Spring Fever: Episode 5

Gerrhonot is sitting comfortably on the back veranda ~~ enjoying ~~ another delicious meal with good ~~ appetite ~~.

Seruffin carries his Sime-sized half sandwich over to join his Donor.

Gerrhonot smiles ~~ happily ~~.

Gerrhonot: We sure get fed well here, don't we?

Seruffin is in a very good mood, after last night's discussion with Bibi, and not only because Gerrhonot is projecting. He's also a bit frustrated, but that's life in the Tecton.

Seruffin: Yes, Gitl is an excellent cook, especially for someone who didn't grow up cooking for Simes.

Gerrhonot: She sure likes to feed Gens, too.

Seruffin chuckles.

Seruffin: Perhaps you can persuade her to make you up a picnic basket, when we leave?

Gerrhonot: That won't be a problem. She really likes you. She says you're good for Bibi.

Gerrhonot thinks Gitl likes him too, the way she's always offering him food.

Gerrhonot: I hope you and Bibi can get together some time when you're both pre-turnover.

Seruffin: So do I, Gerrhonot. It may be selfish of me, but... so do I.

Cristal opens the door with his foot, carrying his lunch ~~ tightly ~~ with both hands ~~ cautious ~~

Gerrhonot: She likes you a lot. It would be good for both of you. ~~ happy for his channel ~~

Seruffin blushes.

Gerrhonot has never seen Seruffin blush before. ~~ happy ~~

Cristal hears this, and feels a little ~~ better ~~ now that he knows he's not alone in his views.

Seruffin: Ah, Sosu Cristal, please come join us.

Cristal: Thank you, Hajene.

Cristal walks past Seruffin and sits on Gerrhonot's far side, enough so that his nager should not influence Seruffin's. ~~ neutral ~~

Seruffin: How is Bibi? Did she chase you out to eat?

Cristal: Yes. She's rather, um, [English] cranky.

Cristal: [Simelan] She says she can't think about anything except my stomach.

Seruffin has banished hungry Donors before, when in hard need, so isn't surprised. He chuckles.

Cristal smiles ~~ cautiously ~~.

Seruffin: Your field does project strongly, for a Second.

Gerrhonot hands Seruffin a slice of carrot cut into the shape of a butterfly. ~~ delicious and crunchy ~~

Cristal figures he'd better not irritate two channels in one day, and starts to eat his food with all deliberate speed.

Seruffin is well trained, and obediently crunches.

Seruffin: Cristal, if Bibi is agreeable, would you like to work with me for a while this afternoon, while Gerrhonot sits with Bibi?

Gerrhonot is a little ~~ surprised ~~, but entirely ~~ willing ~~. He loves to soothe a channel's need, and helping Bibi will be easy for him.

Cristal: Certainly, Hajene, I'd love to. ~~ sincere ~~

Seruffin: I shouldn't give you too much trouble so soon after transfer, when you're high field.

Cristal: ~~ surprised ~~ Of course not, Hajene.

Seruffin: Bibi told me that you've volunteered to give transfer to young Mik, if he goes through changeover without enough warning to bring another Donor out here?

Cristal nods.

Cristal: Certainly, Hajene. After all, what Donor wouldn't want to serve First Transfer? ~~ not really hopeful ~~

Seruffin: It's a very different experience, for a Donor, to work with a channel who has no possibility of controlling.

Cristal: I understand that's true. It's supposed to be a peak experience, from what I hear ~~ cautious again ~~

Seruffin: It can be, but it's not the equal partnership you're used to having, either.

Cristal: ~~ sad ~~ No, I don't suppose so.

Seruffin: Gerrhonot, have you ever served at changeover?

Gerrhonot: No, I haven't.

Gerrhonot hopes that if he ever does, it won't put him out of phase with Seruffin. He figures he should have no trouble, since he'd outmatch almost anyone but a top Farris for First Transfer.

Seruffin zlins Cristal, wondering just what triggered the sadness.

Seruffin: Does that bother you, Sosu Cristal? That you'd have to control the transfer, and Mik, completely?

Cristal: [stiffly formal] Of course not, Hajene. But I was reflecting that I have never experienced an "equal partnership", as you call it, in any transfer situation.

Seruffin: Because either your channel or you is controlling?

Cristal: Yes, Hajene.

Seruffin: Does that bother you?

Cristal: Up till now, I never thought about it one way or the other. Now ... I don't know. ~~ uncertainty ~~

Seruffin: Is it that one person must control that bothers you? Or that under normal circumstances, in the Tecton, that person is the channel?

Cristal: Well, I suppose that when the channel controls the transfer, I'm allowing the channel to control me. And when I control, then, well, I have to control both of us. ~~ thoughtful~~ I never realized until I came here just how much of an effort that was.

Seruffin: Do you control Bibi more often than some of the other channels you've worked with?

Cristal: ~~ still thoughtful ~~ I'd say, if anything, less.

Seruffin: Do you miss it?

Cristal: No. ~~ confused ~~ I don't want to control channels, Hajene. I do it when it's necessary.

Seruffin looks at Cristal in ~~ contemplation ~~

Seruffin: Bibi told me that you rather enjoyed controlling her, the other day.

Cristal: ~~ alarm ~~ No, no! I assure you, she entirely misunderstood my motives! What I was enjoying was her, umm, sense of satisfaction.

Seruffin discreetly uses Gerrhonot's field to block some of Cristal's alarm.

Cristal forcibly ~~ neutralizes ~~ his field.

Cristal: That's an example of what I mean, Hajene. Because my field is loud, or however you described it, I have to suppress my feelings, or Simes grow very uncomfortable, to say the least.

Cristal: Bibi encouraged me, for the first time since my training, to feel my feelings. And I did enjoy it. But I'm also afraid that it will become a ... habit.

Seruffin: It should be, Sosu. Your control is more than good enough to prevent you from disrupting the fields when it's important not to. Beyond that, it's not healthy not to allow yourself to feel.

Cristal: ~~ reluctant ~~ I am beginning to ... understand that. Since you tell me, as a First, that I have sufficient control, I of course would not dream of doubting your word. But just for myself ... it is hard for me to really feel ... confident that a more, umm, nuanced level of control would actually be satisfactory in ... ordinary interactions. ~~ painfully polite ~~

Seruffin: Are you afraid that you would go too far, and harm the Simes around you?

Cristal: [long silence] ~~ affirmative ~~

Seruffin: Or worse yet, influence them too strongly through pleasure, and to your personal advantage?

Cristal: [another long silence] All I can say is that if it is so, I certainly never suspected it at all. Except in transfer itself, I'm not ... used to giving pleasure to Simes, any Simes.

Seruffin: What do you think of the idea? Does it disturb you?

Cristal: ~~ earnest ~~ I enjoyed giving Bibi pleasure more than I've ever enjoyed anything in my life, Hajene.

Seruffin: That is part of what you gain when you allow yourself to feel; the positive side that balances the possible harm you could do.

Gerrhonot thinks this is a strange conversation, even creepy. But Cristal is kind of a strange guy, too. Nonetheless, he keeps his nager ~~ calm ~~ and ~~ steady ~~

Cristal: ~~ damped outrage ~~ Yes, but! The pleasure is for me, and perhaps a consenting Sime; the harm is for others, consenting or otherwise. Those are entirely different!

Seruffin: Indeed they are, Cristal. Why, then, are you afraid that you won't be able to distinguish between them? You're no Giant Killer Gen out of a junct thriller, you know.

Cristal: [musing] I had understood that those Giant Killer Gen legends were based on Natural Donors, though ... ~~ emphatic ~~ If the price for making sure that I harm no one involves depriving myself and my assigned channel of ... certain things, then that's the price. ~~ daring ~~ Don't you channels pay a price for your anti-kill conditioning, that's supposed to keep Gens safe at all costs?

Seruffin: Two transfers, yes, and the danger of a suicide abort rather than going junct.

Cristal makes the "fair enough" gesture.

Seruffin: But are you so sure that you will necessarily inflict harm if you allow yourself an occasional indulgence in consensual pleasure?

Cristal: ~~ emphatic again ~~ No. But I can't be sure I won't. Not as you can.

Cristal wonders if he's gone too far now.

Seruffin: Cristal, I have the stronger nager of a First, but that doesn't alter the ethics of the situation, or the temptation to use my nager to others' disadvantage. I like to think that I don't abuse my abilities, but I have only the same conscience that you do to prevent it.

Cristal: With Simes, yes. But with Gens, you are protected. I ... have no such protections.

Seruffin shakes his head.

Seruffin: The anti-kill conditioning prevents me from actually killing Gens, it's true, but that leaves a great deal of room for abuse. I must rely on my conscience to remain within the bounds of decency with Gens, as with Simes. If it's proved sufficient to keep me from becoming a tyrant, there's no reason to think that your conscience will fail you in that respect.

Cristal looks Seruffin directly in the eyes.

Cristal: ~~ proud humility ~~ I can only say that I envy you your self-confidence in this respect.

Seruffin sighs.

Seruffin: Cristal, I wasn't trying to be critical. I was just trying to point out that the fact that you are worried about the ethical implications of indulging yourself, is a good indicator that you won't abuse the situation.

Cristal nods. ~~ thoughtful ~~

Cristal: I shall attempt to live up to your view of me, Hajene.

Seruffin decides that he's pushed enough for one conversation. He nods in gracious recognition of Cristal's promise.

Seruffin: Then if you still wish to work with me this afternoon, perhaps you should go ask Bibi whether she's agreeable?

Cristal: ~~ still thoughtful ~~ Certainly, Hajene.

Cristal goes back inside the Sime Center.

Gerrhonot looks at Seruffin. ~~ inquiry ~~ a little worried ~~

Seruffin: What's bothering you, Gerrhonot?

Gerrhonot: Um. I don't take advantage of you with my bigger nager, do I?

Seruffin smiles ~~ reassuringly ~~

Gerrhonot: I mean, sometimes I get you to eat when you aren't hungry, but it's for your good...

Seruffin: No, Gerrhonot, you don't. Cristal won't, either, unless my judgment is off. So why should either of you turn away from the pleasure you can share with Simes?

Gerrhonot: I do like to use my nager to help you when you're in need or feeling bad.

Seruffin's smile broadens reflexively.

Gerrhonot: And when I'm making love with female channels.... ~~ happy memories ~~~

Seruffin chuckles.

Seruffin: I'm afraid I've failed you there, Gerrhonot.

Gerrhonot: That's okay. But it must be even better for two channels.

Seruffin: It's good any time two people, of either larity, take the time to enjoy each other.

Gerrhonot: It's too bad we can't stay until after Bibi's transfer. ~~ regret ~~

Seruffin: Yes, it is. Perhaps our business in Capital won't take long, and we can visit again on our way back.

Gerrhonot: I hope so. ~~ affection ~~ sympathy ~~ happiness ~~

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