Talking Boys

Fort Weyr — Center Bowl

The wide center of the bowl is often bustling with activity as riders come and go. Off westward can be seen the entrances for the candidate barracks and the guest weyr, while to the east is a large opening that leads into the dragon infirmary. The bowl stretches off both to the north and to the south, where the sheer stone walls rise steeply to the sky.

Another summer day at Fort, and this one blooms blustery, chasing puffy white clouds across the endlessly blue sky. The rain that came is gone for the afternoon, granting a brief respite where people might go outside and enjoy the fresh air without getting drenched. So it is with Zapallie. Not that you'd know it was her, so dramatically different she looks today. For a start, she's wearing a pink dress that cinches in at her waist with a wide sash tied in a large bow in the small of her back. A headband holds her blond hair back. She even has little brown ankle boots instead of the monsterous stompers she normally wears.

Whether or not Inyri recognizes Zapallie — which, even despite her eye for faces, she most likely doesn't — it doesn't stop her from piping up as she wanders past across the bowl, "Hey, nice outfit!" She herself isn't dressed anywhere near as chic, though she has been known to be a clothes horse; that's because she's covered in mud, instead. Looks like the clothes horse had to deal with real horses, or rather real runners, today. There is hay and mulch stuck to her boots. Her shirt and hair, though, are impeccably clean (though the hair may be a little sweaty; it's up on her head and avoided most of the mucking drama).

Zapallie lifts her chin at the compliment to see who made it and offers a cheerful smile to Inyri. "Thanks!" she pipes, and looks the new Canidate over with a lifted eyebrow directed at her boots. "Bit different than bartending?" asks the blond with a small amused smirk. "I hated Candidate chores, so I never did them…" A laugh climbs out of her throat. "Probably one of the reasons I got kicked out."

"I don't understand," Inyri agrees by continued conversation topic, rather than /directly/ saying she hates anything or whether it's different, candidate chores or otherwise, "why I can't just keep doing my normal job for a while, honestly." She shrugs, letting out a tiny sigh and clicking her tongue. "Apparently those eggs take months to hatch. Menial labor for months is supposed to prepare the very special ten people out of what, a hundred, to become dragonriders? How does that /work/?" Obviously, the pretty blonde who sounds awfully familiar around the voice is the expert, having gotten kicked out previously.

"Theoretically, it's supposed to build muscle strength and humble you towards the things you're going to have to do as a weyrling — like cleaning up dragon dung, oiling til your arms are noodley, butchering meat, and having a mental standoff over everything." This, the girl ticks off on her fingertips. "That's what my ma used to say, anyway. Personally, I think it's designed to keep everyone so tired and stinky they don't have time to get into fights or knocked up." Zapalie, a fount of information! And pleasantry, which is odd enough as it is. "It is a shame though, they usually search three times what they'll need, so 2 out of 3 people isn't walking out of that cavern a dragon rider…and then you've pissed away a few months of your life." Certainly still talks like Zap, husky voice and crude words.

So Inyri's squinting, recognizing the voice, head tilted just ever-so-slightly off to the left — enough that her hair, up in a messy bun, is trailing against her shoulder. "I think that cleaning up dragon dung," she enunciates carefully, sure to make the point of just what she's saying, "makes much more actual sense than having to, for instance, clean latrines. Except for one's own latrine if one is living alone, it shouldn't be a a potential future dragonrider's job to clean latrines, surely? Would anyone make an /actual/ dragonrider clean latrines?" This time, the shrug is more attached to a tiny-shade-of-scoff than anything else. "I don't think so, there's this dreamy respect of them. Even weyrlings. So lucky."
(That's cynical. Inyri doesn't appear to believe personally that weyrlings are a font of good luck.)

The one bi-colored eye is a dead ringer. Heterochromia iridum isn't exactly something you see everyday. Zap smiles slowly at Inyri, waiting for her to recognize her. "Oh, who knows… riders have to learn their keep somehow, don't they? Thread doesn't fall anymore, so it's not as if the holds all hand over everything the Weyr needs. So riders do all kinds of things. Even bartend." That one strange eye winks at the other girl and then Zapallie glances upwards. "Glad the weather has turned. I was getting tired of the rain."

It does take Inyri a little while to get close enough to notice — and once she does, it's a /very/ subtle double-take glance-up-and-down, but it's enough for Zapallie to register that it's happened. Being unphased really does seem to be Inyri's specialty, though, because she continues the conversation as if nothing is weird. (And, of course, it is a very nice dress, and maybe the very nice dress makes snappy people less rude; Inyri wouldn't entirely discount /that/, either.) "That's what I would do if I were a rider, probably. Just keep bartending. Even though I've got a friend who insists I'll be in Thunderbird now, doing the — police thing. Because I'm nosy, apparently? Rain's better than snow," she adds, following the tangent.

Zapallie has to grin, oh she has to, at Inyri's subtle look over. "Well, as far as I know the Weyr almost always picks which wing you're in, so who really knows." She certainly doesn't! Now she plants her hands on her hips, one cocking just so to the side. "I don't even want to /hear/ the word snow," the young woman comments in disgust. "I've banned it from my vocabulary. I refuse to even be here when it falls again."

Inyri is at least comfortable being the brunt of amusement when it really /has/ taken her that long to get something. Even she sort of thinks it's funny; it's a shyer, 'I'm an idiot' sort of grin that she offers in return, but it's still there. "I can't really see me riding anyway, but apparently Vel — um — /the Weyrleader's dragon/," it's really a miracle she can remember 'Zuvaleyuth' ever, "thinks he could. I grew up around snow, north of here, and I still can't stand it. It does not grow on you. I guess it might for some people; I think it looks pretty out a window but I sure don't want to be in it."

"Edani stared at me for a good thirty minutes and still hadn't figured it out," murmurs Zapallie in a conspiratorial way to Inyri, just to sooth her ego about taking so long to figure out who she was. "Velokeroth," she supplies easily, before allowing the other to speak again. "There's always a chance…if you're Searched, it means there's a dragon out there for you somewhere, they say…now, if it's in this clutch or another, and if you'll be there for it, is another matter entirely." As far as snow she snorts a laugh. "I'm /glad/ it doesn't grow on you. We'd all be little snowmen waddling around."

"Oh, ew," Inyri half-chokes out, giggling and making a disgusted face all at once; that is the magic of body-language multi-tasking. It offers for amazing opportunities such as this. "I didn't even think of it literally. I would /really/ not want to be come, like, a snow person." The dramatic eyeroll is not /at/ Zapallie so much as it is including her in the incredulous horror that is being turned into a snowman. "And — of course he did, he's a man. Great friend. Still a man. And the gossip says you're dating, you know?" Just to make sure she knows; Inyri hates to perpetuate things that a) people she likes don't like, b) people don't /know/ is being perpetuated. This one she's not perpetuating much, since she's not one to gossip about people she likes in general — but just to make sure!

Zapallie puffs her cheeks up and makes a big balloon around herself with her arms and proceeds to take mighty squat-legged steps, as if she were a clumsy snow man. "I'm meeeelting!" she screeches, adding to the silliness. Inyri's news that they are dating brings her to a halt and she stands up straight again, looking incredulous. "Oh. Um…" Again she trails off. "I don't think that will ever happen. Edani doesn't…like me really, you know?"

Before Zee's reaction to Inyri's passing along of the gossip, though, she's making the slightly-older now-candidate laugh a bit more, and clap her hands together twice in a praise of the performance. "Well it /is/ a bit warm, now —" she elaborates, before pulling her hair out of the bun and trying to smooth it down her back again. "Doesn't he? Funny that someone'd spread around that you were dating, if he doesn't even like you." She's not fishing so much as she is legitimately lost, here, hard as it can be to tell the difference between when Inyri is really curious or concerned versus when Inyri wants to know something just because she naturally pries.

Warm indeed! Dress weather. Or terrorize and confuse people WITH dresses weather. You know, both are good. "I don't know who would," confirms Zee with a grimace. "I mean…he /tolerates/ me, which is something, right? But it's…nothing romantic." Ah, and how wistful she looks about it, too.

"Romance is awful," is Inyri's take, straightforward and without any preamble that might soften it. Not that Zapallie is someone who really needs words softened for her, but this is clearly an opinion Inyri would address regardless. "Like, utter not-worth-it misery. Not that I have that much experience, but I /really/ wouldn't recommend it." She sounds a bit disdainful of the entire concept of dating, even if she is also looking concerned around the edges; worried about Zapallie's feelings, perhaps? "I think he does like you, though. I don't know how he likes you. But. I think he likes you."

Zapallie laughs then at Inyri's bluntless. "Oh, shards but you're right," she agrees, nodding her head enthusiastically. Mischieviously she says, "I take it dating Ezra isn't going so well?" Some things die hard, like her need to jab fun at people. That was a blunt needling though. "Well, whether he does or doesn't, I suppose, it doesn't matter. He gets all… sweet and I don't know how to deal with him. And then he storms off the minute I say the wrong thing."

"Oh, Ezra's done nothing wrong!" Inyri's quick to defend the boy, though not so quick to defend that it might seem she was actually hiding something — it's a relaxed defense, but a defense none the less. "I just wouldn't date someone who was really after anything more than somebody to talk to, you know? He's young and needs support." It was the kind of needling Inyri really doesn't mind and in fact participates in, which makes it completely okay. /Friendly/ teasing. "I like him. He's a good kid. And definitely keeps other men away from me. And Edani — is sweet. He's a good guy. Apparently also a confused one."

"He does," agrees Zap with a grimace. "He's so suspicious of me, I'm not sure how to even handle him. I think we'd have plenty in common, but I can't blame him for hating me." No, she rarely blames anyone for hating her. Chin lifting, the blond girl tilts her hazel gaze at Inyri and smiles faintly. "Confused. That's appropriate, yes. Edani is definitely confused. Speaking of Edani and rumors, I thought he was sweet on YOU. He certainly was flirting with you enough when we first met."

"What? Oh," This is Inyri's dismissive lack of surprise. "Everyone flirts with me. I'm eminently flirt-with-able, I guess. It's hard to find men who don't, and some women do too, now that I'm here. Back home that never happened." Her expression is devoid of any hint as to how she might have responded to that. "I doubt it has anything to do with actual interest; I have no idea what it /does/ have to do with, since I'm not all that much of a bombshell. Around the edges of conventionally attractive, maybe, but I'm no crowd-stopper. I'm just a flirting magnet, I suppose." She also doesn't seem much to care either way; her response to it is matter-of-fact. "Maybe Edani is just sweet on everyone."

"Well, I'm not exactly a looker, either, but…nobody flirts with me, either." Zapallie smiles in the self-depricating way she's adopted for her little social experiment. Inyri's last suggestion earns a startled, delighted laugh. "That's the solution, of course… Edani is sweet on everyone. Perhaps I should ask girls out on his behalf. It would be great fun."

Inyri just stares for a half-second or so, not really sure how she's meant to react to that particular plan — or else, she's just not sure what her actual reaction /is/, regardless of what it's meant to be. "I have no idea what he'd make of that. He might see it as promotion. You might want to ask him first." These are all, of course, mights. Inyri is not mean spirited, but she isn't the one to get in the way of someone's fun, either — and after all, Edani /might/ like it. "Though not while he's a candidate. Don't think that's approved of; also, I've got no idea why nobody flirts with you, you're plenty fit."

Zapallie has nothing to add to her plan to get Edani lots of girlfriends without his consent — and that's exactly the plan. Instead she glances down at herself, in the dress, and smirks. "Yah, I am pretty fit," she agrees just a smidge proudly. "You should have seen Khyonai when he stumbled on me on the beach in my bathing suit. I bet if I'd squeazed him, his eyeballs would have gone sailing."

"— I wish I had," is what Inyri has to say to /that/, and her eyes are alight with the sort of amusement that one pretty much never sees in her, these days. She's got to have something exceptionally interesting to laugh at, in fact, and any man's reaction to this transformation probably would be one. But especially Khyonai's, after the incident on her turnday. "Was it a particularly nice bathing suit?"

"I believe the look on his face was 'BOOBS!'" and Zap kindly shows her exactly what this face looks like. "I suspect he wasn't actually fully aware that I was female. It was a bit pathetic, actually. He like…petted me, just a bit. That's why I'm wearing the dresses, you know. I'm curious to see how many people fall over when they see me. I figure it'll take about a seven to figure out who acts differently and who doesn't."

After the requisite giggle at Zap's imitation, Inyri hesitates for a moment; she's thoughtful, now, and actually has her lips pursed in consternation. After a moment, she concludes, "It's really too bad you're taller than me, or I'd start lending you stuff from my closet. Things I wore when playing hostess for bachelor parties, for instance." Not that Breakwater had a lot of those, but she was around and looking attractive for at least two in her entire life! "But considering I'm definitely at least two inches shorter that'd make all of my dresses two inches shorter, and you likely have no interest in going there. I'm not sure /I'd/ go there — maybe back at the hold where people would talk but not act, but here? It'd be inviting maybe a little much."

Zapallie sobers and nods her head. "It's hard enough if you walk too close to the end of a greenflight — all those fuzzy eyed idiots stumbling out into the sun with drool on their lip and THINGS on their mind." No, she doesn't much like talking about that. "I have plenty of dresses though. All my old clothes were thrown in a dung heap out in the feeding grounds. I'll need more travel stuff, but these will do for the summer."

"When and why did /that/ happen?" Nosy Inyri is back to being nosy — though there's a judgemental raise to her brow that indicates that if a person actually took Zapallie's clothes and dumped them in the feeding grounds, and it wasn't Zap herself, that she is disapproving of said person's behavior. Haughtily, too. "And if you want shopping company — oh." It seems the time she's spent talking has dawned on Inyri, creeping up on her like the slow build of bad news. "I am probably late for some chore thing. But. If you want shopping company, there's always me." And she still wants an answer before she's leaving.

"It's just a few people that keep messing with me." Dismissively, Zapallie waves a hand to indicate they don't matter. "I'd report them, but I don't want to give them the satisfaction of thinking they've gotten to me. That's MY thing." She smiles at Inyri's offer and shakes her head. "I'll manage. Congratulations on being Searched, sweetheart. Go get to your chores. They're important, if only to keep your butt around long enough to be on the Sands." Her hands flap in a shooing motion, encouraging Inyri to get to her duties.

"And I'm /certain/ you'll get to them back," Inyri offers as a parting comment, before waggling her fingers in an enthusiastic little wave to turn to go. "I'm not sure if I feel like it's something worth congratulating, but hey, if I don't get mauled by baby dragons, I can say I had quite the life experience. Catch you later —" And she's off, to go get covered in stable muck again. Or maybe clean a latrine.

'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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