Getting To Know You

Xanadu Weyr - Caverns
A massive cavern in its own right, this one has been skillfully adapted for human habitation. The high ceilings have been painted a light, soft ivory, as have walls hung with numerous tapestries that provide brilliant color and insulation from the stone. The floor has been left in its natural state, pale pink granite speckled through with glittering mica and dark flecks of basalt. The stone is carefully leveled but kept sufficiently rough to avoid slips.

The cavern itself is loosely divided into areas, each one set up to be suitable for some segment of the Weyr's population. The most frequently occupied area is the one near the Kitchens, where tables of varying sizes provide a place to sit down and eat or chat and a buffet of consumables is almost always kept stocked. It's plain that on most days, this area wouldn't accommodate anywhere near the full population of the Weyr, instead feeding people in shifts as they come off duty. On occasions when a formal meal is laid out, tables are borrowed from all the other areas.

There's also a big fireplace set into the western wall, several comfortable chairs nearby providing haunts for elderly residents or riders who like a good view of all that happens. Rugs cover the floor in strategic spots, all of them abstract or geometric in design and most in the softly neutral colors of undyed wool.

Exits lead off in all directions, the largest an archway to the northeast that leads outside. Near it there's an alcove with hooks for coats and shelves for muddy boots. A tunnel to the east goes to the infirmary, and a set of stairs just a little south of that lead up to the offices and administration area. To the south, a long and sloping tunnel leads down to the hot springs. The kitchen is off to the southwest, while the residents' quarters are reached by tunnels going west, deeper into the cliff.

It's just after the main influx of weyrfolk interested in filling their bellies with the midday meal that Mathis can be found collecting plates from tables and putting them into a gray colored bin he carries back and forth from the kitchen. Full it goes in and empty it comes out again. He's not the only one, several others are also tasked with his duty today, some of them rushing to just get it done so they can attend to other tasks. The woodcrafter isn't hurrying, being especially careful to place dishes into the bin and carry them securely towards where he drops it off and picks up an empty one. He's just reemerged through the double doors, pausing to scan the cavern, before he finds one last table that needs clearing and so he heads that direction. Almost done. Then, he can eat.

Teinon is apparently having a late lunch himself, today. That's not too unusual. It means the options on the table are a bit picked over, but he doesn't seem to let that bother him as he picks up a plate and starts filling it with whatever's left. He glances up, spots Mathis coming out of the kitchen, and gives a tentative little wave. Hello, familiar face! Then he's back to filling his plate.

Spotting Teinon, Mathis smiles faintly in response to his wave, tipping his head in greeting and then sets off for the remaining dirty dishes. It doesn't take long to pick them up and put them in his bin, stopping to look for any that he'd missed and coming up empty. The other had already turned their last loads in and were coming out of the kitchen with the plates that were saved for them, finding places of their own to park and eat at. Again, Mathis was taking his time and being very careful about how he held and carried that bin, disappearing into kitchen again. When he returns, he's got his own reserved plate of food, and sets it down at an empty place so that he can go and fill up a mug with ice cold milk. Once that's done, he picks up a fork and knife, heading back to his food.

Teinon pours himself some kind of fruit juice and heads over to sit at a table. With only a slight hesitation, he chooses the table where Mathis is sitting, plopping himself at an empty spot with a little smile toward the woodcrafting Candidate. He wastes no time digging into his food. Like most physical laborers, by the time he's on a meal break, he's starving.

Already a few bites into his lunch, the woodcrafter lifts his head when Teinon sits with him at his table, returning that smile with the same tentativeness that he'd gotten from the herder previously. As the man digs in with all indications of ravenousness, Mathis leaves him to it for now, for who was he to get between someone and their appetite. Knife and fork applied, he cuts up everything on his place into bite sized pieces while he chews the contents of his mouth, leveling up his time-management attribute. He's finished around the time that he's swallowed, utensils aside as he takes a long sip of his milk and finally looks back over to Teinon in the hopes of catching his gaze, "How are you?" he asks, as unobtrusively as possible once he has. The candidates had been quite busy lately with extra lessons on top of everything else, and he hadn't really seen him in awhile.

It's not that hard to catch Teinon's attention, as it turns out. He nods at the question and gives a thumbs up. He's good, apparently. After another bite, he sets his utensils down so he can sign something. He keeps it slow and simple, since Mathis doesn't know /that/ much sign. "I liked your thing." After the more generic sign to indicate an object, he mimics a pair of bull's horns. It's anyone's guess how long it will take for Mathis to connect that to the gift he gave Tei. But in any case, the herder goes back to his meal with gusto.

Mathis nods, his smile remaining polite but dim, his fork finding its way back into his hand again. Eyes drop to his plate briefly, stabbing at few things and shuttling them off towards his mouth, glancing back over towards Teinon. Rinian was still working with him for an hour or two everyday on signing, so he was picking up on it little by little, but the kindness of simpler signs was still appreciated. "My…thing?" Confused, the woodcrafter candidate tips his head to the side and peers over at Teinon, realization dawning when he signs again and nods, "I'm glad you liked it," he says, putting that hovering bite past his lips and pulling it free of the fork. Chewing, he waits until his mouth is clear before speaking again, "Did you find a good place for it?"

Teinon nods a little, starts to explain, then thinks better of it and shrugs apologetically. Instead, he points toward Mathis, then clarifies with a pretty 101 set of signs. "How are you?" He keeps an eye on Mathis, at least polite enough to make eye contact while in a conversation, as he continues making his way through his meal.

Another couple bites in, Mathis looks up again in time to see the nod and flash of complicated signs that he only half-picks up on. Yeah, he hadn't quite yet graduated up to those, but he could get the gist of the conversation. Still, he waits past that apologetic shrug until things are dumbed down for his benefit. "I'm okay, getting nervous though." Those eggs would be hatching soon and then everything would change, again. Six of his fellow candidates would move on to weyrlinghood, while the rest had to return to the lives they had before a dragon had sniffed them out. "I sent in my request to be transferred to Xanadu after the hatching, I don't want to go back to Fort. My friends are here and the weather isn't as bad."

Teinon nods a bit, with at least a touch of genuine sympathy in his expression. The last bit /does/ surprise him a little, though. He eats another bite or two of his food before he signs a single word with the sign and facial expression to make it clearly a question. "Family?"

There's only a smile in response for that sympathy, just the upturn of lips that's gone shortly after it arrives. Not wanting his food to cool off too much before he's had the opportunity to put it into himself, Mathis gets back to eating when Teinon does, taking in several more mouthfuls by the time that he notices motion out of the corner of his eye. Looking back, he processes the sign and expression as one, his own taking on a slightly sadder note, "I was a fosterling. I guess you could say that I had a big family, I felt loved there, but none of them are related to me by blood. I…don't really know where I belong, I was hoping it'd be here, but…that's not up to me." Meaning, he could be sent back to Fort Weyr whether he wanted to be there or not.

Teinon looks almost stricken at that news. He pokes at the remains of his meal, thinking all of that over. So many things /could/ be said, but so few of them are likely to be understood. In the end, he offers what seems to be a heartfelt, "I'm sorry," along with a smile that apologizes for not having more to say.

Blinking at the change that his words have made to Teinon's face, the boy waves a hand and looks as if he's about to be the one apologizing. Awww, he didn't want to make the herder sad! "It's not that bad. Just, there isn't a place for me there anymore, they did their job by raising me and getting me sorted into a craft and now the rest is up to me. The last three turns have been…" The woodcrafter gets a strange look on his face as he scrambles to fill in the very obvious gap with something that was going to keep that stricken expression from returning, "…I-I-I met Rinian, and Leirith brought me to Xanadu. I made lots of presents for all my friends…" On one hand, a digit is extended as he literally counts off his blessings, "…I learned to climb up stuff, learned how defend myself, rescued a feline from a tree…" See Teinon, he's lead a full and rich life! The smile given in follow up is strained for reasons undefined, but he does appear as if he's hoping that his list of good things will do the trick.

Teinon nods quickly, though there's still something in his expression to suggest that he feels just that tiny bit bad. Recognizing that this isn't what Mathis wants, he tries changing the subject instead. His next signs would literally be, "Me, large, not-weyr." But Mathis can probably puzzle that out to mean he has a large family that doesn't live at the weyr.

Who would want someone to be sad for them? That seemed like a weird thing to want. He might be young, but Mathis can understand the necessity of a subject change, however the very basic and rudimentary signs bring a lift of eyebrows, "Uh," he begins with, because it's not perfectly clear, but within a few moments he seems to get it and nods, shoving the last few bites his plate had left into his mouth and chewing them up properly. A couple soft sip of milk and he swallows before answering, "Holdbred or craft? That curiosity of his was insatiable, and now Teinon had opened the floodgates. Though, to his credit, he keeps himself from bombarding the man all at once with every single one at the same time. Mathis had done his fair share of growing up during candidacy, and if he stopped to think about it, he'd still hardly be aware of the changes that already taken place.

Teinon holds up an index finger to indicate that the former is the correct answer. Holdbred! It's probably good that Mathis doesn't try to bombard him with all questions at once. The poor man would have a terrible time trying to keep up and provide answers with any meaning.

Pointing to himself, "Holdraised." Mathis shrugs some at that, his smile broadening. Solidarity! Even if their origins were so vastly different. He didn't know who his real parents were, he'd been told they were riders and he was the fruits of their brief union during a mating flight. Other than this, he had no information to go on. A part of him wanted to know who they were, but he was clever enough to figure out that they'd given him up for a reason. They didn't want him, but Xanadu had, even if it was only for a couple of months. "Lots of brothers and sisters?"

Teinon makes a thumbs up at the news that Mathis is also from a hold. He points to himself, then Mathis, and winks. Solidarity indeed! He holds up two fingers, then signs, "Brothers." Whether Mathis knows that sign is a whole other thing, but who knows! He adds, just in case Mathis can understand it, "Many cousins."

With that wink, comes the first of a broad and genuine smile from Mathis, matched with a chuckle and nod. Who needed full out sentences to communicate meaningfully? Not them, and that's a fact. "Two brothers?" Yep, he knew that sign. "Older or younger?" Maybe one of each? Teinon as the middle child? With his meal consumed, there was nothing tethering the woodcrafter to his chair other than getting to know the herder better, a prospect that for the time being was far more interesting than being early for afternoon lessons. Today, it was 'how to balance your table right'. Riveting, truly. "Many…c-cousins! Oh, okay. Um, not sure if my foster-brother's kids count but I've got three if it does. He's got twin girls with his weyrmate and another on the way, its a flight baby, but they're going to take it in and raise it as theirs."

Teinon holds his hand up over his head, as though indicating a couple of taller people. Older brothers! Or else, very tall younger brothers, but that seems unlikely. He's content for now to finish his juice and listen to Mathis talking about his cousins. Even if they are actually foster-cousins. He seems pretty interested in the information, and nods a bit at the concept of a flight baby. He's heard of those, at least. A quick sign declares, "Good."

Mathis ohhh's and nods, understanding. "Older, that's really nice. I was the youngest too." Not anymore, but in the name of their newfound common ground he leaves it at that. He knew that his foster parents had already taken in a new fosterling in his stead, which he thought was wonderful but a little sad too. They missed him, they'd told him so in their letters to him, but he wasn't sure exactly how he felt about their getting a replacement. In the end, he'd decided to be happy for the little one, knowing that she'd be well taken care of. Finishing his milk, the empty mug is set beside his equally empty plate and he sits back a bit in his chair, nodding. Good was right. "I think that's better than fostering it." At least the child would know one of it's true parents, and likely to know the other in time. A glance towards the time and Mathis stiffens, "Shells, I'm going to be late!" Shoving back his seat, the boy rises to his feet and gathers up his dirty dishes. "I'll talk to you later, Teinon. Thank you for talking with me." Dropping off his dishes, he waves and soon departs.

Teinon nods a little at that. He can agree that being the youngest is nice. Then Mathis is noticing the time and rushing off, and Teinon laughs that weird near-silent laugh of his, and starts clearing away his own dishes. He was putting off going back to work, himself, but with no more excuses, he busses his dishes and heads off to do whatever it is he does.

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