The Next Month At The Ford: Episode 7

Bibi is sitting in her office feeling depressed. She's not in hard need yet, but she's getting close, and the mail and gossip Nattin brought back from the post office haven't helped.

Bibi didn't mind the thick envelope of change pages for her shelf of looseleaf Tecton regulations manuals, but the news that a child on an outlying farm had killed his sister and been shot added greatly to her depression.

Cristal scratches at the office door.

Bibi: Come in!

Cristal: Hajene, I ... Oh my.

Bibi: Yes?

Cristal immediately assumes ~~ Tecton-standard medium support ~~

Bibi leans tentatively on Cristal's field. ~~ slight relief ~~

Bibi is feeling somewhat unsteady nagerically since her secondary system is nearly full and her primary is nearly empty.

Bibi: Thanks, Cristal. What can I do for you?

Cristal: It's of no consequence, Hajene. You obviously require ...

Bibi: I feel like shit warmed over. Maybe I should do an outfunction.

Cristal is grateful that Bibi diagnosed herself, and didn't require him to tell her openly what to do.

Cristal assumes the position: arms extended, field ~~ braced ~~.

Bibi: Um, let's go over and sit on the settee. Please close the door. Okay?

Cristal closes the door, ~~ watching ~~ Bibi's state.

Bibi gets up and carefully walks to the settee. ~~ queasy ~~

Cristal intensifies ~~ support ~~ as he walks to the settee and sits on it. He assumes the ~~ position ~~ again while waiting for Bibi to sit too.

Bibi sits, takes Cristal's arms, and leans against him.

Cristal waits patiently and secretly wishes he could sense what was going on.

Bibi: Just support me for a bit, project some repletion and some umm... offering without tempting me too much, okay?

Cristal thinks about how ~~ full ~~ he is and ~~ suggests ~~ can't-we-just-be-friends? ~~

Bibi: Thanks. What a month. Did Nattin tell you about the Carpenter kids?

Cristal: No, Hajene.

Bibi: They live a few kilometers west of town. Lived, that is. The boy changed over, killed his sister, and was shot last night.

Cristal holds his field ~~ steady ~~ but his inner feelings are perturbed.

Cristal: How ... disturbing for you.

Bibi: Depressing is more like it. Okay, just give me a steady neutral field and I'll do the outfunction.

Cristal goes ~~ neutral ~~ and holds it firm.

Bibi shifts her grip into the appropriate position, rests her head on Cristal's shoulder, something she can only do when they're sitting down, and pushes selyn back and forth between her secondary and primary systems for a minute or so.

Cristal holds ~~ steady resistance ~~

Bibi releases the Donor and leans back, feeling queasier than ever. Pushing all that selyn back into her secondary at the end was hard to do.

Bibi: Thanks...

Bibi closes her eyes and tries not to retch.

Magit rushes into the room without bothering to knock.

Magit: Hajene ... Sosu ... the light, the light, yes, yes, the light ....

Bibi leaps to her feet.

Bibi: Magit, what's wrong?

Magit moves to the center of the room, spins around in circles, and falls to the floor.

Magit: The sight of the light, the light of the sight ...

Magit emits this weird ~~ vibration ~~ into the ambient.

Bibi does not need to zlin that with the way she's feeling now.

Magit begins to twitch all over as her eyes roll back into her head.

Bibi kneels beside her and takes her arms, forcing her laterals out and entwining them.

Magit's twitching stops

Magit: ~~ FLASH ~~

Bibi wonders what the shen is going on. She's never zlinned anything like this before.

Magit's eyes open.

Magit: [weakly] Hajene?

Bibi: Yes, Magit?

Magit: What's happening? I felt ~~ dizzy ~~.

Bibi: ~~~ steady ~~ calm ~~~

Bibi: You came running in here, talking about light.

Magit's eyes roll up again and she begins to ~~ void ~~ into Bibi's laterals, which suck up the selyn.

Cristal intensifies his ~~ support ~~ of Bibi to maximum level, and tries to keep his attention entirely off Magit and her weird behavior.

Bibi resists the flow and tries to get a grip on Magit's field to stabilize it.

Bibi: Shidoni!

Magit's voiding slows, then stops. Her eyes open again.

Magit: I'm ~~ sorry ~~, Hajene. What was I doing?

Bibi: It's not your fault, Magit. Just stay there, try to relax. ~~ calm ~~ stability ~~

Bibi can zlin that Magit's selyn system is still not normalized, but the details escape her.

Cristal gets up and moves to the ~~ right ~~ location to cancel most of Magit's effect on Bibi's overstressed systems.

Magit starts her breathing exercises: in --- out. in --- out.

Bibi: That's good.

Magit's agitation diminishes as her emotions return to ~~ neutral ~~, at least for the moment, but she is still ~~ physically weak ~~ and ~~ dizzy ~~.

Bibi zlins the turbulence fading. She has never heard of turnover symptoms like this.

Magit: Bibi, I have this terrible feeling, like I've lost something, and I just have to find it, but I can't think where it might be. It makes me want to get up and run around looking for it ... except I ~~ don't feel like moving ~~.

Bibi: It's turnover, Magit. Just stay calm, rest.

Magit: Oh. [in Simelan] So, have I -- no, I have -- flipped over, eh? Turned over.

Bibi: [in Simelan] Yes. The first time is difficult.

Bibi hopes the second and other times won't be like this, and if they are, a better qualified expert on selyn systems will be there to zlin it.

Magit: Too right. This feeling in guts, it is need?

Bibi: Well, I think you're just a bit queasy. But that feeling that there's something gone, or going, that you have to find... that's need.

Magit: It is not like last time, you know, First Need. [in English] That was more like Last Desperation.

Bibi: No, it's not like First Need at all. Usually you can just keeping going along without being bothered too much for a week or more after turnover. Most renSimes can get along fine until a few days before transfer, and then they just don't feel so good.

Bibi: Can you sit up, Magit?

Magit: [in Simelan] I think I get up now, yes.

Magit sits up, feels a ~~ twinge of dizziness ~~ but nothing like before.

Bibi: Just sit for a while.

Cristal eases off the ~~ support ~~ a notch.

Bibi puts her arm around Magit, hugging her and enveloping her in her showfield.

Magit: Ahhhh. Much better, yes. Thank you, Hajene.

Bibi: You'll never feel that terrible desperation of First Need again, Magit. You'll always be able to take transfer before it gets anything like that intense.

Magit: [in English] I certainly hope not. That was a nightmare. Seruffin told you, I guess?

Bibi: Yes, Hajene Seruffin wrote up a detailed report. You had an unusually hard time of it.

Magit: Did I? I wonder why. [in Simelan] I zlin you make me feel good, but you aren't feel so good yourself really. [in English] There's a little edge to your field, somehow.

Bibi: Well, kids in-T learn about changeover, so they know what's going to happen, and how to work with the channel who's helping them. They're excited, but they're happy about it.

Cristal tries to keep his surprise at Magit's remark out of his field, not quite successfully.

Bibi: It was very different for you, wasn't it?

Magit: [in Simelan] I remember much pains and many fatigues and [English] bizarre hallucinations, too.

Bibi figures Magit, as a recent child, is reading her (rather haggard) appearance to deduce that she is not in very good shape.

Bibi: Here, let's sit on the settee.

Magit: Okay.

Bibi helps Magit up and the three of them sit.

Magit: [in Simelan] Tell-true: I almost died then, eh?

Bibi: You might have. You were very lucky that Hajene Seruffin was there for you.

Magit: Yes, good he was big nager channel for me.

Bibi: Magit, do you want to talk to me about the first part, about your mother and grandfather, and the cellar? ~~ comfort ~~~

Magit: [in English] Well, I know I was wrong to run into the cellar, at least by out-Territory rules, but I'm glad I did anyhow. Obviously.

Magit looks at her tentacles pensively.

Magit: It was scary down in that cellar, but I was trying to be brave, or as brave as possible.

Magit: [in Simelan] Somehow I not think true courage standing still to be shot.

Magit: [in English] Then when Gerrhonot came through that door, I picked up on his confidence at once, and I was able to walk right out of there and not worry about being shot or anything else. Even when he had to carry me, that was because I felt weak, not because I was afraid.

Bibi sees that Magit isn't ready to accept her memories of her own feelings at the time.

Bibi: It all worked out well. I'm so glad it did, Magit. ~~ happiness ~~~ comfort ~~ calm ~~

Magit's system resonates the ~~ comfort ~~ and ~~ calm ~~. She still thinks like a Gen: courage is the highest virtue.

Bibi: Cristal, could you bring a dose of fosebine for Magit? And one for me, as well?

Cristal carefully disengages his attention, and goes to the sink, where he takes two doses out of the cabinet and mixes them with cold water. He brings them back to the settee.

Bibi: Thank you. Here's some more of that awful stuff. Do you think you can swallow it?

Magit: [in Simelan] You swallow, I swallow too, ha. Your head hurts, eh?

Bibi: My head isn't too bad, but this stuff is good for all that ails you, at least with your selyn system.

Bibi squinches her nose closed, gives Magit a look, and swallows the bitter liquid in a gulp.

Magit imitates Bibi, but doesn't squinch her nose quite thoroughly enough, and ~~ gags ~~ on it.

Magit: Sorry, Hajene.

Bibi keeps her showfield ~~ steady ~~ calm ~~ and ~~comforting ~~ as she shudders with revulsion.

Bibi: Awful, isn't it?

Bibi smiles.

Magit tries to smile too.

Magit: [in English] I can't get used to how different you zlin from how you look at times like this. It makes me sort of not trust my senses, you know?

Bibi: Yes, channels are like that. Most Simes deal with us only when they're in need, so their Sime senses take precedence.

Magit: I guess I'm still used to "seeing is believing", at least when there's a mismatch like this.

Bibi: Yes, for most Simes, zlinning is believing. As you get used to your Sime senses, you'll probably feel the same way.

Cristal smiles.

Bibi: Cristal is smiling because I can never fool a Gen with my showfield.

Magit: But, but, still. [in Simelan] I still zlin you different when projecting good-field, feel bad, as when you feel good, zlin good too. How?

Magit looks to any channel for the source of everything Sime-related.

Bibi: Hajene Seruffin thinks you're unusually sensitive for a renSime, so you can zlin things most renSimes can't.

Magit: Is that good, that bad?

Bibi: Well, at first, it makes things more confusing for you, when you're trying to learn to use your Sime senses. But once you do learn, it will be helpful. It's sort of like someone who has very good hearing, and can hear things too faint for most people.

Magit: Okay, good. Will not make need worse or make me more ... dangersome?

Bibi: No, I don't think so. But you'll be able to pick up feelings that most people think are hidden, so you'll have to be tactful to avoid embarrassing them.

Magit: Tact, yes, good. Must learn to shut up ... some day. First-Year-learning-capacity will help me learn to shut up?

Bibi: Well, you don't have to shut up. Just be careful not to hurt people's feelings. Think about how you'd feel if you were them, and act accordingly.

Bibi: So, can you tell me what happened before you came in here, and what you felt after you came in?

Bibi wants to write up a clear report, to help the next channel figure out what to do with this poor kid and her very idiosyncratic reactions.

Magit: [in English] Well, I zlinned some kind of disturbance in the ambient, and something inside my body went click, or sort of the zlinned equivalent of that. And then I got dizzy and confused, and I felt like I might fall down. So I decided I better find you quick, just in case it was real trouble. And then I came in here, and I knew I was saying something, but I didn't know what it was. I was just so filled with ~~ anxiety ~~.

Magit's feelings return to that moment, but only as an echo of their original intensity.

Bibi: Do you remember anything after you came in here? You were talking about "the light" and spinning around.

Magit: Spinning around? Really? Wow. ~~ anxiety immediately replaced by amusement ~~ I guess I was looking for selyn -- in all corners of the room, or something. As for "the light", well, you know how it looks when you press your fingers against your closed eyes?

Bibi: Uh huh.

Magit: Well, whenever there's a sudden change in the ambient, that's the way it seems to me, like a bright flash you see on the inside of your eyelids. Even though my eyes were open.

Bibi: I see. Does it startle you when it happens?

Magit: If it's bright enough, yes. [in Simelan] I zlinned bright flash just before [English] click [Simelan], again then on floor here. [in English] When I woke up, you know, and you were holding my laterals.

Bibi: How are you feeling now?

Magit: [English] Much better, thanks, Hajene.

Bibi: That's good. You zlin a lot better too. That awful taste is almost worth it, isn't it?

Magit: Yes, it is. [Simelan] I zlin your field more even, less ripply, you know? It matches real feeling better you, I think. Sosu, is true Hajene feeling better, yes?

Cristal smiles at Magit without wavering in his ~support~~

Cristal: I certainly think so, or actually my body thinks so.

Magit: Indeed I zlin yes.

Bibi: Well, I am feeling better, so you're both right.

Magit: [English] Sosu and I, you can't fool us, can she Sosu?

Cristal: [English] You betcha, Magit.

Bibi: Magit, would you ask Gitl to make a pot of tea for me and Cristal?

Magit: Sure, Hajene. One pot, coming up!

Bibi: Thanks, Magit.

Magit gets up and goes out ~~ chipperly ~~, cleverly closing the door on the way out without being asked.

Bibi: I'm worried about her, Cristal. She was voiding, the second time she passed out.

Bibi shivers.

Cristal: Voiding? Shen, Hajene. I had no idea, of course.

Cristal raises the support level.

Bibi: I hope they can find someone in-T to figure out what's going on. And her mother has some strange nageric characteristics as well. These villages --- you find all kinds of unusual traits concentrated.

Cristal: Yes, I suppose inbreeding is unavoidable, or at least it used to be.

Bibi: Hey, half the people in the area I come from have green eyes. I never realized that was unusual until I went in-T.

Cristal: I haven't seen the file on her mother: what was unusual about her?

Bibi: Read it if you like. Seruffin describes a very strange nager, and an idiosyncratic reaction to draw. Something like cataplexy, we think. At least the Mullins family seems to be pretty normal. I'd hate to think of a whole village of Virlas and Magits coming in here for donations or changeovers. I suppose a First could write a paper on it. Maybe one will, on Magit, at least. I'm sending a copy of her mother's records in-T with hers.

Cristal laughs softly.

Cristal: I can just see the Tecton marooning a First Order Channel out here. Not. He'd go nuts with entran in no time.

Cristal's field fills with ~~ laughter ~~ for a moment; then he remembers himself and reverts ~~ abruptly to Tecton standard ~~.

Bibi: I suppose they could send one out for short periods... it's okay, Cristal, I like your natural reactions sometimes, when they're like that.

Cristal sighs, holding the field ~~ steady ~~.

Cristal: I guess I'm not the kind of person who can laugh very easily ... Bibi.

Bibi: I'm sorry you're so unhappy out-T. I suppose you'll be going back soon.

Cristal: Well, ever since Hajene Seruffin and I had that, um, conversation .... I don't think it's out-T that's the real problem.

Bibi makes an encouraging sound.

Cristal: I've been thinking about it a lot. I just seem to be, well, the kind of person who can't seem to help taking everything ... The hard way. I really do admire you for your ability to take life easy so much of the time. ~~ painful truth ~~

Bibi wonders what he means by "taking life easy". If she wanted to take life easy, she'd be some minor channel in a big Sime Center, doing only the most routine of tasks.

Cristal: Oh, I don't mean now, when I know you're having a hard time

Cristal intensifies ~~ support ~~

Cristal: But in general, you seem to be able to maintain perspective about things, more than most channels I've worked with. You don't, well, ~~embarrassment~~ go into a tizzy every time something goes wrong. [pause] As I do.

Cristal quickly returns to ~~ support ~~

Bibi moves closer to Cristal and takes his hand.

Cristal: ~~ sympathy self-pity grief relief ~~ all at once.

Cristal: Do you notice how courage is the thing which matters most to Gens here out-T? Magit, even though she's a Sime, can't bring herself to admit how terrifying her First Transfer was. Well, for me what has always mattered more than anything else was self-control. If I didn't maintain it, every minute of the day, I never felt that I knew whether I could trust myself to keep a grip on my feelings when I needed to. Otherwise I could ~~ upwelling of deep painful emotion ~~ hurt someone.

Bibi: You feel that you're dangerous or could be dangerous... Most Simes feel that way, at times at least.

Cristal: They tell us in Donor training that we are deadly weapons, as deadly as any Sime.

Bibi: Have you ever wanted to really hurt a Sime nagerically?

Cristal: ~~ shock ~~ No, Hajene! It's not about that. It's about what I can do to a channel ~~ to you ~~ without meaning any harm.

Cristal: ~~ clinical ~~ Look, there's an example. I'm letting my field change with my changing emotions, and I just hit you with that surprise I just felt at what you asked. That can't be making you feel good. ~~ standard Tecton, more than slightly overwound ~~

Bibi: Well, I'm no Farris. You don't have to treat me like spun glass.

Cristal: I understand that, Hajene. Fundamentally ... ~~ clams up, hard ~~

Cristal: We are told the Tecton and its channels can be trusted absolutely, and we learn to trust them. Channels are to be trusted, Farrises are to be trusted, the Firsts are to be trusted, But I ... I ... I ... ~~ locks down emotions beyond all loosening ~~

Cristal: [silence]

Bibi strokes Cristal's arm gently with her handling tentacles.

Cristal forces himself to breathe regularly. He opens his mouth, but nothing comes out.

Cristal: But. I. Am. Not. To. Be. Trusted.

Cristal clamps down on his emotions again.

Bibi: I trust you, Cristal. I don't believe you'd ever hurt me intentionally.

Cristal: ~~ dissolves into frank self-pity ~~

Bibi leaves out mention of how he annoys her, a whole different matter.

Cristal's tears begin to streak down his face. He puts his hands over his face, wipes the tears away, holds his hands there as if they would conceal him utterly.

Cristal: [formally, but brokenly] Hajene, with all respect, you do not understand.

Bibi puts her arm around Cristal's shoulder and gently strokes his face with her tentacles.

Cristal: I know that you trust me not to hurt you on purpose. I also know [long pause] that you cannot trust me not to hurt you not on purpose. With my field, or .... Or, well, my beliefs. No. My attitudes.

Bibi: Well, you do sometimes annoy me, but that's natural. You're entitled to your beliefs. And it's true you could hurt me nagerically, by accident, but I don't believe you will.

Cristal: [softly] Thank you, Bibi. I required that.

Bibi: You're a very good Donor, Cristal. Very skilled.

Cristal: Yes, but with a talent for rubbing channels the wrong way. You've noticed how many people I've worked with? ~~ self-deprecation ~~ I used to make that a point of pride! The fact is ~~ lightly bitter ~~ I have the social talent of a mud-clot.

Bibi can't honestly disagree with that. She's not sure what to say or do.

Cristal smiles

Cristal: You might as well agree with me, Bibi. It's all over your face anyhow.

Bibi blushes.

Cristal: [teasing a bit] Go ahead, say it! "Cristal, you have the social talent of a mud-clot."

Bibi: Right now, it's not your social talents I'm interested in.

Cristal moves easily and smoothly back to ~~ Tecton standard support ~~

Cristal: Of course, Bibi. Was the outfunction less than satisfactory, then?

Bibi: The outfunction was fine. You always give me the field characteristics I ask for.

Cristal: But?

Bibi: I'm just unusually uncomfortable because my secondary is so full, and it makes your repletion more attractive than usual.

Cristal fades down to ~~ light support only ~~

Cristal: Does that help?

Bibi: Cristal... I don't want to mess up your training, or the methods that work for you... and this isn't Tecton standard...

Cristal knows an opportunity when he hears one.

Cristal: I trust you, Hajene. [melodramatically] Do with me what you will.

Bibi laughs.

Cristal keeps a straight face but lets the ~~ laughter ~~ fill his entire field.

Bibi snuggles closer and takes one of Cristal's hands, running her tentacles up his arm.

Bibi: That's nice.. just go ahead and... feel... about me...

Cristal twists his head, looks directly into Bibi's eyes, lets the laughter in his field be replaced by ~~intense compassion~~

Cristal: [softly, almost caressingly] Bibi.

Bibi shivers and sighs, her eyes closed.

Cristal reaches out with his other arm and ~~ daringly ~~ strokes Bibi's cheek very lightly, just barely touching her ~~ warm Sime skin ~~ at all.

Bibi: Mmmm.

Cristal intensifies the caress; the compassion is replaced by ~~ almost overwhelming tenderness ~~.

Cristal smiles broadly.

Bibi: This is really lovely, Cristal. You're making me feel so good, and not raising my intil at all. You're very talented, you know.

Cristal: I may be a mud-clot, but I'm a [English] damned [Simelan] good Donor. ~~ self-satisfaction tenderness ~~

Cristal finds it more satisfying to swear in foreign languages.

Cristal gently lifts his arm, the one Bibi has in her tentacles; she hangs on but lets him move. He brings the arm to the other side of Bibi's face, lifting Bibi's head off his shoulder, cradling her head between his two hands.

Bibi adjusts the position of her tentacles to avoid losing contact or having her elbow thrust into her ear.

Cristal ~~ vividly imagines ~~ his field being concentrated in his hands, his selyn passing out of each hand, through Bibi, and into the other hand in two equal and opposing flows. ~~ focused serenity tenderness quiet joy ~~

Bibi moans and runs her hands up Cristal's arms to his neck and shoulders. Her laterals flick out to touch his neck, leaving streaks of ronaplin.

Cristal: ~~ surprise pleasure ~~ ~~ caution ~~ Bibi, are you all right?

Bibi: Mmmm. Help me, Cristal. I'm raising intil, help me come down.

Cristal carefully, carefully ~~ backs off ~~ psychologically, allowing his feelings to damp down naturally rather than violently repressing them. He sets his field to ~~ gentle denial ~~ ~~ concern ~~

Bibi: That's good...thanks... just hold me...

Cristal brings Bibi's head to his chest and slides his hand down to clasp her in a gentle ~~ hug ~~.

Bibi wraps her arms around her Donor, and sighs.

Cristal: ~~ warmth confidence competence ~~

Bibi: See? I knew I could trust you. That was lovely.

Cristal finds himself grinning even more than before. ~~ glee ~~

Cristal: You were right, Bibi. It was lovely -- for both of us.

Cristal: ~~ amazement ~~ I did it, didn't I? Safely.

Bibi: You're very skillful, and very careful.

Cristal: But it was because of you that I was ... free to do what you ... needed.

Bibi: Mmmm?

Cristal: If you hadn't encouraged me to, well, be myself -- my true self -- I wouldn't have been able to go with my emotions.

Bibi: I think we're going to have a wonderful transfer.

Cristal: [English] You bet your ass we are.

Bibi is getting into that stage of the need cycle where transfer is constantly at the front of her mind.

Cristal is beginning to have mild facial neuralgia because he can't stop ~~ grinning ~~. He consciously relaxes his facial muscles and shapes his lips into an "O".

Bibi is smiling too, and only partly from Cristal's involuntary projection.

Cristal relaxes his arms slightly, encouraging Bibi to lean back against them so that he can ~~ catch her eyes ~~

Cristal: [Simelan] [fishing a bit] Better?

Bibi opens her eyes part way.

Cristal relaxes his facial muscles fully ~~ happiness relaxation pride repletion ~~

Bibi: Yes. Your repletion is beautiful. I wonder where Magit is with that tea?

Cristal: [melodramatic] Frankly, my dear, I don't give a [English] damn.

Bibi smiles broadly too.

Cristal lightly and tenderly kisses Bibi on the forehead.

Bibi wants to keep this up all afternoon, but she has work to do.

Cristal senses the change in Bibi's mood and gently lets her go.

Cristal reverts to ~~ light support ~~ but with a slightly different flavor to it, somehow.

Cristal: And now, back to the shenned paperwork. Eh?

Bibi: Yeah. The shenned paperwork.

Magit opens the door after knocking this time.

Magit: Tea, anyone?

Bibi: Thanks, Magit. Tea will be great.

Magit is carrying the pot in her hands and has the cups hooked over her tentacles. She pours out three cups and hands them around.

Cristal sips his tea.

Cristal: Ahhh.

Magit sits down and begins to nurse her tea as well.

Bibi sips her tea with enjoyment.

Cristal bends over the paperwork on Bibi's desk with a totally straight face, but the ~~ grin ~~ is still lurking around his eyes somewhere.

Magit raises one eyebrow.

Magit: Hmmmm.

Bibi wonders if she can get Magit to insert all the change pages, but figures her written Simelan isn't good enough yet.

Cristal: Thank you, Magit. And now we've got to finish our paperwork. ~~ very serious ~~

Magit: [English] Gotcha.

Magit picks up her empty teacup and sails out of the room, closing the door behind her.

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