Bart slips down the stairs of the Hannard's Ford Sime Center in search of a late night snack. He's been staying there since he donated several days ago.
Marvin is sitting in the common room, struggling to meditate, and not succeeding at all. He keeps dozing off, and then having mini-nightmares and waking up with a start. He finally gives up and pays attention to the Gen galumphing down the stairs.
Bart notes that there's a lamp burning in the common room, and sees Marvin there.
Bart: Oh, uh, hi, Hajene Marvin. Uh, Hajene Bibi said I could get something to eat whenever I wanted to?
Marvin makes the "Go ahead" gesture with his tentacles.
Marvin: Far be it from me to come between the Gen and his prey.
Bart feels ~~ uncomfortable ~~. He knows Marvin is in need and doesn't want to annoy him.
Bart: Uh, can I get something for you, too? Maybe some tea?
Bart has noticed that Bibi seems to live on trin and good works.
Marvin: There's a jar of cold trin on the outside windowsill in the kitchen. Can you open the window and pour me a glass? Thanks.
Bart lights a lamp in the kitchen and rummages around for some food. He fills a plate with leftovers, pours cold tea for Marvin and water for himself, and brings it back into the common room.
Bart: Uh, can I sit next to you?
Marvin: Sure. You did shut the window, didn't you? If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a Gen with a cold.
Bart: Uh, yes.
Marvin pats the couch next to him.
Bart sets the food down on the coffee table and sits next to Marvin on the sofa.
Marvin: Ahhh, that's better.
Bart: Hajene Bibi told me that you're in need, so if I annoy you with my nager, just tell me and I'll move away. I'm not very good at controlling it yet.
Marvin: Don't worry, Bart. I'm pretty used to Wild Gen emotions, spending so much time on the train, y'know. Actually, even though you're drifting all over the place, your field still feels pretty good.
Bart: Really? ~~ pleased ~~~
Marvin: Yes. You're totally untrained, of course, but you have a good solid nager.
Bart smiles. It's a strange compliment, but he likes it.
Bart: Hajene Bibi and Driver have been teaching me a little.
Bart picks up a square of maize bread and starts eating it. He can't get over how ~~ delicious ~~ the food here is, and how there's always ~~ plenty ~~ of it.
Marvin: You almost make me hungry.
Marvin grins his million-candle grin.
Bart: Can I.. uh... do you want me to stop or can I try helping you eat something?
Marvin: Sure, why not?
Marvin gets serious.
Marvin: Now you can't make Simes stuff themselves like Gens do, even though you can make us want to. So the trick is to break off a small piece and hand it to me, and then break off another small piece and hold it in your hand.
Bart breaks off a piece of maize bread and hands it to Marvin.
Marvin deftly plucks it from Bart's hand with one tentacle.
Bart ~~ enjoys ~~ seeing Simes use their tentacles, and is ~~ happily anticipating ~~ the lesson.
Marvin: Now focus on the bread in your hand. Think about when you were really hungry, I mean really really hungry. When one bite of anything would have tasted to you like ...
Marvin pauses a moment.
Marvin: Like the best thing you'd ever had.
Bart has no trouble remembering many times when he was ~~ really hungry ~~ after working hard and there was ~~ not enough ~~ food to eat as much as he'd like.
Bart thinks about a few times when he was ~~ so hungry he couldn't get to sleep ~~, and the ~~ hunger pains ~~ he sometimes had on the way home from school.
Marvin: Too much. You're overdoing the pain. It's the wanting that you want to communicate.
Bart looks at the food on the table and thinks about how ~~ good ~~ it would have looked at times like that. It looks ~~ really good ~~ now anyway, and he's had three solid meals and some snacks already today.
Bart focuses on all those ~~ goodies he never gets at home ~~ and begins to ~~ salivate ~~ strongly.
Marvin: That's more like it.
Marvin takes a rag out of his pocket and hands it to Bart.
Marvin: Wipe your chin, eh?
Marvin: The trick to this is to concentrate on how good ...
Marvin without noticing it pops the bread in his mouth, chews it up, and swallows it.
Marvin: ... it makes you feel to eat things, because that way the Sime near you ...
Marvin breaks off another piece of bread and sends it down the same way
Marvin: ... feels like eating too, even if he isn't really...
Marvin looks amazed at the third piece of bread.
Marvin: Hey, what am I doing?
Marvin holds the pose for a while, then roars with laughter.
Bart is ~~ enjoying ~~ this more than he would eating the food himself, but he is still ~~ hungry ~~ and the rest of the food looks ~~ even better ~~.
Marvin: I am going to be stuffed. Go ahead, just eat.
Bart hands Marvin the glass of cold tea. ~~ thirsty ~~ delicious cold fluid ~~
Bart: Did I really make you eat that stuff?
Bart eats the food in his hand and wonders if Marvin is just humoring him.
Marvin: Well, yes and no. I could have resisted if I'd wanted to. But that wasn't exactly the point of the exercise, was it? Anyhow, I didn't want to resist.
Marvin gulps about half the tea.
Marvin: Boy howdy, eating all that bread made me dry as a bone.
Bart: The food here is so good, and there's always lots of it.
Marvin: Yes, the food is wonderful, and such large portions they give you!
Marvin laughs again, with a tad more restraint this time.
Bart eats a carrot muffin and starts on a piece of apple cake.
Marvin finishes the tea and puts the glass on the table.
Marvin: [dreamily] What I'm gonna do now is just sit back here on the sofa, just sit back riiiight here on the sofa, and, and, ... zlin you eating all of that apple cake. Because if I eat it myself, all my teeth will fall out.
Marvin sits back, puts two tentacles in his mouth, and begins to whistle the theme from the Eroica, first movement: daaah, dee daaaah, de dah dee dee daaaah....
Marvin: Not that you have to eat the whole cake, or anything, no, no, I wouldn't want your teeth to fall out, after all, would you?
Bart wonders whether Marvin is acting normally, or if he's doing something to him. ~~ concern ~~
Bart: Are you okay, Hajene?
Marvin nods and takes his tentacles out of his mouth.
Bart thought Simes in need had suppressed emotions, but Marvin is acting manic.
Marvin: Sure, Bart. It's just such a relief, not to feel need, not to have any responsibilities for the moment.
Bart finishes off the apple cake and drinks some water.
Bart: Can I get you anything else? A glass of milk? More tea?
Marvin: Nope, nope, nope. All's well with me.
Marvin closes his eyes and leans back against the couch.
Bart is getting ~~ confused ~~. He's never seen a Sime in need, and didn't think it was like this. He figured they'd be tense and miserable and easily annoyed.
Marvin talks without opening his eyes.
Marvin: I know this isn't what you expect. But there are a couple of things you're not allowing for, Bart. For one thing, Marvins are different from other channels -- we're a lot wackier. For another, ...
Marvin loses his train of thought, such as it is.
Marvin: Oh yes. For another thing, Simes in need are basically crabby because they either feel they need to take care of business instead of doing what the body is demanding, or else they're afraid no one will be there for them come transfer time.
Marvin: Embedded in your field, I don't feel those things. So I'm relaxed.
Bart is ~~ amazed ~~.
Bart: I... uh, I didn't realize I was doing that for you.. ~~ warmth ~~ compassion ~~
Bart thinks Marvin is a lot different from Seruffin and Bibi and wonders which is a typical sort of channel.
Marvin: Yeah. It's something like coming in from the cold to see a roaring fire in the fireplace. Not as warming as a proper stove, maybe, but it warms the spirit for sure. Being in need is a lot like slowly freezing to death, except more panicky.
Marvin twiddles his tentacles.
Marvin: See? No panic.
Bart's ~~ warmth ~~ and ~~ compassion ~~ intensify. He's really ~~ moved ~~ that he can do this for a channel. He finds himself wanting to put his hands on Marvin's forearms.
Marvin turns to look at Bart and smiles at him more slowly this time, not so much the patented grin.
Marvin: [very serious] You're going to be a good Donor, Bart. Very soon.
Bart: I hope so.
Marvin: [gently] Bart, I zlin you want to touch me, which is natural and good, but because of what I am, you shouldn't. It could get me in trouble, and eventually could cause problems for you as well. You really have to believe it isn't because of you.
Bart: Yes, I understand. I'm sorry if I'm tempting you. I'll try not to.
Marvin: You're not tempting me to transfer. But I'm not just any channel. There are rules that apply to me that don't apply to Bibi or Hajene Seruffin.
Bart: Hajene Bibi told me... ~~ sad ~~ compassionate ~~
Marvin sighs deeply, and thinks, "If youth only knew, if age only could."
Marvin: What did she tell you, Bart?
Marvin's not sure Bibi would have told Bart everything, but Marvin thinks he deserves to know.
Bart: She told me that you're disjunct. That's why you aren't allowed to work as a regular channel.
Marvin: That's right. Which is a polite way of saying that I'm a killer Sime. Not a junct, not any more. But once you've killed, you never get over it completely.
Marvin zlins Bart carefully to see if he shows any sign of fear at this.
Bart: I'm not afraid of you, Hajene. ~~ sorrow ~~ compassion ~~
Bart wants even more to touch Marvin and ~~ comfort ~~ him.
Marvin: Hey, kid.
Marvin reaches out with one tentacle and redirects Bart's gaze toward him.
Bart looks into Marvin's eyes.
Marvin: Don't feel bad for me. With every load of selyn I bring in, with every new Sime I escort, I work on redeeming myself. I'm going to die younger than nonjuncts, probably, but it'll be a good death after a good life.
Bart: Just... tell me... if I'm doing anything you don't want and I'll try to stop.
Marvin: Right here, right now, nobody could do better, Bart.
Bart suppresses the urge to put his arm around Marvin and ~~ comfort ~~ him.
Bart: This... [Simelan] interacting nagerically... [English] it's... I never imagined there could be something like this... it's hard not to.
Marvin: If it helps to go and sit in the chair over there, go for it.
Bart: I'll take the dishes away.
Bart clears off the table and goes into the kitchen with the dishes.
Marvin zlins Bart's field going away, going away, and then taps himself on the head with his fingers.
Marvin: [mutters] Whoa, boy. Shouldn't wonder if he won't be a First.
Marvin zlins Bart returning, but in a distant and impersonal way.
Bart returns from the kitchen and ~~ tentatively ~~ sits on the sofa a bit further from Marvin.
Bart: Is this okay?
Marvin zlins Bart to see if he's still overwrought with need-to-give.
Bart keeps his nager from engaging with Marvin's as best he can. ~~ calm ~~ kindness ~~ comfort ~~
Marvin: That's good, Bart.
Bart: I'm sorry, about before. ~~ contrite ~~
Marvin: There is nothing to be sorry about. Wanting is good. [dryly] Wanting me is not a good idea at this stage of your development, that's all.
Bart: Hajene Bibi told me that being around Simes in need would increase my capacity, but I don't want to risk hurting you. I made GN-1 this time.
Marvin: [brightens up] Congratulations!
Bart: My dad made GN-2. Even my brother did a little better, but he's still really nervous about Simes. I think it's pretty hard on Hajene Bibi taking his donation.
Marvin: There's really no question of your hurting me, just that you have to restrain your instincts, basically so the Tecton won't tar you with the same brush I tarred myself with.
Bart: How can a Gen...? ~~ confused ~~ embarrassed ~~
Marvin: Well, you know better, and I know better, but the Tecton is run by a bunch of worrywarts. They figure if I'm a disjunct, and you interact with me and then later with some other channel, you might tempt him to go junct -- or Distect.
Bart: Hajene Bibi told me it was okay for me to work with you as long as I always stopped if you asked me to.
Marvin exhales and nods his head sharply. He's glad Bibi is trusting him this much.
Marvin: Fair enough.
Bart: Would you teach me? If you're not too tired or anything.
Bart doesn't know how to say 'affected by need' tactfully.
Marvin wishes so much that he could.
Marvin: You're going to be better off if you get your Tecton training without having to unlearn any of the wacky methods of the Marvin channels first. After you get that training, that's another story.
Bart: Uh, okay. But maybe you could ask me to project something and tell me if I'm doing it right?
Marvin nods and waves his tentacles.
Marvin: You did very well with projecting hunger. Another thing Simes can need help with is sleeping. So maybe you could project some sleepiness, and I could get a little sack time in?
Bart: Do you want to go upstairs and lie down in bed?
Marvin: [in a funny voice] A good plan, indeed.
Marvin rises lightly to his feet in typical Sime fashion.
Bart rises to his feet in a not very graceful adolescent fashion.
Marvin forms a one-man conga line and hums "da-da-da-da-dah! da-da-da-da-dah!"
Bart isn't sure how to take this but follows Marvin to his room.
Marvin: Yeah, I know, not very soporific tune. Let's get me to bed and I'll be good.
Marvin pulls the door open, marches over to his bed, and flops down on it, looking up at Bart.
Marvin: Okay, now stand there and think sleepy.
Marvin: If you were my Donor, I'd invite you in, but that's against the rules, and if I have you sit down, you'll fall asleep in the chair there, and even though you're a tough-boned teenager, that wouldn't do you any good.
Bart closes his eyes and thinks about times he came home ~~ tired ~~ and ~~ cold ~~ after a long walk in the snow and a long day of cutting firewood.
Marvin: That's good. But fade out the cold; I don't want to start shivering.
Bart remembers getting out of his cold wet clothes and getting into bed with his brother, and how ~~ good ~~ it felt to lie down, how his muscles gradually ~~ relaxed ~~ as he warmed up.
Marvin stretches and gives a Marvin-sized yawn.
Bart summons up that feeling of ~~ happiness ~~ comfort ~~ warmth ~~ safety ~~ relaxation ~~ satisfaction ~~ in bed after a good day's work. He leans against the wall, crosses his arms over his chest and feels ~~ happy ~~ relaxed ~~ and ~~ good ~~. He yawns.
Marvin yawns again, and turns over on his side.
Marvin: [sleepily] Mmm, good. Now one more, umm, try, and then off to bed with you.
Bart smiles. ~~ calm ~~ contented ~~ drowsy ~~ safe ~~ warm ~~~
Marvin gronks out and begins to snore lightly.
Bart tries to fade to ~~ neutral ~~ with some success, although he can't tell. He covers Marvin with a blanket and goes to his own room.
Bart gets undressed and into bed feeling ~~ content ~~.