Thirty Three Percent

Characters Alexa, N'sir, R'sner
Synopsis Alexa tries this 'touching' thing a second time with… similar (not good) results.
Out-of-Character Date April 8, 2019

Igen Weyr - Hatching Sands
As if temperatures in the rest of the Weyr weren't uncomfortable enough, the sands are positively blistering. The air shimmers from the onslaught of heat, leaving the area with a hallucinatory feel. Black sands stand currently empty but for the occasional egg-shard or 'print not swept clear. A raised platform of smooth stone provides a lounging-spot for queens or their mates, or a retreat for the lifemates that accompany them from whence they can cool their feet somewhat.

Perhaps against her better judgement, Alexa has returned to the hatching grounds. It might have something to do with curiosity. Or it might have something to do with the stern-faced Weyrlingmaster who has adamantly insisted that she must touch more than just 'three'. No amount of pouting, heavy sighing, eye-rolling or general teenage-grump has swayed R'sner's opinion on the matter, and so here she is. At the Hatching Grounds. Dragging her feet and looking gloomy, but here.

N'sir appears only moments after the candidate, a basket of treats and water over his arm— one might think it's permnantly attached at this point— and a bounce in his step. N'sir? Frankly speaking, he's in an outstanding mood and tosses his braid over his shoulder as he flashes a smile at Alexa. "I would have thought you'd be more eager to see what the others have to offer," he admits as he gestures her toward the sands. "After you."

"Given that last time, only one out of the three gave me happy feelings, I don't have much hope for the rest of them. A thirty-three percent of having a good experience is not exactly encouraging." The odds are not in her favor. But after making the requisite faces, and longsuffering sigh, Alexa turns and heads out onto the sands. "I hope you have something sweet in that basket," she decides.

"In fairness," N'sir points out as he follows her onto the sands. "You are not exactly a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, either, Alexa." It's not mean, it's just honest. Crossing to one of the chairs against the wall, he sets the basket down, his hands bracing on his hips as he turns to regard Candidate and Eggs, alike. "Give them a chance and try not to judge them on first impressions, eh?" Drawing back a step, he settles into the chair with a sigh, his legs stretching out to cross at the ankles. "Whenever you are ready, go ahead. Just be respectful and, of course, no runnerplay."

"And yet you want me out here associating with baby dragons? Maybe I was trying to spare them," counters that lovely storm-cloud of a candidate. But while she might bitch and moan and roll her eyes about it, Alexa will eventually edge her way toward the eggs. Eventually. There are fleeting glances at the clutch, little darts of her gaze that circles back to one or two (notably, those that she has already touched) and a bit of waffling because she really doesn't know if she wants to touch them. "Why not?" she wonders, for judging them. "They judged me on first impression. It's not like I think mean thoughts toward them," comes in mumbled defense before she reluctantly heads over to pick her first one. Eyeing the matte black shell of the Influence Eternal Egg, there's a moment of hesitation and a wry little smirk (because seriously, even SHE doesn't think the ALL BLACK EGG is gonna be friendly…) and then a tentative brush of fingers over the shell.

N'sir exhales a very R'sneresque, "Mmm." In response to Alexa, a water bottle settled in his lap as he folds his arms over his chest and settles in to watch her with the eggs. The eggs, it should be noted, are most assuredly not the /only/ things on the sands with a hard outter shell. And N'sir? He's all to well aware of that. Working on chilling Alexa out, however, will have to wait. Right now, the eggs take precedence.

Well, maybe that wasn't so bad. There might even be a bit of surprise, given that Alexa was braced for an impact that just… doesn't come. The squaring of shoulders and planting of feet, preparations for a mental fight, give way as the seconds tick by. Instead there is a wrinkling of brow and a frown at her mouth, a silent study of things unseen. Thoughtful, and almost curious, she at least keeps her hand on the shell rather than retreat.

It's the frown that has N'sir leaning forward slightly, dark eyes remaining on Alexa's face as he cracks the water bottle and takes a small swallow. When she does not retreat, or seem further distressed, however, he sinks back in the chair, his gaze sweeping over the array of eggs.

Alexa is absorbed, lost in the mind of this egg, curiosity predominant even through the truths and questions she doesn't want to think about. Maybe she doesn't know them. Maybe they are too vague. Maybe she doesn't want to know them. Whatever the case, there's a stubborn set of her jaw even as that frown of hers lean toward bemused rather than thoughtful. When next she is thrust back into reality, she pauses with hand withdrawn, uncertain if she wants to touch it again. But whether it is unanswered questions, or the knowledge that she'd have to touch a different one if she left, she takes a deep breath and plants her palm right back to that shell to see what else it might throw at her.

N'sir shifts in the chair, his gaze eventually returning to the matte black egg, dark eyes curious. Really, the desire to touch them, himself, and find out what is being experienced is almost overpowering. He manages to refrain, however, drawing his braid into his lap to toy with instead. It is in the midst twisting that heavy coil around one wrist that a low chuckle hums in his throat, his weight shifting as he slants a glance back toward the exit.

Mistake. The change is obvious the moment Alexa's hand brushes shell and the mind of the unborn creature inside of it touches her own. There is no thoughtful frown, no curious inquiry this time. Just a sudden stiffening of her back and a knee-jerk reaction to get away even if her legs don't move. And it does not get better. There's a shake, a shiver as though trying to shrug something off; a flash of fear and wide-eyes that see nothing around them. And when she is finally spit back to the sands and illusion fades, she's quick to yank her hand away and put some distance between herself and the deceptive egg. "I told you," she declares, voice pitched far too high as she flashes a look at N'sir. "Are all unborn dragons so… so…"

"Intimidating?" With the sort of perfect timing that might make one wonder if he was lurking just beyond sight, R'sner strides onto the sand in time to catch Alexa's latest response. A pointed look is shot back to the candidate as he closes the distance, before his gaze drifts over the clutch. "They're infants. Less than. Embryos, really. Try not to judge them too hard." Pausing, there's another pointed look to the clutch before he's motioning her back to it. "Keep going." And just to prove a point, he won't move until she's side-stepped her way over and put her hand on the next egg. Only once Alexa is touching the Doodle Dilemma Egg (without looking, mind. She just reached out and touched something with a defiant little jut of her chin) does he continue on his way and settle into a spot by N'sir.

N'sir was just about to answer Alexa when R'sner does, an immediate- and impossibly warm- smile tracing over N'sir's lips. Shifting in the chair, he sets the bottle of water next to the basket, immediately rolling to his feet and stepping over to wind his arms around R'sner's waist. "Be sweet," he murmurs as he none to subtely tries to worm his way under his weyrmate's arm. "She needs to be herself just as much as they do." Alexa has spirit (way to much sass) but spirit is a good thing in his book.

Maybe it is because Alexa knows that there is no way she's going to win a staredown with the Weyrlingmaster, or maybe it's because some stubborn part of her wants to prove that those unborn babies (Freakin' EGGS) cannot chase her off. Either way, her hand meets the shell of yet another. And just as quickly, her gaze goes blank and her attention is pulled to the mind touching her own. At least there is no fear, no panic, to immediate retreat and withdrawl. Instead, there's confusion and a bit of curiosity, mirth teasing across her expression even if she's rather confused by the whole thing. A tip of her head, as though listening, and then a sudden jolt as though surprised — not fearful, but certainly surprised. "Uh…" comes in uncertain tones, fingers fidgeting at the shell as she stands there and considers what to do.

"Hm." That is all R'sner has to say about 'being sweet', the twitch of his mouth holding little amusement. But his arm slides around N'sir's shoulders, and the kiss he presses to his temple is affectionate, before he turns to regard the candidate on the sands. "She can be herself without cursing at the eggs." Maybe a good thing Res wasn't around the first time she touched them…

N'sir exhales a quiet laugh as he glances at Alexa. "You really need to get to know her," he points out. "Cursing seems to just be part of her charm." It is not mean spirited, though, the words uttered with a quiet smile for the candidate focused on the eggs. "She's way more excited about the whole thing then she's willing to let on," he murmurs. Course, that is absolutely something he can understand. It is after a few moments of silence that he sighs and rests his cheek against R'sner's chest. "I'm glad you came out," he admits.

Alexa laughs. She actually laughs. And it is not sarcastic or surprised, but light and humored, almost innocent. Joy and amusement, rather than sardonic or dry. A smile traces over her lips, almost shy as she engages in a mental back and forth with an egg that, thankfully, doesn't seem intent upon tearing her apart or scaring her off. Maybe this is that thirty-three percent, and the next will be worse? Either way, she's happy to remain where she is and share a little bit of herself with this particular egg.

R'sner arches a brow at 'charm', sliding a look to his weyrmate that says he may not share N'sir's opinion on the girl. "Maybe," he allows, for Alexa's level of interest, gaze going back to the sands for the laughter. But it is the last that pulls ghost of a smile from the weyrlingmaster, the return of his attention to N'sir coming with an affectionate look and a squeeze of his arm to hold him all the tighter to his side. "I wanted to see how you were doing." And perhaps make sure that Alexa wasn't going to stomp her way out of the sands. A turn of his head, and he presses another kiss to N'sir's temple, a quiet, "I missed you," murmured at his ear.

"See," N'sir murmurs as glances from R'sner to Alexa and back. "There is a happy little girl in there, although, I'd say it where she could hear it." That some of the eggs have managed to bring that out? He's very pleased at that turn of events. It's the squeeze that his attention back on his weyrmate, his expression softening. "I missed you, to," he admits. "But we're doing fine." Her surliness? It just doesn't phase him, at all. "I'm relieved that there don't seem to be any eggs like Eli's this time," he admits. "I don't know how this batch would have handled /that/."

If Alexa could just sit here and keep talking to this egg all day, she just might. At least, she certainly looks content to just stand there and keep communing, even if reality won't allow it. It is with a sigh that she strokes her hand across the dark shell of the Doodles egg and bids it adieu, letting the creature within slip away as reality comes back. A few blinks, and she's quick to turn away from the pair of weyrlingmasters, for her own sake. A clearing of her throat, and she side-steps over to press her palm against the next egg, a curious look given to the bolder-wanna-be that is the Clandestine Wayfinder Egg.

"She is young," allows the weyrlingmaster. "But I wouldn't call her a little girl, either." But while there is a touch of seriousness in his return, it's amusement that curls at his mouth and shines in his eyes. "Hm. Eli's egg was… unique." And R'sner is darn glad for that, a brief grimace coming for the thought of that experience being repeated. Hand drifting affectionately down his weyrmate's back, but it's a glance to the bowl that steals his attention briefly. "I know you are." Doing fine. "But I wanted to check all the same." Lies. He just wanted to come and steal some sort-of alone time. Even if they are very much NOT alone.

N'sir exhales a quiet laugh, his brows twitching mildly as he dips his chin in a nod of agreement. "Eli is unique," he points out in proud tones. Fortunately, Eli is nothing like her egg, though. That would have been to much for even N'sir to handle. "And I know, she's an adult," he assures. "But it's nice to see a softer side." At the drift of R'sner's hand down his back, he leans in, the tip of his tongue brushing over his lips before he lightly clears his throat. "I'm glad you did, I would have gotten all tied up in worrying, otherwise." There is a flick of dark eyes toward the Weyrlingmaster, a grin dancing at the edges of his lips before he lightly clears his throat and looks back toward the clutch. "Do you ever feel the urge to go out and touch them?"

A sharp inhale and, seconds after her palm hit the shell, Alexa's other hand is at her stomach, shoulders curling as though to protect herself; caving to a pain that does not exist. Lips part, but the sound that wants to escape is caught in her throat. A moment later and it is a shuddering breath that is taken, a forceful shiver shaking her shoulders as they round up as if to rid herself of an unpleasant sensation, the hand at her stomach suddenly at the back of her neck. This one? Clearly not a 'nice' egg.

The Weyrlingmaster's gaze holds more than amusement when next it finds N'sir, dark brow twitched up to match the faint little curl at the corner of his mouth as he returns grin for grin. Another affectionate slide of his hand ends with a gentle squeeze at the back of his neck before he's draping his arm over his shoulders and turning his attention to Alexa. And while there might be mild concern, Res makes no move to intercept. For now. "Sometimes," he admits. "But I wonder if I would even feel what they feel at all." He's never actually tried it. "After Toith's egg…" but a grimace finishes that sentence.

N'sir draws in a slow breath, his gaze sharpening as it watches Alexa closely. It is only when R'sner doesn't move that he glances up, his chin dipping in a nod. "I know what I mean. I thought about it, but.. It feels like it would be wrong somehow." How, he can't really explain, but it just feels like something that should not be done. "Still, watching them react? It's impossible not to be curious." And he is curious. Fortunately, he's also distracted and comfortable right where he is. "You think she's okay?"

Alexa is not alright. That defensive posture does not lessen. Her back might be to the weyrlingmasters, her expression hidden, but those hunched shoulders tell it all. She's braced, as though expecting a hit or two, even if they come to her mind rather than her body. A shuddering inhale, and her fingers twitch on the shell, as though wanting to retreat but finding herself incapable.

It is a thoughtful frown that pulls at the weyrlingmaster's mouth, but in the end he decides the same. "Wrong, because our dragons have already found us. It's not for us to introduce ourselves to new lives," he decides. Even if he has no idea what it is those little unborn-brains might be thinking, he can well imagine they would be confused to have someone already claimed reaching out to say hello. But it is Alexa's reaction on the sands that has him straightening, arm tightening briefly around N'sir's shoulders as he voices the question in his own head. Jaw tight, keen eyes watch the candidate as best he can from this angle. "I don't know," he admits. And a second later he's letting his hand slide from N'sir and taking two steps toward her before, thinking better of it, he tosses a look at N'sir and decides, "You go get her." Because of the two of them, Alexa definitely prefers N'sir. (You can tell by all the snark, probably >.>)

N'sir is already stepping forward, pausing only to snag a bottle of water before slipping between the eggs toward Alexa. He's careful though, to avoid even accidentally touching an egg— apparently, he fully agrees with R'sner's assessment of that particular matter. So careful that that ridiculously long braid is snagged up and wrapped around his shoulders, just in case. It is only once he's close enough that he gently reaches out to lightly touch Alexa's shoulder, the concern on his face impossible to miss. "Alexa…"

Lips parted in a soundless cry, it is seconds before N'sir reaches her that Alexa is ripping her hand away from the shell and doing her best to get the hell away from it. So much so, that the sound of her name has her jumping. Spinning. Wide-eyed and squeaking as she rounds on N'sir with the intent to either flee or fight. It takes a second or two, maybe three, before she seems to recognize him for who he is and not some foe she must engage with. And while there might otherwise have been a smart-ass comment, some snarky return about 'told you the odds were against me', at the moment her sass has failed her and she can't help but to bolt into his arms and try to hide there; the closest thing to comfort amongst a sea of enemies. "I hate them," she declares. "I hate those stupid eggs!"

Tight jawed and tight-eyed, R'sner remains where he is with arms folded over his chest, watching the interplay between candidate and weyrmate. When it becomes clear that she is fine — or at least as 'fine' as one might be in that situation — he stoops to collect the basket and head for the exit, intent on meeting them on their way out.

N'sir immediately wraps his arms around Alexa, the hand not holding the bottle raising to smooth over blond hair. "I know it can be a lot," he murmurs. "It's important to remember that what you feel now could have very little impact on who they become. I promise you," he murmurs as he presses the bottle into her hand and escorts her toward the exit. "If your lifemate is out here? They will be perfect for /you/, no matter what kind of first impression was had." Again, his mind turns to Elianneth and her egg, his head giving a slow shake as he continues talking. "I was horrified when I touched Elianneth's egg," he confides. "I have never been so embarassed or humiliated in my life. But Eli? She's perfect and I couldn't be happier." It is as they get close to the exit that he turns a grateful smile on R'sner for grabbing the basket. "Remember?" He adds to the Weyrlingmaster. "He had to carry me off the sands, I was crying so hard."

Whether Alexa believes him or not, she doesn't say. But she is definitely listening. Her mind still whirling in the aftermath of that wholly unpleasant experience, she is silent and clingy, accepting of the physical affection presented in the touch of N'sir's hand to her head. Easily guided away, she looks up only as they start to move, her steps hastening toward the exit as relief that they are leaving washes over her.

"I remember," agrees R'sner. And boy does he. But while there might be other comments to make, the Weyrlingmaster keeps them to himself as the pair close the distance, moving in to fall into step at N'sir's side so that his hand can rest at the small of his back; silent reassurance and support.

Once they are away from the eggs, N'sir takes the basket from R'sner, pressing it into Alexa's hands. "Cookie made berry tarts, the best you will find anywhere on Pern. There are more then enough to share with your brother." In the wake of the words, he brushes a hand over her hair, again, his expression gentle and truly concerned. "Remember to drink a lot of water and rest. You're off duty for the rest of the night." Glancing at R'sner for confirmation, he remains close, offering as much comfort as she is willing to take.

With time and distance, Alexa is finding more of herself again. While there won't be snark to come, there's a subtle shift away from vulnerability; a flicker of shame for showing it in the first place. But she takes the basket, a quiet "Thank you," proving that she does, indeed, have manners in there somewhere. She can't look at R'sner (probably because she's spent a lot of time sassing him and trying to engage in a stare down she'd never win), but there's a dart of her eyes for N'sir. "Right. I will." Drink lots of water. And once the confirmation comes that she is free to go, she is quick about going. A final shuddering breath, and she's taking off at a fast walk toward the caverns, basket and thermos clutched tightly in her hands as she goes. Running away, and only a little bit guilty about it.

R'sner's answer comes in the subtle tip of his head, acknowledgement that he seconds that release from responsibilities. At least for the rest of the night. Egg touching's are emotional things, and clearly this one has gotten the best of her. But other than that, he is silent on the affair, allowing his weyrmate to speak and instruct rather than doing it himself. As Alexa leaves, R'sner curls his arms back around N'sir to draw him close, pressing a lingering kiss to his forehead. "You did well," he confirms. "And she will be fine."

N'sir immediately moves into R'sner's embrace, his arms wrapping around his waist, his face turning into the weyrlingmaster's chest. It takes him a few moments to get ahold of himself, but when he does, he affords a quick, grateful nod. "She gets to me," he admits as he glances toward the Candidate's retreating back. "She's got such massive walls around her." And he /knows/ from experience that that indicates a good deal of trauma. "She'll be okay, though. She's way tougher then she thinks."

"She will be." He has already said it, but it bears repeating. For N'sir's sake, if nothing else. But while his weyrmate might watch the retreating back of the candidate, R'sner's eyes are on his lover alone. A deep breath taken, but it is profound love that is in his expression, that shines in his eyes. "Let's go home," he decides. "Take a break. Let S'las handle them for a while…"

N'sir dips his chin in a nod at the suggestion. Even so his arms tighten around R'sner's waist, dark eyes sweeping up to his face. "Can I ride with you?" At the moment, he's feeling very clingy and he KNOWS Elianneth will understand that. "Please?"

"Absolutely." And R'sner would not have it any other way.

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