Who: Priska and B’lian
Where: Fort Weyr
What: They might be more than friends.

The one small mercy that Priska can find in the fact that she still has to be up early to run laps of the bowl is that she doesn’t have to run with the other weyrlings, provided that the task is completed within the hour that has been allotted. While some of them have yet to start, she’s decided to get it over with as quickly as possible and has begun almost as soon as the weyrlingmaster on duty has left their office to idly supervise the whole thing. Yedrith has stayed on her ledge, able to keep her rider in her sights in the early morning light, though as Priska jogs her way past the opening to the living caverns, to say that she is entirely alert and away would not quite be true.

B’lian is not a calculating sort of person when it comes to romance – and yet, something of Safiye’s advice on how to help Priska – has driven him to think more about calculating interactions with the goldrider. As she runs past the living caverns he counts to ten and then jogs after her, dressed in gear that reflects his desire to run. He catches up to her easily enough, having always maintained a disciplined workout regime outside of drills. He grins at Priska as he jogs up alongside her. “I didn’t think the weyrlings ran this early,” he comments as he keeps pace with her. He glances behind them. “I don’t see anyone else, so I suppose they don’t.”

Priska huffs out a laugh between breaths and remarks, “This one would rather not, but, if we have to, I’m going to get it over with.” Needlessly, she too glances behind them. “It was easier to get the others out here when we were all in the barracks. Now, most of them leave it to the last possible minute to start. And I’m sorry, but there’s running to keep fit and there’s running just to keep us busy. If I ever had to run at length in this manner, I imagine I’d be in danger, and then either Yedrith would’ve eaten the threat by now or I’d have knifed it myself.” In that, she sounds nothing but deadly serious. “If Honshu’s weyrlingmasters do the same, that’s the first thing to go for Yedrith’s weyrlings.”

B’lian’s laugh is quick around his breathing as he easily keeps pace with her. “I don’t know, I find this level of running keeps me fit. Still, I can see how the Weyrlingmasters are getting lazy at this point still requiring it.” He takes a look behind them and then tips his head towards the entrance of the Weyr. “Why don’t we make it a little more fun? I’ll race you,” he turns abruptly then and sprints towards the entrance, not caring if his decision may get her in trouble. Perhaps he believes he could talk her out of it if the weyrlingmasters are prepared to have a fit. He easily lopes out of the entrance and towards the distant fields without looking back to see if Priska follows.

“Hey! That’s not fair!” If the weyrlingmaster on duty fails to notice that Priska changes direction, nor hears her (mostly feigned) outrage at B’lian claiming a head start, surely they will see that Yedrith launches herself up from her ledge and out of her sleepy sprawl to drift after her rider, keeping herself high enough in the sky that she does not cast a shadow over her. When Priska finally gains on B’lian, she slows for long enough to keep pace with him for a moment or two, declaring, “You should be punished for cheating, you know.” She takes no prisoners, for she puts her long legs to good use, meaning to pull ahead of him without further comment.

B’lian allows Priska to out pace him and then waits until they’ve cleared the field and entered a small copse of trees outside of the Weyr. He calls after Priska once they’ve entered the seclusion, “Hey, stop!” He has his hand on his side and a large grin on his face as he tries to catch his breath from their sprint. He looks above to where Imahdth follows after Yedrith in a lazy circle and then shakes his head as he moves to rest his back against one of the larger tree trunks. “How long do they expect you to run?” he asks once he’s got better control of his breathing. “We’ll tell them we completed it outside the Weyr. And you don’t have to do any inane laps.”

As she looks back over her shoulder, Priska turns herself in a loop and jogs back towards B’lian, slowing her pace until she’s walking and can adopt a lean of her own against a tree across from him. “About twenty five minutes, usually,” she replies as her breathing slows. “Well, longer for those who take longer to do the distance. Some of them are still taking nearly forty minutes, but it’s mostly the ones who didn’t really do any kind of real exercise before they were Searched. It was taking most of us that time when we started.” She shrugs. “Why’d you decide on running this morning, anyhow?”

B’lian’s caught his breath enough not to sound overly winded as he replies to Priska, “Had to fit it in. With C’aol’s lessons now added to the roster of my day, I didn’t want to sacrifice my run. So I woke up early to do it.” He tucks his little white lie in the truth. It’s possible she’s seen him running the bowl before. “When do you graduate? I feel like it must be soon.” He glances towards Yedrith and Imahdth. “It’s hard knowing you’ll be leaving and still finishing up things at your old Weyr. I put my transfer request in for a few months before C’aol approved it. It was hard to have one foot out of Telgar and another hopeful one here.” He looks to her and straightens. “We could head back if you need to.”

“They’ll have to send me to Honshu before I officially graduate,” Priska replies, folding her arms behind her. “There have been instances of queens rising almost as soon as they’re a turn old and no-one wants to risk Yedrith rising here by accident. So, two months, give or take. Isolwyn’s baby’s due soon and I don’t want to leave Emily to everything, when Hanath will want to spend time with her own babies. I should be helpful here while I can be.” She glances towards the ground in a poor effort to hide a smirk. “None of us knows how parenthood will affect our Weyrleaders, so maybe I’ll be leaving just as the reality hits them both and making a good escape.” Letting her head drop back against the tree, she tells B’lian, “I’m not due anywhere for hours. The weyrlingmasters just like to be petty about making us leave bed early.” She looks him up and down before commenting, as if merely about the weather, “You could come over here and kiss me.”

“I think Isolwyn is far too gifted of a Weyrwoman to be negatively impacted by the arrival of her child. Unless it comes with some unforeseen health issues,” B’lian comments. “As to C’aol, I reserve my judgement for that. I don’t see him as an engaged parent. But, then, mine weren’t. I know not all rider families are that way.” He shrugs, not wanting to keep the conversation centered on others’ personal lives. He stares at her for a moment at her offer and then lifts a brow. “I had thought… we were going to stay friends.” He doesn’t move towards her immediately and then he closes the distance, moving close enough that a kiss would be easy enough to capture should she wish it.

Priska keeps herself pressed back against the tree, though she tips her chin up so that she might look B’lian in the eye as he approaches. “Some friends kiss,” she states with a perfect seriousness. “Some friends do more than kiss.” A moment later, she relents and lets her eyes fall closed. “…I didn’t tell you that I shouldn’t have feelings because I don’t have them,” she murmurs. “I thought… I think…” She clenches her jaw and shakes her head a fraction. “I can’t be a poor Weyrwoman, ruled by feelings. I can’t.” Taking a deep breath, she opens her eyes and looks up at B’lian once more. “But when you stayed with me that time Isolwyn caught us… That was the first time I’ve felt… like I was home, like I belonged, since I got here.”

B’lian rests his hand on the tree, angled above her head as he listens to her speak. “I won’t put pressure on you,” he tells her in a soft, fierce, voice, “as the others do. I will not solicit your company in hopes that… it would gain me a knot.” His jaw clenches, his eyes growing serious. “If you want to be friends that are a tiny bit more..,” he takes a breath and lets it out slowly, “to remove the possibility of a relationship more serious having negative impact on your leadership…,” he trails off and looks at her closely, trying to gauge her reaction. He steps closer then, using his thumb and forefinger from his other hand to tip her face up to his as he kisses her softly.

Not permitting herself to look away, Priska listens with a quiet intensity that finds her unable to interject, though there’s a flicker of something that could be guilt or self-recrimination before she tries to ease away from it and focus solely on B’lian as he tips her chin up a little further. Her hands slip from the small of her back when he kisses her, finding purchase at his hips instead, her fingers curling in a faintly needy hold. When she draws back, she watches him for a long moment, only for that guilt to return. “…That makes it sound like I’m using you… exploiting you… and that’s not what I—“ She hangs her head. “I like you. I care about you. I don’t… want you to end up hating me.”

“We’re both being too careful with the others feelings, I wager,” B’lian comments with a rough laugh as he shakes his head and drops his arm from the tree. He moves to press his shoulder against it as he leans sideways, looking to her with a smile still on his lips. He tosses his fingers through his hair and flicks it away from his gaze. “I wonder if we should stop overthinking this,” he adds with a sigh as he moves to brush his fingers briefly against her cheek. “We’re five steps ahead when really, we should sit back, and enjoy the kissing-don’t-know-what-this-is, stage,” he drawls and then gently tugs at her earlobe. “I’ll let you know if I feel exploited. You let me know if you feel like I’m being too… forceful with you. If you feel like my intentions are… not what they should be.”

“We’re five steps ahead because Yedrith and Imahdth are and almost everyone can see it,” Priska claims, her observation not an unkind one for all her bluntness. “And because one of us has a future that is a fixed point.” Nonetheless, she tilts her head just enough to press her mouth to the curve of B’lian’s neck. She stays like that for longer than she should, her lips hovering over skin, if only because it means she can avoid his gaze and conceal her anxiety when she asks, “…Would you… sleep with me?” Before her words can be misconstrued she hastens to say, “I mean… literally, not the… euphemism.”

B’lian can’t help but step back at Priska’s request, color rising from his chest up towards his face. “Sleep with you,” he repeats, needing to hear the words again as he tries to settle himself at her direct way of thinking. “We’re jumping ahead again,” he tells her as he clears his throat. His hand rubs at the back of his neck as he offers her a shy smile. “I’m not romantic, I guess– but, outside of flights, I usually… build up to that.” He shrugs his shoulders and hastens to assure her as he returns to being closer to her, his hand moving to rest on her shoulder. “You’re far too direct,” he tells her with a laugh, “I feel like a teenager again. We can… go towards that, yes. If it’s something you really want. And it isn’t… to, I don’t know, keep me from being upset?”

Embarrassment edges Priska all too quickly towards aggression and she reaches to curl a hand in the front of his shirt none too gently, shaking her head. “No!” she growls, unable to look B’lian in the eye. “I meant like before! As in actually getting some sleep in the same bed!” She lets go of him all at once and huffs out a curse under her breath, staring down at her feet. “I mean, one day, yes, I figure we’ll both want to do what you mean, or maybe you’ll lose a flight and you’ll want me more than someone else, or I’ll lose patience and want you more than we probably should right now, but I really—“ Realising that she’s rambling, she clamps her mouth shut, her features utterly crimson. “I liked it,” she mutters. “When you held me.”

“Oh!” B’lian’s eyes go wide as Priska grabs him and makes her point more clear. “Yes, alright. I didn’t see the connection there, my apologies.” He smooths his hadn over his shirt once she’s freed her grasp from it and can’t seem to look at her at all as she gazes to her feet. The color stays along his cheeks, as the embarrassed flush is slowly ebbing. He feels the need to deny his finding her to ease flight lust, “I wouldn’t expect you to take me after a flight. Lock me out of your room in that case. That’s not how–,” he shakes his head and closes his mouth to keep himself from saying anything further. “I’ll hold you again,” he says to her as he shucks his fingers through his hair and grins at her. “And we’ll sort the rest out some time later.”

Priska finally looks up again, lifting her gaze with some regret to the crumpling she’s caused of B’lian’s shirt, but she doesn’t comment on it more than that flash of guilt. Instead, she confesses a broader, “I can be too rough,” little above a whisper. “You need to tell me – stop me – if I am.” She reaches for one of his hands, seeking to thread her fingers through his. “Let’s walk a bit,” she decides. “I think it’ll be a while longer before we get Yedrith and Imahdth back, besides.”

“I’m not a fragile creature,” B’lian feels the need to say as he takes Priska’s hand easily in his. His grip is calloused and warm as he links her fingers with his. He pulls her out of the trees and begins to walk along a path, letting silence fall between them. Imahdth seems intent on playing with Yedrith in the skies for however long the gold wishes. B’lian lets his gaze trail after their dragons and glances towards Priska as they walk. “I spoke with Safiye the other day,” he offers up, “she’s a precocious girl. I imagine Fort will be sad to see her go, when she returns to her people.”

“I suppose you’d have to be precocious to Impress a queen at the age she did, no matter what kind of queen Vesoviath turns out to truly be,” Priska remarks, tightening her hold on his hand. “I won’t deny that there are things that she’s trained //me// about. She may be young for it, but Emily’s done good work and made sure she knows a weyrwoman’s role. It almost feels like it would be a waste to let her go, but the decision will be hers.” She shrugs a shoulder. “I’d take her with me to Honshu, but I think she’s finally getting to know Isolwyn better and anyone can see that she loves Emily. And besides, Honshu’s Acting Weyrwoman is probably going to hate me for going in and taking over.”
“I don’t know if that’s necessarily true,” B’lian answers her as they walk along, “If she wants to have her queen flown by the blue — there is no chance for her to have true leadership. It’s my understanding that the Council won’t allow that.” He gives her fingers a squeeze and then grins at Priska as he adds, “Then again, she could be a real villain for all I know. I’ve never met her. Maybe she’s so awful she chased Aerishani and O’rlen off so she could lead. I could see you solving problems with her easily, using your knives or fists.”

“The knives and the fists are a fallback. If they keep people from pushing their luck and questioning me, I won’t ever complain, but having to use them for real against an opponent would immediately brand me a particular type of Weyrwoman.” Priska shakes her head, adding, “And I’m switching that title back to Weyrwoman. ‘Weyrlady’. It seems a title too eager to please both worlds, when anyone with half a mind should understand that’s not possible.” She sighs and casts her focus towards the skies for a second. “I think I’ll just be spending the time after Yedrith has risen sorting out whatever mess that place is and realigning people’s expectations.”

B’lian is quiet as he listens to Priska air her plans for Honshu. He’s taken them through the copse of the trees and on the other side, where a small pond rests at the bottom of the hill they’re walking down. “I think it’s a good way to show that when you take over, you intend to change things. I wonder how Honshu’s people will feel about it.” He gives her fingers a squeeze and once more lets his gaze move towards the skies to see where their dragons have gone. “C’aol will not bar me from transferring to Honshu,” he tells her, stopping their movements so he can have her face him. “I would not be transferring to chase the knot, Priska. I would go because Yedrith is the queen Imahdth wishes to follow. And I want to be some part of the changes you want to implement at Honshu. You are the sort of Weyrwoman //I// want to follow. I’ll miss your friendship, as well,” he adds, smiling at her. “If you would agree to us going when you go, we will move when you move.”

“Maybe they’ll hate me too,” Priska utters wryly, any depth of feeling that she has about the possibility kept well hidden. She stops easily enough when B’lian does, giving him her attention even though a flicker of apprehension passes through her gaze as he explains himself. “What if C’aol wants to keep you?” she asks quietly. “We’ve been through this. I can’t promise you even a wingsecond position and then… what? You spend your days as a regular wingrider and we both know that you’re wasted not getting to use the skills you have?” She looks down at her feet. “I know you’re not chasing the knot, B’lian. It just… doesn’t make it any easier to agree when I know it could be a bad move for you. If I only had to consider how I feel about it, I wouldn’t argue with you at all.”

“Let us be clear, C’aol is letting me go with the hopes that a Fortian bronzerider, even one so recently transplanted as myself, might have a chance to shape Honshu. He may send others too, I think, with the same intention. Whether or not they stay outside of the flight will be something they will have to decide,” B’lian is honest in his answer to Priska. He listens to her rebuttal and shrugs. “Imahdth wants to go. If we end up disliking whomever becomes Weyrleader, we could return to Fort without issue, or we could move on to another Weyr. Maybe we’ll become Fort’s spies and transfer to Benden to see what they’re up to,” he teases with a smile. “I am a grown man, Priska. Let me do what I wish to do without you overthinking my choices.”

“C’aol’s machinations and the fact that he and Isolwyn haven’t done anything wrong by me aside, you have your own life too.” Priska takes a breath, only to not speak, her frustration driving her to grab hold of B’lian’s shirt again as she tries to figure out exactly what it is that she wants to say. “You’re //not// going to Benden,” she tells him, contrary to what she’s just said. “I’m not having someone send you to live with those… vipers…” That she bares her teeth betrays that she might well have wanted to use another word. Silence falls again, only for her to mutter something her breath, then more audibly utter, “Shard it,” and abruptly kiss him again in place of saying anything further.

B’lian can’t quite figure out where he stands with Priska and he seems prepared to end their kiss abruptly to try and talk further. He pulls back and begins to say something, shakes his head, and then grabs her closer to deepen the kiss. He carries them this way for as long as he can get away with it, or before things feel like they might want to continue down another path. He pulls back from her then and grabs her hand once more. “Let’s go back,” he tells her simply, refusing to discuss the how and where of his future with her any more. If he has his way, he won’t bring it up for discussion again. He holds her hand until they near the Weyr and then, when he might think to let it go, he holds on a little longer before they part ways for the day.

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