So you think I'm clever, hmm? Elora grinned, looking at him out of the corner of her eye. She didn't comment on it, though; she just kept the grin on her face.
There were no warm fuzzies in her stomach. Or, rather, the ones that were there simply didn't exist. This wasn't any different than something normal. It was a normal ride on a dragon- it's a freaking ride on a dragon with an attractive man who seems to be able to keep me up on a mental level and doesn't just want to throw me on to the bed even though he seems to appreciate that side of me as well.
As they exited the hall, his comment sent her hand flying over her mouth, quickly distracting her from all of her thoughts as she resisted the urge to laugh. She bit her lip, still half covering her mouth as she turned to him, wrapping an arm around her stomach. Her eyes lingered on his face, waiting for him to realize what he had just said. Because I'd rather see him blush from his own thoughts than see my words trigger it.
He realized there was something the matter when she did not respond, yet when he turned and stopped, he found himself more confused than ever. Clearly something was funny, but just what that was, he had no idea. “Is something the matter?” N’kio arched an eyebrow and gave her a once-over. “What? I don’t under…” he paused and looked down, thinking that perhaps it was something on him. No, that’s not it. What does she find so amusing? Was it something I had –
Then, he gasped.
N’kio brought a hand to his mouth and felt his face heat up. Oh no. No, no, I can’t believe I… He lifted his eyes to meet Elora’s and saw it, clear as day, in her expression. He nervously cleared his throat and lowered his hand. “I…That did not—” He paused, caught himself, and continued. “I did not mean for what I said to sound so…” It was then that he realized something crucial, and it was this small detail that made up for anything he had said. A roguish grin lit up his face.
“You were thinking of…of us. Or at least, you were thinking of me in that sort of manner. Weren’t you? Oh, this is a twist! Can’t say I blame you, though, if I am being perfectly honest.” He laughed to himself, but shortly after crossed his arms and adopted an air of control. “Well, I’m sure you would like to know, wouldn’t you?” he asked in a haughty tone of voice, looking down at Elora once more.
His obliviousness made her grin wider. His blush made her giggle harder. His grin sent her into a quiet fit of laughter.
And his self-assured smugness had her laughing. "Oh, dear darling N'kio." She tried to stop laughing and failed, giggling for a second before taking a few deep breaths to calm the spasms of her chest muscles. "You sound so smug. But really - it's not like I didn't notice you looking."
She stepped towards him, body slipping into the habits of years as a seductress. She didn't mean to; she couldn't help it. But still, she arched her back, leaning forward until her lips were just a hair's breath away from his ear.
And she could have said anything, agreeing with him, something to make him blush again. The husky whisper she used had sent better men than him off the deep end.
"But let's face it, I've already realized that if anything came to be in that sort of matter, I wouldn't be impressed."
And she pulled back away from him, twitched her lips back into a grin, and whirled around, half skipping towards Metanath.
She had a wonderful laugh. He continued to grin as he watched her regain her composure. “Yes, well, be that as it may,” he replied, “now I know you are paying attention. That changes everything.” When she began to move closer, he unconsciously splayed his legs for balance, uncertain of what she was planning to do.
Any self-control he thought he had nearly vanished when she leaned in close and whispered in his ear. Her breath, hot against his neck, sent a flood of warmth up and down his body. He shifted where he stood and forced himself to pay attention to what she was saying – her closeness to him was making that difficult. But when he realized what she was saying, he blushed even harder. So, this is what she thinks of me! He had half a mind to retort when she leapt away and began to move on toward Metanath. N’kio smirked, a bit chagrined, but followed her all the same.
Has something happened? came a sleepy voice.
No, not particularly. Are you ready?
I am always ready, replied Metanath, who had been dozing off with a wing draped over his face. He stretched out both wings and rose to his feet, looking up at the sky as he did so. Still clear. Where are we going?
Not sure. Just a general fly-around of the Weyr. N’kio caught up to Elora, and this time, it was he who whispered in her ear. “If anything did come to be, I can assure you, that would not be a concern.” He moved away from her and began to readjust Metanath’s saddle and flying straps, glancing her way every so often as he took visual measurements. “Now, you did not answer my question,” he stated in his normal tone of voice. “Was there any place in particular you wanted to see while we flew?”
Elora watched Metanath unfold his wings. Dragons were beautiful creatures.
N'kio's breath, hot on her neck, sent a flood of warmth up and down her body. She shifted, turning her head slightly and forcing herself to pay attention to what he was saying - his sudden closeness to her was making it difficult. The grin returned to her face at his comment as he moved towards the saddle. I can't tell if he's flirting or just being defensive. Mmm.
She watched as he fixed Metanath's saddle, taking a few steps closer and curiously observed what he was doing. "I have no place to call home, nor any place I am particular attached to, so wherever you'd like to go."
An idea was playing in her mind on where they could go, but she didn't know how he'd react. He might consider it an invasion of privacy. But she was quite curious.
Very well, replied Metanath. He turned his head to look at Elora. Thank you for asking.
N’kio moved to the other side and cinched up the chest strap, eyes wandering over the dragon as he checked to make certain everything was in its proper place. After he made some adjustments to the aft neck strap and the billets, he ran his hands under the leather and smoothed out the woolen undersides. How does that feel?
Metanath shifted his shoulders and flexed his wings. Normal.
And your hide?
As well as can be expected, considering the sun.
We’ll be out of it soon, don’t worry. N’kio gently ran a hand over the dragon’s neck, and then returned to the task at hand. After shortening the toe loops, he moved back around to the side where Elora stood. “This Weyr will be your home soon, just give it time. But, fair enough,” he shrugged as he unbuckled his belt. “As I am sure you’ve read, a riding belt is a requirement for all riders. It is your main tether to your dragon, and should keep you from falling off – if prepared correctly. Which this is, so don’t worry.” He extended a hand and offered his belt to her. “Now, go ahead and put this on. Once you’re ready, climb up and I’ll strap you in.”
There were plenty of possible innuendos and comments that could have been made out of that, but they all - well, most of them - slipped out of her head. The excitement at the now-reality of the flight bubbled up from her toes and into her head.
She took the belt from him, looking at it for a moment before beginning to put it on. "You do have one for yourself? Though watching you fall would be entertaining, it would also be tragic, so please don't do that." She flashed him a small smile, unable to banter now; not really, not with so much sheer giddy joy flowing through her.
She tried to hide it, though; even if it sparkled out of her eyes and beamed out of her smile, she could pretend like it wasn't. No sense in making this out to be something ridiculously exciting and dear to her.
“I’m sure that would be a sight to see,” he laughed. Her excitement and smile were positively infectious.
Metanath, however, nudged him hard in the side. It would not. That is no laughing matter.
Always the joker, aren’t you? N’kio ran a hand over the dragon’s chest in an attempt to calm him. Don’t worry. We have done this before, and the day is clear. It would be a good exercise.
Fine, but if you fall off, I will not catch you.
Fine by me. Who knows, might even be fun.
Oh, you are the worst, Metanath snorted.
He shook his head and returned his attention to Elora. “No, you have the only one I have with me today. At the risk of sounding suggestive yet again,” he added, with a mischievous glimmer in his eyes, “let me just state that I have more experience, as well as quite a few more years than you, where riding bareback is concerned. Though you aren't advised to fly that way, I would much rather you be safer. But I thank you for the concern. It’s most appreciated."
At the risk of sounding suggestive, she didn't correct him. It didn't matter how long he had been alive; Elora definitley had more experience. That tends to happen when you make a living, well, riding bareback.
"You've done this before, haven't you? Just to see if you could." She put everything in place, double checking it, and continued to talk without looking at him. A tendril of hair escaped and curled down, framing her face. "You're the kind of man who would push himself just to see how far he could go."
Unbidden, Metanath lowered himself to the ground and waited for Elora to mount up. The time was nigh. He folded and refolded his wings against his sides, anxious to be off and flying once more. N’kio had his oceans, and he had his skies.
“I have. Or rather, we both have, even if he won’t admit it,” he said, thoughts directed to the dragon beside him. He dropped to one knee and checked the belt and its buckle, if only out of habit, before standing once more. “You see much. It is true, though, we have flown like this many a time. Ever the unruly Weyrling, I was told my disregard for personal safety was a phase, and yet…I still cannot resist a challenge. Nor Metanath, once he puts his mind to it. This applies to any sort of personal trial, really. Anything that catches our eye and makes us wonder if we would dare to try it. We would push ourselves until we could go no further, and even then, we would fight all the harder to see what we were made of. In truth, it will more than likely be the death of me,” he smiled to himself. “But that makes life precious, and all the more interesting, I think. But now is not the time for that sort of talk. We have a flight to start, after all! Whenever you’re ready, Elora.”
Elora slid over to Metanath and reached up, mounting the dragon carefully.
She liked listening to N'kio talk - which was rare, considering men usually had few things of interest to say, and she normally liked them doing, well, other things with their mouths. But he was interesting. And she liked the way he looked at life.
Especially the bit about daring to try and pushing until they could go no further. She liked that bit a lot.
But it wasn't about her. (At least, she was pretty sure it wasn't.)
She turned her head to the side, hair swinging around in an arc and landing on the other side of her head. "I was born ready," she chirped, giving a zealously overdramatic smile.
“That’s good,” N’kio proclaimed, and swung up behind Elora in a swift, practiced motion. He adjusted himself quickly, moving his legs forward and keeping the heels of his boots down. “Because we…” he began, his hands moving past her waist as he buckled her to Metanath,“…are just about ready to go.” Taking a look over Elora's shoulder, he eyed her straps with scrutiny, tugging a few tighter as he saw fit. “That should do it,” he announced.
Once he pulled his hands back to his sides, it was only then that he realized just how closely they would be flying. Her back, flush against his chest, his hips touching hers. He did not even have to lean forward to talk to her. “Well, this is rather cozy,” he murmured in her ear, resisting the urge to smile at the revelation.
If I didn’t know you any better, I’d say you had planned this out from the beginning.
Just lucky, I suppose. N’kio rested a hand behind him, and the other he placed on Elora’s waist. “How is the belt? Does it feel too loose? You should be able to lean forward, but not so far that it will not catch you if you lean sideways.” He could feel Metanath stir and tense up beneath him. He gripped at him with his thighs, the keenness of his dragon starting to affect him as well. He, too, longed for the skies, that second ocean.
Metanath held his wings aloft, shifting his muscles where he stood, ready to climb the air.
Patience, patience, N’kio reassured, running a hand over the smooth, black hide. Wait for her confirmation.
I know. Not too high, right?
That's right. I doubt she's used to the altitude. Just skim.
If she hadn't known better, she'd say he sounded concerned. "It's fine! Let's go." She turned her head, grinning at him from over her shoulder.
She tried not to focus on the other things - how she curled into into his chest; the vague feel of a single loose strand of hair brushing against his beard; the heat from his legs heating up her own. She ignored the movement of his muscles so close to her body, from the tightening of his thighs to the way his hand curled around her waist.
And she certainly wasn't going to let her mind wander towards what those muscles and that heat could do. Nope. Not at all. She was going to focus on the flight and only the flight and-
Sweet eggs, I get to fly. Her grin grew broader and she snapped her head back forward, eyes glittering eagerly with anticipation.
Metanath leapt. He pushed down hard with his wings, body undulating as he shaped the air and rose higher off the ground. The Weyr Bowl fell away beneath him, and the wind whipped at his face, but he had eyes only for the sky. Once he had risen enough in height, a cool current of air ballooned the membranes of his wings. Instinctively he stretched his wings to their fullest, turning at last into a glide. He looked down at the Weyr. Those still on the ground were as small as flies, and he allowed himself to sink in elevation, not wanting to go too high too fast. Metanath returned his attentions ahead of him and tilted his body to bank around a large Brown. Smooth sailing from here, he announced to N’kio. You still hanging on?
As if you could toss me off, he replied with a smirk, shifting his hips as he adjusted to the curve of the flight. He yawned into his hand as they settled in the new altitude. It was not difficult for him – but how Elora fared, he was not sure. She was certainly eager to fly.
Metanath took the initiative. Let me know if you start to feel unwell, and I will descend, he said to Elora. Is this too high for you? He flapped his wings lazily and turned toward the Weyr’s lake, letting the air currents do most of the work.
The wind brushing against her face, the way the earth fell away from them, the way everything else seemed miniscule - it was beautiful. How are people afraid of heights? This is gorgeous.
As Metanath's wings snapped out, a smile slowly began to spread over her face. Was this what it was like to be a Rider? To be soaring above everything, waiting for danger, protecting the ground - and the people - below when it came? True; real danger hadn't been in the Weyr for years. But this was brilliant. Gorgeous.
If people were always this small, she'd probably like the world more.
Metanath's question just made her laugh, and she replied outloud absently. "Unwell? You're not the only one who likes to push themselves, darling. I'm not the least bothered." The sight of the lake, sparkling and twisting in the light, made her grin more.