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The Bare Minimum

Writers: Aaron, Curious
Date Posted: 19th October 2022

Characters: K'don, L'saz
Description: K'don takes another crack at helping L'saz.
Location: Dolphin Cove Weyr
Date: month 11, day 1 of Turn 10

K'don had needed to get the girl and what she did to the baby dragon off of his mind. And so he threw himself into his work. He spent extra time in the dragon infirmary, and he paid extra close attention to whether he could offer help to any of the weyrlings.

There was one in particular who had captured his attention, and he was glad for the distraction. Maciath was very fond of Faelath, and K'don had already had some luck with building some rapport with her rider, L'saz. There was something about him. K'don knew it was unwise to think he could _save_ anyone or that it was his job, but he wanted very much to be L'saz's friend.

"Hey," K'don greeted L'saz once he was free to talk. "Do you have a minute?"

L'saz still hadn't gotten close to any of his classmates. That suited him just fine. Getting close to someone would mean opening up, which meant honesty, which meant... A whole lot of things that he didn't want to get into. It was better for him to keep his head down, put in the bare minimum to get by, and try to figure out what the _fuck_ he was going to do when graduation came. Or when his lie fell apart and his parents found out about what happened to him. Whichever inevitability decided to pummel him first.

Of course, not being close to his classmates didn't mean that he wasn't familiar with any of them. That just wasn't possible with his current circumstances. L'saz was operating on degrees of separation, and as things stood, K'don was the one who come the closest to being something resembling a friend. Therefore, when the brown weyrling approached him, he offered him a bright, friendly smile.

"Sure," he said. "What's up?"

The smile prompted K'don's own to broaded and warm.

"I just, um." K'don was not entirely a stranger to being flustered, but it was not exactly a common occurrence. He blushed. "I thought maybe we could go over some of your lessons together? If you're having some trouble. Any trouble. I just mean. You're doing just fine. But. If you fall even a little bit behind on anything, you won't be. Just fine. Anymore. Um. So, I just thought maybe I could help."

Shells, he wanted L'saz to think he was cool, but this was not the way to do it, was it?

L'saz blinked, amusement worming its way across his features. "You alright there?" he asked. "You seem a little..."

Flustered. Off-balance. Unsure. The opposite of confident. There were a lot of ways to describe the way K'don was coming across, but most of them would be at least somewhat insulting to come out and say. As a rule, L'saz didn't really care about insulting people, but the brownrider was probably one of the people who least deserved it. Therefore, in an act of unparalleled mercy, he changed the subject before he had to try to answer his question.

"Some help would be nice. Not that I need it, I just... I mean..." Shards, now it was his turn to struggle with words. Rather than trying to fight with them, he settled for shrugging. "Weyrlinghood continues to be weyrlinghood." Which meant difficult, confusing, annoying, unexpected, and generally not something that he wanted to put a great deal of effort into.

K'don breathed a sigh of relief, as his primary preoccupation with rejection was alleviated. No need to worry now that L'saz would turn down the offer to spend some time with him.

"I know exactly what you mean. I was just here not too long ago myself. It's just a lot of things, right? Each one of them on their own is no big deal, but everything just piles on and adds up."

L'saz nodded. "Yeah, and..." He paused, briefly raising a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Suddenly being a rider hasn't gotten easier." In fact, many of his anxieties had only gotten worse as he progressed through weyrlinghood and grew ever closer to... all of the things that were coming after weyrlinghood. He dropped his hand with a sigh, his gaze wandering up to the ceiling. "I still need to write that letter saying I impressed brown," he confessed.

"Maybe I could help with that," K'don offered. Maciath grumbled in his head. The brown had forgotten about the plan to pass himself off as looking to Faelath's rider, but he was not thrilled having been reminded. He would do it if K'don and Faelath insisted, but he hated the very idea of playing along with a plan to let him get away with being ashamed of Faelath.

**The plan is to help him keep his family, Mash.**

}:If they would be rid of him over a green hide, then they are not worth keeping...:{

"Really?" L'saz exclaimed, unable to keep the surprise and hope from leaking into his voice. He cleared his throat to tone it down. "It's... Uh... Isn't easy to write a letter like that."

A wave of disapproval warned him of Faelath listening in. He resolved to ignore it, only to be met by a burst of irritation and a dry, }:Gee, wonder if all the lying might have something to do with that.:{

**You _know_ why I have to, Fae.**

}:Doesn't mean I have to like it.:{

"If we work it just right," K'don tapped his chin, "you _might_ be able to write something that makes them _think_ you Impressed brown without ever actually _saying_ that you did. In so many words. Let them make their own assumptions."


**Hush! This leaves the door open for him to come clean and tell the whole truth later if he never actually lied to begin with.**

L'saz hummed. "Maybe, but..." He shook his head. "It's too risky. They'll want to know what color I impressed before anything else, and if they notice I'm weaving around the subject, they'll come right to the Weyr. And I think Maciath's a little too big to pass off as a newly hatched dragonet, so we'll need time before something like that. And... Ah, shards. I already said that I was left standing at the last hatching. We'll have to wait for the next clutch, won't we?"

K'don opened his mouth to answer but was momentarily forestalled by the inconvenient fact of his lack of any answer to give. The size question was difficult to address, and he had not yet considered it.

"Er. Well, my thought was you might say something like this — I've Impressed! I can't wait for you to meet this wonderful brown dragon, Maciath, but for some very compelling reason I can't think of right now, perhaps you should wait to visit." Could it still work, especially if they had to wait so long?

"They'll assume the dragon you want them to meet is yours. Won't they?"

"I guess," L'saz murmured. "And maybe... I could say that I got horribly sick? Right after impression. Maybe I was too busy to write right after impression and only got the chance when I was bedridden. You wouldn't wanna visit someone when they might give you some horrible virus."

}:This web of lies is just gonna keep growing, huh?:{ Faelath mused.

**As big as it needs to get,** L'saz grimly confirmed.

}:If you mean to turn aside...:{

K'don began to speak aloud to relay Maciath's words to L'saz.

"Mash says, if you mean to deflect and imply that the dragon you want them to meet is yours, then there's no harm in telling them first how truly wonderful your own Faelath is. Like this. I have Impressed the greatest, the most amazing and wonderful dragon that ever will fly the skies of Pern, whom none shall ever match, the like the world will never see again. _Then_, I cannot wait for you to meet this brown, Maciath."

"Alas, firehead has taken me, and I have entrusted to my dear friend—" K'don paused and blushed, but then he continued. "Maciath says, to my dear friend K'don, to write this letter that I have spoken while I am awake, while my dragon, one of a kind and best among dragonkind, holds my thoughts and mind aloft and until I am well enough again to see you."

The notion of bragging about Faelath, even under the guise of talking about another dragon, struck an odd chord in L'saz. He felt a hind of something warm in his chest even as his stomach twisted and a bitter taste formed in his mouth.

}:Nice to see how you really feel about me,:{ Faelath remarked.

**I love you,** L'saz responded. **I just...**

}:Can't shake the pesky, soul-crushing shame for impressing some silly little green?:{

He _felt_ her hurt, and the accompany attempt to keep it from becoming anything overwhelming. **I'm sorry,** he thought.

}:Me too.:{

Before he could respond, Faelath reached out to Maciath, mindvoice suddenly light with laughter and playfulness. }:Best among dragonkind, huh?:{

Well. If she was ready and willing to ignore the runner in the room, L'saz would do the same. He offered K'don a chuckle and a bright grin before saying, "Sounds like we're gearing up to tell a pretty dramatic story. I like it."

}:Oh, have I oversold you, then?:{ Maciath asked with the same degree of levity. He reached back and added, }:May I come to you?:{ He knew as well as any dragon the toll it must take to know your rider was ashamed of you. Or, perhaps worse, ashamed of themselves _because_ of you.

"I like it, too," said K'don. "I... I just want you to know, no matter what happens, I... I like you for you. And I like Faelath. You'll always have a friend here."

Maciath would feel a burst of warmth from Faelath. }:Nah, I think that's probably about right!:{ she said.

There was a slight pause before she added, }:And... You can come over, if you want.:{ Some of her brightness faded without her meaning for it to, revealing the uncertainty and insecurity that had begun to creep in. Yet there was also a sprinkle of gratitude. Even if she could not rely on her rider the way most dragons could, at least she wasn't alone.

Meanwhile, L'saz wasn't sure how to respond. He was left staring at K'don, an uncomfortable knot of emotions writhing in his chest, before clearing his throat and forcing himself to speak. "Thank you. That's very... I like you too."

How could he not, after this?

K'don smiled brightly with relief that L'saz had not only accepted but returned his affection, as Maciath flew to join Faelath.

"I'm glad!"

}:I would not gainsay should you ask me to come into the weyrlinghouse again, but maybe it would better for the others if you came out to me,:{ said the brown. }:I swear to give warmest snuggles.:{

Faelath heaved a mental sigh. It was loud, dramatic, and entirely obviously fake. }:I _suppose_ I can be convinced to move.:{ the little green rose from her bed and headed out of the weyrling barracks. It didn't take her long to reach Maciath, at which point she leaned against his side with a gentle trill.

Maciath rumbled happily and carefully curled his tail and neck around the little green.

}:Many thanks for undertaking so long and burdensome a trip on my behalf,:{ he said. }:I am full glad to have you.:{ The first was said in jest, but the second was in earnest.

"Um. Well, I don't guess we need to have the letter written right this moment if you'll be waiting to send it. And since they'll probably be busy for a while," K'don motioned with his head toward where Faelath had gone to join Maciath, "are you hungry? We can go over anything else that's giving you trouble over some snacks."

Faelath let out a gentle hum and leaned into Maciath's touch. }:Thank you for being there,:{ she said.

Meanwhile, L'saz hesitated for only a moment before nodding. "Sure. That sounds nice," he said.

Last updated on the October 30th 2022

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