==== August 4, 2013
==== Br'er, Q'fex
==== Br'er and Q'fex show how classy they really are.

Who Br'er, Q'fex
What Br'er and Q'fex go out into Pern, and show off how classy they really are.
When There is 1 turn 6 months and 24 days until the 12th pass.
Where The Glissandi, Harper Hall
Notes Adult themes; read at your own risk!

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HarpH: The Glissandi
This small, exquisite cafe tucked into Harper Hall is— beautiful; all glass and dark-stained wood, intimate booths and airy tables. Each booth is lit by real candlelight, a scented dip floating in glass bowls of water. Such extravagance may only be found at Harper, and even then the glass bowls are shaded in unique colors and flawed, the cast-offs of glass-smith work. Nevertheless, it is one of the most upscale locales that Nowtimer Pern boasts, and it isn't surprising to find Mastercrafters dining daily with select guests.

Yet another note: this one hand-delivered (in the sense that Br'er left it tucked in Kraakenhaeth's straps, when Q'fex was otherwise occupied at the tail end of the morning's drills). On fresh paper, properly trimmed into a tidy little square, too. Fancy. An invitation is what it was. "Hey," Br'er had written, "want to skip the living cavern slop and go eat somewhere decent, tonight?" With a postscript: "You still owe me a bout of secrets-spilling. Fair's fair." Which brings us to now. Who suggested the Glissandi, of all places? Not that immaculately clad Br'er looks remotely ill-at-ease; of course not. He's got a table already, one tucked well off to the side (perhaps to facilitate discreet bouts of sobbing?), and waits patiently, pale eyes studying an intricate wood carving besides his head.

Fancy. Speaking of fancy, Q'fex's expression is amused as he enters into the Gliss, moving through such rarefied crowds. Hard to get in THIS place unless you know a person who knows a person. It probably helps that Q'fex is one such person, but. The waiter that leads him to the table is decked out to the nines — Q'fex isn't QUITE so fancy, though when is the man not seen to be fashion-conscious? He settles himself across from Br'er, smirking indulgently at the greenrider. "Just had to pick a spot in the corner, did you." Dark eyes laugh.

At least his fashion-consciousness garners a reward: at least, if Br'er's appreciative glance counts. He waits until the waiter is moving on his way before grinning, a flash of gleaming teeth. "I like to see what's coming at me," says the greenrider, too mildly. His hands steeple idly on the tablecloth. His grin widens further. "And, besides — I thought you'd appreciate not having to be in the center of the room." A patient, pointed beat. "You know, for when you burst into tears."

Q'fex saw that, that appreciative glance; but he's got one of his own for Br'er, so they cancel out, don't they? Maybe. The bronzerider shrugs a shoulder for not being in the center of the room, though he does seem very pleased, in a mild way… that soon turns to trepidation, an eyeball for that last. "Oh, I'm the one who's going to be crying, is that so?" He leans forwards, propping his elbows up on the edge of the table — so gauche.

Not so much cancel each other as feed: one might call it a circle jerk of mutual appreciation, even, if such vocabulary weren't obviously inappropriate in such CLASSY atmosphere. Speaking of class, Br'er EYES those elbows for a split second, but says nothing: he will compensate merely in the prim way his own elbows remain carefully clear of wooden surfaces. "I don't cry," the greenrider informs, breezily. There isn't the slightest flicker of change in his mild expression as he adds, "Except cry out, of course." He beams, innocence personified. And continues to beam as he smoothly explains that, "I've given you no end of dirt on me, Q'fex. You owe me some sort of counter confession. Fair's fair."

Is it a circle when it's just two men? Oh wait, two men and two completely separate manpains, they TOTALLY have enough for a circle-jerk. "You don't — oh, I could make you cry." Q'fex's voice is CONFIDENT, his smile just this side of a leer. "Counter confession?" The elbows come off the table, and Fex broods, in thought. About this time the WINE arrives, with ice-water, and Q'fex is staring at his as if it may somehow bite him in the ass. Oh WAIT. "I met this little girl in the latrines the other day, and she made me want to cry. Have you ever met some oldtimer named Eric?" His voice, it's mystified.

"Mm," murmurs Br'er, oh-so-mildly. "I'll keep that… boast," a flash of challenging TEETH, "in mind." Whatever distractions he might be experiencing, he's not distracted enough to notice the way Q'fex stares. Br'er, curious, leans closer, eyeing the bottle. A respectable vintage — so his eyebrows go up. "Not a fan?" the greenrider hazards, as he settle back into his seat for storytime. Which is… no less reason for his eyebrows to lift. "I haven't met him, but he's… Southern's guard captain, I thought?" Fancy that, Br'er keeps tabs on the area guards. I WONDER WHY. "What does this apparently terrifying little girl have to do with that?"

"No, I," Q'fex lifts his hand to scratch at the nape of his neck, suddenly awkward, "I've been… sober. Recently." DIRT. Br'er wanted dirt, right? "No, he's not a guard captain, we still haven't decided on one of those," absent, still eyeballing the wine. "I mean. I've — given myself a glass a day, but I'm not sure if I could stop, here, with you." Speak of the awkwardbeast. "She's a terrifying little she-wench of tremendous proportion. She pissed on herself and talked about her parents having sex and wanted me to help her and fucking Faranth Br'er it was AWFUL." /manpain.

The tidbit about Eric is filed away: Br'er has bigger things to react to. "Oh!" It's hard to miss the great surprise in the greenrider's face — wait what WHAT Q'fex the Drunk is doing WHAT — and, abruptly… the awkwardness. "Oh," he says again, more quietly. There's a moment's silent, cautious reflection, his pale eyes watching Q'fex with careful regard. And then, in a perfectly normal tone, as if he was talking about weather or drill patterns: "We can send it back with the waiter. I don't need it." Br'er seizes upon the alternative conversational topic like a dying man. "Ugh." Said with a LITTLE more force than strictly necessary. "This is why I don't like children."

Q'fex the DRUNK is trying to get on with his life. He toys with the stem of the glass. "No, no, it's not…" And now he's embarassed more. "Just a glass." That's what it always starts with, doesn't it? AHAHAHAHAH..em. "I," and well, Br'er ASKED for a confession, so he is going to GET ONE, "I took Kohleth's passing hard." He did, truefax. There's a half-written unposted vig all about it that will probably never see the light of day. "I didn't want to waste any time fucked up, and then — then I didn't have a chance anyhow, because Talicanitath went up, and fucking Kraaken," his voice is without heat, almost toneless as the bread arrives, a rustic boule with rosemary and whole cloves of garlic baked in, and an oiled pesto. "And. Well. You know the rest." A flash of white teeth against tanned skin, momentarily self-effacing.

"You know," Br'er says, quietly, "you've been doing a good job. A very good one, considering the… difficulty of the situation." But compliments can't buoy the entire conversation, and this is where things get awkward. Br'er hesitates: this is not, ultimately, his call to make, is it? He really hopes it isn't :( "Well…" Further hesitation. He reaches for the bottle, pulling it closer, and holding out his hand for Q'fex's glass. "One for us both," the greenrider declares, in that easy tone. This is totally normal! This isn't a terrible idea! And the arrival of the waiter with the bread is HELPFUL, or perhaps UNFORTUNATELY FAST, because it makes Br'er flick a nod, subtly: send the bottle back, once they've both got a glass? YOUR CALL.

SCANDAL. Was that a COMPLIMENT? "I." Q'fex squints across the table, and then, quietly, "Thank you, Br'er." He can't LEAVE it at that, "It means so much from a man previously stuck in a jail-cell for two mont…" He's already ducking, completely at odds with the FANCY place they find themselves in. What? You only live once. "No, no, leave it. I'm good. I'm fine." Of COURSE he is. "So," topic-change, "I think I'm going to do away with teams." Because he is a fickle, fickle man. He idly tears off a chunk of bread, just as idly asks, "Do you want a wing?" The way he questions, he makes it seem like he's not just offering Br'er a spot as wingrider.

Br'er looks faintly embarrassed, and mildly antagonistic: so yes, it probably was a compliment. And there's a light smack to follow, because de rigueur, and that's why he wanted the corner table, right? For the discreet violence? And there's a flicker, JUST A FLICKER, of a second after Q'fex keeps the bottle on the table where the greenrider looks like he might be considering saying something. But… well. He doesn't. He goes for the bread, instead, and is halfway to biting into a piece when the connotations of the bronzerider's question sink in. Br'er… sets the hunk of delicious carbohydrates back down, carefully. "I don't have good luck with that sort of thing," is the quiet response.

Discreet violence. Ha! Q'fex, wounded-face. And even MORE wounded-face at Br'er's statement. "You're a perfectly responsible rider, Br'er, that I would have in," okay, he can't HELP himself, okay? He can't. He just can't. "… any position under me, any at all." His face remains SO STRAIGHT except it's hard to be straight and saying that to Br'er, and dark eyes laugh to defy the mild set of lips. Then there's a plate of spiderclaws and drawn butter; hope nobody has a shellfish allergy. "Seriously, though, Br'er, you name what you want, it's yours." Pause. "If it's within my power," Q'fex amends, because he's familiar with unobtainable requests.

Br'er does not, fortunately, have such an allergy. Certain comments vis a vis being under things receive no direct response: on the other hand, there is ABSOLUTELY no objective reason he needs to put on quite so much of a… performance, eating that decedent, butter-dipped spiderclaw. (This. Ah. Might be the other reason they're at a corner table.) There's a dual purpose at work, for it buys him a moment to THINK. "You realize," the greenrider murmurs, in his low rasp, "that doing such a thing puts you in High Reaches' crosshairs." A moment's hesitation. And then, finally: "It's funny, you know." He sets his fork down, carefully, reaching for his wine glass. Not to drink. Just to hold it. The man's expression grows pensive. "I've wanted power my entire life. Every stupid decision I've ever made, that's been at the root of it. Every man's got a key that lets you in right past his defenses, and that's… always been mine. No different than your thirst for liquor, really." He stares at his glass, at Q'fex. "Maybe we both need, um. Moderation. What position needs filling most urgently? Because I can fill it for a while, and then. Um." A wince, subtle, forms at the corners of his eyes. "Not do it, once there's someone better qualified."

Q'fex could have the Picard-WTF face right now, a hand out and just — but why the fuck does Br'er have to fellate the CRAB CLAW? If there were only an easy emoticon for Picard-WTFery face. And maybe he's sitting a little uncomfortable after that, though by the half-irritated smirk on his face he can't help but NOT enjoy it. His eyes drop to Br'er's hands on the stem of his wine-glass, but that doesn't really help, either. So instead the weyrleader focuses on those WORDS, closing his eyes momentarily. At the end he seems calmer, when dark-eyed regard is once again upon Br'er. "No," briefly, "No. I wouldn't use you like that, Br'er. Put you in a situation where… no." He shakes his head. "I'm looking for a," and his words appropriately choke when he realizes what he was ABOUT to say, cough, ahem, damn, where's that wine? He pours himself a measure and takes a measured sip. "That is to say, I'm looking for long-term commitment from the ones who I do install as leadership. It isn't fair to anyone, any other way."

Whatever Br'er was aiming for with that CLAW, he appears to have accomplished it: he beams at the expression on Q'fex's face, just a little smugly. Asshole. Asshole who proceeds to eat the next spiderclaw like a normal person. "I think," and his voice is quiet, but warm: genuinely affectionate, even. It appears Southern's hapless Weyrleader has said the right thing. Hurrah! "I think," comes the musing repeat, "that what I'd like best is to do… the sort of thing I was trained to do, back at 'Reaches." Specialize in STEALTH SHENANIGANS. Or, as he phrases it: "Just be a wingrider, but serve as your, uh, agent. Help you keep the bullshit endemic in the Northern Weyrs as far away from as we can, so it can't infect " millisecond's hesitation, and then, firmly " us." Hastily, Br'er adds, "If you want, anyway." He squishes his wine, idly, reflective. "The thing is — I started doing that because it was the only thing I was offered, but… I'm good at it, you know? And I like it. I think I'd like it even more if it were for, uh. Better causes."

Hapless Weyrleader he is, discomfited by a suggestive eating of a spiderclaw and fatalistic nobility both. He seems — more at ease, as Br'er goes about explaining what it is that he would like to be about. "I think," Q'fex hesitates only a bare moment, "I think I like that." BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE. "That us." His eyes are steady, dark to Br'er's light. "I've found myself growing quite fond of Southern." No shit Sherlock. "And there isn't anything I'd rather see… well, that is a lie," he contradicts himself in the same breath. "I don't want the northerners edging in, though, on our…" Whatever he was GOING to say is cut off, then, at the arrival of soup for the two of them: Br'er has something that looks like roasted butternut, while Q'fex's is something cheesy. Of course.

"It's a pretty place," Br'er says, easily, even if Q'fex probably wasn't just referring to Southern's aesthetic qualities. His soup he takes, though without much real interest: it's more a thing to occupy his hands with than anything else, his gaze remaining fixed steadily to the bronzerider's face. He's neither teasing nor testing, now, too interested in the topic of conversation to play games. "With resources enough to… change the layout of the board, I think. Given time. And depending on how the dust settles with what the Igenites " so casually he says that, like they both weren't in their number a short time prior " do with the information they have about High Reaches, and Benden, and Fort. How much do the Oldtimer goldriders know about our politics, anyway?" He pauses for a spoonful of soup, then adds, wryly, "I probably have to make nice with that Hannah bitch. A pity."

Q'fex dubiously spoons through his soup, face clearing after a moment. There are chunks of tuber in this, life is good. Then, seriously: "I think when the Northerners realize the scope of our jurisdiction, they'll either want it with the lust of someone who doesn't realize the reality of the situation… or run away screaming." Q'fex shakes his head. "There are natives scattered all over the whole continent, and I don't want to have anyone's blood on my hands when Threadfall comes." The grim reality of the situation. Then, "Bailey's the only one with a clue, but even then, it isn't as if anyone is going to respect her. Lendai's conceded leading global politics to me, and Hannah will follow her." He hesitates on this last, and looks up, directly; his face is unusually serious, given this is Q'fex. "I would like you to try to put the past behind you, Br'er, and give her a fair shot. I'm trying…" Beat, "Trying to give them reason to blend with our culture, but that's going to be made difficult if they feel… mistreated."

"We'd better hope they run screaming," Br'er says, grinning without humor. "I doubt it, though. What does Igen have to offer, honestly? And yet they've craved that, and still crave it." Or the two of them wouldn't be here, having soup, and this conversation. The Thread problem is taken in turn, musingly. "Do you suppose we can herd those wild holders together?" he suggests, tone dubious. "Northern holders aren't nearly so… spread out." He's quiet, soup-eating, as Q'fex sketches out the lay of the goldrider-diplomacy land. And quiet for a few moments more, after the request. He sets his spoon down, carefully, with barely a clink. "I suppose I owe it to y " hesitation " no, I owe it to the Weyr. To try to mend fences, I mean." A soft sigh follows, then a hint of an uptwitch at the corner of Br'er's mouth. "I have better people to hate, anyway."

"Not to mention our continent is three times the size of theirs, and they have a little more dragons to cover it," Q'fex replies, humorously, to the issue of Southern holders. At least they have grubs. Or… are rumored to have grubs. "But. I think you are right. I think they will try." He fiddles with his soup, again. "Fuckers." Ahem. He too falls silent, the better to fiddle with tubers and cheese. "Thank you," he states, quietly, in an entirely different tone than before, and then, more normal: "I suppose you do." Have better people to hate. Then the awkward pause - or at least, on Q'fex's side. "Br'er…" And then he stops, because that's what he does BEST.

"Well," replies Br'er, with morbid cheer, "either we'll prove up to the task, or we'll all die horribly. Hard to tell which, 'til it's here. All we can do is try our best not to die, or let them die." A true dragonrider's motto. His soup is pushed, near silent, to the side. The greenrider's eyebrows lift a centimeter at the use of his name, but he only has a nod to go with it: a muted 'do go on', with a steady gaze and a faint smile to accompany it.

Q'fex has a little shrug of agreement: yeah, you can only do what you do, right? He settles his soup aside, half-eaten, and considers the greenrider thoughtfully. "Br'er, I feel so entirely out of my depth that even Kraaken stopped laughing at me. And I just want you to know," a hesitation here, "That I appreciate it. I appreciate you, that… it is so very," he hunts for a word, pulls a face when he can't find anything better than, "nice to have someone to speak with openly." Thank for bein' a friend, yo.

"Thank you," is the measured, thoughtful response. The greenrider's expression doesn't change, save for the slight downward shift of brows back to their normal height. "I feel… very similar. It's nice to… trust someone." Br'er is quiet, after this. Not a pointed silence, or even a searching one. Just a pleasant, thoughtful stillness. Then, without comment, he reaches across the table, his neat workmans' hand seeking out Q'fex's own, to cover it, as one does. (So GIRLY. Thank goodness they're at the corner table.)

So GIRLY. It's like these two are discovering that they are indeed interested in being lesbians, at the sweet young age of fifteen, how they act. Q'fex shifts his hand to be palm-up, but otherwise doesn't move it; he may eyeball Br'er's hand a time or two, but he's likely just keeping any dumbass salacious remarks to himself… for once. He's not quite EMBARASSED, well, maybe a little, when the waiter comes to deliver MORE food (shit does this place ever stop?). This looks like some sort of tenderloin, medium-rare and stuffed with something that looks delicious and creamy. "I'm going to be four-hundred pounds after I'm through here," Q'fex THEN states, and reaches unthinking for his wine with free hand. Don't judge. It's OBVIOUS he isn't thinking when he rambles on to the next topic in his brain: "I need to find a weyrlingmaster before this clutch hatches."

Possibly they're both just bad at this. Maybe Br'er is taking relationship advice from Inlayraith. (Actually — that would explain a lot. IS he taking relationship advice from Inlayraith? He'll never tell.) (Yes.) The greenrider lets his hand linger while the waiter is present, and it might just be to weird the poor peon out a little, but does — eventually — retract it, because there's meat on the table, and it smells fantastic, and he's still ten pounds lighter from his jail stint. "We probably have desert coming, too," Br'er says, cheerfully. "You'll just have to work the extra pounds off, huh." Not that he has any suggestions for how to do that, or anything, says the totally innocuous expression on his face. "Um. Yes, probably. I trust I don't have to tell you not to take generous donations from High Reaches. V'odk may be pretty, but what Igen was thinking, I can't begin to guess…"

The only thing worse than relationship advice from Inlayraith is relationship advice from Kraakenaeth. No, seriously: « Just club him over th' head and take him back to yer weyr. Is that so terribly hard to do, ye craven pig? » Yeah, Q'fex is flying solo on this. Q'fex reclaims his hand, now colder for not being touched, and starts in on his plate, because hello. He groans at the thought of dessert, already. "You can have mine." Those ten pounds, right? The way he looks up, deliberately allowing dark eyes and 'lashes and eyebrows to work together in amused masculinity, has more heat than the tenderloin. "Guess I'll be running twice as much tomorrow," offhand. RIGHT, Q'fex. Right. "Fuck no," about V'odk. "I'm sure we have someone suitable. Just have to find them."

At least Br'er has resisted Inlayraith's suggestions of floral gifts. And her more draconic notions of delicious brainmeats, offered raw. She's not used to being asked for advice, but she's trying VERY hard, okay :( "I'll take it to go," the greenrider says, lazily slicing into his tenderloin. "Don't want to hold us up too long." There's a smile to go with it, a subtle and suggestive thing, the corners of his eyes crinkling. "And — running. Right. I was thinking wrestling, personally, but whatever floats your boat." A bite of delicious meats, and just like that, he's back to BUSINESS. "I don't know Southern's riders like I knew Igen's, but what about —" His player is too lazy to come up with names. Take a rattled off list of suggestions as READ.

Flowers and brains. She'd have Kraakenaeth in love in MILLISECONDS. But hey, maybe it's helping out the Br'er-and-Inlayraith relationship, right? "Br'er," Q'fex warns at that suggestion of wrestling, dark gleam in dark eyes: don't TEASE the beast. :( More thought for the list of names, and Q'fex nods along. "I hadn't thought of," so-and-so, Br'er-player isn't the only one too lazy, "… but he may just work." And now, WAITER, WAITER? Check please. The gesture is the same EVERYWHERE.

"Mm. Let's just… have dessert elsewhere," Br'er murmurs, with a pointed little smile. As Q'fex signals for the waiter, he stretches his legs, idly, beneath the table. It doesn't count as playing footsie if the leg brush doesn't last more than a half second, does it? All innocent business, his mouth continues along the manly lines of administrative suggestion. "I guess it depends on what we're aiming for. Maybe it's best to strike a balance between the Oldtimers' ways and our own. We should look at what their records say, about Weyrlinghood during Passes." He's speaking, yes. Coherent, helpful sentences, even. He's not really concentrating, though: his eyes seem to be focused on Q'fex's jawline, ruminating… deep thoughts.

Yeah, Br'er's lips are moving but Q'fex isn't HEARING any words. Maybe ::between:: will shock him back into relative intelligence, but the hindbrain is KICKIN' right now. Fex makes a good show of it, though. Yes, dessert to go, yes, box up the rest of what they have, no, he'll pay now, don't charge the weyr. His marks tick out for an entirely overpriced meal that he would have probably paid twice-over, and then he is standing, with whatever goes for TAKE OUT on Pern. Since they don't have foam containers… good question. "Shall we?" His voice may be a little huskier than usual.

Burlap sacks with cheap clay containers? But, like. Fancy ones, this is a CLASSY institution, after all. Precisely as classy as Br'er is not, with the way he's making a point of discreetly brushing up against Q'fex upon rising, face a picture of not-innocent innocence. Terrible. Just terrible. We've moved on from the fifteen-turn-old girl phase into the sixteen-turn-old boy part, apparently. The waiter's picked up on the vibe, by now: he departs with due speed, looking embarrassed. That's one more blush than Br'er has: because Br'er has no shame, and only grins, stepping towards the door and gesturing for Q'fex to follow him. "Yes. Let's."

Embarassing holdbred waiters since… well, at least for a couple of decades, Q'fex doesn't even seem to have noticed that the poor man was discomfited. He has the to-go, and doesn't bother shifting out of the way when Br'er ranges into — proximity — instead smirking down at the greenrider with the self-assurance of a man that doesn't crawl into his bed and cry all night. Maybe Fex has multiple personalities. THIS personality, at least, has no problem following after Br'er, his expression one of pleased appraisal and low-burning heat. "After you," rasp-over-velvet.

"You know," murmurs Br'er, as he leads — speaking of which, he's gone traditional tonight, those aren't loose Oldtimer trousers but snug Nowtimer breeches — towards the exits, threading around tables. "The Harper archives aren't far from here. Nice… quiet… shouldn't have anyone in them at this hour… plenty of nice, sturdy tables — oh, excuse me, my lord —" Yes. That's Lord Keroon, RIGHT THERE at that table, perfectly within earshot for that comment. Br'er smiles, beatifically. He doesn't PAUSE, though, pushing on for the doors and the cool of the evening air. (Later, much later, he'll regret that. Because that's not just Lord Keroon at that table, that's Benden's Weyrsecond too. Curious.)

Just so happens that Q'fex does know Lord Keroon, as he originally hailed from that esteemed hold and his father works directly for the man. It probably explains a lot that the Lord just looks slightly resigned rather than scandalized; but they are dragonmen, and revered even though they are so very vile in the private workings of their lives. Once the two are out of shot, DOUBTLESS that conversation will start circulating. The weyrleader has a particular smirk at Br'er's suggestion, though, once they are clear of that Gordian knot of commingled leadership. "I was thinking the Healer gardens," reflective, with a hint of a before-unknown growl, "But if you've a preference for scrolls instead of flowers." Something causes his smile to hitch up half a step, as they step out the lacquered doors of the Gliss.

It's true: dragonmen are whores, and greenriders most of all. And at least they didn't start making out in the cafe. Speaking of which, though. The moment the door shuts behind him, Br'er's reaching up to grab Q'fex's collar, dragging his head down for a fast, fervent kiss, more to the side of the mouth than directly targeted. Possibly it's on purpose. Possibly his aim is sloppy. "We," he rasps, mouth a half inch away, "probably should have done this earlier. Elsewhere. Gardens are fine. Whichever's closer."

They are well-coordinated, then, because as soon as the soft boom of the doors closing clears audible range, Q'fex is grasping roughly at Br'er's nearest hip to twist him around, his mouth bearing down. He tolerates that fast kiss and smiles against the heated words, pulling Br'er closer to taste his mouth in a slow, unhurried unraveling of teeth and tongue. There's something of an exclamation at the end of the unmarked hall that Gliss is at the end of, and Q'fex pulls away with the harsh movements of a man interrupted; then, one hand still curled at Br'er's hip, he's bringing the greenrider with him in a stalk towards the exit. The furclad niece of Ruatha has a titter behind a hand as they pass, but it doesn't really matter, does it? "Much sooner," comes the very-much-belated agreement with Br'er's earlier statement.

A fumbling movement drops the dessert bag on an elaborate ironwork bench behind them, to be abandoned there, forgotten. Some drudge is going to have a nice night! Possibly not as nice of a night as Br'er is, though, leaning into the kiss with pliable enthusiasm. One arm snakes around Q'fex's shoulders in a caress of muscle and sinew, the other finding its way to the hand on his hip, threading fingers to hold it in place. By the time the kiss finds its too-soon demise, he's flushed, breath a soft rasp. That furclad niece is going to have the BEST story to tell her friends at tomorrow's sewing circle. Br'er, distracted, waves at her as he's hurried forward, as one does. "Gardens," he decides, firmly. "Definitely gardens." Hopefully no one is giving an astronomy lesson out there. (Someone's probably giving an astronomy lesson out there.)

Even drudges need — bonuses. Flushed, the bronzerider gives Ruatha's niece only a smile, a wolfish thing of teeth and secondhand desire. Oh yes, will she ever have a story. Q'fex leans into Br'er through the mazelike corridors of Harper, terminating in an exit that heads out to a maze of gardens. It takes him about POINT ZERO SEVEN seconds to locate an out-of-the-way-niche, and then that hand is pushing Br'er against a hedge, bending his head down to the greenrider's neck, his other hand impatiently seeking for the hem of his shirt. "Fuck." Because Q'fex is CLASSY.

The situation is just too much for Br'er. His raspy breath becomes interspaced with dazed laughter by the time he's fully grasped what it is he's been shoved against, right around the point his own hands start seeking out Q'fex's belt. "We started so good," the greenrider manages to gasp out, grammar forgotten in his enthusiasm, the sound making his all-too-eagerly tilted throat vibrate. "A fancy dinner, adult conversation — and now I'm about to let you fuck me against topiary."

And THERE is the trick of Br'er's shirt, Q'fex's fingers greedily seeking for skin, callouses rough as he rucks at the shirt, his immediate goal quite obvious: OFF, this needs to be OFF. They're just as busted if they get caught fucking with their clothes on than if they're naked, right? Rough palms against skin and his lips rising to fit against Br'er's again. On the jagged exhale of a breath taken thereafter, Q'fex — the asshole — takes a half-step back, lifting his hand from where it was squirreling under Br'er's belt; "I could stop, and we could go home," comes the half-taunt, the sadist.

"And I could shove you off your ledge." Br'er, in his dazed state, takes the threat seriously, for all his complaints: there goes the shirt, tugged free in a smooth and sinuous motion, the moment he's put enough space between himself and the plantlife to get it off without snaring it. "Wanted to climb onto your damn chair back there, you asshole —" And there go Br'er's hands, one grabbing Q'fex's shirt with enough force that it's go with the flow, let the greenrider pull him back in, back for a harshly demanding kiss, or let the fabric rip. Or both, possibly, if he doesn't react fast enough. The other keeps worming at the bronzerider's belt, clumsy with the unfamiliarity of the leather. That might get damaged, too. Notice Br'er deposits his own discarded clothing on the ground, where it can be safe.

Yeah, that's a button popping off into god-only-knows-where. "Not my fault," is Q'fex's return, halfway between a gasp and a growl. He gives up on Br'er's clothes only long enough to remove his own shirt lest Br'er further ABUSE it, dropping the thing down to the ground. He shifts his hips briefly when the greenrider does succeed with his belt, and curses loudly with his fumble-fingered yanking at Br'er's own. Hands preoccupied with that business, he's nuzzling his mouth just under Br'er's jaw, teeth nipping at the race of pulse just there. Then SUCCESS with the pants and he's jerking his thumbs down over Br'er's hipbones, his smirk felt into the other's skin. "Besides," belated, because he was BUSY okay?, "Do we REALLY want to talk about who is the bigger ass, here." It's insane that he's cognizant enough to say that, because with a brief examination of the topiary - no, THAT's not sturdy enough - he makes to all-but-tackle the greenrider to the ground.

So, let's review. They're half naked, in the dirt, in a garden. It's not even their garden. There's probably a traumatized apprentice listening on the other side of the hedge. Truly, exquisitely, they are class acts.

Even class acts deserve privacy. Oh wait, maybe they don't, because they chose to go at it like RABBITS in a GARDEN.

This is obviously all Inlayraith's fault.


Soon enough there's only the heavy breathing of two very satisfied men, and through the topiary a glow becomes visible as a window a dragonlength away lights up. Br'er says, oh-so-cheerfully: "We'd better run before Healer kicks us out."

It may take Q'fex JUST a minute to comprehend what Br'er just said. "Fuck," but somehow without all the feeling, as if he's completely depleted of energy. Then again. He MAY be. There's a sound of RUSTLING not too far away, though, and with an ignominous easing away and inglorious scramble for clothes, Q'fex is — cussing at his buttons and putting his feet in the wrong legs of his pants. And laughing; it starts as a slow chuckle and builds into a half-wheezing thing that only aids in his staggery.

"Mmm." Q'fex was right: undignified scrambling in the dirt totally did do it for Br'er, and despite his words of warning he's languid as hell in getting up, even when the rustling happens. He finally manages it, finally manages to put his pants on (there's a bit of hissing, doing that: snug breeches seemed like such a good idea when he was getting dressed for this, but NOW…). Someone, some feet away and hidden behind branches, puts forth an uncertain, uncomfortable "Hello?", the light of their glowbasket weaving through the topiary. Which is the point at which Br'er, previously holding it together, joins Q'fex in the hysterics, a low and raspy chortle, even as he snags the bronzerider by the arm and starts DRAGGING him hastily towards the exit. FLEE.

AND SO they flee the scene of the crime, giggling like maniacs, acting like the mental teenagers they SO are. Kraakenaeth can be seen swooping overhead, dark-murk and marsh blending with the evening skies, as they duck under the garden entrance and towards the Hold proper — and a courtyard where dragons will fit without destroying things. "Fuck," Q'fex, still half-laughing, grabs Br'er and swings him from one direction to the other: a bridge leads over a cute little brook towards the courtyard. His dark eyes are bright yet from the laughter and the natural high of … the whole evening, really. Even though his shirt is inside-out (and yet somehow still half-buttoned, akimbo) and somewhere along the way he's lost his belt. "I think," a little roughened, his vocie: "I think we made it." Before getting KICKED OUT.

There's a brighter hue, in Kraakenhaeth's wake: Inlayraith, her relationship advice borne out in VICTORY (… well, she probably didn't suggest public garden sex, but the point remains) darts below and lands in the courtyard with a bounce and a hop, prepared to play getaway vehicle. Her rider, meanwhile, lets himself be lead, hastily shrugging his shirt over his dirty back and bitemarked shoulders, a hand carding at hopelessly mussed hair. Br'er pauses the two of them for breath at the bridge, still fighting the urge to snicker as he replies, "We'll be - heh - marked men with how dirty we are." Then he follows an impulse, grabbing Q'fex's jaw, angling them for another kiss. Not the fervid things of before: a simple, affectionate press of skin and breath. The sort of thing people USUALLY start doing BEFORE they move on to things like public indecency, but who's counting.

YAY INLAYRAITH! Her advice worked. Or something. "Shit," in the middle of a half-laugh, muffled; "We forgot dessert." The RANDOM things you think of, after a wild chase through Healer to GTFO. Q'fex leans into the kiss, free hand curling around Br'er's hip in now-familiarity; he craves that contact as much as Br'er does, likely. A bunch of lonely souls running around — though at least they aren't lonely in THIS instance. "Then maybe," and he even risks an entirely too-affectionate thing, leaning his forehead against Br'er's, "We should get out of here." His smile is unusually bright.

"Huh." Br'er, who was in charge of dessert carrying in the first place, has to think about this. Look. He was very distracted at the time. He's still kind of distracted, with the press of Q'fex's forehead against his own. "Well," he says, finally, not moving away from the comforting warmth, "hopefully it wasn't those fancy pastries thingies they do, the sandwich ones with the filling?" He's talking about a profiterole. Br'er's a big fan of cream-filled desserts, DON'T LET YOUR MIND LINGER ON THIS DETAIL. "It would be a shame to leave those, but —" There is no way in hell he's going back, even for profiteroles. His smile is equally bright as he steps away, gesturing for Q'fex to follow to their oh-so-patient flying steeds. As he goes, he inquires: "You have a bath in your weyr, don't you? Because I'm using it when we get back, if so."

"Of course I have a bath," comes after Q'fex has followed after Br'er, his mind ENTIRELY ruminating on the fact that Br'er goes immediately to the cream-filled pastry desserts. "Perhaps," he scruffs at his chin, thoughtfully, "The cooks would have something sweet." It won't be Glissandi-level, to be sure, but… dessert. Q'fex has a sweet tooth, apparently. Fingers touch Br'er's elbow, a casual thing, before he's at recently-landed Kraakenaeth and moving upwards to mount up.

Maybe cream-filled pastries remind him of his childhood. Some Pernese Twinkie equivalent, durable enough to survive the Cromese wastelands. Or maybe, and certainly the earlier incident with the spiderclaw legs lends some weight to this, Br'er just has a filthy mind when it comes to edibles. Whichever it is, he grins at the mention of the cooks, idly pressing into the fingers on his elbow before parting to make the (much quicker) climb to Inlayraith's neck, calling, as he does: "We could order in, I suppose. See what they give us. I'm sleeping at your weyr, by the by." Back in their own territory, with their reign of Fortian terror finally over.

There is only a throaty laugh at that: a content one perhaps. "Back at the weyr," Q'fex calls, before Kraakenaeth alights and disappears into the depths of ::between::.

The Devil's Crossroads
An expansive area, this groundweyr, made for the royalty of Pern and no mistake: a couch with vaulted ceilings leads into a bottleneck used as a sitting area, which opens beyond into three disparate chambers: one for sleeping, with a ridiculous bed matched only by a ridiculous clothespress, filled to the brim with all sorts of Nowtimer attire; a living chamber, with hearthfire replete with a fitted spit to roast meat, a battered table of anqiqued skybroom and chairs that don't quite match; and a small bathing-chamber, utilitarian but often littered with spilled soapsand and crumpled clothes. The sitting room itself is the only room to truly sport decoration: an intricate rug, two comfortable chairs, a varnished coffee-table with a surface of a map of Southern continent - circa 11th Pass - lacquered atop. There's even a book: the curious will find it a compilation of runner breeds, from the 10th Pass, with notes in the margins on how things have changed since then.
Obvious exits:
Ocean's Eleven

Let Fort Hold breathe a sigh of relief: let Southern tremble! Not that anyone, EVER, has trembled at the sight of little Inlayraith, all rounded corners and big eyes. She's landed carefully on Q'fex's ledge, leaving a polite amount of space between herself and the Kraaken. It's a few minutes before her rider ventures further, only after her upkeep (straps removed, an itch dutifully scratched and oiled, a little murmuring that is probably humiliatingly soppy) is complete. Br'er takes no time in making himself perfectly at home, discarding clothing in a few efficient movements and padding for the bath. There's a twig in his hair. It's distressing. "See," he says, grinning with a flash of TEETH, right before vanishing into the bathing chamber, "now I resent not being a bronzerider. A bath. Asshole."

Oh, little Inlayraith. Kraaken will DEFINITELY keep her company. Q'fex does indeed unstrap his own lifemate, hooking the leather loops over waiting iron hooks and installing Inlayraith's straps after taking them (forcibly) from Br'er over the top of Kraaken's. In that he ends up entering the weyr after Br'er, smirking at the bare ass moving into his bathing quarters. "You have something in your hair," he comments, shucking out of his own clothes as he beelines for the bath proper: "And it's not like all bronzeriders have such things. This being the," and is there faint embarassment for the first time? "Weyrleader's weyr." It is DOUBTLESS that they will get clean, and dirty again, and maybe clean a second time… and, well, Q'fex's bed is more than big enough for two men who like spooning. Wonder of ALL wonders, no crying will be involved, either, or balled-up fetal curling of manpain; just snoring. A lot of snoring… and a walk of shame(lessness) for Br'er in the morning.

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