A New Venture

Who: Arlet and J’kson
Where: J’kson and Arlet’s Cothold, Bitra Territory
What: J’kson shows his wife their new home.

With the caring of young dragons and their new riders, J’kson and Arlet have both been kept busy and bound to the Court. It’s been some weeks now and knowing that their charges are capable to be left to the care of others for a stretch of time, J’kson has arranged for himself and Arlet to take a break from the Court to visit their future home. Most of the work that has been done on the future home of never-do-well gambling has been spruced up and furnished with the help of craftsmen more advanced than J’kson. The bluerider swings open the doors and steps inside, smiling almost shyly at Arlet as he waits to see her reaction to the modest cothold that will be their future home. “They’ve almost finished up the gambling hall,” he tells her as he gauges her reaction on the furniture and fresh coat of paint on the interior of the cothold. “We’ve got three bedrooms and one bath here. The other building holds more bathrooms, a few bedrooms if we ever want to rent them out, and a full kitchen.” He rubs at his neck and shrugs, “I mean, we can change everything here… I wanted to make it feel like home when you visited today. I hope you don’t mind.”

Arlet shakes her head and reaches for J’kson’s hand, telling him, “I don’t want anything changed,” first of all. “It’s our home and you’ve worked hard on it.” She moves across the main room, seeking out the nearest couch, and means to tug him along after her to sit down and gaze further around the room. “And here we won’t have to worry about anyone knocking on the door and telling us they need us for something else. I don’t mind looking after the new dragons, but I think they’ve got themselves in over their heads. It’ll be nice to get some distance… Get involved with what we want on our own terms.” She inches herself closer and rests her head on his shoulder. “…I never saw this,” she murmurs. “Us. A home. A husband. After Fort, I guess I didn’t see anything. …I like it.”

J’kson follows amiably after Arlet and easily is tugged down to the couch. He tosses his arm about her shoulders and tucks her against him as he presses a kiss to her hairline. “I’m getting anxious about all of it,” he admits, “having distance will be so valuable. I’ve told M’tan of Isolwyn’s offer to have Fort train Vesoviath. I do not wish to have your mother feel angry at me as a reason why Safiye would go…,” he mock-shudders. He’s quiet as she speaks and his smile is a flash of warmth as he looks to her. “I never thought I’d be sober. Or married. Or making decisions for us that are //ours//. Like this place,” he gestures around and then flicks his fingers in the direction of the door. “Or to have a place where we can make money without me traveling all over Pern to find games to play at.”

“The matter of the young dragons is nothing to do with us, really,” Arlet considers, leaning a little more against her husband. “It’s not fair for you to be caught in middle. No matter my feelings about Fort, if they’ve offered assistance with something getting too complicated, my mother and M’tan should accept it. Little dragons need lots of dragon playmates and role models, just like children. We can’t offer them that.” She takes a breath and holds it before admitting, “If they send Safiye, I’ll make myself go to that place and check on her. She deserves that much from me, determined as she’s been to be my sister.” Turning her head, she presses a kiss to J’kson’s cheek. “You did all of this. You. You’re the one who’s built us a future.”

“I have no love for the Weyrlingmasters at Fort,” J’kson admits with a slight shrug. “I think they’re too narrow-minded. I didn’t ask Isolwyn if she’s transitioned someone else into the role. If she hasn’t, at least we can know that Vesoviath would be taught by Eosyth and Isolwyn. The others aren’t… outwardly as unusual as Malynth is. I would hope that they could be easily folded into the community.” He squeezes his arm about Arlet’s shoulders. “We’ll go with you,” he assures her, “and I’m sure M’tan will have others sent to keep an eye on them as well.” He’s quiet for a moment, adding, “I wonder what he will place over their heads to make sure they return to the Court and remain loyal to them. I don’t see any of them truly enjoying what a Weyr has to offer… and yet, they might find a home at Fort.” He shakes his head after her kiss. “I wouldn’t have built us a future if you didn’t start by offering me a hand when I was down too low to see a way out. I want us to have a future. Free of the ties that limit us.” He kisses her temple. “So long as we can do that together I will be happy.”

“Maybe Isolwyn and C’aol will go out of their way to offer them more than the Court could,” Arlet considers, briefly lifting a shoulder. “That’s the only way I can see them being swayed. I did what I could, but Fort is far too conservative for the people who live under Jet and M’tan’s hand to tolerate it for extended periods of time. Still, they know what happened to Leesa for merely sharing information… Turning their back on the Court like that, I’m not sure respect for the lives of their dragons would save them.” She rests her head back against J’kson’s shoulder and gives a quiet sigh. “My Mama and father… Not Jet and M’tan – the ones who raised me… I’m not sure what they’d make of our choice of profession, but I’d… want them to know I was happy, finally. I think that’s what I regret the most about leaving: that they’ll never know what happened to me.”

J’kson keeps his arm about her and presses his lips against her hair as Arlet speaks. “I would say we could risk going back in time to tell them about us… but I don’t know if I’m strong enough to withstand that. Or do it right.” He presses his cheek against her head. “I think they know. Don’t you? They’d know because that’s what they’d hope for the most for you.” He’s quiet for a moment. “Was it so bad back then? That you jumped for hope of something better?” He shifts his arm about her and leans back against the couch as he considers their ceiling. “I never imagined I’d find anything like this. We may not be traditional. And conservatives likely would have wanted Malynth to die and us to remain in our stations….,” he drawls, smiling at the idea of upsetting others. “But we’ll make something for ourselves.”

“…I’ve thought about it more than once,” Arlet quietly confesses. “I’ve star charts that would lead a path back to the time I left, within reason. But I didn’t make that first jump myself and I don’t know whether Akanyth would be able to do it, despite believing he can do anything he pleases.” She shakes her head to deny that her life was bad, insisting, “No, I… just perceived it that way because I’d been a Candidate for years and no dragon ever wanted me.” Her lips twist in a faint grimace. “I just thought I was an embarrassment. My mother was a queenrider and my father a master of his craft, and I had no craft or dragon, so what use was I? It sounds petty and selfish now.” She moves quite suddenly, casting a knee across to sit in J’kson’s lap and settle her hands on his shoulders. “Even if this arrangement with Fort brings the Court closer to it, I won’t let them dictate anything about Malynth or you. Isolwyn might not yet be coloured so much by their conservatism, but if her Weyrleader or functionaries so much as mutter anything about him…”

“Isolwyn would strike that down before either of us would have time to react,” J’kson says with a smirk as he settles his hands on her hips and tips his face to better look up at Arlet. “She’s my sister. Not by blood. Something… deeper than that. No matter how conservative they are, or what choices she must make to support Fort, she’d never do anything to hurt us.” He lifts his hand from hip to cheek as he presses his thumb lightly against Arlet’s lips. “I was a failure through and through. I was in the bottle more than half of my life,” he admits to her, “and every time I think about picking it up again I remember you. I remember our love. And what we’re building together. The Court, Fort, other Weyrs and people… they will choose what they choose. I know I choose you.” He tips himself up enough to claim a quick kiss before he settles back against the couch. “That’s all the mastery or title I’ll ever need.”

“I’m yours,” Arlet murmurs, letting her hands slide down over J’kson’s heart. “And you’re mine.” She stays just as she is for a few moments, her fingers pressed to feel the beating of his heart, then lifts her hands to have them resume their perch at his shoulders as she leans down to claim a kiss. “And I think a husband ought to show his wife their bedroom when bringing her to their new home,” she suggests with a tiny smile. “Especially when it means they don’t have to worry about anyone overhearing for once.” Easing herself from his lap, she gets to her feet and holds out both hands for his, waiting for him to show her which of the three bedrooms is theirs.

J’kson rises after Arlet stands, looking at her hands with a smile before he swoops forward to lift her up into his arms. “If a husband must show a wife their bedroom, he’d best do it by carrying her inside it,” he murmurs with a laugh as he strides across the small living room towards the bedroom furthest down the narrow hallway. Luckily for him, the door is already open and is easily kicked closed behind them as he moves her towards their bed. He settles her down on it slowly, careful not to toss her into the depths of furs and blankets that layer the bed. “It’s going to get cold in Bitra,” he reminds her as he brushes his fingers through her hair. “But I think we know the best way to stay warm.” He claims more than one kiss before layers of clothing are added to the layers of blankets and furs. It’s a slow and sweet time together, unhurried and unworried as they are of being bothered in their new home. A fitting start to a new venture.

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