Fort Weyr - Living Caverns
// This cavern, having been created by bubbles in the volcanic flow of this extinct volcano, has a breathtaking ceiling — a vast dome that arches high above the heads of the weyrfolk that scurry around beneath it. A hollow echo can be heard from loud enough noises, and the chatterings of various firelizards are consequently multiplied into a chaotic babble. All in all, the living cavern is a loud place.
Tables are scattered around the room, apparently in no particular order. Over to one side near the kitchens, two medium sized serving tables are constantly spread with snacks, klah, and other goodies. The tables look worn, yet perfectly fitted to the atmosphere of the caverns. In the 'corners' of the cavern, smaller two and four place tables are set up for more private talks or just a less chaotic atmosphere in which to eat.//

Early afternoon brings a particular calm to the caverns. Plenty of people swirl around, but there is a relaxed attitude, and they move through fairly quickly. Hazelon lingers near the long tables of food, holding his plate in his hand and leaning against one of the walls. His eyes watch those who come and go, but makes no effort to include himself in their varied conversations.

Another day and Rayathess is back in Fort Weyr again, accompanying a few Journeymen and spending most of his time in the cool semi-darkness of the archives. He's been down there since morning and now he's been told to take some time to himself for food and drink, which he does so with some reluctance. Closer to the living caverns, his appetite does kick in when he catches the scent of some of the food already laid out on the long serving tables. Yet at his approaches on quiet steps, it's not the food he's interested in much longer. It's the young teen leaning against the wall. "Hazelon," Rayathess greets in a simple fashion and says little else, just a lingering look that is neutral at best. No looming, no threatening posture. The young man is outfitted in his usual clothing, most in Harper blue but in a style and cut to be comfortable for the summer weather and he is alert as he looks away to scan the caverns.

Ezra walks in from outdoors, fresh from work, to gauge from his tousled hair and flushed cheeks, his tunic sleeves pushed up past his elbows and the dirt that clings to his clothes, along with wisps of hay. Zoi, his massive white canine, fared no better, her color almost a dull brown as she pads in and pauses alongside her master. In his hands Ezra carries a basket, and takes a few steps towards the hearth before spotting that awkward teen and his brother. Grin on his lips, he strides confidently over. "Hi!" With no hand free to offer Raya a proper greeing, Ezra just smiles at him, and then nods to Hazelon. "Hello again. Staying out of the rain?"

Rayathess might manage neutrality, but Hazelon does not quite. As the older man drawls closer some of the relaxation drips off and Hazelon pushes himself upright from the wall. Rayathess is examined mutely, "S," he cuts himself off abruptly, "Rayathess." When Ezra appears his discomfort grows and he shoots a look at Rayathess again- would he be upset if he spoke to Ezra? But he cannot very well ignore him can he? After another moment of hesitation Hazelon chooses a middle path, "There has been no call to go outside."

Rayathess's expression hardens for that split second moment where Hazelon almost fumbles into that Forbidden Name, eyes flashing with a silent spoken warning before that neutrality settles in again. He's about to say more or perhaps just walk on by to gather some food when Ezra walks in from outdoors, fresh from work and with Zoi in attendance. He starts, glancing hurriedly to Hazelon and then back to his brother, before he returns a simple: "Hey." in greeting. He's in a fine mood this afternoon, isn't he? The young teen is free to talk, Rayathess does not tell him otherwise or gesture to him or chase him off. What he does do is step forwards in a way to place himself between Hazelon and Ezra in a subtle manner and a gradual shift. "What's in the basket?" he asks Ezra, hoping to distract from some of the sudden tension in their little group.

Ezra is not stupid, and he is hyper aware of such things, so he eyes his brother when he moves between them. Green eyes dart to Hazelon, then back to Rayathess as his shoulders tense a bit. There's a threat somewhere, but he can't identify it. Neither can Zoi, her tail wagging as she steps forward to sniff curiously at Hazelon. "Eggs," Ezra says proudly. "Cala clutched. I figure you don't want one?" He's trying to tease his big brother. "Do you want one?" he asks of Hazelon. "You don't have a firelizard, do you? They're useful. Sometimes." Again, he glances at his brother. What's going on?

For just a brief second bitterness crosses Hazelon's face as Rayathess steps between him and Ezra. Just one more reminder. But the canine is sniffing at him, so he turns his attention to the dog, offering a hand to be smelled. When the offer of the firelizard is made though, Hazelon's gaze snaps back upwards. Rayathess gets a quick look before dark eyes focus on Ezra. "That's very generous… No, I do not own a firelizard." It isn't quite a resounding YES, espeically as his gaze flicks towards Rayathess again.

Rayathess doesn't see that second of bitterness in Hazelon or perhaps he feels a sudden urge to be a bit more of a bully by rubbing it in as he reaches out to briefly clasp Ezra's shoulder in a familiar and casual manner, provided he doesn't move away. "Eggs? Huh. Was wondering when Cala would mature. How many?" he asks, his voice carefully kept to a calm tone. He doesn't catch Ezra's little glances, as his eyes linger too long and too often on Hazelon. At the teasing, Rayathess does snort and his mouth quirks into a vague smile. "Three is enough and you know how troublesome mine are. Plus, Cervena lays enough eggs…" He's at his limit! He says nothing to dissuade Ezra or warn Hazelon off of accepting an egg, only falling silent to watch and see if the young teen accepts.

Ezra leans against his brother's clasp, relaxing a bit more when nothing jumps out at him as Dangerous. "Would you like an egg?" Ezra asks again, shifting his weight a bit so he can hold out the basket towards Hazelon. "Just keep the egg in a safe, warm place, and it should hatch in…a while." He doesn't know how long. But not right now, that's clear. Zoi nuzzles Hazelon's hand, sniffing and then licking softly. Pets? She tries to move her head against his hand to make it pet her. "What brings you to the weyr today, Raya?"

Thank goodness for furry creatures as it allows Hazelon to divert his attention away from the surge of envy that Rayathess' simple gesture towards his brother had elicited. He carefully runs his hand along the canine's head, scratching gently behind those ears. "If you've not someone else you were thinkin' of maybe givin' them to , I'd be more than willin' to take one." He risks looking upwards at Ezra, avoiding any disapproval in Rayathess gaze that he is sure will be there.

Rayathess does not look on in disapproval when Hazelon accepts. His expression is too difficult to read beyond what looks to be a reserved sort of coldness. He's cold to Hazelon, but warm to Ezra and when his brother prompts him with that question, his features take on a completely different look. Neutral, but without the underlying tension. "Harper business, as usual. Work in the Archives. Should we get a table and some food?" he suggests and for that brief second it could be taken that Rayathess means only himself and Ezra, though that assumption will be shattered the moment he lifts a hand to point to the basket and vaguely towards Hazelon. "Easier than standing here." In the way, due to their close proximity to all the food.

Zoi leans her considerable weight against Hazelon's legs when he scratches behind her ears, tail fanning the air gently. "No," Ezra admits, "I was going to put them by the hearth and let whoever wants them, take them. It's her first clutch but…" He shrugs. "When Stonehaven opens, her clutches will go to my people, but for now, anyone who wants one can have one." Looking back to his brother, Ezra grins and nods. "Yeah, I'm starving. How about that one over there?" he asks, nodding to a table in the middle of the room, just now being vacated by some riders. They've left dishes behind, but it looks clean other than that.

A smile actually crosses Hazelon's face at the warm reception his is receiving from the furry creature. His plate of food is held up and out of the way though, just in case the creature decides she wants human food. For a moment he loses the thread of conversation then picks it back up with a frown. Surely Rayathess was no including him in that invitation, so instead of assuming that he is, Hazelon will offer, "Would you like me to put them by the hearth while you and your brother eat?"

"Rather generous of you," Rayathess drawls to Ezra, concerning Cala's future eggs. Following where his brother nods, the young man exhales and also dips his head in agreement. "It'll do." Once he's flagged a drudge down to clean it off, that is! Which he'll do, while Hazelon loses himself to giving Zoi some attention and he'll start a bit with the young teen's response. He clears his throat, caught between looking guilty and conflicted. This would be the perfect moment for him to just lead Ezra away and yet he knows he cannot. Not with the way that single line was delivered. "If you are taking one of the eggs, Hazelon, it's best you join us. Isn't that right, Ezra?" Nothing like throwing his brother a bit under the proverbial bus! Rayathess is still looking at the young teen rather cooly and if Ezra is sharp enough, he'll catch on that he used Hazelon's name. So they've met as well!

Zoi isn't interested in food. Just pets. It's like she gets /no/ attention anywhere else. Silly canine. Ezra glances at Hazelon, then Rayathess. "Oh, sorry, I didn't introduce you two." But, wait. "But you've already met?" The use of Hazelon's name sinks in, and he looks between them and smiles. Good! Introductions not needed. Turning, he leads the way to the table and sets the basket down. "Yeah, you need to pick your egg, Hazelon."

Confusion writes itself clearly across Hazelon's face as Rayathess does extend the invitation to him. He rises from petting the canine with one last scratch to the soft fur just behind his ears and steps forward towards Rayathess, trusting Ezra's presence to be enough of a stay on Raya. His voice drops down to a whisper, that Ezra may or may not hear, "I'll leave. Just… tell me to."

Rayathess grimaces, his eyes darting to Ezra. "We have… in a sense, yes." he mutters and leaves it at that. No introduction needed but likely a whole heaping mess of an explanation later. He starts to follow his brother, only to freeze when Hazelon approaches and close enough to whisper. His posture changes then, tensing and guarded, wary and ready to strike or flee. Distrust may as well be written clear as day above his head. Not danger, but certainly distrust and discomfort. Rayathess inhales, licking at his lips nervously when Hazelon gives him that option, a so tempting option, to be rid of him. He just has to say the words and yet as he looks sidelong to where Ezra waits at the table, something in him twists and he sighs. Lowering his head, he'll whisper through his teeth in a clipped tone to Hazelon. "I don't care what you do. I'm not your master, nor do I control you. The offer stands for you to join us and you did accept an egg from my brother." In short, Rayathess is being polite (barely), though his eyes flash coldly. "So. Go sit. Or don't. I don't care." But apparently he does care, in some respect as he stalks ahead the last few steps and promptly flops heavily into his seat, which will keep him close to Ezra. Always close.

Ezra tilts his head curiously at his brother. "In a sense?" What does that mean? Ezra sits, glancing back at Raya and Hazelon, watching with a small frown between his brows. And when Rayathess sits, Ezra leans over to whisper something swiftly to him, low and under his breath.
Ezra whispers "What's going on, brother?"

With that welcoming mat well and truely not at all laid out Hazelon waivers between being polite to Ezra, and giving Rayathess (and himself) the space they both crave. He stands there, biting his lip with hesitation before moving towards the table with his food. The whisper, so soft causes his shoulders to tense as he sits at the chair on the far side of the table and looks down at his food. Here, have awkward silence.

No, there is no welcome mat laid out from Rayathess. Not yet, anyways. The table seems to provide enough space between Hazelon and himself that he begins to relax by a small fraction. "We've met before. At the stables outside of Fort Weyr." he elaborates a little further and then ends it in a tone of voice that speaks volumes: drop it. He doesn't wish to discuss anything further and it's not as though he outright lied. They did cross paths! Yet Ezra is whispering to him and the young teen has settled himself with his food and the obvious awkward silence that fills the gaps between them. A silence he will allow to continue while he whispers back to Ezra and then resumes sitting there, posture stiff and his eyes resting now on the basket.
You whisper "I'll tell you later. Not now." to Ezra.

Ezra glances between his two tablemates, frowning. Huh. He looks at the eggs, at Hazelon. "Which one do you want?" Then he seems to remember he has no food, and gets to his feet. "Be right back." And…he leaves them both at the table to go get food, giving Rayathess' shoulder a squeeze as he goes. A promise? A warning? Impossible to tell. Zoi plops herself down under the table, hoping for some scraps.

Hazelon is started out of his silence by the abrupt seeming question from Ezra. "Um," is about all he manages before Ezra is rising and leaving him and Rayathess alone. He'll flick a glance at the older man, then put his eyeballs right back on his plate of food. Like he's really going to be able to eat…

Oh, the awkwardness! It could be cut with a knife right now. Rayathess does little to help too, watching as Ezra leaves and frowning heavily at the mixed and lost message when he squeezes his shoulder. Grimacing, he won't stop his brother from leaving but it does put him in an odd spot (and one he created himself!), now that he has a moment alone with Hazelon. "Why're you acting so shardin' submissive?" he hisses at the young teen. Food? What's that? He came here too for lunch and yet not a scrap of food (sorry Zoi!) is in front of him, despite the protests of his hungry stomach. "Aren't you going to pick?" An egg. This he says in a normal and casual voice, gesturing with a jerk of his head to the basket. "Must've made an notable mark on him, if he's offering." Or his brother is just a kind hearted and generous person! Unlike his older brother.
Ezra gets a little of this, a little of that…picking at the offerings on the table. Hmm. Does he /really/ need that piece of pie? Yes. Yes he does. And should he be good and get water? Or ale? Hmm. Ale. He's earned it! And this scrap of meat, that'll be good for Zoi. No one would eat it anyway…

Something flashes deep in Hazelon's eyes, the personality he keeps hidden under his ghost facade. He closes his eyes, forcing it down again, then licks his lips. His answer, when he replies, has no heat in it. "I do what I need to do to stay hidden." Rayathess will understand or he will not. Hazelon fidgets with the food on his plate, pushing it aside with one finger before glancing at the basket. "I don't know which one to pick."

Rayathess may catch that glimpse in Hazelon's eyes but he certainly does understand what the young teen is hinting at. "It's more than just staying hidden." he grumbles, no heat in his voice. "You draw too much attention behaving as you do when you cannot escape." So… he's giving advice now? It's hard to say, but the awkwardness is beginning to make his skin crawl and he fidgets. Where IS Ezra? "You just do. At random or… take a moment to look at the shells and see if one sticks out or not. You've at least the luck to pick." May as well use it?

Ezra returns to the table with his plate, sitting down and promptly feeding Zoi under the table. Yeah, he's that guy. "Did you pick one?" he asks, smiling warmly at Hazelon. "Did you get to see Raya's runner when you were out in the stables?" Y'know, that one time they met? "Beautiful, isn't he?"

"It has served me well for three…" but Hazelon cuts off abruptly when Ezra returns and sits at the table. He licks his lips again and rubs at the back of his neck. "Uh, that one that looks like a pebble?" He points at the egg, purposefully not looking at Rayathess whatsoever. "I don't know much about runners to be honest."

Rayathess frowns heavily when Hazelon begins and then cuts off so abruptly, but the reason why is obvious enough and he does not press further. A brow quirks when the young teen makes a hasty pick of the eggs but he makes no further comment, save to elaborate on the sparse reply. "It was a hot day and I had just ridden in with the other Journeymen. The runner was only in the stables a moment before the stablehands came and cooled him down properly and took care of the tack. Perhaps another time." he murmurs and he too purposely does not make eye contact with Hazelon. Instead, he'll try to pluck some of the food from Ezra's plate. A small little bite, since he isn't about to get up now to go get food and leave Ezra there with Hazelon.

Ezra glances between them again, and then into the basket. "Sure!" he says with a smile. "Come find me tonight when you get a basket and some sand? Room 1409 is mine. For now." There's a little smile, a touch sad, as he takes a bite of his food. "Ah," he says, reaching out to gently smack his brother's hand. Not a true protest, but he can't let it go without /some/ response, right? "So did you guys fight over a girl or something?" he asks, giving both of them a rather pointed 'I know you're keeping something from me' look. And ignoring Raya's earlier warning to drop it. Nope. Not going to. Annoying little brother, activate!

"No," Hazelon answers quickly, his face taking on a tinge of colour as he sits back again, his plate drawing his eyes neatly. Oh look, food. Half-heartedly he reaches out and picks up a much cooled piece of meat and bites into it.

Rayathess just stares at Hazelon when the young teen answers so quickly and simply. That awkwardness? Just ramped up all the higher. He's starting to grow uncomfortable and uneasy, fidgeting and jaw working silently. Which also means his temper is rising with it. Ignoring Ezra's protest to him snatching some of the food, he'll only grunt when his hand is smacked and then just tries again anyways. "No, it wasn't a girl. Just a…" He fumbles for a moment to find a correct and cryptic enough term. "… misunderstanding. It's been resolved." No, it hasn't. If anything, it's been made worse! Rayathess says nothing for a few heartbeats and then jerks his chin to the basket. "When they do to hatch, do you figure?"

Ezra glances between them again. "Has it?" he asks his brother, brows arched. "The eggs? No clue. This is her first clutch, so…" How long /does/ it take? He eats more food, watching Hazelon.

Hazelon can at least agree with Rayathess on this. "Yes. resolved. Sorry to be worryin' you." If that is what he was feeling. His own unease mirrors Rayathess as he keeps a side of an eye on the older man as if he might just explode any moment and Hazelon will need to run. "Maybe I could be askin' one of the others I work with how long is typical." There, normal conversation again? Except Hazelon has abandoned any attempt at even looking like his trying to eat. His stomach is too tied up in knots.

Rayathess was going to answer, but Hazelon beats him to it and promptly goes quiet again. There doesn't seem to be any signs of his temper exploding, though it's obvious he's not happy and is uncomfortable. It'd all be resolved if he just talked but he refuses too. Typical! "Don't all firelizard eggs hatch around the same time?" he murmurs, glad for some semblance of "normal" conversation. "They look rather hard already."
Ezra kicks his brother under the table. For lots of reasons. Then he says, "No, not yet. She just clutched them a few days ago… Just get a basket and some sand, come get it tonight from my room. Keep it warm, and it'll hatch when it's ready." He shrugs, clearly unconcerned with it.

Hazelon misses the kick under the table. "I'll do that." But then he shoots Rayathess a look, almost as if he is asking permission to do just that, then adds quickly, "if I can be havin' the time." Poke, poke, poke he goes at the food.

Rayathess grunts when Ezra kicks him under the table and he will promptly kick him back. Stop that! He levels him with a look then. They'll talk later. Not right now. Not out here, in the very public living caverns! "Where'd she clutch 'em anyways? Looks like you had to search…" he mutters to his brother, likely only noticing now how dirty he is. As for the meet up later outside of Ezra's room… Rayathess frowns but he holds his tongue. He disapproves and if he could he likely would have been an annoying shadow but he can't. He has to return to the Hall tonight when the Journeymen return and that likely grates against his nerves something fierce.

Ezra glances down at himself. "Oh, she clutched them in the hay loft. But that's not why I'm dirty." He doesn't elaborate though, getting to his feet. "Hazelon, why don't we just go find you a basket and some sand now? Think I know where to find some, way back in the caverns."

Hazelon shoots an abrupt and panicked look at Rayathess, sure that this invitation is going to cause a reaction. "Nono, it's, it's fine." He scrambles to his feet much too quickly and sweeps up his plate… and Ezra's too for good measure into his hands. "I'll be comin' by tonight. Been workin' in the stores long enough to know which baskets I can be takin'."

Now Ezra is playing the 'let's not elaborate' game? "Work?" Rayathess assumes, giving his brother another long look before he snorts and looks away. Possibly to hide the grimace that follows when Ezra so obviously offers Hazelon an escape. So he prepares to awkwardly remain there at the table, missing most of Hazelon's abrupt and panicked look. So his reaction isn't caused by the invitation, but more to the young teen scrambling to his feet and sweeping up those plates. Suddenly, Rayathess is on his feet too, hands braced against the table… only to let go as he sinks back, embarrassed beyond embarrassed by his reflex action. "Sorry." he mumbles. My, my, someone is twitchy!

Ezra jumps a bit and takes a small step back when Hazelon stands so quickly, and grabs his plate. "Uh. Alright." Raya stands, and Ezra grips the shoulder of his tunic and tugs. "Let's go for a walk." Now. Please. Zoi also scrambles out from beneath the table, confused at the sudden and swift commotion, her keen eyes looking from damaged young man to damaged young man…to damaged young man. "Tonight," Ezra says with a nod for Hazelon.

Hazelon manages not to retreat backwards when Rayathess shoots to his feet, but it is a close, close, close thing. Some food slips from Ezra's plate though and lands right in front of the canine. "Tonight," Hazelon will say one last time before retreating away from the brothers, the shame that engulfs him, and the confusion that Rayathess causes.

Rayathess finds his shoulder suddenly gripped and tugged at and he'll tilt his head to peer sidelong and upwards at his brother from beneath a heavy, almost scowling frown. What? "Fine." he agrees, though it's obvious that he'd prefer to just… sit and try to pretend that whole incident didn't happen. So he'll stand again but this time his movements are unhurried. He'll watch as Hazelon retreats, grimacing and expression conflicted. Feeling guilty, perhaps, for his continued (and very misplaced) distrust of the young teen. He DOES need to talk about it, since so far keeping it to himself has… lead him nowhere in understanding why he considers Hazelon a threat. Shaking his head, he'll motion for Ezra to lead on. He'll follow.

Fort Weyr - Arc Stone Bridge
Stretching the span of a deep chasm hundreds of feet below, the bridge connects one cordillera to the next. Engineered by imaginations of historic times, the bridge has stood between these plateaus for ages. Built solidly with a technique lost to those of today, there is evidence that it has become slightly weather worn, but is also indestructible. A dragon span in width, the bridge is constructed out of huge blocks of stone, layered in a fashion that each chuck supports the next and carries the burden load to the base, where it is meted together with the walls of the bowl - there by creating an arch in the design.
Exposed to the elements, the bridge is often dangerous to navigate. Winds or ice could become a potential threat, which is why the sides of the bridge have been built up with stone guard railings, reaching at least five feet in height. Scenic views aren't necessarily easily accessed for those who are smaller in height, for the rest, the view can be disorienting due to the height but spectacular otherwise. One can view the central and northern bowls from here, as well as get a glimpse of the hatching cavern and the training complex.

Ezra leads his brother up, and out, out onto the bridge. Out to the very center, where they can stand suspended in space and /talk/. Though Ezra doesn't start. Hands in his pockets, he just turns to watch his brother, his expression a mixture of confusion and concern. So…you first.

Rayathess steps out onto the stone bridge, giving his brother a curious look when it seems that this is where he wishes to talk. Of course, left to him, 'talking' will take time. Ezra shouldn't be surprised that he's met with silence as Rayathess slowly steps closer to the stone guard railings. He doesn't seem to mind the height, which to some would be disorienting, and it is there that he will stand for several minutes in silence, scowling at nothing in the distance as he wrestles with his thoughts. What to say? Tell or not to tell? This is his brother. He has a right to know, doesn't he? Yet at the same time, he'd be taking away Hazelon's ability to "hide" from another. Rayathess knows who he is… is it his right to expose that to Ezra? Given he warned (or threatened) Hazelon to keep quiet about him, as Setha, in those thrice blasted camps. Poor Ezra will just have to be patient while Rayathess weighs his options. In the end, Rayathess picks family and with a heavy sigh, breaks the silence. "Hazelon is a youth from the camps. That's how I know him." Simple, to the point and spoken low enough for only Ezra to hear. Not that it matters, as no one else is walking the bridge at the time but old habits often don't change.

Ezra is patient, a skill born of necessity. Most of his life has been spent waiting, and while someday he'll snap and be /done/, for now, (and likely for always, when it comes to his slightly damaged brother), he will wait. Rayathess' news startles him though, Ezra visibly jerking, hands clenching in his pockets. "Is he a threat?" is the young heir's immediate response, voice low and hushed. Biting. Angry. Defensive. /Ready/.

Rayathess watches his brother carefully and scowls at the low and hushed voice. This biting anger and defensiveness was likely what he was hoping to avoid. Again, there is a stretch of silence as he cautiously filters through his memories. Those dark, dark memories he so loathes to revisit. "I'm not sure." he mutters. Not exactly reassuring! "He doesn't behave now as I remember him. He's… passive. Maybe that's his true self." Rayathess would understand and SHOULD understand how that feels. How it was necessary to split oneself in half in order to survive. "I don't know. That he's been in the Weyr as long as he has though and so hidden… Something isn't right and yet I can't wonder if it's just my overreaction and paranoia or if I'm right." Not that he has given poor Hazelon a chance to explain himself!
Long distance to Hazelon: Rayathess whoos! :D I'm glad that he's getting some growth and depth!

Ezra frowns, hands still clenched in his jacket. "Why didn't you tell me?" he asks, staring at his brother. Earlier, he means. "He's going to come to my /room/ tonight, Raya." Shoulders are stiffening, and no…Rayathess isn't helping things at all. All Ezra has learned from the camps is bad.

"There wasn't time?" Rayathess points out, giving Ezra a level look. "We were also in the living caverns. I couldn't think of any way of warning you that wasn't obvious or would tip Hazelon off that I was about to expose him to you. He's clearly trying to remain… faded and hidden. He told me as much, when I saw him in the stables. Says he works hard with the jobs they give him and wants no trouble." But does Rayathess believe that? No. There's doubt in his eyes, though it makes him ashamed to feel it. His eyes flash when Ezra begins to stiffen and the reminder that Hazelon will be coming by later tonight and Rayathess will not be there. "I'm not the one who invited a random stranger to my private quarters?" he snaps, only to look instantly regretful for that. He swears out loud and then sighs, "Sorry. That was mean of me." No. Really? "I don't think he is a threat in a way that… Lyreh was. I can't put my finger on it. I don't know if I just don't trust him because I don't KNOW the real version of him. I know Hazelon of the camps, but who to say that's his nature? You know that I… was not the same? Neither was Laurali. We adapted and coped. Hazelon may have too." Maybe, maybe, maybe! Nothing concrete or reassuring and Rayathess knows it, growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of any answers. Stupid man, if he'd just talk like he does now to the young teen maybe he'd get somewhere.

Ezra scowls. "I /assumed/," he snaps back, bristling, "that if it were a problem you'd say something." Step in. Protect him. Like he /always/ does. "He's been in the weyr this whole time?" Hmm. And Ezra hasn't been murdered yet. Food for thought. He shakes his head firmly, fingers pushing through his hair and then finding Zoi's ears to ruffle. /Zoi/ likes him. His fingers tasted good. He snorts. "Well I won't let him close to me if he has a bow in his hand, how about that." Someone's pissy. Shoulders hunch, and he huffs. "How was he in the camps?"

Rayathess mirrors his brother and bristles now in return. Why didn't he say something? It irks him to be reminded that he's failed in that regard. He had promised to protect him. "Well, I'm saying it now?" he mutters lamely, sulking. No, Ezra is still very much alive and not murdered yet. Which should be a sign that Rayathess is letting his paranoia and anxiety blind him. Whyever would a youth from the camps seek out to assassinate his younger brother? If anything, Rayathess is more at risk since HE betrayed the camps and had most of the youths orphaned with their parents now gone and exiled. That may explain why he's so nervous around Hazelon, if the young teen is even aware of what he did when he went with the adults to Gold Hill. Oh, the life of a traitor! "Yes, so he's claimed. Which would make sense, since he said it was after the trials…" Rayathess grimaces and then glares at Ezra. "Not funny, brother." he mutters darkly and shifts his weight off of one of his feet. Thanks for that memory! "He was like any other youth. Did what had to be done to survive."

Ezra steps closer to his brother, shifting a bit to gently lean against him. "Thanks for telling me," he murmurs. He grits his teeth, fidgets with his hands in his pockets, and then sighs, rubbing Zoi's ears again. "Well, if he hasn't done anything yet…maybe…he's just…trying to start over? I mean, he's younger than I am. Probably didn't have a choice to be in those camps." Probably not a deranged murderer leading them both to their deaths, right? Probably not. "He knows who…we are?" Last names. Backstory.

Rayathess doesn't protest Ezra's approach or leaning against him, shifting his weight to support his brother easily against his side. "Yeah, you're welcome." For the fat lot of good it did either of them! Now he'll be stressing about Hazelon and Ezra meeting later, his mind playing through so many scenarios. Good and bad (and just downright dark). "No, I doubt he did. Not many of the kids had a choice. Could be he's trying to restart. Like me, like Laurali and the others…" So many others. Rayathess shakes his head again and his mouth draws into a thin, grim line. "He called me by 'Setha'. I don't think he knows… and if he does, it must not mean anything to him." Aside from another snippet of sordid history at the hands of Laris.

Ezra continues to lean, and then winces. "I think I said my last name when I met him the first time… He…shards." He remembers now. "He acted so /strange/. Like he couldn't wait to get away from me. I thought he was just shy…" He fidgets then, straightening away from Raya and moving, pacing. Then he growls. "I /hate/ that he keeps…tainting things." He. Him. /That/ one. "I just want him /gone/ already." He kicks a stone, watching it sail down, down, down…to the bowl below.

Rayathess grimaces and then sighs. “Nothing can be done of it now. Of course he acted strange. He does the same to me…” For far different reasons. He wasn’t exactly pleasant to poor Hazelon. He won’t stop Ezra when he straightens and paces away, his own expression dark and brooding, green eyes following the stone’s downward plummet to the bowl below. “Unfortunately it will take Turns, if not generations, to undo a lot of that taint.” he mutters. “Most we can do is just… move on.” Easier said than done. “I don’t think Hazelon is a threat. Not to you, anyways.” Rayathess says after a time, still frowning and his hands clenched at his sides. He doesn’t pace, but his posture is stiff and his eyes troubled.

Ezra scowls, pacing back and forth, trying to work off his anger, his frustration, his anxiety. Rayathess isn’t helping matters, and when Raya is tense, Ezra is tense. “It’s impossible to move on when things keep happening,” he mutters. Overly dramatic, perhaps, but… He shakes his head firmly. “It’s not our fault Laris was a madman.” Why, then, do they have to keep dealing with the things - the broken people - he left behind? Then Ezra halts, pale eyes seeking his brother’s face. “To you?”

Rayathess can’t help it, being as tense as he is. It’s how he works through his anxiety and frustration. Anger is lingering there too, but he’s keeping a careful hold on it. Otherwise… things would not be pretty. “He would have been at the trials. I thought… I had kept tabs of who went where. Yet he slipped through the cracks.” As they’ve learned to do. He grimaces, “No, it’s not our fault. It was no ones fault for what Laris did.” If only he had answers to those unspoken questions, but he does not. Rayathess does not look to Ezra, his eyes have turned to the bowl again. “Maybe. Hazelon knows… things. He recognized me.” And that is, apparently, a threat?

Ezra winces. The trials. He remembers those. He remembers what he did, so hurt and foolish and stupid. He remembers the protests of those exiled, the relief on those spared. He remembers children suddenly orphaned, and he remembers feeling a sort of angry, bitter, vindictive satisfaction that other children were now as alone as he was. And then feeling horrible for having those feelings. It wasn’t the childrens’ fault. And he of all people should be happy when other families are kept whole, not darkly satisfied when others suffer has his has. It was not a good time for him. Not good memories, and he struggles to push them aside. “So he wasn’t one of Laurali’s?” he asks quietly, pausing in his pacing to watch his big brother. “What does he know? Brother,” he says, approaching again, his voice quiet. Imploring. Please, tell him. “What could he know that would be a threat to you? Or…did something happen in the camps?” Ezra’s imagination is getting the best of him. Thinking of possible scenerios. Perhaps Raya - as Setha - had to doll out a punishment on the younger boy. Perhaps Setha had to beat him, or hurt him, or perhaps he testified against his parents. The camps… Ezra twitches, feeling a twisting of guilt in his gut. He didn’t have to experience that. The days he spent in Stonehaven, alone with the dead, were nothing compared to the turns of trauma and abuse and captivity others suffered in those camps. He was safe. He was at the weyr. He was priveledged, with a room, with locks, with food, with safety. He is guilty for that, and will always be, despite him having no control over it. He didn’t know of the camps. He didn’t know his brother and sister survived. He didn’t know.

It was not a good time for many people. Not for Ezra and not even for Rayathess himself. He had very mixed feelings about those trials. For those men and women responsible for crimes, some inumerable and unforgivable, he holds no regret or guilt for the fate given to them. That was their choice and now they’ve paid the price. The children, though… he does feel guilty for them. Viewing them as innocent, despite some of them having to do acts of their own that would be viewed as ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ by most society. But what else were they to do? That was their lives, what most of them had been born and raised into. “Hazelon? No, I don’t think so. I only know of the four… Marin, Iskim, Ennrian and Firarrion, though those last three are now S’ki, N’an and F’rari with Marin as a brownrider.” Rayathess recites, his tone flat and without much inflection as he pulls the names and information from memory. Someone’s been keeping tabs! Probably a lot more than he ever lets on. Creepy? Maybe just a bit or there’s a grander thing in the works. Did Rayathess know those children too? Hazelon as well? He doesn’t elaborate. “He’d know everything,” he states simply, levelling Ezra with a look. What is there to say? He should have an idea of what knowledge would lie between himself and Hazelon. Maybe Ezra already touched on it with his runaway thoughts. Rayathess could have fought Hazelon. Resources were scarce and while deep down his nature told him to help the others, he’d have to weigh his options. Let the others get to whatever meagre supplies were there or scrap and fight for it, to ensure his sister and himself did not suffer. So it’d not be any surprise if Hazelon and Rayathess clashed at some point or lived warily side by side, always guarded and waiting. Not the best environments to build friendships… Not one’s built on trust, anyways.

Ezra sighs, stepping to the railing again and curling his fingers around the stone thoughtfully. “Mmm,” he grunts softly. That Rayathess kept track of the other children comes as no surprise to Ezra. It’s the sort of thing he’d do. The young heir slips into silence, thoughtful, contemplative, and staring down at the bowl beneith them.

Rayathess welcomes the silence and does not push his brother into talking. He’ll just quietly come to stand beside him and for a few moments thats all he does, staring off ahead and lost to his own troubled and conflicted thoughts. After a short span of time, he’ll lift his hand and clasp it to his brother’s shoulder, squeezing firmly. “Will you still be meeting with Hazelon, then?” he asks, only to pause and glance downwards. “… because I could be wrong about him.” Oh, if he only knew how wrong! “Could be he just slipped through the cracks. Like Laurali did.”

Ezra straightens beneath his brother’s hand, standing tall under it. “I will,” he says after a moment’s thought. “I told him I’d give him an egg and I’ll stand by that.” There’s a pause. “If he’s gone unnoticed for so long…” Logic is beginning to win out over ungrounded fears. “But I trust your judgment too,” he adds, glancing up at his brother. “Like Laurali…yes.” There’s a sad smile there. “Who would have thought that Laurali…” Would have turned out as she did? Ezra chuckles softly, shaking his head. “Never would have thought. She’s something else, Raya…” he murmurs. “Strong. So strong, and yet…so vulnerable too. Like the rest of us I suppose.” Us. Them. The children swept up in the madman’s march across Pern. “Yes, I’ll see Hazelon. And see what happens. I’ll be safe,” he promises, reaching up to clasp his brother’s shoulder in return.

Rayathess nods his head in agreement to Ezra’s decision to stick by his word. Logic is winning out over ungrounded fears and some of his anxieties are being silenced. Not all of them, but enough that he may not bristle so much towards Hazelon in the future. Will he trust him? That remains to be seen. “She is something else, given she could have given up. Many, many times. Just given up and turned away…” Like Lyreh did. He doesn’t have to say it, his exhale says it all. “Yeah, like the rest of us. She’s a good person. Broken, but good.” Aren’t they all? Rayathess frowns, quiet again and in his thoughts but his arm will slip around Ezra’s shoulders and hug him close. Abrupt and sudden, but it’s a heartfelt and genuine hug. So are the words he speaks next: “Please be safe, Ezra. I’m beginning to seriously doubt Hazelon is a threat. But… might be best you pretend you don’t know. It’s dishonest, I know, but maybe if you just pretend… befriend him to a degree as someone ‘not of the camps’, he’ll stop with being so skittish and shy.”

Ezra leans against his brother, arm around his shoulders in return, hugging him tightly and savoring the contact. When he thinks back to those days, those turns when he thought he was gone…His hug tightens. “Broken, but good,” he murmurs. “Sometimes I wonder…” And he cuts himself off, shaking his head. “I will be safe,” he promises. But then he shifts, looking at his brother in confusion. “Pretend? But…it was pretty clear we were going to talk about it. I…no.” No? “I don’t want to keep that from him. He deserves to know who knows.” It’s his secret to share, even though Rayathess shared it. “But I’ll try to give him…a fair chance. Like Laurali…” He keeps thinking of Laurali. She was of the camps. And look how good she is. Look how much he trusts her. But look at Lyreh too. Does he trust her? No. So. “I’ll have to see. Camps are no, maybe he’s a good person, maybe he’s not.” Time will tell and he’ll try not to get murdered in the process of finding out.

Rayathess hugs back just as tightly. “Sometimes you wonder… what?” he presses gently, only to shift when Ezra does and look down at him. No? He frowns, “Ezra…” he begins to warn and then quiets to listen. In the end, he only sighs. “Suppose you’re right. At the same time… it may upset him. He may feel threatened or — I don’t know. Just be careful.” How many times is he going to say that? “Perhaps I was unfair to Hazelon. I never… really gave him a chance.” Understatement. “We’ll have to see. Until then, just be cautious. Not guarded, per say but…” Cautious.

Ezra leans against him. “Sometimes I wonder if I have to marry a holder. I haven’t connected with…with /any/ of them, Raya. Not like how I’ve connected with Laurali. They’re all…so different…” Different from him. He’s the outsider of the heirs, of the children of local Holds. He sighs, and then pulls his attention back to the matter at hand. “I will be careful,” he promises. “I will.” The he shrugs. “Well he didn’t seem like he was making things easy either,” he murmurs, always in his brother’s defense. He squeezes his shoulders with a smile. “I’ll be careful, Raya, I promise. I think I could take him.” An attempt at humor. Though it probably falls flat.

Rayathess quirks a brow and gives Ezra a look. A searching one that ends with him smiling faintly, just a little twitch at the corners of his mouth. “You don’t. Not technically… There’s been instances. I think Conclave only gets flustered if its a Major Hold. Bloodlines and whatnot and all that nonsense. And you’re certain you’ve not connected? You’ve only been considering a possible wife for… how long now?” He chuckles softly and then promptly sobers. “… do you want me to look into it?” he asks hesitantly and then allows the subject to drift again. “Of course he wasn’t. He was uneasy and guarded. I don’t think he wants folks to know who he was or where he was from. Which is why you need to confront him… gently.” No cornering! Bad, bad idea. Rayathess snorts, “I’m sure you could.” he drawls but his smirk says otherwise. It didn’t entirely fall flat? Because he’s ruffling Ezra’s hair in the next instant — or trying to.

Ezra shakes his head. “I haven’t yet…and…not long, I know. But…” He sighs. “They’re either so up tight, or airy, or not smart, or so proper, or don’t look like they’ve done an honest day’s work. I don’t know if they’re only sending me their second daughters, their thirds, their fourths…” He’s beginning to suspect the Holders aren’t sending him their ‘prime’ daughters, and while part of him understands, another part of him is insulted. “Lots of them grew up together.” He glances at his brother. “If…things had been different, you would’ve gone to all their outings, and been a part of their group. They go hunting, and camping, and boating, and travel, and winter in Boll…” It’s a culture. One he doesn’t belong to and never will. He has to /work/. He has no time for that social scene. “It hasn’t been long though,” he agrees. “I just want a wife that is not only good for Stonehaven but good for me, as well. And I don’t know if I can have both.” So which would he choose? Stonehaven. “I’m not saying I want to marry Laurali,” he says quickly, flushing a bit. “Just…she’s my…she’s what I compare everyone else to.” Cough. He’s quiet a moment, and then he shakes his head. “No. Odds are…I’ll find someone.” And there will be no need to look into it and possibly raise questions that shouldn’t be raised. Then he nods. “Gently. Of course.” Ducking his head, he lets out a soft but startled and genuine laugh at the hair ruffling, reaching up to try and return the favor.

Rayathess scoffs softly, “You’ve just about described most holder girls. Ones of a certain upbringing anyways, one’s considered “proper” for an heir. A working holder girl? Ha!” He seems to find that amusing, until he realizes Ezra may not find that amusing at all. Clearing his throat, his expression is sheepish. Sorry? He shakes his head, “Perhaps or perhaps not. We’d have been cotholders. Not sure how many of those outings we’d have been invited too. Not sure if I’d want to be, personally.” Social scenes? Not his thing, except if his duty as a Harper requires it. “She’s your good friend?” Rayathess drawls in reference to Laurali, still giving his brother a lingering look. HE may not want to know, but Rayathess is curious now if this girl has a past. “Perhaps you can’t have both… but you should be cautious as to what you sacrifice for your hold. To be married to someone…” And possibly not love them? His expression turns grim. He’d hate to see his younger brother caught in such a web. “And if you don’t?” Rayathess asks softly, before they break into their game. Hearing Ezra laugh is like a healing salve to his ears and he tries to duck and evade his brother’s return ruffling. “Hey! Shells. I forgot how tall you are now.”

Ezra grins, reaching up to try and ruffle his hair again. “Almost as tall as you!” Just one mere /inch/ shorter. Then he relaxes, leaning against his brother’s side in a typical teen slouch. “I have to have a working holder girl,” he murmurs. “Stonehaven is too tough for anything but.” There’s a nod. “She’s my good friend, yes.” A nod, sober and thoughtful for his brother’s advice. “I know.” He knows. Could he marry someone /just/ for Stonehaven? He doesn’t think so. And yet, the pressure to marry and produce heirs has weighed heavily on him despite his young age, ever since that thirce blasted document from Fort Hold. He wants to remove that from his brother’s shoulders. “If I don’t? I…I have to.” There’s no option to not. “Unless I wanted to foster. To adopt. But children need a mother.” He’s firm on that.

Rayathess scoffs softly, "You've just about described most holder girls. Ones of a certain upbringing anyways, one's considered "proper" for an heir. A working holder girl? Ha!" He seems to find that amusing, until he realizes Ezra may not find that amusing at all. Clearing his throat, his expression is sheepish. Sorry? He shakes his head, "Perhaps or perhaps not. We'd have been cotholders. Not sure how many of those outings we'd have been invited too. Not sure if I'd want to be, personally." Social scenes? Not his thing, except if his duty as a Harper requires it. "She's your good friend?" Rayathess drawls in reference to Laurali, still giving his brother a lingering look. HE may not want to know, but Rayathess is curious now if this girl has a past. "Perhaps you can't have both… but you should be cautious as to what you sacrifice for your hold. To be married to someone…" And possibly not love them? His expression turns grim. He'd hate to see his younger brother caught in such a web. "And if you don't?" Rayathess asks softly, before they break into their game. Hearing Ezra laugh is like a healing salve to his ears and he tries to duck and evade his brother's return ruffling. "Hey! Shells. I forgot how tall you are now."

Ezra grins, reaching up to try and ruffle his hair again. "Almost as tall as you!" Just one mere /inch/ shorter. Then he relaxes, leaning against his brother's side in a typical teen slouch. "I have to have a working holder girl," he murmurs. "Stonehaven is too tough for anything but." There's a nod. "She's my good friend, yes." A nod, sober and thoughtful for his brother's advice. "I know." He knows. Could he marry someone /just/ for Stonehaven? He doesn't think so. And yet, the pressure to marry and produce heirs has weighed heavily on him despite his young age, ever since that thirce blasted document from Fort Hold. He wants to remove that from his brother's shoulders. "If I don't? I…I have to." There's no option to not. "Unless I wanted to foster. To adopt. But children need a mother." He's firm on that.

"But not taller!" Rayathess teases back and leans into Ezra's side. Slouching is fine and welcomed! "Agreed, brother. A prim and fragile flower won't take well to Stonehaven." he mutters. Clearly, Rayathess' tastes lie to the working girls too. No porcelain doll for him! He could be aware of the pressure put on Ezra's shoulders since that accident and may even feel guilty for it. It hasn't weighed on his mind for some time. He shakes his head when Ezra mentions adoptions. "That's not what I meant. That is… an absolute last resource." he points out.

Ezra nods in full agreement. "Right." Nope, no fragile woman. She'd be too much work. A drain on resources. Ezra needs someone strong and sturdy. "What other option do I have then?" he asks, glancing up at him. "I marry, or I adopt. And if I can't find someone to marry…"

Rayathess just gives his brother a lingering look again. Really? Must he spell it out? "Marry outside of holder," he points out with a smirk. "Broaden the pool of eligible ladies. You said you want a working girl? Take a Crafter. Most of 'em ARE holder or were. If you really think about it…" he drawls.

Ezra opens his mouth and closes it. "Right," he murmurs. "I guess I'll just see. Like you said," reminded him, "I haven't been looking all that long."

Rayathess frowns at his brother. Did he go too far? "Just keep your options open, that's all. And well… don't feel pressured or rushed. The right one will come along or something may click." He shrugs his shoulders, knowing full well that he is no expert on these matters either. So far, his track record with relationships is… pretty sad.

Ezra smiles, nodding. "I'm just trying not to worry about it." And failing. But he's trying! "Do…do you think I'll know?" he asks, leaning against the railing again. "Do you think Mom and Dad knew? How…do you even know how they met?" When he looks at his brother it's almost apologetic. These are the sorts of things he should be asking his parents. Not his big brother.

"Good. You shouldn't," Rayathess agrees, unaware of how Ezra is failing at it. Again, he's probably not helping matters! "You'll know." he confirms with a small nod and then frowns, a touch sad as he drifts through his memories. "They must've. And I don't remember, Ezra. I'm sure they told us, once or hinted at it but… I don't remember. I do remember them acting like a couple in love though. Normal." he murmurs softly and leans against the railing as well. This is what they BOTH should be asking their parents but… all they have is themselves. "I loved Lyreh. Still do in a way, despite all she's done. It's difficult to explain. Will I love another? Probably. Maybe more than I loved her." He shrugs his shoulders and then smirks.

They don't have anyone but each other, and Anrila. "I barely remember them," Ezra admits softly, staring at the bowl far below. "I'm glad they were in love." Looking over at his older brother, he nods. "I know you do. And maybe. Hopefully." There's a pause. "That is, I hope you - we both - find someone. Someone /good/." There's a pause. "And sexy." And a little grin.

Rayathess will reach out to gently clasp his brother's shoulder again. "I barely remember them too, Ezra." And from his tone, it's obvious that this saddens him in a guilty sort of sense. SHouldn't he remember his own parents? There's a small smile, "So am I. I do remember that much at least. And we will, Ezra. We will find someone." Blinking, he then chuckles and gives his brother a slight nudge to the side. "Oh, we could hope for sexy, hmm?" Another pause and then his smile broadens into a slightly wry and teasing grin. "Laurali's not too bad. She's got a subtle, almost dark, beauty to her. Simple." Riiiight? Rayathess can be so bad sometimes.

Ezra nods, returning Rayathess' shoulder clasp. "We will," he says with quiet confidence, and then he's coughing, flushing a bit. "She's…yeah. She is. It's…it's different though. She's not…I mean…" Cough. "If I'd just met her I'd think she was plain." Harsh? "But now that I know her, she's…she's pretty. Real pretty."

Rayathess chuckles a little under his breath and doesn't seem to consider Ezra's answer harsh at all. Blunt and truthful, but harsh? No. "More to beauty than just pretty looks, brother, or so the guys always mutter about. And for Laurali… I dunno. Plain suits her though I swear she does it purposely. Dresses down." he murmurs, not seeming to pause to see if that made any sense for his poor brother. Instead he shrugs, "I like plain. I find it attractive, in a sort of honest way. None of that… made-up nonsense." So… definitely no prissy holder girl for him. Nope. Surprise, surprise?

Ezra nods, "Oh, yes. Some girls I've met…breath catches in my throat when I see them but as soon as I /hear/ them…" Wince. "Hmm. I wonder how she'd look dressed up. You know, for a gather or something. Nice clothes, hair done. I like it when girls have their hair up," he admits. "It is honest," he agrees. "No…it's nothing hidden. It is what it is and that's what you get." Open honesty. That's what these Stonehaven brothers like.

Rayathess snickers under his breath. "Ah yes. Those temptresses and vixens, eh?" Clearly he's dealt with a few and… had a similar experience. Wince is right! Or they all want one thing and he's not about to give them that. "You know, I don't even think she ever HAS dressed up? Probably doesn't own a Gather dress. Being a Healer means she has to wear sturdy clothing… but even on her off days…" Same thing. Rayathess frowns, thoughtful, only to chuckle. "Doesn't she usually wear her hair braided?" he teases Ezra, only to smirk when it seems they share similar preferences in potential mates. "That's it exactly! Nothing hidden. True beauty, even if plain and simple."

Ezra considers that, and then shakes his head. He's never going to escort Laurali to a formal affair. "Yeah, she does, but you know…" His hands wave around his head in a vague gesture. "Like…/nice/." However females do their fancy hair styles. He doesn't have a clue. "Yes. truth."
Poor Laurali. Not that she holds any hopes of being escorted or tries to keep those hopes buried deep. Rayathess will follow Ezra's hand gestures and then snort, nodding his head. Got it! "Right. Actually up…" Details! Sometimes don't need full elaboration. "Wonder what colour Laurali likes…" he murmurs thoughtfully, reaching up to scrub thoughtfully at his jaw.

Ezra nods. "Yeah. Up." His brows lift at Raya's pondering, and he snorts softly. "Browns?" he guesses. "Anything that won't hold a stain? I can't imagine her in white…"

Rayathess scoffs a bit. "Browns? Too plain…" Wait. Stains? He levels his brother with a look. "I wasn't talking about work clothes, brother. White… would seem to bright against her" So what is he talking about then? "Red, perhaps? Not a bright red. One of those darker hues. Red, a little white and silver…" He's putting a lot of thought into this! "… or perhaps a deep yellow? Autumn colours."

Ezra ohs, cheeks coloring. "I meant…that's what she wears, so…that must be what she likes?" Man logic. He stares at his brother as he lists colors. "What are you doing?" And, more importantly, /why/?

Rayathess shakes his head, "She wears that out of necessity, I bet. I doubt she likes it." Man logic! He's assuming a lot here, grasping at shreds of things he's heard other young men remark about women. Staring back at Ezra, he almost rolls his eyes. Isn't it obvious? "Dress colours!" he states simply. Duh? What is he doing? "… she's a friend, isn't she? Maybe a dress as a gift? Somehow I doubt she's ever… received a gift. And it made me a little sad to think she probably has nothing nice save for what she's scrounged from the stores." He shrugs, spreading his hands out a bit. "I mean… maybe that's why she's always dressed so plain or she just doesn't have the confidence…"

Ezra blinks a few times. "What? I…you don't give your friends /dresses/." Though he'll be damed if he knows what you /do/ give your friends as gifts. "Wouldn't that be…a bit…I dunno. Flirty? Like…that's…boyfriend stuff." And he's not.

Rayathess frowns, looking confused and perplexed. "You don't? I… shells, no, I'm not flirting! And it's not like it'd be a… a really flashy expensive dress!" he tries to explain, looking a touch disappointed. Friends don't do that? But… "… it doesn't seem fair…" he protests weakly, only to scrub at his jaw as his brows knit in thought. "Really? A dress is considered… flirting?" Looks like he IS clueless in some things. No wonder poor Lana got mixed signals!

Ezra eyes his brother. "Well, yeah…because…doesn't it sort of mean, like, 'hey, I want to see you in this?' And then you have to /go/ somewhere. She wouldn't just wear a dress around the Hall. So it's an outfit /and/ a date…"

Rayathess scoffs. "No, that's… not my intention at all! Not entirely. I figured… I mean…" He fidgets, still looking so confused and disappointed, but also stubborn. Can't anything just be taken as a platonic gesture? Shaking his head, he eyes his brother. "Well, no. But she could wear the dress when she wanted to? If she ever does end up going to a Gather or… something? Not with me! But… I dunno. I just thought that's what friends do?"

Ezra blinks. "Wait, /you're/ giving her the dress?" This hypothetical dress that doesn't even exist. "I thought you wanted me to give her the dress. If you're doing it, that'd be great. Then she'd get a dress and she /knows/ it's not you flirting with her…"

Rayathess is just even further confused and startled by his brother's response. "Well. Yeah. I was implying I'd get her a gift because I'm her friend. You're her friend too…" Peer. "… aren't you?" He grimaces and snorts at the comment for being the 'non-flirting' one, though he'll shake his head and let it slide. "Maybe it is a stupid idea." he mutters, folding his arms over the railing and resting his chin over them.

Ezra nods, "Well yeah, I am, but…you know. We…sometimes…" Cough. "Dunno, just be awkward if I gave her a dress. But not if you did. So you should. It's not a stupid idea." Peering at the bowl again, he exhales softly. "I should go meet Hazelon…"

Rayathess quirks a brow and then clears his throat. "Ah, yeah. I know…" They've had that talk! He's well aware and hasn't forgotten. "I dunno. A gift from you could still mean nothing. Laurali's bright enough not to assume anything… or so I hope. It just seems… odd that you cannot give her gifts simply because you two… you know. Occasionally. As friends." Logic! "I dunno, Ezra. I'll… think about it. For all I know, she'll take it as an insult." Smirk. It's an attempt at some humour though very little of it is in his voice. Especially when Ezra mentions meeting with Hazelon. He nods, but he looks concerned again and knows full well there's nothing to be done about it. "Remember what I said…" he murmurs. Caution. "… and I should return to my work in the archives too." So much for his lunch!

Ezra shakes his head. "I can give her gifts. Just not a dress. I could…give her a bunch of seed packets. That'd be funny." Maybe. "Or a book on plants. That's a friend gift." Reaching, he clasps his brother's shoulder firmly. "I'll be careful," he promises.

Rayathess snorts and he seems to find the mention of packet of seeds to be amusing. "I guess I see what you mean. But if a gift of a dress would be overstepping the bounds of friendship between you and her… how is it different with me?" he mutters. More food for thought! Not that he needs anything else occupying his mind. He'll reach across to clasp Ezra's shoulder as well. "Good. Wish you luck, brother. Just… don't be surprised if Hazelon runs." Or doesn't. Rayathess isn't sure how the young teen will react and that may be making him anxious but he will force himself to step back. Then another step. "I'll see you around. Take care, Ezra. And… it was good to see you again." Hopefully time will allow them to meet again soon but for now, Rayathess will turn to walk away. Leaving now, before his resolve gives and he insists to follow Ezra and join him. Which he can't do. He is here on Harper business… but it strains him to have to choose.

Ezra will have to explain how it's different later. "You too, Rayathess," he murmurs. "Love you." Then, as his brother goes, Ezra will hesitate and then head down another path, giving him some time to think before he returns to his room.