Who: Imogen, Kenzie, T'lus, K'rin, R'ger When: Two weeks after K'rin's demotion Where: Candidate barracks, Kenzie's quarters, Werybowl, K'rin's weyr Summary: A green rises, Shielth chases. Imogen finally snaps under the stress of the teasing and has a bit of an anxiety attack over her relationship with R'ger. Kenzie is basically the best BFF ever.
Imogen was helping a wingrider of the Fourth scrub his blue when she heard the angry shriek of a dragon and a squeal from the killing grounds of the Weyr. The blue, Ninith, raised his head and warbled questioningly towards the grounds before raising his wings, showering her and his rider with water as he waddled out of the way and took wing, bugling an answer to the green’s shrieks of challenge. Imogen pressed her lips together and took a hasty step back to avoid being run over by the man she’d been having a nice conversation with three minutes before. His eyes as he passed her were already starting to look a bit frantic.
She shook her head at him and turned her head to see who would give chase. Most of the dragons of the Fourth were there-they had just finished a long series of drills-and had their heads turned towards the green. The majority turned back to wallowing in the cool lake, but a few were interested enough to try their strength and speed. She noticed a movement to her left and her eyes went wide. Shielth? The bronze was rumbling and waddling out of the lake, flapping to dry his wings quickly. R’ger spared her a torn look and stumbled after his dragon, aiming towards the growing cluster of riders across the meadow.
Imogen stared, confused. Well, not confused, but perhaps surprised and most definitely dismayed. Shielth was going to give chase? Bronzes did not always follow the greens, she knew this. And she hadn’t expected Shielth to show any interest. She had been naïve, she admitted sourly. Of course the dragon would fly females and R’ger would fall into bed with their riders. She knew that, but she’d refused to absorb it until now. She understood the Weyr way, but she’d never been in a relationship in this setting. She didn’t realize she’d started to follow after the bronze rider until B’nilen, a green rider in R’ger’s wing, blocked her path and grabbed her shoulders, shaking her out of her thoughts. “Come on, Jaduth could use more scrubbing. There’s no stopping them now.”
She nodded meekly and set to work on Jaduth’s brilliant hide, too caught up in her own head to realize that the green needed no cleaning. B’nilen was distracting her, and later she would be grateful to him for that. She paused to watch the proddy green lauch quickly, outpacing her suitors by several lengths before they even left the ground. Jaduth twisted her head around under her wing to nudge at Gen's torso. Apologetically she resumed scrubbing coarse sand firmly into the hide and firmly put the flight out of her mind.
Dusk was setting when she’d finally finished working with the riders. She’d assisted one other green and the brown that was R’ger’s wingsecond. She didn’t have time to notice R’ger’s continued absence; the wingsecond was ridiculously strict and did more hanging over her shoulder and directing her than actual cleaning himself. She had to wonder why he'd ordered her to help at all if he didn’t trust her to do a satisfactory job. Finally, though, it was time to go back to the barracks. The drills had run late, the bathing had taken the remainder of the daylight, and she was famished and eager to scrub herself clean after washing away such a large amount of firestone stench and shoveling away a younger dragon’s accidental disgorging of his second stomach. Firestone ash reeked.
She scrubbed and changed into a fresh tunic and light skirt. Something R’ger had bought her at the gather that flared as she turned. The necklace he’d bought had yet to leave her body. Faranth knew whether she’d find it again if she left it at her cot, and she wanted to keep it safe. She bundled her hair into a knot at the back of her head and smoothed her skirt down.
A candidate passed her area and backed up, peering in. She stiffened and leveled a glare at the boy. He was one of the worst of her bullies and it was largely his fault that most of the others avoided any long conversation with her. It just wasn’t worth bringing his harassment down on their own heads. Gen would be seriously shocked if the brat Impressed.
“Heard your bronze rider won,” he taunted, grinning widely at her. “Definitely saves money, his dragon being randy enough to chase a green. With all the gifts he gives you I would have thought you would be doing more to keep him satisfied.”
She reacted instinctively, grabbing the nearest object and hurling it at the older boy’s head. He ducked and whirled around to look at the ground behind him. Lyrra’s early work, her first gift from her cousin, lay shattered where it had smashed against the wall. “Don’t think this won’t be reported,” he called as he moved down the hall.
Gen stood and stared at the glass, colors shining on the ground against the glow lights. Her eyes began to heat and she cleared her throat to stem the flow of tears. Tears would only make him happy, and they were weak. She knew what she was getting into, even if she hadn’t really been thinking about it too deeply.
She was out the door of the barracks and heading towards Kenzie’s room across the bowl before she had formed a proper plan. Imogen hesitated only a moment before reaching up to rap her knuckles lightly but insistently against the door. She needed her best friend to whap some sense into her head, to break her out of this funk. Kenzie was tired. It had been a long day. There were no hurt weyrlings, which was nice, but she was pretty sure she had been assigned the world's least helpful apprentice as punishment for... something. Maybe she had forgotten about something horrible that she had done, and she was just getting her comeuppance for it now. Maybe she hadn't done the horrible thing yet, and the ways of the world had just gotten wise to her, and they were paying her back for it in advance because they knew how sneaky and smart she was.
Yeah. That could be it.
Anyway, her not-very-helpful-very-prone-to-breaking-things apprentice had done a lot of breaking things and misfiling things and hurting people who he was supposed to be helping, and Kenzie had done a lot of extra work as a result. And then she'd just... gone back to her room. K'rin was still not in the best of moods; she couldn't even blame him. She just didn't know what to do for him. She wanted to comfort him, but he didn't seem to want her around. Maybe being moved to A'ver's wing was just too much stress for him. Maybe it was like being a weyrling, with D'kai... maybe it was just too much weight for their new relationship to bear.
The knock at her door made her narrow her eyes. For a moment, she considered not getting up at all. She had managed to change her clothes, moving from her purple work-outfit into a more comfortable skirt and a tunic, but then she had just sprawled on her cot. After that moment passed, though, she sighed and got to her feet, moving over to unbolt and pull the door open.
"Look, unless someone is dying, I'll just deal with it in the morn—Gen." The blonde blinked, and then frowned. "Your eyes are red. Why are your eyes red. What happened?" Reaching out, she grabbed her best friend's hand and pulled her inside, pushing the door shut. Whatever had happened, of course, Kenzie had already decided she would take care of it. It was Imogen, and maybe they didn't get to spend as much time together as either of them would have liked, but if something was wrong, it was going to be handled. Imogen sniffed. “I broke one of Lyrra’s glass presents from when she was starting and I think I might be in trouble with the candidatemaster for throwing it at a boy and a green rose to mate and Shielth followed,” she blurted, rubbing her hand messily under her nose. She wasn’t really prone to crying, surprisingly enough, but if she could break down anywhere it was with her best friend. “I haven’t seen R’ger since he left to join the other riders and I’m so tired of the snide comments from the other candidates.” She plopped down on Kenzie’s cot and folded her hands together in her lap, shifting immediately to draw her legs up and wrap her arms around them, resting her chin on her knees.
She blinked hard and rolled her eyes up to track Kenzie across the room. “I know it’s stupid. Dragons rise, they mate, so do their riders. I know this, I’ve been here long enough to understand. And I should be happy Shielth will chase a green because there’s no way that gold is going to look my way when she hatches,” she scoffed. “But I feel like the hold-bred me is trying to strangle the happy Weyr resident-me.” Kenzie blinked again. And then again. And then she frowned more deeply, turning to watch the other girl move to curl up on her cot. Okay, so, that was sort of a lot. "Right. So let's break this down and prioritize, because some of this we can deal with tonight. Right now. And some of this is going to take longer to deal with, because you're right – dragons rise and mate, and riders are going to do what they do, and there's not one single thing you and I can do about that."
Crossing the room, Kenzie slipped her shoes on, simple flat shoes, and then held her hand out and pulled the other girl to her feet. "First things. Come with me, and let's go talk to one of the candidatemasters. You just let me be my normal fussy self and agree with everything I say, do you hear? You're not going to be in trouble, and you're staying with me for at least tonight, maybe two nights if I can get away with it, and if these stupid candidate boys keep it up I'm going to have R'ger come down here and tan their sharding hides for them."
Kenzie, of course, was already pulling Imogen briskly along with her, dead set on the list of goals that she had in her head. She would talk to one of the ACMs, or the CM himself if he was available to listen to her bossy fussing about the way her friend was being bullied by the boys. And as a healer with journeyman knots, she was a little harder to ignore. She would demand permission to take Imogen away from all the upsetting torment for the next couple of days (along with the prettier of her gifts, so they didn't disappear.) Imogen wanted to protest but she was too busy trying not to trip. She was taller than her friend but the blonde was moving at an alarming rate. She didn’t know what could come of this meeting. A night or two at Kenzie’s yes, but would she lose the respect the CM had for her? Would the bullying be better or worse? She liked the CM. Unlike the weyrlingmaster, he worked hard and enjoyed his duties. She didn’t want to cause trouble for him.
She automatically straightened her spine and threw back her shoulders when they entered the barracks. This was not where she wanted to be. She’d left this place for a reason and hadn’t expected her dear friend to force her back so soon. Kenzie kept pulling her along and knocked on the office door, barely managing to wait for a voice on the other side before pushing the heavy wood open and dragging her through.
T’lus looked up from a report, mildly startled. Girls did not barge into his office often, and though he knew Kenzie’s reputation well he could think of nothing he’d done recently that might warrant that look she had on her face being directed his way. His eyes turned to Imogen, took in her red eyes and nose and his own expression hardened. He’d heard of her attack on Unilik already, and hadn’t bothered putting forth the effort to track her down. Unilik was a troublesome charge and despite his duties he felt no need to jump to this investigation. “What happened?” he asked firmly, softening his tone when he caught the slight twitch his candidate gave. “Sit down, start from the beginning.” Kenzie did not sit, but released Imogen's hand long enough to spin her neatly into the chair in front of T'lus' desk. It didn't matter that Imogen was bigger than her; she had the advantage of leverage and keeping Gen off-guard. Honestly, the other girl hadn't argued up until this point, and Kenzie had no intention of letting her begin now. Although she was bossy and fussy and did have a reputation for being troublesome when worked up, she actually liked what Imogen had told her about the Candidatemaster. He seemed to be a fair man, and she expected that he would handle her complaint, and her request, fairly as well.
And if he didn't, then she knew R'ger wouldn't take kindly to the way his girl was being treated. Some things bronzers could be counted on for, no matter how sweetly-tempered they were generally.
"The beginning-beginning, or tonight's beginning, Candidatemaster T'lus? The treatment that has Imogen upset this evening has been escalating for weeks, at this point, and is reaching a head. I realize that all candidates can expect to toughen up to a certain level, but this is ridiculous. Being accosted at her cot, being harassed for her friendship with a ranking rider, being made to feel threatened and unwelcome in the barracks to the point that she's forced to actually defend herself... this boy should be punished, sir. Imogen should never have to run to my quarters just to feel safe." T’lus suppressed a sigh and nodded to Imogen. “Which boy?” He waited, narrowed his eyes when there was no response, and tried a different tact. “I’m certain I know who it is because I already have a report from him about your throwing skills. I need details, Imogen, or I cannot help you. Tell me about the harassment and what happened today.”
Gen bit her lip and dropped her gaze, unable to meet T’lus’. “Unilik, sir. And a few others. They,” she paused and glanced up at Kenzie, who didn’t look like she was going to let her out of the office anytime soon. “I’ve been speaking with weyrlingmaster-well. Ah, with K’rin,” she sighed. Another unhappy subject. She could tell from the set of T’lus’ mouth that he wasn’t keen on the change in the weyrling trainers. “And with R’ger. There are plenty of rumors about special treatment.” A massively understated summary, but she didn’t want to get into the details here. Not with him. “And Shielth rose to fly a green today and Unilik was so smug,” she bit out, voice finally gaining some fire. “I reacted badly.”
T’lus settled back in his chair, not completely satisfied with the summary but unwilling to press her. She was upset enough and he had a name, there was no reason to make this worse. Not tonight at any rate. “I will deal with him. He’s stood several times and has only grown more sour with age, I do not see him making it a-dragonback this next hatching. Perhaps his candidacy should be reviewed.” He tilted his head. “Perhaps we should run all of the seasoned candidates through the more sensitive dragons again, for that matter. It wouldn’t be a bad practice to adopt.”
He leaned forward then to emphasize his words. “I am aware of your relationship and see no reason to fault you. R’ger is honest to a fault and you are not prone to gossip or conniving. K’rin is no issue at all in this matter anymore, as he has been moved. Should he return to his post-and between us, I sincerely hope that is before you Impress-he will be too worried trying to keep the dimglow new riders from overtaxing their beasts to give you any special treatment.” Kenzie had to bite the inside of her lip to keep from wincing when T'lus mentioned her blue rider being moved. Ugh, it was horrible that everyone knew. Horrible, and unavoidable. At least the candidatemaster was of the right opinion, that the weyrlingmaster should be reinstated before the next batch of weyrlings came along. Again, the blonde's heart began to ache dully. Again, she dismissed it briskly. Gen needed her. She could wallow later and mourn for what might be another failed relationship.
Faranth. If it was, she was never dating another blue rider ever, ever again.
"Thank you, sir. K'rin and R'ger are both very good men, and both of them would be very upset if they knew how Gen was being treated by these boys. I don't want to be the healer to tell them, personally." She laid a protective hand on her friend's shoulder. "But for tonight, I don't think she should stay here. She's upset, and it's getting late. Can Imogen come with me? She can rest very comfortably in my quarters, and I would dare any smug candidate boy to gossip about me." The plucky little blonde twisted her lips in a smirk. "I can collect her night-things myself, to make sure there's no mistake as to who she's with." T’lus considered for a moment and nodded. “I think it might be wise to take a breath, yes. You will report to the Fourth as you usually do, Imogen. There will be no excuses from work, flight or no flight.” Riders did not have time to wallow and he didn’t want her to pick up the habit. She’d never shirked her duties before. “And I am not pulling you back from that detail. Flight or no flight, teasing or no teasing, you will get through this.” It sounded like both reassurance and an order. He waved them off, relaxing his posture. “Go, collect your things, find me in the morning before you see R’ger for your daily duties.” He nodded to Kenzie. “Unless you are unable to, and I will leave that decision in your hands, Journeywoman. I will not tolerate slacking off, but I am not unreasonable. Go.”
Imogen all but shot from her seat, taking a moment to push it in again and mutter a slurred thank you to the candidatemaster before brushing past Kenzie and out the door. She led the way to her cot and stood aside while her friend emptied everything she could into a pillowcase. Her eyes fell on the glass and she crouched, carefully beginning to pick the rainbow pieces up and drop them into a cupped palm. She didn’t know how she was going to explain this to Lyrra, she knew her cousin had worked hard and been proud of achieving such a multi-colored piece. The healer nodded curtly, pleased with T'lus and his response to their appearance in his office. Obviously Gen hadn't been letting anyone important know about everything that had been going on. Even she had only heard bits and pieces about the teasing; Kenzie knew that it had been irritating, but her friend hadn't really been upset about it until tonight. And that had been enough for Kenzie, of course. Imogen was just too nice to let anyone bully her. She was too good for that, especially when it could be handled so expediently.
Speaking of expedient. The blonde thought Gen was going to plow right through her coming out of the chair, and all she could do was follow her on quick feet to the cot that she remembered. There, she got busy gathering up what she could. Luckily, she was pretty good at quick packing, and at jamming a bunch of things into a little package. Her eyes could pick out the things that R'ger had bought Gen pretty quickly; blankets, clothes, and so forth. They all went into the pillowcase, folded down to be small and compact and easy to carry with the healer's nimble hands. The only time she paused was when she saw Gen moving from the corner of her eye – gathering up the glass.
Frowning, Kenzie laid the pillowcase on the cot and moved over, gently taking the rainbow shards out of Imogen's cupped hand. "Lyrra will understand. You know she will. I remember when she made this one, too. She would be pleased that you put it to such good use. Come on, we'll take the pieces. Maybe she can remake them into something else for you." Imogen nodded and finished gathering the slivers she could pick up, tucking her cupped hand against her stomach protectively and blinking at the tiny bits she hadn’t been able to gather up. She grabbed the tunic she’d been wearing earlier-had that really been not even an hour ago?-to help wash dragons and soak harnesses to loosen the smell from them and tossed it over the glass to keep anyone from injuring themselves. Kenzie marched her out of her little alcove and past curious stares and all the way back to her room in the lower caverns, where the pillowcase was set softly and respectfully down on the cot and a cup handed to her. She loosened her fingers to let the glass fall into it and set it carefully down on Kenzie’s small work table.
“I’m sorry. This has been a long two weeks for you.” Gen reclaimed her seat on the bed and drug the pillowcase towards her to inspect what Kenzie had packed. She withdrew the cheerful yellow blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders, relieved that it had come with her. She didn’t know whether it was a testament to Kenzie’s packing skills or her lack of material trinkets that the thing had fit with all of her other belongings in such a small sack. R’ger had made sure her space no longer looked as if she’d just moved in, and new things were presented almost daily. It made her worry over how much he’d really spent.
She shook her head. “What happened? We were all so happy a few weeks ago at the gather. Then the teasing started and that blasted Fall happened. And today.” She shrugged helplessly. “It’s such an ordinary thing, a greenflight, but I panicked. What if I don’t Impress? I’ll never experience that with him. And what if I do but Shielth shows no interest? What if R’ger loses interest? He’s given me so much but we haven’t…you know. Not yet. And he’s got no lack of suitors.” She traced the embroidered edge of the light blanket. “I feel like a child weighing him down. There’s been talk about Valiath’s next flight.” Kenzie's chin-up march was just as much for the stupid, goggle-eyed candidates that peeked out to stare at them as much as it was for Imogen herself. They needed to know where the girl would be; and they needed to know what the little blonde cyclone looked like, because when she bore down on them for harassing her friend the next time, she would be in an all-fired fury. There wouldn't be any polite stops at the CM's office, just her small blonde fists laying into whoever had dared hurt her best friend.
Maybe if she was feeling generous, she'd even bring a poultice with her for the bruises she gave them.
By the time they had reached her room again, located convenient to the infirmary as it was, her anger had cooled. Kenzie had more of a plan, by that point. "Don't be sorry," she scolded, helping settle Gen's things while the other girl settled herself down on the cot. Lyrra's glass shards went on her desk, where they would be safe in their cup. It took a few minutes to find everything a temporary home; she didn't want to leave Gen's things in the pillowcase, where some of them might get hurt, but she didn't want anything to get forgotten either. So she cleared off one of her own small shelves, and filled it with Gen's things. The perfume bottle she'd carefully tucked into the sack, and all manner of other things that R'ger had bought her from the gather as well as Lyrra's gifts to her.
There was no sense in leaving the important things behind to be picked at while she was gone.
"We're all still happy," the blonde insisted, flopping down on her bed when she was done. "Teasing and Fall and all the mess aside, we're still happy. Dragons fly, Gen. You know that. Shielth is probably just getting back into practice for when you Impress. But you know where R'ger's heart is. I haven't even seen him look at another girl... ever. Not ever." Kenzie reached out and flipped the edge of the blanket that Gen was clinging to. "Much less shower them with gifts and attention. He dressed up for you. And if...when Valiath flies, we should all hope that Shielth chases. And that he wins. R'ger would make an amazing Weyrleader, Imogen. Wouldn't he? He's the best bronze rider we know."
Standing, Kenzie brushed off her skirts and moved for the door. "But that doesn't change anything. Dragons fly. At least you have one. You're going to Impress, and then Shielth can catch your green every time if you like. I hope he does, because I'm not doing this with R'ger. Sit there and don't move. I'll be back."
And just like that, she left, leaving Imogen alone in her bedroom. Imogen stared at the closed door, brows furrowed. That was certainly brisk and she hadn’t expected her friend to leave, but a bit of time to absorb Kenzie’s words was probably a good thing. She knew the healer was right. And R’ger would make a fantastic Weyrleader, but then where would that leave her? Even if he did seem interested in her now she couldn’t help but feel that running a Weyr would be a strain to their relationship, especially if she Impressed. She thought she would, there was no reason for her not to, and she'd be locked away for at least a few months.
She would still see him though. If he were Weyrleader he would visit the class, they would have their moment to touch base and smile at one another.
R'ger had never looked at a girl? She found that hard to believe. Just because Kenzie hadn't seen it didn't mean it didn't happen from tiem to time, but she was willing to convert to Kenzie’s way of thinking. Her mother had always said that relationships were work. She hadn’t known what that really meant until now. She would definitely need to have a talk with the bronze rider about their relationship.
What fun that would be.
She stared at her clustered belongings on the shelf and rose, taking the fragrance down and running light fingers over the glass bottle. She heard the door behind her and twisted her torso to watch Kenzie slip back inside, something clutched in each hand. “What is that?” Getting back was more of a challenge than Kenzie had really considered, but she managed. Granted, not particularly gracefully, but... whatever. She got back into her room, clutching a heavy skin of wine in each hand, juggling one more hugged against her chest, and grinning widely at Imogen. "This? Good mood in a... flask, I guess. You remember when I was flirting with that baker? I made really good friends with all the kitchen ladies, and sometimes if I need a really big favor and I pass them a little bit of a mark, then..."
She had sort of been saving this for K'rin, but he still didn't want much to do with her, so. Whatever again. She and Imogen could use the pick-me-up. Grabbing two cups from her desk, she wrangled all three flasks of wine and the cups to her cot, tossing them all down and looking very proud of herself.
"I'll pour. Were you listening to me? I hope you were. Honestly, Gen. This is not the worst thing ever. I mean it isn't great. But tomorrow R'ger's going to be looking for you and all sorry and sweet and it's going to be perfect. And then he's going to crack the skull of that snotty candidate, and — here, hold this." Kenzie handed her a cup, popped the cork on the wine, and filled it right to the top. "This one too. And everything will be just right again. They said this one was really fruity. I hate dry wine. It's just... blah. Okay, are you ready? We'll drink together this time, a toast. To us! And the giant mess we make of everything, and all the fun we have doing it." Gen grinned despite her mood and raised her cup, carefully touching it to Kenzie’s. “This is why you are such a well-liked healer. You have the best remedies.” She took a few big swallows to get the liquid down below the rim and swallowed dry once, trying to force the alcohol down her throat. Wine was not for chugging. "What do you mean the mess we made of things? How is any of this you doing? Or do you mean the terror we inflict on others in general?”
She shifted the flasks and brought both legs up on the cot, facing Kenzie. The blonde did look strained about the eyes, she noted, feeling guilty for not noticing sooner. “Is everything alright?” K’rin’s demotion had been nearly two sevendays ago. Public knowledge, with most of the people she’d overheard leaning towards the blue rider’s side. Everyone agreed that for a blue rider he was incredibly capable at his job, even if he did have to call down a bronze to help settle the young ones from time to time.
“You haven’t mentioned K’rin in a while,” she said aloud, more a statement than a question. She’d been so wrapped up in R’ger that she hadn’t even noticed her friend’s lack of enthusiasm. Shells, she felt like a child for being so caught up in her own world. It should be common sense that he would be in a foul mood, and that her best friend might be upset. Gen felt like a horrible person. Who ignored their friend's mood and detailed cheerful days with her own rider and then ran to them for support when she was feeling jealous and inadequate? Oh, wine was absolutely for chugging. Especially when Gen stopped being obedient and self-absorbed and started paying attention to the things she said. Without really meaning to say. Kenzie's smile faltered behind the rim of her cup, and then she tipped it back and drained it in one long series of gulps. "K'rin is... upset," she ventured when she'd gotten her breath back, already reaching for the flask to fill her cup again. While she was at it, she topped Gen's off.
"I'm sure being in A'ver's wing is horrible. Because A'ver is horrible. I just wouldn't know, really. Because he hasn't talked to me, really." The blonde shrugged, nudged her shoes off, and then took a seat on the bed, folding her legs up under herself carefully and arranging her skirts with one hand. The other was holding her wine. Very carefully, because it was very full. "He has a lot going on. I should probably stop dating blue riders, you know. This always happens."
And by 'always' she meant 'twice', but it was sort of a two-for-two thing, so that counted. Determined to be cheerful, Kenzie brightened up and smiled again, nodding at the wine in Gen's hand. "It's okay though. It's nothing to worry about. Things were just getting started anyway." “Wait, wait. You let him isolate himself and get absorbed in focusing on life in A’ver’s wing? That isn’t helping. And you did not part ways with him, right? So there is no “blue riders are awful” thing happening here.” She eyed her cup and drained it, hacking a bit at the end. “I think you need to order him to sit down and talk to you, he’d probably welcome you bossing him around again
“And why didn’t you tell me? Shards, Kenzie, you’re just like Fen! You have to share these things or how will I help fix them? You just sat there and let me go on and on about the most idiotic little things, like how amazing it was to make out instead of transcribing musty old records. You should have said something.” She grabbed for the flask, upset now for a whole new reason, and filled her cup, barely managing to get the stopped back in before raising the cup to her lips.
“We need weekly meetings, the four of us. I think K’rin needs to get out of this new routine; he’s probably going mad and taking you with him. And R’ger… I don’t know.” She pouted into the deep red liquid. “I suppose we couldn’t live such a cheerful way for long, something was bound to bring us back to reality.” "Hey, hey!" Kenzie held up a hand, trying to ward off this... this... completely unwarranted criticism of her handling of the blue rider. That's what it was. "I tried to make him talk to me. I stood under his weyr and bossed him via Prinz and Valoth, and he wouldn't even see me. And when he finally would talk to me, it wasn't real talk. He would barely even look at me. Like I said, things were barely even getting started, and this is a lot of stress for him and I can't make him listen to me the way I can make everyone else listen to me," the blonde huffed, finished another cup of wine, and then poured again.
Her stomach was starting to feel warm, and she wanted more of that. More of that warmth, flowing through her and settling into her limbs and making her forget all about the stupid blue rider who didn't listen to her. She could boss everyone else. K'rin just... wasn't cooperating. "He ignored me. And now he isn't talking to me. I don't know what else to do." Frowning, Kenzie sipped, and then glared at Imogen. "And I'm not like Fen. I just didn't want to ruin all your fun, dimglow. You were having such a nice time, and you didn't need to be all worried. Keep drinking, we have to get very, very drunk. I can't keep all this wine in here." Gen huffed and took swallows as she thought. “How? I mean, who doesn’t listen to you when you boss them around? Outside of your brother. You’re so mean,” she teased, poking at Kenzie’s shoulder to show it was all in good fun.
“He is stupid then. But he’s probably also feeling awful. So are the other riders in A’ver’s wing though, the man’s been working them all extra time. Like he’s trying to break your man in or something and everyone has to suffer along with his stupid ideas.” She nodded and blinked at her cup, wondering how it had gotten empty again. “So much for taking it slow,” she mused, thrusting the cup out for a refill.
“I think we should both go demand he comes down from his safe living space and talk. We could yell loud enough, if he’s going to ignore the dragon-types. I think if we finish this wine we could probably do anything. But I don’t think the candidatemaster would let us do sleepovers again.” She swirled her newly filled cup around and bit her lip. “Too bad I don’t have a dragon already or we’d have a ride up there. Oh! Well, no. Shielth is busy, isn’t he?” "I don't think that's a good idea," Kenzie smirked, and then shrugged again. "Look, forget it. He'll talk to me or he won't talk to me. It doesn't matter. I don't want to think about it anymore tonight. I want to get drunk and have fun and think about better things. I want to talk about clothes and perfume and pastries and silly stuff and not worry about anything. Oh, maybe we could go outside. It was sort of warm today! Do you think the water's too cold for a late night dip?"
The conversation sort of went from there. Before Kenzie knew it, one of the skins had been discarded and they'd started in on the second. Sometime after that, outside started sounding like a lot of fun. Not-very-sneakily, they snuck out of the healer's room and out into the bowl, where they settled down near the water and giggled and cavorted and played in the shallows, getting their feet and their skirts wet and generally acting like silly children.
Prinz was there with them, cheeping and crooning worriedly. He did not like the way they were acting. He did not like that they were outside, where it was still chilly and that they were wet, and that their heads were so very, very swimmy and that they were giggling so very, very much. He did not like it at all. He flittered here and there, trying to make them understand, and then finally, in a blue tizzy, disappeared between. He would just have to find someone else who would listen to his concerns about the two little human girls who were acting so strange. K’rin sighed as Prinz burst into his weyr, rubbing his eyes. He was exhausted from the past couple of weeks and the last thing he needed was Kenzie pestering him again. He felt guilty about cutting her off, but he couldn’t see maintaining a relationship in his current mood. “What? Calm down,” he ordered sternly, throwing up his hands when Star joined in the frantic display. She really should have more sense, being a gold.
The little ones do not have much sense no matter what the color, Valoth interjected, head coming up. He crooned to the two lizards. They are worried about your girl and the other one. They are swimming and they feel wrong. He cocked his head, eyes whirling faster as he picked up their anxiety. Their thoughts are not clear.
“The lizards? When are they ever clear?” K’rin put both hands on the table and rose, stretching. He’d been hunched over the remains of his dinner for some time now.
No, the women. Valoth’s voice was colored with confusion.
K’rin snorted. “That means sickness or drunkenness, my friend. And I doubt it’s sickness. We’d better go.” He shoved his feet into his boots, laced them up, and gave up on getting the lizards to settle. He shook his head at the girls when Valoth landed, neatly dipping his shoulder for an easy dismount. “Better pass this on the Shielth, he should be relaxed by now and R’ger should be finished.” Kenzie was in the middle of a fantastic story. She had no idea how it had started, but it involved some very personal information about a very arrogant bronze rider and a very interesting injury that he'd come across in an extremely personal area. She was telling it knee-deep in the cold water, her skirt soaked up to her mid-thighs, gesturing animatedly. Her top was on the beach; she'd stripped down to her bodice, claiming to be too warm. That was probably the work of the wine, the last skin of which was all but empty. After three skins of the hearty, fruity stuff, she probably was feeling very warm... but that didn't mean that she actually was.
"And then he says 'but I don't want stitches there, how do you expect me to use my..." The blonde paused, frowning over Gen's shoulder at the familiar, hulking shape of the blue as he landed. Valoth. Her head was swimming, and she may not have been steady on her feet, but she was fairly sure that she didn't want the blue or his rider there. Prinz chittered at her as he flickered back in from between, snaking under her hair and curling around her neck, and she scowled at him.
"Tattler. I don't want him," Kenzie mumbled. "Go tell Valoth to take him away." K’rin sighed and stood at the edge of the water, eyeing the girls. “Come out, Kenzie. You’re soaked.” Imogen ducked her head and bit her lip, but he couldn’t tell is that was from amusement or embarrassment. The way they’d both swayed when he’d landed told him they were pretty far gone. “Come out before you both drown or I’m sending Valoth in there after you.” The blue rumbled, eyes whirling with amusement.
Imogen giggled at the visual and shoved at Kenzie’s shoulder, taking a step back to keep her balance. “I told you we could get him down from his tower! Now you can tell him what a dimglow he is and yell at him and take him to bed. You need it. He looks like he needs it. Look how grouchy he is.” She pointed at the blue rider in case the healer didn’t know who she was talking about. K’rin just folded his arms over his chest and sighed. “You both need sex, because someone should be indulging and it isn’t going to be me tonight.” Shielth, for his part, was only a few moments behind. The larger bronze dragon barely had time to settle on the beach before his shirtless rider was sliding to the sand. R'ger had quite the stride when he was concerned, and for a man who should have been feeling good and relaxed, he looked... not relaxed. He seemed quite determined, actually, when he marched up to join K'rin at the water's edge.
He was there just in time for his lady's comment, one which raised both his brows and made him pause for a moment. He'd never heard Imogen say anything like that, and... quite frankly, didn't know quite what to do with it. "I see. They're drunk," he observed, and then frowned over at the blue rider. "You look horrible. Maybe you ought to join them."
With a deep breath, he stepped forward into the shallows and picked Imogen up, swinging her into his arms, wet skirts and all. "That's enough of that. I think it's past your bedtime, isn't it?"
Kenzie giggled in response, covering the laugh girlishly with one hand. R'ger was such a good man! He was so cute with Imogen. They were so cute. Her eyes drifted back toward K'rin, and her giggles died. Oh, right. He was still there. Wrinkling her nose, she crossed her arms over her chest, and then very primly (and sort of clumsily) sat right down where she was. "He should have stayed in his tower. Because he is a dimglow, and I'm not taking him to bed." The healer leveled a wobbly finger at K'rin. "And you just keep your dragon over there. Do you hear me, Valoth? I'm staying right here. I'm just fine." K’rin was getting a headache holding back the eye rolls. “Have fun you two,” he called as R’ger somehow manhandled an oddly grabby Imogen onto a very tall Shielth. He could hear a sharp squeak and decided he didn’t want to know what had prompted that sound.
This is a fun game, Valoth enthused, shifting from foot to foot. K’rin slapped the blue on the neck.
“It’s not a game, she’s drunk and sitting in the lake without her shirt.” He glanced down at his own dry clothing and cursed. He’d get wet either way; R’ger had the right of it. No asking, just go collect your girl. He just hoped she wasn’t a biter. It probably wouldn’t be as fun in these circumstances.
He waded into the water, muttering about stubborn females, and stopped in front of her. “Get up,” he ordered in his old weyrlingmaster voice. Strange how he was so irritated by this situation but felt so much better ordering her around. He needed a day off. "Imogen, stop squirming," R'ger ordered, using his wingleader voice. She was all wiggles! It was very... distracting. And wet. And cold. What had possessed them to go play in the lake? Well, he could imagine. They were drunken, silly girls. Obviously the silliest thing possible appealed to them. "Here, up onto Shielth's back. No, behind the ridge there. No, there. No, there." It was, in fact, a sharp smack to her bottom that earned that squeak.
But it also got her into the right place. Once he had hauled himself up behind her, the two of them were on their way up to his weyr. No way could he take her back to the barracks like that; T'lus would have his hide. Or Kenzie's hide. And most definitely Imogen's hide. No, no. It would be much better for her to sleep off her wine in his bed, where she would be safe and sound. Shielth wouldn't let her wander off the sharding ledge, either.
The bronze, for his part, was too pleased from his flight earlier in the day to be too disconcerted about the whole mess. As long as his human and the little human were all right, he was content to ferry them about.
Kenzie was... less content. She frowned up at K'rin, even though she had to crane her neck back to do it. And doing that made her feel a little sick. Her lashes fluttered briefly; she almost saved him a lot of trouble by passing out there. But not quite. Half-a-second later, she shook it off and struggled to her feet in her wet skirt, huffing at him. "There. Now go away. I can get back on my own." Which was quite the statement, because she wasn't doing such a hot job of standing on her own. After about five seconds, the healer was back in the water, this time even less gracefully. K’rin made a disgusted sound in the back of his throat and squatted to put an arm around her and haul her upright again, pressed against his side. “We’re going back to my weyr and getting you into dry clothing,” he declared, leading her to the waiting dragon. “You can throw up there if you need to, I don’t think the dragons would take kindly to you fouling their water.”
He asked Valoth to dip his shoulder and in response the blue all but laid himself flat on the ground. It did make wrangling Kenzie onto his shoulders easier, and he reached around her once seated to lock her arms against her sides. The short flight up to the weyr was not the time for flailing about.
Not a minute later they had landed on the ledge and he’d swung down, reaching up to grip her by the waist and haul her down. He slipped an arm around her waist and led her inside, Valoth following at a sedate pace. This felt nice, really. He’d missed contact with her. Of course, this was not ideal. The blue rider turned Kenzie and pushed a bit, letting her collapse onto a soft, overstuffed chair. “I’m going to find you dry clothes. Do you need anything else? Food? More wine?” Good news: Kenzie was not a biter. She made an unhappy sound, but didn't do more than push against K'rin for a moment before she stopped struggling and let him drag her around and to the waiting dragon. And she wasn't going to flail around and hurt Valoth. She liked Valoth. Valoth was a nice blue dragon and he had always been very polite to her and given her rides and he was kind to Prinz. He was a nice blue.
She mumbled something to this effect ('nice blue, niiiiiiiice blue') while K'rin manipulated her up onto his back, and then made a very good show of not puking her guts up when they launched into the air. That last part was very, very important.
Once they were in the weyr, she found herself in a chair very quickly. Frowning, she slid to the end and started to wriggle, shedding her skirt and letting it fall to his floor. It had started to feel very cold and very wet and very heavy, where it had not felt like any trouble at all in the lake. "No," she mumbled, leaning back in the chair. "I had lots of wine. Why did you come? You don't even like me." The laces of her bodice were very complicated. Stupid fingers. Her fingers were very drunk.