Family, Neighbors, Friends

Xanadu Weyr – Beach

The unerring range of subdued white rises and falls in a multitude of sandy dunes, creating an endless amount of tiny valleys constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of a dragon. Smoothing out as it slopes gently to the edge of the deep blue water, the sand darkens and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect. The beach itself is set along a low cliff - the height lessoning as one heads eastwards, blocking a portion of the beach from direct access.

The wide wide stretch of water opens up to the east, the far distant shore way beyond the horizon and the beach curves ever so slowly round to east and west, distant arms of land embracing the wind-ruffled Caspian Lake. East leads up to the mouth of the Rubicon River, where the protecting cliff is merely an arms length higher then the sand, and beyond that, a winding road leading out of Xanadu's territory. Westwards, the beach narrows as the cliff swings out, leaving a path wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to the sheltered cove designated the Weyrling Beach. However, cut in the cliff face to the north are a variety of rough, wide staircases, providing access to the clearing and to the meadow.

Evening at Xanadu usually finds the beach nearly deserted with most folks in at dinner and it is this time that Thea usually seeks solitude from the crush of folk in the caverns and offices. This evening is no different; the junior has a bit of time before the nannies close the nursery for the day and so here she is, hands stuffed in the pockets of a light jacket worn to keep the brisk Spring breeze off the lake from chilling her. She seems at peace, relaxed if not a little tired, hair whipping back from her face as she gazes out across the lake enjoying the last of the pinks and peaches dancing with glints of gold upon the water - Rukbat kisses the world as it takes its leave of the day.

Taozyuth wings out of the sky, pinions spread wide as he coasts down to a soft landing on the sand, being especially careful not to spray sand everywhere. As his great paws plant upon the ground, his head swings around, spying Thea's form, and he rumbles a soft greeting. Upon his neck, N'shen cranes perilously far over the dragon's shoulder, trying to espy what it is that had captured the bronze's attention. Lips quirking slightly in a lopsided smile, he heaves his leg over and slides down the beast's leg, landing nimbly on his feet. "Miss Thea, I hope we're not intruding." Look, ma, he got clothes to go with his boots.

It's not hard to catch the sight of something as huge as a bronze landing out of the corner of her eye, and thus, Thea turns to watch the landing, pale eyes moving over Taozyuth's form assessingly, noting his movement through the air with a practiced eye. There's a smile quirking her lips at the sight of his small rider, but no alarm for that leaning. So familiar, that perilous lean! Just like his father. She turns her steps towards the pair and as she does, the capricious winds conspire to tumble her dark hair into her face. She pulls both hands from her pockets; one waves at N'shen while the other sweeps her hair back so she can see. "Not at all," she assures the boy easily before adding respectfully to the young bronze, "Good evening Taozyuth." She notes the weyrling's appearance with a fond smile, but no comment about his clothes. Instead, "He's grown well, N'shen. You must be proud. You've done a fine job with him."

"Meh. He did it himself." Slapping the bronze lightly on his leg, N'shen steps forward, trailed by his lifemate as the pair move to intercept the weyrwoman. "What brings you out here this evening?" he asks, perhaps shifting the subject from himself. He gives a sidelong glance to the horizon and the rapidly setting sun, then lets his eyes slide back to Thea's, offering a look of polite curiosity.

Thea makes the sound of mild disagreement in her throat, eyes dance with amusement, "Well, you get the credit for his hide care and the fact he hasn't split it overeating, how's that?" She could go on about how they haven't overflown or come to grief *Between* but instead she leaves it there with a casual head tilt to indicate the coast, answers easily, "My favorite time of day to walk. Peacefully quiet out here when the crowds are chowing down." She's still in her office clothes, but sand is a relatively clean thing and so she settles to sit, patting the sand beside her invitingly, squinting as she tilts a look up at him and elaborates. "I like to watch the sunset." It ends on a questioning note. Unspoken: watch it with me?

N'shen hesitates, clearly deciding whether to intrude further on her peace, but, after only a brief moment, slides down to sit next to her. Folding his legs in front of him, he wraps his arms around his knees and rests his chin upon them, gazing out at the sunset. "I like watching it too, sometimes," he admits, shrugging one shoulder. "It's a nice, quiet time - that moment after the day's work and before the evening takes hold." Chuffing contentedly, Taozyuth moves to settle in at their backs, shifting so his side presents a nice backrest to the two as he angles his head to gaze in the same direction as the riders.

If the weyrwoman notes that hesitation, she makes no comment on it. Instead, she draws her legs up in similar fashion, arranging her thick, flowing skirts for comfort, her head ducked to hide a sudden grin. It's only a moment before her voice is devoid of the laughter she's squelching, "That's… very poetic, N'shen. You should write-" she leans forward just a bit as Taozyuth settles in, then, with a grateful pat to his side, leans back, "-that down." Silent for a span of time, watching as the sun dips to touch the water, she finally remarks, "I'm glad the boots fit." A casual gesture with fingers of the hand nearest the weyrling to his feet. "D'had wasn't sure what size you'd need."

N'shen glances down at his feet, at the boots so carefully shined - it's clear he's been taking very good care of the gift. His lips twitch in an echo of his former grin, the one so rarely seen since that day of revelations in the Caverns. "I'm no poet," he says softly. "Tao is though, they were his words, mostly. 'E's been teaching me how to speak right." Their backrest rumbles contentedly, and a chuff comes from the direction of the bronze's head. "He says that people will listen t' me more if I don't sound so young, and it's important to be listened to." A hint of dubiousness laces the boy's voice, as if he's not sure of it. "And the boots fit me fine. They're a bit big, but that's all to the good, as I'm still growing." Indeed, he's put on another several inches just since their supper together in the weyrbarn.

Far be it for Thea to contradict someone's lifemate. "I like the way you speak just fine," she tells the boy quietly, noting that all too-rare smile of his with eyes gone sober. Her tone is light enough as she continues, "But others may not be so accepting." She pauses, then adds thoughtfully, "The trick is to know which ones matter." Leaning forward, the junior traces light fingers in the sand beside her feet, the beginnings of a simple picture. Overhead the plaintive call of sea birds echo as they head inland to their roosts, the soft rush of the waves mutes as the breeze begins to die with the coming of night. Sliding the weyrling a sidelong look, the intent study hopefully hidden by her hair and belied by the casual way she notes, "You have your bronze, you'll be out of the barracks soon and you know your father. Your life is complete now, hmm?" Her eyes fix on the peach-colored sand as her finger finishes the hull of a ship and begins a graceful sail.

"Well. It's a childish way of speaking," N'shen replies, correctly. "An' I gotta learn to speak right, especially since I fly bronze." He glances over his shoulder at Taozyuth, his expression filled with his affection for his lifemate. "I mean, bronzes fly queens, you know." The sidelong look he gives her is sober - even if she hadn't considered the possible rammifications of his Impression, /he/ had. "Though, of course," he adds carefully, "I will be doing my best to ensure that some flights we won't be around for." Reaching out, he briefly pats her arm, before tucking his hand against his leg again. "Complete?" Unaccountably, his cheeks darken with a flush. "Mostly," he agrees, choking slightly.

Oh she has, says the ever-so-slight wince at those words about bronzes and queens. Hopefully it's disguised by her sudden reach for a broken shell to aid her artwork. Carefully, as Thea concentrates on her drawing, "Sometimes… no matter how hard you try, N'shen, plans go awry." An unreadable flicker of green towards him and a faint glimmer of an apologetic smile, "Perhaps D'had might have a solution should you ever need a backup plan." She doesn't go into details, just works on the delicate rigging and spires to the ship with the edge of that shell. Her chuckle at his comforting pat dies off at the choked affirmation from the boy, her hand hovers over her drawing as she peeks over in time to see his pinkened cheeks. One brow lifts, "Mostly?" The sigh of the dying breeze, the call of frogs in the gathering darkness fill the space before she asks, "Care to share?" The back of her shell creates fluffy clouds above the ship while she waits.

"What happens, happens, or so Tao says." The boy may not be so sanguine about it, but he's not one to dwell too far on the future, even though Seryth can't be that far from her cycle, if the weyrlings' ages are anything to judge by. "Care to share?" The slight deepening of N'shen's blush belays his next words. "Nothing of conse- consequ- nothing that matters," he says, firmly. "We graduate soon. Then - well, I don't know." Resting his chin on his knees again, he stares broodingly out to the ocean. "I'm supposed to find a weyr and stuff, but… I dunno if I'm ready for that. To live alone." Despite his increasing height and deepening voice, he's still a newly Turned fourteen, and it shows in his very uncertainty about taking on an adult life, and adult tasks. "Never been alone."

Thea hmms doubtfully at that, "To an extent, yes. You'll find as a rider there's a lot that is out of our control." She says it as if it's no more important than what cook chooses to make for breakfast and a carefully negligent shrug, her expression hidden by her hair as she concentrates on her sand drawing. He doesn't share, so she is left to decipher as best she can what is of obvious consequence that he'd flush and stutter over it. A ship's wheel and captain later, she remarks, "You know… D'had does care, N'shen, even if he doesn't say it." Between her strokes in the sand, she glances at the boy by her side. She may have been way off with that, for she considers his next words with a slow nod. "The barracks will be empty and lonely until the next group of weyrlings join you," she points out reasonably and obviously mulling over his options. "Has V'dim made any suggestions?"

"Him." The scorn with which N'shen drawls the word is good-natured, and it's obvious that the dour Weyrlingmaster has earned at least this Weyrling's respect. "No. He hasn't mentioned it, except to hint that I better not have any grand hopes for a while about what wing I'm in. I want search and rescue," he adds with a sigh, "but I'm not old enough for that, I know. Probably end up a messenger." Another sigh, and he lapses into silence briefly. "Still, he hasn't said anything about housing, and even the youngest of the clutch before ours ended up weyred. Just being nervy, I guess, about it. I should be okay with Taozyuth to watch out for me."

At first that scornful 'him' could be construed to refer to the mention of the weyrsecond's name and Thea opens her mouth to protest. But then she closes it again with naught but a puzzled look for the total lack of response to her assurance about the boy's newfound father. She catches her lower lip between her teeth, nodding slowly to the rest of it. "Search and Rescue is a fine goal, N'shen," she says with warm approval. Alas, there is a catch! "You need to get bigger first, though. Rescues take physical strength." Back to her drawing she adds some other figures standing in the prow of the ship, "Talk to D'had about S&R, he used to lead that wing." Her mind has been working on the other issue for it's really only the space of time it takes for her to draw a long breath, "I know the other weyrlings will be on their own, but you're welcome to stay with us for a few turns." She's sincere, but the offer is made with a light tone. No pressure there. Her eyes lift to the full-grown bronze behind them and she adds, "He wouldn't fit inside, but then Seryth sleeps outside. Always has, even at my old weyr." Her eyes glint merrily in the fading light as she raises a finger to her lips and shares with a twinkle, "Except when she snuck into the empty hatching grounds to hug the sands in winter."

N'shen makes a show of considering Thea's offer, then slowly shakes his head. "Three's a crowd," he says with a slow smile, tilting his head to gaze at her. "I think Tao and I would be better off getting our own place. But isn't there an empty weyr near yours? Maybe it would be a good idea to, you know… stick close for a while." Close enough that he can wander over when he's lonely - or she can come running if he gets scared. Not that the latter reason would ever occur to him. Anatashi certainly wasn't the type to soothe a young boy's nightmares. "And I can babysit," he adds, perking up a little. "For the twins. I really can, and if I'm close by then you won't always have to bother the nannies, right?"

Amused, "Well, it would be five, not three." Thea's smile fades as she listens further. "That place?" Dismay colors her voice, "The roof's been smashed in by a fallen tree!" She blinks at the lad, troubled. "You've seen it, haven't you? The tree's still there! And it was flooded last fall." She's pondering his other options, but really. There aren't any. "Would be nice to have you close, and we could have a look at the place to see if it can be fixed up, but N'shen, really. You'd be welcome at our place. Hali has the loft, but she's old enough to live in the resident's cavern." As for babysitting, she chuckles, "I'm more concerned you have access to them more often, but I'd trust you with them, yeah." If she'll trust, D'had to watch them…

"Five is even worse," Nash says softly. "Miss Thea, let's give D'had some time to come to grips with the idea that he has a thirteen turn-old son before we force me upon him in a situation he can't escape? I don't mind some work to fix up the place, it'll give me something to do with my time. I think it would be best," he adds, firmly, and behind them, Taozyuth rumbles his agreement, vibrating against their backs. "I don't want to overwhelm him and drive him off, but yes - I'd like to be close enough to spend more time with the twins. I never had siblings before."

Thea inhales, opens her mouth but her protest dies on her lips when Taozyuth rumbles. Her eyes drift out over the water line to where it purples in the gathering dusk as he talks. Finally, she nods, "I just… you should get to be where you're wanted-" her eyes slide a pointed look at him, "-and he -does- even if he doesn't say much - before you have to be on your own." She's nodding to his reasoning though. "/We/ will fix it up together." She'll remain firm on that. "And you will sleep on the couch at least until the roof doesn't leak." If she has to hog-tie him there! She's silent for a moment after his comment about siblings, leans her head back against the bronze to study the first faint stars that begin to twinkle overhead as she struggles with something. Finally, softly, "N'shen, you have more siblings than just Muir and Marella. D'had has Hali- She's here at Xanadu -just a few turns younger than I am." She swallows, grins sheepishly at him, then moves on, "And he has Resha, who's fourteen and Darce, eleven. They're at Ierne with their mother." She frowns, "It's really not fair that Anatasha kept you from them all these turns."

"She had her reasons. Mother doesn't always consider others when she does things, but she never does them out of spite." Loyal despite what she's done to him, N'shen defends Anatasha now. "What's done is done, and now isn't the time for, uhm… what's the word?" He glances over his shoulder at Taozyuth, who chuffs with amusement. "Re-crim-in-ations." Looking pleased as he sounds out the word carefully, the boy nods his head firmly. "Those. I accept the offer of help, though," he adds, turning a charming smile on Thea. "It'd be a lot for just me, and maybe if you - and D'had, even - help, we can get it all nice and weather-tight in a jiff."

It amazes Thea, the wisdom coming from such a young person and her expression shows this. She flickers a considering glance at Taozyuth, then nods, her expression relaxing. "You know… you're right, N'shen. It's probably for the best. If you'd known D'had before… well." Her face is tinged with a faint sorrow, the waves drawing her gaze as she tries to explain, "He wasn't the man you know now. He worked hard at forgetting something that happened long ago." She doesn't say anything about whiskey or women. N'shen has grown up at Xanadu, he's probably heard the talk. She draws a deep breath and chuckles dryly, "Thanks for letting us help with your new home." But there's something she wants to show him: she gestures with that shell to that picture of the ship she's drawn in the sand. "You also have uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins galore on the Vega Run. Your father's family." She watches his face and lets that sink in. He's inherited a -huge- family.

It sinks only lightly - likely, until he's seen this family, it will only be an abstract to him. Still, N'shen starts slightly, staring at the doodle in the sand. "I do?" he asks. "Huh. Mother never talks of her family. I only know enough t' know that her Impression of a green was something of a minor scandal. They were Holders, an' she told me they'd only think bad of me, being bastard-get. Not that I cared much about them," he adds thoughtfully. "Family wasn't really a big deal for me, growing up. Can't miss what you never knew, y'know?"

Thea nods, "You do." She cants her head to one side as he talks, understanding growing on her face, a sound of soft agreement in her throat, "Some holders can be that way," she says quietly. "My da is. I can't go home to visit because he of that." She shrugs that away, but gestures to the drawing, "Your father's family are Traders. Sea faring, good folks. And you may not miss it, but they'll want to meet you one of these days." Her hand sweeps across that drawing, smoothing the sand, giving him a keen look. "Your life is changing in many ways lately, isn't it?" Unspoken in there is whether he's alright with it.

"Change happens, Miss Thea," Nash replies, his lips curving in a soft smile as he glances over his shoulder at Taozyuth. "I couldn't tell you how I might have handled it a turn or so ago, but I can't argue with the wonder of change when I have him sitting at my back." He jerks a thumb at the bronze, who chuffs contentedly and gives a vibrating rumble of contentment. "And knowing I've family to stand with me as it changes makes it bearable - especially since you're part of that family."

Ah yeah. About that. Earnestly Thea tells him, "I'm glad, too N'shen. Regardless of my initial reaction." She leans to make sure he can see the sincerity in her eyes as she says that. "Changes are going to keep coming, too. Some of them, regardless of your training will be a surprise. And I was surprised and upset, though I shouldn't have been. Family…" there's a soft smile on her lips as she admits, "helps a lot in those times. D'had helped me get my priorities straight." She leans back, eyes the dark skies contentedly, "You have us… and we… we have you."

"I'm happy to have you," is N'shen's simple comment, and he offers her a sweetly child-like smile. "Told you once you were more of a mother to me than my real mother. I'm glad it's for real now." That's right. She's his father's Weyrmate. That makes her his step-mother, of sorts. Good enough, it seems, for him.

Stepmother. In the stories they never play nicely. Thea takes the title as a compliment though, returning that smile with a bit of a laugh and part snort of pretended offense. "I'm only ten turns older than you are!" It's a weak protest, though; she's honored. Night has fallen while they’ve been talking and she's noting the hour. "I'll check into getting the weyr for you. Shouldn't be a problem." She rises, brushing the sand from her skirt. "I'll see you tomorrow. Good night, N'shen, Taozyuth." Family, neighbors, friends. It's nice when all three merge.

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