It had been a gradual return to work for Cremsden, from being allowed to tuck himself back away in the office here and there to seeing a few patients - the ones who really needed knowledge he just happened to hold in his head - and now he was just about ready to start working his way up to more.
Help with the baby hadn’t really been optional any more. He’d not been well enough to do it, Margana had taken the baby to the office as much as she could and sometimes they’d needed help. And no-one had died. Except Cremsden, nearly, that one time.
He was looking much better than he had; perhaps some weight lost still to that whole episode but that was to be expected. He stopped - as he always did - to grab klah on the way to K’ren’s office and ‘knocked’ with a foot.
“Come in,” K’ren called out. “Doors open.” He was sitting reviewing some records and looked up and smiled as he came in. “Cremsden, good to see you.”
“Brought klah.” He’d brought Bitey too, or rather the blue firelizard had brought himself, unwilling still to let his accident-prone human wander too far without him. He set the mugs down on the desk before he sat.
“Ah, you know how to score points,” K’ren said. “Basically, I thought it might be a good idea to see how you are getting on now you are back in the Infirmary working. It’s probably something I ought to do with everyone coming back to work after an injury. I might make it a protocol.”
“Yes sir.” And if it was ‘sir’ rather than name, Cremsden had him firmly in manager rather than friend mode. If he was lucky he might be ‘K’ren’ by the end of the conversation.
He sipped on his klah and raised an eyebrow. “So….this is your cue to tell me about how you feel you are getting on?” he said. “How do you think things are going? This isn’t a test, I genuinely want to know.”
“First sevenday I probably slept three hours for every hour I was in,” Cremsden admitted. “Now though-- it’s getting better. Maybe not quite full-speed better, but I’m mostly awake at least.”
“Okay. Do you need to do more of a…” K’ren thought trying to find the words, “...staggered return? Build up a little more gently to full time? Better to take it a little slower now at the outset than jeopardise things.”
Cremsden considered that a moment, reaching a hand to pet the firelizard on his shoulder. “I think as long as the regular shifts are regular shifts, and maybe I avoid the night shift for now it should be okay,” he said. “It’s when something blows up and the regulars start being doubles it gets dicey.”
“We can build up to that sort of thing, but realistically we are fully staffed right now,” K’ren said. “For once in our lives, so we can definitely do that. I’m going to need you to tell me if it is too much.”
“I know the routine by now.” Cremsden smiled faintly at that. “I want back near the apprentices as part of my duties,” he added firmly. “They’ll be coming in with a Clutch due.”
“You think you can deal with their nonsense?” K’ren said with a faint smile in return. “They are not exactly the most restful of duties.”
“I like their nonsense.” The smile widened to a grin now. “At least when they’re idiots I can convince myself they’ll grow out of it.”
make things easier?
“Other than letting me keep them locked in here when the dragons start humming?” Cremsden joked and thought a moment. “Would you mind scheduling me with Cuylar where possible? I know he works shorter shifts because of Elphith but he’s only waiting for the Hall stamp now to get his Journeyman knots and we work well together.”
“Again an easy enough request,” he said. “I’ll make a note.” He scribbled it down as a note to himself - a lot of the others didn’t like the apprentices duty any way.
“Thanks.” They were clearly on good terms again; the ‘sir’ had been dropped at some point in the conversation. Bitey shifted on his shoulder, and he reached automatically to settle the blue. “Is there more stuff you have to go through?” he asked. “Only if not there’s something I’d like to ask you about.”
“I think that’s it,” K’ren said with a smile. “It’s the first one I’ve done and I think that covers it. What did you want to ask?”
“Well,” Cremsden started. “Tyne came for a chat while I was out about this fellow.” He would have indicated the firelizard but Bitey took his own action, scrambling rather gracelessly down from Cremsden’s shoulder to flop on the desk. Far easier for Cremsden to pet him that way. “Now, I’d swear to you that I don’t hear a thing from him - shells, I barely hear dragons when they’re trying their best to get me to hear them - but she reckons I’m catching more than I think.”
“Okay…” K’ren said leaning forward a little. “Why does she think that if you believe you don’t get anything?”
“From what I gather, this guy more or less told her so.” Cremsden grinned ruefully. “Sounds like they’ve been having a few talks while I was out for the count. Seems like half the time I think to go refill the food bowl it’s because there’s a fair of firelizards telling me to that I didn’t know I was hearing.”
“You are maybe not hearing on the conscious level then..” K’ren considered the idea. He’d had dragon nightmares before, not knowing who they came from. “That’s...probably possible actually. Dragon’s can certainly bypass the conscious.”
“Mm. Apparently I’m viewed as a strangely slow to learn hatchling who is nevertheless fairly useful.” Cremsden was petting the firelizard as he talked, absent-mindedly rubbing a hand down his back. Even as he did so, Bitey twisted his head, caught Cremsden’s fingers gently between his teeth, and repositioned them before settling again. “Anyway, I’d known for a while that if I’m-- I don’t know, a bit edgy, he tends to snap me out of it a bit. Grab my fingers or my ear so I’m paying attention to him.”
“Hmm. Well that explains the Bitey part of his name and nature. He’s just been trying to get through to you,” K’ren said. “However it does mean one thing - you’re not actually dragon deaf if you are subconsciously picking up on things.”
“That was rather her point,” Cremsden agreed. “Apparently what he’s been telling her at least I tend to eh, listen better if-- well, if I’ve had a drink or two. Or when I’m very very tired. She thinks I’m sticking a wall up there and then if I think I’m trying to listen I’m ramming my head against it rather than taking it down.”
“So what are you asking?” K’ren said. “It’s fascinating, but what are you wanting to do about it?”
“Well, ideally, I’d prefer to keep my ears intact in future.” It had healed relatively well, if you called still having two ears well, but that one ear was always going to be a mess of scar tissue. “I don’t blame him. They were trying to warn me and I wasn’t listening. But-- we probably need a plan that doesn’t involve me bleeding for the future and she thought you might have suggestions on listening better. Other than being constantly blind drunk, which probably won’t pass.”
“Probably not. It’s likely to be something trauma related unless you took a head injury at some point int the past?” K’ren said considering the infamous incident when he’d been struck by lightning and lost his Hears All abilities for a few months.
Cremsden considered that. “Not that I remember. Managed a few other injuries here and there but I think my head’s been more or less safe.” Trauma though. Had there been a time at Fort when he’d been able to hear more? Hard to remember in retrospect.
“WHen did you get Bitey again?” K’ren asked. He had suspicions about the main source of dragon related trauma in Cremseden’s life in general.
There was a pause while Cremsden thought about it. “Well, I know Master Kregg was here, because he named him,” he said after a moment. “A good few turns ago. Wasn’t living with Margana back then, can’t have been because the cage I had him in at first was enormous.”
“So whatever happened predated that,” K’ren said. “Not likely to be something traumatic about flits even here in Arolos so I’m going to go with dragons. There’s pretty much one main source of that I think, though the trigger point only you would know.”
“Chances are it was at Fort, in which case,” Cremsden shrugged a little. “Take your pick as to a trigger really.” His voice was calm and matter-of-fact enough, though he was still fussing over Bitey, letting his fingers use that as the outlet for any nervous fidgety energy.
K’ren paused a little. “Let’s just look at what the block is. It specifically blocks contact by draconics. Why would your mind decide this is a good thing for you?”
“Faranth.” Cremsden released a long breath and thought about it. On the desk, Bitey shifted just a touch, keeping a watchful eye on his owner. “Well. Strictly speaking I guess I would have scraped into Impression age at the start of being sent over there.”
“You were worried about Impressing at Fort?” K’ren said and nodded. “I can see that as the issue...but if it is then the solution has already happened. You are no longer in that age bracket.”
“Would you have wanted to Impress at Fort?” Cremsden asked pointedly. “I mean, not that I ever wanted to anyway. I was always-- eh, from about ten Healer was what I was going to be, you know?” He shrugged. “So, the question is how to get the inside of my head to believe it’s safe.”
“Insofar as this fellow is managing to creep in, you mean?” Cremsden ran a fond hand down Bitey’s back. “Not that I’m sure he’d appreciate it long if I did hear him better. I might start refusing some of the snack requests.”
“I think, the first thing you could try is to try and make contact with Bitey when you are very relaxed,” K’ren suggested. “He understands a fair amount so ask him to try and talk to you when you are..maybe just waking up? One good contact and the barrier will drop I think.”
“And if it doesn’t work, there’s always the getting drunk method as option B,” Cremsden said, only half-joking.
“Well yes, but I was trying not to encourage too much of that in general,” K’ren said with a faint smile. “Chances are you wouldn’t remember what you were doing.”
“I’ll give it a go. Not that I’d like too many dragons trying to chat to me, but besides protecting my ears from this fellow occasionally it might be nice if they would say whatever they’re needing to say and then hush up rather than keeping trying while I’m concentrating,” Cremsden admitted.
“If you hear them the first time, they won’t keep shouting like you are an old uncle,” K’ren said. “See how it goes.”
“I’ll give it a go and let you know how it goes,” Cremsden promised. “Did you need me for anything else?”
“No, just I’d like to know how you get on,” K’ren said. “I’ll keep thinking of other ideas in the meantime.”
Blackadder: I mean, what about the people that do all the work?
Baldrick: The servants.
Blackadder: No, me; *I'm* the people who do all the work.