Losing Sleep

Xanadu Weyr - Steward's Office
The office of the Steward is a place for things to pass through. On the side of the wooden desk nearest the door are a pair of boxes labeled In and Out. The center of the desk provides a place to process those papers, with a set of draftsman's tools - pens, pencils, rulers and compasses - tucked in a small wooden box. The computer, as it receives fewer messages, is set off to the side of the desk.
One thing that stays in the office is the Steward himself - at least, so long as he holds that office - and so there's a comfortable chair behind that desk, as well as a pair of plain wooden ones in front of it for those passing through.
Bookshelves line the walls, crammed with tomes ranging in topic from weather patterns of the southern continent to crop output for the last one hundred turns. They are some the many things of which a Steward must have a passing knowledge - one sufficient to let him delegate the rest. To record the events so delegated, there are a pair of file cabinets full of paperwork not yet so historical as to merit relocation to the archives.

It is late afternoon, and a limited number of hours remain within this administrative workday. They are further reduced in the context of time available for the completion of tasks by the presence of a meeting on Jethaniel's calendar. There does, however, remain some time yet before he will be required to leave the documents before him in order to make a timely arrival. Should he be willing to compromise on the timeliness of his arrival, he possesses even more time. This time is presently being employed in an effort to untangle a particularly obscure question of crop rotation practices as it applies to a contract renewal, which has him leaned over his desk, comparing a dusty tome from the archives with a newly-printed sheaf. A further document has thus far escaped his notice; a single sheet, folded over once and lying on the floor where it was slipped beneath his door.

While it's the Weyrwoman's scheduled restday, that meeting is an important enough one - at least to her - to merit a few hours less of 'off-time'. Catching the Weyrleader not busy is a challenge, so the date and time has been left on her calendar as is. With an errand to Ierne completed, thirteen packages stacked in her cottage, she's restless again, her feet taking her where she's not really supposed to be. But! She's sticking to the rules by a thin hair and, while giving her closed office door a longing look, she refrains from slipping inside to check on her inbox. Instead, she approaches her steward's office, raps on the door briskly, then peeks in. "Hey. Are you busy?" Ask a silly question!

Thea is, in fact, not in her office. She thereby demonstrates that there exists some ambiguity as to whether 'the office' which is to be avoided on restdays is limited in scope to merely the one assigned to the particular office-worker in question, or is, in fact, meant to be a general prohibition covering all aspects of the situation. Jethaniel lifts his gaze from those documents at the sound of the knock, and when Thea's visage appears, raises his eyebrows slightly. He does not, however, question her presence here. Yet. "Not excessively so." These contract negotiations are tied to a seasonal cycle, and thus not entirely a movable entity, but there exists some time yet for them to be be resolved. Also, he doesn't seem to be getting anywhere, so he may as well start over from the beginning at a future point. "Is something wrong?" Other, of course, than the implication she may be avoiding her restdays.

The Weyrwoman should, by rights, avoid the caverns entirely on her restdays. Maybe the clearing also as getting flagged down for 'problem-fixing' there happens too. She could easily do both, but for habit. And well, at this moment a nagging concern. "Oh good!" She steps further inside, gives the edge of the open door a backward push with her fingertips to close it. "Not-" The soft click is followed by a quiet rustle-crunch of paper as she steps on that folded sheet. It's enough to pause her answer while she looks down, then stoops to pick it up. "-really," she finishes as she takes the last few steps to his desk and absently hands it to him. Translation: 'Yes, yes there is.' She sinks into on of those wooden chairs in front of his desk. "I bring candy from Ierne." Which doesn't account for that mildly troubled look on her face as she holds out a tin of saltwater taffy to share. Candy and she's dressed casually in a linen sundress, so technically this is… a social call?

Jethaniel accepts the paper just as absently, and sets it on his desk without really looking at it. His attention is on Thea for what must be a social call; after all, by their own admissions, he's not busy and she doesn't have a problem. "Thank you," he says, and reaches out to take a piece of the taffy she offers, then leans back in his chair as he slowly untwists the wrapper. At this rate, it may yet be unwrapped in time for the upcoming meeting. "How was Ierne?" It is an appropriate topic, considering that the candy comes from there and this is a social visit. It is, interestingly enough, also somewhat apropos to that upcoming meeting… which is, perhaps, why Jethaniel's expression is also concerned. That, or perhaps he has a headache from the tome, or he's waiting for a shoe to drop.

It's either little fibs or they're both in denial. Maybe both! "It was nice this time," Thea admits sounding a little surprised as she says it. She sets the open tin between them, atop his open tome where they can both reach it easily. Leaning over to select a piece of taffy she fishes around amongst the multi-hued pastel pieces for long seconds like it's a crucial decision, coming up finally with a yellow one. With a sigh, she leans back, thunk-thunks sound one right after the other as she kicks off her sandals. There go the shoes? With a little rustle, she unwraps the waxed paper, holds the treat at eye level to study it briefly before her gaze moves past it to behold her steward. "The meeting kept me awake all night," she admits with a little sigh, then pops the candy in her mouth.

Jethaniel continues to slowly untwist the wrapper, and nods to Thea. In fact, he smiles slightly at her expression of pleasure… but then the shoes drop. One, two… but it's the third and metaphorical one that makes his smile drop with it. He nods again. "I have been thinking about it as well." From denial to understatement! It's a step. Jethaniel frowns slightly, casting his gaze down to the candy he selected (it's blue, and one end is entirely untwisted) for a moment before lifting his gaze to Thea again. One corner of his mouth lifts, though his eyes still reveal his concern. "There is a precedent."

Hi my name is Thea and I am hopelessly addicted to work? Step one of the twelve-step program is admitting work keeps them awake at night? If this could be called work. In truth, the matter is a headache for the Weyrwoman - in more ways than one. That Jethaniel has been thinking about it doesn't surprise her, though all she knows is V'dim and the AWLMs were fairly disgruntled and she's had to lock the spare knots up. That'll keep them out of her hands, right? Her mouth is busy with the candy, teeth stuck together because she just had to chew the stuff even though is itn't conducive to speaking. Precedent, he says and her eyes flare a bit. Say what? One hand motions him to tell her what he means. Precedent to… send someone troublesome… away? Put her in a cell? Hang her from the starstones with a bungee cord?

Jethaniel takes that gesture as an invitation to explain, and so he sets the partially unwrapped candy down, steepling his fingers in front of him. Precedent for what? He'll get to that, but first, an explanation of what the precedent is. His tone is quite calm. "I recall a circumstance in which an unauthorized person took on the duties of a higher ranked individual without permission. Said person caused offense to certain others for the perceived flaunting of procedures, but the duties so arrogated were adequately performed despite their unauthorized nature." He pauses for a moment or three, and lifts a brow before continuing. "You made me Steward."

What? Half of that went ZOOM! Over the Weyrwoman's head. Maybe she's misunderstood, for Thea nearly chokes. Not on the candy, which isn't leaving her teeth for awhile yet. No, it's more like a mental choke coupled with the fact that she can't speak to refute him. Come to think of it, she needs to pass around a tin of this stuff at Conclave meetings. She holds up a forefinger; she's got something to say. Working her jaw, she's finally able to free the deathgrip the stuff has on her teeth enough to sputter, "You had permission! Mine. And it's too bad A'dmar was offended but everything you've done has been more than adequate." More sputtering while she works the taffy to swallow it, still with that finger aloft. With her mouth clear she adds, "Yes? I can do that." Make him steward. His point is? She's… missed it, hasn't she?

"Your permission," Jethaniel says with an inclination of his head to Thea, "was only granted after the first incident." Along with that knot he now wears. "It is not the place of a journeyman technician to lecture the Weyrwoman and Weyrleader." Not that it stopped him, then or now. "I am not attempting to claim the situations are the same. However… I have not heard complaints about the education received by the Weyrlings, merely its source." Jethaniel lowers his gaze from Thea, and frowns to his desk. "Nor am I claiming there should not be consequence. I merely…" He trails off into that frown. Merely, he says, but it's really anything but; a matter of far more personal consequence to Jethaniel than an analogous situation might be. He begins again, though he doesn't look up. "I am… asking you to consider actions and results, not offense."

The… first incident? Thea wracks her memory and ohs. "That! I honestly wasn't offended. It really didn't seem like a lecture?" Is that what he feels he did? She stops trying to convince him, though, when he continues, doing her best to follow, nodding somberly. She's probably kicking herself for not doing something when the Galaxy wingleader's knot showed up on Darsce's shoulder all those months ago, but it was a prank. This, however… She too frowns, but for different reasons. "It's not my decision to make. N'shen handles the wings. And Pulsar falls under his domain." Her elbows plunk onto his desktop as her fingertips massage her own temples. "I doubt the fact that she's his half sister will deflect consequences. Mur'dah and Marel will be upset."

Evidently not, since Thea gave him a knot instead of a dismissal. Jethaniel leaves the details of it behind, though he acknowledges Thea with a nod that has his gaze settling on the paper brought in. He reaches for it, unfolding it partially - though he doesn't yet look at the contents, instead lifting his eyes to Thea once again. "Pulsar does, yes." He frowns, considering. "Is this, strictly speaking, a Pulsar matter? If anything, the issue is that she is not a member of Pulsar. Therefore… either she is acknowledged as a member of Pulsar, and there is no issue, or else she is not… and thus does not fall under N'shen's jurisdiction." He holds his gaze for a moment, then sighs as he lowers it once more. "I believe this holds regardless of the subject." He would not, however, author a paper without stating his biases for the record.

Thea continues massaging trying to stave off the headache that is sure to come, eyes closed when Jethaniel speaks again. She squints them open, meeting his gaze and considers. "What else wou-" The squint turns to an open-mouthed stare. And then a bark of laughter erupts as she drops her hands altogether. "You- You could have taken the harpercraft and been a fine lawyer, Jethaniel." Guess who's likely to be invited to the next conclave? She reaches for another taffy, smirking while he drops his eyes to that paper.

"I would not have been interested," Jethaniel says of his potential career as a lawyer. He does not, however, attempt to argue. His eyes lower to the paper, and this time, they actually encounter the words on it. First they widen; then, he smiles… and then he frowns, a frown that grows deeper and deeper until his eyes reach the bottom of the page. His fingers clench, crumpling the paper. "I…" He looks down again, and releases the crumpled paper as if it is doused in acid, letting it fall to his desk. "I am taking the rest of the day off." Jethaniel rises to his feet, and his gaze settles on Thea with a pained expression. "I'm sorry." But not, evidently, enough so to keep him here, for he turns to stride out.

Thea nods. Of course not. He likes fixing things. Though some would argue lawyers do that. It's just not hands on, technical fixing with things that can kill you. Though others would point out dissatisfied clients on the other side could certainly do that. The Weyrwoman's thoughts run along these lines while she idly plays with the taffy selected, not unwrapping it because she's wary now. The silence goes longer than she must think it would and she glances up to see Jethaniel's frown. She starts to ask, "Something wrong-" when he speaks again. She rises, slower than he does, her brows knit with concern, "Nono, it's fine. We can always reschedule the meeting." Is that a tiny bit of relief for putting it off? Maybe but she's never seen the unflappable Jethaniel like this. Trying not to be alarmed for his sake - thinking it must be bad news from home, she doesn't try to stop him, but extends a hand that may or may not reach him. "If there's anything we can do?" She'll do whatever he needs.

Something is most definitely wrong, and Jethaniel is, as he has with those technical things that could kill him, running toward it. He wants to fix it. He doesn't know how; he doesn't know if he can, but he wants to. Everything else is, he has discovered, of a lower priority. He blinks to Thea's offer of delay, then nods his head. "Yes, that -" Perhaps by the time of the delayed meeting, there will no longer be a problem to discuss, if… he looks away. "Yes." His voice is still controlled, but it is not calm. "I…" He gives his head a quick shake, and glances to Thea as she reaches him with a hand and offer of help. "Thank you." Jethaniel has nothing to ask for, but the gratitude is genuine. He searches for more words to say, but none come to mind, and this is not the situation that most requires them; so Jethaniel prioritizes, and departs. The partially unwrapped taffy is left behind. So is the note that sparked this reaction.

Thea's concern edges towards alarm as she senses the rising tension in the man. She nods; she'll see to it, arrange to reschedule the meeting, not to worry! She remains rooted as he heads on out, unsure for a moment whether she should follow. It wasn't a 'something is going to explode' sort of rushing off to forestall disaster, was it? No, it didn't seem to be. She's certain he would have told her if it was, even if it is her restday. She draws a deep breath, turns to consider that crumpled note. She wrestles with herself for all of 2.1 seconds, then reaches for it. Her hand never touches the paper, however. It stops just shy of it and remains for a beat. Then she shakes her head; it was personal, she decides, not a Weyr matter. Otherwise he'd have handed it to her to read. She won't invade his privacy like that. So her hand withdraws, the note left unread. With a little sigh, she moves away, stopping at the door to switch off the light, then heads out, shutting the door behind her. She won't sleep tonight either. Though she hasn't forgotten the matter concerning Darsce, tonight she'll worry about Jethaniel.

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