Chapter 1: Wet Grublings
"Eridan, look!" Eridan did not. ")(E)(E)(E)(E. Yeah! That's it! Glub, glub, yeah! Eridan, look! You're watching my finger and I'm swimming!"
"Fef, that's not me or you." Eridan craned his head away from the computer just enough to look at the aquarium, where Feferi was tracing her finger in arcs across the class. Sure enough, his grub clone was sitting at the bottom, watching the giant finger go back and forth with patient consistency. Feferi's grub was upside-down in mid-water, looking up at the glimmering surface of the water above her.
"I know it's not us, crabby. But they're so smart! Oh, look, here you come!"
The baby Eridan clone was crawling up the edges of the aquarium with all his little legs, and stopped at Feferi's finger and began trying to gnaw at it through the glass.
"------E-E-E-E!! Eridan, look!"
Eridan watched her, at least. He just could not understand the fascination. Up until a day ago the only Troll that had seen a grub in person in a thousand years had been equipped with cameras or a scythe, and the latter seemed to have no desire to go anywhere back near the things since. Personally, he could not see the appeal any more than Karkat. They were just crawly little things that felt really weird when they moved up your arm. Why was almost everyone else so damn excited?
"Okay! Okay. I have to get out of here or I won't get anything else done. Eridan, will you watch these two until Nepeta comes back?"
"Sure, Fef," he agreed with a yawn. Like they needed watching. No grubs in Troll history had ever needed watching and didn't enough of those always survive to start the next generation? He felt fairly confident that he could leave the room completely unattended for the next two hours and that both grubs would probably still have all their legs. But sure enough, after his first check just twenty second after being left alone, he found his young clone floundering on the surface of the water after an ill attempt to reach the island set in the middle of the tank.
"no no stupid" he said to himself, and scooped the grub out of the water and into his hand. The grub thrashed about for a bit, having landed on its back, and he took the opportunity to dry it off with the end of his scarf. It gurgled and squealed, but it did not take long to dry such a tiny thing and soon it was standing upright and looking around the bright world of air it had once again returned to visit with a wide-eyed, open-mouthed astonishment that drew towards lights and motion.
"Yeah, she's cute darting around like a big ole' shrimp, isn't she?" Eridan said when he clone decided to look back in the direction of his tank and tank-mate. "You better not screw up with her when you're bigger, you know. If she's anything like herself, she'll be the best moirail you ever had and you don't want to screw that up. And maybe while you're growing up you take some tips from the pro here we can keep you from growing up into another loser that strikes out all the time like, uh... like me. Say, uh..." He partially wondered why he was talking so freely to the infant all of a sudden, but it felt so natural. "Do you maybe want to go visit the other grubs?"
Two tiny grub eyes looked up into Eridan's, shimmering and soft, and he half smiled down at his copy, before it abruptly vented purple waste over his palm. "oh fuckin gross" he said. "wwhy'd you have to go and do-- No, don't go to sleep! Don't go to..." But it was too late. Tiny claws gripping tight, the grub clutched onto Eridan's pointer finger and immediately zonked out. He tipped his hand, trying at first to dump the baby back in the water, but the grip was so tight that even holding his hand entirely upside-down had no effect. Wanting to clean his hand, he was tempted to pull the grub off, but he just looked so peaceful that he could not find it in him to do. Feferi's clone did another lap of her tank while her tank-mate made barely audible snoring sounds.
"noww you see" Eridan said, pointing to his own hand. "this is exactly the type of loser thing i wwant you to avvoid"
Chapter 2: Dry Grublings
One thing you won't notice in this chapter is the sheer amount of time (half a month, like, forever) that passed between it and the last Grubfic by any author. I think that helps explain my choice of plot a little. But there was a request for grubfic after Bro's death, so here it is.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They sat about in a circle, each of them in clusters or apart, the room in total silence as though it would be sacrilege to break it after all that time. They were dirty, they were bloody, they were covered in sopor up to their elbows, they were dead on their feet. Naturally, it was Vriska who spoke first.
"Is anyone else glad they don't... remember...?"
"Thinking the same thing, my octo-sister."
Vriska sunk naturally back into the quiet, her eyes wandering about the room. Almost everyone was on the floor, barely awake, save for Kanaya and John, who were still making unbelieving rounds. Terezi was asleep outright, arms wrapped around Karkat's neck and her glasses fallen half off her face. Sollux could simply not get comfortable, adjusting the position of his fingers as though that might help compensate for the rough surface of the floor or the fact that he was setting his back against a table leg. Eridan, who was sitting on a table, and Feferi on the floor not far from him, could not stop looking at the empty aquarium.
John and Kanaya met near Jade and Rose, who had closed Rose's laptop, unable to keep staring at the screen any longer. "So..." Eridan asked John as he passed. "Do you humans...?"
"Well," John said, "We'd cry and... poop a lot."
Away from them, Kanaya's look of mortification grew, and she kept walking as though her next round would provide some new answer entirely. As she walked, she passed Dave and Tavros, who were lazily, hypnotized, staring at the one that lay between wall and floor in between them.
"Do you... uh, think she's got enough sopor?"
"I dunno. How much do you need?"
"Like... to cover you. I don't know. I didn't even know we made it until they started squirting it everywhere."
"Yeah," Dave said. "Someone should have told biology that we've got vats of the stuff in back." Errantly, he brushed at it. Like wax paper, but with a disturbing tinge of Trollflesh. For the dozenth time he lowered his shades to get a better look, but had to squint as it has hardened, darkened and become more opaque over time. Still, he could barely make her out: the tiny face of Aradia's grub clone, wrapped in a tight blanket of sopor and held snug and secure in her off-red cocoon.
Nepeta had barely been able to contain her excitement when Tavros' clone had suddenly started to spin his own in the corner by the nursery's litter box she had set up but none of them had ever used. She had woken everyone, even though it was the middle of the night, and the crowd had aggravated the other pupating grubs in no time flat. Soon they were wrestling for spots of no immediately apparent quality or crying, horns battered left and right, sopor belched before the cocoon was ready and the entire day had been one of those days - the messy ones - that parents simply have to suffer to absolutely no reward. Thirty-three hours later, it was over. The room hung with twelve pods glistening-slick, with refuse and debris and sticky strands that had to be cleaned up. They had set up tiny hammocks out of tablecloth underneath even the most securely attached raised cocoon. Nepeta's clone had started a false pod, whatever that meant, and Sollux's had not gone dormant for another two hours after sealing himself in, but now it was quiet. The cocoons began to harden and dry, and the only sound in the room was the slow breathing of their adopted lusus group.
Terezi, stirring from all the conversation, reached an arm over across Karkat's chest to hug him, and he wrapped his arms around her in turn, looking half ready to fall asleep, cheek pressed against her hair. No one in the room, however, looked more blasted from lack of sleep than Nepeta, who had been up for hours even before the day's excitement had begun, and she was still sitting up bolt straight. All that time spent tending to the grubs in "her" nursery had wired her wrong for sleep, and it was Equius that lay in her lap, no matter how dark the bags under her eyes became. It was he who spoke next, after the pause had grown unbearable.
"I..." he stammered, his hands grasping at the air before him and his tone warbling, almost as though he were not sure if he wanted to be heard by everyone or just Nepeta. "...miss them."
An awkward murmur spread through the crowd, acknowledgement, agreement, exhaustion. Kanaya began to wring her wrists, stepped back and sat on the floor, unlike all the others facing the wall. The wall she had selected held a full six of the cocoons: bright red, teal, a blue, an indigo, both greens, and she stared up at it with all the worry and Gamzee reached out and brushed the top of her foot.
"What do..." she started. "What do young Trolls even eat?"
"Haha, fuck if I know."
"...All right," Dave said, taking to his feet. "I can't take this any more. I'm going to watch a movie, and for once it won't be one of your stupid movies, or one of your stupid movies."
"Hey, man, my movies are cool."
"Strider, if you badmouth my films, I will turn your world upside-down so fast that--"
"Ah, ah, ah!" Dave raised a finger for silence. "Okay now, anyone who wants to come with me: we are watching Batman. There will be good ones, there will be bad ones. There will be awful romantic subplots and there will be psychopaths and vigilantes."
"I'muhh..." Terezi muttered. "...up. I'm up. What's this I'm hearing?"
Dave waved them out, and one by one they all took to their feet and filed out. Within an hour, every single one of them would be asleep at the feet of Jack Nicholson, draped over one another in a puzzle that would take five minutes to untangle the next morning. Meanwhile the nursery grew ever more still, the grubs lay in dormant sopor-sleep, suspended in a silent spot, tenderly and briefly between life and life.
That's all I've written. If I write any more, I will add them, but it's sort of a spur of the moment sort of thing.