A Business Proposition

Xanadu Weyr - Caverns
A massive cavern in it's own right, this one has been skillfully adapted for human habitation. The high ceilings have been painted a light, soft ivory, as are the walls where numerous tapestries hang to provide brilliant color and insulation from the stone. The floor has been left in its natural state, pale pink granite speckled through with glittering mica and dark flecks of basalt, leveled carefully but kept sufficiently rough to avoid slips.
The cavern itself is loosely divided into areas, each one set up to be suitable for some segment of the Weyr's population. The most frequently occupied area, however, is the one near the Kitchens where tables of varying sizes provide a place to sit down and eat or chat and a buffet of consumables is almost always kept stocked. Its plain that on most days, this area wouldn't accommodate anywhere near the full population of the Weyr and equally plain that on such occasions when a formal meal is laid out, tables are appropriated from all the other areas.
A big fireplace is set into the wall near the Kitchens as well, several comfortable chairs nearby providing haunts for elderly residents or riders who like a good view of all that happens. Rugs cover the floor in strategic spots, all of them abstract or geometric in design and most in the softly neutral colors of undyed wool.

It's mid-afternoon, the lull between mealtimes. With the ice storm having passed, the caverns are relatively calm during this time intead of packed with people seeking shelter. Outside, Rukbat's warmth is temporarily melting the ice, the caverns occasionally quiet enough that the dripping sound is audible. Ideally, the ice will remain melted and become absorbed into the ground. Xanadu appears unlikely to encounter this ideal state, though sand has been strewn across the paths to both increase friction and lower the freezing point of the water. If sufficient sand were applied, it might, in theory, create a new layer of land. Sufficient sand for that purpose is not being applied. Jethaniel is not one of those applying the sand, nor even inspecting the progress thereof from a personal perspective. He is, instead, seated near the fire, on one of the smaller couches. One and only one of his legs is up on an ottoman, which is likely due less to an intent for leisure than the requirement for elevation corresponding to the brace strapped around the ankle. There's a similar one around one of his wrists, and he holds a document with his other hand to rest against that brace. There are other documents for him, put on a clipboard tucked against the arm of the couch, but at the moment, he is regarding this one with as much focus as he can muster - and, to judge from the furrow of his brow, hoping it is sufficient. The rest of the room, he is paying less attention to, despite the stated desire for a change of scenery which brought him here. (The further details of what brought him here - given those medical braces - are, for the moment, obscure.)

The, "Thank you," that passes from Grayden to an elderly woman pointing in Jethaniel's direction has little bearing on anything except that it sets up how the one man recognizes the other, coming just before the able-bodied heads for the not-so-able-bodied. Taking the long way around gives him a chance to survey the Steward en route, though it's not until he comes around the end of the couch that he gets a view of the busted leg, which slows his steps fractionally, head cocked. Then, from a yard or so away from the arm of the couch, looking from the propped leg to its owner, it's a mild, "They tell me you're the Steward." The lilt of a question tinges the end of that comment, like Grayden's not quite sure - or maybe to allow Jethaniel the chance to deny such an outlandish claim.

Three days of being cooped up in the caverns with a majority of the Weyr's population - most of that time spent in the offices coordinating emergency measures with the Weyrleader - has left the Weyrwoman just short of stir-crazy. She didn't need her arm twisted to go out and have a look-see with N'shen to do a rudimentary damage survey. The detailed ones will, of course, be done by the foresters and techcrafters but at least they've gotten a general idea of what's out there. The Weyrleader has business outside; the Weyrwoman inside and thus she now returns. As the hearth and those couches are en route to the administration wing, Thea catches sight of Jethaniel and alters her steps accordingly. From behind Grayden her voice speaks with dry amusement, "When I said take a vacation, I meant something more enjoyable than a medical leave, Jethaniel." The man is getting a smile while green eyes remain concerned. There is, however, no motherly fussing. And though by her knot she might claim the man's attention first, she indicates with a nod to Grayden that he may be seen to first. She's in no hurry.

"…therefore…" Jethaniel murmurs to his document. The document does not reply in any audible fashion, though it may do so in verbal form. Other than the evidence of injuries, he appears to be in moderately reputable condition. His shirt has been neatly buttoned. His hair has been combed, and still retains evidence of that state. He does appear oblivious to the rest of the room, which is not necessarily an impediment to being Steward, though one might wonder - given that he is not appreciating the affordances of this area - why he is not in a more proper location such tasks. He presumably, if he is in fact the Steward, has an office. He could be sitting there to read his paperwork. "…it-" Especially if he's going to mutter to himself, but he stops at the sound of a voice in his vicinity, lowering the paper and lifting his head to regard, first Grayden, then Thea behind. He returns his gaze to Grayden. "You are informed correctly. However…" Jethaniel smiles, small and rueful. "There are, at present, certain complications." His gaze returns to Thea, and the smile remains as he adds, "Unintended ones, I assure you."

Which puts Grayden in the awkward position of either insisting that Thea go first or being rude enough to stay in line ahead of the Weyrwoman. For the attention of a (gimpy) Steward. This dilemma passes over his expression momentarily, illustrated in the quick drawing together of his brows while his eyes move back-and-forth between the two while they address each other. "I won't take much of your time," he assures when it's his turn again, ducking his head toward Thea to acknowledge her go-ahead. "Nor ask you to do any heavy lifting. My name is Grayden," while he makes the last two or three steps to be in arm's reach, to offer his hand out toward the seated Jethaniel. "I've got a business proposition." And not a whole lot of interest in idle chit-chat, obviously.

There's a soft snort from the Weyrwoman at that. "I'd certainly hope not," she says with the same dry humor. She doesn't seem unaware of the physical state of her steward however, it's apparent this is the first time she has laid eyes on him since he's been hurt, tilting her head a little to one side as she gives him a once-over, her gaze traveling from his ankle to his wrist, only interrupted by a flick of ice-green eyes to answer one of Grayden's glances. Her small polite smile says 'no really it's fine'. Business he says and she… takes a seat in one of the chairs, suddenly… tired? Maybe, maybe not. She manages to maintain a bland face but her eyes dance with subtle amusement. She says nothing.

Not only that, a Steward whose work-related status is ambiguous. He is not in his office. There's the mention of medical leave, accompanying evidence of injuries. He is still reading documentation. There are complications. The smile - and slight nod - for Thea's comment aside, Jethaniel's face is a relatively calm one. The thoughtful expression he had while reading the document has faded to neutral. There's a slight tension still, but it would be plausible to presume that as due to his injuries; a compromise he has made to avoid being overly compromised. He nods to Grayden. "I have some time," he agrees. There's a slight nod for the lack of heavy lifting, accompanied by neither smile nor frown, and then Jethaniel sets the paper he was reading carefully with the clipboard. He does not clip it on. That would require the use of two hands or a procedure sufficiently awkward (and potentially painful) that he does not, at present, choose to do it. Grayden's offered hand waits for a moment while he does this, then is met by the wrist-braced one. It may qualify as more of a hand-touch than a hand-shake. Jethaniel's expression does not change to acknowledge this fact. "I am Jethaniel." Xanadu's Steward, as Grayden is already aware. The mention of a business proposition makes his gaze flick briefly to Thea. She is sitting. Jethaniel returns his eyes to Grayden, inclining his head in a nod. "I am willing to discuss it."

Grayden doesn't sit down. Maybe he really means his proposal to be that brief, or maybe he's just one of those people that thinks better on his feet. He waits, though, till Thea's sitting and his hand's been… whatevered, touched, shaken, he's not going to sweat the details. Instead, his hands drop into his pockets and he shifts his weight so that he looks less like he's about to go briskly on about his business, weight mostly on his right leg, a glance toward the Weyrwoman to confirm she's also paying conveniently still paying attention, then it's to the chase: "Rumor has it that Xanadu has a cafe that's not being run as profitably as it could be. I can fix that. Turn over its management to me, I make money, the Weyr makes money, everyone's happy." With the gist laid out, he puts on his attentive face - questions? comments? concerns?

Thea is most definitely paying attention and not even attempting to hide the fact. Any business proposal that involves Xanadu, while handled by her steward, interests her. She does not usually sit on on Jethaniel's meetings, however, given the trust she places in the man. However today, it's different. She has something she needs to share with him, something not of a sensitive nature, most likely given that she's willing to broach it out here in public. It's just fortuitous that her timing has allowed her into this one. So while the pair do the mannerly thing, she's giving Grayden a casual perusal, which might be all anyone she's never seen before would get. Until he speaks of the cafe, then her attention sharpens a little. Has she seen him around before? Hmm, no, probably not. Her attention is divided between the man and her steward. Still silent.

The invitation for Grayden to be seated is implicit; Jethaniel does not make it otherwise. He simply listens, gaze lifted to Grayden as the other man speaks. He does not look at Thea again. This is not because he is unaware of her presence; merely because he is keeping his focus elsewhere. "There is a cafe, yes." Jethaniel brings his hands - ah. No, he does not. He winces slightly, and places his injured one down against his lap, the other one resting against it so that his fingertips touch the plastic edge of the brace. He regards Grayden. "Optimal profit is certainly a goal." Jethaniel smiles slightly, his tone a mild one. "Have you references for your skill at management?" He appears both curious and somewhat expectant - not that Grayden appears to have letters on his person, but there should be some form of supporting evidence to such a claim. "I would, additionally, like to see a business plan."

References? "I have a lot of money," Grayden clarifies frankly. "Which speaks to my ability to make more of it better than a list of people who can vouch for me." All of that to say: No, he doesn't have references in the strictest sense of the term. "It's money that I'm willing to invest, so it won't cost you," with a glance that includes Thea as well as Jethaniel in that pronoun, "anything out of pocket. If you want me to write it all down, I'll be happy to do so. What it comes down to, though, is that I know the right people to buy from, I'm good at getting people to work hard for me, and I know how to make a place lively. You won't get that from a business plan, but I can put some numbers down if it gives you peace of mind." All without a hint of apology for his obvious lack of humility.

It might be of little notice to anyone else, that faint wince of Jethaniel's but the Weyrwoman notices. The man is given a thoughtful look but rather than comment, Thea seems to relax slightly and upon the questions from her steward, she turns her attention back to Grayden with no other movement than that of her eyes. He mentions personal wealth. Whether she believes that or not, a flick of eyes takes in his clothing; he's certainly dressed the part. Her lips quirk, her eyes shift to Jethaniel. She has a question and it's probably not the expected one. Not from her. "To clarify, what exactly do you mean by lively?" is asked of Grayden with mild curiosity.

"Ah," Jethaniel says to that quantity of money. He smiles slightly. "I would, however, disagree. It merely speaks to the fact that you have money. There are a wide variety of means by which you might have obtained that money." He leans back against the couch, regarding Grayden. When Thea speaks, he looks to her, and nods to her question to acknowledge it as he returns his gaze to Grayden. Jethaniel's own peace of mind - as such - is met with a dismissive flick of the fingers of his good hand. Perhaps, as steward, he is unused to peace and quiet? "The numbers are theoretical at best." Despite how many of them he provides to the Weyrwoman in the form of projections, estimates, and final budgets.

Though his brows climb in a beg-to-differ manner, Grayden doesn't actually beg to differ about what money says when it talks. Instead, he only clarifies with a shrug, "I don't have references. If that's a deal-breaker, then I won't waste any more of your time. If it's not, then give me a few days and I'll give you that business plan." On the verge of pausing to let Jethaniel tip the scales on his offer, he attends Thea's question instead, turning enough of his weight onto his foot to be addressing her rather than the Steward. "Lively. You get people in the door, you get them to stay. It's… ladies drink free, seasonal specials, live music this-week-only. Tired of the ice - well, come on down to luau night, we've got half-price pina coladas and free appetizers if you wear a grass skirt." The latter pitched with a salesman's verve and the peach of a smile. Mind, the smile drops like a stone afterward, all back to business, and he tilts his head questioningly: "Enough clarification, madam?"

At Jethaniel's correction Thea's mouth twitches and her eyes drop to the pair of gloves she's holding in her lap. She still has her coat on but if she's staying much longer, she'll remove it. When she looks back to Grayden to note how he'll respond, her face is impassive though her eyes are overbright. She could applaud his acting job. She does not. Pleasantly though, "Hmm, yes, as long as this lively you speak of doesn't include turning the Treetop Cafe into a seedy gambling den with pole dancers and loud carousing, it suffices admirably. Thank you, Grayden. And the name is Thea." Clarification on the definition of lively is, at least satisfied. Lack of references? She'll leave that to her steward.

Those climbing brows are certainly noted, but Jethaniel does not address them directly. "I do not necessarily require references. They would, however, be useful." If Grayden nevertheless chooses not to provide them, Jethaniel may continue his assessment through a variety of other means. He listens while Grayden answers Thea's question, his gaze remaining on the other man and his expression considering - though he does not comment on the response, leaving that to Thea. After she has done so, Jethaniel speaks once again, directing his words to Grayden. "It is apparent you consider yourself adept at business." He smiles. "Let us take that - for the moment - as a given." Jethaniel leans forward slightly, his posture and the slight lift of his brows expressing interest. "As such, what is it that interests you about this particular opportunity? There are, I am sure, a wide variety of ventures you could embark upon. Why this?"

Grayden, thoughtfully, "I don't like pole dancers." With a breath and a shake of his head, he clears the image and denies it at once, absently brushing a hand down the front of his shirt like the mere mental image has left him tarnished. In the process, he turns back to Jethaniel to explain, "Why not this? It's a unique location, an establishment that's already on the radar, with some fine-tuning and the right management, it could go from 'known' to 'well-known.'" Before putting his hand back in his pocket, he counts off the two main reasons on his fingers, "I like a challenge, and I like making money. This particular opportunity," with a quirk of his mouth to acknowledge the reuse of Jethaniel's term, "presents the possibility of both."

"No, of course you don't," says Thea with a very small smile and a subtle twinkle for Grayden's show of distaste. Said firmly, "They can go to Ierne for that - and the gambling." She draws a breath and regards Grayden mildly. After a slight pause, "Please elaborate on your past success in so doing." After the request, she shifts her gaze to Jethaniel's, waits to catch his eye and if he meets hers she holds it somberly before returning her attention to Grayden. Polite, a touch reserved now.

Jethaniel's lack of comment on the matter of pole dancers is complete and utter. He might as well be the wall a few steps over, not that he himself could currently take those steps. As far as the matter of Grayden's motivations is concerned, the initial answer causes Jethaniel to lift an eyebrow, but that query subsides as the other man continues by specifying applicable details. The desired increase in reputation draws a nod from him, and the dual motives of challenge and cash appear comprehensible. Jethaniel looks up to Thea once more as she makes a request, meeting her gaze. After a moment, he inclines his head to her before settling back against the couch. The motion begins as easy, but ends up rather more defined by caution; the thigh bone is, in point of fact, connected to the ankle bone. "I would also," he adds with mild curiosity, "-be quite interested to hear why not."

Grayden exhales around the kind of tolerant smile that people reserve for those things that hound them - the bum that asks for money every time you see him, the pair of socks that you always remember has a hole in it right when you pull it on, that sorta thing. "What sort of elaboration would you like, Thea?"

Dark brows lift slightly as the Weyrwoman awards Grayden as skeptical look. Really? "Your past success in business," she says coolly, "to clarify my ambiguousness. The short list will do." She rises, but she will wait for his answer.

The fact that Jethaniel remains where he is may not, given his current state of injury, be particularly notable. He does not, however, say anything; simply keeps his gaze on Grayden as the would-be entrepreneur expresses his request for, and receives, clarification. Jethaniel is listening.

Still tolerant, Grayden nods and comments, "I thought we covered that with the big bag of money, but." Inhale. "I was an apprentice in the seacraft briefly in my youth, but found I was ill-suited to crafting. I left and, with a friend and business partner, set out as a trader. We made a good bit of money before parting ways. I invested mine in a small bar, which went from bleeding marks to making them, based on the aforementioned knack for hiring the right people and getting the best out of them, as well as knowing how to get a good bargain. I sold my interest in the bar for a profit, and now I'm looking for a new venture." He looks between the two of them, patiently.

Thea demurs quietly, but firmly, "Actually, we didn't, but thank you for your clarification." The small smile she awards him does not reach her ice green eyes. This changes when she turns to Jethaniel. Not quite smiling, but the ice thaws. She awards him a significant look; he can probably read it. "I have something I need to see to. I'll meet with you later, Jethaniel. Grayden." She inclines her head briefly, politely. "I'll leave you to your interview." Which is… taking longer than the 'won't take much of your time' he might have intended.

Grayden's statement of having already covered this matter makes Jethaniel's lips quirk upward briefly, though his eyes are not involved with that expression; they have other things to do. Specificially, when Thea looks to him, she'll find his eyes already seeking hers. Jethaniel's expression returns to neutral as he listens to the story - one which, evidently, did not produce any persons suitable to serve as references, despite the presence of other persons referred to within it. At the conclusion, his regard is for Thea, and in response to that look, he inclines his head to her. As for their future meeting? "My schedule is relatively open." The curve of his lips is less pronounced, this time, but present. That said, his grey eyes return to Grayden. "Those are, I would agree, useful skills. If you provide me with a business plan, I will review it." His gaze begins to lower, then rises again. "Including, preferably, your assessment of risks." The 'Why not?'

Grayden proooooobably realizes there's a hole in that tale - has a history in business but no one that can vouch for him? - but that's his story, and he's stickin' to it. He watches Thea's departure with an answering incline of his head, and gives a mild, "Of course," for the inclusion. In the business plan. That he didn't really want to write in the first place, ho-hum. "I'll have it for you in a few days, then." He doesn't try to pretend he's thrilled at the whole interview, but he's at least got enough decorum to maintain a nicely lacquered veneer, summarized with a polite, "And I'm sorry to have taken so much of your time," and a tilt of his head toward the direction of Thea's escape.

Probably, yes, but Jethaniel does not, as such, ask about those holes. He simply… requires a business plan. It's that or references? The projected timeframe of that plan's arrival brings a nod. "I will await it prior to making any decisions concerning the cafe's future." He is certainly not going to decide about Grayden prior to receiving it. Other decisions he might make - whatever those may be - can likely also wait those few days. The apology is met by a nod from Jethaniel and a polite smile. "Time prediction is not always accurate. There are unforeseen factors." Such as himself, and the number of questions he chose to ask. "Is there anything else?" Or shall he simply await that plan? It will, most likely, generate a new set of questions.

"No," and "Thank you." Grayden does another of those nod-thingies, the ones that can be construed as hello, I agree, and goodbye. This one must be 'goodbye,' as he turns toward the inner Weyr after giving it.

Jethaniel returns the nod, which, given the context, likely also means goodbye, and he waits until Grayden has departed - eyes on his back - before giving in and slowly stretching the leg with the brace on, wincing as he does. In pain? Not while someone's watching, he pretends he isn't… but after the interview, it'll likely be a while before he returns to reading that document.

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