The Awkward Meeting

Xanadu Weyr – Clearing

A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places.

The cliff looms imposingly on three sides, stretching upwards all the way up the side of the rock edifice where, high above on Xanadu's Star Stones, the ever-present watchdragon sits on the lonely peak. Directly south is the hatching arena, the large round complex taking up a large portion of the perimeter, a line of trees visible beyond it. Southeast are wide steps leading up to the caverns and eastwards is the large entrance to the Infirmary. Somewhat north of the infirmary is a human-sized archway that has a frequent quantity of traffic — it leads to the Wandering Wherry Tavern. Tucked neatly under the arch, to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Petals and Pots Garden Shop'. Southwest lies cliffs where windows for the administrative offices have been cut. Underneath them are the entrances to the crafters complex while north and west along the cliff's base, a broad path leads to the feeding grounds. Due north is the spacious trail that leads to the rest of the Weyr - the meadow, the forest beyond. At the far edge of the clearing, beside the trail leading to the forest sits a clocktower.

As Cove Hold is several hours ahead of Xanadu, it would have been efficient to start today early. This is particularly true when one considers the heat profile of the tropical destination; an early (perhaps pre-dawn, Xanadu time?) start would allow some amount of visiting prior to the heat of the day beginning. These considerations in mind, an early start has been considered and dismissed. Instead, the plan begins during the late morning, not long before noon. Jethaniel's arranged things for the trip. In his case, that means a bluerider from Comet to take them, a letter to his parents informing them to expect a visit, and putting on this morning, in addition to a short-sleeved blue shirt, his kilt and a pair of light grey socks. That last is not, however, particularly connected to the destination of this trip.

Darsce could make pre-dawn easily by simply not going to bed. She would, however, wilt by Cove Hold's noontime and be down for the count until sometime after their dinnertime. As it is, she's been slowly acclimating to her new schedule and actually slept most of the night before. And so she stands a better chance of remaining awake and sociable for this visit. She hopes so anyway! She's packed a small bag with some very necessary things like makeup, a change of clothes, her bikini… Also visiting a tropical climate requires some important preparations. The humidity for example, wreaks havoc - at least in her opinion - with her hair and so it is worn twisted up in a roll that encircles her head, a few tendrils of the rebellious strands have already escaped down the back of her neck. Makeup is minimal for the same reason - tropical heat tends to wreck it. So on her face is but a touch of blush, a flick of waterproof mascara, a bit of lip gloss, and a feathering of eyeshadow at the corners of her eyes. She's wearing a strapless sundress of pale orchid, the bodice fitted but the skirt, a three-layered silken fringe bounces and dances about slim thighs as she walks. Nails - both fingers and toes - are manicured in a shimmering peachy-pink and her sandals, carried in her fingertips are of the same color as her dress. Okay, yes because of having to pop Between, she's got boots on and a jacket over her shoulders, both of which will be shed once they're there. And she's there at the designated time, excited but nervous, which she's trying not to show.

Stardust has chosen to perch on the straps of the blue who'll be giving them their ride. She, at least, is pleased by the prospect of heat - what firelizard wouldn't be? - but is, for the moment, waiting. Jethaniel's arrival is also timely, because he avoided the caverns entirely this morning, and, as such, was not found by any of the minor emergencies that might have otherwise interfered with his restday. (The primary distinction, in this case, between minor and major emergencies is that a major emergency would have found him regardless of his location.) His jacket is over one shoulder, as he does not overly desire the increase in warmth for any portion of the trip except the between, and he smiles at the sight of Darsce. This trip may proceed on schedule - not that he gave his parents a time precise to more than the general hour. He has, however, more reasons to smile than those related to scheduling, and assessing her readiness for this trip is only the secondary reason for the movement of his eyes over her form. "Hello, Darsce." He offers her his hand as the blue's rider sits up and acts ready. Stardust takes this as her signal to launch into the air and vanish. She'll meet them there?

As Darsce has yet to be shown her new headowman's quarters, she had to exit the room she still shares with her sister Hali and leave through the caverns. Thus several minor requests have made themselves known to her. To each one, she's had no trouble at all saying she's on her restday, go see Soriana or Esiae or Sorrin while continuing to walk briskly towards her destination. With each would-be interruption, her forefinger points in first towards the hatching grounds, then the administration hall. She isn't the most patient of people and by the last two clinging folk to waylay her, it's been used up. So it's her middle finger that does the directional pointing, while her voice, sugar-sweet, tells them - again - she's off duty for the day. C'mon people! READ the duty-roster will you?! Her frustration melts away at the sight of Jethaniel and the blue dragon and her last few steps are almost skipping as she makes her way to him, a hand outstretched for his and a genuine smile erasing her displeasure. Slightly breathless and not simply from trying to outrun hindrances, she responds. "Good morning Jethaniel." Even if it is almost noon.

It is an unfortunate fact that some people seem incapable of literacy when it comes to matters of the duty roster. It is a further fact that some people have an inflated sense of the importance of their own requests, and may - even if aware of the current assignment of tasks - nevertheless seek to escalate to someone they theorize is capable. In some regards, it is a statement that they believe Darsce suited to the role. However, it may not be the best of endorsements, since their attempt to utilize it merely causes an (avoidable) delay. Jethaniel, while oblivious to these precise circumstances, nevertheless considers it fortunate that Darsce has not been delayed. Her hand is lifted to his lips for a brush of greeting, and he replies, "Good morning." The statement is still factually true, even if limited in duration. He places her hand on his arm - though it's only a few steps to the dragon, at which point she'll want it back in order to mount - and asks, "Are you ready?"

"I am," is the answer, and then she blurts, "Let's get out of here before-" a furtive look is directed over her shoulder, Darsce sighs relief when she sees no one, then iceblue eyes lift to his and her smile is less strained. "Yeah," she breathes, hugging his arm a little and bouncing on her booted toes. "Are you?" She directs a look at him under her lashes, perhaps to see if he seems nervous. But then, would he show it? At the point he hands her up to that bluerider, she'll stuff her sandals in her pocket, hand him her bag, and scramble astride. If allowed - you never know, each rider is different, some prefer to do it for their passengers - she's quick to clip herself into the flightlines with swift familiarity and await Jethaniel to get settled. And then she'll hold her breath even though they're still on the ground. Because she IS nervous, though it has nothing to do with the flying to get there.

Jethaniel looks back behind Darsce to see who's chasing her. Fortunately, the answer takes the form of a negative, and his eyes return to hers with a slight smile. "I have provided limited information regarding our destination." Not that anyone would try chasing them down, surely, but… one learns to take precautions, even if their draconic ride ensures that at least one person knows where they're going in case of that major emergency. The question of his readiness makes Jethaniel pause for a step, considering it. "I believe so," he answers, and his face holds that considering, analytic expression a moment before returning to his smile. While Darsce ascends, he puts his jacket on fully, then climbs up after her, taking a position behind her which permits him, once he's buckled in, to put his arms around her. This also means she can feel the subtle way he tenses for takeoff. Jethaniel has become accustomed to riding dragons during his time at the Weyr. He still doesn't like it. He likes Between even less, though an in-drawn breath and a deliberate stillness is all the sign he gives.

Cove Hold - Clearing

Cove Hold is nestled against a peaceful cove, the waters a deep tropical blue but protected from the worst of the storms by the curve of the shore. White sands make for pleasant beaches, and the main hold building is proud to be the same as since MasterHarper Robinton retired here - though there have been a few careful changes to bring modern comforts to the stone structure whose wide verandas and airy windows welcome the sea breezes, the traditional metal thread shutters open wide.
The grounds are well manicured, the warmth inviting rampant growth of plants and flowers that are carefully tended to give them an inviting look while keeping them off the paths. Back behind the main hold, a scattering of cottages allow guests and residents some measure of privacy to rest and rejuvenate. A dock for sailing ships and a cleared area for dragons let those guests come and go freely.

The blue of the ocean sweeps out to half the horizon, the curves of the shore visible below. Autumn stormclouds lurk on that horizon, but the curve of the shore to which the dragon descends sits beneath a sunny sky. Cove Hold is in the trailing end of the northern hemisphere's tourist season, when an escape to the heat and humidity of the tropics seems attractive to those snowbound weyrs and holds. In a few more months, it'll be the far south that comes to visit here. In between, those actually in residence can hope for a chance to breathe. If the storm season is an easy one, they'll have that chance; otherwise, there'll be a scramble to get the place back in order. Today, though, all seems peaceful; palm fronds and flowers rustle in a gentle breeze off the ocean instead of tossing in a gale, and the pale sand of the beaches are scattered with shells and bathers, not shredded sails and torn shutters. There's a clearing meant for dragons to come and go, a more frequent occurence than in many holds this size - but then, most holds this size have a far more fixed population. Most of the hold is quiet, here in the heat of the day, but small figures still move about here and there.

So no pesky notes with annoying questions via firelizard all day? The idea of that brings another smile, this one, bigger. Riding dragons is something Darsce has done all her life. Siebith broke her in turns ago to the intricacies of the smaller dragons' flight abilities and thus she's fairly blase about it all. The rider? Well he's being paid for this transport and while she acknowledges his participation with a cool smile, she is, however appropriately grateful to the dragon, as evidenced by the little pat her hand steals down to give him just before Jethaniel swings up behind her. She settles back against him with a sigh and a little wiggle. The tension in him might be just bracing for that coming launch, something she might do if she weren't leaning her head back against Jethaniel's shoulder. Between? She's… not fond of the cold, but otherwise… takes it probably far more lightly than she ought. Her gasp as they emerge from Between is one of pleasure. Ierne may be an island, but it is not a tropical one. The waters there cannot compare with these. "It's beeeeeauuuutiful," she says, unable to take her eyes off of it as they bank and begin their descent-glide.

Ordinarily, Jethaniel's hands would be clutching the straps, though he is aware in an analytic sense that his own grip will be unlikely to make any actual difference. It is, nevertheless, a comforting illusion of agency during the flight. On this particular flight, he finds a different sort of comfort in Darsce leaning back against him. His eyes open after their emergence from between, and he lets out a breath he was holding as he tilts his head to take in Darsce's reaction. "Indeed," he says, lips curved in a smile and grey eyes watching her as the dragon heads for a landing. Down below, other eyes are watching, and while dragons are a common occurence, they're not so common as to not be notable. People notice. Small children point and shriek amusement to each other. Those older shade their eyes and speculate. And, for this dragon - arriving today, at approximately this hour - a squarely built man of sixty rises from a chair on the porch and heads briefly inside the hold, then emerges in the company of a woman about the same age to head toward the same clearing as the dragon's glide approaches.

Ordinarily Darsce would take hold of those straps as well, if merely from reflexive habit. One does not ride a barrel-rolling, cork-screw-diving, loop-de-loop flying dragon, which is what the blue she rode did - a LOT. Without warning. Today her hands rest lightly upon Jethaniel's thighs just behind hers. Because - kilt! And she's that relaxed. The air current has whipped a few more strands from her updo, the silken strands blowing back are quickly affected by the humidity and so by the time they land, they're curling about the nape of her neck and temples. It gives her a softer look than she'd meant but she's unaware of that. Instead, it's the laughing children that cause her to smile and turn a look over her shoulder to Jethaniel, the look clearly saying she thinks they're cute. And of course she'll need to remove her hands to unclip and then undo her jacket fasteners, not even waiting to dismount to shrug out of it. Augh. Soveryhot.

It's a deliberate fashion decision, the kilt. Jethaniel is capable of such, within limited domains. This particular blue does not indulge in aerobatics, for which Jethaniel is quite grateful. He's likely not aware just how grateful he is; if he were, he might tip more generously. The inhabitants here are a varied sort, though there's a few with the same dark hair as Jethaniel scattered among them. He smiles back to her look, then unwraps his arms from her once the dragon touches down, undoing his own jacket… though he's distracted between unfastening and shrugging it off to brush his fingers softly against one of those stray curls. The heat here is familiar to him - though this really is the worst part of the day to be arriving, with the sun still fairly high overhead. At least there's that breeze off the ocean, but it can only do so much. The heat is Jethaniel's secondary reason for his choice of attire.
A few of those children linger near the clearing to watch the dragon, and the older couple is nearly here. The man walks with a somewhat rolling step, a seacrafter on the shore, and the woman pauses to make quick comments to various of the others as she bustles on to meet, "Jethan!" She beams to him, though her eyes are quick to take in his companion, lingering there with sharp assessment despite the smiling shape of her mouth. The man's expression is a stoic one. He simply nods.

If he ever gets a ride on Siebith, he might experience that roller-coaster ride. Not that the blue takes passengers these days, so Darsce might not think to warn him. And whatever Jethaniel's reason for wearing that kilt, she approves! Feeling fingers brush the back of her neck, she pauses in removing her boots and smiles tenderly at him, those people on the ground waiting to see them are momentarily forgotten - until the name the woman says recalls her. "Is that your mom and dad?" she whispers to him while keeping her eyes on them and giving both a bright smile and a wave. She then slips her sandals on while still sitting astride the dragon. The rider will just have to wait while she does that. Then it's with jacket and boots clamped under her arm, the strap of her bag over a shoulder that she waits for Jethaniel to dismount first, even though she can do it without his help. She'll slide down into his arms. What girl wouldn't do that? Darsce doesn't think there is one alive who wouldn't want to. Lucky, lucky her to have snagged him first.

Darsce's approval is, in fact, the primary reason why Jethaniel is wearing the kilt. He gives a wave of his own to their welcoming party, then lowers his head slightly to Darsce's whisper and nods to her conclusion. "Yes," he answers quietly, and his fingers rest on her shoulder for a moment before he dismounts, jacket tucked over one arm. Darsce is the more graceful of the departures - and would have been even doing so on her own - but Jethaniel is quite happy to be there to catch her. Even if it would seem probable that a number of other young women had no such interest, given the number of turns Jethaniel spent before Darsce established her presence. Once she's on the ground, he adjusts the position of those arms, letting one fall away while retaining one that ends up around her back as he steps to her side. "Hello, mother," he says with an incline of his head, and another as he adds, "Father."
The woman starts toward Jethaniel as he dismounts, her arms starting to spread - but then she stops as Darsce makes her appearance, and those hands drift back toward her hips instead. "You made it," she says, her tone a brisk one. Age is obvious in the grey of her hair, but she's still used to being heard. "I was beginning to wonder." She eyes her son - but her eyes soon return to Darsce. The new girl. The mysterious girl who - obviously - is the one her son has… "I'm Jessa." She smiles, gaze intent. Beside her, Jethaniel's father misses his cue to introduce himself. He is, instead, staring at his son. More particularly, his son's kilt. "What… are you wearing?"

Had Darsce known no other young woment were interested, she'd think them just lacking in… everything! How can they not see he's perfect? She laughs as she lands in Jethaniel's arms, but hasn't forgotten his parents standing there. She turns to face them, adopts the confidence she's used in dealing with the other models in Ierne. That goes as far as her poise is concerned. She's vulnerable in a way she never has been, but that's something she doesn't allow to affect her other than her heart rate and breathing. She doesn't miss that aborted offer of a hug Jessa does and so drops the arm she'd had about Jethaniel's hips, to give him a gentle four-fingered push meant to propel him forward as she says laughingly, "Greet your mother properly." Then she dips a curtsey to Jessa. "Well-met Jessa, I'm Darsce." And then the stoic asks his question. Jethaniel's father SO TOTALLY reminds her of someone. She bites her tongue. Because what she's thinking probably wouldn't help.

Behind Darsce's back, Jethaniel's fingers give a soft brush along her spine before slipping away as he steps forward to lean toward Jessa and give her a hug. "Hello, mother," he repeats, though the words are quieter this time. Jethaniel looks to his father next, and his expression is an impassive one - though touched with just a trifle of quirk in the corners of his mouth. "It is called a kilt," he explains. "They are popular in Landing."
Jessa's expression softens perceptibly at Jethaniel's hug, and she returns it warmly. "Welcome home, Jethan." Something of that softness lingers in her expression as her gaze returns to Darsce. "Nice to meet you." It's mostly formality, the expression. She's still watching the new arrival closely, though her eyes turn away to her husband. "Lianiel," she says, remonstrating, but he just shrugs to that, letting it roll off him. Jethaniel's explanation makes his father hmph. "And here I thought you were done picking up crazy ideas from there." Jessa shakes her head at him, turning her gaze back to Jethaniel and Darsce. "Let's head for the shade, shall we?" Her tone is bright, the cheerful expression of someone used to entertaining guests.

Darsce suppresses a shiver at the brush of fingers along her spine. It's enough that others won’t see but Jethaniel will certainly feel though his fingertips. "And you," Darsce replies to Jessa. Then with forthright honesty admits, "Your Jethan is the most considerate person I know. He's learned his manners from you, hasn't he?" With Jethaniel's father, she is instantly on familiar territory. She steps forward and attempts to link her arm with his. "Kilts are totally hot." Which… yeaaah. He's not going to be thinking the same thing as she does, looking at the legs of his own son. "Very manly," she amends with a cough. Is he reassured? And if that doesn't help, she adds, "He's a most proper Steward." Kilt and all. There's a glance over to Jethaniel. Did he… ahhhh, tell them about that? If not, oops?

Jethaniel's gaze lowers at his mother's welcome, though he makes no verbal response to it. Cove Hold is his place of origin; home is a rather more complex concept, and one which he makes no attempt to define - at least not here and now. Perhaps that's part of the consideration Darsce mentions? "I am never done with ideas," Jethaniel replies to his father with a faint smile. The craziness of aforesaid ideas is left intentionally undefined, but as Darsce enters his field of view once more, Jethaniel's smile broadens - though there's a touch of disappointment as she goes to his father instead. Not that her action is not entirely compatible with the goal of this expedition - in fact, it is likely more advantageous from the perspective of fully introducing her to his parents. Nevertheless, his grey eyes lower before rising once more and turning to Jessa at her suggestion of shade. "Indeed. I hope the weather has been good?" It's a more practical question than it may seem, given the storm season.
Jessa smiles. "Jethan's always been a nice boy," she says of her son. "Though he's rather quiet about some things." For instance, his relationship status - but she's giving Jethaniel a look for that, not Darsce. Not yet, anyhow. Lianiel's the one who eyes Darsce suspiciously, but it's for her defense of kilts. "It's a skirt," he objects. How can a skirt possibly be manly? Because, no, he doesn't have Darsce's perspective on Jethaniel's legs. Not even to within several orders of approximation. He does, however, let her arm link with his, following Jessa and Jethaniel down a neatly-trimmed path to the main hold building. (But he still doesn't have her perspective on the relationship between those pleats of fabric and Jethaniel's butt.) Lianiel just snorts (though it doesn't sound surprised) at the mention of Jethaniel's Stewardship, but Jessa smiles. "Oh, I'm sure he is," she says back to Darsce, then looks to her son. "You do know, if you wanted…" And here they are at the steps to the porch. The main building of the hold is quite historical - the very one built for Masterharper Robinton! While expansions have been made since then, they've been careful to not disturb the style of the broad verandas and airy windows - still with their metal thread-shutters for that old-timey style.

Darsce isn't usually so attuned to nuances like non-answers, but today? No rather, with this person – Jethaniel - she catches it. She never refers to Ierne as home anymore, herself and so shares his sentiment. Approval gleams in her eyes for his tact with his mother, but it flickers into bewilderment at that touch of disappointment she sees - or did she? What? What did she do wrong? She stifles the urge to bite her lip, instead offering a bright smile of merriment up to Jethaniel's father in response to his comment. Her silvery laugh is brief but genuine as she replies, "That's exactly what my papa would say, only he'd shake his head and growl something like, 'young people these days ain't got no sense.'" And then she shuts up to keep from being gushy, her gaze working hard not to zero in on that swaying kilt in front of her, instead wandering the area, taking in the hold - seeing Jethaniel's childhood home rather than Robinton's hold - for the first time. She removes her hand from Lianiel's arm one they've reached the porch, offers both of them to Jethaniel's mother and says sweetly, including the both of them, "Thank you for having me at your beautiful home."

The disappointment is hardly rational. Jethaniel is aware of that fact. If Darsce were not so attuned, she might have missed it. He might have preferred that, except for details of the ramifications thereof. That, in combination with his mother's comment, makes his face settle for a moment on a neutral, serious expression. "I do write back." Usually even with some efficiency. He may not always write what his mother wants to see, but that's a rather different matter. For all the pride Cove Hold takes in being unchanging - a piece of history - it's still not quite the same place as when Jethaniel was young. The paths through the flowers have changed their courses slightly, and fresh paint and small repairs keep the place to its charming style. It's not artificial, exactly, but the elements of rusticness are intentionally sought after, especially here in the main areas. Perhaps Jethaniel was like that boy chasing a lizard across one of the paths - or maybe the teen lying under a tree while a small girl tugs at his limp hand. At this time of day, the children are the most active, the adults having the sense to sit in the shade or nap. Even this group is headed for shade, pace unhurried - as the heat demands. "I know," Jethaniel finishes for his mother, inclining his head to her. It's the tone of a conversation he's had before. He turns as he reaches the steps, looking back to Darsce with a lowering of his head but a smile, his eyes lifted to watch her as she approaches.
Jessa smiles, and pats Jethaniel's arm. "I know, honey." He does. He's dutiful like that. Not like some. Lianiel hmphs at Darsce's laughter and comment, but in the wake of it, there's a small smile. Not that he's going to actually say anything, but the sign's there. Even if he still, when he next notices Jethaniel's kilt (there's a breeze, and it sways) shakes his head at it. Jessa purses her lips to Jethaniel's completion, but nods to him before turning her attention to Darsce to smile. "And your mother must have taught you." Oh, manners. Jessa has them in plenty as she takes those hands. "You're welcome, Darsce. Any friend of Jethaniel's is always welcome here." Lianiel, watching, exhales through his nose on the 'friend' part. It's a very quiet snort? And it only takes a brief glance from Jessa before he adds, "Welcome to Cove Hold." He has manners too. Sometimes. Jessa smiles to Darsce once again. "Come now, let's have a seat. You came at a good time, Liessa's visiting, and she's nearly a master baker…"

Later Darsce will have to ask Jethaniel what faux pas she committed, but for now she tucks that worry away to focus on the conversation. If he wanted to what that he already knows? Darsce's attention swings back and forth between Jethaniel and his mother, guessing she'd meant something like if he'd wanted to be Steward, he could do that here at Cove Hold. Perhaps she guesses it incorrectly, but nevertheless her eyes flash sympathetically for the both of them. It isn't easy to endure the discomfort of the letting go - on the side of either parental or offspring. She's at ease with the taciturn Lianiel. Her smile grows a touch wider at his grumpy mien - and a bit more when she catches his headshake out of the corner of her eyes, though it coincides with her returning Jethaniel's smile when he turns around to look at her. She squeezes Jessa's hands gently before withdrawing them, and seeking Jethaniel's hand with one of them while saying a demure, "Thank you," to Jessa. Friend of? She slides a sideways look at Jethaniel, a flush of pink coloring her cheekbones at the very quiet snort coming from Lianiel. She might define herself as other than 'friend', but he hasn't and so she remains silent while those seats are taken, perhaps in part to give him just that chance, certainly to avoid embarrassing him by correcting Jessa. This is so very Awwwkwaaaard!

Friend? "Ah…" Jethaniel looks to Darsce with a certain amount of question in his grey eyes. They have not, as such, had a discussion about the precise definition of their relationship. They have not even, as such, defined it as a relationship - with all the associations of that word. However… Jethaniel's hand reaches for Darsce's gladly, fingers curling around hers in a gentle squeeze. "I do not believe that is entirely accurate," he says to Jessa as they move to sit. Entirely accurate would be to say… what, precisely? He looks to Darsce again, and his thumb brushes along the back of her hand as he lowers his head, then lifts it again to regard his mother. "We are…" Herein lies the difficulty, because he is uncertain how Darsce wishes this to be defined. It is… awkward. Which, while it is an apt description of the situation, does not help him explain. "…together." It is not very precise. It may not be what Darsce wishes. It is, however, sometimes necessary to make a statement.
Jessa pauses in her bustle to the seats as Jethaniel speaks. It's not that he didn't imply things in the letter. It's just… a-ha! There's a brief flash of triumph as he admits to it in front of her, replaced a moment later by a beam. Was it even really there? "Oh, well. That's nice too." She's smiling so. "How long have you been together?" It's asked of Darsce, that question, and Jessa settles into a seat across from the younger woman, moving gracefully despite her age, though she's not unmarked by it. Lianiel sits beside her, though he's silent, gaze drifting out to the waters of the cove.

Darsce's hand, when Jethaniel takes it in his betrays something of her inner tension. Though not sweaty-palmed in the slightest, her fingers are ice-cold despite the warmth of the day. Not only is she trying to be extra-careful in what and how she says what she does, she's trying to keep from saying things that might pop into her head before running them through a mental check of whether they'd be appropriate for this situation. It's probably a first for her - ever - engaging a brain to mouth filter. Outwardly she's calm, relaxed save for that look she's just given Jethaniel. His questioning is met with an almost imperceptible nod of encouragement, though Jessa is sure to see that. Oh yes, that sort of discussion might have been helpful to have prior to this meeting, but Darsce either didn't think to have it with him or she's deliberately left it for him to bring up. Together seems to work just fine for her - for now says the melting smile she gives him before looking back to Jessa to gauge her reaction to this. Primarily Jessa is the one Darsce is most concerned with, but Lianiel gets a flickered glance as well. Oh! Oh shit! She has to answer the how long question?? Becaaaause if the mother is asking that, chances are the son didn't tell her soon enough. 'Since I tumbled into his bed about one month ago' is, thankfully stopped by that filter. Also stopped is - 'From the moment I laid eyes upon him'. So she hedges with, "Well, we've been friends for over four turns now." And her iceblue eyes are hopeful she'll be happy with that.

How soon would have been soon enough? Jethaniel does not consider himself qualified to answer that question. Admittedly, he also doesn't consider himself qualified to answer the one about relationship status, which may point to the underlying issue here. Still, he finds that nod encouraging, and the smile even more so. Imprecise as it may be, his answer is evidently one Darsce wishes, and that makes Jethaniel smile warmly in return. Further refinement may occur at some point in the future. They may, if they so choose, even attempt to define the beginning of this relationship - whatever it may be. Jethaniel's hand stays curled around Darsce's as she considers her answer, and the one she gives makes his eyes widen slightly as he looks to her. Has it really been that long? A moment's consideration, and he concludes her to be substantively correct, smiling as he gives a slow nod of agreement. Her statement is factually true… if incomplete. This is likely for the best. Jethaniel considers on additions to Darsce's statement, but finds himself lacking.
"Mmm," says Jessa. It's back to that word 'friends' again, though this time, it's not her saying it. She's smiling, but there's some of that considering look - at Darsce, but also at her son. If mothers can read minds, she's doing it. If they can't, she's still attempting it. Is there a degree of blush that indicates (or doesn't) that falling into bed? Is there a flicker of eyes that shows just how long since the first romantic gesture - or does the curve of their hands indicate the frequency? She's certainly not satisfied with that answer. Lianiel glances back to Darsce, smiling slightly at her explanation. He seems mildly amused more than anything else, with less of a smile than his wife - but the smile is far less dangerous as well. Jessa leans back in her chair. "Jethan, why don't you go see about getting us something to drink?" The instruction is a casual one, and it's followed by a return of her attention to her son's companion. "So, Darsce… tell us a bit about yourself."

Heh, yeaaah. Friends might be pushing it, if the four turns ago is taken into context with the definition of the word. 'Acquaintanced' would likely be much more precise, or even 'shamelessly flirted with' might be more accurate. Any degree of blush on Darsce's face comes from having been perhaps seen through, prompted by Lianel's snort at the word 'friend' coming before the 'we are together' clarification from Jethaniel. The pink on Darsce's cheeks says she's preferring not to play the 'beat around the bush' game rather than 'tell it like it is,' which is far more her forte than worrying whether she's going to offend them - or inadvertently get Jethaniel into hot water with his mother. "And about a turn ago we started going out." Vague, very vague! At his mother's request, Darsce's fingers tighten on Jethaniel's hand in a 'don't abandon me' spasm while her gaze remains on Jessa. But then it shifts to him in a beseeching, 'if you must, then hurry' because it's his mother! He can't say no to her, right? This is a social situation that Darsce is completely unprepared for, probably because she's more worried about Jethaniel's - and his mother's feelings more than her own. Such a first for her! "Uhh," she starts, "Not a lot to tell. I was born in Ierne and grew up there. My mama, Asher, is a goldrider and my papa… my papa was Weyrsecond of Xanadu for thirteen turns. I have my own business in Ierne and was recently promoted to Headwoman at Xanadu Weyr." That's…. telling about herself, right? Why does this seem like a job interview?

Darsce ogled him and Jethaniel talked science to her? That covers the first turn or two… or would, if Jethaniel said it. He doesn't, because he is being remarkably ineffectual at contributing to this conversation. Perhaps that's due to the fact that when it's him his mother's interrogating, he's capable of simply shrugging and not giving an answer. He is, after all, her son, a fact which is unlikely to change regardless of how evasive he is on certain topics and how much caloric input is generated for the water. This does not mean Jessa is content with his evasions - or that she does not take advantage of a new source for her questioning. Jethaniel watches Darsce as she continues her answer, and nods - though there's a touch of thoughtfulness, considering the events of that approximate time period. Perhaps he should review his calendar. "We have both been busy, since then," he adds - perhaps meant as an excuse for not telling his mother earlier? Jethaniel begins to nod to the request, but the squeeze of Darsce's fingers makes the motion pause. His grey eyes shift to meet her blues, and he lifts her hand - never mind that they're in front of his parents - to touch his lips to the back of it. Having done so, he rises to his feet. "I will be back momentarily." The assurance is meant for Darsce as his hand releases hers. It is not impossible for him to refuse his mother. It is, however, difficult… and, under the circumstances, likely to apply nontrivial thermal energy in a metaphorical sense. As such, Jethaniel applies kinetic energy on a macroscale instead of individual molecular agitation by stepping away from Darsce as she begins to list her personal history and qualifications. He still knows where the kitchen is. He may even know how to get things out of it efficiently.
That's still vague, but possibly an acceptable answer. A turn, depending on how fast things became serious… oh, but there were three turns of friends. Things can't have moved all that quickly, right? Jessa's social calculations happen as she glances to her son, and then she looks back to Darsce with a smile and nod. Jethaniel's parting gesture makes Jessa's brow furrow. This Jethan is something new to her, and her eyes follow him before returning to Darsce. Ierne she just nods vaguely for, part of her attention still on Jethaniel - though Lianiel seems interested. As Darsce moves on to her parentage, Lianiel looks away to the waves again and Jessa's interest intensifies. Riders. She leans forward, nodding to that. A goldrider and a Weyrsecond, but… the corner of her mouth twitches, though she holds her question until the end, and thus finds out something else to intrigue her. "Headwoman?" Her gaze is assessing as it sweeps over Darsce, judging her in a new context. "At Xanadu, well." Perhaps that explains something of Darsce and her son? "I don't know if Jethan told you, but I'm assistant headwoman here -" Lianiel snorts. Jessa doesn't look at him. "- though I'll be retiring soon." That version, her husband lets pass, and Jessa circles back to - "Ierne and Xanadu. Were your parents… apart, then?" If this were a job interview, she probably couldn't get away with a question like that, but this isn't business. It's family - and at the moment, Darsce's is coming under inspection. Jessa's inspection, mostly, as Lianiel stares out at the waves and watches a skiff cross the cove before glancing back to Darsce. He doesn't seem to be paying much attention, but he's not actually oblivious. He has noticed Darsce. Heh. For that matter, if Lianiel were thirty turns younger (and not married)… but he isn't and he is. That doesn't stop him from drawing conclusions. He does have certain expectations for his son. As do most parents, really, and their children sometimes confound those expectations repeatedly - so, really, he's pleased to have some of them met. "Ah, leave it, Jess." He looks to his wife. "Boy's finally got a girlfriend." So… 'be happy?' Or is that 'don't scare her off?' (The 'girl' there does change the meaning of the word friend. Maybe that's why he emphasized it along with the finally.) Jessa looks back to her husband with a small pursing of her lips, like arguments are gathering up behind them… but she's got some skill in beating around those bushes, and all she actually says is, "You do hear things." About…? That, she doesn't say.

And she shared artwork with him to keep him from getting too bored with schematics-reading! Does he still have that little sketch? Not that Darcse's going to speak up about that little tidbit to his parents. She smiles, even though it's a pale reflection of her normal one, when Jethaniel's lips brush the back of her hand and she allows his fingers to slip from hers. That smile up at him says, 'yes, go… do your mother's bidding'. Cannot have the mother-figure upset. Darsce knows all too well what happens then. They scream and throw things, usually at the menfolk. Which tends to be very awkward! Like the furrowed brow following her son's retreat. That's familiar enough that Darsce clamps down on her inner and very unpracticed reserve further, folds her hands in her lap. Jessa is assistant headwoman? It's too bad Darsce can't pump her with 'how/what do you' questions. Instead she affects an outward nonchalance, "He did not, but I'm afraid I didn't ask either. We've sort of been," her dreamy-sweet smile is totally genuine, "wrapped up in our jobs and each other." Her sigh is a self-deprecating one, "Now I know why my mama says young people are so selfish; I'm sorry we've neglected you." Is it an act? Yes and no - for Jethaniel's sake she is sorry. For theirs? Not yet. Questions. She tries to answer them all satisfactorily, but the one about her parents sticks in her throat as she levels iceblue eyes on Jessa and gives her a bland look. Really? She's going there? When Lianiel speaks up, Darsce breathes a sigh, flashes him a look of gratitude and foregoes answering that one. And the hint that gossip from Xanadu has reached Cove Hold is the end of Darsce's patience. Coolly, with a little tilt to her chin, she asks, "Really. Like what?" Beating around the bushes, a skill that Darsce does not have.

Jethaniel's level of interest in schematics is highly variable. Some of them can be downright fascinating! …though he often finds the schematic less interesting than that so abstracted. There are a great many details which cannot make it in to a simple drawing. His appreciation of those details… may occur at a future point, because he's not here right now. He's back in the kitchens.
Jessa nods again as Darsce agrees that she and Jethaniel have been busy - with their jobs, of course. She does, at least, know how busy work like that can be - though the needs of a weyr and a vacation hold are somewhat different. Besides, it's not like she didn't already have to pester her son to come visit. "It's nice to have you here now," she says with a smile that's half truthful. It's nice to have Jethan here. Darsce, well… Jessa's still deciding on that. And, yes, she went there. It's relevant, because how else will she determine if this girl is going to break his heart? The things that one hears about riders are not entirely positive as regards relationships. Darsce isn't a rider herself, but perhaps it's hereditary? Given Lianiel's intercession, Jessa doesn't pursue the issue just now. She simply smiles to Darsce, unapologetic. Perhaps she'll have to make an attempt to actually hear specific gossip instead of just working off general stereotypes. She has names, now… but few specifics, though Darsce's question brings a small wave of her hand, dismissive. "All sorts of things, really. I've never been to Ierne, but I hear it's quite the place." Probably from old aunties who came here instead of there because of their own prejudices, so they may not have been the best of rumors.

Jessa isn't really helping Darsce to warm up to her with that evasion. In fact, if the woman weren't Jethaniel's mother Darsce would excuse herself and walk away. It's not like she can't tell where these questions and hints are leading but as nothing direct is being asked, she can't really reassure the woman. She's heard enough half-veiled - and not so - remarks about dragonriders over the turns that she can read between the lines, but to defend her parents to this… prying stranger is too much. She can't do it! Moreover, pride will now keep her from sharing her father's… absence to someone who will either judge or offer false sympathy. Jessa can think what she likes. In fact, Darsce is sure that when Jessa finds out who her parents are and what they're like, Jethaniel will no doubt be pressured to find a 'nice girl from a stable family'. "The dining and shopping at Ierne Weyrhold is great," says Darsce, but there's little enthusiasm in her for it at the moment; it's a statement of fact. People live there to do business, people come there to be entertained and her comment is polite filler to take up the time until Jethaniel returns.

Just where is Jethaniel? He hasn't been gone that long by any reasonable measure of time, and yet there's already been time for the conversation to turn very, very… polite. "I have heard that, yes. It's just the distance, you know," Jessa says with a smile. "When you're limited to your own feet or a ship…" She trails off with a small shrug, glancing to Lianiel - who looks back to her with a slight frown. They're having one of those moments of silent communication, leaving Darsce to… sit there?
Jethaniel does eventually return, but when he does, he's not alone. This is true not merely in the sense that he's accompanied by a tray with a pitcher of iced tea and glasses, but also because there are two other people with him. One of them - a woman in her mid twenties with wavy brown hair - is also carrying a tray, though hers contains a small assortment of cookies and other baked goods. "…hasn't been back, but that's probably because…" she's informing Jethaniel as they walk, and while he does not interrupt her, neither does he look in her direction. His gaze is ahead of his current position, attempting a return to Darsce to determine whether she's where he left her. The interruption comes in the form of the other person accompanying him, a black-haired girl of five turns or so who shrieks, "Hiiii!" in one of those octaves reserved for such demographics as she catches sight of the group and launches herself away from the sedate pace of her accompanying adults.

Darsce is quite alright with awkward silences. In fact, she's far more accustomed to them than she ought to be. That's because she causes far too many of them. And hey - if Jessa and Lianiel are conversating (it's a word, really!) silently, she's also good with that because it means she doesn't have to bite her tongue quite so hard in the meantime. She nods politely about the distance but there's not a shred of sympathy for the slow mode of transportation that Jessa is limited to. Nor does she offer to help her find dragon transport, which she could offer to do. If Jessa's 'research' into Darsce's family history is hindered by it, all the better. The tinkle of ice against glass and approaching footsteps heralds the return and she turns her head to meet Jethaniel's eyes. Just where would she have gone in his absence? Running back to Xanadu Weyr? Or has his mother an unplanned field trip up her sleeve for Darsce? Regardless, what Jethaniel will see in her eyes is major relief at his reappearance even though she looks poised in posture. The woman with Jethaniel is assumed to be the visiting Liessa that Jessa mentioned earlier. She is smiled to. A smile which grows beyond the bounds of polite greeting to amused delight for the child’s unrestrained greeting. "Hello yourself," she says with a silvery laugh, instantly at ease. "I'm Darsce, what's your name?"

Jethaniel is not aware of any plans which would have Darsce departing. He is, nevertheless, glad to see her once again, smiling as he approaches. She probably could have arranged for her escape, were she so inclined. If he were paying more attention to his parents, he might have a somewhat better chance of figuring out what they're thinking about. Then again, if he were paying more attention to them, perhaps the situation would be different to begin with? His gaze is only drawn away from Darsce by the small child's charge - which does not remove his smile, but does adjust it somewhat in character. "Careful," he says to her back, which is likely not a name but an instruction, and proceeds to the table where he can set down the tea (which has not, as of yet, responded strongly to the ambient temperature, metaphorical or otherwise) and regain the use of his hands.
The child stops suddenly, looking between those at the table. Wait. Waaaait. New person. There's a new person here. The fact that they were going back to meet someone didn't really register - being five turns old is like that - but it does now, and she stares with wide eyes at Darsce. "…hi." Quick, time to pass judgment. Is this an interesting person or a scary person? Another moment of wide-eyed stare, and then she adds, "'m Larett." Or something like that. Sudden-onset shyness means a bit of mumbling.
In other judgments, Jessa looks up to the new arrivals from her lack of words and has some to say. "Nereilse?" It's addressed to the woman accompanying Jethaniel (who, apparently, isn't Liessa after all), who nods as she brings the tray of baked goods closer, dodging around the miniature statue. "Don't worry, we'll be gone soon," Nereilse (evidently) replies, "Lariette wanted to come say hi." To who? A good question, but Lianiel's looking down and wiggling his fingers to the little girl - even if, for the moment, Lariette is quite distracted by New Person.

That feeling of glad-to-see is mutual and so Darsce returns Jethaniel's smile before returning to the child and responding, "Hi Lariett. Do you like pink?" And she offers her hand - fingernails rather - for the child's inspection so she can see the shimmer of peach-pink on them. "If it's okay with your…" A glance up to the woman, who is not Liessa (boy is Darsce glad she did not call her that) and she guesses with a smile for her as well, "…mom?" then back down to the child and finishes, "I can paint your nails like mine."

Nobody is crashed into and nothing's dropped. So far as Jethaniel can see, this appears to be a success. He once more takes the seat next to Darsce, nodding to his parents and then looking back to her. His hand reaches about halfway to her leg before pausing and instead lifting above the table to begin to pour glasses of iced tea, setting them around the table to be enjoyed for coolness and refreshment.
"Oh, no." Nereilse shakes her head, with a widening of her eyes - and, a moment later, a laugh. No to the nails? …no. "I'm not her mother. I'm just watching her for Liessa." Who does exist, she's just back in the kitchens. Being a baker's like that, sometimes, even though the biggest round of baking is done in early morning. Still, there's always more to be done. It's analogous to technical work or adminstrative supervision in that regard. Lariette leans in curiously to peek at those nails, her mouth making an ooo. She wasn't sure about pink. Now, seeing it, she is. "'s pretty." Lariette looks up to Darsce and beams. "Okay!" Maternal permission? What? Why would she need any of that?
Jessa glances between Darsce and the child, and gives a small nod. "It'll be fine." Mom isn't here, but surely grandmom can substitute… at least according to her. Lianiel snorts slightly at the cosmetics talk, and looks away again - which means he misses Jessa's next look in his direction.

Darsce shifts subtly in her seat to be closer to Jethaniel when he sits beside her. And awesome! She guessed wrong! "I see, not the mother. I'm sorry," she says laughing it off. "It's nice to meet you, Nereilse." Since she'd said her own name and Jessa has said Nereilse's, they've sort of been introduced? She doesn't hazard the guess of aunt, either. Nope. Jessa's permission gives Darsce a tiny pause before she nods and looks back to the child. "Afterwards, okay? Because the stuff is pretty, but it smells awful until it's dry." Is she stalling for time? Maybe.

The glasses of tea having been poured, Jethaniel is left without anything to do with his hands. He places them on the table, fingertips coming together lightly, and regards them for a moment as he listens to Darsce and Lariette's conversation. It makes him smile. He has, however, very little to contribute - not unless they want an analysis of the chemicals responsible for the bad smells, which is unlikely to be a popular topic of conversation.
Lariette wrinkles her nose at the talk of things smelling bad, and nods. "Okay. My brother smelled really bad once, 'cause he scared a stinkbug and it got him!" She giggles. Apparently Darsce has passed firmly into not-scary. Nereilse is still smiling, the roll of her eyes for Lariette's story, not Darsce's failed guess. "Nice to meet you," she replies cheerfully. There is a family sort of resemblance… but not guessing is safer. She reaches down to put a hand on Lariette's shoulder, drawing the girl's attention. "Let's go to the beach?" AKA out of the way of grownup conversations.
Lianiel glances back from the beach (where he's been staring more often than not) and nods to Nereilse. "I'll go with." Escaping? Yes. Yes he is. "Ought to check in at the docks." An excuse? Yes. Yes it is. And, to judge from the look Jessa gives him, she knows it. To judge from how he doesn't look back at her, he knows she knows it.
Right now Darsce would welcome Jethaniel's analysis of her nail polish, but she doesn't think to suggest he chime in. "I'll see you later," she tells Lariette with a flutter of fingers and it's a promise she intends to keep. If her gaze follows the departure it's probably because she'd like to escape as well. instead she settles for reaching for her glass of tea and sipping it. The swallow is followed by an appreciative smile to Jethaniel for bringing it and then, hopefully forestalling more interrogation, she looks at Jessa and says, "I'd love to hear about Jethaniel's younger years." One of her favorite subjects? Maybe? Hopefully Jethaniel won't mind.

Jethaniel's fingernails do not have polish. They are, instead, the natural shade of pink created by oxygenated blood and various deposits of keratin. This does not entirely account for the way in which he regards them, but they provide an alternative to watching Darsce. He smiles. "Nail polish is…" There's a pause as he translates into terms suitable for the age of his audience. "…like stinkbug wine." Not that either he or Darsce had wine, when he encountered her treating the tavern to the scent of her drying nails, but it's still an association. Perhaps, at a subconscious level, that's part of why he brings it up. Nereilse's decision to leave makes him nod, and he lifts one of those unpolished hands to wave to her. "Farewell." Until later? It depends on how the rest of this trip goes, because Jethaniel's place - unless otherwise directed - is with Darsce. A glance to his father finds Jethaniel unsurprised, and he simply nods as Lianiel rises to his feet. The other of Jethaniel's hands curves around his own glass of tea, lifting it to take a sip. He's slightly behind Darsce, which means he's still got the glass raised at her question, and thus his response is limited to raising an eyebrow.
Lariette nods to that later, then giggles at the prospect of Lianiel joining them, reaching for one of his hands to half-drag toward the beach. Nereilse waves. "See you!" As she turns away to follow the others, she gives Jethaniel a wink for good luck.
Jessa reaches to the plate for one of the pastries there, glancing after the retreating group then returning her gaze to Darsce. "Hmm?" She looks to her son, then back to Darsce, and smiles. "He was such a strange boy, sometimes." She shakes her head, picking off a small piece of the pastry and eating it. "He told you he was fostered at Landing?" Jessa glances to her son, with the raised eyebrow of 'surely you've told this girl something about your life?' before returning her eyes to Darsce. "Did he tell you why?"

With a tiny, vicious smirk, Darsce mutters under her breath just audibly enough for Jethaniel to hear her, "Stinkbug wine. So that's what Dom was sipping." Just before she sips, ironically. She catches Jethaniel's raised brow - uh oh, she did it again, didn't she? But it's too late now and so she merely nods in response to Jessa. "Yes, he did. To study, he told me." And she shrugs; that doesn't seem strange to her at all.

Jethaniel tilts his head to hear Darsce's murmur, and his mouth curves to what's almost a laugh before giving his head a slow shake. "I do not think I will approve that purchase order, in the future." His reply's as quiet as hers, and he sets down his glass to reach over and touch his hand to hers. The slight dampness to his fingers is from condensation on the glass due to the temperature gradients, and for all that raised brow, he still smiles to her, a brief flicker of his eyes before returning his gaze to his mother. "I did study there," he says mildly. For a number of years, in fact.
Jessa's head leans forward at the quiet words between the two of them, trying - and failing - to hear. That brings a small frown to her face, but it's quick to pass, and she nods to Darsce. "Well, yes, I suppose that's true… but it doesn't include the part where he took apart his bed to see how it was put together." She looks to Jethaniel, and smiles. "And then did the same to his brother's, to make sure."

Without missing a beat, Darsce murmurs back to Jethaniel with a twinkle, "He'll just have to drink elsewhere then." Her smirk over that turns to a loving one at the touch of his fingertips and she flips her hand over to catch at his fingers and keep them from withdrawing if she can. Listening to Jessa, she nods unsurprised. It's as if Jessa had said Jethan liked milk and cookies. "That was very clever - and thorough of him." Beds. She is reminded of his and the morning they- She flicks Jethaniel a longing look, swallows hard and just stops her thoughts right there, reluctantly hauling them back where they belong. "He made some beautiful star lights on the ceiling," she says before she thinks the better of it.

Jethaniel is not displeased in the slightest to necessitate a move in Dom's drinking habits away from Darsce. Nor is he displeased to have his hand curve against hers and rest there, the fingers adjusting their positions slightly in response to her invitation to remain. His smile for that is replaced by a slightly awkward one as his mother speaks. "I did make a note of the assembly. I merely lacked the leverage for the repair. The beams were…" larger than he was. "…unwieldy." He looks back to Darsce, and his thumb trails lightly along the side of her hand before his gaze lowers to that hand. He smiles. "I expect my mother is glad the electrical systems here are a recent addition."
Jessa shakes her head. "Thorough is one thing, but really." She is, at least, smiling. It's funny now, though at the time… "Liam said his bed never was the same." Jessa gives her head a shake, then tilts it slightly to Darsce. "Oh? Has that been one of his projects at Xanadu?" Maybe the caverns are strewn with them - or they're brought out special for festivals. To Jethaniel, she sighs. "You'd have gone out in thunderstorms looking, if we'd let you! All that nonsense about clouds… fair or stormy is one thing, but you hardly need to know what kind they are."

Darsce laces her fingers between Jethaniel's, breathes a pleased sigh and sets her glass back on the table. Her other hand is now free to join her other hand and trace the length of his arm idly, half dreamily. He's so cute when he smiles awkwardly like that. Jessa recalls her and her hand stops. Best not to pet her son too much while the mother is watching, yes? "Oh, uh, no. Not a project for Xanadu. His work comes first." But she doesn't say where those lights are, either. His mother's comment about thunderstorms has her looking up at Jethaniel with a touch of awe. "You weren't afraid?" Though her lips thin just bit at the word nonsense. "I love that about him," she says after a moment's indecision. Her goal here is not to be antagonistic but she does love that and so she says it. "I love that he's inquisitive and wants to know things. Things most people don't even notice." And she smiles tenderly at Jethaniel.

Jethaniel is also not displeased to have Darsce's fingers brushing along his arm. Rather the opposite, in fact, even though it makes it somewhat difficult to concentrate on the discussion at hand. …her hand against his is a contrast of skin. It is interesting, the differences in shade and texture - even beyond the intrinsic interest of hands. They are rather fascinating things. As are many things about the world, when viewed from a certain perspective. He simply smiles to his mother's reminisces about the storm, and shakes his head slightly. "It is likely for the best I did not," he says with a glance up toward Darsce, expression somewhat abashed. Afraid? "I was… not entirely aware of the risks." An understatement, but also an answer. His head ducks at Darsce's next words, tilted just enough that his eyes can lift to watch that smile and return one of his own. This is yet another of the many things he wishes to know, and his fingers curve more firmly against hers.
"Oh," Jessa says of those lights. She doesn't get it, but after a moment, she simply leans back in her chair. The wandering hand isn't missed, but though she watches it for a moment, she makes no comment beyond a slight pursing of her lips. Her gaze leaves them for a moment, looking after where the rest of the group that was gathered here departed, then returns. "Yes, he does," she acknowledges to Darsce. "Drove us just about crazy with questions." Jessa shakes her head, and then her eyes linger on Jethaniel for a moment, with his lowered head and averted eyes. "And then he'd go for days sometimes hardly saying anything at all."

Ah yes, perspective. Without it the world would be so one-dimensional. To both please and fascinate Jethaniel with texture and touch is a delight that Darsce can easily get lost in and for a moment there she's halfway to being there and so misses the pursing of Jessa's lips. Jethaniel is fascinating in his own way, the way his mind works, though likely few would believe Darsce, of all people would appreciate that. Her lips part in a touch of amazement. To be so absorbed by wonderment so as to not be aware of the risks! Incredible. And sort of terrible-wonderful. "How old were you?" He must be aware of those risks by now because she hasn't seen him out there daring lightning to strike him. Though during storms, she…hides. She smiles again up into those grey eyes. So… sensitive, so… siiiiiigh. Jessa said something? "For days. That's… awesome." She really means that.

Darsce's question makes Jethaniel consider for a moment - perhaps several moments, as he is still somewhat distracted by his study of a sub-specialization of anatomy. In the broad, anatomy is not one of his fields of expertise. In, however, the case of Darsce, he wishes to make an exception. His fingers shift against her hands, slowly touching fingertip to fingertip. As if he's counting out the turns that… "Eight or nine, I suppose?" Old enough to know better, at least according to some perspectives. "I could not obtain a satisfactory view from inside, and wished to triangulate." He didn't intend to get struck by the lightning, he just wanted to see it… up close. His considerations bring another thought to mind, and he laughs briefly. "I had been disappointed by the lightning bugs, and did not wish to repeat the experience." And how better than an up-close view to assure himself? His silence then brings a silence now, his fingers touched to Darsce's - though, while he can adjust for the mirrored positions of the fingers, the thumbs present an issue he has not yet resolved.
Jessa watches those moving fingers, and perhaps she recognizes something of those stories she's telling in what she's observing now - but most of all what she sees is her own incomprehension. There's clearly something there, and yet… she frowns faintly, seeing but not understanding, and reaches for her own glass of tea to take a sip.

Darsce wants to Jethaniel to make it an exception - in her case - also! And be his object of study. *cough* Can his mother read minds? Or well, catch the nuances of tone and body language? If so… they're giving her some…interesting perspective. Darsce is no scientist. And yet in developing patterns for clothing, triangulation is imperative. "You could probably find a way to do that with some cameras and radio equipment?" It's a guess, but can she please watch him if he does it? The answer as to his age, draws a sympathetic look sent to Jessa. Perhaps some of her…yes pain is understood. "I don't always understand him, but he is wonderful," she says very softly and very earnestly to the woman.

"Perhaps so," Jethaniel agrees to Darsce's suggestion. "That, or a large window and patience." His glance up to her is hopeful in a way that has nothing to do with obtaining the window and everything to do with having company to be patient with… though it might require a further increase in patience, should they become distracted from the vigilance task of observation. He is, however, more than willing to take that risk. That quiet comment makes his head rise, looking from Darsce to Jessa and back again. "I am…" He is disinclined to argue with her, and yet, he is silent for a moment, considering possible conclusions before he finds one that makes him smile. "…what I am." If Darsce sees that as wonderful, she may. What he sees, as he says it, is her, and his grey eyes are soft with affection for that sight. The resolution to this tautology may require the interpretation of nonverbal cues.
Jessa has raised five children and helped run a hold for decades. The nuances of tone and body language are something she's rather practiced in reading. Perspective? Oh yes. She has one, and while the discussion about radio-whatevers and lightning makes little sense to her, Darsce's other comment - when viewed with that perspective - makes her simply regard the younger woman for a moment before she sighs. "He's a good boy." And she's proud of him, maddening as she may sometimes find him. Another moment, and she shakes her head. "Go on, then. There's no storms here today -" and, yes, she's eyeing Jethaniel as she says it "- but you can show her the rock garden and the orchard." Though it's really more decorative than practical… but Cove Hold knows about appearances. And - Jessa hehs. "Tell her about that… equation thing… with the spiral."

Darsce's return glance says clearly that she would be willing to try both his and her patience being Jethaniel’s research partner. Distractions might well lead them down alternate - or even unrelated paths - of research to which she is entirely willing to explore. And so she smiles at him with lips that curve somewhat suggestively of her thought. It's more sultry than scientific, but not deliberately so; it's simply her nature and thus unconscious. Tautology is in Darsce's agreement to Jessa, "He is a good boy; he's also a great man." And as she's adept at reading between the lines sometimes, so her smile warms towards the woman, his mother and she adds, "Thanks to you." Because that's what mother do - they keep their children alive so they can grow up to be adults. Given leave to go, she squeezes the hand twined with Jethaniel's. "I'd love to see it and hear you tell me about that." A break from the awkward now, yes?

Continued in Sands of Time

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