When Roxy turns six, she asks her parents where she came from. Rose explains that she fell to Earth on the back of a meteor, creating a smoky crater in the ground with tumble and a thud and a big, fiery bang.
Her delight at the news spans years upon years, but at the age of fifteen, Roxy isn't particularly satisfied with the backdrop to her conception being made into an inside joke. She's got the sort of curiosity that a great scientific-mind-slash-cat-owner needs, and she's hardly stupid. There are only so many ways she could've come into being, and all of them are a little more creative than any regular kid's origins. As if having two mothers wasn't enough of an obstacle when it came to reproduction, they aren't even of the same species.
And the last time Roxy checked, she didn't have horns protruding from the top of her head. Not even ridiculously nubby ones, awash in a sea of unkempt hair.
She asks Rose about the circumstances surrounding her birth as often as she can, intent on being as annoying as she knows how. Her upbringing has prepared her perfectly for the brain-numbingly repetitive barrage of questions she has to fire at Rose, and her passive-aggressive squabbles with the more human of her mothers has given her the endurance she needs to keep her face as straight as Rose's.
On her sixteenth birthday, Roxy tells her mothers that all she really wants is to know where she came from. “Meteor,” Rose says, presenting her with a cake she purposely made to outshine Jane's heartfelt efforts. The first time she gets drunk, Roxy staggers across the hallway to her parents' room, pounds on the door, and demands to be told how she got to be there. “Meteor,” Rose says, opening the door just enough to swipe the vodka bottle from her hands, before heading back to bed. When Rose is hosting a dinner party for all her pretentious author friends who don't even write about wizards, Roxy stomps downstairs in her pyjamas, and knocks over a tray of caviare in an effort to get her mother's attention. “Meteor,” Rose says, delicately kneeling down to pick up one of the entrées now strewn across the cream carpet, feeding it to one of her billion cats.
Eventually, it reaches the point whereby Rose knows the question's coming before Roxy even parts her lips. She'll wander into the living room, see her mother curled up in an arm chair with a book in one hand and a black coffee in the other, and before she even thinks about prying information out of her insufferably patronising hands, Rose says, “Still a meteor.” Roxy keeps on walking, does a one-eighty, and heads straight back upstairs.
She has tried, time and time again, to talk to Kanaya about it. While she has a little more luck with her, because Kanaya's always been more inclined to openness and honesty than Rose ever has, without fail, she always ends up shuffling on the spot, looking incredibly uncomfortable. She says that it's a Human Thing and that Roxy would have More Success Enquiring On The Subject With Her Other Mother. Before Roxy ever has a chance to explain just how infuriating her other mother truly is, Kanaya's managed to seamlessly excuse herself, once again leaving her in the dark.
The metaphorical, ignorance-ridden dark, that is. Not the dark of space that she supposedly travelled through atop an oversized pebble.
It's all about knowing when to strike. She can't just go in blindly, bringing up the topic at the most inappropriate moments, because Rose only praises her for being confident enough to speak her mind under any circumstances. For a while, Roxy leaves the issue on the back-burner, deciding that she needs to formulate some sort of plan; she needs to come up with an argument that leaves her mother unable to even mumble out the word meteor. God, meteor, meteor, meteor. It doesn't even mean anything anymore.
But that's easier said than done. It's practically impossible to beat Rose in a contest of wordsmithery, because she's spent the last gazillion years scrawling out all of her stupid-amazing-flawless wizard novels by hand. There's no getting the better of her, and Roxy is convinced that at least half a dozen new words were added to the dictionary when her mother couldn't find one that expressly suited her purposes.
Maybe it's alright if Roxy never knows. Maybe it doesn't matter. After all, she has a loving family in a swanky house with a perpetually unlocked liquor cabinet, and there's no doubting that she belongs there. Biology can't be that important, and nagging, gnawing curiosity will fade away any day now.
Unfortunately, before Roxy's granted the opportunity to put such matters out of her mind for good, Uncle Dave drops by for one of his impromptu visits. Impromptu visits that Rose always seems prepared for ahead of time, and doesn't so much as bat an eyelid when he comes knocking on the front door at two in the morning. And even if they weren't expecting to not expect to expect him, it wouldn't really matter: they live in a huge, creepy (but immaculately well decorated) Gothic castle of a home, and there are spare rooms for all and sundry. Uncle Dave comes alone, this time, no Dirk and, thank god, no Lil' Cal, because apparently her cousin is too loved up with his new boyfriend to take the time to drop in on family.
It's the standard sort of visit. Dave takes her out for absurdly large milkshakes and asks her how her relentless thirst for knowledge is faring. The most frustrating thing is that Roxy knows Dave has the answers she wants, and so she tells him that she won't breathe a word of it if he shares a secret or two with her, wink wink.
He cringes and tells her to never do that again.
It's probably for the best, anyway. In spite of all the pointed looks Dave gives Rose and Kanaya alike, and the leading questions he asks whenever Roxy's in the room, she doesn't want to hear it from him. All she wants is for her mother to trust her enough to be able to handle the truth, to give her the opportunity to learn about herself, and the reasons somebody like Rose Lalonde wanted a child in the first place.
When Dave leaves three days later, because oh shit, he just remembered that he's supposed to be directing a movie, no big deal, Roxy decides that she's going to go for broke. She's going to be moving out in less than two months, done with high school, ready to move onto bigger and better things. She's not going to university, because all of the science-based courses available were far too rudimentary, and so her parents have been gracious enough to dip into the bottomless pit that is their bank account and put aside a little money in order for Roxy to start up her own lab. She's been tinkering with this great piece of technology lately that's going to allow her to transport items from one remote location to another with a touch of a button, and hell yeah it's going to be awesome. She's going to be twelve kinds of famous and independently wealthy before she's twenty-one.
And so, with her impending departure looming ever closer, it really feels as if it's now or never. She's got to get the information out of her mother before Rose makes arrangements to have her calls screened.
“You'd tell me how I wound up here if you knew, wouldn't you?” Roxy slurs to Frigglish, glass of vodka-lemonade swaying in her hand.
In actuality, it's nothing more than watered down lemonade. Rose recently replaced all of the vodka with water, which Roxy noticed immediately, and has since been pretending to be outrageously drunk; and Rose, she plays along as if she doesn't think all of the swaying and stumbling is for show, and tells her that she's not to get that shit-faced again, not while she's living under her roof.
Frigglish, as sympathetic as ever, miaows up at Roxy, before darting off her lap. She's had him and his sister Calmasis ever since she was a baby, and yet both cats are healthy and spry, as energetic as they were as kittens. It's like goddamn magic. Downing the last of her drink in one swig, hoping that there'll be some sort of inherent placebo-like courage found in the last few dregs, Roxy pulls herself to her feet, about to storm right down to her mother.
On the way down, she swoops low, petting Frigging atop his head. She doesn't do the same for Calmasis, because she's a cold-hearted bastard who would only rake her claws at her fingers, but Roxy loves her all the same.
Mother-number-two (who just so happens to be mother-number-one, when she's Roxy's intended target) is away on business, heading a fashion show in Paris or Milan or somewhere equally as glamorous and dreary. As such, Rose has confined herself to her favourite armchair in her favourite living room, curled up by a roaring fire as she sighs dramatically, chest heaving with every page she turns. By this point, Roxy has discerned that Rose is only putting on the display of long-suffering loneliness to torment her, ugh, because her parents are old and so in love and it's fucking embarrassing.
Regardless of how feigned Rose's heartbreak may be, because Roxy knows both of her mothers to be very practical, independent women who are perfectly capable of spending a dozen or two nights away from one another, Roxy uses it to her advantage. She heads down into the living room, hands clasped behind her back, feet swinging out around her as she takes wide steps, as if she's the picture-perfect daughter looking to spend a little quality time with her mother. All in the hope of cheering her up.
Rose doesn't even look up from her book. Separation has clearly caused too much agony for her to be expected to be aware of her surroundings. Roxy clears her throat, drops herself down into the opposite armchair, and then knocks her hip against the arm, trying to shuffle it closer to the fireplace. Their house is old and all stone, and its goddamn freezing by the time October rolls around.
“Mom,” she says, and Rose doesn't look up. “Mother. Put your stupid Harry Potter-for-adults down for half a second, because this is important. I've got something to say! Or you've got something that you should be saying, because it's time for those beans to spill all over the fancy rug mom bought you just because she felt like it. Tell me where I came from already! What's the deal? Artificial insemination? And hey, if so, how'd that work? Did you go to the non-money-dispensing bank, or did one of your guy friends flatten his male ego and get real friendly with a little plastic cup for you? Oh, fuck, don't tell me you did that thing where they cut the eggs out of your cold, inhospitable womb and then you pay some sucker a shitload of cash to carry your spawn inside of them. God. Or, hell—did you go about it the old fashioned way? Did you actually make a mistake, get knocked up, and decide to deal with the repercussions just to prove to yourself that you could?”
There's so much in that ramble that Roxy never wants to have to think about again.
Opposite her, Rose remains silent for what must amount to another three or four paragraphs, and then snaps the book shut in one hand. The clap of the pages hitting together and air being forced out from in between makes Roxy jump in her seat, and only then does Rose so much as look up at her.
“Roxy,” Rose says, endlessly patient. She even smiles, as distantly as she always does. “Darling. I think you're old enough to know the truth.”
Roxy's breath tangles up in her throat. This is what she's been waiting for ever since she was old enough to know that you need more than a floating rock to sail safely through the abyss of space. She can basically taste the truth coming towards her, and it tastes like a potent Martini, lacking any intrinsic ability to bestow a hangover on even the most unaccomplished drinker.
Rose places her book on the coffee table, and steeples her fingers.
She closes her eyes, momentarily, draws in a deep breath, and actually hesitates. Roxy's never known her mother to do that.
“You came from a meteor.”
Oh, for the love of— Roxy's on her feet, hands thrown in the air. Dammit all, she can't believe her mother. No, actually, she can believe her. She believes that Rose would be petty enough to get her hopes up and wordlessly promise her the truth, just so she could see her completely and utterly crushed under her heel. Roxy kicks the coffee table, fuming. It's a priceless antique that she's never given a shit about, and the only thing on her mind right now is absconding to suck the real vodka out of the drain she's certain Rose poured it down.
“Sit down,” Rose says, and maybe she'd been speaking before that, too, but Roxy's so far beyond being able to listen it's unreal. “Sit down, Roxy. You're making it increasingly more and more difficult to talk to you like an adult.”
Oh, Roxy will show her just how difficult she can make it. She bundles her hands into fists, turns on her heels, and storms out of the room.
Or she would do just that, if the whole of the room wasn't suddenly lit up by a lavender burst of something that definitely didn't originate from the fire place. Roxy yelps, jumps on the spot like the floorboards have suddenly been replaced by molten lava, and when she turns around to look at Rose, her eyes open so widely she's worried her eyeballs might just go ahead and topple out. Sitting with a rather dreary expression plastered across her face, Rose has one arm propped up on the arm of the chair; and from her fingertips, sparks of lavender fly out, casting her face in an unsettling glow.
Very, very quietly, Roxy sits back down.
“I've been telling you the truth ever since you were six years old, Roxy. You came from a meteor.”
Roxy finds it increasingly difficult to focus on what she's being told when Rose brushes her fingers together, causing the light to fade, and then claps her hands together. She effortlessly drags the coffee table that Roxy apparently sent flying halfway across the room back into place.
“Are you a witch?” Roxy blurts out, because oh god oh man oh god that would be so cool. That has to be it. It's the only logical explanation that her brilliant brain can process right now, and she always knew that there was something more to the way Rose always ended up blacked out in their family photos than faulty equipment. How many faulty cameras can there even be?
“No. Technically, I'm a Seer.”
“Oh my god, you're totally a witch,” Roxy says, bundling herself against the back of her armchair. She's gripping at the arms, nails raking across finely woven fabric, feet up on the seat. She then adds, in a high-pitched squeak, “My mom is totally a witch!”
Rose sighs, eyes rolling, and gives up pressing the whole Seer-issue for a moment.
“Yes, yes. And your other mother is a troll. I'm sorry to be the one to break it to you.”
What comes next is the unwelcome realisation that maybe, just maybe, Rose has been honest with her ever since she was old enough to understand the value truth holds. Roxy shuffles in her seat, barely able to contain her simultaneous confusion and excitement and the thought that, wow, it's absurdly self-indulgent and a little vain of her mother to spend her time writing so much about magical-folk when she herself is one.
Of course, once the initial shock wears off, Roxy doesn't take the sorcery at face value. It could be an elaborate prank, and one that she wouldn't put past her mother pulling. As such, she demands that Rose performs all kinds of feats that she thinks up on the spot, although Rose does draw the line at turning water into wine.
When Roxy finally manages to settle down a little, Rose tells her in no uncertain terms exactly how it was that an eighteen year-old psychology student came to be in the possession of a meteor-born baby, as well as a whole host of shithive insane powers. She speaks in a low, captivating voice, the same one she always used to read Roxy bedtime stories in; it's what's always made Roxy unconditionally love her work, in spite of how she may perceive her mother to act on a day-to-day basis.
Rose tells her how, once upon a time, Earth was only inhabited by humans. Roxy almost leaps out of her seat at this point, because that's ridiculous; trolls have been around for as long as humans have! Trying to hush her, Rose explains that history is easily rewritten by those who know how, and when she tries to explain how two universes collided, Roxy thrusts an accusatory finger her way, saying how it's completely scientifically unsound.
But eventually, Roxy cools her heels and really listens to her mother. And the funny thing is, so much of it is familiar. So much of it has been written into her stories that Roxy practically knows it all already; she just never considered the fact that it could be anywhere close to the truth, no matter how much she daydreamed about wizards and magic and that acceptance letter from Hogwarts being dropped down the chimney, complete with an apology for it being sent out so late.
Half a lifetime ago, when Rose was her age, the world fell to pieces. The world fell to pieces but there was a design wrapped up in it all, and along with her brother and their two best friends, Uncle John and Aunt Jade, they fought to maintain structure in their universe. A handful of the trolls whose universe had crash-landed into their own were compliant enough to eventually join forces with them, and after a great struggle, they managed to completely reset the mangled merge of a universe. The record was completely scratched, and in the new cosmos they created, humans and trolls learnt to live together as peacefully as humans had ever got along with their own kind.
It is, to be blunt, completely fucking unbelievable. There's still so much that Roxy doesn't understand, so many glaring gaps in Rose's story, and yet the only thing she can think to say is:
“Huh. So I really did come from a meteor. Like—you didn't want me, you just, bam! Falling rocks from space! You just had to deal with me.”
Rose tilts her head to the side, and smiles in a faint, watery way that's neither condescending nor particularly encouraging. Standing up, she closes the gap between them in a few quick strides, and then perches herself on the arm of Roxy's chair. She reaches out an arm, wrapping it around Roxy's shoulders, and without even thinking to protest, Roxy slumps against her side.
“There's something you need to understand, Roxy. I was eighteen when I found you. I was in college and I'd just saved the world, and I was utterly exhausted. All I wanted to do was return to my lectures and carry on writing my half-formed stories in journals I was never going to show anyone, due in a large part to the embarrassingly heavy-handed prose I was employing at the time. I had no idea how to care for a child, from a meteor or otherwise. Kanaya didn't have much more of an idea than I did, either, but she did more than help me out. She was your mother long before I cut out the self-antagonising bullshit and realised how much I cared for her.”
Roxy lets out a faint mmm of understanding, staring blankly into nothing. To her, it sounds very much as if her mother's confirming what's likely to have been her worst fear all along.
“But it was never like that with you. I didn't have to realise that much. It was painfully obvious from the moment I plucked you out from a smouldering crater.”
Sighing, Roxy wishes she knew where all this convoluted bullshit comes from, and why everything about her mother always has to be so over the top. Why couldn't she be like the kid of every other gay and/or interspecies couple and come from a test tube?
“Did you guys know that I came from a meteor?” Roxy asks, still painfully confounded. “Like, an actual meteor. Not some weird euphemism for adoption.”
Vriska cracks something between her teeth that Roxy strongly suspects used to belong to an overgrown insect, and then gives a great shrug.
“I thought all humans came from meteors,” she replies, not seeing what the big deal is, and Terezi elbows her in the side. “Ow, fuck! Watch what you're doing with those bony things.”
Roxy laughs a little as Terezi accidentally bumps into Vriska on her way from the oven to the counter. Not wanting to knock the tray of cookies out of Terezi's hands, she can't exactly retaliate. Vriska and Terezi might not have any of the answers she's looking for, but they provide a mindless distraction nonetheless.
Their house is well lived in, boots left on the worktop and chalk murals on every wall, and Roxy likes being there. Vriska and Terezi give her booze, sometimes, because she's a smart girl and she's going to get it from somewhere, anyway, and they even let her smoke trollbacco, every now and again. They're both ridiculous and fun-loving and sometimes just a little scary, and they're her family-away-from-family, when she needs a break from the usual Lalonde-Maryam household drama.
“Humans don't come from meteors, Vriska. We all know that they have absurd internal grub-creation facilities,” Terezi says, using a spatula to scoop cookies off the baking tray and onto a plate. Vriska rolls her eyes like she's heard it all a billion times before and hasn't taken any of it in yet, and Terezi thwacks her butt with the spatula, before leaning over to whisper something into Vriska's ear.
Vriska keeps her gaze fixed firmly on Roxy, expression slowly twisting, as Terezi explains something in what must be gruesome detail. Terezi finally steps away, looking proud of herself, and holds out a freshly baked cookie to Vriska. Lifting a hand, Vriska refuses it, apparently disastrously enlightened, and can only gawk at Roxy.
“I can't believe it's taken me eighteen years to appreciate how truly disgusting humans are,” she says, eyes still burrowing holes in Roxy's skull. “Urgh! No wonder your moms had you imported from space.”
Still grumbling under her breath, Vriska marches off to the living room, leaving Roxy to talk things over with Terezi. Terezi informs her that the whole space-issue means that Roxy has a lot of previously unimagined potential to unlock, and that it doesn't matter how she got here, as long as she arrived. She also adds on that Roxy can probably taste the colours of the cosmos and smell space dust in the air all around her, and Roxy decides for her own good to assume that it's some sort of extended metaphor to explain away her scientific prowess.
The talk with Terezi helps a little, and the cookies really do the trick. Roxy's still boggling over the fact that she's apparently comprised of the exact same genetic material her supposed grandmother was, through no small number of paradoxes, but she's not quite ready to go there yet. She helps Terezi decorate the cookies with bright red and green icing, even if Christmas is more than half a year away, and then opts to leave Terezi alone to enjoy the remainder of the tubes.
In the living room, Vriska gives her a slight nod from the sofa, signifying that the novel horrors of human anatomy haven't left her permanently traumatised, and Roxy hops over the side, slumping down next to her. Throwing an arm around her shoulders, Vriska tells her that she doesn't know what the hell to say to stop her from looking so downtrodden because she still knows fuck all about the increasingly complicated tangle of human relations, and Roxy just shrugs against her, saying it's fine. She doesn't expect there to be any clear cut answers, or for Vriska to have any of them.
After a moment, Vriska adds on that, hey, maybe it's for the best, because if Roxy was born in the normal way, she wouldn't have such a clusterfuck of dysfunctional family surrounding her.
Dirk says he figured out the meteor thing years ago, which Roxy takes to be utter bullshit. She's sure he's struggling with the truth just as much as she is, which is why they both agree to not talk about it with Jake and Jane, just yet. They'll find out sooner or later, Roxy's sure, but that knowledge shouldn't be forced upon them.
Dealing with the fact that her parents are some kind of heroes who saved two universes and created the current one is a lot to deal with. Roxy's disappointed to learn that they aren't simply two eccentric old women, far too fond of each other, who don't do anything more exciting than rescue an absurd number of stray cats. She's going to have to invent something seven shades of mind-blowing to outdo them here.
Rose, as true to form as ever, seems to think that their first conversation on the matter is the only one they need to undertake. She continues as if everything's the same as it's ever been from thereon out, under the illusion that she's been wholly truthful with Roxy for as long as she's been demanding answers. Nothing more needs to be said on the matter, as far as she's concerned, although Roxy's overflowing with questions. Most of them revolve around What the fuck? and a great deal of arm-flailing, but any day now Roxy is going to calm her tits and figure out where the hell to start.
Kanaya gets home a few days later, a week ahead of schedule. It doesn't immediately occur to Roxy that Rose has called her and requested that she return, because that would be too motherly and sensitive of Rose; instead, she just stomps down the stairs when she sees her pull up on the driveway, ready to accost her before Rose can get her stupid witchy hands on her.
“Mom!” she calls out, jumping down the last three stairs, but no, that's not stern enough. “Mother.”
In the process of carefully hanging up what looks to be a new jacket on the coat rack, Kanaya turns to her with a smile that's not deterred by the force of her words, infuriatingly easy to approach. Briefly, Roxy considers how screwed up she'd be if it had fallen to Rose alone to raise her.
“Yes, dear?” Kanaya asks, and before Roxy can sink her teeth into the meat of the conversation, her mother's pulling her into a hug, chin resting atop her head. “Oh, I'm so glad my tour was cut unexpectedly short, even if the price to pay was food poisoning on three of the models' part. I've missed you.”
“Uh, yeah, great,” Roxy says, doing her best to stay strong, to resist hugging back too much. She places her hands on Kanaya's shoulders, pushing herself back. “Look, there's something we need to talk about! Did you know that I'm from a meteor?”
“Yes,” Kanaya says without blinking, and steps out of her shoes. “I was there when your other mother discovered the crater which your mode of outer-orbital travel created upon impact. She surveyed the crash site, climbed down into the dusty crater, and picked you up in a manner I can only describe as being befitting of a fisherman who's hard efforts have only secured him a tattered old boot from the bottom of a treacherous lake. Needless to say, she was taken with you immediately.”
Roxy stamps a foot, growling under her breath, and doesn't even know why she's so angry. Like anyone with half a drop of appreciation for magic and science-fiction in their veins, all she's ever wanted is to be part of something extraordinary, something that sets her apart from the masses, but this is just too much for her. And she can't say that she misses being normal, because she never was normal; one of her mothers is a fantasy-fiction writing human and the other is a fashion-designing troll, and her aunts and uncles all have a thing or two to be said for them.
Storming in after Kanaya as she heads into the living room to seek out Rose, Roxy watches in silent horror as her mother perches herself on the edge of her other mother's armchair, says that she hopes she wasn't too miserable without her. Rose sighs in return, murmuring that she does wish Kanaya would find it within herself to make dinner. Roxy throws her arms in the arm, shouts out meteor baby!, but they're too busy moving in for a kiss to pay her any heed.
Disgusting. She doesn't want to see this, and she's going to need an entire bottle of gin to expunge the mere thought from her mind.
Dinner rolls around a few hours later. There are far too many dishes set out on the table, considering that Roxy was in the mood for greasy pizza, and as Kanaya tells them all about her latest travels, Rose hasn't committed herself to adding snarky remarks, quite yet. It's an annoying sort of peace that doesn't suit the family at all, and Roxy can't wait for her parents to start acting as if subtly constructed food-fights are somehow age-appropriate.
Frigglish hops up onto Roxy's lap at some point, and she slips him food under the table, reminding herself that she'd better take something up to Calmasis later, lest she get jealous.
When Rose makes the ketchup float out of the bottle, now able to openly use her magic, Kanaya comments offhandedly that it'd be a shame if she had to get up to fetch her chainsaw in order to saw out any specks that stain the tabletop. Roxy promptly realises that she honestly can't comprehend fitting into this family if she wasn't imported via meteor. Chin cradled in her palms, she watches as Kanaya begins flicking croutons off the edge of her plate, and Rose continues complimenting her on the meal, even as they hit her square in the face. Groaning something about meteors, Roxy slumps forward, forehead hitting the tabletop.
Kanaya reaches across, patting her on the back at the same time Rose does, and says that at least they didn't question her intelligence and try sating her curiosity with tales about storks.