Ione, Z'ok


Z'ok decides to just go for it.


It is afternoon of the twenty-second day of the fourth month of the seventh turn of the 12th pass.


Stores, Southern Weyr

OOC Date 06 Mar 2016 08:00


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"Are you… trying to ask me on a date?"



A vast and sprawling cavern, the main storage area of the weyr is well-tended by the loving and stern hands of those who oversee the bounty stored within. Depending on the time of day, it is a place of illuminated neatness, stacks of dry goods and foodstuffs labeled clearly… or it is a place of werelight and stygian darkness that taunts those who would dare challenge the depths thereof.

The stores area is not a place one would expect to find Z'ok. Not generally, anyway. But the rains delayed the tithe trains just enough and the brownrider is just low enough on the Infirmary ladder that the task of checking in the latest medical supplies has fallen to him. Checklist pinned to a board in hand, the teenager is currently counting rolls of linen gauze, ticking them off by size as he extracts them from the sacks and separates them. He scrambles like a clumsy spider over the pile of sacks and crates, shoving an arm into each to ensure he's not missing any. Once he's satisfied he's found all the rolls, he sits on a barrel to record the numbers, tapping his pencil against his lips as he counts each pile separately, and records the number on his board. The glmaorous life of the dragonhealer apprentice.

The passage down to the catacombs isn't the busiest of routes, and so Ione has met no resistance as she makes her way back up to the stores. Her guard is only a few steps behind, but he lingers, chatting with a fellow guard who just got off shift. They pause just before the tunneled entrance to the weyr proper while Ione forges ahead. Clearly, this isn't a guard who has been on duty with the youngest weyrwoman before, as he seems to believe that she'll either wait, or that she won't get far enough for him to lose track of her in the short time they'll be separated. As soon as she sees that her guard isn't right there, Ione takes the opportunity to plunge into the aisles of the stores, weaving her way past shelves until she reaches a point that she deems "safe". Coincidentally, that point happens to be just an aisle away from Z'ok. Hearing noise, she peers around a corner carefully, clearing her throat when she's met with the brownrider rather than a guard. "What are you doing?"

The sound of footsteps — even soft, escaping footsteps — isn't lost on Z'ok, and he pauses to listen for a moment before he makes another notation, drumming a heel against the barrel lightly. When Ione appears and announces herself, he doesn't flinch; his emerald gaze flicks once her direction before returning to his task. "I'm checking in the infirmary supplies," he says, indicating the piles of gauze. There's another flick of his gaze, this time behind the weyrwoman, and then to meet her eyes for a long, careful study. "Where's your shadow?"

Ione slips fully around the corner and into Z'ok's aisle. She inspects the nearby shelves, with mild interest and an eye for mentally cataloging any supplies which might be needed. Her gaze lands upon a stack of blankets, and she uncerimoniously yanks one out and sets the folded cloth upon the ground. Impromptu seat! "I see," she says as she settles herself upon her blanket-pillow, neatly folding her legs beside her body. "He's around." There's a vague wave of her hand to indicate that her guard is sort of in the vicinity. "I'm sure he'll figure out where I am eventually."

"Not much of a guard, if he loses his charge so easily," Z'ok notes, watching as Ione settles herself. There's a small crinkle that flitters around the corners of his eyes, and he shifts his weight on the barrel to something a bit more cordial. "How is it?" he asks, his tone not clear if he means having a guard or something more personal. "Anything solid turning up?" Which is a bit clearer, admittedly.

"He's talking to his friend who just got off his shift." Slim shoulders lift in a shrug. "I don't think any of them are getting much sleep, with all the patrols they have to go." So really, she's just being kind and giving her poor guard a break. Never mind the panic attack he'll have when he realizes he lost his goldrider charge. Z'ok's initial question pulls a confused furrow from Ione's brow, but it smoothes over when he offers clarification. "Other than the men who were caught the other day?" She sooooo doesn't sound bitter about the people who ruined her latest party. "Nothing new that I've heard."

Z'ok makes a noise in his throat. "R'ik didn't do it," he says, sliding off the barrel and setting his board down in his place. "You'd have to work pretty hard to convince me of it." He moves to a crate, pulling the top off and peering inside. He begins pulling out earthen jars, checking the labels on each. "How are you doing with all of this? You were friends or something with that guy, right?"

Ione blinks, momentarily staring at Z'ok in disbelief tinged with anger. "Yes, because all of us who are R'ik's friends, and especially Hannah, all of us totally think did it," she snipes at him, her voice hard. "But thank you for telling us he didn't, because up until this point we were all so sure he'd killed Sven." Her jaw is set, and pale eyes are narrowed in the brownrider's direction. "I'm fine." Still snappish. "And you could say that."

Z'ok is startled by Ione's flash of anger, and there's a similar flash in his own eyes. "Well, I'm sorry that I'm busy in the Infirmary learning how to keep us all the fuck /alive/ and don't have time to keep abreast of every last little detail of the case," he says, clipping the words in his attempt to keep his tone civil. Which he totally fails at. He checks jars in a huffy silence for a moment, clinking jars a bit loudly. Then he exhales harshly, slapping a hand to his eyes before he shakes his shoulders roughly as he re-settles himself. When he speaks again, it's soft and humbled a bit. "I'm sorry about your friend."

"It has nothing to do with the details of the case! It's just fucking ridiculous that you'd even say something like that, like any fucking person who actually knows him has to be convinced!" Ione, it seems, is fiercely protective. At least her guard should have an easier time finding them, what with the raised voices. His words of sympathy are met with a muttered, "Thanks," but she doesn't bother looking at him. Instead, she glares balefully at the shelves across the way.

"I was just making conversation!" Z'ok says, making an exasperated sound. "I'm sorry I don't have better to offer you. I haven't seen you up close in ages, and even longer since we've spoken more than a passing hello. So I'm out of practice." Something about that sounds bitter in the brownrider's mouth, but he refuses to look at Ione and give anything away. Not that she's looking at him. He doesn't pursue it further, choosing instead to sort his jars disconsolately for a couple of long-seeming minutes. Then, just before they draw into awkward: "Did you see the pauldron things that T'ral gave Lynx? We wear 'em in Fall, but you might not see them from your angle."

"Well it's terrible conversation! Hi I haven't spoken to you in ages, but I totally think your friend is innocent and you'll have to convince me that he isn't? Who says that?" It's possible that it's not just the conversation that has Ione so on-edge, but in her fired-up state it can be hard to tell. That sound of that bitterness is met with a confused scowl, and she's more than willing to lapse into silence. Her gaze even goes a little distant, conferring with a certain gold. At least her ire seems to have dissipated slightly by the time he speaks again. "Pauldron things?" From the confusion in her voice, it's clear she hasn't. "What are they for?"

"I think they're just decoration, mostly," Z'ok says with a shrug. He seems willing to let the previous missteps fade in light of this easier conversation, although he does keep giving the goldrider wary looks when she doesn't seem to be looking. "They fit on your shoulder and cover part of the arm, and T'ral says they'll be an extra defense against Thread." Another shrug. Apparently, Z'ok isn't totally sold on them. "They look sharp enough, but they mess up fine clothing like no one's business. My gold hates it; she's got no good place to land when I've got it on." Yet another shrug. "They are handsome, though."

"Interesting," Ione states, although the word is offered with some uncertainty. There's a tension in her frame which suggests she's still upset, although that sentiment seems not to be directed at him. "Doesn't that limit your mobility and actually make you more susceptible to scoring?" she points out, hesitantly. The picture Z'ok paints is clear enough, but she still hasn't seen the things in action. Perhaps they're more practical than she assumes. "How would they mess up fine clothing? Do they leave some sort of residue, or just wrinkles?" She finally looks toward him, adding, "I'll have to try to catch one of you with them on, sometime."

"They move all right," Z'ok says, rolling his arm in demonstration. "The arm cover is segmented, like a crawler's belly." He moves his arm back and forth, as if he were wearing the garment. "They've got a lot of buckles," he says in answer to the question. "It's all right over leathers, but it can make some stuff look more wrinkled and less…" he wrinkles his nose as he searches for the word. "Sleek?" He shrugs. "But they don't stain or anything." He grins a bit when Ione finally looks at him, and poses a bit for her. "Just look my way next Threadfall," he says. "My red leathers make it look snappy as anything."

"That seems like a lot of effort to protect a small part of you from thread," Ione points out, although there's no real push behind the argument. "Wouldn't that kind of effort be better spent on your head?" Without even thinking, one hands comes up to her head, sliding beneath strands of hair to where her silvery scar still lies, hidden beneath her part. Head protection is important. There's a nod of understanding from the goldrider — she always gets fashion — and then a bewildered expression as Z'ok strikes a pose. "After, maybe. But it's usually kind of hard to remember." Y'know, with injuries and deaths and all hanging over their heads.

Z'ok wrinkles his nose. "I think it's more a wing pride thing?" he says, raising one shoulder. "Like other wings have matching jackets and things. We have pauldrons." He spreads his hands in a 'go figure' gesture, and begins returning jars to the crate. "Helmets would have been good, too." Ione's demurral of looking at him before Fall gets a nod. "Yeah. You'll have to look quick, though. I strip it off pretty quick so I can tend to my duties." He pokes his tongue into his lip, considering his next words. Which seem heavy, given the slow, careful way he offers them. "Of course, I'm happy to arrange a non-life-threatening showing for you. Maybe with dinner and some wine."

Ah, wing pride. Puma doesn't really worry about wing pride — maybe they already know they're fabulous? "I guess it's nice to have something special for your wing," she allows after a moment, offering him a small smile. "Matching jackets seem like a lot less effort, though." They generally have fewer buckles. For just a moment, there's a pained expression which crosses her features, but it's dismissed swiftly. Her gaze is slightly unfocused, suggesting it has nothing to do with Z'ok, at least. "Fair enough," she tells him when she returns to the conversation. His next suggestion catches her off-guard, and Ione stares at him for a moment with a furrow in her brow. "Are you… trying to ask me on a date?"

Z'bor laughs. "Jackets would have been easier," he agrees, putting the last jar back in the crate and setting the top back on it. Then he straightens, and moves to his barrel to make a few notations. When Ione attempts to clarify his motives, he freezes slightly, then turns to face her. "Yes. I am."

Pale eyes go wide, and Ione begins to fidget uncomfortably. Delicate hands twist in her lap, as she suddenly finds the pattern of her skirt to be very interesting. And the dust on the floor, that's interesting as well. "I'm sorry, I'm just…" Awkward? She clears her throat, and lifts her head to offer him a thin smile. "I don't think so, Z'ok. Things are complicated, and the last person I was seeing ended up stabbed, so I'm not really feeling that whole… dating thing."

The edges of Z'ok's expression go a bit brittle, and his smile seems a bit fixed when Ione responds. It takes a moment before he snorts, and waves a hand. "Oh, sure. Yeah, I get it." He makes a face, and gestures to himself with the pencil. "It probably was kind of rude to even ask, what with it being so soon and all." He offers a tighter smile, and busies himself with making more notes. So many notes. If it didn't feel awkward before, there's certainly an air of it, now. So many notes.

"I'm sorry, th-" Whatever she intends to say cuts off abruptly as a look of absolute horror paints itself across her delicate features. Her gaze is distant, and for a moment she sits frozen, forgetting to breathe. Then abruptly that tension releases, and a mask of composure attempts to settle upon her face, hiding whatever was just there. She clears her throat, continuing as though there had been no interruption. "There's a lot going on right now. Even if Sven hadn't been killed, just gone back to Harper Hall, the answer would still be no." Just in case Z'ok didn't feel bad already! But at least her tone is kind, even if the words might hurt.

Z'ok only catches the tail end of that moment of tension, his brow knitting briefly at the sudden shift in expression. When she explains, a stiffness creeps into his spine, and his expression takes on that brittle quality again, only this time it's coupled to a more neutral expression. "You don't have to explain yourself to me," he says, and there's an oddly detached quality to his voice as he begins to shove gauze back into sacks — admittedly, a bit faster than it probably requires. "You can't help who you like and who you don't, right? No need to make it awkward with a bunch of guilty feelings and excuses." He stuffs a couple more rolls into a sack before he inhales deeply, and straightens. "I think I'm forgetting something," he announces. "With your permission, Weyrwoman, I think I'd better go and see about that." His expression is still neutral, but his feet move him slowly towards the exit, even as his expression fades into draconic conversation. Conversation that adds a nice shade of red to the porcelain mask.

Guilt is written into the furrow of her brow, and the way her gaze seems to fix anywhere other than on his eyes. There are words on the tip of her tongue, but she seems to deem them more damaging than comforting, as her lips part and then close again without speaking. "Sorry," is muttered again instead. There's a sad, tired sort of smile as she agrees, "No, you can't." She shifts awkwardly on her makeshift seat, watching Z'ok carefully. There's a clear impulse to try to fix it some how, but at the same time she has no remedy, so she's forced to sit there awkwardly. "Yes, of course. Have a good night, Z'ok." The words sound hollow to her ears. She'll sit in that place a few minutes longer — to be sure that he's truly gone — before getting up and setting the blanket back on the shelf. She leaves with her guard in tow, likely on a quest to upset another man.

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