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Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ardette & The Nadelmanns)


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Mree Posted: Feb 11 2015, 07:53 PM
--tap, tap, tap, tap--

Ardette winces and flinches away from the sound. She wants to pull her blankets higher onto her cheek but her arms are leaden and she cannot move. She is still for a long moment and so is the air, devoid of sound again, and Ardette's mind melts against the warm, smooth surface of that silence and lets sleep overcome her agai--

--tock, tock, tock, tock--

She groans, long and labored. The sound drags her to wakefulness like she is mud at the bottom of its shoe, and truly that's what she feels like. Every inch of her aches. Her head throbs with pressure. Her mouth tastes of stale sick. She doesn't know where she is at first. She remembers falling asleep in her chair, but not how or when she got upstairs, or even how she got under her covers. She remembers moss, and she remembers a dark wood, and a bloodied arrow, but that must have all been a dream. A dream... She feels herself sinking through sand again, too exhausted to resist...

--THUD, THUD, THUD, THUD--

The timid, knuckled knocking has escalated to panicked, full-fisted thumping on her door and Ardette drags herself to sitting, trying to blink the sleep from her eyes. The light that streams in from her windows is searing and cuts right into her brain. She groans again and rubs her eyes. Damn. What time is it?

"Frau Bombaerts? Frau Bombaerts, are you there?"

A high, young, (panicked!) muffled voice calls from outside and for a moment Ardette is baffled. Who would be bothering her at this hour on a Sunday? The rusted gears of her thoughts clink together and slowly grind to spinning, and she realizes--

Merde!

--it's not Sunday.

Ardette throws off her covers and launches herself to standing in a blind panic, but almost immediately she staggers and catches herself on her doorframe. The pain comes a moment later, in a stab that's sharper than even the sunlight. Oh, right. Damn. She remembers her ankle, now, too.

"C-mi-g--!" she calls, but her voice is gone, reduced to nothing but air. She coughs and it rattles. She sniffs and... can't. Zut alors.

It's an arduous journey, making her way down the stairs, trying to hop on one foot while supporting herself on trembling arms. She limps past the fireplace, now nothing more than glowing embers, and she throws her shawl over her shoulders before opening the door.

Her Library page - a quiet, skittish girl in her teens - stares up at her like she's seen a ghost. And in her defense, she may as well have. Ardette's eyes are sunken and purple-rimmed and her cut shows prominently against a waxy, pale face. Ardette's hair is matted on one side, where she laid down and didn't move a muscle all night and all morning. Seeing Frau Bombaerts looking anything but the very picture of neatness and efficiency must be a harbinger of disaster. The world is ending, clearly.

"I-I-I-- y-you--" the girl stammers. Her cheeks are flushed and it's obvious she ran here. Finally she blurts out, "You'renotdead!"

Ardette blinks at her. No, evidently not.

The page thrusts a finger down the lane, in the general direction of the Library. "The Library is locked!" she wails. "I went and you weren't there and the doors were locked and people were waiting and I didn't know what to do."

By the first sentence, Ardette is already reaching for her coatrack, moving slowly as though in a fog, and she rummages through her coat pockets for her keyring.

"'Oo's waiting?" Ardette says, and her voice creaks in protest like an old door hinge. She flips through her keyring until she finds her master key, and she starts to work it free.

Her page watches the key with apprehension; what is she doing with that? Giving it to her? Has she gone mad? "Friedrich and Frau Wahl and..." The girl prattles off the names of townsfolk that Ardette couldn't care less about, "--and the Spaniard," she says, and then meekly adds: "And me."

Ardette nods absently. Her reference librarian, circulation librarian, Santiago - of course, that man ought to be a bloody employee for the amount of time he spends there - and her page. Her poor page, who so earnestly wants to do a good job at everything she does, who could have left and become a milkmaid when the scourge Bombaerts took over as Library director. But the girl stuck it out. It's a shame that kind of passion is rarely rewarded in a town like Streitstadt.

"You d-d the r-ght thing, comi-g to find me," Ardette rasps, forcing her wretched voice. She hands her the master key, and the girl takes it in both hands like a religious relic. But she's met with a tug of resistence; Ardette won't let go of the key just yet. "T-ke this, -pen the Library. Th-n you give -t to Frau Wahl -nd tell 'er to exp-ct me. 'Ll be there soon. Do not lose this. -nderstood?"

Even though nasally and hoarse, the girl pays Ardette rapt attention, and nods. Ardette rewards her by letting go of the key, and sending her off. She leans heavily against her doorjamb and watches the girl's braids bounce as she runs down the lane.

It's going to be a long day.

In a short time, she's dressed and ready. A splash of cold water on her face shocks her into alertness, and she tries to pin her hair up but is frustrated to find that she can only lift her arms over her head for a few seconds at a time before the strain becomes too much on her muscles. She settles for a long, thick braid that drapes over her shoulder, and as she weaves each strand - one, two, three, one, two, three - she wonders what happened in those blank spaces in her memory. Does she want to know? Could she bear it?

Her ankle is too swollen to fit into her slender heeled boots, so Ardette settles for her winter boots, leaving one of them loosely unlaced. Slowly, wincing at her aching joints, Ardette pulls on her coat. Christ, it's still cold, still damp on the inside from last night. She should have put it close to the hearth, spread over her chair. But the only thing Ardette had the mind to do last night was prop The Economic Consequences of the Peace on its side, pages splayed open, to be dried by the heat of the fire. She glowers at it.

That stupid goddamned bloody book.

She slings her gun over her shoulder and, leaving The Economic Consequences of the Peace alone to think about what it's done, she departs.

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 11 2015, 08:53 PM
Montag. Not a favourite in William's books.

A whole week(end) wasted trying to make the apothecary look like an apothecary again. Or at least get the front parlor orderly enough to do its job serving clientele. A long table serving as a sort of shop-front and storage breaks the back end of the room nearly in two. Well, it's a start, a decent variety of ingredients - Enough to keep going until the greenhouse is pruned and productive, anyway. William tch's and wonders idly why the previous owner thought it so clever to leave some of the deeper-stored things unlabeled. Maybe he spent the family savings on the damn store sign hanging over the door.


"What are you talking about?" Isaac asks, stoking the small stove with enough wood to forget it's winter temporarly. He's still wrapped up for the cold outside.

William was unaware he'd spoken any of his thoughts out loud, peering inside some dusty glass jar as if ignoring his brother.

"Nothing? Nothing important." He knows better than to debate about removing the sign again. Not so soon after losing last round. Seeing no alternative he sniffs the leafy whatever it is, one eye wincing shut in expectation of being told explicitly not to do that.

No reprimand. Aaaand nothing burning. That's a success as far as Will's concerned! "Hey, we have even more dried peppermint. Not sure if we need... Isaac? Hmh." Probably gone to fetch water now that the stove's warming up. The smell of wood smoke does a lot for the place... Will takes a look out the front window, wondering if anybody out there will even bother to come by, what with how superstitious everyone is. Sign or not, somebody dies, everybody goes hush. An odd rhythm to get used to in this town. If it doesn't leave you broke or dead. Weird.

He sets to work writing up more labels and inevitably getting ink all over his left hand, trying to procrastinate as much as possible. He'd much rather be doing work making these preparations, not labelling them. Isaac had a far neater hand for it, usually. He's probably talking out loud again. No matter. The window view of people making their way from the poorer side of town toward the market was far better entertainment than watching ink dry, and none of them can hear him. A patient trickle of people, all going at their own paces ... well...

"Hmm," he frowns thoughtfully. That one evidently isn't getting anywhere in a hurry. He's seen her, but can't place where. He looks back about the room, listening. Nope, Isaac's still out back too. William decides to watch for another moment, the window being so cluttered with dried goods that it's very unlikely she'll see him. Not with the scowl she's giving the general vicinity ahead of her. She doesn't move like somebody who's had a leg problem for very long at all.

He probably watches far longer than is helpful, but Isaac is still fussing with something out back. He looks outside, she's quite close now. He looks to the stove. Secure enough, warm enough, too damn bad. He hoists himself upright with his own crutch and swings the front door open.

"Frau-" the cold hits his face like an insult. "-Ehh, Dame! Hier!" No coat, shoes too thin and shallow for this time of year. He doesn't care, she looks worse than he does after a night at Die Forelle. "You look like you need help."

Mree Posted: Feb 12 2015, 04:32 PM
Ardette is halfway there. A walk that normally takes her ten minutes at a brisk pace has taken her more than twenty, and with a sprained ankle and no crutch, her walking stick born by and lost in the Knochenwalde all in the same day, it's one of the longest twenty minutes of her life.

But Ardette Bombaerts has never missed a day of work and she will not today.

She hobbles her slow way into town, counting every excruciating stepLIMP--!, stepLIMP--!, stepLIMP--! with a grimace of determination. It's a pathetic jumble of purpose and futility. Why would she even bother going into work today? Because what else would she do? Can't she not be Library Director for one day? No, because if she's not that, what is she? Streitstadt is a culture of forced absolutes in this way, and she feels a bit like Sisyphus, pushing that boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, knowing that, whether she likes it or not, she will run down and do it all again.

"Frau--! Ehh, Dame! Hier!"

At first, she doesn't realize that the shouting is directed towards her, probably to some girl who unknowingly lost her mitten. Growing up a woman in the city, Ardette is used to being shouted at from the side of the road, and is used to shouting right back. Here, she's grown more used to conversations growing hushed, or mothers herding their little ones away, or being flat-out ignored. She glances at the man, and then does a bleary double-take. Oh. Her? No. Absolutely not. No, thank you. Not today.

"'S that an offer, or an -bservation?" she rasps, not stopping her determined stepLIMP--!, stepLIMP--! "B-cause neither are solicit-d, or -ppreciated. Good day."

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 12 2015, 04:55 PM
William seems unphased by the ease in which she shrugs him off. Like he's part of the problem. Well, for once, he isn't, so he takes a few steps and keeps pace. She's not going anywhere in a hurry, whether she believes otherwise or not.

"No, it's, it's business. My brother's a doctor." Honestly, with the pants she's wearing he's still undecided on exactly what she prefers to be called. He considers 'Herr' for a moment noting her height, but decides he'd rather not be slapped today.

He punctuates her stepLIMP--! with his own step-click-step triplets, breath in the air fogging his glasses momentarily. "How far are you even headed? You should at least get that looked at." Maybe her ears are as clogged-up as her voice? That or she's too busy focusing on her footsteps to look at him when he points back at his home.

It's an ad-hoc mix of home and storefront, but it looks enough like the latter to showcase that he's not a complete liar. Incapable of managing a sane, expected introduction, socially obnoxious, but not a liar. Sure enough, above the doorway is a sign designating it an apothecary. He hates that sign, but that's not important.

"Please?"

Mree Posted: Feb 12 2015, 06:48 PM
Please?

That single, simple, stupid word is the pebble that knicks her resolve and it cracks, just enough for Ardette to stop. She heaves a weary sigh and turns around; it's an awkward, clunky about-face, that has her grasping for the nearest post for balance. Momentum is a valuable commodity and she's irritated to have lost hers.

The man is... Well, he's tiny. And despite his beard and the silvery streak of hair snaking out from under his cap, his face is lively, smooth and young. Her eyes flit down to the Star of David around his neck and she wonders how she's never seen him before. She almost doesn't notice his crutch; he wears it with the same casual confidence that one would wear a hat.

He's different. And perhaps that's why she humors him. Not because she'll admit she might need help. Not at all.

"And you?" Ardette drawls. She sniffles and raises her hand to delicately cover her mouth with her wrist. She has enough pride to try to not be so damned obvious about being sick. "Your br-ther's a doctor, -nd what -re you? Herr..."

Her eyes flit up to the sign behind him - impossible to miss - and back down again.

"...Cross?"

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 12 2015, 07:23 PM
For a moment he expects her to continue turning down perfectly good help, when she decides to change her mind after all. A good thing too, because other than his hat he was wholly under-dressed for being outdoors. Sunlight might as well be damned, it wasn't doing an awful lot today. Her quick glance to the necklace he's wearing distracts him from his mental complaints. William has come to appreciate that little gesture people made. People always noticed that. The fact she doesn't comment on it is a testament to either her commitment to not caring, or the severity of her ill health. He'll take either if it means progress.

"Cross?"

People had yet to fail at noticing that one either.

He smiles hesitantly with a quick sigh, and his eyes flit away all in one temporary motion, "Erh. Not exactly. Nadelmann, William."

See, this is exactly what he was trying to tell Isaac about that damn sign. It doesn't help one's confidence as a relatively new arrival in town when you're assumed to be the late Herr Cross's son. Whoever he was. Probably charged so much nobody bothered with the name. Ugh. "That's... I'll explain that in a minute. I'm the chemist." Given she hasn't freaked out and declared him a vampire based on prematurely-pied hair or something equally ridiculous (like a deadly and possibly contagious case of Judaism), he has to assume she's one of the smarter folks around here. Hopefully the idea of sane medicine doesn't likewise scare her off. He steels himself easily with his crutch and offers his other hand to help her back to the apothecary with little to no idea how to be anything more than an arm-rest with their respective heights.

He wasn't about to start worrying now. If it gets too awkward he'll think of something. "If it's too much trouble, I'll go find my brother and get him out here. Let's say we at least get you out of this cold, ja?" his smile belies a certain excitement at the thought of being even vaguely helpful. He really must seem new here, given her not recognizing is face at all. She must not frequent the tavern like, ever.

Mree Posted: Feb 12 2015, 07:42 PM
Ardette leans away from his hand, for a moment repelled by the intensity of that grin. Perhaps it's like this morning's sunlight: bright and cheerful to someone who's well, harsh and manic to someone who's not. Whatever it is, Ardette can't help but feel like they're desperate for a customer, and that she might be their first.

It's almost enough to make her turn around and keep limping toward the Library.

She glances down the road. Frau Wahl was told to expect her. The Library hasn't operated a day without her since the day she took it over. She can only imagine what horrible, logistical knot she will be tasked with untying if she leaves it for too long. She opens her mouth, takes a tiny intake of breath with the intention of saying, no thank you...

...and immediately dissolves into a wet, rattling coughing fit. Well, damn.

She waves him off before he can even offer any more help, or ask a stupid question like, are you alright? Ignoring his kindly extended hand, Ardette plants one hand on the side of the building and limps toward the entrance.

"Bah, 'too much trouble,'" she grumbles. "I made -t this far, d-dn't I?"

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 12 2015, 08:03 PM
William eventually retracts the offered hand, watching her patiently wreck herself with more coughing, and an attempt at justification.

"Well, alright, just..." you know, being polite about it. He shrugs, and opens the door for her - well, and himself, his hands are already beginning to go numb. Cold door handle does not help at all.


"You left the door open again, William."

That simplifies matters, the younger brother thinks, now he doesn't have to toddle about looking for Isaac. "It's not an invitation anybody's going to abuse in broad daylight. Besides, you have a patient."


The older man stands taller, turning from the kettle he's fussing with when William mentions that he's about to let somebody walk right on in here. Same hair, similar face, none of the silly exuberance, like he's the sort to actually learn from his mistakes. "You should have come and told me first, I'd have come out sooner," he remarks, neither mad nor sounding to be in any particular rush. Isaac gestures to Will with a gentle flick of his head to stand aside and open the door wider, walking over so he can see what he's about to deal with. He'll know soon enough if they aren't human.

Mree Posted: Feb 12 2015, 08:22 PM
The heat from the stove washes over her the moment she steps inside, and already it makes the tips of her nose and cheeks burn. This is why she didn't want to come inside; it's going to be painful to leave.

Ardette straightens her posture too, and with the hand that isn't gripping the doorframe for support, she smooths down the front of her coat. It's been a long time since she was faced with this very particular brand of scrutiny - a physician's scrutiny - where one can't help but feel like they're being judged. She clears her throat and tips her head to Isaac in a terse 'hello.'

"You know, in the city they m-ke them wear signs," she says, in reference to the younger Nadelmann's aggressive street advertising.

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 12 2015, 08:48 PM
The image of William trapped in a sandwichboard warms Isaac's expression considerably. He likes this woman already. "Believe me, I'll remember that. I'm terribly sorry, he's chronically excitable in spite of his cleverness. William," he continues, before his brother can retort with anything besides a furrowed expression, "Why don't you go take a break from your work? I'll handle things from here."

William looks from the woman to Isaac, then to the kettle. "So come back with three mugs, then?"

Isaac merely shakes his head, then nods. Amused because yes, but he doesn't want to play social banter games with his brother during anything medical. One challenge at a time. Without further argument Will steps out of sight. Clearly, Isaac runs the household. Somehow. Perhaps someday he'll convince Will to actually take off his shoes in the house even when it's not important. ...one challenge at a time.

He gestures to the newcomer to take a seat in any of the chairs in the front parlour, which has had most of its bottled or dried herbal clutter confined to the wall behind that heavy wooden countertop at the far end. "I'm afraid we're still in mild disarray, we've only just moved in. Nevertheless, what can I help you with, Frau...?" his words were more calm in pace, genuine but slow to show concern. He could see her favouring one foot over the other, and the headcold he could hear from outside the door. Hmm. Definitely human. William may be daft, but at least he was also lucky.

Mree Posted: Feb 12 2015, 09:55 PM
Ardette looks around, studying the old wood and muted colors of the parlor, and the clutter of a business freshly unpacked. She cannot smell anything right now - she is too congested - but she'd bet money that she's surrounded by the earthy tang of medicinal herbs. It's strange, being in an apothecary and unable to smell it, like the peculiar sensation of watching silent films. Something is missing, and that lack of sensation is a sensation all on its own.

"Euh... Bombaerts," says.

It's strange that somebody doesn't know her name. Stranger still that they're polite about it. She grips the back of a chair in both hands, hesitant to sit down. Yes, very clever, asking her what he can help her with, as though Ardette sought him out. What can he help her with? The honest answer, is nothing. The true answer is the obvious. Christ, he's going to make her say it?

"Per'aps... just someth--g for my ankle," she says, and her voice still squeaks and pops, but the more she talks, the more it starts to come back, syllable by syllable. "I twisted it y-sterday, but now I must return to work."

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 13 2015, 03:40 PM
"Bombaerts... ahh, the librarian, if I've heard correctly?" He's heard a lot of things less appropriate to say during an introduction. Isaac can see it in her expression. How she tries to hide her tired body language, the evident inability to simply take an offered chair. She doesn't want to be here, why did William insist? She has some pride she'd like to cling to, and Isaac would rather not provoke that. Lots of people like that.

She gives him the basics of an explanation, and among the indeed headache-inducing array of odours in the room (for him, at least), something stands out - wet, stale like melted snow. Old earth and long-dead moss. It clung to her coat and hair like the Knochenwalde clings to the edges of Streitstadt. Too familiar. She seems determined and capable, considering how exhausted she looked. These and the cut on her face come together. A more detailed rendition of the story practically tells itself for her, but he simply nods and accepts her version for what it is while trying not to be obvious in his scrutiny.

"Always preferable to hear what the client has in mind than take my brother's word for it. He really shouldn't be pulling people in here like that. Regardless," he manages to imply a certain casualness alongside a sense of professionalism, the way he sits in his own chair, dressed well for someone who was only ten minutes ago hauling the firewood Claud had brought over. "I should be able to get that bandaged appropriately for it to bear some weight, enough to get through today at least. If you'd like."

Isaac's smile is courteously apologetic, he knows full-well she won't want him poking about with her injured foot, but unfortunately for the both of them that's exactly what he's going to have to ask. People never liked the answer even when they had asked for one. If she really insists against it then all the faster for everyone involved, if perhaps not the most advisable solution.

Mree Posted: Feb 13 2015, 05:23 PM
Ardette looks at Isaac askance, just studying him. She wishes dearly that he were some backwoods, old-wives'-tale weilding quack, so she could just leave and go about her day as she'd intended to (arduously and in considerable pain, perhaps?) But much to her irritation he's not. And she knows this, just in the way he carries himself, that it would be foolish to turn away his help.

She taps her nails against the chair, looking conflicted for a moment, like she's standing in front of a freezing cold lake, knowing she's going to jump in, just unable to decide when.

The chair scrapes against the floor as she pulls it back, and eases herself to sitting.

Now, apparently.

"I, euh..." She clears her throat with difficulty. "I suppose I should ask 'ow much you expect to be paid. Business, as your brother said..."

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 13 2015, 07:28 PM
He seems quite content to let her visually assess his credibility. All people need time to think. Her wording though... A slow, well-worn scowl washes over his features for a moment, not directed at her, of course. His head tilts forward, turning to address the other room. "William," he intoned.

"Ja?"

That ponytail does little to keep the fluffy streak of white from poking out comically as William tips his head into view through the nearby doorframe, the sound of stoneware mugs clinking.

Without turning his head back to her, Isaac raises a finger to Frau Bombaerts, who is thankfully seated at last. This will only take a moment. "Don't push the clinic's services upon people as a business when they're clearly not at their best." Not a moment he was in the mood for, but found patience nevertheless.

"She needed help." Will scuttles into the room and gets tea made, not afraid of Isaac. He fusses with the one lamp lit in the room to make sight easier for his brother. Still helping, technically. "And we need to open the shop sooner or later."

"Yes, well." A quiet sigh. He's right. They both were right. He'd still have preferred not to have that discussion in front of a client. He looks at Bombaert's boots, which to his eyes don't look like they ever really dried after yesterday's little accident. "Let's not continue this. Get me one of the narrow linen rolls, and check if we have any arnica, alright?"

Again, Will moves about as instructed, significantly capable of dropping the silliness when he's motivated enough. The first thing he finds and places on the table is what looks like bits of something to make a sturdy splint with, not bandages. At least he's quiet again.

Isaac has already lost what little hint of annoyance he had, back to focusing on what's important. "We can worry about payment later. Rendering people broke is nearly so bad as leaving them sick, in my view. Payment is therefore very negotiable." He knows this will bother William, but it's for the best. "...Unfortunately, the boot staying on, not so much. Let's have a look at that foot."

Mree Posted: Feb 14 2015, 01:58 PM
When Isaac finally turns his attention back to her, Ardette greets him with a politely raised eyebrow, one of, are you finished? Alright, then. She wonders if she'll have one hundred percent of the good doctor's undivided attention or if forty percent will be devoted to keeping William in line. She wonders which scenario she would prefer.

With a resigned sigh, Ardette leans over and unlaces her boot, pulling the tongue of the shoe forward and trying to give her swollen ankle as much room as possible. She's slow about it, still moving through that fog, and she wants so badly to fold her arms over her knees, rest her head in her arms, and close her eyes for a bit. But no such luck. With a sharp wince, Ardette frees her foot from her boot and eases it back down to the floor.

"I--" She coughs and clears her throat thickly. "I 'ad it wrapped in snow last night, but not for long," she explains, perhaps to help him know what's already been done, but more to show that she isn't completely incompetent in the face of injury (even if the snow wasn't her idea).

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 14 2015, 07:41 PM
Isaac sincerely agrees with that look Bombaerts is wearing. He's certain William's gotten the point by now, as giving him a job to do usually solves the problem. "Hmm," he considers the added bit of information, more interested in the injury than what she was doing in the Knochenwalde. Her poor ankle and heel are swollen enough it's difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins, but he's seen worse. No signs of bruising over the foot itself, which was hopeful.

Isaac doesn't want to poke and prod too much, knowing how much unavoidable walking she's done on the damn thing. But after a moment of simply observing he gestures to lift her foot. "Alright," He can hear William approaching again, so he knows bandages are about to be on-hand for the job. She doesn't seem to have the energy to be stubborn, so he goes ahead and raises her foot up delicately with both hands. "Can you flex it at all? Without forcing it, of course."

During this preliminary examination, William comes in carrying a tray in one hand/arm. He sets this down beside the blackened stove, within Isaac's reach. On it, a roll of the same soft-looking bandaging in the medkit he traded for the firewood now keeping everyone warm. Beside it was a small jar labelled 'arnica' in rather left-handed scrawl, and thin strips of wood suitable for making a splint. Unlike earlier, William simply leaves Isaac to his work after pouring himself a mug of whatever's been steeping on the cool side of the stove.

Mree Posted: Feb 14 2015, 08:14 PM
"I--" It's a pathetic, interrupted little sound, not even a word, squeezed out when Isaac gently lifts her foot into his hands. Perhaps it was in anticipation of pain, but mostly it was because she hates having her feet touched. Even the kindest, most well-intentioned of medical professionals could not make Ardette feel any less unpleasant or vulnerable about it.

She's quiet, helpless but to observe, feeling awkward and unsure of herself. That's another thing; in the year-and-some-odd-months that Ardette has spent in Streitstadt, she's lived without even the most basic physical contact. The intimacy of her fiance's hand in her hair, or the dry pecks on the cheek from her mother, of course she's sent to pasture to live out their days only in her memory. But even the attainable things - a handshake, a pat on the back, the brush of another person on a crowded street - she has gone without. Until Claud's lucky rescue in the woods. Until right now.

So this, is strange for her.

At his prompting, Ardette attempts to flex her foot, grimacing against the resistance of pain and her own inflamed joint. "This is forcing it," she grunts.

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 14 2015, 08:37 PM
"Okay, ja, es tut mir Leid. I'll wrap this up quickly." It was still enough to see which side hurt worse, and it was the less worrisome of two possible sprains. He looks to her expression again. Pain, and very... unsure of herself? Well, alright. Proceeding with care and being certain enough for the both of them was something he knew how to do. It had truly been a good while since he'd done anything medical that wasn't slap-dash for lack of supplies. Or as of this first half-year in Streitstadt, for anyone outside his immediate family. Still, his method was like it had always been.

"Arnica should help keep the swelling down, and prevent any possible bruises from lasting long." With the stove's fire crackling warmly there was no real silence to fill - talking was an easy means of keeping a patient's mind focused on something besides the task at hand. Useful, always. Learning from her reaction, Isaac simply applies the medication to a smaller section of the bandage before wrapping it neatly into place, "If it's too tight, we can always adjust it." Hmm. William left him splint goods. He decides that's for the best to include, if she really was attempting to walk on this mess unaided. Should still fit in the boot.

That smell of the Knochenwalde wants very much to distract him, waving tantalizingly in the back of his mind. Thankfully, said back of his mind was rather quiet today.

Mree Posted: Feb 14 2015, 09:02 PM
Ardette cannot smell the Arnica, but it feels cool and slick on her skin as Isaac wraps her ankle and it's a distinctly medicinal feeling. Also strange. She glances up at his face as he works, wondering how on earth somebody like him - like the both of them - ended up here. He's so... normal. Current. Cosmopolitan is definitely the wrong word but he seems like he would be more at home in the city than anywhere else.

Good thing she's doing this now. Their business won't last the year.

She leans back in her chair, draping one arm over the back and resting her temple against her fist, watching him work, looking morose.

"'We,'" she drawls. "Why is it that doctors always use 'we?'"

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 14 2015, 09:23 PM
"Because," he smiles in light amusement, still working, "I'll need your input to know if I'm doing a satisfactory job adjusting it." Also because in his experience, between peace and war time both, patients invariably attempt to fiddle with bandages. It's always a team effort, for better or for worse. "I'll admit a few of them have too large an ego to stick to singular pronouns. I try to avoid those ones."

Whether he's referring to himself or a colleague is left intentionally vague. To him, there's humour in that, to her, who knows. Hopefully another means of keeping attention away from her injury, since he's binding it rather firmly now.

Mree Posted: Feb 14 2015, 09:50 PM
Ardette squints at him, and then finally she snerks. Yes, we try to avoid those ones indeed. She doesn't know when it snuck up on her but she's feeling a migraine coming on, like a cold finger pressing against the center of her forehead. She rubs her forehead wearily, still watching the swollen red-pink of her ankle disappear under clean white linens with every wrap.

Of course, now that it has an audience, her foot decides to twitch, sparking a zing of pain. Her whole leg tenses up in his grip and she flinches into her shoulders.

"Tsszt-- merde!" she hisses, and she glares at him from under her brows. "We should be more careful."

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 14 2015, 10:17 PM
Things are going well enough until --

It's so quick he's uncertain if this would have happened anyway. Fault is unimportant, so he stops, waits for her to relax, nods with pursed lips that showcase an awareness of her tension without mirroring it in himself. He takes her criticism uncontested. "Duly noted." His shortness of words is businesslike, somehow not impolite. He starts wrapping in patient circles again, leaving a bit more give. Only a little. He knows it will inevitably loosen if she's intent on walking to the library. She should just go home, sounding that hoarse. But he's not her superior.

French. Hm. She doesn't sound the part. If they weren't in the middle of something more important he might inquire. Not now, she has somewhere better to be. With a fine splint soon secured, he ties it neatly and cuts the linen with small scissors. Why William had opted to hide them under the other supplies was of little consequence. "...There. Sorry that took so long." Perhaps it simply felt longer for the error made. Two small strips of wood now came about as high as her boot was tall, so that her ankle would be unable to twist left or right. "The splint should be easy enough to remove without undoing the wrapping beneath it as well, should it become too cumbersome after today."

Mree Posted: Feb 15 2015, 09:57 AM
Ardette lifts her head from the cradle of her hand and squints at Isaac in bleary confusion. Sorry? No doctor she's ever known has apologized for anything, least of all something like that. It reminds her of somebody and she wracks her brains to remember who.

Isaac is taller and more tempered than his diminutive younger brother, soft-spoken but with authority, kind with a determination that's closer to duty. But it's the unnecessary apology that makes it click: he reminds her quite a bit of Claud. Oh, Claud, that poor, sweet boy who saved her life, who half-carried her through the Knochenwalde on the back of his knowledge, who told her to pack her ankle with snow. She remembers him like she remembers some stupid, drunken thing she said the morning after, with the same kind of regret: this time, regret that she didn't thank him properly for his trouble.

It's humbling, and embarrassing, and she's too exhausted to silence the "Thank you," that she mumbles out between sniffles.

Pathetic.

She has to pick up her leg with both hands to lift it from his grip and set it down on the floor, still marveling at how weak she feels. "And... 'ow long do we think we'll need the splint?" she asks, glancing up at him.

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 15 2015, 06:43 PM
"Most welcome." Thank goodness the rest of that went without further fussing - his apology was mostly retroactive for Will's ...whatever. He reminds himself that he didn't overhear the exact words Will used, so perhaps he is being negative in assuming the worst. Then again, it's his brother. Eugh. He'll have to inquire later.

Bombaerts appears to be distracted by some thought, like looking at Isaac confused her with misplaced memories. Not flushed in the face, no chills, he doubted she had a fever. Just too tired to get out of that chair easily. He will be surprised if she even makes it as far as the library, but the fresh air would do her good after this front room. If not for her health, at the very least it might wake her up somewhat.

He continues to observe her movements, particularly how the splint holds up. She looks upward at him for an answer, like this was a necessary inconvenience rather than a cause for worry. He wonders how stubborn she must be on a good day. Probably admirably so, as her clothing alone made her stand out as nonconformist. "A day or two at most for the splint. As the swelling goes down, the bandaging will seem looser, after the third or fourth day you can take the rest of it off as well. Really, as it begins to heal, you can give it more room to continue healing."

Isaac gets to his feet, looking at a shelf stacked with mismatched goods. "One moment, I think we've got a spare cane you can borrow, test out if that splint's suitable."

Mree Posted: Feb 15 2015, 07:31 PM
Ardette frowns at his back, wondering if that was an order or a suggestion, or if she was supposed to wait for the cane, or... what. So, she does what she's always done in the face of unclear instruction: just go ahead and do it her way.

Her muscles scream in protest as she stands and it almost knocks her back to sitting. Christ, the last time she felt this sore all over was when she was back home, the time she snuck out with her friends and danced the whole night. She's beginning to wonder if she actually hit her head yesterday, because that blacked-out space in her memory is still stubbornly opaque. She glances at Isaac's back. It would be wise to ask a doctor. It would be incriminating, too.

She lets it go.

"And... payment?" she asks. She leans heavily against the counter and takes a cautious step. "I don't 'ave anything to give you right now... but then this--" She coughs, sniffs, and takes another step. "--wasn't exactly planned."

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 15 2015, 07:59 PM
Isaac realizes he spoke poorly, or ...no matter now, "Oh, ohh hold on, here-" he hastily steps back and gets that cane to her. He was clearly not expecting her to go ahead immediately on that thought. Hopefully his tone wasn't too patronizing in surprise. (It wasn't, but he knows that's the last thing a stubborn person will respond to. Damn.)

The cane is too tall for his brother but for this woman - who stood taller than he did now that he sees her standing again - it ought to be just fine. Well-worn (perhaps too worn) by a previous owner, polished by use rather than lacquer.

"It's absolutely fine, I'd normally give something more for the pain than this," his open palm suggests 'this' situation as a whole, and his eyes flit briefly to the gun slung over the back of her chair. He hadn't noticed that when she first came in. Peculiar. "We can negotiate some sort of payment when your head's clearer. Hopefully I'll have more stock sorted and usable by then." As if his services were somehow not enough, or he felt perhaps under-equipped in this town.

Isaac knows he has been here little more than half a year, in this building less than a month - his concerns reflect that along with how unconcerned he is at looking new. Bombaerts seemed out of place with life here too; a trend he was spotting more and more, as lost people just showed up one day in the eastern half of town. "For now, you might just settle for your boot?" he's mostly sure she's remembered it's there, but. Well. Assumptions only work if your sources are good. And she's a very exhausted acquaintance for now.

Mree Posted: Feb 15 2015, 08:25 PM
Ardette looks back at her boot, looking lonely at the foot of her chair, waiting for its owner to return. If she's being perfectly honest with herself, yes, she did forget it, distracted by the arduous task of standing up. But she forgot willfully, because she's dreading having to stuff her bandaged foot back into her shoe.

"Yes, yes, I'll get there," she drawls, "Just... give me a moment."

She's never used a cane before but figures it ought to be pretty intuitive, right? She leans against it, lets go of the counter, and takes another limping half-step.

"You and your brother," she says, glancing at Isaac, glancing down, to the same place on William's chest where he proudly wore the symbol of his faith. On Isaac's chest - nothing. "You're new 'ere."

It's not a question because it doesn't have to be. You could always tell.

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 15 2015, 08:32 PM
Right. He didn't mean to imply rushing her out the door. Her boot could stand to sit close to the stove for a moment longer anyhow. Get some of that forest damp out of it. Even if the scent does leave the room quickly, he's not going to get it out of his head any time soon.

Considering two brothers Nadelmann operate out of a building titled Cross & Sons Apotheke, this does not strike Isaac as much of a revelation. He gives her his patience and attention anyway because, well. He hasn't exactly talked to anybody else all afternoon and to hell with it, she was doing rather well for someone managing such setbacks. So long as she steers clear of that lamp on the tabletop anyway.

"Yes, this is very true," he nods gently, as if this is far from the first time he's considered his state of affairs, something he simply accepts. She's staring at his chest. He's watching for any signs she's going to slip. "Just this summer. I'm not sure we were wise in keeping our heads low initially, but it's gotten us this far."

Mree Posted: Feb 15 2015, 09:06 PM
Ardette nods, politely averting her gaze. Just a few months here to learn that you're trapped, and learn how to be trapped, and learn how to adjust, and how to go on with life... It impressed her, how much at peace Isaac seemed to be with his new citizenship, how swiftly he must have accepted it to have the nerve to open a business so soon. But then, it didn't take Ardette very long to find a boulder to call her own, to push up that hill and keep her distracted. Sisyphus and all that.

Standing, she discovers, is easier said than done, and she leans back against the counter heavily. She shouldn't have come in here; the heat is intoxicating. She shouldn't have sat down; the gravity of that damned chair is strong.

"No, no," she says. She winces a little and shifts her weight. "It was wise. These people... they don't like outsiders. And I can tell you they're not going to like this." She waggles a finger, gesturing to his parlor, to him, to all of this.

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 15 2015, 09:49 PM
"Mmm... That's why the sign's not been updated. Let them think nothing's changed until we're ready for them." He leans against the counter top, mostly to be on standby should she need anything else. Splint looked good, the cane worked well enough. He couldn't provide anything more immediately helpful, and pushing tea at her would just prolong the impromptu visit. He's still not certain what she was looking at before, if not his face -

...Oh, of course, she was probably looking to see if he wore any holy symbol. It was practically the town's alternative to a hand-shake. He'd been hyper-aware of the oddity that is living in Streitstadt since his unintended arrival, and yet overlooked that gesture today. "If by 'outsiders' you meant that we're Jews , ...eh. We believe in the same God. They really ought to have more pressing concerns than a couple of idiots trying to run an apothecary." He puffs with a hint of impatience at his remaining family (thankfully not present), looking sidelong at the steep staircase just visible near the doorway. He really does wish William wouldn't flaunt that false confidence everywhere.

Mree Posted: Feb 15 2015, 10:37 PM
Ardette scoffs out a weak laugh. Well, look at him, having the audacity to come out and say it. She appreciates his frankness, with the same tired pessimism that she appreciates anything else she likes about this town: with the knowledge that it probably won't last long.

"I meant more along the lines of 'educated' and 'not from Streitstadt,'" she says, limping back to her boot. She sits down again, a bit more abruptly than intended, and needs a moment to recover. "But being a Jew is probably equally damning."

She hooks the cane over the back of her chair, and starts to unlace her boot. Stuffing her bandaged foot back into it is not going to be easy or pleasant.

"I meant no offense," she adds, almost as an afterthought. She'd forgotten what it was like to speak to somebody who wasn't offended simply by her presence.

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 16 2015, 11:22 AM
Isaac chuckles almost silently, "If I thought you meant offense I wouldn't have said anything to fuel the cause." Not true, not entirely, but ehhhh, not today. She's actually tolerable to converse with. "It's rather nice to be so blunt and not be met with someone's utter horror." He wants to offer to help with her boot, but is weighing the odds she'll refuse him anyway. "Hmm."

He bets William is writing something stupid in that journal of his again, probably about what's happened this morning. He considers her appraisal of the place, his situation. "You're right, they won't like us. Two men of science and the wrong faith, in a town full of vampires and fairies. Either we adjust, or they do." standing around while she sits gives an air of one waiting impatiently, so he sits again to diffuse the sensation. She was as well as she was going to get, until they could locate something more suitable than warmth and the steam of a kettle for that congested head of hers. Sounds better than when she first arrived at least.

Isaac thinks to himself to be cautious not to detain people here simply for social contact. He needs to get out more. Still, this woman was here now and she'd had her troubles seen to, so this was a start. "Ill be sure we keep out of trouble. That's what that firearm is for, yes? Or do you also hunt?" Wouldn't that be something. This place was already strange enough. He could at least talk a little while she readied herself to brave a frustrating boot.

Mree Posted: Feb 16 2015, 01:55 PM
Her migraine swells behind her left eye and she pauses, to pinch the bridge of her nose and count to five. In a twisted way the pain makes her more alert, sharpens her focus. It stands to reason that it would, when everything is so damned sensitive. She sniffs and gives her head a shake, before working at her boot.

"I'd be an idiot to use this to 'unt," she grumbles. Another sniff, another cough. "Rounds don't grow on trees."

Maybe they are too new to Streitstadt to have made that particular adjustment yet, to remember that anything that is not manufactured here, does not exist. Anything that relies on anything that is not manufactured here, is obsolete. The day she runs out of rounds for her Winchester, is the day that her gun is re-purposed to a blunt-force weapon. They'll learn. The poor bastards.

Ardette has to remind herself then that she is supposed to dislike Isaac and his brother. They're German; she knows this in the way they speak. But Streitstadt has further stratified the German people into varying layers, deserving of varying degrees of scorn. New, or native. Educated, or not. Human, or otherwise. God-fearing or book-fearing or women-fearing. She must admit, the Nadelmann brothers are the first Jews she's known here.

"The gun is for my protection," she rasps. She feeds her foot into her shoe with the care of threading a needle. She grasps both sides and prepares to shove her heel in. "You may 'lso be wondering-- tsssztZUT ALORS-- why I'm wearing pants."

She noticed William staring. Sick as she is, fuzzy as she is, women have a sixth sense about that kind of thing.

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 16 2015, 02:39 PM
Indeed, too new. "Right," he admits. He knew that, that's one of the basics you learn here. Like everything else he considers basic that's missing or mislabeled in this damn house. Camphor even.

And besides that, they sold William's own rifle off during their confused journey northward, before they discovered Streitstadt. The younger man couldn't fire it properly anymore if he tried, and the best use Isaac could think of for keeping it was one William wouldn't listen to.

Isaac huffs through his nose. His concerns are rather backwards compared to Bombaert's, keeping others safe from him.

The doctor winces sympathetically as she fights with that boot, doubling for how he feels about spending so much time reminiscing over poor decisions that can't be changed. He smiles again, as if to put that past back where it belonged.

"It seemed more polite not to ask. From what I've seen so far, I'd wager practicality." with a glance to the gun he does not elaborate further, wondering just where he adds up in her mind. She was fighting through that headcold to assess him, this place, like he imagines anyone here must judge newcomers. Whether to accept them, or keep them away lest they contaminate one's sense of safety. So long as he doesn't add up to anything resembling a threat, he's fine with the conclusion drawn.

Mree Posted: Feb 16 2015, 02:57 PM
The pain in her ankle is like a splash of ice-water on her brain and Ardette grips both sides of her chair and gasps, blinking the white from her vision. God damn it, that hurt. She leans back in her seat and just waits for the pain to spiral out of orbit and dissipate. Maybe she'll sleep with one shoe on tonight. Yes, that sounds like a good idea.

His response makes her chuff out a dry laugh, and she nods. "Good," she breathes, easing her leg straight. Apparently that answer was satisfactory. "Good."

It was a fashion statement at first, and then a form of protest, and then she did it deliberately to offend the conservative townsfolk. But she quickly learned how practical it was; if she's going to be running for her life, she isn't bloody well doing it in a skirt.

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 16 2015, 03:47 PM
That is one stubborn facade of well-being she's fighting to maintain. It's more of a veneer with several obvious cracks in it, but the attempt is admirable. He shakes his head softly while her eyes are too shut to see him do it.

"...at the risk of sounding like a mother hen, you mmmight consider arranging for someone else to manage the library tomorrow." He can hear footsteps upstairs. On the stairs.

Mree Posted: Feb 16 2015, 03:56 PM
"Considered," Ardette grunts, pushing herself to sitting straight again. Christ, even her abdominals hurt. But she knows that's thanks to yesterday's cold, thanks to yesterday's shivering. The cold, she definitely remembers. She pulls her leg bent with both hands, and leans over to start lacing her boot. "And rejected."
Pthalocy Posted: Feb 16 2015, 04:29 PM
Isaac merely quirks an eyebrow. He's not in the business of collecting I-told-you-so's. If she changes her mind later he'll never hear of it, and she'll stay home. Good enough that the idea has been presented. William does come back, eventually. Much slower coming down stairs than he was ascending.

"Ahh well, I've kept you here long enough," not true, as they both know she's damned too exhausted to have left sooner, but it's a polite oversight he doesn't mind making. "At the very least, don't let the bandaging get wet during any commutes made in snow, or bathing."

William is carrying a very tiny jar of something in his palm, and his empty mug hooked by one stray finger of the same hand. He looks a little distracted, or tired, as he holds the hand out.

"Camphor and lanolin, we had more goods upstairs," he passes it to Isaac, as Bombaerts has her hands full with her boot lacing. " You can tell her how to use it. Also I found ether? Don't touch that bottle. I had to fight with it to secure the lid."

Isaac simply frowns as his brother proceeds to smile and tip his head to their client, and gets himself more tea. He can smell the contents of this container without even opening it. Exactly what he needed, but at the cost of worrying just what the hell William was doing sniffing around such products without him there to supervise.

Mree Posted: Feb 16 2015, 04:46 PM
Ardette frowns up at William's woozy, distracted smile as she laces up her boot. He's an odd one. Maybe all that chemistry left him touched in the head. She shakes her head, ties her lacings tight, and after one, two, three attempts, manages to stand.

"Well," she sighs. When she gets her balance back, she slings her gun over her shoulder. "Thank you for your... unexpected assistance, Doktor Cross--" She winces at her mistake and shakes her head. "Neumann?"

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 16 2015, 05:00 PM
"Nadelmann - it's fine, it doesn't really matter." what he means is that it's a very unfortunate name for doctor. His eyes have to flit between Bombaerts, who he is ready to lend an arm for if she becomes unsteady, and William. Who appears to be just fine, really, but his sympathy is rather tempered by the idea there is a bottle of very flammable anaesthetic upstairs. "Glad I could be of help."

He looks in the jar again. Smells right, fresh and reminiscent of pine, he can discern without sticking his face up in it like some people seem to think is permissable. Right colour, not too concentrated. "A small daub of this under the nose should help clear that congestion as you feel you need to use it. Again, we can sort out payment later when the both of us have things in better order."

Mree Posted: Feb 16 2015, 05:16 PM
Ardette accepts the tiny jar, looking a bit lost. Like she wasn't expecting such unhesitant and immediate help. Or at the very least, like she's run out of thank-yous and doesn't know what to say. She raises the jar to Isaac in salute and then stuffs it deep in her coat pocket.

"I w-n't f-rget," she rasps, in reference to his payment. She clears her throat, and tries again. "I... won't forget."

A polite nod, and Ardette turns her collar up and limps toward the door, leaving her cane hooked over her chair.

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 16 2015, 05:39 PM
He nods curtly. The door isn't far at all, this home has a small enough footprint that most things were relatively close at hand. With a bad leg, surely everything becomes stretched out - still better prepared now than before for the outdoors.

Isaac turns to William to ask him something quietly, it sounds born with criticism for William, very like German and yet the words are somehow harder to decipher. It's not until he turns to see Bombaerts out the door that he realizes she's already forgotten one thing, "Nh, stay there Will," he comments quietly, like William might vanish in a puff of contrariness.

Picking the poor abandoned cane up, he moves to open the door for Bombaerts. He clears his throat rather than criticize or say anything, holding the cane with the handle facing her. If he was going to do 'business' when their house is closed, he was damn well still going to do it properly. "Good luck to you, Bombaerts."

Mree Posted: Feb 16 2015, 06:45 PM
Ardette, who is ordinarily very well-versed in throat-clears, looks down at the offered cane with raised eyebrows. "Ah," she says simply. If she had the zest in her she may have even blushed at her mistake. She takes the cane with some reluctance, thanking Isaac with a quick smile that's more of a grimace, a forced up-down of the corners of her lips.

"And to you."

More is implied. More is always implied. Good luck with your new citizenship. Good luck learning how quickly things run out. Good luck when your first neighbor is taken in the night, and then your second. Good luck trying to stay Yourself.

She glances over Isaac's shoulder toward William, before heading out into the cold.

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 16 2015, 07:08 PM
With the door safely shut, the front room can commence ridding itself of that sudden draft. Isaac is ready to say a lot of things and looks to William, who had evidently been watching. The younger man interrupts before he can even begin.

"I think she likes you." he smiles, perked up and more awake again.

"Shut up William." he's trying too hard to maintain a look of disapproval to even bother with a scolding anymore.

Mree Posted: Feb 16 2015, 07:11 PM
And then Ardette limps to work and falls asleep on her desk THE END
Maelgwyn Posted: Feb 16 2015, 11:34 PM
BAWWWW these three <3

Also: fantastic writing you two! This was such a joy to read!

Pthalocy Posted: Feb 25 2015, 02:59 AM
Ardette and the Nadelmanns sounds like a terrible band name. Then I remembered that's 2/3 musicians. I am not remotely sorry.

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