D'zoll walks from the psychiatric conference to the NWU Sime Center with Shorsh on his arm, forcing himself to be glad that Shorsh's ankle is only strained and not sprained outright. Here in Barbarian Territory, he can't fix it till he gets there.
Shorsh is trying not to let his pain affect D'zoll excessively, as it would exacerbate the channel's guilt for not catching him when he slipped on the ice.
D'zoll: [cheerily] Just a few minutes longer, old friend. I would carry you, but I think it would be harder on your dignity than absolutely necessary.
Shorsh: It would also be a bit conspicuous. Not to mention that despite your Sime strength and grace, I really don't want you to drop me if you slip on the ice.
D'zoll keeps on keeping on until Shorsh is installed in a chair with a stool, an ice pack is on its way, and D'zoll has his tentacles extended in healing mode.
Katsura looks forward to a good long talk with her naztehrhai after she finishes with these last few lunch-break student donors.
Nick shows the last student out, and notices another addition to the waiting room.
Nick: D'zoll! Shorsh! What happened to you?
Shorsh notes that Nick is looking thinner and more weatherbeaten than when he left Sat'htine.
Shorsh: I'm getting a quick repair to my ankle. Slipped on the [English] friggin ice.
D'zoll: Which is to say I didn't catch him. Pretty pathetic for a channel.
Katsura follows Nick and quickly zlins the situation.
D'zoll: Hey there, coz. Go on and finish whatever you need to go on and finish, we're fine here for a bit.
Katsura: I do have to finish the paperwork for those donors... be back ASAP.
Katsura turns back into the office.
Nick: So what did you two do to deserve exile among the Wild Gens?
Shorsh points to D'zoll.
Shorsh: Meet Nivet's premier Wild Gen expert.
Nick: Ahah! Surely you could have palmed things off on an older and wiser head, with pre-Unity experience?
Shorsh wonders what D'zoll has zlinned from both Kat and Nick. Kat looks somewhat worse for the wear, too.
Nick goes to the tea urn to get everyone refreshments, only to have the resulting dribble barely cover the bottom of the first cup.
Nick: Shen. It looks like the previous shift drank up all the trin again. Those two never can refill the pot.
Nick is ~~ apologetic ~~.
D'zoll: Situation normal, all shenned up. Some days are just like that, even out-T. Anyhow, I'm now the expert on Wild Gen mental problems, specifically. Or at least so says Sectuib. And Hajene Seruffin too. What's a poor Sime to do?
Nick: Go crazy, and become your own best client?
D'zoll looks at his tentacles.
D'zoll: Well, fine. But I don't think I can make myself a Gen, no matter how crazy I get.
Nick: True. And no one can deny that there's ample scope for your talents here. Just look at the Gen Senate.
D'zoll sighs and nods.
D'zoll: You don't know the half of it, Nick. But I'll say no more until we're in a more private place.
Nick offers ~~ sympathy ~~, without interfering with D'zoll's work on Shorsh. Meanwhile, he's rummaging in a cabinet, without noticeable success.
Nick: Well, that explains why our predecessors didn't make more tea. It looks like we're completely out.
Nick is ~~ mildly irritated ~~.
D'zoll: I hate to ask you to go all the way to the kitchen at this point in your shift, but I think Shorsh really requires it.
Shorsh puts a hand on his heart.
Shorsh: How I suffer for Unity, my poor channel unable to help me due to the Retainer Laws. ~~ utterly faking it ~~
D'zoll breaks out in a fit of snickers.
Nick: There isn't a kitchen here -- it's just a collectorium -- but there's a coffee shop not too far away.
Shorsh wiggles his ankle.
D'zoll quickly snatches back his laterals.
Shorsh: Almost fixed as far as I can zlin. What about you, Hajene?
Nick: Would you care for a latte?
D'zoll: Eh? I'm fine. A latte sounds great. Or anything hot and xanthinated.
Shorsh: Ah. A latte. Yes. Not too much sugar in D'zoll's, eh?
Nick: Kat? I could get you a hot chocolate, if you prefer?
D'zoll: [firmly] Fine, fine. But it's not the sugar that was the problem, it was the sugar and the essential oil, whatever it was.
Katsura: That would be nice, Nick. I'm almost done here.
Shorsh: No essential oils in D'zoll's, Nick.
D'zoll: Sassafras, that was it.
Nick: I'll make sure PPling keeps her hands off the syrups.
Nick is reaching for his slightly shabby, out-T style coat.
Katsura: Remind us to tell you about PPling, guys.
Nick chuckles, making his nager ~~ sparkle ~~.
Katsura comes out of the office.
Nick: Yes. That's a case study for your files, D'zoll.
D'zoll: I look forward to it.
Nick checks the waiting room -- no more clients, for now -- and waves farewell before starting out.
D'zoll appreciates Nick's sparkles in a detached sort of way, then refocuses his eyes and Sime senses on Katsura.
Katsura is zlinning D'zoll at the same time.
D'zoll: Well, Katsura. It's been a long haul for you since Sat'htine, eh?
Katsura: Wow. It sure has.
Katsura doesn't make too strong an effort to moderate her ~~ longing ~~ for the relative predictability of life in Nivet.
D'zoll: On the road with the infamous Rogue Donor of the Last Audnes Rebellion. It must have been... interesting.
Katsura: He's really good, especially with things like intense chronic entran.
D'zoll: I don't know how much Hiram has told you about what this visit is about?
Katsura: Just that you were coming here.
Shorsh gestures for Katsura to sit next to him.
Katsura does so, ~~ happy ~~ to zlin her familiar and beloved more or less Uncle Shorsh.
Shorsh puts his arm around her and engages her nager without neglecting his own channel. ~~ comfort ~~
Katsura ~~ enjoys ~~ it.
D'zoll sits down on the other side of Shorsh.
Katsura manipulates the ambient so the three nagers are seamlessly merged.
D'zoll relaxes into the experience.
D'zoll: Ahhh, that super-sensitivity of yours really has its uses.
D'zoll adds just a bit of counterinfluence so that he can talk coherently and Kat can listen.
Katsura tweaks the ambient further, until it zlins to both channels like they aren't consuming selyn at all, but absorbing it directly from Shorsh, whose field continues its steady rise uninterrupted.
D'zoll adds the ~~ sparkle ~~ that he zlinned from Nick.
Shorsh has flattened his resistance to let the two channels manipulate his nager for the mutual pleasure of all three. Of course, he can't zlin, but he does feel what's going on as well as a Gen can.
Katsura: I've missed this, although I've been teaching Nick a little of the in-House off-duty stuff. It's more fun with two channels.
D'zoll: It sure is! Well, where was I? Oh yes. I got a letter from Seruffin asking me to come out here and do some work with a touchy case, as you say, though I would prefer to say, a cut-your-throat-before-hearing-about-it case. I'll tell you about that sometime in a place less public than this.
D'zoll knows perfectly well no one is anywhere near and the office is sound- and nager-proofed, but he's a touch paranoid today.
Katsura: Okay. I've met Seruffin. He did a pretty good job making me feel like a new changeover who hadn't figured out how to keep her tentacles from getting tangled yet.
Katsura sighs and snuggles closer to Shorsh.
Shorsh squeezes her shoulder.
D'zoll: Yes. It's a good thing for us he's never joined a Householding: he's quite devastating enough all by himself.
Katsura: I suppose he'd make a good Sectuib. He sure made me feel like I wasn't ready to be one.
Katsura: Not ready, but not unable.
Shorsh smiles too.
D'zoll: You'll do fine, Kat.
Katsura: Not for some time yet, I hope. How is Sectuib? And Lusinka? And everybody else?
D'zoll: All well, except that Julene has fallen down the stairs and broken her hip but is doing well. And of course we are all missing you terribly.
Katsura: Well, I was only home for a few days before I left again. I didn't expect to be gone this long.
D'zoll: Yes. No more of that, if you please!
Shorsh: Kat deserves some relief from culture shock, I think.
D'zoll: Yes. So. That leads up to the other thing. ~~ embarrassed ~~
D'zoll: You know that as the Heir you can take pledges if Sectuib approves?
Katsura is a little ~~ taken aback ~~.
Katsura: You mean Nick?
D'zoll: Sectuib has approved it -- with conditions.
D'zoll: Basically, the three of us have to agree to make the offer. [hastily] And of course Nick has to accept, of course!
D'zoll laughs at himself.
Shorsh: I'm still inclined to get Nick into the House for his own protection and benefit, as well as what the House will gain from him, but you've had the most experience with him, under more extreme conditions, Kat, so you'd have the last word from my point of view.
D'zoll: I agree, except that I'm not quite as convinced as Shorsh that it will be to Nick's benefit. But I very much want to hear what you think.
Katsura thinks about it.
Katsura: We've gotten somewhat closer, but not as close as I am with our Companions. Of course, I've known my naztehrhai my whole life.
Shorsh pats Kat's shoulder. ~~ affection ~~
Katsura: He isn't my naztehr, so I can't expect him to have the same kind of relationship.
D'zoll: But if he were?
Katsura is trying to be objective, but it isn't easy.
Katsura: I don't know, D'zoll. I don't know what he'd be like if he committed to us. I don't think he'd know either.
D'zoll: Well, let's look at it from the other side. Would it be for his good if he did commit? Or at least more good than bad?
Katsura spreads hands and tentacles.
Katsura: I think so. I don't know if he does.
D'zoll: I'm inclined to think, given his background, that he's a better judge of that than we are, given that we all think so.
D'zoll thinks about that sentence to see if it means what it's supposed to mean.
D'zoll: That is, let him make up his mind whether he can trust us to be on his side or not.
Katsura: If nothing else, he'd have our full legal protection, but he'd be repelled by the idea of pledging just to get that. Which is very much in his favor as a member, I'd say.
D'zoll nods vigorously.
D'zoll: I absolutely agree on both points. I don't think any of us disagree that Nick's an asset.
Shorsh: You don't think he's changed his attitude towards us, and pledging, since you've been together?
Katsura shrugs uncomfortably.
Katsura: It's ironic, but he now seems to have the reserve that would have saved him if he'd used it with Snake and Arat. And now that he has something... appropriate... to commit to, I don't know if he can.
D'zoll laughs hollowly.
D'zoll: Ironic. Well, I'm convinced, but if you need more time to make up your mind, by all means take it.
Katsura: Oh, I'd like him to pledge too. But I don't know if he wants to or feels he deserves to. He's also got this belief that he would be bringing trouble on us. He's afraid of contaminating us with his bad reputation and his enemies.
Shorsh: Well, D'zoll. You're the mind healer. How do we overcome his fears of infecting us with his bad luck?
D'zoll looks around a bit.
D'zoll: I never considered Nick as a patient before. Or not seriously.
D'zoll: The trouble is that it may be hard to convince him that Sat'htine -- in the person of its Sectuib -- can stand all the trouble that may get stirred up. Don't get me wrong -- I think we can, without doubt. But Nick's a skeptic by nature.
Katsura: Definitely. He doesn't seem to be able to believe that.
D'zoll: It probably would have been better if he hadn't gotten a view of our Hiram as just another needy-but-suspicious channel.
D'zoll winks at his naztehrhai.
Katsura: You think he should get a chance to see Sectuib doing his mover and shaker act?
Katsura: Of course, Nick isn't good at understanding subtlety, and most of what Sectuib accomplishes, he does by relatively quiet methods.
Shorsh snorts in ~~ agreement ~~.
D'zoll: And so say we all. So that's out. We, between the three of us, will have to collectively represent the Majesty of Sat'htine. Able to leap over hostile channels at a single bound, y'know.
Shorsh: Of course, we could have Sectuib tell Nick, in so many words, that there's no question in his mind that Nick's troubles could ever significantly trouble Sat'htine.
D'zoll: Yes. But he's not hardwired to believe Sectuib above anyone else like we all are.
Katsura nods. They don't view Sectuib with mindless acquiescence, but they do have a healthy respect for his abilities and acumen.
Katsura: I suppose I could talk to him, feel him out a little. And each of us, or us together, could talk to him. Offer him as much time to think about it as he likes. No need to hurry... or is there? ~~ alarm ~~
Shorsh spreads ~~ calm and reassurance ~~ through their merged nagers.
D'zoll: No, not at all. But you did indicate that there's no place like home.
Katsura: I want to get back to Nivet before my skills atrophy beyond all recognition. And before these unpredictable Wild Gens drive me crazy. Or crazier.
Katsura thinks one Genslam is more than enough for one lifetime, thank you very much.
Katsura: After all, how many Wild Gen Wranglers does Sat'htine need?
D'zoll: Well, there's no doubt that if he's Sosu Nick ambrov Sat'htine, and given Jaklin's backing, no one could possibly have anything to say
Shorsh: Definitely. And Jaklin's still favorably inclined to him, despite recent events.
Katsura: I'll talk to him. I zlin him coming back with the refreshments. He zlins pleased.
Katsura knows she can pick Nick's nager out in more detail at a greater distance than D'zoll, or pretty much anybody, can.
D'zoll: Do you want to be alone to do it, or should we all, um, gang up on him at once?
Nick is indeed feeling ~~ pleased ~~, and not just because he managed to make the trip without suffering a mishap like Shorsh.
Katsura: I think ganging up is very much contraindicated. Do you think a little one-on-one Wild Gen wrangling on your part might help him clarify his thoughts, D'zoll?
Nick is carrying not one, but two bags of goodies.
D'zoll: Quite possibly. But I think you should go first.
Katsura: Yes, I will.
Katsura thinks with ~~ pleasure ~~ of being alone with Nick, with nothing to do but enjoy his nager to the utmost, and trying to induce greater intimacy. ~~ remembered frustration ~~
D'zoll: Ouch. That doesn't zlin so good. Maybe I should go first after all?
Katsura: Sorry about that. I've wished he could... lower his reserve further with me, and he has, but... not as much as I'd like.
Shorsh pats her shoulder.
Nick opens the door, brightening the ambient with ~~ good cheer ~~.
Shorsh ~~ brightens ~~ too.
Nick: We're in luck! There was not only coffee, but a few other goodies as well.
Shorsh ~~ brightens ~~ further. ~~ appetite ~~
Katsura can't help feeling Shorsh's appetite as her own.
Nick puts his bags down, careful not to spill the liquids, and shrugs out of his coat. He then opens the first bag.
Nick: Let's see: two lattes, a mocha and a hot chocolate...
Shorsh spreads ~~ pleasurable anticipation ~~ through the merged nagers.
Nick passes Kat the hot chocolate, with the ~~ pleasure ~~ of a Companion caring for his channel, then distributes the lattes.
Katsura strokes Nick's hand with a tentacle.
D'zoll: Thanks, Nick.
D'zoll struggles not to gulp his latte.
Katsura: Here, sit by me.
Nick does so, and takes a sip of his mocha in the fashion that got Arat drinking when he wasn't sure he wanted to. He isn't worried about dehydration with Kat, but old habits die hard, and the mocha is worth savoring, anyway.
Nick then sets the mocha down and opens the other bag, which has interesting grease stains.
Shorsh watches with ~~ interest ~~.
Nick: Some of these scones have cheddar cheese, and some have cranberries. Preferences?
D'zoll: Cranberries, cranberries!
Nick passes out scones.
Shorsh: Did you need to ask? Sweets for the Simes, solid food for the rest of us.
Nick: They do make a good snack, don't they? And they go particularly well with coffee.
Katsura: They do indeed, Nick. Thank you.
Katsura nibbles her scone.
D'zoll: And fruits make Simes HAPP-EE!
Katsura strokes Nick's hand with a tentacle again.
Nick is ~~ pleased ~~ that his efforts have been appreciated. He's still new enough to appreciation to notice it.
Shorsh notes Kat's interest in touching Nick with ~~ approval ~~.
Nick thinks that it's good to be gathered with friends and refreshments; he doesn't make the analogy with family because he never enjoyed gathering with his relatives.
Katsura: Nick, may I draw you into the nageric merge the three of us have going here? It's another of those in-House things.
Nick takes a moment to "feel" the nageric balance of the room, reading as much as a Gen can about what's going on.
Katsura: Relinquish to me, about level five, then further as you feel comfortable with it as I proceed.
Nick takes a moment to ~~ center ~~ himself, so as not to upset the balance between the others when the link is formed, then ~~ relinquishes ~~ smoothly.
Katsura sighs with ~~ pleasure ~~ as Nick hands over control of his nager to her, then skillfully and smoothly draws him in, gradually more deeply as he relinquishes further.
D'zoll uses his field to try to help Kat help lead Nick into the full sharing.
Katsura: How's that, Nick? What do you feel?
Nick: It feels... comfortable.
Shorsh can feel the change as a fourth nager is added, and the increased richness of the merge.
Katsura strokes Nick's hand with a lateral, without protecting it with her handling tentacles.
Nick lets himself ~~ feel ~~ the pleasure of the ronaplin tingling, letting it resonate among the other three.
Katsura closes her eyes and enjoys the dynamic balance of the disparate fields and delicate process of sustaining that balance.
Nick has a ~~ thoughtful ~~ ~~ introverted ~~ look on his face, as he concentrates on what's happening to his nager.
Katsura hasn't had a chance to truly revel in her extreme discernment for some time, and gets great ~~ pleasure ~~ from zlinning the way the unique flavor of Nick's beautiful nager adds to the character of the merge.
Nick takes a sip of his mocha, letting the rich liquid rest on his tongue as the sensation reverberates through the linkage.
Katsura has a sip of her hot chocolate, reinforcing the effect.
Nick has only 75% of his notorious sire's capacity for ~~ hedonistic pleasure ~~, but that's still a lot.
Katsura: D'zoll, do you zlin [technobabble about subtleties only zlinnable by very high rated channels]?
D'zoll inhales, exhales, and zlins.
Shorsh smiles ~~ indulgently ~~ and with ~~ great affection ~~ for the Farris channels he ~~ loves deeply ~~. He finds these nageric games ~~ extremely pleasurable ~~ in his own high-rated Farris Gen way.
Nick considers the technobabble, then ever-so-slightly adjusts his nager to cooperate more with Katsura and heighten the effect as he reaches to run a finger lightly down her arm, over the tentacle sheaths.
Katsura responds with a sigh and a flush of something like ~~ intil without need, intil combined with satisfaction ~~.
Shorsh sips his latte, concentrating on the ~~ balance ~~ between the ~~ bitter ~~ of the coffee and the ~~ smooth richness ~~ of the milk, as well as the ~~ soothing warmth ~~ of the liquid.
Nick adds to the blend the ~~ rich, crumbling sweetness ~~ of his scone, melding the flavors with an expertise that would do a winemaker proud.
D'zoll floats away on the nageric projection while he snarfs his snack.