Facing Facts

Xanadu Weyr - Rustic Treetop Cafe
Perched on the cliff overlooking Xanadu's beach is a gnarled and massive skybroom tree. The bark and outer layers are sturdy enough to support the thriving, brushy top, but the interior, which is hollow, contains a spiral staircase that leads to a cafe built on a high platform amongst the branches. With a panoramic view of lake, sky, Weyr and the mountains beyond, the treetop eatery offers both sheltered seating just inside the trunk and tables on the wide deck that encircles the old tree.

The cafe's decor is comfortable and rustic, but closer inspection shows the smallest embellishments to be artfully combined into one detailed masterpiece. The wood of the doors, floor and walls of the trunk have been stained a dark mahogany that lends the space a sense of intimacy. Tables in various sizes have been carved to mimic driftwood, the chairs and benches padded with oiled sailcloth cushions to provide weather-proof comfort. Each table has an aged brass lantern filled with shells and agates gathered from Xanadu's shores, the sparkling natural mosaics holding tapered candles upright in their embrace. Lamps hang from the ceiling on silver poles, the thick frosted glass carved into intricate pastel shells or swirling white-capped waves. At night the colored glass softens the glowlight to enhance the ambiance.

During the day, the retractable doors allow leaf-spattered sunlight to fill both the outer deck and the smaller interior with green and gold light, as well as allowing pleasant breezes to cool the interior. On clear nights, farviewers perch on the elaborately carved railing are free for use to enhance the gorgeous view of the stars over the Caspian Lake, the Sea of Azov beyond and the rock formations of the Weyr.

There are many pleasant places to work in summer, even in the evening when work should be over for most people. Sitting on the cafe's outer deck under the stars with the farviewers on the rail in easy reach and the glow of the lamps might be called straddling the line between work and relaxation if it weren't for the very obvious fact that while others sit about in clusters of conversation or dining, F'yr is quite alone with his not insignificant volume of papers spread out as he takes note from one book with two other set off to one side. If he had food, the plate has been long since taken, but there's a mug of klah set among the papers, so there's sustenance of some kind.

The cafe is a pleasant enough place, true, and while some frequent it often there are others who do not. Katailea is one who falls into the latter group, but this particular evening has brought her in with her own, rarely seen, notebook. A quick survey of the deck finds a few places where one could sit, but as chance would have it the one she moves towards is beside where F'yr has taken up residence. She pauses briefly, perhaps awkwardly, for a moment before the decision is made to invite herself to join. "Hi," she says simply as she moves to pull out the chair across from the man. He might have things spread out but there's room enough and if he doesn't want company then its up to him to say as much.

F'yrfully focused as the bronzerider is, it takes a moment for the scrape of the chair and the appearance of a companion across the way to register, so it's not until Katailea actually says 'hi' that F'yr's eyes are on her and even then, it's another blink for it all to penetrate his herdbeast brain to produce some kind of response. "Oh hi." The words are touched with surprise, but no more than is only reasonable for someone not expecting to see a certain person in a certain place. Given the way he's taken to casually avoiding Katailea after their last awkward encounter, and having to routinely 'have to go' when they do cross paths, it might be that he picked this place because he was unlikely to cross paths with someone as easily as one might in, say, the craft complex common area or the caverns, but seeing as how F'yr is among the former group who do frequent this place often, it might also just be that he likes it here and happens to be here now. He doesn't seem displeased to see the blonde at any rate, moving his hands automatically to net in his sprawl of papers to give her more room there on her side. "Sorry," the papers, the sprawl, something else? Maybe. There's an awkward beat before he shuffles some more papers and asks, "How are you?"

Seeing as he didn't find some reason to go, or for her not to join and is rather making room the blonde settles into the chair. Casual avoidance goes both ways with work always being a likely reason to have to be on her way should it have been needed. The response to his apology an automatic "Its okay," whatever it might be for papers or otherwise, both even. Katailea really doesn't need that much space, just enough to lay her notebook open which reveals that several pages have been torn from it, a document of some sort folded and tucked into the front turned with the cover to leave the first page open to continued writing. "I'm fine," the answer to that question remains ever the same as she finds her pen. "How are you?"

The thing about mutual avoidance is it has every possibility of seeming to either party like they're simply doing a very exceptional job. It might take time for a realization about being avoided in turn to hit. Who knows if that time has come and gone for F'yr or if it's yet to be. He continues to shuffle the papers, ordering them in some mystic way that probably wouldn't make sense to anyone else (which is just what happens when one learns to file from the worst best). Is he leaving and just has a lot of things to pick up? But no, the papers get settled in a stack on top of the books, which no doubt would speed a cowardly retreat if one proves necessary, but the bronzerider doesn't look like he's getting up. He nods to her answer of fine and then stretches, arms going up above his head and back a little, considering the return question before he reaches for his mug. "Okay. Weird to be living on my own. Weird to be starting to shadow wings like we know the basics when it still feels like we're practicing the basics and I'm just waiting to start feeling sure I know what I'm doing." Was that more of an answer than she wanted? He shrugs a little helplessly. That's about the long and short of it all.

More than she wanted, no. More than she expected, yes. Given recent encounters she was expecting 'okay' and little more save perhaps for it to be followed by a need to be somewhere else. "That'll happen sooner or later," Katailea replies to the idea of feeling like he knows what he's doing. "And when it does you probably won't realize it," there's a bit of tease in that last, glancing up a smile on her lips fleeting as she looks back to the page where she's yet to pick up where she left off. "I'm sorry."

"Probably," F'yr has enough self-awareness, if only just enough, to admit the blindness that is all too common a phenomenon when the new crosses the invisible line into routine. The answer prompts a slight smile in answer to the tease before he brings his mug to his lips. It hesitates there as she apologizes, and then he sips, carefully setting the mug back in its place. More papers start to get shuffled until his pen goes atop the whole stack and his arms take their place, hands lacing loosely together. Is that enough time for him to gather all his thoughts? Maybe he'd hoped they could skip this. He clears his throat after a moment, "It's…" Nope, apparently, not enough time, but he tries again anyway, "I once asked to kiss you, so it was… I mean. You had no way to know that Glori still gets bent out of shape sometimes about physical contact." He clears his throat. Is it hot in here? There's a blush touching his cheeks, so maybe it's that. Just how awkward can the bronzerider make this? "There were a lot of… things… going on then," now more than a month and a half back. How weyrling time flies. Will she rescue him or let him blunder on? He doesn't seem to know where he's going with all this.

Katailea's eyes remain fixed on that page in front of her for a long moment. "Next time, don't ask," she finally says "I wanted to since the first time at the beach" as her pen is tucked back into place and the notebook closed. Assuming there might be a next time. "I should have just talked like you wanted," she goes on, letting out a breath, hands resting on top of the notebook like she might find some excuse to leave. She doesn't though, not yet anyway. "I just… You… There were alot of things going on," there's a point they can agree upon. "You didn't need to hear about how things aren't fine," with that admission she finally looks up, green eyes seeking out blue. "I just miss my friend."

There's a digesting look on F'yr's face as he takes this all in. It starts with the first words and only becomes deeper as she goes on. It's not judgment or reaction, but rather the absence of it as he looks at her face. He meets her eyes briefly and then down to the table top. "I… tried that once. Kissing without asking." The hand is back up to rub the back of his neck, a self-conscious gesture this time. "It didn't go well. Badly, actually. It went badly." There's at least rhyme to his reason. "It didn't go well to ask with you, but at least I didn't hurt anyone in the process." Sort of, but emotional confusion is not the kind of hurt he means. There's a pause while he slides thoughts into words that will be right, or close to right anyway. "I'm here. The friend. Things… are still complicated. Glorioth…" That's complicated all by itself. He starts again, his eyes coming back from where they had strayed to the tabletop, finding her face again. "I do want to know about when things aren't fine. I am your friend." Even if the rest is complicated. "You never have to talk to me when you don't want to, but I'd like it if you did. Especially if there's something I can do to help." He chews his lower lip a moment and sighs. "Things get complicated between us, Katailea, and I don't think I can make them more complicated, with my other complicated." He looks apologetic at least.

It's met with an apologetic frown. Not that it was her fault by any stretch of the imagination not being a part of that particular attempt of his, but that it went badly. Beyond that Katailea doesn't comment on that part of it, but instead offers an explanation. "I said no because I didn't want to say goodbye," said as she looks down towards her hands. Nevermind the fact that she still left. When she lifts her chin again its with an almost smile. "Sometimes I might need you to ask," it's almost a question, giving him permission to pry when he deems fit to do so. "I've gotten good at keeping things to myself." Even when it might be better to be able to share them with a friend. "Complicated is… well it is." Complicated is complicated and there's nothing either of them can do about that. "But I'm your friend too, F'yr, and I shouldn't have but I didn't know if it was going to be my last chance. The Lily was in port that day.." The Gilded Lily, her family's ship.

The bronzerider's fingers knit and unravel from the confines of the other digits as she speaks, his eyes dropping to blankly watch the motion before his hands draw back and end up down in his lap. Blue eyes find her face, F'yr's own looking briefly conflicted before he nods. Maybe he should say something more to all the rest, but he doesn't seem to know what to say. "I'm not great at asking when it seems like it's not wanted. Youngest of twelve… you get used to hearing the 'don't ask' when it's not said aloud. I'll try." It's the best he can give her. He'll try now. "You didn't go. What happened?"

Maybe he should says something more, but she said it and has moved on to what comes next. She laughs, almost, a touch of amusement at least evident for the commentary on not asking. That's one she's all to familiar with herself. "We can both try." He on the asking, she on the sharing. The question that follows brings her pause, lips press together and tongue wets them before Katailea speaks again. "I have friends here." Perhaps not exactly an answer, but a partial reason at least. She's trying too though and despite the hesitation she goes on though her gaze drifts off out over the dark waters in the distance. "He was angry, we had words that ended in him ordering me to be there when they set sail," she explains, one hand lifting to see fingers trailing lightly along her jaw before falling back to the table. "I said I would." But what else could she say? "She," the reference to the woman said with distaste, "was all too happy to put me back to work and my nephew.." she doesn't finish the thought. Green eyes look back to the man across the table, "I didn't go. I'm only surprised he didn't send one of my brothers to collect me with his deal on the line."

"What deal?" F'yr asks, brows drawing down with concern. "If anyone tries to take you from here without your consent, you know you can raise a ruckus and you'll be helped. You can even tell them that your big bronzerider friend will hunt them down and his dragon will be only too pleased to bust apart their little boat. Tell them we burnt down the barracks." Technically, that was a group effort, but it does make for a good threat. "Not that I like the idea of dragonriders becoming a thing to inspire fear," he frowns slightly, "but they're not entitled to you, just because you're related. Not any more than my family is entitled to me." His lips are slightly pinched in his slow rise to temper, but he's not flying off the handle or telling her what she should or shouldn't do, not really, just offering a friend's encouragement and advice. It has to be a promising sign, right? "I'm glad you didn't go. I think you can get a better family here." He speaks from experience, after all. He reaches for his mug again, taking a long sip, perhaps wishing it had something stronger than klah, but it's likely for the best that it doesn't.

“Remember when Evi got that letter that was for me?" Back what seems like forever ago only a few sevens after the hatching. "That was to tell me about it, among .. other things." The mention of her bronzerider friend and his offer of threats brings a smirk, knowing that he would it. Katailea could use a little liquid courage too to get past this part, her fingers curl tightly in for a moment before she pulls the document free from her notebook to hand it over. "This," is in answer to the question what deal. A marriage contract between Vosgen of Big Bay and Katailea, daughter of Garron of Nerat, to take place on or before the first day of month four of turn 2724. Mere days away now. There's more details to follow, who receives what, what happens ifs. Her lips press together briefly before with a breath out she adds, "I appreciate it, F'yr," everything he's just said, "But I avoided it long enough. Its something I had to face myself and it's already done. I asked N'on and he took me to Big Bay two sevens ago. Skip to the end." The end where below the signatures of her father and Vosgen which cemented the deal is hers along with the man's again which at first glance might look as if she went through with it. Between the two sets of signatures however is one line of text, calling upon a single clause to deem the whole thing null and void with the stroke of her pen.

That letter. That letter that word of made F'yr lose his temper. That letter. That's probably why F'yr is frowning and why the look only grows. His arms come to cross his broad chest, shoulders rolling back and lips pressing together so hard while she speaks. When the paper is handed over, he hesitates, and then reaches for it. His movements have an edge to them, though not enough to call them sharp, just as tense as he reads over the document. He's probably giving himself a talk about how it's Katailea's life and she gets to make her own choices, but it doesn't stop him from biting out, "They don't own you. They don't live your life. You do. If you don't want to get married, don't get married." He didn't seem to miss that clause, but perhaps he hasn't read it closely. He shifts his stormy blue eyes away from her face to do so now.

"Don't look at me like that," comes out sharper than she meant it to, the words in reaction to his demeanor. It might be directed at the idea that's forming in his head as she speaks, but that doesn't mean it doesn't feel like it's directed at her. She's trying, trying to explain things that have been fighting in her head for months. When he finally takes the document Katailea holds her breath, whether or not she realizes it. Her first reaction to his words is to flinch at the tone of them. "I didn't," she shoots back, leaning across the table to reach for the document. "I found a way out following his rules. I might have been a defiant little brat," words she's clearly heard before, "my entire life but I always tried even if he refused to see me as anything other than a bargaining chip." Green eyes may threaten tears, but they haven't yet begun to fall. "I don't need judgement, F'yr. Not from you or Evi or anyone else. I get enough of that from them."

Blonde brows drop to make blue eyes squint in an expression of, 'What?' "I'm not judging you." F'yr's tone is confused, but the words are a correction of what was perceived. "If you do want to get married, then go get married." That comes with a frustrated gesture that tosses the idea as air out and away. "You have my support for whatever makes you happy, Katailea." That much is firm even if there's hints of exasperation in his face. "All I'm saying is that you. don't. owe. them. shit." Each word gets its own punctuated moment coming from his tongue. "Your father is an asshole," that's the Glorioth rubbing off on him, that blunt careless assessment, "and he is not entitled to you." The blonde leans forward, vehemence in his expression in the gravel that scrapes his normally smooth voice. Sitting back, sitting up, he lets some of that tension slip away, reaching to hand the document back. "I want you to be happy. I'm behind you, my friend, for whatever that is. If Evi is judging you, that's an Evi problem. It's not mine."

Katailea lifts a hand covering her face as forefinger touches one temple and thumb the other, "I'm sorry." After a moment it shifts bringing the two fingers together to pinch the bridge of her nose before finally falling away. She was jumping, anticipating what wasn't there. "I know," she agrees all to easily with his assessment of her father, a smirk creeping back to her lips. "Telling him that wasn't my brightest moment," but she did once upon a time. "But thank you." The document tucked safely back into her notebook. "There are so many times I wanted to say something, but it was always … complicated." There's that word again. So instead she kept it all bottled up. "I'm happy that we're still friends."

"I'm sure you were brilliant." Brilliant, here, meaning both amazing and smart. F'yr's response has no hesitation to it. Tell off that asshole, Katailea! F'yr supports you. In fact, the rest has the bronzerider shifting onto his feet and coming around the table to reach his hands down in request for her own. If he can, he'll pull her up onto her feet and into a hug. Hulking human beings do sometimes have a way of making a person feel a little safer, even if only for the moments of being ensconced in strong arms. It's not a long hug, but a reassuring one, if she's willing to have it. "Just tell me how I can help, when you want help and I'll do my best." Even if it meant taking her to some wedding she wanted. "What did end up happening with everything?" He does ask, looking down at her. He is supposed to try to ask, right?

There's a smile for that comment even though the reply that comes with it is "I'm positive it didn't feel like it then." When he begins to get up Katailea starts, expecting the need to go that's so often come from their encounters of late. When instead he reaches for her hands they're offered without hesitation, and she curls into that hug for however long it lasts. Hopefully there's some semblance of assurance in it for him as well. "Same," if he needs it she'll be there how she can. What happened? The question brings her pause, but an answer does come. "I asked N'on to take me, give me an hour. If I wasn't back by then he could leave. I was ready to go through with it if it came to that. But it was right there." In that one clause that could have been so easily missed. "There's no way I was ever supposed to see that. But enough about me. How are you?"

"Well, I'm glad it ended well," seems to be F'yr's final pronouncement on the matter of what happened. All's well that ends well? Katailea isn't entirely wrong about her expectations, even if the need to go comes a moment later as F'yr's look subtly changes and he makes a low grunt before looking back down to the blonde. "Glorioth's waking up. I need to get back to the homestead to oil him." Given the dragon's involvement, it's unlikely this is the kind of excuse that F'yr's been routinely given to head off, but he reaches to touch her shoulder briefly. There aren't any words, just a slight smile, before he's moving back around to quickly gather his papers and books into his messenger bag and head off with a tip of his chin in parting.

Kataliea nods, one simple, singular lift and fall of her chin to show her agreement. That excursion could have easily ended differently. A second nod, same as the first, follows the reasoning F'yr provides for his leaving to show her understanding. It had to come eventually, but this time is different than what it's been of late. A subtle smile, just as silent, meets his and as he takes his leave Katailea settles back into her chair. Opening her notebook again, one hand finds her shoulder as the other picks up her pen.

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