"She's extra fluffy right now."
<XAV> Conservatory - Xs First Floor
Tall panes of glass and a many-gabled glass ceiling protect this large indoor garden from the elements, while welcoming in sunlight to keep it warm year-round. Adjoined to the southern face of the venerable mansion and surrounded by more conventional gardens beyond, the conservatory is all Old World elegance from the outside. Within, however, it is lush and green and in certain corners--whether despite its careful tending by the groundskeeper or because of it--seems practically wild. Footpaths and a burbling artificial steam wind through the space, connecting its disparate parts. Benches are scattered throughout, thorough soft grasses or mosses under certain trees also invite rest.
The outside wall is lined with tropical and subtropical plants. The ferns and cycads and epiphytes are kept moist by artfully hidden misters that also give the place a sort of magical ambiance, dense foliage wreathed at times with drifting patches of mist. Nearest the building is a desert in miniature, with a few impressively sized cacti as well as palo verde and other trees adapted to arid climes. Between these, and by far the largest section, is dedicated temperate zone plantlife from around the world, the beds growing more carefully manicured and the pads less winding as one approaches the center, where a clearing with a small ring of seats is a popular spot for some teachers to hold court.
It's not actually all that cold outside today, considering winter has just arrived in earnest. Here in the glass sanctuary of the conservatory, the warmth of the slanting sun is all the more pleasant. Kyinha dozes fitfully in a patch of sun at the foot of a lush green fig tree, looking quite human and almost shockingly beautiful in his unpowered winter form. Despite the warmth, he is bundled up in a soft, loosely knitted blue ombre sweater over a gray waffle thermal shirt, the layering giving a certain illusion of depth very reminiscent of looking down into deep water, thick wale black corduroy slacks, and rugged gray hiking boots. The book in his lap -- /Symmetry and Collective Fluctuations in Evolutionary Games/ by Eric Smith and Supriya Krishnamurthy -- has fallen shut on one of his hands.
Daiki slips quietly into the conservatory from the mansion side, a travel mug in one hand decorated with the Xavier's School logo, a plate of colorful holiday cookies in the other. He's in his X-uniform, no-nonsense black with yellow piping, and his hair is cinched into a neat ponytail with a yellow hair tie. His steps are soft but purposeful as he finds his way through the garden with the ease of long familiarity, though he draws up to a stop when he sees Kyinha asleep, casting a hesitant glance at the tropical foliage around them.
The door opens again a short while after Daiki -- the next entrant to the conservatory is not as restrained. A large and very floofsome Bernese shepherd bounds in, for all her huge size still practically prancing, lightfooted and eager, on the paths. She snuffles at a citrus tree here, a bright blooming poinsettia there, pausing to peer down into the stream with head tilting first one way and then another. Her attention is soon recaptured by people, though, and she turns in Daiki's direction, ears slightly pricked forward and her half-mast tail swishing amiably. She doesn't fully approach, though, stopping short of actually coming up to him with a glance back over her shoulder.
In her wake, trotting rapidly to catch up, is a short and curvy brown-skinned woman in citrus-bright colors -- cheery long-sleeved yellow kurta hanging down to her knees, tangerine skinny jeans, similarly orange velvety-thick shawl wound and draped around her chest and shoulders, ankle boots. Maya's eyes are wide and a laugh is half-tumbling from her neatly but subtly pink-lipsticked lips. "Oh! Oh, sorry sorry -- that's Ratri, she's a bear but she's harmless --" Her lips purse, quietly air-kiss a couple times. The dog trots to her side, still wagging. "We're still, um, we're still learning, she's as excited as I am to -- oh!" Here she claps an hand to her lips, elegantly french-manicured fingertips touching just-so-lightly to them as she looks down to Kyinha. "I'm so sorry, I didn't see that someone was -- no wait, I should hush."
Daiki's quiet steps do not wake Kyinha, but Ratri's approach -- or, more likely, Maya's speech -- does. He blinks and sits up, the book tumbling from his lap, and looks up in time for Maya to silence herself the second time. "Oh! Please don't worry about it, I hadn't meant to fall asleep out here!" His accent is difficult to place, though it might conceivably be mistaken for Portuguese. He rises, dusting himself off, and gives a dazzling smile. "Are those Jax cookies?" he asks Daiki, dark eyes keen with interest despite his drowsiness. Then, to Maya, "And may I pet your dog?"
Daiki turns as Ratri pads toward him, breaking into a smile that seems to make him even more compelling than he already was, though it seems to fade in a moment as he looks past the dog toward her owner. "Hi, are you new to the staff? That's a beautiful dog." He glances back at Kyinha. "They are, and I brought them to share. I didn't think you'd be asleep, but -- well, now you're awake. You're welcome to have some, too," he adds, to Maya. "if you like delicious vegan cookies."
Behind her fingers Maya gives a tiny but audible gasp when Kyinha sits up. "Oh. Um --" She reaches up to tuck some of her thick black hair behind an ear, sweeping her hand forward. Ratri bounces forth eagerly at this allowance, this time trotting straight up to Daiki. "Yes, yes, she's very friendly. She's going to be so excited to have people around all the time. She put up with me leaving her every day to go to my last school but this -- will be new and exciting." Maya's eyes follow the dog -- linger on Dai, catching a long moment. "Oh right, um! Wait, who doesn't like delicious cookies? " She wipes a hand against her shawl, offers it out to Daiki with a warm smile. "I'm Maya. I'm just -- we just moved in. I'm going to be taking over some of the music classes. Do you --" She glances between the two men. "You teach here too?"
Kyinha stands up, graceful even in his lethargy, and goes to Daiki's side. "Ooh! Thank you!" He plucks up one of the cookies, looking Maya over as he makes short work of it, casually appreciative. His attention shifts easily enough to Ratri, and he kneels down, stretching out a hand for the dog to sniff. "Welcome! I'm Kyinha -- I teach trig and bio. And...soccer, sort of? Whoa, she's so fluffy!"
"Maya," Daiki echoes, "it's a pleasure to meet you." He bows his head slightly and offers the cookies in lieu of a handshake. "My name is Daiki. I'm not a teacher, just an alumnus who helps out here in an...advisory capacity. Has someone given you the tour yet? " Looking down at the dog, and Kyinha, he nods agreement, his voice remarkably even when he adds, "She *is* incredibly fluffy."
Ratri shoves her head eagerly into Kyinha's hand, tail swooshing hard as she butts up against him. Maya plucks a cookie from the plate, bouncing slightly on her toes as she munches into it. "She's extra fluffy right now. We wanted to make a good first impression so she went to the groomer before we came. Figured we should settle in a little bit before she starts getting dog smell all over everything. Oh, these are lovely." She shakes her head, dark eyes sweeping the verdant scenery around them. "I mean, they showed me where my room was and all -- I'm kind of giving myself the tour. This place is huge. I guess it seems bigger with people gone for the holiday but -- still."
"What a wonderful floofer you are!" Kyinha has degenerated just a little into baby-talk as he sinks his fingers into Ratri's voluminous fur. "I think you were very successful. There's a student here with a service dog -- maybe they will be friends." He gives a dog's jowls a final, fond ruffling before he straightens up, a smile lingering that warms his dark brown eyes. "It'll be more crowded during the term, but there are still place that tend to stay quiet even when everyone is on campus." He snags a cookie for himself and nods his thanks to Daiki. "I could show you around, if you like -- my favorite spots included."
"Suga Mama hardly has any fluff at all," Daiki comments soberly. "I hope she does not resent Ratri's bounty." There is a faint ghost of a smile on his lips, here. "The grounds are immense, too, if you haven't gotten a chance to see -- gardens, lawns, a lake, and acres of woodland. Wonderful for outdoor activities in warm weather. Or cold weather, if you're into that sort of thing."
"Oh, good, I'm so glad she'll have company here. She loves other dogs, I worried she'd be lonely. I don't know if there's dog parks in this -- town didn't look that big." Maya bounces up onto her toes, her eyes flitting over to Kyinha -- and over Kyinha, in tie with a widening of her smile. "There's a lot I haven't gotten a chance to see. I'd love your tour, thank you. And thank you for the cookies -- Daiki, was it?" She finishes the one she's holding, carefully licking a crumb off her fingertip. "Will I be seeing you around?"
"That's right," Daiki smiles shyly. "Though I can't really claim credit for these." He indicates the cookies by raising the plate ever so slightly. "Jax Holland made them, and I am but a humble cookie messenger." He nods, just once up and once down. "I live in the city, but I'm here quite often. I'm sure I'll see you around, and I hope you both have a lovely day." And with this he's off, perhaps to deliver cookies elsewhere in the school.
Kyinha's brows furrow slightly. "I'm not sure, to be honest -- not having a dog myself -- but I'd guess probably not." His dark brown eyes flick aside to Daiki. "Cookie delivery deserves credit, too," he says evenly. "See you later!" Then, to Maya, "All right, tour time!" He sweeps an arm grandly along the path as he starts along it. "I could spend an hour just showing you around this very room, but maybe first I should tell you where to find delicious baked treats when you're not quite lucky enough to have someone chase you down with them..."