Like Sand Through The Hourglass

Participants:

Max.jpg Randi.jpg Hope.jpg

Date: 2011.05.20
Location: EW - Lakeshore
Synopsis: Max taking Hope for an early morning walk the next day encounters Randi and Kaseth at the lakeshore. Old wounds are touched upon and new confusion added to the mix.
Rating: PG13
Logger: Max

For once, it seems, the weather decides to cooperate. Though the hour is early, the day already promises to be a scorcher. Taking advantage of the quiet this morning time affords, Randi - stripped down to plain black breastband and underthings - is waist-deep in the lake, sudsing up her petite gold with a bucket full of sweetsand and what looks like it might be a stiff-bristled runner brush. Her hair is - for once - left to hang loose in waves and curls down past her shoulders, the ends turned into corkscrews by the water's touch. Despite the flammable way she left company the day before, the young weyrwoman seems calm, now. Her gold's eyes whirl in their usual soothing blue tones and Randi even hums an old Harper's tune under her breath.

Early morning is when Max sets time aside to spend with his scallywag of a daughter for despite how trying she can be on occasion; the time spent with Hope always seems to lighten his mood, boding well for the day ahead. As such the lisping chatter of the toddler accompanied by the occasional deeper rumbling response from her father as they meander their way to the lakeshore, heralds their approach. That is until Hope spots the gold being bathed in the lake and suddenly yanks her hand from around the grasp she’d had around the beast manager’s forefinger and goes dashing toward the water’s edge calling out, “Hi. Hi pwetty dwagon.” It’s Randi, clad in very little and wet that of course catches Max’s attention he coming to a stop a few paces back from where the water laps the shore, “Don’t go gettin’ yourself wet now, love. Indi’ll pitch a fit.” To which the dark haired two turn old turns around, puts a scowl to the man, flaps hand in his direction and says, “Shoosh, ‘shole.”

The sound of a voice - and such a young one, at that - breaking the morning stillness has Randi turning around to investigate the intrusion. The sight of Hope is mildly alarming - children so young are rarely seen without their crechemates and nannies in tow - but as her gaze travels back to another voice, Randi settles and smiles. That voice, she recognizes. "Hello, Hope." For who else would Max be escorting to the lakeshore? She hefts her bucket and brush into more carryable positions and wades into shallower water, her petite queen following. "Surely it's warm enough she could come - " and it's at that point that she catches the childish slurring of what she's pretty sure is not a nice name to be calling anyone - let alone your Da. "Did she just…?" She laughs outright. "I like her already, Max! She saw right through you."

Randi, wet and wading out of the water…Max goes blank and then clearing his throat flips her 'the bird' when Hope's back is turned (wouldn't want her to learn that one) for the laughing comment. "S'better'n bastard," he returns with a smirk to which the little one's head swings around hopefully, "Where Bastard?” It's the greeting from the approaching goldrider that suddenly turns her shy. "Hi," comes softly in response and then she spies Kaseth following on behind Randi and she bends, little arms throwing open wide and fingers wriggling in a come hither gesture as she croons, "Cooome dwagon, Hope not hurchoo." Dubious the look Max sends between Hope and Randi, "It ain't about the swimmin' so much as her doin' it with her kit on." And already the toddler is edging toward walking into the water, sandals and all.

With the same reflexes that make her an adept rider and dragonhealer, Randi leaves the bucket in the shallows - the brush inside - and scoops up young Hope before she can get too far in. It's a smooth motion to sit the kid on her hip as she makes her way back up towards dry sand. "Kaseth says she'd be more than happy to come say hello, especially if you'll help me give her a bath. But we can't do that with all your clothes on, see? Wet clothes weigh a lot and we certainly don't want you to sink." Not that they'd be anywhere near deep enough for that to be a problem, but it's an explanation maybe the kid will buy. Setting her down gently on the sand, Randi drops to one knee and holds out her hand for one of Hope's feet. "I'll help get your shoes off. Arsehole over there can manage the dress, don't you think?" She speaks looking at Hope directly, a conspiratorial smile on her lips, but the smile doesn't fade when she looks over the child's shoulder at Max. Instead, it broadens. "C'mon, Arsehole." The tip of her tongue pokes out between her teeth as she grins cheekily up at him. "Help me get her out of this, then you can kit off and help us clean Kass."

At first Hope’s eyes go wide when she’s scooped up and she leans back putting Randi under a solemn dark eyed gaze so similar to her sire’s, sizing the goldrider up. And then a smile blossoms and she’s nodding vigorously to the terms laid out about getting undressed first and wriggling to be set down, “Hope help. Make Kasef aaaall shiny.” Bum in the sand she lifts a foot, attention firmly fixed on the gold in the water before she lifts a look to the goldrider and back over her shoulder to Max who is looking on with a dubious expression in place. “Come ‘shole,” imperiously lending her voice to Randi’s as she tries to get herself out of her dress and ends up with it stuck halfway up her face. With a sigh the beast manager relents and hunkering down behind the toddler quickly gets the buttons undone and hauls the dress up over her head, tossing it to one side without the niceties a woman might employ like turning it the right way around or folding it. A brow goes up for Randi’s last however. “You’re a cruel, cruel woman,” he returns to being told to get his kit off, “’Sides, you know what they say, two’s company and all that. I’ll stay here and watch the clothes.” Because you never know who might want to steal the clothing of two adults and a child, right? Riiight. Dropping silent a moment, putting the goldrider under closer study, “You okay, darlin’?” referencing the tensions of the day before in his office.

Sandal the First comes off without a hitch, followed shortly thereafter by Sandal the Second. Randi very nearly chokes in the process of trying to keep a straight face as Hope pipes up to 'shole' as well. She tosses both shoes in a gentle arc to land near where Max has tossed the dress and grins at him - unashamed. "Mark this day in the records, Hope. Your Da just said no to taking his clothes off." She keeps her tone light, looking back down into the child's face. "He probably just doesn't want to give us a chance to show how much better girls are with dragons." Is that a hint of her old bronzerider prejudice rearing its ugly head again? Maybe, but she doesn't tell. Kaseth has moved to the shallowest waters - lying where there's no danger to the small human. With Hope all set, Randi helps her up and looks down at the girl. "I'll race you to Kass! Last one there's a smelly Seacrafter!" And she'll wait until the kid decides to take off before turning to Max - her expression more serious. "I got used to people bein' able to see the sense in orders I gave." A touch of sadness creeps into her tone. "Only one that ever really argued was D'lan and at least his protests made sense." One hand reaches up to tuck behind her ear a stray strand of hair being used as a plaything for the morning breeze. "Maybe that wasn't such a good thing." That last is just barely breathed, for a moment, her brown eyes are haunted. Then she blinks and without another word turns to jog down to where Kaseth has her head in the sand, eyeing Hope with curiosity. "Shells, Hope. You're too quick for these old bones!"

Left in just a pair of sweetly frilled pantaloons with stars embroidered along the waistband and free of her shoes, Hope scrambles to her feet with the help offered and then pauses to swing a questioning look first to Randi and then Max, “Da?” The beast manager’s expression tightens, a shadow of pain fleeting in and out of his eyes, so quick its likely unnoticeable, but he’s quick to flash a smile to the little one, “Off with you then.” And like a shot the toddler’s off, hurtling towards Kaseth with giggles punctuating the air. “She don’t know, Randi,” that he’s her father, “S’why I let her call me what she does.” His expression softens then, a hand lifting to stroke knuckles down the side of her cheek in response to the sadness in her tone, and then falls away again, “Ain’t nothin’ wrong with expectin’ folk to take your orders, darlin’. Just sometimes…” a sigh escapes, “the innocents,” like Ciara, Ahnika and a whole lot of others he could likely name, “they struggle with understandin’ there’s a dark world out there beyond the Weyr, aye? This place, this is their home, where they feel safe, where it’s our job to keep ‘em safe and keep the rest from their knowin’.” At least that’s how he sees it. And then adds quietly, “And no, it ain’t fair, but it’s life.” Harking back to harsh words exchanged the day before between the goldriders. Mention of the brownrider, that however draws a light snort, “He’d argue with his own arse if he thought it would have the woman fallin’ over him.” And then, having kept one eye on his daughter, he winces a little as the child comes to a skidding halt just shy of bowling straight into the ever patient gold, “Hope…” – “Shoosh ‘shole,” comes that same reprimand and then all her two turn old focus is set to the dragon, thumb having gone in her mouth as she tips her head from one side to another, considering Kaseth from different angles.

At first, Randi doesn't notice anything amiss. To her, it seems the child is merely gaining her father's permission before scampering. When Max explains, however, it causes her breath to draw in sharply. The things he says give her pause and her expression as she bends to pick up the sweetsand suds bucket and brush is thoughtful. Kneeling down in the shallow water, she taps Hope on the shoulder and lifts a small handful of the sand from the bucket in her fist, scoops that fist through the water to wet it and then rubs it in gentle circles on the gold's hide. "This is how we make sure all the dirt and dust get off her hide, but be gentle. Even soft sweetsand can hurt if it's rubbed in too hard." Not that Hope would have the strength to really bother Kaseth, but it's a lesson best learned early. Once the child is set up thus - with Kaseth even going so far as to lift a wing in order to shield the small person from the worst of the morning sun - Randi makes up her mind and turns around. With a small portion of her mind set aside for watching the child through her dragon's eyes, she jogs back to Max and begins unfastening the various buttons and buckles on his clothes, herself. Keeping her voice low, she talks while she works - and when did she get so familiar with how a bloke's clothes come off? - hopefully to keep him from stopping her before she's had her say. "I don't know why you'd not tell her something like that and I think it's downright stupid not to. Everyone's got a right to know who their family is. Gives you a better sense of your family." She struggles with a belt and her brow creases in concentration. "But you've got your reasons, as you do. I'll poke you about it at some point, but right now you need to be getting in that lake and telling your daughter about the dragon she's washing - and I know you know about them." She chances a look up at him, then, wry and a little amused. She doesn't know everything, but she's been around him often enough to piece little bits and pieces together and he's shown he knows more than he lets on at least a few times that she can recall. "Because believe me, when you finally do decide to tell her - or she finds out, because they always find out in the end - it'll be memories like this one that'll have her hating you a fortnight instead of turns." She lays a hand flat on his chest then and looks up into his eyes with an almost painfully earnest expression. "Trust me, I've been there." On Hope's end, rather than his, but still.

Eeeever so slowly Hope reaches out a hand and with a feather light touch slips the tips of her little fingers across one of Kaseth’s eyeridges, giggles and quickly pulls her hand away. Clearly this is the first time the little one has come into hands on type contact with a dragon. And then Randi’s at her gold’s side and she moves to hunker down next to her, watching what she does through a small frown of concentration. A small hand takes up a fistful of sand, drags it through the water (losing half of it in the process) and sets to the golden hide, though so gently that the rest of the sand she’d had left in her hand, plops into the water. “Like this Darlick,” oh look, Randi has a name. Either way, the toddler starts moving her hand around in circles, copying what she sees the goldrider doing, though barely touching Kaseth. “Hope, not hurchoo,” she lisps clearly having taken what she was told to heart. She doesn’t even really notice that the woman moves away for she’s too focused on what she’s doing, even if half of the sand is ending up in the water and she’s really not doing much of anything aside from wafting her little hands about on the dragon.

At first Max is simply too stunned to do anything but just stand there like a rock statue while Randi starts undressing him. Gathering his equilibrium, a teasing quip forms through a crooked grin, “You know there’s educatin’ the kid and then there’s information overlo…” That however drops off when her low spoken words hit him and brows furrow, “Because she’s two, Randi. She ain’t gonna know not to call me Pa in public, aye? It’s…it’s not safe.” And then the rest of her words drop into his consciousness and his expression schools into that hard bland mask of the day before as he tries to take a step back though considering she has him in hand, so to speak, its more a gesture of self-preservation than anything else. “No,” he all but growls out, “I ain’t a ‘rider and she ain’t gonna be one neither. You wanna tell her ‘bout dragons? Go right ahead. But I ain’t gonna have nothin’ to do with it.” Because it will only end up in heartache and pain as he sees it. Where his frame had tensed and he looked to have been about to jerk away, the hand she lays on his chest as him stilling and meeting her gaze, his own heavily guarded. “So long as she’s still alive to hate me, I’ll take it as a plus,” he finally states but there’s little heat to his tone, just dull resignation.

Randi watches his face with a patience she didn't have a turn ago, studying the expressions that cross his face and cloud his eyes. "Like I said, you have your reasons." Her hands - one on his chest and the other on his shoulder - push the shirt off his arms and then slide down one arm to take his hand. She doesn't grill him about his 'dragon issues' - which she so very, very badly wants to do - nor does she question his decision not to be the one to talk of them to his daughter. She simply tugs on the hand she holds, turns around and makes to lead him down to where Hope waves her hands around Kaseth's skin. "That's good, Hope." Letting go of Max when the water laps above her toes, Randi wades the next two paces and then sits tailor-style in the water, hoisting the little girl into her lap and drawing the bucket closer. "But maybe not quite so gentle." She smiles down at the young girl, guiding her small hand into the bucket, scooping through the water and then pressing it against Kaseth's hide with just the right amount of pressure. The queen gratefully rumbles, even letting out a breathy sort of croon. "There, see? She says that feels nice." It's just like working with runners, this; she keeps one shoulder turned towards Max and though she keeps an eye on him through her peripheral, she never makes eye contact. She just waits. Either he'll come to join them or he won't.

Broodingly silent now, Max does nothing to stop the goldrider removing his shirt merely staring down at her with an almost disconcerting intensity. Much as he would prefer to stay as far away as possible from Kaseth’s bathing ritual, to dig his heels in when she tugs him forward would be childish and so he allows himself to be led into the water but moves no deeper when she lets go of his hand and settles Hope in her lap. That picture right there, the woman with his daughter in her lap guiding her little hands across golden hide and the way the toddler looks up at her with such trust and hunger to learn, ignites another two that blend and merge into one resulting in an oddly strangled sound and then he’s wading past the three of them, deeper into the water, mumbling, “Goin’ for a swim,” where the vast amount of water in the lake will wash away the smaller amount that threatens.

“Bye ‘shole,” Hope lisps after the beast manager as he hits out with strong over-arm strokes and then turns her attention up to Randi, “’shole sad.” Ah, the perceptiveness of a child. The croon coming from Kaseth brings a giggle from the little one who suddenly leans forward to press her cheek to the sandy hide, arms outspread and stretched upward, “Hope, wuv you, Kasef.”

Randi can hear the strangled sound and the wading steps both towards and past her and Hope. She nods once to his announcement, but doesn't respond aloud. One corner of her mouth curves upwards as Hope says her goodbyes, but the next childish statement has her brow creasing. "Swimming will help, though. I run when I'm sad. Moving your body so you get out of breath helps when your emotions get the best of you." She doesn't baby talk the child, but she does speak slowly and clearly. She's a cute kid. It's seeing her spread her arms out and hearing her innocent declaration that completely and utterly melts Randi's heart. Just like that, she is putty in those tiny hands. Judging by the hum of contentment as Kaseth lifts her muzzle to press very gently against those outstretched hands, she feels about the same way. Randi giggles, then. The sound is mildly hysterical. She's used to caring for kids and even liking the odd one or two - you don't grow up in a Weyr without having at least basic skills - but Hope is … Hope is different and these are feelings she's not used to. "She says she's never had a person love her but me, before. It's most unusual, but she says that since you're small, she supposes it's all right."

Hope doesn’t particularly understand much of the words that get given to her in explanation but she does get the idea behind them and sends a long look out to where her father is swimming off his funk. And then she’s looking back to Randi, head tilted to one side, “Darlick sad? Darlick want run?” And she shifts in the goldrider’s lap, preparing to climb out should she want to do so. But then she’s being distracted by that gentle press of muzzle coming from Kaseth and she forgets completely about what it was she was doing, instead pressing her rosebud mouth to golden muzzle and making a loud ‘Mwah’ sound. Hearing Randi giggle she twists about once again and beams, “Darlick happy now.” Not a question, a statement and then in light of what the goldrider conveys from her lifemate, she’s looking about for the bucket and declaring, “Hope wuv Kasef more.” By bathing her, if the way she’s scooping up sand, damping it and plonking it against the dragon’s side is anything to go by.

Smitten through and through by the loud smack of kiss on her dragon's muzzle, Randi laughs outright. "Yes, love. I'm definitely happy, now." With Hope plonking sand against her dragon's hide, Randi forgoes scooping her own in favor of rubbing in and then rinsing off Hope's work. Teamwork, of a sort. Finding a comfortable rhythm, Randi starts to educate the toddler about the simpler bits of dragon lore. "There are five colors of dragon, you know. Gold, bronze, brown, blue and green. Some are male and some are female." She pauses then, and explains. "Males and boys and females are girls." To simplify. "The easiest way to remember which ones are what is by the first sound in the words. Greens and Golds are girls. Bronzes, Browns and Blues are boys." She emphasizes each of the first letters to help demonstrate the similarity.

With Randi laughing, so Hope throws back her head and does the same, one of those rich, infectious little belly laughs that only the very young are capable of when something strikes a chord with them. Apparently satisfied with the teamwork they’ve got going on, the toddler having plonked sand to the extent of her reach, now climbs out of the goldrider’s lap and situates herself in front of Kaseth’s head. Holding up a small fistful of damp sand she states with as much authority as she can muster, “Close eyes, Hope wash face.” And if the gold complies she’ll start to gently rub sand about on her snout all the while listening to what Randi is saying. She knows some of her colours but distinguishing gender in dragons is a little beyond her other than being told ‘That’s a boy, this is a girl.’ And so a bright smile breaks out when the ‘mystery’ is cleared up and she repeats, “Bwonze…boy. Bwown…boy. B’ue …boy… Gween…girl.” and then drops into silent contemplation before letting out a squeal of delight as she figures it out, “Kasef gold. Kasef girl!”

With Randi laughing, so Hope throws back her head and does the same, one of those rich, infectious little belly laughs that only the very young are capable of when something strikes a chord with them. Apparently satisfied with the teamwork they've got going on, the toddler having plonked sand to the extent of her reach, now climbs out of the goldrider's lap and situates herself in front of Kaseth's head. Holding up a small fistful of damp sand she states with as much authority as she can muster, "Close eyes, Hope wash face." And if the gold complies she'll start to gently rub sand about on her snout all the while listening to what Randi is saying. She knows some of her colours but distinguishing gender in dragons is a little beyond her other than being told 'That's a boy, this is a girl.' And so a bright smile breaks out when the 'mystery' is cleared up and she repeats, "Bwonze…boy. Bwown…boy. B'ue…boy. Gween…girl." and then drops into silent contemplation before letting out a squeal of delight as she figures it out, "Kasef gold. Kasef girl!" Just then her father nears, stands and wades over to where the three are situated. "Kasef girl, 'shole," beaming up at him. "Aye love, she's a girl," his smile wan and then turning silently apologetic when his attention swings to Randi.

Kaseth is mildly startled at being given such authoritative orders from a person so small. She hesitates a moment and then complies, lowering her head and shutting all three lids - just to be safe. "Exactly so, Hope. Kaseth is a girl." Randi grins over at the child, inordinately thrilled that Hope made that leap of logic without any prompting on her part. At the sound of Max's voice, Randi raises her gaze to his and her grin only widens at the slightly apologetic lilt to his. "Hope took over the face for me, so you can come help me get under this wing." And she hauls herself to her feet, scooping up sand and really getting into the motions under the joint where a bit of dead skin needs to come off.

Hope being as young as she is and unaccustomed to the ways of a Weyr and more especially the bond between rider and dragon, has no idea that one does not give orders to the dragon bonded to another. And so when Kaseth hesitates she once again croons softly, “Hope, not hurchoo,” and then gives a nod of satisfaction when the gold dutifully closes her eyes. “Good girl,” she praises little hands moving in careful circular motions up and down what she can reach of the dragon’s face, moulding and rubbing over eyeridges and then she stops with a perplexed look in place when she’s unable to reach up any higher.

A similar perplexity casts about Max’s expression when it seems that Randi’s still determined to get him to help wash her dragon. A long closed look flows over the gold and then with a sigh he bends and scoops up handfuls of sand, damping it down and then moving in under the lifted wing lowers his voice as he gets to work with the air of one familiar with such tasks. “You’re one fuckin’ stubborn woman,” he states, not looking at the goldrider, “Why’s it so shardin’ important to you that I do this anyways, huh?” At least he’s talking.

Whuffing out a puff of air at Hope's praise, Kaseth patiently submits to the face-washing. When it stops, however, she cracks one outer lid open to discern the difficulty. It's not hard to see the problem and so Kaseth twists her neck to tilt her head, lowering the upper bits down to Hope's level. Well, as much as she can. She may be the tiniest mature queen on Pern, but she's still a big dragon. As for her rider… Well, Randi chuckles softly, deciding to take his statement as a compliment. "Stubborn to a fault, Mum used to say." But neither Rialla nor her mother could ever be described as anything but, so it's no big surprise. Especially if one knows the family. She considers his question in silence, a moment, biting her lip and scrubbing at a particularly stubborn piece of hide. "Because, dear one - in case you hadn't noticed - you and your family live smack in the middle of a Weyr chock full of dragons." Her tone is light and conversational - kind, even; not mocking or caustic. She pauses another moment and then turns to smile sweetly at him over her shoulder. "And because it's more fun this way."

Hope, fearing little but respecting things bigger than her, especially one as big as Kaseth by comparison, takes an uncertain step back when the gold moves and then realizing what she’s doing, the toddler giggles and pats a hand gently to her muzzle. “Clever Kasef,” more sand in her tiny little paw, and another, “Close eyes,” for the one lid cracked open and then she blinks and peeeeers into that eye. “Darliiick, Kasef eyes bwoken,” thoroughly perturbed for she’s never seen this three-lidded affair before and so therefore, the gold must be broken.

Rinsing the sand off and applying more, muscles rippling across his back as he works in silence, Max puts a sidelong look onto Randi as she owns the comment, the idea of a wry smile forming for he well knows he’s hardly without guilt when it comes to being stubborn. “Determined,” he speaks that one word, changing it out for stubborn and then his hands still and another long look goes the goldrider’s way. “Bein’ in a Weyr don’t mean I gotta wash dragons, darlin’.” In a sort of ‘And your point would be?’ tone of voice. It’s Hope’s call of distress that turns his attention back to the toddler and he can’t help the chuckle that spills, “So she named you, huh?” And no, he doesn’t set about explaining the three-lid thing to his daughter, shying away from doing so and leaving it up to Randi to do.

"Yeah, though how she got Darlick out of … oh." Max's habit of replacing her name with 'darlin' sounds an awful lot like Darlick. Hiding her flush behind a golden wing, she quips back quickly so as not to arouse suspicion. "But with the way you talk, every pretty face she meets'll be Darlick and then no one'll be able to tell which one she means. It'll be a horrid mess, it will. Just you wait." She keeps her tone light, but it's almost too much so. Oh look, Hope has another question. How convenient. "You and me and Arsehole here only have one set of eyelids because we're born to be on the ground. We only need the one. Dragons are born to fly, though. Sometimes they have to fly in strong winds or dust or sand or rain and they need to be able to shield their eyes while still seeing where they're headed. So they have three lids. Two they can see through and one they can't." Moving down to the base of Kaseth's tail, Randi rests her forehead against the gold's damp hide, gathering her thoughts together to answer the question she knows Max is still waiting on. Twice she opens her mouth on the answer, but in the end lacks the courage to speak her mind. So instead, she acquiesces. "I suppose you're right."

Max hadn’t quite gotten to trying to figure out how Hope had come by the name so when Randi lends it thought he comes to the same conclusion round about the time she does and blinks. Unable to see the goldrider’s face he simply lets out a snort to her next comment though there’s little derision in it and it’s a weak attempt at best to cover the quip that almost spilled in response. “So we’ll give you another name. How aboooout….Sweetcheeks?” And he’ll leave her to figure that one out aaaall by herself save for the narrowing of eyes when she uses his daughter’s name for him, “You’re never gonna let that one go, huh?” Done with the piece up under Kaseth’s wing he gives the outer spar a light tap and steps out from underneath it, moving toward her shoulder. Hope in the meantime listens as Randi explains but most of its lost on her, it being too much information for her two turn old mind to absorb, so she simply peers into Kaseth’s eye once again, “Kasef eye not bwoken?” Though she is fascinated by the way the lids move and keeps peering back at that great big eye, even if it is closed as she continues to rub the sand about, her little arms starting to grow tired. The silence that comes from Randi on the question he’d put to her has Max’s attention swinging in her direction and though unable to see her, he gives a quietly spoken, “Aye,” in response.

"Sweetcheeks?" Brought back into the safely familiar realm of friendly banter by that suggestion, Randi feigns affront and moves to face him, arms crossed over her chest. "Sweetcheeks?!?" Unable to smother her grin any longer, she reaches into the bucket for a handful of sand and lets it soak enough water that when she squeezes, it becomes like a thick, gritty paste. Racing around the side of her dragon - careful to avoid Hope - she hurls the projectile at his bare chest and then takes off into the deeper waters where she believes she will be safe from retaliation. Kaseth, indulgently exasperated with her bonded's antics, merely croons softly at young Hope and opens and shuts her eyes several times to show that they are, indeed, not broken.

Max lifts a brow apparently unaffected by the outrage feigned or not, far more at ease in his realm of ‘Arsehole’ than the other. “Its better’n Tightass,” he gives right back, as hard pressed as Randi to contain his amusement, smirking to himself and unaware of what the sneaky goldrider is planning. As such when that cold, sludgey missile hits his chest there’s a grunted curse of surprise. “Right, that does it, you’re in big trouble now, missy!” and he’s off after her, diving under the water and to all intents and purposes disappearing, though a few short moments later, Randi might feel the grip of strong hands about her ankles and then a sharp tug as he tries to pull her feet out from under her.

Hope for her part startles a little as Randi goes racing by and then falls about in a fit of giggles as the sand splats against her minder. “Wun Darlick, wuuun,” clapping little hands together and bouncing up and down with glee, completely happy to be left in Kaseth’s care for the time being as evidenced by the happy chatter she takes up with the dragon, relaying all that she’s learned and jumbling some of it up with ‘Gween Bwonzes’ having only one eye.

Kaseth listens patiently, utterly fascinated by which facts the child remembers, which ones she doesn't and which ones she gets switched around. It's an interesting and informative study into humans that she's never bothered with before. As for her rider, Randi runs gleefully, almost making it out into the water deep enough to swim in when she feels hands on both ankles and tumbles forward into the water with just barely enough time to take a quick lungful of air, first. Underwater, she finds herself sliding backwards from the force of the pull, reaching out to stop her motion and brace herself on Max's shoulders to help her push back up.

Kaseth of course, has three ‘eyes’ as she gets told most solemnly by Hope who having been left alone with the bucket of sand is now proceeding to try and build sandcastles on one of the gold’s forepaws if she doesn’t shift about or complain too much, singing a childish song about ‘dwagons’, ‘fowers’ and ‘kipping with Gael’. All her recent experiences rolling into one.

Successful in his bid to submerge her, Max will wrap an arm about Randi’s waist, holding her against his chest as he pushes upward to break through the water’s surface where after gulping in a lungful of air, he’ll then set to tickling her. “Pelt me with sand, huh?” laughter in his voice and eyes enough to chase the shadows of earlier away.

Gulping in more air, Randi finally regains some footing when all of that hard-won oxygen is shot out as she's tickled. Held against his chest, she has absolutely no way of escaping and her laughter is starting to get breathy and just this side of desperate. It must be the lack of oxygen to her brain, because if she had been capable of rational thought, she never would have done what she does next. Leaning in, nails already dug into his shoulders, clenched against the tickling, she sucks his earlobe into her mouth and then bites it just a little roughly. It's not meant to hurt, just shock him enough to let her get away. Kaseth, having been patiently and interestedly watching the sandcastle being erected on her forepaw, lifts her head and turns to watch the two adults with mild interest. This is new.

Upon hearing the way in which Randi’s laughter alters to being that of one in need of respite, Max was on the point of stopping with the tickling and releasing her when she bites his earlobe. That combined with her nails already dug into his shoulders brings an instant smoulder to his eyes and before he realizes what he’s doing, he’s reacting and he’s kissing her. Or at least he’ll be trying to unless she decks him like she did the last time. The kiss however doesn’t last long for suddenly rationale thought crashes in and the beast manger, takes a quick step backward, all contact broken. For a few heartbeats he stands there staring intently at the goldrider and then lips purse and he turns, wading out of the water and back to the relative safety of the shore without a word spoken. As Kaseth’s head lifts and moves, so does Hope’s attention as she follows what had caught the dragon’s interest, her own peaked, little head tipping over to one side before murmuring, “’Shole playing,” and goes back to her sandcastle.

Randi has been kissed before. If taken technically - since she's been through a flight - she's done quite a lot, before. Up until now she would have said that she enjoyed kissing well enough. But this is unexpected, unwise, mildly taboo and oh-so-intense. She melts into it and moves to slide her hands up into his hair when he is suddenly not there. Thrown off-balance mentally, emotionally and physically, she stumbles forward a step. Raw hurt and rejection are written all over her face as she catches her breath, slowly but steadily replaced by guilt and a kind of quiet panic as she realizes just exactly what happened - and all of its various and sundry implications. Mind turning in not-so-helpful circles, all she can do is stare wordlessly at his retreating back and wonder just how badly she's fucked up this time.

Kaseth, on the other hand, lowers her head to nudge up some more sand for Hope's castle. This is fleeting to her enormous mind. It, too, shall pass.

The urge to stay, to not tear himself away, especially with Randi indeed not fighting him off but rather returning that kiss as she did was a temptation all too nearly taken. Quickly his trousers are found and tugged back on over wet legs and hips, his back carefully held to both goldrider and daughter and then Max is stooping and gathering up the rest of his and the toddler’s things in one untidy bundle, his head a jumbled mess of thoughts that streak by and tangle together. “C’mon, Hope. Time for breakfast,” the beast manager’s tone tight and brooking no argument. For the first time since being put into the care of her grandmother and father, the toddler somehow knows this is not the time to be pushing buttons and so, solemnly she stands tries to wrap little arms about Kaseth’s muzzle and whispers, “Bye, Kasef.” She pauses in her path to the hand held outstretched for her to take and sends a hesitant little wave to Randi, “Bye, Darlick.” Not too sure on quite what’s happened to make the adults moods suddenly turn. As for Max? He sends another one of those long intent looks to the goldrider and then drops his eyes away, knowing he’s done wrong.


Linkin Park - Breaking The Habit


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