Author's Note:- Written for an Arolos Weyr Valentine contest - a look at the dragonriders' view of relationships.

"You see." Tr'pedle said matter-of-factly, his voice taking that sing-song tone that suggested he might already have had just a little too much wine, "Really, it's all a bit like buying pants."

"Uh-huh." His drinking companion paused in related his long and rather miserable tale of a love that was lost to reach over and pick up the wineskin, trying to judge how much was left. "Just how much of this have you had?"

"Not enough yet." Tr'pedle said firmly, hastily retrieving the wine-skin before it could be taken out of reach, "Just listen to me, will you? I'm going somewhere with this."

The other man looked sceptical, but nodded, "Go on then."

"Holders, right," Tr'pedle began after a moment's thought, "Are like people who can only really afford one pair of pants. And because they're only ever going to have that one pair of pants they get all stressy about it. They go around and look at all the pants until they've found the perfect pair – 'cause, y'see, y'see, once they've got that pair of pants they're stuck with it. They'll be wearing them until they're all worn out. And if the pair they've picked is ugly, or uncomfortable, or just doesn't suit them, what're they going to do? They're stuck like that…"

"Okay…" His friend allowed him that, although amused by the comparison, "And dragonriders?"

"Dragonriders can have lots of pants!" Tr'pedle waved his arms expansively, "As many pairs as you want! And if you're a dragonrider like us, you don't need to stress if one pair doesn't suit. Or even if it did suit at first…" he reached forward to prod at his friend's stomach, "…maybe you grew out of them. They didn't fit anymore. So what? A Holder would have to diet. A Holder would have to make them fit. But we're dragonriders! You don't want to be moping around about that! Life's too short – you could die in Thread tomorrow. Just find a new pair and get over it!"

"Hey!" His friend protested, evading the poking finger, "Stop that!" He swatted Tr'pedle's hand away and added more morosely, "Anyway, what if I don't want a new pair? I'm not just sleeping with anyone just because it's better than nothing."

"No-one said you had to," Tr'pedle sighed, and leaned over, looking between the other tables, "Look, see her there? Fine-looking pair of pants, wouldn't you say?"

"What, the red ones?" The answer was a little bewildered, "Well, they're a bit bright…"

"Not the real pants – the pants are just the metaphor sort of thing!" Tr'pedle said exasperated, "But the girl inside them – she's pretty enough wouldn't you say?"

"I suppose… I don't want to sleep with her though!"

"Exactly." Tr'pedle wagged his finger knowingly, "Sometimes a pair of pants can look awfully pretty, but just not be right for you. Doesn't mean they're not nice. Can be perfectly nice. Sometimes they just don't suit you. Doesn't mean there's anything wrong with them. They might look great on someone else. You just got to find a pair that suits you is all. Keep looking. There's plenty about."

"If you say so." The other rider watched as Tr'pedle emptied the last of the wineskin into his glass, "Are you sure you haven't had enough of that now?"

"Quite sure." Tr'pedle eyed him as if suspecting an attempt might be made on his glass, holding onto it rather possessively, "Go get another skin if you want more. I'm sure we'll manage to drink it, one way or another."

The other man sighed, getting to his feet and heading over to get one. At least it might mean a chance to change the subject – this kind of lecture wasn't at all what he'd expected when Tr'pedle had dragged him out for a drink to cheer him up.

Of course, it probably did work for Tr'pedle. It was all well and good for Tr'pedle.

As far as he was concerned though, it was just a load of… pants.