What to Do with Oneself

Xanadu Weyr - Caverns
A massive cavern in its own right, this one has been skillfully adapted for human habitation. The high ceilings have been painted a light, soft ivory, as have walls hung with numerous tapestries that provide brilliant color and insulation from the stone. The floor has been left in its natural state, pale pink granite speckled through with glittering mica and dark flecks of basalt. The stone is carefully leveled but kept sufficiently rough to avoid slips.

The cavern itself is loosely divided into areas, each one set up to be suitable for some segment of the Weyr's population. The most frequently occupied area is the one near the Kitchens, where tables of varying sizes provide a place to sit down and eat or chat and a buffet of consumables is almost always kept stocked. It's plain that on most days, this area wouldn't accommodate anywhere near the full population of the Weyr, instead feeding people in shifts as they come off duty. On occasions when a formal meal is laid out, tables are borrowed from all the other areas.

There's also a big fireplace set into the western wall, several comfortable chairs nearby providing haunts for elderly residents or riders who like a good view of all that happens. Rugs cover the floor in strategic spots, all of them abstract or geometric in design and most in the softly neutral colors of undyed wool.

Exits lead off in all directions, the largest an archway to the northeast that leads outside. Near it there's an alcove with hooks for coats and shelves for muddy boots. A tunnel to the east goes to the infirmary, and a set of stairs just a little south of that lead up to the offices and administration area. To the south, a long and sloping tunnel leads down to the hot springs. The kitchen is off to the southwest, while the residents' quarters are reached by tunnels going west, deeper into the cliff.

It's probably a pleasant sort of spring afternoon outside since the foot traffic arriving from the passage outdoors isn't leaving behind wet footprints or muttering uncharities about the conditions while they move on to their next destinations. Andalise is equally probably not having that pleasant of a day, given how she's awkwardly folded into a seat against the wall at one of the smaller tables near the kitchens and sticking her lower lip out with a decided look of sullen concentration. An onlooker would probably be hard-pressed to determine if she's more frustrated with the askew handful of notes before her — or the imprecise way she's forced to handle a fork over her small plate of a before-dinner treat at the moment, the utensil tucked loosely into a hand whose first two fingers are rather snugly bandaged.

Most people get to enjoy regular meal times. Most people aren't generally busy during regular meal times. Such is the life of a healer, however, and Kyszarin has long been used to taking food when and where he can. At least the weather is pleasant enough not to have him run ragged dealing with chills or spills, only the usual strains and sprains of an overly active lifestyle like that most riders lead. Coming out of the kitchens with a small plate piled high with greens and a mug of something steaming in his other hand, the journeyman pauses to find a seat - not that there's a dearth of them in the nearly-empty caverns - before selecting one. Of course, he ignores all of the empty tables in favor of sliding bonelessly into a seat near Andalise.

Andy's on the tail end of a gusty exhalation that ends in a look of defeat before she quite notices that she's no longer at a table for one. Surprise, then confusion bloom over her face one after the other in quick succession. "Do I know you?" It's blurted in a hurry, although not without a genuinely embarrassed glance that ends on the other teenager's plate. "Sorry. I mean, uh — " Why her table? "I can move, " never mind that it would clearly take some doing for her to shuffle papers and plate together at present.

"Why bother?" Kyszarin is already making himself at home - and is clearly quite amused both by his actions and her reaction. "I hate to eat alone. Don't you?" Grey-blue eyes are wide and guileless as he places a neatly folded napkin next to his plate, then tucks a knife down atop it - just in case it wanders off, before gesturing at her with the fork in his other hand. "I mean, where's the fun in just staring broodingly into one's plate? And no," he adds in answer to her initial inquiry, "you don't know me. Not that I know of, anyway. But we can remedy that. I am Kyszarin, journeyman healer and all around pain-in-the-ass - if," he grins, "you believe my sister. But who would do something silly like that?"

Andalise squints at him from across the table, frame still poised as if bothering with moving is indeed still just what she plans to do. "Does that line actually work on people?" She rolls her eyes a little nonetheless, clearly still bemused even while her non-injured hand pushes her papers together so that she can nudge her plate a hair more to the left. "Well, I'm sure she's known you longer. I'm Andalise, but everyone calls me Andy." Except for the healers who have worked at the weyr over the past decade; there's probably an appropriate healer-epithet in there somewhere for one of their more frequent, non-rider visitors.

Again, Kyn's grin is quick, a flash of white teeth against honey-brown skin, just a bit boyish, just a bit sheepish. "Which one? I use so many, I hardly ever notice any more." Just a bit insincere is more like it. "I mean, nothing I said is a lie. I hate to eat alone, I don't like brooding into my food, and my name is Kyszarin." And does his sister think he's a pain? Probably. He digs his fork into his greens, spearing up a healthy mouthful before taking a bite, quickly chewed and swallowed. "Andalise," he echoes, eyes flickering to her bandaged hand. "Ah. I see." Maybe she has a file somewhere in the infirmary? "Well, Andy, does it bother you, me eating here? I'd hate to make a pest of myself before I've had a chance to show my good side."

"Some of us are kinda used to it, " mutters Andy, although whether that's for 'eating alone' or 'brooding into my food' remains to be seen. (Or maybe that's for 'being bothered.') "I never said I was bothered." There's an awkward twitch of her fork that might be meant to be a casual wave of her utensil for the cavern at large, however limited the motion at present. "It's a public space, isn't it?" Her cheeks are still pink as she adds, "If your good side equals a presentable bedside manner for your patients, don't worry — I'm sure I'll see it soon enough." It's part self-deprecation, part matter-of-fact with a glance tipped down to her hands.

"I've rarely had complaints," Kyszarin replies, once more flashing that grin as he shakes a forkful of greens at her. "And when I have, it's usually because I'm patient to a fault - if you're the cantankerous sort, be certain you'll see my bad side once I've exhausted my good." Setting down his fork with its current burden uneaten, he rests his elbow on the table, propping his chin upon his fist as he studies her. "And yes," he says quietly, "it is a public space - but that does not preclude my ensuring that your private space," and his eyes flick around her as if outlining a bubble, "is uninvaded. I have horrible manners, as evinced by my inviting myself to your dinner all unexpected," again, grin, "but that's not to say I'm a boor."

Andalise makes a bit of a face, to be sure, an expression that turns to one of surprise for a statement of such gravity. "That's amazingly respectful for someone who says he has horrible manners, " she muses after a beat or two lapse — maybe just long enough to imply that perhaps he was already halfway to boorish in her estimation but for this, the unexpected. "You didn't invite yourself to my dinner, anyway. Unless they teach you to have sweets for dinner at Healer Hall?" It's an awkwardly meant tease; there's a small once-square of cake on her plate, for all that it's been carved and smooshed into something far more formless courtesy of her new ba(n)d(a)ges of courage not-again.

"Let's just say some lessons in life are learned at great cost and to great effect," Kyszarin murmurs, his expression placid as he returns to his greens. "And dinner looks different ways to different people. Mine?" He gestures with his fork to the plate nearly cleared of its forage. "Others?" Fork is again pointed, this time at her cake. "Still others?" A passing bluerider's plate heaped high with meat rolls and sausages is indicated, with a flicker of distaste in the young man's eyes. "But as you will; I invited myself to your table." A flicker of smile touches his storm-and-sky eyes, curves the edges of his wide mouth. "So, Andy, when you're not carving cake in the Caverns or giving my ilk something to do with their time, what is it that you do?" After all, she knows his profession.

Andy opens her mouth before promptly closing it again, lips pursing into something between a grimace and a pout. He has a point, admits the silence into which she extends the scraping sound of fork-to-plate while fumbling after a piece that's too big to be called a crumb, yet too small to be a proper forkful. "Learning to get better at carving cake, " deadpans the knotless baker after swallowing. "I'm just an apprentice baker, though. It's been kind of hard to find a — niche and move on, you know?"

The knot on Kyszarin's shoulder suggests that no, he doesn't know, but he's kind enough not to say so. "Sometimes it's hard to decide what to do with oneself," he agrees instead, clearing the last of the greens from his plate and setting his fork down before leaning back in his chair. "Still, absolutely nothing wrong with baking. Or cooking. Or anything that produces delicious food. Appearances to the contrary," and he grins down at his empty plate, "I do enjoy a good spread… in moderation. What drew you to baking? What is it you enjoy doing most in the kitchen?" Nosy, nosy Healer - but that's probably a hallmark of the breed.

"The cooks said that it's safe enough, " probably isn't the sort of answer he's expecting, as Andalise all but drops her fork onto her plate and tucks her bandaged hand into her lap. "There was a lot of yelling from the cooks in charge when I was assigned to kitchen chores as a kid until I started sitting with the bakers. I guess I have a knack for learning how to work with dough and batter rather than all that other stuff for stews and main dishes and salads." Or she's had fewer mishaps with one branch of culinary arts than another. "It's peaceful to sit in there and knead, especially if your head feels a little full. Even nicer in the winter, of course." Dark eyes slide to the other teenager's shoulder. "What about you? Did you always want to be a healer?"

Ah, but the active mind of a healer can imagine all of the many things that could go so wrong. Fortunately, Kyszarin doesn't vocalize any of them, although his eyes flicker speculatively towards that bandaged hand. "They yelled at me too," he replies impishly instead. "I was forever dropping dishes until they banished me from the kitchens all together." Something about the glitter in his eyes suggests that his "accidents" were less accidental than one might think. "But I can imagine how calming it must be to be able to punch and pinch something with abandon and not get in trouble for it." Ahem. "Did I?" He glances at his own knot thoughtfully. "Once I had the opportunity to learn what healing was, yes. As a child, of course, my only goal in life was to ride a dragon. Still very much a life goal, in fact, but when I first started serving in the Infirmary… let's just say, I was fascinated. And I had a knack for it. So I gave it a shot. It paid off."

Andy doesn't exactly gulp at the mention of banishment, but the way her chin ducks down with that uncertain press of her mouth into a little line may reveal just how familiar she is with such threats — although surely with other chore arenas, if she's still every bit a baker apprentice. Her face lights up as he continues, followed by an eager, "Me too! Uh, not the healer part. I always thought it'd be nice to have a forever best friend like that, but I haven't plucked up the courage to try yet." She clears her throat a little. "One of the girls I grew up with did, though. She Impressed a pretty green and they seem so happy and well-suited." And maybe that's what she imagines for herself, if that almost-sigh that follows is any indication.

Kyszarin watches her quietly for a long moment. "My mother is a rider, as is my father. Some of my siblings - that I know of, at least," he adds with a shrug. "I've only met a few. I grew up in the Weyr; it was natural, I suppose, to be a bit dragonmad. But I still dream of it," he admits, lips quirking with a half-smile. "Even with all of the bad examples in my life." There's no way he's talking about Leirith. Right? Obviously, it's Teimyrth he's referring to. "And riding a dragon can only make healing easier, after all; let me get where I need to be when I need to be there. I've Stood a few times - mother's insistance. Hasn't stuck though." There's an odd note of relief in his words for a man who professes to want to Impress. "So for now, I heal. And I love it."

"I like to imagine that my parents are riders, " admits the baker as her uninjured hand lifts to give a sheepish sort of scratch at the side of her jaw. "I guess a lot of riders' kids end up in the weyr's nursery. Seems like it must be hard to take care of a dragon and a kid." There's an almost rueful smile. More matter-of-factly, "I never really thought about what I'd do if I worked up the nerve to try and actually succeeded. Not become the world's next master baker, I suppose, not that I seem to be on that track anyway. — But it's good that you love what you do. Would it bother you, though, not being able to work toward your mastery?"

"Mastery means more hidework," Kyszarin replies cheerfully. "I'm fine with the prospect of being a journeyman forever, especially if it means I can join the Search and Rescue wing. Trauma," he adds, jerking a thumb at his chest, "is my specialty. Mostly healing it; I promise I go out of my way to avoid causing it. But even as a rider you could bake. No need to give up your day job just 'cause you go and Impress. Unless," he adds meditatively, "you end up on gold. Probably a lot harder to maintain life as a crafter when you're busy helping run the Weyr." He falls silent again, watching her as he absently kneeds his thumb against his knuckle. "Does it matter if your parents ride?"

Andalise, who may well have had enough infirmary visits for two weyrbrats in the day, looks almost surprised again as he describes his vision for a world in which he's both healer and rider. "That sounds like a useful, if daring fit. No, I know I wouldn't have to necessarily give it up — well, unless I fail my next practical again." It's light and at least half joke. There's a rapid shake of her head in the negative for ending up in administration. "That would be too much for me. I'm used to being a little more invisible than the weyrwomen seem to get to be. Besides, I'm nowhere near organized enough for that kind of thing." She shifts a little in her seat, shoulders rolling in an awkward shrug. "It used to matter to me a lot more. I don't really know who they are. Maybe they're still here, maybe they never were." She looks as if she'd almost say more, but whatever else may be at the forefront of her mind must not be up for public consumption. Unlike the rest of her cake, from which she clumsily saws another little piece and chews.

Kyszarin chuckles as nods his agreement. "Yeah, I'd rather not end up in any kind of administration position, either. See my earlier commentary on not wanting my Master's knot," he adds with a shrug. "S'why I don't think I'd like to ride bronze. Too much risk of accidental responsibility." Wrong place, wrong time, and boom. Weyrleader. He falls silent, thinking. "A lot of people don't know their parents, especially in the Weyr. Good chance they're riders - but in the end, what matters is what you make of yourself. At least, that's how I see it," he murmurs, his gaze drifting towards the ceiling. "But I suppose I'm lucky. I know both of my parents, even if my mother might wish it otherwise." Storm-blue eyes slide down again, his smile self-mocking. "So have you been here at Xanadu all your life?"

"So that leaves you with blue or green, I suppose, since there's always a chance that a brown could, you know, " Andalise points out with a flutter of fingers from her fully functional hand. "No chance at all of accidental, er, job responsibility there." Although she gives him a little smile for the good fortune of knowing his parents, there's a wistful note to her softer, "Lucky, indeed, especially if they're interested in you and what you'll make of yourself." But that train of thought is (helpfully) derailed by his next query, to which she nods with a bright, "All my life. Well, unless you count the short time I spent in Ista once I decided to formally apprentice, but I didn't have to stay there long. It wasn't home, and I wanted to continue my training here." Much to the local cooks' and bakers' dismay, no doubt.

Kyszarin lifts his hands, waggling them back and forth. "Much less likely for a brown to win a senior flight, and a beast with some stamina would be quite useful for rescue work. A blue would be fine, though," he adds. "They're agile and can get into places a bigger dragon can't. Don't want a green, though, if I can help it." His lips curve slightly. "Although any dragon comes with a bit of risk, I'd prefer to have a bit more say over who ends up in my bed than I'd be afforded. But I'll never say no to a lovely lady," and his eyes glitter at her, "so if one comes a knocking, I'll hardly turn her away." He chuckles. "I've not been here long, myself. Only a couple of months now."

"Hey, less likely doesn't mean impossible, " Andy retorts, leaning forward a little. "It just means … less likely." It's an anticlimactic finish to that flash of spirit, for all that she flushes soon after. "It's enough dealing with — ah, that is, I think it'd be a little too much to have a second girl in my head who cycled through the turn like that." The hue of her cheeks deepens for that subsequent remark and its implications, which she apparently chooses to ignore entirely. "You're pretty new to the place, " she manages. "Is it a long-term posting, or just a temporary assignment?"

"I'm not certain I'd want even one girl in my head," Kyszarin replies blandly. "It's bad enough Leirith often catches a ride. Or comes crashing in uninvited, rather." He smirks slightly at the thought, then shakes his head. "But again, beggars can't be choosers, and I'm hardly one to look a gift dragon in the mouth. All those teeth, you know." He exhales, and says nothing about any implications in her words. "I am new, yes. Long-term is my goal; a lot will depend on how close to the line of annoying Risali I can push it without irritating her enough to have her throwing me back at Fort - or worse, Ista."

The brunette across from him gives a little shudder. "It's so startling, " agrees she. "I guess they're not all like that since there seem to be many silent-to-me dragons." She has a curious look for him that lingers as he outlines one parameter for the length of his stay. And lingers still more as she appears to really study his features for the first time in the wake of his familiar reference. "Are you — is she your sister?" Perhaps a more observant person would have connected the dots a little sooner. "I think some people would put it the other way around. At least you escape northern winters on the island." She doesn't come right out to ask just what's so much worse about Ista, but the question is there in her face.

"Alas, 'tis true, we share a father." And many other things besides. Kyszarin sends Andy a sheepish grin. "Don't blame me for the circumstances of my birth, however." Despite his words, there's no sign that he has any issue with either sister or sire. In the next moment, he confirms it with a shake of his head. "No, I merely joke; I am quite proud of my sister, though should such words get back to her, I will most vehemently deny it. And yes, most people would much prefer Ista to Fort - but most people don't have a mother at Ista who is quite put out with them for actively circumventing her efforts to have him posted back at the Weyr. I spent my whole life there - I want something new. I want to know all of my family, not just hers. I love her, but right now, I wish to do so from afar." He casts a sidelong glance at her. "Families are fickle beasts. Better to wish for a dragon."

Andy may not understand what it is to have a sister to be proud of or a mother who wants her child nearby, but she does know what it is to spend one's whole life in one place and wonder what else the world holds. "I don't know, " she says slowly, "the way I hear it, you can wish for one and somehow still end up with both, right?" A thoughtful cast settles over her expression, even as she carefully tucks her every-which-way pile of papers under an arm so that she can better scoop up her mostly-empty dish and unfold from her seat. Where most people might at least offer the nicety of a verbal farewell after such a conversation with a stranger, the apprentice flashes him an awkward smile instead before trotting carefully off in the direction of the kitchens.

"Indeed," Kyszarin murmurs, and he watches her go, absently fiddling with his fork with a thoughtful expression. Then he smiles to himself and settles back in his chair, enjoying the last brief moments before he returns to work.

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