Dinner And A View

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.

All good things must come to an end. And this vacation has been one of those good things. Sure there were some hiccups along the way but those are in the past and things have been just fine since. It's now evening and dinnertime has come upon the weyr! The lanterns are lit and the smells coming from the kitchen are calling people to come enjoy the view and the food and the company. This is what brings D'lei and Serena up that spiral staircase to the platform above. Serena stands with D'lei at the top, a bit out of breath from the stairs but otherwise in good condition. She looks out over the restaurant and smiles, "I think this will be a nice little place." she says.

"I've heard good things about it," D'lei agrees. Though he did pause at the bottom to make sure that the stairs were going to be compatible with Serena's belly! But, they made it up, so now? They can smell all the tasty foods that are surely also compatible with bellies, just… in a slightly different way. "Did you want to try to sit in here, or out on the deck? View's probably better outside… but there'll be more wind." The tradeoffs of life! Just like there are challenges and unexpected turns along the path of any journey.

Serena was thankfully fit when she got pregnant so while the pregnancy has added some weight and other changes it hasn't taken that away from yet just yet. After all she's only about 3 months in. Yes. Tastey foods are compatible with bellies. Serena looks out toward the deck and back in the restaurant, choices choices, "I think we can try the deck. If it gets too bothersome we can always move back inside, but we probably won't be back here for awhile." If ever, "So I think we should give it a shot."

"Sounds like a good argument to me!" D'lei agrees with a grin. He goes to find one of the waitstaff, and have a brief conversation involving the number two and the outside preference, which has him gestured toward the deck and turning back to Serena. "Shall we?" And so out to they go, to where sunlight shines down between drifting puffs of cloud and the breeze - while still notable in comparison to the ground level - isn't all that bad. "Marigold or crocus?" he asks, pointing to a pair of small tables distinguised by the blooms in small vases in their centers.

Serena does try to make a habit of making good arguments. She smiles to the man and nods. She follows him out onto the deck and takes a moment to admire the view, but this must wait a moment because another less weighty choice must be made, "Crocus." she will say, "I think they are just too pretty." Not that marigolds aren't but they aren't crocuses. Aesthetic and emotional differences all in little choices.

"Crocus it is, then." At least they're both suited to further admiring those views! D'lei pulls out a chair for Serena once she's made her choice - one in a series, for there'll be others like 'what to eat' coming along soon enough. Still, one thing at a time! "Did you get a chance to look at the flower shop?" he asks, meanwhile. "They seemed to have some nice looking blooms in the windows…"

Such weighty choices in the future! How can a woman bear the responsibility? She smiles at D'lei pulls the chair out for her. Such a gentleman! She sits with a little oomf and shifts in the chair to get comfy, "I did get the chance to look." she says, "I didn't pick anything up. But they had a nicer selection than Half Moon has. Or maybe its just that they are different from home and that makes them more special." For distance lends enchantment or something along those lines.

Somehow, she'll find a way to struggle through! D'lei has faith in Serena, at least as far as dinner and probably rather further than that. He laughs, with a nod as he gets her settled and then takes his own seat. "Probably a bit of both, really. You don't miss the things that you're tired of seeing, and you get excited by something new even if you'd end up tired of that by the time you'd seen it four times in the shop."

The general principle he is expounding is sound. Some things get old quickly, but other things don't. It just depends on the interest level. Serena nods and leans back in her chair, "I'm happy that I got to come. To meet your friends." Some of them anyway! It's a good start. D'lei even seems to have managed to put up with her the whole time too! "It's going to be hard to go home. This is the most time we've gotten to spend together since ever." At least the most consistent time. It's nice.

"Some of them, at least!" There's a wry tug of D'lei's mouth. "I heard Krysa and E'vyl had their baby, back in Monaco. Haven't been to see them yet, though… wait until things die down a little, right? And of course, I've had you here… so not the time to go running off." At least, not any more than he has to do for lessons and drills and the like! Which … maybe that's why, when the waiter comes over to ask about drinks, he orders himself a klah despite it being dinnertime. He's been busy lately!

Serena refrains from being the 'fussy aunt' and making comments about him working too hard. Instead she just smiles, "I'm sure that when you go home you'll get the chance to meet the new baby. And grill them properly for information about what we need to do to plan ahead." They've done it more than once so they are experts! When that waiter comes by Serena orders a fruit juice for herself and then looks to D'lei, "Yes. You've had me here." Crashing into his life! Basically what she's been doing since they met, "And I hope you've enjoyed it."

"Oh yes. And I know just the bribes I'll need to get let in the door." D'lei grins, in what may well be a joke… or may just be a reference to how he's expecting to get conscripted for work once he gets there. That's what people with new babies want, right? Helping hands, and he'll apprentice under them or… something like that, anyhow. "Maybe we'll even get them to come to Half Moon for a bit, so you can see for yourself!" Who knows? The world is full of potential to… crash right into. D'lei smiles, a slightly crooked expression. "It's been nice seeing you, yeah."

So many bribes! "Sounds like a good idea to me." Serena says. If they get to come to Half Moon she'll get the chance to see the baby for herself, and get to see D'lei in action with the baby which might even be cuter still! Though for this present moment he is cute enough with his crooked little smile sitting there across from her, "Good." Though her attention will soon turn toward the food getting decision, "I was told there was a type of porcine here that I should have. Cita says its really good."

Sooner or later, Serena will get to see a D'lei and a baby! It's just a question of where (and what baby). He smiles to her, then takes a moment to look out over the view of Xanadu's shores and sea before… huh. He looks back, first to Serena, then to his own menu. "The smoked ham, maybe? Or maybe the boar ragu…" Why do there have to be multiple options to make it challenging? "…that wherry and pepper rice looks kind of tasty, too."

Eating a boar and not being a bore. Those are two things on Serena's wish list for the evening, "Maybe it was the smoked ham." she says considering. Her brain has been more than a little foggy of late, "It sounds good." Even if it wasn't the thing Cita mentioned it will be good for the belly! She too takes a quick moment to stare out and enjoy the view but finds her gaze drawn back to D'lei, "What are you going to have?"

What about spending some time with a drill? Boring holes in things, while eating boar and note being a bore… maybe while making some theories about atoms, like Bohr? D'lei nods. "Well, if it's tasty… good enough. And you can ask Cita if that was it, and either way you have something good to talk about." He grins, then takes himself another look at the menu. "I'm not sure yet. Maybe… mm. The curry noodles seem interesting."

So many different boring possibilites! Though for the moment dinner is not boring. It's just starting! "That sounds good." Serena says, not quite good enough to change her mind on what she is going to have, but still good! "If I ever cook for you what sort of foods should I make?" One of those little things that she needs to learn about him that just hasn't come up yet.

The trick is just to pick the right kinds of bore to have and not! Which, really, is good advice for many parts of life. Do the right ones, not the wrong ones. Simple as that! D'lei nods. "Curry's always… well, okay, there are bad ones. But usually it's just different variations on interesting. Haven't had one here before, so… we'll see where it ends up." Another look out at the view, and then… back to her again, with a laugh. "Aww, I'll eat just about anything, really. What about you, what's your favorite?"

Serena would normally probably have said something along the lines of a fruit salad or a lightly grilled wherry or something like that, but some things have changed, "Meat. I like meat now. All kinds. Porcine, Herdbeast, you name it I eat it." As hungry as she might be and as close as D'lei's hands are they are probably safe, "But if I wanted to make you something special…" she presses. "Something you really really liked. What would it be?" This isn't being fussy. This is planning!

That was then, this is now? D'lei nods. "So, just roast up some bovine stuffed with ovine with a wherry inside, and you'll be good?" he suggests with a grin, then… leans back. Maybe it's so he can tuck his hands under the table, just in case. "Really like, huh? Well… hmm." He considers a moment, then hehs. "Well, I can tell you one thing for sure. It's been a long time since I had fried minnows."

The Pernese version of the turducken! Except not at all. Serena nods her head emphatically, "Yes. I think that would be lovely." Serena practically salivates at the idea, "I've never herd of that before, but maybe if I asked for it in the caverns when I get home they could do it." D'lei will ge to keep his hands. "I could probably fry some up for you when you come for a visit." She could't promise they'd be good but it's the effort that counts right?

"I mean, in fairness, neither have I," D'lei admits with a grin. "But it does seem like it'd be possible. Couldn't hurt to ask, right?" And then he laughs. "Well. I don't know if they'd be the same if they weren't caught on the way downriver." A reminiscent touch to his grin. "Maybe some ham and greens? That's less… picky."

Serena leans forward and puts her head on her hands as she looks to him, "Are you a picky eater?" she asks, "Though I may be interested in hearing about this river." There must be a story there judging by the look o his face. His meal request is noted and will maaaaaybe be waiting for him the next time he comes to visit.

D'lei laughs. "Nah. I mean, I'd rather it not be like… poison. But I'm willing to be flexible if it's only a mild one." He grins, then… oh hey, drinks! So he thanks the waiter and takes a sip of his klah. "Well, my ma is a sailor. Up and down Paradise River, mostly. So, I'd come along sometimes, and we… by which I mean me and half the crew… would fish along the way."

Serena puts on an air of faux offense, "Are you implying that my cooking is that bad?" she says with the corners of her mouth tilting upward in a smile. She doesn't mean it in the slightest. Though his story is interesting, "That must have been fun to have a mother who was a sailor. You must have gotten to see a lot of different places growing up."

"Not at all," D'lei replies. "It takes a skilled cook to make subtle use of poisons and other hazardous materials. A delicate touch with the battery acid!" He grins back, and has another sip of his (probably not poison) klah. "It was. Mostly along the river, all the little holds and camps, but we got east and west along the seacoast sometimes too."

Serena was so engrossed in his story that she hadn't touched her own fruit juice yet. She rectifies that by taking a good long drink from her glass before setting it down once more, "And then you went into computers. Which is probably a far cry from what you were doing as a kid." Sailor to computer crafter. That must be quite the story as well.

D'lei laughs. "Not so far as you might think. Because when I wasn't on a ship, I was watching my mom fix the slot machines and video poker tables at the Paradise casino." A grin. "All fair, I fb course. House edges aside." Which, well, they're part of the game! Something has to keep casinos in business. "Had a hard time deciding which way to go, to be honest. But I figured… tech had more possibilities. And it let me go explore Landing, so, bonus!"

It seems D'lei's family had all kinds of interesting jobs. "Are you much of a gambler then?" she asks. Curious still! "I never was much of one myself, though if you go with me maybe we could win?" she asks. Though she could see easily enough how he made the transition to his present career, "I didn't know what I wanted to do either. Then there was Samiryth and that settled things." Course D'lei had actual direction in her life, Serena had none!

"Oh, I play cards sometimes. The occasional dice game. But I don't bet more than sixteenth marks. Either it's not fair, or else it's too much effort." A laugh, for that. "I might be disallowed in casinos, honestly. Some sort of professional courtesy." Is that even a thing? Maybe. "Secret pacts and all." Which probably aren't all thing, but if they were, they'd be secret, so who knows? He nods to Serena, listening to her, then… "Heh. Yeah, Garouth… well, I mean, I dreamed of it as a kid." A shrug, as if to say, who doesn't? "But I wasn't expecting it when it did happen."

Serena nods her head slowly as she listens, "Professional courtesy huh? I could see that." she smiles at the thought of D'lei in a secret pact, "So how would I manage to wheedle that information out of you if you even had it to begin with?" Wheedling is fun! Serena nods at that last part, oh yes, "I wasn't expecting things at all. I just came to Half Moon to try to find work and I found a dragon. It happens I guess."

"Pretty sure that'd be covered under the pact too," D'lei says. "Assuming there were to be one, that is, which I can of course neither confirm nor deny…" He leans back, grinning, then… hehs, his thoughts shifting to Garouth off where the bronze is about his own business. "Free job with every dragon?"

Serena leans back from the table and rests her hands on her stomach and smiles, "Free everything with every dragon it seems." Without Sami she would have lead a very different life, "I'm not sure what I'd be doing now without her. Probably just menial jobs or something. Maybe would have gotten married, who knows."

"Except time. We don't get any of that free with dragons." Rather the opposite, in fact, but D'lei grins before he washes that down with another sip of klah. "You never thought about a craft or something?" he asks. It's his turn to be curious! "Maybe weaver? I mean, it can't all be Sami with that style sense, right?"

A curious D'lei! She doesn't mind in the least! "Thats more her thing than mine. I appreciate that she loves it, but for me I just couldn't see me doing that full time. Besides I'm too old to worry about that now. I don't think they'd take me. I think my job will be transport and delivery for the forseeable future. Though you never know what sort of opportunities will present themselves."

D'lei nods. "Well, yeah, now." D'lei shrugs a bit. "But I mean… back before you came to the Weyr, before you impressed…." The curiosity continues! Though as for the present… "Nothing wrong with transport, at least. See the world and drop off packages to it!"

"Nothing really appealed to me back then. I did odd jobs and things, but it never lead anywhere or too anything. Thats part of why I got sent to Half Moon. The family was hoping I'd settle down and do something. I guess they were right in a round about way." Serena ended up settling down in one of the biggest ways a young person on Pern could, "Nope. Drop off packages. Pick up strange men." she says with a little smile.

D'lei nods, with a thoughtful look, and then a heh. "Well… in a way, yeah. Though I don't know, sometimes it feels like dragons are more questions than they are answers." Settling down all across Pern! To deliver packages and… a wry smile. "That one's definitely Samiryth's fault," he says, a bit of a laugh to follow it. "Dragons with their ideas about just what should happen and how things ought to be." He shakes his head, just a bit. "Which… I don't know. It sounds like maybe that's sort of what you needed."

Serena is willing to grant that it was what she needed, "Maybe it was. I don't know." It is what is now though! "You and Garouth are good together though. There's always going to be weird questions that pop up. Happens with peopel friendships too." Their own case in point, "Yeah. It was her fault, though I'm not sure there wasn't method behind her madness. I wonder if she did it on purpose." She says this not in an accusing sort of way but more of just a factual one, "Like she chose you and Garouth."

A shrug from D'lei, because hey, it's not like he really-truly knows either! He just has guesses and speculations and tech-type theories - well, and a grin for Garouth's mention. "We're figuring it out, anyhow." Even if part of that's just plain figuring out what they need to figure out! And then… he tilts his head, curious at her speculation. "Huh. I mean… it sure did come on sudden and all. And… well. Most dragons don't pick and choose their chaser like that."

Serena had the benefit of a relatively uncomplicated life until recently, and it seems that D'lei's had one for longer than she did. Sami's behavior was not the norm, but in that respect she's never been /normal/. "She wouldn't tell me if I asked. I don't know if she'd been holding it back just waiting or what. Maybe till she was comfortable or she knew it would be ok or who knows." Because no one really can, "Maybe she thought we'd be ok together. Like the right combination of rider and dragon."

"Heh. I suppose she wouldn't," D'lei says, with a wry smile. "I don't think I've ever got a good answer for why any dragon rises. From anyone." A small laugh there, and then… a shrug. "I suppose we won't ever really know, will we? If there was a reason for it or not, if it just happened or… there was some sort of a purpose behind it. In her mind or otherwise." He reaches for the klah, and swirls the mug before he has another sip. "I mean. I suppose it could definitely have worked out worse, right?"

Serena reaches her hands across the table and holds them open for him, "I think it worked out perfectly." she states with some certainty. Sure there's weirdness, awkwardness, occasional bits of frustration but alot fo good things too! "Because I would not have met you and my life wouldn't have been this full. I think you are perfect just the way you are." This isn't new, she told Risali as much the other day.

D'lei sees those hands reached across the table, regarding them for a moment - hesitating for a moment - before he slowly reaches out one of his own hands, setting it on hers lightly. "I think… maybe there's more to be found for your life yet. I mean… that doesn't mean it's bad, any of it…" He looks up, from hand to Serena's face, and smiles softly. "But… first Sami. Now the baby and me… I think your life's just going to keep getting better and more full."

Serena may not be ready to confess her feelings outloud to him. Just as he may not be in the place right now where he could even hear it if she said it, but she can drop hints and signs and the reaching out to him is one of those, "I think your right." she agrees with him, a smile and a touch of a blush on her cheeks, "I think your life is going to keep getting better and better too." She can be optimistic!

Signposts on a road! Like scarecrow on his fencepost, pointing out that people do, in fact, go both ways. And where will they end up? …great question, and not one that will be answered tonight! Or for a very long time, perhaps. D'lei smiles, nodding to Serena, and then… he hehs, a wry tug of his lips to the side. "Well. I certainly hope so. But… yeah. Twists and turns and bumps and all, it may."

People do go both ways on the road of life. Just as Serena will shortly head back to Half Moon and D'lei will head back to Monaco. But just because they are going in physically different directions doesn't mean that they are going in different life ones. "I have faith in things." she says with a smile. Still happy that her hand is there under his, "In us. We are going to do fine." The us may be vague and ill defined, but thats ok for now. It won't always be that way.

D'lei smiles, a wry tug of his lips to the side. "You think faith might help in the casino?" he asks with a light tone, a flicker of his eyes down and then back up to her face once more. "I mean. We could get the high-end baby gear, if we manage to do fine there…" Even if that would violate all the secret pacts that may or may not exist and bind him! For the right motivation, D'lei might just break all the rules and forge his own path off through the fields of what should (and could) be. Who knows?

Serena considers for a moment before she nods, "I think the universe wants us to win." Money. Stuff, other things. "Don't you think so too?" she asks with small hopefull smile, "Our baby does deserve the best stuff." Maybe even the parents deserve some nice things? Life is always a question of motivation. What sort of things would motivate D'lei to break the rules? And for that matter what sort of things would motivate Serena to do the same? And what would the interaction of that even look like? Mysteries.

D'lei lifts his gaze to the universe - or at least, the sky, up above their heads and out to the horizon - and space beyond. "I don't know," he says, contemplatively. "I think… maybe the universe doesn't actually care. I mean. It's so big, and we're so small." A quirk of his lips, another smile, and he looks back to her. "But that's okay. Most of the other stuff down here is small too, so we can still make our ways through it without having to be any bigger than we are already. Or at least… not much bigger." Maybe six more months of bigger?

Six months bigger is probably about right! Whatever the universe may think Serena does care and she's guessing D'lei does too. "Maybe if we care then it's enough for us." she muses, though she won't push too much further in that direction. She'll tease him, "Do you like me bigger?" Of course its a trick question that there is no right answer too, or maybe there are even 5 or 6 right answers.

"It might be. Certainly… might be enough for all the things we care about, and those red and green stars out there in the universe can go chase their own tails for all we have to care." D'lei shrugs, a spread of his free hand with a smile to go with it, and then… a question! A tricky trappy question, and D'lei tilts his head to the side before… he leans back, just a bit, his fingers sliding with the motion. "I think you are who you are, still…" His voice is quiet, even. "And I'm glad the baby's doing well."

A smile spreads across Serena's face. It seems that was one of the right answers! Good job D'lei for making it through the twisty trap, "Me too." she says quietly. Her own fingers move in response to try to gently tickle his hand as it moves. "And for the record I like you too just the way you are." In his case no physical changes but perhaps emotional ones, and those are in the end a bigger deal than simple physical changes.

D'lei's hand slows its retreat, and his lips quirk in a smile. "Thanks," he says, with a small duck of his head and… oh, hey. There's a menu here, isn't there? "Heh. We should actually get that food ordered, huh?" he says, with a gesture for the waiter. Food-orders, and eating tasty things, and more conversation, a fine dinner to be had - and after? Well. Time to bundle up for the trap, because this vacation has - through all its twists and turns and traps - reached its end!

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