Snow Day

Xanadu Weyr - Firelizard Theatre
A natural clearing in the forest has grown a different sort of tree. The Courtyard of the Firelizard holds grass trampled into dirt around the wooden play structures.
In the northern part of this field lies a jungle-gym like fort, with two towers that soar to fifteen feet of height. One of them adjoins a large open deck with spiral staircase up and a metal slide down. That aside, the structure's made almost entirely of wood, the boards locked together either by being interlocked or by huge wooden bolts hammered into the boards. The towers are studded with uneven boards and rough spots, various climbing challenges on each of their faces. A swaying rope bridge with wooden slats connects the towers, and beneath it there's a sealed tunnel to run through or play minecraft.
Just past the fort, there are wooden sit-toys carved and painted into the likeness of dragons. They're about two feet high and four feet long, though the green is smaller than the blue. There's a place for a child to sit on the dragon's back, with their feet resting on the dragon's paws and hands on the bars bars attached to the neck of the dragon. Pushing with hands or feet will make the dragon rock and writhe.
In the middle of the field are two sets of swings, suspended by rope from from a wooden beam that's held up by crossbraces on either side. There's a set of monkey bars, made entirely out of wood but carefully polished until the dark bars glow, and a set of seesaws. The sandbox is set back a little from the rest, filled with sand from Xanadu's beach and scattered with buckets and shovels.
Trees border the area, including a massive Lemosian ironwood that has beneath its branches wooden benches with a view of the playground.

WE COULDA BEEN NICE AND TEAM-SET THIS WHOLE DAMN THING, but LISTEN. EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!!!!!! So okay, here's the set: it's winter, Rukbat is sinking her way slow beneath the horizon where the bubblegum hues of sunset have been bled by the overcast cover of ominous, heavy storm clouds. These clouds are snow clouds, the very ones opening up to dust everything in white, to leech every last bit of color from Xanadu's landscape and leave in its wake a monochromatic grey. But here, in the firelizard theater, there is a burst of Pink, a pop of Yellow, the defiance of Red covering three children as they play. Skyllar has taken to one swing while Ardyn sits alongside her brother, and where Kitahny might be anywhere else, she's seating on Ila'den's shoulders, giggling as she 'helps' Ila'den push the twins in tandem. IT'S A GAME, YOU SEE. Iladen grabs tight to swing-ropes and pulls, drawing one at a time back, back, back before letting go, sending them into an arch that earns peals of delight and from ALL PARTIES INVOLVED. And for a little while, Ila'den lets them swing, endures the tiny hands in his hair, under his jaw, the chin that finds its way onto the top of his head and those shrieks of, "DADDY, AGAIN!" that are surely JARRING for being so close to his ear. BUT THIS IS IT. THIS IS WHAT HE IS UP TO, THIS CONSTANT BACK AND FORTH, pulling one child back, then the other, stepping in to push them from behind on occasion in lieu of drawing them back for another Big Drop again and again and again. And it's snowing. And cold.

And then there's a cloud of hazy green, soft forest scarves and healer-green wool coats, bright chartreuse earmuffs snug over ears in spite of winter-frizzy hair trying to make an escape. Citayla is prepared for the snow, bundled up so bulky that it's a miracle she can move, but look. She IS, start of a waddle and all. "I brought cider!" Reports the goldrider, miraculously free of Duties, or perhaps engineered to be thus, because it's family time, okay. Or something. Time to take the littlest ones to the park and watch them screech and run and be generally terribly loud, but are they going to be this young forever? Definitely not. One day they probably won't even want dad to push them on the swing (okay, look, they'll probably always want that, come to think of it). "Gonna deafen your daddy, baby." The healer probably isn't chiding, since she's laughing, shuffling close enough to the Ila-and-Kita to bump shoulders with the former, ruffle the latter and the twins' individual lil' heads. "Dad and dad's are especially good." She spiked them. Cita's not subtle. "Who says we take over the taller spire? I bet there's not as much snow in there as there is on the benches, and I need to sit." Before gravity gets the better of her magnificent ensemble of clothes, maybe. That's the way that Cita treks, anyways, boots crunching in snow all the way up the stairs into the playhouse — who says they're too old?! NOBODY. THAT'S WHO.

Why would a person complain about every man for himself, when it affords R'hyn the opportunity to be a separate but equal participant, to look up from the dusted-off bench he and Kalyri are currently occupying and pause, if only to mark Cita's entrance with a fast-unfurling grin, to clap along with tiny hands, and move along with tiny bodies that attempt to throw themselves from damp surfaces to pursue some of their favorite people. The back of an equally-colorful coldjacket is caught before the kid can eat it, but it's a near thing, rawrs and other dragon noises used to distract her from the distress of the near fall as they zoooooom over to the rest of their family. "You're a lifesaver, and also my favorite," R'hyn asserts with a peck to Citayla's temple, head tilting sideways to make a scrooched not-terribly-apologetic face at Ila'den. "Sorry baby, but she brought especially good cider." Spiked beverages win every time, that's basically the rules. The invitation to occupy the playhouse is heeded, further wing noises accompanying his swooping of Kaly in one gloved hand. It's with a multitude of giggles and flaps that he slowly splats the four-turn-old onto the playhouse boards, turning to help Ila with his passel of littles before hauling himself up with unfair ease. Listen. He's not preggo nor is he doing a Michelin Man cosplay; he can afford to show off a bit, right? Right. "We started stringing bells," he informs Cita as Kalyri crashes back into his lap with a telltale jingle-ling in her hair. "They're going to be such fun to take out." And yet so cute in the meantime? Definitely.

"Mommy brought cider," Ila'den rasps to twins who, by all accounts, don't know what the good cider means. But it's fine, because they pick up Ila'den's cheer and they echo it — or maybe they're just excited about their mama, those tiny bodies pitching themselves from swings to scramble like wee-baby ducks on her heels. AND THAT'S CUTE AND ALL, but let's focus instead on the fact that Ila'den is holding tight to a tiny leg when Cita's shoulderbump is answered with the heavy weight of one arm coming down around her shoulders, a drag of stubble against her crown as R'hyn invades to kiss her temple and, before he lets her go, Kit leans, making baby-octopus hands for MOMMY FACES and MOMMY KISSES (AND DADDY ONES TOO). "Me! Me! Me!" Kitahny crows, while, "You mean that Citayla hasn't been your favorite this entire time?" comes around a hint of canines, Ila'den's attention pulling to R'hyn and lingering there as he lets Cita go and the fingers of that descending hand brush Kali's hair, and then R'hyn's lower back. And while the others proceed, he hangs back, rolling shoulders to hike Kitahny back into place as he watches both of his weyrmates go. Is Ila'den taking his time in order to enjoy the view? Absolutely. And while it could absolutely be the winter-clothes R'hyn has chosen, or the fashionable frizz of Cita's winter-do, it's the whole of it: Citayla, R'hyn, and the busy hands and tireless feet that join them. This is his family. BUT WORRY NOT, the time for sentiment has passed and Ila'den is back in motion, joining R'hyn and pressing a kiss to his temple before handing off Kitahny and rumbling low-pitched, husky laughter for R'hyn's SUBSEQUENT ACROBATICS. He doesn't comment on it (and he shouldn't have to; his eyes, we assure you, praised R'hyn well enough), opting to take the stairs Cita utilized only moments before and settling himself more out of what little space remains than in. Kit, of course, climbs into R'hyn's lap too, and THE TWINS, WELL. CLEARLY the need to cling to their mama. THIS IS FAIR, RIGHT? RIGHT. DON'T MIND ILA'DEN, he's just going to SILENTLY ENJOY THE CHAOS for just a moment.

Ila has every reason to watch R'hyn's assets (and alright, look, his fam, but the writer's in a mood and chose TO IGNORE THAT PART CONVENIENTLY. I KID. HE'S PERFECT.), probably, but Citayla ain't got time for booties that aren't her own. She's got aching feet and a tush that requires her to be resting on it ASAP, in spite of vigorous baby kisses and squeals of delight from the rider. "You'll get your turn!" Cita laughs, wild, smiling broad and warm at the one-two-ten of them before her ascent. Once settled, with not even sort of any grace, Cita leans back against the battle-planning station, or whatever the box full of buttons and knobs is, opening arms wide for babies. "Babies! Oh! I missed you all day. Bells you say!" Jingle-jingle-jingle goes Kaly, and both of the healer's eyebrows shoot aaallll the way up into her hair, eyes widening. "Wow! That sounds so cool. I bet we could get a whole sack'a bells woven in before bedtime." And then they'd never come out, if slept in, but who says that any one of them has to be a good influence. PSCHT. There's a moment of just enjoying the cuddles, but Cita remembers, okay. She remembers what she came here for, other than, of course, cuddles with snowy-cold babies. "Cider! Hot from the hearths." How does Cita have pockets enough to drag out four little cups and three big ones, in addition to the two heavy 'skins of cider? Faranth knows, but she does, and she's offering the whole assortment out to the room at large, all ready to sit back like a weary monarch observing the masses. YOU MAY DRINK.

Listen, Cita is a gotdam queen. It fits. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First R'hyn has to grin a grin that's truly nasty in the sense that, if one didn't know him better, it would come off as borderline cruel. "You're right, of course. She's been my favorite since before I ever knew your name. Except for that bit in the middle where she stabbed me with pointy things. She claimed weyrling checkups, but…" This and more follows the goldrider's progress, jocularity in his every inch, bright and impish right until lips find his temple, and that same intangible warmth hits blue-grey eyes as they flick open in the wake of that brief kiss. That everything the light touches is all of theirs isn't lost on him, but it's momentary at best, lasting only as long as it takes for him to smooch the space between brows before hauling baby Kit up and in (and oofing quietly for her collision-stop into his lap). Kaly near about headbutts him with an overdramatic laugh, that, "Yesyesyes! A whoooole sack!," fervently denied by her daddy's sing-song, "I don't thiiink soooo, not unless mommy's taking them all out herseeelf laterrrr." Smilesmilesmile. Not that he'd ever do such a horrible thing, but listen, maybe the threat will work for the first time in his life. At least talk of cider is a distraction, his own temporarily set aside to help little hands juggle little cups and keep from slopping a warm, sticky mess down freshly-laundered coats. For a minute, there is peace, filled with the loud lip-smacking and mingled 'ahhh's of todds outdoing each other at enjoying the treat. "How's Ily doing today?," is a how are you in disguise, eyes roving over Cita's bundled, kid-ridden form as he finally takes a sip of cider and makes a noise of appreciation. Quick, dodge while he eyes the cup with a shake of his head and a murmured, "Damn, you're good." AN EXCELLENT CONCOCTION. CHEF MWAH.

Wow, okay rude. LISTEN, R'HYN. Ila'den's eyebrows raise a fraction of a degree, a raspy, "And then you got me stabbed too," offered into that quiet banter as they walk, implications made that JUST MIGHT SOUND LIKE ILA DOESN'T BLAME R'HYN EVEN A LITTLE FOR HIS PREFERENCES THOUGH. AND LOOK, IT WASN'T NOT NOT R'HYN'S ASSETS IN TANDEM WITH ALL THE REST OF R'HYN. MAYBE ILA WAS WORRIED ABOUT CITA'S BOOTY FOR A MINUTE OR FIVE THERE TOO. IT'S COLD OUT HERE. ONE MIGHT FALL OFF AND HE'D HAVE TO DO THE VALIANT THING AND PICK IT UP AND MAYBE IT WASN'T CHIVALROUS AT ALL, BUT YOU'LL NEVER KNOW. This is noble work, my friends. Noble, noble work indeed. So noble it required 1/4 of this entire pose to be in caps, BUT A FACT THAT IS WHOLLY UNIMPORTANT when you consider that R'hyn's lips are on Ila's person, and then suddenly, HIS LIPS ARE ON CIDER. WE FASTFORWARDED, SEE, TO THE PART WHERE CITA (LONG LIVE THE QUEEN) DOLED OUT THE GOODS, and Ila'den takes his cup without partaking of its contents, cradling it in gloved hands as he leans the press of his shoulder and his back in against that entrance way and reclines, reaching out with one hand of his own, on occasion, to assist where more hands are needed than what R'hyn has to keep clumsy excitement from becoming clumsy accidents. R'hyn asks after Ily, and Ila'den rumbles some of that low-pitched, husky laughter before adding on, "And how are you, Citayla?" TINY TERROR HOLDING UP OKAY? SPLEEN GONNA MAKE IT OUT ALIVE? KIDNEY HAD A PARTICULARLY WILD MEETING WITH WAYWARD LIMBS? "And you, baby. How was your day?" This for R'hyn, as he accepts Kit's retreat back into his lap where she tucks her back in against his chest, drags his arm over her middle, pats his hand to tell him to keep it there, and then wiggles her feet while she watches. Notice that Ila'den didn't join in on the discussion about jinglies and hair? He's a smart man sometimes.

Her Majesty, Queen of the Kiddie Castle, looks like she might be approaching naptime. She doesn't even need warm cider, either, just the warmth of her Stay Puft suit, her family, and the walls of the firelizard fort blocking out that damn wind. "I'll have you know, you're both due for physicals." Are they? Faranth knows. Probably not. Cita makes it sound like a threat, though, levying a half-lidded smirk at the two men. "They come 'round every turn, you know." ABORT MISSION. HOUSTON. ABORT!!! Crossing ankles with some difficulty, scootching both wriggly-giggly kids under her wingspan, Citayla snickers under her breath. She's a bad influence, is Cita, teaching the kids about…proper doctor visit schedules, or something. Who knows. "Maybe two sacks, then we can string you up on the clock tower to chime every hour, eh?" SHAKESHAKESHAKE goes a hair-ruffle, a cackling kind of laugh to accompany the rider's squinty-amused look for Ila and Ryn. "Ily's fine," Already grumbling, no doubt, but her rider is not listening. "As am I, now that I'm out of the wind. I do love it when she clutches during the winter." Cita sighs, happily, and if she settles down and maybe potentially passes out directly in the middle of a humming, "I figured you could…use the warmth…" we're just going to blame it on that kidney-squisher, right? Clearly she, uh, needs the nap? She'll probably wake up in time for the inevitable defrosting of the merry-go-round and ensuing Shenanigans. JUST LET HER GET A LIL CATNAP MAYBE.

Listen. Listen. It might be an empty threat, but it works in ways his own did not. A distinct paleness accompanies the squinting of blue-grey eyes, lips pressing tight before he drawls a slow, "Try me. I'll shift a meeting into the time slot faster than you can blink." A meeting for him? FOR HER?! Unclear, and he has just enough experience with this woman not to clarify, lest she take it and run with it. He's already gone too far. AWOOGA, AWOOGAAAA! At least they've got the bell conversation to get them the hell out of dodge, R'hyn's head tipping back in a laugh as Kalyri matches Cita's cackle with a wildness of her own. "Nooo, I don' wanna be a cwock," so much so that she wiggle-worms to attempt to escape, 'I can't see you, you can't string me from a belltower' in full effect as she chugs away on ever-growing legs. R'hyn gusts a sigh that is probably much more for the fact of their collective growth than the actual escape as brother and sister flee after her with squeals and giggles, R'hyn content to take the space vacated against Cita's side, one arm curling around Ila's leg to deliver slow, soothing strokes. Though his gaze rolls out to watch their children engage in an enthusiastic game of tag, he's content to linger in the relative warmth and silence, occasionally sipping from his cup. He lets the peace go on until his cup is empty, and only then do fingers tap-tap the inside of Ila's thigh to draw attention to quiet blue eyes. His chin jerks first towards screeching laughter, then towards Cita's dozing form, divvying respective tasks while gathering up abandoned cups and flasks. Those disappear into places just as mysterious in his own coat before he stoops to pull Cita's sleeping form into his arms. If any protests come, they're born with grace and smug smirks the likes of which he could only have learned from her, one hip resting against the gate until Ila and their flock have caught up. Only then does he take the snowy path towards their weyr, footsteps quick but careful, if only in the interest of getting them home and out of the cold before any such shenanigans can crop up.

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