Pollovic sits before the ashes of the fire in his study. He's still wearing the crumpled remains of the elegant suit he wore last night, minus the jacket and tie. He looks as if he hasn't slept. That isn't quite true; he did nod off in his armchair here for a few minutes. Not long enough to do him any good, though.
Pollovic looks up at a slight noise from out in the hallway. He hopes it isn't his mother. He's not ready to face her yet. Or possibly ever.
D'zoll steps on a creaky board on his way from Kat and Nick's room to the facilities. He whispers:
D'zoll: I don't see why you have to trail me where I'm going. Nobody's going to jump out at me and say boo at this hour of the night.
Shorsh: Well, I could stand to drain and refill, myself. ~~ not fully conscious ~~
Shorsh drank more punch than he ought to have -- he didn't realize how alcoholic it was and now he's both full in the bladder and thirsty.
Shorsh: Besides, it's almost time to get up anyway, if we're going to catch our train.
Shorsh yawns. The only available sleeper compartment large enough for the four of them is on this morning's early express, which leaves before sunrise.
D'zoll: Okay, fine. I just don't like to see you this tired, private compartments or not.
Shorsh: With you safely locked away with me, I can snooze at will. Let young Nick do all the fetching and carrying.
D'zoll thinks that "snooze at will" is not a description of what people, even Gens, can actually do on trains, but what the shen, he doesn't own Shorsh. As his ancestors would have.
Pollovic wearily pushes himself to his feet and goes to the door of his study. He opens it a tiny crack and looks through the narrow gap, then opens the door wider.
Pollovic neither looks nor zlins as if it's a good morning at all.
Shorsh: Good morning, Senator.
D'zoll takes the opportunity to escape unseen, since he really does need to go.
D'zoll: [from down the hall] Backinamo, Senator.
Pollovic: (to Shorsh) You're up early. Would you like some coffee?
Shorsh: Why, yes. That would be wonderful.
Shorsh looks forward to enjoying a taste of the senator's no doubt premium quality coffee before returning in-T, where coffee is seldom available, or freshly roasted or ground.
Nick is wandering down the hall as well.
Nick: Did someone mention coffee?
Nick's nager has a ~~ plaintive ~~ note to it, but he's more alert than the other Gens, not that that's saying much.
Pollovic opens the door wider to invite the Companions in, then crosses the room to the bell cord and tugs it in the particular pattern that means, "send coffee". He repeats the pattern twice more, indicating coffee for three.
Pollovic: Please join us, Sosu Nick. The coffee will be here shortly.
Nick: I didn't think the kitchen staff would be up yet. Or have they even had a chance to get to bed yet?
Pollovic: There's always one person on all night. If nobody requires anything, they just do some of the early prep for breakfast.
Pollovic, unlike many of the well-to-do, prides himself on knowing at least a bit about the machinery behind the luxuries of his life.
Pollovic: Should I order a pot of trin, too?
Nick: If you don't mind. Kat prefers it to coffee.
Pollovic tugs the cord again in the patterns that mean "trin" and "large".
Pollovic: Please do have a seat.
Pollovic collapses back into his own chair beside the cold hearth.
Nick drops into a seat with another yawn.
Shorsh settles into a chair as well.
D'zoll returns, smells boiled coffee, and prudently hangs back until his stomach is under control. It would never do for a Farris of Sat'htine to puke all over a Senator of New Washington Territory.
D'zoll realizes on second sniff that it's the old coffee that's the problem, not the new stuff. He masters his innards and walks in.
Nick is usually pretty good at noticing things like the mug of stale coffee on Pollovic's desk, but he usually gets more sleep.
D'zoll: Senator, may I pour you a new cup?
Pollovic gestures silently to the tray that just arrived in the dumbwaiter, and nods.
Shorsh notes D'zoll's expression and ~~ invites ~~ him over for some ~~support ~~.
Nick adjusts his own nager, reflexively, to support Shorsh's efforts without competing with him.
Pollovic: The trin should be along in a few minutes, if you'd prefer it.
D'zoll fills a new cup with new coffee, gives it to Pollovic, holds his breath, takes the old cup to the toilet, dumps it, and returns in a Simeland minute.
D'zoll: Thank you, I think I'll stick with coffee.
Shorsh gets up and serves coffee to himself and Nick, preparing it as he has observed Nick prefers.
Shorsh: Here you go, naztehr.
Nick buries his nose in the mug ~~ gratefully ~~.
Pollovic sips at his own cup, waiting for it to cool so that he can bolt the whole thing. He stares morosely at the dark liquid.
Shorsh slumps back into his chair, pats the arm to invite D'zoll to rest there, and sips his coffee with ~~ pleasure ~~. This really is the good stuff.
D'zoll pours his own coffee and sits on the chair arm.
Nick slurps, and feels the first bit of artificial ~ alertness ~ suffuse him.
Nick: I wish we'd been able to get a later train. I've been shamelessly spoiled, lately.
Pollovic: What time do you have to leave?
Nick: About... what, D'zoll? Half an hour from now?
Pollovic: I could order you up a quick breakfast. Or sandwiches to go.
Katsura follows her laterals to the concentration of high-order nagers. She's finished packing for herself and Nick, tidied the suite and double checked for anything left behind.
Katsura: Good morning, all. ~~ cheerful, alert ~~
Pollovic attempts a strained smile.
Pollovic: Good morning.
Nick: Kat, I think I'm going to ask the Senator here to pass a law about being fully awake and cheerful at this hour. Have some tea?
Nick is already pouring.
D'zoll sips his coffee and decides not to interfere between Nick and Kat.
Katsura takes the cup and sits on the arm of Nick's chair.
Katsura: Thank you, naztehr.
Pollovic: Ah, but this house is posted as Sime Territory. Any law I could put through wouldn't apply here.
Pollovic doesn't want to consider the fact that, as of last night, he probably doesn't have enough influence to legislate the breathing of air rather than water.
Nick: That's unfortunate. Do you suppose Seruffin could manage an appeal to the World Controller?
Katsura can zlin the senator's distress, but will wait for him to open any unpleasant subjects. After all, the carriage will be ready to go soon.
Pollovic feels the coffee start to hit and, under its influence, manages a small smile.
Shorsh: At least one of us has to be fully awake, and I nominate Kat.
Pollovic: My apologies to you all for last night. And thank you for your help.
Katsura: Our profound gratitude to you for letting us stay here at considerable trouble to yourself.
Pollovic: In all the... excitement at the end of the evening, I never had a chance to ask you what you zlinned during the, uh...
Pollovic trails off, still not alert enough to come up with the correct word.
Katsura: Ah. I've made a list here, summarized my impressions of all the "candidates", regarding their reactions toward Simes.
D'zoll is grateful that Katsura did something formal.
Pollovic: Thank you. Could you summarize for me?
Pollovic starts to reach for the list, then decides to wait in case the channel wants to refer to it as she speaks.
Katsura: While some were more interested in the possibility of marriage with you than others, I didn't note anyone who had the intent of exploiting the opportunity for selfish ends, so I'll let you manage further winnowing using your own methods.
Katsura hands the list over.
Katsura: I suspect you noticed the two who were ostentatiously expressing their distaste for sharing a room with Simes. The others were sometimes startled, perhaps a bit nervous, but mainly positive or neutral, willing to do their best to take us in stride and be polite.
Pollovic: So those were the only two you would eliminate?
Katsura: Perhaps they could be talked around. They're quite young, probably felt insecure and wanted to impress older adults with their maturity by expressing conventional views.
D'zoll: In particular, the young lady you propositioned was not, as far as I could determine, actually averse to the notion, at least not earlier. Do you agree, cousin?
Katsura: Yes, I believe she was interested in finding out more about the compatibility of your views.
Nick: I don't think her mother was very happy about it, though.
Pollovic: Were either of you able to zlin anything of Pametta as she was leaving? After I, uh, spoke?
D'zoll: It was rather chaotic, but I didn't zlin any, er, fundamental transformation.
Katsura: She seems like a young woman of strong character. Perhaps she won't let her mother stand in the way of what she decides she wants.
Pollovic: Do you know about her brother?
Pollovic isn't sure whether any of the four were close enough to overhear that part of the conversation.
Katsura: No. Her brother?
Pollovic: He's Sime, and she's donating for him, but her parents don't know he's still alive. Or didn't, until last night, at least.
Shorsh thinks that's remarkable, or perhaps not, in context.
D'zoll: Or perhaps they took pains not to know.
Nick: Do you know her parents well enough to predict how they're likely to react to the news?
Katsura: The mother seemed protective of her daughter, not angry with her as they left.
Katsura was reading the reaction more from visual information than from zlinning.
D'zoll: Angry with you, to be sure. And you may wind up catching some of the blame for their son's, umm, disgrace of the family. People aren't always rational about these things.
Katsura: Did someone tell the mother about her son last night? ~~ confused ~~
D'zoll: Not as far as I know. I assumed from what the Senator said... hmm, no, I suppose not.
Pollovic: No, only that Pametta has been donating. But I suspect she would have told them about him, when they discussed her decision to donate.
D'zoll: I suspect you're right.
Pollovic is awake enough, now, that euphemisms like "discussed" are rolling off his tongue easily once more.
Nick: What, if anything, do you plan to do about the whole situation, Senator?
Shorsh: It's a bit early to make plans, Nick. The mother may change her mind about Simes once she realizes that her son is still alive.
Shorsh is taking Virla for his model.
Pollovic: What will I do? The best that I can, of course. I'm very grateful for your help, all of you, and I'll keep you posted on how things turn out.
Katsura: You're welcome, Senator, and we all wish you the very best.
Pollovic: Having proposed to Pametta in public, I'm now obligated to marry her if she's willing. Otherwise, her life will be ruined.
Katsura is ~~ startled ~~ by such a notion.
Nick: Is that what you want? Obligation aside?
Pollovic: I think so. I'd rather have taken a bit more time to make the decision, but I do believe she's my best pick.
D'zoll elevates his eyebrows. He was going to say that Pollovic could probably make sure that her parents forbid it, but he seems to have been overtaken by Pollovic's decision.
Pollovic: If I can win over her parents, of course. A senator can't afford to elope.
Nick: Your mother could help you figure out how to do that, I expect.
Nick is somewhat fonder of the old dragon than her son can afford to be.
Pollovic's nager flares briefly with ~~ panic ~~ at the mention of Eulalia.
Pollovic: If she doesn't disown me. ~~ grim ~~
Nick: Just remind her what a challenge it would be to rehabilitate you.
Pollovic raises a questioning eyebrow.
Nick: She enjoys a challenge, especially one that seems like a lost cause.
Pollovic gives a ~~ wry ~~ smile.
Pollovic: And I certainly qualify as that.
Pollovic glances up as a servant appears at the door with a large picnic bag.
Pollovic: Ah. Your breakfast is here. All packed and ready to go.
D'zoll: Excellent. Just what Gens need, eh?
Pollovic: As you need selyn, Hajene.
Nick: Then why is Kat zlinning it so closely, if not to determine whether there are any of those crumbly cheese scones inside?
Nick grins at his channel, the coffee having taken full effect at last.
Katsura smiles and runs a few tentacles through Nick's sleep-disordered hair.
Katsura: Have to take good care of my Companion.
D'zoll considers doing the same to Shorsh, but decides he'd rather keep those tentacles intact.
Pollovic smiles at the interplay. He suspects his marriage plans may not be the only ones under discussion soon.
Pollovic: Your carriage should be ready by now, to take you to the train.
D'zoll: Well, thank you for the overnight hospitality, Senator Pollovic.
D'zoll, being closest, extends his tentacles to Pollovic.
Nick: Yes, and good luck with your plans for the future.
Katsura: Thank you again, Senator. If you're ever in Nivet, you'd be very welcome to visit Sat'htine.
Pollovic: Thank you again, for all your help. And whenever you're in New Washington again, my door and my guest room are always open to you.
Katsura nods. smiles, and offers her tentacles.
Pollovic returns the fingertip-to-tentacles touch, with a lot more ease that he ever would have thought possible a year ago.
Nick offers a Gen-style handshake.
Shorsh does too.
Nick: Do tell your mother goodbye from me, Senator. I've enjoyed her company tremendously.
Shorsh: I hope she'll have another channel continue working on her joints.
Shorsh doubts it, but one never knows. Pain can be very persuasive.
Pollovic: And another Donor on her roses?
Pollovic manages a grin that -- just barely -- reaches his nager.
Nick: It might be more efficient just to look for a gardener.
Pollovic: Ah, but what would be the challenge in that?
Pollovic nods to the servant signaling silently at the door.
Pollovic: Your carriage is ready. Travel safely, my friends.
Nick offers Kat his arm in a completely unnecessary, but very gallant, gesture.
Katsura takes the arm with ~~ pleasure ~~, wrapping a few tentacles around it as well.
D'zoll notes that the coachman downstairs is awaiting them impatiently -- he has the problem that D'zoll had until a short while before.
Nick escorts her out the door.
D'zoll escorts Shorsh out as well, rather less romantically.