The Dag is done with men. They haven’t done her any favors, they’ve killed all the green growing places of the world and ruined her sisters and hurt something so deep inside of her own self that she can only lash out in preemptive defense, because that broken raw feeling is something she won’t tolerate feeling ever again.
So she spends most of her time with women- her sisters, the Vuvalini, the Milking Mothers, women from the Wretched below and those kept as breeders and hidden among the War Boys- all dangerous in their own ways but understanding about this. Sure, with Capable as a buffer Nux hadn’t been so terrible, and what’s left of Furiosa’s crew don’t let their eyes linger like they might have. But that doesn’t mean she has to subject herself to their presence, especially while she grows large and round and slow, all the things that Joe had rhapsodized about in his slimy terrible voice.
When her daughter is born- and oh, how the Keeper of the Seeds would have smiled, to see the squalling face of a new generation of women growers born safe and whole- the Dag wants her to be kept as far from the touch of men as possible. Wants her kept safe like she had kept Cheedo safe, like she wishes someone had kept her safe.
The Dag doesn’t really care about what doesn’t interest her. Her plants and her baby take up her time but she doesn’t fuss over who gets what portion of the harvest to eat, lets Cheedo and Capable and Toast deal with the problems that come along with running a place as large as the Citadel.
So it’s a surprise when there’s a man in her gardens one day, twitchy and dirty and covered in frightful amounts of hair, following Furiosa’s footsteps like if he doesn’t match them perfectly he’ll fall off the edge of the cliff to the sands below. The Dag watches aghast as he has a handful of ripe berries given to him, as casual as you please, as if he deserves any part of what they have coaxed to grow out of the cruel soil.
Furiosa catches sight of her first as she barrels down the green alleyway, and there’s something pleased and open about her expression, as if she can’t see the righteous anger the Dag is about to unleash on her for allowing this- this- interloper into her gardens.
“What’s this schlanger doing here?” the Dag demands, tucking her daughter’s face up and away from even the sight of him. She’s close enough that there’s something familiar about his face under the months-old beard and road dust, familiarity carried through the lines of a worn leather jacket. She remembers a mask, and a gun, and blood.
“Max brought some seeds with him,” Furiosa replies, and it’s not really an answer and she won’t be bribed into allowing men into her spaces but it draws up a little of her anger, just a touch. Because Furiosa wouldn’t bring a man into her gardens unless he was safe and she remembers that name, remembers the face, remembers his hands careful on Furiosa’s skin while he bled for her, and seeds- well, seeds are always welcome.
“What kind?” she asks, because there is only so much ground that can be planted and if this crazy smeg’s brought them useless wildflowers or inedible weeds she’ll never let him step foot inside this place again.
Max gives the berries in his hand back to Furiosa, pats down his pockets until he fishes out a small cloth bag, holds it out for her to take. It’s awkward balancing her daughter and looking through the bag at the same but she manages, because they’d learned that Furiosa inexplicably makes every babe she holds cry within seconds and it isn’t as if the Dag is going to trust this feral to do the job.
But he makes one of his weird little noises and his hand twitches like he might reach out and she wraps her arm back around her child, skitters backwards out of his range.
“The head,” Max says, “you’ve got to- support the head.” There’s something about the way he says it, a little raw and sad, that makes the Dag take a good hard look at him.
Because he used that sort of lost far-away tone that some of the women get around sprogs, the ones who wanted them but had them taken away. It’s strange to hear that in his voice, to see the sad weight of what must be memories in his face, because- she knows that some men aren’t so bad, remembers a little bit of being young, young, and having a father who told her stories about the stars and tried to shelter her from the world, but she hasn’t seen any of it borne out in recent memory.
Max is leaning back out of her space, his shoulder just barely touching Furiosa’s like he needs the support, apologizing without words for the intrusion.
He was right, is the thing- even tucked against her shoulder her daughter’s head was too loose, too liable to flop over and cause injury. She thinks about how he helped them get here, to this safe green place, how he was so gentle, so steady with his hands at the end.
“Do you want to hold her?” the Dag asks. Because she’s done with men but the garden is for growth, and healing, and she thinks that maybe she can trust this particular man, at least a little, at least for her daughter’s sake.