About Evi...

Xanadu Weyr - Wanderin' Wherry Tavern
It is often whispered, in the crowds that converge here, that a certain Weyrleader was asked what he wanted in the remodeling of the pub that was not so long ago given a refreshing. He muttered back over the rim of his ever-present mug, "I don't care what you do with the place, just so long as there is plenty of ale." With that in mind, cask after cask of ale lines the walls of the tavern, the remodeler's idea of a jest. As they age, the casks bring a real rustic atmosphere to the pub, along with the deeply wooden flavor that seems to be the theme throughout.

The lighting is dim, as it should be in all good pubs, and the tables and chairs are plentiful. A long mahogany bar, intricately carved with runner beasts, stands vigilant duty at the head of the bar, lined with stools for those patrons that seek the bartender's company. Behind it are drinks for those not inclined toward ale, as well as a door leading to the small kitchen where snacks are made and a back room that probably holds yet more ale.

They say if you find yourself drinking alone, that's how you know there's a problem. N'on's philosophy seems to be that as long as you drink alone in public, you're never alone, so no problem! Which is how he ends up in the Wanderin' Wherry Tavern, taking up a whole entire table to himself, while slowly consuming the contents of a mug of something or other. Probably ale, given the decor. On the bright side, it's early in the evening, and he doesn't seem sloppy yet. Put that down for the 'not a problem' column!

This bar has seen its share of candidates. After all, there's no rule against drinking during candidacy, just a rule against getting drunk. It's a fine line. Because Stefyr overstepped that line, his is a face that has never before been seen within, but he steps inside, eyes searching the faces of those present until blue eyes settle on a familiar, silent greenrider. He weaves around tables until he's standing near the rider. "Hey, can we talk?" It might be an ominous beginning, but though the blond's face looks serious, it doesn't look grave or anything more concerning.

N'on looks up from his drink with a slow smile. Maybe it's a good thing there's alcohol involved, because he'd probably be a lot more trepidatious if he weren't. As it is, he just gets a kind of amused look and sweeps a hand to gesture at any and all of the empty chairs, an open invitation for Stefyr to join him. "You talk, I listen," he signs, with a smirk and a wink. That joke is way funnier when you're drinking, ok. To ensure his jokes stay hilarious, he takes another sip while watching Stefyr over the rim of his glass.

Stefyr's blue eyes go over the empty chairs and he hesitates. In fact, he looks around and hesitates more. That may be the most ominous bit, really. "Maybe we can go for a walk when you finish your drink?" It's that kind of talk, N'on. The kind not made for a room full of people who might have loose tongues, or so the candidate seems to have decided. He actually is starting to look a little anxious, perhaps just about being in a place where his presence could be misconstrued, given his particular restrictions.

N'on blinks slowly at Stefyr and his smile fades. His gaze falls to the drink, but with only the slightest show of reluctance, he pushes it away and leaves it unfinished on the table. With a deep breath, he pushes to his feet and leaves an appropriate amount of money on the table to cover his drink. With a lifted brow and a thumb jerked toward the exit, he starts in that direction.


Xanadu Weyr - Main Clearing
A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places with upturned petals to wave to whoever may be looking.

The cliff looms imposingly on two sides. Toward the southwest, a spire stretches up to high above where the everpresent watchdragon sits on a lonely peak with Xanadu's Starstones. A massive rocky spur extends to the north, curved slightly to hold the clearing and pocked with doors and windows.

The hatching arena and Dragonhealers' Annex sit to the southeast, built together into a single complex that takes up a large portion of the perimeter beneath its domed roof. To the southwest, wide steps lead up to the caverns, and almost directly south is the entrance to the Infirmary. Nestled between the infirmary and the main caverns there's a human-sized archway with frequent traffic - it leads to the Wanderin' Wherry Tavern.

Tucked near the arch, just off to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Wildflower Boutique'. Windows have been cut along the cliff in various places along the cliff. Those of the administrative offices are placed to have the best view of Xanadu's airspace - to the southwest, over the entrance to the caverns and the infirmary. Others mark the dormitories and those of lucky residents, while toward the northern edge of that spur cluster the windows and entrances to the crafters' complex.

The rest of the Weyr lies to the north and east - a broad road that leads through the meadow and the trees of the forest beyond. At the far northern edge of the clearing, just inside the perimeter kept clear of trees, a clocktower sits and proudly displays the hour.

"Sorry," is a murmur just loud enough to be heard in the din of those denizens enjoying the bar's hospitality. Stefyr is swift to follow on and it isn't until they're outside and a little away from the entrance to the bar that he clears his throat. "I spoke with Evangeline." Then he stops, moving and speaking, his lower lip caught between his teeth, worrying it.

N'on waves off Stefyr's apology, and chooses a circuitous path that will take them mostly away from the more-travelled areas of the weyr. When Stefyr makes that revelation, N'on stops walking and turns to face him. His head tilts in a quizzical, patient expression, but he tucks his hands into his pockets and waits for the Candidate to elaborate.

Stefyr's jaw flexes before he actually speaks, his lips pressed together. His eyes are on N'on's chest rather than his face as he orders those pesky thoughts. "I don't think she'll send you more cards," is first because it's probably the easiest thing to address. "And I hope she'll come talk with you." The candidate shifts his eyes up to the greenrider's face, looking for a moment like he might say more, only instead of speaking, he reaches into one of his pockets and produces a folded paper that should look familiar since it belongs/belonged to N'on. "I didn't read this, just saw that it was in your handwriting, after she gave it to me. She asked for it back, but I'm guessing whatever is on there is something that will only cause her to hang on to something she doesn't need, and if she does need to hang onto something, maybe the two of you can figure out what it is. But they're your words and you should have them, if you want them." All this almost certainly because N'on told him that his words had been stolen, stolen and now returned. Too little, too late, but maybe still something. "She's not in danger of anything other than not knowing how to keep a friendship after a mess has been made in it. But that's not something I can fix." He doesn't need to look at N'on to imply it's for the greenrider to do, but he's looking at him anyway, so the implication is probably carelessly there.

N'on's eyes widen, and for a moment, he seems oddly stunned. Suddenly, that faint edge of alcohol-induced humor has gone. He takes one hand out of his pocket to take the note. Somehow, he seems overly touched by the gesture, even as small as it is. Carefully, he tucks the note into his chest pocket and takes a deep breath. "Thank you," he signs, and swipes a hand over his face. After a moment to gather his only-slightly-addled thoughts, he turns to face Stefyr more directly, and signs, "Sorry I brought you into it. Thank you."

Stefyr's hand waves the gratitude and the apology away, the movement small and just a gesture rather than a word in front of his chest. "Friends help each other. I think. I don't really know. But I'm making up what I think a friend should do as I go along." Those words all sort of run into one another because he's clearly still working through all that. "And you," a pause, it's slight but there, because the next part is a little weightier for him, "and Evi are both my friends. I'm sorry you're both going through something difficult, but if I can help, then I want to help. I just don't think my knowing more details that maybe are more private for one or the other of you is going to help." That explains why he didn't read the note. He reaches out a hand to lay it on the shorter man's shoulder gently but firmly, "I think she's safe. She's struggling with things," which is nothing N'on doesn't know in Stefyr's estimation, "but she's not in danger. She," he sighs a little like he doesn't want to say what he says, "reminds me of one of my cousins. She would get worked up about little things and make them into big things and then people would try to help her and it would become bigger and bigger until it all fell in on itself in a mess." He gives N'on a rueful but not judgmental look. "I think you're a good friend for trying to help her." And then his hand squeezes gently and drops away.

There's a flash of… something, in N'on's expression. Something like pain, mixed with embarrassment and quickly hidden behind the usual N'on-smile-mask that he pulls out for very special occasions. He waits through everything that Stefyr has to say, and while one might have thought he'd have something else to say, given that reaction, he doesn't. He repeats his 'thank you' and reinforces it with a thumbs up and a kind of awkward, faux-serious wink that he normally uses to lighten a too-serious conversation. He takes a subtle step backward out of Stefyr's reach and glances to the side.

Stefyr is not always the brightest glow in the basket, but. There are some things that are pretty solid messages of something, even if he's immediately unsure of whatever it is. He rocks back on his heels, hands seeking the safety of his pockets. There's a breath that's sucked in, expression mingling confusion and worry. "I did… something not right." This much he seems sure of. "Will you tell me?" At least he asks. Some people might not, but Stefyr does.

N'on winces and waves off Stefyr's worry. "You are good," he signs, emphatically. Then another double 'thank you.' He glances to the side, scratches the side of his neck, and then seems to decide that Stefyr deserves a better explanation, so he signs, "Private details," with an apologetic smile. He even signs another apology, then gestures to the path, indicating his intention to continue their walk before doing exactly that.

There's a moment where it looks like Stefyr might pursue it, might push for something, his lips pressing against one another, but when he speaks, and it's some paces on along their path it's to ask quietly, "But you'd prefer I didn't touch you?" He's obviously striving for a neutral tone when he says it, but there is the smallest tinge of hurt, enough that he clears his throat in an effort to gain more control over that traitorous timbre.

N'on sighs and rubs at the bridge of his nose, but he doesn't answer right away. He just continues along, vaguely watching the scenery as it passes by. Finally, he pauses and reaches into his pocket to pull out an only slightly-crumpled piece of blank paper. It's a loose sheet rather than a bound notebook, but it does the job as he scrawls out a note, then passes it over with an apologetic smile. "If you don't want to know things, get comfortable not understanding. You're still a good friend."

"…" The note is stared at after it's read and then, "Oh," the sound of dawning understanding. "No, that's not…" And, "Shells." And then more, brows pinching down as Stefyr wrestles with words and meanings and things he's already done poorly once tonight. He offers the note back to N'on. "I just… I thought it wasn't her decision to make. If you wanted me to read your words, you could tell me to read it. Or you could tell me what you wanted me to know. I just… don't want to end up between you and Evangeline working things out together? It seems… important." Maybe he's not even sure why, exactly. "And if it's just… things about you, or about me or us, then that's something you can decide? Or…" And now he's getting himself out of sorts. He rubs his face, "Shells, I'm tired." And scattered, and it shows. In fact, if N'on takes a little more time to look at him, he's not as crisp as he usually is, but is rather disheveled as these things go. He probably could use a bath, a warm drink and a nice blanket.

N'on watches Stefyr working all of this out, while he takes his note back and tucks it into his pocket. He starts to lift his hands to say something, but then thinks better of it after taking a second look at Stefyr. Instead, he just smiles that perfectly understanding smile and claps Stefyr on the shoulder. "You are good," he signs, once again. "You have big things to worry about. Not me. Not Evangeline." He watches to see if Stefyr seems to understand that, then adds, "Eggs soon. You should worry about you."

The way that Stefyr stares at N'on, considering, does not bode well for a man who wants his variety of smiles to be taken at face value; someone is learning to assess them for realness. If he detects anything in this one that's worth questioning, it doesn't end up being questioned. His hand is back at his face rubbing it again. The big man takes a big breath as his hand falls away. For a moment, it looks like Stefyr, broad and sturdy as he is, is about to come apart at the seams. "I just need a real night of sleep." He finally says, shaking his head. "Might not get that until after the eggs hatch, and even then…" If he impresses, there'll be nothing like a real night of sleep. "It's easier to worry about other people right now. My thoughts are just circles and spirals and more circles." But then, there is, it turns out, something else. He reaches into another pocket, and there's another note. A different note. He offers it over to N'on. It's in the rider's own hand and it reads, 'I didn't, at first. I just knew he was beautiful, and that I didn't have a chance with someone like him. Then we got trapped up on AIVAS together, and I didn't have any paper. I wasn't supposed to be there. He couldn't sign. I think the mystery was part of the appeal for him? But when I got to know him, he made me angry a lot. He wanted to help, but he would do things like give me things to hold so I couldn't sign, and then talk for me. Or hold my hands. One day, I just got so angry, and I couldn't do anything but play charades to explain it to him. I think that's when I knew. Because he didn't get angry back, or laugh at me. He didn't get better right away, but he tried to change. Changing is hard, and most people don't care enough to try. I think that's when I fell in love with him.' The one and only note Stefyr ever folded and put in his pocket. "I'm sorry I kept this. I didn't think about it at the time, I just wanted to think about what it said later, when I'd had some time with what you'd said. I didn't know…" that it would be stealing N'on's words. Or so he has come to assume.

N'on blinks rapidly as he scans over the page, reading his words. A different sort of smile tickles at the corners of his lips. Exasperated? Possibly. But he reaches over to take Stefyr's hand and presses the note into it. When it is once again returned, N'on makes very deliberate eye contact, waits to be sure that Stefyr is paying close attention, and then carefully signs an explanation. "You can't hurt someone with that. Don't steal my words and use them to hurt." He lifts his brows in a quizzical expression and waits for an agreement.

"If I can help hurting people, I do." That Stefyr says this haltingly, with a conflicted expression might mean N'on has inadvertently stumbled into some on-going deep wrestling match of the spirit. It might just mean he's not sure if N'on thinks he's that sort of person or not. It might mean nothing at all. The man is tired, for sure. His hand closes around the note and indicates it with a lift of his hand, "I just kept it to think about," which totally isn't weird. He tucks it away into his pocket again. "I'll ask if there's another one I want to keep." Then, almost an afterthought, "Where's your notebook?" Three innocent words. One naively interested expression.

N'on smiles at Stefyr, with only a touch of worry. "Good person," he signs, then taps Stefyr on the clavicle. If he notes the weirdness of keeping that particular note to think about, he does a pretty convincing impression of pretending not to. Luckily, Stefyr conveniently diverts attention to something that should be more innocent, but makes N'on give an uncomfortable smile. "Lost it," he signs, probably a little too quickly, and then waves the question off as though it were some sort of annoying bug. "I'll make another one."

There's a slight flinch at either the signs or the touch or just the whole of the gesture but the tall man doesn't protest. "Sorry," Stefyr replies of the notebook, likely thinking very little more of it, because… why should he? He probably only asked because it's the first time he's seen N'on without it. Then he lapses into silence as they walk, his hands shoving down into his pockets a little further, shoulders hunching just slightly and his expression turning a little vacant (with still no dragon for excuse).

N'on walks along with Stefyr, more than happy to continue walking along in silence for a little while. Now and then, he glances aside at Stefyr, thoughts bubbling just below the surface. As usual. The occasional glazed look probably signals some interference from Zhelinath, but after a few minutes of this, N'on nudges Stefyr's arm to get his attention without interrupting their walk, and signs a question as they go. "How are you?"

Stefyr's herdbeast of a brain wanders as they walk; it's apparent in the distant look, in the way his eyes don't really focus on their surroundings. There's something companionable in walking in silence, but this silence isn't exactly comfortable because it has a less companionable feel than two people walking alone and just happening to be beside each other. It's a little weird, that dynamic. When his arm is nudged, it draws the blond's attention back to the here and now. How is he. It's a question that seems to require a little consideration given the dip in his brows. "Tired," he's said that already, "thinking myself in circles," that too. Finally, something new: "I'm thinking about home a lot, all of a sudden. Nightmares. Dreams." Thankfully he doesn't have to add hallucinations to that list. "Maybe because when the eggs finally crack, coming to the Weyr might not be something I can ever take back. I'm not sure my family would accept me. I'm not sure they'd accept me now." That causes a deeper frown and then a shrug. "I'm going to write to them," which he's been putting off, "to tell them I'm not coming back one way or another. I like my job, I like being here. If there's a lifemate out there for me this time, great." GREAT, HE SAYS LIKE IT WOULDN'T IMMEDIATELY TURN HIS LIFE UPSIDE DOWN. "If not, I'll stand for Leirith's eggs. And the next and the next. And I'll work. And be me." Although something about that last makes his frown grow a little more when it probably should have turned the frown upside down.

N'on's silence makes a perfect voice for Stefyr to spill all of that into. His particular sort of sympathy has a certain all-accepting quality, but perhaps that's just the relief of having the topic shifted away from himself. When he's done, it takes some time before N'on responds. He eventually pulls out a scrap of paper again, and pauses (because walking and writing is even harder than walking and chewing gum). When he's done, he passes the note over and continues along the way. "That's a hard decision. I'm proud of you."

Stefyr stops when N'on stops. He takes the note when it's offered and reads over it. It prompts a laugh. It's not a happy laugh. It's a little sad, a little rueful. He offers the note back as they continue along and he just shrugs. "How is Zhelinath?" It's his turn to distract from himself with a question.

Stefyr's laugh is met with another sympathetic little smile. Growing up is hard! But he's at least willing to let it go as the question returns to Zhelinath. He lifts one shoulder with a crooked little smile. "Good," he signs. And as he turns the conversation neatly toward safer waters, maybe the conversation continues to be a little awkward here and there… But it's been an anxious few days. Who can blame either of them?

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