On Your Side

Kitchens
After rising up an imposing flight of steps you enter an elaborate vaulted ceiling. The delicious smells that gently infuse the air drift out from this portion of the cavern. The head cook, Rickard, bustles about creating the masterpiece dishes that the weyr as a whole consumes. His extensive collection of prized copper cookware hangs upon their custom-made racks, reflecting soft light back out into the cavern proper. A handful of sub-cooks and helpers are engaged in an variety of food preparations, moving briskly but efficiently about their work. A pair of spit canines trot in their wicker wheels, continuously turning the spits with their slowly roasting joints that hiss and crackle over the fires.


Some days are better than others for Hazelon. Running into Rayathess? That makes it a bad day. Being able to stay out of trouble and avoid those still suspicious of him in the lower caverns, makes it a good day. Today… Hazelon hasn't quite managed to get the second to doing. Those same workers are too afraid to do more than make life difficult for Hazelon. In the kitchen this means that he's being kept from doing anything of real value. So he's stuck with roots to peel with the dullest knife that he can be given. Anger simmers under his skin and Hazelon keeps a tight lid on it, though some of the strain shows on his face.

Eventually, into every kitchen an assistant steward must walk. — Well, something like that, anyway. In this particular case, Zhirayr has a hurried, muttered interlude with the head chef, before spotting Hazelon. Does coming to Zhirayr's attention count as a good-day or a bad-day event, anyway? Either way, Zhirayr heads purposefully over to Hazelon's workstation, eyes the tubers and the knives silently, and then scowls.

Hazelon's hands slip on the root in his hand, the root rolling away from him. When he turns with that knife in his hands the nearest worker shifts abrutly away, almost as if he expects Hazelon to stab him with the dull blade. "I ain't gonna hurt you!" The words snap out before he can pull them back.

Zhirayr reaches out, just as abruptly, to grab at Hazelon's hand — yes, the one holding the knife. Not because he's being mean, though. It isn't a deathly-tight grip or anything like that — it's downright gentle! — but because he intends to inspect that knife right now, without waiting for Hazelon and the worker to finish their differences. "Are you kidding me?" Zhirayr demands — twisting around and glaring at the chef. "You expect him to work with this piece of crap? You're lucky he hasn't cut his own finger off!" The chef glares right back, and stalks out without a word; the general consensus of a few too many of the other kitchen-workers seems to be that that would be no big loss, at least so long as Zhirayr can't tell which of them just said that.

Grabbing the ex-renegade probably isn't the very very best idea in the world, as Hazelon's reaction is just about what the kitchen workers would have expected from him. He twists around in Zhirayr's grip, dropping the knife to the ground in the process in an attempt to pull himself away. Only the timely words breaking into his attention keeps him from other action, and he bends slowly, eyes sweeping along all those workers who mutter against him. "Ain't no good makin' trouble sir."

"Screw that," Zhirayr mutters, and leaves Mr. Dull Blade on the floor for some other hapless idiot to kick and bleed while he snatches a nice, sharp paring knife from someone else's workstation. "Here. Hazelon, right? The one who tried to save Rayathess's life, a while ago? Let's not have you cut yourself to ribbons." Plenty of other people would be happy to do it for you, Hazelon.

Wait. Hazelon is now totally off center when Zhirayr instructs him to leave the knife where it is. A glance is shot around at each of the workers before Hazelon rises slowly. "Are… you sure you want to be doin' that sir?" He doesn't reach for the knife just yet, allowing his gaze to wander again. The work in the kitchen has more or less stopped to eye the tableau before them.

"Am I sure I don't want to find out that a lot of stupid, baseless suspicion has resulted in a perfectly competent worker losing a finger or more?" Zhirayr half-snaps back. It's not like he's mad at Hazelon; he's mad at all the people who are being morons. Next thing he knows, he'll be hearing rumors that that isn't even really Hazelon's name! Good grief. "Or — you know what? Forget it. Just forget the whole thing and come with me. I'll get you something else to do that won't involve knives, so nobody expects you to stab them."

Hazelon just stares at the assistant steward for long seconds. His mouth might even be slightly hanging open at the very public display of support from a very unexpected corner. But no, he snaps it closed again and stands up just a little taller. "I'll be doin' what ever you be askin' me to sir. I ain't lookin' to be hurtin' no one." Except for maybe Rayathess, but that was his fault anyway.

"I know. If I thought you did want to hurt someone, I'd be the first in line to throw you out of the weyr." Zhirayr is, again, not aiming for a subtle tone of voice, there, as he wraps a skinny arm around Hazelon's shoulders and forcibly redirects him out of the kitchen. So much for picking up that dull blade off the floor before he went, huh? "How are you with laundry, anyway?"

Hazelon is a little to shocked but the sudden turn of events to do anything but just go with the flow for a moment. That arm around his shoulders isn't threatening, so he allows it to stay and doesn't fight when he is pushed out of the kitchens. Silence follows after them, though before the door can close again there is an upsurge in conversation and gossip, Hazelon's name mixed with Zhirayr's now. "I," pause, "It's a warm job to be doin' when 's cold out." There, that is a totally noncommittal statement, right?

"Any issues, any complaints about it?" Zhirayr keeps on steering him down the hallways at a steady clip, not missing a beat. "Because I'd hate for you to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak. Well. Off the cutting board, maybe."

"No sir. Ain't too keen on underwear," because seriously, who would be? "but the scrubbin' ain't so bad." He doesn't mention that the gossip in the laundry tends to be the worst of anywhere in the weyr, seeing as how it was so secluded and led to lots of grouping. He can handle talk so long as no one is flinching away from him.

And hey, it's not as if anyone's too likely to try to drown him, right? Hopefully??!? Maybe…? "Chances are, you'll be able to say you want to do the heavy-duty things and avoid most of the delicates," Zhirayr says sympathetically. It's not like he was ever too fond of scrubbing someone else's underwear, either, after all. "Unless there's somewhere else you'd like to work?"

Hazelon isn't to afraid of someone attempting it- though they should be. He'll not hesitate a moment to fight back with deadly force, thus confirming every single fear that those workers do have about the teen. "I'd be appreciating that sir." As their footsteps continue Hazelon finally sighs. "I was hopin' mayhap t' be workin' with 'e runners." And maybe running into a particular girl again, "but some'un threw a fit when they learned I was holdin' 'e pitchfork."

"Because, of course," Zhirayr muttered dryly, "there's such a similarity between pitchforks and archery equipment, isn't there?" A matching sigh. "Well, kid, listen. There's not all that much I can do in order to get them to shut up and leave you alone, although I would if I could. The problem is that, well, you've been tarred with suspicion, and some people will always assume that means you're guilty. You've probably figured that out already anyway, haven't you."

"Right?" Hazelon is still suprised to have such understanding from the man, and the first hints of a smile for that day lift onto Hazelon's lips. "Well… aye. Ain't the first time ain't no one been trusting of me. Just… afore it wasn't everyone what was knowin." He reaches up to rub a hand along the backside of his neck. "Ain't helpin' the weyrleadership agrees with them."

Zhirayr scowls. "And believe you me, I'll be having words with them about that. It's terrible leadership, letting that sort of distrust and dissension stew around here. It's not your fault a firelizard couldn't tell what was going on! It's not as if Rayathess himself thinks you're to blame!" He reaches up and tugs at his own hair, leaving the black shock in wild disarray. That would, of course, be the point where a couple of other low-rung weyrstaff go past in the other direction, looking Shocked and Horrified(tm) at seeing someone be companionable with Hazelon, The Wicked Killer Of Innocent Babies. "How could you —" one of them begins, accusatory, right up in Zhirayr's face, and gets decked for his troubles. Cue swearing and hand-shaking-and-clutching from the assistant steward, who continues stalking off toward the laundry room without pause.

"There ain't nothin' they can be doin' 'bout it. People'll think what they be thinkin'." Hazelon's words are slightly rueful as he shrugs. When that nameless worker stomps up Hazelon stops dead in his tracks and stares. Did…. yes, he totally did just lay into someone for… A sdden shift occurs in Hazelon's estimation of all people here at the weyr. "What are you doin' sir?"

"Cursing," Zhirayr answers shortly. And keeps cursing, and shaking his hand in midair, and rubbing at it with his other hand, and stomping toward the laundries. "I can't abide this type of stubborn stupidity," he adds more conversationally, a few minutes later, as they're nearly there. "Not everyone here thinks you're guilty until proven innocent, and quite a few will have calmed down once they got Rayathess' side of the story. If you don't want to be the number-one gossip story in the laundry room, just try not to sleep with anyone important, all right?"

Hazelon will trail along after Zhirayr, just staring at the back of the man's head as they walk down the corridors. "I…" Doubt curls though Hazelon's voice though he STOPS when the assistant steward gives his next piece of sage advice. The sound that comes out is more of a strangled what then an actual word. Maybe Silence is the better part now. So that's what Hazelon does until they arrive at the doorway to the laundry. He stays silent.

"You'll be fine, really," Zhirayr says, maybe aiming for "jovial" a little bit harder than strictly necessary. A quick, quiet conversation with the woman in charge of the laundry, and he's back at Hazelon's side with a more-realistic-looking smile. "Skip the kitchen and come here to keep working instead," he instructs. "If you have any questions, ask her. She might take you under her wing, in which case all bets are off and it's not my fault, but on the other hand she's vicious if you provoke her into defending someone else. Keep that in mind, too, all right? And try not to fall into any dye vats."

Hazelon is just silent, all the way though. Jovialness doesn't touch him as he is swiftly rearranging his preconceptions of… everyone in the weyr right now. This brief interaction has left him utterly off his normal footing, and so he slides into the only defense he has- passiveness. Zhirayr's pronouncements about his new work are met with wordless nods. When the woman beckons the teen over he'll step forward then pause to look back. ""Thank you."

"You're welcome, I suppose," Zhirayr answers, somewhat taken aback. As far as he's concerned, he's just been doing his job. "Listen — if people give you more trouble, let me know, okay? If I can do something, I will." A quick offered handshake, and then he's out the door, abandoning Hazelon to the tender mercies of countless laundresses. Good luck in your new position, Hazelon!


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