Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mid-Dynasty XVIII Egypt, writer Yvonne Walus, + an excerpt from LIGHT PLAY (chapter two)!

The discussion today was on Egypt, mid-Dynasty XVIII. We talking about the obscurity of some archaeological references on stela, and how circuitous the route to understanding can be. Apparently, the only true co-regents of XVIII were T2 and A2 (Thutmose 2 and Amenhotep 2, his son)...and the way of determining this is the mention of A2's second accession day. The accession day usually only happens once in a Pharaoh's life - the day he or she takes the throne. In Amenhotep 2's case, it happened twice.

Easy to explain, really - once someone else has explained it to you. A 2 took the throne while his father was still alive...then took it again when his father died.
What amazed me was the way this could be determined from a few lines carved into two ancient stela, placed far apart.
Fascinating!

It's always interesting to explore the social side of anthropology. This week's topic was about bodily shapes. Interesting that the availability of home scales signalled the beginning of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Before that, people may have worried, but they didn't have evidence of their own weight, or tables of "average weights" to compare themselves to.

On the writing front...
Working on book #25...still! I'm 1/3 finished, which is much more positive than admitting I have 2/3 to go and only 9 days to do it!

As always, I'll leave you with an excerpt. I wrote my first SF novel, LIGHT PLAY, following feedback from a movie company. I'd sent TREES to one of our largest film companies, and they'd actually read it! At the time they weren't producing fantasy, but they asked whether I could write something similar in SF.

I did, but since I was also writing a horror novel, GRAVE IMAGES, I sent them that instead (LOL!). They kept it, and took it all the way to a development meeting before deciding it didn't sound quite Kiwi enough, and they had a mandate for NZ cultural influence.

Now that I'm studying anthropology, it makes a lot of sense to me...

Have a great April! I'm so busy I may not get back to you till May...

On writers:
If you haven't read Yvonne Eve Walus, you should. She writes well, knows how to toss in a tricky ending (I've read her award-winning short story, you see!), and she's prolific! Seek her out on Amazon - she's worth the effort! Here's an interview with her on stress and burnout (she gave me permission to post it).
'Interviewer: What do you personally do when you feel stressed?
Yvonne Eve Walus: Grump at my husband a lot.
I: I meant, what is your coping strategy?
YEW: LOL, so did I. But seriously, stress and burnout are two different things. To combat stress, I go for a long walk or shut myself in the bedroom and read fiction. When I'm burnt out, I go to sleep or watch TV (mindlessly).
I: What does the heroine of your murder mystery cosy, Murder @ Work, do to de-stress?
YEW: Get an aromatherapy massage, of course. That's how she got hold of the fennel essential oil that became the murder weapon.

Yvonne Eve Walus

yve@xtra.co.nz
http://yewalus.kiwiwebhost.net.nz/index.html

Author of "Murder @ Work"'

I'll leave you with an excerpt, as always...

Cheers,
ND
N. D. Hansen-Hill
http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/NDHansen-Hillebooks.htm (all my EBOOKS...except Gilded Folly)
http://www.lulu.com/NDHansen-Hill (my PAPERBACKS)
http://www.NDHansen-Hill.com (my website)
http://www.cerridwenpress.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=1-4199-0409-4 (Gilded Folly)
Included in "The Complete Writer's Journal," available in late April or early May from Red Engine Press ( http://www.redenginepress.com)

Excerpt: LIGHT PLAY, chapter two

Chapter Two


Cole stood for a moment in the doorway. He couldn't believe his eyes.
The place was a wreck, and for a moment he thought the worst: that someone had ransacked Rick's house, and Rick along with it. Then, he spied a kind of order within the disorder. Books stacked, papers spread—not flung. "Rick?" he called out hesitantly.
"Here," Rick mumbled.
It took Cole a moment to segregate Rick from the piles of junk around him, but when he finally did, his startled whistle was enough to alert Rick.
You knew this wasn't going to be easy, Rick told himself. You must be looking guilty as hell.
But, Cole hadn't even noticed the guilty look. He was too stunned by the change in Rick's appearance. "Rick?" he repeated uncertainly.
"Nice of you to visit, Cole. Now, go away. I'm busy," Rick answered, opting for avoidance, rather than confrontation. He began to shuffle through some of the books on the sofa, and was quickly side-tracked into looking for a specific passage. If only I could sleep, he thought for the hundredth time. My brain would be a helluva lot clearer.
Cole wasn't sure what to do. Rick looked like hell: unshaven, haggard, exhausted. The dark circles under his eyes made his face look gaunt. Cole began to wish Jason had come along.
"Didn't you pick up your messages?" Cole asked, frustrated, trying to hide his concern. I should've come by sooner—When Rick hadn't come to help him move. When Rick didn't return his calls. When Rick's office said he was home sick—
It had only been two weeks.
Okay—three. But, Rick might have been busy. Cole looked at the room. Correction—he was busy. And I was too busy with Gena to realise how much time had gone by. Gena lived in the house next door. Cole's affair with his new neighbour had been short, sweet, and time-consuming.
Cole shrugged away the twinges of guilt and went right to the point. "What's wrong with you, anyway?"
"Nothing—" Rick began.
But, by this time, Cole was already picking his way through the stacks of books, looking at the titles. "What is this shit? 'Metaphysical Encounters'?" He picked up another one. "'The Conscious vs. the Unconscious Mind'?" He glanced over at his friend, who was still refusing to look at him. "Trying to find out if fungus have an afterlife?" he joked. At his own words, Cole paled. Rick wasn't still thinking about that "close encounter", was he?
Rick didn't even seem to hear him. Cole picked up a plate, that was piled high with cigarette butts. "And what the hell is this?" he asked incredulously. "You don't smoke!"
"Didn't," Rick corrected.
At least he's listening now. Cole took a look at the stubborn expression on Rick's face, and decided to opt for a more subtle approach. He walked over to a chair, and tipped out its load of paper. Rick didn't even flinch at his spilled research. Cole plopped down, stretched out his legs, and leaned back—striving for a relaxed pose.
"Rick—you don't need to worry. If you've listened to any of my messages, you know I didn't rent that place." Cole's sigh of relief was gusty, as he admitted, "Believe it or not, they gave me my money back." He chuckled. "Some fool came in and offered twice what they were asking. Being Genetechnic, they took it."
Rick had been avoiding Cole's eyes—afraid that his friend, who knew him so well, would be shocked by the haunted look in his own. It scared me, the last time I looked in the mirror. Rick had flung a shirt over the mirror in the lounge—uncomfortable with his own fear. Now, he looked at Cole, knowing that he had to tell him the truth—or Cole might never forgive him. Cole's last words had given him the opening he needed. All he had to do was take it.
"Cole—"
Cole glanced at him quickly, glad that Rick was finally going to talk to him. Maybe I can find out what's bugging him—
Rick's small smile was as grim as the look in his eyes. His words were hesitant, uneasy. "Twice and a half."
Cole was startled. "What—?"
"The fool offered two-and-a-half times what they were asking."
"How the hell do you know that?"
"Because that fool you were talking about?" Cole nodded, and Rick could tell from his expression that he was already guessing the rest of it. "That fool was me."
*
Sacchara sat in Vizar's office. He stubbed out yet another half-burnt cigarette. As a way of cutting down, it wasn't all that successful, but this wasn't exactly the time in his life for Sacchara to break a bad habit. He figured his bad habits were all that was holding him together.
"I tell you," he repeated insistently, "I've seen her."
"That's impossible." Daniel Vizar's voice was husky. He wasn't about to let Sacchara know it all, either—the "all" being that no less than five of his employees had been up here to report Caro's presence. That Caro had popped in to visit him—or threaten him, depending on how you looked at it.
It was easier with the others. All of them more or less believed Caroline Denaro was away on sabbatical. Her presence had been explained by variations on a theme: late departure, surprise visit, and anything else he could think of. What he couldn't explain away had been why Denaro had chosen to visit in her birthday suit.
Let them think she's flipped. And the sabbatical is actually extended leave. It could actually work in their favour, when she eventually died. Or if we need to terminate her.
Vizar decided to change the subject. "I'm still looking for a replacement."
"Hell! It's been nearly a month, Daniel! How long are we going to let this go on?"
"As long as it takes. I can't afford to use anybody from inside the facility. It has to be someone who didn't know her—and wouldn't understand any messages that she might have left."
At that, Justin glanced at him sharply. "Do you think that's a problem? How close are you to deciphering her notes?"
"Deciphering is no longer the problem, Justin. We've got them translated, but at least half of her notations are missing."
"Smart."
"And greedy." Daniel shook his head. "I knew Caro would give us problems. I just didn't know how many."
"What do you think her chances are?"
"Of recovery?" Vizar frowned. "Nil. We can't afford to let her replacement know just how sensitive the situation is."
"In other words, you don't intend to try to bring her back, do you?"
"I don't know how the hell we can. I just want to make sure that whatever happened to her will at least prove to be a learning experience."
"In that case, you damn well better keep her alive. We can learn a lot more from continued observation and testing, than we can from dissection."
*
Rick had been expecting Cole to stomp around, giving his "How the hell could you?!" tirade. It bothered him that Cole didn't react the way he'd expected, and his tired brain couldn't puzzle out the reason why.
Instead, Cole quickly looked away, stood up, and began to pace back and forth. Rick didn't know what to say. When Cole was agitated, he usually moved randomly; seeming to fill up the space around him with his unpredictable, hit-or-miss, movements. Never in this orderly, almost abrupt, manner. It made Rick wonder if maybe Cole was even angrier than he thought. He dropped his head briefly into his hands and sighed. Was it worth it? he asked himself. Nothing would be worth losing his best friend's trust.
Rick lifted his head to watch Cole's feet—his eyes staring in zombie-like fashion at the repetitious back-and-forth action of Cole's running shoes. I'm taking this too seriously, he finally decided, unaware that his thought processes weren't functioning at their normal level. Of course he's pacing. Rick looked around at his surroundings. In this mess, there's no room to do anything else. And, being Cole, he could never just sit still.
Cole turned in time to see Rick's head drop into his hands once more. Rick had rented that place! It just didn't make sense. He paused long enough to pick up one of the books on metaphysics. Or, maybe it does—
"When was the last time you ate?" Cole asked abruptly.
Rick was startled out of whatever reverie he'd fallen into. He turned vacant eyes on Cole. "Huh?"
"Let's go—"
"Where?"
"Not to play basketball—that's for sure," Cole muttered. He grabbed Rick's arm, yanking him up roughly off the sofa.
Rick gave a token objection, but Cole ignored him. Rick had always been on the lean side, but it had been balanced by a firm set of muscles. Now, he was so lean he was bordering on bony. The thought of leukaemia, or some other wasting disease, crossed Cole's mind. "Have you been to a doctor?" he asked tersely.
"Doctor? I'm not sick," he argued.
"That's not what your office said," Cole countered. Rick's mouth snapped shut, and his gaze finally focused, becoming mutinous.
"That was an excuse—"
"Have you looked at yourself?" Cole glanced over at the mirror, and saw Rick's shirt slung across it. "I can see you have. Let's go," he repeated.
"Where?" Rick said. He gestured at the stacks of books littering the floor. "I have work to do—"
"Like hell," Cole said grimly, giving Rick a shove toward the door. "We're going to my place—my new place, that you were supposed to help me move into—"
Rick's eyes widened. "I forgot, Cole—" His expression was genuinely apologetic.
"I can see that," Cole said calmly, and Rick was confused by the determined evenness of Cole's tone. Either he's planning to kill me, or I must look worse than I thought. When Cole put a hand in the middle of his back, propelling him toward the door, he decided it must be the latter. Cole muttered, "I should've known, when you didn't turn up, that something was wrong."
This is ridiculous. "Nothing's wrong!" Rick argued, in one last, angry burst of adrenaline. He side-stepped Cole, then turned to face him. "Get your hands off me." Rick's hands were clenched into fists. Some part of his brain told him he was being unreasonable, but the rest of his brain didn't want to listen. Cole had no right to come in here and interrupt his research. It was too important.
But, so is Cole's friendship, his brain argued back. Rick strove for a calmness that would match the determined look on Cole's face. The best he could do was a feeble, would-be explanation. "God damn it, Cole! I can't leave. I have things to do—" Anger bested him once more when he realised Cole was intent on ignoring his arguments. Rick gave Cole a shove. "Get out!"
Cole just stood there silently, watching him. Almost as if he were waiting. Waiting for what?
Rick didn't know what that last blast of anger had cost him. A vibrating column of black dots invaded his vision, and tried to fill it up. At first, still angry, he refused to yield. He staggered, and put out a hand to the wall for balance. Only it wasn't the wall that gripped him and held him up.
He shook his head, confused now. The vibrating dots had invaded his ears, and were buzzing there, filling his head with shifting blackness.
For just a moment, he held on—fighting for consciousness, and trying to control what was happening to him. He shook his head to clear it, and the gesture finished him. The last thing he remembered was the startling recognition that he was upside down, and then someone was lowering him into a car. The next sounds he heard were the roar of an engine and the squealing of tyres. It's got to be Cole, he thought. But, why's Cole driving in my lounge? "Cole?" he mumbled, confused.
Cole's voice sounded strained. "I'm here, Rick."
Rick had a flash of memory. "Sorry, Co—" he started to say, as he was struggling to sit up. The blackness came back with a vengeance, almost like it'd been waiting for him. Rick didn't remember anything else.
*
Sacchara decided to change the subject. The idea of an autopsy, or a dissection, didn't equate well with his memories of Caroline Denaro. "Dr. Solomon tried to give me his resignation again."
Vizar gave a grim smile. "What did he think this was—a house call?"
Sacchara chuckled. "Maybe he thought he could just write out a prescription."
Vizar thought about that for a moment, then leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head. "Wouldn't it be great, Justin, if that were true?"
Sacchara looked at him with surprise, then something akin to horror. "You're referring to a cure—I hope."
Daniel looked at his expression and laughed aloud. "What did you think I meant?" he asked. A little more seriously he added, "Though, you have to admit, a few of our customers might prefer otherwise."
*
Cole went over and checked Rick for the tenth time. It seemed to be taking forever for Jason to get here.
Should I have taken him to the hospital? Cole wondered. He put a hand briefly on Rick's forehead. Maybe he had meningitis or something.
"Get your hand off my face—" Rick murmured. His eyes opened a slit. "What the hell happened?" He started to sit up.
Cole watched Rick's eyes begin to lose focus and he hurriedly shoved him back down against the cushions. "Wait—"
Rick laid an arm across his eyes. He felt like hell. Everything he owned ached—from the top of his head to the tips of his toenails. He hoped Cole couldn't see how much his hand was shaking.
Cole could, and he moved to the microwave. He pulled out the hot dog that he'd put in a few minutes before. It'll do for a start, he thought. He shoved the bread-wrapped dog into Rick's hand. "Eat," he commanded.
Rick took several ravenous bites before Cole snatched the hot dog away.
"What'd you do that for?" Rick asked, still chewing. "Give it back—"
"Uh-uh. When you haven't eaten for a while, you have to take it slow—"
"You don't even take it slow after you've already eaten—" Rick argued. When Cole didn't respond, Rick sank back against the pillows and closed his eyes.
"Rick?" Cole asked in concern.
Rick opened one eye, and quickly snatched the hot dog out of Cole's hand. He shoved another bite into his mouth.
Cole decided it was time for some explanations. "How'd you get so much time off work? Won't you need a doctor's certificate to go back?"
Rick chewed while he talked. "Got one," he admitted. Cole didn't say anything. He was waiting for Rick to finish. "Anything more to eat?" Rick asked hopefully.
"Heaps. After you tell me what's wrong with you."
"Well—I've had a cold. Sort of a flu-cold, actually."
"A flu-cold?" Cole wasn't buying it. "How bad a cold?"
"Pneumonia-bad."
"Pneumonia?"
"Just a slight case." Rick coughed lightly, not letting it get to his lungs. "See?"
"You must've needed help. Why didn't you call me?" Cole was genuinely upset. "You could've stayed here while I was at work." All Rick's family lived at the other end of the country.
"Did you forget that your 'here' was 'there'? You were moving, remember?"
"Bullshit." Cole was angry now. "Are you better?"
"Sure—"
"Well, you look like hell. What does the doctor say?"
"She put me on antibiotics. No big deal."
"When do you go back?"
Rick shifted uncomfortably. "Just mind your own business, Cole."
Cole nodded. "That's what I thought. You forgot, right? Or were you just too sick to get there, and decided to get better on your own?" He went over to the cupboard, grabbed out a bag of potato chips, then changed his mind and grabbed cheese crackers instead. Healthier, he decided. He shoved the box under Rick's nose. "Eat. Then you're going back to the doctor. But Jason's going to take a look at you first."
Rick pushed the box away. "No, thanks," he said firmly, and Cole didn't know whether he was refusing the food, or his friends' help. Rick added, "One of the reasons we stay friends is because we don't stick our noses into each others' business."
Cole put the crackers on Rick's chest. Reading between the lines, he said, "You don't have any money, right? What about your great insurance coverage?"
"What are you—a mind reader?" Rick asked grouchily. But, he admitted, "It's pay now, reimburse later." Rick shoved the box of crackers back into Cole's hand. "Keep your damn crackers," he grumbled, and turned on his side. "Wake me up when you're ready to talk sense."
But it wasn't Cole who rolled him over on to his back, and put a stethoscope against his chest. "When did you get here?" Rick mumbled. "I already have a doctor."
"Who?" Jason asked, shooting a worried look at Cole.
"Peasman—or Peasdale. Something like that."
"We're going to pay her a visit," Jason said. "Let's go."
"Damn it, Jace!" Rick told him grumpily, "I don't even have an appointment. I'll see her tomorrow."
Cole saw the concern in Jason's eyes. "No way, Rick," Cole said. "Even if I have to carry you out of here, you're going. Up."
Rick sighed, admitting defeat. He hated the idea of imposing on his friends, and he felt like a fool being sick in front of Jason. The only thing that irritated him more was the idea of borrowing money from Cole, but he was feeling so rotten he couldn't even think. And I can't afford to lose any more time.
Cole gave him a hand up. Rick staggered and almost fell, but Jason was already on his other side, supporting him. Cole pulled Rick's arm over his shoulder and half-carried him outside. Rick's cheeks were flushed now, but Cole knew it wasn't with good health. He could feel the heat emanating through the other man's shirt. "I still can't understand why the hell you didn't call me," Cole said. "Or Jason," he amended, when he caught Jace's look.
Rick didn't even hear the last. He needed to explain—to make Cole understand. "Because I'd rented your house," Rick said.
Jason looked confused. "I'll explain later," Cole told him.
Rick went on as though Cole hadn't spoken. "I needed to do it, Cole," he said earnestly, and Cole wondered if his mind was starting to wander, from the fever. "She's not dead, Cole," Rick added. "And she needs to be one or the other. I think I can help her—"
"It's okay, Rick," Cole said. His friend's ramblings were scaring him, and he didn't know what to say. "It'll be okay—"
"No, Cole!" Rick pulled away, with surprising strength. "It won't be okay. Not until she's alive again—or dead. It's in the genes! Don't you see it?"
Jason had most of Rick's weight now, but Rick had forgotten he was there. He was so agitated that Jason mouthed to Cole, "Say something."
"You can explain it to me later," Cole said soothingly. "Right now, there's no point—"
Rick shivered, even though the day was hot. "You're right, Cole," he said, his teeth beginning to chatter. "There's no point in both of us going crazy." Jace caught him before he hit the ground.
*
Daniel looked up when Justin Sacchara came hurriedly into his office. What now? he thought, momentarily worried that something else might be wrong. No, the man looked better than he had in days—and certainly better than he had the day before, when they'd talked about dissecting Denaro.
"There's something here you've got to see!" Justin was carrying a rental agreement, and he plopped it down on Vizar's desk. "Look who's rented Denaro's house. Not only insisted on it, but has already moved in."
"Dr. Richard Lockmann." Vizar looked momentarily confused. "So?"
"Look at his occupation!"
"Plant pathologist." Vizar frowned. He pushed his chair away from the desk, leaned back, and read through Lockmann's application. "It's too much of a coincidence. Do you think our Dr. Lockmann might be looking for employment? If so, he's certainly taken an innovative approach." He handed the papers back to Sacchara. "See what you can find out. He'd need to have a shitload of molecular biology, and a strong grounding in genetics, to pick up where Denaro left off." As Sacchara turned to go, Vizar called him back. "One more thing, Justin. If you can, discover whether this Dr. Lockmann ever met Caroline Denaro."
*
Jason's voice, on Cole's answering machine, was unmistakably angry. "Where the hell is Rick, Cole? The damn fool's left the hospital!"
Cole came in just in time to hear the last. He picked up the phone. "What did you say?" he asked, incredulous.
"Rick's left the hospital. Simon went to visit him, but apparently he'd just left. What the hell's wrong with him, anyway?"
"You heard him. He has some fixation about that house. If I get him back to the hospital, can you dope him up so he doesn't leave again?"
Jason sighed. It was obvious he was fighting an inner battle against what he wanted to do for a friend versus the limitations of his position. "I'm not his doctor, Cole," he said. "And Rick wasn't delirious when he left—"
"He wasn't in his right mind, either—" Cole argued.
"Tell me about it," Jason said. He thought about it for a moment. "If you or Simon can find him, try to talk some sense into him. If you can't, ring me. I'll see what I can do."
*
Rick groaned when he heard the roar of Cole's racing engine. It didn't take the unmistakable thunder of Cole's footsteps in the hall for Rick to realise just how angry his friend was. He attempted to defuse the situation. "Hey, Cole!" he called out.
"Hey, yourself," Cole grumbled, as he came into the room. "What are you doing here?"
"Recovering, in the comfort of my own home." It sounded prim, even to his own ears.
"Jason rang me," Cole said grumpily. "He's mad as hell. So's Simon. He's looking for you right now, over at the mausoleum."
Rick didn't bother to ask. "Mausoleum" was an all-too-appropriate term for the other house he'd rented.
"Simon's right here." Simon's cool voice preceded him. He came into the lounge, and leaned nonchalantly against the door jamb. "Well, you look a helluva lot better than you did last night."
Rick didn't say anything. He'd been unconscious the night before.
Simon took an appraising look at the room. "If I were you, Rick, I'd definitely choose the hospital. Their interior decorating sure beats what you've done with this place."
"I came home because I have work to do," Rick told them seriously.
Cole began to pace. Simon warily watched the stacks of books, and shook his head. This was the wrong place for Cole to take out his frustrations.
"What can you possibly have to do that's so damned important?" Cole fumed. "You're acting like a lunatic."
"Just because you don't see it the way I do—"
"Nobody sees it the way you do, Rick," Simon interrupted.
"This is the way I see it, Rick," Cole said angrily. "Simon stopped by to visit you, only to be told that you'd left."
"'On his own recognisance'." Simon repeated the words the nurse had said.
"In other words, against medical advice." Cole was livid. "What's your problem, anyway?"
"No problem." Rick picked up the bottle of pills off the table. "I'm covered."
"Dammit, Rick—" Cole started to say. "Look, I don't know what game you're playing, but I don't want any part of it. If you're going to act like an ass, you can do it alone."
Simon crossed his arms. "You won't be able to do anything for anybody if you're dead," he said bluntly.
Rick was silent.
Cole noticed that the haunted look was still in his friend's eyes, but he refused to let it sway him. There was no way he was going to let Rick kill himself out of stupidity.
It still rankled that Rick hadn't explained why he'd rented the house Cole had coveted. In fact, when Cole had visited him this morning, he wouldn't explain any of what was bothering him, saying only that he'd talk about it when they were in a less public place than the four-bed hospital ward. Well, it was less public now. But Rick was still so sick Cole was reluctant to push him.
He shook his head, refusing to let Rick's weakness sway him. Rick obviously needed a boot in the butt, if that's what it took to get some sense back into his head. Cole admitted it: if it had been Simon who'd rented the mausoleum behind his back, he would have understood, because that was the way Simon's mind worked. But Rick—Cole couldn't believe it—Rick and he had always been open with each other.
*
Simon was at a loss to explain Rick's behaviour. When he'd first heard what Rick had done—renting the house Cole had wanted—he'd been secretly amused by the previously unsuspected deviousness of Rick's mind. But, when he'd thought it over, he'd quickly realised how out of character Rick's actions had been. Rick had risked Cole's friendship: something that Simon was sure meant more to him than any mere possession. No, there was something really wrong here, and it bothered him. Rick, along with Cole and Jace, had always been there for him, even when his sometimes irreverent attitude had irritated the hell out of them. No, something was eating at Rick—something serious. Simon couldn't help but be concerned by the change in Rick over the last few weeks.
*
Rick knew what they wanted, but was having trouble forming the words. How to spill your guts in one sentence or less, he thought. How to tell the truth without sounding like you're still delirious—or worse.
Especially not in front of Simon. Simon hadn't been there. Simon didn't have any idea what it had been like—
*
Rick shifted uncomfortably, torn between gratitude that they'd come by to check on him, and embarrassment at all the attention. The strain was beginning to wear on him, though, and after a few minutes, he began to wish they'd just leave.
Simon noticed, and decided Cole could probably handle this better alone. Cole knew Rick better than any of them. Simon glanced at his watch. "I have to go," he said tactfully. "Give me a call later, Cole? Bye, Rick."
"Yeah. Sure," Cole muttered.
Rick nodded. "Bye, Simon. Thanks."
After Simon had left, Cole plopped down in the chair he'd occupied the day before, and idly booted some of Rick's papers out of the way, hoping to stir some kind of reaction. "Rick—" he began, but it wasn't any easier for him to talk about his concerns than it was for Rick. "This is all bullshit, you know," he said, then realised that wasn't exactly the best way to get Rick to talk about what was bothering him.
Now that they were alone, Rick knew he should level with Cole. But, Cole's vitality was at such odds with what Rick had to say, that he couldn't think how to begin. The episodes of fever and weakness had confused what had once seemed alarmingly clear. He didn't know if he could untangle his theories from what he thought were the facts.
Rick was pretty certain Cole wouldn't believe him, either. He had a dim memory of his rantings the day before. Anything he could say now would only add to Cole's incredulity.
Cole stood up abruptly. "Are you coming with me or not?"
"Not," Rick said quietly. "Sorry, Cole."
Cole fidgeted for a minute, uncertain what to do. Short of forcing Rick to come with him again, there wasn't much he could do. He had the uncomfortable feeling that dragging Rick back to the hospital would be a fiasco. Rick, in his present state of mind, would only turn around at the first opportunity to come back here. It was obvious to Cole that Rick's mindset was what needed changing. He had to be made to see that his goddamned work wasn't worth the risk. Cole just didn't know where to begin. He needed time to think about it; maybe to talk it over with Jace.
It was Rick's continued silence that finally decided him. He and Rick had always been able to talk, even if it had only been joking around. The silence unnerved him. He went over and picked up the phone, making a big point of listening to the dial tone. "Oh," he said grimly, "it does work!"
Rick smile was strained. "I'll talk to you later."
"Yeah. Sure," Cole muttered, much as he had to Simon. He waited for a moment more, hoping that Rick would say something—anything—to break the silence.
He didn't. After a final disgruntled thump on a stack of books, Cole decided to go. "See you, Rick," he said. He turned around and stomped out of the room.
Rick slouched back on the couch, sighed, and buried his face in his hands.

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