Of Babies Sans Bubbling
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Xanadu Weyr - Store Room

The storerooms here are carved into the stone, stretching back deep underground. There is, after all, little need for natural light here; a series of electric lights are more than sufficient to illuminate smoothly cut walls and the assortment of supplies kept until they are needed once more.
For some of the things here, that time will be long in coming. Broken furniture and torn clothing awaits the opportunity for someone to repair it - or else the kindling and rag piles. Other items are more immediately useful; gently worn clothing and boots are neatly arranged in rows and on racks, especially in the quickly outgrown children's sizes, and an assortment of furniture and small appliances in functional condition await new homes.
A series of side rooms connected to the kitchen are the larder which feeds the Weyr through the winter. Sacks of grain lean against barrels of salted meat and wheels of hard cheeses stacked high. Refrigeration and dragonflight make for a more flexible winter diet, but it still takes a great deal of food to provide for this many people. The food is a tempting target for tunnelsnakes, and the occasional scuttle can be heard in the otherwise quiet depths of these caves.
Much of the stores are easily accessed, requiring only the appropriate permissions to be borrowed from. These supplies are, after all, here for the good of the Weyr and the people living here. A few rooms - those containing particularly valuable or dangerous items - are kept locked.


Spring has sprung - mostly - though the weather's still on the cold side. There's at least enough warmth to convince people that summery days are coming, which has meant more traffic in the stores as people look for new-to-them beach attire. Soriana's here too, and she's looking at… blankets? This may not be a seasonably appropriate choice. Then again, maybe she's looking at them more for their decorative properties, since at the moment she seems to be looking at some rather small ones. Throws, for the back of her couch! …or… uh… ones that could go in something like… a crib… say. Maybe. Hypothetically. It could possibly have something to do with the way her belly seems to have developed a certain curvature, one that can no longer be hidden by loose sweaters. Spring has sprung, and so it's too warm to wear that much padding! …unfortunately.

Slushy days, with the leftover, frozen rock-hard snow melting reluctantly, nights cold enough to refreeze it and the thawing mud, but buds are just beginning to form on bare branches! Skies aren't as overcast and there hasn't been any more snow, so it's possible, just possible that people will believe that Spring is indeed here. Nevermind that the weather is still cool, Darsce prowls the dark recesses of the store room, emerging into the more lighted areas, the blanket aisle to be precise, with a wet cloth pressed to her forehead (which would tend to impede her vision somewhat) and says by way of greeting, "It's shardin' hot why on Pern do you need a blanket?" And then of course, she moves it to sponge the back of her neck and in so doing recognizes who is there. "Oh it's you." Blink. Soriana. With a belleh. "Hi." She's staring. And speechless. You'd think she 1) hasn't seen Soriana in awhile or 2) hasn't ever seen a pregnant person before. In the weeks after her little head-bump, it's likely she's seen little of the goldrider - or more likely she's paid little attention when passing in the hall except to mumble 'Hey there' while sucking down her 16th mug of klah. "You're…" The iceblue eyes are still on that tummy-curve and rather than bubbling, she looks mildly horrified. Hello Soriana, meet Darsce, the person no one will ever accuse of being overly-delicate.

The Darsce that lurks in darkness! The headwoman from the shadows who… uh… arrives. Soriana's occupied with peeling aside one blanket to look at the one beneath it - which she's apparently just as unsatisfied with - so it's Darsce who gets the first word in. Soriana frowns as she lets the blanket drop. There's almost a guilty thing to her posture. Because, well. She was looking. At those things. Actually touching them. Handling them. The coos of generations of mothers might rub off on her, having slumbered dormant in the baby things! So she turns to Darsce, her hands going behind her back from instincts… not yet entirely forgotten. "A trip between?" she suggests. It's not quite lying. It's just making a suggestion that could, entirely plausibly, be true. The fact that it's not actually true is completely irrelevant, because it could be. Because Soriana is innocent! …of whatever it is that… uhhh… wait. She's a junior weyrwoman and… is not supposed to be slinking around like she doesn't belong here. She can perfectly well go and look at all the baby things she wants! …now she just needs to want? But… her frown tugs sideways into an awkward sort of expression. "…yeah." It's her. "Hi." Now they've had their greetings! It's about as much conversation as they've had, these past few weeks. And… Darsce is staring. She's not the first. She certainly won't be the last. Soriana shifts her position, moving arms forward again. It at least makes the protusion a teeny tiny bit less obvious. She doesn't try to hide it with her hands. She's tempted, but she knows that doesn't work. "Yeah. I am." That which must not be named.

Whatever the headwoman is doing in here, she has little to show for it. Certainly no bathing suit - or bikini. Under one arm is a small carton with an assortment of jars and plastic-wrapped boxes. She might be stocking the shelves? Or not, because it's more likely that someone would have been given the box and told to do it. Delegation is key! There's a tug of cynical skepticism on the glossed lips of Darsce for the Between comment. It's an almost-smile as she says, "I think you missed the part where you actually…jump…through there." Soriana's discomfort is matched by her own unease as she stops staring when her supposition is confirmed. And it's impossible not to miss that the other woman isn't beaming over her admission, so her expression slides into something more…understanding. "I guess…the…klah…" Hm. Perhaps that's not the best way to phrase condolence. So instead she twists her mouth, thinks and offers Soriana a cautiously optimistic, "They say it's not…as bad as people think."

…the quick trip between that… Soriana's lips tug to the side in a rueful expression. If only! Things would be far simpler. …and Ka'el would be sad, but… only if he knew. As it is… Soriana gives a small tug to her shirt, glancing to Darsce's box briefly before looking back up to the headwoman. Hi, yes, she's host to a rapidly-growing thing that will soon transform into a baby! As parasites go, it's one of the more socially acceptable forms? Darsce mentions the klah, and Soriana sighs. "Shards, the klah's just the start of it!" …because, of course, she's assuming the headwoman's talking about all the restrictions the healers have for pregnant women. Or the fact that Soriana's not been making her personal dent in the klahpot delivered to the juniors - not that there's much reason to notice, really. It still vanishes promptly! Just… not to Soriana's mug. There's an arch of the junior's brows for Darsce's optimism. "Which they is this?" She doesn't sound annoyed so much as dubious. Because seriously, people say a lot of things when it comes to babies and… future babies. After a moment, Soriana relents… slightly. "It could be worse."

Quick yes, simple no, that sort of jump. Darsce's not applying that sort of decision to herself, mind, more like thinking that Soriana would be in one of the private alcoves the healers reserve for such times writhing in pain on a cot rather than standing here chit-chatting with her. The klah is…just the start of things? And see, Darsce isn't thinking about restrictions because, well. She's never thought of them. Her eyes widen, "Shit. There's other things?" Mind not the increased breathing or the sudden tension in the headwoman. Her arm drops, lowering the wet cloth from the back of her neck, left to dangle from fingers, forgotten at her side. "Well," her expression is wry, her tone semi-dry, "certainly not the friends I ran with back in Ierne." When she…was a teenager. "The cackling aunties who try to reassure the first-time expectant mothers-to-be, that's who." There is humor there, somewhere, in actually wanting to believe those women. And yet her tone is hopeful, "I mean, you can still…do things, right?" Like have any kind of a life?

Soriana would prefer not to think of restrictions? Unfortunately, she keeps being reminded of them whether she wants to or not. That eye-widening reaction from Darsce is… yeah, that's about how Soriana felt when the healers informed her of the list. She didn't actually swear at them, but it was a near thing. "I've probably forgotten half of it, and it's still… ugh." So many things she's not supposed to do. So many things she is! "The cackling aunties," she says dryly, "would be in favor of jumping off cliffs if they figured out how to get babies from it." Note: jumping off cliffs does not actually produce babies. "Broken bones and all." Soriana shakes her head, then sighs. "It's… probably not as bad as your Ierne friends said?" Because sometimes everyone is wrong. "I can do things. I still go flying with Luraoth." Just not between. "I can do… mostly the same stuff as before."

Restrictions is…one way to think of it. Though the most obvious one isn't something Darsce is willing to consider. Because just sleeping instead is…no. "Forgot- butbut! You can't tell me what else besides klah?" It's almost a wail. The cloth hand then lifts to ward off the suggestion she's sure is coming, "And, no, I'm not going to ask the healers. Just. No." Regarding the aunties, her smirk looks a little worn, "They already know how to make babies." It's in not making them that they cackle about, apparently. "Probably," she says a little too quickly about her Ierne friends, nodding encouragement (For Soriana? For herself?). It's not so bad! Mostly, Soriana says and Darsce Does Not Ask. Not the one thing she… nope. That might be too personal. And she doesn't want to know what the Weyrleader does and does not- Augh! She needs to turn her thoughts elsewhere and so she considers Soriana somberly. "So…a baby." Gulp? "Do you… need anything?" In her capacity as headwoman there are services she can provide, will offer later. But that's not what she means right now and she clarifies it a moment later, "To help make you comfortable, ease your day? A more comfortable chair in your office? Better mattress? A maid?"

There's a trace of puzzlement on Soriana's face as Darsce insists she must! know! these restrictions. A flick down of her gaze, and then a return to Darsce-eye level just in time to… "Ugh, the healers." Soriana has been going to her appointments! She's been a good prenatal patient, and she's so very tired of hearing from them. "Most of it's stuff about getting rest and good diet." Which doesn't seem that applicable, does it? Besides, whatever it is she knows, evidently it didn't work to keep babies averted! So says her belly. Soriana - like the aunties - now knows at least one way to make babies. There might be others, but this one is (will be) hers. And it won't be nearly so bad as Darsce's Ierne friends said! Soriana's all too willing to nod along to that without even knowing what it was they claimed. Whatever they said, it was bad. This is… uh… not bad? She's still struggling with 'good', but it's fairly convincingly arrived at Not Utterly Awful. "Yeah." Soriana says. One hand steals up without quite thinking about it, and rests along the curve of her belly just under the… equator. Her stomach has an equator now. It's weird. She hmms to Darsce's suggestions. "I already have a cushion on my chair." Because Ka'el went and found it for her. He probably sneaks in at night and fluffs it, too. "I'm doing okay with stuff so far…" Just wait until she gets to the third trimester and 'picking things up off the floor' becomes a voyage of discovery and danger. She may be back and asking for that maid! "I'll…" Okay, no, not going to think about needing babystuff. Because she doesn't have to keep it, right? So maybe she doesn't need any babystuff at all! She can just pretend it doesn't exist, in increasingly ill-fitting shirts, and… Soriana makes a face. Maybe she should actually admit this to the world. "…do you know where to find clothes that… would fit better?"

Dragons make babies too, sometimes. Babies who turn up on your doorstep turns after they're born claiming parentage and causing upheaval for everyone. It's Darsce's turn to be puzzled, not that she's letting it show. 'Rest'? She's been getting plenty of that the past few sevens, starting with a twenty-four-plus hour stint of unconsciousness. It's at 'good diet' that she realizes they're having two entirely different conversations. Gre-aaat! She takes a deep breath and adopts a causal air. Klah it is! She refocuses her attention on Soriana's plight. Because plight it is in her mind - not that babies are bad, but your life is over! when they arrive - or so her friends say. She nods when Soriana says she's okay, accepting that easily enough. "Your skin looks great," she says thoughtfully, tilting her head to consider the glowing aura that is Sorimama's complexion. Baby stuff. Babies need stuff?! Darsce has no idea! She's never paid attention to things like that before and so there's no bubbly-enthusiastic attempt to load her down with half the store room in preparation. She dealt with the moms who needed massages, pampering and escape from their brats- er baby-moments. Her clientele included ladies who wanted maternity clothes. Soriana's question, therefore has her turning more professional and upbeat. "Ierne's shops," Darsce says promptly, though the headwoman in her flicks an eye towards the shelves where the clothing is stored. "Though the Weyr has plenty of used maternity wear." After all the babies they churn out, they should! Buuuut… "Some of the colors and frilly designs-" Her iceblue eyes now appraise Soriana's….equator. "-I don't think I've ever seen you in frilly- are awful. And a weyrwoman of Xanadu should have clothing appropriate for her rank."

Dragons make the sort of babies in shells, too - which cause upheavals of their own. At least those pick their bondmates at hatching time instead of showing up on doorsteps turns later. The compliment to Soriana's skin gets a wry twist of her lips. "Thanks?" She's, uh, not going to recommend it to all her friends as a way to improve their complexions. Probably not even if they ask. But hey, at least she can get some clothes that go with it at… Ierne. Soriana sighs. "Figures." Her hand gives a tug to her shirt, then falls away. But hey, there's another option. Used clothes! Which… she makes a bit of a face for the frilly. Yeahno, not her thing. "I'll find something," she says with a vague wave of a hand. Probably send Ka'el to go looking, or else just keep wearing oversized shirts and pretending everything is fine. Because denial is in this spring.

Pregnancy glow! It's beauty that's not just skin-deep at least, even if it is temporary? Knowing there is that no-betweening thing - one of the restrictions the headwoman hears not-so-quietly groaned about in the caverns - Darsce offers, "I'll get you some catalogs and you can make an order? I can help you with sizing if you'd like?" And of those pre-used clothes Darsce adds, "Besides, you don't want some drunk rider seeing you in his weyrmate's tunic and grabbing you by mistake, right?" Though Darsce is probably the only person who might find humor in such a scenario and the conversation that might result (ie, pretending to be the woman in question and telling the poor addled man something terrible and false). "You should let me design something for you," she tacks on, noting the lack of enthusiasm for clothes. "I can make it as simple and neutral as you'd like and minimize your bodily changes." That's also said with a tactful expression and matter-of-fact tone. Soriana has options other than hiding in a sack for the next five to six months!

Oh no, definitely not just skin-deep. Because, you see, there's… well… leave all that to the healers to explain. Soriana's going to, because she doesn't really want to think about it more than she already does. Denial is not forever… at least not for her. Her expression's already started to shift to a more closed one, one that expects to be dealing with this on her own, and so the offer to actually help takes her by surprise, with a pause and a blink followed by a smile. "Oh. That… that'd be nice." Her smile's a genuine one, which is why it took a moment to emerge from behind the polite one she had halfway into place. It broadens at the idea of the drunk rider. "Oh, I dunno. It might be cathartic?" When she hands his ass to him. But… "No, probably not." Because Soriana's not sure of her balance with how her body's shifting, and also… "Weyrwoman reputation and all." She's smiling because it's not a joke, or maybe because it is. Or maybe it's just relief, because she's actually having a conversation about babies (more or less) that isn't terrifying her any more than she already is. The offer to design something has her curious, head tilted in a questioning look. "If you'd want to," she says. "I mean…" She sighs, and looks away, turning a bit to lean back against the heap of blankets. "I know it's not going to be invisible. But everyone acts like it's… the best thing ever. That, or the end of the world."

Because there's that baby-belly, yep. Of which there'll be no hiding of past a certain point. Darsce would know this because she's been asked to do the impossible by the very fashion-conscious before. She's good, but she's not that good! "I have a stack of current ones in my cottage; I'll bring them to your office in the morning." Soriana's smile, the real one, is reflected - a warming of Darsce's professional one, which morphs to conspiracy. "It might work better than beating up a straw practice dummy? And who's to know it's you? He'd cry in his beer about his weyrmate beating the stuffing out of him, not Weyrwoman Soriana." Yeahno, don't take your diplomatic advice from her! "I do want," says she firmly. "You helped me back when." When she was going to murder a straw dummy one rainy day and she hasn't forgotten. "Besides, you'll look nice. And it'll be fun." She's back to dabbing at her neck with that cool cloth - the front this time as Soriana turns and speaks. "People shardin' need to get a life," is Darsce's opinion of that. An irreverent smirk follows, "Can't blame the aunties though. Theirs are pretty much over." More dabbing, but no comment about the heat. "So… which is it for you?" she asks casually. Because if it's the latter? She's not going to design a neon green tunic that says BABY across the front of it.

There are already people noticing the baby bulge. Like Darsce! Just for instance. Hiding it… well. Crinolines from the neck down, and one might manage it… though the result would not be anything that even the most exotic tastes would call fashionable. More like 'who are you, and why are you wearing the scaffolding from an entire construction project?' But no, Soriana's not expecting that, and it's not because of any lack of faith in Darsce's abilities, just an understanding of… realities. "Thanks," she says to that offer of catalogs. She'll just skip past the pages that are nothing but frills. Okay, maybe stare at some of them, then skip past. Because really, who puts frills on top of frills? Beating up some poor drunken sod who can't recognize a face (but can a tunic)… oh, she laughs to that. "It might. I'll keep it in mind." For those days when she… well. When a straw practice dummy doesn't deserve the mauling she wants to deliver! (And some unknown rider does? Which is why she'd never actually do it, just… think about it. Course, when she thinks about it, that unknown rider tends to have a face, because… it's her daydream! She can make it whoever she wants.) "Mmm," she says to that day way back when - not that she's forgotten, but then, she hasn't forgotten days even further back, either. She's not arguing, but… oh, and there's other reasons to follow that, so Darsce obviously isn't doing this just out of some sense of obligation. That's when Soriana nods to it, smiling as she settles back and takes a fractional amount of weight off her feet. "They should," she agrees to people getting lives. "They won't." She's matter of fact on that, but still with a smile. "But they should. So should the aunties! There's uncles enough to keep them busy." And what they do to occupy themselves, well, Not Soriana's Problem. They can play backgammon. Or something. The dabbing isn't missed - her gaze lingers there for a few moments - but given that they're right in the middle of talking about how some people need to get lives, Soriana doesn't ask… just looks curious. Besides, there's a different question in the air, one directed at her, and Soriana… sighs. "Neither?" She twists her mouth in a mild grimace. "Never really planned on kids. Or wanted them." She shrugs. "But… I dunno. I never planned for Luraoth, either."

The catalogues Darsce has are likely to have more finesse than frippery. But given personal preferences, Soriana may well be doing some page-skipping anyway. As for handsy riders, well, sometimes just the thought of what one wouldn't actually do is therapy enough. For Darsce that might be merely the thought of a beat-down because she'd definitely have that sarcastic conversation to confuse the poor dude. There's a keen glance flashed at Soriana for that mmm, and a semi retreat. Okay then. She won't mention it again. That was her saying thank you, not being… obligated. She considers Soriana's answer about babies, then simply says, "Come to my cottage and I'll take your measurements. We'll have tea." And Jethaniel, if he's there can be dryly factual and understated enough to make up for those extreme people who've no lives. "Seeya later." She smiles and makes her exit…to somewhere cooler, probably the walk in freezer.

Soriana's used to obligations coming in strange-sized packages, but this time… this time it seems to all work out okay. At least according to her, so she tilts her head to the suggestion, then nods, still with a smile. A real one. "All right. I will." And so she shall. For now, she waves to Darsce's departure and eyes the stack of small-size blankets for another moment before abandoning it. She'll… deal with gathering babystuff later. For now, she's sure there's a stack of paperwork with her name on it. Isn't there always?


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