D'zoll has locked himself in the deferment suite and is pacing up and down, up and down. In the back of his head, the Watcher is sardonically amused, as it always is at this stage. Being a Farris is surely not all it's cracked up to be.
D'zoll's transfer is 37 minutes 22.53 seconds away, and he's confident Nick will be on time, but of course at the same time he's not confident at all. He sometimes envies his remote ancestors at this stage; they could afford to have a Gen locked up in the killroom for the whole two weeks.
D'zoll also knows why Nick can't be with him early, but part of him can't help resenting it anyway. He reminds himself that the fact that Nick's time has been much in demand these last two weeks indicates how well he is integrating into Sat'htine's working environment.
D'zoll hopes Hiram has disabused himself of the notion that this transfer will be the definitive test of Nick's compatibility with the Householding.
D'zoll mutters: "It's just a transfer." He pushes aside for the moment that it's his transfer that's in question and paces a little faster.
D'zoll also wishes Hiram would pay more attention to Sat'htine's compatibility with Nick.
D'zoll doesn't believe in "definitive tests", anyway, except perhaps for disjunction crises, and he's none too certain about the orthodox position on those either.
Nick hurries down the hall towards the deferment suite, cursing the minor emergency that tied him up for the extra five minutes he'd budgeted to get back to his room and change into a clean Tecton uniform.
D'zoll senses Nick coming even through the insulation, and forces himself to relax.
Nick's previous uniform was rendered unwearable by a changeover victim who failed to turn her head in time when emptying her stomach, and so he's dressed in the worn, definitely non-Tecton clothing that he's been keeping tucked away in the hospital building, the better to garden during breaks. He thinks this is not a good start to displaying the degree of professionalism required to satisfy the Tecton skeptics who were recommending "involuntary retirement", and who only reluctantly agreed to the Sat'htine posting instead.
Nick shrugs: going back for a clean uniform would take more than ten minutes, and he's not about to do that to a channel under his care, whether or not the Tecton approves. He's more comfortable out of uniform, anyway.
Nick opens the door to the deferment suite carefully, letting his nager fill the room with ~~ comforting promise without urgency, for the moment ~~.
Nick: Hello, D'zoll. I hope you weren't too stressed, having to wait alone.
D'zoll: Ah, Nick. I'm very glad you're here. And no, I was stressed but not too stressed. I just locked the door in case ...
D'zoll chokes the rest of the line off.
D'zoll: Forgive me.
Nick decides that D'zoll is worried about this transfer, which isn't a good sign.
Nick: In case Lusinka came after you for an opinion about those files you were supposed to have read? ~~ humor ~~
D'zoll: As you'll have noted, this particular lock doesn't keep people out; it only keeps them in.
Nick: It does? Then I hope you arranged for someone to let us out, in a bit.
D'zoll: It's on a timer.
D'zoll has 29 minutes and ... oh, shen it.
D'zoll: Do you think we could sit down instead of me pacing and you trying to keep up?
Nick notes D'zoll's obsessive behavior -- much less typical for him than for the other Farrises with whom Nick's worked -- and increases his ~~ support ~~ a little.
Nick: Certainly. I'm all in favor of exercise, but I generally prefer it outside.
D'zoll: Ah, thanks.
Nick leads the way to the transfer lounge.
D'zoll sits down on it.
D'zoll: It's hard to pace while sitting, fortunately.
Nick: You're trying hard, though. Here, sit back, and I'll rub your shoulders.
D'zoll does as he's told.
D'zoll: I appreciate it, Nick.
Nick sets to work unknotting D'zoll, physically and nagerically. He's well practiced at that particular task, as Arat was tied up in knots almost from his turnover day.
Nick is at least confident he can get D'zoll into decent shape for transfer, even if he's still unsure how to manage the transfer itself.
D'zoll aaaahhhhs as Nick's practiced fingers and nager go to work on undoing the last few days' tensions.
Nick notes the passage of time, and gradually shifts from need-dulling ~~ support ~~ to active ~~ anticipation ~~.
D'zoll's nervous system begins to resonate with that, and provides ~~ anticipation ~~ of his own.
Nick is not used to having a channel who matches him respond so easily, and wonders what hidden problems he's missing.
D'zoll pulls himself out of the blissful mental haze he's descending into long enough to say:
D'zoll: I trust you, Nick. Do what seems right to you.
Nick: Just don't try to hide your responses from me. I don't know you well enough, yet, to guess what you're trying to hide.
D'zoll: 'Mnot hiding anything.
Nick wonders if he'll ever get a chance again, to work with a channel long enough to reach that level of understanding.
D'zoll tries to make his nager light and fluid, allowing himself to follow Nick's disciplined flows.
Nick is working carefully, unsure where he's likely to run into resistance. He reflects that however easy having lots of Donors around makes the average workday, it's a disadvantage at transfer-time, not to know firsthand exactly what traumas one's channel has been subjected to that month.
Nick: How's that?
Nick doesn't know what D'zoll's used to getting from his Donors, and he's aware that his transfers, like the rest of his work, are just enough "off" Tecton standard to upset some channels. He doesn't think D'zoll is that much of a stickler, but channels, like all Simes, tend to be rather conservative in their transfer tastes.
D'zoll mumbles something unintelligible.
Nick lightens his nager a bit, to let D'zoll's mind clear.
D'zoll: Mmmmm. Lovely nager, lovely nager.
D'zoll shakes himself, metaphorically speaking.
D'zoll: You're doing everything superbly, Nick. Your instincts are remarkable. You adapt yourself to my needs without being told what they are.
Nick: I see you have a taste for the exotic. The last channel I was assigned to for transfer almost ran out on me.
D'zoll is startled.
D'zoll: What? Why?
Nick: I gather that she was afraid I'd ruin her with some exotic, rogue Audnes technique. I overmatched her by a fair bit, so I guess she can't be blamed for being a bit nervous.
Nick can only imagine what sort of briefing the poor woman got from their mutual Controller, who was definitely not one of Nick's fans.
D'zoll doesn't believe in definitive ruinations either.
D'zoll: Your technique doesn't feel exotic to me. Non-standard, yes. But the fact is, all Donors are non-standard in the transfer suite. Some of them just try to hide it, is all.
Nick: I expect most of them at least know what standard is, though.
D'zoll chuckles again.
D'zoll: How could they? They only know what channels tell them -- and channels don't tell their Donors everything, eh?
Nick: I suppose not.
D'zoll: I'd rather have an equal partner than try to manage my Donor -- or be managed by him, "for my own good".
Nick stops his manipulation of D'zoll's fields, while somehow not withdrawing support, in a feat which few Donors not trained by support-mad, insane Farris channels could manage.
Nick: Do you want me to stop, then?
D'zoll: No, no. I was talking about me, not my selyn field. Don't you go keeping things from me either.
Nick: I stand corrected.
D'zoll smiles at this typical bit of Nick humor.
Nick resumes the physical and nageric massage. He checks the clock on the wall, and lets the ~~ temptation ~~ in his nager increase just a little, to start raising D'zoll's intil.
Nick: You know, it still seems a bit unnatural to me, to have a specific time for transfer.
D'zoll: The whole Tecton is based on doing what's unnatural. So is civilization in general. But I'd rather not be liberated from the iron repression that prevents me from wetting the bed at night, thanks.
Nick: All hail civilization, then. Although you seem to be doing a decent job of wetting your wrists...
Nick wipes some of the dripping ronaplin off of D'zoll's wrists, which does interesting things when he goes back to massaging the channel's neck.
Nick spent almost three months as the temporary Companion of one of the world's most hedonistic hedonists, and even though Riyyh didn't have the capacity to fully satisfy him, Nick did pick up some interesting techniques.
D'zoll: Very nice.
D'zoll revels in the alien, yet oh-so-natural, field soaking into him with the ronaplin.
D'zoll: At times like this I pity the Ancients. They never knew what life is meant to be all about.
Nick: Does life have to be about only one thing? I mean in general, not at times like this.
D'zoll: Touche, Nick. Of course you're right. It's just Sime instinct talking.
Nick notes that the time is passing, and slides his hands from D'zoll's neck, down his arms, brushing ever-so-lightly over the swollen ronaplin glands on their way to the channel's wrists.
D'zoll shuts his eyes and luxuriates in the pure sensation of needlessness.
Nick considers a moment, then smoothly skews his support just so, altering the needlessness to need, albeit painless need, with his selyn so obviously available. He learned that technique from his attempts to get transfers into the chronically shorted Arat, who'd had bad transfers for so long, it had gotten to be a habit.
D'zoll has not been making a habit of bad transfers, but he enjoys the effect anyhow.
D'zoll: Nick, you are a true artist.
Nick: If you'd ever seen me try to sketch, or play an instrument, you wouldn't say that...
Nick lets his fingers dance around D'zoll's wrists, encouraging the tentacles to come out. He is actually ~~ enjoying ~~ this chance to apply some of the things he's learned about getting a decent transfer into a channel, after his last few transfer assignments made it very clear that he wasn't to do anything more than provide selyn on demand.
D'zoll: There are -- oooohhh -- many arts. Usla, for example, is an artist at making order where people live.
D'zoll mentions the Gen head of Sat'htine's housekeeping staff.
Nick: Another art at which I'm generally considered a failure, alas.
Nick brushes a finger at just the right pressure, an inch below D'zoll's right outer ronaplin gland.
D'zoll: One art there is, no less, no more; to do all things with sparks -- ahhhh! -- galore.
Nick: I knew a professional arsonist once, who would agree with that.
D'zoll is so far free of need tension that he actually laughs out loud.
D'zoll: Nick, you are funny.
Nick smiles, not completely sure why D'zoll finds arson so funny.
D'zoll: Actually I meant the kind of sparks you can zlin -- well, I can zlin -- when people are doing things enthusiastically.
Nick: I admit, those kind of sparks are a bit less incendiary than Smoky Jow's preferred variety. Although his efforts did provide us with a steady stream of clients, until they caught him.
D'zoll: For healing work, you mean?
Nick: Yes, and extra transfers for the people augmenting to save what they could of their belongings. Or in one case, of the inventory of a pub's cellar.
D'zoll shakes his head, but carefully so as not to upset Nick's work.
Nick notes the time: two minutes to go.
D'zoll: I often think the Modern Tecton got off on the wrong foot from the start, not taking Keon's views on a free market in selyn seriously. Anti-Tigue prejudice, I fear.
D'zoll sees everything from a psychological standpoint, of course.
D'zoll: If they had, there wouldn't be any requirement for rogue channels. Or rather they wouldn't be rogues.
Nick: Most rogue channels never get Zeor training. I met one who was actually a semi-junct: he kept getting overeager and killing his Donor trainees.
D'zoll: And with one minute, twelve point one seven seconds to go, you tell me this now?!
Nick: If Snake didn't kill me when she had to Qualify me First Order two months early, I doubt you're in any danger of having to test your anti-kill conditioning.
D'zoll: [clinically] What a pity.
D'zoll reaches zero in his countdown.
D'zoll: Time, Sosu.
Nick lets his nager become a ~~ shining enticement ~~, and leans forward to make lip contact.
D'zoll's intil soars as he seats his laterals and makes the fifth contact almost simultaneously. He loses track of the outside world and goes hyperconscious.
Nick's barriers drop smoothly, making his selyn available for the taking.
D'zoll begins to draw in a perfect Tecton-standard normal curve. He's pleased, but not surprised, to find the selyn flavored with Nick's acerbic but dedicated personality.
Nick is poised, holding himself in balance, ready to respond instantly to any slight changes in draw speed, fluctuations, resistance, or other potential problems.
D'zoll reaches peak draw speed, no problems of any kind.
Nick is losing his clinical objectivity, as he feels his first decent selyn draw in months. He can't resist the temptation to ~~ wallow ~~ in it; the 25% of him that's Prunida isn't strong enough to overrule the 75% of rampant hedonist under these circumstances.
D'zoll zlins his partner's satisfaction in progress, which raises his own beyond all previous limits. The curve shifts as D'zoll increases his demand, to his own surprise.
Nick feels the draw speed climb significantly beyond what he's used to, a danger signal for any Donor, but after so long without, he can't bring himself to care.
D'zoll belatedly remembers Nick's limits and damps down at the last minute. He brings the transfer to termination, a bare 3% short of his own capacity, and retracts his laterals and handling tentacles languidly.
Nick blinks as he comes back to reality.
D'zoll takes a deep breath, holds it, and lets it go as slowly as possible, feeling renewed enthusiasm for everything fill him. He drops to hypoconsciousness, but somehow it's not harsh or painful, only -- natural.
Nick: Well, I don't think I'll be much use to a channel for a few days, after that.
Nick is, indeed, quite lowfield, for him.
D'zoll laughs heartily until the tears spill over.
D'zoll: On the contrary, Nick.
Nick raises an eyebrow in ~~ question ~~.
D'zoll: Now you get to stop being a Donor for a few days and be a human being, who is not to be "used".
Nick finds the prospect oddly ~~ tempting ~~.
D'zoll pretends to zlin Nick closely.
D'zoll: I judge that you won't be "useful" to the Householding for, let's see, about three days. So for the next three days, serve your own ends, whatever they may be. I'll make it right with Sectuib.
Nick: I expect he'll want that overdue report anyway, but...
D'zoll waves his hand.
D'zoll: Who cares what Hiram wants? It's not what he wants anyway. It's just what the bureaucrat-ego in him wants. Let it suffer a little longer.
D'zoll: Oh yes. Formally, for the record. Sosu, this transfer was satisfactory. In fact, it was not satisfactory, it was mind-blowing.
D'zoll goes through the motions of reaching for the transfer report, then abandons it as not worth the effort.
Nick is ~~~ relieved ~~~.
D'zoll: But you knew that.
D'zoll's eyes twinkle.
Nick: Well... yes.
D'zoll offers Nick a hug, not sure how his non-Tecton sensibilities will react, and at present unable to zlin.
Nick accepts the hug and returns it.
Nick: D'zoll.... Thanks.
D'zoll is happy that Nick's calling him by name at last.
D'zoll: Thank you, Nick.