Shorsh spots Mik in the group of young channels stretching their legs after arriving at Sat'htine for a tour of the medical facilities. It's been a long ride from their First Year school.
Shorsh: I think that's him over there by the rosebushes, D'zoll.
Shorsh gestures, since D'zoll can't be counted upon to recognize a rosebush when it doesn't have roses on it.
D'zoll: Where? Oh, there. Yes, the nageric family resemblance is pretty plain.
Shorsh thinks there's a fair bit of physical family resemblance, too.
D'zoll: So we're supposed to collect him just after the tour, right?
Shorsh: We might have a bit of a chat with him now, in case he's like Gegg. He might be prone to anxiety to the point where he'll miss most of the benefit of the tour jittering over meeting his father.
D'zoll: Indeed. Well, there's only one way to find out.
D'zoll walks over to Mik.
Shorsh follows, projecting ~~ welcome ~~.
Shorsh: Good day, Hajene Gegg.
Mik looks around to see who's being talked to until he finally remembers who he is.
Mik: Umm yes, hello, Mik Gegg, that's me.
D'zoll: I'm D'zoll Farris ambrov Sat'htine and this is my Companion, Sosu Shorsh Farris ambrov Sat'htine.
Mik: Umm, pleased to meet you, Hajene Farris, Sosu Farris.
Mik extends his tentacles awkwardly. ~~ social anxiety ~~
Shorsh courteously offers a little ~~ reassurance ~~ and brushes Mik's tentacles.
Shorsh: Welcome to Sat'htine.
Shorsh: We hope you'll enjoy the tour. Your family was very hospitable to us in Gumgeeville.
Mik: Thanks, um, thanks. So I'll see you right afterwards to go see my family, is that right, Sosu?
Shorsh: Yes. Everything is arranged. I'm sure it will go well.
Shorsh reinforces this with a subtle but powerful nageric influence.
D'zoll steps away to have a word with the tour leader, reconfirming the plan.
Hiram is escorting Gegg to have his donation taken a couple of days early, after which he'll let him know about Mik's visit. He's taking the shortcut through the garden to save time.
Gegg has given up trying to figure out when he'll be required to donate -- it doesn't seem to be happening on a regular schedule. He has been told that it has a lot to do with the kinds of work D'zoll does with him; he suspects that busy schedules have something to do with it, as well.
Shorsh: Your father has made remarkable progress. He's a very courageous man -- I wouldn't have believed it would be possible.
D'zoll: Indeed he has. He may be the bravest person I've ever met.
Hiram zlins the group gathered in the garden, but thanks to Shorsh's masking effect, hasn't zlinned Mik yet.
Hiram: We'll just take care of your donation first, and then I've got some happy news to give you.
Gegg sees a bunch of youngsters wandering around the garden, many of whom appear to be about the age of his own kids.
D'zoll zlins Hiram's sec with no problem, of course.
D'zoll: I see Sectuib is on his way. Perhaps he's going to give you and the other students a "little talk".
D'zoll winces internally at the thought of those talks, but keeps it out of his showfield, of course.
Gegg can almost imagine one of the Sime kids, who is talking with Shorsh, looking like Mik -- similar hair and stance.
Shorsh: So, how are you enjoying your First Year, Mik?
Mik gives a rather strained laugh.
Mik: Well, it's certainly interesting. But it's run, run, read, read, write, write, work, work.
Gegg gets a better look when the kid turns his head, and freezes in ~~ disbelief ~~.
D'zoll smiles in reminiscence.
D'zoll: Yeah, all of that. And it gets harder before it gets easier. But you'll manage fine.
Gegg isn't a Farris channel, so the fancy field management that is keeping D'zoll from zlinning him, and Hiram from zlinning Mik, is not effective.
Hiram stumbles as Gegg blasts him with emotion, then realizes a moment later what has happened, and hurries to mask Gegg's field from the visitors.
Shorsh recognizes Gegg's voice and reinforces his control of the ambient to protect Mik.
Gegg starts running towards his son, his midfield nager resounding with ~~ surprise ~~ and ~~ joy ~~.
Shorsh is delighted to see Gegg's apparent joy.
Mik whirls about at the huge disturbance in the ambient, and sees his father. He's not yet too old to ignore the evidence of his eyes.
Mik: Dad! ~~ joy apprehension ~~
Gegg forgets everything he's been painstakingly taught over the past months about dealing with Simes, including the fact that he's afraid of them.
Gegg barges past Shorsh, arms wide to hug his son.
Hiram reaches for Gegg, a split second too late to hold him back.
Gegg's therapy has been successful enough that he is seeing Mik as his son first, not as a Sime.
Mik's training tells him to evade; his family feeling tells him to go for it. He dithers.
Shorsh ~~ supports ~~ Mik strongly, without interfering with either Mik's emotions or his perception of Gegg's, ready to protect him instantly if necessary. He sees Mik dithering and ~~ encourages ~~ him to go with his family feelings.
D'zoll reaches out for Mik's shoulder with his tentacles and attempts to pull him out of Gegg's path.
Gegg throws his arms around his son, and his nager, temporarily freed to follow its own inclination, reaches out to mesh solidly with Mik's.
D'zoll realizes that he's failed and relinquishes control to his Sectuib in case something drastic is required.
Everyone else turns toward the immense disturbance in the ambient.
Hiram hastily wraps the encounter in a nageric bubble to protect the other guests from the too-intense, though so far positive, emotions.
Gegg: Mik! What are you doing here?
Mik: I'm touring Sat'htine with my class, Dad.
Mik is able to talk, but physical reaction is beyond him at the moment; his body remains frozen in Gegg's arms.
Gegg has felt D'zoll form a nageric linkage with him, but has never had that experience with a channel who didn't hugely overpower him.
Hiram stands by, ready for split-second intervention if necessary, but not interfering yet between father and son.
Mik is ~~ astonished ~~ at the potent linkage, as strong as anything he's felt with a Donor.
Gegg pulls back to arm's length, still holding Mik's shoulders.
Gegg: You look good, son.
Mik: Dad -- don't move.
Mik's voice is that of a channel taking charge of an emergency, to his own surprise.
Shorsh ~~ invites ~~ Mik to lean on his ~~ support ~~.
Mik attempts to disentangle his field from that of his father, without material success.
Gegg's emotions are calming as he adjusts to the surprise, but his attention is still tightly focused on Mik.
Mik: Our fields are linked. You're reacting to me like a normal Donor who's getting ready to serve transfer.
Shorsh winces imperceptibly at the words, hoping they won't cause the situation to flip over into a disaster.
Gegg: I am?
Mik uses the linkage to try for the first time to control a Gen's emotional state in a non-training situation.
Mik: Relax, relax. It'll be fine.
D'zoll watches and zlins in increasing ~~ astonishment ~~.
Gegg feels a vague alarm, but it's muffled: Mik just doesn't "feel" as threatening as D'zoll and Hiram, with whom he's had the most interactions.
Mik does his relaxation exercises, hoping they'll calm Gegg as well.
Gegg not only is a much closer match for Mik, but he also changed Mik's diapers, which does make a difference to his perspective.
Hiram is braced for instant intervention, but is waiting to see how well the two Geggs will handle it. This could be the turning point in Gegg's recovery, and if so, he doesn't want to mess with it.
Gegg: How's school been? Are they treating you right?
Mik appreciates this attempt at normality.
Mik: Yes, they've taken good care of me. How's Mom?
Mik strives to disengage his fields more subtly, hoping this isn't going to create trautholo, or transfer dependency, or God only knows what.
Gegg: She's getting tired faster then usual, which annoys her, but I'm told she's doing well.
Shorsh can feel Mik's efforts and gently draws Mik's field away from Gegg's and towards his own. ~~ safety ~~ protection ~~ support ~~
Mik: Good, good.
Mik feels the lock release with a detectable click and leans himself gratefully on Shorsh instead.
Gegg: Sanda's having the time of her life here, and not getting into too much trouble doing it, which is something of a miracle, as I'm sure you'll agree.
Mik laughs freely.
Mik: It certainly is. If you think she's not getting into trouble... wow.
Hiram wraps Gegg in nageric insulation as Mik disengages.
Gegg blinks as something changes.
Gegg: What was that?
Shorsh ~~ supports ~~ Mik gently, careful not to influence his emotions.
Mik: We've disengaged. I think Hajene Farris -- that is, the other Hajene Farris -- took over.
Mik gestures toward Hiram.
Shorsh smiles. Mik's only a Second, and the ambient is complex, and he hasn't been a channel for long.
Gegg shuffles his feet in unconscious ~~ discomfort ~~ at the stronger nageric imposition.
Hiram: You did well, Hajene Mik.
Mik: Thank you. And respect to Sat'htine.
Hiram accepts the salutation with a silent nageric response.
Hiram: Mr. Gegg, you should be proud of your son.
Shorsh looks to Gegg with tears in his eyes, his nager carefully controlled, but flavored with ~~ satisfaction ~~ and ~~ joy ~~.
Gegg flares mild ~~ unease ~~ as he responds to Hiram's shaping of the ambient, but since he's not perceiving it consciously, and he's used to feeling uneasy around Simes, he ignores it.
Gegg: I am. When I think what could have happened -- what would have happened, if that train hadn't been stranded by a storm last winter...
Shorsh: You should be proud of yourself -- you've hugged your son, to your mutual joy.
D'zoll shakes his head, and thinks of the Arvad law of behavior: in a well-controlled experimental situation, a well-trained subject will do whatever he fleckin well pleases.
D'zoll: Congratulations, Gegg. You've made a real breakthrough here.
Gegg is not quite sure what happened, except that Mik is here.
Hiram signals to D'zoll to take the nageric handoff. This is D'zoll's patient, after all.
D'zoll: Your reaction to your son involved no fear whatsoever.
Gegg gives a crooked smile.
D'zoll accepts control of Gegg's field, but refrains from actually exercising that control until it's needed.
Gegg: It's kind of hard to be afraid of a kid whose diapers you changed.
Mik: That's not how you were feeling the last time you saw me, though. You have changed for sure.
Gegg: I've gotten a little more used to Simes.
Gegg has mostly gotten resigned to the idea that his son is Sime.
Mik: Naah, Dad. That was yesterday. Today you are totally used to 'em. Why, look at that whole group of channels over there.
Mik points to his classmates.
Mik: You aren't a bit afraid of them.
Gegg: Well... they are over there, not over here.
Mik gives his dad a raspberry.
Gegg reaches out reflexively to cuff his son's ear.
Gegg: Mind your manners.
Nenuphar has been watching the whole thing, ~~ boggled ~~. That guy must be Mik's dad, the twisted Donor. But it's all gone well. They're both happy, or at least they look that way.
Mik notices Nenuphar's attention on his father.
Nenuphar can't zlin through the complicated stuff those Farrises have done to the ambient, but he's still young enough to trust his eyes.
Mik: Dad, I'd like you to meet my best friend at school, Nenuphar.
Mik nagerically invites Nenuphar to come closer.
Nenuphar approaches cautiously, keeping his showfield ~~ flat and neutral ~~.
Nenuphar: Uh, hi, Mr. Gegg.
Gegg looks at the kid, who seems awfully young to be friends with a boy Mik's age.
Nenuphar isn't sure whether he should offer to brush tentacles or not, so bobs his head and tries to look harmless.
Gegg: Hello, Nenu....
Gegg can't remember the rest of the name.
Gegg: [to Mik] What was that, again?
Mik: Nenuphar, Dad. Lots of Simes have only one name.
Nenuphar: Um. It's my family name. I don't like my first name so I don't tell anybody...
Gegg: I do the same thing.
Mik: Yeah, nobody knows Dad's first name except maybe Mom, and I'm not too sure about her.
Nenuphar: Mik's great. We help each other a lot.
Gegg: I'm glad you two found each other.
Gegg is, of course, assuming that Mik took the younger kid under his arm at school, perhaps to defend him against class bullies.
Nenuphar wants to say something about how glad he is that Mik and his dad are getting along despite everything, but he can't figure out how to do so tactfully, so just smiles and nods again.
Mik rats out his friend.
Mik: He's glad about something, probably how well you're doing, or we're doing. Or something.
Nenuphar blushes again.
Nenuphar: Yeah. I'm glad you two got together and everything.
Gegg: Mik, have you said hello to your mother yet?
Shorsh continues to lightly support Mik as he watches Gegg effortlessly interact with a Sime he's never met before. He looks to D'zoll, and ~~ grins ~~ at him nagerically.
Gegg is, truth to tell, so focused on Mik that he's not really tracking the presence of other Simes, and it doesn't hurt that Nenuphar looks too young to be an adult.
Mik: No, we just got here. I was planning to see you after the tour is over.
D'zoll: Speaking of which, Nenuphar, Mik, I think the tour is about to start without you.
D'zoll is still expecting Sectuib to make a speech, but he wants to get Gegg by himself so he can zlin for himself what's going on.
Gegg has been raised in Gen society, which views responsibilities to the community as more important than family reunions.
Gegg: Go on, son. We can have lunch with your mother when you're done.
Gegg makes shooing motions.
Shorsh signals to Mik, more obviously than normal, that he intends to relinquish their nageric engagement, and gently fades it out.
Hiram: Excuse me, please. (louder) Guests, I'd like to welcome you all to Sat'htine. If you'll all follow me, please...
Hiram leads the group away from the Geggs and towards the far side of the garden. He hadn't been planning to speak to this tour group, but finds it hard to resist an opportunity to show off the work of his House. He's also glad of the opportunity to gracefully extricate himself from a situation which no longer requires his attention. He'll hand off to the real tour guides... in just a few more sentences. Maybe.
D'zoll: Gegg, I think your donation can wait. We've got some things to discuss here, don't we.
Gegg looks after the tour group.
Gegg: As long as it doesn't keep me from catching up with Mik, when he's done with his class.
Shorsh ~~ relaxes ~~, and gives D'zoll a nageric ~~ slap on the back ~~. ~~ joy ~~
D'zoll: I'm sure it won't. Interfering with that is the last thing I want to do.
Mik finds it hard to follow what Hiram is saying, given the experience he's just been through ~~ joy anticipation self-confidence ~~.
Gegg turns back to D'zoll.
Gegg: All right, then, I'm yours until they're done.
D'zoll: Fair enough.
D'zoll leads Gegg off toward his office, with only the lightest of touches on his field. ~~ happiness pride ~~
Hiram: (in the distance) Our medical research facilities are the largest and most comprehensive...
Hiram speaks on, scarcely aware of what he's saying. He's amazed at what he's just witnessed. Amazed, gratified, and hopeful for the future.