Xanadu Weyr - Council Chambers
Effort has obviously been spent on this room and the result is simple luxury. The elongated room, situated between the Weyrleaders' and Weyrsecond's office faces the clearing. Two large windows, flanked by heavy antique bronze jacquard drapes are shielded by ivory-colored sheers that allow a diffused light inside. Walls and the recessed ceiling are of polished granite that gleams a pale creamy-gold in the soft overhead lighting. Hanging in the space above the head and foot of the table are heavy frames with fine paintings in each, signed by the artist with a scrawl that begins with M. A potted palm in one corner adds a finishing touch.
Much of the tapestry-carpeted floor is occupied by a long, heavy table of Lemos hardwood, the dark stain polished to a brilliant shine, each place set with an elegant blotter made of leather, a fine pen and a pad of paper. The cushioned chairs are fashioned from the same dark hardwood, the backs and seats upholstered with softly-tanned leather. The room seats perhaps twenty or so, but can be used for more informal meetings as well.
Evening has come to Xanadu, the twilight deepens over the winter's landscape while the Weyrwoman walks from the coastal road having checked the weyrbarn next door to the one she used to live in and not finding the one whom the seeks. She's is fairly sure most of Quasar wing is within the Weyr, though why she hasn't simply had Seryth bespeak the bronze to find out where his rider is, well… it's because the queen is deeply asleep, curled in a tight ball with a dusting of snowflakes for her coverlet. She's been at it for hours. Growing impatient now, she enters the administration hall, checking the wingleaders' ready room first, then the archives and finally each empty office. Nothing. Her steps take her along the corridor finally to the council chambers where she pokes her head in. "Nash?"
What on Pern could a simple bronzerider like Nash be doing tucked into the Council Chambers? Sleeping, it seems. Tucked into one of the chairs, the young man has his sock-covered feet propped up upon the table, his chin tucked against his chest. The sound of soft snoring indicates that he's not simply deep in thought - though he's clearly not too deep asleep as Thea's inquiry causes his head to jerk up, a soft snort sounding as he cuts himself off mid-snore. "Oh, uh… Miss Thea." Sheepish, yes? He does it so well. Wide green eyes stare innocently at his step-mother as the bronzerider tries a sweet grin. "Hi."
Who could resist that charm? Certainly not Thea! She returns the smile, the corners of her pale eyes crinkling as she steps fully into the room and approaches the table. "I can think of more comfortable places to nap," she says with some amusement followed by, "You've missed dinner." What? She's a mother. And well, even though she is closer to the age of being his big sis, that is a carryover habit from when he was one of her favorite weyrbrats. She pulls out the chair next to him, sits and props an elbow on the table, regarding him steadily. "Taozyuth must be quite proud of his search choices," she says at length, her smile blossoming proudly for both the resulting impressions as well as her step-son's successful search. It cannot quite dispel the disquiet lurking in her clear green eyes, however, hard as she might try to push her cares aside for this moment.
"Not so comfortable, maybe, but this is probably one of th' least visited rooms in the Weyr," Nash replies sleepily as he reaches up to knuckle at his eyes. His feet slide from the table, thumping to the floor as he straightens up in his chair and tries to look halfway presentable. "Alishe has a touch of somethin' and she fretted all night. Had t' go somewhere to get a bit of shut-eye. Shame about dinner though," he muses, rubbing at his belly. "Probably manage to get somethin' out of the kitchens later." Deep green eyes turn on the Weyrwoman consideringly, one eyebrow tilting upwards as he studies her face. But all he says is a mild "He always knew they'd Impress. He was completely unsurprised."
Thea makes a sympathetic sound for N'shen in her throat and a concerned, "Alishe?" Details please! Yes babies will do that, but Alishe isn't just any baby. She's her very precious and treasured granddaughter! Her smile grows to a smirk at Taozyuth's self-assurance. "He's Seryth's son alright," she says, just as proud of the bronze as if she'd given birth to him herself. Let’s not think about that though! Instead, "Muir is ecstatic, from the look I glimpsed on his face at the hatching feast. Marel… is…" How to say? "Internalizing and assessing carefully." That eyebrow lift. She knows it well. She's never been able to hide things from N'shen and he knows well enough the rift between her and his father has been difficult, deeply regretted. "I need a Weyrleader, Nash," she says abruptly, all traces of pleasure fading from her face. "Again." A breath is let out and on the end of it a dark mutter, "I'm batting two for two lately with communication, it looks like." Well because - first D'had and now A'dmar.
"Just a bit of a belly flux, the healer said," soothes N'shen, lips quirking slightly at Thea's instant concern. "She's a bit constipated right now, and fussy with it. So I did the cowardly man thing and left Natali to deal with her. I'm certain," he adds wryly, "I'll pay for that later." Folding his hands in his lap, he swings the chair around to face her, stretching his long legs before him as he regards the Weyrwoman from calm green eyes. "Marel will pull through - but I'm not surprised she's having difficulty adjusting. For all her closeness with her twin, a dragon is a whole 'nother level. I need to swing by and see them soon - I haven't had a chance since the feast." When Thea finally blurts out her true purpose for tracking him down, he stares at her for a long moment, lips pursed, then frowns slightly. "I don't know much of A'dmar - I never really spent much time around the man, though… I've heard the rumors, of course. As bad as all that, then?"
Thea's chuckle is short-lived. Oh yes, she's knows how the man-thing works and the repercussions of that. Relieved over the fact her granddaughter has been seen by the healers, she sheds her concern. "Marel is an introspective one," she allows while nodding to the fact that, yes, impression throws a whole new dynamic into the close-knit twinpair. "I think they're finally allowed visitors," she says her face lighting up with momentary joy. The separation from them has indeed been difficult, necessary as the time for focusing on those new bonds is. "Yes," she says starkly of it being as bad as that. "I fired him." Her green eyes glint with ire. "He's gone back to Ierne. Had I known what he did to my Steward, I'd have had him brought before the Weyr council." Grim is she, adding tersely, "He'd doctored paperwork and flooded Jethaniel with bogus matters to inundate him with makework." Her snort tells him what she thinks of the Iernian when she says, "He blamed me for his behavior."
"You?" N'shen stares at Thea blankly. "A'dmar blamed you for /his/ behavior? Because… what, he's not responsible for himself?" Too self-sufficient for his own good from too young an age, the idea of blaming someone else for his own short-comings is alien to the young bronzerider. "I mean, I heard he's been involved in things elseWeyr that were a bit on the shady side - though, I mean… Iernian." Prejudiced, perhaps - but a fair enough assessment of many of the riders at the Weyrhold. "I didn't realize it had extended to Xanadu itself." Grimmacing down at his feet, the young man ponderously shakes his head. "I could wish, sometimes, that Taozyuth were faster in the air - or more aerobatic. I'm sorry it's been rough on you, Miss Thea - and I'm sorry I haven't really been around for you to lean on. I… I wasn't sure you'd want much to do with me, right now." He gestures vaguely - but the fact that he's D'had's son and no true blood of Thea's no doubt weighs on him with the rupture in their relationship.
It doesn't sit well with Thea either and it's evident in the deep frown she harbors, though she's honest enough to admit, "He says I didn't seem to respect him enough to discuss my choice of Steward with him first and it rankled his pride. Though why he withdrew into silence all those weeks…" Well, D'had has done the same thing, so maybe it's another one of those man-things, says her shrug. "It's for the best- " she begins to say of dismissing the Weyrleader only to lift her eyes from her hands to N'shen's, eyeing him sharply for his comment. Not the one of Taozyuth catching Seryth, no. That her mind will dance away from like the classic in-denial person unwilling to face the reality of what all that might possibly entail if he should. It's the one that goes with the vague gesture that grips her with remorse. "I'm sorry, Nash. I've been trying to work myself to oblivion; I haven't been avoiding you on purpose. I just… miss him so." The confession ends in a downdrift of eyes.
"Last I checked, the Weyrwoman is the voice of authority in the matter of internal Weyr matters. I would assume that also means the hiring and firing of Weyr staff." N'shen's voice is mild - his eyes are not. "I will never understand these people who feel the best way to handle not having everything their way is to sulk and scheme. It's so… childish." Shifting his shoulders uncomfortably, his gaze darts away from the Weyrwoman, just guiltily enough to suggest that A'dmar isn't the only person he's talking about - though, of course, he'd never admit to speaking ill of his own sire. "I didn't think you were avoiding me - I know how busy you can get. Truth is, I was avoiding you. I didn't want you to feel uncomfortable having me around. I mean, between this thing with… him… and me having Searched both twins. I know you weren't pleased with it," he adds gently, "though it worked out well in the end."
Thea smirks, and nods to that, "He's too much a businessman and not familiar with our ways." She'll nod agreement that pouting and refusal to communicate is childish and then her mind moves on to other matters. "You… oh, Nash. You needn't have. I'm not uncomfortable with you. I could never be." It was her panicked reaction to the Conclave brought on D'had's displeasure, after all. But Thea doesn't go there. Instead, she says with a smile, "Changes have of late, been… difficult ones. I think they will handle this well; they're great kids." And then she draws a deep breath, looking him earnestly in the eyes, "Actually, Nash… this is why I was looking for you." Her hand reaches into her pocket and pulls out a flat box, which she then offers to him. Her chin tilts in that unconscious gesture, no doubt familiar to him when she thinks she's warding off criticism. Not his, necessarily but perhaps that of… certain others. When he opens it, he'll find a Weyrleader's knot. Not the one A'dmar wore. A newly-arrived one, ordered from Ierne two sevens ago. The gold ornamental clip on the knot itself leaves no doubt who for. It reads, 'N'shen'.
Maybe he shouldn't be surprised. It was fairly clear once Thea started on about needing a Weyrleader what she had in mind. Perhaps it's his innate humility - or perhaps he's really that dense, but N'shen is caught off-guard as he opens the box and sees the knot, showing his open astonishment for a brief moment before he masks it behind a rather fragile impartiality. "Thea," he says slowly, in what may be the first time he's ever addressed her without an accompanying title, "why?" A deceptively simple question. "I have no experience - I've never even been a wingsecond." Those dark green eyes of his rise from the knot to meet hers, one eyebrow quirking upwards inquiringly as he prods at the knot with one long finger. "So… why?"
"Tradition be damned," says Thea, who rarely uses swearwords, though perhaps that's more to her would-be critics than for N'shen's ears. "A'dmar hadn't the experience either. You can learn. Quasar was a great start." Her tone is astringent and slightly tart, but mostly because of her mention of the now-fired Weyrleader. "Because," she says with a slight edge to her voice, again not aimed at him but to the backside of the departed Iernian, "you won't withdraw in stubborn silence if I veer off into something you don't like. You'll tell me. And you have tact and grace enough to deal skillfully with Xanadu's people rather than alienating them through mistreatment and arrogance." Of this she is very sure. Ice green meets dark green without wavering and she adds the primary reason, "Because I trust you to do what's right and what is best for Xanadu." Her tone then turns teasing, "I promise I won't fire you without warning you first?" Her grin following contains a twinkle of devilment in it.
"Nepotism, got it." N'shen's face is smooth, impassive - but his green eyes glint mischeviously as he pulls the box with the knot closer and lifts the bundle of cords from it, running them through his fingers. "The wheels that make Pern turn." It's true, after all, even if it's not exactly the case here. "You're Weyrwoman," he adds, more seriously, as he watches her while his fingers play with the knot, "and I respect what that means - but if this is what you want," and he hefts the cords in her direction, "then you should know I won't be a silent partner, nor am I willing to be Weyrleader in name only." Briefly - so briefly - the towering ambition the bronzerider harbors glints through in his gaze, before his humor reasserts itself. "Still, you're the boss, and I know that." But if she's looking for someone easily controlled - no, he's not it. And he makes that clear, even as he offers her an easy grin. "And I have a lot to learn." A tacit admission, perhaps, that she'll be his teacher as well as his partner, and that he knows he's not ready.
Thea snorts at nepotism. "Hardly." They're not technically related after all. "I know you," she explains simply. Will that suffice for her critics when it comes to breaking with tradition? That remains to be seen. "I'd rather you didn't," she says forthrightly of being a silent partner. No, she had that with A'dmar! "I have my hands full managing the Weyr. I couldn't possibly run the wings as well." But then her high regard for him is made quite clear when she confesses, "Nash, sometimes… it all get a bit heavy." Meaning the responsibility, of course. Power, so not her thing. Or maybe it is, if one believes that the dragons always know best and a gold one chose her. Still, it wears on her; he knows that. Trying not to seem frayed about the edges, nevertheless she can't hide the fact that things have been very difficult for her of late. "I just want… the best for Xanadu, that's all. And if we can work outside of the traditional areas of responsibility, it might be a good thing." She’s inviting his input into her domain of responsibility, indeed. And Seryth? It's a very good thing she's sleeping so deeply, if the serene queen would even take her allowance for Yarovith winning her last flight as subtle criticism from Thea's comment.
"It should be an interesting learning experience, for both of us," is Nash's mild comment, as he strokes the knot before laying it back on the box, his eyes still locked on the Weyrwoman. "I've watched you for turns, you know," he remarks conversationally as he leans back in his chair again - though not before pulling the box closer. "I've watched you since you became Weyrwoman, and I've seen the strain it's been. I'll do my best to… alleviate… some of that," and his brow wrinkles, as if he's not quite certain that's the correct word. Still, his vocabulary has come a long way from when he was a child. "And I'll help as you need, as you want - but I won't run ramshackle over you, as I know you won't do to me. I think we'll work well together, and not just," he adds with a sudden flash of that charming smile, "because you're my mother."
"It will be." An interesting learning experience indeed! Thea actually winces when he mentions alleviating the strain. It hurts, this need to lay of the weight of responsibility onto him. And yet… who better? And treating N'shen like a child, protectively shielding him from strain, will do him no favors. She knows this at a deeper level. Squelching her wish to do just that, she draws a deep breath, "I know you won't, Nash. You have integrity and humility in spades." And before she gets all emo on him she rises and places Xanadu's third master key on the table in front of him. Aside from the headwoman and Steward, he's the only other to be entrusted with one. "Your desk awaits," she says before her throat closes. Eyes shining with both pride and emotion held firmly in check, she salutes him, spins on a heel and heads out almost at a run.
He wouldn't thank her for it. N'shen has never shied away from his share of any burden, and he certainly won't start now. "I'll do my best," he promises, face solemn even as his eyes dance. As she places the key down, he reaches out to touch it with one long finger, only the faintest tremor betraying his deep-seated pleasure at the opportunity awaiting him. The bronzerider opens his mouth, but whatever he was about to say is lost in the speed of her departure, and he blinks after the Weyrwoman, struggling to regain his mental balance. It's minutes he stands there staring at the empty doorway before he tears his gaze away and lets it fall to the desk, where knot and key await him. And his smile blooms.