What Big Teeth You Have

Half Moon Bay Weyr - Living Cavern
Here is the center of Weyr life, the living caverns. These two main rooms were man-shaped from smaller caves, and are joined by a carved arch with depictions of dragons in flight and dolphins leaping in swirling waves. One room has many round stone and wooden tables and a stone fire-pit instead of a hearth. Over the round-walled, gas fired pit is a large conical hood made of polished bronze, with reliefs of dragons with their riders flying over ships guided by dolphins. This hood and chimney keeps the room smoke-free. Through the archway is an enormous hall, with long tables and benches, some carved from the rock floor, many crafted of wood. This room is a combination dining and meeting hall, and can seat over 300 comfortably. Above both rooms, angled shafts lined with polished metal bring in sunlight during the day. Electric lights also burn, day and night.

Late evening finds Heryn in the living caverns and hogging a table all to himself, feet propped up on a chair and a book resting on his knees. A small plate of food rests next to him, along with a mug of klah (honestly, has ANYONE seen him drink anything other than liquor or caffeine?), but he picks at it idly at best, the slow, absent eating of someone who's thoroughly engrossed in whatever they're reading. It isn't clear whether he likes what he's finding in the text or not - blue-grey eyes are interested and avidly skimming, but brows are notched severely downwards - but eventually he pauses, a slice of redfruit held halfway between his plate and his mouth. "Huh." Quick, distract him before the wheels start turning!

And while Heryn SLACKS OFF and READS BOOKS, Ila'den arrives on the scene - because who /doesn't/ like a healthy dose of drama? Alas, Ila'den is not alone; in hand he has encompassed the fingers of a tiny girl, who looks shockingly similar to him. She's got a head full of curling black hair, and grey eyes that seem to take in all of her surroundings with the kind of curious, reverent awe only children can manage. She's talking with excited animation to the bronzerider, who is watching her with a gentle smile that seems /so/ out of place on the man Heryn is used to watching chase candidates and solicit unwanted kisses. Amid all of the tiny hand flinging, Ila'den's attention turns to scanning the caverns - and pause on Heryn. There's a surprising lack of animosity on the rider's part, given Heryn has decked him /twice/ without retaliation, but there's no timid attempt to look away or pretend he hasn't seen the candidate either. "That's all very interesting, Kio," comes that husky burr only then, as he blinks back down to his niece. His niece, who has stopped mid-sentence to /also/ fixate on Heryn with her jaw slack. There's a sudden 5-turn-old intake of breath, and then she's wiggling her grip free from Ila'den and taking one, two, three steps closer. Pause. She turns her attention back onto her uncle, peeping, "Uncle Ila. Can I marry him?" OH THE AMUSEMENT. OH, THE HORROR. Ila'den stifles his laughter as a smile fights for dominance on his face, not at all deterred by the fleetingly wicked glance for Heryn. "Well… I don't know. Why don't you go ask him?" AND SO IT BEGINS. Kio takes off in a mad dash of feet towards Heryn, slowing as she gets near, and then very, /very/ cautiously pulling herself up to sit beside the monstrous (in a /good/ way) bartender. She continues to stare, for much longer than is appropriate, while Ila'den slowly /meanders/ his way over. Kio tries to be polite by opening with: "I love you." AWESTRUCK. WITH AN EVIL LAUGHING UNCLE TO BOOT.

Alas, Heryn's spidey-senses for being eyeballed have been dulled by his time spent as a candidate - he entirely misses Ila'den's gentle smile for his niece and the ensuing conversation on whether or not she can marry him, though that's probably for the best. Instead he stares hard at the page before him, lips twitching off to one side as he thinks. Still holding the slice of fruit, he flicks out one pinky to carefully turn the page before finally eating the damn thing, still totally off in Heryn-land… right up until he hears the patter of tiny feet headed his way. Only then do blue-grey eyes lift, watching with high amusement as Kio levies herself up into the seat next to him as though she belonged there. "Well, hello," he says, scootching to make space, expression warming into something patient and kind and also wholly unlike the previous versions of the bartender that Ila's born witness to. The overlong staring doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest - what child doesn't stare at six and a quarter feet of muscle and tattoos, after all? - but it's the proclamation of love that gets him in the end. Heryn can only laugh, eyes scrunching up around the edges as he finally casts his gaze outwards, perhaps seeking a nanny or a parent, and only finding Ila'den of all people meandering their way. "Do you? Well, I'm flattered," is said with no shortage of humor, staying the course with a grin, though it perhaps turns a little cautious for Ila's cackling. That's entirely too much amusement from someone whose face he tried to rearrange last they met. "And what is your name, my lady?," he asks, setting his book aside and dropping his feet, freeing up the chair across from him if the bronzerider so chooses to take it.

PITY, THAT. When Heryn laughs and asks if she /does/ love him, her head starts to nod almost over-vigorously, threatening to send her toppling out of her chair if not for the fact that she's already bracing herself on the table. "Yes," she informs him, very matter of fact. It's his second word that has her scrunching up her nose in confusion, lips silently trying to recreate the word as Ila'den comes closer. Heryn's seeking and finding him (cautiously) only has the bronzerider's shoulders rising in a half-shrug without his smile faltering at all. There is zero caution in the way this man carries himself, especially given he is entering Heryn territory, where it's hunting season for wild Ila'dens ALWAYS. No, Ila'den walks much as he usually does: like he owns the damn place. And the foot-freed chair is grabbed, so that the former renegade who should not be /nearly/ as agile as he is can slip right into it. Kiorel's eyes are on her uncle then, whispering as if Heryn can't hear her, "Uncle Ila, what does… flatterening mean?" Grey eyes look mischievous as Ila'den brings his fingers together, and leans forward on the table so that he's close to his niece. "It' means he thinks you're pretty," he says back, and Kio /beams/ back up to the bartender, practically bouncing. "Thank you!" she chirps, unaware of her Uncle's white lies. When he asks for her name, the child straightens her back, raises her chin, and gives him an all-teeth kind of smile that exudes total innocence. "I am Kiorel!" And she doesn't bother asking for names. The girl tips forward in her seat, wraps tiny flailing arms around one of Heryn's (if he lets her OTHERWISE SHE'S GONNA FALL OUT OF HER CHAIR MAN, RUDE), and then she says, dramatically: "I am your /wife/." SMILE SMILE SMILE. Ila'den, on the other hand, is more interested in that book. Grey eyes study the discarded piece of reading material before he politely inquires, "What are you reading?" HE IS JUST TRYING TO MAKE ADULT SMALL-TALK, OKAY. He can't shatter his nieces dreams, man.

It's NOT ALWAYS Ila-season. There was that time Heryn let Ila'den go entirely scott-free; it's not his fault the man came back and tried it a second time. Still, the bartender snorts quietly for that whispered question and has to bite his lip to keep it from becoming a real laugh, his own gaze drifting up to watch the bronzerider slide into the seat across from them. Totally unfair, that agility. TOTALLY. Somehow, Heryn manages to school the laughter out of his features by the time Kiorel focuses that grin back on him, chin dipping in a nod. "You're very welcome," he says, feeding into the half-truth. "And it's lovely to meet you, Kiorel. I'm Heryn." The name is offered whether she asked for it or not, only too happy to surrender his arm to her flailing, and it's a good thing, too - having to help keep her upright is likely the only thing that keeps him from doubling over, either to hide or to laugh. Maybe both. As it is, he makes a strangled noise at the back of his throat, shoulders shaking with the massive effort it takes to stay upright as he responds with a surprisingly light, "Oh you are? Well, what am I doing as a candidate then? I cannot possibly stand if I'm married. Especially to someone as pretty as you." There is a touch of drama in the back of a hand pressed to his forehead somewhere in the middle of that speech, though the pointer finger of the same hand goes down to lightly tap the girl's nose for the last word. Blue-grey eyes fasten over on Ila'den, bright with amusement before he asks, "Where can I surrender my knot?" AND HIS HEART, SHE'S SO CUTE. Still, the over-the-top humor dims again for his question, gaze darting between book and bronzer and back before he says, "Documents of decisions made by weyrleadership in the last decade." You know. Light reading. PERFECTLY NORMAL!

IT IS ALWAYS ILA SEASON. And anyway, HERYN LIKED IT. SECRETLY. SOMEWHERE INSIDE. THAT DOESN'T EXIST. Kiorel is blissfully unaware of the amusement she is providing both men at the table, and seems only further enamored with Heryn when he gives his name, and surrenders his arm, and admits to being her husband. There's a blissful sigh, as if the child couldn't possibly be anywhere aside from cloud nine at this precise moment in time, and then she's giving him a dreamy sounding, "It's okay. You can do both, Rynryn." NICKNAMED. Over-the-moon eyes never leave Heryn's face, even as her little legs start to kick in the ample space she is afforded between seat and chair. Ila'den, on the other hand, is looking at his niece when Heryn asks him that question. The bronzerider makes a soft noise in his throat, as if in thought, and then releases a long-suffering sigh, stretching out his hand while playfully flexing his fingers. "There's no hope, candidate. You married my niece, you broke the rules… I'll take it for you." And then the amusement in Ila'den's face seems to dissipate for only a second when Heryn's telling him what he's reading, /actual/ curiosity on his brow as one lifts towards his hairline. "Why are you reading that?" he inquires, voice softer now, though non-threatening. He's well aware that some of his decisions will be in that book, but it's not exactly as if him being Weyrleader (or Weyrsecond) is some kind of dirty secret. Kio perks up at the mention of the book, and leans forward with her tongue caught in her teeth, curious as well. "Does it have pictures?" she asks, because that's what kids are /really/ interested in.

Heryn DID LIKE IT, in the confusing way somebody tries to pet a cat after it's already bitten and scratched the hell out of them; he didn't know why, but HE DID. Luckily, he doesn't get to dwell on it much, nose scrunching over a grin for his assignment of nickname. "That's very sweet of you, Kiki." What? Clearly, he gives as good as he gets! There goes a pat-pat for her curly black hair, though stormy blues are quick to drag from Kiorel to Ila'den for the man's soft noise. His own brow raises in a non-verbal 'what?' before the man issues a soft snort. "Yeah, yeah. This is all you're actually getting," the bartender drawls, carefully angling his wrist so that a rude single-digit gesture is hidden from Kio's eyes when he plops it onto Ila's awaiting palm. As for his choice in reading material, "Curiosity. You can tell a lot about a weyr based on the decisions it's made, the things it's enacted." Right. A 'weyr.' Though the answer is blase, there is truth in it, as well as the more serious look that he casts over the bits of bronzerider visible over the table before he points another good-natured smile down at Kiorel. "It sure does!" He tips the book over and opens it from the back, flicking through quite a few pages before coming to rest on a sketched portrait of a dragon with high headknobs and a wicked visage: Valigath. "Do you know that dragon?"

/Or/ the big bad wolf, in this case. WHAT BIG TEETH YOU HAVE. At the name 'Kiki', Kiorel actually starts to giggle, explaining, "Daddy calls Mommy Kiki sometimes, when they are -" Ila'den clears his throat abruptly, with a firm warning of, "Kio…" for the child who looks suddenly chastised. She doesn't seem to understand why, confusion evident seconds before tears are springing up in those hazy hues. "But, uncle… I was just…" Her tiny voice is /SO SAD AND CUTE/. Ila'den feels the tug on his heartstrings (HA LIKE HE HAS ONE), and immediately softens his tone for explanation. "Heryn doesn't need to know everything, baby. Some things, I think your Mama wants kept secret. You don't want to hurt her feelings, do you?" Kiorel sniffles, and then shakes her head, but drops her head into her arms on the table anyway - just for a moment, to recover. So back to Ila'den and Heryn, HERYN WHO IS RUDE, and giving middle fingers, which leaves Ila'den with another raised brow, seconds before there's a positively /devilish/ smile taking root. "Is that a promise?" he inquires, timber low and husky, burr curling every syllable like a caress; clearly Ila's returning tit for tat. As for the blasé response, Ila'den's brow raises before he states a very matter of fact: "You mean me. Does it surprise you, that I was Weyrleader?" There's no challenge in his tone, or anger, or anything one might expect. Kio, on the other hand, is looking decidedly recovered when the book is extended and pictures are revealed. There's a little 'o' of wonder on her lips, and then she gives Heryn a /brilliant/ little smile, wiping away at lingering tears as she nods her head. "That is ValVal," she says, almost reverent in her awe. "She is a… mama calls them /queen/. Uncle's dragon is her daddy." She is bouncing excitedly; /this/ is history she knows. "Are /you/ gonna fly on a queen, Rynryn?" she inquires, because the gender assignment of colors has not been impressed upon her yet.

Ila'den isn't the only one with heartstrings a'twanging; Heryn maintains his silence through the chastisement, fist coming up in front of his mouth to hold back the temptation to smile, but he does give the girl's shoulder a gentle pat when her head goes down to the table to bury a few sniffles. "I'm sorry for getting you in trouble. I'll stick with Kio from now on," he says, oh-so-skillfully keeping amusement out of his tone before he darts a glance up at Ila'den and hoboy, was that a mistake. A sane person might take one look at that fiendish grin and run, but, well… He's never really been known for his sanity, our Heryn. "Would you like it to be?," he purrs right back, matching tone for tone. Just call him Little Red Riding Hood. A crooked little smirk lingers when the bronzerider cuts through the bullshit, one shoulder lifting in a shrug. "Polite people might use the term 'flabbergasted,'" he says by means of response, looking for a second as though that might be it before he adds, "Hence the research." Curious, then, that he chose a book - and an official history text besides - instead of asking questions. "And now I'm less so." Surprised, he means, even as he shifts his tone back to cheerfully overfriendly as he 'mmhmm's for Kiorel's identification of the gold. "Good job! Your momma's right, she is a queen - a very scary queen that deserves our respect!," he drawls, affecting claws in the air for the 'scary' part. There is a brilliant grin for her innocent question, and a wry, "I wish! I would make an excellent weyrwoman." Oh, the jokes that could be made. "Alas, I don't think so. I think I would like a boy dragon better anyways." More pages are flicked, back and back before, speaking of her uncle's dragon, there's Teimyrth, in all of his black-metallic glory. "And this one?"

"It's okay," is Kio's muffled reply. "It's not your fault." But she needs those few moments regardless. Heryn's retaliation is not met with confusion, or even a moment's hesitance as Ila'den purrs, "Once you're not a candidate." His tone is husky, demanding, conjuring up suggestive motives in cadence and that thickening burr. If he's mocking - or joking - he doesn't reveal any such inclination when they're back to the conversation at hand. Amusement is suddenly back in the brow that raises at the use of 'flabbergasted', then Ila'den's actually /laughing/. It's not the kind of laugh that is mocking, or mean, or anything short of making it clear that Ila'den actually finds Heryn /funny/ - albeit unintended on the bartender's part. "You could have just asked," Ila'den finally inserts, once he's managed to catch his breath again. "I could have told you all about it. /And/ my exploits as Weyrsecond too. Ah, Zi'on… There was a good man." The bronzerider is reminisce of the old days, looking inexplicably younger and less rough around the edges. But the lurking darkness slowly makes its way back home, ruining the edges of his smile so that it's taking on a hint of his usual cynicism. And then there's Kio, to save the day, talking about queens, and asking if Heryn can /fly/ queens, and looking thoroughly amused at the thought of her dear hubby being a weyr/woman/. "You can't be a weyrwoman," she giggles, as if she /also/ finds him funny. "You are not a lady." And then she's leaning back in close to Heryn, resting against him with her feet kicking again as he turns to the next page. « ME. » Teimyrth's invasion into Heryn's mind is sudden, and it's not the gentle, warm and cozy presence of most dragons. Teimyrth's mindvoice is the feel of claws rending flesh, ripping away muscle and sinking into bone while the biting cold of winter sinks in, halting lungs and freezing thought until, just as abruptly, he's gone. There's likely to be a brain-freeze left for Heryn to mentally sludge through, but the linger after effects give the impression of a cozy fire burning somewhere in the distance, smelling of pine and burning wood. Ila'den's aware of his lifemate's invasion, though it shows in the way he straightens instead of any emotional indicator on his face. Kio, clueless, happily carries on: "That is Teimyrth!" And then the child is up and out of her chair, arms extended like wingsails at her sides as she runs in a circle around the table and the two men. "He is big-big-big! With big teeth!" She's swooping in on Heryn with a 'ferocious' little roar, and then pressing her stomach back into her chair, kicking her legs with another one of those winning smiles. "He likes to collect kitty cats," she informs him. "Uncle has /lots/ of them." Beam. "Do you have a dragon?"

"And should I impress?" Heryn is equally quick with the riposte, smirk going sharp around the edges, blue-grey gaze darkening by fractions as he sweeps it over Ila again. Slowly. Pointedly. Undressingly. "Are you a very patient sort, Ila'den?" His eyebrow flicks so quickly it might be missed, especially when the bronzerider meets his reply with laughter. Heryn is politely puzzled for a moment, brows knitting as though maybe that had never occurred to him. He doesn't answer at first, even though his mouth opens, instead inhaling and exhaling quietly when the edges of the man's smile go brittle. Heryn's gaze says everything: that's why. Still, "I'll remember that, if I get curious again. No take-backsies." It's said with something that might be a real smile, eyes twinkling before he glances down at Kiorel. "Well, I guess you have your answer then." The 'n' noise drags on a bit longer than he anticipates or realizes before fading away on a rough exhale, Heryn's expression totally blanking for that sudden mental onslaught. It stays that way well after the scent of smoke fades, the carefully-empty, totally-controlled sort of blankness that suggests a whole lot more than brain-freeze is going on inside Heryn's head. When he can breathe again, it's steady and shallow, carefully regulated before, finally, he blinks. His gaze lifts back up to Ila'den as Kiorel gets up to runs about the table, staring at him long and hard, something quite a lot like fear lingering in visibly in the recesses of the younger man's eyes. Old fear. Past fear. Not-here fear. Enough. Blue-grey eyes jerk away with a shudder and a roll of his shoulders, but it's enough that the bartender is shaken. He can't quite get back to full amusement for Kiorel's sake, even in the face of that roar, instead snapping the book shut on Teimyrth's image with a fractured, crooked smile. "Kitty cats, huh? Funny, the book doesn't mention those." His head shakes in response to her question. "Not yet, no." And maybe not ever, a variety of doubts causing his brow to knit and stay that way, though they go unvoiced for now.

"When you're not a weyrling, then," Ila'den amends, that huskiness knotting into what could be perceived as a half-serious challenge; whether or not Ila is /really/ offering up his body to the bartender across the way is in the air: Ila'den is hardly, if ever, serious. And the undressing with eyes is met with a smile that's entirely too sultry to be /allowed/ when directed at candidates, returned, favorably, before he's rolling his shoulders. "I have a lot of secrets, Heryn, but being in command was never one of them." THERE IS ALSO SOMETHING SUGGESTIVE ABOUT THE WAY HE SAYS 'COMMAND'. COME ON, ILA. KEEP IT PG. But, the real smile is returned with one of Ila'den's own, and the lack of hardened cynicism somehow makes it slightly brilliant. But then Kiorel is looking thoroughly schooled, gasping at Ila'den through her fingers while saying, "Only /girls/ can ride queens." It's a question, lilting up at the very end, but also a statement: Ila'den nods his confirmation regardless. AND THEN TOOTHY BRONZE DRAGONS ARE RUINING THE MOOD WITH THEIR TOOTHINESS, and Ila'den's actually watching the fleeting fear, taking in the shudder, and Ila'den even has the tact to look somewhat remorseful. "I don't know why he did that," the bronzerider offers softly. "He doesn't usually touch people's minds; he doesn't like them. He hardly even talks to other dragons." Brows furrow, and then his vision looses focus momentarily while Heryn tends to Kio. She is empathetic, this one, and picks up on the change of mood instantly. One little hand reaches out to touch the candidate's muscled arm, and then the wee lass is scrambling to her feet and flinging herself bodily at the much older man. She hugs herself tight against him, cheek pressing into his shoulder as she gently, gently, pats his cheek with one opened hand. "It's okay," she says softly, misunderstanding /why/ Heryn's not as cheerful. "I am sure you will get a dragon. I love you." Soothe, soothe. Ila'den's slowly coming back into focus, exhaling as if irritated, and then clearing his throat. "For what it's worth, he said he'll give you a cat." BECAUSE THAT IS A TEIMYRTH APOLOGY IF EVER THERE WAS ONE. Fingers drum on the table, as if Ila'den is trying to think of a fitting distraction, and then there's a slightly awkward, "If you had any questions now I could answer them?" HE IS TRYING OKAY. GIVE THE MAN CREDIT.

"Deal." Heryn seizes upon the concession immediately, the pleased flare behind his eyes reading loud and clear: no take-backsies on that, either. He… might be joking? Or maybe not… "Like I said," he continues, carefully enunciated words dripping with lewd implications around the sort of slow, lazy grin that speaks volumes about Heryn's feelings on Ila'den being in command, "The more I learn, the less surprised I am." And then things go tits up in a huge way, AS THEY ARE WONT TO DO when these two are around each other one way or another; can't they EVER just have a good time? Heryn glances back towards Ila'den for his somewhat remorseful remarks, offering a small upwards twitch of his lips, an expression that doesn't quite reach his eyes. "I feel so special." He doesn't try to analyze the mental invasion beyond that, however - Kiorel has distracted him too soundly, the bartender emitting a soft 'oof' when the five-turn-old flings herself at him. Surprise registers on his features, followed swiftly by a smile that manages to be real, grateful even, as he exhales sharply through his nose in a single huff of a laugh. "Thank you, Kio. I'm sure you're right." Heryn hugs her back briefly, offering her little shoulder a soft pat-pat before peering over at the bronzerider for that throat-clearing. The bartender issues a soft snort and a shake of his head, but he doesn't answer either offer immediately. Instead, he shifts so one arm holds Kio tight, the other gathering up his book as he makes to stand. "But for now, my lady, I must be going. Gotta work hard to get that dragon, you know," he says, walking around the table hand the girl off to Ila'den. Blue-grey eyes linger on the bronzerider himself for a moment, considering words before he speaks them. "I don't need a cat," though if one showed up, it would be cared for, "and I don't need your pity questions." He's teasing as he says it, gaze still a little wary, though his eyes actually scrunch up with a smile this time. He could give credit for trying when it was due. "I will come to you next time I'm curious, though. There were plenty of shenanigans I'm sure the author tactfully left out." Another pause, and then, a bit awkwardly: "But thank you just the same." A shoulder-squeeze is offered if it isn't dodged, the gesture brief as he passes by and moves deeper into the cavern towards the barracks beyond.

Heryn's /eyes/ might say it, but Ila'den actually vocalizes it, turning Heryn's earlier words back against him: "No take-backsies." It's absolutely sinful the way his burr can turn those words into something so debauch, but of course. THEY CAN'T HAVE FUN. OR GET ALONG. OR ANYTHING NORMAL BECAUSE TEIMYRTH (and Ila) is just /so/ volatile. Ila'den doesn't try to sooth Heryn any further: he can't. Reprimanding his dragon has already been done, and the bronze isn't going to invade again to apologize - that would be counter-productive! But alas, Kio saves the day, and whispers, "I am always right. Mama says it's because I'm a girl," to Heryn. She holds on to the man's shirt (THERE IS ONE THERE FOR ONCE, GASP. I THINK. I AM ASSUMING.) by balling portions of the fabric up in her tiny fists, and she lets out a squeal of delight as he picks her up. The excitement is followed by a pout as she is handed off to her uncle, who takes her with alarming gentleness and a ruffle of her hair. "Hi, baby." Kio wrinkles her nose, and then hugs Ila'den tight around his neck. The bronzerider makes no move to remove her. Instead, his attention is drawn back to Heryn as the man makes it clear that he doesn't need a cat, /or/ Ila'den's pity questions. The playfulness is registered, and Ila'den actually smiles around a huff of laughter despite Heryn's wariness. "Plenty of shenanigans," he confirms, adding, "Zi'on and I were known for being pranksters. I'm sure we were referred to as tyrants more often than not." And Ila'den /may/ have been the bane of a certain bronzerider's existence - mostly because he liked to pet his manfur and make Zi'on get all kinds of angry all the time. Good times. When his shoulder is squeezed, Ila'den claps his hand on the candidate's forearm for a companionable squeeze, and then he lets go just as quickly. "I'm not as scary as you think," he says, followed by a softer, "you're welcome." And then Heryn is gone, and Kio is there, and the bronzerider is wiping a smudge of something from her nose. "Alright, little bird. Let's get you fed and back to your mama. I'm sure your twin brother misses you." And he's off to the serving tables. WHAT A DAY! Also, Heryn is /totally/ going to find a kitten the next day. THE CUTEST KITTEN. OF CUTE.

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