Warning: Adult Themes

Whether made under duress or not - and Borodin's still not sure on that count - he apparently keeps his promises. He said he'd take Zapallie on a date, and while he was rather slow about clarifying the details, eventually he did find her and make an actual arrangement. The overlook. Two days from then, which is to say, now. An hour before sunset. It's actually decently romantic in principle. Maybe someone was coaching him. Now, the time has come. The evening light makes the curtains glow. The air is pleasantly warm. There's only one problem. Borodin isn't here yet.

Zapallie did not 'duress' anybody. She simply put the idea in his head! Or something. Maybe Zap caught onto this whole 'romance' idea, which is kind of sweet. So after feeding Larabelle her evening bottle she scrubs up quickly, throws on, yes, another dress, and makes her way to the arranged meeting place, smelling nice and mercifully not covered in cow snot and milk. When she comes up the stairs (which is quite a climb!) and finds the place empty though, the teenager frowns and looks around. "He better not stand me up," she grumbles, draping herself on a pile of pillows to wait.

It really is quite (huff) a climb (puff). The stairs just (huff) keep going, and (puff) Borodin begins to wonder why he ever suggested this. That's about a quarter of the way up. At the halfway mark is where he's pretty certain his legs have turned to jelly. He's been up here before, really he has, but here's the thing. The last time he was up here, it wasn't after a day where he was assigned to physical training all day. His legs were already pulverized, not to mention his body being so drenched in sweat he had to bathe and change his clothes before he was even willing to consider coming out. By the three quarters point, the only thing that keeps him going is knowing that if he stops for a moment, he'll never manage to make himself move again. At long last, he emerges on the scene, late and panting. He has a nice light blue shirt with no stains (it must be new), and a small knapsack.

Not to mention if Zap finds him on the stairs after giving up on him, she's likely to 'help' him to the bottom with a shove. When Borodin finally arrives, she is humming to herself and staring up at the ceiling boredly.

That too. Noble reasoning or fear of threats, they come to the same conclusion. So! Here he is. Panting. "Uhm. Sorry. I…" Right, this talking thing isn't working so well. He takes a deep breath, and forces his legs into motion once again, crossing the room toward her.

Zapallie twists up onto her shoulder when Borodin speaks, and then sits up all the way. "I was just beginning to think I was going to have to hunt you down and beat you up," she tells him with a too-cheerful smile. "Why'd you ask me to meet you all the way up here?" Not that it's not nice, you know, and romantic, but really… the huff-puffing…

Borodin ducks his head at the threat of being beaten up, a meek nod. He's starting to recover his breath, at least when he takes another couple before answering. "…I… thought you'd like it," is what he says, and he turns away from her to look out at where the curtains are parted enough to give a bit of a view. A moment, and he adds more quietly, "…and I thought I'd have more time to get here."

Zapallie was only joking. Probably. About the beating. "Oh. Well. I do like it," she admits with a shrug and makes a spot for him to sit. "Why didn't you have time?"

Probably. Borodin smiles a little, and sets down the knapsack before gratefully sinking into the seat. "Because… the trainer wouldn't let me go until I finished the exercises. All of them." The ones designed for people far, far more fit than he is. The ones he was doing, long after the other candidates had left.

"Oh. Right. Because you're a Candidate now." Zapallie looks… a little sad about that. Okay, a lot sad. "I forgot to congratulate you." Not that that was exactly a congratulations either. "Well. Hey, at least you'll get fit, right?"

Borodin certainly is a Candidate. He nods, and his mouth opens, then closes again in a bite of his lower lip. He chews it for a moment, then laughs at the last bit. "I guess so." The laugh is brief, and then he looks serious again. "Thanks. For… if it wasn't for you, well, I wouldn't have stayed, but even more… I wouldn't have said yes."

"You said yes…because of me?" Zapallie says, trying to follow his logic. "Why would you say yes because of me?"

"Well. Not because of you like that," says Borodin, looking away with a tiny bit of pink in his ears. "But, uhm. You… you told me to stand up for myself. To do what I wanted. So, uhm, I did. …sort of."

"Oh. Well that's good," decides Zapallie, offering him a small smile. "I'm glad that you did. And of course I'm glad you stayed." A deep breath in, and she leans forward. "So, what did you bring for me?"

Yay! A smile! Borodin returns it with a slightly larger one, and he nods a couple of times before trailing off into just the smiling part. "Well," he says, and leans down to pick up the knapsack again. It's undone, and he starts pulling out things. There's a pair of cups, to start with - plain practical not-as-fragile ones, not pretty wineglasses. Also a bottle of something amber. "It's a pear cider," he explains as he sets it down. "And…" he reaches into the bag again, looking sidewise at Zapallie as he reaches for… wait a minute. "You're wearing a dress." He sounds astounded, and like he's only just noticed this.

Not fragile wineglasses, this is practical! Zap likes practical. His selections are given approving nods as they appear — until he states the obvious. "I've been wearing dresses for nearly two sevens now, Borodin." Good job. "Do you like it?" she asks, suddenly a bit shy and uncertain.

"Uhm. Yes. But, well…" Borodin ducks his head, then slowly looks up again. "…it's nice. I like it. If…" He swallows. "I guess I should have gotten you jewelry or something." What with her being all girly-like. "I just… well, here." He pulls out a small waterproofed leather pouch from the knapsack and shoves it at her. It's a rather nice firestarting kit, with sparking steel and little bundles of soft tinder.

Zapallie gives him a look like he's lost his mind. "What would I do with jewelry?" she asks him, quite sincerely curious. When he shoves the kit at her she actually looks…dumbfounded. "You got me something?" This, she was not expecting, and it reflects in the way she is uncomfortably silent. "Shards, Borodin… I… You didn't have to? I mean..it's just a lark, right? Us being on a date?" Even for her words she reaches out to accept the leather pouch, solemnly whispering, "Thank you."

From the look on his face, Borodin doesn't know either! But that's what goes with dresses, right? Jewelry and pretty things? … he is so out of his depth here. He starts to smile at her surprise, but then it fades as things get awkward. There's a little glimmer of that smile again as she takes it, but then he too is awkward, bringing back his hands and working them against each other in his lap. "I… I know I didn't have to. I wanted to. It's…" He bites his lip. "I like you. And, and I know you're… I don't expect you to stay. That's why… well, maybe you can use that and remember me." He tries the smile again, uncertainly.

Zapallie looks like she doesn't believe him. "You like me?" That seems hard to digest so she busies herself looking through the firestarting kit. "I have to stay at least a little while. I, uh…bought a bovine. She's real sweet. Edani says I can ride her, but she's got to be trained up a little so… I've got to stay til she's old enough." She hugs the pouch to her chest though. "But I will. I wish I'd know. I would have gotten you something, too."

He does, he does so like her. Borodin nods for that, but it's with the awkward lip-bitingness of seeing it doubted. …right up until that thought gets derailed. "A bovine?" He blinks, startled, but he recovers after a few moments. "Maybe I can meet her." He smiles, and then spreads his hands in something of a shrug. "It's okay. I mean… I don't want you to feel… like I expect anything of you, like that."

"Oh, you'd absolutely love her!" exclaims Zapallie, suddenly excited. "She's all shaggy and sweet and snuffly. She's just a baby though. I have to feed her a bottle twice a day." Trailing off, the blond licks her lips. "Do you..expect anything?" she asks gently. "Because I don't, um…I'm not good. With this sort of thing."

Enthusiasm is contagious, and Borodin starts to grin as Zapallie describes the bovine, nodding his head. "She sounds nice," he says, and nods… then he goes quiet again at her question. His mouth opens, then closes again, and his eyes drift away until they glance back to Zap and one corner of his mouth quirks up. "I'm not either. I mean…" He trails off, and shakes his head. "Well. You said it, didn't you? This is just a lark. I shouldn't expect anything."

Zapallie bites her lower lip and fidgets in an uncharacteristic show of awkwardness. "Don't have to me. I mean. If you wanted. Could be real." She stumbles over her words before falling into the end, the silence filling the hole left by her voice. "Either way…you said you had pear cider?"

That hole is a deep one, and one over which Borodin thought he had a bridge, built of sturdy planks. 'Just a lark.' 'Not going to last.' 'Playing around.' Now they're taken away, and he tumbles down into that pit of uncertainty and romance with wide eyes and a swallow. "Uhm." It could be real. Does he want that? Wow. That's a hard question to face, let alone answer. Fortunately, there's another, easier, question. "…yeah." He reaches down and picks up the bottle again.

That silence is as sad as it is awkward. Zapallie sets her gift aside and reaches to set the two sturdy glasses up so he can pour cider for them both. If he's got no answer, neither does she, so the question goes the way of the dodo for now.

Borodin is left with a lingering sense of failure. He should have said something. He should have known what to say. He messed it up. He looks away from Zapallie, focusing on the glasses as he pours a fair bit of cider into each of them with over-careful precision.

Zapallie is probably sitting there wondering if he actually likes her or if this /was/ just a lark. Ah, how the silence stretches on as she fixedly watches him pour and then takes one of the glasses when he's done. "Er, well…cheers?" she offers, lifting the amber liquid in toast to him, though who knows what they're toasting.

Borodin sets the bottle down, and stares at the other glass for a few moments before he picks it up. "Yeah. Cheers." He raises his glass to… something or other. At least now his attention is on her instead of the glass itself.

Zapallie stares at Borodin for a long time and then exhales sharply. "This is silly. Is it this hard for everyone, do you think? I mean… We should be able to at least have a conversation!" Right?

Right. Borodin startles a little at the outburst, but then he smiles abashedly and nods. "Sorry. I'm probably doing this all wrong. But, uhm, it is pretty silly. So…" The silence threatens to make a return, but then he heads it off. "Where do you keep your knives in a dress?" Prying questions to the rescue!

Zapallie can't help it. She just can't. "You could always guess?" she suggests with a grin, oh so wicked. It's just too tempting to tease the cook-candidate. Mood now lightened she sips the cider and beams once more. "it's good!"

For once, Borodin doesn't turn pink. He turns his head, regarding Zapallie instead. Actually looking her over. Like he's actually going to guess, once his eyes finish going over her. Down they go, and then back up again to hers. "…under the skirt." That's right. An actual guess, and still no blush.

Zapallie is only slightly disappointed when Borodin doesn't blush, and on top of that, looks her over. "Shame you're a Candidate," she says with a shit-eating grin. "I'd invite you to take a peek and find out." Alas, it shall remain a mystery, since apparently she isn't going to tell.

Now then, that gets a blush, but there's a grin to go with it. A genuine grin, for the moment before the guilt holder parents drummed into him catches up and he takes a sip of cider to cover it up and give him time to become proper again. … it doesn't work. "I would," he says, though he blushes brighter for the saying of it. "So you better be careful."

"Oh-ho!" says Zapallie in delight, and suddenly all that strangeness is forgotten. "The dumpling makes threats." Sorry, that pet name is definitely going to stick, even if Borodin becomes the buffest rider in the world. "I don't have any Headwomen peeking over my shoulder. I'm allowed to flip my skirts up for whomever I please."

Such threats! Such blushing. "Then they're not threats, are they?" That's right. Use that logic, Borodin… such as it is. "They're… promises. I mean, I'm a Candidate now, but I'm not going to be forever. So after that, you… well, you can get whatever you ask for." The possibility this Candidacy might end up in Weyrlinghood and more restrictions doesn't even cross his mind, apparently. There's only so much believing in himself that Borodin can do.

Zapallie will be happy to believe in Borodin plenty for him then. "Might Impress?" she points out, having to be the logical and rational person at all times. "By then, you might have to come find me and Larabelle off…whereever we'll be. Probably making fires in the mountains. There we go. I'll make smoke signals, you can come find me after you graduate." Rather pleased with herself for sewing that up so neatly, she grins at him. No, it doesn't occur to her that he might decide he doesn't want to come find her, and might even forget her. She's young, those thoughts are for older people who know better than to expect every romance to be love, and every love to last forever.

As Zapallie points out the obvious potential consequence of standing, Borodin spreads his hands and shrugs. Sure, it might happen. And bovines might fly, or at least clamber around on mountaintops. He'll worry about that one later. For now, he listens with a growing grin and ends up in a laugh at the inevitable conclusion. "So, see, that's why the firestarter. Otherwise, how would you make the smoke signals?" It all makes perfect sense.

Zapallie snorts in amusement. "Of course, how else would you find me, if not for smoke signals. It's not as if, say, you couldn't send a firelizard to me…" That would be too easy, of course. Better he spend hours flying over the mountains hoping to find a whisp of smoke! That's totally logical. Zap drinks more of the cider and then sets her cup aside, well out of where it could get knocked over on accident.

"Of course not," agrees Borodin. "I don't have a firelizard." Never mind that his sister would be perfectly happy to send one for him. No, seriously, don't mind it, because for all he loves his sister dearly, he'd have to sink underneath the ground with embarassment after asking her. Not because she'd tease him, but because she'd be so Happy For Him. He takes another sip of cider for himself, slow and considering.

"Well, maybe when Absinthe is old enough, you can have one of her eggs?" she offers. "And anyway, if you're looking for me, it means you've got a dragon, and it ought to be able to find me just fine, too." See! That works out nicely. Also? I think Abigail already knows. She was kind of there when Borodin asked Zap out. Just sayin'. Zapallie falls into silence though at his contemplative look, letting him think.

"Maybe," echoes Borodin. So much logic! A boy could drown in that logic. If… logic were water. "I think you could hide from dragons, though. If you tried." Is this hypothetical you or specific you? He's not being terribly clear, but he does take another sip of the cider. Hmmm… okay, here's his thoughtful conclusion. "This'd go well with cinnamon toast."

For a moment, Zap looks as surprised as if he had smacked her, and then she starts laughing, and maybe there's a snorted 'cinnamon toast' in there somewhere. Oh well, he's a cook, what can you do? "Borodin," she says once she's caught her breath, sobering. She leans forward onto her hands and knees — see, she moved her glass already, clever girl — and says, "I'm going to kiss you. And then I'm going to finish my cider and wish you a good night so I can go check on Larabelle before bed."

Borodin blinks at the laughter. But it's true! It would go well with cinnamon toast, and maybe a bit of almond butter, or- "Oh." It's his turn to put his glass down now, doing it without looking as his eyes seem caught by Zapallie. His expression is hopeful and eager and very earnest, but all the words he manages are, "All right." It's left to his smile - and the way he leans unconsciously toward her - to say the things he's not nearly eloquent enough to think of now. He'll come up with them later tonight, alone in bed and wondering if he did okay.

If he wants to know if he did alright, this is probably a good indication. Zapallie doesn't just throw affection around willy nilly after all. Unless you're a bovine, anyway. The teenager tilts her head to the side and leeeeans in to press her mouth against his. Rather chastely for somebody who was just previously offering to let him peek under her skirt. When it comes to things like that, Zap's usually all talk anyway. "There," she says as she pulls away, color rising in her cheeks. Taking her glass, she kills the contents and then smiles giddily at the cook. "And now I'd better go before I get you in trouble."

…well. Didn't all this start with her calling Borodin a fat cow? Maybe that's the secret. He draws in a breath as she leans closer, and then he's holding it with anticipation as he tries to echo the posture of her lips - if not that of her head, there's that whole 'nose' thing to deal with. His inexperience is stunningly obvious, but then again, so is his enjoyment. He's grinning like an idiot as she draws back, watching with little hearts in his eyes as she finishes off that cider. "Yeah. But… this was nice."

There we go! Zapallie likes cows. The universe FINALLY makes sense. If she minds that maybe he bumped her nose, she's certainly saying nothing. Lopsidedly she grins and gets to her feet, folding her hands in front of her with the firestarting kit clutched in them. "It was," she agrees. "And…we'll do it again, okay? Whenever you have time. But, um…maybe somewhere with less stairs."

As it turns out, it's possible for Borodin's expression to brighten further. Most certainly yes. He nods, grinning, and then it turns to a laugh. "Yeah, uhm… less stairs for sure." He casts a brief glance toward them, clearly not looking forward to the bit where he heads back down them. Down is easier than up, but still! "But, again. Soon." …soon as he can manage, anyways.

Zapallie smiles and nods. "Okay. I'll see you around then…" And so the girl who collects knives and climbs trees and wanders Pern and apparently like cows takes the stairs first, having little to fear from them. She glances over her shoulder once on her way down and lifts her hand in a little wave before she's out of sight.

'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.