A couple of days after Kassia cut off the Caverns, Kassia went out to bring Kodah inside to talk. There was another guard outside and multiple male dragons. She doubted anything was getting in.
“Kodah, we need to talk,” she said, saying the words that no one wants to hear.
Kodah's heart sank. He had never thought to hear those words, not after… well, not until he had let a crazy kid get so near the eggs that the dragons had to deal with it. Nevermind that he had no say over whether any particular kid could come onto the Sands and no way to have known what would happen… He saw every incident as a failure on his part.
And perhaps now there had been too many incidents. Now, he would lose this, could lose this post of honor he had been afforded.
His face betrayed none of his thoughts. He simple followed where she led him and nodded when she spoke.
"Yes, ma'am," he said.
Kassia’s expression wasn’t exactly helpful. K’ren’s treatment was starting to work, but hadn’t fully kicked in. At least she was sleeping a little better and she wasn’t quite as volatile.
She gestured to a place in the Stands instead of near her desk where Brogan laid sleeping. No need for him to be on duty with so much protection around.
After sitting, she gestured for Kodah to join her. “Please, sit.”
Sniffit turned around to watch for anyone approaching and sat some few meters away as they continued to sit down.
Kodah sat as instructed. He assumed that Kassia chose the slightly less formal setting simply to avoid waking Brogan. Kodah, too, knew the value in letting a sleeping wher sleep if they were off duty.
“I’m not meaning to scare you,” she said as she pulled her braid over her shoulder and played with it, a sure sign that she was agitated. “But I have to say something...I really hate to say it.”
Well. That was it, then. She would have to send him on his way. Kodah would just have to get used to being an ordinary guard again. There was no dishonor in that… but being removed from this position, well…
"I'm listening," said Kodah. He nodded. Kassia had certainly been a little off with everything that had happened, but Kodah had not treated her any differently… not really. He had gone out of his way to be more accommodating, but he had not begun speaking to her as though she were a child or the like.
Kassia nodded and continued to fiddle with her braid until she was outright pulling it. Foreth was watching from the Sands and she gave a grunt, a reminder for Kassia to realize what she was doing and the Weyrwoman reluctantly released the braid and pushed it back over the shouler.
“I want you to know this isn’t your fault...” she said.
Kodah supposed it was nice that Kassia at least seemed to be… worried for his feelings? Was that it? Still, he wished she would spit it out. He nodded.
"Yes, ma'am," he said.
Kassia turned to fidgeting with her hand. Another long moment passed and then she blurted, “You can’t be my guard. At least for a while. We can’t risk you Stands Impressing. I’d give you the option, but you have a wher. That’d be disastrous.”
Kodah blinked. He had expected the first bit, but the explanation? That was… well, unexpected.
"Am I not too old to Stand?" he asked. Truth be told, he thought having Sniffit would have precluded it all together.
“To Stand, yes,” Kassia said. Her eyes glanced at Brogan. “But Stands Impressions have happened at your age. And a dragon won’t necessarily care if you have a wher. We can’t risk it anyway. Is Sniffit bonded or Impressed?”
"Impressed," said Kodah. And he could not help but turn to glance at him. He could feel the little nudge from Sniffit, even though the brown did not take his eyes off of his watch. "Then… you're sending me away? Can I not just… leave when the Hatching starts?"
She shook her head. “By then if the dragon has picked you, they’ll search you out or die. You’ve already been around longer than is maybe good.”
Kodah looked down, his eyes wandering back in forth in thought.
"If… If I've already been around, would it make any difference if I stayed away now?" he wondered. This was the closest he ever came to arguing with Kassia. This job was very important to him.
“We have no idea if it’s superstitious or not, but there’s some worry that the more contact, the more likely of an Impression,” Kassia said. “That’s why we generally let the Candidates in. There’s no guarantee, but the worry is there. And you have no way of giving Siniffit to someone else either now or if you Impressed.”
Kodah nodded. There had to be some way to make this work… Of course, Kassia might say that she would bring him back after, and she might even mean it, but… If he went away, he might never make it back, no matter what anyone meant now.
"Do the babies sleep?" he wondered. "Like the big ones sleep at night? If I were here at night, maybe they would be sleeping…"
Kassia shrugged. “I imagine, but we have no idea and no idea when. We don’t even know when they become aware and what factors affect them possibly noticing the people around them. Maybe...maybe if I only brought you in occasionally and at night. That might be okay.”
Kodah nodded swiftly.
"I'll do it," he said. He would have agreed to anything if it would keep him on Kassia's staff. "Please," he added. And Kodah never asked for anything.
That earned him a nod. “I’ll send word over to work out an appropriate schedule. You can finish your shift today.”
Kodah relaxed for a moment before resuming his usual posture. He was most certainly relieved. It would be much easier for him to recover after the Hatching was over with his foot still in the proverbial door.
"Thank you, ma'am," he said.
“Thank you for all you do,” Kassia said. “You may go back to your post.”