Not Enough

Who: Arlet, Rori, Akanyth, Inaskashath
When: Month 11, 202 AT
Where: Honshu Weyrhold
What: The truth comes out. Some of it, anyway.

Inaskashath has slowly grown to gain control of her mental ripples throughout the Weyrhold. Her moods no longer permeate others, her control is refined and honed like the sharp edge of a treasured hatchet. Her maturity has grown with her body, though it is clear she won’t grow into a large gold. Her scars still give her trouble, requiring balms and oils from Rori to ease the discomfort of them against her growing hide. It’s a lazy spring day, with traipsing clouds floating overhead and a light breeze that keeps Rori wearing a cardigan over her dress. The pair are down by the lake, so Inaskashath can enjoy watching the coming and goings of others as she basks in the sunshine. Rori’s seated on a rock, making a pile of smooth looking stones beside her as she hums quietly.

Some males have the decency to be at least a year old before they start pursuing females, but then, Akanyth has never really had the decency to do anything that he doesn’t wish to or on schedule. He’s been chasing greens since the dawn of his eighth month, and while he may seem undisciplined and disagreeable in many matters, in catching greens it would appear that he’s found his calling. And it’s not only Honshu’s females that he has his eye on now, for with Between mastered he may visit any Weyr he wishes. It’s from another Weyr and another’s bed that he now brings Arlet home, pleased and practically purring at what he remembers of his victory, if not the green herself. He splashes down into the shallows of the lake, where Arlet begins to clamber down his straps, unbuckling them as she goes, until she can safely jump down to the shore and haul the lot of them with her.

Inaskashath knows – she somehow //always// knows when Akanyth has gone off to another Weyr and caught himself yet another green. Her irritation is a flash of uncertainty that she buries beneath a cloud of fluttering butterflies and the whisper of silk ribbons on the wind. Politely, she angles her head towards the brown and greets him. << Welcome home, Akanyth >>. She returns her head to her crossed forearms and considers him. Rori looks up from her rock collecting to watch as Akanyth makes his way into the lake and Arlet removes straps before coming up the beach. She offers a wave in response, looking wistful as she asks, “Another adventure?” She and Inaskashath don’t venture out much – aside from the journeys Aerishani takes them upon to prepare them as goldriders.

There’s something in Akanyth’s touch that ripples outward, delighting in what he can catch of Inaskashath’s irritation, his presence heavy with the tang of rich wine, shadow-dust and distant laughter. << Did you miss me, my love? >> he teases, padding past her to drift into the water. “It would be nice if I could wake up in my own bed every now and then,” Arlet remarks, taking a moment or two to pick a smooth rock upon which to sit her straps and keep them from sitting in the sand. She doesn’t sound exactly irritated, yet there’s no denying the weary edge to her words, her gaze roaming after Akanyth as he moves deeper into the water, so much so that he completely disappears for a few seconds. When he resurfaces, Arlet looks back at Rori and reminds her, “You can go anywhere you want now, you know. You’ll be a junior soon enough. Don’t waste the time you have now.”

Inaskashath bristles at the mention of ‘my love’, but it’s that bristling that hides her pleasure at his remarks to her. Her ribbons twist and turn in a whirlwind of color before they slowly fall down into that shadow-dust of his. << It is no different when you are here or not here. Though it is important for you to come home, of course. >> The stately-future-queen to one of her people. She flicks her tail a few times before curling it about herself. Rori considers Arlet, unable to hide the flush that rises to her cheeks at the casual mention of Arlet’s nights away. “I don’t really know where we’d go,” she admits with a shrug, reaching her hand back to press against Inaskashath’s cheek. “I suppose we could explore, but to what purpose? It’s not like you and Akanyth. We won’t blend in.” She pauses, biting her lip and looking sidelong at Arlet to gauge if her words were flippant and possibly hurtful. “Was it..,” she hesitates, wanting to ask a question and then deciding against it with a shake of her head.

<< Maybe no different. But a lot less interesting. >> Akanyth’s assessment is delivered with a subtly louder burble of that distant laughter. << She’s right. >> Arlet. << You could go anywhere. The Sands will be your home before you know it, some bronze watching your every move. >> The taint of wine turns sour, his displeasure something he doesn’t bother to conceal, though whether it’s for the thought of the Sands and babies or a bronze minding Inaskashath is less easy to discern. “Who cares whether you blend in or not?” Arlet challenges. “People’re always going to look at goldriders more than anyone else. It’s just how it is. What kind of life is staying here because you might get stared at?” With a shrug, she makes her own assumptions about what Rori was going to ask her, looking away and across the water as she gives another nonchalant twitch of her shoulders. “…I cared the first time,” she confesses lowly. “Since it //was// the first time. Now? It is what it is.”

Inaskashath bristles at the laughter, her tail amping its tempo of tap-tap-tapping as she tries to keep her mental shields in check. She must not broadcast to the entire Weyrhold her upset. << Amorenth does not burden herself with being trapped on the Sands and Roreliuth does not seem to watch her every move >> she reminds Akanyth stiffly, her head lifting up to glower over at him in the water. << Unlike //you// I do not need to leave this Weyrhold to give chase to every dragon that wants to rise in the sky >> her ribbons slowly descend and begin to be coated with steel. Rori considers Arlet, “I would care that I don’t blend in,” she tells her, keeping her voice low as she shrugs. Her hands brush off in the pleats of her dress. “The first time seems so… intense,” she confesses, keeping her gaze on her skirts and not up at Arlet. “I’ve never–, I don’t even know if I should before. It complicates everything.” A sigh, a glance, and then she bites her lip and looks to the water. “I assume ‘it is what it is’ at least gives you pleasure?” She’s hopeful for Arlet on that question.

The flap of black, feathered wings weaves a counterpoint to that laughter when Akanyth strikes back with, << Jealous, my love? >> There’s that word again. << Don’t you worry. I won’t disgrace you by pursuing you too. >> He submerges himself again, spending longer beneath the water this time before he pops back up and spreads his wings to help him float on its surface. His rider gives another, faintly helpless, shrug. “I didn’t,” is an effort not to care about. “I haven’t, outside…” Arlet gives a vague nod towards Akanyth. “I guess it would’ve been nice to figure out whether I like boys or girls before ending up in bed with both, but it’s a bit late for that now.” She tilts her head, her focus a little distant as she considers Rori’s question. “I enjoy it,” she supposes. “It’s fun. Then, I’m mostly the one in control, being that Akanyth’s catching.” Wrinkling her nose, she says, “If you don’t, I wouldn’t let the bronzerider who wins know he’s your first.”

Inaskashath bites – her jaws snapping in irritation in akanyth’s direction. << I am not //yours// >> she reminds him curtly, << I am Rori’s and that is all who claim me >> She unfurls her wings and stretches them overhead, briefly shading Arlet and Rori with them before she pushes to a stand and stalks into the water after Akanyth. << Good >> is spoken about chasing, << You shouldn’t want to. You surely wouldn’t be able to win. I am //no// green. >> Rori looks entirely uncertain, her features a bit puckered in thought as she considers Arlet. “You’re far braver than I am. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to… test… to know? If you like one or the other? It wasn’t something you talked about back home,” she admits with a shrug, then she leans back on her palms and kicks her feet out in the sand. “I’ve time yet before I have to worry about it.” She considers Arlet briefly. “Being in control, are you– kind? You hear stories… about some,” another shrug, “and it makes you wonder how much you are caught along with your dragon. Unwillingly.”

Akanyth doesn’t appear cowed in the slightest, that laughter bursting free into true, audible range in the form of a low rumble that erupts from deep in his throat as Inaskashath heads into the water after him. << Definitely no green, >> he agrees. << They know how to have fun. You could learn a lot from them. >> Arlet shoots Rori a wry kind of smirk, a ripple of her own dry laughter accompanying it. “Well, you’re a goldrider. Everyone’ll assume you like boys. You probably like boys.” She doesn’t manage to actually look at her as she says so, lifting her gaze towards some distant point on the horizon to try and blink away any hint of regret that might flicker across her features. “If you mean have I hurt anyone, then I don’t think so. Akanyth hasn’t hurt any of the ones he’s caught, but then he’s not exactly… I mean, I know he can be unkind, but he’s not aggressive. He likes catching… He just wants everyone to enjoy it.” Making herself look at Rori now, she insists, “If you get one that hurts you, you kick him out of your bed and tell him he’s not welcome back here at all. I’ll drag him from your bed for you.”

Inaskashath’s anger ripples outwards like the water she enters, it trickles towards Akanyth and touches at nearby dragon’s minds – until a reminder is sent and she reels it back in. Sparks of orange and red flare as steel is forged in a raging hot fire. << I know how to have fun! >> she hisses at Akanyth, diving into the water and surfacing near him so that she can splash him with her emergence. Rori doesn’t know what to make of the smirk and she seems more unsure of herself as Arlet speaks on. “Why should it matter if I like boys or girls? Honshu is //not// Fort. I would not be punished for choosing to like a woman over a man.” She tightens her hands in her skirts and tenses her shoulders, somehow looking like she’s folding in on herself. “Besides,” she comments, eyes narrowing on the rock pile she’s made. “None have shown interest in //me//. So it doesn’t really matter.” She looks up at the mention of getting someone that hurts her and she pales. “I’d never,” she tells Arlet, “I wouldn’t even know what to do.”

Some dragons might dive away, some might flinch, but Akanyth just waits and accepts whatever it is Inaskashath has to throw at him, remaining perfectly still as water cascades down his neck and shoulders. Still as a statue, he looks most unimpressed, but it’s his eyes that give him away, whirling faster in vivid blues and greens. << Prove it, >> he challenges her, smooth and syrupy sweet, just as he ducks below the water and swims alongside her, surfacing only enough to tug at her tail as he goes, careful not to truly use his teeth and inflict a proper bite. “I’m not saying you should or would be punished,” Arlet declares, folding her arms across her chest. “You’d have to punish me half a dozen times over already, if that was the case. I’m just saying that people will assume you like boys because you Impressed a gold. Doesn’t mean you have to.” She huffs out a sigh. “You don’t have to accept what any of them think or want. And if you think you have to let people take liberties in a flight or otherwise, then you’re going to get really bored of me telling you that you don’t.”

Down goes the gold, using her wings to fly through the water and reach deeper depths. A trail of bubbles escape her maw as she lets her breath out in her exertion. << I am >> Inaskashath declares, diving and diving and diving. << I imagine //you// can’t keep up >>. Rori lifts her head and looks to Arlet, catching some meaning in her words. “You like women?” she asks with kind interest. “You’re very beautiful, you know. And strong. People are drawn to you, I imagine, if you let them.” Rori pauses, considering the curve of Arlet’s neck and then looking up to her meet her eyes. “You have magnetism. That’s what my mother always said I lacked.” She smiles, not bothered by that thought. “You should’ve been the goldrider,” she says before she can stop herself and then she shakes her head, “No, I don’t mean that. You’re well matched as you are and so am I. I just,” she shrugs, looking at her hands, “Struggle with my station sometimes.” She looks to the lake wistfully, “It’d be nice to be only a sixteen year old girl waiting for her first kiss, instead of a junior weyrwoman anticipating a future flight where some only want me for the chance to sire a clutch and have elevated station.”

Akanyth just cannot resist pointing out: << I don’t have to keep up. You’re chasing //me//. >> He doesn’t make it obvious, but he even slows down just to let Inaskashath get nearer, waiting until she’s close enough that he can tip himself over and trail the edges of his wings along her side before making for the surface again. “I don’t know what I like, but I’ve ended up with girls because of him,” a nod to the brown who is now beneath the water, “and I can’t say that I didn’t want to.” Arlet ambles a couple of steps just and flops down at Rori’s feet, crossing her legs beneath her. “I don’t think it’s magnetism,” she drawls, sporting another one of those tiny smirks. “Just a bad case of saying whatever I think. And you’re not going to like it, but I’m going to say it anyway: if your mother spent her time telling you what you lacked, then you’re best off here, with Inaskashath, without her. You should save more praise for yourself.” Her features soften as she looks up at her, though she doesn’t quite manage to shed a rueful shade of anxiety. “You’re beautiful and kind and stubborn – and a pain in the ass at times – but there’re worse things you could be. You never know. Good bronzeriders exist. You might get one of them.”

Inaskashath grows very, very quiet – mentally and physically as she remains submerged under the water and looks down, waiting for Akanyth. << Is that so? >> she asks, curious as she lingers near the surface. He will have to breathe at some point – will he not? Rori watches Arlet’s movement and some small tension leaves her body as the brownrider settles at her feet. She smiles at Arlet, looking wistful. “You were born to be a dragonrider,” she reminds Arlet, “You’ve been ready for this life your whole life.” She can’t help it, something draws her forward to fuss at a stray hair of Arlet’s as she tucks it behind the other girl’s ear. “My mother didn’t mean it unkind. I was never supposed to amount to much. Married, maybe, or not. She loves me,” she shrugs, folding her legs beneath her and leaning to the side as she braces herself on one arm. She tilts her head at Arlet, smirking a little herself as she allows, “Stubborn? Or stupid,” she’s making fun of herself, the green in her eyes seem more vibrant. “I don’t want a good bronzerider,” she decides, “I want someone who is happy to be with me. Isn’t that what you want too?”

Akanyth continues his way towards the surface, either quite oblivious to where Inaskashath lurks or too willing to pretend that he has no idea where she is. Given his silence, it’s a little difficult to tell, or to perceive just what his motive is in being so content at the prospect of her capturing him. “Ready and wanting are two different things,” Arlet replies, adopting the same wry tones as before, yet her expression loses its rueful edge as Rori fusses with her hair and she submits, closing her eyes to conceal whatever it is that she doesn’t want addressed – or simply so as not to watch and discourage her. “…Someone who loves you shouldn’t leave you with the impression that you’re not supposed to be much of anything,” she murmurs. “Or—“ But she keeps herself from arguing further on the subject, eyes pressing more tightly closed as she reins herself in. When she opens her eyes, she blinks up at Rori and gives a loose, submissive shrug. “If he keeps chasing everything green, no-one’s ever going to believe that I want to be with them or can be faithful, so it’s better not to hope for someone who likes me.”

Inaskashath sees her chance as the shadow of brown moves beneath her and she pushes back down into the water to reach for him from above. She’s never been in a flight – her time is far from now, yet she’s seen the movements in the skies enough to have a sense of ‘how’ to reach for the brown. Her claws come down around his shoulders as her neck reaches to touch against his. << Got you! >> she crows, body tugging close against him as her wings spread and she heaves them up the surface. She’s radiant in triumph, oblivious to the fact that Akanyth might have let her win. Rori listens to Arlet with an attentive gaze. “You’re being unkind to yourself. Of course someone is going to like you outside of his chasing. //I// like you very much,” she declares, lifting up from her half-lean to sit straighter. “And I don’t have an opinion on Akanyth’s joy in chasing, as I shouldn’t, and in that regard I’m more nervous for you than anything. It scares me, the idea of being naked with strangers, and having them decide how to have me.” She shudders then shakes her head and reaches forward to wrap her arms around Arlet in a brief hug. She kisses Arlet’s cheek as she moves back from the embrace.

A low note of laughter precedes, “I think we’re both being unki—“ but the world conspires to render Arlet incapable of finishing her sentence or doing anything but zoning out as Rori embraces her and Inaskashath ‘catches’ Akanyth, leaving her caught somewhere between one place and the next, the recent flight still all too fresh in her memory. To be fair to Akanyth, it isn’t entirely his fault that he finds such delight in being so close to Inaskashath, for it isn’t anything of a sexual nature that has him desperately trying to conceal his need to be near her, but some longing that makes //her// his queen above any other. But he has her – or she has him – and Rori has his rider, and so when Rori starts to draw back from Arlet, the brownrider snags a hold at her waist and turns her head just enough that it looks, for a moment, as if she’s going to steal a kiss of her own. Yet she doesn’t, closing her eyes to assert control, and permits herself only to nuzzle at Rori’s jaw as Akanyth breaks the surface. The realisation hits them both at once, Arlet getting to her feet to step back, while Akanyth delivers a nudge of his nose to Inaskashath’s neck and untangles himself from her. “You are not for me.” It’s Arlet who speaks for the both of them, whether she means to or not, scarlet staining her features as she turns and moves off down the beach, Akanyth likewise seeking solid ground.

Inaskashath is always so easily hurt by Akanyth’s words – the brown’s tendency to tease her and point out her flaws hitting the mark to a sensitive soul. She is only one gold of three – her station below the others and so the male attention she may receive is held at a distance. It feels odd to be so near to the brown now, however it also pulls to a certainty that it is //right//. She bobs at the surface and doesn’t release Akanyth from her ‘catch’, some part of her wanting to keep her hide against his. Inaskashath doesn’t move, letting the brown put distance between them as she levels a look at him – her spring-colored ribbons reaching towards him to tickle at his mind. Rori is rendered breathless as Arlet’s arm moves about her waist and they hover in that almost-kissing-space, the want of her body having the goldrider leaning towards Arlet in subtle permission. Arlet is not the only one to turn scarlet, Rori’s left blushing furiously and blinking back a rush of unwanted tears. She watches Arlet walk down the beach until she can gain control of herself, then she rises and follows after her. The hand she puts on Arlet’s arm is meant to stall her and then she decides against anything other than wrapping her arms around Arlet once more and hugging her from behind. Her face is burrowed in the other girl’s back as she murmurs, “Why must you always push us away?”

The syllable of sound that escapes Arlet probably had more to follow after it, yet whatever they were is lost when Rori wraps her arms around her and completely gets her way in managing to get her to cease her retreat. Akanyth, too, halts and levels a long look first at his rider, then back at Inaskashath, a hint of yellow entering a gaze so usually self-assured. That yellow turns to orange just as Arlet opens her mouth, the rasping sound that slips from his meant to silence or her drown her out, but he succeeds in neither. “Because he’s been in love with her since he first set eyes on her and it isn’t fair of me to have any kind of feelings for you, because all I’ve done is lie to you. You don’t know anything about me.” She hesitates, cringing as Akanyth outright snarls at her, spares a glance for Inaskashath, then abruptly takes off and wings his way up to his ledge to escape the shame of the truth she’s just shared for the two of them. “A-And you’re young. And now he’s chasing everything and it’s…” Arlet sighs, defeated, and lets silence claim her.

Inaskashath pulls herself out of the water and lets the water run rivulets down her body as she stares after Akanyth as he returns to his own ledge. She spares one glance back at her rider before she takes herself into the air – to seek the company of Jynth and Ryerith. They can explain all of these things to her – or redirect her questions. Rori takes a step back from Arlet and places her arms behind her back, a hand clasping at an elbow. “Why lie to me?” she asks, frowning at Arlet’s back. “We’re friends,” she pushes on, not letting Inaskashath’s thoughts dilute her own as she shakes her head in an attempt to push her gold’s questions to the side. “I’m not //young//. I’m of marriageable age,” Rori reminds Arlet, her spine stiffening at the idea of her //age// being something held against her. “We both were talking frankly of //sex//. And flights. And choices, or not having one. So what does my age really have to do with anything?” She sighs herself and brushes her hand through her hair. “I wasn’t asking you for anything,” she tells her, “I wasn’t trying to pressure you. I just… it felt nice to hug you.” She takes a few steps backwards, prepared to let the conversation go and for them to part ways. “I’m sorry.”

“I’ve lied to everyone, not just you,” Arlet states, as if that could possible make anything better. She keeps staring straight ahead, knotting her arms around herself now without Rori’s there to hold her, though makes herself turn around to face her when she manages to convince herself to speak again. “You may be of //marriageable age//, but I’d not be happy with some man taking liberties in your bed because your years dictate it, and I’m not thrilled by the prospect of a rider claiming you when she rises, either, so why should I think it’s okay for me to feel anything like that for you?” Gesturing towards her ledge and her betrayed lifemate, she insists, “How he feels for her is… unpredictable and too intense… and he’s never going to get to be as close to her as he wants, anyway! How could I taunt him every day with letting myself—“ Arlet shakes her head and stares down at her feet. “…You don’t need to apologise. I’m not enough… Him and me, we’re not enough. It’s just how it is.” And so she turns and trudges off, not welcome in her own home for the moment.

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