Occupation As Therapy

Xanadu Weyr - Store Room
The storerooms here are carved into the stone, stretching back deep underground beneath the upper hallways that serve for residences and work areas. There is, after all, little need for natural light here; a series of electric lights are more than sufficient to illuminate smoothly cut walls and the assortment of supplies kept until they are needed once more.

For some of the things here, that time will be long in coming. Broken furniture and torn clothing awaits the opportunity for someone to repair it - or else the kindling and rag piles. Other items are more immediately useful; gently worn clothing and boots are neatly arranged in rows and on racks, especially in the quickly outgrown children's sizes, and an assortment of furniture and small appliances in functional condition await new homes.

A series of side rooms connected to the kitchen are the larder which feeds the Weyr through the winter. Sacks of grain lean against barrels of salted meat and wheels of hard cheeses stacked high. Refrigeration and dragonflight make for a more flexible winter diet, but it still takes a great deal of food to provide for this many people. The food is a tempting target for tunnelsnakes, and the occasional scuttle can be heard in the otherwise quiet depths of these caves.

Toward the southern edge, near the path leading down to the hot springs, there's the laundry rooms, a set of steam-filled chambers where water and soap are scrubbed into fabric of various sorts and the dirt and grime is scrubbed right back out.

Much of the stores are easily accessed, requiring only the appropriate permissions to be borrowed from. These supplies are, after all, here for the good of the Weyr and the people living here. A few rooms - those containing particularly valuable or dangerous items - are kept locked.

It's a beautiful summer morning. Birds are chirping. Children are playing. The ocean is calling. So obviously the place to be is indoors. Working. That's where N'on is, anyways! He's already in the storerooms, slightly dusty and generally looking like he's been at it for a little while. The particular store room he's invaded is toward the back of the complex of stores. It looks like it hasn't had much attention recently, and most of its contents are rather mysterious. Tangled webs of cracked, decaying leather straps, far more complicated than anything the dragons use for day-to-day flying. A giant coil of rope thicker than N'on's arm, with evidence of scorch marks and smoke damage. And other, more mysterious objects that evade immediate identification by the layman, but everything with a patina of age and/or hard wear. Right at this moment, N'on is poking gingerly at a large wooden item, assessing the damage. The object looks something like a giant, human-sized barrel, but with an odd hinge-like contraption attached, along with leather straps and ropes. Improbably, it shows evidence of both fire and water damage.

Bootfalls draw nearer to the particular store room where N'on is so dutifully present, marking yet one more soul destined for a day (or at least a morning) away from the brightness of sun and summer sky. That seems to suit the big blond's dour mood, though, his expression one of bland discontent. It doesn't give away too much, but given that his expression is usually light and lively, it gives away so much that now he's closed and quiet… except for his boot falls. They stop at the doorway to the cavern and he probably wasn't relishing today, generally, after the morning's events, but facing N'on after their last encounter almost certainly adds to the emotional strain tensing those broad shoulders. Stefyr's expression blands even further, voice holding too much deference even as it tries for businesslike, "Rider N'on, I was to report here for my rider intern duties." That must make Stefyr N'on's very own intern for the time being. The young man tries to draw himself into something resembling attention, but his movements are clumsy and he just looks exhausted.

N'on doesn't look particularly surprised by the sound of bootfalls approaching and stopping at the door. Probably he knew to expect someone, but when Stefyr starts to announce himself, he does look up with only a moment's flash of surprise. Could be he didn't know which Candidate it would be, but once the moment's startle is over, it's replaced with a warm smile. He gives a thumbs up, and waves Stefyr closer. Is there just a bit of a closer examination there? Some speculative assessing of the young man's condition? Perhaps. But if so, he doesn't immediately comment on it. Instead, he starts with a non sequitur, in the form of a polite inquiry. "Egg touching this morning?"

Stefyr steps into the room as he's waved in, carefully stepping around the piles of … stuff. His eyes go over the items but either he's not really taking them in or he just doesn't have the energy to have questions about them, which is perhaps a sign that something deeply troubling the inquisitive young man. When he gets closer to the rider, his eyes return to him in time to catch the inquiry. A little bob of the blond's head is answer, but he adds aloud, "Yes, sir." The formality is new. Maybe it's because of their last encounter or maybe it's because formality lets people stay at a distance, or maybe it's just that they're working right now and Stefyr is a candidate. The young man's blue gaze flicks to the things on the floor and back to N'on. Normally, this would be the moment for deflection in the guise of an inquiry, but he doesn't even do that. He just waits silently.

N'on looks Stefyr over, thoughtfully. When he clearly has nothing more to say about it, N'on takes that as a cue to leave it alone. Instead, he takes a deep breath, and launches into a series of signs accompanied by a very solemn expression. "I'm sorry I yelled at you for signing. It was unfair. Most people don't try. I'm happy you are learning."

As Stefyr watches, his hands sneak into his pockets, body language self-conscious. It doesn't stop that his words are somewhat at odds with that and the way he rocks onto his heels. "No, it's… Fine." He makes a face that indicates some variety of discontent (probably with himself, his failure to have the right words). He tries again. "I can see where, for you, it would be frustrating. I just got used to doing it for the Harpers is all." And he's done explaining that since he seems to realize he's covering ground already done between them. One hand escapes his pocket and comes up to rub across his face. The motion only highlights the way he has darker circles under his eyes that aren't bruises, this time. He shrugs and then moves to lean against a set of shelves before turning back to N'on. "I don't know what's wrong with me. I've-" He struggles to find words, the right words. "-never felt things this big. All these things. My life was— I don't know. It wasn't small, but it wasn't this big. There weren't dragons or Weyrwomen or eggs or possibilities for a whole other life where the only things that are familiar are only just familiar enough to make the memories hurt." And then a gusty exhale as lips pinch flat, "Sorry," he bites out a moment later. "This isn't your problem." It's definitely all Stefyr's.

N'on starts to lift his hands to answer Stefyr's first explanation, but he stops and drops his hands to listen when Stefyr volunteers more information. If anything, the solemn expression shifts toward genuine sympathy. He waits to make sure Stefyr is really watching, then signs, "Don't be sorry for feelings." Then, after only a hesitation, he adds, "I can listen…" His expression turns more tentative as he ventures a guess: "Homesick?"

Stefyr is good about really listening, whether that's with his eyes or his ears, and even when he's in a funk, so it doesn't take long for his eyes to show N'on that the rider has his full attention. Something in what's signed to him makes a wry smile steal briefly across his lips. "I bet everyone thinks you're a good listener because your interruptions are limited. Do you like to listen? Or do you just—?" He shrugs. Do it because he has to? Ignore people when they think N'on is listening? He doesn't finish the sentence but it could be any of those things. The young man shifts to get a little more comfortable against the shelves, testing before giving it all his not inconsiderable weight; the last thing he needs today is a concussion. The emotional one already hurts badly enough. "Homesick is part of it. I mean, I'm not…" He stops again. Shards but feelings are hard. He tries again. "After touching the eggs today, I have… no regrets about leaving home. No regrets about getting this," a hand indicates the shoulder knot. "I didn't know. I didn't know." How dragons, even half-made ones in the shell could be. "Leirith is something else again, even when she's being the softer version of herself. But the eggs…" His eyes go distant and glassy and he's having to straighten up to try to swallow away the thickness that precedes an escape of tears he won't allow. "I want to be here. Doing this." Another gesture to the knot. It implies a lot more. And there's still the unsaid but hanging in the air.

N'on looks genuinely surprised by Stefyr's observation. "You ask questions people don't ask," he observes, with a wry tilt to his lips. But in answer to the question, he simply signs, "I like people." He seems content to leave it at that, leaning a hip against a nearby surface as he settles in to listen. There's a touch of understanding when Stefyr mentions the eggs, and he smiles faintly. "Eggs are difficult," he signs, slowly. He glances to the side, as though considering the wisdom of his next words, but he does continue. "I nearly quit. After first touching."

"Ye-ah." It's so emphatic an agreement about eggs that it might be funny, except that it's not because Stefyr is looking a little like his mind can't quite grasp it all, a little like a shipwreck victim washing up on an unknown, foreign shore. He leans a little bit toward the older man in interest. He doesn't speak immediately, but after a measured moment of silence, he tilts his head a little and does ask, "Will you tell me?" Presumably, about his own experience. "I'm not sure I'll know all the words, but I'll try to keep up." He is vastly improved with all his time spent with the Harpers, but vocabulary takes time, particularly if it's specialized vocabulary. Stupid words.

N'on nods a little, but he doesn't launch right into an explanation. It takes time to communicate complicated ideas with a limited vocabulary! "The eggs…" He stops after that single sign, brow furrowing. Stupid words, indeed. They've long been N'on's enemy, that's for sure. He manages to continue, haltingly, "Eggs are mind mirrors. It took everything inside me…" He taps his temple to clarify what he means. "Took and broke it open. Saw everything." He smiles, ruefully, and adds, "I was afraid. Thought babies shouldn't see those things."

Maybe N'on doesn't like Stefyr flapping his hands at him, but maybe the greenrider can understand why Stefyr chooses to unpocket his hands to echo "Broke it open," with a gesture toward his heart, himself. Sometimes it's too hard to admit to things aloud. He doesn't otherwise interrupt. "I like to listen," he murmurs after a moment. "I'm sure your-" he signs Zhelinath's name because he still can't pronounce it, wha-wha, "-can listen, and you probably have… people?" He suggests, but doesn't assume, with a little lift of his brows. "But if you ever… I like to listen," which may be different than N'on's liking of people. "What were the eggs like? Your eggs. The ones from your clutch." Stupid, stupid words. Correction, correction, correct.

N'on grins back at Stefyr, his eyes glimmering with pleased amusement. "Zhelinath," he agrees, with a nod. "Weyrmate. People." He lifts a shoulder. "You are a good person. Thank you." The question of his own clutch's eggs is a much bigger one, that requires a more complicated answer. "Each different," he signs, carefully. "Some pleasant. Some not… One attacked us." Since that clearly requires explanation, he adds, "Grabbed. Pulled bad memories. Laughed at them." He shakes off the memory of that experience with a clear shudder, and gestures back to Stefyr. "How are yours?"

"Only sometimes," Stefyr replies dryly, of being a good person, but he probably couldn't prove he's not (YET). Still, it's not a topic to linger on, just a quip in answer. He listens with a thoughtful expression as N'on describes, a grimace in empathy stealing across his lips before he has to consider his own, the ones out there now. Laying in wait for his return. "Ilyscaeth is very proud of them." He hedges at first, maybe still deciding. "They sound somewhat like yours. One kept me from breathing." DEATH BY EGG. NOT TERRIFYING AT ALL." He reaches up a hand to swipe it through short, blond hair this time. There's a silence long enough that makes it seem he might not speak again, but after a few moments, he murmurs. "One took my breath in a whole other way."

N'on nods knowingly at the breath thing. Not even surprised. Shouldn't it be more worrying that it's this common for eggs to attempt homicide? Apparently not! Because N'on seems more interested in the last sentence. His head tilts in a quizzical parody of curiosity, and he gestures Stefyr to go on, with an added sign to request clarification. "How?"

Stefyr's hands find his pockets again. It's definitely a tell of nerves or discomfort or something, maybe just strong feelings he's trying to keep hidden in there. Pockets are big enough for feelings this big, right? "I'm not sure I really have words for it." A pause. "I thought I was in love once. But the feeling of that doesn't even begin to compare to what this one egg made me feel. What it asked. What it wanted. What it showed me." He shuts his mouth a moment. "There was… something I need there. Something I didn't know I needed. Didn't even know I was missing something that feels so… essential. Now I just feel…" He lets his hands slip from his pockets to shrug wide in some attempt to explain in motion. "Empty. Lost. Lacking. Hollow." He tries out words because once more the right ones are proving elusive.

Evangeline moves into the store room, from the kitchens.
Evangeline has arrived.

N'on and Stefyr are lounging in one of the very back-most store rooms. The room is filled with a variety of strange equipment, all showing signs of damage or age. Theoretically, they are 'working', but in actuality, they're sitting and chatting. Stefyr is chatting, anyway. N'on is listening and signing. He nods slowly to whatever Stefyr was saying, and then offers a signed, "I see that feeling." Whatever that means. "Won't feel it forever."

Stefyr's expression briefly shows heartache of an uncommon kind; lovesick? Something that combines awe with hopelessness at any rate. He simply shakes his head to what N'on signs to him. "I don't feel like it's something I'll forget or get over anytime soon." The ghost of a frown touches his lips, "Though there's not much that can be done about any of it, I guess. The eggs will grow at their own pace and short of handing in my knot," his hand moves unconsciously in a half-finished protective gesture near his shoulder, "The only thing to do is to go on, somehow. Faranth, but I'm sick of feeling so much." He doesn't suggest he should go home though; after this morning, that would be blasphemy of the worst kind. He pushes off the shelves he had been reclining against and makes half an effort to look around at the items on the floor, but then just looks to N'on with a "do we have to?" face.

You know that saying, the show must go wrong? Well, that seems to be about the day Evangeline is having. The morning events had rocked her, and despite having infirmary duty for the day, she is quietly entering the storeroom. The fact that someone so loud in movement can move with such quiet haste should ring alarm bells for anyone. The only sound is footsteps, slow, methodical steps. The voice is heard; instead of announcing herself, the young lady takes on the quietest steps she can, sitting down outside the door and simply listening. Her head peeks around the corner for a moment, but she is not announcing her presence yet, just watching. Weirdo. Possibly silence is all she has, maybe a lot of things. Watching, brown eyes neutral and curious.

Does N'on notice Evangeline's presence? It doesn't seem so! Then again, he's used to being the creepy silent weirdo, not being stalked by one. He smiles sympathetically back at Stefyr, and glances around the room at the piles of cracked and ruined leather, oversized ropes, wooden debris, and just general mess… And then he shrugs. "Best to send your mind away?" he signs.

"Wish I was splitting wood. Or planting fields. Shell, even milking bovines would be better." Stefyr replies, tone turning churlish, but probably nothing a knock to the head with a wooden spoon wouldn't cure quickly enough. He gives N'on a look like the other man will understand him without him having to explain why any of those tasks would be remotely appealing. Even the creeper at the door should understand. "This isn't going to be the kind of work that makes my mind go blank. Got any of that for us today, Rider N'on?" This time, the title has more wry playfulness to it. It seems Stefyr, at least, is verging on bouncing back from the morning's overload. He doesn't appear to notice Evangeline either. The feeling of being watched though is probably not one that even registers when he lived on a farm with 11 siblings, 15 cousins, and more than a handful of aunts, uncles and parents. Someone was always watching.

Creeping is a new hobby for Evangeline, she is not skilled at it. Leaning towards one side, she knocks over a broom, and it makes a loud bang. "Uh." She says, before merely looking at the two men with quiet eyes. No explanation to her actions, no hello. The silence of her presence is all that is there, one hand gives a small half-hearted wave. Her outfit for today is outrageous, a bright chartreuse skirt with the word BOUNTIFUL in big letters on it in yellow thread, and a yellow and green plaid top that buttons to the neck the sleeves going to her forearm. She looks every bit the brightest dressed Victorian school teacher. A blush of embarrassment finds her cheeks, but there's no speaking. Quiet in someone normally chatty could be unnerving.

N'on gives a slow, crooked grin that should probably make someone feel at least a little nervous… But then Evangeline knocks over the broom, and the clatter causes the greenrider to give a bit of a start, eyes wide as he jerks a look in that direction. It's a brief moment before he recovers, with a self-conscious smile, and waves at her. He glances sideways to Stefyr, and signs a quick message. "I have an idea. Tell her. You can both come."

"Hey Evi," is delivered in so casual a way as to suggest that Stefyr is oblivious to creepers all the time and it's no surprise to him to find someone suddenly there. He considers her a moment before looking back to N'on in time to catch N'on's gestures. "She wants to talk to you." DOES SHE? TODAY? He's helpful, see? In the meantime, though, he's going over to Evangeline to— not enfold her in a hug after all, but to seek to take her hand and squeeze it as he uses it to draw her into the room. "Rider N'on," since he's official right now, "says he has an idea and we can both come." Lucky them? The way Stefyr's brow creases means he didn't miss the crooked grin and may be rethinking his impression of N'on's personal character.

Startling N'on somehow startles Evangeline, she jumps after he jumps, but the reaction delayed like maybe she isn't processing things well right now. Watching the hand motions made by N'on Evi stares, not rudely but in the way someone might try and read a foreign restaurant menu. As Stefyr suggests, she somehow has a conversation of any seriousness today; her face fills with horror. Fast shakes of her head are met with her slowly stuttering, "No, no. All if good." All is certainly not good, but she isn't elaborating on it right now. A million better places to be, but she stands up with her arms protectively crossed in front of her. The baby bird is having a rough one. Evi flinches slightly from the contact but allows herself to be drawn into the room by Stefyr. "Oh… Okay, sure. I.. yeah." The absolute heaviness in all of her words, her voice barely audible and flat.

N'on glances between Evangeline and Stefyr with a combination of uncertainty and concern that is… somewhat adorable, even if it's not helping. He seems perfectly willing to be talked to, but when Evangeline declines the opportunity, he doesn't push the issue. He just lingers a moment longer, in case she changes her mind, then gestures for the two Candidates to follow him. He starts for the door, pauses to glance back and see if they're following, and then continues on his way.

Stefyr doesn't miss the flinch and it makes a line appear between his brows. He's come this far though and doesn't immediately drop Evangeline's hand. "Family," he murmurs the single word before giving her hand another little squeeze and letting it go. He does pause long enough before following N'on to give her a look that plainly spells out that he's here, if she needs him. But he's not the sort to press an issue that way or force unwanted touch on someone so he doesn't try to hug her or anything else that might be uncomfortable. Then he's following the greenrider dutifully, staying a step or two behind him with his long-legged saunter.

Evangeline is not pulling her hand from Stefyrs; she is exceptionally stiff, though. Her whole body feels like it's vibrating slightly, the amount of nervous energy she is containing overwhelming her. "Family." She responds with a nod, as they move to follow N'on her face is all apprehension mixed with quiet pain. As they go, she throws her hand out, trying to find Stefyrs. "Where are we going?" She stage whispers, her mouth searches for a smile every few steps to make her look ok. Evi's shorter legs mean she might be holding Stefyr back, but if he allows, she will hold onto his hand like a lifeline. "Is this safe, Steyfr?" Because you know, N'on is a kidnapper.

N'on does overhear the 'is it safe' question. He turns around, walking backwards up the hallway that leads out of the storage room. Since he has a handy-dandy interpreter there, he takes advantage of it to sign an answer. "You're meeting the weyr's herds. Tell her." He almost immediately decides that's not enough context, and starts adding signs for animals, probably hoping that at least some of them will be something Stefyr has learned. "Bovine. Ovine. Porcine. Wher…" He beams an encouraging smile, and adds. "Farm."

Stefyr's hand is easy to find. Still there at the end of his wrist. To discover otherwise would be more than disconcerting. His callused hand once grasped, curls all large and reassuring around Evangeline's smaller one. He gives another squeeze and doesn't seek to reclaim it. He'll even slow down a little to keep a better pace with her, his legs are longer than N'on's anyway. "No idea," where they're going. "I'm sure it's fine. I trust N'on." He knows perfectly well the greenrider can hear them, of course. And it's not as though the big blond really has great reasons to do so, yet, but he does. Let's face it, though, his trusting track record includes getting on Leirith in the feeding grounds for his first ever flight on dragonback. Stefyr's sense of trust may be questionable at best, but he sure does look confident about it. WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Of course, to be fair, he says this while N'on is signing to him. For a moment, the young man's face takes on a look of feigned inncent confusion, like he's not going to translate, testing to see if this will make N'on's expression go amused or annoyed, but then he does, "N'on says, 'We're going to work with animals.'" He casts a glance back to the greenrider, assessing again of whether or not paraphrases will be acceptable when Stefyr serves as his mouthpiece.

For her part, Evi is keeping pace, as well as anyone can expect, given her state of dress at all times. The squeeze from Stefyr is met with a small squeeze back, the slightest twitch of her fingers to indicate she is still there. Watching N'on sign, her eyes immediately go to Stefyr, nodding her head. "Ok. I like animals." She's a 15 turn old girl. As far as trust goes, she must trust N'on because she came with him. Going with him now is natural for her because despite not knowing all the ins and outs of the search process, she came. She is here because he brought her, and maybe what happened today with the eggs is somehow in a roundabout way his fault. But if N'on gets to be responsible for all the bad things that happen in candidacy, then he might also get to be accountable for all the good. Because of N'on she is holding Stefyr's hand, and that can't be all wrongright? "What does." Her one hand makes a sloppy motion, probably trying to make the sign for ovine. "Mean?" She asks, looking from the backward walking N'on to Stefyr.

N'on rolls his eyes at Stefyr's game-playing. They can have a Conversation about that later. With a capital 'C'. But for now, he's keeping things light because traumatized Candies. With a thumbs up for both of them, he turns and focuses his attention back on the path he's on. So he doesn't walk into a wall. And they're off to the feeding grounds!

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