How Many Decades Teasing Is This Worth (JP Cremsden / Cuylar)

Laura Walker

Cremsden hoped like the Red Star that Cuylar was back and not..wherever he’d ended up after the flight. Don’t think, don’t think about any of it because while usually he might have been able to cheerfully tease his friend about it he wasn’t usually as close to the flightrooms as he’d been today.

That might be explanation enough for him being flushed and flustered still when he went searching for Cuylar. For all it had been over a decade in a Weyr, Cremsden’s lack of ability to feel flights meant certain parts still got stuck at the back of his mind until right in front of his face.

Cuylar's hair was still wet from the quick dunk he had taken in the baths to get the worst of the sweaty stink off. He was not exactly displeased with ending up with I'des, but…

"Hey," he greeted Cremsden.

“Hi.” Cremsden’s colour was high, looking agitated still as he stopped in front of Cuylar. “Not going to even ask where you ended up, but I need you for five minutes.”

"Right. Uh. Are you OK?" Cuylar asked. Elphith had told him who won. "Or is this about something else?"

“I just-- can you come in the office for a minute?” Which wasn’t exactly ‘yes I’m fine’, but half the time when Cremsden said that it was an utter lie anyway. “Five minutes. Need to run something past you.”

"I owe you more than that after what I heard I missed," Cuylar countered. He followed Cremsden to his office.

The door shut safely behind them, leaving just them and.. Okay, at least half a dozen firelizards that Cremsden just hoped like hell didn’t report back to their owners. Firelizards didn’t really understand most of human speak, right?

“I talked to Dytha,” he said without preamble. “It’s bad. Not just last flight. He’s got her scared halfway to the Red Star, it’s fecking bad, the sharding bastard killed her firelizard and he’s got her scared that anyone who helps her, anyone who knows how bad it is, is going to get hurt. No good rationalising with her that he’s been arrested, I know that mindset, should by now, patched up enough people at home with it--” He was practically babbling, speaking fast, barely pausing to take a breath, words tumbling over each other. “No way on Pern I’m leaving her at home when she’s in that frame of mind, not after that flight, I know what this Weyr is like. I doubt very much anyone is letting him out, but the amount of people she’ll get coming to her door just to nose will drive her mad.”

"Alright," said Cuylar, nodding as he listened. "Granted… Did you just need me to say you're not being crazy, or…?" As far as he could see, Cremsden already had it all figured out.

“No, look, I need you to help me make this sound believable.” Cremsden waved a hand at him, still looking twitchy. “If I say come stay with us, people will understand why she’ll just-- she nearly panicked just at the thought. Thought he’d come after us next. Never mind that I survived Fort, she’s not in a place to hear it right now.” He took a breath, consciously trying to sound calmer. “So I thought-- you know Zlorenth caught?” And now he looked more than flushed. Cuylar could probably have toasted bread on Cremsden’s face, and that ‘no, really, I’m completely calm’ tone just wasn’t quite working.

"Yes, Elphith told me," Cuylar answered. "Hey. Take a deep breath, OK? Well. You just did that. But if it didn't work, try it again." He patted Cremsden's arm. "What needs to sound believable?"

“I thought that-- maybe, if we told people that if, if she’d come back after the flight and just.. You know, stayed, that wouldn’t be-- I mean, that’s a thing that happens?” It was a thing that happened often enough, although probably not to Cremsden. When it was Cremsden it was probably only likely more likely than Cuylar accidentally getting someone pregnant, and not just because he looked terribly flustered at just the suggestion.

"That is a thing that happens, yes," Cuylar agreed. "Who needs to hear this story? Is it just for Dytha? Because she thinks she needs an excuse to stay somewhere safe?" he asked.

“I-- maybe everyone?” Cremsden said. “I mean, she’s not stupid and she works in the Infirmary. If I tell her people think that and no-one’s gossiping about it she’ll know they don’t.”

"Right, right. OK. Then that's the story," said Cuylar. He nodded. "Assuming she and Margana are alright with it. Or is this just supposed to be something she hears after the fact?"

“I talked to her about it,” Cremsden said, and somehow went even redder, picking up a pen from his desk to fidget with. Bitey was watching him curiously from his bed. Anxious he was used to but changing colours, this was new. “I, uh, was going to ask you to cover for me while I go talk to Margana about it.”

"Are you going to be able to say it without catching fire?" Cuylar chuckled. He had no concerns about filling in for Cremsden. But he would like to be a vtol on the wall for that conversation.

“Well. Possibly.” It was also occurring to Cremsden just how that conversation was likely to go. He stared into space for a minute and groaned. “Faranth, this is going to be the proposal all over again. I should have asked her first. You think she’s going to be pissed off?”

"Why would she be?" Cuylar asked. He shrugged. "She's weyrfolk, isn't she? You are too, in just about any way that matters. You've lived at a weyr longer than you've lived anywhere else, haven't you?"

Cremsden shrugged back at him. “Healer’s Healer,” he said firmly. “Doesn’t matter where they happen to be.”

"If you say so," said Cuylar. "I don't think she'll be pissed. Shells, I wouldn't even be surprised if – under different circumstances, of course – she asked you if you wanted to do it for real."

“...Oh.” Clearly that had not occurred. Somehow despite knowing academically, as it were, that his weyrmate had just finished bedding Dytha the idea that that was a thing that could happen had yet to.. Er..penetrate. Cremsden blinked, taken aback and completely lost for words.

"Is that not everyone's secret fantasy?" Cuylar chuckled. "I can tell you, it's a pretty good time. Not with a traumatized patient you're trying to protect, but… maybe with someone else."

“I--” Cremsden fumbled for words, still blushing like the sun had just come up and wishing he had at least thought to bring a kl--tea so he could have hidden behind it. “Er. I.. think I’ll leave the exciting stuff to you.” Because he’d just got comfortable with the idea of Margana being something that wasn’t going to suddenly go away and his imagination had rarely stretched to more. More felt..greedy somehow.

"Sorry," Cuylar said. He patted Cremsden's arm again. "I really didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. I think it's a believable plan, and I think Margana will be happy to go along with it."

“Right.” Cremsden relaxed a little, relieved to move the subject on. “And if anyone asks you, can you act like it’s a thing? I think most people know you’d know.”

"Oh, I'm prepared to tell everyone how proud I am of you," Cuylar chuckled. "And if anyone owes you a little fib about sex, it's me."

He laughed at that, a little sheepishly, and then turned serious again. “Look, er, I was up patching people up after the flight.” Which was probably another reason why he was so twitchy just now. He’d had no need to see a flightroom before and… well, that had definitely been an unusual one to start on. “You know he got arrested, right?”

"He did!" Cuylar exclaimed, clearly surprised and clearly pleased. But then he frowned. "What happened? I tried to moth him, but… well, the best laid plans, as they say. Is everyone OK?"

“Weeeell, from what I understand there was a fight and he punched the interim Weyrleader,” Cremsden explained. “And then I think there was more punching. I’m not sure. There were a few people to check over.”

"I missed more than I realized," Cuylar frowned. "I am sorry. I did absolutely no good today." He sighed.

“I mostly hid in a cupboard until it was over,” Cremsden admitted. “And no offence, but I’m really rather glad those things don’t need a Healer more often.” Because even if he’d escaped being mistaken for a flightmoth there was still no way of treating people there without having seen things he would really rather not see.

"None taken," said Cuylar. "I'm glad not to need a Healer for that, too." He winked.

“Anyway, the point is that I don’t think anyone here is stupid enough to release him, and short term I think we can keep her safe just by being with us but-- but if they do release him we might have to. Well. Take care of things.” A very Fort phrase that and Cremsden raised his chin a little. He might stammer and fumble his way through talking about flights but fights? Fights he could handle.

"I can do whatever we need to do," said Cuylar, confidently. "Just let me know. However much you can for plausible deniability. Elphith can't lie if it comes down to it."

“And K’ren would kill me if I picked a fight again,” Cremsden agreed, and grinned, the sort of grin that usually appeared when he spotted a new dragonpoker victim. “But if it were self-defense now -- I mean, if Dytha’s staying with us then he’s going to get jealous, and it’s hardly my fault if I get attacked.”

"Hardly your fault at all. So be sure not to walk around alone," said Cuylar. He was going to be there if self-defense was necessary.

“At the very least my poor disabled one-winged firelizard will be coming around with me.” Cremsden was still grinning as he reached to toss Bitey a treat. “Poor weak thing.”

"Bitey could end the man all on his own. Just a well timed nip to the ear, and he's done for." Cuylar chuckled to show he was kidding. He would never ask Bitey to do such a thing.

“Bitey’s got friends. I wish I could explain to him what the guy did to Dytha’s flit. He’d probably arrange to deal with it without my help,” Cremsden said reflectively, and then turned abruptly sober again. “Cuylar-- you know when you asked me before if you were doing the right thing with the baby?”

"Yeah?" Cuylar tilted his head curiously. "Are you already having second thoughts?" he wondered. He supposed there was some amount of worry to be had about the man's dragon. But. Not that much, as far as Cuylar was concerned.

“I rushed her into it without really giving her chance to object,” Cremsden admitted. “I don’t-- I’ve no concerns at all about the rider, that I can deal with. But just-- tell me I haven’t gone crazy?”

"I don't think you've gone crazy, no," said Cuylar. "Make sure she knows that she doesn't have to stay if she doesn't want to. Especially after she's no longer in danger. But don't worry about being crazy. You're doing a good job."

“I pushed a bit because she’d have stayed behind to protect us if I hadn’t,” Cremsden admitted. “Probably more than I should have but-- I was worried.” Given a little time to calm down rather than just reacting he felt a touch guilty about that. “I started intending for her to go to a friend’s to avoid nosy people and.. Then she told me more about what had been going on.”

Cuylar lowered his eyes. He felt a stab of guilt at not having helped enough himself. He could tell himself he had tried all he liked, but when it came down to it, he had done very little on her behalf. Even the dragons Elphith had rallied to help chase likely would have done so anyway because of the little gold.

"You did the right thing."

Cremsden sighed. “I don’t want to push her if she’s drifting into a habit of not saying no,” he admitted. “And that can happen.” He fidgeted again, shifting things around on his desk until Bitey grumbled at him. “You want to come over sometime? If she knows you more she might complain to you when she’s worried about hurting my feelings or something.” And Cuylar was over often enough anyway that it wouldn’t seem arranged. “You can come help me review inhaler notes or something. And cuddle Arden.”

"That sounds good to me," Cuylar answered, although the thought of cuddling Arden made him want to cuddle Ric. Well. He would have a time for that, too. He was not going to fail him, too.

“You owe me baby cuddles with your young man when his mother will allow it by the way,” Cremsden added as though overhearing that thought. “I need to be reminded how tiny they start off. Arden seems huge now.”

A little smile returned to Cuylar's face.

"I managed to get her to start taking naps while I'm there, so that's progress."

“Good. Tell her he needs a health check. Hmm.” Cremsden’s mind returned to his current problem. “I’m.. going to have to move Dytha to you officially, aren’t I?” 

"I have told her," Cuylar frowned. "I mentioned you to her the other day thinking she'd have already met you, but she hadn't, obviously. I need to make the time to bring her here myself. It's… I did say I would show her the way…"

“We’ll sort it.” Cremsden waved that concern away. “If your mother’s been seeing to him I’m not overly concerned about issues, just nosy and wanting a cuddle.”

"Right. Right," Cuylar nodded. "I'll get her there when my schedule lines up in a few days. It's harder when I work late in the Infirmary." He had to work harder not to use his double schedule to make excuses.

“Hey, I’m not guilting you. Relax,” Cremsden said lightly. “So, I’ll keep treating Dytha’s feet while she’s with us because honestly it’s easier and she’s there but I’ll move her officially to you because.. Well. Ethics.” He considered. “K’ren might still pull me aside to check in, at that. Eh, I’ll deal with that if I need to.”

"Ethics," Cuylar said with a mock dismissive tone. "Who even does that?" He grinned and winked at Cremsden. "I'll take it. I can handle it."

“Totally expecting at least a few people in here to be looking at me sideways,” Cremsden admitted. “Especially with her being an apprentice, even if she’s DragonHealer side now. Hopefully Master Larsin won’t challenge me for her honour or something.”

"If it comes down to it, you can tell the folks in charge what's really happening in private," said Cuylar. "And if they still can't allow it for the optics of it, well. She can sleep in my weyr. Might be a little bit less convincing, but…"

Cuylar paused.

"Wait, I got promoted, that doesn't work for the same reason, does it?" He shook his head and laughed once.

Cremsden grinned. “Forgetting already?” he teased. “Although it would make you getting someone pregnant a bit more believable, but she might get a bit of an education while she was there.”

"Oh, I wouldn't do anything to make her uncomfortable," Cuylar said, nudging Cremsden with his fist.

"Anyway. If she needs another place to sleep, I've got space. Well. More or less."

“I’ll keep it in mind. If we can do it in a way that doesn’t look like she’s sleeping her way through the Infirmary,” Cremsden added. “Right. At a guess if Margana wasn’t still uh, with Dytha, she’ll be in the office.”

"If she doesn't mind waking up every few hours during the night, I might convince Darrica to let her sleep there." Cuylar laughed to show he was kidding.

"Well, anyway. I'll let you get to where you're going. It'll be fine. Don't fret."

“You’re going to tease me for the rest of my life about this, aren’t you?” Cremsden said drily, even as he moved to the door.

"Wouldn't you be disappointed in me if I didn't?" Cuylar asked, this time with a smile from ear to ear.

“Completely.” Cremsden laughed and was gone, slipping out of the door. 

Next job, Margana.


Blackadder: I mean, what about the people that do all the work?
Baldrick: The servants.
Blackadder: No, me; *I'm* the people who do all the work.