I was not afraid of horror, I was afraid of beauty, of what it could do to me if I let it.
This is a problem you can fix.
The technical details of your resurrections and the mechanics of your new physiology -- beyond your barely-quelled need for blood and moon-glow skin -- are beyond you at the moment. Gamzee is sliced in two, neatly as you could manage; Vriska has been summarily punched, to be dealt with properly later.
But Feferi -- Feferi's skin has gone black as a carapace's and her eyes a deader white than your skin. Her head is cocked. Behind her stands the shambling revenant that was once Sollux Captor, and the ragged hole Eridan punched in him naked to the air, lowest ribs exposed. You have been resurrected for all of ten minutes, and you've never been more grateful for your sash.
Distressing as it is, it at the very least explains the pool of blood where his body should have been. (You made sure to drain Eridan's corpse to a dry husk. This was more satisfying than helpful. In your defense, you'd just woken up, and you were very hungry.)
"Hey, Kanaya," Vriska says. "What the hell is -- "
"I'll take care of it," you say. You have a spray of indigo blood down your front and a cavern in your gut you can't feel; however comforting it is, you don't have time for Vriska's bravado. Feferi turns her head toward the sound of your voice. The way her neck moves -- it's as though the tendons and bones have forgotten how to work together. "You should go find Terezi and Karkat, I think."
"They'll get here." She turns her back on you and pulls her husktop from her fetch modus, tucking it under her arm. "Guess your fangs are really fussy now, huh? Want a drink?"
"No," you say, even as you watch her lick the last smear of cerulean from her split lip. She's doing it on purpose. If she says another word, you're going to punch her again, which is, while not altogether a new urge, one you're far more inclined to act on at the moment.
For once in her life, Vriska takes the hint. Your mouth is dry. The place where your foodsac used to be aches with imagined hunger, but to call her back now for her blood would be to undo all your hard work.
Feferi is still watching you. Instead of the soft curls you've thought idly about running a brush through properly, her hair stands out at crackling angles. She's put her goggles over Sollux's empty eyes -- a sweet gesture, and a futile one, and proof that Feferi is still in there somewhere. They're crooked, and you will straighten them later.
"You've gone grimdark, haven't you," you say, "you poor thing."
She spits something at you in the festertongues, something mournful and plaintive that makes your ears itch and pop, but you put a hand on her shoulder. It's more than you could have done for Rose. It isn't about Rose, who's nothing but a girl through a viewscreen; you are not her moirail and she is not your comrade.
So you put your palms on the sides of Feferi's face and stroke your thumbs over her cheeks. The tracks of blood crusted on her skin come off in fine flecks of Tyrian purple on your fingers, and it feels like sacrilege, touching her this way. It hurts to meet her eyes, so you don't -- you, who lived in the Alternian desert, and saw the sun every day. "Come back," you manage to say. "Come back, and tell me what happened to Sollux."
"I let them in," Feferi says, after a few moments of stroking and coaxing, in a voice with a ten thousand screaming echoes behind it. You imagine sweet bile surging up your throat at the sound, but you have nowhere for it to come from.
"I was angry," she goes on. The black is leaching out of her skin, at least. You can't tell if it's your touch or the tendrils of shadow gathering about her. You'd like very much to think that it's the former, and that the horrortendrils are harmless. "I was so angry at him."
Keeping one hand on her face, you shake Sollux's shoulder. It isn't until Feferi turns her gaze on him that his body jerks, as though he's emerging from a vat of sopor, and he turns to face you like he isn't covered in his own blood. "What FF's trying to say is, she let the Furthest Ring in, and then she tore the life out of Eridan and put it in me, which is apparently a thing she can do? And good fuckin' riddance."
He shrugs, straightens the goggles on his face, puts his hands in his pockets, looks down at the slow-healing skin under the hole in his tee-shirt; the fuck do you want me to say written in every line of his posture.. His middle is still concave, his thin new skin a poor cover for the internal organs and muscles forming beneath.
"Yes," you say.
"And," Sollux says, "see, any second now, she's going to look awa -- "
Feferi looks away. Sollux slumps. The hole in his middle re-opens, tearing itself apart first in pinpricks, then in a gentle unfolding of flesh that you can't keep yourself from watching.
This is not a problem you can fix. You resume your stroking of Feferi's cheeks, then move down the sides of her neck to squeeze and rub her shoulders, and finally, she turns back to Sollux. His wound disappears, and he doubles over at the waist and hugs himself. "Yeah, that's what happens, isn't it great."
"Argoleth," Feferi says, reaching out to untangle some of Sollux's hair from the band of the goggles.
"I know," he says. A horrorterror endearment, then. He spits out a smear of blood that he should not by any rights have in him. "You too."
You cannot help staring at it, at the blood, dark as it is on the grey-black of the roof. You turn yourself and Feferi so your back is to it, and so Feferi can still see Sollux. "You're hungry, Sylph," she says, then shakes her head and corrects herself: "Kanaya."
"'Thirsty' is more appropriate, on account of my not having the required -- parts. Any longer." Your skin is warmer than it's ever been, your fingers tingling from the borrowed blood trying to surge through your veins, and you run your hands down Feferi's bare shoulders. Her skin is still seadweller-cold, and colder still for whatever it is the Furthest Ring has put into her. But you know: your body will consume itself from the inside out sooner or later, and very suddenly you don't care about keeping Feferi from her probable rampage.
She coos, for a certain, disturbing value of cooing, and guides your head to her neck. "You're thirsty, Kanaya."
"Don't worry on my account," says Sollux, "seriously, I'm fine way over here, just keep her facing me."
Feferi's skin parts like undercooked meat under your teeth, no matter how gently you try to bite; her blood is thick and corrupt when it hits your tongue, saltwater and rot beneath the sweet. More of the black leaches out of her skin at the exact moment horrortendrils stroke down your back, under your blouse. You squeeze your eyes shut as much against the sensation as the comfort it gives you, and shouldn't. She's drawing you back from the edge, after a fashion -- it's something out of a pale fantasy, but it's battlefield pale, and it will leave you raw and bruised inside before this is over.
You could drink of her all night. She'd let you, you know it, feeling her two hands stroke you between your shoulderblades as the tendrils work lower, and lower, soothing the ache you didn't know you had around the hole in you.
"Oh my god, get a pile," Vriska says, from somewhere behind Feferi. Feferi nearly turns, but you reach up to grab her cheek, keep her head turned toward Sollux.
"Shut up, Serket," Sollux grumbles. You wish you were dignified enough to drag yourself away from Feferi's neck, but what happens instead is a slow, sticky peeling of your flesh from hers where the blood is half-dried and clotted already.
It's Vriska who pulls you away. You have Tyrian purple all down your chin, and she takes the trailing end of your sash and wipes it off -- they match, you think, your mind gone hazy with something very much like pleasure. "Kanaya," she says, "are you in there, shit, this is weird, I shouldn't have walked off, I'm sorry -- "
"You've never done that," you say.
Vriska leads you away from Sollux and Feferi, and when she sits down you go down with her, on your knees and looking down at her. "Done what?"
"Apologized," you say, "to me." You try to glance back to where Sollux and Feferi are standing, but she shakes her head and grabs your chin so you're looking down at her, instead. That you can still appreciate her thin face and sharp cheekbones, the way the asymmetry of her eyes sets your gaze off balance every time, means that you can't possibly be that far gone.
"They're gross, don't look," Vriska says. "Seriously gross. Eugh. Long may she reign o'er the deeps and the stars, I guess."
Against your better judgment, you allow her to guide you down, lying with your head in her garish orange lap. The edge of her boots digs into your shoulder, and you don't care. "Are there tentacles?"
"At least twelve." She makes a gagging noise. "Oh, look, there's another one!"
"Yep. And, hey, I talked to Karkat, they're on their way up, don't you worry your glowy little thinkpan."
"Good," you say. Someone else can deal with Feferi, with Sollux; all you can think of is rest. Vriska's hand rests atop your head, right between your horns, as though she wants to stroke your hair but can't quite make herself. You're glad of it.