A (Last) Look at Immobile Eggs

Xanadu Weyr - Observation Level
Dark blue seats form a semi-circle around the sands below, the lowest row separated from the multicolored red and white sands by merely a railing. The seats climb upwards, each row a bit higher than the previous, and they are broken up into sections by three sets of staircases. Between the first and second section, a glass wall descends to separate the observers from the heat of the sands. Air is kept in motion through a set of fans, and so these seats are quieter and cooler than the rest… though the noise and heat of the sands is still present.

Lights are evenly spaced along the outer wall, lighting the seats and the sands easily, though they tend to be dimmed unless a major event is taking place. A large balcony overhead connects to the glass wall. Vents for cooling run along the bottom of it, and the ledge provides a place for observers of the draconic kind to watch without obstructing the view for others.

The sand below is variegated in hue, individual grains of red and white that have a pinkish hue when seen from across the circle of the hatching grounds but - up close over that railing - are clearly two varieties mingled.

There's no rule against food in the observation level of the hatching arena (is there?), so despite the heat, it's a popular place to go to blend sustenance and deep thinking, in the case of some candidates. Or at least, one candidate. Stefyr is here, a small wooden box settled in his lap with a variety of pockets to it filled with different foods. It's really quite the smorgasboard to be contained in such a compact package. The fact that there is a second box just like the one currently in his lap under his seat probably means that there actually is or has been enough food for a mountain of a man like the big blond. His pace at eating has slowed and now it's a more casual process while his eyes float over the eggs. He's probably not willing them to move, but maybe he is trying to inscribe the memory of how they look in his heart lest he wish to recall it later.

Some candidates might find other reasons to hide themselves away on the observation level, but thinking is certainly one of the better ones. The fact that it also offers a view of those eggs they're waiting for leaves mixed reviews. It could be either a good or bad thing depending on who one talks to. Katailea's quiet footfalls may or may not be noticed but when her icy green eyes happen upon the blonde man already there she pauses. Close enough for conversation to occur, but not close enough to make it easy. Instead she turns her gaze to the cavern wall across the way and drifting down towards the gold and the eggs on the sands below as she leans against the rail, arms crossed over the top.

Stefyr isn't so distracted by food and eggs (that are not for eating) that he doesn't notice the figure coming into his vicinity. "Hey Katailea," is quiet, because the observation level generally is when there aren't shenanigans going on instead, but the smile that comes with the words is friendly and welcoming. He gestures a hand to the empty seat next to him once he's spoken in case she'd care to sit instead of lean. "Do they look any different to you? I can't tell from here." It's an invitation for conversation, for something, but not so pushy a set of remarks that she couldn't just ignore the big blond if she so wished.

Did she not hear him? Or is she ignoring the fact that he's there? One. Two. Th- And then the petite blonde finally turns her head towards the voice. "Hey," she returns the greeting with her own smile and a moment later she's pushing off the rail to turn more fully in the other candidate's direction. "No," her answer to the question follows as she moves towards that offered seat. "They look the same as yesterday," comes as she settles beside him and her gaze lands back on the eggs below. "Do they look different to you?"

If the big blond is aware that it takes a few beats for Katailea to respond to him, there's no look of impatience or concern on his face to indicate it. Stefyr shifts in his seat as she settles herself so he can be angled a little more toward her and a little less toward the eggs, relocating that box of bite-sized foods onto his outside thigh. "Hungry?" He offers casually before glancing back out to the eggs. "Hard to say. I can never tell if they actually look different or if maybe Xermiltoth or Ilyscaeth rearranged them a little and now I'm looking at a part of an egg that I just hadn't really noticed before, or if my memory is just awful and I'm confusing one egg for another. I do try to keep them straight." That's all very earnest, of course. "Did you know Cita keeps a notebook logging all the impressions Ilyscaeth and Xermiltoth have gotten from them? Their reactions to them being laid and everything?" There's admiration in his tone, but not overblown.

"No," Katailea declines the offer of sharing that food with a slight shake of her head. A breath in and out and she's still looking in the direction of the eggs if not at them. "Neither can I," she admits to not really knowing for sure if that is one or the other or just a different view of the same. It's the comment of the Junior's notebook that finally pulls her to turn her head in Stefyr's direction. "Really?" the word holding both curiosity and a hint of admiration as well for all the effort that must certainly take. That would be a negative - she didn't know about all that.

"Yeah," Stefyr can confirm the existence of the notebook. "She enjoys sharing it, I think. I liked hearing about it, anyway. I thought if I do find a lifemate out there that I'd like to get the information from her, about the egg it came from." His eyes go back to the eggs, expression thoughtful, tinged with worry. It's a quiet moment later that he murmurs, "I'm nervous. I mean, I always was, but… more now. It's more real now. Even more real than the first time I was up close with the eggs." His tone implies it was plenty real then, too. "How are you doing, with everything?" He asks softly, gently, his eyes searching Katailea's face with both genuine care and earnest interest.

Katailea shifts to mirror his angle as she one foot is hooked up behind the knee of her other leg. "That could be interesting," she agrees, "but in some ways I don't know that I'd want to know. Its that shift in his expression that finds her sliding the hand closest over from her lap to his thigh. Reassurance. An attempt at if nothing else given she's not quite so relaxed as she tries to imply with the neutrality not quite so perfectly maintained in her expression, her other hand idly worrying something hidden in her pocket. "I'm.. okay." She may not saying, but she has her own reservations, hesitations even about the event that could begin for the both of them on those sands at any moment. Nervous? Yes. She just won't speak the word.

Stefyr's big hand slides to cover Katailea's on this thigh, lingering without thought, a return of comfort for the one she offered. The touch gets a small smile out of lips that are a little tighter than moments before. "I feel like there should be more that we're doing, you know? To be ready. Only it's the kind of thing I guess you can't be ready for. No amount of dodging practice would feel enough." That's wry, it comes with a bland look, but that's how those things pair with Stefyr. He sort of changes the topic on the heels of that remark, tilting his head a little to the side as he remarks, "Rhody's offered to drink me under the table if we both don't impress. Will you be joining us? I think it'll take about one drink for me, since I've not been able to have any since Turnover," when he quietly lost his drinking privileges for over-indulgence. Oops.

Wry though it might be and as uninspired that bland look of his might be the comment that it's paired with pulls a quiet giggle from Katailea along with a soft smile. "You're probably right," she'll agree that dodging practice probably won't make any difference at this point. "Absolutely," the reply to the question of joining he and Rhodelia for drinks should there be no impression in the stars for any of them. It's a lie, Stefyr! Green eyes shift quickly back to the sands as she shakes her head for his admission. "Maybe two," she'll give him a little more credit in that department even if there's teasing in her voice.

"Ha," Stefyr will greet her confidence in his ability to hold his liquor with a nod and grin. "I wish. I never drank much back home and then here, it was habit to not, except on holidays, really. And see where that got me. With even less experience than I had before. I wonder if weyrlings are allowed to drink at all, or if I'm in for just one very dry stretch if I do end up with a lifemate out there." Those eggs draw his eyes again and then back to Katailea. "Have you spoken with your father yet?" It's quiet, it's gently probing, but not pushing.

"So when you can drink, I need to teach you." That's what she's hearing says that smirk that Katailea sends him when she looks back. "That," she begins of weyrling rules, as she leans just a little closer, "I couldn't tell you." The question that follows however sees her smile fading, her eyes finding some space on the wall across the level while she otherwise all but freezes, tension creeping in for that one topic she's always tried to avoid. Family. "No," not so much an admission as fact. A breath and she's avoiding it again. "Are your parent's coming for the hatching?"

The first assertion earns Katailea a bemused squint. "Is there… a technique?" Stefyr questions with one of those perplexed puppy looks, "Not just… drink to lips and swallow?" Sweet lamb. Lamb that he is, he doesn't press for answers but Katailea's hand on his thigh gets a gentle brush of his fingers over the back of her hand by the one bigger one that's covering it. "No," he can grapple the topic of family for both of them, maybe. "Mum doesn't leave the farm. Da will be too busy. They might send one of my relations to try to talk me into coming back with them, but…" He leaves the box balanced on his thigh to reach up with his hand and scrub across his face. "I'm going to write to tell them I'm not coming back, so no one has to waste a trip. If they even know the hatching is happening. If they could even get here in time for it if they wanted to." His brow furrows at all those ifs, but they're not ones he can do anything about so after a moment he sighs with a distinctly heavy edge, letting it all go.

"Practice." That's the technique. There's a light squeeze in return, both a silent thank you for his hand and reassurance offered for his answer. Katailea shifts in her seat, sliding perhaps a touch closer, leaning to rest her head on his shoulder when he doesn't press for more of an answer from her. "You have friends that are riders, someone could bring them if they wanted. If you wanted," she adds, looking up towards the man. Couldn't they? "They write, that means something Stefyr. If you want them to be here tell them that. Let them see that you're okay. You're happy here. You're not alone, you have Rhodelia, N'on, Keruthien, Risali. If not at least tell them that. Don't tell them you're not going home. Tell they you are home." If there's one thing she's figured out about Stefyr during their time as candidates it's that.

"Sounds like a lot of hangovers," Stefyr observes, making the appropriate face for dealing with any hangovers, let alone a lot of them. As Katailea shifts to rest her head on his shoulder, he likewise moves to make himself a good prop for that. Her next idea has him drawing in a breath, holding it a three count and then releasing it. His head shakes, "I don't think any of them would willingly climb onto a dragon, let alone go between. Even I haven't done that yet," and there's a thoughtful frown, because… maybe he missed something in all his personal preparations for riderhood? Something he hadn't even thought of but is pretty important? Maybe that's added to some sort of intention list on the spot. "I think it might be better for them to remember me as who I was. I don't think they'd know or like who I am now." There is neither remorse nor self-pity in his assessment, simply candor regarding the situation as it stands. "I think I'm made more for Weyr ways of thinking than farm ways." There's no doubt though that he's taken in the blonde's advice, given the thoughtful little hum-rumble in his chest that meets her recommended course, even if he doesn't commit to following the course.

Katailea gives a shrug, "Didn't say it didn't hurt," learning to hold your liquor. "No?" she comments following Stefyr's assessment of his family not being likely to fly dragonback. "Not for everyone I suppose. The one time I did I was scared," she'll admit to that, eyes glinting with a mischievous streak for the remark that follows. "My father was furious." For as all that she seems to prefer not to discuss her family she might seem almost proud that she could make the man angry. Its a fleeting thought however as she offers a subtler smile for the introspection of the man beside her. "Whatever they think, if it makes a difference I like you… who you are."

"So you're a rule-breaker then?" Stefyr inquires, his tone lightly teasing. "My da was furious about riding runners too fast," probably rightly, "I think the sight of me on a dragon would've stopped his heart. Might still do, really," there's a little frown for that, but it's shrugged off with just the one shoulder that isn't presently playing pillow. He leans his head down to press his cheek briefly to the top of her head. "I like me better now that I'm knowing me, here." IF THAT MAKES ANY SENSE. "But thank you." Because a compliment is a compliment and he'll take that as one. "And likewise," because it would probably hurt him to actually pay a compliment in the normal way right now. "We didn't even have firelizards back on the farm. I'd never seen one until I was on the road for a week and was getting nearer the Weyr. I don't think my family would have the faintest idea how to deal with a dragon."

"No, not really," Katailea replies with a light shake of her head for his teasing. "I've never ridden a runner." A far more normal experience than some and yet not one she can count. Her chin lifts so that she can send him a glance and offer up a smile without moving too far, her hand turning beneath his to give a light squeeze. Its when he returns that compliment, such as it is, that she lifts her head from his shoulder, pulling back. “We didn’t have many of them around the ship,” she offers to the idea of firelizards, “They were in port often enough. Pretty sure your family will figure out how to deal with one when the time comes.”

When Katailea moves to stop leaning, he doesn't seek to stop her. Stefyr shifts in kind, sitting up after another brush of fingers to her hand to pull the slide-in lid of the wooden tray out from under it, sliding it into place and leaning forward to place the tray on top of its twin under his seat. He'll probably remember to take them with him when he goes, which isn't yet, evidently for he settles back in his seat, slouching down a little lower and letting his long legs take up more room in the air space between the rows. "Time may never come," he murmurs finally. "Ten eggs. More than thirty of us." He gives a little shrug of his shoulders, looking up at Katailea now from his new vantage. "The odds really aren't that good. I've never placed a bet before, but I'm not sure my first one would be on myself. But if I don't impress, I'll have my job here. And there will be Leirith's clutch." He searches her face. "If your lifemate isn't out there this time, will you stay for the next clutch?" The one that can't be too far behind the one on the sands now. Maybe they've covered this ground before, but if they have, maybe the answer has changed now.

Katailea pulls her own had back to her lap when Stefyr sets to packing up, but she doesn't aim to get up and walk away yet either. In fact when he slouches down further into his seat she's shifting to turn more fully towards him, sitting sideways on hers. "The odds are aren't a guarantee of anything and I've seen worse. But like you said," the young woman goes on offering what she hopes is a reassuring smile, "you still have your job here and there's always next time." She's far more confident in his chances than hers if the way she looks away at the question posed to her is any indication. The hand to the outside of the seat finding her pocket again. "No," she replies with a slight shake of her head. They may have covered it before, they may not have, but either way her answer remains the same. "It's high time I stop chasing frivolous dreams," the words come from her lips, but they don't sound like her, rather like something she's been told likely more than once. Something she expects to hear again. Something she might just finally have to face. A crack in her own walls that's quickly hidden by the grin she turns back to Stefyr, "The odds might not be great, but I'd bet on you."

Wave a bone in front of a puppy, it's only natural that that bone is met with straightening up, and up and all the way until Stefyr is sitting up and twisting in his seat to cock his head comically as he looks down at Katailea. Odds, jobs, and maybe even the impending hatching are all briefly shoved down the list of things the big blond has any interest in. His brows are lifting bemused. "Hey, hey, what's this?" WHAT IS IT? IT MIGHT BE A BONE, STEFYR-PUPPY. "'Frivolous dreams'?" Even as he say it, his hand is lightly lifting hers, locking his fingers in between her before he draws it up to have their joined hands hovering over the armrest between them. As he searches her face, his fingers play between hers, across her hand, wherever those fingertips can readily touch. It's both anticipated comfort and distraction and maybe it's just nice? Maybe that's the other reason why. "Would you prefer to chase boring dreams? Paper pushing," waht is his job again? "And summing numbers, keeping inventory?" He quirks a brow at her, his tone playful but maybe just a little gently challenging.

"What?" Whether it's for his question of what or that look of his its the response Stefyr is met with. Katailea might have said more if he wasn't doing that. If distraction was his aim all along he succeeded, at least for a few seconds. Her other hand freed from her pocket reaches out for his. Until there are questions which bring a fleeting almost frown which is hidden by a smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes when she meets his. "At least there I know what's expected, what I'm up against." Unlike so many of the twists this candidacy has taken.

"Did you know what was at the bottom of the cliff when we jumped? Beyond what a glance told you." Stefyr asks after more moments of that distraction because, of course, when she produces her other hand, his other hand comes to meet it and distract it. Fingers and palms play with only half the man's attention devoted to the casual interaction that is the lighter counterbalance to what could be getting really quite serious. His eyes aren't always on her face, but his attention does come back from watching the mesmerizing patterns their fingers might be making together at regular intervals to gauge whatever there is to see. Does she see the parallel between the cliff jumping and standing for these eggs? Obviously he does, or is trying to draw one.

"Beyond a glance, no, but it's not like I haven't done it before." Not at that exact location, but similar. Could there be some sort of parallel drawn? Sure. Does Katailea follow that? Perhaps not. If she sees it, she’s either avoiding or not commenting. Her attention split between the face of the man in front of her, the playful dance of their hands in one anothers and something hidden in the back of her mind. "It was fun though, wasn't it," she says more comment than question, a smile finding her lips at the memory of that particular day.

Never fear, fair Katailea. Stefyr wouldn't leave you wandering in the wilderness of his very strange ideas without a guide. "Standing is a little like cliff jumping, I think. At a glance, you can see that you'll be a dragonrider, but you don't ever really know what that means until you get there. Maybe it's amazing. Maybe it sucks. It's one shell of a ride along the way." He shrugs, pausing in his manipulation of her fingers. "I've been thinking about the different dragons I've met and what it would be like if my lifemate were like them. Can you imagine another Leirith?" COULD THE WORLD HANDLE MORE THAN ONE? Surely not. "Zhelinath seems… calmer?" Well, less booming and invasive (YES, WE'RE LOOKING RIGHT AT YOU, LEIRITH). "Or a creepy one," he's probably thinking of a certain very creepy one, ZYDDAGATH, THAT'S YOU, BABY. "When I first started thinking about being a dragonrider, after I got this knot," his head rolls a little to indicate the candidate's white, not willing to break the contact of their hands, "that each dragon was right for their rider somehow. I'm sure it's true, in a way. Every dragon I've met seems to love their lifemate, in their own way. But that seems to vary as wildly as any human love I've seen." His expression shows the way his mind wanders off to a distant somewhere somewhen else then, his eyes on their hands, but… not really here, for a moment. He'll bring his attention back when Katailea speaks.

Katailea listens, or rather she tries to as he leads her through that all. Her own thoughts wanting to interrupt, but she keeps herself from doing so. A shake of her head at it all, her eyes closes as she does. "See, its not like that at all. I never saw that." Her being a rider. "Not like you do." On one note she'll agree, "They're all different, all right for their lifemate. And there will be one that's right for you." That said as she offers a light squeeze of his hands as her eyes open though she's still not looking at him, her gaze averted towards the armrest between them. "No, I can't imaging another Leirith," said with a hint of a laugh or something close. "Its more like a storm. You can see it coming, you can try to be as ready as you can, but what comes out the otherside…" another shake of her head, "you don't know until its over."

Stefyr's hands cease the play while Katailea draws her own metaphor for him and his fingers lace in with hers on both hands, gently squeezing. "I could see it. The storm. And you as a rider." He smiles at her as though he's conjuring the image of her just that way as he looks at her, adding imaginary riding gear, goggles and helmet. "So if you don't see that, what do you see? What frivolous dreams?" He pulls her hands a little bit toward him only to let the limbs return to that middle ground floating over the armrest, head tilting to the side, eyes still on her face with that thoughtful interest of his.

“I didn't think about it any further than saying yes to Risali when she offered, which was probably stupid since I was drinking with her." Yes, don't make potentially life altering decisions while being plied with alcohol. There's one life lesson for you. "What?" it's almost accusatory, Katailea’s attempt at keeping a straight face bordering on a smile. She might not see what he does, but she can see those wheels turning in his head with that. That question though, what does she see? She hesitates in answering, and when she does its a helpless shrug. "I don't know," hard to admit, but she does. "I don't know what comes after the storm, if I ride it out or if I drown. But if walking out on the sands when its time is like jumping off that cliff… I'll jump if you do." He might be aiming at pulling her hands only but she moves with them, leaning just that much closer.

Though Stefyr's expression as he watches Katailea's face while she speaks is that attentive listening face he's so frequently wearing, a smile tugs into life at her last remark. His brows flick up in slight challenge. "Unless I'm dying in the infirmary or they won't let me step onto the sands, I will be there to take that jump. None of the crazy things I've done in the last four months have landed me somewhere it doesn't turn out I'd rather be, yet. I trust this one won't either." Oh, sweet lamb. Whether it's heartbreak or joy on those sands, there's so much that can go sideways. He'll even lean a little bit to tell her so, shortening the distance between them for that moment. "There's one thing I can't decide about the hatching though," he pitches his voice low, lower, until it's almost a whisper. It's super serious. Until he grins. "How should I do my hair?" HIS SHORT, STUPID BLOND HAIR. ASS.

"Well I hope nothing so tragic happens between now and then," Katailea returns letting out a breath. Oh so many things could go sideways, but neither of them are going to be naming those just now. "Oh?" her short question is just as quiet, her volume matching his as she interjects her curiosity between beginning comment and that grin. For that question she only gives a slight shake of her head, "Your hair is fine," whispered in answer, whatever space remains shrinks even further.

"Not… a ribbon? Two? Some fancy earrings?" Stefyr breathes into the small space between them, expression a combination of wry and a pretended dubiousness. "I've been feeling so plain without them." His lips part to show just a little of his teeth in a bemused smile. If their proximity is something he's encouraging, or even taking note of, there's no sign of it in his face. He doesn't move away, but neither does he move closer to the blonde, though his eyes do a fairly thorough search of hers.

Katailea blink slowly, eyes closing for a second before they open again, amusement evident at those suggestions. Green eyes sparkling with mirth and perhaps a mischievous glint is hidden there as well. "Buttercup, you're anything but plain," she whispers back before that small space between them becomes a chasm by comparison when she leans back to a more companionably conversational distance, fingers flexing between his.

Stefyr sighs. Is it because Katailea is leaning back from that intimate distance that he may or may not have registered? It's possible, but it's more likely that its part of his put on response of, "Then I guess I'll stick to plain white robe with no adornments." Since that's the general rule. He flashes a grin her way as he straightens, releasing one hand but keeping the other as he shifts a little to look out at the eggs again. "Not long 'til the storm hits." He murmurs, tone contemplative, and if Katailea has no more that needs saying for now, he'll lapse into silent observation of eggs that only move when they're moved (so far) and whatever inner thoughts go with this companionable watching, the only sign that he's still there that his fingers play lightly in hers.

Katailea follows suit, shifting once that one hand is released to look back towards the eggs. A smirk flashed back in his direction, "Sounds like a plan," she agrees easily on his choice of dress for when that storm comes. Not long at all now. "Stefyr?" It's a whisper that doesn't wait for an answer before she leans her head back against his shoulder, "Thank you." Content then to sit in that silence, and given long enough that play of fingers may end as well as she lets herself relax enough to fall asleep, if only briefly.

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