Decisions

Half Moon Bay Weyr - Fruit Garden

Situated just outside the weyr's bowl is a sprawling garden of fruit trees. Far too regimented to be considered an orchard, neat rows of trees dot what might be better called a courtyard, forming a neat, even grid of shade. Carefully contrived sunbeams dapple light onto the occasional bench, or tiny grottos where firelizards and small avians gather to pick at seed and offerings left in small bowls. In the far corner is tucked a fountain, its soft babbling heard throughout the space. This is mostly due to the garden's clever system of irrigation, trees kept watered despite the predominance of flagstones by a spiderweb of grooves that lead from the fountain into the trees. Water bubbles constantly through the little tunnels set into the stone before eventually being recycled into the lagoon somewhere beyond.


Note: This takes place immediately following the 'just can't win' scene.

(language)

Tree. Tree. Tree. Bush. Tree. Somewhere in the back of his mind, J'en was probably paying attention to his surroundings so as not to walk into anything, even if the majority of it was focused on other things. Such as what had just transpired so randomly he was having difficulty processing it. Thoughts were jumbling up with emotions he had no business feeling, making it harder to appear unaffected, to let himself not to care. Ugh, this SUCKS, he growls to himself, hands back to being tucked away in his pockets so that no one could see that they had formed into white-knuckled fists. His shoulders had tightened to such a degree the muscles there were beginning to scream at him with protest, the bite on the back of his neck aching and throbbing. Teeth clenched, FUCK!

The second, the instant that Sevran deems Catwin to have gone far enough "away", he turns on his heels and is following in the wake of the fleeing Jae. There is no humor in his expression now, just something akin to fear. He's not hard to spot, seeing as he was walking and Sevran was jogging. "Jae," he calls out, formalities dropped under the pretense of privacy. At least, he doesn't see anyone else in this vicinity of the garden. "Stop," and he'll take his life into his hands by reaching out to grab one of his shoulders, intent on turning him around to face him.

Only because J'en was all up in his head is he unaware of the jogging panic that is Sevran, but it doesn't stop him from flat out snarling at him when one stiff shoulder is grabbed and he's wheeled around. The momentum with which he wrenches himself out of his grasp has him losing his footing a bit, lending to the way his back strikes up against a peach tree with some velocity. That sounded like it hurt, but there is no reflection of it on the bronzerider's face. Instead, there was unrestrained anger fully directed at the butcher-candidate. "WHAT?" he demands, already starting to push himself up and off the tree, but probably as his first step towards vacating as quickly as possible rather than in any attempt to full out attack him. Though, considering how pissed he looked right then, that just might be a possibility too. Best to reserve judgment.

Sevran is quick to let go, not attempting to hold on once he's got the bronzerider's attention. His hands fly up in an 'I surrender' fashion, and he takes a step back. He is definitely not taking that anger for granted, but he's not going to back down either. There's a rather desperate attempt to make eye contact, but even without it, he'll just go ahead and cut to the chase, because it seems pretty obvious to him what the issue is. "We're not a thing. Catwin and I. I dunno why she said that, but it's something in her head, not mine." There's a very serious, almost deadly quality to his next statement. "There is no one else." 'but you' is the implication.

The bronzerider makes eye contact just fine, but his eyes resembled more closely molten metal, heated to impossibly high temperatures by his rage. If he’d even seen the surrender gesture is anyone’s guess, far too busy trying to sear his gaze through Sevran’s face. His anger was not something to trifle with certainly, not with all that lean muscle to back it up, and what is said does very little to cool it. Now that it was pouring out of him, it was proving difficult to rein back in. Control, was a very fine line for J’en, no matter how tightly he had learned to hold it over the turns. Sometimes, in moments of high stress or being caught unaware, lash outs such as these still occurred. “Like I give a shit,” he snaps back with a seething growl as he comes to a stop, standing in front of the peach tree, “We’re fuckin’, that’s it. Where else ya put yer dick ain’t mah concern. So, do what ya fuckin’ want.” He talked a good game, but his hands were still firmly shoved into his jacket pockets and his tension wracked frame trembling visibly. That and he still looked like he wanted nothing more right now than to manually remove parts of the candidate’s anatomy.

Sevran does a mighty-fine job of resisting an eyeroll, which is probably good, if he wants to avoid certain death or injury. He really likes his anatomy where it is. “Really? Is that why you went all icy-cold and practically shoved me into the ground? Because you don’t give a shit?” Really, that sarcasm probably doesn’t help, but Sev is feeling just a little bit put-out. “I’d hate to see what you do if you did care.” And yeah, that’s a chin lift, ala Jae-fashion. “If you wanna hit me, hit me. Just don’t lie to me, cause I won’t lie to you.”

An eyeroll at this particular juncture would likely be inadvisable, as J’en was on the teetering edge of unleashing all that fury directly upon his person. Sarcasm, though, this changes the dangerous feel in the air, to deadly. Trust was a serious issue for the bronzerider, for reasons that Sevran knew and for others he did not. Being flippant, even if he couldn’t be entirely honest with the butcher or himself, was a mistake of massive proportions. Then comes more words, followed by his own trademark chin lift being mirrored back at him and Jae is moving faster than eyes can follow or even his own brain can process. “YEAH?”, comes his hiss and what follows might be reflexive, but there is power behind the punch that's aimed straight into the butcher’s gut, enough to knock the wind out of him at the very least but nothing he wouldn't be able to recover from given time. “…’ow’s that for ‘onesty?” The tears in those fiery eyes betrayed just how much he did actually care, as well as suggested that he wasn't just punching Sevran's because he had told him too.

It’s being accused of something he didn’t do, with no chance to defend himself, that has Sevran so irked. But the punch to the gut is probably deserved. He doesn’t move to block, though he does flinch just before that fist connects with his gut. Sevran doubles over, arms immediately wrapping around his gut as he drops to his knees, breath knocked out in a rush of air. Muscles spasm, and there is much gasping and wheezing as he tries to get in a decent breath. The struggle continues for a few moments before he’s able to gasp in at least a little air to reestablish some exchange of oxygen. “Ow.” He’ll just stay down here for a minute, eyes squeezed shut as he processes the last few moments or so and tries to breathe in a normal way again. Sarcasm has definitely been neutralized.

It should come as no surprise that J’en doesn't look the least bit apologetic when his punch connects and steals all the breath from the butcher, that is if he can even see him in those seconds between connection and when it starts to hurt. The bronzerider steps back if only to lean against that same peach tree, watching Sevran protectively coil his arms around himself and drop to the ground. However, the moment his knees strike down, Jae looks away, angrily ignoring the fat droplets that race each other from one eye and then the other. He simply waits, arms crossing loose over his middle and finding something he probably didn't see at all to occupy his gaze, his teeth clenched, but the anger he'd initially had shown, has been reduced to half. Probably because it was current making it difficult for Sevran to breathe.

He’s still wheezing, sucking in air in shallow little gasps because his diaphragm simply won’t let him breathe any deeper than that. Another few seconds, and he’s able to take a deeper, rasping breath. Then another. Still in pain, which is clearly indicated by the way he winces and hisses as he starts climbing to his feet, Sevran stands. It’s slow going, and one arm never really unwraps from around himself, protecting the place he was just struck. Standing completely straight is still a bit difficult though, so he’s kinda hunching a little, shoulders rolled in. But his eyes will seek out the bronzerider against the tree, appraising him quickly. There’s no anger in Sevran’s expression. There’s a wince as he moves forward, closing the gap between them with careful steps. If he’ll let him, Sevran will grab him into a fierce, tight hug.

J’en may or may not be paying attention to the great struggle that is trying to recover from a sucker punch to the gut, but this also extends to when Sevran does happen to pull himself to his feet and shambles forward towards him. It’s probably a ‘not’ considering the bronzerider startles as the butcher ‘suddenly appears’ or it could have been a full body wince as his frame tightens all at once. Suffice to say everything happens so quickly there is a noticeable pause between when Jae is grabbed into that hug and when he is struggling against it. Trying to push him away, purely out of instinct. “Leave meh alone,” he growls at some point, despite the way he now had two fistfuls of the butcher’s tunic just there over his hips and which made backing off from him an impossibility. Full of contradictions, he drops the bridge of his nose to the candidate’s shoulder, “Just…leave meh alone…” There was something about that that suggests that he wasn’t talking about right here and now anymore.

Since when did Sevran ever listen to Jae? Especially when he says things like ‘leave me alone’ or ‘get away from me’? Never. And he’s not about to start now. Wincing a little as muscles continue to spasm from that hit, he just pulls the bronzerider tighter against him, arms wrapped around his shoulders in a vice-grip that refuses to let go. Right now, there are no words from the candidate, either because he feels that none are needed, or because he’s having enough trouble just breathing, let alone attempting to talk.

Truth. Had Sevran listened to J’en, it was doubtful that things would have progressed even this far between them. That includes the way his hands unclench and progressively yet hesitantly come to wrap around the butcher’s waist in an embrace that could hardly even quality as such before the bronzerider sharply inhales and his arms fall loosely at his sides. “Sevran,” he says quietly after what might seem like a lifetime of silence, lifting his head up and decidedly turning it away to fix his eyes on the trunk of the peach tree, “Ya can let meh go now.” What tension had melted away slowly but surely was beginning to return. “Someone might see.” It might only be a hug, but no one hugged J’en unless they were close with him and the fact that he was allowing a candidate to do so publicly would be viewed as highly suspect.

Sevran really doesn’t want to let go, and puts as much into words with a hoarse “I don’t care,” for the threat of being seen. But that’s a half-truth. He does care, if only because he cares what would happen to J’en. So with some reluctance, he releases his hold and drops his arms, stepping back. There’s another wince for all the movement, and he can’t help that his arm curls protectively around his stomach once again. He can’t quite take a full, deep breath yet, but at least he’s progressed passed quick and shallow gasping. Grey eyes assess Jae carefully, head to toe and back. “Can we talk about what just happened?”

There are no more verbal reminders of just how bad it would be if they were caught from the bronzerider, there is only the stiffness of his shoulders, which worsens when Sevran says he doesn’t care. “Dragonriders are sexier than butchers.” he mutters, flatly of course, but the implication was there; that J’en wanted this candidate to have his chance of a lifemate of his own. How he came to know of Sevran’s previous vocation without being told directly is difficult to say, and perhaps he realizes this as he shifts his weight slightly from one foot to the other, eyes wandering away. There it stays as he’s released, lashes lowering some as he falls beneath that grey eyes assessment. His gaze flickering somewhere else not the candidate, muttering something completely inaudible that sounds like it might have been words, but there was no way to tell for sure. Whatever it was, it had made him entirely uncomfortable, brows furrowing and hands sliding back into the pockets of his jacket. Still not looking at Sevran either, nope.

The candidate has a very undignified snort for that sexy comment, but there’s a bit of familiar humor in his hoarse voice when he says “Yeah OK. No pressure.” He tries another deeper breath, with mild success and only minimal wincing. “Hmm?” cause yeah, he didn’t quite catch that. “A little louder, maybe?” but his tone is gentle, and he’ll give a bit of space by not focusing his attention directly on Jae. Sure. Peach-trees are interesting. He’ll just look over here

J’en shrugs only one tight shoulder faintly for mention of pressure. As far as he knew, this was Sevran’s first time standing, and that seemed a plausible guess on his part when he thought back on the disbelief on younger teens face when he had pulled a candidate knot out for him. Real pressure was standing the seven times Jae had, with an expectant Weyrleader father breathing down his neck. Teeth gritted, the bronzerider shifted his weight again, his head ducking a bit to allow some shadow to fall across his face. “I dun wanna share.” he hisses, but this still terribly soft, and to hear it for what it was Sevran might have to strain to do so. Especially with the wind beginning to pick up, making leaves rustling and branches creaking as they rub together louder that J’en was.

He may be feigning an intense interest in peach trees, but his ears are highly attuned to Jae, and Jae alone. But the hissed confession is briefly misunderstood, and Sevran frowns. “Share?” Share what? He’s kinda lost for a moment there, and it takes a thorough re-examination of the past half hour to really get it. “You were jealous.” Lightbulb. And although he does his best not to show it, there’s a gleam in his eye and his mouth is doing this stupid twitchy-thing like it might break out into a stupid smart-ass grin. Which would probably be good for no one. “Alright.” Shrug. “Done. No sharing.”

Share what? Jae’s eyes close and he winces, because he honestly did not want to have to repeat himself yet again but loud enough for the entire fucking weyr to eavesdrop on it. At least, that’s what it felt like. Teeth are ground with Sevran’s self-enlightened statement, snorting and grumbling something akin to ‘was not’ even if the candidate had hit the nail on the head stood back and jazz handed it while it went up in neon. Don’t think just because J’en was facing away that golden eyes hadn’t darted back to Sevran the second of his lightbulb moment, because his chin lifts and he gives him a narrow-eyed look for the gleam and twitch, “Dun make meh punch ya again.” Grumble. Grumble. Neutral mask in place save for the slightest of frowns, the bronzerider casts his gaze back out again elsewhere, “Ya shouldn't agree to shit so easily,” he replies soft but even, that single shoulder lifting again, then even quieter, “If I just ask, how ya gunna know what’ll ‘appen to ya if ya fuck up.” Probably a joke, but impossible to know for sure.

He really is doing a massively good job of keeping that stupid grin off his face, if just because it’ll hurt if he starts laughing. And probably still hurts without laughing. It just hurts, and Sevran is trying hard not to poke and rub at the bruise. “I think one is enough,” punches. “Thanks for not punching me in the face.” For real. And public space or no, he’s going to close the distance between them, though he resists the urge to pull him back into an embrace. “And why shouldn’t I,” agree so easily. “I don’t want to be shared.” Threats of violence do little to dispel the humor in his eyes. He either does not feel it’s a legitimate threat, or he’s confident of never fucking up. On a more serious note, however, Sevran meets his eyes and states quite plainly, “I don’t really want to share either, though.” But he’s not gonna threaten to punch him.

“Punch in the face looks like a punch to the face,” J’en says, chin lifting a degree more when the candidate gets close to him, pocket handed arms lifting some as if to ward him off but when the embrace doesn’t come he begins to relax again little by little. Though, some tension always remains. He was skittish that way. “Punch to the gut, can be passed off as clumsy.” Sure, Sevran tripped over something and fell onto the bronzerider’s fist. Perfectly reasonable right? “I’m a rider, there ain’t really such a thin’ as exclusivity. Flights and all.” Be it a winner or a loser, there was certain effects that could not be avoided, even if Jae locked himself up somewhere until it was all over. That, wasn’t exactly healthy though for the dragon half of the pairing. While he meets those grey eyes briefly, he just as quickly finds something else to look at. Oh, what a nice twig there on the ground. It's a lovely time of the turn for them, “Ain’t fuckin’ anyone else.” Soft. Low. Almost imperceptible, but he totally said what Sevran might have thought he just said.

Deadpan look as he says, “I got a black eye from being hit in the face with a flask. Then another – the same eye mind you – when I got ran over by Catwin. I’m pretty sure the Healers would believe me if I said I ran into a door.” And they probably would, actually. But anyway. He’s glad it wasn’t his face. As the topic of flights arises, Sevran just nods his head, his smile wavering and momentarily disappearing. He knows. Weyrbrat and all. “Yeah, I know,” he says aloud, and although he doesn’t sound thoroughly pleased with the idea, he’s not unrealistically upset, either. “I get it.” Shrug. “Doesn’t mean I have to like it.” Or think about in unnecessarily. The golden eyes currently avoiding him get noticed, but he doesn’t relent, and at the soft, almost imperceptible statement, there’s a twich of his lips into a smile. This one is not smart-ass at all, but just genuine happiness. And if it wasn’t such a public place, (or more likely, if Jae wasn’t all tense about it being a public place) it’s very likely the bronzerider would find himself in another tight embrace. “Any other ground rules you wanna lay out?” it’s half tease, half honest question.

“I get scarred up by mah lovers,” the bronzerider replies just as deadpan, although he probably specify that only the lovers that have some general or profound impact on him seem to be privy to leaving him marked for life. Be it physical, emotional, or both. “Count yerself lucky ya only get a little banged up and look just as pretty as ya did before once yer healed up.” J’en has nothing to say about excuses, probably having had his own back when he was ten or so and he kept showing up looking like he’d been whipped. Where were his parents back then? Who knows. Obviously not being his parents. As discussion moves on to exclusivity and its impracticality when it came to being a dragonrider, golden eyes can be found on Sevran’s face before they look this way and that, just to return to him. A single step in, fingertips finding the back of the butcher’s wrist and then sliding down lightly in a caress to his palm, Jae presses his lips soft and light to his to linger for two full drum beats before he steps back and away. Hand is shoved back into his pocket and his back against the peach tree. Nothing to see here folks, moving along. “Imagine ‘ow it’s gunna be for meh if ya impress and I can’t touch ya for at least a turn and a ‘alf,” he growls and sighs, frowning lightly. It’s gone soon enough, shrugging at the inquiry for further ground rules. Quiet for a spell, angled some over himself and his neck slightly bent, “Dun push so ‘ard. Ya come at meh like a fuckin’ ‘urricane. It might ‘ave gotten ya this far, but I can’t give ya more than this. Dunno if I can.”

He doesn’t say it, but there’s definitely a ‘Touché’ look for Jae. And if Sevran gave any real thought to that idea – whipped-up ten-turn-old Jae – he probably would wanna punch some “parents” in the face. Thankfully for all involved, his thoughts do not get that far. The reassurance, fleeting though it may be, has Sevran smiling softly at the bronzerider. Nothing to see indeed, just a love-drunk candidate. But hey. Who’s looking anyway? No one. “I have thought about it,” he admits, and by his voice, it was not a very good thought. “Thought about it a lot.” Maybe while lying awake, glaring daggers at a certain white-knot and wondering if flinging it into the ocean was an option. Alas, it is still on his shoulder. “Thought about handing it back to you, even though I was certain you’d put it right back on my shoulder.” With choice words, and classic snarly-growly-look that he secretly loves. But regardless, the knot is on his shoulder. It’s staying there. If there is doubt and indecision regarding what the bronzerider will do during that time, he doesn’t voice it. Instead he just shrugs his shoulders and presses his lips into a thin line. But about ground rules. Hm. More thoughtful looks. There are so many smart-ass things he could say. Really. But he doesn’t. Instead, he just says very honestly, “This is enough.”

Rightfully so. Sevran could toss a million candidate knots into the ocean and J’en would be right there to plop another right back onto his shoulder. Though, this would be mostly from Leketh’s influence who did not take no for an answer. He had been chosen after all and that made him special. The bronzerider, on the other hand, probably thought the candidate was special for entirely different reasons he may or may not figure out on his own someday. “It ain’t.” An option that is, “Leketh said ya ‘ad what it takes, the stuff of dragonriders. Sure we ain’t got thread or nothin’ to fight no more, but there’s plenty else to do.” Like taking out renegades and such, twitch. Golden-brown eyes slide slowly back to Sevran, “I would, but it’s yer choice if ya think ya’d be happy bein’ a butcher for the rest of yer life. Even I thought about tellin’ Rezia no when she searched meh, but I’d already stood six times for clutches all over Pern.” Yep, he’d been a candidate seven times before finding a lifemate. That was either dedication, pure stubbornness, or he’d felt like he had something to prove. “I ain’t goin’ nowhere, ya do whatcha gutta do.” Again, his eyes find purchase along the ground somewhere. “Dun worry ‘bout anythin’ other than when those eggs start rockin’.” As for the rest? All J’en can do is nod, because he just wasn’t ready for what he felt for Sevran to be more than possessiveness and sexual attraction.

It was all things Sevran already knew; of having what it takes to be a dragonrider. Of it being his choice, truly. As much as he might bitch or sulk about it at times, he knew the decision was his. And that was the hardest part, maybe. “See, I could be happy as a butcher,” he states firmly. “I never wanted to be more than that.” But now? Not so sure maybe. “I’ve never stood before. I lived at a Weyr my entire life and never asked to Stand. All of my sisters stood at least once; some more than once. Not a single one has Impressed. As far as I am aware, there are no dragonriders in my family.” Shrug. “So I never thought about it.” Sigh. “I am not dropping out. I’m going to Stand.” And that’s that. Grey eyes flash to gold, but Sevran doesn’t say anything else on the subject. Of standing. Of dealing. Of more.

J’en snorts once, “Yeah, all it takes is being searched once, and ya get that feelin’ like yer meant to be more and it dun ever go away.” Well, until you impress or get repeatedly left behind, hatching after hatching. Then it just feels like a cruel joke. Good enough to stand, not good enough to Impress. Then again, Jae had never been a model candidate, especially by the time it came around to his last time being called that. Fights. Sex. Drinking. Breaking curfew. Every single rule broken and ground into dust, because at that point he’d stopped caring if he Impressed or not. That, and half of the reason he’d agreed was to escape his exile to Fort Weyr, land of snow and ice. The bronzerider nods for Sevran’s determination, but doesn’t comment further on it. He’d made his choice, what happened from there, was up to the fates to decide. The fates and ten dragon eggs. How many candidates were there? Thirty? Forty? Pushing himself off the tree, golden eyes find grey. “I’m gunna go. I’ll see ya later.” Soft, not his usual emotionless tone, and he does not reach out to touch him. No, there is just that look and tone that match so well, and he starts back for the weyr.

“Yeah,” is all Sevran has to say to that. Because that’s really all that needs saying, right? It’s in his head now. And his blood. And if he backed out, he’d never forgive himself. There is quiet contemplation, perhaps for the same things. Eggs. Candidates. The odds of Impression. The odds of not. As Jae moves, his eyes flash to him immediately, meeting that golden gaze with a steady one of his own. A nod of his head. “Ok.” A murmur, but that’s all. And Sevran will just stay, find a cozy spot beneath a peach tree, and think of dragons and choices.


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