'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.

Warning: Potentially Uncomfortable Scene - Trigger Warning

Fort Weyr - Vegetable Gardens
While the vegetable garden is by no means large enough to fully sustain the Weyr on a regular basis, it does suffice to fill temporary lapses in certain supplies well enough. Most of the vegetables are of the most basic kinds, from fingerroots and tubers to garlic and onions with various types of legumes and squashes from time to time; hardy things that tend to require very little intervention on the part of the cooks and gardeners that tend to them. The vast majority of the plants are planted directly in the ground, but some things — like the tomatoes and some of the peppers — have been placed in half-barrels that keep them off the ground and, presumably, out of trouble. All of the plants are labeled with plastic markers to indicate what's what.
Toward the back are a pair of wooden structures — one has windows and looks to be a sort of shed full of tools and various workstations, while the other is clearly a storage facility for the various herbs and vegetables that are harvested here. The location also makes it convenient for both Healers and cooks alike to get what they need and return quickly to work. Between the two is a manual pump that can be used to provide water, along with a few buckets nearby for the purpose of transporting that water to where it needs to go.

Despite lunch having not long past there is no let up for those set to work in the gardens this day. Weeds need pulled and it's this that Melze is turning her inexpert hand. One basket has been filled with weeds, a large garden fork lying beside it while she stnds and stretches her back, wincing slightly as it protests at the works she's been having to do getting this paricular bed clear. With a little sigh she eyes all that still nees done, then turns to make the trip behind the tool shed to dump the weeds into the compost.

While his original escape was halted by lunch - a lunch that was more picked at than enjoyed, its only a matter of time before Xandis is actually taking advantage of the 'optional' day he has. A quick check of who is assigned where, and with whom, Xandis is settling out purposefully for the gardens - arriving just in time to spot a familiar blonde disappearing behind the shed. A gulp, and its with a determined step that he moves to intercept her.

The good thing about the back of the shed is that it's very easy to just linger there for a while, if you don't care too much about the smell of the compost, and time wasting seems to be on Melze's mind once she gets round there. Her weeds are tossed onto the pile, the basket dropped beside the shed wall, and she reaches her arms above her head so that she can stretch properly. Bored and distracted she missed Xandis arriving, so the intercept comes as something of a surprise.

The even better thing about the back of the shed is that its out of view of most prying eyes, and offers at least a little bit of privacy for bad, bad Xandis's. Bad Xandis's who stalk Melze around the edge of the shed, and without a moment's hesitation move to pin her lifted wrists against the side of the shed as he leans to kiss her firmly, leaving her little time to react and even less time for him to second guess himself.

Melze's eyes go wide and perhaps luckily for Xandis her squeak of protest is muffled enough to not bring anyone running. Whatever he was expecting from this manoeuver, it is doubtful that her wriggling and actively fighting against him was part of the plan. Even when it dawns on her who it is that just pounced on her the response is less than enthusiastic, more intent on getting away that enjoying.

What Xandis was expecting, its likely not even Xandis knew. As she starts to wiggle and squirm, he's quickly pulling away, dropping her hands as if he touched a hot poker, hurriedly stepping back and dropping his gaze. Face turns red and he actually looks apologetic as he sneaks the briefest of looks up at her.

Apologetic or not Melze is still working on instinct and it's only luck that when her hand flies towards his face it's not a closed fist. "Xandis! What the… what…." At least he has managed to silence her for once, the sentence fading off into a frustrated growl.

At least Xandis takes the slap like a man, wincing as her palm connects with his cheek, wincing only briefly, though he does gulp audibly. "I.. Mel…" And he slowly lifts his chin to peek more fully at her. "I'm sorry.." He finally manages, shoulders rising and falling. "I.. I just.." Stammered silence.

Melze shakes her head, turning away, one hand lifting to press against her forehead as she takes a couple of long deep breaths to try to steady her nerves and calm her anger. "You what? Figured you'd just jump in and… and…." She stops shakes her head again, finally turning to look at him, expressionless. "What's going on in your head Xandis. Because this? This is not good."

Xandis winces a little as she turns away, lifting his hands to hide his face, muttering something about really screwing things up. "Just… had to know." He finally offers, quietly, turning to look over his shoulder in the opposite direction, afraid of the possibility of meeting her gaze. "If.." He shrugs again.

"Had to know What?" It's clear she's trying to stop herself from screaming or crying. Possibly both. "Because obviously we have such a bad relationship you couldn't just ask, right?" Realisation sinks in that her hands are in fact shaking, and she twists her fingers together.

"That.. That you were worth it. Someone was… trying to tell me you might not be." Xandis finally manages, with a soft sigh, shoulders dropping as his hands hurriedly sink into his pockets, something in one of them touched briefly, before he turns the rest of the way again. "You are… for the record." He asks, voice shaking, still not looking back.

Now confusion melds with the anger and shock that floods Melze's expression, "What? Worth what? And who was…? You know, I'm not sure I really want to know." Another deep breath is taken, eyes closing for a second. "I need to get back to work."

"Worth.. Standing. I guess. And.. He.. He offered to put in a good word with me with the other girls. Said.. Said I might need it, and I shouldn't count on you." Xandis's explanation comes out all in a rush, his hands slowly pulled out of his pockets. "I found that girl's treasure you know. Picked out something for you too. But now you probably don't want it." Boy fail.

"All this was because you couldn't be sure you wanted to stand?" Melze goes beyond confusion and straight into incredulity. "I can't believe you." Her head shakes and she lets out a long breath, moving to go around him and back to work. The mention of treasure does make her pause, but only so that she can say, "Right now, I'm not even sure I can look at you. And for the record I've had a total of three kisses since I came here, and one of them was from a kid."

"I only agreed to stand because -you- did first." Xandis says hurriedly, as she moves around him to try and work. "I just wanted to be around you." He shrugs, and stays rooted to the ground, somewhat in the way, sneaking the quickest glance at her as he does so. "I'm sorry, Blo-… Mel."

Melze pauses, back to him, "Xandis, I…." A pause, another try at the sentence, "Right now I don't want to be around you. Please. I'll see you at dinner." The 'maybe' that follows is very quiet, easy to miss.

Xandis swallows and nods, before he's turning away to trudge away in silence back the way he came - this time lacking the confidence he appeared with, something flashing on his finger as its twisted back around and around.