(1311-04-19) One At A Time
Summary: The sky falls on Symon’s head. Étienne assists.
RL Date: 19/04/2019
Related: Enter François, A Fair Chance.
symon etienne 

Étienne's Chambers — Les Tanières

This small sitting room is wood paneled and cozy. It has a small fireplace with a shared flue, with two comfortable chairs in front of it, with a small table on a green and black rug between them. There is a small writing desk and an X shaped oak foldable chair in front of it.

The floor of the bedroom is made of blackened wood that has aged to be hard as stone. It bears a shallow dip at the door, worn shiny by the passage of feet. There is an oval rag rug made of old clothes in all the shades of the sea in all its moods at the center of the open space. The room is lit by an irregular window, with a deep, padded sill. It has heavy asymmetrical shutters than can be closed completely, or secured on one side, with thick green curtains that can be drawn to hide the window seats. There is simple stained wood paneling. The ceiling is timber frame and plaster. Someone has re-plastered it, embedding a wide assortment of shells from the north coast of Azzalle and the southern coasts of Eisande. In between are smaller bits of mica and iridescent shell fragments that make the ceiling sparkle when a candle is moved.

The furnishings are in the same heavy, sturdy, but simple style as the sitting room. A canopy bed with faded green and black hangings is pushed against one wall, with a heavy chest at the foot. A table and two chairs is set by the windows. The table holds a large brass bowl for washing and an ewer of mildly lavender scented water, assorted cloths, a shaving kit, strops, and some other rather nice male grooming items of clearly local manufacture. A bookshelf mostly holds particularly nice shells and books on astronomy, navigation, and travel, along with a few other items. The bedside table holds a lamp, spare candles, assorted small jars and tools for care of weapons. A few swords and practice blades are propped in a corner.

Étienne has only just arrived himself and is rather harried with it. He has a baguette and soft cheese and grapes.

Symon comes home in the evening even though he'd gone out in the early afternoon to meet Laurene. He is that way, he often gets hung up talking to various acquaintances and friends, or making new ones, and drinking the while rather than promptly coming back the moment an appointment finishes. He is wearing his cloak because of the light rain outside, and when he comes in, he stops to hang it up on a peg, so he must not be distraught. (When he is upset, of course, he tends to drop outerwear straight on the floor.) Then he turns to see Étienne and smiles. "Ah, good," he says. "You're here. Hello." He crosses the room to give him a kiss.

Étienne perks up, and smiling kisses him, "I fear it must be a light supper only, sweet, as I got rather lost in a nest of alleys and it took forever to find my way out… you look in a good mood?"

"Oh, yes," Symon says. "I think so. I've had some w…wine, and… so m-much has been happening lately and I feel you and I have scarcely had the chance to talk about it all. I—" he squints at Étienne. "Did you really have b-business today, or did you only w…want to make sure I w-would talk to Laurene, and know I w-would be afraid to say yes if it w…were only me?"

Étienne blinks several times slowly, and looks really alarmed, "That was tonight! Oh no! I didn't mean to abandon you to face her. I'm really sorry." Then he gets a slightly sly look, "If you forgive me I'll forgive you the frog."

Symon looks startled, but then he breaks into a merry laugh. "Oh, no!" he says. "You aren't supposed to know about it. I w…was going to tell you, only… W-well, I didn't w…want to startle you and it w…wasn't m-mine and I thought Catherine w…would take it b-back soon, only she's m…making a table for that club that's opening w…which b-by the way I don't understand w…what it is b-but I daresay the Glycine is annoyed, b-but anyway, did you look at it? The dear little thing? Shall I b…bring it out? P-part of it is blue…"

Étienne gives him a long suffering look, "I couldn't help but notice the noise and the poor thing was starving. Wherever did you get it and who is Catherine?

"W…why Catherine is the one who b-bought it from a sailor and asked m…me to keep it for her," he says. "And I did learn on my own that it eats flies and slugs and spiders, at least," he says, insistent that he should get credit for that. He reaches to break off a hunk of bread. "Catherine is b…building a bigger b-box for it to live in, only things keep interrupting. B-but it's all right, isn't it? The frog. It makes a sort of creaky noise so Catherine thought it m…might b-be broken, but since it is foreign I think it is natural it should m…make a different noise. Don't you?" He chews on the bread. "Oh, b-but Laurene. She was actually…she was all right, you know. Oh, I forgot." He rises, goes over to his cloak where he draws a little box out of a pocket in the lining and brings it over. "She m…made us lemon cakes and said I should give you one."

Étienne's eyes go wide, "Was the sailor from the quarantine ship? Have you been exposed?" To his credit, he doesn't pull back, but rather puts his hand on Symon's forehead to check for fever, "How do you feel?" Distractedly he takes the box, "Laurene was rather upset when she came to see me, and I did my best to patch it up. She seemed a nice enough girl if a bit awkward…. Have you a headache?"

Symon looks instantly alarmed at Étienne's reaction. He doesn't pull away. "From the…? I don't think so? I… I don't know. I w…wasn't on the ship or anything, just… Do I seem sick?" he asks urgently. He does not appear to have a fever. "A headache? I don't think so…" But he might have one conjured in a moment. "Do I look sick? Étienne?"

Étienne searches his face and checks his cheeks, "You seem all right. Do we know how long it takes to fall sick? You say this Catherine is all right?"

"She looked all right," Symon says, but he looks deeply worried. "I…I heard there w-was sickness, b-but I don't know the details… It w-was on a ship and they'd quarantined the sailors, that's all I heard. B-but you think I could've caught it?"

<FS3> Étienne rolls Composure: Failure. (1 4 4)

Étienne tries very, very hard to sound calm and not at all terrified. He is not at all convincing, "I'm sure it's fine. Only the one sailor got off, and what are the odds he was our sailor."

Symon searches Étienne's face with his eyes, but cannot help hearing the tone of his voice. "W-well w…when did it happen and w…when did they get sick?" He pauses, trying to remember when he'd got the frog. "I m…met Catherine over a w-week ago at least. Should I…fetch a healer?" he asks, half-rising.

Étienne sets a hand on his shoulder to prevent him rising and takes a deep breath. He bellows, "Roberts!"

The domestic is summoned without too much delay. "Yes…my lord?" he asks, not altogether thrilled at being yelled out of his room when he'd thought supper was all taken care of. Symon meanwhile is starting to breathe quickly.

Étienne stands behind Symon and puts the other hand on his other shoulder. Trying and failing to sound calm he asks in an elaborately casual tone that would fool no one, "You wouldn't happen to know whenabouts that plague ship came to port?"

"The plague ship, my lord?" Roberts asks calmly, looking dispassionately at the alarm that has been stirred up between his employers. "In fact I would. It came in very late the night before the first of the month. My brother works at the dock and it has stirred up a great deal of concern in those quarters, I can tell you. Since the deaths." Is he even trying to be of comfort?" Symon feels like he wants to stand up again and only Étienne is keeping him in the chair. "Although," Roberts adds at last, "the quarantine was lifted days ago."

Étienne's fingers tighten. He says very slowly and carefully, "So if anyone else had caught it, we'd know by now, wouldn't we?"

Roberts shrugs. "That is what they say," he replies. "The dock hands and sailors were all quite worried, but they've been told they should be out of danger by now. So my brother says. Who, incidentally, is fine." Thanks for asking, he seems to say sarcastically with his tone.

Étienne beams at Roberts, all beautiful eyes and dimples. He bends to kiss the top of Symon's head, "You're going to be all right!" Then he bounds over and attempts to hug Roberts and kiss both his cheeks, "I am very, very glad your brother is all right! I'm sorry we disturbed you! Shall we send you brother a good bottle of wine to toast his health wth?"

Roberts does not appear to find this proper at all, but though he pulls back as much as possible, he endures. Tugging at his livery to pull real or imagined wrinkles out, he says, "I think he would appreciate that, my lord. Now if that is all?" Now that Étienne has released him, however, Symon rushes back to the bedroom, door slamming after him.

Étienne looks after Symon's departure in some alarm. Hastily he tells Roberts, "Select the best bottle from our stores and it is our gift to you both….I should… check on that. You are free for the evening." Then he's off after Symon lest he do something unmentionable to a poor captive creature.

"Thank you, my lord," Roberts says, and with a little bow, quits the room. Symon has latched the door shut. Ordinarily he rarely ever even bothers to close a door, much less latch it.

Étienne bangs, "Symon! Do not hurt that frog! It's fine! You aren't infected! Let me in!"

"Stop yelling!" Symon yells back. There are no clear sounds from within to testify as to what he is doing in there.

Étienne yells, "What are you doing! Do not force me to break this door!"

"Don't break it, don't break it!" Symon yells. Surely Roberts is enjoying the peace of being let at liberty for the evening. There is the sound of the latch, which would not have survived much battering from Étienne anyway, and Symon pulls the door open slightly, but not all the way. He has retreated to the bed where he has wound himself in all the blankets, pulling them over his head. He seems to be kneeling in a sort of huddled lump. His face would be sticking out except that he currently has the bedclothes pulled up and over it like a hood.

Étienne eyes him and then comes quietly to sit on the edge of the bed, "I am sorry I scared you, sweet." Gently he lifts the blanket edge so he might kiss his nose, "Might I bring you some wine? Or some sweetmeats?"

Symon does not seem entirely all right. At best he is rattled. He shakes his head, which occasions some flapping of the bedclothes. "N-no, I'll v…v…vomit," he predicts.

Étienne nods slowly, "Would you like me to rub your shoulders or your back? You never did tell me how your meeting with the Chalasse girl went."

Symon huddles down further onto the bed, turning away form Étienne. It is hard not to see a certain resemblance with the slugs he has discovered the frog eats. "P-p-please…" he says, but is that 'please do' or 'please do not?' It is difficult to tell. The pile of bedclothes squirms a bit.

<FS3> Étienne rolls Presence: Failure. (2 1 2)

Étienne very gently tries to loosen the blankets enough around Symon's head to stroke his hair and start rubbing his neck. In his terrible off key voice he attempts to sing À la Claire Fontaine in the tones of lullaby.

Symon might be crying. If he is, he is attempting to conceal it with bedclothes and being very still. Or perhaps he is being still because he does not feel he can do anything else at the moment. It is hard to know; he does not communicate well. At length, he says, "M…m…my heart is s-seizing up." He says it more glumly than with alarm, muffled slightly by blankets.

Étienne bends to kiss Symon's ear. His voice really is calm and soothing now, "You've had a fright is all. You'll be all right, sweet. I truly am sorry. I let my own fear infect you. I'll be more careful in future."

"I c…an't get sssick," Symon says. Étienne will surely feel as he bends over Symon that he is breathing hard. Ordinarily his feelings are relatively easy to manage, he is quickly distracted or soothed. But just now he is proving more trouble than usual.

Étienne kisses his cheek, warm hands rubbing his neck and shoulder, "You won't, sweet. Roberts has said so and he would know. You'd have fallen sick by now if you were going to. There are many ships in the harbour. We can go to the healer to be checked tomorrow if you like, but you are safe, you are safe."

"You don't understand," Symon complains. But maybe he will relent. "Yes, I w…want the healer tom…orrow," he says. "R…Roberts does n…not know anything; he is a ser…servant." A long pause. "I do n…not like you to see…to see me l…l…"

Étienne another kiss to his ear tip, "We will go together." His tone is fond, "Roberts's brother does know. Men who make their living from the docks pay attention to these things and Roberts has a very precise sort of mind." He brushes curls from Symon's face, "I won't think less of you tomorrow for having seen your distress tonight, distress I caused. If you really do want me to go, I will, but wouldn't you rather I read to you, or curl up with you so you don't need to be alone with it?"

Symon lies still to consider this. After a long moment, he shifts, awkward in his wrapped blankets, and lies across Étienne's lap instead. "You w…will, though," he argues. "You w…won't just forget. I never really… I never really used to have cowardice like this. P-people think I am w…weak b-by nature b-but…oh, I don't w…want to talk about it."

Étienne goes back to stroking his hair, "You aren't weak, sweet. You are incredibly strong. You persevere when others give up. You are kind where they are cruel. Those are not signs of weakness, but of strength." Those big blue eyes are so terribly sincere. He is concerned much the way he would be if Symon had flu or a particularly bad hangover, but there is no pity to be found in his face, only that concern and his real fondness.

Symon heaves out a sigh looking at Étienne's blue eyes. "Can w…we just go to bed?" he asks. "I w…will b-be b…better in the m…morning." Provided he doesn't die in his sleep. "I…have things to talk about still." But it doesn't seem possible to have a normal conversation tonight. "After the healer, surely…"

Étienne bends to kiss his cheek, "Let me get our shoes off, and then I'll hold you until we sleep."

"No, I…I can do it," Symon says, unwrapping his blanket cocoon slowly so that he can get to his boots and remove them. He places them neatly by the foot of the bed, which he hardly ever bothers to do. "I'm not sick," he says firmly.

Étienne removes his own boots, "Of course you aren't sick, sweet. Remember? I checked you for fever. It's a good night for staying in, what with the rain and damp."

Symon squints a little at Étienne, and maybe he looks suspicious or dissatisfied in some way. But he turns to untangle the bedsheets and make the bed up properly again. "Just…if w-we could forget how I w…wasn't myself," he proposes half-heartedly, suspecting there will be no real forgetting.

Étienne nods, "Of course." He rolls his eyes, "Symon, It's fine. It really really is." He gives him a dimpled smile and a gentle kiss. He really does seem to think this is something that will all look less dire after a good sleep, not some world ending catastrophe.

Symon nods quickly, nudging his face lightly against Étienne's. "You understand," he says, to convince both of them. It is of course the opposite of what he said a few minutes ago. He gets into the bed and lies down on his side, letting out a long breath.

Étienne pulls off his tunic and curls around Symon like he is the shell and Symon the walnut. "Would you like me to tell you about my day? I saw a tiny greenish monkey on a leash in the market doing tricks for coin." His tone is light and his natural buoyancy has reasserted itself.

Symon nods his head lightly. "W…why was it greenish?" he says. He cannot help but be curious about that, though his own tone is not quite usual. Still, he is back to breathing normally and surely feeling better than he seemed to minutes ago.

Étienne says, "Their fur apparently grows that way. Parts of it were rather orange too. It would leap about and do a little dance for food." Heeyes the back of symon's head, "We are not getting one. They can piss a geyser."

"Orange," Symon repeats softly. "They are bringing stranger and stranger things from the foreign shores. B-but I do not w…want any m-monkeys, they are too like p…people." Or maybe this is just his current cautious and sullen mood speaking. By next week, he might want two. He holds on to Étienne's arm.

Étienne nuzzles him gently, "Far too much like people and I think we should keep to one pet at a time."

"All right," Symon agrees softly. "Only the frog isn't really m…mine, you see, it's Catherine's…" but he lets this argument trail off in favor of sleep, real or feigned.

Étienne is firm, "One at a time, regardless of whose pet it is."

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