The seasons touch the tropical island with a gentle hand, so that the flow from winter into spring is hardly noticeable but for the lessening of the rain. Rukbat is only just visible over the horizon, and this part of the world hovers in that moment between daylight and evening while the sky burns orange and pink above the trio that lingers, oh so casually, on the beach. Quorra is surreptitiously scanning the horizon, the baby in her arms little more than a bundle of blankets and a peacefully rosy face. "He's late."
Zdenka glances behind her, back to the path which leads into the trees and has the little house at the end of it. The sunset is lost on her, too. "Stop with the fussin', Quorra." Her manner is just a little bit /too/ casual. "That's the third time you've said that in as many breaths. You were expectin' him to be on time?"
A tiny fragile green fans her wings and chimes to alert the women to the appearance of a bronze dragon who appears from ::between:: just behind them, Gail force winds sending up a flurry of sand as it hovers, great head pivoting in a fervent search. She is spotted and with a lusty roar he charges toward the firelizard, mouth gaping menacingly. Surprise rivets her to the spot, and then fear sends her into the sky and beyond in a terrified >> blink <<.
"You'd think, if there was /one/ time in a person's life to be on time, it'd be when saving your sister from --" and then Quorra whirls, clutching Nora so tightly to her chest that the baby wakes up with a squall. Relief makes her crabby. "You're /late/," she accuses her twin.
After an initial start, Zdenka moves in closer to Quorra, a shoulder to shield the baby from any flying sand. "An' four," she can't help but quip to Quorra. "Your brother, seems to me he has a thing about makin' an entrance." She raises an eyebrow. "Still, I'll be handin' it to him, that blasted annoying firelizard's gone."
"You're wrong!" Q'luin bellows back with laughing eyes. Zhoreth lands and his lifemate is off and planted ankle-deep in sand in a flurry of motion. "Come on! Quick! Before she comes back!" The youth's voice has taken on a huskier, deeper flare since Quorra has been away, and his features have tightened, losing much of last vestiges of youthful plumpness. The bronzerider has become a man.
Quorra's as different as her twin, with curves to soften her once spare, boyish frame, and something a bit harder to describe that shows in the look she gives her daughter. It just might be contentment. Nora is shifted, bounced carefully, "hush, hush. It's okay," Quorra croons at her. "Hold her while I get up, won't you?" She asks, turning to Zdenka with the baby half-outstretched in her arms.
"Sure," Zdenka says easily, taking the time to size up Q'luin without bothering to say a word to him. "Palm her off on me when the babe starts squallin' - there, there." Nora is balanced gently in the curve of one arm. "I'd save on the cryin' if I were you," the baby is informed gently. "Seein' as you've got flyin' and tweenin' and an uncle to cope with yet."
Dimpling his sibling's cheek with a kiss, Q'luin silently offers to help her up while watching the other woman and the baby out of the corner of a glistening black eye. "What's her name? She's a Q, right?" That question triggers a thought and the father informs, "I have them waiting with Qalon so you can see him before I take you to the Hold. It'll be late - just ignore the - divergence of time." Mirth plays about in his tone in a mischievous manner.
Quorra awards Q'luin with a penetrating glance, though she flashes him a smile for his kiss and accepts his help in mounting Zhoreth. "Of course," how could he doubt? "Qinora. But you'd better call her Nora. Pass her up?" Her arms stretch down. "I should've put her in a sling - sharditall."
"Shall I throw her?" Zdenka lifts Nora up with a cheerful grin, and clambers up after her without so much as a by your leave. "Told you we should've been feedin' her whiskey, put her to sleep." She lands up atop Zhoreth's neckridges with a sailor's usual adroitness. "Bleedin' straps never get any easier."
"Darlin' sister, let me carry the baby between. I've got quite a lot of experience with it," Q'luin informs, his voice soberly keen. "Nora, " he corrects, pleased with the full name. As vain as the man is, it pleases him to have a little bit of himself, or so it settles in his mind, in his little niece. Alighting upon the upraised knee, the rider works to help Zdenka with her straps, and then his twin. "Q'luin, rider of Zhoreth, a pleasure to meet you ..." The introduction is made, but there is no wait for the name as he vaults up into place - no time should be wasted should that green get ahold of her wits. A twist about and he's holding his arms out for the babe, leaving little room for argument.
"Whiskey! I don't want her drunk until she's at least seen a turn," Quorra retorts, with mock offense, though the face she turns on her twin is full enough outrage. "You think I can't carry her?" But she's got just enough sense not to waste time on argument, and she reluctantly passes Nora over. "If you drop her, by Faranth, I'll push you right off, too," she says, fiercely.
"Yeah, I've heard about you," Zdenka tells Q'luin darkly, suffering his help with bad grace. "Pleasure's all yours, I'm sure." Quorra's statement, however, brightens her up considerably, and she continues to be reasonably tactless: "An' I'll help!"
"That would be a mistake, cause if I go, so do you. Zhoreth won't stay to get you home safely." Of course it's a tease, and Q'luin tucks the baby in tight like a football before hailing a cab. Zhoreth springs into the sky, harmlessly scattering sand. "Prepare yourselves!"
Whatever Quorra's smart response to Q'luin's remark was, it's lost to the wind as they spring upwards, and she's left holding tight to the straps while simultaneously peering over Q'luin's shoulder to find Nora. Father or no, she's never seen him hold a baby before.
"F'ranth," Zdenka mutters under her breath, teeth gritted as her stomach lurches. "But I hate this bit. Give me a proper set of sails and a good strong breeze any day." She raises her voice, needlessly. "Come on then! Don't hang about!"
The icy bite of ::between:: engulfs the passengers, for one, two, three breathes and then they are spit out into the cooler night above Ista Weyr. The twinkle of partially obscured lights ignite the walls that rise up ominously dark from the bowl, crawling toward the sky around them. Zhoreth wastes no time as the babe screams terror, diving quickly toward a small arch of shadowy black that marks the entrance to the storage caverns. The land is swift yet soft, and the bronze touches belly to warm dirt to allow an easy dismount.
That terrified cry is enough to send Quorra's heart into her throat, too, though she's well-used to ::between::. They're barely landed before she's harassing her brother, "give her /here/, Qil."
Zhoreth has barely touched the ground again before Zdenka's unbuckling the straps and making her way off the dragon again, less due to a dislike of dragons than a remembered dislike of Q'luin. "Oh, great, land where she'll wake everyone up," Zdenka grumbles, and then hisses up to Quorra, apparently unfeelingly, "No point in hangin' about. Let her to me and I'll take her in to Kez."
Q'luin impatiently glances over his shoulder, "Get down and I will. No need to pass her back and forth, and do so quickly!" Zdenka rankles and the bronzerider bristles, "We landed where you could get her into Kezia quickly. Rather I put your fat ass on the star stones?" No way is he handing this baby over to this wad of piss, and avoiding Quorra, he dismounts with the baby in the easy way a adept father could.
Down Quorra comes, bristling in defense of Zdenka, "my ass is twice the size of hers. What are you trying to say?" And, voice rising dangerously, "give her to me!" Getting away from N'tan is one thing, and finally realizing that she's really got to give Nora up is another entirely.
"In case you've forgotten, the idea is that she's my baby!" Zdenka isn't about to back down to Q'luin an inch, although her voice never rises above a ferocious whisper. "So it's no matter her bein' seen with me, and I'd have been perfectly happy to be trudgin' across the bowl with her - and call me fat again and holdin' a baby or not, I'll make any more speakin' difficult for you, so shut your trap!"
Q'luin blinks back at Quorra's eruption and with a kiss to her tiny forehead, hands the squawking baby to his sister. A crack of a wicked grin tilts the rider's lips at Zdenka's threat. "Touchy... hit a /soft/ spot?" There is no way he's rushing his sister to do what he couldn't, so the man just stands there waiting for the two women to work it out.
"Oh, both of you, will you just shut /up/?" Quorra says, exasperated but more calm now that Nora's back in her arms, though the babe is anything but happy. "This isn't doing anyone one sharding bit of good," she mutters, and there's a quick internal struggle that ends with her bowing her head to touch her nose to Nora's, deliver the swiftest of kisses, one last caress, and then she's shoving the baby at Zdenka. "Take her," she rasps out.
"Nah," Zdenka says contemptuously, shooting Q'luin a look of obvious dislike. "More wonderin' about your eyesight." She's as tall and angular as Quorra once was. "A soft spot?" Zdenka echoes. "Maybe as that's a better place to aim - I'll be bearin' that in mind." But before she can make good on that idea, Quorra's thrusting the baby at her, and Zdenka's hands are otherwise full. "I'll be stayin' here a bit," she promises Quorra. "Leastways she knows me, so she's not all alone - and you'll be seein' her soon, I don't doubt. And me - though goodness knows you've been in my pocket long enough."
When the baby exchanges hands Q'luin is on Quorra in a soft loving manner, hands smoothing the long run of her arms to her hands, which he grasps firmly. Face to face with his twin again, all that old love comes rushing in to gloss his eyes. "She'll be fine. I'll be here to watch over her, and she'll have Qalon. They'll grow up side by side, just like us." Leaning in to nuzzle the mother's cheek, he whispers in her ear, "I missed you."
"Kez'll do right by her, I know that," Quorra tells Zdenka. "I'll be down /soon/." As soon as she can slip away without causing trouble, likely, and maybe even before. Then she's pulled around towards Q'luin, and she allows herself a moment of weakness where she rests her head on his shoulder. "I didn't know it'd be so /hard/," she whispers. Then she shakes herself and pulls away. "We'd best go. Give Kez my love, Zdi. Tell her I said... thank you." Such little words to encompass so much.
Nora's crying isn't getting any quieter. Zdenka takes a step away. "You can tell her yourself, soon, like you said." There's a brief pause, for another attempt to shush the baby. "But yeah, I'll be lettin' her know. I'd best go find how she's doing. See you soon, Quorra. Chin up!" Zdenka melts backwards into the black maw of the cavern's entrance, with only the diminishing sound of Nora's cries to mark her rapid progress.