Pretending They Got It

Half Moon Bay Weyr - Weyrling Training Field
Near the tall black eastern wall of the crater is a cleared field. The earth there has been churned many times over by the landings and take offs of young dragons and only a few patches of grass cling to life in this active area. Wooden props and markers used to assist the weyrlings as they learn the precise maneuvers required for the rescue and protection work that the weyr is famous for, litter the training field. Close to the rimwall, in the east where the sun is usually shaded is a large wooden slat barracks for the weyrlings to live in. Tropical trees and shrubs have been allowed to grow here, perfuming the air with a floral scent.

Really, it's probably a little late for being out and about, but it's hard to argue with a baby gold dragon who's already twice your size and also just almost-awakening from a rather abrupt nap. Ignoring the light patter of rain that comes and goes — it's warm, and the air is warm, and Ily is warm too — the dragonet's Weyrling sits half-upright, curled against Ilyscaeth. They're out of the way at least, back in one of the niches of smooth stone along the bowl's edge, the only pair still out. The only pair unfortunate enough to have been caught by the sleepies with a dragon just way too big to be moved. « VTOLs? » Ilysi mumbles, shifting a wing a little as she starts to stir, and Cita snorts, shifting her chin to the arm pinned against the dragonet and using the other to reach up, soothing some itch or other. "If you wake up, we can go back in." The healer cajoles, fruitlessly, as the little gold just murmurs something about tunnelsnake-cats and tucks her head under a wing. Cita doesn't seem to expect anything else, though, and settles back into her half-drowse.

It comes in quiet, subtle, hushed, notes of a lullaby carried on a gentle beat, the soft glittering shapes of animals mentally muttered scampering, golden, from the woodworks like a goddamned Disneyland fantasy to cavort playfully in Ilyscaeth's dreams. Xermiltoth's mind long precedes the dragon himself, but come he does, ambling slow to match the pace of his rider, and it's entirely possible R'hyn has been avoiding this moment up until now, for when blue-grey eyes catch on Citayla and her large-but-tiny queen - alone - he stops, jaw tight, gaze going mutinous around the edges, chest visibly swelling from a distance as he sucks in air. A beat. Then two. And then he's moving again, not needing the whuffle Xermi huffs his way; once feet are in motion, they remain so, carrying him right up into Cita's space - Ilyscaeth's space - to drop slowly into a kneel. Eyes slide over the gold's sleeping form, already awed, already fond, before flicking down to her rider (her rider) with a thick, huffed, "Cita," and an attempt at a smile that's honestly all he can manage just yet.

There's probably a reason that Teimyrth isn't here (hint: it's because he's a dick), but Ila'den is; his pace is considerably more sedate than that of R'hyn and Xermiltoth, as if he's spent enough time in the mutual company of both Cita and Ryn to know time and distance may be required to prepare himself for what was lying around that corner, in that field, tucked away against slumbering new-gold hides and the emotion he knew would be in words, and eyes, and faces. So the older bronzerider is showing up after R'hyn has already knelt down, after R'hyn's already spoken the newly-minted weyrling's name, to stand slightly behind and to the side with arms crossed over a broad chest. Silence keeps him, emotion stays him, and that grey eye watches. He's here - always, forever - to support them both in whatever capacity he can, but this is their moment, just Cita and Ryn and Ryn and Cita, and Ila'den is content to let them have it.

Ilyscaeth's slumber isn't heavy, exactly, but she's asleep enough that the approach of another dragon doesn't rouse her — she shimmers in a haze of the happy shapes, though, loud and excited even in her sleep. Cita doesn't lift her head at first, instead pressing closer, chasing some brand-new feeling or maybe just wishing for glorious sleep. The crunch of close feet, though, those lift her head, and shells. Shifting a little closer to Ilysi's chest, she makes room, tucking herself into the curve of the little gold's shoulder. "Ryn." The weyrling can't seem to figure out how to move her expression out of the slightly wide-eyed one it's been in for most of the day, but she tries, blinking rapidly. "Hi." A little strangled, small and not-scared but also not-confident, but she's got this, she's not going to lose her composure. Not even when she spots Ila, lurking, not getting in on the huddle. Instead she widens her eyes, jerking her head sharply, you get here RIGHT NOW pretty clear. She won't take no for an answer, even if it means detaching herself from Ily's person and dragging his ass over here. "Ilyscaeth," Yeah, we've got it, Cita. She continues, though! "fell asleep."

Color Xermiltoth proud; his children's minds come in all shapes and sizes and it's possible he enjoys them all, but this one, who has chosen Citayzleat, whom he knows and adores independently of this new-hatched soul - that this one is loud thrills him. He doesn't allow himself words or a crescendo to express such joy, too sensitive of the moment being shared betwixt riders to risk waking her, but he settles behind the wee goldling curl protectively without touching except in their minds, where tunnelcats frolic and tousle between Ily's shapes before exploding into golden glitter and reforming as rolling kittens on the edges of an upwards, happy note. And R'hyn… well. He doesn't move into the space made for him just yet. Instead he issues quiet laughter on an exhale for that 'hi,' breathy noise suspiciously watery even as his eyes rotate up to Ila'den, sass game strong in an attempt not to lose it all just yet as he murmurs a wry, "'Hi,' she says to me." As if he weren't close enough to hear it, as if all R'hyn could manage wasn't Cita's name, but shh. He's in denial, in the same way Ila'den is clearly in denial about the fact that he belongs in this moment as much as either of them. Blue-grey eyes slide back to Citayla, red around the edges but patiently humored, a wink the only warning she'll have before he leans in and uses entirely too much height and muscle to his advantage to pull the healer-turned-weyrling up into his arms. It's an awkward hold, but there's only steps to go to get her where she needs to be, giving Cita her feet only long enough to catch her balance before pressing her back against Ila'den's chest, grip expanding to encompass him, too, in one massive bronzerider-ridden embrace. "Ilyscaeth," R'hyn finally manages, muffled by somebody and not emotions surely, "is perfect."

It would seem that they are all having some kind of existential crisis of self in this moment, a moment when they should be lighting bonfires on the beach, and dancing in the flickering light of brightly burning flame while all those inescapable emotions are cried through laughter and eased from bodies as tense muscles move. But they are here - here - together, in a Training Field where Weyrlings learn how to be Dragonriders - where they've all been before - and Dragons learn how to be Dragons while Ila'den, and R'hyn, and Citayla all learn how to pretend that they're people who've got this. Spoiler alert: they don't. They don't got this at all. Ila's grey eye is busy tracing lines and memorizing the way Cita looks back-dropped with a queen, settling back on the once healer's face when she jerks her chin in an unspoken come hither and Ila'den smiles - but it's not his usual roguish smile, there's no mischief in it. His eye is too bright, and his brows pull in as his lips press together - as if he doesn't really want to smile - and the corners push up without ever really meeting his eyes. And he doesn't come over - he looks away, to the left where there are uninteresting but important things that need seeing even as Ryn speaks to him. The former renegade clears his throat before he speaks, but he doesn't look back at R'hyn. "I don't think you were any more eloquent, weyrmate." But it's in soft tones, sans the usual hints of challenge even while he tries to recreate it in words alone. And then it doesn't matter, because he's blinking when he's got a chest full of Citayla and weyrmate and… Ila'den dips his head, brushes the top of Cita's with his cheek, with the stubble on his chin before he kisses her crown and presses one arm between goldrider and weyrmate bronzerider to pull her even closer. His other hand goes to catch R'hyn's jaw, to push his forehead against the younger rider's over Cita's with that eye closed.

Ilysi doesn't know she's loud, but she is anyways, booming a cacophonous symphony of strings and trumpets because kittens; even asleep, dream-Ilyscaeth mumbles something gleeful and happy. A wave of nebulous light and tangible happiness billows outwards — it'll be lucky if only the five of them can feel it, the first stirrings of awareness coming back. Cita presses a little more into the gold's side, affectionate, eyes briefly a little distant as she takes in the mental show and the dragon now a part of her. "She can hear you." The healer whispers a not-really rebuke for Ryn, flicking a narrow-eyed stare up at Ila, because it's been whole seconds and he's doing a smile that doesn't look happy, and. And he's not complying and she was very clear and « HERE » a dazzling burst of stars and feeling from Ilysi, drowsy around the edges but certainly more aware than moments before, echoing her weyrling's demand. The distraction is enough that Cita doesn't immediately notice that Ryn's gone and snatched her up, but it's not like she's going to complain. She even tries to balance herself for ease of hauling, relaxing once they've reached their destination. "Thank you." She tries for prim, a vague stab at 'you're-lucky-I-didn't-come-get-you', but it falls roughly a mile short and still in 'choked up' territory, because hugs and she's had time to think now, and Faranth. At least squashed between the two riders, her expression doesn't much matter, and she can grab an arm in each hand and just kind of huddles, vice grip likely on the verge of not comfortable, but also not likely to let up unless she's reminded of herself. "She is. Look at her." She can't. Because she's got a faceful of bronzerider. But she knows the dragonet is still there, drowsing on the edges of a good nap, forming and un-forming kittens from star matter.

Amusement sings through Xermiltoth's thoughts, adding a layer of golden heat to the mind expanding to encompass those in the general vicinity, unable or unwilling to contain himself any longer. Gold-dust kittens continue to play, abandoning one another to romp and careen and flip in the pursuit of Ilysi's stars. "Can she?," Ryn smart-mouths, dubious because her ability to hear was rather in doubt there for a while, but the topic is not further pursued. Instead his gaze snags on Ila'den's expression, his own going soft in quiet understanding and vague concern, but also that gentle chastisement that bids the younger bronzer to kidnap Cita right out from under her demanding little lifemate, more breathy laughter escaping him for the starry rebuke. "Yes, Ila, here," he drawls into the space created by bodies, allowing for adjustments to be made before shifting himself, one arm tucking about Citayla's other side before the other lifts to cup the back of Ila'den's neck, an almost perfect mirror of posture if not for that. Here, because they both belong to R'hyn in their individual ways, essential to his existence, to the person he is and has become. Here, because there's not a world in which he would have one without the other for a moment like this, because it might not be a bonfire, a dance, a proper expression of frenetic emotion, but it's a celebration nonetheless. If vice-like gripping bothers R'hyn, he will not be the first to protest, instead taking the gesture for what it is, and returning it with a squeeze of his own. Still trying to fight that valiant fight, his forehead shifts against Ila's, turning to look at her behest, and maybe that's what finally gets him, or maybe it's just the culmination of so many things that sets his jaw quivering against his weyrmate's hand as he mumbles a weak, voice-catching, "I'm so—" Happy? Proud? He can't seem to decide, and changes track instead of trying to figure it out. "'S it cliche to say I knew? The second she broke outta that shell, wearin' it like a damn costume or somethin', I just…" Oh, Lightning Before the Thunder Gold Hatchling, there he goes, sniffling as silvery tears finally shed with an attempt at a laugh. "I'm just so glad she found you."

Ila’den is getting used to having other dragons constantly in his head – there’s Xermiltoth, for beginners, and now Risali has a curiously upbeat little queen that has no qualms about sticking her metaphysical snout in his business whenever Risali asks. Which is a lot. So while Ilyscaeth’s voice may draw his attention, it doesn’t startle him – and then it doesn’t matter, because his arms are full of weyrmates and weyrmates by proxy, and one’s got a death grip on them while the other does things that are against the laws of Gods and men. Like cry. Who does that. But Ila’den doesn’t shy away from the emotion; Ila’den closes that good eye, and listens, and reigns in his own rising aches with that same internally cussed command he always seems to manage (except for when he doesn’t, but those are rare times indeed and we don’t speak of them). “I don’t think any of us were surprised, honestly,” Ila’den murmurs, accent thicker and voice gruff for having managed not to follow in R’hyn’s footsteps. The hand at Cita’s hip comes up to her hair, smoothing it down where he places another kiss, before that grey eye finds R’hyn and there’s a muted smile, the kind that says, ‘I love you,’ and, ‘You’ve got this,’ and, ‘Knock that shit off right now.’ But then Ila’den is looking towards Ilyscaeth because she is in need of the appreciation. “But she is beautiful.” He’s late to the party; it’s fine. It means he can give Cita and Ryn some iota of ‘privacy’ and still be involved in their moment. “I knew she was Cita’s the moment she charged Xermiltoth. Trouble, just like her ‘mate.” SHOTS FIRED.

Ilyscaeth awakens with an awkward start, curving around into citaspace only to find her lifemate not there — sleepily chasing kittens with cloudy apparitions of what-even-is-a-whale, the goldling blinks, trilling a sleepy-curious note into the night. Cita twitches a little at the return of her dragonet to awareness, but relaxes, because indeed, here is where she wants to be, and here she will sharding stay. Even if R'hyn is testing her very tenuous grip on not dissolving into tears again, even if Ily's curious about that, sleepy and warm. "I didn't know." She whispers the admission, gripping his arm still harder, because it's either that or bursting into raucous tears and confusing poor Ilyscaeth. Trembling a little beneath the weight of a mountain of doubts — she can't be nearly as confident, here — Cita takes a sharp breath or two, ending on a laugh more than a little shaky. Ila's patting at her hair is the final straw, though, and the weyrling's laughing kind of breaks in the middle. "She's…amazing. I didn't think I'd want her." There: one fear, let into the world, and dispelled. At least she isn't doing Face Things, though, as hers is still very well-hidden, and she can pretend just as long as Ilysi doesn't cotton on. "You're trouble." Oh, zinger from the crying crowd. That one will really sting, Citayla. "She was just lost." « Was I? » Yeah, WAS she, Cita. Was she. SIGH.

Ilyscaeth awakens, and all bets are off. It might be night, but it's always daytime in Xermiltoth's mind, radiance redoubling for the appearance of giant constructs in the little gold's mind. Kittens spiral apart, reforming as mantas, majestic flap-flaps coasting through sunlit color and scattering diamonds. « Good morning, » the bronze finally speaks, teasing in his almost-quiet tone as whirling eyes lift skywards, « Though perhaps it is not really morning anymore. You must have been tired. » Closer the blackened bronze shifts, perhaps aiming to distract from distress as he pulls himself closer on gold-shattered toes, still not quite touching but angling himself so he can drop his head in close proximity to Ilysi's. « What did you see today? What did you do? » Meanwhile, R'hyn does his best to reel it in, honest he does, and it's entirely possible he didn't mean to lose it in the first place; it's just that he, too, is a creature of doubts and fears, afraid from the moment he asked Citayzleat to stand that she would be left without again, and just what it would do to his friend, what it would mean that he'd done it to her in some way that perhaps isn't true but would have been taken to heart nevertheless. To be able to put that worry to rest, even if it brings with itself a whole other host of doubts and realities, brings such relief that it can no longer be contained. So it takes him a minute, maybe two, in which eyes remained pressed close and tears likely drop to be smoothed away by Ila's hand and hair-kisses, but then he's back with a rough laugh, blue-greys sliding open and meeting Ila'den's one first, crinkles forming at the edges of his eyes with a smile that's much more a grin, forehead pulling back just enough to butt gently against the bronzerider's again, a gesture to match an expression that encapsulates so many things, the brunt of which being, 'I love you, too,' and, 'I really don't but thanks,' and also, 'Fuck you,' even as his mouth says, "Of course you didn't. Who does. But we did. More importantly, Xerm did. He's been insufferable." Said as though the entire weyr hasn't heard him parading about, boasting about his sons and daughters. Sigh. Still, he's trying to check all of these pesky emotions, struggling for humor right up to the exposure of Citayla's concerns. There's a beat, then two, and then he's pulling his hands from their respective posts, smoothing thumbs needlessly over Ila's cheekbones before pressing a swift kiss to his lips, easing back half a step to repeat thumbs-sweeping over Cita's cheeks, wiping away evidence of TEARS WHAT TEARS YOU'RE CRYING before dropping a kiss to her forehead with a mumbled, "And now what do you think?" And then there's laughter for the reminder of Ilyscaeth blustering into her sire's person, and finally he tears himself away from his favorite people in the world to approach the gold in question, hands out for her perusal even as he rumbles a low, "You weren't lost, you were just testing our mettle, weren't you?" MMHMM. Sure.

"Funny how dragons do that - fill a void you never realized was even there until they were in it." Because Ila'den knows. You don't live life orphaned in a renegade camp and expect to have a dragon ever find you worthy - even if you skirted the darker complexities of holdless living. And Teimyrth? Well, he's a shit, but Ila'den wouldn't trade him for any other dragon regardless of the fact that most people just don't like him (and it's mutual so he's FINE WITH THAT). But now is not about ILA AND TEIMYRTH, now is about CITA AND ILYSI. It's about R'hyn kissing him, and Ila'den kissing back, and then stepping back when the bronzerider tends to Cita's Definitely-Not-Tears with sweeping thumbs and quiet words. Also, Citayla 'insults' him, and there's rumbling laughter rattling somewhere in Ila'den's chest, emitted on a breathy exhale that ends as abruptly as it's come. "Alright, little troublemaker. Don't go picking a fight, now. I can still haul you out of here." HIS BRAIN AND FEELING-CONTROLS MIGHT BE BROKEN, but his shoulders are still perfectly good. Still, when R'hyn steps away, Ila'den steps in once more to pull Citayla back into a hug, using both arms this time to squeeze her, to hold her for maybe a moment longer than might be usual, and then he's cupping her face in his hands, to tilt her face up towards his before squooshing her cheeks because this is how he deals with tears. "Congratulations, little bird. I guess now you're really going to learn how to fly." And then what are him and R'hyn going to do? FIGHT THE WORLD, THAT'S WHAT. Ila releases her then, to move towards R'hyn, to stand shoulder to shoulder with him and stare at the newly hatched queen. "Well," he says softly into the distance between them, and Cita, and dragons. "We're fucked." First Risa, and now Cita. It's happening.

« I broke three cots when I woke up. » Nebulous emotions between chagrin and blatant glee dance in flickers of starlight and color, quick blasts of trumpets and something lower, quieter. « Tuoferiath's oil smelled funny and I sneezed a lot. » Look, she can't help that. Tapping Xermi's nose with a clumsy wing (probably actually whacking him pretty hard), the little gold rises to her feet, stretching like a particularly awkward cat. Cita makes a gruff kind of noise at the cheek-wiping and forehead kisses, smiling tremulously. "I'm sure he has been. He even has reason to." The weyrling chuffs something that might be a laugh, watching the bronzerider wander off with a fond little smile. « Well, yeah. » Even so young, Ilyscaeth's not dumb; she knows when agreeing to things is to her favor. « Good talk. Who's going to get me food? I'm really hungry. » Cita's not, yet: she's too busy clinging to Ila like a barnacle, hug just as much a vice grip as her former hold on his arm. "I'll make trouble where I want." She can't seem to find any more words before he moves over to R'hyn, and stands for a moment in place, blinking a little dazedly. The two of them, standing with Ilysi lounging lazily behind them — her dragon. It takes a moment for the healer's brain to catch up, and she's not-quite running back over to the trio of them, and if they don't take quick action? Well, they're all going to go crashing into Ily, then. Because Citayla is throwing an arm around both necks, and using the leverage to yank herself up high enough for her own forehead kisses. She's not using Feeling Words, but this much outward affection she can manage, and — « Oh! » WHAM. Excited flapflaps and a wild chorus of discordant music, and Ily smacks her nose into all three foreheads. If they're all doing forehead kisses, she's in, and at least Xermi's head is big enough that it maybe doesn't hurt that much. The humans? Maybe not so much. Cita looks just a little more dazed. Clearly, a concussion is exactly what she needs.

This deeply amuses Xermiltoth, whose dazzling diamonds flicker, black and white, between her flickers of starlight, laughter winding just as deftly as stingrays through the nebulous miasma. « That's my girl. » Said of the sneezing, the cot-breaking, or the smack she delivers him? Unclear, maybe all. He's proud regardless, bunting her back gently with the bridge of his nose before lolling on his side in an easy recline. Or. Well. It was easy. One second the harlequinned bronze is contentedly watching his daughter, watching his riders watch his daughter, listening to R'hyn's comforting drawl for Ilysi's proclamation of hunger without really hearing the man's reply, and the next his whirling blue-green eyes are flooding with alarm, claws instinctively catching hard into the ground for a sudden flare of pain in his rider's mind. Xermiltoth had been distracted, and so had R'hyn, so focused on observing Ilyscaeth's awkward stretch that he'd failed to notice Citayla's incoming fling until it's too late! He stumbles right on into the poor little gold dragon, chuckling as one arm catches about Cita's side to keep her from falling too, or perhaps help hold her aloft for those returned forehead kisses. R'hyn's features scrunch dare-we-say-cutely for the gesture, all laugh lines and wrinkled nose, eyes pressed shut to enjoy the rare display of affection - and more's the pity. WHAM goes a dragon's nose and CRUNCH goes R'hyn's in response, Xermiltoth's concerned bugle rising under a sharp groan and sudden sideways stagger from the bronzer. "Fuuuck," gets said, thick and nasal, and ohp, R'hyn is tearing up again, but this time for a whole different reason as blood visibly leaks from under the press of his hand. "Fuck," he repeats because it bears said repeating, followed swiftly by, "well that was enough love and affection for one day. Faranth. I'm just gonna—" He pulls his hand away, confirms it's covered in blood (and already swelling, helloooo, future shiners), and promptly covers his face again. "Yeahp, I'm just gonna go see a healer now. Proud of you Cita. She's a beaut." And he doesn't even mean that sarcastically, though his rapidly-thickening tone might imply otherwise. Eyes scrunch over his hand in what might be a fragile attempt at a smile, reassuring, before he adds a stuffy, "Get her inside and get her some food. I'm fine." He's not. But again. Denial. Watery blue eyes find Ila, but R'hyn is fresh out of words, instead turning and staggering to the weyr and letting Xermiltoth do the rest for him. « HE SAYS TO MEET HIM HOME IF YOU DON'T WANT TO COME, MINE'S-MINE, » the bronze booms, forgetting himself in the moment. « HE ALSO REITERATES HE'S FINE. HE'S NOT. BUT HE IS. » Amusement pervades, even as he lowers his maw to whuffle against Ilysi's side, head turning to do the same to Citayla and Ila'den both before he strikes off after his rider's cheerful trail of blood at a trot.

Ila’den catches Cita around the side opposite R’hyn’s when she pounces, fingers curling to catch her hip and keep her steady as he rumbles more of that low, husky laughter and leans into the press of her lips against his forehead. There is an equal lack of attention on Ila’den’s part for young golds, though perhaps more luck on his side than is there for R’hyn (and Cita); the bunting from a dragon larger and stronger than what she probably realizes merely earns a gruff sound of discomfort from Ila’den, a WHOO-PAH of breath expelled when contact is made, and then - “Fuck.” Because if it bears repeating, it also bears reiterating from third-party lovers watching the not-quite-maiming of their weyrmate’s face. Or the aftermath, anyway. Grey eyes are at once on Ryn, though he gives his attention to Cita first by catching her face between his hands and pulling his gaze away from R’hyn to look at Cita’s eyes. “I’m no healer, Citayla. Are you okay?” Because his understanding of healing is vague impressions and probably wrong and shut up he was Search and Rescue but it was a long time ago. Regardless, Teimyrth is there for the interruption in a purely metaphysical sense, the usual tumult of stormy blizzard in his mind a quiet hush of calm and winter at rest. « Be still, Ilyscaeth. » It’s not an admonishment, nor even a reprimand. It’s just Teimyrth, reminding little gold babies that maybe they aren’t so little and sometimes cute heads hurt even if they’re really cute because people are not built like dragons. They are squishy. « Mine will join yours soon. » Teimyrth impresses upon Xermiltoth, the gentleness for golden babes absent before he withdraws. And Ila’den? Well, Ila’s going to make sure Cita’s okay first (even if R’hyn is the one bleeding), and then he’ll go and join R’hyn in the infirmary. But not before giving a gentle pat to Xermiltoth’s head as he goes, and not before he laughs even though he really shouldn’t be laughing.

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