Who: Ixia and Kironen
When: Month 13, 201 AT
Where: Ixia’s Weyr/Path, Honshu Weyrhold
What: Zerujath’s impending flight causes some… issues.

Sleep has been easier for Kironen since moving into Ixia’s home and ending each long day before the warmth of her fireplace. It isn’t his own home but it’s more familiar and quieter than the dorms. Kironen is an unobtrusive roommate; his presence in Ixia’s life is nothing more than a blanket that gets folded and hidden next to the couch each morning and a few very limited articles of clothing provided by the Weyrhold’s stores kept in one bottom drawer of a dresser. It’s the middle of the night when he’s finally finished assisting in the infirmary and quietly returns home. His dark hair is still damp and forms perfect ringlets around the collar of his jacket, though the winter chill has him stripping out of his outer layers and heading straight for the fireplace without a second glance around the main living space.

Maybe she’s simply been good at hiding it before. Zerujath is a changeable soul, one day delighted to see absolutely everyone, the next a quiet and contemplative sort, these alterations never seemingly for one reason or another and Ixia often following her lead. Whatever the case, Ixia has never appeared to be //too much// of anything, the unavoidable workings of her life as rider ones she has never mentioned, nor alluded to beyond her illicit time-skipping. However, it certainly //isn’t// the case when Kironen returns, for she appears in the doorway of her room and does little more than watch him, her arms knotted across the base of her ribcage in an uncharacteristically closed off manner, her gaze fixed on him and gleaming in the low light of the hearth. Moments pass, seconds ticking in minutes before she murmurs, “…Maybe you should sleep elsewhere tonight.”

Kironen hasn’t raised the issue of Ixia’s time-manipulation ever since he began sleeping over, whether that means he’s abandoned his worries altogether or not. Perhaps his concerns are buoyed by the knowledge of her safety, being in such close quarters. Kironen kneels in front of the fire and reaches for the fire iron and a spare piece of firewood to rearrange the flaming logs already stacked within the fireplace. Harmless golden embers fly up through the flames as her voice startles his concentration and he drops the log he’s turning. Fire-lit gaze swings her way, a warm smile sliding into his lips to greet her. Confusion dampens his mirth slightly at its corners and he grows still as he watches her. “… Did I do something?”

“Um… No,” Ixia starts to say, tightening her arms around herself as she inches closer to the doorframe and leans there. “No, never,” she insists with a shake of her head, not quite able to find the words to explain herself yet. “…It’s just…” She has to close her eyes and duck her head to continue, unable to keep his gaze. “Zerujath’s going to rise and I feel… like I want //company//… and I don’t want to do anything I shouldn’t and make you feel like it’s not okay to stay here anymore.” She glances up as if she’d gauge his response, then looks right back down again. “I like you a lot and maybe I like you more than that, but I’m older than the girls you should be with and I don’t want to make a fool of myself because my green made me feel like I ought to do things I shouldn’t.” As her words catch up with her brain, she flinches and gives another shake of her head, turning back towards her room.

A quiet tension in Kironen’s shoulders relaxes at her insistence. He watches the tightening of her arms, her avoidance, and it drives his attention down and back to the fire where the flames reach for him. His teeth debate ethics into the flesh of his lower lip. He adds two logs, placing them strategically to burn long and slow before he stands and puts the fire iron back in its place next to the fireplace. “Which girls you’d rather me be with?” he wonders, rubbing his hands briefly together to brush off ash and wood. He wanders closer, stopping in the doorway by catching his hands on the doorframe. “Why shouldn’t you do what you want?”

Ixia instinctively scoots herself backwards and tries to tuck herself behind the doorframe as Kironen approaches, for all the good it does. “Ones younger than me,” she says a little roughly, gaze darting to him and away again. “Ones better than me. Ones who can control themselves better than me.” Turning another fraction, she lets her head drop back against the wall. “I shouldn’t do anything because it looks like I brought you here and let you stay here because I expected something in return. And that’s not it. It… You crept up on me. I don’t want you feeling you have to go away because I said stupid things and—“ Her eyes narrow slightly, head tilting in the direction Zerujath must rest in. “…I’ve made such a mess,” she sighs out, head bumping against the wall once more.

Kironen remains on the outside of the door, held by an invisible barrier that grows stronger the more she explains. The words that might disable it fail to come to him, and he stands in silence on the other side. All that comes to him is a long sigh and a shadow of regret mingled with annoyance that hangs in his dark eyes, half-hidden behind the fall of his curling dark hair. “You don’t know–.” He pushes away from the doorframe and finds his jacket. “You’re right. You’re not yourself. And it’s not right for me to take advantage. I’ll go.” He swallows and stuffs an arm into one of his jacket’s sleeves as he ducks out the door into the cold. If Ixia lets him leave, he doesn’t return. He reports for his duties with the wing, as normal, but whether it’s pride or coincidence that keeps him occupied his whole shift with another dragonrider pair, he seems able to avoid Ixia unless she seeks him out.

She listens. She must do, yet Ixia doesn’t let herself move or speak or even breathe too loudly until she’s sure Kironen is gone. When she hears the door, she allows herself a gulp of sound that could be a sob or a wordless exclamation of frustration, then steps from the wall and curls herself back into bed until morning. Once morning arrives, she heads for the Weyrhold proper and stays there for all the nights until Zerujath chooses her moment, purging from her system all that made her speak truth, equilibrium restored. Lucky for her that she doesn’t hear the remarks that are passed from wingmate to wingmate about whose bed she was in last; lucky that she doesn’t hear whether anyone else hears them too.

Kironen isn’t a wingmate but he does work close enough to be within earshot of their rumour mill. It turns what might have been one night away into weeks, until rumours die off — however long that takes. Eventually their paths cross again, though whether it’s chance or on purpose is unclear. “Hey.” Kironen feigns normalcy with some success. He takes a deep breath and stuffs his hands in his jacket pockets. “How you been?” And perhaps because it sounds like such a foreign, empty question, he chooses to follow it with: “Zerujath seems like herself again… at least as much as I can tell. ‘Haven’t seen her much. Or you.” Which couldn’t possibly be in part due to Kironen avoiding her.

Ixia’s halfway home when she finds it’s going to be too obvious a detour to avoid Kironen and lets her feet drag to a slow stop, leaving Zerujath to trot on ahead of her, deterred none by however her rider might feel. Kironen seems better at pretending than she is, her arms folding defensively as she takes a half-step back and gives a dismissive shrug of her shoulders. “Oh, yeah… she flew. That happened. And, well… that’s over.” One arm unknots itself for long enough for her to flap one hand towards the Weyrhold. “It’s okay. You can go that way and I’ll go this way and we never have to talk about… it, or… or, you know, anything, ever again.” She never has been terribly subtle. “No hard feelings. Just… keep what I said about me and Zerujath making more hours in the day to yourself, huh?” Her twitch of a smile is not so convincing.

“No hard feelings?” Echoing her words cuts open the wound that had begun to heal. Kironen’s hands stay in his pockets and his attitude remains friendly and calm but the edges of his words are tainted with the intonation of hurt and confusion. “So… you don’t want to be… friends anymore then?” Friends. The word leaves a sour taste in his mouth, lips twisted. His hands dig deeper into his jacket pockets, trying to fight off the growing unease. Kironen closes his eyes and shakes his head, curls jostling with the effort. “Fuck, this is stupid. What happened, Ixia? Why are we weird now?”

Recoiling, Ixia takes another half-step back and stares hard at the ground. “Because I meant what I said when she was going to rise and you’ve not been anywhere near me for weeks. Girl can take a hint, you know?” She doesn’t dare look up again, though she tries another one of those not-quite smiles. “…I’ve never told anyone that I like them before. I guess I’ve never really liked anyone properly before. It’s not like I’ve spent much time alone with anyone. Not had time.” Or had too much time. “What I’m saying is… you don’t have to feel sorry for me. You can… be on your way and pretend I never said anything.” Finally, she manages to sneak a quick look up at him. “Or you could stay, if you want. I can keep my feelings to myself.”

Kironen’s brow softly twists with confusion. “You meant which part — the part where you said you liked me or the part where you said I was too young for you and we shouldn’t be together?” His shoulders roll in an attempt to shake off the discomfort of things yet unsaid, his jacket hiked a little higher up his neck as though bracing from the cold. Dark eyes fix on something over Ixia’s shoulder. “I stayed away because-… “ He takes a deep breath and can’t keep his eyes above her knees, suddenly. Another shrug doesn’t help ease the discomfort in his shoulders, and his lips wince gently. “I heard. For a while. About other people. I waited ‘til… ‘til it didn’t feel so shitty.” He swallows and lifts apologetic eyes up to meet hers. “I want to be your friend more than I need to… be anything more than just your friend.”

Ixia lets out a burble of humourless laughter. “Both,” she offers up easily. “Well, not exactly. I didn’t mean you’re too young for me, I meant that I’m too old for you. Faranth knows how old I really am, Kironen. I’ve been messing with time for a long… time… and I still only count from one turnday to the next.” She has the decency to blush when he mentions the others she’s reportedly been with, though straightens her shoulders at the same time and refuses to be cowed by that, of all things. “Before Zerujath flies, it’s like being on fire and it’s the only thing that’ll stop it,” she says unabashedly. “Happens to lots of greenriders. Some lock themselves up with their weyrmates ‘til it passes… and some of us don’t have weyrmates.” Another shrug. “I wanted you, but I didn’t want to hurt you and I guess I… fucked it up anyway. You don’t have to explain yourself. It’s okay.”

That timing it might be the reason behind Ixia’s choice, Kironen’s return is swift and dry. “‘Doesn’t make you old, just makes you dumb.” Kironen manages to rein the emotion mostly out of his expression and his voice, but perhaps it’s the effort to keep emotion out of his expression that is the most telling. “So… it’ll happen every time she rises? You’ll… ” He spreads his hands, and with them so deeply shoved in his jacket pockets, it just separates the front of his unbuttoned coat to expose his sweater underneath. “…-Put out the fire? And then go back to normal?” He draws his hands back to neutral, bringing the front of his jacket back into place, and swallows. “I’ll live with whatever you gotta’ do to survive, whatever makes you happy. I don’t wanna’ throw a friendship away over a stupid flight.”

Though she’s been reasonably contrite and submissive, to a point, Ixia drags some temper up from somewhere when Kironen suggests that she’s being stupid, fixing him with a glare caught between hurt and fury. “Ione’s alive, Zerujath’s alive and I’m alive – that’s all that matters. You don’t get to call me dumb for doing what I need to do.” She looks away then, trying to haul back some control, her hands curling into fists at her sides before her gaze swings back to him. “You know what? If you’re going to call me dumb, maybe I should be and just do what I wanted to do in the first place!” Neither of them are given any further warning when her feet carry her right into his space and lift her up onto tiptoe to let her press her lips to his before her doubts can command her again, the risk of humiliation fully embraced.

Anger rises to meet anger, Kironen’s dark brows arched with irritation and disappointment drawing the line of his small mouth. “Bullshit.” The instinct to protect himself against a fight wars against the hope of less violent outcomes in his expression as her watches her close the distance that separates them. That self-preservation instinct lends his hand to lift to catch her wrist if she lifts it, or find purchase in the fabric of her shirt at her collar if she doesn’t. When her lips meet his, his hand on her serves to try to pull her closer into him to deepen the kiss. It also serves to help him hold her while he pulls away. “We should get out of here. What would people say, me kissin’ some old woman right in the middle of the road?” The beginnings of a smirk warm his eyes and lift the corner of his lips.

Ixia manages to keep her hands to herself until Kironen pulls her closer, when they loosen from their fists and she grabs for the front of his jacket instead, using her hold to try and tug him down to her and lift herself higher on her toes. She teeters a little as he draws back, trying to get her balance and not rely solely on him to keep her upright, though as he speaks she deliberately inches a touch to the left and plants one of her feet right down over his so that she can gain that little bit of height and nose along his jaw as she warns, “How about you can call me dumb sometimes and //I// can call me old? You can’t have both.” She even bares her teeth and delivers a light nip for his trouble before she steps off of his foot and latches a hold on one of his hands instead. “Home. Now.”

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