Healing Old Wounds, Finding New Hope: Episode 5

Seruffin is relaxing on the veranda of the Hannard's Ford Sime Center, watching the sunset, and feeling more at home than he has in a great many years.

Seruffin is officially covering for Bibi while she enjoys some time off the grounds, but it is late enough that it's unlikely any more donors will show. He considers it sufficient that he let the staff know where to find him, if his services become necessary, and he has sent Gerrhonot off to enjoy some free time.

Bart comes out on the porch with two mugs of hot trin.

Bart: Hello, Hajene.

Seruffin: Hello, young Bart. Isn't it a lovely evening?

Bart: It's a bit chilly, but it is nice and clear.

Bart offers Seruffin a mug.

Seruffin: Thank you.

Seruffin takes the mug, then offers Bart the other half of the porch swing.

Bart sits, ~~ happy ~~ to be invited to sit close to the channel. He makes the gesture offering nageric support.

Seruffin raises an eyebrow, then nods.

Bart carefully arranges his nager to make it easy for a channel to engage it to the depth he desires.

Seruffin is not in any particular nageric distress, and the ambient is calm, but he leans lightly on Bart's support, testing its quality.

Seruffin: Your control has become more solid, since the last time I saw you.

Bart: Thank you. Hajene Bibi has been teaching me, and Hajene Marvin let me practice on him a lot when we were traveling. ~~ happiness ~~

Seruffin: Traveling is a good way to practice supporting a channel. The moving train provides at least some challenge, but there's not much more than a bit of nausea at stake if you falter.

Bart: Well, we had Sosu Ammenia with us, too, so I knew that when there was a real problem she could handle it.

Bart sighs.

Bart: It just feels really good, [Simelan] interacting nagerically. ~~ gratitude ~~

Seruffin: Yes, it does. I expect you'll find it's a bit less gratifying, working with a channel you don't particularly like, but it always feels good.

Bart: I don't expect it to be perfect. I know there'll be parts I won't like. Jobs are like that.

Seruffin: Yes. Channels are people, and we often work under a lot of stress. That tends to bring out the worst in everyone.

Bart leans back and imagines his ~~ contentment ~~ and ~~ appreciation ~~ of the beauty of the night as well as his ~~ pleasure ~~ in nageric interaction spreading out from himself in slow waves.

Bart: Sometimes my parents get stressed out and yell at each other. I try to stay calm when that happens, to not make it worse.

Seruffin: That can be an effective technique for dealing with a grumpy channel, as well.

Bart sips his trin, ~~ enjoying ~~ the warmth and flavor, ~~ curious ~~ whether he's influencing Seruffin to drink too.

Seruffin: Although you have to use tact and good judgment: there are times when even the best of us aren't in the mood to be made to feel good.

Seruffin looks at Bart a little sharply.

Bart is ~~ embarrassed ~~. He didn't expect to be able to have much effect on a First.

Bart: I'm sorry, Hajene. I didn't mean to annoy you.

Seruffin: Oh, it's all right: I was deliberately exposing myself to your field, to see what you can do.

Bart smiles.

Seruffin: Your technique is pretty good, especially considering how little practice you've been able to get.

Bart: I think I can project stronger than that, but I wouldn't unless you wanted me to.

Seruffin: Very good. The first principle of being a successful Donor is not to tire yourself out -- and exhaust your channel's willingness to be manipulated -- by working harder than the overall situation demands.

Bart: I guess the situation here doesn't require much... ~~ calm ~~ hopeful ~~

Seruffin: That's right. I'm nowhere close to turnover, there are no other Gens or Simes around, and I haven't been working close to my limits in nearly a week.

Seruffin usually prefers not to get as close to the limits of his abilities as he did while taking Pollovic's very public donation.

Seruffin: I'm also a First, and so I tend to react more strongly to your projections than a Second like Bibi or Marvin would. A Third, on the other hand, would require more strength and less subtlety.

Bart: It's hard for me to tell how strongly I'm projecting. I guess I just have to get a lot of practice, with Simes who will let me know what I'm doing.

Seruffin: Indeed. When you start formal training, you'll be working with many different channels. Learning how to "read" what is working with a strange channel, and what isn't, will be a valuable part of your education.

Bart: Yes. That part isn't easy. Like, it's pretty dark out here now, so I can't see your face very well, so I don't have too much to go on. I guess it's just as well that you don't really need my support.

Seruffin: You aren't depending on your eyes quite as much as you think, I expect.

Seruffin deliberately recalls the ~~ distress ~~ he felt during the ordeal in the Senate building's rotunda, while keeping his expression as bland as he can. He's a little better at controlling his facial expressions than many Simes, that being a necessary skill for a diplomat dealing with Gens.

Bart feels something change, becomes more ~~ alert ~~ and ~~ offers more support ~~. He turns toward Seruffin and reaches out his hand.

Bart: Hajene?

Seruffin puts his hand on Bart's, lightly, and smoothly drops his projection.

Seruffin: You see? Trust your instincts. They'll be right most of the time.

Bart: I felt... like you needed my help...

Seruffin: I was projecting distress. If a channel you're working with gets into trouble, you'll feel something like that.

Bart nods, knowing Seruffin can zlin his reaction, and can probably see the nod as well.

Bart: But I have to learn what to do, too, not just wing it with my instincts. When I see Gerrhonot and Cristal and Ammenia working... there's a lot to learn.

Seruffin: There is. What you've been learning so far is simple support and control. Those are a necessary foundation for a Donor, but they're only the beginning.

Seruffin: You'll be learning how to focus your attention down to a very fine point, which can encourage healing in a Sime.

Seruffin: Not all healing is best done nagerically, however. You'll also be learning how to heal with drugs, how to set bones and clean wounds, how to recognize diseases and injuries...

Bart is enjoying the contact with Seruffin's warm Sime hand. He'd really like for him to extend his tentacles around his wrist, too.

Seruffin obligingly extends a handling tentacle to brush Bart's wrist, then lets go to avoid distracting him.

Bart: Uh... There was something I wanted to ask your advice about.

Seruffin: What is it?

Bart: When Sectuib Hiram was here... he invited me to study to be a Donor at Sat'htine instead of the regular Tecton school. But I didn't feel right about it.

Seruffin: What didn't feel right?

Bart: Well, he got my mother pissed off, for one thing. He was really talking down to her, not really listening to her at all.

Seruffin: He didn't see why you weren't in Donor training already?

Bart: That, too. But mostly he didn't see why she was unhappy that I was going in-T at all. He seemed to think she just cared about what the neighbors would think of her, not that she was worried about me, that she wanted the best for me.

Seruffin: I see.

Seruffin considers for a moment, choosing his words carefully.

Seruffin: Hiram is a rather old-fashioned Sectuib. He has been running Sat'htine since before Unity, and he doesn't travel much outside the House. I doubt he's been in Gen Territory more than a few times, before this. The Householdings didn't survive in a hostile junct society by neglecting talent among their young members. Any establishing Gen who showed any Donor talent at all would be in training before her establishment party was over.

Bart: I was kind of worried about being in a Householding, too. Not just that he'd be in charge and all, but, well, I want to send money home to my family, and if I was in a Householding, I don't think I'd be able to. I didn't want to ask him because he'd been saying things about how everybody was crazy for money out here.

Seruffin: In the Householdings, people don't own much personal property, beyond their clothing and a few books or trinkets. Everything else belongs to the House. The House, in turn, provides all necessities, and even some luxuries, when it prospers. Many Householders went years without handling money, before Unity.

Bart shrugs.

Bart: I guess it's like a family. But I have a family already, and I want to send money home once I start making some. I mean, just my donation payments have made a big difference, and I'll be taking that with me when I leave.

Seruffin: If Hiram invited you to study at Sat'htine, it was probably because he's recruiting Donors for his house. If you aren't interested, you can study at one of the Tecton schools. I believe Bibi has arranged a place for you at Teffrun.

Bart: Yes. She said that most out-T Gens go there. They're starting a new class next month.

Seruffin: The curriculum there wouldn't be quite as rigorous as Hiram is offering, and you wouldn't get as much exposure to some of the more exotic healing applications, but the teachers would be much more used to explaining things to students who didn't grow up with Simes.

Bart: I think I'm turning down a good opportunity, but I'm afraid I might be getting into something I don't want if I do take it. I just don't know enough about how things work in-T, or out-T for that matter.

Bart's trip with Marvin showed him that New Washington Territory is full of things he never encountered or even thought of before.

Seruffin: You'll have a great many adjustments to make, and you'll be learning a new language and customs on top of an already crowded curriculum.

Bart nods, trying not to project his ~~ worry ~~.

Seruffin: I would focus on learning the basics, and take the time to figure out what you want to do, before you worry about specialized training. Sat'htine teaches one specialty: healing. But you may decide that you want to work in an out-Territory Sime Center like this one, where healing opportunities are few and far between. Or you may choose to work in a large city Sime Center in-Territory, where your off duty time will stay off duty, and give you time to pursue a hobby. That sort of life is less lonely, and there would always be Firsts around to handle the emergencies.

Bart: I wanted to ask you, because you're not a Householder, but you're a First, and have an important job, so if you'd wanted to join a House you probably could have.

Seruffin chuckles.

Seruffin: I was something of an anomaly: a First Order channel from a junct family, just after Unity. They didn't know what to do with me. At that time, the Householdings were the Tecton. And none of them were very interested in taking on a hostile First Order channel. The Tecton has grown beyond its Householding beginnings, however, although they're still influential. If you're not interested in joining a Householding, it won't impede your career.

Seruffin thinks, much, although that's more true for Firsts than Seconds.

Bart: Okay, that's good to know. I guess if I'm good at being a Donor, some other House might invite me, or even Sat'htine again, if I want to be a specialist in healing. So I don't have to decide right now.

Seruffin: That's right.

Bart is ~~ relieved ~~, and sips his cooling trin.

Bart: Thank you, Hajene.

Seruffin: You're welcome, Bart. I hope your training goes well. The Tecton needs good Donors every bit as much as Sat'htine.

Seruffin uses the Simelan verb "need" quite deliberately.

Bart: I still feel like I need to be a Donor. More than ever.

Bart also uses the word "need" deliberately.

Seruffin: You'll be a good one, I think.

Bart: Marvin thinks I might make First.

Seruffin: It's too early to tell. If you do, it might not be for years.

Bart nods.

Seruffin: On the other hand, there are more Second Order channels than Firsts, and they must have Donors, too.

Bart: Well, if I make Second, maybe I'll have a chance to work with Mik some time.

Seruffin: You might. If you want to work out-Territory, you'll have more flexibility as a Second.

Bart: Right now I think I should come back out here, but I don't want to make any big decisions.

Bart pauses.

Bart: But I think, if there hadn't been that big snowstorm, Mik and Magit and Ukoh would all be dead, and I'd never have found out I have Donor talent, and my family would be in even worse shape financially. And look at all the kids Hajene Bibi has saved here.

Seruffin: Yes. Change seldom happens in the ways one thinks it will, but that doesn't excuse us from taking advantage of the opportunities that arise. Your plan to return to an out-Territory Center like this one is a good one, but don't feel you have to stick to it if you find something else that interests you more.

Bart nods again.

Bart: I have so much to learn. ~~ somewhat daunted, but still eager ~~

Seruffin: You do. But I'm confident that you'll do well. Your instincts are sound, and much of what you must learn is just refining those instincts.

Bart: I'm really looking forward to transfer.

Seruffin chuckles.

Seruffin: I hope it lives up to your expectations.

Seruffin has little doubt that it will: no Gen with such a hefty dose of Donor instinct is likely to find transfer distasteful without severe mistreatment, such as Gegg experienced.

Bart sets down his cold tea and crosses his arms. He's getting a bit cold. He semi-consciously edges a bit closer to Seruffin, and ~~ enjoys ~~ the feeling of nageric engagement.

Lorrie Brown stumbles through the gate of the Sime Center. It was stupid of her, to wrench an ankle like this in the dark. At least it happened close to the Sime Center, and help.

Seruffin withdraws just a little from the heavier support Bart is offering, and stiffens as he zlins a Gen coming in the front gate.

Lorrie pauses to close the gate carefully behind her, incidentally leaning on it to take the weight off her bad ankle for a moment.

Seruffin: Bart, there's an injured Gen in front.

Seruffin is already standing.

Bart gets up too and waits for instructions. ~~ attentive ~~

Seruffin: It doesn't zlin very serious from here, and Gerrhonot hasn't had any free time in far too long. Would you like to assist me with her?

Lorrie: Hullo? Hajene? Anybody home?

Bart: Sure!

Seruffin: I should be able to manage with simple support, a bit firmer than you were just doing. If it turns out to be more complicated, though, I'll send you for Gerrhonot. All right?

Lorrie reluctantly lets go of the gate's support and starts up the walk towards the building.

Seruffin is leading the way through the kitchen towards the front door.

Bart follows closely. ~~ agreement ~~ careful support ~~

Lorrie pauses at the foot of the steps, trying to figure out which foot to lead with. Either way, it will hurt.

Seruffin opens the front door.

Lorrie: Hajene! Sorry to bother you.

Seruffin: Hello. You're hurt. Can we help?

Lorrie: My own silly fault. Wasn't watching where I put my feet in the dark.

Seruffin: Accidents happen. Here, let me carry you. You don't want to put more weight on that ankle.

Lorrie: You must be Hajene Seruffin. I've heard good things about you. I'm Lorrie Brown.

Seruffin: Pleased to meet you.

Lorrie: And I last donated... let's see... almost three weeks ago.

Lorrie glances past Seruffin to his Donor.

Lorrie: Bart! I thought you'd left for Nivet already. ~~ surprise ~~

Bart: Not yet. Soon, though.

Lorrie: You must be excited about it.

Bart: Yes, I am.

Lorrie is just making conversation to keep her mind off the pain.

Lorrie: Where are you going to be studying?

Seruffin: Bart has already picked up quite a bit informally. Is it all right with you if he helps me heal your ankle?

Lorrie: Sure, Hajene.

Seruffin picks Lorrie up, careful not to bang her injured ankle on the railing, and carries her up the stairs.

Seruffin: Bart, could you get the door?

Bart holds the door wide open for him.

Seruffin neatly threads Lorrie's legs through the doorway, and carries her over to the couch.

Bart is impressed at the effortless Sime strength Seruffin is demonstrating.

Seruffin kneels down on the floor, and holds out his hands.

Seruffin: Let me see how bad that ankle is.

Bart stands close, glad that he doesn't have to block out anybody else's nager to help Seruffin focus. He doesn't know how to do that yet.

Seruffin: Bart, give me some support, just a little stronger than you were doing on the porch.

Bart focuses, and provides his best ~~ steady calm reliable support ~~ at the intensity he thinks Seruffin wants.

Seruffin would have signaled an experienced Donor for a support that would block the worst of the pain while leaving him clear to zlin the injury, but it will be months before Bart can manage that refinement.

Seruffin: A hair more... that's good.

Lorrie, unaware of the nageric byplay, relaxes under the channel's gentle and skillful touch.

Seruffin sets to work on the ankle, automatically carrying on a reassuring (if slightly absentminded) conversation with his patient.

Bart is happy that he can help like this, but doesn't let his personal feelings of gratification interfere with his constant, even ~~ support ~~. Or, at any rate, he hopes he doesn't.

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