Bibi tried to get some sleep after her... talk... with Seruffin under the lilacs, to no avail. She left the spray of lilac flowers Seruffin gave her as a token of his promise to dry on her night table and went downstairs to make some tea.
Bibi built a fire in the cookstove and is waiting for the water to boil. She's not watching it, she's just giving it the occasional zlin.
Marvin zlins bubbles-rising-through-fluid and concludes that tea's being made, so he comes in from the other room. He came downstairs a few minutes before.
Bibi: Oh, hi, Marvin. Want some trin? ~~ affection ~~
Marvin: Hi, Bibi. ~~ affection concern anxiety ~~
Bibi puts the leaves in the teapot and fills it with boiling water.
Marvin: I was trying to decide whether to say "Well, I've really done it this time" or "I guess the fat's in the fire this time", but I couldn't.
Bibi goes to Marvin and hugs him.
Bibi: Things aren't as bad as you may think.
Marvin hugs back ~~ affection anxiety ~~
Bibi: ~~ sympathy ~~ encouragement ~~ comfort ~~
Marvin: To hear Seruffin tell it, they are just about as bad as they could be: the Unity Treaties are tottering.
Bibi: He understands why you did what you did. He's more sympathetic than he let you zlin.
Bibi: Let's sit in the common room. Here, you get the mugs, I'll carry the pot.
Marvin: I sorta guessed he might be, but I didn't want to let myself believe it. Unlike most in-T types, he's pretty good at controlling his face, not just his field.
Marvin picks up the mugs and sets them down on the tea table.
Bibi: Yes, he'd need that, as a diplomat, dealing with Gens.
Bibi carries in the pot and sits on the sofa.
Marvin: [English] Sure, that figures.
Bibi: Marvin, it must have been like your dreams coming true, except as nightmares. ~~ sympathy ~~
Marvin nods his head ruefully.
Marvin: That about covers it. I get to do a transfer, a First Transfer, and it goes just perfectly -- as an experience. But everything else, the lead-in, the after-effects ...
Bibi: You did a very good job of serving transfer. No one would know Fridda wasn't served by an experienced working channel. Seruffin examined Sanda, and she wasn't hurt in the least. She was even eager to let him check her out.
Marvin: Good. Good.
Bibi is careful not to say that Fridda shows no sign of having taken First Transfer from a disjunct.
Marvin: ~~ relief ~~
Bibi: Reverse shunts are really hard if you aren't just undoing a regular shunt. It took me a while to learn it, and I'm not sure I could do it without a few tries myself now.
Marvin: It made me feel like I was trying to, well, force myself to throw up. Without a finger or a feather.
Bibi thinks about that.
Bibi: Yeah, I guess you could put it that way, but it's pretty gross. ~~ humor ~~
Marvin: Didn't you know? Gross is my middle name. ~~ humor ~~
Bibi: I can try to teach you, if you like.
Marvin: ~~ surprise ~~ Are you sure?
Bibi: Well, why not? We don't have to tell anybody. There's not that much to it. They had us zlin a channel doing it, and then we just had to try it over and over until we figured it out.
Marvin shuts his eyes and nods slowly.
Marvin: Okay, I'll try. Here's my best Gen.
Bibi: The trick is not letting the selyn just drop back.
Marvin does his best Gen while trying to zlin Bibi at the same time.
Bibi takes Marvin in a transfer contact. She pushes some selyn out of her primary into her secondary and after a couple of false steps manages to "shut the valve", keeping it there.
Bibi: Ugh. I don't have enough in my primary to move as much as a renSime would need.
Bibi feels ~~ extremely uncomfortable ~~
Bibi: Can I put it back now?
Marvin: Oh, shen, yes.
Bibi lets the selyn find its own natural level for this time of month with ~~ relief ~~
Bibi: Do you want me to do it again?
Marvin: I think I should try now, maybe?
Bibi: Okay. ~~ steady neutral resistive Gen field ~~
Marvin disgorges selyn from his primary and shunts it into his secondary, but it flows right back in.
Marvin tries again, and is able to capture a bit of selyn in his secondary this time, but he can't let any more in without losing what he already has.
Marvin: I just don't seem to be able to keep it in without keeping it out, too. How do you make that one-way valve work?
Bibi: I can't really describe it. It's just one of those things that you have to sort of fiddle around inside until you get the trick. Do you want me to demonstrate again?
Marvin: I'd like another demonstration to zlin, but I'm worried you'll upset your system too much at this stage. That last one didn't zlin any too good. ~~ sympathy concern ~~
Bibi: I'll be okay. Maybe just once more for now.
Marvin: I worry about you, living out here and not exercising your secondary enough.
Bibi: I can always do outfunctions. Say, you know when you do an outfunction you always start by moving the selyn from secondary to primary and back? You never drop the level in the primary below the starting value. That's why reverse shunts are so much harder than regular ones. Your primary really really doesn't want to get depleted.
Marvin: Um, yeah, you might well say that. That gives me an idea. I'm going to create a sharp spike of Simeness in my showfield ...
Marvin is glad he was able to articulate all those esses
Marvin: ... and leave my primary system open. You set yourself to deny me completely, and the selyn will have only one place to flow from. Then after the quick spike is over I'll slam the gates shut. Sound feasible?
Bibi is ~~ dubious ~~
Bibi: Well, if you mess yourself up, we do have a high First on site to fix you up.
Bibi offers a transfer contact ~~ the Gen Who Shens ~~
Bibi: Like that?
Marvin: It looks good to me. [English] Well, here goes nuthin'.
Marvin uses his showfield to simulate a renSime-level junct demand: short, sharp, and sudden. At the same time, he relaxes all the defenses around his primary system, as if he were trying to allow himself to be killed.
Bibi conceals her ~~horror ~~ and ~~revulsion ~~ behind a ~~ neutral ~~ showfield.
Marvin feels selyn flow across Bibi's simulated Gen resistance from his open primary into his secondary, and then both systems snap shut, leaving him close to turnover level -- but feeling no trace of need. His jaw drops as he tries to assess the situation in his body and in Bibi's field.
Marvin: [like he's been punched in the stomach] Oh, shidoni.
Bibi puts her hands over Marvin's vriamic node.
Marvin takes a deep breath and attempts to release tension.
Bibi: Let it flow back Marvin, before you really hurt yourself.
Marvin: I will. But I want to, well, experience the experience. It is just so weird to be so low-field, and still feel so, well, not post, certainly, but very definitely pre-turnover. It's like my selyn level has nothing at all to do with the need cycle. ~~ wonder surprise ~~
Bibi: Feels unnatural, doesn't it?
Marvin: No. Not exactly. Kind of liberating, in a funny sort of way. It's sort of like when you hyperventilate and then you feel like you can swim and swim and swim without coming up for air, but you've got to or you'll run out of oxygen. Did you ever do that?
Bibi: They say that if you take a shunt to hold off transfer, you stay in hard need, even if you shunt a week's worth. You just don't go into attrition.
Bibi shudders. Now that she may have to do it herself some time, it seems a lot less of an objectively interesting phenomenon.
Marvin: I'm sorry. I'm upsetting you. ~~ concern ~~
Bibi: No, I was thinking of something else.
Marvin releases the gates and the selyn rushes back to normal, leaving his field ~~ ringing with weak, but definite, satisfaction ~~
Marvin: Wow. I could get used to that. Maybe too used to it. --Bibi?
Bibi: I hope I haven't gotten you started on a new vice, playing with your systems that way. Leave it to Farrises and other masochists.
Marvin: I guess I should have let the selyn seep back in instead of just letting go like that.
Marvin is feeling just a bit ~~ post ~~.
Bibi smiles, wishing she and Marvin were in phase. Although with Seruffin present she'd feel uncomfortable acting on it. Oh, dear.
Bibi: Here, let's have some tea.
Marvin forces himself to sip the tea, not gulp it -- he doesn't want a zlinnable burn.
Marvin does his Tecton and KA relaxation exercises.
Bibi: They should have taught you more, for emergencies like that one. I don't know if you could have shunted enough to serve Fridda, but maybe with what you could skim off Eugen, too, you could have done it.
Marvin: He was so low I was afraid to touch him. Also, if I were really driven by desperation, I think I could have used an even deeper spike in the field. But it's all selyn under the bridge now, eh? ~~ humor ~~
Bibi: The timing was terrible. Such bad luck. An empty mule.
Marvin: Yeah. First you have to get his attention, eh? ~~ more humor, but not quite covering up a deeper disquiet ~~
Bibi: But some good things came out of it. Mik will be here where we can help him.
Bibi zlins the disquiet and offers ~~ comfort ~~ friendship ~~ affection ~~
Marvin: Bibi, I couldn't help zlinning your reaction when I started the reverse shunt.
Marvin plays back the ~~ horror ~~ and ~~ revulsion ~~, using his talent as a selyn mimic.
Marvin: I need to understand this. Did you see me -- as a junct?
Bibi: I'm sorry. I thought I had that concealed.
Marvin: ~~ serious ~~ It isn't whether you did or you didn't that concerns me. It's the fact that that's the way I made you -- perhaps my best friend in the world -- feel.
Bibi: It seemed like you were simulating a junct demand, and leaving yourself open to be killed. I didn't expect anything like that. I was surprised. Both at once like that. Weird, as well as shocking.
Marvin: I guess, yes, it was a perversion. I was using my channeling system to kill -- myself.
Bibi blushes again.
Bibi: I was afraid for you.
Marvin: ~~ warmth ~~
Marvin: I was sure you -- and Seruffin, if necessary, but mostly you -- would do whatever it took to keep me alive.
Marvin: ~~ humor ~~ For my trial, if nothing else!
Bibi: You know I accept you for what you are, Marvin. You're not a junct. I could never see you that way.
Marvin: I know. But having been a junct perhaps gives me -- capabilities -- that nonjuncts don't have. Or wouldn't think to use if they do have them.
Bibi: You're just a friggin' genius with your nager. I can't believe some of the things you do sometimes! ~~ affection ~~ admiration ~~
Marvin blushes this time.
Marvin: Well, but, it's easy for me to get carried away, and do things that, well, are waaay over the top. I certainly don't think that particular reverse shunt technique will ever become a Tecton standard!
Bibi: If you ever have to do it, don't do it where anybody can zlin it, especially a kid in changeover. She'd drop dead of heart failure! ~~ about 10% serious ~~
Marvin: ~~ owlishly ~~ [English] It shall be done, superior ma'am!
Bibi: But I think you've figured out the "valve trick" so you don't have to do it that way now.
Marvin: ~~ serious ~~ No, I don't think I have, actually. I ended up getting the selyn fast and keeping it in by main force, but there still wasn't any one-way about it.
Bibi: Marvin, if there's anything I can teach you, just ask, okay?
Marvin: I will. I guess I don't even know what can be done, other than the things I've figured out for myself.
Marvin forms a ball of ~~ bittersweet irony ~~ in his nager and tosses it in Bibi's direction.
Marvin zlins his ball sail past Bibi and burst like a soap bubble.
Bibi: Maybe some time you'll be here when we have a child in changeover, and you can work with me, zlin what I'm doing.
Bibi looks down. ~~ cautious ~~ embarrassed ~~
Bibi: I'd really like you to have the opportunity to zlin me serving First Transfer.
Marvin: ~~ vast surprise ~~
Marvin: I had no idea. Really. Of course I'm honored. And shen, yes, I want to.
Marvin: ~~ still stunned ~~
Bibi: I had such an excellent experience... it's the only way I can think of to really share it with you.
Marvin flashes his hundred-Gen-power smile.
Marvin: I couldn't think of anything that would make me happier, Bibi. Really. ~~ happiness anticipation ~~
Bibi: Too bad we can't schedule these things.
Marvin: Yeah. A pity there aren't any herbs to induce changeover!
Bibi sips her tea.
Marvin does the same.
Bibi: Fridda's tentacles are doing better. Gerrhonot is remarkably good at healing. I don't think she'll need the poppy syrup in a few days.
Marvin: ~~ relief ~~ That stuff is so dangerous, even when you're just using it for pain.
Bibi: I've had a few kids in here who had been tied up, but never for as long, never such severe injury. They healed up pretty fast, with almost no residual damage. Well, except for the one I lost to attrition before breakout. ~~ remembered pain ~~ sorrow ~~
Marvin: Oh, Bibi.
Marvin replays the ~~ sympathy ~~ encouragement ~~ comfort ~~ Bibi had given him at the beginning of the conversation.
Marvin adds his own matching emotions to form ~~ two-part harmony ~~
Bibi: She had just exhausted herself. She never made it to stage five. Her laterals weren't developed enough to even try.
Marvin: [English] Been there, done that, wept hysterically for hours afterwards.
Marvin: [Simelan] Speaking of which, how has that Cristal been treating you these days?
Bibi: Oh, dear. Cristal. He's trying, but some of the things he says! I wish he'd think about context and consequences.
Marvin: Don't tell me he's still trying to pressure you. ~~ indignant ~~
Bibi: No, no. Just things he says around the clients, when he's trying to be helpful.
Marvin: Ah yes, the old in-T "helpfulness". Otherwise known as Condescending to the Natives.
Bibi: I had some kids in here, against their parents' wishes. They wanted to know if they'd established, because one of their schoolmates had changed over and killed his sister. One of Miz Brown's great-granddaughters brought them in.
Bibi: One had established, and when I told her, good old Cristal just had to provide the helpful hint that now she was vulnerable to berserkers. And while the kids were still cringing, he pointed out that Simes can kill children too, although it's rare.
Bibi rubs her scalp with her tentacles.
Marvin is progressively ~~ shrinking in horror ~~ at this litany of tactlessness.
Marvin: Bibi, Bibi, Bibi. What an awful thing to get saddled with.
Bibi: I sent him off to make tea.
Marvin: Tea! Hmmp. Send him to clean the Gen latrine, how about!
Bibi: But one of them -- that was Sal -- freaked out when I diagnosed her changeover a day in advance, and Cristal did a fair job of calming the rest down. So he's not beyond hope.
Marvin: Yeah, I can see him intimidating the rest of them into silence. He's good at authoritarianism. ~~ grumpy ~~
Bibi: How did Sal do, on the trip and in-T? I thought having Magit there might be good for her.
Marvin: She was a lot more intimidated by everything than she wanted to let on. Magit, of course, was her usual weird and entertaining self. The way she talks, and especially in Simelan!
Bibi: Sal's brother came in one night and brought me Sal's "treasure box" and a few other favorite items for me to send to her. I gave him her address and told him he could bring the letters here, and have Sal send letters to him here, so his mother won't know they're communicating. He sent a letter with the stuff, but she hasn't answered yet.
Bibi: He's a good kid. He let me check him out again, and we talked for a while. I haven't heard anything from Magit, or her camp. I hope her second transfer went well.
Marvin: I actually got word on that via the mule grapevine.
Marvin pauses to ~~ savor the incongruity ~~ of a mule swinging on a grapevine, and ~~ projects the image ~~.
Bibi: Yes? ~~ eager interest ~~
Marvin: Well, it wasn't exactly normal, but it certainly wasn't anything like that nightmare First Transfer Seruffin wrote up, oh so carefully, for the permanent file.
Bibi: That's good. And I hope her second turnover won't be as bad as the first, too. I hope they'll send me a report. I asked them to.
Marvin: Instead of a smooth Tecton-standard draw, it was what the supervising channel described as "one long nageric howl."
Bibi: Sounds horrible. I wonder what it seemed like to her?
Marvin: "Like a bow being drawn across a fiddle string", he said.
Bibi: Well, that's better than chalk on a blackboard, I guess.
Marvin: No, not horrible at all. Actually rather -- musical. I haven't heard anything about Magit's take on it, but if I know her, she's asking everyone she knows, "Is that second transfer like usually that, eh?"
Marvin laughs at his own joke.
Bibi laughs too.
Bibi: I hope her Simelan is better than that now.
Marvin: It wouldn't surprise me if she continues to garble it just to give us itching of the tentacles.
Bibi: What a great kid.
Bibi isn't far enough into need to think where Magit would be now, if Gerrhonot hadn't intervened.
Marvin: ~~ smiling reminiscence ~~
Marvin shapes a nageric image of Magit's characteristic field and holds it up for Bibi to zlin.
Marvin: ~~ playful ~~ See?
Bibi: You got it!
Marvin blushes again.
Marvin drops the image.
Marvin: Now here's Magit having her second transfer:
Marvin projects the analogue of the sound of a train whistle, first approaching and rising in pitch and volume, then suddenly dropping in pitch and fading away.
Marvin: ~~ coaxing ~~ You try picturing something for me.
Bibi tries to emulate Gerrhonot's nager.
Bibi: I'm nowhere near as good as you are at this. Can't you guess who?
Marvin: Ah yes, of course, Seruffin's Donor, the one with the bizarre name.
Bibi: And the beautiful nager.
Marvin: ~~ a bit swoony ~~ Doesn't he just. Not that he'd ever give either of us a second thought.
Bibi: And a kind heart.
Marvin: Yes, indeed.
Bibi: Who's this?
Bibi emulates Bart.
Marvin squinches his nose several times quickly.
Marvin: I get the impression of a young Gen, but that's about it. I feel I should know him, but ...
Marvin trails off.
Bibi: I'm no good at this. You do one.
Marvin: ~~ serious ~~ Oh yes. I remember him all right.
Bibi forgot for the moment that Bart was present at Sanda's donation. ~~ contrite ~~
Marvin starts to construct another nageric ball, but dissipates it.
Marvin: No, really, it's okay.
Bibi: I'm sorry. I thought you would have met him at home, I forgot he was there with Sanda. ~~ embarrassment ~~ comfort ~~
Marvin reflects back the ~~ comfort ~~ and adds his own.
Marvin: [softly] It's all right, Bibi. Really.
Bibi: Seruffin says he's really developing. How did he zlin to you?
Marvin: --Zlin to me? Like a pre-Donor, but I really hadn't much attention to spare for him. I thought he might help keep Sanda calm, is all.
Bibi kicks herself for slipping like that, and wonders how to distract Marvin from his troubles again. She reflects that at least she didn't do the Gegg emulation she showed Seruffin.
Marvin: In hindsight, it probably wasn't necessary. But I was thinking, God knows why, it would have been a bad idea to just chase him out.
Marvin: Anyhow, I wanna play catch. Catch, Bibi!
Marvin shapes another nageric ball of ~~ playfulness enthusiasm mild postsyndrome ~~ this time, and tosses it to Bibi's tentacles.
Bibi lifts her arms, extending her laterals slightly and tosses a wobbling amorphous blob of sort of the same stuff back.
Marvin grabs the ball with his laterals, starts it spinning faster and then even faster, and tosses it up on the air. When it descends, it touches his laterals, goes ~~ pop! ~~ and spreads its radiance into the ambient.
Marvin: We have more fun than people, Bibi.
Marvin is grinning his patented grin again.
Bibi offers a hug. ~~ affection ~~ comfort ~~ happiness ~~
Bibi: You're a genius. A silly genius, but a genius.
Marvin accepts the hug with ~~ enthusiasm joy ~~ and an undercurrent of ~~ controlled but visible desire ~~.
Marvin: Yeah. I am. At more things than one, eh?
Bibi laughs again.
Bibi: Oh, yes. Yes, indeed.