Scratches Happen

Xanadu Weyr - Stables
The stables of Xanadu Weyr are composed of one long building, lined with box and standing stalls that are kept thoroughly clean by the resident grooms and stablehands. Runners nicker and neigh at everyone who enters, save for the obstinate ones that just flicker their ears in indignant curiosity that they dare not make visible. The foremost stalls near the door to the barnyard are the grand box stalls which are home to the prized runners of Xanadu, as well as the most pregnant, those which are so far along that they require constant observation by the Herders, so as to ensure easy foaling.

A broad pathway covered in straw and sawdust leads to the rest of the weyr's stalls, primarily comprised of standing stalls. Many runners are in the standing stalls, with ropes strung across the front so as to keep the runners from leaving their designated containers. A few hay bales sit here and there along the avenue, some of which act as seats for the stablehands and grooms on their breaks, others as snacks for those runners who can reach out their necks far enough. Buckets and baskets of grooming supplies - brushes, combs, and the like - also sit here and there, occasionally knocked over by a wayward hoof or inquiring muzzle.

Averil is late! Course, it's not his fault he's late.. Well, it /is/ his fault he's late, no one MADE him climb a tree to rescue a demon.. er.. kitten.. But the point is that he is LATE. Late enough that he is running by the time he gets to the stables. Course, there are leaves in his hair, despite his best efforts to pluck them out, and there are scratches on his hands, and he's hugging a kitten to his chest, but THAT MEANS NOTHING. Or EVERYTHING. Depending on your point of view. And while he has pastries for the apprentices and apples for the runners, his steps carry him directly to the office, a quick knock offered before he's peeking inside. "Shiloh? I have our lunch…" With the beastcrafter not there, he straightens, murmurs a reassurance to the kitten before readjusting it against his chest and heads out toward the arena in search of the beastcrafter. "You'll like Shiloh," he whispers to the kitten. "He's much better at things like climbing trees then I am."

Stable offices are for holding papers and (occasionally) having private talks with apprentices. They're definitely not where the work happens. As such, Shiloh is very-rarely-almost-never in that office. He's out. Either working with a runner himself, or coaching an apprentice through working (or riding), or talking health with the beasthealer, or adjusting feeds or… any one of the millions of tasks that occupy a journeyman beastcrafter on a daily basis. Today, he is just finishing up with a farrier, discussing the runner currently clipped to the crossties that's recently had its hooves trimmed. The appearance of Avi gets a quick glance and a fleeting smile before he's finishing up the discussion. A moment more there's an apparent agreement met before Shiloh leaves while the farrier gets back to work (but it's fine; there's an apprentice with the runner in question). "You're late," he points out, though he's quick to ignore that fact when he sees the state of the artist's hands. "What happened?" comes out a bit more hotly than intended, and it is only belatedly that he seems to realize Avi is holding something. "What's going on?" is just a touch frustrated. Surprises are not something Shiloh enjoys.

"I know," Avi breaths as he moves to meet Shiloh half way. It's the questions that have him looking embarassed and then more embarassed as the kitten pokes it's little tufted head up out of the blanket and mewls. Acutely aware of the fact that his mate is frustrated, he ducks his head a bit more, his expression turning apologetic. "The kitten was trapped in a tree on my way here and I thought I could just climb up and get him, myself." Chewing his lip, he lightly clears his throat, affording Shiloh a sheepish. "But I got stuck.. scared.. I couldn't get down. But it's okay, a dragonrider and one of the handymen came along and got us both down safely." Which is.. admittedly.. more than a little embarrassing. "He got scared too," he adds as he trails his fingers over the kittens head. "And clawed my hands up."

"Kitten?" The little bundle in Avi's arms is noticed late, a secondary concern to the state of the artist's hands. A frown comes briefly, a press of lips that is not particularly pleasant in tone. It doesn't get better with the explanation given, either. It takes Shiloh a beat or two to get his thoughts in order, expression teetering between longsuffering and amused. "You climbed a tree. To rescue a kitten." Not a question, since Avi already said as much. Just a reiteration of the facts. But while he might find the whole thing a little endearing (because it's so classically Avi), his concern is definitely those scratches. "Have you washed your hands? Have you been seen by a healer?" He is going to assume the answer is ‘no' to both of those things. "Give me the kitten."

Averil does his level best to look contrite at the declaration and fails. "He was crying so loud," he admits. "I couldn't walk past him." He just couldn't do it. Mind you, now the kitten is acting like a little angel, mewling softly and doing his level best to peek out of the blanket at the beastcrafter. Avi, however, is sighing as he looks at his scratched up hands, his nose wrinkling mildly. "I came straight here once we were down safely," he admits. It's the last that has him passing over the kitten to Shiloh, carefully tucking the blanket around the furry little demon. "He's scared," he urges quietly. Glancing up at Shiloh's face, he brushes stray strands of golden hair out of his face, pale eyes flicking between the beastcrafter and the kitten.

"He'll be fine," promises Shiloh. But the moment he's given custody of the kitten, he's turning and flagging down an apprentice and promptly handing the bundle over to them. A few curt instructions on what to do with it ("Get it set up in the office. Bed, food, water,") along with permission to stay with it so it doesn't get lonely (made only after the apprentice asks after as much) and he's turning back to Avi and promptly claiming his face in his hands. A quick kiss, maybe to apologize for abducting his kitten. "We're going to the infirmary. You need to get those scratches washed and treated." Or at the very least, looked at by someone qualified to assure them his hands won't fall off. "The kitten will be fine, and we can discuss what to do with it after that."

Avi couldn't possibly be more concerned about the kitten, tracking the apprentice with his gaze until the pair vanish out of sight. It's only the fact that Shiloh has assured that the kitten is cared for that keeps him from pursueing the pair, a flicker of relief darting through pale grey eyes. The kiss takes him by surprise, at least enough that he immediately smiles and exhales a sound that is surprisingly close to a purr of his own as he steps in closer to Shiloh. The mention of his hands, though, immediately has the numerous scratches making themselves known, his chin dipping in a nod as glances down at the red welts puckering on his flesh. "He didn't mean it," he promises as he shifts the basket on his arm. "I'm pretty sure I clawed up the dragonrider who got me down, myself." He trusts Shiloh, though, when he says that the kitten will be fine. "I didn't think climbing /down/ a tree would be scarier then climbing up a tree."

"He'll be fine," repeats Shiloh, this time in a much more soothing tone of voice. "Let's get you taken care of so you can come back and love on him." A moment of hesitation comes as Shiloh goes to take his hand on autopilot, only to be reminded of those welts. So instead, he claims his wrist, tugging him along toward the door and then the clearing. "I'm pretty sure he did mean it," drawls the beastcrafter in dry amusement. "But only because he was scared." But that does not stop the uptick of his eyebrow at the mention of the dragonrider that got him down. "Have you ever climbed a tree before?"

The artist fully intends to love on the kitten as much as he possibly can, a fact made abundantly clear when he immediately smiles and ducks his head in response to the observation. Reassured, he's quick to keep up with Shiloh's steps, slanting a quick glance back toward the office before turning his attention to where they are going. The question, though, catches him off guard enough that he exhales a quiet laugh and quickly shakes his head. "Never," he admits. "But it didn't look like it would be that hard. Well," he adds. "At least not until I was up there and had the kitten. Then it suddenly felt like I was way, way higher than I thought." And the kitten was yowling and scratching and Avi was calling for help and the tree was swaying like crazy. Glancing down at his hands, he winces faintly before exhaling a little sigh. "I probably should have gone for help, but at the time I thought I could do it." Course, it did not occur to him that the kitten thought he could do it, too.

"In a skirt, no less," notes Shiloh, glancing over his shoulder to sweep Avi's form with his gaze. "Mm." There's feigned disapproval there, belied by the amusement dancing in dark eyes and the little smile threatening to spoil his sour expression. "I'm glad you're safe," he admits, letting out a breath. "But maybe next time… wait for help? Or… don't go after the kitten. They can find their way back down. Or their mothers will come and get them," he promises. With the artist's hands in such tender shape, Shiloh opts to press his own against the small of Avi's back instead; keeping contact without potentially aggravating his injuries. "I'm glad someone was there for you when I wasn't." Two someones, in fact!

@emit "Nope would have come to check on me when I was late," Averil states in tones that make it clear that he has no doubt of that. "It was scary," he admits. "It felt like I was up there forever, but I know it was only a little while." The thought of not going after the kitten, its met with a firm shake of his head. "I couldn't do that, it was /crying/." And who knows where its mother is, or if she is even around, at all. Faith in families is not something Avi has an abundance of. "But if it happens again, I can come get you before climbing a tree. Not," he adds. "That I have any intention of climbing a tree, again. "What if I'm the only mother it even has?" Averil, mother of Kittens! Stepping in to duck under Shiloh's arm, he glances up at the beastcrafter's face and smiles. "I'd be a good kitten mother." In case there was any doubt of that.

"Let's not climb any more trees." Is that a rule? It might be a rule. Shiloh definitely wants to make it a rule. Even if he completely understands the reasons for which Avi climbed the tree in the first place. A little sigh comes with a shake of his head (exasperated) but there's affection in the glance to casts toward the artist at his side. "You would be a very good kitten mother," he agrees, leaning in to press a quick kiss to Avi's crown. "But you're also a candidate. What are you going to do with that kitten when it's time to move into the barracks? What if you Impress? I think it may be better for the kitten to live at the barn." Stepping into the infirmary, he falls quiet as he urges Avi forward, nodding toward the healers on duty.

"Impress?" The word is uttered in incredulous tones and promptly followed with a quiet laugh. "There is no way I am going to impress, Shiloh. Dragonriders are all huge. I'm content to know that I'll get to touch the eggs." And he is. Content. There is not a hint of distress at the thought in him. "I didn't think about moving into the barracks," he admits in quieter tones. The discussion, however, is stalled while his hands are attended to, a good deal of hissing of his own ensuing with the application of redwort. It is only when his hands are tended and they are heading back out that he glances up at Shiloh and sighs. "It's probably best for him to live in the barn. Its warm and there are more than enough apprentices to love on him. I.. I think I'd like that," he decides quitely.

"Don't." The word is firm. Curt. A warning. Shiloh's gaze pins to Avi, and a quick catch of his shirt prevents him from stepping into the infirmary for a moment. "I told you; I won't let you talk down about yourself. That applies to this, too." Impression. Or at least, his chances at it. Whether or not Avi is distressed by the idea, Shiloh isn't going to let him get away with that kind of talk. "You were Searched. That means you have just as much chance as anyone else in those barracks." And he's not going to let him say otherwise. At least not without contest. When his point has been made — assuming it has been made — he releases Avi to continue into the infirmary. He hovers waits with him, eyeing the process without comment, a low breath exhaled as they finally leave. "He will be warm and well fed. And can earn his keep chasing away the vermin," agrees Shiloh. "And you can come see him whenever you'd like."

Averil can't help smiling at the last, his eyes bright as he tucks himself back under Shiloh's arm. "It just means more treats in my basket when I come to the barn." And he's fine with that. "The handyman said kittens like fish jerky. I'll have to pick some up. I suspect he'll be very good at chasing away vermin, though. He's got very sharp claws." It is after a few steps in silence that he finally glances up at Shiloh's face. "I wasn't talking down about myself, though. Being a dragonrider wouldn't make me more than I am. I do very well as an artist." And he's proud of his skills. Not that he is argueing with Shiloh's decree, just making sure that Shiloh knows he's perfectly content with himself as he is.

"You were." Topics of kittens are on hold for the moment. This is a serious enough subject that Shiloh feels the need to tug Avi (gently) to the side so they can talk face to face. "You've been Searched. That means something. Saying you're not gonna Impress… Its…" Shiloh sucks on his teeth for a moment, squinting toward the treeline as he tries to find a way to explain. "It's discrediting yourself. It's not about dragonriders being more or less than anyone else. If you go ‘round saying you're not gonna Impress, it's saying you don't think you've got what matters to be a dragonrider. But you do."

Tilting his chin up, Averil studies Shiloh's face for a long moment, his expression softening. And while he draws in a slow breath and makes a few attempts to speak, each time he ends up halting before lightly clearing his throat. "It means a lot to me that I've been Searched," he admits. "It does. But Tejra has been Searched lots of time and not impressed, Shiloh. If she doesn't have what it takes to be a dragonrider…" He can't imagine that he could possibly have whatever that 'something' is. "If I /do/ have what the dragons are looking for and one of them decides that they want me? That will be wonderful, but it won't destroy my world if that is not the case. I feel like if I let myself hope for that, or think that it could happen.." It's scary in ways that make him uncomfortable to think about.

"She does. If she's been Searched, then she has what it takes." A pause and he adds, "Doesn't mean she will. And it doesn't mean you will. It just… means that you could." A sharp shake of his head and a frustrated little sound comes as Shiloh squints briefly at the trees before meeting Avi's gaze again. "I'm not saying you should walk around claiming you're gonna Impress. Just… don't say that you won't. Because you don't know." His expression softens, hands lifting to touch the artist's cheek and chin; to draw his thumb across his lower lip. "I can't imagine anything not wanting you," comes in quiet words. "I know it's scary. But I don't want you to miss out on something just cause you're closing yourself to it. Does that make any sense?" Shiloh's not sure.

Shiloh's words inspire a quiet sound in Averil's throat, his lips parting to momentarily catch on the beastcrafter's thumb before releasing. When he does release, his smile is warm and adoring, the compliment inspiring a pleased flush to his cheeks. "You always make me feel so good." There is no doubt in him that Shiloh absolutely believes what he says. "It is a little scary," he admits. "But only because it is a lot of waiting and wondering and then hoping," he admits. "It's impossible not to be hopeful," he sighs quietly. "I keep trying not to let myself get to excited about it." It's the last that has him leaning in to close the distance and steal a tender kiss. "I'd never give up by closing myself off to the possibility."

"I think you should be excited," decides Shiloh. "It's an exciting opportunity. Not everyone is Searched." The reminder comes with a hook of Shiloh's arm to bring Avi in against him for the theft of that kiss, a hint of his crooked smile returning. "Okay then." That's settled. Tucking the artist-turned-candidate in against his side, he resumes their walk back to the stables.

"Is it bad form that I am more excited about the kitten?" Avi's response, though, is teasing and accompanied by a wry smile as they head out. "We have to decide on a name," he provides. Which is promptly followed with a -look- at the beastcrafter. "Cat is not a name."

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