Bellyache Bonding

Xanadu Weyr - Temple of All Dooms
The important thing is there's a fire pit outside and a homestead.

The right place to be tonight is tucked up in the wooden, padded chaise lounges that face the firepit built up on one side of the wasn't-this-expansive-before-it-met-Xermiltoth-and-his-son clearing. It's a pretty raised stone affair designed for repeated use and being put to it after the long day at the office, the break from one another's company for all the practical elements of the end of the work day (even if it's later already than when others' work days often end). The important thing to focus on here, with the fire crackling on this fine summer night, stars already winking above… is that there are s'more fixings on a tray on the low table between the chairs. There are even sticks for the marshmallows that won't require anyone to burn their fingers and klah-confections to melt between the graham crackers and there's beer to go with it all. It's not the first time F'yr has asked Risa to come over to his place, but the instances aren't frequent, given their individual demanding schedules. But it's nice, right? F'yr finishes tending to feeding the fire and moves to settle back into his seat. "I didn't know what to get you for Turnover." He says after a moment, the date a few days off as yet. "Rhody seemed to have practical things like sweaters and mittens and babies covered." That's wry. Poor proddy Rhody and her nesting-instincts-on-overdrive. POOR F'YR who tried to tease her by suggesting the sack-lunch (that each of them got that day) with sandwich and cut up vegetables wasn't quite right and Rhody burst into tears and gave him the "After all I've done for you…!" break down. Perhaps some people who were teased successfully might have appreciated the chagrin on his face after that incident earlier in the day. "Is there anything you want or need from me that I'm not already giving you?" Talk about a loaded question, bronzerider. The worst part, of course, is that the big blond really seems to mean it so earnestly and it would be so easy to tease him.

CAN ONE BLAME THE TREES FOR BOWING TO THE MAGNIFICENCE OF ONE (1) XERMILTOTH AND ONE (1) GLORIOTH? Not Risali, and if one gains a few more acres in which to build BRIDGES TO NOWHERE and house wooden chaises and s'more-roasting-pits with such utter deference, WHO IS THERE TO COMPLAIN? … Also not Risali. Mostly because it's not her land — well, it is her land in the sense that it's Xanadu's and F'yr is not his own human, and Risali technically oversees all of the housing, and WE'RE GETTING A BIT TECHNICAL AND OFF POINT, THE POINT IS THAT WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT IT BEING THAT KIND OF LAND. It belongs, in this case, to F'yr the Wonderful and Glorioth the Valiantly Magnificent Bravest of The Brave, Herdslayer of Pern, Dole-Outer of Encouragement, KING IN HIS OWN MIND. Which is all very unimportant except that Risali is, as of current, an invader upon these lands, laying claim to a chair in which she has curled up on one side and turned to face F'yr, her arms tucked beneath her head, those grey eyes alight with mischief as they meet the bronzerider's and linger there. It is nice. It's very nice, and the heat of the fire sending goosebumps along her arms in contrast to persistent weather is pretty nice too. But yes, bless poor Rhodelia and her baby fever, bless the proddy impracticality of trying to Keep It Together when you aren't sure if every desire/want/need that runs through you at any given moment belongs to you or the other half of your soul. SO IS THERE SOMETHING SHE WANTS OR NEEDS THAT SHE ISN'T ALREADY GETTING FROM HIM? Did F'yr SET HIMSELF UP FOR THIS? Risali seems to be of the opinion that yes, yes he did if the way she pulls her bottom lip between her teeth to combat the sudden threat of a smile tells the man anything. "F'yr," she says instead of answering him, sitting up slow without sitting up completely, so that her legs are still tucked toward her, so that she's sitting more on her hip, so that her arms are pressed to the padding of the chair she's taken for her own as too-damn much hair falls over one shoulder and those brows rise along with another flicker of humor quirking at the corners of her lips. "I want to play a game. Do you have more ingredients?" LIKE, ALL OF THE INGREDIENTS? She'll even help you carry them if you're willing to let her step past the threshold. At least, that's what that not-quite-innocent-but-feigning-an-attempt-anyway smile says. "I will tell you all of my secrets then," comes a promise that's mischievous at best. "But only if you tell me yours." PINKY PROMISE.

If F'yr did set himself up for this, would he actually know he did? The question must be asked given the way he blink-blink-blinks at Risali's lip-bitten not-smile. He probably thought through the previous question; almost certainly he did, but apparently he failed to adequately consider the RISALI FACTOR that means he's already in much too deep (but, honestly, that's been every day since he got to Xanadu more than 2 turns ago now). He continues to have that look that is one part expectation, one part uh oh, one part intrigue, one part go on and all parts cautiously game for whatever she might be about to tell him. Can he be blamed that his lips press hard to one another and his eyes go a little big, brows creeping up just a little as she pairs the next sentences together. As often is the case when F'yr is with Risali, there comes this moment where he can go with it, or question it. Truly, he does choose the latter route sometimes, often enough that when he's grabbing the arms of his chair to leaver himself on up, it's not a wholly predictable movement. "Sure. There's more in the kitchen." It sounds like such a simple request for turnover, no? How could he even think about denying her this? A game. For impending turnover in just a few days time. WHAT COULD GO WRONG? He can't seem to resist adding a faux thoughtful purse of his lips and a side to side slow bobble of his head. "I'm not sure you can handle my secrets." He has to claim it, doesn't he? It's a point of principle. He manages it deadpan. Then he ruins it by grinning at her. "But if you want to try…" It's not really an offer he'd make to just anyone and this was a game until about the word 'to' and then it was abruptly, deeply sincere. They can get the game back though, if they want, even if he might have the slightest blush on his cheeks, visible in the fire. FORTUNATELY FOR EVERYONE, Glorioth is ON DUTY as he always is — HERO DUTY THAT IS. If being sentinel tonight is going to turn out to mind the fire in the relatively safe location of the stone fire pit, raised up away from the ground and right near the stream, then he shall be sure no FIRE FOE-VILLAINS start SHIFTING THEIR EYES at HIS clearing for as long as it might take his F'yrless friend to go and return with the ingredients.

Perhaps the movement is not wholly predictable, no. But expected? Yes. There is just enough expectation in Risali to expect that F'yr will rise to the occasion, just enough to ensure that a lack of concession on F'yr's behalf may have ended in the moue pull of her lips and a flicker of disappointment behind silvered greys. But HERE WE ARE, facing down the fact that WE WILL NEVER KNOW, because that smile is only growing, grey eyes fixated on the bronzerider at her side (or an approximate of that distance) as he rises, as excitement bleeds into her posture and bids that she rise too. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? ONLY EVERYTHING. Thanks for asking! And so that smile shifts, takes on an edge of something sharper, a wicked kind of clever more akin to what one might expect to find themselves on the receiving end of when facing Ila'den. Except Risali is not Ila'den, and this caricature of his private amusement is less feral, less predatory, less barbed. It's mostly a hint that Risali has registered F'yr's words as a challenge… and accepted it. "That's okay, F'yr," Risali offers around the scrunch of her nose, a hint of canines as that usually-soft voice drops to affect a stage whisper. "Because — do you want to know a secret?" And HERE RISALI COMES (as if F'yr did not expect it), careful footsteps bringing her closer, closer, closer until she's got one hand on his arm and can lean in until she bumps bodily into his side, grinning up from somewhere near the height of his elbow in her sudden forward lean. Did she just snap her teeth at him? She did. And it's all the warning F'yr will get before she utilizes his chair to earn her a couple of inches for leverage and then jumps onto his back. There's a huff of breathy laughter, delight as she hooks legs about his waist and brings her arms around his shoulders. And now she whispers somewhere near the shell of his ear that, "You can't handle my secrets, either." AND THEN YES. TAP, TAP GO HER FEET INTO HIS SIDES AS IF, IN LIEU OF DRAGON OR RUNNER, HE HAS BECOME HER VALIANT STEED. Risali leans back just enough for the gusto with which she does it to be alarming, though she trusts F'yr enough to keep her steady as she orders, "Onward!" INTO THE INDOORS, INTO WHERE THERE IS FOOD AND THINGS FOR THE TAKING, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHERE SHE POINTS WITH HER INDEX FINGER FROM OVER HIS SHOULDER WHEN SHE SLAMS ONCE MORE INTO HIS BACK. This doesn't mean she didn't hear the sincere offer to try to garner his secrets, it merely means that Risali is as Risali often has been: not one to pry. If it is important enough that she needs to know, F'yr will tell her. Otherwise? It's not any of her business. But that knowledge has secondary importance (for now) to the fact that Risali is CLEARLY UP TO NO GOOD. Because IF AND WHEN F'yr takes them inside to retrieve more ingredients, Risali wants a little bit of everything. E V E R Y T H I N G. Do you have cheese? BRING IT. ANY SAUCES? GRAB ALL OF THAT TOO. Fruit, vegetables, things of questionable origin — SHE WANTS THEM ALL, and the increasing laughter behind each faux demand is probably a crystal clear hint that F'yr is going to live to regret whatever comes next. But hey, at least he'll be alive to regret it. DON'T WORRY, GLORI. THE ONLY MONSTROCITY BANKING ALONG YOUR HORIZONS IS A MUSTARD YELLOW QUEEN, and she seems more interested in… well. Not this. Not in this moment.

ONWARD F'YRLESS STEED~~ Well, he goes. Predictably, for this instance, F'yr is complicit in his reduced status to stable stud, shifting with practiced movements (because this is hardly the first time) to help Risa get her seat on the only figurative saddle. These things are automatic; what isn't automatic is how he pauses ever so slightly when she imparts her secret to him. Never let it be said, of course, that the F'yrociously (and foolishly?) loyal bronzerider didn't have another pause - when Risa started to get that Ila echo in her expression. Only the oblivious or those without a sense of self-preservation wouldn't actually notice. He notices, he just carries on anyway. He leans in, figuratively, into the idea, to the game, to the moment. That's carried him through unscatehd before and better for taking the risks. Will it carry through this time as he steps off into a long stride that becomes longer, until he's charging across the intervening space toward his homestead at the urging of those feet. ONWARD! indeed. It's not an unfamiliar path for either them, for of all people, Risali has probably received as many invitations as any (read: R'hyn) to visit F'yr in the sacred space that is his very own. There are, of course, the variety of tiny heathens and their caretakers who come without invitation, but F'yr has never seemed to actively mind, even if he only extends real invitations a few times a month at most; that's hardly the sum of the time spent with some of his favorite people anyway. Up the few steps onto the low deck and in the front doors rather than the ground level tower doors this time. He's taking them the shortest route from outside to kitchen this way, zipping his way into the cozy kitchen that may be the heart of this place, even if the tower is undoubtedly it's soul. Rather that make the attempt to dodge about and collect the formidable amount of food he's stashed in his kitchen with a smol goldrider micromanaging and literally on his back about everything, he pauses at the wide island that dominates the kitchen space and turns to dump her, unceremoniously, perhaps even laughing by now onto the surface. She wants some of everything? This will take time and honestly, he's going to hold out on her. She knows it, doesn't she? He would. This is F'yr and food after all. But what's his is hers, by and large, food or otherwise and he comes traipsing back to the counter with another arm full, sliding it onto the empty space next to her and pauses, because… for all the fun they're having, for all that this is a game of some as yet unknown variety… he's coming up short on the fun and has meandered into the 'troubled.' He moves, intending to come to stand in front of Risali, maybe even between her knees if she's on the edge of the counter to search her face a long moment before he murmurs, "Real? Or not real?" Sometimes it can be hard to tell. Sometimes he has to ask. He probably figures that it's an understood joke that Risali "couldn't" handle his secrets; he probably thinks she could handle the Red Star in solo combat if she had to, really, but now he's seeking her eyes. "That I can't handle your secrets?" Not even a breath later comes… "If you wanted to share them, you know I'd want you to. Even if I can't." Is this a game? It was supposed to be, wasn't it? … Oops, now he's searching his North Star for direction. If his hands have fallen to her knees, it's for casual contact, possibly not even noticed within the framework that is their friendship without expectation that holds so many such casual touches; just connection in a moment when he needs it.

Does Risali notice that moment of tension, that brief pause, the friction in such revelations? If she does, the goldrider doesn't mention it. She kicks her heels, issues commands, and laughs at the startling, jarring impact of HER SMOLL ASS on his NOT SO SMOLL (and RUDELY UNYIELDING) countertop. There's a, 'Oof,' for impact, a tiny, undignified, squeak, and then the heralding of her enjoyment by way of even more laughter. Neither laughter nor hard deposits of her tiny person onto even harder spaces can act as a deterrent, however, and so it is with ample gusto that Risali relays all the many manner of things she requires of those items F'yr does not hold out on sharing. PICKLED THINGS, SWEET THINGS, SAVORY THINGS, SALTY THINGS. The conflict clash of so many potential flavors is only growing more exponentially alarming by the minute, the mischief in Risali only expanding with each armful-bounty the bronzerider fills her space with. And then suddenly F'yr is filling her space with him; suddenly the transition from playful dissidence to this (the weight of this question, the gravity of implications, the heat or F'yr's hands on her knees) brings her slamming into somber wakefulness, blinking grey eyes as they shed vestiges of humor and brows knit together in momentary confusion. And then it makes sense, and Risali's expression softens, lips pulling at one corner, one hand coming up to his cheek as she tilts her head and studies the lines of his face. "I know," that he would want her to tell him, she means. And she knows that because, "I want you to be able to tell me, too." His secrets, those vulnerable parts of his soul, those intimate things that make F'yr F'yr. "But I was reciprocating." His joke, she means, which might be why her fingers CLOSE ON THE SOFT GIVE OF HIS CHEEK, why the goldrider tugs it outward with a raise of her brows and a return of that slow, wicked smile. "Besides, I'm not exactly a woman of secrets." Does she hold the secrets of others? Sure. But those are not hers to share. "And anything I feel like it's important for you to know, you'll know." Meaning that anything she lapses on isn't done with intention; it's merely something she didn't think he would benefit in the knowledge of — like what conversations she'd had with Zyriden the day before (though she's prone to sharing those moments too). "What I know you're not going to handle is what is about to go down." THE CHALLENGE IS BACK, Risali dropping her hands as she reaches for the least appealing solo item in the stock-pile of share-worthy things. "Whoever can make the most disgusting thing wins, but we only win if the other can't finish it." THAT IS THE GAUGE. "Or whoever gags first — I'm not picky." Just cruel, apparently, with a blatant disregard for EITHER OF THEIR WELL-BEING. "And if you win, I will tell you what I want for turnover, and if I win, you have to tell me what you want for turnover. Deal?" It's a trap, F'yr. RUN.

O K A Y. L I S T E N, Y O U. F'yr does not, CONTRARY TO POPULAR IMAGINATION, have a limitless PANTRY in his kitchen. That being said, he comes with a more than respectable spread of FARM FAVORITES, from pickled things to sweet things from dried fruit to pickled watermelon rind to home baked bread. (But also listen, he might slap her hand if she tries to WASTE IT in the challenge later.) So, there's probably enough to satisfy the SMOLL QUEEN(rider) on her ISLAND THRONE SEAT. Or at least enough even if her want is greater than what his cabinets can disgorge through his labors. If they delved deep in the moment that becomes so, they might find that F'yr is sorry to dampen the festivities with even this much seriousness. But because theirs is a friendship without expectation where questions are allowed, he asks the one that matters to him. It doesn't fester, it doesn't carry over to keep him awake at night, he just asks. And more than that, when she gives him an answer, when blue eyes are studying grey, he listens, and truly? He hears. He understands. There's the smallest smile, BEFORE SOMEONE STARTS TUGGING HIS CHEEK. It doesn't stop him, of course from murmuring, "Okay." From almost saying more that might hold them in this serious space for a breath or two longer, but instead he's headbutting her. Okayokayokay, SUPER GENTLY, like, more of a tap of his forehead to hers, but with more of a press back than there usually is before he's pulling back after her challenge. "You're going to be singing a different tune by the time we finish." BOLD OF HIM, TO ASSUME EITHER OF THEM WILL SURVIVE THIS PARTICULARLY BAD AND GROSS IDEA. It's fine tho'. TALLY HO. "If you use up my bread, I'm taking the morning off to make more." He warns, which is ONLY FAIR. Of course, that's with the obligatory silent asterisk of footnote for: *GLORIOTH PERMITTING. "I will see your offer of valuable intelligence," about turnover gifts, "and raise you one piece of information the other person has been seeking." SUCH AS THE LOCATION OF CERTAIN "MISPLACED" FOOTWEAR/HEADWEAR/JACKET/WHATEVER HAPPENS TO BE THE VICTIM OF THE CURRENT OFFICE CHAOS. With no more wait, he's leaving her, because he's a cheater and he's getting a HEAD START making the GROSSEST COMBINATION OF THINGS HE CAN MANAGE, with much in the way of laughter and COMMENTARY, such as, "You know, I think that looks like something my sister craved when she was pregnant…" to TRASH TALK the competition for her CONFIDENCE.

WELL WHY NOT. LIMITLESS PANTRY OR BUST, F'YR. HOW CAN YOU CALL YOURSELF A LOVER OF FOOD IF YOUR STORES ARE NOT OVERCOME WITH THE BURDEN OF THAT VERY LOVE? Pretender. JUUUUST kidding. We are not kidding, however, about the joy with which Risali watches the arrival of mismatched ingredients, nor the laughter hinting at the very corners of her lips right up until he's in her space and that tiny, compact body is repurposing to listen. Just listen. Then cheek pull. Then laugh for headbutts that she catches by way of hands on his cheeks even as she rocks backward with the gentle movement. "Don't threaten me with a good time," Risali snipes back in the seconds, moments, before she's laughing again. "Faranth, F'yr. If you don't need more than the morning off after we've ingested whatever monstricities we're about to inflict upon each other, I'll just hand you my knot. I hear that we need somebody strong to head my position." And clearly an IRON STOMACH is just the show of badassery Xanadu needs. (Which is not a stretch with V'AYN AT THE HELMS. POISON. EVERYTHING!!!!!! We kid, we kid. He only poisons some of the things, and usually when they're pregnant.) Glorioth permitting, of course. "Never," is Risali's answer to key pieces of information that might reveal long-missing articles of clothing. "I told you, you'll never see those socks again." AND SHE MEANT IT. But Risali is grabbing several things (including some of that bread, which she grabs while locking eyes with the much taller man) before she hooks a finger through the loops of his waistband and hauls him by those means back out towards where there is FIRE. AND S'MORES. Listen, chocolate and marshmallows are clearly necessary for her half of this terrible idea. The point is that she does, eventually, settle him down to receive his EXTREMELY SWEET VERSION OF TRASHTALK, the kind that garners her laughter and, "Pretty sure that looks like something Leirith brought back after murdering a herdbeast," in turn. HOW'S THAT CONFIDENCE FEELING NOW, F'YR? Either way, it's companionable banter that carries them through a competition that they probably both lose. It's fine. That's friendship for you, enduring mutual abuse in the pursuit of fun — and perhaps accidentally letting a few important things slip to the wayside along the way. Nevermind that she's probably smearing some of that gross-food in his face afterward with much delight and peals of laughter that find her head tossed back. At least if they die, one of them will have had fun doing it.

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