Seruffin sits on the porch swing, sipping his tea, after Cristal has left. He notes that the other half of the swing is empty, and allows himself to imagine it filled with a certain young woman whom he's come to admire.
Bibi fends off Cristal's profuse apologies when she meets him in the common room, pours herself a cup of tea and goes out onto the porch.
Bibi maintains a ~~ calm professional ~~ but ~~ friendly ~~ showfield, for all the good it does. Underneath she's ~~ in need ~~ attracted to Seruffin ~~ glad ~~ to see him looking happy.
Seruffin's nager ~~ brightens ~~ with welcome.
Seruffin: Bibi, come enjoy the evening with me, if you have time.
Bibi: Yes, I do.
Seruffin adjusts his welcome just a bit, adding some solid ~~ support ~~
Bibi goes to sit on the swing and hesitates a little, trying to decide how close she can sit without appearing... uhhh... too needy.
Seruffin pats the seat invitingly.
Seruffin: Sit with me?
Seruffin smiles in a ~ whimsical ~ fashion.
Bibi sits right where Seruffin patted. ~~ grateful ~~ attracted ~~
Bibi: Thank you.
Seruffin's sense of humor is restored, after his transfer, and he can't help but find the idea of an old man pursuing a much younger woman ironic.
Bibi really appreciates the quality of Seruffin's support and she leans on it tentatively.
Seruffin holds his field ~~ steady and secure ~~
Bibi sighs with relief and relinquishes a little more.
Seruffin tells himself that on the long chance that Mik changes over unexpectedly, takes Cristal so that Bibi is Donorless, and he himself manages to be passing through to serve her, this exercise will be useful.
Bibi starts to feel more human, with her need managed by a powerful First. She sips her tea.
Seruffin cocks his head.
Seruffin: Listen, there's a screech owl.
Bibi: You're right. The whippoorwills will start up shortly. Then the nighthawks.
Seruffin: It's an orchestra, although that bullfrog should tune his instrument. He's definitely off key.
Bibi realizes that these birds and frogs are all males giving mating calls. Drat!
Bibi: I'm so glad you're here. I... wish you could stay another week.
Seruffin: So do I, Bibi.
Seruffin sets the swing moving gently.
Bibi would really like to snuggle up to Seruffin and have him put his arm around her so she can enjoy his nager more, but wonders if it's unfair to him, since he's obviously post and attracted to her.
Seruffin: You know, I think this is the first time I've actually wanted to stay out-Territory.
Bibi: I'm glad you feel comfortable here.
Seruffin likes what he's zlinning from Bibi, and scoots just a bit closer.
Seruffin: It's been a long time since I've spent enough time anyplace to think of it as restful.
Bibi moves closer and leans her head on Seruffin's shoulder.
Bibi: All this traveling, especially out-T, must be very stressful.
Seruffin takes a tactful sip of tea, so as not to make Bibi feel self-conscious about the head-on-the-shoulder bit.
Bibi leans forward to set her cup on the table and free her hand, then snuggles up to Seruffin again.
Seruffin: I've never liked retainers, it's true. And a lot of Gen politicians don't seem completely convinced that Unity was a good thing.
Bibi: Would they prefer raids and war?
Seruffin: I think perhaps a few of them would. Or at least, some equivalent crisis that would make it easier to unite their government behind a common task.
Bibi: That seems like a very crude and cruel way to avoid working for compromise.
Seruffin: Sometimes it is. Sometimes, it's the very thing that makes progress possible. If the Householders hadn't had to unite against the persecution of junct society, they wouldn't have accomplished half as much as they did.
Bibi: And it was the invasion of the juncts from the collapse of Norwest that brought about the coalition that finally achieved peace and Unity.
Seruffin: Yes, indeed. And on a personal level, if the Pens hadn't collapsed, my mother would never have dreamed of taking me to a channel at my changeover.
Bibi: Well, you did manage to get a Gen for your First Transfer after all. What did your mother think of that?
Seruffin: She found the idea very...disturbing. She'd learned to tolerate the idea of "perverts" associating with Killer Gens, but having one of her family in that situation wasn't something she cared to dwell on.
Bibi: It must have been very difficult for you, too, to be offered a Gen when you were in First Need.
Seruffin: It was probably less traumatic for me than taking channel's transfer would have been, to be honest. To attack a Killer Gen might be suicidal, but junct society never considered it perverted.
Bibi: Were you afraid of your Donor?
Seruffin: I would have been, I expect, if I'd been in any condition to think about it.
Bibi: I suppose he was controlling you to help you. The Donor who served me in First Need, and the channel and her Donor who were managing my changeover, must have been controlling me very strongly.
Seruffin: The changeover ward staff took full advantage of my disorientation. I didn't fully realize that they intended me to take transfer from the Donor until I was in no condition to refuse.
Seruffin: It was several months before I came to trust a Donor, even in First Year. Gens weren't supposed to be independent, intelligent, and dangerous, you see. And once I learned how easily a good Donor can manipulate a young channel, I couldn't trust what I zlinned, either.
Bibi: For me it was the Simes who were the dangerous demons, not really human. I was afraid of killing my Donor. I didn't even know that channels took direct Gen transfer. My Donor was very kind to me, so I was willing to be manipulated. I could afford to trust these people. Unlike you, confronted with powerful manipulative speaking animals.
Seruffin: I'm afraid I was quite a handful for poor Sosu Galgon. I might be nonjunct, but I still acted like the junct I'd been raised to be. Eventually, I learned to accept the "perverse" life that had been forced upon me, and even to enjoy it, but some things didn't go away. Fortunately, Firsts are allowed an extra measure of arrogance, at least when their superiors aren't around.
Seruffin lets a corner of his mouth quirk up, and his nager displays his appreciation of the ~~ humor ~~ of his youthful situation.
Bibi: There is that Sime instinct to defer to the bigger nager. The Tecton trains us not to abuse it, but it was the basis of junct social organization, wasn't it?
Bibi wonders if Seruffin's renSime mother found his channel father as attractive as she herself finds Seruffin.
Seruffin: Yes, although as a practical matter, there were times when money and connections meant more than sheer nageric power. Still, junct culture relied more on dominance and individualism than the Tecton. There was no support during hard times, but there was also more freedom, for those who could take advantage of it.
Bibi: Channels could do as they liked, and die even younger than the rest of the Simes. And Gens, of course, died younger yet.
Seruffin: Yes. But when everyone dies young, that doesn't seem like as much of a burden. Most juncts had no idea how long the Householders lived, but very few would have considered that adequate compensation for giving up their freedom.
Bibi: The matter of control, channels and Donors... I think Cristal has some problems sorting that out for himself. I've tried to talk to him about it, but can't seem to elicit his views. He seems to feel that he must control himself even more than anyone would require. He feels that he's dangerous unless he does so. But at the same time, he wants to control his channel at least sometimes, and not just in the course of his work.
Seruffin turns his head to look at Bibi, rather then just zlinning her.
Seruffin: Has he been bothering you again?
Bibi: No. He seems to be trying his best to take your advice to heart. But I'm a bit worried about him. He seems to have a lot of internal conflict about the issue.
Seruffin: Does he choose inappropriate times to control you? Or do so to your detriment?
Seruffin is ~~ concerned ~~; rogue Donors aren't just a junct myth, after all.
Bibi: No, he's very professional. But we had a talk one time... he seemed to be really suffering, trying to tell me about how he felt himself to be dangerous, that he had to demand extreme control from himself or he couldn't be trusted. So I invited him to relax and show me his feelings. I relinquished to him a bit, and he did some very pleasurable things nagerically. But I stayed duoconscious, and the really creepy thing was that he was.. grinning through the whole thing.
Bibi: I tried talking to him another time, and we got sidetracked, but he talked about benevolent and malevolent control, and how pleasure can be a more effective method of control than pain.
Seruffin frowns a moment.
Seruffin: Bibi, what's his background? I've never read his file.
Bibi: He was born and raised in-T. Both his parents are renSimes.
Seruffin: Not Householders, obviously?
Bibi: No, definitely not. I'd like to understand him better, and help him if I can. And I'd like him to give Mik the best First Transfer possible, if events turn out that way.
Seruffin: There are still plenty of old-line Sime families who make no secret that they prefer Sime offspring. I wonder if Cristal, too, was raised on tales of Giant Killer Gens?
Bibi: That's a thought. He said once that he was able to help his parents in need even before he established.
Seruffin: He has definite talent, and unusual precision for a Second.
Bibi: Yes, he does. Technically, he's excellent.
Seruffin: Perhaps he just found it exciting to act out a childhood fantasy? An affirmation that he's not a helpless, worthless Gen, after all?
Bibi: He did enjoy it. He was very happy and grateful that I'd let him do it, and relieved that he could without harming me. But it's still a problem for him, fearing his own power.
Seruffin: Perhaps I should speak to him. It could be very dangerous for you, if his fear of his own ability causes him to freeze at the wrong moment.
Bibi: I may not have really figured out what his problem is. Perhaps you can get him to talk to you. He's always been very good, very reliable in technical matters. I have no hesitation in relinquishing to him when necessary.
Seruffin: It may be that he's never consciously learned to find ways to turn his secret vices into an asset.
Bibi: Secret vices? ~~ amused ~~
Seruffin leans back in the swing thoughtfully, arranging his arm around Bibi's shoulder because it somehow seems to be getting between them.
Seruffin: Of course. We all carry with us the irrational beliefs and prejudices we learned as children. Even when we know them for what they are, they still influence us.
Seruffin's voice is serious, but there's a touch of ~~ whimsicality ~~ in his nager that keeps it from being suffocating.
Seruffin: Take me, for instance. I was raised to believe that Gens were, or ought to be, dumb animals. You wouldn't think such an attitude would be an asset for a modern Tecton channel, would you?
Bibi laughs, surprising for a channel in need. Seruffin does good work.
Bibi: No, and especially not in a diplomat dealing with a Gen territory.
Seruffin: It's let me deal with Gens who consider themselves diplomats, and yet who've never bothered to learn the first thing about how to behave around Simes. And on a more positive note, it's allowed me to be comfortable with Gerrhonot, when most First Order channels aren't.
Bibi is ~~ puzzled ~~.
Bibi: You expect the worst, so you're always pleasantly surprised?
Seruffin: Not really. Householding channels, especially, find Gerrhonot disturbing. The Householdings spent hundreds of years proving Gens were intelligent. Then he comes along, living proof that some aren't... he's a threat to the foundation of their philosophy.
Seruffin: Oh, they know he's an exception, and why, but that doesn't matter as much as it should, emotionally. I, on the other hand, find him more comforting than threatening, and for the same reason. And that's worked out to the advantage of both of us. You see?
Seruffin spreads his free hand in a "that proves it" gesture.
Seruffin: You've done much the same thing, you know.
Bibi: I have?
Seruffin: Of course. You were taught that Simes were dangerous monsters, correct?
Seruffin: And that all right-thinking people viewed us as such?
Bibi: Well, everyone I knew.
Seruffin: And how much time did you spend speculating on the views of the people you didn't know?
Bibi: Not much, until I started having strong changeover premonitions.
Seruffin: You were also taught that Gens should live apart from Simes, right?
Bibi: Well, that if they weren't apart, they wouldn't live long!
Seruffin: Indeed. So when is being comfortable with such an irrational childhood attitude an advantage for a channel?
Seruffin ~~ encourages ~~ Bibi to think it through, as far as that's possible for a Sime in need.
Bibi: When dealing with out-T Gens with the same background.
Seruffin: Indeed. A Householding channel would have a much more stressful time dealing with your clients, even though you only see the more progressive members of the community. Even someone like Professor Nattin, who speaks the language and understands the culture, I expect isn't as comfortable with them as you are.
Bibi: No, he's not. He still calls them barbarians sometimes, when he runs up against the more alien aspects of the culture. Of course, he sometimes regards current non-Householding in-T culture as barbaric, or at least still heavily influenced by pre-Unity times.
Seruffin: It is, in many respects.
Bibi: I can see some aspects of it, but surely it's fading rapidly with time.
Seruffin: It's changing, as any society must, faced with such a dramatic change. But whatever it changes into, it won't become one large Householding.
Bibi: Good heavens no! It's more likely that the Householdings will gradually fade away. Most of their reason for existence is gone.
Seruffin: Perhaps. Although after so many hundreds of years, they may find that existence is its own reason.
Bibi: They aren't likely to attract many new members, and with the gates open now, many of their children may prefer to live in the larger world.
Seruffin: I don't know many people raised as Householders who've chosen to leave. Do you?
Bibi: None who've renounced their membership, but ones living away from the walls, Householders in name only. Oaths of fealty unto death to a House, a Virtue and a Sectuib seem a little romantic and inappropriate these days, don't you think? For adults?
Seruffin: And what would you call the oath we both swore to the Tecton?
Bibi: Rather romantic? Somewhat extreme? But not anything I wouldn't have done without the oath, pretty much.
Seruffin: Professor Nattin would say the same of his oath to Frihill, and Layna of her oath to Dar.
Bibi: Well, pledging to give your children to your House does seem a bit casual with their civil rights.
Seruffin: Admittedly, as channels, we had little choice in the oaths we swore.
Seruffin: But mostly, the Householding oaths make formal the sort of obligations that any healthy family imposes. And they supply pretty much the same privileges in return.
Bibi: A rather large family, and one in which most never become the adults in charge.
Seruffin: As to that, there are plenty of families out-Territory where most people defer to one leader. Your Brown clan here in Hannard's Ford, for example.
Bibi: Miz Brown's descendants may respect her and defer to her opinions, but they don't pool all their resources, or marry mainly among themselves, or feel they have to petition her for permission for most of the important things in their lives.
Seruffin: It's not a life I would choose, if the alternative was acceptable at all, but it seems to suit a great many.
Bibi: Now that Simes can live nonjunct and Gens can live safely outside the Householdings in-T I suspect that only those raised in a Householding would favor that lifestyle.
Seruffin: Yes, and no. For new Simes from out-Territory, especially, a ready-made family is very attractive.
Bibi: Before Unity, that and the chance to disjunct would be a powerful draw, but now, once they get their feet under them, I suspect most immigrants would chafe at the lack of independence and self-determination.
Seruffin: Some do, and some don't. Householding culture, even with its restrictions, is more palatable to many than the mainstream in-Territory culture, with its ill-disguised remnants of junct attitudes.
Bibi: One thing I've noticed is a tendency for out-T Simes to marry in-T Gens. Each is more able to regard the other as an equal, I suspect.
Seruffin: Yes. And it's not as if the in-Territory Gens are considered good catches by the old families. After all, most of them, unlike Cristal, didn't turn into Giant Killer Gens.
Bibi: Well, when it comes down to selyn taxes, there's a lot to be said for a Gen spouse, or any Gen family member. And if you want children, Gens are usually better able to sustain a pregnancy and nurse an infant. And it's certainly nice to have a sympathetic Gen around when you're in need, instead of another grouchy Sime.
Seruffin: But one usually decides whom to marry on the basis of physical attraction, not tax breaks. I've lived and worked with Gens all my adult life, and been fond of many of them, but I tend to find Sime women more attractive.
Bibi: I tend to prefer channels myself.
Bibi blushes again, and puts her hand over her eyes.
Bibi: You're amazing, Seruffin. Would anyone believe I'm in need?
Seruffin: You flatter me.
Seruffin is blatantly enjoying it, too.
Bibi lays it on the line.
Bibi: No, I don't. I find your nager irresistible, and the way you're suppressing my need is marvelous.
Seruffin: You're very isolated from Sime contact here, Bibi. I shouldn't take advantage of your loneliness, but...I'm not quite as much of a gentleman as I like to believe, I think.
Seruffin bends over and makes something halfway between lip contact and a kiss. He lets himself zlin Bibi deeply as their nagers blend.
Bibi: Perhaps I'm taking advantage of you. In Capital, you'd never notice me.
Seruffin: I believe I'd notice you, wherever you were, Bibi.
Bibi knows she'd certainly notice Seruffin's intense and beautiful nager at a great distance herself.
Seruffin bends over and deep-zlins Bibi again, just to make sure.
Bibi sighs. ~~ attraction ~~ affection ~~ a memory of what desire feels like ~~
Bibi: Seruffin... if we can ever work the timing out... yes. Very much, yes.
Seruffin's nager ~~ warms ~~ with a mixture of affection, passion, frustration, and a touch of ironic amusement at the entire, improbable situation.
Bibi offers her lips for something that is nothing like a lip contact.
Seruffin is a gentleman, and a gentleman always obliges a lady.