Sanda follows her mother up the walk to the Hannard's Ford Sime Center. She's really excited about traveling on the train and meeting another channel, as well as visiting her brother and seeing the cosmopolitan delights of the Ford.
Toria is rather put out with Sanda because of a certain incident on the train -- girls will be girls, but young ladies should be young ladies.
Seruffin has broken his trip back in-Territory in Hannard's Ford. Well, it is recommended that channels not travel by train within 24 hours of transfer. His decision to make part of the trip, then stop, rather than just staying in New Washington, was spurred by his dutiful desire to carry out his mission as soon as possible, of course.
Gerrhonot is ~~ worried ~~ about his channel, who is in hard need, and stays very close to him. ~~ steady ~~ reliable ~~ strong ~~ protective ~~
Seruffin finds the presence, at the Ford, of a certain young lady whom he's going to be finding extremely attractive tomorrow, an added benefit, of course.
Bibi is, as usual, delighted to have Seruffin visit, although she's in need herself. She can certainly ~~ empathize ~~ with him, poor man.
Seruffin is, however, more interested in Gens than young ladies just now, and is finding Gerrhonot's steady presence very soothing.
Sanda is practically bouncing as she waits for her mother to open the Sime Center door. ~~ excited ~~ eager ~~ happy ~~
Toria calls out "Hello the house!" and opens the door.
Bibi: Welcome, Toria! Is this your daughter Sanda?
Toria makes an effort to sound pleased, even though she ~~ isn't ~~.
Toria: Yes, this is my daughter. Sanda, this is Hajene Bibi.
Sanda is ~~ gobsmacked ~~. Bibi is gorgeous. She looks just like the picture of Hyacinthe on the cover of Mistress of Nabaloneh Manor. Well, a little less buxom, maybe, but the raven tresses framing the heart-shaped face, the honey colored skin...
Sanda: Hello, Hajene Bibi. ~~ adolescent hero(ine) worship ~~
Seruffin: Miz Gegg, it's good to see you again.
Toria: Call me Toria, Hajene.
Seruffin: Of course.
Seruffin zlins Sanda's reaction with something approaching amusement.
Sanda observes that Bibi's large, limpid, long-lashed eyes are moss-green, rather than violet, like Hyacinthe's.
Toria is beginning to ~~ relax ~~ and ~~ let go of her annoyance ~~.
Gerrhonot smiles and nods at the two Gens.
Seruffin figures that Bibi will probably be taking Sanda's donation, while he deals with Toria.
Bibi: May I offer you some refreshments? There's tea and cookies. Please help yourselves.
Toria gives Sanda the "Behave!" look in an attempt to pre-empt the "Pleeeeeease?" look.
Toria: [sotto voce] One cookie.
Sanda is too busy ~~ adulating ~~ Bibi to think of pigging out on cookies. She wishes she had a figure like Bibi's, but she's still more or less a flattened cylinder in basic form.
Bibi is pretty ~~ amused ~~ at Sanda's reaction. It's not the first time she's zlinned it from a young Gen.
Toria pours herself some tea and takes her solitary cookie.
Sanda copies her mother.
Seruffin decides it might be most tactful to distract Toria.
Seruffin: I trust that you have been well, since we last met?
Toria: Very well, Hajene. As perhaps you notice.
Toria radiates a ~~ giggle~~, but doesn't let it go audibly.
Seruffin can't help but have noticed, with his sensitivity heightened by need.
Seruffin: Umm, yes. No associated trouble, I hope?
Toria: Not so far. I've been lucky that way.
Sanda ~~ wonders ~~ what her mother and Hajene Seruffin are talking about, but is distracted by the cookie, and the prospect of donating to Bibi.
Seruffin zlins unobtrusively for any signs of a channel's prenatal draw: after all, the gene does run in her husband's family.
Bibi: Would you like to go first Sanda? I can take your donation right now, if you like.
Sanda: Sure, Hajene Bibi!
Sanda follows Bibi and Cristal to the donation room. ~~ eager ~~ excited ~~ admiring ~~
Seruffin looks after Sanda, shaking his head.
Seruffin: The enthusiasm of the young. ~~ tolerant ~~
Toria ~~ wonders ~~ if she's supposed to wait, or if she's expected to donate to whichever channel is available.
Seruffin: There's only one room set up for donations here, so I'm afraid you'll have to wait until Bibi is done with your daughter.
Seruffin is properly ~~ apologetic ~~ at this inconvenience.
Toria smiles and nods.
Gerrhonot: Would you like to sit down while you're waiting?
Toria refills her teacup and sits down.
Seruffin sits himself on a nearby couch, so he won't appear to loom over her. His own preference at this time of the month would be to pace back and forth like a tiger in the zoo at feeding time, but that wouldn't be diplomatic.
Toria ~~ forces herself ~~ to make small talk, as she senses that for whatever reason Seruffin is also tense.
Seruffin thinks at times it can be frustrating to be a predator with manners.
Seruffin: I trust your husband is well?
Gerrhonot sits next to Seruffin and projects ~~ safety ~~ reassurance ~~ comfort ~~ repletion ~~
Toria: I think he's well enough, physically. But he does seem to have things on his mind these days, more than usual.
Seruffin reminds himself that in the Tecton zoo, feeding time comes regularly, and Gerrhonot is excellent fare.
Gerrhonot looks down. Bibi has briefed him and Seruffin on Gegg's traumatic experiences in the army.
Seruffin: There have been a lot of changes in your lives, with your son living here at the Ford, and all.
Toria: That's quite true, Hajene.
Seruffin: And for him, it must be doubly difficult to face a having a son potentially turn Sime.
Toria: Doubly difficult? Why doubly? ~~ puzzled ~~
Seruffin: Anything to do with Simes will bring back bad memories, for him.
Gerrhonot is a little ~~ alarmed ~~. Seruffin seems to have forgotten that Bibi told them that Gegg had never told his wife about his trauma.
Toria: Hajene, I'm sorry, but I don't understand. What memories?
Seruffin realizes too late that he's got a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease.
Gerrhonot figures it's too late to signal his channel about it. Seruffin must be badly distracted by need. Traveling in that condition was awful for him. ~~ comfort ~~ support ~~
Toria: Sosu -- I'm sorry, I've forgotten your name again -- can you help me here?
Toria is wondering if Seruffin is forgetting his English.
Gerrhonot: I'm Gerrhonot.
Toria: Of course, I'm sorry ~~ conventional regret ~~
Gerrhonot smiles in a friendly manner.
Gerrhonot: That's okay. It's a hard name to remember.
Seruffin: Your husband's Army experiences gave him an abiding horror of Simes, I'm afraid.
Seruffin hopes that Toria will be content with that.
Toria: Ah. Well, that's understandable. After all, we all know what sort of Simes he'd have to deal with there.
Toria: He's never been willing to talk to me about it. ~~ Men! ~~
Seruffin: He didn't talk to anyone about it, I expect, until recently.
Toria: Probably not. He just wanted to suffer in silence.
Seruffin: It's unfortunate, but the suffering has been very real.
Toria: I'm ~~ sure ~~ it has been. In any case, though, that's something he has to work out for himself.
Bibi opens the donation room door and exits with Sanda and Cristal. She's smiling, with dimples.
Sanda is just about bouncing again, holding her voucher.
Sanda: Mom, I made more than last time, and Hajene Bibi says probably next time she can upgrade me and I'll make even more!
Seruffin finds Sanda's cheerfully mercenary attitude ~~ amusing ~~
Toria: That's very good news, Sanda.
Toria has essentially recovered from her earlier snit. Talking to another adult about something adult can make all the difference.
Sanda is ~~ smug ~~. This is something her big brother can't do.
Bibi: Would you like to read some of the booklets we have over on the table there while your mother donates, Sanda? You can take some home with you too, if you like.
Toria rises and walks over to the donation room.
Sanda looks forward to (1) finding out all kinds of neat stuff to impress her friends (2) bringing back literature to support her claims and further appall/titillate her friends and (3) eating more cookies while her mother isn't watching.
Bibi: If it's all right with you, Toria, I'd like Hajene Seruffin to take your donation, or at least, to zlin you. He's a more sensitive and experienced channel than I am.
Toria gestures ~~ acceptance ~~, out-T style.
Seruffin gets up and follows after Bibi and Toria. He's particularly sensitive while in need, and is just as glad Toria hasn't picked up on that.
Gerrhonot stays very close to Seruffin, providing ~~ protection ~~ and ~~ support ~~
Bibi observes Gerrhonot's attentive and assiduous care for Seruffin, as well as his really beautiful nager and is careful not to feel jealous.
Cristal sees that everyone is in the room and takes it upon himself to shut the door.
Seruffin hopes Toria didn't manage to see through the closing door what he could zlin: Sanda heading for the cookies.
Bibi: Well, this time, there's not all that preliminary paperwork, Toria!
Toria notes Seruffin's slight facial expression, puts it together with the nature of the footsteps she hears outside.
Toria: Excuse me, Bibi. [snaps] Sanda! Behave!
Sanda stops in her tracks, then diverts to the literature table.
Toria: [graciously] I'm certainly glad to hear that.
Seruffin zlins Toria to determine her general attitude towards himself and donating.
Toria: ~~ relaxed trusting determined ~~
Seruffin is very glad it isn't Toria's husband he has to deal with. He gestures towards the transfer lounge.
Seruffin: Please, have a seat.
Seruffin sits down beside Toria.
Gerrhonot stays close, increasing his ~~ support ~~ and watching carefully for cues.
Seruffin: Bibi wanted me to make sure everything was going all right for you. There are complications that a more sensitive channel can catch earlier, when they can be treated.
Toria: Do you have some reason to think that I'm ... experiencing complications? ~~ nervous ~~
Seruffin was also told about a certain interesting phenomenon that occurred during Toria's last donation, and which Bibi wasn't able to understand.
Bibi: No, Toria, but with Hajene Seruffin here, I thought we might take advantage of his skills.
Bibi smiles reassuringly, with dimples.
Seruffin: There is a chance that you are carrying at least one channel, and will require special care, although it's still early to tell.
Seruffin finds Bibi's dimples attractive, which is something, when he's less than a day from transfer. He offers his hands to Toria.
Seruffin: Let me deep-zlin you to see that everything's going well, and then I'll take your donation.
Toria takes Seruffin's hands ~~ trustingly ~~ as her nervousness fades.
Seruffin lets his handling tentacles wrap securely around her arms, then lets his need-moistened laterals extend. He hopes Toria doesn't notice the extra ronaplin, and draw the correct conclusion at an inconvenient moment.
Gerrhonot tries to provide the best conditions in the ambient for Seruffin to zlin his patient.
Cristal damps the field in the rest of the room, filling in around the central group.
Bibi pulls her field in and goes ~~ neutral ~~.
Cristal's body senses Bibi's move and shifts to compensate for it.
Toria feels sudden ~~ clarity ~~ in her mind as soon as the laterals touch her skin.
Seruffin zlins the effect with ~~ interest ~~
Bibi can faintly zlin the effect herself, since she's expecting it, as well as Seruffin's interest in it.
Toria ~~ feels ~~ as if she has been moved to a large, empty room with lots and lots of echoes.
Seruffin shifts his field slightly, zlinning to see what effect, if any, this will have.
Toria's thinking speeds up, and suddenly she is ~~ hyperaware ~~ of everything around her: the channels' state of tension, the concern in the Donors' faces, even the small sound of Sanda turning over the page in one of the booklets. She also hears, as a background, her own heartbeat.
Toria ~~ realizes ~~ that when Gegg came back from the Army, it set the pattern of his life: he believed he was a coward, and the relationship between them has only reinforced his feelings of inferiority. She opens her mouth to speak to Seruffin, but her thoughts are ~~ zooming ~~ faster than she can possibly articulate them.
Seruffin carefully zlins Toria's state of health, with particular attention to the pregnancy, which seems to be doing fine, and to Toria's reaction, which is frankly weird.
Toria notes, peripherally, that Sanda has gotten herself a cookie after all, but she no longer ~~ cares ~~.
Toria: [inarticulately] You're in need, aren't you. Both of you.
Bibi is ~~ startled ~~ at this, but tries to keep her nager smooth and ~~ calm ~~.
Seruffin thinks a few things that he's far too diplomatic to say, which is probably just as well.
Seruffin: Umm, yes. Does that bother you?
Toria: ~~ dismissively ~~ No. ~~ insight ~~ And there are two of them, aren't there.
Seruffin: Yes, there are. Both healthy, and that's about all that can be determined, at the moment.
Toria: Ah. I feel them.
Bibi thinks this is very strange. Yet Another Weird Gumgeeville Mutant. She hopes this doesn't mean that Mik is going to be an aberrant channel with an aberrant changeover.
Toria narrows her eyes at Seruffin.
Toria: We aren't talking about the same thing. But I can't see what you are talking about. What do you mean?
Seruffin: Your twins.
Toria: Twins? I'm having twins? I had no idea.
Seruffin: What were you talking about?
Toria: ~~ puzzled ~~ I don't know, now. Two of what?
Bibi notes that Seruffin's usual suave diplomatic act is beginning to fray a bit. Poor man, working in hard need on a weird Gen with an assertive personality.
Toria's ~~ clarity ~~ is fading rapidly as her body adjusts to the touch of a First Order channel.
Seruffin: Well, if it was important, it will come back to you. Shall I take your donation, now?
Toria disregards this.
Toria: Somehow I saw, or thought I saw, you two, Seruffin and Bibi, in double vision. Almost overlapping but not quite. I don't understand it.
Toria loses the last of the strange perceptions.
Bibi looks forward to Seruffin's explanation of all this.
Seruffin is glad that Toria's weird nageric ~~ clarity ~~ seems to be fading. He's never zlinned such a thing in his long life.
Toria: ~~ politely ~~ I'm sorry, Hajene. Yes, take my donation by all means.
Seruffin leans forward to make lip contact, holding briefly to make sure that the effect won't return.
Toria leans forward as well, pressing her lips to Seruffin's.
Seruffin cautiously starts drawing selyn, keeping alert for any further abnormalities.
Gerrhonot backs him with ~~ steady support ~~ and a ~~ guaranteed rich supply of selyn whenever needed ~~~
Toria gives up her selyn in perfect normality.
Seruffin, thus reassured, neatly strips Toria's GN-3 level, then carefully knocks at the GN-2 barrier. He wouldn't normally upgrade such an inexperienced donor, but if Toria is pregnant with channels, she'll need the greater selyn production.
Toria's GN-2 barrier goes down like a child sliding down a hill in the winter.
Seruffin finishes draining the available selyn, then neatly relinquishes the contact.
Toria: Thank you, Hajene. That was quite an experience! ~~ wonder sincerity ~~
Seruffin: You're welcome.
Gerrhonot puts his hands on Seruffin's shoulders to intensify his support for the recovery phase.
Seruffin: You made a little more money this month.
Bibi hands the voucher pad to Seruffin and smiles at Toria.
Toria is ~~ not as concerned ~~ with this point as she once was.
Bibi: You've provided more selyn than most Simes require to stay alive for a month.
Seruffin scribbles on the pad, signs with a flourish, and hands the voucher to Toria.
Seruffin: You will be able to donate for a while longer, although late in pregnancy you'll have to stop. You should come in, anyway, so that Bibi can check to make sure everything is going well.
Toria: Thank you, Hajene. Thank you, Bibi. Let's go check on that daughter of mine.
Toria rises from the couch with no difficulty and goes to open the door.
Seruffin hopes Sanda has finished her cookie.
Cristal preempts Toria's attempt to open the door by opening it himself.
Gerrhonot increases his light pressure on Seruffin's shoulders to get him to stay put until he's out of recovery phase.
Seruffin relaxes back against Gerrhonot, letting the others vacate the room.
Gerrhonot hopes his channel is okay. It sounded like something strange was going on. ~~ concern ~~ comfort ~~ devotion ~~ repletion ~~ love ~~