Purple is restless.
She's been itching under their skin all day long, almost tearing loose during that fight with Violet. It was a stupid fight in the first place, just a suggestion that Triad brush up on her solo combat techniques, and she *does* need to practice working without backup. But she'd snapped back at her and immediately ground her teeth as her body tried to yank itself apart. They *like* Vi, they all do, and she should go find her and apologize, but something about that thought makes her feel--unsettled.
Stirred up and mixed up, and they don't understand why, and *that* scares them. Certain lessons are impossible to unlearn, and losing control of her triplicating is the worst thing that could ever happen. Even here, where they're safe, except lately--when did it start?--Orange insists that they're *not,* and Triad--
She'd thought she was getting better at not splitting when she didn't want to. She *had* been getting better. They hadn't even had as many arguments when they were alone--not real fights, at least. Just Purple tugging at their pigtails, and she's been doing *that* all their lives. Since Purple *had* pigtails, and had to settle for yanking Orange's ponytail until she cried and they could merge and hug her and tell her dumb jokes, split apart again to see her smile at them. It was always so *hard* to make Orange smile, back then.
She'd loosened up a little--they all had--after they found RJ, and after Purple had satisfied herself that he wasn't going to try to sleep with them, and after Triad was sure that Purple wasn't going to try and sleep with *him,* just in case. Purple could be very--aggressive about taking care of them. She'd done that once in the hospital. One of the nurses had promised to let them play sick for a whole week of therapy, made the offer while pushing her gown up around her hips. He had big, nervous hands and she panicked and split and for a second they were frozen, all four, staring at each other.
"Just me," Purple said, and glared at them, daring them to stop her. Triad and Orange huddled on the bed on the other side of the room and waited, listening to his grunts and Purple's silence, and Orange cried and apologized over and over, curled up tight against Triad like she was trying to integrate but had forgotten how.
When the door closed again there was a moment of rustling and then Purple said, "You can come out now."
"I *hate* you," Triad said, and ran out into the dayroom and refused to integrate until they were dizzy and sick. And it wasn't even so terrible, the rush of memories and soreness tingling over their skin. They'd been hurt far worse by the doctors. She was only so angry because she'd been about to do it *herself.* Because Purple never does anything Triad doesn't want to do, Purple is them and they're her and they always agree, even when they don't.
Except--it's different now. It was different today, when they split, how the breathless moment of *tug*--she'd stopped even noticing it years and years ago--how it *kept* tugging, after they split, like someone yanking on a string tied down deep inside her head. Something is changing inside them, shifting out of her grip.
By the end of the day, she can't think of anything but getting to her room and triplicating. There's no reason she needs to hide it, not really, except to prove to herself that she can. Or prove that she can't, except she doesn't know *what* they'll do then. So she fidgets and drums her feet and rubs her eyes and none of it helps, all day long, every part of her is restless and anxious and it doesn't even get better when she finally closes the door and lets go.
Purple stretches and growls while Orange smoothes her hands over her hips and presses her lips together, and Triad sits down hard on the bed and can't remember when she's ever been so *tired.*
"Don't *do* that," Purple says, her eyes bright and furious.
"Don't *fight*," Orange moans, almost at the same time, and Purple turns on her.
"I hate you. I hate you both, you can't tell me what to *do*--" She shoves Orange hard, and Triad goes to stop her and everything gets loud for a second, static filling up her head and her eyes, and just as she realizes that they've integrated again it's gone. She's sprawled on the floor, Purple struggling underneath her and Orange's knee digging into her back.
*That's* never happened before, and suddenly she's scared. Something is happening. Something is changing and it's never going to stop--
"--like you're not even part of me, just *stop* it," and Purple bucks up hard, throwing Triad loose. She's looking at Purple and it still takes a second to realize that the crying isn't coming from Orange.
Orange is behind her, and quiet. Triad is quiet too. She doesn't know what to say. It's Orange who crawls forward and puts her head on Purple's stomach and pets her chest and murmurs, "Sshhh, please don't, it's okay," until Purple slides her hands over hers and holds them. They stay like that for what seems like a long time, but probably isn't, and then Purple's hands shift to Orange's wrists and she squeezes hard.
Orange shivers and lifts her head. Triad can't see her face but she sees Purple's answering smile, warm and sharp, before she looks at Triad. "Hold her for me," she says, because asking would be meaningless, and Orange moans softly and Triad goes.
She undresses herself, then Orange, and they move until Purple is happy. Then she moves, and doesn't stop. She's restless, every part of her, all the way down to her hand between Orange's legs. It jabs and curls and Orange's thighs are trembling where Triad's got her hands on them, holding her legs spread. Purple hums and pushes her fingers in deeper, fast and hard enough to make Orange's hips jump. Triad kisses at her lip where she's biting it, trying to coax it free.
"That's right," Purple says. "We want to hear you. Nice and loud." As soon as she says it Triad knows it's true, and twitches with irritation. Orange clamps down tighter on her lip, trying to trap the helpless noises inside her mouth. She never used to fight so hard.
Purple fucks her harder, slow vicious thrusts that grind Orange's ass back against Triad. "We know you want it. You can't *lie* to me--"
"*Oh*--!" The sound bursts out of Orange like it's being driven, like Purple is fucking all the air out of her, just to make her *talk.* Triad presses her face into the crook of Orange's neck and shoulder and kisses her there, wet and biting. Closes her eyes and listens to Orange sobbing, Purple almost singing praise at her, such a good girl, so good for them, so *good.* Orange whimpers "no, no--" and works her hips back and forth, and jerks hard when Purple bends her head between her thighs, short hair tickling at Triad's knuckles.
Triad peels her fingers from Orange's thighs and strokes her belly, feeling the muscles jump under her hand--she's close, so close, and Triad can feel the echoes humming in her own body. She opens her eyes and shivers all over when Orange comes, wailing and clenched tight around Purple's fingers. Purple keeps sucking on her clit until Orange groans and tries to close her legs again, and then a little longer, because that's how she does everything and herselves are no exception. She finally lets Orange push her away and sits up, tugging her fingers free with a wet noise that makes Triad blush and press her hot face harder against Orange's shoulder.
Purple *wants* her to blush. Purple isn't ashamed of anything because she leaves it all for them--
"Suck them," Purple says, pushing her wet fingers against Triad's mouth, and her lips part without thinking. They've always all tasted the same, but it makes her whimper anyway and suck hard. Purple strokes her face with her other hand, gentle and soft, and watches her mouth. Like she'd be happy to just do this, all night, until her fingers don't even taste of salt.
Triad wraps her arms around Orange, hot and damp with sweat, and holds her tight, pushes herself down on Purple's hand until it's hard to breathe. "Oh, yes," Purple says in a low warm voice that feels like being held. She fucks Triad's mouth with short hard strokes and squirms closer until she can pull her hand away and kiss her instead. Orange is trembling between them and Purple is stealing her *breath* and they can integrate this way, too. She works her hips, rubbing herself against Orange's soft naked back, and Orange sighs and arches against her.
"Triad, oh, oh you're getting me *wet*--" She jerks and Triad breaks off, panting, and looks down where Purple is tugging on her nipples.
"This is what you want," Purple says, to Orange, to both of them, to all of them, and twists hard. Orange yells and she does it again, again, until Triad grabs her hands and says,
"Say it is. Say it--"
"I *want* it--"
"Me," Purple says, and pulls Orange forward onto her hands and knees. "You want *me*, Triad, tell me you do," and crawls, awkward but fast, around behind her.
"Please I want you please--" She's swaying on her knees, shaking--
"Need me--" Purple pinches her nipples, vicious and startling, making her scream. "*Yes,*" she says--almost a snarl--and grabs Triad's neck, pushing her face down against Orange's back, rubbing her face in her own wetness. "Lick her."
And then rubs her knuckles over Triad's clit, and it's a second before she can do anything but moan and rub her cheek all over Orange's skin. It's so good, so good, because Purple knows exactly what she needs, Purple will take care of them. She cups Orange's ass and spreads her, pulling her up until she's on her elbows, and starts to lick. Orange is moaning from the first touch of her tongue, and Purple strokes her clit again, over and over, fingers digging into her thigh. They're all *over* her, on her, in her, and she sobs into Orange's ass and works her tongue and comes.
"Don't stop, don't *stop*," Orange says, and she doesn't. Purple's fingers keep playing with her, not letting her *down,* and Orange is shaking and coming again and she'll never stop, never let them go, never...
She has to shove Purple's hands away, finally, when it starts to hurt too much. "Come here," Triad says, because they should *all* feel like this together. There's silence for a minute, except for their breathing, three identical rhythms not quite in sync. Purple says,
"I don't...I'm not. I don't know."
Triad frowns. "Don't you want--"
"No. I don't know." She pulls away. "There's something..."
Different. Changing. Here inside them--
"Don't you feel it?" Purple says, her voice plaintive and small. Triad feels cold suddenly, and wraps her arms around herself tightly.
Orange sits up and turns to look at them. "I don't feel anything."
"Like something in our heads." Purple is even quieter now. Triad thinks, integrate, we have to integrate now, before--
"There's *nothing,*" Orange says, and glares at them fiercely. "I don't feel anything. I don't."
Purple glances at Triad. Her face is open and so uncertain it's almost nauseating. "I don't know," she says again, and looks at the floor. When Triad integrates she only struggles a little.
Triad tosses her clothes in the sonic shower and turns it on. She turns out the lights and sits on her bed, listening to the whisper-soft hum of the machine, and thinks, There's three of us.
She doesn't know why that should scare her so much.