Love Is Pain, So Let's Hurt Tonight

Half Moon Bay Weyr - Winter's Asylum
Never has the phrase 'it's not what you have, but how you use it' been more apropos. This weyr is not a large one by any means, but it takes the space it has and makes it count. A wide ledge opens into a open-layout living room area, the space stretching back the length of the weyr to include a small island and a relatively modern kitchen space. Ceilings have been vaulted high, rough walls layered with flagstone to give it a rustic, regimented air. Into one wall has been carved a dragon couch, hung with icy blue blankets and padded with pillows in varying shades of tan and grey to make the space comfortable.
The entire space seems to follow the same color scheme, human-sized couches a soft, squashy beige and littered liberally with pillows and the occasional pale blue throw. A low-slung coffee table plays host to a gnarled piece of driftwood and the occasional book or toy, but seems to be used much more often as a hiding place for felines or a resting place for feet rather than any kind of storage. Floors are layered with utilitarian carpets, not always of the same material, but always in a basic tan, never quite managing to clash with the decor no matter the room. Windowless, the weyr is predominantly lit by dangling electric chandeliers, though the occasional lamp or recessed ceiling light is needed for particularly poorly-lit areas.
The wall opposite the dragon couch has been split horizontally to create two living spaces, the bottom space hollowed out into a dining area suitable for a small family or an intimate party, while the upper loft has been modified into a study-playroom hybrid by necessity. Hallways stretch back beyond both rooms, the lower floor branching off into a small bathroom, a master bedroom, and a set of switchback stone stairs that lead upwards, while the upper hall branches into a series of smaller bedrooms just off the study.

Late afternoon finds R'hyn making use of the upstairs study, papers and detritus from one of the smaller desks finally tamed and sorted to one side for the bronzerider to occupy it entirely. It is one of Xermiltoth's better days (or perhaps, more accurately, one of his worse), the bronze so far up into his lifemate's mind that it's by a miracle alone he isn't physically inside the weyr. There's no mistaking the trademark Xermiltoth frown, however; it pinches a stark line between R'hyn's brows as he hunches over paper, pen flying to formulate notes as quickly as humanly possible. Blue-greys flick up just once, tongue licking fingers to facilitate flipping through one of the very many large books propped up around him until he finds what he's looking for, devours it with tired eyes, and then curls right back over his parchment to keep at it. The rest of the weyr is still, empty save for the usual presence of felines in their various corners, Sibila herself perched high on the bookshelf next to R'hyn's desk, green eyes half-closed in drowsy watchfulness.

With Xermiltoth crammed inside of his headspace, perhaps R'hyn will be aware of the interruption that comes on the heels of slow-building abruptness: creeping winds of winter that encroach on the younger bronze's landscape, hints of snow that seem innocuous and brilliant at first, but pick up with steady turbulence until the howling of wind bows the trees Teimyrth projects into Xermi's mind and the storm reaches a crescendo - Teimyrth's scathing voice, disdainful, angry, commanding. « Mine is coming. Tell yours. » But the bond of connection is snapped before probing awareness can come down the line, the only hint that rider and dragon alike will receive to brace themselves for the imminent danger of impact. Teimyrth's arrival is heralded by the scraping of taloned paws on the ledge, preceding Ila'den's stalking gait through the entrance on the bottom floor seconds later. There is none of his usual cheer hiding behind roguish smiles, nor teasing word to complement scintillating assessments of R'hyn's well-being; no, it's simply Ila'den, the man he tries hard not to be, growling out an accent-heavy, "FUCK," as their innocently bystanding coffee table (and all the contents there-of, RIP LOG) is unceremoniously caught by the tips of fingers and flipped - nay, flung - into the stone of the wall catty-corner to it. Sans an ugly mark, the damn thing survives, but it sends cats into hiding, peeking out with wide-eyes wary from too-high-up or varying distances away. The bronzerider himself is a mess (though this is certainly nothing new): dark hair is windblown and askew, grey eyes are red-rimmed (but sober) with sleep-deprivation and deep-seated agitation, his long-sleeved tunic is sitting rumpled on his shoulders and leaving the distinct impression that somebody may have been pulling viciously at the fabric, and his face looks as though he's been slapped. A few times. But one stark moment of quasi-destruction is not nearly enough. Ila'den is ripping goggles from his head to stuff into his helmet, and then slinging those into the wall as well, followed by his fist (which thankfully lands without enough impact to break, but certainly comes away with a layer of skin over his knuckles left behind). And then? He's stalking towards their room of course, leaving R'hyn to his study as calloused, shaking hands jerk at his tunic to start the process of undressing himself. « Go to him, Mine of Mine, » comes Teimyrth's voice, given to Xermiltoth first in order to spare R'hyn the added inequities of a brain-freeze headache. « Stop him. »

« IN THE LIKELY EVENT OF VOLCANIC ACTIVITY WITHIN THE NEXT CENTURY, IT WOULD BE PRUDENT TO EXPAND OUR UNDERSTANDING FROM THE HYPOTHETICAL TO THE PRACTICAL. WE SHOULD LEARN FROM ISTA WINGRIDERS, SHARE TECHNOLOGY WITH THEIR CRAFTERS, DEVELOP OUR EARLY WARNING PROGRAM AND IMPLEMENT DRILLS AND EVACUATION PROCEDURES FOR THE UNLIKELY BUT POSSIBLE EVENT OF— » A full on blizzard in his mind. Trees bend under the force of snow-laden winds and Xermiltoth's golden mind is briefly wiped out of R'hyn's head as the great, glimmering bronze wheels his head around to peer towards the source of so much turbulence. « YOUR ILA COMES. THIS DISCOURSE MIGHT WAIT. » Words pause, hesistate, as though weighing wiseness before, unable to help himself, Xermiltoth adds, « PERHAPS WE SHOULD HAVE STUDIED HURRICANES INSTEAD. » But he doesn't say it with humor, and that is enough to give R'hyn serious pause. Hands that are already sliding the old tome shut pause mid-gesture, small frown deepening with real concern. What do you mean?, he pushes back through their connection, voice redoubling with annoyance when his bronze doesn't respond. Xermiltoth. What do you mean? Each word is clipped, enunciated in his mind but still there is nothing. Before R'hyn can renew his mental assault, however, there are noises from without the weyr, and the younger bronzerider makes it to the railing just in time to mark Ila'den's stalking stride right to their coffee table - or, what was left of it after that heaving toss against the wall. "Hey!," R'hyn yelps, more concerned for the continued violence telegraphed in Ila'den's form than the scuffed table, the briefly-barked word an attempt to distract the rider as he makes for the stairs. Repeated impact in the form of goggle-filled helmet goes ignored, but the sound of flesh meeting stone earns a sharp glance from the far end of the balcony, a grated, "Fuck," of his own preceding R'hyn's disappearance from view. Steps are skipped, half of them jumped outright in a maneuver that would give certain Healers apoplexies if they knew, but R'hyn does not care, not about potential for broken bones, or frost-bitten headaches, or the glittering scatter of worried diamonds hissing and spitting with soft firework glow in the back of his mind. He's too busy bursting into the hall behind Ila'den, following at pace, big body lacking its usual patient grace as he rushes to put himself inbetween the bronzerider and everything else, and it speaks volumes, that haste, that gesture, that small, singular step into Ila'den's personal space, not to challenge but to keep Ila from passing him by as he issues a quiet chant of, "Hey, hey, hey." It speaks volumes because this is a person who by all rights should cower in the face of rage, who has before shuttered and shut down in the face of less, in the face of less done by Ila'den in a time before this, in a time before them. Instead of retreating into himself, into another room, another weyr, he instead twists palms upwards, lets fingers of both hands curl in a 'come here' gesture as he adds, "Let me." It's a question as much as it is a suggestion, because R'hyn doesn't move to take control of the situation any further than he already has, not yet; there's no physical attempt to touch him, or encourage touching in return, just a sentence marked by the lilting uptone of a question, giving Ila'den agency, letting him make the next move, set the tone, on his own.

Apparently physical contact is exactly what he needs. Ila'den's shaking hands are in the middle of ruining the tunic he's pulling over his head, going through the motions with ill-restrained violence despite of (or perhaps because of) R'hyn's concern. So far, R'hyn's gentle attempts to cajole the revival of his Ila'den's beast are a failure; the renegade is on the surface, the joker he presents snuffed beneath crushing self-deprecation and the need to extricate unnecessary emotion so that he can be a monster. But grey eyes are on R'hyn's hands when the younger bronzerider steps into his space, halting mid-stride as his chest heaves, and his knuckles weep, and a proverbial stranger maps the ascent from fingers he's kissed a thousand times, to a chest he knows with the intimacy of his lips and teeth and tongue, stopping only when grey eyes lock on blue-grey without the usual feral need and intensity of want he regards his weyrmate with so often, so readily, unencumbered by inhibitions. "Don't," Ila'den growls, pleads, mourns, because he's a paragon of violence given form, everything R'hyn would walk away from if he was smart enough to realize Iris was right to leave - and maybe because, in this moment, Ila'den needs to hate himself too, needs to let himself believe he is a monster without R'hyn's gentle hands correcting and reminding him that he's worth loving too. 'Let me.' Two words lacking complexity, insignificant in and out of context, but explosive when spoken while R'hyn remains. R'hyn remains, despite having every reason to go, and Ila'den hates himself with immeasurable vehemence in that moment. But R'hyn stays, and Ila'den's lacking in the ability to be gentle when trembling hands reach out as Ila'den stalks forward to close the distance separating them. Hands come down on either side of R'hyn's face, fingers cupping and cradling the base of his skull in stark contrast to the way that Ila'den's mouth finds R'hyn's lips with unyielding brutality. The bronzerider unleashes, teeth biting hard on pliant flesh, sinking without cautious regard for unspoken, established levels of pain tolerated; his hands pull R'hyn even closer, as if the sweep of his tongue in almost-apologetic (but mostly just to taste R'hyn) ministrations can somehow become more with impossible proximity. And then Ila'den's fingers are curling, nails finding their way down R'hyn's neck and over his arms, catching in endless divots of muscle as he kisses like a dying man seeking absolution from God and fists one hand in the fabric of tunic over R'hyn's chest. He'll take two steps forward to make R'hyn take two steps back - but only if the bronzerider hasn't run away from the unmasking of his big bad wolf. "You should go," Ila'den forces himself to say, giving R'hyn an out he doesn't want to yield, angry with conviction. "Please," comes gentler, softer, a plea carrying every emotion Ila'den can't seem to resurface or bury away: self-loathing, pain, the need for R'hyn to not see, but accept that this is who he is.

Unfortunately for what Ila'den needs, this is R'hyn; R'hyn who shares his physical space with very few, makes contact even less, and touches without permission with the rarity of a comet's passing. He is ever-so-frequently the reactive one, the one that takes what Ila'den has to give and filters it through and returns it to the man as something else. Usually it's something better, or at least equally tarnished, the unfortunate byproduct of two men with full confidence in one another and so little in themselves, but it's something, and it's theirs, and Ryn treasures it, upholds it, but today… Brows snap downwards for that initial 'don't,' line between R'hyn's brows deepening with concern that edges on honest worry, an expression that's hardly alleviated by fierce, brutal kisses. It almost distracts him, the sheer violence of it all, a whimper rising unbidden for lips bitten too hard, but there's no retreat, no withdrawal, just kisses returned with feverish haste, seeking to communicate any possible reassurance that he may. R'hyn's big body shifts closer, rocks forwards for nails drug down skin, clothing, skin again, entirely too willing to be pulled in, pushed back, manipulated for the bronzerider's needs. Up come his hands, one curling against Ila'den's neck while the other comes to rest on his chest, content to rest there — right up until kisses end and he's told, nay, pled to leave. And oh, it's on. Use he can tolerate. Withering looks of self-hatred he can endure because R'hyn knows better. But this? "No, you don't," R'hyn shoots back with vehemence, hand pressed against Ila'den's chest curling to dig into fabric, catch on, pull it tight, reel him in impossibly closer, aiming for a growl and winding up with words made strained by a throat gone tense and tight. "You don't get to look at me with that stupid patience and confidence as if you would have taken me from the very start and expect me to just walk away from you. You don't get to say you'd cross land and sea and skies just to find me, but take yourself away because you're angry. Do you really think I'm that much of a coward? That I love you any fucking less than you do me? That I can't take this?" The hand holding Ila'den close releases then, flicking Ila's shirt back towards his chest, head rolling in a single gesture ridden with so much attitude as he surveys the rider in front of him from head to toe. "Show me, then." There comes a jab towards Ila'den's shoulder, those fingers he's kissed a thousand times dug into skin and muscle before being withdrawn. "Show me this thing that I'm supposed to be afraid of." Around comes his other hand, pushing hard into Ila'den's sternum as Heryn advances with slow shifting movements, forcing the bronzer to step backwards or deal with a collision of tension-hard bodies. "Come on, then, Ila'den. You keep calling yourself the token crazy no matter what I do. Show me why." Eyes narrow, a dark parody of their usual playful squint as he adds, "What? Do you need a little incentive?" And in he leans, right into Ila'den's face with a sudden aggressive jarring of muscles, lips twisted into a grotesque mimcry of the older bronzer's wicked grin as he bites out a low, grating, "Boo."

"I," it begins with fury, a snarl so out of place on a face so usually amused that it's ugly, "am not angry." But it ends with calm. "I just told Kiltara that I locked her renegade fucking son in jail because he attacked a rider. And then I watched, again, like I have too many fucking times before, as that little girl, whose monsters I failed to chase away and keep at bay, looked at me like I was the monster." The younger bronzerider's fist may have relinquished its hold on Ila'den's tunic, but Ila'den doesn't relinquish the space Heryn pulled him into mere seconds ago. Ila'den fucking saturates it. "So I am not angry, Heryn," it comes on a hiss of breath close enough to be felt on the lobe of an ear as Ila'den forces harsh syllables between gritted teeth, "What I am is a fucking monster." Ila'den gives ground when once kissed fingers demand it of him, a warning rattle in his chest of low rumbling sound the first warning issued for a bronzerider. But Ila'den doesn't yield again, his body coiled with mounting tension that strains his vocals when R'hyn's body collides with his own, the very definition of an irresistible force paradox: an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. "Don't," comes R'hyn's second warning, a feral, guttural sound issued as a command when hands meet sternum and Ila'den's body rocks back, adopting a wide stance to keep upright without losing ground. And there it is, something so trivial, a mimicry of his own fiendish deviance that has Ila'den exploding into motion on the heels of another snarl, too fast, when one hand catches at R'hyn's throat and he forces the bronzerider that half a step back into the wall, pinning him. "You think you're so fucking clever, don't you." Not a question, a statement of fact. But the bronzerider's grip is gentle; there's no hint of pressure threatening to diminish R'hyn's ability to breathe, simply the heat of Ila'den's palm and the pad of one thumb sweeping back and forth on the swell of an Adam's apple as Ila'den leans in closer, "But I see what you're doing." And Ila'den is more dangerous now than he was before: quiet, calm, the eye in the center of an honest-to-Faranth storm when he lets his weyrmate go. To punch the wall. Again. Right by R'hyn's head. "If you want a fight, then man the fuck up and take a swing. Otherwise, take your fucking clothes off, because they're in my way." Don't worry, R'hyn. He's a patient man. He'll wait.

As is R'hyn's way, there comes no immediate reply to snarled, furious words, and for a moment it's almost like he hasn't spoken at all; instead of reacting R'hyn listens in that solid, depthless way he has, taking things in and parsing them apart somewhere behind his eyes. Whatever he makes of that pretty little speech, of the renegade nephew and Ila'den's actions against him, he does not say; instead he pushes, and crowds, and jabs, and taunts, and somehow he manages to look surprised when Ila'den retaliates despite more than enough warnings that this is not a good idea. Yet, what would Ryn be if he suddenly developed a sense of self-preservation? Indeed, brows snap down as quickly as they lifted, a low growl for the half-step he's forced to concede accompanied by a curled-lipped baring of teeth for slide of a pad of a thumb on neck. There's not an ounce of the fear that should by all rights be present as he stares into the literal eye of the hurricane before him; instead, Ila'den can watch the choice being made in Heryn's face for that ultimatum, the flicker of ire that flattens his brows and juts his chin, the downwards tilt of shoulders that he then heaves upwards to pull his shirt off over his head and fling it right into the bronzerider's face. And yes R'hyn does think he's clever, and sometimes he even is - times like now, when a body crafted by a lifetime of fight and flight shifts around Ila'den's, taking advantage of distraction to seize the hand the man hasn't slammed into two different walls and twist it behind his back, taking a move Sundari to keep Ila'den up while his other arm comes up to lock around his throat to keep him the fuck down. Hard muscles shift against Ila'den's back, yanking the man around to face the dresser on the far side of the room with no mind paid to comfort. "Walk," R'hyn snarls from a position just behind the bronzerider's ear, shoving with his hip and knees if he has to, closer and closer to the mirror perched on the heavy wooden structure. "Now stop," the younger man growls when they've made progress enough that Ila'den dominates the glassy surface as much as he dominates everything else. "Stop and look at yourself. Look," he repeats in case his gaze tries to drop, entire body jolting against Ila's with the emphasis. R'hyn's eyes lift to watch Ila'den's face in the mirror, unblinking, unrelenting as he makes sure Ila'den complies before his gaze travels over the bronzerider himself, tracing marks and scars and lines of muscle and bone that are so familiar even in their reflected form, marking every wayward nick and spot and freckle before blue-greys lift back to Ila's face and stay there. "You are many things, Kilarden. You are a son, and a brother, and a father, and an uncle. You're a friend and a renegade, a weyrmate and a dragonrider. You're intelligent, and cunning, and kind, and yes, angry. But you are just a man," R'hyn says, posture shifting, fingers moving to curl around the hand pinned to Ila's back, arm sliding from his neck so long fingers can cup the column of his throat with the barest of pressure as the younger bronzer turns his face into Ila'den's hair, nuzzling hard against his temple as he continues to press words to his ear. "You're just a man who loves his family and tries to do best by them, and sometimes you get it wrong and sometimes you get it right, but Ila, my Ila—" And there's still points of contact, still one temple pressed to another, but his head turns until blue-grey eyes are back on Ila'den's again, twitching from grey gaze to patch and back before he says, quietly, so quietly, "You are nothing less than human."

But perhaps the surprise is all genuinely Ila'den's, when a shirt is thrown in his face and, in the half-second that it takes the older bronzerider to use a bloody-knuckled hand to fling the discarded fabric from his eyes, his arm is being twisted up behind him. It's not. Just. That. R'hyn's arm is around his neck to haul him down into submission, even as Ila'den's free hand comes down on R'hyn's arm-twisting wrist to alleviate some of the pressure sending a shock through protesting joints and abused sockets. Commands come next, and Ila'den's answering snarl of, "Fuck you," is delivered with the same kind of savage, feral intensity you might expect to hear from a man in the throes of defeat, whose only viable option for defiant dissent lies in his ability to communicate malice through his words. He walks, chest heaving, body coiled tight with tension and the exertion it takes him to allow R'hyn this display of dominance without a fight - and to calm a body now set trembling, a physical manifestation of adrenaline pumping through veins in answer to a very real rage. When R'hyn commands him to look into a mirror that seems too far away, that lone grey eye sits on blue-grey and holds - holds - and communicates too much: anger, wrath, a darker promise of retaliation, and something so much more than the sums of all those dark parts. Respect, love, acceptance, pride. There is obedience borne of trust, implicit in his dealings with R'hyn, the knowledge that giving in to his weyrmate does not make him pusillanimous, and allows him to show just enough weakness (or credence in R'hyn) to submit. He looks. Where R'hyn might see everything good, Ila'den sees everything bad: the marks of his defeats, standing out in stark contrast against his skin, a physical retelling of his failures, of his humiliations, of his lessons learned well before a man of any age should learn them. But Ila'den listens, with that same, solid, depthless patience that R'hyn has mastered and Ila'den still struggles to reign in despite the seeming ease with which he utilizes it; he closes his hand around the one seeking his, granting acceptance, forgiveness, unresponsive to the press of fingers at his neck and a nuzzle against his temple except to growl - low, agitated, not yet willing to let go of his anger despite R'hyn's best intentions - and then he does it. Ila'den uses the hand in his as leverage to twist R'hyn's arm behind his back in much the same manner it was done to him, calloused fingers threading through hair at the back of R'hyn's head to shove the younger bronzerider's head down as Ila'den presses close against his back and breathes, "You're a lucky fucking man that I'm not willing to live without you." A pause, and then, humorously, "And that murder is illegal on every continent." And then Ila lets him go, no retaliation for the quasi-violence, no scathing remarks, just another shove to the back of R'hyn's head as Ila'den steps out of Heryn's space and drops his attention to his own clothing. His tunic is pulled away from his body, used to wrap his still-oozing knuckles as he stalks his way to the bedroom. "It was J'en," Ila'den reveals along the way, but he doesn't say anything else. Well, except, "Motherfucker."

Somewhere in that chaotic riot of emotion is born regret. It etches lines into the corner of a mouth that twitches for that snarled expletive, limns eyes that catch and hold not just on muscles but also their trembling; it's the jagged edge of behavior of a man who knows he's taken this a step farther than he ever wanted to, but can't seem to draw the ceasefire, not now. There's a point to make, a thought to instill, a seed to plant in the hopes it might take some kind of hold - maybe not today, or tomorrow, or even thousand days from now, perhaps not ever and that's alright but it's worth the cost to try. It's worth the price to be the focal point of all that rage that's terrifying not because of the violence it promises but because of the vast difference between it and the usual expressions he receives, to stare down the very real possibility of ruining everything if only for some small potential for absolution for a soul that more than deserves it and does not seek it for itself. So he meets anger with endurance, wrath with patience, the promise of retaliation with acceptance that one day it will come and he will take it for what it is; the rest he bears with the mark of a hypocrite, acknowledged and taken sincerely to a heart that doesn't think it deserves that much credit. It's enough for now, though, enough that R'hyn reaches a visible conclusion behind blue-grey eyes, files away a scrap of something to be used in future days, future times, future risks. So he takes that twisted arm with a sharp exhale for the suddenness of the move, a noise jerked short in his throat by the hand in his hair, air yanked back into his lungs as a quiet gasp instead as his back bows against Ila'den’s chest. Beyond that there is no reaction, no complaint - even R'hyn’s features settle into some sort of vague calm, the closed-lipped, resigned press of eyelashes to cheekbones of a person who accepts what they're getting because they deserve it, and probably a whole lot more. “Yeah,” R'hyn grates out in the wake of his equally sudden release, staggering into the space Ila'den leaves behind and staggering again for the shove to the back of his head, aiming for something like amusement and winding up with a strained, “yeah, I know.” And there's so much more in those three words than mere acknowledgement; it isn't just here and now that R'hyn is recognizing, but the last time as well, when said sheer luck and cussedness was perhaps one of the only reasons they're even having this conversation. It's a time he shouldn't have evoked but did, memories both borrowed and made bringing​ a bitter twist to lips for attempted jest concerning murder. It lends a dark and somehow vaguely aching nature to the single roll of low laughter, brief in existence before it's cut off by a rough-edged, “I'm sorry.” For entirely too many things, enough that R'hyn doesn't immediately follow, instead diverts to the hall bathroom where certain Healers have been known to leave certain kits. A brief search finds it, but Ryn holds his silence as he follows Ila'den to the bedroom, taking up residence on the side of the bed the older man usually claims for himself before flicking the kit open and rummaging through it for supplies. “Of course it was,” he says of J’en at length, steady detachment in his tone belied by the shake of hands that cut gauze into smaller rectangles, sets them aside, goes back for more. “I assume he's fine or you wouldn't be here.” And there's no judgement in that tone, just simple understanding that if Taeski had done something irreversibly horrible to the rider, Ila'den would not be here right now to suffer his weyrmate's inadvisable attempts at expressions of acceptance. At least there's no further attempts on Ila'den's person in Ryn's posture - the man curls his knees up closer to his chest that he might perch the med kit higher, finally finding what he's looking for with a low noise and clacking jars of redwort and something green and medicinal-looking onto the end stand next to the gauze; there's not even any offer to assist, the items instead left there to silently judge him like the ghost of Citas future if he doesn't use them, even as R'hyn draws out a length of bandage and finally sets the kit to the floor. “Do you know what happened?” Still with that vague nonchalance, that certain sense of clinical detachment; what is there in his tone requests the whole story without demanding it as teeth find the edge of bandage cloth to grip as he tears it in a few sharp motions, adding a reasonable length to the end table before letting the rest roll to the floor to join the kit.

Ila’den doesn’t need R’hyn to meet his gaze, because he knows. Ila’den doesn’t even need to hear the strain of forced humor in R’hyn’s words or watch the shaking of his hands, because he already knows. The man could be without the ability to see, or speak, or hear, robbed of the ability to feel anything at all, and he would still know, like he will always know, because whatever this is between them is theirs. It is their thing, this intimate, quiet, unspoken and unacknowledged knowing of somebody else in a way that shouldn’t be possible because it transcends the limits of both logical thought and explanation, but is happening now, in this room, between them. It’s that awareness of R’hyn that Ila’den can feel deep in his bones, the persistence of thought that something is wrong before Ila’den can even understand why, but that he heeds anyway. Like he heeds now, as he gives up his pursuit of clothing and comes to a standstill before his weyrmate. “Yes,” Ila’den breathes, words husky and pitched low as he uses one foot to push abandoned medical kits out of his way. “But it can wait.” The world can wait when it comes to R’hyn, and so can his hand. Ila’den moves to crouch between R’hyn’s legs, grey eye staring for as long as it takes blue-grey to meet his gaze despite all of his concentration on cutting squares and tearing bandages, and when R’hyn concedes, Ila’den holds it even longer. Calloused fingers grasp the younger bronzerider’s knees with firm pressure, pulling them to the ground with practiced ease, pushing up the length of leather clad thighs as Ila’den leans in closer and never once drops his weyrmate’s gaze. Not when he presses a kiss against the inside of one thigh, or maps a path up his body with them. Each application of lips to flesh is undemanding, a slow burn, meant to delineate the ascent Ila’den makes up, up, up, until they’re face to face and his eyes finally drop to R’hyn’s lips while he speaks. “I will only say this to you once, Heryn, so listen to me now,” the words come accent-heavy, emphatic with conviction, half a command preceding the hush of the words that raise his eye back to R’hyn’s. “I love you, too. More than three, insignificant, impossibly lacking words can possibly convey. I love you more than I will ever be able to help you to understand, and more than my heart can take when you make an expression like that.” Because he is a man limited by the failings of every language, because there are not enough words to define why what he has with R’hyn is so impossibly right, and so Ila doesn’t try. Ila’den’s hands cup the back of R’hyn’s head to pull him in, and the former renegade kisses the bartender like he has forever to do it. It’s slow, undemanding, a physical affirmation of everything he feels and everything he hopes, and dreams and is because of R’hyn; it’s a kiss that could stretch the vast impossibilities of eternity and still end too soon. “You’re the one that fixed me,” is breathed against the give of pliant, kiss bruised lips. “Don’t shut me out.” And then Ila’den is crouching again, no longer bent forward over R’hyn, removing his shirt from bleeding knuckles and extending his hand for care. Business, as usual, for as long as R’hyn will allow. “He pulled a knife on J’en and drew blood. Apparently he found out about Vauril.” A pause, as grey eyes rise to his weyrmate along with one inquisitive brow. “I don’t know how bad it is, but Taeski turned himself over to me, and I gave him to the guards.” One, two, and three, “I don’t know what to do.” About J’en, he means. This is clearly Ila’den’s way of asking for advice. “He knowingly harbored a renegade and put the lives of those in this weyr at risk.” But Ila’den knew it too.

It takes time, that meeting of eyes; R'hyn knows he's waiting, knows that Ila'den's eye is fixed on his with the sort of patience he has no hope of outlasting, but whatever bluster, whatever boldness the bronzerider brought to a head in the literal wrangling of Ila'den's person has fled. If anything, R'hyn curves inwards for that steadfast attention, guilt getting the better of him, shame for having caved to temper, old emotions that run far deeper than even those keeping his gaze spectacularly avoidant as he works. Inner fortitude builds slowly, some attempt at steadiness garnered by the simple motions of his task, shoulders lifting with a long inhale before blue-grey eyes finally raise to focus on Ila'den. The simple intensity that characterizes the bronzerider is nearly enough to make him lose that careful composure, half his breath gone in an instant though a sharp nasal expulsion of air, matching gaze for gaze as knees are pulled apart, eased to the floor, fingertips mirroring toes as they press to the surfaces beneath them with gentle but telling pressure. Temptation flickers behind R'hyn's eyes when lips meet leather, but perhaps not of the usual ilk; this is the temptation to look away, to drop his gaze, to otherwise break the tension that gathers for each kiss applied to his person, muscles tensing, breaths seizing, catching on the edges of emotions already too close to the surface. Nevertheless, he persists, keeps thundercloud irises focused in on Ila'den's singular grey even when attention shifts from darkened hues to lips, because in the same way Ila'den can feel that something is wrong, R'hyn can tell that something is coming. It wires him tight, this sense of knowing, fingers twisting their way into bedsheets, bidding his jaw to lock even as he nods once, twice, shallow little gestures of acknowledgement for that half-command because of course he's listening. It's what R'hyn does, takes these words that he's offered and internalizes them, makes of them what he will, and out of as much respect and trust as Ila shows him, he allows the bronzerider to watch it happen. This is one of those times, one of those instances when Ila'den's brogue rips a hole right through Heryn's carefully constructed visage and the younger man lets him see just what conviction-heavy words do to him. His expression goes raw, brutal as the splits on Ila'den's knuckles, a scraped wound of so many emotions that they're practically indistinguishable as he rakes from one to the next in rapid, aching progression. Pain, gratitude, worry, adoration, panic, appreciation, agony, relief; it's the rushed maelstrom of reactions of a person that isn't sure how, or why, or what they did to deserve this, so concerned they're one misstep away from fucking it up, but is so, so grateful for it nonetheless. It’s a sentiment he carries and lets be buried in that kiss from Ila'den, that slow burn that carries on just long enough for him to drown in everything Ila is and expresses, but not so long that words thereafter don't rescue him again. "Thank you," R'hyn murmurs into the sudden space left between them when Ila crouches, a too-vast distance that he closes in a slow, conscientious forwards shift, Ila'den's hand briefly ignored in favor of pressing fingertips to the bronzerider's forehead, gently skimming the planes of temples and the heights of cheekbones with butterfly-light touches of barely-there pressure. Nails edge along the rider's jawline, trace veins in his neck, visage cracking again under the pressure of an aching sort of devotion as fingers curl around the edges of collarbones and R'hyn doesn't have the words to explain what all of this means to him but perhaps he doesn't have to because Ila'den is a part of him, as real and necessary as the hands that catch and pull at broad shoulders, and the heart that beats a thunderous tattoo in his ears as he eases forwards just enough to carefully press his lips to Ila's once more. That electric thing between them snaps hard at the edges of R'hyn's mind, bids him lean into the kiss with a quiet noise comprised of wanting, and having, and needing, and possessing, a verbal communication of their dichotomy he so wishes to convey; Ila'den is in his mind and in his veins, etched into the fibers of his being more surely, more indelibly than any mark, scar, or ink could ever manage. Ila'den is R'hyn, the R'hyn that rises to face the day after a night filled with terrors, the R'hyn that finds pleasure in the smallest of things, the R'hyn that isn't afraid to push boundaries because sometimes you get this, more than you could have ever hoped or bargained for. There's so much, too much to press into just one kiss, but he tries, oh, how he tries to encapsulate it all in the application of lips and teeth and tongue, mouth moving increasingly gently until finally, finally he pulls back just enough to rest his forehead against Ila'den's instead. There comes a hushed sigh, a subtle thankful press of fingertips into skin, and only then does Heryn slowly extricate himself from the bronzerider's presence, never quite straightening, but mindful of injured knuckles that need tending. He keeps his tongue yet again when Ila'den speaks, but this time the silence is deep, contemplative, content to play his part in their dynamic. Gauze is gathered about long fingers, darkened with redwort before R'hyn takes Ila'den's hand in his, smoothing mindfully over jagged skin before sliding to collect smudged blood. That verbal request for advice earns a blink of surprise from R'hyn, whose gaze courses over and over the bronzerider's features before his eyes go distant with thought, or perhaps consultation, the ever-shifting press and push of lips differentiating the expression from previous clinical distance. "He pulled a knife on J'en because of Vauril," R'hyn says at last, abandoning gauze to press fingers into the pale green poultice, gently spreading the mix of weak numbweed and disinfectant over Ila'den's knuckles. Despite gentleness, despite quiet heartfelt emotions, there is a sort of tension that settles about R'hyn's shoulders, a slow-building pressure kept at bay by bigger, better things that needed doing and, now done, make way for a less tepid response for the situation at hand. "He drew blood," the bronzer repeats as though he needs to get that right, a small frown knitting the space between his brows. "You gave him to the guards and you don't know what to do about J'en?" It's not accusatory, simply somewhere on the edge of hysterics as clean fingers massage the bridge of his nose before he leans to fetch up the second piece of gauze, packing the cloth with more pale green poultice before pressing it to the base of Ila'den's fingers. Words play around the corners of R'hyn's mouth, visible debate on how much of a story that's not his he dares to share flickering behind blue-grey eyes as the length of bandage is brandished, lowered, brandished again with a sighed, "Bits of his past make mine sound like a daydream, you know. Can't blame him for wanting to give someone a chance." Stormy blues flick up, tellingly, because he knows that struggle well before they drop to the task at hand again with a quiet-growled, "But on the same hand, if anybody thinks that someone like that would have any agency over someone like Taeski—" There's a reason R'hyn never discussed the relationship between bronzerider and 'reformed' artist beyond the brief acknowledgement of their togetherness at family gatherings, the lingering deep-seated dislike for the renegade hitting the surface tones of his voice. "That relationship was a toxic explosion just waiting to happen. I'm not surprised; if anything, I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner." There, the truth of his opinion, ungarnished in deference to Ila'den's request. Around the wrist goes bandages, angling up towards and about knuckles before criss-crossing again, mobility and stability both in bandage form that he could only have learned from Cita. "We all knew, though," he adds after a moment's silence, peeking back up at Ila before focusing on tying the bandage off. "We all knew Taeski was here. We knew Vauril was alive. Where do we draw the line?"

And Ila’den remains, letting R’hyn touch his face, and neck, and jaw. He’s still, crouched on the ground between his weyrmate’s legs, letting him take whatever it is that he finds in the application of fingers to his person while rumbling low, husky laughter for thanks unneeded, but still given. “Thank you,” comes back to R’hyn, low, husky, thick with amusement, and burr, and unspent emotion. And oh, but that kiss. Ila’den growls with anticipation before R’hyn’s lips are even on his, growls into it, presses back, gives just as much as he gets, and then more - but he doesn’t try to command it. For once, Ila’den keeps his hands to himself, content to go at R’hyn’s pace, multiplying the contact he is given instead of driving it; Ila'den is giving instead of taking, lingering even when R’hyn pulls away and leaves Ila’s chest heaving in effort to regain control. R’hyn does this to him. Always R’hyn. Only R’hyn. That grey eye opens once the younger bronzerider is catching Ila'den’s hand in his own to bandage it. And the words? Well… that draws Ila’den’s attention back to R’hyn’s gaze, even if R’hyn is focused on repairing the damage Ila’den’s done to himself. But he’s silent, simply listening, taking note of that slight-hysteric edge in words, as if Ryn can’t quite believe it, enduring R’hyn’s more sympathetic inclinations and meeting every fleeting glance of grey-blue to grey. He is a man in possession of self-control, except for when he’s not. But now, now Ila’den exhibits the command he has over it by waiting until R’hyn is done with providing first aid to catch him by the jaw and kiss him again. But this time, it’s arguably chaste. Ila’den’s tongue applies a gentle, fleeting pressure to R’hyn’s bottom lip, but pursues no further, teeth catching, and pulling in tandem with the way the man slowly rises to his full height but leans to prevent himself from breaking contact. And then finally, finally, Ila’den is drawing back, tracing every line and contour that makes up R’hyn with his good eye, observing with that same reverent awe that always seems to be applied without chagrin when Ila’den takes in his weyrmate. R’hyn is an event horizon, and Ila’den is just as susceptible to his gravitational pull as anybody else. “That’s not my choice,” Ila’den finally says, softly, into the breach of space between them before he’s righting his posture as well. “It’s R’en’s.” Because doing what’s right isn’t always easy, and the tension is back in Ila’den’s shoulders, the willingness to be the bad guy, the desire to put himself as far as he can from the renegade that he used to be even if sometimes he can’t get far enough away. “I’ll be home late. Don’t wait up for me.” Because he has things to do, and he’s made up his mind. So he will pull on a new tunic, and he will pull his jacket on over that, and he will leave R’hyn in solitude with his thoughts. And then he will return, and he will show R’hyn just how much it is that he’s adored in the best way he knows how: with his body, and the titillating, slow burn of his mouth on R’hyn’s.

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