Cuylar knocked on Cremsden's office door and then let himself in once he was sure Cremsden was there.
"Hey. Do you have a minute?" he asked.
“Sure.” The office wasn’t as completely packed with firelizards as it used to be but there were still half a dozen placed around shelves and desk. “Only writing up notes,
nothing exciting. Are we on a klah break or is it work?”
"It's work," said Cuylar with an apologetic grimace. "But I'll pour you a mug if you like." He walked to pour one for himself.
"I saw a Candidate for a checkup because they'd been sent for something to help them sleep. Skittish as a whipped puppy when I tried to take their pulse."
“Oof.” And Cremsden set down his pen, turning in his chair to give Cuylar his full attention. “You think there’s problems?”
"Oh, I know there's problems," said Cuylar as he sipped his klah. "They've got trouble sleeping, I reckon, due to anxiety. And not a little bit due to an injury. Lashes on their palm. I've heard quite a bit of the story of how they came about, but I promised to be judicious in who I told and how. The patient is afraid of retaliation."
Cremsden winced at that, hand coming up to cover his eyes a moment. “Well.. feck,” he said bluntly. “Home life or here?”
"Here," said Cuylar. "And to a lesser extent, also home life. Now that you mention it. When it comes to that part, we likely couldn't be more different, but when it comes to here? I see a lot of myself in the kid. I offered to apprentice them, you know – you should be proud."
“Feck’em,” Cremsden sighed deeply. “Sharding bastards can spot a kid who’s started off miserable a mile off. Like someone already started doing their work for them. So, you’re here to tell me I get a new kid then?” He reached for a new piece of paper now, ready for details. “Don’t worry, I don’t know anything.”
"He said he didn't think Healing was for him," said Cuylar. "But he thinks every Candidatemaster is out to get him. He never said the one who gave him the lashes, but you can bet his eyes lit up and went wide when I told him about a certain Candidatemaster I once knew."
Cuylar sighed and sipped more.
"He's swamped with work he doesn't feel like he can finish, and he took the lashes in return for being allowed to go on the Candidates' little camping trip. I told him I would bring his sleeping medicine to him there and then once he gets back, I want him in for a sleep study. Mainly because I think if he has a safe space, he won't have as much trouble nodding off – it has to be the anxiety."
“If he gives you anything to concern you after the trip, he has a fever,” Cremsden said flatly. “You’re quarantining him out of concern for-- no shardit, that won’t work, kid’ll want to stand, feck--” And for a moment he went off into a string of distinctly unHealer-like curses that had Bitey sitting up and looking at him as though trying to remember them for later use.
"Calm down, calm down. He can't Stand. They've already determined that he's not fit for it this time around," said Cuylar, waving his hand at Cremsden to interrupt the tirade. "So it will work. And I'll keep that in my back pocket. Now, I think he would be willing to drop out of the Candidacy all together if not for the other half of that equation. He's meant to Inherit his father's hold. Except it seems neither one of them really wants to."
"The father has the boy convinced he's stupid, and I think he thinks sending him to Stand is just about the only way to get rid of him without it looking strange to his people," Cuylar explained. "And the boy is sure that if he's no longer Standing, he'll have to go home. I thought maybe if we, ah… faked a certain groinular kind of injury and convinced Father that he can't have an heir of his own, that might serve as well. What do you think?"
“Unless the man actively doesn’t want the boy to inherit, I think you’ll lose your career when he starts looking for a specialist,” Cremsden said frankly. “You’ve not worked in Holds much, have you?”
"Ah, not apart from when you took me up to help with the clinic," Cuylar admitted. He had not considered that the boy's father might look for a second opinion. "Do you think he would have let him come to the weyr if he did want him to Inherit?" he asked. "It sounds like he's spared no expense when it comes to tutors, but if he's let him come here, it feels like he's giving up."
Not that Cuylar especially wanted to risk his career on a hunch.
Cremsden sighed. “Hard to tell without actually meeting the man. Might be he wants rid of him, might be he doesn’t believe the kid will Impress but wants the Weyr to crush that dream rather than him so he’ll come back and settle down properly.” He raked a hand through his hair a moment. “Okay, shall we deal with one issue at a time?”
"That's the best way to do it, isn't it?" said Cuylar. There was definitely a reason he brought his harebrained schemes to Cremsden before trying to singlehandedly implement them.
“Okay. I assume Father’s arrival at the Weyr isn’t imminent so let’s prioritise. Tell me what-- tell me what you want me to know and I swear to you I’ll forget it the moment we leave this room,” Cremsden offered.
"Well, obviously, M'ayen has chosen this kid as his Example." Cuylar folded his arms. "The one he cracks down on so everyone else knows he's serious? He doesn't seem to want to be a Candidate all that much, he thinks he's not smart enough to do much else, and he's going to have a nervous breakdown if nothing changes."
Cremsden looked at him a moment, just looked, seeming to be searching for words. “Cuylar,” he said after a moment, tone quiet and careful. “Tell me you’ve got a witness to this who isn’t you. Someone who’s seen those marks. An apprentice will do.”
"I sent him out of here with his hand cleaned and bandaged," said Cuylar. "But he barely let me see it and demanded I not tell anyone before he would. I'll be seeing him again tonight before bed. Should I have him show it to Elphith? She couldn't lie if a gold asked her what she had seen."
“I..don’t know,” Cremsden admitted. “I’ve never used a dragon for a witness for anything before. Might be they’d argue she’s picking memories out of your head and your perception would be influenced by.. Well.” He hesitated. “I’m tempted to tell you to hand me something to sign and I’ll agree I’ve seen it but I’m not sure it’ll pass.”
"They'll ask him to confirm it without giving us a chance to get the story straight," said Cuylar. "I offered to introduce him to Elphith after class. Meet him there with me, and you can see it. If he'll show you."
“Think he will, or do I look too terrifying?” Cremsden asked. “Last time I had to do this--” because there had been a last time, which implied there were other times before that “--I snagged one of the younger looking female Senior Apprentices. Alyx I think it was, or maybe Aru.”
"You don't look any more terrifying than I do…" Cuylar pointed out. "But sending a woman might not go amiss. He's bound to realize I told if I go bringing extra witnesses I barely know. But maybe if I bring you, I can say I needed you to take a second look to approve the sleeping medicine."
Cremsden considered it and nodded slowly. “If he seems nervous about it, back off,” he cautioned. “This’ll go easier if you have back up, but if he’s trusting you right now -- it’s not worth screwing that up.”
"I agree," said Cuylar. "I don't know what I said to convince him, other than that I was a Candidate once in the same position… But that didn't work very well the last time I tried it, so maybe it was something else."
Cremsden shrugged. “Sometimes it’s just the right tone of voice at the right moment when they need to hear it. Don’t question it too much. The important thing is that right now he’s listening to you.”
Cuylar nodded. "And I mean to do my best to see this doesn't happen again, of course. It would all be much easier if his parents were Healers who would absolutely love to hear he had come back to the Infirmary, eh? But of course, we're not that lucky."
“Mmm.” Cremsden glanced up at his face at that. “I know you won’t want me to. But-- you want a drink after this?”
"I'll be OK," said Cuylar. "I hate to drink in front of you, anyway. Not very fair, is it? I can't save everyone, but for now, I'm not going to assume the worst about this one."
“Come over anyway,” Cremsden offered. “Margana’s got drills so I’ve got Arden but.. Baby cuddles improve a lot of things I find, and he smells really good when he’s not smelling awful.”
Cuylar smiled and nodded.
"I'll take you up on that. It'll be easier that way, anyway. I can say we were already together when it was time for me to take the boy his medicine."
“You could stay over if you wanted, but we’ve been pacing the floor in the early hours the last couple of days so it might not be all that restful,” Cremsden admitted, reluctant to leave Cuylar on his own after a bad day but also realistic. “Teeth. Or just he’s feeling grumpy. One of those two things.”
"We'll play it by ear," said Cuylar. He appreciated the offer, but if he really needed a warm body in his bed, he had a few options… and they would all sleep through the night.
“Okay. Let’s see if we can get this logged and documented first then,” Cremsden said. “Then you can worry about the rest of the kid’s life.”