I've known Zavala a long time, you know. He was one of the first people to greet me when I arrived at the Tower all those years ago—though I suppose "greet" may be too soft a word. It implies a sort of friendliness, a warmth. And Zavala… if you've never met him? He can be a bit stern. He's hardened further since the Red War, I'm sorry to see—though I suppose we all have, to some degree. In any case, that very first meeting left a sour taste in my mouth. I hate to admit that I avoided Zavala when I could after that—though sometimes he makes himself unavoidable. It wasn't long after this meeting that I celebrated my first Dawning at the Tower. Everyone's spirits were high, and it was so nice to see the people I had come to care about smiling and toasting each other. I remember Tess and I had just finished with a bit of decorating, and she had left to get something when Zavala began heading my way. "Oh no," I thought. "Oh no, not this man." Ah, but he came over anyway, so I smiled and wished him a Happy Dawning—because I DID wish good things for him. It is often the sternest among us who hold the saddest hearts. He wished me the same, and then—I almost couldn't believe it—he smiled! We exchanged some brief pleasantries, and… I don't remember what I said that brought this on, but suddenly he said, "Oh, that reminds me of a joke!" A joke! At first I thought I must have heard him wrong, because the Titan Vanguard had always struck me as the "no time for joking" sort. But he had barely begun telling this story before I noticed how much more relaxed his posture was. It seemed the spirit of the Dawning had reached even this stone man. I remember only pieces of the joke these days—I believe it had to do with a Guardian and a Fallen Captain?—but I clearly remember that he stumbled over the first few words and had to start again. I gave the warmest smile I could to encourage him, and he went on to tell one of the longest, most awkward jokes I have ever heard. And listen, I loved every minute of it. Truly, I couldn't have been happier. Oh, I clapped and laughed along with what I swear was real, true joy from Zavala. To have such a guarded soul open like that—few things are more beautiful. I admired him so in that moment, that he could push himself beyond the boundaries he'd held himself to. I remember hoping that I could someday be so brave in my own way. For the first time, I didn't just respect him as one of the City leaders. For the first time, I felt real, genuine affection for Zavala, the person. Zavala, my friend. He has been dear to my heart ever since. --- Gjallardoodles: Mix Ether Cane and Delicious Explosion, add Essence of Dawning, then bake.