Where did Tavros get off to? Vriska frowned to herself as she stormed down the dormitory hall, having just finished pounding on the door to his room for the umpteenth time. Aradia had mentioned that Tavros was looking for her, but now she was searching for him, and he was nowhere to be found. She ran a quick mental checklist, ticking off on her robo-hand his favorite haunts. Room? No. Computer hall? She just came from there. Observatory? Equius was up there, Tavros wouldn't be caught dead or alive near him on a day like this. She fumed, yanking open the door to Kanaya's atrium, where she often could be found tending to the various flora she had rescued from their dying planet. Whether a result of some strange game mechanic or just the very nature of the plants, the entire atrium, from floor to ceiling, was rife with greenery. She remembered that sometimes Tavros liked to wander about in here. He said all the colors made him feel better when he was feeling sad.
Vriska huffed as she cocked her head, listening for any sign of the obnoxious clanking buffoon. There was no sign, but then, with the heavy layer of turf that covered much of the atrium, if he was anywhere within the twenty-floored garden, she'd have a hard time hearing him. Still, with those clanky metal legs, even walking on sod would make a significant sound, and leave noticable tracks-- and she could even see a few where metal walkway became asteroid-rock and then turf. Grinning in a manner that would better suit Nepeta, she began to follow the footprints. Not long now, my little boy-skylark... I'll find you soon enough... somewhere, at some point, it stopped being Tavros-wants-to-talk-to-you and transformed into Vriska-is-hunting-Tavros, but she didn't really care. Either way worked for her. After all, she had him cornered.
"ARRRGH! I could've sworn I had him cornered!" Vriska's rage echoed throughout the atrium. She'd followed the distinct footprints up nineteen floors, only to find at the 20th floor that the footprints indicated he had leapt down from the top floor. Certainly something he would be capable of now that he had nigh-indestructible metal legs, but she doubted he'd be that ballsy to do such a thing; throwing yourself off cliffs didn't seem much like something he'd do. Frowning, she stood at the overhang where he would've leapt, and gripped the railing angrily.
"What the hell? Where did he go?" She growled to nobody in particular, glaring at the lively green foliage around her as if it would offer up an answer.
"This isn't funny, Tavros! Wherever the hell you went, show yourself already! I'm sick of this little game!" She felt like she was going to pop a vein. "Fine! I see how it is! You're just fucking with me! 'Send Vriska on a wild goose chase, just to piss her off! Tee hee, I'm such a silly little Boy Skylark!' I don't care what the hell you wanted me to see! So, so, SO FUCK YOU!" She slammed her metal fist into the railing, and it crumbled under the impact; now standing before a wide open chasm, she fumed, but her rage dissipated almost immediately as Tavros stumped into view from beneath one of the plants on the ground floor. Looking up at her with a blank expression, he sighed and shook his head.
"Kanaya isn't going to be happy that you broke that, Vriska." He seemed awfully calm for such a sniveling little weakling. The fact that he wasn't cowering in the face of her rage just pissed her off even more. Hell, it would piss her off less if he was giving her that goofy smile of his.
"W-what do I care? It's, it's, it's a grubdamned railing with some grubdamned plants on it! What the fuck are you doing down there anyway? I followed you all the way up here! Now you're down there!" Vriska paced the length of the short gap in the railing, ranting as she did so. Turning on her heel, she pointed her metal hand accusingly down at him. "What the hell was so important that you'd lead me all the way up here for!?"
"So you could know our pain."
The sound of Aradia's voice behind her was entirely unexpected. So too was the feeling of an ethereal hand against her back. One soft push was all it took, and the ground far below rushed to meet her. Even then, she didn't scream. The only thing she could do was wonder.
Where did I fail? How could I let myself be so easily thrown off by such a simple trick?
What will become of me, when I die?
The ground felt decidedly... not like ground. She'd fallen on the ground a few times before, and ground certainly didn't feel like a pair of strong arms and a broad, warm chest. Vriska opened her eye, slowly, and hazily focused it on the Taurus symbol so plainly displayed on the shirt before her. After a moment's dumb staring, realization dawned, and she trailed her gaze up, to Tavros' face. A flat, unfeeling stare greeted her.
Not a smile. Not a frown.
She shivered despite his surprisingly noticable warmth. Say something. She couldn't bring words to her lips. Move. Her body felt like it was vibrating; the adrenaline of what she assumed would be her death had her paralyzed. DO SOMETHING! Just please don't stare at me like that! Her thoughts were unheeded, and her mind raced. Why? Why was he doing this?
Rising from the half-crouch he had caught her in, Tavros finally spoke, walking forward with slow, measured steps.
"You were certain your life was going to end. As the ground was coming up to meet you, you felt like a hundred possible questions you would never get to have answered ran through your mind. Like every possibility of everything you might ever get to do was being taken from you." His eyes were distant, focused no longer on her, but on something before him; she couldn't bring herself to tear her eyes from his face.
"You felt as if the very choice of whether to live or to die was gone."
She felt him move again, felt her whole world shift, but for some reason couldn't react, despite every fiber of her being screaming for her to move, twitch, scream, do something. It felt as if her body was betraying her. Like someone...
"...like someone else was in control."
Her eyes widened as the realization hit like an atom bomb. The cold metal underneath her hand, the feel of a rubberized surface underneath her feet... she finally looked down, and saw the battered remains of Tavros' four-wheel device, now a two-wheeled tangle of disrepair. She looked up again, only to see his back, turned away from her; after a moment, he half-turned, affixing her with a sad look.
"I don't wanna lose any more friends than I have to." Her vision was beginning to get blurry; she didn't need to touch her cheek to know the tears were running thick down her face. Tavros turned away again as she closed her eyes and lowered her head.
"Even the ones that don't know it."
Even at the sound of his footsteps faded, the soft 'click' of the door shutting, she could only draw her knees up to her chest and cry.