"—but there's another word on there, too, apart from restoration, right?" Karkat is saying. He studies the humming pink not-a-transportalizer suspiciously. "And you don't know what the fuck that one is."
"The glyphth aren't anything like current Alternian," Sollux says. "It'th not like we have a tranthlation program already handy."
"It wouldn't make any sense for it to restore someone and hurt them at the same time," Vriska contributes, which is actually, you think, a good point, "so I'm sure it's fine! Come oooooooon, Karkat, stop being such a spoilsport!"
Karkat does a thing with his teeth that is not really like a smile at all. "I am trying not to jump to any stupid conclusions," he says, speaking really clearly like he's too mad to yell, "because we are all pretty fucked here and as your leader I am responsible for not making it worse!"
Vriska sighs explosively, like she is responsible for making it worse—oh, you need to not think things like that, she'll know somehow, she'll take it out on you, she'll—she turns to you, and the thing she's doing with her teeth is a smile but it's not any nicer than Karkat's. "Tavros wants to give it a shot! Don't you, Pupa? You want to get better!"
"Uh," you say, because you miss being able to walk but you're a little nervous about experimenting with the strange machines in this lab. "I'm not sure if—"
"And that's why you don't get anywhere," Vriska says, rolling her eyes in annoyance. "Because you just sit there like a sorry wiggler being not sure!" Then she's grabbing the handles on your four-wheel device and pushing you toward the not-transportalizer and Karkat and Sollux are yelling at her? But not actually stopping her, and yelling is never enough to stop her from doing something she's put her mind to, which you know is just about everything she does—and she shoves your four-wheel device up over the lip of the not-transportalizer, onto the pad, and then hits the button beside it.
For a second, everything goes pink.
It clears up fast, though, and then you feel sort of tingly and queasy but not hurting anywhere, which, you have to admit, is better than you were afraid of.
"Well?" Vriska says, loud, right by your ear, so you jump in surprise. And then you realize, your legs moved when you did that. "Did it work?"
"Maybe?" you say and your voice comes out funny but that happens a lot lately, especially when you're nervous, which is always. You put both hands on the support arms of your four-wheel device and push yourself up, slowly, sort of expecting to fall as soon as you shift weight to your legs—but you don't, you don't fall, you can feel your weight shift into the soles of your feet and the way your ankles are stiff and the way your knees creak and you think, maybe, you're going to cry.
"Holy shit," Karkat says, "you're a girl!"
"That's not, uh, very funny," you say, but your voice does sound different, not just cracking but staying there in that warmer, higher range. You look down. That sure is a pair of budding pleasure glands tenting out the fabric of your shirt. "Oh."
The others are looking at you funny. "It'th pothible we could reverthe it by running the devithe again," Sollux says.
"No," you say, surprising yourself with how fast you answer and how certain you sound. "It's, uh, fine like this." You step away from the device—you can walk, oh—before Vriska can decide you don't know what's best for you. "Reversing the, uh, other part would be awful, and, I don't want to risk that."
"You sure?" Karkat asks. Vriska is looking at you like she might almost be impressed, and your cheeks get warm.
"I'm sure," you say, and you're pretty sure that in your head Rufio is cheering. "It's not, a problem." You are probably not badass enough to be a girl, but actually, you're not badass enough to be a troll at all, so you're used to that already. "I'm going to, go back to the others," you say. Equius was talking about using robotics to make you walk, and you should tell him that he doesn't need to do that now, thanks anyway.
You take another step, and then a third, and within a few more your legs have remembered how running works, and the air whistles past your horns and stings the corners of your eyes as you head for the lab at top speed.
Everyone has to make a big deal out of it at first. Mostly about you walking again, because trolls can heal small injuries pretty well but this is not a thing that anybody was expecting. You least of all. You do catch Kanaya giving you a thoughtful look at one point and you wonder if she's going to need to make you dresses now. That actually might be sort of nice.
After a bit, though, the others get used to the idea, and go back to doing what they were doing before. You settle in at your husktop—in an ordinary chair, now—and think about maybe trying to troll one of the humans again. But you're sort of distracted by yourself, even though you know that's silly. The nubs of your pleasure glands feel weird and sensitive under your shirt. You fill out your pants differently. It's hard not to squirm.
You're wondering whether it would be totally ridiculous to go off to your own respiteblock just so you could look at your own body when Gamzee says from behind you, "That was a motherfucking miracle machine you all up and found, chica." You're not sure you can believe your aurals, the way Gamzee's voice sounds, but when you turn your chair around the visual evidence backs up the aural: Gamzee must have tried the device, too.
"Wow, uh," you say, blinking at him. Her.
"Ain't that the motherfucking truth," Gamzee says. "I got all to wondering what that would fucking feel like, you know? Check these the fuck out." She cups her pleasure glands in both hands, and they are not so much budding as swollen and ripe, and you feel very, very conscious of how close she's standing and how tingly you feel all over.
"I think, uh, this is maybe, not a conversation I want to have, right here with everybody," you say, because the others are looking at you and it's awkward. And then you surprise yourself and impress Rufio for the second time tonight when you say, "But, if you want to, we could go, uh, to my respiteblock...?"
Gamzee nods. "That is a wicked chill idea, chica," she says, and your mouth feels a little dry and your bloodpusher is working overtime as you get up, and Gamzee throws her arm over your shoulders and you get distracted by how she smells. Which is like sugar and grease paint and tangy green sopor. You want to bury your face in the hollow of her throat and breathe.
"Let's, uh, let's go," you say, because wow you feel tingly and alive in all your unfamiliar places, and all over the surface of your skin, and is this normal? Is this what it always feels like to be a girl, this kind of wanting and hungry, or is it another thing the device did to you? You can't imagine trying to ask the other girls that question right now. Definitely you want to get out of the main lab.
"Look at us, already all up and going," Gamzee says, and you let her steer you along with her easy loping stride right to the transportalizers. They always make you a little dizzy, but you lean into her as you zip through and she's warm and solid, and it's okay.
You take a deep breath as you step off the receiving pad into your respiteblock, which means your head is full of the smell of Gamzee again, and you look up at her lazy crooked smile and you're definitely smiling back. "So, you wanted, to try it?" you ask.
"You looked all happy, chica, and you don't get your grin on nowhere near enough," Gamzee says. "I thought there must be some wicked fucking sweetness going on." She grabs the hem of her shirt and just peels it up and off, looking down then at her chest like she's curious. You can't help laughing a little, because she's always a little bit silly, but also your breath catches in the back of your throat.
"You look, really pretty," you tell her, which is not the most elegant way to say it, but it's true. She's tall and long-limbed, with smooth gray skin in contrast to her white-painted face, and her pleasure glands hang heavy with their softness, their nubs flushed indigo. Her pants ride low enough that you can see the arches of her hip bones, the curves there echoing the arcs of her horns.
She laughs, the sound shivery all over your skin. "I sure as fuck ain't the only one with new gear to check out, babe," she says, and you blush.
"Oh, uh, right," you say, and then you're doing battle with your shirt to get it off over your horns, and maybe if Kanaya does decide to make you dresses, she can make you something that doesn't have to go on and off over your head, because that would sure be nice. You're smaller than Gamzee just about all ways around, except for the breadth of your horns, so it's not really any surprise that your pleasure glands are, too. You stand there and look at them for a little bit, because it's still weird that they're there, that they're you, that your body is a different shape than it was a few hours ago. You touch them, and they're really soft.
Gamzee makes a low, throaty sound, and when you look up at her, she's watching you. "Don't be all leaving a sister hanging," she says, and because it's Gamzee it doesn't even sound like a demand, more like she's asking nicely.
You nod. She takes the first step and you take the second one, and then you're pressing bare skin to skin as your head tilts back and hers tilts forward so you can kiss. Her lips are amazing. Her tongue is amazing. The nubs of your pleasure glands stiffen, and when you squirm against her they send little shocks of pleasure through you.
Everything between your legs feels melty-hot and needy, and you remember that's going to be different now, too. The thought is more exciting than scary, and you try to catch your breath in between kisses as Gamzee curls her thumbs around the bases of your horns, which doesn't help at all but you can't complain. You tug at the waistband of her polka-dot pants and they slide down just a little. "Can we?" you ask.
Gamzee licks the curve of your ear. "I been all hoping we could for motherfucking sweeps, chica," she says, so quiet you can't help feeling like she's telling you an amazing secret. You push her pants down and she fumbles with your buttons and then both of your shoes are in the way, and your horns lock when you try to take care of that. You stumble, almost fall, and with anyone else that would be awful, but Gamzee just laughs and you do too and it's fine that you mess up sometimes if she's around to make it okay.
Both of your clothes come off and get dropped in your pile, on top of a pile of cracked oogonibombs and Fiduspawn cards you had too many copies of. Then the two of you collapse into the pile yourselves, and Gamzee sprawls on top of you so she can suck on one of your nubs. You get dizzy, that's so good. Your bulge stiffens until it's aching hard—it's tiny, now, small enough to stay nestled in the swollen folds of your seedflap—and you're slick and leaking, so ready to open up and let go. You hook one leg around Gamzee's and bury your hands in her hair, rocking up into her hard.
"Damn, chica, yeah," she says, shifting, rising up over you. "Let's get some of this motherfucking sweetness going on." She gets you lined up so your legs interlock, so your hip presses up against her bulge, so she's grinding down against yours. Your seedflap flutters, already close, and you skate your hands up her ribs, over the little dents that would be gills if her blood were just a shade more purple. When you catch the nubs of her pleasure glands between your fingers, the noise she makes is the most amazing thing you've ever heard. You pinch them, squeeze them, letting her take care of what your hips are doing, because you just can't think about that many things at once.
Gamzee's moving faster, rocking hard on top of you, and her eyes squeeze shut like she can barely stand it, which is a lot like how you feel, and then she says, "Tav—Tav—" and she's trembling and then you're wet, soaking, your thighs drenched in warm genetic material because she didn't stop to get a bucket or anything and thinking about how hot that is sort of turns you inside out, makes your seedflap ripple and unfold and pleasure crests through you as you spill right there along with her.
She flops on the pile next to you and laughs, and the sound is so happy you barely know what to do with yourself, except that's not true, because what you're doing is laughing with her. You feel giddy. You are a girl and you have working legs and you just had completely perverse bucket-free sex with the sweetest, goofiest troll you've ever met, and even the fact that you are all doomed isn't enough to really shake your good mood.
"That was, uh, the best thing ever, I'm pretty sure," you tell Gamzee. You sort of expect her to laugh it off.
She doesn't, though. Instead she nods slowly, like that was a deep, philosophical thing to say. "Shit yeah, it was," she says. She props herself up on one elbow and looks down at you and you're not even sure what to do with all the softness in her expression, with the look in her eyes. You don't have words for everything that expression makes you feel.
But you're also pretty sure she won't care if you're not good with the words. For now, you can just be like this: you roll closer, wrap your arms around her middle, and hold on.