"… huge accident today during the national superbike championship, some spectators are saying it's the worst they've seen in ten years. More from our sports expert on the scene now. Minten?"
"Thanks Kate, the race is just ending now and four trolls have been rushed to the hospital. Footage of the race is being reviewed to discover the source of these accidents, as the commentators seem to suspect they're linked somehow. The first rider who went down appears to have badly damaged his legs, and according to rumors he may have them amputated. Another rider crashed badly, but we haven't gotten information from the hospital regarding her condition. A third racer broke an arm in a crash that shot shrapnel at a troll who had just left the race, and from the looks of the footage she'll likely have some serious eye damage. The whole event has caused quite an uproar in the crowd: many are upset over the injuries and others are claiming the remaining riders had an unfair race. Looks like there will be some debate for a while regarding the human winner…"
You're just getting home from work when your phone rings.
You hate talking on phones; you really detest it, actually, if you never had to rely on strictly vocal communication again you wouldn't be the slightest bit disappointed.
This is why you ignore the first call. If it's important they can leave a message or something and you'll text them back—but no, the phone just rings again.
It's out of sheer annoyance that you answer the call this time.
"Who is it."
A vaguely familiar voice comes from the other end. "Is this Sollux?" Maybe someone from high school?
"And I may need your help."
You are many things, but "in the mood for this" is not one of them. "You going to tell me who you are first?"
"Oh. Apologies. I thought you would recognize my voice."
"Apparently not, so are you going to—"
"It's Equius." He doesn't give you the chance to say "Oh, right," before he continues. "As I was saying, I'm afraid I may need your help. I trust you're still involved with electronics?"
"Equius," you say with a sigh, and sit in a chair to take your shoes off. "If you're calling me up five years after we've had any real contact just to work on a pet project of yours, I am going to flip my shit."
You swear there's a hint of amusement in his voice when he responds. Huh. "I assure you it's nothing that trivial."
Deciding getting up and putting your things away is for squares, you lean back in your chair. You wait for him to explain, because you know he will.
"I need help with prosthetics," he explains, predictably, after a moment of your silence. "My rider had to get his legs amputated and—"
"Wait wait back the fuck up." He pauses. "Your rider?"
"Yes," he finally says, sounding unsure.
You're not sure where else he's going with this so you go ahead and take a giant leap into some conclusions you're pretty sure he doesn't want you to draw. "Okay I'm not going to pretend I didn't know about your pony-play fetish, but getting me to help is a little fucked up."
He makes a noise that sounds a little like he's choking to death. When he's apparently able to breathe again, he sounds more than a little offended. "That is both entirely inappropriate and entirely incorrect."
"Okay fine," you tell him, containing your laughter but not the humor in your voice. "So correct me. The hell do you mean by 'rider'?"
"The troll riding the motorcycle for which I do maintenance during and after races." His voice is almost straining with the effort of the patience you're sure he's demonstrating—and oh, yeah, you guess that does make considerably more sense than your version.
You start to answer him and pause. "Wait. You said his legs were amputated?" He makes a noise of confirmation. "Was he in an accident a couple days ago?"
"Yes. Did you see it on the news?"
"Yeah." You try to remember the footage of the crash. "Is he the one with the rack?"
"Sollux," he reprimands, and you roll your eyes.
"Well is he?"
He sort of huffs, then, and pauses, apparently trying to find a better way to describe his charge. "He was one of the few in this particular circuit riding a Spanish—"
"Do you know how many fucks I do not give?" Plus you couldn't tell a Spanish motorcycle from a moped, but he didn't need more reasons to look down on you.
"He does have rather large horns," he finally concedes, "if that helps you identify him. Regardless. I can make him a pair of legs, and they would probably be sufficient for walking, but if he's ever going to race again he's going to need something more advanced."
You're not really sure how he convinces you. All you know is you finished the conversation with a frustrated, "You are thso lucky I never take dayths off of work," and had hung up the phone with a snap. You had resolved to email your employer rather than calling, because at this point you were too mad to explain the situation without lisping.
When you let yourself calm down a little, you have to admit to yourself that you were a little glad for the opportunity. You hate your job, and this would give you a break; you never get to work on robotics anymore, and now you had a challenge… where was the downside to this?
Equius calls you half an hour later and this time, knowing who it is, you just text him with your email. Thankfully he complies, sending you a message with the details.
This racer kid is apparently in a hospital near the race track: miraculously, only a few hours' drive away. Even more miraculously, Equius has decided to pay for a hotel so you wouldn't have to drive back and forth constantly. Less miraculously, the stupid-ass blue-blood expects you there first thing in the morning.
Well fuck him. You would get there when you damn well pleased. You aren't about to go to sleep early and miss out on all this quality kicking-peoples-asses-online time.
Trigger warning for amputation.
Nothing's overly described, but I thought I should put that in anyway. The next chapter will have amputation and minor gore but after that we should be good.
Looks like you made a slight miscalculation with your nonchalance: you had forgotten the more insistent side of Equius' personality. You're remembering it now, though, very clearly—well, as clearly as you can at four in the morning.
"I simply wanted to remind you how urgently your presence is needed, in case you forgot to set an alarm."
"Thankth, buddy," you slur, running a finger delicately under an eye to get rid of the gunk. "You're my favorite deputy." And with that, you hang up and go back to sleep.
At least when he calls you five minutes later, you're more or less expecting it. "I allowed you a brief period to feel more awake and less argumentative," he explains, and you snort.
"Fuck you," you manage, yawning shortly afterwards.
He huffs. "I will give you another five minutes, since the first were apparently not enough."
You forget to hang up before you fall asleep again.
"Sollux I am beginning to be empathetic towards human mothers," is the first thing he says next time. "Get up."
"I don't wanna," you whine, not giving a single fuck that you're proving him right.
"That's unfortunate." It's the tone of voice that adds an unheard "deal with it," and so you groan.
Ten minutes later he's calling you again, but you're still in the shower so you just leave it. Five minutes after that he calls yet again, and you're not even dried off completely when you open the phone and snap "What?"
He tells you he was making sure you weren't dawdling.
You tell him he can go suck hoofbeast cock, and you hang up again.
This doesn't stop him from calling you several times before you're finally out the door. Luckily, though, although he has absolutely no sense of social etiquette, he does have a very keen respect for things like the law, so he doesn't call you again after you tell him you're in the car.
Four hours later he meets you at the hotel. He helps you take your bags up to your room because he's apparently of the opinion you can't carry a few pounds over to the elevator (he's right), and he doesn't want to waste time waiting for you to take breaks.
The bed in your room is your calling, your holy grail, the item you've been questing and grinding for all these long hours, and you fall on it with reverence.
It takes you a moment to realize the reason you feel like you're choking is because Equius has grabbed you by the back of the collar to keep you from hitting the bed.
You remember, again, why you weren't that upset to lose contact with him after high school.
By the time you get to the hospital, you are tired and angry, and if you thought punching Equius would do any kind of damage to his face rather than to your hand, you probably would have gone ahead and done that.
He has bodily maneuvered you at least six times now, though, and with entirely too much ease, so at this point you've mostly given up trying to resist.
You've also pretty much given up caring, because you know if you care too much you'll still be angry, and you don't really have the energy to be angry right now.
A few minutes after you get to the hospital, you're walking into the motorcycle-guy's room.
His horns are more impressive up close.
Actually they're pretty scuffed up, too, now that you get a good look at them. You're pretty sure the helmet doesn't cover them, so it's kind of amazing they're still attached. He's awake, but barely, and he gives you and Equius a sort of bleary smile just as you give him a sort of bleary look of disinterest.
His smile falters a little, and he looks confused.
"Tavros," Equius says, leaning forward and speaking slowly, as if the troll will have difficulty understanding him. "This is Sollux. He's going to help make your new legs."
Actually, judging by the look on his face, you're not so sure it's a bad idea to speak to him like a wiggler. He seems to be having trouble processing this.
"Sollux?" he sort of slurs, and watches you with furrowed eyebrows, as if you've just tried to explain the plot of the fifth act of something particularly complicated, and he's still trying to digest the first.
Maybe you are the fifth act of something particularly complicated.
Wait, no, that doesn't actually make sense.
"Hi," you say, trying to get yourself off of that train of thought. He murmurs something back that could be "hey" or could be him attempting to make engine noises, and Equius takes the opportunity to speak for him.
"He's still on a lot of medication," the blue-blood says apologetically. "He'll be better next time you see him."
You suddenly remember why he's on medication, and glance down. The sheets cling to what's left of his legs, leaving a huge empty space on the bed. The first thought that crosses your mind is that at least now he won't ever be in a bed that's too short for him.
You don't even dismiss this thought as crude before you realize you'll be fixing him soon.
Still, the injury evokes a pang of pity—wait, no, sympathy is a better word, "pity" still has too many old-language connotations—and you find yourself caring a little more.
You try to ask him if you can pull the sheets back to look at his legs, but he seems to be stuck on trying to pronounce "sheets" with elongated syllables, so you figure he's probably not in the right mindset to care much.
Ignoring Equius as he fidgets with Tavros' hospital gown to cover him up as much as possible, you take mental measurements and survey the damage. Tavros occasionally giggles or makes a sort of whining noise of pain, but doesn't otherwise attempt conversation.
You and Equius leave minutes later, discussing plans, and you're pretty sure you hear a distant, slurring "Bye Sollux" behind you.
Equius is fantastic. The two of you get along perfectly: you both understand what you mean when you struggle with words, you both have modifications to each others' ideas and you don't argue about those modifications when they're suggested.
The plans for the legs are essentially complete, and you start building. You continue to work when he leaves to visit his rider, and the two of you pick everything back up again when he gets back to his workshop.
These will be done in no time.
You are going to destroy Equius.
You can't wait for noon each day when he leaves to see Tavros, because then you can finally get some peace and quiet. You bicker constantly, you barely get work done, everything he says is stupid and he is not doing anything right.
These are going to take fucking forever.
Things are going well enough, you think. Could be better, could be worse.
You still haven't gone to see Tavros, partly because you're busy, partly because you don't know him that well, and partly because he's probably still a mess.
You'll meet him again when these are more finished, though.
You're pretty sure things are looking up again, even if Equius is fed up with you. You suppose it probably doesn't help that you laugh at him when he gets angry, but you can't not laugh. He is so hilarous.
You tell him this through your cackling one day, and he coldly tells you he was fairly certain you meant to use actual words.
You stop attempting speech, because you know you can't control your tongues in this state.
You begrudgingly give him a point for snark.
You are so tired.
How is Equius still going.
You can't even lift things with your psionics now.
Can't you sleep.
Here we are again! This chapter's the regular size but only has one illustration because this isn't a very visually interesting chapter, and any extra illustration would basically be the same thing as the first. Sorry about that! The chapter after next should have two again, I think, since the next one is short again.
This chapter contains amputation again, but I'm going to stop tagging it as such in a couple chapters because Tavros will get his robot legs, and I don't usually see people warning for that. Let me know if I should keep warning for that, though, and I'll do my best : >
The legs are finally complete enough to start fitting them to Tavros. He's been healing these past three weeks, and Equius tells you he's off his medication. Apparently he's also been moved, and closer to your house, so you pack up your things and start driving home. It's good timing, really, because you're just about out of vacation time and you really need not to be fired.
Later that day you go to meet Tavros again.
You walk into the recovery clinic, or whatever they want to call it, where he's being kept. Apparently he'll have a good opportunity for physical therapy here after he gets his legs, and prosthetics like this are apparently fairly common and they've Okd you applying them here.
He looks nervous this time, and considerably more awake, and he's sitting in a wheelchair when you come in.
The first thing he asks, before he even notices you, is "How is she?" His voice is higher than you would have expected from a build like that, but lower than you expected from the way he holds himself.
"She still hasn't woken up," Equius tells him, and the younger troll's face falls.
He sees you then, and glances at Equius, who nods. He looks back at you.
"Are you Sollux?" The pitch of his voice startles you again.
"Yeah," you tell him, pulling your laptop bag over your shoulder and setting it on a table.
"I'm Tavros," he says with a nervous grin, holding out a hand.
You sort of snort and he visibly tries not to look horrified. "I know," you explain before he can freak himself out too much, and you shake his hand.
Now he just kind of looks confused. "Equius said you don't watch racing?"
"I don't," you assure him, letting go of his hand as you move back over to your bag and take out your laptop. "I met you a couple of days after the accident when you were high on painkillers."
"Oh," he says, apparently a bit embarrassed about this for some reason. "Sorry."
You're not really sure what he's sorry about. Actually, you're kind of extremely confused about why he's sorry. For a big, kind of muscular guy who races at insane speeds on only two wheels for a living, he's awfully… timid.
Then again, he did just get his legs chopped off, he's probably feeling a bit vulnerable at the moment.
You just sort of shrug in response to his unneeded apology, opening up your laptop and starting to go through your plans. You had seen his eyes widen as you typed in your password.
"Wow, you type, really fast," he tells you, hesitating midway through the sentence as if he's suddenly not sure it's such a good thing to say.
Shrugging again (and not being smug, that's not a thing you're being right now), you respond casually. "Yeah, I average 110, it used to be higher when I was actually programming."
"Oh, wow," he says reverently, as if this is a huge feat. You pretend you weren't expecting that tone of voice. Equius sort of huffs in the corner, and you're pretty sure that was his way of telling you that he's rolling his eyes.
You ignore him.
"How long have you been doing this motorcycle thing?" You ask Tavros, figuring it's probably a good idea to make him feel more comfortable with you before you start sticking your face in his crotch trying to attach the legs.
"Do you mean the racing, or the, um, motorcycle thing in general?" He pauses less this time, probably because this is a topic he's comfortable with. Good, you're making progress.
You shrug. "Both."
"Oh, well I've only been racing since I was eighteen, but I've been riding since I was seven."
Jesus this kid is crazy. You give him a look that suggests you think as much. "Eighteen?"
"Yeah!" And then you see him go into "defending my career" mode. "Most superbike racers are, you know, really young. I think the oldest person in the last race was, um…" he thinks for a moment. "Maybe twenty-two. There are a couple of kids who are just sixteen! And they do fine. Actually one of them won the race where I, crashed."
There are a lot of things in that sentence that require processing. Finally you say, "And you managed to get through all these years without a debilitating injury? I'm genuinely amazed."
He laughs, then, loudly, but it sort of tapers out as he catches himself and tries to stop it. "Oh, uh, I've only been racing for a year."
Wow, he really is a kid. He's four years your junior and acts half that age, and he's just had his legs amputated because he'd crashed in a high-speed race.
Fuck this is depressing.
You let out a heavy breath and go back to your computer. He looks sort of worried—could he be any more transparent?—and you shake your head.
"You're crazy," you tell him, and he sort of smiles sheepishly at that.
Almost everything you know about him completely contradicts the sudden thought that he's actually kind of adorable, so you ignore the thought entirely.
"Don't you, ever do anything that's crazy?" He asks you, and suddenly he's nineteen again instead of twelve, and the look on his face suggests he wouldn't rather be doing anything else with his life.
You kind of respect him for that.
It's still stupid.
"I don't do anything interesting period," you say with a snort, and you move to try to get the legs out of their container. You give up after a second and gesture angrily for Equius to get them for you.
"Oh, um," he starts, a little quietly. "Are you, I mean, do you have those mind abilities that, yellow-bloods sometimes have? I'm just, wondering, because, you have those eyes and I think that's a, sign…" You give him a look, because that can be kind of a rude thing to ask someone outright, and besides the slightly halting sentence he didn't seem to have any reservations about it.
"… Yeah, why?" You say, because there's no reason to lie about it.
"Oh, I just, I was wondering, because, I have those too, and the only other person I knew, um, with those, I didn't, really like," god he's twelve again, "so I never really, get the chance to ask anyone, about it, and… yeah." He finally starts to look properly embarrassed.
While you're glad he's finally acknowledging that that was kind of a weird question, you also don't want him to be uncomfortable. "What can you do?" Trying to stay casual, you bend down to look at the legs Equius has set on the table. Looks like all the wires are still where you left them, you can figure this out…
"Not much, really…" he says, and he's starting to calm down a little. "I mean, I can sort of, commune with non-trolls, but I'm not very good and it's kind of weird to do sometimes so I don't practice very much."
For once what he's saying is actually pretty interesting, so you listen to him as you start fiddling with the legs again. "Really?"
"Yeah. What about you?" Apparently he didn't pick up on your prompting. Oh well.
"Basic psionics," you tell him, shrugging. "Telekinesis and stuff. Hear the voices of the doomed about every other Friday, which is cool if you like migraines."
He laughs at that. "Well that's, cool, I bet you're, really good at that." His voice is starting to even out again.
You talk to him like this for a while, mostly about mind abilities (which sounds kind of stupid, you wish someone would come up with a better term for them), and then Equius starts making disgruntled throat-clearing noises.
"I've got the feeling I should get to work," you say with perhaps a bit more sarcasm than was probably necessary as you give Equius a look. Tavros laughs and stops himself, again, glancing at the mechanic like he knows he shouldn't have done that.
He's a little awkward when you shift his shorts up, but you manage to treat the situation casually and he seems to relax after a while.
The wounds are pretty gross still, and it's going to get even more gross having to attach the mechanic legs. There is probably going to be a lot of blood everywhere (judging by the color of the swollen flesh and all the scratches he was sporting a couple weeks ago, probably a dark orange), and your brain is probably going to decide it can't handle it a couple times and freak the fuck out, but you're pretty sure everything will be okay.
Warning for amputation and minor gore.
Tavros is put under again as you attempt the first fitting. It's just as gross as you imagined and then some, and things don't quite fit right and everything in general needs a lot of work. When Equius pulls one of the legs off after you tell him as much, you feel vaguely sick, and because you leave to deal with your nausea you're not sure how Tavros' re-opened wounds are dealt with.
You always check in with Tavros to let him know how things are going before he's drugged again. He seems to be getting more comfortable with you, if the quiet little jokes are anything to go by. You have to admit he's growing on you.
The legs have gone through several revisions, and at this point they're more or less permanently on, if not attached completely.
Tavros stands for the first time in a month.
He also promptly falls over.
Luckily Equius is there (damn, he moves fast) to catch him, so the kid doesn't hurt himself.
Tavros laughs, takes a few shaky steps, and suddenly realizes he's awfully far from his wheelchair. You roll it over for him because he looks like he's starting to panic.
You and Equius do some final tests, and decide that these things are about as done as they're going to be for now. Equius assures you both that Tavros will eventually just naturally heal into them and they'll start working better.
Tavros stands a couple more times during that day but mostly stays sitting down, and the three of you just talk.
He looks disappointed when you say you have to leave: you've got work early in the morning, though, and you tell him as much. You promise to be back soon, because it seems like the thing to say.
There's another person at the clinic when you get there after work—a human, you notice immediately, and judging by the way Tavros is smiling at her he's not the discriminating kind—and she seems to be helping him walk.
Apparently she's his physical therapist. Tavros seems to like her but she acts distant with you and something about her just gets on your nerves.
You are so glad when she leaves.
You think humans are fine, for the most part; it's not like you have anything against them, but some of them can be such assholes. She just completely dismissed you before she even knew you.
Come to think of it, you're kind of an an asshole too, you realize. Ugh, no wonder she acted cold, she was probably just worried you'd act exactly how you did act.
Fuck you're awful.
You realize you've leaned your head against one hand and sort of curled up into yourself in Moping Position B when you hear Tavros' voice again.
"Guys, can I have some help? She kind of, left me way over here…"
Equius mostly helps him back over, but there are a couple times even his quick reflexes aren't fast enough, and you have to catch Tavros in a pool of purple light that he's kind of surprised at. He makes it back to his wheelchair safely and you try not to mope for the rest of the day.
"… The last race of the season was today," he says forlornely after a long pause.
You continue to feel awful.
This time there are two extra people in the room: trolls, male, one looks to be in his mid-twenties and the other is probably thirty. The younger one looks pissier than you are, the older is so relaxed he can't possibly be sober, and their every glance and gesture towards each other screams pale.
Tavros introduces these ones to you, too ("The therapist couldn't make it, but the, um, commentators for the championship decided to see how I was, doing…"), and he seems a little nervous around both of them in different ways.
Holy shit the short one is so annoying.
Twenty minutes after meeting him your argument has escalated into screaming, and you're mostly flinging bad insults at each other and honestly you don't even remember what you disagreed about in the first place. His moirail comes over soon and sort of walks into him until he backs off, and is casually talking him down from his rage in a corner while Equius hauls you aside by the back of your shirt again.
"Don't try that again," is all he says, and you sort of growl at him and angrily readjust your shirt.
Tavros looks panicked.
Miraculously you and the little angry one don't get into another argument before they leave.
Five minutes pass in silence before you quietly apologize to Tavros.
"It's okay, Sollux," he reassures you, and sort of smiles nervously at you.
Tavros is getting better now, and luckily the physical therapist is usually gone by the time you get there so you're not automtically in a bad mood.
He's walking at his fastest pace yet, and you're helping him this time. You're barely using your psionics, and he doesn't even seem to notice when you let up entirely.
"Damn, can I get some fries with that shake?" You tease as he walks by, and he laughs. Suddenly he starts jerking around awkwardly, and it takes you about ten seconds to realize he's trying to dance.
It's kind of pathetically adorable.
It's also hilarious, though, and you start snickering, and then cackling as his movements get more frantic. He knows he's doing horribly and he doesn't even care—actually at this point you're pretty sure he's doing things badly on purpose to make you laugh harder, and it's working.
When he realizes that you're not looking at him anymore because you're doubled over in laughter, he shuffles over, and you notice through your tears that his walking is almost natrual.
"Dance with me!" He's grinning, and you're trying very hard to do things like breathe and stop crying but all you can do is shake your head as you laugh.
He sort of pulls at your shoulders like he's trying to get you to stand, but you can't breathe right now let alone get up to dance like an idiot, and your dancing is atrocious anyway. You continue to shake your head. He's practically giggling and it's completely wrong for someone like him and it's dorky and it's wonderful.
Eventually he stops pulling at you, and when you can see well again you notice that he's started dancing again.
His movements are smoothing out but it still looks incredibly silly. You attempt to watch him dance through your tears—and eventually you notice that Equius is curled up on himself in the corner, pressing a hand over his mouth. He's shaking, and you think he might be in pain until you realize he's laughing too.
Tavros is able to walk all around the building without difficulty, but he does start getting tired and the place where his real legs meet the metal gets sore and raw if he tries too long. This time he did try too long, and he got help sitting back down in his wheelchair where he's gingerly applying some kind of salve to the angry orange skin with his shorts hitched up.
You're watching Tavros do this and occasionally saying a word or two to him when another visitor arrives.
"Holy shit, did your recovery get on the national news or something?" You grumble up at the intruder, addressing Tavros. You can't really read him because for some reason he's wearing sunglasses inside (does he honestly think that's cool? It just makes him look like a jackass), but you see him raise an eyebrow at you.
Tavros sort of laughs nervously, and looks up at the human. "Um, hi, Mr. Strider, how are you?"
"Just peachy," he says, and then, "Dave is fine." He takes a seat on a chair unfortunately close to you, and leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees. He's still speaking to Tavros. "Just thought I'd give you an update, since muscly over here hasn't been to the hospital for a while."
"Oh," Tavros says, not looking nervous any more so much as apprehensive. He abandons treatment of his leg. "How is she?"
"Still in a coma. Apparently she's stable now, whatever that means, but she hasn't shown any signs of waking up." He lets out a breath that you suspect is a badly-concealed sigh. "She crashed hard back there. I wish they would find out what happened already, the suspense is killing me." There's a sort of attempted dry humor, there, but he seems to be struggling for it, and he looks so worn down that you're not surprised.
Tavros' brow furrows. "I think, it was Serket," he says quietly, and Dave looks up at him.
"Serket?" He looks almost hopeful for a second, like maybe they're on to something, maybe they can figure this out after all—but then he shakes his head and sort of shrugs. "Nah, man, she wasn't anywhere near her. She doesn't have any motives, anyway."
"I beg to differ," Equius rumbles from a corner, and the human looks up just fast enough that you suspect he didn't know he was there. "Were you paying any attention at all?"
"Sorry I wasn't focusing on your little troll politics, mister greasemonkey, I was busy racing." Dave snaps, coolly. "But I've watched the footage, and I can't find anything."
"That's a no, then," Equius says as he stands, and grabs a hastily-bound book of pictures—you think they're of the race—and tosses it to Dave, none too gently. "We've been analyzing the evidence. To begin with, Tavros knows Serket was the one that forced him off the road. You can see that clearly in the first set of pictures."
Dave looks a bit skeptical, but opens the binder. "… Huh," he says, and you're not sure how he can see this evidence "clearly" because none of those pictures make sense to you, but you keep your mouth shut and let them continue to talk. "Okay yeah, I'm not sure where you're going with this, but whatever. Why would she? I mean yeah she's a complete bitch, and I think if she were human she would have been disqualified months ago for all the shit she pulls, but she has no reason to—"
"She doesn't, like me very much," Tavros adds, still kind of quietly. He raises his volume slightly when he realizes he's been heard. "We were sort of, friends when we were kids, but I think she wanted, um, something else, and I didn't, and she hasn't really left me alone about it since. I think she was just trying to mess with me but I get, really nervous, when someone's that close…"
There's a pause, then, and Dave slowly nods, as if he's trying to buy the story. "Okay… sure. Okay. But that still doesn't connect to my teammate."
"Turn the page," Equius tells him, and he does so. He walks over to Dave and points. "You can see Megido here, behind Tavros when he crashes. She stops following a proper line, stops trying to pass people. Turn the page." Dave glances up at him, a little confused, but does. "She doesn't try to pass Serket for the next lap. She's riding far too close to her, they have too many close calls; she's hounding her on purpose. Then what happens."
"She goes off… oh, that was her pit stop, right? She crashed right after that." Equius nods.
Tavros interjects. "She's, um, psychic. Vriska is. We looked over the footage and we think she's trying to control some of the pit crew."
"The bike practically just fell apart, didn't it?" Strider says, and you can hear him struggling to keep a nonchalant tone. "I thought someone had just fucked up, I was ready to blame Mark if nothing else came up, he was completely shit-faced I swear…"
Equius shook his head. "No. We are almost certain it was Serket that made Aradia crash."
You're pretty sure that name sounds familiar—"Megido" a minute ago had also rung a vague bell, and you almost ask about it but you decide now's not the time.
"Didn't two other people get hurt too?" You say instead, and everyone looks at you. "I thought it said on the news they thought they might all be connected."
"Yeah." Tavros is shifting in his chair, wincing a bit as his legs move. "I think Vriska made Pyrope crash, but I'm not sure what was up with that because, um, I think they were together, and, I think you're kind of not supposed to hurt your kismesis that badly…"
Dave snorts. "Well if they were together they're not any more. I'm pretty sure Serket's hate-makin' on Ampora these days—"
Equius makes a low noise of disapproval and Dave shuts up. He also makes a point of using his whole head to convey rolling his eyes, but he doesn't continue down that train of thought as Equius grumbles something about "gosh-darned gossip." As always you have to bite your tongues to keep from trying to make the blue-blood swear. (You know you can, you just have to push him the right way, just prod him a little…)
Tavros keeps talking. "Anyway, um, I'm not really that interested in, Vriska's quadrants, but the point is I don't know why she caused that crash. Pyrope was basically fine, but her bike got really messed up so she left the track, and then somehow Vriska crashed, but she did it right next to where Pyrope was so some shrapnel hit her in the face."
"Serket broke her arm," Equius says, to you, since you're the one that asked. "Pyrope's eyes were badly damaged and she is currently learning to cope with her blindness. I checked in with them both two weeks ago."
You're pretty sure what Equius means by "checking in" with someone he doesn't like is sort of glaring at them threateningly through a window and surveying the damage.
You keep this to yourself.
Tavros sighs heavily. "Thanks, S—Dave, I'm glad you told me, how she is."
Dave nods as he stands, handing the binder to Equius with a quiet "thanks." "No problem. I know you two were close. Come by and see her sometime, she might just wake up at the smell of the pheromones your massive headgear secretes."
Equius has this wide-eyed look, like he's shocked but is trying very hard not to stare at Dave like he's vile and depraved. Or hit him.
You just sort of snicker. On second thought, you think you might like this guy.
WOW SORRY THAT TOOK SO LONG. It was a super busy few weeks for the two of us!
This one only has one illustration because Tech and I figured you guys would probably rather she work on an illustration for the next chapter rather than another illustration for this one that's just Tavros and Sollux and Equius sitting around. Again.
Also we are starting to get shippy WATCH OUT...
You are in a damn good mood by the time you get to the clinic. You walk into Tavros' room with a cheery greeting, pulling your bag off over your head with a flourish and setting it down before you look up. "And how are my little workerbees today?"
One is leaning sullenly against the wall as usual, but he doesn't make any dismissive remarks about you, which is a bad sign—something that's definitely a bad sign is that the other is sort of fiddling with his hands slowly, and when you talk he looks up at you and has to struggle to smile.
You're pretty sure your heart just broke a little.
"What happened?" You ask, because you know better than to ask "god damn, did someone die?"
Tavros sort of takes a breath to explain, but it's shaky, and he looks about ready to cry. He hesitates. Equius' voice is quieter than normal when he speaks for him.
"We went to visit Aradia today." Oh.
You almost ask if she's alright, but you think it might be a better idea just to let them tell you if and when they want to. You fall silent and sink into a chair.
Apparently they're not ready to tell you yet.
There's a long pause before Tavros says something quietly.
"I don't think she heard me."
His head is down, but Equius hasn't responded so you think he might be talking to you.
He sort of sniffs, and you wish you weren't so bony so you could hug him without stabbing him with your joints. "Dave said I should talk to her, he said they think she can tell when we're saying things to her, and it helps. But I don't think she heard me." He hesitates again. "… It wasn't like she was just asleep. It was like she wasn't there."
You let out a heavy breath and look over at the wall. You're terrible with feelings. You can't even control your own, you sure as hell don't know how to deal with someone else's.
But it hurts, seeing him like this, and you can't just let your friend sit there and suffer.
You spend a long time trying to figure out what the socially acceptable thing to do is.
Finally you stand, and you sit on the couch next to him and put your hand on his shoulder.
You're pretty sure this is a safe-zone, certainly not a red kind of motion and you think a moirail would be doing things like rubbing a cheek against his or something…
He doesn't look at you like he's confused, and after a glance over at Equius you notice he doesn't look scandalized, so you think you're okay. You think this is still friendly.
Tavros also doesn't look very comforted.
You dig for something to say.
"She'll be okay," you try after a while, even though this is bullshit because you don't even know who she is, let alone what condition she's in.
Apparently this was the wrong thing to say, because he starts crying.
You feel like absolute shit, but all you can do is sort of try to pat his shoulder awkwardly.
"I mean it," you say, quietly enough to be appropriate but loud enough so he can hear you over his breath hitching. "I'm not hearing any doomed voices lamenting over motorcycle crashes." This is also bullshit, because you've long since tuned out any actual words you might hear, and even if you were stupid enough to try to hear anything distinct through that clusterfuck when it happens, you're pretty sure none of them would give you a clear description of how they're going to die.
But either he doesn't know this or he doesn't care, because he leans over and hugs you. He sets his head awkwardly on your shoulder as he cries. You're a little worried his horn is going to go through your neck if he gets startled, and you're also a little disappointed because you like this shirt and he's getting orange fluids all over it, but you think this is a good sign. This might be comforting for him. You reach around his shoulders and pat his back again, but then that doesn't seem like the right thing to do either so you just rest your hands there and let him cry.
Tavros was a little better yesterday before you left, and today he's looking considerably more chipper. This isn't a huge feat, because he was bawling for half an hour on your shoulder before he calmed down, and then he was still depressed right up to when you left.
Today he actually smiles at you, although he's still obviously melancholy.
"Hey Sollux." His voice isn't even shaky, and considering he probably still thinks he'll never speak to his friend again, you're pretty impressed.
"Hey," you respond, taking your bag off and setting it on its usual table. You glance around, then. "Where's Equius?"
"He had to go to, a meeting, or something," Tavros tells you, unsure. "Something about how I'm doing, I think."
"How are you doing?" You sit across from him.
He sort of shrugs. "I'm okay. I don't really feel too great, but, I walked all the way to the car and then all the way to Aradia's room, yesterday, so." He says this like he's been practicing how to say it without sounding sad in case he were asked.
You do one of the only things you know that works for you when you're upset, and hope he's not as stubborn as you are and won't refuse to cheer up.
You distract him.
"Show me." He looks up at you, confused. You stand again and hold your hands out to him. "Come on, show me. I want to see how you're doing."
"I just, told you?" He doesn't take your hands.
Gesturing with them to encourage him, you insist. "Yeah, and I want to see. I didn't get to see you walk around yesterday." He doesn't look very sure, so you continue, your hands still stretched out. "Come on, Tavros, I'm OCD, I have to wear mismatched socks every Tuesday and keep up on your progress daily, or something horrible is going to happen."
"You're, a hypochondriac, is what you are." He gives you a bit of a smile with that sentence, and you're not sure what gave him that impression about you but it's regrettably accurate.
You drop your hands to hike your pants up just enough to show him your socks. "Look, I wasn't kidding," you tell him, even though you were; you just like being asymmetrical.
This actually makes him laugh a little, so you smile back at him and hold your hands back out.
This time he takes them, and he stands. Your skinny little arms offer little assistance, but he doesn't actually need any. "That's my boy." He smiles again at that.
You walk backwards around the room, guiding him and making exaggerated exclamations of approval. His laughter is easier a few minutes in, and you finally start paying attention to how he's walking and notice that's a lot smoother, too. The movement isn't perfect, but it's vastly improving: he used to act like he wasn't sure how to make them move the way he wanted them to, but now there's no delay between the top half of his body and the legs themselves.
"You're doing well," you tell him again, but this time it's genuine and not intended to make him laugh.
"I can dance better too, I bet," and he's shifting his grip on your hands and if you don't abscond he's going to try to get you to dance again.
Letting go of him quickly, you hold your hands up in a gesture of surrender, shaking your head with a laugh.
"Aw," he pouts, dropping his own hands. "Come on, it would be fun."
"I'm not really in a dancing mood," you attempt to explain, even though nine out of ten of your moods are "not dancing moods" and whenever you slip into that ten percent it's shortly followed by horrible shame.
"When will you be in a dancing mood?" Fuck he's persistent. You shrug and snicker.
"Your chances of seeing me dance would go up about one hundred percent with the imperius curse," you tell him, and he makes a sort of delighted laugh that you were pretty sure most people stopped being able to produce at the age of five.
"Then I'll just, have to find someone, who is trained in the Dark Arts."
Equius comes back an hour and a half later, and the two of you are still talking about Harry Potter. You argued for a little while about what house he would be in, even though he told you you were being silly and obviously had no interest in being involved. Even when you argued, though, you were both smiling, and somehow you never got upset.
The mechanic left after another ten minutes, grumbling that he was going to get himself lunch.
Tavros tells you he always wanted to go to Hogwarts, but he decided it wasn't worth it if he would have to give up his motorcycle.
You ask him why he rides.
He tells you it's like flying.
No illustration for this one, because Tech felt like any illustration would have been the same as in a previous chapter, and trying to think of anything more interesting would only have delayed posting more. The next chapter is more visually exciting, though, so there should be at least one illustration for that one. In the meantime, enjoy this chapter, although it is not as pretty.
Tavros is doing better. He's still down, and you get that, but he won't be able to recover if he gets outright depressed, so you try to keep him cheered up. It's actually a damn good thing you've been in a fairly consistent good mood these past few days, or everyone would have just sat around moping all day.
Unfortunately most of your humor is based around things that he doesn't have enough of a clue about to understand. He seemed kind of nerdy, so you try a couple of things on him, but a mention of playing a 3/3 flying goes completely over his head and so do the terms "zerg rush," "hex code" and "shoryuken."
You resort to the occasional Harry Potter or Pokemon reference.
You resolve to teach him a thing or two once he's recovered so he can better appreciate your vast array of knowledge.
In the meantime, your humor is greatly compromised.
You have found a solution.
Tavros is in dire need of your hilarious self but is sadly lacking in nerd cred; so you'll just have to draw from a different source.
The answer comes to you serendipitously today when Tavros is trying to move a little more energetically than usual.
He trips, nearly beans you with a still-splintery horn, and hasn't quite gotten the apologies out of his mouth.
"Woah there," you say, dodging, as he tries to catch himself. "I know you're enthusiastic about getting assorted body parts in my face, but try to be gentle."
Tavros laughs shrilly, as if he's pretty sure he's supposed to laugh but feels a little awkward about the sentence.
You're pretty sure Equius actually clicked his tongue at you in disapproval, and Tavros looks somewhat uncomfortable, but whatever; they'll get used to it. You are nothing if not awesome at bad pick-up lines and intentionally awkward advances, and you have made many a friend cheer up with these methods.
Tavros Nitram will not be depressed on your watch.
Your brilliant plan is working.
Tavros realized pretty quickly that you were joking, and he relaxed. He laughs when he stands and you make an exaggerated visual sweep of him, or when you wiggle your eyebrows at him after he says anything that could possibly be construed as sexual.
There's a bit of a downside to this, and that is that you're beginning to realize you might not be joking. Okay, well, yes you're joking, if you wanted to flirt with someone seriously you wouldn't act like this much of an idiot, but when you pretend to check him out you can't help but notice, oh hey, he actually is pretty attractive.
It's a little weird, since the age difference is a bit more than you're used to, and although you'd started thinking of him as a friend you always assumed he'd be more of a "little brother" friend or a "someone you're responsible for" friend than an actual close friend, let alone one you find a little bit attractive.
And then you realize it's not just that you find him attractive, it's that you're actually attracted to him, which is an entirely different situation and considerably more serious.
You realize most of this one day after not having realized it for almost three, and you're not entirely sure what to do with the information.
You decide to put that information in storage. On your external harddrive, hide the files just in case; no need to use any additional security measures because Tavros, you've gleaned, knows next to nothing about programming and couldn't crack a code if it were a windshield he'd just rammed into horns-first.
It's not like this will make you forget about it, but you'd rather he not find out, for a number of reasons ("You're not his type" goes through your head and you quickly replace it with "this isn't that serious" and "you wouldn't have tried to have a relationship with him anyway, that's dumb, you're dumb, god just stop existing").
The good news, however, is that besides the fact that Tavros is laughing a lot more easily again, he is also walking more easily. True to his prediction, he can also dance better—okay, no, you're going to retract that: his dancing is more natural, but he is still a complete dork and isn't going to be winning any contests any time soon.
It's still strangely endearing.
That is entirely beside the point, however, so you go ahead and hook up that terabyte drive again and stick that thought in there with all the movies you'll never watch again but don't want to get rid of.
You might need them someday, who's to say?
No, actually, on second thought you're pretty sure you won't ever need those movies again, because if you might need those movies you might also have a need to bring those other thoughts back to your main drive, and that's not something that's likely to happen soon.
Probably. No, wait, definitely. Definitely the thought that he's attractive does not need to be brought to the front of your mind, you have very little use for it and things won't ever come of that.
Even if it might be nice.
Shit, no. Damnit.
Wow, would you look at that! Tavros sure is walking.
Equius isn't there when you get to the clinic, so you and Tavros just talk about his legs for a while. You both look up when he comes in.
"Megido is still unresponsive," he tells you, and you feel your face fall because you know Tavros will be upset.
The rider makes a quiet, "oh," and falls silent.
There's a long pause before he speaks again.
"… I think she'll be okay."
Equius looks like he's about to say something about how it's not a good idea to be so optimistic in case she isn't okay, and there's a very low likelihood that she will be, but you don't want Tavros to be sad again. You worked so hard to make him happy, and you don't know how to handle him when he's upset.
You try to give Equius a look but he doesn't see you—and in the half-second before he speaks you resort to sealing his lips psionically. He gives you an indignant look and you shake your head at him before releasing him. There's a long moment where he gives you a look that you're not entirely sure how to interpret, and honestly it makes you a bit uncomfortable.
Tavros looks up with a brave smile, clearly trying to look optimistic. You return the look as best you can.
You don't have work today so you go to see Tavros early.
You had stopped by a cheap coffee place and picked something up—you guessed what Tavros would like—and you open the door with your elbow and shoulder when you get to the clinic.
Equius isn't there, which is just as well since he wasn't getting any coffee anyway.
Tavros looks up from the computer he's using. "Oh! Hey Sollux, I didn't think you'd be here this early."
There's a bad sex pun in there somewhere, but you're a little too slow to pick up on it and you've got other things planned anyway. "You busy?"
"Nope," he says with a smile. Then he notices what you've got in your hands. He doesn't hide the curious look on his face, but he probably realizes he's not supposed to ask if the extra cup is for him.
"Here." You hand him a cup to end his inner turmoil, and he takes it, pleased. "I was going to ask you out for coffee but I wasn't sure if you could walk all the way to the nearest place so I just brought you some."
Wait shit. Shit, shit, that didn't come out as playful over-the-top flirting, that came out like a considerate gesture.
You're losing your edge.
Also maybe you wanted it to be more sincere than normal, which is unfortunate because you don't actually know how to deal with that.
He laughs, though, which you think is good, and smiles up at you. You do your best to smile back and try to ignore the sudden thought that he has the cutest smile.
"We should, do that then. When I can walk better."
You're pretty sure he's just playing with you, just joking back. You hope he's just joking. You hope he's not joking. God you're not really sure what you hope but you are such a sucker for dimples and you're pretty sure if he smiled at you like that and told you to go use internet explorer on dial-up you'd… okay you probably wouldn't go do it, you'd probably laugh and call him a weirdo, who even asks someone to do that, but you'd also be melting on the inside.
A second too late, you realize you've snickered and said "You're on," and he practically beams.
Oh damn, what a bummer, your external harddrive is all full of terrible movies and old projects, you can't fit any more of these thoughts onto it. Looks like you're stuck having a dorky-ass crush.
Tavros is too young for you, if not by societal standards than by your personal preferences, doesn't understand your humor because he doesn't really share your interests, is probably not attracted to you at all; there is almost no chance anything would ever work out between you, and you almost don't care.
Ten minutes later he expresses concern that your coffee might be cold, and you realize you had any in the first place.
HEY, IT'S BEEN A WHILE. We're still going to be slow, Tech and I are both in school right now, but we finally got a chance to pull this one together. Out of the ones I've written this is my favorite so far! I hope you guys like it too.
Tavros looks bored out of his mind.
You know he can walk fairly long distances at this point without any ill effects, but Equius is trying to keep him more or less in one place. He's a bit of a control freak.
Normally you wouldn't mind, because yeah, the guy needs his rest if he's going to heal any time soon. But he's taken to going between playing Bejeweled and staring at his mechanical feet as he scrapes them along the floor, and this has to be remedied.
Honestly. The second action is understandable but no one should have to stoop so low as to pass their time playing Bejeweled.
You have been in that godawful battlefield. Sometimes at night when you try to sleep you still see technicolor stones lining up in threes and consequently exploding, and you wake screaming.
You must save Tavros from these horrors.
There is no doubt in your mind about your mission. You spent ten minutes this morning thinking of a catchy name for it, and came up with "Operation Caffeinate." It didn't have an apparent pun in the name like you were trying for, but it did remind you of Daleks, which were robots, which connected to Tavros' legs, which was good enough.
You were never very good at puns. You briefly consider seeing if you still have Feferi's number so you can ask for help. Then you decide against it because, really, you have better things to do.
Still, Operation Caffeinate (it's kind of a lame name, actually, you're really regretting this, maybe you should give it more thought) requires that Equius not be present.
This part is slightly more difficult than the name.
First you consider getting someone to call him to convince him that there's somewhere important he needs to be. But then you realize you didn't know anyone that sounds official enough, and he probably won't be easily convinced.
You resort to running through different tactics in games that got people to leave their post.
Shooting the lights out would make him go investigate. But then you would have to knock him out or kill him, because that distraction wasn't exactly long-term.
Regardless, you don't have a gun and you're sitting right in front of him, not behind him in the hall when he didn't know you were there. So that plan's out of the question.
Finally he gets up to use the bathroom. There's a quiet jingle and your path is suddenly clear.
"Tavros," you hiss, running over to him and kneeling, and he looks down at you as the man on the computer says "Good! Good! Awesome!"
"Yeah?" There is an unspoken "Sollux why are you on the floor?" in his tone.
"Tavros you need to help me steal Equius' keys."
This time the confusion isn't unspoken. "You want me to what?"
"Steal his keys! His car keys. It's important, you'll thank me." He looks unsure. Equius is returning. You bat at his arm repeatedly in a hurried gesture of comfort, and tell him as you hurry back, "I'm not going to do anything bad, trust me."
Tavros still looks uneasy about this, but you sit casually back in your chair.
When Equius returns he glances at your leg, which is now vibrating from how fast you are tapping your heel, but must have passed it off as normal behavior for you because he says nothing about it.
You pull out your phone.
Texting is also normal behavior for you, so at least one troll doesn't give you a second glance. Tavros seems to give you a worried look every now and again but you mostly ignore it. You peruse your contact list and find the perfect candidate: no job, won't be busy; close by, can get here in a couple minutes; isn't afraid of bending the rules a little; can drive.
tA: hey buddy what'2 up iive got a propo2iitiion for you
She responds within a few seconds. Good girl.
kL: Okay Hivemind what do you want me to steal.
tA: woah hey there who 2aiid anythiing about 2tealiing? come on you know me better than that don't ju2t a22ume 2hiit liike that about me holy fuck
kL: If you just wanted to hang out you would have gone MUH MUH MUH I'M BORED WAH. You used the word "proposition." So what do you want me to steal.
tA: iit'2 not 2tealiing okay
kL: And drop the quirk, Captor, I swear to god. We've been over this
tA: FINE fine jesus calm your tits woman. i just need you to drive something
kL: so you want me to steal a car.
tA: no, you're giving it back later, it's not stealing.
tA: you can't just respond to a text like that you ass. look get over yourself you've done worse
kL: you're awful. Where is it.
You grin. Tavros' brow furrows in a look of horror, and you try to laugh to pass the text off as a joke instead of an evil plan come to fruition.
She gets the address and the description of the car from you (kL: Holy shit this had better be for a good cause, I am in so much shit if I get caught taking a car like that.) and you close the phone, preparing for the second phase of the plan.
You know Equius takes his keys out of his pocket if he has to work.
You glance up at Tavros.
He gives you a terrified stare.
Equius looks between you two and for a moment you're afraid you've been spotted. The whole plan is a bust, he's going to find out… he opens his mouth as he looks to Tavros—
"Is something wrong?"
Wait. That's not right.
"What?" Tavros is awful at this. He now looks like he's been caught desecrating a tomb, and there is no way in hell Equius hasn't figured it out by now.
"Are you hurt. It seems like something has gone wrong."
You're not entirely sure you can believe this.
And then something even more miraculous happens and you're pretty sure you lose the ability to handle this:
Tavros plays along.
"Y-yeah, um… just… something, feels really off, it's not quite, responding the way, I'm used to…"
Okay it's a pretty weak attempt, but if you didn't know he was lying you would have freaked out too.
Equius empties his pockets and kneels to manhandle Tavros' legs.
The two of you look at each other with something like awe.
Not wasting a second, you carefully reach out, praying that Equius doesn't notice the light behind him, and shove most of his belongings as silently as possible back into the other cluster of gadgets on the table. His keys are retrieved, all held as closely together as you can muster with your psionics, and you manage to keep them from making a sound as you bring them closer to yourself.
"Where is the main source of the damage?" Equius looks up at Tavros—who is still staring at you in awe, and looks between the two of you with newfound horror. Equius turns to look at you and you're not entirely sure how you managed to stuff the keys in your pocket so quickly. He makes a face at you but you pull your phone out of the same pocket, and he goes back to his work.
"It's, uh…" Tavros manages to pull his gaze away from you and looks down. "It's, sort of, tweaking out, a little, in my knee."
You were planning on just putting your phone away after that clever ruse, but your friend texts you again.
kL: okay I found the car. Can you get me the keys or something or should I hotwire this?
tA: third window on the right side of the building. stay out of sight
kL: You're a nerd.
tA: idgaf get over here
Soon enough you hear rustling outside, and you make a point of looking confused when you walk over to the window. You open it and pretend not to see her.
She rolls her eyes.
The rest of the plan suddenly falls into place for you, and you feel brilliant.
You pull out your phone. The keys fall out the window. "Ah shit," you say, as she picks them up and gives you a thumbs-up. You turn as you close the window. "I dropped my keys. I'm going to go grab them, brb."
As you leave you hear Tavros weakly attempting to protest "No, they, feel fine now, really…"
Your friend meets you outside the front door and you high-five as she heads towards his car.
You take a casual stroll out to the side of the building, bend to pick up an imaginary set of keys, pantomime shoving them back in your pocket, and start walking the other way.
You're just heading in the building when you get a text.
kL: just leaving the parking lot. Where do you want this thing?
tA: someone's probably going to chase you soon, don't get far enough away that he'll give up and call the police
kL: wait what?
tA: keep driving he'll be there in two seconds
You pocket your phone and start running.
"Equius!" You're lisping a little because you're too out of breath to control yourself, but it's just as well. Both of the room's occupants whip around to look at you as you enter, and you pause on the door frame. "Equius someone's stealing your car!"
His eyes widen.
"They're just leaving you can still get them!"
Ohhh he looks livid.
He can also run damn fast.
As soon as he's gone you start laughing. The next text you send to your cohort is a little garbled.
tA: sorrty in afvance aahahahahaaj
Tavros has started laughing in spite of himself, but he still looks a bit worried. "What did you do?"
You just shake your head. "Come on, come on, let's go!" You grab his arm and start running for the side door.