Healing Old Wounds, Finding New Hope: Episode 3

Seruffin makes his way down the familiar path to the Hannard's Ford Sime Center, leaving Gerrhonot temporarily behind in his ~~ eagerness ~~ to see Bibi. He has some special news to share, and ~~ hopes ~~ she will find it as exciting as he does.

Bibi opens the door, smiling with dimples, very ~~ glad ~~ to see Seruffin again.

Seruffin: Bibi! It's good to see you again. ~~ affection ~~

Bibi: Indeed! ~~ affection ~~ welcome ~~ happiness ~~

Seruffin takes Bibi's hands, although he's not able to entwine tentacles because he was in too much of a hurry to have Gerrhonot help him off with his retainers as soon as they crossed the property line.

Gerrhonot watches the two meet and is ~~ charmed ~~ and very ~~ happy ~~ for his channel.

Seruffin would blush, but he's been Sime for a long time.

Bibi: Come in, come in. I'll make some fresh trin and there's plenty for Gerrhonot to eat.

Seruffin: Thank you. Gerrhonot has been very patient with me, but it's a long ride from New Washington.

Seruffin manages to let go of Bibi's hands long enough for Gerrhonot to help him off with his cumbersome retainers.

Gerrhonot follows the two channels into the common room.

Bibi brings a tray of goodies, a pot of trin and cups from the kitchen. She sits next to Seruffin on the sofa, with the tray on a table between the sofa and the facing armchair into which Gerrhonot has settled.

Seruffin sees to the provisioning of his Gen before taking a glass of trin for himself.

Gerrhonot ~~ enjoys ~~ the ~~ delicious ~~ food and trin, ~~ encouraging ~~ his channel to do the same, and continuing to feel ~~ happy ~~ at Seruffin's apparent happiness.

Seruffin: So, Bibi, how have you been? Not too much excitement, I hope?

Seruffin shifts his teacup to one hand, the better to use the other to hold Bibi's.

Bibi: Hm, nothing we couldn't handle, just twin channels changing over unexpectedly, one on the train and one right here. ~~ twinkle ~~

Bibi strokes Seruffin's hand with a tentacle, and sips some trin.

Seruffin: Twin channels? How did you contrive to handle that?

Bibi: Well, Marvin was on the train heading this way from New Washington with Bart and a TN-1 named Ammenia, and he zlinned a child going into changeover in one of the passenger cars. He sent Bart up to talk the kid into coming back where they could look after him, and it turned out he was traveling with his identical twin. Marvin had Ammenia serve him, and he turned out to be a Third.

Seruffin thinks through the implications with the experience of too many years dealing with bad situations.

Bibi: The whole lot of them came here, and a TN-3 practically dropped out of the sky on us, and he served the other twin a couple of days later. So everything worked out amazingly well, considering.

Seruffin: A TN-3 dropped out of the sky? Now I'm ~~ curious ~~.

Bibi smiles.

Bibi: Well, off the train. An ambrov Teiu, a former Church of Unity out-T missionary, who was traveling through collecting local vegetable varieties for his Householding's seed company. So both twins had good First Transfers from Gens, although the TN-3 couldn't open the secondary system like Ammenia did for the other boy, of course.

Seruffin shakes his head.

Seruffin: I hate to think that you have to depend on that kind of luck, although I'm glad that it worked out.

Bibi: Well, we'd decided that Ammenia would serve the second boy, before the other Donor showed up, although it might have had an unfortunate effect on the boys' relationship. She wouldn't have been able to give Marvin a full transfer anyway, after letting the first boy draw into his secondary.

Seruffin: True enough.

Bibi: The alternatives were me or Dolmada, and it would have been a bit close for her at that point in our cycle.

Seruffin: It may be selfish of me, but I'm glad that you weren't left without a Donor, again.

Seruffin remembers all too well what happened the last time Bibi gave up her Donor.

Bibi: Yes, I would have been really reluctant to give up Dolmada, even at that point, with two weeks to go. I'm not ready to be completely objective about it yet. ~~ shiver ~~

Bibi moves a little closer to Seruffin's rich, lush First Order nager.

Seruffin offers ~~ comfort, compassion, and lots of selyn ~~

Bibi sighs with ~~ pleasure ~~ and squeezes his hand lightly.

Gerrhonot smiles, offering ~~ comfort ~~ and displaying his ~~ happiness ~~ for the two channels.

Seruffin: Bibi, I've got a message for you... and an invitation.

Bibi: ~~ inquiry ~~

Seruffin: Your Controller has worked out an exchange with the New Washington Center, but there's some slack in the schedule.

Bibi is ~~ surprised ~~.

Seruffin: As a result, there will be a channel with ten days to make it from the border to New Washington. If you wish, Hajene Sutter can spend a week here at Hannard's Ford, and you can come spend a few days with me. It would have to be in New Washington -- there are developments there that make it essential that I not be gone too long -- but it would be a change of scene, at least.

Seruffin allows himself to ~~ hope ~~ that Bibi will accept the invitation, but carefully refrains from doing so strongly enough to overwhelm Bibi, if she isn't interested.

Bibi is more open to the idea of another channel taking over the Center in her absence, since things worked out with Hajene Darrel last summer, but the idea of having a few days completely free is something of a new concept, and spending them with Seruffin would be delightful.

Seruffin's lips curve in a smile as he zlins Bibi's reaction.

Bibi: Do you know this Hajene Sutter? Does he have experience with out-T Gens?

Seruffin: I've met Sutter several times. He's done a fair amount of Escort work -- in fact, that's why he's being sent to New Washington. Most of his work has been with the Diplomatic Corps. Of course, diplomatic work is a bit different than running an out-Territory Sime Center like this, but I don't think he'd offend any of your clients accidentally.

Bibi: It could be an enlightening experience for both sides. When is this to take place? If Cristal is back by then, he can help Sutter see how we do things here.

Bibi ~~ hopes ~~ it will be right after Cristal returns, i.e. when she and Seruffin will both be pre-turnover.

Seruffin: It won't be until next month. There will be time for you to notify your clients, so they aren't taken by surprise.

Bibi nods.

Gerrhonot: I think I'll go out for a walk, stretch my legs after the train trip.

Gerrhonot wants to leave his channel some privacy to further enjoy Bibi's company, too, and leaves when Seruffin signals his consent.

Seruffin: I have the official details for you, but that can wait until later.

Bibi: Okay.

Seruffin is ~~ happy ~~ that Bibi seems to be looking forward to the opportunity to spend some time together as much as he does.

Bibi uses Gerrhonot's departure as an excuse to edge closer to Seruffin. ~~ attraction ~~ affection ~~ anticipation ~~

Bibi: So what have you been up to in New Washington?

Seruffin settles back with his tea, enjoying Bibi's closeness, although he's human enough to wish that they weren't both post-turnover.

Seruffin: Well, I did have a bit more excitement than I'd planned, recently. Did the Hannard's Ford newspaper happen to cover the scandal regarding Senator Pollovic?

Bibi laughs.

Bibi: No, the biggest news here is the fall livestock show and fair. If people want news of the bigger world, they take a New Washington paper. Nattin sometimes picks one up, but he hasn't for the past week or so.

Seruffin: Well, it was quite a fiasco. Or maybe not; it remains to be seen where the public's final judgment will fall.

Bibi: What happened?

Seruffin: Senator Pollovic represents a border district -- the treaty I was negotiating this summer covers part of his territory. He's relatively young, enthusiastic, idealistic, and running for re-election soon. All of which I should have considered before I offered him a dare. ~~ rueful ~~

Bibi strokes Seruffin's hand with a tentacle. ~~ curious ~~ consoling ~~

Seruffin: We met at one of those social events of which New Washington politicians are so fond. We ended up discussing the economics of selyn, and I made the point that the Tecton still depends on selyn from New Washington Territory to support our renSimes.

Bibi nods, still ~~ curious ~~ about where this is going.

Seruffin: Pollovic saw a chance to make a statement -- his district is rather liberal -- and we ended up agreeing that in exchange for a minor consideration or two, he would donate publicly as an example to his constituents.

Seruffin: I had to travel to Capital, to work out some details of another project with the World Controller's staff, and by the time I returned, well, things were out of control. ~~ rueful ~~

Bibi is getting ~~ concerned ~~.

Bibi: What happened?

Seruffin: Pollovic and his staff took our agreement more literally than I'd intended. They set up a press conference in the rotunda of the Gen Senate building at lunchtime, and invited every member of the press that they could find.

Bibi nods. So far, it sounds a bit stressful for Seruffin, if he has to be there, but not alarming.

Seruffin: They wanted me to take the donation right in front of the assembled press, plus whatever senatorial colleagues happened to be wandering by.

Bibi: You didn't, did you?

Bibi thinks Seruffin has more sense, and more diplomatic skill, than to get into such a situation.

Seruffin sighs.

Bibi finds that sigh a bit ~~ alarming ~~.

Seruffin: I had no choice. By the time I got back, it was far too late to modify the plans. I couldn't even get them to put it off until after our transfer.

Bibi: What! You were in need? ~~ real alarm ~~

Seruffin: Yes. And I couldn't explain why I wanted the whole thing pushed back a day, without making matters worse.

Bibi nods.

Bibi: How awful. ~~ compassion ~~ admiration ~~

Seruffin: It did help that Senator Pollovic wasn't particularly alarmed by the idea of donating, and that I managed to fit in a brief rehearsal. Gerrhonot was brilliant -- he deserves a Distinguished Service award for it -- but it was more of a risk than I ever want to have to take again.

Bibi finds the idea of Gerrhonot as brilliant a bit startling, but can appreciate how much his marvelous nager and remarkable nageric control could help. It must have been pretty stressful for him, too, trying to protect Seruffin from a whole mob while performing a functional.

Seruffin: We muddled through, somehow. Although I nearly lost it when I saw the fashion models dressed in yawals.

Bibi: Fashion models in yawals? ~~ amazed ~~

Seruffin: Yes. A fashion designer named Rinaldi was providing a costume for the Senator, and apparently managed to convince someone that his models should handle placing the Sime Territory banners. They were dressed in yawals. Fancy materials, of course, but for a moment, I thought I was having a flashback of... times I'd rather forget.

Bibi: ~~ intense compassion ~~ Yawals... I can't decide if it's more bizarre or obscene.

Seruffin: I don't think anyone else there caught the connection; at least, it wasn't mentioned in the press coverage I saw. In any event, the press were too busy dissecting Senator Pollovic's actions to worry about such a minor matter. The respectable papers were unhappy about his "undignified" conduct, and the less respectable tabloids were salivating over the way he "kissed a man".

Bibi snorts with ~~ rueful amusement ~~.

Seruffin: It will no doubt blow over soon enough, and so far, the Tecton hasn't received much unfavorable publicity, but it's been a stressful time.

Bibi reaches up and lightly strokes Seruffin's cheek.

Bibi: My dear, I'm sorry you had to go through that, but I admire you for it.

Seruffin: I'm not sure I don't deserve a scolding for letting myself get hijacked like that, but I hope it will turn out for the best. Not that I'm at all averse to having a beautiful woman admire me!

Seruffin smiles at Bibi, and puts his arm around her.

Bibi snuggles closer, ~~ delighted ~~.

Bibi: At least he's an experienced donor. Imagine if he'd panicked! ~~ shiver ~~

Seruffin: Actually, he'd never donated before, although as I said, he's not particularly afraid of Simes.

Bibi is ~~ startled ~~ and ~~ appalled ~~. She doesn't know what to say. She wishes Seruffin would be more careful of himself, but it's not her place to tell him what to do, or not do. ~~ concern ~~

Seruffin smiles ~~ wryly ~~.

Seruffin: If he had, he probably wouldn't have hit on such a stunt. It worked out in the end, however, at least technically.

Bibi nods, suppressing the horrific image of Pollovic panicking, and the mob reacting to it with a tsunami of frightening emotions.

Seruffin: I'm not in any hurry to do it again, however.

Bibi: I would think once per lifetime would be more than enough!

Bibi shakes her head.

Bibi: You Firsts.... ~~ affection ~~ admiration ~~

Seruffin: More nager than sense? ~~ amusement ~~ Well, I'm not sure I'd dispute that.

Bibi enjoys Seruffin's powerful nager and offers to engage more deeply with it.

Seruffin is happy to oblige a lady.

Bibi settles comfortably against Seruffin's shoulder and sighs with ~~ pleasure ~~.

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