Koi Pond
The dirt path worn smooth by the passage of many feet weaves in and out of tall, shady trees before coming to an abrupt halt at the edge of a sheer cliff. The steep rock face falls nearly a dragonslength before disappearing below the surface of the small pond tucked at its base where it continues down, making it safe for the daring of heart to attempt the jump. Trees line the cliff top, which dips and rises to offer views from various heights, and several ropeshave been tied to high branches for any who want to swing out over the sparkling water. A narrow path leads down one side of the cliff to a small rocky beach, and the opposite hillside boasts what could be a smooth, steep path, save that it leads directly to a drop-off several feet above the water. Above the path is a bucket attached to a convenient tree by a pulley - all the necessary ingredients of a mud-slide. The wind often whistles through the small valley formed by the hillside and cliff-face to join the laughter of the pond's visitors in ringing across the water's surface.
It is a summer afternoon.
Hidden in a tree are Daydreamer, Tse, and Silen.
Rathan is here.

Honey-blond tresses, sunstreaked with platinum highlights, tumble heavily to a spot just above her hips, although her hair is generally worn in a single thick plait down her back. Short in stature, girlish in appearance; nonetheless she has a look about her pale blue eyes that's old beyond her Turns. Set in a warmly tanned oval face, they remain her most striking feature, more for the odd gleam that lights them than for color or shape. Full lips are just a fraction too wide, quick to warm her distant expression with a genuine smile or merry laugh.
Linora wears a pale blue two-piece swimsuit with innocent unconcern for the amount of tanned skin left exposed. High-cut trunks are knotted at her hips, and the halter-type top is held in place with little more than thin ribbons, tied off at the back of her neck and between her shoulderblades.
Red and silver, royal and black -- four cords form a single loop at her shoulder, with a small tail to denote her status as StarCraft Senior Apprentice posted to High Reaches Weyr.
She is awake and looks alert.
Linora is 19 Turns, 10 months, and 21 days old.

A young man in his early twenties. Red, straight hair falls across his face slightly covering one eye. He is constantly pushing it out of his face, but it never seems to want to stay there. Intensely examining everything around him are a pair of deep green eyes set into a face full of freckles. He has that tall, athletic build about him of one that is always on the go, but at the same time, a waryness of almost everything around him.
A simple neat, if not slightly worn grey tunic is tucked into an equally worn pair of black wherhide trousers. Thrown over his left shoulder is a light black cloak with a silver clasp. A pair of black boots finish off the outfit. Perched on Rathan's shoulder is Timothy. Perched on Rathan's shoulder is Turned-About Blue Hatchling.
He is awake and looks alert.
Rathan is 21 Turns, 11 months, and 20 days old.

Linora wanders up the familiar path to the koi pond, dressed for a swim, a towel slung over one shoulder. And for a change, that pack is nowhere to be found. She's been promised an afternoon off and she's by Faranth going to take it. Near the top of the path she pauses to close her eyes and just /inhale/. So it's not the ocean breezes she grew up with, there's still /nothing/ like the air at Gar.

Rathan sits on the edge of the cliff, his feet dangling over the edge. He is dressed the same as usual, no swimming for him. He simply watches the breeze gently blowing the rope hanging from the tree. At the sound behind him, he jumps up, quickly looking around. Realizing who it is, his scared look turns to one of amazement. "Lin?" he asks quietly.

Linora's eyes blink open at the voice, only slightly less surprised. It's not as if Rathan shouldn't be somewhere around the Hall, after all. A warm smile lights her face, and she picks her way barefoot up the rest of the path, dropping her towel by the waterside on a large rock and tipping her chin up in greeting. "Hey," she calls across the water--no need to shout, the way sound carries off the cliff and such. "Whatcha doin'?" Because no question is too obvious to be asked.

Rathan smiles and shrugs as he sits back down. "Not much, just got off work and was sitting here watching the sun go down." The original suprise returns though as he realizes that she should be up at High Reaches. "What are you doing here though? Shouldn't you be up at the weyr charting or something?" Not that he's not happy to see her, just a little suprised. "Are you back for good now?"

Linora shakes her head, and her grin turns almost embarrassed. "I got a free afternoon at the same time that P'rru wanted t'go swimming at Ista, so he an' Dsalth dropped me here for a visit." Odd she hadn't chosen to visit her family at Ista, maybe? Maybe not. After a moment's consideration, she picks up her towel again and makes her way across the water and up the rocks to sit down near Rathan. "He's coming back t'get me before full dark, so I can watch tonight." So maybe it was wishful thinking to hope she'd get a swim in before she had to rush back. For a moment or two she sits quietly, fidgeting a little as if she can't quite get comfortable, then she glances over at Rathan with a quick smile. "Late class?" she guesses, not putting together the 'work' comment very effectively.

Rathan looks a little bit disheartened at the imformation that she's not staying, but he actually manages to hide it pretty well. "Well, at least it's good that you get to come visit." He's happy about it. At the mention of a class, he shakes his head. "Ummm...not really." He points up to his new knot, giving her a moment to digest the information. "Actually...I just didn't have what it took to be a starcrafter, and I finally realized it. So, I left the craft and accepted a new position."

Linora stops fidgeting rather abruptly, and for a moment an odd look crosses her face... but no, he's actually sitting here. Left didn't mean... /left/. Did it? She takes a long look at the new knot, then a little smile returns to her face, lighting her pale eyes as she looks up at him again. "Oh..." she gets out, confusion evident in her tone, but she doesn't seem overly dismayed. "What position?" Aaron did more or less the same thing, after all, if she remembers right.

Rathan grins as he watches her reaction. "No, I realized that I couldn't completely leave Starcraft. There's just too much here that means too much to me." What exactly those things are are not mentioned. "So instead I accepted a position here. One that I thought I'd do well in." Which basically means one that he could do his own thing and not have to worry about people too much. "You're looking at the newest Starcraft groundskeeper." Yep, fancy title that just means he gets to play in the dirt alot.

Linora tilts her head, wondering but strangely unwilling to ask just what's so important. She's not sure she wants to hear the answer, no matter what it is. "Groundskeeper, huh?" Her smile spreads a bit, warming by several degrees. "I didn't know you liked plants and stuff." And dirt. She glances around the pond, realizing suddenly that she's always taken for granted the way the grounds are... the ponds and waterfalls, the fields and pathways. When her eyes return to Rathan's face, her characteristic beam has returned completely, although there's still a hopeful look about her eyes. "So you're happy and stuff?" This is evidently very important to her.

Rathan smiles again as his gaze returns out across the water. "Aye, that I am." Turning back to her, the smile softens as does his voice. "I could be happier..." Realizing that he's staring at her and that he actually said what he did, his attention moves on to just about anything as long as it's not here, a slight redness creeping up his neck and face.

Linora goes from being satisfied with his first answer to chewing nervously on her lower lip. Finally she just asks. "How?" Without even realizing she's doing it, she clutches the towel in her fingers, pulling it across her bare legs and twisting it distractedly between her hands. If he doesn't want to see her anymore, she'd rather know right now than spend the next half turn wondering.

Rathan gives another one of his famous half shrugs, still not turning back to her. "Well..." he starts off quietly, "You said it would be another half turn before you return to the hall...." His voice slowly trails off, the slight redness turning into a full-blown burning blush at his own words, his attention now completely focused on the small pebbles around him. Picking one up, he studies it for a moment before tossing it into the water below.

Linora's full focus is on the very interesting towel in her lap, but the words sink in eventually. "Long as I'm still an appy, it don't matter much where I am," she whispers, looking up at him at last. "If I do a good job on this project, in half a Turn I could be promoted..." She lets the rest of the thought trail off, but the unspoken words reverberate around them. And then we can do anything we want. She reaches tentative fingers to close over his hand. "It isn't that long... is it?" Okay, well, it is. But considering how much time has already gone by...

Rathan nods as he turns back slowly to face her. He knows the rules, but it hasn't seemed to stop either of them yet. As her hand touches his, he gently squeezes, the blush slowly receeding from his face. "No, it's not really that long." He feels that it's an eternity, but he goes along with the...lie, figuring that if he keeps saying it, maybe he'll even believe it.

Isn't that the same reason Lin keeps saying it? As his hand closes around hers, something of her usual smile seems to return, and her free hand lifts to brush the disobedient bangs off his forehead, the light touch of her fingers becoming a gentle caress along his cheek to his neck. For a moment she looks as if she'd like to get closer still, but suddenly the bugle of a dragon sounds from the courtyard. Linora sighs, slowly withdrawing her hand. "That'll be Dsalth," she whispers, not quite ready to draw away from Rathan. But she knows it's time to leave.

Rathan practically sighs at the touch, his eyes closing as he leans into her hand. It must be somekind of reflex or instinct, for it always seems to happen and he never even realizes it. At the bugle of the dragon, he quickly looks up, trying to figure out where it's coming from. Looking a little crestfallen, he turns back to her. "Well...I guess you shouldn't keep him waiting. I know you have work to do tonight." His hand gives her's another squeeze, not quite ready for her to leave, but knowing she has to.

Linora nods, and when she speaks her voice catches in her throat a bit. "Yeah." It's taking quite a bit of telling herself it's not a long time, and even that's not convincing her just at the moment. "Purr gets cranky and stuff." Well, he's old and crotchety. Releasing Rathan's hand she gets to her knees, leaning forward quickly to kiss his cheek quickly before she stands up fully, wrapping the towel back around her shoulders. "I... don't s'pose you'd be able to visit again," she guesses, unable to really imagine what his new job involves. "But... I oughta be back 'fore spring."

Rathan nods slowly, completely unable to speak as she kisses him then rises. Quickly following suit, he stands, wrapping his arms around her in a hug. Leaning down to whisper in her ear, "I...I'll try. I might be able to...." The part about being back before spring is simply ignored. He doesn't even want to think about how long it is. Releasing the hug, he gives her a lingering kiss before heading off in the opposite direction. As he leaves, he doesn't even turn around, not trusting what he might do. No, he's really not running away again.

Linora melts into the embrace, holding tight to the warmth of his body, feeling the beating of his heart against her cheek, prolonging the moment as long as possible. She doesn't even get a chance to form a word before he's kissing her... and then he's gone. And a second bellowing bugle echoes up from the courtyard. With a sigh, Linora turns, picking her way back down the rocky path to the Hall, her traveling clothes, and her ride back to responsibility.