Pametta is enjoying an afternoon walk with her fiance in a park not too far from the Senate buildings. She doesn't mind the brisk breeze; it's too pleasant to finally get a chance to have something approaching privacy with him.
Pollovic smiles at Pametta as they stroll among the spring greenery. On a day like this, in the spring sunlight with a pretty young woman at his side, he almost feels young again.
Pametta doesn't let her indifference to the weather prevent her from tucking her arm through his, and walking rather closer than would be allowed, if they didn't have a formal understanding.
Pametta stops suddenly, then points at a large bush with red flowers.
Pametta: Look, a hummingbird!
Pollovic turns to follow Pametta's gaze. It brings his face even closer to her shoulder, and he inhales the light scent of her cologne.
Pametta: The next-to-highest branch on this side of the bush. See? Oh, there he goes for the next branch down.
Pollovic: I see it.
Pametta: Listen to him chitter.
Pollovic: I wonder what he's saying.
Pametta: Oh, that's easy: "My flowers, and don't you dare think you can drink here!" Nothing modest or timid about a hummingbird.
Pollovic: You like brash, outspoken fellows, then?
Pametta: They have their charm, at times.
Pametta looks up at him sideways. She thinks her husband-to-be is quite handsome, in a distinguished way.
Pollovic: What would you say if I were to tell you that this particular outspoken fellow is thinking of a career change? One in which his brashness might be more of an asset than it is in the Senate?
Pametta: You are? I thought you felt the Senate was where you could do the most good?
Pametta is ~~ concerned ~~ but also ~~ interested ~~.
Pollovic: I did. But you know that some people, on both sides of the aisle, think I've been just a little bit too outspoken about Unity?
Pametta: Yes. It's not as popular as it should be, considering the alternative.
Pollovic: Can you think of any place where my attitude would be seen as an asset, rather than a liability?
Pametta: It would blend right in, in Simeland, I'd think. But that wouldn't help the situation back here, would it?
Pollovic: It could, if I were the Ambassador to Nivet.
Pollovic watches his fiancee's face carefully as he springs his little surprise.
Pametta: Ambassador? But I thought Senator Burgess was to be the next ambassador?
Pametta looks ~~ confused ~~, but not actively repulsed by the idea.
Pollovic: He's the frontrunner, at the moment. That doesn't mean it's settled yet. Tsibola's also thrown his hat in the ring. And, unless you have serious objections, so shall I.
Pollovic doesn't add that even if Pametta does object, he intends to do it anyway. He'll just have to work harder at persuading her.
Pametta studies her fiance for a moment.
Pametta: That depends. What, specifically, do you want to accomplish?
Pametta is well aware that part of a Senate wife's job is to act as a confidential sounding board for her husband.
Pollovic: Burgess is capable, there's no doubt of that. But in a lot of ways, when it comes to Simes, he's stuck in a very pre-Unity mindset. As ambassador, he'd be looking for ways to keep our two Territories apart, not bring them closer together.
Pametta: He's more cautious than I'd like, it's true. But then, most people are. What would you do differently?
Pollovic: I'll be looking for ways we can co-operate, understand each other better, work together. Take the Desperation Point situation, for example. Burgess just wants to shut that down, regularize the border. He doesn't see it as an opportunity.
Pametta: You want to let the experiment continue, and learn from it?
Pollovic: And find ways to make it work on the larger scale.
Pametta: That sounds... worth doing. It would be difficult to win the nomination, though, wouldn't it?
Pametta: Burgess has the advantage that most people actually agree with the policies he wants to institute.
Pollovic: Burgess has a lot of support from his side of the aisle. But Tsibola's been chipping away at it from his party's side. Divide and conquer. If I can pick up the vote of the substantial minority who agree with me, there's a chance. It's a long shot, but I think it's a long shot worth trying for.
Pametta: If you think this is the best way to promote Unity... well, tell me how I can help.
Pametta wasn't comfortable with Jacind's plan to run off to Simeland with Burgess, anyway, although she doesn't know what she can do about it.
Pollovic: At the very least, tell me you're willing to live in Nivet, away from your friends and family and the culture you know, assuming I do get the job. Beyond that...
Pollovic hesitates. He still has no real clue about how the Senate wives' network functions.
Pollovic: Are you being treated differently yet, as the future wife of a Senator? Being invited to things, included in things? Or does that only start after we're actually married?
Pametta: I'm no longer being treated as a debutante, but of course I've yet to build up a position of much influence. That will come, I'm told. Our marriage will help a great deal. And... living in Simeland for a while might well help them forget my actual age.
Pollovic: That will be good, then. But for now... just listen. Find out who's saying what, who might support me. Anything I might use. And if anyone asks about me, talk up my good points.
Pametta smiles back.
Pollovic watches as the hummingbird darts away among the bushes, then resumes walking.
Pollovic: The park is lovely this time of year, isn't it?
Pametta tucks herself companionably close to his side again.
Pametta: Yes, it is.
Pollovic suddenly remembers his conversation with Layna.
Pollovic: That reminds me. Your friend Jacind Rittenberg. Has anything... unusual... happened to her lately?
Pametta: I've been very worried about her, lately.
Pollovic turns towards Pametta with a concerned look.
Pollovic: How so?
Pametta: I can't tell you the reason -- I promised I wouldn't -- but she's got herself into a situation that won't end well, in my opinion, even if everything goes exactly to her plan. And I don't see how it can.
Pollovic: Hmm. Can you tell me, in general? Is it boyfriend, money, or alcohol?
Pollovic figures those are the three most likely problem areas.
Pametta weighs her promise against a second opinion on how to resolve the situation, and comes up with a compromise.
Pametta: Let's just say she has some very unconventional plans for her future. And that I think they're completely unrealistic and she's fooling herself. She's going to get badly hurt if anyone else finds out about it, too.
Pollovic: And sooner or later, someone will. That's almost a certainty. Nothing's a secret for long in this town.
Pametta: I know. There are ways that she could hide, but she'd have to give up so much.
Pollovic pictures the Rittenberg girl eloping with a farmboy or a janitor's son.
Pollovic: You're her age, and have a level head. If anyone can make her see reason, I'd think you can. If you can't...
Pametta: I tried. Right now, she's not interested in hearing reason.
Pollovic gently takes Pametta by the shoulders and turns her to face him.
Pollovic: Then don't blame yourself. Her choices, and her mistakes, are hers to make.
Pametta: I've been telling myself that all week. But that doesn't make it hurt any less to see her being so self-destructive. We've been best friends for years.
Pollovic: All you can do is be there for her. Listen. Support her when it all falls apart. And...
Pametta looks at her fiance with ~~ hope ~~.
Pollovic's gaze turns briefly inwards. He vividly remembers the time he tried to save a friend and colleague from alcohol.
Pollovic: Know when to let go. If she's really beyond help, don't let her drag you down with her.
Pametta looks ~~ stricken ~~. She's well aware of the price of supporting a mistress over a respectable wife.
Pametta: She always had more sense, before. I hope she will see herself and her situation as they really are in time.
Pollovic: Her father is...
Pollovic searches for a diplomatic phrasing.
Pametta: Controlling? Rigid? Unforgiving?
Pollovic: ... not a forgiving man. If she disgraces the family name, she'll have no mercy, no support from him.
Pametta: I know. If he throws her out, will you be terribly mad at me if I try to help her, as much as I can?
Pollovic: As long as you don't let your own reputation -- which is mine now, too -- be tainted. Money, a place to stay, outside of New Washington... those can be done. A listening ear... well, just know your limits. Don't take on more than you can carry.
Pametta nods, feeling better knowing she has some support to offer her friend that doesn't have to go through her parents.
Pametta: Thank you, Brenn. That means a lot to me, that you would be willing to help my friend.
Pollovic: And remember I'll be here to support you, if you need a listening ear of your own.
Pollovic almost, but only almost, despises the part of himself that's already thinking of ways he, and his party, might make use of the shifting balance of power if the Rittenbergs are downed by a family scandal.
Pametta looks up with a tremulous smile, and squeezes the arm upon which her hand rests in thanks.
Pametta: I'll remember.