D'baji and Nverath advise a struggling T'sei and Xhiyanth

Weyr Plateau
You stand on the broad grassy plateau of Ista Weyr, between the gaps in the Weyr Rim. An eruption long ago blew out the western wall of the Weyr, forming the plateau. The shadowy Weyr bowl stretches off to the east, and the five-pointed pinnacles of the Weyr Rim tower into the sky like fingers reaching to the clouds. West, the plateau drops off in a somewhat steep slope, down to the black sand beaches below. The glittering turquoise waters of the ocean are easily visible from here, stretching off to the horizon.

Nverath leads the way, the necessity of a longer trek having dulled some of the usual caution he uses around weyrlings when ground-walking, and thus, moving with more of his habitual galumph. The weyrleader's bronze pauses occasionally, checking on Xhiyanth and T'sei's progress, always willing to wait, an infinite store of patience when it comes to this sort of thing. D'baji moves alongside, though by the time he starts talking again, his voice is marked by a slightly faster breathing. "Plateau's a good place. Little less distraction, an' y'ain't gonna get thwacked by passin' dragons or anythin'. Most'll just fly down to th'beach, s'easier t'navigate it by air." Big shoulders shrug.

Somewhere, T'sei came up with a mini-solution to Xhiyanth's constant distraction with the world around him. A small pouch is tied to his waist, and every time Xhi becomes distracted by a random breeze, a flying bug, or a cloudy cloud, the young man pulls something shiny from his pouch, twisting it until it catches the bronze's attention, then throws it ahead, sending him scurrying awkwardly after it. Their progress is anything but steady - but at least it takes far less than a day to make it all the way to the plateau. Scooping up the latest of the sparkling stones, the bronzeling tucks it back in the pouch and offers the Weyrleader a lopsided smile. "I'm sure Xhiyanth will find something to distract him," he murmurs ruefully, "but hopefully we'll manage a bit better than before." Dark cheeks darken subtly, a hint of the embarassment that still lingers after the earlier fiasco. Eyes flickering beyond, towards the ocean waters, there's a momentary yearning before the weyrling drags his attention back to the older bronzerider.

"Well, the Weyr is certainly full of distractions, don't much matter where y'go. But hopefully they'll be smaller, here. We wanna be startin' small, 'fore movin' on to bigger things." Nverath comes to a stop, spreading wings and giving a rumble for the younger bronzes attention, a simple, firm, « Here » brought forward on the warmth of old coals commanding the halt. "I'm sure we'll learn all sorts," the weyrleader muses, sending a careful look to that little pouch of T'sei's as it's put back together, then to the dragonet. "Think first, best y'tell me 'bout his distractions, an' how y'been dealin' with them so far. How y'get him t'do what y'want." A final, almost unconscious glance to the pouch, but then his full attention is on his student. Grasshopper. Padawan.

Nverath is eyed thoughtfully by younger bronze for a moment, as Xhiyanth blows out a long breath, talons absently scrabbling at the dirt before he gathers his gawky body and meanders over to his elder, flopping down in a sprawl at his side. A faint thread of the skunky, sweet scent that is the bronze's mind filters through the air, along with a soft, « Waaaaarm, dude ». Closing his eyes briefly as he searches for that ever-drained supply of patience, T'sei takes a deep breath, tucking his hands behind his back as he falls into an easy stance. "He's distracted by everything, sir. He doesn't… see the world, I guess is the best way to put it, quite the way the rest of us do. Like - take now, for instance. He sees the clouds above us - and at the same time, he's seeing swirls of color." « Heliotrope. D'you see that one? Wow. » "Shapes, colors, movements - everything seems far more intense for him than for me, or anyone else. So, right now - I just distract him in the direction I want. Like these." Putting a hand in his pouch, he pulls out a handful of shiny stones. "He'll chase them for a bit before something else catches his attention. Or I'll use Kehemath - she's very good at getting his attention and keeping it."

D'baji nods slowly, quite unable to keep at least a bit of a smile off his face. A strange, affectionate sort of smile. "Well first off, believe it or not - he ain't th'first. Just about every dragon's gonna have some sort'f different way of seein' or feelin' or transmittin' the world. Iqiazath - that's Sin's green - she sees everythin' with a sort of golden sheen overtop. Could be distractin', gettin' beamed into Sin's head. Now, Kzydnth? He transforms things sometimes, the real world into his own. Changes things. Talks out loud too. Y'should talk t'Ji'n. But, later." And he takes a few steps toward those two bronzes. Nverath has stuck to simply observing Xhiyanth, a mental presence certainly there in the link, though he adds nothing of his own. "For now, yours. So basically y'use distraction t'get him away from distraction." D'baji cannot but sound amused there. "So how's that s'posed t'teach him focus? Have y'tried anythin' aside from substitutin' distractions?"

"I've discovered yelling doesn't work," T'sei replies dryly as he slides his hands in the pockets of his pants and looks over his flattened bronze, lips twitching involuntarily at the way that, despite the fact that the rest of him is sprawled along the ground, Xhiyanth's chin is lifted as he stares up at the clouds, following swirls and arcs and rainbows in colors only he can see, much less name. "He doesn't understand. No," the young man corrects himself, clearing his throat. "That's wrong. He doesn't comprehend the concept of 'urgency'. Or 'need'. Or honestly, 'want'. To him, everything happens in its own time, and I need to calm down, get a grip, and take a whiff of the world around me." Hazel eyes flicker over the glassy bronze hide, affectionate despite the dismay in his gaze. "I think his favorite question to me is: 'Why so serious?'. I'd love to find a way to get through to him, to help him understand that sometimes, we have to do things we don't necessarily want to do. I've only just gotten him to understand that if he bathes more regularly, Kehemath will be more willing to cuddle with him and Jivayath will stop sniping at him. He hates it, but…" Aware that he's rambling, the healer-weyrling stops, gulping down the rest of his words.

"Well, when y'think about it, yellin's just another distraction, ain't it? Loudness an' frustration all comin' out, an' those won't help anyone learn all that well." D'baji sends a glance up to the clouds, those same ones Xhiyanth is watching. "So tell me 'bout how you made him figure out that bathin' thing. An' more'n that, tell me 'bout when he's most focused, or most motivated. What 'round him does that? He wants contact with his clutchsiblings? What about with you?" A sudden realisation of just how all that came back - the old man is happy to be back to his calling of teaching, maybe - and D'baji holds up a big hand. "An' y'can take your time, don't gotta rush. I put time aside for this, an' you sure ain't got anythin' more important'n figurin' out your bond."

"I never got frustrated before Xhi," T'sei murmurs, then grimmaces. "Or at least, I could hide it better. I suppose it's a bit harder to do so when someone's right there in your head, hey?" Pacing forward a bit, the boy reaches out to touch the bronze's tail, soothing a hand over the rough, dusty hide - not that he doesn't keep the beast oiled, but the bronze has a habit of dragging his tail. "The girls actually helped me - Sienna and Sadaiya. They didn't like how he began to stink, and Xhi loves nothing more than to cuddle with their lifemates - so I convinced him, slowly, that the ladies didn't like it when he went too long without bathing, and if he kept refusing, they'd stop curling up with him. It took a while to impress that upon him - and he still hates bathing, but at least now I can generally get him in the water every other day. I think, if anything motivates him, it's curiosity and companionship. And food. He /loves/ food." Pausing, the bronzeling pulls his hand away, turning to face the Weyrleader again. "He's endlessly fascinated by everything around him. About the only thing that keeps his focus for long is sparkly things, Kehemath nipping at him, and the promise of what he calls 'munchies'. When it comes to me," and here he pauses for a sigh, "I can tell he wants to please me, but at the same time, he thinks I'm too driven, too focused, and that I need to sit back and relax. How does he put it? Ah - I need to 'take a toke', whatever on Pern /that/ means." On cue, Xhiyanth rolls his head over towards Nverath's foot and peeeeeeers up at the big bronze, sending a puff of hemp-laden mind-smoke to him. « Saaaay. You're pretty big, aren't you? Did you know that you look totally drinkable? I bet you'd taste reeeeally good. Like, mind-bendingly good. Can I have a taste? Just a little sip? »

D'baji takes a few steps farther away from that little bronze the moment Nverath dips his (much biger, if nonetheless) streamlined head down to examine the little bronze before him. But that's subconscious- D'baji's attention has remained on T'sei. "A'right… So what ever happens when y'wind up actually relaxin'? Just bein' with your dragon, when th'two of you ain't got anythin' to do? You see any sort of change in him when y'step down? Or's it just been frustratin' from day one, no exceptions?" And that bigger bronze? « I am not for tasting, nor am I drinkable. An unfortunate truth, I'm afraid. »

« That's a real shame, man, because you look soooo good. Tasty. All swirly and liquid and, yeah, drinkable. » With another snort, Xhiyanth gives a sigh of disappointment, then angles his head to peer up at the clouds again. « Nacarat. » At least he can put a name to the bright orange-red streamers he sees in the sky above them, even if T'sei can't. Hazel eyes flicker up, watching where his dragon does for a long moment. "I relax too far. He's… very addictive. Very pervasive, and yes, very persuasive. If I let him drag me into those haze-dreams of his, I start to lose sight of my focus. It's a constant battle between us - he wants me in his head, where it's sweet and colorful and there's nothing in this world worth worrying about. I want him in mine, where he'll understand why we have to do what we do, learn what we're taught. I can't seem to find a middle ground without tipping one way or the other." Dropping his gaze again, he stares at the ground for a long moment, allowing the hemp-smoke to tickle at the edges of that diamond-hard core of him without permitting it to overwhelm him. "I don't know what to do," the healer-weyrling finally admits. "I don't know how to balance the two of us so I can relax, and he can focus."

D'baji runs his tongue across his teeth, turning to consider that little bronze again. "A'right… So it's about workin' t'find a balance, then. Just 'cause y'ain't managed yet doesn't mean it ain't there. There are a fair few riders had t'take lots of weyrlin'hood just t'get that much done." He takes a few paces, turns, looks to the biped of the weyrling pair again. "What about those bond exercises? Y'tried the thing where he guides you, you walkin' with your eyes closed? Y'guys there yet? Y'tried just basic focus exercises? Y'can reward him however y'like - some chill time afterward, some food, whatever…"

"Being in each other's heads has never been the problem - it's getting him to cling to an idea for longer than it takes a distraction to come along," T'sei murmurs as he reaches out again, sliding his hand over the bronze's tail and watching Xhiyanth blink sleepily at him before he returns to his cloud-watching. "As long as he stayed focused on the matter at hand, I didn't have any trouble using him to guide me anywhere - we're very tight," and he lifts his hands to tap his forehead, "up here. He's incredibly intelligent, he just has no focus, no drive. He wants nothing other than a good time. I mean - I've rewarded him in the past. Munchies. Time with the girls. Time in the sun. But, he… I dunno. He knows those will come eventually anyway, so getting him excited enough about them to do what I want…" He trails off, shaking his head as he moves towards the bronze's head, reaching out to put a hand to one bronzen cheek and urge the beast to look at him. Whirling eyes, blue with contentment, fix questioningly on his rider. It's clear from the look on T'sei's face that the basis of his frustration is that endless wellspring of love for the great beast - the healer-weyrling doesn't like this business of trying to force his dragon to be what he's not, though he's trying.

D'baji lifts a hand to scrub at his more-silver-than-red-now hair. "A'right… A'right, so forgettin' 'bout Xhiyanth's outlook on life for a little, how 'bout we talk on how you feel 'bout this whole business. You're a dragonrider. An' you're about t'start ridin' your dragon, like's s'posed t'be. How y'feel on that? Faranth, you're a bronzerider. Means y'could be weyrleader some day. Means y'pro'ly gonna land as clutchdad at least a couple times. Means that whether s'right or not, other people're gonna look at ya for guidance before they'd look t'just any bluerider. Y'got any thoughts on that?"

"We're screwed?" T'sei's voice is very dry, and his lips twitch involuntarily as he allows Xhiyanth to return to his cloud-watching. "How do I feel about being a dragonrider? Great. Terrified. This isn't what I planned for my life," he points out, "but it's what life had planned for me, and I know better than to rail against fate. I want to learn, I want to excel - I want to be the kind of person that no one feels reluctant about coming to for help, or guidance, or need." Twisting slightly, he moves to lean against his bronze's neck, clearly taking comfort in the tactile contact with his lifemate. "I know - frustrating, aren't we?" he asks, somewhat apologetically. "I want to be the best dragonrider I can be, sir. I want to fly on Xhiyanth, I want to feel the wind beneath his wings and know it's just me, and him, and the whole damn world. I want to know that if Xhiyanth ever, Faranth forbid, flies a senior queen, I can be someone the Weyr won't regret - someone like you," is added softly. "And even if I'm never Weyrleader - well, sir, I'm not without ambition," is all he says.

"Thought 'bout th'other side of it at all? Y'know what it's like, first time y'hit the sky with your dragon? Shards, first time y'even just ride on th'ground, y'get this whole new sense to th'bond like y'ain't ever had before. Y'move -together-, not separate. An' if you two are," and D'baji taps the side of his head, "tight, then maybe that's what y'wanna focus on. Maybe Xhiyanth don't need t'match your drive, right? Maybe he'd do better t'come for the ride, an' remind you that it ain't all just 'bout excellin'. Maybe it's somethin' y'gotta find in your head first 'fore it can be shared. Maybe," and D'baji glances over to the dragonet again, "he's got a point. We get th'dragon we need for one reason or another." Shrug. "An' part of leadin' anythin' is bein' able t'see 'round from other sides, too, not just yours."

It's clear that D'baji's words strike a chord within T'sei, and, with furrowed brow, he mulls over what the Weyrleader said for a long, silent moment, gnawing at his lower lip as he crosses his arms over his chest, leaning back into the suede-like hide of his dragon's shoulder. Finally, "Xhiyanth?" Patiently, he waits for the bronze to finish his quiet contemplation of a cloud before he continues, once that whirling blue eye is fixed on him. "Do you want to fly?" There's silence for a moment, as the weyrling dragon mulls over the question, before he snorts softly and offers a response that causes the young man's lips to twitch upwards. "Right, if you can fly, you can find the rainbow." Hazel eyes turn consideringly on the older bronzerider. "Maybe I've been focusing on the wrong thing," he admits softly. "Maybe, I've been focusing too much on the long run."

D'baji looks inordinately pleased - both for the apparent lightbulb (glowbasket?) in the younger (much younger) bronzerider, and, to some extent, for his own part in it. Then the nostalgic hits, and there's a look over toward that great big bronze of his. Who keeps looking between Xhiyanth and the sky, in slow succession. "One'f th'best part about little dragons is that their memories are even shorter'n the big ones'. So it can be frustratin', but ain't anythin' so important as what they're doin' right now, or will be doin' soon. Livin' in the moment ain't all bad, either. S'one of the reasons Nverath an' I've stuck to th'forest weyrs," a bob of his head up toward the ledges not far from the plateau, just up there, "'stead of the Weyrleader. Positions are lots about plannin', 'specially now. Dragonridin' ain't just hidework, though. Somethin' maybe…" and there's a more thoughtful look to him, "maybe we forget, sometimes." Hands clasp before him, and D'baji nods. "Do some work on yer own. Find th'joy in what you're doin', just 'tween the two of you. Don't lose all -your- focus, or both of you'll be lost. But… loosen up, maybe. What's yours call it, tote or somethin'?"

"Take a toke," T'sei replies, lips twitching at the odd phrase. "Xhiyanth's full of very odd phrases and words - but he knows what they mean, and that's good enough for him." And, by extension, his rider. "Alright. I'll try to learn to focus a little closer at hand, and see if maybe that can't convince Xhi here to focus with me." Fingers sliding along the dragon's foreleg, bronze and weyrling share a brief look, and a slow smile crosses the young man's face. "Thank you, sir," he murmurs, with genuine gratitude in his voice, and eyes as they turn on the Weyrleader. "I think maybe we can get somewhere with this."

D'baji nods, gesturing around the plateau. "If y'wanna stay out here a bit, do this now, y'can. No mountin', 'course, no ridin', but even if y'wanna just work on little things. 'Course y'aren't gonna go down to th'beaches, an' when you're done you're back to original restrictions, clear?" Nverath, with a grumble, has gotten all the way to his feet and is started shuffling away. "If y'need other things, y'welcome t'give Nverath a shout here, though chances are he an' me ain't gonna be able t'come runnin' right off. Got th'rest of your weyrlingmaster staff, o'course. An' if y'do wanna try ridin' without others around, talk to one of those assistants. Pretty sure they'll make th'time." A final nod, and a parting offer of, "Good luck, T'sei. Xhiyanth. Enjoy y'selves, eh? Work don't gotta feel like work." And maybe he really believes alone time is what they need, or maybe he has to pee, but the weyrleader is off, striding to meet his dragon, mounting up, flying away, just like that. They move quick for a couple of old guys.

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