Stable Cothold
You find yourself in a comfortable Cothold. There is a large sofa in one corner with small tables on each side. Covered with a variety of pillows and blankets it seems quite comfortable. A dartboard is pegged to the far wall, three feathered darts are stuck in it in various locations. Shelves line the other wall, each filled with scrolls on the care and grooming of runners....a notice is posted by the shelves and instructs the users of these scrolls to remember to put them back where they got them from. Small rugs are scattered about the floor, providing some warmth on a cold winter's day. The remaining wall is occuppied by a large fireplace, the mantle is covered with awards won for best runners over the turns.
On the perch are Cirrus and Glitter.

Lozuan walks in from the Orchard Path.

Closely-cropped dusky-black hair sticks up a bit on the top of this young man's head, short strands standing straight as wires and half-controlled. Sharply defined brows arch over startlingly blue eyes the color of heaven itself--a strange quirk of genetics, given his distinctly Asian features and his eyes' almond shape. Warmly tanned skin gives him a relaxed appearance, well-suiting his lanky form and long arms and legs, though he is only of average height.
His clothes are plain but clean and well-pressed: a blue-violet tunic of an ordinary broadcloth, along with closely-tailored trousers a nondescript dark grey-tan in color. The lacing at the throat of his tunic seems to entwine with silver and black knotwork embroidery, which also echoes at his sleeve cuffs. His black boots are worn but well-cared-for, suggesting they've been through a lot of Turns. Perched on Lozuan's shoulder is Turned-About Blue Hatchling.
Lozuan is 18 Turns and 11 days old.

Who knows how long Lozuan has been wandering through Gar, but eventually he winds up here at this cothold: he bangs on the door, and after there is no apparent response, he opens the door slightly and peeks in. Anyone around?

Merdia slips out of her apartment, closing the door softly behind her so as not to wake that lazy fosterling of hers - no point in dealing with a cranky teenager this early of a morning, and she's got work to do. She gets it closed just in time, apparently, as a loud banging rings through the cothold. The door is opened even before she can get to it, and a now-familiar face peeks in... replacing her somewhat annoyed expression with a smile. "Do you have any idea what /time/ it is?" she chides him, opening the door fully so that he can enter. "Hi."

Lozuan ums softly, looking startled to so suddenly be face-to-face with the person he was looking for. "Time? Er... it's early?" he guesses, apparently not enough of a 'morning person' to be faced with questions like that. "Hi. Do you have a few minutes? I need your help." Indeed, his blue eyes are anxious and needy as they gaze at her... it won't be easy for her to get out of this if she wants to escape.

Merdia laughs softly. "Yes. It's early. Or late, if you haven't slept yet." She's not asking; either way it's no time of day to be banging on a cothold door. She does become mildly concerned at his expression as he asks for help, biting her lower lip thoughtfully. "I suppose the stables can wait a little while..." Since there are a couple of new hands. A vague gesture invites him to sit on the sofa in front of the hearth. "What is it?"

Lozuan steps into the room, shutting the door behind him. "It's terrible to come to you like this, I know, but I didn't know who else I could ask." He sits down on the sofa and carefully reaches into a fold of his tunic, drawing out a small blue firelizard, newly hatched, its first meal still pressing against its belly. It stirs slightly and grumbles a bit at its change in location, but it doesn't bother to wake fully. "Help... what do I do with it?" he asks her, a look of absolute horror on his face.

Turned-About Blue Hatchling
Sophisticated shades of gem-like clarity trickle translucence over this firelizard's lean form, garbing that elegant frame in its pale silken splendour. Slender legs stand just-so beneath his exquisitely sculpted body: lean torso, broad shoulders, and narrow hips that give sway to the refined drape of his soft-shaded tail. His noble features express royal ennui, but beneath the grandeur, shadows of dusty, tangy juniper berry-blue lurk, a tart, fruity shade that suggests at suppressed mischief.
Turned-About Blue Hatchling is 20 hours, 56 minutes, and 16 seconds old.
Turned-About Blue Hatchling is awake and seems alert.

Merdia ohs softly, quite delighted, as she steps closer. "He's darling," she says, sitting down next to Lozuan for a good look. "I forget how tiny they are when they're new!" She reaches a tentative hand to stroke the tiny head with gentle fingers, then looks up at Lozuan with a smile that will hopefully soften his horrified expression. "He doesn't look hungry, so you're off to a good start. Wherever did you get him?"

Lozuan sighs then, setting the sleeping lizard down on his knee, a fairly stable location. "This kid woke me up in the middle of the night, saying something was hatching. He stuck an egg and a bunch of raw meat into my cot, and before I knew it, this thing was sleeping on me and wouldn't leave." He sighs again and shrugs. "I'm not really sure what I should even do with him...."

Merdia bites back a grin. "Most people are delighted to impress a firelizard, you know," she teases. She gets to her feet gracefully and disappears into her apartment, returning a few minutes later with a small bottle. "Take this for now, but you'll likely need more." She sits back down then, holding the bottle out for Lozuan to take from her. "While he's growing you'll need to oil him often, so his hide doesn't crack. Feed him when he's hungry - he'll definitely let you know, and there are always scraps in the dining hall - and in a few sevendays he'll start to develop more of a personality." Meaning he'll sleep a lot less. Funfun. "Have you thought about what to call him?"

Lozuan accepts the bottle, giving it a little shake before smiling gratefully at her. "Thank you. I guess I always thought of firelizards as things that happened to other people. It isn't like there aren't plenty to look at wherever you go if you just want some around." He looks down at the little blue with a little distaste. "Um... nope, I don't know what I'd call him." But if he started calling the little flit something, then wouldn't Lo be stuck with him?

Not as if he has a choice /now/. Merdia smiles. "He doesn't /need/ a name, I suppose. He'll stay with you whether you call him or not -- they're like that." With two of her own, she ought to know. "And they can be fairly useful. A lot of people use them to carry messages." She shrugs a little, sparkling eyes fixing on him now. "Not to mention the amusing mental images they'll pass along when they see anything interesting." Not that they always make sense.

Lozuan quirks a brow. "Oh yeah, that's right. Do you suppose I could get this guy to carry messages to you? Maybe not for a while, though... he barely looks like these little wings could hold himself up, much less a scrap of wherhide." He chuckles a little, running a fingertip down the young lizard's soft neck. "He is kind of a nice color, though... as far as these things go."

Merdia shrugs lightly, dark eyes fixed on his. "Once he can fly... if you can give him a clear enough mental picture." The barest flush pinks her pale cheeks, and she lowers her eyes to study the little hatchling again. "He matches your eyes," she observes, her tone soft as if unwilling to wake the tiny creature. Or maybe she's not sure she wants to let Lozuan know just how well she can remember the color of his eyes, even when she's not looking at them.

Lozuan is now gazing just at Merdia, the firelizard on his knee continuing to sleep away. "Oh, I could probably manage a good mental picture of you," he says quickly, then blushes. Is it such a good thing for her to know he thinks about her so much? As he's come to like her more, he has also become more aware that her rebuffs could actually hurt him.

When Merdia looks up at Lozuan again, her eyes are soft, turning even more gentle as she notices his blush. "Really?" Then she can't help teasing just a bit, although her voice is kind. "Will he be sneaking up behind me, then?" She keeps her eyes fixed on his, sparkling with mirth, watching for his reaction.

Lozuan laughs then, his blush still stubornly not fading as Merdia begins to tease him. "Oh no! I mean, I wouldn't ever have him sneak up on you... I guess if he likes you he might sneak. I dunno... are firelizards generally sneaky creatures?" He'd never paid all that much attention to them before. "Anyway, I don't think I sneak up on you. I come looking for you sometimes, but it isn't like I hide from you or want to surprise you."

Merdia grins. "I only wondered whether you had a clearer mental picture of me from the front... or the rear." After the previous night, she was beginning to think he's fixated, after all. Then she laughs, absolving him from trying to come up with an answer to that. "I don't believe they're generally sneaky. But you /do/ often surprise me." Pretty much every time she's seen him since they met. But something in her expression might just say that it's not generally an unpleasant surprise.

Lozuan turns all sorts of shades of red then, sputtering in protest. "Hey, it isn't like that! I think you're just as attractive from the front as you are from the rear. I mean--I think you're a wonderful person, pretty and intellegent, and I like spending time with you. The fact that you have a nice--" Er, don't go there. "Ack, I give up," he half-wails, drawing his knees up onto the sofa and curling into a pathetic little ball. The firelizard still manages to sleep through this, though.

Merdia's eyes widen in surprise, one hand covering her mouth as if she might be able to take back the tease. She certainly hadn't expected this sort of reaction from a young man who was parading around the dining hall inviting her to poke his rear end! "I'm sorry," she tries, scooting closer and turning a bit to face him, a tentative hand reaching to gently rest on his arm as she looks for his eyes. "I was only teasing. I... like you." She sounds almost surprised with herself.

Lozuan's reaction was mostly melodramatic, even if he had been truly horrified at her tease. He lifts his head and peeks at her, the touch on his arm gentle and warm. "Hey... um... don't worry about it. I guess I'm more used to teasing than being teased." He smiles faintly. "I like you too," he admits softly. "And I'm glad you aren't too upset with me about all that other stuff in the dining hall and everything." Grinning, he begins to feel sure enough of himself to rest one hand gently on Merdia's where she touches his arm.

Merdia grins, not objecting at all to the touch of his hand on hers. "Let me guess. No sisters?" The teasing tone drops from her voice almost immediately, however, and her tone is more gentle as she explains. "I've got six brothers, so I guess I'm used to both." Teasing and being teased. She's even gotten used to being teased by people who /aren't/ her brothers, at long last. "And of course I'm not upset." She'd hardly be sitting so close to him now if he'd actually offended her... and suddenly she seems to realize just how close that is, and blushes a bit, although she doesn't draw away.

Lozuan shakes his head, chuckling. "Nope... well, just some foster-sibs. But it's different when someone you're used to teasing finally teases you back." He laughs again... she got him good. His gaze returning to her face, though, he notices that blush. "You're so pretty when you blush like that. No wonder you're so fun to tease," he says quietly, reaching out to run his fingers over her cheek gently and feel the heat on her skin.

The flush deepens by several degrees at his touch, probably also making Merdia's cheek a good bit warmer than it had been, and her gaze drops again momentarily - reflexively - before returning to his face. "Thanks," she whispers. For the compliment, of course, although somehow it's even nice to hear him say she's fun to tease. And his touch is so gentle. Maybe she shouldn't ask him to work in the stables - her own hands are rougher than his.

Lozuan's poor hands would be two giant blisters if he ever had to do anything so hard as work in the stables. He chuckles softly, taking her hand in his and squeezing it lightly. Apparently he doesn't mind a little roughness. "It's nice to feel you touch me, though," he almost whispers. "After you kept refusing me in the dining hall, I wondered if you didn't like me after all." Right, poking someone in the butt in public is the same thing as resting your hand on their arm.

Merdia has actually been touching him far longer than she originally intended when she first reached to reassure him. And she can't seem to stop. But she bites back a giggle as he mentions the dining hall incident. "What, because I wouldn't poke your rear end, this means I don't like you?" Give her credit for a /little/ class, please! Her free hand continues lightly up his arm to rest on his shoulder now, and she smiles. "This is much nicer than a poke." Her quiet words lift a bit in pitch as the thought ends... almost as if she's asking rather than telling... and the hesitation is mirrored in her dark eyes as well.

Lozuan gives a soft laugh, inching a little closer to Merdia and leaning in her direction so they're almost snuggling. "Okay, I have to admit you're right. You can't do this with someone you've just met, though, and you can ask 'em to feel your rear end." Not that asking always produces successful results, but he can't complain too much about how things have turned out so far. "And maybe I still hope that you'll do it... someday," he jokes, sounding half-wistful.

Merdia laughs a little, her dark eyes sparkling, and although she's acutely aware of his proximity, her tone is light. "Have you had many takers with that strategy?" She personally can't imagine that many people would feel up a complete stranger's rear end... and frankly, she'd be a little suspicious of anyone who would. "Not that there's anything wrong with it... your rear end, I mean." She blushes again as her brain puts his wish in the context of a situation in which she might... oh, don't go there. Doesn't she have something she's supposed to be doing right now? She ought to be able to remember.

Lozuan ums softly at Merdia's question. "Not since I was 12, I guess. But a twelve-year-old girl feeling your rear is different from an adult... you know." He laughs a bit, but her admission makes him pause. "Thank you... I guess it's been a concern of mine over the past few days," he says with mock-gravity. "Though honestly, I can't really imagine what the circumstances would be that you'd get an adult to feel your rear end. I guess now it's too late for you to be interested...."

Merdia bites her lip, trying to think of how to phrase this. "I'd think it'd require a little more... intimacy than the dining hall. At least for me." The flush deepens a bit as she realizes she might have just admitted that it wasn't entirely too late. She doesn't draw away... but she's not really meeting his eyes just at the moment. Trying for a lighter tone, she continues, "I suppose there might be the odd person who would poke, just for fun..." Slight emphasis on 'odd'.

Lozuan is quiet as he thinks on this for a moment. "More intimacy?" he echoes, trying to puzzle out exactly what that might mean. "So... somewhere more private? Like... here? Or your room? I'd offer my room, but the dorms aren't so good for peace and quiet." His hold on Merdia's hand tightens fractionally, and he runs his thumb over her warm skin. "So... it would take an 'odd' person to touch my rear end, and even then they'd only do it for fun? What if I needed someone's serious opinion?"

Merdia forgets herself for a moment, tilting her head to look at him inquiringly, a little smile lighting her dark eyes. "Why should you need a serious opinion?" she teases lightly. Without even giving him a chance to answer, she offers an answer of sorts. "You must be younger than I thought. Although..." It's puzzling how he seems to flip between being so forward... and so innocent. Finding his eyes with hers, she leans in closer, slowly, her lips nearly touching his. Sometimes maybe words aren't needed to find out information.

Lozuan blinks, his breath catching in his throat as Merdia leans in towards him. Any possible answers to her question fly from his head as he gazes at her, his eyes wide and half-startled. She's so close, though... he can feel his heart beating in his chest as he tilts his head and brushes his lips against hers, the grip of his hand tightening slightly. She'll recognize him as an inexperienced kisser but one who wants to please.

Merdia is almost surprised to find that Lozuan seems even less experienced than herself, but he seems so earnest and gentle that she doesn't mind a bit. When she draws back to look at him again, she feels pretty sure she's got her answer... and her own confidence seems to return. "Maybe you'll get your wish someday." She might seem even a little surprised at herself as she gives his hand a quick squeeze, then releases it to stand up. "I've stayed as long as I could... longer than I should, really." She smiles. "Take good care of that little blue. Let me know what you name him?"

Lozuan smiles warmly and nods, reluctantly releasing her hand. He doesn't get up.. he doesn't even manage to say anything, just opening and closing his mouth like a fish for a moment. Maybe he doesn't know what to say... or maybe he has so much he wants to say in such a short amount of time, nothing will come out. At long last, he manages one word: "Okay."

Merdia walks to the Orchard Path