No Matter What

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.

Free time ( a rare thing) has found M'kal with little to do to fill it. He's bathed as evident from the still damp spikes of red on top of his head. Xeosoth is contently lounging in the morning sun on his ledge, insisting that he go /nowhere/ right now so that he doesn't lose the warmth. Fine then…M'kal peeks his head into the infirmary…no help needed there. Finding himself wandering towards a certain brown rider's cottage he quirks an amused smile as he steps past the brown and offers a tentative knock to the front door of the cottage.

Lounging out in the sunshine of the meadow, Isyriath offers M'kal a quiet warble as he passes by, but otherwise pretends to be one with the grass and nature, blending in… about as badly as a dragon does, but it's the thought that counts. It might be he who alerts Marel to the bluerider's presence, for she manages to get to the door and open it pretty quickly after M'kal knocks, her hair falling about her face in somewhat messy waves. She must have just freed it from its small collection of ties and so on, since a length of black ribbon still dangles from the fingers of her right hand. "Hi."

M'kal had considered pulling a flower free from the meadow to present her but eventually nixed the idea as being perhaps too 'corny'. He could read off some of those cheesy pickup lines that Darce write on their invitation cards for the 'Talk' class but again…too corny. So in the end he merely presents himself with a quirky. "Morning!" a pause. He should say more! "Mind if I come in? I've still no comfortable couches yet."

Marel takes a moment to process that explanation for his presence at her door, one brow quirking slightly downwards in a not-quite frown, not displeased by the fact that he's there, but his greeting draws her to say, "I'm glad the couches have made a good impression…" with the faintest hint of a smile. Not buying that one. "Come in." And so she steps away from the door, leaving him to close it behind them. "I can make pancakes or something if you're hungry." It's a poor ruse, her already looking for something to do rather than get right to the - arguably - more pressing matters affecting them.

M'kal had breakfast but he's not one to turn down another offering off food. "Pancakes sound good. My meals come from the living caverns which no I'm sure you're cooking is better than theirs!" is he trying to butter her up? Perhaps he saw the not-quite frown and realized his thin excuse to visit her was taking the wrong way. "Actually I'd not yet seen them but was sure you had lovely couches." Oy, that doesn't sound right. Flushing a little he moves to perch on the edge of one of those couches.

"Don't you and Mur'dah and Ka'el have anything better to do than talk about the state of my furniture?" Marel asks through a light burble of incredulous laughter, making the only assumption she can, given that two of the three have seen the couches. She's halfway to the kitchenette and seconds shy of rummaging through cupboards to find what she needs to make those pancakes before she decides that boldness is better than dancing around the issue of why M'kal is visiting. "…Are you really here because my place is more comfortable than yours?" she questions, turning on her heel to face him.

For a moment a glower darkens M'kal's normally happy expression at the mention of Ka'el's name though he reins it in so quickly it could be easily missed. "What else are Wingbrothers supposed to chat about hmm?" he teases lightly. As she turns on heels to face him he gives for a moment that 'deer in a headlight' look. Busted? "Well…" he says from his position on the edge of the couch which really doesn't look too comfortable at all. "It's true that your place is more comfortable…and prettier." he notes the rugs on the floor. "I should get me one of these too." it's added to a mental checklist in his head. "But really I thought you would be better company than my trio of fire lizards and no human voices to chat with." that sounded good, right?

"I'm… glad that I can provide more intelligent conversation than firelizards," Marel replies with a lift of brows, turning back to open one of the cupboards and begin to draw a series of sealed containers from one of the shelves. "Shall I leave you and the cottage alone for a while?" she teases over one shoulder. "You seem awfully determined to win the affection of a building with flattery." But then she's frowning into the cupboard and starts putting all of the containers back inside, carefully, one by one. "I'll have to go and borrow some things from the kitchen if you want pancakes," the brownrider says apologetically. "I must have used the last of the flour last night."

Huh…this could be going better. With an inward scowl M'kal stands from his precarious perch and in three strides is right there beside Marel. "Then the pancakes can wait." he says simply, canting his head sideways to peer at her with an amused expression for all her teasing. "I'd rather simply spend the day with you to be honest." a shy hand reaches to take her hand, stopping her midway through putting the containers back.

"Oh…" Maybe Marel can be blamed for being just a little bit deliberately obtuse. She surrenders her hand to his, relinquishing the container she was about to lift, and leaves it there on the counter instead as she peers up at him. "Did you-" Nope. "Was there-" Still not right. The words aren't there, or if they are, it doesn't look like they're going to present themselves anytime soon. "Okay," she quietly agrees, tightening her fingers around his.

M'kal's shy smile highlights his deep green eyes. With her quiet agreement he tugs her backwards with the intention of returning to the couch he abandoned moments ago. His whole attention is focused on Marel. "So…" also unable to find the right words to say he sits, toungetied with her hand still firmly in his.

He hasn't got the words, she hasn't got the words, and so Marel, to her mind, is left with little to do but either take action or allow herself to look progressively more silly with her usually expansive vocabulary there not there to assist her. The only warning she gives M'kal of anything is the loosening of her grip on his hand once they're both situated on the couch, because she doesn't really need to hang onto his hand quite so tightly when she can say what she means by kissing him instead.

With her expansive vocabulary gone with the wind and M'kal's own uncertainty hovering over him, her action is indeed a simple solute that helps shed the last of M'kal's shyness. Content to perhaps let their bodies do the talking for them he intertwines his fingers loosely in hers and leans in to the kiss. It's a gentle start as he doesn't rush the kiss but simply lets it draw on into a linger kiss then another. Unsure where his other hand is to go he rests it gently on the back of her neck, his fingertips lightly caressing the skin.

Marel seems happy to linger and kiss him again and again (and again), but sooner or later it becomes almost embarrassingly obvious that she doesn't really know what she should or could or might do next, if anything at all. With her own uncertainty slowly leeching control from her, she does the only thing that she knows she wants to do and presses closer to M'kal, meaning to end up in his lap if she gets her way. However, she can't just kiss him forever and confession time looms nearer. Eventually, she draws away and looks down at him, biting down on her lip. "…B-Before they…" Before who? "Chase," escapes as a hoarse whisper. "Can we…? One day. I… don't want anyone else." Hopefully, he can get some meaning from that.

As if M'kal knows what to do other than kissing though certainly he'll no object to so much practice as he helps draw her into his lap, his arms gentle around her. Finally though he too comes up for air, his voice a little huskier than usual as she breaks the silence with her chosen words. Indeed the words of Darsce have done nothing really but haunt him, seeping into his conscious thoughts more and more often and at awkward times. "….before the chase." he murmurs. Confession time? Oh yes, one supposes he must admit things too. While normally he would flush bright red, perhaps he's outgrown the outright embarrassment stage of his life. "…I…we." he presses his lips to her again, this time to her forehead, her cheek, her nose. Each time it's a fluttering touch as he simply absorbs what she's asking. Absorbs and…enjoys the feeling of mutual attraction. Has there ever been anyone else he's drawn too? Certainly since Candidacy at least he's had an attraction to her that as they've grown older it's merely increased. And certainly since their Impressions and the time spent basically living together in the Weyrling barracks as their life mates grew, he's had eyes for no one else. An inexplicable amount of time passes or perhaps it's mere seconds before his whispered word comes as a "Yes…"

Answering his kisses with her own against the line of his jaw and his temple, Marel hums a quiet, pleased sound, but it's his answer that draws her gaze back to his, her green eyes wide and focus unflinching. "…I've not," she murmurs, "I've not… been with anyone before. Ever." She can tell him that much whilst looking right at him, though her attention drifts to the wall when she continues, "I don't know if you have. I don't mind. I still don't want anyone else," in a whisper. "But I don't… if I'm bad at it… Will it mean you won't like me anymore?" She just can't look at him when she asks that, either embarrassed about her own worries or afraid of his answer.

M'kal hasn't and now his ears do turn a shade of red as the question is posed. "Me? No…never. No one." his words are broken thoughts that try to emerge as a single sentence and fails. Finally he pulls back a bit to cup her cheek into a hand and he tries to get her to look at /him/. His green eyes lock onto her own green eyes, staring for a moment as if perhaps seeing her fully for the first time as a woman and someone who he cares about than he has before. "There is no one else for me. Just you." he murmurs shyly but with a firm resolution in his tone to try to make her trust in his sincerity. "I promise to still like you if you're bad if you give me the same promise." a hint of laughter touches his tone but just a hint.

It takes a moment or two for her to acquiesce and return her gaze to his, but once Marel does, she doesn't look away again, her hands resting lightly on his shoulders as she gives the tiniest of nods. "I promise to still like you even if we can't look each other in the eye after," she says softly, a very faint smile tugging at one corner of her mouth. "I guess we'll just have to… practise." She could kiss him again then, though it's more telling that she trusts him that she doesn't, but instead tucks her face into the crook of his neck in a show of quieter affection, her arms sliding around him. "…I would want to with you even if it weren't for all the rising and chasing, you know." Perhaps not with the ticking clock of grown-up lifemates dictating timing, but she knows herself well enough to know that's only one factor.

M'kal settles them both on the couch, content to have her snuggling in close to him. Possessively he keeps his arms curled around her to keep her close, a happy smile touching his expression now. Perhaps there'll be no more dancing around their feelings towards each other now? Perhaps. Anything else is forgotten, including any protective brothers. Feeling Xeosoth's familiar presence in the back of his head with no doubt his own opinion he simply nods. He says nothing of practicing though certainly there is no objections to /that/. Instead he offers assurance of his feelings towards her by saying in a quiet murmur. "I want to be with you no matter what…flights or anything else."

"Me too," Marel answers quietly, wise and weyrbred enough not to stray into any territory that might involve discussion of flights and after flights and all sorts. She has no objection to being held close, tucking herself in against him with her arms slung just a little awkwardly around his waist, but she's not letting go any time soon. "Just don't let my brothers," yes, plural, "or my sister," she of 'the talk', "or Mama chase you off." In-case any of them should think to get to Intimidating The Boy Marel is With. She ducks her head down to hide her smile from him, to try and keep him from figuring out if she's teasing or not, yet, despite all she's said, she doesn't appear to be worried at all, her eyes closing as she settles down against him.

Huh…the other family members never occurred to him it seems so he wears a slightly chagrined look as she mentions brothers. Wait..brothers? Sister he know. Mother…he'll not think about. Dating the daughter of the Weyrwoman may not be his smartest move but it's hardly going to keep him from it. But…brothers? plural? "Brothers?" his word echo his thoughts as he seems content to sit there with her close against for him a very long time. The 'event' of which they just agreed to may not happen for a while yet but he's quite content simply getting to know more of her and spending as much time as he can. Of course it helps her home has a kitchen where as his doesn't. And a couch. However he does add though, regardless if she's teasing or not. "Don't worry, I'm not so easily scared away from something I like."

"N'shen." Oh, right. The Weyrleader. He knows who the other one is. But Marel has better things to do than worry about the reaction of various family members, when gossip reaches them in one way or another (because she's surely not going to go asking for trouble), notably pretending to take offense at being referred to as something. Her arms draw back from around M'kal as she sits up properly, meaning to plant her hands on his shoulders again and angle a narrow-eyed stare at him. "I am a lady. Not a something." It would be better if she had ammunition that he wouldn't like, but she settles for attempting to kiss him into submission. That'll teach him. Right.

M'kal's eyes widen but he'll take the tongue lashing with a murmured. "A lady that I like."

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