"Do you see Immortan, too?"
A moon-faced war pup with inky eyes peers at Capable from around the corner of the hallway. She feels her mouth go dry. "Or just Nux the Witnessed?"
"Capable," Nux murmurs, reaching for her-- but it's too late. She's on her feet, and the war pup skitters away in fear. When she turns back to face Nux, he's gone again.
The first few times she saw him, she ignored him. Nux was dead. Nux the Witnessed. She's not sure how the name came about; she had told her Sisters how he had gone, in a moment of weakness, how he left this world terrible and consumed, how his scarred lips had surely mouthed those words. One of the many pups, who lingered like phantoms unseen, must have overheard. He had been Witnessed, and by their new rulers no less; and though they insisted they were not Immortans, the War Boys couldn't help but love the Sisters just as feverishly. Just as Nux had loved Capable; so fast it caused whiplash, so reverent she might as well had been Immortan.
"Capable, please. I beg, please. Speak, speak--"
She whips around, her red hair a fireball around her face. "Shut up! Shut up, you're not real, you are phantasmal!"
Her voice echoes in the near-empty hall. She does not see the mournful gaze Max throws her way.
Many moon cycles pass before she dares to talk to him, alone. And many moons more before she grows too tired of the secret, of the shame. She swears his hand is heavy in hers as she walks him through the gardens and tells him each and every green that grows there. Cheedo watches her fearfully; she ignores her. The corner of Nux's lips quirk in a smile, but his eyes are sad.
They're much too selfish, and rightfully so. Capable had found happiness after such a long life of strife, and why did she have to let that go? He comes to her, and his fingers barely ghost over her face to tuck a red curl behind her ear. They laugh, and banter, and play. Sometimes he'll grin and, unsaid but inherently understood, she gives chases after him through the corridors of the Citadel's underbelly, full of giggles and squeals. Furiosa put her in charge of the pups, and she is Den Mother. The catacombs (though now updated, made a little more welcoming, as welcoming as any place in the desert can be) where the boys live are now known to her like the back of her hand, especially with Nux's help.
Capable rounds the corner; Nux is gone, but there are a few War Pups, now bulking up and growing tall compared to when they first raised the Sisters up. They bow their heads at the sight of her and part to allow her through.
"Praise be, Capable; we hope to ride Eternal on the War Rig one day."
Her throat goes dry. She looks around; Nux is nowhere to be seen. "The War Rig?"
The eldest boy who spoke gazes up at her, his shoulders hunching even more at the direct question. When she shifts her weight, the shadows of the poorly lit hallway move, and for a second around his eyes is dark with paint, and his eyes are blue, and-- "If only we could all give ourselves to such a noble cause, and then ride eternal on the War Rig, aiding Sisters on the Fury Road."
She swallows. She doesn't know what to say, but she nods towards them mutely and moves on.
There's a new gesture amongst the Pups, now growing into Boys; the V8 is still prominent, of course, if not because of the deceased Immortan, than because of the love they all hold for the vehicles that protect their home and sanctuary. But there are other symbols now. Pups who dream of greatness draw lines across their lips in greasepaint, and those who prove themselves especially brave draw a shard of glass over skin and proudly weather the spike in night fevers to scar their face so. Between brothers who are close, a new sign of respect, a press of the lips to the cheek, spreads quickly. Those who patrol the Citadel and the land around it fiercely protect others from harm, especially women; breeders, no more, but life bringers. People are Not Things, and Not Things are more priceless than Things.
"I do not understand." Capable whispers, and though she sees Nux press a kiss to her cheek, she does not feel it.
"They see-- you're so chrome. You lead. You are..." He fumbles with his own hands in his lap, trying to find the words in a vocabulary that has not changed or grown despite the multitude of books Capable has read to him throughout the days. "Capable, not just, but exceptional. Eternal. So much, you do so much for them. Hope. Purpose."
A War Boy, taller than the highest wisp of Capable's fiery crown, and less sickly than Nux enters the room. All the War Boys look less sickly than Nux; Nux, with Lary and Barry, and half of his body licked black from guzzoline fire flames. "Sorry, Prophet Capable." He murmurs. He has only earned one notch on his lip, from managing to defend those who live Down Below during a raider attack. "Didn't mean to barge in when you were talkin' to the Witnessed."
She feels her gut twist, low and sour. But they're the only ones who talk about Nux, even if no longer by his given name, as if too holy to pass unscarred lips; none of her Sisters mention her talking to him, and Cheedo downright avoids her because of it. Furiosa has tried to sit her down. Max, who wanders in and out, told her in less words that he understood, that he's sorry she has to go through it, too.
She surveyed him with a calm gaze. He did not understand, if he felt sorry for her. She had a gift.
Over time it mutates, like all things in the world, and Prophet Capable becomes ProphetCable becomes Prophetable, Den Mother of the War Pups, mouthpiece of the Witnessed who rides Eternal and Selfless on the War Rig. It keeps the Boys sure, and just, and as beautiful as her Nux. Almost as beautiful.