Furud is staring intently at a leaf that he's holding at arm's length, crouched, with his back against the rough bark of the old oak. His ragged breathing is slowly returning to normal and he has eased some of the tension from his body, though he is not by any means relaxed yet.
Antares was on the way to Maia's house, cutting through backyards, when she sees Furud and stops. "Hey," she says quietly, still a good ten feet away, as her eyes read his posture.
Furud transfers his intent stare from the leaf to her eyes. The leaf falls, but he does not move. "Hi." he says tonelessly.
Antares Hands in pockets, Antares makes no move to step closer. "I was coming to find out if my only two friends are still talking to each other."
Antares Her tone is as carefully flat as his.
Furud "I don't think so. No." Again, his voice is completely neutral, and he looks down at where his focus lays now, amongst a scattering of leaves. "I'm sorry," he offers, and reaches for it. It meets his hand half way. "Some things are so easy. But none of them are people."
Antares "Yeah." Antares sets her back to a tree and slides down to sit. She rests her hands on her knees and turns them palm-up to look at them for a moment, distantly. "Want me to talk to her, or let it rest?" It's harder to keep her voice steady, now.
Antares "I'm sorry," she adds after another moment.
Furud "And say what?" he asks bitterly. "She's been betraying me... all of us... for years. Giving Johnstone information. And pretending to be my friend to do it."
Antares Antares' hands clench, and she waits several seconds before answering. "Maia doesn't know how to pretend like that," she says carefully.
Furud "How do you know?" He snaps, "You've been gone." His fist clenches, and his heartbeat rises.
Antares breathes sharply in, lets it out, flattens her hands on her knees before answering. "Maia and I got to be friends after the accident, mostly. Music stuff. She's been a good friend, but I hated to lean on her too much, you know? I try to sort my own shit out."
Antares She takes another few seconds to even out her voice, then continues.
Antares "About a year and a half ago, right, I called her up in the middle of the night because I'd just found out I was pregnant and I didn't know who the fuck to talk to about it. I hadn't even seen her for months."
Antares "She hopped the first bus headed my direction, pawned her guitar for the money I needed, and went with me to the clinic."
Antares "And she hasn't said a word about it since, because Maia looks out for her friends."
Antares She stares at the ground between them, at the scattered leaves.
Furud looks up at her, startled at the revelation, and conflicting emotions play across his face. Finally, he says. "People do all kinds of things for the ones they love."
Antares Antares stands with a sudden motion. "I'm gonna go talk to her," she says, any subtext going completely over her head. "I know it's not gonna matter for long, but, shit. I just... I'll talk to her."
Furud looks down and seems to sag against the tree the slightest bit. "Yeah okay. I'll see you around, maybe."
Antares takes a couple of steps in Furud's direction, hesitates, crosses the rest of the distance and reaches down to squeeze his shoulder. "I dunno if I can fix it, but I'll try." She turns away before he can see the look on her face.