Not Just Duty

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow
A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered amongst the meadow are a variety of weyrs, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves. The meadow continues with gentle rolls and dips, grass tall and short waving in the slightest of breezes, and eventually those hills grow higher and steeper, ending in a large ridge that provides a fine view of that meadow and the rest of the Weyr, gazing out over the multicolored roofs of the houses and the cliff that holds the caverns.
Runner stables with the paddock beyond are to the south beyond the meadow weyrs, and a smithy and a woodcraft shop are settled closer in towards the path to the clearing. Trees border the northern side of the meadow, and more of those low, rolling hills can be seen to the northwest. A road passes through the meadow, coming from the east and used by traders and crafters alike. Wagons laden with felled trees from the forests or ore from the mountains are hauled by burden beast up the road through the meadow, over the bridge spanning the river to be processed in the appropriate workshops.

Continued from: Planning to Sing

Goodbye tavern and all of your raucous noise and fun! Quieter times are being sought, but you were definitely fun! Take care of the wine, please. Ka'el has confidence that the barkeep will indeed keep their wine safe for them, not allowing greedy mouths to claim it as their own. He's also confident that a walk can be taken and Skyler will be masterfully looked after, for he has the best nannies on Xanadu caring for him as his parents work. Or in this case, walk after completing some work. They're leaving behind the tavern's glow, and Ka'el's hand keeps a hold of Soriana's as they move through the clearing. His eyes move skyward, instinctively, to check. Is it a clear night? Cloudy? How's visibility? Everything is looking good above them, and the clear dark sky, illuminated by the glow of the moons in their different phases, causes him to smile. Let it be an easy night for those on patrol. His attention returns to her now, blue eyes settling on the profile of her face before he looks forward again, content to hold her hand and walk. Through the vast clearing. Towards the meadow that's dotted with the lazy lights of a few fireflies. One and of … on and off, they flash, unhurried, just like the pace of Ka'el's quiet walk. "Baby," he says, finally speaking again, his hand squeezing just slightly. "Are you happy with how things are? Not with Skyler, but with .. us? And everything." The all encompassing 'everything'.

It's right there in the name. Barkeep! The one who keeps the bar… and keeps bar-related things safe. Wine is most definitely a bar-related thing. Definitely within his skillset, just as Skyler is in the care of those for whom nearly-turn-olds are a skillset. Professional baby-minders, as opposed to the postively amateurish (at least by comparison) version that his parents provide. Visibility and lighting conditions are… maybe not quite so important for those walking on the ground instead of soaring through the air. There's probably enough light even if they were soaring through the air, and so walking on the ground is definitely okay. Soriana's eyes glance over some of the structures nearby, checking for lights on - people working late or celebrating, settling down to sleep or rising for night shift. Soriana's hand stays with Ka'el's, a grip that's tight enough to keep his close, not so clinging as to be smothering. Just there, warm and comfortable. Her fingers squeeze back to his, and her head tilts, looking up at him. How things are. What things? …all the things, and her lips quirk in a crooked smile. Where to begin? …so she doesn't, not immediately. Everything is a very big thing to answer all at once. She has to think it through, gaze drifting as they walk. "Maybe not everything." Her head turns again, looking back to Ka'el. "But I'm happy… and I don't know what I'd change." Her lips quirk a bit more lopsided. "Fewer meetings, maybe? But… they've all got reasons for them."

Meetings. Oh, wouldn't they all be happier with fewer of those? A chuckle for that and he nods, though he still watches her as if in wait. Just what sort of answer he's hoping for is unknown, even to him. But it's a very big question with an answer that may not be just black or white. "Sometimes I worry that I don't do the balance thing as well as I'm imagining," he admits as he continues to walk with her at that same meandering pace. "Sometimes, I get too carried away with one thing, and the other things get pushed a little further back on the list of things to pay attention to. … Marel, for example. I get caught up with her," he's willing to admit, watching the light of a firefly flicker out. "I want to help her, and so I do things for her. I visit with her. I spend time with her because I want to. And there's the wings. I meet and plan with them, and then I adjust and re-plan on my own for too long and meet again and start the process all over again. And there are other things and people that take just as much time or just as much effort, and when I finally sort've..step back and think, I realize that I've made time for everyone else.. For Skyler, and Marel, and our visitors, and the Wingleaders and Wings and traveling to Weyrs and Holds for visitation… but I don't make that sort of time for you." His steps slow. "And I know we live together and work together and maybe that's why I've never realized that I haven't been, but I realize that I haven't been making time just for you."

Work isn't really everything, is it? Oh, it's a part of everything - sometimes an important part - but it's not everything, and it's certainly not a part of the us that Ka'el mentioned. Except… insofar as it's their work because they're - between them - the Weyrleader and Weyrwoman, the two people who between them run - if not everything - this Weyr. Those wingleaders and wings and riders, the weyrfolk and visitors and holds… all of them, under one or the other of them, directly or indirectly their jobs. It's their everything, but it's not them. Soriana nods slowly to Ka'el, the wry quirk of her mouth settling back again as she watches him in the dim of the moonlight, listens to what he has to say. "Can only do one thing at a time…" she says, because it's one of those true things, but it's maybe not exactly the right answer. They're supposed to multitask those things, juggle those things. The grand and prioritized list of things, the one that's… everything. The one that doesn't actually exist in its entirety, but Soriana nods to the example Ka'el gives. Marel, his wingrider and his clutchmate and his friend. All good reasons to visit her, to help her, to do things for her. The wings, and she nods again. His wingriders are his job, friends or not. There's planning for them and what they should do, of them and what they will do. Other things… she smiles crookedly as she nods to that. There are always other things. They come in stacks of papers to the inbox, eager requests from passers-by. There's always something… but the amused smile fades as Soriana keeps listening. All those things to get done - all those things that do get done, but… "We spend a lot of time… together," she says, feeling out the words. "Doing things together." Other things. All the many other things, all the everything that they both have to do. Work. Skyler. Visitations. Soriana's steps slow to standing, and she turns toward Ka'el, studying his face in the moonlight. "…but when we're not doing something else… it's sort of always by accident, isn't it?" Her one hand still has his. The other one reaches out as well, seeking for his. "At least… lately. Since everything." It's not like there's time for everything, but… that's why they have the list, isn't it? So they can pick what goes to the top and sinks to the bottom, what gets done and what… happens by accident or not at all.

Ka’el allows his once free hand to slip into hers, and his fingers curl gently around her palm as he faces her. “I don’t want our time to always be coincidental … or things we do together because’ve work,” he says, his single nod a slow one. “I don’t want you to feel like the time I spend with you is only because there are leftover minutes in a day or because there’s nothing else at the moment that I have to do.” His hands lift hers, and slowly does he press a kiss to her knuckles, each one given slow, near sensual amount of attention before moving on to the next. For a short while, there are no further words, just those pressed kisses to her hands that he so carefully laces. “I love you.” Important words, these. Words that possibly aren’t said as often as they had been in the past. Murmured every now and then as he crashes into bed after long days or even longer nights, but rarely now spoken during meaningful conversations. True they needn’t be spoken every day. There are ways to show love instead of constantly speaking it, and he shows his in many ways. By caring for Skyler. By coming home to her. By making sure that the kitchens wraps a lunch for her when meetings run long. He shows in small and still smaller ways daily, but sometimes, hearing the phrase can be the assurance that cements all of those other ways. His hands pull away from hers now so that his arms can loop lowly around her hips as he steps closer to her. “My duty isn’t only to the Weyr and the riders. I’ve a duty to my family too, as a father and a weyrmate, and I’m going to balance that better. Being Weyrleader and Weyrwoman and working together isn’t the same as being Ka’el and Soriana and being together. My duty is to make sure that you and Skyler are safe and happy, and that you both know that I’m always going to be there when you need me for anything. .. You know that, don’t you? That I’ll be here for you, Weyrleader or not. I'm not going to disappear and leave you alone when you need me."

Actions speak louder than words… but sometimes, those words are still important ones. Soriana listens to Ka'el's, nods to him. Coincidences are… waking up next to someone because of a flight, not waking up next to someone because of the weyrmating symbolized by that braided ring on Soriana's finger. Her lips curve crookedly. As if there's ever a time when there's not something else to do, but… "I know." Those kisses… they show something, and then Ka'el tells it as well. Soriana's smile grows. "I love you too." The words are still as true as they've ever been - even if the one who says them, the one they're said to have changed over the turns from teenagers driven by impulse to adults responsible for a Weyr and family. Soriana steps toward Ka'el, trailing her fingers up along his arms and then draping them around his shoulders as she stands in against him. Her eyes trace his features, settle on his eyes as she listens. "Duty…" she says, and shakes her head. "That's only part of it." Soriana leans just a little closer, brushes her lips to Ka'el's lightly before drawing them away. "I want the time with you… as Ka'el and Soriana." She laughs, a single ha. "Not that I don't like working with you as Weyrleader." It's still Ka'el, even if it's Ka'el the Weyrleader. "But I don't want it to be… just the duties. Duty is… Skyler's dinner and his diapers." Or maybe that's doodie. "That's part of it… but if it's ever just duty…" Soriana trails off, shakes her head. "I want to play. To laugh and…" She leans in again, presses her lips to his for a slower, more lingering kiss. "…love you."

"I hear Ka'el and Soriana make a damn good pair," Ka'el remarks with vaguely inclined brows. "A well-rounded sort of people. Good manners and fun to be around. They're the life of any party, rumor has it. I hear they have a hell've a kid, too." He smirks a little, just a faint curvature of only a single edge of his mouth that, even though slight, belies a wealth of mirth within. He kisses her back when her lips press against his that second time, slow and warm and.. She pulls back to finish speaking, his mouth reclaims that smirk that's strengthened into a smile. "Snowball fights," he says, which could be considered an off the wall comment in most spring situations, but.. "Swimming in the lake," he continues. "Bonfires. Building snowpeople. Jumping from cliffs.." A fond smile for that. "..You're my favorite person to play with..even though Skyler's givin' you a run for your marks nowadays." The baby, while still technically a baby, is not as babyish as he once was. Playing is turning in to an art form! His hair shifts with the breeze, and as it does he leans in to kiss her cheek. "I like workin' with you too, but I swear it won't be just about that or duty. You and me? We have a good thing going. We've had a good thing goin' for…shards, I've lost count with the turns. Even when times haven't been so good, we've always gotten back to it being that way." Maybe it's magic working for them. Or the stars alignment in space. Or the random notion that these two people, at this point in their lives, simply work well with one another in many aspects. "Let's get Skyler. With any luck, he'll be ready for bed by the time we get him home." A devious smile follows as his arm briefly tighten their hold around her. "Faranth knows I am."

A grin slowly edges its way onto Soriana's face as she listens. "Well, if you're going to listen to rumors. People say all sorts of things in rumors." Or as rumors, if someone's inventing rumors about what people say as rumors. Great kissers could be another of those rumors. Probably should be one of those rumors, except for the fact that really nobody else has much evidence… at least not up close and personal. They might have watched at some point… from across the tavern. Or the clearing. Or across the caverns. These things happen… sometimes. They should happen more, along with… snowball fights? Soriana laughs, but she nods as Ka'el continues. All these things that they've done… together. Soriana leans in against Ka'el. Soriana plus Ka'el. The pair of them, together. A good pair… plus one, because now there's Skyler too. "…sometimes threesomes." Which is not so much the same when it's them and their kid, but it's still good to play. Soriana's grin turns to a more serious sort of expression - still smiling, but it's a serious sort of smile, one where… she's pleased at what she's hearing but not laughing it off. She nods. "It's been good." Really good. And sometimes bad. "We've… worked it out. Maybe that's the duty there… to try." A weyrmating ring that says they have to give working through their problems at least as much effort as went into making the ring. Soriana presses closer to Ka'el, her lips heading in toward his, and then they pause, only a hair away from a kiss. She laughs. "I hope Skyler wants to sleep." And then Soriana leans in that final hair and kisses him - one more time, just to make sure the rumors have a good source - before they head back to do their kisses somewhere that won't start any rumors… which is a shame really, because those sort of kisses would make for great rumors. Too bad. They're not for the Weyr. They're just for… Soriana and Ka'el.

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