Marvin watches the train as it pulls in to Holigor, the last stop before the Border. He holds his hands over his ears as the wheels squeal to a stop.
Marvin's wearing his retainers already, although he won't technically need them until he gets on the train; it saves time and is less risky to the laterals.
Marvin idly zlins the few Simes still on the train moving down to the Sime cars, and walks along the track to the door of the nearest one. He sends his Donor to the dining car -- she needs a meal more than he needs her at this point.
Marvin augments slightly to jump up from the low platform into the car, and almost falls out of the car in ~~ surprise ~~.
Bibi: Marvin! ~~ surprise ~~ pleasure ~~
Bibi almost flings her arms wide to offer a hug, remembers the retainers and does a more careful fling.
Marvin: Yeah, isn't this an amazing coinkydink.
Marvin moves carefully into the hug and wraps his arms around Bibi.
Bibi: Mmm. I've missed you. How have you been?
Marvin: Oh, well enough, I guess, though that fellow they have working at the Ford is certainly no substitute for you. But let me look at you!
Marvin breaks the hug and backs up a bit so he can see Bibi as well as zlin her.
Bibi: Oh, dear. Has he been having trouble? ~~ worried ~~
Marvin: Not that I know of. But he doesn't exactly qualify for the part of best-friend-I've-ever-had, either.
Marvin: Anyhow, you look great. A month in-T has done wonders for you.
Bibi: It was a great experience, but I'm glad to be going back home.
Marvin: I can see that. The Tecton really needs to grasp the concept of "vacation", instead of disguising it as "rotation".
Marvin shrugs expressively.
Bibi: The conference was very interesting, I learned a lot, but being surrounded by all those Firsts was kind of overwhelming. And Seruffin introduced me to all these big shots he knows. I felt like a real hick. They were very courteous, of course, but I had no way to tell what they were thinking behind their showfields.
Bibi didn't need to zlin to note that a number of them found her sexually attractive and wondered what she was doing with an older man like Seruffin.
Marvin makes a dismissive gesture with his tentacles, except that they're immobilized inside the retainers. He tries again.
Marvin: Firsts? Pif.
Marvin: All those big nagers are just so many balloons. If anyone came along with a pin, they'd disappear.
Marvin tries to shape the ambient into the form of a balloon being punctured, but the picture remains excessively fuzzy.
Marvin and Bibi sit as the train starts to move again.
Bibi: Ah, well, at least you and I aren't constantly driven by fear of entran. I heard the Controllers of the local Sime Centers were tearing their hair out trying to get enough work for all these big guys.
Marvin: Hmm. Why couldn't they just, you know, work on each other?
Bibi: Well, I expect the local renSimes were delighted to take transfer from Firsts. Farrises, even.
Marvin: I'll bet they were.
Marvin: Anyhow, you look just fine for someone who's been living on channel's transfer for the past month.
Bibi: I took transfer from a Gen last week, but Seruffin did very well for me the time before.
Bibi shudders at the memory of the days preceding that transfer.
Marvin: Of course. Nitwitted of me. Somehow I was thinking you'd be looking forward to good old Cristal already.
Bibi: It was strange, taking channel's transfer, but it worked out okay.
Marvin: What's it like?
Bibi: Seruffin did a good job of simulating a Gen nager, but when he entwined tentacles with me... it just felt so weird. And lateral contact with his laterals... It was hard to get to the point where I could draw. He initiated it, pushed the selyn at first, and that was strange too.
Bibi thinks about it.
Bibi: I had to relinquish to him, let him control, or I couldn't do it. But once the transfer started, it was really good.
Bibi laughs, ~~ mildly embarrassed ~~
Bibi: I just kept drawing and drawing... filled my secondary too. Greedy, after all that waiting.
Marvin: I guess Firsts aren't quite such useless parasites after all. Particularly ones that have the good taste to appreciate you.
Bibi: Well, they can't help it that they're Firsts.
Marvin: Pity the poor poor QN-1; he just can't help himself.
Bibi: Indeed. Watching them scrabble around, desperate for work, and they're so much more sensitive to fields, it can't be easy for them.
Marvin: But Seruffin is special. I'm glad you two found one another at last.
Bibi: Well, he is good in bed, despite his age. Not that you aren't, of course.
Marvin blushes in turn.
Bibi strokes Marvin's cheek with her fingers, her tentacles being unavailable.
Marvin: Somehow I think there's something more between the two of you than transfer and sex, though?
Marvin strokes Bibi's cheek too.
Bibi: He's an interesting man. He's been through a lot. He's very knowledgeable too. It's great to be able to consult him on technical problems.
Marvin fixes Bibi with the best hairy eyeball he can summon up.
Marvin: If you won't talk about it, you won't.
Bibi looks down and blushes again.
Bibi: Nagerically... it's a pleasure to be able to flow with the Sime instinct to submit to the more powerful nager... with someone I can trust not to abuse that power.
Marvin takes a deep breath.
Marvin: It must be.
Bibi: And such a powerful nager...
Marvin smiles blissfully.
Marvin: Talk about being swept off your feet, eh?
Marvin: I've felt that way around TN-1s, sometimes, but of course I can't help remembering that there's not a thing I can really do to affect them. And most QN-1s, well, they don't want much to do with me, as you know.
Bibi: I'm a very lucky woman, Marvin. The job I want, this relationship with Seruffin, and a good friend like you.
Bibi wishes Marvin could have similar luck but is too tactful to say so.
Marvin: I'm a lucky man myself. The job I'm needed for, and you. ~~ affection ~~
Bibi returns the ~~ affection ~~.
Marvin: Could I possibly interest you in a short journey over to those bags of seed wheat I see over there in the corner? ~~ gleam of humor ~~
Bibi: Hm. It would be more comfortable than these wooden crates, I think. Or those alleged passenger seats over there.
Marvin: Yes. There is a splinter attempting to impinge upon my podex, and although I am refusing to give in, it has become a strain.
Bibi gets up and offers her hand.
Bibi: Lead on, Hajene.
Marvin takes the hand and uses it to get himself off the low crate without injury. He leads Bibi to the bags and uses his feet to kick them into submission, or at least a lower degree of lumpiness.
Marvin lets go of Bibi's hand and sits down on the bags, then stretches himself out and holds up an arm invitingly.
Bibi joins Marvin and snuggles close to him. ~~ affection ~~
Marvin: Shen. ~~ mild pain ~~
Marvin has pinched a lateral, though not seriously.
Bibi: We're still in Nivet, you can take it off.
Bibi reaches to offer help with the retainer.
Marvin: By the time I get it off and then back on, we'll be over the Border, though. I've been down this road before.
Bibi puts a ~~ comforting ~~ hand over the retainer-encased lateral.
Marvin: Let's just snuggle and I'll be better soon enough.
Bibi laughs and cooperates, engaging her nager with Marvin's in the manner of intimate friends.
Marvin: By the way, is your Donor pigging out in the dining car too?
Bibi: Yes, he is.
Marvin meditates on the eating habits of Gens.
Marvin: You think he'll be there for a while? My donor was starving when we got on.
Bibi: Mine was pretty hungry. He missed lunch. The dining car closed earlier than he expected.
Marvin: Ah yes, you've been on the train since Capital. Well, all the more time for us to enjoy ourselves.
Bibi: These sacks are pretty comfortable. The coach seats are better than those crates, though.
Marvin: I guess sitting on crates is some sort of tradition on these trains. Everyone seems to do it.
Bibi: I'm glad I don't have to do it as much as you do.
Marvin: So'm I.
Bibi yawns, politely covering her mouth.
Marvin: In any case, I see you need a little sleep. Let yourself go, and I'll wake you up when we get to the Ford, if your Donor isn't back by then.
Bibi: Thanks. Not sure I can sleep on the train, but I am pretty tired.
Bibi curls up a little, head on Marvin's shoulder.
Marvin: ~~ happiness ~~ Yeah?
Bibi: Is it true that you were planning to become a preacher before you changed over?
Marvin: I had thought about it, yes. How'd you hear about that?
Bibi: Gerrhonot told me. You told those two kids who showed up in the middle of the night.
Marvin: Oh yes, so I did. I thought he was asleep at the time. Or three-fifths asleep, anyhow.
Bibi smiles, and relaxes a bit more, thinking about Gerrhonot's smooth, powerful nager projecting sleepiness.
Marvin: I think I would have been pretty good at it.
Marvin: [soothingly] That's it, sink deeper towards sleep.
Bibi: I can see that. Some ways at least.
Marvin: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Bibi: Oh, I dunno. A dairy farmer's wife, I guess.
Marvin lightly strokes Bibi's shoulder.
Bibi: Mother of a lot of young dairy farmers and dairy farmers' wives.
Marvin smiles at the thought.
Marvin: So now you mother a lot of new Simes instead?
Bibi: And a lot of scared kids.
Marvin: Yeah. Feed 'em cookies. And milk, ha!
Bibi: Tell them they can live a good life even if they do turn Sime.
Marvin: And then Uncle Marvin comes along and takes them to Simeland. Yeeeah.
Marvin projects ~~ sleep ~~
Marvin: [singsong] Where they live happily ever after, we all hope.
Bibi: Marvin... if you'd established and become a preacher... you'd have had to toe the party line about soulless Simes.
Marvin: I didn't really know any better then, y'know. But maybe I'd have become one of those wandering preachers.
Bibi: Skinny as a Sime, preaching hellfire and damnation to Simelovers?
Marvin: Naah. I was never interested in hellfire. It was the part about "love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land" that interested me.
Bibi gently strokes Marvin's ribs.
Marvin: Mmmm. Of course, now it's "all over both lands."
Bibi: You're a good man, Marvin. I think you'd have come to that eventually even as a Gen preacher.
Marvin just can't help smiling his thousand-Genpower smile.
Marvin: Thanks, Bibi-o. You're a marvel.
Bibi's eyes are closed, but she zlins the smile.
Marvin projects ~~ sleep sleep sleep ~~
Bibi: So are you, my dear, so are you.
Marvin's smile lingers as he meditates on the sleeping habits of Simes.