Secrets and Hideouts

Western Weyr - Kitchen
Perhaps you followed your nose here.. the cooking aromas are tempting. This is the main kitchen of the Weyr. At any time of the day or night you find cooks and drudges busy making meals and preparing foodstuffs for storage for later use. The cavern has been shaped into a huge room with a domed ceiling. The huge ovens and cooking stoves line the outer wall, their perpetual fires fueled by natural gas from a nearby well. Vent holes pierce the cavern walls, keeping the room amazingly clear of smoke. The inner wall has long counters of smooth stone, carved from the walls. You see a large, heavy looking metal-clad door. This is the large cold storage room, much like a man-made ice cave. The walls are made of volcanic rock, known for it's insulating properties. The heat exchanger is also powered by natural gas.

It's been a long day of kitchen duty. Naeda has been peeling tubers for hours and hours. Perhaps surprisingly, this is actually one of her preferred chores. Maybe not as preferred as lookout duty, but at least it smells better in the ktichens than in the stables or with the children. And smell goes a long way with Naeda. But finally, she has peeled the mountain of tubers. Immediately, she sneaks over towards her fellow candidate, whispering in a conspiratorial fashion. "Pssst! Second in command!"

Rhysanna was also on tuber peeling duty for a while, but she got moved at some point during the afternoon… it may have had something to do with her penchant for talking, and getting distracted. Rhysa has braided her hair for the day's work, and is still chopping an endless line of fingerroots into precise pieces; since her chastisement, earlier, she's been working diligently, but she's still a little behind. Even so, her head turns as Naeda approaches, and her eyebrows lift. "Glorious leader! What's up?"

Rhysa didn't let Naeda braid her hair for her? The shame! But Naeda seems to have forgiven this trespass. She immediately reaches for Rhysanna's sleeve and begins tugging it, apparently trying to steal her fellow candidate into a back corner of the kitchens. "I have made an AMAZING DISCOVERY." She declares. "You must see it. Immediately!"

In future, Naeda can do the hair-braiding. Rhysa doesn't mind, honest. The slightly-older candidate gives the slightly-younger one a glance complete with knitted-brows, but chopping is boring, and… she gives the remaining vegetables a glance, and then hurriedly shoves them into the pocket of her trousers. All done! Now, setting down her knife, she allows herself to be tugged: "I'm coming, I'm coming. Don't let that one cook see me, though."

"Relax! I have found the solution to all of our kitchen chore woes!" Naeda insists with a worrying energy. She ducks down near the corner, kicking aside a little mat with her foot. Underneath is an old dusty trapdoor secured with a lock. "Check it out!" She seems very excited about this.

Rhysanna sucks in a breath that could, indeed, be the precursor to concern— but she's stopped just beside and slightly behind the other candidate, crouching, and now stares over her shoulder at this discovery. "What is it?" she asks, in a hiss of a voice. "Do you have the key? Do you know where it leads?" She's interested, certainly, but also wary: she casts a glance behind them, and then another one at Naeda.

Naeda grins wickedly. "Who needs a key?" Naeda pulls out a little bit of bent metal she has stolen from somewhere. "Just a second…" Where did Naeda learn to pick locks? Who knows! But apparently she does. And she has it open after just a few seconds. That might be extremely worrying. She hefts up the heavy trapdoor. "Tadah! Behold the mysteries!"

This is extremely worrying, but… Well. Trapdoor. Rhysa's eyes light, and though Naeda gets another wary glance, it's obvious that this is secondary to other considerations. Like… trapdoors. She steps forward, peers down, and then starts to climb.

Naeda climbs down swiftly after Rhysanna, lowering the heavy trapdoor after herself. She hops off the little ladder and lands on her feet, grinning proudly as she gestures to the hideout. "Behold!"

"How'd you even find it?" Rhysa wants to know, tone suggesting she's excited about this find: excited and delighted. She turns around, lifting herself up onto her toes as she waves a hand around. "Awesome. I wonder how long people've been coming in here."

"I have my ways." Naeda replies in a sort of wickedly conspiratorial way. "You should know that no secrets are safe from Naeda." She walks on over and flops down onto the shabby old couch. "Now we have a place we can hide, when we need it."

In answer, Rhysa laughs, climbing up onto the armrest of the couch so that she can sit with one foot beneath her, the other propped up in front of her. Out of her pocket, she takes out those fingerroots, offering them towards Naeda: "Want one?" And, "I'm glad you shared it with me. I hate to think how many days I've worked in the kitchen, probably walking right over that spot, and… never knew."

Naeda sits up, snatching one of those fingerroots out of Rhysa's hand with her teeth, gobbling it down like a nibbling firelizard. She smirks playfully afterwards. "Well, you're my best friend, y'know. I have to share my secret hideaways with you."

Rhysanna, in contrast, nibbles at hers, one little pieces at a time. She pauses, midway, to beam at Naeda. "Larya," she says, naming the childhood best friend she has probably referred to a number of times before, "would have been far too nice to even consider opening that lock. Or skivving off, even for a little while. You're a much better best friend. And…" Abruptly, she laughs. "You're probably the last person in the world to abandon me to go off and marry someone."

Naeda grins a little more at that. "Marriage? Me?" The thought is ridiculous enough to have her laughing. "Never… I mean, I'm not opposed to finding a more long term partner someday. But it'd have to be someone very…" She ponders her choice of words. "… open minded. Anyways, now is not the time for that… or any romantic intrigue at all on my end, apparently. But such is life."

"I can't imagine it," agrees Rhysanna, grinning broadly. "I don't care how much you fell for someone, you'd still want… variety? I don't know. I try not to think too much about other people's sex lives." She leans back, pressing her back against the wall, her foot arching in front of her on the arm of the couch. "It's probably for the best, really. I mean, not having anything going now. If you Impress… Those eggs are looking a lot harder."

"Yeah, you've pretty much got it." Naeda says with a matching grin. "I can't see myself ever being totally satisfied with just one person. I mean, it's just how I am…" She looks a bit amused. "You're still a little bit of a hold girl. Other people's sex lives aren't all that taboo here. Wait until you're here for a gold flight." Her smirk takes on a more wry quality. "You have a point. But after too long, a girl starts to crave some hard things /other/ than eggs."

Rhysanna sniffs, overly dramatic. "Just because I was raised by a hold girl-at-heart to have certain… views on life, doesn't mean I am a hold girl. I've experienced plenty of gold flights." She wrinkles her nose, admitting, "Shadhavarth's was awkward. A seacrafter spilled a bucket of water over me and I was wet and he was…" She stops. She's blushing. "Anyway, I thought you preferred soft, round things, in general."

Naeda smirks a little. "You get all the luck." She teases after her account of the gold flight. The account of her preferences also earns a smirk. "Sure, that's true. But that would've been harder to make wordplay about. Besides, at this point I'd just… I dunno. This isn't what I'm used to."

"It's not like we ended up sleeping together or anything," points out Rhysanna. "It was just awkward, and he stared at me, and I ended up going home alone to— deal with it. We can't have a single conversation without it being about sex, can we?" That last remark is blurted out, abruptly, though she doesn't seem bothered. "Mmm. No, I bet it's not. And weyrlinghood would - will? - be worse. Aren't you not supposed to think about it, to avoid warping baby dragon minds?"

"We're attractive candidates full of teenage hormones who live in a barracks full of other attractive candidates full of teenage hormones." Naeda points out, looking up at the ceiling for a moment. "Plus, you're with the guy I used to sleep with. So, what else are we going to talk about?" She teases with a little laugh. Mischief enters her smile. "Well, baby dragons can be very clingy and possessive, it's true. But that's not the /real/ reason, you know." She grins. "The real reason is baby dragons have to filter. Do you want your lifemate asking all your clutchsiblings why you're sticking you fingers /there/ and broadcasting your fantasies? Her clutchsiblings who will promptly pass said images along to their lifemates?"

Rhysanna cannot dispute anything Naeda says, though it prompts her to laugh all the same, and roll her eyes at the other girl. "I suppose," she agrees. It's that answer to her last point that has her flushing, one hand lifted to cover her mouth as she releases a nervous giggling breath. "That's awful," she decides. "No, I don't want that at all. Unsexy thoughts, then. I mean… if it happens. Maybe I'll be back in my own bed, shortly… or, well, not in my own bed." Beat. "I feel like we've had that conversation a dozen times, too. Is this what we've been reduced to: sex and hatching nerves?"

Naeda ponders this for a moment. "… Y'know, you're right. We have had this conversation before. We should talk about something else." Pause. Longer pause. Longer longer pause. "… I went dancing with a Seacrafter the other night." That's the best she could come up with.

During that pause, it's not as though Rhysanna comes up with anything new, either, though she does seem to be trying to think of something. Naeda's eventual attempt is, as a result, seized upon wildly. "Well, that's great! Was she - he? - cute? A good dancer?" Okay, it doesn't really count as a new topic, but it's the best she's got, too.

One hopes this isn't just an extension of the sex topic, or else Naeda's candidacy might wind up in jeopardy. "He was a pretty good dancer." She replies. "Helped lift my spirits a bit. I was feeling just a little blue. Y'know, waiting for the… right. Hatching jitters is off limits. Forgot."

"I think we may have to give up on that 'off limits' thing," Rhysanna decides, ruefully, mouth twisting up at the corners. "I'm glad, though. That it helped. Would you see him again, do you think? Before or after the hatching. And if there were no… candidate rules in the way?" Although obviously interested in the answering, she adds, after a moment, "I don't know if I'd stand again, if I don't Impress. Not even for Miraneith's."

"I might. I mean, maybe just for a little fun." Naeda says with a little grin. "I mean, he cheered me up. The least I could do is 'cheer him up' in return." She waggles her eyebrows. "… Yeah, this would be a little much to do again. Not sure I blame you."

It's the eyebrow waggling that makes Rhysa giggle. "I bet you could cheer up even the saddest of people," she declares, still laughing. "Naeda, chearer-uper-er of Western." Though she settles back against the wall, smirking, that second line of the conversation is a more serious one; one that has her exhaling, lengthily. "Maybe I'll change my mind, if I see you all leave the sands with a dragon and I'm on my own, I don't know. And it's not like I regret all of this. But. I don't know how Mother did it, standing over and over again and never Impressing."

"Oh, I don't know about that." Naeda says with a little smirk, stretching out on the couch. "I tried to cheer Sorel up, remember. Or at least, make him productively angry rather than just sort of generally morose. But, he's a jerk." She leaves that topic with a dimissive shrug. She turns her head to one side lazily so that she can look to Rhysa, a soft little smile on her face. "… Two important things to remember, Rhysa. One is, if you want it, we'll always be friends. Whether you impress and I don't, or vice versa, or we both impress, or neither of us. Things will change, sure. But we won't stop being friends. So you'll never be totally on your own, you know." She stretches again. "And second… you aren't your mother. I know you talk about her a lot, and I get it. But never forget that you're the only one who decides your destiny. You're the only one who knows what's right for you. You're all grown up now, after all."

"Yes, but… Sorel." He's in a completely different class of people, apparently, given the way Rhysanna repeats his name. In any case, she's distracted, turning her own head so that she can consider Naeda directly, and smile - genuinely, even earnestly - in answer to the first of the rest of her comments. "Of course I want it," she says, firmly. "We'll always be friends." The rest, though, has her hesitating, mouth open, words… failing. She exhales, a long, exhausted sounding tired. "Mm. It's… she puts a lot of pressure on me, that's all. And it's hard, so hard, when I disappoint her. I'm trying. Neither of us get to decide what happens at that hatching, right? So… I don't know."

Naeda is quite happy to drop the topic of Sorel. There are much more interesting things to be discussing, after all. "Friends forever." She agrees with a little smile and a nod of her head. "… After all, if that business with Zi didn't drive us apart, what could?" Possibly tempting fate, but Naeda seems to mean this. Her smile is more sympathetic on the topic of Rhysanna's mother. "… My family life is… very different from yours. Maybe it's part of why I'm the way I am and the way you are the way you are." She shrugs. "But… one thing my mom did teach me is that you're the only one who can chose the right course for you. Listen to your heart. That won't steer you wrong."

It's not entirely on-topic, not really, but Rhysa abruptly sits up after Naeda says 'friends forever', clearly eager to say something. She waits until the other candidate has finished and then blurts: "You will stand with me, at the hatching, right? Hold hands, if we need to?" Although she studies Naeda's expression, even now, she doesn't ask what could be an obvious question. Instead, exhaling, "Listen to your heart. That's good advice. The rest… it's all just details, right?"

Naeda smiles a little more at those words blurted out by Rhysa, clearly touched. She nods her head quickly as she answers. "Of course, Rhysanna. I mean, you don't even need to ask. I'd just assumed we'd be there together. It'll make the whole thing a lot less scary." That happy smile persists at Rhysa's answer to her other advice, and another nod is given. "Exactly. That's how I live my life, and it's all worked out pretty well for me."

Rhysanna's cheeks have turned pink, but it's not the deeper shade of embarrassment: she's pleased, and not at all bothered by the overwhelmingly sweet girliness of this conversation. "I had," she admits, "but I wanted to be sure. I don't think I could stand it, alone, so you'd better not Impress before me… in fact, those dragons better come for us together." She presses her hands flat to the knee lifted in front of her. "I'll try it, anyway. It's my turnday, next month, so… it's a good time for trying to rethink things, right? New beginnings and all of that."

Naeda can be a sweet girly girl when the mood strikes her. Like during this conversation, for example. There is a side to her that's a little deeper than the manic mischief maker she usually shows the world, on the rare occasions it bubbles to the surface. Her happy smile remains. "… Just remember, whatever happens, I'm your friend and I'll be supporting you. Okay? That's the most important thing." She pauses a moment, looking tempted to add something, hesitating for whatever reason.

"And the same is also true," agrees Rhysanna, firmly. "Whatever happens. I won't let any of it cause problems between us." She's silent for a few seconds after that, her brows knitting in a way that suggests she's aware that Naeda is holding something back. Cautiously, she takes a deep breath, and then prompts: "Nae?"

Naeda continues to hesitate for a moment, then takes a breath and goes on. "I just wanted to say… shells, this is a little awkward, but… y'know. With what Zi said at the beach the other day…" She averts her eyes for a moment. "… I'm not holding out for you changing your mind about girls, or about me, or hoping you'll want to… do something sexual with me someday." A little frown appears on her face for a moment. "I… know what people think about me. What they say. And I know some people might think that I just want to stay close to you hoping that I'll sleep with you someday. I just… I just wanted to make sure you know that's not it." She looks up at Rhysanna again, oddly shy. "I'm your friend. And I don't want you to have any lingering worry that I'm… using you, or something. Because that's not it. I'm happy with how things are. Does that… make sense?"

It's the averted eyes, and the unusual shyness, that has Rhysanna's mouth opening and her eyes going wide: she's gone pink again. "Yes," she says, probably with more intensity than she intended there to be. "I mean… no, no I don't think we're friends just because… I would never think that of you. It's fine, truly. I promise."

Naeda smiles again, clearly relieved, tension leaving her posture. "… Good. I'm glad. I guess I shouldn't have worried. You get me. I'm not sure everyone does." She looks up at the ceiling for a moment. "… I'm pretty sure Naris thinks I'm crazy. Or at least some sort of degenerate. Well, that one's probably fair by certain holder standards. But… I'm glad you understand me. Thank you."

"Naris thinks I'm crazy, too, if for different reasons. Sorel, too, come to think of it. So… you and me, then, against the world." It's an exaggeration, but one made with an easy laugh; there's no tension here, either. "You're welcome. Thank you for understanding me, too." Then, abruptly, she digs her foot out from beneath her and stretches. "Do you think we're officially off duty now? I want to go for a swim, this afternoon."

"… How did we end up the only sane ones in this candidate class?" Naeda carries the exaggeration further, joining Rhysanna in that laughter. The question prompts her to look up at the trapdoor, silent for a moment. "… I don't hear footsteps anymore, they've probably cleared up. And if they can't catch us, that's as good as being off duty." Sound Naeda-logic. "Besides, the tubers are all finished. And a swim sounds lovely."

This time, Rhysa's laugh is more like a snicker. "Someone had to be sane," she decides, though her eyes, too, are on the trapdoor above them. "Okay, good." It has her dropping her feet back to the floor, stretching up into a stand. "Let's go. If we look busy and important, no one will argue regardless." And so it is. A swim awaits!

Naeda grins wickedly as she hops to her feet, practically skipping over to the ladder. She mounts it and pushes the trapdoor open, holding it again for Rhysanna as she scoots to the side. "… Are we gonna go skinny dipping?" She asks with a brow waggle. Back to classic Naeda.

Tartly: "Maybe." They'll just have to wait and see.

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