When: Day 28, month 2, turn 443
Where: Nighthearth, Fort Weyr
What: Soriane plays nice, but I'neph and J'tei can't.
The sound of particularly aggressive hammering is audible along the corridors nearest the nighthearth, more noticeable for the hour and the lack of other background noise. Sprawled in the floor with various tools around him, I'neph has one of those chairs by the hearth tilted over in front of him while he pounds on a nail in one of the legs. At this point, the thing's got to be quite thoroughly dead, but I'neph, in full-on handyman mode, seems intent on making sure the nail never even thinks of coming loose again.
Soriane is carrying a quiet, easy conversation with J'tei as she guides their course to the Night Hearth. A satchel is looped over one shoulder, the sides bulging with promise. Just at the end of the tunnel leading in, she stops short to marvel at the sight of I'neph actually working. Stepping closer to J'tei, Soriane wryly asks, "Do you think he's sick?"
J'tei stops too, as much because Soriane stopped as because he's gawking at I'neph's industry. "Or something," he answers Soriane vaguely, brows knitting together-- in thoughtfulness? Irritation? Confusion? "Should we go somewhere else?" he asks in a quiet aside, dropping his voice lower than the racket of hammering.
It is night in the late winter. There's not a cloud in sight, and the air is cold with a biting breeze to it. Timor is invisible tonight, a new moon, and Belior is a waxing crescent moon in the clear night sky. The temperature is about 30F, -1C.
I'neph's hammering pauses just in time to catch the sound of footsteps as he reaches for another nail. The bronzerider glances up, blinking at Soriane and J'tei. Initially, he frowns, but quickly he slides his mouth into a half-smirk. "Hey," he offers casually before he glances back down and positions the next nail. This one is treated more gently than the former, considering the audience; I'neph makes quick work of it and then sets aside his hammer. "Don't mind me. I've just been trying to get somebody to fix this for a while, and, well. When you want something done right..."
"You pay someone to do it for you?" Soriane half-finishes with an amused look toward J'tei. She answers his quiet aside in an equally quiet tone with the added bonus of a headshake, "We can stay here. I need I'neph to try this on anyways so I can make sure I get yours to fit right." She taps the satchel at her shoulder with a finger where, if one is keen enough of eye, that hiddeous yellow fabric can be seen jutting out from the top, "Do you mind, 'thein?"
J'tei starts an answer after I'neph's adage but halts it when Soriane puts in her two cents first. Likely, hers was more charitable. With a good, stoic shake of his head, he tells her, "By all means, have him try it on. I can wait." The nod he tips to I'neph falls somewhere between a frosty acknowledgement of his existence and the kind of mute greeting you'd give someone you weren't talking to. After this handy gesture, he heads on toward the fireplace to get some necessary klah.
All that whispering makes I'neph edgy, the weyrling frowning at the pair and taking very deliberate interest in inspecting his work. Slowly, he starts to gather up his mess, piling everything back into his handy dandy tool box and then sliding it aside before he shoots another look at the lovebirds. "What? What'm I missing?" he asks warily.
Soriane gives J'tei one of those 'this is why I love you' looks as he moves toward the fireplace, and then abruptly turns to face I'neph. Suffice to say, there's no such look greeting the other bronze weyrling. "If you have a moment, I'neph, I'd like you to try something on." Moving to one of the whole chairs, she sets her satchel on the armrest, delves into it and withdraws the item in question. It's big. It's yellow and it has mittens on the ends of the sleeves. "Would you mind? I need to make sure it fits you right."
J'tei answers I'neph this time, though he pitches it under his breath while he's busy getting that klah. He mutters to himself, "Common decency,... a likeable..." Mumbling disparagingly contents him to lean next to the hearth and watch what Soriane's about to do to I'neph, poor fella.
"No, no, not at all," I'neph says at once, getting to his feet. He eyes that monstrosity a moment, stepping carefully over to Soriane. "It looks... original. I'm sure it'll be great. Too bad it'll be spring soon and I won't get much wear out of it." Notice he's not reaching for it. He does, though, shoot an unhappy look at J'tei.
"Oh you'll get plenty of wear out of it," Soriane says chipperly, "I figured by the time I got these finished it'd be heading on into spring. So I put a hood on them too. I'm not so sure about the mittens though-" Said mittens are given a look and frown, "I'll figure them out later. Anyways, here you go. Just put it on -carefully- and then let me take a look at it." Helpfully, she pushes the fabric into I'neph's hands. J'tei is included in the fun, "I'll have you try yours on later tonight, 'thein, if we get the chance."
J'tei says just as chipperly, "Oh, I'm looking forward to it. If we get the chance." He clings to that glimmer of hope, returning I'neph's unhappy look with a borderline taunting one. Whatcha gonna do about it, huh?
I'neph's slowness is probably just care, right? Still, sorting out the garment, he tugs it over his head and pulls it down, glancing at his bright yellow self. Somehow, though, he manages a smile as he glances back up at Soriane. "It's great--real great. I love it. Very soft and comfortable, definitely the nicest thing anybody's ever made just for me." Take that, J'tei.
Fussing a great deal, Soriane begins tugging at an elbow here, a hem there and a loose stitch somewhere else - "It's far from finished and I think it could be a bit bigger. What about the mittens, do you like them? And the hood?" She turns quickly, reaches back into the satchel to pull out a pointy hood which is placed atop I'neph's head with a great deal of show, "See? It'll keep your head nice and dry for when it rains and such. Do you like it?" Stepping back to preview her work, she looks toward J'tei, "It looks good, right?"
As much as it might make J'tei happy to tell I'neph he looks stupid-- let's face it, he looks stupid-- he looks right at Soriane and says impeccably, "It looks real good. If you could figure out how to make fingers in those mittens without ruining 'em, they'd still come in handy in the spring. Keep his hands from getting all shredded by riding straps." He tacks on a helpful smile toward them both.
"I like it," I'neph concludes, nodding. He cuts his eyes upward when she sticks the hood on him, smile tilting sideways. "And the hood, definitely a nice addition. Hmm. It feels like it fits pretty good to me--doesn't seem to pull or anything." He stretches, rotating his arms to test out that theory. Pause. "I kind of like the mittens just the way they are, actually," he adds to J'tei, shaking his head. "They're perfect. Haven't had actual mittens since I was a kid."
Soriane is so happy she's practically glowing. "Oh this is just great! I'm so glad you both like it. I'll work extra hard now to get them done in time." She makes small motions with her hands for I'neph to pull the monstrosities off while abandoning him for J'tei. Naturally he's given the biggest hug she can manage, "See? Everything is just great." Great. Just great!
J'tei gets the biggest hug she can manage. Take that, I'neph. "They'll be really good for next winter," he chimes after I'neph, leaving his klah-free hand on Soriane's waist even after the meat of the hug is done and past. "There's no rush though, sweetheart. I'm sure they'll be just great--" Her words. "They'll be just great in the spring with the hoods and all. We'll just haveta come up with some kind of schedule so we don't make the mistake of wearing 'em on the same day and looking silly." He almost spoke right to I'neph that time.
"Great," I'neph repeats as he shrugs the garment carefully over his head. He eyes it in his hands as he folds it up and finally sets it on the back of one of the other chairs, brushing his hands off on his shirt as he does so. While the two of them get all mushy, he only bites his tongue and moves to set the third chair upright, leaning his weight on it to test for wiggling. Apparently, he's satisfied, for he drops unceremoniously down into it after a moment with a happy sigh, remarking idly, "Much better." A glance, then, sideways to J'tei. "You sound like my sisters. They always squeal with joy when them and their friends have something just alike, then they never wear it for fear the other one will, too," he drawls, smirking faintly.
"I'll leave those details to the two of you," Soriane informs J'tei as she settles against him, "You'll both get them at about the same time... maybe J'tei will get his first, but I'm sure you understand I'neph?" She breaks away from looking at the former to look at the later, "Oh! How did your tour with that rock girl go? Aolani, I think her name is?" To J'tei, she offers a full explanation. "I thought if they got to know one another, I'neph might not be so miserable all the time." Never mind what J'tei had already warned her about.
J'tei asks with a sardonic smile, "Aolani can be miserable all the time instead?" Feeling his wry oats tonight. "Of course I'll wear it. I'll probably just favor the other one so as not to have people comment that we're dressing the same these days. They're great for wearing in the early mornings when it's cold out." And when no one is around to see it, gosh.
"I'm not miserable," I'neph is quick to protest. "I'm perfectly fine. But! Oh, right. Aolani. We... toured the caverns all right. Looked at lots of rocks." His grin is definitely smugly self-satisfied as he directs it at Soriane to the exclusion of J'tei. "That was a great idea, though. She's a nice girl. Pretty--she has nice eyes, too, did you notice? Real pretty, like I was telling Cayri today. Poor girl, she seemed unhappy to hear it--I think she's a little jealous. Would explain a lot." He ignores J'tei entirely.
"Well maybe you two then have something in common," Soriane says with a small smile for I'neph and a much smaller one for J'tei. "You wear the other one in the morning too, right? So they're doing you some good." Poor girl is just clueless to everything she doesn't want to see - "She seems like a nice girl. Maybe she'll do him some good." But then it's right back to I'neph, if only because he's talking only to her. "I think Cayri's...well... I think she's going through a bit of a rough patch right now. I bet she'll be over whatever it is in a few days."
J'tei says almost happily, at least as pleasant as he's been toward I'neph all night, "Good. Then probably best if you just leave Cayri alone and hunt rocks. No point getting her hopes up." There's no authenticity for the likelihood of this potential crush, but he runs with it nonetheless. "Oh, I wear it every morning so far-- except this morning, because I had to put it in the wash. It's real good against the wind."
"What sort of rough patch?" wonders I'neph curiously. "She seemed... well, not happy--she was really kind of moody, I think, jumping all over me and stuff when I was just trying to be nice. I thought you didn't like her, though. Huh." J'tei, except for one quick frown, is ignored; I'neph's selective hearing is apparently as good as Soriane.
Soriane gives J'tei a strange look, but is distracted from commenting on it's cause - "...I didn't like her. But, well, I thought I should maybe try and start liking her seeing as how she's friends with 'thein and all. I don't think she believed me when I told her." She shifts in her place next to J'tei, reaching down to tug at his hand as she motions toward one of the chairs, "You want to sit down for a bit, 'thein?"
It is night in the late winter. There's not a cloud in sight, and the air is cold with a biting breeze to it. Timor is invisible tonight, a new moon, and Belior is a waxing crescent moon in the clear night sky. The temperature is about 29F, -2C.
J'tei nods toward the fireplace, next to which he continues to stand, and answers, "I'm good. It's warm over here." --He falls silent on the matter of Cayri. In fact, he falls silent entirely, drinking klah like that's the most important thing for the moment.
I'neph shrugs. "I liked her, until she decided to get all... Well. Now she says people are talking about me, all these stupid lies and stuff, but that's all she'll say, which is downright rude if you ask me. So... you have to like her just because your stoic boytoy over there is fond of her?" Big, charming smile, though the way he cuts his eyes toward J'tei is distinctly wary.
At that, Soriane frowns, "J'tei is not a boytoy or anything like it, I'neph. Honestly, I thought you were getting better." Sticking by J'tei's side, she quickly says, "He doesn't make me do anything. I decided I should try and be nice to her is all."
"Surprisingly," J'tei begins in a slow, thoughtful way. "Some people choose to be nice to other people for /no reason/. I know-- it's a foreign concept for ya." Again, where the dummy picked up something like 'foreign concept' is just a mystery for the ages.
"It's a term of affection," I'neph is quick to defend his choice of wording, shooting another look at J'tei before. "It's a Weyr thing, you wouldn't understand." Then, grinning, he leans forward to study Soriane. "Sweet of you, all right," he agrees. "Damn well big-hearted. Faranth knows I couldn't do it, in your situation. I mean, I wouldn't call myself the jealous type, by any stretch of the word, but still. Everybody's got limits to what they'll stand for. It's good for you that you're so kind and tolerant." Nodnod.
Containing her surprise over yet another one of J'tei's learning accomplishments, Soriane says, "I try to be nice to most people. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth the effort." Clearly she meant that to be a stinging retort, but the smile and overall lack of, you know -sting- makes it kind of harmless. "'thein, I think I'm going to head home now. I want to try and get some extra work done on your -" She waves vaguely toward the yellow monstrosity, "You'll wake me when you come in if I'm asleep?"
"Sometimes, I agree," J'tei communes with Soriane, shaking his head more pestered than piqued by I'neph's implications. "Not sure what situation you're talking about, but you probably dunno what you're talking about. As usual. --Depends on whether or not you're snoring. If you are, I may just shove some cotton in my ears and call it a night on the couch," he counters with a real grin for the girl at that.
That seems to be I'neph's cue to slip on out, too, to judge by the way he stands at once. "Oh, hey, I should be on my way, too," he notes, with an exaggerated yawn, bending to pick up his tool box and then edging away, now paying quite a bit more attention to J'tei, for all he keeps talking to Soriane. "Dawn comes way too early, you know? Maybe I should walk you home, you know, make sure you make it all right, considering the hour. Not good for pretty girls to go wandering around at this time of night." He's too kind, really.
"'/thein/! I do not snore and you'd better not go sleep on that couch." Setting the record straight, Soriane slips away from his side, but halts upon hearing I'neph's offer. "Well I don't think anything is going to hurt me out there and I do know my way." Busy with collecting her satchel and the yellow garmet she distractedly says, "I'll be fine, thanks all the same."
J'tei suggests in a not very suggestive tone, "Sit a spell, I'neph. --Chaemith'll keep an eye out for your, sweetheart, don't worry. And, ah, I'll send him off to the feeding grounds after that so he doesn't pester you. Or so you don't wake him up snoring. Some'n like that."
"Uh. Sure," I'neph tells Soriane rather distractedly. "Good night, sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs... yeah." The bronzerider breaks off, glancing warily at J'tei. "I'd love to stay and chat, actually, but, well. You know how Dioscuth is," he says, taking a single step backward toward the door and offering the other rider a grin nothing short of glowing.
Soriane looks quite thrilled at hearing Chaemith will be looking out for her. "-he's grouchy enough without me even waking him up. Though I guess I'll see you later on then. Hurry home, okay?" Clutching her satchel against herself, she shoots I'neph a quick smile, "Thanks for helping me out, I'neph. Stay out of trouble too." With that she steps toward the exit.
J'tei waits till Soriane's gone, then says, "Of course I do, but I also know how I am, and I've been pretty damn tolerant of your antics lately. Sit down or I'll sit you down." He pushes away from the hearth, setting his mug on the shelf overhanging the fire so that his hands are good and empty.
"Anytime," I'neph tells Soriane glumly as she exits. Clutching his tool box protectively to his chest, he eyes J'tei. "Now, J'tei. Remember, we're friends. I'm the oldest friend you got here, remember? And friends give each other a good-natured hard time sometimes. You wouldn't want to damage our relationship, now would you? Or me?" He offers his best hopeful smile, and doesn't venture any closer.
"Stop talking for a minute." Being that he's not a fast-talker himself, J'tei needs appropriate time to order his oft-dim thoughts. "If you want us to stay friends--" The term friends implies something other than bone-breaking enemies is all. "Then you better knock off whatever it is you're doing. Quit being an ass to these girls. Soriane might be too nice to tell you she's sick and tired of you being so selfish, but I ain't."
"I don't know what you're talking about," I'nephs says, sounding offended. "I have been perfectly nice. They're the ones jumping all over me every time I open my mouth--them and you both. I don't know what I did to make every one of you decide to hate me--it's like you all got together one day and said, 'Hey, that I'neph guy? Let's all be mean to him!'" He sounds genuine enough in that regard, if definitely on the whiny side.
J'tei's nostrils flare irritably the longer he listens. "Shells, listen to yourself. If that many people've got a problem with you, maybe the problem's /you/." Logic from J'tei-- ya know you're in trouble. "I ain't in for listening to your defense. Start being /nice/, or start staying to your damn self."
"Since when did you turn into my father?" I'neph grumps, tucking his tool box under his arm when it looks like he might just escape intact. "I am being nice, as nice as I know how to be. Never had any trouble until you people started invading /my/ Weyr." Hmph. He turns to go then, head held high for the moment.
"It's /our/ Weyr. You better get used to that-- and you better figure out how to be nicer or stay away from those girls." J'tei calls this at I'neph's back, refraining from actually physically restraining the other bronzerider though he makes a couple of fists to expose how much effort that costs him. "They're both too damn nice to have to deal with your bad attitude. There's no reason for you to treat people like that."
"Fine, whatever, you win. Again," I'neph replies distantly, rolling his eyes behind J'tei's back. "Whatever you want, of course." If you can't win, just give up--it's not losing that way.
Oh! "And stop playing like you're going to steal my girl. It's stupid, and she's not buying it." Yeah, that should be the end of J'tei's numerous gripes against I'neph.
"Wasn't trying to," I'neph shoots back, half-turning as he keeps walking. "You won that one, too, or did you forget?"
"Why's it a competition? When did this start?" J'tei calls in evident frustration.
"It's not a competition," I'neph says, stopping at that and turning back. "It's never been a competition. Faranth, you've been listening to whoever's been talking about me to Cayri--she was going on about how she heard I'm all competitive and only after conquest or something like that. I think you're getting me confused with Dioscuth."
J'tei notes, "I'm the one who told her that." With no fear to admit it either. "'Cause, lately, that's all it's been with you, man. What happened? We /were/ friends, and then-- I dunno. I tried damn hard to keep it thataway, but s'only so much I can do."
I'neph is quick to point out, "Because. You made it that way, always showing me up and having to be the best." And it's all his fault. "I was being nice, until you made me look bad. You shouldn't even have impressed in the first place--this isn't where you belong."
J'tei shakes his head. "I got every right-- as much right as you to be here. I'm /never/ /leaving/, and you're gonna have to deal with that. --As for showing you up, I didn't do nothing to you. We covered that. You could've done what I did if you had the gumption, but ya didn't. So what're you actually mad at me for? 'Cause I'll try to stop doing it. Seriously." Talky J'tei.
It is midnight in the late winter. A thick layer of clouds blots out the sky entirely, hanging low and sullen. The lack of breeze under the cloud cover keeps the air feeling a little warmer at night. Timor is a new moon, and Belior is a waxing crescent moon, both hidden behind the clouds. The temperature is about 28F, -2C.
"Forget it," I'neph says, quick to wave off the issue entirely, rather than actually try to resolve it. "It doesn't matter. Sure I /could/ have, but I'd actually obey the rules, you know? There's not even any reason to bother learning that in the /first/ place, so I don't know what your big rush was. But never mind, don't waste your explanations on /me/."
"Nah. I tried to forget it, and it just turned into this stupid stuff where I can't even stand being in the same room with you for want of breaking your neck." The way J'tei crushes his fingers into fists, he's still thinking about doing it right now. "Look. M'vari's never gonna change the way weyrlings get trained unless weyrlings prove change is /necessary/, right? If everyone goes along with the flow, nothin' ever changes. That's it-- that's why-- that's all."
"Why do you even have to change it?" I'neph says. "There's a reason we do things one way, and it's always been good enough for everybody else. I don't know where you get off thinking you know more than people that've been here their whole lives." Like him.
J'tei explains, "The reason's apathy. Things weren't always this way, that's what I was reading about. How things were before everyone just went along with what Corinne told 'em. Weyrlings used to get to fly with full Wings at ten months-- did you know that? But Corinne didn't see any reason to promote people to excel unless it meant kick-backs for her. We'd be /done/ in a little over a month if things were the way they'd always been."
I'neph opens his mouth, then hesitates. "But--so what?" he finally asks, tone less petulant, more bewildered. "It's still not that big a deal. We might as well be graduated already--we got weyrs, we do what we want, the only thing missing is a wing, and, well, I'm not that anxious to get dragged along on pointless drills, myself."
"Yeah, but what about people like-- I dunno, some of the weyrlings what used to be crafters. They could go do something /useful/ instead of just wasting time." J'tei shakes his head, rubbing his hand irritably through his perpetually untidy hair. "You don't gotta join a Wing that drills, you know."
"Sh'van pretty much said, s'all decided already," I'neph notes, rather heavily. "Besides, well. What else have I got to do, anyway? It's all a waste of time, at this point." He shrugs, adds, "Bet he gets you, too--you're just that sort. Faranth, if we didn't have a Weyrsecond already..."
J'tei says, "I don't wanna be the Weyrsecond. All's I've heard about Sh'van is he just does what X'drian tells him to." He shakes his head like that's about the worst thing he's heard all night-- even including I'neph's hissy fit. "You gotta make stuff for yourself to do, I figure."
"Could've done that without a dragon," admits I'neph, frowning and glancing downward. "Sh'van does, pretty much. Yeah, I guess that wouldn't suit you after all. Weyrleader or nothing, huh? Soriane's already telling everybody you're gonna do it. You should've sent Chaemith after Fedayth this last time," he says, snorting.
J'tei shakes his head once more, very gravely. "Raine's-- she put me on the sands 'cause I wouldn't tell her something she wanted to know. I couldn't ever deal with her?" Not sure that's the phrase he's going for, he leaves it there with a shrug. "Soriane's a good girl, but she's not real practical. Probably a lotta girls in her place would be like that. --Don't you have any ambition at all?"
"I knew Raine," admits I'neph, "back when we were kids. Didn't think much of her then, and I like her even less now. Haven't actually talked to her in turns." He shakes his head, lips pursing. "Guess it worked out for you, though--now you can crusade all around the world, huh." Pause. Then, long-sufferingly, he asks, "Why, you wanna thwart them, too?"
J'tei sighs heavily. "I didn't do nothing /to/ you. Howcome you can't just accept that?" Long-suffering indeed.
"Well, if that helps you sleep at night," I'neph says, with a fake smile. "You keep saying you're not trying to make me look stupid, but you seem to do it with an awful lot of regularity."
"You make yourself look stupid," J'tei notes grouchily. "You pick fights with people who do nothing but try'n be nice with you."
"Except, oh, right," I'neph says, ticking items off on his fingers while maintaining that smile: "You show up, get a bronze, go /between/, get the girl, get my friends killed, /still/ get to go /between/... I feel like I'm forgetting something, but I just can't think what."
J'tei starts off with the wrong number of fingers up lest we forget he's dim from time to time. He corrects that quickly. "I had nothing to do with getting a bronze, /you/ had nothing to do with be going *between*, the girl was mine before I ever got here-- before you even knew she existed, and you still have nothing to do with me going *between*. What'd you forget?"
"Well, I certainly don't /now/, considering you got us banned from even trying it," I'neph retorts, nevermind that was more G'avon's fault than anyone else's. "It's not even--it's not even /about/ all that. It doesn't matter. I just can't win with you, can I?" Which is probably the problem, right there.
J'tei stresses again, "We're not competing." He looks over his shoulder a second at the wall-- seriously considering whether or not it'd be more effective to start beating his head against it. He refrains.
"Of course not," I'neph agrees, turning again to depart. "Have a good night." Uh-huh.