Three Choices

Title: Three Choices
Time Period: June 10, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Word of the stranger washed up on the shore slithers through Dornie.

When you live in a knitted neighborhood, or even a small town, doing things in private tends to be difficult. One might expect the opposite, but in large cities- well- everyone tends to mind their own business, rather than everyone else's. Dornie has the bane of being a small town, and Leonard's guest is a topic of interest along his street almost immediately. None of his children or family have come to see what the fuss is, thankfully, but one can hear the clock ticking before someone- anyone- shows up on the stoop of the clinic. He dragged the stranger here, rather than home; who knows what kind of weirdo he really is, and Leo has supplies and such with him there at the clinic. At least one change of clothes, barring shoes and underthings- because animals make messes, whether by blood or otherwise.

It has been long enough for Leonard to have offered the stranger a basin of water, a cloth, and that extra set of shirt and trousers. Not much. More than he had before. The stranger gets corralled into one of the adjoining rooms, for lack of locks and Leonard's lack of will in imprisoning the poor bastard. For all his noble intentions, he remains cowardly in the face of causing 'incidents'.

Sage has a post outside of the room, potentially to Deckard's chagrin. She lies there in the hall in the shape of the rust and cream she-wolf, silent, while Leonard paces the front, threatening to wear a groove in the floor.

Animals make messes and so does Deckard, who did Leonard the half-hearted courtesy of scrubbing himself down before he put on his pants. There's water on the floor. And sand. The shirt comes later and only after he's already been around the room once or twice to look at All The Things, some of which appear to be breakable. The sleeves are rolled unevely back from raw wrists; the buttons are left unfastened.

To Sage's eyes, he isn't much different than when they found them. Less dirty. Scrubby hair dried at a bristle, he stands and stares at her more than is polite. Arguably this is preferable to him picking up things off shelves and tampering with them. Still.

It's awkward.

Evidently aware enough to notice, however late in the game, he tries to make conversation.

"Know any tricks?"

In a settlement like Dornie - which is spread out over rocky moors, heathland, and a great expanse of water crowded into a loch by high green hills - there are benefits to walking places together. For one thing, it's safer. For another, it offers the kind intimacy and companionship that the open landscape seems like it should detest.

This part of Scotland is lonely, even in spring.

Aislinn's path crossed Dina's a mile up the road, and when it became clear that they shared the same destination, the younger of the two women insisted she escort the elder to Leonard's clinic.

A light knock at the front door signals their arrival and lacks the authority belonging to Duncan Rowntree's mostly hamfisted militia.
On the arm of the healer, the wheelchair and it's attendants outside and likely to stay out there, one of the leaders and faces of dornie is on Aislinn's arm. Long silvery blonde hair winding in a long braid over shoulder, thin hands gripping the healers elbow as they wait to be granted entrance. Not that they couldn't just walk in the front door.

"First they walk in, wanting to teach and now they roll up naked on the seashore. What next, delivered in the claws of a dragon?" She may have been comatose for some months, but Dina's still bright-eyed. "At least I hope Dr. Hightower had the sense to dress him. Wouldn't do to see all his tackle"

Even if he did start fiddling around with things, it wouldn't be long until his benefactor saw to it. Sage leans against the wall, front legs stretched out in front of her, tail tucked beside her hindquarters. As dainty as a wolf can get, surely. Her amber eyes blink softly back at Deckard, just before she yawns. A trick? Not for you. But these are my teeth —

Being that he is waiting specifically for them, the door pops open at the knock. Leonard has a bit of sand still on his shoes, and he seems flustered enough to warrant the glancing around he does. Checking, just in case. Something about this is terribly illegal, isn't it? Something like that, he figures.

"Mi- ah- ladies." Dina being there, however, makes him pause again to process. Once the metaphorical whirr-click of his motor backtracks, he brushes imaginary sand from his wrists and smiles, beckoning them in and making sure to check the street before he closes the door. "I would say that I was surprised you are here too, Dina, but- I can't say that I am, precisely." Leonard jerks his hand about to gesture to the rear of the front room, at the hall. "He's in the back, I gave him something to wash up with…"

Unimpressed, Flint is forced to clamp his jaw against a yawn of his own, eyes squinted and nose rankled.

He gives her another minute or so of flat expectation after that. Then he gives up. Abruptly. Attention cancelled in favor of showing her his back, he makes a restless return to the basin. There, his left hand is hooked down into greyish water and then — inevitably — up to his mouth. Twice sucking at dirty runoff before he picks up the cloth. Weighs it. Drops it.

Rounds on the nearest shelf.

In fairness, Aislinn sees a lot of tackle, but other people's nakedness is also a part of her job and thus something she's become conditioned to dealing with on a daily basis. The prospect of having to see someone's floppy penis bothers her a lot less than her brother-in-law poking his nose in during their visit, anyway, which is equally likely to happen. If she and Dina heard about Leonard's guest, then it's only a matter of time until word reaches Duncan's ears.

"Dr. Hightower is very sensible," she assures Dina in a low murmur, small mouth curving around an even smaller smile, for her voice is not without humour, "but if he hasn't, please remember that he's probably more embarrassed by the situation than either your or I."

Her attention turns toward the hall when Leonard gestures that way, and gently - so gently - she removes Dina's hands from her arm. "Is he hurt?" she asks with a sweep of her skirts on her way past.

"tremenduosly sensible. At times I almost wonder if he's more sensible than the rest of us" Leonard can hear Dina as he approaches, she's making no attempt to hide her words. Arm unloaded, she's standing upright, feet planted firmly and looking toward the door in question. "Have we a name and a reason for our guest? Would you mind, Dr. Hightower, to close and lock the door. My safety you know" Wink wink, nudge nudge. Make it harder for the militia to just waltz in. "My nerves, ever since the incident" The smirk on her face giving away the lie. "Then, you may escort me to a more comfortable place to sit hmm?"

Containers, both empty and not, gauzy bundles, towels, a glass jar of plaster powder, minor metal implements, a tin filled with something pungent enough to smell it even while it is closed. It doesn't appear that he keeps anything particularly scandalous at arm's length. Chemicals or homeopathics are likely kept put away until he needs them.

Sensible and embarrassed is an accurate synopsis of Leonard's time since finding Cruikshank ministering over the man on the beach. He wrings his hands, peering down at the women with an expression of mixed anxiety. Sage does not share his concern, at least not where people can see it hanging out. The veterinarian gives one more glance to the door, before speaking up again, trying to be concise.

"Past the dehydration and hunger, I could not find any problems. He is weak, but I was able to get him to return with me- so his will is still there. I gave him enough water to keep the thirst down, I'd hate for him to take ill because I let him drink as much as he wanted." Leon gives Dina a nod in between explanations, fixing the bolt lock and the one in the knob. The clicks give a sense of safety, though his unease sits like a blot in his stomach. "I- did not get to the name part, I'm afraid." Oops. "He does not seem sure on the matter of how he got here." The tall man hesitates before he turns around and shuffles towards the rear.

"He had irons on his wrists. But he's behaved thusfar… one of the- er- gypsies-" Is that even a correct term? "-found him. The travelers from last year? I took it from there." More or less. Leonard skips the part about Cruikshank being the one to take the irons off and throw them in the sea, as well as any involvement past location and initial presence. Getting his 'story' straight, and hopefully avoiding getting the already harassed into any more trouble. For now.

The jar of plaster powder is grasped first, skeleton hands wrapped broad about the glass. A tilt to test the consistency and a sniff tell him it's nothing worth investigating further. He puts it back — in the region of where he found it. Sort of.

Smelly tin is next, blunt nails set against the edge. Prying.

He has it open by the time it's occurred to him he should eavesdrop and he's still into it by the time company's rounded the corner, fingers poised just short of poking in. Eyes already fixed on the door. Not quite guilty.

Leonard's mention of irons has Aislinn hesitating, but not for very long. The survivors of the Rannoch massacre would have been led to Dornie in them if ropes hadn't sufficed. She studies Deckard from the doorway, a hand clasped on its frame, and steps into the room, mindful not to block his escape route. Feeling boxed into a strange place is one of the things she hated most about her captivity, whether it was someone's tent or - later - Edmund's stable.

She tries a simple, unassuming: "Hello."

"Well, if he can manage to behave himself, we can see to attempting to keep the shackles off of him" Into Leonards arm, slips hers, and so starts the small journey toward the room in question, but only so that Dina can linger outside and do like aislinn, not attempt to block an exit. Peer in, even as from somewhere else behind them, Greets The Sun has shifted and changed from unassuming mouse to the shaggy wolf that he tends to adopt around Sage. His own head pokes in to peer at Deckard before backing up a fraction. She'll let aislinn bear introductions for now. "Make quick with it dear. Before they come. If they do, I do not know if I shall be able to keep him from shackles further"

Looks like lumps of flaky… something. In actuality, chunks of dried animal guts. For the patients. It is a not-so-subtle reminder that Leonard is, in fact, a veterinarian, and not a physician. Sage makes room for Aislinn first, hanging back in time with Greets-the-Sun once he shifts. They're not as scary as they appear to be. Possibly.

"Good, they fit." Leonard remarks as he leads Dina over to look in the door to his new ward, wolves sidling out of their path. "I don't think I have shoes that will fit him, but it isn't as if we line the streets with broken glass…" Leonard may also be reticent about lending people his shoes. He'll let Aislinn take it from here, while he stays outside the door.


Deckard, with his stinky tin of guts and Leonard's shirt all Fabio over the sink of his gut under scarred ribs and his voice chapped dry as his mouth, takes the two new women in without moving. Much.

It isn't until the appearance of a second wolf that he retracts into a cagier slant. Suspicious, when he marks Greets-the-Sun. Defensive. His brows hood over his clutch at the tin, wrists branded red and black.

He feels this is maybe getting to be a passive aggressive amount of wolves.

After an uneasy or second or two spent searching between the lot of them, he chooses the most familiar face to latch a glare onto. The most familiar or the one he immediately feels has the worst poker face among them. Either way, he's looking hard at Leonard.

Deckard's discomfort is a crackle of white noise on the edge of Aislinn's periphery, making it difficult for her magic to discern much else. Apart from being in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar people, the healer can only speculate about its origin, but this at least is easy with two large, predatory animals lurking nearby with mouths full of sharp teeth.

So she makes an educated guess. "It would be better if they took another shape," she suggests, sounding apologetic, and although her words are directed to Leonard and Dina, her eyes do not leave the man in front of her.

"My name is Aislinn," she says. "May I please have your hands?"

A brown eyed glance to Dina, who's only reaction is a nod, Greets The Sun melts down, way down, back to that of the mouse that he usually runs around in. Placing himself closer to Dina and sitting back on his haunches, whiskers quivering. "I am Dina Ross. Aislinn here, is one of our towns healers. I'm afraid Leonard his is only just the vet." Making her own introduction. Beyond that, she stands, back from the door, leaning on said vet. Or well, the Vets arms.

Only natural that familiars become more protective of their masters, but it comes as no shock when the suggestion is made. Then again, Leonard is more than used to having Sage as she is, and did not think too much of it. Greets-the-Sun turns again, and Sage's canine turns into rodent as well, fluffy red squirrel tail and all. Is that better? She chitters at them all, fussing but wordless all the same.

Leonard looks uncertain when Deckard fixes his gaze on him; he turns a palm at, and nods towards Aislinn after she introduces herself. To signal she is 'safe', in a manner of speaking. Let her have a look.

One wolf down and Deckard's eyes tick warily back onto Aislinn from Leonard's nod at closer range. Two wolves down.

Asking for his hands is a pretty straight-forward request. Strange then that he should hesitate, fingers curled tighter about the tin with a fresh flicker of suspicion.

Eventually, after a pause plenty long enough to be uncomfortable, tin retained in his left hand, he compromises with the offer of the right. Palm down. His nails are worn short and dirty under the edges, bony fingers all about even length. Padding flat across the flip side is thick with calluses and criss-crossed with scars. Most of them superficial.

He's done a piss-poor job of cleaning out the split skin around his wrists but the wounds are dry, courtesy of salt water and sun. Both of which have done the rest of him fewer favors.

"Pleasure," he manages for Dina. Maybe he's picked up on her importance. Maybe he's just being polite because she's old.

"I can prescribe a salve for your wrists," Aislinn says, taking Deckard's hands and cupping them in her palms so as to examine him. "It should ease the pain and provide some relief. I'm not sure what we can do about the nerve damage, if there is any, and it certainly looks as though there might be. We'll see whether a regimen of comfrey and Saint John's wort helps."

She reaches up and touches her fingers to the slope of his jaw, lifting his chin at the same time she raises her own. "He should put on some weight, Lady," she advises Dina, because she imagines that Deckard would if he'd had any previous say in the matter, and it's becoming increasingly clear that Dornie's resident philanthropist has decided to invest in the stranger's well-being. "It's best if he takes some wormwood extract and keeps away from coffee or alcohol for a few weeks." Why specifically she does not say; she imagines that Deckard might not appreciate being advised about the possibility of intestinal parasites in front of other people.

"There's something else," she says then, moving her hand from his jaw to his chest, thin fingers fanning across his heart. "I've not felt it ever, but it's magic to be sure."

"All of that easily done if I have a say in any of it" Not so easy if Deckard has a say in it. "I'm sure it's a pleasure in that, standing upright in the company of some of the more kinder individuals in this town, is far more pleasurable than being back in shackles and informed that you have been drafted to the Militia." She unwinds her hand from around Leonards arm, straightening just a fraction, chin lifting that same amount.

"You have a choice. Only three I am afraid and I am sure that two of them, perhaps are not so appealing. First, I can leave and you can wait for the Rowentree's proper, to come and hie off with you to the Militia or at the munitions factory. Not the most glamorous of occupation but far better than the second"

Greets The SUn remains immobile at her feet, listening. Not even talking to Sage. "The second is that I will furnish you wish enough food for a few days travel, clothes, blankets and water, medicines for your wrists and hope that you can manage to get far enough" A grim line to her mouth. "The third, is that I find employment for you somewhere under my purview. There is a power plant, we pay a fair wage, or who knows what else. But irregardless, I have places within my grasp, for individuals. You will have five minutes. To think about and decide whether you are such an individual, Sir"

"Magic?" Is all that he can question before Dina decides to put out her ultimatums. Leonard is there when she straightens up and lets go of his arm, just in case; he stays where he is, looking past his arm to where the ruddy, dark squirrel has started up to his shoulder. Sage perches there, bushy tail curling up over tufted ears. Leonard Hightower's mouth flattens into an uncharacteristic line, and his green eyes flick between the others, curious, before settling with wrinkles edges on the other man. The curiosity remains there, however so does a new dose of suspicion. It is hard to tell if the glint is because of the conversation, or the addressee.

"You would be well to make a safe choice now, friend." Is the most that Leon offers, in one of his softer tones usually reserved for those that he has to give bad news to. Your horse has to be put down. The dog will always have a limp. You're suspicious and out of luck in Dornie.

Tension mounts tangible beneath touch the longer it goes on — she had only asked for his hands — culminating in a lick of fear that dries his mouth out further still. He steps back abruptly without being given (or asking for) permission, bony face gone rigid in a way that is decidedly unfriendly for all that he avoids all of their eyes. Mistrustful, at the very least.

They left the exit open for him and his intestinal parasites but it doesn't lead anywhere.

The militia sounds crappy, so that whittles things down. A glance down at the state of the rest of himself does the rest. Leonard's right. He wouldn't make it a week.


He uses all five of his minutes.

"I can work."