The Fate of Fools

Xanadu Weyr - Shore of Lake Caspian
The cliffs that run along the shore come and go, various weyrs nestled along the tops of them or dug into the walls, but eventually they recede enough to expose a beach. The white sand echoes the rise and fall of the cliffs with a multitude of sandy dunes, endlessly creating tiny valleys that are constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of dragons. The dunes smooth out as the gentle slope approaches the edge of the deep blue water. The sand darkens, and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect.
The beach narrows to the southwest, leaving a path barely wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to a smaller, more sheltered cove. The sands are the same white, the waters the same blue, but they're calmer and more tranquil, more protected from the winds that ruffle Lake Caspian and the currents that tug beneath the surface.
Rough, wide stairs lead up to the meadow above and the road that runs along the top of the cliffs, passing through the fields and heading for the river mouth that can be just barely seen from here. The largest of the staircases up the cliff is located near the docks that jut out onto the peaceful blue waters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~< +Today Report (Xanadu Weyr) >~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: Day 13 of Month 0 of Turn 2723

Time of Day: Hour 10 - Mid-Morning

Season: Summer

Late morning, not quite time for lunch for most. A light breeze blowing off the water. All in all a fairly nice day in Xanadu. Candidates are allowed breaks, right? Approved or not that's what Katailea is about, slipping away from the caverns and the chores and the what-ever-else to walk along the beach, sandals in hand. No real direction, no purpose in destination.

It may look like he's doing nothing but in reality, Keruthien's just finished with his morning tasks! Which probably involved being holed up somewhere and now he's looking to get some sun and fresh air before he's sucked away again for something else. He's wearing his usual utilitarian clothing, sans any unusual additions like the other day - it doesn't mean he hasn't taken to wearing that "not-a skirt" now and again! Just not practical, even if incredibly amusing, for most day-to-day work. Stifling a yawn with one hand, he'll use the same one to idly wave as Katailea comes into view. "Oh hey!" he greets, broad grin in place. "Settling in any better?"

A dragon shadow passes overhead, which wasn't uncommon at a weyr, but this one grows larger and all too soon reveals the originator as a green lands on the far end of the lake. Cherith was a foreign beast to say the least, for there was no way she didn't stand out with her coloring, folding her luminescent wings against her body before shaking it out but not enough to dislodge her rider. Soon deposited to the ground, a young man in his late teens drops down, giving the bottom half of his jacket a tug before adjusting the courier bag slung across his body. "Landings are getting better," M'ti grins at his lifemate, receiving a soft chuff and an indignant nose thrust into the air for the compliment taken as insult, but the greenrider just chuckles and gives that long slender neck a loving pat.

Katailea catches that movement and the greeting, sending a wave back as the gap between the closes. "I'd like to say yes," she replies with a wry smile. "I mean I guess so, if you mean finding places," she clarifies poking fun at herself for all those times she's been turned around since her arrival. "How about you? I mean the whole candidate thing. That's got to be different for you too. Yeah?" That shadow's arrival finds her lifting a hand to shield her eyes briefly as she sends a look towards that arriving dragon and then back to Keruthien for his answer.

"You'll get the hang of it! Helps that half the chores they'll throw at you have you going back and forth through most of the common spots. Just try not to wander too deep in the forests, eh?" Keruthien's grin turns crooked, as he lightly jokes on their last encounter in the unlikeliest of places! There's a shake of his head and a rueful shrug of his shoulders. "Nah, I've done the whole Candidacy thing before. Not here but it's kind of the same?" His hand tilts in the undecided gesture, only to drop as he's distracted by the landing green. "… hold on a sec." He squints, thinks about it, then peers even more at the rider who dismounts. Then, without warning: "Oh! HEY!" An eager wave, a bright grin and then an aside to Katailea in far more reasonable volume levels. "I know that guy!" That guy. So charming, this one!

M'ti hadn't noticed the candidates at all, having moved on to inadvertently dropping offensive commentary to tugging at his lifemate's straps with the intent not to adjust them but remove them entirely, "Phew, much warmer here than Fort…" he mutters aloud, but really who was he talking to? Cherith appeared to be thoroughly affronted and ignoring him, stepping away the moment her riding gear is off and into the lake she goes without so much as single glance backwards. The greenrider doesn't seem to mind though, rolling up the gray straps that were undeniably gray and were likely still the ones that had been used in weyrlinghood. It's the 'HEY' called over that alerts him to the presents of people further down the beach and so M'ti straightens and peers over, but about three seconds of silent staring later his expression falls to wide eyed and with that recognition comes an instant pinking of cheeks. Yep, just like that, as if someone had snapped their fingers and thus a blush had appeared. Awkwardly, the greenrider stands there, and then just as awkwardly waves back. Notably, he's not going anywhere, nope. Instead he just goes right back to what he was doing, albeit a great deal more stiffly.

Katailea nods, "Yeah, that part isn't so bad anymore," she replies, only to laugh at the recommendation on forest wandering. "I'll try not to without a proper escort," the blond teases back. As to candidacy, "You have? Where?" curious of that. "I don't know that I could do it twice," the comment made only to have her attention drawn back towards the green and her rider. "Of course you do," she returns.

Keruthien chuckles a little under his breath. "I mean, unless you wanna get lost? Sometimes it leads to the best of discoveries." Don't listen to his terrible advice! He's full of it, as well as contradictory statements. His lips curve into a mischievous smirk and he merely dodges that question playfully. "The 'where' doesn't matter! And I didn't go through with it, the first time. Why couldn't you do it twice? Y'gonna age out?" Leave it to him too, to be so blunt as to question a young woman's age directly to her face! He practically twinkles when she doesn't seem surprised by his recognition of the greenrider, though from anyone looking in, one has to wonder! Since M'ti is… still over there. So cue some furious waving from Ruthien, along with a 'get over here!' gesture. At least he's not yelling his intentions?

Despite or perhaps in relation to the greenrider's presumed intention to pretend that he no longer existed, he is all too aware of the two pairs of eyes on him, too far away to guess what they might be talking about but not so distant that he might miss the fact that they were in fact conversing. At least, so it appeared out of the corner of his eye. Having rolled those straps up way tighter than they needed to be, he makes a point of taking his time setting them aside somewhere they won't get ruined, unfortunately spotting the come hither gestures of a certain someone. "Great," he exhales, launching a dark look towards the water for the glittering whirling facets that peek up at him from the direction of the lake and under much protest throws on his best game face and starts to unhurriedly making his way towards the candidates. "Oh, Keruthien, was that you?" he lies through his teeth, laughing in a way that is strained and totally unconvincing, "How have you been?" Notably, the greenrider was keeping a good amount of space between himself and the candidates, which only makes it look all the more suspicious. "Fort's greetings to Xanadu and her queens," he extends to Kataliea, bobbing his head a bit just to send a couple tendrils of his hair into his face, sweeping the locks back quickly but there's a nervousness to it that stands out, "I'm M'ti, rider of green Cherith." Not looking at Keruthien, nopity-nope-nope, all his attention was for now focused on the young woman while managing a halfway decent smile towards her.

"There is that," Katailea agrees with a grin. "But still could be more fun to discover with someone. "Where is still a valid question. And if you didn't go through with it can you really count it?" Icy green eyes roll to cut a look at Keruthien at that question of age (or it could be at his general over enthusiasm). "As if!" That's a distinct no on that. "But the eggs…" she shakes her head just a bit. "Is it always like that?" He did just say he had experience with the candidate thing before. M'ti earns a bright smile as he joins them, "Katailea," she offers her own name in return along with a questioning look for the awkwardness emanating from him. She could just ask, but she's more subtle at least for now. Though the next comment is directed more towards Keruthien, "See, now Fort I might have more of a chance at not getting lost."

"Well, I'd like to count it? Since I agreed but it was just some poor decisions on my part that got myself injured. Hard lessons 'n all that," Keruthien shrugs his shoulders, as dismissive as ever while his tone remains utterly positive in some degree. "Yeah, the eggs…" Woah, did his expression just shift a little there? Ruthien looks troubled for a fleeting heartbeat, before he's right back to grinning like a fool. "Well, what I've heard is no clutch is ever quite the same! So I can't say? My memory is foggy from the last time but I wasn't expecting that as a welcome!" Seriously. That one dark egg? Broke him. Made him cry! Not that he's admitting it here and now. OH LOOK! M'ti has joined them, awkward as ever and that's something Ruthien sinks his claws into. "Never better! Same old, really. You? Cherith looked uh…" He was going for 'happy' only to realize that was somehow wrong and he catches himself. Ahem. "Looks well! And just a warning, Katailea?" Just like that, his focus is back on his fellow Candidate. "Fort's got a ton of forests too. M'ti, you tell her! You'd know!"

The greenrider's smile grows as Katailea responds so kindly and briefly he relaxes enough that the expression his face really lets the rest of his features shine through and enhance a bit towards the unfair side of the spectrum, for M'ti wasn't anything even close to ugly, "So nice to meet you," he says, blatantly pretending that Keruthien wasn't there to interact with. "Congratulations on candidacy, is it your first time?" Wholly focusing on the female of the candidates and obviously so, there is a twitch as the smithy interjects himself in there well enough to force interaction, though what M'ti expected having asked a question is hard to put a finger on. Hazel eyes have no choice but to glance his direction and while the sparkle fades and his smile seems more painted on than genuine, one can't help but note the second that man was under his gaze that those cheeks pink up slightly darker, "We're both good, thank you for asking." He'll just smooth over that pause with an all too awkward generic response that was far too polite seeing as they appeared to know one another. There's a single blink as Keruthien redirects to Katailea and for a moment M'ti looks like he's on the cusp of being horrified well in advance of whatever was about to come out of the male candidate's mouth. When whatever he was expecting doesn't come? Well, that's sure as heck awkward, and moistening his lips his eyes dart back to the lady while trying to plaster a smile back in place. It's not very effective. "Uh, y-yes. Lots of trees at Fort." Okay, now he was just embarrassed. What did he think Keruthien was going to say?!

Katailea ohs, nodding slightly for the explanation that leaves more questions. At least with M'ti's arrival she'll leave those unasked even if he does get a curious look. But that egg… That was the first one she touched ever and that. "Thank you.. I think, and yes," she replies to M'ti's inquiry with a bob of her head to the affirmative, though she's still going to give him that look of trying to deduce what's what's going on with him. "And I know what Fort's like. I have been there," she adds matter of fact, if a touch sharply towards Keruthien.

What does a Keruthien say? It's not ring-ding-ding, that's for sure. No, it's just a stage whispered aside to Katailea: "Woodcrafter." And then a nod in M'ti's general direction, with an all knowing smile. Awkward? What's awkward!? That's going right over Ruthien's head, right about now, as he looks to sweep them both up into his energetic tendencies (read: craziness). "Wait…" He's completely missed the mark on that sharpness from her, or the fact that M'ti is pointedly not trying to look at him. "You're Fortian? Oh. My mistake then!"

Unaware of the conversation happening before his arrival, M'ti is oblivious, his head tilting otherwise as he lands a curious look on Katailea, "You think?" he asks, "Not going well, or not what you expected?" A drumbeat's wait and that smile blossoms yet again, "I stood at Xanadu my first time, but Cherith found me at Fort." A considering look passes over his face, teeth catching on his lower lip and worrying it a bit, "Eggs can be kinda rough on you, so if that's it, don't try to take it to heart. What you get touching them can be completely different than what comes out at the hatching." Despite the smile on his face, one of the greenrider's eyebrow twitches, because Cherith was definitely not filled with goodness and light. There's a rumble from the water behind them, but M'ti ignores it in favor of Keruthien's stage whisper as he points to his knot, "That's right. Senior apprentice now. Couple more turns and finally a Journeyman." Ugh! Such a long road! There is, however, another darkening of once pale cheeks under the smithy's smile and to save himself the greenrider quickly looks away as he rubs at the back of his own neck as Katailea is sharp and Keruthien doesn't seem to notice, "Uh…" New kind of awkward! Neato!

An 'ah' and a nod for Keruthian's aside, but his guess is followed by laughter. They aren't talking about those eggs anymore and her bright as she shakes her head and giggles. "No, I'm not from there, but I've been there. Stayed longer than most places once awhile back," she goes on to explain. "Looked after a trading stall for a couple sevens and then D'had gave me a lift to the next port," a shrug follows as if that should make perfect sense. "Really?" that's for M'ti's assurance from his own experience with standing for the eggs. "Because if the second one was as terrible as the first I think I might have quit right then." At least she's honest about it? "Congrats on the promotion," offered for the greenrider's note of new title.

Well, if Keruthien wasn't already curious, he definitely is now! "D'had, huh? How do you know him?" WHOOSH. Seriously, he's not usually this thick headed but there's but A LOT going on in the last few days! His poor mind has likely hit capacity, even for one like him. "So… you were a Trader?" Clearly, he still hasn't learned the value of NOT laying on the assumptions. Luckily, before he can dig himself any deeper, M'ti is being a helpful well of resource and experience, which has him grinning and flashing a silent mouthed 'thank you' to the greenrider. Like it was a favour, or something! "Different experiences! I'd say his advice is sound. Don't let one bad touching ruin it. I mean, I think I know which one of the clutch you got, because even I had to, y'know… step back a bit." He cried, folks. Not as bad as Stefyr losing his stomach contents but still! "But the next one? It was gentler." Kind of. Regardless, he beams an encouraging smile to Katailea all the same.

M'ti listens to the part of the conversation that he wasn't really a part of, but doesn't wedge himself in there unnecessarily beyond the awkwardness of that 'uh', his hand dropping away from the back of his neck and then back to his side. The longer that whatever he believed was going to happen doesn' the more that the greenrider relaxes, although he us keeping Keruthien well within his peripheral vision. JUST IN CASE, YO. There is, however, a flicker of recognition for the name D'had even if M'ti chooses to keep silent about it and nods knowingly instead. "Really," he tells Katailea, "Most of the eggs in the clutch Cherith hatched from were a….little…scary…" Twitch. Twitch. Translation: A lot scary. "Same for Leirith's last batch too, but for the most part the dragons inside were really nice." Unlike a certain green who'd like nothing more than conduct human experiments with questionable survivability heavily implied. "Don't quit though and don't say no if you don't Impress this time and get asked to stand again. I wouldn't have Cherith if I'd done that." A sigh then, "That's not to say that it isn't really hard to be left standing and watching your friends walk off the sands with their lifemate, it is, just…" M'ti shrugs and offers Katailea a deeper smile, one full of warmth and affection for his lifemate, "…it's worth it to keep trying even if it doesn't seem like it. Sometimes the things worth having carry a lot of risk, y'know? Just keep your chin up!" Nodding and smiling for the congratulations offered, "Thank you." Turning then towards Keruthien entirely by chance, he catches the grin and the mouthed gratitude, the former responsible for the answering FWOooSH of blush straight to his ear tips while the latter gets a very awkward nod of 'yeah sure, no problem'.

Katailea nods again for M'ti's reassurance. "Thanks," the blonde replies with a smile. "I'll have to try and keep that in mind." If the first time was any indication it's certainly not going to be rainbows and butterflies. And maybe its easier to believe it could be worth it coming from someone who's come out alright on the other side. But then there's someone calling for her from the stairs leading back up towards the weyr. Back to chores! "He's my uncle, sort of," she adds quickly for Keruthien before she's running off with a smile and a "See you" for them both.

See? Sometimes, getting a second (or third) opinion helps! Keruthien did a GOOD THING for once today, even if it wasn't… starting out that way. At all! So you're welcome, Katailea! "If anything, it's a memorable experience? No matter the outcome." Says Mr. Optimism, right here. M'ti is off the hook for any further awkwardness or actual eye contact, as Ruthien seems wholly absorbed in the full conversation and not the individuals for once. Only, suddenly they're dwindling to two and Katailea's parting comment has him staring blankly. She can forgive any lack of immediate farewell, right? Because by the time his brain does a quick lineage check, computes it, rechecks and finally kicks into gear, she's probably almost out of earshot. "OY!" Sorry M'ti, you're going to go deaf for a second. "Wait!? DOESN'T THAT MAKE YOU MY HALF-COUSIN!?" Did he get that right? Who cares! He's just going to turn that somewhat blank look to M'ti now. What? What. "… hey, speaking of those eggs and weird experiences, y'got like… an hour maybe? To talk?" Yeah, just hog a visiting rider who is trying to do his job! Sheesh, Ruthien. And this is your chance to run, M'ti. RUN.

Not really making the connection between the look on Keruthian's face and whatever the smithy might be thinking, he gives a curious look back and forth between the candidates. There is a soft friendly smile and nod for Katailea though, "You're welcome and please do. Remember that you were searched because a dragon recognized your potential and that doesn't change just because your lifemate might not be in this particular clutch." Is that helpful? Well, even if it's not, the woman is called away and leaves him alone with a very dangerous man as far as M'ti is concerned and he winces as Ruthien calls out after the departing female candidate. Face unscrunching, hazel eyes seem magnetically drawn towards the remaining male, and despite himself his face gets all hot on the other side of those bright blues even as he blinks just as blankly otherwise. Ah, what a strange scene for someone else to wander into just then, thankfully gone as the smithy speaks and the greenrider tenses, "Y-yes?!" M'ti is back to worrying his lower lip, his heart pounding in his chest for whatever reason as a serious hardcore tsunami of nervousness punches him right in the gut. Ugh. Again. Eyebrows shooting upwards as 'talk' is asked of him and briefly the greenrider eyeballs Keruthien as if that question was the most suspicious one he'd ever heard, "I guess so?" Another drumbeat, staying exactly where he was standing with plenty of space between himself and the smithy candidate, "What's up?" That Cherith head pops up with a rumble and seemed to be watching them with increasing interest surely was a coincidence as was the way that M'ti crosses his arms over his chest and suddenly tosses her a second dark and withering look for a second. Clearing his throat, his flicks his gaze back to Ruthien, and he cants his head to the side. Waiting.

"Do you like tea? Or maybe some finger food? There's a cafe not far from here. Great view, good food. I'm kind of… hungry myself." Keruthien's rambling, oblivious to any conflict in M'ti but there's a nervous edge to his energy this time. It's like the mere idea of having another half-blooded relation has shaken him up a little. Rattled his cage. "Maybe we'll go somewhere quieter? They said I don't have to bunk in the barracks, so we can use my room?" Unaware of every implication THAT might hold, Keruthien will just smile brightly to him and then turn and begin walking. He'll expect answers on the fly, M'ti! Walking seems to calm some of that restlessness from a moment ago, much of his usual mannerisms falling deftly back into place. "Unless you got work and important things to do? I won't be heartbroken if you shrug me off, y'know! I'll just have to find someone else to listen to my woes." He feigns sadness, along with a flourished press of his hand over his heart. Oh, whoever will lend him an ear? A snickered breath and the facade crumbles aside to one of his crooked, playful grins. "But if you want to take care of business, then come with me, I can do that to! I can wait." The last is almost guttural in tone, sultry without even an ounce of effort from him. It's like the previous interaction with Katailea never happened, that the world has narrowed down just to THEM and this moment and Ruthien is just riding the waves and going wherever the current leads.

Bah-link. That there is Matty’s initial reaction to what Keruthien has to say, and shortly thereafter his eyebrows lift, cuing a bit more silent blinking. It wasn’t so much the offer of food and drink but rather that nervousness that has him taken aback, although he doesn’t make the connection between this unfamiliar behavior and the realization that the smithy had just been side-swiped with. Before he can address either, there is that implication, and with it comes a deep flush of pale cheeks, “W-what? Mhmm, that’s probably not…” Ruthien may not have meant it that way, but the misunderstandings were on a roll so why stop now. As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, that smile, lacking in smugness or thinly veiled innuendo? It makes Matty’s heart skip a beat, his chest tightening, and other physiological changes that make being in public suddenly very embarrassing indeed. He was seventeen turns old, damn it! Why was he blushing like a holder girl who’d just caught a glimpse of that handsome stable hand she fancied? Fancied? No. NO! Nononononono… “Ugh,” the greenrider grunts quietly, coming back from his own little world called Denial, hazel green eyes slanted towards Keruthien. No way. It was just sex. Stress relief! An itch that needs scratching. Nothing more. And there was no way in hell he was going to admit that he’d come to Xanadu using his personal time, not when the smithy was acting as if he would be perfectly happy finding someone else to ‘listen’ to his ‘woes’. There’s just a whole lot of side eyeing and a bit a frown for that, refusing to admit the pang that had come to him upon hearing that. “I don’t have any work left today,” he answers truthfully, nearly choking on his own spit when the next thing said to him is done in that sultry tone of voice and he flushes up to his ear tips, teeth ground together in a flittering wash of annoyance. It was starting to piss M’ti off how easily Ruthien could force a response out of him that he’d rather not experience, and so the idea of being in such a public location as a cafe immediately strikes him as a bad idea. “Your room is fine….” he mutters loud enough to carry to the man whose side he was walking, “Can grab stuff from the living cavern.” What the eff was he doing? Why didn’t he just decline both suggestions and insist that they talked at the lake side? Behind them Cherith rumbled, making the greenrider’s body tense, but there is only a flick of eyes off to the side. SHUT. UP. He was NOT. Could a dragon look smug? Cherith might just be pulling it off back there.

Keruthien positively LIGHTS UP when M'ti suggests getting food along the way to his personal room. A broad grin, cheshire-like and he's chuckling under his breath. "I like your style, M'ti!" Off they go, with him leading and occasionally making sure that the greenrider doesn't falter or try to run on him. SORRY, agreements have been made and now he's going to make sure they're completed! Their time in the cavern doesn't take long and all the while he'll pepper him with small talk. How's Fort? Cherith? Work? Himself? Tell him everything, tell him nothing — it won't matter, Ruthien's content to move on if one topic falters to the next. His selection of food are mostly snack items of tapas variety; easy to carry, easy to nibble on. Drinks? Well, unless M'ti is offering to carry them, Ruthien has his hands full! "Not far from here, come on!" Away again, to other tunnels and true to his word, his room isn't so far into the recesses of the Weyr. Somehow, he'll get the door open and keep their meal from making an abrupt trip to the floor. "Come on in!" Ruthien's invitation is as bright as sunshine and equally as warm, clearly unruffled by the implications of inviting someone to the privacy of his room. Inside, his room is cluttered but in a weirdly organized fashion. Rustic, but tidy. Everything has its place but the room is well lived in and obviously he takes great pride in it. There isn't much in the way of actual furniture but it is comfortable all the same. The food is placed on a small, low-set, table, while he gestures at M'ti. "Go ahead and close the door, will you? And then make yourself at home. Get comfortable!" There's two chairs, well padded (and second hand) and inviting, around the table. It's into one of these that Ruthien gracefully flops into, immediately adopting a rather slouched posture. Ahh, much better! No pouncing the greenrider, no coy playfulness or invasion of personal space. His gaze IS following M'ti, however, expectant and anticipating. Patient. "Hope I didn't grab a whole bunch of food you don't like." He wasn't paying attention, after all, if M'ti was even attempting to raise protest. SELECTIVE HEARING! So what's his game now, with this clear display of… camaraderie? Maybe he really is giving M'ti a chance to settle for once before pouncing him? If he happens to glance further into the room, he'll see a small, narrow desk-workbench combination that has a jewelry piece in progress. A large, but inexpensive looking, storage chest and then, obviously, a narrow bed. It's not a large space but for Ruthien? It's home.

Yes, of course Keruthian lights up following that suggestion, the greenrider’s shoulders tightening slightly and his eyes narrowed just so upon spotting that grin and hearing that chuckle. Pointedly, M’ti flat out ignores the thrill that surges throughout his body, although the nervousness like a thousand butterflies in his stomach is harder on that score. There were definitely a few times in which he was at least thinking about calling the whole thing off, but he’d given his word, and so his feet were propelled forward admittedly with his eyes rarely straying from Ruthien. Just looking at the man he was getting flustered, which is why he’s noticeably pink cheeked and stumbles over the answers he gives to the unhurried barrage of conversational topics. How was Fort? Cold. Cherith? Still looking for test subjects. Work? Never boring. Himself? That one comes with a light lift and drop of stiffened shoulders and a soft ‘Okay I guess.’ Not that it was one sided, as all applicable are turned around back on the smithy candidate. How was Xanadu? Was he keeping up with his craftwork? How was he finding candidacy so far and how are things in general? The more they talked on the level of old friends catching up, the more relaxed that M’ti became, the tension in his body dissapaiting and his nervousness fading to such a degree that a few genuine smiles bleed through with the odd patch of well timed laughter. The greenrider is more than happy to carry two mugs and a carafe of fresh klah if Keruthien was going to be transporting their snacks, although as the people around them fall away and they are again alone the apprehension starts to edge back in as his thoughts race in all directions at once. “Right…” he replies, pressing onwards even as his teeth find the fullness of the flesh that makes up his lower lip, worrying it. The moment the door opens to the smith’s room a flood of nervousness slams him right in the gut. He wasn’t so dense to even pretend he didn’t know why and yet at the same time a significant part of him was eager to traverse that threshold. Although, confusion rises when faced with such a warm and sunshiny invitation, his brow crinkling, “Ah, yes…” he murmurs, ducking his head and entering, as well as closing the door behind them. After all, leaving it open seemed just as strange as everything else going on. Ugh! No matter how much he tried, M’ti could not figure Ruthien out! Just when he though he had a decent idea, the guy threw a curveball. Bobbing his head a few times and removing his boots at the entry, he progresses inwards, peering around the room even as he sets down the carafe and mugs. There is nothing threatening, aside from the smithy that is, in this place. It was an inviting and welcoming space, things neatly arranged but still giving off that impression that someone indeed lived there. With that, Matty’s guard drops and he finds himself as closely inspecting this or that as he can from where he stands beside the table and it’s single occupied chair, a blush returning to his cheeks. There was something oddly intimate about being invited back to someone’s room, wasn’t there? M’ti was almost embarrassed when comparing this to his own expansive and rather sterile weyr back at Fort. Despite himself, a smile wanders onto the greenrider’s face, hazel eyes catching on something or another before skipping off to another location. He almost moves away, having spied that work in progress, but Keruthien startles him as he cuts through the silence and immediately the greenrider’s heart starts pounding in his ears. “W-what?” he asks on automatic, his brain lagging behind, gaze dropping to the food offerings. “Um, I don’t think so?” comes after a quick scan, heat rising to his face. Rather woodenly, M’ti undoes his riding jacket and places it on the back of the unoccupied chair, revealing the Henley style shirt he wears beneath in a warm cream color, Ruthien’s behavior thus far catching up on him and making his head spin. That is, until his memory serves him up a steaming pile of what the eff. Ah, maybe this was like that time with that boy after he failed to impress the first time? Maybe, Keruthien had changed his mind? That thought should have made him happy, so why did it hurt so much? Having no idea of the expression on his face, M’ti plunks himself down into the empty chair and after a moment starts to pour them each a mug of klah, “What did you want to talk to me about?” he asks softly, ashen lashes lowered, unwilling to look the smiling man in the face as he told him ‘It’s been fun but…’ or worse that he’d had the wrong idea from the start.

"It's probably gonna sound bad, but…" Keruthien's setting up the stage even further for M'ti to misunderstand him, at this rate! His intentions aren't malicious, merely oblivious to the fact that the greenrider already has much of the wrong idea. "When you touched the eggs for Cherith's clutch, were any of them — intense? I don't even know if that's the word." Wait. WHAT!? They'd already had a rather casual conversation here, with him answering all of M'ti's questions distractedly. Now, here, in the privacy of his room they're… discussing egg touchings!? Nothing on Keruthien's expression reads as false or misleading, his tone and inquiry completely genuine as he looks across the small table at him. There's a nervous edge to his smile, but it could be from the fact that the conversation is taking a serious mein and he's, well, not exactly good with 'deep' topics. "But I touched these two and it's like, ugh…" He gives a visible shiver. "Like I can still feel their intrusive probing. One was very rough! It made another Candidate retch. Which is odd, because… they can't come out of the shell like that, right? So is it just throwing back all the bad it sees in us, at us? Is that even a thing?" Ruthien pauses in his rambling to scratch a thumb along his jaw, while staring imploringly at M'ti. Please give him happy answers? That is, if he stops long enough to even let the poor greenrider get a word in edgewise! Because suddenly Ruthien's looking away, in another fleeting glimpse of him looking unsettled before he's back to smirking. "You got family, M'ti? You close to them? At all?" Where is this going!?

M’ti can feel the color draining from his face, cold rushing into his veins, and he automatically he braces himself for impact. Here it comes. However, the greenrider isn’t given long for the disappointment and sick feeling to grow too substantial— nevermind the wash of conflicting thoughts to be fully realized— before dragon eggs are brought to focus. His mouth opens, but nothing comes out, closing soon after. Okay. Okay. HOLD UP. What? Reeling a bit, it takes a moment for his derailed train to get set back on track, and he really must look like an idiot just then. A crinkle of his brow and M’ti folds his arms over the table before him, peering at Keruthien blankly for a spell before he straightens, “Oh, um…” Always a good start. Really implies that confidence. Admittedly the genuineness of that nervously edge smile and the seriousness the question suggests from someone he’s so used to being anything but, was throwing him off horribly. “That’s pretty normal? I mean…” the greenrider takes a breath and lets it out in a half sigh, “Both clutches I stood for, most of the eggs were like that.” Cherith’s in particular and really, not much had changed once she was hatched, bringing about a twitch. “Wellll….” M’ti really didn’t want to lie to Ruthien, the drive to be truthful causing a bit of a drag on his next response, “It depends on the dragon.” Rubbing at the back of his neck, the greenrider rakes his teeth over the flesh of his lower lip, “But for the most part, from what I understood from both clutches, the feel of them inside the egg isn’t what you get when they hatch. My friend Alexa’s gold, she told me that her egg scared her.” A pause, hazel eyes drifting upwards, “Risali told me back when I stood at Xanadu to think of them as babies. Blind and deaf babies, and their only connection to the outside world is this weird creature— us— all full of strange feelings and memories that are completely alien to them. It’s probably a little scary for them too…y’know?” Looking back across the table, M’ti shakes his head, “I don’t think it’s malicious. More, trying to figure things out? Like…” Pondering, M’ti presses his lips together, then licks them back into place, “Why did you do this thing? How did you feel at the time? Bad? Do you still think about it? Any regrets? That kinda thing.” Dropping his chin into the upturned palm of one hand, elbow resting on the table, “It could be a way for them to learn as well as getting to know us better. Not the nicest way to go about it, but…if you can’t accept someone at their worst then it’s probably not going to work out. Right?” It may not be the happy fluffy answer that Keruthien wanted, but it was the best one that M’ti could give him. A flicker of real concern flutters over Matty’s features for that unsettledness, “Keruthien…” he begins and then that grin, which instantly colors his cheeks pink. “I-I have a foster family? I was flight born and hold raised, but I go back to visit when I can.” Again, there is a pause, brows creasing, “Why?”

Keruthien’s reaction is as mixed bag as expected! He looks relieved but also crestfallen, though the latter of those visual expressions is very short lived. Yet he seems to hang on M’ti’s every word, even from where he slouches in his seat and looks, for all the world, utterly comfortable. His hands, draped over the armrests, idly tap-tap his fingers against the front. “Ah, yeah… I guess you’ve got some good points there.” Does he like everything he hears? No, of course not. But he’ll grin that grin of his, blue eyes bright and keen, though narrowed thoughtfully. “You’ve given me a bit to chew over. I was expecting the typical canned response. Not so much honesty!” Chuckling lightly, he’ll tilt his head as if to mull something over before nodding. “Guess they gotta probe deep, if it’s like you said. Gotta take you at your worst, huh?” He perks, a little more focused, at the sound of his name but then the conversation shifts and he rolls along with it. “Foster family.” he repeats quietly to himself and in the next breath he’s sitting up and leaning forwards… to pluck an olive off the tray. It’s chased by a small bite of cheese and dried meat, which he chews carefully and swallows before speaking again. During this, his gaze finds M’ti again and settles there, oh-so innocently. “Do you get along with them?” It’s a question for an answer, as Keruthien brushes off the ‘why’ poised to him! For all of about five seconds. “I don’t get along well with my family. I mean, I try? I love ‘em, right? Thing’s weren’t terrible between my dad and I, but my mum? Ah, I dunno.” There’s a half grimace there, amid the scoffing. Probably not best to pry there! M’ti would likely get shot down if he tried. “I’ve got half-sisters, half-cousins, full blooded cousins… There’s my uncle in Fort, my aunt too from my dad’s side and his dad.” He flips his hand dismissively. “Anyways. You put us all in a room? Bad idea. And I never let it bother me before but those damn eggs…” Ruthien shakes his head, tossing that thread of conversation out in favour of another olive and sinking back into his chair. “They just spoke of a lot of things and I was curious. That’s all.”

There wasn’t much M’ti could do about it if his explanation yielded a mixed bag of emotions, but the least he could be honest with Keruthien, “If it helps, it happens to everyone. The eggs seem pretty impartial that way, putting all the candidates on the same level and maybe they take everything they’ve learned about the nature of a person into consideration. That way, they know who they’re looking for come hatching day.” Again, it might not be what the smithy wanted to hear, but he hoped it helped to put some things into perspective and resolve some of his concerns. Although, as Keruthien replies, the greenrider studies him closely and so is rather affixed upon the man as that grin returns which quickly summons a darkening of his cheeks as well as a cast off of his hazel eyes to the side somewhere, “Yeah well…” Cough. Cough. “I’m not in an administrative or teaching position where I’m supposed to give you vague responses so you’ll dig deep for your own answers.” All of that was Matty’s truth and didn’t necessarily reflect exactly what goes on in the dragon to dragonrider matching game. Gaze sliding back to Keruthien, the greenrider lifts and drops his shoulders in the gentleness of a shrug, “If you think about it, they'd have to wouldn’t they?” Dig deep that is. “When you Impress, that dragon is entrusting you with it’s everything. You become as much a part of them as they do you, even if it seems rather one sided most of the time.” There’s a soft chuckle for that and a smile that could knock someone straight out of their socks, the fondness for his beloved sociopath written all over his face. Then there are grins, more blushing, and questions asked. M’ti nods once in confirmation, “Yeah.” Foster family, confirmed. He doesn’t withdraw as the smithy leans forward to help himself to the food, but initially there is a slight increase of tension to his shoulders, one that eases relatively quickly. “For the most part? I wasn’t the easiest kid they fostered.” Despite being the most talented and promising, but Matty was certainly not the type to toot his own horn or play himself up even if he believed what his foster parents praised him over to be true. He listens though as Keruthien talks about his family, a soft smile playing at the corners of his lips, but he doesn’t interrupt. Nor, notably, does he pry into the things that seem to make the man across the table from him uncomfortable or upset. “Must be nice though, to know where you come from,” he says instead, looking just a smidgen on the melancholy side. M’ti doesn’t get hung up on it though, despite the inkling of jealousy that had cropped up as Keruthien had listed off a rather substantial known heritage. The greenrider couldn’t see himself in his foster parents or foster siblings, and that had bothered him in the past sometime between the carelessness of childhood and his current state. Less so these days given that he had plenty else to occupy his thoughts. “Yeah, they’re going to really dig, and they’re going to pull up things you’d rather not think about. But…” Matty’s ashen lashes lower to half, “Good or bad, life is a sum of our experiences. How we react to, reject, or accept all those parts of ourselves with or without excuse makes us who we are. A dragon, wants to know…deep down…who are you really? It’s not really interested, I don’t think, who you think you are or who you want people to think you are.” Reaching out, M’ti plucks an olive from the tray and shuttles it off towards his mouth, pushing it past his lips to chew on thoughtfully, his gaze lifting to match Keruthien’s, “Does that make sense?”

Keruthien mulls over the new perspective M'ti places before him but doesn't seem intrigued enough to comment further on it. Either it wasn't quite what he wanted to hear or it was everything he needed to, but needs a moment to process it. There is a low exhale, some of the tension ebbing from his shoulders as he sinks more comfortably into his seat again. The grin is back in play by then and he chuckles, low and hearty. "Which I really appreciate. I'd rather honesty than nothing but a smokescreen of bullshit, which is what you usually get when you try to ask others." It's not from lack of trust in anyone, merely a statement of fact! He only nods his head slightly in agreement to the remark on draconic bonds — that he is quite familiar with. M'ti's smile? Is definitely noted and admired, seen in the way that his eyes narrow and his mouth pulls into a more fox-like slant. Luckily for M'ti, he won't be immediately pounced upon, as they're still talking and Keruthien seems happy enough with that sort of intimacy between them. "Not the easiest? Ooh, were you a bit of a rebel?" DO TELL! Ruthien is all ears and is waiting, in anticipation, for further elaboration. Instead, another comment slips past and while M'ti is a touch melancholy, Ruthien is unintentionally dismissive. Shoulders lift in a shrug, "Not necessarily? It kind of sucks, knowing who my parents are and extended lineage. It's sometimes funny to see how weird folk react on finding out?" But then it gets boring or overdone, even for one as mercurial as he. So he just doesn't bring it up! He lapses silent, watching him in quiet reflection as the greenrider goes on to impart some rather sage wisdom. A light thrum of laughter from him, more an exhaled breath through his nose than anything, and he's resting his chin in the palm of his hand, elbow propped against the armrest and two fingers pressed against his cheek. His one leg lifts to bend over his knee and he looks far, far too alluring in that oh-so innocently relaxed pose. "Oh, it made a lot of sense! Thank you. You've given me a lot to think on." he murmurs, smile curving back to a wry smirk now. "Help yourself to more!" He means the food, of course, gesturing with a flick of his fingers from the hand draped over his lap. Eat up while you can, M'ti!

The smithy might be too busy trying to process all that M’ti has been saying to notice that the greenrider was not sitting in judgement over his outward reactions. It wasn’t his place to think or feel for the man, but rather answer his questions as well as give him the benefit of his experiences and observations. That, and make sure not to overload the poor candidate. This is why there are long breaks for things to sink in before he says anything else, watching Keruthien carefully and closely. The first positive sign noted is the relaxing of the smith’s shoulders following that exhale of breath, the second and much more notable being the return of the self-assuredness that M’ti was much more used to, and with that comes the shyness of a genuine smile and a single bob of his head, “You’re welcome. I know the smokescreen well and I’m not sure why they do that.” Administrative bullshit, no doubt. Despite the fox-like look on Ruthien’s face that brings the pink to his pale cheeks so readily, the greenrider was relaxing more and more as they talked between the comfortable distance between them. It was strange, to have been so intimate with someone several times over at this point, and still feel so unsettled and unsure around them. This, was so much better. Once again, there was that smile, the one that somehow enhanced the greenrider’s already naturally attractive features except this time it was markedly sheepish as he starts to rub at the back of his neck again while looking off to the side, “Well, I was…strange?” he supplies probably unhelpfully, “I was bullied a lot and didn’t have any friends, so I made some.” Woodcrafter. “Little animals mostly. I gave them names, talked to them, took them on adventures.” M’ti is quiet as he talks about this, refusing to look at Keruthien likely because he was anticipating being mocked and laughed at, the discomfort and embarrassment he felt as he explained himself was all too visible. “I think they were worried there was something wrong with me.” An idiot savant perhaps, but again Matty wasn’t tooting his own horn when it came to his masterful skills concerning his craft. In fact, he’d yet to bring that aspect up at all. A child prodigy, M’ti experienced all that went with the label, from jealousy to being shown off like a trick pony. Regardless, he didn’t like talking about it, but for some reason talking to Ruthien came much easier than it ever had before with anyone else. That shrug and claim to the contrary brings the greenrider’s hazel eyes back the smithy candidate’s location, and again he doesn’t pry nor does he look offended by the sum of the man’s own personal experiences, “I’m sorry,” he offers instead, “I guess the grass isn’t always greener is it?” On the other side, he means. There was something about the way that Keruthien was sitting now that made that laughter slipped out through his nostrils feel remarkably different than it had in the past and suddenly M’ti couldn’t keep his eyes off him. That odd sensation that had been plaguing him for a while now, growing stronger with each interaction he had with Ruthien, was beginning to take a shape that scared him more than he cared to admit. Coupled with their obvious attraction to one another, M’ti understood how dangerous a game he was playing by lingering beyond their Q&A. “Mhmm?” Snapping out of his reverie, he realizes just then that the smith had been talking, and so he flushes as he scrambles to catch up and ducks his head slightly, “S-sure. Anytime.” Nope, no way he could spend more than a second looking at that smirk, feeling the heat rise to his face even as he nods, helping himself to the finger food and all too soon occupies his mouth with something other than talking. Really, it was for the best, before he got too comfortable and he said something to ruin this. What? Brows furrow at that thought, popping another tidbit past his lips and chewing slowly and with that tension begins to leak back into his shoulders.

"People say a lot of things because they think that'll help, rather than just being honest. Then act all surprised when the other person reacts badly and it all explodes in their faces." Keruthien muses and just the smallest hint of being distant in the way he gazes across the room. Speaking from experience? Perhaps. Then M'ti is opening up about himself, just a little, but he's immediately focused back on the younger greenrider. It's probably very alarming for HIM but for Ruthien, he's unaware that he's even doing it; the way he hangs on every little word. "I don't think that's strange! Who was your favorite? Did you have a favorite or love them all equally?" he asks all of this with open enthusiasm, no sign of mocking and what little amusement is a byproduct of his own energy. He's loving this! Give him more, M'ti! He does scoff for the judgment a much younger M'ti faced. "They always think that, don't they? The moment you start behaving outside of whatever mold they've cast, you're suddenly "wrong" or "strange". Kind of sad, isn't it? That you're expected to be 'this' way or 'that' but never really given a chance to experience who YOU feel you are." Did this conversation just get real deep? It seems that way. Only Keruthien keeps it from becoming too serious by smiling the way he does, so disarming (and charming) as effortlessly as breathing. He doesn't clue into the tension seeping back into M'ti's shoulders or that he doesn't seem as enthusiastic over their shared snacks. Leaning forwards, he'll take a small handful of mixed goodies and begin picking away at them, one by one, between moments of actual talking. "Oh, don't worry about it." Dismissive, again, over the apology given for 'greener pastures'. "Didn't mean to harp on about my family. We've all got our issues, yeah? I guess I'm just… shook up by those eggs. Especially that dark one. Have you gone to see the clutch? You'd notice it. None of the other Candidates can get through it. I held on until it went quiet." But at what cost? WHAT COST!? Some of that bleeds through, with the way his expressive features dim somewhat and his gaze turns introspective. Recalling, perhaps? Yet his gaze could drift to any point in his room but it's on M'ti that he eventually does, lingering there and quietly so.

M’ti makes an amused sound born of irony, “Noticed that too,” he comments, giving his head a bit of a shake because Keruthien speaks truth. “Bad roads are often paved with good intentions. There are certain topics that can’t be broached wearing kid gloves.” A sigh soon follows, looking just as distant as his companion was, but for the greenrider it was at the center of the table and the food sat upon it. Seeing it, but not really seeing it. Snapping out of it, he lifts his gaze and matches it to the smith candidate’s, but only for a moment as he inches his way into a topic that was a whole lot more personal than their so called casual sexual relationship should have allowed for. However, as Ruthien shows interest rather than disdain, Matty’s attention darts back to him quickly and for a moment he looks almost confused again. What? Why wasn’t he laughing at him? Soon after, his eyes drop back down to the table and he falls into what will prove to be a contemplative silence. “Zanda,” he replies quietly in time, practically on the cusp of length that strongly implied he was either too embarrassed or shy to actually answer, “She’s a swan.” The enthusiasm of Ruthien’s interest was a little daunting given the greenrider’s experience with the topic where just about everyone else had been concerned. Sure, Risali had played along at the lake shore, but it seemed more placating to him now when he thought back on it. Then, quieter still, “But they all have something about them that makes them special…” Faranth it was strange talking about this stuff as if it were perfectly normal and acceptable, and yet the longer that M’ti did the more he found he wanted to say. A bit thrown by this revelation, stiffened shoulders hunch, and he agrees with that assessment of ‘the mold’ quietly with a nod alone. He simply hadn’t fit perfectly into any of those molds that people had expected him to, their disappointment still haunting him from time to time. The ghosts of the past had turned out to be far too painful than he was willing to admit, in part because it seemed so irrelevant now, despite how they had shaped him into who he was to this very day, “Or give you a chance to find out who you are without being told who you should be,” he breathes out, teeth dragged over his lower lip. Oh yeah, things had slipped into a proverbial abyss of depth there, but fortunately (unfortunately?), M’ti glances upwards and gets all caught up in that smile on Ruthien’s face. Suddenly his face felt very hot and he is quite inspired to look away and take a lukewarm sip of his previously poured klah, his emotions turbulent and unsettled beneath the disarming draw of lips over teeth. Hazel eyes flick to Ruthien and then away again, bobbing his head in the affirmative to all the above really. Acceptance of that dismissal, of family being complicated, and then his gaze returns in time to shake his head, “I haven’t. I…didn’t have the best experience here as a candidate…” he admits, which might come across as a lame excuse, but he was being completely honest. Admittedly, even as he says that, the pang he expected didn’t come and that was worth exploring at a later date. Right now, he slants his eyes off towards the jewelry piece in progress, reaching across the table— not for food, but rather so he can gently rest a hand over one of Keruthien’s after watching the light dim in the man’s expression. Thoroughly pink-faced as he might be, he gives the smithy’s hand a light squeeze born of understanding and then slowly starts to withdraw it.

"Exactly!" Keruthien chimes in quick agreement to M'ti's wise statement, grinning. Any of the finer details are lost, as they often are — it may not be an issue now but perhaps in the future, down the road. Instead he remains fixated in a true fashion, honestly invested in hearing the greenrider's story of childhood and childhood friends with animals. There is a reason for it, that even Keruthien is dimly aware of but would never voice now. He had a "normal" childhood but a dysfunctional family. Of course he wants to hear of different experiences, if not to further bury his own under layers of tales by others. "Zanda? That's a pretty name and suiting for a swan!" That enthusiasm isn't faked either, he is giving M'ti his genuine opinion on the subject. His grin turns more to a wry smirk, blue eyes narrowing in a playful manner despite the soft spoken nature of his companion. "Kind of the same for people too, don't you think? If you get to know 'em, that is. And yes," He'll tilt his head in affirmation, his lips drawn to a smile that is warm and oddly understanding. "That too, about not giving folks a chance. Seems to be a common problem, if you ask me? Which is why I don't give a flying fuck what most expect of me. I live how I want to live. Why waste that always bound to some negative thought or emotion?" Unaware that he'd been caught in a flickering moment of vulnerability, Keruthien blinks a little in surprise to feel M'ti's hand brushing over his, then gently squeezing. The gesture is returned, though predictably, as the greenrider starts to pull away, he will try to loosely grip his wrist. His gaze has lifted, focused brightly again on the younger man and not oblivious to the little glance sent towards his work. It draws a briefly prideful smile and a light teasing of: "Curious?" But that's as far as that game goes for now. If M'ti hasn't succeeded in avoiding him, he'll apply a little more pressure to his grip, changing it more to a caressing hold. Yet he doesn't drag him down or haul him in with the same intensity as he had before. There's something oddly… unspoken lurking between them and Keruthien's acting upon it, despite it being nameless and DIFFERENT; he just understands the desire to follow up on it. It may not be what M'ti wants to here but it's not a 'good day and farewell' either. "Stay?" Ruthien's voice is a hushed request, hinting at no real immediate outcome beyond desiring M'ti's continued presence. "With me? Just for tonight. I want to hear about your Candidacy, even the bad bits! I'd like that." And just when the moment is edging towards sweet? Ruthien throws a curve to it, his mouth drawing into another vivacious grin. "We can cuddle in bed! It'll be cozy."

Hazel eyes dart back to Keruthien following that quick agreement, but they’re away again in the face of that grin. M’ti forgets a whole lot of everything whenever the smith smiled at him and his enthusiasm only enhanced it’s effect on him. He is completely ignorant of the fact that by sharing the trials of his own childhood and not prying into his that he was an accomplice to Ruthien’s avoidance of the things better faced head on, a fact that might very well change later on. “Mhmm,” he agrees on the prettiness of Zanda’s name, looking thoroughly embarrassed if truth be told, continuing to rub at the back of his neck. Again with that smile and all that enthusiasm, the transformation into a smirk making his chest feel almost too tight to breathe. Much more of that and his poor heart wasn’t going to be able to take it. Ironically, M’ti wasn’t really as soft spoken or shy as he appeared, there was just something about Keruthien that made him that way and how long that would last was a complete mystery. Again, there is agreement, the greenrider nodding his head and while he might not be looking directly into that smile while he did his best impression of a redfruit, he is all too aware of the warmth and understanding it contained. He could feel it radiating off the man and that was almost as disarming as the look on his face. M’ti dares another glance, gaze lingering longer than anticipated as if caught in the trap of his expression, “It’s easier said than done, sometimes,” he replies softly of not getting wrapped up in negativity, “Especially if you’re disappointed in your expectations time and time again.” Matty looks down at his hands and then over at that jewelry piece, using his periphery to reach out and ensure that one of them claims one of Ruthien’s. His intention was to comfort, the return squeeze taking him just as much by surprise as the light grasp to his wrist, and in the very next second their eyes meet as M’ti looks back over. Ah, there it was again, that tightness and this time a flutter before his heart starts to beat madly as if he’d just gone for a run around the weyr. On the outside though, he was staring, his brows drifting upwards before Keruthien is smiling at him and throwing off once again, which sends those eyebrows crashing down, “What?” Mindreader much? But no, the jewelry, his mind catching up and blushing furiously as he looks back that way and stares at that too as he tries gathers his scattered thoughts. Danger. Danger. Abort. Abort. “Oh, uh…yes… how did you…” But that’s it because the pressure with which his hand was grasped changes and he’s back to staring at the smithy candidate, his face a plethora of mixed emotions to garbled for even he to untangle. It’s safe to say that whatever was unnamed but existed all the same between them now, M’ti definitely felt it too, and there is no effort put into extracting himself from his touch. ‘Stay. With me. Tonight.’ Rigidity finds the greenrider’s body, but only along his shoulders and down the length of his back, even if he looked for a moment like a deer caught in a sudden flood light, “Uh….” BLUSH, thy name is Mathis. Sure, maybe his language filter was on subconsciously telling him what he didn’t even know he wanted to really hear, but it’s kinda enough to fill him in on the stuff he missed beyond that. There is no disappointment though as Keruthien goes on, but there is surprise, shown in several blinks and the upwards drift of eyebrows. However, this expression falls flat beneath that wickeding grin— yep should have seen that whole bed part coming— and into a sigh which brings about the softness of a smile accompanied by some considerably pink cheeks as ashen lashes lower. Seriously, that look, not fair. Not at all, and the greenrider is completely unaware of it, “Okay.”

"Has that happened to you?" Keruthien's no mind reader, nor has he truly 'grasped' what could be eating at M'ti. He's regretfully blind, for now, to much of the finer details but this shot in the dark reply could strike closer than he ever intended. Jewelry is forgotten, as well as the unfinished statement. There are more important matters at hand, chiefly the answer that Ruthien is anticipating. No, that look isn't fair but he's drinking it all in, along with the singular word. It's all he needs, his hand slipping from his wrist but only to twine with his fingers instead. "Thanks, M'ti!" he states, with a breathy sigh of relief and a broadening smile. "You're the best." Food and drink? Forgotten for now. He's pushing to his feet, out of the comfort of the chair he'd settled in and taking the few steps over to his bed; more than likely, towing M'ti behind him. Boots off, tunic loosened and then it's a shimmy and crawl onto the bed. Stretching out languidly, he'll pat the open space left for the greenrider to join him and make himself comfortable. Once he's on the bed though, there's NO ESCAPE! Keruthien plans to immediately cuddle up (personal space? What's that?) and do so to the excess of comfortable for the both of them. "… you're so in charge of snacks, if we get peckish…" He teasingly jokes, having placed himself on the inside, with him on the outside (oh, you think it makes for easy escape but NO). There's bound to be more conversation, with Ruthien cleverly keeping the majority of it on neutral topics or one's more or less focused on the greenrider, rather than himself. At one point, his arm may slip around him, drawing him closer until there is little space between them. A kiss or two, likely three and some affectionate nuzzling between even more conversation. Is this a gradual build up, or something? Some slow burn tease, for future development? Not quite. To add to the potential confusion of signals, Keruthien will drift off to sleep; maybe he'd been genuinely exhausted from disrupted rest. There might have been TRUTH to him being addled and shaken up by his experience. Regardless, there is only a peaceful look to his features where it rests against the pillows, slightly tucked against M'ti. Really, come morning? There may be some groggy smiling and well… HIS way of "apologizing" in a very, very physical manner. So long as he's a willing and receptive party! One way of starting a day off well, at least, though Ruthien will not be able to keep stalling forever; eventually they will have to part ways again and he will be a constant source of teasing quips and vague hints. When will they see each other again? Oh, time will tell~

Really, the answer had been in the statement prior to the question given considering that M’ti had lowered his eyes to his own arm in the stretch of table between them as he’d said it. He looked at that moment, at best, uncomfortable. However, there was clearly so much more going on inside that head of his in addition to making it painfully obvious that he’d had his fair share of crushing disappointment in his short life. The silence and his drawn expression haunted by lingering traces of sadness indicated that readily enough, but he nods once all the same. That’s all there is before the greenrider’s wrist is released and fingers are interlaced, reason enough for his head to lift and his expression to be wiped clean in the wake of disbelief and another round of redfruit impersonation, “I…” he begins, mouth left open just to snap closed and open again a little while afterwards as he glances off elsewhere, “I don’t know about…that…” The best? Really? Then, after a momentary silence, said quieter as it’s breathed out, “Can call me Matty if you want.” The last bit mumbled with considerable embarrassment, “ …name was Mathis…” You know, before Cherith. Keruthien might not fully grasp what something so simple actually meant to him, but it’s put out there all the same, a single step towards that feeling he was starting to understand and yet remained so fearful in accepting. No one, especially not M’ti, was going to be so lucky as to ‘land’ someone like Ruthien. Though, it would be nice to pretend for a little while. The trick would be remembering that whatever this was between them was transient and someday the smith would either change his mind or lose interest completely just like everyone else. There’s a profoundly painful pang for that thought, but they were standing and getting comfortable, then climbing in following that patting to lay in bed together with the smithy snuggling in. Faranth, why did this hurt so much? The longing was threatening to smother him beneath the weight of it and the greenrider finds face face warming as his eyes begin to sting, feeling them fill before he closes them to seal in the moisture for as long as he possibly can. Damn it! “Yeah, okay.” he says in regards to being on snack duty and with as much confidence as he can muster, doing his utmost to keep the emotion out of his voice. He’s quick to bury his face into that loosened tunic once there was an arm around him, hugging Keruthien to him tightly even as he screams from inside his head. Stop being so nice to me. Stop making me feel important. Just stop. STOP. Gritting his teeth against it all, he forces himself to calm down, pushing it all back down within him again. The neutrality of topics seem to work best in getting M’ti to fully relax so that kisses and nuzzles can be exchanged rather than over analyzed or bringing about sudden bouts of tearful self-deprecation that need to be hidden. Truthfully, that they fall asleep in each other’s arms comes as a surprise to M’ti, not in the moment but when he wakes up in a strange place that needs wakefulness to understand. How long M’ti laid there looking at Keruthien and thinking much deeper thoughts than he should be is unknown, only that the smith’s groggy smile instantly brought on another of those pangs and inspires a kiss that assured they’d start their morning the way that only lovers could. The vagueness lent to their parting as to when they would meet again is both a source of confirmation as well as bittersweet for the greenrider, but it’s amiable all the same if not a bit awkward on his side of things. Yes, he convinces himself, this was better than promises and hastily made guarantees. Yet, why didn’t it feel like it? To Fort M’ti returns, unable to shake his restlessness, and over the next couple of days he finds that no matter what he did, he could no longer avoid admitting to himself why. There was a real possibility that he was falling in love with Keruthien.

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