Gift with Many Heartbeats

Fort Weyr - Steward's Office
Anyone who knows Zhirayr would have to assume this wasn'treally his office. There just isn't enough… black in it, is there? The walls have been painted white, there's an abundance of lighting, there are even some mirrory things around to bounce extra light here and there — and all the chairs have the sort of slender, barely-there grace that says that rambunctious small children are Not Allowed, all while letting that light keep moving around.

Overall, the general feel of the room is a light and airy openness, made all the moreso by the absence of a Big Desk anywhere. Sure, there's a table along the wall that gets used as a desk, and sure, there's usually a pile or three of papers on it — but everything remains meticulously, aggressively neat .

Okay, so maybe it looks like Zhirayr's office, and not someone else's, after all.


Zhirayr, strangely enough, is in his office, in the early evening, shortly before his normal suppertime. He is, as is usual, dressed all in black; as is only occasionally the usual, his left hand is also covered in black, due to an Incident earlier in the day involving ink that was spilled (perhaps on purpose) somewhere else in the Weyr, on someone else's belongings. (He did help clean up.) He is currently being very careful to keep the dried ink on his hand from regaining enough moisture to stain any of the paperwork he's looking at, even if most of it would heavily benefit from being smudged into illegibility. Something something responsibilities of the position something something not how that's supposed to work, he supposes.

The Weyrwomen and the Headwoman would — okay, not likely be horrified. There is a chance that one or the other might find these statements mildly horrific. There's a knock at the doorframe, then, though. It's not accompanied by someone who would actually wait for a conclusion to the knock of the door to walk in, though, it's just Mirinda, who is walking in without being summoned. She's holding a small clay pot, and making a face at his desk and hand as soon as she sees them. No words. Just … incredulous expression.

"Yes, sure, by all means, just barge on in here," Zhirayr observes dryly, not actually looking up to see who's come in — but then, he knows Mirinda's footsteps by now, surely? That, or he thinks she's someone else he still wouldn't greet in a particularly respectful fashion. "It's not like some of us have work to do, or anything like that." He wants the distraction. He's just made of sarcasm. (And ornery enough to act like he doesn't want a distraction, in part because if he finishes reviewing the damn paperwork he doesn't have to look at it again.)

After so many turns together? What has it been, on and off — five, just about. That should be long enough to know Mirinda's footsteps. "Fine," she says in a mockingly teasing tone, grinning even if her voice sounds terribly put out, "I won't give you this gift you've asked me for a million times, then."

"Gifts," Zhirayr sternly intones, "go in the top of the in-box," and never you mind that he hasn't had an actual box to collect all the crap people expect him to deal with on a day-to-day basis since the first month he became the Steward, and had to cope with all those accusations of murder. He reaches over his shoulder toward her, flapping his (left, ink-stained) hand in a cross between a 'gimme that!' gesture and a 'put it over here in front of me!' gesture. "I thought you knew that by now."

"You expect me to leave a living thing in a box?" Mirinda teases, still, and never mind the lack of actual box. She is holding that pot out of his reach. If he stands up and grabs it, both the nice pot and the present (with a heartbeat) inside are going to be damaged, so she knows he isn't going to try it. "As may not surprise you, especially given my long baths over the past few days, Whitethorn clutched and actually tended three of them."

He probably didn't guess the last part.

Well, he does, at least, finally look at her — in a long-glance-cast-over-one-shoulder, with only one eye actually visible through his hair. (To be fair, Zhirayr can also only see her with that eye, and would have to turn his head a good deal more if he wanted otherwise.) There's a long pause, counted off by the three heartbeats in the room, as he tries to wrap his head around that one — which requires shoving some of what he's reading out of his head, but it's not like everything isn't still written down. "What," he tries. "Was she bored?" Injured? Locked in a box? Given her ADD medication?

Mirinda's laugh is probably not fair to her firelizard, because in truth, "She does actually usually tend them, to be honest. She just also tends them away from where I can get them; now that she's almost six, I think she's decided to accept her offspring becoming humans' assistants like she is to me." Whitethorn is a very private maternal, rather than not maternal at all. Something that, genuinely, she gets from Mirinda — not that anyone at Fort has seen her pregnant to know. Well, almost no one, anyway. Elara did! "And I promised to pick out the best one for you … I didn't. This is actually the second best one. The shiny gold one seemed a little odd."

And, right on cue, Zhirayr's head tilts to the side, his hair falling enough out of his eyes (if in front of them) that we have to admit that he's turned to face her fully, at last. "Odd how?" he asks, as the papers droop down to the tabletop in front of him, as-of-yet unstained.

With a shrug, Mirinda explains simply, "It's tiny, so it's definitely not actually gold. I'm not sure what is in it, even if it's very … well … remind me to show it to you later. It's compelling, somehow. A little bit disturbing. Some frightening brain power in there, but not — I felt like I should give you this one, and Whitethorn appeared to agree." Even if perhaps they would all be good fits for him. Part of this is because Zhirayr's player asked for a coin flip to pick which egg he got, of course …

"What, you don't think it's just the Tiniest Gold Ever?" Zhirayr quips, but lets it go — in part because he really is curious about which one she and Whitethorn both thought he ought to have, and in part because his continuously-flapping hand is, in fact, starting to get a bit tired.

"She would know," Mirinda is sure, and Whitethorn may have been protective over that egg in one way or another, but she wasn't in the sort of way she may have been were it gold. "And she's never clutched a gold before, I don't really see her starting now, she's still young yet. This one, though, is yours. Daina wants the pot back, though." Of course it's really her sister's. Mirinda has never had to tend for more eggs than the one that was Whitethorn's, before, and Whitethorn has the other ones in her little box in Mirinda's suite. It's a very nice mottled blue pot, and if Zhirayr really loves it, he can probably purchase it off Daina. She places it on the table before him, and not in the nonexistent gift box.

Crimson Terror Egg
That's some eyesore red this egg has going on. It is BRIGHT. It is SHEER. It is really, really crimson. A haphazard single darker spot looks like a smudge of soot or perhaps a dent in a piece of (eyesore crimson bright) metal, though it's just as likely to be the place where a first crack may shine through to let out the hatchling within.

Mirinda only thinks she isn't putting the egg pot in Zhirayr's in-box; seeing as how it doesn't exist, contrariwise it's the entire tabletop, and either way 'on the table before him' is about where he always puts the things he's just about to deal with, right? Anyway, the lid gets opened, the egg gets touched carefully — and then he smiles, at it, and then up at her, his whole face lighting up. Awkwardly. He doesn't do face-lit-up-with-delight very well. "Thanks," he mutters, but at least she can tell it's genuine gratitude.

She can, indeed; she knows what is effusive from him, and also knows how to tell his truly irritated from his good natured. Mirinda also knows how to tell genuine emotionlessness — that's not Zhirayr, he's just neverending sarcasm most of the time. Sarcasm and understatement, unless he's angry! The egg, of course, reacts to his touch with a little throbbing pulse. Not quite hard enough yet to hatch, but definitely living and aware of his presence. "You're welcome," she says with a tiny smile. "I thought, I mean, it's certainly been a while that you've been waiting. You could have bought an egg, surely, if there hadn't been some … emotional attachment you had to my gold."

"I could have bought an egg," Zhirayr agrees, carefully smoothing sand back over the tiny bit of exposed shell, and then turning his actual body to face her. "If I'd felt like spending my money on it, but — I don't know. I've never had any problem with buying eggs for other people, as gifts, but buying one for me, myself… it just always seemed greedy, somehow." A one-shoulder shrug, flowing into reaching out his (unmarked, right) hand for her, to pull her into reach of his embrace without having to actually go so far as to, you know, stand up. "Maybe I'm just the strange fellow who feels like every firelizard should be either a discovery or a gift, even if most people don't feel that way."

"Never bought an egg for me, either," Mirinda points out with a small smile; why would he need to have? Someone else did, after all, and he's being much more sentimental than normal, so she's going to relax and enjoy it. Her hand meets his, twining fingers and then being pulled close. "I hope it works out for you, I hope you bond well." Whatever turns out to be in that egg. Whitethorn may have rolled it at her when she said she was picking one for Zhirayr, but it wasn't as if Mirinda got more details than that.

"Well, hey, if all else fails, sooner or later it'll be big enough for a nice hat, right?" Zhirayr smiles, wrapping his arm around her waist and resting the side of his head against her ribs for a long moment. A slow, deep breath, and then he loosens his grip enough that she can pull away, if she really wants to. "I suppose I could buy you an egg," he adds then. "If, for some reason, you need a replacement. Is Whitethorn all worn out, now?"

Nice hats were something Mirinda could certainly trust to get from Zhirayr. All the way back to that second turnday they knew each other, the first they were together (the first time) … "Mm, yes," she says, and presses back against his side, and doesn't pull away. "I spent a long time fussing over her before moving this egg. I'm surprised she let me so early, just a day after they were clutched, but she seems to trust it was okay with just this one. She has the other two to brood over, and you two can — bond. I mean, she isn't so worn out I need a new one."

"I could have sworn the warranty on them is supposed to last at least ten to fifteen Turns," Zhirayr muses, his (clean) hand running up the center of her spine to keep her close, or maybe purring. "She isn't quite that old yet, is she?"

Laughing, "She's five," and Mirinda leans down to kiss the top of his head, annoying scraggly hair and all. "You're wealthy, you know. You're supposed to be neater than this." His impeccable clothing fits the bill, but the hair has a tendency to get more ridiculous than Mirinda is going to tolerate being seen with, soon.

"Are you saying that I need to buy a haircut?" Zhirayr asks, and sticks his tongue out at her, and crosses his eyes. Briefly.

"I am … saying you should consider it. And not cut your own, because I think that's the problem." Mirinda's shaking her head, though, at the childish antics of a man nearly forty. Of course, thinking about that also makes her feel old. "Maybe a trim to go with your new firelizard, because they do grab hair. Even the kind hanging from your face," though it isn't as if he has much of that, and she certainly doesn't either.

Zhirayr makes a face with his face, then, which is currently somewhat sandpaper-y but not really hairy. "So… shave and a haircut, I suppose." At least it won't cost two marks. His hand is rubbing her spine again. "I suppose I can use the trimmings to make a little nest for him or her." Again, with the deadpan delivery. Doesn't everyone make a cut-hair nest for their firelizard hatchlings to bed down in?

Mirinda does not roll her eyes. Mirinda does not roll her eyes. Especially since … "You probably could, and I think a baby hatchling would actually like that. Your hair is soft and warm, after all." To make a point, she lays her head down on top of it and makes to settle in for sleep. Standing up, which is horrifically uncomfortable for actual sleeping. Though maybe he'll invite her to stay, and — sleep in his office? At around seven pm? Perhaps not.

Or maybe he'll invite her to 'sleep' in his office, hubba hubba? — Perhaps not.

Meanwhile, Zhirayr is blinking, a little surprised that she seems to be taking him up on his mock-suggestion. Was it actually a good suggestion? Crap. That means he's actually going to have to get a haircut, and maybe even make a nest. Effort. "I — might," he manages. "At some point after dinner, which — did you want to have dinner, now that you aren't carrying around an egg pot?"

That would be absurd. It would mess up his office. "Did I want to have dinner? I did, yes. I usually have dinner. Just about every day, in fact." Mirinda cannot actually say she has dinner every day and be believed, because it's just not true. Sometimes there are patients, or diplomatic incidents she has to deal with as The Weyrhealer, or both. She also has to deal with two preteen girls on a regular basis.

"So we should go have dinner," Zhirayr concludes, or suggests, or just observes, because he's still sort of nuzzling against her side and rubbing her back, rather than actually … standing up. Or going. Or not rubbing her hip with his ink-stained hand, but hey, she's wearing black trousers, right? (If not, well, they might be, soon.)

A skirt, but yes, it's black, thankfully for him. So long as he's actually getting the skirt and not her grey sweater. Mirinda's going to notice either way, and if he's stained anything, at least he is known as the Master of Stains around here after saving the Weyrwoman's clothing more than once. "Maybe we should," she says, moving her head back to give him an odd look, "Are you proddy?"

A flat look, at that, from Zhirayr; follow it up with a very flat delivery of: "Yes. Yes, I am. I am very proddy, because my gold dragon is due to rise any second now." Riiiiiiiight. Maybe he just wanted to cuddle, Mirinda. "Clearly this means that dinner is exactly where we need to be, right now," he concludes, a slight spark of mischievous humor in his eyes, as he finally stands up and starts to pull her with him, abandoning the paperwork at the edge of the table. (The egg is carefully placed in its protective pot in the center of the table, where nothing is going to knock it to the floor, of course.)

It's a good thing Zhirayr doesn't have a dog.


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