Thank You

Xanadu Weyr - Secret Garden Refuge
How has this gem stood empty so long? Constructed of hand-chiseled whitestone, this cottage is unique in that it appears to have been here from before the time Xanadu was founded, it's stones bearing a resemblance to the ruins in the old forest. Large windows, flanked by raw wooden shutters faded to a silvery-grey, have thick-leaded diamond panes that allow the meadow's light inside. Pink climbing roses scale the front wall, the porcelain blossoms scenting the air with their delicate fragrance and providing shade over the three shallow stone steps leading to a portico in which an arch-topped door is set.

The space within the cottage - sitting room, kitchenette, sleeping and bathing room - is simple: stone floors are covered in vast rugs in pale, pastel shades and the walls have been painted white. Some spaces have built-in storage: cupboards in the sitting room; counters and a cooling/heating unit for food in the kitchenette. The sitting room has a double-wide, deeply-inset window that make the sunny room perfect for housing potted plants, Isyriath's portion opening off of one side. Comfortable couches in pale pink line two of the walls, standing opposite each other, a long, low table set between them in the centre of the room. On the wall, above one of the couches, hangs a painting of meadow, in which both the cottage and Marel herself feature, the picture signed with a capital M. To the rear of the cottage, the bedroom has French doors that open onto a private retreat formed by a three-walled, flag-stoned courtyard of the same material that makes up the cottage walls. In the centre lies a flower garden, neat rows of tulips and rose bushes planted in fresh soil, a non-functional stone fountain serving as decoration alone, for now.

Ka'el has been released from the infirmary just today, with strict instructions. No flying. No working for another seven, and even then it will only be light duty. No over exerting himself. No this, no that. The list of things he can't do is exhausting, but he's not restricted from visiting. Though he probably shouldn't have carried what he carried over. Outside, if one is so observant, there has been slight noise. He tried to be quiet, really, but every now and then there's been a slight *ting* of metal very gently hitting metal and a soft shuffling of feet coming from the garden area. Perhaps nothing more than your usual docile creature, coming to investigate the blooms. Now though, the sound heard is a purposeful one. *knock knock!* on the door.

Marel has been seen by few but her wingmates of late, her downtime spent either in the archives or in her cottage, usually whichever of the two that won't have her work being interrupted. However, today the work has been set aside in favour of time with her lifemate, for it's from Isyriath's section of the cottage that Marel slips from, passing through the break in the wall that leads right into her living area. "Just a minute!" she calls, taking a moment or two to try and make herself more presentable, her hunt for shoes one that fails and so leaves her to pad to the door with only dark blue socks covering her feet. No sooner has she answered said door and taken stock of the situation than she's chastising, "What are you doing lifting things? It was my understanding that your brain was left intact!"

Ka'el is indeed carrying something. It's a box! Medium sized, that's been taped closed and decorated with … well. Nothing. It's just a box with something inside that he definitely has lifted. He toothily grins at Marel, looking far too innocent. "It isn't h- … it's barely heavy." Because the box does have some weight on it. Ahem. "They said no heavy lifting. They said nothin' at all about barely to slightly heavy lifting," he points out. "You can't be mad at me. It's your gift that I've owed for turns.." he says, coughing and glancing away. Yeah it's been a long time since he promised her something. Blue eyes flit back to her, and his grin returns. "So let me in so I can put this down and you won't have reason to be cross with me."

"Because you really came here to argue semantics," Marel shoots back, brows lifted. "I can be mad at you for doing what you're not supposed to do and hurting yourself and—" Maybe a younger Marel would have stamped her foot, but the grown-up one throws her hands up and steps away from the door. "You're insufferable." You'd think she hadn't heard the part about it being a gift, so intent is she on fussing over the state of him. "Here, quick, put it down…" Anywhere he likes, apparently, since she gives no clear direction as to where the box might be put. "And sit down."

Ka'el, insufferable? He slightly elevates his chin as he strides in. "An' that's one of the traits that you so love about me, yes?" he says, grinning. Nevermind the very vague glisten to his forehead, a result of effort needed to lift and carry the box to his intended destination, and likely also due to whatever else he was doing outside beforehand. There is no metal in hand. "I'm not..gonna fall apart.." he assures in wake of her worried-sounding instructions, and he glances for a place to put the box down. An end table works and .. now the hard part… It's difficult to fully hide the squint-faced wince that comes as he bends to put the box down, but he won't take any help in doing so. There! The box is set down, and he exhales a breath as he straightens, teeth clenching slightly. "Please don' have me sit. I've been sitting an' laying for days. My feet will abandon me if this keeps up for much longer. You don't want me goin' around footless, do you?"

"I think I could find my way toward sacrificing your feet if it means you don't do anything stupid," Marel warns, clearly not terribly impressed with what she's seen so far of box-manoeuvring, despite his plentiful protests. "Would you have me ask you to dance instead?" And then, then she approaches him at such a pace that it would be easy to think that she's going to give him a shove, especially when hands reach out for him, not even to take in-hold for a formal dance, but to seek an embrace far more gentle than her cross words have been. "Stop being such a boy," she murmurs.

Ka'el hmms and looks down at his boots as if contemplating just how his legs would look without the accompaniment of feet. Not good! He looks back at her with a crooked smirk. "I'd much rather a dance with you rather than…" He falters as she approaches with such purpose. Uh oh. Is his first interaction with her going to end with a slap to the face? He braces, eyes squinting a little, and then…hug. Hug? Oh, this is far more enjoyable than a slap or push would've been! Initially, he's rigid within her embrace, having expected something different. But once his brain catches up, he relaxes and curls his arms around her in return. No bear hug this time. That'd agitate still-healing ribs too much. But still, this gentler version is no less affectionate than his usual. "Would you rather me be more like a girl?" he chuckles in reply, sounding humored. "I don't think I'd pull that off very well. .. In fact, m'sure I'd be an awful woman. Other than gift givin'. I'm rather good at that, I think." A smirk. "Speakin' of…" He gives her a soft squeeze before starting to pull back a little, "you have to open yours."

Afraid of applying pressure to still-healing ribs, Marel tips her head down to rest her forehead somewhere just over his heart for a few moments, either so he can't see the depth of her concern or to hide the smile that claims her lips. Probably both. "Thank you for that lovely image of you in a dress…" she drawls, looking back up at him with an expression that tries for stern and ends up somewhere around reluctantly amused. She draws back as his does, slanting a quick look over to the box before she tells him, "You didn't have to, you know," oh-so-quietly. "I was teasing." Most of the time. But that doesn't stop her from doing as prompted and going to investigate the box, considering how best to open it without tearing it to pieces.

"You're welcome," says Ka'el, his grin back in full force. "An' the image is a lovely one, isn't it? I do have nice legs. But how you lot pull off wearin' dressy heels and doin' so many things with your hair… It's far too much trouble." He sighs greatly, just barely able to suppress a laugh. Luckily, laughing has hurt less and less with the progressing days, for he'd rather laugh then dwell on things that make him want to do the opposite. Such things have been pushed to the far reaches of his mind, overloading himself with lighter things. Like gift giving and friends. He remains standing as she goes to the box, chuckling. "I never forgot, you know. From the day on the ridge when I kicked my ball onto your letter an' ruined it, I hadn't forgotten I promised to make it up to you. … Things just kept getting in the way." He moves towards her and gestures to the tape. "Tear that off," he suggests. And whenever she does open the box, inside she'll find a perfectly round orb. It's large enough to be held in both hands and has a little weight to it when lifted. The surface is perfectly smooth and as reflective as a mirror, polished to a gleam and made of stainless steel.

For once, Marel does as suggested without remarking on it and kneels beside the box so that she might pull tape away without leaving great tears in its wake. She's quite methodical about the whole thing, letting the tape dictate the path that might open up the box for her, then abandoned to the floor beneath the table in a little tangle. Her back straightens, her shoulders easing back as she flips open the top flap and peers down into the box, meaning she finds her own face staring right back at her. Confusion first, then curiosity, as she reaches inside to draw the sphere out, posture shifting as she discovers its weight. Sitting back on her heels, she holds the sphere up to the light, eyes round in fascination. "It's beautiful…" she murmurs.

Ka'el watches her, gauging her reaction. Does she like it? Hate it? Think it's stupid? Know what it is? It may need some explaining, as he himself had to have the concept explained to him. "It's a gazing ball," he says. "When I was on Yokohama the first time, I was real interested in a room that had tomes. Books from times before. It was so weird, readin' things from a place that's not even our world, y'know? Anyhow, the ancients. They used these .. gazing balls in the gardens to bring good luck and keep away negative things. I hadn't thought of them again until I saw how beautiful your garden was an' how well you tended to it. It … took some workin'," he admits with a sheepish smirk. "I owe the glass blowers a lot of thanks for their patience with me. We finally figured it out. It's crazy the things metal can do." He smiles, then nods to her door. "There's a stand outside I've made an' set up for you. The ball goes on top." And the stand, whenever she does see it, is one crafted of thick metal, and where the gazing ball rests resembles the open palm of a dragon's foot, claws splayed.

"It's perfect," Marel says quietly, as if she's afraid a louder voice might set it into motion and make it roll away. She holds the sphere with her palms supporting its weight, her fingertips hovering just the tiniest bit above its surface so that she leaves as few smudged fingerprints behind as she possibly can. But wait, there's more? Wide eyes lift away from the sphere and up to Ka'el himself, and it says much for her either practised or natural grace that her hands don't so much as wobble as she does so. "It was just a silly letter—" she starts to protest, but the she decides against that and makes to slowly and carefully ease the ball back into its temporary box-home so that she can stand and go to envelope him in another hug, her arms lifting up across his shoulders this time so as to limit contact with his ribs. "Thank you."

Ka'el will gladly take another hug from her, happy that the gazing ball was well received. And happy about other things, as well. His arms loop and lips hold a smile. Even if his ribs did ache, which they aren't, it wouldn't be enough to spoil his mood. "It wasn't just the letter," he says, shaking his head a little. "It's far more than the letter. It's for spending time in the baths together. And helping me pick out just the right type of flowers. It's for makin' me laugh an' turnin' a caveman into a gentleman .. almost." A smirk. "But most of all, it's for not judgin' me for my mistakes, because I know there've been a lot of them, and for stickin' with me through everything. Out've everyone I know, Marel, you've always been there for me, no matter what, and I appreciate that more than words or any gift can really say. I can only hope that I'm half as good to you as you've been to me." He pulls back just enough to press his lips to her cheek, returning one of the many kind gestures she's given to him. His arms close around her for a tight moment, not caring about the protest from his ribs that comes in the form of that aforementioned vague ache, though gradually, reluctantly almost, he lets her go. "Thank you."

Marel tightens her arms around him in turn, turning her head to tuck her face in against his shoulder as she murmurs, "Of course you are." She remains so for a few moments before she likewise begins to let him go, her gaze tipped up to seek out his. "You're wonderful. I don't think anyone tells you that enough." Blinking a time or two, she runs the edge of her hand beneath green eyes gone glassy, a self-deprecating smile surfacing as she mutters, "And now I'm being such a girl…" At least her sniff is ladylike and saves her from proper tears. "Come on, you. Let's go set it up." Steps begin to carry her back towards the door to discover the gazing ball's stand; to bring it through the cottage to set up in the courtyard garden. "I'll do the heavy lifting," she teases. "You can… supervise." And so help him if he tries lifting anything again!

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