Hairdresser H'leri

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.

Even in winter, whose bite is not yet so fierce as to draw snow to Xanadu, the outer deck is a pleasant place to be at sunset, if one has properly prepared. The view is one of the best this Weyr can boast, perhaps to include the broad shouldered blonde leaning against the railing. His hair isn't so much grown too long as it's lacking in purposeful long growth - no one's seen fit to shape it the way it ought to look if it's going to be worn at this length. Then again, this is a man who wears a weyrling's knot on one sweatered shoulder. His clothes are remarkable only in that they're clearly serviceable hand-me-downs probably courtesy of the Weyr's stores and thus not the most flattering to the frame made to make him victim to virtually every call of, "Hey you," when lifting something heavy in the vicinity is required. At least the heather grey of the sweater and the camel-colored work trousers (with several pockets) are good colors on him, especially set off by a line of blue tunic peeking out at the neckline. This not quite evening, F'yr is not tasked with any such thing. By contrast, the leather bound book held carefully in his hands looks absurdly small and light, its cover looking like it's seen better days. It might be a little charred (it is), it might have a stain that looks like old blood (it is), but the young bronzerider does seem to be giving it at least half his earnest attention, while the other half of it flickers up to take in the sunset in its advancing stages.

Until very recently, moments ago kind of recently, H'leri was not here alone. There was a woman, not strictly speaking attractive and probably at least thirty years his senior, with whom he was having a light dinner. A lot of sparkling laughter. Neither face is local, but why shouldn't someone just nip off to a place they happen to like on the other side of the planet for dinner? Whoever she was, she must have her own transportation, though, as after they make their goodbyes, she departs and leaves H'leri sitting at the table alone. He is re-counting a pile of marks on the table, in her absence, before tucking them away.

For dinner, the boldly-floral shirt was sufficient; to head out to the deck to get a look at the review, he snags the black riding jacket from the back of his chair and drapes it over his shoulders rather than properly putting it on yet. There is an Ierne greenrider's knot attached to it, an afterthought.

He is firmly not going to interrupt a weyrling at his studies; he'll just hang about leaning on the railing, staring over it, occasionally looking straight down like some kind of madman. On the other hand, a weyrling who is taking a moment to look somewhere other than the book, this is fair game. "I sometimes expect views from high places to become pedestrian, now that I have access to the whole damn sky, but somehow a place like this still takes my breath away."

It's possible that the book was simply engaging the mind pleasantly while taking in the view, rather than being studiously read, as such. Either it's very boring or there's simply no narrative in the variety of book the weyrling holds. As he looks up that particular time, blue gaze lingering on the colors intensifying against clouds that enrich this particular bit of nature's artistry, his attention is drawn by that voice.

It says something about Xanadu that there's no obvious pause of reaction to the boldly-floral shirt or the shoulder-hugging jacket, which is not to say the ensemble goes without note as a brow drifts briefly higher. The book is closed, held between his hands, but not yet pocketed. "Music doesn't become dull just because you've heard the tune before, or another like it. Why should this?" F'yr's inquiry holds an innocent practicality to it. Each is as much art as the other, right?

"Having a dragon just means you get to take in more performances, get a better mental repertoire." There's something about the use of that last word that draws a smile to his face. It leads quite naturally into the one he offers H'leri. He should probably be saluting and offering all the formal greetings to a foreign rider or something, but instead he's asking, "Do you seek them out often? The places like this."

"Repertoire," H'leri repeats, sounding the syllables out like he's tasting them. "I do like spots like this. I am not actually the greatest fan of flying. The wind is murder." It would be less murder, H'leri, if you would actually wear proper flying leathers more regularly, but sometimes one suffers for fashion. "All of the grand scale, here, none of the feeling like the air is made of knives. I haven't come down to Xanadu very often. Funny, you know, how places still seem inconveniently far away just because they're on the wrong side of the map? H'leri," he offers, without offering a hand to suggest he expects the weyrling to actually get up. "Of the High Reaches until fairly recently. Expanding my repertoire, as it were."

There's a quality to the way that F'yr listens that might be unnerving to some. His whole attention goes to H'leri, all but that which must, by necessity, be kept aware of his lifemate lest the Weyr fall to ruin (no exaggeration) through his inattention. It means his blue gaze is intense on the greenrider as he speaks, taking in not just his words, but his tone of voice, his expression and subtle movements of body. It's a little weird, probably, but possibly flattering if one likes to have the attention if a bronzerider who could pose for the covers of those romance novels that have gained popularity since the Print Craft can print more books. Well, whether H'leri likes it or not, that's the level of F'yr's attention given.

"Flying isn't for everyone, even riders," the younger man allows with no judgment for one's personal preferences apparent, although he does look like the type to enjoy the wind through his own hair, except that it wouldn't because he also looks like the type to sensibly wear a helmet and goggles. "Inconveniently far if only because the visual is rarely used, I suppose, but being a weyrling I've been in a constant state of drilling all those new places to perfection and all that." He cants his head slightly, curiosity flitting across his face. He does, in fact, push off the railing and pocket that book of his to offer over his hand. "F'yr," yes, it does sound like 'fear', although not exactly - more F'ihr. "I'm glad you picked Xanadu tonight then. I've not gotten to spend much time in either of those places. Do you have a little time to share?" There's a pause before he adds, "I'd never been anywhere but Xanadu before we started betweening."

"F'yr," H'leri repeats without butchering that vowel, although it might be a bit uncertain. He takes the hand—his is a firmer handshake than one might have expected, that's for sure, but once it's over he's turning away to avoid having to actually look at someone who's looking at him that way. "Can you remember well enough if I just show you, or would you like to go visiting? I could take you all kinds of places." Now, that could be a come-on, if it just came with some lash-batting, but it doesn't, just a lingering look out at the world. "Of course, you have to be able to remember them afterwards."

"I think so." F'yr returns. It lacks an over-abundance of confidence that might be common to some bronzeriders, but there's a reasonable enough amount. "We spent more than a month assigned with the task of seeking out different riders to learn new visualizations. If your lifemate," a hand gestures to the jacket, "could pass the visual to my Glorioth," yes, that's his name, "I'll send it back to be sure we've got it." That's how they work that at Xanadu, apparently. Probably, it's some kind of standard practice? "I'm not opposed to visiting about, but I wouldn't wish to impose upon your free time. If you're going somewhere anyway, though, H'leri, and you don't mind the company, I'd be grateful for the opportunity." For some people, all those pretty words would add up to pretentiousness or ingenuity. With F'yr, there's just more of that sort of laughable simple earnestness.

"I'm only headed home after this, I suspect. You know, at least some of your fellows do seem to know how to get to Ierne. I met a V'ro at the market the other day." That's all. Perfectly normal meeting. "You ought to be getting together to share them around, it will save all of you a lot of time. That's what we did when I was a kid. But here, I can give you the important points in High Reaches and a bit of Telgar," says H'leri, distracted only in the way that F'yr must now be finding familiar enough: a dragonrider holding two conversations at once.

« Growr! » The thing is, the voice that finds Glorioth is not the voice of a wild beast. It is not even a real growl. It is a piercingly girlish soprano, pronouncing it like it's some kind of real word. With gusto, twining around whatever mental bit of him she's managed to seize hold of, effusive and aggressively… pink? Mostly shades of pink. « Pictures, meow. Blondie says I gotta give you pictures. » Rapid-fire succession, they come, missing a lot of very necessary details—vague memories picked out of his head, not deliberate imagery, although why even are those trees fuchsia? This is what happens when she helps fill in. Immediately on the heels of this: « Wait, Blondie says I gotta give you good pictures. » Those aren't as instantly forthcoming.

F'yr has a way of gently pressing his lips together. It's an expression of thought on him, while he finds the right words for what he wants to say. It's thus a beat before he says, "I admit I was thinking more of… local knowledge. For places like this, in those areas." F'yr gestures not to the cafe, but rather to the view it affords. "For broadening my repertoire." It's a polite clarification as these things go. "We've learned to between to High Reaches and Ierne. The images we've been practicing from individuals are more… their personal favorites." There is some measure of apology in the tone for however inadvertently misleading H'leri. "V'ro impressed with me." That very select sentence is offered in answer about the Xanadoan (Xanadian? Whatever) greenrider the Iernian one mentions by name. There's one more moment before he adds back to the first topic, "The visuals are helpful in getting to the particular places, but I'd be just as pleased if you'd tell me about them. Maybe rough directions. Glorioth likes to explore." It is, it would seem, more an invitation to conversation and less an invitation for instruction even after all this talk of visualizations. It may, in truth, be that F'yr was following the thread of the conversation and only realized he was at the wrong action point now.

Cue theme music. It's heroic. It's BOLD! It's incredibly off-key. But the most important thing is that it heralds Glorioth, in all his GLORIOUS GLORY. There's a spurt of flame, the scent of fire, of leather, of a musky je ne sais quoi that is oh-so-MAN- - dragonly, rather. THEN HE'S THERE. THE RADIANT, THE VALOROUS, THE LOUD, much too loud, GLORIOTH. « WHAT HO, BIZARRE BEASTY, » booms that too heroic voice. There's a clash of weaponry somewhere and the scent of blood. And then… the pictures. There's a pregnant silence, before, finally, « … I don't follow. » BUT NEVER YOU MIND. That was, by the way, also too loud, just slightly different in timbre. Glorioth is not concerned about being lost; in fact, he's not even bestirring himself to follow anymore just now. « HAVE YOU SEEN THE CLIFFS OF WHISPERED WORRIES, FOREIGN FEISTY? » At least he's gathered from his own rider that the dragon speaking to him is not one of Xanadu's… if he couldn't sense that already, which he really might not have been bothered to check because she's just not as interesting as he is.

"Now, see, if I told you all my favorite places," H'leri reasons, "then my favorite places would always be full of weyrlings. Or, well, you might not even care for them. I know a few very nice places where you can go to have someone fuss over you for a day, but I struggle to picture you getting a pedicure. What do you like? I might know some things if you give me a better idea what it is a F'yr likes to do with his spare time. You look like your chief hobby is lifting large rocks." Whereas H'leri… does not look like that, clearly.

There is a momentary retreat with a sound like a hiss- -but Norath stays gone for about ten seconds. Noisy, yes, but that's all the more to be curious about. A peek, a twirl of curious silver, and then evidently just acceptance that apparently this is just how a Glorioth is. « Seen lots of cliffs. » Another selection of half-formed perceptions with about the same level of artistry as a child's drawing in crayon. « I don't think cliffs worry about anything. I don't worry about anything, meow. Worrying about things is for people. Blondie. He worries about stuff. Oh, wait- -ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE SHOUTING? » Her version of this volume has more in common with the shriek of a dental drill than anything sweet and cute.

H'leri, brow now furrowing, seems to also be getting the full effect.

F'yr might not be getting any of the effect, or maybe he just went mentally deaf months and months ago. Either way, there's no pinch to his expression, no hint that any of the dragon sound effects are reaching him. There is a ghost of a smile on his lips. "Ahh, well, there is that," the blonde allows, a quiet humor evident in his eyes. "Rocks if that's what the occasion requires. Firestone, certainly." Something about that makes the edge of his smile twitch just a little wider, though his lips are still touched to one another. "I like books. Music." His blue eyes draw toward the sunset, "Natural places." He flicks his attention back to the greenrider and adds with a little shrug, "And learning what I like. My experience is somewhat limited, but expanding now." Now that he has access to the world via that dragon of his. "I don't think a pedicure would be my first choice for a day off. It sounds rather more than my meager purse can afford." Clearly, F'yr likes inexpensive new hobbies.

« WHAT GIVES YOU THAT IDEA? » This shouted response to the high pitched shrieking would be cleverness in other dragons. In dumb-as-rocks Glorioth, it's a real question. He hasn't even noticed her volume, not for the shrillness, nor the particularly mentally cringing quality of it… for probably most people, but not dragons whose brains are an impenetrable fortress, keeping out the negative right along with every bit of positive. « IF EVERY CLIFF WORRIED, THESE WOULD NOT BE SPECIAL ENOUGH TO WARRANT BEING PART OF MY NEVER-ENDING, NOBLE QUEST. » There's such an absurd level of certainty to his statement that though one may argue with it 'til they're lacking for breath or sanity, they're unlikely to budge that brutish brain one bit. « YET IT DOES NOT SURPRISE ME THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW THE CLIFFS OF WHISPERED WORRIES. THEY ARE SINGULAR AND UNIQUE. » Yes, singular and unique. Also probably nonexistent, but what Glorioth doesn't know can't hurt him, right?

"Books and music. You’re very unexpected.” H’leri offers him a grin for that. Self-aware. “More the fool, me, for being prone to assume. You might like it. Or a massage—not that those are cheap, either. What I have learned is that it’s a fool’s errand to try to keep yourself entertained endlessly with an empty purse. What you need, if you have some taste, is a way to bring in an extra mark here and there. Or a particularly generous friend.” H’leri? Offering to be the generous friend? “Or a friend for whom you could provide certain services in exchange for being invited along as company.” He pushes his fingers back through his hair; it doesn’t do much to change the way the waves are sitting just so. “As a guinea pig, for example.”

Norath, back to her normal tone, perhaps chastened but certainly not sounding so: « Mrrr. So—where are they? »

F'yr's shrug comes with a faint smile. "If you'd met me two turns sooner, you'd have been spot on." Perhaps it's completely true, or maybe the blonde bronzerider is just the sort to spare a person's feelings whenever they can be spared. "I came from a farm in the region. I can't say as we did a great deal with rocks there, but plenty of challenging labor that kept a mind without purpose for books. At least, my mind, though my mum did try." He admits the last with an abashed look that is tinged with an unspoken sadness. It might explain the clearing of his throat and grasping at that other topic as a happier opportunity. "I've been one for trying new things since I left home. I don't expect to change that now." Or be any smarter about which things but no need to go there, just this moment. He does have a game smile for the older blonde. "What kind of things are we talking about?" It's a fair question, even if the F'yrless idiot doesn't seem nearly worried enough about what might be asked of him. It doesn't sound like a generous benefactor is likely to be forthcoming in any immediately useful way.

THIS IS GLORIOTH'S NORMAL TONE SO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CHANGES, EXCEPT THAT HIS, « IF I KNEW ALREADY, IT WOULD NOT BE A WORTHY QUEST. AHAHAHAH HAHAHAHAH!! ONWaaaaaaAAAAAaaaaaAAAAaaaard!! » leads to blessed silence after that off-key, much too loud trill of his SIGNATURE WORD. Maybe he's gone? One can hope.

"Nothing you won't like," with a coy smile. But H'leri is quick to go on with, "You could let me play with your hair a bit. That's what I do, you understand. It wasn't what I always did. I was supposed to be a chemist. Still am a chemist, really, just without all the tedious bits. Shampoo, conditioner, styling creams and sprays. I promise not to do anything that will lead to anything worse than a bit of hair loss." Pause. "Not really. The basics are all very basic. People pay for nuance. Refinement. Very, very slight chance of needing to shave your head at any point." Not zero, but not worth paying any heed to, obviously.

"What you do?" There's an adorable look of cluelessness there. F'yr is trying, he really is. The rest seems to help. The confusion shifts to willing intrigue. "That sounds… fascinating." That's not normally the former farmer's word for this, but he was just holding his trusty dictionary, so perhaps thanks can be owed to that. He turns a little more toward the greenrider, giving him a longer look, his hair in particular. "I don't think I've ever used anything other than soapsand." Of course he hasn't. It's probably not even scented. There's another long moment and then a shrug. "I've never had much hair." Even now it's just shaggy past his ears. "But you're welcome to experiment on what I have." Note, here, that there is no discussion of what F'yr gets out of the deal. Why? Because F'yr is literally the worst haggler on the face of Pern.

"Long hair is a whole different thing to worry about, obviously. Needs to be treated right or it goes all split ends. But the styling part is trickier with short hair. So many men neglect it entirely, and the result is—" H'leri closes distance here, but mostly to get a look around the other side of F'yr's head. He's a professional, see, and also possibly reluctant to move in such a way that he'd have to either be chilly or put on his coat properly. "Tragic. It is, of course, up to you, but if you're more than a farm boy now, maybe you ought to look the part."

At least it can't be said that F'yr is always slow. As H'leri moves, it takes a beat but the bronzerider does catch on and obligingly lowers his head that the artiste may examine the canvas. "I used to have it cut shorter. Easy to take care of. Just…" the big man trails off briefly a touch of pallor to his cheeks as he straightens his head a moment later. "…stopped being important for a while there." He briefly presses his lips together. "There was a joke in the barracks, the candidate barracks, that I looked like the cover of some of the romance novels that were making the rounds." Really, with that physique and face… he probably does, although now his cheeks are taking on a very slight blush so maybe he's not all that keen with the comparison, even if it can't be helped.

"You don't enjoy the attention?" H'leri backs off by almost a full step here. That doesn't sound like feigned surprise. "I would, if I were in your shoes, and never have a second thought about it. Of course, when I was a weyrling, I was a teenager and I was all knees and elbows." He's still mostly knees and elbows. It's probably not the best idea to point it out. Now he's knees and elbows and great hair and bone structure; the latter might have taken awhile to show up.

One of the things a person who interacts with F'yr long enough will come to realize is that, unlike so many, he stops to think before he speaks, most of the time. It still doesn't always work out, but this time he probably isn't tasting feet as his lips part after a moment of pressed-together contemplation, "The people I find myself enjoying attention from most probably care the least for whether or not I look anything like the cover of a romance novel." Thank Faranth for those kind of people in F'yr's book. Now, if anyone were to poll the audience about how many of those people also enjoy that F'yr looks like a big, damned hero… well, the results might surprise the big blonde dupe. "You impressed young?" He inquires, checking that he's drawn that correct conclusion.

"Fifteen, which felt like nearly grown at the time, and now I think I was barely an infant. The sort of age where the only people you attract are the ones you definitely don't want. On the one hand, all the other idiot teenagers, and on the other…" Well, on the other, H'leri is not lingering on it, dismissing those long-passed days with a disgusted noise. "Firestone or not, I was never going to look like your romantic lead, so I had to put some effort into standing out. Everything else just fell into place after that." There definitely was not a decade of escalating drama involved.

The bronzerider's smile lifts his cheeks in prelude to a chuckle. "I do seem to recall fifteen has a way of seeming entirely grown. So much wiser and more worldly than fourteen, of course." The manages to clear his face of the smile to make the appropriately serious expression before grinning at H'leri. "One of our clutchmates impressed at twelve, and I think he still thinks of himself as very grown up, given his dragon and all. Maybe we need to feel that way, like we can take on the world," for a while. Until life throws some knee-capping event at a young person to make them look for an adult. There's a self-deprecating quality to the brief look of introspection F'yr wears before he looks back to H'leri. "I'm pretty sure I'm a poor judge of exterior impacts, but you've certainly made an impression on me." This could be flirtation… from anyone but the man who has no clue how to do it. "A good one, I mean." There's a little bit of a fumble to that, but that, too, has nothing to do with intended flirtation but rather just a belated realization that his words might have inadvertently been interpreted negatively. He is adorably naive to have the body that belongs on romance novel covers. It must be the sheltered upbringing or something.

The way H'leri turns away as he smiles, maybe he has taken that as more of a flirtation than he should have, but at least he doesn't respond by immediately upping the ante. "I'm glad it hasn't been a total waste of time and effort, then." Some people would have just said thank you, but it's basically the same thing, isn't it? "You should come see me some day when you're free. Ought to get a decent haircut at least once in your life, anyway, right?" See, he's just talking about haircuts. Really. "Kitten's apparently literally dying of boredom, so I believe I'm obligated to go rescue her. You know how it is."

If H'leri should've thanked the bronzerider for the unintentional possible flirtation, F'yr will be the last person to ever realize, which is probably for the best across the board. "H'leri from Ierne," the weyrling recites. "I'll do that." This has all been an opportunity to make a foreign friend with a whole fascinating set of life experiences farm-bred F'yr knows nothing of. It's fine. If it's anything other than a hairdresser getting a new client, how would the bronzerider begin to get a clue? "It's usually me rescuing the Weyr from his boredom not him from his own, in my case, but I do get the gist." There's a wry smile for that, but a slightly pained expression that means there's also too much truth there for comfort's sake. "Clear skies, H'leri. It was nice speaking with you. Thank you." It turns out one of them can have manners, even as the bronzerider reaches for the well-worn dictionary in his pocket and pulls it out once more.

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