Fantasies and Realities: Episode 2

Nick has coaxed his channel out for a walk in the rose garden behind the main Sime Center in Capital .

Katsura is ~~ enjoying ~~ the fresh air, sunshine, beautiful roses and the beautiful nager of her Companion.

Nick feels that some de-stressing is required, after a long and ambiguous meeting with their Controller about the possibilities for a rotation transfer for Kat. He isn't satisfied with the possible options.

Nick has not yet gotten around to worrying about his own transfer.

Katsura: Don't worry, Nick. We Sat'htine Farrises are pretty tough, considering.

Katsura knows the Controller won't dare assign her someone inadequate.

Nick: That doesn't mean I want to turn you over to any Donor who thinks he can handle a Farris.

Katsura: If I disagree with the Controller about the Donor's competence, I'll telegraph Sectuib if necessary.

Nick: Good.

Nick finds that promise ~~ reassuring ~~.

Katsura: After all, he can send me someone from Sat'htine, if necessary.

Nick: He can, if there's enough time.

Katsura: Oh, we'll be sure there is. And someone can be here in a few days.

Katsura smiles and strokes Nick's forearm.

Katsura: See how useful it is to have more Companions than channels?

Nick grins.

Nick: It's a beautiful luxury.

Katsura: For the channels it is.

Katsura knows that Nick will eventually have to skip a transfer and be on call for emergencies, like a Farris changeover. There's a rota.

Nick: Believe me, it's not fun for a Companion to try to care for more than one channel.

Katsura: But you did it, and did it well.

Katsura strokes Nick's forearm again, and her face shows her pride and admiration.

Nick: I did it. For a short time, and at the cost of both channel's health and sanity.

Katsura: Well, I think you get credit for preserving as much of their health and sanity as they had left. At the cost of your own health and wellbeing.

Nick: I ended up a lot healthier than they did.

Katsura remembers the state Nick was in when she first met him. She zlins with pleasure just how much good being her Companion has been for him.

Katsura: Well, they were both far from healthy when you first met them.

Nick: True.

Katsura: Really, Nick, I don't think you could have done any better for them.

Nick: Probably not. At least, not without at least one other Donor around who could get a good transfer into both of them.

Katsura: Few are as irresistible as you are.

Katsura projects a little ~~ intil ~~ just to have the pleasure of Nick's automatic response.

Nick smiles in ~~ pleasure ~~.

Lanard comes walking into the rose garden. She's a young Sime, perhaps two years old, wearing a bright red cloak that unfortunately clashes badly with her bright red vest and trousers. She wanders around a bit, stopping occasionally to smell the roses, although most of them are bred more for looks than scent.

Lanard's nager is that of a high non-Farris First or low-end Farris, but the black string tie identifies her as the latter. At least that looks pretty good next to the white collar of the cloak.

Nick's left hand is now entwined with Kat's right, although his right hand is busily knocking off a stray shoot from below the graft line of the nearest rose bush.

Katsura is aware of the young woman and thinks she can identify her from her clothes and nager.

Lanard wanders about a bit more, then finally decides to make a beeline for the pair. She zlins ~~ nervous ~~ beneath her ~~ confident ~~ showfield.

Lanard: Hajene Ka-Katsura? Sosu Nick? They told me I'd f-find you out here.

Katsura: Yes, we are. And you are Hajene...

Lanard: Lanard. Lanard ambrov Nysek. Respect to the house of S-Sat'htine from Nysek.

Katsura: Respect to Nysek from Sat'htine, Sectuib Lanard.

Nick nods politely in greeting.

Nick's very ~~ mellow ~~ nager does zlin relaxing, however.

Katsura tries to remember what she knows about the House of Nysek, other than that it's small and not at all important in the political scheme of things, and it unexpectedly spawned a Farris who is now its Sectuib.

Lanard: Um, ah, yes. I'm not exactly used to the t-title yet.

Katsura: I would imagine it would take some getting used to.

Katsura expects to have further decades before she herself will have to get used to it.

Nick makes a mental note to ask Kat about this Householding Nysek later.

Lanard: I have a l-letter ... But I should tell you ... Ah, can we start over?

Lanard looks very young and anxious, although she is ~~ keeping a stiff upper lip ~~ nagerically.

Katsura smiles, projecting ~~ reassurance ~~ and ~~ kindness ~~.

Katsura: Of course.

Nick backs up Kat's projection.

Katsura absently notices that Lanard is approximately in synch with her.

Lanard's speech that she had so carefully planned comes out all in one breath.

Lanard: As I'm sure you know the House of Nysek is a rather small house and not a Farris one but I turned out to be a Farris sport and my father thought it necessary to resign in my favor and just hold the House for me as Regent and then he d-died and I don't have any proper transfer partners in-House but very fortunately ...

Lanard takes a breath.

Lanard: But very fortunately I was able to make a c-commercial arrangement with your Sectuib Hiram to b-b-b- obtain the services of Sosu Nick for this month in exchange for some of Nysek's p-p-p-p-product. And here's the letter from Sectuib Hiram explaining all about it.

Nick looks at Kat in ~~ inquiry ~~.

Katsura feels some ~~ compassion ~~ for a channel who can't be sure of finding an adequate transfer, but wonders what Sectuib is up to.

Lanard is holding onto the ~~ ruins of her composure ~~, but manages to put a hand into a pocket of the cloak and draw out a letter with the familiar Sat'htine seal on it.

Katsura takes the letter, opens it and holds it so Nick can read it with her.

Nick scans the letter over Kat's shoulder.

Dear Nick & Kat:

The bearer of this letter is Sectuib Nysek, who needs a Farris-level transfer pretty badly. If you could see your way to it, Sat'htine would appreciate it. She's traded several kegs of Nysek's best brandy -- which is pretty shenned good -- for the opportunity. But of course if you have a personal issue, I understand.

Yrs, Hiram.

Nick looks at Lanard with a bit more ~~ professional interest ~~ than previously.

Katsura is amused by Nick's interest, but not at all worried. She has no doubt that Nick can manage the young channel, and Sectuib will likely send her a Sat'htine Companion under the circumstances.

Nick knew he would not be having transfer with Kat this month, after all.

Nick: Brandy, eh? What grape do you use?

Lanard stops stuttering completely as she replies enthusiastically with more detail than most people would like to know.

Nick's questions show more than a passing acquaintance with the process of producing fermented beverages.

Lanard: And the terroir at Nysek is considered to be one of the best in the whole Southern Nivet growing zone ...

Katsura is further amused both by Lanard's enthusiasm for the details of her Householding's chief product, and Nick's interest and apparent knowledge of the subject.

Lanard finally notices that Kat isn't participating in the conversation either verbally or nagerically, and calls herself to a halt.

Nick looks at Kat.

Katsura: Well, Nick, it looks like Sectuib has bartered your services, if you're willing. Are you? Do you think you're worth a few kegs of prime brandy?

Lanard: I realize that ... well, that you c-can't make up your mind right away, but ...?

Nick makes a ~~ show ~~ of considering.

Nick: Only if I get to sample the product.

Katsura laughs.

Katsura: I'll make sure Sectuib gives you a sip.

Lanard: It's a little early in the morning, but I d-do happen to have a small ...

Lanard reaches into another pocket and pulls out a flask.

Nick accepts the flask and opens it.

Lanard: C-compliments of Nysek, Sosu, Hajene.

Nick: Thank you.

Katsura nods her ~~ thanks ~~.

Nick sniffs the flask judiciously, ~~ concentrating ~~.

Lanard smiles for the first time at this indication of expertise.

Katsura zlins Nick closely, with ~~ interest ~~.

Lanard zlins Nick too, though more subtly so as not to upset Kat.

Nick takes a professionally small sip and swishes, ~~ considering ~~. He swallows, focusing on the aftertaste.

Nick: Not bad. I can see why Hiram was open to the idea of a trade.

Lanard elevates her eyebrows.

Lanard: "Not bad"? That's the fifty-year-old stock, Sosu! It's been in the barrel longer than you and I have been alive, put together! ~~ indignation ~~

Katsura is amused at Lanard's reaction, noting that it's stutter-free as well as remarkably heated for the shy and hesitant young woman.

Nick chuckles, which as usual makes his nager ~~ sparkle ~~.

Nick: I'll admit that Nysek hasn't been wasting its cooperage and cellar space.

Lanard: Hmmp. ~~ mollified indignation ~~

Nick winks.

Lanard: Does that mean we have a d-deal?

Lanard is not a "closer" by nature, but she's seen it done often enough to know the ropes.

Nick looks at Kat and raises an eyebrow in ~~ inquiry ~~.

Katsura spreads hands and tentacles in a gesture that means it's okay with her if it's okay with him.

Nick briefly weighs the unappetizing alternative choices mentioned by their local Controller and the excellence of the brandy, and shrugs.

Nick: Why not? Provided the Controller agrees, I'm at your service, Sectuib Lanard.

Katsura: The Controller will defer to our Sectuib's wishes.

Lanard blows out her breath in immense ~~ relief ~~.

Katsura: We should arrange for the two of you to spend some time together, perhaps working a shift or two, before the transfer. Nick and I will write to our Sectuib and ask him to send me a Sat'htine Companion.

Nick is ~~ glad ~~ that Kat won't have to settle for the inadequate choices available locally.

Lanard: G-good. I'd be the last person to want anyone to be d-deprived of a good transfer.

Katsura eyes the two and zlins the ambient.

Katsura: In fact, I think I'll go catch up on some paperwork and let the two of you get to know each other. Nick, perhaps you can work on Sectuib Lanard a little. I think she can benefit from your skills.

Nick: All right. I'll meet you before our shift.

Lanard: Thank you, Hajene Katsura. ~~ gratitude ~~

Katsura: You're welcome, Sectuib Lanard. I can appreciate your situation.

Nick would just as soon not be obligated to help with administrivia.

Katsura: Okay, Nick. See you then.

Katsura turns back toward the Sime Center. She thinks Lanard would benefit from spending some time at Sat'htine, but doesn't know whether her responsibilities would permit. Maybe the House can loan her a Companion now and then.

Nick waits until Kat is far enough way not to be bothered (much) by it, and then offers Lanard ~~ light support ~~.

Nick: So, Sectuib Lanard, why don't you tell me a bit more about yourself?

Lanard ~~ leans ~~ on Nick, then abruptly ~~ stops ~~, then more tentatively starts to ~~ lean ~~ again.

Lanard: Uh. Well. I'm not a very interesting p-person -- yet, anyway. I'm only just barely out of First Year, you know. And I spent almost all of that trying to keep up with the other Farrises, all of which outrated me something awful.

Nick: Ah, that can't have been easy.

Nick lets a little ~~ sympathy ~~ color his projection, which he has by now managed to almost perfectly mesh with Lanard's nager.

Lanard: No. It wasn't. And all so impersonal! I mean, they all treated me like a p-piece of meat, and Grade Z meat at that.

Lanard feels the tiniest trace of ~~ intil ~~ at the superb quality of Nick's field, but quickly represses all traces of it.

Lanard: Only fit to be thrown to the dogs ... Oh, I'm sorry, am I upsetting you?

Nick: No. What are you like when you're not imitating Grade Z meat?

Lanard takes a deep breath and shakes her head.

Nick is sincerely ~~ interested ~~.

Lanard: Maybe some day I'll find out, eh?

Nick chuckles, which makes his nager ~~ sparkle ~~.

Nick: The nice thing about being a work in progress is that it's easy to change your final destination, if you find a better one.

Lanard laughs, a bit hesitantly at first but then with more ~~ energy ~~.

Lanard: Are you a work in progress too?

Nick: Of course.

Lanard: Hajene K-Katsura seemed pretty finished to me, though. I can t-tell you're quite the c-couple.

Nick: Kat may have her basic structure down, but there's plenty of sanding and polishing left to do.

Lanard: Sanding ... Oh. You're a carpenter too?

Nick: Not an expert one, but I've done a little rough work, here and there.

Lanard: Hmm.

Nick: Just enough to appreciate the work of those who really know what they're doing.

Lanard: Perhaps you could do a little ... sanding and polishing on me while you are at it? ~~ nageric flirtation, ultra-cautious type ~~

Nick: Ah, you've some rough edges that could use some work?

Nick increases his support just enough to start undoing some of the kinks, in a subtle fashion that is effective but hardly noticeable to the channel he's working on.

Lanard: Of c-course. I'm only a little channel from the sticks, and you're the big bad rogue, well, former rogue, from the big Householding.

Lanard chuckles self-deprecatingly.

Nick: As far as that goes, as a Sectuib you've been in the center of things for a lot longer than I have. Most of my life, I lived very far away from the center of things, indeed.

Lanard thinks that Nick is just what she always wanted -- a non-standard, non-Farris, non-rigid Gen. Maybe she can begin to drop a hint or two about what she really wants for this transfer.

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