Till Death Do Us Part: Episode 18

Crynwyr is sitting in Seruffin's waiting room. He opened a book the other day, for the first time in a while, and the page it opened to said "It furthers one to see the Great Man." He wishes his affairs to be furthered, so he has gone to see Seruffin, the Great Man he's dealt with in the past.

Pollovic enters the Sime Center waiting room for the fourth consecutive day. Channels can, after all, heal bones, he's learned; it simply takes a few days longer than soft tissue.

Pollovic closes his eyes and takes a slow (but not too deep) breath, trying to get his resurging ~~ fear ~~ under control. He mustn't let it set in as a phobia. He mustn't. He mustn't.

Pollovic opens his eyes and looks around. There's no one here, not even a receptionist. He shrugs and heads down the hall, to the wing where Seruffin has his private office. He enters the small waiting area near Seruffin's office, then stops. There's someone here ahead of him. A Sime. ~~ fear ~~

Crynwyr wonders why a fearful Gen, who's also in pain, would be coming to Seruffin's office. Still, the rules are the rules.

Crynwyr: Good day, gentleman. May I do you a service of some kind? Crynwyr, channel Second.

Pollovic: Um, hello. Brenn Pollovic. I was looking for Hajene Seruffin. There was no one around out front.

Crynwyr: For purposes medical, or political, if you permit my question?

Pollovic manages a small chuckle. Is anything in this city not political, at least a bit?

Pollovic: Medical. He's been working on my ribs.

Crynwyr: So I zlin ... Oh, Pollovic! Respect, Senator, if you are the Senator as I suppose.

Pollovic smiles his well-worn politician's smile.

Pollovic: I am.

Crynwyr: I was perif- peraf- marginally involved in your incident, Senator.

Pollovic: Oh?

Pollovic gingerly seats himself in the chair farthest from Crynwyr.

Pollovic: Then thank you for your help that night.

Pollovic's words are gracious, but his nager radiates ~~ fear ~~ , not gratitude.

Crynwyr: It was I who admitted the mom of your new Sime into the Center when looking for her child.

Pollovic nods.

Pollovic: Bethida?

Crynwyr: Just so. She demanded, cannot fathom why, to see the bloody shirt as actual evidence.

Pollovic understands. But how can he explain it, to a channel whose thick accent says he hasn't spent much time on this side of the border?

Pollovic: It's very hard for any parent to reconcile themselves to the loss of a child.

Crynwyr: True, but child not lost, nor dead!

Pollovic: To her, by everything she's always believed, he was as soon as he changed over.

Crynwyr: Well, we differ. Unsuitless to argue with a man suffering from such trauma as yours, and somewhat the result of a Sime to boot.

Crynwyr smiles as affably as he can manage.

Pollovic: I didn't say I agreed with her.

Pollovic's nager suggests ~~ uncertainty ~~ .

Crynwyr: Oh, quite so. Still, fact that you are now fearful of me shows that the incident cannot be effectless on you.

Pollovic: I've made it my life's cause to promote Unity, so people wouldn't have to feel that way. But...

Pollovic takes a deep breath, then winces at his ribs.

Crynwyr: But your own feeling not necessarily on track with your ideals?

Pollovic: Not since that night.

Pollovic finds it a difficult admission.

Crynwyr nods sympathetically.

Crynwyr: Some of my clients very desirous to donate, but still afraid when it come to it. Your problem -- same thing on different level, I think.

Pollovic: I've donated... many times.

Pollovic realizes he's actually lost count of how many.

Pollovic: But I don't know if I'll be able to, next time.

Crynwyr: That is why I say, on different level. Oh, I have the utmost confidence in it!

Pollovic: You do? ~~ surprise ~~ and ~~ skepticism ~~

Crynwyr: Oh yes. They have saying here out-Territory, fall off horse, climb back on at once, eh?

Pollovic: I keep telling myself that.

Pollovic winces at his ribs again.

Pollovic: Both literally and figuratively.

Crynwyr: Fig -- oh, horse, you fell off, yes. I forgot. But any man with courage enough to donate for the first time with thousand Gens looking on, has also enough intelligence not to submit to whims of undermind, yes?

Pollovic: I think the horse will be easier than the tentacles. Um, undermind?

Crynwyr: Undermind is the part of person that does, says things without intention or apparent reason. Responsible for slippings of the tongue, brain farts, and creativity.

Pollovic: And for feelings that go against all reason?

Crynwyr: Exactably!

Pollovic: In the past, I've found those feelings, those gut instincts, are often the wisest part of me. This time...

Pollovic gives a cautious shrug.

Crynwyr: Well, undermind is bruised now, reacts badly. Not really very shiny, more like animal's mind.

Crynwyr: You have seen hit dog?

Pollovic nods, ~~ puzzled ~~ .

Crynwyr: It dringes even from people who have not hit it, eh?

Crynwyr makes like a cringing dog.

Pollovic tries out the word "dringes" on the back of his tongue, then catches on and nods.

Pollovic: You mean cringes?

Crynwyr: Ah, yes. Excuse it please. In any case, your trauma is not just a matter of damaged ribs -- damaged undermind likewise.

Pollovic: And how do I heal that? ~~ intrigued ~~ but ~~ fearful ~~

Crynwyr: By a channel, of course! But not me, not Seruffin -- specialist. Could recommend one.

Pollovic: Who?

Pollovic is skeptical enough of this unfamiliar channel that he plans to get a second opinion from Seruffin on anyone Crynwyr recommends.

Crynwyr: Hajene D'zoll ambrov Sat'htine is one I know of.

Pollovic: D'zoll? I know him!

Crynwyr: Ah, excellent! Well, send telegram, say you need him to get over trauma from too-close exposure to berserker. He is, as I understand, specialist in Wi- umm, out-Territory Gens.

Pollovic: I'll do that.

Pollovic is ~~ relieved ~~ to have a plan of action, and a lead to someone who's not a total stranger.

Pollovic: Thanks for the tip.

Crynwyr: Ah, excellent. Well, since Seruffin is still not return, perhaps I offer you a measure of reduction in pain of more physical type? Though not First, I am channel.

Pollovic is suddenly ~~ frightened ~~ again. Seruffin's the only channel he's allowed near him since that night.

Pollovic braces himself.

Pollovic: All right. But not here in the open.

Crynwyr: Okay. Doubt if office is locked, so perhaps we occupy?

Crynwyr gets up and makes the "after you" gesture, with hands only, not tentacles.

Pollovic nods and stands, stiffly. He crosses to the office door, and only just stops himself from knocking before he tries the doorknob and enters. He peels off his jacket and drapes it over a chair, then starts on the buttons of his shirt cuffs.

Crynwyr follows, and closes the door with a glance at Pollovic to make sure it's okay.

Crynwyr: Okay, all good. Take chair, assume the position.

Crynwyr pulls Seruffin's chair around from behind the desk.

Pollovic: Seruffin says I should be fit to travel after two or three more days of treatments.

Pollovic seats himself as indicated. This part is routine by now.

Crynwyr: Well, I will not be able to treat as he would, but can at least relieve pain. Seruffin has cautioned you about problems with pure pain relief, eh?

Pollovic nods.

Pollovic: That I have to remember that I'm still injured, even if it doesn't hurt. And not overdo it.

Crynwyr: Just so.

Crynwyr offers his hands for Pollovic to grasp.

Crynwyr: [coaxingly] Try now. All will be well.

Pollovic hesitates, ~~ fear ~~ , then closes his eyes and sticks his hands out blindly.

Crynwyr takes a deep breath, lets it out, remembers the lecture on consent versus willingness from channel school, and grasps Pollovic's hands. He doesn't allow time for Pollovic's anxiety to spike, but proceeds immediately to wrap his arms with his handling tentacles as well.

Crynwyr: All good now, eh?

Pollovic gives a tight nod. ~~ fear ~~

Crynwyr: [soothingly] Nothing to fear, not even fear itself.

Crynwyr drops his laterals on Pollovic's cool Gen skin, moves in for the lip contact, and begins to deep zlin Pollovic's body, ignoring his emotions as much as possible. He reduces as much as possible the inflammation around the fractures and damps the nerves without making them completely insensate.

Crynwyr continues healing, ignoring the bones themselves, until...

Pollovic begins to struggle. Seruffin didn't use lip contact for his healing. ~~ fear ~~ escalating towards ~~ panic ~~

Crynwyr can't help reacting to the panic as he's trained to: he dismantles the connection in proper order and returns to duoconsciousness.

Pollovic is on his feet before he can stop himself.

Crynwyr calls loudly but not angrily:

Crynwyr: Wait!

Pollovic takes a few harsh, shaky breaths, then drops back into the chair.

Crynwyr: See? Worked. You endured it -- not without fear, but you endured it.

Pollovic: It --

Pollovic shudders, and tucks his hands into his armpits.

Pollovic: I think it'll be harder next time, after that.

Crynwyr: I must beg to disagree in that case based on my experience. The horse did not run out from under you this time, eh?

Pollovic: Seruffin didn't... didn't do the lip contact. Said he didn't have to, when he wasn't taking selyn.

Crynwyr: Ah, doubtless. He is a First, I am a Second, that is typical. Firsts can do things Seconds would not dare to try. We are, ah, by the book channels.

Pollovic grabs at the safe, abstract side of the situation.

Pollovic: I've never really understood what those numbers mean.

Crynwyr has his share of Geek Answer Syndrome, and is glad to cooperate.

Crynwyr: Well, is measure of power, speed, capacity, rarity. Firsts very rare, can do nageric tricks like restart stopped heart of your colleague Tsibola, for example. Work hard, do many functionals without getting tired, hold much selyn from many Gens. Perhaps one in ten thousand Simes are Firsts.

Crynwyr ticks off his points on his tentacles.

Pollovic gives a cautious nod of understanding.

Crynwyr: Seconds -- basic channel type, one in a thousand Simes maybe. Good effective channels, backbone of the Tecton: draw selyn from Gens, give to Simes, do healing if not too difficult, do whatever needed by given situation.

Crynwyr: We have saying: Firsts are specials, Seconds simply labor.

Pollovic: I think a lot of the channels I've met have been Firsts. Seruffin, Katsura, D'zoll.

Pollovic tries to think who else. He actually hadn't noticed the rating of most of the channels who've taken his monthly donations.

Crynwyr: All correctness. You are, after all, very important Gen, so you tend to meet Simes also of importance. And Firsts dominate society in-Territory, mostly.

Pollovic: Oh. Okay.

Pollovic finds this fitting with bits and pieces he'd already understood. He hadn't realized Firsts were so rare, though.

Crynwyr: Lastly, Thirds are one in a hundred. Basically limited to draw selyn, dispense selyn, but absolutely vital in early days of Unity.

Crynwyr: Discovery of Thirds, who are not obvious channels even to Simes, made it possible to distribute selyn over whole of Nivet sys-, systemantically. Much better than shipping around whole Gens to be killed, ha!

Pollovic shudders. ~~ fear ~~

Crynwyr: Ah, appo-pollogies. Should not have mentioned.

Pollovic realizes, belatedly, that it was supposed to be some kind of joke. He forces a laugh.

Crynwyr: Thirds typically sent to small border stations, rural in-Territory locations, etcetera etcetera. Unlikely you have met any, I think.

Pollovic shrugs. He really isn't sure.

Crynwyr: Likewise Donors, big D, come in three flavors correspondent, First, Second, and Third. The higher the channel rating, the more dependent on Donor of same rating. Firsts strong, but, umm, brittle. Farrises are top of Firsts, so even more so.

Pollovic: Hajene Katsura's a Farris, right? And D'zoll said he was her cousin. But, um... not Seruffin?

Crynwyr: Not. Farris is special. Goes with hair, nose, etcetera.

Pollovic finds it odd that Seruffin isn't, apparently, the highest rated of the channels he's met.

Crynwyr scratches his balding head with one tentacle.

Pollovic: So... not Seruffin, or Gerrhonot. Or Nick?

Pollovic is so lost in learning something new that he has temporarily forgotten his fear.

Crynwyr: Not Farris, no. First, yes. Veeery beautiful nager, Sosu Nick has.

Crynwyr gets a bit misty-eyed.

Pollovic smiles.

Pollovic: Is that why he's so popular with the ladies?

Pollovic is thinking of one lady in particular, since his mother wouldn't know a nager from a nautilus.

Crynwyr: Also very handsome man, I think. Simes like him, women like him, women Simes like him a lot, a lot.

Pollovic nods. He recognizes male good looks, even though they don't particularly do anything for him except stir occasional bits of envy.

Crynwyr: That no doubt why he get into much trouble over years, ha!

Pollovic laughs; this time he actually gets one of Crynwyr's bits of humor.

Pollovic: I think Hajene Kat's going to have her hands full.

Crynwyr winks at Pollovic.

Crynwyr: And that the good part.

Pollovic suddenly realizes that he's been relaxing and joking with a Sime. Immediately, he tenses.

Crynwyr responds by sticking his head forward on his neck.

Crynwyr: What up?

Pollovic: Um, I should get going.

Pollovic doesn't really have a schedule to follow, since he'd expected to be out of town by now, so the statement reeks of ~~ falsehood ~~ .

Crynwyr: Re-eally? Or have you perhaps just remembered that I am Sime, not just male?

Pollovic tries not to fidget under the channel's gaze.

Crynwyr smiles affectionately at the nervous Gen.

Pollovic: Um, don't get me wrong; I appreciate what you're trying to do. But... I don't think it's working.

Crynwyr: On contrariwise. It is working, just not consistently. Today, hard; tomorrow, easier.

Pollovic: Horse that threw me. Yes, I know.

Crynwyr: Excellent. In any case, I unlike new husband do have schedule to keep. So farewell, Senator. Best of lucks to you.

Pollovic finds himself on the brink of some very unmanly tears. ~~ embarrassment ~~

Crynwyr rises.

Crynwyr: Oh, and Senator?

Pollovic: Hmm?

Crynwyr: Crying releases stress chemicals in body, so good thing to do. All Sime Territory peoples cry, channels cry extra. How you say, go for it.

Pollovic shakes his head.

Pollovic: Doesn't work that way here.

Crynwyr: If necessary, go home, go to bed, put head under pillow first. My word as a channel, it will help. Could even say "medically necessary."

Pollovic: Actually, bed sounds like a fine idea. I'm exhausted.

Pollovic finds exhaustion the least unacceptable excuse for his weakness.

Crynwyr: That also. Go home, say good night to staff, slide under bedstuffs. In the morning, wake up.

Crynwyr extends his hands, tentacles retracted, to help Pollovic up from the chair.

Crynwyr: Come.

Pollovic determinedly gets up with as little help as possible.

Crynwyr slaps Pollovic lightly on the back in good Gen T fashion.

Crynwyr: Go home, there's a good fellow.

Pollovic: Thank you.

Pollovic leaves the office, feeling oddly ~~ guilty ~~ for making so much trouble for the channel.

Crynwyr waits until Pollovic is out of zlinning range, and leaves too, feeling oddly ~~ guilty ~~ for not being able to do more to help the Senator.

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