Who

Malosim, Xanthee

What

Malosim steals Xanthee away on a surprise date away from the Weyr.

Extreme sappiness; brief explicit sex (collapsible section)

When

It is afternoon on the 13th day of the 12th month of the 12th Pass.

Where

Resident Terraces, Igen Weyr; Igen River Hold

OOC Date 14 Jan 2018 07:00

 

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"…How would you feel about trading in your running clothes for runner-riding clothes and getting away for an evening?”


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Resident Terraces

Scoured by sand, storm, and sun, the bleached-gold face of the caldera wall is punctured here by gaping rock maws: within reside a multitude of little abode-brick buildings, colorful hides stretched across windows and doorways to protect against more unfortunate weather. No traditional dormitory, this: Igen's weyrfolk live in family groups or packs of singletons in these cozy brick abodes, dwellings doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Here and there, steep stone staircases wend their way between spacious stone ledges, their outer edges protected by the ingenious use of stone blocks to prevent being pitched over the side in high winds. Below, the Central Bazaar is spread, replete with the sounds of everyday life in the Weyr: the bawl of beasts, the shouts of bargains being made, and the happy laughter of the occasional child all raised in a cacophony life.


In many ways, Malosim is an opportunist; it’s how he got his posting to Igen Weyr, after all. But ever since he and Xanthee became a couple, that facet of him has been getting fully taken advantage of. He’s always looking for the next opportunity to spend time with her, publicly or privately, though always without distracting her from her work or any other time she wishes to herself. He’s discreet…which is why he can’t help looking a bit pleased with himself as he strides easily through the resident terraces toward his girlfriend’s abode on one of her restdays - or so he remembers it to be. He hopes he’s remembering correctly; he’d rather not make a fool of himself after all his careful planning.

Although he’s about to be where she is, he doesn’t want to knock and disturb anyone else who might be within. He sends his brown Kaleka with a little note to do the job instead, a little slip of hide tied to his leg that simply reads: Look outside. - Mal And assuming Xanthee does just that, she’ll spot him leaning almost indolently against the stuccoed wall with his hip and shoulder, clothing simple but clean and warm sheathing his frame and a satchel slung over one shoulder.

He’s lucky she’s in, Xanthee was just getting herself outfitted for a run, form fitting leggings over which she wears a pair of shorts, and a long sleeved, light knit shirt, with a stretched out neckline so that it hangs off one shoulder. She is just about to pull her thick raven hair up into a high runnertail when a familiar brown comes in looking for her. As she calls the brown to her arm, she spies the note and unravels it, a smile spreading on her lips as she reads it and then looks over at the window with a raised eyebrow. What is that Miner mine up to? She thinks to herself, her eyes dancing as she ponders what to do, she usually likes to look her best for him, but right now she is decidedly frumpy. But then, who knows what he wants? Might as well find out. She moves to the door and peeks out, spying him leaning against the stucco wall and gives him a radiant smile, “What a nice surprise! I didn’t think I was seeing you today.” she says as she leans in the doorway, resplendent (not!) in her workout gear and no makeup to speak of.

Xanthee could be wearing a Lady Holder’s Gather gown or a burlap sack and it wouldn’t matter to Mal! His grin when he sees her says as much, and he pushes off the wall, coming close to settle a hand upon her waist and greet her with a kiss. “I managed to finagle a short morning shift and nothing else,” he explains, and takes his eyes over her from head to toe, clearly appreciative despite her running gear. “I can always come back later if you’re dead set on getting a run in,” he adds in all sincerity, “buuuut…how would you feel about trading in your running clothes for runner-riding clothes and getting away for an evening?”

Leaning into the kiss, Xanthee sighs happily as she return the kiss with fervor. When he makes his explanation, her eyes light up and she looks to ponder it for a moment before she nods emphatically. “Mal, you never cease to surprise me. I would love to. Just give me a minute to change. Should I bring anything with me?” She asks curiously before turning to head back in.

Malosim may have been holding his breath a little, but it comes out normally enough when Xanthee gives her answer. He can’t help beaming, of course, and steals another quick kiss before letting her go so that she can get ready. “Bring a change of clothes. Something…you’ll feel good dancing in,” he replies with a wink, and goes back to leaning, clearly meaning to wait until she reemerges.

At that, Xanthee will raise an eyebrow high, curiosity now peaking but she doesn’t ask anything else because, frankly, Xan loves a good surprise, and he’s obviously put some thought into this, which warms her heart to no end. With one final questioning look, she retreats back inside. After quickly changing into a pair of leather riding pants, pulling on a pair of tall, but comfortable boots. On her top, a fitted tunic with a low, square-cut neckline in her favourite green with black embroidery around neck and along the hem. Overtop a well-loved riding jacket, lined with fleece to keep the cold out. A pair of light leather gloves finish the outfit and then she is grabbing a pack and stuffing it with a dress that she knows that he had not seen yet, and it’s perfect for dancing.

She also throws in a few necessities in case they end up spending the night somewhere, she doesn’t know, so better be safe than sorry. Hair is brushed back into the runnertail now, neatly tucked up and out of her face. At the last moment, she leans to look into a small mirror on the desk near her bed, applying a light line of kohl around her eyes, and then adds a couple cosmetics to her bag as well. Finally done, she heads back out to find him leaning against the wall and offers him a radiant smile as she hikes the pack up her shoulder. “All set. Now where to?” Her eyes look up into his adoringly, clearly stating that she will gladly follow him anywhere.

Malosim doesn’t find himself waiting for too long, and he’s quick to gather Xanthee against his side with his free arm once she returns. “Lovely as always,” he praises with another kiss to follow and then starts them walking. “Stables, then…east,” he answers cryptically with a grin. “It’ll be a bit of a trip, but I packed food for us, for stops. Should get there by the start of sunset.” Wherever there is, but at least by saying east a few things can be deduced - it’s toward the river, and where there’s the river, there are holds. The question is, which one is he whisking them off to?

Boulder is waiting patiently for them at the stables, tacked up and ready for their journey. He regards the pair placidly upon their arrival, biding his time as Mal ties his satchel to the saddle, followed by Xanthee’s pack. Then he’s offering Xan a hand up to mount, if she wants it, and is ready to hop up behind her whenever she’s settled.

Xanthee takes in all his little cryptic remarks and files them away briefly before she is being led to the Stables. “You and your surprises.” She says with a playful shake of her head, “You’re such a romantic…I love it.” She says emphatically, punctuated by her girlish giggle, emerald eyes dancing as she looks up at him. When they join the fully racked up Boulder in the Stables she raises an eyebrow I'm his direction, “Pretty confident I was going to say yes?” She adds with another giggle before handing her pack over to Mal to secure it onto the runner, while she rubs her hand over the beast's neck and stage whispers at the runner playfully, “Do you know where we're going Boulder?” But then Mal is offering her his hand and she gratefully accepts it as she swings up into the saddle, scooting forward to make room for him when he mounts behind her. As soon as he is seated she will scoot back up against him, sighing happily.

“I did kind of warn you,” Malosim says to Xanthee’s first with a little grin and a waggle of dark brows, and laughs a bit with her next. “Yeah, pretty confident. Plus, better to be prepared and have you say no than to make you wait on me getting stuff together after saying yes.” So runs his logic, anyway.

Does Boulder know? Big brown eyes that seem wiser than one might initially take them for blink patiently at her, and the colt gives a quiet whicker, almost as though he could be chuckling. Really, he’s just along for the ride. As well as giving the ride. Once they’re secure, Boulder obligingly trots them out to the Weyr Pass, taking the split near the Oasis Inn that steers them to the east. The initial traverse is steep, but it isn’t long before the road widens and begins to level out, the leaden ribbon of the Igen River becoming visible in the broad valley that looms in the distance.

Mal stops them in the foothills for a rest and a stretch and a quick bite before getting them underway again. It isn’t long before their destination becomes apparent - Igen River Hold appears beyond some sandstone bluffs, the flat roofs of the Crafters’ abodes peering over the rocky outcrops long before the rest of it comes into view. The southeastern corner of the largest building boasts a tall pole, clearly topped with the fluttering presence of a Gather pendant.

As they round the bend, it becomes obvious that a square has been set up, merchant’s booths surrounding it beneath colorful awnings. Though the visible crowd isn’t huge, it’s quite big enough for a hold the size of Igen River…and that makes it just about perfect for Mal. “I heard about their annual winter Gather,” he says at Xanthee’s ear as they make the last approach to the stables, “and…my mind immediately went to getting to dance with you again.”


Igen River Hold
Sitting on the cusp of a striking juxtaposition of sand and greenery, Igen River Hold hugs both rugged cliff and gentle slope of riverbank. Small fishing craft with brightly-hued hulls and sails can be seen to coast easily along the currents here, as well as larger boats built for transport and the occasional journey downriver to the ocean. Crafthalls for both boat-builders and fisher folk make up most of what can be seen from Igen River itself, the ramps and piers extending past the thin strip of tidal swamp to be found at this point along the water’s edge. A smallish sprawl of industry, this hold - but a bustling one, with a colorful and thriving community of river-bound Seacrafters and holders who find such a lifestyle to their liking.


Xanthee enjoyed the trek thoroughly and now that she spies the Hold, she is almost sad since she enjoyed the slow build-up of the trip, as she leaned against him for most of the afternoon. But now her eyes light up as she spies the Gather square and she gives his knee a little rub appreciatively as she gets shivers as he speaks in her ear, a happy sigh escaping her lips. “Now how did you know that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the dancing we did at that Zingari party?” She purrs back at him lovingly as she can’t wait to change into the dress she brought with her and take him out to the dance floor, her anticipation buzzing pleasantly along her nerves.

Malosim chuckles softly as he brings Boulder up to an empty hitching post at the stables, slipping to the ground and helping Xanthee after him. “Oh,” he says as he catches her against him quite deliberately, “a wild guess. Since I haven’t been able to, either.” Another kiss only seems right following that, and then he lets her go, untying her pack to hand her way before doing the same for his own satchel.

“Soooo,” he says, glancing around once they’ve stepped beyond the stables, “I was told that there’s a place to change in the Hall. I need to find one of the assistant stewards and ask about…something I’ll tell you about once we’re changed,” he tells her with a secretive wink. “You wanna head up that way,” he gestures toward the Hall beyond the square with his chin, “while I do that, and I’ll meet you back here right afterward?”

Xanthee gladly accepts his kiss after she dismounts, smiling against his lips before he lets her go to deal with the packs. She takes her own and throws it over her shoulder. His words just makes another raven brow hike in curiosity as he mentions having to talk to the assistant steward and giving him a look that clearly asks, ‘What are you up to?’ but she doesn’t voice any objection and will nod and give him one last sweet kiss before heading off in the direction he mentioned. Her eyes take everything in as she finds the rooms set aside for revellers wanting to change.

Unfortunately, Xanthee can’t be rushed in her primping and it’s over a half candlemark when she reappears, but hopefully her work is worth it. Returning to the agreed to spot, Xanthee is a vision all in black. This dress has some definite slink to it. High neckline stretches straight across her collar bones and over her shoulders into long, tightly fitting sleeves made of a semi-sheer material. A tear drop shaped peekaboo hole gives just the barest view of the cleft between her breasts. A black leather cincher creates a pleasantly hourglass shaped figure. Dress flows like water over her hips and hangs straight to her ankles, a slit running up the left side, almost reaching her thigh. And if she were to turn, the backless nature of the dress is almost scandalous, dipping low and revealing almost the entirety of the flawless skin of her back, from neck all the way down to where the cincher sits. Her hair has been teased and fluffed so that it is like a cloud of black waves around her head and spilling down over her shoulders. Kohl had been reapplied thicker this time, giving her the perfect smokey eye, with lips painted dark red.

It actually works out just fine for Malosim that Xanthee ends up taking so long. He finds the assistant steward, though ends up having to wait on three people before getting to talk to him. Then whatever he’s procured ends up being something he has to hike over to the riverbank for, and while it’s not really that far, it does take some time. He doesn’t return right away, either, though when he does, he’s in his Gather finery. Tall black boots ascend to mid-calf, clean and polished and matching the belt at his waist, including the pouches and sheathed belt knife hanging from it. His trousers are fitted and made of a soft hide in dark grey - a bit thicker than his normal wear against the chill that’s bound to come up later. His tunic is fitted as well, long-sleeved and white with a lace-up collar that’s partially unfastened, teasing just a hint of the definition of his chest. Over this, however, is a black vest embroidered in shadowed red satin that glints subtly in whatever light touches it, scrolling endlessly over the dark fabric in intricate tendrils. There’s a crimson silk sash around his waist and the familiar half-cloak around his shoulders, the overall effect quite dashing, if he does say so himself.

This, however, is nothing compared to what he sees when he comes to their meeting place and finds Xanthee waiting. His steps nearly drift to a halt, his legs almost forgetting to keep working as he takes her in, his heart racing enough for his head to feel light as he draws closer. His jaw might just be hanging open a little as he comes to a stop before her, swallowing slowly. “One of these days,” he manages rather huskily, “someone’s gonna see me literally falling for you. This time almost did it.” And maybe it won’t be the most manly thing he’s done when it happens…but it’ll be well worth it.

As her beau finally catches up to her again, Xanthee looks rather pleased at his jaw-dropping reaction, giggling mirthfully at his words and steps forward to wrap her arms around his neck and treat him to the barest of kisses, light so as not to mess up her carefully applied makeup. Then looking up into those warm brown eyes of his, she cocks her head to one side and says playfully, “Almost huh? I guess I’ll just have to try harder next time then.” She teases though, revelling in such a compliment. “You however are simply dashing my love, I better not let you out of my sight, or one of these Holder girls are likely to try and steal you away from me.” She says without any real hint of jealousy or possessiveness, just her usual mischievous playfulness. Then she slips her arms down to rest on his hips, pulling him close. “So did you get everything you needed sorted?” She asks with another questioning raise of her brow as she subtly searches his face for any clue as to what he may have in store for them.

“They could try…but it wouldn’t get ‘em anywhere,” Malosim states with a smirk, letting himself be pulled close as he feathers his fingers lightly over the ebony cloud of Xanthee’s hair. “I did. In fact, c’mon this way, and bring your pack. I’ll show you what I did.” Once she has her things ready to take along, he catches her hand and leads her on a leisurely walk toward the river bank.

There are roughly thirty small, square pavilion tents set up to the south of the fishing piers, their peaked roofs appearing before anything else as the pair comes over a small rise. Arranged roughly in rows that follow the curve of the shore, they have a good amount of space between. A few have runners idling beside them, and Boulder becomes recognizable near one of those closest to the water. Mal leads Xanthee toward that one, smiling sidelong at her as they draw closer, watching what she makes of it all. “They set these up for those staying overnight,” he explains. “First come, first serve, two marks makes one yours. And they keep the area guarded, so the runners and any belongings stay safe. I know we could probably make it back tonight, but…I figured it’d be safer to stay til morning. Plus…we get a night away to ourselves.”

Once they arrive, he pulls back the flap of the tent and gestures for her to step inside. Though small, there’s plenty of headspace to stand up straight. A large cot with woven blankets layered upon it is there, plus a small brazier for warming and a little table. Just outside, a glow lantern hangs on a hook, while another hangs near the head of the cot. There is also a hook-topped stand for hanging cloaks and such. Mal’s pack already sits at the foot of the cot, having been left when he’d returned to find Xanthee. With each wall of the tent measuring only five paces across, it’s a snug space, but completely adequate for two people using it just for a night.

Chuckling lightly at his response to being stolen away from her, Xanthee looks up at him with sparkling eyes, “Good answer.” she replies ruefully before closing her eyes at the feeling of his fingers in her hair. When he tells her to bring her pack, the anticipation bubbles inside her and she does so, accepting his hand and letting him lead her to the riverbank. When the square tents come into view a smile creeps over her lips as she listens to his explanation. When they arrive at the tent where Boulder is standing and she is lead inside, Xanthee can feel her pulse quicken at the thought of having a night away with him, finding the idea immensely appealing.

As they enter the tent and she has a look around, she find the smile growing on her lips as she goes to drop her pack off next to his, taking in the cozy space and looking at the cot appreciatively. Then when she’s had her fill, she turns to him and flings her arms around his neck pulling him into a kiss so eager and deep to show him exactly what she thinks of his surprise, as well as a tease of things to come, late after the dancing is done. When she pulls back from him, she can see her lipstick clinging to his lips and she offers a small giggle at that, lifting her hand to rub her thumb gently over them to get the worst of it off. “Sorry about that. I knew it was a mistake wearing lipstick around you. I should have known it wouldn’t last. I just wanted to look my best for you.” And then emerald eyes are looking up into his brown ones, full of desire and adoration. “Thank you love for this amazing surprise. You spoil me, truly.”

Malosim automatically wraps Xanthee up against him when she pulls him into that kiss, remembering after a moment to take care of her dress…and then not caring so much when he feels just how open the back of her dress is. He can’t help his hands spreading over the bare skin he’s found after that, nearly forgetting why they’re there in the first place. He’s a bit confused at first when she lifts her hand to rub at his lips, grinning when he realizes what happened. “Yeah… I was thinking I was gonna end up messing it up sooner or later,” he notes, licking his lips and using the back of his hand to wipe at them a bit more.

He’s caught by her eyes again, his hand coming to rest against her cheek as he looks down into them with emotion to mirror hers exactly. “You’re always beautiful to me, Xan. You’re welcome. I just… I love spending all the time I can with you, because I know there’s gonna come a point when we’ll have to be apart for awhile. I want to make the most of it…and even if Search wasn’t a factor, I’d still feel this way. I love you.” Which really explains it all, to his mind.

He seeks her lips again, tugging on his own reins at the last second to remind himself that they didn’t come to stay in the tent the whole time. It’d be very easy to do! “Ready to get out there?” he presently asks, his hands finding hers. “I wanna show you off while we’re here.”

A private smile spreads over Xanthee’s lips when she sees how he reacts to her bare back. It’s a great dress. But when he states so eloquently his feelings, she feels herself melt against his frame, fingers reaching to twine in his brown hair just at the nape of his neck while her eyes holds his as he cups her cheek with his hand. “I’m the luckiest girl alive, you know that? I love you so much.” When he mentions Search, her eyes dim just the slightest bit, it’s been on her mind a lot lately, some of her old anxieties rearing their ugly heads, but Xan puts a firm stop to that. Not tonight. This special night was not going to be ruined by that. And when his lips seek hers again, the thoughts are thoroughly banished.
When asked if she is ready to go, Xan nods emphatically, her hands captured by his. A little blush colors the apples of her cheeks, when he mentions showing her off, “As you wish my love.” she responds with a giggle. “Let’s see if we can find something to drink maybe? That ride has made me kind of thirsty.”

“As you wish, my love,” Malosim counters in a cheeky rumble, giving Xanthee his arm as he takes them back out of the tent. He can’t help but carry himself as proudly as a Lordling with her beside him, his eyes for her alone despite any that might turn appraisingly on him. That’s not to say he’s ignorant of his surroundings, of course. He’s simply most fully aware of her. “So what sounds good to you right now? Wine? Something mixed? Something simpler?” Mead, beer, ale, all manner of things stronger or weaker - they’re all to be found in various places throughout the square. One thing he is looking for right away, however, is his favorite dessert - bubbly pies. It’s not a unique love, of course; who doesn’t love a good bubbly? But bubblies at a Gather just feel like a particularly special treat to him.

Spoiled for choice, Xanthee looks around at the various stalls for a long moment before making up her mind. “I think a nice glass of white wine would go down well right about now.” she says thoughtfully, trying to spy a stall that might be selling some, when she notices him on his own search, “What are you looking for?” she asks curiously, her eyes flicking around them, noticing the stares they are getting, not a few from young women looking appreciatively at her handsome Miner. Preening slighly, she squeezes his hand with hers, heart swelling with pride knowing that she is the one on his arm. Spying a stall that looks to have wineskins on display, she subtly pulls him along in that direction, her every step causing the slinky dress to undulate over her curves like black liquid, it really is one of her favourites.

Malosim is way too intent on finding his bubblies to notice the stares…or if he does notice them, he’s not reacting. Charming rogue though he may have been between relationships, once he’d decided on Xanthee…well. It’s crystallized his focus into something steadfast, immovable, and completely hers. Such is the way he works! Glancing back to her when she squeezes his hand, he gives a little grin. “Bubbly pies,” he answers, “though let’s definitely get your wine first.”As they head toward the stall, he notes a few sets of eyes following Xanthee as well and just smiles amiably at those he catches…though there’s a hint of smugness underlying it. Yep, this is his girlfriend. Everyone can take note!

“Ohhh, bubblies! Yes please! It’s been ages since I’ve had one.” Xanthee says enthusiastically as she leads them over to the stall selling the wine. Looking over at him, she catches one of those smiles to an onlooker, noting the hint of smugness and beams a little brighter, her heart overflowing now. Once they get to the stall, she quickly orders her wine, a glass of white, then turns to him with a raised brow, “You getting something here?” She doesn’t think he does wine, but she wanted to make sure anyway. Then the wine is offered and she looks down suddenly realizing her dress doesn’t have any pockets and her belt pouch is still on her belt back in her pack. Giggling a little bit at herself. “Mal dear, a belt pouch does not go with this outfit, so I seem to find myself without my marks.” she says sheepishly.

Sure enough, Mal gives a little shake of his head when Xanthee asks if he’s getting wine of his own. “I just haven’t met a wine I’ve like yet,” he says, trying to make it an aside so as not to risk offending the merchant. He’s eminently amused when it turns out she’s forgotten her marks and covers her drink without fuss, chuckling softly. “Do pocketed dresses exist?” he asks, idle curiosity piqued by the current situation. “Seems like it would take a pretty clever tailor to find places for them in something like that.” He gestures to encompass most of her dress, getting thoroughly distracted by the slit up the side and leg peeking through it for a few moments before lifting his head, eyes narrowing as a sweet scent tantalizes his nose. “Bubblies to the east,” he murmurs as though he’s keeping some important secret, and slips her a grin as he leads her thataway.

“I didn’t think you would.” Xanthee replies when he refuses the wine, pleased with herself for guessing correctly. “Thank you.” she says softly when he pays for her drink, giggling at his comment about pockets in her very slinky dress. “Sadly it would be impossible without ruining the lay of the fabric and the lines of the dress.” While she takes a sip of her wine, she runs her hand down her torso, gliding over the smooth fabric and she sweeps it down over her hip and then trailing her fingers off, sending a ripple down the fabric of the skirt, giving him a wicked smile as she sees him fixated on the slit up her leg which flutters open briefly. Xanthee can’t resist a soft chuckle at the secretive way he delivers the information about the bubblies. “Indeed. Let’s check it out.” She says with the same playful tone, taking another sip as she lets herself be led in that direction.

Xanthee is a terrible tease sometimes, and Malosim doesn’t mind it one bit right now. It just gives him fuel for later, after all. He tries not to take them too fast as he follows his nose, eventually coming to a point among the stalls where he has to stop and use his eyes to determine their destination instead. Good thing, too, since it does look a bit silly to go around with one’s nose in the air, no matter the motivation. “There we are,” he says, pointing to a stall with a line of four people, one of who leaves the counter with a two bubblies in hand. He slips them into line and takes the opportunity to curl his arm around her waist as they wait. “When’s your Turnday?” he asks presently, his tone conveying surprise that he’d never thought to ask before. “I haven’t missed it, have I?”

Xanthee smiles at him following his nose to the bubblies, simply enjoying being along for the ride. As they settle into the line and he wraps an arm around her, she raises a brow quizzically at this seemingly random question, her eyes blinking owlishly in surprise. “Actually you haven't, barely, it's in just under two sevens, on the 25th of this month.” she replies narrowing her eyes curiously as she goes on, “I was going to see if I could get to Southern at some point and see if my sister would make me a cake and have a small party.” She says with a shrug, it's just an idea she had. Then the line moves and she shuffles forward a little bit closing the gap and taking a deep breath of the delicious smells wafting up from the pies, “They smell amazing. I forgot how good fresh bubbles smell.” She's been dealing with different pastries mostly in the Tea Room.

“Oh! Good thing I asked,” Malosim says, brows hiking a bit when Xanthee announces just how close her birthday is. “A party at Southern?” he asks, not quite catching the intent in her answer and then taking his own sniff as they move closer. “Yeah they do. I wonder if they have a few different kinds…” It’s not clear from this point in the line.

Giggling lightly, Xanthee blushes as she is isn’t clear, “No, I meant go to Southern and commission a cake from Elonoora for a party at Igen. Probably over in the Zingari camp since they seem to always have the party atmosphere going over there.” She shrugs a little bit, her brows creasing a little bit as her last Turnday is brought to mind, one she did spend in Southern Weyr, albeit as a Candidate, once that happened shortly before her disgraced departure. Sighing heavily and shaking her head as i it could shake the memories loose. Then Mal says something about different kinds, and she has to focus her attention back on him for a moment before she registers that he’s talking about bubblies. With a soft sigh, she smiles weakly at him, “What’s your favourite kind?” She asks as a way to distract her from the dark place her thoughts just went.

“Ahhh, got it!” Mal takes the clarification with a grin. “I’m glad you get on so well with the Zingari. They’re pretty amazing people.” Then Xanthee is giving that heavy sigh in rather stark contrast to her previous lightness, and there’s no way he can possibly miss it, looking down at her with perplexed concern. “Blueberry,” he answers distractedly, and lifts a hand to smooth some of her hair back. “What’s the matter?”

Shaking her head slightly as he smoothes her hair back, Xanthee sighs again, not wanting to ruin this perfect night with her past mistakes. “Just thinking of my last Turnday, which was at Southern Weyr actually. I was there as a Candidate. I..I was sent home shortly after. Just memories being dredged up is all.” She says with a dismissive wave of her hand and then notices that they are up next for the bubblies. Yay for a distraction. As she shuffles forwards, she looks over the wares and points to the kind she wants, with a mix of berries.

Mal doesn’t try to fit in a response before they get their bubblies, smiling eagerly at the merchant. “Two of the mixed berry, and two blueberry,” he orders happily as he notices the option available. He does end up informed that he’ll need to wait off to the side for the next batch of blueberry, however, which he doesn’t mind in the least. Fresh-baked are the best way to go, after all! He pays his marks and hands Xanthee her pies, his arm still around her waist as he pulls them off to the side to wait. “Hey,” he says quietly, settling his hand against the back of her jaw as he looks down at her warmly. “Whatever happened before…this one is gonna erase it completely. And…” He tilts his head to her ear, brushing his lips against her cheek along the way. “I aim to give you a night to remember, at the end of it all.”

“Thanks.” Xanthee says simply as she is handed two of the bubbly pies, her mouth watering instantly. Then she is being guided off to the side and stand helplessly both hands full and unable to return the embrace. But when his hand comes up to touch her face, she looks up at him with a warm smile. “How you can possibly top tonight, I have no idea.” Then, in an effort to free up at least one of her hands, she starts to nibble on one of the bubblies, taking small bites in an effort not to disgrace herself by getting berry juice all down her. That may be more difficult than she thought as a rivulet of red/purple juice escapes the corner of her mouth and starts running down her chin, aiming to drip off onto her nice dress. She raises her chin and nods towards a pile of napkins on on the corner of the stall, “A little help dear.” she asks with a giggle as the rivulet starts to make it’s way down her neck with her chin being thrust up as it is. At least it’s not gotten to the dress yet.

“I have my ways,” Malosim assures Xanthee with a wink…and then watches with increasing amusement as she bites into one of the bubblies and ends up falling victim to the most notorious predicament facing by any bubbly-eater. Chuckling, he darts sideways to snag a napkin, pressing one to her neck before the juice can get too far and wiping up that rivulet until he reaches the corner of her mouth. He clears away the last with a mischievous kiss, grinning as he pulls away. “Mmm… That kind isn’t bad either!” he declares, and reaches to relieve her of the other bubbly, replacing it with a napkin. Then his own bubblies are brought out, thankfully on a plate since they’re so obviously steaming. He gets a warning not to try to bite into them yet lest he burn himself, and to bring the plate back or he’ll be owing another half-mark. After a little salute of acknowledgement and a declaration of his thanks, he turns and tilts his head toward a vacant bench at the edge of the square for them to sit at.

Smiling at him with thanks, Xanthee giggles as he wipes up the mess, clearing the last of it with a kiss. “Why thank you kind sir.” she says as he replaces one of her pies with a napkin and she finishes up the job herself. Then he has his own pies and is tilting his head in the direction of the bench. Since his hands are more full than hers now, she steps quickly to secure the bench when she sees others heading for her. Sitting down on it, she puts her bubbly down on the far side of her, crossing one leg over the other, the slit in her skirt slipping open to reveal her shapely legs. Then she will reach out her hands, ready to take his burden from him while he settles himself. “Perfect spot.”

Malosim only hands the second of Xanthee’s pies back, keeping his plate as he folds easily down beside her and tests a bite. Air hisses through pursed lips as he finds out they’re nowhere near cool enough yet, and he sighs with wry resignation over his plight. “Oh well. They’re worth it,” he declares, and loops his free arm around Xanthee again.

Sunset is in full swing now, the lowering light casting a ruddy hue upon high, thin clouds that reflects on the breadth of the nearby river. Coppery ripples glint here and there through the palms, and around the square, glowbaskets begin to come open. Somewhere across the way, a guitarist and a drummer start up a catchy little tune, an impromptu demonstration of some of the wares at a Harper’s stall. “Can’t wait to hear ‘em all together,” he says of the music to come. “It’s a small place, but I hear their resident Harpers are pretty talented.”

“Hey watch it now. No burning your mouth. I might need that later.” Xanthee says with a mischievous giggle and a saucy wink in his direction as she take her own still warm, but not scalding, bubbly pie and takes another bite, making sure her other hand holds the napkin under it as she takes careful bites all around the edge of it, biting off the crust, as she would when she was much younger before delving into the remainder of it. Between relishing every bite, she turns to nod at him, dabbing at the corners of her mouth with the napkin. “Really? Then I can’t wait. I just hope they start on the dancing soon. My feet are getting the itch.” She says as she taps her toes in her delicate leather slippers, no uncomfortable shoes here, Xanthee is determined to dance unrestricted. “So how come you know how to dance so well?” she asks curiously, shooting him a sidelong glance as she finishes off the last few bites of her first bubbly.

Despite knowing he needs to wait probably another good five minutes or so for his own treats to cool, Malosim keeps poking one to check. “Hmm. You make a convincing case,” he counters to Xanthee’s first, and nods eagerly to her assertion that her feet are getting itchy. He’s anticipating a start to things when the sun is fully down, himself. It just seems the most logical thing to him. His smile in response to her question is slightly nostalgic. “Well, before I apprenticed, my dad taught me. Said if I was going to keep trying to charm my way out of trouble with the ladies around the hold, I should probably know how to charm my way into it, too. I was too young to know what he meant then, but I just went with it. Ista Hold had a fair amount of Gathers, so I got a good amount of practice in. And since the Minecraft Hall is at Telgar Hold and they had their fair share, too, I was able to keep in practice.”

Picking up her second pie, Xanthee repeats the process with the second one, daintily nibbling around the edges while she listens to his explanation. “Wow, remind me if I ever meet your father to thank him for that.” She says giggling before she realizes she’s talking about meeting one of his parents and the seriousness of that step isn’t lost on her as she blushes slightly and quickly back-tracks, “If, I said if right? I don’t mean to presume anything, obviously, just y’know..” and she trails off resisting the urge to continue babbling so she just goes back to devouring her second bubbly. Wait? Where’s her glass of wine? With a little groan, she remembers putting it down at the stall to pick up the bubblies. It must still be there. She quickly finishes her pie and stands, clearing her throat. “I left my drink over at the bubbly stall. You want me to get you anything?”

Despite Xanthee clearly thinking she needs to back up a step on what she just said, Mal’s smile just grows, though his brows are lifted in mild surprise. Then she’s peering about for her glass, and he realizes he can’t see it either. He glances around himself before she groans, drawing his attention. At least the bubbly stall isn’t far away! It’s almost catty-corner to where they’re sitting. “Nah, I’m still good,” he says. “Lemme know if it’s gone, though, and we’ll go get another one.” In the meantime, he’s just going to keep waiting on his pies to cool and take in the view as she goes in search of her abandoned drink.

Xanthee nods her head and then heads back towards the bubblie stall, giving Mal a good look at the dress from the back, her hips sashaying slightly to enhance the overall effect. Thankfully when she gets there, the vendor smiles at her and passes over her drink, “Looking for this maybe? I figured you'd be back for it.” Xanthee smiles at him, “Thank you sir, your pies are delicious by the way.” She says with a bob of her head before heading back towards the bench and Mal. Her passing earns a few intent stares from a couple of men nearby, but Xan only has eyes for her for Miner, leaning over him for a quick kiss before sitting herself down and holds up her glass, “Found it.”. Before taking another sip, relishing the drink after the sweetness of the pies.

Mal does spot a stare or two aimed at Xanthee, but he’s completely secure in them. She’s worthy of being admired, but he knows full well where they stand, and she’s never once shown herself flighty when it comes to them. From what he’s seen, it’s a rare thing indeed for two people their age to be so steady in their relationship, so he treasures the fact, the thought making him grin to himself every now and then. There is always some tiny little shadow in the back of his mind that tries to make him question or doubt, a leftover scar from his past rejection…but it has no place here, and he’s able to shut it out easily.

He accepts her kiss gladly, nodding to see that her wine survived abandonment before giving his bubbly another test. This time he’s able to nip off a corner, and while the filling revealed still steams, it’s at least manageable now. “Y’know,” he tells her quietly, shifting so that he’s turned to her a bit more as he puts his free arm around her again and catches her eyes, “I would love for you to meet my parents someday. Whenever you’re comfortable. I never know when I’m going to get to take a trip back to Ista, so I can’t say when, but…I was gonna bring it up sometime.”

Taking another sip of her wine, Xanthee looks at him with surprise in her face, and takes a moment before answering him, eyes looking down at her glass of wine. “I don’t know Mal, that’s a kind of serious step don’t you think?” she asks softly, a note of uncertainty to her voice. Are they there yet? She’s doesn’t know, because up till a little over a month ago, she didn’t have any parents to introduce him to, and even now she wasn’t sure she wanted to introduce him to Ha’ze, not really knowing the bronzerider too well yet. But his family life is very different hers, and she knows she’s so young, what if they don’t consider her a suitable match for their son because of her age? A little crease forms on her brow, between her eyes, as she looks back up at him, conflict written plainly on her face.

“Well…yeah, I guess it kind of is,” Malosim answers with a blink, suddenly feeling as though he might’ve taken a serious misstep. Judging by his expression, he obviously hadn’t thought it would be that big a deal, though not knowing what her misgivings might be, he can’t easily come up with what any potential issues. “I just…know they’d like you and wanted to introduce you to them sometime, you being so important to me and all…” The little shadow whispers at the edges of his thoughts, and he batters it quickly back into submission. “But no pressure, Xan,” he tells her, his tone quiet and emphatic. “None. I don’t want it to be an uncomfortable prospect for you. I know we haven’t even been together for a Turn yet…” He can’t help but look a bit worried now, wondering if he’s just made things awkward.

Xanthee reacts to Mal’s worried look, her heart skipping as he how important she is to him. A small, hopefully reassuring, smile spreads over her lips as the crease between her eyes smooth. Her hand reaches out to rub his knee comfortingly. “Hey, I’m thrilled you feel that way about me. I’ve hardly ever been important to anyone. That means everything to me, truly. Parents are just uncharted territory for me, in every way, I mean you know that. I’ve never had to consider introducing a boyfriend to my parents.” And then with another long sigh, she elaborates further. “I’m just now turning 17, and we’ve been seeing each other really for..” she pauses briefly considering, “5 months if you count from our first date, although it feels like a lot longer, since we didn’t see each other for months after we first met. And I’m so glad you are in my life, but I am worried your parents might see me as a lovesick child and not the woman who is truly, madly, deeply in love with their son.” She says with a little sigh, her eyes searching his, “I’m not saying I don’t want to meet them, I’m just saying…” Another short pause before her voice drops to barely above a whisper. “What if they don’t like me? I know how much you look up to them, and how would something like that affect….us?” Then as she awaits his answer, she nervously chews on her lower lip.

Malosim does indeed take reassurance from the way Xanthee answers him, though he winces a little when she mentions parents being uncharted territory for her. Way to go, Mal. He nods; yes, he’d known. He just hadn’t been thinking, which does happen from time to time. Thankfully, she explains some of her concerns, and his expression brightens until there’s a smile tilting his lips askew once more. “Ah, Xan…” He shakes his head, giving a little chuckle as he takes her hand upon his knee and fits their fingers together. “Like I said, I think they’d like you. Really. I mean, look at me - I’m pretty sure they spawned the sappiest guy in the world; that’s on them.” Alright, not fully on them, but he certain places some of the blame there!

“They’re the ones who had to figure out how to deal with me getting my heart broken because I ended up being the ‘lovesick child’ you’re talkin’ about. Pretty sure my dad would kick my ass clear to Paradise Hold if they thought I hadn’t learned my lesson or was taking advantage of you. But I think they’d see the truth of what this is.” Broad shoulders hitch upward in a little shrug. “Sure they’d worry a little, but that’s something typical hold and Craft parents do if they’re raising their own. They’d have their little concerns over us both, then take a good look and judge the truth…and I’m confident they’d see how in love we are. They’d see you for you. They’re not stuffy, uptight sorts.”
He lifts their linked hands, kissing the back of hers. “But like I said, there’s no timeline, no rush, no pressure. Just know that I think you are most definitely worth introducing to them someday.”

Xanthee listens intently, taking all of his words to heart, feeling her concerns melt away slowly. Her lips curl into their own smile, a happy sigh escaping them. “Thank you. For telling me all of that. It really makes me feel better about the whole situation.” She chuckles lightly as she gets a rogue thought into her own head, “Ohhh… but as for my father…I don’t know if he likes to be that involved in my life, so I’m going to wait and see if I can’t suss that out first. Of course, him being at Igen, there’s always a chance of you guys accidentally running into each other…” she trails off, slightly mortified at that idea and finishes off her wine with one gulp, it was a pretty big gulp and it makes her head swim briefly. “Yeah, don’t want to be thinking about him right now. Not when I’m here, with you, at a Gather, and I don’t want anything to ruin that.” She says adamantly as she cups his cheek in her free hand, and pulls him gently close for a soft but lingering kiss. “Now are you going to finish those bubblies? I think I see the harpers starting to set up.” And she flicks her eyes over towards the stage where there are indeed people with instruments making like they are getting ready.

Malosim is inwardly growling a little over the thought of meeting Xanthee’s father at the same time she’s being mortified about it. Fortunately, everything circles back around to the Gather, the atmosphere of the riverside festivities filtering back in around them, and he smiles again, content to set the matter fully aside…though he watches Xan for a moment after she downs her entire glass. Good thing she downed those bubblies first! Then she’s kissing him, and in the lingering he can taste the wine and the berries on her lips…and any lingering shadows are banished in full as he just soaks it in for a good moment.
He chuckles at her question, nodding as he looks across the way to spot the Harpers setting up and taking a hefty bite. He’s careful, though, leaning forward in case he manages to dribble blueberry down his chin. It’s a beast to get out of one’s clothing, after all. He polishes them off fairly quickly, though clearly savors them, then makes good on his promise to return the plate before giving a contented sigh. “Now I just need a good cider and I’ll really be ready to dance,” he declares, taking Xanthee’s hand. “Care to help me track one down?”

Watching him as he polishes off his bubblies, Xanthee smiles a little bit at him. When he mentions cider, she lights up, “Yes! A glass of cider would go so well right now.” And when he takes her hand, she gets to her feet and looks around a little bit, trying to spy a stall where they may be selling some of the stuff and spies a booth with some promising looking barrels. “Maybe over there?” She points in the right direction and tugs his hand in hers as she heads over in that direction.

They’re really going to have to get some protein somewhere along the way here. Probably after a bit of dancing. For now, the quest for cider is afoot, and Malosim follows Xanthee’s tugging toward the big barrels. Sure enough, there is cider served at the nearby stall, and the Miner orders a light, crisp sort that won’t weigh him down too much too early. “Ahh… This is perfect,” he declares after paying, and starts to lean contentedly against one of the barrels until one of the Vintner journeymen snaps at him to shove off. “Sorry,” he says quickly as he moves them off, then quietly starts snickering in an aside to Xanthee.

The tall pint glass that the cider comes in is about half empty when the first music starts up in earnest. There’s a wave of applause and whoops as a jaunty reel starts in, and the first out on the floor are the middle-aged holder and his lady, both sinewy and spry with the strength bestowed upon them by the Seacrafters’ trade. They’re watched appreciatively for some time before more couples join in, and Mal grins over at Xan eagerly. “Wanna jump in, or should we wait for the next round?”

When Mal orders his cider, Xanthee puts up two fingers, indicating that she wants one as well. As she takes a sip of the drink she nods her head, “That is very refreshing.” So refreshing in fact that by the time the holder and his lady take the floor for the first dance, she is down to a couple of mouthfuls in the bottom of the glass. She can feel the alcohol warming her from the inside now, a soft pink flush on her cheeks, and her foot tapping to the time of the music. Mal’s question is answered by Xanthee throwing back the last two gulps of her drink and smiling widely at her beau. “Oh, can we please jump in? I can’t wait to get you out on that dancefloor any longer.” She says passionately as she subtly bounces in place.

With a mirthful laugh, Malosim obligingly sets aside his glass and takes Xanthee’s hands, watching the footwork that passes them by and gauging the tempo until he can find just the right time to spin them into the round of dancers circling the floor as the reel circles onward. It’s a quick beginning to the night’s set, meant to wake up those who might be experiencing post-dinner dragging and possibly early-onset hangovers. Those with the latter invariably end up wobbling off to a nearby bench before the tune is over. Mal, on the other hand, keeps them moving, unable to help grinning like a fool as he concentrates and making sure his feet go where they need to go and staying upright with Xanthee in his arms.

Finally the music comes to a halt, and they’re still in one piece. Mal gives a breathless whoop and joins the applause a moment before pulling Xan to him for an exhilarated kiss. The next tune starts somewhere along the way, a moderate, more stately tempo that’s more along the lines of a court dance. “Again?” he asks, still catching his breath again. “Or wait for something slower?”

Finally! As Mal leads Xanthee onto the floor, she can feel her pulse quicken already as he wait for the perfect moment to swing them into the dance. Feeling utterly comfortable with his leading the dance, Xan is along for the ride, her own foot work working to keep up with him, and she makes it through the whole number, giggling sporadically during some of the more energetic moments. When the song dies down, she adds her enthusiastic applause to the mix. Her color is high and their dance has warmed her through and through when Mal kisses her, a giggle bubbling between their lips. When then next tune comes on, she wrinkles her nose slightly. “Let’s wait for either another fast one or a slow one. These in between ones are a little too stuffy for me.” And it’s true, although having never really learned to dance herself, Xan is a responsive and instinctual dancer, but when it comes to the more structured dances, she finds them too technical. Pulling him along after her she moves off to a nearby nook created by two stalls placed closely together. When she gets him there, she pushes herself up against him, arms reaching up to encircle his neck with her arms, and following up on his exhilarating kiss with a downright passionate one of her own. Blood is running hot now with the mix of alcohol and dancing and she just wants a few minutes to really show him how much she appreciates all the effort he put into this little surprise getaway.

There is just something so incredibly adorable about a blushing Xanthee that makes Malosim want to pick her up and spin her around…but he thinks he would probably fall over trying to do that at the moment, so refrains until a later time. He chuckles when she voices her distaste for the courtly dances, not quite catching on to where he’s being led for a moment. “I’m not surprised…”

Then he finds himself in a shadowy niche between stalls (damn crazy kids sneaking off to smash faces again, some old uncle is probably muttering right about now), Xan’s mouth and body melded hotly to his, and his head swims fast and warm with the heady combination of sensations and tastes that make her up in this moment. His arms enfold her, his hands traveling the expanse of her bared back, and a soft groan rumbles in his throat. He’ll take a few minutes alright, enjoying the slow burn until he has to catch a deep breath or get too dizzy to stay standing. The world filters back in, and he hears the drum thumping out something decidedly slower. “How about now?” he whispers huskily, seeking out her eyes in the dark with a heat-edged grin.

Oh let the old uncles grumble, Xanthee doesn’t care who sees them. She is totally lost in his lips for several long minutes, the hands on her bare back causing her to shiver slightly as she presses closer to him if that’s even possible. When he breaks apart, she can feel her own head swimming, a giggle bubbling up past her lips. The slower drumbeat catches her attention as well, and she nods emphatically at his question as she leads him to the floor. Once there, she will sink into his arms once more, taking up the slow rhythm easily, her body pressed close to his and her eyes searching for his own, looking to block out everything else except him, her and the music, the rest is all background noise.

There always seems to be some way to get closer. Mal swears he feels it even as they sway to the slower, more sinuous tune that carries them off into their own little world. She won’t have to work to capture his eyes; they’re all for her and never leaving, his heart laid easily bare to her in the depths of his warm brown gaze. After a time, he dips his head to kiss her gently, then lets his lips graze back toward her ear so that he can speak without anyone but her hearing. “I think I know why I love dancing with you so much,” he murmurs, and she’ll likely be able to feel him smile. “Might make you blush, though. It makes me blush…”

A low moan builds up behind Xanthee’s lips as they kiss, eyes fluttering closed to shut everything else out. Then when his lips graze her ear, she can’t help but shudder slightly at the touch. His words pique her interest and she turns her own head slightly so she can murmur back. “I don’t care if it does, please tell me.” her tone pleads huskily into his ear, hand reaching up to run fingers through his hair, encouraging him silently to please finish his thought.

Again Mal chuckles, a low burr of sound against her neck this time before he feathers a kiss just below her ear, then gives his answer at a whisper. “Because…it feels like another way to make love to you…without anyone around us being the wiser.” And he does indeed feel some heat rise to his cheeks, but he doesn’t care if it’s noticed. It would be hard to do in the lower light anyway, and with the alcohol flowing all over the place, it’s unlikely anyone would question it. Not to mention he’s really not aware of anyone else around them anyway.

A soft whimper escapes her lips as Xanthee feels his lips feathering over her neck. The whispered answer does indeed bring a blush to her cheeks, but she quickly hides it by ducking her head and mimicking him, kissing Mal’s neck in return, but quickly her kisses take on a more ravenous feel to them, as she kisses up his jawline and then reaches his lips, speaking softly. “Yes, I can definitely see that, but,” she pauses for dramatic effect, “we do have a nice little tent by the river and we can do all sorts of things in there and no one will be the wiser.” Leaning back a little bit, she looks up at him with half-lidded bedroom eyes that smoulder with a flame of desire for her beau after all the build-up of the evening. Yes dancing is nice, but Xanthee is clearly eager to have her hunky Miner all to herself behind closed doors, or well a closed flap anyway.

At this point, some of the other dancers around them are probably hoping they get themselves off to a tent right about now. “That is true,” Mal agrees, his fingers tightening subtly upon Xanthee’s waist as he straightens a bit and starts slowly maneuvering them toward the edge of the square. “If you’re sure you want to cut out early…” Not that he’s hesitating, of course; no sooner has he finished speak than he’s taking Xanthee’s hand and pulling them off toward the river bank, over the little rise and then down to the overnight camp. Having opened the lantern before leaving, he’s able to spot their tent easily and quickly pulls them inside. He makes certain to tie the flap securely shut, double-checking his work before turning back to her, the music drifting from the square reduced to the faintest background noise in a world that now encompasses everything before him and nothing more.

Fade here, or read on for a steamier ending!

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