A Picnic of Advice

Xanadu Weyr - Gardens
An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place. On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.
Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.
The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also eluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic. The two paths leading away from the entrance have come full circle, wrapping around to meet each other on the other side, yet still continue on to the far left and right. One path leads off deeper into the surrounding woods, while the other wider; cheerily decorated with brightly colored slabs of painted stones.

Springtime on Xanadu. Finally! The snow is gone and with it the cold of winter. From the once frozen ground, life has begun again. Shoots of grass has grown thickly, and quickly, painting the landscape with a fresh coat of greet. Within it, flowers are sprouting to show off their colors, attracting insects that buzz lazily to and fro. People are becoming more active, no longing hiding from the chill in their weyrs. The turn of a season is always an exciting thing, especially when that turn is from winter to spring. Ka'el is especially glad for the change. Although the cold hadn't been much of a deterrent for the Weyrleader to do his job outdoors when needed, he sure is happier doing it without the risk of freezing his fingers off! And an added bonus is that now, the dangers of slipping are gone with the melted ice, and Soriana can be out too! (Not that she couldn't be out before. He just didn't like it) And thus, with the promise of spring's fresh breeze to fill the lungs as opposed to the stale office air, he's in the gardens with her now. The colors of the season are magnificent here, with everything trimmed to perfection and nary a stray leaf to be seen on the ground. The Xanadu gardeners definitely take pride in their work! Today's been deemed a good day to visit with their Senior Weyrwoman, who has been asked prior to today if she was free to take a picnic lunch with them. Thus, it's beneath the shade of a tree that they can be found, blanket spread and a simple lunch of sandwiches and fruit unpacked from a basket likely prepared in the kitchens.

Soriana certainly could be out before. She was out before. There's absolutely no reason why she can't be out and doing whatever she wants to… ex…cept for going between, or drinking klah, or any of the three dozen other things that the healers tell her are a bad idea. One of them - she won't name names - has even been muttering that maybe she shouldn't be working in the Annex, because something-something-infections, but so far she's kept that one from being anything more than a mutter. Because she can do things! And is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, and if she doesn't, well, it's just because she's tired, not because she can't. She's not an invalid! Just… pregnant, and spring also means she's not longer wearing heavy coats and loose sweaters, which means that the growing curve of her stomach is somewhat more obvious. But hey, this meeting's been scheduled outside, not in that (perfectly well ventilated, really Ka'el) office. So hopefully there won't be other people with the same idea and things will be quiet and nobody will stare at her. So far, so good? She's seated with Ka'el, toying with an apple. Has the ground always been this hard, or is she just sitting funny today? …either way, she's not going to admit it.

Thea may hail from the High Reaches and not mind the cold but she certainly enjoys the emergence of spring! Just wait until the height of summer when the days grow muggy and oppressive. She'll be suffering then, whereas in winter she was fine. Everyone needs a restday once per week, including the Senior. Over the past few turns she's gotten better at both leaving work at the end of the day and taking those restdays so clearly marked by a helpful someone on her calendar. Today is hers and so she enters the garden dressed casually in loose-fitting cotton trous and tunic of sea green, her dark hair left loose to tumble about her shoulders, her feet freed from the formal shoes she usually wears shod in simple sandals. She's come from the direction of her cottage, crossing the meadow and making her way to the garden without being stopped once - it's a miracle! She's carrying a plate of freshly-baked cookies - made herself for this very picnic because what else is she going to do with a day off? Her life is SO tame these days. It's sad, really. Anyway, contrary to what many folks might think, she'd be the last one to complain about a meeting outside. See? She's smiling as she approaches and greets the Weyrleader and Junior casually with, "Hello you two."

And if Soriana doesn't admit that her butt hurts, Ka'el won't have any reason to contact Kanekith, to contact Areith, to contact Z'van to ask that a seat or a cushion or pillow or something be brought via runner for her convenience. Being Weyrleader has its perks like that sometimes! But, alas…she admits to nothing, thus she gets nothing except for a sore posterior. Ka'el himself looks relaxed. It's good to be away from the office and out in the warm spring air! He could stay out here all day and eat and chat with his curvy weyrmate about everything and nothing at all. He plucks up a grape. The prequel to lunch. "Did I already tell you the Weyrlings are Betweening?" he says to her, although she may already know. "So far so good. Can't say we lucked out enough to not have any screamers in this lot, but…" He pauses there, looking up as Thea moves in to view. The Weyrwoman is offered a smile and wave as she approaches, and he nosily eyes that plate of her. Mmmm-mm! Are those cookies he spies there? "Good day, Weyrwoman," he greets, shifting to sit up a little before rising to his feet, offering to take the plate from her. "Glad you could join us. I'll admit that I only had about fifty percent confidence in you.." he says with a crookedly teasing grin.

…yes, but if Soriana doesn't admit to that sore butt, Ka'el also won't decide that next time they go out, he has to arrange for a folding chair and a full tea service with riders waiting on her hand and foot. There are compromises being made here! Even if they're mostly between 'Soriana's pride' and 'Soriana's rump'. She listens to Ka'el as she tosses that apple into the air a bit and catches it again. "Yeah? Shards, they'll be graduating soon. I wonder if…" She trails off on that one, giving her head a bit of a shake. Never mind that, because there's Thea approaching. On time and everything! A springtime miracle! Y'know, to go with the new leaves and such that aren't actually miraculous in the slightest, just part of the cycle of seasons. "Hey Thea," she says with a smile, then takes the advantage of how Ka'el is distracted by cookies to shift her position a bit and try for a more comfortable one. If she puts her weight more on the side and leans back just a little… there. That'll do for now.

Gasp! The bronzers of the Weyr - relegated to cushion-fetching?! Oh, the future may someday be a very different from today for all of them, eh? Thea… will not be thinking of Soriana's posterior ether, unless there's a telltale butt-wriggle of discomfort and then her motherly side will kick in. Weyrwoman indeed! "Thea, Ka'el," she says with a feigned pout, then aside to Soriana with a little eyeroll and feigned longsuffering sigh, "So formal, he is." That plate is handed off to Ka'el, an easy grin following his tease as she notes, "They're brown butter salty caramel chews." She kicks off her sandals, steps onto the blanket and sinks in one easy move to sit cross-legged, facing the two of them and then tips her head to divide her gaze back and forth between the two of them, a brightly thoughtful regard. This meeting is about them, right? She's assuming so because there's nothing Pern-shaking happening in hers. "So," she says with a sage nod, "big adjustments ahead for you two." What? Not talking about what? No one told Thea the b-word is taboo. She'll even say it in a minute. For now, though, she just smiles serenely.

"I know. I know, I can't help it," says Ka'el in regards to his formality. At least his grin is very informal. No reserved smiles for him! Just the usual crookedly boyish look that's seen among friends and family. He takes the plate from her, eyeing the cookies hungrily. Brown butter salty caramel glorious goodness, she said? "Thanks Thea," he says, purposefully emphasizing her name. "You didn't have to trouble yourself, you know. .. I'm glad you did, but you didn't have to." Smirking, he rejoins Soriana and settles himself down next to her, setting the plate of cookies down between them all. Dessert first, apparently! He plucks one up and offers it to Soriana with lightly lifted brows of question. He snags one for himself, or keeps the one he has if she doesn't take it. Aaand this is as far as 'planning' went for him. Get together. Sit down. The talking part was part of the itinerary, but just how to initiate it, and what to initiate first, eludes him. Luckily though, Thea does the hard part and gets the ball rolling. Adjustments. He glances to Soriana at the statement, regarding her for a handful of seconds before nodding. "Yeah.." he confirms, looking back to Thea. No secrets among riders, especially riders in their positions. "I … it's a lot to think about. We've had a lot to think about. And we were…thinking maybe you… I mean, you've done this before. Obviously. So..you'd know…stuff." Not his most eloquent speech but, hey words are words, right?

"It's a ploy to steal cookies," Soriana tells Thea. See? Ka'el's gone and gotten himself the entire plate of them! All because of a little bit of formality, strategically applied. He can make excuses, sure, but Soriana knows it's really… ooh cookies! Of course she wants one, and if her grin to Ka'el doesn't say it - or her faint nod - then the fact that she takes that cookie he offers most certainly does! Right. So they're here, they have cookies to go with the nutritious sandwiches and fruit, aaand… she's going to have a bite of cookie and make Ka'el start explanations. She gets as far as the 'bite of cookie' part, but then Thea… uh… gets the conversation started. Soriana pauses her chewing for a moment. Swallows, because she's nervous. Swallows again, because… cookie. "Uh… yeah," she says, lowering the hand with the rest of that cookie. She glances to Ka'el. She looks back to Thea. She smiles… mostly. "I don't even know what the… adjustments… are. Not really."

Thea has no problem with dessert first, leaning to take a cookie herself and breaking it in half, watching the strings of melted caramel stretch, lifting it hastily when it appears the goo is going to drip on her lap, catching it with her tongue before biting. So much for formality! Cookies are nutritious, delivering essential fats, sugars and minerals (that's where the salt comes in, right?). "It was no trouble Ka'el," quips Thea, her smile growing mischievous. "I have two spawn popping in to check that I'm actually keeping out of the office on my restday; I have to be armed with distractions." Lesson number one with offspring: Re-direction! No secrets indeed, because well, working together with her Juniors, she's aware of the signs Soriana's presented. Besides Sorrin, well! There's bound to have been an 'is she?' and a chortle of pleased affirmation, right? She's chewing when Ka'el says she knows 'stuff'. She, to her credit, doesn't choke. She's done this all of… once. She swallows her bite, looks between them, lingers on Soriana thoughtfully then says, "Well, the first one might be to decide whether you're going to foster or raise the child yourself? There are..options for the second alternative." The birthing… night feedings… diapers…teething… she'll answer specific questions if they ask, but Sorrin may have already given input on that.

Thea may have only done the mothering thing once…but she had two at the same time! That makes her twice as experienced as the average first time parent, right? Sure! Ka'el takes a bite of the cookie to keep his mouth busy, because he's apt to keep spilling more and more rambling, jumbled words if he doesn't. "Wow.." The word sneaks out. This is a really good cookie! All gooey on the inside, yet crisp on the outside. His compliments to the chef! He takes another bite and chews, eyes on Thea and… heh. Yeah. That Decision that has been hashed over before with no real … decision made. Eyes sweep to Soriana again with the mention of fostering. To foster or not to foster? That is the question. "We …. haven't really decided.." he says, eyes still on Soriana, as if seeking confirmation of that. They haven't decided, right? "But," he says afterwards, attention back to Thea, "I'd like to know what..those options are. For the second alternative. The not-fostering choice.. In case that's what happens." .. "Just to know," he says to Soriana, quietly. He's not making any executive decisions here. .. Ha, as if he could! "You didn't foster, did you?" he asks Thea. "I don't remember Marel ever saying anything about a foster. Or Mur'dah."

Once is… once more than Soriana has! There she was, happily going along with 'zero' and now, uh… she's at about half? Or… however these things are calculated. She could ask Thea that, but it seems like it's probably more a question for a healer… or a philosopher. So instead, she listens to Thea, breaking off a small piece of cookie and eating it. Because all important decisions and difficulties are made easier by cookies. She should remember that. Also, learn how to bake. Her mouth tugs to the side a bit, and she nods as Ka'el says that they haven't decided. Because… decisions are hard! Especially when she feels like she has no clue about what either option actually means. She looks to Ka'el, studying him a moment as he asks Thea about those options, then nods as he justifies that choice to her. "Yeah. Of course." It's almost like she's surprised he mentioned it. Because they haven't decided yet, right? She looks back the Thea, then adds, "I think part of it is… if we raise it ourselves, what does that mean for… schedules and stuff? I mean… kids take time, right?" This may be one of the biggest understatements Soriana has ever made. "So how does that work with… well… work?" Thea should know just how busy Soriana is! And how busy Ka'el is, too.

To be precise, Thea went through pregnancy once, giving birth twice. Ow. Though two babies, then toddlers working her over as a team and winning much of the time might place her in the category of 'conquered' rather than 'experienced'. The Weyrwoman studies the two halves of her cookie. Lifting one slightly higher, she flicks pale green eyes to first Soriana and then Ka'el. "One child takes time." She lifts the other half, "Two take much more. And I did not foster them," she confirms to the Weyrleader with a decisive nod. "I'm holdbred. Muir and Marel were mine." Oh, she'd know their schedules; she knew her own when that decision was made. The options? "You can use the nursery during work hours, take them home at night, or hire a private nanny and keep them home during the day, or use one private nanny for day, and another for nighttime. That'd be up to you and at your expense. Me? I felt it was totally worth the exhaustion." Her smile grows soft, one of tender remeniscence, "My sea babies. I didn't want to miss any of it." She lifts her gaze to Soriana, "The work will always be there. The babies… won't. There's nothing usually so urgent that you can't delegate or trade." Her attention shifts to Ka'el, "Weyrleading makes it a bit trickier, but you've a Weyrsecond. And myself."

Ka'el sets his twice-chomped cookie down. This must be important stuff for Ka'el to disregard a treat! He slightly nods as Soriana speaks, voicing her wonderings. Their wonderings. Schedules and things that are so important to the Weyr. Things that require them to be present more than they are absent, which could be the same motto used for parenting. Be present. Would they be able to? Thea has advice. She doesn't really have…the answer, but who would? No two lives are exactly the same. No experiences a mirror of someone else's. But she is a source of guidance, and Ka'el feels a strong need to be guided, so he lets her. He listens to those options that he couldn't come up with on their own. Nannies. Private nannies and night nannies and day nannies. The nursery so near their own offices. He looks to Soriana at the mentioning of exhaustion and not wanting to miss out on the experience of rearing one's own child. That's what it really takes, isn't it? The will and want enough to do it that all the other stuff, the bad things, the exhaustion and hours, won't matter? His eyes lower to the blanket, eyeing the checkerboard pattern with little interest, but it keeps him from staring at Soriana, until Weyrleading is mentioned. The edges of his mouth faintly pull, but it's only a second's worth of a frown. Maybe two. "So it's doable," he says. "Even with the scheduling and our ranks… And I won't always be Weyrleader. I know that. So my busyness won't always be an issue," is says, looking from senior to junior, sounding almost as if he's pleading his case….although no decisions have been made yet about the matter by either of them, right?

So much time, and all for… Soriana frowns with a thoughtful sort of look as Thea explains the options. "…so nannies are just like… fostering, but at our house." Her nose wrinkles slightly. If she's going to have the babies… uh, baby, singular… she might as well… have it! Or hand it off entirely, instead of having someone else tromping around her house and paying them for the privilege. And for taking care of a baby, yes, but… she sighs. Doable, Ka'el says, and she looks to him, frowning a little as she thinks about it. Determination and drive. He has it. Does she? Quietly, "They don't last forever." Babies. They grow up. However terrible they are, those toddler tantrums and terror-filled two and threes and teens, they end. Eventually. Interminable turns later, when the kid is nearly as old as she is now. Or at least, Soriana thinks it does! Go ask Sorrin if she's done with raising her daughter. Soriana looks back to Thea. "I've already been trading some things." Betweening duties for paperwork! Not exactly her favorite trade to make, because hold visitations are fun and exciting and paperwork is boring, but she can do it. Doable. Like Ka'el said, and she looks back to him, exhaling slowly. "It won't. I mean…" She hesitates for a moment, and looks down to her cookie. "It seems possible." Not that decisions have been made.

"Ah, ah, ah," Thea counters, both halves of her cookie taken in one hand so she may lift a forefinger of dissent to Ka'el. "You never know. Circumstances may be such that Kanekith outmanuvers every other male and guards his position for turns and turns. It's… well… the people trust the will of the dragons and we're taught that the will of the Weyr - and their dragons subtly affect the outcome of leadership flights." He'd know that though, surely having heard such taught in Weyrlinghood and spoken of amongst riders, right? To Soriana, she lifts a shoulder, "Not… really. You'd be the one making the decisions and spending more time with your child. I didn't have nannies. I took them from the nursery at night. It was… both difficult and wonderful and I'm glad I kept them." Not that she's saying what they should do, she's just saying what worked for her. She lifts her cookie, takes a bite and nods about the traded out-of-Weyr duties for paperwork. She knows, has been there and sympathy for being tied to a desk is in her acknowledgement. There's the sound of birds, doing busy bird-y things in the trees off towards the forest while she considers the young couple. "You might want to keep your options open until the babe is in your arms," she suggests softly, a Mona Lisa smile there and gone almost before it's really in place.

They definitely don't last forever, these little babies that people bring into the world. Ka'el's heard his own mother claim that her boys were little for only a blink of her eyes, and before she knew it, they were out climbing trees and getting into trouble. Babies don't last forever. Isn't that a good reason to have them around when they are? As for his Weyrleadership, he's spoken with at least one other Weyrleader to get a more personal account of the intricacies of it. How many turns was it that he said? Eight? Ten? Far more than Ka'el imagined himself holding the position, just because..cycles seem to be a thing, and Weyrleaders have come and gone during his time as a Xanadu resident. Is he destined to be where he is through this child's childhood and teenage turns? He reclaims his cookie to break off a piece and eat. "Would it be reasonable to take time off when it…uh..when the baby is born? I'll prepare Kiena, and I know you'll be there to help.. And Soriana has the other Weyrwomen Juniors to carry on her things. If we do wait to decide, then.. do you think one or two sevens would be a reasonable amount of time for us to take off and sort of get a feel for things before deciding?"

The will of the dragons. Soriana's mouth tugs to the side, a wry expression followed by a sigh. "People do." Whether they should, well, that's another question entirely, but they certainly do. Because… people, and also dragons. Soriana hrms to Thea, and nods. "…like how many cookies before bedtime." An important decision! Possibly one of the most important, because cookies, and she peeks down to hers as she has another nibble of it. Oh, and also, while she's on that topic… "These are good." At least that part of this conversation is simple and unquestionably positive. Unlike… the actual reason for this conversation. Soriana shifts her position - she's been in this one for too long - and sighs. The difficult part is easy for her to imagine. The wonderful one… Soriana glances down to her cookie, then up again to Thea for that suggestion. "That… makes sense." Maybe it'll make everything obvious! …or even more tangled up and difficult to decide. Ka'el's idea of time of - for both of them - is met with an expression of relief. Yes please, don't leave her alone with a baby she has no clue what to do with! Assuming, of course, that it's possible, and so her gaze goes to Thea to hear the senior's opinion.

Ahhhh, Pern politics! Weyrleadership is bound up with both the dragons and ancient tradition. Thea might be able to sense the turn of Ka'el's thoughts, for her smirk is a mixture of cynicism, regret and encouragement sprinkled with a dose of tease. "There have been exceptions," she notes to the dragon's choice. A'dmar would be a case in point. Though if his bronze had returned to win a future flight? Oh wouldn't that have been a knotty problem to deal with! "And some are more suited to lead than others. So don't discount it entirely." Ka'el might be among the latter, she seems to be suggesting, though winning the next leadership flight would confirm it and that has yet to happen. Her pale gaze flicks to Soriana in time to see her wry expression and she smiles. "People do. And it's worked for Pern for thousands of turns." The Weyrs with flights and the holds with blood heirs. Pern is not a democracy, though the councils help give the people a voice, they at least have more sway over who their leader is in a Weyr. Cookies, Soriana says and Thea, finished with hers, chuckles. Where are those sandwiches? It's time for real food now. Wherever they are, she reaches for one, only to hold it and add, "…and bedtime stories, and sweet after-bath cuddles and tickle fights and giggles and secrets. But that comes later. The first few sevens can be…" Oh she doesn't go there. Instead, "I think it's an excellent plan to take a few off, yes. We'll all pitch in and cover." Yay support network?

Ka'el's eyes turn to Soriana at her shifting. He's become very attentive of her. Well, he always has been attentive, but her pregnancy has turned his spidey senses up a few notches. It's super Ka'el! And if his insistent questions of 'are you okay?' or 'how are you feeling?' are super annoying, it's only part of the package. Cue one of them now: "Are you alright? Do you need anything?" he asks, brows vaguely lifted as he glances to the blanket covered ground near her. Is something poking her? Is the grass uncomfortable? How dare the ground discomfort the bottom of his future child's mother! How dare it! The sandwiches, ready for consumption, have already been pulled out of the picnic basket and are laid out for easy access. Thea would have no trouble snagging her one when ready. There's also a pitcher of water ready with three empty cups nearby. The kitchenstaff made sure everything was in order for this little outing of the weyrleadership! To busy his hands, Ka'el pours drinks for them all, looking relieved that taking time off ought not to be an issue! "Good. I want to be there for all of it," he says determinedly. He doesn't want to miss anything! Except for..well… "Need I be there for…the birth?" He heard such things are pretty gross.. "I don't want to be in the way." That's his excuse. "Also, er…is there..are there lessons of how to do..things for it? How to feed it. Change it…uh, bathe it?" Cuddles and stories he can figure out. Diaper changes? Uhh…not so much.

"I'm fine," Soriana tells Ka'el, in the long-suffering tones of one who's heard that question (or a similar one) far too many times lately. "Six." Because that's not totally random, right? As for Pern's leadership… oh yes, it's a structure of government that's lasted thousands of turns. Soriana just nods to that, because she's had her history lessons. And people have been having babies for even longer than that! Which she knows from… uh… biology lessons? Or something like that, anyway. She takes the glass of water Ka'el pours for her, and takes a sip of it to help wash down cookie crumbs. So babies. They're… all the things that Thea describes? Maybe. Soriana looks somewhere between dubious and wistful, with a sideways tug of lips and a drift of her eyes down and aside… though they look up again as Thea trails off. Funny how even the people who claim there's good to this baby thing don't want to actually admit what it's like at first! Soriana halfway smiles for that. The other half comes when Thea approves the concept of time off! Because yeah, no sticking her alone with the baby. Fortunately, Ka'el wants to be there, and she keeps smiling as she turns to look at him. They'll do this together! Except… "Uh." Okay, yes, so the fact that he's the guy means she can't make him actually take physical part in what (no matter how the healers dance around it) she's figured out is likely to hurt like being sat on by Faranth, but… "Yes." Yes he does. So says her stare, which she keeps for a moment or three just to make sure he gets the idea before easing into a nod at the question about lessons. Never mind the nanny, can they get a tutor? …not for the baby. For them!

Thea takes her first bite of sandwich, chews… and nearly chokes when Soriana says 'six'. Six weeks off?! She coughs, reaching for the water Ka'el is offering with a raspy thanks that's more mouthed than spoken. They may all need personal secretaries by the time Soriana has that baby. Does Ka'el need to be there for the birth? She wisely leaves that up to the mother to be to answer. As for the first few weeks of motherhood, she'd trailed off rather than paint a picture that might not be accurate for Soriana and Ka'el. "D'had wasn't in the room when Muir and Marel were born," she says almost absently and by the unfocused, hazy expression in her eyes as they drift out there in the middle distance, she's remembering her first few weeks. It was not something horrific, if the curve of her reminiscent smile is read aright. The question of lessons pops her bubble of reverie, she blinks, then burbles a bright laugh. "With all the aunties looming, your problem will be shutting off the flow of advice you're going to be getting, asked for or not," she notes with amusement. "But if you feel you need practice, I'm sure the nursery nannies would welcome you to spend some hands on time with them." And Thea will be sure there's someone with a camera on hand to record the steps of Child Rearing 101 labs.

Six? Ka'el hmms at the number given, but nods in the end, giving her one more look as if trying to pinpoint what's ailing her using the x-ray vision that he doesn't have. Fortunately (well, fortunately for Soriana anyway, no so much for Thea) his attention is turned by the sound of Thea's choking cough, and he hastily hands off the water to her while giving her a look of concern. "Alright?" he asks with a breath of relief when the Weyrwoman finds her voice again. Phew, crisis averted! He takes a drink of his own water, pausing after just a swallow as Soriana deems that he will be present for the miracle of birth. But..but…does he haaaaave to? Apparently so, so says her stare. He swallows another mouthful of water before lowering his cup enough to give her a look back. But….D'had didn't have to! He nods to Thea to show that he heard her, then…he nods to Soriana as well to show that he knows that what D'had did probably doesn't matter and has no effect on what he will do. Birthing room, here he comes? He lowers his cup down and grabs a sandwich for himself. "Heh, I don't know how many mothers will be too keen on the thought've their children being used as practice models," he snickers, looking over to Soriana. "But … might be a good idea?" With lots and lots of supervision! He leans over a little to brush his lips against Soriana's cheek, a hopeful look following that. "Hey, if Thea thinks we can do this .. that's saying something, isn't it?" The Weyrwoman definitely wouldn't leave one of Xanadu's newest residents in incapable hands, would she? Of course not!

Well, no. Soriana has no idea how many weeks will be required! (Or… possible.) But she wasn't looking at Thea when she said that number, so she misses the senior's reaction. She just hears a cough, which can be ascribed to breadcrumbs - though Soriana also looks to Thea with her own expression of concern. No choking! …okay, good. No choking. Which means she can move onto other things, like that look to… Ka'el. Kaaa'eeeel. D'haaaad. See? The names are different! Which means they're different people who have different things required of them. If Ka'el is in the way, the healers can tell him so! Healers are not, in Soriana's experience, quiet and retiring when it comes to those in their infirmaries. Rather the opposite, in fact! Just as Thea's warm and fuzzy thoughts may be the opposite of what Soriana's picturing, but while she sees the glow on the senior's face… well. Theeee-aaaa and Soooo-riiii aren't the same name either. Soriana makes a wry face at the prospect of aunties with oh-so-important (and probably often-conflicting advice), and glances to Ka'el. "…so the nursery, huh?" Because, they're the people with all the practice! The journeymen and masters of the Babycraft. "It… yeah." She flicks a smile - probably for that kiss, but maybe for… "Good idea." She looks back to Thea, giving her a nod, then looks back to Ka'el and half smiles. "We can start with the weyrlings and work our way down?" One designated practice child per week, progressively younger until… the real thing. Not that it quite seems real yet. It'll get there, she's sure. It's realer now than it was a couple months ago. Can they do it? Yes… "We… can." Don't oversell this. "…probably."

Thea had assumed the six was for the time required off for baby-adjustment. But then, her mind is geared towards Weyr management pretty much.. all of the time. As for her baby experience, D'had was out in the hall wearing a trough in the carpet of Cold Stone Hold's upper hallway because the headwoman of that hold had certain notions of propriety regarding births. Men did not belong in the lady's chamber during birthing! "He didn't do diapers either, he made that pret-ty clear to me." There's a smile that's both fond and smug satisfaction as Thea adds, "He did pretty much everything else except nurse them." (oh yes, they have that fun little fact to deal with too) And the reluctant, inept man, petrified he'd break his children had actually… found he enjoyed fatherhood. She saw to that! But no, each couple works out things out for themselves. To that end, Thea simply says, "You'll do fine. You won't be perfect. You'll stress. You'll also, I am absolutely sure, be pleasantly surprised. Babies are tougher than you might imagine. And Sorrin is here to help you." There are also - as she's outlined… other options. "If you hate parenting, you can always foster." She says it lightly. Not trying to force her opinions on them, nope. But there's something simmering (quite likely suppressed laughter) in her sea green eyes as she takes another bite of her sandwich.

"He didn't?" Ka'el says, looking wide-eyed at Thea. Waaaait a second. How come D'had didn't have to do stinky diaper duty? He has this nagging feeling that he himself won't be so lucky! But just in case .. he glances to Soriana again. Maybe it'll be a trade off? Ka'el sits through the birthing process, and because of that, he won't have to touch a poopie diaper! Right Sori? … Maybe? "Somehow I think takin' care of the Weyrlings would be harder," he says, smirking as he speaks. "They're trouble, the lot of them." Though possibly not as troublesome as his own class was? Just maybe! He eats his sandwich while his mind mulls over a plethora of things. Things about his future. Sori's. Baby things. Weyrleader things. There's always something to think about, now more than ever. How much longer do they have to think and wonder before reality hits them with the scream of a newborn? Will they be ready? … Maybe. Probably. Hopefully! He smirks at Soriana's hesitance. That's alright. He'll get her there … hopefully. "If we hate it," he echoes Thea with a vague nod. "But…we might not. And it might be amazing. And we'll win the long-forgotten award for Best Parents on Xanadu.." Hey, it's okay to joke now, right? He grins and shakes his head while exhaling a loooong breath. "Parents. It's still .. strange to think of it when I think about it for too long."

Does Ka'el really think he's going to get out of diapers? If so, Soriana's arched eyebrow may well disabuse him of that notion. If that's not enough… there will be other opportunities for him to learn just how… fully and completely… he's going to experience raising this baby of his. Assuming, of course, that they keep it. Because they could still foster! They're keeping their options open… which… somehow has become a decision to take care of it for at least a week or two and see. …human babies aren't like firelizards, right? They won't impress and suddenly become stuck to whoever's raised them the first six days. There'll be a chance to say no… after she's given birth and changed diapers and… nursed… yeah she's just going to not think about that part yet. Besides! She's bottle-fed tunnelcats, surely she can do the same with babies. Or Ka'el can! And the fact that her body will be insisting it's got all this perfectly good milk, well, she'll… deal with that part when she gets there. Right now, she's not thinking about it, probably because the healers and aunties haven't yet explained it for the sixtieth time. Right now, she's taking a sandwich, because she's hungry… and eating for two. She smirks around her mouthful at Ka'el's comment about the weyrlings, and adds after she's swallowed, "Thank Faranth for V'dim?" The weyrling expert! Other things to (not) think about: if they go through with raising this baby, sooner or later it'll be a teenager, with all the trouble that involves. Soriana's pretty sure she's not ready for that either, but… maybe if they take it a turn at a time, they can get there. Maybe. She nods uncertainly to Thea's assurances, does the same with a bit more certainty to the mention of Sorrin. At least this baby will have a grandmother. …technically it'll have two, but only one of them is likely to ever come visit. Sorrin will help, and she's competent. She raised Soriana! Without any fostering, either. So that's three mothers Soriana's talked to now, two that didn't foster and one that did. "…I doubt we'll win any awards," Soriana says to Ka'el with a shake of her head. "But we can… give it a try." Her eyes rest on him, thinking about… all the things that are so hard to think about. "And see." What it's like? If they hate it? Whether babies bounce?

D'had didn't do stinky diaper duty because he was stubborn and Thea wasn't about to let him be the deadbeat dad he was with Asher's kids, Halimeda, Darsce, Rehsa and Evee. "We…compromised," is all she says in a very, very dry voice. But it's also a smug one. Because she won and thus Muir and Marel won. At least until… But she's determinedly not thinking about that. Dads are important! "It might be," she says after swallowing a bite of sandwich. Amazing. She found it so, but not wanting to color their expectations, she just smiles. "You might win that, yeah. Just don't expect your kids to see it until they have their own kids." It's that old, 'the older you get the smarter your parent get' thing. Babies….like firelizards?! Wheeeze! Nooot really, only yesyes, they can be, only it's the other way around. The parents get hopelessly smitten and thus hooked and… Wellllll sometimes they do, not always. "That's jumping way ahead. Weyrlings are much more like the crazy teenagers you'll be dealing with when your baby is twelve," notes the Weyrwoman sagely and unrepentantly. How does V'dim deal with them?! "My advice is to take it one day at a time," she says serenely, taking another bite of her sandwich. Turmoil? What turmoil? The sun is shining, the birds are singing, spring is here and babies… loom. All is well.

Oh the baby will have two grandmothers alright. And it might even meet both of them … if not only to try to be saved by one from the soulless life that it's been born in to. And won't that be a fun time? Let's home grandma number two won't ever hear of its little existence. But Ka'el thankfully isn't thinking of his mother, even though mothers and family are the topic of this discussion. He's thinking of his baby, and his weyrmate, and many other things that need to be thought of now or later. Like diapers and feedings and bathtime and crying in the middle of the night and sleeplessness and….why is he so eager to have this child again? And now he thinks of D'had. The dad with the sweet deal of no diapers and such. Yet, the dad who, in the end, is not much of a dad at all. At least, not now. What changed? And how can Ka'el himself keep that from happening to him? Will he be someone his child will think of with disdain? He definitely hopes not, and even if they don't win any awards, he wants to try. (Even though no decisions have been made yet). He can be a good dad, right? Even with the Weyrleader thing and lack of his own father thing…and the no clue what he's doing thing all working against him. One day at a time. He smirks, nods, and exhales another deep breath. "So, focusing on today.." he says with a grin to them both. "Let's get these sandwiches and cookies eaten. We never have time like this all together. And maybe you can teach us how to make these sometime, Thea," he says with a gesture to the cookie plate. "They're shardin' amazing…and I guess one of us needs to learn how to make somethin' other than soup and sandwiches." Eventually! But for now, he's content with the sandwich and cookie lunch beneath the springtime sun. Life's good! Til poopy diapers.

Compromise. So - Soriana and Ka'el raise the baby themselves, but Ka'el changes all the diapers? Okay, maybe not, but… well, they'll figure it out. They've got time to do that - months yet before the baby's due to come popping out, though Soriana knows from dragon-clutches that those 'due dates' are nothing more than guesses anyway. One day at a time is right! She nods to Thea for that. Days of springtime and chirping birds and sandwiches that, she can't help but think, might be better with some of those sweet orange peppers on them, and maybe a few olives - but they're perfectly okay sandwiches despite their lacks, ones she can continue to eat on this day. There will be other days, leading up to a baby… and with a baby. There will be nights, too, of not getting any sleep because there's a fussy baby who can't explain to them why, just cry and scream. Maybe those instincts that have kept humanity alive (and not abandoning their babies) will take hold. Maybe they won't. They won't find the answer to that question today, and Soriana tilts her head to Ka'el as he drags their attention back from the (not so) distant future. "…you can go a long way with sandwiches," she says with a crooked grin. "But you can go farther with sandwiches and cookies." Dessert makes the best bribe for convincing kids to eat dinner! …though it might mean that the adults don't get to eat their cookies first either. Being a good parent… does mean making some sacrifices.

"I'll get you the recipe," promises Thea easily to Ka'el. It's not a treasured, super-secret family heirloom recipe, but chances are, even if it was, she'd give it. Is she pleased they like her cookies? You betcha! It's that mom-thing and well. Ka'el and Soriana are her kids-by-proxy or something. She's pleased to have lunch with them under the warm spring sunshine amidst the birds and the… Shoot. Pern has no bees, but… buzzing things about the flowers… the signs of life and the circle thereof. There will be those diapers and the sleepless nights but there will also be the… bliss. Thea is sure of it, but she's not telling them about it. Because… it'll be that sort tsunami-wave of surprise-discovery. Or.. she's hoping it will be. Instincts? Yeaaaaaah. They'll help. Those sacrifices? They'll seem… trivial. Why? Because love will make them so.

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