Fort Weyr - Gemstone Tavern

The dim lighting by the flicker of candles lining the walls is enough to offer a view of a room decorated in such a way as to be tastefully appealing. Each piece of furniture and decoration is chosen to accent another piece, and so on and so forth, matching and tying the whole room together in a theme that's separate, and yet at the same time unified. Tables line one wall, dimly lit by candles hanging in sconces all along. The bar along the far right wall is made of richly toned mahogany, tooled by a master and polished to shine with the soft glow of wood at its finest.
Candles strategically placed add to the atmosphere, accenting, punctuating. Towards the back is an open fireplace, constantly burning with a bright light, warming the tavern on cold nights and serving as a gathering place for patrons' story-tellings. Across the room, lush pillows and soft-covered floors promote relaxation at ease. Just before the pillows is a long stage, so full of its own vigor and memory - nicks here, marks there, scuffs from footware and other things - that it's possible to imagine the shows put on for the patrons without necessarily seeing the performances.

It is TIME. Date time. And it's terrifying. Ezra creeps into Gemstone, dressed in the clothes that he wore for Inyri's turnday party - they're the only nice things he has - and his jacket of course. Zoi is there too, gnawing happily on her 8th leash but otherwise content to pad alongside him as he approaches the bar and quietly asks if Inyri is around.

Inyri's mostly in her normal clothes, but is actually sans apron at the moment — she's off duty. Koren, who has taken up for her behind the bar, directs Ezra to a corner table where Inyri is scribbling in some sort of small book about something or another, hair falling in front of her face to the point where it's obscuring bits of her facial features. There might be slightly more of a cleavage view than she's intended, but at least her shirt's modest. Durahiko is asleep in the back corner behind her table; her tiny green firelizard is trying to crawl on top of the book, and the bronze is nowhere in sight.

Ezra shyly approaches the table where Inyri sits, tugging at his hair and pushing it behind an ear. Of course his eyes are drawn to her cleavage, but he's quick (okay, maybe not /quick/) to lift his gaze to her face. He clears his throat and smiles a bit, trying not to show how nervous he is. "Inyri?"

"Hi!" Inyri looks up, smiles; quickly redirects to gently shoving the firelizard, closing the book, and shoving it into the bag at her feet, and glancing over her shoulder at the dog. Who is still sleeping. Snore, says Durahiko. "I /was/ actually intentionally meeting you here tonight, right? I don't always have the best sense of time." Understatement: part of the reason she's always working is that her scheduling ability is terrible, and she just assumes she might as well show up.

Ezra nods his head a little bit and glances around before he slowly sits down. "Yeah…um. Shenanigans is too crowded and, uh, well. We can't really /go/ anywhere else." As much as he wanted to hire a dragonrider to whisk them away to somewhere exotic, that just wasn't possible. "So, um, it's here. At least you'll know what you want?" Har, har, har. It's a lame joke and he blushes, ashamed that he can't do more.

Would Inyri have even /thought/ of going anywhere else? That's a good question, and not one she seems interested in elaborating on. "Actually, I'm not sure yet, as far as that's concerned. But I definitely already got us a table." It's a table rarely sat at, usually used for staff going over the books, but it's a table nonetheless, and at least it's in a pretty good location so that Inyri has a view of the rest of the tavern, Just In Case. "So long as we actually look like customers, people will probably even bring us a menu."

Ezra shifts nervously and glances around, meeting the eyes of curious folks before his gaze darts away again, ducking his head to hide behind his hair. "So…um…yeah." Awkward already? "Did'ja like your party?" he blurts out, seeking for something to get the conversation going.

Conversation is, at least, Inyri's specialty. There's no such thing as awkward with her; she's collected and cheerful as a default state. "Yes. It was pretty amazing," she says, with a muted but still obvious ear-to-ear grin. "Nobody has /ever/ done anything so kind for me before, honestly! The two of you are, like, my new favorites." Favorite what? Who knows, but Ezra and Edani are, apparently, it, at least for the time being. It's on the tail end of her statement that a gangly teenage girl appears with menus, and quips, "Hey. Just drinks? 'Cause these are drink menus. I can get food ones too."

Ezra blushes beneath his curtain of hair, but there's no avoiding the grin that's plastered on his face. "You deserve it," he mutters. He glances up with a sharp frown when Inyri's praise of him (and Edani) is interrupted by a waitress. "Um." He glances at his 'date'. "You hungry too? I got marks." From Edani! The two boys are apparently joining forces to make Inyri happy, or something.

"Just a drink is fine with me," says Inyri, smile still not fading; she stops only to push a bit of hair behind her ear, shooting the waitress a quick look of acknowledgement. "But if you're hungry, we can do food. I'm easy like that." Her waitress friend actually lets out a single bark of a laugh, before Inyri shoots her a quick flash of dirty look — the teenager switches back to her typical service-face. "I can get food menus too; for now, here's the drinks," she says, and takes off without further comment.

Ezra frowns more deeply at the waitress when she makes that quip that causes Inyri to give her a dirty look. When she goes, he looks across the table. "What was that?" he asks, leaning forward to ask it softly. "It's not good to be easy? I think you're real easy." Easy to get along with, easy to talk to, and the boy snatches up a drink menu. "Can I get that fuzzy pink thing? Or is…can you only make that?" He doesn't want to make her work!

Inyri looks thoughtful for a moment, focus much more on the drink than the potential loaded language behind the word 'easy.' "I designed it, but depending on who's tending bar, there's a recipe —" She sits up a little higher to look over, catches sight of the owner behind the bar and says, "Yeah. That's called a Pink Elephant and he can make it just fine." Don't ask her what an elephant is; she doesn't know. The whole 'pink elephant' thing was in a computer file about alcoholism. "It's under 'nonalcoholic drinks' on the back. As for being easy — she thought I was referring to sex." Let's just throw that out there, in the same tone as the rest of the conversation.

Ezra is nodding his head along, happy that he can order that drink when she drops That Word. And he jerks, body convulsing a bit in his chair as his neck and face turn crimson. "S-s…" He can't even say it, the baby. "Isn't that…hard?" He doesn't mean the innuendo, honest. Then he begins to babble. "We're not gonna…do…that…are we? I mean I…it's just a drink…I didn't mean, I don't know how…I thought maybe I might try to kiss you or something but even then I don't know…does drinks mean s-s-s…" Frustrated, he bites his lower lip and slouches loooow in his chair, head down and /hiding/.

Ducking her head to hide the grin that forms on her face almost immediately, Inyri is trying her hardest not to giggle. She at least succeeds in doing that, and quickly controlling her expression to 'gentle' rather than 'wheezing.' "No, of course not! No pressure." What would she even do if a twelve-turn-old came on to her? Certainly not go along with it. "Or, I mean. You're young, anyway; it's a little more like not expected of you than just 'no pressure.' She was just making fun of me, don't worry about it." Back to the menu! Inyri's seriously considering it; she actually /doesn't/ know what she wants, but it also adds a nice layer of diffusion.

Ezra sits like that for a long few moments as she speaks, and at the end of it he's still frowning. So when their waitress returns with the food menus, Ezra pushes his hair out of his face and sits up to give the teen as stern of a look as he can manage. "I do not like you teasing my - Inyri," he says, "so I would like to have another waitress." There's the briefest of pauses before he says, "Please. Thank you."

The glance between waitress and barmaid-off-duty is quick and understanding, and Inyri gives an almost imperceptible nod before the younger girl shrugs and says, "Cool with me," in a way that suggests it only is because Inyri is technically her boss and she doesn't actually want to cause any trouble, rather than that she would ever yield to such a request from a kid in any other circumstance. Her departure is just as swift, and Inyri tries for a more relaxed smile. "You're very diplomatic," she says.

Ezra watches the girl go and then he slouches a little bit again, glancing at Inyri. "Thanks," he mutters under his breath, not sounding too pleased. He's quiet though, perhaps brooding a bit over that odd interaction with the waitress.

It takes Inyri a moment to reach out again, because of course she's been busy actually trying to pick a drink. Once that's settled, though, she looks up and gives Ezra a slightly more concerned glance. "You okay? Because it's really all right to ask for a different server. Nobody minds." Even if in this case she had to interject silently to avoid a scene, it's more because of the waitress being sixteen than anything else.

Ezra shrugs a little bit. "I'm fine," he mutters, but after one more moment of brooding, he's straightening up a bit and smiling at her. "So tell me about your day." Small talk time! He's been watching people out to 'drink' and studying what they do, so he'd know all the right things to do for this little outing.

In Inyri's case, it's even almost interesting small talk: she has the four hours she worked to go through. "Well, in my opinion it was pretty boring, but for people who aren't working in a tavern all the time it might scan as interesting — mixed up a couple new juices for the lunch rush and tried them on random passersby, some of whom liked them, some of whom didn't, and some of whom liked getting free drinks," something she smiles at a little more, "Had people getting drunk in the middle of the day, gave a pregnant woman wine and got yelled at by some unrelated third party for enabling, all pretty standard bar behavior." Really. "And Lyonette tried to eat my boot laces."

Ezra frowns a bit, tilting his head, "Isn't wine bad for pregnant ladies?" he asks, peering at her with his pale green eyes through the fringe of his sandy blonde hair. Then he laughs, hiding it behind his hand best he can. "He's silly. Almost as silly as Stone, only he's nicer about it. Stone's a mean sort of silly."

"Lyonette's that one," Inyri corrects gently, gesturing at the baby green napping on the table; it make the entire thing seem even more ridiculous, of course, and it's understandable that one might confuse her two firelizards' names. "Not that I expect you to keep track between 'Lyonette and 'Liechten,' especially when she's so young. And as for the wine thing — depends on the trimester, it also hasn't been entirely proven as a definitive thing except /very very/ early in pregnancy and this woman was visibly pregnant and — really, it's not my place to refuse people what they order unless they come in drunk, in which case I have to, because that's actually a policy. If you're already drunk from some other bar, stay there. As for someone visibly pregnant ordering a single glass of wine, it's none of my business saying what she can and can't drink."

Ezra ohs, glancing at the green and shaking his head. "Sorry," he murmurs. "But," he says then, with a little frown knitting his brows, "it /could/ hurt the baby. You don't know for sure. You're helping her maybe do something bad…" And in his twelve turn old view of the world, things are very black and white, right and wrong.

The green does not seem offended. In fact, she does not even seem awake; she doesn't even deign to open an eye, whether she knows she's being discussed or not. Inyri, on the other hand, has had this debate about drinking and pregnancy before, or so it seems, because she's ready with a response and perfectly friendly about it: "It's really not likely to. One glass of wine, according to healers, should be fine. The only time it's dangerous is really early, and then it has to be in extremely high quantities. One glass of wine's actually healthy — due to a chemical in it that's good for the heart. Either way, I really don't have the right to tell people no unless it's covered under the 'already drunk' thing. Then I have to serve anything off the menu. Custom prep is my call or the kitchen's, depending on what it is."

Ezra shakes his head a little bit, but the tween wisely decides not to argue the point with his 'date'. It's then that their new waitress arrives, and Ezra motions to Inyri to order first before he orders the pink elephant and a basket of fried tubers for them to munch on.

Inyri's requested drink is mildly alcoholic and a bit complex, but that's as is standard for her. The waitress notes it down and disappears again in a moment, not the type to make smalltalk — or maybe she's afraid, considering they've already replaced a server. "Alcohol politics are kind of messy and not worth trying to understand, anyway," Inyri sums up. "But it's the kind of little stuff that happens here every day. If nobody complains about someone doing something they don't like, there's something weird in the air. Or they're all gentle drunks."

Ezra shrugs a little bit. "Guess people always got stuff to complain about," he murmurs. "S'the only way how we can fix stuff that's wrong, and stuff." Turning, he gives the room a quick once-over and then looks back at Inyri.

"Sometimes it's reasonable and sometimes it's just a complaint in order to make a complaint," Inyri sums up, watching him with a slight cant to her head and obvious curiosity in — well, it's in the eyebrows, more than the eyes. "Drunks, like I said, complain because they're drunk. People complain because they're proddy, too, which is a /really/ new one for me! Gets less awkward every time, at least."

Ezra blinks a bit, and then blushes. "That's when a dragon's about to go up," he murmurs. "I don't like it when that happens. Specially the golds. Makes me feel all…icky." He shudders, shaking his head, grateful for the distraction of their drinks and fried tubers arriving.

"Oh, yeah, /that/ was a doozy." Inyri rolls her eyes, letting out a little bit of a self-deprecating laugh. "When — Zuvaleyuth?" Look, she got a dragon name right! This never happens; it may have something to do with the fact that Dtirae's a former regular at the Gemstone and Inyri has actually had one-on-one conversations with the Weyrwoman. Then again, she's had a few conversations with Th'ero and never even gets to the point of mangling Velokraeth; rather, she just avoids saying his name. "Went up. Nobody warned me about that. I've never even been to a Weyr before, I had no idea how crazy gold flights got. Outrageous."

Ezra shakes his head, blushing. "I locked myself in my room," he mutters. "I hated it. Heard people in the hallway…" The boy shudders, and it can only be imagined how frightening that must have been for him, as a 10 turn old newly arrived to the weyr.

Inyri clearly doesn't even want to think about it; she bites her lip, and then happily munches on a tuber rather than contemplating it further. "It's insane and I'm really glad I'm not a dragonrider, let's just put it that way. Total lack of control over my own feelings is not something I want to sign up for again. Maybe next time there'll be enough warning people can /leave/." Munch. "Any other Weyr crazy I should be warned about that hasn't happened to me yet?"

Ezra tilts his head a little bit, peering at her through his hair. "Again?" Yeah, he caught that. Then he shrugs with a little smile. "I dunno…it's pretty crazy. But it's…" He doesn't say 'home'. Because it's not. "It's okay."

"Well. I was here for the last one and had to go through it," Inyri points out. See, it's that simple; just that she /didn't/ get a chance to escape. "Since it's not like I could get a dragonrider to give me a ride somewhere else, y'know? But if the gold flights are the only things inciting mayhem like that, I guess I'll live with it." Her smile relaxes, and she takes a slow sip of her drink. Which smells as much a mix of fruit tang and vodka as it tastes.

Ezra munches on a tuber and the next one goes to his pocket - each one will be like that. One for him, and one for his pocket. He doesn't even seem to notice the gesture as he drinks his drink, sometimes giggling when the bubbles tickle his nose. "Why'd you leave your home?" he finally asks.

Inyri hesitates at that question; her chewing is slower than normal, as is her taking a sip of her drink. (She's almost gotten used to Ezra's method of eat-and-pocket, at this point.) "Nasty gossip," is her conclusion, when she reaches it, for what it is she can actually tell him about why she left. "People were saying things about me I didn't really feel like sticking around for." Which is at least half the truth; the less essential part of the truth, perhaps, but the truth nonetheless.

Ezra frowns a little bit, dipping a tuber into his drink and trying that. It's not too bad, but not too great either, so he doesn't do it again. "What were they saying?" he asks, blunt as always.

The question Inyri expected, and wasn't too pleased to have to face. She slumps a little. "Oh, basically that I was easy," she sums up again, nonchalant to the point of looking a little bit fake about it. "Immoral, someone called me a slut, that sort of thing. Charming way to treat someone who didn't do anything to you at all."

Ezra blinks, and squirms a little bit before he (rather rudely) blurts out, "Were you?"

Inyri's "No," is at least said calmly rather than spluttered in an outrage. It's accompanied by a somewhat crooked, off-beat kind of smile; maybe a tiny bit uncomfortable, maybe a tiny bit self-deprecating still. "I was involved with someone, but that was all, really. People just talk and say mean things in a small hold, where one person thinks they hear something and get it wrong and then spread it around and every new person it goes through, it gets weirder. That's the way of gossip." Her shrug is distant and dismissive; her expression not so much grave as just blank.

Ezra frowns. "But that doesn't make sense. If you were with someone…then how can you be with a bunch of people?" He tilts his head a little bit and then very slowly reaches across to try and touch her arm - light, fleeting, brief. "I don't think that. You're too nice."

"Because people were being people, and making things up, lying, et cetera," Inyri explains, with a shrug that gets a smile tacked on to the end at his touch. "It wasn't necessarily meant to harm, but it was enough I didn't feel like being constantly tarnished and left. To a Weyr, which doesn't really /un/sully my reputation," as, after all, the Weyr is a den of depravity! "but it's better than sticking around for it, and there was work for me here."

Ezra scowls. "People are stupid," he mutters, reverting back to his favorite word. He withdraws his hand to take another tuber. "We never talked bad about anyone else in Stonehaven," he murmurs. "Course there weren't lots of us there anyway."

"Yeah, Breakwater has /just/ enough of a population to get people talking — but everyone knows everyone, which results in everyone also at least thinking they know every/thing/." That is, at least Inyri's assessment, around eating another tuber, slowly and carefully. "I love it there anyway, but it's nice not to be around it all the time. It's not like people stopped drinking my drinks or anything, there'd just be a lot of so-called knowing looks and people getting handsier than they should have been."

Ezra bristles a bit. "Like grabbing you and stuff? That's /wrong/," says the boy who is growing up with such a mixed bag of chivalry and a lack of control it's bound to turn out wrong at some point.

"Incredibly," Inyri agrees, and takes a long swallow of her drink — which is now empty, and she gives it a crooked look. "How strange. There's something wrong with my drink," she quips. "In that it seems to have all disappeared."

Ezra giggles at her quip as if he's never heard that one before. And odds are that he hasn't. The boy will then gallantly order her another one, and they will continue the slightly awkward, slightly not conversation until the night wraps up. And Ezra, chicken that he is, doesn't try to kiss her. He just stares at her for a long moment before blurting out "Thanks" and bolting from the tavern.

'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.