Physicians Across Borders: Episode 7

Squanell picks up the tray from the cafeteria servery. It contains a pot of trin he isn't really thirsty for, and a plate of Gen snacks. He's glad the cafeteria is almost empty. He wishes it were emptier. He doesn't really want to be seen or zlinned with the notorious Rogue Donor.

Nick stays close behind, letting the nearness of his selyn production ~~ reassure ~~ his charge.

Squanell is trying to stay hypo, though it's hard to do so close to transfer.

Nick does look a bit atypical for a Donor, since he hasn't shaved his beard, at Kat's request. He's otherwise a little thin for a Gen, but visibly unremarkable. Nagerically, he's quite remarkable indeed.

Squanell chooses a table and sets down the tray.

Nick sits down at a Companionable distance from Squanell.

Squanell pours the trin.

Squanell: Do you take cream or honey, Sosu?

Nick: A little honey, if you've got it. Thanks.

Squanell spoons a large dollop of honey from the little pot on the table, and stirs it into the tea before passing it to Nick.

Nick accepts the tea with ~~ pleasure ~~ , which although mild has a certain Narosian-style appreciation to it.

Squanell pours tea for himself, but adds nothing to it. It's not as if he's actually planning to drink the stuff. Not this close to transfer.

Nick takes a slice of apple, "accidentally" adjusting the plate of goodies to be easily in Squanell's reach.

Nick: I understand you've been shorted, lately?

Nick's nager isn't overwhelming at the moment, but it does make it hard to imagine being shorted.

Squanell: Five months running.

Squanell manages a shrug.

Nick: That's hard.

Squanell: I've lived through worse. Eight months, once.

Nick is aware that Arat and Snake both went longer, at times, but few people really make an art form of self-abuse.

Nick: Was your assigned Donor this month a good match for you?

Squanell: Yes, she would have been. But she got diverted.

Squanell manages another shrug. It doesn't match the grimace on his face.

Nick offers a ~~ steady reassurance ~~.

Nick: So the Controller said. Has she been working with you to overcome the damage from your shorting?

Squanell is still ~~ reluctant ~~ to interact with this Donor, but can't help zlinning a little of the tempting support.

Squanell: A little. There hasn't been time for much.

Squanell doesn't bother saying that there's never enough time for a channel's own comforts.

Nick: I see.

Nick takes a meditative bite of the apple, ~~ savoring ~~ the tart, sweet crispness.

Squanell takes a tiny sip of tea, unaware that he's doing so.

Nick lets a little more of his nager interact with Squanell's, keeping it purposefully light. He wants to tempt Squanell into closer nageric interaction, not hit him over the head with it.

Squanell absently reaches for a slice of dried apple, but toys with it without taking a bite.

Nick is actually less concerned about his ability to handle Squanell into a good transfer than he was about D'zoll: channels with problems he knows how to handle. He hopes his own ~~ confidence ~~ will prove contagious.

Squanell's nervous fidgeting with the apple slice slows a little. His handling tentacles relax from their former rigidity. He searches for something to say.

Squanell: You must have had some real adventures, I guess.

Squanell knows he's avoiding the things he should really be discussing with his Donor.

Nick: Well, yes, if you define "adventure" as "someone else far away whose nager is in big trouble".

Squanell manages a small smile.

Squanell: The definition I heard is, "Adventures get you cold and wet, and make you late for your transfer assignment".

Nick chuckles, making his nager ~~ shimmer ~~ delightfully.

Nick: I've certainly been cold and wet far too often.

Squanell: And late for transfer?

Nick: Well, not too often that, I'm glad to say. In some ways, even rogue channels insist on keeping with tradition.

Squanell: That's reassuring, I guess. Um, Sosu, you probably haven't had time to read all the way through my file, so I guess I should warn you. It shouldn't be a problem, since you're rated so much above me. But it could be a bit startling.

Nick: Yes?

Nick is reassuringly ~~ attentive ~~.

Squanell: I tend to start with one really hard pull, almost at my maximum, then back off for a split second, then draw in a normal curve after that. That hard tug at the beginning can throw you, if you don't expect it.

Nick nods.

Nick: I'll watch for it, then.

Squanell: And don't mistake the backing off for an abort. Do you, um... ~~ nervous ~~

Squanell drops the apple slice back on the plate.

Nick ~~ soothes ~~ the nerves.

Nick: Do I what?

Squanell: Do you have any quirks I should know about?

Nick looks harmless, and zlins more disciplined than most Donors. He considers.

Squanell wonders how a rogue can know what's a quirk and what isn't.

Nick doesn't, actually.

Nick: I've been told that some of my solutions to some problems aren't necessarily what a Tecton-trained Donor would do, even if they do work pretty well. So if I don't respond quite the way you expect, don't panic.

Nick is glad that at least his months at Sat'htine have served to teach him the Tecton signals.

Squanell: Can you give me an example?

Nick: Oh, it mostly seems to come up when I'm working, not in transfer. But I treat things like entran a little differently, when it's necessary. It shouldn't affect anything during this transfer.

Squanell gives a wry smile.

Squanell: I can't remember the last time I had the luxury of slowing down enough to risk entran.

Nick: Well, then, you don't have to worry about my unconventional way of treating it, do you?

Nick gives his ~~ charming ~~ smile once more, and takes a sip of tea, ~~ enjoying ~~ the flavor. Fortunately, he didn't pick up too much of the Narosian tea snobbishness during his tenure there. He would otherwise be hard put to genuinely appreciate Tecton standard trin.

Squanell smiles, and absently sips his own tea.

Squanell: It's all going to be about trust, isn't it, Sosu?

Squanell knows he's quoting a Tecton standard cliche.

Nick: Isn't everything?

Squanell shrugs, a gentle rippling of tentacles.

Squanell: I have to admit, I don't quite trust you, Sosu. Not the way I should.

Squanell knows a Sime would have been able to zlin as much, but he figures that to a Gen, he'd better say it in words.

Nick: Of course you don't. You don't know me. I don't know you, either. Of course, that means I have no reason whatsoever to wish you harm.

Squanell: I don't know whether it's your intentions I doubt, or...

Nick: My skill?

Squanell shrugs. He doesn't want to be so rude as to explicitly doubt an assigned Donor's skills.

Squanell: Maybe.

Nick: I kept two highly unstable Farris channels alive for several years. Of the Donors at the Dam, I was the only good match for either of them. I've got a lot of experience with channels who have been shorted -- a lot more than most Tecton Donors, probably.

Squanell: I know I shouldn't believe everything I read in the news, but...

Squanell gives another ~~ awkward ~~ shrug.

Nick: Need does tend to make a Sime pessimistic.

Squanell: They say the channel who trained you demanded pain.

Squanell can't quite repress a shudder.

Nick: She enjoyed it, yes. But mostly, that meant she handled traumatic injuries better than most channels.

Squanell: You don't... you won't... I don't want to end up as one of those channels who specialize in serving disjuncts.

Squanell fidgets in ~~ embarrassment ~~ .

Nick: Why would you? I have no interest in pain.

Squanell: Sorry I asked. ~~ relief ~~

Squanell's mouth has gone dry. He takes a deliberate sip of his trin, and notices with ~~ surprise ~~ that the mug is almost empty.

Squanell: You're good at making a Sime drink his tea.

Nick chuckles.

Nick: One of my many talents. Would you like to sample some of the others?

Nick's lets his nager become a little more ~~ tempting ~~, within the bounds of good taste in a public room, of course.

Squanell: I'm beginning to think I might.

Squanell goes duoconscious.

Squanell: Aaaaaah. ~~ purr ~~

Nick's nager is 75% as seductive as Riyyh's, and has the advantage of being Gen, not Sime.

Squanell struggles his way back to something resembling coherent thought, and tries to zlin this transfer from the Gen's point of view.

Squanell: Are you all right with this assignment, Sosu? I'm not going to be able to give you much of a ride.

Nick shrugs.

Nick: I'm not the one who's been shorted, lately. And Kat's getting a good match, which I can't give her.

Squanell nods distractedly. This coherent thought thing is getting harder and harder.

Nick notes the effect, and decides to take matters into his own hands before Squanell loses coherency altogether.

Nick: Perhaps we should find a transfer suite?

Squanell: One-one-seven.

Nick makes a note of the number.

Nick: Why don't you show me the way?

Nick sets aside his tea mug and stands.

Squanell, who has been trailing one ventral back and forth through the puddle of ronaplin he's left on the table, nods and stands also. He wraps a possessive dorsal around the Donor's wrist and, neglecting to bus his tray, leads the way out of the cafeteria and up the stairs.

Nick stays close, preventing Squanell's growing need from becoming uncomfortable.

Squanell opens the door to the transfer suite, flipping the sign on the door to "occupied" as he enters.

Nick closes it behind them.

Squanell is drifting from duo to hyperconscious.

Nick lets his nager reach out to Squanell's again, but this time, he doesn't use it to control the channel's need, but to start rousing it. He leads the channel over to the lounge and ~~ urges ~~ him to sit.

Squanell complies without hesitation.

Squanell: Twelve minutes, yet.

Squanell has to force the words out.

Nick: Let me work on you, then, so you'll be ready.

Nick can feel the inhibitions that five months of shorting have built up in Squanell's response.

Squanell: Mmmmhmmm.

Nick works his hands up Squanell's arms and sets to work on the inhibitions, in a more delicate and nuanced fashion than most Tecton Donors would use. He learned how to take care of this particular problem on Arat, after all, and he tended to resist any nageric manipulation that he realized was happening.

Squanell relaxes against the upholstery. Some part of his mind wonders why he isn't more nervous. The rest doesn't care.

Nick continues to treat Squanell's relatively minor shorting problem in an otherwise healthy channel as if it were chronic shorting in a temperamental Farris hypochondriac. In his defense, he doesn't know that there is any other way to treat such a problem.

Squanell is afloat upon a limitless ocean of waiting abundance.

Nick expertly times his preparation so that the last resistance dissolves just 30 seconds before the appointed time.

Squanell lets his handling tentacles glide up the solid Gen arms and wrap firmly around them. His laterals sweep out, drenched in ronaplin, and settle into place.

Nick lets his barriers drop as he leans forward to make lip contact.

Squanell begins to draw in his initial wild spike. Selyn pours in, limitless, fast-flowing.

Nick meets the demand easily, making sure that Squanell knows there isn't any reason to hold back.

Squanell, instead of the moment of backing off that's become his habit, just keeps drawing, faster and faster. There's no end to the selyn that awaits him.

Nick notices the lack of initial surge, but Squanell doesn't seem to be heading for an abort, so Nick takes his usual approach: he wings it.

Squanell soars on wings of selyn, peaks effortlessly, then floats downward to a gentle landing.

Nick ~~ accepts ~~ the less-than-perfect transfer, not allowing himself to spoil Squanell's enjoyment.

Squanell holds position a moment after it ends, wishing he could find someplace to cram in just one more dynopter. Then he breaks the lip contact.

Squanell: Mmmm. Thank you, Sosu.

Nick: You're welcome.

Nick watches Squanell for signs of postsyndrome.

Squanell lets his laterals slowly, reluctantly, drift back into their sheaths. His handling tentacles unwrap themselves with a little caress. He grins, giggles, then bursts into tears.

Nick is ready with a handkerchief from the supply near the lounge; his handkerchief-handing technique is well honed from Farris allergies.

Squanell: I - I - I - (between sobs) I'm sorry I doubted you, Sosu. It's just been so bloodyshen long.

Squanell sobs harder, dropping one hanky and accepting another.

Nick gives Squanell a reassuring arm around the shoulders, since the channel isn't zlinning at present, and makes sure hanky number three is on deck.

Nick: It's over, now. You don't have to worry about shorting any more, at least for a while.

Squanell continues sobbing, riding out all the elation and grief of the past half year.

Nick ~~ patiently ~~ keeps the hankies coming, as he waits for the sobbing to subside.

Squanell at last sniffles his way to a halt. He realizes suddenly that the arm around his shoulders is of entirely the wrong gender, and carefully pulls away.

Nick doesn't resist.

Squanell: Thank you, Sosu. That was, um.

Squanell takes internal inventory.

Squanell: A bit faster than I've ever drawn before. I'm not sure by how much. And two percent... no, three? higher capacity. I think.

Squanell is no Farris, to read such things to several decimal places.

Nick gets that ~~ sinking ~~ feeling.

Nick: I hope that won't make problems for you.

Nick can't imagine the Controller is going to be happy at having Squanell upgraded when he already can't find a compatible Donor for him.

Squanell laughs and chants in a singsong:

Squanell: I'm gonna get a pay raise, I'm gonna get a pay raise.

Nick: And what are you going to do with it?

Squanell: Elsiva. We've been... seeing each other.

Nick: Congratulations, then.

Squanell: Um. Sosu Nick.

Nick: Yes?

Squanell struggles, amidst his ~~ elation ~~ , to put on a moment's formality.

Squanell: I'm going to put the word out. That people shouldn't believe what they read in the papers about you.

Nick is ~~ touched ~~.

Nick: Thank you.

Squanell: It's only what you deserve.

Nick hopes that Squanell's advocacy will somewhat counter the inevitable less-than-enthusiastic response of his Controller, when that worthy learns that his channel has had an unauthorized upgrade.

Nick: I hope you'll be happy with your new rating.

Squanell: Oh, I'm sure I will. I'm so grateful to you, Sosu.

Squanell, in his current postsyndrome bliss, of course can't zlin farther than the tips of his own dorsals. He may zlin things Nick's way in a day or two.

Nick gives Squanell a quick inspection, and decides that the channel is as stable as he's going to get for the next day or so.

Squanell: Have I told you about Elsiva? She's got such lovely long brown hair, and the brownest eyes you ever saw, and...

Nick: You should go clean up, and find Elsiva.

Squanell: You should meet her. She's really special.

Squanell studies Nick, with his 75% Riyyh charm.

Squanell: On second thought, no. I want her all to myself. Sorry, Sosu.

Nick: I should go find Kat, and make sure that this Lomid took good care of her entran.

Squanell: Okay. Yeah, fine. Thank you.

Squanell bounces out of the transfer suite, grinning to himself. He just barely remembers to change the door indicator to "Vacant -- please clean" as he goes.

Nick looks after Squanell a bit ~~ wistfully ~~, then goes to search for Kat, who is at least familiar, even if she isn't "his" at present.

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