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.
Reiko is curled on one of the couches, one arm draped over the side, to all outward appearances sound asleep. A klah pitcher and a half-filled mug sit on the low table in front of her, obviously forgotten.
E'ren ducks up the stairs and into the chamber, pausing a bit at the doorway in surprise when he sees who's here. A faint smile plays over his lips, and he steps quietly over to the apparently-sleeping weyrling, reaching out to brush her hair away from her face gently. "Hey there... are the barracks really that uncomfortable that you'd prefer to sleep here?"
Reiko twitches a little at the touch, emerald eyes blinking open in confusion. "What? Oh..." She sits up quickly, her hands automatically moving to smooth her hair. It takes a moment or two to regain her composure sufficiently to answer the question. "It's noisy there during the day... I guess I was more tired than I thought." Her gaze darts around the room uncertainly before she remembers to look for Cerdith. How long has she been sleeping? Did he miss her? Finding him still asleep, she relaxes a little, curling into the corner of the couch and drawing her legs up under herself.
E'ren smiles again, sitting down nearby. "I feel a little guilty for waking you up, then. I know how exhausting weyrlinghood can be... just picking up after one's lifemate can be an awfully big job." He pauses a moment, musing over something, then asks, "How is Cerdith, by the way? Everything still going well between you two? And how are the straps coming?"
Reiko scrubs at her face with her hands in an attempt to wake herself, and nods. "Someone would have eventually," she says, her tone drowsily diffident. She leans forward to look into the pitcher, then tops off the mug. Not a trace of steam rises - it's been a little while since the klah was actually /hot/ - but she seems unconcerned. Just goes down faster when it's not blazingly hot. Curling back again with the mug cradled in her lap, she shrugs a bit. "He's fine... bigger today than yesterday." She scowls faintly. "I don't think I made the straps long enough. Can more bits be added in?" It'd be a shame to have to start all over, after it took four tries to come up with a shade of blue that Cerdith approved of.
E'ren nods at that. "Just stitch in another length of leather. You can't do that indefinately because the proportions change, but it's useful while they're still growing. You can do temporary repairs to straps like that too, if you need something useable while you're making a new set." Making and repairing straps is nearly a constant activity for riders. Then unwillingly he yawns, scooting down on the sofa a bit. "Maybe I shouldn't've woken you up so I could just sneak in and get a nap myself," he jokes.
Reiko looks satisfied at that, frowning thoughtfully into her mug. Another long sip drains it, and she reaches for the pitcher again. Half a mug later, the empty pitcher is set rather carelessly on the floor, and she curls back into the couch again, eyeing E'ren sidelong as he makes himself more comfortable. "Good thing you didn't. People might start to talk if we slept together." Her tone is wry, but her eyes are twinkling with something almost like amusement. As if he couldn't nap in a nice quiet weyr, instead of sharing a barracks with dozens of other people.
E'ren looks briefly startled, but then suddenly laughs. "Would you like to sleep with me, if it wasn't for people talking?" he teases back, surprising himself with how much he wants to hear the answer to that question. Honestly, his weyr isn't always so nice and quiet... there's his weyrmate, their daughter, two green dragons, and almost a dozen firelizards.
Reiko levels an unblinking gaze on him, a twisted smirk curling her lips. "I don't care if people talk." She drains the mug and sets it on the table, shifting a little to face him. "I do care about Cerdith." That should almost go without saying. But she's saying it anyway.
MoniqueBean blinks in from ::between::!
Of course it goes without saying. And E'ren cares about Cerdith as well, so he wouldn't do anything to hurt either of them. "It was just a question. And you didn't answer it," he points out. Not that he really expects an answer (or would know what to do with one if he got it), but pressing the issue is a habit with Reiko, since she has such a habit of dodging questions.
"Yes." Reiko's smirk spreads to a twisted halfsmile, mostly to mask her own surprise at the definitive response. Of course, there's more than one reason why she won't. But there's his answer. She keeps her gaze leveled on his face, so as not to miss his reaction.
E'ren's eyes widen fractionally with surprise, before a smile warms his expression. "I'll keep that in mind. Jays... in that case, it's a good thing I didn't tell you about that thing with the iced klah," he jokes. Idly, he stretches out his legs and props his heels on the low table in front of him. "You know what's funny about you, Reiko? You don't get curious easily. I don't know why it doesn't drive you crazy not knowing things."
Reiko arches a brow, eyeing E'ren narrowly. "I'd rather not know something than have to beg to find out," she informs him, her tone cooling off as she finds something across the room to look at. She draws one knee up to her chest, picking irritably at the worn leather of her boot.
E'ren drops his feet to the floor, scooting closer and leaning in towards Reiko. "Really? How odd. Why is that? I always feel like a bit of information is more valuable if I have to work to get it. You know, the thrill of the hunt, and all." Which might help to explain why E'ren finds Reiko and her secrets so interesting. "There are lots of ways you can find out information, though. Threats, blackmail, seduction, trickery, gossip... I don't suppose you do any of those things, though, do you?"
Reiko tenses a bit at E'ren's sudden proximity, her fingers stopping their nervous picking to clench together around her ankle. She glares at him sidelong for a moment, then slowly shakes her head. "No." Well, seduction. But never with the intent to find out information. So it's technically the truth. But something is nagging at the edges of her mind. "Are you hunting me?" Which of those options will he use against her? Has he already?
E'ren takes this opportunity to examine his nails for a long moment as he considers that question. "Would you like me to be hunting you?" he asks, but before she could reply, he answers, "I 'hunt' a lot of people... anyone who's interesting to me. And you, my dear, are quite interesting. So it's your fault I want to figure you out," he teases. Then, more seriously: "Does it bother you?"
Reiko shifts uncomfortably - he's still so close. "Yes." And before there can be any misunderstanding about which question she's answering, she continues. "The people who know you best are the people who can hurt you most." Her tone is detached, as if she weren't talking about herself at all, but her eyes are fixed on her hands.
E'ren just peers at Reiko, so surprised he doesn't notice how uncomfortable she's getting with his proximity. "Is that what you think I'm going to do? Learn things about you in order to hurt you?" Jays, what kind of people did this girl used to open up to if she's so terrified of being hurt?
Reiko lifts her head a bit, turning it to look at E'ren. "I've given up trying to figure people out," she says quietly. She's only trying to protect herself, really. Her fingers clench more tightly around her ankle and she drops her gaze to her hands again. "I probably should go check on Cerdith." It seems like she's been away from him for a very long time... even though she can feel he's still sleeping.
E'ren pauses a moment, looking distant. "Xeth says he's still sleeping. Please stay and talk to me a while longer," he asks, reaching out and resting his hand lightly on her arm. "Reiko... are you interested in me? I mean, do you find me interesting? I can never tell... and sometimes you're so cold to me..."
Reiko tenses a little at E'ren's touch, frowning lightly at the realization that he's not going to let her use her dragon as an excuse to escape. For a long moment she's silent, considering the question. "I wouldn't speak to you at all if I didn't," she says at last, and it's quite true. As to her being cold, she makes no comment.
E'ren smiles then, looking relieved. "I'm glad. I'd hate to think you were just thinking I was a pain in the rear." He laughs softly. "So if you think I'm interesting, then why are you always trying to run from me? Why don't you argue with me?" He pauses, smiling musingly. "I guess... I always think of arguing as a sign of affection. Xeth does it. My mother never did it, though. She just let me do whatever I wanted, and she never cared anything about anything I did." He shrugs.
"Why do you ask me such hard questions?" Questions Reiko doesn't want to answer. She stops studying her hands to look at E'ren evenly. "I might argue with you if I didn't have to think so much." A twisted smile curls her lips - a promise of /arguing/ to gain a reprieve from questioning? What sort of person /is/ he, anyway?
E'ren laughs then, at last leaning back a bit and rubbing at the back of his neck with is palm. "I guess hard questions are the most interesting?" he suggests lightly. "I don't know if it's a good thing not to think when you argue or not. Or if the two are mutally exclusive." He matches her wry smile. "Why don't you like thinking?"
Reiko eyes him sidelong, relaxing almost imperceptibly as he finally draws away from her a bit. "I'd have to think to give you an answer," she drawls, releasing her hold on her ankle and letting her foot drop to the floor. But she didn't have to think very hard to avoid it.
E'ren can only laugh in response, rolling his eyes at her flip answer. "All right, you think about that for a while, and I'll come back to you later for an answer. And I'll definately be expecting one, too." He has a whole little mental cardfile on Reiko in his head, and that's just one more thing he can bring out to surprise her with one day.
It's a very good thing Reiko has no idea what's in E'ren's head; she'd likely feel more than a little threatened by the notion of his keeping track of her so thoroughly. "You might be waiting a while," she informs him tartly. She reaches automatically for the mug on the table in front of her, forgetting that it's empty until it's nearly to her lips. Scowling a bit, she replaces it and curls deeper into the corner of the couch. No mindless chores, no needy dragon, not even any klah to hide behind.
E'ren can't help but laugh again, and he throws his arms around Reiko in an attempt to give her a tight hug. "See, that's what I love about you. There's no one else who will say things like that to me." As usual, E'ren's enthusiasm overwhelms his better judgment, keeping him from even thinking that his overt familiarity would make the weyrling uncomfortable.
Her escape neatly blocked by the arm of the sofa, Reiko suddenly finds herself in E'ren's arms. She stiffens a bit, her breath catching in her throat, then her arms slip tentatively around him, almost of their own accord. Releasing her breath, she holds him for just a moment, then abruptly draws back in confusion. "Sorry," she murmurs. "I don't know what I was thinking." She gets to her feet, backing toward the exit, willing Cerdith to wake up.
E'ren comes close to letting himself relax into Reiko's embrace, but as she gets up and moves toward the door, awareness dawns. "Reiko, wait. I'm sorry... I didn't mean to do anything like that--" He scrambles to his feet and takes a step in her direction, one hand reaching out to her. "It's my fault. Please don't be upset with me?" On the other hand, he knows she's been away from Cerdith for some time, and it's probably time for her to return to the barracks.
"I need to go," Reiko whispers. Not just because of her dragon. She looks numbly at his outstretched hand, still backing away. "I'll ... talk to you later." Maybe she's not /too/ angry with him if she's willing to do that. Maybe she's not angry at all... but she doesn't dare stay long enough to betray the way she really feels. In any case, she looks unlikely to be persuaded to stay.
E'ren drops his hand then, suddenly looking resigned. "All right. Talk to you later. Tell Cerdith hello for me," he attempts, trying for a light tone, but it comes out rather weakly. No, he won't chase after her if she has to go... maybe she needs some space anyway. The greenrider has a few things he should be thinking through as well.
Reiko nods once, not quite meeting his eyes. "Okay." Suddenly she can't wait to see her dragon again, sleeping or not... although it rather feels as if he's stirring. Without so much as a farewell, she slips out the little door and disappears.
Reiko wanders out through the little door all but hidden off to the side.