Saag slogs into a cafe near the train station. He's been tracking the two runaway out-T wives for more than a week, and he charmed a ticket agent into telling him the women bought tickets for this town.
Saag hopes he can pick up the trail here, but if the women are really trying to hide, they might have gotten off at another stop, or moved on from here. This looks like a rather large town to find them in.
Saag finds this an unusual task for an embassy gofer, but the Ambassador wants him to do it, so he'll do his best.
Saag sits at a table by the window and orders trin and toast.
Portia is slogging away upstairs, making beds. She wonders how she will manage this chore in a few months, when her middle is thickening.
Portia decides to take a break and go check on Dilena and the baby. She makes her way down the stairs with due care for the sensibilities of nearby Simes and takes a shortcut through the inn's dining area.
Dilena ducks her head out of the kitchen, hands covered in soapsuds
Dilena: Yes, honey?
Saag turns and looks -- Dilena is an unusual name. The women's descriptions match too. Can he really be this lucky, at last?
Portia: I don't suppose those sheets have dried yet?
Portia is ~ hoping ~ against hope that they are -- and that someone else has already brought them in.
Dilena: I doubt it. My hands are wet.
Dilena hears a faint cry.
Portia: Ah, well. I'll go an check them. Is that the baby?
Dilena: Yes. Well, I think so.
Dilena is really pretty sure.
Dilena: You get them; I'm on my way.
Dilena disappears into the kitchen again.
Portia sighs, and turns to trudge towards the back door to the innyard.
Saag dithers, then gets up and follows her.
Dilena dries her hands quickly on her apron and runs up the back stairs to deal with Luanna, whose howls are now unmistakable.
Saag: Uh, pardon me, ma'am, but is your name Portia?
Portia blinks at the young man.
Portia: Yes, I'm Portia. Were you wanting a room? I have finished some of them...
Saag: Uh, well, maybe, but I was wondering, did you and your friend Dilena come in-T just recently from Riverdale?
Portia looks at Saag, letting her ~~ suspicion ~~ speak for itself.
Dilena appears behind Portia, a sleepy baby over her shoulder.
Dilena: Give me one good reason why she should tell you anything. ~~ belligerent ~~
Saag: Uh. The New Washington Ambassador sent me to find you and see if you're all right.
Portia: We are no longer any concern of the New Washington government. We are citizens of Nivet Territory now.
Portia stands firmly by her wife's side.
Dilena: Well. If we are who you want, we're fine. And if we aren't, we're still fine. So go back to your Ambassador and tell him we're fine.
Portia crosses her arms over her belly, which is just starting to thicken, not that a stranger would notice much.
Saag zlins that Portia is pregnant, and wonders what the Ambassador will make of that.
Portia: Now, if you don't mind, my wife and I have work to do.
Saag decides to try a landsmann/paisano type appeal.
Saag: Uh. I haven't been here in Nivet all that long myself. How are you two getting along with being here? It's lot different, isn't it? I mean, like back home, two women can't be married like here.
Portia: Obviously. Which is why we're not going back.
Dilena: What, you want to know what two [Simelan]lesbians [English]do in bed? ~~ sarcasm ~~
Saag: Uh, no. I just think it's good that people can do what they want here. The laws mostly make sense, they're practical.
Saag doesn't realize that this absence of vice laws is based on the more or less anarchic (other than the Pen system) government of pre-Unity Nivet, as well as the mindset of its junct Simes, who weren't much concerned about anything other than where they were going to get their next Kill.
Portia: I'm glad you like it here. Not that you have a choice.
Dilena: We didn't either, really, Portia.
Portia: True. Neither your husband nor mine was worth keeping. Useless louts.
Portia looks at Saag with ~~ suspicion ~~.
Portia: So why's the New Washington Ambassador so interested in a couple of ladies working at an obscure inn in a small town, anyway?
Dilena figures she might as well drop the pose that they aren't who Saag thinks they are.
Dilena: It has to be our ex-husbands. Probably Portia's. He has more political influence than mine did.
Portia: The lorshes.
Saag: Well, your ex-husbands complained to their senator, and he wanted to be able to say he'd done something, so he told the Ambassador. And the Ambassador wants to be able to say he did something, so he sent me to find you and report back to him.
Portia: It figures.
Dilena makes a disgusted noise in lieu of stronger language.
Dilena: Like I said. In any case, your trin is getting cold.
Portia: And, mister, you go back and tell the Ambassador to tell the Senator to tell our useless former spouses that we're not going back to them. Ever. So they can just leave us alone to raise our children in peace.
Saag: Okay. I'll tell him that.
Saag is relieved that Portia mentioned her pregnancy herself. He would have felt awkward telling the Ambassador that he'd zlinned it.
Portia: And you might as well add that it's no good them coming here after us. By the time they get the message, we'll be somewhere else.
Saag feels bad that the women figure they'll have to move away now.
Saag: I'm sorry.
Portia: Just don't come back.
Saag: I'll try not to.
Saag can't promise -- he may get sent right back, after all, although he thinks it unlikely.
Dilena: What's your name?
Saag: Saag. Saag Doyle.
Portia: Well, Tuib Doyle, I must say, I don't think much of your boss, if this is all he can find to occupy his time.
Saag shrugs. It's Saag's time that's being occupied.
Dilena: ~~ softening a bit ~~ He's only a boy, Portia -- I mean, what we'd call a boy at home. No reason to take things out on the hired help.
Saag: I guess. I'm not sixteen natal yet.
Dilena puts a hand out to touch Saag, then remembers the rules about touching Simes.
Dilena: [dryly] You'll get over that.
Saag: Yeah. I will. It was pretty difficult at first, learning how to live in Nivet, as well as being Sime. But I like it here, now.
Saag doesn't think that he'd have moved to Nivet had he established, however.
Portia: There's more freedom here.
Saag: In a lot of ways there is.
Portia: I don't suppose your Ambassador boss would be interested in that.
Saag: I don't know. It's not like we socialize or anything.
Portia is predisposed to ~~ dislike ~~ the Ambassador who's compelling them to move on when they'd finally found work.
Dilena: Y'know, you could tell the Ambassador you found us in a different town. I mean, he's a Gen, he won't know you're lying. Say, somewhere further in-T and off the railroad?
Saag is really ~~ uncomfortable ~~ about lying, and not only because he's adapted to in-T life. He's just a basically honest, nice "boy".
Portia: It took us a long time to find a town where we could both work. We'd rather not move again so soon.
Dilena: I mean, we're not the ones to blame here. Our husbands were -- cruel.
Dilena lays it on a bit thick, perhaps, but young men are often susceptible to that.
Saag: My expense report... well, I guess I don't have to stay here tonight. I could get a train back this evening.
Saag: I can tell him that you'd rather it didn't get back to anybody where I found you. But if he insists, I'll have to tell him where. I mean, it's my job. He trusts me.
Portia: I don't suppose you could send us word if that happens?
Saag: Yeah, I guess so. Care of this inn?
Dilena: You could cable the inn, something short and sweet like "Gotcha"?
Dilena laughs a somewhat forced laugh.
Saag: I guess.
Portia: Thank you. That will let us stay, at least for a while longer.
Saag: Okay. Uh, maybe you could write a letter to the Ambassador asking him not to pass on where you're living and all? I could take it back with me.
Dilena: Okay, I can do that. "Well-founded fear of persecution", is that the phrase?
Saag: I guess.
Portia: We want asylum here.
Dilena: We actually officially requested it at the border, but ... well, the staff were distracted by a changeover.
Dilena is getting good at suppressing the truth when talking to Simes. Not to mention suggesting falsehoods. Neither seems to set off a Sime's built-in lie detector.
Saag: I think since you're here and you donate and everything, you're okay unless you commit a crime. But you wouldn't want anybody from out-T coming to hassle you.
Portia: No, we don't.
Saag: If I come back here before I catch the evening train, can I pick up the letter then?
Portia: We'll have it ready for you.
Saag: Okay. I guess I'll finish my trin and toast and be off then.
Saag hopes the Ambassador is going to be satisfied with how he has handled this assignment.
Dilena: Ask Alys to warm the trin for you. You're cute, she'll do it.
Dilena smiles properly this time.
Saag smiles back, looking like the nice, cute "boy" he really is at heart.