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Messages - Colvin

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Cole had gotten off relatively easy. The little red who’d sliced open the back of his leg had been kind about it. Clean cut and only moderately deep. He, himself, had probably done more damage by ignoring O’sir’s command to get to a Healer and by standing on it for as long as the rest of the Hatching had taken. But eventually he had seen a healer. And they’d cleaned the wound and stitched it up. It wasn’t in the most easy of places to have stitches, every time he took a step, the bend of his knee tugged and pulled at the wound. He liked the constant reminder though.

As it were, he was happy not to have been one of the ones stuck in the Healer Hall. He couldn’t take another sevenday laid up like he had been after Kalestath’s flight.

But many of his fellow Candidates were here for the long run. And Cole made a point of coming to bug them whenever he came in to have his bandages changed and the stitches looked at. He used them to keep his mind off the fellis so close by whenever he was here. These first thirty six to forty eight hour, the Healer’s wanted him here at least twice a day to keep an eye on infection since he’d left the wound untended to for so long. After they were sure he wasn’t going to go rotten on them they’d likely shoo him off only to be seen a few times a sevenday for the next two sevenday until the stitches were removed.

He limped in a little bit after the Candidate Master. “Goooooddddd afternoon everyone!” As he went to move around one of the Healer apprentices near Yvesta, he hooked an arm around her waist and twirl her theatrically. “Who’s ready to unwrap the present that is me?” He teased.

As he he spun the poor girl, he slipped something into Ysveta’s bed. It was a small tablet sized piece of pottery and a thin stick of chalk. Cole had been bored out of his skull when M’kale had put him in here for so long. He’d had Daysa to keep him company. Daysa had promised to try to bring him paper to write music on back then. But finding any was nearly impossible. Still was. So this would have to do.

One of the kitchen workers had been chatting with Vi, somehow the topic came up that you could use eggshells to make chalk. Vi passed that information--and some scrap wherry eggshells over to Cole. The clay tablet shard had probably been a plate or larger bowl or something at one point in time. It was also likely a gift from his sister from the kitchens. It wasn’t paper. And it wasn’t permanent. But Cole had written out a few random notes in different places on it. Ysveta could choose to play his little “madlibs” game and fill in the blanks as she wanted to create a song. She could erase his work completely and do her own. Or she could very well ignore it and toss the thing away.

It seemed like Cole didn’t care since he didn’t acknowledge it or her as he flirted with the apprentice, who’d gotten her bearings and was smacking away his hands and leading him to a cot to be treated. He stopped following her when he caught sight of Oarlen and his head tilting as if he didn’t recognize the kid.

“You look,” he glanced over Oarlen’s small frame on the cot, unmarred by the usual firelizard coat he normally wore. “Less colorful.” Oarlen also looked smaller, more fragile. He made a mental note to encourage Vic to join in on the living flit wardrobe the kid seemed to enjoy. Speaking of Vic, he reached into a pocket a pulled out a very squished bag. “Here, Vic says hi.” The bag held an equally squished pie. Probably not standard fare for the Healer Hall but Cole had managed to swipe one in his sweep of the lunch crowd before heading here.

He blew a kiss at Savi and a wink and a bow toward Isalia before he paused at the cot he was to wait at. “So should I drop my pants here or?...” The apprentice didn’t look overly amused and simply pointed for him to lay down. Cole chuckled but finally moved onto the cot, belly down to wait to be looked at.

He laid his arms on the bed and propped his chin on them and looked to the Candidate Master, ignoring the throbbing in his leg that came from his overzealous, whirlwind entrance. The man looked entirely too comfortable here. He’d done this too many times before and probably not with just Candidates.

Spoiler for Hidden:
Um...attention hogging character so...tag everyone for mentions? xD @SirAlahn @CatTiff @Drewliet @Inki @Kyya but really, this was a bit disjointed and I was doing multiple things while writing it so if I've messed anything up or something doesn't work for anyone's charries just let me know and I'll redo.  :love:

Vic scrambled to cling to Cole’s chest, pressed between his bonded and Oarlen’s back. It was a good place. A safe place. Cole shook his head slowly as he watch Oarlen grin like a lunatic and taking in the view. “Careful,” he muttered as L’del moved to strap Oarlen in. “Your face will get stuck like that.” He said nothing as L’del strapped him in, knowing it would be a wasted effort to ask to not use the straps.

“Ready.” Colvin said, with surprising conviction. He wanted into the air. And soon enough he felt Idulth’s muscles shift and the prick of Vic’s talons pressing tighter against him and then they were in the air. It felt like a weight lifted off his shoulders immediately and soon enough he was grinning like a stupid lunatic just like Oarlen. The dragons and people below still prepping to either go to Southern Boll or to stay here and receive supplies as they came retreated to small specks as the bronze went higher. Not for the first time, Cole was surprised at how small their island really was, surrounded by the dark blue ocean. He didn’t have long to contemplate that vastness before the cold vastness of Between took them.

His gasp was lost in the nothingness and the darkness. And when they reappeared over the main continent, Colvin let out a gleeful yelp of pure unadulterated joy. “Wahooo! Yeah!” The warmth from the Rukbat immediately began to chase away the chill of Between and Cole craned against the straps wanting to see everything lain out beneath them as Idulth began his descent down. He leaned to the side, looking past Oarlen and L’del, looking to the north horizon. According to the maps in the Harper Hall, Nabol was somewhere out there in that wasteland to the north.

At L’del’s words, Cole tore his gaze away from the horizon and looking appraisingly at the ruins of Southern Boll. The stone roads were still there, Threadfall unable to break those down though Turns of disuse and neglect left them cracked and treacherous. Many of the buildings probably still stood, stone foundations at least but if Cole remembered the records correctly, Southern Boll was known for woven wicker furniture and Thread would have decimated that. Even stuff left in shelter would have broken down a lot quicker than rock.

He undid his straps, and like letting Oarlen go up first, was ready to help the smaller boy down first. “Ready?” He slipped an arm around Oarlen, shifting to help hoist him down to the bronze’s forearm.

But in that instance everything in his mind shifted on him, like someone turning a kaleidoscope and all the broken colored pieces that had settled precariously were now raining down again.

Cole was younger and smaller. He wasn’t in Southern Boll. He wasn’t on a dragon. He was in the Hold, on a wall. There was someone in his arms. Someone smaller than him, who trusted and loved him.
“I’ll help you down if you need it.”
He frowned, not knowing where that voice was coming from. When he looked down it was his sister he held. Cole blinked, trying to sort it out in his mind and in that span of blink his sister was there and then she was not. He scrambled to grab her again but she was already gone.

It was only a moment, tense moment where Cole froze, hand on Oarlen and the straps hanging around him. Vic sent a crashing sound through Cole’s head. It wasn’t an image, or even a word, just a sound, a firelizard equivalent to slapping someone back to their senses. He gave a little hiccup of a gasp, like as if he had been under water and just broken the surface, his lungs screaming for air. He tried to cover it up by letting the gasp trail into a cough, rubbing at his temples a headache already forming. Vic nuzzled Cole apologetically on the cheek, nipped his ear and then took off to the air to let the boys get down. “Whew,” he said voice calmer than he felt. “Between is no joke, huh Pipsqueak.” He quickly slid down to Idulth’s forelimb ahead of Oarlen, reaching up to help him from here. "Let's go before everyone else finds all the good stuff."

Cole glanced over at Calladren when the younger boy stopped beside him and spoke. His face was expressionless and he merely turned back away without so much as a word to Cal. When Oarlen came up on his other side, Cole smirked and with a seemingly decided purposefulness, ruffled Oarlen’s hair in almost a “rub it in” sort of way to Cal. “Hey there Pipsqueak.”

Oarlen wasn’t wrong. A dragonrider certainly did beat--well--anything. As did the thought of getting to explore one of the abandoned Holds. “It’s been close to four decades since anyone has lived there.” He murmured with a muted tone of excitement, a gleam in his eyes that was normally only there when he played music, was flirting with a particularly worthy and interesting girl (or boy), or when he was high.

They didn’t have to wait long. One of the Mountain brown riders singled him out and told him to follow and just in case L’del might have meant Calladren, or just in case there was any confusion, Cole grabbed onto what little piece of Oarlen’s sleeve he could get to underneath the shirt of firelizards he wore.

“C’mon kid, let’s go see it!” They were going to get to see the world. At least far more of it than Cole had ever seen before.

As he followed L’del, he leaned over to whisper not so softly to Oarlen, still holding onto the kid’s shoulder as if he were afraid he lose him again like he had in the riot. “Do you know which one that is?” He asked nodding to L’del. Cole didn’t know many of the Mountain Riders, they weren’t around enough to have Candidates assigned to them very often for chores. He knew riders from Beach and Prairie from chores and from Jungle to know who to avoid, but Mountain was a mystery. Hopefully the guy wasn’t a complete asshole.

Colvin was settled into the common area of the Barracks, leaning back in a chair, feet up on the desk as he plucked absently at his lute. Vic was curled up in his lap, the rift between him and the blue flit all but forgotten after their little make up session post-Riot. Basically Cole did what he did best and didn’t talk about what Vic had done and Vic was just happy to be back with him with no more threats of being drowned.

He glanced up as O’sir came in and got the Candidates’ attention. Another chore. Great. But as the Candidate Master talked and explained what was happened, Cole felt the tingle of true excitement in his stomach. Mountain Wing was going to the Weaver Hall. There were records. (Part of his brain also registered the word “needles” in the rattling of supplies O’sir said the Mountain Riders were hoping to bring back.) But what caught Colvin’s attention most of all was the words “Southern Boll Hold.”

All of Cole’s life had been confined to Fort Hold and now this sharding Weyr.  Other than a few times of Niema taking him to the mainland to one of the deserted beaches, he’d never actually been anywhere else on Pern. In that all-consuming way Cole had, he now needed to go to Southern Boll. He needed to see it.

His boots hit the ground only a second before the front two legs of his chair did and before the sound of the legs hitting the floor even faded he was up and moving. Vic trilled in surprise as he was unceremoniously dumped from Cole’s lap, barely managing to flap his wings in time to not be the third thump on the floor following Cole’s boots and the legs of the chair. He put his lute away and grabbed a jacket as he moved with decided determination to get to the Weyrbowl.

One of the senior Weavers was shepherding the gathering crowd into groups, one to go and one to stay. As the Weaver pointed to him and motioned towards the group that was staying and then pointed to another Candidate near him and pointed to the group going, Colvin acted immediately, shoving the other Candidate towards the group that would remain and making a beeline towards the dragon riders. The Weaver sorting people didn’t seem to care, as long as a body went to Mountain and a body stayed here.

Cole didn’t know many of the Mountain Riders and so he hung back, appraising the group and trying to pick out which one would be the easiest to work with and the least likely to be on his ass the whole time.

Solo Archive / Aftermath // [13.02.2590 5AM] SOLO
« on: May 24, 2016, 06:41:19 AM »
Colvin had just fallen asleep less than two marks earlier after having been up most the night restless and edgy and holed up in the common room working on songs as a way to get his mind off his pent up energy.

His sleep didn’t last long though before someone came into the Barracks and ripped the furs from him. Vic let out a terrified trill and Colvin nearly fell out of the bed. “Huh—wha—”, he stuttered, voice thick with sleep as he tried to figure out what the hell was going on. He didn’t get a chance too before the intruder had him by the ear and was dragging him from the room.

It took until they’d gotten out of the barracks for Colvin, tripping and trying to keep up with whoever was dragging him along, to realize who his abductor was. Lorna. Colvin groaned. “Owwww, can you let me go?”

“Keep that mouth of yours shut.” Was the only response he got. Soon enough they were in the bathing springs and Colvin showed remarkable restraint (at least he thought so) by not making some inappropriately lewd comment about the Headwoman dragging Candidates from their beds for early morning trysts in the bathing pools.

He groaned again when he saw which pool they were heading too. “You are not leaving here until this pool is perfectly clean again.” She said, finally releasing him as they arrived at the pool where Colvin had been shit bombed the evening prior.

“Have you seen what goes on in these pools? I don’t think it was ever really clean.” Colvin said, stifling a yawn and scratching the back of his head as he gave the muddied brown water a sidelong look. Lorna just rolled her eyes in exasperation and thrust a handled strainer to him. The net was woven tightly, it would allow the water to flow through but trap any dirt or particles. There was a bucket for him to dispose of the waste he cleaned out.

It didn’t even occur to him in his half-awake state until after Lorna had left him to his task that he could have pleaded ignorance. How had the woman even known this was his fault? The absurdity of that question made him snort with laughter. Who else would it be? With a heavy sigh, Colvin got to it. Dipping the strainer into the water, pulling it through the muck, and then dumping it in the bucket, over and over.

People started coming around as the morning got later, people looking to bathe before they started their days. Most people ignored him. A few stopped to chat, or flirt, but kept their distance because of the smell. Some took the opportunity to tease him. None of it really bothered him, he played whatever part he needed depending on who he was entertaining.

Finally the trickle of people seemed to slow and he got back on track with the task. Colvin didn’t think O’sir would be happy if he was late to his normal chores and he didn’t fancy having to explain to the Candidate Master why.

“Well, it looks like the riders finally got something right,” a voice drawled behind him and Colvin flinched. “Clearly they’ve found the perfect use for you.”

“And a lovely morning to you too Uncle,” Colvin plastered his carefree, smug grin on his face before turning to face his half-brother. Verran glared at him coldly. “Did dear old Dad let you down off the puppet strings to go out on your own again? Look at you all grown up and stuff.”

His brother merely grinned. “I can’t wait to see your face when your useless ass gets kicked out by the riders and you have to come crawling back to the family, tail between your legs like a dog. Like you’d ever be good for anything but cleaning up shit. The Harpers won’t take you back, you’re going to fail out of Candidacy, and then you’ll realize this family was all that made you anything.”

Verran stepped forward and gripped the back Colvin’s neck hard, he also knocked over the bucket letting the watery mess inside spill out onto the cavern floor. Verran smirked. “I’ll be sure to let Virilise know I saw you and you said hello,” Verran said idly and with a tone Colvin didn’t wholly like. “I’ll probably have to be pretty specific though, you think she even remembers anymore what you look like?”

His stomach churned sickeningly and it wasn’t from the smell. “It’s a shame that rider didn’t do us all a favor and get rid of you for good. You think they’re ever going to respect you? They have you cleaning up shit like a drudge. It’s an insult to the blood line of our family.” Colvin winced as Verran’s fingers dug into the back of his neck. “You’re an insult to the blood line of our family.”

“You’re an idiot, you know that?” Colvin said trying to smile despite clenched teeth. Verran’s hatred of the riders ran almost as deep as Vandrae’s, which wasn’t all that surprising. His brother had been at Nabol when it fell and like their father blamed it on the riders rather than making his father take responsibility for his mistakes as a Lord Holder. “You’re so eager to please him that you can’t see anything else.”

Colvin didn’t understand his brother on the best of days but insane as it was he did understand Verran’s need to gain their father’s approval. Despite every step he took to press his family’s buttons, a part of Colvin yearned for that acceptance too, for his father to finally tell him something other than how worthless he was. But he couldn’t do it, he couldn’t be a tool for Nabol’s Lord to use in his own personal vendettas. He couldn’t be idle while Vandrae terrorized the people around him and pushed his sister around like a pawn.

Verran’s hand finally let go and the man ruffled Colvin’s hair as if they were the epitome of a normal older/young brother relationship, as if they were a normal family. “I’ll be at your last hatching little brother. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Colvin watched as Verran walked away, standing there still and quiet long after the man’s echoing steps had faded down the tunnel. He turned suddenly and kicked the knocked over bucket. The metal clang with a loud thud against the stone. It was a stupid reaction, he was only making more mess to be cleaned up.

“Vic, go check on Vi and Terra.” He snapped. The blue fire lizard popped Between and Colvin set to cleaning up the renewed mess. It didn’t take long for Vic to return with insistent images of Vi and Terra perfectly fine and prepping for the morning’s breakfast in the kitchens. 

It was late by the time he finished and he bounced on the balls of his feet as Lorna inspected the pool and cavern. “Hmm, I suppose the smell will eventually go away on its own.” She muttered, eyeing the water critically.

“Yes, well I thought about farting to try and freshen the place up but between you and me the runner shit is a better smell.” He remarked dryly. The Headwoman gave him a withering look and Colvin cleared his throat and managed to look somewhat chastised.

“Since you’re late for chores, you’re being sent down to the crèche to lend an extra hand for the remainder of the morning.” Lorna told him. Colvin wrinkled his nose. “Errr, you sure there aren’t any more shit pools I can clean out instead?”

The woman glared at him and pointed down the tunnel. “Go!”

“And the Hunter stalked through the dense trees, looking for the perfect little child to snap up in its jaws for lunch,” Colvin recited in a deep, slow, creepy voice as he stalked around the make shift stage he’d set up in the crèche. He’d hung a bedfur against the wall behind him to act as a backdrop, pushed a couple cots with green or brown sheets up on their sides to act as trees and rocks, and he’d arranged glows in a semi-circle in front of him to define the stage area. The glows also worked to throw eerie shadows across his body and face as he put on his show for the gaggle of children around him.

If there was one thing Colvin knew how to do, it was make a stage out of anything. Some of the crèche workers had given him long looks and exasperated sighs when he had started moving the furniture around but the kids were entertained and relatively quiet and he hadn’t really done anything wrong. Yet.

“Slowly, carefully, the Hunter crept up on the unsuspecting girl,” Colvin moved between the glows into the crowd of kids. A few of the younger ones squeaked in anticipation or scooted away from him as he picked his way between them. “The air in the jungle stilled, the quiet was almost deafening. Shhh, listen carefully, can you hear it?” He asked a pretty little red headed girl sitting indian-style to his left. She looked up at him wide-eyed and nodded somberly.

“Then, with speed like you’ve never seen the Hunter pounced!” He spun abruptly, hands raised into make shift claws and snarled at another girl on his right. Several of the children jumped and screamed and laughed.

“It looked like the poor girl was surely done for, resigned to meeting a horrifically bloody death! But wait! Out of the sky came a heartening roar!” Vic, perched up on the top of one of the brown-sheeted cots trilled musically. “A blue dragon swooped from the sky to save the little girl!” The flit flew through the air, hitting Colvin in the chest solidly and he grunted and swayed where he stood. “The Hunter and the dragon fought fiercely!” He pretended to struggle and battle with his flit, dropping to the ground, rolling around dramatically.

“Alas! The dragon cannot win by itself! It needs the help of its Wingmates and the brave children of the Weyr!” At that the children swarmed over him, a dog pile of little arms and legs and laughter and squeals.

“Oh! The inhumanity of it all!” Colvin wailed as he let the kids pile on top of him before he jerked and fell motionless to the ground, eyes shut as he played dead. Cheering and whooping with their victory most of the kids began chasing each other around and a group lifted Vic up, showering the flit with attention as they carried their new “king dragon” around the crèche.

Colvin remained dead on the floor, a single solid weight on his stomach, until that little weigh tugged on his shirt. He opened one eye and saw the dark haired girl he had “attacked” as a Hunter. He brought a finger to his lips, “sshhhh, I’m dead.”

“You dropped this.” She said holding out the roughly carved little dragon one of the healer girls had given him, insisting that he’d soon Impress. “It fell out of your pocket.”

Colvin opened both eyes then, propping himself up on both elbows to look at the child on his stomach. The position made it so they were eye to eye. “Do you ever get scared?” He asked her quietly.

She met his gaze steadily but nodded quickly without a word. Colvin’s lips twitched with the hint of an actual smile. He reached out and closed her fingers around the little wooden figure. “You keep him then. He’ll keep you safe.”

“But he’s black, the black dragons are bad.” But the girl didn’t let it go once Colvin had wrapped her fingers around it. Instead her thumb ran gently along the black wood.

With that mindset Colvin might have guessed at least one of her parents were a Jungle Rider. He didn’t ask her though. He didn’t even ask her name. Maybe it was because he knew many of the children here had no idea who their parents were. Maybe he just didn’t want the answer to that question to be him, if this was his daughter he didn’t want to know. And if she was, she was better off not knowing him. He was pretty sure she wasn’t one of his though. His only daughter had been with Ianathe and this dark haired, serious girl didn’t resemble the fiery green rider.

“No they aren’t. A dragon is a dragon and all dragons protect us. Okay?”

She looked at him skeptically, then looked down at the toy in her hand, and then after a long moment she looked back up at him with a small smile and nodded. He grinned and scooped her up as he stood. “Good, now let’s go get Vic before you lot spoil him and he begins to think he actually is a king.” She squealed as she wrapped her arms around his neck and he carried her over to where the others were.

Solo Archive / Worse Off For The Wear [06.01.2590 6am] SOLO
« on: May 27, 2015, 06:45:58 AM »
When Colvin woke up he panicked slightly. The stiffness and pain hit him like a wall and for a second he forgot how to breathe. Gripping the cot sheets he tried to sit up but the shock of pain that flared from his ribs put a quick end to that. He lay there, waiting for his breathing to even out, a soft whistle coming from the tube in his side as he took in as much air as his ribs would allow before the pain got to be too much. Everything hurt. His muscles were tight and stiff, his joints didn’t want to move, his vision was blurry from the swelling and injury to his eye.

One of his hands unclenched, sliding across the bed once the pain had dulled to a barely tolerable amount. His hand didn’t hit anything, Daysa was gone. He knew she couldn’t have stayed though he’d asked her too. He also knew she had probably stayed as long as she was able but it still made him sad to wake up alone. The space next to him seemed so empty without her there.

The soft bustling movements of the Healer Hall as the workers began their day floated in from outside the cavern he was in. But here, there was no one here. There was no one left to put on a brave face for, no one to perform for. Niema and K’mar had their own schedules to attend to. O’sir had his other Candidates. Daysa had her chores. Vi might not even know yet what had happened and he would keep it that way for as long as he could so as not to worry her. Vic was off, Faranth knew where.

The full weight of yesterday’s events settled on him and he squeezed his eyes shut.

Cole let out the most ragged breath imaginable, a hiccupping thing that wanted to be a cry but was strangled in his throat. He thought back to what had taken place in the lower caverns. That kind of violence, especially unprovoked, didn’t make sense to him. Sure he’d said some smartass things to the rider, but nothing too terrible in his mind. It hadn’t been until M’kale mentioned his father that things made any sense at all. Even then, he was used to people not liking him, resenting him, blaming him even for his father’s opinions and actions, but that kind of violence? Funnily enough the only person who’d ever come close to inflicting that kind of violence on him was, his father.

The fight replayed over and over in his mind and he knew he was going to go crazy. He had nothing here to distract him. No one to talk to. No instrument to play. No paper to write on. Nothing to read. Daysa said she’d come back but that would be marks and marks from now.

“Hello!” He yelled out. “Anyone out there?”

A worker popped her head in. “Yes?”

Colvin’s face shifted into his performing one, all smooth charm and smiles. “Good morning beautiful,” he didn’t even bother trying to wink at her. His face felt lumpy and raw. “Could a poor guy get something for the pain? And would it be possible to have the Harpers bring some records down for me to read? Something to pass the time?”

The woman snorted and looked over her shoulder to speak to someone out of sight. “Hey, Analis. Did you know we had the Weyrleader in here? Wants records brought down, a little something to read with his breakfast in bed.” She said with a laugh and even Colvin had to grin at her sarcasm. Touché, pretty healer woman, touché. He sighed and laid back to stare at the ceiling.

The rest of the day passed agonizingly slow. He kept trying to get up and do something, anything. Only to be forced back into bed by a Healer. Even the ones he flirted with were getting fed up with his inability to listen. He’d talk their ear off when anyone came to give him his pain medication, change his bandages, check on his lung, or bring food. He tried to get each of them to stay as long as possible just so he wouldn’t be alone again with his thoughts. Alone with himself.

The Weyr was continuing on without him. Probably continuing on for the better. O’sir wouldn’t have to be stressed over whether he was getting his chores done or pissing someone else off or worry that Colvin would be dropped at his door again after some incident or another. Niema and K’mar would be focused on their rider tasks, and each other.

His father had stopped by the Healer Hall, Colvin hadn’t seen him but had tensed hearing the man’s voice outside the entrance of where he lay, talking with the Healers. All he cared to know was whether the boy’s injuries were life threatening or had the potential to cause any permanent damage. After he was assured Colvin would heal up just fine given time and rest, all his father cared about was ranting against the riders and the rider who’d done this. It was an odd feeling then, the seething hatred towards his father and the strange comradery and support he felt for M’kale against the ex-Lord Holder.

Night fell and his restlessness increased. He was purposefully fidgeting and moving because the pain was the only thing keeping him occupied and interrupting his dark trains of thought. Daysa would come though, soon hopefully, and she’s crawl into his bed like she’d been doing for the last decade of turns and he’d pull her to him and they’d talk and he could kiss her and hold her and she’d soothe him to sleep.

But she didn’t come. The marks dragged on and Colvin had run out of excuses, ’she’s running late with her chores’, ‘she’s trying to find sheet paper to bring me’ ‘she’s waiting until I fall asleep so she can sneak into bed and surprise me.’ She wasn’t coming. She had said she’d be back tonight. She wasn’t coming.

Cole let out a strangled groan, pressing his palms tightly to his eyes, not caring at the pain it cause from the bruises and the fracture there. His body hummed with the ever present throbbing of hurt.

He was a wreck, and not just physically. He wanted to be better. He thought of Niema and Vorloruth and their kindness on the desolate beaches of a dead Pern. Of his and K’mar’s night time confessional, and the Wingsecond and his dragon’s confidence that he could be a rider. Kayden’s insistence that he wasn’t a bad guy. And Daysa, Daysa and her never dying optimism.

“I’m trying.” He whispered to no one. “I’m trying and no one cares. I’m always going to be him.” He was always going to be Colvin, the smart mouthed kid who didn’t care about anyone, who used people and then tossed them away like they were nothing. His worst fear wasn’t that he was going to be his father; he already knew he wasn’t his father. Everyone else assumed he was his father. His worst fear was that he was going to be himself.

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