Log:In the Bazaar

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In the Bazaar
Characters  •   Cinder  •  Kat  •  Lyra  •  Kitten  •  Evelyn  •  Phoenix  •  KissThisThen  •  Xavier  •
Location  •  Sanctuary - Prime - Fortunate Bazaar
Factions  •   The Fortunate Ones  •  The Savvy  •  The Children of War  •
Date  •  2019-11-19
Summary  •  A gathering of folks talk in the Fortunate Bazaar.

It is in the early evening, which means that the sharp and harsh light form outside has softened into something more like dusk. Some lamps are lit, but outside the Gilded Cage (and away from the stalls), many of them run on waste materials and tend towards the smokey. KissThisThen is, for once, dressed almost as if he is trying to not be a random wreck. He has a long leather reaper-skirt on over pants of homespun material. The skirt is scarred and pocketed, a tool in and of itself, really. For gathering, laying out, lying on, picking things up in. KissThisThen is up towards the stage area of the entire Bazaar, an unusual choice for him. Usually he just lurks around, trying to find anything plant related. Right now he is behaving just a little oddly, arms folded, vague expression even vaguer than usual.


Phoenix is seated in the lounge not far from the stage where a performance is currently underway. A pair of dancers going through the motions to the sound of a high pitched wind instrument, their steps quick and sure. The fire dancer, however, does not carry his equipment with him tonight, which means it's not likely that he is performing. Instead, he is watching. He watches people as they come and go through the bazaar, and those who come to settle in the lounge. Some pause to talk, but not many. There's something about the silent, tattooed man, that attracts some, but repels others. He wears his leathers, the boots and pants that cling to his body, and a loose black shirt with short sleeves that show off the winding thorned ink that reaches from his shoulders down his biceps.


Evelyn has packed up her things. She's decided she's done trying to get people to trade lux for her jewelry, and the reluctant fortunate is approaching the stages herself. She stops near Phoenix, by coincidence, and takes a good look at what's going on. She's chosen to wear some baggy jeans and a loose shirt today.


KissThisThen stares at the dancers. He does not overly seem to actually be noticing them, but he is _looking_ their way. No, wait - the music. He is trying to focus on the music, the high pitch of it cutting through the dull edge to his hearing more effectively. He is focused intently on it, actually hearing something clearly for once. Then, slowly, he unfolds his arms, and he breathes out. He turns, and he tries to find somewhere to sit. There are quite a few people here and there, and he nervously heads away from them, frowning to himself, muttering under his breath. And then he glances at Phoenix, and he says "Oh, he probably won't notice," quite out loud, before ending up just behind Evelyn "...but she might."


"Evelyn," Phoenix greets her when she stops nearby, voice quiet, even. He's spent his entire life in the gilded cage, just as she has, and is as much a restlessly trapped animal. But if he is restless tonight, he hides it well, under that watchful stillness. While the dancers continue to twirl and spin to the light and cheerful music behind them, he glances over at the movement. One brow ticks upward slightly at KTT's words, spoke aloud. "Kiss," he says in greeting. For he's obtained extracts from the man before, for one purpose or another, and recognizes the Savvy. "You can sit," he says, nodding to the empty spaces nearby. It seems an invitation to both of them, in a way.


"Notice what?" Evelyn asks Kiss, taking Phoenix's offer to sit. "Sup, Phoenix?" She sighs and looks at the dancers some more, with a frown. She's clearly picturing herself in them, and not happy with what that implies.


"Hello, Phoenix." Until six years ago, KissThisThen was Fortunate himself. His skin condition is probably not catching, at least - it never has. But he has one, which makes him impure. Which means no more Gilded Cage. He rubs his knuckles over, and turns his head towards the music. Evelyn might frown, but his expression is neutral with thought, and only her comment has him shake the idea free "She's talking to you," he says, and then he turns his head towards her, and he says "Hello." There is a bit of a pause, and he says "Do you not like the music?" A pause "Neither of you are dancing, tonight?"


Kitten arrives from Sanctuary - Prime - Great Mess Hall.


"Quiet night," Phoenix replies to Evelyn, meaning for him at least. He's not performing, and at the moment he has no callers, and yet, he's dressed for it. So he might take one, or be claimed by one at any time. But for now, no one comes to pull him away from their little cluster near the stage. When asked if they are dancing, Phoenix shakes his head for himself. "Not tonight, not unless it's a private performance."


Evelyn shakes her head, too. Though she doesn't bother with a verbal answer to the question as to whether she's dancing, "The music is fine, I suppose." She answers other question. To Phoenix, she shrugs. "A quiet night is fine by me."


KissThisThen is sitting up near with the others. His clothes are neatly mended - for once. And he says "...you don't want to. Why don't they want to dance for the pleasure of it?"


Kitten meanders in with their pipe wrench in hand, resting on their shoulder. They're wearing big stompy boots and their ridiculous vinyl dress. There's a swagger in their walk, and they perk up as they see KTT. Walking that way, they say, "I'll dance for you, Kissy."


Phoenix makes no comment on dancing for the pleasure of it, simply studying Kiss for a long couple of moments, and then glancing back toward the stage. The dance comes to an end and then the bally calls out the next performance to start after a break, instructing those who might want to partake of the dancers' time and perhaps a private performance to see him. He then looks back over toward Evelyn and he nods to her, apparently comfortable with a quiet night, himself. His attention shifts over to Kitten when they appear, studying them, as though assessing their current state of Kitten-ness.


"Cause there's no pleasure in dancing for others." Evelyn answers Kiss, "It's just work." She shrugs and looks over to the stage as the show ends and begins to change when Kitten arrives, and Evelyn glances. "Hey."


KissThisThen does look puzzled, it has to be said. As if he cannot quite _imagine_ not wanting to dance - assuming one was any good at it. Then again, he really is better with plants. To Kitten's eyes, he might be a bit hungover "You don't enjoy it?" he says, head tilted, looking at the stage. And then he frowns down at his hands, uncomfortable, now. He places them together, and he says to Evelyn "Hmm. Maybe I left when I still liked it. Or now that I don't think I know how, I miss it." He then sees Kitten and he lifts a hand "Yes, maybe the war children should dance for the fortunate," he says.


Kitten seems pretty mellow today, for what it's worth. They're not flashing anyone. Yet. They sit beside KTT and lean against him, shoulder to shoulder. "We'll play the war drums," they say with a toothy smile. "You'll like the way we dance." They set the pipe wrench beside them, near at hand. "How are you feeling?" they ask KTT. "I think Skids was worried about you."


Phoenix falls entirely silent once the conversation turns toward dancing for pleasure versus dancing for others. He doesn't voice his opinions on that topic in the bazaar. Instead, his attention shifts to those moving about the lounge and away from the stage. Pale gaze rests on one person, and then another, assessing, considering, the way that they move and interact with one another, as though he were watching gazelle at a watering hole. Eventually, his eyes seem to light on a particular individual standing by one of the stalls, and linger there for several long moments.


Evelyn's gaze follows Phoenix's. "I'm sure most of them like it." Or at least do a good enough job at pretending Evelyn doesn't want to undermine them. "I just don't. I try to let them let me stick to making shiny things for people, that's relaxing at least." She glances to Kitten, "So have you managed the thing yet?"


"Skids was...when?" asks KissThisThen cautiously "When did I last see him. A week ago?" He shifts, and he says "War drums are...loud. I can feel them through my feet." Then he adds "I feel better now I have thrown up a lot. I came here to spend lux." Rare, very rare for him. And usually he just...never really buys very _much_. He runs his fingers through his thick dredlocks, and he says suddenly "What is he looking at?" Phoenix, possibly "What is. He thinking right now?" He then looks at Evelyn "Hmm. Well. I see. You want to make with your hands. And create a thing that will last?"


"Yesterday," Kitten tells KTT. "He carried you out of the Big and Messy and put you to bed. At least I think that's what he did with you." They rub KTT's back. With a look to Phoenix, they say, "Hey, what are you looking at?" Since KTT wants to know... Kitten then turns their attention to Evelyn. "I asked Faustina, but she said there was a protocol, and you just have to spend Lux to be taken out."


The object of Phoenix's attention is a lean man in his 20s, dressed like an outsider, not someone from Sanctuary, someone here to spend Lux in the bazaar. He stands outside a booth and examines some of the pricier items. His eyes are dark, his hair loose around his face, falling in front of one of his eyes, but not much longer than his chin. He occasionally looks over in their direction, and then looks away again.

He's accustomed to Kiss's manner of speaking, and he knows very well that he's talking about him. Phoenix's eyes flicker over to Kiss for a moment, and then back to the man by the stall. "That I'm going to fuck him, tonight." He pulls himself up from his seat, and begins making his way over toward the booth, and the man standing by it, a fluid motion, like a big cat slowly approaching its prey, in no hurry whatsoever, leaving the others to their conversation for a few moments.


"That's not really it." Evelyn answers Kiss, opaquely; clearly suspecting something about where that line of conversation goes. Then, to Kitten. "I kind of expected that, but there's no point to it then." She shrugs and glances towards Phoenix approaching the man, and sighing.


Lyra arrives from Sanctuary - Prime - Great Mess Hall.


"Ugh," says KissThisThen "Perhaps the Amanita Muscaria needs to be, needs to be..." He tries to remember the terminology for a moment, then shrugged "Weakened. Diluted. Yes." And he rubs his temples, and then - his back is being rubbed too. He shows his teeth, white, in something that is probably meant to be a smile. And then he turns to watch Phoenix with the outsider, his head tilted, frowning. Not disapproving. Trying to comprehend. He shakes his head, and he shrugs, and then he watches them again, before he says bluntly to Evelyn "So what is it?"


"Yeah, you should dilute it," Kitten tells KTT. "Maybe by a lot. You were in bad shape yesterday." Phoenix gets a thumbs up. "Good hunting," they say amiably. They then tell KTT, "It's still pink. Not as pink as it was before, but it's definitely pink." They pat KTT on the back, as though all this is meant to be encouragement.


Lyra enters carrying her lap-harp in its padding slung over her back by a strap. She's wearing a soft blue sari-like outfit, today, all draped lengths of fabric and embroidery and jewelry with bright colors and looping wire. She strolls through the bazaar, apparently here a little early for her performance and browsing while she has time.


Phoenix spends a bit of time over by the booth, talking with the outsider in low tones. There's not much to be made out by what their saying, but even at a distance, their body language suggests that there's interest on the part of the outsider. It's not a very long conversation, and so whatever negotiations may have occurred were brief, before he turns away, and begins to make his way back to the group.


Maylis and Cinder come down from the Gilded Cage, along with a dark skinned beanpole of a War Kid known as Exo. All three are hauling Maylis' wares. Folded clothes in crates, draped over shoulders, hung on arms. Cinder has the most and is bounding with energy to Maylis' stall. This is when he see others. "Hello!" He calls over. He's been in a fantastic mood. All smiles, laughs and certain open energy than is odd for the usually lurking and quiet Fortunate. He's dressed in his usual bright colors and jewelry. He has locks of his hair braided in a haphazard, childish sort of way. Each tied off with odd bits of fabric or hide. Once he helps Maylis set up, he'll cruise over to the others. But he does pass Lyra and greets her with a beaming grin.


"It was in the old books I had - these fierce warriors from the north used it, something about some animal they fed it to, and they drank it's urine. Really odd - oh _ugh_," says KissThisThen, clipping himself in the head "...they were using the animal to process out the worst of the toxins. I thought it was a disgusting Old Time sex thing, like some of those magazines that GasTown has in the archive." He finally sighs, and then he says to Kitten "I cannot tell who to be jealous of." A shake of the head, and the Reaper is scratching the side of his face. The white patches on his skin spread out, blotchy in some areas, spider-webbed in others. Wherever the melanin making cells fail. He says "Then it's lasting a while. That is good. Perhaps you should tell Fortunate about it. They might want to decorate their skin, if it's pale enough." He waggles the hand that has no white spots on it "Just the way leaves decorate themselves. Decay is very beautiful." He licks his teeth, and then he waves a hand to Cinder. And he takes his lux token out, turning it over in his fingers "What should I buy?" he asks Kitten.


Kat arrives from Sanctuary - Prime - Great Mess Hall.


Cinder arrives from Sanctuary - Prime - Great Mess Hall.


Lyra gives Cinder a warm smile. "You're looking happier, sweetness. Did you have some good news? I like what you've done with your hair." Then she grins over at Maylis. "Do you have any new blouses which might suit me? If you do, set them aside for me to look at after my set?" She gives Phoenix and the outsider a slightly interested glance as they talk.


Kitten waves to Maylis and Cinder. "Hey, Exo," they say. Then they glance sidelong at KTT. "Old Time se-- with animal urine?" They're quiet a moment, then they say, "Am... am I doing it wrong? I don't use any of that stuff." With a shrug, they add, "Why do you have to be jealous of anybody? You're pretty great." The token is glanced at with all due speculation. "I don't know," they admit. "I'm saving up mine for bedding. I sleep on tires right now."


Those who know Phoenix, like Cinder, and Lyra, would know well enough that his Lux largely goes to trying to get out of Sanctuary for one trip or another, and that if someone may occupy one's time for Lux, sometimes it is better to hunt for those one might prefer to spend that time with over leaving it to chance. Having obtained an excuse not to spend time with someone he doesn't want to, Phoenix returns to his seat with the others, settling a little more comfortably. "I didn't think the Savvy believed in the concept of jealousy," he comments, rejoining the conversation.


Kat drifts quietly into the Bazaar, smiling as she pauses just within the arched entryway and closes her eyes, drawing a deep breath into her lungs. There she stands for several long moments, before finally lifting her lashes again and starting forward at a leisurely stroll. As her gaze flits and dances across this stall or that lounge, the impression may be drawn that she's looking for someone, but doesn't seem in any particular hurry to find them. This place is a rather lovely place to spend some time, after all.


Cinder twists one of the braids. "Yeah. I was looking after some of the Solaris kids. The little girls wanted to play with my hair. Aloy showed them how to braid and they kinda went wild. No news yet. Just...feeling good, I guess." Maylis smiles at Lyra. "I do! I'm clearing out high quality items right now. Trying to wrap up the big projects before the little one." She's getting bigger, Maylis. Almost too big to work much. She is getting older and there will be much time for clothing. Once the packages are delivered to the stall, Exo strides out towards the mess. Maylis waves Cinder off. "I have it from here." A young Savvy wanders to the stall and picks up an item. Maylis snaps at her. "That is a commission!" From one Savvy to the next. "Kat!" Maylis calls. "I have your dress, dear!" Cinder stops in his tracks.


"Tyres do _not_ sound comfortable," says KissThisThen "I have a bed made of stuffed straw. It's better. But if they get parasites, we need to put them out to grow tomatoes in. Then it is on the floor. I like sleeping on the straw, or on the leaves. Soft. It smells good. Rich, and thick, and the Green." He puts his hands together, already staring at them, the thin lines of dirt in on the patterns of his skin "It is a figment. A pattern of. Speech." Possibly not. And then he says "...good Savvy do not believe in that concept. I am trying to be good at being Savvy. If I were..." He frowns "I really shouldn't have lux. It should be back in that communal pool. Things like. Things. We're not suppos..." Well. His words trail off, and he lifts his head, swinging it to see if any Monitors are around to see him acting inappropriately. He says to Phoenix "I am. Sorry. I'm just. I am very sorry." And he frowns, then reminds himself "Hello Clinker."


Kitten frowns faintly at KTT. "Are you sure you didn't take anything today? Or is it just one hell of a comedown? I wake up with aches and pains, but sometimes I don't even remember to go home, so it's okay." Their quick eyes dart when they hear Kat's name spoken. Sitting up, they look around until they spot her. Then they wave enthusiastically. "Kat! Kat!"


Lyra smiles sunnily at Maylis. "Excellent. Once I'm done, I'll be back. That way you can decide which would look best on me." She moves off towards one of the stages, taking over for a dancer who has just finished and settles in, quickly unpacking her harp and adjusting the tuning.


Phoenix studies KTT impassively, one brow arched just slightly at his reaction to the question, apparently not having meant all that much by it other than an idle sort of curiosity. He shrugs his shoulders just a bit at the apology, clearly not finding it necessary. "There are stuffed woven mats," he says to Kitten, in regard to bedding, and nodding in the general direction of the far end of the bazaar. He'd seen them on his walk down earlier in the evening.


Kat's attention flows toward the point where she heard her name being called, eyes squinting just slightly as she peers along the row until she spots Maylis. Her smile deepens as she starts heading that way, and naturally, notes the presence of a certain hulking ginger who appears to be frozen near the seamstress. Amusement graces her delicate features, lingering as she hears her name again.. and then again, in quick succession. The frenetic waving makes Kitten easy to find, and she blows them a quick kiss. "I'll come and see you in a minute, sweetling," she coos to her sibling, then closes the remaining distance to Maylis' stall. "You've finished already? I was thinking of asking how it was coming along -- you work your magic quickly."


Maylis is all sweetness and motherly light, as always. "Oh, I have nothing much else to do but work. I don't have a little underneath me yet." She looks at Cinder and smirks. "I went with a dark blue, hides stains fairly well. Sturdy but it flows..." He picks up the dress and the golden threading and embroidery made this dress almost too nice for working in. As is typical of Maylis' work. "Cinder, say hello to Kat."

"Hey, Kat." Cinder's blushing to his ears.


"Down. Just. Awkward." He waves a hand. Aches and pains. Yes. Probably. And then he says to Kitten "If everyone here were a plant, I would be able to be clear. Or a beautiful sort of rhizome. Or a fungus. If everyone here were something like that, a part of the Green." He looks at his hand, then he reaches out and he touches Kitten's shoulder. Cautiously. Perhaps Kitten will explode. They _are_ a War Child. Lyra is now coming up, and KTT turns his head towards the musician. Only the higher pitched tones carry well for him. Phoenix's study seems to be freaking him out, more or less. He frowns, then he finally says "I was hoping to see you dance, because I like the fire. Fire is a..." He looks down at his hands "Fire is a regenerative thing. It breaks down that which is spent. It provides a brilliance. I like it when you dance. You are. Good at it. Better than I ever was. I admit I miss seeing all the practice sessions. And the other. Things in the Gilded Cage. If I wish to return to see it, I must pay." He shows his teeth, still white. The great thing about a lack of sugarcane and corn is good teeth. "I should pay for people to listen to me complain." And then he watches Cinder and Kat together "Oh, he is sweet on her. I understand."


Kitten smiles at Lyra and Phoenix both, and they don't explode when KTT puts a hand on their shoulder. They are thrumming with excitement, though, and they glance over to Kat and Cinder occasionally. "Oh, yeah," they tell KTT with a nod. "He should be. She's the prettiest girl in the world." They look at KTT. "That's my sister, did you know that? We used to live together." Back when they were Savvy and being educated. Back before Kitten's illness. "Wait, you can pay people listen to you complain? I've been listening for free. What's so wrong anyway? We're all fertlizer for the plants, and you're growing shiny and chrome mushrooms. I built an engine this morning where, if you flip a switch, it'll just full-out explode. It's a good day. Oh! I was thinking of inventing a net made of hundreds of barbed hooks that you'd fire out of a gun. What do you think?"


Fortunately for KTT, the lap harp has a lot of high tones. Lyra gives an amused look Cinder's way at his blush, but then settles in to begin playing. For today, she's apparently looking to pull slightly more attention than her usual background music, instead playing something quick and bright that almost calls for dancing. It's cheerful and upbeat and full of sparkling joy and quick runs.


Kat is, perhaps, too distracted by the sheer beauty of Maylis' work to notice Cinder's blush, right off the bat. Her fingertip traces an embroidered flourish on one of the sleeves, so lightly it seems almost a reverent gesture. "This is..." But then, manners. Cinder had greeted her, and her head pops dutifully upward, bringing her gaze in line with his own. "Hell--oh," tumbles from her lips, her head canting as she catches the color that's suffused his skin. It's not common for her to stumble over words. "Are you feeling unwell?" Stepping forward, she stretches a hand up to lay the backs of her fingers lightly against his cheek, as if checking for a fever.


Phoenix's study remains on KTT, regardless of whether it freaks him out, though there's nothing overtly predatory in it, not the way that he looked at that outsider he'd decided to have later. Instead he says, "Come tomorrow night. I'll be dancing then. Or we can discuss a private performance." Then he lets his attention slide away from him, though whether it's because he realizes that he's making him uncomfortable or not is somewhat unclear. Instead, he watches Lyra on the stage for a time, his attention on her fingers as they move across the strings, taking in the way that she plays the instrument.


Cinder is hot, alright. Well...no warmer than his usual temperature of blast furnace. "I'm fine. Good now." His eyes soften. "I didn't know Maylis was making that for you. It'll be beautiful on you." He looks up, seeing others and back to Kat. "Kitten's not wrong, you know?"


"No, I did not know," admits KissThisThen "I was...yes. I didn't...I should know. I suppose I should have paid more attention to things, then. But I did not know that Kat was your. Is your sister." Was. Is. Aware...his attention goes up towards the stage, because he can hear Lyra, or at least the higher notes, the more resonant tones. Anything that you can feel through your feet. He breathes in, and he listens. Then he opens his eyes, startled, and he says "Very shiny mushrooms. The ones that glow. If we can. Extract that. I could make glowing paint." And then he thinks about the net "I think it would be useful for bringing corpses back, for my mushrooms," he decides "Much better than the harpoon I wanted."

As Phoenix continues to study, KissThisthen rubs at one of the growing white patches on his face, and then he says "Oh, good, yes. I would like to watch that." And he does have lux. "And I will pay." A chance to get to pretend he is Fortunate again, is worth it. He smooths a hand over his newly repaired clothing, and he watches Cinder, shaking his head for a moment, and he says to Kitten "Oh. I should say. Skids. Is trustworthy. Do not worry about it. He will behave himself." Realism sets in "As, er, much as he _can_," says KissThisThen "Given the. Given him." He eyes Cinder, and his romancing, and he says "It's like watching you and Xavier," to Kitten.


Kitten smiles radiantly and clasps their hands together. "It's so beautiful," they say. "I'm glad it's Cinder. If anyone ever hurt Kat, I'd beat the teeth out of their head with Piper." They pat the pipe wrench at their side. "But Cinder's nice. He's never hurt anyone." As far as Kitten knows, anyway. They glance at KTT, studying him for a moment. "You should go see Phoenix dance," they say. "Now you know what to spend your Lux on." They pause, then they give KTT a peck on the cheek.


Lyra finishes up that piece and flips a few of the levers along the top of the harp, then starts in on a slightly slower piece in counterpoint with some tricky cross rhythms. The two opposing melodies twine and cross and split apart again, passed back and forth between Lyra's hands as the music flows.


Kat's attention has a tendency to zero in on one particular thing, perhaps two if they're within reasonably close proximity. This seems to be one of those times. Cinder's mention of Kitten brings her sibling back to the forefront of her mind, and -- her hand still in contact with the BFG's (yes, that's Big F*cking Ginger) cheek -- her focus swings over to where they and KTT are apparently discussing romance. As it pertains to her. Blink. And now it's Kat's turn to blush. ""Hush, you two!"" is sort of whisper-yelled to the pair. The sort of vocalization where you want to keep things all super secret, but at the same time, you need the sound to carry.


Eventually the outsider returns from whatever he had wandered off to do, and approaches Phoenix where he sits with the others. Glancing up and away from Lyra's performance, then, he rises from his seat. To KTT, he says, "Come find me tomorrow. We'll talk." Then he gives a nod to the others gathered around, before leading the outsider away, toward one of the private alcoves along the outer edge of the large vaulted bazaar.


Cinder isn't doing anything but staring at Kat. "It's true though." Cinder says after she shushes the peanut gallery. "I'm a little sweet on you." He admits. "I've kept away because...you reminded me of something scary but it doesn't scare me anymore. Or...maybe...the scales are rebalanced now, you know?" He takes her hand in his and kisses it.


"Errr, yes. Beautiful," says KTT at Kitten's delighted violence, and he admits "He has never hurt anyone. I've hired him before." And he nods "I will spend my Lux on seeing Phoenix dance, then." Though possibly being aware that the man does not necessarially enjoy his work makes him look a bit guilty. He pats Kitten's hand, and then he looks at Lyra. Harps, musical instruments - those are outside of his understanding, in all honesty. He just enjoys it, though he nudges the engineer beside him as she flips levers. At the call to 'hush', he does it, startled. And not inclined to over protest. A nod to Phoenix as he then heads off with the outsider, and KissThisThen watches Cinder, and mutters "It's like those exudates plants make to communicate." Nope. No it is not.


Kitten flashes Kat a broad grin and gives her two thumbs up, then they sling an arm around KTT's shoulders. They're helping! In a lower tone, they tell the Reaper, "I thought about the harpoon. Bits could fall off. With the hook net, nothing's falling off, and by the time it gets dragged back to you, it's mostly chewed up. See, I think about things." They tap their temple. "You're on my mind, even when you're not tripping in the Big and Messy." They hum along a little to Lyra's tune, tapping their foot.


Lyra's piece drifts into another suggesting the ripples on the surface of water, and this time she adds her voice, sweet, though not overly strong, lilting over the top. "Down by the Salley Gardens, my love and I did meet. She crossed the Salley Gardens on little snow white feet. She bid me take life easy, as the leaves grow on the tree, but I was young and foolish and with her did not agree." She's looking amused as she watches the audience.


"You've.. kept away?" Kat echoes, casting a perplexed gaze up at Cinder that follows him down as he bends over her hand. The kiss causes her to start ever so slightly, but she allows her hand to linger within his grasp, nevertheless. "I apologize if I evoke distressing memories. I would never inten-- oh, that's lovely." Distraction. It happens now and again, though most often when she's flustered. She's looking toward Lyra now, and for at least a handful of seconds further before she remembers herself and looks back to Cinder again. "If things have rebalanced, does that mean I can expect to treat you regularly again?"


Xavier is wearing their new tirquoise tunic over loose light brown homespun worktrousers, sandles on their feet. Their shoulder length black cirls are thick and lusterous. Their hands are uncovered, except for a bandage on their left. Old burn scars of various ages are visible on their hands and wrists.

They drift towards Lyra, all wide eyed curiousity. Their face is classically handsome nd clearly masculine despite them having no sign of wiskers, nor even a hint that they ever needed to take a rasor to the downy skin of their cheeks and chin. Their skin as little in the way of sun exposure nd weathering. The combined result makes them seem at first glace, younger than they are. They gives Cinder and Kat a bright smile and a wave, clearly pleased to see the two talking, and a quick upnod to Phoenix, whose performance they suspect they missed yet again.

Then they are grinning at Kitten and with a faint blush, kissing their cheek. They nod to KTT, keeping their voice low, and aiming towards the better of their ears, "You okay?" They peer at Lyra again, "She's very good."


Cinder looks up at Lyra. "That is pretty. Lyra is very talented. You'd think we were matched to make an Artisan. Except we made a Savvy. I think. One who braids hair." He twirls one of those ribboned locks and then gives her hand a squeeze. "I think I will visit again, yes. I'm a little less nervous about illness. Which just means I can make more social visits instead." Beat. "Inbetween the ill ones." He smiles, a little bashful. Xavier doesn't go unnoticed. He chuckles and nods to them. "You have Ecks to thank for my...rebalanced scales."


KTT startles, but relaxes. The skin of his shoulders is ridged, tightly, as more of the scars blend outwards. The Tree is going to gradually take over his flesh in patterns, life rather than cancer. He listens to Kitten, head down, thoughtful, and then he lifts it and he says to them "I am? Thankyou. I owe you for what you have done for me. I mean, for hittin' SKIDMARXXX enough to make him stop being ... disruptive." Literal knocking sense into people. He stretches out the multicoloured hand, and then he pats their odd dress "You're right. About the harpoon," he says "You sound Savvy." He pulls back, to give Xavier space to sit "Hello, Ransom." And then he says "I am...I am good. I've hired a Fortunate for tomorrow night. I've decided I should dilute the drug - and High Sign here told me it too, and they have expertise. And I am trying to think of a name for Clinker's Cat." He nods towards Kat, and then he says "I'm not ill!" quickly to Cinder.


Kitten smiles at KTT. "Sometimes, I feel Savvy," they tell him. Then they tilt their head to Xavier's cheek kiss, and they slip their arm out from around KTT's shoulders so they can clap their hands. Then they wolfwhistle at Kat and Cinder. "Yay! Shiny and chrome! You two are beautiful!" They pat the spot beside them for Xavier. "We're cheering KTT up," they tell them. Oh is that what they're doing?


Xavier ducks their head, "Sometimes a little talk and a little... um, extra help can make all the difference." They smile at Kitten withobvious pride as they tell KTT, "They could have been. The work Kitten does takes a mix of intelligence and creativity that leaves me in awe... you breaking heads again, Sparkles?" They cock their head, "Let me know if you need a test subject. That looked really fun.... What colours are this cat?" They settle by Kitten and slide an arm around Kitten's waist.


Kat's lips warm with a genuine smile as she waves in return to Xavier, though something Cinder says ensnares her attention and quickly pulls her gaze back to him. Her expression turns vaguely speculative as she studies the man, analyzing everything from his body language to the thrum of his pulse felt faintly where her fingertips rest. Whatever conclusion she reaches has her smile growing again. "You do seem.. steady. Like you were when we..." Yeah, nope, she doesn't have a chance to finish that thought. Kitten is the recipient of a wide-eyed Look. Capital L. Ruh roh.


"In a field down by the river, my love and I did stand. And on my leaning shoulder, she placed her snow white hand. She bid me take love easy, as the grass grows on the weirs, but I was young and foolish and now am full of tears." Lyra's song draws to a close and she lets the echo hang in the air for a few seconds while she seems to consider, though she does flash Cinder a laughing smile at his compliment and comment on their daughter.

After a few moments she starts in on a new song, again, swinging back to more bright and cheerful. Well, kind of. "There was a jolly miller once, lived on the river Dee. He danced and sang from morn ;til night, no lark so blithe as he. And this the burden of his song forever used to be 'I care for nobody, no not I, if nobody cares for me.'"


Maylis has setup and wrapped Kat's dress in paper. It's recycled paper, though. Paper covered in Cinder's random sketches, doodles and other bits of what is probably practice for him. But one stands out so starkly that Maylis had to have planned it. It's a silhouette of a woman standing tall. She's nude as well, from the curves of the shadows, as they stand in an nondescript arch. It's just a simple, quick bit of artwork that Maylis has slapped right there on the table for Kat and anyone else to see.

Meanwhile, Cinder snickers at the commentators. His turn to be distracted as he walks over to the group, face creased with concern. "What's wrong with Kay?" He didn't notice the package.


Another faintly startled look. KTT either looks somber, focused, or startled most of the time. Smiles, if they appear ever, are very, very seldom. Not that he appears to generally be depressed! Perhaps just quiet "You are so excited," he say to Kitten, fascinated, and he says "Breaking heads? Oh. You mean the drug? I'm not sure it is a very good idea. Usually we are most interested in drugs that, mmm. Drugs that can be used to stop pain, or help a birthing woman, or similar sorts of things. I'm not sure about a drug that makes you out of it and inclined to vomit. Perhaps if someone has ingested a poison..." He is rambling now, and he says "Clinker's cat." A nod to the woman down there. The song is blurred words to him, compared to the precision of the instrument, and he can only catch a word here and there. He stands up as Maylis puts a piece of paper down, curious, but even though the render is good, it is - poor Maylis - not a mushroom. He explains to Cinder "I am fine. I found a description of how to make a type of mushroom edible. It didn't make it very edible. It made me hallucinate." He pauses, then he says "Why does he put the lux back?"


Kitten beams at Kat. They can't help it. They're not trying to be a pest. Then again, maybe it is written into the DNA of every younger sibling to ruin all of life's little moments. "You look very nice today, Kat," Kitten says. "Do you know Xavier? They've been keeping me company. Kissy here has been really nice to me, too." It's almost as though they're trying to reassure Kat. See how well they're doing? No need to worry!


Xavier gives Kat and Cinder another encouraging smile, pleased things are going so well. They peer at Lyra, fascinated, then sigh, "I wonder what it would be like, living by an old timey river...." They glance at the package, then away quick, the wrapping being obviously personal. They giggle, "I am very glad you were able to find your feet, Kisses." They blush at the introduction, lowering their eyes, "We do know each other, yes. I've... recently taken an interest in the welfare of war Kids."


Kat, unlike Cinder, not only noticed the drawings on the package, but is fixated on them. Well, on one of them in specific. Her eyes narrow as she leans down to inspect it more closely, and she still wears that slightly squinty, puzzled look when she tips her head back up and peers at Maylis. Then, straightening fully, she gathers the package up into her left arm while the right fishes out the remaining lux owed to the seamstress. A distracted, half-mumbled, "I'm glad, sweetling," in Kitten's general direction before turning and making her way to the exit.


Lyra finishes up her song about the Jolly Miller. "When Spring begins its merry career, oh how his heart grows gay. No summer daught alarms his fears, not Winter's sad decay. No foresight mars the Miller's joy who's wont to sing and say 'Let others toil from year to year; I live from day to day'". She gives just a moment after that before apparently deciding it's time for an instrumental again, though this one slightly more martial in one - Brian Boru's march, starting with the simplest variations and then getting increasingly more complex.


"He? Me? Return the Lux?" Cinder looks around, for Monitors most likely. He leans in so he doesn't have to raise his voice, which he does naturally when KTT is around. "No one should pay to spend time with loved ones. Especially Savvy spending from the pool." He stands up straight. "I have a drawing for you." He always has his bag in the Baazar. The one hanging cross his body to land on his hip or behind. He carries his sketchbook in there. But only a folded square appears. It's a little charcoal sketch of a....mushroom. He looks back as Kat starts to exit. He's lost. Maylis shrugs. He looks back to the gathered group. "I better...pardon me. Thank you, Ecks. Again." And off he scampers behind Kat.


"Go get her," Kitten says to Cinder as he pursues their sister. Then they sigh happily. "I got to see Kat today," they tell Xavier, as if Xavier wasn't there to just witness it. "She's the prettiest girl in the world." They take Xavier's hand in their own. "I like spending time up here," they say. With a nod toward Lyra, they say, "I like the music. I like that song in particular. You could play that beat on the war drums."


Xavier glances between Kat and Cinder, confused, having misread something somewhere they are pretty sure they missed something. Once they are out of sight, X asks Kitten, "I thought your sister liked him?" They lean forward to see the mushroom, "What kind is it?" They lift Kitten's hand to their lips, "I like her too. I'm glad you got to see her." They agree whole heartedly, "That music makes me want to... I don't know DO something."


Lyra finishes off by returning to a slightly slower version of the original statement of the melody, then leaves the last note ringing in the air until the note fades. She gives everyone a bright smile. "That's the end of my set, but I'll be back in a little bit to do another one. Do let me know if anyone has any requests for the next set." And she stands, taking her harp and the padded cover for it with her as she comes down to find a place in one of the conversation areas to rest her fingers for a while.


KissThisThen has taken the picture of a mushroom, and is staring at it, and he takes a breath, and he mumbles. Time with loved ones. The music - alas - is now forgotten. Instead, he says "I think men are more confusing than women."


Kitten claps for Lyra. "Thank you for playing," they say. "It's nice to come here and listen to the music. Most of the music we do is, uh, it's loud." They bob their head in a nod. Everything in the Garage is loud. Looking at KTT, they say, "How do you figure? I think everyone is confusing, but I think that's more me than it is people."


Xavier lets go of Kitten's hand, the better to clap wildly. "You're really good!" They glance at Kitten and back to Lyra, "Do you have any with, um, an inventor maybe? Or forbidden love?" They cock their head, "how so? Also, how do you apply that to me and Kitten?


Lyra laughs as she comes and sits near the trio. "I'm... not sure about inventors, but forbidden love is often a theme. Or at least unrequited love." She considers. "There are a lot of songs which more or less have the plot of 'I trusted this guy and fell in love with him and then he got bored and dumped me for someone else and now I am sad.' A LOT. Sometimes in metaphors. Sometimes just stated. Sometimes they start as metaphors and then get less and less metaphorical about it as the song goes on. There's one which is all about a garden. Sort of. Apparently the acients would wear willow around their hats when someone broke up with them. I'm not entirely sure."


"It would be embarassing to say," says KissThisThen "And unless I focus. Very carefully. I think I will accidentally say it anyway." He frowns, and he clamps his mouth shut, and then he looks between Xavier and Kitten, and he says "...I don't. I mean. That is. Willow is a useful plant, but trees are very hard for us to grow under the current circumstances." He gives a faint smile. And then he says "Neither Cinder nor Phoenix, nor...others are not of the Green, and I'm not really. Sure what I am thinking. Also. Skidmarxxx is a complication." It has not answered Xavier's question at all, so nothing new from him there, and then he says "Hello, Lyrebird."


Kitten says, "I heard a song the other day that went..." And here, they pick up their pipe wrench to play like an air guitar and go "reener reener reeeeee" to mimic the sound of an electric guitar. In their defense, they do manage to make a tune out of it, though the guitar must have been screeching toward the end. When Kitten finally stops, they say, "I think it was about the impermanence of being."


Xavier contemplates that. "I meant more... lovers who are from different castes who meet in spite of disaproval.... What's a willow look like, I wonder? The garden one sounds interesting though.... Kisses, it's okay. we like you just the way you are. How is Skidmarxxx complicated? Also, what sort of mushroom is in your picture?" They watch Kitten fascinated, and after a long pause, they comment, "That wouldmake sense.


Lyra nods slowly. "Well, there's Anachee Gordon. Though... most of the forbidden love songs end with one or both of the lovers in question dying." She thinks some more. "Oh! I could... possibly do 'I Have a Song to Sing, O!' But it's more properly a duet, so not this performance. I'll see if I can find someone to learn the second part, though. It has a happy ending. I'm not really sure what willows look like. They're often described as 'weeping', though, and from other songs, I think they grew by rivers, so I don't imagine they would be easy for us to grow. The likely need a lot of water." She gives Kitten a bright smile. "That does sound amazing. There are lots of styles of music and they're each useful for expressing different things. My harp would be lost in the garage."


That, oddly, gets a smile - a brief one - from KissThisThen. The comment about the impermanence of being. He inclines his head, looking at his mottled, coloured hands, and then he says "Imagine if one were a permanent being. Music. Perhaps you should be Fort...musical. I mean. You are musical. I was never very good at music." He does say "A willow is a medium sized tree with long branches that gradually bend down. The leaves are small and oval. They need a lot of water. You...don't need to be paid to perform? No, of course not. Only if it's a specific one in private..." He purses his lips, and then he says "I don't know how I feel about Skidmarxxx. I feel odd."


Kitten beams at Lyra, nodding quickly, their pigtails bobbing. "Yes! Lots of different styles. It would be too loud to play here, but we play on the road." Not so much to entertain as to terrorize, though it's not clear if Kitten really knows that distinction right now. "People come here to remember, I think. To remember stuff that never happened to them, but it did happen to someone." They look at KTT, searching his face. "Do you like him?" they ask, and they nestle closer to Xavier, setting Piper aside to take their hand again.


Xavier kisses Kitten's cheek, "How are you this smart and talanted while looking so pretty?" They sigh, "So many of the songs have rivers in them. It's hard to picture so much water. Imagine being that rich? I mean, we're pretty water fat here, but not water going willy nilly water fat." They cock their heead, "I'm not sure anything CAN be permanent. Better to enjoy the now.... I sounds like willows are too water intensive for us."They tmull a momment, "Maybe if you explain your confusion, it will help, Kisses?" They shiver, "I don't like to think about Outside. It sounds really scary." They curl botharms around Kitten as if to keep them safe from Road warrior and Monsters and thirst.


Lyra nods. "So many songs about water. There's one song called 'the water is wide' that makes it sound like there was so much water, you couldn't cross it easily. It was a whole different world. And there are these things called 'sea shanties' which are all about being in somethig like war rigs, except that went on water, but it was apparently water with too much salt in it to drink." She considers. "Also lots of songs about birds. All different kinds of birds. Some of them laughed."


"Erm. Well. He's a friend," says KissThisThen, more firmly, on that "However, Savvy are supposed to share absolutely everything. And I try to, though there are...remnants of who I was. It's all easier when it's just plants. But he gets lonely, and he would prefer to sleep with someone, so...except he did beat the tar out of me until High Sign stopped him..." The conversation is split, and perhaps singing is better "Except he...you know, the fact is I do wish he'd bathe." And when a Reaper, who uses fertiliser, says that? Yes. He lets his breath out "I've been Outside. I do know that there was more water. I have access to old maps. And yes, oceans with salt."


"Do you want me to hit him til he bathes?" Kitten offers. "I save my water rations to get a splash every couple days, but it's hard. Especially when we just get dirty again, but that's no excuse not to clean up. Especially if he's supposed to be romancing you." They look at Xavier, then at KTT. "I kind of want to romance you too, but I don't know how. I would start by washing my junk, though. That's just courtesy. Isn't that so, X, baby?" They shake their head. "Laughing birds. That's nuts."


Xavier shakes their head, "It can't have been that much, can it? If there had been that much? Where is it now? War rigs crossing poison water..." They try to picture it." They give Kitten a guilty look, "It's not... comfortable down in the holes. sometimes it's nice to have a soft matress, but there CAN'T be violence in savvy areas. Too much is important and fragile and irreplaceable." They run the thumb of their bandaged hand along Kitten's jaw line at the mention of water, but they say nothing until the bit about Kitten's junk. They blush to their ears and look down, "I want to romance you too, Kitten. I... I think you are doing a fine job so far, but I don't... know how to please you in that way. I don't have... My thingsare really everyone's things."


Lyra smiles a little. "Well, there are also some songs about big areas without much water. Maybe we're just in one of those and can't reasonably get far enough to get to where the water is. Or maybe... something happened. It really does sound like something bad happened and it made a lot of the water go away or turn bad."


"Oh, yes, but not in the face, his face is messed up enough as it - _what_? _Romance_?" No, hang on. Somewhere, wires are crossed. KissThisThen looks more or less mortified by a lot of things. He finally leans back and he looks up and he says to the ceiling "He felt bad after the fight you interrupted. He wanted to make it up. He's weird. But he protects me sometimes. He's also...he spends _all his lux on sex_ here in the bazaar. All of it. But he's a friend, too. He's just not a 'let us settle down and design large scale permaculture systems forever' friend. This is more of a...lots of attention is sometimes nice and people are confusing, so I like them to tell me what they want. Friend." He then says "Wait, laughing birds - yes, there was that much water. We're in the middle of a very big country. And our things are -" Hang on. Come on. Kitten said something. Important "-everyone's things," he nods to Xavier "I think that is right, Lyrebird. We are in the middle of a big desert. I think there were trees. We find -" Didn't Kitten say something - "Also. I feel that Gas Town. Is polluting the subwater," he adds, low-voiced "Something about it -" Kitten -" "Wait, what?" he says suddenly to Kitten "Was that to me? Oh!" He adds "Or Xavier? Well. Romance should start with the way plants do it." But he looks brighter. Either he thinks this is about him, or he is just glad Xavier is there too "How should romance start Fortunate?"


"So if you kept driving, you'd hit this water?" Kitten says. "How long, do you think? A day? Two? Is there enough guzzleen to reach big water?" For a moment, they look speculative. Mmm, driving to the big poison water. Then they look to KTT, and they just watch him go. At one point they look at Lyra, then Xavier, then back to KTT. When KTT finally catches up and asks, Kitten says with a shrug, "I mean, both of you. Do plants wash their junk? Because that part's important. Isn't it?" That last is to Lyra. She's the resident Fortunate after all.


Xavier nods, "Something definately went wrong with the world. I'd be interested in a no water place song sonetime, maybe." They try to follow KTT's thoughts, "I like being a 'large scale permaculture' type friend too. still, real friends don't hit each other unless the other friend asks them too.... How do lans, um, romance?" They say gently, "I think clean junk is important in humans at least."


Lyra looks a little put on the spot. "I... think if you wish to romance someone, most important is finding out what they care about or enjoy and spending time with them doing something the enjoy or giving them something they will like, particularly if it isn't something they would get for themselves." She considers for a moment. "That said, most people do seem to appreciate a reasonable level of cleanliness on the part of their partners. Or at least the attempt at it."


"Eventually, yes, but it may be poisoned. Also apparently there were _very big_ animals living in it - armoured, with giant teeth. Whales." says Kiss This Then "And. Algae. Long forests of edible algae, tonnes of it - you could eat it and it would be fine. There are no fungi in the oceans, as far as I know. But there are fungi even in the poisoned lakes here." And then he says to Kitten "The important part is. Linking with the other parts of your species - through colour, or using mushrooms, or growing a certain way - or using an intermediary. The important part is life, pulsing, sap, making it come together, in completeness, and not having to be who you aren't." He pauses "Washing your genitals is generally a good idea, which is...something Skidmarxxx is terrible at, but I am sure Patron Eden is going to have words with him. We used to fight, now we don't, now he's guilty, he's still rough around the edges, I think he just wants _me_ to feel needed?" A frown, and he says to Lyra "Yes, that is what I said, I think. It's hard to clean though." And his voice lowers further "Which is why I swim in the fish tanks." Cough cough. Then he says to Lyra, subvocalising "I like too many people. I like women and men. I like people who want to be near me. Sometimes I feel I should be a mushroom." He now reaches out and he pats Kitten and he tells them "You are _very_ shiny. And chrome. It's hard and confusing because Savvy share everything, but also we don't want to harm one another. Like. If. Xavier, erm. Xavier deserves something. As bright as you."


Kitten nods solemnly to Lyra. "Give them something they'd like, and wash up," they say, trying to absorb these intricate concepts. To Xavier, they say, "I tried to do that with the music box. It sounded nice, and I thought you would like it." They then say to KTT, "Xavier has me." They look at Xavier. "If I romanced Kissy, would you be unhappy? I wouldn't stop romancing you. I'd never stop that."


Xavier nods, "Those are good suggestions, I think." They gently squeeze Kitten and murmur something in their ear. Then they blush again. Then they sigh, "I'd like to see a see war rig animal... I wonder if they were big as turtles?" Then they gives KTT a soft smile, "I think you deserve to be loved properly and gently." They eye KTT over the fish tanks, but let that hang. "I... don't like people generally that way. I don't think gentals come into it that much. It's more... the person has to be really special, maybe." They blink, eyes flicking confusedly between Kitten and KTT, "Kitten is shiniest and chromist. If you... um wanted to? I... I wouldn't mind. Um... Kitten belongs to Kitten, I mean." They bury their face in Kitten's neck, "If you kiss them right now, it's okay. I just wish my gift was as good as your box."


Lyra starts to laugh and then just smiles. "There are many people who like both men and women, and plenty who like more than one person at a time. I think you only like too many people if you end up neglecting some of the people you like. But some people do want to be the only person someone likes. Or at least have the illusion that they are the only person someone likes."


KissThisThen says "They were bigger than an actual war rig. They could have swallowed you all up. They had long thin white teeth that could even slice the teeniest animals up." He has seen records of baleen, but has no idea what it actually is "They were bright blue, and they could swim across the entire world." Then he says to Lyra "What do _you_ like? I mean. I...only served as a Companion for a year before I left. I thought we were...that we should be people who did not care about details. So I did that. But the War Children were different - they did what they _wanted_. And as a Reaper, so many plants are...just so different from us." He shakes his head "What do -you- like?" he asks Lyra. And then he finally lifts his hands up and he says "I don't know who is shiniest, really. That's up to the War Kids. I find it hard to pull all these ways of being apart. It's hard to work out who you are sometimes. Which is why the Green offers relief. And solace." He then says to Xavier "You don't? That's a thing too." And he hesitantly puts an arm around Kitten's shoulders. Explode?


Kitten fails to detonate on contact! They're response to Xavier's murmur is a wicked smile and a simple, "Sure, babe." They wink in a way that's not remotely pure. "You say the nicest things. I'm just me. But I am a pretty good mechanic." No time in a half-life for false modesty. They grin at KTT. They give Xavier a kiss, lingering and rather sweet. Then they give KTT a smooch on the cheek. "I'll kiss you too if you want," they offer to Lyra. I'm not really sure what to do with a girl, but I'd figure it out."


Xavier gives Lyra a thoughtfullook and they gazes at Kiten as if they really are the chromest, "I want Kitten to be happy more than nearly anything except the sanctuary safe and a green world." They cock their head, trying to picture whalees, "It's good they were brightly colored so people would know to drive away fast before they were eaten." They blush to their ears, head lowered demurely, but watch the goings on with interest they can't quite disguise. They tilt up into the kiss and sirt of lean into it, as if longing for more contact. They blush again at the cheek kiss and Kitten's offer to Lyra.


Lyra hmmms. "There is a difference between what we like in our own time and what we do as our job. When someone pays us or a monitor claims time with us, it is our purpose to make them feel what they need to feel - to take care of their needs, not our own. So, it's a complicated question, really. For my part... I like kindness. I also actually enjoy making people feel better. I like calming people down." She considers. "In terms of presents that would show someone was thinking of me - books of music or about how to make or repair musical instruments. Probably other things I haven't thought of." Then she blinks at Kitten and laughs a little. "If you'd like, but you don't need to kiss me for my sake. Thank you for the offer, though."


KissThisThen has a weird series of chemicals on him - but then again, amongst War Boys and people like Xavier, who could notice? He inclines his head to accept the kiss, shy. Where Kitten kisses is mottled white and dark, though there is no difference in feeling - the skin is distinctly oddly coloured, but apparently the error does not erupt at the surface. And then he says "...I thought you were female," to Kitten "I mean. I don't know why." After all, he wears a skirt himself - the leather skirts are very useful for Reapers "Er, my apologies if I was incorrect." As Lyra speaks, he does listen, carefully, and he says "I _see_. Yes. That makes sense. I was young, and I really didn't think in great detail. It was nice to be wanted. I know others chafe at the bit." He does. He knows they hate it. And then he says to Xavier, a little dryly "The Green teaches we can want things for ourselves as well. You know, the ancient world had very wide roads. Maybe it was because of the whales." He adds "Or trees. There were, ah, walking onions - those are described. I have no idea how they walked." He adds "Music. Hmm." A nod "Thankyou for telling me." And he holds onto Kitten, less demonstrative. Also maybe not wanting to have to stab Xavier.


Kitten hugs KTT. "I think your skin is pretty," they tell him. They then shrug and add, "Sometimes I'm a girl. Sometimes I'm not." They give him another kiss, a smeck on the lips. Then Rebar makes his way through the crowd. "Kitten! You told me to get you if that engine caught fire." Kitten sighs quietly, and they let their arms slip from KTT, though they then give Xavier a hug and a kiss. "Maybe sometime soon," they tell Lyra. "But I have to go." Rebar is watching Kitten amidst the Savvy and Fortunate, doling out smooches, and he says, "That is, if you're not too fancy to fix engines now." Kitten grabs their pipe wrench and gets to their feet. "Fancy enough to take another one of your teeth." Rebar eyes the wrench. "Let's just go before it smokes us out."


Xavier looks really baffled, "Walking onions?" Whale roads are so much easier to picture. Still they peer around at KTT on Kitten's other side and give him a shy smile, entirely unaware of the potential for stabbing. Then they giggle, "See Kisses? It's not just me. Sparkles thinks your skin is pretty too." They shiver a little against Kitten as they kiss KTT. They kiss Kitten goodbye rather harder than is polie. They blush again at the talk of engines, fire and teeth, and watch Kiten go with undisgused admiration.


Lyra nods graciously to Kitten. "Of course. You have work to do, do not let me keep you from it." She considers. "Walking plants sounds fantastical. I wonder what made them stop." Then she frowns a little. "I have songs which call whales fish, though. And say that they killed them with harpoons, though sometimes the whales killed the people who were hunting them as well. Apparently they could knock over the boats, the war rigs which went on the salt water, with their tails, but it didn't sound like they could leave the water."


KissThisThen says "...ah. Yes? Because I secretly also really like it." Even if it is 'diseased'. He clears his throat "I like -" And hten Rebar is arriving, and he coughs, though there is a faint edge of him that actually seems amused "Walking onions," he says, and he pauses "You like. Well. Maybe it's not so bad." Though by this point he is no longer really suited to be Fortunate "You like h...hi...her a lot. She saved my life. You saved my life." He sighs "My life was a mess." And then he says to Xavier "Well, I suppose sharing is not so bad." He eyes Lyra, and he says after a moment "Maybe it's the lack of water?" He touches his mouth, and he says "Well, hmm. I am confused. I only know what I have read. I thought the whales were on the roads. But also in the water. I have seen ancient pictures of them, armoured."


Cinder strides back into the Baazar and heads right for Maylis. "You are lucky that went well." He says, eyes narrowed. "So, you can quit interfering, okay?" Maylis nods politely, only to roll her eyes as Cinder heads towards the group. Now, he looks pretty damn delighted. He sidles up next to Xavier and nudges them, affectionately. "Secretly like it?" Cinder asks KTT. "You should love it openly. It's no more diseased than I am after an hour in the sun without a shirt. And I thought whales were a name for people who gambled a lot." He shrugs.


Xavier thinks some more, still gazing in the directopn kitten went, "Maybe they walked from patch of wet earth to patch of wet earth, but one day they couldn't find anywhere to rest and so walked until they shrivelled and died....How could anything so big live just in water? Surely the whales would need to walk across land after they ate everything where they were?" They turn to KTT then, eyes serious, "I think I mindedbeing different because it made me... less in a lot of ways in the eyes of others. I don't mind Kitten looking at me because they don't... treat me like something's wrong with me. Mybe your skin is like that. I... don't like that my good traits wold be lost, but I'm not sure... I've listened to Cinder talk about his daughter and I've seen the fuss over bbies full of bellies and... I don't mind my students? But I'm not sure I'd have been a good parent even if I had tadpoles." They meet KTT's eyes, "I realy like you. I like the thought of... you being happy and Kitten being happy. I'd be sad if... if kitten stopped wanting to be with me, but you and Kitten... wouldn't have to mean that."

When Cinder arrivesand starts talking to Maylis, they look worried and confused, but they smile brightly at the nudge and Cinder's mood. "I'm glad things went well."


Lyra gives Cinder an amused look. "Oh, I see that you playing matchmaker is perfectly fine, but someone else giving you a nudge is interfering. I shall keep that in mind." Then she sighs and shakes her head. "There are so many things we've forgotten or don't know anymore. There are contradictions between books and it's hard to tell what's real sometimes." She considers Xavier. "Some are just parents, not truly breeders. They have to be pure, of course, but they give their seed or birth their child and then turn them over to the proper Breeders to raise those children. There is no shame in letting others do work to which you are unsuited. Especially when something as important as children is at stakes."


"Are they? Perhaps I have my interpretation incorrect," says KissThisThen, frowning lightly, and he rubs where Kitten kissed him "I. Should not like my patterning. It is different from yours. And it might be why my joints hurt." He looks at Cinder "I like your skin," he says to him "It's the same colour, but it's the colour that it should be," he says, and he clears his throat "You are very kind. So you are in love with High Sign's sister?" Gossip is the eternal currency of a closed in world. He interlaces his fingers, and he says to Xavier "That could be how it worked. I don't really know all of the details. I have what books I can manage to acquire."

Now the Savvy interlaces his fingers, and he sasy "We are all different. Yes, you are more so than others." A shrug "This is our world. It is not a problem. From the point of view of plants, you are not even remotely odd. I am happy. Don't I generally look happy?" He says "I thought the Patrons were supposed to make matches. Still, I can understand the desire to interfere." He clears his throat "I was to be a Breeder." A long gap. And he says "But now I breed trees."


Cinder looks back at Maylis and then to Lyra before saying, "If I didn't have my parents and tribe, I doubt I would be any good with kids. I hate my little brother. I'm not totally sure but I think I always did. I remember wanting to leave him in the sun, uncovered, while our mother napped. He'd roast and I could sleep beside Mama again." Cinder shoots a glare at Lyra and then, Maylis, who is now laughing. "There is a difference in pressure! Light touch versus a soft touch. Maylis has the subtlety of Kitten's wrench."

"Matchmaking is, uh...a new thing? Well, love matching is. I have no idea who decides who breeds with who." Cinder crosses his arms, shifting his weight. "I think we end up where we belong in the end. It's either the wisdom of the Trinity and those who serve or...fate." He snorts. "Purely Breeding is overrated...for males, Maylis. I can feel your eyes." She is giving him eyes. "I mean...I liked being in the nursery but not much else." He pauses, thinking. "Am I in love? I...I don't know. I've never been in love. It's a not of new feelings. Newer than I thought. She makes me feel different than any way I've ever felt. We are going to take it slow. Like the ones before. See what happens."


Xavier checks Cinder's expression to make sure he isn't distressed by the matchmaking the Chemist doesn't really understand. "Raising children is important and difficult. I just... not many people could do want I do, and I really couldn't have done bothwithout the one job hurting the other." Theyskin pretty. study KTT, "I'm sorry your joints hurt and that you would have liked to be a sire but were prevented, but I think I will always find your patterns pretty."

They shrink back a little from Cinder at his confession, "I... don't feel that way about my siblings, but in retrospect it's kind of amazng Faustina was never temprted. I was aweful, you know, but she was always so good and patient."

They giggle, "I like Kitten's wrench." More seriously, "I think it's like being warm all over from the inside everything feels like... something is about to happen? And you ren't surewhat? But it's going to oprobably be really good? And like... being all floaty and really high? Maybe? Not that I know what beig high is like." They look transparently shifty. "And sometimes it's like your bones are melting but in a good way, like rendering bacon fat to use for cooking."

Lyra snorts softly. "Yes and no. He is not a patron, yet. And some do, some don't. They do decide on matches for breeding purposes, but that is different." Still she smiles and stands up, leaning over to pat Cinder's cheek. "Announcing things to the entire bazaar isn't terribly subtle either, dear heart. Though I am glad that you are happy." Then she heads towards Maylis' table. "Did you have some blouses you wanted to show me? I just realized I should come over and look at what you have while I'm still between sets."


"I wanted to teach children." The comment is blunt, but quiet. The piebald Savvy picks at his own newly repaired (!) clothing, the mushroom drawing in his pocket "Ah. Hmm. Well. I don't know about that kind of thing. I just like talking to children, or did. And now, well. I just. I can't hear everything properly any more, and it's over." He licks his teeth, and he says "We need to. We should be doing what we do for the group." His shoulders shrink, and he says "I like the fungus you drew. What species is it?" And he says "You're very nice, I am sure it will be a good match. She's Kitten's sister..." He tries to put a few things together, and he decides "I should not hire you. That would be awkward. High Sign, and your Kitten...oh, no. That would. Be awkward. Which is annoying, because I like him, he listens. Maybe I'm doing all of this. Hiring incorrectly? I know this isn't what SKIDMARXXX does."

He now is muttering to himself, on and off, and he then says to Xavier "Yes. But they're because I got a few dislocated. Never mind. All floaty and high. Of course you do. We all know what being high is like." He shakes his head faintly , in amusement, and he says "I have heard Maylis' clothing is. Good?" Uh oh. He is trying to make conversation.


"Hrm. Bacon fat." Cinder nods a little. "Maybe. I want to hold her close and just be there. I want to protect her. I want to be between her and the world. T-That might come from how we connected though." He watches Lyra and pouts a little. "I was excited and nervous. It's my first one! And it worked!" He looks to KTT. "I'm thinking our Aloy will wind up among the Savvy. You'll have a little Greenthumb. I make nice kids. We do." He gestures to Lyra and Maylis. "I see Porter came by, Kay. You look better. You'll feel better soon. I've been helping with the little ones from Solaris." As evidenced by his randomly placed and sized braids in his hair. "You can come up and visit with them. They need a lot of love right now. I know how...how they feel, sadly." He swallows and sighs

As Maylis stands up to show her blouses, Cinder turns and his body tenses. A female Monitor named Magna is walking towards him, with purpose. "Damn it." He looks between Xavier and KTT. "Duty calls." His posture changes, his eyes lid, lips purse. His best come hither look. It's a good one for a total lie.


Xavier reaches over to touch KTT's wrist with a single fnger tip, "you still might you know. If you live long enough. They'll have o speek up i you become a Proffessor is all." They say firmly, "What Kitten choses to do with their body is Kitten's choice, and I... particularly wouldn't mind if Kitten, um, did things with you. If Kitten wanted to." They guesture to their tunic, "Maylis made this. I said i liked colours so she made it for me. I really like it."

They nod, the light of the fanatic in their eyes, "That's how I feel about Kitten. I want to protect them and make sure they... that eerything is really good for them for as long as they have. Is it weird I also like the idea of Kitten... um, protecting me? Like with their wrench?" Their eyes go wide at they see Cinder's reaction to Magna and then they suge to their feet and squeak loudly and a bit transparantly, "But I thought we had a... Weren't we going to?" They straighten and lift their chin and squeak, "My turn?" There eyes dart between Cinder and Magna.


Lyra's glance goes towards Magna and her expression flickers towards a sort of neutral, pleasant look, almost entirely bland, but equally unobjectionable, studiously so. Still, she turns deliberately back towards the table, "Do you think this dark red or the green with my coloring? Or is there another you would suggest?" Then her glance travels to Xavier. "Yes, didn't I hear you making arrangements earlier?" After a moment she notes a little more loudly to KTT, "Companions are purchased for whatever you need them to be for, provided you do no real damage to them. And don't create children without patron approval. How you use the time you have purchased is up to you and what you want to do with that time. You can not be incorrect if you enjoy the time you have paid for."


KissThisThen looks a little wistful. He apparently would rather like to have children "Okay. Protect Aloy," he decides, and he puts his hands together "I also. Think you are very nice, Clinker," he says, with a quiet smile "But I think I had better not be too. Ambitious with things. Especially since it has been some time since I have taken appropriate levels of security around my mycelium. After all, you know what that means." It means NOTHING AT ALL. And then he says "You're very nice. I like the. I just. And. Thankyou, Clinker." As he eyes the Monitor, he hesitantly starts to rise, as if he intends to interfere.

He then looks at Xavier, and he says "Oh. Well, I'll keep that in mind. I have ideas for doing things." He reaches out to examine the tunic "I don't really understand clothing. The point of it. I've _never_ understood it. I like functional." He says "She would definitely protect you - whoa!" Because Xavier is suddenly interfering in a _much_ more sensible way. His mouth opens in amazement, and then he manages "...I wouldn't. Hurt anyone! I mean. I just. I just want them to keep a secret about the thing that I ask them to d...do -"


"Y-Yeah. YES." Cinder looks to Xavier with wide, grateful eyes. "It's delaying the inevitable but I will take a little delay. Especially when my heart is so light." He says, quietly before Magna saunters up. She reaches for him and he cooly dodges. "Mags, you are too late. The Professor has already paid and I need to reserve their bath." Magna glances at Xavier briefly. She is a tall, severe woman. All angles and a slight limp. She leans is close to Cinder. He still stands over a hand taller but he seems to wither. "Next time. I like the ribbons." She flicks one of the plaits in his hair and stalks away.

Maylis is pleasantly smiling at Lyra. "Dark red, love. Red, for sure. He won't wear red so someone has to take it off my hands." Her eyes are on Magna and as soon as she is out of earshot, she stops holding her breath. Meanwhile, Cinder hugs Xavier suddenly but recalls that this may be a problem quickly. "Sorry! Good thinking. I mean, she knows better but..." He just sighs with relief. "Kay, uh...the mushroom. It's one of yours. Up...up." He laughs. "I think it was blue? I was drawing from memory for most of it. I should go. At least pretend to be busy."


Xavier flashes Lyra a quick look of thanks as she backs the up. The slender chemist squares their shoulders a little more and says in a more normal tone, "And then I think you were going to spend time with Kisses. When we, uh, finish." They blink, "It keeps the sun off my skin when it is light out and it keeps.. what I want private private. Also, the coous can be pretty. Like flowers." They nod nd smile encourgingly. "We could talk about that. Us and Cinder here. With our time. Which we are. Uh. Buying." They smile way too big and too tensely, eyes a little wild.

Once Magna is gone, they relax their shoulders, "I... suddenly maybe do need a bath." They take a breath and ask softly and with real concern, "Does she... um, hurt you. Besides the obvious?" They freeze under the hugging, but carefully don't pull away. Instead they awkwardly pat the big man's back, "It's okay, it's okay." They say gently, "If I can have the bath behnd a screen, then we really can talk and it won't be a lie. If... if that Monitor s doing something wrong, you should tell my sister, you know. She wouldn't aprove of anything like that."


Lyra puts her hand over Maylis', just a gentle touch of comfort as she says. "The red, then. Do you want Lux or something in trade? Or soft music later when the baby is having a hard time settling?" She takes a deep breath and lets it out, then nods to KTT. "Keeping confidences is one of the services we provide." then a glance towards Xavier. "Magna is... very careful about not, quite, over stepping what she is allowed. There are some like that who skirt the lines. Though... it could be seen as... a bias of a sort that she chooses Cinder so often. Perhaps... she can at least be encouraged to spread her attentions around. Perhaps spend more time with Zephyr."


"Wow, you are _good_," says KissThisThen to Xavier, his eyes slightly widened "_Wow_." He keeps it reasonably lower, and he says "...ahaha, yes, that's psilocybin, I don't have a crush on you. Phew. That's great, now he's heard it, everything is fine. I'm very trustworthy." He congratulates himself quietly over this, and he says "I really like the picture, to be honest." And then he says "Oh, well, if your partner is a bit too rough, get them drunk. Except that they get loud." A shake of his head, and he says "A bath is _amazing_ though." And he touches his temples a little "Hmm. Zephyr. I like Zephyr too."


Cinder huffs a little laugh. "The obvious..." He chuckles. "Uh, with Magna...it's not what she wants so much as the why, I think. She's angry and cruel but she isn't breaking any rules. She just needs an outlet and I'm the right one. I don't want to inflict her on anyone else." He looks between Lyra and KTT. "Even Zephyr, the little shit...not even him." He laughs again. "Big brother code. Drak protects me. I protect Zee. Except when we get into fights." He sniffs. "Zee doesn't do women either and that's not quite right for her. I mean, she could but she won't. It should be me." He looks to Maylis, who waves him off. "I will draw you a bath, Ecks, when you come up. I'll even wash your back and share my curly hair secrets." He's smiling bright again. "Kay, remind me to, uh, show you my plant book. I've been drawing them a lot since I'm in The Farm so much. Maybe more soon...anyway, pardon me."


Xavier bares their teeth in the direction Magna left, "I don't approve of that sort of... of behavoir. Even if it doesn't cross a line it's not... It's not KIND." They say that as if it is utterly damning. Their shoulders relax and they sigh, "I'm sorry, Cinder." Then they are grinning at KTT, "Thank you. I... I did my best." They blush, "I wouldn't... I mean if you had a crush. I wouldn't mind." They cock their head, "I keep. fairly clean. As best I can. If you wanted the water after me? I mean, that would be less wasteful. You could show your boyfriend a good example." They shake their head, "I'd rather not be, um, seen. Without clotthes. Motly. Kitten excepted." They are clearly plnning on follpwing Cinder, "Did you finish the sketch? Og kitten?"


"You are not sharing water. Ew." Cinder shudders, his Fortunate caste is showing. "Separate water, I will skip tomorrow's bath to offset." Beat. "One of my baths. Mmm, no. Two. Reaper dirt." As for the sketch. "Not yet! I only started but seeing them today was inspiring! Oh, man..." He'll chatter about that, all the way up.


Lyra sighs. "I should go back to playing, again, I think just background music this time. Maylis, let me know what you want for the shirt, snd Cinder, sometimes you are too good. You can let other people shoulder the burdens sometimes as well." Still, she's walking back over to collect her harp and heading for the stage again. Xavier and KTT each get gentle, seemingly genuine smiles.


"SKIDMARXXX is not my boyfriend, trust me," says KissThisThen "It's complex. It's weird. It's under control." He lifts a hand and then he says "Oh. Goodness. Yes. Reaper dirt..." Xavier and Cinder are going off, and Kitten has left, and Lyra is gone, and KissThisThen says "...I have got to work out how I feel about people," to himself.


Xavier givs Lyra a bright, gentle smile, "You really were very good you know." They follow along happily enough. They eye KTT. "I think you and I have different ideas of under control." They contemplate that last, "Sometimes things take time. Maybe it's all seeds and you don't know what will grow, Kiseses."