I apologise in advance for the self-indulgent dramatic melancholy of this scene. I'm wrapping up the loose ends of an idled out ICSO and kicking off a TP to bring Muir and Marel to Xanadu - hopefully as adopted characters to new players.


Xanadu Weyr - Weyrleaders' Office

Office and retreat, this is the domain of Xanadu's Weyrleaders. The door is in the eastern wall, quite close to the southern 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 eastern 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 western 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 south 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.

Having left as quietly as he could still meant that someone caught him leaving and no doubt, someone catches him arriving just as he left. He wanted to avoid the fanfair welcome or the numerous questions that might chase him down if he landed at Xanadu in the middle of the day - so A'dmar has specifically decided on late evening to make his auspicious return. Yet, he couldn't avoid making some noise in finding the offices, having to ask someone which way it was, which in kind meant one of the assistant headwomen or the headwoman herself - he didn't stop to find out which one. Excusing himself from their continued company, he shut the door on his graceful hostess, taking a breath as he lets his back thump up against the door, eyes closing at some inner turmoil. Only, the next instant draws him away from the proverbial barrier of his new found infamy, light gait putting him across the dark room, tossing his jacket unceremoniously on a chair as he crosses to the window, arms folding as his gaze stretches out to the main airspace of Xanadu weyr.

"I see you found it," drawls an amused voice in the darkness and then a glowlight snaps on and a soft light falls in a circle upon a polished wooden surface. The Weyrwoman is curled up on her desk seat, shoes kicked off and feet tucked underneath her. Her hair is falling down from her office updo in tendrils about her neck, the strands in front have been swiped back with an impatient hand. In front of her on the desktop, an austere-looking document with a stark black letterhead on the crisp vellum sits beside a half-finished glass of whiskey and a decanter of the same. Welcome is on her demeanor despite the exhaustion and signs of stress creeping around the ice green eyes that peer sleepily at him. It was dark when he came in, so she couldn't see his eyes closing in turmoil. She heard the thump and the breath taken though, and can guess. She's been through this twice before, after all. Pushing aside her own concerns with the Weyr, she asks, "Did your affairs in Ierne work out all right?" And then she waits, refraining from peppering him with busy questions so he can decide if he wants to say.

A soft noise like a surprised 'huh' issues forth from the man as he pivots immediately at the voice drawling toward him in the darkness, a hand lifting across his vision as a light snaps on, interrupting his vision momentarily. As his hand lowers, she might see in the opposite a glint of metal that is neatly replaced back behind him, a soft hiss of a dirk being sheathed. He's in unfamiliar territory and someone sitting in the dark wasn't considered normal. But if she wanted to surprise him, she did her job well. His hand lowers as his eyes adjust to the warm illumination the glow provides, dropping his arm beside his hip as his dark eyes stretch into the play of shadows in the office not quelled by the glow's bathing light. Maybe he was growing slow in his age and his wit was failing him, forgetting to check his surroundings before blissfully striding into them, but the anticipation was not for the Weyrwoman to be waiting to pounce him, not here, not now. Stranger things have happened. "Waiting long?" he asks into the glow which reveals the woman and her attempts to placate one thing or another with whiskey. The man was dressed in thicker clothes now, as the temperature of the Weyr no longer allowed for light garments that were his norm. A thick tawny sweater with a white fur collar and lined lapels settles across his torso, with heavy velvet and woolen trousers to match. He leaves the window's side to approach Thea, casual steps seeing him there, initial surprise masked with blithe respect, answering firmly for the question of Ierne, "My losses should be mitigated for now." He stops by the desk, tracing a finger around the decanter, popping a brow up in some silent question, instead murmuring, "My word is all I have Thea. Do not question it further." As if she was drinking it because of him, though in some perverse way, that was his attempt at an apology for leaving.

"My, you are jumpy," Thea can't help but tease him just a bit when she spots that glint of his knife. Right so, Note to Self: Don't ever sneak up on A'dmar in the dark. "Here's hoping yours remain mitigated then," she says dryly, softly bitter while a sheen of unshed tears glitter in her eyes as she lifts her glass with one hand and nudges that decanter towards him with the other. His unspoken question perplexes her; unsure what he's asking and further puzzled by his comment about questioning his word. "I don't," she says emphatically. The half glass is placed to her lips, downed in one gulp that causes her to cough at the harsh liquor, obviously unused to drinking the stuff. That document, what little can be seen of the letterhead is from the Weyr Council, bearing names of Lord Holders A'dmar would recognize - and at least one minor holder he won't.

One day he might go into the details about why he was jumpy, but it wasn't tonight. Instead her subsequent comment of his losses being mitigated catches him, if only for the dry tone in which the woman uses toward him, further inspecting the situation looking him in the face. Maybe then he'll notice the glitter of those unshed tears, tredding lightly as if he just realized he was walking on thin ice. The offering nudge is accepted, pouring himself a splash of whiskey, settling the decanter back from where it was nudged. During this time he notices the document which is held in her possession, maybe glancing at the names scrawled over the page - though for now it makes no sense. Instead of pondering over it, he takes the glass with him toward her window view, eyes searching into the evening light. His questions left unspoken, the glass of whiskey left untouched even if he holds it there in his hands as if poised to drink. He does flick a glance back over when she starts to sputter over the liquor she downs. Finally he asks, against the pane of glass, "I may not be the most forthcoming at times, but if you need to confide in someone…" he trails off, letting his chin draw downward, eyes peering into the whiskey, "Whiskey won't listen as well as I do…"

"It doesn't listen at all," retorts Thea setting the empty glass down with a little thunk on her desk. "I hate the stuff. But it does ease the shock." She rises with the paper in hand, offering it to him to read, moving restlessly about the office like someone caged. The document reads: The presence of Muireadhach, son of Thea, Weyrwoman of Xanadu and D'had Weyrsecond of Xanadu is requested at council to answer the plaint of Holder Thadan of Cold Stone Hold, who remains without an rightful heir. The preliminary decision of the council is that the boy be returned to his grandfather in lieu of his own children who have renounced their claim on the hold." She wanders over towards the heavy masculine-looking desk, opens a draw and removes something, breaking the silence to answer his other question, "I wasn't waiting on you, to be honest. I was catching up on some work after dinner when a rider delivered that."

A'dmar accepts the papers handed to him, turning it to right it so that he may read the documentation. Once he's skimmed the tidings, he moves to replace the page on her desk, taking a moment to sip at the whiskey, rather non-chalant about the council's request, "Your son is to be an heir to a hold. This is what is troubling you and is causing you to be on the verge of tears?" he asks, surprised, "Is it not an honour that a child born of a Weyr be chosen for leadership?" Some traditions apparently -can- be broken. The last makes him grimace down at the whiskey, "No, I had surmised you had not, easier to break the ice that way-" a pun considering the Weyr's current condition. "I have brought back with me sea salt. Bags of it. It will help to break up the ice once it warms enough, or so I'm told." Hey, he didn't disappear without thinking about some way to resolve matters with the ice-laden Weyr.

Thea has a knot in her hand. The thing is heavy and fancy, with five twined bronze, gold, silver, blue and orange cords that loop over his right arm and are woven into an intricate knot designed to sit atop the shoulder, leaving the two silver tassels hanging down one in front and one in back. She's heard him, surely, but doesn't answer. Instead she moves back towards A'dmar. "Here. You can wear Xe'ter's old one until the new one I ordered from Ierne arrives." She sniffs, keeping any tears at bay, lifting the knot with dark brows twitching up questioningly - a mute offering to pin it on if he allows. Her laugh catches in her throat, "We should have a ceremony but I suspect you might not enjoy that. Nevertheless, the Weyrfolk consider leadership at the Weyr an honor and they will follow you. You have all of our congratulations." The smile she awards him is a wan, pale thing compared to her usual radiant one, but sincere nonetheless. As for traditions being broken, she tells him, “Thadan has no other heirs save Muir now. Tharen won't go back because Thadan is…" she presses her lips together, unable to speak against her sire but the look on her face says it all. The Holder is why she and her brother left. Backing a step or two, she says starkly, "Muir will not go willingly to Cold Stone Hold. But he will go because I will not contest this.” She turns away then and whispers, "And it will cost me everything."

A'dmar lowers his whiskey and sets it back on the table, a sip is apparently all that he's willing to have. As he turns back to Thea she has made her way over to him and has raised that gaudy looking knot his way. The warm light does nothing to hide his cringe at the uplifted noose - knot. Yet, it was the sniff that keeps her tears away that snatches his attention away from the blasted looking thing. Maybe for the sake of that alone does he stand resolute and give her the tilt of his chin of permission so that she may help him shove it onto his arm there. "If a ceremony is needed and expected, they shall get it, otherwise I might be looked down upon if all else in history has had the honor and I rebuff it." He was smart enough to acknowledge that fact, not wanting to seperate himself from previous leaders. Perhaps in this moment when she's close does he have the opportunity to lift his fingers to her chin, if she doesn't pull away from them, he'll study her expression, seeing through the efforts of that smile. There is some readable expression in his gaze, sympathy, empathy, an understanding at that cost. He'll not pursue her when she steps back from him, allowing her the space, hands left at his sides, fingers twitching. It's when she turns away that he'll try another gesture of comfort, a hand slipping up onto her shoulder, "Do not let it. Why should your son not be allowed to refuse when all others have?"

Thea manages to chuckle, "Neither D'son nor Xe'ter would stand for a ceremony. The Weyrfolk would probably expire from shock if you do." She settles it onto his shoulder, pins it securely, pats it into place. Fingers under her chin lifts her gaze to him and under his fingertips he'll feel the wobble of it as she strives to keep from allowing those tears to fall. She's turning away when his hand touches her shoulder and she pauses to hear him. Motionless for a long moment, she shakes her head resolutely. "He's but eleven, not considered a man and the council will not allow him to say nay. Besides, we are overruled by blood. I won't put him through that." She steps back towards the other desk, flicking him an unreadable look. "D'had might go to contest this. He hates the man. But it will be too late and he will never forgive me for giving in to Thadan. Muir is on his way. Marella, his sister with him. I couldn't separate them." Thea gives his desk a curious little pat. "So this is your desk…" she strives for lightness, but her voice sounds odd and the look in her eyes when she turns her head over her shoulder is of profound loss, wet tracks trace down her cheeks but she's smiling.

The ceremony is of no consequence, not to him right now when there are deeper concerns at hand. The weyrleader's knot is glanced at once her fingers pat it in place, truly heavy, as a burden this large should be, a simple reminder now that with every step taken…he is not alone. Nagging thoughts are reprimanded like his dragon would be, as the emotions of the Weyrwoman become his focus. "If he is not considered a man in their eyes, then you and his father remain his guardians. Surely they must have your consent and you can refuse it. He is your child…" but then he stops himself, maybe connecting some similarities between parts of his life and what Thea's enduring now. As for the woman's weyrmate and her daughter going, he fully grasps the notion of her losing everything. The pat of his desk is regarded but ignored, stepping that way, hesitating once and then not willing to hesitate again as his arms move to drag her into an embrace - if she does not completely resist it. It's a gesture of compassion and how many times had he been fortunate enough to receive the same?

"I'm alright; I'll be fine-" Thea begins to protest but allows the hug anyway. For a moment her arms tighten, then she pushes away to arm's length, eyes thanking him when her voice cannot. The heel of one hand grinds into an eye in a childish manner. "D'had doesn't know yet. I sent them by ship because they've never been *Between*." And now would be a hell of a time to have them experience that! "I'll visit them. They will be alright. But D’had will not forgive me." She takes a deep breath. "So… salt you said?" Her eyes beg him to let the subject go while thanking him at the same time for thinking to bring the salt back with him. "I need to show you the… things. Do you want a computer? Xe'ter had D'son's taken back to stores."

The man does not continue to pursue giving the woman comfort, turning to the desk that she so recently patted and declared his own. He goes to lean against his new territory, the new command that he has earned because of a dragon's conquest. He turns his eyes up toward Thea as she tries to smear away the evidence of her tears, listening further to her words that her weyrmate does not even know about it yet. That's when he stiffens up, his eyes growing hard, sympathy dissolving into something hard, something akin to disgust, stating between jaws that tighten and throat that constricts, "You better tell him at once what you've decided. He has every right to know." Such as he had a right to know where his first mate was taking his daughter but never received. The quest to find the answers only just recently answered, in part, by his daughter's discovery but the loss of his first mate could never answer the whys. Perhaps D'had could stop the ship, one could only hope the man has the chance that A'dmar never had. He pivots away from the desk then, boots scuffing against the floor as he returns to her desk and where he left his whiskey. "Salt, yes, for the walks…" his tone still reigned in and tight, cool and indifferent from mere moments ago. "If a computer is required, I would have one," he's not opposed to technology, considering his business uses it to flourish.

Thea understands the damning judgment she reads in A'dmar because she knows the man’s story. Nevertheless, her chin lifts proudly. "I know it," she says tightly, eyes flashing. "I will tell him tonight and he will see the document. He will know where they are bound and can, if he chooses, visit them." Her voice is rock-firm as she says, "The decision is final, for the boy's sake." That she would never do the same to D'had as was done to A'dmar - as well as her reasoning is evident in her next words, "The child will never know anything was amiss. To him - and his sister - this is a great adventure that Darsce, D'had's own daughter is taking them on." So family is with the children, looking after them. They are not disappearing into a void. "To expose him to a council where anger and hostility are sure to be in high levels would frighten him. They would kill each other." Oh yes, because both Thadan and D'had have tempers! She must think of a blue dragon in the whole mess. She retreats inside herself and to Seryth who gives her strength, "I don't expect you to understand. This is my decision."

The whiskey is raked off the table as if he hadn't wanted it, but now it's lifted to his lips in spite of everything, letting the liquor fill him and burn him as it runs down his throat. It makes him shake his head, the strength of it, lowering the glass back to the desk with a sharp clunk. No he doesn't approve and that heavy judgement in his eyes was enough to declare as such, without the acid tones needed in his voice. He'll listen, certainly, to the reasoning. Maybe his own past gets shoved back down where it belongs and the beacon that is his lifemate restores him, helping him regain his composure. Whatever it is, he tilts his chin back so that his voice carries to her, "I apologize, I never meant to insinuate that I would force you to make another decision. It is not my business and your family is your own." His gaze flicks down to the knot on the same shoulder he's glancing back over, drawing his gaze back to the table that hosts the whiskey decanter, "I'm afraid we are both forced to do things we would rather not. At least that much I can understand."

"Don't be, you couldn't anyway!" retorts Thea without heat but with steel in her voice. She'll fight for what she believes is best for her children. "I don't really care if you approve or understand." No, there's only one person who she regrets won't understand or forgive and that person will surely be lost to her after tonight. That glance he does down to his knot does not go unnoticed and she nods. Much is sacrificed to leadership. "If I weren't Weyrwoman and bound to facilitate diplomacy planet-wide, D'had and I could take them… away. Just… go independent." But there are reasons that keep her here, reasons that she doesn't go into. Instead, she asks quietly, "Other things than run your Quoin shipping?"

A'dmar makes a sardonic noise in his throat, not really a laugh or even a chuckle, an obtrusive sound to be certain, rolling one shoulder, "I didn't suspect you would care… why would you? I'm here by luck, as they say, and by your traditions I am here to be a partner in all this,-" a hand thrust to her desk as he spins and leans back against her desk, arms folding, head falling slightly, the longer strands of his hair tickling against his brow and corners of his cheek bones, concluding with a hard worked casual tone, "-but not your personal life." The line is drawn and so be it. Yet, her admission that she would go independent has him bluntly remark, "There are others to do the job. Your junior weyrwoman. You're only bound by your choice…" and that's what he's been saying all along, in not so many words. Her last question to him is granted a nod, but he fails to delve into it much at this point, leaving it at a nod, turning his head to the side, eyes drawn out the windows, "I imagine you would've prepared a weyr for me by now…"

Her emphasis is on herself. "I am here by my choice," the Weyrwoman allows, "and Seryth's. And something more." But she leaves that for another time. Yes, she could step down at any time and though the Weyrleader is chosen by chance, he could, as she’s told him, decline it. "My choice has little to do with my own personal needs," she says at length something of regret in the pushing him away in her expression. But she is proud, something he can likely relate to, and his harsh judgment of her has tightened her armor. As to her personal life, she repeats, "I don't expect you to understand." And then she reaches for that document, lifting it from the desk, awarding it a look as one might when told to say goodbye to a death-departed loved one. Staring at it, she answers him absently, "In the meadow, at the top of the rise beneath the ridge. Yours is the last one on the ascending path. I saw to the refurbishment myself. The map is on your desk." Her gaze lifts to him then, as vacant and lost as it was when she patted his desk awhile ago. "I need to go and tell him now."

Maybe one day he could discover what is keeping the woman and her lifemate here when all those who are important to her are leaving, one day, when he cares to try to bypass that armor, as strong as his own. He keeps his head lowered, the glow behind him, casting his expressions into shifting shadows and shapes with each of his slight movements and his calm collective breathing. What disapproval he had shown in his gaze had vanished, some simple reminders enough to bring his past to the forefront, while gentle nudges from a caring lifemate help to subdue it. He's otherwise devoid of emotion now, his armor of professionalism and politeness intact. In the fluttering shadows pressed across his face, she may find it hard to see his eyes with his downcast chin, therefore it's easy to say he might have failed to see that vacant look in her own eyes. But as she goes to step out of the office he pushes away from the desk and intones his gratitude, "Thank you for the weyr," a beat, "And good luck… I will be here with the whiskey… Perhaps we can make it talk if it doesn't listen…" And then he's shifting to -his- new desk, looking to illuminate the room with a further glow or two since the lights are out.

Perhaps some day he will. “You’re welcome,” Thea says graciously, if still somber. She’s not so immersed in her own troubles that she can’t see this is a difficult transition for him and for a moment she pauses, studying him in the dim light. To fuss and hover would offend his sense of pride and she lacks coherent thought right now anyway. When A'dmar speaks again, her gaze slides from him to that whiskey decanter and she shudders slightly. No thanks! “Goodnight,” she adds. And she steps resolutely out of the office to unravel the last vestiges of her security and happiness.

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