Bad Medicine
#1
@Catherine @Corbenic

The apothecary had an odd, faintly macabre shop, if only due to the bird skeleton suspended from the ceiling. Felix had not asked Mr. Knott the asking price for it. He was not entirely certain anyone would want it, aside from possibly his father. Or Mr. Knott himself. Felix did rather want to sketch it, or rather, the entire shop and Mr. Knott himself, and wondered if Mr. Knott would be agreeable to the idea.

Which would have to wait for one day in the future, when he had more than an afternoon off. As it was, all Felix needed was another box of prophylactics. And perhaps some sort of soporific, though he was not at all certain he wanted to ask after such, as he feared the answer would be opium in one form or the other. Which Felix intended to avoid, for as long as he was able, if only to prove to himself that he could.

On his previous visit, the shop had been empty of all save himself and the owner, and he hoped that would remain the case this afternoon. Moving to the counter, Felix leaned against it. "A box of prophylactics, please, Mr. Knott," he said softly, hoping the man wouldn't comment on how quickly he'd gone through the previous box's supply.
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#2
Mr. Dietrich seemed to be attempting subterfuge this time. Which, given the subject of inquiry was not that unusual, but there wasn't anyone else about to hide it from, either. Though it was a bit sooner than usual. But he did not often dare to judge, lest he be judged himself. "Good afternoon, Mr. Dietrich." He smiled amiably and retrieved the box off the shelf. "I trust your last purchase was satisfactory?" He'd meant to inquire about the quality - had it broken, or malfunctioned in some way? - but he hadn't then considered the innuendo at all, and cleared his throat.
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#3
"Good afternoon Mr. Knott," Catherine called, bustling into the shop. The place was rather...dramatic, given the decor, but she supposed that was simply the small town charm and deliberately decided not to look up at the gigantic skeleton this time. She stopped instead at the sight of the other man leaning against the counter. She was not sure if she had seen him before, though from the way he held himself he appeared to be more or less a regular here. Briefly she considered what his business might be.

"Take your time," she acknowledged, dismissing herself to the back of the shop to allow for some measure of privacy between the two, even if it was small enough to easily overhear whatever words they exchanged. "It's the same order as usual, and an extra few bottles of laudanum today if you have time to mix them." She turned to busy herself examining some of the bottles along the back wall.
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#4
Felix wasn't honestly sure if the apothecary meant this the question the way he'd phrased it, and was merely asking of the quality entirely oblivious to any other meaning, or if it had been intentional. Despite the awkwardness, he was an attractive if somewhat odd man and Felix wasn't at all to responding as if he might have meant more... if another customer had not entered before he had a chance to form thought into word.

The customer was a woman in middle-age with dark hair and fine features, not at all the sort of person he'd want thinking he was a profligate wanton or worse, a caddish libertine seducing innocents throughout the village. "Satisfactory, yes," Felix replied in something of a choked tone, far less detail than he might otherwise have used. The woman's order arrested his attention. There was nothing in her appearance or manner that indicated she were an opium addict, though he knew well enough that one never could tell really. She seemed at ease there in the shop. Entirely more than he was at the moment.

"Yes. Quite, er, satisfactory, " Felix replied in more choked tones than he might otherwise have used. "Thank you, Mr. Knott."
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#5
His smile was a touch over-extended, his eyes popping, ever so subtly, as he witness Missus... Madame? LeClercq entering the shop just as he'd made his faux-pas. Grasping his hands together in anxiety, "Splendid. Good afternoon ... ma'am." Yes, Ma'am was alright? "I have already prepared a few this morning, in fact." He said of the laudanum, grateful for an excuse to disappear into the back room to gather her regular line of medicines.
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#6
Catherine nodded politely at the shopkeeper's reply, calling after him as he disappeared into the back. "Thank you Mister Knott, prepared as always! I truly appreciate it." So far the man seemed to have everything the hospital needed and then some. A good resource to be sure. Her eyes caught with the younger man at the counter when she looked over however, distracting her from her fixation with the wares in her corner of the shop.

Catherine gave a brief smile in greeting, adjusting the shopping basket over her arm. He seemed a jumpy fellow, nervous, she gathered, though what about she could not guess. Perhaps the nature of his purchase? There were plenty of reasons to wish to keep a visit to the apothecary secret, though little surprised her anymore. Still, Catherine found herself suspicious, if not from concern, then from a simple desire to know. It was a small town, and with only one hospital she it was only a matter of time until she knew far more than any sane person would want to about the people here. So instead of turning back to pretend to mind her own business, a polite farse at best what with them being the only two in the room, she decided conversation was best. "Good afternoon, I do not believe we have met. Madame, or Mrs, if you please, LeClerq." She emphasized the title, as she often did out of practice, lest anyone got any ideas. "I've only just recently arrived in Madsmoor, and I haven't had a chance to make everyone's acquaintance just yet I'm afraid!" she added, volunteering just enough to see if she could prompt something in kind.
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#7
Why was he so unsettled? It wasn't as though he'd never made such a purchase before, either, just never in front of a woman before. Though that wasn't entirely true, as Felix recalled laughing as he'd done so with Dora once, quite giddy on desire and wine, before rushing back to her tiny actresses' flat and making use of them. Which he wished he hadn't remembered this at this precise moment.

And apparently hoping that he could conclude his purchase and make his exit was in vain as well, for Mr. Knott had vanished into the back to fetch the laudanum, and the woman approached. Feeling more than slightly abandoned by the storekeeper, Felix managed to smile at Mrs. LeClercq in what he hoped was a relatively untroubled manner.

"Bonjour, Madame LeClercq," he replied. "Which is the extent of my poor French, I'm afraid. I'm Felix, and I'm fairly new to Madsmoor myself, having only just taken a position at the castle. I couldn't help notice your order, are you a physician?" A female doctor was rare, but not unheard of, and she had to be employed in the medical profession with an order like that. Which was all the more reason to keep his surname to himself; his father wasn't famous, so far as Felix knew, but he had been published. Which was more than Felix could say for himself. He was neither eager to be compared against his father, nor did he believe his father would appreciate even more people knowing his son's current state of employment.
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#8
He'd nearly forgotten the fly he'd murdered - along withe shattered vials. Damn! It was good that the door hadn't any window. How unprofessional they would find him! Corbenic took care to shuffle the glass out of his immediate way with his boot, and set together the bottles and boxes that were on Madame LeClercq's regular order, to which he added two additional bottles of laudanum that he'd mixed earlier, from the opium he'd set aside, mostly, for himself. But the customer was priority!

He returned and came in backwards, pushing the door open with his back, as his hands were full of the tray which held the intended supplies. "How dreadful of me - I ought to have rung you up first, sir." Setting the tray down and wrapping the box in which all the supplies were encased in.
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#9
"Très bon Monsieur Felix!" Catherine responded with playful encouragement to the attempted French. "Quite good indeed! I hope you have found this town agreeable so far?" Interesting how he had only given his first name, Catherine noted. Still, she was used to secrets, and equally practiced in prying them out of people.

"As for myself, quite close actually!" She continued in a friendly, open tone. It was an assumption she had heard a few times before. The title of doctor held quite a bit of prestige, and she supposed she should take the mistaken identity as a compliment, but she could not help but feel a flare of competitive indignation. "I have only just taken the position of Head Nurse at the new Hospital. A similar enough position, though we nurses tend to remember the people before the medicine. I must say the work is a full day's, and night's job. What was it you said you do again at the castle?" She flipped the subject quickly back to Felix, though perhaps not quickly enough, for just then Mr. Knott reappeared from the back of the shop.

She watched as he began to package the supplies, glancing across the dusky room from her corner to see that everything needed was present. There would be no good time today to make a return trip had he forgotten anything. The man's apology however made her remember herself. "Oh Mister Knott, I can wait. Please, see to Felix here first, I insist! After all, he was here before me!"

Perhaps it would answer her question of why the young man was so nervous as well.
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#10
Felix laughed lightly, appreciative of her praise, though he wondered if Madame LeClercq would have been so forgiving of his French if she knew how much time he had spent in Paris? Why had he never put more of an effort into learning the language? It wasn't as if he were incapable of it, but that was behind him. "Yes, quite agreeable really, it's an enchanting place," Felix replied, quite in earnest. The village had none of the grandeur or culture he was used to - he was dreadfully bored by his work . . . but Kel was here, and the village did have a charm of its own.

She corrected him on her profession, and he smiled at her. "A nurse, of course, I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me? That does seem to be the manner of physicians, isn't it? Entirely caught up in their own work, they forget everything else that should be important to them. As for myself, I am nothing to noble or useful as a nurse . . . or physician, for that matter. I am currently employed as a Footman, which is an honest position, if nothing else." He did hope this last didn't seem out of place to her; Felix was so terribly uncertain how to feel about his position, following his father's rejection of it as suitable work. Did nurses' read medical journals? It hardly mattered now, there was no casual way to add his surname into conversation and it wasn't as if it was terribly important.

When Mr. Knott returned with Madame LeClercq's order, Felix's eyes lingered too long on the bottles of laudanum, wondering if it would be so dreadful really if he were to just ask her if she would prescribe him such, for insomnia? He had hoped that the both of them would forget him and his purchase 'til the nurse had gone, but alas, that was not to be.

"I believe this is the right amount?" Felix placed his money on the counter, hastily snatching up the box of sheathes - he was so tired that he fumbled, and the box slipped from his hands, falling to the floor at Madame LeClercq's feet. Felix was too stunned to blush, but blinked at her. "I am so terribly sorry," he said, kneeling to pick it up. As a nurse, he could not hold any illusions that she might not know what they were. "I am just so frightfully tired. . ."
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#11
"Thank you, Madame. I do appreciate your patience, and I trust I have everything here that is required?" He scratched his head, looking over all the bottles and boxes he'd assembed for her one more time before starting to ring up Mr. Deitrich's purchases.

He jumped when Felix dropped the box, peering over the counter with nearly as much embarrassment as Felix seemed to have himself. "Oh dear, I hope nothing's been broken..." But he couldn't blame him, it was a strange situation. And yes, surely the lady knew what was in the box, but surely a nurse wouldn't be shocked to see a thing like that.
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#12
"I suppose I might find it in my heart to forgive such a thing," Catherine smiled to excuse the man's concern with a bit of levity as she stepped forward to examine the items Mr. Knott had produced from the back. "A footman is a perfectly noble position as any," she countered frankly as she lifted one of the bottles of laudanum, testing its weight - just in case. In her attention to reviewing her own purchase, she missed Felix's lingering gaze, thinking she might afford the young man some privacy to complete his business here.

At the clatter of something dropping to the floor, and Mister Knott's resulting flinch, all such intentions were forgotten however. Without so much as a thought otherwise, she too reached down to pick up the box just as it landed, knocking against her shoe. "It's quite alright," she consoled lifting it.

Her gaze lingered for a moment on the label, before she placed it into the hands of the young man kneeling on the floor before her. Their eyes met and wordlessly she looked him over. A small bony frame and rather pale complexion. Judging by the contents of the box, it might perhaps be no small coincidence that the man was as worn out as he claimed to be. This judgement however she kept to herself, choosing her words more carefully instead.

"Sorry to hear you have not been sleeping." The reply was sympathetic, though that alone did little to abate her curiosity. "Late nights at work? Or has there been another cause? Mister Knott does not have anything to help?" she glanced up at the shopkeeper.
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#13
It was kind of Madame LeClercq to reassure him about his position, but then of course she knew nothing about him and had no reason to believe he'd had every opportunity to a nobler profession in medicine himself, or had once had dreams or any talents whatsoever that at the moment seemed all but wasted. Perhaps this, more than anything else, was to blame for his sleepless nights.

And he was not at all certain how to respond to her retrieving the box for him. At least she was professional about it, and was certain to have dealt with worse - all Felix could do was accept it and do his best to be as casual about the exchange as she. "Merci," he said, tucking away the box of prophylactics. "It seems I do know a bit more French after all." It was a poor attempt to lighten the mood.

He glanced at Mr. Knott as well. "No, the work isn't terribly taxing, Madame LeClercq, nor particularly engaging . . . though I really shouldn't say. I'm afraid insomniac periods have troubled me or at least a decade, and I'm certain Mr. Knott would be quite willing to provide me with a bottle of laudanum to help. I was hoping you might have another suggestion? Other than an opiate." It seemed entirely too personal to mention his problems with opium in the past, but Felix rather hoped that she would understand, regardless.
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#14
Corbenic arranged himself upright, watching the exchange with a nervous smile as he completed the transaction. "I could certainly concoct something for your needs, Mr. Dietrich." That would mean less opium for his own personal use, but the customer always came first. It seemed said customer put forth his inquiry to the real professional here, however. Which he was only slightly insulted by. He was only a jack-of-all at medicine, after all, and master of none.
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#15
"A decade?" Catherine looked the young man over, he could not have been much past his mid-twenties. "I am terribly sorry to hear that. Have you been able to visit a doctor for it at all?" She glanced at the shopkeeper, "It seems you have been trying something, has it not been working? Laudanum is most commonly prescribed, we certainly use our fair share of it at the hospital," as exhibited by the contents of her own purchase. Seeing that Felix seemed to have completed his, she reached into her purse, setting the funds for the many bottles of laudanum and other drugs on the counter, and began to set the bottles into her basket, producing a light clink of glass with each one.
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