Playing Games

Xanadu Weyr - Workshops
Some crafts are ill-suited to being tucked away in a cavern, too loud or too dangerous to be desirable. They've been clustered here, out in the meadow away from others. The central building is made of stone and glass, the roof shallow as it slopes away from the thick central ridge that holds forges and kilns for smiths, glassworkers, and others.

The smith forges are loud, dim and hot; windows here are covered with soot or have been replaced for safety. The large common area holds the main forge lodged against the central wall, with bellows at the ready and a chimney rushing high to open in the ceiling outside. This is the area that the apprentices are taught in and are able to use. The nearby wall clasps a vast and unspecialized collection of tools, while the built-in shelves of another wall host jars of nails, crates of wood and metal scraps, spools of wire, sacks of sand, and heavy bins of Cromcoal, all decorated with a fine coating of grime and sawdust. To the other side of the main forge, set against the outer wall, there are separate forges for Journeyman and Master use, each one kept clean and neat, even when in the midst of a project.

Further back there are heating systems and molds for metal and plastic alike, and a set of machines used to grind gears and cast various parts. There's a pump to bring up water for quenching, though it won't stay cool for long given the heat this workshop holds even in winter.

On the other side of the broad central wall is the glass shop, brightly lit through the heat-resistant fixtures and many windows that show off the skills of the crafters of Xanadu Weyr. That central wall and the one opposite it are both lined with kilns and glass forges for the glasscrafters to do their work. The portion of the room near the main entrance seems to be devoted to teaching, as a number of mobile diagram boards have been erected there with desks arranged in semicircles around each. The central portion of the room serves as the production area, with barrels of sand and various additives arrayed beside several long tables and charts, and finally, the back wall is made up almost entirely of cabinets and storage shelves.

There are other workshops scattered nearby, smaller buildings for the various other crafts that are better suited to be where the wind sweeps out over the sea and carries fumes and smoke with it or for those who need to catch their breath after the din of the forges.

Dusk may seem like a strange time to be working away still, when most have already ended their day and gone for supper. When you work the forges in the summer? Dusk is the best of times and a blessed relief. Keruthien has been at it since earlier in the afternoon, working first by overseeing some of the Apprentices at their tasks. Yes, folks, he occasionally is trusted in some light teaching! Or babysitting. Whichever way you want to look at it! And surprisingly? He doesn’t suck at it. Do his Apprentices take him seriously? … probably not. But they seem to respect him enough not to override his instructions and advice. Never mind that he’s YOUNG, even by Journeyman standards! Now that the Apprentices are gone, he’s turned to his own work, which saw him manning the forges for a brief spell. Now he’s on to the much less dangerous (and loud) part, where he’s taken the final product for some final touches and inspection. It’s the best time for conversation now, as he won’t have to yell above the din of a loud, crowded space and much hammering. The heat will diminish a little too, with the heavier workload done and fewer bodies about; Keruthien is likely relieved to be standing closer to some proper airflow too. He wears a band of cloth over his forehead, to keep the sweat from his eyes, but his hair is damp regardless. His clothing too doesn’t help much, but he needs to wear sturdier fabrics and an apron — no one ever said Smithing is wholly glamorous, here! But if anyone wanted to keep him company now? He wouldn’t turn them away, if they could be trusted to keep their hands out of things.

If Stefyr strolls so casually into the workshop space occupied by the Smiths, his hands tucked into his pockets, then no one will notice that he doesn't really belong here. His broad-shouldered frame is enough to suggest he might belong near the forge, but he's much too clean, hair still damp. Hooded eyes sweep the space, in a very low-key version of what is really a wide-eyed innocence for all the new for the former farmer as he wanders a path toward the curly-haired candidate who does double-duty in the guise of a responsible crafter. "Hey," is an almost tentative greeting. "Alright that I'm— here?" Fyr's blond head bobs to indicate the space, and perhaps even the 'here' of where Keruthien is, if anyone wants to ascribe more emotional complexity to what appears to be a simple question at face value.

“Yeah, it’s fine. Just stick close to the worktable here,” Keruthien advises without so much as a glance from his work; he’s doing something that requires more of his focus and some fine tuning. Not enough that he can’t multitask to talk but doing so without his eyes on his hands would not end well! It’s only when that part of the task is complete that he looks up and offers Stefyr a broad grin, his usual mannerism fully back in swing. “And try not to touch anything else or wander off. Might look harmless, but there’s stuff here that can do some damage if it happens to be used wrong.” Just a light hearted warning! “What’s brought you in here? Most folk avoid this place, unless they need to drop off a request or an order. Hotter ’n… well, you get the idea?” Since he’s now suffering WITH THEM! Kind of.

Aside from hooking fingers around the leg of a currently unoccupied stool and dragging it closer to where Keruthien is working, Stefyr touches nothing even if his eyes wander. He further assures the Smith of his innocent intent by perching on the edge of the stool, one foot on the ground and the other finding a rung, and briefly holding up his hands as if to communicate that his hands are keeping to themselves and not about to go wandering where it might be dangerous to do so. He watches Keruthien quietly as the man works, blue eyes already on his face when the other candidate looks up. Stefyr's expression is a little unreadable, though thoughtfulness certainly is there in the look. The slight touch of color in his cheeks might just be a product of proximity to the general heat of the forge, but maybe it's not. His shoulders rise and fall in a shrug before fingers lace together across his folded knee. "Just thought I'd come and see what you do. Never really seen Smiths at work." He looks down to the piece Keruthien is working briefly and back up to the Smith's face. He should say more, but… what? He might be at a loss; maybe whatever whim brought him here is suddenly seeming like a bad idea. He shifts, his lips pressing slightly against one another before a glance cast over his shoulder indicates he might be thinking imminent retreat.

Keruthien laughs throatily for the innocent display Stefyr puts on but truthfully? He trusts him. If there was even a shred of doubt, no matter how carefree he usually is, he’d likely ask him to wait elsewhere. So, he should take it as high praise that he’s letting him settle in! “It’s nothing terribly exciting, really? It’s hot, exhausting and often not as thrilling as some might get in their heads. Loud too! Probably why I didn’t see you or hear you at first.” All that banging and hammering. It’s a wonder he has ANY hearing left by the end of a workday here. “Good way to lose yourself to work though? Probably why I like it so much. Even the jewelry work I do, which is much more time consuming and tricky than this…” He gestures to what he’s doing now, which is typical blacksmithing and everyday item based. The silence is companionable, with Ruthien not fully aware but not about to pry. It allows him to finish the last of what he needs to do and, with a lingering glance on Stefyr, a gentle spoken, “Quarter mark for your thoughts?” Along with a warm smile and a hint of teasing. “Something looks to be eating at you… or at least lightly nibbling.” Haha? He’ll step away for a moment, still within earshot but also giving Stefyr the precious moment of choice whether or not to answer. The crafted item is carefully stored away, and he begins to process of cleaning up — there isn’t much to do, well under just a handful of minutes and then he’s back at the workbench, brow quirked in silent query to his fellow Candidate.

Stefyr is a good listener, even when his mind is wandering. He surely takes in everything Keruthien is saying, his eyes watching the crafter's hands, looking over that typical item with a gaze that's there and not all at once. His gaze wanders farther afield, to other tables and tools and— it comes back at Keruthien's question. At least he hasn't actually bolted yet. "You? Other things, too. Eggs. Dragons. Work. Life. Letters from home." And then also, "I'm not really… comfortable here. In a craft space. The craft complex feels easier because there are real things I do there. Reading and helping the Harpers. Or did. I mean, that's changing. A lot of things are changing." His speech being this jumbled and jump-about is probably a fair indication that whatever's happening inside his head is just as unsettled.

“Me?” That never fails to get his attention and he’ll echo it back, with a little more humour than necessary (or maybe it is the point, to try, even fruitlessly, to lighten the mood and settle nerves). Keruthien doesn’t continue on with the comedic act, however, remaining decently respectful though his smile never quite wavers. He’ll nod to show he’s heard the rest, while gathering a clean cloth and a waterskin. There’s no glasses, but even after taking a good long (and much needed) drink, he’ll offer it in turn. Thirsty? Whether or not it’s taken, he’ll move on to wiping the worst of the grime and sweat from his arms and hands, while settling himself down on the stool next to Stefyr with an audible sigh — mostly out of relief to be off his feet and not so much the subject matter! “Hard not to have a lot of that on the mind,” he admits, with a look of understanding. “And is the change… good? Bad? Just unexpected?” It’s gentle prying, but lacking the pressure to back it. As always, Ruthien doesn’t force anyone into a corner. If they answer, great! If they don’t? Eh, he’ll move on.

Keruthien's attempt at humor does draw a smile from his friend, even if that smile is a little wan. "Can't help myself," Stefyr offers back with a weak attempt to do his part; there might be more truth there than he's strictly comfortable with though given how his eyes are fleet in their movement from Keruthien's face down to his own interlaced fingers. He looks up in time to wave off the offer of a drink. Stefyr's surely getting hot, but he's not been in here so long to really feel the thirst yet. "Wish I could just turn my brain off sometimes. I thought coming down to find you might be a good distraction, but I don't want to distract you, from your work," he gestures. "I've never seen you… in your element," he gestures around. It might even be telling that despite their friendship it's only now that the big blond has sought out that particular glimpse of Keruthien's life. "The changes are good and nerve-wracking I'm… pleased? Proud? to be moving on from helping the Harpers because it means I've caught up to where everyone else was turns before me and it means I'll actually be of more help in the office. And I like working for Risali and R'hyn, with Rhody. It's interesting work more days than it's not." Even if some days he comes back to the barracks in … well, sometimes interesting situations - like the time he walked in sopping wet when it was sunny out and only said he had come from the office. Or the time there was glitter in his hair. Or the time his left hand was green to the forearm with… paint? One can hope it was paint. In any case, it's not hard to imagine it's a colorful place to work. "I'm nervous and excited for the eggs getting harder. But also worried? Not knowing…" He trails off and lifts a shoulder for surely he doesn't have to explain that particular one to Keruthien. "Are you struggling with— any of this?" The gesture between himself and Keruthien is unfortunately misleading. Stefyr really means between the things happening for all of them, though maybe some small part of him also means between the two of them. Maybe.

Don’t worry! That was more than enough for Keruthien to pick up on and run with and he does so without skipping a beat. “Guess I just have that effect on people!” There’s no wink, even if one is implied from the impish curve of his mouth in a fleeting grin. The waterskin is left aside, for either of them, should the need arise later, but for the most part is forgotten. Running the towel along his neck absentmindedly, he’ll chuckle. “Nah, you’re not distracting me. I’ve done all I can today and I’ve been at it for awhile. Even if it’s getting cooler, they generally frown upon pushing it too much and I put in hours earlier, when it was hotter. Can’t risk heat exhaustion!” Sounds logical enough, doesn’t it? He can’t help but tease just a little more, if not for wholly selfish reasons. “And? What’d you think?” It’s likely half really wanting to know and half TRAP. Then, as Stefyr choses to answer, Ruthien is ALL ears, gaze focused and intrigued while he’s respectfully quiet. The only movement from him will be to wipe more sweat and grime, but that’ll come to a natural end without much fanfare. “Sounds like an accomplishment to be proud of! I’d go with proud, honestly. You found something you’re enjoying! Not everyone’s so lucky.” Never mind Stefyr had to work for it too! That’s nothing to shake a finger at! “I don’t know R’hyn that well and my interactions with Risali have been limited. Last time she and I met, she wasn’t all to, heh, thrilled. But we’d all sort’ve just invaded her home.” Wait. What? Ruthien doesn’t even pause on that, merely shrugging as if it were an everyday ‘oh well’ scenario. “I think everyone’s getting those jitters. Even me,” So that’s a yes! “And there’s that one egg that’s still messed with my thoughts. Figured there’s no sense dwelling on it too much or the good parts of all this are gonna go by. Y’know? We can’t control the outcome. We’ll either be weyrlings at the end of it all or we go back to…whatever it was we were. I’ll be a Smithcrafter and — actually, I think you’ve got more of a choice. You can stay here, y’know? They’re not gonna just turf you out.” So why worry on it? If only it were so simple and because Ruthien IS the sort to look at ALL ends of a comment, he’ll cock his head to the side. “Did something happen between us? Was it the kitchen stuff? Because that was fun.” And bro, he’d love to do it again!

Stefyr's mouth was opening to answer something. Really, there were thoughts in his head that were going to find their way out in the form of coherent words. It would be hard to be sure of this with the way his mouth closes at the other candidate's last remark and his face flushes a few deeper shades of red. The big blond isn't looking at his fellow when he mutters, "I was going to ask if you wanted to get out of here and find somewhere to cool off and get cleaned up," a haphazard gesture of a hand indicates somewhere out there where such things exist. "But now I'm not sure that it wouldn't sound like a proposition." And that sounds like maybe if something did happen in the kitchen that the man isn't interested. But then he adds, "And now I'm not sure that it wouldn't be," some kind of proposition. He clears his throat and manages to look up at his bro with an expression that isn't sure if it should be amused or apologetic, so it comes out sort of both: rueful, maybe. As for the rest, his hands unlace from his knee and one goes up to push through his hair while his foot goes to the ground, leaving him just leaning on the edge of the stool's seat. "I'm not worried about what will happen after if I don't impress, so much as just worried that I won't impress." Does he see the difference? "I'm not going anywhere. This is my home even if my mother sends every last one of my relatives here to plead her case. I'm staying." And he really had wanted to find out if Keruthien went to Risali's to use the slide, but alas in all the rest of the big thoughts, this one is one of the ones that gets lost. Woe. he does manage to remember the question about what he thought of the smith being a smith and so it gets the last answer, "This suits you. I think. You look… comfortable here. Natural as a fish in water." There's a hint of a smile for that. An… affectionate smile? Something a little soft anyway.

“Why can’t it be a little of both?” Keruthien just seeds further chaos into the mess but not to be cruel or mean. It’s just how he is, taking it all in stride and letting the majority of it slide off of him like water. He’ll flash an easy going grin, perhaps in some unconscious hope that it’d reassure Stefyr in some manner. “I mean, I DO plan to get out of here eventually, clean up and do something else with the rest of my night? So if you want to get out of here for a chance of scenery and, oh, I dunno… get food? I’d be down for that. Doesn’t have to be anything more than two friends getting some grub and having a good talk, y’know?” What’s so possibly embarrassing about that? Here, let Ruthien paint a picture, albeit a joking (or IS IT) one! “Now,” he muses, with a slightly more devilish smirk. “It’d sound more to a proposition to me if you or I suggested we go somewhere quiet and private. Like the room I still have?” Journeyman perks, yo! Or he’s pulling Stefyr’s leg. Relenting a bit, he’ll chuckle, bemused. “Seriously though, you wanting to go somewhere?” He won’t push beyond that, though his gaze has now settled on the blonde and not so much looking elsewhere. There IS a flicker of something in his expression at the mention of family and their pressuring. “Ahh. I didn’t know you were getting that from them. That’s got the be hard…” No jokes this time. Something of an unspoken understanding, even if their private family lives could be no different from each other. “I think my mother knows? They must. Some of my family does, anyways.” Details beyond that? Unnecessary. A brighter smile is returned for the compliment, a huffed and amused breath. “Yeah? Well, that’s comforting to know! It’s tough to decide on a Craft and didn’t think I’d be taking this one but… it stuck.”

"Well, I could have said you fit here as well as a porcine in a mud hole," Stefyr says primly, not looking at Keruthien until he nails him with a very bland look that indicates the driest humor from the big blond. "It still would've been accurate. He slides off the stool and his shoulder blades pull back in a stretch. "Yeah, if you're done let's get out of here. It could be both. No need to make complicated choices if you just keep rolling with it." And boy, does Stefyr ever like a good easy choice, even if it might create some complicated problems for future Stefyr. "Rooms are a bit much for me, I think, but dark corners…" He shrugs, only briefly looking at Keruthien before he pulls his stool back to its original position and his hands find his pockets while he waits for the Smith to wrap up everything that he was working on. "Food, a trip to the dragon pool by the barracks or hot springs, conversation. Whatever." He's apparently up for whatever it is that's next on his busier bro's to do list for the evening. Keruthien might've been the only thing on his. (NOT THAT KIND OF TO DO LIST.) "Do you talk with your family much? Mine is just letters since that one visit from my brother just after Turnover." That seems to be something of a relief to him, or at least he doesn't sound disappointed by the lack of more direct family contact.

Keruthien laughs for the dry humour and even goes as far as to mime taking a sniff of himself. “I probably smell like it?” he muses, with not as much dryness because there’s probably SOME truth to it! As Stefyr gets to his feet, he’ll follow suit, rising from his spot and putting the waterskin back where it’d been originally. The towel is tossed into a basket of similarly used cloths. A few more things are tidied up and put to rights and Keruthien is satisfied to leave. “Dark corners can mean a lot of things,” he jokingly hints, unable to help himself again. Easy decisions, huh? He’ll mull over the options and reshuffle some of what is offered in that moment. “Better to clean up before food so… hot springs, dinner and conversation?” There’s a casual shrug of his shoulders, as though it really doesn’t bother him that much, in the end. He probably doesn’t HAVE a to-do list made and really is just rolling with it; would it be that surprising to find out that Ruthien lives only in the present and not in the past or future? “How many letters you’ve been getting?” he asks, off hand in a mildly curious manner. As for his family? Keruthien’s already heading for the exit, pausing only to see if Stefyr really IS following along. “Mhm, no? My family is… well,” Complicated. Hellishly complicated! “A lot of them are busy and have their own lives. Even though most of ‘em live here in Xanadu, I don’t often cross paths. It’s often for the best, since things usually go sideways when you put too many of us in a room together. Ask K’vir about it, sometime! He’s probably got some good stories. I’ve got my older sisters here too, Eliana and Ezsrisa, but we don’t hang out much. Just how it is, y’know?” Is it. Is it, really?

Oh, there's Stefyr, about a pace behind the curly-haired candidate, expression thoughtful, though he flashes a smile when Ruthien looks his way. His hands are back in his pockets. As is sometimes the case, the blond works backwards, latching onto the topic of family. "I think I knew you're related to K'vir," did he? He squints at Keruthien, catching up to do so from the side. "I've not met him though." There's a brief flex of his brow. Worry? Anxiety? Something? It's not severe enough to linger evidently, "I've met some of the kids," in that complicated brood, "but not K'vir." A pause, "I'd like to. Any advice if I do?" OR WARNINGS? Stefyr probably doesn't have the slightest notion as to what he should expect if such a meeting were to occur. "My oldest sisters are too old to really be friendly with, but I like my younger sisters well enough," he'll volunteer on that topic, though he doesn't seem to have any more clue as to whether or not that's just how things are than Keruthien does so he has no helpful bro-ly advice to offer. "Hot springs sounds good. I took a swim in the sea before I came up here. I'd like to get the salt off," is as much approval for the plan as he's prepared to offer. The last question comes with an unintentional look from under his lashes as he inquires, innocently - maybe naively - "What would you use dark corners for?"

“K’vir’s actually the safest of the whole lot. You guys would probably get off like two peas in a pod. I’d be more concerned if you ever got cornered by his father. Which is a possibility, since you’re working with Risali and R’hyn.” So, RIP Stefyr? Keruthien will send flowers to your funeral? Nah, he’s teasing. Kind of! He tilts his head a bit, peering curiously at Stefyr for some of that not quite worry or anxiety. “Kyzen’s a Wingsecond for Galaxy. Probably why you haven’t seen him? Lots going on. I mean, you met his kids. Busy family man! And well… Risa. And D’lei.” See, Ruthien isn’t completely oblivious to the news or his family and yet he’s oddly on the outside. How strange? That doesn’t mean he doesn’t worry for them too or care any less; he’s just not going to show that on the surface. Not here, not now! Not without a lot of unwinding that hasn’t even remotely started yet. “Funny how that goes, huh? Wonder why younger siblings are easier to get along with.” It’s rheotrical, really and he’ll nod his head to the agreement on the hot springs. “Lead on, then?” A gesture and a crooked half-grin, and Keruthien will follow, more or less keeping himself alongside his fellow Candidate when space allows. That unintentional look and innocent inquiry? Sets him to laughing low in his throat, heartily amused and answering with a roguish smirk. “Depends on the company?” Classic. “Could be nothing more than some harmless private, quick, conversations! Or it could be more than that. Hard to say, as every scenario is different.” From experience or hypothetically? He doesn’t elaborate, but his smugness could suggest much.

"Oh, I used them for kissing," Stefyr's candor is an automatic response, but a funny one given the bluntness in the face of all Keruthien's subtlety and obfuscation. He's sauntering on ahead, though, so it's hard to see his expression as anything more than a slightly flushed neutrality. Of course he eases his pace back a bit just after the best of whatever that expression was has passed. He does seem to be going in the general direction agreed upon and his thoughtful but brief, "I'm sure I'll meet him sometime," doesn't invite a whole lot more on the topic of this particular relations. "Maybe I should avoid his father?" That's more of a question, tilting his head, raising a brow. "Who is his father, anyway?" Look. Stefyr has a busy life, too, and he's learning an awful lot all at once, so surely he can be forgiven for not knowing all the outward relations of all the people he's still getting to know himself. "I'd expect younger siblings are easier to get along with because we're better," says the youngest sibling with an absolutely deadpan delivery. "Wouldn't you?" Isn't he some form of younger child? That last is innocent, but on purpose this time, full of faux sweetness. Definitely a baby of the family trademark expression.

No blushing on Keruthien’s end! Just a broader fox-like smile that toes the line to a wry grin. “Kissing too! That’s just a given.” Dark corners and shadowy nooks! What else is there for their purpose? “And more.” Cue some deadpan delivery that’s utterly ruined by the unapologetic face-splitting grin he gives seconds after. He’ll match his pace and stride with him once more, not overly hurried to reach their destination of the hot springs. Another bob of his head in silent agreement to his potential meeting of the elusive K’vir. As for the other, he’ll blink and cast a glance sidelong to him. “Th’ero,” he informs, with a hint of grimness. “Weyrleader of Fort Weyr. He’s my uncle. I’ve met him maybe a handful of times, mostly brief and… oof.” He visibly shivers as if chilled. “Heebie jeebies, every time!” No judgement, as usual, from him for the lack of knowing! It’s not like it’s huge news. He’ll blink a moment for that faux sweetness and this time he does laugh louder, with a little less restraint but no less on the enthusiasm and genuine tone. “Damn right, we’re better! Us youngest siblings gotta stick together, eh?” He almost goes to try and ruffle his hair, but remembering he’s fresh from the forges and metalworking, aims to cuff Stefyr on the upper back or shoulder instead. “So,” Because he’s running full circle here. “Was that really all that was eating at you? These changes, the what ifs we’re facing as Candidates, family…?”

It was all fine. Stefyr's hands were in his pockets, doing that nervous tell thing as they walked along, even though he was more or less at ease with the habitually friendly bantering intermixed with the sharing of more serious topics and information. And then that last thing Keruthien asks and he's stopping, one hand leaving his pocket to make a helpless surrender gesture with one hand. His face turns about five shades of red. "Am I supposed to kiss you?" Want to know what else was eating him, Keruthien? Congratulations, you've found out.

Oops? To his credit, Keruthien didn’t intentionally aim to derail everything! That isn’t in his nature. Yet it’s bound to happen, with prolonged exposure to his character, because he just has no filters and almost no awareness of the finer details. It was meant to be a ‘check up’, to see if all was okay with him as they walked. Now they’re coming to a stop and he’s giving him a quizzical look that morphs to one of understanding — only not in the way one would expect. No blushing on his end, though it looks like he really is trying to keep from grinning like an idiot and just making things worse (probably just for Stefyr)! He can’t quite tamp down the whole chuckle of bemusement in his voice, but it’s lacking any mocking and the teasing is definitely more of the flirty receptive kind. “Do you want to? I think that’s your call to make.” Sorry, not sorry! His eyes narrow, amused but settled firmly on him without so much as a hint of uncertainty or nervousness. How the hell does he play it so cool? “I wouldn’t say no to it, if that’s what you wanted.” he notes, a little more quietly. That’s the key, there. “But I won’t be upset if you don’t. I don’t get hung up on that sort’ve stuff.” In a nutshell? No strings, no expectations. Could be a one time thing, never spoken of again or explored later (or never again). They could always have a dynamic that toes lines but never crosses, if it comes to it! Ruthien doesn’t seem ruffled in the least by outcomes. Right now, he’s enjoying this moment and certainly their friendship!

Stefyr, himself, has a wide variety of smiles, of grins, of other expressions that are more cheerful than the sober look he wears as he watches Keruthien's face while he responds. His lips press lightly together, holding in any chance of interruption, any remark or noise that might derail the other young man in turn. His face may still be five shades of red, but at least he's able to keep his eyes on his friend's face and still listen. When the other young man seems to have said his piece, Stefyr lets a breath out slowly through his lips. "It's our call to make, Ruthien. I don't kiss people who don't want to be kissed." That much needs the weight of his seriousness. But then he'll punch Keruthien in the shoulder. "But if you want to be an asshole about it and keep me on my toes, now that I know you don't not want to kiss, maybe it's my turn to be the asshole." And keep Keruthien on his? The big blond makes face at his bro that's kind of 'so there' and also 'ha ha!' in one before he's slapping that spot he punched saying, "Last one to the hot springs owes the other man a dessert." And then it's game on.

Oh yes, that kind of game? Definitely right up Keruthien’s alley! Stefyr doesn’t know it, Ruthien probably isn’t aware of it himself but the whole anticipation back and forth? He digs it. Which is why he just grins like a fool, not an ounce of disappointment in him, as he takes that punch to the shoulder — and the slap too, which is when he’ll playfully aim to return some of that! Only fair, right? Hell, he’ll rough house Stefyr the whole way there, if opportunity strikes (and probably re-kindle the old rumours surrounding them at the very start despite any recent events). What fun is just a straight race? Either way, there’s no verbal answer, just laughter and a, “Maybe you’re right!” Which is so vague but part of the joke, right? Until he winks and likely ruins it again with some heartfelt honesty. “Or maybe I was waiting for you to make the first move!” If he earns a punch for that too, well… he’ll take it! Either way, they’ll make it to their destination, likely sans kiss or any funny business (hey, bathing is serious, okay and he actually does want to clean up)! Food is next on the list and Ruthien will no doubt bring things back to the original banter between them… and some teasing. Always. Will the kiss ever happen? Perhaps, but not this time.

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