Shorsh and D'zoll move the furniture back into place after D'zoll's rather active session with his last patient.
D'zoll: I understand that Tuib Kregson is a dancer, but I do wish he'd learn to express his deepest emotions in words! And I do appreciate your help with this mess. It wouldn't be very professional to leave it this way overnight.
Shorsh: Be glad he can express them at all, D'zoll.
D'zoll smiles at Shorsh.
D'zoll: Of course.
D'zoll: At least he doesn't just sit there, like Hajene Stotton has for the last five sessions. I swear I'd dance on my desk if I thought it would get a rise out of her.
Shorsh: What do you zlin from her?
D'zoll: Not much, and I don't know if I can trust it. She is a First, after all. I just have to wait until she can trust me a little more. "Sometimes the heart cherishes secrets not worth the telling."
D'zoll grins wickedly.
Shorsh puts the wastebasket back under the desk and steers D'zoll to the sofa.
Shorsh: All done. Here, have a seat.
D'zoll flops down on the sofa.
Shorsh sits beside the channel, takes two apples out of his bag and puts one in D'zoll's hand.
D'zoll looks at the apple like it's a, well, horse-apple.
Shorsh: ~~ appetite ~~ crisp, juicy, delicious ~~
D'zoll's eyes narrow.
D'zoll: Now I may not be an expert on fruit, but I know a macintrash when I see one. It's mealy, and you know I hate mealy.
Shorsh: This one is fresh picked. Nice and crisp.
Shorsh crunches into his apple and juice spurts onto his lips. ~~ yum!! ~~
D'zoll: All right, all right, you Pen driver.
D'zoll takes a bite. Of course it's delicious.
Shorsh: So how are you doing with Nick lately?
D'zoll sighs and wonders where to begin.
Shorsh offers some ~~ light support ~~ and ~~ encouragement ~~ to the needy channel.
D'zoll: Most of the time he's a blessing straight from the Big Tuib in the sky, and then he's completely inscrutable, or falling over his own feet. Whenever there's an emergency, he's right there and does what's needed right then, but he doesn't seem to have a lot of tolerance for slow, boring work.
D'zoll: Well, I can zlin him, of course; but I can't understand him. If he were a patient, he'd be a fascinating one. As you know, Simes are too prone to believe that what they zlin they understand; it's a tendency I have to fight off in myself as well.
Shorsh: How do you feel about your upcoming transfer?
Shorsh ~~ offers ~~ more support in case D'zoll needs it for that thought.
D'zoll: I'm hoping to be able to satisfy him. If he were my patient, I'd turn him over to a channel therapist. Probably.
Shorsh is ~~ surprised ~~.
Shorsh: What sort of problems do you foresee?
D'zoll: I don't, really. I'm sure he'll give me a perfectly good transfer. But Shorsh, he has no experience with enjoying transfer, as far as I can tell.
D'zoll: At least that's the way he zlins when he's unguarded. All business, all the way down. I've seen Donor patients very like that before.
Shorsh: He and I had a little chat. He wanted to know how to serve you, what you liked.
D'zoll: It figures. I think he's worried I'll toss him in a corner, figuratively, if he isn't one hundred percent perfect.
Shorsh: His self-confidence is pretty poor these days. I think he's been so used to unreasonable demands from those two Audneses that he interprets lack of such demands as rejection, not entirely consciously.
D'zoll nods slowly.
D'zoll: Very sound thinking.
Shorsh: He is quite worried that he doesn't know how to serve a normal transfer. He didn't find what I told him about you -- that you're basically problem free and a pleasure to share transfer with -- at all encouraging.
Shorsh sighs again.
Shorsh: He told me he has no idea what he likes in transfer himself. It's as if every transfer he's given has been a therapeutic one for the channel's benefit.
D'zoll sucks air through his teeth, and takes a moment to unclench them.
D'zoll: Which is exactly why he needs a therapeutic transfer himself. But professionalism be shenned -- I want him.
Shorsh offers some ~~ comfort ~~. He hopes he's not stressing D'zoll too much with this.
Shorsh: Do you think there's any way you can develop enough rapport with him to give him one yourself?
D'zoll: No, frankly. And it's not a matter of rapport. Therapeutic transfers for Gens are like the ones for Simes: the therapist keeps his emotions out of it. And I'm already emotionally involved with Nick.
Shorsh: Well, like you say, he'll do well for you, and he'll be here for some time, so it's not like everything has to be resolved right away.
Shorsh strokes D'zoll's forearm.
D'zoll lets himself luxuriate on Shorsh's Sat'htine-standard field for a bit.
Shorsh moves closer and puts an arm around his shoulders. ~~ affection ~~ support ~~ comfort ~~
Shorsh cranks the ~~ comfort ~~ up a notch.
Shorsh: You know how you tend to talk a lot while you're waiting for transfer? Be careful what you say. Remember that Nick is likely to take things the wrong way -- as distrust, or rejection.
Shorsh pats D'zoll's shoulder.
Shorsh: I can tell you to shut up, but he can't.
Shorsh: It won't be easy, but just try to be a little careful.
D'zoll: I'll try. I just ... Oh well. At least I won't see him as a "case", so you needn't tweak me about that. After Gegg, I think I'm cured.
D'zoll tries to smile.
Shorsh offers the ~~ intimacy ~~ that a Householding channel can expect from his Companion, but a Tecton channel doesn't expect from a Tecton Donor.
Shorsh: It will work out. Nick's good, but he's not comfortable with us yet. We have time.
D'zoll: Of course. Perhaps I've just been spoiled by so many good transfers from naztehrhai.
D'zoll grins again, in a mercurial shift of mood.
Shorsh projects ~~ comradely affection ~~ for a channel he's known all his life.
Lusinka hears an intriguing snippet as she pauses by the open office door with an armload of files.
Lusinka: If you feel you've been spoiled by your Naztehrhai, D'zoll, these files might disabuse you of that. Hiram wants your opinion on how many of these cases you can add to your workload.
Lusinka walks over and deposits the files on D'zoll's desk with a distinct thump.
Shorsh: Such a loud thump, Lusinka. Can't you see the poor man is in need? ~~ humor ~~
Lusinka: Well, it can wait a week, I suppose, but not much more than that.
Lusinka looks at D'zoll, judging his condition with the experience of decades.
Shorsh ostentatiously cuddles him closer with a flash of ~~ ludicrously exaggerated protectiveness ~~.
Lusinka: I couldn't help overhearing that last remark, D'zoll. Do you anticipate that a transfer with Nick Reckage will be less than optimal?
D'zoll: Only for him. But in good conscience I can't say that any transfer will be optimal now -- for him.
Lusinka raises an eyebrow.
D'zoll: But do sit down, Sosu Lusinka.
D'zoll points to the client chair.
Lusinka: What's the problem?
Lusinka sits, adjusting her nager to reinforce Shorsh's efforts without clashing.
D'zoll: Nick -- and please remember that what I'm telling you is both confidential and tentative --
Shorsh wonders if that will keep Lusinka from reporting it to Hiram immediately.
Lusinka nods agreement that she won't reveal the specifics, although she reserves the right to make recommendations based on it.
D'zoll: Nick has probably never had a transfer that wasn't a therapeutic transfer for the channel, never had any intimacy, and has no confidence that he won't be viciously abused for anything less than rigid perfection. Of course he'll give me a perfect transfer. But I want my partners to be satisfied, too.
Lusinka is ~~ shocked ~~ at this analysis.
Lusinka: I knew the Snake River Dam situation was bad, but I thought the rumors of Arat Audnes actually abusing his Donors were spurious.
Lusinka is well aware that to many Donors unused to working with Farris channels, Farris channels are unreasonably demanding, and Arat Audnes had a history of not getting Farris-trained Donors.
D'zoll: I can't say. But the threat of abuse can even be more fiendish than abuse itself, you know. Especially if you have every reason to think the abuser is unstable enough to go through with it.
Shorsh: Arat's daughter, Nick's other channel, was far worse than her father, as I understand it.
Lusinka: Has he told you much about what he was asked to provide for them?
D'zoll: Not at all. I'm basing this on what I zlin and what I've learned from other patients with similar, though less severe, problems.
D'zoll won't tell some things even under a promise of confidentiality.
Shorsh: He's been badly burned at least once.
D'zoll: Yes; that's plain enough to any First who works with him for a bit. I'm sure Sectuib knows.
D'zoll refrains from saying "knows that much".
Lusinka: Has he told you anything about the circumstances? Was it a punishment for perceived misbehavior, for instance?
D'zoll spreads his hands and tentacles, indicating ignorance.
Shorsh: There's nothing in his records about a burn.
Shorsh leaves the implication open about why it wasn't recorded. If it had been the kind of accident that happens to many Donors eventually, it would have been reported in detail.
D'zoll: His records are spotty, and it's well-healed. Still, there's no mistaking it.
Lusinka: There's not much in his records at all, until he appeared in Arat Audnes's office. And there's another blank later on, several months long, when he was apparently traveling with the Sectuib in Naros.
Shorsh: And who knows what the Audneses didn't report, when they were all out in the mountains, with Arat as Controller?
Lusinka gives a wry chuckle.
Lusinka: That's right, you didn't ever have to work with Arat, did you? I'll give him this much, though: he may be a thoroughly unpleasant individual, but he's maniacal about his paperwork. If something happened that ought to be reported, it's probably in the records. Unless it was criminal, of course.
Shorsh: You say it yourself, Lusinka. What he was trying to do up there is a matter of public record, and hardly legal. As for what his daughter was doing, well, criminal pretty well describes her entire adult life.
Lusinka: Yes, but Nick doesn't appear to have been part of their criminal efforts, except peripherally. Or at least, that was the judgment of the commission that investigated the affair. So I'm hopeful that the records are at least somewhat accurate, with regards to Nick.
Shorsh: Oh, I agree. But people who'd do things like that can't be expected to be considerate of someone they have in their power, like Nick, if they don't have to. Much the contrary.
Lusinka: How much damage has that done? And what will it take to repair it?
D'zoll has been watching the conversational ball batted back and forth between the two Donors, but a direct question needs a direct answer.
D'zoll: I have to recuse myself from making a professional judgment on this one, Lusinka. Speaking as a human being and a Sime, though, I think a good transfer, the best I can give him, will be the best thing for him. "The only way to overcome a bad experience is with a good experience."
Lusinka: Will he let you give him one?
D'zoll: I don't know, Lusinka. I can only try.
Lusinka: What's your plan for approaching the issue?
D'zoll: Talk with him. He's not a patient, and it's important for everyone to remember that. If he wanted to become a patient after our transfer, of course I'd have to send him to another therapist. But that's up to him.
Lusinka: I was hoping to avoid formal therapy, or formal retraining, if it's practical.
Shorsh: Right. It will look bad on his Tecton records. ~~ disgust, toned down to tolerable levels for D'zoll's sake ~~
Lusinka: And cost Sat'htine a lot of time and effort, which may not prove to be necessary.
D'zoll: I don't think any of this will affect his value as a Donor. Just as he is, if there weren't so much prejudice against a Donor with his history, he'd have channels fighting over him. It's his self-esteem and his personal welfare that concern me now. You can't train people to enjoy life.
Lusinka: I gather Nick has been functioning well, then?
D'zoll: Apart from the gaps in his knowledge and training, which he fills in with remarkable rapidity? Yes, certainly.
Lusinka: You implied that he doesn't know how to enjoy life, or at least, life as a Donor. Does that mean his commitment to being a Donor has been shaken by what he's gone through?
D'zoll: From what I learned in the orchard, his commitment to being a Donor has always been a matter of conscious choice for him. After all, he made the choice to walk away from it right at the beginning.
D'zoll spots the error in Lusinka's statement.
D'zoll: And by the way, I said he doesn't know how to enjoy transfer. There are plenty of aspects of Nick's life he plainly enjoys very much.
Lusinka: Such as?
Lusinka wonders if these enjoyments are more likely to sustain Nick's vocation as a Donor while he perfects it, or seduce him away from it.
D'zoll: Pruning our fruit trees. From what I understand, we can expect even better fruit next year than this year. --Got another of those apples, Shorsh?
Shorsh rolls his eyes and hands D'zoll the half-eaten apple the channel had set aside.
Shorsh: Physical activity, especially outdoors. Natural beauty, and our gardens and landscaping. He seems to enjoy the amenities here too -- comfortable quarters, hot running water, good food.
Shorsh appreciates them even more himself after his sojourn with Petunia.
Lusinka: I'm sure he does; from what I've heard, conditions at the Snake River Dam were deplorable.
Shorsh: What's your point, Lusinka? He's been here only a few weeks. We don't know everything about him. We know he's had a bad time. He's doing good work and trying to remedy his deficiencies.
Lusinka: My concern is that his commitment might have been to aiding two particular channels, rather than to being a Donor.
Lusinka: You pointed out that he's already walked out on being a Tecton Donor once. The adjustments he's going to have to make won't be painless. Is he going to give up, and go start a career where he can be outdoors?
Shorsh is starting to get ~~ annoyed ~~.
D'zoll is getting more annoyed by this than even need will explain.
Shorsh: If that's the best thing for him, better he find out now than later.
D'zoll: Whatever has the Tecton done for him but neglect him? No, we haven't abused him directly. We've just let him rot in the hope that he'll be Someone Else's Problem. The buck stops here, Lusinka.
Lusinka raises an eyebrow, but she doesn't zlin at all displeased.
Lusinka: I certainly hope so: Sat'htine could certainly use a Gen with Nick's talents, and that he's unrelated to anyone here and unwanted by the Tecton is an added bonus.
D'zoll: [English] You bet your ass.
Lusinka: He's managed to win both of you as advocates, which speaks well for him. I trust you'll forgive me, though, if I have to consider the possible difficulties as well as the possibilities.
D'zoll nods, rather embarrassed at his outburst.
Shorsh: Give it time, Lusinka. The Tecton is paying his salary and we're getting his work. What have you got to complain about? You don't fix up years of trauma in a few weeks. You can't even fully evaluate the situation in that time frame.
Lusinka smiles ~~ wryly ~~.
Lusinka: Well, I'm inclined to agree with you on that one, although Arinna appears to have a very different opinion. Did she have some personal conflict with Nick?
D'zoll sighs, twice.
D'zoll: That was a combination of professional jealousy and my own misplaced sense of humor, I'm afraid.
Lusinka: I see. Arinna's always been a bit prickly. Did Nick make her feel inadequate deliberately?
D'zoll: Not at all. I jokingly handed her a letter opener and told her to "take care of" Nick if he did something wrong. Of course I didn't know at the time that that would exacerbate his insecurities. To even up, I gave Nick a penknife, and Arinna got upset that he got the sharp implement and she didn't. Not that it's very sharp.
Shorsh shakes his head in ~~ disgust ~~ at this childish behavior.
D'zoll: Shorsh, I'm not sure who you're disgusted at; if it's me, I admit I deserve it.
Shorsh: No, not you.
Shorsh has a sense of humor, and appreciates D'zoll's.
Lusinka: You said that this joke of yours upset Nick? Did he say why?
D'zoll: No, I didn't say that. I said that being put in a position where he was to be punished, even symbolically with a letter opener, if he made a mistake -- in the judgment of a Tecton Donor he had no reason to trust -- couldn't have been helpful to him. He showed no outward signs of upset at all, which is consistent with what's happened to him.
Lusinka: So we're going to have to be very careful how to discipline him, should that become necessary?
Lusinka makes a mental note; she is in charge of keeping the Companions in line, as Hiram disciplines the channels. She's a firm believer in tailoring discipline to the individual, but most of the time, she's aided by having known the erring Companion since birth.
D'zoll: Yes. I do advise you to discuss it with another mind-healer -- not me -- before taking any such action, in the very unlikely event that it's needed.
Lusinka nods thoughtfully.
Lusinka: Does he handle simple corrections well, or should I warn any other channels he works with?
D'zoll: He handles them with every bit of the positive attitude any channel could possibly want.
Lusinka: Well, then, we won't borrow trouble. Let's try to give the man the best transfer possible, and see if he settles down when he learns he's not going to be slapped down every time he tries to assert himself.
Lusinka looks from D'zoll to Shorsh, to see if they have any additions to make to her summation.
D'zoll: I'm certainly going to do my part in that.
Shorsh: It'll work out, Lusinka. Nick's a good man, with considerable talent. He just needs a chance to recover.
Lusinka: Good. If Hiram and I can assist -- say, by giving you time off from your normal duties to work with Nick before your transfer -- let me know. Otherwise, do your best.
Lusinka gets up, but pauses halfway to the door.
Lusinka: As long as you don't forget to go through those files afterwards. They're important, too.
Lusinka leaves the matter of Nick in D'zoll's capable tentacles, and goes off to settle a conflict over scheduling in geriatrics.
D'zoll: [mutters] Files, my Aunt Fanny's fanny.
Shorsh absently caresses D'zoll's neck with the hand of the arm he still has around the channel's shoulders.
Shorsh: "Let's try to give the man the best transfer possible", the three of us, eh, D'zoll? ~~ irony ~~ humor ~~
Shorsh laughs. ~~ affection ~~