Awkward Moment

Xanadu Weyr - Weyrleaders' Office

Office and retreat, this is the domain of Xanadu's Weyrleaders. The door is in the eastern wall, quite close to the southern end while the northern wall is dominated by big, expansive windows, framed by sumptuous deep blue drapes edged with a brilliant gold braid and tied back with a thick rope of braided gold and blue cord. In between, the eastern wall is covered floor to ceiling with shelves that house all sorts of records, manuals and supplies that are used on a day-to-day basis. The southern wall has the Weyrleader's desk — plain fellis wood, well polished and masculine. From behind his desk, the Weyrleader can look straight through the windows and out onto the main airspace of Xanadu. The western wall is where the Weyrwoman's desk resides: a lovely piece of furniture made of warm cherry wood. From her seat, a glance sideways gives her an equally good prospect out the window. There are a few other seats, some comfortably arranged around a low round table for small, informal meetings while there also some that can be drawn up to one of the desks.

On the south side of the door, the space is occupied by a low oblong table where refreshments can be set without someone needing to intrude. There is also an 'incoming' tray where incoming correspondence or similar items can be left.

It's lunchtime in Xanadu, the meal heavily attended in the caverns since the weather of this midwinter's day is foul with a damp chill made penetrating by a pervasive fog. With so many bodies clogging the tables, it's perhaps gone unnoticed that Xanadu's new Weyrwoman is not there to partake of the hot meal folks crave on such a day as this. Instead she is here, seated at the desk with a folder in front of her, deeply absorbed by the contents. Other than herself, the office is empty, for the time being anyway, of people asking for this and that.

Tap, tap, tap at the doorway, and N'shen swings in, leaning against the frame, hip cocked and arms folded as he studies the Weyrwoman thoughtfully. "You," he says, ever-deepening voice filled with some faint amusement, "look an awful lot like Niva right now, all serious and involved. Planning to waste away, Weyrwoman?" His green eyes sparkle with silent laughter as he lifts one hand, shaking a finger at her in rebuke.

It's the tap on the door that does it, has Thea rubbing fingers in her tired eyes and swallowing a sigh so she won't appear strained in front of whoever it is. Someone, probably herself in her haste back from somewhere, has left it ajar. "Come on in-" The forced smile instantly becomes a warm one when she looks up from that paperwork. "Hi yourself," she drawls with a nose-wrinkle for being compared to Niva. Genuine surprise colors her voice when she asks, "Is it noon already?" There's a half-guilty glance beyond him as if she's expecting the boy's father to be on his heels with a reprimand as well.

Alone, N'shen unfolds his long body and steps into the room. "It is," he confirms, "and past it, with lunch already begun and half gone already. Fortunately," and he leans back, unfolding one arm and gesturing to someone beyond the door, "I noticed you were absent." He slips in and snags a chair, dragging it beside her desk before plopping gracelessly into it. The drudge that enters at his gesture bears a heavy tray with enough food for three. "I wasn't sure if D'had was here, so I had them make up enough for all of us. I'll not see you neglect yourself and end up like your predecessor," he chides.

There's an 'oops' sort of expression on Thea's face that she would likely not allow to be there were it not N'shen, D'had or D'son. "What did they-" She breaks off with her question as the drudge enters, grins sheepishly at her son while closing that folder and setting it off to one side. She opens a drawer, sweeps several pens into it and shuts it. The drudge gets a bright smile and she patpats the now clean desktop indicating he can go ahead and set the tray there. "D'had's off," a hand flips vaguely towards the world at large, "Weyrseconding somewhere with the Weyrleader." And she's been too preoccupied likely to have Seryth check in with them, go figure. Mention of Niva has her wincing slightly, though she covers it with a cocky grin, "Yeah, well, I'm -way- younger than she is!" Because a difference of twenty-four turns somehow becomes hundreds in the minds of people in her age bracket.

"Youth means nothing to strain," N'shen replies, wrinkling his nose at her. "You can't solve all the Weyr's problems in a day, Weyrwoman. Relax." As the drudge sets the tray on the desk and fusses with the arrangement, the bronzerider leans forward, picking up a pitcher and sniffing at the contents. Nodding approvingly, he takes a glass and pours the warmed tea into it, offering it to Thea before taking one for himself. "I haven't seen you since the flight," and is there a hint of embarassment in his expression? Perhaps - after all, it can't be comfortable for him to remember lusting after his own step-mother. "Have you been well?" The drudge bows to the goldrider and scurries out, having completed his errand.

"I am relaxed," Thea just has to insist she is in spite of the very clear evidence against this. "The Weyrwoman was organized and efficient, but her paperwork is different than mine was. I'm still learning it." Both hands reach for that tea, fingers curving gratefully around cup rather than handle, absorbing its warmth. She's savoring the aroma rather than drinking it, so the sudden pinkening of her cheeks at the mention of the flight must be due to the steam, right? Her sip following the comment is a bit too hasty, the hot liquid scalds on the way down. After a pause, as if just realizing it is so, "Yes, yes I have been. D'had has taken this far better than I thought he would have." She tilts her head at him, curious now because Taozyuth didn't win and while that could bring complications on several levels, losing isn't easy either. "Have you been?"

"I've been fine. With the last class grown and yours yet on the way, Tao and I have been taking advantage of the quiet to redo our weyr." N'shen's lips curve in amusement as he settles back in his chair, sniffing thoughtfully at the steaming cup before he takes a cautious sip of the hot liquid. "It's been the way it was when we moved in almost three turns ago, and we figured it was time for a change." He gives the goldrider a bland look. "Natali's been very helpful in cleaning it up and deciding what kind of furnature and decor to use." Lifting his cup again, he smiles into the mouth, his expression sliding to neutral by the time he lowers it once more. "I'm glad D'had is dealing well with your… promotion."

Thea's lips quirk in a teasing grin, but her question is a mild, "Natalie, eh? Well, she's of trader stock, so I'm sure she'll know just where to find some nice things." No sense asking questions she doesn't want answered, so she doesn't go there. Instead, "Well then. With your free time I can perhaps finally get the two of you to join us for dinner soon." Her stomach growls into the silence while she's nodding about D'had, interrupting the keen look she's giving his neutrality and the question hanging on her lips is left unasked when she laughs. "Let's see what cook has done to counteract the cold." And that tray is given a study much too intent for a simple lunch to warrant.

Placing his mug to the side, N'shen sits up in his chair, scooting it closer as he rifles through the contents of the tray. "Looks like stew - oooh, herdbeast and tuber. Nummy. And here's a nice greens salad… roast wherry, none of which was available on the sideboards. I think the Weyr's cooks are sucking up to you. Not that it bothers me, as I get to reap the benefits." Snickering, the young man comes to his feet and begins to apportion the dishes, stacking Thea's plate high with foods designed not only to warm the body, but to increase energy levels. "Yes, Natali. She thinks she can use her contacts to get me some of the things I'm looking for. Some of it will have to be specially made, as I'm going for a theme from old Earth I found rooting around in some files at Landing."

"You don't have to serve-" Thea allows him do it anyway, although there's a mild growl about the cooks sucking up to her, "I'll have to put a stop to that. I'm still just me." She accepts her plate with a gracious, "Thank you" eyeing it with more than a little trepidation as she sets it in from of her. Will all that fit in her stomach? She's going to give it her best effort anyway. Her spoonful of stew is savored, and then another before swallowing so she can ask with interest, "Really? Will you be adding some of their technology too?"

"I don't have to do anything," N'shen replies quietly as he ensures that she starts eating, then dishes up his own plate - more full than her own, if one can credit it - before settling back in his chair again. "My pleasure to serve you, Weyrwoman," he murmurs impishly, taking a few bites of his salad as he mulls over her question. "I might. I don't know. The theme I picked - it's based on some culture called Oriental, or something - was very… low-key, technology wise. It seemed to be designed more to evoke peace and comfort from arrangement rather than, uhm… well, technology."

Warmly and with a visible shedding of her guilty mien, Thea relaxes finally. "Then it is my honor to be served." The food is good and she's giving it the attention it deserves, but N'shen's elaboration captivates her. "Peace and comfort," she echoes thoughtfully, and a touch wistfully. "I find electricity at odds with that; I miss my fireplace and oil lamps." The clink of cutlery fills the silence as she cuts her herdbeast into bite-sized pieces. Then, "I hope it works on children." And pops a forkful of meat into her mouth grinning impishly at him while chewing.

"I imagine someday I'll find out," Nash replies equiably, refusing to be baited as he eats his food. "The color scheme we're looking at is red and black, with golds, greens, creams, and so forth as accent. The furnature is oddly made - I'll have to have it comissioned, but it's not like I've had anything else to spend my marks on since graduating. Though I do need to find Natali a suitable turnday gift, as she recently turned eighteen." He waves is fork absently, dismissing that. "Still, Taozyuth is extremely interested in this renovation project of ours. He's very excited about the style."

Thea chuckles at that answer. When she's swallowed, "Undoubtedly. Until then, I'll be happy to send mine over to test out the effect. If it can settle those two down, it'll calm anyone." In that case, he may be seeing more of his father too. There's naught but a smiling nod regarding Natali's turnday - no teasing about older women. See? She's behaving, if only for today. Of his decorating she says easily, "It sounds unique and the colors sound pretty. I'd love to see it when it's finished. But tell me how's V'dim treating you and are you still happy working with him?"

"It's interesting, working with V'dim," N'shen replies around a biteful of stew. "He's gruff, but I can tell having me with him helps. He's getting older, you know, and he's not as up to dealing with some of the younger weyrlings as he was. I wish we had more riders willing to be assistant weyrlingmasters," the young man frets. "V'dim needs more than some half-trained child at his side." Sighing, he puts down his spoon, reaching out to take up a roll and tear it in half, laying strips of roast wherry on it. "You know I'll be happy to take the twins any time you and da- D'had need a break."

Little clunks mark the spearing of greens on Thea's fork while N'shen talks. A bit of puzzlement grows on her face at the fretting, but her mouth is full, so there's no answer until she's swallowed, wiped her mouth with her napkin. It's given her time to think, "More… younger riders, you mean? I guess Tay, Rayadian and R'iahn are quite a bit older than the new Weyrlings, aren't they?" She considers this while taking up her tea again, regards him over the rim as she sips. Lowering the mug, "By now I'd hardly think of you as half-trained, but you can use your, ah, inexperience to your advantage with them. Surely they're more comfortable with you, can relate to you." About his half-brother and sister there's a slow smile spreading across her mouth while her green eyes dance at him, "That would be at dawn when they crawl into bed with us to have their daily argument."

"Honestly, Thea, I saw little of V'dim's assistants last clutch," N'shen replies bluntly as he lifts his sandwich, taking a bite from it. There's a pause while he chews and swallows, then once his mouth is clear, "I did a lot of the teaching of the simple classes, under V'dim's guidance, while he took most of the more complex lessons. I don't mean to malign the others, but…" The bronzerider trails off, shrugging lean shoulders. "Like I said. I didn't see them as much as I should have. But then, maybe they were around when I was off on errands for V'dim. I just know that he's getting up there in turns." A pause, as he takes another forkful of greens. "If you want me to take them overnight sometime, once my weyr is done being renovated, I'd be happy to."

Thea looks disturbed by this bit of news. "I see," she says slowly, a slight frown forming on her lips as she sets her mug down, freeing her hands so she can rummage in one of her drawers. She withdraws a pen and a slip of paper, scribbles a note, pushes it to one side and reclaims her mug. Giving the young man a concerned look she notes carefully, "I'll ask D'son if G'ene had been made aware of it. I'm sure he'll be on that." About V'dim, she sniggers, "He was ancient when I was a Weyrling." As for the twins, she shrugs, telling him easily, "You're welcome to them anytime. They love being with you, just." And her look is mock-stern now, "I don't want you overworked with the Weyrlings. You need your time off to be with friends and family and go… do fun things."

"I have a duty," N'shen replies quietly, his eyes pointedly going to the very paper she had just been writing on. "I have no intention of overworking myself, but I'll not skirt my duties for the sake of a bit of fun." Spearing a green, he lifts it to his mouth, nibbling on it contemplatively. "I'm past age to be part of a wing," he points out. "I stay with V'dim because V'dim needs me, but I'm no child anymore." There's a brief flash of hurt in his eyes, quickly masked behind a cheeky grin. "Anyway, I have the next several weeks off until Seryth graces us with her next clutch. Plenty of time to spend with family and… friend."

"N'shen, I'm not suggesting you skip out on your duties," Thea leans towards him, at least as far as the desk will allow, reaching a hand for him, aiming to give his unbusy hand a reassuring squeeze. "You can be very sure your father and I are proud of you for that commitment, too. It'll be up to D'son to see that the work is more evenly divided. If we need new Assitant Weyrlingmasters, then so be it." Cheeky grin may mask the hurt in his eyes, but she can pick up nuances in tone. She'll emphatically agree with that. "Of course you aren't!" Leaning back, she tilts her head at his comment, "Would you like a rotation through the wings, get some more experience, see where you fit? I can mention it to the Weyrleader." Dark brows lift at that singular friend, but beyond the concerned press of lips, she doesn't comment.

N'shen hadn't meant to imply that he only had one friend - only that he only had one friend he would consider skipping work to see. "I think V'dim would best be served with some younger assistants," he murmurs tactfully. "And while I'd like to give the different wings a try, I can't in good conscience do so until I know V'dim is adequately assisted. He wanted me for a reason, and it wasn't just because he felt sorry for the wee bronzerider as didn't have a job 'cause he was too young, y'know?" He shrugs as he squeezes her hand back, then resumes his lunch. "It will all come in time. Who knows," he adds, with a sly grin, "in a few years, it may not matter." His eyes flicker pointedly to her shoulder, then back to her face. Ambition? Perhaps. Hard to be the son of a Weyrwoman and a Weyrsecond without it.

"Well, that'll be D'son's call," Thea says firmly about the Weyrlingmaster’s assistants. "I favor the traditional approach to Weyrleading. He commands the wings while I-" Her laugh is brief, but there's no bitterness to it, "-I am a glorified headwoman." There is frank approval on Thea's face for N'shen as she nods agreement with why he's helping V'dim. "I've only heard good things regarding your performance." Oh, she doesn't miss that sly grin knot-wards and it nearly has her choking on her sip of tea. It's a strangled sort of, "It may not." Awk-ward! Because, yes, the implications of that cannot be missed and it's hard to take the Holder out of the Weyrwoman.

Hey, Nash doesn't exactly want to sleep with his mother. He just wants the shiny knot that results from having done so. Somehow, it works out to be much better than it actually sounds. Smirking into his hastily raised cup of tea, the bronzerider regards Thea over the rim of his mug, taking a long sip of the cooling liquid. "That's a good approach to take," he agrees. "Less stress for both of you - Niva often thought she had to do it all. Then again," he adds, musingly, "she didn't always have the best Weyrleaders. At least yours is experienced." He acknowledges the good side of D'son winning, even if he does retain a bit of chagrin. "I'm glad V'dim is pleased with my work."

Thea's brain doesn't even want to go there and for now she'll pretend the possibility doesn't exist. Lalala. "R'sul was very good, D'son too. G'ene…" She leaves the man's name to hang dubiously while she shrugs. That is the sum total of Weyrleaders since she's been here in Xanadu. "D'son and I are likeminded," she says, clearly pleased with the outcome, at least where the Weyrleader is concerned. There's no comment about Niva. The closest she comes to it is a rather determined, "I just want… things with Xanadu and the rest of Pern to get better. I'm in a position now where that could become a reality." She's contemplative as she lifts her plate and places it absently on that tray, her mind obviously on that challenge.

"Well, we'll all help you make that happen," N'shen replies mildly as he finishes up the last of his lunch, wiping his stew bowl clean with another hunk of bread. "I'm very fond of D'son, he was very kind to me right after… I ended up in the dormatories." His face darkens briefly with the memory of being kicked out by his own mother, but a glance at Thea and it clears. "I hope that you and he can continue to work so well together." Gathering his dishes, he stands, moving to pile them on the tray along with whatever empties she has. "Speaking of work, I imagine your lunch time is over, so I should let you get to it. Promise me you'll remember to have dinner tonight?"

"I wouldn't expect anything else," Thea assures the young man confidently. Her eyes flash icy fire at the brief pause wherein the unmentioned greenrider's callus treatment is recalled, but her smile is quick to dispel it. "There's no reason why we wouldn't," she says in regards to D'son while helping return things to the tray. She gives the desk a swipe with her napkin to be sure it's clean, teasing the young man with a mock-doubtful, "Dinner… I don't know. With this lunch you brought me, I'll likely be too stuffed to eat for a week." Then she winks.

"You need your energy. I'll see you at dinner, then, Weyrwoman." N'shen plucks up the tray, balancing it in one hand as he bends down to press a kiss to her cheek. "Don't work too hard, I wouldn't want to have to send D'had in to drag you away from that desk - or the twins, to destroy everything in it." Green eyes twinkling mischeviously, he backs away, giving her one last wink and a nod before he skips through the open door, taking the tray of dirty dishes with him.

It's a cheeky, "Yes Sir!" and a smart salute that follows N'shen out the door, though likely someone will have to remind Thea that dinner's on once she gets back into the paperwork, for the half-dozen interruptions that come next hour will interrupt her train of thought. The ones to follow all afternoon may well leave her frazzled enough that she forgets.

Soft laughter drifts back down the hall as N'shen makes for the kitchens to return the burden of dirty dishes.

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