The Next Moment and the Next

Xanadu Weyr - Weyrleaders' Office
Office and retreat, this is the domain of Xanadu's Weyrleaders. The door is in the southern wall, quite close to the western end while the northern wall is dominated by big, expansive windows, framed by sumptuous deep blue drapes edged with a brilliant gold braid and tied back with a thick rope of braided gold and blue cord. In between, the western wall is covered floor to ceiling with shelves that house all sorts of records, manuals and supplies that are used on a day-to-day basis.

The southern wall has the Weyrleader's desk — plain fellis wood, well polished and masculine. From behind his desk, the Weyrleader can look straight through the windows and out onto the main airspace of Xanadu. The eastern wall is where the Weyrwoman's desk resides: a lovely piece of furniture made of warm cherry wood. From her seat, a glance sideways gives her an equally good prospect out the window. There are a few other seats, some comfortably arranged around a low round table for small, informal meetings while there also some that can be drawn up to one of the desks.

On the west side of the door, the space is occupied by a low oblong table where refreshments can be set without someone needing to intrude. There is also an 'incoming' tray where incoming correspondence or similar items can be left.

It's been one of those days. The kind that results in Stefyr and Risali dancing barefoot behind the locked door of the office while their various coworkers are busy at meetings or other tasks. This is work, okay? The tall blond is actually getting better, with all the times that there's been a stolen moment of lessons to just shake out the body aches that are the unfortunate result of a life frequently behind a desk. There's only the soft music of Stefyr's hum to move to, but that's already. It comes and it goes as he focuses more on steps and less on music, but that's okay, too, in this stolen moment that has no expectations in it. "Is it time to ask?" He interrupts his hum to make his ritual inquiry about whether or not he should ask her how she's doing. It doesn't distract from the pattern of steps that has now been learned well enough to include a few fancy moves like spins of her away from him and drawing her back and even the occasional dip, not that this tune is particularly dip-friendly.

'Is it time to ask?' That question brings electricity, an upward sweep of lips that starts in the middle and presses outward, a scrunch of nose that complements creases at the corners of her eyes as mischief manifests physically on the Weyrwoman. "I don't know," Risali whispers into that space — interrupted by the outward push of a spin, by the way she steps out of Stefyr's space and then right back into with a collision, a meeting of bodies, her small frame jarring against his much larger one. Up onto the tips of her toes she goes, leaning her chest into Stefyr's body so that her chin might find purchase on his sternum, her teeth finding her lower lip in tandem as if she means to impede the movement of her lips. "It depends on what you're going to ask me." And then she's moving again; Risali is the catch of fingertips against Stefyr's palm, the gentle curling sweep of them as she spins herself under his arm and halts her momentum by catching him around the middle. One hand comes to rest on his hip, then the other, the tiny woman leaning so that she might peer up at her — their — assistant from around his side, poised somewhere near his navel. All that damn hair leans with her, creates a cascade of black, loose-curls that stray away from her body, threatening to sweep the floor. "Am I okay?" And here she comes again, another hint of fey movement, a shift of compact-yet-agile body as she brings herself back around to face him, to stand toe-to-toe with him, digits dragging from his back, to his hip, and then inward. Don't worry; Risali is just catching at his tunic, bunching it into her fist as grey eyes jump between blue — alive with a quiet amusement, a deviant mischief, something warm. "Yes." Because she's here, and they're dancing, and what could possibly be wrong with that? "But I'm craving waffles and mashed tubers, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it." A beat, a hint of teeth on a soft huff of something meant to engender laughter, and then, "Are you?" Okay, she means — and she waits, gaze riveted, breath seized in her lungs, tiny body already pitching forward again on the tips of her toes as if she means to be closer and hear the answer. Except that maybe it's all just a little awkward, because Risali might only be four months along, but even being blessed with babies who like to be carried further back on her hips doesn't spare her the wicked schemes of twins. So there's definitely a bump — perhaps not a large bump, but one that's evident enough to hint at just what a hindrance it intends to be.

There's a complementary action in the Weyrwoman's dance partner as his lips turn up in a soft smile that is two parts amusement and one part something else just for her. Stefyr's patient, of course, welcoming when that smaller body collides, one hand teasing a brush across her side as they adjust for the next move. Maybe there's a slight tremor in his frame when she catches at his shirt, but when he leans down, and closer and closer to bring his cheek grazing ever so slightly across hers to where he can murmur sweet nothings in her ear, the words are, "Should I put in a special order in the kitchen?" It's both a joke and not a joke. It probably wouldn't be the first time that he went out of the way to help with one of her pregnancy related complaints, but the way he makes the words sound is a kind of blatant sensuality that he must have picked up from someone, or something. Maybe it was the sexy way Percy read that bit about the pizza back in the barracks on robe-finding/mending night. Waffles are sexy, right? But he's grinning as he starts to pull back and smile down at her with humor dancing in his blue eyes. "I'm not. But I'm not ready to talk about it." He manages to make it part of the dance when he touches his heart. "Something here. Something changing. Not sure how to talk about it yet, or if I want to." Then as he draws her back in for the next step, his arms briefly encircling her in an embrace that, too, gets to pretend to be part of the dance, does he add, "I'll try, when I think I can." To talk with her, about it. Whatever it is.

"You mean you aren't bringing me the entire kitchen?" Risali whispers into that diminutive space, meeting Stefyr's gaze with the beginnings of her own deviant smile when he draws back and — laughter. Laughter becomes her, sends her chin tilting up and all that hair back, shoots lashes down to her cheeks and answers that blatant sensuality so audaciously conspicuous in one-liner deliveries about food. There's something so very Stefyr about that moment, something that steals the breath from Risali's lungs and leaves greys dancing with their own mischief, their own mirth, their own hints of muted admiration until Stefyr is speaking again and that smile pushing at her cheeks falters, gutters out, disappears in tandem with brows that draw in. Risali's lips pull, attempt to form words when she lets Stefyr lead, and lead, and lead and — abruptly stops them once he's embracing her and she's hugging him. Grey eyes jump between blue, concern affecting the intensity with which she watches him, the way those lips press closed again and Risali nods once, sharply. But onto Stefyr's feet she goes, and then onto the tips of her toes from there, fingers pressing to the back of his neck so that she might apply just enough pressure in an attempt to convince him to bow that much larger body down to her level. Why? So that she can press her forehead to his, of course. So that she can hold that contact, share breath a moment, just a moment; so that she can give him her strength, let him know that she sees him and he's not alone. And because the expectation is that there are no expectations, Risali whispers, "Okay," into that space. She does not press him for answers, does not force a conversation Stefyr has made it clear that he isn't ready to have — not yet. So while that concern lingers, while that space remains shared for one, two, three heartbeats too long, Risali eventually forces a smile, one that bears the complexities of quiet support and an emotion too muted. "But I hope that whatever it is," she breathes, "doesn't hurt too much." And now she'll let him go. Now she'll let him dance with her if he still wants to move. "I'm here."

The rumbling sound of consideration in Stefyr's chest is only a prelude to a murmur of, "Easier to bring you to the kitchen," and there's a speculative glint in his eye, as though he might offer a ride in his next breath. But then she has that look. His eyes soften, helplessly, tenderly. Not for the world would he have intentionally taken that joy, that mischief and mirth; he'd sooner join her in that moment. If he knew how, he might have tried to stop the turning if Pern on its planetary axis to linger in the moment where that look lived on Risali's face. But Pern goes on turning and whether he wants the guttering of that look to be the consequence of his next words, that's how it goes. His eyes briefly mourn it, but another moment will come, it must, as every moment follows another. This next moment when the embrace becomes something else, the tall man bends as a tree drawn by a powerful wind, and his forehead comes to rest on hers. He takes solace in this moment, but it doesn't shake loose more confessions from whatever branches of thoughts thread out and out from the man seeking to define an identity. When the space between them shifts, after her acceptance, even her lingering concern, he turns his head just as she starts to put distance between them, one large hand moving to curl the length of her jaw, to keep her from going too far, too fast, so that he can press a kiss to her temple, his face lingering there with a very similar feeling to the moments spent forehead to forehead. Then he lets her go, only to reclaim her in more typical dance positions. "If it hurts, it's because it's necessary," he confides after a moment. If it hurts, it's because I have to let go of things that don't fit to make room for the new. If it hurts, it's because I'm growing, and sometimes that just does." Then there's an abrupt stop, in which her hand is inadvertently jerked, to get her attention before whatever next step of the dance would take her away. Then he takes both her hands, carefully, holding them between them. It's a moment perched on the pinnacle of too serious that is definitely about to go tumbling wildly and wonderfully in rolls down the humor hill, but since that's coming, he can claim this breath of so serious look, of the voice that means each of the two words: "Thank you." Then he's kissing her knuckles before he does, indeed, take them plummeting down the hill, pulling a twist and crouch so his back is presented to her. "Let's go hunt wild waffles and mashed tubers." It is easier to carry one smol Weyrwoman (so carefully) to the kitchen after all.

The moment is gone, passing into another moment that is no less important for the quantity of its weight versus the weightless freefall of humorous ascent. And Risali doesn't mind the transition, does not find it jarring to relinquish her grip in order to be what Stefyr needs her to be in that moment — a friend, a support system, the quiet understanding of both. So she pulls away, and he stops her with hands on her jaw, with a press of lips to her temple that Risali's eyes close for, that the tiny woman goes up on the tips of her toes to press into and waits one, two, three moments until he's spoken again to open her eyes. And she listens, grey eyes attentive to every nuance in facial expression, eyes jumping between his before focusing on the way his mouth forms words because maybe she wants to make sure that she's hearing the right things. It's not until he's done that her focal point becomes those blues again, that the press of her lips into a smile almost painful in its acceptance comes. "Okay," she breathes again — because she understands. Because she gets that this is something he has to do, but that doesn't mean he has to do it alone and so she reiterates for the second time, "I'm here." Whenever he is ready, whenever he is not. She can dance and sing and run until feelings are a distant ache, or press shoulders together while she listens, to help him navigate if he needs advice, to support him if he just needs to talk. Back into step, and then out of it she comes when he jerks her hand, a soft sound escaping her seconds before his lips find her knuckles and Risali squeezes his hand with hers. HE'S TOO TALL, and it's UNFAIR, and in this very moment she hates it. But gratitude comes, and Risali's expression softens into something more tender, something muted, something that lingers even as she watches him twist and present his back and Risali considers him for a long moment. A beat, two, three, and she's coming around him to put her hands on his shoulders, to sink just enough that she can press her forehead to his and catch his eyes and hold them. She doesn't say anything; she waits one, two, three heartbeats, and then she presses her lips to his forehead. "Okay." And there she goes again, moving around him and… further back? "But," comes from too far away. "I get to make up our theme song." AND THEN SHE'S RUNNING, and JUMPING, and landing on his back with a soft expelling of breath that might not be the best idea pregnant, but one she executes regardless. She hisses, and then she laughs, soft, giddy puffs of laughter that escape her as she hauls that tiny body up to an acceptable height on the much bigger man. "Let us venture forth, my mighty steed!" And yes, yes she is pointing a finger towards the door. And yes, Stefyr. Yes the woman will make up some terrible theme song about their wild hunt, and yes she will sing it to every passerby at the top of her lungs (but far, of course, from Stefyr's ear).

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