Reaching An Understanding
He was nervous and excited all at once. Only at one other point in his life had rehearsing been so important, so Aluka was packing in as much practice as possible. He wanted and needed the upcoming audition to go well. At this evening free time, he had brought some balm for his fingers and a clay flask of water, and parked himself at an exit into the Weyrbowl so he wouldn’t bother anyone in the Candidate barracks. After some warmups for his voice and his hands, Aluka had a slug of water, closed his eyes, and imagined he was singing to the most precious person in his life.
Felnix wasn't much for mushy songs, but he had to agree that the other candidate could sing. As much as he might not like him, he wanted to sketch the expression on his face while he sang; he looked raptured. Taking his sketch pad, he sat down carefully and tried to draw without being noticed.
The artist was lucky: Lost in the practice, the emotion he was trying to project, Aluka had no idea he was being observed. That was ruined when one of the strings decided to snap and slap across Aluka’s right hand. The song and romantic atmosphere were immediately ruined by a slew of absolutely filthy profanity as the tall redhead dropped the gitar off his lap, clutched his hand to his chest, and bent over in a ball of pain.
...which of course messed up his pose and Felnix's work. "Shaffit," he cursed out loud.
Startled, Aluka jerked upright so fast he almost hit his head on the wall behind him. “What’re ya doin’ here?” he exclaimed, accent thickened by pain and surprise. He cast about for something to chuck at his age-mate and came up empty of anything he could sacrifice, which made him snarl in frustration.
"Just drawing," Felnix replied. "Keep your pants on. It's a public place anyway.”
Aluka snorted. “The way ya get ‘round, shouldn’ I say that to ya?” he muttered, finding the jar of balm and hastily smearing some on the growing welt. “Of all the lousy, rotten luck-“ A previous sentence registered, as did the presence of the sketchpad. “Ya draw?”
"Yeah, it's my craft." Felnix shrugged. He turned to a tasteful sketch of a group of weyrlings washing their dragons (the winged kind, it wasn't a euphemism for a male body part) and turned the page around to show the other candidate.
The redhead’s eyebrows shot up and his lips parted in shock. The shading, the detail, the implied motion in the picture- “Felnix, that- that’s amazin’,” he said without meaning to.
Felnix actually blushed. "Yeah, well — your singing is pretty good too." Anything to deflect attention from himself. "You obviously like it.”
Aluka nodded, picking up his gitar and examining it for damage. “It was how I expressed myself back at the hold. No one could tell me how to compose or sing because they didn’t care."
"How come?" Felnix asked, surprised at himself for actually being curious. He lowered his pad into his lap.
The other Candidate hesitated, a hint of the old paranoia and distrustfulness rising, and he mentally debated how much to explain. He didn’t want the taller youth to have too much ammunition against him. “You know how Holds are,” he finally said. “They hate anyone who’s a bastard."
"Mmm, I'm starting to think the holds have some odd ideas about a few things," Felnix replied vaguely, tracing an outline of a dragon on the page with his fingertip.
Aluka snorted. “That’s the understatement of the Turn,” he said, but not rudely. It was the heavy tone of too much experience with that subject.
"Makes you wonder why the Weyrs don't do something," Felnix added, almost as if to himself. "Don't know what though.”
“They can’t do anything, sadly,” Aluka said. “Holds don’t answer to Weyrs if their holders are abused; they have some degree of autonomy unless it comes to tithes.” It was all in the Charter. He was pretty sure it was, anyway. It had been a while since those lessons had been covered in his childhood.
"I know," Felnix replied. "Just —" He suddenly felt for the kids still there in the holds and halls, who didn't have it so good. When he was Weyrleader — he was yet to accept that boys like him didn't impress bronze. "I guess we should be glad we're here then." And hope to impress and not be sent home.
“Exceedingly glad. I’m actually happy here,” Aluka said frankly. The gitar seemed to be fine but for the broken string, so he twisted the tuning pegs until it came off, and attempted to see if he could somehow salvage it.
"Yeah. I wasn't unhappy at home, but here is — different. More fun. The girls at home weren't as friendly for one thing." The guys were more relaxed here too, for the most part.
And there it was again. The reminder why he hated the guy. Aluka tried to keep his temper and instead shrugged as casually as possible. “That’s probably a good thing. I doubt you’d want to be a pa at your age."
Felnix snorted. "Shells no. But — some day. I kinda hope to have a son that wants to draw and I can teach him stuff. That probably sounds stupid." He braced himself for a snide remark.
There was a pause. “I’ve heard worse reasons,” Aluka said quietly.
"I guess so." Felnix shrugged. "But that's no day soon." Unless some girl had a surprise for him. Hopefully one didn't.
“That’s no day ever for me,” Aluka admitted. “My weyrmate would be a wonderful ma, but I don’t have it in me to be a good pa.”
"Maybe you do and you just don't know it." Felnix shrugged. "It's not like you're too old to learn." He snorted at the idea of either of them being considered old.
Aluka half laughed. The vote of confidence was amusing. ”It’s best if I don’t try,” he said, and turned his attention back to the string. It had snapped near the base, so he restrung, tuned, and plucked it experimentally. It didn’t sound great, but he could finish practicing before he replaced it. He started strumming again, but did not tell Felnix to leave.
"How do you feel about being drawn?" Felnix asked on impulse. He could finish what he'd started without having to work from memory.
The redhead paused. “I’ve never been drawn before,” he mused. “I guess that’s all right, as long as you don’t mind me singin’ the same thing over and over. I need to perfect it."
"As long as you don't start wailing like a feline," Felnix replied, "then I should be fine." Truthfully, when he was drawing he was unaware of anything else. Thread could fall on him and he wouldn't notice.
Aluka gave a remarkable mimicry of a feline angrily meowing, then snorted and got back to work, deciding that as long as no more uncomfortable topics came up, having his fellow Candidate around would be okay.
Last updated on the September 16th 2015