Darrel is still trying to figure out this out-Territory Sime Center and the people who use it. He was disconcerted that morning when a woman showed up out of nowhere with a basket of baked goods, set up an elaborate buffet, and left, within the space of five minutes.
Darrel has met only a few actual donors so far, and thinks he handled them all right, but suspects that many have stayed away.
Huipil drives his cart along the gravel pit road, looking for the cedar hedge he was told marks the Sime Center.
Darrel has been having a bit of trouble understanding the accent of the locals, but thinks optimistically that he hasn't done too badly. He savors the feeling, as optimism is not his normal mental state.
Cristal notices Darrel's expression with fairly well-concealed surprise. In just a few days he's gotten used to the idea that Darrel makes him look like an optimist.
Huipil is a young man of eighteen, who lives on an isolated homestead six hours by cart from Hannard's Ford. He's making one of his every-two-month-except-in-winter shopping trips.
Huipil has an unusual motive for visiting the Sime Center -- he's never kissed a girl, and figures this will be an opportunity to get some experience, of a sort. He's heard the channel is not only young and beautiful, she's very helpful and sympathetic.
Darrel is handsome enough, but no one's called him a girl since the grade school bully moved away from his home town.
Huipil has never worried much about Simes. His parents told him that if he was a good boy, he'd be sure to be safe, and that's just how it worked out.
Huipil sees the cedar hedge, and the sign on the gate, and drives in. He ties the horse to the hitching rail, and walks up the path to the front door. ~~ determined ~~ nervous ~~ excited ~~
Darrel zlins a Gen approaching.
Darrel: Sosu Cristal, I think we have a customer. Is it anyone you know?
Darrel has gathered that Bibi has made social connections with some of the natives, and doesn't want to be caught not recognizing a long-time Sime Center patron. He peers out the window to Bibi's office, in which he's been looking over some of the paperwork from the past few months.
Cristal looks out the window too.
Cristal: No, I haven't seen him before, Hajene. He doesn't look like he's from town.
Darrel: Well, I suppose we'd better go see what he wants.
Huipil climbs the steps, looking as sophisticated as he can manage (not much).
Darrel isn't used to having so little work, and is impatient to get his tentacles on a few more donors.
Huipil knocks on the door, rehearsing what he plans to say. He doesn't want to sound naive or squeamish.
Darrel leads the way, but gestures for Cristal to take the lead in answering the door.
Darrel: I'd better stay back a bit, so I don't alarm him.
Cristal opens the door and sees Huipil standing there.
Cristal: Welcome to the Sime Center. How may I help you?
Darrel tries anxiously to zlin around Cristal, the better to figure out what this visitor wants.
Huipil: Good day. I've come to kiss the Sime.
Cristal: Ah. We call it "donation". Come in, come in. Unfortunately there is some paperwork to take care of first.
Huipil enters, noticing a skinny guy he didn't see at first. ~~ excited ~~ nervous ~~ eager ~~.
Cristal: If you'll sit in the chair there, we can bring you the forms you need to fill out. --By the way, you can write?
Huipil is a bit ~~ flustered ~~ by the idea of dealing with paperwork. He was home-schooled, and his parents didn't regard literacy as very important compared to the practical tasks of the homestead and trap lines. He isn't going to admit that, when he's trying to look sophisticated, though. ~~ nervous ~~ embarrassed ~~
Darrel zlins the Gen carefully, wishing he was a bit more emotionally stable.
Huipil: Of course I can, but unfortunately I left my reading glasses at home. ~~ lying ~~
Huipil's father uses this dodge whenever called upon to display literacy.
Cristal: In that case I'll fill out the forms and you just answer my questions, okay?
Darrel edges a bit nearer, zlinning the lie clearly.
Cristal juggles the difficult problem of getting the forms while still protecting his channel from the Wild Gen nager, but manages to lay his hands on them.
Darrel wonders if the guy isn't literate, or just wants to avoid giving out personal information.
Huipil suddenly notices the skinny guy's arms, and is ~~ intensely startled ~~. His heart pounds. He's never seen a real Sime before. And he thought he had this all worked out!
Darrel flinches away from Huipil's startled nager.
Cristal sees what's happening and ~~ raises his support to just short of maximum ~~
Darrel edges behind Cristal.
Cristal in the process drops the papers, which slide around on the floor.
Darrel realizes that some of the formalities have been neglected.
Darrel: I'm Hajene Darrel, the channel here, and this is my Donor, Sosu Cristal.
Huipil determines to keep up his sophisticated act.
Huipil: Good day. I'm Mr. Huipil.
Huipil offers his hand to shake, which he knows is proper etiquette for meeting a stranger.
Darrel: We're pleased you decided to visit us today, Mr. Hui..Huipull?
Huipil feels really ~~ awkward ~~ with his hand sticking out.
Darrel hesitates, looking at the hand, then remembers the Gen custom.
Darrel: Oh, I'm sorry. Of course.
Darrel reaches out to take Huipil's hand, firmly.
Cristal: Mr Huipil, it's not customary for Simes to do more than just touch people when they greet them -- and then only with friends, as a rule.
Huipil starts to shake hands enthusiastically, then stops, ~~ confused ~~ and ~~ dismayed ~~.
Darrel hastily lets go of Huipil's hand, to escape the projection.
Huipil starts to stick his hand in his pocket, then stops, since it isn't the sophisticated thing to do. ~~ embarrassed ~~ confused ~~
Darrel: It's all right, Mr. Hwepil. I'd be a poor visitor to your town, if I weren't willing to follow the local customs.
Huipil wonders where the beautiful woman Sime he intends to kiss is.
Cristal busies himself picking up his paperwork in order to hide his ~~ embarrassment ~~ from Huipil.
Darrel thinks he's getting enough embarrassment from Huipil; he doesn't need it reinforced by his Donor, as well.
Cristal: Okay. Have a seat now and I'll run you through the procedure.
Huipil tries to look cool. He didn't know there was a Sime for paperwork and a different one for kissing here.
Darrel fades back, hoping that dealing with another Gen will make the visitor more comfortable.
Cristal asks the routine questions, gets predictable answers from Huipil, and gives him the routine explanation of donation, ending with:
Cristal: So when you're ready, Hajene Darrell here [points to him] will take your donation. He'll walk you through the process step-by-step, just as I've just explained it.
Darrel takes the cue to come closer.
Huipil is ~~ startled ~~ again.
Huipil: But he's a man!
Darrel: Well, yes, last time I looked, I was. Is there a problem, Mr. Hoopil?
Huipil is getting ~~ flustered ~~
Cristal: Channels can be either men or women, Mr. Huipil.
Huipil: Uh. I came to kiss the girl Sime.
Cristal: Hajene Bibi is on vacation this month.
Huipil has heard about vacations but never met anybody who actually had one. It does seem to be something sophisticated people do, but it sure throws a wrench into his plans.
Darrel: It doesn't affect how a donation works, if both people are the same sex, Mr. Huiple.
Huipil begins to blush, realizes it and blushes harder. His plans are in ruins. How is he going to back out now without looking like a stupid rural clod?
Huipil: Well, I'll be back in town in another couple months or so. She'll be here then, won't she?
Darrel: That was the plan, but the Tecton often moves its personnel around without notice.
Darrel hopes he doesn't get stuck out here for years, the way Hajene Bibi did.
Huipil thinks, but doesn't say, "Oh, shit". He resolves next time he'll ask around to find out if the girl Sime is here before he comes to the Sime Center.
Darrel: Did you have some particular reason for wanting to see Hajene Bibi?
Darrel wonders if she's been treating this man for something embarrassing, or something of the sort.
Huipil isn't going to get into any explanations. He's certainly not going to admit he hoped to use Bibi as a test dummy for kissing lessons. He restrains himself from saying "uhhh....". ~~ embarrassed ~~ unsure ~~ worried ~~
Huipil decides to take the initiative.
Huipil: Sorry to trouble you, then. I'll be back in two months.
Darrel: I can understand why you might be nervous about trusting a channel who's new to your community, but I assure you, I wouldn't have been entrusted with the Hannard's Ford Sime Center, if I weren't trustworthy.
Huipil isn't going to explain that that has nothing to do with it.
Huipil gets up and heads for the door. ~~ embarrassed ~~ relieved ~~ humiliated ~~
Darrel heads Huipil off.
Cristal moves to protect Darrel, as much as he can, from Huipil's next outburst.
Huipil is really ~~ startled ~~ this time. He never imagined that they wouldn't let him leave! ~~ incipient panic ~~
Darrel: Mr. Huipool, I can understand that it's upsetting to you, not to find the channel you expected here. However, you came here to give selyn today. There's no reason not to do so.
Darrel edges a little closer to Cristal, trying to look harmless. He finds it works better with women than men, but one can hope. He really isn't sure what else to do.
Huipil is not going to set the skinny guy straight. He tries to edge past him.
Cristal sees that it's important to Darrel to have this Gen donate, though he can't figure out why. He wonders if Darrel, or someone he knows, once experienced a selyn shortage.
Darrel has actually been feeling a touch of entran, and was hoping to work it off without bothering Cristal for an outfunction.
Cristal: As I was explaining, the financial side of donation can be extremely ... useful.
Huipil isn't listening. He wants out. Stories he's heard of evil, deceitful Simes begin to come to the foreground of his thoughts. ~~ fear ~~ frustration ~~ helplessness ~~
Cristal: [loudly but not angrily] Mr. Huipil! Why do you want to leave?
Huipil loses it.
Huipil: Lemme out! ~~ panic ~~
Huipil shoves past Darrel and out the door.
Darrel: Please, calm down. No one's going to force you do any.... Shen!
Huipil unties his horse, vaults onto the bench, and leaves at a trot.
Darrel looks at Cristal, ~~ bewildered ~~.
Darrel: What was that all about?
Cristal: I was just going to ask you that, Hajene. It seemed to me that you very much wanted him to donate, despite his obvious strong resistance, but I wasn't sure why.
Darrel: He wasn't resisting because he was afraid of Simes. He's never come in before?
Cristal: I'm sure he hasn't. I've never seen him before, and it seemed clear to me that everything I said was new to him. He probably lives on some isolated farm somewhere.
Darrel: I just can't figure out why he was so obsessed with Hajene Bibi being the one to take his donation, if he's never met her.
Darrel holds to the in-T opinion that transfer has nothing to do with sex.
Cristal finds the light dawning on him.
Cristal: You remember, Hajene, he talked about "kissing the Sime"? I think he thought he was going to be, well, kissed.
Darrel: ...Oh. Do the Gens out here really think that?
Cristal: Some of them know better by now. But yes. And out-T Gens are as ... limited ... as channels, sexually. Especially the males.
Cristal doesn't know what an oversimplification this is.
Darrel ~~ understands ~~, or thinks he does.
Darrel: So he thought I was making a pass at him? Why would I do that? ~~ bewildered ~~
Cristal: Not really. He thought he was being asked to do something sexual with you -- with me as the, umm, controller.
Darrel: Or maybe, he wanted Bibi to make a pass at him?
Cristal: Something like that, yes.
Darrel is struck by a sudden, awful thought.
Darrel: Sosu. When word gets out that it's me here, and not Bibi... Am I going to be inundated with women who want to "kiss" me?
Cristal laughs gently.
Cristal: I don't think "inundated" is the word. But there may be some, yes.
Cristal regards Darrel critically.
Cristal: You are a rather attractive man. ~~ neutral field ~~
Darrel is in fact the kind of man that strikes a lot of women square in their maternal instinct.
Darrel: If I remember my classes on out-Territory culture correctly... aren't women less free to seek out that kind of adventure than men?
Cristal: Yes, absolutely. But that doesn't mean that they aren't titillated by the idea of it, even if they would never consummate the relationship. As they say in Gen Territory, thoughts are free. That includes feelings, of course!
Darrel: I see.
Darrel is not used to considering feelings to be free.
Cristal: So yes, you can expect to inspire some daydreams.
Darrel looks visibly ~~ uneasy ~~ at that prospect.
Cristal is in fact working to keep out of his field the fact that some of the daydreams may well be his.