It's the last hours of night before dawn, so dark there's not much point trying to distinguish anything in the gloom, blasted trees and the far-off movements of strange distorted figures blending in as completely as the black sides of the War Rig.
There's some sort of jagged structure ahead that catches at Furiosa's eyes as she drives, silhouetted against the glimmer of far away stars, rakishly dominating the horizon from atop a heave in the earth.
She scans the length of the spindly tower and thinks it looks like something from her memories. The ground under her wheels is less swampy marsh sucking them down to an ignoble stop again, more hardpacked terrain. Almost a roadway. The more she looks the more certain she is of what she remembers, worn and faded though her memories may be from how many times she's revisited them in her mind.
Furiosa doesn't hesitate to steer towards the structure where it looms above the rolling landscape.
In the seat besides her the fool stirs from his half-waking stupor, blinks hazy eyes as the engine slows from its previous rhythm. The girls in the back of the cab are still asleep, wrapped in each other and that War Boy they'd found, oblivious to the subtle cues of change in their exhaustion.
She slows to a halt some meters away from the tower, close enough to see through the dark that it's not empty. There's a body tucked up among the struts, the glint of a rifle's scope hidden except to one who knows just where to look.
“Mhm, sentry?” the fool asks quietly, eyes landing on the structure ahead of them. Furiosa nods, awful hope catching in her chest. She remembers shifts in the watchtowers, lying in wait for hours under the boiling sun or cold scourging winds, eyes fixed for movement on the horizon. There wouldn't be anyone posted up there if there was nothing to defend.
The War Rig doesn't have any sort of headlamp, the lantern for the girls long since extinguished. She doesn't doubt that the black-on-black won't matter much to the person in that tower, that their aim will be flawless regardless.
The sudden cessation of noise and movement when she cuts the engine is enough to jolt the girls awake.
“Are we taking a break?” Cheedo says sleepily, stretching her limbs out.
“Engine's fine, right?” Toast asks, already suspicious.
“Stay in the rig,” Furiosa replies, acutely aware of the unseen gun trained on her as she opens the door and steps onto the damp earth below.
She holds her arms out loosely, empty of any sort of weapon, and recites her lineage for the night guard, heart in mouth. If she's wrong, if some other group has taken this place over... She hopes the fool has enough sense to take the wheel and keep pushing for safety, should it come to that.
There's no gunshot striking her down, just a high ululating call, a figure dropping down against the backdrop of stars and running headlong in her direction. All-clear, she thinks in a daze as relief crashes over her, not the harsh staccato cries of danger. From over the ridges motorcycles come into view, headlamps cutting through the night, reinforcements lying in wait.
The tower's guard reaches her and Furiosa can't breathe because even with the dark of night obscuring her vision, it's undeniably Valkyrie come to meet her. She clasps her initiate-sister tightly, loose traditional greeting merging into a crushing embrace, hand tangling in her long hair.
“Could it really be Jobassa's child?” one of the riders asks, anonymous where she stands swathed in shadow.
Valkyrie pulls back just far enough to run her eyes over Furiosa's face again, confident in her answer, “This is our Furiosa.” A breath, her hands warm against the chill of the night, and then, “How long has it been?”
Far too long, Furiosa thinks, but gives the tally she can feel etched into every sinew of her body. “Seven thousand days. Plus the ones I don't remember.”
Valkyrie's expression wavers, threatens to spill over to a shared grief at the separation, at the cruelty of the sort of life lived where not every day was one remembered. Had she been keeping her own count, Furiosa wonders, or had she never dared hope they would meet again in this life?
“And your mother?” one of the other riders asks, body cutting through the swathe of the headlamp's illumination, darkening the glare across her eyes.
Her birth-mother had been captured with her, had taken many of the blows meant for Furiosa, shielded her as best she could to her dying breath, the sort of sacrifice that she has only lately begun to understand.
“She died, on the third day.” There's an aching absence when she says the words, a grief she hasn't allowed herself to feel for fear it would overcome her, a memory of clear eyes clouding over as the life left them. Not the first death she had overseen, but the one that had cut the deepest and festered the longest.
The Vuvalini gesture for remembrance is so different from the harshly celebratory Witnessing she has grown used to that Furiosa almost doesn't recognize it, goes through the motions as if rekindling the sense-memory of it. A hand outstretched, clasping what might be left of a fallen sister's spirit, drawing it up to be held safe in one's heart. She had last made this gesture as she was dragged from her mother's corpse, desperate to hold onto any last shred of her presence.
“That's your rig, then?”
Furiosa has to move her eyes away from the women before her to turn, sees that there's a ring of headlamps illuminating the War Rig, the girls inside tentatively peering out. The fool has indeed taken the driver's seat, she notes, though the engine hasn't been restarted.
“Ours,” she replies. “From the Citadel. Beyond the mountains.”
Toast tumbles out first, the rest following to pick their way across the ground carefully. In the bright light of the headlamps their white clothes stand out starkly against the black, floating in the cold night breeze, the marks of their captivity plain for all to see.
Some of the Vuvalini step forward to them, arms open in greeting. Lost daughters from the desert were always welcome. Another grips her rifle, eyes trained on where Nux has stepped out of the shadows as well, scarred in the manner of warriors, skin still painted.
“The men?” she demands, “You vouch for them?”
It's a necessary question. Even before she was stolen outsiders were rarely trusted, strange men even less so. There's too much implicit violence in their presence to be allowed into the sanctuary of the Green Place unchecked.
“They're reliable,” Furiosa replies, perhaps the best compliment she can give. “They helped us get here.”
It should be strange to call these men allies when just the day before they had both tried to kill her, but she can remember the wild panic in the fool's eyes as he sought his own escape, knows well how the grip of the Immortan's poisoned words can overtake all reason. Freed of the Citadel's cage the fool had taken up arms to defend her and the girls, had even risked his own life so that she need not. And Nux is the sort of War Boy that she knows from experience, terrified more than anything else, desperate to fit into a crew and amazed to learn that soft needn't be an insult.
The both of them are no more a danger to the women of the Green Place than she is, whether they find that it's someplace they can stay or not.
Her answer seems to satisfy the Vuvalini because she relaxes her grip, rifle slung back over her shoulder. It's exactly the sort of meeting Furiosa had been hoping for, the girls as eager to reach out as these women are to embrace them.
“I can't wait for them to see it,” she says to Valkyrie, words a soft confession.
“Home,” Valkyrie replies with an understanding smile.
As dark as the night has been, there's already sunlight starting to warm the horizon. The ground under her feet isn't barren sand or clinging bog but real soil, firm and resilient, dotted with traces of hardy green scrub. The air isn't toxic out here, once the exhaust from their engines has blown away, but cool and soothing. Clean.
The watchtower stands a short distance from the main encampment, the War Rig traversing the stretch easily with an escort of those mustered by the initial alarm, not limping home after a battle but returning in celebration. Soon the Green Place unfolds before the windshield, a blaze of greenery against the pale dawning sky, breathtaking.
In some ways the settlement is vastly different than her memories. In others, it's exactly the same.
There's fabric tents huddled together here and there with bright-woven patterns amid the flowering fields, a few smoldering cooking fires being tended to by young initiates in the gray light of dawn. There's perhaps half the number of people she remembers, lost undoubtedly to war and disease and sheer bad luck. The location, too, is only haltingly familiar- wasn't this valley with its open stream where they camped during the cold season? It's high summer now, the sun when it rises as scorching as she can ever recall it being.
It's been so long since Furiosa's felt anything similar to true happiness that the strange buoyancy in her chest seems overwhelming, barely contained from leaking out of her pores. She's waiting for it to sour, for her to wake from this dream into the harsh light of reality once more, but it rolls onwards undaunted.
The girls are swiftly welcomed, enfolded into the waiting arms of the Many Mothers as if they were true-born daughters of the clan themselves. Nux trails behind like a puppy, looking around the area with a lost expression, unfamiliar with any type of life that doesn't revolve around rock and blood and molten steel. There are men in the Green Place, of course, but they are not like the braggart types he has experience with, who think of nothing but their own importance, their own desire for power.
Furiosa finds herself standing apart not long after the midday sun has crested, still waiting for the mirage to disintegrate before her eyes, overwhelmed by the press of memories and well-wishers. So many days of striving for her homeland, not allowing herself to doubt for a moment that it existed still- now that she has the proof that it remains, that the Green Place grows and thrives, the accumulated weight of what might have been falls down around her.
“It's a good place,” the fool says from besides her on the hill she's scaled, hovering a careful distance away, seemingly only slightly less out-of-place than the War Boy.
“It is,” she agrees, turns from surveying the encampment sprawled at her feet below to take stock of his expression.
As far as she can tell, his only goal was to leave the Citadel behind. Now that there's an all-but-impenetrable quagmire between them and one of the Triumvirate dead besides, she can't imagine that there's much danger of any of them being taken back. The towns will fall to infighting, scrabbling for control of the Bullet Farm, and with any measure of luck will kill each other before long.
She doesn't know if he has anything waiting for him out beyond the sands, any further destination to seek. They could spare a motorcycle for him, surely, for helping bring them this far. Furiosa wonders, with a sudden grip of nostalgia, who's riding her old bike now. She'd spent weeks decorating the tank for her initiate ceremony, symbols for luck and speed and resilience painted on with the most vibrant dyes she could find.
She knows, even as the words spill out of her mouth like so much wasted water, that it's the wrong thing to say. “You're more than welcome to stay.”
The fool startles, wide eyes flicking from the scattered tents below to her face, looking more like the fearful animal he'd initially been than the proficient human who had emerged.
“There are bikes, if you'd rather,” she says in an attempt to salvage the understanding between them, their singular connection borne of shed blood and fire. “Supplies for the trip.” Furiosa doesn't actually have the authority to make such an offer, but she's confident that it's not unreasonable to request it from the others.
“I'll, uh, go my own way,” he replies, eyes still flitting around restlessly.
She doesn't tell him that she understands, that she knows well the sort of demons that can only be outrun with the help of clean-burning guzzoline, she only nods in acceptance. Just below the level of the hill she's standing on is everything she's fought so hard to reclaim, a place of half-forgotten memories and shining hope, a place some part of her fears she might not be able to truly call her own anymore.
“Furiosa!” Cheedo calls up to her from the base of the hill, face alight with happiness while one of the elders looks on with a doting expression. “They've trained birds to carry messages, come see!”
By the time night folds down on them, the girls are all but unrecognizable- white cloth traded for durable gear, fearful expressions for joy, lingering pain for determination. Dag has quickly found a place among the green-workers, fingers trailing reverently over the carefully tended plants that will sustain them all if treated with care and respect, while Cheedo charms everyone in her path.
Nux gains favor by offering to help with engine repairs, enthusiastic to put his blackthumb skills to use for these people who haven't shown any inclination towards hurting him. Furiosa wonders how long he has left before his half-life burns itself out, whether there's anything the medicine here can do to alleviate the wear of his night-fevers.
The fool grows more and more restless, moving among the scattered tents as if they're snares to entrap him, refusing all overtures of kindness when they're offered. He slips off when the sun sets after being forced to share a meal of real fresh food and water drawn from the stream, crisp after days of murky tank holdings, a far cry from oily tinned aqua-cola.
Furiosa doesn't worry, lets him have the space. In the morning she will present him with a set of wheels, a gift from the clan for helping return their daughters both blood-linked and not, and that will likely be the last she ever sees of him.
“There came a fungus,” Gale is saying to her rapt audience, the young ones crowded close to hear the histories while those already already familiar with the tale range further from the light of the glowing fire. Furiosa wraps herself in a warmly patched blanket and settles in to listen. Though Gale wasn't the speaker she grew up with the cadence is the same, the wash of her voice soothing against the backdrop of the cold night.
“It was an unusually wet season- we thought it was a gift! But all things must be in balance. Enough rain fell that the land flooded, became stagnant. Plants drowned and decayed in muck that had once been fertile ground.
“That would have been bad enough, but then the fungus came. It crept from plant to plant, ruthless. Swift. Deadly. The very water soured where the disease touched, became foul and black. And how did we know it was a fungus?”
“White spots!” the crowd dutifully choruses.
“White spots indeed, all under the leaves and choking the stalks, killing the buds before they bloomed. We lost our Summer Valley to the north, the Windy Hills to the west. It seemed as if it would never stop, not until everything was barren wasteland.
“But we did stop it, we kept our Green Place safe. And how was it done?”
Gale stirs up the coals before answering, a volley of sparks hitting the night air. “Fire, indeed. We gathered what seeds we could, and burned the infection out of our homeland. It was a hard year, that year of ash, and we lost many to the hunger and the shifting sands.”
She pauses, and Furiosa thinks it's for effect before realizing that the people around her are clasping the air in mourning. A deep sigh runs through the crowd, losses remembered.
“The plague was banished, driven out by the root. The Dead Lands stayed dead, but those that survived rebounded, grew prosperous as they once had been.
“Even the sterilized areas became useful once more, though no crops will grow there again in my lifetime. What raider would push beyond a toxic marsh? Who would seek shelter amid skeleton trees and fouled water?
“No one, indeed. It is through the efforts of many that we keep our Green Place safe from future tragedy. We thank those watchers who patrol, those who send crows with warnings, those who enforce from on high.”
Furiosa startles minutely when she sees that a strange figure has approached the circle, limbs long and stiff, body misshapen and hunched. She's seen them at a distance, while they rode through the night bog, and had thought them to be some type of scavenger clan, not anything welcomed to the central oasis.
In the firelight she can see that the person is on wooden stilts, robed in a tattered shroud that they toss off with a flourish. Underneath is a person she doesn't recognize, undeniably clad in Vuvalini fabrics, but unfamiliar. The woman turns and smiles widely out at the group, revealing swirling blue-black tattoos that cover half her face, and Furiosa loses the breath in her chest because she does know that face.
“KT?” Furiosa breathes out in disbelief, amazed to see her initiate mother once more.
The woman casts a gaze out over the crowd, looking for whoever said her name, and Furiosa is sure of her identity now. Her face in the flickering firelight is worn with age but the smile is the same, the pattern of tattoos unmistakable.
Furiosa gets to her feet, blanket dropping away as she lurches forward, and she's disrupting the story circle but she can't focus on that transgression because seeing KT's face again is almost like seeing her birth-mother, as miraculous as finding the Green Place at all.
“Is that our little Fury?” KT says, voice equally disbelieving, drops from her stilts and lets them sprawl carelessly on the ground. “Come here child, come here!”
Furiosa finds herself enfolded in a warm hug, one more connection she thought she had lost forever safe and whole in front of her.
“They said that rig we spotted was one of ours come home, but I never thought...! Oh, my Furiosa, it has been so long.”
Tears that Furiosa hasn't allowed herself to shed in thousands of days well up in her eyes and she feels reduced to the child she once was, safe in the arms of this woman who had been with her from almost her first days. KT hadn't been in the camp at all during the course of the day and Furiosa couldn't bring herself to ask after her fate, to know for certain if she should place another stone on the cairn of memories.
It's been overwhelming, this return to her roots, a bittersweet ache for all the things she thought were lost to her forever. KT just holds her until Furiosa smooths her breathing back out, no longer choking on air as she struggles to hold herself together.
After the tears have mostly dried in her eyes she pulls out of the embrace, deliberately not looking at the group of curious faces she's sure are at her back. They won't mean any harm by it, but the scrutiny is intolerable against the rawness of her emotions.
“We have a lot of catching up to do,” KT says with a kind smile, and leads her away from the fire.
The fool has, as Furiosa expected, spent the night hunched up in the cab of the War Rig. They had left it parked on the outskirts of the settlement, all the time in the world to strip away the marks of the Citadel and find new purpose for it. The skulls should be removed, she thinks as she casts a critical eye over it, and those belonging to fallen War Boys buried out in the wastes where they might find a measure of peace.
It's a little awkward to swing up to the space where the door was ripped away with her left arm bare, but she had made sure the rig was accessible to her no matter what, and her footholds are secure.
He doesn't look startled when she appears; she made no effort to hide her arrival. There's a smear of blood on his hand, a half-folded piece of cloth lying pale against his thigh, needle flicking between his fingers.
“That bike is ready for you,” Furiosa says, settling into the seat across from him. There's more supplies than she had anticipated packed onto it- more, she is sure, than he would willingly accept if given the choice.
The fool hums and gives a thankful smile, hands restlessly folding and unfolding the cloth. There's some markings on it, dark with what she guesses to be his own blood, but she can't make sense of what they are. She digs through the satchel slung over her shoulder for the breakfast he had missed by staying so far from the tents, holds the living greens and fresh-cooked meat out for him to take, leftovers from the impromptu feast the night before.
“This place,” he says, looking at the food she's offering for a long moment before accepting it, “Why'd you leave?”
She had thought it was obvious, a story told with a hundred variations, the fool's own included. Few would willingly leave a place of relative peace and abundance if that was the life they had been born to, certainly not for servitude under the thumb of a warlord.
“I didn't,” Furiosa replies, tone betraying none of the things that are dredged up in her by the question, “I was taken as a child. Stolen.”
She has trained herself not to dwell on that day, when she had ranged far beyond their borders, daring her mother to keep up with her own recklessly-modified engine. It had been a normal day, unremarkable in every way until the crossbow bolt landed in the meat of her thigh, and the slavers descended upon them. She had not understood what it meant that they left the bikes where they fell, not until that first black night-
Her mind skitters away from the memory, refocuses on the present with hard-won discipline.
The fool replies without saying anything, after a moment unfolds the cloth once more, laying it flat on the stretch of seating between them. The lines coalesce and she sees that it's a map, the landscape marked out with symbols, some plain and others obscure enough that she can't decipher them immediately.
He points to where he's shaded a ring of stark hash-marks, the pattern stopping abruptly after a few strokes. It's the marsh, she realizes, the Dead Lands that surround the Green Place.
“I can,” he starts, halts, shakes his head. “Blank is suspicious. Might, um, investigate. But, if I mark it false, I might... not remember.”
Furiosa doesn't understand for a moment- what would be the point of a map that doesn't show the terrain accurately? But the implications sink in, of what the consequences of having a map that points to the Green Place might be if it fell into the wrong hands. The wastes were harsh and the fool had been captured at least once, it wouldn't be beyond reason for it to happen a second time.
If he isn't sure he would remember the location otherwise then he's offering to all but erase it from his memory, she realizes, to help keep them safe. Mark it all as useless swamp and it wouldn't matter who got their hands on the map, they would see no need to ever look beyond the border. It's the safer option by far.
She should tell him to mark it false, then, and keep this fragile growing place safe, keep safe the girls she had risked everything to bring with her. It would be better, surely, to leave no way for this half-wild man to betray them, even against his will.
She finds that she can't give voice to the decision, lets the incomplete map sit heavily between them. He sounded as if he didn't want to forget, whether because it would mean losing contact with a friendly tribe or for some other reason, she couldn't say. Doubts he would be able to say either, should she ask.
“You could use a symbol,” Furiosa says, avoiding his eyes. “In case you need to find us again. We know healing here, and barter is always welcome.”
The fool makes a quiet noise and she looks up from the bloodstained cloth, finds his expression thoughtful.
“A crow, perhaps,” she suggests. They were numerous even on the edges of the bog, roosting in otherwise dead trees, content to hunt for what blind crawling things made a living in the muck. Only some were trained to be handled, to ferry messages from the patrolling stilt-walkers to the inner oasis, but they all knew where to find shelter when war encroached on their borders.
He nods, slowly, finger twitching out over the still-blank spot. Not an agreement, but not a dismissal either.
On an impulse she doesn't examine too closely Furiosa uncoils the scarf from around her neck, the only remaining symbol of her Imperator ranking. She was never going back to the Citadel, would never ride anywhere near their borders again as long as she lived, Mothers willing. Out here it was just a length of black cloth, rare only because of how little it had faded.
“If you trade near the Citadel,” she says, holding the scarf out for him to take, “wear this.”
The fool blinks, obviously confused, and after a moment makes a soft sort of questioning noise even as his fingers reach out to pick up the fabric.
“It'll backfire if you get too close and they know you're not from the Citadel, but the fringe clans should give you better barter.”
“Okay,” he says, voice unsure.
Furiosa bites back the urge to wish him safe travels, to remind him that he doesn't need to leave at all. There's no such thing as safe in this world, and she already knows that he has no intention of staying, would find it as intolerable as being caged in the Citadel once more.
“Okay,” she echoes with a nod, and leverages herself up out of the War Rig once more. He'll take his map and the scarf and the bike and ride out, and maybe one day he'll return or maybe he won't. Nothing she could say now will change that, no blessings for luck or hints about which tribes to avoid. It was up to the whims of the wasteland, and there was something almost comforting in the familiarity of that.
It takes only three days before Toast is given her own rifle, battered but resilient, and is set to the task of keeping it cleaned and ready to fire at all times. Not that they have the ammunition to spare for her to keep it actually loaded, but the responsibility of it all makes something fiercely proud blossom into being in her face.
Her eyes are sharp, her mind a steel-trap of information, and it's not long before she has a place among those who venture out of the valley for trading, learning on the wing.
Capable continues doting on her War Boy at first, comforting herself as much as him by having someone to focus on, but soon the need to be distracted from Angharad's death fades. She begins living up to her name, then, quick to learn what tasks are set before her, fingers nimble as they learn weaving and tanning and the mechanics of the road.
Nux doesn't immediately weaken, but there's no way to give transfusions out here, no one who knows their blood type even if there was. His lumps are in a bad place, close to his windpipe as they are, but not the worst- if they can be held in check, he might live for a good while longer yet. The biggest hurdle he faces is how different life is here from the suicide treadmill he's used to, the lives of their own people held in a far higher regard than their deaths, no matter how glorious.
Dag takes up caring for the plants that surround them with a devotion that surprises everyone but Cheedo, is never again seen without dirt smeared across some area of her body. She doesn't have any knowledge to base her interest on, instead eagerly soaks in the wisdom of the Keeper of the Seeds as she explains the uses for each plant, why they're planted where they are and tended to in such and such a manner.
It's good for her to have something grounding, especially as her pregnancy progresses. There are herbal compounds offered with sympathy, but there's something defiant in Dag's eyes when she refuses, claims that without the poison of Joe's influence it's just a baby, and it might as well be born so that there's one more brat running around to help in the fields.
Cheedo slips in and out of different groups easily, trying on roles with good cheer, her questions always indulged when she flashes an innocent smile. She shies away from the guns but finds herself balancing easily on the back of a bike, maneuvering the roaring steel over the ground with heartfelt laughter, hair streaming behind her like a banner. The next day she might be cozied up with Sawbones in the infirmary tent, tending to those few sick or injured, the very image of patience as she changes bedding and runs menial chores.
There's no need for her to settle into any one role, not when she's hardly older than an initiate, not when the Green Place runs so differently from the regimented structure of the Citadel. She might flit from job to job for as long as she pleases, learning from and connecting with everyone.
The five of them soon blend in with the rest of the inhabitants as if they were native to the valley, eager to replace their toxic pasts with fresh growth, their skills and interests cultivated by the elders with tender care to the betterment of all.
It's Furiosa who has the hardest time of things, for all that the Green Place was her first home. There's so much she has to relearn about her own history, memories buried under the weight of a life spent in service to the Citadel. The very rhythm of life here is different, not ordered into a strict schedule but loose, organic as it responds to the needs of the land they protect.
She tries a set of stilts only once, finds that the nub of her arm is wholly unsuited to the pressure required for balancing properly. It's too inactive a role for her anyway, roving the same patch of ground in search of trespassers, in hopes of finding signs of renewed life in the muck, carrying a rifle and message-paper in equal weight.
Her old bike is nowhere to be seen- cannibalized for parts after a wreck, she's told. It's almost a relief that she neither has to ride it again nor see it in the hands of someone else, doesn't have to confront such a tangible relic of the carefree girl she once was. Furiosa instead takes an unfamiliar motorcycle, lush after the stripped down engines-on-wheels she's become used to, and ranges far from the Green Place for days at a time, seeking trouble on the horizon, looking for signs of friendly tribes passing near.
It takes several cycles of the moon waxing and waning before she begins to wake up screaming, hard-won control loosening in the face of how safe she is here. It disturbs the girls, used as they are to her staying silent as the grave, but Valkyrie and KT understand and hold her tight in the dark hours, when the memories press down on her and she can no longer hold it all inside.
Patrolling helps her stay present, the desert wind scouring her skin and clearing her mind, but the days that Furiosa remains at the camp and finds that she remembers how to be something other than a weapon are what start to truly lighten the burden on her soul. There's still death out here, plenty of hostile raiders to defend against, but there's also sprouts to be planted and children to be soothed, stories to be shared and songs to be sung.
Slowly even the nightmares dwindle under the quiet care of her kin and peace found in the fields, until more often than not she sleeps through the entire night and can recall dreaming of nothing but green.
Many, many days pass before a battered car turns up on the outskirts of the Dead Lands, the driver twitchy and uncommunicative, only passing along Furiosa's name as if that alone would be enough to grant him entrance.
She rides out to meet him and not enough time has passed that she doesn't recognize the fool instantly, overgrown hair or not. He startles when Furiosa dips her forehead to meet his, the greeting reflexive after so much time among her old customs, his hands hovering in the air uncertainly.
“I wasn't sure you'd remember the way,” she says after slipping back a step.
He clears his throat and makes a sort of wordless noise that she can't even begin to decipher, ducks his shoulders. “Made an impression,” he says after a moment, and it doesn't matter which part he means because Furiosa finds that she's smiling, glad to have reunited at all.
"There's a, hm, grove," he says later, when it's just the two of them again, familiar map spread out on the ground between them. There's more markings on it now, a whole panel sewn on to the side where he traveled off the edge of the fabric. "Didn't see people nearby. I thought, maybe, you-" he gestures to the air off to the side, where the glow of smoldering campfires dot the ground like fallen stars, "-might find use for it."
Furiosa thinks about what having a second tract of land would mean, how the clan could start expanding again, give this overworked valley a chance to rest.
"You didn't mark it clearly," she says after a moment of contemplation, traces her fingers over the rust-red lines, the grove marked out with the barest pinpricks of an outline. "I would need a guide."
The fool blinks up at her for a moment before a careful smile spreads across his face, hesitant but hopeful, and he nods.