Xeth's Xebec Cavern
Gently eastward-sloping ceilings give this cavern an odd sort of perspective, almost presuming that the floor slopes as well. The area along the eastern wall has been set aside for living space and has been decorated accordingly: worn velvet drapes (someone else's toss-outs) in an odd jumble of patterns and colors soften the wall. Brazers giving off warmth and light are settled around a thick carpet and its large wooly cushions. Along the western wall stretches the worn length of the dragoncouch, perfectly fitting the narrow shape of a certain green.
On the perch is Abacab.
E'ren is here.

Reiko slips in quietly from the ledge, just a shadow in the predawn gloom. A large basket is hooked over her arm, quite heavy from the look of her gait as she makes her way across the weyr to the sleeping area, only the faint, hollow sound of bootheels on stone announcing her presence. But judging from the dead sleep she'd left E'ren in, she's guessing he didn't even notice she'd gone.

E'ren is still sprawled in bed, covers half-off him. He has been dozing and half-waking all morning, once getting up to stumble over and drink a couple glasses of water before falling back into bed. Perhaps not surprisingly, he didn't notice Reiko's absence, and he doesn't even stir when she returns. Does he plan on sleeping through drills later this morning, too? Maybe.

Reaching his side at last, Reiko carefully settles the basket on the floor and perches on the edge of the bed beside him. Gentle fingers smooth his unruly curls, and her voice when she speaks is soft and kind. "E'ren?" Her caress continues over his temple and down his cheek to his jawline, tenderly insistent. "Wake up."

E'ren mmphs softly, batting at Reiko's hands (mostly missing), and wriggling around on the bed a bit. Gradually, his muttering turns into words: "--can't be mornin' yet. Too many flndld--" Who knows what he's trying to say, but in spite of everything, he does seem to be coming awake gradually.

Reiko chuckles a bit, low in her throat, drawing her hand back in time to avoid most of his mostly-aimless swats. She reaches to open the basket then, retrieving the infamous insulated bottle -- who knows where she dug it up, but she evidently had some time to herself to be looking around -- and a large mug, which she fills with steaming klah. Before she caps the bottle, she makes good and sure the aroma has a chance to reach E'ren. "Come on," she coaxes lightly. "Breakfast and a bath... and you'll probably even be able to face your duties today." Yes, she's betting he's got some.

E'ren groans, his eyelids finally opening a crack. "That's obscene... 'morning'." At least for the moment, he is hungover enough not to immediately think of yesterday's sorrow. It probably takes a bit more of Reiko's urging before he sits up and sits cross-legged under the covers, accepting the mug of klah. "Ugh. How early is it?" he asks then, taking a sip from the mug. In spite of his weariness, it does make him feel a bit better.

Reiko fixes a twisted smirk on E'ren, watching him wake up without comment. She's been known to be much more unpleasant in the morning, after all. "Nearly dawn," she replies quietly, then changes the subject. "The bread's fresh." She fills a second mug for herself then, shifting to face him, one leg curled under herself.

E'ren hums a general noise of interest, sniffing in the direction of the basket to catch a whiff of the fresh bread. "Good... I'll have some in a bit." He isn't quite sure his stomach can manage it just yet, though. "Thanks for this, though. You're awfully nice to do it." Has he ever brought her breakfast when she has been hungover? Probably not.

Not that Reiko has had many opportunities to be hung over in the time she's known E'ren. If she were asked, she'd likely have a hard time remembering the last time she even drank enough to get drunk. Her smile softens a little as she lowers her mug to her lap. "There's cheese, too... and fruit, if you want something lighter." It's possible she actually remembered his preferences, since she didn't bother to bring meatrolls, even for herself. She shrugs a little. "And you're welcome." She takes another sip, still watching him carefully, but doesn't ask the obvious stupid question. Of course he feels like hell, no reason to rub it in.

It's a good thing Reiko didn't bring meatrolls, because even just smelling them would probably make E'ren's stomach revolt, the way he's feeling right now. The greenrider fluffs up the pillows and leans against them, managing a faint smile. "So... what do I owe you for bringing me breakfast in bed? Are you buttering me up for some reason?"

Reiko's lips twitch ever so slightly, half hidden behind her mug as she gazes evenly at E'ren over the rim. "You're not going to make me sorry I decided to be nice to you, are you?" she asks mildly, a peculiar gleam lighting emerald eyes. She hasn't forgotten the dozens of small kindnesses he's shown her in the time she's known him, but she bridles at the assumption all the same.

E'ren chuckles into his mug while taking a sip of klah. "Nah, I'm just teasing you. I'd think you'd be used to my teasing by now." He does tease her an awful lot, doesn't he? "I like it when you're nice to me, don't get me wrong. You're sweet... I think you've got a real tender side... I just don't get the chance to see it very often, is all, so I'm always surprised when it peeks out."

Reiko draws her lips into a thin, thoughtful line, lowering her mug to her lap -- her eyes following. "It's easier to be nice to you when you don't tease," she says quietly, finally lifting her eyes to look at him. For a moment, it looks like she might say something else, then her tone becomes brisk as the twisted halfsmile returns. "And if you're feeling that much better, maybe you should eat."

E'ren just watches Reiko for a long moment. Haven't they had this discussion before? Perhaps... so that's a big reason why he doesn't feel like pushing it. "I only tease people I care about," he points out. "I don't think I'd know how to relate to someone I love if I didn't get to tease." Wait, did he just say...? To cover it, maybe, he begins rustling around in the basket. Food, right.

Reiko looks up sharply, just in time to see the top of E'ren's head as he starts digging in the basket for breakfast. Yes, she heard it. But she hesitates to assign meaning to the words. "Sometimes it's all I can do to understand what people are saying," she says quietly. "Much less what they mean." Maybe it's not much of an explanation. But it's part of having given up trying to figure people out -- words are taken at face value... or left. She cradles the mug in her lap now, klah quite forgotten.

E'ren looks up, a breakfast roll dangling out of his mouth. "Mmph." Ahem. He takes a bite and then swallows. "Am I that difficult to puzzle out? I thought I'd always been pretty straight-forward with you. I mean, other than the joking around." And surely he's not that difficult to see through when he is?

A twisted halfsmile tugs at the corners of Reiko's mouth, and she shrugs a little. "I... guess not," she says at last. "I just don't like to assume." She straightens her shoulders, drawing herself up just a bit. "I mean, what if you really thought I was only nice to you because I wanted something from you? Like you thought I only had one reason for wanting to visit you." Her voice seems to lose intensity as she continues speaking, barely above a whisper by the time she's finished the thought. Maybe he doesn't even remember the night before, but she'd been oddly stung by his words, and it likely shows even today.

E'ren puzzles a moment, apparently not remembering the conversation the night before (probably to no one's surprise). "What? I never thought that. I mean... I guess if you told me that was the case, I'd believe that, but I'd never think that on my own." Or he'd never want to think it, even if something inside him feared just that. "Really, I don't care why you come to visit, I'm just glad you do. I... I love you, Reiko." There, he's said it.

Reiko just stares at E'ren for a long moment, her fingers tightening reflexively around the mug in her lap until her knuckles turn white. "Nobody's ever said that to me before," she whispers, her voice very small, almost childlike. She doesn't even seem to know how to respond.

E'ren doesn't toss the phrase around very much, so when he does say it, he's certain. "That's a shame. Someone should say it to you every day, you're such a beautiful and caring person." His gaze on her face, he reaches out and touches her hand, trying to get her to relax a bit.

Reiko's hand trembles lightly at his touch, and her eyes are locked on his. The thought of hearing those words every day is even more overwhelming than the compliment. She releases the now-empty mug, though, to take his hand, quietly setting the mug aside with her other hand. "You never let me hide," she whispers, a rueful halfsmile twisting her lips now. "How can I keep from caring about you?" She can't quite make the leap to letting herself love -- the hurt is too deeply held, the fear too close to the surface -- but she's not running away from him, either.