Bernice sits in the dark of the sleeping compartment she shares with her husband in the railcar reserved for them and their entourage, and the Farris channel and her Companion. She listens to her husband's regular though somewhat rapid breathing as he snores lightly. She doesn't mind the snores -- they mean he's alive.
Nick has finally managed to get his channel to sleep, now that all the other Gens have stopped disrupting the ambient, and is now taking a well-deserved short break.
Bernice is concerned that Ruthven has put off donating to the last minute rather than taking advantage of the Farris channel the Tecton has provided him. She knows that Farrises are the best, and appreciates the gesture.
Bernice has decided that she'll donate herself and present it to him as a fait accompli. She knows he'll get upset if she says anything about moral support. so she plans to explain it as solidarity with him in the face of the centrists' outrageous demand that he donate.
Nick is making his way down the aisle of the car, hoping to make himself a cup of tea at the kitchenette at the other end of the car.
Bernice decides to make herself a cup of chamomile tea in hopes it will help her sleep. She gets up, kisses Ruthven's forehead, and slips out into the aisle, where she sees Sosu Nick heading for the kitchenette as well. Perhaps she can arrange the donation with him.
Nick dips into his supply of Orange Orgasm, figuring he's earned it, after today. He sets his cup to steep, and sits at the small table nearby.
Bernice: Good evening, Sosu Nick. Is there enough hot water for two cups?
Nick is caught off guard, and forgets to be properly formal. He instead gives her the charming smile he inherited from his father (or grandfather).
Bernice thinks Nick is a remarkably attractive young man, but has more sense than to be affected by his good looks.
Nick: Certainly. Let me get you one.
Bernice: Chamomile, please.
Nick shuffles through the offerings, and finally finds a tea that claims to be mostly chamomile.
Nick: Here you are. Let it steep for a few minutes before you drink it.
Bernice: Thank you.
Nick: How is your husband? Is he tolerating the trip well?
Bernice: As well as can be expected, I suppose. Neither of us sleeps well under these conditions.
Nick: Has his heart been giving him any further trouble?
Bernice: No more than usual as far as I can tell.
Nick is ~~ concerned ~~ that Kat hasn't been able to get close enough to zlin the Senator thoroughly.
Nick: How much is usual?
Bernice suspects that it's been giving Ruthven a lot more trouble than he's inclined to reveal to anyone, including herself and his doctor.
Bernice: It's inclined to act up under stress, both physical and other, but he has been trying not to let people upset him.
Nick: Kat is worried about how he's going to react, when he tries to donate.
Bernice is somewhat taken aback.
Bernice: Isn't she competent to manage that? After all, all the Tecton propaganda says that donating is perfectly safe, and she is a Farris.
Nick: The donation itself is perfectly safe, but your husband's reaction to it might not be, if it triggers his heart trouble again. Kat has more expertise than Hajene Seruffin in handling such complications, but we would both prefer that she doesn't have to.
Bernice: Would he be issued some kind of medical exemption if she thinks he'd be in danger from donating?
Bernice thinks this would be a wonderful out, and it's too bad they didn't take advantage of it some time ago. She's sure it would have reduced Ruthven's stress level. Or maybe even disqualified him from the ambassadorship entirely.
Nick: Would he accept such an exemption, if it prevented him from taking office as the Ambassador?
Bernice: Well, if the channel won't take his donation, the centrists can hardly force her, can they?
Bernice finds herself incensed over the whole matter again.
Nick: There's nothing about the heart trouble in itself that makes it dangerous to donate. If he can remain relatively calm, he shouldn't have any trouble.
Nick wonders whether he ought to suggest to Kat that they administer a mild sedative before tackling the Senator.
Bernice: I did have an idea about the whole matter, however.
Nick is ~~ attentive ~~, hoping to hear a useful suggestion from the Senator's closest confidante.
Bernice: Of course, I've got an exemption, but I've been thinking that it's hardly fair to use it when the ambassador has been maneuvered into donating by his political opponents. So to spite them, in solidarity with my husband, I thought I'd go ahead and donate.
Bernice is surprised to find her own heart speeding up, but remains outwardly calm.
Nick: What does your husband think about this?
Bernice: He would probably argue with me about it, which wouldn't be the best thing for his equanimity and his heart. So I'd like to go ahead and do it, making it a fait accompli.
Nick: I see. You want to do it tonight, then?
Bernice: Might as well get it over with, especially now when most of our people are asleep.
Bernice's heart beats more rapidly.
Bernice: Is the channel available?
Nick: I left her sleeping, but she should be awake soon.
Bernice: I see.
Bernice sips her tea, which has cooled down nicely.
Nick: Why don't you come by our compartment when you've finished your tea?
Bernice: All right, I shall.
Bernice intends to drink her tea and be calm and composed when she gets within range of the Sime.
Nick takes his own tea with him and returns to his channel.