"Lousy stupid world that has such people in it," Weft was muttering to himself. One might be forgiven for thinking he enjoyed fuming alone while kneeling in the first grounding posture, considering the amount of time he spent doing it when around offworlders.
He became aware of tiny draconic feet somewhere about. He opened one green eye, then the other. "Oh, it's you," he said. He hesitated, then held out a hand, ready to twitch it away if the beast turned out to be bitey.
This startled the dragon. This wasn't supposed to happen! The left head bristled up, while the right backed down a little. As Weft held still, they both calmed down.
He sniffed Weft's hand, and started to purr.
At Sylvie's question, Jaina looked up and did not cease glowing red. "Mph," she said in an embarassed panic. Way to not help, Ice, she grumbled silently and tried to smooth her hair.
The beet-faced woman swallowed her mouthful of pancake in one gulp. In an instant, Jaina pounced on her way out. "Sylvie! Yes, some here and meet Lance! Lance, this is Sylvie. She makes great pancakes. Sylvie, meet Lance, my old clubbing buddy and asker of ambiguously embarrassing questions."
Jaina beamed. She felt much better now.
Lance leapt up from his seat and offered a hand to Sylvie.
"Normally I'd ask if it hurt when you feel from heaven," he grinned, "But that was me, and yes it did. So I guess I'll have to be more creative, huh? I suppose that complimenting your cooking skills would be a little too obvious, as well."
"And hey," Lance said, looking back at Jaina and lifting an eyebrow. "There's nothing ambiguous about my questions."
Weft tried tickling the dragonling under one of its chins.
hmm, friendly! Ayu-Asra scuttled up Weft's arm, planning to make himself comfortable on the monks shoulder.
That made the monk tense up and for a moment it looked as though he was going to throw Ayu-Asra halfway across the garden.
Then he relaxed. It was only a tame animal; he even found the scrabbling presence comforting in a way. People didn't often touch Weft except in attempts to kill him, or, in Lance's case, tease.
The dragon draped himself over Weft's shoulder. One head rested on the monk's collarbone, the other on the dragons back, and both started to chirp happily and quietly.
Sylvie regarded Lance with some mix of amusement and suspicion. "You don't really look like someone who would beat other people with a club..."
The dragon-cuddles and chirps finally forced a smile out of Weft, and he settled into a meditative trance. It was easy this time.
Jaina, in mid-sip of her Djew, sputtered. "Not that kind of clubbing, Sylvie. It means going to a place called a club. Though I suppose a bludgeon would make it easier to deal with people there." The redhead was quite pleased with this idea. Quite possibly the caffeine was affecting her mood.
"As for you, mister," Jaina addressed Lance playfully, "it depends on the technical definition of 'smoosh.' Okay?"
"Er, no," Lance smiled a bit and looked awkward at the suggestion of hitting things with clubs. "I'm much more of a lover than a fighter. But when I love, I do it very well."
Since Sylvie apparently wasn't going to accept his hand of greeting, Lance sat back down and continued poking at his pancakes.
"These are really good though, and I'm not just saying that. What's your secret?" He grinned at her, then turned to Jaina and added in a smug tone, "Smoosh, noun or verb. Love, like, attraction, romantic exchanges of physical nature, to make lovey-dovey actions with, to have a crush on, to be in love with, to kiss, to embrace..."
He kept going, waiting for someone to tell him to shut up.
"I think we get the message. Indeed a flexible term, almost to the point of inutility." But Suitov was in playful mien too.
And he still wasn't going to rescue Jaina from answering the question.
Jaina sat still for a moment, eyes darting from Lance to Suitov to Sylvie and back again in search of escape. None came. At last she cleared her throat and addressed the table's denizens.
"Oh, fine, " she mock-whined. "Yup, we're smooshing. Is that what you all wanted me to say?" Her green eyes danced all the while.
"And now I think it's time for seconds! Are there any left, Sylvie? If not, I can always try making some on my own." Jaina didn't bother to point out how her own cooking frequently ended: charred. It didn't seem necessary.
"There, that wasn't so hard, was it?" Lance beamed, looking very pleased with himself. After a moment, he added, "Do you think it's possible to make beer pancakes? I mean, you can make beer batter, so..."
"Yes, it is," Suitov told him, pausing for comic timing before adding "so I've heard. Far better made with cider, though."
Now he wanted raspberries. Still a couple of months until those were in season.
Baskerville wormed his way under the table. A few seconds later his muzzle appeared between someone's knees and said "Feed a nice pretty starving doggy."
Suitov mentally informed him that this might work better if Baskerville had not, up until a minute ago, been engaged in licking up a honey slick.
"I'm not sure if there are any eggs left..." Sylvie was glad she had eaten her breakfast on the side while cooking; it was amazing how quickly they had cleaned up everything.
"Beer and cider pancakes," Jaina repeated, amused. "We'd all be drunk by noon, and then the snide dust kitten outside would gut us in our sleep. Though that does avoid the hangover." She appeared to ponder that while she offered the crumbs on her plate to Baskerville.
"No eggs? That's okay, Sylvie; it'd be a lot of bother getting the kitchen going again. Perhaps another day." A day with smoke out the windows and a hefty discount on breakfast, if Jaina was at the grill, but she kept that to herself.
"Oh, he won't try that on you here," Suitov informed her, sounding uninterested.
"I'll get rid of him if he tries anything more than verbal sniping, but not before. His organisation would just send someone else; and the next one would probably be less easy to train."
The honey-whiskered dog licked Jaina's plate on instinct, though he preferred dishes to be fuller when offered to him.
"I'm special, huh?" Jaina asked with a chuckle. She got to her feet and began collecting empty dishes from everyone who seemed done.
"Oh my Goddess, you mean there's worse than Weft out there?" The thought stopped the redhead in her tracks. Two forks slipped to the floor before her training kicked in, saving the rest of the pile from a clattery death.