Tsibola pauses to rest on a bench on his early walk through the park. His stamina has improved, but he's hoping that Fridda will happen by for a brief chat.
Fridda is, indeed, walking in the same park, also hoping that she will meet her uncle. She zlins him at a short distance and hurries to see him.
Fridda: Uncle Ruthven! Hello!
Fridda zlins that he's a bit tired but otherwise in good shape, for him.
Tsibola: Fridda! It's good to see you.
Fridda: I hoped you might be here. How have you been?
Tsibola is actually lowfield today, and he is gaining confidence in dealing with Simes, so he reaches out to clasp Fridda's hand briefly.
Fridda clasps back, ~~ charmed ~~, and sits next to him, not too close.
Tsibola: Passably well. My cardiologist invited me to a birthday dinner. She tried hard to follow New Washington customs.
Tsibola is still ~~ amused ~~.
Fridda: Oh, dear. People here have some strange ideas about out-T customs.
Tsibola: She did all right, until it came to decorating the cake. She used full-sized candles.
Fridda: How big was the cake?
Fridda is too tactful to ask how many candles.
Tsibola: Big enough to make an effective candelabra.
Tsibola breaks into a chuckle.
Tsibola: I shouldn't laugh at her -- I've made worse blunders -- but it was a sight to see.
Fridda: And of course you and Aunt Bernice kept your faces straight at the time.
Fridda doesn't bother to point out that the channel could, of course, zlin right through them.
Tsibola: Of course. It would have been rude to laugh, when she'd gone to such trouble.
Fridda: It's the thought that counts.
Tsibola: It was still a pretty funny sight, though.
Fridda: I bet.
Fridda is enjoying zlinning her uncle's amusement. She's glad that things he can enjoy are happening to him. Overall, he seems surprisingly less stressed than he usually did in New Washington. Being ambassador seems to suit him.
Rachel glances at her former mentor, waving her notepad with one dorsal tentacle for emphasis.
Rachel: So I've been doing this series of profiles on some public figures here, and sending them back to the New Washington press pool, but they're mostly kinda stodgy. I've got to have something with a bit more sizzle to it for here. "Pre-Turnover" isn't exactly the Post, y'know.
Uel ambrov Kimber is not only Gen but over forty, and not only over forty but overweight, so keeping up and talking at the same time isn't exactly easy for him. Nevertheless, he tries.
Uel: Obviously. Pre, post, big difference right there. "The Capital Post: the paper most interesting after turnover."
Rachel: So I'm hoping you've got a lead too juicy to use for the Post, that you can trade me for... well, for something or other.
Uel: Done! Unfortunately I don't know what it is right now -- you'll have to wait till I get back to my office.
Uel believes that the truth should out, somewhere, eventually, if not too dangerous.
Uel: So what are we doing here following the Ambassador?
Rachel shortens her stride a bit, making it easier for the elderly Gen to keep up.
Rachel: I dunno, just a hunch.
Rachel gives her old mentor her most winsome smile.
Rachel: You taught me to always follow my hunches.
Uel: That's true. So what does your hunch tell you now?
Rachel: It tells me the Ambassador's been meeting a young Sime woman here in the park, off and on for a while now. But only when she's pre-turnover.
Rachel frees a tentacle from her camera to wave in emphasis of her paper's name.
Uel's eyebrows roll up his bald head.
Uel: Oho. And pretty friendly too! Do you zlin anything interesting there?
Rachel: Not much, from this distance. He seems to be really happy to see her.
Tsibola is, indeed, ~~ happy ~~ to see his dear niece again. He's enjoying the ~~ freedom ~~ of being able to associate with her without worrying about ruining his Senate career.
Rachel: I'm not much of a judge of Gen tastes, but wouldn't you say she looks kinda cute, from a male Gen perspective?
Rachel tries not to let her nager light up like Faith Day fireworks.
Rachel: I think we may have a story here.
Uel: You may, but what's in it for me? The Ambassador has a local sweetie; my editor won't run that. There has to be a genuinely political angle.
Rachel: The fact that his attitude towards Simes -- or at least, this one Sime -- may be softening?
Uel: Nonsense. He's here at all because he let a Sime save his life, or his wife did, which is the same thing. That doesn't change his position.
Rachel: Hmm. Still missionary, then?
Rachel isn't sure the joke really works in Simelan, but it's worth a try.
Uel just looks perplexed, then grunts.
Rachel: And that's definitely not his wife.
Uel: Umm, obviously?
Rachel: So let's try for a closer look. And a better camera angle.
Uel decides to go along: who knows, perhaps something will emerge after all.
Rachel closes the distance to less than a dozen yards, then veers off the path to get a better angle on the couple. She raises her camera, waiting for the right moment.
Tsibola struggles to his feet, after giving Fridda an inspirational compliment on how adult she's become, and bids farewell with a very old-fashioned formal hand-kissing.
Rachel squeezes the shutter button, capturing the moment.
Fridda is both ~~ embarrassed ~~ and ~~ charmed ~~, but mostly she's just ~~ happy ~~ that her uncle feels that comfortable with her tentacles. She would like to hug him, as of old, but figures she'd better wait until he offers, hopefully in the near future.
Rachel turns to Uel with a ~~ smug ~~ grin.
Rachel: Got it!
Uel pitches his voice to carry.
Uel: Mr. Ambassador?
Fridda whips around and notices the pair with the camera. They must be reporters.
Fridda: Oh, no.
Rachel is switching to a fresh photographic plate as fast as her tentacles can fly.
Tsibola takes a ~~ startled ~~ step backwards at Fridda's sudden movement, and the sudden increase in his heart rate sends a searing ~~ pain ~~ through his chest.
Rachel gets a second shot, framing two alarmed faces, then winces at the spike of pain. Somehow, she manages not to drop the camera.
Fridda unthinkingly takes his hand supportively as she zlins the pain.
Fridda: Are you all right? Sit down again.
Tsibola allows his niece to help him sit.
Tsibola: I think I'll be all right. It's easing a little.
Tsibola concentrates on breathing slowly and evenly.
Rachel is changing plates as fast as she can, taking shot after shot.
Fridda is holding his hand, staring worriedly into his face.
Tsibola would have been very concerned about such coverage while he was still in the Senate, but he is no longer trying to hide Fridda's changeover from fellow Senators.
Tsibola reaches out to pat her cheek.
Tsibola: Don't worry, Fridda. This has happened before. It will pass in a few minutes. See?
Tsibola is already hurting less.
Fridda isn't reassured -- she thinks her uncle is just trying to conceal his condition from her. But the pain does seem to be abating.
Fridda: I suppose so. But maybe you should have your doctor zlin you.
Fridda hopes the reporters have fled, although she certainly didn't zlin any guilt or embarrassment behind her back. She's not going to mention them with her uncle zlinning like this. But no, she zlins they're still there.
Tsibola: I have a pill I take for this. I'll have one when I get home.
Fridda: You should carry them with you. And some water. Do you want me to run and get you one?
Rachel has one last plate left, and is saving it for the perfect final shot.
Fridda is, nonetheless, reluctant to leave her uncle with the reporters who caused the problem. She isn't aware that her fast Sime movement is what set him off.
Tsibola: No, but if you'll accompany me as far as the Embassy gate, just in case?
Fridda: Of course. But don't you want to rest a little longer?
Tsibola: No, I want to get back before your aunt starts to worry. I think I can make it now, If I go slowly.
Tsibola stands with due ~~ caution ~~.
Fridda figures if her uncle wants to ignore the reporters, she will too. He certainly has enough experience with the press.
Tsibola hasn't really noticed the reporters yet, being too caught up in the chest pains. He was vaguely aware of them just long enough to dismiss them (wrongly) as "not a threat today".
Fridda tentatively puts her arm around his waist to provide some support. She's zlinning him carefully in case he has a negative reaction to the contact with a Sime's arm.
Rachel gets one last shot of the couple, with the Sime woman's arm wrapped possessively around the Gen ambassador.
Rachel: This one'll sell to both my markets. And yours too, I'd think.
Uel shakes his head, but he's beginning to think about the possibilities.
Rachel has no intention of ruining a perfectly good scandal by mentioning what she zlinned.