Dancing Around The Problem: Episode 7

Lora spots Eulalia Pollovic across the floor and walks over to her, granddaughter in tow.

Lora: Eulalia! How good to see you again. It's certainly been a while.

Eulalia: Yes, it has. Your granddaughter looks quite becoming tonight.

Nita blushes.

Eulalia sizes up the girl to see if her deportment, dress, and so on are appropriate for the next Senatorial wife.

Lora: Thank you, dear. We do our best.

Nita is conscious that her dress isn't all it could be, and determines to make up for it.

Nita: How do you do, Miz Pollovic?

Eulalia: Quite well, thank you. Please, enjoy the party. I believe there is some octopus on the buffet.

Eulalia waves towards a food-packed table to one side of the room with a hand that is less gnarled than it was a few weeks before.

Lora catches sight of the hand in question.

Lora: It looks to me like you're feeling quite a bit better yourself, Eulalia. What's your secret?

Eulalia: Well... I have a new physician who's been able to help a great deal.

Eulalia hopes against hope that Lora will leave it there.

Lora elevates her eyebrow.

Lora: Really? And I haven't heard? How -- unusual.

Eulalia: She's... a bit unusual, I agree. And her practice doesn't include many others among our set.

Lora: A woman doctor? I should think not!

Nita returns from the buffet with octopus portions on cute little toothpicks.

Eulalia: Still, it seems to work.

Nita: These are very good, grandmother. Do try one.

Lora waves the thing away -- she doesn't care for rubber foods.

Lora: Well, that's something. A good deal, in fact. Perhaps you could introduce me to her? My lower back isn't all it should be.

Nita thinks her grandmother's back wouldn't hurt if she didn't insist on dressing like someone younger than her own granddaughter.

Eulalia: Unfortunately, I believe that she will be leaving town very soon.

Lora: Oh dear, how disappointing. I'll have to make sure she can squeeze me in, then.

Nick is looking very fine indeed in Rinaldi's interpretation of Sat'htine dress livery. He thinks that Kat looks even better in the female version.

Katsura thinks the elegant pants suit is more form fitting than she's really comfortable with, but the silk cape lets her conceal her otherwise bare forearms.

Nick offers his arm, out-T style.

Nick: Shall we brave the masses, naztehr?

Katsura takes the arm with ~~ pleasure ~~.

Katsura: Indeed, naztehr. Lead on.

Katsura is determined not to let the potential hazards of the ambient bring her down. After all, she had a good transfer from Shorsh two days ago.

Nick sweeps down the staircase, as ~~ proud ~~ as any of the assembled aristocracy.

Katsura is ~~ delighted ~~ at Nick's continuing happiness at his new status, and how it's freed his emotions to display all their beauty.

Lora glances at the staircase as a matter of routine whenever someone enters.

Eulalia looks up in time to see her new physician and the gardener making a Grand Entrance, dressed in what her discriminating (if somewhat dimmed) gaze assesses as the height of fashion.

Lora: Good heavens. Who on earth are they?

Nita looks up too, and her attention is immediately captured by the hottie.

Katsura is leaning on Nick nagerically, ready to drop hypoconscious if anyone panics.

Nick offers his usual ~~ delicately nuanced support ~~.

Eulalia: Er, that's a house guest of my son's, actually.

Lora is too flabbergasted by the effect to notice the anomalous use of the singular.

Nita isn't.

Nita: Which one, Miz Pollovic?

Eulalia: Er, both.

Katsura: Perhaps we should pay our respects to Miz Pollovic first, Nick. Do you think that's would be correct protocol?

Katsura regards Nick as an expert on out-T social customs.

Nick: Certainly. She is the official hostess, after all, since her son is unmarried. Besides, she looks a little desperate just now.

Katsura: And going over to her won't increase her desperation, we hope?

Nick shrugs.

Nick: If nothing else, there's a chance that the people who are giving her trouble will make themselves scarce. Besides, we promised the Senator.

Katsura: Let's do it, then.

Nick leads the way.

Katsura follows, not taking her hand from Nick's arm, her silken cape floating around her.

Nick: Good evening, Mrs. Pollovic.

Nick offers Eulalia his most charming smile.

Katsura nods to the whole group.

Eulalia grits her teeth, since her son is watching from across the room, and murmurs a greeting.

Lora returns the nod.

Katsura: I am Hajene Katsura Farris ambrov Sat'htine, and this is my Companion Sosu Nick ambrov Sat'htine.

Katsura experiences a ~~ thrill ~~ of pleasure at being able to introduce Nick as her Companion.

Nick is, perhaps, responsible for at least part of the ~~ thrill ~~.

Lora: Ah. Hm. Well, I am Lora Kellage, Eulalia's fourth cousin, you know? And this one here is my granddaughter, Nita Chead.

Lora has just realized that that bit about "Sime Territory" on the invitation was the real thing.

Katsura: We are pleased to meet you.

Katsura replies for herself and Nick, as is customary in-T.

Lora thinks "What is she, Sime royalty?"

Nita is far too busy ogling Nick to say anything.

Lora: And we are pleased to meet you!

Katsura is amused that Nita finds Nick so sexually attractive. Pollovic is certainly no competition for her Companion!

Nita: How are you finding the party?

Katsura lets Nick answer that one, since Nita's eyes are exclusively on him.

Nick gives a little bow.

Nick: So far, it's been an experience to remember.

Nita: Ye-yes, it certainly has. Been. Has been something to remember, I mean. ~~ profound embarrassment ~~

Katsura hasn't zlinned a reaction to herself. Possibly Nita is so taken with Nick's beauty and charm that she hasn't even noticed that there's a Sime holding his arm.

Nick compassionately -- and politely -- turns his attention to the grandmother.

Lora: Tell me, Miz Satteen, are you part of the delegation here? Or are you a personal friend of the Senator's?

Katsura: We have been visiting New Washington for the past few weeks. The Senator was very kind and invited us to stay here in his beautiful home.

Lora looks at Eulalia and raises her eyebrow again.

Lora: Really. How -- unusual.

Eulalia tries not to ~~ squirm ~~ under the scrutiny.

Eulalia: How so? My son's policies are widely known.

Eulalia skill with the ~~ bluff ~~ is legendary.

Lora: Policies are one thing, society's another thing, and what people do in the privacy of their own home -- that's another.

Katsura thinks she's probably being insulted, but takes no offense.

Nick thinks it's probably just as well that Lora has no idea what's been going on in the privacy of Senator Pollovic's guest suite.

Katsura: And are you enjoying the party, Miz Chead?

Katsura hopes Nita will notice her larity, so she can check her off the list.

Nita: Oh yes, Miz Sat-- my God! ~~ shock ~~

Katsura grits her teeth mentally, trying to keep her reaction off her face. She leans on Nick's nager a little harder.

Katsura: Yes, I'm a Sime, a channel.

Nick reaches out to put a ~~ protective ~~ hand on Kat's arm.

Nick: Hajene Katsura is the heir to Householding Sat'htine.

Nick emphasizes the "Hajene" just a little.

Nita: Um. It's just that, well, I didn't think I wouldn't notice until you were this close. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ... ~~ mortified ~~

Lora: Nita, Nita.

Katsura: It's all right. I'm sorry to have startled you. Please don't be embarrassed.

Nita: Okay, I won't then. ~~ even more mortified ~~

Katsura smiles at the girl in a friendly, companionable way and chalks her up as Sime-positive -- she shows no fear or hostility, and is embarrassed at not having reacted to her with adequate politeness.

Eulalia had been hoping that her guests could be distracted a little from her medical progress, but isn't sure this is an improvement.

Nita finally begins to relax, though as a consequence her fascination with Nick has been thoroughly disrupted.

Nick is just as glad: Katsura is more to his tastes than any out-T debutante.

Nita: Ah, will you be staying with the Senator long? ~~ phumphaing desperately to get the conversation going again ~~

Katsura: We will leave tomorrow, to go home to Nivet.

Lora: ~~ inspiration ~~ So would this by any chance be the doctor you spoke of, Eulalia?

Eulalia: Er...

Eulalia remembers the futility of lying when Simes are around, drat them.

Eulalia: Yes, she is.

Katsura is far too polite to point out Eulalia's lies, should she choose to make them.

Eulalia turns to Katsura with a trace of ~~ malice ~~.

Eulalia: Lora was wondering if you'd be willing to work on her back, before you leave.

Katsura gestures to Nick to provide a 'window'.

Nick ~~ obliges ~~.

Katsura gazes at Lora, and her eyes take on an absent look as she zlins the woman's spine.

Nick hopes that Lora won't take being zlinned the wrong way.

Katsura: The best thing you can do is to learn some exercises that will strengthen your back and abdominal muscles so they will support your spine better. The changes in your spine are due to normal aging and can't be reversed. But with better support you will have much less pain.

Lora: ~~ surprise ~~ You can tell all that by just looking? Or whatever it is you, ah, Simes do?

Katsura: Yes. As a Farris channel, I have high sensitivity. And Nick is helping me.

Nick gives a confirming smile.

Lora: Ah. And where can I learn these, ah, exercises? I don't suppose you'd have time to teach me before you leave.

Katsura: Perhaps a doctor here would know? Or you could go to the Sime Center and ask for someone to show you.

Lora: The Sime Center? Oh, I couldn't! [pause] Well ... perhaps.

Katsura: This is not my specialty, so it would be better for you to find someone who knows more and can monitor your progress.

Lora: Ah. Thank you. I'll ... well. In any case, Nita, we mustn't monopolize our hostess. Good to have met you, Mister and Miz Satteen.

Nick gives a polite bow of farewell.

Katsura smiles and nods.

Lora moves off, taking Nita under tow again.

Eulalia looks after them.

Eulalia: That went better than I feared it might. I suppose Brenn put you up to it?

Katsura: He asked us to tell him if any of the young women dislike or fear Simes, and are unlikely to change.

Eulalia weighs the utility of this approach against the disruption it may cause, and decides to accept what she can't change anyway.

Katsura: Nita has no fear of me, and she was embarrassed to have been impolite, so there is no problem there.

Eulalia: Well, that's something.

Eulalia is aware she's being ~~ ungracious ~~, but that's a privilege of being elderly, high ranking, and the hostess.

Rayne sees that the Householders -- as well as her hostess -- are free for the moment.

Rayne is at the moment unaccompanied, as her husband is involved in a power conversation of some sort and her niece is dancing with some nonentity. She walks up ~~ calmly ~~.

Rayne: Greetings, Miz Pollovic, Hajene Farris, Sosu.

Rayne: [badly pronounced Simelan] Respect to the House of ... what House are you?

Nick: Sat'htine.

Rayne: Sat'htine. Thank you.

Katsura is ~~ charmed ~~ that the woman is trying to speak Simelan and using an in-T custom in offering respect to the House.

Rayne: [English] I'm sorry I can't speak Simelan very well. My mother taught me a little, but only a little.

Katsura: It is kind of you to address us with the Simelan you do know. Did your mother grow up in Nivet... Miz...?

Rayne: Oh yes. She was a refugee. My father's father was kind enough to take her in, and, well, one thing led to another.

Nick reflects that one thing does often lead to another, when a refugee gets taken in.

Eulalia belatedly recalls her duty as hostess.

Eulalia: This is Rayne Three, Senator Three's wife.

Katsura: Pleased to meet you, Miz Three. I am glad things worked out well for your mother when she was a refugee, and I am also glad that the time when Gens must flee Nivet is long over.

Nick resists the urge to say, "Present company excepted", since he isn't a refugee any longer.

Rayne: So am I. My mother always hoped to return home, but by the time Unity came, she was too old to make the trip safety. And, I think, too set in her ways to re-adapt to Sime Territory culture, especially since it had all changed so much. She died just a year or two later.

Katsura: Do you have relatives in Nivet, now?

Rayne: I suppose so, but I'm not in touch with them. My husband ... well. He's a fine man, but he has to represent the feelings of his constituents, you know. We can't all be as lucky as your son, Miz Pollovic.

Eulalia smiles politely, while reflecting that her son has been pushing his luck far, far too often, lately.

Katsura: I see. Perhaps if your children or grandchildren change over, they can look up their cousins in-T. It would be good for them to have some relatives there to help them settle in.

Rayne: ~~ sadness ~~ Unfortunately, we have no children. There's only my younger brother's daughter, who -- Slina, come here, if you please.

Nick ~~ warns ~~ Kat that she has made a misstep.

Katsura looks to Nick, wondering what the problem is. The woman is certainly sympathetic to Simes, even if her husband isn't.

Slina looks up guiltily in the act of eating her fifth little cookie. She swallows the cookie and glides gracefully (she hopes) over to the side of Embarrassing-Aunt-Rayne.

Slina: [politely] Yes, Aunt Rayne dear? ~~ catty ~~

Rayne: I'd like you to meet Hajene Farris of Householding Sat'htine and her Companion. My niece Slina. As you can see, she's past the dangerous age, if not past the annoying one.

Slina: [still politely] How do you do? ~~ mortified ~~ angry ~~ resentful ~~

Katsura: Good evening, Miz Slina.

Rayne: And of course you know Miz Pollovic, Senator Pollovic's mother and your hostess.

Eulalia has to agree with Rayna's assessment of her niece, but she wanted to give Brenn the widest selection possible.

Slina: ~~ bored ~~ Good evening, Miz Pollovic.

Eulalia: Slina.

Eulalia's dismissive tone makes it clear she is ~~ not impressed ~~.

Katsura thinks that the Senator won't need her opinion to reject this young woman as a prospective bride.

Katsura: Are you enjoying the party?

Slina: Oh, certainly. Why, I haven't had this much fun since the one where my cousin James's dog bit the stuffing out of my doll some ten years ago.

Slina winks at Nick, who doesn't seem to be saying much.

Nick fails to wink back.

Katsura reflects that Slina is not using larity as a criterion of whom to be obnoxious to.

Nick turns to Rayne.

Nick: Miz Three, it appears your niece doesn't take after you.

Nick says this in rather an approving fashion.

Rayne: I'm afraid not. She considers me a bore and embarrassingly pro-Sime. Well, there's no accounting for taste, is there, Slina?

Slina tosses her head but says nothing. She thinks the ball is a joke and the idea of marrying the Senator is repulsive.

Rayne: If it weren't for her mother being ill ....

Nick: I'm sorry to hear that.

Slina: Oh, she'll be over it by tomorrow, for sure.

Rayne waves her niece off dismissively.

Slina takes this as a signal to make her escape, and does.

Rayne sighs.

Rayne: My apologies to everyone.

Katsura realizes that Slina's mother's illness is probably an excuse to avoid entering the temporary Sime Territory.

Katsura: I accept your gracious apology, Miz Three, but I was not offended.

Nick: One can't select one's relatives, after all.

Nick really, really wishes it was possible, though.

Rayne sighs again.

Rayne: Well, I must be on my way -- things to see and people to do, you know.

Katsura: It was pleasant conversing with you.

Rayne extends her fingers toward Katsura.

Katsura extends her own hand, then tentatively extends her tentacles.

Rayne moves her arm up to brush the tentacles rather than the fingers. ~~ fearlessness ~~

Katsura smiles as she completes the gesture.

Nick also brushes fingertips in farewell.

Katsura: I regret I will not have more opportunities to meet with you.

Katsura thinks the woman could become a friend.

Rayne turns away and walks off into the crowd.

Tammy: [whisper] Dad! There they are! Go for it!

Chuck: [whispers back] What? Who? Where?

Katsura: Perhaps we should move on, Miz Pollovic, and meet more of your guests.

Katsura thinks she's interfering with Eulalia's enjoyment of the party. She's certainly helping set her up for embarrassments.

Eulalia: Yes. I'd better go myself, and make sure the buffet is being restocked properly. The fried tentacles seem to be very popular.

Katsura is ~~ startled ~~ at what sounds like a really vulgar, out of character insult. She looks to Nick.

Eulalia bustles off to corner the butler, with more haste than she could have managed a few weeks before.

Nick: Squid. It's considered a delicacy.

Katsura represses her disgust at eating invertebrates, especially ones with tentacles.

Katsura: I see.

Tammy: [whispers] Dad, get a clue, willya? You know that woman there next to Miz Pollovic, the one in peach and turquoise, has got to be one of Senator P's Sime friends. Check out the tentacles on her!

Chuck: [whispers] Awright, awright. Looks like she and her husband are coming this way anyhow. Sit tight and we'll see what happens.

Nick: Come, let's mingle.

Katsura: Yes, naztehr.

Nick offers his arm, and leads Kat away from the buffet.

Katsura takes Nick's arm again, leaning on his nager, alert for nageric trouble.

Tammy quickly steps up to intercept Kat and Nick.

Tammy: Ooh, Hajene Farris, that black scarf is sooooo cool. I really admire the way it sets off your uniform.

Chuck: ~~ embarrassment, but what can you do? ~~

Nick gives the trailing father a ~~ sympathetic ~~ look.

Katsura: It is to indicate that I am Farris. But I am glad you like it. ~~ indulgent ~~

Tammy: Oh, cool. I thought the nose and the hair did that. But you must think I'm, like, so totally rude. Sorry, sorry.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: Yes, the big Farris nose and the wild Farris hair. You know about us.

Nick is ~~ glad ~~ that Riyyh's genes are less well known.

Tammy: Anyway, my name's Tammy, and this quiet fella here is my dad Chuck. He's shy, which is why I o-ver-comp-en-sate by talking way way too much.

Nick: Glad to meet you, sir.

Nick offers Chuck a hand.

Chuck blows out his breath and shakes hands with the at-least-male-and-Gen member of the party.

Chuck: Call me Chuck, everyone does. I don't hold with ceremony.

Katsura nods politely, and doesn't offer her hand. She can zlin that both are donors, so marks Tammy off as Sime-compatible for Senator Pollovic. Let him judge if he wants to marry a chatterbox.

Nick: I'm Nick, and this is Katsura.

Katsura: We are ambrov Sat'htine.

Tammy: Ooh, yeah, I remember, that's one of the Farris houses. Are you, like, the Sectuib?

Katsura laughs.

Katsura: No, Sectuib is much older.

Tammy: Ooops, put my foot in it again, huh? Well, I'm sure he does a fine job at it and that leaves you to do the politics in the family, huh? See, my dad's not political, he just has too many relatives to be left out of this kind of thing.

Nick knows all too well what it's like to have too many relatives.

Chuck can't deny either point.

Tammy: Really what he gets a kick out of is messing with his garden, y'know?

Nick: Really? ~~ interest ~~ That's a hobby of mine, as well.

Chuck: Really, Nick? What do you grow? For me, it's mostly herbs and vegetables -- I do the cooking, too.

Nick: I've been helping Senator Pollovic's mother with her roses, while we've been staying here.

Chuck: Impressive. Those roses are famous, and the fact that she allows you to touch them shows that not only do you know what you're doing, you've convinced her of it, too. Rank is worth nothing when it comes to roses, eh?

Chuck isn't shy when he has something to talk about that interests him.

Nick: They are certainly a lovely collection.

Nick doesn't explain that he didn't ask permission before repotting them.

Tammy: So Hajene Farris, what do you do when you're not going to parties, or do you have to go them all the time?

Katsura: I do not go to parties very often. Mostly I work as a channel. My specialty is pediatrics.

Tammy: Wow, that's amazing. I'd love to do something like that -- I love children soooo much. But of course girls can't be doctors.

Nick gets an ~~ inspiration ~~.

Nick: Would you and your daughter like to see the roses, Chuck? I'm sure our hostess wouldn't mind.

Tammy makes up her mind in a flash -- getting to old Pollovic through his Sime friend's Companion has to be just as good.

Tammy: Why, I'd love to. And Daddy, you know you can't resist gardens. Let's do it!

Chuck smiles thinly and makes a "what can I do?" gesture, but he's actually ~~ enthusiastic ~~ underneath that.

Nick chuckles.

Nick: Come, then. It's just through here.

Nick offers one arm to Kat, and the other to Tammy, thus making sure that he's directly between them.

Katsura is grateful for the distance, and the opportunity to get out of the chaotic ambient. She'll be back to continue her duties soon enough.

Tammy is far from sure that she actually wants to marry Pollovic -- he's pretty old -- but that's the current game, and she definitely doesn't want to lose.

Chuck brings up the rear, reflecting that once again his overactive daughter has got him into something. This time, though, it might actually be a Good Thing.

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