V’rex yawned, stirring, still a little bit sleepy after Muikoth’s energetic pursuit of the green. He hadn’t won- a quick check of the dozing blue confirmed that, but he still felt… good. Warm, and contented.
R’tal hadn’t exactly meant to get tangled in a flight; Faranth knew Talith wasn’t up to rising right now. However, if you happened to be near a flightroom when someone came staggering in your direction.. Well, things happened, and if he hadn’t planned it then he hadn’t been unwilling either.
Still, it meant he had been the part of the pairing who had been in his own mind rather than his dragon’s. He might well have slipped away post-flight if the younger man hadn’t been quite so thoroughly tangled around him, and he hadn’t quite the heart to break through the after-flight buzz enough to force the issue.
“Hey there,” he said cheerfully as V’rex finally looked to be coming back to himself. “You had quite the flight it seems.”
“Mrmph.” V’rex responded, still not quite awake enough to process who the voice belonged to, though after a moment, and another yawn, he released the other man to stretch, letting his eyes open.
A sleepy blink- and then realization and recognition hit him all at once, and he yelped, jerking back as if burnt, eyes wide. “Sir! I- I- Apologies, sir, I can go right now.”
R’tal laughed at him, though gently enough. “What, you don’t think rankers’ dragons chase?” he asked mildly, the lack of surprise in his tone suggesting that this wasn’t the first time he’d seen that reaction. “Relax. There’s no rush to dash off. I don’t know which green was rising but it felt like half the weyr was chasing. Someone was clearly popular.”
“Golds, maybe.” V’rex responded, still wary, though the immediate fight or flee response had eased enough that he relaxed, just a little. He still gripped the blanket a tad closer. “I don’t know who it was either.” he started to answer, and Muikoth brushed his mind. ((Noketh.))
An awkward, apologetic smile. “My Muikoth says Noketh flew.” He still didn’t know who that was.
Another pause. “I’d… offer to make you klah, sir, but…”
“Ha. Time was a green couldn’t rise in this Weyr without Talith going after her.” When had that stopped? R’tal wasn’t sure, but green-chasing was a much rarer thing now even before the accident. Getting old, the pair of them. “Muikoth not chase that much?”
“Not often, sir.” V’rex responded, meekly. “He’ll favor this green, or that, for a few Flights, and move on, when he takes a liking to them first.” A pause. “He.. does flirt, or try to.”
“Mmm. Must make life easier. We had pregnant women all over the place at one point, Talith and I. Not something I recommend if you can avoid it.” R’tal eased his arm out gently from under V’rex, wriggling it to get the blood flowing through it. “Sorry. Pins and needles.”
V’rex inched back, the rest of the way, putting more space between them, though he nodded, slowly. “I… don’t know if I’ve ever… gotten a woman pregnant.” he responded, delicately. “...It would have to have been… here. And a greenrider, or maybe a moth.”
“As I said, occupational hazard of a dragon who likes to chase,” R’tal agreed. “Though even sticking to goldflights isn’t a foolproof remedy to that one.” He stretched, both arms above his head for a moment. “You know I am sorry but I’ve forgotten your name.”
Could he lie? Should he lie?
… No. No, that was a terrible idea, however much V’rex wanted this whole thing to be over with and forgotten. He still swallowed, nervous, and his gaze slid away from the ranker’s. “...V’rex, sir. Of blue Muikoth.”
“V’rex,” R’tal repeated pleasantly, as though fixing the name in his head. A pause. “And do you look at all rankers as though they’re about to eat you, V’rex,” he said, still pleasant, “or is it just me?”
“I don’t-” V’rex began, faltered, and tried again. “I try not to make a habit of attracting attention, sir.” he tried again. “Better to keep our heads down and do what we’re supposed to. Better for the Weyr, better for us.”
“We’re in bed together,” R’tal pointed out. “Fairly sure I didn’t hurt you because.. Well, I feel like I would have known. But it’s not exactly a place to be able to avoid attention.”
“No sir.” V’rex responded, then shook his head. “You didn’t hurt me, sir.” he added. “It was… good.” An awkward pause, and then he’s adding, “I meant… in general, sir.”
“So, relax.” R’tal urged lightly. “General Weyr rules for flights are once we leave this room nothing happened anyway. Well, unless there are consequences like pregnancy.” Or like an accidental Weyrleadership but that was unlikely to happen here. “But normal rules get suspended until that point. It’s fine.”
A moment of hesitation later, and then, finally, V’rex was complying, allowing himself to sink back down onto the bed. “Yessir.” he answered. “...Thank you, sir.” It could have been worse- he could have been immediately kicked out.
“Lucky for you one of us was in our right mind so I’m fairly sure your clothes are around here and still in one piece,” R’tal said cheerfully, swinging his legs out of bed. “Did Muikoth have a good flight by the by?”
“...He did.” V’rex responded. “Wore himself out, I think.”
“Good. You never know if they’re going to be happy at a good chase afterwards or if they’re going to sulk, do you?” R’tal fished around the floor and tossed a shirt over his shoulder at V’rex. “But you looked happy enough coming out.”
“Muikoth’s not the sulky type.” V’rex responded, starting to tug the shirt on. “Sometimes I think he’s deliberately cheery just for me, though.”
“Ah, they do that sometimes,” R’tal pulled his pants on then glanced back at V’rex, face serious for a moment. “Are you so unhappy here?”
“..what? No!” V’rex scrambled to explain- and also go for his pants, tugging them on. “I like it here, sir. It’s nice weather, if hot, and there’s- it feels like there’s always something happening. I’m just… My whole life, up til coming here, it was either ‘get attention for being the best, or avoid attention entirely.”
“Look. I was teasing a little before.” And R’tal was grave now, pausing in his gathering of clothes for the moment to turn fully on the bed to look at V’rex. “But if Muikoth is feeling the need to cheer you up--”
“Not all the time.” V’rex responded. “And.. and I’ve a firelizard now, of my own- I got him at the Gather, Bl’by convinced me to go. He’s been… good… to have, too. The firelizard.”
“Bl’by..” The name was familiar. “He’s N’shen’s Margana, isn’t he? Paperwork person. Helps keep the office in order.”
“Yessir.” V’rex nodded. “I’ve known him a long while. He’s a good man.”
“Came from High Reaches, didn’t he? Before--” R’tal’s brain cut in before he could go further and possibly spill details Bl’by might not want gossiped around the Weyr. “Well, I’m glad he’s settling in.”
“Before Fort.” V’rex agreed, terse, and then moved on as well. “I am too. Arolos is a good place.”
“When you’re not being scared out of your wits.” R’tal looked almost sad as he pulled his shirt on and started to button it up. It was crumpled but it would do for long enough to go home and change. “You know I really really don’t bite.”
“I’m trying.” V’rex answered, quiet. “It’s just- I forget, sometimes.”
R’tal reached over and very gently gave his shoulder a nudge. “Am I this terrifying?”
“...No.” V’rex responded, tried a wry not quite smile. “You’ve been fair. More than fair. I’m grateful.” A glance up at R’tal, straightening slightly. “Muikoth said, when we were assigned to your wing, that he’s happy to fly under Talith’s command. That’s as true as ever.”
“Just got a little taken aback by a flight with someone you didn’t expect?” R’tal guessed, and smiled back. “Well. That happens.”
“It does.” V’rex agreed, and relaxed further, finally standing, and stretching again. “...Do you want Muikoth to bring Talith anything? He- we- are happy to help.”
“No.” R’tal grimaced a little at the offer. “Talith needs a little motivation to start getting things on his own, but you needn’t tell Muikoth that.”
“I won’t.” V’rex promised, grimaced himself. “As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’m going to tell him anything but that you said no thanks. He’s not very good at secrets.”
“Thanks. DragonHealers want me to push him a little,” R’tal said, as casually as though V’rex were a friend and not a random rider he’d somehow ended up in a flightroom with. “I seem to be missing a boot.”
“That makes sense.” V’rex responded, with another nod, and glanced around. A quick check under the bed, and “Is this it?” he asked, holding a boot up.
“It is. Thank you.” R’tal reached over to take it from him, tugging it on. “There now, we look nearly civilised.”
V’rex found his own boots, starting to tug them on. “You’re welcome, sir. And if you ever need anything… from either of us- feel free to have Talith bespeak Muikoth. We’ll come.”
Reli chose that moment to pop in from Between, chittering a greeting as the small brown landed on his person’s shoulder.
“Mmm. And if someone scares you -- intentionally or not -- come and talk to me?” R’tal suggested gently in return. “These things can be resolved.”
“...If you’re not otherwise occupied… I will.” V’rex promised, quiet but certain.
“Good. And if I am occupied, Margana will tell you.” R’tal gave him a friendly nod as he stood up. “She’s very good at guarding my door.”
V’rex nodded, and started to move for the door to open it, allow R’tal to precede him out if he wished. “I’ll remember that, sir.”