It's What's For Dinner

Xanadu Weyr - Rustic Treetop Cafe
Perched on the cliff overlooking Xanadu's beach is a gnarled and massive skybroom tree. The bark and outer layers are sturdy enough to support the thriving, brushy top, but the interior, which is hollow, contains a spiral staircase that leads to a cafe built on a high platform amongst the branches. With a panoramic view of lake, sky, Weyr and the mountains beyond, the treetop eatery offers both sheltered seating just inside the trunk and tables on the wide deck that encircles the old tree.
The cafe's decor is comfortable and rustic, but closer inspection shows the smallest embellishments to be artfully combined into one detailed masterpiece. The wood of the doors, floor and walls of the trunk have been stained a dark mahogany that lends the space a sense of intimacy. Tables in various sizes have been carved to mimic driftwood, the chairs and benches padded with oiled sailcloth cushions to provide weather-proof comfort. Each table has an aged brass lantern filled with shells and agates gathered from Xanadu's shores, the sparkling natural mosaics holding tapered candles upright in their embrace. Lamps hang from the ceiling on silver poles, the thick frosted glass carved into intricate pastel shells or swirling white-capped waves. At night the colored glass softens the glowlight to enhance the ambience.
During the day, the retractable doors allow leaf-spattered sunlight to fill both the outer deck and the smaller interior with green and gold light, as well as allowing pleasant breezes to cool the interior. On clear nights, farviewers perch on the elaborately carved railing are free for use to enhance the gorgeous view of the stars over the Caspian Lake, the Sea of Azov beyond and the rock formations of the Weyr.

Sunset etches colors across the sky that glitter upon the surface of the lake and sea beyond. It's a spectacular sight from the treetop cafe, who is now opened for dinnertime guests. Many have chosen to dine outside on the deck. Who could resist such a view! And when the last hints of daylight are gone, which won't take long, the clear skies will twinkle with diamonds on warm summer night. Lights have been lit outside, providing a calm, intimate sort of atmosphere filled with the noise of chatter peppered with laughter here and there. Riders off from duties mill with wingmates. Men and women come in couples. Small groups of young women at tables for a ladies night out. And then there's Ka'el, who feels as if he should be anywhere but here. He wasn't sure what to wear. Is this a date? How could it be? They're not even…dating. Or are they? Should he dress down? Dress up? Are slacks too formal? Jeans too casual? He did opt for jeans and a button up shirt the same color of his eyes, trying for an in-between 'not too dressy not too casual' look. He hopes. But then he did something unplanned and stupid and stopped at the flower shop to buy flowers. Not terribly many, mind you. Too much of his money has been pissed off on liquor. But it's a small, cheerful bouquet of bright yellows and small whites which he holds unsurely as he sits at a table. He's like .. way super early for this. He's been here since the tail end of the lunch service and has gotten more than a few queer looks from server girls who keep asking if he wants something to drink or eat or..something that'd warrant him sitting at a table.

Soriana's made preparations for tonight. The first was this morning, when she put on her clothes. Simple ones, but carefully selected all the same. Nice without being fancy; a light blue shirt, loose and flowing, and dark leggings. She peeked at the Galaxy duty roster, and sent a message to Ka'el's weyr around mid-afternoon suggesting a time. (If only he'd been back to see it. Maybe she should have had Luraoth bespeak Kanekith, but… she didn't. Silence is… assent? Well. Maybe he'll be here. Maybe he won't.) The final preparation was made when she reached the base of the stairs, and that was to take the junior weyrwoman's knot from her shoulder and slip it into her pocket. Maybe the deep breath was a preparation too. She ascends the stairs, pausing at the top to look around. Is he here? Not there, out on the balcony. Not… oh. There he is. Soriana smiles as she starts toward him, but the expression grows uncertain by the time she gets there. She pauses, resting her fingers on the back of the other chair. The smile flickers. "Hey."

Yes. The flowers were a stupid idea. Ka'el's eyes have turned to a young man and young woman, probably in their early to mid twenties, who have met up here too. No flowers in tow, and its' obvious the two of them are on a date. Abort! Abort! Ka'el glances at the bundle of blooms, then looks around. What can he do with them? Throw them on the balcony? Give them to whoever next passes by and risk being labeled insane? If there's a fire, he can… oops. Too late! In his search for a quick way to dispose of the flowers, he spies Soriana. Shards, shards. Shells and shards. He clutches at the bouquet's base as he rises abruptly as she approaches, feeling like an idiot. "Hey," he answers, meeting her eyes for a blissful, yet awkward moment before they shift to her unknotted shoulder. Unknotted? And then, her chair. He should be pulling it out for her. They had lessons on this, and even if they hadn't, he'd've still known to do that. But instead, he's extending his arm, offering the flowers from across the table. "Thought you'd like these." Or maybe he found the one type of flower she's allergic to. That'd be his luck.

There's a little candle at the table. Ka'el could feed the flowers to it, one at a time? It might be kind of awkward, though. Also the waitstaff might object, and he's already on thin ice with them, what with the not ordering anything. Soriana pulls out her chair for herself, then pauses to look at the flowers, briefly - and up to Ka'el. "…thanks," she says, and settles herself into the seat before reaching to take them. Her gaze lowers to the bouquet, regarding it for a moment. "They're nice."

Flowers, taken. Ka'el vaguely braces, though he's not sure what for. An explosion? Sneezes? Perhaps the bundle of stems, leaves, and flowers thrown back in his face? Well luckily none of the above do happen and so he sits with little fanfare after she does. "Yeah, I thought maybe you'd like 'em." .. Wait, didn't he already say that? Fardlesnot on a wherry's backside! He curses in his mind and lapses into awkward silence. Five seconds. Ten. "Didn't know if you wanted to sit inside or outside. We can move outside if you like? I didn't want to make you feel like you were trapped or somethin'" With him. With no escape other than flinging oneself over the railing! Ahem. He's looking at the base of that candle as he talks, and he's mercifully saved by the arrival of a waitress, who is glad that this table doesn't seem to be an utter bust now that someone else is here. "Can I get y'all something to drink?"

An explosive sneeze that flings the entire bunch of them into his face, thus taking care of the entire range of options at once? But none of those happen. Soriana just nods, a little. "I mean… yeah. Thanks for… thinking of me." Not that he could avoid it, likely. What with being here and all. But he was thinking about her beforehand, too! And (probably) not just with a lingering sense of dread. Soriana starts to sigh, then pauses to shake her head. "This is fine. Everyone wants the balcony." Except her? "So it's crowded." She shrugs, then looks up as the waitress arrives. Oh hey distraction! "I'll have a lemonade," she says with the polite smile, then glances to Ka'el. Watching. …M'kal said he was… drinking. Like. A lot?

Something to drink. Oh … does Ka'el ever. Ale. Brandy. Whiskey. A shot of vodka. Champagne. Wine. Some under the table bootleg moonshine. He'll take it all. Just line them up. Keep'm comin'! Keep'm comin til he can't take any more and walking becomes hazardous but it doesn't matter to him because the brain is dull and feelings are dull and everything is fine. He looks up, glancing to the bar, his eyes lingering longer there than they have on Soriana thus far. "I'll have…" But he promised. He shifts in his seat enough to slide a few fingers into the pocket of his jeans and retrieve a small note, worn at the folds where it has been opened and closed. He doesn't read it, nor does he bring it upon the table and instead fingers the edges of it beneath it, on his lap. He promised. "Water," he finishes, looking to the waitress. "Water's fine, thanks." Unfold. Fold. Turn. Unfold. Fold. The waitress nods and heads off with a promise that she'll be back to take their orders momentarily, and they should really considered the roast bovine tonight. It's divine! "How's Luraoth?" he asks. A safe topic.

Soriana nods, ever so slightly, as Ka'el makes his order. So. Water. She looks away for a moment, following the motion of the waitress between the tables, then returns her gaze to Ka'el. Luraoth? "She's good. Went hunting today. It was…" Heh. "Like the first ones all over again. Awkward." Not so awkward as to keep her from the pens… yet. But awkward enough to bring a crooked little smile to Soriana's face, one that lingers - at least a little - as she tilts her head to Ka'el. "How's it been with Galaxy?"

Unfold. Fold. "Will she not be able to hunt for herself? Kanekith's wanted to bring down extra. Bring it to her. I haven't seen much reason.." He's talking to the candle, though his eyes do lift for the span of short seconds every now and then, though never quite meeting her gaze. He'll look to her nose. Her cheek. Areas around her eyes, though not directly to them. "Galaxy's fine. A lot of work. .. We get to see a lot of Xanadu, though. Places around the weyr that I've never paid much attention to."

"Yeah. She… won't, soon." Soriana frowns a little, looking down, away from Ka'el. At the table. "I mean, she could hurt herself. And once the eggs are laid, she won't want to leave them. Even to hunt. So…" She nods to… her spoon. "If he wants to hunt for her… that's good." Soriana draws her attention back to Ka'el, looking at him before directing her gaze back to the flowers. She reaches out her free hand, brushing one of the stems. "Yeah? It-" the duty roster "-said you had water patrols this morning. What's that? Just… flying over the water?" Which would be the obvious answer. The simple one. This whole conversation seems to be circling the obvious and the simple, but… at least it's a conversation?

She checked the Galaxy roster? To see where he was? Ka'el's eyes lift hopefully in spite of himself. But .. no. Wait. Why would she check specifically for him? It's probably one of her duties. How to decipher the rosters for the different wings. It may be her duty to know where the riders are posted for the day. Not just him. So he wrangles that stray feeling of hope back down, and his eyes follow, watching a teardrop of wax make a slow descent down the candle before hardening near the bottom. "Pretty much. It isn't as boring as it seems though. We check with the docks, know which ships are out and where. Do a fly over and make sure everything's alright. Weather hasn't been bad so there's not much to worry of. Hasn't been a pirate attack in turns, they say." The fiddling of his paper slows now. "You can see the currents. It's weird, but cool. I never had much reason to pay close attention to the water before." His thoughts turn to Luraoth, but before he can comment further on her, here come there drinks! A yummy looking glass of lemonade with lemon garnish for Sori, and plain ol' boring water for Ka'el. "Y'all ready to order?" she asks chipperly, to which Ka'el gestures to Soriana, politely. Ladies first.

The wings are the Weyrleader's responsibility. Soriana had to ask someone from Quasar where to find the chart - not that it's a secret, or at least not one where a junior weyrwoman has to do more than express curiosity to get access, but… it's not her department. She looked anyway. Now, she nods, her eyes rising back to Ka'el too late to have a chance to intercept his but still lingering on him as he explains. "Doesn't seem so bad. I mean… the water's pretty." One corner of her mouth twitches. "I suppose it's not so good when there's storms, though." But then, isn't that what Galaxy's there for? To protect the Weyr? "Some of the ships have radios," she adds after a moment, "But not many." And then the drinks are there, and she glances up to the waitress and nods. "Thanks." Ready… are they? A brief glance to Ka'el, but then all eyes are on her, so… "I'll have the spiced wherry sandwich."

"Pasta. Please," says Ka'el, adding a side order of a bread roll and the vegetable of the season. After being praised of making excellent choices, and commenting on how the spiced wherry sandwich is her absolute favorite thing in the menu, the waitress heads off to place the order and move on to another table with her happy, tip-hopeful attitude. "I wouldn't know what to do with a radio," Ka'el says. "We don't use'm much. They go down more often than they're up, and they're hard to hear from when flying." He sets his note on his lap and extends a hand to reach for his glass, taking a drink. Gulp….gulp….gulp. That's right. He was going to comment on Luraoth. "Kanekith's been acting differently. It's .. good. He's better with people. If Luraoth needs him, he wants to be there. If he's getting in your way with anything, let me know." Though even as he says this, he doubts it's been happening. "I .. dunno how all of what's happening with her is gonna .. you know. How it'll effect you. With those eggs in her, does it feel weird for you?"

…despite neither of them having gotten the herdbeast the waitress praised so much. It's as though any option they picked would have been a good one (the ovine stew's being lauded, three tables over). Soriana doesn't bother to watch her go, this time, though she does nod. "They'll train you on it at some point. Galaxy takes the night shift on the main radio." A shrug. "The more experienced riders, I guess. The ones who know what to do if something happens." As opposed to during the day, when Soriana would be expected to staff that radio during a crisis? Maybe there's something strange there, but it's not all that important right now. Soriana reaches for her glass and takes a sip of the lemonade, then nods. "I've noticed," she says of Kanekith. "He's been fine. I…" She frowns, and looks away. "I don't really have anything that he could get in the way of." A Weyrwoman with an eggheavy queen doesn't really go anywhere except to her paperwork and her dragonhealer appointments. So much for taking that trip to Ierne and the fancy resort hotel. Soriana's gaze lowers, looking at the bunch of flowers. Luraoth'd like them. She likes flowers. Soriana… has never much thought herself one for flowers. So. "I don't know." She glances up to Ka'el. "I… Luraoth's different too. I don't really… understand it. She's happy, but. I don't get it. It's… not like proddy, at least. I'm not just…" She looks down. "…dragged along."

So there's radio in his future? Ka'el remembers Soriana's comments regarding that particular part of her job. … Oh, joy of joys, he can hardly wait. -.- He nods, opting to keep comments to himself and instead he watches her as she watches those stupid flowers he never should've brought. It's easier to watch her when she's not watching him. So close, yet so far. His fingers miss the touch of her skin and texture of her hair. His lips are lonely without hers to press to. He misses hearing her voice beneath the blanket of darkness, informing him of her day, and at times, the secrets of who she is. Her worries. Fears. Insecurities. Triumphs. Failures. Maybe this was the punishment. To have her so near, a visual reminder of what he had, what he wants, yet be unable to claim it back. Eyes downturn. "I told Mur'dah to check on you," he says, albeit somewhat tensely as if each of those words took effort to link as a phrase. "Because I don't know if you'll need something when she's like this. I dunno if it hurts when dragons clutch their eggs on the sand. If you'll hurt when she does it. Or if the bigger she gets the worse you'll feel, or if you'll feel sick or anything. So in case you need somethin' and you can't.. you feel too bad to do it yourself, I asked'm to check on you…because I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable." Afraid. That's the word he means to use. If he comes himself, he may make matters worse. He stares hard at his glass, beaded now with condensation. "M'kal said he would too. . Just so you know if they come by often."

Soriana glances up to Ka'el at that strange combination of words. Now she's looking at him… now that he isn't looking at her. It's like they're taking turns with it, to see each other's face. To watch, not unaware of it, but… not reciprocating. Not quite. "You… did." It's not a question; she believes him. It must be a statement, but it's one that sits oddly. Mur'dah. Not that she doesn't like the brownrider, doesn't trust him, because she does. He's heard a share of her secrets, though not as many as Ka'el. Her gaze lingers on him. Ears she's murmured to. Eyes that've seen her in all sorts of ways. A mouth that… Her mouth frowns. Uncomfortable. Afraid. Hurt. She bites at the inside of her lip, though she nods slightly as M'kal's name is added. And then she's silent for a moment. He cares about her. Of course he does, says one part of her, but another part seems convinced this is a revelation. Something to be thought over and considered and carefully picked apart and- "Will you come?" Or impulsively responded to before she's had a chance to do all that thinking. That's an option too. Soriana takes a breath but doesn't look away, finishing the impulse of her words. "When she clutches. Will you come and… watch with me?" Or… be there if it hurts? Though she's never seen that mentioned in a dragonhealing book. Then again… some things aren't.

Will…who come where? The question, for many seconds, doesn't make sense to Ka'el, and his brows furrow as the tries to decipher them. Maybe the water has been laced with vodka, because what his brain does comprehend is that she's asking for him. But .. no. That's nonsensical. 'No it isn't', insists his brain, smugly, as Soriana continues, clarifying it herself. 'See?'. He blinks, looking up. Do his eyes finally meet hers? Blue to familiar brown pools which he's shared his own secrets with. Revealed a Ka'el who is not all smiles and jokes and has given her the key to that locked away part of himself he keeps so guarded. She wants him at the clutching? Hope, that same flutter of it that was wrestled down, escapes again and climbs its way up his chest. "I don't want to ruin it for you, Sori," he answers. "I remember Sahazyth's. I remember how Briana looked. I even remember that shardin' wher buryin' the eggs. Everyone was excited and happy and… I .. I ruined your flight. I remember not knowin' who it was I woke up with, an' then hearin' your voice and I remember feelin' so shardin' happy that it was you. Til.." Yeah. He needn't go into the details of 'until'. His eyes stray. "Everything from here on should be perfect for you. You should be happy. Everything about clutch day should be happy for you." He smiles, rueful, knowing that he's not part of her happy. Not anymore. "I'll see through Kanekith. .. It'll be alright."

Eyes do meet, because for the moment, Soriana's not looking away. Maybe she's forgotten to - gone and ruined the careful dance of he looks down, she looks down, they both look away and stare at candle or spoon or… she blinks, a sort of incomprehension. Ruin it? And… Sahazyth's… she nods, but it's more acknowledgment than agreement. She has the same memory. She knows what Briana was like. "But…" It's only half voiced - if that. A quarter? And it subsides again as Ka'el continues. Her flight. The confusion - the other rider it almost was, the lithe bronzer from she doesn't know where (but she certainly doesn't know his name), and… she shakes her head. A small motion at first, then a larger one. A firmer one. "I'm not Briana." He looks away. She still doesn't. "Yeah, she was excited. She was excited about her own baby, too." And Soriana can't help but make a face. Maybe all the sourness in the lemonade caught up with her all at once? Maybe. "It won't be perfect. None of this is perfect. What would have been better? For me to wake up next to a guy I didn't even know?" Who might have been just as rough. Soriana frowns, and now she finally looks away. "Do you not want to?"

"If he could've not done what I did then yes, Soriana," replies Ka'el, his voice not growing in volume but indeed growing in .. intensity. It's the reoccuring word of the day. "It would've been better because then you wouldn't feel unsafe with me. You'd still want me, if it'd've been somebody else." The note in his hand is unintentionally crushed within his palm as his hand clenches into a fist. These are hard words for a man who for turns has fought to keep her his and his alone. A prideful man. A jealous man. The ntoe is thrust back into his pocket, and he takes a swallow of water. Could've been ale. Could've been whiskey. The glass is clunked down, and he exhales a breath. "I want to. I wanna be right there with you, but not if I'm the only one that's gald that I'm there. Not if I make you scared." And right on cue, because things couldn't possibly get any more serious, their food arrives! "Here you go, hun." Sori's plate is set before her, then Ka'el's, the girl obviously oblivious to anything other than her goal: Get a good tip! "Anything else I can get for you folks?"

The frown tugs again at Soriana's lips. If he could've… but what if he couldn't? And… but that's not the real problem, is it? What's ruined… it's not the flight. Not really. It's not like there was something there to be ruined. The options ranged from mediocre to bad, on the human side, and on the dragon side, it went just fine! No, what's ruined is… the humans. The relationship. Soriana's jaw shifts, setting to a stubborn position. Is this what it is? That she's … scared. Is that all the problem is? He wants to be there? Well, good, because "I-" Plunk. Oh, look. The food's here. So much for intense looks and earnest proclamations. "Oh. Thanks," Soriana says with a lopsided attempt at a polite smile. "I'm fine." Go away. Now. Leave her be. Let her try to recover the serious conversation. The one that goes, "…but I do want-" No! Bad waitress. That wasn't a request for you. Soriana shakes her head briskly, trying to cast off those tip-hopeful eyes.

The poor waitress. So hoping to do well so she can earn that tip money that's going to help her purchase those glorious new shows he saw in a shop window last seven! She must have them. And so yes, she does linger, hearing the key word 'want' slip from Sori's mouth. What is it that you want, dear? "More lemonade?" Wait, no? Pout! How about you, sir? Oh look, his water glass is about empty! "I'll fill that right up for you!" She swoops in to snatch th glass up and floats away with it. The food smell is mouth-watering. Meat and pasta and sauce fried tubers. Ka'el watches Soriana. "Bab-…" Meh. "Sori, it's alright. When it's time for her to clutch…you'll let me know what you want to happen. If you want me there, I'll be there. I promise." But she won't. Though his hope still flutters, the reality of yesterday is too fresh for him to give it much credit. He can't fix what he broke. His fork is lifted. "Let's eat."

At least filling the water-glass gets the waitress away for a moment. Soriana nudges the sandwich on her plate. Spiced wherry. Sauce. Chopped things in a sort of salsa, all tucked between two slices of bread. She pokes it without really looking at it, because her gaze is up on Ka'el. Watching him, as he equivocates and then… promises. She nods. "Okay." If she asks him, he'll be there. So when the time comes… she'll just have to ask. That's all. And now, it's time to eat. "Yeah," she says, and picks up her sandwich to take a bite. It's good food. The waitress at least has that much in her favor as she quests for the tip. Even if her eager attendance is not entirely what Soriana wants, tonight… but then, she's still not sure what she does want. Not really. For tonight, that means she eats her meal and has a conversation with Ka'el that turns to lighter things, because it's hard to stay serious when a waitress keeps interrupting to ask how the meal is or if she wants more lemonade now or… whatever. How things are in Galaxy. What the trader ships he's overflown have brought to Xanadu. The weird stuff she found in the stores the other day. That sort of thing. It's pleasant enough, and at the end of it… she smiles as she says she'll see him later, though there's no goodnight kiss, or even a goodnight hug. She does take the flowers with her, though.

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