You dream of wood splintering under a girl's fist, thud thud thud, and a heat in your chest that isn't there anymore. You Are The Day, and this is some night girl, metal and jersey. Her eyes are white.
The scents from the bottles on the counter are subtly wrong. You lean in, frowning, to take another sniff. Nighteating lily, echidnacea, orange blossom, blood (red), blood (green), blood (blue). Your fingers linger over the last one. You need it for yourself sometimes.
"Kanaya," Vriska complains, lifting her head from the sink. "This is the best memory you've got?"
"You are ruining the nostalgia of the moment." You pour the blood into your hands, and work it into a lather. As it suds it smells of citrus. "What do you have to complain about? I can remember you as you like. You are dead."
"It's a dreambubble, Fussyfangs." Vriska explains it as though she is doing you an enormous favor, treating your puny intellect to the influence of her vast mind and knowledge about everything. "It's kind of great that you're dreaming about me. Great stupid! So I had to come and check it out. But I can't belieeeeeeeeve that this is what you remember. You are such a sap without me around to set you straight."
"Please enlighten me as to when you have ever set me straight."
"Well, I threw away those dumb Trolllight books, didn't I? There was not even close to enough shark fighting in those."
"You threw away my Trolllight books?" You are, though you should not be, flabbergasted. "I had to order new ones from space!"
"Ha ha ha, yeah right! You mean you had to write new rainbow drinker fanfic when you were crying about them being gone? Hey, don't look at me like that." She rolls her eyes. "I'm sorry," she says, as if she says it all the time. "Will you just braid my hair already?"
You frown, even as you reach for the conditioner. "What does 'jeez' mean?"
"I don't know." She shrugs. "John says it a lot. It sounds metal."
"Ugh! Don't ask so many questions, Fussyfangs," she says. "Just enjoy my company."
It's a simple enough memory. She came to the door of your hive, after not killing someone out of her weight class. Eridan, probably. You can't remember. You let her in, and you washed the blood out of her cuts, and you washed her hair and braided it clean. She slept in your pile.
You are perfectly aware that Rose Lalonde would die happy with this to feed on. You have even considered telling her, except that you would, personally, rather carve out your auricular sponges with a tong made of-- something Karkat might say. You're not sure where this metaphor was going. You are tired. The dream takes a lot out of you, besides your sleep.
Vriska growls. "She backstabbed me, that filthy backstabber! Fuck, Maryam, it hurt!"
"I believe that my line was 'you will be just fine,'" you say. You measure the bandage against the hole in her chest, but you don't think it will go round. Carefully, you unwind the cape from its place at your waist.
"Yeah, well, say it!" Vriska demands. "It'll be just fine, say it, tell me it's all going to be okay now! C'mon!" She shoves you hard, and the cape crumples in your hand. "What's the matter? Scared?"
"Opposed to falsehoods."
"Fuck, fuck you," Vriska says, and this time you get to watch her jam her hand in her mouth, her knuckles splitting on her fang. You don't reach over to slap it away. You watch her seethe.
"Can I stay here?" she asks quietly.
"I think we might accept the hypothesis that you are going to stay here whether I like it or not," you tell her. You guide her over to the pile of pillows. "Considering this is the sixth night in a row that I have dreamed of you."
She frowns. "You're sleeping at night now? You've gotta get away from those humans, Fussyfangs, they are messing you up."
"Heaven forfend I sleep when my friends sleep." You curl up around her, the way you have for night after night, and the brush is in your hand without reaching for it. It smells of citrus already, but her hair smells like metal, like metal and plastic. You lean in for a better whiff.
"All right," you say. "I object to this. There is no way that I should know you smell like Terezi's sword cane."
Vriska laughs. "It's a dream," she says. "Do I smell like her? That is hot. I bet she's sorry."
"She's very sorry," you say. You pick apart her hair and it comes smoothly, a dark unwoven cloth that you will never be tired of remembering. "I don't think she's as sorry as she would have been if she died."
"Whateverrrrrrrr," she drawls, as her eyes close. What does she sound like, your wandering ghost? She sounds tired. She sounds like she hasn't slept since the day she died, all those days ago.
"I should have been there," you say. "I should have seen it."
"Yeah," she mumbles, curling into you. "You snooze, you lose."
You dare to take her hand, and it runs slippery with blood. It makes you hungry. You are so hungry, all the time, and cold too as the Green Sun slips away. You can see it burning in the sky behind Vriska, casting her whole face into shadow. She's torn open the skin of her palm, and you are out of cartoon spider bandages. Your life is very full of problems.
"Let's go upstairs," you say, and you take her hand at the wrist. She jerks back.
You look down at her hand and it is soaked in brown.
The counter is decorated with poutpourri and fluffy towels, their bright colours washed out in the dark. You turn the water on and wash Vriska's blood from your hands, watching as it runs down the sink and puddles at the bottom. You've forgotten to let out the plug. There is so much blood in her, and brown eddies with it, and then rust red, and then, like a magic trick, each one of Terezi's eyes. They peer up at you, the world's least appetizing olives.
You turn to Vriska, who grinds her teeth audibly, and reach to take her clenched hands, and she hisses and lashes out. Your jaw stings before her hand connects, in the way of memory, and it stings long after. You yank her in hard and she tangles her hands in your hair and plants herself into a kiss.
She tastes like she is dead.
You were so sorry for her, with her shakes and her sorrows and all eight thousand, eight hundred and eighty-eight things she feared. You thought she'd hanged the moon. You wished the best for her; you set aside time out of your day to wish the best for her, to sit in your room and think up the best for her and write it out in bullet points. You wanted to fold her hands over each other and get her to sit-- finally-- still, and you wanted to watch her burst out the door in a tangle of your ribbons and ruin her own life. You wanted to kiss her.
Neither of you have to breathe now, so the kiss goes on for a while, though the heat's ebbing out of it. By the end of it you are kneeling, holding hands.
You sigh, "I should have stopped you."
Vriska sniffs. "Like you could!"
"I was an undead revenant by the time you decided to die. Had I wanted you immobile--"
"You didn't though!" she interrupts. "You wanted to stop thinking about me. Too much of a problem for you, Fussyfangs?"
"Yes," you say.
"No," you say.
"Do you mind?" you ask, shifting your weight so you're sitting on your legs, a little bit taller than her with the help of the tilting tile beneath you.
She sighs. "Yeah, whatever," she says, forceful, and tips her head forward, and her hair spills out into your hands.
"Stay right here," you tell her, and you turn to go back to your respiteblock. You need your chair, your sewing chair, but when you get there Vriska is sitting on it. At the sight of you she curses and falls off it, sinking her fangs into her own thumb to stop her from yelling any louder. She doesn't bleed.
She does cry, though. She is as unattractive crying as you'd always imagined, and her wings shudder and furl with every sob. She is staining your carpet blue.
But the good thing about having imaginary carpets is that you do not need to go over them with carbonated water and bone dust. You tuck a strand of hair behind her ear, and it just makes her hiccup, disgustingly, and start leaking from her nose.
"You kept the braid," you say.
"I'm dead," she says, though it comes out more like, "mfmfm dmdmfmf," and then, "fuck you," which comes out perfectly clearly. "Of course I kept the braid. Jeez."
"If this John boy is your new pale fling--"
"Oh, you'll what? Kill me?"
"I will be very disappointed," you say, sternly. "Do you know he threw a bucket at Karkat before he left us?"
This startles a laugh out of her, hoarse and mucusoidal though it is. "You're making that up."
"I assure you I am not."
"God. I could keep doing this every night," she says. "Every night, for nights and nights and nights. How weird is that? Pretty weird," she tells you. "I knew you didn't have a standard of comparison so I finished that off for you."
You're her moirail, after all. She doesn't always like to do what you ask but she came here for you. For you to know what was best.
"Yes," you say. "But you're dead."
"You were probably the worst moirail of all time," she says fondly. She combs the strand of hair behind her ear herself, and leans in to give you a vanishing kiss. She adds, as though it surprises herself, "Except for me."
You dream about your door. You dream that you sit in front of it for hours and hours, and no one comes to beat it down. You dream you're alone in your hive, in the middle of a desert. You dream that you open it yourself finally and you can see a shadow far away, someone you lost is running through the dark far away from you, chasing the light as she runs away, her braid swinging out behind her.