Positional Dynamics

Xanadu Weyr - Journeyman Jethaniel's Quarters

The stone of this cavern dwelling has been made comfortable, with rugs to cover the floor and hangings on the walls. Comfortable, but hardly stylish; the hangings seem to be a combination of faded remnants from the storerooms and apprenticework that wasn't up to standards. They still keep out the chill well enough, and apparently, that's what matters.
The room is lit from overhead with a soft glow - many small lights laid out in a pattern of the night sky. They're adjustable in brightness; from mere faint sparks for sleeping with, to a mid-morning shine suitable for many tasks.
Many tasks; but not all of them. There's also a pair of swivel lamps, mounted to a wooden workbench that juts out into the middle of the room. The lamps are adjustable to bring the light precisely where it's needed and cut down on annoying shadows.
There's not space on the bench - or in this room - for any major projects, but there's a never-ending series of minor ones, whether it's fixing the stars above when they burn out or else optimizing the small space heater tucked beneath his desk to keep his feet warm. One way or another, there always seems to be something there, its parts spread out across the scratched white plastic sheet of non-conductive surface. Not to mention the tools - a set of jeweler's magnifying lenses and tools for fine-work, scaling up through the wrenches and screwdrivers for medium work, tucked in a toolchest beside the workbench - or else in the worn canvas bag used for bringing the right tools for the job, to the job.
Sharing a chair with that workbench is a small desk. The desk is up against the wall, making an L shape with the workbench. Atop it is a computer terminal and a few books, along with a stack of notebooks that look well-thumbed… and a pile of paperwork that looks barely touched.
Tucked in the back corner, there's a bed. It's got plain white sheets (smudged with grease), and a navy blue blanket. It, too, is comfortable, and it never seems to be made.

Darsce's sundress is draped over a chair back with her jacket, her sandals stuffed in the pockets and her boots kicked somewhere underneath. Unless she's been loaned a shirt, she's wearing nothing but numbweed. And so she's tangled in the sheets - in his arms - however they fell asleep, unless Jethaniel moved. She usually sleeps like a rock, though and he could have shifted her, rolled her off to one side and she wouldn't have been aware, she's that deep a sleeper. That isn't to say it hasn't been troubled sleep, however. Her brows twitched intermittently and now and then a sound halfway between a murmur and a moan has been uttered. Not… continually, mind, so hopefully she didn't keep him awake all night. Overhead the dim starpoints shed a faint glow. The time must be somewhere after breakfast. For the past hour, sounds of journeymen making their way to their morning duties out there in the hall, muted by the walls and doors that they are, have quieted. Not that Darsce heard them. It may be the silence that awakens her. Or her new adjustment to schedule. Or the numbweed has worn off, whatever. She emerges from sleep slowly, unmoving save to draw a deeper breath of wakefulness.

If Darsce had asked for a shirt, Jethaniel would have given her one, and yet in the absence of that request… the touch of her against him was something he wanted. His own clothing's likewise absent, tossed vaguely where it belongs - though his shirt is hanging over the side of the hamper as, hopefully, a reminder that it needs to be fixed. That repair is, however, unimportant to Jethaniel. Important was to hold Darsce. He did not intentionally wear numbweed, and yet there are portions of his arms that lacked feeling through the night due to their proximity. Jethaniel is likely responsible for much of the twisting those sheets have undergone. His position changed in the night a number of times. A restless roll to his back or a stretch of his leg, motions of tossing and turning that discovered interruption in the form of Darsce's body. Sometimes that half-woke him, enough so that he became conscious of her presence and his hand traced a partial caress before he slept again. Sometimes he simply responded to it entirely in his sleep, rolling back toward her to curve his body close and drape that leg over hers. That's the position he's in now, with early morning come and gone. For a while, Stardust came and slept on the foot of the bed. The normal waking hour was greeted by her chirp, but Jethaniel's incoherently muttered complaint decided the firelizard to go seek her own breakfast. She knows who can be cajoled with a sweet chirrup or three. So, as Darsce comes to wakefulness, she and Jethaniel are alone, his body tangled around hers and his eyes shut. He's not entirely asleep, in that in-between state where he's simply not sure if he wishes to be awake. There's a nagging sense of unpleasant reality, and a warm pleasure of now that, yet somnolent, he basks in.

Ah no. Darsce, heh, did not ask for a shirt. All she asked for was numbweed and tangling, sadly in that order. When the sundress came off all she could do was thank Faranth for the person who invented zippers, bless the archives that revived the use of them and sigh with relief that hers reached from the back of her neck to below the waistline of the garment. She had very little to say - maybe she said too much already? - in the wake of her tumbled and tearful apology back at Cove Hold. She did, however express gratitude when she'd eased herself to lie prone upon Jethaniel's bed and the cool numbweed was applied with both murmured thanks and the opening of her arms afterwards to curl close with him, both drawing comfort and hopefully giving it as well after the past experience of the day. Are they traumatized? Or is it something else? She didn't dare ask from the glimpses of somber she'd caught from him last night. While sleeping, any movement served only to draw a sigh of contentment without fully wakening - or moving. Rock-sleep that's Darsce! Now as she semi-awakens, the events vaguely re-emerge and she winces, even while not fully alert and she's seeking to burrow closer to ward them off. To hide from her failure and into the sanctuary he is for her.

While the comfort of the numbweed he applied was one specific to Darsce, the tangle of arms and press of bodies was a comfort to Jethaniel as well - something besides his thoughts (and memories) to focus on. Something he wanted, enough to not ask permission beyond Darsce's silent offer - but then, Jethaniel was also quiet in the time before sleep. Now that time has come and gone, and in his half-sleep he feels a motion that was absent through the night. Darsce's first motion gets a murmur from him, wordless but vaguely interrogative in tone, and her press against him makes him respond, unthinking, with a tightening of his arms around her as his eyes begin the slow process of drifting open.

"It doesn't hurt," mumbles Darsce to that wordless murmured query - guessing at the meaning, but assuming that's what was last predominate on his mind. Her sunburn is a little sore to the touch, but more like a dull bruise-pain and only when pressed. She can bear that. Gone is the heat, the stinging tingle that results when her skin is touched. The color of her sunburn will be the same, but the healing process has begun, already. Skin is amazing stuff! So many nerve endings, nourished by a complex network of blood vessels, making the rejuvenation efficient. And so there is no hiss of pain from her, though there is an intake of breath that accompanies her steeling of herself at the tightening of arms. Some may be due to reflexes, the rest of it though, that's due to recollection emerging to trouble her.

Darsce's guess of Jethaniel's meaning is at least as accurate as his own. Her words are, however, reassuring ones. Even with them, his arms loosen slightly as the return of full consciousness (or at least more of it) reminds him of her state. The burn, caused by too much time in the sun at… Cove Hold. The tropical climate is caused by the equatorial proximity which means Rukbat's rays are less dispersed. This is the cause for the warmth which so many find pleasant, and why it has established a reputation as a retirement and vacation hold. That is, however, not the most significant fact about it for Jethaniel. Darsce's sunburn may be traced to spending too long in the sun at Cove Hold. Her presence there may be traced to Jethaniel. That is another reason for the loosening of his arms, for it was at his suggestion that they went there. His eyes, opened enough to see her golden hair in the pale light of his artificial stars, press closed again even as he lowers his head toward hers. Despite the shut eyes, Jethaniel is awake, and though his arms loosen (perhaps to permit Darsce to depart?) he himself does not move away. He does not wish to. (And yet he remembers yesterday, brought about by his wishes. His eyes press firmer shut.)

Because she just reassured him about the sunburn, Darsce is surprised by the loosening of those arms about her and so lifts her head from that pillow they share in time to see Jethaniel's eyes flick shut and the lids clench soon after. This is her typical reaction to morning, even with her new schedule, so she assumes that's what it is. Her head flops back down beside his and she wriggles in to twine closer. Tangled. She wanted this. She breathes a sigh, pleased to drowse back off in his arms. So why is there an uneasy feeling niggling at the edges of her mind? She is a master of pushing unwanted thoughts away and yet, this foreboding persists. Something is wrong. There was… oh yes family visit… Jessa… dinner… disaster. With the weeping and gnashing of teeth afterwards. And then the frowny-faced solemnity of… "Jethaniel?" It's very quietly asked because if he's gone back to sleep she won't wake him.

Jethaniel wants this too. As Darsce presses closer against him, there's a slight easing of those scrunched eyelids. One of his hands moves, a brief brush of his fingertips against Darsce's skin before he stops them. He wants this, and he is glad that Darsce's motion indicates her own desire for it, because if it were his desire alone… but Darsce presses herself close to him, and that comforts Jethaniel. He is not asleep, though there is still a small delay before his eyes open once again. He regards Darsce, and his lips curve slightly in a smile for that sight, though his eyes hold apologies yet unsaid. He apologized last night. It is hardly possible he could have apologized enough. Nevertheless, Darsce is still here with him. She still wants him. Jethaniel swallows, wetting a throat dried by heat. He also spent hours in the sun yesterday, and though he received fewer consequences than Darsce, he also drank less afterward - perhaps because he lacked the obvious indications of those consequences. His voice is low, though perhaps still louder than hers. "Yes?"

That brush of fingers is barely felt due to the residual numbweed, and yet it draws a shiver that curls her in closer to him. Along with the lingering heat of her skin is the feeling of being chilled. He's warm. And he feels very good. Darsce has many questions. But the most pressing one on her mind after her laughter at the dinner table last night is, "Are you… disappointed with me?" It's tentatively asked, whereas before Darsce would never have been hesitant. But this she must know. Because she's sure he's ashamed of her and withdrawing because she's so inappropriate. Though if she were to think clearly, she'd remember that she's never let impropriety dictate her behavior around him in the past. "Or… have you changed your mind after…" After she laughed in his mother's face. In front of the entire family. She cringes just thinking about it.

The question takes Jethaniel by surprise. There's a widening of his eyes, and his hand starts moving again. It is a misapprehension to claim they are doing so of their own volition; they are controlled by electrical impulses following nerves running from his brain. It is, however, true that he did not plan the motion, and that it commences at the same time as his surprise. It could be modeled as a circuit that was being suppressed and is now functioning because the distraction caused the suppression to be removed. That model would be inaccurate in most cases, but in the one where Jethaniel's fingers trace down along Darsce's spine, it would suffice. They stop as she speaks again, and Jethaniel shakes his head. "No." It answers both, but does not suffice. Jethaniel finds it necessary to reiterate. "I am not. I have not." He does not want meek. He wants, "Darsce. I… am sorry. I did not think… did not expect…" Perhaps he should have. It is his family. If anyone should be qualified to assess them, it is Jethaniel, and yet he is evidently as inexpert at that as in so many other domains.

Damn the numbweed - damn the sunburn that requires her skin be desensitized! Darsce rails at her own stupidity for not seeking shade sooner. Though when fingers travel her spine it is where her dress prevented sunburn and there is the delicious tickle she craves. She cannot allow a smile, however until she knows his answer and with his assurance there is a sigh that is almost a sob as she presses her face into the spot between his bare shoulder and his neck. "I'm glad, I-" His voice continues and she listens. The trailing off has her waiting and when he doesn't, she lifts her head to peer down at him in the dim light. She waits, but nothing more is said and so lowers her face to his, "Please don't." The plea is half-articulated against his lips. False guilt can be as weighty as the deserved type. Both are too heavy to carry for long. She knows this.

Jethaniel breathes in as Darsce buries her head against him, his hands moving once again, trailing along her bare skin as they adjust to a more suitable position for holding her. Not that the previous one would not still be sufficient, but apparently Jethaniel intends to seek optimality. Darsce is glad; so is he. The press of her body against his is both a reason for that emotion and - more importantly - a confirmation of the other reason why he is glad. When she looks to him, his gaze is troubled, that guilt obvious enough, mingled with apologies and lingering uncertainty - though he's at least regained enough of that certainty to let him hold her. His head tilts up, brushing his lips to hers softly - a mere moment's touch. Don't, she says, and yet he can feel her pressing close to him, and so he acts first before asking for clarification. His lips touch to hers, then draw away. Clarification? He'll give his own, first. "I love you. I am going to marry you." Regardless of the opinion of his family, or anyone else - save for one. "…if you still want that."

Darsce lifts her head, baffled at Jethaniel's withdrawal, but his words forestall the question that rises to her lips. "I do," she manages, still puzzled and so the words are breathless. She swallows, repeats them more firmly, "I haven't changed my mind. No one is can stop me from loving you." Not even his mother, although her questions press for answers. "What is up with you mother?" The tone is infinitely curious, objective and not meant as a criticism of the woman. She is after all, his mother. She clarifies her own question, "Not… her feelings about me. That's… " A common attitude? She tries again, "Some people don't approve of dragonfolk." She might as well paint herself as one because even thought she isn't dragonrider, she bears guilt by association being the daughter of two riders. She's well-used to the 'taint'. "Your mother and you," she says of her question. What was up with that?

Jethaniel smiles in relief, and he nods to Darsce's assent. She can feel him relax, an easing of the tension in his arms around her - though not a loosening of them. They are merely more comfortable against her - draped, instead of being held in a tenuous equilibrium. His lips brush her cheek, to not interfere with her words. Not even her question, though it makes his head lower, his eyes growing troubled by the reminder as he frowns. His mother's feelings about Darsce are certainly frownworthy, as are their presumed origin. Jethaniel has never found issue with dragonriders - as individuals, they have flaws, certainly, but no more so than any other person in his experience - and he does not like the caricatured form some holders (notably, his mother) appear to employ as reference, though he is aware of it. His eyes are downcast, not looking at Darsce's, and as she continues to clarify, they shut. "My mother…" He swallows, and opens his eyes once again. "She wished to make implications about why I was interested in you." Jethaniel's expression thereof is likely far, far more subtle than Jessa was in expressing this to him. "She did not consider it… appropriate."

Darsce has resumed breathing once more and though her expression remains a touch strained it eases somewhat as his lips brush her cheek. His mother's… attitude for lack of a better definition, is something that has been weighing heavy on her mind ever since- His answer at first confuses her. Her mouth opens and she draws a breath in to say that's not what she meant, but his answer redirects her. She'll get back to her original question later. For now, though, she's curious. He's distressed, she can see that and so she eases the elbow she's propped herself up with to lie back beside him. Lightly, "Oh did she not? And what were those?" She could list them but perhaps she'll learn a new one.

Jethaniel's gaze follows Darsce as she withdraws. He is unwilling to have his hand depart from her, and so instead it follows - the curve of her ribcage, coming around to rest lightly against the front, just above her abdomen and below what might be an implication. His eyes drift down, lowered with his head, and he observes the position of his hand. He does not move his hand, but he observes it for a long moment before lifting his head once again. Perhaps his ears had slightly too much exposure to the sun? Regardless of their coloration, his eyes are still grey as they seek for Darsce's. She could likely list a wide variety of terms Jessa would find applicable, yes. Jethaniel has more difficulty in doing so. "I believe… she considered me motivated to an unacceptable degree by your, ah, physical attractiveness and affection…"

Darsce has no problems with Jethaniel's hand nor where his eyes travel. She's not purposely trying to provoke him or give him a better view as her opposite arm lifts to rest above her head on that pillow they are once more sharing. No, she has another goal in mind entirely and that is soon felt as her fingertips begin choosing strands of his hair and slipping through them idly as she listens to him. Her brow knits, puzzled by the vague answer. Heh, his mother thinks she's attractive. "That's sweet of her!" drawls Darsce, "Though what um, exactly does she mean by 'to an unacceptable degree'?" Why's her mind going to metallic tape? No reason, no reason at all.

The view is nevertheless a pleasant one. Jethaniel's hand remains approximately where it is, the fingers moving independently of each other in small caresses, tracing against skin and then drifting to a stop such that there is frequently one in motion but seldom more than that. He tilts his head toward Darsce's fingers as they begin to brush his hair, though his mother's alleged sweetness makes his gaze lower. He is not quite capable of a frown, at this precise moment, and yet. "…she did not use those words," he clarifies. Jessa's words were significantly more blunt; Jethaniel is the one using implication and subtlety, and even that he finds difficult. "She simply… believed me to be behaving improperly, regarding you." In relation to Darsce's physical attractiveness and affection. Cove Hold is a traditional place. The standards for vacationers are one thing - questions about relationship status can be easily averted by marks. So can eyes. Jessa is well used to looking the other way, but that's for vacationers. For her own family, she has different standards. Old-fashioned standards, wherein old is defined as a period located somewhere between the time of the Ancients and the present.

Darsce's fingers continue playing with Jethaniel's hair while she thinks about this. Clearly he's uncomfortable with the wording his mother used and she isn't going to make him repeat it. She's got an unpleasant enough feeling left over from that visit to remark with a smirk into that faint blue glow, "She should see us now!" Smirksmirksmirk. Flip flip, go those nicely-feathered ends of his hair as her fingertips separate them. Okay holders. Some of them can be… reserved. Cove Hold is her place, Darsce can respect that. "So… no public lounging (tangling) on the chaise. Is she… alright with the hand-holding because I got the feeling she wasn't pleased with that either. Or is there something else she doesn't like?" About them being together.

"I would prefer she did not." Jethaniel is all seriousness for a moment, but then he manages a small smile in answer to Darsce's obvious tease. He takes in a breath, and lets it out slowly, his hand moving to follow the curve of her ribcage. He is silent for a moment, neither confirming nor denying Darsce's impressions, and when he does speak, his voice is soft. "I… do not entirely understand it. She was unhappy with me because she thought you were… merely someone I was attracted to." Physically. "And yet, when we informed them otherwise…" Perhaps Jessa didn't believe it?

Darsce laughs quietly, "Neither do I." His mother would probably go apoplectic. Her ribs expand and contract under his hand with the breath she draws, needed for her next question. Jethaniel's comment has brought her back to her first intended question, but first, an observation, "Your mother, seems a bit controlling." She turns her head and flicks a look at him in the dim light. "Has she always been like that?" Mothers… they do that when their children are very young - not that Darsce's really did a whole lot of it, but she knows enough that it is actually good parenting to do some of that. It usually tapers off as they gain responsibility and mature, however! Jethaniel is…gee, she's never thought to ask! "How old are you?"

Jethaniel does not wish to discover his mother's reactions, though he smiles slightly to the comment concerning them. Darsce's reactions, on the other hand, he is quite intrigued to discover - though the motion of his fingers is a slow one, the touch light as he keeps most of his attention on the conversation. Her observation makes his head tilt toward her, considering. In the sense that Jessa always had intentions for what should (and was to) be done? "Perhaps so," Jethaniel says to her question. "She… does not respond well to variances." Hence Jessa's frequent encouragement for him to return to Cove Hold, even once he'd chosen a craft ill-suited to a posting there. Children grow and mature (and move away), but sometimes their parents have difficulty with that fact. Darsce's second question makes Jethaniel's hand stop moving entirely, still against her as he looks back at her. "I am thirty two."

Yeaaaahno. That would be an unpleasant scene. Darsce watches Jethaniel carefully. His factual answer draws a fond smile from her despite the woman they're talking about. "Does it bother you?" Curious to how he'll answer and yes, she asks anyway even though she saw those frowns the other night. She does seem surprised by his age, but not in a negative sort of way. There are no remarks made about him not having found a mate and married by now, nothing like that. She IS probably thinking there is something wrong with the women at the techcraft hall though, if the soft - and very smug smile playing about her mouth is anything to go by. "If she hasn't learned to let you… go by now I doubt she ever will."

Surprise is among the reactions Jethaniel is expecting to his age, but the rest of Darsce's response (or, perhaps, the lack of certain aspects to it) appears to relieve him. He has heard a great many comments concerning his lack of settling down prior to this point. There are reasons, not that he has ever chosen to express them to any of those making such observations. It has, after all, been none of their business. Darsce's question is met with a small frown, and it takes Jethaniel a moment to reply, during which his gaze regards her smile and his fingers splay against her skin. "Yes." His tone is soft for that admission. "I have learned to ignore it." Jethaniel is very good at saying nothing when the circumstances call for it. He lifts his eyes again. "I am… somewhat used to disappointing her. She did not understand my interest in the techcraft." Nor, apparently, his interest in Darsce. "She let me go to Landing. It sufficed."

Perhaps to explain some of her surprise, and with a very pleased smile, "You look great?" Darsce does not add 'for thirty-two' for she doesn't really think it's old or anything because she hadn't asked the question to tease him. Her mind is still working through understanding what is up with his mother, but she does add, regarding his not having settled and with a still-smug air, "Their loss, my gain." His frown though, draws the hand nearest him to reach up and trace his mouth with a fingertip, apology for the necessity of asking that question about his mother in her iceblue eyes. So he's confirmed that this… tendency in Jessa is not just because of her and is likely to persist, oh joy of joys. "I uh, haven't." Learned to remain silent and ignore. Obviously. "I can try, but you know what will happen? It'll come out at the worst of times." Like… that laughter of hers at the dinner table. Darsce can do the tongue-biting but meek, not so much. Her one attempt was pretty much a fail. Her fingers leave his hair as once again she props her head up on one elbow, turns to lie on her side facing him all in one movement, forgetting her sunburn with a tiny wince, then settles to eye him with bright curiosity. Now that she's witnessed his ability to remain silent and ignore his mother she asks, "Is that what you'll do if I say something you don't want to hear?" Just a hint of a smile now, teasing but not.

"You appear to be biased," Jethaniel replies to Darsce's comment about his appearance. It's said with a smile - amusement and affection, though not without a trace of self-deprecation. That expression lingers through her comment about the relative zero-sum nature of relationships with him, but his mother is a less pleasant topic, and so it fades into that frown. His eyes settle on hers as her finger traces his lips, and the touch draws forth, if not quite a smile, at least a lessening of that frown. For her own lack of skill at silence, he simply nods. He has observed it for himself, most recently with the attempt that ended in laughter at the dinner table. "You should not have to." The frown reasserts itself. "I… perhaps have been overly obliging to my mother, in some regards." He closes his eyes briefly, a pained look, and when he opens them once again, they seek hers. "I do not intend to oblige her concerning you." Certainly not to the extent of splitting up, and not even to the extent of asking Darsce to change. "I expect there may be arguments." Understatement, and there's a wry sort of smile to accompany it. When Darsce moves, so does Jethaniel's hand, lifting from her and then touching down lightly with the fingertips against her hip. It's still, once there, and as he listens to her question, his expression is a serious one. "I… may. I do not intend to." But he's good at it.

Darsce is biased, definitely biased. Happily and completely unconcernedly biased and so she simply nods agreement to that. Oh, there are times when she needs to learn to keep her mouth shut so Darsce says, "It might be good practice for me?" Unless the bottling-up phenomena makes something worse erupt. Hah! She hasn't any frame of reference in regards to him obliging his mother and so says nothing to that, but winces at his pained closure of eyes. Arguments, he says and it's her turn to wince. Again she makes no comment. She's going to try hard not to but… As for him, her smile flashes in the dim light as she leans in to touch her forehead and nose to his and says impishly, "I'll just get between you and the wall and make you see me." She's good at that.

"It might," Jethaniel acknowledges with a slight frown. "That is up to you." He won't ask her to do it on his behalf, but if she does make the attempt, he'll appreciate having fewer of those arguments… though he still expects them to happen. Darsce did tell him she'd cause trouble for him. Her response to his potential actions makes him smile softly, eyes going unfocused in an attempt to continue looking at her given this close proximity. "Good," he says earnestly. "I do not wish to ignore you… though I may or may not agree." His lips quirk, and his hand brushes slowly up along her side, then pauses near the ribcage as he considers the inversion. "And what if I say something you do not wish to hear?"

In Darsce‚Äôs mind arguments are still associated with (other people) screaming and throwing things and people leaving but not coming back. So she's going to make the attempt. "I don't want to argue with you," she mutters. And just in case he needs permission, "But I don't want to you agree with me if you don't, either. You don't have to." She is not his mother. She just looks at him after his last question. She has no idea! Her family did not negotiate calmly. And there are so many options! Slowly, as they occur to her, "I could talk too much trying to change your mind? Or pout, or cry or sulk but not… yell or throw things or leave?" Not that the do-list would be done calculatingly, no. Those things might just happen in the natural course of things. "Or I could just seduce you?" She tries out sultry smile on him and arches her back as his hand moves up her side. "Or I could just change my mind and decide I like what I hear? Which option would you prefer?"

Nor does Jethaniel wish to argue with Darsce, and so he nods to that… and again to her permission to disagree. "I do not have to," he agrees, then tilts his head to briefly touch his lips, off-center, to hers. "Nor do you." But how will she respond, when that moment arrives? Not that an accurate prediction is possible; while some suppositions can be drawn through consideration of past events, there are a variety of factors that make it somewhere between difficult and impossible for Darsce to say. Jethaniel is, at most, asking for a theory, but he is well aware that evidence, once collected, may disprove theories. What he receives instead is a possibility space, one with a variety of options. He listens to them carefully, a look of concern beginning somewhere around the 'sulk' option and growing through the non-options. Her suggestion of seduction makes Jethaniel lift his hand away from her, lowering his head slightly, and though his eyes are less visible, a tug at the corners of his mouth echoes that concern. "I would prefer you tell me," he says quietly. "In as much detail as you wish." Talking his ear off is, apparently, acceptable. "If I am making you unhappy… I wish to know why." He's not saying he won't do it, but Darsce's emotional state is assuredly a part of Jethaniel's decision-making process.

Darsce kisses Jethaniel back and then lifts her head to speak of those options. The list, in part, consists of ways she has dealt with disagreements - or seen them dealt with in the past, perhaps most of them when she was a child. Her family did not do conflict resolution. He's seen how she handled disagreements with Ka'el, the previous Weyrleader and his mother. She hasn't done conflict resolution with anyone, actually. She hasn't been motivated to. She has a lot to learn! "I won't flip you off and I won't walk away or be sarcastic to you." Or yell or throw things. She's sure of that. She was totally kidding about seducing him and so when his reaction is to pull away her almost-smile fades. Trying to be a smart-ass backfired, didnt it Darsce? "I'm sorry," she says meekly, "That was meant to be a joke." She drops her head to his shoulder. Ohhh that went badly! She's also actually embarrassed herself with him for the first time. "I'll talk to you," she promises quietly. It's actually getting her to shut up that may be the problem! She can't promise him no tears. "But you should always do what you feel is the right thing. I don't want you to be a slave," she stresses the last part as a reminder of what she told him yesterday while standing in that spiral rock garden. "You might convince me you're right too you know."

The things Darsce won't do make Jethaniel nod slightly, but… "Ah." A joke. His arm returns to around her, and he lowers his head. "I… did not…" He frowns, and closes his eyes. "I have been aware of cases where it was not." The words are soft, and at the promise to talk to him, he squeezes her against him in an expression of gratitude. The metaphorical removal of his ears by her words is an acceptable risk. Her tears are also something he's willing to accept. Not that he wants to see them, but as part of him knowing why (and that) she's unhappy, he is willing to accept them. As for doing what he thinks is the right thing? "I will." He lowers his head, touching his lips to her hair. "I will always listen to you," he reiterates, though he is not her slave. "I will not always do what you want." Of this, he is aware. "You may convince me. I may convince you. We may both say no to each other…" He smiles. "As well as yes."

This admission widens Darsce's eyes. Yeah, she's heard of that also. "There are… places in Ierne. Models are often solicited for work there. I wouldn't." She's mortified anew to realize that her joke was in such poor taste. "They didn't…" Hurt him? Her stomach clenches even thinking of anyone trying to harm the gentle man and her arms curl 'round to hold him tight. She owes him an apology though. And so she lifts her head from his shoulder to give him a very earnest look. "I'm sorry, I didn't think. I would never trade… loving… for anything. That's free. My gift for you only." She considers him and a knowing smile ghosts her lips, "And yes, you may ask. I won't always think to offer." Sur-prise? His rephrasing of her points, almost like a pre-written legal agreement draws a faint smile. "Yes to all of that. We won't be perfect at it, but that's okay. We'll learn together, yeah?" Jethaniel has a very good chance at success. He's the only person she really listens to.

"If it is by choice…" Jethaniel says of those places in Ierne, though he frowns as he says it, with an unhappiness that makes the words uncertain. His conclusion is more definite. "I do not want that." He tilts his head, touching his cheek to the top of Darsce's head as she holds him close. Her incomplete question of what an incompletely specified 'they' may or may not have done is left unanswered, but he lifts his head once more as she does the same to hers, his grey eyes meeting that earnest look. He nods. "I… am glad you do not have reason to think so," he says softly. "But I am also very glad it is a gift." Without strings attached. He trails his fingertips softly along her back, his eyes drifting down from hers to examine her cheek, her lips…. His voice turns quieter yet. "I do find you very attractive." Which may be a part of why his mother's comments had such an effect on him. Jethaniel looks back up to Darsce's eyes as he sees that smile on her lips, watching her earnestly for a moment before he nods. "I will remember that." His head dips slightly once again, and his lips twitch as he adds, almost shyly, "Though I enjoy your offers." His paraphrase of her statements regarding their postulated procedures for disagreement does not contain nearly enough latinate terms to be properly legal, even once one considers that it is being conducted on an informal basis without witnesses or notarization. Nevertheless, Jethaniel has a demonstrated (and documented) tendency to be analytic and methodical. This has contributed to his success as both technician and steward… but does occasionally cause him to become repetitive, when he considers the subject matter sufficiently important to merit that degree of attention. He nods to Darsce. "We will." His own smile echoes hers - or, more particularly, a variant of that smile, just as his words were similar in meaning but not identical, thereby more completely circumscribing the conceptual space they were intended to convey and ensuring it was shared by both parties. "Expertise is not required." Darsce is the one who informed him of the applicability of that axiom in the social space, turns ago. He simply recalls it as applicable at present.

Darsce ughs about those places in Ierne. More cringing. Glad he doesn't want that? Oh you bet! Neither does she, obviously. She cannot articulate what she meant by the half-asked question and she does not repeat it, sensing perhaps that he would not wish to answer it. Nevertheless she does say softly, "I would listen to you." If he even connects her promise to the very awkward topic they're dancing around, it makes no difference; the truth is she would anyway. And will. He speaks again. She blinks. He's glad she isn't using him?? She grins rakishly at him, "If I thought there was anything to gain, I'd just ask for it. You know that." Or - cough - borrow the knot to get it herself? She watches him as he speaks - aww, he's so cute with the shyface - and bites back a fond grin, can't quite manage the serious when he says he likes her offers, but she means it nevertheless when she drawls, "I'll remember that." She does not press about him asking either her, because… this is Jethaniel and she likes him as-is. However, he finds her attractive. "If you did not I would be offended!" She snorts with mock indignation that it could even be a remote possibility that he wouldn't. She works hard at her appearance, thankyouverymuch. As she tucks her head back under his chin, he might glimpse her smirk; she IS joking. And it's with a sigh that she snuggles close to him once more. Hah, thankfully their conversation is lacking legalese. Darsce would be SO lost if it did. For all his analytic and methodical ways, she gets him - at least on a level others don't - and so finds both traits endearing and admirable.

Jethaniel nods to Darsce's willingness to listen, whether general or subspecified to their topic of oblique conversation. "I know." And if she asked again with further clarity as to her intentions, he would try to answer her, uncomfortable or not, because when Darsce asks him for things… he smiles for her grin and comment. "Please do." If she wants to ask him for presents or otherwise make requests of him? Jethaniel will take it as an indication of ways he is capable of pleasing her. Whether he acts accordingly will be a matter of his own judgment - which he will, as directed, be using to assess situations involving Darsce - but the datapoints will certainly be useful to his deliberations. His smile widens at her drawled response to his admission, and he nods slightly, as though to state his further agreement. Darsce is teasing and forward and not meek, and Jethaniel likes her as she is. This mutual like might, in fact, be the basis on which certain things have been and are to be established. As for her mock offense? He smiles as she tucks her head and cuddles in against him. "Ah, but I do." Jethaniel's aware it was a joke, and he smiles for it, yet his tone is earnest. "Your shape. Your contours." He traces his fingers along her back, feeling the curve of it as she presses close. "Your positional dynamics." He tilts his head, kissing her hair. "Your hues." Though the red of sunburn is rather less than ideal. Nevertheless, "You are beautiful."

If the subject ever comes up, Darsce might, but right now she doesn't. She's now more aware of Jethaniel's wish to please her coupled with his reluctance to deny her and so as her regard for him grows, her own selfish impulses will tend to be checked more often. She will slip now and then, most assuredly. Thankfully expertise in this is also not required! A snicker rises from under his chin where she's burrowed, "You're killing me here, you know that?" She's been having far too much fun circumventing approval, but his approval? It matters and so she says more seriously, "I'll… try?" To learn to provide him with the appropriate amount of datapoints, that is. Is… he a kinesthetic learner by any chance? Another smile forms on Darsce's face, which he cannot see because she is tucked so. It's partly in response to the words 'positional dynamics' (Oh, she'll show him some positional dynamics!) She is also very pleased by his sense of aesthetics. "Thank you," she purrs. Her hair is even more silverygold - it does that in the summertime thanks to Rukbat, which is also to blame for her hue. Beautiful, is she? Not that Darsce knows this is coming but, just wait until she starts peeling like a snake!

Perhaps Darsce will find circumstances where the things she selfishly desires can be made to coincide with things Jethaniel also wants? That would be very efficient. For now, he regards Darsce with a bemused smile where she's hidden beneath his chin. She is, evidently, amused. He is, generally speaking, in favor of this state, even when he does not entirely understand the causes. He considers on it for a moment, while his fingers trail along her lower back. Jethaniel is willing to engage in a variety of learning styles, but he does exhibit a preference for kinesthetic exploration… at least when it comes to Darsce. His preference may, however, not be entirely optimal, given that his physical explorations continues even as his mental ones come to a conclusion - one which makes him laugh. "Would you prefer I surprise you?" The alternative wherein he does not attempt to please her is, while possible, not one he intends to bring to her attention. She may, however, request an increased stochastic element. Jethaniel has observed, to his satisfaction, that Darsce will express both her pleasure and the lack thereof. As such, he is willing to attempt to refine his sense for what she wants through a variant of a monte carlo scenario. For her thanks, he smiles fondly. Jethaniel is quite aware that he is biased when it comes to Darsce. He is also quite content to be so, and his fingers trail partway up her spine before ceasing prior to the projected location of that sunburn, focusing simply on holding her close against him. The part where a damaged epidermal layer is efficiently replaced may cause a temporary reduction in certain portions of Darsce's external attractiveness, but it is unlikely to dissuade Jethaniel from his opinion.

Darsce might find that to be unselfish requires her to be selfish, as incongruous as that sounds! She is now predisposed to learning what Jethaniel wants, for the first time in her life caring about what someone other than herself wishes. His question draws her head out from where she'd tucked it to regard him with bright inquisition. Her hair is tumbled about her face and her bangs are askew but other than blowing a puff of air up to dislodge and shift them, she ignores her unruly hair. She's smiling - always a good sign. "You have a nice laugh." Observation. Jethaniel surprises? How can she say no to that?! "Sometimes, yes. But I will try to be helpful." She leans to rub her nose on the stubble of his jawline. Ouch. Tender red noseburn. She forgot! Her lips are fine, however and so she directs them to the corner of his mouth, just under his bottom lip, the other corner, teasingly avoiding a full kiss. Against him, he'll feel her lean stomach vibrate as she laughs low in her throat. Teasing pleases her, apparently! Random sequence and repeated simulations are all very well and she would enjoy them, but they might also tend to distract him from his Stewardly responsibilities and leave little time for more… techcraft research, which Darsce would like to assist with or at least observe…Jethaniel doing them. Her skin, which is beginning to reassert the pain and now itches as well causing her to remove an arm to scratch absently at her shoulder, then wince and rub with a knuckle, will not only have a physiological impact on her appearance, but a psychological one as well, fun times! That's definitely going to affect her Headwomanly work, which she should be getting to but has pretty much forgotten.

Desire is a non-zero sum game. If it were to be construed as a formulation of the classical prisoner's dilemma, an optimal score would require their continued collusion over a term of time… though the precise terms of that collusion may take some time to establish. Jethaniel is, however, quite inclined to make the effort - which may include developing his capability for asking things of Darsce. Her appearance, upon lifting her head, makes him smile. It's a fond expression, pleased to see her face once more, and the mussed nature of her hair is both a factor independent of his attraction and one that contributes to his smile. He is aware she applies effort to her appearance. As such, he is pleased by her willingness to focus on him despite a disordered element to that appearance. "Thank you," he says to her comment on his laugh. For appreciating him. As for his surprises - and the number of iterations that might be required to approximate the right answer - it is likely for the best that Darsce can provide a fitness function for his attempts, so he nods to that answer, still smiling. His face is a scratchy one, the single day's worth of growth (for he shaved neatly the previous morning) more prickle than fuzz, and Jethaniel's head begins to turn in question as Darsce touches and then draws away, only to be distracted by the touch of her lips. His head tilts, trying to press his mouth back to hers after the first. After the second, below his lips, he leans further toward her, his hand brushing down her back as an extension of that motion, a forward-reaching wave front of an eager press - that is once more teased, her lips finding the other corner of his mouth. He makes a soft noise in his throat, a response that's half-moan and nearly verbal… but not quite. It is not, however, displeased. Thrice-teased, he tries again for a full kiss - though Darsce's displeased reaction to her own skin will draw the motion short, his eyes settling on the bright red of the sunburnt flesh with a look of concern. "Do you want more numbweed?" A practical question, among the many asked this morning, and the nature of it may be what sets his thoughts toward those Stewardly responsibilities of his once again. There's numbweed supplies to be obtained in a more general case, the stocking of the infirmary to ensure and a use assessment to potentially be conducted regarding certain medicines… which may yet have him (unless distracted) working late to compensate for whatever morning time he's spent distracted. Since he possesses that option, he is willing to let himself remain distracted for at least a little longer. There is nothing truly urgent awaiting him; if there were, the location of his quarters is known.

Exercise will help that fitness, a function Darsce will be pleased to provide. There are certain times when her appearance matters not. One of those is when she is there, with him, twisted in nothing but his arms and those sheets. Then any coherent thoughts fly away, along with it any worries about how she looks. For Jethaniel's failed attempts to catch her lips, she laughs softly again and then, after her brief interruption to rub at her skin, she relents and gives him that kiss. It's purposefully steamy to make up for the tease, lingering, one she could get lost in and so does for a few blissful minutes of make-out, sinking back into him while her hands slide around towards his back. Siiiighed bliss. Work? Whut? Who? She adds a nip or two in there until- Her other shoulder itches and though she tries to ignore it, shrugs a few times against the sheets and… simply can't. Quite. Get. It. Auuugh. She has to twist away - but reluctantly so - and SCRA- ow! rubrubrub. "Yes please, Jethaniel," she says because numbweed will stop the itchthatbecomesow and his slathering her with it is also pleasurable, so she flops down on her stomach to await his ministrations. She'll feel well enough to work after this, sadness! And since she, as of yet, hasn't seen herself in a mirror (won't THAT be fun when she does?), she'll be reporting (late) for work also despite the unflattering red hue.

Jethaniel's fingertips graze along Darsce's side as she laughs, though they are not the cause of her amusement, and if his eyes hold concern for her sunburn, they also hold a desire for her regardless of it. The kiss, when she grants it to him, answers that desire, and the sound he now makes against her lips is definitely pleased, albeit muffled. He makes no effort to improve his enunciation; any clarification that is to be gleaned will instead have to come from the manner in which he presses close to her, or the eager motions of his lips to hers. Perhaps the way his leg drapes around hers has some particular significance, but Jethaniel's thoughts are likely not nearly so analytic. He is, however, busily collecting data concerning Darsce's (and his own) enjoyment under the variation of several factors, including the degree of parting to his lips (generally increasing) to the rate of his breathing (irregular, with maximum quickness occuring cotemporally with those nips). Analysis of this data may occur later… or it may simply be used in an ad-hoc fashion when he discovers other circumstances calling for such actions. He may develop a set of procedural responses, or create a production rule system - but regardless of the precise format, his theories will doubtless require testing. He can exercise what knowledge he has gained in the pursuit of more. Jethaniel is quite enthused by this research, and when Darsce turns away, he draws in a deep breath he failed to properly have while kissing her and his arms and legs remain tangled with hers for a moment before he draws them slowly back. He nods to her request, pushing back the tangle of the sheets to sit up and reach for the numbweed jar. It's where he set it last night, next to the clock that reminds him he is, in fact - lack of important meetings or not - late for work. He frowns at the clock briefly, though that has no effect whatsoever on the time. This does not prevent him from a full and careful application of the numbweed to Darsce's sunburned regions. Nor does it keep him from leaning in to place a kiss below the bright demarcation of where her dress left her excessively exposed to Rukbat's radiation. It does, however, mean that after these tasks are completed, his next ones will be to prepare himself for the workday. Darsce's presence may make this less efficient, but Jethaniel has no objections to that fact. Efficient or not, it is effective enough that they will both report (late) to work.

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