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Varanim After the talk with Crow but before the disastrous settlement with Lucent, Varanim is leaving the Cascade after one of her brief visits with a bundle under her arm and a grim set to her face. She looks into the dojo on her way out, mostly not expecting to find Spring awake in the wee hours of the morning.

Spring /me is not awake, as it happens, but he is in the dojo, sleeping on the mat, and stirs as Varanim approaches, then looks up.

Spring "Hello?"

Varanim "I have a possibly intractable question I think you've grappled with recently," Varanim says, coming inside. She looks notably more tired than usual, dark circles under her eyes.

Varanim "Oh, I should probably say something polite like 'sorry for waking you'."

Spring "Do not exert yourself unduly."

Spring 'What question is this?"

Varanim manages to slouch while sitting down cross-legged, which takes some practice to accomplish without back pain. "I think it's necessary for me to distance my relationships with the others for a while, such as they are. You ran into this problem, right?"

Spring "Not exactly."

Spring "My goal was to bring us closer together."

Varanim "Did it work?"

Spring "An excellent question, to which I have no easy answer."

Varanim "I'll bet you have some preliminary thoughts." Varanim steeples her fingers under her chin, looking at Spring with a sort of tired patience and no particular sarcasm.

Spring sighs. "Friendship is a journey, not a destination."

Spring "I have found that being a Solar does not mean you are perfect."

Spring "You may be cruel, vicious, arrogant, or perhaps emotionally distant."

Spring "But if we do not find ways to live together regardless, the world is surely lost."

Spring "I made the decision that I could choose to sacrifice if my friends would not."

Varanim "Is that what you're here for--friendship? When we first met, your recommendation was surival-based."

Spring "The two are the same, Varanim."

Varanim "I can remember a time when I believed that." She tilts her head a bit to the side. "I've caused a bit of trouble here, but I suspect the worst of it will blow over with some scarcity. If you think I'm wrong, I would be interested to hear your thoughts, since I haven't generally found you to be a stupid person."

Spring "I am not sure what exactly occurred, except that obviously you and Lucent have recently had a rather dramatic falling-out."

Varanim winces slightly. "It went worse than I expected, which I suppose is a little interesting. I... believe I hurt either his pride or his feelings, possibly both." She speaks much more slowly and carefully than usual.

Spring "Neither is especially difficult to damage."

Spring "What did you do, and what did you decide?

Varanim "But are they quick to mend?" She frowns and waves a hand as if to dismiss the question. "I'm being sloppy. I told him our bedroom times were finished, and I decided the shouting was done that the transition would be easier if I wasn't around as much."

Spring "Why?"

Varanim shrugs, scowling in an unfocused way. "Time and distance make most things better--if he's even more than passingly hurt, which isn't clear to me." Then she looks back at Spring. "I apologize; I'm not usually prone to confessional behavior."

Spring "Why did you decide to end it?"

Varanim "It's one thing to have a few meaningless rolls in the hay with someone who thinks everything about you is dirty. It's a separate and much more stupid idea to get into a relationship with that person." She spreads her hands with a ghost of a smirk. "If it was the first, no trouble in ending it; if it was the second, it needed to be done."

Spring "And yet I had heard you were a marvel of self-control."

Varanim "Hm, I can't tell if that's a clarifying probe or just some richly deserved mockery. Well played."

Spring "I do not see why it cannot be both."

Spring "I have seen Lucent forgive when apologized to. If you expect him to forget without one, that may be more challenging. I have not known it to occur."

Spring "I have never understood what brought you two together, and to be frank, I expected something of this sort would result, but I am nonetheless distressed at it. We cannot stand together if we cannot treat one another's feelings with respect."

Varanim Her smirk broadens a bit. "The central axis of my life is abstinence, but I don't always pay attention to bits around the edges, like people. As for Lucent, it would a good trick for him to remember what I said, since he's never yet demonstrated hearing me."

Varanim Then she nods to his last words, shortly. "I'll be back as usual once I've decided how to avoid ruffling him further."

Spring "Have you considered attempting to unruffle him altogether?"

Varanim looks away, her face darkening. "I suspect that's beyond my current patience."

Varanim Then she looks back as she starts to rise. "Thank you for your time."

Spring half rises. "Wait."

Varanim pauses, brows raised and looking resigned to some trouble.

Spring pauses, then sighs, and waves a hand. "Go, then, if you must. I suppose there is nothing I can do."

Varanim stands still for a moment, looking down at the floor. She says quietly, "I am years out of practice at letting go of jealousy and heartbreak. I am trying, but I need a few more days. If... if there's something else you want to say, I promise I will think about it very carefully."

Spring "We need you."

Spring "That is all I know to say."

Varanim Something old and grim-looking passes over Varanim's face, and her hands clench briefly at her sides. After another moment she gives a choppy nod, then exits without lifting her eyes.

Spring looks after her for a few moments, then sighs again and rolls over.

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