Varanim One night before the talk with Crow, in the early hours of the morning, came the mental knock. ::Lucent?::
Lucent ::Varanim!:: His voice sounded so happy, as if hearing her voice was delight. ::Are we going to meet tonight? It has been a little while... is it something I said last time?::
Varanim There was a brief, possibly startled pause at his happy tone, and then Varanim said a little cautiously, ::It'd take me an hour to walk back to the Cascade, and it's raining.:: So it was, low and steady. ::Why don't we... try talking this way? Less yelling in the halls.::
Lucent ::You are away? Something I can help you with?:: His mental voice sounded incredibly hopeful, not at all deterred by her caution. Just wishing to hear that one thing. ::Well, we can also talk like this. I should use it more, really. It is like always being... there, right?::
Varanim ::Just out at the office, and... no, I don't think you can help with this bit.:: She sounds quite startled that he offered, and unseen to him she slouches deeper into her hammock and listens to the rain drip through the roof for a moment before "speaking" again. ::Actually, I wanted to ask you about something.::
Lucent There is something like a mental frown. She could 'hear' the frown. ::Ask away.::
Varanim ::After the Shadeborn, before you fixed the po-holes in my head, you... did something to yourself first. What was it?::
Lucent There is a pause. A longer pause than Lucent ever gave, as Varanim was used to seeing him speak before thinking, always. ::I was... taking a knife to my soul. Reinventing myself. I learned that after... they changed me. To change myself into... what I wanted to be.:: Another pause. ::You heard about when I went South, and made myself into the Adamant Sun? I did that, too, back then.::
Varanim A long pause follows on Varanim's end, though that's not so unusual. ::I heard... a bit, from Spring. Do you do that often?:: It's not entirely clear from her mental tone if she's asking out of Essence-related curiosity or more personal reasons.
Lucent ::Oh, no.:: Snap-answer, without thinking. ::That was only the third time.::
Varanim ::Oh,:: she says, in the conversational place where she normally says "huh" in a detached tone.
Varanim ::Wh--I mean, what's the process like?::
Lucent ::That depends. With Essence, with the sort of knowledge we forge in our Essence patterns, it is like taking a knife to your own self. Like cutting something away. Cutting long hair to nothing, carving away a finger or your skin. For more mundane knowledge, it is like... when you force yourself to forget something. Only you can do it, you really can, just... forget.::
Lucent ::I wanted to get some clutter out of the way, when I did that. It... was on the way of me being a better doctor. I wanted to be the best possible doctor when I did that. Calmer. Without the... things left from when I was pretending to be so young.::
Varanim Unseen, Varanim rubs the knuckle of the finger she cut off for her treehouse, healed now by Lucent that day in Netheos. ::Unless you do really wild styling, there's a gap between losing hair and losing digits.::
Varanim After another long moment, she adds, ::You did good work on Imrama. I'm not sure I've seen a better doctor, and I used to care about that sort of thing quite a bit.::
Lucent ::... well, true. But when you cut your hair, after it has been too long you feel... different. It will take dedication of years to make it grow anew... you know what I mean. And with such dedication digits... can come back. Could. Back then.:: He stops... and his voice comes, delighted, and curious. ::Why did you stop caring?::
Varanim ::I'm pretty sure I DON'T know what you mean about taking years of dedication to grow hair, but then I'm not the person in this conversation with a staff of six just to dress in the morning.:: Her mental voice is amused, maybe smirking, then there's a slightly awkward pause.
Varanim ::I dislike everyone including sick people, I found more interesting problems, and nobody likes to bend over and cough for a doctor with soulsteel fingers. Take your pick.::
Lucent ::I offered you that staff. It IS good to be king.:: He answers in the same amused way, trying to recall the length of the hair on Varanim the Younger... then stops. ::You do not dislike everyone. I was told you have used your abilities to bring people to Lethe.::
Varanim Varanim the Younger, as Lucent met her, in fact had longer hair--possibly one of those symbolic life changes, or just present-day grooming laziness. ::Are you sure you want to lean on that as a sign of benevolence, that I know how to send ghosts on to the final snooze? Maybe I just like watching the light go out of their eyes.:: There's a brief sense of her tilting her head, eyes...
Varanim ...mocking and sharp.
Lucent ::I am.:: His voice comes in a way she could HEAR his smile. ::You are a nurturer.::
Varanim ::You're delusional,:: she snorts, but without any particular focused derision--it could almost be affectionate. ::Anyway, that's all I wanted to ask, about that weird thing you did to yourself before mopping out my head.::
Lucent ::Like I do not hear that often enough, in this day and age...:: He sighs, but... content.
Varanim ::Well, anyway.:: Her voice is a little awkward. ::Go on back to... whatever, I think I've got the next squishy bit figured out here.::
Varanim ::Good... night?::
Lucent ::Wait. How long do you think this will take::
Varanim ::What? I don't know, a few hours. Why?::
Lucent ::Can we meet afterwards? Where we made up, on the Garden. If the Rain's past...::
Varanim ::Hm. I mean, sure, I guess. So... later, then?::
Lucent ::I am getting it to end RIGHT NOW!:: There is a sharp intake of breath, and the sound of thunder. ::... somehow. We need some way to control the weather here, we really do, I wonder if this is good for the city...:: The words tripped over each other, as if he was trying to find something to say. ::But... but thank you.::
Varanim ::You're... welcome? I didn't really--I mean, whatever. Work, talk to you later.:: Her mental voice sounds a little flustered as she "hangs up."
Lucent ::Wait, I l... I hope you are alright.:: He says, sighing. Around him, the garden where they made up, he was already there, and had been there when he got the message. "I like you." He said, to nothing in particular.