For a few days, the former guard pondered the idea of moving back to Benden and facing the harsh truth there with the safety net of his family. The tug of the familiar pulled at his heart until Tui and Hale intervened by bringing Halimila and her brood by one day. Dew had been snoozing in the sunshine but it was the scowl on Mila’s face that had Lai’s pity party coming to a temporary halt. “So you’re going to leave me? Is that how it’s going to end?” She asked dropping her frame into the seat beside him. Blanching, stammering and pulling away from the quiet anger of his adopted sister, Laikanu wondered how the green rider knew his thoughts.
“So what if you didn’t Impress, Kanu. There’s plenty of folks who never Impressed! The weyr couldn’t function if everyone had,” Mila went on to say as she slapped his shoulder. “There’s even been folks who Impressed long after the usual cut off…. Who knows what might happen if you stay. I do know that I’m going to miss you if you go. So will Minnie and Chime… Papa too if he had the time to visit. Ardi won’t admit it but she’ll miss you too. Even if it’s just at bath time,” Mila teased laying her head on the shoulder she just abused. “Seriously though, Kanu, don’t go. I’m sure there’s a place for you even if you have to bunk with Ardi and I for a while…. Though someone might start another rumor about us,” She grinned at him as he glanced down at her.
“Another?” Laikanu asked with a dark hint to his voice. With all his own problems, Laikanu hadn’t been paying attention to the rumor mill. For a few weeks, shortly before Halimila bonded to her Arduinnath, there had been a few bits of gossip about them that had caused a few fights for the young man. Laikanu had thought that he had put an end to those rumors before they had gotten too far. Someone, a jealous soul no doubt, had claimed that their bond as siblings ran towards a different sort of love.
Mia’s giggle pulled Laikanu out of his thoughts as she poked him in the side, “No. No more gossip about us. You stopped them for good, I think,” Mila admitted smiling at the blue eyed boy. “The offer stands though, either with me or Papa if you think someone might start something. I could convince him if you wanted to,” Hali rambled as she tried to keep Lai’s thoughts in the present. Laikanu’s mind ran the notion over a few times to see if it would work. The idea of bunking with his adopted sister and her possessive green had a few things going for it but in the long run Lai knew it wasn’t the best thing for anyone involved. Staying with Halian held similar problems and one major drawback, the older man didn’t exactly agree with Laikanu’s relationship with his daughter.
Sitting there with Mila on his shoulder, Tui on his lap and Hale stealing from his plate, Laikanu realized that he was home. Even if his dreams hadn’t played out the way that he had hoped for so long, Atricis had become his home in a way that Benden rarely had been. The only dark spot in his new outlook was that he had no skills to improve his home. “Mila? What am I going to do now?” He asked softly before pressing a brotherly kiss to her curly head. Turning her head slightly to frown at him, “Whatcha mean, Lai? I thought you were staying?” She asked confused and a bit hurt. “I meant what craft, job or position am I am going to do now? What good can I do for the Weyr?” He asked before pulling away from the young green rider.
Moving quickly the young man left his sister at their table and tried to leave the dining hall before his inner thoughts became apparent to everyone else. Unfortunately for Laikanu he was stopped before he could leave. “Don’t walk away from me, Lai! What do you mean what good can you do? I thought we covered that!” Mila said as her own hurt tangled with her words. “No, Halimila, you said that you would miss me not what I’m supposed to do now,” Laikanu hissed as he realized how close he was to tears once more. “You know what,” He added harshly, “Just forget it. You wouldn’t understand. You’ve got everything you’ve ever wanted and I’m still left behind!”
With those harsh words ringing in the air between them, Laikanurinato hardened his heart against the tears forming in her brown eyes. “Lai,” She whispered raising a hand to stop him from leaving. “Don’t ‘Lai’ me, Halimila of Arduinnath. You can’t deny it any more than you can fix it. Leave me alone, Green Rider,” His last words dripped with pain and anger as he turned away from the petite girl. “Go back to your dragon,” He spat as he left the girl in tears.