Mayte, F'dan


Acting on Sienna's advice, F'dan commences step one of the Plan: apologize to Mayte. It doesn't go well.


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


Archives, Igen Weyr

OOC Date


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A grand room, lost to more pressing concerns, the Archives hold many treasures well past their prime, from instruments to examples of older flying gear and agenothree tanks. Faded and disused Records lean tiredly against their shelves, their bindings peeling and creating layers of dust on surfaces long left without maintenance. The floors are dirty, various footprints creating crisscrossing paths between rickety wooden chairs and drunkenly off-kilter tables. Columns rise upward to the ceiling, hung with glow-baskets scarcely tended and fast losing their strength. The hum of activity is duller, here in this forgotten space — few visit in search of historical facts.

It's early afternoon in the Archives - and possibly the deadest time to be in there. The sun is shining on one of those rare summer days, so most are outside, savouring it. The only one stirring, other than the Archivist, is Mayte, who's sitting at a desk next to one long row of books. She has a selection of hides all stacked around her, a mug of klah that's still steaming, and an empty plate with some remnant crumbs on it. She's lost in thought, ignoring any dirty looks the archivist might shoot her way… especially when she takes a long, noisy slurp of klah. Possibly on purpose, from how she peers over the one hide she's picked up to study.

Most people might be outside savouring the sun, but Reaches-born F'dan can't imagine much worse than 100 degree heat. He's sticky, he's uncomfortable, he had a shower after sweeps and already he's uncomfortable again. That and the fact that sweeps are checking on crops — not really a rider's favourite thing; F'dan enjoys the spoils of the land but it's hardly his business how tubers end up on his plate — and he's in a prickly mood. Some things though must be done, so he's brushed the dust of his leathers and come down to find… "Mayte." He's using his inside voice, but it's probably still not enough for the Archivist.

Mayte was totally watching the Archivist's back straighten and as such, missed F'dan's entering the quiet room. The hide she's at least holding up to cover her mouth doesn't waver for a minute, but it can't hide how one eyebrow rises. Her response is a cool "Wingrider F'dan," like she's not reminding him of something. Speaking of prickly. The dust trail the man drags in earns a brief pursing of lips before she looks back up, letting the hide fall to the desk and leans back in her seat, almost lounging comfortably. "Having a good day?" Okay, that came out nearly sweetly.

It was easier in Reaches, where the goldriders were always formal and you knew exactly where you stood. If a woman always expected to be addressed as ma'am a man knew what to do. But the Igen weyrwomen out drinking alone, and wearing improbably tiny dresses, and giving out all this sass… sometimes F'dan could just give up, except that the driving force in him pushes on regardless. Ambition never sleeps. "Ma'am," he corrects, standing a little taller under the unconscious weight of the word. "I wanted to talk for two minutes. Is this a good time?" The last thing he wants to do is play nice, but the ends justify the means. Sometimes you just have to bite your lip and be a decent person.

Mayte will apparently accept ma'am from F'dan now. She grins so cheerfully that somewhere, a fish starts evolving into a man just to warn the poor bronzer about it, "For the Weyrleader's assistant?" Rub rub rub, "It's an excellent time. Please," Mayte waves towards some chairs nearby, "Sit." She doesn't even look over to take up her mug of klah and cradles that elbow in her hand so she can watch F'dan move about. "So, what would you like to talk about for two minutes?" Pern doesn't have clocks but it should.

F'dan is an astoundingly good rider — it's one of the aggravating things about him: surely people that unpleasant shouldn't be good at what they do — but he's less good at biting his tongue. He's managing it though, all the way over into a chair which he pulls up a respectable distance from Mayte. He doesn't look happy but he does look acceptably polite, which is good. "Is this the right place to do this…?" But what the weyrwoman wants the weyrwoman gets. Sharding weyrwomen. "Weyrwoman, you know why I'm doing this for W'rin." It's a pretty sweet punishment as punishments go, but still. "I wanted to apologize for what I said to you. It was inappropriate to discuss military matters with a goldrider, and it was completely unacceptable to be dismissive of your Weyr."

Awww, look, he's giving it a shot! Mayte siiiippps annoyingly from her mug, and replies mildly, "I don't know, you haven't told me what this is about." So innocent. And in fact, Mayte looks entirely non-plussed: "You mean you're not donating your services for the good of the Weyr?" She is just shocked, she tells ya. Fingers cupping her elbow come out to flick absently at the air, "And what does what you said to me have to do with anything?" Mayte's eyebrows are raised just enough for quizzical effect, "I really don't know what you mean."

"I give my services for the good of the Weyr every time I fly Thread," F'dan replies a shade too quickly. Doing his duty on the wing is the one truly (or at least mostly) altruistic motivation he has: he believes in it absolutely, and he'd throw himself into a ball of Thread headfirst if it would help the Weyr. But time to regather. Deep, slow breaths: that's how F'dan's getting through this. His face stays placid but on his lap his bitten nails scratch over each other, picking at the torn and bloody skin around the nail bed. It's an unusually revealing habit for someone normally so controlled. "Fine," he says after a long pause, adding "ma'am" almost instantaneously. Just in case. "Shortly after I arrived in Igen I made a comment to you about Benden and High Reaches flying stronger wings than Igen. Unrelatedly, W'rin made an offer that I couldn't refuse." In the sense of being an order. "When he made me this offer I denied ever having said anything to any goldrider that impugned the fighting strength of Igen. That wasn't true. I've had sevendays to think about it and I'm sorry." He doesn't seem to be done either, but he stops there before he burries her in all these totally unrelated and yet cause-and-effect-like happenstances.

Mayte is definitely watching thse slow deep breaths calmly, though her eyebrows jump momentarily at the salutation. She does listen to F'dan's whole story without interruption, but when he pauses after his apology, Mayte only shakes her head a little, asking brightly, "But what does that have to do with me?" Lah, sir, she is innocent of any implied charges, "I mean, it's rather nice that you now think that Igen is the fighting equal to Benden or High Reaches, but surely," Mayte's voice drops to a more usual raspy Mayte-like tone, "you wouldn't apologize to me when it's the Weyrleader you'd lied to?" The mug is set back on the desk so she can lace her fingers in her lap and look up at the bronzerider assistant blandly.

Well, here is where things could all go to hell in a handbasket. F'dan has made his choice though, and once he's set his mind on something nothing will hold him back. Except for Sienna's advice about saying things to W'rin directly: F'dan is going to keep his true opinions for later in an act of potentially suicidal overshare with his Weyrleader. No need to say now to Mayte that Benden and Reaches could still outfly Igen with a hand tied behind their back; F'dan intends to say that — edited slightly — to the biggest, angriest man in the Weyr. The only sign of what's going on internally is that F'dan sets his jaw, the joint bulging slightly as he grinds his teeth. Goldrider, untouchable. Goldrider, untouchable. It's a new mantra. "I'm apologizing to you for saying it, ma'am. That's the right way to do things. And if you give me permission, I'd like to be the one to tell the Weyrleader that I lied to him. He deserves to hear it from me. Of course it's your prerogative to tell him yourself. I accept that." He has the wary set to his shoulders of someone bracing for a blow which they have accepted. Sometimes being a man means taking what's due to you. "I deserve an actual punishment, ma'am."

Oh yeah. Mayte sees that gritting of teeth, the bulging jaw… And yet, she continues sweetly, "Why apologize to me, wingrider F'dan? I'm merely a goldrider who knows nothing of flying Thread, or dragons…" She goes so far as to blink once, slowly. Her face is solemn and almost sorrowful as she provides some news: "Alas, wingrider, we will have to tell him jointly." In other words, Mayte intends to be there to watch this. Maybe sell popcorn. "I also need to bring him some news of my own." Apparently the news is so unfortunate that her voice drops a little: "It's about your friend, R'xim." For a moment, something flashes across Mayte's face but disappears behind wide, beseechingly innocent eyes, "Have you seen him today? Is he doing alright? Did he get enough sleep?" For once, Mayte's dropping some of the innocent act, her tone inquiring for inquiry's sake.

The sweetness makes it even worse. F'dan likes his women sweet and demure rather than being honey drizzled over a layer of steel. He wants to bite back that of course she knows nothing of flying Thread: the weyrwomen spend less time preparing for it than any chromatic rider in the Weyr, and it's W'rin who leads them to fight. For the sake of peace though he keeps a hold on that thought, nails scraaaaatching over his leathers as if he wishes it were someone's face. "I'm apologizing to you because I shouldn't have said it in your presence, ma'am. That's all." To the suggestion that they speak to W'rin together F'dan inclines his head. "As you wish. There are things I'd like to say to him that I can't say with you there, though." Not to say she can't come, but so she's aware. You know, man stuff. So far F'dan's more or less keeping it together, but mention of R'xim makes his eyes light up — and not in a good way. His body doesn't move so much as change, the lines of it suddenly taut. "R'xim's back in the Infirmary." Purely factual.

"Mmm," Mayte sounds thoughtful, as her hand drifts to her admittedly tightly pants-clad hip to scratch a little, "I can't imagine why you'd ever think so much of me," if that's sarcasm, Mayte's tone is utterly devoid of it, "as to apologize for something that you would say to any other person. Because that's what you mean, right?" As for R'xim, Mayte nods: "Good." For a moment, the corners of her lips curl and the goldrider might actually be smiling for a second. Her tone is almost gentle: "Did you know he has a boat up at Tillek?" Even Mayte seems surprised about it, but after a moment, she asks, the soul of regret, "He told you why he's had to go back to the infirmary, right?"

F'dan might never get over women in tight trousers, but over half a turn at Igen and his reaction to Oldtimers' sartorial excesses has been muted almost beyond recognition. They'll wear what they'll wear; he has far bigger fish to fry — like trying not to storm out or flip over a table. There's a tight wriggling mass ofsomething eating at his chest and he feels like he's going to burst. He needs to drink or lay with a woman or punch someone or something, and instead he's here keeping his face in a stony neutrality. He's not a good man to get angry, but he's not stupid enough to make a thing of it in the archives either. He bears grudges until they're cold. For a long time he just looks at Mayte, eyes as blank as snow in the turn-round tundra up north. "I respect the senior weyrwoman, yourself and weyrwoman Linny," he says finally, words veeeery carefully chosen, "but W'rin is my Weyrleader, ma'am. I answer to him before anyone else alive." There are plenty of things that should only be said to his commanding officer. F'dan's grown up with the military chain of command bred in the bone; he doesn't need lectures in it from a woman who leads the support side of the Weyr. To R'xim's name F'dan's face stays cold. "Yes ma'am. He was involved in an altercation last night. He believed that he was protecting you, ma'am." Maybe if he says the title enough it will hide the ice in him. And this encounter began so well! But the struggle of doing the better thing is big enough without grumpy weyrwomen in the way.

Mayte's grin turns bright and open: "That's sure nice of you to say," she drops the innocent-little-me act for a moment, "but it'd be nicer if I really thought you meant it." Sailing right over the comment on W'rin, Mayte continues, a little more modestly, "He shouldn't have been." Is that regret? "I was sincerely hoping Thom would… fuck off, at least," At least, right? "But I'll certainly be telling W'rin that R'xim," yes, she insists on using his name, "didn't start the fight, and I'm sure he would have merely insisted Ol' Thom apologize politely." A return to innocence as Mayte takes up her mug again, "Right?" As if there's no question at all about R'xim's behaviour the night before.

That scratch of F'dan's nails again and he leans forward slightly, ramrod straight back inclining towards Mayte. "If I didn't respect you, weyrwoman, I wouldn't have sat here through this. I wouldn't have apologized to you. Whatever we feel about each other, ma'am, I have nothing but the greatest of respect for your knot." Personal differences are a fact of life, but rank — that matters. For a moment it feels as if the atmosphere could drop a further thirty degrees in here, but Mayte says just about the only thing that could slow F'dan's downward spiral. Mayte is given a long alert look, a magpie inspecting a piece of metal, before F'dan nods. "Right. I'm sure that you know what happened best, weyrwoman." And that last bit isn't confrontational at all, an agreement rather than a dig.

"Ergo," Mayte is still that I-know-and-I-know-you-know soft, almost kind acceptance. But she doesn't explain that. Instead, she returns F'dan's inspection and mmms: "Well. I would certainly adore accepting your apology, but I still don't know why you're making it. If it's because you spoke badly about the Weyr?" Mayte's eyebrow aches gently, "Then it's the Weyr that should be apologized to. If it's to the Weyrleader for lying to him, then," one hand waves, "Well, you're going to take care of that," a little grin, "When I go to speak with the Weyrleader myself…" Mayte sips thoughtfully from her mug, watching F'dan long and sloe-eyed. "Actually, R'xim knows exactly what happened," she says cooly, "and how much it hurt." A moment later, she's back to grinning: "Isn't it so nice when we agree?"

"It's your prerogative to accept or not accept my apology as you see fit," F'dan replies with what might be the stiffest shrug in Pernese history. "Privilege of your knot." He's rapidly losing any preference on whether she does. There's only so long that the afterglow of Sienna's reassurance can last: the influence of Igen's sweetest woman isn't limitless on Igen's coldest-eyed man. One last shot, but he's already desperate to be gone and hurt something. "I will apologize to W'rin and accept my punishment." The Weyr isn't mentioned. It's not served by platitudinous lies. "I'm apologizing to you for disrespecting your rank. A weyrwoman deserves better. You don't have to believe me, but I mean it." The line about R'xim hurting makes a little tremor of something rush over F'dan, his eyes sharpening to points for the briefest of moments. It's something he would say — something Zeyta would say — and for a moment he wonders… But no, there's none of that sister-self echo there is in Zeyta. Just false charm and dislike and enjoyment in getting one over on him, nothing so exquisitely sharp as what Zeyta offers. "Just tell me when you want to see W'rin and I'll be there." His gaze is steady, even. He isn't worried by the concept of punishment; he's made his decision and that's no longer optional.

For a long moment, Mayte just looks at F'dan, almost blankly, except her eyes are too dark to be thoughtless. She watches him until even the Archivist is 'ahem'ing, and then for a moment longer. Finally, finally, Mayte offers a grin; in fact, it's pretty close to a friendly one: "Than you for that, F'dan," no formalities now, "Apology accepted." There's a pause left for if he'd like to say a 'you're welcome', but after a moment, Mayte picks it up again, "I'll let you know." If F'dan hasn't picked up on it by now… Well. "Speaking of such things, have you seen Wingleader Zeyta lately?" Oops, not off the hook juuuuuust yet.

Luckily F'dan is good at long stares — as Rix sometime. The look is held, held, held, far beyond what's polite or comfortable. After Mayte accepts his apology there's no 'you're welcome', instead a quiet "thank you ma'am" given. If he's going to respect rank he might as well go the whole hog. The casual drop of Zeyta's name elicits no overt reaction from F'dan; he wouldn't have been half as successful a philanderer as he is if he couldn't keep those responses to himself. Instead he smiles, a neutral expression devoid of emotion. "Now and again. Of course I saw her a lot more when we were wingmates." No need to bring up his visits to her weyr. His only suicidal urge at the moment is W'rin-facing.

The 'thank you' passes by with hardly a nod; Mayte is watching F'dan from behind her mug, her eyes fixing on his smile for a moment, "Of course, of course." And yet, all good things must come to an end… "She had many… complimentary things to say about you." If 'many' is a stretch, Mayte's not letting on. A moment of silence and then Mayte smiles again: "Well, F'dan, I'll let you know when I have a chance to speak to the Weyrleader - I'll have Rhiscorath bespeak Kadanth to let you know." It's pretty much a cheerful 'buh-bye', but then Mayte 'seems' to remember something: "Oh, and if you have a chance, let R'xim know I was serious about Vintner?" Pause a beat, "I'm sure he'll remember what I mean." There's no further context, merely a polite smile and a nearly-perfect salute, marred only by the initial hesitation to give it.

Another one of those creaky shrugs. "It's better than the alternative, isn't it." Wouldn't want Zeyta saying bad things about him. He gets to his feet and returns the chair to where it was neatly pushed under a free desk before turning back to Mayte. Whatever curiosity he might have had about R'xim and Mayte is crushed under a weight of annoyance and agitation. If he doesn't do something soon he's going to scream. "Of course. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, ma'am." Where Mayte's salute is nearly-perfect F'dan's gets the full 10/10. He's been giving salutes to people he doesn't like for longer than Mayte's been alive. A crisp turn on his heel and F'dan's gone. The first Igenite who crosses his path will regret it.

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