((Brief reference to current affairs.))

“I’m extremely annoyed by merely existing right now.”  Tove flopped in the chair across from Ambrosine’s desk. 

The other woman kept carefully sorting her paperwork.

(Was that a guardian thing? Like, what.)

“Why is that?”

Tove gestured to take in the whole expanse of…everything. “I’m still angsty over being single, which is annoying as hell even and perhaps especially to myself. I didn’t care when I was younger. Why do I care so much now?”

“Because everything’s gone to shit a bit more than when we were in our twenties, Tove,” Ambrosine said, lifting her gaze so that her steady green eyes met Tove’s unsettled blue ones. “Also, you’re talking about breaking years of comforting habit, which you hadn’t established before.”

Tove made a disgusted noise and leaned back in her chair. “I’m trying to keep myself busy so I don’t have time to dwell. But I can only study healing in my spare time so much–I need physical activity to keep my mind quiet. Only my commanding officer in the Vigil is currently dead, and orders are kind of…” She made a gesture that implied a sexual act. “And also, that entire situation in general is another layer of depression on top of everything else and hooo, boy, let me tell you.”

“You don’t need to,” Ambrosine said softly, without her usual dry humor. “We’re all feeling that one.”

Tove tilted her head back and peered at the ceiling. Cave roof. Whatever. “So I show up at the Pact camps and do my skaald routine. But uplifting everyone else drags me right to the bottom, Ambrosine. Right to the fucking bottom. And I come home and fall into an empty bed and scream inwardly. So! Gee golly am I glad that the Vanguard gives me some stuff to do. That and helping to entertain a deaf girl are my primary occupations right now.”

“You’re a singer and a storyteller, Tove.  I imagine that entertaining a deaf girl is a nice challenge for you.”

“Why, I just turn to shadow puppets and my dog, obviously. Tercet is a guaranteed hit.” The front legs of the chair hit the ground with a thump, and Tove rested her arms on the desk.  “So, what’s with you and the paperwork, anyhow?”

“I am depressed about how little control I have over the things that cause me the most anxiety in life right now, so I am finding comfort in controlling the minutiae of my life,” Ambrosine said calmly, even as she relentlessly shredded a piece of paper into the garbage can beside her chair.

“Ah,” Tove said. She suddenly wanted to go straighten her bookshelves.

“So tell me, are you going to tell a certain person that you have feelings for them or are you going to just keep flirting outrageously with a couple of people and hope no one notices how sincere it is in one particular case?”

“You know, I think Randulfr needs to be fed! Fancy that.” Tove stood up and grabbed her coat off the back of the chair. “And yes, I realize that I’m being avoidant but I have run out of capable adult right now. Have a good day!” 

Ambrosine just shook her head as Tove ghosted out of the infirmary. And then quietly resumed sorting her papers.

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