Dinner Disaster

Continued from: Sands of Time

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.


Puzzles. Or research and puzzles. Darsce has given him both today. She will, no doubt, be delighted to see what he comes up with. He could end up going to a jeweler in Ierne and choosing a unique stone with his own reasoning for thinking it is amazing, she won't quibble. The date? Since they're going to be locating the Vega Run, her next comment is, "If we can find their projected shipping schedule, we'll know what dates they will be in the Rubicon area - that's usually in the late summer." So she really wants them to make it. And yes, weddings are complicated events. Hopefully she'll remember to keep it simple! After staring at the button in her palm, vaguely wondering how it got there, Jethaniel's 'Ah' causes her to giggle, trace his collar bone with a fingertip, then lean into him with a sighed and once again dreamy, "I do love you." And she kisses his lips tenderly. That's where she is when that throat-clearing takes place. Oh hey Jessa! Oops?

Whatever Jethaniel does, it is likely to require a nontrivial amount of explanation. If nothing else, he can document his research… but he is not likely to mind explaining to Darsce at whatever length she wishes, once he finds a solution to this puzzle he finds appropriate. It may take some time. Fortunately, he has been informed in no uncertain terms that he will be taking a vacation; he therefore has free days he can devote to metallurgical research, the creation of schematics, analyses of fracture planes in gemstones, and… oh yes… shipping schedules. Darsce's mention of the Vega's probable arrival in the Rubicon area receives a nod from Jethaniel. "There is, in that case, nearly a turn." They were, after all, setting a date… a task which is affected by, as it turns out, a great many factors, but which does not need to be completed immediately. Nor does the wedding for which the date is being set; Jethaniel has already established to his satisfaction (a significant amount thereof) that he is with Darsce, and as such is quite willing to wait and ensure that the wedding is what she wants. Does he prefer simplicity? In this situation, yes. While he is cognizant of the rules of etiquette, he does not consider himself an expert in them - though he has certainly performed adequately enough in the social aspect of his role as steward that his interactions with hall, hold and craftleaders have not led to any political incidents. However, there may yet be opportunity for an incident later tonight. Furthermore, as Cove Hold is not in Xanadu's coverage area, it might technically count as a cross-Weyr incident. Perhaps Jethaniel won't be getting that vacation after all? He will, nevertheless, be conducting research into jewelrymaking and shipment schedules for Darsce. (Also into suitable destinations for a trip. He will have to arrange for more leave time, once they've set the date. This may necessitate him actually finding the request form.) The research may be complex. The wedding… may also be. Jethaniel's preference for simplicity is only a tertiary desiderata. His primary desiderata is that Darsce be happy. His secondary is that he be with her. As such, if she should determine that he is required to wear an elaborate suit of riding leathers with each piece borrowed from a different wingleader, then stand atop a table and recite a speech including citations from the Ancients in front of an audience consisting of half the Weyrs of Pern… he will attempt it. So long as her plans include him being by her side, he will even derive enjoyment from the experience as a whole, though not necessarily certain parts of it. He will be happier, with her. His eyes lift at her laughter, and Jethaniel smiles. His leg drifts further in against hers, increasing the degree of tangle of their limbs as well as reducing the efficacy of his kilt at performing its function of modesty. Regrettably, Darsce is not currently positioned to appreciate that view - though it is difficult to entirely object, given her evident approval for the increased openness of his shirt. Jethaniel breathes in for the touch, his fingers stroking back along Darsce's tumbled hair, and at her words, his smile is pleased for the brief moment wherein it appears before being concealed by that kiss. The kiss is also pleased. It has intentions, from his side, of becoming a lingering one. Intentions are, however, not the same as reality, and that sound of a clearing throat is an auditory indicator of a chance in circumstances. Jethaniel's leg stops moving. So does his hand. His head does move slightly, lips parting from Darsce's but remaining close as his eyes open. His earnest grey gaze is on her (though the focal distance means his view is blurred) as he murmurs, ever so quiet, "And I love you."
Jethaniel may be pleased. Jessa… is not. She has rather more of a view than she wishes, and as she eyes her son's attire, her frown is making a reappearance despite her attempts at a polite expression. Being open to alternative clothing is one thing. Jessa prides herself on her open-mindedness. If, however, her son is going to wear a skirt, the least he could do is display some deportment about how he does it. Anyone could just come walking by and get an eyeful, but apparently he has no objections to that. Not with how he's tangled up with the blonde and providing a show! Jessa is beginning to regret not keeping a better eye on them. Not that she hasn't heard plenty about dragonrider types - seen it, too, when the ones from Eastern bring their 'friends' from High Reaches or Fort for a little 'quiet time' - though, really Cove Hold is for relaxing, not debauchery - but she thought her own son knew better. Apparently not, because he's not even having the good grace to look embarrassed. He's still tangled up with that girl, saying… something or other, though Jessa can't make out the words. And he hasn't even looked at her yet. Jessa frowns, her hands drifting to her hips and… yep. There's a tap of her toe. "Jethaniel." The tone is hard, devoid of emotion in a way that bodes nothing good, and she pauses for a moment, staring at him before her eyes move on… not that they have to move very far at all to encounter, "Darsce." Jessa smiles. It is not pleased. She regards, for another moment, the two sharing the chaise lounge - there are other chairs. A wide variety of them. But, no, that wasn't the reason at all, now was it? There were, she is now quite sure, other motivations involved. "Dinner is soon." Her gaze lingers on Darsce, with her tumbled hair and the pink hue to her skin. Just how far does that color go today, hmm? "You might want to get ready." Jessa smiles again. It's still not pleased.

By the time the summer rolls around, Darsce may be pleased to suggest elopement in earnest, but right now she's just thrilled and excited with Jethaniel's decision to wed. That's for several reasons but the biggest is the man himself. Thankfully, she employs most of manipulative skills in her current job, though not averse to using them for their mutual benefit, that's something she'll save for private moments rather than to make him look foolish. Some of his research she will ask about - searching for the Vega Run, perhaps. Metallurgy and mineralogy not so much; she'll tell him she likes surprises. "Next summer then. At Xanadu?" Since they both call it home. If his family is coming then travel they must, even though they do little of it. Speaking of family, that throat-clearing comes while she is mid-groan and sinking deeper into that kiss, her hand sliding inside that V of Jethaniel's shirt, quite forgetting where they are and that other eyes might see them. The sound of Jessa's not-pleased hail recalls her and her eyes, which had slid shut open. Oh yes, his mother, Darsce already knows she isn't thrilled with her son being with her. She still wants to avoid making things difficult for Jethaniel, but old habit dies hard and Darsce's teenaged impulse to appear invulnerable kicks in. So rather than jumping, scurrying off of the woman's son, smoothing down her fringed miniskirt and hair in guilty fashion, she remains tangled where she is, turns her head slowly over her shoulder. Jethaniel will feel the tension and the quickening thump of her heartbeat but on the surface of things, Darsce is unabashed. She mms low in her throat with a smile that is both lazy and suggestive, "I'm ready now." She pauses and as if just now understanding, "Oh! You meant dinner! Sure.” She turns back to Jethaniel and goes hazy, “Just five more minutes?"

Jethaniel smiles, and nods his agreement to both time (though further definition will be required) and place. "At Xanadu." The logistics can, at least, be simplified by not attempting to conduct them remotely… though simplification is relative. His family's travels can be arranged - summer is a good time of year for voyages, or he can provide a transport dragon (or two) easily enough. As aspects to plan go, that is not a difficult one, and while his family might suggest Cove Hold as a destination, Jethaniel expects it would not make Darsce happy, and as such, it is not eligible for consideration. He would look foolish for her. He is glad she does not ask it. He is also glad to press his body close to hers, to feel the warmth of it despite the tropical surroundings, and to have the wandering touch of her fingers… though he is somewhat less glad for the interruption. His shirt is also not entirely pleased, were it to be so anthropomorphized, but Jethaniel is willing to discount the opinion of his clothing. It is less easy for him to entirely discount the opinion of his mother, particularly when she is addressing him using his full name. He stops because of that… but he does not move away. Jethaniel goes still, his eyes lingering on Darsce for a moment as her head turns, then lifting up to regard his mother. "Thank you," he says politely to her notification as to the approach of dinner. Against Darsce's back, his fingers splay slightly, a small caress in response to the perceptible signals of her concern - though they're only perceptible to him, and an external observer may draw a different conclusion. Jethaniel's gaze slips back to Darsce again as she speaks, and his head lowers slightly as his eyes trace the curve of her neck. He can speculate what she might be ready for. Such speculations are rather distracting. However. "We will be there."
Jessa was attempting the polite smile, really she was. She doesn't manage to keep it as neither of these two shows the slightest signs of shame. The girl, well, what should she expect? Jethaniel, though… Jessa frowns at him as well as Darsce, her gaze moving between the two before settling on the one who's talking back. "Nereilse can show you to her room. If you want to make yourself presentable." A smile, or at least, an uptick of her lips, and… she stands there, giving them the eye. Moving off so they can continue makeouts? No, apparently Jethan needs a chaperone. (Because she's evidently forgotten he has not been a teenager for a long time.)

Darsce is more aware that Jethaniel is all man than Jessa might suspect. Or maybe the woman has come to her own conclusions based upon her prejudices. She wouldn't be too far off, but Darsce would certainly paint herself with a narrower brush than the lady of Cove Hold would; she's never fallen into anyone else's bed, after all. She turns back to Jethaniel after her flippant drawl, apparently going to make those five more minutes good ones whether his mother has gone or not. Jessa might learn something? It's more for show - that armor of unconcern - though if the woman were to call her bluff she'd definitely follow through. Instead, the name gives her pause. Nereilse? She's here too? Being tangled up with Jethaniel makes it hard to see the entire porch with a mere turn of her head, so with a sigh of regret, she withdraws her hand from where it's crept, pushes up on her elbow to assist a slow detangling from him, exposing nearly the entire length of her leg as she does so. Fringe, the stuff just won't stay put, y'know? Leaning to brush one last kiss to Jethaniel's lips, keeping it brief this time, she reaches for one of his hands to help her to her feet, not necessarily because she'd topple over otherwise, but because she wants to keep touching him. "I'll see you in a few minutes," she murmurs as she stands. "After you?" she says so-very-politely to Jessa, the corners of her lips curled in a hint of a smirk.

Jethaniel, looking down along the line of Darsce's neck (which is distinct from looking down her neckline), frowns slightly. It is not because of the view. He ducks his head further, and brushes his lips softly to Darsce's shoulder. Will it annoy his mother? Quite possibly. He finds himself unconcerned with this prospect, or at least attempting to maintain an appearance of unconcern… though his motions are slower and more cautious than when nobody was watching. (Or, at least, when they were unaware of any watchers.) Perhaps it would be more accurate to say he does not wish to be concerned, and is attempting to give that impression. He has a smile for Darsce when she turns back to him, but it's a small one, and his grey eyes are troubled. When she begins to sit up, he draws his leg back, his hand more slow to do so - most likely because he finds it necessary to trail fingers along her side instead of simply lifting them away. He watches her face instead of the straying fringe, but when she kisses him the troubled look is deferred in order that he may kiss her back… though it returns as he gives her his hand. The purpose of holding it may be to assist her in rising. The squeeze he gives it may not be as functional. "Momentarily," he replies softly.
Here? No, Nereilse is inside. Being productive. Jessa's conclusions… well. There's a reason why her eyes stay on her son when Darsce turns back, instead of on the Iernian. Some things are to be expected. Others aren't. There's a tap of her toe as she waits for the two of them to disentangle, and then she gives Jethaniel a look before returning her gaze to Darsce. She smiles. So very fake. "Right this way." And she'll usher Darsce inside and hand her over to Nereilse, who's going around checking the glows, before turning back to find her son.

Soft fingers return Jethaniel's squeeze with a gentle pressure, hers reluctant to slip from his. Darsce has caught the troubled expression of grey eyes, the slight frowns and so sends an apologetic look over her shoulder as she follows his mother into the house. When handed off to Nereilse, her artificial smile mirrors the quality of Jessa's. She says she'll be right down and thanks her. Yeah thanks for nothing. The smile turns genuine for Nereilse however and whatever the exchange she has with the young woman is pleasant on her part. Her bag has been fetched and she reaches inside it for her brush to begin drawing it through her hair, but her thoughts are down on that side porch with Jethaniel. Her eyes drift to the mirror she's standing in front of and that's when she notices her skin - cheeks, nose, neck, shoulders arms and she leans down to peek - yep, legs too - all bright red and when she touches her fingertips to a shoulder it is hot to the touch. Ouch! Oh well, she'll make the best of it. Finishing her hair, which she leaves down, she dabs a bit of clear gloss on her lips before starting back to find Jethaniel.

When he sees that look over Darsce's shoulder, Jethaniel offers her a smile, but it's a brief one, gone almost before he looks away. He too rises, following at a distance, and by the time Darsce returns from her touch-up - Nereilse is friendly enough, her room small and cluttered with knitting projects, but mostly she's interested in having a break and quite willing to be pleasant (in a vague sort of way) - Jethaniel will be inside. He is not, however, being productive. Furthermore, he is currently preventing his mother from doing so, because the two of them are standing off to the side, conversing. That is, at least, one reading of the situation. Jethaniel is standing with somewhat less of a slouch than usual, his head lifted and looking vaguely past his mother to nothing in particular as she says something that seems to require an emphatic gesture of her hands, followed by a pause as she gives him another of those looks… followed by her saying something that makes his vague look at the opposite wall turn to a more direct gaze at Jessa, and a frown. His attention so taken, he doesn't notice Darsce's return, instead continuing with a statement that concludes, "…none of your business." His tone is very level. It is informational. It is almost the one he uses when people are complaining about things he has no intention to fix, except there's a certain edge to it; an emotional content being carefully but imperfectly suppressed. Darsce has heard this tone before. She has even been an aspect of the situations involving it, though Jethaniel has never used one even close to it directed at her.
Jessa, on the other hand, appears somewhat surprised by it. Her hands (both of them) lift into the air, and it's with a tone of exasperation that she says, "Jethaniel, I'm just -"

Ah yes. That tone wouldn't happen to have been used with A'dmar out on a dusty plains, would it have? A disapproving Jessa lecturing her son about the undesirable and inappropriate choice of 'being with' her - that's sort of what Darsce was thinking might happen after she left. She can't hear what they're saying save for that one last phrase of Jethaniel's and the bitten off, exasperated one of Jessa's. She hesitates to walk right on over though, because it is private. Yet to linger and eavesdrop… while she would totally do that to Jessa, it wouldn't be fair to Jethaniel. Besides she's beginning to feel a touch of nausea and can feel her skin tingle - which isn't happening for the right reasons. It's uncomfortable and she's not in the mood to toy with the woman. So she strides on over, slips her arm through Jethaniel's hugs it with both arms and leans against him just a little. "Everything alright? I don't smell anything burning?" Hello Jessa, are you sure your cook has everything under control?

Indeed it would have, though when Jethaniel used it with the former Weyrleader, the control was better. Most likely because A'dmar's opinion was less relevant to him, though it might also have something to do with the exact details of the conversation. Nevertheless, he keeps his head high, his face as close to blank as he can manage, and while he doesn't cut off Jessa's retort himself, he does respond to it with a very, very small nod. She is just asking questions he does not wish to answer. As such, he will not answer them. This may prove to be a quite awkward and one-sided conversation, if she chooses to consider it. Darsce's arrival may make it either more or less so, depending primarily on Jessa's reaction, for Jethaniel's response consists of turning his head to look at Darsce and giving a long, slow nod. He doesn't even have a smile for her, though he does press back slightly into that lean, regarding Darsce for a moment before looking back up at his mother.
Jessa has heard that tone - or variants of it - before. It usually means he's not going to listen, no matter how long she sends him to his room for… not that she can do that, anymore, but still! Once that boy gets an idea in his head, there's just no moving him. Her first reaction to Darsce's reappearance is a frown, one quickly replaced by a smile as her gaze sweeps down over the blonde and then back up again. "Everything is," being said through a clenched smile? "…just fine." Her cook does not burn food. Neither does her nearly-master baker daughter. Headwoman, is it? She doesn't know how they do things in Weyrs, but… she gives her head a brisk shake. "We'll be sitting down shortly." As soon as Lianiel gets here, because apparently something is keeping her husband busy. Hence Jessa's look around and frown.

Ohhh the stonewalling tactic. Darsce employed the agree-to-all-do-nothing method. Her mother gave up asking. Not that Asher was all that connected, but. Darsce doesn’t expect Jethaniel to smile all the time, especially now, but she's beginning to feel more than just a touch of concern. There's a question lingering in the iceblue eyes that meet somber grey before they both look at Jessa. Darsce's smile is brittle as she returns Jessa's, and she says sweetly, "Lovely. Would you like some help?" Before something does burn? And while Jessa is looking around, Darsce mouths, 'Xanadu wine' with a lift of shapely brows in question up to Jethaniel. Did he have time to send a message via Stardust? Although… maybe they should send for fireworks instead and just set them off in a great big ka-boom.

Oh, but mothers know just the things to say. Jethaniel reaches his other arm up, resting his hand against Darsce's arm as she leans against him, though he doesn't have an answer to give her. Not at the moment. His hand is, however, assuredly more inclined to keep hers there than to brush them away. Perhaps that's a sort of answer, if one that's vague on certain points. Jethaniel is quite open to reconsideration on many points, just… not certain ones. "I should not keep you further," Jethaniel says to his mother in those careful tones. He does not attempt a smile, despite being in the crossfire of a pair of them. Darsce's offer of help makes his fingers twitch slightly, tensing against her arm, but he does not make any protest aloud, simply looking to her again as Jessa looks away and giving a small nod. The request was sent. There has not yet been a confirmation in the form of a successful delivery. Then again, the chances of a successful informational delivery… may depend on precisely how one defines success. If they said it now, they could be gone before dinner?
Jessa frowns at her son, tilting her head so she can give him the looking-down glare even with his own head lifted high, and then her eyes flick to their arms - tangled up again - before lifting to Darsce to smile. "Oh, no, we've got things well handled here." You're not needed. Or wanted? "Besides, the kitchens are rather hot." So's the sun. Scorching! Her glance around fails to find her husband, but does find a figure in the doorway of that kitchen - one who beckons Jessa toward her. That makes Jessa frown, glancing back to son and Darsce. "Just a moment." This isn't over, says the linger of her eyes on Jethaniel before she steps briskly away.

Jessa is correct about those kitchens. Even the heat of Jethaniel's palm is too much but while his mother is there, Darsce will pretend it is fine, though he will feel her rib cage freeze while she holds her breath. Her skin is ultra-sensitive in response to the twitch of fingers she feels against her arm - owwww - but it serves to nudge her to bite back her next comment. Which would have been something along the lines to question whether Jessa was SURE about that while leaning a touch more indolently against her son. But that would be pushing Jessa's buttons a little too hard. Even though Darsce might wish for a bit of payback, she doesn't really want it at Jethaniel's expense. His mother steps away and Darsce breathes, easing her arm out from under his hand. "You're hot," she says and not in the sultry manner suggestive of he's sexy. It's an apology for moving away, though she doesn't go far. She saw that look Jessa's just given him and so she whispers, "You're not okay, are you?" Never mind her increasing discomfort and her too-bright skin. "What do you want to do?" This is something she can't decide for him.

Jethaniel holds onto the emotive lack on his face for long enough to nod to his mother, but it's all tumbling away into concern as he turns his gaze back to Darsce. His hands fall away as well, though it's with an open-palmed hesitation hovering near but not on her. "I am sorry," he murmurs for his warmth - or perhaps it's for those looks? - before giving his head a small shake. "It was a… disagreement." He takes in a breath, lets it out once again… and regards Darsce with worry in his gaze. Never mind him, "Are you okay?" His words are quiet, but the worry is clear. Her flush and reactions are not precisely indicative of a suitable state to remain. "We could depart." Yes, it would make his mother complain mightily. It might well involve the metaphorical application of flame to connective structures. He is willing to offer it. Is it what he wants to do? …he's sidestepping that part for now, until he receives an answer from Darsce.

Darsce doesn't know what to say. Don't be sorry? It's not your fault? His mother is who she is. She understands, however. She'll be apologizing for hers soon enough. As for her, "I know we could leave; It's just sunburn," she murmurs. She's tougher than she looks? Well, mentally anyway. She's not angry or embarrassed, she's red from standing out in the midday tropical sun. Her eyes dart past him to note where his mother is before she says, "You know me. I don't back down." Cough. From a fight, but she isn't going to call it what it is. "I'll go if you want to, but will our leaving before… you know… make things any better?"

Jethaniel nods. Jessa is standing just past the doorway to the kitchen, busy in a conversation. It's probably not nearly as troublesome as it might seem from the sharp motions of her hands - but Jethaniel's mother is already annoyed for other reasons. The two of them aren't alone here, but Nereilse isn't paying much attention to them as she sets out napkins on the table. It is likely close enough to privacy. "I know you," Jethaniel says, and that draws a small smile from him before he sighs. "I do not think leaving will be advantageous. I merely…" He frowns, and his eyes lower as his voice drops to a level barely audible, even to Darsce. "…want to." After a moment, Jethaniel's eyes lift once again. "I will stay." He does not speak for Darsce. Her actions are her own choice. His actions are his. Whatever they may have done together is, contrary to his mother's opinions, a matter solely of their own choices.

He wants to leave? Hmm, yes. Darsce gets that. She left Ierne, after all. Though she's experienced the opposite of a controlling mother. Perhaps the sort of parental watchcare she had for those few turns after coming to Xanadu was what she unconsciously sought. Later, if he will tell her, she'll ask about that disagreement but for now she can guess it's because of her and she reaches to run a light touch along his arm with her fingertips. "I'm sorry," she breathes. "If I were more…" Proper? Chaste? Over-eager to please his mother? Not related to riders for sure! "Meek. Then she might not be so…" Possessive? Can Jethaniel connect the dots to her unfinished sentences without her defining her own lack and his mother's displeasure? "I want to stay with you," she says lowly, but firmly. And then because he looks so grim and she feels he needs to hear it, she breathes, "I love you." It's all she can do for now.

Jethaniel draws in a breath at Darsce's touch, leaning his head toward hers… but he shakes it for the apology and her suggestion. "Don't." Be sorry? Or… The single word is slightly louder than before, almost urgent, and then Jethaniel breathes out and softens both his voice and his direction. "Please. I do not want meek." His eyes seek hers, intent on conveying that message… though, given the circumstances, it may become somewhat confused. "I love you, Darsce." Not some hypothetical pseudo-Darsce who his mother might find more suitable. "…and I do not require any permission but yours. I will stay with you." A stronger statement than his own staying here, but now Darsce has affirmed her choice. She wants to stay with him. He will stay. They will stay together.
A clomp of boots and patter of feet comes from outside, an indicator of the impending arrival of a group of people. Here they are - Lianiel first, with Lariette bobbing along beside him and chattering about the big fish that was red. On the other side, a few steps behind, a young man in his late teens has an impatient expression, inhaling hopefully every time Lariette pauses for a moment and then letting it out disappointed when Lianiel doesn't acknowledge him. A few steps behind them is Erijeane, who's the one who actually goes looking around for Jethaniel and Darsce, tilting her head in a nod. From the kitchen, Jessa notes the stir of their entry, and emerges - all smiles, now, though she's not looking anywhere near her son - to greet them. "There you are!"

Okay then Darce won't be sorry says the slightly devilish glitter of iceblue and the slow smile that accompanies it. She wouldn't be happy being meek anyway. Her permission? Despite the slowly increasing heat to her sunburn, she's got a rakish tilt to her mouth as she murmurs back, "You had me at 'ah'." Her saucy wink is only partially effective thanks to slightly-puffy eyelids but she's got some spirit back. And his words are something she will long-remember and treasure. Oh yes, she's with him! She's not going to turn tail and run from his mother! At the sound of incoming, she turns to face them, but tucks a hand in the crook of Jethaniel's arm, the placement of her hand every bit the lady she isn't. She knows etiquette, so… game on? Her smile to Erijeane is a warm one; she likes her. Lianel, if he looks their way will get one too. If she can catch Lariette's eye, she'll flutter fingers at her. The teenaged boy she hasn't met yet, but he'll be noticed by her? Maybe a flutter of a wink to say hello across the suddenly-bustling room. Don't mind that her complexion looks the color of a boiled spiderclaw, her silver-blonde hair is brushed to a silken curtain and her dress is as well…flattering as ever? She's determined to ignore her own appearance anyway. Jessa? For the moment is ignored.

Jethaniel wishes Darsce to be happy, so perhaps that's why the gleam in her eyes makes him smile. Will it mean trouble? Likely so, and yet he smiles nevertheless. "Ah." It's not intentional. The duck of his head and abashed (but amused) smile afterward says as much. "Yes. I… shall endeavor to do well with you." Since he has her. His head lifts, smile lingering, and, as the stir of his family descends, he adds, "…later." Jethaniel brushes his fingertips softly against the back of Darsce's hand as it settles in his arm. The reaction of her skin is a relatively simple one. It is a transient effect, and not one which Jethaniel intends to focus on other than by caution in his interactions. In this regard, it may prove more effective than all his mother's attempts in limiting his amount of physical contact with Darsce. Jethaniel's fingers fall away again, after that brief caress, and he regards the familiar faces of his family. There's a smile for Erijeane as he returns her nod, a glance for the others, and then as Jessa speaks he looks back to Darsce. "Shall we?" he asks her before setting out to approach the rest. It's time for dinner. (Though there's still no confirmation on those bottles of bubbly.)
Lariette waves her hands (both of them) at Darsce, looking up at Lianiel to say, "An' she has pink fingers!" …though, really, at the moment Darsce has more red everything.
"Does she, now?" Lianiel asks the child, then looks over to see Darsce, giving her a nod before looking back down to Lariette, putting a hand behind her to nudge her toward the table.
The teenager stares at Darsce for a moment, then flicks his gaze to Jethaniel before returning it to the blonde woman and continuing his stare…
…which is why Erijeane pokes him in the side. "Your eyes'll fall out."
Jessa smiles determinedly, ushering people toward the table. "Come on, everyone, let's get…" There's a pause as she notices Erijeane, but the smile doesn't slip, just a flick of her eyes to Jethaniel and then another motion of her hands to direct them closer.
Nereilse is already there, hovering near the chairs and smiling to the others as they arrive.
Following Jessa from the kitchen is another woman, this one in her mid thirties and with that same family resemblance. Her eyes glance to Jethaniel and Darsce briefly, but really, they're seeking… aha. "Lariette, go wash your hands. Tolenar, you too, and get your brother while you're there. He's in his room."

Darsce will try not to be trouble - or more accurately will try to be not-trouble, but hey, things happen! Things that she never plans for, but pre-planning is not her forte when it comes to people. Events, designing yes. Social interactions? No. She flies by the seat of her pants far too often. Jethaniel's 'ah' sends her into quiet snickering, which is thankfully covered by the arrival of others and she gets it back under control soon enough. Her skin will miss his touch - though her feet are fine and her toes will find plenty to do under the table - his doing well later may well involve helping her apply numbweed gel and iced-water soaked cloths to heated skin if they're someplace his mother… isn't. As for dinner, she merely inclines her head. "We shall." If the wine shows up, it shows up. If not, well, they can substitute water. Or announce and run for it. Whatever works.

Darsce is, at the moment, wearing a skirt. So is Jethaniel, though he does so less often. This may make the impromptu nature of their social interactions more pronounced, depending on the exact nature (and correspondence) of the metaphor. Regardless of that, Jerhaniel smiles with lowered head for her laughter, which demonstrates that - aphorisms aside - sometimes being laughed at is a good thing. Prepositions are important, but so is intentionality. His smile also fairly effectively demonstrates that, while Darsce is assuredly connected to what was displeasing him, he is not, in point of actual fact, unhappy with her… though others may be. What goes on beneath the table will, hopefully, stay beneath the table - the literal sense thereof being a reasonable means to achieve the metaphorical. If it does not, there will be trouble, but for now, Jethaniel lifts his eyes to regard his family. This is (nearly) everyone. It is, in fact, everyone whose arrival is projected tonight. The causation between this and the fact that it is time for dinner is arguable, but both are true. After that dinner (or perhaps during it, depending on just how things go) it will be time for them to depart. An administrative workday starts early. Whether or not Jethaniel will be attending his promptly tomorrow, the existence thereof makes a good excuse for leaving relatively early in the evening and returning to Xanadu… where Jethaniel will be more than willing to play healer with icewater and numbweed. With or without his damaged shirt. Where did Darsce put that button, anyhow? It may make the difference between the shirt requiring replacement or simply a repair… though given some of Darsce's fields of expertise, she could likely consult with him as to an appropriate course of action. For the moment, the shirt simply hangs open in an approximated V shape created by the interaction of the hang of the fabric with the forces applied to it by gravity and the movements of his body. To a casual glance, the style might be intentional… if unusual for Jethaniel. It's only the actual absence of the button that makes the accidental nature clear, but Jethaniel appears unperturbed by it. He is still wearing clothing. It will suffice. He glances toward the table, his eyes pausing near the end - a suitable place to seek obscurity - before frowning slightly as his eyes continue on toward the center of it. He tilts his head to Darsce, and asks quietly, "Shall we sit near the center?" She is the one more versed in etiquette and social maneuvers than he. While he might personally prefer to optimize for minimal contact with certain members of his family, he expects it will be advantageous to possess a central position from which to make their announcement. Furthermore, he prefers to not defer the selection of that placement such that it may become plausible for certain others to determine it. As such, his preliminary choice of seats for them, though Jethaniel will find any seat wherein he is placed next to Darsce acceptable. As she is next to him now, and with that so, he awaits her answer before approaching the others for some amount of socialization as they make their way toward seats. "Hello, father," he says to Lianiel as they near, for it has been some hours since they last spoke, and Jethaniel is nothing if not polite. He does not, however, greet his mother; perhaps this is because of the recency with which he last spoke to her… or perhaps it has something to do with Darsce's hand, resting on his arm.
Lianiel nudges Lariette off to go get those hands washed, then nods to Jethaniel. His gaze lingers on Darsce for a moment, and then he grunts. "You need a hat." That is, apparently, his entire statement about her and her condition. Oh, no, wait, there's more. Lianiel tilts his head to indicate his son as he adds to Darsce, "And get him some pants." There. That is his entire statement, and with it said, he heads for the table. His own hands, after spending his time checking over the docks, probably also need washing, but he doesn't bother with that… at least not until Jessa gives him a meaningful look, though to judge from her frown after her husband, that wasn't actually the meaning she intended. Contextual interpretation of gestures is only somewhat effective. If Jessa hoped to have a chance to bend his ear about certain matters before dinner, she's just been disappointed.
Tolenar glances back to Erijeane and rolls his eyes. What, him? Staring? Nah. Of course not… which is why he carefully doesn't look at Darsce in the slightest as he heads off with Lariette, slouching along with the bouncing little girl. They're gone for a bit, and when they return, it's with a boy a couple turns older than Lariette walking beside them. Liessa comes to intercept them and inspect hands for cleanliness - which Lariette shows proudly, the middle boy does grudgingly, and Tolenar refuses to do entirely - before ushering them toward the table to find them places. Tolenar trails behind them, seeing if by a few steps distance he can create a psychological distance between him and the kids. Maybe today will be the day he gets adult conversation at the table?
Erijeane grins at Tolenar's reaction, and as he heads off, she glances to Jethaniel and Darsce again… but though she smiles, she avoids actually going in their direction. Maybe she's paying attention to know how to avoid them? Because she's certainly not talking to them, instead drifting around toward the other side of the table, where she nods a greeting to Nereilse and engages in some light questions about a gardening something or other with her sister. There are mentions of plants, and growing. Possibly also pots? It's going nowhere in particular, but Erijeane is most assuredly standing by the dinner table and talking.
Jessa frowns after Lianiel, but her attention is being pulled in other directions as well. Erijeane's presence by the table is noted, and Jessa regards her a moment, then glances to Jethaniel and back again to Erijeane. Sigh. Jessa shakes her head and - at the other end of the table from where Erijeane is - nudges one place setting down so she can set up another one. She does it quietly, even if she frowns at fork and spoon both, and it might almost look like it was there all along except for how that entire side of the table is now slightly unbalanced. It's squished up on one end, relative to the other, and… the frown lingers, though she tries to be rid of it as she glances up to the return of the hand-washing group. The scrunched together place settings, well… "Right over here!" she says, with a beckon toward Liessa. She can pretend it's intentional and meant for the smaller children. For convenience. Or something.
Nereilse is willing enough to talk to Erijeane, though she glances over to Jessa as her mother begins to do something at the table. Didn't she set it? But… oh. Nereilse glances back to Erijeane, who looks like she hasn't noticed any of this, just asking another question about those green growing things. Because she's so curious, you see, and that conversation continues while Jessa sets the new place at the table, even if Nereilse does keep glancing up and over at her mother… but she never quite gets to the point of stopping the conversation with Erijeane to go over there.

Darsce can be subtle when she wants to. So unless she misjudges whose leg or foot is whose under the table, she'll derive a very quiet satisfaction from her rebellion to Jessa which will hopefully go unnoticed - at least by the matriarch. She has no idea Jethaniel might be considering the end of that table - she's never sought obscurity in her life so why start now? She would totally for his comfort though, if it occurred to her, but tonight? With their plans occupying her thoughts and her increasing discomfort from the sunburn, she doesn't think to. She just nods and murmurs, "That's fine," and will allow him to guide her to the seating of his choice. She's approving of his shirt, missing button or not. Said button has been dropped into her bag with her makeup, hairbrush and unused bikini. She'll mend it later but also drop the suggestion he occasionally leave the top one undone. As for the family, she doesn't try to overspeak the tumble of voices, but when Lianel speaks to her, she grins. She needs more than a hat in this sun and next time she'll be aware. The last-minute addition for Jethaniel draws a merry spurt of laughter and a nod. Because for her it's a choice of enjoying the view either way - he looks just fine in either garment! Jessa's glances between Erijeane and Jethaniel are noted but she has no clue what that's about, so remains silent while settling into her seat. It means relinquishing his arm - sadness! - but nevertheless, there's a smile up to Jethaniel and a gracious thank you murmured.

If Darsce's actions go entirely unnoticed, it would raise the question of why they are occuring in the first place. It is, however, advantageous if the notice of them is limited to intended recipients. As with the difference between a memo being placed on a desk or posted for a council meeting. Intended audience can make a significant difference. Jethaniel nods to Darsce's confirmation about the seats, drifting along toward them at the pace the crowd permits. He is not entirely unfamiliar with large groups - particularly not this one - but he was never the most actively conversational of them. Lianiel's first comment brings Jethaniel's eyes to Darsce, the concern for her sunburn certainly present, but his father's second draws Jethaniel's gaze back to his father. His mouth opens slightly, but for a moment he's wordless, which means his reply of, "…I expect she will," is merely said to his father's back, and as such, goes unacknowledged. Jethaniel has no intentions of ceasing to wear the kilt, but he does not in principle object to the expansion of his wardrobe - even if, left to himself, he is likely to employ the clothing he has until it displays too many signs of wear, then replace it with items similar in all regards except for the recency of their creation. Jethaniel assists with Darsce's chair - though he would prefer to be touching her instead of merely the object on which she is seated - then takes the one next to her as the rest of the family descends.
Liessa, satisfied with the state of her children's hands, sets Lariette down between Jethaniel and Ramodel… after dragging a chair over for the eight-turn-old, because the last minute addition of a place setting didn't include it. She herself takes a seat opposite them, where she can keep an eye on the youngsters, and Tolenar - despite an attempt to slink away - is told to sit down next to her. Sigh.
Erijeane continues her conversation (and utter lack of noticing Jessa) right up until people start sitting, then slips around the end of the table to take up a spot on the other side of Darsce, while Nereilse stays where she is at the chair opposite.
That leaves Jessa and Lianiel in the other center seats, and Tolenar looks both surprised and pleased when Jessa (with a little nudge to her husband) chooses the seat across from Darsce, leaving Lianiel to sit down across from Jethaniel.

Why? Oh because Darsce will not comply with the hinted 'hands off' vibes she's getting from Jessa and so will smugly tell herself toes do not count. She plays these games in her head to amuse herself when encountering annoying people she can't let know just what she thinks. To be honest, there… haven't been all that many in her life thus far – she usually speaks right up. Though, to be fair to Jessa, Darsce is aware that she doesn't really know the woman yet because there's been that prickly wall up since her arrival, so her own opinion is as yet, not solidly formed. As for Jethaniel's wardrobe, it's not that she hasn't noticed his tendency to be functional, but she's been rather preoccupied with the man in said clothing. She'll be happy to take him shopping for things and make suggestions for variety at some point. Aaaaand they're all at the table. Darsce turns her head to smile again at Erijeane. It's a warm friendly one that will leave no doubt they've already met, should Jessa take note of it. Underneath the table, she's already surreptitiously slipping the sandal of the foot opposite Jethaniel off. Why waste time?

Toes are, in fact, not hands. As such, Darsce is (technically) correct, and may do as she wishes with her toes with no effect whatsoever on the policy - which, admittedly, is merely an implicit one, and as such, may not be clearly defined. The law only has a spirit, not a letter to be carefully followed… or not, as the case may be. Jethaniel nods to the rest as they arrive at the table, turning away from Darsce for a moment in order to greet the younger contingent with a polite nod and a, "Good evening." It's spoken to Lariette and Ramodel, but he glances up to Liessa afterward and provides her and Tolenar with a nod as well. Once the greeting has been made, he glances back to front and center to nod to his parents as they settle in. "Thank you for having us," he says. The words are fairly suitable ones for saying at a time like this, though they do create the impression that Jethaniel is here as a guest instead of part of the family. Perhaps his creation of that impression has something to do with the disagreement had earlier? He has, at least, found an expression which - if no longer as smiling as what Darsce drew from him - is at least not actively frowning as he looks to his father and mother.
Liessa smiles to Jethaniel, but it's a somewhat tired one, and while she starts to look in Darsce's direction, it's prevented as Ramodel leans over the table and asks in a tone that is evidently supposed to be a whisper but actually rather loud, "Is it going to be noodles again?"
Lariette is kicking her heels down under the chair, and Tolenar busily pretending he doesn't know anyone else on that end of the table, looking mostly at Lianiel with occasional glances to Darsce that he pretends, if caught, are actually looking past her to Erijeane.
Erijeane doesn't believe Tolenar, but she does smile back to Darsce quite amiably. Oh, yes, they know each other. Nereilse glances along the row of them, then settles her gaze on Jessa.
The matriarch of the family regards Darsce, her eyes flitting from Jethaniel on one side to Erijeane on the other. She looks not entirely surprised to see they know each other, and her lips purse before she's distracted by Ramodel's comment, glancing down at Liessa before returning her attention to the center. "You're always welcome here, Jethan," she says with a small edge to her voice, then smiles. "Shall we eat?" Which is apparently a code word, because out come a pair of trays with cold soup (it's green, because it's peavine) and toasted bread.

Iceblue eyes drift down the table, meeting eyes should they be willing, a smile of both hello and warm curiosity. These are Jethaniel's family and as such they genuinely interest her. She's aware of just who is seated directly in front of them and that is where her gaze finally settles. Her lips part to echo Jethaniel's thanks but the words that come out are checked because Jessa's replying to her son and it's clear Darsce… isn't. So her 'thanks' is given in the pause after her comment with dulcet tones and a sweet smile while her eyes remain locked upon the woman, "Experiencing Cove Hold has been a pleasure unequaled," while the tip of her pinkie - her hand is lying on the table close enough to Jethaniel's to execute this - traces the back of his thumb in a slow, sensuous move. It's a subtle motion, likely blocked by their plates from most of the table but Jessa probably won't fail to see it.

Jethaniel lowers his head for his mother's response. The motion could pass for a nod, except his head stays down somewhat excessively long for it to be that particular gesture, and when it lifts, it's turned to watch Darsce - even (or is that especially?) because her eyes are elsewhere as she speaks to Jessa. His hand moves only slightly for Darsce's touch - a change to the angle, inclining it further toward her. The response is subtle, perhaps even enough so to be missed by Jessa; eyes are less well-suited to measuring minute motions than physical contact… though the point in time and space (located approximately halfway along both, in the sense of the duration of the touch and his thumb) when it twitches may reveal that information, even if it was not noticed previously. Jethaniel's gaze takes in the red of sunburn as Darsce speaks, and his lips quirk slightly as his head tilts down again - though, unlike before, his eyes stay lifted. "It is often difficult to generate equivalencies for such abstract concepts as pleasure." Though, while he may describe pleasure as abstract, he is assuredly not moving his hand away.
Liessa is mostly busy with her own little world of Lariette and Ramodel, though she does smile back to Darsce. Time to talk, though… not so much. Tolenar will meet Darsce's eyes, sure, but… heleans toward Lianiel. "So, are you going fishing tomorrow?" The teen is hopeful, gazing up at the older man… who shrugs, not seeming to pay him much attention, then adds, "Might."
Erijeane leans back in her chair, casual and letting her gaze wander not only the table but back behind it. Jethaniel's comment brings a smile to her lips, which she then gives an excuse to exist as she asks Darsce offhandedly, "What's your favorite part so far?" It's one of those friendly getting to know you questions, right? Complete with smile. (And implication that the discovery of Cove Hold will continue.)
Jessa's gaze lingers on Jethaniel, and her expression might be characterized as concern… though it could also be read as disapproving. Her eyes catch up to Darsce while she's speaking, and she gives a small nod as her eyes drift down and then up once again. "Well-" she begins, but then Jethaniel is speaking, and her brow-furrow becomes one of perplexity as she tries to untangle his words, so Erijeane gets in there first.

Her favorite part of Cove Hold? Your brother, Erijeane. Darsce's head turns to the young woman beside her and no, she doesn't say that. She's trying for subtle. Blatant would surely get her asked to leave. That's probably coming at some point anyway, but she's going to try to remember she should behave. She's… failing miserably, isn't she? This time she deliberately doesn't look at Jessa as she answers Erijeane with an almost-purr, "I quite enjoyed the side porch. I found the lounges very comfortable and the view… pleasing." It was actually stimulating, but in a place as restful as Cove Hold, people would wonder and ask. Though when she turns to smile meltingly - and unfeignedly at Jethaniel, the one who found them tangled up there should know exactly what- err, who she's referring to. The cold soup is placed in front of her so her spoon is taken dipped into it, tasted and approved with, "This is delicious." She's sort of trying? Under the table her bare toes brush Jethaniel's ankle.

It is entirely accurate to characterize Darsce's actions as behavior. Indeed, any set of responses to stimuli may be considered as behavior. There is no innate value judgment required for actions to be construed as behavior; while certain behaviors may fail to meet certain standards, that is an aspect of the standards being applied. A proper spirit of scientific inquiry would take this as an opportunity to confirm or deny a hypothesis - which a standard for behavior can easily be defined as - and iterate toward a better understanding of the behaviors of the entity being studied. Under such a model, there is no such thing as behavioral failure. Jethaniel's behavior in response to Darsce's answer consists of a small smile and a dip of his head, and provides supporting evidence for the hypotheses being constructed by his mother. If she's still seeking an explanation by the time Darsce turns back to him, his smile in return may provide all the corroboration Jessa needs. Jethaniel does not, however, look in his mother's direction. "Cove Hold has many attractive views." Of course, the one he's currently observing is only incidentally present, and perhaps Jethaniel's awareness of this is why he turns his head to look back along the table. The motion is paused at the brush of Darsce's toes to his ankle (which is, at the moment, covered by a sock… though a light summerweight one), and his eyes flit back to her for a moment before he adjusts his position to reach for his spoon and have some soup. In the process of this adjustment, he also changes how he is sitting, such that his leg is stretched further toward her. It is likely a somewhat awkward position, requiring the tensing of certain muscles to maintain. Jethaniel pauses between bites of soup to look down at Liessa. "Is it your recipe?" he asks.
Liessa, when spoken too, looks up from explaining to Lariette that, no, she can't just have bread for dinner, and flicks a brief smile to her brother - and Darsce. "There's nothing special in the recipe, it's just fresh ingredients. But thank you." Ramodel squirms, and Liessa glances back to the children.
Darsce's answer makes Erijeane's eyebrows lift curiously. The… side porch. Not that the views are bad there, exactly - they're really not //bad anywhere in Cove Hold, not unless you're deliberately staring at a wall or the compost heap - but… the look back to her brother explains it, and for a moment her expression is quite amused before the smile turns polite. "You should see the one from the hilltop." Because they're talking about views, or rather, she's willing to pretend they're talking about views… mostly. "I'm sure Jethaniel could show you."
Lianiel looks up from where Tolenar's trying to draw him out about that possible fishing trip. "Looks like rain tonight." Which is probably a statement about the advisability of hilltops, but after he says it, he looks back to Tolenar, so maybe they were just a convenient direction while he thought about what the fishing would be like.
Jessa catches on quick, yes. She's frowning even before Darsce gives her son that look, and she sets down her soup spoon to the side. "I expect there won't be any more tours tonight," she says, with a glance to Erijeane and then back to Jethaniel with a sweep over Darsce along the way. "It's…" because of the weather? That's sort of what Lianiel said, but… yeah, that's not really Jessa's reason, though she's still not quite at the point of saying it aloud. "…getting late."

Darsce continues eating her soup, the repeated dipping of spoon and raising it to her lips executed in flawless social mannerisms in speed and amount. Her lips, with the subtle sheen of gloss, are quirked with satisfaction as they close over the silverware, the motion of her throat as she swallows ripples her sun-flushed skin its entire length thanks to her low-cut neckline. While her spoon scoops the last bit of soup from her bowl. "Jethaniel can show me anything he'd like to-" she drawls in reply to Erijeane, then seems to consider Jessa's declaration and she nods at the matriarch as though in an amicable fashion. "Maybe not at Cove Hold," she concedes graciously to Jessa of those tours and places her spoon on the rim of her bowl to indicate to the server she is finished. Her hands then drop to her lap - presumably - where Jessa cannot see them. One of them sneaks over to Jethaniel's lap. She pats his thigh. Why? Oh so many reasons, really! Because she can? Because it's his. Because the lean muscle under that kilt is ohsoverynice! Because rebellion. Her toes, meanwhile, hook that summerweight sock and slide it down in leisurely fashion.

Jethaniel begins to nod to Erijeane about the views, but her comment volunteering him makes him give her a questioning look. Is that really what Jessa needs to be reminded of? Not that he thought he could avoid the topic, precisely, but he was hoping… for… something which he is currently having difficulty articulating, as his gaze is settling on Darsce instead of going past it to his sister. "Ah. This…" He glances to his mother, and gives her a measured nod. That would be an excellent segue into a mention of the necessity for a return to Xanadu because of work in the morning. It also provides an opportunity for Darsce to make her own observation… which is true, but whose implications are not likely to be received as favorably. His eyes rest on Darsce for a moment, then lower as he takes in a breath. An attempt at patience? That would be a plausible reading for someone merely observing part of the situation, but given that the inhalation occured at approximately the moment when Darsce's hand touched his leg, Jethaniel is likely attempting to exert a different form of self control. "…yes," he says, possibly an agreement with his mother - or one with Darsce's verbal statement - or a reaction to her nonverbal one, and then attempts to continue. "I expect we will be headed back to Xanadu after dinner." Because it's late, one might presume. Jethaniel finishes his soup, motions studiedly careful, and sets the spoon down - though his own hands stay atop the surface of the table, where they can be seen.
Erijeane gives Jethaniel a fractional little shrug at his look. At least she didn't call him by her usual nickname for him and remind Jessa of that? There's a smile for Darsce's answer, though Jethaniel's addition makes her frown briefly before nodding in comprehension. Not unexpected, that.
Darsce's comment makes Jessa look to Jethaniel, tilting her head in and staring at him. "And just what would that be?" That he'd like to show Darsce, that is. At Xanadu Weyr, not Cove Hold. She's not very loud, but the rest of the table gets… quieter. Lariette's no longer talking about whatever it was she was talking about. Liessa is glancing up and wondering what she missed. Nereilse is leaned away in her chair slightly. Lianiel is turning from grandson to wife, probably because he saw the flick of Tolenar's eyes in that direction. Jessa pays no attention to any of them, except Jethaniel.

"Hilltop?" Darsce knows nothing of the significance of that and so her question to Erijeane is without ulterior motive; she is merely curious. Catching Jethaniel's questioning look, she flicks her fingers, dismissive to her own query. Tell her some other time. Though should Jethaniel wish - at some later time - enlighten her, she will be delighted to have him do so says the encouraging look he's given. Under the table her hand doesn't stop with the pat, no. Fingers increase the pressure as they slide knee-wards, simply… appreciating. It's not meant to tickle. Her toes, which ARE meant to tickle, slide slowly up the side if his calf. Darsce answers the question that Jessa seems to want from Jethaniel since the woman is looking at her son rather than herself. With an airy wave of her other hand - the one she's just used to put the soup spoon down with, "His thoughts, his experiments, his plans… whatever." She's being overly-nonchalant now.

For Darsce's question and subsequent dismissal thereof, Jethaniel merely has a small nod. Perhaps he'll tell her at a future point, or perhaps other questions will arise and it will simply be forgotten. Either way, he does not appear overly concerned for it, and there are presently other matters to take his attention. For instance, the motions of Darsce's hand and foot. Jethaniel could easily move his leg away. He is, in fact, exerting effort to keep it where it is. In a sense, any position of his leg would require work, as the cells within it are consuming glucose and generating adenosine triphosphate (as he is currently providing them with sufficient oxygen, thus enabling the more efficient aerobic respiration - though Jethaniel is not performing aerobics at a multicellular level, at least not with those cells contrued as an organism instead of a mere mass quantity). While this is true, it is also true that he is deliberately sitting such that it is more accessible to Darsce, despite the fact that this positioning is slightly less than optimal for the purpose of sitting and consuming nutrients (including glucose, albeit primarily as part of longer carbohydrate chains that will require digestion). Jethaniel is, as he is adequately nourished and oxygenated, quite capable of exerting the energy required to maintain his leg in either state. To move it would require an initial use of energy, but would also allow him to reach a position of lower potential energy, thus reducing the ongoing physiological costs of being seated here. He does not move it away, though the muscles of his calf tense as those toes tease along them. The basal effort required to keep his leg increases nontrivially because of that touch. However, moving his leg would - while reducing the physiological costs - also force payment of an opportunity cost, in the form of a reduction of Darsce's touch to him. As such, Jethaniel exerts the physiological effort required, and thus his primary reaction is that tensing of his muscles as they attempt to keep from twitching too much - or at least, that's the primary observable reaction, though (as is so often the case) the perspective from which observations are made is relevant. This includes both psychological state and aspects such as the physical presence of objects in line of sight - a table, for instance. Objects partially occluded from view are, once object persistence is established (something true for everyone at this table) reconstructed according to one's mental model of the situation. Such mental models may or may not mirror reality accurately. Furthermore, their possessors may or may not be aware of their various deltas from objective reality - something which is also a general fact about perception; partial occlusion is merely a subcase, though one presently relevant. At his mother's words, Jethaniel's hands move. In addition to moving his leg away, he could reach down to his own lap and remove Darsce's hand. He does not. Instead, his hands come forward in front of him, still on the table. The view of them is not occluded from anyone at this table. This includes Jethaniel, and he regards those hands of his for a moment as he touches the fingertips together and Darsce gives her answer. It's a true one, so far as it goes, but it is both incomplete and not from the source his mother has chosen to define as authoritative. Jethaniel lifts his head slowly, not looking to Darsce. He might have given the long form of the last item in her list as, 'whatever she wants' - though Darsce has already given it as, 'anything he'd like to'. The broadness of the category somewhat dilutes the statement, but it may be useful to read it as an alteration of defaults. As such, Jethaniel looks to Jessa. "That," he says in a very measured tone, "depends." If it is advisable to measure twice before cutting once, Jethaniel's voice would seem to indicate he is measuring three or four times before speaking. Perhaps each of the measurings could be correlated to be different emotion? Jethaniel looks away from his mother, gaze settling on Darsce. There's an unhappiness there, like the one she saw when returning here, but his lips can't help but twitch in a brief smile of affection when his eyes settle on her - even if it fades with concern, leaving the affection as a look in those grey eyes… and desire, in the intentness of their gaze. He speaks again, looking at Darsce despite how he's continuing his reply to Jessa, and there's a trace of wistfulness. "I had wanted to show her my family."
Lianiel looks from his wife to his son, and back again. What. He wasn't paying attention, and now - because there's obviously something going on - he is. "Jess," he says, half interrogative and half… annoyed? Maybe. The tone is certainly gruff. His eyes rest on Jessa, his head turned but his body still facing forward in the chair. Sitting at table, for dinner. The soup-bowls are being cleared away. Up next? Roasted wherry, with a sour-sweet berry sauce and a pilaf of mixed grains with bamboo slivers and mushrooms.
Lariette, because nobody's mad at her, is quite ready to eat. So she picks up a hunk of wherry with her bare hands with plans to dunk it directly into the sauce. Liessa - who was listening to the conversation - sighs and turns her attention back to the kids, taking Lariette's plate away so she can cut the meat into pieces. Ramodel starts carefully picking out all the mushrooms and putting them on the side of his plate. On the other side of the table, Nereilse picks at her food, looking mostly at her plate with glances aside to Jessa, but doesn't say anything.
Erijeane gives Darsce another shrug for the hilltop. It's not important. Though maybe she should have pursued it, because it's a better topic than… she, too, looks to Jessa as the matriarch speaks, but for Erijeane, it's with a frown. She leans back in her chair, ignoring the food and placing herself quite clearly on the side of the table she's on. Her eyes stay on their mother until Jethaniel himself speaks, at which point they flick to her brother (well, to Darsce's head, mostly. It's in the way) before returning to Jessa. There's a little arch of an eyebrow. Well?
If Lianiel had only come and spoken to Jessa before dinner - or stuck around when they were meeting on the porch - he might not be so perplexed now. Jessa certainly could have explained a thing or two to him! But it's rather too late for that now. Darsce's answer receives a small shake of her head - evasions! - and she keeps on looking at Jethaniel. Her name from Lianiel gets a wave of her hand, a flick of fingers. Shh. She's busy staring down her son. He can't look at his hands forever. (This is Jethaniel. He could point out that the set of moments in his staring create an infinitely subdivisible series, and if he merely continually stares for half the time he has previously stared, he has an infinitely extending time of staring at his hands. Being Jethaniel, he would likely then continue in his application of an isomorphic Zeno's Paradox using time instead of space, and explain that, while the series of gazing at his hands is infinite, the limit of that series may be taken and is a finite duration… even though that clarification would mitigate the rhetorical point that an infinite stare is possible in some regards by demonstrating the ways in which it is also not.) Jessa… has no idea of that explanation. She simply knows that, at some point, Jethaniel is going to look up again - and he does. There's a brief (ever so brief) moment of satisfied smile. There. Now she'll get her answer, only… she doesn't. Not really, because Jethaniel's reply to her is also evasive and equivocating, and then he looks away. She frowns as he turns toward Darsce, and it grows all the more as he continues. "Jethan, you can't just… you've got to think ahead." About his family visits? No, Jessa (for all she complains about the interruptions) never really objects to even the impromptu ones. About the long term? That might be more like it, and there's a flick - a mere flick - of her eyes to Darsce before they settle back on Jethaniel. Her tone becomes less lecturing. More earnest. "Really. It's all very nice now-" that moment she interrupted, out on the porch. Tolenar, seventeen and at Cove Hold for the summer, is so not looking at his grandmother. Or anywhere on that two-thirds of the table. Probably because he recognizes some of those words, and seriously, he gets enough of this himself, he doesn't want to listen to his uncle get it too. Jessa is ignoring the rest of them, focus on her eldest son "…but think about your future."

Darsce's hand gets to a certain point, likely mid-thigh and there it stops. While the bones in her legs and arms are of adequate length to qualify her as lanky, her arms are not made of rubber. Likewise her toes can only creep so high without pretzeling herself awkwardly. To continue with either appendage would require she slouch and then her under-the-radar activities would then become obvious, unless it already is to a few reconstructed mental models around the table. So she is content with her own subtle sort of rebellion - for the time being. Darsce certainly isn't ignoring the rest of the table, her eyes do drift over them, an amused smile curves her mouth at the children's eating mannerisms - so cute! - and her head dips in a subtle nod back to Erijeane's shrug. But since Jessa is presently directing the conversation, her (visible) attention is front and center. The woman's small head shake of exasperation at her evasion draws the beginnings of a very small smile. How's that feel Jessa? Jethaniel's pained look forestalls it, however. Unnoticed, her plate is set in front of her as she regards him, her iceblue eyes containing fondness in return mingled with apology and answering concern while the mischief fades. This isn't a game to him, even if she's sort of playing one right now. Her eyes never leave Jethaniel's, not when Lianiel speaks, not when Jessa becomes so earnest. Okay now this just got awkward, not that she didn't think it was coming, but she ought to stop distracting Jethaniel right now. So with a little pat of her hand, she withdraws it to place on the tabletop beside his, back in view and her toes give his calf a brush before she removes them as well.

Jethaniel is apologetic as well - at least to Darsce. There's a reason he used the past tense, and it is not entirely because introductions have already been made. His head dips slightly as his mother speaks, and as Darsce's fingers move away, there's a trace of disappointment. While it is, in fact, advantageous for him to not be distracted, he finds he wants the distraction. Jethaniel's hands part from each other, one turning palm down on the table, the other slipping over to Darsce's and doing the same, resting atop it as he lifts his gaze across the table once again, regarding his parents. Both of them, though his mother's the one who's been speaking. This is not an unusual occurence, given his parents, and Jethaniel considers both of them before his gaze settles on his mother. His future? "I assure you," he says in a low, serious tone, "I am." His voice and expression are both compatible with the formal steward of Xanadu, telling someone that their perspective is important to him, but unfortunately, what they've asked him for has been deprioritized and is not part of the schedule. That interpretation is not entirely inaccurate, though Jethaniel certainly is not acting on behalf of the Weyr as he turns back to Darsce and leans in to kiss her. At the dinner table. In front of his family. She did say he had permission to do so whenever he wanted, did she not?
…whatever the other consequences of Jethaniel's answer, it suceeds in silencing Jessa. An open mouth and a stare of disbelief count as silence, yes? Jethaniel claims no social expertise.

The past tense Jethaniel used is partly why Darsce has apology in her eyes. He's disappointed and she cares very much about that. When his hand covers hers, she flips her hand over, curls her fingers 'round his hand and gives it an encouraging squeeze. He may be watching his parents, but she is watching him, the affection and admiration on her face plain for everyone at the table to see. The kiss? Now that's unexpected - or rather the timing of it is. It's not at all unwelcome, though as his lips meet hers, she flicks one eye across the table almost in the manner one will when hearing someone yell, "FIRE IN THE HOLE!" There's going to be a biiiig boom now, yes? That's the sort of look given to Jethaniel's parents, wide-eyed and wary but not smug at all. Because Jethaniel is in discomfort. Nevertheless, she leans into that kiss, eyes close and she returns it. When it's ended, she sighs, opens her eyes and the expression on her face is adoration as he gets a melting smile. Though his parents might suspect her feelings regarding their son, she turns to them and tells them with a touch of defiance, "I love Jethaniel."

This is, perhaps, not the most cautious move Jethaniel has ever made. Darsce may be having an influence on his behavior. Nevertheless, he considers it a reasonable maneuver. He has declared, with his prior statement, that he is thinking of the future. He declares, with this statement, his affection for Darsce. The combination of these two statements creates an implication that these concepts are, in fact, intertwined. He is not expecting it to pass unremarked. That is, in part, the point, one he is demonstrating by means of an unignorable and undeniable action. He also wishes to kiss her, but that desire he is capable of denying until a more appropriate moment. He is capable (though he does not wish to do so) of avoiding contact with her entirely - though his fingers are curved against her hand, the thumb tracing softly as his lips press to hers. It is, along the continuum of kisses, a relatively subtle one - which is to say, the involvement is of lips and nothing more. It is, however, moderately lingering, because that will assist it in being an effective statement, and also because Jethaniel wishes it to be so. When his lips do draw back, his eyes open to look at Darsce with a combination of affection and apology. He is aware he may have made the situation worse. He is aware he did not ask her first, and yet his smile for her is still a warm one before he too turns to look at his parents, his hand still warm against hers. He nods to her verbal statement, then adds his own. "And I love Darsce." His eyes glance to her with a question. Is this an appropriate time for their announcement? He is fairly certain it is not precisely the one scheduled, but he is aware he has somewhat violated the parameters of this social event, and some degree of adaptation may become necessary.
That glance to Jessa before the kiss will see an open-mouthed stare of disbelief. After? She's managed to shut her mouth, at least, but she's still staring. At her son. At Darsce. Back at her son. "That's not- it's hardly-" the point? But if it isn't, then what is? "Jethaniel, just because she-" Jessa's eyes dart to Darsce, and she stops herself. Barely. And probably only because Lianiel's reached out to put his hand on her arm, his own gaze turned from the younger pair to regard his wife. He doesn't say anything to her, but her gaze flits to him and then back to her son. "At the table." Because at least she can complain about that.
Erijeane's expression is a combination of approval (for the kiss) and wariness (for Jessa's reaction). Nereilse's eyes widen and look to Jessa for her response. Tolenar's back to staring. Ramodel ignores it, and Lariette… oh, Lariette watches curiously before piping up, "Are you gonna have a baby?" Because uncle Sulliam and aunt Viorena said that after they told everyone they were having another baby.

She might be? Hopefully Jethaniel won't come to regret Darsce's influence! Her thoughts can be nowhere as logical as Jethaniel's are throughout that kiss. In fact, hers are rather chaotic at the moment. From the few words Jessa has spoken since they've met including all of her facial expressions and body language, the ex-Iernian is cognizant that she doesn't meet his mother's standards, whatever they are. She can guess, though: Someone like Nereilse, perhaps. And so if being 'together' is this annoying to the woman, then the up-coming announcement is really going to tick her off. Darsce's expecting not only stiff resistance, but basically an explosion of temper, things to be thrown at her, hysterics, very messy tears, then pleading (with her son) and finally she will be physically thrown out of Cove Hold on her ear. Her own family upbringing has conditioned her to expect this response. It has not, however, prepared her for Jethaniel's firm patience with his mother. She is, however, half-cringing inside about what she anticipates will be his final reaction, bracing herself for a stony walking out from their midst. And this is his family; she doesn't want him to lose them because she knows how that feels. Been there, done that from the other side of being walked away from. Oddly, there's no fear that he'll be talked out of anything. He is a grown man, and while they've talked about being a slave, he certainly doesn't appear to be his mother's slave! And so when their eyes meet after that kiss, hers are warm, reassuring trusting and… a touch troubled. That is muted behind her predominant emotion, which is as she's declared, her love for him. She gives Jethaniel an almost-imperceptible nod for his unvoiced question. This is his family and how he tells them is fine with her, says the warmth that curves her smile, even if it is a touch nervous now. Jessa's half-formed comments - both of them - turns her attention to the woman. Her eyes contain an icy challenge and an invitation that says, 'do continue?' as she meets that darted look to her. But she refrains from verbalizing it. An argument at this point would derail Jethaniel's announcement and so she bites her tongue. Her color is red, there's no disguising that, but it's sunburn not anger or embarrassment. Should her complexion have been her normal ivory one, Lariette's piped up question wouldn't bring the slightest flush to it. Now, if her own father were to have asked? Hell, yes. But as it is, the question shatters her tension into a light, silvery laugh, genuinely amused. "Not yet," she says, with a saucy wink to the child. That's all, no girlish protests or stammering, nope. Choke on THAT Jessa.

That reaction is what Darsce is expecting, but not Jethaniel. Oh, stiff resistance is accurate enough - but things don't get thrown. Words are said. Judgments are made. Things are never, ever forgotten - not slights, oh no - but things don't get thrown. Broken, sometimes, but not because of being thrown. The hysterics… might happen, but that's not the direction things are going. (Not in front of the children.) The pleading is unlikely. He'll never hear the end of this - but in front of the guest, no. Of course, it's been made more difficult for Jessa by the fact that she's barely had any chance to argue with her son not in front of that guest. (It might be more accurate to characterize it as browbeating. It would also be accurate to characterize it as ineffectual… which also makes things more difficult for Jessa.) That's why she's said as much as she has, here at the dinner table. That, and the fact that it's not just Darsce she's unhappy with. Public shaming exists as an option, though Jessa hasn't crossed that line entirely yet. But she has too many lectures and not enough time - though she covered the basics, and so Jethaniel can guess what she means with the 'just because', and he frowns, eyes darkening and fingers tensing against Darsce's, but he is capable of not responding to it verbally… and chooses to do so. It is, as he informed his mother earlier, none of her business. (This is not a statement Jessa agrees with. Another contributing factor to the difficulties.) This is not the first thing Jethaniel has kept from his mother. As Darsce has observed, it is sometimes difficult to draw out his thoughts - though with Darsce, he tends to make more of an effort to reveal them. (Using the context of that song, this might be expressed as 'Open up your heart to me', or possibly 'Show me all you are'… but while Jethaniel is willing to make that song's offer to Darsce, he is not willing to make it to anyone else - and even with her, it's been turns for what was a private bit of wordplay regarding a jesting comment she made about his new firelizard to be revealed. He would. He is not. But… he would.) For Jessa, nothing of the sort is true, and this day has been one where not only is her son denying her, but - perhaps for the first time - she is both aware of and cares deeply about her lack of knowledge. Whether an increase in her knowledge will improve her mood is yet to be determined, but the attempt will be made. Perhaps the knowledge gained will, at some point, include the fact that Jethaniel has become a man, and is no longer the boy of ten who departed for Landing. He has not spent overly much time here, in the intervening decades. His visits and vacations during apprentice breaks have been relatively brief - a month or three at most, and then a return to Landing or wherever else his craft pursuits took him. Therein may be some explanation (if not justification) for his mother's difficulty in accepting the passage of time and its effects. Darsce's nod, small as it is, provides the information Jethaniel needs, and so he returns his gaze to his parents - only to pause at Lariette's question. His head turns, glancing to his niece. He's not embarrassed either - it is merely a question. True, it creates some implications, but they are not entirely illogical ones. There is, in fact, a chain of reasoning - even to the adult mind - which connects those statements, but in this particular case, Lariette is getting somewhat ahead of their plans. Darsce laughs and provides a sufficient answer to encapsulate this concept, so Jethaniel simply smiles and nods his confirmation. That interruption having been resolved easily and amicably, he returns to the next intended action. There is no ultimate goal - at least not for Jethaniel - but there are a series of events he intends to undertake with Darsce, and those events (some of them, at least) have an ordering. Insofar as that ordering is a construct of society, he is willing to question it, but when he finds the societal default is sensible, he is willing to follow it. In this case, there is good reason to provide this information now (or at least soon, but he does not expect a more advantangeous circumstance in the near future). Whatever Jessa's reaction now, it would be a far worse one if they waited until after a hypothetical elopement o inform her. (Furthermore, any wedding to which Jessa is not invited may be defined, at least by her, as an elopement.) As such, Jethaniel prepares to inform them. The bottles of wine still have not arrived. They are not essential. Jethaniel's eyes pass over his father before settling on his mother. He expects her to be the more difficult part of this announcement, and Jethaniel, when he becomes aware of problems, attempts to resolve them. Together, he said. A statement which is still accurate - Jethaniel's hand presses warmly to Darsce's - but which has been further defined in the intervening hours. This might be an occasion for a flowery speech. Jethaniel has not written one. He simply says, "We are getting married." It is a logical conclusion, given their statements of love.
Liessa darts an apologetic look toward Darsce for Lariette's question, a purse of lips and a half-shrug. Kids, huh? It's just directed at Darsce, not her brother (she's not worried about Jethaniel's reaction), and when Darsce laughs the question off it turns to a relieved smile of gratitude. Her attention returns to her kids - here, Lariette, have your plate back. Try eating? But (a point of Liessa's fingers) use your fork. Her attention is drawn back again by Jethaniel's announcement, looking first to her brother, then to Darsce. Her expression is part smile and part a questioning one, looking for confirmation. This is Jethaniel saying that. It never hurts to get a second opinion where her brother is concerned, even if (for once) he used simple, comprehensible words. Which might mean they have some hidden meaning? Because. Jethaniel.
Nereilse looks to Jessa to model her reaction, but Erijeane is quite sure of hers, grinning at the pair of them. "Congrats!" She used the short form so she could be sure to get it in before the storm. Because Erijeane is not her brother, but she knows a thing or two. Nereilse's eyes dart to her sister, then back to Jessa.
As for that matriarch… A frown meets Lariette's question, and her eyeing of Jethaniel says 'better not be' with no need for words. She's not entirely pleased by Darsce's answer, but then Jethaniel states his conclusion, and her attention is taken by her objections to his logical process. "What?" is her initial protest. This is not a very good objection, and may simply be a request for clarification - though that reading of it is challenged by the fact that she does not pause to receive such a clarification. "When were you going to tell us?" Once again, Jessa is asking a question whose answer is self-evident. Once again, she does not wait for it to be answered. "Jethaniel, we hadn't even met her before!" That one isn't a question. It is, however, an adequately phrased objection.
Lianiel hears Lariette's question with a snort, a shake of his head that ends up with him looking at Liessa - or maybe Tolenar, though the teen is leaning back in his chair to try to disassociate himself from things - then swings his head back to hear Jethaniel's announcement. He blinks. He looks to Darsce, then back to Jethaniel. He raises a single eyebrow. "Huh." (That isn't a sentence. It may not even be a word - it's somewhat closer to a grunt. Lianiel does not clarify.)

In Darsce's family storms were sudden, brief and usually forgotten - until the repetition became too much and then… distance seemed the answer - at least for the adults. Darsce is expecting such a storm, but the fact remains his mother's attitude towards her has been assimilated and since it occurred prior to any such storm, she doesn't expect it to change should there be one. The anticipation of such a storm is still unpleasant but this is a family dynamic with which she is unfamiliar and so Jethaniel's response to this is an unknown to her. She is observing him, quietly, and though he's always demonstrated control, patience and gentleness towards her - or anyone she's seen him interact with - she knows that no one can get under a person's skin like family can. So his continued calm has her marveling. She is more impressed than ever. The slow revelation to her of who Jethaniel is has been satisfying in the way mysteries are, as delving into a cryptic poem or song is and thereby finding treasure, hidden meanings others are unaware of. He would, and the declaration has moved her deeply, but she would not take advantage of him to abuse that devotion. Knowing he would will serve as a reminder to observe him more carefully than she might otherwise to be aware of his needs and guard his freedom of choice is he doesn't seem to exercise them. Darsce's smile includes Lariette's mother. It's okay, no offense taken. She well remembers her mother being mortified with her for various and sundry faux pas when she was a child. Her attention then returns to Jessa and Lianiel, her hand squeezes Jethaniel's back and… she holds her breath while he speaks. It isn't a speech. She isn't disappointed at all. Jessa's unpleased reaction isn't unexpected. But the implication that they've been sneaky about this begins a tightening in her stomach and her fingers tense in Jethaniel's hand. She takes a deep breath, throwing caution aside, "If how long is important, I've known for over two turns that Jethaniel is the only man I'll ever love," she says evenly and firmly. His tenderness with his tiny green Stardust stopped her stumbling flight from herself to be open with the man she saw. While it does not really answer the question, her impulse is to deflect Jessa's questions without seeming to, partially because hers in the beginning had been and partially because nothing she says is going to be acceptable anyway. She does side-glance at Erijeane and murmur her thanks, but it's Jethaniel to whom she is paying the majority of her attention.

Jethaniel is not unaffected. There's the frowns that keep making an appearance when he looks at things other than Darsce. The tension of his fingers that makes them slow when they shift against hers. At the moment, he might not characterize himself as patient; that is because he is aware of his own frustration, not because he permits it to have external manifestation. Not in any regard he can avoid, at least. (There's that control.) His mother's surprise is… perhaps not unexpected, but disappointing nonetheless. His head dips slightly, but as she continues, it lifts. The point was to tell her, not undergo recriminations for a failure to reveal something that… His fingers curl to Darsce's, and he takes in a deep breath. Such an inhalation might be a precursor to a speech - or at least speech, in the less formal sense - but in this case, it proves an action taken merely with the intent of steadying him. Darsce's words draw his attention to her, his eyes widening slightly in surprise. Two turns. The numbers, for anyone caring to calculate them, may appear interesting. Four turns they've known each other. Two turns of love. One turn they've been together. One month - ah, but that part hasn't been said aloud. The publicly available facts are still sufficient for interesting speculation. Jethaniel, as he possesses a more complete set of facts, is instead regarding Darsce with both surprise and love. He might have had the required information for such a deduction, and yet he… had not entirely reached such conclusions. This provides further evidence for his lack of social expertise, but then - his hand squeezes Darsce's - he does not require it. She informed him so, and has continued to demonstrate that fact. Even if he sometimes fail to understand her meaning, he continues trying. He will continue trying… and so with a fond smile for Darsce, he turns his gaze away from her once again, looking to his mother as the smile slips away. "You have met her now. We are getting married." For an ultimatum, it's very politely voiced. Jethaniel is not changing his mind.
As for Erijeane, well, she isn't expecting to have attention on her. Really, Darsce's murmur is almost more than she expected. That's not why she said it. Mostly, she said it as a reminder of the appropriate thing to say! Because she thought her mother might need it. Family? Why yes, they do know how to get to each other… and Erijeane didn't go off to Landing like Jethaniel, so she had more time to learn… other things.
Jessa isn't a mathematician, but she can order numbers from one to four. (Is there a significant event three years ago, to round out the set?) Darsce's deflection makes her frown, but it's to Jethaniel that she says, "And you didn't even tell me." It's almost plaintive. Her eldest son, and he never writes (most letters she sends him have a reply within a few weeks, even if it's sparser than she'd like) never comes to visit (his last trip here was within two turns), and… okay, he never did really talk to her, but he's gotten quieter and less comprehensible both. So, yes, she's blaming her son for not telling her, despite the challenges inherent for him in starting any such discussion with her. As for Darsce… after Jethaniel's repetition, there's a considering look for his chosen fiancee. "I didn't think weyrfolk… married."

Darsce can see that Jethaniel is affected, nevertheless he's patient enough to control his frustration to the extent he is not only maintaining level tones, he's polite to his mother; she might not be so patient were the situation reversed. She doesn't shriek when angry, but when backed into a corner, as she feels at the moment, she does tend to use sarcasm as a defense. Tempted, so tempted by the woman in front of her, she's biting hard on her impulse to give in to it and so when Erijeane congratulates them it is so very welcomed by her. The moment spent to thank her gives her the seconds needed to breathe, think and count to ten. Erijeane's words are doubly appreciated because the lack of other voices chiming in has not gone unnoticed. After her comment, Darsce's fingers squeeze Jethaniel's back and her mouth curls in a rueful half-grin to him as her bright sunred cheeks darken in a flush. Yeah, she's letting out her secrets here and she's aware that he's looking at her, but she keeps her eyes locked on Jessa's. "He didn't tell you because he didn't know," she says pertly and pointedly. "I didn't tell him until he told me his feelings.” Ummm… an event three turns ago to round out events? There was that Turnover celebration on the island when she spiked his drink? Not that she'll mention that! And pleaseplease don't ever find out about that morning a month ago…! "Dragonriders don't marry," she corrects, maintaining a carefully level voice. Level, but Jethaniel will hear the edge to it: she's nearing her limits here. "Some weyrfolk don't; I do." She draws a steadying breath in, "I will." But she won't tell Jessa why. Not even if she asks, says the determined set of her jaw.

For his own sake, Jethaniel is capable of calm. For Darsce's, he is less so. As such, his mother's complaint to him barely draws his attention - how could it, when he's looking at Darsce? - but the correction there, and Jessa's further comments, bring his attention back. "Mother," he says as he lifts his eyes to her, and the tone is one of reproach. "I told you." Twice. "We are getting married." Hence, by syllogism, Darsce's statement. A drink? Perhaps it would be useful to have one now. Jethaniel's once again wearing his kilt, and he could continue his explanations about clouds in articulation ever-so-careful because the alternative is to slur it… though this time, he would be unlikely to keep his hands to himself. Even here and now, his one hand has been given to Darsce's and shows no signs of leaving. "I assure you, we have both given this a great deal of thought." Despite the fact that the choice was declared this very afternoon. The thoughts have been happening for a while, but - not having external presence in the world - are more difficult to assign to specific temporal periods. "Shall we eat?" The food is getting cold. Furthermore, this conversation…
…is, according to Jessa, not over. "I see," she says primly to Darsce, and looks at her son like… well, like she wants to send him to his room, except he doesn't have a room here anymore. "I heard you the first time, Jethaniel." She smiles, lips pressed together. "I'm sure we'll have a great deal of planning to do."
Lianiel gives his head a shake, and looks up to Jethaniel. "Good luck." Dealing with his mother? Or with his wife-to-be? His father doesn't say, though he does glance to Darsce and give her a slight nod before turning his attention to his plate. It's getting cold.
From the end of the table, Liessa looks up (Ramodel's been dividing his mushrooms into categories. Not that he likes any of them, but… degrees of not-like might be important?) and offers, on the heels of her father's words, "Congratulations." Belated or not. Nereilse… doesn't even manage that, though she does wince and look up (Erijeane's expression is one of bland innocence) to give them a glance and a quick smile before glancing back to the displeased Jessa.

Still no congratulations forth-coming from the parentals? Not even insincere ones, which while not a surprise to Darsce at this point, is a glaring breech in societal manners, but she lets it pass un-remarked. She manages a small smile flashed to Lianel and then Liessa for their words, brushing over Nereilse to also include her, but she isn't quite trusting her voice not to tremble with the outrage she's feeling on Jethaniel's behalf so she is silent with her acknowledgement. She's careful not to allow Jessa to see it in her eyes when hers return front and center, however, there is one thing she needs to clarify - well two, but the one has already been made quite clear: their son is marrying her. The second, well, her plate has, as of yet, remained untouched. And it may remain so after she speaks next. For at Jessa's words of planning to do, Darsce's other hand lifts from her lap, one finger - her forefinger but don't push her! - with the overhead lights shimmering on the shaped and pink-lacquered nail calls into contradiction to her assumption - if that's what it is. "Your travel plans are your own to make. As for the rest of the wedding plans, Jethaniel and I will manage on our own." Very firmly said and when she's finished, she turns to smile at Jethaniel, shifts the fingers of her hand to lace them with his and lifts her fork with the other. Her beloved has bidden them eat and so she will even though she has no appetite left. After all that, she's not letting go so their intertwined fingers will remain in plain view while they eat, unless Jethaniel minds the awkward and needs that hand back to eat. Drinks? Maybe with their moods it's best that wine from Xanadu didn't make it. They don't want a Darsce-tongue without that careful - and inexpert - control.

So far as Lianiel's concerned, that 'good luck' probably counts as congratulatory. Jethaniel certainly reads it so, inclining his head to his father's words. His mother… is another matter. She has given no congratulations. She does not seem to intend to do so. How often did she object to Jethaniel's manners, when he was growing up? And yet, at present, she seems to be the one failing to follow the rules of society - even having been given a reminder in the form of Erijeane's demonstration, and, more recently, Liessa's. It is an interesting inversion, and yet Jethaniel finds his own perspective rather too entwined with the situation to properly appreciate it analytically. Jessa's rules of etiquette might include that Jethaniel is supposed to smile back to her, even if as falsely as she is doing to them, but if he is aware of that, he chooses to ignore it. When Darsce makes her response with lifted finger (he is aware she could have made the situation more awkward with her choice thereof. He is glad she did not, though he would not, perhaps, have objected if she did) he turns to look at her, and for her, he does have a smile as he nods. "Indeed we will," he agrees, looking to her as he says it instead of across the table. The smile he gives Darsce is a small one, for it's having to struggle with unhappiness and apology for room and fight past the control that's attempting to provide a mask of calm, but it's quite genuine. His fingers twine with hers, and he has no desire whatsoever to remove them. He can eat with his other hand, insofar as he still wishes to eat. He can, at the very least, lift a fork to establish the presumption of dinner and provide a context in which conversation (or at least certain topics thereof) may be deferred. If his niece of five turns sitting next to him currently has better control over the implement than he does, Jethaniel does not mind. He is with Darsce.
Jessa had an assumption, yes. Two of them, in fact, and Darsce disrupts both. The wedding (if she couldn't prevent it) was to happen at Cove Hold, with The Family… and Jessa was to take a major role in coordinating it. Her lips press together more firmly, making the appearance of a smile significantly less believable and more likely to be assessed as a grimace. "Well." She eyes her son. "We'll discuss it later." Does she mean the plans, or the wedding itself? Both, probably. Jessa has a great many things to say.

Had Darsce been holding a wine goblet, she might have held it in such a way that the subtle flipping off could be done regardless disguised as seemingly inadvertently, just to dispel her inner tension. As it is, she has no outlet. The events of the day, the over-exposure to the sun and the time difference have nibbled away at both her self-control and her physical endurance. She's been ignoring her increasing discomfort for some time now, but the rising nausea and her ebbing strength paired with her increasing awareness of Jethaniel's unhappiness finally cause her patience to snap. It's done very quietly. Perhaps only Jethaniel will know it's happened. While he might just stonewall his mother, she is incapable of the expertise he's developed and so she takes the proverbial bull by the horns. Calmly she sets her fork down. This time there is no sweet smile to his mother as she regards Jessa levelly. "Actually, we won't," she says with and almost-casual crisp finality about further discussion. "You may discuss your transport, if you wish. Would you prefer dragon or ship? The wedding will take place next summer, so sea travel will be pleasant. On the other hand, dragons are faster and we have plenty of those." That wine could arrive any time. Can Jethaniel speak truth to his parents in a toast that will smooth over this evening? Heh, because all she can think to do at this point is thank them for their time between the sheets that produced him for her. And don't think she isn't tempted to say it!

Jethaniel certainly does intend to be very polite when he tells his mother he doesn't want to hear about it, yes. He is, however, having some difficulty in coming up with suitable words to express that sentiment without including other sentiments which (while true) he does not wish to express at this time. Or, rather, which he does wish to express, but does not wish the future consquences of having expressed. This continues to be his family. So, when Jessa speaks, his face goes very, very still as he searches for the right words. He does not discover them. As Darsce speaks, his thumb brushes along the side of her hand. It's a caress, not any sort of attempt to hold her back. Why should he? She is, as usual, correct, and he nods with her analysis of the situation, grey eyes on his mother. "Should you wish a dragon for transport, I can help you arrange it." Because she is his mother. "There is nothing else for us to discuss." Which may be slightly misleading, as there are in fact many alternative topics. He could discuss many of the. However, insofar as the wedding is concerned Jethaniel and Darsce have a great many things to discuss, but in all other construals of 'we', there is nothing. Specifically, in the context of the larger group of 'us' at the dinner table - or in the context of Jethaniel and his mother - there is nothing (at least not related to the wedding) that will be discussed. The matter is not open to debate; any attempts at it will be either one-sided or undergo a precipitous reduction in politeness. He is done here, and his glance to the door is not related to a desire to check on the progress of that wine. Besides, it is unlikely he could construct a toast of sufficient eloquence unless he can find words capable of selectively rewriting time already experienced (or possibly just memories thereof), and while Jethaniel would not characterize this as necessarily impossible, he does find it highly improbable.
Jessa has her pressed-lip smile for Darsce's denial, but she lifts a hand, ready to dismiss it with a flick of her fingers and some sort of comment. Perhaps a reminder that she's Jethaniel's mother, and perhaps weyrfolk simply don't understand family relationships? The words are nearly on her lips when Jethaniel speaks his, and for a moment, her expression to him is surprised and faintly betrayed before it closes, lips pushed together firmly as she makes that finger-flicked gesture. "I doubt that will be needed," she says, and there's a cold glance to Darsce before she lifts her fork. "Now then, if we're all quite done? Dinner is getting cold."
Outside, perhaps too quiet to be heard given the distance, is the wingbeat of a dragon landing. There was a request for drinks, was there not? For purposes of assisting in expressing sentiment. Did the category of sentiment ever get defined?

It would be so very unfortunate for Jessa to express that sentiment, so it's a very good thing Jethaniel's words prevent his mother from saying those words about weyrfolk and their families. Darsce’s fingers are already tense in his, but at his words they flex slightly in silent thanks for his support. Jessa's last question and implication is, however the last straw for her. Oh, so she's the one who has been holding dinner up?! Iceblue eyes flick the length of the table - in both directions. Is no one eating? Lianel is! The children are! Perhaps others? Back to Jessa, her slim brows lift incredulously. Seriously?! But no, she says nothing. She can't even give the one sharp nod she intends to and eat her dinner in silence like a lady and feign politeness. She tries. Oh she tries for Jethaniel's sake, but the hypocrisy is simply too much. She starts sniggering, then laughing. And can't stop. All that tension had to go somewhere? Jethaniel is going to have to take charge because Darsce? Cannot think. Cannot eat. The laughter will turn to tears later, but out of sight from Jessa.

Under many circumstances, Darsce's laughter would make Jethaniel smile. This is, he discovers, an exception. His frown comes from Jessa's words, but as Darsce begins that helpless laughter he turns his head to her, his gaze concerned before his face goes entirely blank - though his fingers lace more firmly with hers. Jethaniel sets his fork down and looks up to his parents… or, more accurately, to Lianiel. "Excuse us," he says - it is a statement, not a question - and pushes his chair back as he rises to his feet, hand still linked with Darsce's and drawing her with him. Jethaniel is taking charge, and he has determined that the appropriate course of action to resolve this situation is to depart it. He has spent meals here in silence. He is, however, an adult, and while he appreciates - oh, how he appreciates! - Darsce's willingness to try, he cannot ask her further. He has already asked too much. Conveniently enough, it is at approximately this moment that the transport rider appears in the doorway, a pair of wine bottles in hands. They would have been present in time for dessert. That is, however, not the convenience which Jethaniel notes; he is more interested in the fact that this makes a reasonable excuse for their departure. "Our ride is here." He could trivially ask the Comet rider to wait. The rider is, in fact, expecting to do so, and blinks in surprise at discovering the change in plans as Jethaniel says, "We must depart." This is true, in a sense. Jethaniel requires that they leave, because he is not willing to remain here any longer. He looks to his mother, and entirely fails to politely thank her for the visit. He is aware that would be an appropriate action for the circumstance. He does not do it. He does, however, look to Liessa and say, "Thank you for dinner." Though it's barely been touched. Nevertheless, Jethaniel thanks his sister. If his mother wishes to arrogate that gratitude, she may. He is no longer concerned with that. A glance to Erijeane, during which he says nothing but simply nods, and then he returns his full attention to Darsce, guiding her out the door. The transport rider is confused, but… he knows who he's here for, so he turns around, wine bottles still in hand, to follow them. Erijeane half-smiles to her brother and Darsce before they go. She waves. Nobody else does. Maybe they're stunned? Jessa certainly is, though she recovers enough for a "Well!" before they're quite out of earshot.

Darsce is aware that she hasn't helped a delicate situation, has in, fact, made it worse. She did warn Thea - and Jethaniel afterwards - that she wasn't adequate for this sort of thing. Oh, if her heart and emotions weren't involved, she could have done that silent meal-taking and perhaps even have engaged in repartee that might suffice to draw a thin veneer of civility over this farce of a congenial meal. She makes no protest as Jethaniel draws her to her feet. She's still laughing - so hard that all she can do is wave to the family seated at the table in a vague sort of thanks - a wave that does not intend to thank Jessa, save for the last bit of tipping her into the absurd. Later? Perhaps a hand-written note of thanks couched in very formal phrases will arrive in Cove Hold. But right now? Hell, no. She can't form coherent words to express… well - anything! But she hasn't forgotten her promise to Lariette. So before she steps away from the table, she reaches into her pocket and withdraws a bottle of peachy-pink nail polish and extends it to Erijeane, managing to gasp out, "This is for Lariette," amidst her cackled mirth. The child is likely aware and listening, so hopefully she will know Darsce has kept her earlier promise. She then departs the hold with Jethaniel, laughing until they are well out of earshot before she starts cry-laughing, curls into a cling-hug and apologizes over and over. The poor delivering rider? Forgotten. His wine delivery? Might be needed by Jethaniel and Darsce upon reaching Xanadu. Faranth knows she could use a drink or seven. Can she have cold cloths and numbweed now? And more tangling? And wine?

Erijeane accepts the bottle of nail polish with a curious arch of brows followed by a nod. "Sure." She glances down to Lariette, and shows her the bottle before tucking it away for later with a glance to Liessa that says as much. They'll deal with it. Probably while they're answering the child's questions, because Lariette has stopped eating to watch. Erijeane watches Jethaniel and Darsce leave, with a "Seeya, dragon," that doesn't even quite make it to the level of whisper.
Jethaniel waits for Darsce as she makes the gift of nail polish, face still stony - though his hand remains twined with hers. He says nothing more, not until they've departed the room. He, at least, will find it unavoidable to write a letter at some point. He will not ask Darsce to do so. He is silent as they walk down the path toward the dragon-landing clearing, the rider trailing along. Jethaniel has not forgotten his presence, but finds it irrelevant, except insofar as it will permit their full and complete departure. This fact is important. Otherwise, it does not matter. Jethaniel is intent on reaching the dragon, and from there Xanadu, but when Darsce turns toward him, he stops, putting his arm carefully around her middle and lowering his head over hers, shaking it slowly as he closes his eyes. Apologies? Oh, yes. "I am very sorry," he murmurs to her, and for a moment, he simply holds her. "We should go home." To Xanadu. The rider's waiting, with bottles that can be tucked back into their carrier for a return trip. Perhaps, when they get there, Jethaniel can drink a toast to Darsce. The wine will be nicely chilled by the trips Between.

Those apologies of Darsce's? Tumble out in an outpouring of incoherency for failing to be proper and polite. For laughing. For not letting Jessa just do what she'd like to do and control every aspect of Jethaniel's life - if not his bride's - and at the very least their wedding. She doesn't care about the ceremony details, she just wants to be with him like that, which is a completely different like that than that other morning like that. Because so few on Pern do. Because it's rare and precious and means so very much to her to promise that forever - to him. And that if she'd felt accepted and respected by Jessa she'd have been pleased to hand over the whole thing to her because it would have been meaningful to Jessa too, but that because she knows Jessa doesn't think she's good enough for her son, then she couldn't let his mother direct something so meaningful for them. Does that make sense? Please forgive her and she doesn't hate his mother and someday somehow she'll find a way… And all of it comes while sob-laughing into his neck while she clings to him. It's a big emo-fest is what it is. Poor, poor Jethaniel. Soooo much estrogen, sooo little time!

If Darsce's words were expressed in neat coherent sentences, Jethaniel might understand. As it is… he listens to words. To laughter. To sobs. He sometimes has difficulty distinguishing these three things from each other, but he listens nevertheless. He catches fragments of those broken sentences. Pieces that he tries to assemble into some coherent explanation. He is only partially successful. He understands what it feels like to fail socially, though he shakes his head in a denial that Darsce has done so - a somewhat counterfactual one, but a denial nonetheless. He wishes the wedding to be theirs. He has no other significant desiderata… but that one suffices to make it clear that his mother's plans would be inadequate. They would not be designed with Darsce in mind, merely societal forms and his mother's concept of what Jethaniel should want - and Jethaniel has no personal requirement for those societal forms. He has made promises; he will make more. Those, he takes seriously, but the rest… he will do because it pleases Darsce. Because it is important to him that they be together, regardless of the form, and the form she desires is marriage. He kisses at the top of her head, his eyes closed tightly and his arms gentle around her. Forgive her? "Of course. I am not angry with you." On her behalf? Yes. There's a reason his hands are not moving, though his arms are around her. He's holding on to control as well as Darsce, and the effort is made both easier and harder by being here alone with her. At first the solitude is partial, the ignored Comet rider following them, but at some point during the sobbing he slips ahead to stow the winebottles and check his straps (and not watch).

There's a point where Darsce laugh-sobs herself into silence save for one more apology to Jethaniel for being so emotional. Her arms reluctantly release him so she can delve into one of her pockets and dry her tears with her kerchief. "Let's go home?" is her plea. Her jacket has been brought - or it's the same rider that transported them here so her things for *Between* have been tucked into his harness bag - and she shrugs it on with a soft hissing for the pain of contact with sunburn, boots exchanged for sandals and she is aboard. For the short hop back to Xanadu she half-turns back to wrap arms around Jethaniel and tuck her head into his shoulder. *Between* does her sunburn no favors, even if the bite of searing cold cools the heat during the passage, so when they touch down into Xanadu's dark-before-dawn she has not much to say save a sighed, "Where's the numbweed?" He can dump her in the infirmary if he wishes. She'd rather be with him but at this point? She's beyond arguing.

That final apology gets Darsce another kiss for her hair, but Jethaniel's only words are for the request to return to Xanadu. "Let us." He already suggested it. Now, Darsce wishes it, and so they make the return trip. The Comet rider is silent - see the world, they said! Meet interesting people! Hah! - and so is Jethaniel. Once settled on the dragon, he puts his arms around Darsce and keeps them there for the trip. He likes flying even less, in the dark. He can't see when the dragon's about to lift, can't see the signal for when Between is coming. He's already tense, and yet he doesn't reach for the straps… though Darsce may feel him twitch, if she's in any state to notice. Once on the ground in Xanadu, he nods to her request. The numbweed is located in the infirmary, which means there's a stop there, but Jethaniel is not about to leave her there. Nor even stay with her, because he's seen Darsce's opinion of being in infirmaries - so once he's obtained a jar of that numbweed (minor requisitions are easy, when you're the Steward. The apprentice doesn't even ask questions), he takes Darsce back to his room. Hers is shared with Halimeda. He does not wish to answer questions. He does wish to help apply numbweed and cold cloths to that sunburn. So Jethaniel will, and whether he answers any questions will depend on whether Darsce asks them.

The one request Darsce would make ask goes unsaid because she hurts too much to ask it. Though when the numbweed kicks in, her arms will open with a silent offer to tangle up with him while they both absorb comfort from the other for the events of that day. Later there may be questions. But for now? Just with the tangling. And the sleeping. When they awake? Well, there may be other things to do. The sunburn will have muted. Their restday didn't technically begin until noon the day before so they're not expected until after lunch right? That leaves time for… stuff.

That silent offer is accepted gladly, even if there's very little smile to accompany Jethaniel's arms around Darsce. Not a complete lack thereof, but… Jethaniel is quiet and sober, tonight. (The wine was forgotten. Maybe it'll be delivered to his office, once the Comet rider realizes he still has it) Despite the lack of words, Jethaniel presses close against Darsce, and listens to the sound of her breathing - if not her voice - until he falls asleep, tangled up with her with his fingers paused halfway along a caress of her hair. Perhaps, in the morning, there will be questions - or things other than questions. For tonight, Jethaniel and Darsce sleep together in the literal sense.


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