Old habits die hard.
kitchen.jpg


Kitchens
As you enter this room from outside, good smells assail you from everywhere. State of the art equipment has been brought in from the various crafts to be used - stoves and large ovens replacing the 2 hearths that used to be in here. Three baking ovens are usually going full bore 12 hours of the day, while the nighttime hours bring the smaller stove beside the door to the main hall into use. This is where you find late night meals of stew and soup simmering in pots, and pitchers of klah and tea in their electric units to be kept warm. Large windows take up the entire of the western wall, generally open wide to the mountainous landscape beyond allowing the cool breezes in to keep the kitchen's temperature to a desirable level. Tables, cabinets, and counters take up the remaining spaces and walls. It is here the majority of the work is done, and spices, herbs, and other foodstuffs found.

Beside the night hearth in the southern wall is the door that leads out into the living cavern.


The evening has long since lapsed into real, honest-to-goodness nighttime. The kitchens are relatively quiet this time of night, not so late that there's not a soul to be seen but definitely well beyond the time when normal people are out and about. As such, there's just the one person camped out near the nighthearth, and that one person is Grayden, crouched before the heat with his hands outstretched, toasting his fingers, his expression placid: that sort of vacancy that is so often but almost solely found when people get hypnotized by fire, watching their own thoughts come to life in the flames. In short - he's totally checked out while he warms up.

Late enough that dinner's gone but not yet so early that the bakers are here to start for the next day… which isn't exactly why Soriana's coming into the kitchen, but it isn't exactly not it either. If anyone was there to watch her, she emerged from the admin hallway - yeah, it's late, but she felt like she should have something to show for today besides lurking by the radio - and, after a glance to the entrance… turned this way instead. The kitchen. She can get something to eat - and she does, picking up a day-old raisin-bun and bringing it over toward the fire. It'll be better toasted. So that's her excuse, and she nods to Grayden as she takes a place near the fire with him but doesn't actually start by saying anything. She's got a roll to warm.

Startled out of his reverie, thankfully sometime before Soriana wound up sharing the flames, Grayden is still blinking his way back to the here-and-now by the time the girl (young woman? awkward in-between-age?) arrives with her roll in hand. Taking a breath, he unfurls from his crouch, stretching his neck at the same time, offering a mild, "Pardon me, I was far away," in lieu of a greeting. People who roam around at such late hours can't expect normal conversations, right?

What makes someone an adult, anyhow? Is it a number of turns? A certain height? Getting a fancy enough knot? Something less easily measured? It probably depends on the circumstance. For this one, Soriana is… well, certainly enough so to be roaming on her own at this hour of night. She smiles for Grayden's apology. "You looked it," she says, and reaches for a fork to hold her roll, glancing down to get it placed before looking up to him again. Still with the smile, "Don't let me keep you here, if you'd rather go back."

What makes someone an adult is entirely a matter of perspective, and Grayden's is the sort that leaves the girl/woman/whatever in the hazy realm of 'uncertainty.' But, then, they haven't even exchanged pleasantries yet, so that's probably unfair of him. While she does that thing with the fork and the roll, he rubs his eyes with index finger and thumb, holding them open wide afterward and shaking his head to answer, "No, I was just. Warming up." Versus being kept here against his will when he'd 'rather go back,' as she put it. He sketches a quick smile to answer Soriana's, but it seems out-of-place, as though he's not normally the sort to paste on such an expression merely because society suggests it.

Soriana's smile doesn't seem forced, which either means she's actually smiling because she wants to, or she's good at forcing them. One or the other. "Gotcha," she says as far as Grayden's warming up - hands and brain both, from the sound of it - and extends her roll to the fire. There's a moment while she's watching the flame to get it adjusted to the right level - enough to warm, not to catch alight - when there's a risk she'll fall to the hypnotizing power of them herself, but… nope. She glances back. "I'm Soriana, by the way." Introductions! Society suggests those, too.

Grayden watches. Not, like, the creepy-stalker kind of watching, but the somewhat checked-out kind of watching, crisp blue eyes following the forked roll toward the flames like he can't fathom what purpose the two have with one another. His expression remains similarly cloudy when he turns his attention back to the girl at her introduction, when his brows climb in the two-or-three seconds afterward as though he's waiting for her to… continue? No? "A pleasure," he supplies after just enough time has passed to make it fringe into the 'socially awkward' territory. "Grayden. Do you do this often?" With his chin tilted toward the toasting bun.

Soriana could have continued. There's a title. A dragon. But no. She didn't. She doesn't feel like it, here in the night. (Being impulsive. Maybe she's not so adult?) Even with those lifted brows implying that she should - society would say so - she doesn't. She waits it out under the pretense of not noticing it, and then she nods. "Nice to meet you." A glance to her bun, a rotation of it as it heats, and then, "Not really. This is about where I'm at, with cooking." Which isn't exactl what he asked.

Grayden briefly challenges the notion that it's nice to meet him with a renewal of his questioning expression, one-brow quirked, smile tugging ironically but briefly into place: is it really? His hands, presumably warm from their time a-toasting, slide into his pockets for now, leaving him turned toward the nighthearth to present Soriana with his profile while he asks, "Intentionally obtuse, or honestly not all that clever?" Grayden, winning friends and influencing people since 2698.

Soriana glances back to Grayden as he speaks, and she smiles again. Amused; the cheeks lift and tug the corners of her mouth with them. "Oh, so now you're actually asking your questions," she says to him, tone light. Teasing? She looks back to her roll. "Y'might get farther that way." A brief pause, and then one of her shoulders lifts slightly and lowers again. "Then again, you might not." After all. She didn't answer that one, either.

He might get farther that way. Though, "That depends on where I want to go," he reasons, mellow rather than argumentative. Although Soriana may not have answered, not specifically, she certainly spoke to the meat of Grayden's question, so he refrains from putting it out there again. As though it's the roll that's the thing of interest, he watches it for a good ten or fifteen seconds before unpocketing one hand and - never mind how unsanitary it might be to touch something someone else intends to eat - brushes the end of it with his index finger, intending that it will lever it upward enough to show her where it's getting well and truly toasted. Not burned (yet), but what he would call 'done.'

"It does," Soriana replies with a tug of her lips sideways that makes the smile crooked. "Suppose it's more about whether you'd be happy when you got there than how far you'd get." Another shrug - to counterbalance out the crookedness of the smile, maybe, because as the shoulder lowers back to level, so do her lips. She turns her head to follow the nudge he gives her roll. Her roll that's toasted, "Just far enough." So she flips up the fork to bring it away from the fire.

Grayden's, "No," is all-encompassing - or, at least, him-encompassing. Nodding not about the conversation about the roll, which he agrees is done just far enough, he returns his hands to his pockets and asks, "Perhaps it's more about whether you would be happy when you got there." The particular stress on the pronoun makes it clear that he does not follow Soriana's philosophy as far as this is concerned. "For some people," him, "it is about how far we get."

Soriana gives the roll a moment to not burn her fingers, and regards Grayden as she does. The 'no' gets a lift of one eyebrow, but she doesn't ask about it. As for herself? She smiles. "I wasn't talking about me," she replies, and plucks the roll off her fork. "But there's more than one way to go. If you try going in two…" She tears a small piece off the roll while she talks, and holds it in her fingers. "You don't get nearly so far. So really. Which one are you trying to go in?" It's a question. It might be a rhetorical one, and Soriana pops the piece of toasty roll into her mouth.

Grayden just barely voices the question, "Weren't you?" Talking about her, he means, but he asks it quietly enough, wedged in between her comments while she unimpales her roll, that it can be ignored, was probably meant to be. Pausing, he gives Soriana's (possibly rhetorical) question a few seconds of thought, then says, "You're wrong." Surprise, surprise. "There's not more than one way to go. It doesn't matter if you start here or there," and he nods down at the roll she's plucking at. "The end result is still the same. Whether bit by bit or all in one bite, you eventually have it all." Though he concedes, "At least until something better comes along."

Was she? There's always the question, with conversation, whether people are being so self-centered that they can't see beyond their own skins to understand how people are different. Especially when they're young. Understanding is something that takes time to learn. Soriana tilts her head ever so slightly at the question - or maybe just at her roll - but doesn't otherwise acknowledge it. Being wrong, though? That gets a lift of her eyebrows, though no response. (Her mouth is full, you see. Society says she should be polite and keep it shut.) A glance down to the roll, and then back up to him as he explains. Her lips quirk, but the silence lasts until she swallows. "Sure," she agrees. "If you have long enough. But you don't, always. So what would you rather have." A pause, because she could stop there - but, having established that she could, she doesn't. "…first?"

Oh, look! She's not the only one that can totally dodge a question. "That's a very personal question, isn't it." Not that Grayden sounds offended, necessarily, but - assuming Soriana is even mildly perceptive (which she seems to be) - it should be obvious that he does not intend answering it. Which doesn't stop him from asking, "You?" With a dip of his head, bowing out of his own response and leaving it to her instead, such a gentleman.

Soriana wasn't expecting that question to be answered by Grayden, so when it isn't, she's not surprised in the slightest. "It is." Very personal. Maybe it's also rhetorical? She picks another piece off her roll, toying with it between her fingers for a moment before smiling as he turns the question back on her. "I'm trying to do them all at once." A tug of her lips that quirks them sideways. "Because I can't decide."

"Really?" asks Grayden with perhaps understandable incredulity. He turns his head enough to lay plain that he's not distracted by the fire or the roll or whatever, but is - instead - eyeing Soriana frankly. And dubiously. "And how many things will you check off your list presently?" While she eats a roll and has (let's be generous and call it) a conversation with some dude she just met. In the middle of the night. At the nighthearth. Hence the incredulity, see?

Maybe this is why Soriana suggests picking a path? Because otherwise… conversations like this. Don't end up like her? Or, well, talking to her. But she's definitely not old enough to be the wise sage, here. Grayden's skepticism makes the smile twitch all the way into grin for a moment. Yeah, it's understandable. But… "One." She pauses, her next bite halfway lifted to her mouth, and corrects herself. "No, two." In goes the piece of roll. Chomp.

One. Two. Grayden's hand shifts in his pocket. Because he's probably counting out the one-no-two on his fingers. Not because, like, of the other reason a guy would get all pocket-shifty. "What's the second one?"

The second one. Not the first. Soriana lifts an eyebrow for that, but there's a moment's delay while she chews that bite. At least it's a small one, instead of her trying to shove it all in her face at once, so it doesn't take long. "Making someone happy." Is she being deliberately obtuse again? The quirk of her lips and slight lift of her eyelids might suggest it.

The second one. Not the first. And his skepticism returns with a narrow of his eyes when Grayden points out, "That's a bad habit to develop so young." With way more gravity than not-yet-thirty ought to be employing. He even clucks his tongue against the back of his teeth chidingly.

"Yeah," Soriana agrees readily. "It is. But it's not you." That she's making happy. She says it with unconcern, like she doesn't expect him to be insulted that she's basically just said she doesn't care about him, and has another piece of the roll. (Is 'eating so she doesn't fall over' on her list?)

Readily - too readily - Grayden agrees, "No, it's not." Because obviously he's having his arm twisted to keep him hanging around here. Perhaps he could argue that he's here 'cause it's warm and, er, well, where else is he gonna go? But the end result is that he's still loitering and hasn't turned off the valve for conversation, so. "What will you do when you're done?" Eating? Making someone/not him happy?

Soriana doesn't argue with that agreement, but she does glance away to the fire. Maybe it's to hide a smile, though it's not like it's that concealable, or like she hasn't been smiling plenty already. But the fire is nice and warm, and it's cold outside, so… plenty of reason to stick around. Until she's done with… "I'll check my list." She smiles. "And see what I'm not done with."

Grayden nods to accept that as a perfectly reasonable answer, takes the nod far enough to be called 'ducking his head,' even. Touche. Soriana has clearly bested him conversationally, so that there's nothing for him to do but keep his mouth shut and now, hands still in his pockets, turn around to toast the backs of his legs instead of the fronts of them. Also, it means he can better keep an eye on the young woman/girl in case the next thing on her list is, like, karate chopping strangers in the backs of their heads or something. (You never know.)

Soriana continues to pick at her roll, one bite at a time. Maybe the baked good all that stands between Grayden and that flying karate chop. There are reasons to be suspicious of strangers… so it's probably a good idea for him to make her have to stand in the fire. If she wants to do that. After a few of those bites - the roll's a bit over half done - she looks over to him. "So what have you gotten so far?" Not what he's reaching for. Because he's old(er than her). So there should be something.

With a shrug, Grayden dislodges a hand from his pocket and uses it to brush at a bit of imaginary dust on the front of his shirt. His nice shirt. To go with his nice pants, nice boots, et cetera. Like maybe that answers Soriana's question. What he says in the process of keeping himself tidy against the imaginary airborne particles is, "I'll tell you what I haven't gotten is half of a toasted roll." Not that he's accusing anyone of anything.

Maybe it does. Soriana watches the gesture of Grayden's hand, and the imaginary dust on the quite real (and nice) clothing. Then again, maybe it doesn't. She doesn't ask again, but she does heh at the negative answer he gives aloud. "So you haven't," she says, and sets the remaining almost-half neatly on her palm, extending it slightly. "Want to check it off your list?" There's a slight arch of her eyebrows and an amused look to go with her offer. If that's what it is. Maybe she just wants to know how to taunt him.

The offered (if that's what it is) roll is eyed quietly for a time, and the hand that had been brushing off his perfectly clean shirt lifts, thumbnail scraping back and forth along the edge of his lower lip while he contemplates what's on Soriana's palm there. Like it's such a dilemma. "No," Grayden finally decides, reaching out with that same hand to ever so gently push hers back, just barely pressing against the ends of her fingers. "No, if I'm going to be indebted to someone, I would rather it was for something more substantial than a pastry."

Soriana waits for Grayden to consider the roll without signs of impatience. If it's not an offer, she's apparently decided to become a statue for no readily apparent reason. Maybe she's trying to feed the avians that aren't here? Regardless, when he nudges her hand away, her fingers curl up around the roll to grasp it once again, and she nods. "Okay." Because the price of a roll is… well, that depends, now doesn't it? Debts are funny things like that. "Toasting's free, though." A glance to his legs - because the flame's warming them - and then she takes a bite of the roll. Directly, this time, instead of tearing a piece off first.

And here we come back to the Rhetorical Questionville. "Your generosity knows no bounds, does it." Grayden draws in a deep breath, as if finding the air suddenly sweeter to know there are such good, giving people as Soriana in the world. He exhales it with a cough, though, 'cause how could he not choke on that load of crap? Also, he leans over to test the temperature of the back of his legs with his palm, waffling on whether or not he's really well-done or just medium-rare. Enh, he could kill another few minutes and not be sorry.

"You're wrong," Soriana says. She smiles. It's almost… sweet. So giving and generous and kindly. Except, that's not what she's saying, and her eyes are more sharp than dreamy with generous feeling. "It does. It knows quite a few of them, and I tell it more all the time." Another bite of the roll. "But the toasting's still free. So far." She could alter the deal?

Grayden? Wrong? He lifts a brow, shows that skeptical expression of his again (lots of practice using that one, huh?), but doesn't argue it specifically. Instead, he just invites, "I'm dying to know where you've drawn the lines, Soriana. If half of a roll is a giveaway, is it the whole roll that's asking too much? A half-dozen? A baker's dozen? Please, enlighten me so I'll know where not to tread should the need arise."

"But I'm not here to make you happy," Soriana points out logically, in that way of teenagers who use logic when it might more accurately be described as pedantry. Then again, some people never do grow out of the tendency. "So why should I tell you?" Her brow arches back at him, a question to go with a lingering smile.

Grayden, promptly, "Because I've asked so politely?" Also, he rounds his eyes and manages to look… well, let's not go overboard and say he looks pathetic and needy, but he kinda gets out of the completely self-sufficient territory, at least. Which might come closer to appealing to someone who's willing to employ pedantry, right?

"That's a reason," Soriana acknowledges, then makes him wait while she has a bite of roll. At least it's a small bite? But she still makes him wait before she continues, "It's not a very good one. I don't give people things just because they're polite." Her lips quirk. Almost a smirk. "It's a bad habit to get into."

So he waits. Patience may be a virtue of his. Or maybe it's just that it's late, and he's not going anywhere (clearly), so what else is Grayden gonna do but what? "So is stealing other people's lines," he points out, answering Soriana's smirk with a frown that would look menacing were it paired to anything other than eyes that look almost merry. Almost. It's late, so merry's a little harder to summon.

The frown entirely fails to daunt Soriana. Maybe it's because she sees the expression in his eyes, or maybe she's just oblivious. "You're," she begins, and deliberately pauses for just a moment there, "right. It is." Stealing other people's words. Is it better or worse if you change them around when you do it? "Now you know my bad habit." Like she only has one. "What's yours?"

Grayden manages not to let his lack of intimidation damage his ego. But only because he's such a sharply-dressed guy that he has things to fall back on, like being sharply-dressed. Anyway, give Soriana credit for getting him to crack a(nother) smile, if only a small one, and one edged with irony. Probably because she's given him credit for being right - but, then again, could be because of the notion that she's got but one bad habit. Who knows. As for him - "Telling lies."

He could fall back on his shirt, pants, or boots. Grayden has options for his fragile male ego, and that's even before the admission that he's right. Is he getting that because of the credit? Or is it free? Soriana certainly seems to be smiling, but then, she does that. As for his bad habit (Also singular. Everyone only gets one, apparently.) Soriana considers for a moment, then nods. "It's a useful one." Whether it's actually his habit or not, which she isn't going to ask. She does take another bite of roll, though. It's nearly gone.

No arguments from Grayden. It's definitely a useful one. "And it's better than, say, habitually dodging questions. Or eating very, very. Very. Slowly." He shrugs once more, taking in a deep breath at the same time, as though to bolster himself against the lateness of the hour, like a big ol' breath will startle him awake. It won't.

"True enough," Soriana agrees - far too easily, really. "Once you start dodging questions, it's hard to stop." She starts to lift the roll to her mouth - but wait, first - "Suppose that's why it's a habit, hmm?" A quirk of her lips. "Eating slowly, though… that one's hard to justify." And then she actually takes that bite. She's got… what, one more? Maybe two, before it's just crumbs.

Grayden's smile will just have to be inexplicable. Suffice it to say, it blooms into place (as much as a person that's up way too late and having a completely fruitless conversation with a girl/woman he doesn't know can be said to 'bloom' a smile; 'wilts into place' might really be more accurate, but hasn't got the same ring to it) when Soriana comes up with that 'true enough' comment. It lingers a few extra seconds, until she's actually taken a bite - for the love of <whatever>, just finish it already!!! - and he suggests, "Try."

If it bloomed, it could fruit afterward? Like the grapevines that were involved in making the raisins that went into that roll - which apparently means that blooms go away. So, yes, perhaps that's a wilting smile. Soriana glances down to the lingering piece of roll - really, it's an oversized crumb at this point more than anything else - then up to Grayden again. "That one's not polite," she notes with a tone of interest, one where the tiny arch of one brow tugs that corner of her mouth up disproportionately. And yet… "Eating wasn't on my list." She pops the remainder - yes, all of it! - into her mouth.

Like that was the only thing, the only thing that was keeping him here, Grayden exhales a slow breath, releasing a tension in his shoulders that… well, that wasn't actually there at all, but he's good at pretending it is. Liars do have that knack. "Polite is overrated," he answers readily, finally stepping away from that hearth to collect the small satchel left leaning against a nearby counter, its strap snagged and slung over his shoulder. "So are lists," he adds upon straightening once more.

But it's polite not to leave the table while people are still eating. Does that extend to hearths? …and if it does, well… Soriana can ponder on that one while she's chewing, particularly when combined with Grayden's analysis of politeness. So she does, and brushes the crumbs off her hands - no, she's not going to pick them up one by one and eat them. That would be silly. "Depends who you ask," she says, with a small lift of one shoulder as she watches him prepare to (most likely) depart. And then a smile. "But lying's probably more useful." As habits go.

Yes, that's the part that would be silly. Totally. Leaning for a second on the counter, running his thumb along the underside of the strap to get it settled comfortably, Grayden gives her enough time to come up with the smile (take a drink) and the addendum. Then it's a nod, a mellow, "It is. For example - I have to go sleep." And he pushes away from the counter, heading… in a direction that must be, like, the long way around to the residential regions of the Weyr.

A drink? No, Soriana doesn't have one of those. It might have been convenient, if she did. It's much easier to lie about the amount of liquid remaining, or simply pretend to take a sip. Then again, sleep or not, surely Grayden has better places to be than standing by a fire telling lies. "Or -" she adds before he's quite gone "- it was nice to meet you." Which could also be politeness. Depending on who you ask.


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