Saag is sitting on a bench in Senator Pollovic's garden, trying to assimilate the surrealistic experience of being back in New Washington, but with his new Sime senses.
Saag is glad to be away from all the untrained nagers and commotion as the wedding preparations continue in the mansion. It's also very soothing to have Sosu Ettil with him.
Ettil is a little old for such excitement, but she ~~ tired ~~ herself out, so she is ~~ glad ~~ of the bench.
Ettil: It certainly is busy inside.
Saag: Yes. I'm glad I've got you to help me cope. It's wonderful what you can do.
Saag, as a renSime, doesn't often get nageric support from a Donor.
Ettil: It's very kind of you to say so, but I'm only a Third, Saag. I expect you haven't spent much time around Firsts, have you?
Saag: I had transfer from one once.
Ettil: Then you know the difference.
Saag: Well, I was sort of focused on taking transfer, and after I was hypoconscious, so I didn't really get to zlin the Donor much. But I never had a Donor really focus on me like you do.
Ettil: You've never been in a situation where you required an Escort.
Saag: No, not like this. I'm not much over a year old.
Ettil: You must be doing well, to afford a trip out-Territory.
Saag: Senator Pollovic is paying for everything. My sister really wants me to be at her wedding.
Ettil: Well, naturally.
Lilah takes very seriously her duties as one of Pametta's bridesmaids, so she took it upon herself to drop in on Pametta's future mother-in-law with some lists and a couple of fabric swatches for last-minute matching. Pametta has told her that Saag is here for the wedding, and she's ~~ curious ~~ . She remembers Saag from when they were just kids together.
Saag: Yes, but... well, a Sime... isn't exactly socially acceptable at something like that, around here.
Ettil: From what you've told me about your sister and her fiance, they don't seem to worry about that particular social convention.
Saag: Yes, but they're unusual. My sister is the only one who cared that I survived changeover, and she started donating and assigning me her donations. My parents were really mad about it when they found out.
Ettil: At least that's progress in the right direction.
Saag: It made a huge difference to have help like that with my selyn taxes.
Ettil: I'm sure it did.
Lilah is following a tip from one of the servants, and is now searching the extensive Pollovic gardens for the Sime. She turns to her friend and fellow bridesmaid, Genavive, as they come to a fork in the path.
Lilah: You take that side, Gennie. I'll try this way.
Genavive smiles, as she always does, and nods, going in the direction she has been given.
Lilah wanders through the garden. She pauses to sniff a rose, being careful not to catch her lace sleeve on the thorns.
Saag: I zlin a couple of young women over there.
Saag gestures to help the Gen. He can hardly remember how it was before he could zlin, and wouldn't have realized they were over there until he could see or hear them. He does remember that it seemed normal at the time, not like being blind or deaf.
Ettil: Oh, dear. Do you want to move on, so we won't disturb them?
Genavive minces daintily about the garden mindful of her new taffeta.
Ettil really would prefer to rest a bit longer, but she's a Donor, and her charge's welfare comes first.
Lilah smiles dreamily. Before it all went wrong, there was a time when she thought she might grow up to marry Saag. He was sure cute as a boy. Too bad about how he turned out.
Saag can zlin that Ettil's tired, and wants to be as kind and attentive to her as he can.
Saag: Maybe I'll just sit on the other side of you so they'll see you first.
Ettil: That's very considerate of you.
Saag gets up and does so, grateful to have a Donor nager between him and two potentially panicking strangers.
Genavive isn't really acquainted with Saag since her family has only fleeting ties with the family but one serves as best one can.
Ettil scoots to the side so Saag can settle on her other side.
Lilah comes to another fork in the meandering path and turns left, unaware that she's moving farther from her goal.
Genavive sweeps through an opening in the shrubbery into the next garden-room occupied by the objects of her search.
Genavive: Ah, there you two are ~~vibrant triumph~~.
Ettil tries to ~~ support ~~ her charge from this untrained Gen.
Genavive: I'm Gennie, Genavive actually.
Saag is glad that she zlins positive, and hopes that it isn't due to mistaken identity.
Saag: Hello. I'm Pametta's brother Saag, and this is Sosu Ettil.
Ettil: Pleased to meet you.
Genavive curtsies as she has been trained to do in the presence of an older person and presents her hand to the young man.
Saag nods to her, but doesn't offer his hand.
Saag: Pleased to meet you, Genavive.
Genavive: Oh, sorry I forgot Simes don't like to touch strange Gens. ~~ sparkling good humor ~~
Ettil: It's usually best not to.
Saag relaxes a little. This young woman clearly has some experience in dealing with Simes.
Genavive: My twin sister changed over three years ago. In case you're wondering. ~~ passing whiff of loss ~~
Genavive: We still correspond and we've seen each other twice.
Saag: Oh, that's good. I bet she really appreciates that.
Ettil: I'm glad to hear that, dear. So many families are broken up when it isn't necessary.
Genavive: I intend to go to university in Capital next year but she's already graduated. So I'll be living with her. She always was the fast one. ~~ giggle ~~
Saag: First Year is really great. I wish I could have gone to university during my First Year.
Genavive: I've been taking classes in "Nivet Manners". I hope I haven't offended. ~~ gently concerned ~~
Ettil: Not at all.
Saag: Your nageric control is really good for someone out-T.
Genavive curtsies again.
Saag is a bit taken with this.... oh, dear, he almost thought "civilized Wild Gen".
Genavive: Thank you most gracious Tuib.
Saag smiles quite naturally, much of his tension relaxed.
Lilah has accidentally wandered into the hedge maze, and gotten herself thoroughly turned around.
Lilah: Gennie? ~~ frustration ~~ Gennie!
Genavive: Lilah is around here somewhere.
Saag: She's over there.
Saag points to where he zlins her.
Genavive: Oh, why don't I see if I can fetch her?
Saag: Okay. I haven't seen her since before I changed over.
Genavive moves off in the direction Saag has indicated. ~~ purpose ~~
Genavive: Lilah, Liiilllaaahhh!
Lilah moves towards the sound.
Genavive: Follow my voice -- we're over here.
Lilah: Keep talking.
Saag: She's almost like an in-T Gen, Sosu. I wonder if there are more people out here who've learned to do that.
Lilah begins navigating her way through the maze. Having a voice to follow definitely helps.
Genavive: Over here! Right this way!!
Lilah emerges from between two hedgerows.
Genavive: There you are! ~~ happy to see her friend ~~
Lilah: Ah, there you are. ~~ relief ~~
Ettil is ~~ pleased ~~ that this Wild Gen isn't causing problems for her charge.
Lilah: Don't you start.
Lilah is used to being teased by her friends about how often she gets lost.
Genavive: Oh, I'll be good. I'm glad you are found.
Lilah: So you found him?
Genavive leads her friend over to the seated pair.
Genavive: Sosu Ettil, Tuib Saag, may I present my friend, Lilah.
Saag: Uh, hi, Lilah. Long time no see.
Lilah's eyes are entirely for the tall, handsome (if a bit skinny) man. Forgetting the tentacles, she moves forward.
Genavive moves out of the way.
Ettil notes Lilah's approach with increased ~~ caution ~~.
Lilah: Saag? Wow! ~~ appreciation and a touch of unladylike lust ~~
Saag: Yeah, me.
Saag cringes a little and wishes he could get behind Ettil.
Lilah gathers herself a bit.
Lilah: You're looking great.
Saag: Thanks, so are you.
Ettil reaches to put a hand on Saag's arm, discreetly.
Saag sidles a little closer to her, gratefully.
Lilah knows, realistically, that there's no way she can marry a Sime. But for the moment, it's as if the tentacles don't exist for her.
Lilah: Saag, I.... tell me what you've been doing with yourself. How things are going.
Lilah hopes she won't hear anything about a wife or girlfriend.
Saag: I'm okay. I'm working at the New Washington embassy, doing translations and stuff.
Genavive: Oh, that sounds fascinating. ~~impressed~~
Saag blushes. He does a lot more "stuff" than translating.
Lilah: Building a good career, then? ~~ hopeful ~~
Saag: Time will tell, I suppose.
Saag knows he needs more education if he hopes to rise to the kind of social status he was born to, and it doesn't look likely he'll get it.
Lilah doesn't want to let go of her impossible attraction. She glances down, suddenly ~~ shy ~~ , and sees the tentacles.
Lilah: Um. ~~ startlement ~~
Ettil is caught ~~ off guard ~~, and fails to completely block the startle.
Saag sucks the tentacles back into their sheaths, embarrassed that he forgot to keep them completely retracted.
Lilah gnaws at her lower lip, ruining her lipstick.
Genavive: Oh, dear! ~~ concern ~~ Did something hurt you Saag?
Saag, being a renSime, isn't all that sensitive, and at least Lilah isn't afraid or hostile.
Ettil offers an ~~ apology ~~ , and more ~~ support ~~.
Saag: Uh, no. I'm okay.
Lilah notices the Donor for the first time, and seizes upon her presence as a distraction.
Lilah: Um, hi. I'm Lilah. Lilah Canterbury.
Lilah offers a handshake.
Ettil: Sosu Ettil.
Lilah: Pleased to meet you.
Ettil reaches out to complete the Gen gesture,
Genavive rolls her eyes since she did introduce them earlier. ~~ not really aggrieved ~~
Ettil hopes the girl won't squeeze her hand too hard: despite the best efforts of her channels, her fingers are getting a bit ~~ stiff ~~.
Lilah has used the moments of formality to ~~ calm ~~ herself a little.
Lilah: Saag and I used to know each other when we were kids.
Lilah smiles reminiscently.
Ettil: How nice.
Lilah: I used to let him steal the strawberries off of my desserts.
Lilah always figured that was a blatant announcement of how sweet on him she was.
Lilah: I... ~~ awkward ~~ I guess a lot of things have changed.
Saag: Yes. For one thing, strawberries could kill me now. So your desserts are safe.
Lilah looks back up from Saag's tentacles to his face, trying to reconcile the old Saag she remembers with this Sime.
Lilah: That's too bad. I, um. I liked it when they weren't. ~~ regret ~~
Saag feels uncomfortable about Lilah, but he'd like to ask Genavive to look him up when she gets to Capital. Maybe they can get together for trin.
Ettil: Well, then, all you have to do to choose a dessert with chocolate, instead.
Lilah is also trying to reconcile the fear and disgust she feels towards Simes with her feelings towards Saag, then and now.
Genavive: Lilah, I've got a simply marvelous idea, maybe you could visit me at my sister's in Capital and we could all get together for tea.
Lilah seizes upon the suggestion with ~~ relief ~~ .
Lilah: And chocolate?
Genavive: But of course!
Lilah: That'll be good, then.
Ettil smiles at the young folks being young folks. There's something about a wedding.