Cremsden hadn’t been kidding about the teething baby. But he also hadn’t quite been expecting this either.
He’d thought the Creche lady was looking a little fraught when he came to collect Arden. The sound of the boy howling had set up instant alarm drums (never ever far where Cremsden was concerned when the baby was in the Creche) but she had assured him that no, everything was fine, it was just maybe probably likely those teeth were coming through. At least Arden had settled to a low grizzle once Cremsden was holding him, though he was still looking pink-cheeked and generally upset with the world.
He stayed grizzling as long as Cremsden held him. The whimpers turned up to an ear-splitting yell however if he even considered putting the baby down. Bitey was considering the baby with a newfound respect - anything which could make that amount of noise had earned it - when Cuylar arrived.
"Oh," said Cuylar as he saw Cremsden. "Uh oh. Looks like somebody's face hurts," he added softly with a sad face for the baby. "How are we doing?" he asked.
“I think it’s just teething. Do you think it’s just teething?” All of Cremsden’s Healer instincts seemed to get overridden by this one time I saw a baby something awful happened to when it came to his own son. He examined his small son anxiously. “No fever.”
"Well, that was what I assumed," said Cuylar with a gentle smile. "If there's no fever, it isn't likely to be much else, is it?" He was no childhealer, but he knew the basics. And he had even learned a bit of what he knew firsthand from Arden.
"You look worse off than he does."
“Well, I hate it when he’s ill,” Cremsden admitted. “And it looks like we’re going to have a fun night. I suspect staying over will not be something you want to do.” He jogged the baby gently, soothing him back down to whimpers. “And-- shards, I was coming with you wasn’t I? Fe--uh.” He swallowed the curse before it could escape.
"He's gonna be OK; he'll forget all about it. You, on the other hand…" Cuylar gave Cremsden a sympathetic smile. "I guess we'll just have to arrange another witness. Any ideas on who I should ask?"
“Ugh. Let me think. Stick the klah pot on?” Cremsden requested. “It’s not that I can’t do it with one hand, it’s just I worry he’ll snatch at something.” He carried Arden over to a chair, making vague soothing noises as he did. “C’mon kiddo, just grow them a bit faster and you’ll feel much better.”
"You don't have to apologize for asking me to put the klah on," Cuylar chuckled. He put the pot on to boil and then joined Cremsden while he waited for the steamy whistling.
“OK. I’d go for young and female, they seem less likely to scare him off,” Cremsden said after a moment’s thought. “And not one of the Candidates, there’s too much risk he’d get jumpy at that I think. Find Aru or Alyx I’d say. You know what you’re doing?”
"I always feel like I'm winging it, Cremsden," Cuylar laughed. "What advice do you have? This isn't a great time for me to mess things up." He would probably ask Alyx to come with him, but if Cremsden had pointers…
“Okay.” He sat forward a little, still rocking Arden, trying to keep his voice in that soothing cadence as he spoke. “You’re basically documenting, yeah? Tch, tch, no crying, hush now-- it might not be needed but if it’s who you think it is-- sshh shh then -- then he’s from Fort and he’s a sneaky old bu.. Eh, a sneaky old man so you want to cover your back in case it gets political.”
Cuylar nodded. Covering his back should have been second nature after Fort, but being at Arolos for so long had brought back some of his more trusting nature from before.
"So, once the two of us have both seen it, we go to K'ren? Or what? He did ask me not to tell. He's not going to be any less worried about retaliation than before, so if I go anywhere, we need to be sure that it's actually going to result in him returning to retirement."
“Write it up first. Everything you can, every single mark, every detail of how bad it is -- shells, draw a diagram if you can,” Cremsden said, rubbing circles in his son’s back. “Get whoever you have with you to read it and initial every part - and do me a favour and make sure they read it. They’re incredibly trusting when they’re still wet behind the ears.”
Cuylar nodded. He should have done all that the first time. It sounded like something a journeyman ought to have thought of. But it was still the same day. It would not have healed any more since the morning.
"Alright. I'll let him know that I'm going to be keeping track of how fast it's healing. For Healer reasons. I don't want him getting spooked over it. I don't think Alyx will mind going with me every time I see him… but then, I don't need to re-diagram it every time. I can just as easily tell him that's only once every seven days and do it again when they're back from the trip."
“Once is fine unless he adds marks.” Cremsden grimaced at that. “I’m hoping not, but..”
"Eesh. Faranth forbid," said Cuylar. "Well, I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for that. What else?" he asked.
“Once you’ve got that you take it to K’ren and it all starts being taken over by people who get paid more than you,” Cremsden said. “What you’re guarding against mostly is.. I’d bet on my last wineskin that the moment it goes in he’ll claim it wasn’t that bad. That he gave the boy a few gentle taps as a joke or something. They always do.”
"It was definitely quite a bit more than a few gentle taps," Cuylar nodded. "I… I should be better ready next time something like this happens to document it. I was too ready to let him go about his business because he didn't want anyone to tell what happened."
“It was your first time, you were a bit shocked.” Cremsden shrugged. “I’ll be honest, I might have a moment where I start moving automatically at that stuff now but.. I don’t particularly want you to get to that point. If cases here stay far and few between enough that you need refreshers.. Let’s not feel like changing that.”
"Right," Cuylar nodded. He appreciated the reassurance, but he was not going to let himself forget this. He was going to make it right, so there was no need to beat himself up about it.
"Can I get you anything?" he asked.
“Klah, if it’s brewed, please. We might need it tonight.” Arden seemed to be calming a touch but Cremsden suspected that wouldn’t last through putting it down. “Look, think about what you’re going to tell whoever you take. You need to give them a bit of warning not to freak out, but they’re there solely as a witness - to say “yes, what he says he saw was correct”. What you don’t want is to be accused of priming them in advance so they see what they expect to see.”
"Oh! Shells. Sorry." Cuylar returned to the klah pot and poured two mugs. "I'd forget my head if it wasn't screwed on, as they say…"
When he returned with the klah, he sat down, sipped, and nodded.
"So I won't tell them exactly what they're looking for. Just what you said. They're a witness, but keep a straight face."
“I mean, once you’re done, you can talk much more freely and underline confidentiality a few dozen times,” Cremsden said. “Not that I think you’ll have a problem with either of those two. They’re sensible kids.” And not exactly kids any more, but Cremsden had yet to notice that part.
"I understand." Cuylar nodded. He was almost as inclined to think of them as kids. After all, he was still just an apprentice himself, and he was in his 30s. "Want me to bring you anything back from the middle of nowhere?" he grinned.
Cremsden made a face “Magic sleepy baby powder? No wait. Can Elphith ask Margana to bring dinner up with her?”
"Of course," said Cuylar. "And she likes you enough that she won't even complain." He chuckled. "And I hate to leave so soon, but I probably should have her get started on that now so that I'm done with my klah by the time she makes it up."
“Good luck then.” Cremsden offered. “If all else fails, remember there’s always a mysterious fever.”
"I'll keep it in my back pocket," Cuylar promised.