When John introduces you to Vriska, everyone sort of takes a step back. You can see Kanaya surreptitiously pull her lipstick out of her pocket, and you wonder, is this girl really that intimidating?
The answer? No. She's your height, all scuffed up jeans and wild hair and exclamation points. "So you're the other Heir of Light, huh?" she says, hands on her hips.
"Doubtless you've already been informed of this fact, so I have to assume that you're attempting to be intentionally combative here."
She rolls her eyes. You roll yours. There is a mini eyerolling battle going on and Dave and John look a little freaked out.
"Well what if I am trying to start something? What are you going to do about it, Seer?"
You smile, because you can tell she doesn't really mean it. It's all bluster and show, like when Dave tries to convince people he's cool, or when Kanaya pretends that she's not a girl who will totally chainsaw a motherfucker in half. "I would probably have to say, bring it."
Everyone else in the veil sort of freezes for a minute. "Uh, guys!" says John. "Let's all just -"
He's interrupted by Vriska's laugh. "Yeah, okay!" she says. "Consider it brought."
You wink. She winks back, then pulls John off in a corner to harass him about Nic Cage some more.
You're sitting cross-legged in a room that you've adopted as your own personal sitting room. It's quiet there and, wonder of all fucking wonders, there's a seat with a decent amount of padding. Insert joke about plush rumps here, ah ha.
The last few inches of the scarf are almost done when Vriska comes bursting into the room and promptly flops herself on the ground at your feet. She pushes the yarn ball sitting besides you this way and that, throwing it around in her hands in a way that is almost certain to end in disaster.
"Sooo," she says. "I heard you wanted to get it on with my former moirail."
Oh fantastic. You've become the subject of teenage relationship gossip. Dreams really do come true. "Who did you hear that from?" you ask, not looking up from your knitting.
Vriska leans back and tilts her head up so she can see you better. Out of the corner of your eye you see her smirking. "Do you want to hit that, Rose??"
Maybe you should be less concerned with Vriska being a bad influence on John and more about John being a bad influence on her. The boy's taste in movies really is distressing.
Really, if that was the best Vriska could think of in terms of statements to make you flustered, she's nothing of a threat. You set the knitting down in your lap. "Yes, Vriska. I very much would like to 'hit that,' also 'tap that,' in case you were wondering."
"I was!!" she says. "You knoooooooow, if she has a thing for anyone it's probably me."
You don't doubt there was something between Kanaya and Vriska at some point. You've seen her look at Vriska occasionally with - not really longing, you don't think. Disappointment, maybe.
"If anyone has a thing for you it's probably you. Now, are you going to let me knit in peace, or are you going to continue to loll about on the floor like a dysfunctional ragdoll?"
You pick up your knitting. You raise your eyebrow. Vriska continues to waggle hers.
John and Vriska meeting is the worst thing that could have happened to either species. They're cross contaminating each other with all their horrible habits.
"Hmmmmmmmm, what do you think?"
"Vriska, as if I would ever presume to understand the delicate complexities of your mind. It is, I'm sure, an ornate mansion with many rooms, though I suspect most of them are empty."
She frowns and jumps on the seat beside you. "Okay so are you going to teach me how to knit or what?"
That stops your knitting in its tracks. You picture, briefly, Vriska Serket wielding kneedles. You picture the possibility of assault. You picture her clumsy combat-built hands fumbling with the slippery needles.
To your surprise, the image is more amusing than terrifying.
"What?" you say. "In what context is teaching you how to knit not a disaster of Herculean proportions?"
"Uhhh, the one where I want how to learn how to knit, dumpass!!"
She punches you in the shoulder. It's not an unfriendly punch. You decide to humor her.
"And why, exactly, should I entrust you with two sharp pointy pieces of metal? You'll likely shake them perilously close to my eyes every time you drop a stitch."
Vriska draws back a few inches and frets with her hands in her lap. "I'm not trying to -"
It's your turn to punch her on the shoulder. "I'm only joking," you say. "Try and keep up with the snarky horseshit."
"Oh," she says. "You're just so dumb it's hard to separate what you think is witty from what you mean seriously!"
Yes, yes, Vriska. Apology accepted. "So why do you want to learn how to knit? I presume not as a practice in cross-cultural crafting exchange?"
"I want to knit a noose for Terezi."
Okay, you take it back. Vriska is a little terrifying. Like a puppy who really really loves you but is also two hundred pounds and convinced that biting everything is a sensible plan of action.
"Guh, as a present, not to murder her or anything!!"
She looks hurt again. When you first learned of Vriska, from John and Kanaya, you never suspected that she would be the sort of person who could take anything personally. You imagined her as some sort of Amazon, who built towers of corpses and laughed at affection.
You forgot that she was just a thirteen year old girl.
"Oh, what a relief. We're just talking veiled death threats or autoerotic asphyxiation, not actual murder. I was worried there for a second."
Vriska smiles. "You are so overdramatic Rose!"
You raise an eyebrow. You are excellent at raising eyebrows. If eyebrow contortion was an Olympic event, you'd win the Stanley Cup.
"Let's all just take a moment to pause and really savor that statement. Swish it around in your mind like a fine wine."
"Hey, fuck you!"
You pull a set of wooden needles out of your sylladex, and put them in her hands. She looks a little surprised.
"Troll romance sure is weird," you say.
"And incidentally, none of your business!!!"
You throw a skein of red yarn at her.
"Do you really think Terezi is going to take a noose as - Look, this isn't even a legitimate conversation to have. Do not fucking give your girlfriend a noose, that is the worst idea I have ever heard. No wonder you never get laid."
She breaks into an honest-to-goodness Egbertian caliber grin then. "Oh, okay because you totally do, studmuffin."
You are going to have to have Words with John about what he shows impressionable young trolls. "That's it, I'm not letting John show you any more eighties movies anymore."
Vriska crosses her arms. "Are you going to help me or not?"
You consider the situation for a moment. If nothing else, watching the looks on Dave and John's faces will be delightful. "Knit her a scalemate or something. Bitches love scalemates."
John's the next one to interrupt what was once your fortress of solitude. Holy shit, are you going to have to start setting up hours and appointments? Does everyone think you are a good person to go to for advice? You once gave your will to betentacled monsters from beyond this realm of existence, why do people think you consistently make good decisions?
John sticks his hands in his pockets. "Hey Rose! What's up?"
"Nothing much, John," you say, marking your place in your book. "As you can see, I'm sitting with a book and a cup of tea and endeavoring to gain a moment of solitude and relative tranquility before I am beset upon by another shrieking troll."
His grin slips down a notch. "Aha, okay! Sorry to bug you -"
"No, it's no trouble John." You need to dial back the passive-aggressiveness. "What's the matter?"
He scuffs his foot against the floor. "I was just wondering, I guess, why you're spending so much time with Vriska?"
"I don't know! It's kind of weird is all. I thought you two would hate each other if you ever really talked at all." He stops, and grimaces. "Oh no, you're not doing that weird hate romance thing are you??"
You sigh. "John, we really need to talk about being accepting of other people's sexualities."
"No!" he says, waving his hands around furiously. "I didn't mean cause she's a lady, it's just both of you are my really good friends, and I don't want you two to hate each other."
"There is nothing black about my intentions towards Ms. Serket. "
You can't imagine yourself mustering up the hatred to form a kismesis with Vriska. See: your earlier comments on her being something akin to a particularly vicious pet.
"Haha, okay, that's good then!"
"So what's the problem, then?"
John glances away from you. He's fidgeting with the tail end of his hood. "Nothing I guess. You guys just make me sort of nervous!"
You can't help but smile. "We probably should."
John huffs. "See, and shit like that's not helping."
You crack your book open again. "I promise to give you ample warning should we decide to burn this shit to the ground."
"Uh, thanks? I guess I'll . . . let you read now."
"Yes, that'd be lovely, thanks."
John slides out of the room in a hurry. The smile stays on your face for quite some time.
Vriska is dangling her head off the edge of the couch, watching you upside down as you knit.
"Hey Rose," she says.
"Why is your hair so stupid and flat all the time??"
You roll your eyes. As much as Vriska reminds you of John, there's a bit of Dave in her. They both share the inability to actually just fucking express their wants and needs.
"You mean why does it not look like a hurricane ripped through my house five seconds ago? There's this delightful invention called the 'brush.' You may have heard of it."
She flips you off. "Ahaha fuck you too."
Seriously. No one can just ask for shit.
"Do you want me to do your hair? Is that what you're asking?"
"My hair is perfect as is!"
You concentrate on your knitting. "Of course. As I have observed many times before, you are continuously without flaw. But would you like me to fix your hair?"
Vriska slides off of the couch (backwards, how do you even do that?) "Well, if it's going to bug you so muuuuuuuuch, I guess so!!!"
"All right, get over here and let me find a brush."
It takes three hours, and the result is less smooth and shiny and more on the poofy side.
Vriska declares you totally incompetent. She steals the hairbrush.
The air in your room is perfectly still and thick with ash and the squirming memories of your own possession. Your head hurts - the word hurts is far from adequate, but you'll be fucked if you're able to think of anything more eloquent while it feels as if the assembled horde of horrorterrors are fingering your brain with their tentacles and laughing at your pain.
This happens sometimes. You don't talk about it, and no one else mentions your sometimes sudden disappearances for days at a time.
Sometimes you remember your mother. What she looked like on the ground, bleeding. Bled. Sometimes you remember what you can do, sometimes the Thorns jump from your sylladex without being called.
When you wake and find you've scribbled down your dreams in your sleep in a language you can't remember, that's when you lock yourself up in your room and wait it out.
There's a crack of light, and you groan and pull a pillow over your face.
"Hey dumbass!" says whoever at the door, and you think it's Vriska, unless it's another hallucination. "Why have you been in your room for like a whole day?"
You slide the pillow off your face and attempt to sit up.
"Perhaps I sought solace from the endless torrent of Vriska that is my life."
She's dead quiet for a minute.
"Really?" she asks, very softly, and your heart plummets. Oh, Vriska.
"No not really. Get the fuck in here and close the door before my head actually implodes, for gog's sake."
She does so, and stands in the awkward half light of your room, arms crossed. You wish you could see her face better.
"So why the fuck are you in here?"
"Just festertongue grimdark bullshit," you say. There's another stab of pain in your head, and you wince. "Occasionally I get all cthulu fhtaghn-y. I don't really need my friends to worry any more about my erstwhile association with the horrorterrors, and I don't think I can really take another 'giv---e into t )(---e darkn---ess!!' speech from Peixes right now."
Vriska sits on the corner of your bed. "Well that's stupid."
"Yes, I agree."
You settle your head back against the pillows, and close your eyes, try to ignore the things that lurk in the corners of your vision.
"Since you are so worthless I guess you'll just have to rely on me, then."
You're shocked into silence for a minute. This is, you think, kind of a big deal for Vriska Serket. "Clearly yours is the superior intellect," you say. And maybe your voice gets a little caught in your throat, because no one's ever dared approach you while you're like this, let alone offered to take care of you. "Clearly now I will have to waste away wishing for a pot of tea and some decent painkillers whilst you flounce around the meteor beating everyone at crossword puzzles."
"Is that what you want?"
"For you to beat everyone at crossword puzzles? Gog, no. The day that happens I will resign myself to death."
You're being obstinate, you know. Hey, Vriska's not the only one who has problems asking for what she wants.
"No, fuckass. I mean your stupid tea and human medicine and shit, is that what you want?"
Her voice is softer again.
"Yes, thank you."
Vriska stands up and walks towards the hair. You think you see another hair flip. "Don't mention it!"
She pauses before opening the door. "No seriously, don't mention it."
You get it. You won't.
You're half asleep when Vriska comes back.
This is not your most dignified moment.
A warm mug is shoved into your hands. "Here's your stupid tea. I sort of hope you choke on it??"
You take a sip, and sigh with relief. "Feelings mutual. Thank you."
She puts a bottle of pills on your nightstand, and then just stands there, watching you drink the tea. It's a little unnerving, or it would be if you couldn't make out her expression. Nervous, you think. You'd almost say scared, but scared doesn't fit too well on Vriska.
"Yes?" you say.
She tugs on her hair. "Is there another reason you won't tell everyone when you get all grimdark?" She pauses. "Is it - is it because you're worried they'll kill you?"
If lightning didn't strike behind your temples every time you moved your head a fraction of an inch and you were, perhaps, in a comedy, you would have done a spit take.
"You heard me! Are you afraid that they'll look at you and say 'no she's too big of a threat for us, let's off her.'"
Your hands shake a little when you put down your tea. "I can't pretend that the thought hasn't crossed my mind before."
Vriska sits on the edge of your bed. "Well, you should probably cut it out, because all of your friends are way too weak to do that! John doesn't even have the mangrit for it."
"Likewise," you say.
It's Vriska's turn for hypothetical spit-taking. "What?"
You want to make some sort of motion towards her. Pat her on the shoulder or hold her hand, you don't know. "Likewise, I don't think you need to fear anyone harming you because of a perceived threat to us all."
There's this beautiful look of shock on her face. "And why's that? You think I couldn't be threatening enough?"
You love this girl. You don't think in a romantic sense - not really - but you love her. You love how she has to hide under all this bluster, you love her twisted sense of honesty, her brashness. You love her stupid fucking hair and you love her guilt.
"No, Vriska. Because I wouldn't let them."
Her mouth drops open, then, and you're both quiet for a long minute. "Oh," she says, finally.
You love this girl because you think you can see her insides when no one else can.
"Now, Vriska, we are going to engage in the jocular activity colloquially known as the 'fistbump,' and then I am going to sip this no doubt heinous tea whilst you get the fuck out of my room before I lose what little control I have and start turning your skin inside out."
She breaks into a smile. "Wow you're really pushy! Rude!"
You extend a fist. Bumps are properly achieved. Then Vriska grabs you in a fierce hug.
When she pulls away, you say, "You realize I will end you if a word of this conversation ever is uttered to another living being?"
"Right back atcha," she says, and slips out the door.
AG: I don't know about you but I am getting pretty sick of everyone being all nervous around us!!!
TT: I concur. If I hear one more query about 'candlelit hate dates' I will perform some sort of complicated gymnastics off of a handle.
AG: No one understands this human emotion called friendship like we do.
TT: Friendship isn't an emotion, numbnuts.
AG: uhhh, yeah! It totally is!!
TT: So, what do you suggest as a solution to this conundrum?
AG: I sort of have an idea . . . but you miiiiiiiight not like it! but its pretty messed up. ::::)
TT: I'm sorry.
TT: Have you met me?
TT: Do you even go here?
TT: Which is to say, please share with the class.
AG: ::::D Okay, here's what we do -
You jostle Vriska as you sit down to eat. She glares at you, shields her plate of food from your assault.
"Rose, I hope you choke slowly on your own bile!"
John's sitting across from her, and he's already reaching a hand out to touch her arm. "Vriska!"
You shake your head. "No, it's all right, John. You don't need to fight my battles for me."
You cut a perfectly small piece of a potato and take your sweet ass time chewing it. Only then do you respond.
"While I admit a certain amount of bile rises in my throat every time I speak with you, I'm afraid I would never spare you that much thought. You don't merit that much brain power."
Vriska's eyes are stormy, and she shoves her tray of food towards John and she stomps off. Everyone turns to watch her.
John looks distressed. "Rose! I thought you guys were going to be nice."
"I can't help it if she refuses to act like a civil being," you say, lightly dabbing your mouth with your napkin. "But rest assured, John, I have this well under control."
For your next tussle you pick the hallway almost everyone uses to get to the computer lab. As Terezi and Dave walk by, you shove Vriska out of the little alcove you'd been lurking in, and push her up against the wall.
Her collar is fisted in your hand, and she's scrabbling against your touch. "Touch my notebooks one more time and I'll -"
She circles your wrist with her hand and twists, hard. "And you'll what?"
You make sure to lean in so close your noses are almost touching. You make sure to spit the words. "I will flay your skin from your body and leave it as a warning to anyone else who would dare to intrude upon my privacy."
She smirks. "I'd like to see you try."
It's your turn to storm off. You pass by Dave and Terezi, who are both immobile, Dave's hands frozen halfway through a gesture, Terezi's mouth still open.
Your lucky break comes when you convince Sollux that hacking Vriska's computer so it locks up and only displays a set of embarrassing pictures of her every time she so much as touches it is a brilliant idea.
The pictures you'd retrieved yourself, at no small cost to your own personal dignity, from Eridan.
"That is it!" shrieks Vriska, slamming her keyboard on the counter.
She whirls around. This is one advantage she has on you - her hair makes even turning look dramatic. "I have had it with your bullshit!" she screams. "You are the actual worst person. It's you. Every time I look at you my skin just fucking starts to crawl. You think you're all smug and pretentious and perfect, little miss grimdark, you think you've got your shit together, but you fucking don't."
"Wow you two, get a glubbin room," mutters Eridan.
"Hey Vriska, maybe we should just, uh, leave for a little bit!" says John. His hands hover around her shoulders like he wants to pull her away, but she waves him off.
"Well, if we're spilling our proverbial guts all over the floor, allow me to suggest that you are one of the most contemptible, lowdown, sneaky lifeforms I have ever had the displeasure to meet. Your own disregard for the people around you is disgusting, as is your childish adherence to your belief in luck."
"Hey, Lalonde," says Dave. "Maybe you need to dial back the snarky horse -"
"There's nothing snarky about this, Dave," you snap. "This is one hundred percent sincere."
Everyone's already been surreptitiously inching away from the two of you, but when Vriska begins to roll up her sleeves, there's an audible shuffle backwards. Terezi's gripping her cane so hard you're surprised her hand isn't bleeding.
"Oh, it's like that, is it?" you say, and fetch your needles from your sylladex.
"No!" says Vriska. "None of your bullshit magic."
"None of your bullshit mind control."
She swings a fist at your face but you duck just in time. "Aww, I thought you liked the mind control."
You trod hard on her insole. "Pity you don't have the brainpower to control much."
It only takes a few seconds, and a few staged punches and kicks, for Vriska to get you up against the wall.
"I hate you," she hisses, and kisses you.
"Oh sweet Jegus, we're all fucked," says Karkat.
She bites your lip and you pull at her hair (for authenticity). The kiss is harsh and kind of hard to enjoy, because Vriska keeps trying to muffle her giggles in her mouth and you're trying to contain an awful smile.
When you break apart you're both laughing. You shove Vriska to the side so you can see the looks on everyone's faces.
"Oh man," says Vriska. "Oh gog, oh man."
She laughs harder, and you do too, the sort of laugh you hadn't emitted in years and years, a real deep down from-the-stomach laugh that hurts.
"The looks on their faces," you wheeze.
It is goddamn beautiful.
"We - we better abscond," says Vriska.
Always keep your audience wanting more.
You link arms and stroll out of the lab. Or at least, you'd qualify it as strolling if you didn't keep breaking into peals of laughter every few steps.
"You're not a half bad kisser, Serket," you say, stepping lightly on her foot.
"Well you suck!" she says. "Less tongue next time, ugh."
John refuses to talk to either of you for a week.
It's completely worth it.