Mik decides the hell with it. He puts down his pen, closes the books, and sets out for a walk on the grounds, no matter how behind he is.
Mik approaches the side door and temporary freedom, sees Nenuphar coming toward the same door from a different direction, and ~~ cringes ~~ as faintly as he can.
Nenuphar: Hi, Mik, heading out for a stroll? ~~ confident ~~ relaxed ~~
Mik: Yeah. I need to see some plants right about now.
Nenuphar: Good idea. Nice day, take advantage of the sunshine.
Mik tries to contain his ~~ disappointment ~~, as his standards of courtesy won't let him just say "Nope, gotta be alone".
Nenuphar: I was heading off to the trail through the woodlot... get a little exercise, enjoy the day...
Mik finds this idea appealing, Nenuphar or no Nenuphar.
Mik: Okay, let's.
Nenuphar's phrasing was intended to let Mik decline, as he zlinned to want to, but it doesn't seem to have worked that way. Being able to zlin is making the whole courtesy thing confusing. Oh, well.
Mik holds the door open for Nenuphar, since he's closer to it.
Nenuphar glides out with Sime speed and grace.
Mik follows with just a hair less Simeness to his stride, probably because of his mood.
Nenuphar turns a series of cartwheels on the stone path.
Nenuphar: I love that. I could never have done that kind of thing if I hadn't changed over. I was really clumsy as a kid. ~~ cheerful ~~ happy ~~
Mik tries a handspring, but a stone slips out from under him and he recovers rather badly, though he's not actually injured.
Mik: ~~ rueful ~~ Being Sime doesn't make the rest of the world hold still, unfortunately.
Mik isn't as down as he would be in the absence of Nenuphar's field.
Nenuphar: It does take getting used to, all right.
Mik: ~~ stung ~~ What are you, two weeks older than I am?
Nenuphar: Something like that. I'm not saying I'm used to it.
Nenuphar: ~~ confidentially ~~ I've been practicing the cartwheels a lot.
Mik decides to change the subject anyway.
Mik: So how did it feel to be the only person from out-T in the place? Unless there's another arrival, I'll probably wind up being the one and only eventually.
Nenuphar: I think they usually get a half dozen or so through here every year, so there should be some others. There are three older channels here from out-T, but they're mostly working in town now. They'll be graduating soon. Truth to tell, I was so overwhelmed my first month or so, I wasn't up to doing much socializing.
Nenuphar shakes his head.
Nenuphar: There's so much more for people like us to get used to, on top of getting used to being Sime, a channel and a heavily pressured student.
Mik: My first month was pretty hairy too. Also my second month and the current part of my third month. And I can't say I'm looking forward to my fourth transfer either. ~~ gloom ~~
Nenuphar is ~~ up ~~ because he's only a week past transfer, plus his optimistic and confident nature. But he figures he should be helpful to Mik, since the poor Sime is heading into need, and he is being trained to look after people.
Nenuphar: ~~ sympathy ~~ Need's the pits, eh? But what's the problem? Don't you like the Donor they assigned you?
Mik: Have you forgotten already how horrible the anti-kill conditioning transfers are? My head's been stuffed full of wool for six solid weeks.
Nenuphar: Yeah. They were awful. But that's just once in a lifetime. From here on, it's pure bliss.
Mik shakes his head.
Mik: So they tell me. But as for Tropaeola, she's fine. And rather sweet, too.
Nenuphar experimentally offers Mik some ~~ support ~~.
Mik doesn't seem to notice.
Nenuphar makes the appropriate hand gesture, surprised that Mik is ignoring his nageric invitation.
Mik: It's just that, well, you remember when Hajene Truzdel was talking about "culture shock" in the anthro class?
Mik: I've got it, [English] doubled and in spades. I don't know how you fit in so well here, being from out-T and all.
Nenuphar: Well, my parents both donate, and I used to go to the Sime Center all the time to get checked out, when they went in. Then when I started feeling like I was gonna change over, the Sime Center people started teaching me Simelan and stuff, and when I was sure I was gonna change over before fall, they sent me in-T. I stayed with my mom's sister. She's a renSime. So I had a real head start, I guess.
Mik: Well, I had to stay home until changeover because of, well, because of the farm work. Also I never did get a premonition of time I could trust.
Nenuphar nods. ~~ sympathy ~~
Mik: It was a long time before I was really sure I was having premonitions of changeover at all and not just, umm, fantasies. That's not really the word, though. I don't know any of my Sime relatives. Or even if I have any.
Nenuphar nods again.
Mik: And my dad's a tw --
Mik breaks off. ~~ shame disgust ~~
Nenuphar: ~~ curiosity ~~ sympathy ~~
Mik: [mumbles] Nem'mind.
Nenuphar offers ~~ support ~~ again, this time rather more obviously.
Mik ~~ accepts ~~ it this time, ~~ gratefully ~~.
Nenuphar carefully adjusts the field engagement, and colors it with more ~~ sympathy ~~ and ~~ encouragement ~~.
Mik: He woulda been a Donor, except for what happened to him.
Nenuphar adds ~~ inquiry ~~, instead of crudely asking "What?".
Mik: ~~ shame ~~
Nenuphar: ~~ comfort ~~
Mik: He was attacked by juncts, years ago. It made him a --- a twisted Donor.
Mik doesn't really understand the term, but he thinks anyone who zlins as fearful -- and as strong -- as his father did, the last time they were together, has to be one.
Nenuphar: He doesn't work as a Donor does he? I mean, you come from a village out-T, don't you?
Mik: Well no. I mean yes.
Nenuphar doesn't know what a twisted Donor is, either, but it sounds scary.
Mik: He couldn't work as a Donor with all the fear and loathing he has. But the closer he gets to a Sime, the worse it gets.
Nenuphar: You zlinned him?
Mik and Nenuphar are on the trail now.
Mik: Yes. During stage five, when Hajene Bibi said it was still safe. Of course I didn't know what it all meant then.
Nenuphar thinks about it.
Nenuphar: He probably doesn't actually hate you, Mik. It's just a sort of reflex for him around Simes, right?
Mik sighs and nods slowly.
Nenuphar: Like if he hated you, he would have stayed away.
Nenuphar is too tactful to add "or shot you".
Mik: I know, I could zlin that part too. But it's difficult to think past the evidence of your own senses.
Nenuphar: Zlinning is confusing at first, all right. Like my Donor was even shorter than I am, but when I went into breakout and reached for her it seemed like she was as tall as the ceiling, and huge.
Mik: ~~ feeling a little better ~~ I didn't think too much of my Donor when I met him before, but he gave me a perfect transfer. Of course I'm not likely to see him again, either.
Mik sighs again.
Nenuphar: Look, I had a great First Transfer, too. They say there's never anything like the first one. But the one I just had, with Sosu Lorpen, it was really terrific. I wasn't halfway into attrition like in changeover, and I knew what was going to happen, and I knew I couldn't hurt him, so it was just pure bliss. And I could zlin how much he was enjoying it, too.
Nenuphar shares some of his ~~ remembered joy ~~ with Mik.
Mik zlins Nenuphar so he can feel the older channel's emotions.
Mik: Wow. You almost make me forget the wool.
Nenuphar jumps for joy, grabs an overhanging tree limb and does a one-armed chin-up.
Nenuphar: It was great, Mik. And we're in for a lifetime of that. And we get to share it with the renSimes, when we serve them, and zlin their pleasure, too.
Mik does what Nenuphar did and bumps noses with him, due to the excessively perfect symmetry.
Nenuphar laughs and drops to the ground. ~~ happiness ~~ play ~~
Mik hangs on until he zlins the branch starting to crack, and jumps down too. ~~ happiness ~~
Nenuphar: Look, you want to try something? One of the older students showed me this.
Mik's eyebrows elevate.
Nenuphar: Well, we entwine tentacles, like a transfer grip, right?
Nenuphar offers his hands.
Mik takes them ~~ uncertain ~~.
Nenuphar: We'll entwine laterals, and I'll imagine really vividly like I was taking transfer from him.
Nenuphar offers to entwine handling tentacles with Mik.
Mik: O-kay, if you're sure.
Mik entwines handling tentacles, and tries to force his laterals to extend.
Nenuphar: ~~ confidence ~~ happiness ~~ eagerness to share something good ~~
Mik: My laterals ... won't. Sorry. ~~ embarrassment mixed with curiosity ~~
Nenuphar: Just pretend I'm Hajene Zerrek, teaching you to serve a renSime in transfer.
Mik: I'm not in Zerrek's class yet, remember?
Nenuphar: Hm. Well, okay. We can try it without the laterals, or maybe I can just put mine on your lateral sheaths.
Nenuphar tightens the grip of his handling tentacles and extends his laterals carefully.
Nenuphar: Okay, just zlin me.
Nenuphar concentrates and uses his showfield to project increasing ~~ intil ~~
Mik's laterals have shrunk back in their sheaths at Nenuphar's Sime projection.
Mik: Maybe you should -- project Genness?
Nenuphar drops the intil.
Nenuphar: Uh, yeah. Maybe I should pretend like you're a renSime and I'm serving you in transfer.
Nenuphar: Okay, I'll be Sosu Lorpen. Zlin this.
Mik zlins Nenuphar's steadily brightening showfield.
Nenuphar thinks about Lorpen's ~~ rich full replete ~~ nager, and the ~~ welcoming ~~ character it projects.
Mik: Ohhh yeahhhh.....
Nenuphar projects a simulation of Lorpen's smooth exponential increase in need-to-give, and engages Mik's field more deeply.
Nenuphar: Great, eh? He's really like that. Well, better. I can't do it the way he can.
Nenuphar smiles ~~ happily ~~.
Nenuphar: So I'm just melting with intil, and I've got this wonderful Gen in my tentacles, and he offers a fifth contact, and I start to draw....
Nenuphar sighs with ~~ remembered pleasure ~~.
Mik raises ~~ all-too-genuine intil ~~ as the Pure-Gen feeling of Nenuphar envelops him.
Nenuphar: And his slilbliss! Mik, it's terrific... the faster and deeper I draw, the more his slilbliss increases...
Nenuphar simulates the exponential rise of slilbliss, as he remembers it. He's too absorbed in memory and projection to realize what's happening to Mik.
Nenuphar: And the wonderful thing is, it's me doing it! It's me giving him that slilbliss! And he's sharing it back with me! And now I can share it with other Simes! ~~ joy ~~
Mik, helpless with ~~ full-blast intil ~~, reaches ~~ desperately ~~ for Nenuphar's lips. He doesn't think he can hold out more than another two seconds....
Nenuphar suddenly realizes that his enthusiasm has greatly exceeded his technical expertise and quickly withdraws his laterals. He meets Mik's lips for lack of any better idea, but offers ~~ shared joy ~~ instead of selyn.
Mik finds himself reeling with ~~ shenshay ~~, and would be on the ground if his tentacles weren't still intertwined.
Nenuphar carefully conceals his ~~ alarm ~~ under his showfield, and projects increasing ~~ calm ~~ and ~~ languor after transfer ~~ while smoothly fading the ~~ ecstatic joy ~~.
Mik sighs a third time, much louder this time, as the transfer abort backlash fades.
Nenuphar has pretty good instinct for this work. He holds onto Mik, and projects ~~ comfort ~~ safety ~~ kindness ~~, but he's almost in tears. ~~ partly concealed guilt ~~
Nenuphar: Shidoni, Mik. I wanted to share it with you, not hurt you!
Mik tries to project ~~ comfort ~~ too, even though he's almost in tears as well.
Mik: Shhh, shh, it wasn't your fault. We just didn't know better.
Nenuphar: I guess I don't know my own strength.
Nenuphar's ~~ contrition ~~ and ~~ chagrin ~~ leak through his showfield.
Nenuphar: Here, let's sit down.
Nenuphar releases Mik's arms and draws him down to sit next to him.
Mik wraps his arms around Nenuphar to bury himself in Nenuphar's showfield.
Nenuphar hugs him back, invites him to engage his field as deeply as he likes, and does his best ~~ support ~~ comfort ~~ safety ~~ kindness ~~ and ~~ sincere desire to help ~~.
Mik: ~~ comforted comforting ~~
Nenuphar presses his cheek against Mik's and strokes his hair.
Nenuphar: I'm sorry. ~~ sincere ~~
Mik: Don't be. ~~ sincere ~~
Mik: When we both learn more, I -- I want to do this with you again. Like next month?
Nenuphar: Sure. I'm two weeks ahead of you, so when I'm up you're down, and vice versa. We can help each other.
Mik: Yeah, we can.
Nenuphar: Good thing we're Simes, now, in-T. Can you imagine hugging and crying like this back home?
Mik: [English] No way, man!
Nenuphar: [English] Yeah! Right on!
Nenuphar hugs Mik again.
Nenuphar: I love being a channel. It's great. ~~ deep happiness ~~
Mik is ~~ happy ~~ for his new friend's happiness, but for himself he isn't so sure.