Who

Zannen, Selaine

What

Selaine's just finishing up her duties from the day when she runs into Zannen again.

Backdated

When

It is evening of the nineteenth day of the sixth month of the fifteenth turn of the 12th pass.

Where

Nighthearth, The Tipsy Kitten

OOC Date 10 Nov 2018 05:00

 

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“I could be a horrible singer, you know."


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Nighthearth

A comfortable nook, this natural extension of the living room is cozily attired with overstuffed chairs and a couple of well-worn loveseats. All have been covered in various shades of green, giving the very incongruous appeal of a miniature forest hidden away inside… a grove of man-made proportion. Fish stews and spicy white-wherry chili are often kept hot on the minor hearths east and west of the main, for those whose hours defy when meals are kept. Ornate, the largest hearth towers high, rich with carving and utilitarian in fashion: it holds court by providing the weyr with rich klah, the air thick with the scent of cinnamon wafting.


Well, now it's behaving more like winter. Rain and cold keep everyone indoors as much as possible, save for the most diehard sailors and dragonriders on sweeps. Zannen, while he can handle being out on a ship in foul weather, doesn't relish the thought and has escaped the prospect, fulfilling his obligations in the morning and escaping to the Weyr proper thereafter. Here he sits in the Nighthearth following dinner, a mug of klah and a plate of pastries near at hand as he lounges in a comfortable chair, a book in hand and his firelizards curled up at various spots available on his body…which change from time to time.

It just so happens that Selaine was one of the unfortunate ones that had to do sweeps in the cold rain… Which would explain why she enters this cozy little nook while removing a fairly wet leather jacket. The blazing hearths is a welcome warmth as she hangs her jacket on one of the empty chairs closest to one of the hearths. Her hair is let loose, having been pinned into a tight bun to fit under her helmet during her sweeps, before she goes about helping herself to the fish stew. It isn't until she's nice and settled in one of those chairs does she notice a familiar face. "Ah, good evening. Lovely night, isn't it?" she greets with a soft chuckle.


Zannen looks up as soon as he hears boot-steps, smiling when he notices that his new company is a familiar greenrider. Yet she's so focused on getting out of her wet gear and trading it for some hot food that he decides it's best not to interrupt, much to his amusement. He's smirking deeply by the time she settles and spots him, his book poised open in his hand but ignored now. "Evenin', green rider Selaine," he counters with a dip of his head. "Sure, lovely one. If ye're a fish." He glances at her sodden jacket near the big hearth. "Couldn't escape it today, aye?"

Selaine lets out a quiet laugh as she looks over at her jacket as well, "Dolphineer Zannen," she adds in response to his greeting. "And no, unfortunately. But, I'm done now. Got a warm hearth and some delicious fish stew to get rid of this chill…" And even as she says it, a shiver runs down her spine. Her gaze shifts, moving to the book in his hands and the lazing 'lizards. "I hope I didn't interrupt your reading?"

Zannen wrinkles his nose slightly at Selaine's titling of him, though chuckles a bit. "Let's just agree on names in casual company, aye?" he suggests, a gives the greenrider a quick grin. "Seems like a hot bath would round it out well," he adds, and the gestures at her bowl with his free hand. "Eat, eat. Didn't interrupt me at all. Can't sit here and expect not t'have others walk in on me, after all." He gives her a wink and flips the book shut. "Just stallin' til I have to make the trip back t' the complex, anyhow. Not lookin' forward to it. The wet doesn' bother me, just the cold. Always some adjustment for me when winter kicks in."

"Zannen, then," Selaine agrees with a grin in return as she meets his gaze. "A hot bath is definitely in order after this," she says as she raises the bowl slightly. "Can't enjoy a bath with a rumbling stomach." And as if to emphasize the point, her stomach responds with a low grumble. She clears her throat slightly with a sheepish look. "Ah, well, I can certainly relate… It's always an adjustment for me as well… but I tend to have to adjust to it a bit quicker." She tosses him a quick wink after she gestures to her wet jacket before scooping up a spoonful of that soup.

"Because of yer sweeps?" Zannen asks, shifting in his seat and rousing his slumbering fair. The firelizards utter various protests but just prowl until the man settles, choosing new spots and curling up again. "Does Akitith mind the cold so much, or not really because of ::between::?" Something he's never really considered, apparently.

Selaine nods as she swallows, "Yes. It's rain or shine for us out there. The jackets can only help so much… Even with the extra precautions… when you're out there for several candlemarks, anything can get soaked through." And she's fairly used to it by now… but it doesn't mean she hates it any less. "She doesn't mind the cold much… dragons have a slightly higher internal temperature so they can tolerate the cold a little bit better… but it also depends on the dragon on whether or not they mind it or like it… Akitith is fairly neutral, though she prefers the warmth, of course." Then she pauses, thinking, or perhaps asking. "She says she doesn't pay attention to the temperature ::between::… because the time spent there is very short at any given time…"

Zannen hums his comprehension into his mug as he takes a sip of klah, sighing in satisfaction as the hot drink warms his insides. "Who'd want t'pay attention to the temperature ::between?:: Can't feel anythin' but bone-numbin' cold anyway," he notes ruefully. "At least this isn't the Barrier. Place gives Reaches a run fer it's marks Turn-round. So Kyara tells me, anyhow."

"We poor humans have to pay attention to it, whether we like it or not," Selaine notes with a soft laugh before helping herself to more of the soup. Then she's listening quietly as Zannen mentions the Barrier. "Never been then, I take it?" she asks with an amused lift of a brow. "I've had to stop there a few times on some errands…" An involuntary shudder runs through her. "This weather feels like a tropical paradise in comparison."

Zannen shakes his head, looking dubious about the prospect. "Never had any call to. Not much for Seacrafters t'do there, really. Save fer…ice fishin', maybe." Which seems to pique his curiosity momentarily. He grins again to see Selaine shudder. "I take it ye weren't fond, either? I've heard they've got excellent places t'eat, though." Good food is certainly a somewhat redeeming quality, in his eyes.

This time it's Selaine's turn to shake her head. "No, not fond in the least…" She takes another spoonful of soup to warm herself up just from the thought of the place… then she's pointing that self-same spoon not long after at him. "Ah! Yes, the food there is quite delicious. Aside from that…" The spoon goes back in the bowl with a shrug, as if to say she can't think of any other possible redeeming qualities about the place.

“Hmmm. That might be motivation t’brave the cold sometime, then,” Zannen supposes, taking a moment to consider all that he’d have to do to prepare for such a venture before actually being ready to do so. “So, how’re yer kids?” he ventures after that, smirking as he lifts his klah mug again. “What do they get up to when their ma’s off doin’ dragonridery things?”

“Well if you ever need a ride, if I’m not busy, I can probably take you,” Selaine offers before setting aside her bowl and relaxing fully into the chair. As for her kids… “They’re doing well,” she starts as she considers, “And staying out of trouble, I’m hoping, with all the other weyrbrats.” A soft chuckle as she runs fingers through damp hair. “And how are you holding up with the change in seasons? Can’t be out there everyday with your dolphins, after all.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Thank ye,” Zannen says to Selaine’s offer with wink and a tilted smile. He chuckles softly to her hope that her children are staying out of trouble, then sighs when she asks after his own state. “Winter’s always hardest. I’m used t’bein’ without Tiro an’ the rest for th’ cold months, but I always miss ‘em anyway. I do some teachin’ an’ fishin’ an’ repair work in the meantime…but I’ll admit t’gettin’ bored far too easy while I’m waitin’ fer spring t’come back ‘round.” His klah mug tips her direction as a sandy brow lifts jauntily. “‘S why I come up to th’ Weyr proper more. Good company helps.”

“You’re very welcome,” Selaine replies with a warm smile of her own. There was still the whole ‘going to visit Kyara’ thing, too… The greenrider listens carefully to Zannen, watching him for a moment before letting her gaze drift to the blazing fire in the nearby hearth and then back. “Well, sounds like you’re keeping yourself at least a little busy,” she notes with a soft chuckle. Eyes drift to the book in his lap, “And read by the fire,” she notes with another smile. “I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve sat down with a good book… What were you reading?”

Zannen finds himself studying Selaine a little as she looks to the fire, doing his best to be discreet about it. “I’m likely t’cause mischief if I don’t,” he says to her first. There’s a soft grunt as he picks up his book again. “Oh, just…some poetry, actually. Somethin’ Kyara got me interested in a while back. Epic poems of some noted 11th Interval Harpers. This collection is called…” He turns the book to its spine to read off, “Tales of Sky and Sea.” He gives a little shrug. “I don’t like all of ‘em, but the good ones have a little o’ everythin’. Adventurin’, mystery, romance, intrigues.”

Selaine catches him staring when she looks back at him… though she’s not certain that he was staring but it does elicit a light flush on her cheeks when her attention goes to the book. An eyebrow lifts slightly when he reveals that it’s a book of poems. There’s a small, tilted smile for him at his last. “Those are definitely the best kinds. I was never overly fond of reading poems, myself… Though I suppose I didn’t read as much as maybe I should have. I focused more on music during my Harper days.” She glances to the side as the memories come back, eliciting another small smile and then back to Zannen. “Got a favorite in there?”

Zannen can’t help but give a little grin when he spots Selaine’s blush. “Gotta be in a particular mood for ‘em,” he says of his own reading of poetry, setting the book back down. “‘S not fer ev’ryone, so I don’t think ‘should’ve’ has anythin’ t’do with it.” Calloused fingers drum the cover lightly as he picks up his klah for another sip. “Ky was always focused on th’ music, too. Never could get th’ hang of readin’ that, no matter how many times she tried t’show me. But readin’… She was a player, too, so there’s was some o’ it.”

Sea blue eyes flick to the greenrider’s face as she glances away, and the corner of the dolphineer’s mouth lifts at her last question. “Well, I’m more partial to th’ ones dealin’ with the sea, o’ course. There’s a recountin’ of a poem from…the Ninth Pass, I think. Written at Half Circle Sea Hold. Talks about th’ Holder’s son rediscoverin’ the dolphins an’ such. Not sure how true parts of it are, but I remember hearin’ it a long time ago and likin’ it. This version ain’t bad.” He tilts his head, quietly studying her a moment. “What did ye play as a Harper?” he asks, quietly curious. “Or did ye sing?”

Selaine lets out a soft laugh, “I suppose you’re right. Not everyone can quite understand the subtle nuances of poems, especially when they seem to make no sense.” She could remember struggling to understand them, herself, in her early days. Her own gaze attempts to be discreet as she observes him for a moment, watching the way his hand wraps around the mug of klah before she looks over at the pot of klah and considering getting a cup for herself. “Reading music is certainly a bit more challenging,” she agrees with a chuckle. “I’m sure Kyara was just a little disappointed you couldn’t quite get it.” A teasing smile as she glances over at him, just imagining perhaps the sibling banter the two must’ve shared.

Her fingers tap absently on the arm of the chair as she purses her lips for a moment, staring at the hearth. “Ah… well, that does make sense,” She notes with a smile as she looks back over at him when he answers her inquiry. “I’ve only read a bit about the history of how dolphins were rediscovered… you’ll have to tell me about it sometime.” The greenrider begins to stand, making her way over to the klah pot. “Me? I sang, mostly, though I’m not quite sure how good I was at it,” she admits with another chuckle as she pours herself a cup of klah. “I tried playing a few different instruments… I was only an apprentice when I got Searched so I never got far.”

“If ye really want t’hear it, I’d be glad t’tell what I know,” Zannen says to the prospect of sharing some dolphineering history. “Mayhap over a drink some evenin’?” It seems a good angle to approach from, after trying to figure out how to ask without the question seeming apropos of nothing. He watches Selaine cross to get some klah, shifting a little in his seat and forcing his firelizards to adjust themselves once more. “Singin’, eh?” He tilts his head a little again, propping his head on a few fingers against his temple. “I can see that. Ye look like a singer.”

From where she stands, expression not in view, Selaine smiles, almost triumphantly, though that disappears when she turns around with a full cup of klah. “That sounds like a great idea. I look forward to that. Still need to figure out when I can fly out to see Kyara too…” she makes her way back to her seat and settles back in, breathing in the lovely smell of hot klah. This time she tilts her own head a little as she looks over at him, “Do I?” she asks with a tilted smile before taking a slow slip of her klah, letting it thoroughly warm her. “I could be a horrible singer, you know,” she says with a light laugh.

There’s a muffled hum at mentioned of Kyara as Zannen tilts his mug to his lips and drains it. “I think she’d be fer a visit any time, though Igen is a kiln right now,” he points out. Then he grins to her last, broad shoulders hitching upward in a shrug. “I doubt ye’d have apprenticed if ye were,” he opines. “Ye do, at least to a more romantical mind. Keen eyes, a ready smile…pretty all around. Seems natural ye’d have a voice t’match.”

Selaine makes a soft humming sound, herself, at the mention of Igen’s current weather as she takes another thoughtful sip of her klah. “Mm… you’re right. Maybe not the best time to go right now… though I do want to see her soon.” She purses her lips lightly as she considers before tilting her head curiously again at him. His compliments elicit another flush to her cheeks. “You’ve… got quite a silver tongue, don’t you? Could give a Harper a run for his marks,” she notes with a soft laugh.

Another blush! Zannen counts it as a victory and grins at Selaine again, sea blue eyes dancing at her last. “I do well enough for m’self,” he replies, stretching out long legs to cross at the ankles. “But I do try not t’say what isn’t true when I exercise it.” His green firelizard chirrs sleepily from her spot around his neck, and he automatically reaches up to rub a soothing fingertip along her snout. “So. When might ye like t’see about a drink, hm?” he asks, one brow arching subtly in curiosity.

Selaine’s lips curl into an amused smile when he replies, her eyes shifting as he does, the flush still apparent on her cheeks. “A good rule to live by, I’m sure.” Who knows how many young girls would fall to those charms. Her fingers tap lightly on her mug as her gaze softens at the sound of the firelizard. “Well, I’m free most every other evening when I’m not on sweeps or the like… so…” She gives a light shrug as she looks down at the klah and back up again. “Oh, and I suppose I’m rather free now, considering…” she gives them both a little wave, indicating how they’re idly chatting away at the moment.

There were likely many who did fall to those charms! But Zannen has grown quite a bit since then, at least a little wisdom coming with age. Mental notes are made of Selaine’s broad schedule, and his smile goes cheekily crooked as she makes the little wave between them. “Aye, but are ye dried out? And do ye want to go back out into th’ rain so soon?” he asks. “I’d asked, but I figured ye’d want t’ thaw out an’ freshen up ‘n such. If it doesn’t bother ye so, however…” He tilts his head toward the living cavern and, by extension, the way out. “There’s th’ Kitten, ‘less ye fancy somewhere else.”

The greenrider looks down at herself before letting out a soft laugh. “Well, I’m as thawed out as I can be. Had some soup, some klah, and been sitting here by the fire… Though I suppose I certainly don’t look my best right now.” Selaine runs her fingers through hair. “I’d be more concerned that it would bother you. Many a days have I stopped by the Kitten after a sweep for a drink or two.” It’s Southern’s watering hole, after all.

“Yet I still said ye were pretty, didn’t I?” Zannen counters with a wink, and pushes to his feet, leaving all but his green firelizard to yawn themselves to true consciousness and figure out what they’ll be doing with themselves next. “Won’t bother me any. Though, if ye’re of a mind, mayhap ye might ask yer lifemate fer a bit ‘o cover?” He’s only half serious, but if her green is willing… He holds his hand down to her with a little half-bow attending. “I’m game if y’are, Selaine.”

“That you did,” Selaine replies with eyes dancing with amusement even as the color starts to creep back into her cheeks again. “Something you seem to like to remind me of, apparently…” She watches him get up from the chair from across the mug of klah as she takes another sip. “Hm? Oh, I’m sure Akitith wouldn’t mind…” An eyebrow lifts as he stands before her with that half-bow. Lips curl into a smile as she looks from his hand to his gaze, then she’s putting down the mug of klah and placing her hand in his. “And how could I say no to this?” she says with a soft chuckle before using his help to get up from the chair. In the meanwhile, she relays the message to her green. “Akitith will be waiting outside the caverns for us.”

“And I’ll keep doin’ it, if ye don’t mind terribly,” Zannen says to Selaine’s first with a wink as he draws up straight. “If ye’d pass on my thanks to Akitith, I’d be much obliged.” He touches his lips to her knuckles before slipping her hand to the crook of his arm and starting to walk with her toward the entrance. “I’m not keepin’ ye from anythin’ by this, am I? Time at home with yer kids or some such thing?”

“No… I don’t mind at all,” Selaine replies with a soft laugh, smile widening. There is visible surprise when his lips touch her knuckles, accompanied by a slight flutter in her belly. It almost causes her to stutter on her next. “.. I’ll be sure to do that.” Her arm settles in the crook of his arm as they both make their way to the entrance. “No, not at all. Days like this they usually stay in the nursery with the other weyr kids. No point in having them for just a night when I’ve still duties to attend to the next day.”

“Interestin’. I’d always wondered how that was handled, when dragonfolk wanted t’keep their kids rather ‘n fosterin’ ‘em,” Zannen muses, pausing by the threshold between the Nighthearth and the living caverns to snag his coat from a hook. He let go of Selaine’s arm for just a moment in order to put it on, then blinks and glances back at the damp jacket she’d hung up near the fire. “Have ye got anythin’ else t’keep warm with?”

“I want to be sure to be a part of my kids’ lives as much as I can, even though I’m a rider, I’m a mother too. I couldn’t stand just leaving others to care completely for my own children…” Brows furrow at the thought, though of course Selaine’s aware there are certainly riders who think a bit differently. Her arm goes to her side when Zannen goes about putting on his coat and she looks back at her own jacket. She gives him a sheepish smile. “No, not really, but I’ll be fine. The rest of me is fairly dry and we won’t be outside for long.”

Zannen utters a grunt that carries a tone of dissatisfaction as he considers what’s to be done. “Well, e’en so…” He unslings the jacket from his shoulders again and promptly drapes it around Selaine’s instead. “The sweater’ll do me for a short way,” he tells her with a smile as he makes certain she’s snugly in his jacket, then takes up her hand again to hook through his arm. Soon enough, they’re at the exit, and he peers into the gloom to spot Akitith. “I think it’s an admirable thing, wantin’ t’stay a part of your kids’ lives. Don’t think I could give my own up, were I a rider. For certain Ky wouldn’t.” And won’t, of course.

Before she can even protest, Zannen’s already putting his jacket around her. Not wanting to be ungrateful for his thoughtfulness, she smiles and gives him a soft thank you after its well and on. It won’t take long for the dolphineer to find Akitith, the green dragon making herself known as she brings her head close to the pair at the entrance to peer at Zannen with her multi-faceted eye. Then she’s straightening and holding out a wing for them to go under. Selaine smiles at the mention of Kyara again. “I didn’t think she would.” Then she’s glancing up at her dragon. “Thank you again, Akitith,” she says aloud for Zannen’s benefit. The pair might even be able to hear a soft huff from the dragon in reply as they leave the caverns under the protection of the green’s wing.

Zannen suppresses a shiver when the cooler air hits them abruptly. But he’s endured worse, and having a warm dragon body to block much of the unpleasantness help. He grins up at Akitith as they set out, then dropping his attention back down to Selaine. “So what’s been yet favorite thing about Southern thus far, since comin’ here?” he wants to know. “Igen had its charms, too, though mayhap it’s easier t’name th’ contrasts when y’aren’t part of a Craft that needs water t’be what it is.”

Selaine closes a bit of the distance between them as they walk when she notices just how cold it is outside. Hopefully some of her body heat helps. His question has her humming thoughtfully before she replies, “No sand.” A laugh escapes. “No sandstorms. I think that was one of the worst things about Igen for me. It’s nice not finding sand in every article of clothing no matter how many times you wash them.” And she couldn’t think of anything else that stood out more. “And yours? Other than the water, of course,” she says with a grin.

Zannen certainly doesn’t mind the space being closed between them! He laughs in turn, giving a little shake of his tousled head. “No desert sand, y’mean. It does tend t’get places beach sand can’t go, it seems. Heavier or somethin’,” he supposes. “Wasn’t fond of th’ sandstorms m’self. As fer me…” He hums in thought a moment before answering. “Th’ green. I will say Igen has better sunsets than here. So many colors over a desert y’can’t find over th’ water. But…there’s a lack of green there. Always been one of my favorite colors.” He smirks down at her knowingly, sea blue eyes dancing with quiet humor.

“Yes, desert sand,” Selaine agrees with another laugh, “Though I don’t go out to the beach enough here to get sand in anything.” But there must be something about the two sands that makes one less annoying. The greenrider hums in agreement. “Yes, it certainly is much more colorful here.” She looks up with him, grinning. “I am certainly quite partial to the color, myself, of course… but blue is my favorite color. No offense, Akitith.” Another huff, to which Selaine responds with another laugh.

“Oh-ho, really now?” Zannen laughs as they come closer to the swinging door that marks the entrance to the Kitten. There’s another grin up at Selaine’s green before he steps forward to hold the door open for her to pass, warm light flooding out to greet them. “Any particular sort of blue?” Once they’re in, he pauses to take the jacket from her shoulders, reflexively brushing back the hair he takes with it in the process and smirking somewhat sheepishly at her when he realizes what he’s done, hanging up the jacket on a hook just beside the entry. Hopefully she doesn’t mind all that much.

Once the pair arrive nice and dry at the entrance of the tavern, Akitith retreats and they can hear her take off as Selaine lets out another light laugh. The warmth of the Kitten is a welcome one as they step through the doors. “Mm… the color of the sky on a cloudless day,” she replies as she looks back at him just as he moves to help her take off the jacket. There’s surprise in her eyes as he brushes her hair but she doesn’t seem to mind as she returns the smile with a shy one of her own. Then she’s looking around for an empty table as she tucks some hair behind an ear. “Did you want to sit at the bar or a table?” she asks, glancing back at him.

“A color ye get t’see often, I imagine,” Zannen notes, not having really moved yet. “When it’s not bucketing out, o’ course.” His lips curve in echo of the shy smile Selaine gives…and he nearly doesn’t register her question. “Oh! Ah… Let’s take a table. Though a stop at th’ bar t’order drinks first,” he suggests, and offers her his arm again before they head that way. “Can’t d’cide if I want somethin’ warm or just strong.”


“Yes, exactly,” Selaine agrees, “And I don’t mind the rain so much when I’m not on sweeps. Otherwise…” A sigh. Then she nods, “Sounds like a plan.” Her arm slips through that crook in his arm again, smiling as they make their way there. She hums softly, thinking, “I think something warm, for me… but what exactly?” Another hum. “What’s your go-to drink, normally?”

It isn’t far to the bar, prompting another pause in progress as Zannen considers the array of bottles behind it. “Normally? Straight rum.” He eyes Selaine sidelong, sea blue eyes dancing with amusement. “Is that too on th’ nose fer a sailor? Mayhap I ought t’add somethin’. Ginger beer ‘n citrus is good with it…” He smirks deeply and gives a shake of his head. “What’s yours?”

Selaine’s lips curl into an amused smile as she glances over at him, that same amusement reflected in her own eyes. “A bit typical, I suppose, but nothing wrong with that.” She laughs lightly before looking over those bottles behind the bar as well. “Me? I usually go for a simple glass of wine. White, preferably, though I’ll try most anything once. Not too warming though…” The fingers of her free hand tap lightly on the bar counter. “Got any suggestions?”

As Selaine mentions her drink of choice, Zannen is studying her as though trying to decide whether it matches her or not. “Hmmm…” Suggestions to cover what they both might want. “Mayhap…spiced cider with a shot of rum. Warm, and warmin’, but not too much, I think. Seem like a thing t’try t’you?”

The greenrider glances over at Zannen, tilting her head curiously as she notices him studying her. Selaine’s lips pull into another amused smile before she’s considering his suggestion. “Hmm… that does sound quite delicious, actually.” Her smile widens, “I think I’ll go with that. And what’ll you be getting then?” She looks away from him for a moment, trying to catch the bartender’s attention.

“The same, o’ course,” Zannen replies with a cheeky flash of his teeth before lifting his hand to get the bartender’s attention alongside her. And assuming they’re soon successful, he also tacks on an order of wherry dip with bread before taking Selaine to a two-person table in a quieter niche of the place. Not that it’s terribly rowdy at the moment. “I’m glad this worked out,” he tells her, pulling the chair for her to sit down. “I’d been tryin’ t’ figure a good way t’ask ye since meetin’ ye on the beach.”

Selaine’s smile widens into a grin at his response, chuckling softly as the bartender finally comes over to take their order. The greenrider is quiet as she studies Zannen for a moment, then they’re making their way to a table. Even as she’s sitting down, about to say thank you when he’s admitting his last. She blinks in surprise. “You have?” And then she’s remembering her manners and saying ‘thank you’ as she settles in her seat.

“Aye.” Zannen doesn’t really look abashed about saying so, though his cheeks might be a little more ruddy as he moves around to settle in his own chair. “Once I knew who ye were, rememberin’ what Ky told me about ye, then weighin’ ye fer myself… I just felt it’d be somethin’ I’d like t’do. A little tricky, tryin’ to figure th’ best approach when…y’know. Ye’ve kids, an’ mayhap y’might not’ve been interested after…everythin’.” He reaches up to rub his neck, making a bit of a face as he becomes dissatisfied with they way his words are coming. He clears his throat a little. “Didn’ want t’overstep.”

And of course there’s color in Selaine’s cheeks as well, certainly feeling quite flattered. She gives him a crooked smile when he clears his throat. “Well, you seem to have definitely put a lot of thought into it…” Her smile is warm as it widens. “I would’ve thought, honestly, that my kids would scare most people off…” She laughs lightly. “I didn’t think anyone would be interested… really…”

“Anyone’d be a fool t’be scared off by yer kids.” Zannen looks genuinely perplexed at the notion. “What’s not t’be interested in? Bein’ a mother who cares for ‘er kids seems t’say a lot, t’me. Ye’ve patience to ye, and it also tells me ye’d have t’know how t’lay down th’ law or be gentle, whichever’s called fer. Mothers ‘n riders both need strength an’ t’ know how t’think fast. All o’ it just makes ye more lovely.” Smiling warmly at Selaine once more, he leans forward to rest his arms on the table, one hand offered with an upturned palm. “Aye, I’ve put a lot o’ thought into it. I’d hope I know how by now.”

Selaine fidgets slightly in her seat, getting a little shy again with so much praise… She can’t quite recall the last time so much has been said about her. The color darkens on her cheeks as she looks down at his upturned palm. Another glance upward, blue meeting blue as she returns his smile, lifting her hand to place in his larger one. Her smile widens, “Well… I’m certainly glad that’s how you feel…” She chuckles softly, “Makes me not know quite what to say… I only hope maybe I don’t disappoint with how well you think of me.”

The fact that Zannen is quite pleased shows in the brightening of his eyes as Selaine places her hand in his, and his fingers curl gently around hers as his grin grows. “Well, I’m hopin’ t’get t’know ye beyond this one drink, o’ course,” he notes. “Winter’s a good time fer such things, after all…” Then their drinks and his bit of food arrives, and he sits back a little, though doesn’t give up the greenrider’s hand just yet. He voices his thanks to the server and slides the little bowl of wherry dip and the bread that goes with it to the midpoint between them. “Help yerself. I love this stuff,” he enthuses, taking up a bit of bread and loading it with the dip. It occupies his mouth for a good long moment before he’s able to take a drink of cider. “Mmm. Aye, this was a good choice.” He watches her expectantly, eager to see what she makes of the drink. And the dip, if she’s of a mind.

Selaine’s skin warms as his fingers curl around hers, eyes shifting down to stare at their hands for a moment. “I’d like to get to know you better, too,” she says as she lifts her gaze to meet his again. Her attention drifts to the server when their drinks and food arrives, noticing his continued grasp on her hand, which makes her smile again. Then she’s lifting her own drink, breathing in the wonderful spiced scent before taking a sip. Her head tilts slightly, considering the taste before nodding with a wide smile. “Delicious.” Then she’ll partake in some of the bread and dip as well, eyes widening as soon as she puts it in her mouth. “Mm!” that’s as much as she can say of her approval of that.

“See, this,” Zannen says, beaming over Selaine’s reception of their bit of food and drink, “is good cold weather fare, t’me. Glad ye like it.” He scoops up some more dip and brings it toward his mouth, but some doesn’t quite make it in and hits his chin instead. Now he has no choice but to let go of her hand in order to avoid further embarrassment. “Not th’ most graceful t’eat, but oh well,” he notes as he skims the stuff off his chin and licks it off his thumb, then wets a napkin and makes certain there’s nothing lingering in the long stubble that softens the angles of his chin and jaw.

Selaine takes her time chewing on that bit of bread before swallowing, lips spreading into a smile again after she does so. “It’s absolutely perfect,” she agrees, then takes another sip of her spiked cider, letting it warm her. “I certainly can’t complain about the weather when I can enjoy it this way.” Her gaze holds more warmth as she looks at Zannen, then giggling as he makes a bit of a mess. She watches him as he attempts to clean but she can see he’s missing a spot. “Here… let me help,” she leans forward slightly to reach across the table to try and take that napkin from him.

“Makes it more bearable, aye,” Zannen agrees a bit distractedly. He looks a bit surprised when Selaine reaches for the napkin, but obligingly allows her to snag it with a smirk. “Guess ye’d see it better ‘n me,” he supposes, and holds still, looking a touch sheepish as he lets her get at whatever he’s missing.

Selaine gives Zannen a crooked smile when she catches his expression, wiping away the dip that had somehow gotten caught in his stubble. Perhaps it was just her motherly instincts or not… either way, when she’s done, she leans back with just a bit of color to her cheeks. “There, much better,” she says with a soft chuckle. “What would you have done without me?” she teases lightly before taking another sip of her cider.

The thought crosses Zannen’s mind concerning motherly instincts on Selaine’s part…but he decides not to say anything. “Walked around lookin’ half-drunk, I s’pose,” he answers wryly, leaning forward onto his forearms and taking another pull from his own cider. “So I’m curious,” he ventures, turning his mug a little on its base once he sets it down, “when’s the last time ye’ve been out with someone like this?”

“Good thing I was around then, hm?” Selaine says with a quick wink, wrapping both hands around the cup of cider, elbows resting on the table. His question has her looking thoughtful, bringing the cup to her lips and slowly slipping at it. “Mm… a few Turns…?” She responds after a few moments, pulling the mug away from her lips, a bit more color on her cheeks again. A soft laugh escapes. “It’s been a while.”

Zannen is watching Selaine carefully as she answers, blue eyes glinting subtly with impish delight at being able to make her blush again. “Same fer me,” he admits with a tilted smile. “Or close to it, anyway. So. I’m glad ye wanted to. Fer a few reasons.” Another good swatch of dip gets taken care of, more cider downed. All relaxed. Even if it’s been a while for them both, he seems rather at ease with her, at least.

There’s genuine surprise in Selaine’s eyes when Zannen admits the same, fingers tapping lightly on her mug. “Glad you asked,” she replies with another smile, her own gaze dancing slightly before sipping more of the cider, feeling it warm her blood as well as her belly. The greenrider seems well at ease around him as well, though perhaps certainly a bit more self-conscious with what he’s admitted to her. She takes his example and eats some more of that dip, “If I might ask… was there any particular reason?” Her head tilts curiously, realizing her question was a bit vague, she adds, “Time-wise, I mean.” She was a bit too shy at the moment to ask him about the other ‘reasons’.

Now it’s Zannen’s turn to look thoughtful. However, there’s a certain abashedness to him as he considers, his eyes dropping to consider how much of the dip remains as the corner of his mouth quirks upward. “Well…there was a shift, y’might say,” he finally manages to articulate, tearing off one more piece of bread to scoop up some of the last of the dip. “I’m not e’en completely sure in what way, mind. But when I was younger, just after comin’ here…I had a lot o’ fun.” A brow lifts a little as his eyes flick back up to hers, implication heavy in that little shift of expression. “Things’re much more open at a Weyr. Flights provided lots o’ opportunities. I’ve never been a cad, mind. Never saw th’ point. But never wanted t’settle, either. Mayhap it was seein’ Ky find someone t’be happy with finally; I don’t know. But I just suddenly decided I might want that fer m’self sometime. So I stopped bein’…I think frivolous is th’ word.”

He smiles again, a small, quiet thing in comparison to his beaming grins as he holds her gaze. “Consequences o’ flights still happen. But otherwise, my reason is basically wantin’ somethin’ more. Which…I hope isn’t off-puttin’.”

Blue-eyed gaze focuses more on Zannen now as his expression changes, and Selaine is once more surprised with his abashedness. She listens attentively, watching him drop his gaze and allowing hers to study his face a bit more. A blink when he meets her gaze again, hers dropping for just a bit before lifting and feeling her lips quirk into a slight smile at the implications of his words. The greenrider’s expression is not judgemental in the least — as he says, a Weyr is very open and she’s been a rider long enough to know exactly how things are.

She returns his smile, “No, not at all. I can certainly understand.” There’s a quiet moment as she thinks again, fingers tapping. “And you don’t mind… having that someone be a rider, possibly? A greenrider, no less?” The implications of her words were clear.

Zannen is quick to shake his head, though the motion isn’t vehement. “I know what comes with it. Been here long enough, after all, not t’mention havin’ a sister on green.” Not that he’s been privy to details, but he certainly knows enough. Those tapping fingers catch his eye, and his hand shifts, fingertips skimming over the back of hers and his gaze following the motion. “If the greenrider doesn’t mind knowin’ I’ve a mind toward somethin’ beyond a bit o’ fun…well.” He finds her eyes again, the lopsidedness of his smile a bit more prominent. “S’pose I’ll have judged well t’night.”

There’s a very subtle sign of relief at his response, though Selaine had expected as much. Why bother telling her so much when he wasn’t aware of everything else involved with being with a rider? Her gaze drops to their hands when his warm fingers touch hers. She lifts her eyes to meet his, returning his smile. “No… she doesn’t mind in the least,” she replies as her hand shifts, moving from the mug to hold his hand, fingers twined lightly with his.

Verbosity! It might be a familial trait. Regardless, Zannen has given his explanation and been well received, and his grin returns as Selaine fits her fingers between his. He chuckles lightly, eyes dancing over the edge of his mug as he takes a final sip. “Now I warn ye, I might not be a cad,” he tells her, “but I can be a tease. Might have t’give me a punch in th’ arm every now an’ then.”

A brow lifts slightly at Zannen as Selaine pushes aside her now empty mug with her free hand. “I will definitely keep that in mind,” she notes with a soft laugh, her fingers playing lightly with his. “Might give you a punch… or reciprocate in kind.” A slight smirk meets his gaze as she looks up at him, “Though not sure I’m too good at that so maybe I’ll just stick to the punching.”

Zannen utters a soft, low laugh at that, thoroughly appreciative. “Ye can always try,” he counters with a wink, letting his fingers yield to the bit of playing Selaine is doing. “Ye never know what might make me blush, after all.” He’s done a little of it, so she at least knows it’s possible! “Have ye been enjoyin’ yerself, Selaine?” he asks now, warmth replacing the teasing in his tone.

Selaine has definitely noted the few times that Zannen has blushed, and perhaps will now endeavor to discover other ways to get him to do so. “It’ll certainly be easier for you to do the teasing… you already seem to have quite a grasp on that already,” she points out lightheartedly, looking back down at their hands. His question has her looking up again, a warm smile on her lips. “Yes, immensely so. And yourself, Zannen?” She’d liked the way her name rolled off his lips… and how his rolled easily off hers.

Zannen’s smile this time is rather on the roguish side as Selaine answers in the positive. He nods, his free hand shoving back a bit of tousled hair that falls a little too far forward for his liking in the process. “Aye, very much. And ye can just call me Zan, if ye like.” His thumb grazes lightly along hers, an absent sort of action as he lets himself outright admire her a bit more openly. “It’s gettin’ late,” he observes nonchalantly. “Would ye like t’stay a bit longer, or go elsewhere? Or should I walk ye out t’ Akitith b’fore makin’ my walk back to th’ docks?”

“Zan, then.” Selaine smiles as she repeats it in her head, tilting her head a bit as she watches him, eyes drawn to every movement. She lets out a soft nonchalant hum of her own when he mentions the time. A slight unfocusing of her eyes as she furrows her brows slightly. “As much as I would love to stay longer… I should probably hit the baths before turning in for the night… I’ve still sweeps in the morning.” And she couldn’t quite hide her displeasure at the thought.

“Mmmm.” A sound of both understanding and displeasure of his own, though Zannen has his own duties to tend to in the morning, of course. “Well, I can at least walk ye back toward the living cavern, aye?” he offers, rising and stepping to the side of the table but keeping her hand as he goes.

There is at least some consolation to the fact that neither of them are all too willing to part for the evening. Selaine smiles at him. “Of course.” She stands, shifting so that their hands are more comfortably clasped now that they’re standing. “Or you know… you could join me at the baths, too,” she notes in a low voice, chuckling softly as her thumb runs along the back of his hand. It hadn’t been a lie to say she was going to try to tease him as well.

Zannen is quite caught off guard by that suggestion, and it does bring some color to his cheeks. But he recovers quickly otherwise, eyes dancing mischievously down at Selaine as he turns, facing her. “So that’s how it’s t’be? Ye’ll tease me with temptation, aye?” he counters with a deep smirk, and his voice lowers into a more rumbling realm. “I could join ye, o’ course. But then ye might be stuck with me fer the ev’nin’, an’ I wouldn’t want t’impose.” A counter-tease…perhaps. It’s getting into the realm of perhaps not being able to tell so easily now. With a chuckle, he steps back and draws her toward the door to retrieve his jacket.

There’s no hiding the wide grin that spreads on Selaine’s lips when she sees the result of her words on his cheeks. She looks to be just a tad smug about it even after he recovers, countering her. Her own eyes dance with amusement, eyebrows lifting slightly as she follows him to the door. “You make it sound like being stuck with you would be a bad thing,” she says in response, eyes still twinkling with a bit of mischief as well.

That smugness on Selaine’s face and the glinting of her eyes in turn has Zannen studying her just a little more sharply now, though the fact that he’s enjoying the back-and-forth quite a bit is plain. He lifts his jacket from the hook and shakes it out a bit. “Always beware th’ warmest ones. They end up havin’ the most fire underneath,” he says with an air of quotation, and slings the jacket around her shoulders again, deliberately skimming a thumb along her chin as he finishes doing so. “Ye’re gonna try my gentlemanliness, Selaine. But if ye wish t’be stuck with me, it only takes a word.” So he cedes power to her, offering her his arm once more before taking them out into the night again. Hopefully Akitith is there, or else the walk to the living cavern is going to be a whole lot more brisk than the first one!

Selaine lets out a low chuckle, the edge of her lips curled into a slight smirk even as the jacket goes around her. She looks up at him, the skimming of his thumb making her lips part slightly as she takes in a quick breath. His ceding of power has her humming thoughtfully, hooking her arm through his as before. Akitith is indeed waiting for them, her form simply a dark shadow as her wing lifts, shielding them from the worst of the cold. And while she is tempted, she deliberates in her own mind as they walk toward the living caverns. It’s a quiet walk, though quick. When they get there, she turns to him, looking up to study his face for a moment.

“I do want to be stuck with you… but, maybe I shouldn’t tonight. I don’t want to have to kick you out at the crack of dawn.” She gives him a crooked smile, reaching a hand up to brush lightly against the stubble along his jaw.

Zannen is comfortable in the quiet, though his mind is anything but. It seems so ironic to him, that the step in the right direction he’d decided he might want only a few Turns ago has been waiting right under his nose, so to speak. At least, it’s what he hopes he’s stumbled across with Selaine. It certainly feels that way, and in rather short order, too. It makes him cautious, but better that than reckless, as his younger self might have been. There’s mild surprise when he finds himself back at the entrance to the caverns, his train of thought having sped the time past, apparently.

Selaine’s admission sends enough of a heated jolt through the dolphineer that he has to quietly brace against it. The chuckle that leaves him is as much a response to her words as it is venting. Then her touch to his jaw comes, riveting his attention even more completely than it had already been. “There’s a way ‘round that,” he notes wryly before he can stop himself. “But I understand.” His hand lifts to cover hers, and he shifts closer almost without thinking. “Mayhap…we might do this again t’morrow night? Or some other ev’ning when ye won’t have t’be wakin’ up for sweeps.”

Selaine’s answering smile to his response is followed by a soft chuckle. There’s a quiet, sharp intake of breath when he shifts closer, her hand warm in his. It has her whole body warming, his scent filling her senses as she takes just another step closer. Her mind is a whirl of thoughts that she has to organize for a moment before speaking, “Tomorrow…” It’s a soft murmur. She’s quite sure there’s no sweeps the day after and she’s not quite willing to wait much longer than that if she can help it. Another smile, “Tomorrow?” Repeated, a question, just in case.

Zannen lets the moment be what it is - edging closer, letting swimming thoughts and impulses settle, intentions coming into line. He’s hyper-aware now, watching Selaine, listening to the nuances in her murmured reply. He grins and nods to her last. “Tomorrow,” he affirms. “I’ll meet ye…at th’ Treble Clef, mayhap? Unless ye’ve another idea.” His gaze flickers downward as he lets his fingers skim lightly up her arms. “I’m gonna have t’take my jacket back, unfortunately.”

“Treble Clef,” Selaine agrees, “That’s perfectly fine.” A shiver runs down her spine that has nothing to do with the cold as his fingers skim her arms. She shrugs slightly to remove the jacket, “Of course… I wouldn’t want you to get sick… Thank you for letting me use it.” She holds up the jacket with one of her hands as she meets his gaze. “I can… have Akitith help you home… if you need it,” she offers softly, her eyes drifting down slowly to his lips before traveling back up again.

Zannen can’t help but chuckle at that, easily taking the jacket back and slipping into it himself as he answers. “I’ve weathered squalls in a shredded tunic and not caught sick. But I thank ye fer the concern,” he answers wryly, and then shifts slightly more to come toe to toe with her. He hadn’t missed where her gaze drifted, and it isn’t out of line with his own line of thinking. “Ye’ve made it warm fer me,” he notes, his voice softing to a huskier tone as a hand captures hers again. “Least I can do is return the favor.” Slowly, but not too slowly as he senses it won’t be unwelcome, leans close and tilts his head to gently fit his lips to hers. There’s promise in the kiss, just enough heat in the lingering of it to tease what more could come…and will with the next night, if it’s truly what she wishes. There’s no effort made to deny that he’s completely game for it. And there is no demand in the touch of his lips, only invitation and warmth. It doesn’t last long enough for his liking, but he doesn’t dare carry on lest they end up there all night, and the soft, amused knowing in his eyes when he pulls back just enough to look at her says as much.

There’s only a brief moment when Selaine’s smile turns into a frown of concern when there’s talk of squalls… but that is quickly pushed to the back of her mind when he’d closed that small bit of distance left between then. “You’re welcome…” she responds, voice just as soft before he’s leaning in. Her eyes flutter closed when their lips meet, molding together as she returns it. Another shiver runs down her spine at the promise behind it as she feels the heat there, responding in kind but also holding back, knowing that there would be more. The knowing smile on her lips meets his when he pulls back. “Well… tomorrow then,” she murmurs softly, still reluctant to let go but stepping back just slightly.

That Zannen is reluctant to pull away is clear as well, restraint tightening his shoulders against the urge to put his arms around her and just keep going. Instead, he lifts a hand to tuck back some hair from Selaine’s ear, smiling secretively as he puts a little more space between them. “Tomorrow,” he answers, letting his fingertips skim along her jaw. “Goodnight, Selaine. I’ll be countin’ the minutes.” One last brush of his thumb over her lower lip and he’s stepping back and away fully, tugging the collar of his jacket up higher before finally tearing his gaze from her and jogging off into the rainy night as though he can’t meet sleep fast enough. The sooner he sleeps…the sooner tomorrow night will come, after all.

Selaine’s gaze follows the path of his hand, leaning slightly into it when he tucks her hair before she meets his eyes once more. “Goodnight, Zan.” She bites at her lower lip lightly when he finally steps away, keeping her gaze on him as he jogs off. Another shiver as her body misses the warmth of his before she’s turning toward the living caverns. She doesn’t forget to snag her jacket from the Nighthearth before heading to the baths and then sleep, though how much of that she gets is debatable. At least enough to get her through sweeps at least?

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