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.

Xanadu might not see as much snow as some of her more northern counterparts, but there's enough of it sticking around right now to cover the ground. The winds carry a bit of a nip, so lingering outside is best only for those who need to be. Otherwise? Best to hurry along your way! Never mind that the evening skies, already night-dark, lend an ethereal beauty to the snowscape, along with the light of the near full moons. It's the stuff of poetry! None of which Ru'ien is currently admiring. Kihatsuth, exhausted from their training today, has curled up so soundly asleep and early, that he's made GOOD on this rare opportunity! Which was to flee the barracks post-haste, grab himself a proper bath and now? Oh, now… he is grabbing a late dinner, in which he can savor the food and not inhale it at dangerous rates. Nor is he at risk of falling asleep in his seat, either! With more pep in his step and a low hummed (mildly off key) tune under his breath, the young weyrling makes his way to a table along the wall. It's here that he gracefully slides into a chair, immediately adopting the most comfortable slouch of PURE LUXURY with a sigh of bliss to match.

Alexa certainly doesn't need to be outside, even if she's dressed for it. And she probably doesn't *need* to linger in Xanadu, but she's totally going to. And hunger is as good an excuse as any, right? "I am not loitering," she mutters beneath her breath, sounding far more defensive than she ought. "I'm just… taking a detour." Sure. A detour. Right into the living caverns and straight over to the food and then straight over to that lovely seat along the wall where she might be able to blend into the stonework if she kinda hunches there just right. Totally incognito. "This chair's not taken, right?" It kinda is now, seeing as she's totally just stolen it. But the question is posed regardless, even if Alexa is not going to wait for the slouched and blissfully sighing weyrling to answer her.

"Nope! Help yourself." Ru'ien gestures with his hand to the empty seats, never once looking up to even glimpse who addressed him. It's not out of disrespect, merely just a behavior of his, in that so-called devil-may-care attitude. His posture will straighten, at least, in so far that he'll draw his legs back enough - no need to start an accidental game of footsies under the table! With his focus on his meal, he'll casually take a bite or two and it's then that he finally looks up. Grinning at first, despite the lack of recognition, it isn't until that blue-eyed gaze of his settles on her knot, that everything changes. First, his expression drops into clear-written surprise, as his mind scrambles. Uh, right! There's protocol in this, isn't there? Which has him backtracking a little. "Um, that is… welcome! And-" See, the problem is, is that he inhales at the wrong time and manages to get just the right amount of spice and seasoning to settle in the back of his throat. The result is a tickle that just won't quit, no matter how much he tries to stave off the coughing. "Xanadu's greetings-" Cough. Stifled choke. "-Igen and her queens." It's choked out in a strained manner but he DID IT and promptly reaches for the drink he luckily has with him. Just ignore how red in the face he is and the watering eyes or the fact that he's smiling like an idiot the whole time - this is fine.

"Great!" Because Alexa wasn't about to move. Well. Maybe she would have. She's not that rude. But he's grinning and Alexa is grinning back, and it's all well and good and probably normal until he gets a glance at her knot. There's a dry sort of look; a sarcastic little twitch at the corner of her mouth, half amused and half exasperated, as she watches him stutters through that protocol. It's the coughing fit that breaks it, though it's hard to be worried when he's smiling through the darn thing. "Uh. You alright?" He's not dead at least, so that's something. "It's fine, really," comes in quick return, a verbal hand-wave of the protocol. "I'm done with the official stuff." Whatever that means. "So… at ease or… whatever." That's a thing, right? "You can just call me Alexa. Or. Well. You don't actually have to call me anything. But if you're going to call me something, it might as well be Alexa." Pause. Beat. "Because it's my name." Wince. Wonderful. A+ on the greetings.

"Well, it's a nice name!" Ru'ien chimes in when he's sufficiently recovered, with only a slight crackle to his voice. One last cough, a steadying breath and… yes, he seems fine! Physically. Mentally? Well, his smile certainly hasn't faded and neither has the amusement in that gaze of his. "Yeah, I'm fine! Just… damned spice," He gestures towards his throat, rolls his hand a bit as if that is self explanatory and then uses the same hand to smooth back a strand of hair that has escaped what is partially tied back; if he had his hair down, it would be long, just a smidgen past shoulder length. It'd be a great annoyance to eat with it likely tumbling into his face. But, that isn't the point! He's fixated on her now, curiosity well hooked as he doesn't so much as hide the fact he's giving her the 'ol once over. "Guess it gets boring, huh? All the stiff formalities. I'll remember that!" Is he assuming there's a next time!? He would've snickered at the 'at ease' but the opportunity passed while he was gasping for air. Instead, with one arm brace on the table, he'll half-rise in order to extend his other arm and hand in gestured greeting. "Ru'ien," he offers his name in turn, along with a crooked, disarming (completely, utterly oblivious) grin.

"Uh huh…" That is the voice (and the face) of someone who is very much not impressed. Alexa eyes him with a squinty gaze, one that goes from curious to skeptical to suspicious to downright disapproving as all that grinning just keeps on going. It's the once over that brings the eyebrow arch, the sort of 'really?!' that can almost be heard if one listens hard enough. "Yup. It really does." Get boring? Sure. "Gets old real fast." She might not be talking about formalities now. "You do that." Remember things. It's a dry sort of comment; as unamused as all the rest. Even if Alexa can't help a little bit of a grin (even if she totally tries!). It's the greeting that does it, but perhaps not in the way he'd meant. While there might be the beginnings of a smile, unwillingly given, it vanishes in a blink at the deliverance of his name. "Wait. What?" Blank look. Then suspicious look. Then downright irritated look. "You're not." Because clearly she'd know? "You're joking, right?" About his name?! And this time, it's Alexa that's giving him the once over, though it's far from appreciative. Green eyes narrowed to slits, she drags a look over him from head to toe (or at least as much a she can see before the table gets in the way); a weighty look that finds him lacking. Did it just get cold in here?

See? Usually folks would take a hint, a HUGE hint, with all the not-impressed vibes and squinty looks. Not Ru'ien. No, that sort've stuff just rolls off of him like water and, insufferably, encourages him! It's like a lure he cannot resist and so, while not the least bit intimidated, he's also not backing down. That grin remains, maybe tweaked to more of a lopsided smirk, when she appears displeased with his observing. What? Look at him! He's the picture of innocence. He'll take a bite or two more of food (without incident this time) and it's on her revelation about his name that he looks up at her. "Mhm?" Cue a puzzled look. "Yeah, I am? Unless I missed that very important note?" Sarcasm, at its finest but lacking the edge - it's playful, teasing, from a young man unafraid of sticking his whole arm in the fire! Why? Just to see where it goes. Under her scrutiny, he'll lean back in his seat, looking outright smug for her displeasure. It's not the first time (or the last) but damn if he's not getting his kicks from this. Danger? What danger? "Y'know," he drawls a bit, for emphasized hesitation to set the mood. Did he just shiver a little? Maybe. Damn draughty caverns! His eyes meet hers, bright with mischief and unafraid, to match the fox-sly smirk. Even his hand gestures lazily, with a small flourish before tucking along the curve of his jaw. Hmm. "You look an awful lot like folks generally do with me when I've gone an pissed them off good. Was it the greeting? I meant no offence, honest!"

Alexa really ought to be more gracious, seeing as she's a guest and all. But whatever professional politeness she may have had (and it was minimal at best) has evaporated with the knowledge of his name and all that smirky smugness happening across the table from her. Really, he'd be damned either way, and is kinda double-damned with both. She may be from Igen, but her look is as icy-cold as she can make it. Little good that it does her. "And you look an awful lot like a creepy, two-faced, inconsiderate, self-righteous, predatory jack-ass." Tell him how you really feel, Alexa! "And if you weren't a weyrling, I'd totally punch you in the nose." She wouldn't. She'd like to think she would! But she wouldn't. But pretending it's because he's a weyrling makes her feel better. "And keep your slimy eyeballs off me." Whatever that means.

All through the verbal onslaught that would have most red-faced in anger, shame or whatever combination of emotions, Ru'ien remains impassive. There's a flicker of something akin to bemusement in his eyes, maybe something more, but his grin return and broadens under her barrage of less than savoury titles. He doesn't even challenge her or her misunderstanding of his previous 'study' of her. There's merely a quiet sigh and he'll slouch in his seat, while languidly reaching for a bite of food to pop into his mouth. Like nothing just went down between them, like she isn't freezing the space around them out. He behaves like a man who doesn't care and yet does, in complete paradox of himself. "Well," he muses, mouth curved again to that slanted quasi-smirk. "I'll agree with you on 'self-righteous' and 'jack-ass'. Inconsiderate is stretching it a little… I never intend to be? It just sort've happens!" Uh huh. He dons that innocent air again, finger tap-tapping in idle thought and enjoyment against his cheek. "I'll try to keep my observing to a minimum but that'll be hard to do, when you're so… enthralling. Do you speak so bluntly and threatening to everyone? 'Cause that's damn admirable! But then," His hand moves from his face to flick his fingers at her knot. "Guess there's that leeway." Oh. OH NO. He just didn't suggest that, did he!? Oh, he did! And he's proud of it, albeit oblivious because he isn't thinking before speaking. Instead he chuckles, "Sorry if that upset you too, though. All seriousness! You're not my type." Duh. Also? He peers at her now, more intently despite JUST promising not to do exactly that! "… do we know each other though? I mean, you didn't even know me on sight but you seem to have an opinion on my character."

"Just sort of happens," repeats Alexa, with all the sass of a six-year-old, though she'll skip the eyeroll for now. She's clearly forgotten herself, a fact made clear when his finger-flicking reminds her of the knot at her shoulder. But if her cheeks flame red, it's not from embarrassment. "No, not everyone," she huffs in return. "Only those that deserve it." And… he does? She's seething, and not doing a very good job at hiding it, five seconds away from hissing like an angry feline. "I know of you," she agrees. "And what I know is more than enough," she declares, with all the righteous indignation of one who believes herself justified. "Do you enjoy hurting people? Do you like preying on those who fall for your stupid smirky face and pretty blue eyes?" It's not really supposed to be a compliment. "Suppose you get a kick out of stealing hearts and breaking them." It's not even a question, and she won't let it become one. "Well, I won't let you. You've done more than enough damage, and why I ever thought—" A hiss of a breath ends her sentence. There's a curl to her lip, a fire in her eyes, and she leans forward as if she could possibly pull off looking threatening. "Stay away from my friends."

Ru'ien nods brightly to Alexa repeating his words. That's right! If she does turn a bit red, he won't call her on it - not verbally. His eyes will narrow briefly, as he takes note but doesn't push further than that. "Do I?" He will voice the unspoken there, heavily quizzical because for all his playfulness, THAT seems genuine. The mildly disappointed look that follows is definitely feigned, even as his fingers press against the corner of his mouth. "… I thought people liked my smile…" he mutters. mostly to himself and oh - was she -hissing- speaking to him? He blinks, looking up again and while he does grin, there's a faint edge of something being off about it. Perhaps something she did say stung a bit and he's bubbling that up before it wakes a certain chaos-loving green. "I think you got the whole wrong idea about me. Who were you talking to? Did my sisters put you up to this? I mean, it sounds like something Ezzie would do." There he goes rambling again! "Yeah, I flirt." Guilty as charged! Wait, what? "Usually mutual, just a bit of fun and doesn't always lead to … y'know. That kind of fun time I'm not really allowed to discuss or think of right now?" Beam. Tense smile! "But stealing hearts? Nah. Not my cup 'of tea. Besides… no one would love a guy like me, trust me." He gives a scoff at that, all grins and joking despite the darker theme just dropped. "Kihatsuth doesn't count." To emphasize, he holds up a finger, only to withdraw it (and okay, he's shrinking back in his seat slightly because he knows better than to think smol women are entirely harmless). "… but how do I know who your friends are?" Alexa, you better add 'wise ass' to the list.

"I'm pretty sure I got the whole thing right." She's on a roll now, riding that self-righteous train all the way to the station without a single stop on the way, entirely oblivious to any tension and dark themes. "You flirt. And you stalk people. And you send them skeevy letters. And you make them think you care, when really all you want is to stick your dick up their—" But maybe, blessedly, her words choke off and her sentence stops, because maybe Raaneth's reminded her of Ru'ien's position, and maybe upsetting a baby dragon is a line she doesn't want to cross. At least, there's a flash of her eyes to his knot, and the suggestion of contriteness in her expression, and a huff of breath and maybe, maybe a mutter beneath her breath about 'not going there'. "That you don't know who I'm talking about makes my point completely," she declares, like that isn't a cryptic thing to say. "I wanted to believe I was wrong. Some of us deserve to be happy." And now she's standing, shoving away from the table and ignoring the food left behind. Because who has time to eat when making a dramatic exit?!

Is this when he's supposed to burst into tears or into a fit of indignant rage? Because none of that happens! In fact, he just looks more and more bewildered and perplexed than before. It takes a moment, but something finally clicks. "… skeevy letters? I've only done that oonnce-oh. OH!" There it is, the winning piece to the puzzle! He probably heard all the rest of her argument too, though none of it fully registers yet: mostly because he won't allow it and even if he didn't have Kihatsuth to worry about, it still wouldn't! Raaneth is wise, still, to intervene when she did. If Alexa can start to make a dramatic exit, then he'll just have to dramatically follow. "… hey, wait! Alexa!" He'll be on his feet and doing his best to follow her, but it's not as simple for a young man of his towering 6'3" height. That and sometimes he's just less than graceful and in this instance he does end up stumbling over the edge of one chair. Somehow he doesn't end up face first on the stone floor but it's a close call! Along with a lot of cursing, hasty apologies (to who?) and then he's loping after her if she hasn't just booked it out of there. "You know Matty…! M'ti!?" And if his words haven't fallen short and if she isn't completely gone, Ru'ien will bound up like a large doofus of a dog - if he had a tail, it'd be wagging furiously. At his height and lean build, he COULD be intimidating but no… he looks as vapid as he plays at. The way he beams hopefully isn't helping.

Alexa is definitely not running. One, it's dangerous. She might trip! And two, that would totally destroy the vibe. But it also means she can totally hear him, crashing around and calling her name and… sigh. Dramatic exit effectively ruined, she sighs something longsuffering and twists around to glower at the… very, very tall weyrling. Grinning or not, six-feet-three-inches is really tall and a perfectly acceptable reason for the goldrider to suddenly look a little worried, right? Yes. Absolutely. Even if she puts on a rather brave face, shoulders thrown back and chin raised in clear and utter defiance. "Yes. I do know M'ti," she returns, with all the haughty indignation she can muster while facing the very very tall Ru'ien. (Did we mention he's tall? And she's not?). "And you can stay away from him, thanks. You've done enough." It's a little less effective when she has to stare up at him to say it.

Unfortunately, Ru'ien is clueless about a lot of things, including how intimidating his height may be to some. Alexa does well by standing her ground though, as it'll keep him from intruding on her personal space like he has with others. At least the No Touchy vibe is sinking in, even if on a subconscious level! Maybe it's a little less effective to talk up to him, but something kicks in. He refocuses on her, as if only now aware of her anger and not of his own thoughts. It draws a sheepish, wavering half-smile from him, as though he's not certain at all how to handle negativity - or is trying to find a way to steer around it. "Um… what did I do?" No, that's not him yanking her chain, again it's the truth! He looks completely lost, until his expression morphs again to a more neutral, reined in smile. Is that a hint of worry there? Oh, you bet there is. "I mean," he sighs a bit, straightening as he fidgets first by rubbing a hand along the side of his neck and then down across his chest. Scratching? No. Very oblivious. "For awhile I'd not heard anything? I didn't even know if he was getting my letters - NOT lewd, I stopped those - or if he'd come, y'know, to see…" He gestures vaguely towards the Hatching grounds, before his hand resumes it's fidgeting. "But he writes to me now. Said he was doing better? Kihatsuth had told me something different from Cherith too that I didn't fully believe but…" Ru'ien's gaze falls heavily on Alexa then, all playfulness gone save for a small smile that is somehow sad without it being such. "So… he's not well, then, is he?" Whoosh! Misunderstandings, abound!

Touching would definitely not be good! Arms crossed and jaw set, Alexa glowers up at him, just waiting for… well. Maybe she's not quite sure what. But certainly not confusion. "I just told you what you did!" And she's not about to repeat it, if her tone of voice is to be believed. Green eyes narrowed, she studies him the way one might study something with too many legs (like it might bite, or she might squish it). Like she can't quite decide if this is a trick. "I don't know what game you think you're playing, but it's not funny." It's the sudden sadness, slight though it might be, that has her entirely uncertain now. "And what if he isn't? What does it matter? Why do you care? Do you care? That's probably a better question." Not that she'll believe him if he says he does. Her mind is quite made up, thanksyouverymuch. "No one is that clueless."

"I do care!" Ru'ien doesn't hesitate on countering her, though he scoffs and doesn't carry much heat or scorn in his tone towards her. If anything, he looks a touch surprised, to be thrown into the mix of his overall confused, worried, sidelong staring at her. "… he's my friend too. I mean, you might know him longer or better and well - until recently I thought he hated me which I get it?" DOES he? There's that not-quite right near grin again, but it doesn't stick around long enough. Ru'ien's really putting his shielding practice to work here! Thanks, Alexa? "You don't know me and you hate me… I guess I did something? Not that I know what I've done!" His hands spread in a helpless gesture, before falling at his sides. In the same instance, his shoulders drop a bit and the whole features soften. "… I don't mean to hurt people." Are things starting to connect a bit? Very possible. Which may explain why Ru'ien's positivity overload is wavering a little. That is… until the smile comes back into place. "I've been told I can be!" Very clueless. That revelation draws a quiet chuckle from him.

"I've already told you what you've done!" She's not quiet shrieking, but it's getting darn close. Close enough that Alexa is forced to take a deep breath, to pinch at her nose, to try and calm down before defending her friend becomes an international incident. "Yeah, well, whether you meant to or not, you did." Hurt him. "Ignorance is no excuse. You know exactly what you do, or you wouldn't do it. You stalked him. You pursued him even though he didn't want anything to do with you. You sent him letters without asking. You chased him down until he finally gave in, and I'll bet you never stopped to think why he was resisting in the first place!" There's a fire in her eyes again, and a flush in her cheeks that is entirely born out of anger. "So you're right, Ru'ien," she snaps with a sneer, like his name leaves a sour taste in her mouth. "I do hate you! Because I hate anyone who's going to use and abuse my friend, whether that's what they meant to do or not." This time when she turns, she has no intention of stopping. Even if she has to run.

"But-" Ru'ien begins to protest, only now becoming mildly defensive in an effort to clear the air. Except she's snapping at him next, with that sneer and despite the difference in height, he's the one leaning back. He looks slightly shocked, definitely dumbfounded, but he cannot let it all sink in. Not because he doesn't want to, but there is too much RISK if he absorbs it all now. Blinking, brows furrowed, all he can do is let Alexa leave. "… I'd hate me too." he murmurs under his breath, with a sigh, directed at her retreating back. Shaking his head, he'll shake the worst of the negative and unhappy thoughts off - he's going to enjoy the rest of his evening, damn it! And that requires that he doesn't wake Kihatsuth just yet. Returning to his table, he'll clear the dishes left there, pawning them off on the nearest drudges. Then? It's off for a little walk, until he's too tired to think.

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