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Light-Sweeps Between Us

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When the Ayem-Seht-Seht Conscripterrorization arrives to take them to the fleet, Sollux keeps his answers short and to-the-point, and is very careful to give the psychics examiner the impression that he has a little telekinesis but nothing useful. His vision twofold, of course, he keeps to himself; he pretends that his mutations are physical only.

Two sets of genitals? the greenblood doctor examining him says. I need to check if your internal reproductive system is divided; two complete sets; or nonfunctioning, as would be normal for such a mutation. Her grasping appendage passes over the medical-issue culling injector on the tray to take up the tube of lubricant. Sollux lies on the examination table, breathing deep and holding on hard to his powers.

Afterwards, the written examinations. Sollux does fairly well on those, he thinks, and then they are assigned to their temporary - what’s the word again - barracks. He’ll have to get used to using highblood terminology if he doesn’t want to be punished for insubordination.

He’s in with a lot of other yellowbloods, nothing remarkable about that. Most of them are quadrantless morons who think they’re all destined for greatness in the Threshecutioners or the Financiavagers, but are still too inexperienced with aggrieving for such prestigious, cyanic placements. He thinks of Karkat, who after thousands of game-hours had callous-scars from his sickles on his grasping appendages, and whose every step remainsed balanced, waiting for an attack.

After a few days of exams and questioning, narrowing their potential specialties, they are moved into different ships within the fleet, with others who are more likely to train in specialties similar to their own. Sollux doesn’t laugh at the incompetence of the grubs in his sorting group, but it’s close. He keeps his contraband husktop hidden, and mostly just uses his glasses to send occasional Trollian messages to the others.

To aa: where do you thiink you'll be 2orted?
To kk: yo a22hat, how'2 the thre2hiing goiing
To ff: you probably won't 2ee thii2 but hii

Karkat responds later that week to say that he’s kicking ass and taking names, and doesn’t care what your lusus called you. Aradia seems to be slated for the Enculturmoil Corps, responsible for keeping subjugated races in line.

By the time Feferi responds, his assignment to the Apialienators is all but official. It’s the forefront of military computing: even if stickyware is slower, it’s better with strategy than dryware, and wetware is entirely useless at three-dimensional strategy unless the analysts have been specially trained.

The night after the official assignment comes through, he gets a message through Trollian. It takes him another night to get around to checking it, but when he does, he sees that too-familiar shade of purple text and his guts tense up, gone gargantuan-depths cold.

CA: so youvve managed to fake your wway into the apialienators
CA: arent you glad i didnt tell about wwhat you can do wwith your brain
CA: you oughta be thankin me for not lettin the cuttlefish outta the net

He closes the program to think about his answer. He has to respond, somehow, otherwise Eridan will just escalate. But it’s a hamfisted caliginous solicitation, too, and that’s a pretty fine line to walk. If he rejects Eridan too obviously, he’ll just get reported, and then it’s just a matter of waiting for his thinkpan to get wired into a ship.

Eridan isn’t stable, is the problem. If Eridan weren’t such a gaping maw of neediness and egotism, then he’d have a moirail and Sollux wouldn’t have to worry as much. Instead, a night later, he sends,

TA: 2tuff your face iin a can
TA: iit’2 the clo2e2t you’ll get two a paiiliing

That’ll do, he guesses. It doesn’t negotiate what he’ll give to keep Eridan from reporting him, and is clear enough about his lack of sexual interest. Reasonably platonically hateful.

 

Two nights after that, Eridan sends back,

CA: dont be like that
CA: i aint abovve pullin lines for you
CA: if youre nice to me
CA: the not getting put in the intelligensalvage corps net you can think of as a bonus
TA: ii need your conde2cenciion like ii need a hole in my skull
CA: aint nothin condescendin about it
CA: oughta report you for lèse-majestée
TA: tz’d 2ay that letting iit go make2 you an accompliice

Nobody comes to cull him, so he counts that one as a victory. He still locks the conversation under an extra layer of encryption, though. If his psychic powers get discovered, he’ll just get put into thought-correction to make him a pilot. But if they find him committing lèse-majestée, then it’s the traitor’s cut: organs removed in increasing order of importance, starting with the outermost chitinous layer, for as long as the criminal lives. Once they die, their organs are burned, that even their flesh cannot pollute the universe that belongs to trollkind.

A few weeks later:

CA: guess wwhos been awwarded their codmission
CA: and is goin on space duty instead a being a dirtsuckin beekeeper
TA: gue22 who2e network2 offiicer2 depend on two keep theiir 2hiips from runniing iintwo 2tar2
CA: pilots

Sollux suddenly wants to see Eridan so he can push him over, sit on him and hold him down psionically, slam his statue-pretty face into the floor and stain the steel purple. Sollux wants to hurts him more than anyone has ever had the guts to do before.

He’d be executed for it, of course - assaulting an officer is a serious offense - but he could make his own death quicker and painless if he needed to, and there’s allowance in the case of acknowledged kismeses for private, personal punishments –

What the fuck.

When did he start thinking of this as a kismesissitude? He doesn’t even hate Eridan that much, though it’s easy enough to imagine Eridan biting at his chitin, fruitlessly trying to tie him up, to hold him down and bend him into submission during sex. Sollux can almost feel his own teeth gliding along Eridan’s seadweller fins, manual digits running in fucking dangerous intimate calculations along the surfaces of the gills on Eridan’s thorax until the invasion of it makes Eridan come despite himself.

His bulges are heavy inside their sheaths, close to emerging.

...okay, yeah, that might be some non-platonic dislike he’s got going on there.

And like hell he’s going to let Eridan know about it.

 

They exchange cagey Trollian messages over the next perigee or so, not on a regular schedule or anything. Sollux continues to hide his dislike behind a thicker-than-usual veil of apathy, and Eridan continues to be desperate.

About halfway through the following perigee, Sollux receives his assignment to the Ayem-Seht-Seht Terminatelier and prepares to take up his duties as a trainee Apialienator.

The first thing he does once he hits an off-duty cycle, of course, is see if he can hack the network.

He has to stop halfway through because it’s going to take more time than he has, and for the first time in his life he’s actually being challenged at code and computers.

He’s curled up in his recuperacoon, thinking about how to hack the network on his next attempt, when he gets a Trollian message:

CA: wwell i impressed my officer
CA: an by impressed i mean killed
TA: do you want me two congratulate you?
CA: he was beatin up on a lowwblood junior officer
CA: figured it wwould be endearin to step in
CA: it was shore pitiful the mess he was gettin to be
TA: do you want me two congratulate you?
CA: fuck youre obnoxious
CA: its like your guts got ripped out
TA: ii 2eem two remember that the one mii2iing hii2 gut2 ii2 you
TA: unle22 you were ju2t hatched liike that
TA: gutle22

The silence from the other side is so long that he wonders if Eridan even got the message.

CA: i got guts
CA: evvery time i talk to you they wwant me to strangle your fuckin throat until you go cyanotic
CA: at my mercy for air
CA: gaspin an desperate

Fuck.

He shoves his hand down between his legs.

TA: ii’d 2ma2h your face iintwo the floor before you could
TA: break your olfactory protru2iion
TA: 2hred your aural fiin2
CA: open you up until i could swim in that muck you call blood
TA: liike you could
TA: tru22ed up and 2narliing at me

His bulges are all the way out, now, warm to the touch. Eridan would be ocean-cold, drunk with the heat of the slime in the recuperacoon, chitin slimy with it.

CA: youre gettin off to this
TA: liike ii 2aiid, ii’m not gutle22
TA: ii’m not mii22iing 2o much gut they don’t get hot when 2omeone talk2 biig about be2tiing me when they couldn’t
CA: theres no wway youd wwin a fight wwith me
CA: youre a fuckin nerd beekeeper
CA: wwhatre you gonna do
CA: buzz at me
TA: fuck you <3<
CA: you glubbin wwish <3<

He's going to have so much fun hacking Eridan's computer.