The Twilight Gleam Is In Her Eyes

Xanadu Weyr - Weyrleaders' Office
Office and retreat, this is the domain of Xanadu's Weyrleaders. The door is in the southern wall, quite close to the western end while the northern wall is dominated by big, expansive windows, framed by sumptuous deep blue drapes edged with a brilliant gold braid and tied back with a thick rope of braided gold and blue cord. In between, the western wall is covered floor to ceiling with shelves that house all sorts of records, manuals and supplies that are used on a day-to-day basis.

The southern wall has the Weyrleader's desk — plain fellis wood, well polished and masculine. From behind his desk, the Weyrleader can look straight through the windows and out onto the main airspace of Xanadu. The eastern wall is where the Weyrwoman's desk resides: a lovely piece of furniture made of warm cherry wood. From her seat, a glance sideways gives her an equally good prospect out the window. There are a few other seats, some comfortably arranged around a low round table for small, informal meetings while there also some that can be drawn up to one of the desks.

On the west side of the door, the space is occupied by a low oblong table where refreshments can be set without someone needing to intrude. There is also an 'incoming' tray where incoming correspondence or similar items can be left.

IT'S A BEAUTIFUL MORNING IN XANADU. If you're Stefyr. Nevermind the drenching rain making mud in the meadow and clearing. Nevermind that somewhere there are caverns workers bemoaning how they'll have to clean the mess that will get tracked into every single tunnel. BUT IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY. It's about that time of day that when people are showing up and not still just sleeping at their desks here and in the other places in the Administration Hallways, that people do come straggling in. It's possible that Stefyr always wins the award for Most Awake and With It first thing, given Stefyr's former farmer habits of rising before dawn and getting straight to work on a day that have not been helped by his restricted privileges that mean an early bedtime for every night (except when he has to work late). That's probably why it's become one of his routines to stop by the kitchen and pick up the morning's offerings, heavy with breakfast options, given the appetites involved and the propensity for some people to forget to eat. It's by the table where these items and the ceramic thermoses of hot water for tea and klah that the big blond can be found. The only thing that's different about this morning is that he's singing softly to himself while he prepares a cup of tea. He rocks very slightly in the time to the music, weight shifting from balls of his bare feet to heels. His boots are probably tucked under his desk, but he doesn't muddy these floors. They might be needed for other things… like blanket nests or pillow piles or forts… at any moment.

IT'S RAINING. And what kind of a muse would Risali be if she didn't take full advantage of the torrential downpour slowly trying its hand at drowning Xanadu Weyr? NOT A VERY GOOD ONE, STEFYR. Perhaps a kind(er) one, but NOT A VERY GOOD ONE. Irrelevant. What's important is that Risali comes into the office second on this day — a rarity, if only because Risali hardly ever leaves. But the fact remains that she is not first to consecrate this not-so-sacred space with wet and mud and muck. Stefyr has beat her into existence, has made that perilous trek through weyr, and caverns, and administration hall to here, to where Risali only now shoulders in, not nearly awake enough to justify her being here. Now it's Risa tracking water and an alarming amount of mud in her wake, making more work for drudges who've probably long given up any hope of not having to clean the floors for what already feels like the hundredth time today. And she's wet. The weyrwoman's soaked, all leather-clad thighs and a tunic that has since given up individual shape to conform against every line and curve of Risali's body, spared indignity if only by virtue of having too-damn-much hair. It's that hair that comes over her shoulders, that prevents more than mere hints of what lies beneath rain-soaked fabric — even when Risali pitches forward at the door, leans against the frame to pull her boots from her feet with practiced alacrity. It's not until she's stepped over the threshold in besocked feet that she registers singing, that grey hues lift to find Stefyr there, with food and tea and the promise of klah, barefooted himself. It's ridiculous, really, because Risali can't seem to pry her eyes away from him, but she's still walking, and her desk doesn't show any signs of becoming sentient and making space, so — THUD. "Owww." And then it comes, a bubble of near-hysterical laughter as she drops boots in favor of pressing her hands into a MOMENTARILY WOUNDED THIGH. It's through that wince (and a curtain of wet, loose curls) that Risali's gaze seeks out Stefyr's again. A beat, two, three and — "I like your song," breathy, stupid. "Is it…" RUBRUBRUB away pain. "From the farm?"

RISALI MUSE MIGHT NOT BE, BUT THE UNIVERSE IS KIND. So caught up in the preparations on the sideboard is Stefyr that the initial effect of rain-slicked Risali is lost on the big man. His mind might be wandering in that herdbeast way it has of doing because he's focused on the motion of his hand and the song doesn't cut off until the thud that has his hand jerking a small slosh of tea onto it and twisting with the side of his hand already in his mouth to suck the hot liquid off and soothe the burn. His cheeks color when he sees her, but that doesn't stop his hand from dropping away, his throat from clearing and his step from moving him involuntarily toward her. He stops, smile briefly self-conscious before he gives himself a little shake and then it's just a normal smile, warmer maybe than the everyday smiles of the days of yore, but in the regular range. "Uh-huh. I'll teach it to you the next time we have a lesson." ON THE PIANO. Blue eyes trace her face a moment before he moves in a familiar pattern for other rainy days when he's here and she comes out. He's getting towels for her, only today he glances toward the door and instead of just handing them to her, he offers her one while he shakes out a second to step behind her and hum as he tends to gently drying all that hair, as best he can. "Breakfast?" He offers, breaking the sound of his rough baritone hum.

'I'll teach it to you the next time we have a lesson,' this man says, while his eyes trace her face. That means he's bearing witness to the moment the Weyrwoman's cheeks flare. Then suddenly it's a good thing that Risali is under a thousand (it could be a thousand) layers of towels because that means Stefyr can't see the face she just made. Or that one, either. NEITHER CAN YOU, READER. Enjoy that air of mystery, that moment when Risali's sudden rigidity in posture could mean any number of things and you will never, ever get to know which one. She just keeps her face (and the top half of her body) buried in that first towel Stefyr gave her, and when she slowly pulls it down, those grey eyes are set to glowering at him. FROM ALL THE WAY DOWN HERE. VERY UNINTIMIDATINGLY. "I'll teach you the next time we have a lesson," comes muffled, amid one hand revealing itself to battabattabatta at Stefyr's and steal the second towel in her hair. NO DRYING OFF THE WERYWOMAN MINISTRATIONS FOR YOU, MISTER ASSISTANT. Then — because clearly flailing at him to regain towels is not enough to salvage her dignity — Risali's punching Stefyr in his ribs. GENTLY, OF COURSE, a precursor to the way she comes in with that swing and her teeth find his shoulder and she bites (though not nearly hard enough for it to be more than a register of TEETH on SHIRT). GENTLE PUSH of that too-big man, and the too-tiny Weyrwoman is ducking under his arm, pulling one towel snug around her chest while letting the other drape over the top of her head. STOMP, STOMP, STOMP. LOOK AT HOW MUCH SHE'S NOT THINKING ABOUT LESSONS, STEFYR. STOMP. Into her seat she goes, and then she's turning grey eyes onto that tray, onto Stefyr, back onto that tray. Breakfast? A heartbeat, five, and then, "Yes," because maybe today she has an appetite. Maybe today she has five collective minutes before the hell of being a Weyrwoman, before R'hyn's audacity to simply exist ruins her day. Then, softer: "Please." And already she's moving, looking ridiculous wrapped in towels as she moves papers from the top of her desk, shoveling them into drawers or merely stacking them beside her chair to clear it off. PATPAT. "But only if you eat with me." And now her gaze holds steady, grey finding blue to hold and wait for an answer.

Stefyr is going to escape with his life, y'all. But only because he manages (ONLY JUST) not to grin. Oh, sure, those lips that are smiling are pressed together so tightly to keep laughter in (laughter that is lighting his eyes, so maybe he well end up slightly corpsified and gross after all, but he's trying, y'all). Really, this should give him some kind of pause, and maybe it does, briefly, while she glowers, brows ticking up in short-lived uncertainty. Because then she makes her… threat? Promise? Something and he ducks his head, letting breath 'sss' between his teeth when she bites him (but annoyingly doesn't flinch when she punches him; he doesn't even try to block; Ila would be disappointed in his self-defense pupil). "Yes, ma'am," he murmurs, meekly, walking toward the sideboard before he flicks a glance her way, amusement written all over his big, dumb face. That quietly pleased expression doesn't vanish, but it does soften a little at her last words. "Of course." It's not like they haven't eaten together other mornings. Who else is going to eat the food Risa decides ten seconds after she gets it that she doesn't want it? Okay, really, that's possibly everyone in the office at some point, but Stefyr's a good target for cast offs. He makes short work of preparing two plates of food and beverages before moving to bring her things first and return for his. It's not unusual for him to do as he does now, which is to set his plate on the side of her desk where he can reach it, but where he leans back against the edge of the desk next to it; it's a place he doesn't have to displace many items to occupy which is probably why he does it that way. That, and it's closer and less formal than sitting across from her. "Do you need anything else?" It's probably only active imaginations that might hear that as more than the usual question that he asks after he does his assistantly duties to square her away for the start of the business day.

"Risali," she corrects, emphasis found in the way she balls up the towel on her hair and throws it after her assistant. SUCH THREAT. MUCH MENACE. Still, there's a long moment where Risali simply watches Stefyr as he gathers up food and relocates both it and himself to her desk, a longer moment before she gets back to her feet and says, "Keep facing this way." Because it's IMPORTANT. HE CAN FACE NOT HER, AND SHE CAN HAVE THE ROOM. And why is that important? Because once Risali is on her feet, she locks the door in a bid to buy herself more time — time to do something NOT NEARLY SO EXCITING AS WHAT SHE COULD BE DOING. Risali is peeling off WETWET CLOTHES (or, just her tunic, rather) and hanging them awkwardly on the coat rack. TO DRY, PRESUMABLY. Her next course of action is to STEAL THAT CONVENIENTLY LEFT BEHIND RIDING JACKET THAT DEFINITELY BELONGS TO R'HYN AND NOT TO HER. She pulls that on, she zips that up, she drowns in it admirably, she grabs a glitter-doused comforter, and she drags that back to her desk. That second towel is discarded over the top of Stefyr's head as she moves past, and then she settles with a demure kind of mischief in the expression she fixes on him. "No," is her answer, fingers already grabbing for klah to pull slowly towards her. No she does not need anything else. "But thank you." She scootscootscoots closer to him and then — she hesitates. "Stefyr," Risali says, with the kind of weight that bids he pay attention. "About…" A hesitation, and then Risali's looking down at that mug of klah, tracing her finger around the rim of it. "About the flight… R'hyn took me between. After, I mean." And suddenly that klah seems like not such a great idea; suddenly that tea is being stared at for too long, dismissed with a lingering look before she pulls her plate of food closer, keeps her hands busy while she talks. "… Nevermind." The last is said soft, too soft. Look at Risali BUY TIME by eating a little bit of food. It's not until after she's swallowed that she looks back to Stefyr. "Did you find any more answers?" Or did he stumble into a landmine of more questions?

Oh, yes. Stefyr sees the threat. The menace. The towel falling short. He sees it all in one glance over his shoulder a dimple flashing with his smile, his playful smile… with just the smallest touch of bold sass before he looks away. When he arrives back and he's given the instruction, he gives an assenting look over that same shoulder again before he reaches for one of his breakfast wraps. It's only the lack of conveniently placed reflective surfaces that keeps it from being a question as to whether or not Stefyr would test her on this point (and though she may never know, WE SEE YOU, STEFYR). He seems content to chew his way through the first half of his breakfast, though his head cocks just slightly listening to the susurration of fabric, the sound of her feet as she moves around, his head tilting a little that other way as she moves. She did say to face that way; she didn't say not to listen. The sound of the zip was probably clue enough as to what might confront him (in his unimaginative, inexperienced mind) when she deposits the towel on his head. (HE'S CLOSE TO RIGHT THIS TIME, GUYS.) That towel seems to be the signal that all is safe, and so as he plucks it off with one hand, shaking it out and turning to walk over to the hooks and occupy an as-yet unoccupied one with that wet towel for drying, still holding his wrap in his other hand, he glances to take in the situation. If his Adam's apple bobbed, it's probably just that he had to swallow that bite of his wrap. Probably. He walks back toward the desk and resumes his place just before she scootscootscoots. He turns around as she draws closer, giving her the attention her unspoken warning deserves. There's a small flex of muscles under his eyes and in his brow as if they want to pucker in confusion but don't quite get there. Maybe he wants to ask. Maybe the weyrlingmaster staff hasn't gotten around to explaining to those unfortunate country bumpkins brought in that yes, betweening after a flight is a real thing, and is not "rider hokum" dispensed by randy riders who want to waylay some poor, pure farm girl, taking her flower but leaving no seed. But something about the way she trails off, grabs for her food, he doesn't press. Doesn't ask. Not yet. She offers him something else, something that might bring them back to that… whatever… it was. "Some," is both serious and a touch wry. "I found I want to find more answers." He watches her, giving just the slightest shrug. For the first time, he seems a little uncertain. He tips his head down to look at her. "Are we good? I'm good. With. Everything. Are you?" Is that why she trailed off? It can't not cross his mind at least once. (Or more than once given that his look goes a little vacant and he is certainly not talking to a dragon.)

Look, we aren't even going to acknowledge the dimples. That was rude. We will acknowledge the way that Risali leans forward on her desk, the way she presses her ribs into the lip of it, the way she rests one elbow on the surface, chin to palm, fingers curled towards her lips. We will absolutely talk about that slow smile that comes in the wake of his answer, of the way her pinky finds its way between her teeth to add a hint of something more to that mischief in her expression — but she blinks, and Stefyr's bringing her back from that titillating edge with his questions. Are they good? Is she okay? A huff of laughter escapes her — not quite humor, not quite an edge of disbelief, but somewhere right in the middle. "Stefyr," she starts, because misunderstandings are less desired than discussions about her feelings — JUST hers. "I'm pregnant." A beat, as grey eyes hold to blue and give that a moment to sink in. Then she leans sideways, to lift her chin towards R'hyn's as-of-yet unoccupied desk "With him." So Risali? Risali is complicated. "Again." And now, now Risali is bridging that distance between them with one hand on his cheek, with the application of fingers, and a slow pull on his face. She's a forward lean as she pulls her bottom lip between her teeth and more mischief finds her eyes, and… "We should talk about that. But not here. Not now." Not when there's too much opportunity for interruption, for misinterpretation, for things. But she smiles, a scrunch of her nose, a hint of canines when she breathes out, "And we're good." OR ARE THEY? Because LOOK, STEFYR. SHE STOLE SOME OF YOUR FOOD WHILE SHE WAS ALL UP IN YOUR BUSINESS, AND NOW SHE'S LOCKING EYES WITH YOU WHILE SHE LEANS AWAY AND EATS IT — and then she's laughing, tucking in her shoulders when there's an ominous KNOCKKNOCK on that door she forgot to unlock. Rhodelia? R'hyn? BOTH? "GO AWAY!" Risali calls. Because apparently, apparently, today is going to be one of those days. And her feet, suddenly in Stefyr's lap, are absolutely meant to keep him from helping whoever parts with a sigh and knocks again on the other side of that door. It's okay. The important ones have keys.

He can't respond to the first thing first, because her hand is on his face and she's making that look at him. There was, fairly, a measure of brief surprise in Stefyr's eyes at Risali's news and a glance toward the unoccupied desk. But then the mother-to-be in question's hand is on his face and there's that other matter. And there's that knock, too. That KNOCKKNOCK. The one he does flex as though he's going to go see to, but with her feet arriving in his lap, he just stays where he is. "Okay," is soft, real acceptance. He believes her. (EVEN IF HE HASN'T NOTICED THE THEFT OF HIS FOOD YET, although let's be real, since he spends a portion of each day trying to make sure she actually does eat something, a task possibly harder now - THANKS O VIRILE LEADER - the big blond is probably unlikely to care, if he even notices that his food is abruptly gone). "It will keep." That thing they need to talk about, later. With less distractions and interruptions and things. So instead of talking about that, he clears his throat and offers tentatively, "On the farm, we'd say congratulations, unless it was an unmarried sister or cousin. Then there'd be a whole lot of awkward silence and trying not to look at anyone else too directly." This just might be experience speaking. "I want to say congratulations, but I'm not sure," he glances back toward R'hyn's desk one more time in implication, "that that's the correct sentiment for you? Am I celebrating or commiserating?" It's a really good question and he means it earnestly, of course. In fact, one might wonder if Stefyr even has a personal opinion about it, or anything, or if he just reflects back to people that which they most need in the moment. And if he then looks toward the door, with just the slightest bit of concern in his brow, it's only because he's a dedicated assistant and not because he has an opinion about whether or not the door should, in fact, be opened to anyone not important enough to have a key. Hopefully R'hyn didn't leave his in the jacket Risali's wearing…

Both of his words earn him smiles, but it's that last question that sends Risali's expression plummeting somewhere soft. There's an intake of breath into her lungs, a shift of that tiny body and the feet in Stefyr's lap, grey eyes drifting to the empty desk R'hyn will soon, no doubt, occupy. And for just a moment, Risali looks sad. There's a painful admittance somewhere in that expression, something that isn't sure, something that, perhaps, desires for something else that cannot be and then it's gone. The goldrider forfeits the complicated nuances of what having a child with her step-father means and instead brings herself back to blue eyes with another flicker of a half-smile, with brows that draw in and paint confusion into her expression. "He's happy," Risali answers, as if she's unsure of how much insight she should be offering to the bronzerider's state of mind. And then her lips press, her expression marked by deepening confusion as she looks away and then back again — as if she's pondering the words she's going to say next. "I am too." And thatthat is a complicated truth in and of itself. "He's… a good man." She's said it before; she'll say it a hundred thousand times in a hundred thousand different ways, "but we," her and R'hyn, "are complicated." Perhaps it will garner more questions than answers, but Risali leaves it at that, because another POUNDPOUNDPOUND comes, increasingly impatient, and Risali rolls her eyes as she drops her feet to the ground and rises to her full height. UNIMPRESSIVE AT BEST. "Mostly, I didn't want you to be surprised when I — FARANTH, I HEARD YOU THE FIRST SHARDING TIME — when I can't fit through — they just aren't going to stop, are they?" And Risali is dropping a gentle fist onto Stefyr's shoulder, dragging her fingers the length of it as she moves around him to stride forward and let reality in. Ah, well. Here's to another day, and any complications that might arise within it.

Mostly, there's listening. There's that depth of focus from the young man that speaks without words that Risa is being heard in every way he possibly can hear her, the subtleties, the nuance. Whatever he's capable of culling from what she communicated is absorbed and tucked away. He doesn't speak immediately though. It is a weighty thing that needs a minute, especially when his mind's mastication of the words is interrupted by that insistent pounding on the door. "Then congratulations," Stefyr says to Risali's back as she heads to the door. Before she can get there, though, he adds quietly, "I'll still want lessons, you know." Hopefully she already knows that whether or not she can fit through a door, whether or not she's in the midst of complicated things, or not, he would still wish for that time together. "If you still want to give them." That's really something that could be left unspoken but for the big blond it's an important thing to articulate. But all that really can still hold until there's a moment later to address it. Now is not that moment. Now is the moment for Risali's assistant to move to clear unnecessary dishes and return with more of what she stole from him to add it to her plate, just in case, while she applies her inestimable charms to whomever it is that dares be unignorable on a morning like this.

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