Stacking The Deck

Xanadu Weyr - Wanderin' Wherry Tavern

It is often whispered, in the crowds that converge here, that a certain Weyrleader was asked what he wanted in the remodeling of the pub that was not so long ago given a refreshing. He muttered back over the rim of his ever-present mug, "I don't care what you do with the place, just so long as there is plenty of ale." With that in mind, cask after cask of ale lines the walls of the tavern, the remodeler's idea of a jest. As they age, the casks bring a real rustic atmosphere to the pub, along with the deeply wooden flavor that seems to be the theme throughout.

The lighting is dim, as it should be in all good pubs, and the tables and chairs are plentiful. A long mahogany bar, intricately carved with runner beasts, stands vigilant duty at the head of the bar, lined with stools for those patrons that seek the bartender's company. Behind it are drinks for those not inclined toward ale, as well as a door leading to the small kitchen where snacks are made and a back room that probably holds yet more ale.

Summer nights generally see the best influx of patrons to the long standing tavern and tonight is no exception! It's lively, but not overcrowded to the point of being unpleasant, a buzz of conversation setting a decent backdrop to the overall atmosphere of the room. Like most taverns do, there is a mix of all sorts of folks within, clustered together or in smaller more intimate groups. Ru'ien has laid claim to one of the corner tables with the best view of the room's interior. How else is he to people watch? Not that he's been actively at it for awhile, as he'd long ago drawn some company in the form of fellow Crafters. Shooting the breeze, as it were, over a pint but they are excusing themselves now, despite the weyrling's teasing protests. Regardless, they make their exit and, unruffled by this, he sees them off with a crooked smirk and a few parting words that draw more laughter among the farewells. Mere moments after being left to himself, he'll produce a deck of cards, slouched oh-so lazily in his chair and expertly shuffling them between his hands. He's dressed in his usual eccentric tastes, clearly as 'off duty' as a weyrling can get and his hair has been messily tied back, as if a last minute and haphazard decision. With his gaze downturned to the cards in motion, he's as distracted as he ever will be - prime target!

It's a tavern and so it's safe to say that people are milling about in addition to entering and leaving upon occasion, so it's not exactly out of character for the door to swing open and then be closed again. Tonight is no different, except one of those filtering in as crowd of crafters exits, is yet another artisan. This one a woodcrafter from Fort dressed in dark green leathers and one that at least to one of the patron, not unfamiliar. Hazel eyes scan the busy establishment slowly, dragged over face after face, until catching on one that immediately ceases any further investigation. A lopsided smile twitching at one corner of his mouth, M'ti pushes forward and makes his way towards that corner table, and as soon as he arrives plants his palms upon the surface of it, leaning in, "Now where have I seen this before?" he teases, finding great personal amusement in the similarity to now and how Ru'ien and he first met.

"Your guess is as good as mine, stranger," Ru'ien answers with a low chuckle and easy-going half smile that tugs at one corner of his mouth. In that fleeting moment where his gaze remains lowered on his hands, there may be a heartbeat of wonder if he's serious in his breezy light dismissiveness. It's not long before the truth is revealed, however, as with a subtle flourish and roll of his hand, he'll finish shuffling the cards into one hand; in the same beat, blue eyes peer upwards sharply, a sly-curved smirk playing upon his lips. "Hello, stranger!" he quips again in a low, bemused fashion. Oh, he's playing at some form of a game though the winds will change often with him. Setting the deck of cards on the table top, he'll fold his hands in his lap, elbows resting casually on either armrest. Ru'ien's the picture of comfortable right now - which generally means he's on a mischievous streak. "Should I guess what's brought you to Xanadu this fine, summer night? It wouldn't be little 'ol me, now would it?"

At this point, M'ti wasn't buying in so much as willing to play along, although he has to press his lips together tightly in order to keep himself from laughing. Schooling his expression just in time for those blue eyes to rise, he meets them unafraid with his hazel, a single brow lifting towards it's outermost corner, "Is that so? Well, my mistake then, though truth be told all you Weyrlings look the same to me…" he replies with a effortless wave of one hand, pushing himself up to standing and tugging his jacket back down into place. Be it by repeated exposure or direct infusion, some of what made Ru'ien as attractive as it did frustrating at times, was clearly rubbing off. Whether or not this was a good thing or not remained to be seen. A moment later though, the pretense drops away and M'ti chuckles, beaming a radiant smile that would undoubtedly punctuate that he could give as good as he could take— as if that hadn't very recently been proved in other ways. "Hello, yourself." he quips back, soon unzipping his jacket and sliding it of his arms, dropping it to the back of the chair beside Ru's, murmuring something akin to "Was it always so sharding hot here?" beneath his breath. Shoving the long sleeves of his tunic up to his elbows, Matty helps himself to the seat he'd designated for himself, gaze taking in man beside him briefly before he sharply inhales through his nostrils and yanks it away again, looking for a waitress and lifts a hand to flag her down, "I simply can't imagine what I might have said or done to give you that Impression, stranger…" While he may say this, M'ti does toss a knowing look back Ru'ien's way, ashen lashes lowering suggestively with a surprisingly subtle but decidedly intention moistening of his lips. Before that can go any further, he's giving his order to the server, a mug of iced klah. That done, the greenrider looks back to his tablemate as he leans back, "That aside," he says, fairly decently pulling off innocent as he goes on to ask, "How's everything on your end?" And oh yes he's looking, not that he can see anything given location and position, eyes darting back up to his, "Good?"

"Well, it's summer? Or do you mean inside here?" Ru'ien asks with a quizzical tilt of his head, playful smirk still in place until it morphs again to something more sly and fox-like. "I won't lie, though! There's been some decent eye candy tonight." Cue a wink and a pointed look at M'ti that lingers in a way that is likely meant to take the edge off (or stomp out any potential jealously - if he were actually thinking on that). "Why are you wearing long sleeves!? That," He flicks his fingers to the offending bit of fabric. "Is half your problem!" Chuckling heartily over it, he doesn't seem in any rush to take his attention off the Fortian greenrider; consider his interests well and truly hooked! There's a snort for the order, a mouthed 'really' to M'ti, before he's raising his fingers in a silent gesture to refill his pint. A brow quirks and then he begins to laugh, unable to resist the chance to tease despite it all. "Like what you see? Of course everything fine on my end," Snicker. Exhaled breath in a lazy sigh. "What else did you expect?" Oh, if he wants to play innocent, then he'll play oblivious (wait, or is he being serious?)!

Making a soft sound closely related to a snort for the reminder of the current season, M'ti tosses a look over Ru'ien's way that was based entirely in his playful bemusement, "Both really, at least compared to Fort." This could be taken in so many different ways that even the greenrider himself is impressed, the ease in which they exchanged banter helping him to relax the tension he wasn't even aware clung to his shoulders. When it comes to eye candy, it should be surprising when Matty's brows shoot upwards and his attention snaps back to the slyly smiling and winking man, heat rising to his face the instant that he realizes just what was being implicated there. With a bit of a sputter, "Yes, well…" and flushing notably, he waves his hand as casually as he could manage even as a smile creeps up to haunt his lips. Mission accomplished Ru'ien, well done! Flattered and appeased all at once, it takes M'ti a moment or two to collect himself again, finding his thoughts scattered for some reason, "I had other things on my mind…" he murmurs back sheepishly, releasing a sigh and nodding following that gesture. "I'd take it off completely but I wouldn't want to blind anyone." The continued focus on his person ensures that color remains on cheeks, that like the rest of him, was alabaster pale— the still fading freckles of his youth across the bridge of his nose not withstanding. There's a chuckle to accompany the pop and drop of one shoulder for his drink order, watching the server as she nods to them both in turn and heads back towards the bar. Someday, perhaps, Ru might be able to convince Matty to drink the adult stuff but today wasn't it. Instead, "Always…" he breathes out in response to liking what he sees, fingers twitching but keeping his hands to himself, although the same could not be said for wandering eyes. Lips quirk and he shrugs again, casting his gaze out over the bar while keeping his voice low, "I was sore for…a while…" Clearing his throat, he rolls his shoulders back and say nothing more on the topic other than flick a smile Ru's direction, "I'm glad you're okay."

Ru'ien is rather smug for all that blushing and sputtering coming from M'ti - and so early in too! "Oh, is that so? What kind of other things?" he muses, tucking one hand under his chin with only two fingers curving over his chin. Do tell! Well, do tell if he gives the chance to! Which, typical of him, he's already moving on within the span of seconds. Starting, of course, with another laugh at the talk of blinding folks and there's a wolfish grin to that. "I'd not complain? But perhaps for the benefit of all others and their cherished eyesight, well…" His hands move again, spreading out in a helpless gesture before he moves to lean forwards, gaze still fixed on him even as the server returns with their drinks. He'll give his thanks, as well as square away the payment (and tip, because he's not an ass), all smoothly and effortlessly like he lives and breaths this kind of activity. "Didn't we already cover that?" he teases again, along with a snickered breath and fond nudge with his closed fist to the other's shoulder. "Quit worrying over me like a wherry hen! I'm fine." And he's dodging the subject, because there are elements he hasn't processed yet and not in regards to his own experiences. The tavern is not the place Ru'ien will chose to decompress, though one wonders if he would after another round or two of pints! But there's an obvious smile chasing that last comment of his, to show that he does appreciate it. "Wanna play a round?" he suggests, after a shallow sip of his refilled pint and those cards, previously ignored, are now back in his hands. "I'll be nice and let you pick which game~"

Indeed he is and while M'ti was more used to such smuggness than not these days, it was still hitting him rather hard now that all his pretense had fallen away. "Never you mind what things, you'll find out later." Of course, the second that this hushed response slips out into the world, he regrets it, wincing a bit even as he barely keeps himself from doing something that would have undoubtedly be taken as flirtatious from any angle. It's a brief reprieve at best, as the combination of that look and reposition comes with that lean forward, comments of clothing optional thrusting him into redfruit territory. Realizing that he's staring at Ru's mouth, M'ti clears his throat and tears his eyes away, almost thankful for the server's interruption. "Mhmm, indeed we did…" he agrees, more than happy to drop the subject he'd stupidly brought up, swaying mildly for the nudge to his shoulder. The greenrider's attention returning to the Weyrling with something dancing on the tip of his tongue that isn't said, as if picking up on the mutual desire to move on. However, as cards are brought up, without bothering to look around or consider who might be looking— M'ti reaches across and pulls Ru forward by his shirt, planting a soft but firm kiss right there on his mouth, "How about this one?" he asks, nibbling on his lower lip before drawing back, sliding the deck out of hand. "Otherwise, you'll have to teach me. I've never played cards before…" Sure, Matty might be blushing as if he invented the thing, but he felt oddly empowered, palming the cards as he uses his other hand to cool his jets with a sip of his drink. Do-dee-do-dee-do, nothing to see here.

"Well that's no fun! What if I want to know now?" Ru'ien feigns a complaining tone, much alike a spoiled brat who isn't used to being denied. The facade is as short and fleeting as a breath, as in the next moment he's grinning like a fool - and in the next, is silenced (and the best way, in his opinion). He could care less who is watching, given that the restrictions have been lifted and it's not his first foray into public affection. The kiss is returned, ended with a note of playful disappointment when M'ti makes such a hasty retreat. He won't complain about the cards being taken from his hand, either, though he'll chuckle low for whatever else has been implied and has his thoughts fracturing in many delightful (to him!) alternatives. "I could teach you, you know?" he suggests, with a sly smirk that hints at so much more laden in such an innocent phrase. He'll reach to gather the cards up again, only this time, begins to cut the deck and then dole out a playing hand each. "It's really simple! We can even wager a small bet… What you say, Matty? Let's have a little round!" If Rhodelia were here, she'd likely warn Matty that Ru'ien can (and does) set the deck in his favour, when the whim strikes! Surely though, that wholesome "innocent" bright grin is anything but suspicious! Should the bait be taken, Ru'ien will keep his word and explain the game: it's nothing more than some Pernese version of Crazy Eights.

Pursing his lips together, Matty's eyes widen a bit as his brows lift and he shrugs, thus dismissing the wanting of knowing of things right then and there. Nope, he's not talking, though he does lick his lips back into a smile that was less shy as it was embarrassed. Likely the only conclusion that might be drawn from this is that it was probably worth waiting for. Perhaps that silencing kiss, fleeting as it is, was a taste of what was to come? It very well may be given the sheer amount of awkward that comes following, with M'ti pretending that it hadn't just happened and far too focused on very poorly shuffling the cards he'd thieved. To say that even that low chuckle has an effect is an understatement with M'ti very nearly scattering the deck all over the place, saved only because Ru'ien oh so slyly absconds with it. There is no resistance, but it seems as if once the blushing has started it was nearly impossible to stop, hazel eyes cast over and brows knotting. Teach? Oh my. Without the ability to go much darker without going purple, the threat of such all too real with cryptic offerings that could mean anything and the greenrider has little choice but to take a moment to breathe through it— whatever it is— and slowly but surely begins to tip back towards pink rather than red, "It depends what you want to bet…" he murmurs, a potent mix of nervousness and excitement plain enough to see. He'll gather up the cards dealt to him, but if Ru thinks for a moment that Matty wasn't onto him, he'd be wrong. First though, he'll listen to the rules and very slowly nod his head. However, until he knows what they'll be wagering, he'll wait before agreeing to play.

See, Ru'ien is arrogant enough to go ahead with the assumption that Matty is going to play, regardless of what he'll wager! Why? That blushing, for one! He makes it too easy. Thoroughly entertained by that alone, he's like a cat with a mouse - determined to taunt and torment rather than go in for the kill. So it's no wonder that his smirk broadens to a near fox-like grin, eyes narrowing with as much feigned innocence among the mischievous air about him. He's already gathered his hand, lazily fanning out the cards and repositioning a few without so much as a blink of an eye. "Oh, nothing terrible, really! Just a few favours…" There's that word again! Only he really means it in a not-so inappropriate manner this time (well, sort of). "Craft-related! I mean, I guess I could just ask you if you were up to the task but… this is way more exciting!" Feel free to kick him under the table, Matty! His legs are stretched out (damned height of his!) and prime targets! "There's not much else I can think to wager? It's not like I'm gonna ask you for marks! That's just… absurd. But? Maybe there's something else…" Provided his limbs haven't met with an unfortunate meeting with a well aimed kick, Ru'ien will shift in his seat until he is precariously settled on the edge; just enough so he can lean forwards and in to whisper something privately to the greenrider. Mostly for effect, as the buzz of conversations around them would've drowned out his words. Whatever is said, has Ru'ien speaking slow, a few choice words purposely drawn out in clever enunciation to drive home a (very inappropriate) point. Satisfied, Ru'ien will push back into his seat, flowing into that lazy devil-may-care lounging pose, smugness written all over his face without a hint of apology. His hands gather his cards again,
while his fingers briefly lift to suggest that M'ti does the same. Shall they play, after all?
There was a lot more going on upstairs that many— often times including Ru'ien— gave the greenrider credit for, although right now he was blushing rather obviously, so it wasn't difficult to imagine the general idea of what he had in mind. Along that vein, the smirk that the Weyrling wore was just as telling, almost to the point that all their dodging of specifics could be labeled as irrelevant. M'ti flushes a little darker under that grin regardless, shifting in his seat and pointedly crossing his legs as he does so as hazel eyes dart around and then back to his table companion, "Favors?" he hears himself ask, brows lofting a few degrees more until they knot a second later before his features smooth themselves out. Craft-related favors? Opening his mouth to say exactly 'you could just ask', Ru beats him to it, earning a rosy cheeked sigh and a playful roll of his eyes, "Faranth…" he breathes and for a split second he might even be tempted to go as far as to nudge at his lover, but without a transgression worthy of a swift kick, Matty keeps his feet to himself. Not even when Ru'ien leans over and whispers that is there any sharp toe to shin action, though the brunet does sit up a little straighter and stiffer than before, as color creeps up to his ear tips. The Weyrling might try to retreat after that very direct enunciating, though that may be harder than expected, considering M'ti had hooked fingers into the front of his tunic again. The look in his eyes was for this man alone as he leans in and brings his lips up against his ear in turn and shares his thoughts on what was discussed. Then, red-faced, he releases him and immediately gets to arranging and rearranging his hand several times over. Eventually he lays down a card, teeth caught on his lower lip and sliding back into place from under them, head tilting off to the side a bit even as he avoids looking directly at Ru'ien again for a while. Safer that way.

Safer, indeed, even if the damage has been done and Ru'ien's low, rolling laughter takes a good span of time to ebb and sober! He's still chuckling to himself while he waits for Matty to start the card game, lips curved in an ever-present wry grin. His eyes are bright, even narrowed, focused both on the younger greenrider and the cards between them. "You always manage to surprise me, Matty!" he quips, oh-so casually as though nothing amiss just occurred between them. Why is the one blushing so furiously? WHO KNOWS! Ru'ien's all calm and suave arrogance! Nothing to see here, really. A card is dealt and the game progresses, steadily and without much to be noted - save that luck favours Matty for the start and then doesn't. Aww, such a shame, really? OR IS IT. "Not bad for a first time at it!" he muses over the rim of his glass, having reached for his drink to take a long pull of it. By now, time has dwindled away and it's obvious who will win the round! Ru'ien clearly has no intentions of dawdling once they're done with their game. He'll gather the cards, winking to Matty while grinning from ear to ear, pocketing them away. In the same moment, he'll polish off the rest of his pint and, with a satisfied sigh, begin to rise from his chair. "So… about those favours? I want to show you what I've in mind." There's no offer of his hand, but once Matty is on his feet? He'll brazenly sling his arm about the smaller greenrider's shoulders, drawing him in close and tight. NO ESCAPE! "Come on! It'll be better if we discuss it somewhere quiet…" Because his intentions are pure and they're only leaving to conduct some Crafter business and NOT act upon whispered suggestions so wildly inappropriate! … yeah, right.

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