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Sep 18, 2020 10:19 PM
alteriverse!imrainai lands on atlantis!serg
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"Cause we lie," she says. "I haven't lied about anything, though. Not since I got here. I mean, not on purpose or that I remember."

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"—I believe you but—why is that—I'm so confused. Do you lie a lot or is that just something they say—?"

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"I guess so," she says, considering. "Uh, Carthons don't lie, and Alteri and Sluggards and Thieves all can lie but it's not - fundamental, the way it is for Liars, we make things up for ourselves when we sleep. Uh, do you not?"

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"I hate lying and do as little of it as I can get away with. I still dream, though, I don't feel like that's related."

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"...OK, well, I can keep not doing it, then? Not the - I can't turn off dreaming but if you don't feel like that's the same thing anyway then I guess it doesn't matter."

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"...that's not... I mean, I do generally prefer when people are honest with me, but when I say I hate lying I mean I hate what it feels like to lie, not—anything about other people at all. And I don't even know if we really mean the same thing by 'lie' or not because putting dreaming in the same category makes no sense to me."

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"Huh. Well - there are true things and false things, right?"

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"Ye...s...?"

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"And dreams are on the false side. That's what a dream is, your brain lies to you and gets you to believe something false for a while."

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"That's... not... really how I think of dreams."

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"OK. Well. Where I come from people do. And we're just - we're like that, making things up all the time. So that's why they call us Liars."

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"Dreams don't... make you be wrong about things," he says. "You have them and you wake up and that's all they are, dreams. I don't like making people be wrong about things and I don't like when people try to make me wrong about things but I don't mind—stories."

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"...it's better, yeah, when you can keep track of what's true and what's a story, if you're doing anything important or making any important decisions. I think most people are worse at keeping track than we are. But - we don't make important decisions, so I guess for most of us there's a limit to how much harm it can do. Not that I don't think you can hurt people by lying to them! Because you can! Especially if you aren't upfront about the fact that that's what you're doing! But - real life is really hard and sometimes you couldn't get through it if you were looking straight at it all the time. But I don't know if that makes sense."

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"Maybe. I'm not sure I'm the sort to be comforted by pretending."

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"Yeah. It's complicated, when pretending is most of what you have. I think if stories didn't count for anything we just - couldn't live, maybe, we'd wither away and we'd die, trying to live on just things that we actually had."

She pauses.

"So you really like me more than life itself?"

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He smiles at her.

"You're—my friend."

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She smiles at the ground.

"Well. You're my friend too."

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It occurs to him that 'you're my friend' doesn't actually convey even a tenth of what he meant when he said it, and he can clarify, now, that's a thing he can do, he can say something clumsily and then figure out how to say it better and do that.

"You're the best thing that's ever happened to me and I want to keep you safe and hug you and give you nice things."

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She hugs him again and smiles like an idiot.

"Well. I like being kept safe and hugged and given nice things, so that should work out OK."

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He hugs her and smiles like an idiot right back.

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Awwww.

"So. What all can you do now? You must have covered all the distance from here to the city in a couple of seconds. Can you just, like, teleport now?"

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"I can do—a lot of things. I'm sure I haven't found them all yet. I... yes, I suppose you could say I can teleport now."

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"Cooool. Just yourself?"

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"So far. I could probably figure out a way to bring you places if I tried."

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"OK. Not that you need to! And you should probably try it on a plant or something first so that you don't, I don't know, accidentally disassemble my molecules and kill me? But it would be neat."

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