What a Wonderful Caricature of Intimacy
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Pern - Rubicon River Road
The hard packed dirt and crushed gravel road runs alongside but well away from the Rubicon River. Dense jungle foliage runs presses close, sometimes even surrounding the road. Very rarely the road needs to forge the river and a sweeping stone structure, tall enough for river shipping to pass under, is built. Sign posts indicate the distance and direction to holds and halls along the road.


The horizon is swallowing Rukbat in the usual greedy way of day leading into night. It might have been a peaceful dusk perfect for solitary sunset-seeing, save for the noise. A section of the Rubicon River Road where the jungle does not press quite so close to the edges of the packed dirt and crushed gravel thoroughfare is alive. Not far from one of the bends in the river, the spot is well-suited to the purpose: making camp for the night. It's not just one trade caravan here, but rather a few indulging in the crossed paths having discharged the bulk of their trading business (information and goods) while the sun was still out, now there's a bonfire, booze and roasting meat being shared about by the raucous traders taking advantage of the unusual company of their fellows. There are a few here that stick out a little more than others, Tiridyn among them. His clothes don't quite sync up with the quality of most of the traders encamped here, being of slightly higher quality and in better repair, but that doesn't change that he's looking entirely at home laughing with a handful of people around his age before he's clapping a shoulder and moving his way to the opened keg of hardened cider, with his mug, cheeks a touch rosy in the firelight possibly from drink or just because his cheeks must be a little sore from the brightness of that smile that doesn't leave either his lips or his eyes even when he's left the eyes of the traders to see only his back.

The entrance of Hexik into the public eye comes in a way distinctly similar to Tiridyn, for the quality of his clothing also doesn't fit the garb of the traders knit around the campfire. How is that? Well, it's because the Healer is here, stripped naked to the waist, wearing… is that a pink chiffon skirt? it's a joke, it's definitely a joke, the smuggery of the smudged line of his lips speaking full volumes as to what the young man feels about this whole deal. He moves with painstaking steps (he's still wearing boots wtf) around the fire to come toward a young woman who's laughing so hard — CONVENIENTLY next to Tiridyn in line for hard cider — that she's crying, or she will be soon. And here Hex extravagantly juts out a hip, the better to display the skirt, and focuses his smirk on Tiridyn rather than the girl. "She bet me I wouldn't do this," he says, which sets the trader-girl off all over again. Half-naked and ridiculous in a fucking pink-ass skirt, without seeming too concerned about being ridiculous or half-naked in the first place, his voice is melodious and his cologne faintly smells like earthy woods and citrus. (those boots tho)

Well, obviously. Otherwise he would have to stop to tend to his feet, probably. Can't just go prancing around on any edge-of-the-jungle patch of dirt. It's the boots Tiridyn's eyes are on, but because he's getting his mug filled and the pink is caught next. It means there's a slow draw of dark eyes up to the jutted hip, and his gaze doesn't draw away until he's gotten to the healer's face. Only then does he flick a glance toward the laughing woman and his smile broadens in ready reflex. If he's fazed by this, it's in a way that seems to radiate some measure of approval. "What did you win?" If his response is a little understated, a little casual compared to the riotous laughter, maybe it's offset by the way his eyes are peeking at the Healer over his mug as he takes another sip, trying not to be real obvious that he's taking a second look at the bold choices of the night. When the cider mug lowers to be held by both hands at belly height, the other foreigner to these festivities is grinning. "An eigthmark?" He guesses, playful in his estimation of the display's worth. After all, this is what one does when one visits with traders, right? Talk about how good or bad a deal or bet someone made?

"An eighthmark?" Tiridyn's jab draws a laugh from the Healer, Hex's dark eyes turning to the clerk-in-the-wild. The suggestion of a smirk defies the draw of straight eyebrows together in something that would seem to presage a frown but doesn't quite get there. "I'll have you know this sight is worth at least a half-mark. Though Jocelyn doesn't seem to agree," the trader in question having drawn out — is that a fucking glass boot? Yes, that's a glass boot that's about to get filled with cider, and Hexik's sudden grin is infectiously excited 'cause hello, GIANT GODDAMNED BOOT OF ALCOHOL. "What's a place like you doing in a guy like here?" Hex inquires to Tiri whilst he waits (it's taking a TIME for that KEG to pour FAST ENOUGH… duh), his eyes sliding back to the trader with that same half-obscured smile invading his features.

"Well, Jocelyn obviously knows that you were just looking for an excuse." Tiridyn observes, not dimpling because he was not blessed that way, but with a cheeky quirk of a smile. He tosses it to the woman in question before letting his eyes return to the man in the lovely skirt. He steps closer to the keg and leans a little to look at that glass boot, curiously. "Here, you can take mine and I'll hold that for you. Showing off is thirsty work." He offers his mug in what is surely only a temporary trade, since it's taking so long for that boot to fill. "How's your poker face? Did you just want her to know you wanted it?" He lifts his brows at the peacock not-trader. "Just mixing business with pleasure. Riding along on the route with-" he twists to squint around the surrounding wagons to try to orient himself and then gestures to one. "What about you? Do you just like making bad bets with pretty girls?"

Jocelyn can be heard muttering something about Hex not needing any excuses, and the man in question's grin broadens subtly in response. If those dark eyes just finally seem to take a drifting gander downward to examine Tiri's own taste in clothes, well, Hex just does things on his own time, tyvm. Out-of-sequence, he laughs: "Maybe you can teach me. Poker, you know. I'm just so bad at it." His open grin is just a little touched with avarice of the most friendly sort, and enough self-confidence to sink a whole goddamned ship. It shows in how he shamelessly presses forward to grip Tiri's tankard only to toast him with the same. "To your health, and good bets with bad…" his attention flickers to Jocelyn, who is looking faintly annoyed, boot mostly finished, "…girls," doesn't seem to be what he was about to say, but he clinks the air and drinks to his own damned tune (because he can).

"I can hold this," Tiri offers, friendly, see that guileless smile? It's a good look on the slender man just an inch shorter than Hexik, himself. That comes with a step into the healer's space, hands moving to curl under the healer's hold on the glass boot and the other moving to take over the toggle for the keg. He'll finish it off while the skirted man helps himself to Tiridyn's cider. No big deal. Nothing to see, except Tiridyn's klah-with-cream colored shirt with patterns of cream something settled across the buttons, open to the third or fourth, and the pants that are mostly charcoal but with slender, vertical red stripes woven into the fabric. He's definitely not going to angle to keep it. Trading up? "Poker's easy if you can read people." Can Tiridyn? How did his gamble work out there with the drinks? Whether or not he's gotten his way with the matter of beverages, he glances back toward Jocelyn and has a broadening, still close-lipped smile for Hexik. "Sounds like you know how to make the right bad bets, so I'm not sure you really need my help." If that strokes the ego, so be it; it sounds like candor from the clerk who has, for the moment, escaped any but the most invisible and deep leash his Weyr can saddle him with.

Can you hold it, though, Tiri? CAN YOU THOUGH? Hex enjoys the local scenery almost as the local hooch, that smoked-smirk of absolute awareness returning as he licks a last beading of booze off his upper lip. It's a good curvy match — the line of his lips — for the sharp slots that v his hips and show just over the top of that ridiculous skirt. Boot finished, Hex isn't so gauche as to demand it, instead giving a gracious sweep of the wrist to indicate Tiri should have the first go. "Have you ever heard a crowd of traders chanting chug… sir?" There's some innate cheese to the crinkling smile that threatens. HEX GOT SOME CHEESE, he can't help it, it's just his nature. "Because my reading of people says that you're too fucking sober, kid." Shit-eating. His grin could definitely be defined there. It does impossible things to his face. Don't worry, it's not adorable AT ALL.

Have the first go? Why, thank you, kindly, Hexik, he will. Of course, that doesn't mean Tiridyn is about to give it back after that first sip. Instead, he curls his hands around the boot and pulls it close to his chest, rocking a step back from the previously close quarters with the boot's former master. "That's why I have this," he points out, with a grin that practically matches the healer's. "Thanks." And he'll chug, in point of fact, Hexik, only pausing when he has to cough because, spoiler alert, chugging is not part of Tiridyn's usual set of entertainments. But listen, he does a credible job and sobriety will probably be a thing of the past in not too long at that rate. It's not like there isn't more booze ready to hand. "I can do without the chanting. Sounds more like your speed to have the world screaming your name. What is it?" Not that Tiridyn plans to scream it later, not even with the way dark eyes occasionally become distracted looking at the bare chest or how the skirt lays across his hips, prompting some kind of smaller unconscious smile. He might be perplexing that way, given that the interest is not more than veiled at the very novice-and-slightly-tipsy level of things, but there's no sense that he's going for it. If anything, he seems more immediately interested in retaining control of the boot than in gaining however temporary possession of the man in boots.

Tiri's actions startle a laugh out of Hex, the boyish sound proving his age to be south of what he acts with that patent self-confidence — no, he's fucking enthusiastic, helpfully pushing the heel of the boot away to, ya know, get Tiridyn incredibly drunk help this thing along. "I really don't need all the world to scream my name," Hex replies, deploying Trademark Move #71: glance down, glance up, pull lower lip through teeth. It's illegal in Bitra and four minor holds including one very memorable seaport. "Hex," he replies, stepping forward again, grinning in a way that's suddenly weirdly geeky: that cider's hitting, or whatever shots he took while pulling on Jocelyn's skirt. DOES HE HAVE UNDE… nevermind. "What's yours, boot-stealer?" Jocelyn? Jocelyn's here somewhere? (She's starting to look very put out. Tiri. Don't get a black eye because of Hex. It's not worth it.)

Well, having the glass tipped does contribute to the coughing, but it's fine. There's a healer present. No one dies. Tiridyn probably could have contracted laughter from Hexik if he hadn't been drinking at the time. "Just Jocelyn, then?" Tiridyn suggest smoothly with the silver tongue that apparently has not abandoned him, yet, despite the way that look up and down might raise the hairs on the back of his neck in a complimentary way. It's fine, he's keeping his hands to himself, around that boot. He flashes a smile over to Jocelyn that's amicable. He's on her side here. Nevermind that he hasn't met her. Still, he can't quite resist turning his dark eyes back to Hexik, can't help the way his smile softens into a shy curve that only adds to the charm of his adorable harmless demeanor. Is he blushing a little more than he was before? Maybe. "Hex," he breathes, in a way that is not at all a scream, but might somehow be better? It doesn't stop him from continuing lowly, "My name… is not Jocelyn. Don't you have a bet to collect on? A win to talk up?" If his eyes glide down to the skirt and — nevermind, the point is he can't really help that. He lifts the boot again, carefully this time, not angling to finish it, but… well, if he were helped, he probably would do his best.

It's likely inevitable that the two of them would end up here, in this moment, with the woodsmoke on the air and the traders laughing behind them, cider crisp on the tongue and pleasant sparks kindling tinder. It's also inevitable that a woman's jealousy will presume to intrude on such a thing — she was …. is? … Hexik's ride, after all. His actual ride. Like in a wagon. Okay, this isn't going anywhere positive, but Joscelyn's sneak up behind Hex means that her hands are positively wrapping around the healer's lean chest, red-tipped nails dragging possessively, one hand lingering high at his chest, the other curving around that native handlebar of hip. She whispers something into his ear, but Hex seems oblivious, his gaze — his grin, deepening — staying on Tiridyn's face. If his eyes drop to the Fortian's throat working, it's not obscene. Promise. "Say it again," the Healer compels, irrascible, irrepressible. Filthy as charged? He might live that life. "Or tell me your own." He leans his head back, eyes lidding, the firelight casting his sharply-configured cheekbones into light and the hollows of his cheeks into shadow.

As improbable as it was, such is the way of fate. Here, now, with the smoke, the perfect backdrop and the push of booze to encourage bad deals, bad bets and bad decisions. But, of course, there's also Jocelyn. Tiridyn lifts the boot to sip while Hexik's ride reminds him of just why she's got right of prior claim whether he likes it or not. Tiridyn's expression paints him in a way that suggests fading into the furniture at moments like this is not uncommon for the clerk-at-large. It is absolutely intentional that when Tiridyn's eyes come back to Hexik's face with a look that suggests he'd sort of forgotten they were there (he didn't; he was helping Jocelyn make her play), he must know that saying, "Hex?" in a far different, far more innocent, far less satisfying way is going to lack the same impact, entirely intentionally. Duty discharged and if he knows how much of a tease that was, it doesn't show in his face. "You should collect before she changes her mind." He adds. But then, on apparent impulse he adds, "I'm from Fort." That might be enough to go on if the skirt even remembers the willing wingman (if not, apparently, willing something else here and now) come morning.

Hexik mouths the word 'tease' without actually saying it out loud, exhibiting the hard t with a jagged snarl that fades into nothing. Whatever he would have said to Tiri is lost to the night and Jocelyn's hands and his own intemperate flightiness — other than a single arch look. "I'll come to get my boot's worth, Fort," is half a threat, or maybe a promise? Maybe both, but Hex's caving, giving in to turning and paying attention to this date of his with a haphazard grin tossed over his shoulder before the both of them are lost to the darkness as Jos insistently pulls him away from the Fortian. (But seriously. Fuckin' tease.)


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