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Xanadu Weyr - Secluded Alcove
A twisting, darkly mulched pathway, leads through a densely wooded area off to a set of wooden beams grown into the landscape to form a set of rustic stairs. Each one covered in a bit of leafy moss here and there. Just beyond the path opens up into a romantic secluded garden cut into the wilds themselves. The aromatic scent of the woods is enhanced by the restful sound of a small waterfall splashing over a natural rock formation down into a mountain spring that feeds other water required points of interest elsewhere. Huge mossy covered boulders surround the scene, sparse flowering trees and bushes darting the background with their pale pink blossoms.
A few benches are set off in private areas here and there for the murmured discussion of lovers. Visitors are encouraged to take a swim in the pond, or lounge on the velvety carpeted mossy rock encasing the body itself. Several large flat stones stand alone just inside, allowing one to sit and refresh themselves by sinking perhaps just their legs into the fresh cool water.


It's late afternoon - not quite time for dinner, but not that far from it. Or maybe it is time for dinner, and Soriana just hasn't noticed yet. Except a brief appearance crossing clearing and caverns, she wasn't really seen much earlier today - but she's spent the last couple of hours poking her head into things. The weyr offices. The archives. The infirmary. The craft complex. The observation level. There have been brief conversations, but she hasn't really stuck around in any of those places before wandering on to her next destination, which… also hasn't satisfied her. It's like she's looking for something - or someone - but if so, she hasn't told anyone about it. She's ended up in the gardens, which… probably aren't what she's looking for either, but at this point, she's kind of tired of trying, so she's wandered back through them and ended up here by the waterfall. She watches the water flow for a moment, her lips quirked up to one side in a rueful almost-smile, then sighs and turns to lean back against one of the boulders, closing her eyes. Where to next? She's not sure. Give her a moment to think.

Late afternoon. It's taken from this morning, when he woke with a head that felt like it's been cracked in two, to now to finally feel like a human being again. And that's after a lot of water and a lot of laying down. Ka'el has been out of his office for the better part of the day, unable to do much but growl and squint and being generally good for nothing other than .. well. Growling and squinting and running from his own thoughts. He's hidden himself in random places. Within the tallest reaches of the clocktower until the ticking nearly drove him insane. Upon the meadow ridge until the local weyrbrats claimed the place for a game. He even sought refuge in the observatory, but the babble of tech and starcrafters proved too much. Is there no place he can find prolonged solace? This is how he finds himself here, moving down the tangled path within the garden area that seems to lead him away from places that see a constant stream of visitors. Has he found solitude at last? Maybe, though he's not even sure if that's what he really seeks. Ears have been open. Eyes have sought glances. But he's seen neither hide nor hair of the recently risen Weyrwoman junior (And he hasn't bothered asking anyone). Maybe she remains in the guest weyr? But why would she stay there? Maybe he should go check…what if she needs help? Or maybe she's there because she wants to stay there? He steps into the alcove while rubbing his temples, brows furrowed and eyes squinted. "Shards…" It's more of a groan than a spoken word, and his hand falls from his head and eyes open soon after, revealing.. Shards. He stops in his tracks, for there some yards ahead, is Soriana.

They must have both crossed the clearing, but evidently, they did it at different times, because Soriana didn't see Ka'el. Or maybe her eyes were shut, like they are now. But… no, she didn't stay in the guest weyr. She didn't stay much of anywhere. She saw other people. Other people saw her. But Ka'el didn't ask them that, so… they didn't tell him. Now? She's here. In what should be a quiet place, with nothing but the soft music of the waterfall and the rustling of branches. It's doing the quiet thing pretty well at first. Calm and peaceful, and Soriana - eyes closed - relaxes, at least a little. The footsteps are quiet enough to be muffled beneath the sounds of the waterfall. The spoken word, though… not as much. Her eyes snap open, and look to, "Kale." It's a sight that makes her push off from the rock, taking eager steps toward him. She found him. (He found her?) But whatever, he's here, and… he… doesn't entirely look happy, if she's to judge from the furrowed brow and squinty eyes. Which, well… her steps slow, and the smile that appeared on her face with seeing him grows a little uncertain, even as she continues toward him.

For a handful of seconds, Ka'el doesn't know what to do. She's there, here, and she looks…like maybe he should leave her alone. Because she looks peaceful, and this place is so very beautiful, and maybe she's waiting for someone to join her here. A someone who she woke up in bed with this morning and didn't cause her to go to the infirmary. Maybe it was even a pleasant thing, waking up. He slightly blanches at the thought, head still slightly achy from residual effects of far too much drinking. In the seconds that have passed, he hasn't moved an inch. Deer in headlights. Which way to run? Towards or away? He's snapped out of his indecisiveness by her voice carrying his name, and he blinks before stepping forward, moving further in and towards her. She's smiling. He does the same, warm yet vaguely cautious. Unsure. Is he welcome here? Even if he isn't, if she casts him away to seek solitude or, Faranth forbid, the company and arms of another, he has to at least have this one worry soothed. "Baby…" he greets, smile slipping from his face now as his eyes dart over her face. Arms. Legs. Whatever clothing doesn't cover. "Are you alright?"

He's heard her, and he's coming closer. And Ka'el is smiling. Okay, so it's not exactly an untroubled smile, but then again, Soriana's pretty sure hers isn't untroubled either - because she sure isn't. It doesn't matter (not right now), because it's still a smile. So he's not mad at her, which is enough to bring Soriana out of those paused steps and into almost a run as she hurries toward him. The summery weather means exposed limbs, and Ka'el's worried gaze will see nothing of injuries. There's no marks in red or blue on the legs that carry her to meet him - nor on the arms that seek to wrap around him so she can bury her head against his shoulder and press close. No signs of injury, and yet she doesn't answer his question immediately. Being close to him is more important. Reminding herself of the feel of him. Being alright? There's a few breaths taken before she answers, muffled against his shirt. "…yeah."

Sori. His Soriana. His Soriana, still? Yes, of course… Maybe not. The sides of Ka'el's brain are at war with each other even as his arms close in around her, enveloping her against him, squeezing her as if the chance will never present itself for him to do so again. She's fine. She's fine, right? Her legs are fine. Her arms are fine. No battered muscles or bruised skin. No apparent injury at all. No limping or unhappy expressions. She's perfectly fine, and he doesn't know the name of the feeling that curls like ashen smoke in his stomach, rising up to flood his chest, as he realizes this. Happiness. Sadness. Joy. Utter shame. It could've been anyone. He hadn't stopped long enough in his wandering to listen to rumor or ask for details to know who the rider was or where he was from. Local or foreign? He has no clue. He has no clue if he's a red-head or blonde. Burly or thin. Tall or short. Hell, he doesn't even know if it was a man. But he does know this: This random stranger or random face in the Xanadu crowd brought no harm to her at all. Ka'el himself? He broke her. Brows furrow as he a frown curves his lips, unseen as long as her head is buried against him and his against her hair, inhaling her scent. She smells like her. A familiar aroma. He expected…the lingering scent of a man. A musky reminder. "I'm sorry."

The smell of Soriana… and soapsand. That part is because she spent hours in the bathing caverns this morning; it's where she went, after she left the guest weyr, and stayed there until her skin turned wrinkly. Past then, until… well, until it was nearly lunchtime and she could expect the crowds to start appearing. That's why she left, not because she was done, exactly. But she's washed and now she's here, pressed close to Kale and held by him - oh, yes, his arms around her, those are good. If those expressions war on his face, she doesn't see them, because she's too busy with the holding and the being held. That frown… no, she doesn't see it. She feels his arms around her. The breaths before her answer are followed by a slower one, after, and she lifts up her head - slowly, unhurried in contrast to the steps to close the distance - to look at him. Now she studies his face, examines his expression… he's sorry. "Why?" It's not that she can't think of a reason. It's that she can think of more than one possibility, and she doesn't know which… but none of them are reason enough to stop holding him, so… she doesn't.

His grip upon her fails to lessen even as her head begins to rise from his chest. Ka'el pulls his back just enough to look her in the eyes, his expression troubled. Relieved. Worried. Why is he sorry? What is he sorry for? "For not bein' there," he answers, brows now furrowing. If he was there, so much could have happened. He could have prevented her from waking up next to a stranger, possibly. (Or non stranger, for all he knows). But if he had been there and Kanekith had been successful … it could've been deja vu. The same sordid song, different season. Her skin wouldn't be uninjured as it is now. Her trust, re-shattered. So should he be sorry? He's sorry.. "For bein' there the first time," he continues, lips pressing. "I'm sorry that it wasn't like this the first time. It should've been. You … never should've had to go through what you did because of me. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't reach out for you earlier. I should've asked Kanekith to find you. I didn't know if it'd be .. strange to look for you after … that. I didn't know if you'd want me to look for you or call to you." He's sorry for a great many things.

Yeah, well, Soriana doesn't want him to stop holding her, so she's good with that. She just also wants to see his face now. While he answers, and also… just because. Not being there… she gives a slight nod. Luraoth's thoughts surely reached Kanekith, but… "It wasn't…" like she announced it ahead of time. Like there was anything planned about this. "…your fault." That Kanekith didn't chase. Or - contrariwise - that he did, that first time. Her lips curve into a faint frown for that part of the apology/explanation. But, still. "It's… flights. The dragons." It's not because of Ka'el. It's because… of Kanekith, last time, and Luraoth, both times, and… "I don't…" She frowns, gaze drifting down to his shoulder, then up again. "This wasn't good." But she said she was alright. "That" the first time "wasn't good either." She makes a face, an unhappy one. "I don't like this." Any of this. She tightens her arms around him for a moment, not that they've relaxed all that much in general. Still. "I didn't ask Luraoth either." A shrug, and then a half-smile. "I've just been looking." Her fingers trail down along his back partway, then stop, smile fading. "I didn't know what you'd… think." Of her. After the flight.

Right. Flights can never be planned. No invitations can be sent out. Notices to be ready and meet at a certain day and time and place. They just happen, and Kanekith wasn't ready for this one. Too conflicted. Too torn between lust and the loyal instinct to stay and protect what is his. His eggs. His golden mate. It's no one's fault that he wasn't there. It's no one's fault that Luraoth chose to rise again. It's … flights, like she says. The dragons. They're the ones calling the shots. His frown remains as she continues to speak, the question burning on his tongue: What do you mean it wasn't good? Anger flares almost immediately, shown in the creases of his face as conclusions are hastily jumped to even though the statement could have a plethora of meanings. He fails to hold back his words. "Did he say something to you? Did he do something?" He already checked and she already assured him, but still he looks her over quickly without pulling away an inch, seeking sign of injury he might've missed before. He realizes now that he doesn't even know who the guy is. What if he's a bully? One of those stereotyped bronze riders who use and abuse and care little for anything but themselves? His eyes continue to dart but soon seek hers again, his mind registering her worry a minute later than it should. What he'd think? Can he supress his anger long enough to answer? "…Did you hate me after Seryth's?"

Once again, Ka'el's eyes search, and once again, they find no signs of injury. Oh, maybe there's something if he searched inch by inch, but certainly nothing like… She doesn't look away from the anger, but she shakes her head to his questions. Not the saying, not the doing, it's just- "He was… like… it was nothing." The waking up next to each other. The flight. No, wait, not that. It wasn't nothing, it was… "He enjoyed it." He said as much, and Soriana echoes that. "Thanked me for the… pleasant evening." His words, not hers, and it's obvious in her tone. "And I just… it's the dragons." Not her. She didn't want him, that rider. Luraoth wanted his lifemate. That's all. Soriana's uneasiness shows in her face, and when her eyes meet with Ka'el's again, she shakes her head for his question. "No." She didn't. "I was… upset." Almost-literally, like her emotions got tossed up into the air and tumbled down every which way. "But I didn't hate you. Or her." Thea. Or Seryth, it works either way.

Enjoyment? Ka'el looks almost confused by the word. One can enjoy the effects of a flight? … He …supposes so. Perhaps a miniscule speck of himself can understand if somehow, two lovers were entwined in a flight and woke up with each other in tangled embrace, bodies throbbing only from passion, not pain. Maybe then. If flights ever end that way. But this flight didn't. This faceless guy from a faceless place sounds like a stranger. Two strangers waking in the most vulnerable of settings. And … it was enjoyed? The evening, pleasant? Each uttrance strengthens Ka'el's quiet rage. "Is this rider one of ours?" He's not sure what he hopes the answer to be. In either case, what could he do? He couldn't rightly punish any Xanadu rider for his flight actions with his girlfriend. It was a flight, and even the aftermath of one and the comments said behind closed doors cannot be held against anyone. And if it's a visitor, then any hasty personal-stemmed action from him may be the catalyst to cross-weyr problems. He's a Weyrleader now. He can't overreact…He can't think only of himself. Shit. His grip from her loosens a little but doesn't fall away, only lessening his death-grip upon her body. "I don't hate you," he assures. "I…tried not thinkin' about it. I didn't want to think about you bein' with…somebody because when I do…it pisses me off. Thinking about it makes me want to put my fist in everything I see. I don't hate you, but I hate flights and what they do."

It seems possible. If strength were controlled, held in check - if enough mindfulness were retained - then sure, a flight could be enjoyed. Soriana's blurred memories of them are sure she enjoys them in the moment, with an animal-instinct sort of pleasure that doesn't translate to her more conscious and human self. But after… the pain of too much wildness or the awareness of what she did are both the opposite of pleasure, in different ways. It's… icky. Soriana felt… like she had to bathe for three hours, so she did, but it only sort of helped. She shakes her head to his question. "No. From Fort." Not one of Xanadu's riders, not someone Ka'el could… well. He couldn't anyhow. But maybe Soriana could argue with V'dim (again) about what goes in a proper mating flights lecture… if it were a Xanadu rider, but it isn't. A visitor from Fort, chance-come to the southern continent and finding a glowing gold. Catching a glowing gold. And so… here they are. "So'l." Soriana knows his name, at least. Well, she does now. She didn't before, when she dragged him off to… do what Ka'el doesn't want to think about. She has his arms around her, but there's still a bit of worry in her gaze until he answers her. He doesn't hate her. Good. He tried not to think about it? She smiles a half-smile without amusement, because she can guess how well that works. (Not at all.) She's not angry like he is, but she does understand, and so when he says how he hates flights, she nods her firm agreement as her arms tighten around him once more. "Yeah."

Fort. So'l. Ka'el doesn't know many Fortians, and the name isn't a familiar one. But he does know a small handful, some of which are riders. Maybe a bit of information about this … So'l…can be gathered, if needed. This guy will likely be a lengthy temporary face on Xanadu, much to his chagrin. Someone who'll be around until eggs come to be. And keep her company on the sands after they are clutched. And when a cot is required for her comfort, he'll be there to help set it up for her and be helpful and charming and she'll perhaps begin to think differently about a man who can handle flight lust and is there when she needs him and hasn't given her reason to cringe away from him, be it from pain or fear. And maybe he isn't the jealous type who causes awkward and tense and angry feelings between friends in the stands due to massaging hands. And… The 'ands' are endless. They could go on and on if he lets them, allowing long buried worries and insecurities to rise from the dead like decomposed bodies. But he can't. They've come too far to let this one…big…thing ruin them. "You're mine," he says, lips frowning, brows furrowed. "You're mine." The turns have taught him to be passive with his possessiveness of her. (Not that that's always worked, but…) She's not a thing to be owned. Not an object to lay claim to. She's said it before. Her expressions have voiced it louder than words ever could. But in this moment, he doesn't care. He needs to hear it, and maybe so does she. He leans his head in closer to hers, lips hovering short centimeters away. "He can't have you." The words are spoken in a focused whisper, and his lips find hers in a hard kiss afterward. A heated, wanting kiss like he pined to have the previous night, forced into submission by alcohol. But there's nothing to stop him now, for the recipient is exactly the person he wants it to be. His Soriana. His, alone.

Oh, yeah, So'l is likely to be around. Soriana's already spoken to him about it - how he should ask about doing temporary duties with the wings here, talk to his wingleader at Fort and work things out. Sharuth will want that, and in this - as with other matters concerning flights - riders oblige their dragons. That's why Soriana will be in the stands to keep Luraoth company, and So'l, well… the future is yet to be seen. What's known is past and present, the things - big and small - that have gotten them to here and now. The things… Soriana isn't a thing, but she doesn't object to Ka'el's statement. Not this time. His? His arms are around her. His body is against hers. He's the one she came looking for, the one she ran toward and put her arms around. He doesn't own her - she can choose where to spend her time, does choose - and that's the point. She didn't choose So'l. She does choose Ka'el. There's other people she chooses, for other things. Decisions she makes of who to work with and who to get lunch with and, yes, who to get massages from - but for this, the one she's chosen is Ka'el. And he hates flights - but not her - and he still wants her. That much is obvious from his statement, from the furrowed intensity with which he makes it. She's not a prize to be fought over, but in this fight… she's on Ka'el's side. Or maybe he's on hers. So, yeah. She can be - "Mine." An echo of his word, only now she's the one saying it. The meaning changes, because it's not just an agreement. It's Ka'el who's hers. The one she chooses. Even though she's learned that his jealousy can lead to angry words and fights, times when what she thinks something means and what he thinks it means are different. Times when there's a question of whether massaging hands or lunch together are just that or something more, and Soriana says with words and expressions that she is the one who decides what those actions mean to her. Not Ka'el… and not Luraoth, either. So, yes. So'l spent the night with Soriana as Sharuth twined with Luraoth. Can he have her? "Shards no," she breathes as her lips press to Ka'el's, kissing him with eager intensity that says, louder than words, the same. Her Ka'el.


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