Starry, Starry, Night

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 ambience.

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.

It's a note from a blue firelizard dropped off and abandoned, dictating time and place. It's from Valerian, inviting Ricki to dinner at the cafe atop a treetop an hour after sunset. Sure, its a little chilly, so he suggest bundling up. Why? There is supposed to be a meteor shower again this evening and why not share it? Sure enough, a table with the best view is taken up by the starcraft apprentice, lifting an arm and wildly waving at his fellow candidate the second that she appears. Of course, ever toothy, ever wide grin in place.

A found note, and Ricki is careful to follow all the directions, including it seems piling on the layers, for it is a rather round candidate that trundles into the cafe, the pockets of her coat stuffed it seems with various additional warm things to wear. The waving motion catches her attention, and she is heading that direction, grinning widely. "Best seat in the house and everything!" She offers and settles down next to him, even as the contents of her pockets are dropped next to her.

Valerian is laughing, he really is, because the roundness that is Ricki is adorable. At least its a quiet and amused sort of laughter rather than mocking, fading off as she settles into a seat beside him, but his shoulders continue to quietly bob as she unloads her pockets. "It's not that cold, is it?" he asks, looking between candidate and rapidly growing pile of warm things, brows lifting. However, at mention of the view, that grin turns dangerously pointy as he eagerly bobs his head in an affirmative. "Not many people like eating outside this close to winter and its an off day, so I snagged it while the getting was good."

"You can -always- take layers off, if you get too warm, but if you don't have them, what happens when you get cold?" Ricki seems completely unbothered by the laugher - her logic totally makes sense! "Besides, I always get cold, just.. sitting. I probably could get cold in the Hatching Arena." Ok, now that might be a stretch. A stretchy knit hat is offered to him with a grin, even as she is glancing at the table. "Have you gotten anything to eat, yet?"

Blinking, the starcrafter opens his mouth, closes it, and then laughs. "Y'know, I can't fight the logic in that." It was all too true. So as Ricki goes on to further explain, he listens, unable to resist eyeballing her a bit when she said that she could get cold on the hatching sands. "Well…" he won't argue with her, because she knew her body better than anyone else did. The hat is taken and pulled down over his head and ears, snuggling in to his jacket and things and can't help but look thoroughly contented. Dat was NICE. "Hmm? No. I was waiting for you. I'm actually surprised more people weren't interested in being up here…" As if summoned, the first streak hurls itself across the sky, but goes unnoticed by Valerian as he was busy flagging down a server. "You ever eaten here before?" he asks Ricki, taking the menus offered and handing one off.

"See, this is why you keep me around." She offers with a smirk as he settles the hat on his head, whatever else she was going to say cut off by the first of what is hopefully many streaks of light. "Nah, ma and dad would come here for special things, but not with us. When we were ~older~, and well, now we are and.." Shrug. Ricki stops talking to look over the menu, though she is carefully peeking over the top, keeping a portion of her attention on the sky, not willing to miss any meteors.

Again, Valerian laughs. "Yes, entirely the only reason." It had nothing to do with the fact he was very comfortable about Ricki or that he had grown platonically very fond of her. It was the hats she carried in her pockets. A cast of grey eyes upwards, but upon seeing nothing that he wasn't used to being there night after night, his gaze only lingers a little longer than it should and he begins to peruse the menu, "When you were older…what?" he asks, only half paying attention even though he was entirely listening. It was the little nuances that he was missing that she had cut her self off intentionally or no, finding something he would like to try rather quickly and so his attention returns to the woman at his side. Above his head, two more streaks out of his line of sight, brows lifting. "See anything you like?"

"That they'd bring us when we were older, but now Cara's a rider and Saria basically has her own ~family~ thing, and I'm a candidate, and the first time I am here is with you." She offers all in a rush, blushing a little at the explanation, shaking her head and glancing at the menu. "Oh, it all looks good, really. I think maybe the roast, though.. Something nice and warm, you know?" She tilts her head. "What about you?" And her eyes wander even as she asks, perhaps a bit rudely.
Ahing in understanding as it is all explained, Valerian for once isn't the kind of guy who points out another's embarrassment. Normally? You betcha. Whatever the reason for his sudden blindness is obscured in all of the mystery of this beautiful starry night. "Well…" he says, shifting a bit in his chair and clearing his throat, "I'll try to make it special somehow…" Because that didn't sound awkward or uncomfortable at all, and maybe it had something to do with the fact that was a special place with special attachment for Ricki and Vale had only picked it for the view. High up, easy to get to, no worries about trying to drag the poor woman up to the starstones like he had originally planned. However, with the topic shifted towards food, the starcrafter seems to relax entirely and he laughs. "I was thinking the same thing, with the roasted seasonal vegetables and steamed minitubers?" Because that sounded delightful, entirely. A blink blink for the eye wandering and his gaze follows hers, just in time for a few more brilliant streaks to race by where he wasn't currently looking. "What? Did you see something already?"
"And a mulled wine, if you won't tell either." Ricki offers in an almost conspiratorial whisper - the plus side to layers and coats means that the annoying white knot is hidden from view. As he offers to make it special, she laughs softly, shaking her head. "I am pretty sure it is special, just because its more than just for food." A gloved hand it motioned at the sky. "Maybe, it was out of the corner of my eye.." She offers, frowning just a little, this time her eyes lingering on the sky. "I don't know where to look."

"Ricki!" Valerian feigns surprise at such a scandalous suggestion even as he slowly nods his head, because what are rules? It was surely going to be soon that the eggs would rock and then some might be taken away by dragons and others left empty handed. It was so random and unpredictable and the pressure to Impress was alarmingly high. Luckily his own candidate knot was tucked out of view and so when the server comes back for their orders she is more than happy to put in for two slabs of roast with the same fixings as well as two small glasses of mulled wine. Life was for living right? Though, on specialness, the starcrafter's brows furrow and then he relaxes all over again as she points skywards. Yes, of course. His wolfish grin was back in its rightful place as he glances up to where she was gesturing. "Right above us I would think, then again…I don't know if…" And there it was, streak after streak after glorious streak across the night sky and Valerian is enraptured. A soft gasp catches on his parted lips, wonder washing over his expression until someone far younger sat in his place. This was what got his heart pumping, this was made him excited and glad to be alive.

"Technically its fine as long as we don't get -drunk-." Always arguing the technicalities, it seems for Ricki just smiles at the server returns with the mulled wine, offering a cheerful thank you, fingers curling around the drink gratefully. And then, she is turning her gaze skywards, following suggestion, and this time, there is no doubt as she sees one, then another. "Wow, Vale.." She murmurs softly, wiggling down in her chair and biting her lip as she watches. "Thank you, by the way."
There is a side-eye to that 'technically' thrown in there but he wasn't about to argue the point. She was more likely to be caught than he was by the weyrlingmasters, because he wasn't expected back in the next hour or so. He had all night to walk it off, or whatever it was that people tipsy did. Though Valerian misses the arrival of their drinks in favor of such a display as the one above. There had to be dozens of streaks, one after the other, a brilliant and marvallous display if ever there was one. "Hmm?" he asks, not of her exclamation but rather for the thanks, "For what?" He sounded miles away, so the question remains that even if Ricki answered him would he really hear it. Possible, he had heard her gratitude.

"The invitation.." Ricki offers softly after a moment, slowly sipping at her drink as she keeps her eyes glued on the sky. Keeping her fingers curled for warmth, she spares a glance across at him, watching for a moment before eyes dart back upwards. "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone else." There is a soft teasing in her voice, though, and she smirks, before quieting to enjoy it as they wait for dinner.

Even with the meteor shower above, it doesn't deter Valerian from dropping his gaze downwards, albeit briefly. "Oh yeah, sure. No problem." Then, he's back to watching the display of racing light. "Hmm? Tell anyone what?" Distracted again, and this time he's lost. He doesn't even realize their server had returned with the food they had ordered either, and she's 'polite' enough to leave it and wander off rather than disturb the two stargazers. Though the scent of food does make his stomach growl and brings him back down to Pern, sliding all of his attention to the plate steaming and delicious right there in front of him. "How long has…" A glance towards the back of their server tells him not long, and there is temptation in ignoring his meal and returning to the meteor shower instead. It was winding down though, becomes less a constant.

"Nevermind." Ricki offers softly, letting the subject drop - feeling no need to explain her statement apparently. As the food is left, her attention is stolen and she is glancing towards it.. and then finally letting go of her warm drink to reach for a fork, though her eyes still shift upwards now and again. Fork hovering for a moment, she nudge at her food before she is starting to dig in, first bite taken before there is an appreciative murmur from her. "Shards, now I really can't believe I never got to come here before."

The only indication that Valerian even heard that swept aside response to his inquiry is a twitch at one of his brows, but he was a little busy filling his eyeballs with wonderment. That's all done now that there was food and with the aerial display coming to a close, food draws his attention away. "Is it that good?" he asks, now eager to start in himself considering that response and after the first bite he understands everything. "Faranth…" he exhales, trying not to drool out one side of his mouth as he chews slow and contentedly. Just from the quality and the flavor, this friend date was probably going to cost him, and right now he really didn't care as his eyes roll closed and he just enjoys every mastication of his jaw. Once his mouth was clear, he breathes out and looks again at the contents, taking it all in visually. It was going to be a very long time before he was going to be able to enjoy something this good again, he might as well appreciate it. "The meat is so tender…" And then he's cutting off another piece and shoving it past his lips. No more stolen glances towards the sky, one meteor shower was as good as the last, but this meal might just be once in a lifetime.

What is the line - Can't talk, eating? Ricki plays the careful game between 'eat it as quickly as possible' and 'savor every single bite' - the roast slowly pulled apart, interspersed between bites of tubers and vegetables, and the plate becomes more and more empty. A quiet meal, and before she knows it, plate and glass are empty, and she is leaning back in her seat once more. "Shards, I don't know if I could think of a better evening."

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