Gegg staggers back to the house through the rain and mud, still ~~ shaken ~~ at the knowledge that he apparently can hurt Simes without meaning to. He wishes this talent had manifested itself back when it might actually have done some good.
Gegg is finding it more of a worry than anything else, as it casts a different light on the ethics of proceeding with his plan of learning to be around Simes.
Gegg opens the door to the back porch, and automatically stops to shed his rain slicker and muddy boots.
Toria hears Gegg on his way in, and decides this would be a good moment to stir the stew.
Toria: Don't track mud in my kitchen, Gegg.
Gegg: I won't, don't worry.
Gegg opens the door into the kitchen and walks through it, padding softly in his socks. He goes over to the kitchen table and sits down, as ~~ exhausted ~~ as if he'd spent the day hoeing or chopping wood.
Toria may be a Gen, but she has no trouble reading Gegg's emotions.
Toria: What's with you, Gegg? You look like you've spent the whole day on the road gang.
Gegg: I feel like I have.
Gegg rubs his eyes tiredly.
Gegg, like most Gen farmers, uses bad weather to rest up for the physical labor he does the rest of the time.
Toria samples the stew and decides it needs a little something, so she takes a bottle off a shelf and adds a little something.
Toria: There. Here, this should help.
Toria grabs a bowl from another shelf, fills it with stew, and serves it up on the table in front of Gegg.
Gegg: Thanks, Toria.
Gegg takes a bit of the stew.
Gegg: That's good.
Toria: [tartly] It should be. I worked hard enough on it.
Gegg really, really, really doesn't want to wrangle with Toria, just now. He finds it difficult to manage even when he's at his best, which is definitely not now.
Gegg: I never said you didn't.
Toria represses her instinct to hit back verbally; it's not easy.
Gegg looks ~~ miserable ~~.
Toria: [softening] So tell me what's wrong.
Gegg: I hurt our guest, Toria. And I don't even know how I did it, so I can't keep from doing it again.
Toria: What?? How? Oh, you don't know how. What happened, then?
Gegg: He asked me to sit on a hay bale, near that room they built, and watch while he took those manacles off.
Toria raises her eyebrows but says nothing.
Gegg: I was doing all right, well, sort of, but then a little garter snake tried to crawl up my pants, and, there's no other way to say it: I lost it. Completely.
Gegg looks ~~ heartily ashamed of himself ~~.
Toria takes a step back and makes a noise of amazement.
Toria: Good Lord, Gegg. Afraid of a snake?
Sanda is in the next room, knitting a sweater, an activity she finds intensely boring. Her eyes practically bug out as she stifles her reaction to this slapstick scenario.
Gegg: Not usually, but, well, it came at a bad moment.
Gegg has definitely been a lot more jumpy, since his sessions with D'zoll started.
Toria: Evidently. You are a lot more, well, easily startled these days.
Gegg: I'm jumping at shadows, particularly when I'm in the barn.
Gegg rubs his eyes again, hoping to jump start his brain.
Toria: Well of course. But what happened to D'zoll?
Gegg: When I threw the snake across the barn, he collapsed.
Toria: So it was him that was panicked by a garter snake? Huh!
Toria had thought better of D'zoll than that, even if he is a city boy.
Gegg: No, Shorsh said it was me losing control that did it. Because D'zoll wasn't expecting it.
Sanda is all ears. Her dad did what to Hajene D'zoll?
Toria: Oh. So you -- overreacted -- to the snake, and D'zoll picked up on it with his Sime senses, then?
Gegg: Something like that, I think.
Toria: [snorts] Men!
Gegg can hardly deny being male, at this late date.
Toria figures it's time to change the situation, so she fills two more bowls, puts one opposite Gegg and the other next to him, and calls:
Toria: Sanda! Wash up and come eat!
Sanda hopes her parents don't realize she was listening. She pauses a bit to make it seem like she's coming from further away, then goes into the kitchen and washes her hands.
Toria sits down opposite Gegg.
Gegg takes another bite of his stew.
Sanda takes her place.
Toria starts in on her stew.
Gegg hasn't had the nerve to think over the rest of the aftermath of the incident. He would much prefer to do that in private, as he expects that he may fall to pieces if he thinks about D'zoll taking his field down.
Sanda is itching to ask her dad whether Hajene D'zoll is okay now or what, but doesn't want to reveal that she was listening. Fortunately there are no Simes present to zlin her ~~ curiosity~~ and ~~ impatience ~~.
Toria: Well, I suppose that was it for the day, then?
Gegg: Yes, I expect so.
Toria: At any rate, I don't suppose D'zoll will let himself be surprised that way again.
Gegg: He said he wouldn't. But no one can be alert all the time. What if it happens again, Toria?
Toria: Then he'll do -- whatever he does. Even you can only have so many different things up your sleeve, Gegg!
Gegg gulps at the unintentional juxtaposition of references to D'zoll "doing what channels do" and to Gegg's sleeves.
Sanda can't contain herself.
Sanda: What happened? Is Hajene D'zoll all right?
Gegg looks at Sanda.
Gegg: Shorsh said he was all right. Eat your stew.
Sanda has another spoonful. She's itching with curiosity.
Gegg eats steadily, to avoid having to answer too many questions.
Sanda wishes she could do something to help her dad understand that channels never hurt anybody. Maybe he could watch Hajene D'zoll take her donation? She thinks about his beautiful soulful dark eyes, just like the hero in "Love's Burning Passion", the tattered novel that's making the rounds of the village.
Toria: Sanda. Eat.
Toria eats a bit faster herself, so to block the silent "If you don't, why do I have to?" look that Sanda is so good at delivering.
Sanda speeds up, figuring on going down to the barn as soon as she finishes. She wipes her bowl with a piece of bread.
Gegg started earlier, so he's the first to finish eating.
Sanda: May I be excused?
Toria: Have you finished? Fine.
Sanda takes her bowl and her father's to the sink, and heads out the door, her boring knitting left behind.
Toria takes Gegg's hand and tries to will him to feel better.
Gegg squeezes back, glad for her support.
Sanda trots down to the barn and pauses in the open door. She doesn't see the channel and Donor and figures they are in their little house thing.
D'zoll and Shorsh are indeed in the mobile insulated unit, trying to clean up D'zoll's systems.
D'zoll isn't aware of Sanda's presence at all, what with Shorsh working on him and the audio and nageric insulation.
Shorsh: Do you think you should have another dose of fosebine?
D'zoll: N-no. I think I can manage without that.
Sanda is ~~ disappointed ~~ that no one answered.
Sanda: [louder] Hello? Hajene D'zoll? Sosu Shorsh?
Shorsh: Shuven, it's Sanda.
Shorsh thinks this is not the best time for D'zoll to be exposed to Sanda's effervescent and uncontrolled nager.
D'zoll: Her nager isn't exactly restful, but it's not going to affect me all that much, especially with you right here. Let's see what she wants.
Shorsh: I can just tell her this isn't the best time to visit, you know.
D'zoll waves his hand impatiently.
D'zoll: Don't fuss. I'll be all right as long as Gegg doesn't come back. You do outshine her by about a factor of five hundred, you know.
Shorsh sighs ostentatiously.
Shorsh: All right.
Shorsh gets up and opens the door.
Shorsh: Hello, Sanda.
D'zoll: Hello, Sanda. How can we help you?
Sanda: Hi. I just thought I'd come by and, uh, see how you were doing. ~~ curious ~~ embarrassed ~~
Sanda wishes she'd brought some food or something to have a better excuse.
D'zoll: I'm just fine, now that Sosu here has done his best for me.
D'zoll winks at Shorsh.
Sanda thinks D'zoll looks a bit pale, which is particularly romantic with his dark eyes and hair.
Sanda: Uh. What happened? ~~ prurient interest ~~
Shorsh decides to let D'zoll do the talking.
D'zoll: Something a little bit unexpected happened, that's all, and I wasn't quite prepared for it. But I've made sure that it won't happen again.
D'zoll smiles reassuringly.
Sanda, of course, is not going to be satisfied with such a vague explanation.
Sanda: My dad... uh, I heard my dad tell my mom that he hurt you somehow. With his nager, I guess.
D'zoll realizes that if Gegg has already broken confidentiality, he needn't be quite so careful. He doesn't know that Sanda gained her information surreptitiously.
D'zoll: When a high-field, high-quality Gen nager changes emotional state suddenly, Simes nearby can be forced to change too. That's called a Genslam.
D'zoll: I wasn't expecting your father's field to be able to do that, and I certainly wasn't expecting him to react so violently to a harmless snake -- even if it was just startlement.
Sanda: So when he freaked out about the snake on his leg it freaked you out too?
D'zoll: Sort of. It's more like, he pushed me very hard from a direction I didn't expect, and so I fell down. But I've learned how to fall, and it didn't actually injure me -- just sore muscles, you might say.
Shorsh doesn't agree, but isn't going to say anything.
Sanda comes a little closer.
Sanda: You do look kind of pale. Are you sure you're all right? ~~ romantic attraction, not very sexual ~~
D'zoll: Pale goes with my genetics. Look at Shorsh, and he's only my second and third cousin.
Sanda thinks the Farris nose looks better on D'zoll's smooth hollow cheeked Sime face than on Shorsh's fleshier one, especially now that Shorsh is growing a dense black curly beard. Besides, Shorsh is older than her father.
Shorsh has stopped shaving in order to look unambiguously Gen to the well-armed locals.
Sanda: I guess so. Um, Hajene... if there's something I can do to help you with my father... like maybe if he watches you take my donation or something?
Sanda feels ~~ noble and self-sacrificing ~~ because this would mean missing out on a trip to the Ford.
D'zoll: Unfortunately, at this stage he would certainly panic at the sight of any Sime functional. And his field would be strong enough to potentially affect your donation as well. So don't even think about it. Your father will have to make his own way in his own time.
Sanda wonders how her dad's field could affect her donation, but doesn't want to look stupid by asking.
Sanda: Uh. Okay, I guess. But let me know if I can do anything to help, okay?
D'zoll: Certainly. The best thing you can do for your father is to support him through this very difficult time. You're your mother's daughter -- you know the drill.
D'zoll smiles at Sanda.
Sanda doesn't think it would help for her to try some of the things her mother does to her father. ~~ consternation ~~
Sanda: Uh, okay.
D'zoll: Relax. I just mean, don't do anything to irritate your parents, more than you absolutely have to at your age, okay?
Sanda: Yeah. ~~ miffed at being treated like a child ~~
D'zoll: Trust me, your father feels a lot more than just offended right now. He feels anything from panic to self-loathing, depending.
Sanda: He feels bad that he's scared of Mik. But he let him stay at the Ford so Hajene Bibi could help him, and he went there as soon as he heard Mik was changing over.
D'zoll: He'd have to be pretty brave to do that, wouldn't he.
Sanda: Everybody around here just shoots their kids. I was really afraid that was going to happen to Mik. Mik was sure he was going to change over.
D'zoll nods vigorously to cover up his internal shudder.
D'zoll: That's a typical sign of a channel. We almost always know that we're going to become Simes, and often exactly when.
Sanda: After I donated to Hajene Marvin in the jail I figured me and Mik could run away to Simeland and live off my donations until he changed over.
D'zoll is sure Mik had something to say about this plan.
Sanda: But then Hajene Seruffin talked my mom into letting Mik go live at the Ford.
D'zoll: That sounds like a lot safer plan to me.
Sanda: Yeah, but Mik was just waiting for doom to strike. He wasn't trying to get our parents to do anything. I mean, dad went and talked to Hajene Bibi and took Mik to get checked out but they were both afraid to tell my mom!
D'zoll: And why do you think that might be?
Sanda: I guess they both thought she'd be against it, but as soon as Hajene Seruffin explained what Hajene Bibi had planned, mom went for it right away.
Sanda remembers her ~~ anger ~~ and ~~ frustration ~~.
Sanda: Like it was Mik's life but he wouldn't do anything!
D'zoll has no trouble remaining unaffected by a general-class nager's negative feelings, no matter what Shorsh thinks!
D'zoll: So you think your father is afraid of your mother?
Sanda: He's afraid of getting her pissed off at him, I guess.
D'zoll: Yet we know how brave he was with Mik. How do you explain that contradiction?
Shorsh thinks D'zoll is doing well, but continues ~~ medium level support ~~, since the channel doesn't need any more stress. Sanda's views are giving him more insight into Gegg family dynamics.
Sanda: I guess he was just hoping that Mik would turn Gen. That's what all the parents around here do. But we read in the booklet about how feeling that you were going to change over means you're going to be a channel. So it wasn't just worrying like all the kids do, it was real.
D'zoll: But when he went to see Mik, what then?
Sanda: He visited him a lot before he changed over, and even when he was changing over before his tentacles came out. But after, Hajene Bibi told him not to. I guess she thought he could hurt Mik like he did you. He felt really bad about it, about being afraid of Mik, so that's why he wants to... you know, what you're here for.
D'zoll: Of course. Well, Mik didn't have even regular channel's training yet, never mind the special training I've had. So what's nothing much for me could be a real concern for Mik.
Sanda: Yeah, but I think dad mostly felt bad because he was afraid of his own son. I don't think he really believed he could hurt a Sime until today. He thought he'd just make Mik feel bad that his own father was afraid of him. He was embarrassed that Mik could zlin him.
D'zoll: That's very perceptive of you, Sanda.
Sanda: Me and Mik talked about it a little. He thought dad was really brave to visit him while he was in changeover. He was zlinning a little, so he could really tell. About how much dad loves him, especially.
D'zoll: I see. And you believed your brother?
Sanda: Sure. Simes don't lie, right? Especially channels.
D'zoll's eyes twinkle.
D'zoll: Only when we absolutely have to.
Sanda would say "Really?" but Simes don't lie, so it must be true that they can lie when they have to, but....
D'zoll: I think you understand.
Sanda: I hope Mik's okay. We got a letter from him, and he says he is, but he didn't give much detail. But he doesn't much like writing.
D'zoll: I can understand that.
Shorsh figures that's one dislike that he won't be allowed to indulge in the Tecton.
D'zoll: But he's already gone through the hardest part, you know -- making it to Simeland at all.
Sanda: I guess. I miss him a lot. I mean, he was a real turkey sometimes, but he's still my only brother.
D'zoll: Sure. You did what you could for him. Now it's time to work on helping your only father.
Sanda: Well, if you can think of anything I can do besides not irritating him, let me know.
D'zoll: Count on it.
Sanda: Okay. Uh, the fall raspberries are getting ripe now. They're back behind the asparagus and jostaberries, in case you didn't see them.
D'zoll: Ah, just what I wanted to hear about. Simes are sugar hounds, you know.
Sanda: They are?
Gegg realizes his daughter isn't in the house, and pokes his head out the back door.
D'zoll: Absolutely. But your father is wondering where you are.
Gegg: Sanda! Come in, it's time for bed!
Sanda: Okay, dad! I was just checking on Petunia!
D'zoll gives Sanda the hairy eyeball.
Sanda glances quickly into Petunia's pen. No piglets or signs of labor so far.
D'zoll: I assure you, I'm not a pig. And your father is not a mushroom.
Sanda: She's going to farrow any day now.
D'zoll: [sternly] I know.
Sanda: I guess I gotta go. Good night, Hajene, Sosu!
D'zoll: Good night, Sanda.
Sanda heads for the door, not waiting for a response.
D'zoll lets his breath out, which he hadn't noticed he was holding.
D'zoll: At least he didn't come down here after her.
Shorsh: Would you expect him to? I think you should get to bed yourself, D'zoll.
D'zoll: I would say "Make me", but you probably would. So I will.
Shorsh puts his arm around the channel's shoulders ~~ affectionately ~~.
D'zoll: So let's turn in.