Pretty Universal

Xanadu Weyr - Wildflower Boutique
Whitewashed walls form the canvas for the colourful array of flower, garden and decorative goods that are to be found lining the shop's polished shelves and smooth granite countertops. Around the edge of the room, a slim metal frame supports deep glass buckets in which a variety of freshly-cut flowers sit to be selected for bouquets and arrangements from as few as half a dozen stems to much grander affairs. Above them, shelves contain a selection of clay, glass and stone vases, handheld gardening equipment and decorative stock, such as ribbons, small cans of waterproof paint and fancy paper wrapping. Fertiliser, pots and troughs are kept on display outside and beneath an adjustable awning in-case of rain, a wider range available upon request.

Three islands in the centre of the shop floor provide space for gift items and the like, including metal flower pins, single ornamental stems for vases, and taller metal blooms to be stood in gardens. A price list notes them as crafted by Ka'el and also available in precious metals such as gold and silver. Other items on the counters include a range of small bouquets deliberately designed with firelizard delivery in mind, meadow-themed silver jewellery, and small gift-baskets containing the seeds and markers needed to start small herb gardens and plant window boxes.

The main service counter is situated along the back wall, where a list of bouquet prices and other fresh flower products, including circlets, arrangements for special occasions, and petals by the bag can be seen on a large chalk board hung on the wall.

For the past few months, Marel has slipped into something of a routine that doesn't involve much contact with anyone, but does at least involve a fair bit of profit. She turns up to what meetings she must and completes her work on time, but the rest of her days are spent predominantly in the shop, working on building up a client base that extends beyond Xanadu. Today is no different, and while Marel works inside, Isyriath sits outside, so still as to almost be a part of the building itself, watching those who wander by. The brownrider is sat at the main counter, a heavy leather book open before her, to which she's adding numbers, her firelizards ranged somewhere in the same portion of the room as her, on a series of perches. At least they're quiet. It's all very quiet, really.

The past few months for Ka'el, too, have been months of routine. But unlike his friend Marel's, his consists of seeing as many people as he can in a day! Between meetings and discussions and Weyrling lessons and friendly trips to neighboring Holds and Weyrs, he's been a rather busy Weyrleader! Add to that his self-appointed duties as a future father, a fact now commonly known across the Weyr proper, and it's a wonder when the fellow finds the time to sleep! The time isn't now, apparently, for now he's approaching the Wildflower Boutique with a purposeful stride. He smiles upon seeing Isyriath outside, he he nods a greeting to the brown before pushing the entrance door open and stepping inside. The scent of flowers and plantlife greets his nose with the next inhale, and he smirks at the familiarity of it. Eyes scan as he steps inside, bypassing an array of flowerpots on his way to the front counter. Spotting Marel there, his grin returns. "Who ever would've thought that two people who live in the same place and generally work in the same wing would run into each other as few times as we do, Marel?"

Marel looks up from the book in-front of her and slowly sets her pen down where it won't do any damage, though she leaves said book open for the ink to try. "Possibly because everyone I know has become more involved with the Weyr and I've become less so," she answers, matter of fact about the path she's chosen. "Sometimes, I think I only see M'kal because we live together. Finding anyone else to talk to is beginning to feel like some vast, social extravagance." She's not so serious about that last bit, faint smile curling at one corner of her mouth, her eyes betraying more than the rest of her expression. The brownrider glances down at the ink, trying to gauge whether it's dry yet or not, then asks a tentative, "…How's Soriana?" when she looks up again.

"Well then it's a good thing the two've you live together, isn't it?" Ka'el quips with a faint smirk and gently lifted brows. He pauses at the storefront and lightly leans against the counter. The expression on his face is a pleasant one despite her somewhat disheartening summary of her life as of late. "Keep your ears open. The Weyrlings will be having parties soon as tapping is just around the corner. I've just one or two more to get situated, though I'm thinking Galaxy for them both. I'll meet with the Wingleader and Second tonight," he says in a thoughtful tone. But, bah! Work. Work time is not now. Social time is now! A thing Marel has been lacking, and thus he'll provide in abundance in what time he has. He glances down to her book, then smirks. "I won't ask if I'm interrupting because frankly I don't care if I am, and I am to force my pleasantries on you whether you want it or not." A grin now. "Soriana is …as one would expect her to be, I guess. I don't envy you women at all. The whole experience seems … like the greatest inconvenience. But she's been doing well with it all."

"Already?" It's not really a question, yet Marel does look genuinely surprised that time has gone by so quickly. "I guess Mama will have another junior, then. That should help with all the work. And, well, make things a little easier when Soriana…" Inevitably has the baby and can't be in the office or on duty. "How long will it be now?" she asks after the aforementioned weyrwoman. "You're going to make a good father, you know," is blurted out on the heels of that enquiry. "Just… don't make the mistake of thinking that little girls only need their mothers, and boys their fathers. Little girls need their fathers." Said a little more quietly, and without really looking at Ka'el, her avoidance of using 'girl' alone, or 'women' quite an obvious one.

Ka'el snickers and nods. "Another junior officer who doesn't quite want to be one," he remarks. "Innes'll take .. time. She's one of those … free-spirit types. But, Kanekith searched her, and who am I to question who he thinks would make a good rider, you know? But your ma's an expert at whippin' people in to shape, so I'm not worried." His eyes stray to a summer bloom, an arrangement beautifully made. How long? "I… don't know really. It's been..a while? ..Eight months, I think? N-…nine?" Yikes. "So, soon.." Gulp! He hadn't really thought about the intricacies of time until now. How much time does he have before he's suddenly presented with this huge load of responsibility? Her sudden words pause any further ones that he might've had to say, and he listens to her earnestly. "Thank you. I hope to be. A good father, that is. I .." He exhales. "My father was always there for me when I was little. Til I came here. Til I impressed. I want to be like he was until that point. I just worry that .. I'll be clueless, you know?" he says with slight chuckle, though as he watches her, the smirk melts from his face. "Boy or girl, and even if I'm shard-awful, I'm not gonna turn my back on my child."

"Well, I promise not to bombard you with too many flowers and cute things that'll take up space and be irritating to mother and baby," Marel drawls quietly, slipping down from her seat at the counter so that she can wander around to stand on the same side of the counter as Ka'el, leaning back against it. A quick look back to the firelizards in residence ensures that none of them follow her, though they certainly watch. "Just enough," she teases, low key. "You raised Kanekith. You won't be that clueless. Just… a baby won't be able to tell you exactly what's wrong. You need to be more intuitive. At least any screaming and crying won't be right in your head." She laces her hands loosely before her and glances down at her feet. "Can I ask—" she starts to say, only to fall silent again. This time, she avoids that bit of the question entirely. "…What would you do if Soriana chose to have a baby that wasn't yours?" The enquiry is barely audible, and Marel herself has paled.

Ka'el leans over a little to brush his shoulder against hers in a nudge as she stands beside him. Counter lean style. "Yeah, you're right. Kanekith was a baby on a grand scale. I've .. practiced a little," he admits, if not a bit sheepishly. "In the nursery. How to hold them properly. How to put their small clothing on. … I should practice changing..diapers…" He wrinkles his nose, obviously not a practice session he's at all looking forward to. How much longer can he put it off? He can't help but laugh at her comments on crying and screaming. "True. Though I've heard some of the kids in the nursery. Some can scream so loudly, it's as if they are in your head," he remarks with a grin. Her truncated question though has his brows lifting in question. Can she ask..? He doesn't press. Merely waits. And then, the question is asked. He blinks once and furrows his brows, looking as if he might not of heard her. But he doesn't ask for clarification, nor does he answer right away. His eyes shift away to stare at the summer flowers again, silenced by thought. "I.."he says after minutes, "..don't know. I .. suppose it'd depend on the circumstances. Flight baby versus…" He trails there with a nose twitch. ".. If it was a flight baby …" He pauses with a shake of his head. "In either case, I don't think…I'd feel the way I feel now. I wouldn't be glad. I don't believe she'd be glad either, but I wouldn't.." Another pause. This is a difficult question! "Honestly, I never thought of that ever happening. Soriana never wanted children. As for what I'd do .. probably nothing. Probably everything I shouldn't do in that sort of situation. As to how I'd feel? To be blunt, I'd be mad for a while."

"You can't really practise that bit with Kanekith," Marel murmurs somewhat dryly, returning the nudge in kind. "Though if you do decide to do so, let me know. That would be enough to drag me out of here to come and watch - you trying to put a diaper on him. You'd need a lot of material." She listens as he tries to work his way through forming a response to her question, her expression her usual rather blank, unreadable one, her green-eyed gaze somewhere distant, until he gets to the end of his explanation and she closes her eyes and bows her head. "So, you'd be angry and upset and… obviously not pleased, though who would expect you to be, really? I get that." Taking a deep breath, she looks back up again and fixes her stare on the nearest counter. "…I guess that's pretty universal."

Ka'el lifts a hand to rub at the back of his neck, his brows gently furrowed. What a question! …What a question. And now, the new question is… He lowers his hand and looks at her for a quiet moment. "Why?" he asks, voice soft. "Why do you wish to know how I'd feel and what'd I do? Do you know someone who's…" He trails there, abandoning that question in favor of another one. "…Are you?" She doesn't look as if she's with child, but neither did Soriana when she told him, so that's not saying much. "..Or, has M'kal..?"

Marel supplies, "I don't know," in answer, and she could just as well be talking about whether she doesn't know if she's going to make an order in time, or whether a customer will be returning, from her detached, flat tone of voice. It's not very clear which question she's responding to, until she slowly lifts her gaze to Ka'el, icy-green eyes full of a dread that doesn't taint the rest of her features. She looks away far more quickly, and off across the shop again. "…Isyriath… He caught a little while ago and—" She looks down at her feet. "I should have just shocked myself and stopped him," the brownrider mutters. "No-one would've known if I'd used it for a green flight."

She doesn't know. Ka'el doesn't mean to cringe, but he does just slightly. "Ah, Marel…" he says, attempting to curl an arm around her shoulderto side-hug her against him. "I'm sorry. If this is somethin' you don't want, then I'm sorry." He frowns a little at the reminder of her contraption. Her shock collar, for lack of a better term for it. "I don't like that thing. I know it's none of my business, but I don't. I'm glad you didn't use it. Stopping him from chasing every time he wants to has to have bad effects in the long run, for you and for him." He exhales a slow breath. "But,that's not what's important.." he says softly and slowly. "You…should ask about the signs. You might be worrying over nothing. But… if you are, you need to talk to M'kal. Everybody reacts differently to things. He may be fine. He may be happy. ..He may not be, but that's something you guys can work out."

Marel leans and lets him pull her in against him without fighting the motion, but she can't bring herself to curl an arm around him, as if she feels that she doesn't deserve the hug at all. "…I think having not had a cycle since is sign enough," she says dejectedly. "…M'kal… I don't believe he's ready to be a father. Not yet. I don't know. I certainly don't think he's ready to be a father to someone else's kid. Happy is something I don't think he'd be, whatever the situation." She shrugs one shoulder, her focus landing on a nearby flower. "No-one likes the anklet but me," she says, matter of fact. "And it's not that I like it, but I need it. Jethaniel understands that much. And if I am…" expecting, "then I suppose I'd better stop wearing it, until I figure out what to do." She slants a look up at Ka'el. "…Seryth's not… due, is she?"

Despite her lack of encouragement for him to do so, Ka'el keeps his arm around her. Supportive is his hold. Firm is his grip. And.. "Oh…" Yes, those definitely are the same sort of signs that Soriana told him. The edges of his mouth pull down as she speaks of M'kal, but he shakes his head in the end. "He might surprise you. Faranth knows I wasn't ready for Soriana to tell me she was with child," it's easier to say now, six and a half months later. "But now.. I don't feel the same way. I don't know if 'ready' is the correct word to describe me, but … the idea of the baby isn't as shocking." Granted, this is a child he fathered. Marel's predicament is far more complex. First child. Someone else's child. He nods about not wearing the anklet for a while, relieved for that despite the circumstances. As for Seryth's cycle? "Don't look at me," he says, shrugging the shoulder furthest from her. "I couldn't begin to guess when the golds rise. But…seeing that she rose right before Luraoth, I'd say she's not due for a bit." There are other golds who need to take to the sky! "..You know," he says, voice vaguely hesitant, "You don't…have to have it."

"But… if Kanekith knew, you'd tell me, wouldn't you? If Kanekith thought she was soon to rise. He'd have to know, wouldn't he?" Marel presses, tipping her head back against his shoulder. "You would tell me, wouldn't you?" she says again, with sudden intensity, as if the issue of her mother's queen rising is the most important matter to be dealt with. At her sides, her fingers curl and uncurl before she murmurs, "…If there is an it, I know I don't need to keep it," in agreement. "But, before I decide whether I'm going to do that… I guess I need to figure out whether I'd be doing it for me or because I think M'kal won't like it. I need to figure out whether I want to keep it." She idly scuffs one heel against the floor. "And go to the Infirmary. I just… if I am, I don't… want anything happening before I know what I want."

Ka'el nods in answer. "Yes. If Kanekith knew, I'd tell you. Kanekith has an eye for the queens, and so you'd know pretty early if something was up. I promise I'll tell you," he says, lips holding a gentle frown. "Don't worry about that." Awful as Isyriath chasing Seryth is, she has bigger fish to fry now. Even though this fish is merely a tiny blip in her body right now. "But hey…it sounds like you have your head on straight, you know? Babies are … a big thing," he says, as if he has any experience at all. "And choosin' not to have it is a big thing too. It's good that you don't want to decide that too quick. It's good that you know it isn't all just about what M'kal thinks or wants. I'd.. advise you talk to your ma about it too. She helped Soriana and I a lot, and I know she'd want to know what's going on with you." He smiles encouragingly at her. "And hell, I'm just about a professional now with this whole 'getting ready' thing. You can always come to me for anything. Anytime."

"Thank you," Marel says softly, now reaching to loop an arm around his waist and lean a little closer, though she keeps her head dipped down to try and avoid too much study of her expression, as closed-off as it may be. "You won't… tell her, will you? Not before I know… or I've thought…" Whether the implication is that if her decision goes in a particular direction, she won't tell Thea at all is unclear. "I'm still going to send you a just less than obnoxious amount of flowers, whatever happens," she jokes, low-voiced. "Not too many, just enough to be pretty. And make sure that, if anyone gives you flowers with lots of pollen, that you don't get them too near the baby, or Soriana, or the baby's clothes. Some pollen doesn't wash out." She closes her eyes again and sighs. "I should go and get some lunch, since I missed it, if you're heading that way?"

"I won't say a word to your ma. You have my word," is Ka'el's promise to her. It will be an easy one to keep. Her secret is not for him to tell, and he doesn't aim to make this any more difficult than it already has proven to be for her. He leans over a little so that his other arm can loop around her too, and he squeezes her gently in a playful sort of way. "I expect nothing but the best of the just-less-than-obnoxious amount of flowers from you, Marel. Complete with a just-vaguely-annoying amount of frill." He grins now and his arms fall away from her as he heeds her warnings. "Flowers away from baby and Soriana. Got it." He gives her a quick salute, indeed storing that bit of information away because … he had no clue that some pollens were so durable! "Lunch? … Huh. I've almost forgotten that that was a meal that people ate every day. Lunch. I always seem to work through mine, so I'd be happy to walk you that way and grab some myself!" He leans away from the counter, offering an arm. "Things will be fine, Marel," he says, tone suddenly serious. "Things always seem to work out even when they start out difficult. This'll be no different, I'm sure of it." With that said, he heads off with her in search of a midday meal to hopefully be shared together.

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