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Author Topic:  Accidental Encounters [Z'jan]  (Read 2887 times)

IC Date: 12.04.234 - evening

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Accidental Encounters [Z'jan]
« on: 29 Aug 2013 at 09:53 PM »
Aeldan was usually quite good at timing it so she could avoid the biggest of the crowds when it came to mealtimes. She'd lurk in the kitchens, doing whatever she could to help and keep the older women from shooing her out into the dining hall. "Aeldan, dear, what in Faranth's name are you still doing in here?"  That was one of the more boisterous ones, who had a habit of tugging Aeldan into her side and pulling her along when she wanted the girl to do something. At first it had thrown Aeldan off, made her incredibly nervous, but now, she could almost admit to enjoying it. The woman--she was terrible at remembering names--would tell her stories, grand ones of the North. She'd lived in a minor hold near the Benden mountains, apparently, and never passed up an opportunity to talk about the giant rows of jagged peaks that she used to dream about as a child. They were all just stories, though, and most likely grossly exaggerated, if Aeldan knew anything at all about the woman's personality and proclivity for extravagant storytelling.

"Oh--nothing. Just trying to be helpful, is all!" She gave her best smile, hefting the empty basket on her hip as she paused.

"Well, no need for that, we've got too much help these days. Shoo, go find yourself something to eat. Put that down right here," she said, patting a clear space on the table next to her. Sighing mentally, she did as the woman asked, smile widening ever so slightly as she was pulled in for a one-armed hug before being released. Her expression grew markedly less enthusiastic as she emerged from the kitchens and made her way into the dining hall. She was quick to wend her way along the wall and grab herself a tray of food before turning rather abruptly, having every intention of getting to a quiet, hopefully empty or mostly-empty table. What she was not expecting, however, was to collide with a solid, unmistakably male chest. She squeaked and flailed a bit, sending her tray clattering to the ground with a clang that made her wince. Already stammering apologies she nearly dove to the floor, she fluttered over the spilled food for a moment before scrambling to gather up the dishes first. So busy trying to minimize the damage as much as she possibly could, she never bothered to look and see who, exactly, she'd run into in her haste to get out of the way (ironic, wasn't it?). The thought to do so had never even crossed her mind.

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Re: Accidental Encounters [Z'jan]
« Reply #1 on: 30 Aug 2013 at 02:52 AM »
In Z'jan's mind, a meal wasn't a meal unless there was someone to eat it with. Any solitary consumption didn't count. The calories might, sure, but a meal alone wasn't really a meal at all. Otherwise it was just him. Sitting. Chewing food. Looking around. Not talking to anyone.

Eat. Shards. Z'jan was busy stagger-hopping his way past the dining hall, trying to dig a rock out of his boot without losing any of his forward momentum. Obviously. Eat shards? Ghalath gave the equivalent of a mental sigh. Sure... why not. Just eat something

Z'jan was having no success at recovering the pedal-intruder. He might not be losing momentum, but he was definitely losing the battle. Quit whining. I'm headed to the dining hall right now. no, you're not... you just passed it.

Z'jan put on the breaks. Could she see him? He glanced around, eventually spotting the flap of a mossy wing as it took to the skies. She's been spying on me this whole time, that minx.
Yeah, you better run... fly.

and you better eat. Your bones are pokey. You get tired. I think you've been avoiding someon--

Point made. I'm going! Look. Z'jan goes, eats food, nom nom. Now go... nap. Or something. Z'jan pivoted, giving up on his boot. The rock stabbed him with each step, but he wasn't willing to actually stop moving to address the situation. Though he already had a blister on that foot from his barefoot running and general shenanigans in the woods. And the rock wasn't helping.

Ghalath circled once overhead, before flapping out of sight. Z'jan considered. She was right. He was losing weight. And muscle. And strength. But she was wrong about why. He wasn't avoiding someone. Quite the opposite. He just kept missing everyone. It seemed that no matter what time he found himself in the dining hall, everyone else had already eaten and left, or had yet to arrive. And he hardly had the patience to sit around and wait for them.

He passed inside, eyes struggling to adjust to the light. He blinked. Black splotches mingled in his vision like ghostly people. His spirits lifted. Maybe he'd gotten lucky today, despite the odd hour. But as his pupils dilated, they soon revealed the ruse. Resigned to his fate, still blinking away the sun glare, he moved towards the trays.

...and he got there sooner than he expected. Thwump.

It wasn't until he heard the Clang that he realized he hadn't run into the back wall of the dining hall, but rather straight into a real live person. A person! How convenient. That's just what he'd been looking for... then hadn't seen and consequently run into.

Despite their collision, and the bit of food now on Z'jan's shirt (and he'd actually found a clean one today... sorta), he beamed at the girl busy scooping plates and gushing apologies. After a moment of smiling, his brown quirked. She was very intent, this one. And not on him. Which was fine. But her passion for cleaning up the mess compelled Z'jan to feel the same passion. So he crouched, scooping up a fallen glass just to accidentally pour it's remaining contents on the floor, then nearly knocking heads with the girl as he reached for her still folded napkin.

After all, Z'jan was horrible expert at helping.

"It must have been pretty good" he chuckled "to miss it so much even after it's hit the ground. Here, let me--" He reached for a fallen roll, but the buttery surface would not be caged. It slipped away, wobbling more into her territory now than his. "--uh, pass that to you. There you go. I'm sure if you blow on it, it'll be fine."

Re: Accidental Encounters [Z'jan]
« Reply #2 on: 30 Aug 2013 at 11:57 AM »
The mortification at this entire situation was something that Aeldan was surprisingly good at working through--or would have been, if she'd just been left to her own devices. Barely managing to suppress another squeak in surprise when someone joined her on the ground, Aeldan glanced up, made unintentional eye contact, blushed, and abruptly dropped her eyes again. She was vaguely surprised to realize that it was less out of fear of retaliation and more an issue of habit, but shoved that to the back of her mind for mulling over later. She further surprised herself by making a noise that sounded suspiciously like a giggle at her companion's attempts to help. Oh. Well, that was new.

The fact that she was actually relatively okay with someone helping her clean up her little mess was...different, but at least there wasn't any yelling. Could have done without the whole knocking skulls, but Katila hadn't been built in a day. Progress was progress and since she didn't actually know where that had come from, she could only hope (with trepidation) that she'd stumble upon it again. She was still flustered, but fairly certain that she could pull off a complete sentence without running out of courage.

"It's not--well, okay, it smelled really good, but that's not--thanks." Well, it almost made it. Her lips twitched as the roll tottered a bit towards her, and she picked it up without too much trouble, giving it a cursory brushing off before sticking it back on her tray. Not, of course, that she was planning on eating it, but maybe one of the fire lizards who always lurked around the dining hall would enjoy it.

She glanced up at her companion again, this time on purpose, and took a moment to take in his features, if only for the sake of trying not to barrel into him again. Once was bad enough. She smiled, pausing in her still slightly neurotic attempts to get everything she could off of the ground and back onto her tray. The more liquidy bits would have to wait until she could find a rag or a mop or something, but partly clean was better than leaving a mess for someone else to break their neck on. Brushing a lock of hair behind her ear, she ducked back to the last of the dishes, setting it on top of the admittedly messy pile that had been formed on top of her tray.

"Sorry. Um, again. I hope that shirt wasn't new."

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Re: Accidental Encounters [Z'jan]
« Reply #3 on: 30 Aug 2013 at 12:51 PM »
Z'jan had trouble reading the girl. One minute she was apologizing profusely, then she was looking at him, then she was staring at her toes. Then, maybe, she giggled? It was hard to say. But seeing as Z'jan wasn't very good at reading people in the first place, he wasn't too worried about the whole thing. He'd gotten used to being continuously surprised. It was more fun that way.

Though he wasn't having anymore luck with her words than he was with her body language. To him, all he heard was a jumbled: It's not smelled good but it's not, thanks. Which sorta... didn't... huh? But so what, he hadn't understood her. Who cares? She was here, and he was here, and that was great. The end. Everything else... details.

"This shirt? No. Well, yeah, but... new for me. Clean... ish ." He smiled blankly, wondering why she was interested in his shirt. The grease blot on the front didn't really need any wiping (in Z'jan's mind) so he paid no mind to it. Was that what she meant? Sorry for the stain? He shook the thought away. That was stupid. It's not like she'd chucked the meatpie at him. That would have been different. That would have been a food fight.

He frowned slightly at the missed opportunity.

"Oh, are you... finished?" he made the realization too late. After the food had hit the ground, it was difficult to tell if she'd been just tucking in, or just finishing up. His face dropped, like a scolded canine. He glanced over his shoulder at the hall. Dead. Well shit.

"I haven't eaten yet." He stated bluntly, putting on a cheerful smile.

... pause. Something was ticking in the back of his mind. Something Ghalath would have said right then...

"Oh! I'm Z'jan. I ride Green Ghalath," then, with a boyish grin, "well, when she lets me." He looked the girl over briefly: short, cute, happy face with an unhappy expression on it. Not a rider, but that's as much as he discerned at a glance. Who was she beyond that? Who knew.

No reason to spoil the surprise by asking.

Re: Accidental Encounters [Z'jan]
« Reply #4 on: 30 Aug 2013 at 04:14 PM »
Aeldan tried her best to, as her father had once put it, "play it cool" despite her budding nerves. At first she'd just been completely mortified at her own clumsiness, and had been so busy apologizing and doing her best to fix the situation as quickly as she possibly could that the thought of being nervous hadn't even crossed her mind. Now that it was pretty clear that her companion wasn't actually angry at all, her brain was starting to function normally (for her, anyway) and that meant nerves. Luckily, they were already vaguely soothed by the fact that she wasn't being yelled at and her idiocy seemed to have gone largely unnoticed to those outside her current little bubble.

"Oh," she paused. "well, at least it's not too bad, I guess." Optimism was a little odd on her tongue, but...apparently her companion was somewhat contagious, because she wasn't feeling quite as mortified as she had been a moment ago. "No, I'm--I had just started. Unfortunately." She shrugged with another light smile. His bluntness didn't go unnoticed, but that was the least of her worries when it came to attitude issues. If he had to be blunt, at least it was partially masked by friendliness. And frankly, everything was blunt as far as Aeldan was concerned. She could deal. She hesitating a moment before speaking again. "You're welcome to join me. If you want." Pushing herself to her feet with her mess of a tray in hand, Aeldan turned back to get rid of the mess of dishes before replacing them with a fresh tray of food.

At the revelation that he was a dragonrider, Aeldan automatically glanced around the dining hall as if his dragon would actually be inside. Then the fact that yes, that had actually been an introduction and not simply a random fact thrown out into the air dawned on her. "I'm Aeldan, I--it's nice to meet you, Z'jan." She cut herself off rather abruptly, unsure of whether to acknowledge the dragon's introduction as well, even if it--she--wasn't right there to hear it. Growing up with dragonriders didn't help much when you were never sure what was tradition and what was just normal because you were family. Being largely too timid to ask when questions arose unless the opportunity was virtually placed in her lap, Aeldan tended to err on the side of caution. The end of his sentence caught her attention, though, and her lip twitched again. "Does she deny you often?"

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Re: Accidental Encounters [Z'jan]
« Reply #5 on: 01 Sep 2013 at 07:17 PM »
Z'jan smiled at the invitation to join her. Invitations were the best. Not only did he not have to eat alone, but now he didn't have to find someone else to eat with either. Not that he would have. He'd never let a lack of an invitation stop him from crashing a party.

Even if it was a party of one.

"Great. But only if you join me, first," Z'jan grinned. It was a goofy, cheesy expression. Subtle jokes had never been his forte. Luckily, he wasn't the type to wait for acknowledgement. At her cue, he filled his own tray with food, stacking mashed tubers on top of meat pies on top of steamed vegetables... that'll show Ghalath he wasn't eating.

"Aeldan," he considered, with a look of mild suprise "I like that name..." though he didn't seem to know why. After another helping of food, it seemed to occur to him "No vowel at the end. It seems parents are always tacking vowels onto the ends of girl's names." His expression was so candid, his face such an open book, that one could see him mentally running through the names of any female he could recall...

...and then he got distracted. Bubbly pies! Little ones, and a little burned on top, but he wasn't about to complain. He filled the remaining space on his tray with their sweet, syrupy goodness....

Oh, right, names. "If I ever have a girl, I hope her mother names her Ghorn or Billet or something. You know, just to mix things up." Well, maybe not Ghorn... He walked with Aeldan towards a nearby table, setting his tray down but not sitting himself. Instead, he sort of kneeled on the bench, as though ready to jump up and fight thread at any moment.

"Deny me? Who can deny me?" Devilish grin, quickly melting into a 'I'm trying not to smile for real' face. "Well, not necessarily. But her wings are short. Not super short, but short enough that take off and landing are a real bitch. Adding me doesn't help. At least she think so. Personally, I think it's all in her head. She's hardly the smallest green out there. What about your dr---"

focus Z'jan

"--your, uh, lifestyle?"

...really? To cover his awkwardness, Z'jan stuffed a bubbly pie into his mouth. But it was hot. Very hot. His pained expression really didn't help his image.   

Re: Accidental Encounters [Z'jan]
« Reply #6 on: 06 Sep 2013 at 10:49 PM »
Aeldan allowed herself a small smile at Z'jan's quick comeback, ducking her head for a moment until she could school her expression into one of vague amusement, rather than the flustered, borderline overwhelmed one that she was currently wearing. She wasn't sure what had possessed her to offer for the greenrider to join her for his meal, but oddly, she was okay with that. He, frankly, made enough of a fool of himself to put Aeldan at an odd sense of ease. He was easygoing, and didn't have much of a sense of superiority about him that a lot of riders tended to carry, whether it was intentional or not.

"If you insist," she replied, eyes still resolutely trained on her tray, thumbs tracing back and forth along the edges. His compliment towards her name was met with an absent nod, her mind taking a moment to catch up with the intent behind his rambling, and a flush colored her cheeks again. "Oh--thank you. Well...I mean, I guess--I should be thanking my parents, in this case."

She stood by while Z'jan finished filling his tray, watching with slight bemusement as he piled one thing on top of another. "I think those would be wonderful names for a little girl." She followed slightly behind the greenrider, letting him pick the table and setting her tray on it before settling herself onto the bench. She looked down at her food for a moment before her eyes flicked back up to Z'jan. She smiled again at his little slip, head tilting to one side slightly as she plucked a bubbly pie from her tray and blew on it gently. "Oh, yes, of course. How heavy could you possibly be, anyway?" She said, a teasing lilt to her voice as she eyes his generously filled tray.

"It's definitely a lot less interesting than yours," she said, taking a delicate bite of the bubbly pie before continuing. "Aside from my father's old blue, I've never really been around the dragons, so exciting things tend to miss me." Whether that was a good thing or not was up to the individual, but Aeldan didn't really mind it at all. As far as the dragons were concerned, they tended to come off as a bit intimidating. She didn't actively avoid them, but she most certainly didn't go around looking for a conversation with one, either. Z'jan's current bubbly pie predicament prompted her to cover her smile with a hand, if only for the sake of her full mouth (or that's what she told herself).

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Re: Accidental Encounters [Z'jan]
« Reply #7 on: 09 Sep 2013 at 02:24 PM »
So he was skinny. Other people were noticing. Well, he'd always been skinny. But fit skinny. Jump-around, bound-around, dangle-from-trees skinny. This was different. He didn't want to be the skinny guy.

The skinny greenrider guy. How original.

Chewing the hot bubbly pie while still trying to keep his mouth shut was difficult. Every part of his body was screaming Spit it out! It's fucking hot! but that wouldn't do. Dropping a half masticated glob of bubblypie back onto his tray like a dragon purging firestone. Great first impression. He might not be the most decorous, but he wasn't a complete barbarian.

not a total barbarian Ghalath corrected thoughtfully. She was lurking somewhere outside; Z'jan could feel her mind. He could also feel her add another adjective to her "Z'jan's Not a Total..." list: barbarian. It knocked slut down to 2nd place.

Z'jan force-swallowed the burning mouthful. To cover the look of obvious discomfort on his face, he poked his ribs with his thumb. "Don't let this scrawny boy exterior fool you, I'm a total tank. It's just hidden muscle. I weight as much as Ghalath. Really." Attempted straight face. Obvious fail.

He listened to her talk about her 'lifestyle,' as he'd called it. She was right. It did sound boring. "Exciting things don't miss anyone," he said with a bit of a laugh, though not an unkind one. Mostly, it was to let his burning tongue air. "Exciting things aren't, like, active. They're passive. Ok, that didn't make sense..."

what are you trying to say?

"...what I mean is, exciting things don't walk up to your hut and say 'Hey, I'm an exciting thing: do me!'"

Not better.

"What I'm trying to say, is that you have to find it yourself. If you don't go looking for excitement, it will never bother you. If you do, you'll find it everywhere."

There. Now, enough with the wise grampa crap.

"Your dad rode? So you're going to be a gold Candidate then? Are a candidate." He said it casually, without much thought. After all, that's what weyrbred girls did.

Right?

Re: Accidental Encounters [Z'jan]
« Reply #8 on: 17 Sep 2013 at 07:29 PM »
Aledan buried her look of amusement in her food, not sure whether laughing at Z'jan's expense would offend the greenrider or not. She supposed that his ebullience was a hint, but better to be sure rather than go out on a limb and risk offense. Most people might not have cared enough about such things, but the value she gave to peoples' opinion of her was surprising. She'd rather be that little wraith of a girl who never said a word than the boisterous weyrbrat who didn't know when to shut up.

She didn't quite get the chance to formulate a response to Z'jan's comments before he moved on again, and she took another bite of her bubbly pie, twirling the last chunk of flaky crust between her fingers. As Z'jan attempted to stumble through his explanation her face passed through a variety of expressions before finally settling on amused. "I should mention that excitement and I don't typically go well together." She shrugged. It wasn't so much an issue, really, as anything that could even remotely be considered exciting tended to make her nervous. Something she would have to get over eventually, obviously, but Aeldan was not so noble as to throw herself headfirst out of her comfort zone and into the unknown. That, apparently, was a dragonrider's job, and she could leave that for them for just a bit longer.

"I haven't been yet--I mean, I've been to Hatchings, of course I have, but I've never Stood at one. I'm still--"

Are you mental? He doesn't need to know that!

"...um, yeah." It wasn't the question that got her flustered so much as the fact that her instincts were okay with her nearly spilling her life story to a virtual stranger. She covered it up (she hoped) by finishing off the last crumbs of the bubbly pie, chewing slowly to get herself back under control. Why she bothered was another story altogether, as a small part of her kept saying that Z'jan surely already thought she was mental. "'Going to be' would be the proper way to phrase it, yes."

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Re: Accidental Encounters [Z'jan]
« Reply #9 on: 18 Sep 2013 at 12:00 AM »
Z'jan was following her words very closely. He was, after all, a very good listener. Perhaps not the most eloquent speaker, sure... but listening. Listening was easy. Just translate the words coming out of someone's mouth and ignore everything else until they finish talking. Why so many people had trouble listening was beyond Z'jan. It was the easiest thing in the world! The only person Z'jan ever interrupted was himself.

He smiled at the girl's partially concealed amusement. He liked to make people laugh. And seeing a touch of humor, even just a hint of a smile rise to her cheeks, made Z'jan smile as well. He was like a mirror; he had no choice but to reflect people's emotions. At least the good ones...

If he was a canine, his tail would have been banging against the table. And though he was human, he still had yet to sit down properly at the table like a civilized human being. Instead he shifted legs, kneeling on his left leg now, his right one bunched up between his body and the table, knee pointing upright next to his chest.

Aeldan's pause had Z'jan leaning forward to the point where his face was almost hovering over his tray. It took him a second of watching her awkwardly chew to realize his own awkwardness. With a slight cough, he leaned back, assuming his previous, more dignified position... if it could be called that.

"Going to be? You're old enough!" Wait. That was something you don't talk to women about. Age. Stupid. Stupid Z'jan. "Don't get me wrong! I mean you're young and all. But not... too young?"

Talking was dumb. This time it was Z'jan's turn to put food into his face to keep it from making more noise. He chewed absently. Looked around the room. Looked back at Aeldan. He held her eyes for a moment, or as long as she would let him. Then he gave a small, one shouldered shrug. A sheepish smile tugged at the corners of his lips.

He was absolutely, undeniable, unabashedly at a loss for what to say. But instead of finding this mortifying, he seemed to find it bashfully funny.

"So..." the smile got a little bigger, before he forced it back into a more subtle curve, "do you....uh. Like..."

"...stuff?"

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