A Garden Confessional

Half Moon Bay Weyr - Fruit Garden

Situated just outside the weyr's bowl is a sprawling garden of fruit trees. Far too regimented to be considered an orchard, neat rows of trees dot what might be better called a courtyard, forming a neat, even grid of shade. Carefully contrived sunbeams dapple light onto the occasional bench, or tiny grottos where firelizards and small avians gather to pick at seed and offerings left in small bowls. In the far corner is tucked a fountain, its soft babbling heard throughout the space. This is mostly due to the garden's clever system of irrigation, trees kept watered despite the predominance of flagstones by a spiderweb of grooves that lead from the fountain into the trees. Water bubbles constantly through the little tunnels set into the stone before eventually being recycled into the lagoon somewhere beyond.

Gardening was an interesting chore to assign Taline, who has about as much experience with plants as she does with dragons (read: none, essentially) but it turned out she was pretty good at it, and found a place she liked in the fruit gardens. Some of the other gardening tasks involved watering plants, but these mostly involved checking things, and once she'd done a lot of digging and pulling and weeding in other areas … the fruit tree garden is a nice place to take a load off and have a drink of water. She's settled on a bench and watching three firelizards, one her own brown and two others total strangers, nibble curiously at fallen fruit. "I thought you only ate meat," she chides, but they're ignoring her. This is an experiment.

Sevran was wandering aimlessly, really, consumed by his own thoughts if his distant expression is any indication. His feet have taken him through the garden, but tending to it he was not. A soft snort, a grimace, and then with a rueful shake of his head he leaves whatever was in his mind behind and focuses on the here and now. Conveniently, he's found his way within the vicinity of Taline's bench at just the right time to overhear her comment. His eyes find the 'lizards in question, and he offers a soft "Huh," and a shrug of his shoulders. "So did I." And then a smile for Taline. "Hey."

"Oxbow — the brown — he's just interested in the rotting fruit smell," Taline is able to inform Sevran, who she now knows both from talking to and because they're living in the same space. Which she … is not handling well. He may or may not have noticed that Taline never seems to sleep. "I can't say what any of the others might be doing, but it could be similar, or just being social because he started it."

"I don't know," says Sevran skeptically. "From what I've seen, firelizards aren't exactly the most intelligent creatures. Not that your brown's not smart," he adds quickly lest he inadvertently insult her. His attention turns back to Taline, friendly and open expression on his face. He motions at the bench with his hand, a question that is quickly spoken. "May I?"

"Smart, no," Taline agrees with a hint of smile, "But sociable, yes, like avians or dolphins in their way. They just chatter at each other. Rot smell is fascinating to him no matter what it is that's rotting, most likely." She glances down at the empty space on the bench, then back up to Sevran, and nods. "Not my bench to say no to."

"True," acquiesces Sevran. "But I find it's polite to ask. You never know how someone feels about an invasion of personal space." Not that the bench is so small as to make things uncomfortable, at least not for Sev. He sinks down with a sign and leans back, letting his muscles relax as he tips his head toward the sky. The shade of the trees keeps the glare out of his eyes, and he watches the clouds without really seeing them. "How's your head?" he asks politely. "You seem to be doing better, from what I've seen of you."

Taline is in fact a great example of someone who is INTENSELY finnicky about personal space. But sitting on a bench where they're not likely to be on top of each other or touching, she can cope. He's not violating it like Teimyrth did, though that was cute, so Teimyrth has gotten away with it. "Better," she says carefully. "Not good. But better. Thank you for asking. How are you finding the — change in life circumstance?"

Sevran is safe, even if Taline may not know it yet. He's the picture of relaxed as he sprawls on the bench. "Glad to hear it," he says sincerely. "One day at a time, right?" He hopes, at least. That's the kind of thing people usually say when it comes to healing. There's a long exhaling sigh at her question. A brief shake of his head and a rueful glance is given to Taline. "That is a hard question to answer. Physically it's easy, right? Chores." Shrug. "I've done worse. But I'd be lying if I said that I was 'OK' with things. I dunno," he offers with a helpless shrug. "I can't really put it into words, you know? I wanna be a candidate. But…" his voice trails off, leaving the rest up to the imagination.

"You do." Taline says that as if she's confirming, but it's not a question, so much as a statement: Sevran wants to be a candidate. So noted. Physically it is not so easy for her, still healing and being put in situations that the rehab experts at the Healer Hall may not have liked … but she can accept that it's actually helping her, and that it's not so hard for anyone else. "I am not sure that I do. But I am also not sure that I don't, so — I try everything once. One day at a time, indeed."

"Try everything once," he repeats. Something about that makes Sevran's grin widen and he can't help but laugh a little at himself. "You can always drop out," he notes. He tilts his head, giving Taline his attention even if it is a weird, awkward side-ways look from the lounging butcher-candidate. Side-eye, but in a friendly way. "Have you tried making a list? My sister was big on that. Make a list of pros and cons, and see which outweighs the other." A beat. "Like… would you miss the dolphins if you Impressed a Dragon? Would it be worth it?"

It's not a bad idea, though hard for Taline to put her finger on exactly, because in her current cognitive state she may not well be able to conceptualize lists or write clearly. That, though, is not information she's going to share; instead, she sort of talks it out. Sort of. Because there's not much personal information in, "Normally I probably would, but I'm Search and Rescue. This Weyr has a wing for it that also works with dolphins, so — " So it's the same thing, really? And why would she be put in any other wing than Archipelago?

"They do," Sevran agrees, "But is that really the same thing? I'm not trying to change your mind," he says quickly, lest she get the wrong idea. "I just think it's a big decision, and shouldn't be taken lightly." Maybe he's speaking about himself now. Of the personal struggle he dealt with before coming to his own decision regarding the white-knot on his shoulder. "But what do I know, right? I mean, I'm in the same boat." Sorta.

"It — can be, I think for many people it is." Taline's smile is thin and slight, but there. "Not many folks take Search and Impression very seriously, so I have heard. There are quite a few who accept candidacy as a lark. I — always take opportunities to evolve and become something new." That is the deepest into her own thoughts on the matter she's going to get, as of yet. Taline's trust is the hardest thing in the world to come by. "Please, elaborate on your boat."

Sevran grunts in agreement with Taline. "I grew up in the Weyr. I saw plenty of candidates take the knot for some silly reason that had nothing to do with dragons. Or they don't understand the duty that is involved." Head shake. Small snort. Sevran clearly has strong emotions around this topic. But he drops it at that. Clearly, Taline and he have considered the consequences; or so he will assume. "Eh…" and there is another long sigh and a flip of his hand in a dismissive manner. "Just that I had to really decide if I wanted this. Or more accurately, if I wanted the possible consequences." Side-eye at Taline, and the butcher-candidate makes a snap decision about whether or not to trust her. "It's stupid, so you have to promise not to laugh."

The consequences have been considered by Taline as well as one with post-concussive syndrome might consider any consequence. She is mature enough to be responsible, and decide that she will take life wherever life throws her, and this is where Life chose. It is a choice made by existence and patterns of fate, rather than a choice another human being forced upon her — so, it goes. It suits well enough. "I would not laugh," she insists. "Not about something serious, I promise."

Sevran will laugh, although really it's more of a self-depricating chuckle. "Not sure how serious this is," he admits. He turns his eyes back to the sky, and a brief look of embarrassment passes over his face before he admits, "I'm kinda terrified that I'll Impress a green." Once the thought is out of his head and into the world, it doesn't sound as bad maybe. He rolls his eyes. "Nothing wrong with greens, but I just… I cannot have a girl in my head." The thought is repulsive enough to make him involuntarily shudder a little.

So, Taline doesn't know much about dragons. But she does know a few things, and foremost among them: that dragons are psychic. "I'm not sure how serious it is either," she admits, "seeing as how the concern may not be one I can entirely wrap my head around but — wouldn't a green … not choose you, if you didn't want one?" She probably wouldn't like having a man in her head either.

"You'd think, being Weyrborn, that I'd know the answer to that, right?" offers Sevran with a dry tone of voice. "But I honestly have no idea. And remember, I told you it was a stupid fear," he reminds her. "But that doesn't mean I don't fear it." A shrug of his shoulders leads to a wiggling reposition as he sits a little straighter and drapes his arms over the back of the bench. "Isn't that the age-old question? What makes a Dragon pick one over the other? Who knows. With my luck, some little green'll pick me just for spite cause I don't want her."

"And then be stuck with you, someone who does not want her, forever." Someone else may have provided a platitude like 'you will always love your dragon,' but Taline … not so much. Her outside perspective could be helpful! It could also be extra useless. "I feel as if that is not a choice even a baby would make. They're meant to be smart enough to know how to make the right choice." Taline purses her lips at this, as if considering it for herself for the first time and not coming up with any true conclusions about whether that right choice might be her or not.

Sevran grins and admits, "I never said it was a rational fear." But he concedes the point with a single shrug of his shoulder. Touché Taline. Touché. A companionable silence will likely settle between them. At least, for Sev it's companionable. He soaks in the warmth and enjoys the reprieve that the break is offering. A glance or two is spared for Taline and, if caught, he'll just offer a friend smile.

Silence makes Taline uneasy, but she's tired, and so she allows it to last for some time before she shatters it. Or maybe just interrupts it, because there's nothing jarring about her soft voice piping up again: "Most fears aren't." Maybe Sevran forgot what they were talking about by that point, but Taline — miraculously — didn't. It's notable when she can keep track of something for longer than three minutes now, so she'll seize it tightly.

Sevran probably did forget. There's a brief look of *lost* on his face. A deer-in-the-headlights moment but, as he runs through the last few minutes, he gets it. "I'll have to take your word for that one." And then a brave question, because Sevran is either feeling bold, or foolish. "Got any you want to share?"

Both? Could be both. Asking Taline something like that is both bold and foolish, though Sevran as of yet has no reason to know that. She decides against giving him as hard a time as she could do, because he was open with her, and this is the best way to inspire openness in return. Which means even less opportunity to talk about herself. "Stairs," she says simply, with no shame but without any lie to it. Stairs really are one of Taline's less than rational fears, and she might argue she has no rational ones. "And — no. Want to, no. I was, however, willing to."

The honesty touches Sevran deeply, though it's likely not to show in his face. A brief look of tenderness flashes across his face, but it's gone in a heartbeat. "Thank you for sharing. Unfortunately I can't do much about stairs," he admits. "Part of life. Especially in a Weyr." A thoughtful question added, "Is it because of your head?" injury. He means head-injury.

Yes, it's because of her head! … Injury, no, not so much. Taline shakes her head very slightly, mostly because if she shook her head any more said injury would be giving her difficulties again. She's becoming fit enough to Impress — hopefully she gets there by the hatching! — but the dizziness when moving her head quickly could be turns yet to fade. "It's because if you fall down stone ones from the top, you die." Again, she makes it sound so sensible. "Which does not mean I avoid stairs." Just has nightmares about them sometimes: another tidbit she is not (yet) sharing.

"I suppose you *could* die," offers Sevran, "But it's not a guarantee. I've fallen down stairs. Not far, mind you, but far enough. It hurt, but I'm still alive." He rubs a hand across his chin, scratching at a bit of stubble. "Are you scared of the falling, or the dying?" he wonders.

"Probably the dying," but Taline hasn't analyzed it, so she can't speak any more to the idea, punctuating this with a little shrug, shoulders to ears and head ducking a little. "I've fallen down a few stairs, too, but the idea of falling down a dark staircase is eerie. So are dark staircases in general, most of the time. Especially dank stone ones." Creepy old Holds, right?

Sevran's eyes squint as he considers things. "Yeah, OK. I can see that. I've gone down a few stone staircases that were bordering on dark and dank. The one down into where we store the meat before butchering could be described that way and I'll admit," he continues, "they can be a bit creepy. Especially when you walk through a spinner's web on the way down. Like an invisible hand tickling over your face. Just adds to the creep-factor," but maybe that's just him.

A nod as Taline pictures cold storage, followed by pulling a slight face. "I have been down in cold storages before and they are — not nice." This also from someone who HATES being cold with such a passion it deserves to be capitalized. "You're probably inured to it, though. The spinner webs would bother me less than the temperature. And the dark is not the problem of itself; dark is nice. Dark and dank is such an unpleasant combination." She idly twirls a few loose strands of hair around her finger, now clearly relaxed (only just shy of putting one foot up).

"I like it," Sevran declares of the cold. "After dragging around 'beasts in the heat and the humidity, it's nice to have a place to cool off. But it can get a bit much, if you spend too much time there or you're not dressed right for it." Grin. "Course, I suppose you had the ocean to cool off in, eh? Swimming with the dolphins. Man. What's that like?" he wonders suddenly, curiosity coloring his voice.

"Yes, I was going to say — cold water I am perfectly happy with," Taline laughs lightly, "Cold air not so much. Never managed to acclimate to it in brief times I've had to be exposed." She even sometimes stayed in the equally-cold water to avoid the air! Illogical, but. "It is … it is like swimming with canines, if you've done that. Swimming, but with loud, chatty companions that want to be petted and maybe to give you rides but mostly to play games."

"Nope," says Sevran. "Never swam with a canine either. Only people. Canines sound very… hairy though." Natural assumption, considering they are covered in fur. "Sounds fun," he decides, honestly. "Speeding through the water. Sounds like a kind of freedom," is his observation. "Do they let non-dolphineers ever do it?" he wonders. Has no idea. Knows *nothing* about dolphins or the craft associated with 'em.

Hairy but wonderful. A good descriptor of canines in general, though that is but one person's opinion. "Can be, but you have to be careful not to get thrown off," comes with a particularly brightly-amused smile to Taline's eyes. "They aren't usually too concerned with keeping riders on when having that kind of fun. And it is up to the dolphins, some will allow non-dolphineers to play with them or ride them. Well. All of them are likely to allow non-dolphineers to play, but some might prefer they stay out of the water until they know how to behave properly."

Sevran's interest is piqued. "Behave properly?" he repeats, the question in his tone. "Is there a code of conduct for dolphins? Like, thinks you can and can't say?" or do? Now he's a bit concerned. "I'd probably muck it up."

"Yes, of course there is, though … it's dolphins." Taline's deadpan expression seems to indicate she thinks this explains everything, and in many ways, it does. "They're like more mature children. Always playful around everything. They don't like doing work unless you can also make it into a game, and they prefer to be spoken to as people rather than as some lesser creature but many also do not like … how do I put this. Being treated as if they are humans." After a pause, she adds, "Little bit difficult to rub them wrong for long, though."

The baffled expression does not leave his face, but Sevran *does* try to understand. "Ok. That sounds complicated," is his ultimate conclusion, "But probably worth the effort." With a bit of a sigh, he pushes himself into a full sitting position, back straight as arms go over his head for a good stretch. "Guess it's a good thing you're the dolphineer and not me, eh?" A good natured grin is flashed at the other candidate. "I better get back, though. I think I've already exhausted the patience of my 'rider for this long of a break." Sevran is assigned as a "rider intern" today. Or so says the choreboard.

Taline's parting words are not words, just a patient and polite playful-salute morphed into a wave, and then her attention returns to trying to get Oxbow away from the rotting fruit so she can go do more weeding. Firelizards are helpful for that, when they're not lazy bums or distracted by squished oranges.

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