If Things Were Different... But They're Not.
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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.


When Stefyr is working, there are times he enters without knocking. Sometimes that makes sense. Sometimes, like if the office has visitors who don't understand the bizarre native lay of the land and all the shenanigans that occur in these four walls, the assistant will knock, though he only waits to be acknowledged when the day is "THAT KIND OF DAY." (LOOK, THESE INTRA-OFFICE DYNAMICS ARE HARD TO EXPLAIN EVEN WHEN YOU LIVE IT.) It's not particularly ominous when Stefyr's familiar, unique knock pattern sounds on the doorframe and is followed by the broad-shouldered frame that knock belongs to ducking through the open door to scan the room. It might be slightly more remarkable to see him here because he already left work for the day, to deal with the rest of his varied candidate's schedule, yet here he is in fresh clothes and his hair damp. Also slightly more unusual is the lateness of the hour, but he must have known through some mystical assistant augury that R'hyn would still be working tonight. Given the rain that smacks the windows, it could just be that he came in from outside, but unless the rain smells suspiciously soapy, then the residual wet of his hair is probably from a soak in the hot springs. He's sporting one of the blue shirts he's incorporated in the past few sevens into his previously completely boring colored wardrobe and a pair of his nicer (read: still worn and slightly strained) khaki shorts. The point is, he looks nice, or at least he made an effort to do so. Really, the only thing out of place is that stick on earring that's hanging onto one ear by a literal thread. Maybe he's working on an entirely new kind of fashion trend, but more likely part of his work day included some time in the nursery. Upon seeing that only the Weyrleader is within and giving the slight tilt of his head that's casual greeting, Stefyr's hand reaches, pulls and presses the door shut. He turns from the door, a breath slowly drawn and released before he brings his gaze to fall on R'hyn's. His lips press against each other, holding back words until he has just the right ones. "I have a request." And even though the question, "Can we talk?" is what comes next, that isn't the request. All the signs, including a light blush in his cheeks now, indicates this is not a professional discussion, but all those same signs and the nerves of Stefyr's hands opening and closing at his sides indicate that it is also an important discussion to the young man.

Does R'hyn even notice the stick-on earring? It's hard to tell, but the answer is probably no, given he's prone to finding them - to seeing them - all over his and his weyrmates’ persons. His gaze sweeps Stefyr's form nevertheless, lower lids tensing as he does the math on damp hair, blue-grey eyes flicking towards windows blotted by the heavy downpour before shifting back. Decisions - about posture, about dress - are made, and it's enough that R'hyn stops the activity that has likely consumed the majority of his day: steady back and forth pacing of the floor in front of his desk. The folder that was in his hands is closed, set aside, energy visible in the lines of the big bronzerider's body even as he settles into a comfortable (and likely familiar) position resting back against the desk's wooden edge. Legs cross, hands spread, brows gently loft, but in case that isn't invitation enough, he offers a low, "Of course," followed immediately by a somewhat more gentle, "What's on your mind?" Because the more he clears his head of his own problems, the clearer it is that Stefyr has his own, and it's enough that fringes sweep away from his brows as his head tilts, inviting the candidate to speak.

There's a beat in which Stefyr just looks at R'hyn's face. It's too apparent that whatever this request is, it has him nervous enough to reconsider before he even begins. But he moves slowly, purposefully to come to lean against the desk next to R'hyn. Sometimes, Stefyr sits in the chairs, sometimes he stands, sometimes he's even behind the desk to give R'hyn things or take away files or whatever else is required of him as an assistant (such as removing a live wherry from under the man's desk so he could get back to work; what an eventful day that was). The choice to lean against the desk in a partial mirror of the older man's posture is purposeful and a silent cue that this request comes from not his office minion, not even the candidate, despite the knot still on his shoulder, but the man who would be his friend. Equals, in so far as Stefyr feels he could ever be equal to a man like R'hyn. He takes a steadying breath, nerving himself up to speaking words already decided on. "I might be completely out of line, and if I am, I'm sorry." A PROMISING START. "I don't know the particulars of your situation and I don't want to create any problems. But I wanted to ask… You. I wanted to ask you, because I trust you. Because I don't think you'll laugh at me, or if you do, I'll be laughing too." That blush is getting fiercer. It doesn't matter, really, because he's going to finish saying this. He's going to, this time. "If it…" WHAT. The words falter. "If it would be something you could do," without, he means, screwing anything up, but he doesn't quite say it, "would you teach me…" And here that blush flares until it touches the tips of his ears, "… by doing," the clarification is so important, "how to be with a man, in bed, and not injure him? And… I mean, ideally, also how to please him?" It got awkward there at the end, and his lips press firmly against one another as he stands down (okay, still leans on the desk, but figuratively) the embarrassment this request obviously causes for him. Brave. It's a brave moment for Stefyr, but one tempered by knowledge that this is a weighty request and one that could… but hopefully won't… ruin everything.

Stefyr is an equal to a man like R'hyn. It shows in the way the bronzerider makes space for the candidate to occupy, hands pushing papers back, his own body arching, slick pants sliding him back along the desk's surface so that it's clear that not only can Stefyr join him, but he should. It shows in the gravid tilt of concern about blue-grey eyes, the small notch of worry at his brow, in the minute press of lips that want to ask if everything's okay, but don't quite manage because it might put a halt to whatever momentum Stefyr has drummed up for himself. And so he waits. And so he blinks. And then he blinks again, because the first wasn't bewildered enough, caution and confusion hitting his eyes as he glances to the side, and though he doesn't point a finger to his own chest and mouth the word 'me?' at Stefyr in I-can't-possibly-have-heard-right request for clarification, it's there to read in his gaze nevertheless. Still he does not speak. Still he holds his words, attention moving down Stefyr's form with the sort of slow drag that implies he's seen the candidate umpteen times but has, perhaps, never really looked at him in this way until this moment, until his own cheeks are heating, until it is - indeed - a laugh that first rises to meet Stefyr's request. It's pitchy and awkward, tinged with lingering disbelief as his gaze finally spins away, fingers of his far hand coming up to flick through his own hair, setting already-frazzled edges even further askance as he finally says, "I'm… flattered." OFF TO JUST AS GOOD OF A START. "You are… an attractive man, Stefyr, and I consider you a friend. Under another pair of moons, under a different set of stars…" This might have gone differently. He doesn't say it, doesn't give the candidate that hope to cling to because it would be cruel and unusual, but he can't help the glint of fire that warms his gaze in a way Stefyr's likely rarely seen outside discussions with Ila'den, all smokeless heat and red-coaled desire, as though - without the particulars of his situation, without said problems - he'd have Stefyr against the wall right here, right now. It's gone as fast as it comes, a singular white-hot flicker that finds shoulders rolling, that finds him pushing up off the desk's surface to resume his earlier pacing, a peculiar stalking switch to his step that lends it a touch more grace, making it all but a prowl. "I want—" But whatever the bronzerider wants cuts short on a hissed intake of breath, a shiver running through him that has nothing to do with their conversation, and everything to do with the beast on the other end of his brain, given the instant, unerring shift of his gaze to somewhere far beyond this room. "Did you hear that?" Hear what? There's nothing, yet, but R'hyn's focus lingers, heartbeats passing one after another before he comes back to himself, seems to remember that Stefyr is there, and immediately feels guilty for the interruption. "I'm sorry. I wish I could do that for you, be that for you, but- -" A beat, in which weighted words are somehow emphasized by a dearth of noise from the weyr beyond, as though the whole world were waiting for some indescribable something. "I can't." There's something vulnerable in the delivery of those two words, R'hyn's gaze indescribably heavy as it lifts to peer beneath fringes, in the way his presence sinks down into his own body and suddenly he seems smaller, though he hasn't really diminished at all. It's the look of a person who has chosen their own path at the risk of something they value, a person who is preparing themselves for equal ruin of their friendship, if only because perhaps the gentle decline contains just as much potential to hurt as the inquiry itself.

"Okay," is a breath of a word and it's only a beat after R'hyn's final word. It's acceptance. "I'll be whatever you need me to be," the words escape the young man looking so earnestly at the rider, obviously without filter. In fact, the next words come so quickly that they might be Stefyr trying for a more composed, less raw, though no less real. "I mean, I understand." He knew 'no' was a very real possibility and he was prepared for it. "You… would be ideal for me, but there's so much more to it than that." And he understands. He straightens, fingers brushing down his carefully tucked in shirt. "Thanks for hearing me out." It's almost too formal but it's not meant to be distancing. "I'll get out of your way?" He takes an uncertain step toward the door, because… even though he was prepared for 'no,' even though 'no,' is okay, it's still 'no' (his first 'no') and the … feelings he probably told himself he wasn't feeling or wouldn't feel because of all that willing acceptance are unexpected. He doesn't hear anything, and probably didn't even pay attention to that bit of what the bronzerider had to say, so lost in attention on the other, but even if he thought he did, he might attribute it to a momentary surreal silence in his ears. Briefly, so briefly, Stefyr looks, not hurt, but shaken. Unsure. He turns blue eyes on R'hyn and asks the most important question: "Are we still good?" Did he break anything? Maybe he wasn't prepared for the possibility of that; maybe he felt sure of the strength of their friendship before 'no.'

If Stefyr is the earnest one, where does that leave R'hyn? Hovering in the middle distance, honest but cautious, expression open but gaze narrowed as though prepared for a less reasonable reaction. Lips part for those initial words, as though his first instinct is to deny them, to say something ultimately cliche about how Stefyr shouldn't be what R'hyn wants at all, but anything he could possibly conjure seems trite. Inadequate. As out of depth as he feels now, that hard flush resurging because perhaps being considered an ideal - in any aspect - is more than he can handle. It serves one purpose, at least - it forces him to break posture, to turn away on a long exhale, to push hands back through his hair before turning to meander slow back Stefyr's way. "No. Thank you. I… also understand. Why you asked me. Why you said the things you said," he gestures up and sideways, through walls towards the Star Stones, "and why it… this… matters to you the way it does. Thank you," he reiterates, glancing back up to meet Stefyr's gaze. For asking. For trusting him with this. And yet that thanks doesn't seem enough. R'hyn hesitates, as though worrying along a thin line, wondering how far is too far across it, but in the end he caves, taking a series of steps that draw him closer to the candidate's paused form. Hands lift slowly, clearly, going flat between them with the unspoken implication that he's aiming to touch Stefyr, to rest too-big hands on too-big shoulders, to pull foreheads together, if the candidate will allow. Even if he doesn't - if it's too much, too soon after the unexpected sting - R'hyn is equally as content to linger at a short distance, to breathe just as quiet of a, "Of course we are." Grey-touched eyes switch between each of Stefyr's. "Maybe we see things differently, but I am—" But whatever R'hyn is is potentially lost forever as that shudder of awareness wracks him again, as this time that tense stillness cracks with a vibration that can be felt long before it can be heard. It's a long, low drone that has R'hyn going still as it manifests into a draconic hum, as realization dawns and all he can do for one long, poignant moment is turn his gaze to stare at Stefyr with mingled surprise, excitement and - "Shit." - dawning horror. "Shit. I. You. We." Shouldn't be here, so far from the sands, lengths of busy halls and packed caverns away from their destination, the comprehension but inability to act upon this freezing him for one very long moment before his hand extends, as though he means to dash them through the halls together.

No sting, or at least not this one, would keep Stefyr from accepting the balm that is the closeness R'hyn offers. His eyes even close in a moment of relief, the familiar if not frequent contact is proof that he really didn't screw something up beyond saving. His eyes are quickly opened again and meeting R'hyn's, letting the words of the other man settle into the unsettled spaces within. He's with the bronzerider in this moment, wrapped up in there and then the vibration and drone and it all hits as one. "Oh, shit," his voice is practically making R'hyn's a chorus. "The eggs," is harmony though and he's only stopped from his own turn by the hand offered and he looks to the man, "I have to get to the barracks," is panic-tinged, and the hand is taken because he trusts R'hyn will get him where he needs to be so long as his legs will hold him to make the journey. But will it be in time?

Do you trust R'hyn, Stefyr? Because you probably shouldn't, not when the touch of Stefyr's palm in his, or maybe the content of words has the bronzerider laughing, as though he didn't know that, as though R'hyn, too, shouldn't be on the sands smothering his weyrmate with distracting attention while eggs begin to quiver and quake. Perhaps it's just an outward expression of the fierce glimmer that hits the backs of R'hyn's eyes, as though that 'will it be in time' were a challenge to beat, as if it were not a task he was confident he could surmount. And so it's a madcap dash through the belly of Xanadu's weyr, some pardons offered, but more often laughter as folk are jostled to make way for a pair of too-big bodies cramming through too-small spaces, Stefyr's hand held in a death-grip until, at one point, it's used to haul the candidate in, to draw him closer to R'hyn's space just to be thrust through the opening he's made with the spread of arms, shoving him into the rumbling deluge. "Come on!," bubbles up from somewhere giddy and wild as, hand taken again the bronzerider skip-hop-slides them between the bent forms of stragglers making their way to the arena before finally they reach the point where they must part. In Stefyr is drawn again, if only so R'hyn can grip his shoulder, shake it, and offer a final, "We're proud of you." No matter what. And then he's pushed towards the barracks entrance, R'hyn himself turning to disappear into the crowd at a run, to accept a fresh shirt from attendants, to calm the rapid race of his heart before joining lifemates, weyrmates, and their future on the sands.


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