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Just a Cup of Coffee

Chapter Text

caligulasAquarium [CA] began trolling cuttlefishCuller [CC]

CA: fef
CA: fef, please talk to me
CA: howw many times do i havve to say i’m sorry?
CA: glub, fef please
CA: i miss you
CA: wwe’re stuck here on earth noww
CA: all wwe havve is each other
CA: please fef, i need you
CA: i’m sorry
CA: you’re all i havve glub
CC: ---ERIDAN
CC: you krilled me
CC: i can’t forgive you for that
CC: 3>8(

cuttlefishCuller [CC] blocked caligulasAquarium [CA]

CA: but fef!
CA: glub
CA: i don’t havve anyone but you
CA: i’m sorry
CA: fef
CA: please

 

Eridan groaned, head sinking into his hands. He was sitting in a corner booth of a swanky little coffee shoppe that was ridiculously overpriced and run by sarcastic baristas in black shirts and dark wash jeans. Bohemian music pumped through the overhead speakers, and while Eridan had initially drawn to the atmosphere, right now it was just giving him a headache.

He peered through his fingers at the screen of his computer. After they had restarted the game, everyone that had died had been revived, and they all ended up living on Earth. Of course, they were the only ones that remembered Sburb. All the other humans and trolls acted as if they had always co existed. Though, in the alternate continuum they’d inadvertently created, they had.

“You played Sburb, right?”

Eridan’s head snapped to the side to look at the owner of the soft, accented voice. He was human, with blonde hair and shades covering his eyes. His mouth was a soft line, giving no indication of his thoughts. Eridan frowned.

“Yeah, I played Sgrub,” he said. The human nodded. The players of the game seemed to have something of a sixth sense when it came to recognizing other players, even ones they had never met. The human, a cup of black coffee in his hand, slid into the seat across from Eridan, watching the troll as he vainly tried to get Feferi to talk to him again.

Finally the sea troll sighed, shutting his computer and pushing it to the side. He took a sip of his cappuccino, wrinkling his nose when he realized it had gone cold. The human was tapping his foot and index finger softly, and Eridan couldn’t tell where he was looking behind the shades.

“You evver lost someone special to you?” the sea troll asked. The blonde human took a sip of his coffee before answering.

“Yeah, something like that,” he said. Then he moved down the seat, shifting to put his feet up. They rested on the other bench, next to Eridan. “So, got a name, sad sack?”

“Eridan,” the troll said, sighing as he rested his chin in his hand. “And you?”

“Strider,” he said. “Dave Strider.”

“Oh, wwait, you wwere that cool kid Terezi kelped on about,” Eridan said, sneering. Dave snorted.

“Wrong,” he said. He leaned forward on the table, then reached up and flicked Eridan on the forehead. “I’m the cool kid, present, past and future tense. No way anyone else could come close to this much swag, bro.”

“Swwag? Wwhat the glub is fuckin’ swag?” the sea troll asked, scowling. Dave smirked.

“Oh man, you don’t know? No wonder you were so desperate,” he said, leaning back.

“I’m not fuckin’ desperate!” Eridan shouted, slamming his hands on the table as he jumped to his feet. Dave’s face remained blank as he sipped his coffee. “Er…” the sea troll’s resolve faltered, and he sank back to his seat, trying to hide his lilac blush by hiding behind his scarf. “I wwasn’t desperate. I’m not glubbin’ desperate. I’m Eridan fuckin’ Ampora, human trash, and I’ll havve you know I wwas like a prince to my people!”

”Was, bro, was. Here, I’m still a king, to trolls and humans,” Dave said. “Can’t even walk down the street without bitches crawling all over me, trying to get a piece of Strider action.”

“Humph, and wwhere are all these bitches noww? Glub,” Eridan said. Dave snorted.

“Please, bitches can’t handel this much swag without swooning in my wake,” he said.

“Bullshark,” Eridan said. Dave opened his mouth to reply, but stopped as his phone vibrated. The hman shifted to pull it from his pocket and scrolled though the message. Eridan growled a little, then his trollian pinged. He glanced at Dave before checking it.

arachnidsGrip [AG] began trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]

AG: heeeeeeeey eridan
AG: ::::)
CA: wwhat the glub do you wwant?
AG: oh, don’t 8e so mean
AG: i’m doing you a favor ::::)
CA: wwhat could you possibly do for me?
AG: weeeeeeeell
AG: i’m getting married!!!!!!!! ::::D
CA: wwhat the fuck is that?
CA: oh wwait
CA: it’s that stupid human matespritship announcement ritual
CA: isn’t it?
AG: yessssssss! ::::D
AG: john finally asked me!!!!!!!!
CA: wwell fuckin’ congratulations
CA: so howw is you rubbin’ my face in your happiness kelping me?
AG: 8ecause i’m inviting you to our engagement party
CA: and?
AG: aaaaaaaand peixes will be there
AG: she’s still not talking to you, right? ::::(
CA: like you carp
AG: 8ut i do!!!!!!!
AG: i’ve turned over a new leaf, trying to be a good person
AG: and that includes caring about my friends!!!!!!!!
CA: since wwhen are wwe friends?
AG: we’ve always 8een friends, eridan
AG: duuuuuuuuh
CA: no wwe
CA: you knoww wwhat
CA: wwhatevver
AG: soooooooo
AG: does that mean you’ll come? ::::D
CA: yeah, sure, wwhatevver
AG: yay!!!!!!!! ::::D
AG: it’s at my apartment, at 8
AG: don’t 8e l8!

arachnidsGrip [AG] ceased trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]

 

“Well, this was fun, but someone cool as me can’t be seen with a hipster fish for too long,” Dave said, getting up and slipping his phone back in his pocket. “Enjoy your miserable life, bro.”

“Howw do you knoww my life is mi-sea-rible?” Eridan growled, turning to watch after Dave. The cool kid looked over his shoulder and smirked at the sea troll.

“Cause you aren’t me,” he said, and proceeded to walk out of the coffee shoppe. Eridan spat, looking back at his computer.

“Fuckin’ cool kid…” he said. At least I wwon’t havve to deal wwith him anymore…

Chapter Text

“Oh good, you made it!” Vriska said, pulling Eridan inside by his wrist. The lyrics ‘I found you miss new booty’ blasted through the apartment. It was a good sized place, not too big but spacious enough for two people to live comfortably and have the occasional gathering. There were movie posters everywhere, many featuring a human actor known as Nic Cage. Eridan tried to ignore them as he looked around.

“Yeah, wwell, my schedule happened to be free,” he said. Vriska chuckled.

“She’s in the corner,” she said, jerking her head in the general direction of one of the corners of the room. Feferi stood, hugging one of Sollux’s arms while talking to Kanaya’s human matesprit, the Rose human.

“Er, thanks,” Eridan said. Vriska grinned, patting Eridan on the back.

“That’s why I invited you, remember?” she said. Then she put a finger in his face. “Now don’t fuck it up!”

“Nice ring,” Eridan said. Vriska perked up, looking at the hand she was wagging in Eridan’s face. On her elegant finger was a blue ring pop, worn proudly.

“He says he’ll get me a real ring later, but I don’t really care. He wasn’t planning on proposing today, but then we were in the store and he saw the ring and geez it was soooooooo cheesy but it was John and it was sincere and sweet…” Vriska said, blushing at the memory. Eridan blinked in surprise. He’d never seen Vriska with such a soft smile before. He looked away, scratching the back of his neck.

“I… congratulations, Vvriska,” he said. Vriska chuckled, smile becoming more Vriska-like.

“Thanks, Eri,” she said. “Now go get her!”

Vriska pushed Eridan in the direction of Feferi, startling him. Regaining his composure, he squared his shoulders and kept his chin up as he walked towards the corner group. But, as he watched, his resolve crumpled. It was just… she looked so happy. Happier than he could ever remember, laughing at something the rose human had said. Eridan stopped in his walk. He bit his scarf.

Then, before he could be seen, turned and went through the door to kitchen. He punched the wall, pressing his forehead against it. Stupid stupid STUPID! Wwhat the fuck wwere you going to prove tonight? Wwhat good wwould makin’ Fef talk to you do? It wwould probably only make her hate you more.

Eridan closed his eyes, fighting the tears he felt coming. He missed Fef. Missed her so much it hurt. But it was his own damn fault, and there was no way for him to fix it. And that was what hurt the most.

That the only reason he lost her was because he was too focused on himself to listen to her.

“Shit.”

Eridan jumped at the soft voice, whipping his head around. It was Dave, just slipping his shades on as the sea troll looked. However, the way the human quietly sniffled and wiped at his nose let Eridan know he’d probably been in the same state as the troll was currently in.

“Wwhat the fuck are you doin’ here?” Eridan asked, scowling and wiping at his eyes. Dammit, wwhy him?

“I could ask you the same question,” Dave said, leaning back against the counter. “The blushing groom is my bro. I’m going to be the best man. What about you?”

“Er…” Eridan said, blushing lilac in embarrassment. “Vvriska invvited me…”

“Oh, so you’re friends with spiderbitch?” Dave asked, crossing his arms. Eridan bit his lower lip.

“Not reelly…” he said. “I mean, she sea-d she wwas tryin’ to make a neww start or somefin, so I guess I’m part of that…”

“So she’s using you to be a better person,” Dave said. Then he shrugged. “Guess that’s not a bad deal.”

“Wwell, she’s a pretty shitty moirail,” Eridan said, turning to lean against the wall. “Since she’s only thinking of herself.”

Dave snorted. Eridan sighed. Silence pervaded the air, sinking heavily to settle around them like a fog. The sea troll bit his lip, shifting his weight. The human seemed unperturbed.

“So,” Eridan said. “Wwhat are you doin’ in here?”

“Well, it’s pretty rude to have your best friend’s fiancée falling all over you at their engagement party, so I decided to give everyone a break from my dangerously high levels of swag,” Dave said. Eridan snorted and rolled his eyes.

“Bullshark,” he said. “You wwere cryin’ about somefin, I saww it.”

“Then you must need your eyes checked, cause it’s physically impossible for a Strider to cry. It’s scientific fact,” Dave said.

“Wwhatevver, you don’t havve to tell me,” Eridan said. Then he sighed. “It’s not like I’m spillin’ my guts ovver here, either.”

“Like I’m interested in the feelings of some random hipster like you,” Dave said, but without much bite. They stood in silence again. The sea troll coughed and shifted his weight.

“Here you are.”

Both men looked up as Sollux walked into the kitchen. He crossed his arms and glared at Eridan.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing here, dipthit?” he asked. Eridan snorted, straightening.

“I don’t need to tell you anyfin, landwweller,” he said. Then he gasped as Sollux’s psionics slammed him against the wall.

“That doethn’t even matter here, fuckath,” the mustard blood said. Then he leaned in close. “Leave Fef alone, fish fathe. Thhe doethn’t want to talk to you, and the doethn’t want to thee you. Tho back off, athhole, and leave uth alone.”

“Fuck you,” Eridan said, but his voice was lacking the vehemence it usually held. Sollux snorted and walked out of the kitchen. The sea troll stood, fuming for a minute, then turned and punched the wall. “Cod fuckin’ dammit.”

“So…”

Eridan flinched. He’d forgotten Dave was in the room after all the commotion. The sea troll slowly turned his head to look at the human. He could read nothing in the man’s face. Dave pushed off the counter, then patted Eridan’s shoulder as he walked past.

“Come on.”

“Wwhat?” Eridan asked. Dave didn’t turn.

“Let’s get a cup of coffee,” he said. Eridan blinked at the human’s back, then followed after him. They managed to make it across the room without anyone approaching them. But when they reached the door, Vriska’s matesprit stopped them.

“Whoa! Dave, don’t tell me you’re leaving already!” he said. Dave put a hand on the other man’s shoulder.

“Sorry, Egderp, but there’s more than one party demanding Strider swag, and I can’t deny them any longer,” he said. John bit his lip.

“Is this about Jade and Karkat?” he asked. Dave was silent, not making a move. Eridan peeked over to look at Karkat. He was sitting on the loveseat, a human girl curled against his side. He had his arm around her, and she was smiling and he was blushing while scowling. But happy Karkat scowling, not angry Karkat scowling. Eridan looked back at Dave.

“No, it’s not. You know why? Because when it comes to Vantas, not a single fuck is given. Not one,” the cool kid said, brushing past the John human. John looked after him.

“Dave-!” he said, but the other was already gone. Eridan cleared his throat as he moved past John, and the human watched him curiously.

Eridan had to jog to catch up with Dave at the end of the hallway. They rode in opposite ends of the elevator, Eridan trying not to stare. When they got off, Eridan followed at a distance, trying to decipher the human in front of him. Finally, Dave turned, making Eridan jump.

“Look dude, I know it’s hard to resist me, but I’d appreciate if you’d try to keep from undressing me with your eyes,” he said. Eridan growled.

“Yeah, right, like I would evver wwant to sea you naked,” he said, looking away all the same.

“Don’t worry, dude, I understand,” Dave said, walking again. “You don’t have to be shy. I know I’m a hot piece of ass.”

“Glub! Wwill you fuckin’ shut up?” Eridan asked. Dave turned, smirking as he entered the coffee shoppe they had met in earlier that day.

“Oh, is my voice making you uncomfortable? Maybe a little hot under the fins?” the human asked. Eridan snorted, brushing past Dave.

“Don’t flatter yourself,” the troll said, and he heard Dave snort behind him as he entered.

I reelly hope this isn’t howw this wwhole convversation is going to go…

Chapter Text

“Oh, mister black coffee returns,” the barista called, smirking as they approached the counter.

“Sorry, babe, I know I’m hard to resist, but you’re gonna have to try and keep it in your pants,” Dave said. Eridan rolled his eyes. The barista laughed.

“Oh, you must be Dave,” she said, nodding.

“Wwhat? You knoww him?” Eridan asked. Dave smirked.

“Don’t be so surprised, in-fish-ianato. I’ve got a fucking awesome reputation,” he said. The barista snorted.

“I dated Dirk in college,” she said. Dave stared.

“Oh, Nisha,” he said. The barista nodded.

“Yup. So, black coffee and a chai latte with extra cream and caramel?” she asked. Dave scoffed.

“Wwhat?” Eridan asked.

“That’s such a pussy drink, bro,” Dave said.

“Wwhat the fuck is that sea-pposed to mean?” Eridan asked, scowling.

“That real men drink black coffee,” Dave said. Nisha chuckled as she put the drinks on the counter and collected the payment from Dave.

“Oh you’re his brother alright,” she said.

“Wwait, wwhy did you pay?” Eridan asked as Dave led the way to the corner booth.

“I would never let a lady pay on a date,” he said, sliding onto the bench and putting his feet up on the opposite side. “Not the way a Strider rolls.”

“Oh, so this is a date noww?” Eridan asked, plopping down on the opposite side. Dave smirked.

“In your dreams, whale breath,” he said, taking a sip of his coffee.

“But you just sea-d that –oh glub forget it,” Eridan said, laying his head on the table.

“That’s ridiculously unsanitary, dude,” Dave said. Eridan snorted.

“I don’t glubbin’ care,” he said. They fell into silence, as seemed to be becoming habit for them. Eridan turned his head so that he was looking down the table and out the display window. The sea troll sighed through his nose. Dave faced the other way.

“Feferi,” he said. “That’s her name, right?”

“Yeah,” Eridan said. “And the human girl, her name is Jade?”

“Yeah,” Dave said. Then he snorted.

“Wwhat?”

“Nothing. Just never expected to be shown up by Vantas of all people. I mean, seriously? John’s such a derp that he’s ironically cool, but Vantas? Dude’s got nothing to offer.”

“I take it you don’t like Kar?”

“Gasp, how did you figure it out? And I thought I’d hidden it so well, too…”

“Duck.”

“Hate to break it to you, but those aren’t from the sea, bro.”

“I knoww that.”

“Sure you did.”

Eridan raised his head to glare at Dave. The human was still looking away, and the sea troll suddenly realized that, from this angle, he could just barely see Dave’s eyes. But then the human looked at him, and he couldn’t see them anymore.

“Are you plannin’ on insultin’ me all night? Cause I can leavve,” Eridan said. Dave took another sip of coffee.

“Go ahead. I didn’t come here for you,” he said. Eridan glared, but ultimately laid his head back down for another spurring round of silence.

“Did she knoww howw you felt?”

“… no. Did yours?”

“… yeah.”

“Harsh.”

“I did krill her.”

“Yeah, not exactly a Strider recommended method for making hot bitches swoon. Unless they’re into that kind of thing.”

“Wwho the hell do you knoww that wwants their matesprit to krill them?”

“You’d be surprised, bro. Lots of bitches are into S&M shit.”

“Like wwho?”

“Dave Strider never kisses and tells.”

“I think you’re full of bullshark.”

“Believe what you want, bro. I’ve still gotten more bitches than you could ever dream.”

“Fuck you.”

“I know you want to.”

“You fuckass.”

“Damn straight; no way I’d bottom to someone as pathetic as you.”

“You do reel-ze that’s a troll confession of red feelin’s, right?”

“… shit.”

Eridan smirked, having finally gotten one up on the cool kid. Silence fell again, but it was becoming less awkward with each new fall. Dave shifted to sit up.

“It’s late,” he said. It had already been late when they arrived, and indeed it had gotten later still while they had talked. Eridan rose to look at him.

“So… is this it, then?” he asked. Dave stared back from behind his shades.

 

“Tomorrow. Here. Noon,” he said, and stood. The human paused as he stood directly next to Eridan. “Don’t be late.”

“If I shoal up,” the sea troll said. Dave snorted. He hesitated a moment, then reached out and patted Eridan on the shoulder. The sea troll blinked in surprise, turning watch the human as he left. And continuing to stare after he had gone out the door.

“Word to the wise,” Nisha said, startling Eridan to looking up. She smirked. “If you plan on falling for a Strider,” she winked, “don’t let him know about it.”

“I… I wwas plannin’ no such thing!” the sea troll said. Nisha laughed, cleaning off his table.

“Sure, that’s why you were checking out his ass, right?” she said. Eridan snorted, getting up. He had been doing no such thing…

It wwas a pretty fin ass, though.

Eridan shook his head and growled, blushing. He stormed out the door.

No. No, I am not thinkin’ that.

He paused, standing in a street light. He ran a hand through his hair.

Fuck. I am not doin’ this. He’s not thinkin’ like that. I’m not doin’ this again.

Fuck.

Chapter Text

The next day, Eridan showed up at the coffee shoppe an hour early. It was mostly because, in this world, he was currently going to college and the coffee shoppe was nearby. His class ended at 10:45, and it would take too long to go home and come back. Or at least, that’s what he told himself, since his home was twenty minutes from class, and twenty five minutes from the coffee shoppe.

“Pining after him already?”

“Wwhat the- do you livve here or somefin?” Eridan asked, staring at Nisha. The barista smirked.

“I might as well,” she said. “I practically own the place.”

“Wwell… I just like it here,” the sea troll said. Nisha chuckled.

“I noticed. You’ve been here every day for like a month now,” she said, handing him his usual coffee.

“Thanks,” Eridan said, handing over the payment.

“But isn’t your little date, like, an hour from now?”

“… no.”

“Sam, I’m taking a break!” Nisha called vaguely behind her. A younger guy to emerged from the back as she hopped the counter.

“Wwater you doin’?” Eridan asked, gripping his cup with both hands and shifting uncomfortably. Nisha rolled her eyes, making her way to the back booth.

“I’m doing you a favor,” she said, flopping onto the bench Dave usually occupied. Eridan hesitantly sat down.

“Howw so?” he asked, taking a sip of his chai tea latte. Nisha leaned forward, resting her chin on her folded hands.

“You like Dave,” she said.

“No, I don’t,” Eridan said. Nisha waggled a finger.

“Not a question,” she said. “The trick is getting him to like you back.”

“Howw do I do that?” the sea troll asked grudgingly. Nisha smirked.

“Well, do you have any competition? Like, real competition? Cause if Dave is anything like Ambrose, I know he talks shit about all the ‘bitches’ he gets,” she said, rolling her eyes. Eridan snorted.

“Tell me about it,” he said, relaxing a bit. “No, I knoww there isn’t any competition.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Nisha said. “Do you think he knows you like him?”

“No, de-fin-itely not.”

“Are you really, really sure?”

“Yes.”

“Good. If he knows you’re interested, it’ll all go to his head.”

“So wwhat do I do?”

“You have to make him care about you.”

“Howw the glub am I sea-pposed to do that?”

“Easy. Call him on his bullshit and play on it.”

“Howw does that wwork?”

“Let me explain something about Striders to you. They think they’re the shit, and everybody loves them for it. So they expect things to come easily for them. When they find themselves faced with a challenge, they can’t help but go for it. You’ve gotta keep him entertained, or he’ll move on.”

“You knoww this from experience?”

“Something like that.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be. I dumped him.”

“There is no fucking way those words came out of your mouth.”

The troll and woman jumped and turned their heads to see Dave drinking his typical black coffee.

“Howw long havve you been standin’ there?” Eridan asked, sinking into his scarf as he blushed lilac. Dave smirked.

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” he said. Nisha rolled her eyes as she stood.

“Strider talk for he just got here,” she said. “Good luck, hipster.”

“Good luck on what?” Dave asked, sliding into his seat. Eridan cleared his throat.

“Nothin’,” he said. Dave quirked a brow, but said nothing further on the matter.

 

“So, there a reason you’re here so early? Too lonely to go on without seeing me any longer?” he asked. Eridan scowled, thinking of what Nisha said.

“I come here at this time evvery day,” he said, which was close enough to reality to be considered true. “Wwhy’re you here so early?”

“Why not?” Dave said, shrugging.

“Because you’re the one wwho sea-d noon glub,” Eridan replied, taking a sip of his drink, watching Dave carefully. He hoped taking Nisha’s advice was the right way to go…

“Irony,” the human said, but the sea troll noted that he recrossed his legs. Interesting.

“Could you explain howw that’s ironic?” Eridan asked. The sea troll could feel Dave staring at him through his shades. The human took a languid sip of his coffee.

“Because you’re the desperate one, and I showed up early,” he said. You just mackereled that up. You’re just as desperate-

Eridan paused in his thoughts as it clicked into place.

He’s just as desperate as I am.

“Fin,” the sea troll said, trying not to smile. “So… are you in school?”

“Yeah,” Dave said, shifting his weight again. “Music major, concentration in visual performance. You?”

“Double major in physics and creativve wwritin’,” Eridan said.

“Interesting choice,” Dave said. Eridan rolled his eyes.

“That’s wwhat evverybody sea-ys.”

“It surprises you?”

“I guess not. It’s just glubbin’ annoyin’.”

“There a story behind that choice?”

“Lalonde bet me I couldn’t get better grades in creativve wwritin’.”

“Whoa, wait, you have a class with my sister?”

“Oh yeah. I forgot about that. I guess I do.” Eridan scowled. “Three classes.”

“My sympathies.”

“Does she do that psycho bubble shark wwith evveryone?”

“Anyone she can sink her Freudian claws into.”

Eridan and Dave then proceeded to discuss Rose at a length, and the conversation turned back to their classes. They swapped gossip about the teachers, students, and everyone in between.

After about two hours, Dave had class and Eridan had rehearsal at the community theater. Apparently, his melodramatic tendencies did have some use. So they parted ways and agreed to meet again the next day, except this time there was no set time.

It made Eridan smile.

***

“It has been brought to my attention that you are currently in a burgeoning relationship with my sibling,” Rose said as Eridan sat down in the desk next to her. He stared.

“Wwho told you?” he asked in a loud whisper. Rose quirked a brow.

“Said sibling, of course,” she said. “Though I am inclined to wonder after that suspiciously defensive response to such an innocuous question.”

“Wwhat?” Eridan asked. Rose gave a small sigh.

“Allow me to chose a more common form of parlance in which to phrase my inquiry,” she said. She leaned towards the sea dweller. “Why so defensive, Eridan?”

“De-fin-sivve?” Eridan said, leaning away from the young woman and looking askance. “I’m not glub bein’ de-fin-sivve.”

“I must insist that you are being defensive, and following this behavior with a beautiful display of evasion,” Rose said. She shifted back in her seat, resting her chin on her hand. “Thus I must conclude that you consider your relationship with my brother a private matter. Am I correct?”

“You… coddammit I’m not talkin’ to you,” Eridan said, facing forward. Rose smiled.

“Could you elaborate on the reasons which led you to this unfortunate decision?”

“Wwhat does that evven mean?”

“Why are you refusing to speak with me?”

“Because I’m not lettin’ you get inside my head.”

“You are doing a spectacular job of avoiding a conversation thus far, my sea dwelling friend.”

“I… “ Eridan pursed his lips together, looking away.

“So then, are you going to admit to your concupiscent feelings for my errant sibling or shall I continue to carry this conversation until you do?”

“Alright, I’m here.”

The class, with the exception of Rose and Eridan, shifted to focus on the professor as he walked into the room. Rose gave the sea dweller a pointed look, and the troll blushed as he turned to watch the teacher. The woman kept her slight smile through the rest of class, and Eridan rushed to leave the minute they were through. And proceeded to be what he perceived as sneaky and paranoid as he made his way to the coffee shoppe. He began to relax as he looked over his shoulder walking into the shoppe, with no Rose in sight.

Of course, not looking ahead of himself, he ran smack dap into her standing in front of him.

“Wwha-“

“Please, Eridan, I should hope that by now our acquaintance is sufficiently close for you to come to the conclusion that I would ask my brother where he chose to speak with you,” Rose said, patting herself down.

“Uh… oh, glub,” Eridan said.

Chapter Text

“Oh, we have a new comer to the table?” Nisha asked as they approached the counter. Rose quirked a brow and Eridan sighed.

“Rose Lalonde, Dave is my brother,” the young woman said, holding out her hand. Nisha smirked as she shook.

“Nisha Neela,” she said. “I used to date Ambrose.”

“I am wise in assuming that is the full name of Dave’s Bro?”

“You betcha, honey. Ambrose never mentioned you, though.”

“The situation is… complicated.”

“Isn’t family always complicated?”

“I suppose you have a rather accurate point.”

“I have a bachelor’s in psychology. I tend to know my shit,” Nisha said. Then she smiled and held out her arms. “I mean, just look at what that big fancy degree got me!”

“Sis, didn’t know you were joining the party.”

Eridan and Rose turned as Dave strolled, leaning against the counter.

“Well, I felt it appropriate to look after your interests while you are otherwise compromised.”

“I don’t need a babysitter Lalonde.”

“Oh, did Strider the sequel get his heart broken?” Nisha asked.

“Yeah, broken by the lack of the sweet, reground nectar of black sludge, in some circles known as coffee, in my hand,” Dave shot back, but he was still watching Rose. And he looks… kind of pissed off.

But Eridan figured he must be deluding himself, because how could he tell if Dave was pissed off when he still had his shades and the stupid poker face?

“Can you move it along? I have a photo shoot in an hour,” a guy with a very nasal voice said, taping his foot impatiently. Taking the hint, the three at the counter got their drinks and shuffled back to their booth, Rose taking Dave’s seat, and Dave sitting next to Eridan. The new arrangement surprised the sea dweller, but he was by no means displeased.

However, Rose’s bemused smirk caused him to do his best to hide his smile in his drink.

“So, you must come here fairly frequently for the barista to be so familiar with you,” Rose said.

“Wwell, I’vve been comin’ here for a wwhale,” Eridan said.

“Can’t help if she wants the Strider remix,” Dave said, stretching out in his usual manner. Which caused his arm to be placed just behind Eridan’s back, almost around his shoulders. The sea troll glanced at him sidelong. Is he doin’ that on porpoise? But the man’s expression gave nothing away. Eridan sighed in irritation, looking out the window.

“Naturally, I’m sure your swag was far too much for her to handel, like a moth to a flame,” Rose said. Eridan glanced her way and was somewhat surprised by the subtle intensity of her stare.

“More like a moth to a raging inferno of irony and awesome shit,” Dave replied. Rose quirked a brow.

“You are truly a master of description, brother.”

“If I got too detailed, I might just turn your brain to mush from exposure to pure swag.”

“My brain and I thank you for your kind consideration.”

“I don’t know, sis, your brain might have appreciated being turned to mush. Then you couldn’t work it so hard with all that thinking.”

“Ah, and you are an expert on not thinking, I take it?”

“Lalonde, I’m a master of everything. Born prodigy.”

“Care to indulge me with a display of this non thinking behavior? I’m afraid I find it hard to imagine, with as much as I do think.”

There was a pause. Eridan was having a slight amount of trouble following all the subtext between the two siblings. He was still trying to work it out when Dave suddenly shifted, pushing his arm forward to wrap around the sea troll’s shoulders, and Eridan turned his head reflexively to be met with Dave’s lips against his.

Wwhat the evver lovvin’ fuck!?

And just like that the human was leaning back again, completely relaxed against the bench while Eridan flushed purple.

“See? No thinking,” he said, and took a sip of his coffee. Rose’s eyes danced.

“Yes, I do see,” she said. Then she stood, smiling only slightly. “And I also must be off to a prior engagement. Good day, gentlemen.”

It was quiet as Rose left, and Eridan sat stewing until he couldn’t take it any longer.

“Wwhat wwas that glub about?”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, you knoww wwhat the fuck I mean.”

“You where there.”

“I knoww I wwas glubbin’ there. But wwhy in the name of cod did you… you…”

“Kiss you?” Dave said, heading whipping to the side to look at Eridan, eye to shades. The sea dweller gulped.

“Yeah, that.” Fuck, wwhy am I blushin’? It wwas just a glubbin’ kiss…

“Why not?” Dave asked, and Eridan tried to lean back as the human inched closer. The sea troll was stopped by Dave’s arm around his shoulders.

“Because… because…”

“Don’t tell me you haven’t been kissed before, bro.”

Eridan flushed darker violet. Yes.

“Of… of course I’vve been-“

“You really haven’t. Huh.”

Eridan stopped talking. Dave had moved uncomfortably close, face only inches from the troll’s. The sea dweller couldn’t move back, and face to face with the shades, he looked at the human’s mouth instead. Even unplanned, the kiss earlier had been… nice.

Then Dave smirked and leaned away, and Eridan scowled.

“Disappointed?”

“You’re a fuckin’ tease, Strider.”

“I prefer to think of it as being an ill controlled sex god, unable to stop my impulses.”

“Then could you kelp me out and put a lid on it, oh sex cod?”

“Sex cod? Not as impressive, but pretty ironic.”

“Tch, then it fits you better.”

“Then I guess I’m the sex cod now.”

“Shoal, you’re the sex cod, swwimming up the glubbin’ stream of bein’ a fuckin’ tease.”

“Not bad, Ampora. Still needs some work, though.”

“Of course it does, mister born prodigy.”

“Damn straight, Prince of Hopeless.”

From there, the conversation dissolved into some less than witty banter. The pair fell into a more relaxed, natural atmosphere. Eventually Eridan put some distance between them, and they drank their coffee and chatted in peace until they parted for the day.

***

caligulasAquarium [CA] began trolling cuttlefishCuller [CC]

CA: fef
CA: fef, i need to talk to you
CA: please, it doesn’t evven havve to do wwith you
CA: i just…
CA: i need advvice
CA: please, i don’t knoww wwho else to ask
CA: fef, i knoww i wwas a shitty moirail
CA: glub
CA: i really need to talk to someone
CA: fef

cuttlefishCuller [CC] blocked caligulasAquarium [CA]

 

Eridan sighed at his husktop. He had got on it once he’d gotten a free moment at the end of his day. It had been a long shot, he knew, but he had hoped Fef just might talk to him, just this once. She was the only one…

…unless…

Eridan bit his lip, then tried the only other person he could think of.

caligulasAquarium [CA] began trolling arachnidsGrip [AG]

CA: vvris
AG: hi eridan
AG: did you need some help?
AG: :::: )
CA: you’re still on this good person line then
AG: ugh
AG: i already told you
AG: i am a good person now
AG: why won’t you believe meeeeeeee
AG: D::::
CA: because you’re you
CA: and you used to be my kismesis
CA: wwell
CA: almost kismesis
AG: eri, you have the dumbest reasons
AG: all the dumb reasons
AG: all of them
CA: yeah wwell wwhatevver
CA: listen, i need some advvice
AG: you can ask me anything
AG: :::: )
CA: wwhatevver
CA: okay, so wwhat do you do
CA: wwhen you think you like someone
CA: and they might like you back?
AG: wellllllll
AG: i’ve never had that problem
AG: i’m too sexy to resist :::; D
CA: oh cod you seaound just like him
AG: him????????
AG: this isn’t about peixes?
CA: er uh
CA: it’s
CA: it’s not about anyone
AG: eri has a new crush!!!!!!!!
AG: :::: D
CA: no i don’t coddammit
AG: suuuuuuuure you don’t
AG: so what makes you think the other person
AG: who is not your new crush
AG: likes you?
CA: wwell…
CA: he
CA: i mean, the hypothetical person
CA: kissed me
AG: he kissed you?
AG: then what’s the problem????????
CA: i don’t knoww if he’s glubbin searious or not
CA: it’s so frustratin
AG: hey, if he kissed you, he’s got to be serious
CA: thanks, that’s soooooooo flatterin
AG: hey it’s just the truth
AG: don’t get your seahoofbeasts in a twist
CA: sorry
CA: it’s just
CA: the fuckin cool kid has me so glubbin
CA: wwait
CA: fuck
AG: you like dave????????
AG: :::: D
CA: no i
CA: that wwas
CA: glub fin
CA: yeah i like the cool kid
AG: and he kissed you????????
CA: yeah
CA: but i don’t knoww if it wwas real or his irony shit
AG: i’m going to need time for this one
AG: i’ll get back to you
CA: no wwait don’t

arachnidsGrip [AG] ceased trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]

Eridan pounded his forehead against his desk.

Wwhy did I evven bother…

His trollian chimed and the sea troll’s head shot up. He blinked at his screen a few moments.

ectoBiologist [EB] began pestering caligulasAquarium [CA]

EB: hey eridan!
EB: hehe
CA: uh
CA: hi
EB: oh, wow, this might be awkward
EB: since we haven’t really talked before, huh?
CA: uh yeah
CA: i’m kind of seaprised
EB: well, vriska told me how you liked dave
EB: which is kind of weird, by the way
EB: hehe
EB: and she asked me to talk to you
EB: since he’s my best friend and everything
CA: oh
CA: i guess i can sea wwhy she’d think that wwould be a good idea
CA: glub
EB: yeah so
EB: uh, well, i don’t really know what to say
EB: since dave’s my bro
EB: and i never really thought about trying to date him or anything
EB: hehehe
EB: that would have been weird
CA: er
CA: i wwouldn’t reelly knoww
EB: what do you mean?
EB: wouldn’t you think it was weird to think about dating your friends?
CA: glub
CA: i don’t reelly havve
CA: friends
EB: but what about vriska?
CA: she’s not reelly a friend
CA: i just
CA: didn’t havve anyone else to ask…
EB: oh
EB: oh uh
EB: well, I could be your friend
CA: i don’t think it wworks like that
EB: sure it does
EB: i’m being a friend
EB: giving friendly advice
CA: i
CA: i guess so
EB: hehehehe
EB: good
EB: so here’s my advice
EB: dave acts really cool
EB: but i know deep down he’s a really caring, nice guy
EB: so
EB: you just gotta let what happens, happen
CA: that’s it?
EB: well yeah
CA: just do nothin
EB: i guess it sound kind of lame when you say it like that
EB: but i mean
EB: that’s how it works in all the movies
CA: shit, you’re goin off movvies?
CA: i might as wwell havve asked kar for kelp
EB: oh i don’t think so
EB: he and dave don’t really get along hehe
CA: yeah i noticed
CA: wwell, thanks for you shitty advvice
EB: uh, you’re welcome?

caligulasAquarium [CA] ceased trolling ectoBiologist [EB]

Eridan pushed back from his desk with a sigh.

Wwhat a wwaste of time… maybe John’s got a point, maybe I should just stop wworryin’ and let things floww. Natural like.

The sea troll sat, eyes unfocused and full of blank thoughts before sighing again.

Guess that’s all I can do.

Eridan closed his husktop, then rose to get ready for sleep.

Wwhatevver.

Chapter Text

Eridan groaned, the pinging of his trollian waking him up. He pushed up from his bed, resting on his elbow. He glared into the blurry husktop sitting on his desk, then sighed. He stretched, trying to reach for the damn annoying-

“Fffffuck!” the troll half cursed, half groaned as he fell out of his bed and unto the floor unceremoniously. Grumbling, he picked himself up, using the desk chair as support. Though, given it was on wheels, it slipped forward. Eridan’s expletives colored the air as he landed back on his ass, then finally stood up in a huff. He grabbed the desk chair, pulling it up off the ground, then slamming it back down. he grumbled some more as he sat down, squinting as he read the teal text on his screen.

gallowsCalibrator [GC] began trolling caliguousAquarium [CA]

GC: H3Y 3R1DAN
GC: GOOD MORN1NG >:]
CA: wwhat the evverlivving fuck terezi
CA: do you knoww wwhat time it is?
GC: DUH
GC: 4:13 4M

Eridan’s face met his palm. Of course she knows…. Then he sighed, and let his hand fall.

CA: fine
CA: wwhat do you wwant?
GC: WHY DO 1 H4VE TO W4NT SOMTH1NG
CA: because i can’t think of any other reason wwhy you’d be talkin to me
GC: R34LLY
GC: NOT 3V3N ANYTH1NG N3W?
CA: anythin
CA: wwait
CA: oh my cod
CA: are you serious right noww?
GC: WH4T 3V3R DO YOU M34N? >:]
CA: this is about davve
GC: COULD B3
CA: howw the hell did you
CA: you knoww wwhat, i don’t wwant to knoww
CA: but wwhy do you care?
CA: i wwas pretty glub shore you didn’t evven like me
GC: 1 DON’T
GC: TH1S 1S 4BOUT D4V3

Eridan blinked at the screen. Well, that was one he didn’t expect. He’d heard about Dave and Terezi’s break up. It was about as gentle as Terezi’s treatment of corrupt officials in court, media fest included x2. No, really, it was on the news. They had started a strife battle right in the middle of a popular park. That was why Eridan knew about it at all.

CA: oh
GC: WH4T
GC: JUST B3C4US3 1 4LMOST ST4B 4 GUY THROUGH TH3 BLOODPUSH3R 1 C4N’T ST1LL H4V3 F33L1NGS FOR H1M?
CA: that’s not wwhat i meant!
CA: i wwas just
CA: surprised
GC: OF COURS3 YOU W3R3
GC: 1T’S NOT L1K3 YOU’R3 4 S33R OR 4NYTH1NG
GC: H3H3H3 >:]
CA: so wwhat do you wwant
CA: besides stealin my time to sleep

There was a pause. Eridan waited, reaching behind himself to grab his glasses from his nightstand. He slipped them on, sitting back. The sea troll folded his arms.

GC: …
GC: 1S H3 OK4Y?

Eridan considered the question. He bit his inner lip. It’s not like I’vve knowwn him that long… fuck, wwhat do I say?

CA: i don’t knoww
CA: i’m not the one wwho dated him
GC: BUT YOU’R3 TRY1NG TO
GC: R1GHT?
CA: i’m
CA: considerin
GC: SO YOU 4R3
CA: goddammit
CA: wwhy is this such a big fuckin deal to evveryone?
CA: i’vve tried havvin a ton of other relationships
CA: and this is the first time so many people havve actually tried to help me wwith one
CA: is strider really just that special?
CA: fuck
GC: …
GC: 1’M SORRY?
CA: wwhat no don’t fuckin apologize
CA: it’s just
CA: wweird
CA: that all these people are tryin to kelp
CA: and usually no one cares
GC: W3LL
GC: TH4T’S B3C4US3 YOU’R3 YOU
CA: thanks
CA: that’s so glub fuckin enlightenin
GC: NO N33D TO G3T T3STY
GC: 1T’S NOT MY F4ULT YOU’R3 YOU
CA: is that all you wwanted?
GC: J3GUS WH4T CR4WL3D UP YOUR NOOK TOD4Y?
CA: nothing
CA: i just tried of gettin told i’m a glubbin fuck up
CA: like i don’t already knoww
GC: WHO4 TH3 GR34T S34DW3LL3R 4DM1TT1NG H3 H4S PROBL3MS?
GC: COLOR M3 SURPR1S3D
CA: shore let’s all make fun of eridan
CA: he wwon’t mind
CA: it’s not like he’s a livin breathin troll
CA: with fuckin feelins and shit
CA: no, he’s just fuckin free entertainment
CA: evverybody gather round and laugh at the glubbin freak
GC: OH MY GOD 3R1D4N
GC: W1LL YOU SHUT UP
GC: TH1S 1S WHY NO ON3 L1K3S YOU
CA: wwhat?
GC: YOU’R3 4LW4YS SO M3LODR4M4T1C
GC: ‘OH MY GOD, LOOK 4T M3, MY L1F3 SUCKS SO MUCH. 1 C4N’T G3T 1NTO 4 R3L4T1ONSH1P B3C4US3 1’M TOO FOCUS3D ON HOW 1’M F33L1NG 4ND NOT HOW TH3 OTH3R P3RSON F33LS, NOT TH4T TH4T’S MY F4ULT 4T 4LL. COM3 ON, WON’T YOU P1TY M3? W3H W3H W3H’
GC: 1T’S SUCH HOOFB34ST SH1T, 1 SW34R
CA: i
CA: i don’t glub sound like that
GC: Y3S YOU DO >:[
GC: 4LL
GC: TH3
GC: T1M3
CA: i don’t!
GC: YOU DO
CA: i
CA: fuck
GC: S33
GC: DON’T TRY TO 4RGU3 W1TH 4 S33R
GC: 1T N3V3R 3NDS W3LL
CA: wwell
CA: i
CA: glub
GC: H3H3H3
GC: W3LL GOOD LUCK
GC: 4ND R3M3MB3R TO TH1NK 4BOUT SOM3ON3 B3S1D3S YOURS3LF
CA: wwait wwhat

gallowsCalibrator [GC] ceased trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]

Eridan slapped his hands against his desk in frustration. Wwhat the hell? Wwas that supposed to glubbin’ help me? Fuck.

The seatroll started as his trollian pinged again. He was more surprised by the gray text that proceed to litter his screen.

carcinoGenecist [CG] began trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]

CG: DON’T SAY ANYTHING
CG: DON’T YOU DARE TRY TO EXPRESS WHATEVER SHITTY IDEAS ARE SWIMMING AROUND YOUR FUCKING HEAD LIKE A SCHOOL OF DESPERATE FISH IN AN OCEAN OF NARCISSISTIC SELF LOATHING
CG: I’M NOT SAYING THIS SHIT TO TALK
CG: BUT FUCKING EGBERT HAD SOME KIND OF BRAIN ANUERYSM AT FIVE IN THE FUCKING MORNING
CG: AND DECIDED TO MAKE YOU ONE OF HIS GROOMSMEN
CG: AND SINCE FUCKING STRIDER IS INCOMPETENT AS USUAL, IT’S MY JOB TO TELL YOU SHIT
CG: THERE’S GOING TO BE A MEETING AT STRIDER’S APARTMENT TODAY AT 7
CG: IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE THAT IS TOUGH SHIT GO ASK SOMEONE WHO CARES
CG: AND I’D REALLY, REALLY APPRECIATE IT IF YOU DIDN’T SHOW UP
CG: BUT I’M NOT THAT LUCKY

carcinoGenecist [CG] ceased trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]

Eridan read through the message several time to be sure he read it right, then sighed. He sat back, rubbing his eyes.

Wwhy do I feel like it’s goin’ to be a long day?

Chapter Text

After getting the address to Dave’s apartment from Gamzee, Eridan had debated going to this meeting until he had physically left his apartment. Now he stood in front of the doors to the building, continuing to dither about whether or not this was a good idea.

“Oh my fucking god you actually showed up,” Karkat said, making Eridan jump as the shorter troll appeared behind him.

“Um,” Eridan said intelligently.

“No, no, don’t talk. My thinkpan can only handel so many headaches at the same time, I don’t need whatever idiocy that decides to come out of your loadgaper added to them,” Karkat said, blowing past him. The shorter troll paused, then looked back at him. “Just… follow me, okay? Fuck, you look like a nervous hopbeast.”

“W-wwhatevver, I’m just not used to bein’ in such a carpy part of towwn,” Eridan said, striding behind Karkat like a miffed prince. The stubby-horned troll ‘tch’-ed and rolled his eyes, leading the way. When they were on the elevator, they stood at opposite ends. Karkat crossed his arms, and Eridan studied the wall next to him.

“You know, not that I care or anything,” Karkat said, “But using fish puns isn’t going to make Feferi forgive you.”

“I knoww that,” he said softly. Then he shook his head. “I-I mean, that’s not wwhy I use them!”

“Sure, whatever,” Karkat said, decisively ending the conversation. Eridan sank back into the corner. It’s not wwhy I use them. Reelly.

The elevator stopped on the 27th floor, and that’s where Karkat got out, Eridan on his tail. He walked all the way to the end of the hallway, where he pulled a key out of his pocket. The seadweller blinked as the other troll opened the door.

Kar has a key? Wwait, wwhy is that? Not that it matters or nothin’…

“Jesus fucking Christ Strider, what is that?” Karkat yelled over the sound blasting throughout the apartment. The shorter troll muttered something under his breath, stuffing the key back into his pocket as he stormed into the back of the apartment. Eridan stood, fidgeting awkwardly as he looked around.

Wwell, looks like Kar knowws his wway around. Fuck, it is loud…

There were speakers set up everywhere, and what was coming out of them could only be called music in the loosest sense. There seemed to be two conflicting melodies, with separate time signatures and no real rhythm. There also seemed to be a counter melody to an entirely different piece, and harmonies half a step off. Like a toddler had taken a music maker on the computer and key smashed for a while before hitting play.

The ‘music’ suddenly cut off, making the apartment seem strangely empty. Eridan could hear Karkat yelling somewhere in the background, and there was a knock on the door. The sea troll opened the door to Sollux working on a tablet computer. The psionic glanced up and did a double take.

“Hold on AA,” he said into his Bluetooth before muting it. “What are you doing here?”

“I-“

“Egbert had a fucking explosion in his thinkpan, and the mush that was left decided to make Eridan one of his groomsmen, which he needed to tell me at five in the nooksucking morning.”

Eridan turned to see Karkat stomping over to the door, Dave leaning against the doorframe connecting the living room area to a short hallway. Sollux frowned.

“Theriouthly?” he asked, expression sour as he pushed past Eridan. Karkat rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, I know, alright, just deal with it,” he said, walking with Sollux to the couch. He shot Eridan a glare, daring him to say something, and the sea troll settled for a flat glare. In short order the other groomsmen arrived, and everyone was seated around a coffee table in what passed as a living room area. Eridan ended up sandwiched between Gamzee and the arm of the couch, at the indigo blood’s insistence.

“So, starting from all the great ideas we generated last meeting-“

“No, you do not get to be a sarcastic douche, Strider. Not when the most monumentally stupid idea was uttered from your insufferable protein chute, just like every monumentally stupid idea is.”

“So you’re saying people should build a monument in my honor?”

“Yes, Strider, that is exactly what I’m saying. They will create a monument made out of whatever earth metal you choose, and it will be you, reprsented in your shitty art style, except ten times worse. And there will be a plaque reading: This is a warning to all future generations; never be this much of an insufferable douche, or the world will hate you. And every year people will make burning sacrifices in front of it, praying that no one becomes as big a douchenozzle as Dave fucking Strider.”

“You’re almost right, sweetheart. There will be a monument of me, in my shitty art style, but it’s gonna read Most epically cool dude to ever grace this lowly planet with his presence, and they’ll burn Sweet Bro n’ Hella Jeff comics every fucking day, in hopes that the offering is worthy enough to get even a idea of the levels of cool they would experience by seeing me in person.”

“Oh my god does your thinkpan ever catch up to the filth spewing from your unadulterated, ungodly face hole, or has that shit that sounds like the apes in Tarzan on steroids where dropped into a china shop that just happens to carry heavy machinery and dying animals that you seem to believe is music finally rotted it into a pile festering mush?”

“My beats are pretty unique.”

“That was not my point. You fucking asshole.”

Eridan’s head was spinning in a sad attempt to make sense of the exchange of extended metaphors, to no avail. He looked around to see if anyone else in the room was having better luck.

Sollux seemed engrossed in his phone, hardly paying the argument any attention. Gamzee and Tavros were paying each other more attention than anyone else in the room, and Equius was… well, just kind of standing there, sweating uncomfortably.

“Are you guyth on again? I mean, I know you thaid you were done with all the black ‘flingth’, but thith ith very public flirting, tho thomeone might get the wrong idea. Jutht thaying,” Sollux said suddenly, making Karkat flinch in surprise. The troll muttered something, blushing as he crossed his arms and leaned back on the couch. Dave made no comment, but might have smirked the smallest bit when he looked toward a particularly interesting part of the ceiling.

“Ah… I had an... idea…” Equius said, making everyone turn to him. Silence reigned as the blue blood gulped, sweating more profusely at the stares.

“Come on out with it, Equius bro,” Gamzee said at last, making Equius flinch.

“Well… it’s only partial my idea, most of the credit goes to my moirail, who suggested a… a ball,” the STRONG troll said. “And, given the dispositions of the couple, maybe not having two separate parties, and maybe just one…”

“That is the stupidest-“

“I like it,” Dave said, interrupting Karkat. The nubby horned troll turned on him.

“What!? I thought you were completely for cheap beer and strippers,” he said, incredulous. Dave shrugged.

“Which, as you pointed out, is not appropriate for Egderp,” he said. “Besides, this plan has so many volumes of irony that it’s filled fifty libraries already, and doesn’t look like it’s stopping anytime soon.”

“You and your fucking irony shit,” Karkat said. “Do you even know the definition of the word, bulgemunch? I looked it up in fucking Merriam and Websters; irony- a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other's false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning ; or, not whatever Strider decides he wants to ignore the real reasoning behind by throwing out a random word he learned from his human lusus.”

“Wow, even the dictionary can’t keep away from me,” Dave said, and Karkat leaped up with a snarl.

“KK, you’re doing it again,” Sollux said. Glaring at Strider, Karkat slowly sat back down.

“Fine. We’ll put it to a vote. Everyone that says no, raise your hand,” he said, raising his own.

“Would we have to danthe?” Sollux asked.

“Yes,” Equius said, causing Sollux hand to shoot up as well. Tavros’s hand followed a moment later.

“Something wrong, Tav bro?” Gamzee asked, blinking in surprise. Tavros chuckled nervously.

“Uh, well, it’s not that being able to walk again isn’t great and all…” the reset of the universe fixed the damage to Tavros’s legs, “but, uh, dancing is, well, different.”

“Well, you’re entitled to your mother fucking opinion,” Gamzee said, smiling. “But I still think you’d be a mother fucking miracle on the dance floor.”

Tasvros didn’t say anything to that, just smiled widely while a brown blush tinted his cheeks.

“Okay, so that’s three against. Now raise your hand if you’re for it,” Karkat said. Dave rolled his eyes (Wwait, wwhat? He still has those fuckin’ glasses on, howw the fuck wwould I knoww he rolled his eyes) and raised his hand, along with Gamzee and a tentative Equius.

“Fuck, we’re tied,” Karkat said, preparing for a headache. Dave arched a brow.

“There’s seven people in the room, Karkles,” he said, eyeless gaze suddenly falling on Eridan. The sea dweller looked around as he realized everyone was now staring at him. Well, Karkat and Sollux were glaring, but same difference, really. Eridan shifted uncomfortably. Fuck, I don’t evven knoww wwhat’s goin’ on, wwhy are they all wwaitin’ on me? Fuck.

“For or againtht, ED, I don’t have all day to wathte on you,” Sollux said. That cinched the decision.

“For,” the sea dweller said, causing Karkat to face palm and Sollux to shake his head while returning to his phone.

“You stupid grubfuck, why would you even say anything?” Karkat half moaned in dismay. The question, however, was directed at Sollux, not Eridan.

“Thhup up, KK,” the mustard blood said, scowling.

“So, looks like we’re decided, now all we need is a place to host this thing,” Dave said, smirking just ever so slightly.

“I can provide a suitable location,” Equius said. Karkat turned to glare at him.

“Like I can believe that the most perverted troll in the goddamn universe knows a place where we can hold a ball, and knowing autistic cat girl, it’s probably a whole traditional earth ball with the dresses that can fit the Russian circus and suits that have ten show buttons for every real one.”

“I say we give it a chance,” Tavros said. “Uh, I mean, since Equius did bring up the idea, and, uh, you know.”

“You know what? Sure? Why fucking not? Not like this isn’t going to go as successfully as your attempts to go down stairs with robolegs,” Karkat said, flopping back on the couch as if utterly defeated.

“Hey, not cool, K-man,” Gamzee said, frowning vaguely at Karkat. The nubby horned troll sighed and sat back up.

“Yeah, you’re right, it wasn’t. Sorry, Tavros, I’m just an idiot douchebag, don’t listen to me,” he said, sincere. Gamzee was smiling again as Tavros muttered something affirming. Eridan was only half paying attention to the exchange. The other half of his attention was caught by the fact that Dave was still watching him. He looked back, arching his brow pointedly. Wwhat does he wwant?

“So, looks like this meeting’s over, finally,” Karkat said, standing. It took everyone a minute to do the same. “Equius, just send me the address of this place and we can all go check it out to make sure it isn’t the lobby of some hoofbeast fetish sex hotel.”

“That is so… depraved,” Equius said. “I think I need a towel…”

“Then go and fucking get one,” Karkat said, walking over and opening the door to Dave’s apartment, ushering everyone out. Dave remained lounging as the others left, Eridan trailing out last.

“Catch you later, Prince of Hopeless.”

Eridan flinched, the snorted.

“Wwhatevver, sex cod,” he said, walking smoothly past Karkat. He noticed that the other troll closed the door without leaving, but didn’t worry too much about it. What did he care about Dave’s black quadrant, anyway?

Wwait… I thought humans didn’t havve a black quadrant...

The sea dweller shrugged. Maybe today wouldn’t be so bad, after all…

Naturally, he was horribly, horribly wrong.

The minute he stepped outside the apartment building he was flung through the air into side of the building next to it, courtesy a red and blue light show. Sollux, scowling walked up to him while keeping him pinned against the wall. Eridan growled as the psionic pointed a finger in his face.

“Listhten, I don’t like you, and you don’t like me, tho thith ith how thingth are going to go,” the mustard blood said. “You aren’t going to talk to me, or even look at me if you can help it. And I’ll even return the favor. And, if you try to talk to Feferi…”

Eridan gasped as there was a sudden psionic punch to his gut.

“… well, I’m thure you can imagine.”

“Fuck you, Sol,” the seadwell gasped, getting his breath back.

“Captor.”

Eridan squinted to see Karkat standing there. He hadn’t noticed until just now that his glasses had fallen off when he was thrown against the wall.

“What?” Sollux asked, crossing his arms.

“Put him down.”

“The fuck? He detherveth it!”

“I know, but… just not here, okay?”

“… fine.”

Eridan fell to the ground as Sollux’s psionic’s released him. Karkat and Sollux said something else, but Eridan wasn’t paying attention as he rose to his feet.

“Here,” Karkat said, suddenly in front of Eridan and practically shoving the sea dweller’s glasses at him. Eridan blinked, slipping them on.

“Er, thanks,” he said frowning. Karkat snorted, looking away. Eridan shuffled his feet awkwardly.

“Well, yeah. See ya,” Karkat said, and walked off without giving Eridan time to reply. And noww wwhat the fuck wwas that? Wwhatevver…

With a sigh, Eridan headed to the local theater, prepared to practice for his role in the upcoming play, A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

Chapter Text

“You’re late,” Dave said, sipping his usual black coffee as Eridan sat down. The sea troll scowled.

“Practice ran late,” he said, head dropping into his hands. Dave arched a brow, setting his coffee on the table and leaning back.

“What happened?”

Eridan snorted.

“I don’t wwant to talk about glub it,” he said.

“Dude, come on. You’re a mess. You pretty much need to talk about it.”

Eridan gave him a withering glare, then sighed.

“Our Demetrius broke his leg,” he said. Dave snorted. “It’s not funny.”

“An actor broke his leg? Literally broke his leg, rather than the typical ‘can’t say good luck’ bullshit? No, there are no levels of humor there at all. In fact, it’s even less humorous than internet memes that are so old the internet didn’t even exist when they were created,” Strider said. Eridan tried to scowl, then rolled his eyes.

“Fin. It’s… ironic to say the least,” he said, taking a sip of his drink. Dave gave a small nod.

“So...?” he asked, encouraging Eridan to continue his story.

“So they might havve to cancel the showw.”

“Because one dipshit broke his leg?”

“Demetrius is one of the main characters. Don’t you knoww anythin’ about Shakespeare?”

“Sure, I know all about Willy Shakes. Used to go to high school with him. Quiet guy, kind of melodramatic. Took everything way too seriously. I think he was gay, too.”

“Fuck you, okay? Glub, so, smartass, do you knoww anythin’ about A Midsummer Night’s Dream?”

“Isn’t that the one about all the dumbasses in love with the wrong people?”

“Yes. That one.”

“So Demeter-“

“Demetrius.”

“Dicktrius is one of the love struck dumbasses?”

“Glub yes.”

“And you didn’t have an understudy?”

“He eloped.”

“…”

“It’s not funny.”

“Like hell it’s not.”

“It’s not! Glub, I havve been wworking on this glubbin’ play for month noww! And noww it glub might not evven go on! So glub it’s not glubbin’ funny!”

“…”

“…okay, it’s kind of funny. But not glub right noww.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I don’t knoww!”

Eridan slapped his hands on the table, then after a moment put them up to bury his face in them.

Fuck, and it’s one of the feww things I don’t fuck up….

”Maybe I can help.”

It took a moment for the phrase to register in Eridan’s brain. The sea troll looked up, surprised as Dave coolly sipped his coffee.

“Wwhat?”

“Maybe I can help?”

“But you already glub said you don’t knoww anythin’ about the play!”

“Yeah, but I can memorize shit like a computer on steroids.”

“Oh really?”

“How else would I be able to put together sets for last minute gigs? It’s not all just going with the flow of the moment, you know. Not when you’ve got music involved.”

“… you’d havve to talk to the director,” the sea troll said. Is he serious? Fuck, I really can’t tell if he’s serious or not…

“Okay,” Dave shrugged. Then he took another drink of his coffee, looking out the window.

“Okay,” Eridan said, still a little lost. Then he remembered what Terezi had said, that thing about thinking about other people…

“So… uh…”

Dave looked back to Eridan, waiting. Well, this isn’t awwkwward…

“I… didn’t realize you and Kar wwere close.”

You fuckin’ idiot. Wwhy the glubbin’ FUCK wwould you say that? Howw is that thinkin’ of someone else? That’s like him bringin’ up Sol! IDIOT! Glub!

“We used to have kind of a black thing going on,” Dave said, voice lowering maybe half an octave, and losing what color it had. Wait… did he always talk in monotone...

“Oh.”

“It didn’t really get anywhere.”

“Ah.”

“This girl, well… Jade wasn’t a big fan of it.”

“I… see.”

The silence stretched again.

Okay, okay. You can salvvage this. Just change the topic to somethin’ cool.

“So… he still has a key to your apartment?”

Mental Eridan facepalmed.

“Didn’t see a reason to bother taking it,” Dave said, shrugging. “It’s not like he just up and barges in like some troll cop, busting my chops whenever he wants. He usually just uses it when I’m being an ass or hard to reach.”

“Oh,” Eridan said. Then he frowned. “Shouldn’t that be John’s job?”

“If you haven’t noticed, Egbert’s a great guy, but he kind of doesn’t know when he needs to kick a guy’s ass,” Dave said, setting his drink down. “The most he does is start freaking out, and then he doesn’t tell you about it, he just asks someone else what to do. And as long as I don’t flat out ignore him, he’ll pretty much back off.”

“Oh, so it’s like… a tag team morailligiance?”

“…yeah, I guess you could call it that. I mean… well shit, I have done the same thing for Vantas when John freaked out. The fuck.”

“Relationships are wweird,” Eridan said, leaning back. Dave shrugged in agreement. The silence this time was more comfortable. “Do you wworry about her?”

“Who?”

“Jade.”

“Oh.”

Eridan waited as Dave seemed to chew over his answer.

“No. As much as I hate him, and as much as I wish it were me, Vantas isn’t a bad guy. And he really likes her,” the cool kid said. “Plus, she knows how to take care of herself. If she weren’t happy, she wouldn’t stay with him.”

“Oh, that… good,” Eridan said. Dave tilted his head a bit.

“Do you worry about the girl you like? Feferi?”

“… I didn’t really think about it,” the sea troll said, looking into his coffee. It’s true, isn’t it? I didn’t even stop to wwonder whether or not she wwas happy. I wwas just wworied about howw glubbin’ sad and pathetic I wwas. “I’m such an asshole.”

“Maybe.”

“Thanks.”

“Well I’m not going to lie. Shit never really gets anyone far.”

“Wwell, honestly, I’m the wworst piece of shit to evver try and pity someone.”

“I wasn’t going to go that far.”

“But it’s true!” Eridan said, slamming his hands down on the table. “I tell a girl I’m completely fins ovver feet flushed for her, and I don’t evven stop to wwonder if she’s happy or not? Wwhat kind of asshole does that? Wwho the fuck deservves that?”

Dave didn’t seem to have an answer. Eridan searched for a few seconds, then sighed.

“Fuck.”

He crossed his arms on the table, resting his forehead on them. I’m such a fuckin’ failure. Not only can I completely fuck up tryin’ to think of someone else, I can figure out that I’m evven more of a fuckin’ asshole than I thought I wwas. Fan-glubbin’-tastic.

“Hey.”

Eridan didn’t respond.

“You know, if you keep wallowing in the past, it isn’t going to make you a better person.”

Eridan snorted.

“It’s… okay, look, it’s good to notice you made mistakes, but instead of sitting here and sounding like a whiny asshole-“

“Thanks.”

“-you’re welcome, you can learn from them and you know… do better.”

“…”

“You’re not going to stop being a whiny asshole if all you do is be a whiny asshole.”

Eridan picked his head up, resting his chin on his arms instead This put him about eyelevel with Dave’s sternum.

“That’s vvery motivational.”

“You know who was motivational?”

“Oh god, wwho?”

“Hitler.”

“Wwhat?”

“He was a very motivational guy. And I tend to try and not be like tyrannical dictator assholes, so I can’t be motivational, because that would make me like Hitler.”

Eridan snorted, then he did it again. Then he sat up as he started laughing.

“Se-seriously? That was lame, ha ha, especially, glub, for ha you,” the troll said between laughter. Dave sipped his coffee, the smallest of smiles playing on his lips as he watched the sea troll crack up.

“It’s only the truth,” the cool kid said. When Eridan had calmed down a little, Dave continued. “See, if an asshole like that can have good qualities, why can’t a good guy have bad qualities?”

“But wwhat if I’m an asshole with good qualities glub?”

“Assholes with good qualities don’t consider themselves assholes.”

“You sure about that?”

“Positive.”

I don’t think that’s really true.

“… thanks.”

“…”

Dave looked out the window again, and Eridan stared at his coffee.

“So… what is this play about, anyway?”

Eridan sighed in relief before launching into a long winded summary of the play, actually reciting most of the lines word for word until they both suddenly realized it was dark out, and parted ways. The sea troll smiled as he walked back to his apartment, feeling much better than he had all day, maybe even all week.

When he got home, he went to his husktop immediately.

caligulasAquarium [CA] began trolling twinArmaggedons [TA]

CA: look, sol
CA: i knoww wwe’vve had our differences
CA: and i’m not tryin to start anything
CA: i just wwanted to say

Eridan paused, biting his lower lip. Did he really? Yes, yes he did.

CA: i screwwed up wwith fef
CA: but glub if you make her happy
CA: then i guess
CA: then i guess that’s okay
TA: …
TA: you’ve got two be kidding me
CA: no
CA: i’m completely serious
TA: ii’m not telling her you 2aiid that
CA: that’s okay
CA: as long as she’s happy
CA: it’s okay
TA: well
TA: okay, ii gue22
TA: you’re 2tiill an a22hole
CA: so are you
CA: glub
CA: this wwas about fef
TA: well
TA: okay then

twinArmaggedons [TA] ceased trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]

Eridan stared at his screen, smiling bitterly as purple tinted tears streamed thinly down his face.

That’s it. I did it.

He removed his glasses, wiping his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt.

I let her go.

And, with that, the sea troll broke into quiet sobs, finally mourning the loss of a lover he never really had.

Chapter Text

A few days later Karkat sent out a text letting all the groomsmen know where to meet. It was a few hours outside the city, and Eridan got his car out of storage for the trip. It was a pleasant drive, and the seatroll rode with music blasting out of his black sports car convertible, the roof down to supply the natural AC.

When he pulled up to an ornate iron fence, he had to double check the address.

“You’vve got to be kiddin’ me…”

He pulled up to the fence, where a plump green blood security guard checked his ID before waving him through. Eridan stared his entire drive up the long the driveway.

There, on top of a gentle hill, stood a massive mansion, which seemed to be loosely modeled after the castle in the movie about the flushed relationship between a beautiful woman and a beast that Eridan couldn’t quite remember the name of. Parking next to what few other cars there were, the sea troll craned his neck to look at the top of the building.

“You’vve got to be kiddin’ me.”

Still craning his neck, the sea troll strode up the shallow stairs to the entranceway. He raised his hand to knock, but flinched when the door opened before he could.

“Hi, Eridan,” Nepeta said, seeming unsure how to act towards him.

“Uh, hi, Nep,” Eridan said, lowering his hand.

“So, um, you’re part of the wedding purrty too?”

“Yeah, it wwas kind of a last minute thing.”

“Oh, I see.”

They stood looking at each other in silence a moment, before Nepeta seemed to make up her mind. She grinned.

“Well, don’t just stand there, come in!” she said, wrapping both arms around one of Eridan’s, virtually dragging the sea troll inside.

“Do you uh… livve here?” the purple blood asked, letting himself be led through the wide, expansive halls. Nepeta nodded enthusiastically.

“Yep! Equius let me pick the design, and I just love Beauty and the Beast, so I thought that castle would be purrfect,” she said, turning down a hallway full of mirrors. Eridan squinted against the influx of light. “Of course, he’s used to living in a castle, so it wasn’t really a stretch for him to have one built…”

“But… howw?” Eridan asked. His family was certainly wealthy, but he didn’t think they even had enough money to afford having a castle built.

“Hm? Oh, well…” Nepeta stopped abruptly, looking around surreptitiously before answering in a stage whisper. “I’m really not supposed to tell anyone about this, but have you heard of Sir Equestrian?”

“That neww Harlequin romance wwriter that’s gettin’ a shit ton of attention?” Eridan wasn’t sure why they were whispering, but figured he might as well play along. Nepeta nodded, waiting. And then it hit. “Wwait, you don’t mean-“

“Yes!” the cat girl nearly squealed, wide grin across her face as she resumed leading Eridan through the house.

“But… but… I didn’t evven think he could wwrite,” Eridan said. Nepeta giggled.

“Shows what you know. Just because I could nefur get him to role play with me, doesn’t mean he would have been the purrfect partner,” she said. “That’s why I’m going to start writing with him, as Lady Felioness.”

“That sounds… nice, for you guys,” Eridan said. Wwhat the evver loving fuck…

“It’s fantastic!” Nepeta said, finally pulling the sea troll through an open set of double doors and into a ballroom. Eridan gaped.

“So we’re finally all here,” Karkat said, scowling as Eridan and Nepeta joined the group in the center of the room. There was Equius, looking rather uncomfortable, Rose and Kanaya, whom seemed to be more interested in examining the room then the others, Jade and Feferi talking excitedly about something or other, Gamzee and Tavros just kind of hanging out, Sollux standing off texting away on his phone, and Dave talking off to the side with Terezi.

Wwait hold up- Terezi’s here? Wwhen the fuck did that happen?

Eridan swallowed, but decided to hold his silence.

“Well, what do you think Karkit- er, Karkat?” Nepeta asked, releasing Eridan.

“I think-“

“It’s excellent, Nepeta,” Kanaya said, interrupting him as she and Rose turned back to the group. “And, as for your request, I do believe that I can construct something acceptable.”

“Yay!” Nepeta yelled, ramming into Kanaya’s middle to give her a hug.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait,” Karkat said, crossing his arms. “What are you two scheming? And you didn’t even wait for me to tell you if this would work or not. I should probably just say no on principle now, since you couldn’t wait to get your shit together until after you knew you had shit to get together.”

“What?” Nepeta asked, eyes going wide as she released Kanaya. “You can’t mean that! That would be pawful!”

“No, it would only be what you-“

“Oh, come on Karkat, don’t be mean!”

Jade, breaking from her conversation with Feferi, looped an arm through Karkat’s. She smiled at him, and the troll was hard pressed to keep up his angry façade.

“Maybe they just didn’t want you to have to work so hard! That way, they were doing you a favor!” Jade said, smiling brilliantly. Eridan snuck a glance at Dave. He was still talking with Terezi a little bit off.

Good, the seatroll thought. He wasn’t entirely certain why, but he thought it was good.

“Hmph,” Karkat said, starting to blush lightly. “Fine. What is this idea you think is ever so purrfect that you felt you just fucking had to discuss it with Kanaya before consulting me?”

“Nope! Can’t tell you! It’s a surprise!” Nepeta said, grinning. Karkat made as if to reach out and choke the cat girl, but Jade frowned at him with a flat glare, and he quickly crossed his arms again.

“Kanaya?” he asked instead, turning to the jadeblood. Kanaya smiled.

“I am afraid that I have already promised to keep this a secret,” she said. Karkat heaved a sigh.

“Fine. You know what? Whatever. It’s supposed to be Strider’s decision, anyway,” he said, turning to glare at Dave’s back. Terezi, despite being blind, seemed to notice, and pointed her cane at the group. Dave turned around, then strode over while putting his hands in his pockets.

“Do you need something, or just admiring the view?”

“Fuck you. Yes, we need something,” Karkat said. “We need to know if we’re going through with this pathetic human ritual in this location, or if we need to find another venue.”

“Oh,” Dave said. He stopped, then gave the room a good examination. “Yes.”

“Yes!” Nepeta said, literally jumping into the air. She rushed forward and gave Dave a hug around the middle, grinning up at him. “Thank you!”

“Uh,” Dave said. He seemed… uncomfortable. In fact, looking closely, Eridan thought he looked like he was trying not to bolt. The cool kid didn’t seem to know what to do with his hands, letting them just kind of hang in the air where they were, though they curled into lightly clenched fists. “Yeah. Sure. Anything I can do to please.”

Nepeta giggled, bouncing away to chatter at her moirail. Eridan watched Dave exhale lightly through his nose, readjusting his shades. No one else seemed to notice.

“Actually, Dave, could I discuss something with you pertaining to the general atmosphere of this engagement?” Kanaya asked. Dave nodded, walking off with her to the side. Karkat, Jade and Feferi seemed to have already gotten caught up in a conversation, Rose listening nearby with a cryptic smile.

“You saw it, didn’t you?”

“Holy fuck, Ter,” Eridan said, jumping back as Terezi suddenly spoke at his elbow. The blind troll grinned, showing off her impressive teeth. She looked good, wearing a red suit with a teal shirt and undershirt. She must havve come from wwork or somthin’…

“Sorry,” she shrugged, though her grin indicated she wasn’t the least bit apologetic. “But you did see it, didn’t you?”

“See wwhat?” Eridan asked, scratching the back of his neck. He knew what she meant, it was what caused him to glance at Dave. His attention was brought swiftly back by Terezi poking his stomach with her cane.

“Dave! What else would I mean?” she asked, frowning as she flipped her cane up to rest on her shoulder, one hand imperiously on her hip. Eridan rubbed at the sore spot on his gut.

“Yeah, okay, I saww,” he said, scowling. Terezi’s grin returned.

“Did you now? Tell me about it.”

“Wwhat?”

“I don’t believe you. Tell me about it.”

“But you’re the one wwho-“

“Eridan. Do you want my help or not?”

“… fine. He seemed… I don’t knoww… really uncomfortable wwhen Nepeta hugged him.”

“Good.”

“Go- wwhat do you mean good?”

“I mean good, you actually took my advice and started paying attention to someone other than yourself,” Terezi said, poking Eridan in the gut again. The seatroll glared at the object as if it had chosen to poke him of its own violation.

“Yeah, well…” he started, then stopped. He sighed, frown lightening. “It wwas good advvice.”

“Oh, what’s this?” Terezi asked with a shit eating grin. “The oh so very great Eridan Ampora admitting he needed advice?”

Eridan sighed again, frustration threatening to overtake him. Mastering his pride, he gave it a firm shove back.

“Yeah, I am,” he said, forcing himself to continue. “And I could use some more. I mean, if you wwant, I guess.”

Terezi paused, then frowned, putting her cane on her shoulder again.

“Damn, you’re no fun,” she said. Then she grinned again. “But sure. Why not? But, you have to promise you aren’t going to do anything stupid.”

“Wwill you stop pokin’ me wwith yer fuckin’ cane already?” Eridan asked, pushing the white rod away. Terezi snorted, planting her cane on the ground and waiting. “Fine. I wwon’t do anythin’ stupid.”

“Lie,” Terezi said, using her cane to poke the seatroll on the forehead. “You couldn’t not do something stupid if you tried.”

“Wwhatevver, are you goin’ to help me or not?” Eridan asked, scowling as he rubbed his forehead. Terezi shrugged.

“I guess. Since you already noticed, here’s my advice,” the teal blood leaned in closer. “Get in his personal space. It doesn’t count if he initiates it. You have to start it, because then he’s not in control. And trust me, he hates not being in control.”

“So… that’s it?” Eridan asked, crossing his arms. Terezi pulled back and shrugged again.

“That’s it,” she said, still grinning.

“But that’s so… simple,” Eridan said. Terezi rolled her eyes.

“Not everything has to be complicated and dramatic, Eridan,” she said. Then she turned, waling in the direction of Karkat’s group. “Now, if you’ll excuse me…”

Eridan watched her join them. He looked around. No one seemed to need him, they were all caught up in their own conversations.

Might as wwell go home…

He thought to tell Karkat, but then decided against it, instead simply walking out of the room unnoticed. Retracing his steps, he went back through the halls Nepeta had led him, until the door was in sight.

“Hey.”

Eridan stopped, turning as Dave walked up behind him.

“Leaving already?”

“Yeah. They didn’t need me in there.”

“What, you didn’t feel the need to socialize? Or would that be considered slumming for royalty like you?”

“And wwhat about you? Wwhen wwe first met, you called yourself a king, remember?” Eridan watched Dave smirk a little.

I wwonder…

Experimenting, the troll took a step forward. Without seeming to notice, Dave took a halfstep back.

“A king has to check on his subjects, make sure everything’s right in the land,” he said. Eridan quirked a brow.

“Is that so?” he asked, taking another step forward. Dave took another step back to match him. His smirk fell away. He ran a hand through his hair.

“It is,” he said. With Eridan’s next step, Dave’s back bumped a table against the wall. His hands naturally gripped the edge, and, at this angle, Eridan found himself almost looming over the cool kid with his next step. Dave tilted his head up, keeping his eyes out of view.

“That’s it? No ridiculous extended metaphor or anythin’?” Eridan asked. He decided not to get any closer. It definitely wasn’t because being this close to someone else bothered him as well. That would be stupid.

“Sorry, I only save those for the commoners.”

“Right. So… there a reason you’re out here or…?”

“Well, I saw you were leaving, thought I’d see if I could… yunno… catch a ride back to the city, since there aren’t exactly bus stops out here and it looks like Vantas will be a while.”

“… okay,” Eridan said, stepping back.

“Cool,” Dave said, immediately falling into his normal, casual self. Eridan barely kept himself from smirking as he walked outside, leading the way to his car.

“Dude. This thing’s tiny as shit.”

“And? It’s not like I need a big car.”

“Yeah, but you clearly aren’t compensating,” Dave said, jumping the door into the passenger seat. Sliding into his own seat, Eridan flinched.

“Wwhat?”

“When a guy drives a fucking huge car, it means he’s compensating for a tiny dick.”

“That’s stupid,” Eridan said, throwing the car into reverse and turning onto the drive.

“What? Are you saying that you have a small dick then?”

“The fuck!” Eridan said, causing them both to jerk forward as he accidentally slammed the brakes.

“Well, you were the one who thought buying a big car to compensate was stupid, so I was curious,” Dave said, seemingly uninterested as his eyes remained forward.

“That doesn’t mean you just go askin’ someone somethin’ like that!”

“So, are you saying you do have a small dick?”

“Are you evven listenin’?”

“Yes, but you haven’t answered my question.”

“I’m not goin’ to! That’s… oh my god, howw do you evven think that’s appropriate to talk about?”

“What? Am I making you uncomfortable about your small dick, Ampora?”

“Oh my fuckin’ god, wwill you shut up about my fuckin’ dick already?”

“If you answer the question, maybe.”

“I’m not goin’ to answer that ridiculous question!”

“Then I’ll just go through life assuming you have a small dick. But that’s okay, lots of guys have small dicks. Hell, even some girls have small dicks. There’s nothing wrong with having a small dick. It just means it’s easier for someone to deep throat you.”

“Jesus fuckin’… no.”

“No what?”

“No, I don’t havve a small bulge. Are you happy noww?”

“Too late, the offer was gone. It ollied out after you refused to answer the third time. Now it’s floating somewhere in space, waiting to get sucked into some star’s gravitational pull to be burned like an iron in a fire.”

“Wwhat?”

“I’m going to keep talking about dicks.”

“Holy… fuck it. Howw do you evven knoww about the fuckin’ deep throat thing, anywway?”

“Common sense. One plus one makes two.”

“Really? Because you just sit at home and think about this shit all day?”

“No. That’s what the internet is for.”

“Wwhat?”

“Porn, Eridan. When you run out of your own fantasies, the internet is more than willing to supply you new ones.”

And so their conversation continued, until Eridan pulled out of the gate and started down the road. Then the wind was too loud for a conversation, and the two simply sat, watching the countryside turn into suburbia, and suburbia into the city. Eridan took his car back to the garage, and he and Dave stopped for a cup of coffee before heading their separate ways.

The seatroll had just got back to his apartment, collapsing onto a chair when his trollian pinged on his phone. With a sigh, Eridan checked it. He sat up when he saw who it was.

turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering caligulasAquarium [CA]

TG: hey i might have a problem
TG: and by might i mean i have a problem
TG: a huge problem
TG: a problem the size of the green sun times vantass anger threshold
CA: wwhat happened?
TG: my apartment flooded
CA: oh
CA: shit
TG: yeah
TG: i mean, all my stuff is pretty okay
TG: but
TG: shit
TG: you wouldnt happen to have like
TG: a spare bedroom or something
TG: or even just a couch maybe
TG: because i kind of have nowhere to stay
TG: i mean
TG: i cant stay with john because hes already pressed for cash with the wedding thing
TG: and vantas well
TG yeah
TG: so
TG: uh
TG: want to be roommates and shit

Eridan stared at his phone in disbelief.

You’vve got to be kidding me.

He stared a little longer.

CA: yeah i havve a spare room
TG: cool
CA: do you need help movvin your stuff?
TG: nah i got it
TG: just send me the address
CA: okay

The seatroll continued to stare at his phone in disbelief as he sent his address and ended the conversation. He slowly leaned back on the chair again, then looked up at the ceiling.

Wwell, this’ll be interestin’.