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Bright Eyes

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She can't take her eyes off of him.

From the moment she walks into her first class, she can't look away.

It's not like he's a particularly fine specimen of pubescent manhood - reddish blond hair, slim build, clothes too dark for his complexion (and wouldn't Kanaya be tickled at that, Terezi criticizing someone else's fashion) and heavy black glasses over his eyes. She doesn't think he notices her peeking at him - he doesn't look back, at least she doesn't think so. Then again, he could be shooting her a death glare behind those shades and she'd never know.

Stupid stupid dumb. Cool girls like Terezi do not stare at weird guys in their algebra class. No matter how oddly fascinating they are. She sighs, pushing back her own red shades to scrub her eyes. This jet-lag is getting to her something awful. Yeah. That's it. Jet-lag. She's tired, that's why she keeps staring like an idiot.

That's not even convincing in her head.

She wants to put her head down on the desk, but the asshole teacher is paying extra special attention to the extra special transfer student. Bluh. It's not like she needs it - she learned all this last year. Balancing equations is not that hard, dumbasses. Suck it up and quit bitching that your calculator won't tell you the answer.

The bell rings - finally - and she stands, stretching. She gathers her books and tosses one last, nonchalant glance at the boy in the corner. And does a double-take.

He slips his books into his bag - and pulls out what looks like a handful of white sticks - and unfolds them into one long cane - and taps his way down the aisle and out the door. He never glances left or right, just keeps his face straight ahead and tipped slightly down.

He's blind?!

-----

The blind boy is in two more of her morning classes, and her lunch period. A pretty blonde girl slips her arm into the crook of his elbow (and oh, Terezi aches when she sees him smile) and leads him over to a table with a boy and girl who seem to be in a competition for nerdiest brunette.

Terezi considers going over and taking an empty seat at their table, but dismisses the idea almost immediately. Cool kids do not go begging for friends, they are the ones who get begged. She finds an empty table instead, positioning herself so she can just see him out of the corner of one eye.

It's only as she's unpacking her lunch that the homesickness kicks in. She'd packed potato chips, out of habit, even though she only ate them when she used them to snag ranch dressing from Kanaya's salad. And chocolate milk, just to see Tavros's face scrunch up (really, who gets grossed out by chocolate milk?). And she'd swap half her ham and cheese sandwich for half of Karkat's peanut butter and jelly.

She could get ranch dressing from the salad bar, and chocolate milk was good no matter who she was with, and she could make whatever sandwich combinations she wanted tomorrow. But it wasn't the same.

She misses Alternian High. Misses doing math with Sollux, and copying history off of Aradia, and how Vriska could manipulate the teachers - even Mr. Slick - into doing almost anything she wanted. She misses how dark and gloomy it is back home - it's too bright here, too warm, the air too dry. Goddamn mom and her goddamn job making her move out to this goddamn city, and forcing Terezi to go to goddamn Skaian Academy. This sucks.

She tears into her sandwich, and squeezes her eyes shut so the tears don't burn their way out. Times like this her shades come in handy.

-----

She wasn't staring at him all through her last class, and she definitely isn't -

"I'm blind, not deaf or stupid. Quit following me."

God fucking dammit. "I'm not following you, touchy. I just happen to live in this direction." But she takes the opportunity to catch up to him anyway.

He's smirking, just slightly. "Whatever. You're the new kid, right? Terri... Traci..."

"It's Terezi."

"That's it. I'm Dave."

"Nice to meet you, Dave." They walk on in awkward silence for a while.

He breaks it first. "So how do you like Skaian?"

She hefts her bag higher on her shoulder. "Hate it."

He laughs and her heart skips a beat. "Ouch, that's harsh! You've been here all of one day!"

"So? I can still hate it." She resists the urge to stick her tongue out - it'd be extremely uncool, and he wouldn't see it anyway.

"How's that?"

So she tells him, in excruciating detail, about every single way his school, his city, and his life is infinitely less awesome than the one she left behind. They stop walking and he leans against a handy wall, idly folding up his cane and smiling slightly at her rant. And maybe she's exaggerating, just a bit, but it's worth it when he chuckles at some wisecrack about the sun.

Fuck on a Friday, she's pathetic.

She pauses for breath, and he takes his first chance to respond. "It's really not that bad, you know."

Stabbing glares really doesn't work on blind people, she's beginning to learn. "Which part, the heat or the classes or the fact that everyone I care about is three thousand miles away?"

"Actually, I was talking about the sun."

It takes her a moment. Then, "... oh, wow, did you really just go there?" Her coolness facade, which was already cracked by his presence, is utterly shattered.

"I really just went there. Now, what are you going to do about it, Miss Sooo Cooool?" That grin somehow makes her heart stop and her blood pump faster at the same time.

She takes barely a second to decide before leaning in close. "This," she whispers, snatching off his glasses.

Red eyes. He has red eyes, and they're beautiful. They widen but don't focus. "Hey, not cool. Give those back." He reaches in her direction, but she's already skipped back.

"No way. They look better on me anyway." They do, she decides, admiring her reflection in the side of a parked car. Coolness re-established.

"Seriously, Terezi, my bro gave me those, now can I please have them back." He's reaching in the direction of her voice, and his fingers just brush her shoulder before she gets out of the way again, suppressing a thrill of excitement.

"No, I don't think so." But she takes pity on him - really, how could she not? - and presses her own red glasses into his hand. "Here, you can have my old ones." Their fingers brush, and she shivers despite the heat.

Okay, definitely time to get out of here before someone does something they'll regret in the morning. She pulls back and jogs down the street, calling "See you tomorrow, Dave!" over her shoulder.

Smooth one, Pyrope. Really, good job on that one.

-----

Dave listens to her retreating footsteps (smacking the concrete, probably expensive sneakers, god what a poser). He considers chasing after her, but she's already out of earshot.

"Bitch."

His fingers trace the edges of her glasses. Pointy, frameless. Probably really girly. But he feels naked without something covering his eyes, so he slips them on and unfolds his cane. He's barely walked ten feet before he hears his bro's car (the engine has a distinct sound, he's got the exact pitch and rate of its growl memorized, and he could probably find it ten blocks away in a strange city during rush hour) and it pulls up beside him. Door opens and shuts, "hey lil' bro, what's with the shades?" Dave slips his bag off his shoulder and feels it taken, tossed in the backseat.

He sets a hand on the side of the car and walks around to the passenger seat. "Just some shit at school." Pop open the door, slip inside, don't bang your head and keep that cane out of the way. "What're you doing here?"

His bro flops back into the driver's seat with a grunt. "Had shit to do, figured I'd give you a ride home. Got groceries in the back." That explained the rustle when Dave's backpack had been tossed there. "I'm not getting you new shades."

"Won't have to, I'll get 'em back tomorrow." Dave sighs and leans his head back against the seat. "Is this shit you have to do a few hours' worth or a few days', 'cause I think Mrs. B's gonna call the cops if you disappear for a week again."

"Just a few hours." A sigh. "And I'm sorry about that. If this goes right I won't have to go away anymore."

"Whatever."

Silence, and Dave can feel his bro's stare.

"Those look good on you. Where'd you get 'em?"

"Oh shut the hell up."

Laughter, and all's right with the world again.

Except for the girly shades.

-----

And he's alone at home again. Bro helped haul in the groceries and stick them in the fridge, then he headed out again. "Don't set anything on fire until I get back, okay?"

"Aww, come on Bro, how come you never let the blind kid play with matches unsupervised?" His bro laughs and ruffles Dave's hair (and he knows he hates that, the asshole) and then he's gone again.

Dave sighs and heads for his room, only tripping over a puppet once - Bro's pretty good about keeping those things off the floor and out of the way, but no one's perfect. Dave can't remember the last time he sat on the couch without having to pull a plush something out from under his ass, and he really doesn't want to know what that something is.

But he makes it to his room okay, and boots up his computer, checking if any of his friends are online.

Morgan Freeman notes that ectoBiologist is online, and Dave takes a moment to chuckle before he opens a chat. He loves his text-reader.

[Open Pesterlog]
-- turntechGodhead (TG) began pestering ectoBiologist (EB) --

TG: hey bro
EB: dave! you're home early!
TG: yeah my bro gave me a ride
EB: nice! wish i had a brother sadface
TG: no you dont your dads awesome
TG: anyway thats not what i wanted to talk to you about
TG: what do you know about the new girl
EB: not much... she's from some tiny town no one's ever heard of
EB: apparently she's really really smart - she's in all honors
EB: kinda cute, but not really my type
TG: no shit
TG: everyone knows you have the hots for lalonde
TG: even the teachers are waiting for you two to hook up
EB: shut up!
EB: anyway...
EB: the new girl sat all by herself at lunch
EB: she didn't really talk to anyone all day
TG: so what some kind of emo kid
EB: no, not really! she seemed pretty cool
EB: just like maybe she needed a friend
TG: ...
EB: that means you dave
TG: what
TG: why would i want to be friends with her
TG: shes a straight-up bitch
EB: really? you talked to her?
TG: yeah she stalked me halfway home and stole my shades
EB: :O
EB: sorry surprised face
EB: she really took your glasses?
TG: yeah
TG: left me with hers
TG: please say theyre not girly please say theyre not girly
EB: they looked pretty effeminate bro!
TG: dammit
TG: where do you even get these words
TG: oh right your girlfriend
EB: she is not my girlfriend!
TG: only fooling yourself john
EB: in
EB: any
EB: case
EB: dot
EB: dot
EB: dot
EB: are you gonna wear them to school tomorrow?
TG: its either those or those pointy pieces of shit my bro wears
TG: and you know how retarded those look
EB: hers are pretty pointy too!
TG: what color are they
EB: red
TG: ...
TG: dammit
TG: dammit
TG: dammit
TG: thanks bro
TG: see you tomorrow
EB: see you dave! lol

--turntechGodhead (TG) ceased pestering ectoBiologist (EB) --

God fucking dammit.

-----

Terezi shouldered her door open. "Mom? You around?" Silence.

There are still boxes everywhere. She drops her bag on one and wanders into the kitchen.

A note stuck to the fridge:

"Terezi-
Out for work
Got some food
Do your homework
<3 Mom"

She opens the fridge - yep. That nasty vegan shit Mom's always trying to get her to eat. She'll order a pizza later. One with meat.

The memory of Mom's face last time she caught Terezi eating pepperoni makes her snicker. She grabs a lemonade - the only palatable thing in the fridge - and heads upstairs to her room.

Her bed is the only thing not in a box. She wades through the pile, looking for one in particular - there!

She pulls out her laptop and power cord, flopping onto the bed. Their internet's not set up yet, but their neighbor's isn't even password-protected. And Karkat's online, might as well let him know she's alive.

[Open Pesterlog]
-- gallowsCalibrator (GC) began trolling carcinoGeneticist (CG)

GC: H3Y K4RK4T
CG: OH HEY. I GUESS YOUR PLANE DIDN'T CRASH OR ANYTHING?
GC: 4PP4R3NTLY NOT
GC: 4LTHOUGH 1T WOULD B3 PR3TTY 1NT3R3ST1NG 1F 1T H4D 4ND W3 W3R3 ST1LL H4V1NG TH1S CONV3RS4T1ON
CG: GODDAMN, YOU NEED TO STOP TYPING LIKE THAT.
CG: IT'S ANNOYING AS FUCK WAITING TWENTY MINUTES FOR YOU TO SAY ANYTHING
GC: STFU V4NT4S
GC: L1K3 YOUR W4Y 1S 4NY B3TT3R
GC: M1ST3R SHOUTY MCSHOUTF4C3
CG: NEWSFLASH, DOUCHETTE:
CG: YOU DO THE SAME SHOUTY THING!
GC: K4RK4T
GC: DO YOU S33 TH1S TH1NG R1GHT H3R3
GC: TH1S 1S TH3 FUCK 1 4M NOT G1V1NG FOR YOUR OP1N1ON
CG: NO, I DON'T SEE YOUR RETARDED FIGURE OF SPEECH.
CG: WE'RE THREE THOUSAND MILES APART.
CG: FUCK
CG: TEREZI, THIS SUCKS.
GC: 1 KNOW 8(
CG: I COULD REALLY HAVE GONE FOR SOME HAM-AND-CHEESE AT LUNCH TODAY.
CG: WAIT
CG: WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR GLASSES?
CG: I THOUGHT THEY WERE B, NOT 8.
GC: OH Y34H
GC: 1 GOT N3W ON3S FROM TH1S W31RD K1D 4T MY SCHOOL
GC: TH3YR3 B1G 4ND ROUND 4ND BL4CK
GC: TH3Y LOOK SO SW33T 8D
CG: I BET THEY LOOK LIKE SHIT ON THAT HIDEOUS ASS YOU CALL A FACE.
GC: H3H3H3 LOV3 YOU TOO K4RKL3S <3
CG: UGHHHH.
CG: JUST TELL THE DRAGON-LADY HOW MUCH I HATE HER.
CG: YOU KNOW, FOR MOVING YOU OUT TO THE
CG: WHAT DID YOU CALL IT?
GC: BL4Z1NG WH1TE 4SSHOL3 OF FUCK4LL, NOWH3R3
CG: YEAH, THERE.
GC: 1LL B3 SUR3 TO L3T H3R KNOW WH3N N3XT 1 S33 H3R
GC: 1N TH3 M34NT1ME HOWS YOUR D4D
CG: HE'S DOING OKAY.
CG: LESS CRABBY THAN USUAL, WHICH IS, YOU KNOW...
CG: WORRYING.
GC: 8(
GC: 1TS GONN4 B3 OK4Y K4RK4T
CG: I HOPE SO.
CG: OH SHIT, I DIDN'T REALIZE IT WAS SO LATE.
CG: I HAVE TO GO STUDY FOR DROOG'S TEST FUCK FUCK FUCK.
GC: OH SH1T YOUD B3TT3R GO DO TH4T
GC: H3H3 4T L34ST 1 GOT OUTT4 TH3R3 B3FOR3 TH4T
CG: YES, YOU'RE A LUCKY LITTLE SKANK AND WE ALL HATE YOU.
CG: I HAVE TO GO, BUT WE'LL TALK LATER?
GC: FOR HOOOOURS 8D
GC: W3R3 GONN4 T4LK UNT1L TH3 SUN COM3S UP
GC: MY T1M3
GC: WH1CH M34NS YOULL B3 L4T3 FOR SCHOOL 4ND M1SS TH3 T3ST
CG: IF ONLY.
CG: LATER, TEREZI.
GC: L4T3R K4RK4T

--gallowsCalibrator (GC) ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist (CG) --

Terezi watches the screen until his handle goes dim, then closes the laptop and hugs it to her chest. God. She thought talking to someone would make the hole in her chest hurt less, not more.

She reaches over for the lemonade and chugs it to keep from crying. Dammit, Mom. Dammit, Karkat.

Dammit, Dave.