anrila! I had no one! NO one! I can't stand the dark, I steal food all the time, I can't remember my turnday, don't remember what Dad looked like, I'm…it's…" he stammers, angrily wiping at tears that betray his emotions. Gasping, he bites his next words back, teeth clenched and shaking. "I…" he finally whispers, voice trembling, "I don't know what to do…" He wants to run and hug his brother, but he can't. Not yet. There's too much hurt and he can't take those first steps.

"I do know where she is!" Rayathess counters defensively to Ezra's accusations, having heard similar not so many hours ago. Will everyone judge him for that decision? It expected some shock, but not to this degree. It stings him, just another jolt of reality as he faces too much thrown at him at once and his carefully laid plans, for the most part, seem to be crumbling apart. Frowning, his features twist into a tense and grim smirk and he adds in a slightly gentler and lowered tone. He will not yell… though the temptation is clearly there. "She is with the traders, safe and unharmed and on route here." he repeats, only to flinch when Ezra shouts and the truth of his younger brother's suffering hits him hard. For a brief moment, his expression falls and he cannot hide his guilt, the hurt and all the regret the young man likely feels but cannot express. "I'm not saying you had it any easier, Ezra and I will live the rest of my life with the regret that I could not make it back to you sooner. It's all I can offer you." he says, a touch uncertain now and unsettled by the tears and the intensity of the boy's emotions. "You don't have to do anything…" Because it's true, in a way. Rayathess doesn't seem willing to make those first steps either, eyes darting briefly and fleetingly again to D'ani and it's enough to have the young man fidgeting again.

D'ani understands a little more than he did the other day, and even a bit more than he did this morning. Over the top of Ezra's head, the weyrling's eyes meet that brief glance Rayathess sends his way and his are bright with compassion. His hand gives one final squeeze to Ezra's shoulder, then he lets go, nudging the boy between the shoulder blades gently. He murmurs, quietly coaxing, "Go on, Ezra. You know you've wanted this for so long. I can see that your brother loves you. Go to him. It's been hard long enough."

Ezra shakes his head, stubborn and angry - set in his anger - as his brother speaks. But it's D'ani's nudge that has the boy blinking, whipping his head around to stare up at his friend in surprise. Wide eyed, almost fearful surprise. Groping, his hand grabs for D'ani's arm - don't leave him! and he hesitates, looking back at his brother. His hand clutches D'ani's arm tightly, but then very slowly he lets go. Almost comically, one finger at a time, until he's standing on his own again. Rocking a bit, he even lets go of Zoi's head (and the canine promptly sits beside D'ani, giving his hand a gentle lick if he allows it), and takes a step forward. Peering up at his brother, the boy squints, tilting his head as he tries to compile this current image with the one he's kept locked in his memory for so long. "Show me your scar," he says, and it's spoken with such familiarity it must be some sort of ritual between them.

Rayathess pretends not to notice that look of compassion from D'ani but some part of him is likely thankful for it. Knowing that, in some way, the bronze weyrling does understand. It makes it no easier though for the young man to relax and harder still as he observes how Ezra turns to D'ani and holds to him. That must sting quite a bit too and Rayathess will look away, as if feeling he's intruding. His eyes will lift only as Ezra approaches and the young man straightens, watching him with a look of cautious anticipation. He won't move while the boy studies him save for the slight nervous twitch-tapping of his curled fingers against the side of his leg. Subtle, but there. The request is met not with surprise but relief and Rayathess exhales heavily and softly, before turning his body slightly as his left arm is raised and turned so that the inside of it is displayed clearly. "Still there," he murmurs with a smirk that is almost amused. If there is a scar, it's either small or so faint and light that it can only be seen up close and if one knew where to look. "And you remember why I got it?" Rayathess adds and there's no missing that his eyes lift just enough to gaze past Ezra and again to D'ani, gauging the Weyrling's reaction.

D'ani stands immobile while Ezra wrestles with his decision. He's not speaking or even breathing, but his eyes are willing his young friend to take that step. It is right, so right for the child that Ezra was, for the young man he is to become that this happen. As the fingers of that small hand slowly let go of his arm and Ezra starts towards Rayathess, he eases a breath out, takes another. Really his heart should not squeeze so painfully as the brothers near one another but it does all the same. Perhaps Ezra became filler for that emptiness in D'ani's life with his own family gone, but he has become quite precious to him in his own right. Zio's tongue on his hand draws an absent ear rub from him, but the Weyrling keeps his eyes on the pair, managing to smile at Rayathess past the bittersweet that sneaks into his throat making it ache. It's the first smile Rayathess has had from the Weyrling and though it costs to do it, it is sincerely meant.

Ezra steps closer to his brother and reaches out with his hand to trace a fingertip over the scar, and he nods. "You was showin' off your knives," he says, voice a soft whisper. When his finger is done tracing, he withdraws his hand and looks at Rayathess, blinking at him a bit. "I thought you was dead," he whispers, swallowing thickly. "Thought I was…th' only one left." He reaches out again, hesitantly, to touch Rayathess' upper arm. The beginnings of a hug, perhaps, but he hesitates again. And he /knows/ how hard this is for D'ani. He feels like he has to choose, in his youthful 'black and white' mindset, and he doesn't want to hurt his friend either.

Rayathess can sense the tension in the air — the room is full of it — though he does not know all the cause. If he had any inkling of the upset his reappearance has caused between D'ani and Ezra, he'd no doubt try to make amends though awkward, as his own emotions would no doubt conflict. Ezra is still his brother by blood, though there is a rift now caused by trauma and time and the young man does not seem to know exactly how to cross it. Not mend. Not yet. Even Rayathess is no fool to know he cannot simply sweep Ezra into a hug and expect all to be right again. Perhaps it explains the dark look to his green eyes and the shadowed cast to his expression even as the boy traces the scar in a familiar routine. "Yep. Got my woodcarving set first and decided to be a cocky jerk about it. Didn't work out so well, eh?" Rayathess replies, his voice also lowered to a quiet murmur, lips curved into a weak smile that falters at Ezra's next words. He has to swallow back surge the guilt, jaw working silently before he can speak again. "I'm sorry…" he begins, then fumbles and he cannot continue. Frustration slips in and he frowns heavily, clearly disappointed in himself though jarred from it when Ezra moves to hug only to hesitate. Rayathess visibly tenses, stiffens almost and the young man /almost/ withdraws as if any contact is foreign to him. Thankfully, he snaps out of it in time to salvage the gesture and leans down to awkwardly half-hug his younger brother, briefly slipping one arm around him before pulling back. It's a subtle gesture, one that could easily allow Ezra to return to D'ani but without the awkwardness of having to "chose" a side.

Zoi gets continued ear rubbing, absent though it is and D’ani seems to draw some comfort from the faithful canine. He'd love to slip out and give the pair some privacy, but he doesn't dare do it just yet with Ezra so touch and go. Come on, come on, just let that wall crumble, Ezra. That's what he'd say aloud if he though it would help, if he could only speak. He's swallowing past the lump in his throat repeatedly and as Rayathess moves to hug his younger brother, he nods imperceptibly, approving and bends to focus on the canine, if only to help the hold-heir not feel quite so conspicuous. Zoi gets both hands now. Oh joy?

Ezra smiles faintly - very faintly - and nods, withdrawing his finger from his brother's scar. "Yeah," he murmurs. Then he just nods at his brother's apology, and he leans stiffly into that half hug. The trust…the trust is gone. Missing. And who knows how long - or if - it will ever be built up again. The wall can't crumble. It's up too high, too thick, and there's only a tiny little bit of anything to chip away at it. Then he takes a small step back, and then another, turning to return to D'ani's side. His hand twitches, but he resists the urge to take D'ani's hand again. Perhaps the boy senses how much that'd hurt Rayathess. But he wants to.

Neither can Rayathess' walls crumble either, ones built from self defence and self preservation. So it comes to a sort of amicable stalemate of sorts, one that still hurts the young man though he's holding it in — for now — and shown only by the tension in his posture and expression. He cannot fault Ezra either for not wanting to trust him, as Rayathess is not so certain he can even trust himself. Having so much thrust at him in such a short amount of time has led him to begin to doubt himself. A slippery slope if there ever was one. Awkwardly, he fumbles again for something, /anything/ to say when Ezra steps back to D'ani and he has to clamp down on a sudden pang of jealousy that threatens to take hold. Not so much that Ezra turned to the bronze Weyrling but a mix of that and the fact that he /has/ someone to turn to. "It was… good to see you, Ezra." Rayathess finally murmurs, though he does so hesitantly. Cautious. What else can he say? Again, he darts a quick look to D'ani, hoping perhaps that the bronze weyrling will step in again. "Visit when you want." Pause. Swallow and a steadying inhale. "Both of you. If you want."

D'ani lets out a disappointed breath as Ezra returns to his side, trying to school his face not to show he'd hoped for a breakthrough, though the look of mute apology he sends to Rayathess is telling. He'd told the hold-heir Ezra was not alright. Now he's seen some of that himself. D'ani doesn't like his own helplessness to change that. All that is sent wordlessly in the telling look he gives Rayathess even while he rests a comforting hand on Ezra's shoulder. "Thank you, I think that would be a good idea," he manages even though he was hoping for so much more. "Right Ezra?" He rises then and adds briskly, "So Ezra, Rayathess, I need your help." He takes a deep breath. "I'm leading a team to find the caravan where Anrila is, but I don't know what she looks like or where in the south she was left with the caravan. Can you two collaborate with a harper and see if you can help come up with a likeness for her sketch?"

Ezra is feeling so mixed up and confused inside, and it shows on the boy's face as he crouches down to rub Zoi's ears and bury his face against her fur. Calm. He straightens again a moment later, leaning into D'ani's touch on his shoulder as he gazes back at his big brother, swallowing thickly. "Good…I'm…I'm glad you're not dead." Then he nods, "Yeah. I…we…I will," he stammers out, rubbing a hand against his eyes, quick and hard. Looking up at D'ani, Ezra blinks a few times and opens his mouth, though it takes a moment for words to come out. "But, isn't it…" and then he stops himself, and only nods. "Yeah. I…" and he looks at Rayathess. "I kind of remember…"

Rayathess does his best not to look disappointed either, which half explains how tense he holds himself. At some point he's going to exhaust himself, but he's holding on stubbornly. He won't crack with Ezra in the room, it seems, if he can help it. It's true, D'ani did warn him and now that he's /seen/ it, it settles bitterly in his mind. Again, his eyes seem to drift or slide away ever so slightly at the comforting gestures between his brother and the bronze Weyrling. There's a stiff nod for the thanks and his weight shifts, as if half expecting that to be that. Instead, he awkwardly steps back and gives D'ani a long, lingering look beneath a heavy frown. His help? His answer will have to wait though, as Ezra draws his attention again and Rayathess flinches a bit for the choice of words, as well for his brother's state. "Same… but for you." he murmurs with a weak smile. Awkward. "Of course. If it means she can be brought here swifter and safely… yes." he agrees, almost too eagerly before catching himself. Clearing his throat, he fidgets again though he does at least meet Ezra's glance. "We'll do it for her, alright?"

D'ani is giving Ezra a curious look as the lad stammers to his brother. Lifting his eyes to Rayathess, he mouthes silently, 'he's in shock' and dips his chin to indicate the boy. Perhaps it will resolve in time. He hopes it will, anyway. Then gently, "I'm not sure anyone knows which caravan she's with, Ezra. Do we Rayathess?" And then eyeing the room anew, he says, "I'll see if the stores has a table and some chairs and have them sent up." His attention returns to Rayathess, "I also have maps to show you and the harper will need one. Unless you'd like to meet in the archives?" Perhaps it's best if he smooths the awkward over for now with businesslike action. For both the Stonehaven's sake.

Ezra just shakes his head at D'ani, taking a deep breath and meeting his brother's gaze. Then he straightens, drawing himself up so for a moment he looks like the young man he really could be. Confident, proud, and mended. "Of course we will. We have to find her. And we will, with D'ani leading." Ouch? "He's real good at looking for people." Oh. Ouch. And Ezra visibly flinches once /that/ little gem comes out of his mouth, and he looks up at D'ani, eyes filled with…a blend of emotions, none of them happy. Guilt, pain, regret, fear? And then the boy bolts, turning and running from the room. Zoi's talons slide on the stone floor as she runs after her human, and their click and clack is the last thing heard echoing down the tunnel.

Rayathess' frown deepens a little as D'ani's mouthed warning is caught and understood after a moment of thought. Ah, right. He'd nod, but that'd give things away and so he only shows his thanks as best he can through a lingering gaze. "No," he answers glumly, "But I do know the route." Roughly. That he does not say out loud, not with Ezra in the room. At the mention of a table and chairs, the young man seems a touch puzzled until he realizes that indeed, his room is /lacking/ in that respect and he seems almost embarrassed. As if that's his fault! "Perhaps the archives are best. Seems like we may need a lot of it's materials and they have larger tables. More space." Totally not an excuse. No, not at all! Rayathess falls completely silent though for Ezra's comments, but mostly for the sudden change in the boy's demeanor. That is more the brother he remembers and again, the young man is gripped by an overwhelming sense of guilt and regret, among so many other emotions. "I'm sure he is…" Ouch, very much ouch. But he keeps himself composed as he goes to reply, only to abruptly cut himself off. D'ani is given a sharp glance, not entirely intended but short lived as Ezra is suddenly bolting. Alarmed, Rayathess takes a step forwards, one hand outstretched only to let it fall again as he stops. "You probably should go." he mutters, darting a look from the now open door to where the bronze Weyrling may still stand. /He/ wants to follow, but the young man figures that would not help things at all.

At first D'ani is pleased with Ezra's confidence, but as the words are spoken, he almost winces, sending Rayathess an apologetic look. Oh, this is going to be complicated! "Yes, so far good at looking, but not at finding," he mutters under his breath in the wake of Ezra's sudden departure. He sighs, turning to Rayathess, "If they'll allow you, perhaps you might want to go after him?" If not, he will go and see what he can do. "I'll… try to get him up here for meals with you," he says awkwardly. Regardless of the current situation, he has much to do. "I'll get my wing together and meet you both in the archives as soon as the Harper is finished with you." Yeah, in all the awkward, he forgot to tell Ezra he's part of the search team. Oops.

Rayathess' sidelong look and frown is puzzled and curious for D'ani's muttering, perhaps not wholly understanding. It's not his place to pry or ask however and so the young man only snorts softly and shrugs his shoulders. "I was told I could go anywhere in the Weyr. I'd just be followed," And he jerks his head towards the door and where further in the hallway the Guards still stand. Ones that are likely /very/ alert now that Ezra bolted past. "But that's not the problem. It's probably best if I leave him be." Yet his tone betrays him — he wants to go and for a moment he seems to lean towards that choice, almost taking that step forwards that would lead to another… Instead he wills himself to stay. "Don't force him." Rayathess says too quickly to D'ani, realizing too late that the Weyrling likely would never do such a thing and he grimaces apologetically. Ugh, this is just a right mess! "Right. Thanks," he murmurs, shoulders dropping as both relief and exhaustion settle in. Too much in one morning to cope with emotionally and Rayathess is beginning to wear down. "Send word and I will do my best to help." And he means it, even if he's not quite giving D'ani a direct look. His gaze has drifted, almost distracted and troubled.

D'ani is troubled himself, the corridor given a lingering look but Ezra has gone. His gaze turns back to Rayathess and he listens somberly, nodding. "Probably for your own protection," he notes though adds, "Ezra's confirmation that you are who you claimed to be will probably help some." Help what he doesn't say, since it's not up to him. "And… maybe not?" he says of him letting Ezra be. He doesn't know really, leans on the side of not, but will leave the two of them to figure it out. It's easy to read the hold-heir's posture and know that the past few days have been trying at best and overwhelming at worst. "Rayathess," he says and waits for the other young man to meet his eyes. His chin drops so his gaze is more on level with the other's, "I'm sorry." For the way he'd lashed out upon meeting him…for Ezra's reaction… for his missing sister. He can't quite make himself finish, blinks the moisture from his eyes and instead bows respectfully, in a familiar gesture, one holder to another and silently departs, probably to go find Ezra, check on him and offer the hug the child so desperately seems to need.

Rayathess's expression darkens for a fleeting moment as D'ani mentions that the Guards may be for his protection, rather than the other way around. The young man likely never /thought/ of what would occur when news spreads of his name and being in the Weyr. Somehow he's not so sure that Ezra's claim will help him in some regards. Slowly, he will turn and lift his head up to meet the bronze Weyrling's eyes again though they swiftly drop again when the apology is given. Not completed, but enough. Rayathess' mouth draws down into a thin line but he nods. It's understood, perhaps accepted and perhaps there is no /so/ much blame pinned on D'ani for his reaction. Still does not put the other man in his good books, however. The familiar gesture catches him by surprise more than the apology and /that/ he does return. Respect is respect, after all. Green eyes follow the Weyrling out and once the door is closed, Rayathess sags completely, barely making it to the bed before he allows his emotions to sweep in and overwhelm him. Only he has no one to hug or talk to — just him and the room and silence.