Effective Alternatives
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Xanadu Weyr - Domicile of Discernment

On the outside, this cottage is fairly unremarkable. It's of moderate size, though it's clearly not the home of a rider - there's no wallow, nor is there any means for even the smallest of greens to enter. It's set in the meadow, amidst the gentle roll of the terrain toward the ridge, but any adornment by flowers or ornamental plants is purely incidental. The exterior is painted white, and the roof-shingles are brown. There's a small wooden stoop, centered along the longer side - three wide steps leading up to a doorway framed by windows.
Once inside, the main room of this cottage is bright and airy, made so by a high arched ceiling and large windows that take advantage of their northern exposure, with gauzy drapes and pale golden oak sills. Overhead, there's more of that oak in the form of exposed beams, the ceiling between them painted a soft cerulean. During the day, there is likely sufficient illumination from those windows, but for night-time, there are recessed lights hidden within the beams that diffuse against the ceiling. The walls are white with a sponged speckling of the same blue from overhead, and underfoot is more of that oak.
The house has a central column of yellow fieldstone, with a fireplace facing into the room and a half-flight of stairs to either side - one leading up, the other down. Above the fireplace is an oakwood mantel, and while it may provide warmth, under most circumstances, the radiant heating system beneath the floorboards is likely to more effective. The fireplace may, however, provide a pleasant flickering warmth, and as such, a sofa and a pair of armchairs are arranged in front of it. The sofa's a velvety blue-grey, accented with a pair of red pillows, and the armchairs are brown leather - suitable for company but selected primarily for comfort.
There's a kitchen tucked off to one side, near the upward staircase. It's small, but well equipped, with granite countertops and a brushed steel cold-box and stove. There's an oblong wooden table with chairs set around it, and even some plants in small terracotta pots on the windowsill, as the presence of fresh herbs is useful when cooking.


It is somewhere after midnight but before dawn in the cottage of Jethaniel and Darsce. Most of the Weyr sleeps, save for those on duty or hit with insomnia, and Darsce should be doing so also. But she is not. And while she's far from awake, she is, nevertheless, up. She's sitting at the table in the kitchen with a pot of freshly-brewed klah and a full mug of the same lifted to her lips. Her eyes are screwed shut and she's grimacing while holding her breath preparatory to taking a mouthful. Appearances are, she's forcing herself to drink a beverage during nighttime hours that she can't seem to get enough of during the day.

It is, in fact, past midnight and prior to dawn in a moderately large portion of Pern's populated areas. Jethaniel was asleep. He is not entirely certain of the precipitating incident which awoke him. It is evident that it is still night. The scent of klah may have been a contributing factor, as may Darsce's absence. Certainly, that absence is something that he notes in the process of regaining consciousness. He does not investigate immediately; there are several plausible causes for her temporary departure. However, he does not return to somnolence in her absence, and so after a period of growing wakefulness, he rises from bed to investigate. While external lights are minimal, there do exist some within the cottage which draw his attention. There is, furthermore, a scent which hewould associate with morning - and not merely a time technically past midnight. Jethaniel frowns, puzzled, as he pads quietly down the stairs and approaches, "Darsce?"

Two things happen at once: Darsce startles, sloshing a negligible amount of klah over the rim of the mug (this is of little consequence, save to spot the pristine white tablecloth that Darsce keeps there); the other is an quick intake of breath through her nose whereupon she gags, her body jerks as she visibly forces down the sudden urge to heave. The mug is thunked down onto the table quickly lest she spill it entirely, palms then press the tabletop, bracing herself perhaps - or stilling the trembling in them. A peek over her shoulder at Jethaniel shows a pale complexion, iceblue eyes hazy with the need for sleep, guilty. She swallows several times before she manages a faint smile. Yes, it is she. "I…didn't wake you, did I?"

Jethaniel's reaction - given that it is a reaction - is not simultaneous. It is, however, prompt. He steps toward Darsce as she conducts her battle with nausea, nearer by the time she looks over her shoulder at him. His own expression is concerned as well as confused, perplexed as he comes to her. His hand reaches out, hesitates uncertainly. It is plausible that she woke him, but Jethaniel replies, "No." He sinks to one knee beside her chair, looking up at her as his hand - no longer willing to hesitate - reaches to one of hers and slowly settles atop it. "Darsce, what…" The first question Jethaniel must ask is one directed at himself, and involves determining what he should ask Darsce. He is unable to provide this answer to himself in a timely fashion. His eyes glance to the mug of klah briefly, then return to her.

"That's good. I tried to be quiet." says Darsce limply. To the question, "It's klah." Because that'd be the most obvious answer in her mind - it is what's taking up the majority of her thoughts at the moment, so that's what she assumes. She shifts her other hand, lifting her palm cautiously from the tabletop to cover the hand he's placed over hers and curls her fingers around it. "You know, I used to adore this, but I think I'm losing my taste for it. I can't seem to get past the smell." She notes the worry in his eyes and breathes, "I'm fine, really. I just… need to drink this and I'll be right back to bed, promise." She redirects her gaze to the mug, steels herself, reaches for it, lifts it to her mouth and takes a gulp. She shudders after doing so, but looks cautiously optimistic. That lasts all of one second before she claps a hand over her mouth, rises and bolts for the sink all in one move where it comes right back up and down the drain.

"…why?" The question might be a reference to Darsce's attempts at quiet, or it might be asking about the cause for her departure. Which is, apparently, klah; the scent is certainly consistent. Jethaniel acknowledges that answer with the barest of nods and no change to the puzzlement on his features; his question is merely pushed to a further remove, not actually answered. The fact that she finds that klah undesirable only serves to increase his perplexity. He might comprehend her nevertheless attempting to drink it were this a workday morning when she was required to be awake. He might, further, comprehend her drinking it at… perhaps not this late of an hour, but nevertheless a nocturnal one, if she found it enjoyable. The combination of these things, Jethaniel finds entirely confusing. "But…" He glances to the klah again, then back to Darsce. "…why would you need…" Jethaniel is barely forming coherent phrases. This is partially due to the hour; it is not one at which he normally expects to be awake… or for Darsce to be so. His concern for her - and his confusion - are also making it difficult. Her reach for the mug makes his frown deepen, but he does not manage any coherent objection prior to her consumption of the beverage. Following that consumption, Darsce is perhaps not entirely inclined to conversation. Jethaniel's frown lingers as he follows her to the sink, stepping in beside her as one hand reaches to brush back her hair and the other slips around her waist. "Darsce, what… I… don't understand."

To the 'why' question, Darsce merely eyes him significantly over the rim of that mug as she's taking that ill-fated gulp. Obviously she hasn't communicated her reasoning for her excessive klah-drinking and the pink flush that infuses her cheeks and washes the alabaster complexion isn't the bloom of health, but chagrin that he's noticed. She can't explain though because the klah wants out. Or rather her stomach wants the klah out. Once at the sink and the offending liquid has vacated her, she turns on the tap, cups a handful of water to rinse her mouth, spits and then splashes her face. There's a hand towel somewhere around here and she gropes for it, presses it to her face as she leans into Jethaniel. Muffled into that towel, she answers, "It's to, um." The quiet cough that interrupts is embarrassment. "…it's a contraceptive." She lowers the towel and admits, "The…ah, precautions?" That she takes. Remember those? her iceblue eyes ask silently.

There is assuredly significance to Darsce's gaze; Jethaniel can see that. Comprehending what is signified thereby… is presenting him with some difficulty. He's hesitant with his touch as he stands beside her at the sink, not because he expects her to disapprove but because he is uncertain whether her stomach will do so. They become slightly less hesitant as she leans in against him, though still cautious. He listens, the furrow on his brow increasing instead of receding as Darsce provides the significance he had previously been lacking. "I… am not aware of that property." Jethaniel is also aware that his knowledge of such things is not comprehensive; this confluence leads him to the perplexed uncertainty evident in his tone.

Darsce doesn't intentionally mean to confuse Jethaniel. It's the byproduct of the 'pack mentality' that led her to forego mentioning it before tonight. She… had everything in control! Or, hah, she thought she did. Her stomach seems fine now that it's empty. With one final pat to her brow with that towel, she turns to Jethaniel, lifts iceblue eyes to grey questioningly. This is the techcrafter who knows all sorts of chemical-y facts and so her tone is equally uncertain as she asks, "You're…not?" Her gaze slides to the klah pot sitting innocently upon their kitchen table. "They said it would work," she mutters, adding, a beat later, clarification for him, "My…friends." For lack of a better term.

There were, assuredly, measures being taken; that is not in doubt. The efficacy of those measures… is. Jethaniel - as Darsce appeared to consider her measures sufficient - did not previously inquire concerning their details. They sufficed for her… or at least, she thought they did. Jethaniel shakes his head slowly at that question. "I am not." His eyes remain on Darsce as hers go to the klah. In the absence of negative reactions, his arms remain around her, adjusting their position to a more comfortable one for the continuation of their presence. "I may be incorrect." Implicitly, so may certain of Darsce's acquaintances. Jethaniel hesitates, then leans in slightly, brushing his lips to Darsce's temple. "…if it is… unpleasant for you, there are likely alternatives."

Negative reactions such as being thrown up on? Heh, no, Darsce seems to be done with that, in fact, she's looking more chipper now that she's gotten rid of the klah. She ponders that klah pot with growing worry as Jethaniel confirms her need to be concerned to that purpose for the beverage. She tips her head to look up at him when he speaks, nods silently to the possibility and leaves the towel on the counter in favor of sliding both arms around his waist. The crowd she hung around may have been misinformed and she notes this possibility in the wry nose-wrinkle that accompanies her rueful twist of lips while he kisses her temple. She begins, "I should've verif-" Blink. "What? Unpleasant?" Which? The klah or what it was supposed to prevent? She'd been partway to resting her forehead on his shoulder but now tilts back, the better to see his face. "I…no that's not-" Hah, she hasn't been thiiiiiinking about anything like the discomfort. "I didn't want you to worry about it-" her eyes slide in an almost guilty fashion to one side. "-happening." Besides… "The healers you mean? Because they certainly gave Soriana to dumbest advice. Get plenty of rest and eat a good diet!" She snorts quietly.

That would certainly be one example of a negative reaction. Jethaniel is likely pleased that neither it nor any other is demonstrated at this time. Darsce's arms around him are a far more positive reaction, and there's a small flicker of a smile for her proximity. Unpleasant, he says, and there's a return of his perplexity at her response to that description. Her negative reaction to the klah was - to him - abundantly clear even before her dash to the sink. His eyes remain on her, confused but listening for her explanation of why… "Ah." Jethaniel lowers his gaze, a downward tilt of his head. "I…" he begins, then trails off into silence, listening once more to Darsce as she explains the impracticality of listening to healers. "A… generally advisable procedure," he notes - still looking down, though his arms also remain around Darsce. "There do exist other sources."

There's always next time? Not that she'll attempt it purposely, mind. Jethaniel's confusion is missed at first, but slowly dawns on her, mulled over in the back of her thoughts as she makes her explanation about why she didn't clue him in about the klah. Finally she gets it. "Oh! You meant the klah being uncomfortable." Maybe she's rinsed her brains down the drain along with the klah? His head lowers and her brows knit. Something is… wrong? The silence between them stretches after he mentions other sources. She heard about the diet and rest after hitting her head and so simply nods agreement; it's a widely-applicable recommendation. "Still, that's no way to prevent pregnancy, even I/ know that!" Says the one who thought klah does, go figure! But she's curious and so tips her head to try and catch Jethaniel's eyes, working to keep her tone neutral. "Sources like… your mother?" She's sure Jessa has plenty of advice!

The klah did indeed seem to be a cause of discomfort; Jethaniel nods confirmation to Darsce's revised hypothesis. He nods again regarding the lack of efficacy of health-maintenance procedures at the prevention of reproduction; they are, in fact, subject to a reverse correlation. His eyes may be found; they meet hers, and his arms tighten slightly even as one corner of his mouth twitches up slightly at her question. "I would not recommend it." Which is not to say that his mother would not have a great deal of advice she would desire to provide; merely that Jethaniel would, nevertheless, not recommend asking her. His mouth returns to neutral, and he explains further. "I could ask Azliet or Erijeane… if you wish." This time, Jethaniel keeps his gaze lifted, watching Darsce's expression.

Pregnancy will also be a cause of discomfort, not that Darsce knows any of that firsthand, but she's heard things. Which may be why she assumed he'd meant avoidance of uncomfortable was her end goal. Usually it is, but… Ahh! There's a flicker at the corner of his mouth and while not an outright smile, Darsce responds with one for him. Of Jessa, "You wouldn't, would you?" Teasing, followed by a more somber nod. "Erijeane, please," she says decisively, "Unless she doesn't have anything and then if we need to, we can ask Azliet." And then she leans close, seeking to touch her forehead to his. "It's not forever, Jethaniel," she says softly. "I just want to be sure…before having a baby that I'm…ready. And won't…" She grimaces, "…make a horrible mother."

There do exist many things which may potentially be heard. Jethaniel has heard things as well, obtaining various anecdotes which likely do not constitute an entirely disjoint set to those heard by Darsce… though at least one notable difference has been established, and there may exist others. Certainly, Jethaniel has heard enough concerning pregnancy that he might speculate 'uncomfortable' to be a distinct understatement. He does not entirely echo Darsce's smile, answering her tease with, "No." It's quiet, but certain. There may exist certain conversations conducted in his familial correspondence which he has not chosen to share with his wife. Jethaniel nods to her decision regarding familial consultations of whose results she will be apprised. "I will ask." Then, Jethaniel lowers his head - this time, to rest his forehead against hers, looking at Darsce with vision blurred by closeness. There's a shift of his jaw at her initial statement, words almost-said but pushed into silence to let her speak. "You will not." Jethaniel asserts this, despite a lack of any demonstrations to this effect and a wide variety of evidence which might lead one to negative conclusions - beginning, but not limited to, the example of Darsce's own mother. Nevertheless, Jethaniel appears confident in his statement. His eyes seek hers, the grey ones steady. "It is your choice; I will wait." The words are quiet, earnest. Jethaniel hesitates for a moment, and his voice is quieter as he admits, "…but I am not worried."

Relieved, Darsce's form loses a subtle tension, melting against him further. "Thanks, because I'm certainly not asking my mother." Because while Jessa's advice might be irritating, Asher's would involve an unpalatable intrusion of her into their lives. There might also be a few things exchanged between mother and daughter that Jethaniel isn't privy to. Such as what was said when that silky undergarment (if you could even call it a garment) was returned to Asher. Though if Jethaniel ever asks, she'll tell him. She isn't so sure about her capabilities as a mother, so says the pained twitch of her mouth at his reassurance. She's both unused to others believing she has positive abilities and captivated. There's a sheen to her eyes as she manages, "You…really think so? Why?" She doesn't have any pets to shower with affection - has made no secret that she doesn't care for firelizards and dragons… she hasn't even seemed to notice the children running about the caverns except to mutter about the mess they sometimes make. Even so close and with her eyes upon his, she's seen that shift of his jaw, knows he'd been about to say something. "What…were you about to say a moment ago?" He's not worried? Oh, but she is!

Asher's opinion is neither required nor desired; Jethaniel nods his agreement to that decision. He has, similarly, no desire as such to know what Asher may have said regarding their decision to return her provided gift; he is quite content in leaving that to Darsce's discretion. She is - or so Jethaniel believes - capable of handling both that and… motherhood. "I do," he confirms. Why? His lips slightly curve toward a smile. "Because you wish to." Darsce is certainly expert at avoiding the things she does not wish to do; her capability for redirection toward those she finds more desirable is also well-developed. "…and so you will learn." Which is, in Darsce's plan, intended to occur prior to the initiation of an active reproductive stage. Jethaniel has disclaimed agency in that scheduling; while he assuredly has worries… they are not the ones Darsce speculated as to him possessing. Nor the inverse, though he's quiet a moment before answering that question. "I would wait forever, if you wished."

Learn…ing? Oh, does Darsce ever have a plan for that! Unlike cooking, this is something she plans to research before diving into. That'll involve stacks of books, interviews with mothers, both new (look out, Soriana!) and experienced, observation of the same and maybe even borrowing a child from time to time. Won't that be… interesting! She'll get around to it - when she (say it with me) has to. For now she's quite content to put it off until that other 'ready' kicks in: the feeling of being ready to… start down that path. Right now what's comfortable is that 'someday thing'. Of Jethaniel's worries, she doesn't voice them, but she remembers the camelid and his reaction to it, the conversation they had of them same. She observes his silence, almost shakes her head to tell him he needn't answer but then… his quiet assurance leaves her with a mixture of both wonderment vague and disquiet; it shows in her expression. She simply shakes her head, a fond smile curving her lips "You're allowed to have a say, Jethaniel. But I appreciate your patience." And then, because there are some things Darsce is not keen on waiting for, "How soon can we get that information from Erijeane?"

Whether Jethaniel will permit himself to have the say which Darsce accords him in these matters is questionable, but his head tips faintly in acknowledgement for her statement. His worries - oh, he has them, and he'll find others, but Jethaniel is sufficiently irrational to fear some potential outcomes while still desiring others and to sometimes postulate only the favorable outcomes when determining his reactions… or, conversely, the negative. His opinions may become disproportionately influenced by recent perceptions. He is, in brief, human, with all the flaws of reasoning that entails. He provides no answer to Darsce regarding that say of his, but at her further question his consideration shifts. "She may yet be at Cove Hold." A fact for which Jethaniel has no counter-evidence, but which depends on factors - such as the conditions of wind and waves in that area - for which he does not have sufficiently recent data. "If so… tomorrow?" And, because it's at Cove Hold - which means almost certainly encountering his mother - Jethaniel adds, "You do not have to come."

Darsce will continue giving him permission whether that's effective or not; she does want him to know he has hers. Of forever, she smiles and, as he inclines his head, she tips hers back and brushes her lips to his forehead. "You're wonderful," she murmurs, those two words managed with an uneaven wobble. Of her fears, she doesn't elaborate further; she'll face them for him - because of him - and sooner than she might otherwise have on her own. Tomorrow, which is actually…today? Darsce is unsure, but she smiles, this time with a deliberately coy smirk, "I can wait that long." She can try anyway! The curls at the corners of her mouth fade somewhat as he says she doesn't have to come and her eyes slip away from his. "We'll see," she says evasively with a lift of one slim shoulder, noncommittal in her reaction to that. "I've a clothing design project, which-" she yawns, "is time-sensitive." And morning is coming - sooner than she'd like, as usual. A time she'll likely face without the aid of klah, though she may yet again try to force some down simply for the stimulant it provides to kickstart her for the day. She turns within his arms and tilts her head towards the stairs that lead to where they - sigh - will get the rest of that much-needed sleep.

Jethaniel's head remains lowered for a moment after that kiss, his arms curved around Darsce. His expression is a partly hidden one, but it holds a quiet question, a trace of concern, an incomprehension sufficiently overshadowed by affection to not actually require resolution. As such, he does not ask. Tomorrow, in this context, means as soon as he looks at his office calendar, finds a span of two hours without a meeting, and arranges for a Comet rider during those two hours. In theory, that span could begin now, but the situation is not quite urgent enough to necessitate that; Darsce can wait, and so this investigation may wait for morning - which is rather sooner than forever. Jethaniel looks up to Darsce once again, and his lips curve toward a smile in response to hers. "…if necessary." He too shall wait, until such a time as measures Darsce considers sufficient are once more in place. Ideally, this time the measures will actually be sufficient. Her response concerning her potential presence on the fact-finding expedition makes his gaze lower, and he adds, "I would enjoy your company… if you have time." And inclination, which may be the more limited resource… but Jethaniel does not add that aspect to his clarification. If Darsce chooses to not accompany him, her project may be taken as sufficient (if perhaps not sole) reason. Jethaniel's arms loosen somewhat as Darsce turns within them, and he lowers his head to brush lips to her shoulder as exposed by the tilt of her head. "I may still hold you," he assures Darsce. That is not contingent on the results of this investigation, and he will demonstrate his ability to do so - as well as sleep - in that bed.


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