Sweet Surprise

Xanadu Weyr - Hali's and Darsce's Room
This is one of the many windowless, standard shared rooms hewn from the same rock edifice that also forms the living caverns. The walls have been painted a sheer olive green, the color so light it's barely discernible while white-painted ceiling, doors and trim brighten the small room, large enough to squeeze two single cots and a dresser in. It comes with a six-foot high niche carved in one wall that serves as a closet, hinged wooden double doors fold open to allow access to the clothing hanging within and shut to disguise the chaos that reigns after having been riffled through. In one corner there's an oval, antique-brass-framed, full-length mirror, while in the other an ivory-colored overstuffed easy-chair is situated. Serving to cushion bare feet from chill stone is a pretty tapestry rug that reaches nearly to the perimeters of the room, the floral and leaf motif mostly dark olive with touches of gold, fuschia, peacock-blue and smoky-toned purple.
If kept neat, this would be a sophisticated and stylishly feminine-looking abode. Alas, while Hali's bed is made, teal and fushia pillows on her gold bedspread neatly arranged and her side of the room clutter-free, Darsce's side looks like a bomb went off in it. Coverlets are usually left rumpled and thrown back, pillows scattered anywhere BUT on the bed, piles of clothing discarded there instead as well as heaped on the chair and floor while searching for the perfect outfit for the day - the rug is usually but barely glimpsed underneath the carpet of cast-off clothing. The nearest half of the nightstand between the two beds is cluttered with hairbrush, nail polish, make up, jewelry, bottles of perfume, an empty klah mug or two and who knows what else. C'est la vie!

The hour is well past dinner. In fact, the caverns, mostly emptied, have the lights dimmed, fires in the hearth banked and little children abed for awhile now. There are a few late-evening drifters, making their way to the hot springs or to their rooms in the resident's hall, but traffic is intermittent. Earlier, an impishly mysterious Darsce had requested that Jethaniel 'eat a light dinner, skip the dessert and meet her in her quarters when work's done'. She'd already been dressed for sleep, apparently, when Jethaniel had arrived, for she'd been wearing a thin, floorlength wrap and slim slippers. The room is dancing in the faint flicker of candles. Despite some time passed in quiet conversation and her suppressed air of something afoot, the Headwoman has said nothing of her earlier request and bedtime draws near. Now, however, she makes a request, patting the overstuffed chair (now devoid of discarded clothing), "Do you mind sitting here for a moment? And wait for me, I'll be right back." Then she slips out of her room, closing the door behind her.

The request from Darsce had drawn Jethaniel's curiosity, obvious in the arch of his brows - but also his agreement, despite that curiosity going unsated. A plan wherein he meets with Darsce is, under nearly all circumstances, one of which he approves. The added conditions are not arduous ones, and the fact that she is (clearly) amused by them is a sufficient reason for him to oblige. As such, he is here. He's taken off his boots, but is otherwise still dressed in the light blue shirt and tan trousers of his day as he's had a candlelit conversation with Darsce until the time arrives when she makes a second request, of approximately the same order of intrigue as the first - which is to say, innocuous, but unexplained. "Certainly," he agrees to this one as well, and seats himself on the chair to - as instructed - wait. Also, to wonder. He is certainly wondering.

Down the dim corridor and through the semi-darkened caverns goes Darsce, into the kitchens where she heads straight to the walk-in cooler, which is entered. Brrr! She should get stuck in here, wouldn't that be fun? Now where did the…? Ah! Darsce finds the tray, but before lifting it, takes the bottle left with it and clamps the neck against one side with her arm - brrr again! Now the tray is taken and she's out of there. Shiver! Two linen napkins, two dessert forks- wait, make that one fork. She puts the second one back and then two champagne flutes join the stuff already on the tray before Darsce is satisfied. Then she's on her way back, slipping noiselessly from the kitchen and back to the resident's hall. Her own door, left pulled-to is nudged wide with her toe. She steps inside uses her heel to push it shut with a click and approaches Jethaniel with a smirky-smile. "Tonight we'll see where your tastes lie." Huh. Whatever that means. The…tray? Is covered with a while cloth. She moves to his chair, turns so he can see the bottle clamped to her side. "Mind opening that?"

Jethaniel… waits. His thoughts drift from curiosity, back to some of the puzzles of his workday. The matter of a redesign is … gone from his head with Darsce's return, though it'll make a return of its own when he gets back to his desk. His eyes lower to the tray in Darsce's hands, sweep up from there to take in her expression. "I will endeavor to be informative," he replies with a twitch of his lips, bemusement slipping to a smile of his own. Jethaniel reaches out as Darsce turns, one hand curved against the bottom (of the bottle) and the other further up (on the bottle) as he takes it. "Not at all." He does not mind opening Darsce's bottle. He will, in fact, begin to do so, adjusting it to be held in one hand so that he may ease the cork from its snug placement.

Darsce is here to give Jethaniel something different to puzzle through! A soft hiss accompanies the loosening of cork, followed by a musical THUNK-POP as the cork is removed. Darsce, meanwhile has placed that tray on the bedside stand, which has been conveniently cleared so that it may act as a table tonight. She kicks off her slippers, shrugs out of her wrap, revealing her shift - this one a mini-length shell pink of soft lace that yeah, doesn't quite hide…much at all. The wrap is let to fall to the floor where it lies in a silken puddle of material She claims Jethaniel's lap, sitting astride him so she can face him. Hopefully he doesn't mind? There's only one chair in here, after all and she needs to be within reach. He's left holding that bottle for a few moments longer because she must lean in, brush her lips to his ending by nipping them playfully. Then, though it's difficult for her not to get sidetracked, she reaches to the tray beside them, lifts a corner of linen for those flutes, holding them so he may pour.

Convenient, how these preparations have been made. It is as though Darsce has, in fact, planned this situation, and as such, prepared things to her tastes. Jethaniel's gaze lifts from the bottle as it opens to Darsce as she does the same to her wrap. She is still, technically, clothed. The technicality is noted by Jethaniel; he also makes note of what is nevertheless exposed by that clothing. The puzzle of extrapolation is, while relatively simple, a fascinating one, as is indicated by his inhalation of breath, the way his eyes trace down before rising again. The bottle, he continues to hold as Darsce takes his lap. The cork is set down vaguely on the arm of the chair as his arm proceeds to more important tasks and slips around her. He does not, in fact, mind. His lips press back to hers, with a soft noise in his throat for the nip that is not precisely a complaint, or if it is, only for the fact that the kiss is ending. Darsce has made preparations; he should take advantage of … those preparations. Therefore, he lifts the bottle, pours the wine into those flutes she offers. It is not entirely precise; he might have better aim were he to employ both hands, but he is disinclined to remove his arm from around Darsce, and considers the potential for splashing to be an acceptable risk. He does, at least, draw his eyes away from Darsce sufficiently so as to actually watch what he's doing as he pours wine into each flute in turn. As such, though the fluid expresses a waveform along the inside of the glass, the arc collapses in on itself rather than exceeding the confines of the flutes.

But…but…but… preparations were made with him in mind. Now, having Jethaniel here, that is to Darsce's tastes. And if tasting must be done, it doesn't hurt to make it fun? Though should he indicate distaste, well, she won't repeat the process again. She holds the flutes steady, one waiting for him to take after he's set that bottle down. She has a hand free and that is used to twitch the linen from the tray revealing several mini cakes, each iced with white frosting - and one dessert fork. "Tonight we need to choose which flavors we want for our wedding cake," she announces with the cheerful enthusiasm of brides everywhere. His arm around her is better than alright - it helps her not to fall off his lap when she leans, takes the one fork and selects a bite to offer him. Yeah, she's gonna feed it to him if he doesn't protest. "This is," she brings the fork to eye level and peers at it in the semi-darkness, "…carrot cake."

Darsce's tastes evidently - if that kiss is to be believed - include tasting Jethaniel. This may account for the accuracy of those preparations, by having provided her with some amount of informational content. That, or she's simply figured it out on her own; either way, he seems pleased, if somewhat bemused. The bottle is set down on the edge of that same nightstand, and he accepts the flute from Darsce, though not without a brush of his fingers against hers in the process. His eyes are on her, watching the expressions of her face, the planes of it in the flickering candlelight, with a quiet smile. "Ah," he says to her explanation, and turns his head to look at what certainly do appear to be cakes. "Flavors?" he asks, gaze returning to her. "Do we get more than one?" His prior involvement with cake has been an uncomplicated one. As Darsce leans, his arm shifts with her, helping secure her against him - he doesn't want to her to fall. He does want her to stay in his lap - and her offer of the cake to him makes his lips quirk in amusement, then open to accept the morsel.

Oh it absolutely does! And in a variety of places too! But more of that later. Right now Darsce is focused. There's a very real danger of cake misplacement if she gets sidetracked and so the fork is directed to his mouth with care. He will taste the flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg, of coconut, pineapple, golden raisins and walnuts. There's carrot in there but who can pick that out of the medley of flavors? Especially over the cream cheese frosting. Why it's even called carrot cake, who knows. "We get three." The cake will have three layers, so…variety? There are twelve mini-cakes on that tray. "And you'd know what your family likes, right?" Some of them anyway? Darsce's experience with cake is… limited. She doesn't eat much sweets, for obvious reasons. While he has that bite, she sips her effervescent wine. "So what do you think?" Of the cake? Of her preparations? She doesn't specify.

Imprecision with the cake might, in fact, have consequences. Those consequences will, for the moment, remain undiscovered. Jethaniel tests the taste of this bite, contemplative. He nods to the information regarding the quantity to be selected - the top quartile, as assessed according to his preference, hers, and their projected preferences concerning others. He swallows, then answers her. "To a certain extent." He knows what they had on their turndays as children? "It is… somewhat complicated." He is most likely referring to the cake. The carrot in it, while not very detectable, is nevertheless one of the more distinctive elements in the recipe. Few cakes involve root vegetables of any sort, at least if one makes allowances for the possible derivation of sugar from beets. This recipe is - at least in the final taste - a complex and imperfectly homogenized one. Jethaniel might also be referring to his family's preferences? Given how many of them there are, that reading would be a plausible one. "I am not entirely fond of the raisins." That's almost certainly in reference to the cake, unless there are hitherto unrevealed facts about his family - or those preparations - to which he is making reference. The fact that he follows this pronouncement with a sip of the wine, derived from the same root element (or rooted vine) as a raisin, may serve as a further indicator that he is not including Darsce's preparations as a whole within the domain of his reply. "There are, however, three layers." He does not have to be entirely fond of all of them. The gesture his fingers make, trailing up along Darsce's lower back whilst she is stably settled against him, is certainly a fond one.

Darsce does not require her cake fed to her. In fact, she doesn't want to eat cake, not much anyway. She does take a small bite after feeding Jethaniel his. "I like it," she says thoughtfully. Raisins notwithstanding. "But there are a lot of things in this to get stuck in people's teeth." Perhaps this consensus between the two of them puts this particular flavor off the menu. Darsce leans to fork the next cake bite for him. The scent reveals the flavor without her saying a word: it is pumpkin-spice, those of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. This is offered to him with one hand while she lifts her glass to sip with the other.

Furthermore, as Jethaniel does not have a fork, he is incapable of feeding that cake in any efficient (or neat) manner to either Darsce or himself. The purveyance of cake is, by her design, entirely in her hands. He does not appear to have any objections to this fact. He nods to Darsce's approval for the cake, his lips parting for what is likely a reiteration of the multiplicity of options. First, however, he lets her finish speaking, and as such, finds the qualification she gives her own approval. "True," he says instead, and closes his mouth that he may run his tongue along the inside of his teeth to determine if that potential outcome has taken place even in the limited sample size of the bite. It has not, and so he proceeds to the next offered bit of cake. This one, due to the aroma, may be appreciated even before passing his lips, and so Jethaniel does so, taking it slowly and tasting it with deliberation as his fingers rest against Darsce's back, warm through the lacy material of her shift. "I like this one," is his considered opinion.

Darsce looks pleased. "You do?" And she'll try one too, nodding thoughtfully. "It's not bad." The next forkful of cake: lemon. Each bite is two-layered with a cream filling that compliments the cake and this one is no different. It is a tangy lemon curd. "The baker insists that for weddings the couple sample her cakes beforehand. She takes a lot of pride in her work and wants no complaints afterwards," Darsce explains. So the cake consequences might have something to do with avoiding an irate baker? As her hand hovers,ready to feed it to him she finally, belatedly, thinks to ask, "Is there anything you're allergic to?"

Jethaniel nods a reiteration to his approval, though his expression, given Darsce's stance on it, turns thoughtful. Acceptable is acceptable; enthusiastic would be better. They have, however, a number of cakes yet to try; after he takes the bite of lemon cake, that number will be at nine. His expression continues to be thoughtful as he both cogitates and masticates. "It is very light," he concludes. "A… crisp flavor, but not too sharp." And one he washes down with a sip of wine, then nods to the statement concerning the baker. "It is a sensible precaution," he acknowledges. "Taste is a matter of personal preference, though it is not entirely independent of quality." He smiles, then shakes his head to the question of allergies. "Not to my knowledge."

Aaaand Darsce can't tell by that objective analysis whether Jethaniel likes lemon or is indifferent to it; she may ask about that later if there are not more obvious positives found in the rest. She sips her champagne while he speaks of taste and quality, then lowers her glass and leans close to flirty-tickle the underside of his chin with the fingertips that hold the fork while she asks him smilingly, "Do your personal preferences run independently of quality?" Be…ware? That could be a trick question! Before cutting that next cake with the fork, she waits, watching Jethaniel to hear his answer about things he shouldn't eat. When given she smiles, eyes crinkling with humor. "Hate to find out the hard way tonight. I'm not dressed properly for the infirmary." But she is for the kitchens, go figure. The next bite, she informs him after leaning to read the card is, "Sponge cake moistened with kirsch." Inside there's a layer of strawberries and custard cream.

Jethaniel has, at least, no objections to the lemon, at least when suitably sweetened in the form of cake. He tilts his head to nuzzle in at the palm of Darsce's hand as she teases, then lifts his eyes to look at her. "I have not had occasion to find out; thus far, the two have been entirely in alignment." His voice holds a bare trace of amusement, and his gaze is a warm one, suitable for accompanying his smile. Regarding the matter of the infirmary, he nods. "I have no intentions of a visit there." Not that he would, but… he's been eating for thirty-some years, often in the form of whatever's served up in front of him while he's busy on a project. If he had any major allergies, he would likely have discovered them by now. He has not. "Besides," he adds with a quirk of his lips, "I doubt the gowns there would flatter me." Because Jethaniel spends so very much time on his appearance, which is why Darsce's fingers found his stubble to be at about the day and a half mark. He leans his head in for that next bite, considers it. "Hmm," is his initial pronouncement, followed by further consideration. "It is… interesting. I believe I might enjoy the parts more in separation; it is, however, good."

Darsce will never allow anyone to say in her presence that Jethaniel only knows technical-speak; she smiles back at him, blue eyes lingering on his grey before hers dance with merriment. "Oh, I don't know about thaaat," she drawls of those flappy, open-backed gowns with a smirk and an up-down twitch of brows. Of the strawberry-cream spongecake - all the tastes separately? Ahh, she's known people who don't like to eat flavors and textures mixed. Is he one of those? She muses, but does not ask. Instead she makes a mental note of it and continues feeding him bites of cake between sips of champagne: rum creme cake, klah mousse cake, almond meringue, vanilla with raspberry filling, cheesecake, brown sugar butter cake among a few others until they've tasted all twelve. She'll take tastes too, but really, there's but a few tiny bites gone from each one and they're all covered with frosting. All that lovely frosting. She has ideas for that. But alas. They're probably too sweeted out by the end. Ah well, there's the rest of that champagne?

If the open-backed view is what Darsce desires, there are likely simpler ways for her to achieve it. Jethaniel does, however, smile for her teasing. "I suppose we could arrange a test, to ensure we are not disappointed with the results." Advice gleaned from the baker's example! Though Jethaniel does not expect Darsce will slip from the room to collect a gown. There are other cakes to be tested. As for the sponge-and-strawberries… it is not that Jethaniel is averse to mixed flavors as a general rule, simply that in this particular case he finds them… not entirely congruent. At least not to his palate; it is, evidently, one that others find enjoyable, or else it would not be among the baker's selections. These are, after all, cakes of quality. He continues to nibble the cakes as Darsce feeds him - the rum creme receives a favorable comment, the klah is perhaps a trifle heavy, the almond meringue is sufficiently interesting that he requests a second taste, and is, at that point, deemed tasty. The vanilla and raspberry is entirely acceptable, the cheesecake is, he deems, perhaps not entirely suitable for the occasion, and the brown sugar butter is simple - in a good way. So goes the tasting, between sips of wine and trails of his fingers along Darsce's back - and, as their tour through the cakes proceeds, soft kisses brushed to fingers or cheek. They do, in fact, have the rest of the champagne. Jethaniel also has Darsce (and she, Jethaniel), and as such… they may find a way to spend the rest of their evening that will be sweet, but not cloyingly so. One Jethaniel will find quite to his tastes.

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