How The Other Half Lives: Episode 5

Cristal and Bibi are sitting in the waiting room, trying to forget that it's almost winter. They don't expect any donors today, though of course a berserker may show up at any time.

Cristal: Well, at least we aren't actually snowbound yet. I can still go on my morning walks. But it's cold enough that sometimes I think we should move to the donation room just to keep warm. Of course that wouldn't bother you much, Hajene.

Cristal winks.

Bibi smiles.

Bibi: Let me share my Sime heat.

Cristal: Oh, believe me, I can feel you from here. Still, a little, er, physical closeness couldn't hurt.

Bibi moves closer, puts an arm around Cristal and leans against his shoulder.

Cristal: Ahhhh. ~~ comfort warmth relief ~~

Bibi enjoys her Donor's replete nager and pleasant emotions.

Cristal: I don't know how they get along here out-T with just hot-water bottles and such.

Bibi chuckles.

Bibi: I guess they use lots of quilts!

Cristal: I would suggest moving to the kitchen, but Gitl wouldn't be pleased, no indeed.

Bibi: We could build a fire in the common room. Do you think we should keep the place at a higher temperature? I can ask Driver to stoke the furnace more often.

Cristal: Hmm, I don't know. Would we have problems running out of fuel if the winter was a long one? After all, it's quite a while to Year's Turning.

Bibi: We can buy more. I think we've got the budget for it, but I'll confirm that with Nattin. After all, it's important to take care of my Gens.

Bibi strokes Cristal's back.

Cristal arches sensuously at the pleasing touch. ~~ pleasure ~~

Bibi: So what's new in town, Cristal? What have you been up to on your morning walks?

Cristal shrugs.

Cristal: Well, I have a new [English] jogging partner.

Cristal: We meet up across from the post office and then we walk together.

Bibi takes Cristal's hand and squeezes it gently.

Bibi: That's good. How did you meet him or her?

Cristal: Her, and by the merest chance. I happened to be going past the P.O. and I caught up with her. I don't think she's a native here: she speaks slightly different Genlan from the local dialect.

Bibi: You haven't asked her?

Cristal: No-oo. ~~ hesitation; mild embarrassment ~~

Cristal: She's a retired healer's assistant who moved here to get away from city life. So in a sense we have somewhat similar jobs, at least part of the time.

Bibi nods.

Bibi: Does she know that you're from Nivet?

Cristal: Well, sure. She's an educated person. I can't remember the name of the city where she comes from. But anyway, I told her some stories about channels I've worked with -- not you of course Bibi, and not mentioning any names. She seems to understand all too well.

Bibi: Oh, dear. ~~ teasing ~~

Cristal grins wickedly.

Cristal: Apparently the Horrible Doctor is a cultural universal. Especially those --

Cristal shudders over-elaborately.

Cristal: [English] surgeons. They seem to be the worst.

Bibi shivers at the thought of deliberately cutting into Gen flesh.

Bibi: It does seem horrible, but they do manage to save some patients we couldn't.

Cristal: Sometimes it might be better not to be saved, I think! Anyhow, Virginia doesn't tell me anything really graphic.

Bibi nods, grateful that Cristal isn't going to relay gory stories.

Bibi: What does she think about your work as a Donor? She doesn't donate herself, I suppose.

Cristal: No, she doesn't. I have ~~ hopes ~~, though.

Bibi: Well, don't feel like you have to push her. After all, the selyn pickups aren't keeping up with our intake again these days.

Bibi hopes Cristal won't lose his new friend by being too pushy or tactless.

Cristal: I know that, Hajene. ~~ slightly hurt ~~

Bibi: Sorry, Cristal. Of course you do.

Cristal is ~~ mollified ~~.

Cristal: Anyhow, one can only be so convincing without running out of breath!

Bibi: There is that!

Cristal laughs.

Cristal: I suppose what we're doing is more running than walking, but it's not all-out running either. There's no Simelan word for it that I know of.

Bibi: Hm. You're right. That is strange.

Cristal: I suppose sometime we should sit down and just talk, but I don't really know of any suitable venue, now that Violet's is closed for the season. I wouldn't want to [English] compromise her.

Bibi: How about that place you and Nattin go for supper sometimes on market day? The Klestral Inn?

Cristal: Unfortunately, that's not a place I can take a respectable woman. Unless we were married, and even then only in the private room.

Bibi: Or the Maple Leaf Cafe, with that woman who's so gung-ho about evil Simes? ~~ teasing ~~

Cristal gently tickles Bibi in the ribs.

Bibi squirms.

Cristal: Tease me, will you?

Bibi grabs Cristal's hands and wraps tentacles around them.

Cristal: Ooh oooh. Help help, I'm being attacked by a Sime! ~~ silly ~~

Bibi shifts to a transfer grip (no laterals) and squeezes gently.

Bibi: Gotcha!

Cristal: [English] Oh yeah?

Cristal turns up the ~~ need to give ~~.

Bibi: Mmmmm.

Bibi isn't close enough to hard need to worry about raising intil.

Bibi: Nice nager, Gen boy.

Cristal: Nice dimples, [English] snake lady.

Bibi snickers, and strokes Cristal's arms with a few tentacles.

Cristal: Y'know, they have this line in the local version of the Gen holy books: "And they shall take up snakes, and they shall take no hurt." But I think it means real snakes, not Simes. Virginia told me about it when she heard I work with Simes [English] up close and personal.

Bibi: I remember that from when I was a kid. I think they can interpret it both ways. Does she think you can get along with me because of something God is up to?

Cristal: Well, probably. Isn't God supposed to make everything happen? Or at least, nothing happens that's not part of his plan?

Bibi: I think different sects have different notions of just how much free will you get.

Cristal: [firmly] Thank heavens we don't worry about all that stuff in-Territory.

Bibi: Well, most of us. It helped Clint a lot to believe that God had made him a channel to do good works.

Cristal nods.

Cristal: Anyhow, the next line is about "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall be well", meaning the sick, I presume. Virginia thought that sounded like channel-style healing, which is how we got onto the subject.

Bibi: That would be a pretty heretical notion for most sects. What's her position on Simes and channels?

Cristal: [awkwardly] I think she's in favor of them, at least theoretically. She was very interested to hear about some of the cases I told her about, and I got the impression she wished her people could do as much.

Bibi: I wish we could combine the benefit of both systems of healing. Blood transfusions, for one thing, could save a lot of lives in-T. And of course, our methods work better than theirs for many conditions.

Cristal tosses his head, being unable at present to throw up his hands. ~~ resignation ~~

Cristal: Maybe in another generation or so.

Bibi: Maybe.

Bibi releases Cristal's hands and strokes his back again, enjoying the zlin of his repletion.

Cristal: ~~ intense willingness to give his selyn ~~

Bibi: Mmm, nice.

Bibi snuggles up to her Donor, arms around him.

Cristal leans physically on Bibi, allowing her Sime strength to hold him up.

Cristal: Ahhhh.

Bibi: Warm enough now?

Cristal: You know I am, Bibi! ~~ happiness ~~

Cristal: I think Virginia has been lonely here. The locals really aren't up to her sophistication, particularly the men. It's good for her to have a friend. At least I hope I count as a friend.

Bibi: Do you think she'd be willing to come here to have tea with you? It would be nice if you can still meet when it gets too snowy to run together. Me and Driver can stay away from you two.

Bibi refrains from laritist comments about how Gitl's baking would attract any Gen.

Cristal: I'll bring up the idea. But she may not feel very, well, safe. Or at least relaxed, even if rationally she knows it's safe. If it were warmer, we could sit on the veranda. But then if it were warmer, we could go to Violet's. Or just sit on a park bench.

Bibi nods.

Cristal: ~~ mild frustration ~~ Well, we'll work it out, I suppose. It won't be winter forever.

Bibi: Yes. Perhaps she'll invite you home to have tea with her there.

Cristal raises one eyebrow.

Cristal: That would make the locals gossip and no mistake. But perhaps she just doesn't have to care. Still, I can hardly bring up the idea without seeming, er, to imply things I don't mean to imply.

Bibi: She's an older woman, and it would be in the morning. Maybe if you invite her here, she'll get the idea to invite you there.

Cristal rubs his hands together mock-fiendishly.

Cristal: It's a Plot! Or at any rate it's a plan. I'll do it tomorrow.

Bibi: Good.

Bibi strokes Cristal's back again. She's glad he's found a local friend.

Cristal: And now for something completely different.

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