Only Time

Who: J'yce
NPCs: B'ron
Author(s): AJ
When: 3294.12.01
Where: RCWh
What: J'yce's thoughts wander down a far too frequently trodden path.
Notes: Introducing J'yce, rider of green Zanath.

~~ 3294.02.16 - Northridge Weyrhold - Sunset ~~

With his back propped up by pillows, and his weyrmate's head pillowed on his chest, J'yce lay awake in bed listening to B'ron's breathing as he watched the man's chest rise and fall with each breath. Determined to stay awake until B'ron was finally asleep, he idly ran his fingers through ringlets of the man's sweat-soaked hair -- the sweat having brought out a natural curliness not usually in evidence -- while allowing his thoughts to wander back in time.

Out in the dragonweyr, J'yce's Zanath curled up close to Jaleth, her mate of eight Turns. Like her rider, sleep wasn't in the cards for her either that night.


~~ 3285AL - Northridge Weyrhold ~~

Coming down from the powerful heights of Zanath's first mating flight, J'yce's first thoughts were, of course, for her. Amused at finding Zanath smugly pleased with the male that she'd ~allowed~ to catch her, he then turned his attention to sweaty mass of manhood whose body was partially covering his. Maybe it was the post-flight buzz in his head, but in lightly exploring his lover's body with his hands, J'yce found himself smugly pleased with the man's body.

Only slight older and more mature than his own body, there was a strength there that was, in a way, familiar and comforting even though that was the first time that he'd been with anyone at the Weyrhold. Opening his eyes, he found a mop of sweat-soaked sandy brown hair pillowed on his chest. The sweat, he observed, brought out otherwise hidden ringlets. His smug expression turned positively wicked.

"So... ye t'inks I's quay'tly amuz'in, eh?" J'yce whispered, his hand idly playing with the ringlets. The bluerider groaned. "Gud t'in dat Jaleth din't agree with ye."

B'ron lifted his head, his frosty blue gaze meeting J'yce's aquamarine one. "You _are_ quaintly amusing, JC. And as for Jaleth, he's got his brains in the wrong part of..." His gaze briefly unfocused as he and Jaleth exchanged comments. "...his body," he finished, looking to J'yce to be a touch unsettled by the exchange. "It was a flight, the first of many that you're going to have as a greenrider, and nothing more. Understand?" he asked as he shifted his weight off of the younger teen.

J'yce had wanted to say *no, I don't understand*, but he did understand. He understood perfectly. In a Weyrhold full of mature and well-skilled sluts -- of both sexes -- why would B'ron want anything to do with a scrawny kid like himself? He nodded, the grin fading rapidly from his face. "Ar' ye leav'in now?" he asked, tone soft and small.

B'ron hesitated for an instant before replying. "Yes."


~~ 3286AL - Southern Boll Hold ~~

"Wipe that smirk off your face."

"Me? Smirk?" J'yce asked, feigning innocence. B'ron's voice had carried, and it was getting near impossible to keep a straight face as chuckles from the others in their rest-day-beach-party echoed back. Basking in unseasonably warm heat on an isolated beach in Southern Boll's territory, Zanath had come into season, rising before anyone could react. It was no surprise that Zanath had all but thrown herself at Jaleth, he having won all but one of her flights up to that time.

"And don't give me that *Mister Innocent* act! I wouldn't be surprised if you planned this."

"As I's re'kal, ye be the one dat plan'd t'is out'tin," he pointed out, propping himself up on his elbows as he watched B'ron gather up their scattered clothing.

"Yeah! First thing this morning, he did!" one of B'ron's brothers, a brownrider, called from nearby.

"Keep outta this!" B'ron shot back.

"Too late," the brownrider's female companion giggled.

"Ignore 'em," J'yce suggested, grabbing B'ron's arm and playfully tugging him closer.

Tugging his arm out of the greenrider's grasp, he tossed a handful of clothing onto J'yce's chest. "Get dressed."

"Make me!" He grinned impishly as he tossed the clothing back at B'ron.



"Hey, if you two are going to have a lovers quarrel," the brownrider interjected, "Could you do it more quietly."

"We aren't lovers," B'ron protested, unconvincingly.

"Could have fooled us!" a chorus responded.

Looking, to J'yce, to be rather annoyed by the direction things were going in, he watched as B'ron pulled on his pants and then stalked off down the beach. Zanath's mating flights were the best and worst times in their friendship. In the moments before losing himself in the mating, he could sense a change in B'ron. In those moments he didn't pull back, didn't hold back anything from him. Usually, J'yce could still sense it after the flight, while the bluerider's body was still twined with his. But then... "Why does he always have to walk out on me?" he mumbled under his breath as he moved to get dressed.


~~ 3286.09.28 - Krowten Valley Mining Hold ~~

The snow, the first of the season, crunched beneath J'yce's boots as he paced along the lakeshore. In his opinion, the Krowten Valley was the most beautiful place on Pern, but that morning all he saw was red -- figuratively speaking -- and neither Zanath's gentle mind-crooning, nor that peaceful place could calm his anger.

After a sleepless night of replaying the previous evening's events in mind, he'd slipped out before sunrise and flown up to the lake at the head of the valley in the hopes of clearing his mind. Now, nearly an hour after dawn, the only thing his early morning excursion had given him were half-frozen body parts.

{{They come,}} Zanath announced as a sky blue dragon emerged from *between* high above the lake.

::Did ye tell 'im where we's were?:: J'yce demanded to know, not the least bit in the mood for company -- not even his company -- just then.


::Remind me ta kill ye,:: he sighed, shielding his face as the landing blue kicked up a fine spray of icy snow crystals.

"Why didn't you tell me you were coming here? I would have joined you," the bluerider called as he dismounted.

" 'cause I's not be da best of kum'pin'ne t'is morn'in," J'yce answered, turning to face the lake. His emotions making his thick accent sound even thicker at times.

"Want to talk about it?" B'ron asked softly as he approached the greenrider.

"No..." Sitting on his heels, J'yce scooped up a handful of snow and compressed it into a ball.

"Okay.... umm... would you like to...."

"Shaffit!" J'yce suddenly cursed, violently hurling the snowball onto the thinly glazed lake. "T'ey had no right to say t'ose th'ins last night, Bri! And t'ey cer'inly 'ad no right ta treat ye, I's ~guest~, the way that t'ey did," he said, jumping to his feet.

"JC... it's alright," he assured him, his arms encircling the younger man from behind, "I wasn't offended by your parents, if that's what you're thinking."

"Tis been nearly two 'ole Turns," he sighed, leaning back against the bluerider's chest, "I's would've thought... I's..." He sighed. "I's'd hoped dat t'ey would've being will'in to ax'cept I by now. To ax'cept ~Zanath~ by now!" Turning his head to the side, aquamarine met frosty blue and some of that anger finally began to drain away. "T'ey blame Zanath, ye know, for me be'in attracted ta men 'n' all," he explained.

"Yeah. I know. But they're wrong, JC. They are wrong."

Tears welled up in J'yce's eyes. "I's luv 'em, Bri, truly I's do," he professed, "I's just want 'em to ax'cept us, but aft'ta las..." His voice cracked. "I's never wanna see 'em, any of 'em, ever a--ga--in..." The last word came out in a garbled sob as he finally broke down in tears.

B'ron turned J'yce in his arms and pulled him tight against his chest. "Hush," he soothingly whispered in the greenrider's ear. "You don't have to... ~we~ don't have to ever see them again, JC," he assured him, tears now forging frosty trails down his own cheeks. "You know how much my family adores you... hush...." He moved one hand up to cradle the back of J'yce's head while soothingly rubbing the teen's back with the other one.

"Shard, they all but adopted you, really... But even if they didn't, that wouldn't change how I feel about you. It wouldn't stop me from loving you, JC." Surprised, J'yce looked up and into B'ron's eyes. "You deserve a lot better than me, JC. A sharding lot better..."

"There's no one better..."

B'ron blushed. "I want you as my weyrmate... I have since... since forever, or so it feels. Forget about them, we can be our own family, JC. If you'll have me?" His own voice was now choked with the emotion of the moment.

"Yes." Burying his face against B'ron's chest, he hugged the man -- his weyrmate -- with every ounce of strength he could muster. "I... luv... ye.... too...."


~~ 3290AL - Northridge Weyrhold ~~

It was a stupid fight, really, J'yce now realized. But that didn't change the past few months, nor did it erase the hate-filled words that he and B'ron had exchanged in the fight. And over what? He'd sired a child by one of the lower caverns women, who also just happened to be someone that B'ron had feelings for. It was fight, on J'yce's part, of jealousy and envy. In truth, he felt threatened by her because she could give B'ron something that he couldn't: a child. Both of them were from large families, so J'yce's imagination dreamt up all sorts of things... all sorts of ~wrong~ things, but he didn't realize that until it was too late.

He hated Infirmaries. They all had that same metallic-medicinal smell that made him wonder what scents they were masking with them. Inside a curtained off cubical he found his answer. They masked the smells of death.

"I'm sorry," J'yce said in a breath of whisper, tears pooling in the corners of his eyes as he gazed upon B'ron. In his arms, the bluerider cradled the stillborn body of his son. The boy's lifeless mother lay on the bed beside B'ron's chair, her body covered with a crimson-stained white sheet. "I'm sorry, Bri."

The bluerider looked up, his frosty blue eyes were ringed with the red of his grief. He had every reason in the world to not want to J'yce intrude on that grief. But instead of turning him away, he beckoned to him. "I want you to meet my son..."


~~ 3294, month 1 - Northridge Weyrhold ~~

"Are ye sure y're up to stand'in watch?" J'yce asked concernedly.

Flicking his hand dismissively, "You worry too much, JC. It's just a bad head cold. I'll be fine."

Pressing his hand to B'ron's forehead, "Y're run'in a fever. Ye ain't ~fine~."

"I'm sick, but I'll be fine." He smiled softly as he captured the greenrider's hand, and brought it to his lips, kissing it before releasing it. "I'll see a healer after my watch," he promised, then started to leave.

Grabbing B'ron's arm roughly, "Ye better, or I'll drag yar butt down t'ere me self," he threatened, quite serious.

"Yes, sir!"

Pulling a face, J'yce watched B'ron walk out of their weyr and into the cold night air. Never did he imagine that his weyrmate had pneumonia or he would never have let him leave that night.


~~ 3294.02.17 - Northridge Weyrhold - Dawn ~~

Death rattle. What a strange term for it. To J'yce it sounded more like a little child trying to suck every last drop of juice out of his cup through a straw. And, in a way, that was exactly what it was. B'ron was trying to suck every last drop of air that he could into his lungs. It was a valiant struggle, but a losing one. With each breath now J'yce could see that his chest rose less and less.

And then it didn't rise at all.

Clutching B'ron's body to his chest, J'yce rocked him just as a mother would rock her newborn babe to sleep. His weyrmate's suffering, J'yce knew, was over, and that should have been of some comfort, but how do you find comfort when a dragon-size hole has just been ripped out of your heart? For J'yce an eternity crept past in the brief instant it took for Zanath's anguished keening to begin echoing through their weyr in reaction to Jaleth's going *between*. Alone.


~~ 3294.12.01 - Rocky Crater Weyrhold ~~

Clutching a tear-soaked pillow to his chest, J'yce awoke in a dark and empty weyr, his mind filled with the sound of soft, comforting crooning from Zanath. Two hundred sixty-three days and thousands of dragonlengths separated that weyr from the one he'd shared with B'ron that night at Northridge Weyrhold, yet he could still hear the death rattle in his ears, sense the ringlets curling around his fingertips, and feel the ache in his heart. All undiminished by time.

Burying his face in the pillow, he cried himself back to sleep, mourning his weyrmate anew.