It’s the way Vriska Serket’s eyes narrow dangerously, eight pupils all reduced to malicious slits the moment anyone even thinks the name Karkat Vantas that tips everyone off. In a stroke of irony that would make the Strider brothers pull the straightest of poker faces concealing a proud smile, Terezi is the one to notice it first.
She smells it, a thick and pungent hate that she once assumed was meant for her and her only, skittering towards him on spidery-thin, long legs. They crawl up his body, oily black obscuring any hint of the bright candy that blooms beneath his skin. He responds in turn, snarling out bitter-smelling words carrying a type of venom she never dreamed existed in a troll as wordlessly compassionate and needy as him.
Their first flirtations break out in the main room, a dark and deadly dance that no one can bring themselves to look away from. Terezi stops inhaling the delicious cherries on her screen as soon as two distinct sets of typing she memorized a long time ago stop; the pure fury and rage that pervades Karkat’s every keystroke, and Vriska’s erratic clacking, now bearing down on the whole room. It coats her tongue in black ice.
Vriska wrenches herself out of her seat, chair falling abandoned and unloved behind her. Sticky brown fear rolls off of Tavros in waves, but they crest and break into sweet chocolaty relief as Vriska storms right past him. Kanaya reaches a hand out, brushing against the thick material of Vriska’s coat as she passes by her ex-moirail, a single syllable lodged in the Virgo’s mouth.
The others watch, silent, impassive, curious yet apprehensive, waiting for an event to unfold before their very eyes, a show of what the quadrants actually look like when the glorified magic of media packs up and leaves. Only Terezi’s muscles tense, ready to take action at the first sign of trouble. Ex-sister or not, no other color is allowed to mix with that red without her permission.
Vriska is ready to act, to ensnare Karkat in a web of insults and swears, to manipulate him until he paints her a portrait of his own insecurities and worries in the color he hates the most, until a short cough erupts from Equius. She growls, whipping her head back to snarl at the troll, then withdraws her feelings back into herself. Terezi may not be right next to her, but she can tell that all Vriska really does is just retract her hatred back into her body, compressing it into a dark cavity somewhere where curious eyes can’t reach.
All it really does is make the smell stronger.
“Are you just going to stand there and pollute the air, you gigantic fucking spider bitch, or are you actually going to do something?” Karkat asks her, looking up at her with bright eyes, beacons of light shining from underneath the heavy shields of his eyebrows. Delicious little ketchup lines cut through the yolks, flowing out and down into the bland charcoal pans gathered underneath.
Vriska leans down, and Terezi discreetly slips out of her chair and stalks closer to them, taking deep, steady inhales and trying to get a better smell of Vriska’s actions. Blueberry-tinged words flutter right out of earshot, teasing and tempting her to come closer.
“-two hours, my respiteblock. You better be there, Karkles,” Vriska spits out the last word as if it’s a curse, loud enough for everyone to hear. It’s covered in the last remains of whatever bond Terezi once had with her, of a sisterhood long since spoiled by lies and deceit. She spins on one heel and stalks off, head held high as she passes right by the teal-blood.
She remembers the days when she would do anything for a single sniff of the cerulean currently swimming through her mind. It used to be her favorite flavor, before it turned too sour for even Terezi to handle. Still, even as it chokes her, she can taste the perfect blend of sweet and sour that drew her to Vriska in the first place.
Despite everything that’s happened, it’s still her second favorite flavor. She’d be lying if she said she didn’t miss it. If she didn’t miss her. The Scourge Sisters may be dead, but something new could possibly take its place.
In a moment of true blindness, she stumbles forward, catching herself on the edge of a cold desk. The gentle hum of Karkat’s husktop vibrates throughout it, pounding against her fingers to the beat of worried Trollian pings. It’s not hard to figure out who Karkat’s messaging now, with the rest of the trolls still nothing but dull statues decorating an even duller meteor.
Of course Vriska loves that shade of blue. Of course Karkat can’t seem to get away from it. The smell is intoxicating, but the undercurrents are too bitter to make it truly wonderful.
They smell so delicious together, the two of them, Vriska and Karkat. A wild, crazy blue offset by a shocking, angry contrast that swirl together in her mind’s eye, so decadent she could lick it forever and never get tired of the taste.
She wonders how much teal could be added without upsetting the balance.
Terezi spends the next hour and fifty-four minutes and twenty-three seconds how she images a hero of time to live: hyperaware of each passing millisecond, each tick of the clock an endless drone in the forefront of her mind. She manages to discard a good ten seconds letting sympathy for Dave and Aradia run its course through her body before impatience works its way back into her.
She does anything she can to make time fly, but nothing does the trick. Not even talking to Dave, and as much as she loves his cherry text sundae covered in a thick sauce of irony and sprinkled with coolkid, she’s craving a different flavor today.
She leaves the main room exactly 413 seconds after Karkat does, and stealthily follows him down the hall as he makes his way towards Vriska’s respiteblock. His sooty exterior blends into the metal of the wall too much for her to really sniff him out, but his loud, clattering footsteps are more than a good lead to hold on to.
Karkat disappears through the transportalizer, and as Terezi steps to the edge of the device, she starts to ponder her own motives. Why is she doing this?
She’s not even sure of her own feelings on the matter. They’re certainly not pale, but she’s not entirely sure if they could be considered ashen. Part of her wants to mediate between them, to keep the shitstorms that are Karkat Vantas and Vriska Serket from ever colliding into a shitstorm so mighty it would wipe out life in the Veil as they know it, but the desire to be part of that shitstorm overpowers whatever auspisticing urges she may have.
Which leaves the question…where do these feelings lie? Are they red or black?
She puzzles over that for several moments, but answers continue to elude her. She settles on labeling it as some strange mix of red and black, something that has camped out on the border between the quadrants and is currently planning on building its own hive there. She’s strangely okay with that idea.
It kind of reminds her of her old relationship with Vriska. There wasn’t a quadrant to figure out back then; only two stupid little girls and a bond that escaped proper labels.
Karkat certainly wouldn’t be okay with this. He wants a world where his relationships end up like the ones in his terrible romcoms, where each quadrant is sectioned off into their perfect little square, never intermingling with any other romance. It’s the same way he eats his food, too.
He’s like that with everything, actually. But Vriska? Vriska is just like Terezi, willing to let everything mix and spin together into some unholy monstrosity of feelings that escapes a quadrants and labels and sensibility.
She steps onto the transportilizer, enveloping her senses in a flash of sugary white. When it clears, she hears a door slam shut, and she already knows she’s too late.
Still, she creeps closer, and sure enough, there’s no way to get inside without alerting them to her presence. Muffled voices scream at each other from within. Curious, she presses her ear to the door and listens intently.
“What the fuck is wrong with you, Vantas!?” Vriska nearly screeches. Some metal object collides with the wall. Terezi wouldn’t be surprised if it was some spare part of her old robotic arm. “Why do you always have to do this to me!? What did I ever do to you to deserve this!”
“If you could actually make sense for a single moment in your miserable existence and not speak in riddles and vague bullshit, maybe I could tell you!” Karkat snaps back. Even his words are covered in waxy black that sticks to the back of Terezi’s throat, leaving a bitter aftertaste on her tongue.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about, you sad sack of shit! Why can’t I just be happy with someone? Why do you have to tear away the only people I actually care about? Do you get off to this!?”
“Oh yes, every time something bad happens to you I slink off to the corner of the room and publicly fondle my shame globes from pure ectasy! I do it so often I don’t even need a bucket anymore!”
She growls, and something fleshy thuds against the floor. Terezi has a sneaking suspiscion that it’s Karkat. “First you turn my own sister against me, and now you’re trying to steal John away!? He doesn’t fucking like you, dumbass!” Her quirk is practically audible in her speech, and it’s no stretch to imagine every single vowel her mouth shapes as an eight.
He laughs at her, this goofy guffaw that bursts out of him in such a condescending way. It is adorable, just like everything he does. “Oh, so that’s what this is about? I’m not sure if you dropped into this specific memo, but you lost your fucking weird-ass, kinky as shit relationship with Terezi the moment she finally discovered that you’re the worst thing to crawl out of the mother grub’s undulating asshole. All it took was you burning her fucking retinas out. And as for John, I can’t believe you think I hold any sort of feeling even remotely approaching romantic feelings for the ugliest pink monkey to ever exist.”
Skin against skin. A hard slap. “Try saying that again, shithead, and I’ll fucking kill you.” She whispers.
“Newsflash, Serket: he doesn’t recopricate your pustulating red feelings. I bet he doesn’t even like you as a friend, just like the rest of us. Especially me.”
“Oh, I see how it is.” She smirks, and after a moment of silence the scent of bright cherries floods the air. Terezi’s knees go weak at the smell, and she opens her mouth, trying to taste as much of it as possible. Blueberry throws itself into the mix with wild abandon, and it’s the more wonderful than she could have ever imagined. Colors burst in her mind’s eye, and she moans from the taste itself, senses overrun with pure pleasure.
It doesn’t take long before she’s hearing sounds that are meant for only the ones making them. Terezi knows when she’s not welcome, so she absconds to the safety of her own respiteblock.
A few hours later, when Vriska and Karkat -separately- return to the main lab, Terezi swoops down from the shadows, ensnaring Karkat in her mighty talons and carrying him off for herself.
He tells her to stop roleplaying, so she does the opposite and gets even deeper into her role. Karkat quickly gives up, and within a few minutes the mighty dragon is carefully eyeing her new prey, examining the many scars the adorable little crab has accumulated in his short life.
She kisses each and every scratch, bite mark, or bruise Vriska left on him, the slightest taste of her blood still clinging to him.
“Is it kind of fucked up that my kismesis is…well, your ex-whatever the fuck you two deranged lunatics considered yourselves as?” Karkat blurts out suddenly, just as she’s pressing gentle kisses and licks against his fingertips.
“Ex-sisters, Karkat,” she helpfully corrects him. “And yes, it probably is, but it is just as fucked up that I’m not entirely against the idea of being with her again, though not as a sister. As something….different.”
“There’s a problem with that. Namely, what we have. You can’t be her kismesis, and you sure as fuck can’t be her matesprit.” He protests.
Terezi grins. Oh, Karkat. So naïve. “I believe that we can make it work!”
“I…don’t really want to fucking know, do I?”
She wiggles her eyebrows at him. It gets the message across.
The next time Karkat and Vriska clash, Terezi is actually invited to join the fun.
Teal mixes beautifully with red and blue, as it turns out.