(JP) Wait, You're Not Dead?! (Bl'by/Traynth, V'rex/Muikoth)


The issue was that Bl’by’s body hadn’t yet quite got the memo from his lungs yet about keeping it slow. For a man used to taking steps two at a time and rarely moving from place to place at a speed below a jog -- if only because you felt like you would freeze to the spot if you moved too slow in High Reaches tunnels - slowing down was hard.

The walk up to the Rim had looked a decent leg stretch so he’d told Traynth to go ahead and meet him up there, because if he didn’t get some decent exercise he was going to be good for nothing when the Healers did clear him. But no, by halfway up he was wheezing and soaked in sweat besides. Whether he liked it or not he had to pause, trying to catch his breath.

V'rex liked the Rim. It was quieter up here, and after the events lately, V'rex liked quiet. 

He was standing, leaning against his blue and idly stroking the soft hide, when Muikoth lifted his head. ((Someone's having trouble. Go see.)) 


((Go see.)) Muikoth repeated, and with a sigh, V'rex went.

Bl’by was resting his hands on his knees, not quite at the point where he would call himself ‘in trouble’ but definitely reconsidering the steepness of the slope up there. And also wishing he’d brought water. Little habits you didn’t have living in a different climate. He didn’t raise his head at the footsteps, focusing on the small steady breaths he’d been told to try.

V’rex stopped at the top of the next flight of stairs, regarded the other man below, before he moved down, further toward him. “Hey. Are you all right?” The blue rider asked, squinting at the other. They seemed familiar… His gaze flicked to the other’s knots. A blue rider, like him, then. “...Need something to drink?” 

“Just need..a minute..” There was a gasp in Bl’by’s voice that said another minute without trying to force words out might be welcome but he held a hand up as though trying to reassure.

It was then that Traynth landed at the top of the Rim, looked at the blue already there and squealed like the excited Weyrling he hadn’t been in decades. ((Muikoth??!!))

V’rex wavered, but stayed quiet, willing to comply, though the rasping breaths caused a shred of concern. Should he summon a Healer? Raspy breath like that was bad. 

((Traynth!)) Muikoth bugled greeting, the blue’s exuberant nature leading to Muikoth bouncing to his paws, and forward, to give the other blue a friendly greeting nudge. ((I remember you! Well, Mine does, so I suppose that means I do too!)) 

Draconic memory was odd. Traynth couldn’t have said how long it was since he’d last seen Muikoth and he might have struggled to remember specific incidents and Falls, but he could remember well enough that Muikoth had been friendly once, a long time ago. In a time where they knew very few people that was enough for him to greet Muikoth with enthusiasm. ((We are here now! Do you stay here too?)) The returning nudge might have been enough to knock Muikoth over had Traynth not been significantly smaller than the younger blue.

Excited draconic messages passed between dragon and rider and Bl’by raised his head, startled, reaching for an almost forgotten name. “V’rex?” He searched the other rider’s face for a moment then broke into a broad grin, despite the struggle to catch his breath. “Shells! It is you!”

Muikoth bugled once more, and fairly danced on his paws, though, predictably, he stumbled after a moment, and stopped, settling for another bugle, eyes whirling in delighted surprise. Traynth was a friend, and his rider even knew Traynth’s! 

“Bl’by?” V’rex couldn’t hide the complete and utter shock on his face, mentally jarred, just a little bit, as once more his not so wonderful past seemed to step right into his present. Great Faranth, was this going to be his life now? He’d spent so many Turns trying to just… leave it in the dust. 

“Faranth… it really is you, isn’t it?” 

“Shardit, get down here!” Bl’by gestured to him, not seeming to notice his mixed feelings. “Another flight of these fecking stairs is going to kill me, possibly literally at that.”

V’rex blinked and then seemed to shake off the frozen-ness, trotted down the stairs the rest of the way to stop the next step above Bl’by. “What are you even doing here? Do you need a healer, or to be flown back down, or something?” Deal with the smaller things first. 

“It’s fine.” There was still a slight whistle when Bl’by breathed in, but he could talk again and right now there were more important things. He reached to grab V’rex in a friendly grasp, hauling him closer for inspection, forgetting for a minute issues of personal space.

V’rex yelped as he was grabbed and dragged in for a hug, but at least his fight or flight instincts were sufficiently dulled by so long away from Fort, and after a moment, he went more or less still in Bl’by’s grasp, accepting the hug, even if his reciprocation was a little weak. 

“Sorry!” Bl’by caught the panic and was quick to release him, though it came with a friendly pat on the shoulder. He’d always been the tactile type, and High Reaches had been a tactile kind of place and while he might freeze in the presence of a ranker who got too close he occasionally forgot other people might do the same around him. Still, he was grinning as he inspected V’rex. “Shells, man, I thought you were dead!

V’rex blinked at him, then ducked his head, old memories resurfacing. “I heard the commotion and .. bolted.” he admitted, after a long moment. “Seems like everyone from there’s popping up here now.” The words were more tired than bitter, however, the blue rider resigned for the most part. It wasn’t as if *he* could do anything about it. “Been here since… you know.” 

“Well, we all bolted, it’s why we’re not dead,” Bl’by said pragmatically, looking V’rex up and down. He nodded to his face. “New scar?”

“Thread got me in the face, not even a sixmonth after I got down here.” V’rex responded. “Ducked between instantly of course. Healer said it was close.” A shrug, and then he was looking Bl’by over in return. “You sound like Traynth sat on you.”

Bl’by tapped his chest. “Scar’s messy but healed just fine but they said I managed to breathe the char in,” he explained. “So, not allowed to stay around snow any more, apparently the cold was making it all worse. Hoping a few days here and they’ll let me back to drills.” And he did mean hoping, Bl’by needed the routine of Fall and drills to know who he was.

V’rex winced. “That sounds.. Unpleasant.” he responded, after a long moment. “And I’m no Healer, but maybe you’ll be allowed to do drills first, then Fall after a bit? The wing you’re assigned will probably determine that.” 

“Weyrleader N’shen’s wing. And I’ll take whatever we can get,” Bl’by admitted. “It’d be different if we arrived and then got injured, you know? Then at least people would know what we could do already.”

“You’re in with one of the Weyrleaders?” V’rex winced. “I don’t envy you. No, I try to stay as far away as I can from that, thank you very much.” 

“I’m not exactly overjoyed about it my own self.” They were standing on steps in the middle of nowhere and still Bl’by lowered his voice. “He bad news? I can take strict fine, it’s the ones who turn on you..”

“I don’t make it a point to *know* any rankers.” V’rex responded. “But… Arolos is fair, that I’ve seen my Turns here.” he added, reluctant. “A brown, Talith, caught Foreth too, and R’tal didn’t seem like he was under any kind of punishment…” Then again, the man did have a monster at his side.

Bl’by breathed out, because that could be worse news. “Who catches, catches. Any Wingleader could more or less,” he pointed out. “They’re no more or less decent because their dragons managed it.” He shrugged a little. “Weyrleader F’loran was-- well.” Bl’by would probably have quietly drowned in his own lungs if allowed if it meant staying in F’loran’s wing. “Best Wingleader I’ve worked under. More than decent.” The words said one thing. The emphasis behind the words still implied a fair amount of hero worship however.

“There’s a wing led by a greenrider here.” V’rex offered. “And dragons even smaller than your Traynth. I’d wager not even the browns are as big as him. I think that pretty much means this Weyr is different.” 

Bl’by had been calm enough discussing the Weyrleader. The grimace at that statement was probably entirely unexpected; not one of disgust but of..for a moment almost panic. “..Sorry,” he apologised after a minute where his eyes had glassed over, clearly talking to Traynth. “I-- just say that again?”

“There’s tiny dragons.” V’rex repeated. “Browns about the same size as your Traynth, if not smaller.” 

“Not that. Someone mentioned those,” Bl’by said. “The..other thing.”

“They put a greenrider in charge of that wing.” V’rex responded, dutifully. “And there’s a green Wingthird in another wing- R’lian, I think his name is.” 

There was a pause, a long awkward pause. Bl’by’s hand half crept to his mouth before he consciously lowered it. “I.. want Traynth,” he said after a minute. “How many stairs do we have left?”

-Muikoth get your tail down here.- 

((Hold on a moment please, Traynth!)) Muikoth told the other blue cheerily, and then quickly lofted into the air, flew down to where his rider was a fourth of the way down from the Rim, to awkwardly hover there. 

Traynth followed, of course Traynth followed. Because hey, Muikoth was going to his rider and his rider was right there and he could feel the waves of panic coming off him no matter how calm he looked. It was steep and he landed awkwardly, but close enough to nudge at Bl’by.

“Thanks.” Bl’by reached automatically to rest a hand against the dark hide. “Didn’t think of that.”

“It’s no problem.” V’rex shrugged, glanced his own blue’s direction, just in time to see Muikoth manage an almost vertical landing, clinging to a sheer side of the Rim a few yards away. ((I meant to do that.)) the blue asserted, gripping on for dear life. 

V’rex groaned. “Don’t fall.” 

“Clever lad!” Bl’by clearly assumed that the landing too had been intentional, much calmer the moment he could actually touch his dragon. He gave Muikoth an admiring nod. “You two have clearly been practicing.”

“If he falls off, I’m disowning him.” V’rex responded in a grumble, but the look he gave Muikoth was impressed at that. 

The blue just looked incredibly startled at managing the maneuver, clinging on now, before he arched his neck proudly. 

((I have never landed like this before.)) he told Traynth. ((I am heavy.)) 

Traynth laughed silently. ((Don’t tell them, mine thinks you are being clever,)) he said. ((You have wings. Just fly off.))

A moment of consideration, and then Muikoth opened his wings, flapping them and pushing off at the same time to once more spiral to the top of the Rim.

“All right then, you my lift back up there, are you?” Bl’by said out loud to Traynth. “Let’s see if I can pull this off without falling down the stairs.”

It was a little tight, but the pair of them knew each other well enough for Traynth to counter any issues caused by a slip. And Bl’by was very clearly much much happier once he was on his blue’s back. 

“Meet you up there?”

V’rex nodded, gestured for the other dragonrider pair to go. “Sure. Land by Muikoth?” he offered, and then turned to head back up the stairs. 

It was an easy little hop, and one completed quickly enough. Bl’by slid off and then came to greet Muikoth with the same enthusiasm he had his rider.

“Muikoth! Shells, were you this big before you left?” He reached to give the blue a hearty pat on his neck. “Shards, it’s good to see you again.”

Muikoth crooned in delight, nudged Bl’by gently. ((It is good to see you, Traynth, and Yours too! Tell him that please?)) he asked the other blue. ((Mine is nearly here.)) 

((He knows,)) Traynth assured him, amused and still delighted to see a familiar face. There was more than one way of saying hello and Bl’by was as happy to hear it in touch and in a croon as in words. 

“He’s looking good, V’rex,” he greeted the other rider as V’rex made it up the steps. “And that landing stunt of his was really something.”

“Thank you.” The compliment, even from another blue rider, made V’rex light up a bit more, even as he approached his beast and the other pair, giving Muikoth’s shoulder an affectionate pat. “Muikoth is as clumsy as ever. Honestly, I’m as amazed as you are. I half expected him to fall off, the ridiculous thing.” 

“Get him to practice it. Probably be useful for something.” What, Bl’by had no idea, but it looked like the kind of maneuver that could be useful somewhere. He reached up to give Muikoth’s headknobs a friendly scratch in much the same way he’d give a man a friendly nudge to say hello. “How’ve you both been?” 

“He’s clumsy enough on the ground. I don’t want him to strain himself somehow and end up grounded, spend *more* time on the ground.” V’rex answered, then let out a sigh. “We’ve been well. Trying to stay as invisible as possible, you know.” 

“Ah, let him try. Where’s the fun in flying if you can’t take risks?” Bl’by said cheerfully. The briefly unnerved feeling on the steps had passed; Traynth was at his back and he’d found someone he used to know. It was safe to be happy.

“Taking risks gets you noticed.” V’rex responded. “I’d… rather not be noticed.” 

“There’s good noticing and bad noticing, isn’t there, lad?” That last was directly to Muikoth rather than V’rex. “You want to be noticed for being amazing, don’t you?”

Muikoth arched his neck proudly. ((I can fly a whole Fall!)) he announced, directly to Bl’by this time. ((But then I am very tired and need to sleep.)) 

“I’d rather not have *any* kind of attention.” V’rex put in. “Not from ranking riders, at least. Did you know they all have whers?” 

“Like watchwhers?” Bl’by asked. “Well, I guess they need guarding.” He fussed over Muikoth with his hands still, Traynth at his back quite happy with his rider giving another dragon that kind of attention. Muikoth was a friend, and besides, it was just how Bl’by said ‘I like you’. 

“Like- actual whers, unchained, just… laying around.” V’rex was starting to sound a bit strained at the memory. “The Weyrleader- one of them- he had a great big brown beast just… just laying there. Watching me.” 

“Hey. Hey, it’s fine.” And something in that tone made Bl’by turn from scratching at Muikoth’s headknobs to pat V’rex on the shoulder. “I know now. It’s fine. Don’t worry.” There was an earnest note in that, a ‘please don’t get upset’.

V’rex relaxed at that pat, looked a bit sheepish once he’d realized the way his tone had changed at his last words. “He said it wouldn’t do anything, but…” he let the words trail away. “It’s the Weyrleader. And I.. I was in there telling him something I’m starting to think he didn’t care about.” 

“It’s fine, it’s fine.” Bl’by set a hand on both shoulders now, voice soothing. “You’re out. You’re in one piece, right? And you’re probably not important enough that if he didn’t care he probably didn’t even remember you.”

“I thought so too- but then he had me assigned to his wing.” V’rex responded, the blue rider sounding not half as convinced as he wished he was. “Eight Turns. Eight turns I avoided any kind of notice, and now suddenly there’s Fort bronzers everywhere and the Weyrleader has a wher and knows who I am.” 

“V’rex.” Bl’by gave him a very gentle shake, leaned to set a kiss on his forehead. “Calm down. You’ll upset Muikoth.”

V’rex went still, startled, before his gaze shot to Bl’by’s face, the younger rider taking a deep, if slightly ragged, breath. “..R-right.” he managed to respond, swallowed again. 

((Mine?)) Muikoth leaned in, predictably, though the blue’s eyes whirled a calm blue-green still. He bunted Bl’by with his nose. ((You made Mine’s fuzziness go away.)) 

“Sorry, lad.” Bl’by took that as reproof and released V’rex, stepping away to let the dragon in easier. “Didn’t mean to take your spot but he was upset.”

((You should do that more often.)) Muikoth told him, almost primly, but lowered his head to nudge his own rider. ((Mine, you should tell Traynth’s thank you.)) 

V’rex snorted a not quite laugh. “....Muikoth says to tell you thanks.” he added, when the blue gave him an expectant look. 

“He’s welcome.” Bl’by raised his hand automatically to pat the blue, assuming thanks for calming V’rex down. “Keep it steady now. Might be the Weyrleader’s just impressed by your flying. Not Weyrleader N’shen is it?” Because he assumed he would have noticed a wher.

“The- the other one.” V’rex ducked his head, because Faranth if that made no sense to him. “R’tal, and- and brown Talith. Brown dragon, brown wher.” He shuffled his feet, avoiding looking at either Bl’by or Muikoth. “And I- I don’t see how it could be anything but… but what I did, but if I go to anyone, they’re just going to say it’s different here, and look at me oddly, or they’ll tell him and then I’ll wind up back in his office, or grounded, and I’m fine. Muikoth shouldn’t be taken from the sky for as long as I can manage. How hard can it be to go back to not being noticed?” 

Left unspoken was the fact that he thought Bl’by wouldn’t be doing any reporting. 

“May I touch him, Muikoth?” Because the dragon was right there and it was polite to ask, even if V’rex blatantly needed someone to right now.

((He promises he won’t hurt him,)) Traynth added. ((He’s worried though. Is yours okay?))

Muikoth’s head lifted just a bit, to regard Bl’by solemnly. ((Yes.)) he answered, simply, and added, to Traynth, ((Mine was okay but then a gold and bronze and brown were hurt, and the poor eggs didn't hatch, and Slarkenth’s and Resmeinth’s both came and Mine was not okay anymore.)) Maybe the events were out of order, but they’d all happened, that much the blue was certain of, and all of them together only made his rider more nervous. ((Mine does not want to go to the people that talk at him.))

((It’s okay.)) And Traynth might not have context for half of those events, but he could understand ‘my rider isn’t quite right just now’ without needing to. He shifted closer to the other blue, providing the comfort through touch that he didn’t have words for. ((They just get not-right sometimes.)) Bl’by as much as anyone, and he knew that feeling of anxiety leaking down through the bond.

“C’mon.” Bl’by threw a gentle arm around V’rex’s shoulders, pulling him close again. “Come and sit down near Muikoth before we get to scaring the boys.”

((I don't like it when Mine isn't right.)) Muikoth sighed and leaned against Traynth a bit.

V’rex let Bl’by put an arm around him, guide him over closer to their blues, though the whirling hints of yellow in Muikoth's gaze suggested the stress in V’rex’s mood. “O-okay.” He agreed shakily. 

Bl’by sat them down with Muikoth at their backs, close enough to touch, close enough to lean against. His arm stayed around the younger man’s shoulders, keeping him close. “Rough sevenday?” he said frankly.

“It's been more than a sevenday.” V’rex responded, his voice abruptly sounding tired, bitter, Muikoth's soothing rumble not enough to fully relax his rider. The younger blue rider took another shaky breath, leaned a bit more against Bl’by. “I thought it was long over. That I was *safe*. But- now? I just…”

Bl’by leaned back against Muikoth, not interrupting, arm tucked around V’rex. Sometimes people just needed a few minutes to get it out.

“I just… I don't know if I- if anything…” V'rex tried and failed to find the words. “It's like- Like I thought things were fine, but now… I just *don't know*.”

And that Bl’by could sympathise with. “Yeah, I know that one. Easier when you know it’s going to be bad sometimes, yeah? At least then you can brace.”

V'rex was nodding before the older rider was even quite finished, though he shivered. “I know- I've been here a long time, but I- it's still… hard.” He responded after a moment. “I almost wish- things would be easier if I could just forget, or the rankers would act… predictably. But they don't, and I've seen things that wouldn't slide anywhere else, let go here, and it's always some kind of disaster, and there's whers everywhere.”

If it had come out of someone else’s mouth, or even V’rex’s mouth when he was feeling calmer, Bl’by might have gone away and thought long and hard about going home to High Reaches. But it had the sound of a freak-out to it. He’d had enough of those himself to know that if you went back and someone asked ‘but what exactly did they say’ it would come down to an odd look, a poorly phrased word, a request they didn’t realise would take the ground from under you. People didn’t have to mean to be frightening to set that off. 

“Talk to Muikoth,” he reminded V’rex instead, gently. “Or you’ll be scaring him.”

Muikoth, finally acknowledged, gave a soft croon, brought his head closer, and V’rex automatically reached out, resting a hand on the blue's muzzle. --Muikoth?--

((It's all right.)) The blue answered both of them, bravely despite his rider’s inner tumult. ((I can be strong.))

“Mm.” Bl’by pressed his lips together a moment. Traynth had been brave too, far too long as it turned out. “Keep an eye on that,” he advised V’rex quietly. 

V’rex nodded, shaky still, but trying to calm down, Bl’by and Muikoth's words and support helping. “I- I will.” A pause, and then he offered a sigh. “I'm being ridiculous, aren't I?” He asked. “Everyone says Arolos is the best Weyr.” 

Bl’by shrugged. “Everyone says whatever Weyr they live in is the best Weyr,” he pointed out. “Shells, everyone said Ista was the best Weyr and that.. That was..” He grimaced a moment. “I liked High Reaches personally.”

“I remember High Reaches.” V’rex responded. “So much snow…” 

He paused. “Arolos is better than Fort was.”

“I liked snow,” Bl’by admitted, a little wistfully. He leaned his weight more heavily against Muikoth, feeling the sun beating down and a shirt already sweated through. “So sharding hot here.”

“It's cooler in the evening.” V'rex answered, grateful for the subject change. “And the Lake always feels nice.”

Muikoth opened one wing over them for shade. 

He sighed. “Yes. I felt your cooler last night. It felt very slightly less like being cooked alive.” It wasn’t a serious grumble, but still. “Did you mention having water?”

“Aye.” V'rex answered, and handed over the flask he always kept filled with water. “Here.” 

“Thanks.” Bl’by drank deeply before he handed it back. “Need to get one of those, I suspect. This didn’t look so high from the bottom.”

V'rex handed it right back. “Keep it. I'll get another one.” He told Bl’by. “And I usually have Muikoth fly me up. It's.. nice up here. Good view.” 

And usually quiet.

“Wanted a leg stretch.” He patted his chest ruefully. “This takes some getting used to. That and if we were home, I’d just be starting to get warmed up by the time we were halfway up. Here, halfway up feels like you’re dying.”

V'rex winced. “I'd say take it easy at first but I know you're not the type. Going between different climate extremes can be… hard.” 

“Thought I was taking it easy.” He laughed at that. “At home -- well, before I managed this stupid thing - I’d be running up.”

V'rex nodded in response. “But you're hurt now. It makes sense that some things would be harder…”

“Yeah. Doesn’t feel hurt though. Just feels--” he patted his chest again “--like you can’t get your breath. Weyrleader spotted it at home when I kept needing to go down for a breather.”

“Maybe the warmer climate will help.” V’rex offered quietly. “I like the weather here.”

“That’s the idea. If I’m very lucky it improves enough that I get to go home, but they don’t seem to think that likely.” High Reaches was home still right now, pure and simple. Bl’by took another gulp of water. “You could though,” he added thoughtfully. “If you’re not happy here.”

“... And run away?” V’rex responded, let out another long sigh. “It’s the Weyrleaders that would need to sign off on a transfer, in any case. I- Muikoth likes it here. He’s got friends.” He couldn’t take Muikoth away from that. “Besides,” he added, trying and failing at levity, “where else is going to be filled with flits?” 

Bl’by laughed at that. “That part’s true enough. Traynth doesn’t remember even seeing a firelizard before. He’s fascinated.”

“They’re everywhere, wild and tame creatures.” V’rex nodded. “There’s even a special Hold down here that breeds firelizards that are bigger and smarter than the wild kind.” he added. “I- I’ve been kind of- wanting one. They’d be good at warning of danger, I think. And they won’t maul you like- a wher would.” 

“If it would make you happy,” Bl’by said agreeably. He’d never felt as though he had room in his head for more than Traynth but others did and that was fine. “Muikoth all right with it?”

“Muikoth adores the little things.” V’rex responded. “He’s always talking to them, inviting them to sun with him.” 

“Then I’d do that.” He’d have agreed if V’rex had said he wanted to move Weyrs or take up a hobby. He’d agree with just about anything that seemed harmless and as though it might cheer V’rex up.

“Maybe I will, next Gather. I haven’t been spending marks on anything, after all.” V’rex answered. 

“Good plan.” The arm around V’rex’s shoulder gave him a light squeeze. “How’s Muikoth been doing?”

“He’s well.” V’rex answered, and took that opportunity to lean against Bl’by, even snuggle in a bit. “He likes it here. Flirts with all the greens.” 

“Not catching your uneasiness then?” Bl’by had never been one to turn away from someone who clearly needed a little contact. Given just the smallest encouragement he shifted, the loose arm around V’rex pulling him closer, into a full-on hug. 

“Mostly not.” V’rex answered, and all but melted against the older rider. “He only got nervous when I was talking to R’tal. Appealed to Talith for me.” 

“Did it work?” Given the slightest resistance Bl’by would have released him, but it felt as though V’rax was relaxing so he coaxed him gently closer, almost into his lap.

“He didn’t set his wher on me, so it must have.” V’rex answered, resting against Bl’by in that same melty way, letting the other man coax him closer, wriggling into a more suitable position, and proceeding to snuggle further. “Miss feeling safe like this.” 

“You only had to ask.” Bl’by kissed him again, light on the forehead then equally light on the lips. 

V’rex sighed, draped against Bl’by, and then kissed back, on the lips. 

Muikoth extended a wing, courteously, to block them out a little bit. 

They were less passionate than they were soothing, reassuring kisses; Bl’by’s hand moving lightly over V’rex’s back as he held him and advancing no further than that. “It will be okay,” he said, as though he were trying to calm Traynth. “We’ll fix it.” 

V’rex wriggled, shifted just a bit more so that he was *in* Bl’by’s lap, kissing back just as gently, hesitantly even, a few more on the mouth, and then down to the other rider’s neck. “Trust you.” he murmured after a moment, reaching up with a hand to stroke Bl’by’s cheek. “You’re safe. I *know* you.” 

“V’rex.” And kissing was lovely, and maybe Arolos was a lot warmer and people were different here but Bl’by was still used to High Reaches norms enough to very gently shift V’rex back a touch when it seemed likely to lead to more. “Right out in the open, lovely.” It wasn’t a scold, and Bl’by’s hand was still there rubbing soothing circles on his back but it was a still a firm ‘no’ as far as that went. 

V’rex seemed to realize that- and the fact he was doing what he’d *just* reported to R’tal about- and shrank down a little. “...Sorry sir.” he offered, practically a default response at this point. 

And Bl’by had done that too often himself to do anything other than pull him close again. “It’s fine. It’s fine. Just, I’m fairly sure people can see us from down there and we don’t need that big an audience, hey?”

“We don’t.” And Bl’by might still be soothing, but V’rex had regained enough of his sense that he didn’t re-initiate cuddling, just let Bl’by hold him. “It wasn’t my intention. I forgot myself a moment.” 

“Very..polite.” Bl’by didn’t push that, let the kisses drop but kept his arms around the younger man. “Another time,” he promised. “You find me when it’s not a dragonride or a sharding long walk to somewhere private, and maybe wait until I can do more than kiss without feeling like I’m dying and I’m all yours.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” V’rex promised, and then, finally, let the contact drop, shifting away. “I should… probably get to Muikoth’s bath. He likes to sun up here first, and then get a scrub.” 

Bl’by let him go, releasing him without objection, but reached to touch his shoulder gently. “I mean it,” he said. “Catch me after a Fall. You remember how it used to be after Falls?” Threadfalls had a tendency to leave Bl’by giddy with a mixture of adrenalin and relief. He’d slept with… probably a fair amount of the Wing at Fort at some time or another after a Fall. Anyone willing straight after a Fall always seemed like a good idea.

“I remember.” V’rex offered Bl’by a faint smile and a nod. “You keep getting better. See the Healers if you need to.” he added. 

“I’m seeing the Healers, I swear!” Bl’by assured him. “But-- I could use friends here. Don’t run away, okay?” 

“I’ll… have Muikoth tell Traynth where we live, if you ever want to come over.” V’rex offered. “I don’t really go out other than Fall and drills.” 

“Thank you.” Bl’by sounded like he meant it. “Maybe meet me in the Dining Hall some days?” And that wasn’t all for V’rex’s benefit. If he was going to face down rumours and whispers about Ista he was going to need friends and Cuylar wouldn’t always be around.

“I’ll try?” V’rex answered after a moment. “You can always have Traynth bespeak Muikoth, whenever you want.” he added. 

“Thank you.” Another light shoulder-pat; sometimes it felt inconceivable that Bl’by should say anything to a friend without actually touching them in some way. “I will.”

V’rex gave him a return pat on the shoulder, and then turned away, toward Muikoth, the blue dipping his shoulder slightly for V’rex to climb aboard. 

((Goodbye.)) the blue told Traynth and Bl’by both, before shaking out his wings and stepping off the Rim to glide back down toward the Lake.