Xanadu Weyr - Wildflower Boutique
Whitewashed walls form the canvas for the colourful array of flower, garden and decorative goods that are to be found lining the shop's polished shelves and smooth granite countertops. Around the edge of the room, a slim metal frame supports deep glass buckets in which a variety of freshly-cut flowers sit to be selected for bouquets and arrangements from as few as half a dozen stems to much grander affairs. Above them, shelves contain a selection of clay, glass and stone vases, handheld gardening equipment and decorative stock, such as ribbons, small cans of waterproof paint and fancy paper wrapping. Fertiliser, pots and troughs are kept on display outside and beneath an adjustable awning in-case of rain, a wider range available upon request.
Three islands in the centre of the shop floor provide space for gift items and the like, including metal flower pins, single ornamental stems for vases, and taller metal blooms to be stood in gardens. A price list notes them as crafted by Ka'el and also available in precious metals such as gold and silver. Other items on the counters include a range of small bouquets deliberately designed with firelizard delivery in mind, meadow-themed silver jewellery, and small gift-baskets containing the seeds and markers needed to start small herb gardens and plant window boxes.
The main service counter is situated along the back wall, where a list of bouquet prices and other fresh flower products, including circlets, arrangements for special occasions, and petals by the bag can be seen on a large chalk board hung on the wall.
As the day's trade moves to a close and evening begins to approach, Marel is the sole occupant of the Wildflower Boutique, the brownrider going through the motions of closing up. The books must have been balanced already, the records neatly stacked on the counter, and only what produce lasts from day to day is still present on the shelves and in buckets and pots, leaving empty spaces ready to be refreshed in the morning. She evidently doesn't expect her staff to do the menial tasks, for she's sweeping the floor, gathering dry leaves and stray petals together in neat piles.
Someone must be in need of a last minute purchase given the door opens at such a late hour for the shop. D'had has been in a few times since his first appearance in the boutique. Once a sevenday if one were to think about it. Never for long, always leaving with that single stem. If Marel was there he gave her her space - a silent nod of greeting, a faint smile. "Oh," the man comments as the realization that they might already be closed sinks in, "Can come back tomorrow." Perhaps not realizing right away that the occupant isn't just one of the staff.
Marel stops sweeping when the door opens, paused in the arc of drawing more stray material towards one pile, and the time it takes for her to glance back over her shoulder, refocus and almost speak is enough for her to realise who it is who has stepped inside. She adjusts her weight and finishes that arc, then tells him, "Maybe you should," as she resumes her sweeping. If she realises what D'had might be visiting for, she doesn't show it, her, "What do you want?" rather low and abrupt, her focus fixed on her work.
D'had nods when she more or less agrees that later may be better. "Just a flower," he replies to the question, having been just about to turn back, hand already on the door when she asked. Perhaps there was something else too.
"Take what you want and leave the marks on the counter," Marel replies with a crispness that she can't use on her day to day customers. She doesn't invite him to do more in that particular vein than he did the first time. "Though, in theory, you're in credit, so you could probably take the one to balance things out." When she stops, she looks up at him again, silent, and only watches, while she uses the broom as a prop, one leg favoured over the other.
D'had would perhaps be more surprised if there wasn't that crispness in her voice for him showing up unexpected as he is than that it is there. "Sure," he replies, a second of hesitation at the door before he strides across the space to collect one of the same he's gotten every time and leave the cost at the counter. As for credit, a brow raises as he looks back towards the young woman. "You take that credit and put it away for the next gather for your little girl," an offer to say he he doesn't expect her to give back what he may have over paid that first time.
Marel observes his progress across the room without quite looking at him, motion registering at the periphery of her vision. She doesn't seek eye contact, nor does she really do more than look at the outline of the bluerider before her. A single nod signals her acceptance of what to do with that extra money, then she looks down at her feet. "She asked who you were," she admits, low-voiced. "I didn't know what to tell her." Clearly, then, she didn't tell her the truth. "If she were younger, it would be easier for her to forget, if she knew you and then didn't." Maybe she's not just talking about Nerri.
D'had is silent for a moment, simply nodding once for her remark. "When your brother asked if I wanted to meet his son I told him he didn't need to tell him who I am," an attempt perhaps to reassure her that he doesn't blame her for not knowing what to tell her daughter. Swallowing he's quiet for a second more. "You- … I-" not certain himself what he's supposed to say. "I wish things had been different," he finally settles on what still don't feel like the right words to him.
"You won't be meeting Nerri properly until I can trust that you'll be there if she comes to think you can be relied on," Marel answers flatly. "She's young and accepting enough that she might only see you a time or two before adding you to the circle of grown-ups she considers sanctuary. I won't have her confused like that." She looks D'had up and down before saying, "If things had been different… no-one knows where we'd be. You taught me… Mama's death taught me… that people leave. Of their own choice or not. Independence is key. I don't need anyone. And I teach my daughter that she doesn't need anyone to validate her, or to define who she is and what she can do." It's with cold, clinical clarity that she tells him, "You made me stronger. If you don't like what you've come back to… remember what you taught me."
D'had nods slowly, "I understand." She's putting him in his place and he'll take whatever she needs him to. "Suppose they don't," he agrees then about what might have come should things have turned out differently. That doesn't mean he's changed his mind however. No, he doesn't like that she's keeping him away, but to have expected anything different.. he could only have hoped. "I- I'm sorry," that word has never come easy for him, "Sorry I wasn't there for you baby. I know I made mistakes, and I don't expect you ta overlook any of it."
"I know you are," Marel assures, willing enough to give him that. "I don't expect you to beg for forgiveness." She twitches one shoulder. "Maybe you'll get - are getting - a better welcome from the others, but they've got families. I don't. No-one need think of me and I need only think of Nerri." That wall she's constructed to exclude almost everyone sounds pretty secure, even as regards her siblings. "Maybe your time would be better spent with them. If Mur'dah and Darsce want you to meet their children and be a part of their lives, go and do that. Show them that you mean what you say."
"I don't deserve forgiveness," D'had replies, the words passing his lips before he can keep the thought to himself. Eyes closing for a second in an attempt to regain his train of thought he looks back to his daughter. "If you want me to stay away I will, but I will always think of you."
Marel doesn't deny that, her silence saying much more than any words could. She's got a good poker face, and as she watches him it's almost impossible to tell how she feels, the distance in her gaze something that could easily be mistaken for boredom. "I can't stop you from making purchases here." Except she could. "But you will not see Nerri. I'm a grown-up. I can handle seeing you, if you can handle seeing me."
"Okay," D'had replies, one word. Simple. Even. He'll agree to those terms. I hate that I taught you to shut yourself away instead of facing the world," he says with a shake of his head as he aims to head for the door. She is after all the one that told him to remember what he taught her and that's just what he did. His wall just happened to be alcohol. The marks on the counter, well he already told her what to do with any credit.
The handle of the broom cracks against the wall with the force of the motion that is Marel lashing out at the nearest thing she can. She lets D'had get to the door, or perhaps she simply can't see anything but a red haze before he reaches it, and when she speaks it's to snap, "I've faced more than you ever did," with a viciousness that doesn't suit her. A moment later, she's just sweeping again, if more forcefully than before, her back turned to him. Nothing will elicit a response from her.
D'had could leave it at that. He could just walk out the door and not say anything. Instead the door is shoved closed the short distance that he'd managed to crack it before she snapped. "You have no idea what I've faced young lady," he snaps back, the flower slipping from his hand to be crushed under a boot as he turns back on her. "Don't you pretend to know what I've been through."
Only when it seems that he isn't going to leave of his own accord does Marel speak again, without so much as looking back at D'had to acknowledge his answer. She just keeps moving over the same patch of floor, like she'd have the brush scratch through stone. "Get out," she grits out, moments of silence later. Only two syllables, yet her voice manages to tremble and shade hoarse at the same time. The brownrider refuses to look at him, features concealed by the fall of waves of dark hair.
D'had blows and angry breath out his nose, reaching behind him to open the door once again. "I love you," he huffs and while it might not sound so loving well if she's anything like him she'll understand. The door slams again behind him as he pulls it shut.