Pollovic has been hiding in his study, dodging as much of the last-minute chaos as possible. With the wedding only two days away, he doesn't really care whether his boutonierre is mauve rather than lilac, and is indifferent to who gets which guest room. With one exception. His special surprise for his bride is something he has to take care of himself.
Pollovic is looking forward to Pametta's reaction when she spots her brother for the first time during the ceremony. And, to get double value for his effort, he's sure this will be a less controversial way than some of his past efforts to emphasize that he's friendly to Simes.
Pollovic sets aside the budget committee report he wasn't really reading anyway. The carriage he sent to the train station to pick up Saag and his hired Escort should be back very soon.
Saag is really, really glad Senator Pollovic hired an Escort for him, even though she's an elderly retired Householding Gen who thinks he's a cute boy, and treats him like a rather slow child.
Ettil is also ~~ exhausted ~~ from the trip, and ready to rest.
Saag is finding the contrast of the familiar sights of New Washington with the alarming and stressful exposure to a lot of untrained Gen nagers hard to take, as are the retainers.
Pollovic heads downstairs to the front door, dodging his own staff and some of his houseguests's.
Saag: I think this is the Senator's house, Sosu. Yeah, we're turning here. You can get some food and rest.
Ettil: Good. You'll be more comfortable without those retainers. You will be able to take them off, won't you?
Saag: He said his house was posted. I've got some signs for my room, just in case.
Ettil: It's always wise to be prepared, out here among the Wild Gens.
Saag: Uh huh.
Saag knows all about living out here among the Wild Gens, but not as a renSime.
Ettil's knowledge of Wild Gens was gained pre-Unity in her House, but she's been across the border several times since Unity.
Saag is just grateful that his sister's wedding was scheduled for the early part of his cycle. He'll be home well before turnover.
Ettil: It's quite a grand house, isn't it?
Saag: Yeah. Almost as big as my father's.
Saag isn't bragging. He's just too nervous to consider the effect of what he's saying.
Ettil looks at her charge's clothes, which are clean and neat, but not exactly what a very rich person would wear.
Saag: Most senators have a lot of money and big houses in the city.
Ettil: I guess they must.
Saag is glad he has a Donor to protect him from the ambient, but he isn't used to leaning on one. And he's afraid he could get used to it and be worse off when he gets back home. He's startled to realize he thinks of Capital as home, now.
Saag opens the door as the carriage stops, so the driver won't have to get close to him, and helps the elderly Donor out, being careful with the retainers, which make him clumsy and painfully punish him for any careless move.
Ettil is careful to ~ minimize ~ her discomfort and ~~~ maximize ~~~ her support.
Pollovic steps outside as he spots the carriage.
Pollovic: Saag Doyle? Welcome back to New Washington.
Pollovic offers his hand properly for the fingertip-touch.
Saag: Oh. Hello, Senator Pollovic. Thank you for making it possible.
Saag hesitantly touches fingertips.
Pollovic is low-field, but radiates ~~ sincere welcome ~~ against a background of ~~ distracted haste ~~ .
Saag is relieved to zlin the sincerity of the welcome. He was afraid this was something Pollovic was doing only to please Pametta, and despite his discomfort with Simes.
Saag: This is Sosu Ettil, my Escort. Thank you for arranging for her to accompany me.
Ettil: Pleased to meet you, Senator Pollovic.
Pollovic: Welcome to New Washington, Sosu Ettil. I trust you had a good journey?
Ettil: As journeys go, I suppose. Which is to say, the trains were running a bit late, the food in the waystations was stale, and the tracks could use some repair.
Ettil gives a "what can one expect?" shrug.
Pollovic: Then which would you like first? Some decent food, or a chance to rest?
Ettil: Might I combine them?
Ettil has assessed Pollovic, and figures that he's not going to upset her charge's equilibrium too much.
Pollovic: By all means. Come right this way, please.
Pollovic signals one of his staff to take care of the luggage, and leads the way into the chaos of the house.
Saag stays close to Ettil and wonders if he should try to stay hypoconscious as much as possible, uncomfortable and difficult as it may be.
Pollovic: I'm afraid things are a bit busy today. If it's like this here, I shudder to think what it must be like at your parents' place, Saag.
Saag: I guess so. Is the reception going to be there?
Pollovic: Actually, it's on neutral ground. Your father refused to have any part of his property posted, and I have several Simes on my part of the guest list.
Saag: I see.
Saag is relieved that he won't be the only Sime there.
Pollovic: Your sister doesn't know yet that you're one of them, though. I'm quite looking forward to surprising her.
Saag is not at all looking forward to dealing with surprised Gens.
Pollovic leads the way up the stairs and down the hall towards the guest suite last used by Kat and Nick.
Saag: Um. I hope people aren't going to get too upset when they realize I'm a Sime.
Saag has been keeping his sleeves down, hoping that he's young-looking enough that people will assume he's a child.
Pollovic: My staff are used to Simes, and my house guests are all quite familiar with my scandalous attitudes.
Pollovic approaches the door of the insulated suite.
Pollovic: I'm afraid it's not pretty, but this room is insulated for Sime use. Quite well insulated, I've been told.
Ettil: That's thoughtful of you.
Ettil is ~~ sincere ~~, as most Wild Gens, she's been told, don't have the faintest idea what insulation is, much less have the courtesy to provide it.
Pollovic: At least, it was yesterday. I had to stop my mother from having the insulation torn out.
Pollovic grins as he opens the door wide.
Pollovic: Good. It's still here.
Saag can zlin the nageric dead zone inside and relaxes a little.
Pollovic can see the corner where the torn cloth had to be tacked back up. It's covered, at least, even if it's even less pretty than it was before.
Saag: This is really good insulation. As good as a Sime Center.
Saag is a renSime, so what's marginal for a Farris is overkill for him.
Ettil ~~ relaxes ~~ as she realizes their host really does understand the elements of hospitality for Simes.
Pollovic: Hajene Farris tinkered with it until it was adequate for her requirements.
Pollovic glances around the room, noting that all the proper amenities, including fresh flowers, are in place.
Saag: Um. Is it okay for me to take off my retainers in here?
Pollovic: By all means. The entire house and grounds are posted, though with so many guests, you might want to be a bit cautious if you leave this wing.
Saag nods and starts fumbling with the clasps.
Pollovic smiles self-deprecatingly.
Pollovic: I'm afraid a few of my cousins are a bit old-fashioned.
Ettil assists with the retainer-removal.
Saag: Thanks, Sosu.
Saag is really relieved to get out of the devices. He turns his back and cautiously extends all his tentacles, waving them around to dry and get the stiffness out. He retracts them before turning back around.
Ettil sinks down onto a comfortably stuffed chair.
Saag is pleased to zlin her comfort, clearly without the retainers.
Pollovic gestures towards the bell-pull.
Pollovic: Anything you require -- refreshments, extra linens, anything at all -- just ring for one of the staff.
Saag: Could Sosu Ettil have some tea and a bite to eat please?
Pollovic: By all means.
Pollovic tugs on the bell pull.
Pollovic: Once you've caught your breath, Saag, would you be so kind as to join me in my study?
Saag: I guess I can come with you now. Um, do I have to put the retainers back on?
Pollovic is a bit ~~ surprised ~~ at how nearly he said "Hajene Saag". He's really not used to dealing with renSimes.
Saag wonders why the surprise, but doesn't feel comfortable asking.
Pollovic: No, we can use the back stairs. The servants are all used to Simes by now.
Ettil: Do you want me to come as well, Saag?
Ettil ~ tries ~ to gather her energy to return to work.
Saag: I think I'll be okay. I'll come back if it's too much for me.
Saag doesn't want to overwork the elderly woman.
Ettil: All right, dear. Go ahead.
Pollovic leads the way to his private refuge. As he predicted, none of the servants they pass react -- much -- to Saag's tentacles.
Saag is keeping them retracted, just in case.
Pollovic ushers Saag into the study, then sends down for a pot of trin.
Saag looks around. It's so much like his father's study.
Saag: I never knew you could get trin in New Washington, but maybe you sent for it. That's kind of you.
Pollovic: I started drinking it when I had my first Sime house guests. It grows on you.
Eulalia discovers them there before the tea arrives.
Eulalia: Ah, there you are. Hiding from your guests?
Saag isn't sure whether to stand respectfully, or hunch down to try to be inconspicuous. He compromises by freezing.
Pollovic: Talking to one of my guests. Mother, I'd like you to meet Saag Doyle. Saag, this is my mother, Eulalia Pollovic.
Saag stands, but doesn't offer a hand.
Saag: Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Pollovic.
Eulalia: Saag... Doyle? Pametta's brother?
Pollovic gives his mother a boyish grin.
Saag: Yes, ma'am.
Pollovic: I'm looking forward to surprising Pametta at the ceremony.
Saag winces, imagining the shock blasting through the ambient.
Eulalia ~~ glares ~~ at her feckless son.
Eulalia: That is one of the most stupid, irresponsible things you've done yet.
Saag refrains from nodding.
Eulalia: How could you even think of springing a major surprise on your bride in the middle of her wedding?
Pollovic: It's a good surprise, a happy surprise. What's wrong with that? It's not as if I'm confessing to having eleven toes or something.
Pollovic is honestly ~~ confused ~~ .
Eulalia gives a ~~ put-upon ~~ sigh.
Eulalia: Trust me, your bride won't appreciate it if you dump this on her during the wedding. Fortunately, she's coming over this afternoon to go over some things, so you can tell her then.
Pollovic glances at Saag.
Pollovic: You know your own sister best. She strikes me as the kind of young woman who enjoys surprises, but what do you think?
Saag: Um. It might be too much to take, right in the middle of the ceremony. She won't want to look flustered in front of everybody.
Eulalia: See? Even your... brother-to-be... agrees with me.
Eulalia finds the concept of a Sime son-in-law ~~ odd ~~, but will take support where she can find it.
Pollovic: I'll defer to your judgement, then. ~~ disappointment ~~ Mother, can you send Pametta up as soon as she gets here? And at least, don't tell her before she comes in.
Eulalia: Very well.
Pollovic: Now, if you'll excuse us, Mother, I'd like to go over the details of the ceremony with Saag.
Eulalia: Very well. The seamstress will be here momentarily.
Pollovic reaches for a stack of papers from his desk.
Pollovic: Now, I've tentatively scheduled you in as one of the ushers, but if that's too much public contact for you, we could make you a groomsman instead.
Saag: I don't know what either of them does.
Pollovic: Did you ever attend a wedding here, back when you were a boy?
Saag: A couple of times, but I was just a little kid. I don't remember any details.
Saag had hoped he could avoid the crowds at the ceremony entirely, or maybe sit in a corner at the back with Sosu Ettil between him and almost everybody.
Pollovic: Well, the ushers are the gentlemen who greet guests as they arrive, and seat them for the ceremony. Bride's family and friends on one side, groom's on the other. There'll be a list of who gets one of the reserved seats. On the other hand, the groomsmen...
Pametta is also bogged down trying to remember details, and so she pops into her fiance's office before meeting her future mother-in-law to discuss dresses.
Pametta: Dear, do you remem.....
Pametta's jaw plummets in ~~ shock ~~.
Saag is startled to recognize his sister and her unfamiliar nager.
Pametta's shock turns to ~~ delight ~~.
Saag: Yes, it's me.
Pametta: Saag, what are you doing here?
Saag: Your fiance invited me.
Saag would like to hug his sister, but refrains. He doesn't want to alarm her.
Pametta throws her arms around her future husband.
Pametta: You're such a darling.
Pollovic smiles and hugs her back.
Pollovic: I wanted to surprise you.
Saag is glad to zlin Pametta's sincere affection. He was worried that this was some kind of marriage of convenience. Pollovic is more than three times her age.
Pollovic is ~~ happy ~~ that his surprise worked so well, even if it's not the way he'd planned it.
Pametta breaks out of the embrace after a moment, and throws her arms around her brother.
Pametta hasn't had a lot of training in in-T etiquette.
Saag hugs her back.
Saag: Oh, Pammy, you've been so good to me, writing to me and all. And donating for me has made such a huge difference.
Pametta: Saag, what have you been doing with yourself?
Pollovic: I'll leave you two to get caught up. Saag, catch me later about the ceremony.
Saag: Like I wrote to you, I'm working at the embassy, translating and stuff.
Saag is emphasizing the more impressive bit of his job, not the gofer/office boy work he mostly does.
Pollovic leaves the room, closing the door quietly. He's not sure either of the two siblings even notice him leaving.
Pametta: I was so worried that I'd never hear from you again, when Mother found out what I'd been doing.
Saag: Well now you'll be away from our parents and you can write to me whenever you want.
Pametta: Yes. I can't wait.
Saag: I'm not looking forward to seeing them. They wish I was dead, I guess.
Pametta: They will be there at the ceremony.
Saag: Pammy, can you warn them? I really don't want to zlin their reaction if they suddenly realize I'm there, tentacles and all.
Pametta pauses to ~~ consider ~~.
Saag: I guess it's a lot to ask.
Pametta: Can I tell them just before the ceremony? When it's too late for them to make a scene?
Saag: That would be fine. Just so it happens where I don't have to zlin it.
Pametta: I admit, I'm sort of looking forward to it.
Saag: Better you than me! Gens can't zlin.
Pametta: Once I don't have to go spend the night in their house, afterwards, anyway!
Saag laughs for the first time since he crossed the border.
Pametta: Now, I've got half an hour before Eulalia expects me, so tell me all about what you're doing with yourself.
Pametta takes her brother's hand, and drags him over to the sofa.
Saag: I guess I wrote you about most of it...
Saag's letters tended to make things sound a lot easier than they were.