Timande Mei'Rhakarndi's Story: Chapter Three
::Today we are trying something new,:: Timande announces. It is time for their daily combat lessons, after Timande's shift on duty and Raesun's classes on the space station. It is, Raesun thinks, Timande's favorite part of the day. He can give orders instead of take them, teach another who is happy to learn, and can move freely without worrying about someone being in the way.
Well, someone who isn't bonded to him, and so easy, even instintive, to avoid. Timande was surprised, at first, when the bond between them remained open unless he blocked it, but has since gotten more used to it. ::Why would I block you out?:: Raesun had answered reasonably when Timande noticed, then added more playfully. ::Unless you're being particularly weird one day....::
And right now, he answers the bigger yautjadragon's announcement with a relaxed smile and the comment, ::Do I actually get to fight this time, then?:: Lessons have mostly been learning footwork and positions and how to hold things right, so far, after all-- and though that was obviously important, Raesun would love to actually use one of those poses or weapons or whatever he's been told to practice and repeat endlessly.
The big brown dragon pauses, floundering in an attempt to find a response to the humor. Timande hadn't been sure how to handle the tease before, and he really hasn't gotten any better at it since, either. Raesun knew from the start that he'd bonded a serious fellow, but he has since had hopes that he can convince him to loosen up eventually. If not, he expects it will be all right-- Timande is a good bond, and he likes him even when he's serious-- but it might be more fun if he loosens up.
On Timande's end, the bonding had come with divided emotions: joy, completion, and relief at being bonded again; wary concern over how exactly to take his new bond's quiet but wry humor; and an earnest desire to do things right this time. Since then, almost a month ago now, no merging or settling of emotions has occurred. Timande is still happy to be bonded, is still concerned that Raesun's humor will somehow come between them, and still doing everything in his power to make sure he does things right-- right down to never blocking his bond out, hence why he knows all that. Just what he thinks "right" is, Raesun isn't sure, but since Timande is constantly comparing him to his previous bond, he expects it has something to do with that. Raesun is still trying to figure out how to prove to Timande that he's not interested in leaving or replacing him, but he expects he'll figure it out eventually. He just has to keep working at it.
In the end here, too, he takes pity on his bond and hops down from the big, fluffy chair he'd been ensconced in, tail wagging a little as he trots over to join Timande by the door. Whatever it is Timande has new for him today, he's ready to see what it is. He relaxes at Raesun's acquiescence, even tries to smile a bit. It looks funny on his dour face, and Raesun stretches up on his toes to gently tug his mandibles farther apart and into a bigger smile-- a feat he'd never be able to manage anywhere except the ship, since on the ship his bond is shrunken enough to fit in the halls. And, were he anyone else except himself, he expects Timande would never let him so much as touch him. That's another thing he's working on: not being very talkative, preferring action to words, Raesun is a fairly touchy yautjadragon, and he's well aware of it. Another thing Timande will get used to.
::Much better,:: he says brightly, pleased with the momentary effects of his "handiwork", then motions for an irritated, confused, and slightly embarrassed Timande to lead on.
::We are leaving the ship today,:: Timande says a moment later, as they wait for the elevator to take them-- apparently-- down to the lowest deck of the ship, and the docking platform, rather than up to the recreational deck and the practice room they'd been reserving. After they step inside, Raesun peers up at him curiously, and he answers the look soberly: ::Star City has some excellent facilities for both practice and building strength and endurance. I used them myself, growing up there.::
And, Raesun hears the echo behind the send thought, he also used to be in them with his last bond, though not always "together", exactly. Raesun knows Timande is a teacher as much as he is a warrior, and he knows that he tried to convince this Joqout who he sees in his memories that he should have been a warrior, too... but he really has no idea why that included attacking him all the time. Something about making him angry...?
One benefit of never closing their bond is that when Raesun can hear Timande's background thoughts, so can Timande hear Raesun's. The elevator stops and lets them out, they nod at the current officer manning the security desk-- well, Timande nods, and Raesun waves and smiles, getting a wave and a smile back-- and pass through the door that brings Timande up to his real size, and then Timande answers the unspoken questioning. ::Joqout was a berserker-- do you know what that means? It means when he got angry, he got more powerful-- but he also could not control himself. He was afraid of that lack of control, and so refused to give in to his anger. I wanted him to learn to control himself and be more powerful, to accept himself as he was and not fear himself. ... I do not think I really succeeded.::
Raesun blinks, and nods, and answers simply, ::Oh.:: What else is there to say? He doesn't know if his bond succeeded or not, as he has never met Joqout, and expects he probably never will. ::You weren't very happy, were you,:: he says after another moment, once they're past the bays and off the ship entirely.
Timande's wings rustle. ::Now and then, I suppose I was. He was a good dragon, for all his faults, and he always forgave me.:: Every time except the last, he thinks but doesn't say. ::He was less happy than I was.::
Raesun thinks that's a bit sad, for both of them, and gives his bond's knee a pat-- it's the most he can reach. This time he doesn't try to broaden the small smile Timande gives him-- it doesn't feel right to, even if he could reach it-- but he does smile back.
And, in fact, the conversation has given him an idea.
Neither of them speak again until they reach their destination, not even to coordinate getting there: Timande flies, and Raesun clings happily to his shift-suit, spreading his own wings and pretending it's him who's flying. They don't really need to, since neither one is a terribly talkative dragon, and Raesun can tell what Timande wants without having to be told, anyway. For now, he complies without comment. Since it's flying and getting places, right now-- and being briefly in awe of the huge gymnasium room Timande has reserved for them-- he has no reason at all to complain, or even "misunderstand".
Once they get down to the business of the combat lesson, however....
::No, not like that!:: Timande growls in frustration as, for the fourth time, Raesun puts his feet in the wrong places. ::Dammit, Raesun, you had this perfectly yesterday!::
Eyes bright and amused, Raesun says, ::Maybe if you show me one more time....::
Timande gives him a narrow-eyed look, furious and trying so hard not to let it leak out of him, like he so often did with Joqout. He's growling, but Raesun isn't at all afraid. Instead, he cocks his head and blinks innocently, expectantly, up at his bond. He half-expects to be yelled at, this time; normally he's a little annoying now and then during lessons, just to see what will happen, but he's been deliberately pushing it today, trying to get Timande to break one way or another. To his delighted surprise, when the break comes-- because he's gauged right, and it does come-- instead of roaring, Timande merely sits down where he is and laughs. It's a funny, chuffing sort of sound, not one he's heard the big yautjadragon make before, but his mind actually has mirth in it, and that's almost better than what he'd been going for. Raesun grins at him.
::You're doing this on purpose, you little beast,:: Timande accuses.
::Weeeeeell... maybe a little,:: Raesun admits.
::Because maybe if you get mad at me and I don't leave, you won't act like I'm going to,:: Raesun explains succinctly, his plan having been much like Timande's own for his first bond, only... well, fitted to the situation. Timande isn't afraid of himself, he is afraid of his bond. Sort of. And Raesun doesn't much like having people afraid of him. ::But,:: he adds thoughtfully, ::the laughing is good, too.::
Timande stops laughing and blinks at him. It's a funny expression, too, and Raesun smiles at him, amused and reassuring all in one. There's a moment of silence while Timande sorts that out in his head, then he shakes it and climbs back to his feet. ::Well, now that I know, you can stop,:: he says, serious again but, maybe, a little lighter of heart. ::And maybe we can get some work done. You don't get to play on the strength machines until you've shown me you know all the stances to my satisfaction.::
Saluting smartly, Raesun hops back into position-- correctly, this time-- and Timande smiles again.
Oh, that's much better.
And maybe now he'll get to play on said strength machines....