Of Goats and Cake

Xanadu Weyr - Garden

An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place.

On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.

Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.

The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also alluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic.

With every intention to return the bowl he'd made for Sylvarin after the cake the baker had placed in it had been devoured, Mathis had snuck off from the barracks in search of a place in which confection consumption could take place in peace. Having gathered up some supplies he finds that the garden was relatively empty this late in the afternoon, with dinner creeping in upon the horizon. Box of scrumminess set into a place of reverence alongside some other foodstuffs he'd scrounged up, the boy kneels down and takes the time to lay out the blanket he'd brought, picking someplace close to the pond so that he could watch the fish playing in there while enjoying the rest of the day. It's all very meticulous the way he sets everything up before him, storage containers of this and that adjusted until they were perfect, all with his eyes on the prize. But no, later, later. A handful of silverware he'd grabbed from the kitchen is gently rested atop a napkin he's placed, one enough for every delight, reaching inside the picnic basket for a thermos of something or another.

Some may have expected Elayne to find another home for that little pygmy goat that she found nibbling away at her sheets, and find another home swiftly, but it's the opposite that appears to be unfolding. She's furnished it - her - with a collar and a lead and has taken to roaming about the Weyr with her in her free time, as if her goat friend is a canine that needs regular walks. They're on one of these many walks when their path brings them through the garden, goat trotting along at her side as fast as her short legs can carry her, and only occasionally stopping to bite down on the nearest interesting object. The goat, that is. Not Elayne. When they stumble upon Mathis, Elayne is mindful to keep her new pet on a short leash, a brow arching as she asks, "Got a date?"
There's a rustle from the far side of the wall that rings the koi pond, then Meion's head popping up over the stones. "Hm? I missed the question." Not that the question was even for her, but all she managed to register was an inquisitive voice breaking through her intent focus. More rustling, and then the source of that sound, as she walks around the pond with a loose collection of notepapers and official-looking documents. She pauses when she sees the blanket. "Oh - sorry, didn't mean to intrude. Was just… getting some work done, and got a little wrapped up in it."

Wisely, whomever had been actually responsible for leaving the candidates with pets, had not given Mathis something he needed to actually keep living and breathing. His sock puppet was draped around his neck like a scarf, not tied or anything, but nonetheless could be being used for a little something extra to battle the chill that'd crept into the Xanadu atmosphere. As Elayne and her goat friend were not strangers to the barracks, there is no shock when the girl appears with her in toe, smiling and waving to them both as soon as their spotted, "Date?" Buh-link. It takes him a second but then he's flopping his hand around dismissive of her suggestion, maybe turning a little pink in the process. "Nonononono, that's not a…no. I'm done with stuff like that." FOREVER. Meion's head pooping is notable enough and comes with the sort of coincidental timing he might have hugged her for, quickly offering empty space available on the blanket. "Oh. Yeah. Totally. You should take a break…have a seat…you both should…have something to eat. I have cake!" Said nearly all in one breath and flustered, the box containing said cake is gestured to haphazardly. More distraction. More. Goat. "You named her yet, Elayne?" Yes. Yes. Answer do. No more talk about dates or boys or anything in between.

The goat's lead is loosened just enough for her to trot her way over to sniff at Meion's feet, a smile offered to serve as both apology and greeting by Elayne. "You're done with dating? Already?" Thankfully, the questions she directs towards Mathis sound quite rhetorical, her features already smoothing out as though to set aside any further consideration of why, easing away a flicker of confusion. "If you say so," could address either his lack of romantic intentions for anyone or being encouraged to sit down, which she does, taking measured steps to draw a little nearer before she folds her legs beneath her and casts a long look back at the tiny goat, who has now settled on grass for dinner and displays no obvious interest in anything else. For now. "I suppose, since no-one's come to take her away again, I ought to name her," Elayne contemplates. "Where did you get the cake?"

Yes. Let's focus on goats and cake and definitely not Matty's sad and decidedly short jaunt of self-discovery. He was, kneeling far too straight and looking way too interested in Elayne's pet snuffling at Meion's covered toes for it to be anything other than a valiant effort on his part to think about anything but. Alas, rhetorical tones, lost on him. A soft huff and he plops himself down, sitting on his legs, "Well, done with all of that stuff in general, never got to that whole…dating…part of it. Just…don't like feeling like a dragon's stepping on my chest all the time. It sucked." And because he had no intention of ever going through that again, he's sworn off anything and everything to do with it. FOREVER. There is a very firm nod for impromptu goat herder soon after as she sits and he offers over a fork for her to use for the delicious. Yes, he says so. There's meatrolls, roasted sweet tubers, a variety of steamed veggies tossed in a light flavorful dressing, freshly baked rolls and of course cake for desert. "She's really cute, she should have a name….and Sylvarin made it for me, it looks really good." All the thought, all at the same time. Mathis seems pleased that Meion would be joining them, giving her a fork too once she's brought herself over there and he didn't have to like lob it at her or anything. That cake, was still in a closed box, so its validity had yet to be confirmed. "Mathis," he tosses out there, just in case.

"I can't say that I know what that feels like, so I'll have to take your word for it that it's awful." Still, Elayne sounds perfectly content to let Mathis' experience - or lack of - with romance be enough that it could deter her as well, her acceptance of it as easy as that of the fork that she closes her fingers around with a murmur of thanks, her other hand still securing the goat lead. She angles a glance the black and grey marbled creature that has become her companion, sighing, "I guess I just don't want to call her something stereotypical, like Fluffy." Not-Fluffy remains oblivious to study, though inches a bit closer to the blanket. "I'm Elayne," she supplies in answer to Meion, twitching another tiny smile, though not apologetic this time. "Vocalist." On her shoulder, it's the Candidate knot that's secondary to that which marks her as a Harper, though, truth be told, all strands of anything knot-like look like they've had a nibbling from teeth not her own. "Lots of crafters in the barracks, it seems like."

Seat is taken. Fork is taken. This isn't cake, it's an entire picnic! No complaints are made about inaccuracies in her invitation. Meion smiles at Elayne's introduction, nodding. "It's good to meet you." She nods regarding craft. "Lots around Xanadu, really. I suppose it makes sense, though - there's so much around here to be done." From someone else, that might be a backhanded compliment to the weyr, but Meion is nothing if not straightforward in her enthusiasm for interesting work. She sits back, feeling very much the adult in a teenage experience of romance. Like all adults, though, she ends up compelled to offer the experience of her extra ten-or-so turns. "My advice -" not that you asked for it, but it is forthcoming "- is just to leave it all alone. If it finds you, don't fight it. If it doesn't, don't go looking." Whether one should be taking advice from a computercrafter who freezes in social circumstances that get too complicated, however, is an issue she does not offer advice on. She seems about to offer another piece of advice, looks at the pair, then thinks better of it. When they're older, perhaps.

Tawny lashes hovering close to cheeks that have returned to their original state of pale, Mathis nods again but with less conviction, trending towards regret for having had to go through all of that mess in the first place, "It is." DO NOT RECOMMEND! There was nothing about his demeanor that suggested he was taking any of what he'd said lightly, but rather that he had every intention to do exactly as he had said he was going to and avoid such things in the future entirely. "Sure," comes in response for for the murmur of thanks, paired with a gentle smile, shaking off whatever remained of bad feelings in favor of eating and chillaxing with a few of his fellow candidates. A glance is spare to Not-Fluffy, admiring her as he had many times before since she's appeared to nibble on the girl's blanket. Elayne's cot wasn't that far off from his own and he'd spent more than his fair share of time just sitting and petting her whenever he could. "Hmmm, yeah. Fluffy…doesn't quite describe her…" Noting that she was creeping in a little at a time, now that she'd eaten all the clover she'd been munching on. "How about…Clover?" Not very original, no. His attention wavers soon after that consideration, "Oh uh, woodcraft. Same as Rinian." It was another of those, just in case moments, as if everyone hadn't seen him with the missing girl or sitting around carving things with or without her whenever he had the chance. Mathis is quick to agree on the point of there being lots of crafters among the candidates, but he peers over at the women soon after spearing some broccoli at the end of his own fork, "Is that, weird though? It's my first time." For a lot of things, apparently. Speaking of firsts, the boy is not even remotely hesitant about saying, "No thank you. I'm good. Going to concentrate on this candidacy and when it's over, back to woodcrafting. Try the tubers, Marta said they baked them with a little brown sugar and butter." Hmmmm. Nummers.

Tiny cloven feet roam ever nearer, blanket in range as Not-Fluffy eyes up one of its corners, only to make better decisions and promptly chomp down on a daisy-like flower poking through the grass just as Elayne does as Mathis suggests and directs her fork towards the tubers. "Nice to meet you too," she tells Meion, waiting to take a bite until after she's let a faintly rueful smile and, "If I were more inclined towards the more practical skills, I'd probably be more useful around here, but they keep parking me in the caverns of an evening, so I hope I'm earning my place," surface. She's careful not to spill anything on the blanket or herself, taking a couple of neat bites that she lets silence her, manners demanding it of her until she can confirm, "These are great," and, "And Clover is better than Fluffy." A low note of laughter slips free as she remarks, "Maybe I'll refer to her as my chaperone and everyone will think I'm a little mad and no-one will ever look at me twice."

When Mathis asks if it's weird, Meion can't help laughing. She shakes her head after just a moment, explaining so she doesn't seem mean. "It's probably weird. But I couldn't tell you, because I'm weird. Everyone I know is weird, I think." She takes another bite, and around a mouthful of lightly-candied root vegetable, she goes on, slightly muffled. "D'n fhink normal 'sists." Swallows. "If you look long enough at anything, it gets weird." She grins to Elayne, nodding. "Clover. Clover's weird, too." She means the goat. "All goats are - look at those eyes! Nothing else like that, at least as I've seen." Another bite, a bright grin at Elayne's 'chaperone' idea, and she gestures with her fork while she pontificates. "Yes! Do it! That's what's so great about stuff. It's weird. There's all this weird to find. So, be weird! Don't let folks stop you." A sermon over a picnic blanket in the garden, from a socially-awkward programmer? Yep, that's weird.

"Hmmm, maybe Daisy…" Mathis offers up instead in a mutter mostly to himself, looking past everyone and back towards the goat, unable to help that she was as adorable as she was sneaky. He'd gotten the blanket from the stores all on his own, so any interest that the little nibbler shows in the corners of it becomes a source of amusement rather than apprehension or concern. Drawn back into the ongoing conversation that developed between Elayne and Meion, his brows lift for the laughter, but as it seems to him that it hadn't been meant meanly, a smile appears on his face easily enough. "I don't think you're weird at all, I think your really, really nice." She'd made a friend for life on board the Yokohama, "Thank you for that time with the thing." Mathis talks like she'd know what he was talking about and maybe she does, but he gets busy chopping down on a little bit of everything that he's brought out from the weyr to this makeshift garden party. It was good that in his hunger he'd taken enough to easily feed them all and there was still cake. "Right?" he says to Elayne as she compliments the tubers, all youthful enthusiasm around the tines of his fork, brows lofted and eye marginally wider than they had been before. Quick to laugh when that chaperone idea comes up, "Yes. Yes! You should totally do that! It'd be hilarious…" He sure seemed to think so.

"Well, if we can't all be ourselves, what's the point in anything? I mean, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone and we do our duty. I think I would much rather have people believe that I'm weird than conform absolutely to someone's ideal version of me." Which, in Elayne's case, apparently involves making statements that would be better suited to someone with a good couple of decades on her. Whether this registers with her or not, it doesn't look like it concerns her - as ever - a shrug given to underline her words as her opinion only. "Maybe Dais—" might have resulted in Not-Fluffy getting a better name, only the goat makes a bleat of a noise that doesn't sound terribly joyful (or healthy) on the heels of having swallowed that flower, drawing Elayne's concerned attention from bestowing a name on her. She surrenders the fork, setting it down on the blanket, then gets to her feet, reaching to pluck the goat from the ground and tuck her under one arm. "…That didn't sound good," the Harper murmurs. "I'd better… Thank you, both of you. Enjoy the cake! And, um… Yes, bye." It may well be the first time any Candidate has witnessed her get flustered about anything. In any case, she dashes off, goat under arm, presumably to find someone who can help.

Meion seems about to respond to Elayne when the Goat of Indeterminate Name makes that sound, and suddenly Elayne is all flustered departure, in search of someone experienced in the Ways of Goats. Which Meion emphatically is not. She turns to Mathis, takes another bite as she nods. "Ah - of course. You're welcome." It takes her a few moments of mental rewind to recall the incident aboard the Yokohama, but once she remembers it, she's pretty sure it's the only possible thing she's done that's thank-worthy. "Thanks for this food." She sets down her plate, performing the Very Adult Task of realizing that if she eats any more, then she will no longer have room for cake. And if she ends up visiting the healers again for a stomachache, they're never going to let her leave!

A different sort of hmm breaks free of Mathis this time around, an emphatic one, pointing his fork at Elayne as she throws down that wisdom like it was hot. He had his mouth full right then, so rather than splatter and sputter it all over the open containers of food spread out before them and ruin everyone's appetite, he chooses to wait until he's thoroughly chewed everything properly and swallowed before speaking, "Xanadu isn't stuffy like other places, I think if you're going to be you anywhere, here is good place to do it." He didn't understand half of what the girl had said if he had to be honest, but the part he did he agreed with completely, not finding it weird at all that she was talking like a well educated harper considering she was a harper. "I mean…cupcake battles in the meadow…" You know, for example. Mathis shrugs a shoulder with a crooked grin before popping a meatroll into his mouth, still chewing it when Not-Fluffy/Clover/Daisy makes that sound that has them all looking right at her because no, it hadn't sounded good at all. The woodcrafter nods and gestures that she should go, calling after her once he'd swallowed. "Good luck! I hope she's okay!" Concern for the goat kills a good deal of the mood they'd established at their pondside picnic, but it doesn't last overly long, not when there was cake on the horizon. Mathis reaches for the box and opens it, revealing a gorgeous cake nestled in an equally gorgeous hand-carved wooden bowl, "You're welcome," And in his very next breath, "Did you still want cake?" The boy looks hopeful because there was no way he was going to be able to eat it on his own, there was enough there for far more people than they currently had. The cake itself was chocolate with an emerald green glaze which would taste like melons, and in its center a citrus frosting. It's been decorated to match the bowl, with edible twigs and stones made of chocolate.

After a long moment to admire the cake, Meion nods. "Now, I think I'm supposed to say something like 'It's so beautiful, I almost don't want to cut into it' here. But we're never going to know just how beautiful it is until we taste it." A pause. "And licking it's just gross, so we're not doing that." She grins brightly. "So. Time to cut it." She looks prepared to do the job, if Mathis passes her a knife, or just as happy to simply be passed a slice once the work is done.

It was a very pretty cake and clearly not a lie now that it out and in the open, soon set off to the side so that he could clear up what remained of the other food and put that away so they could focus on what was important here. Not weirdness. Not goats. Definitely not feelings. Just delicious and glorious cake. The boy laughs at the suggestion that they were just going to sit here and stare at it, knife already in hand, cutting off a very generous piece and handing it off to Meion. "Yeah, I resisted the urge to put my entire face in it and just chew my way down to the bottom of the bowl, so…" Licking it, probably low of his gross meter, being a boy and all. Taking some of the cake for himself, he doesn't wait to dig in, mouth soon full of chocolate, melon, and citrus amazingness as his eyes roll closed and he groans long and hard. Dear. Faranth. He could die now and he'd be perfectly okay with it.

Meion waits for Mathis to try it first, then scoops up a piece with her fork that cuts across all the different flavors, letting her get them in one bite. She pauses, closing her eyes as she appreciates it. She might have had a rather strong (and extreme) first impression of Sylvarin, but damn if he doesn't know his work, and she can always appreciate expertise well-applied. And Mathis seems to have survived the whole hauling-off only somewhat the worse for wear, so maybe that can zero out Sylvarin's account and let her try for a new first impression. The cake inspires quiet, as conversation would require a pause in eating it, and that just isn't reasonable to ask for. So she just smiles over cake until her slice is gone. "Ooh. You should share that with more folks." Because if it makes it back to the candidate barracks she cannot guarantee her own willpower. A look up, at a sun that is further along in the sky than she expected. "I need to get back to work, though. I lost track of time out here. But it was good getting to talk a little more!"

As big as the pieces Mathis had sliced off, there was still plenty more where that came from. Self-control not being something he possessed an abundance of, the boy nods when Meion suggests that he share with other people, looking down at the remains of the cake even as he takes his final bite and slowly extracts his fork. He knew that he ate all that remained he would be indelibly ill for quite sometime, but that didn't mean that he wasn't thinking about it. Best to remove the temptation than spend precious carving time curled in the fetal position within the Infirmary. Hazel eyes lift and are also cast towards the sky, going huge soon after because he's totally forgotten that he was supposed to meet up with his Journeyman to go over more about chairs and how to build them so people could sit in them without them falling apart. "Shards and shells! Is that the time?" With that he was packing up real fast, surprisingly careful with the cake, before he was planting a sticky kiss onto Meion's cheek and fleeing as if something was with big sharp nasty teeth was chasing him. "Thankssomuchfortalkandstuff…byeeeeeeee!" And he's gone, leaving the woman to deal with the blanket and the crumbs that remained.

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