Well, Hello

Half Moon Bay Weyr - Corrals
Enclosed by a wooden fence on one side and the steep walls of the weyr on the other is a couple acres of grass that holds the Weyr's herdbeasts and wherry flock. While this dragon feeding area is smaller than most of the Weyrs on Pern, there is still enough room for a large dragon to swoop down and grab his dinner with relative ease.

Leketh was about halfway through his wherry when J’en wandered over to the corrals one late warm afternoon, having left his riding jacket back at his weyr which left him only with the crimson of his perfectly fitted tanktop and ebony of his tailored leather pants. He’d brought out a blanket, spreading it beneath one of the trees skillfully maintained around the feeding grounds and props himself up against it after taking a seat and removing his riding boots and tucking his socks with them. He’d just gotten his hair recut, the back and sides kept an eighth of an inch buzzed short so that it felt fuzzy to the touch, but the front long enough to spike upwards four inches, while the top was about half that length. Crossing his long legs at the ankle, he peers with golden eyes across the grounds, idly watching his lifemate render flesh from bone with no expression to show for it. In fact, he appeared rather bored.

And then there is Kielric – Kielric who has grown up rather sheltered (all things considered), but who has been handled with enough aggression to know how to fight – which would definitely explain the muscle already clinging to the 15-turn-old’s body. It’s defined even now beneath the clothing he wears: a light-weight long sleeved shirt hugs his biceps and chest like a second skin, simultaneously leaving much but very little to the imagination of just what’s going on underneath. While his pants aren’t leathers, the fabric is still tight enough to show the definition of thighs while boots lace up to just below his knees. There’s something positively carefree about him – a free spirit, in a way, though not one that might give the impression of innocence. To be sure, there is something devious lurking beneath the surface, caught in glimpses as one hand muses already thoroughly tousled black-hair into disarray as another boy from the weyr keeps stride with him and makes a joke that has Kielric reaching out to punch his shoulder. “That’s my sister,” comes the playful growl, having the like-aged weyrbrat howl with laughter as he dances out of Kielric’s reach and draws eerily similar grey eyes to J’en. It’s a trademark of the line, truly. Veliren is probably the only one in this family without the color (a sure hint of his lineage if nothing else). Give the teenager a moment to come up short, pausing as if he’s just seen death staring at him through a darkened hood with enough intensity to make him take one step backwards. Then two. His friend asks him what’s the matter, and Kielric is quick to look away from J’en – though it doesn’t diminish the flush on his cheeks. “Ah… Hello, J’en,” comes the younger teenager’s not-quite-shy, but not-so-boisterous greeting, complete with Kielric not looking him in the eye. His friend whispers something that has Kielric reaching out to punch him again, and his friend dances out of range once more, laughing. “Not funny, Ranulf,” Kiel breathes, seconds before a deviant smile chases his friend’s trajectory even further away from him. “I’LL LEAVE YOU TWO ALONE!” Ranulf calls out on his retreat, causing Kielric to blanch and look, for once, like he’d rather be anywhere but here. Sigh. But that’s what friends are for!

The seventeen turn old bronzerider slides his gaze the way of the approaching teens, saying nothing as the two friends bro-bond. It was a concept beyond Jae’s comprehension, because he had never been as carefree as all that. Although they had never had a conversation before, Kielric’s coloring and the turns spent at Half Moon Bay were enough in combination to know exactly who it was that he was apparently intimidating. “Kielric.” he replies soft and without inflection, long dark lashes lowering some as he observes the younger boy’s behavior. This was not their first time ‘bumping’ into one another, and he was not so thick as to have missed the stolen glances and longing looks when Kiel thought that the bronzerider wasn’t paying any attention. J’en was well aware who’s spawn this was and for a while there he may even have found the attraction Ila’den’s son had for him revolting, but enough time had passed between events that the golden eyed teen’s ire had cooled to but a few flickering embers and nearly forgotten. A single brow arches upwards at the antics of Ranulf, saying nothing at their last exchange before the boy abandons his friend and Kielric looks like he wants to either pee his pants or run about as far away as possible as quickly as possible. The bronzerider exhales in a light sigh, having had just about enough of this song and dance. “Ya gunna run away or are ya gunna do somethin’ about it this time?” he asks coolly, chin lifting but a few inches upwards.

It is true, this is certainly not their first run in, and more than likely will not be their last; what is is hopefully the LAST TIME is Kielric being abandoned by Ranulf in a brotrayal SO ABRUPT that the Ila-spawn is still floundering in the reality of two things that have just become true: he is here being the first one, and J’en is speaking to him. Kielric's shoulders tense, muscles bunching in obvious response to the question as that dark-haired head lifts three inches and grey eyes come at J'en from a sideways angle in order to regard the older teenager with momentary silence. It also gives him a moment while he pieces together words. "I… Beg pardon?" Going to do something about it? The previously unmentioned bow slung over his shoulder and across his chest is adjusted, the quiver over his right shoulder shifting with the movement as he hesitates a moment longer and then turns to face the bronzerider altogether. A beat, and then a rather disengaging smile full of charm and boyish recklessness, preceding a laugh that cuts off as abruptly as one of his father's might. "Ranulf just likes to make people feel awkward," he intones, as if this might excuse everything. Still, it doesn't stop the younger teenager from approaching with steps that are soft on the balls of his feet and practiced with the patience of a hunter getting close enough for a kill. He stops with enough respectable distance between them both. "Sorry to bother you." And then he's stepping forward again, closer, closer, until he's standing before the rider and lowering himself into a crouch. There's a moment, maybe two where grey eyes simply stare, and then Kielric is reaching out calloused fingers to apply beneath J'en's chin, forcing the bronzer's head up just so. There's nothing slow or sensual about the way he closes the distance separating them, but the application of his lips on J'en's is tentative, slow, unsure; the contact is brief, preceding the momentary pressure of teeth finding a bottom lip and pulling until it slips free from his ministrations. There's a sharp intake of breath, and then Kielric is leaning back. His eyes? Not on the bronzer. They've shifted upwards and to the right, as if in thought. "Always wanted to do that," he breathes, and then he's righting himself back to his height — not so impressive given he's a teenager, but still clearly indicating he's going to be taller than his father when he comes in at 5'10".

It may be difficult to imagine, but J’en was nothing if not patient. He has nothing to say when Kielric responds, not moving a muscle when that bow is adjusted, other than the way those golden eyes of his seem to peer down far deep into someone completely and utterly without the smallest of permission. There is no reaction for the smile, a soft breeze coming over the water rustling his hair and carrying the it’s sweet scent off somewhere else, perhaps to someone who’ll care. There isn’t even a twitch when the younger teen finally makes a decision and begins to approach, his head and gaze following the progression. He had no interest in the bronzerider spawn’s friend or what it was that he liked to do, but probably had even less interest in excuses. The apology for interrupting his boredom is met with another lifting of that single brow, relaxed back to neutrality by the time that Kiel is close and crouching beside him. J’en doesn’t resist the way his chin is lifted, lashes lowering further with light and inexperienced touch of trembling lips against his own which remain steady, a soft breath inhaled quicker for the application of teeth to the lower pierced one. It was pierced for a reason after all, to draw attention there. “I know.” he murmurs, but not in a self-assured or cocky way, it was just stated matter-of-fact. Jae doesn’t make a move though as Kiel rises back to his full height, other than to lift his gaze, his own cleverly hidden by the fact that he was all seated and stretched out at the moment. “Is that all ya wanted?” Still not moving, golden eyes still transfixed and unwavering.

Believe it or not, despite youth, Kielric is pretty damn patient too – and friendly. And devious. Really, he’s all the things Ila’den would have been if he hadn’t been subjected to hell so early and left with more demons to face than good memories to outweigh the bad. And here Kielric is now, being brave, facing down J’en to find out what exactly his feelings are for the man; finding out why seeing him makes him want to retreat; finding out why his stomach does odd flips when gold meets silver across bowls before Kielric has the chance to look away. It’s not that Kielric has never been with anybody before (he has, on several occasions, and he enjoyed the soft pliancy of a woman’s body every time), but never has he felt that same intrigue and pull for another man. One could argue that it might have something to do with his role model, his father, pursuing a man in lieu of the relationship with his mother, but that’s not what’s important. The bronzerider-spawn takes a half step back at J’en’s next question, brows furrowing in fleeting bemusement as his eyes chase his thoughts sideways and then flitter back to J’en once he has an answer. “Yes? And no.” He doesn’t really know, because Kielric isn’t so shallow as to only have wanted sex — but that’s where this is headed, isn’t it? To his young mind it certainly is, and it’s the reason he’s taking another step back while that slowly charming smile slips back in place, confident without being cocky, friendly without being over-the-top, boyish without being childish. “I’m not trying to get in the way of you and Taeski. I’ve just been curious about why I feel the way I do when I look at you.” Which hasn’t been diminished with a kiss like Kielric may have hoped, but he has enough respect for cousin and Taejae (THE RELATIONSHIP) to not push the envelope. It’s why, after a moment of blunt honesty that should probably make the sudden silence between them awkward, Kielric plops his bottom right down and draws his bow from his shoulders, settling it between his knees with both arms anchored towards the top as he leans forward. “That doesn’t bother you?”

Patience, thy name is J’en. Of course, he’s had more than enough experience spreading his need for others across the face of the planet and has only just recently in the last few months finally seemed to have sated what could only be called his insatiable lust for companionship. The bronzerider easily meets that silver gaze, after all his weyrmate shared it, but makes no play to hold it any longer than Kielric was willing. There is no reaction for the initial response that he gets for his follow up question, here being no change in the smooth neutrality of his handsome features. He was decidedly more handsome these days, boarding precariously still towards the kind of pretty that had awarded him so much misfortune in his sordid past, but would likely yield a masculine beauty once he was more man than boy. At mention of Taeski though, Jae’s brows lift slightly in unison, as if he found the question surprising, “Taeski and I aren’t monogamous, he has his lovers and I have mine.” Sure, they live together and love one another, but neither were tied down by the constraints of the obligation that they needed to monopolize each other’s company. He doesn’t probe further into what it is that the Ila-spawn was feeling for him, likely because he could guess at least some of it. Attraction, surely, but beyond this it wasn’t his place to decide Kiel’s feelings; those were his own to battle. Still relaxed back against the bark of the tree upon which he leans, those long legs do not uncross but remain as they had been since the hunter’s arrival. “What doesn’t bother meh?” Unsure as to what the now other seated teen was asking, he brings his head back to rest also against the tree, golden eyes remaining on Kielric.

Whatever drives J’en to divulge the nuances of his polyamorous (if that word can even be applied accurately in this instance) relationship to Kielric has the young hunter shifting his weight back before holding up one hand abruptly (as if to silence J’en) around a laugh. “Okay, okay,” he says softly, a tone generally meant to placate despite a lack of emotion from the dragonrider a mere several feet away. Despite the abrupt intrusion, Kiel’s laugh is far from cruel or scathing; if anything, it sounds like J’en may have just stepped into a territory that leaves Kielric feeling uncomfortably informed. “He is still my cousin,” the teenager breathes, smile never so much as faltering he continues with, “even if we never met until everything went wrong.” And there’s probably some considerable distance between them still — emotionally, familial-y, with a yawning gap in mutual understanding. Kielric regains his height with a slowly measured movement, slinging his bow back over his shoulders so that the string crosses his chest when J’en’s indifference is taken at face-value — Kielric having adopted his father’s ability to keep his own curiosity in check without trying to pry, and knowing when he’s not wanted (even if Ila’den sometimes opts to stay). Well, not prying except for this one question, of course: “If all I wanted was to sleep with you — that doesn’t bother you?” But Kielric doesn’t ask it like a man testing the waters, aiming to see if his interest in bedding J’en will be taken as a sleight; Kielric asks it with genuine curiosity, the kind of curiosity that makes it clear he’s not simply thinking of a quick rut and purely curious as to why J’en wouldn’t mind if he was. “Or that I’m Taeski’s cousin?” The momentary grimace that replaces Kiel’s smile speaks volumes: he thinks Taeski will, and his cousin has arguably been through enough (especially on the heels of losing Vauril to get back an uncle who never cared for them much). There’s one other thing probably given clarity in that moment, if J’en is any good at reading body language: Kielric is getting ready to leave. Patience. Kielric is a hunter — he has it in spades.

Unfortunately for Kielric, he doesn’t know J’en at all. What was on the outside very rarely reflected what was going on inside, meeting the hunter’s gaze with the kind of comfortable ease as if they’d known each other all their lives even if it was only in passing. The bronzerider does not seem offended in the least by being cut off with a laugh, his expression remaining as neutral as it had been since Kiel’s arrival. However, it was his eyes that made all the difference. While they might appear to be uninterested and even blaize about chilling out under a tree with the son of his ‘worst’ enemy, past the thickness of his lashes those golden hued orbs were intensely studying the younger teen opposite. It was as if he was burning his way through all the layers of pretense and slipping past any walls with relative ease if only to get a peek at the treasure deep down inside the gooey center. He has nothing to say about the second reminder of his kinship to Taeski, continuing to quietly observe Kielric. “No,” J’en replies softly and without reservation, not in the least bothered by the fact that this Ila-spawn only wanted to screw him or that he was related to his weyrmate. Lashes lower further at the grimace, watching silently as the hunter prepares to take his leave and slings that bow back across his chest that he’d only just removed mere moments ago. “Ya wouldn’t be the first of Taeski’s blood relations I’d have been with.” He doesn’t say Vauril’s name, but considering there wasn’t a boundless amount of beautiful people free, willing, and able to bed the bronzerider; who he was speaking of should be pretty clear. Without budging an inch from where he’s laid himself out, J’en asks quiet and calmly, “Do ya want to?” It might sound as if he’d just asked Kielric if he wanted to borrow a book, but it was those eyes that were doing all the real talking, chin lifting upwards as they all but try to burn themselves right through the poor silvered gazed teen. That look was dangerous, promising everything pleasurable possible and then some, but one has to wonder…at what cost? Was it worth it? Is it, Kielric?

At what cost indeed. Is it worth it? Kielric doesn't have a damn clue; it's this naievity, this innocence, this unknown that allows Kielric to smile in the face of such a wanton offer — even if it's simply casual indifference for the act and everything that comes with it from J'en. "No," he says softly, telling a simple white lie in lieu of having to examine his own complicated emotions — well, that and he really isn't looking to sleep with J'en. Not at the moment, anyway. "And that's not a great example, you know. Vauril and Taeski are… not right. My auntie told me about what they endured growing up. Or, well, what she endured having them, and how she imagines life's been for them. It's sad, actually. And now Vauril is gone." The grimace on Kielric's mien is no act, nor is it apologetically embarrassed for his ineptitude and toeing over a possible landmine. His brows stay furrowed a moment longer in genuine remorse (probably for Taeski), and then he's back in conversation. "My Dad wouldn't really let me close to them. My aunt, neither. Said nothing good could come of it." A pause, as those grey eyes take J'en in and settle pleasantly on his face, smile back in tact as he wiggles his fingers almost playfully at the bronzerider. "You look alright, though." And back up to his full height Kiel rises, confidence somehow managing to be exuded in a gesture so simple yet somehow utterly graceful coming from the hunter-in-training. "Did you want to sleep with me?" And it's clear it's a joke, if the cunningly charming smile that Kielric fixes J'en with is anything to go by. But he remains.

J’en very subtly tilts his head to the side as Kielric speaks, his countenance remaining as neutral as ever save for those tiny micro expressions that you’d be able to translate if you knew him well. Though his brows do lift in unison noticeably, if only a quarter of an inch, “We’re all damaged in our own way. Vauril and Taeski’s damage is just more apparent than others,” he replies softly and still ever so monotone. He does not share his own damage, face relaxing back into neutrality when he has fingers wriggled at him. He makes no comment. Leketh lifts his head, having almost completely finished his meal, crooning towards his lifemate in a mournful manner. Golden eyes merely slide off of Kiel to the bronze, growing distant, and after a heartbeat or two Leketh reluctantly settles, but seems to be keeping one whirling blue-green facet on his rider. Jae’s attention then returns to the young hunter in full, in which he observes him in silence. A silence that stretches on and might be quite disconcerting, before he climbs to his feet. The blanket is gathered and folded without hurry before being draped over one arm. Only once this is done, does J’en extended a long-fingered hand outwards for Kielric to take or not, “Ya.” As simply as a reply as there ever was, the bronzerider merely waits and strangely without expectation. The hunter could take his hand and finally have the man he’d been wondering all about, or continue to wonder and admire from afar. Ultimately, it was Kielric’s choice.

J’en — J’en — wants to sleep with Kielric? The teasing question gets an unexpected answer — one that makes the smile on the teenager’s lips falter and sends his eyebrows racing for his hairline. It’s a painfully awkward moment that renders Kielric speechless, grey eyes fixated on the hand outstretched with titillating debauchery promised as reward. The gesture and one single word of ‘yes’ paint a familiar, but wholly unknown picture: frantic bodies setting a delirious pace, labored breathing rattling through his mind with alarming clarity as lungs struggle to bring in enough oxygen to keep them alive for mutual release — but it’s wrong. Where there was growing desire and passion in Kielric’s eyes, suddenly there is none; it’s almost instantaneous, how blown pupils retract, buried beneath another smile that’s a sanctuary for friendliness and has no room for the addition of lust. Grey eyes find gold then, and the hunter-in-training reaches out to capture J’en’s hand between both of his own. Calloused fingers explore the difference in length and texture, and then Kielric drops his grip with a firm, but gentle squeeze. “I’m not going to sleep with you,” he offers — tone just shy of being timid, as if concerned that J’en will find rejection in his words instead of the real culprit behind his self-denial: respect. “But if you aren’t busy, I wouldn’t mind getting to know who you are.” This time it’s the teenager’s hand being extended, patience exerted as he waits for J’en’s concession or dismissal in the form of walking away or taking his hand. “I know a quiet spot and have plenty of water — if water is okay. I have a sandwich too, we can split it in half.” See, Kielric might be a teenage boy with teenage hormones, but he’s also a human being with a human conscience. The girls he does bed are friends first; J’en doesn’t get to be an exception to the rule — though Taeski surely provides a mental dam that keeps Kielric from allowing his inner thoughts to project themselves outward. Snag.

There may be no change in Jae’s expression, but something in the way he shifts his weight from one foot to the other may suggest that he sees the change in Kielric (in response to his serious answer) for his teasing comment even before the younger teen has a chance to put it to words. Still, the bronzerider allows his hand to be taken and for the words to be spoken once he finds the ability to do so. He doesn’t recoil or show any sign that what he is feeling is rejection, there is no anything, only J’en standing and weathering everything coming at him as if he were stone. After a long silence, he merely nods, to confirm that he heard that Kielric was not in fact going to be sleeping with him. He doesn’t ask why, he doesn’t throw a fit, and he doesn’t walk away dejectedly. It was as if he’d merely offered a stroll through the garden and was told that Kiel had other plans. Which apparently, is water and half a sandwich with him, if he was up for it. There another long silence in which Jae just looks neutrally at the young hunter, saying and doing nothing now that his hand was back to being his own again, before shrugging a single shoulder. “If ya’d like.” And so he takes the newly extended hand, letting Kielric lead him off for a light meal and conversation without a single word of protest.

Note: Several months later, after becoming very close friends, Kielric and J'en slept together. (off camera)

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