Broken, Fixed?

Weyrsecond and Junior Weyrwomans' Office
Office or study? Perhaps this room is a little of both. It is spacious and airy with the big windows opposite the door looking northwards, a perfect aspect when one is this far south. Those windows are framed by dark forest green drapes, soft ribbons and braid in dark, rich gold sewn along the edges to give them a sumptuous look.
The back wall is covered by shelves that hold a variety of things - mostly records and reference material as well as writing tools and sheets of hide and paper. Tapestries, including several lovely scenes of the terrain around Xanadu Weyr, cover the rest of the wall-space while a soft, plain off-white rug hides the stone floor. A small, low table sits by the door and usually has some refreshment set out on it.
Several broad desks are arranged around the room, each one set so someone sitting at it doesn't look directly at any of the others. Small screens can be set up on each desk to give a little more privacy and each has one comfortable chair that goes with it. There are also several other chairs, which can be used by visitors.

With the addition of white knots to the shoulders of the two assistants who work in the Administration Hallway, the work schedule has shuffled sometimes to allow them time for candidate duties or lessons and today happens to be one such day when the lunch hour hits and it finds two assistants alone in the office usually occupied by more bodies, each wrapping up their work for the day. Work, today, has included the temporary adhesion of a moustache to Stefyr's upper lip, drawn on paper with ink and given dramatic curlicues at the edges. He's packing up his messenger bag that is some kind of new-to-him acquisition for toting around the increasing number of books, papers and other supplies of his more recent occupations and he straightens to look over at Rhodelia. "Ready to go to lunch?" Because even if Rhody didn't plan to eat with Stefyr, he's made plans to eat with the one who vicariously done him wrong; because enough is enough. No more guilt, Rhody. He's coming for you. (Figuratively.)

Minutes can quickly drag on into an eternity (even if it may actually only be mere hours) when in such close confines of someone you're desperately trying not to make eye contact with and Rhodelia's usual tactic of RUNNING AWAY doesn't work within the confines of the four office walls. FATE seems to have other requirements. Even the ridiculous moustache only gets a much subdued laugh and polite smile as she spends an unusual amount of focus on work-work and not anything-but-work distractions. At the question, her head finally pops up from the stack of papers in front of her, eyes flickering between Stefyr and the door. "Uhhh… don't we still have next months' sweep rotations to review? I can do that, if you're hungry." Look at her, being so generous and coming up with any additional work she can as possible penance.

Stefyr holds up a single finger and moves across the space between where he was working and where she was. He shifts a couple of stacks of papers and produces a carefully labeled folder in Stefyr's clear script. Next month's sweep rotations. DONE. He doesn't boom it in front of her, but he does hold it up and then set it gently in the correct pile (there's a right one and a wrong several, see, Rhody?). As terrifying as it is to contemplate, once Stefyr started working full time in the office about two or three sevens back, he's been becoming frighteningly competent and swift in his work, even if he takes longer than the average person to write his letters just so. His hands brace on the opposite side of the desk Rhody's papers are on top of and he hunkers his head down a little, trying to catch her eyes. "Rhody? Why are you avoiding me?" It's not usually Stefyr's way to confront people with what might be some kind of difficult truth, but here we are. At least his tone is gentle, maybe even tinged with hurt.

Rhodelia's eyes widen as Stefyr pulls those sweep rotations out of his sleeve just like a magician and also manages to get them into the exact right pile. Clearly she needs to work on expanding her list of excuses, but now she clearly doesn't have time. It's pretty hard to keep from making eye contact with the giant of a man when he's hunkering right in front of the desk and there's nowhere else to work. Finally, she does hesitantly make eye contact. "Because…" That single word is not an answer, but it'll take another deep breath before she adds any more to it. "I tend to break or burn or disappoint everything that I touch." Or get it covered in bloody firelizard meals too.

There's a pregnant pause while Stefyr digests this. His expression makes it seem like it's not a pleasant thing to swallow. "Because of the firelizards and the eggs?" He asks after a moment, brows dipping down, down, in a look of utmost puzzlement. First, clarity. Then response (but not before).

"Not just that," Rhodelia can't keep looking at those puppy dog eyes and so she dips her head. All that paperwork on the desk is very interesting and plus, it doesn't talk back or ask any uncomfortable questions as she squirms in the seat, getting a creaaaaak of protest from wood that might be in need of some extra wood glue. "But it's safer." It's certainly not easier all this effort she's putting in to avoiding Stefyr considering he seems to be there whenever she turns around.

Stefyr's lower lip is borrowed by his teeth for a short scrub, nervous energy finding escape as he continues to look at the older woman. "Our friendship isn't broken, burning or disappointing me. Is it disappointing you?" That's the next point of clarity, the next thing he needs an answer to before he can really offer more. He stays where he's at, letting that desk offer (for the time being) a "safe" distance between himself and the woman on the other side. Only, now that puppy look is really a puppy look, because… did he do something to disappoint her? To break something important to him? "Is this about…" he starts but then brows tick down and he shakes his head. "What is this about?" He tries instead, sinking slowly down so that he's crouched, arms folding on the edge of the desk and chin going to rest on his forearms as he peeks at her through paper mountains.

If Rhodelia spent much more time trying to pry any last remains of life out of the edge of the chair, she'd end up with one hell of a splinter under her nails. It's probably better for everybody that her hands instead turn to straightening out that already straight stack of papers. Up and thump in straight on the desk, rotate and repeat. "No, it's not," Even so she's still shaking her head, trying to find the right words and settling for the shrug. "I don't know. Feelings are complicated. And just cause it isn't broken yet, doesn't mean it won't be." The metaphoric glass is not just half empty. It's completely empty and any liquid spilled all the way across the floor.

So now he rises, now he comes around the desk, removing that safety barrier, that block that never really stopped his presence but might have seemed to diminish it. Now Stefyr, and his silly curlicue paper moustache, are leaning against the edge of the desk next to Rhody, in a state of apparent repose, his arms loosely crossing his chest. "Try me. What could you do that would break what we have?" The thing she labeled friendship.

Even as he comes around the desk, Rhodelia scoot-scoot-scoots the chair. If it was an actual attempt to run away, it fails horribly as if anything, it just removes any last protection of desk and has her facing Stefyr just with her arms crossed as she tries to curl in on herself. "I don't know. Anything." Watery eyes look up, but she blinks back any attempt at tears. DON'T YOU DO IT EYES. DON'T BETRAY HER. "I already destroyed your only book." There may not have been any kitty shaped apology cookies, but definitely plenty of self-loathing.

"Nothing," Stefyr murmurs, his tone firm, his eyes on Rhody's. He keeps his eyes on hers, letting her read the seriousness there. Then he moves on to dig into his bag. He produces one familiar looking book. Sure, the leather color has been stained with colorful new additions that the average person probably shouldn't ask about, but it's there, whole and complete. "The tanners were able to help me get out the worst of what would've been a problem. It might need a new cover someday, but not yet." The book is lowered down to where Rhody can see it, even feel it for herself if she needs the tactile reassurance. "And a book, even my favorite book," his only book, "isn't reason enough to ruin a friendship. And the eggs…" He reaches up his far hand to scratch behind his ear. "I'm sorry, Rhody, but that's just not good enough. My brothers and cousins did worse to my bed before I was ten. So if you expect to get rid of me, you're going to have to step up your game." He tilts his head as he looks down at her, with that CURLICUE MOUSTACHE that makes him look even more ridiculous as he lop-sidedly smiles at her. "Can things be normal again?" AS NORMAL AS THEY GET IN XANADU, ANYWAY.

Rhodelia can't help herself, really. As the book does appear, a tentative finger goes out to poke one of those stains that she certainly doesn't need to ask how it got there. The tanners have definitely seen some worse anyways. "You're stubborn, you know that?" She also reaches out to flick at the curlicue mustache. "And you ask that like I even know what normal is." And really, he's seen both where she works and where she lives up close and personal! "And even if we decide for things to be normal, those eggs might hatch and decide to change all that." They will at least certainly hatch. What changes is still a matter for those soon-to-be-born dragons to decide.

The moustache twitches in her brief assault and then he squats down again, this time here next to her, "Have to be stubborn when you're the baby. Lots of people want to tell you how to be, what to do, where to go. If you want anything that's really you, you have to grab it and keep it and don't let anyone push those boundaries." That much is serious, but Stefyr's lips have a small smile playing across them. "Whatever is usual for us is a good enough definition for me. I don't much mind if anyone else would find it strange, as long as it's okay with you." After all, they are the only two engaged in this particular interpersonal relationship. "The eggs will do what they do. I'm not going to lie and say I'm not concerned about that, but I'm not concerned about what that does to this," he makes a gesture of fingers between Rhody and himself. He reaches up to de-stick the moustache from his upper lip looking at it for a moment before looking up at Rhodelia. "Do you want to talk about the eggs? Or the hatching?" He waves his hand again, this time with the moustache, to indicate the two things are almost the same thing at this point.

"It's not really that much different with only three children than like a hundred," Rhodelia certainly knows that's not how big the former farmer's family is, but her effort to show things are normalizing is to at least attempt a joke even if she has to watch ever so closely to see if she's stepping too far. "And boundaries are hard for some." Just like feelings. SO HARD. As for the eggs, she gives a massive sigh, slumping down a little in the chair. "I don't know what else there is we can say about the eggs unless there's something you want to know?" She certainly has more experience in discussing hatching happenings from the candidate point of view than she does discussing any of the plethora of other topics she's led him horribly astray on.

Obviously the joke deserves only a deadpan expression and gravely intoned response, "Being a one of about a hundred is a hardship." Stefyr's grin pops bright and then with a quick, quick movement he darts his hand up and in to try to pin the moustache on Rhody. Only after the attempt is made, succeed or fail, does he sober a little and give a nod and a shrug at once. "I'm usually okay at boundaries once I know where they are. You drew some for us, I'm following them." Or trying to; even if maybe he just clued her in that in his world, she drew them… not him. Feelings are hard. "We don't have to say anything about the eggs, unless you want to whisper about how delicious eggs are with toast. I wouldn't say it where Leirith or Ilyscaeth can hear it, but…" They can make clandestine terrible jokes together, can't they? It's part of their thing, isn't it?

"You're lucky you even got a name and not just a number, really," Rhodelia actually smiles back. The mustache pinning is definitely an attempt as she takes it and makes sure it's extra secure (or as secure as the well-worn mustache can be) and models with a flourish of her hand. She'll somber as well, although the ridiculous mustache isn't helping with any dignified air. "We can always re-negotiate those boundaries later, if you want that is?" Her eyebrow raises to add even more emphasis to the question. As for the cooking of eggs, she snorts. "You gotta poach them. Only issue is finding enough water but it's worth it. Trust me!"

"It would've been easier on Mum that way, I think. She had to run down a list of names instead of numbers to find mine when I was getting my ears blistered about something." There's that lop-sided grin. "I can't tell you how many times I got called by the hounds' names just because they'd been there longer than me." This much can be humor, can be light, and easy. Stefyr leans back on the desk in his crouch, expression turning more serious. "I'm… good with what you're good with? I'm not… good at separating how I feel about a person from how I feel about a person. I just feel one way. I care. A lot, in your case. It seems like other people care in different ways about different kinds of people. And unless you share my blood or are-" he stops because there are several adjectives that could go here, but he's not that kind of guy, "-young," he settles on, "then I just… feel the one way about any given person. It's… confusing." Probably as confusing if not more so than it is for those who definitely feel attracted to a person versus caring toward. He stares at his boots a moment before he looks up to her for a reaction. There's even an uncertain murmur of, "Hot springs ought to be large enough, if they would roll through the doorways," because he's not sure if joking is allowed now, after what he just said.

Rhodelia tilts her head at Stefyr's joke. "Do you know how many times my father called me his apprentice's name instead?" At least it was usually the favorite apprentice and not the complete and total fuck up, probably because she was usually the apprentice messing up the lesson up. As for the man and his complicated all the feelings, she gives a slow shake of her head. "If we weren't trying to, you know…" Her hands draw a box for all those boundaries she's tried to set. "That might have hurt to hear. Probably want to avoid that in any of your future flirting attempts." Because she cares, she'll also try to help. As for the eggs, she gives a shrug. "If not, we can probably get creative with flamethrowers and firestone." This is Xanadu after all and fire is never too far away.

"Worse than the dog, then." Stefyr replies, trying to keep it at least a little light. And yet, there he goes reaching out for her hand. "I'm… not trying to flirt. I never try to flirt," but apparently he does it. "I'm… trying to be honest. I don't want anyone," his words say anyone, his eyes mark her especially, "to get hurt because I don't think I'm the way a lot of other people are. I enjoy what we have, Rhody. I'd kiss you if it wouldn't hurt you. But I kiss other people…" And he trails off with a little sigh, letting go of that hand if he ever had it in the first place. He straightens up now, adjusting his bag. "I'm sorry if it hurt… to hear," even though she said might. He's still going to say sorry. Sorry for being him? Just sorry. The jokes about the fire, about the eggs, have lost some appeal in his new solemnity. "I should go get lunch." He wouldn't want to start nibbling on some uninformed potential partner at his next scheduled item of the day, after all.

"Pretty sure your mother never wished you actually were the dog?" Rhodelia takes a guess, although she doesn't know how much trouble a young Stefyr may have gotten into. The hand is grasped and she squeezes back at his. "Don't stop being honest. But maybe practice being diplomatic?" It's a suggestion, but she doesn't seem to offended for the MIGHT. As he offers apologies and releases her hand, she reaches up to touch the side of his face, ever so lightly it's barely a touch at all. If he doesn't flinch away, it's followed up with an equally gentle kiss on the cheek before her hands are reclaimed and she steps back to the other side of the desk. "Go get lunch. I'll clean up the rest of this before Nessalyn comes in and decides everything needs to be burned." Because who would want to have to go back and redo all the work they already did that morning?

There's no flinching at the touch nor the kiss. There's a small exhale. "I thought I was being diplomatic," is a mutter more to himself than to her. Maybe tact just isn't Stefyr's strongest suit. WON'T THAT BE FUN IN THE FUTURE? He looks to the this of cleaning and though most days he'd insist to stay, to help, today he only nods, murmuring, "Thanks," for her willingness to do the deed so he can escape to somewhere he can think a little over everything, while he eats (probably). He's on his way to the door before he says over his shoulder, "Oh, Rhody? If you'd made that a bet, you'd have lost." Stefyr was definitely wished canine on more than one occasion, and given what goes on with Stefyr, his mother almost certainly can't be blamed for that.

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