Always Something There to Remind Me

Xanadu Weyr - Caverns
A massive cavern in its own right, this one has been skillfully adapted for human habitation. The high ceilings have been painted a light, soft ivory, as have walls hung with numerous tapestries that provide brilliant color and insulation from the stone. The floor has been left in its natural state, pale pink granite speckled through with glittering mica and dark flecks of basalt. The stone is carefully leveled but kept sufficiently rough to avoid slips.
The cavern itself is loosely divided into areas, each one set up to be suitable for some segment of the Weyr's population. The most frequently occupied area is the one near the Kitchens, where tables of varying sizes provide a place to sit down and eat or chat and a buffet of consumables is almost always kept stocked. It's plain that on most days, this area wouldn't accommodate anywhere near the full population of the Weyr, instead feeding people in shifts as they come off duty. On occasions when a formal meal is laid out, tables are borrowed from all the other areas.
There's also a big fireplace set into the western wall, several comfortable chairs nearby providing haunts for elderly residents or riders who like a good view of all that happens. Rugs cover the floor in strategic spots, all of them abstract or geometric in design and most in the softly neutral colors of undyed wool.
Exits lead off in all directions, the largest an archway to the northeast that leads outside. Near it there's an alcove with hooks for coats and shelves for muddy boots. A tunnel to the east goes to the infirmary, and a set of stairs just a little south of that lead up to the offices and administration area. To the south, a long and sloping tunnel leads down to the hot springs. The kitchen is off to the southwest, while the residents' quarters are reached by tunnels going west, deeper into the cliff.

New mornings bring new beginnings. A chance to start over. A chance to make things right.

Or wrong.

She knew he was there even before he got close enough to touch her, she always did. He didn't need to speak, he didn't need to make contact, there was something about him that called to her from across the room. Her dirty little secret, now on the verge of being something so much more forbidden, that she fought so hard to resist.

In truth she had no idea why he had the power over her that he did. True she'd given him some measure of it but he wasn't her type at all, never mind the fact he was newly weyrmated. He was short, bald, arrogant… and held her completely in his thrall.

She knew she needed to walk away, to end things, but as his hand settled on the back of her neck and his fingers curled posessively around she couldn't stop the shiver. It rested there for the briefest of moments, long enough for his thumb to stroke the side of her throat, before he moved to sit down beside her with an overly cheery, "Morning."

Don't look at him. Don't look at him. Play it calm. "J'than." Did her voice sound calm? She didn't feel it. Her heart was thundering in her ears, he must be able to hear it.

"How's the candidacy going? Not heard from you in a while."

"Oh, you know. Busy. Lots to do! Bet you've been enjoying the peace and quiet."

"Aye, a bit. Can't be long to go now."

Someone arrived with a plate of food for him but it barely registered, her attention focussed completely on the fact his thigh pressed against hers as he leaned out of the way so it could be placed down. Warmth surged through her. Was she blushing? Shells.

His voice dropped low as he leaned across her to get to the seasonings, "When'm I getting my letter?"

The letters. Supposed to be destroyed, but so carefully hidden in the barracks. She'd told Risa. Did he know? He couldn't know. There won't be a letter, we need to end this, I won't hurt her. "Soon. So many people it's hard to breathe in the barracks." Traitorous voice! Traitorous heart. He doesn't love you, he never will. Stop this. Now.

"Soon." He seemed satisfied with that answer… for now. "Hopefuly not waiting too long though, eh."

She felt the reply forming almost unconsciously. The name she called him when they were alone. Not here, not in public. Just nod. She needed to find Risa. Needed advice. Why had she ever allowed this to happen in the first place? Ricki said he was just using her, manipulating her for his own fun, and she knew it was true but….

There was always a but. Always something that reminded her of him, of their time together, of… she had to get away.

"Probably not, but who knows what'll happen with the eggs. I should get back. It was good to see you."

He reached across, pulling her into a brief friendly hug. Nobody heard what he whispered into her ear. Nobody would from her lips either. Not even Risa. A promise made that she hoped he would keep, and dreaded at the same time.

Something else to remind her that her 'morals' weren't as intact as she pretended.

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