Thick woolen tapestries dull the noise from the rest of the caverns, turning this well-lit little room into a welcome escape. The stairs up place it against the bowl wall somewhere above the living caverns, carpeted against the winters chill or left as cool stone floor in summer. Some high and narrow windows can be opened to the world outside, or secured with their heavy metal-sided shutters and blue-threaded curtains.
Glowlight gleams, brightening the well-cushioned stone couches and lighting the weyr residents half-finished projects: knitting undone, sewing only started, leathers being worked soft, and even a hide of sketches or half-finished Thread-chart spread out across one of the tables.
Curled up amongst the baskets of wool is Kalfu.
E'ren comes up the stairs.
Reiko is curled in a couch with a mending basket beside her and a klah pitcher on the low table in front of her, intently stitching something that might once have been a tunic. It's in enough pieces that it's hard to tell. Slow, patient stitches draw the fabric together, bit by bit, pausing only when the thread is too short to continue.
E'ren slips into the quiet room, his knitting tucked under one arm. Even his weyr gets a little chaotic sometimes--he's got a weyrmate, a daughter, and another little boy living in the place, and sometimes he just wants his own space. Giving a glance around, he is extraordinarily pleased to spot Reiko. "Hey there," he says, moving up beside her. "Still working on that mending?"
Reiko blinks, surprised by the sudden voice since she hadn't noticed anyone entering, and glances up. A twisted smirk curls her lips as she recognizes E'ren, and notes his knitting. Interesting hobby, that. "Morning," she greets, pleasantly enough, oblivious as usual to the actual time of day. With a vaguely cross expression she observes, "The pile doesn't seem to ever get any smaller." She shakes her head and measures off another long piece of thread. Short answer, yes. Now and probably for the rest of her Candidacy, provided she doesn't get tagged for something more fun. Like stall mucking or pen cleaning.
E'ren chuckles at that and takes a seat near the candidate, setting out his knitting... and a wineskin and a couple of glasses he'd been hiding underneath. "It's just to keep you out of trouble, I'm sure. Don't worry, the eggs are due to hatch soon, and then things will get back to normal." He fills both glasses with wine and offers her one, smiling. "Here. This should make your chores a bit easier."
Reiko scowls a little, concentrating on slipping the end of the thread through that tiny little eye... finally she manages, tying a quick knot in the long end. So it takes a moment for E'ren's words to sink in. And fortunately the offer of wine staves off any twitching that the notion of the eggs actually /hatching/ might cause. Lowering her work onto her lap, she glances up to look at the wine, a twisted smirk curling her lips. "It certainly helped with the robe," she remarks finally, fixing glittering eyes on the 'rider as she reaches for one of the glasses.
E'ren smiles, surrendering one of the glasses before leaning back in his seat and relaxing again. "Did you manage to finish your robe already? How did it turn out?" His grey eyes glittering with obvious interest, he watches the girl over the rim of his glass, his knitting apparently forgotten for the moment.
Reiko takes the glass carefully, long fingers curling about the stem. Wouldn't do to waste any.. not often that she gets it anymore. She actually takes a moment just to inhale the vapors before she finally takes a sip, emerald eyes closing in pleasure as she murmurs an affirmative to his question. "It'll do," she says diffidently. Which is to say, it meets the requirements, and it's not likely to fall apart before she's made it off the Sands.. one way or another.
E'ren doesn't press the girl for further information, remembering his own robe--really, with the nervousness of the day, what he was wearing was the least of his concerns. He smiles a bit as he watches her take the wine. "Better enjoy that... if you Impress, you won't be allowed to drink for at least a Turn and a half, on account of the dragonet." Apparently even E'ren-who-gets-candidates-drunk has his limits.
Reiko stops midsip to eye E'ren as if he might be teasing her.. but something in his expression tells her he's not. Feigning an indifference she doesn't quite feel, she manages a vague smirk. "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it." Right now she'll concentrate on this lovely wine. And from her expression when she takes another long sip, she's enjoying it very much indeed.
E'ren just laughs before sipping from his own glass. "There's a lot to be missed when you're a weyrling. No kissing... shells, even a good night's sleep is rare sometimes." Then his lips quirk into a little smile. "It's hard not to feel it's worth it, though." He pauses, looking at the girl a bit more intently. "Say, has anything happened between you and Kinecha in the past? You two didn't seem to be getting along too well the other evening."
Reiko eyes E'ren sharply, her fingers tightening on the stem of her glass. After a moment, the smirk settles more confidently across her features. "You could say that," she says wryly, answering both the question and the observation. But she declines to elaborate, fixing instead on the topic of weyrlinghood. "I'd miss sleep," she remarks. She'd miss the other things too, but...
E'ren nods, companionably, finishing off his glass and reaching for the wineskin. "Well, you never know what'll happen, come hatching day. Exciting, isn't it?" he asks with a wink, leaning over to top off Reiko's glass if she likes, before he refills his own. "But about this business with Kinecha... it looked like you two were close once. You aren't anymore?" He's not going to be distracted from his line of questioning easily.
Reiko holds the glass out.. as long as he's offering.. and shakes her head, eyes narrowing a bit. "We're not," she replies coolly. In fact, they barely speak to one another. But again she doesn't elaborate. Of the two topics, she'd prefer to consider the Hatching. "I don't know if I would have chosen the word 'exciting'," she remarks slowly. "But maybe." She's been avoiding giving it much thought at all, actually. All the better not to be disappointed later.
E'ren sips thoughtfully from his glass, still gazing at Reiko. "So... what else about you two? The way Kinecha was acting, there must've been something quite drastic to happen to leave you both so bitter and distant." His smile turns a bit more musing. "What if you're both picked on the Sands? That's a Turn and a half inside the weyrling barracks together." He's just trying to prod the truth out of her.
Reiko shifts a little on the couch, turning the wineglass in her fingers and just watching the liquid swirl with a slightly vacant expression. At length she shrugs, fixing calm eyes on E'ren. "Drastic depends on one's perspective," she informs him coolly, a little smile curling her lips. "I'm perfectly content to ignore her."
E'ren hums noncommittally. Still, the girl isn't giving up any important information. "It sounds like you're keeping a lot bottled up, though. If you Impress, it won't be good for you to have a lot of problems that would confuse the dragonet." A pause. "In fact, some people say that a lot of negative feelings on the Sands can keep someone from Impressing." He shrugs. "You never know, though."
Reiko blinks once, slowly setting her mostly-full glass on the low table in front of her, next to the forgotten klah mug. Lifting her work again without really seeing it, she curls deeper into the couch and starts her slow stitching again, thinking. "Not feeling isn't the same thing as negative feelings," she says at last, her voice quiet.
E'ren realizes he might've pushed a bit too hard, too soon. He takes a great interest in the color of his wine for a moment. "Perhaps not," he agrees, before waving off the topic. "So tell me, how are the eggs looking? Any interesting updates on that front?" She seemed to respond more to that topic.
Reiko looks up again, with an almost relieved expression that almost immediately shifts to a more neutral one. "Well enough, I suppose," she replies cautiously. "To judge from the galleries." Her only invitation to visit the Sands was ages ago, when the eggs were still quite soft. Besides, she's still not quite sure he won't press her again. She turns her eyes back to her mending, without another glance at her abandoned glass.
E'ren is really quite small and harmless, not at all any kind of fearsome interogater. No need to hide from the wine! "Ah... you haven't been out on the sands for a while? I'm sure they'll get you out there at least once more before the Hatching. Perhaps the parents have been a bit irritable." The greenrider doesn't really keep track of such things, as interested he is in the Candidates themselves and in the Hatching-day party.
"I haven't." Reiko finishes the seam and ties off the thread before looking up again with a little shrug. "Could be," she agrees, as if it were of no consequence at all. But E'ren's words no longer seem threatening to her, so she begins to relax again, even reaching for the wine. Sinking back into the couch again, she eyes him sidelong, a twisted halfsmile curling her lips. "Did you really come here to knit?" she asks, noting the forgotten workbasket.
E'ren laughs then, glancing over at the knitting he so quickly abandoned. "Well, maybe. Mostly I just wanted to get out of all the chaos in my weyr. I think talking to you is more interesting than knitting, though." He smiles then, though something in his grey eyes might lead a person to suppose that he isn't telling all of the truth. "Are you scolding me for not finishing the sweater I'm working on yet?"
Reiko arches an eyebrow, giving E'ren another look. She might not keep doing that if it didn't seem that she saw something different each time. "Depends. Are you making it for me?" The smile spreads, almost reaching glittering emerald eyes, as she lifts her glass to drain it. As to whether she's flattered that he professes to prefer her company to his project, she makes no comment. She's busy wondering what he's not telling her. People who keep to themselves tend to notice when others do the same thing.
E'ren looks genuinely surprised, holding up the sweater then. Even what's there so far looks too large for either Reiko or the greenrider himself. "No, this one? It's... it's for Khory," he admits. "It was supposed to be for the winter, but I didn't finish it in time." Well, it's High Reaches Weyr they live in, so no doubt winter will return soon enough. "Were you hoping I'd make a sweater for you? I'd have to measure you if I did." He gives an embarrassed laugh then. "That doesn't sound lecherous, does it?"
Reiko laughs, setting the empty glass down on the table and dropping the finished mending back in the basket with the.. unfinished mending. Ah, well. She'll sort it out later. "Actually, not at all." She shakes her head, smiling a little. "I mean.. it doesn't dound lecherous." She slides the basket onto the floor beside the couch and draws her knees up, regarding him evenly, the barest twinkle lighting her eyes. "But you ought to finish Khory's before you take any more requests."
E'ren suddenly gives a sharp, almost viscious smile. "Perhaps I meant it lecherously... you never know." They did have an almost-intimate moment or two when they were tangled in P'rru's riding straps, right? "I will have to finish Khory's first, but I'd be happy to knit you a sweater." He scoots over a bit closer to her on the sofa, on the pretext of looking over the width of her shoulders. "One for you shouldn't take too long. I bet I'd be able to finish by autumn."
Reiko's eyes narrow slightly at the lecherous comment, but the twisted smirk doesn't fade. "Oh really?" She tilts her head to regard E'ren warily as he scoots closer to ... measure? Innteresting. "It /would/ be nice," she admits, privately wondering just how lecherously measuring can be done.
E'ren isn't ready to measure, but he's certainly prepared to eye her. "Maybe a scarlet color would look good. Or a soft grey-green, to bring out the color of your eyes." His smile softens a bit. "You really are quite lovely. I'd be delighted to make something for you." And the more he thinks about it, the better it seems. He reaches out and runs his fingers over her shoulder lightly, perhaps just brushing the tips of her dark hair. "I'll have to bring my measuring tape the next time we meet," he murmurs, his voice strangely softer than one might suppose from what he's saying.
Reiko holds up well under E'ren's appraisal, neither blushing nor taking her eyes from him, although she can't completely suppress a slight tremble at his touch. "Thank you." Her tone is quiet as well, unassuming and noncommittal. "I'd like that."
E'ren laughs softly, withdrawing his fingers and leaning back again to give the girl her space. "It's difficult to tell what you're thinking sometimes. I think you hold a lot inside... though that's part of what's charming about you. Does it scare you that I want to find out all your secrets?" he asks, his voice taking on a teasing tone.
"Of course not." Reiko's answer is a bit too quick, but a slow twisted smile follows immediately, disguising any actual discomfort. "Why should you want to do that, anyway?" She's only half teasing, emerald gaze fixed evenly on his face. Charming? Ah, well, this is the 'rider who thinks dangerous and unpredictable things are 'cute'.
E'ren grins, not quite believing her quick answer, but willing to let it stand for the moment. "Why? Well... I'm not sure." He thinks for a few moments, at least a dozen ideas popping into his head, none of which he can say to this young, sweet girl. "Secrets are interesting to find out, I suppose. And you look like you have some really good secrets."
The twisted halfsmile returns, Reiko's eyes sliding over E'ren briefly before returning to his face. "Maybe I do." Have interesting secrets. "Maybe I don't feel like sharing them." Her eyes fall on the empty glass for a brief moment as she curls her legs under herself. "In any case... is there any particular reason you think I should share them with /you/?" Her even, unruffled gaze is leveled at his face, calmly waiting to hear what he'll say.
E'ren notices Reiko's glass is empty perhaps because her gaze falls upon it. In any case, he reaches quickly for the wineskin, refilling her glass and topping off his own, though he hasn't been sipping from it as much as he was earlier. "If you don't feel like sharing them, well, that's your business. But I think you could do worse than to pick me to share them with. I like you, Reiko. I guess it's difficult for me to want to talk to you and for you to hold back like you do."
Reiko picks up the glass with a murmured thanks, sitting back again to regard E'ren thoughtfully as she sips. Not until the glass is nearly empty again does she finally speak, lowering the glass and tipping it from side to side to watch the wine swirling, without really seeing it. "It isn't easy for me, either," she says, her tone so soft as to be barely audible.
E'ren sets his wine aside then so he can lean closer, brushing his fingers over her wrist. "I know it must be. I didn't used to confide in anyone... at least, not before I Impressed Xeth." Maybe he still doesn't, much. He smiles a bit, tilting his head so he can try to catch her gaze. "I want to say... you don't have to confide in me if you don't want to. I don't want you to feel like you're obligated to."
Quick in movement and startling in intensity of mood, this greenrider meets a gaze with a sudden smile and flash of Thread-gray eyes hooded under dark lashes. His inky-black hair, just beginning to glint with silver, has been grown out into a mop of unruly curls, a few artfully arranged to fall over his brow. Turns of dragonriding have honed his compact form, though, especially along muscled thighs and narrow hips. His complexion is dark, his features matching a native Southerner's. Squarish jaw matching the set of his shoulders, his wirey frame is spare, notable more for gesture than stature, though he occasionally creates the illusion that the opposite is so, due to his unapologetic flair for the dramatic.
The wear on his mahogany leathers is just beginning to affect the color in spots, but otherwise the leathers are still well-fitted and sharp. The cuffs and collar are a lighter, matching shade, and the trim edging waist and sleeves suggests milky klah. Beneath the leather of his jacket is a soft heaven-blue tunic, warm and wooly, seeming almost to beg to be touched. The tunic's laces are open a bit on the collar, and amid them a silver chain is half-hidden, the warm metal kept always against his skin. His sleek boots are well-broken-in but also well-maintained, polished to a near-mirror finish.
His knot is a double twisted cord, one strand blue and one black, threaded with a dusty green ribbon matching Xeth's matte hide. The knot and his flit-gnawed badge mark him as a rider of Inferno wing.
E'ren is 32 Turns, 3 months, and 24 days old.
Reiko pauses at the touch on her wrist, stopping the tilting and swirling of her wine to glance sharply at E'ren. Her gaze is caught by his, and she just looks at him for a long moment, vague surprise evident in her eyes at his admission. She shakes her head slowly, her eyes still on his. "Xeth would never judge you. Or hurt you." She doesn't know a lot about dragons, even after two Turns in the Weyr, but on that one point, she's pretty sure. And Reiko rarely feels obligated.
E'ren nods slowly, giving no obvious reaction to her look of shock. "That's true. You've got no chance of keeping any secrets from your dragon, either. But just the practice of talking to someone who understands sometimes helps you share with other people." That doesn't help right now, though. "Do you think I'll judge you or hurt you?"
The look in Reiko's eyes slowly morphs to confusion as she considers not being able to hide her feelings. Not that she's doing such a good job just now. The wine? Or the persistent questioning? "I don't know," she whispers, swallowing quickly and taking a deep breath to compose herself. She's never been quite sure who she can trust.. so she's never really trusted anyone. "You might." She tries to recover the diffident tone of earlier, but it doesn't sound quite right even to her.
E'ren shakes his head. "It's disappointing, I suppose. I'd like for you to come to trust me." Then he leans in and kisses her tenderly on the cheek, a gesture more brotherly than anything else. "I hope someday you change your mind about that. I won't push you, though." He gathers up his knitting and the wineskin. "I've got to head back to my weyr. If you find you want to talk, let me know, okay? You know where I live." He winks.
Reiko sits in mute astonishment as E'ren goes about gathering his things, one hand involuntarily coming up to touch the cheek he kissed. His words, his actions, were so unexpected to her, that for a long moment she can't find her voice. Finally she nods, slowly, curling deeper into the couch to murmur a hesitant, "Sure." Not until he's completely gone does she rouse herself from her seat, composing herself and retrieving her basket. Even /she/ thinks she's avoided her work long enough.