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D'ire needed a break.
He'd overheard riders slandering Forts dead bronzers again, and knew that saying anything would cause him more problems in the long run.
It had been TURNS, weren't they ever going to let the dead rest in peace?
So he and Andreth had headed out of the weyr for a day at the beach, and somehow were lucky enough to be the only ones there today.
He might not be the only cripple with a dragon, but he didn't need anyone looking at him once he was off his dragon.
Long used to his limitations by now, he dropped his picnic lunch to the ground before unstrapping his bad leg, grabbing his crutches and letting Andreth roll sideways to let him get off.
Andreth's attention turned to a rustling in the bushes, and D'ire laughed.
"Go on, go terrorise the wherries." He said, twitching a blanket into place on the sand, ignoring the sand pushed onto it by his Blues excited tail wagging.
Andreth bounced over to the bushes and pushed his snout carefully into them after quickly inspecting for dangerous spines.
Tareg froze as his berry foraging meant he came face to face with a dragon. He stared at the blue, wide eyed before scurrying backwards, tripping over a stone and turning his ankle.
“Ow. Feckit.” He yelped, before his lip quivered. He was /not/ going to cry like a brat. He was twelve- and had been looking after himself for turns. He didn’t need to cry at being scared by a dragon.
Loosing his berries as he fel though was a whole ‘nother thing.
“You made me squish my berries. I was ungry and now I don’t even ‘ave them.”
((Mine, the little is hungry))
Andreth told his rider who had just flopped down onto the sandy blanket with a relieved sigh.
The blue didn't say anything about ruining the littles food but his voice was tinted with guilt.
D'ire turned to look at his blue.
"A little what, Andreth?'
It couldn't be a feline, Andreth never had learned about the idea of pet felines although D'ire had taught him to be discrete.
Andreth sent him an image of the brat.
D'ire mentally groaned at his dragon, but called out to the "little" Andreth had found.
"Come here, boy."
“I’d rather feckin not.” Tareg blurted. “‘Specially if ya going to send me back.” He stood and bit his lip as his ankle let him know it hurt. He wouldn’t be running anywhere for a while.
“Ya won send me back, will ya?” He asked hesitantly, taking a step and swearing as pain shot through his ankle. “Fecking ow, my ankle.”
"Back where?" D'ire asked, considering and discarding the idea of standing up.
Southern brats needed to learn respect, and coddling helped no one.
"If your ankle hurts don't use it." He pointed out instead.
“Don’t matter where. Ain’t like I’m goin back” Tareg scowled at his already swelling foot. “How’s I supposed ya not use it and come out?” He asked. “It only got hurt cos I wasn’t expecting a dragon to stick their nose in the berry bush I was getting somethin t’eat off.”
D'ire resisted the urge to turn his back on the brat.
"Well, you ain't from Fort or you'd know how to behave." He said, mostly to himself.
"Southerners don't know how raise brats right."
He raised an eyebrow.
"You've never heard of hopping?"
Tareg scowled at him. “I could walk on my hands if I had eaten in the last two days.” He crossed his arms and scowled. “All I wanted was something to eat and your dragon scared the shots out of me that I lost the few berries that were ready to eat.”
"Two days." D'ire repeated, reaching for his crutches.
That wasn't good for anyone, and he was wondering if the brat had had a proper meal that two days ago.
"You've been ought here for two days?" He asked, looping the picnic baskets extra strap over the back of his head before heaving himself to his feet.
“Not /here/ specifically.” Tareg grumbled, giving in the urge to sit down. “And I had some berries when I could fine em so it’s not really been two days since I ate. “ he hesitated then admitted. “I’ve been by myself for weeks. Ain’t any different then home only no ones yellin at me.”
Brats didn't just run away to starve for being yelled at for being naughty, D'ire thought, remembering listening in to a couple of healers who thought he was asleep last time he was stuck in the infirmary.
"They hit you outside of discipline?" He asked, carefully hobbling over until he was beside Andreth, who was eyeing the brat with worry.
Nothing better than punishing a brat, aside from no punishments ehen needed, to ruin a brat.
Tareg grit his teeth and looked away. “Ran before he could hit me too. Used ta hide from ‘im when ‘e was in a mood.” His whole body seemed to close off. He did not want to talk about it.
"At least you're not stupid." D'ire remarked.
He looked the boy over, considering.
"What do you want to do with your life?"
Taregs chin went up stubbornly. “I wanna be a dragon rider. Like my da was- before he died.” He admitted. “His blue always told me I’d make a good Rider.”
That D'ire hadn't expected.
Someone at the creche would have notice an abusive parent.
"You didn't tell the creche workers what was going on?" He asked, sitting down and removing the picnic baskets strap from around his neck.
Tareg scowled. “I was with ma. We traveled a lot. Da would come and see us when he could.” He traced a pattern on the ground. “Would’a been easier had he lived. Ma wouldn’t” he clammed up again, not wanting to let any more out then he had to.
D'ire looked at blue Andreth, thinking about how he'd feel if he died in Fall and a trader took his brat from the weyr and raised him wrong.
"What was your sires name and weyr?" He asked after a moment, opening the picnic basket.
Tareg shook his head hard. “If I tell you they can find ma and him an I’m not going back.” His eyes however followed the motions of his hands as he opened the basket.
"Eat slowly." He told the brat, trying to think of how to deal with the brat.
If he wasn't a cripple he'd just grab the boy and take him to the weyr.
His eyes dropped to the boy's ankle.
"And show me your ankle."
Tareg tried to eat slowly, he really did- and after the first couple of mouthfuls he forced himself to stop gulping.
He tensed as he considered putting his injured ankle out and looked at the rider a moment before he slid his dirty, shoeless foot over.
D'ire poked at the ankle carefully, assessing it.
"I'm no healer but you haven't damaged it badly enough to stop you from standing when you reach 12 turns."
He wiped his hands on his leggings and hmmmed thoughtfully at the brat.
Tareg tucked his leg back under him. “M’twelve.” He admitted when his mouth was no longer full. “Turned a while back. Was why I left- figured I could find an apprenticeship or something but” he shrugged. It was hard to find an apprenticeship when you were half starved and had nothing to say you were of age.
D'ire was a product of the Fort creche system, and so didn't see the brats mother as having any claim on him. What truly mattered was this was a rider's son, and that rider's dragon had deemed him candidate material.
"What's your name?" He still eyeing the lad thoughtfully.
“Tareg.” He answered quietly. He reached for something else, hesitating before pulling his hand back. He knew from experience that eating too much would mean it would come straight back up again.
"Well, you ought to be at a weyr in any case." Dire stated as a fact.
"I'll take you to the healers, tell them your mother... Aregine or something similar... and I met at Fort Weyr, and she's now realised where you belong."
Tareg stared at him wide eyed.
“But why?” He asked him. “You’d lie for me?”
"I'll claim you as mine," D'ire said, "Because you belong at a weyr, not with traders who don't know how discipline works."
Tareg blinked back tears and swiped at his face, trying to chase them away. “Jus so long as you don expect me to call you da. I have- had a da.” He swallowed hard. “Thank you.”
"I called my sire 'Sir'." Dire said, "He was T'lod of Bronze Mayrth."
He watched the boy to see if he understood the importance of a bronze dragon.
"I also have a son, Tosire. He is 11 turns old."
“I can cal you Sir.” Tareg informed him. “Will- would Tosire mind having a slightly older brother?” He couldn’t help the slight wistful longing in his voice. He always wished he had a little sibling.
"He's a good weyr brat, and I likely have other brats I've not met." He said.
He knew exactly how likely that actually was, not that he would actually admit to it, even after turns at Arolos.
That made Tareg relax even more. “Okay.” He tilted his head a moment. “You won’t get into any trouble will you, with how I, you know, look- will you?”
"If they try, I've got a healthy brat I've acknowledged his whole life to show I don't starve brats for fun."
Although perhaps he'd take the brat to his weyr and get him to wash before taking him to the healers.
He looked the brat over, deciding that he probably had some of Tosire's clothing in his weyr that the lad would fit.
Tareg tilted his head at him before nodding. “If’n it looks like you are goin ya be in trouble though, we tell the truth.” His eyes looked fierce in his half starved face. “You promise me that Sir. You aren’t goin ya get in trouble because a me.”
"If there's trouble, I'll deal with it."
And even the softhearted Arolos types couldn't fault a rider for the care of a brat he didn't know anything about.
"In return, you conduct yourself the way a dragonriders' son ought to. After all, your grandsire was a Bronzerider of Fort."
Tareg gave a shy grin at that. “Thank you, Sir.” He hesitated barely a breathe before asking “What is your blues name? I figure I should know if if’n I’m your brat.”
"This is Andreth." D'ire said proudly.
“Pleasure to meet you Andreth” Tareg have the blue a wave. “Do you like your eye ridges scratched? My- well. Lanceth used to tel me I was the best at doing that.”
Andreths attention had drifted back to the bushes in hopes of something to chase, but a mental nudge from D'ire had him catching what the boy said.
((Mine, tell little yes)) Andreths tail was stiring up sand again and D'ire flipped the picnic basket lid over as he told Tareg, "You can go ahead."
Tareg grinned and hobbled over to the blue. He rather hesitantly leaned against him in order to reach his head and eye ridges and to scratch and rub them.
Tareg couldn’t help but him softly to Andreth as he scratched him. He missed this- oh sure, it was a very different dragon- but he missed the feel of dragonhide under his hands.
Well, if there had been any questions about the brat really having been a rider's son, his confidence and accuracy in scritching a blue would have dispelled it. D'ire ate the last of what was in the basket as he watched, and then pulled himself to his feet, wobbling on his crutches for a moment as the sand underneath him shifted.
"Well, we better get going. Got a few things to get done today."
He limped over to Andreth.
((We can keep the little? Good scratching.)) The blue asked.
"Yes, Andreth, we're keeping him."
D'ire double checked the straps and then limped back to the basket, before looking over at the blanket still where he'd positioned it earlier.
He glanced at the boy - at Tareg's ankle, and set off to get it himself.
Tareg looked at D’ire- Sir and gave a nod in agreement. He gave Andreth one last scratch and stroke against his muzzle. “Thank you- for letting me scratch. I missed it.”
Andreth gave Tareg-little a big lick while D'ire was carefully picking up the blanket, his back turned.
Tareg giggled softly. “Thanks Andreth. I hope you don’t mind your Rider adopting me. I really hope he doesn’t get in any trouble. I’m going to make him proud, promise.”
D'ire tied the blanket to the side of the basket and looped the strap over his neck again.
"You know how to mount a dragon?" He asked.
Tareg gave a nod. “I remember. I think it’s something that’s impossible to forget.” He added with a quick smile. He still dreamed of flying high with his da and Lanceth.
"That may be true," D'ire acknowledged, before looking at where the brat was standing.
"Move in front of Andreth for a moment." He told Tareg.
“Yes sir.” Tareg answered, shifting to where he was told. “Sorry about all the touching Andreth. Let Sir know if you’d rather me not.” He added, naming leant against the blue more then once as he moved around.
"Okay Andreth," Dire told his blue, who flopped sideways, kicking up the sand more than a little.
D'ire was immediately strapping himself onto his saddle, hands quick with long practice.
He looked over at Tareg.
"Want to get on now, or the normal way?" He asked.
Tareg considered his ankle before answering. “Usually I’d say the other way, but I’m not too sure I could climb up with one ankle.” He admitted, limping painfully around.
“I’m lucky today for more then that Sir.” Tareg answered as he copied what the rider had done “how is this?”
"That's good." He reached back and tightened a strap, clad the brat was as small as he was. "Hold on to me tightly." He then said, a hand on the brat just in case.
Andreth rolled back up, showering sand everywhere.
Tareg clung to D’ire as the world tilted and they were upright. His head spun a little but he was okay. He didn’t even worry about the sand- after all, he was already all sorts of dirty.
D'ire checked that all the relevant straps were in place, before leaning his whole body sideways.
He strapped his bad leg down and turned his head to check that Tareg was secure.
And Andreth launched into the sky.
Tareg couldn’t help the grin that danced over his face. This. This was his childhood. This was his memories of his da. This was everything. The Rider may not realise it, but he had reignited Taregs love for flying.
They flew straight for a minute, D'lan taking the time just to look down in case there was anything to report to the rankers.
"Okay, between in 3...2...1..." D'lan counted down for the brats benefit, and then they Betweened.
Coming out they were near the weyr, but not over it, so Tareg got a great view instead of the usual spot above the weyrbowl.
Tareg’s head swiveled around, once the cold of between faded, and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Arolos from the air was a wonder.
Soon enough, Andreth was shifting his flight, heading for their weyr.
He landed normally, and D'ire leaned down along his bad leg, easily unbuckling his leg. Andreth then crouched and gently and slowly tilted sideways until D'ire and Tareg were almost on the floor.
D'ire unbuckled the last strap holding himself in place and rolled out, then knelt up on one knee to unbuckle Tareg.
Tareg waited till he was unbuckled before giving an acrobatic little twist to get off. He stood up, half hugging himself, as he looked around the blueriders weyr.
"Careful on your leg." D'ire warned, as he removed the basket and his crutches so that Andreth could sit up.
Tareg nodded. “I will, Sir.” He couldn’t help but look around however, hands hugged to himself so he would. Not. Touch.
"Wash bowl is through the door." He told the boy. His weyr was kept uncluttered more than most riders, even though he had the standard single weyr.
He turned to unbuckling Andreth's straps so the blue could go feed without adding to the cleaning routine.
Tareg hobbled to the wash bowl, stripping his shirt off before starting to scrub his upper body with the cloth. He was skinny but not emancipated at least- just lacking any body fat.
It didn’t take long to get the top half of himself clean, and he deftly stripped from the rest of his clothes, folding the rags as near as he could before finishing. The only thing he didn’t wash was his hair- and it hang rather shaggily and dirty around his face.
When he'd finished letting Andreth free, D'ire headed into his private room to see if the brat had washed up at all.
It was good that he had, and D'ire located clean clothes for him to change into.
"Rinse your hair out too, then dry with the cloth on that hook."
“Yessir.” Tareg answered, cupping his hands to rinse his head. It felt, to be honest, nice- even though it didn’t get the oils off- getting the dust off helped him de better. The bowl was more mud then water by the time he finished, and started to dry off- but he was very much no longer dirty.
"Good lad." He waved his hand at the clothes.
"You alright to walk to the infirmary with me, or would you like a cane?"
Tareg pauses when thinking that over. Pain won out over pride however. “Cane please sir. If’n I walk on it I could make it worse. Least that’s what” he went quiet. That was what Iolan, the older woman who would patch anyone up who needed it, would say.
D'ire got the cane he kept by his cot and took it over to the boy.
Tareg accepted it with a grateful smile, trying it out for a couple of steps and finding it much easier then hobbling along.
D'ire nodded at his new brat and headed for the other door. At least his wey had a good location.
Tareg followed after, one step behind and silently, staying to follow his- Sir to their destination.
D'ire took the easiest way to the Infirmary and entered, looking around for a Healer.
(Ooc: TLDR version. D'ire goes out for a nice day relaxing on a beach, finds a hungry 12 turn old who hasn't eaten properly in a while. Finds out the boy is a deceased blueriders son who ran away from an abusive trader. Decides the easiest way to get the boy Where He Belongs is to acknowledge him as D'ires son. Now taking him and his sprained ankle to the healers.)