"I don't underthtand it," he starts, dragging his bare feet over the dusty ground. His boots are tossed somewhere to the right, caked with mud. In fact there is hardly a part of him that isn't, his signal-colored clothes - caution tape from head to toe, the Disciple once laughingly claimed - are almost uniformly brown.
There's this certain ring to his voice, that way he starts out slow and seems to be taking a deep mental breath, that tells anyone who's known him for some time that he's about to engage Rant Mode.
The Signless certainly catches the signal. And because he's himself, and because the two of them have been practicing this ever since they met, he throws it right back.
"What in the world is there not to understand? Which part exactly of the words internalized discrimination do you have trouble wrapping your head around?" He digs a set of nails into the edge of his cloak, absentminded ripping the already torn fabric further, "It's not like you haven't suffered from that problem yourself! Let me remind you-"
At that the Ψiioniic jumps up, opens his mouth to reply, and immediately sits back down. After a few moment's worth of staring the Signless down with a pupil-less look that ceased to be creepy perigrees ago, he speaks.
"No, thank you, my friend. In fact I do not need nor want any reminder of the way I uthed to talk and think about mythelf, and neither do I want thethe thingth repeated in front of otherth. I know," he breaks off and punctuates his confusion by unbuttoning his collar and almost instantly redoing it, "I have eckthperienthed-"
From where she is preparing a rather improvised stew, the Dolorosa lets out what sounds uncharacteristically like a snort. The Ψiioniic is undisturbed. He's long since used to people laughing at him while he attempts to tell them his "wordth of conthequenthe", and he has absolutely no time to lose with getting mad at that if that time can be used more effectively for running his mouth off.
"I have eckthperienthed what it feelth like to be utheful for only one thing, how you have to be good at it becauthe you're no good for anything elthe. But I thtill don't underthand why I believed in all that rubbish. Or why anyone elthe, you know, thomeone with a leth fucked-up thelf image, would believe it."
"Because they have been taught. Not in the intellectual sense. It has been hammered into their heads since they could walk instead of crawl. By their peers. By their elders. Even by their lusi, to an extent." The Signless sounds incensed now instead of weary. The spark is starting to glow.
"But what about lithtening? I lithtened. I heard your wordth and they made perfect thenthe. Everything wath tho clear. Why can't they look at it from an intellectual viewpoint?"
Now he turns around like a hunter who has scented his prey, his head all sharp jerky movements, and answers the Ψiioniic's heterochromatic stare with an incredulous one of his own, "An intellectual viewpoint," his voice rises and his eyebrows draw together and the spark shows every sign of turning into an inferno of incandescent anger at any moment, "you mean to say that you threw down your shackles and spat in your false superiors' faces because it made "thenthe" from an intellectual viewpoint?"
"Yeth," the Ψiioniic replies, giving the Signless a look like he's just grown a second head. He scrubs a muddy hand over his face and adds,
"Well, no. Intellectually, I dethided that you were right. But the dethision to thtop being a thlave, that pivotal choithe, that wath emotional. I could have thaid no, not for me. I might have thtayed in thervithe to the empire. There were alwayth two pathth for me, ath for anyone, and I chothe thith becauthe I felt it wath right."
For a moment, the Signless looks slightly pacified at his friend’s admission to listening to his feelings instead of only his rational thought. Then he reconsiders what he just heard, and bristles.
“No. Do not start on me with this two pathth thing again. There is no such thing as two paths, there is only what the world forces on you, and your choice to break it.”
The Ψiioniic almost knocks the proffered bowl of stew over with the violence of his gesturing, “You are tho wrong! Thith - duality - ith what the world hingeth on. Everything ith torn, everything hath two thideth, it goeth all the way through each of uth and you jutht don’t choothe to thee it - no, Dithiple, I don’t want any thtew, I already ate only five hourth ago - and are you even lithtening to me, Thignleth, becauthe you jutht agreed with me!”
By now he’s back on his feet and his collar is undone again, the headpiece hangs loosely around his neck and he looks tense and hypercharged.
The Signless continues staring for a moment before he jumps up - a bowl of stew is saved from imminent demise only by the Disciple pulling it away fast enough - and goes face-to-face with his confidant, hampered only slightly by the fact that he’s half a head shorter.
“I did what-” his now top-volume question is broken off by more sweeping jittery gestures and the Ψiioniic’s best are-you-thtupid look,
“What the world fortheth on you, and whether you choothe two thtay or go. Two optionth! Two! Yeth or no! It all maketh thenthe!” and now he is shouting, too, but the Signless makes a noise of derision and turns around, not rising to the challenge this time.
“Have it your way, then. Clearly there is no talking to you when you’re like this.”
That was a jab at a sore place, and they all know that. The Signless might be too angry to care, but the Disciple shares a look with his custodian that is a wordless expression of he shouldn’t have gone there.
There is mid-night silence for a few seconds. In earlier perigrees it might have been punctuated by the campfire blowing up, but part of having potentially destructive psychic powers is knowing when not to use them.
Then, barefoot and with half of his clothes already hung up to dry, the Ψiioniic turns around and walks off. In what seems to be an entirely random direction. This is not the first time he has done something so ridiculously impulsive, but right now he looks awfully serious about it.
“Where does he think he’s - he can’t just-” the Signless breaks off, and stares at the yellow-black figure that’s already settled into long strides. Moments before the Disciple can convince herself that she has to jab him with her claws to make him take action, he’s on his feet and gaining.
From a distance, she and the Dolorosa can only watch what seems to be an enormous amount of gesturing, once a desperate “What the FUCK?” and once an exclamation of “-Inthulting,”, before the storm has apparently calmed down enough for both of them to walk back to the small camp, appearing rather contrite.
“-if you can believe it,” the Ψiioniic is rambling, hands still in rapid motion. He looks around at them and at the oddly silent Signless, and then down at the dirty ground, and sits down on thin air, a small see-what-I-can-do smirk breaking through the irritated mask of his face, “Two people can dithagree on thomething and, yeth, thtill be friendth.”