Act One; Chapter One
"This is Tholluxth Captor from Curthor Cruitherth, how may I help you."
The voice on the other line is flat and sounded bored. Feferi pulls the receiver from her face for a moment to sigh and take a deep breath.
"Hi! My name is Feferi Peixes, and I just got off the line with your coworker, Karkat Vantas. He said you're better off dealing with the computer that I'm having a problem with?"
"Of courthe he thaid that. What'th the model, then?"
She glances at the laptop in question and rattles off the long winded model name, full of numbers and letters and hyphens. The man on the other line is silent for a while, probably recognizing it as the expensive and high tech model it is. Biting her lip, she fiddles with the hem of her shirt as she waits for Mr Captor to answer.
"...Right. No wonder KK wanted me to take thith. Alright, tho what'th the problem?"
Feferi gives a nervous, sheepish laugh. "Well, we have no idea how to set this thing up! We must have gotten too excited, you see, and rushed head first into these uncharted waters without thinking it through. My partner and I are not too familiar with technology, you see, and..."
Mr Captor sighs. "Yeth, ma'am, I would be happy to drop by and have a look at your computer. It won't be a problem."
"O-Oh!" Feferi gives her own sigh of relief. "Yes, alright, thank you!" She gives him the address of their research building and hangs up.
"O-Ow! Fef, really, do you gotta pull my hair like that, I just fuckin' gelled it like twenty minutes ago!"
"Yes, Eridan! I have to, you've been nothing but a useless guppy lately!"
Pouting, you look at your best friend like she has just disowned you.
"I had to call a computer company, did you know that?" She puts her hands on her hips, somehow looking down at you despite the fact that you easily have half a head on her. "He's coming to see us right now, and you're coming with me!"
"Aww, come on Fef, do I gotta--"
"Yes, Eridan! Come on!"
She makes her adorable-yet-annoying glubbing sounds under her breath, something she does only in your company when she's upset. Your hair is freed from her grip once you start following behind her, albeit dejectedly.
Your name is Eridan Ampora and you are a marine biologist. You're fresh from grad school, some fancy university your parents paid for, and if you're honest you're not entirely sure what you're doing. You graduated with one of the highest grade averages in your class, along with your devoted research partner and best friend, Feferi Peixes, and yet you have no idea what to do.
The mysteries of the ocean are what attracted you to this job. It all seemed so magical, the way fish seemed to have their own culture and system of functioning, but you knew there had to be a science behind this. And, of course, you were right.
Graduating didn't change the fact that you are absolute shit with computers.
There's a knock at the front door. Feferi exclaims an especially loud "glub!" and hurries to answer it. You move to follow her yet again, shuffling your feet and refusing to seem the least bit appreciative of her help.
The man who answers the door is taller than you. He wears a pair of round shades and he seems to slump a little bit. Despite the fact that you can't see his expression behind his sunglasses, he gives off this irritating aura of being extremely bored. And he hasn't even stepped through the front door.
That fact changes once he sets eyes on your best friend. You suppress the urge to growl in the back of your throat as he straightens up.
"Hi, I'm Tholluxth Captor," he says, and his lisp grates on your nerves, "Are you Mith Peixeth?"
Feferi giggles as if his lisp is the cutest thing she's ever heard. You really want to slam the door in his face and attempt, for the fifth or sixth time, to understand your new high tech computer instead of having to deal with this guy.
"Yes, I am! It's nice to meet you, Mr Captor!"
"Tholluxth ith good, Mith."
She giggles again. "Sollux, then!" As she opens the door to let him in, she turns to face you. For a brief moment her face hardens into a glare, telling you to act on your best behavior. You grumble under your breath and straighten up as well.
"This is Eridan, my lab partner!" she gestures to you with both hands. When she glances at you again, that glare is back, a bit of a strain to her voice as she continues, "And we're both very excited to have you over to help us with our computer!"
"Yeah," you say, trying to force a smile to placate her, "She was gettin' worried that maybe I'd break the fuckin' thing, but she obviously doesn't have enough faith in me." That earns you a full out glare, but you don't care. "In any case, it'd probably be faster to have a tech lackey like you to look at it, an' it isn't like we don't have the money to do it, so I guess it's not so bad."
Feferi laughs nervously, putting a hand on Sollux's shoulder to steer him further into the lab, hoping to move past you without much difficulty.
"I'm sorry about my partner, he must be in a bad mood right now," she says, laughing again. You hate the way it sounds so forced, but you hate the fact that she's trying to suck up to this techie even more. "I'll just show you to our computer so you can get started right away!"
As he passes by, Sollux just quirks a brow at you. "It'th alright, ma'am. I've handled worthe. It'th a pleathure to meet you, by the way."
Feferi's giggle follows her down the hall. "Pleasure's all mine, Sollux. Now let's have a look, shall we?"
You ball your hands into fists at your sides. He's just some computer tech, you tell yourself, and he'll be out of your hair once your computer's set up and ready to go.
You're in the kitchen-esque room of your research room when "Tholluxth" and your best friend come in, smiling like two goddamn chums.
"There you are, Eridan!" she looks much happier with you than she did earlier. You smile back at her despite yourself. "Come on, I want you to see what Sollux did with our computer! Everything's running as smooth as a current!"
"It'th all part of the job, Mith."
"That's Feferi, Sollux! If I get to call you by your first name, you get to call me by mine!"
The goddamn tech smiles, a faint blush rising to his cheeks. You really want to punch him now, but you suppress the urge by gripping the table as you stand up. It wobbles under your hold, but you pay it no heed as you move to stand between your best friend and this stranger.
"An' it ain't like you know my last name, so I guess we're all on first name basis, hmm?" You sneer at Sollux. "So it's Sollux, right?"
You feel Feferi take your hand and squeeze painfully, but you stare up at Sollux, expecting him to glare back.
Much to your chagrin, the man merely shrugs and says, "Yeth, I'm okay with that."
Scowling, you shake Feferi's hand off and march ahead to the lab room. "Fine, alright, good. Wouldn't want any sorta animosity between us."
You throw your head over your shoulder to check if he's glaring at you like he should, but he's talking to Feferi again and smiling.
You slam the door open instead of running back and punching the guy in the face. You think it might knock his teeth out and fix that stupid lisp, but hey, getting blood on your good clothes would be fuckin' unconscionable, wouldn't it?
When Sollux leaves, Feferi sighs and leans against the door, wearing a dopey smile. You pout and hang around in the foyer with her, hands in your pockets.
"I have a date with him on Friday," she says. You can't decide if her her dreamy tone annoys you more than the actual words that came out of her beautiful mouth.
"That was quick," you reply, refusing to look up from the ground. "Good on ya, I guess."
"Shoosh, you!" she walks up to you smiling, taking your hand and trying to move you along with her happy dance. "He saved both of us, you know. God only knows what would have happened with that expensive computer if he hadn't come."
"Coulda just bought a new one." You sigh, but eventually begin to move with her, going through the familar moves of a simple waltz. You vaguely remember the classes your parents made you take - and you're sure she only remembers so much, as well - but Feferi always tugs you into this routine when she's especially pleased.
"Yeah, but what's the point of that?" She hums and continues, allowing you to spin her around. "We may have the money, Eridan, but one day we'll have to learn to swim without it."
"One day," you echo.
Act One; Chapter Two
It's four in the afternoon on Friday when Feferi shows up on her best friend's doorstep. Eridan looks surprised to see her, but pleasantly so.
"So you backed out on your date today, hmm?" He asks, not bothering to hide his pleased and smug expression. Feferi rolls her eyes and steps into his home once there's enough room in the doorway.
"He asked me to bring someone," she says, tugging on her hair a bit, "He's bringing his best friend, some girl named Aradia, and wants me to bring someone, too."
"Oh," Eridan says. He's sitting on a small end table in his foyer, watching her pace and glub back and forth. "So he chickened out, then?"
"I don't know, I guess so," she replies, the words coming out in a rush, "What else could it be? Maybe he's not interested? Oh god, what if this is just some pity thing because he doesn't want to outright reject me and--"
Eridan walks up to her and puts a hand on her shoulder, patting it softly. "Shoosh. Don't worry, Fef, I'm sure he's just fuckin' scared or somethin'. Your beauty an' status can be a bit intimidatin', you know."
"Glub." Feferi stares at her shoes, frowning. "I guess so."
She leans into Eridan's touch for a moment before looking up at him. "So you'll come?"
"Stop panicking, Sollux! She said yes, didn't she?"
You nod, frowning. "Yeth, thhe did."
"And she sounded enthusiastic about it, right?"
"Uh." How are you supposed to know that? "I guethh tho?"
Your name is Sollux Captor and you are fucked. You work for Cursor Cruisers under technical support, which is another way of saying you answer the phone and help stupid people who don't understand technology. Every now and then you do get a kind customer, but over the course of your employment you've had to deal with frustrated and angry customers who all but yell in your ears. But that's okay, you're okay with that now.
Sometimes you have bipolar tendencies, but your best friend, Aradia Megido, has been helping you with that a lot. You've had numerous angry and depressing episodes in the past, but that's all behind you now. It doesn't really help that you also have heterochromia which makes you a bit of a freak, but you're over that, too. You're okay with everything now.
Except for this. A few hours ago you called up your would-be date, Feferi Peixes, and told her that you wanted to make this meeting more casual and that you're bringing your friend Aradia along.
The truth is that Aradia insisted on coming to make sure this didn't end up badly. And while you're being honest, you appreciate her persistence. You're not entirely sure if you had the confidence to go through with this. Feferi is too pretty for you, too nice for you, too good for you, too--
"Sollux!" You stand up straight and turn to look at Aradia. "Are you thinking self-deprecating thoughts? Stop thinking self-deprecating thoughts!"
You sigh and lean against her, looking over the top of your shades to shoot her a sad look. "AA, how can you leave me? It'th only thankth to you that I haven't killed mythelf by now."
The girl falls silent. Chewing the inside of her cheek, she draws an arm around your shoulders and gives you a squeeze. "It'll only be for a while, Sollux. I can't miss this opporunity, you know. It's going to be a really important expedition, and--"
"Yeth, yeth, I know."
Her frown deepens and she squeezes you again. "You'll always have Karkat."
You snort and wiggle out of her grip, moving to lean against your kitchen counter. "That'th contholing. If I ever feel like having my ear yelled off inthtead of hearing the words I need to, I'll go and talk to KK."
Aradia smiles despite herself. "Oh, shoosh, you. He's helpful and you know it. You're not alone, you know. Everything's alright."
You nod. And if all else fails, you still have your depression meds, just in case.
Aradia stands up and pulls on her coat. "Now come on, you have a date to keep. Let's go!"
The two of you get to the cafe early, just to be safe, and take a table near the window. You're cradling a large coffee in your hand as Feferi and that Eridan guy from the other day walk in.
Aradia quirks a brow once she lays eyes on Eridan. "Who the hell is that and what the hell is he wearing?"
"It'th her lab partner," you reply, putting down your coffee to wave her over. Her face lights up in a smile and you feel your heart melt just a little bit. "Guetth they're clother than I thought."
"Hi, Sollux!" She moves to sit in a chair across from you at your table. She nods to Aradia and says, "You must be Aradia. It's so exciting to meet you!"
Aradia smiles back. "You too. And this is...?"
"Eridan," the man says as he takes a seat next to Feferi. He sits close to her, protective. "Fef's lab partner and best friend."
You lift your eyebrows. "That'th a cute nickname."
Feferi laughs. "He has a habit if giving people short nicknames."
"You're one to talk, Sollux," Aradia smiles wryly at him before saying to Feferi, "He shortens peoples' names to two letters. I'm AA, and a friend of ours, Karkat, is KK. He likes things in doubles."
You smile nervously. "It'th true. Thith ith a double double." You motion to your coffee.
"Nice shades," Eridan comments, leaning against the window and looking as nonchalant as possible. In the end, you think he's trying way to hard. You vaguely wonder why he even bothers, but wave the thought away as he continues, "But last time I checked, it's been fuckin' cloudy all day."
You shrink into your seat a bit and push up your sunglasses. Under the table, you feel Aradia put a comforting hand on your knee.
"Sensitive eyes," she says for you, "It's been better lately, but you know how it is with glasses. Once you start wearing them regularly, it feels odd to go without them. You'd know, right? You wear glasses, Eridan."
The man mimicks you and moves away from the table a fraction. He mumbles an agreement before standing up. "I'm gettin' a cafe latte. Do you want your usual, Fef?"
Ever since Eridan brought it up, Feferi has been staring at your eyes, trying to get a better look at them from behind your shades without trying to be too obvious about it. Eridan has to call her name one more time to catch her attention.
"Huh? Oh, yeah, sure," she reluctantly moves her eyes from yours to look up at Eridan. It's a lot easier to breathe that way, you find. "Earl grey tea with milk and sugar."
Once Eridan is at the counter, you touch the frames of your glasses and say, "If, uh, if you wanna thee them, I can thhow you..."
Aradia turns to look at you, a bit alarmed. You flick your eyes to give her a brief look, telling her to remain calm.
Feferi nods, a little too eager. She catches her enthusiasm and reins it in, laughing nervously. "Yes, I would like that. If you don't mind, I mean."
You inhale quietly, slowly, before removing your glasses. You can still feel the contact in your left eye, thank god, as you hold her steady gaze.
"Oh, wow," she says, "I-- I see. That's interesting."
You drop her gaze and look at the table. Great, now she thinks you're a freak. You slip your glasses back on as she begins to splutter.
"N-Not that I think it's fishy or anything! They look nice, you have nice eyes," she says as a blush begins to settle in her cheeks.
You manage a half smile. "Thank you."
From the corner of your eye, you can see Aradia wearing a relieved smile. She turns to you and her smile widens.
It's been going pretty well, yeah.
Eridan comes back with two steaming cups. "Coffee's not so bad here," he states, "So I guess you guys do have some class after all."
"I'm glad you think so," Aradia says, frowning a bit.
"Eridan!" Feferi squeaks. She leans into his shoulder and whispers frantically at him.
While Feferi talks to Eridan, you bet she's probably scolding him, the man glares at you. It doesn't really look like he's paying attention. You stare back, face blank. What's his problem?
"He really doesn't like us, does he," Aradia says under her breath. You shrug.
"Maybe he wantth to be more than "jutht friendth" with her," you reply, watching as Eridan is forced to look at Feferi again with an angry flick of the woman's wrist.
Eventually, Eridan is brought to silence and sips sulkily at his coffee. Every now and then you can feel his gaze move to look at you, but it's not as intense as before. It's a bit bothersome, but for some reason it's not as bad as you would expect it to be.
Maybe it's because he has no idea who you are, besides a rival for Feferi's affection. And you're okay with that, really, because from the looks of it, she won't be leaning in Eridan's favor any time soon.
When Feferi stands abruptly, your stomach falls. Eridan shoves his hands in his pockets and goes for the door. It seems he has forgotten you for now.
"I'm sorry about him," she says, her brows knit together. "I'm going to take care of that right now, actually--"
"It'th fine," you say in a hurry, desperate to keep her here longer, "I don't care about him, it'th totally okay, I'm okay with thith--"
"Well, I'm not okay with him," she snaps. You fall silent, watching her face tighten. "And-- I really didn't need you to see that. Normally he's not this bad, but..."
She stares at the door. Eridan's gone already.
"I'm really, really sorry about him," Feferi apologizes again. Her tea has barely been touched, you note. "I just-- don't want to mess this up."
That gets your heart going. Blood rushes to your face and you smile widely. She glances at you one more time before heading for the door and she smiles back.
"Bye, FF!" you call to her as she opens the door. You hear her laugh as she calls her own goodbye over her shoulder.
Aradia reaches over to Feferi's drink and grabs it. "You think I can drink this?"
You lift a brow at her. "Thure, why not?"
Your best friend shrugs and takes a sip. By the way she pauses to taste it before shrugging and drinking more, you figure it must be fine.
"That guy kinda sucked," she says after a few gulps of tea.
"You're telling me."
"It looked like he wanted to burn holes into you with his eyes."
"Yeah, I got that, thankth, AA." You roll your eyes and finish your coffee. You keep the cup nearby so you can enjoy the lingering aroma.
She sighs. "I hope he doesn't try anything funny. She looked really upset."
You hum in agreement. "I can't believe it, though. Thhe'th tho..." There really aren't any words to describe this girl. You smile a wide and embarrassingly dreamy smile. "I don't know."
Laughing, Aradia ruffles your hair. "Yeah. You two are cute together." She finishes the tea with a satisfied sigh. "She can take care of you while I'm gone, I bet."
As soon as Aradia finishes that sentence, you feel your stomach sink again. "Oh, god. When thhe figureth out what a freak I am, thhe'll leave and I'll have no one but KK and--"
Aradia pats your shoulder and makes a shushing noise. "Quiet, you. You'll be fine, everything will be okay." She stands and grabs her coat and bag. "Now let's get home, I still have some packing to do and I'm sure you want to sulk some more."
You grunt and gather up your belongings as well. "Fine, whatever."
Act One, Chapter Three
Your name is Eridan Ampora and you are drunk as hell.
It's been ages since you've been back to your flat downtown. You've spent the last few months hanging around the lab and Fef's place. You kind of really sort of hate this place, especially because it reminds you of how goddamn lonely you are.
You were sent here with your tail between your legs after being told off by Feferi. You were this close to telling her how you really felt, maybe to help change your mind, but she really didn't look like talking to you. She looked more like she wanted to tie you to a huge rock and throw you down a waterfall.
When you were younger, you never really had to deal with this sort of jealousy. Your parents and her parents were strict about who the both of you interacted with; people of your status aren't supposed to talk to commoners. While you are aware that Feferi was never happy with this, you can't deny the fact that you were immensely pleased with the fact that you got her all to yourself.
The grip your parents had on the both of you loosened as you got older, but it didn't change the fact that you were both offspring of ridiculously wealthy and powerful people. Most people knew to stay away from you, and still do, for the most part. In your case, it's probably because you are a huge asshole and you really don't deserve anyone's affection. For Feferi, it's probably because her mother would kill anyone who would try to hurt her.
Stumbling through your flat, you drop your keys somewhere on the floor and head towards your couch and collapse onto it.
This is all that stupid Sollux's fault. He just waltzes right into your lives and sweeps your Fef off her feet with his stupid lisp and his stupid eggheadedness. You slam your fist into a couch cushion and growl. He's just some guy working a fuckin' entry level job, what makes him so fuckin' great?
You dig through your pockets in search of your cell phone. Although you are proud of your large and colorful wardrobe, it definitely makes your search a lot harder. You can't remember why the fuck you have so many coddamn pockets.
When you finally find the thing, you search through your contacts. Feferi, of course, is at the top of the list. You pass by Vriska's name, your parents' names, and find another good friend of yours. Your fingers hesitate for a moment; would it really be a good idea to bug her with your problems, especially considering the fact that your last interaction involved your car crashing into hers?
Your drunken mind tells you to fuck it and call anyway.
"Eridan, give me five reasons as to why I should not hang up right now."
"Kan, just hear me out."
She pauses. "Fantastic, you are also intoxicated. That explains why you are calling me at this moment." Kanaya sighs and for a few moments, all you hear is the static from the other line.
"Alright, I'm listening. What's wrong?"
"Fef met this fuckin' techie an' is practically in love with him," you whine, "I just treated him like I woulda treated anyone an' she fuckin' bit my head off. I'm in my stupid tiny flat an' it sucks an' I'm so fuckin' lonely, Kan."
"I assume that means you acted hostile towards him? That includes being condescending and, to be frank, a total ass?"
You are so close to sobbing. "I dunno! I-I guess, I mean-- he's just a fuckin' nobody, he doesn't deserve Fef an' all her fuckin' fawnin'--"
Kanaya sighs loudly, cutting you off. "Eridan, please. You are not one to judge what this man deserves and what he does not. From what I'm hearing, I doubt you know anything about him. Have you forgotten that I, as well, am merely a commoner in comparison to you? And yet here you are, speaking to me."
"Yeah, but you're different, Kan! And you're definitely higher than some guy who works a fuckin' minimum wage job."
"Eridan... Do you remember what I said to you in regards to class?"
"That higher is fuckin' better?"
Kanaya sighs, though it sounds very close to a growl. "Eridan, I am very close to ending this call and closing my phone."
Frowning, you take some time to think about that question. It was probably something about looking over someone's status and seeing them as a person rather than a title. It was fuckin' stupid is what it was, but you're desperate here.
"Okay, fine! Did you say somethin' about how it doesn't matter?"
"Yes, Eridan. Now, are you aware of any way of applying my previous words to your current situation?"
Not really, no. The guy's still an asshole for trying to take your girl. "Uh... No?"
For the umpteenth time, the woman on the other line sighs. "Will you at least tell me who Feferi is so interested in?"
"Some chump named Sollux," you mumble, "Or 'Tholluxth'. The guy has a fuckin' annoyin' lisp."
Kanaya goes quiet for a while. "Oh. I see."
"What? Do you know him or somethin'?"
"Uh. I need to go now. Goodbye, Eridan."
"What? W-Wait, Kan, don't go!"
All you get in response is the tone of the dead line. You groan and slump further onto the couch. For a moment, you contemplate calling Feferi to try and apologize, but you dismiss the thought.
You suppose you'll just turn the television on and hope sleep will claim you soon.
When you wake up the next morning, you have five text messages and three new messages in your voice mail. They're all from Feferi. As soon as you gather your wits, you call her back.
"Fef? Fef, I'm so sorry, I've been such a ass lately an' I'm sorry for missin' your calls, I was sleepin', an'--"
"Shoosh, Eridan. Shoosh. It's alright. Everything's okay."
"Really?" You sit up staighter, a grin spreading across your face. "I know I was bein' a real ass to you, but I'll make it up to you, I promise!"
Feferi goes quiet. "Reely?" She says this slowly, as if she's being careful about her words. "I talked to Sollux on the phone after you left..."
Oh. Your chest deflates and your smile falls right off.
"...And that made me feel a lot better. He's okay with everything, and I guess I'm okay with it, too."
"A-Ah." You can't really think of much else to say. "That's... That's great. Awesome."
She sighs dreamily. "Yeah, he is."
"What'd he say?"
"Oh, he just said that he didn't care about what you did or said." Fuckin' son of a bitch-- "And that he was more concerned about me being in ship shape."
Now all you want to do is hang up. You mumble under your breath, "Wow, he sounds like a real fuckin' catch."
"Glub! Come on, Eridan, don't be so sullen! He's not stealing me away from you, don't worry. Even if I do get mad at you sometimes, I'll always be your best friend! No one can take that away from us."
Despite her words, you don't feel any better. You guess that deep down, in the back of your mind, you've always known that the two of you weren't meant to be any more than just friends. It still hurts, nonetheless.
"Yeah. Thanks, Fef. You're amazin'."
She giggles. "Oh, stop it. Now, before I forget, the reason I was so desperate to get in touch with you is..."
You zone out a bit as she explains your next research project. You're due somewhere off the east coast two days from now, something, something...
Your heart is sinking to the floor even though things have been mended. You pull your knees close to your chest as she continues to talk. You say the right monosyllabic responses at the right time, and she glubs excitedly about the fauna you'll see. Right now you can't seem to muster the same excitement, but you nod and hum along anyway.
Hopefully work will be a good distraction from the pain you feel building in your chest.
Act One, Chapter Four
For the past few weeks, all you've been hearing is Sollux this, Sollux that. It's been grating on your nerves, but you already know the consequence of complaining. Fef does allow you a few complaints every now and then, but in the end she always tells you to stop carping and get back to work.
greetins its your superior talkin gracin your pathetic existence wwith some wwords
"Huh, I knew something was fishy about the weight in my pockets. I can't believe I forgot this!" she says, eyes bright and beautiful as usual.
As you open the boxes, you open your mouth to talk to her, ask her about the lines in the restaurant, the drive there and back, but when you look up she's tapping away at her phone with a huge smile on her face. You swallow the lump that's formed in your throat and close your mouth, returning to your task of going through the food.
You can't believe you're having small talk with this guy, but then again, he was one of the only guys who put up with you in school. You return his wry smile with one of your own.
"So what're you up to nowadays, Kar?" The nickname is vaguely familiar on your tongue; you wonder why Karkat's number isn't on your cell (to add to your pathetic and meager list).
Karkat makes a curious mix between an amused and disgusted expression when he hears that nickname again. You think (hope) you're wrong about that disgusted part.
"Been good," he replies, pausing to take a sip of his coffee, "Moved in with Terezi, working some shitty job so she can establish her law firm. She's been tossed around between partners, but i think she's more interested in starting her own firm."
"So you're gonna mooch off'a your girlfriend, hmm?" you smirk at him when his lips set into that familiar scowl. "Movin' up in life there, Kar."
His eyebrows twitch before drawing together. There we go, you think, now he looks just like he should. Extremely pissed at nothing in particular.
"What the fuck are you doing, then, Mr Rich and Spoiled boy? Still chasing after the girl who can only think of you as a brother she wished she never had?"
"Workin' at a research lab with Fef. An' all by myself, believe it or not, I went through the fuckin' interview an' everythin'. I'm a huge credit to the team, one a the most qualified marine biologists they could've ever hoped'a findin'," you reply, still smirking. Karkat rolls his eyes as he gulps down his drink.
"Right, right. Remind me why you're walking around the world of us commoners, then. That desperate for a fucking cup of coffee?" He huffs and looks away. He's avoiding looking at you, avoiding your huge, smug smirk. You lean back farther into your seat.
"I figure I oughta grace you guys with my presence every now an' then." You lower your voice a bit, softening that harsh smugness in hopes of getting your message across once you speak again, "Besides, I ended up findin' you here, didn't I? I'm pretty fuckin' glad to see you, Kar."
Your companion grumbles and finishes off his drink, tipping the cup and his head back as far as possible. When he looks back at you that wry smile is back, but despite the caffeine you're sure is running through his system, he looks tired.
"Yeah, same here. I have a feeling we'll be seeing each other more often from now on." He drums his fingers against his now empty cup. His eyes wander; he probably has places to go, people to talk to that are more important than you. Your heart sinks just a little, but you try to shake the feeling off; he said he'd be seeing you more often, didn't he?
You lean over the table, hoping to catch his attention one more time before he decides to abscond. "Well, if you feel that way, why don't you give me your number?"
He smirks. "Now that I have a girlfriend, hearing that fucking question from you doesn't make me so fucking nervous." Karkat pulls a business card from his pocket and scribbles on the back.
Scowling slightly, you feel the beginning of a blush crawl onto your face. "Shut up, Kar. That was school an' I was a desperate little guppy."
"Ooh, ouch." His smirk widens as he holds out the card to you. "Still with the fish puns, though, hmm? I think someone's a little fucking--" He stops and flicks his wrist, making a whipped sound. You all but growl at him and he laughs.
"Here. I gotta get home now, now that I can actually fucking drive." He stands, leaving the card face down on the table. "I'll see you later, Eridan."
The door chimes as he leaves the shop.
You take the card and look over the number, seeing as you'd left your phone at home. As you drain the rest of your coffee, you flip the card over to see the other side. It's his card as an employee of... Well, fuck. Cursor Cruisers, the same place that fuckin' bastard Captor works. No wonder he bothered to actually talk to you, he's probably blabbing to that nerd right now!
You crumple the card in your hand, but pocket it anyway. Whatever, Karkat isn't a big enough asshole to bother you with THAT. Probably.
With a huge scowl on your face, you return to your tiny flat and collapse into bed. Not without throwing your phone onto the floor first, of course.
HEY, FUCKASS. I TALKED TO YOUR LITTLE PROBLEM YESTERDAY.
oh really? how diid that happen?
RAN INTO HIM AT THE COFFEE SHOP. THE ONE I LIKE, NOT YOUR SHITTY QUAINT ASS CAFE.
and? ii faiil two 2ee your poiint here, kk.
YOU NEED TO GET ON HIS GOOD SIDE, YEAH? I THINK I MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP YOU WITH THAT.
alriight, ii'm lii2teniing.
GOOD, I HAVE SOME PRETTY FUCKING VALUABLE THINGS TO SAY. FIRST OFF, YOU KNOW HE'S IN LOVE WITH HER, RIGHT?
of course ii do, ii'm not an iidiiot.
YEAH, SURE, WHATEVER YOU SAY. ANYWAY, I THINK THE KEY HERE IS TO DISTRACT HIM FROM THE FACT THAT YOU'RE STEALING HIS GIRL. I HATE TO SAY IT, FUCKASS, BUT I THINK THE BEST OPTION YOU HAVE HERE IS TO SUCK UP TO HIM. OFFER TO BE HIS "FRIEND", THE GUY IS REALLY FUCKING LONELY.
ii fiigured that much, kk. the guy'2 an a22hole, who the fuck would be wiilliing two spend tiime with hiim?
THAT'S NOT THE FUCKING POINT. YOU'LL HAVE TO BE THE ONE WILLING TO SPEND TIME WITH THE DOUCHEBAG IF YOU ACTUALLY WANT HIM TO LIKE YOU.
fuck. ii'm really 2tartiing two doubt iit'2 worth the effort.
IT'S UP TO YOU, I GUESS. IF HE HASN'T CHANGED-- NO, I'M SURE HE HASN'T. HE'LL KEEP BOTHERING YOU UNTIL YOU GIVE IN TO HIM OR GIVE UP ON THIS GIRL. IF YOU REALLY FUCKING WANT HER, YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO GET ON HIS GOOD SIDE, OR THE PROBLEM'S GONNA BLOW WAY OUT OF FUCKING PROPORTION AND INTO YOUR FUCKING DUMBASS FACE.
...fiine. ii'll try harder or 2omethiing. he 2tiill ha2n't repliied two my text.
YEAH, JUST GIVE IT SOME TIME. HE'S GONNA NEED TO LOOK AT HIS PHONE AT ONE POINT AND THEN HE'LL SEE THE TEXT.
YEAH, YEAH. YOU BETTER BE GRATEFUL, YOU LITTLE SHIT. ALL I'VE BEEN HEARING FROM YOU LATELY IS YOUR SAPPY SHIT ABOUT THIS FUCKING FEFERI GIRL. SHE BETTER BE WORTH IT.
2he ii2. 2he's amaziing, ii 2tiill can't beliieve 2he'2 actually iintere2ted iin me.
HOLY FLYING FUCK, LOOK AT ALL THE FUCKS I GIVE. OH WAIT, THERE ARE NONE. NOW FUCK OFF, LOVERBOY, I GOT A CALL TO TAKE. BACK TO WORK AT THIS SHITTY ASS JOB FOR THIS SHITTY ASS PAY.
You close your cell phone with a sigh.
Your name is Sollux Captor and, as usual, you're fucked. Feferi has really got you in deep, though you can't say you regret any of it. Unfortunately for you, Feferi comes along with her own little guard dog. You really wish you could just kick him off a cliff so you can continue in peace, but that won't go down well with FF. You've already seen a taste of her when she's upset at the smug bastard.
It's two in the afternoon and you are at work. Your coworker and childhood friend, Karkat, is just a few desks down, dealing with a customer on the phone. This business is small, and if you wanted, you could work anywhere you want, but here you are, waiting on some idiot's beck and call.
For the umpteenth time today, you look at your phone. Nothing. It's only been a day, but the issue has been eating away at you. What if you run into her while she's with him? Maybe she'd just avoid you completely. Whatever the case will be, it doesn't look good.
You rub your eyes and you feel the contact in your left eye shift. Might as well kill some time doing something useful.
One of the benefits of having this job is the fact that you get to tinker with their computers for free. You've been coding little things, and every now and then you do some work for other people. You set up websites and handle networking when you figure the pay is good enough.
You're coding a music playing program for an artist when you finally get a text from Eridan.
fine i might consider your little idea of a fuckin truce
Relief washes over you as you open your phone to reply.
iit ju2t mean2 that we won't be total a22e2 two each other so ff doe2n't have two suffer.
fine wwhatevver i still dont like you an i nevver wwill
You can already feel a headache coming on and you haven't even exchanged two texts with him. He says he'll agree to the truce but it doesn't seem like he's being sincere at all. You grit your teeth. He's not getting rid of you that easily.
ii2 there any way ii can change your miind?
hmm i dunno you gotta do a lotta ass kissin to do that
at lea2t you're hone2t. fiine, ii'll take you out tomorrow, maybe ii can show you how ii managed to get ff "2o ob2e22ed".
asshole fine dinner at eight tomorroww night dont be fuckin late or ill make your life a livvin hell
Eridan sends you the address to a restaurant that you actually recognize. It's not too fancy; you're sure you can afford dinner, and probably to pay for him, as well.
You leave him alone after that; you have a lot of preparing to do, and you really don't want to overdose on the guy's stupidity too soon. It went well, at least. But in all twenty-six years of your life you've never thought that you'd have to woo two people at once.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Act One, Chapter Five
Your best friend emerges from her room, now mostly empty, with a bag slung around her shoulders and one on wheels by her side. She has such a wide smile on her face that you think it could compensate for the sadness eating away at you. You try to return it when she lays her eyes on you, but you just can't; instead, you bite the inside of your cheek to stop the sobs building in your chest.
Aradia recognizes that look. Of course she does, she's known you for years, but that fact doesn't stop you from turning away from her when she comes over to pat your knee, your shoulder.
"Come on, Sollux, it'll be okay," she says lowly, her hands rubbing a soothing pattern into your back, "I'll be back before you know it. I'll have souvenirs for you and everything, and it'll be amazing. Everything will be okay."
You can't form words right now. You stare at the floor and open your mouth, try to work your throat so that intelligible sounds come out. All that results from your efforts is a choked sob. You shut your mouth so fast your teeth click.
You need a fucking drink.
You move to stand, losing your best friend's comforting touch, but you suppose you better get used to it. You can't remember the last time you've bothered with alcohol, but with your "date" coming up tonight, you really think you could use it.
"Sollux? Sollux, what are you doing?" Aradia's eyes follow your back as you stick your head into the fridge. You sift through the contents - normal, everyday stuff like eggs and milk - and find nothing. Her eyes continue to follow you as you move to look through the cupboards.
Luckily, after a few more minutues of searching, you find a bottle of red wine. A part of you wishes that blue wine existed to accompany this.
"Oh." Aradia's voice is quiet, and you can hear her clothes rustle as she approaches you. You don't bother turning around, and you won't until you get at least a sip of this shit.
Before you can down any of the alcohol, you feel your best friend's arms wrap around your middle.
"Sollux, please." Her voice is cracking. "Just say something."
You fight to find your voice. You swallow the lump that had formed in your throat the moment she walked out of her room and try to fulfill her request.
"AA," you manage. She moves so that her chin rests on your shoulder. "I'll mitth you a whole fucking lot." You pause and take a deep breath. "But you better have fun, you hear me?"
Aradia nods. "Yes, of course! I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't think I could ever not have fun on this excursion." She hugs you tighter, burying her face into your shoulder. "But I'll miss you too. I promise I'll email you whenever I can. Maybe we'll even be on pesterchum at the same time every once in a while."
"That'd be nithe, yeah." Carefully, you remove her arms from your torso. You turn around so you can return her embrace.
"I love you, you know," she mumbles into your shirt.
"Love you too, AA," you reply.
You're both crying; you can feel her tears through your shirt, and your own tears stream down your face and smudge your sunglasses. A sob vibrates through her chest and you hug her tighter.
When she pulls away, you hesitantly reach up and push some of her wild, long hair out of her face. She smiles, and the expression looks odd when her cheeks are stained with tears.
"I'll see you in three months, then, Sollux." Her hands find yours and give them a squeeze. You squeeze them back.
"Thee you, AA." You exchange another quick hug. "Aradia," you correct yourself after a moment.
Your best friend smiles again. "It's been a while since I've heard that from your mouth," she says as she takes your hand and goes over to grab her stuff. "Now come on, you're driving me to the airport."
"You're welcome, asshole," Karkat spits at you as you step out of his car. He rolls down your window before you can leave, catching your attention. "I know she's gonna be gone for a while, but don't you think it's kinda fucking early to be fucking drunk?"
"What ith it to you, KK?" You glare at him from behind your sunglasses. "I'm not thtaggering or anything. But thankth for the ride."
"Yeah, yeah." Karkat maintains your gaze for a while, but looks away to glance at the restaurant behind you. "Are you sure you still wanna go? I mean, can't you fucking reschedule or something?"
You laugh, though it sounds more like a bark than anything. "You honethtly think the bathtard would let me get away with flaking out?" Karkat deflates in defeat. "Yeah, didn't think tho."
Just as you turn to leave, you hear Karkat speak once more.
"Good luck," he says, not bothering to mask his concern in his usual gruff tone. You throw a wave over your shoulder.
"Already thaid thankth, KK. Thee you later."
And with that, you hear the car roll away. You stop in your tracks and take a deep, shuddering breath. You're not entirely sure why you're doing this; if you're honest, you doubt you can manage to sway Eridan and bring him to your side. Then again, yelling and arguing at some fucking asshole might make for a good distraction.
You check your watch. It's about five to eight, so you have a bit of time to prep yourself.
The night before, Aradia had helped you pick out an outfit for tonight. Even though the restaurant's not too fancy or anything, she said it would help if you looked like you at least tried to look nice. It would help make a good impression, she said. You followed along because you can't really say no to your best friend, especially when she was leaving the next day.
You step into the restaurant in dark jeans and a sweater over a blue button up shirt. The sweater is, of course, red, so at least she let you wear something you liked. Normally you wouldn't bother with the button up shirt, but she insisted you would look good. You really can't say if you do or not, but you hope so.
The hostess leads you to a table once you tell her of your reservation. You booked it last night, just in case. It's Friday night, and the place does look a bit busy. You're glad for it.
"Not too shabby, asshole."
You bite back a growl, but you do allow yourself a scowl. You aim it at the smug bastard who is now walking with you to your table.
He's wearing a t shirt under a blazer with purple lapels, along with a matching purple scarf and dark jeans. With a quick glance down, you also determine that he's wearing purple shoes to match. Where the fuck does this guy get his clothes?
"Aren't you a bit old to be drething like that?" you ask as you slide into your seat. They have reserved a booth for the two of you, it seems.
Eridan prickles. "No," he spits, "What the fuck do you take me for? I ain't some old fart or anythin'."
You snort. "You look like a fucking teenager thtill trying to find himthelf," you state, leaning back in your seat. The menu sits in front of you, as well as Eridan's, untouched. "How old are you, anyway?"
"Twenty six, thanks," he replies. "What about you, are you fuckin' thirty two or somethin'?"
It's only now that you notice his odd accent. He likes to enunciate his "w"s and "v"s, and never really bothers with that last g in "ing" words. It's a bit comforting, actually; at least you're not the only one with an eccentric speech pattern.
You shake your head, smiling wryly at your thoughts. Eridan sends you a slightly questioning stare.
"You're real fuckin' strange, Captor," he says, more to himself than anything. "You gonna answer my question or not?"
"Anthwer," you repeat, smirking. "You don't have to pronounthe the "w" in that, you know."
The man across from you seethes. "Whatever. You can't even say a fuckin' "s" sound, so you shouldn't talk." Eridan emphasizes his "s"s in his response and for once you couldn't care less.
"Right." You finally open your menu, smiling the smile of someone who isn't entirely sober. "I'm twenty thixth ath well, tho if you thought I wath going fucking thenile on you, I'm afraid you'll have to hold your breath a while longer."
His scowl is visible in his eyes that you can just over the top of his menu. "Yeah, yeah, whatever. It's a fuckin' tragedy that I even know you, an' that you'll be in my fuckin' life as long as you're with Fef. Real fuckin' miserable thought, Captor, you're hurtin' me so."
"I'm tho thorry. It'th not my fault you didn't take her before I could get on the thcene."
You can practically feel his indignant bristle from across the table. It takes a lot of effort not to burst out laughing.
He slams his menu down and leans over the table. "Jesus fuckin' H. Christ, Captor, give me a good fuckin' reason why I shouldn't just leave now."
Slowly, calmly, you set your menu down and smile widely at Eridan. He recoils. "Well, ED, you are the one who agreed to our truthe. Do you want FF to be pitthed at you becauthe we can't get along? It'th like you're fucking programmed to hate me, and you theem like you're an athhole twenty four theven anyway-"
"Captor, this ain't helpin' your case at all-"
You lean forward as well, lifting a brow and looking at him over the top of your sunglasses.
"You haven't left yet."
He shakes his head and stares at your eyes. You shift in your seat; you'd almost forgotten about your freak eyes. Biting the inside of your cheek, you slide back a bit, but not enough to make it look like you're backing down.
"Exthactly. Dethpite the fact that we obviouthly aren't gonna like each other right away, you're thmart enough to thee that thith wath a good idea."
Eridan scowls at you, but it's small and defeated. In return you raise both of your eyebrows and adjust your sunglasses, pushing them up higher.
"Fine," he snaps. "This is gonna be a long an' bumpy ride, Captor, you'll fuckin' see. You better be sure it's fuckin' worth it."
You shrug and return to your menu. "It might be. Probably will be, if you continue to cooperate."
A waitress comes by and asks you about drinks. You get some blue fruity thing; it sounds kinda girly, but you need it to counter the red wine from earlier. Eridan gets a long island iced tea, along with an appetizer. Before she can shuffle away, he glances at you and gets another order, then reminds her to give separate bills.
It's quiet for a while once she leaves. You still haven't decided what entree you'd like. As you look at your menu, you can feel his eyes on you. You shift your weight in your seat and push up your glasses again.
"What kinda cheap shit were you drinkin' before comin' here, Captor?" Eridan asks. His words are slow, cautious. You wonder how long he's known you were intoxicated.
"I'm not entirely thure," you reply, refusing to put your menu down. "Thome red wine I found in the back of a cupboard."
You hear him click his tongue patronizingly. "Couldn't handle the thought a spendin' the evenin' with me sober, huh? Thought you were more responsible than that."
You roll your eyes. "You don't know jack thhit about me, ED." You finally put down your menu and glare at him. "Bethideth, I'm fully capable of handling thomeone like you at any time. Thomething... Bad happened today, ith all. And don't athk about it, becauthe I'm not talking about it."
He shrugs. "Whatever. I don't care, anyway."
Another moment of silence passes. The waitress comes by with your drinks and both of you grab at them a little too eagerly. She also takes your order for your entrees and walks away.
"You know, I didn't think heterochromia required fuckin' sunglasses to make it through the day," Eridan says as he examines his nails. Smooth as ever, you think.
"Thinthe when did you ever have a pathing thought about heterochromia?" you respond, your mouth slowly setting into a frown.
"Since I noticed you have a fuckin' green an' blue eye, Sol," he sneers. So now you've both established nicknames, that's great.
Wait a second...
"One of them ithn't red?" you ask, trying to dig through your hazy thoughts and remember if you bothered to put on your contact today.
Eridan's eyebrows rise. "Nope. Is it supposed to be?"
You open your mouth to reply, then close it, still frowning. To buy a little more time, you gulp down some of your drink.
The seat squeaks a little as Eridan leans back. "So what, do you wear a fuckin' contact or somethin'? That ain't really effective in hidin' your condition, dumbass."
"Whatever, I'm not talking about it."
"I thought this was supposed to be some sorta "bondin'" thing, Sol, but you won't talk about anythin'? Jesus Christ, an' you think I'm a child."
"Refuthing to talk about perthonal matterth ith not childith, ED."
And here come the appetizers. They're both plates of scallops wrapped in bacon. Eridan slides one over to your side of the table.
"Peace offering," he explains, answering your silent question, "That, an' it's fuckin' weird to be eatin' while you're not. So have at it, asshole."
For a few silent moments, all you do is stare at the food in front of you. Then you prod at it with your fork. Across from you, Eridan lifts a brow.
"It's not gonna fuckin' bite or anythin'," he says around a mouthful of food. He swallows. "An' it's not like I had it poisoned or somethin' fuckin' stupid like that."
"How much doeth thith cotht?"
"Just fuckin' eat it, jesus."
"Mutht be a rich kid thing," you comment as you spear a scallop with your fork, "To be uthed to everyone having a full courthe meal."
"Probably," Eridan admits without looking up, "Does it matter? Least you're not fuckin' payin' for it."
You put the scallop in your mouth. It tastes delicious; it has honestly been too long since you've been able to go for food like this.
"Thankth," you mutter once you swallow.
The sound of the both of you chewing fills the air. It's not so bad, you think; when the two of you (and by that you mean Eridan) are trying not to bite each other's head off, you can actually get somewhere. Who would have known? Maybe he's taking this truce thing more seriously than you initially thought
"So what's with the red eye thing?"
You scowl. "I thought I already told you that I don't want to talk about it."
A server comes by and takes away your plates as Eridan folds his arms on the table. He leans forward a little bit; you lean back in return.
Eridan smirks. "Yeah, I'm not fuckin' hard a hearin', don't worry. But I gotta deal for you, Sol."
"I don't want to hear it-"
"It's got somethin' to do with Fef." That catches your attention. Your scowl widens as Eridan smirks. "I'll tell you somethin' if you tell me about your whole eye thing."
Chewing the inside of your cheek, you consider his offer for a moment. "Fine, I'll tell you about it. But you can't tell FF, alright? I want to tell her mythelf."
"Yeah, yeah, I won't-"
"I'm being theriouth, ED."
You send him a flat look over the top of your sunglasses. In response, Eridan lifts his eyebrows and makes a cross over his chest with his index finger.
"Fuckin' cross my heart and fuckin' hope to die, Sol. Promise I won't tell. Just hurry up."
Your food arrives just as he shuts his mouth. Across from you, your waitress sets a large plate of steaming seafood in front of Eridan before placing your food in front of you. Your plate of stir fry looks sad in comparison to his well rounded dish.
"That's the thing you ordered? No wonder you're so fuckin' skinny."
"Didn't think you'd eat your own thpethimen," you fire back, taking a forkful of your food. It doesn't matter that he has more food than you; the appetizer did a good job of reducing some of your hunger.
"Hey, just 'cause I study marine life doesn't mean they don't taste good." And with that he cracks open his lobster tail, the aroma wafting over to you.
Eating buys you some time, allowing you to think about how you'll explain your red contact. You chew slowly as Eridan digs away at his shrimp. The sound the shells of his food make grates on your nerves just a little bit.
"It wath a gag gift," you say. Immediately, Eridan's eyes flicker upwards and meet yours. You push up your sun glasses before continuing. "From KK. I think it was two yearth ago, for my twenty fourth birthday. I, uh, like thingth in pairth, ethpecially when one'th red and one'th blue--"
"So Kar decided that you'd look good with 3D glasses for eyes?" Eridan asks, smirking. "And you kept the thing, huh."
You can't help but smile as well. "Yeah, well, he bought me thixth month'th worth, which ith more like a year thinthe I'm only uthing one."
"Is it really worth the fuckin' trouble of havin' to wear contacts an' glasses? Kinda ruins the effect, don't you think?"
His inquisitive, sincerely curious eyes make you shift in your seat. You avert yours to your plate and you poke at your food.
"Well, to be honetht, I like how it lookth," you say quietly, "And it'th not that much different from having a green and a blue eye. Though it'th becauthe I have heterochromia in the firtht plathe that I wear the thtupid thunglattheth, anyway. People give me weird lookth when they thee my eyeth."
When you chance a look up at Eridan, he has his mouth open like he's about to ask something else. You brace yourself for another question by downing the rest of your drink. Instead, he ducks his head and shovels some rice into his mouth.
"Well, I gotta keep my end a the bargain," Eridan states, taking a gulp of his drink. "Alright, most people don't know this about Fef 'cause she got her named changed as soon as she was legal, but her mother's name's Coral Condescensio, also known as the fuckin'--"
"The Condesce," you whisper. Your blood runs cold and your stomach drops as you stare at Eridan with wide eyes. "That'th-- That'th her mother?"
He nods. "Yeah. So you've heard a her, huh."
"Heard of her?" you repeat loudly. Eridan jumps a little in his seat. "She'th- she- holy fucking thit, she'th her mother, jethuth chritht, I'm going to die when she findth out that I'm dating her daughter--!"
Eridan leans across the table and grabs your wrist. It's shaking, and the rings on his fingers scrape lightly across your skin.
"Calm the fuck down, Cap--"
The way his voice dies in his throat makes your wrist shake harder. Slowly, he releases your trembling arm and stares right back at you with the same wide eyed look.
"Holy shit, why didn't I realize this before? You're the sorry bastard who fuckin' flaked out on the Condesce. She was offerin' you so much money an' you fuckin' crumbled, that was you, holy shit--"
"Yeth, I know, I fucking failed her and now she doethn't want to thee my fucking guts, I know." You take deep breaths, trying to stop your body's rattling.
Eridan's silent for a while. When he looks at you again, his eyes are their normal size, but they're questioning, and a little too invasive for your tastes; you slide as far away from him as you can.
"You're a fuckin' genius," he says quietly. By the look on his face, it seems that it pains him to admit that. "So why the hell are you workin' some fuckin' entry level job for some no name fuckers?"
"It'th none of your fucking buthineth," you hiss.
You really need to leave. You can't believe that the woman who caused your biggest breakdown to date is the mother of the woman you're courting, the fucking highlight of your sorry life. To top it off, your pathetic excuse of a rival for her was the one to give you this information.
You grab your wallet from your back pocket and fish out some bills. You don't know if it's enough; you can't focus enough to count, not to mention your hands are shaking too hard to even look at them properly.
"I need to go," is all you say as you stand and put the money on the table. Eridan reaches out for you again and you jerk back a few feet.
"Don't fucking tell FF about what happened," you snap, your words fighting to make their way out of your mouth properly, "Don't remind her that I'm that thorry lother who failed her mother, I'll tell her about it mythelf. Alright?"
This is the last thing you need to do before you abscond. In the end, you don't trust this bastard at all.
"I won't tell her anythin' we said, thought that was fuckin' established," he growls in return. "Now go, you fuckin' lowlife, before I change my mind. You fuckin' coward, failure, miserable fuck--"
You drown his voice out as you all but run out of the restaurant.
I'm sorry about the long wait! I have the next chapter written already, but it's going under some construction. I had finals two weeks ago and I've been trying to get used to my new semester recently, so it's not like I've lost interest in this story! I've just been busy. I hope that you all continue to stick around! Thanks for reading.
Sorry for the long wait! I have most of the next chapter written, so maybe that can make up for the ridiculously long wait. I hope you all enjoy!
Act one, chapter six
"Are you okay, Eridan? You're looking a little blue."
You look up at your best friend as she approaches you at the lab bench. With a sigh, you look away from your microscope and put down your pencil. Feferi leans over and turns the equipment off for you.
"Is something wrong?"
You stare at her and consider this question.
Nothing's wrong, not really. At least, there's nothing wrong going on with you. But it's the second month into Sol and Fef's relationship, and you've seen how happy Feferi has been, though now you have information that may ruin this relationship. It's true, you want Feferi all to yourself, as it should be, but you're not so sure if you want to take that happiness away from her.
Feferi's beautiful, patient gaze remains on you as you contemplate your response.
"Fef," you begin. She immediately perks up.
"Yes? What is it?"
"Are you..." you chew on your bottom lip for a moment. "How's it goin' with Sol?"
The corners of Feferi's lips twitch upwards as she moves to take your hand.
"Oh, Eridan," she smiles, "I thought you were tired of hearing about him?"
"Yeah, well... Me an' him're on better terms now," you respond as you squeeze her hand, "An' I was just wonderin' about your side a things."
Still wearing that wide, dreamy smile, she leans into you so she can rest her head on your shoulder. You slip an arm around her shoulders. Her weight is so familiar against your side, warm and comforting; you wish she was yours, you really do, but you have also learned to appreciate the newfound radiance in her smile. It frustrates you to no end to know that someone else is the reason she glows, but you're also very well acquainted with her angry side, and you won't hesitate to say that you like this side of her much better. You sigh and she holds you tighter.
"I know how you feel about me, Eridan," she says softly, treating your throughtful silence with her usual care, "I've known for a while. I'm sorry that I could never return those feelings, Eridan. It just wasn't meant to be."
You sigh again and rest your chin on top of her head. She giggles as her hair tickles your nose.
"It's fine," you say, and your voice sounds heavier than you'd like, "As long as you're happy, I'm happy. I think that'd be a smarter way to think than to plot Sol's demise."
She wraps her arms around your middle and squeezes. "I'm so proud of you! My littly guppy's all grown up now."
You smile weakly. "Hey, who're you callin' little? You're like, a whole foot shorter'n me, Fef."
She reaches up and ruffles your carefully gelled hair. For once, you can't bring yourself to care. You use the only energy you have left to sigh heavily.
Feferi's hand slides from your hair and rests on your cheek. She turns your face towards her own, her thumb rubbing softly into your skin.
"Don't look so glum, my little tadpole." You can't help but frown more. "I'm sure you'll find your lobster some day."
"So he's your lobster, hmm?"
A soft flush settles into her cheeks. "Oh, I don't know for shore. Maybe. We'll just have to wait and sea."
You roll your eyes and finally crack a smile, despite the deepening crack in your heart. Her fish puns will always be so fucking ridiculous. She squeezes you once more before breaking from your embrace.
"I'm really glad you're being so grown up about this, Eridan. It's fintastic." She continues on about how she's never felt this way about anyone else before and you honestly really want to throw up. You know she must be distracted if she can't even notice the look of nausea on your face.
Once you can find an opening, you quickly mutter something about having something bad for dinner last night and quickly escape the lab. You can hear Feferi call out behind you, but the contents of your stomach just won't settle. As you heave ino the trash can on the street corner, you can feel your eyes water. You wipe at your eyes with your sleeves and find that even once the burning in your throat and stomach has faded, the tears won't stop.
You wait for the next bus that comes by and hop on.
"Jesus Christ you look like a mess."
You look up at Karkat with your mismatched eyes, their color completely natural today. With all the crying, you didn't think it would be worth bothering with the contact.
Your name is Sollux Captor and boy are you miserable. It's only been a week, but your best friend's absence has been drilling holes into you since day one.
"I-- I jutht can't believe it," you mutter as Karkat closes the door behind him. In a matter of seconds he's sitting on the floor beside you. Calmly, slowly, he reaches out and inches your laptop closed, making sure to give you plenty of opportunities to stop him. As of this moment, you can't bring yourself to care about him touching your property.
"Yeah, you've told me thousands of fucking times," he replies, his voice low. You wonder what the fuck you did to get on this guy's good side, this harsh, angry, considerate man you sometimes call your friend. "And I know I've said this thousands of fucking times as well, but you'll be fine, okay? You'll be okay."
You shake your head.
Growling, Karkat shoves his hands into his lap and stares at them. "God, how the fuck does she do it? She just says "it's gonna be okay" and it calms you down in a fucking snap." He slides his fingers together in a sad attempt to emphasize his words. It barely makes a sound; his scowl deepens as he tries again a few more times.
"I dunno, KK. I don't fucking know." You put your head in your hands. "I don't wanna take my medth, KK. I'm not me when I take them."
"I know. I know." Hesitating a bit, Karkat extends a hand and puts it on your shoulder. You tense, but he doesn't move away. "But are you really fucking sure that you don't want to? I don't know if it's safe for me leave you alone while you're this edgy."
"I don't want to, KK," you spit in reply. His hand squeezes your shoulder before you finally shrug it off. "I've gotten thith far without them, I thhould be able to continue."
Your companion frowns, a low sound rumbling in his chest. "Fine. But I'm gonna bring them over here just as a reminder, okay? I really... I really don't want you to do anything fucking drastic."
As you put your ear against the table, you listen to his footsteps against the wood of your apartment floor. Karkat makes the short walk from your living room to your kitchen. Doors open and the rattle of an all too familiar bottle makes your stomach sink.
"'M not gonna hurt mythelf," you murmur to no one in particular, your eyes watching Karkat's knees return to your side. You squeeze your eyes shut when as he sets the bottle on the coffee table with a soft click.
The weight of his worried stare settles on your shoulders. You move to rest your back against the table, drawing your knees to your chest in an attempt to be as small as possible. Maybe then your friend's gaze will slide right off.
"You know, KK, you really have no plathe to pity me tho fucking much," you growl, refusing to look at him.
"Says you," he scoffs, "You look like a fucking mess."
He sighs, then pats your shoulder again. You tighten your hold on your knees.
"You're a fucking mess, Sollux, but you'll be okay. Got that?"
You can't help but snort at that.
"It's not a fucking request, fuckass. You're gonna be okay so we can both quit worrying," Karkat adds, an unfamiliar strain in his voice, "Because you're a persistent motherfucker. A real pain in the ass. You don't need your fucking meds to continue being a smug bastard."
You chance a glance over your knees and see your friend running a hand through his shaggy hair, looking rather haggard. He meets your eyes and gives you a tiny smile, though it looks a bit too wry to be truly comforting. Still, you'll take what you can get.
Karkat opens his mouth to speak, but a ringtone cuts him off. He frowns and retrieves his phone from his pocket. After glancing at the display screen, his frown deepens.
"It's Terezi," he informs you, though you recognize that particular ringtone by now, "I have the car right now, and..."
"I'm not a fucking child, KK, I don't need conthtant adult thupervithion," you mutter. "Bethides, you were nithe enough to bring my medth within armth' reach, tho I think I'm thet for tonight."
You give him a wide smile that's more teeth than anything. He scowls at you, but moves to stand up.
"Jesus christ, don't you aim those fucking demon teeth at me, fuckass. Call me, alright?"
"If I feel like lithening to your grating voithe anymore than I have to, thure."
"That's my boy."
Karkat already has his shoes on, an arm in his light jacket. Once the garment is settled around his shoulders, he sets his face into a serious expression. "Honestly, though. I'm always here for you, so don't be a fucking pansy and call me if you need me. You got that, fuckass?"
You throw him a sloppy salute. "Got it, captain."
He rolls his eyes and opens the door. "Yeah, fuck you too. See ya."
When the door slides shut, you deflate, resting your weight against the coffee table. You take a moment to try to calculate the amount of effort it would take to get up and lock the door then get ready for bed.
After wasting what you felt was a sufficient amount of time, you drag yourself onto your feet. Sleep could take you away for a while, and there is just enough comfort in that thought to motivate you to continue.
Act One, Chapter Seven
"Geez. What a sight for sore eyes!!!!!!!!"
You scowl. How the hell did you end up here...? The smell of the dive bar hits all of your senses, bringing them back to life. Suddenly, you feel much more aware of your surroundings and the weariness of having walked around half the city.
"I never thought you'd have the balls to bring your sorry ass back here," the woman in front of you says, grinning, "You get lost or something?"
"Maybe," you sniff in return, "Ain't none a your business."
She laughs. "It became my business the moment you walked in here, fishface." She pauses to lean back and rake her eyes over you, her hands on her hips. "Damn. You look even worse than usual! What the hell happened to you?"
You run a hand over your face. "I ain't talkin' 'til I get at least one drink in me. You know what I like, Vris."
Vriska snorts and waves her hand at you. "Yeah, yeah. Guessing it has something to do with your fishy princess?"
"However did you guess that, you must have psychic powers or somefin--"
"Shut up, you." She slides the gin and tonic your way. Taking your time, you down the drink and motion for another.
"Yeah. She's datin' some guy, you know."
"Reeeeaaaally now. Tell me more."
You gulp down your drink with less care this time around. "Yeah. It's some techie, a real asshole, thinkin' he can just walk in an' sweep Fef off her feet like that."
"Sounds like a real gentleman. Unlike you, fins."
"Like you're some high class lady, Vris."
"Hey, I've got status too, you know." She refills your drink before leaning her elbow against the bar. "I just got tired of it. You know the drill, ain't any reason to remind you."
You sigh. "Yeah, been there, done that. Still. Fuckin'...." Trailing off, you take a moment to down your drink, waving Vriska off when she moves to refill it. "Fuckin' sucks. She's so fuckin' happy and it ain't even me who's makin' her fuckin' glow like that..."
Vriska gives you a long stare. With a sigh, she begins to untie her apron. "Tell me about it. I haven't been doing all that great either."
You quirk a brow at her. "Oh yeah? Never would a thought you'd have the guts to admit that out loud."
"Shut up." You feel that she would have glared at you if not for the fact that she was busy fiddling with her uniform. She hangs up her apron before speaking again. "But yeah. Shift's over, wait here while I get my coat."
"You really expect me to have a talk with you, Vris?"
Grinning, she replies, "Ain't like you got anything better to do!!!!!!!! Why else would you be here?"
You open your mouth to reply, but she's out of sight before you can manage a word. Grumbling, you reach for your wallet and put the money for the drinks on the bar. One of the other bartenders on duty sweeps up the bills and leaves the change for Vriska.
As soon as the woman returns, she grabs the coins and reaches under the bar. "You'e good to walk without tripping on me, right?"
You roll your eyes as you begin to stand. Nope, your legs are still good to go. You take a cautious step just to make sure that you won't fall flat on your face as you walk.
"'Course I am," you reply. Your unlikely companion rolls her eyes and falls into step beside you. "So what's been going on with you?"
She frowns, lowering her gaze to the ground. "Well... Do you remember John?"
Scowling, you turn to glare at her. "The buck toothed idiot who swept you off your feet? No, the name doesn't ring any fuckin' bells."
"Oh, don't get your panties in a bunch. If it makes you feel any better, he left me, so." Vriska continues to look at the ground as the two of you round a corner. "And to top it off, he left me for a guy."
You grin widely. "Turned him gay, did you?"
A flush colors Vriska's cheeks as her hands ball into fists at her sides. She looks ready to punch you, and you shuffle a few steps away from her, still grinning.
"No!!!!!!! He just..." With a sigh, she runs a hair through her long, unruly hair. "I knew that he was too good for me from the start. I don't really know what happened, to be honest. We just kind of fell apart. Different backgrounds, different upbringings... As much as I hate to admit it, you and I had more in common than he and I did."
"Jesus. That must be fuckin' sayin' somethin'."
"It is." She kicks a pebble down the length of the sidewalk. "He was sweet and funny and we had fun, but it really wasn't made to last."
Silence settles over the two of you as you continue down the street. It's probably sometime in the early morning, judging by the empty streets. Late enough to give you trouble waking up tomorrow morning, but early enough that there aren't any drunkards prowling about after having been thrown out of bars and clubs.
"Funny how things work out, huh?" you say quietly. You slide your hands into your pockets and palm your phone. You haven't checked it since you left, and you don't feel all that eager to look at it any time soon.
"Yeah." Vriska looks up at the moon and sighs. "Funny how I ran into you again."
"Funny how we're even fuckin' walkin' around an' talkin'."
"Almost how we used to, huh?"
You both stop walking, a few feet apart from each other. Head bowed slightly, you look up at her over the top of your glasses. "Do you ever miss...?"
Vriska smiles wryly and shrugs her shoulders. "Maybe a little. Could just be saying that because I'm single now and it's been, what, five years since we went out?" Still wearing that slightly condescending smile, she approaches you and ruffles your hair. "But our ship sailed long ago, fishface. I think you're better off figuring out what you're gonna do about your little fishy princess."
Once she removes her hand from your ruined hair, she digs through her pockets and pulls out her phone. "Gonna catch a ride from Kanaya. Want to come with?"
You shake your head. "I'll just take the bus. This fuckin' awful smell has sunk in enough already, can't do anymore harm than that."
You look around for a street sign to give you some sense of direction. The area isn't as familiar as it used to be in your younger days, but you still remember the old bus routes from the times you got so drunk you couldn't even dial your phone to call for a cab.
You stop in your tracks and shoot Vriska a look over your shoulder. She smiles wryly again.
"I'm giving you permission to call me again. But not about your problems or some shit, that's what Kanaya's for. But we can do drinks again, if you want." She shrugs. "Still got your number. Now don't get run over by a bus or anything, alright? So quit looking at the ground!"
Rolling your eyes, you give her a weak wave. "Yeah, yeah. See ya, Vris."
The next day, you show up at the lab late. It took you a while to get out of bed that morning, but you figured it didn't matter too much. Only you and Feferi work down at the lab, anyway.
"Eridan! Where have you been? I've been worried sick!"
You try an apologetic smile as Feferi storms up to you. She jabs her pointer finger into your chest and you can't help but flinch.
"Why didn't you answer my calls? Or my texts? Or anyfin? You just disappeared!!" You open your mouth to reply, to protest, to defend yourself, but Feferi plows on. You think that she might even be standing on her toes. "I mean, not only has the work piled up, but you left me here all alone! Explain yourself!!"
Her harsh eyes make you look away, but it's not the anger in them that repels you. The hurt in her gaze makes your stomach sink with guilt, even though you'd like to think that maybe now the two of you are even after having her run over your heart multiple times.
"You w-were makin' me reely uncomfortable," you mutter. You cross your arms over your chest and scowl at the ground.
Feferi's expression softens. "Well, you could have just told me instead of swimming away..." Frowning, she folds her hands together. "I was reely worried about you... I thought somefin might have happened, or that you'd had enough of me..."
She looks up at you, trying to meet your downcast eyes. "My relationship with Sollux doesn't make my relationship with you any less special." She reaches for your hand and plays with your fingertips once it's clear that you won't pull away. "Okay?"
You stare at your linked hands. Despite your desire to stay angry, you can't find it in you to hold onto your negative feelings. The effect her hurt eyes have on you is almost staggering; now that you've been confronted, you can sense that she was hurt almost as much as you were.
"I just..." You start, pausing to bite the inside of your cheek, "You were well aware a the fact that I had... strong feelin's for you, right? But you just kept goin' on an' on about you an' Sol, an' it just... It hurt, Fef. It hurt reel bad. You just fuckin' stomped on my feelin's without any sign a remorse."
"I didn't mean it!!" she replies, "I reely didn't! I mean, yes, I knew that you had those feelings, but I didn't think that mentioning my relationship now and then would affect you all that much."
"Fef, you talk about him every fuckin' day whenever a moment a silence surfaces." It takes a lot of effort to keep from snarling.
Your best friend flinches, but she retains her grip on your hand. However, it grows a bit limp.
"Whale... I guess I have been a bit careless about what I've been saying about him lately..." Her fingers find one of your rings and fiddles with it. "It's just... It's new to me, you know? I haven't had anything of a history like you have."
You wince at that. "I'm fuckin' glad you don't, to be quite fuckin' honest."
"I don't know what to say to that," she replies with a small, knowing smile.
With a sigh, you use your free hand to ruffle Feferi's hair, avoiding her headband with practiced ease. "That's right." Your hand drops to your side as a wry smile makes it way to your face. "Compared to what I had with Vris, you an' Sol are real fuckin' lucky. Way luckier than Vris ever claimed to be."
Feferi giggles behind her hand. "Do you two still play those sea-lly games?"
"They weren't fuckin' silly! We made some good money playing at a professional level," you say, your voice lowering to a mutter. "I mean, I only started talkin' to her again recently. You wouldn't believe--"
You're interrupted when your phone starts vibrating in your pocket. Who the fuck could be calling you right now? Annoyed, you answer without a second thought.
"You fucking told her, didn't you? Good god, why the fuck did I trutht an atthhole like you, I bet thhe knowth and now I have no chantheth with her, none--"
Feferi shoots you a curious but worried look, tilting her head. You try your best to smile at her as you put some distance between the two of you, hoping she couldn't hear the buzz of Sollux's yelling on the other line.
"Really gotta take this call, Fef," you say as you try to find your coat, "Friend a mine's havin' a crisis, seems." You flinch as Sollux's voice rises in volume.
"What?" Feferi frowns, holding her hands to her chest. You want to finish your conversation as much as she does, holding onto the hope that maybe she'll learn to let up on the heart stomping, but Sollux is getting whiny and fuckin' impatient on the other line. "Who is it, Eri--"
"I'll be back as soon as possible! Bye, Fef!"
"H-Hey wait, what's going o--"
You hurry out of the lab and shut the door behind you, all but slamming it. You wince; it's a heavy door. As you stride down the street with long, sweeping steps, you scowl.
"What the fuck, Sol? Are you drunk again? You better have a fuckin' good reason to call 'sides your lack a social life, you fuckin' lowlife."
"No, I'm not fucking drunk, what the fuck do you take me for? You didn't anthwer my quethtion, by the way. You fucking told her, didn't you?!"
You round a corner into an empy alleyway. You thank the heavens that it's in the middle of the afternoon and anyone passing by can see the entire alley.
"No, I didn't fuckin' tell her. Jesus, Sol, calm the fuck down, I gave you my coddamn fuckin' word, now quit yellin' in my ear--"
"No!" The volume of Sollux's voice makes you jump. It's annoying how it surprises you every time this guy shouts; you never expect it just because he seems so quiet otherwise. "I just-- you--!"
He blubbers on the other line. You should hang up, you should, but you can tell that he's crying and you just don't have the heart to.
"Thhe'th too good for me, ED, why the fuck did thhe ever take an interetht in me? I'm jutht a lowlife coward, good for nothing. Everything I've ever tried that could have been worth thomething failed because I'm a mitherable, dithguthting, pathetic exthithtenthe."
You grip your phone tighter. "C'mon, Sol, don't say that... Bet you're just bein' harsh on yourself."
Sollux chokes back a sob. It comes out as a hiccup, and it's the most pathetic thing you've ever heard from another human being.
"No, I detherve thith. I detherve to be alone becauthe I've never done anything good for anyone, I jutht take and take and never give. One day, AA will realithe that I'm not worth the trouble and thhe'll move onto better thingth like thhe thhould. KK hath alwayth had TZ and then they'll get their firm and forget all about me. Then I'll be alone, like I should, and fucking hang mythelf because I fucking refuthe to take thethe goddamn pillth!"
You honestly can't think of what to say. AA's that Aradia chick, right? From what you remember, they seem close; why isn't she with him right now? Is he alone? Jesus, he must have depression or something, that's why he's got pills, and..
"Sol, are you alone?"
He takes his time to sniffle and take a few deep breaths. "Yeth, I am. Why?" His tone immediately switches to defensive, his mood whiplash making your head spin. "Don't you dare think of thending FF over here, thhe can't thee me like thith--"
"Shut the fuck up, Sol, I'm not fuckin' sendin' her over there. I'm guessin' Kar has work?"
You can't believe you're doing this. This bastard does not deserve your time, but jesus christ he just sounds so pathetic. He's not supposed to sound like that, he's supposed to sound like some indifferent, detached son of a bitch, not... This fuckin' blubberin' mess.
"Yeah." He pauses. "What are you thinking of doing, ED?"
"You'll see. I'm hangin' up now, Sol, don't kill yourself while I'm gone."
"Fuck you, athhole, I'll do whatever the fuck I want."
"Goodbye, asshole!" you say, emphasizing your "s". You hang up before he can respond.
As you shove your phone into your pocket, you rub a hand over your eyes. Just fucking great. You definitely needed a suicidal asshole on top of the rest of your problems. As much as you dislike the guy, you gave him your word, so you can't go to Feferi for help. And since this Aradia girl is gone, and Karkat has work, he's completely alone...
That thought doesn't settle too well in your stomach.
You pace the length of the alleyway. Some traitorous part of your mind is telling you to go to him and make sure he doesn't actually hurt himself, but why the fuck should you care about him? He's just the asshole who took your girl away.
...Not that she was really yours in the first place. You wonder how Feferi would react if she found out that Sollux had done some serious damage.
Clamping your eyes shut, you lean against an alley wall for support. That's not a very good thought either. Hesitantly, you retrieve your phone from your pocket and unlock it. You shift through your contact list, frowning.
You have all the tools to go through with this ridiculous idea, but your problem with Feferi has yet to be settled. God knows how long that'll take. Lucky you, having found yet another opportunity to run away. Maybe if you manage to patch up your relationship with Sollux you can win a few points with your best friend.
With a carefully set face, you return to the lab and open the door. It's quiet; the usual buzz of the equipment is absent from the atmosphere.
You continue down the hall and stop when you hear noises from your makeshift cafeteria. The only person who could be here right now is your best friend; there she is, sipping at some tea and reading some notes. She immediately looks up when she hears your footsteps.
"What happened? Who was that?" she asks. You take a seat across from her and keep your eyes on the table. Once she realizes that you're not eager to talk, she slides a steaming cup your way. "You look stressed, Eridan. I made you some tea so maybe we could... You know, sit down and talk."
You take the offered beverage and examine its contents. Black tea with a hint of milk, just how you like it. Analysing the drink buys you some time to think of an excuse. "...Friend a mine. She knows me through Kan-- dunno if you've heard a her. Rose? I think she has a romantic entanglement with her, if you know what I mean, an' she was havin' some trouble with handlin' Kan."
Feferi's eyebrows knit together. "Oh, I see. I can imagine that'd be difficult to wade through."
You sigh before taking a sip of your tea. When you return it to its spot on the table, you give her your best frown, slumping your shoulders while you're at it. "Yeah. I'm exhausted, Fef. I think... I think it would be a good idea to call it a day."
After having a staring contest with her own cup of tea, Feferi makes a soft sound of understanding, although it's a bit hesitant. Nonetheless, she reaches out and takes your hand. "Take all the time you need. I understand that this is hard, and... Well, I guess we both need some time to think things over." Her smile is sweet and sincere. You smile back.
"Thanks, Fef." You squeeze her hand, trying your hardest to smile back. "I really appreciate it."
Just as you move to stand up, Feferi does the same. She leans across the table and kisses your cheek, giving your shoulder a pat. You smile at her and nod, then the two of you begin to prepare to leave.
You're wearing your coat, so all you need to do is grab your messenger bag from the lab. Your notes are shoved into your bag with great tact and then you're on your way. With one foot in the door and one on the other side, you stop and call a goodbye over your shoulder. Feferi calls back from the lab before you close the door behind you.
Straightening up, you pull out your cell phone. "Kan? Do you have any idea who the fuck Sollux Captor is? Yeah? Great, I have a favor to ask..."
You sigh and adjust your bag on your shoulder. This is going to be an interesting encounter indeed...
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Act One, Chapter Eight
When you get to Sollux's apartment, you hesitate. Is it really your place to come over here and invade Sollux's personal space?
...Do you even want to be here? This guy's an insuffereable prick. As you stand in front of his apartment door, you try to imagine what he's currently doing. In your mind's eye, you see him sitting at his computer. No, that's wrong, he's too depressed to deal with that. Then you see him pacing his apartment, restless but weary. An open window catches his attention with a cool breeze. He approaches it and opens it, then he sticks his head out. After examining the space below him, Sollux opens the window as far as it can go and begins to climb over the sill--
To distract yourself from that unsettling image, you knock on his door three times, your nerves causing you to rap the wood at an abnormally quick pace. A few minutes pass and you knock again; this time, you hear a muffled, lisping yell. You try the doorknob and it's unlocked.
Once you open the door, you cast your eyes around the room. It's a small apartment, can't be any bigger than yours, but the clutter makes it feel a bit cramped. There are magazines, books, and dvd and cd cases scattered around the room on tables and desks and counters, though, thankfully, not on the floor. The walls are white and there are two windows visible from where you are; your hands itch to close and lock them.
You find the man sitting on his living room floor by a coffee table. Closing the door behind you, you take a few hesitant steps forward. Blearily he looks up at you, and once he recognizes your face, his mismatched eyes narrow into a glare.
"What the fuck are you doing here, Ampora," he sneers, his hands balling into fists at his sides.
Frowning, you lean against the wall and cross your arms. "Thought I'd grace you with my presence."
He stares at you with those strange, stange eyes. His glasses sit on the coffee table in front of him, right next to a bottle of pills.
"Fine," he says after a moment of staring. He turns his eyes away from you and gazes at the pills instead. "At leatht you're not FF. I would have gone out and thtrangled you with my fucking bare handth if thhe ended up here."
You snort. "Oh yeah, I'm sure. You wouldn't've ended up gettin' comfort make outs instead?"
He falls silent. You watch as his jaw works, blood creeping up his neck. Oh god, he's fighting back a blush. How fuckin' cute.
"No," Sollux replies, "Maybe a fucking kitth on the cheek, maybe one on the mouth if I'm lucky, but that'th it."
"Oh." You're not entirely sure why you're surprised; Fef is the kind of girl to take things slow, yeah, she's more conservative like that, but it's been at least a month, right? You haven't really been keeping track. "Guess you just lack the charm, Sol."
"I'd thay I have more charm than you, ED."
You make a vague noise of agreement. "Whatever. I'll just have to work the charm on someone else."
Smirking, he looks at you with a raised brow. "Well, well, well, look who'th finally put on hith big boy pantth and acthepted the fact that he hath no chanthe with hith childhood cruthh--"
"Oh shut up, you sonuva bitch." You scowl at him, close to snarling. He just grins.
Scuffing your shoe against the wood floor, you mumble, "'Sides, she knew. That I, y'know, loved her. She's known for a while, apparently."
"ED, even I could tell. From our firtht meeting. AA, too."
You bare your teeth. "Jesus christ, I really want to punch you in the face right now."
Sollux smiles wryly. "Yeah, I've known that for a while, too." With a sigh, he leans his weight onto his hands, a little ways behind his back. "Go ahead. Think it could knock thome thenthe into me?"
You examine his face. He looks tired, those mismatched eyes looking so fucking pathetic and lonely, red rimmed from his previous tears. You flex your fists and move towards him.
You end up sitting beside him instead.
"You're too pathetic to fuckin' punch, Sol," you state under your breath. He throws his hands up.
"Great, now I'm too pathetic to punch. Thankth, ED, you've been a great help."
You punch him lightly in the arm.
"That good enough for you, you masochistic freak?"
He rolls his eyes. "Mathochithtic. Ma-ttho-chitth-tic. Maa-thsso-chiiths-tic. Jethuth chritht, I hate thith lithp."
You shrug. "It's not too hard on the ears. Makes it easy to make fun a you." He gives you a flat look, not quite a glare. "'Sides, what's the fun in talkin' properly?"
You gesture widely with your hands. "Greetings, my name is Eridan Ampora. I am a rich, spoiled brat, but at least my fashion sense is better than yours."
Sollux snorts, and you think he sounds pretty close to laughing. "Only you think that, ED." He shoots you a sideways glance. "Well, at leatht your clotheth are of a higher quality than motht people'th."
A bit self consciously, you pick at your scarf and your blazer. "Yeah, 'course."
He snorts again. "Get the fuck over it. I bet there'th thomeone out there who thhareth your tathte in clothing. Or thomething." With a slight tilt of his head, he offers you a dry smirk. "Whatever maketh you happy. I bet you're eathy to pleathe. Thoon ath thomeone even hinth at taking an interetht in you, I bet you'd be all over them."
An indignant flush crawls up your neck and settles in your cheeks and ears. "My lovelife is none a your fuckin' business, Sol, so shut the fuck up!"
"Fine then, ED." He shrugs, still smirking. Despite his smug look, the inclination of his mouth seems heavier than it should be, and the shadows under his eyes seem darker. "Have it your way."
Silence settles over the two of you, and to your surprise, it effectively dissipates that leftover bit of tension. The fall sun has set already and you're getting hungry. The signs are telling you to go home and grab dinner so you can finish your notes in peace; you've still got a lot of work to do.
You glance over at him. His eyes are drooping, his shoulders slumped. Would it be alright to leave him alone?
You shift your weight, moving so that you'll be able to stand in one fluid movement when you need to.
"You'll be okay for a while, right? I mean, I could probably call Kar or somethin', get him over here."
Sollux snaps into a staighter position, but when he looks at you, his eyes are glassy. "Don't bring KK here, pleathe," he says quietly. He blinks, attempting to clear his gaze. "I jutht-- no. I don't need any one elthe to thuffer becauthe of me."
You stare at him. He's starting to sway; at this rate, he's going to fall asleep. Yeah, fall asleep with his face in your lap.
"So it's alright for me to be here 'cause I'm nobody to you," you murmur, watching him carefully.
His eyes narrow. He's trying to look at you properly.
"No." He draws out the syllable, as if tasting it for the first time. "You jutht-- you don't care about what happens to me, tho why thhould I have to worry about you?"
You sigh, unable to wrap your head around his brand of logic. Just looking at him is making you tired, too.
"Guess so." You move to fold your arms on the coffee table, creating a makeshift pillow. "Don't think you should be alone right now, Sol." He frowns at this, but doesn't object. "Where's Ara?"
"Thouth America. Thhe'th off doing an archaeological dig."
You hum and press your cheek into your forearm. "An' you don't wanna bug Kar because...?"
Sollux yawns. You yawn not long after.
"'Cauthe he'th been working overtime lately to help TZ pay off her thtudent loanth. Might be thaving up for a better car, too." He moves to mimic your posture, but when he buries his face into his arms, he covers the front of his face. When he speaks again, it's muffled and a bit slurred. "He doethn't have the time to deal with a guy like me."
You don't, either. But sitting here with him, listening to him speak about how alone he is, and that he fuckin' deserves it, makes you want to stay. At least, you can't find it in yourself to leave. You don't want to know what would happen if you left him alone.
"If you say so." You frown, staring at the side of his head.
From your position beside him, you take a moment to examine the man your Feferi is so enamoured with. He's scrawny, moreso now than you've ever seen him, self deprecating, sarcastic, and rude. It still baffles you that Feferi had chosen this chump over you, but at least you've accepted it by now. You wonder what it would be like if you were on his good side.
He murmurs against his arms and yawns.
"Why're you thtill here?" he asks. He sounds half asleep, and you smile wearily.
"I dunno," you reply. "You look like you need the company."
Sollux grumbles and says something unintelligible. Then he turns a fraction so that one eye, his green one, is looking at you.
"Thankth. You're not ath big an atthhole ath I initially thought." The eye curves in a slight smile. "It'th not tho bad being babythat by thomeone who about rivalth me in patheticneth."
You roll your eyes. "I'm glad you think so fuckin' highly of me."
Once you finish speaking, he turns his face back into his arms. His breathing evens out. Must have finally drifted off.
You shift, hoping to get off the floor at the very least. Whether or not you'll make it to the door is a mystery. Your legs shout in protest once you move, not enjoying being woken up. Groaning, you plop back down to the floor and return your head to its spot against your arms.
Maybe you'll take a quick nap, too.
END OF ACT ONE
Stay tuned for the intermission!
Intermission Part One
Your name is Karkat Vantas and for once in your life, you're pretty content. You may be working an entry level job, sure, and you may be living in a studio apartment, but at least you have your own place. You're living with your girlfriend, the love of your life, and that's pretty fucking sweet.
Her name is Terezi Pyrope. She's blind, but that doesn't bring her down. Sometimes, when you're both feeling like shit and the world starts to bear down on you, you cup her face and stare into her tear filled, sightless eyes. But they're beautiful, she's beautiful, and you wouldn't change a thing about her.
Not only is she beautiful, but she's a genius. She has a talent in screwing people over, which is perfect for her dream profession. She wants to be a prosecuting attorney one day, and she works very hard. Almost too hard, sometimes. She'd be really intimidating, you think, despite her small stature; her eerie, dull eyes paired with her wide, toothy smirk should be enough to send chills down anyone's spine.
Right now, she's down at the Redglare Agency doing an internship. It's your lunch break, and normally you spend this time with your childhood friend and coworker, Sollux Captor, but he called in sick today. In the back of your mind you worry about him, but right now you're too occupied by one of your best friends, John Egbert, grinning at you from across the table to think about it.
"I got a tour from here to Ohio next week," he tells you, practically bouncing with excitement, "So I'll be passing through New York. Want anything?"
You grumble something unintelligible around your sandwich. John shrugs.
"Well, alright. I'll just get you one of those cheesy "I love New York" shirts. Should I get one for Terezi, too?"
You remove your sandwich from your mouth and grimace at him. "Only if it's red. Or has red on it. You know her."
John laughs. "Right! Makes sense." The goofball finally takes a bite of his own sandwich, looking very pleased about it.
It's been a while since you've last talked to him. He's been busy, too; you've all been. He and his boyfriend, Dave Strider, work together on stage as a musical duo. Kids these days are really eating up that shit that Strider puts out-- what was it again, something with a step in it. Flash step? Dubstep? Something like that. You never would have thought that John would follow him onto the stage, but now he plays piano with Strider and it's more popular than you could have ever imagined. You can see why the crowd would love John, but Strider...
You remember the time in under grad when you first met John. You had an immediate sexual attraction to him, even though at first he got on your nerves like no one had before. You had a fling; it didn't work out, obviously, but it helped him with his sexuality and your understanding of people. Now you're both in happy relationships.
"So Sollux hasn't fired the business back up yet, hmm?" John asks. You glance up at him and holy crap how the fuck is his food done already.
"No, you fuckass," you grumble in reply, "Why the fuck do you still think he's going to? It ended badly for him, and god fucking dammit, I'm tired of thinking about that incident."
"Well, I was just thinking about your well being, Karkat," he responds, frowning, "And I know it'd be good for the both of you. I mean, you never know, right?"
"No, Egbert, I do know, and it's not going to happen." You snap off another bite of your sandwich. "At least, not any fucking time soon. Just don't fucking count on it, alright, fuckass?"
"Fine, fine." He waves a hand. "You know, I still wonder where you got fuckass from. Was it some screwed up pet name because you knew someone who had a really fuckable ass?"
You roll your eyes. "Am I supposed to be laughing? Here, wait a fucking second, I think I missed my cue. Alright, here we go--"
John lifts a brow.
"Ha ha, fucking ha. You are a comedic genius, Egbert, let me fucking congratulate you."
"Come on, Karkat, even though it's been a while since we've last talked, you know that your little rants don't bug me any more!" He gives you a smile and reaches across the table to punch your shoulder lightly. "You're so stressed lately, you know? It just sucks that somehow, you resist the good ol' Egbert charm, so I have to, like, put on a silly costume just to make you laugh."
"It's just Sollux who's been worrying me," you admit, "And, yeah, working, I guess. I just don't know if Sol knows what he's getting into. I mean, just because this girl is so fucking cute and sweet and smart and whatever doesn't mean he should be fucking breaking his back over and over again. This girl won't even put out; she's giving him jack shit while he's killing himself with anxiety." You rub your forehead. "I just wish he'd get some friends or something, then go for them. Get fucking comfortable, you know? It'd go a lot fucking smoother and it'd save me the fucking stress."
Egbert smiles brightly at you from across the table. You scowl in return, but you feel a slight flush creep to your face. "What's your fucking problem, dipshit?"
He laughs, but it sounds closer to a giggle. "Nothing! It's just kinda cute how you're so concerned for him."
That blush on your face darkens as your scowl deepens. "Shut up, fuckass! Am I not allowed to care about a good friend of mine?"
"Of course you are," John continues. You can see his hand slowly creeping across the table towards your sandwich. You don't say anything as he grabs it and pulls it back towards him. "I just think it's, you know, really sweet. Which is saying something, considering it's you."
You roll your eyes as your friend devours the rest of your food. "What the fuck ever. You done eating everything in fucking sight?"
He nods, wearing a wide, albeit a touch sheepish, grin. "I'm sorry! I've just been busy lately. Haven't had a lot of time to eat."
With a sigh, you concede with a shrug. You call the waiter over. "Yeah, I haven't really had a lot of time to just sit down and fucking enjoy myself either. So many goddamn fucking bills to pay..."
You feel a steady palm on your shoulder. John is leaning out of his seat, his big blue eyes looking at you with earnest worry. "Hey, if you're having money problems, me and Dave can always help you out..."
You avert your gaze from his. The hand on your shoulder seems heavier than it really is, but you don't have the heart to shake it off. "I know, I know, but-- this is something I have to do on my own. Something we have to do on our own." You return your eyes to his. "We can fucking handle this, trust me."
John smiles again, though this time around it's subdued. Still a lot brighter than Karkat could ever manage, however.
"Alright, I trust you." He pulls his hand back just as the waiter comes. The both of you pull out your wallets and put the money on the table.
John's presence by your side as you walk out of the diner is more comforting than you remember it. You look ahead of you, chin high, hands in your pockets, determined not to show any signs of weakness to your friend. When you chance a glance at him, he's smiling at you, eyes expressing his fondness and amusement more clearly than words ever could.
When your footing falters, it takes a lot of effort not to sock Egbert in the face once he starts to laugh.
Chapter 10: Act two; Chapter one
Your name is Eridan Ampora and jesus fucking christ who is screaming right into your fucking ear?
Scowling, you try to move, try to focus your hazy, sleepy thoughts. Now you're being shoved and the screaming hasn't stopped; you waking up now, and waking up fast. Your surroundings start to fill in and you realize that you're not in your apartment. All this white is horrendous--
"Ampora! Wake the fuck up, fithhfathe!!"
Your eyes snap open, and after adjusting your glasses, you identify one Sollux Captor screeching his lungs out. He's on the other side of the room now, his back pressed to the wall, arms raised in front of his face as if he were expecting you to attack him.
Once he notices that you're awake, he lowers his arms a bit to scowl at you. "Had enough beauty thleep, printheth?" He squeezes his eyes shut and bellows, "Now get the fuck out!!!"
You bare your teeth at him before rubbing your eyes. "Fine, fine, just let me get off my fucking ass first, will you?" With a good shake of your head, you feel that your vision has cleared enough to allow a safe exit. You dust off your clothes once you stand, and as you do so, you notice the bottle of pills sitting on the coffee table.
Sollux growls. "Making goo-goo eyeth at my medth again, are you? You can fucking take them if you're tho in love with them!"
You drop your arms. With some effort, you manage to push back the urge to sock this guy right in the jaw. "I think stuffin' them down your fuckin' throat sounds like an even better idea, Captor!"
His eyes widen. Though you didn't think it was possible, the brunet presses even closer to the wall. "No. You wouldn't!" Just like that, his eyes narrow into a glare. "I'll fucking bite off your fingerth if you dare to lay a hand on me!"
"Why won't you take the damn things, you fuckin' dumbass? They'll make you so much fuckin' easier to deal with, I bet!"
Sollux snarls something unintelligible and jumps to his feet. For a moment you freeze in place, but it's not long before you realize that he's going after the bottle, not you. With a clatter the pills fall onto the floor.
"You wouldn't even be dealing with me if I took them, you fucking--"
This time he goes for you. You catch his fist easily, though the next punch comes as a bit of a surprise. He's got good reflexes, you'll give him that, but he's a weak little thing; as you grasp his fists, you can feel his arms shaking. You take a closer look and see that he's trembling all over.
Soon enough, his knees buckle, and you move your grip from his arms to his chest. He struggles a bit initially, but you're much stronger than he is. Has he been eating at all lately? He's even lighter than Fef, and she's tiny.
You drag him over to the couch and drop him there.
"I'm makin' breakfast," you declare, "I'm fuckin' hungry, an' if you're not eatin' anythin', then I better not let it go to waste."
Sollux raises his head to glare at you, but he says nothing. You take that as an "okay" and head off to the kitchen.
On your way, you close the windows and lock them. Some weight slides off your chest, allowing you to take a quiet breath of relief. A quick look outside tells you that it's pretty early; the sun's just over the horizon.
In a few moments you have a cheese, ham, and onion omelette on the stove. Sollux had a lot of sandwich ingredients hiding in his fridge; the guy probably doesn't really know how to cook.
There's a knock at the door, but you ignore it. Whoever it is probably got the wrong room or something.
"Huh, smells good in here, don't tell me you're actually fucking cooking something for once--"
"Jesus christ!" you exclaim just as the visitor does.
Again, you've spoken at the same time. You growl and shut your mouth closed - it looks like Karkat's got a lot to say.
"What the flying fuck are you doing here, Ampora? God knows what time it is, don't you have work or something?" he asks, almost snarling at you. He's standing in front of Sollux, protecting the prostrate figure like the mother hen he is.
"What does it look like I'm doin'?" Frowning, you return to your eggs. "I'm makin' fuckin' breakfast!"
Even with your back turned to him, you can feel Karkat staring at you. His eyes flit from you and something else, you're not sure what, but whatever it is, it's helping him jump to all the wrong conclusions.
"Wait... You two-- Please don't tell me-- Goddammit Sollux, if you let him--"
You almost drop your food onto the floor. Despite the indignant anger rising in you, you can feel your cheeks burn with embarrassment.
"Relax, KK. Ath dethperate ath thith atthhole ith, he didn't make a move or anything."
"Probably doesn't want Peixes' sloppy seconds?"
You turn around and see Sollux slap Karkat's arm. "I think you'd be better off thutting your thtupid mouth."
Now that your food's safely plated, you pad back to the coffee table. Sollux looks up at you, his sunglasses still absent from his face, along with his contact. His vulnerable state sends a chill down your spine, though you manage to hold back a grimace.
"You're really going to cook my food and not offer me any?" he asks. You find that his tone sounds more tired than irritated.
"You had your chance," you respond after a moment of hesitation. You're actually surprised he's being this civil right now. However, you decide to sit next to him, leaving your food in arms' reach.
Sollux sits up and helps himself to your eggs. You break off a portion from the main piece and shove it in his direction, though you refuse to relinquish your fork. Over the top of your glasses, you can see Karkat staring at you. It's probably best if you ignore that for now.
Once the food is gone, Sollux stands and takes your plate. You open your moth to say something, but you're not sure what's appropriate for your current situation. You opt to exchange looks instead of words, though it doesn't help you any.
In the background, the sink comes on. Karkat takes this opportunity to approach you.
"Hey, uh..." He scratches the back of his neck. "Sorry about that. It was fucking rude of me to--"
You shake your head. "Don't need to hear it, Kar. It's not a fuckin' surprise that you'd think a somethin' like that."
He bites his lip and chews on it for a while. "Still..."
"Whatever. You've said worse."
Karkat clicks his tongue quietly. His raises his gaze to meet yours, and it's a bit of a shock to see him so troubled. "I think-- It's probably-- Jesus." He rubs at his eyes. "Too early to deal with this. All I wanted to do was pick up this sorry asshole and fucking bring him to work, not deal with this bullshit right off the bat..."
He exhales loudly, dropping his hands. "Anyway. I guess I should thank you for not killing him."
You smile wryly. "An' risk bein' murdered by Fef right after?"
Karkat snorts. "Is she really that into him...?"
"Yeah," you say quietly, feeling your chest deflate, "She talks about him all the time. She thinks he's fuckin' hilarious, that's he's so fuckin' smart an' gentlemanly an' blah, blah, blah."
"So she's not aware of his little falling out with the fucking Condesce, then?"
Karkat takes a moment to study you. "I'm actually pretty fucking surprised you haven't said anything about it."
You click your tongue against the roof of your mouth. "Yeah, well. I like to think I'm past sabotagin' relationships by now."
"Is that so?" Karkat looks up at you, a hint of a smile on his face. "So then why are you even here, Ampora?"
That's a good question, isn't it? "He called me yesterday, sounded like a complete fuckin' mess. Blubberin' like a little girl, the poor bastard."
"So you thought fucking babysitting him was a better idea than humiliating him?"
"Well," you pause to bite the inside of your cheek, "You gotta understand how fuckin' pathetic he sounded, Kar. Like..."
"Even worse than you?" he's full out smirking now, the son of a bitch.
Scowling, you stand. "You're better off askin' him yourself. I got places to be right now."
Karkat chuckles under his breath and stands up as well. "Sure. Thanks again anyway."
He reaches out to pat your shoulder, but you dodge his arm. "Yeah, whatever. See ya."
When you get to the door, you yell over your shoulder, "Your aparment's shit, Sol! You gotta take off your sunglasses next time you decide to redecorate!"
As you slam the door behind you, you groan at your terrible attempt at a witty remark. At least you know that you've got another little while to make up for it.
The car is silent, although you can feel Karkat stealing glances at you every five seconds. You roll your eyes and slump further into your seat.
"Jutht tho you know, I wathn't trying to avoid you at lunch," you state loudly. You smile a bit when your companion jumps in his seat.
"Oh really now."
Your smile widens. "Yeah. FF called me."
"Oh really now?"
You hum your agreement. "Got a date for tonight."
"Congrats," Karkat says, a relieved smile stretching his lips, "It's been a while since you two have gone out. Not that you haven’t been constantly texting or anything like that."
"Thhut up. Ithn't that a thing that coupleth do? Or have you been going out with TZ tho long that you're pretty much married now?"
"What fucking difference does that make?"
"It meanth that your flame of love or whatever the fuck hath thimmered down, tho all you guyth do ith bicker about who hath to take care of the kidth and thtuff."
"I really don't know where the fuck you're pulling this shit out of," he replies as he pulls into the parking lot outside of your apartment building, "But I can only put up with your bullshit for so long. What the hell was that the other day? Why the fuck was Ampora in your apartment?"
You stare at the dashboard. "I don't know. You think I underthtand what goeth on in that head of hith?"
"I wasn't asking why he came over, fucknuts. I was asking why you let him stay."
"I'm pretty thure that'th not what you thaid, in fact I think you thaid--"
Your eyes slide over to the window, avoiding Karkat's heavy stare. "What?"
"It's time to stop acting like a fucking baby."
"You're one to talk."
"Sollux, this isn't fucking about me!"
When you finally chance a glance at Karkat, he's holding his head in his hands. Somehow he feels your gaze on him and he looks up at you.
"Look, he told me that you called him. Why didn't you call me? I fucking told you that it was okay! I fucking insisted, didn't I?" The volume of his voice rises with his frustration. "Why are you bothering with him?"
You drop your eyes to the radio, examining the numbers on the digital display. "I don't need your pity, KK. You know that."
Karkat growls. "This isn't fucking pity, how many times do I have to tell you that? It's called concern, you douchefuck, I don't think any less of you just because you've got problems!"
"Well, you don't need to worry tho goddamn much!" you exclaim in return. You catch his gaze again. "You've already got a thhit load on your handth, and I'm jutht wathting your time by having thith pointletth talk! I don't care if ED endth up hating me, I don't care if I wathte hith goddamn time, he'th jutht thome thtupid atthhole who thomehow wormed hith way into my life! You... KK, you've got better thingth to worry about than me."
"That's not true and you fucking know it--"
"You know what, KK?" You unbuckle your seatbelt and open the car door. "I don't care. Your bullthhit getth pretty tiring too."
Karkat hurries to get out of the car to follow you, but you're already halfway across the parking lot. He yells after you, anyway, "But you know what the difference is between your bullshit and mine? It's that I know whether or not I'm lying and you don't, and I'm telling the goddamn motherfucking truth!"
You don't even bother to turn your head as you holler, "Go home, KK! I don't care!"
If he adds anything else, you don't hear it.