Xanadu Weyr - Observatory
The main potion of this enormous building consists of the domed central structure which houses the enormous telescope. At dusk, the dome parts and scrolls back to allow the scope to extend towards the heavens. The computer console with all the knobs and buttons controls focus and position as well as projecting onto the extra large screen placed high enough for all to clearly see it. Around the perimeter are seats for onlookers to join the nightly sessions.
To one side is a short corridor leading to several offices for the masters and journeymen Starsmiths and one main workroom for scribes.

Having left the disastrous interview with the Weyrwoman, Darsce's feet took her not to the headwoman's office, where she was expected to go, but to the Steward's office. Distraught, she wanted him - probably to laugh and tell her she's having a nightmare - but no can find. Turning from his office, she again eyes that door to the office Ocelara occupied so capably. At least, she assumes she was capable since nary a ripple in her preoccupied existence marred her tenure in the resident cavern. Left alone with the chaos of her thoughts, she's looked where she thought the duties of Steward might take Jethaniel and finally, increasingly distraught, gives up. Now she's just wandering aimlessly, wending her way up the meadow ridge with that fancy knot in hand, entering the observatory without any plan at all. Shock has set in and she might even be hyperventilating a tiny bit.

The duties of the Steward can be wide-ranging. Oh, Jethaniel almost always starts the day in his office - and often spends much of it within those walls - but there are other things. The duties of someone at this administrative level are complex. Sometimes, it's meetings; other times, inspections. Sometimes it's providing oversight, and sometimes merely providing the awareness that oversight exists. The observatory, during the day, is usually a quiet place. The dome is closed and the starcrafters who've been on duty overnight are catching up on sleep. This afternoon, though, some are awake. A small group - mostly journeymen - is at a table near the telescope, discussing in heated tones something that mostly seems to involve letters and numbers. Standing among them is a wide-ranging Steward, just where he isn't expected. Perhaps the green firelizard on his shoulder might be more apropos to the setting? However, Stardust - bright as her hide may be - appears far less interested in mechanisms for investigating the heavens and far more so in curling her tail about Jethaniel. As Darsce enters, the Steward is shaking his head. "Fascinating as that may be, it does not alter the resources available…"

There he is! But… oops? He's in a meeting. This place is… er… not deserted as Darsce assumed it would be. She squints towards the closed dome, assuring herself that the huge star-gaze-y thingie is put away and not aimed at the sky, before her eyes land back on the group at the table. Starcrafters she sees plenty of since she oft keeps the same hours as they do. Why aren't they just dragging themselves to the caverns for their wake-up klah like she would be if Thea hadn't woken her at the crack of midmorning? With anyone else she might interrupt the meeting but it's Jethaniel and so she'll just loiter in the…onlooker area and try to keep out of trouble. Or… not. There's that array of tempting knobs and buttons to fiddle with absently while she waits.

The dome is quite closed, since there's rather too much light out for the sensitivity of the instruments. The telescope is adjusted to pick up where last night's stargazing ended… or, at least, it was. There's a knob labeled 'Declination' that makes satisfying clicking noises when it moves. It provides rapid feedback, as the telescope itself is slower to respond - besides, the hydraulics that change its positions are very quiet. This is an advantage, when working in proximity late at night. It is less of one when someone might wish to become aware of a delicate telescope inching toward the (closed) dome. The conversation makes it even more difficult for any of the people who know what they're doing to notice. The exchange between Jethaniel and the starcrafters continues for a while longer,over much the same subjects as it's already covered. Mostly budgets, and just how much extra room they have. "-may appeal to the Hall," Jethaniel concludes. The extra room is insufficient for the request, and he turns from the starcrafters to let them grumble amongst themselves as he starts back toward his office and desk.

Oops again? Darsce doesn't even realize that the clicking knob has set the scope in motion, for she's absorbed by the clicking noise it made when she turned it the few notches she managed to before totally losing interest. What's this one do? She pushes it and a sliver of daylight knifes across the polished floor. Ack. Not what she meant to do! She doesn't know how to stop it, doesn't know bright light will damage sensitive equipment. In fact, she doesn't know much of anything, except skin tones, blending techniques, styling trends, fabric types, color schemes… The meeting is ending, but Darsce is frozen, finger over the panel. To push or not to push? There's no panic button, but there is a Steward. So she hisses a whispered plea for help, "Jethaniel!" Because he knows everything, at least in her mind. And those starcrafters will never notice the blinding shaft of sunlight widening across the floor, right?

Preventing disasters is a part of the duties of a Steward. The light itself will (probably) not be excessively damaging, unless - more to the point, the fragile and very expensive lens is getting perilously close to the incompletely opened dome. Furthermore, if the situation continued unaddressed - but it doesn't, because Darsce's address of him draws Jethaniel's attention. "Darsce?" he asks as he turns that way. On his shoulder, Stardust lowers her head and chirps, then coils around to his other shoulder and spirals away into flight. Off she goes! Huff! The firelizard soars to that streak of daylight, then flicks her wings to shoot through the gap. If the starcrafters hadn't noticed it by the mere increase in photons, that will certainly contribute. Eyes are turning. Jethaniel's are occupied by Darsce. "What are you doing here?" …and why is that light on? That status light shouldn't be on. "Ah." There is a panic button, as it happens. It's just poorly labeled and hidden under a switchguard. It makes everything stop moving. It also means everything needs recalibration, a process which takes hours. Don't push the button unless you're sure. Jethaniel takes in the expression on Darsce's face and the fact that she's standing, unsupervised, next to a great many knobs and dials, and… he presses the button.

Darsce's eyes absently follow the trajectory of brightgreen blur to the slit in the dome, iceblue eyes return to Jethaniel when the firelizard disappears. What is she doing here? "Nothing!" she says snatching her hand away from the panel and behind her back in childish reflex even though caught red-handed. The hand with the knot joins it but that is reflex also when she becomes aware of the starcrafters looking their way. Diaster - at least in her mind - has been averted and so she says, "Thanks," devoid of her usual bouncy glad-to-see-you tone or smile. Just wide eyes glued to his face as one drowning might stare at an on-coming ship. "Stardust is proddy," she says in an offhand vaguely casual notation. Unless he polished her with something other than oil and then it's a question.

Disaster has been averted. It has been replaced with Problematic Incident. Darsce did, however, clearly establish such things as an outcome of her continued presence here. Jethaniel takes a moment to look over the panel, his frown one of concentration. This is not an area of his expertise. That would be the domain of the starcrafters - who are now doing more than just looking. Some of them have gone to the scope itself to double-check things. Another one, with a rather displeased expression, is making for the controls. Jethaniel lifts his gaze from the panel to Darsce's face, and the tone of his concern adjusts to one less practical and technical. His hand reaches out toward her, then falls away at her comment. "It… seemed plausible," he says softly, and glances away - at which point he notices the approaching starcrafter's scowl. Jethaniel draws himself up straight. "You may have a meeting tomorrow evening." The same meeting Jethaniel refused, back when he was saying no by the telescope. "We will discuss matters then."

As far as Darsce is aware, all she's done is open the dome fractionally. She hasn't noticed the change in scope position, but those frowns, she notices those. And that the starcrafter is clearly unpleased and maybe blaming Jethaniel. She'd never speak like this to him, but to the micromanaging 'crafter, she says, "Nothing's… broken. Relax, will you? Have another mug of klah. Geeze." She rolls her eyes. You see, Thea? THIS is partly what she should NOT be wearing the fancy knot. Her hand moves to Jethaniel, touching his arm lightly, beseechingly, "I need to talk to you!" Please, not where they can hear her, she's trying hard to hold her agitation together.

Thea will doubtless be getting a report on this. For the moment, however, Jethaniel is intercepting the starcrafter's ire - which certainly isn't helped by Darsce's flip comment. There's a flurry of words about equipment and reset times and delays, and Jethaniel nods and reiterates that he'll discuss it and promises nothing in particular. Darsce's touch makes him tilt his head down toward her briefly, and her request makes him nod, but it's still several moments before he actually turns away from the starcrafter and back to her. "Come with me." It could pass as an intention to lecture her, if his expression were not a great distance away from anything like stern. It at least serves to keep the starcrafter from following as he leads the way to one of the small classrooms - which is, at this hour, quite empty.

It would be quite the entertaining verbal ping-pong if it weren't Jethaniel in the hotseat and so Darsce doesn't enjoy it in the slightest. She does, however not add fuel to the fire and interject any further sarcastic (and need we say ignorant) comments. Someday she may learn the intricacies learning what other people do in the areas of Xanadu, but today? Is not that day. She doesn't even flop indolently down in a chair, but stands there, with a dazed, if faintly troubled expression for whatever trouble she's caused Jethaniel, her thoughts a million, make that about a half-mile away, for the duration. She follows him to the classroom, entering it only to pace aimlessly turning back to him, her voice unnaturally strained, "Jethan-" she stops, draws a breath that does little to steady her. "I'm sorry-" she does mean that, whatever it was she did. But then she starts laughing in a sort of strangled way, made all the more odd by the tears brimming in the iceblue eyes that remain on him. Help me, they say.

There will be ramifications and meetings and complaints, but for now, the starcrafters remain behind and occupy themselves with assessing the damage - the better to complain about it later. Jethaniel closes the door to the classroom, then turns to look at Darsce. Her apology makes his head tilt slightly, acknowledging it. "The…" situation appears to be continuing to unfold, for Darsce begins to laugh - or is that cry? Jethaniel's eyes widen, and he crosses quickly to Darsce, reaching out his hands to touch at her arms gently, fingers curving against them as he studies her face. "I do not believe there is any lasting harm," he says - on the matter of the telescope, since that is the only one of which he is aware. "I once did something similar." A faint smile crosses his lips, quick to fade.

Under his hands Darsce's arms are shaking. But she misunderstands Jethaniel's direction of topic, having dismissed the incident in the other room already. She gulps out, "Not yet there isn't. But there will be!" And unless he backs away or otherwise deflects her, the distraught young woman throws herself into his arms and clings to him. "She's crazy, you know that?! She… she wants me to-" the rest is incoherent blabbling because it all comes out in a rush that crams all the words together as one. Besides that it's all directed into the hollow of his shoulder where she's buried her face. Still laugh-crying.

"There… will?" Jethaniel repeats, confusion clear in his face. He makes not the slightest effort to deflect her, instead putting his arms around her as she clings to him. One hand strokes lightly around her back, an attempt at calming as she explains the situation in a way that does nothing at all to reduce his confusion. He doesn't try to stop her in that either, brushing his fingers against her back and waiting until there's what sounds like a break between words and/or sobs to ask what is hopefully a pertinent question. "…who is?"

Under his hand her back shudders and heaves with the laughter-tears. Please don't slap her! She'll stop in a minute, really! "Uh huh," Darsce's head moves in a firm nod against his neck. She's convinced of it! It seems lately that every time she's around Jethaniel Darsce is crying. She's usually not like this, not that he'd know. She hasn't cried in turns, if you don't count the time she gut-punched Ers'lan when he tried to give her a white knot. She takes a deep, steadying breath, lifts her head to tilt her face to see him better. "Thea, that's who. She gave me this!" And the headwoman's knot is lifted and shaken in a wordless gesture of frustrated bewilderment. Oh, did he not have enough incident reports? This is a recipe for disaster.

It is fortunate for Jethaniel's peace of mind that he is aware correlation is not equivalent to causation, or he might draw some unfortunate conclusions regarding his presence and Darsce's emotions. As far as her current state, he lacks sufficient information to draw any conclusions, and so he waits, hand moving gently. He has paperwork waiting for him, but he waits. Maybe if he waits long enough, the starcrafters will have left and he won't have to deal with them until tomorrow night. When she looks up, his eyes meet hers, holding concern and questions. His brows lift at the name she gives, and as she brandishes the knot, he blinks in surprise. "Ah." He stares at it for a moment. "Thea gave you… that. Headwoman." Jethaniel's expression changes, becoming rueful and almost, in the moment before he glances aside, apologetic. "That," he murmurs quietly, "-was not the nature of the imprecision in the analogy."

"Yeah, she did," says Darsce, the whole idea of her being stuck with the responsibility is ludicrous to her. Hey - at least Ka'el and she will agree on something! Wait until he hears about this - oh lordy! "It was that or I have to leave Xanadu." She jerks her chin in the general direction of the Weyr proper, nostrils flare indignantly and the panic reasserts itself, her fingers curling into his shirt. "I can't DO this, Jethaniel, I-" Blink. "Whut? Analogy?" Her shapely brows furrow with the attempt to comprehend.

Jethaniel frowns slightly at the mention of Darsce leaving Xanadu, then gives his head a small shake. "You are very capable, Darsce," he says as his arms briefly tighten around her, then relax - though he has, of yet, no intention to release her entirely unless she's the one doing the departing. Which he may yet consider a risk, to judge from the way his head turns down and to the side as he explains. "It was an attempt to explain why people do things they are not entirely authorized to do, and to suggest that the consequences should match the nature of the actions taken." One corner of his mouth quirks. "I used myself and my appointment to Steward as an example."

"Capable at party-planning, jewelry and clothing design but not… I don't even know what a Headwoman does!" Not that Darsce's cared to find out, either. Nor does she now, really. She's going to fail as Headwoman, but that's not what's bothering her. Well it bothers her, but that's not the most troublesome thing on her mind at the moment. Later she'll panic about her job performance. When it occurs to her conscious thought. The trigger for that gut-punch was Ers'lan's suggestion that she'd have a chance at a 'real life' if she accepted Search. Her response then was borne of panic at the idea of the complexities, including change and responsibility and in part, that's what's freaking her out right now too. Those arms around her are helping to keep the majority of that panic at bay - but only just. There's something she wants to protest or clear up. But first, confusion: "Your… appointment?" A flick of puzzled iceblue goes to his knot and back. "Was it a punishment?" Because she's sure hers is! But he's so…perfect! How could anyone ever think to punish him?

Ensuring that dinner shows up in the caverns is rather like party-planning, and seeing to it that the dormitories are suitably stocked with clean sheets bears at least a mild resemblance to clothing. The analogies are, however, imprecise, which Jethaniel acknowledges with a small nod. "You could learn, if you wish." Of that he is certain - though whether Darsce will actually want to do so is another question entirely, one at best only vaguely related to Thea's order. His arms remain around her, so long as she wishes, and his grey eyes slip back to hers. "No." Thea's been very clear on that fact with him. "It was, however…" He trails off for a moment, then smiles. "I did not request the position. Nor expect it." Nor have any real clue what he was supposed to do with it.

"She said to read Ocelara's notes," says Darsce with a little wrinkle of her nose. She has the assistant headwomen and the juniors to - ahem - fall back on, or so she thinks, and for now the idea of learning is set on the back burner with a nod. "I…see," she says of his promotion, perhaps considering anew her predicament. Something motivated him to learn stewardship. And she can be motivated by, well, fear of banishment. But that's not her quandary. She might be this freaked out if he were to bring her home to meet his mother. Or maybe not. Maybe so though. Her fingers curl tighter in the fabric of Jethaniel's shirt, her breath coming faster as her panic rises. She starts in a rush. "They don't allow ranking weyrfolk to…to…" What Darsce and Jethaniel are is vaguely undefined (do those two words create an oxymoron?) Anyway, she knows that fraternization of wingriders is frowned upon, and they're transferred out. The other shoe will fall, she knows it, as a note to stop…er… fraternizing.

"Ah," says Jethaniel on the matter of those notes. Hopefully they're better than the ones he was supposed to learn stewardship from; for now, he reserves most of his judgment, though there is perhaps a certain skepticism to his tone. Not for Darsce, of course - merely for the documentation she'll be using. His arms tighten around her as her breathing quickens - a causational relationship, this time, though he doesn't know the cause behind Darsce's reaction. Or, more precisely, the proximal cause. He knows many of the events in this chain, but he is confused as well as concerned. "…to what?" he asks, voice soft. Perhaps at some point it will become possible for Darsce to directly compare the degrees of panic evoked by this experience and that hypothetical one. Then again, if her fears are true… perhaps not?

Darsce stares at Jethaniel. Really? She has to spell it out for him? The corners of her mouth start to twitch and then curl into the beginnings of a smile despite her distress. He's so sweet and clueless! She strives for precise language. He's good at that, she's not. She fails because 'fraternization' is in her writer's vocabulary, not in hers. And so words fail her. Not because she can't phrase her thoughts bluntly; she can. But he hasn't, so she uncurls her fingers from his poor shirt, leaving odd little creases behind that someone will surely notice and remark on later. She remains in his arms, winds hers around his neck and rises up on tiptoe to be eye to eye. "This," she breathes right before laying her mouth to his. It's not a chaste, shy sort of kiss but a lingering, smoky one. Does that get her point across better?

Jethaniel is quite clueless - in fact, he's probably to blame for the vagueness surrounding what they are, not to mention the lack of definition. His eyes remain on hers, attentive if uncomprehending, as she shifts her position. The verbal tag associated with the action is- may be useful in retrospect, but does nothing to prepare him for the experience. Darsce's point is… ah. What were they talking about, again? He seems to have forgotten. His arms remain around her, but they adjust their positions in a slow drift - one up, one down - and he makes the part where she reaches up easier by leaning his head down to press lips back to hers.

Darsce's eyes close and she seeks to express with that kiss what she feels for Jethaniel. Tenderness, yes, there's that. Respect, yeah it's laced in there too. Love, certainly that, but she expresses that better with her eyes, words, little touches. Predominant is an odd combination of fire mingled with regret, because - are you getting this Jethaniel? - "They won't let us be… that," she explains huskily. Her lips have lifted from his just enough to say it while her forehead touches his, her iceblue eyes sad-hazy and unfocused because otherwise she'd be cross-eyed trying to see his clearly. Heretofore, she broken rules with impunity and unconcern, also with quite a lot of glee. For the first time in her life she cares about the consequences - at least where Jethaniel is concerned. "I'd say let's give them something to talk about, but that might get you fired." She doesn't care if she gets fired, obviously, but then she'd have to leave.

It's a rather complex concept, and if there exist precise terms to convey it, they're ones harpers use and Jethaniel doesn't know them. Still, he may yet grasp the idea Darsce wishes to convey in addition to her body. His eyes open once again. "Ah." Jethaniel breathes. He hasn't entirely forgotten how to do that, though one might speculate so from the raggedness of that first inhalation. "I…" He'd probably be thinking more clearly if he weren't gazing at a blurred Darsce, his head tilted in toward hers and resting close. Moving away is an option he does not, however, choose to exercise. "It… might." He's never paid much attention to the details of those rules. They did not appear relevant. For a moment, Jethaniel considers through the haze of his thoughts, then… smiles? "Should it become necessary, I will resign as Steward." It's like being fired, except you quit. "There is nothing to prevent me." His fancy knot isn't a punishment. He can just hand it back and become a journeyman techcrafter once more. He probably even still has enough seniority to get his posting of choice.

Darsce blinks. He'd quit. Wow. Just like that? While she thinks about this, since her toes can't hold out forever, she slowly sinks down, loosening her arms from Jethaniel's neck, to stand flat-footed once more. All the while she beholds him with a wondering look. Nope, never known anyone like him. That's a huge sacrifice and she should, uh, break up with him to prevent him having to make that choice, but she doesn't want to. And so she won't and they can cross that bridge when they get to it. The tension lifts from her and she smiles up at him, links and arm with his, "Walk me back?" To her office where she'll read those notes of Ocelara's. And try not to think about her modeling business in Ierne. Jethaniel, however, will remain in her thoughts. Sothere, Thea.

One of the tasks of the Steward is to prioritize. As such, Jethaniel is arguably acting within the bounds of his job by assessing the relative priorities of it and Darsce. When a note with non-fraternization instructions crosses either of their desks, it will be time for a different argument entirely. Jethaniel didn't pay any attention when A'dmar told him to stop. An order from Thea, he won't be able to ignore so blithely, but telling the Weyrwoman she was wrong is how he got this job in the first place. It would, in a sense, be appropriate if that's how he leaves it. That situation has, however, not yet arisen, so Jethaniel smiles to Darsce and nods. "Of course." He brushes the fingers of his other hand against the back of hers softly, and then…. back to the office! Hers, now just down the hall from his. Unfortunately for Jethaniel, the starcrafters are likely to notice this departure, which will make the upcoming discussion regarding the delays and recalibrations of the telescope turn even more contentious and keep Jethaniel in the office far, far past what are supposed to be his working hours. Not even clever book-keeping to give the starcrafters an overtime bonus by deducting it from Darsce's salary for the next month will be able to keep them from glaring at him for hours… and not even the cleverness of his book-keeping will prevent him from having to explain the extra short-term withdrawals to Thea. Jethaniel is unlikely to have much (any) free time, this seven.

Or she might make him Weyrleader! After all, there's been precedent!

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