Day 086: Choose For You
Summary: Rinnan and Britt have concerns about Veks' career plans.
Date: 23 Aug 2016
Related: -
Veks Rinnan Britt 

New Coesbur
The town.
Day 86.

It might not feel like it, in the stickiest days of late summer, but winter IS coming. Every day, more materials are chopped, split, tanned, stacked, or good-old dragged into the goods-pile of the forming town to be used in buildings.

Now that Veks has arrived, he's been an oft-seen face amongst the work-crews. Tonight, in the hours of light between supper and nightfall, he's turned his attention to a patch of land. /His/ land, apparently, given that it's where the wagon has been parked with a tent-of-sorts growing out of its side.

Currently working a large rock out of the earth, he takes frequent breaks to look up and around, scanning the faces of any passers-by. Watching for Britt, most likely, given that he passed word along for her to come by when she's able.

Britt is still nursing injuries, and as a good little patient, hasn't done much to help with the building efforts. She has picked up little tasks here and there to free up others. And she's hunted, because walking around and occasionally pulling a bow string is totally the same as bed rest, right? Maybe not such a good little patient after all. But hunting is a good excuse to get the lay of the land she's now pledged to defend, and help build up the stocks of dried meet. She had returned from one such hunt a little bit ago, when someone mentioned Veks was asking for her. After getting the pair of game birds situated, she now comes in search of him. "Hey Veks," she calls as she approaches.

No better way to rest your abdominal and core muscles than by hiking and pulling a bowstring. Uh-huh. No wonder Trikru healers all end up with well-worn frown wrinkles before their time. Vek's head pops up at the sound of Britt's voice, face lighting up with recognition. "You feelin' better or the healers lookin' for you?" he greets her, grinning. He digs his 'shovel' — more a mattock or an adze, really — into the sod and straightens, pushing his sweaty hair back with both hands. "Water's by the wagon-seat."

Britt hitches a shoulder. "Little of both, I think," she replies with a smirk. She seems to have gotten a bit of her color back, and every breath no longer brings a stabbing pain, so that's a plus. Just don't make her sneeze or cough. "Thanks," she says, heading over to the bucket to get a ladel full. After drinking, she looks to him. "Nice spot you picked. It's coming along."

"A good neighbour is one you don't trip over," says Veks. He's likely quoting Piri and her wealth of practical community wisdom. The spot's far enough from the makers' buildings and the Seat that there'll be privacy, but still close enough to pick up the general pulse of the settlement. Perhaps most importantly, there's a good view of the route connecting New Coesbur to Skaikru lands. "Plenty of Old Stuff-" The slight emphasis to the words suggest pre-war debris, rather than day-old leftovers. "-only a couple miles out. Gonna get the ground ready, then start pullin' it back." Despite the wealth of brand-new construction going on for the settlement, it seems Veks is sticking with the tried-and-true. Find parts of home, heap together until new home forms. "You'll be in the barracks?" There's another question hidden in that one, given the way he watches Britt after asking it.

"Good advice," Britt agrees with a slight nod. And that reminds her. "Are Piri and the others coming, or are they staying in Tondc?" She means the other siblings, in case it wasn't apparent. A thin purse of her lips and a nod answers his latter question, and the pensive look probably answers the unasked one too. "If you need help hauling the stuff back, let me know. Can at least help with the light stuff, even if my ribs aren't better by then."

Are Piri and the sibs coming? Veks's lips press together as he stalls for a few moments by digging the shovel deeper into the earth with one booted foot. "I want her to," he finally says, pushing away from the shovel and heading over toward Britt and the bucket of water. "She's sayin' she might wait until next spring. I think maybe…" He glances at Britt for a moment, his grin faded to a more pensive expression, then turns to the bucket to scoop up a ladleful. After drinking, he scoops more water, pours it over his head, then steps back before shaking it out like a dog that understands the concept of 'splash radius'. "Well. With everything changed so much, Tondc's lookin' better to her somehow." He shrugs as he drops the ladle back into the bucket. Rebuilding one's entire village is an alien enough concept, let alone weighing the merits of one community over another.

Seeing that pensive look, Britt mirrors it and just nods slowly. When Veks comes near again to deposit the ladle, she claps him lightly on the shoulder. "Tondc isn't far. That's something, at least. And maybe she'll change her mind, come spring. Once things are more settled." Once the pain has eased, maybe, is what she really wants to say. But she doesn't. "I'm going there soon for a brief visit. I'll look in on her. Remind her we'd both like her to come when she's ready." Britt was never close to Piri the same way she was with Ibem, but they were still family, in their way.

"There's a whole group of greyhairs she knows there. When they're not all talkin' by the washing lines, they're all at one of their homes, or checkin' in on their kids, or watchin' /their/ kids…" Trigedasleng may not have a word for 'kaffeeklatsch', but the concept survived the nukes all the same. The way Veks describes it, he sounds like the suspicious country mouse despairing as their loved ones turn to the city. "When Mom was gone, Stad was here. Then-" Scratch one spouse. "-there was me, and then Mom was back from the war. And now…" His mouth twitches upward a little when Britt claps his shoulder, and he lifts a hand to bump his knuckles against it in mute appreciation. "I guess there's more to it, too." /There's/ the hidden question, again, threatening to surface. "I- you, ah. You need to sit?" He'll take 'Botched Questions' for 1000, Alec.

"Well at least she won't be alone there. She'll have her friends, and your brothers and sisters if they stay too. And you won't be alone here either." A quick squeeze of his shoulder makes that a promise as much of an observation before Britt removes her hand. She nods to the suggestion of sitting down, heading over to a good spot. "Thanks yeah. The spear wound was bad enough, but broken ribs take fucking forever to heal," she grumps, before easing down somewhere where she can rest her back against something. By the wagon wheel, maybe, if nothing better offers itself.

Barrels. A waist-high stack of what were square school lockers, once upon an apocalypse ago. The wagon-wheel. At least the process of moving in means there's a variety of things that promise general stability at a variety of heights. It also means that Veks's camp is nearly too sumptuous to count as one, what with all of his old blankets and furs to heap on his sleeping-roll, as opposed to a single travel-ready skin.

Veks watches Britt until she settles herself, trying not to hover like a fretful healer and mostly failing. He licks his bottom lip and pushes his hands through his hair, glancing back toward the water-bucket as if considering how much time it can buy him. A slight frown starts to harden his expression, and instead of stalling, he looks back to Britt and announces, "I'm taking Mom's spot in the village warriors."

Britt settles down against the barrels, stretching out her leg while the other tucks beneath her. She watches Veks, a fretful frown of her own touching her lips. His announcement gets a slow blink, her brows knitting. It's an odd expression that sweeps across her face. One part 'did I hear that right', one part 'oh shit I did hear that right' and just a whole lot of angst and dread and pride and surprise all put in a blender together. She says nothing at first. Just stares.

She didn't flip out, or play the Auntie Knows Best card and immediately tell him 'no'. That's a start. Maybe. Kinda. Veks stands there, watching Britt stare at him, tense and still. "Mom always said every home should have a sword." At least one — or, in the case of their home, /only/ one. Even if Ibem was away months at a time in the northern skirmishes and wars, they still had their defender. "And- even if the Maunon are gone, it doesn't mean we're safe. What if the Azdega try and take over the Mountain? Or the Skaikru do? Or more Skaikru come from the other parts that fell?" He seems to regain his assurance, the more he speaks, and hooks his thumbs into his belt, shoulders relaxing a little. "I'm gonna trade the dogs to the Tondc Houndsman for leather and metal so Coesbur isn't out for my equipment."

There is a huge part of her that does just want to tell him 'no, absolutely not, out of the question'. But Britt reins in that initial panic and just listens to his reasons, and then observes tightly, "Sound reasons. But they are not the true one, are they?" She tilts her head, studying him. "You know she didn't wish for you to fight."

If parental fury could, in fact, bring a spirit back from the beyond, the ghost of Ibem kom Trikru would have appeared right now — and likely slapped Veks's teeth right out of his head. At least he's smart enough not to try and claim his mother would be approving of this decision. Pale brows pull inward, stubborn and wary, as a sour bubble of petulance makes him frown. "She said we already had a sword," he says when he looks back at Britt. It's a much more eloquent phrasing of what had probably been a simple and final, 'No.' "But we don't, anymore- and even if Piri and the sibs aren't out until spring, or /never/, Coesbur needs warriors after all the ones we lost."

Britt shakes her head. "You know as well as I do that's not why she said no. Nava also carried a sword for your family." Her lips thin with remembered pain, and her voice flattens. "It was the last time I spoke to her, you know. When I talked to her about you going to the Mountain with us." She looks away, rubbing the back of a hand against her cheek. No, totally not going to cry. Nothing to see here. Tough warrior woman, move along, move along. But the dampness in her eyes betrays her when she looks back at Veks and says, "The village has seventy-(mumblemumble, Britt knows the exact number) warriors and only one houndsman."

What's a good way to get out of house building and also get wet? Fishing! With Spears! It takes extra long and you'll probably get super wet. Them's the tough breaks of survival on Lake Audo. Rinnan strolls back in, her clothing and hair soaked comfortably through and carrying several lake trout that are primed for winter salting stores. The 'feel' of the 'room' seems to lie in the lap of Britt's active surpression of the water that's most definitely not in her eyes. And maybe just the tracer ends of the conversation. "Oh," Rinnan says quietly, the announcement that she caught fish getting sent way to the back of the line. She looks at Veks and Britt pensively in turn before she moves quietly to set the fish down on a barrel not currently camped by Britt.

"Piri said it was Nava's decision," Veks retorts, a little hotly. His half-sister got to decide, rather than her mother having the unmitigated gall of thinking she knew better thanks to several years of in-your-face experience, and deciding for her. "She said we didn't need another sword in the house. She said one was enough." Pale eyes brighten with a mix of anger and barely-buried grief. "So, fine. Just one. And now it's me." He looks away, scrubbing a hand through his hair, and watches Rinnan and her speared fish drip their way to a barrel. His eyes flick between her and Britt, like a gambler considering their new odds.

"Hey, Rinn," Britt offers a subdued greeting to the other warrior when she arrives. She sniffs once, and levels Veks a pained look. She says no more of what Ibem's reasons might have been, nothing of what they spoke of - quarreled about, really - on the eve of the Mountain. But it is with a dull voice that she says, "You are a grown man. Your path is your own to choose. But don't fool yourself into thinking that Ibem would have approved of this. And don't think that the village will falter without your sword. What you choose, choose for you."

Rinnan is helpful in assisting Veks in laying his odds. She sets the fish down with a carefull but mildly mournful air, perhaps being overly precious in her handling while she listens to Britt advise Veks. She nods vaguely along with Britt's summary, which seems to buy her a little more time as she wanders, slightly squidgy in her soakedness to cut a broad arc towards a free barrel. It passes Veks, tugging with an affectionate if muted tease on one of his shorter braids. "Britt," Rinnan says finally, once she's achieved her perch.

"'ey," mumbles Veks to Rinnan, half in greeting, and half in protest to the hair-pull. He pushes a loose-curled fist into her shoulder as she goes past, shoving her along with a little extra momentum, before giving his hair a rough finger-combing to return it to its previous disarray.

Britt's point that Coesbur will neither soar nor crash dependant on his sword seems to sour Veks's frown even further, and he folds his arms across his chest, scowling down at the ground between him and Britt. "Choose for me? That's- it's bullshit." He stumbles over the declaration a little, but once said, it seems to steel him enough to look back squarely at Britt. "Mom didn't choose for herself. She didn't do it for a row of killing-scars. She didn't attack the Mountain so she could brag about it after. You didn't, either." His arms unfold to jab a finger toward Rinnan. "And you didn't either. This is- it's what I want, it's what I'm supposed to want, and you- both of you- you think I'm wrong." The mixture of hurt accusation and anger flushes his cheeks beneath his sun-reddened tan.

Rinnan pushes out a slow sigh. This might be a brief window into what the dynamic has been the last few days, the otherwise push-pull of their dynamic peppered with the resentful seep of anger for another kind of push-pull. Soaking wet, dripping on to the barrell and the ground, Rinnan looks over at Britt with a pair of mildly raised eyebrows and mildly annoyed frown. "You do choose," Rinnan mutters, clearing her throat to turn her head and look at Veks. "Maybe not at first, but you do. Some point, you will. Probably when you gotta hole in your guts and the bread's got worms and there's blood and shit mixed in with the mud, you're going find yourself with the choice," Rinnan intones, almost dully - her eyes briefly darting Britt's way.

"That's what I been saying, Veks. It ain't about duty and honor and all those fucking things. It's because you learn to kill people and you find that you like to kill people, alot." Rinnan shrugs lately, that perhaps slightly horrifying view into the sticky parts of her soul on full, unapologetic view. Her head bows slightly observing the drip-drip-drip of the water exiting the fibers of her pants. "You never asked me why I do this, anyway."

Britt listens to Rinnan, inclining her head a little, then looks back to Veks. "Rinn's right. I chose for me. My parents wanted me to be a farmer, like them. But that wasn't the life I was born to. This was. I knew it from the moment my uncle first put a bow in my hand." She might be exaggerating a teesny bit there, but hyperbole suits her purpose. "And you're right - this isn't about the kill marks, or the bragging rights. It's a hard path. It's a path of pain and scars. Sleepless nights and horrors you wish you could unsee. Watching those you love cut down in front of you." Her mouth tightens into a thin line, the tears threatening again. Pride and stubbornness holds them back, and she presses on. "You chose to be a houndsman. You worked hard, you brought honor to your family and your village. Now you want to be a warrior. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I want to make sure you're choosing for the right reasons. Not because you're angry and grieving. Not because you think this is what she wanted, or what you owe her, or owe the village, or any bullshit like that. But because you're damn fucking sure that this is the path for your life."

"It's not a matter of /want!/ You want a blowjob, or another drumstick at supper, or for it to stop raining!" He's angry enough his voice shreds a little at the edges from the emotion getting forced through it. "I dunno what the fuck I was thinking anymore, telling either of you!" A syllable shakes as he carves the air with a furious gesture. "I should've listened to Steheda and let him pick for me, let you both find out after!" Ready to spit nails — or possibly to cry, it being hard to tell one set of flashing eyes and hot cheeks from another — Veks turns to storm off in the general direction of 'away'.

"Veks! That's not-," Rinnan's up, yelling after him in a bid to stop him and springing forth from the barrel and out of laconic mode. "Goddamn it, stop, you idiot!" This is not, as one might perhaps suggest, the best time to be yelling mild insults at the object of the person you're attempting to sway into staying put. "We're not saying- stop!" Her ability to explain herself never terribly agile, it flops around in the here and now as she looks over at Britt with a 'help!' expression as she stalks after him.

Oh no he doesn't. Britt is on her feet right with Rinnan, faster than is really advisable for her wounds, and chasing after him. While Rinnan attempts to stop him with words, Britt tries the more direct approach - reaching for his arm to yank him to a halt. But whether he stops or whether she speaks to his back with her at his heels, she says, "This is not for Oxfor to say. I am gonaheda, Veks, and you will deal with me." She miiiiight be overstepping her authority there a little, but if this is going to be her first pissing contest with Oxfor, so be it. Probably won't be her last. "Ibem's place is not yours for the asking. You want to be a part of the gonakru, you earn it - same as anyone else."

Oh no SHE doesn't. Veks whirls back around like a satellite in orbit around Britt's grasp on him, shaking his arm free as he shouts at her, "Then /let me earn it!/" Beneath the fury, there's a desperately hurt look that his entire kennel-ful of dogs and all the rolled-up newspapers left in the world couldn't rival. "I only /told/ either of you because Steheda said to choose whose Second to be and-" The rest won't come. A jaw-muscle twitches and his eyes burn like grey fire, but the rest gets ground into silence between his set teeth. "-whatever," he mutters, arms pulled into a tight fold across his chest as he tries to glare a hole through the earth between Britt and Rinnan.

Rinnan's been around a lot of yelling people in her life. Like, alot. Even so, when Veks is volcanically melting down, it does achieve a certain dismay in her expression not easily rendered out of her by other screaming headed parties. That's no match for the sideswiped look he earns when his long game plans become flesh. She blinks rapidly and bleats out a wholy unsteady 'oh' for his trouble. It is perhaps the case that she hasn't quite thought about this part of it. That he would, in theory, be a second to someone was a foregone conclusion but that someone hadn't quite been mathed up to be 'her' even in possibility. Rinnan looks at Britt with that same look of surprise for a moment before she looks at the seething, furious Veks. "I can't," she states, looking a little lost in the woods. There's a drawn out pause that follows, whatever Rinnan was going to say scuttled and replaced with an abrupt. "Because."

"Then stop acting like a petulant child!" Britt counters, green eyes flaring. "And open your ears. I never said you couldn't. I said I wanted you to be sure." As much as Veks is hurting, it's rivaled by a different kind of pain on Britt's face. One that manifests itself in a rough shove that has enough force to put him on his ass if it catches him right. Angry Auntie has a funny way of showing her love. "Because I don't want to fucking lose you too." The whole implications of the Second business sails right over her head for now.

The good thing about a petulant folding of arms across the chest is that it's a physical underline of just how upset you are. The bad thing about it is that you're not ready to react to a shove — other than by stumbling back a step and uselessly windmilling your arms as you land on your ass, which is exactly what happens to Veks. His face is blank with shock for a beat, as he looks up with widened eyes, before it starts darkening back into anger. "Why would I tell either of you if I wasn't sure? How much of a fuckin' idiot do you think I am?" He starts slapping dirt and crushed grass off his palms, scowling down at it as if this is all its fault.

"Because," Rinnan states, in her flumoxed state which may or may not sound slightly annoyed. She's standing over Veks, watching him stare down the grass with his accusing frown. Something seems to tick over in her head and she steps back a touch, and it's probably not the fact that she'd been dripping idly on him. "Because," she repeats, less unmoored as her hands perch on her hips and her weight shifts. "Your mom just died and we don't want you to do something that you can't take back, especially when it won't change anything." Her chin jutts towards Britt in agreement. "And we don't want you to get killed." She frowns sourly at that consideration, her voice straining slightly. "And we don't want you throwing yourself at the first warrior you see because you want to join a gonakru so you can learn to kill, kill, kill It ain't like taking someone to your bed for a night. You're stuck with them for years after," she summarizes, that climb in her tone sounding less annoyed, just… perhaps… worried.

There's a flash of regret mingling with the anger on Britt's face when Veks thumps on the ground. Rinnan gets a distracted nod as if to say yeah, what she said but it's Veks' other comment that has her attention. "Yeah. Can't think of any reason why you would've wanted to talk to us about it first," she says flatly. He clearly doesn't have the monopoly on stung feelings here. After a moment of frowning at him, she offers out her hand to help him back up.

"I thought you'd be happy." Veks's shoulders squirm as he grimaces at himself and slaps harder at a spot of dirt on the side of his leg that he had just finished cleaning off. "Or- proud of me." Ugh. Even worse. The grimace sours to a scowl of embarrassment, and his refusal to look up gets even more obvious, as he re-aligns the edge of one pantsleg against his boot by running his fingers under the hem. "Whatever. You don't-" He looks up, recoiling slightly in surprise at Britt's hand being Right There. "You don't get to say you're worried what will happen to me, like it'll stop me. It didn't matter two shits if Piri and Stad and me were worried when Mom was up north. It /doesn't/ matter two shits if /I/ worry about you two now. It doesn't stop you." There's a dark sullenness clouding his face as he looks from Britt's hand, across to Rinnan. His mouth twists at one corner as he blows out a sigh and grabs Britt's hand to pull himself up again.

It's Rinnan's turn to scrub her slightly calmy face with her hands before it courses its way out back through her wet hair. There's a brief yet potent smell of lake algea for her trouble in the air. "We don't have another thing we can fall back on," Rinnan states, her patience thready by the tone in her voice as she looks at Veks sharply. "Are you even listening to us?," she asks sourly, her nose wrinkling with a firm distaste. "Flame, we didn't say 'no'. We just said we got concerns," she mutters.

"I was already proud of the man you'd become," Britt tells him, the frown still settled on her face. She helps pull him up, smothering a wince when she does so. "But you're right. It is not for me to stop you. I have no say in how you live your life, and you obviously don't give a shit about my opinion or you would've talked to me instead of running to Oxfor." The anger overtakes the hurt for a moment, "But don't you dare stand there and tell me that I don't get to say I'm worried, after everything that's happened." She releases his hand and steps back.

"Of course I'm listening to you," is Veks's testy reply as he slaps the grass and dirt off his pants. "Wouldn't've talked to you about any of this if I didn't wanna listen." His grumbling turns sharply toward confusion at something Britt says, and he looks up at her as he says, "Why- I- what do you mean?" It's one way to defuse anger, maybe — hoodwink it with perplexity. "I wanted- hoped- I was gonna ask to be your Second." The statement fumbles its way out, almost despite itself. The lake algae may be contagious. He hurries onward: "I didn't tell you- either of you- what I was thinkin' because…" He gestures unhelpfully with scraped palms. /You know what I mean./ "Because it was for me to decide. What kinda warrior would need someone else's opinion to know what they want to do?"

"…then," Rinnan begins, her mouth puckering momentarily in disquieted grimness, casting about trying to find something to say next. Nothing seems to come, her eyes instead lifting from Veks to Britt for her ruling on this request by tantrum triplicate to be made Second to her First. She studies Britt's face for an reaction, offering her a dull shrug. Up-to-you, it seems to concede in a bit of slightly worn out way.

If Veks had suckerpunched Britt in the still-healing spear wound in her side, it might have elicited a similar sort of reaction to the one that flits across her face when he asks to be her Second. Surprise and anguish and dismay all written there like an open book. Quite probably not the reaction he was hoping for. She glances to Rinnan, but alas - silent warrior is silent. So she drags her eyes back to Veks and answers his second question first. "The kind of warrior who respects the counsel of trusted friends enough to listen to their concerns before charging into a life-altering decision," she says flatly. "You think about that, and about what Rinnan said, and about what it means to be a Second. We'll talk about it when we've both cooled off."

Very probably not the reaction he was hoping for — but then again, the entire explosion can be traced back to that. Veks's brows pull together into another deep furrow as he engages in a silent tug-of-war between retorting and holding his tongue. His weight shifts. He scrubs at the back of his neck with an agitated hand. Finally, he slouches his hands down, thumbs hooked on his belt, and says, only, "Yeah." He looks between Rinnan and Britt, seeming at a bit of a loss for how to proceed, but finally comes up with, "I'll get a fire goin' for yer fish," to Rinnan. It might help her clothes dry out before next week, too.

Rinnan nods with certain gusto for wanting to put this whole thing behind them. It almost looks too enthusiastic. "I have some of that salt that Podakru trades in Polis," Rinnan advises, in a bid to sweeten the deal. She stops, peeling off the first layer of shirtings, to reveal a second tank top-like layer below it. The outer shirt is set down on a barrel with a wet slap, sending up a bit more of that lake smell. "You're welcome to stay and eat," Rinnan states, pulling out a boning knife from her collection as she looks at Britt in invitation. Still, there's a brief, slightly mournful look that traces its way over to Veks in a manner that suggests she can't fully help it.

Britt watches Veks for another moment, quietly satisfied when he doesn't retort. Her eyes flick over to Rinnan at the invitation, and she shakes her head. "No, but thank you." She offers no explanation, not even a polite excuse about having something to do. "I'll see you later," she offers to them both, very subdued. And then she starts walking off.

Caught somewhere between lingering sullenness and concern, Veks's frown can't seem to decide on how deep to remain. "I'll bring you some later," he tells Britt as she turns. He watches her walk away for a dozen steps or so, deep in thought, before he finally turns to look at Rinnan and says, "I thought this was gonna make everything easier." Snort. That's what you get for thinking, Houndsman.

Rinnan pauses, to gather up the considerable volume of her hair made easier to wrangle by its recent association with the lake and coils it into an unfussy bun-like pile on top of her head. "It'll get easier in a few years, after she releases you…," she remarks with a distraction that seems to presume that Britt will take him on, as she watches Britt's back recede into the pop-up village. She sniffs slightly and looks at Veks for a moment, with a brief but kind smile. The kind that seeks to further temper the previous moments. "She didn't say no," she speculates to Veks with a tiny shrug, "She's not the type to drag out something she doesn't want." Picking back open the boning knife, she cuts into the first of the fish with a practiced ease.


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