Hot Stuff (It's... not what you might think)

Fort Weyr - Weyrsecond's and Jr. Weyrwomen's Office

Aged by time, just like the other offices carved into the stone, these ones have lived through the ages of Fort with the only change given to time being subtle ones to the decor as new staff come to fill the space. Situated next to the Weyrleader's Office, the small cavern leads into a spacious alcove of sorts before branching into two separate directions. On the right it leads to the Weyrsecond's personal office, a modest sized room complete with all the necessary furnishings required, along with a few shelves, a book shelf and storage for records and reports. On the left, it leads to the Junior Weyrwomen's offices and this larger room is set with three desks rather than one, along with all the other necessities needed. Both offices have small hearths built in to offer some warmth in the colder months and as there are no windows, several glow baskets have been installed to offer enough light and a few tapestries hung to offer a touch of color. Doors have also been painstakingly worked in, allowing some privacy if needed, though often they are left open.


It's almost lunchtime at Fort Weyr and the klah-fiasco a few hours behind them. Thus far there's been no screams echoing down the corridors from the store rooms, but hey - the day is young! Having not found Ezra in his room, D'ani has returned to the office he shares with Inri and thrown another few logs on the glowing coals heaped in the hearth. It's not long before a cheery blaze is crackling away to stave off the damp chill trying to seep in from the rainy outdoors and he's trying to immerse himself in his paperwork. It's not easy because his mind keeps returning to a certain someone's stuffed pockets, stale biscuits and once-cluttered room. Hmm.

Ezra has spent the morning in lessons - where he should have been. However, given his track record with ditching said lessons, it's no surprise D'ani looked for him elsewhere. Plus there was a field trip. Yay, field trips. But now the boy is seeking out his friend(s) (if Inri is around!) poking his head into the office and grinning. "Hey! Guess what?" He doesn't wait for an answer. "I'm going camping!"

Which is exactly what Inri walks in to — she was down the corridor, actually talking to Jajen, and looks frustrated but not irate as she swoops back into D'ani's area just in time to spot and hear Ezra. Her face does not fall, because she has gained a lot of control over her expressions in the time since Impressing. That was a big part of weyrwoman training, anyway. She manages to keep her eyebrows from going up, too, and instead drops a pile of records down on D'ani's desk without explaining what they are and stealing herself a chair. "Are we coming?" she asks, all cheer and no 'oh crap.'

Poker-face, for the win. Alas, D'ani does not have it. Or he might, but not when someone so close to him is concerned. His pen jerks awry and there's now a scrawl where his signature was meant to be. He's blinking at Ezra, absently says, "Hi Inri," all the while trying to form something as coherent as Inri has. He fails. It comes out as a stammered, "In this weather?" Those records? Could be a bomb for all the notice they get. Does he even notice them? Oh, but he will. He will.

Ezra shifts a bit, rocking back and forth as he looks from Inri to D'ani, and then shoves his hands into the pockets of his slowly shrinking (or is he growing again?) jacket. Fidgeting with something in one of the pockets, he slowly shakes his head at Inri with a frown. "No. I mean. I don't think you are. I…could ask? I'm sure they wouldn't mind if you came. And not here, D'ani. We're going to Ista!" Eyes wide, the boy beams at the idea of going to such a tropical, /warm/ place.

Now Inri's looking a little suspicious, and it's not about the stores records that D'ani isn't looking at. "We?" she asks, looking a little doubtful. "We who? I mean, nothing wrong with Ista, definitely warmer than here, but — who're you going with? I hope one of them's Rayathess." For whatever reason, the goldrider continues to trust Stonehaven's heir relatively unequivocally. She just liked him right away and is a good enough judge of character, one assumes.

D'ani likes Rayathess too, but he seems to doubt Rayathess is going along from the wistful look on his face. "Raya sure could use some sun," he mutters in agreement with Inri's sentiment. "Ahhh, Ista. With your…" he takes a wild guess, "…harper class, Ezra?" Brown eyes drop to the boy's pocket and his unease seems to grow. He rises from his chair and paces restlessly to the fire, uneccessarily tossing on another log. Then a second, reaches for a third… There'll be a raging bonfire and an…Ista-like temperature in here if someone doesn't stop him.

Ezra nods at D'ani, flashing Inri a grin. "Yeah, our harper class. If we do good in lessons we can go." Ahh, incentive trip! And that must be why Ezra has been attending classes. "I don't think Raya was invited. But if you guys come maybe you could bring him? If he wants to go, I dunno if he would…" He then frowns, glancing between them, his excited mood souring a bit when they didn't match it. "What's going on?"

Inri is not going to lie. She's terrible at it. Not when it's to someone she doesn't like, but to a friend — she's very straight up, just looking over at the pile of records again and saying calmly enough, "Stuff's missing from the stores. Food and linens, mostly. Big hassle trying to figure out where it went, and Jajen just whined at me a bunch about how it wasn't her. I mean, I know it wasn't her, Dei wouldn't have given her knot back if she were going to just screw up again." Her expression's still relatively good-natured, though; the irritation is at some anonymous other party who is messing up her work. "I wish I could go on vacation."

Ezra's question forestalls that forth…or was it fifth log? D'ani was about to toss into the now-roaring flames. He drops the log back on the pile with a dull thud, brushes his palms together and draws a breath. He starts at the same time Inri does only his is a question, "Did you-" and then he waits for her to finish and Ezra to respond, watching the boy's reaction to her news closely. He's looking pret-ty sober indeed, as if someone pulled off a major robbery rather than just pilfered a few items. When the two have finished, he asks as calmly as he can, "You, ah, didn't happen to borrow stuff from the stores, did you?" Yes, let's call it that though who would return used food? He hastily adds in there, " -and camping items without asking, Ezra?"

Ezra blinks at Inri, and then his eyes shift to D'ani. It takes a second, but then things click in his suspicious mind. "You think /I/ took it?" Staring at D'ani, the teen's eyes show shock and dismay, hurt and then anger. "How could…how could you think that of me!" he says, taking a step back and shaking his head, astounded at their accusations. "Of course I didn't! I'm not a THIEF. I don't take things that aren't given freely!"

Despite the fact she hadn't, initially, thought of it herself, Inri still looks guilty, watching first Ezra and then the fire with some sadness crossing her expression. "I didn't think you were," she points out, gently, "just we'd been talking earlier about how it sounded like people planning a camping trip — possible someone in your class might be doing it, though. I suppose. It could be more nefarious." Her expression really indicates she'd rather it weren't, though. A bunch of kids? Sounds much better. She's completely convinced right away, as there's nothing that's going to make her suspect Ezra except the fact that D'ani and Dtirae might have and the horrendous coincidence; she's much more quickly going to move to protect him. "If you do need to get things together, though — keep an ear to the ground, see if you notice anything missing?" Her favorite spy.

So. Much. Relief. It washes over D'ani like a tide that leaves him boneless and he wilts to sit on the edge of the hearth with his back to the flames, heedless of the heat baking his back. How could he think that? He looks a touch sheepish, but he meets Ezra's displeasure with honesty, brown eyes meeting blue. "I don't think you're a thief," he explains calmly, nodding agreement with Inri. "I think you're just scared sometimes." He gestures to Ezra's heretofore stuffed pockets, "Because as long as I've known you, you've been afraid of being caught without things you'd need like you were at Stonehaven." Yes, the food at the tables is free but usually hoarding can drive a person to irrational lengths. There's nothing about Dtirae in his answer, so it's obvious he hasn't spoken to her about this aspect of his best friend's troubled past.

"Scared?" Ezra returns, staring at D'ani and then shaking his head. "I might be scared, yeah, but…I don't /steal/. I never…I've /never/ stolen anything. Not after what /they/ took from me. Never. Afraid or not, I've never taken anything that wasn't given to me." He's repeating himself, sure, but he's truly hurt and insulted, and cut deep. "I…I can't believe you guys even thought that I might have anything to do with it."

Inri didn't! Inri is not going to throw D'ani under the bus by saying that exactly: "I didn't suspect anyone, which at the same time means you have to suspect everyone — for all everyone else knows, it could've been me doing it. For all I know it might be the Weyrleader. Though, I mean, I doubt it, but I didn't think you would any more than I thought the same of anyone else. It doesn't make sense to me," she continues, even-tempered, "that anyone would take things they could just ask for."

What can D'ani say? Adults oft use logic first and emotion second when reasoning. Humbly he says, "I'm sorry Ezra." Thanks Inri, no bus tires marking his nice office shirt! His shirt - which is now damp with sweat. Is it hot in here? The Weyrsecond only now seems to realize his proximity to the fire and stands, pacing to the other end of the room. Passing Inri, he tosses her a grateful look. She's handling this much better than he is! "I wouldn't have thought the stuff was all that important even, just you were cleaning your room and might've needed stuff and forgot to sign for it is all." They all help themselves to the stores. It's for them. Then why the anxiety? "The weyrleaders are pretty upset though, and I didn't want you in trouble." Though why they're worried about a little bit of food and some sheets is beyond him.

Ezra shifts, rocking on his feet as if he's about to make a break for the exit. He blinks at Inri, brain trying to work through her logic and in the end his liking of her wins out and he figures she's not insulting him. Then he looks at D'ani, hurt in his eyes though he wrestles it back a moment later, steadying himself with a slow breath. He apologized. That does much for the teen. "No," he says, shaking his head. "I'm…I'm real careful to sign things out. I don't want to get in trouble." That could lead to being homeless. "Upset over some camping gear?"

"Just upset over inconsistencies," Inri relates, though if there's more to it she doesn't yet know what it is. She expects to, at some point, as she — or rather Kouzevelth — was promised a report, and she suspects there's something more up than what she already knows. But couldn't speak to what it actually is, for sure. "At least, that's what's giving me a headache. I hope it's a misunderstanding and nothing else. I don't know why anyone would steal food and linens except purely to cause trouble." And thus, she has no suspects except some kids.

The Weyrsecond, on the other hand, is of the non-suspicious sort. He doesn't seem to think it's anything consequential. "Yeah, I dunno why they're so up in arms about it though. It's piddlin' trifle. The stuff will probably turn up misplaced on one of the dusty back shelves somewhere." And then he laughs, "Maybe a ruffian left over from that holdless group is camping out in the warren of ruins tunnels underneath the Weyr." He doesn't really think anyone is fool enough to camp out in Fort's icy mountains in the wintertime, but does he really think there's a kid in the tunnels? He rubs a hand over the back of his neck, glances at Ezra. Whew! Crisis averted. Poor Ezra. He's reached the stage where hormones are wreaking havoc with his equilibrium. Now where'd he put his kid gloves?

Ezra shakes his head, a bit confused, tugging his fingers through his hair. "Huh," he finally says with a little frown. "Well…I mean if it were a stack of blankets they might be misplaced. But a bunch of different things misplaced at the same time? Sounds like someone stealing to me…"

"It does, doesn't it? But it makes no sense." Inri is stuck on that. Inri is playing with wrapping her (now down and loose, rather than in this morning's braids) hair around her fingertips as a nervous fidget, trying to think and coming up blank. "To just take things. Unless it's to be disruptive. It's not Jaje screwing up, though — that," remember the pile she brought in? "was the result of me checking everything over. My report matches the previous one."

D'ani agrees with both his friends with an absent bobbing of his head. "None of it makes any sense." His steps take him back to his chair, where he flops gracelessly into it, stretching his long legs out and crossing his ankles while raaching for a pen and his 'To Do' list. He scribbles, 'check tunnels' onto it, pushes it to the side and only then it registers that there's a huge stack of records on his desk. "What're these?" he asks Inri with a lift of brows. Please don't say he has to do more than sign the durn things!

Ezra shifts a bit and nods, glancing at the door and then the fire. "It's really hot in here," he mutters, going to open the door slightly wider. "Sounds like someone just took them. Maybe someone running away…"

Inri laughs a little at D'ani's confusion, confirming, "My stores report from about an hour ago? I just wanted to share them. In case things change again and don't mask the logs, now you've seen it too — don't worry about doing anything with them. And yes," she agrees with Ezra, "I think someone got a little carried away with the fire. Is there anyone we know of who wants to? Run away?"

D'ani tries not to go 'eww' at the reports. "Thanks?" he says of Inri wanting to share them. Really, please don’t. Oh, okay, he'll read them avidly. Later. Probably much later. "It is hot in here," he agrees with them both (note he says nothing of who built the fire to such epic proportions). Does he even remember doing so? Probably not. Rattled much, D'ani? Someone's a wee too protective of Ezra. "I need to step outside for a bit." In the frigid, damp air. Who wants to run away? He does! And off he goes, probably untucking and flapping his shirt as he fast-walks down the hallway to get out there.

Ezra watches D'ani go with a little frown, looking a bit concerned. Looking back at Inri, the teen shifts and looks a bit guilty. "I don't know many people," he admits. "But…I'll listen and see if I hear anything." Glancing at the door again, he fans himself. "I'm gonna go, too…"

"Have fun with that," Inri tells D'ani lovingly, and then redirects her smile over to Ezra, who she also tosses — what turns out to be a cookie, from her shirt pocket. She'd picked that up from her desk and forgotten she was carrying it. At least it's a no-fuzz shirt. "Catch you both later. I should do the work I was initially planning on. Good luck spying!" She'll be the one to put out the fire, of course, with everyone else leaving — but it's not like she can blame them. She might even open the windows. And let it rain inside.

If there were windows in here, D’ani wouldn’t have had to flee outside for to cool off. He’s probably got his shirt off by now and madly fanning himself with it. Thank Faranth it’s winter!


'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.

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