Awkward, Much?

Xanadu Weyr - Secret Garden Refuge
How has this gem stood empty so long? Constructed of hand-chiseled whitestone, this cottage is unique in that it appears to have been here from before the time Xanadu was founded, it's stones bearing a resemblance to the ruins in the old forest. Large windows, flanked by raw wooden shutters faded to a silvery-grey, have thick-leaded diamond panes that allow the meadow's light inside. Pink climbing roses scale the front wall, the porcelain blossoms scenting the air with their delicate fragrance and providing shade over the three shallow stone steps leading to a portico in which an arch-topped door is set.

The space within the cottage - sitting room, kitchenette, sleeping and bathing room - is simple: stone floors are covered in vast rugs in pale, pastel shades and the walls have been painted white. Some spaces have built-in storage: cupboards in the sitting room; counters and a cooling/heating unit for food in the kitchenette. The sitting room has a double-wide, deeply-inset window that make the sunny room perfect for housing potted plants, Isyriath's portion opening off of one side. Comfortable couches in pale pink line two of the walls, standing opposite each other, a long, low table set between them in the centre of the room. To the rear of the cottage, the bedroom has French doors that open onto a private retreat formed by a three-walled, flag-stoned courtyard of the same material that makes up the cottage walls. In the centre lies a flower garden, neat rows of tulips and rose bushes planted in fresh soil, a non-functional stone fountain serving as decoration alone, for now.

It's after the day's duties and lessons are done that Marel and Isyriath return home, the latter settled snugly in the wallow of the concave floor in his part of the dwelling, a blue-eyed gaze not intruding through the gap that permits him to see into the cottage proper, but lazily observing his girl as she goes about putting dinner together. Once there's nothing to do but leave everything on a low heat to cook, Marel claims from the counter the mug of tea that she's left to steep for a considerable length of time, and begins to head through to the sitting room, boots left close to the door.

Mur'dah spent the afternoon working in his weyr, clearing greens from the mostly ruined (but still structurally sound) structure, and after some thought he's decided to pay his sister a visit. "Marel?" he calls from the outside as he approaches, making it very clear that he's arriving with the scuff of boots on the pathway. Perhaps he's nervous she has company? Up the three steps to the door, he knocks and waits for an invitation. Or a 'go away'.

Not that he can see it unless he catches sight of her through one of the windows, but Marel hesitates when she hears the knock at the door combined with her twin's voice, the hand that's gone to claim a book from the table stilling as it hovers over the text. She stares first at the book, then at her tea, then lets out an inaudible sigh and abandons both to the table, heading for the door. Rather than swing it open slowly and betray any hesitation, she tugs said door open rather swiftly.

Mur'dah jumps a bit when the door is opened so quickly, left a bit flat-footed as he blinks at her. "Oh. Hey. You're home." Duh. "How're you?" Awkward much?

"Fine," Marel replies quite abruptly, leaning her hip against the doorframe. "How's Soriana's place?" Right to it then. "Or is this a break from harassing my—" There's not a term, or at least not an appropriate one that she her blueriding friend have used for each other yet, which leaves her to retreat rather lamely to, "M'kal," said with clear defiance just to save face. Whatever happens, she's not going to hold the conversation on the doorstep, where anyone passing might be able to listen in, and so steps back into her cottage, reclaiming her tea as she heads back towards the sitting room.

Oh, this is going to be fun. "I haven't spent a night at Soriana's place yet," Mur'dah says with a frown. "I'm still in the barracks." She knows he got demoted, right? After an ill-decided trip between from the swamp to tell Sheersha that he couldn't make their date. And she's since made it clear she's not interested in him any more. "And I haven't been harassing M'kal. When were you going to tell me you two were…" An item? "whatever?" He follows her into the cottage, at least remembering to wipe his boots off first, and closes the door behind him.

"Forgive me, but I thought you'd have moved your stuff in in preparation," Marel drawls with a sarcasm that doesn't suit her at all. She glances behind her only to make sure that Mur'dah isn't tracking mud into her house, then vanishes through the gap in the wall for a moment. Two moments. Three. When she remerges into the sitting room, she seems calmer for those few seconds spent with her lifemate. "But you're not happy about me and him," she states as a fact, without asking at all. "Maybe I wanted to keep it to myself for a while." Against the wall, not yet hung up, sits a painting perhaps identifiable as M'kal's work, Marel herself featured in the image of the cottage, meadow and flowers. "Maybe about the time that you risked your rank for the sake of some kitchen girl."

Mur'dah frowns at her, bristling a bit. But it's awkward feeling offended by her. Childhood spats, sure, but this is something different, and it makes him uncomfortable. "No," he says. "Look, if it bothered you, why didn't you say something? I didn't think it'd be an issue with you. Ka'el, maybe, but not with you." Since his clothes are a bit dusty and dirty from working on his heap of a weyr, he doesn't take a seat, instead lingering by the doorway awkwardly when she vanishes for those few moments. "I'm…I don't know how I feel about it," he admits. "I told M'kal as much. I never said he /couldn't/ be with you. Even though you do the same thing to me /all/ the time. No one's good enough for me, so how do I know he's good enough for you?" Then he flinches. "Yeah," he mutters, grudging but at least honest when he says, "you were right about her."

"Because you chose her. You chose the goldrider over the brownrider, which I understand, I do," Marel tries to insist, sitting down on one of her pastel-pale couches. "You can't get rid of me, but being closer with her can't hurt in-case you need a favour one day." Or maybe she's just being spiteful, thinking in such a way. "…We'll outlive our usefulness to each other soon or later, right?" she supposes with poorly-affected nonchalance. "But me being with M'kal isn't your decision. Maybe Daddy doesn't have a clue and it is your job to intimidate boys who like me, but I never thought to go and make an issue of anything with that girl you liked. I would have tried to like her, if you did."

Mur'dah blinks, mouth gaping as he stares at her in shock. Utter shock. Until he finds his voice again. "/What?!/ You can't possibly think…you wouldn't…you…you actually think that?" he says, hurt and offended and also just a little bit stunned into nervous laughter. "I don't want to get rid of you. Mare," he says, gesturing around the room. "You would really want me here? /Here?/ This weyr is too…too…too /nice/ for me. I'm dirty and dusty and you'd /hate/ me by the end of it. And Sori didn't offer me her /weyr/ weyr. She has a barn. Not a weyrbarn. An actual /barn/. For animals. That's where I would have stayed. In the hay loft of a barn. I'm not trying to get in good with Sori. If I was, crashing in her barn - being an imposition - wouldn't be the way to do it. I just thought a barn was better than messing up your beautiful weyr." He shakes his head, starting to pace around, tugging fingers through his hair like their father. "We're not going to outlive our usefulness," he says, low and firm. "I…I wasn't trying to make any issues. I was just shocked, I guess. I heard it from him, not from you," he says, turning a hurt look on his twin. "And I never said anything other than I didn't know how I felt about it. Which is /true/. M'kal is a nice guy and all, but…I want the best for you. Is he the best? I don't know." He stops his rambling, staring out a window and sighing.

"Well, you wouldn't have been the first in the class!" Marel quietly exclaims, though any true hurt or anger is kept carefully from her voice, calm maintained. "…I know he didn't even see it like that, but Ka'el chose gold over green. I don't mind you choosing her, but I wish you'd said something. We have to be separate and apart and I agree that it wouldn't have been the best idea for us to live together now, but it's… embarrassing. Even if we're both okay with it. It makes it look like I didn't offer and you didn't want to anyway, like we're… different now." Though that might well be the truth, acknowledged by a glance down into her lap. "I like M'kal. He's kind and sweet and he likes me too. I don't know what the 'best' is, but I like him. A lot."

Mur'dah blanches slightly, shaking his head. "That's…none of our business," he mutters. "I'm…so…even though we both know from the beginning it would have been a bad idea, you still wanted us to talk about it?" he asks, a bit confused. Woman logic! He does not get it. "I'm sorry, then, that I didn't ask. I was going to. But then Sori offered and it seemed like the best idea, so I said yes…not that I've taken her up on it." He shifts a bit, turning away from the window. "We are different now, kind of, I guess. But…there are things that aren't different, too." He flinches slightly at her admission of liking M'kal, and then he sighs, tugging fingers through his hair as he walks over to stand in front of her. He refuses to sit on her nice pastel couch with his dirty clothes, so all he can do is crouch down in front of her, hesitantly reaching to touch her hand or knee or something. "That's all I care about, Mare," he says softly. "That you're happy and that the man in your life is /good/ to you. And that, you know. I'm not…" He glances away and shrugs a bit. "Replaced…"

"…Because I wanted you to know that I'd rather have had you living here and end up arguing every day than have you think I was okay with you being stuck in that awful weyr of yours or the barracks," Marel confesses, almost quite literally trying to drown her words with a gulp of tea beginning to go cold. She leans forward a little to set the mug down when she sees her twin approaching, making sure it's out of the way in-case she should spill it over him and make everything worse. "You can't ever be replaced," she murmurs, folding her hand around his. "No-one can replace you. We've been in this together since we existed, for Faranth's sake. I may or may not like any girl that you end up with, but whether I like her or not, I'm always going to be on your side."

It takes Mur'dah a second to wrap his head around that, but he finally nods. "I know. I know I can /always/ come to you. Always. I've never doubted that. You've always been there." Twisting his hand to hold hers in return, he gives it a little squeeze, and laughs softly. "Alright," he murmurs, with a little smile. "Well, are there any girls you /do/ like? Because with Kalsuoth able to chase greens now…" Throat clearing and blush. "Obviously the girls I've picked haven't been the best.."

If he won't sit on the couch with her, then Marel's perfectly happy to sit on the floor with him, shifting to sit cross-legged across from him as if they're many, many turns younger. "…If Isyriath starts chasing soon, I might beat you to those girls," she says softly, staring down at the floor. "Not deliberately, I mean, but…" It's a looming possibility. "Idrissa is a nice girl." For Mur'dah, not for her. "Though that might be awkward, with all the stuff with her and Ka'el. Don't you dare go near Jnelle."

Mur'dah shifts so he's also sitting, but not before he glances down at his impending butt-spot, to make sure he's not putting his dusty rump onto anything else beautiful and soft and feminine. He blanches slightly, and clears his throat a bit. "Are you scared?" he asks quietly, and just the fact that he's asking is a way for him to admit that he is - and very much so. "Idrissa is very nice, and I don't care about the stuff with Ka'el, but…I don't think of her like that. At all. She's more…like…family." Then he visibly recoils, twitching a bit. "Jnelle? Shards. No. Never."

"…I… don't know," Marel replies, now staring down at one of her unbooted feet. "I know Isyriath won't do anything to hurt me, so… maybe I shouldn't do anything to hurt him and try to keep him from chasing a green he likes." She shrugs, the motion awkward thanks to the tension strung across her shoulder blades. "If I'm close to him and with him, maybe I won't mind what… happens." Hesitating, she sneaks a quick look up at Mur'dah. "Has Kalsuoth… shown an interest in any of the greens yet?"

Mur'dah shakes his head. "No, he hasn't but. Well. I have…no experience, so…I don't know what to do. I /won't/ know what to do, if he ever does catch. I…I'd like to figure that out ahead of time, like they suggest, but I've got no one to do it with, so…I don't know," he says with an exhaled breath. "I'm scared," he admits. "Scared of…not being in control. Not knowing what's happening. Not having a choice."

"Why don't you ask one of the younger greenriders?" Marel quietly suggests, resisting the urge to pull her twin into a hug, considering the difficult subject matter at hand. "A pretty one. One you could like. One from another Weyr, even, so no-one would gossip or know?" She takes a deep breath, holding it over the course of a long silence before she blurts out, "I'm going to ask… M'kal." Shared if only to state that she won't find a stranger. "He might not want to and… well, whatever happens, I can't let Isyriath chase and win or lose until I know what I'm doing, because they say we're not likely to be in control after either way."

Mur'dah sighs, and then grimaces. "That's…a horrible pick up line, Mare," he says, with an attempt at humor. "Hi, I'm a virgin in all ways but holding hands, want to teach me something?" He blanches a bit at that next little detail, but he just nods. "I figured as much. He seems like he'd be…nice. Gentle…" BAD MENTAL IMAGE. But, yes, much better than a stranger. "Maybe going to another weyr is the answer…"

BAD MENTAL IMAGES EVERYWHERE. Maybe that's why Marel blushes scarlet and grabs one of the cushions from the couch to hide her face for a few moments. "I'm not saying you go around announcing that!" she declares, peering out over the top of the cushion. "Find one you like, chat her up and see where it goes. Ask her to go somewhere quiet or romantic with you, not ask her to… fix a problem. I'll even give you some flowers to give her, if it'll help."

Mur'dah laughs, but he's also blushing crimson and he has to laugh otherwise he'll just…melt away into the floor. "You make it sound so easy!"

"You won't know if you don't try!" Marel declares, hugging the cushion all the tighter. "…I swear, Isyriath and Kalsuoth are better grown-ups than we are right now!" It seems there are two choices: stay and quietly hope for the ground to swallow them up or change the subject. Or… "I need a drink," she insists, beginning to scramble from the floor. That might be the first time he's heard her say that. "Come on! We're going to the caverns. Or the tavern." Anywhere that'll give her a drink. Just the one.

"I have been trying!" Mur'dah says with another laugh, reaching out to try and pull the pillow away from her, only so he can hit her with it. "Are not!" he says, but it's purely for the sake of argument, as yes…yes they are. Pushing to his feet, he grimaces a bit at the dust he leaves behind in her beautiful weyr. "Drinks, yes," he agrees, motioning for her to go first. He will follow, and make sure the door is closed after them.

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