Building Bridges

Xanadu Weyr - Rustic Treetop Cafe
Perched on the cliff overlooking Xanadu's beach is a gnarled and massive skybroom tree. The bark and outer layers are sturdy enough to support the thriving, brushy top, but the interior, which is hollow, contains a spiral staircase that leads to a cafe built on a high platform amongst the branches. With a panoramic view of lake, sky, Weyr and the mountains beyond, the treetop eatery offers both sheltered seating just inside the trunk and tables on the wide deck that encircles the old tree.

The cafe's decor is comfortable and rustic, but closer inspection shows the smallest embellishments to be artfully combined into one detailed masterpiece. The wood of the doors, floor and walls of the trunk have been stained a dark mahogany that lends the space a sense of intimacy. Tables in various sizes have been carved to mimic driftwood, the chairs and benches padded with oiled sailcloth cushions to provide weather-proof comfort. Each table has an aged brass lantern filled with shells and agates gathered from Xanadu's shores, the sparkling natural mosaics holding tapered candles upright in their embrace. Lamps hang from the ceiling on silver poles, the thick frosted glass carved into intricate pastel shells or swirling white-capped waves. At night the colored glass softens the glowlight to enhance the ambience.

During the day, the retractable doors allow leaf-spattered sunlight to fill both the outer deck and the smaller interior with green and gold light, as well as allowing pleasant breezes to cool the interior. On clear nights, farviewers perch on the elaborately carved railing are free for use to enhance the gorgeous view of the stars over the Caspian Lake, the Sea of Azov beyond and the rock formations of the Weyr.

Late afternoon finds the beginning of autumn to be a very nice day, indeed! The skies are vividly blue and clear, the air cooler and carrying that crispness to it that is unique to the season. Below and in the distance, the forests are just beginning to turn color. It’s perfect weather and a perfect day to be out on the cafe’s deck and yet the venue isn’t overly crowded. K'vir has settled himself in the corner, near to the edge and prime location for the best views. The table in front of him has a bound ledger on it, thinner than most, but clearly something important — and being currently ignored. Maybe he’s finished with it? Instead, he is reclined in his seat, a large mug of something fragrant in his hands and gradually sipped upon when not lowered to his lap. All in all? The Wingsecond looks to be relaxed and calm, if not lost in his own head.

Sweaters go with shorts, right? In Stefyr's world of fashion, they do. His is a light, grey pullover with a knit style reminiscent of sailors and the patterns of their knots, and it's paired with khaki shorts, but a blue shirt color pokes out to add a little color to an otherwise dull colored ensemble that he probably threw together in five seconds or less. (Because each piece was clean, okay? That's the bar. It's low.) Who can say just what draws the tall candidate here on this particular day. It may be the weather or the view of the leaves starting to change, or it may just be a place with a table and space to write for his still new-to-him messenger bag is slung over his shoulders and his eyes scan the seats on the patio for either someone or a place to sit. In this case he finds both with his blue gaze as it hitches and comes back to K'vir. He almost doesn't approach, hesitating and then hesitating more, hands seeking the safety of his pockets, but then he does. He actually manages to be casual in his, "Hey." His eyes touch briefly on the ledger, but not in an intrusive manner, more to simply acknowledge it. "Would you mind if I joined you? Maybe… ask you questions? About dragons and dragonriding?" At least he can lay out that this should be a safe discussion and hopefully not so awkward and fraught as the last.

K’vir isn’t going to judge anyone on their clothing, let alone a sweater and short combination! There could be FAR worse (and he’s probably witnessed a good handful in his lifetime, okay?). He doesn’t mind the intrusion either, though he’s not as quick as some to be pulled from his thoughts. A slow blink and then his eyes focus more firmly on Stefyr, a vague smile in place even before he’s gesturing for him to sit down. “Go ahead,” he murmurs in a welcoming manner. “Settle in. Don’t mind it at all, as you found me while I’m not busy.” Even if some of his work is literally out in the open and on the table for him to see. His mug rests in his lap, still firmly held by one hand while the other rejoins it. “So,” Why beat around the bush? K’vir’s going straight to business here. “What’d you want to start with?”

It does bear asking, since Stefyr works in an office where there are ledgers, "This isn't busy?" He gestures an open hand toward the book as he sweeps the carry strap on his bag over his head and settles it on the ground beside the chair he backs out to settle into. His arms fold lightly on the tabletop, fingers of one hand picking a little at the purls of yarn that indicate the sweater's secondhand (or at least long-time possession) origin. "You said your experience has been a little unique?" The candidate offers, "Maybe start… there? How so?" His blue eyes search K'vir's face a moment for … something he doesn't find and he seems to relax, expression shifting to one of intent listening. This isn't just a way to bridge a gap, it's a genuine interest in the vital information K'vir might have to offer.

“It’s just a Wing roster,” K’vir points out with a dry chuckle. NOT BUSY! Just the usual, everyday, mundane things facing a Wingsecond. He’ll take a shallow sip from his mug, while Stefyr settles in and also begins to fidget; something he tries not to pointedly note with a glance of his eyes. Another vague smile, as the questions are laid out and there’s a low exhale from the older bronzerider. “Best way to explain it is from that point, anyhow. The beginning, I mean…” So Stefyr chose WELL in his inquiries! There’s no discomfort in his posture or his expression, just a quiet sort of thoughtfulness as he gathers his thoughts and picks his words carefully. “Because I was Searched when I was twelve. Youngest Candidate in my whole class, sometimes by large gaps. I’d never been outside of Fort in my life, except with my parents on the rare occasion and yet… there I was. Alone in Igen, thrust into a life I thought I knew and understood but really… didn’t. Chores kept me busy but I didn’t really get the whole bonding experience. How could I? When just about everyone outstripped me in age, life experience and just… maturity. So imagine my surprise when I Impressed Zekath! Weyrlinghood was tough. Physically, mentally. I had to grow up and mature during my training, faster than most boys my age would. I guess what helped is that Zekath is very black and white when it comes to the world. We were a good pair.” But? Obviously it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. K’vir’s eyes visibly darken, his jaw working silently but he doesn’t voice whatever it was that brought the change. “I’ve been a rider longer than almost half of you ever will be, before you even reach your mid twenties. It’s all I’ve ever known.”

Stefyr's briefly enlightened nod does really understand given that his hands do see those sorts of things in his work, too, even if it's usually just to fetch and carry to make sure the Weyrleader has what he needs for his various meetings with people like K'vir and K'vir's wingleader. The young man's blue gaze remains fairly intently on K'vir's face, though his posture and other physical cues surely are watched for and noted in their turn. The level of focus being given to the bronzerider could be considered unnerving, but it's also certainly respectful. What Stefyr lacks is any kind of comparable experience to what is being shared with him now, but that makes him listen all the more intently. "That sounds challenging for someone young." His look turns briefly introspective, perhaps trying to recall what twelve turn old Stefyr was doing as a point of personal comparison. "Everything I've been told indicates a baby dragon is a big responsibility. How did you manage?" There is, after all, a few young candidates in the current class and the big man may be looking with an eye toward, "What kinds of things helped you most to adjust to it all during weyrlinghood?" What can he do for those young people if the should happen to find a lifemate on the hatching sands. And more than that because it's not just how he can use this information, it's also about K'vir, and… "Zekath. What is he like?" Other than black and white, since he's offered that already. And that's not all because Stefyr has lots of questions, K'vir. LOTS. "Do you feel like it being all you've ever known has helped you in your life as a rider?" HOW? It's probably the unspoken follow up.

Is there some regret being felt, for offering and accepting Stefyr’s desire to question him? Not at first! Now? K’vir’s starting to second guess, as they start veering into topics that are difficult to keep on neutral grounds. The way his brow knits heavily and his mouth draws to a grim but thoughtful line is indication enough that he’s already fumbling his answers. “It certainly was. Candidacy and Weyrlinghood tend to be… but based on the individual. You’re probably facing a slew of things I never did or some run similar. They weren’t wrong telling you that,” he admits with a smirk. “It’s a lot of work and the first few months are some of the best and worst. You’re both learning. You have to make a lot of adjustments, especially to having a whole being now merged with you in every way possible.” He lifts one hand to tap the side of his temple. With another low exhale, he’ll set his mug down on the table as well. “I managed because it was easy enough to lose myself in the training. I wanted to succeed and prove I was capable and… so I did. But I was held back, because no Wing would take a barely fifteen Turn old kid, graduated weyrling or no.” Shoulders lift in a small shrug, that’s all water under the bridge now, even though teenager-K’vir was rather bitter over it. “Zekath is… I guess what most folk would expect in a bronze. Devoted. Hard worker. Strong willed. I think if we were in Threadfall times, he’d be the fighter one expects. Live and die by duty, you know?” Which may explain, right then, why they’re in Galaxy and no other Wing! Then they get to that last question and for a moment, K’vir does look a touch uncomfortable. “Yes and no?” That wasn’t an answer, but he seems almost at a loss, in his faltering.

Stefyr isn't so intent in his aims that he has lost sight of the man behind the questions, and his lips tip just a little in a frown as he takes in at least one of the telltales, subtle though such a sign might be. He looks at the table for a few moments, his eyes following the patterns of the wood as he digests some of this new information. "Maybe instead of my asking questions, you should tell me what you think would be useful for me to know? I'm… curious… about everything." But K'vir is not his only resource and if there's a topic that pushes this man out of his comfort zone, Stefyr might hear a story about that from a different rider. He's not aiming to get the bronzerider out of his comfort zone tonight; they had enough of that in their last meeting.

“I don’t know if that’d be a smart idea,” K’vir is at least quick on that reply, if dryly honest in his delivery as his gaze settles firmly on Stefyr. “I don’t want to be coming off like some pretentious asshole who’s gonna assume you need to hear some “advice”. I’m just… I’m not good at explaining anything too in depth when it comes to emotions? It gets muddled, easily.” That’ll be his fair warning to the younger Candidate, though he scoffs lightly. “Yeah, I can see that.” About the curiosity. He knows where said curiosity as already lead too, Stefyr! But they’re not here to hash that out again. Not now, not here. “You trying to get a bigger picture of what you’re facing? Because if you want my only advice on the matter… it’s that you’ll get more answers than you’ll know what to do with. It’s better to get the stories, the experiences, than the cut and canned questions. Take your answers from that.”

"I probably do need to hear some advice," Stefyr returns, but the smile that settles across his lips is wry humor. "I'm collecting as many stories as any rider will tell me, really. And I appreciate you talking with me about yours. It is different from the others I've heard and it's helpful. It's about that big picture. Not just mine exactly, although I suppose that's most pressingly important to me but…" The younger man's lower lip is drawn between his teeth and bitten a moment before he lets it go and he leans forward just a little, because this is important, "The way I have it figured," he voices a thought he has not yet said aloud to anyone (Why K'vir? Inquiring minds do want to know). "If I'm lucky on the hatching sands, then there will be nine other dragons who are my dragon's siblings and my weyrling class." He isn't counting his dragons before they're hatched, not really, he's just fiercely optimistic on this point. "I've been told that I'll be pretty preoccupied with my own lifemate, if that's how things go, but if I can help the others… we're all in this together. So any experience any rider will share might not help me in the immediate, but it might help someone I care about," which might actually be a fairly accurate summation of the blond's whole life philosophy. And so, this brings him to, "Is there any more to your story that you'd feel comfortable sharing with me… sir?" He tries out the title, uncertainly. He's supposed to with that title, but this man is with Risali, so maybe he's not sure which boat the bronzerider rides in when it comes to titles, but he'll offer the option even if the option ends up sounding like a separate question.

K’vir, for his part in this, IS a good listener! Does he always fully grasp what’s being said? No, but everyone’s got their flaws. Stefyr is certainly making it an easy enough discussion and that earlier tension has ebbed again and he’s reclined comfortably in his seat. “Yeah, like I said, the first months or so are tough. The toughest, really, because… there’s no real way to explain it? But you have this whole new bond to focus on and it’s unlike anything you’ll ever experience. You might not… it might not be easy for you to help others. It’d be smart to focus on yourself.” Even though he finds nothing wrong with the valiant desire Stefyr displays. It resonates a little with him and he understands, but he’s not here to feed a potential failing dream or wish. “That’s why you have the Weyrlingmaster and his staff. They’re there to help you and the rest of your clutch mates. Once you’re a bit more strong with your bond, then you’ll all be learning together how to work as a team — more or less. You kind of… hmm. I guess you could say you all reform new bonds among yourselves… and some of that is through helping each other.” Did that make sense? He tilts his head a bit, as if asking it silently with that gesture alone and the way his gaze, unreadable, settles on the young Candidate.

Some people listen but don't hear and usually Stefyr doesn't fall into that category. This time is no exception. He nods his head slowly, perhaps accidentally answering the unspoken question, at the bronzerider's words, definitely thinking through the valuable advice he's being offered. "That… makes sense." Even if the tall young man (who has broad shoulders, but not truly broad enough to hold the weight of the world that he sometimes tries to heft) might not like the taste of the advice when it turns bitter in his mouth. He takes a slow breath and looks up from the wood again to the bronzerider's face, "Do you have any recommendations beyond what I would learn from the Weyrlingmaster and his staff if I impress for bonding with a young lifemate?" In that question is implicit: what worked for you? But the way it's asked allows for K'vir to make it as personal or impersonal as he wishes.

“Why are you asking all the tough questions?” K’vir exclaims with a dry chuckle and somewhat of an exasperated sigh that isn’t truly frustrated. Just, he wasn’t expecting Stefyr to hit on some of the less discussed sides of the usual standard discussions! Smirking, he’ll let his gaze drift out over the railing of the deck and to the vista below. “… I’m not sure if anything I say will be helpful. Again, it’s a personal thing and varies. But, I guess at the risk of sounding cheesy? Follow your gut. Rely on others, help others too, but most of all? Take care of you.” Will any of that make sense? K’vir will allow some silence to fall between them, for Stefyr to chew over whatever there could be to take from that, before he’s turning his gaze back on the younger man. “You’re not having any… doubts, over your decision to stand?” he asks, a touch cautious with each word as though he’s unsure if this should be broached or not.

Stefyr's hands clap together and he makes a 'sorry not sorry' helpless shrugging gesture in the air. "Look, one of the other candidates asked me what my favorite color was the other day and I didn't even know what to tell him." So, see, K'vir? You're not the only one getting the hard questions. The young man flashes a warm smile at the other man to accompany his remark, although there's also the ring of truth there. "I think all that will make more sense if I do impress. Not that it doesn't make sense now, exactly," only it's so nebulous now. If he impresses, it will suddenly, solidly mean things, if he can even keep it in mind that long. And really, although K'vir was owed for asking tough questions, this one is suddenly a tough one for the big blond. A hand comes up to scrub across his face briefly, expression conflicted. "I… I wasn't. I really wasn't. I'm not even sure I am now. I'm… having trouble sleeping. I'm having trouble finding the right words to write home and close the door because I don't want to leave the Weyr. This… feels like home." There's a helpless shrug for that. SorryNotSorry, K'vir, this potential problem isn't going anywhere. "I like who I'm learning I am here, but…" And there's an expression of revelation. It's not an enormous expression, but it's very distinct as he stumbles across something that perhaps wasn't known to him before, "What I'm really worried about is ending up on the sands with a lifemate who sweeps away everything that's become important," and a hand rises in a fist to hold briefly over his heart. "I hear," from the stories, "that everything changes when you impress. I guess I'm worried that now that I'm just starting to like myself, like my life here, that things will change and it might not end up for the best in the end?" And there's a subtle tension that has been held in his shoulders from even before he walked in that just eases, the shoulders dropping a good inch in where they were unconsciously being held. The smile he turns on K'vir after that is… a little bewildered, but pleased. THANKS, K'VIR!

Ahh, and now they get to the root of it, don’t they! K’vir looks just as bewildered but not for long, offering a small if vague smile in return to Stefyr. Doesn’t he truly get what just happened? Probably not, but as it seems something was taken from this exchange? He’ll be satisfied with that. “Sounds like you’ve had a good experience then, so far…” he admits, a touch quietly. The rest is met with polite silence from him and he will nod, at one point, but there is more to it than agreement. “It’s not like you suddenly change on the spot and lose all sense of who you were. That… could happen, but it’d be over time. Everyone changes over time? Whether a dragon is involved or not. When I Impressed, I was still me. Maybe far too young,” Definitely too young but that is another matter and quite different conversation. “To be coping with so much at once, but even with Zekath, I didn’t feel like I’d changed. New responsibilities, yeah but very much me experiencing it all. The changes happened later, when I grew up — actually grew up. Not just pretending at it.” Because, y’know. Riders have to be GOOD and all that stereotypical junk that a child would easily do his best to emulate.

If truth be told, Stefyr is almost certainly still reeling from this new and so central clarity that K'vir unwittingly helped him unearth. That doesn't mean he's not listening, though; it's so ingrained in him to take in what he's offer that he does it, although it's a little more passive, a little more taken in and immediately filed for later reflection rather than to try to process it in the moment. But he does take in enough for him to be able to honestly say, "That's reassuring." He was worried, and these words really do help. The young man might lapse into silence for a long time after that, and really, he does, but only for a few moments before he shakes his head. "This has given me a lot to think about. Thank you." Mum would be proud of those manners, still. "I think… I think I might go for a walk and think it all over… if it wouldn't be rude to-?" He gestures in a way that suggests excusing himself without actually doing so. He looks at the bronzerider's face, his own looking like he's trying to work out a puzzle he didn't even realize he was dealing with, thoughtful but interested in working on that puzzle another day, when he has more of his wits not just scattered to the winds of enlightenment.

“Good. It’s… alright to be uncertain too, you know. There’s a lot of unknown to face,” K’vir continues to talk, not as uncomfortable now that his rambling may be of little good. Usually his words have a way of being disjointed and confusing, but to be told ‘thank you’ and to see that it seems to have brought some good? Is comforting. “So, don’t feel like you shouldn’t be asking these questions. One of my regrets, is that my younger self didn’t. I just… tried to figure it all out on my own. Because that’s what I assumed adults did and I didn’t want to appear weak.” Bad idea, younger Kyzen! Oh, the amount of trouble he could’ve avoided! Ruefully, he shakes his head. “Live and learn, I guess. And no, it’s not rude at all.” There’s a gesture, indicating that Stefyr is free to go when he pleases. K’vir is making no sign of movement and likely the bronzerider intends to linger here for awhile longer. It’s a beautiful day, after all, sin’t it?

Stefyr doesn't rise quickly. He does, rise, reaching a long arm down to sweep up his bag as he gets to his feet and lifts the strap over his head, slinging it across his body. He's looking at K'vir though, with that same look and then there's a smile, lips curled distinctly at edges, but not a smile that's over-eager. "Can we talk again sometime?" Not that this went poorly by the candidate's estimation, but when one is in the position Stefyr is, being mindful of possible unknown boundaries seems a good way to go. The hopeful slant of his smile and the tempered brightness in his eyes is a pretty good argument that he would genuinely like another chance to talk with the older man.

“Yeah, of course we can.” K’vir will certainly not be against more conversations of this kind! Their first was certainly far more awkward and rocky, but… these are certainly helping mend or build a few bridges. He will smile again, in that small way of his but no less friendly. “Enjoy the rest of your day, Stefyr. Oh,” Quite belatedly, but his mind jumps to a missed detail as they end their little meeting. “And don’t worry on calling me ‘sir’. K’vir is fine.” But not Kyzen, notably. “That’ll change… if you do Impress but I’m not so much a stickler on formality.” So if he slips up? K’vir won’t tell.

"Thanks," again. It's quieter, but still meant and might just be for being able to call him by his name, or maybe is for his willingness to mend or build fences at all. Stefyr flashes a wider smile to the man before a slight duck of his head serves as a nod and he turns to make his way back the way he came and out to walk, shoeless once he arrives, on the beach below.

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