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In Full Clarity

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When you wake up at the ridiculous hour of eight in the morning he’s back, or at least something is occupying his black-and-violet regal performance of a bed. Whoever it is sleeps curled tightly on their side with the covers pulled almost completely over them, back to the wall. You are reminded of woodlice.

Well. You got a whole day of utter annoying bullshit to evade. First priority is to get the fuck off campus and find somewhere that will sell you the stuff on which you subsist, because you are betting their excuse for a dining hall does not run to cigarettes and Monster.

(That’s another thing. They’re building a new campus center, having demolished the old one, and for the next year and a half you get to eat your meals and visit various offices in this gigantic fucking green-and-white tent thing. It is the size of a football field and it is horrible. You resolved at once to eat as few meals as possible in there, which isn’t such a big deal for you on account of you mostly live on shitty junk food and caffeine, with the occasional order of Chinese or something when you’re feeling extra tired and shivery. Now that your dads aren’t watching you, nobody is likely to nag, which is a kind of awesome feeling. You kind of want to know how long you can actually go without eating, just for science.)

You sniff yourself and think meh, another day’s fine without a shower, it’s not like you sweat much in any case, and change into battered jeans and a T-shirt. The shit you wear to sleep can totally be worn to sleep for the rest of the week, so you toss your ragged sweatpants and Bowie shirt onto your unmade bed and hop around looking for your other goddamn sock.

The internet isn’t doing anything interesting. You’ve checked your various blogs and social media shit, flicked through your daily roll of sites to catch up on, and all that’s new is that some enterprising soul has finally taken the initiative to put together a trojan that takes advantage of Apple’s Java vulnerability. Fucking finally. That whole smug art-douchery we’re-immune-to-viruses bullshit has always irritated you.

That done, you take your phone off the charger and put it in your pocket, and then you go and you talk to Ampora’s fish. “Hey, Alex, or are you Genghis? No, fuck, you’re Tamburlaine, Genghis is that dude with the whiskery shit on his chin. You guys are too cute. I just want you to know that. You are just the most adorable little world conquerors I have ever seen.”

They don’t seem particularly fazed. You realize after a moment that you are waiting for your asshole roommate to wake up, and then you remember why.

“Hey, Ampora.”

Nothing.

“Ampora?”

“Nrrrgh.”

“Ampora, you’re rich, right? You got a car on campus?”

“Nrrgh.” But there’s a shifting of black sheets and an intensely amusing example of bedhead reveals itself. The carefully gelled construction of yesterday has been slept on very hard, and is now sort of canted to one side, sticking out at about twenty degrees from horizontal.

Also he sleeps in his contacts. What the hell, dude.

“Wake up, you gotta go get oriented. Do you have a car?”

“...yeah,” he says, rubbing at his face. Christ he looks younger than he has to be. “Why?”

“Can I borrow it? Gotta go pick up some stuff from town.”

That wakes him up in a hurry and one hand flails around on the dresser he’s using as a nightstand, knocking over his water bottle before locating his glasses. Okay, so he sleeps in his contacts that don’t do anything. “What? What the fuck, Captor, why would I ever let you borrow my car?”

D’aww, he’s gone back to calling you by your last name, it’s like you’re kiddywinks in some Brit boarding school. “Cause I’m asking you nicely? Look, I’ll say please.”

You don’t actually expect him to give you the keys. You are just enjoying fucking with him, because fucking with jerks first thing in the morning is way better than breakfast.

“No. Absolutely not. What the hell, I don’t even know you and you’re a jackass, why should I trust you with my car? That thing’s fuckin’ valuable. Besides you said there’s orientation shit.”

“No, I said you have orientation shit. I have no intention of being oriented any more than I am right now. So either tell me where the keys are or get up and go be a good little do-bee for our giant RA.”

Eridan groans again and rubs at his face. He looks pale. “Fuck you, Captor. Fuck you so hard.”

“We barely even know each other, jeez. You come on way too strong, it’s like really offputting, dude.”

That earns you a look of absolute loathing, and you grin. God, pushing this asshole’s buttons is like playing Whack-a-Mole. It’s like hot liquid glee. “I mean if you really feel that way after just such a short acqu--”

He throws a pillow at you. He actually throws a pillow at you. He has a bunch of them and they’re all in fancy pillowcases--why the fuck would one guy need that many, jesus christ, he’s practically sleeping sitting up--and oh but this one has little purple ribbons at the corners. How sweet. “I’m keeping this,” you tell him, and toss it on your desk chair. “Actually you know what, we should just draw a big line down the middle of the room like in those shitty middle-school young adult books.”

Fuck you,” he says and pulls the covers over his head for a minute or two before sighing the world’s most put-upon sigh and emerging. He is wearing, yes, purple silk pajamas. You are so very unsurprised.

“Man, where do you even get that shit? Do you shop at International Ma...wait, you totally shop at International Male, don’t you, Ampora? Purple fucking satin. That shit is golden, it’s going right on my blog--”

He’s not glaring at you like he ought to be. He’s not doing anything at all other than looking super preoccupied, one hand cupped, the other round his water bottle. After a moment he swallows with obvious effort, and then tips whatever’s in his cupped hand into his mouth, following it with water and another conscious swallow. Fuck, he must be hungover, you think, and you mentally applaud him for getting wasted the very first night at the same time as you wonder if he’s gonna hurl all over the floor.

The moment passes and he pads over to his closet and retrieves a purple-and-black dressing-gown with EA embroidered on the pocket. “First and foremost fuck you, Captor, in a completely platonic sense. You are a jackass and I’m gonna fuckin transfer the hell outta here soon as physically possible, also you should get checked out cause I think you may be somewhat wrong in the head.”

“Oh I am,” you assure him. “Wanna see my meds?”

The eyes widen, then narrow. “No. Shit, you’re an actual lunatic, even more fuckin reason for me to beg Res Life to reconsider. Second a all fuck you. Third a all I’m gonna have a fuckin shower and if you want to have any shred of a chance a gettin to ride into town you better fuckin shut your face.”

You beam at him. Suddenly he’s adorable in the most annoying kind of way. You’re aware that you hate him, but this is kind of cute--still, it’ll be a relief when Res Life moves him and you get a weenieburger who doesn’t do shit like watch horrible anime with the volume all the way up or wear a fucking cape.

When he’s gone, you mosey over and have a look at his dresser. There’s, hey, check that shit out, there’s an amber plastic prescription bottle with his name on it. Surely princeling-boy couldn’t also be fucked in the head? That might be far too much synchronicity.

You don’t recognize the name of the drug and so you put the bottle down and go back to your computer to look it up, but since you last checked some shit has gone down on one of the boards you frequent and you have to track back to the beginning of the argument in order to figure out who is wrong on the internet.

It takes him a ridiculously long time to get done with the shower. When he comes back, his little basket-crate of bath stuff hooked over one arm like a fifties housewife, his hair is already gelled and sculpted into position. He still has to do his eyeliner and sort out his eyebrows but he’s closer to the Eridan you’d met yesterday, the one who’d stood in the doorway watching your dad hug you and said “Ahem” out loud.

“You fall in?”

“You’re not going to shower?”

“Eh,” you say. “Tomorrow’s fine.”

“You are disgusting,” he tells you and sweeps around behind his wardrobe door. Bits of him appear and disappear as he presumably gets out of the dressing-gown and puts on his clothes; you don’t watch. By now the hall is alive with the sound of freshmen scuttling to be sociable, well-adjusted and oriented. You peer out through the peephole.

“And the coast is clear. They’re probably scuttling to go meet up at the tent thing for that lecture. Hurry, before Giant RA comes to do checks.”

Eridan pokes his head out from behind the wardrobe door. “What do you mean checks?”

“When they come round every half hour or whatever to make sure you’re...”

Fuck.

“Never mind, Ampora,” you say, and even you can tell it’s a shitty comeback. He doesn’t need to know about the familiar rhythm of footsteps in the hall outside: step step step turn-click as the door opens, ‘checks,’ turn-click, step step step, repeat every fifteen minutes if you’ve done something particularly crazy in the recent past. You scowl behind your shades and write a particularly scathing response to some dipshit’s post.

Miraculously he doesn’t push his advantage, and in another twenty minutes he’s shrugging into a charcoal-grey jacket that he makes sure flashes the Armani label as he puts it on. You have no actual metrics for what that means in terms of monetary value but at a conservative estimate you’re pretty sure that coat could buy your gaming rig at least twice, and you swallow back pure vibrant envious loathing.

Douche.

“I’m only doin this because I need to go into town,” he says. “You taggin along is just me bein a awesome an bighearted person, okay? Also you fuckin suck and I hate your music.”

You just flip up your hood and slouch along beside him, making every effort to look as poor and shabby as you possibly can.

~

His car is...fuck. His car is nice. It’s not purple, for one thing, you are floored at that, you hadn’t thought he would be seen dead in anything that wasn’t the vibrant hue of Manischewitz wine; it’s gold, a sort of pale gold. And it’s a Mercedes. You don’t know the models or anything, but it’s a sleek little sports car and you are wondering how long it will take before somebody keys it on general principles.

It’s also a stick. Which turns out to be hilarious. Maybe it’s just the audience, but Eridan fucking sucks at driving stick. You almost stall twice before you’re even out of the goddamn parking lot and he tries to start in third when you’re turning onto the main access road. It’s only because he leans on the gas super hard, tach dancing at like 3000, that you even get moving, and you flick a little glance over at him behind your shades. He’s....fuck, you wonder how often he’s even driven before. The knuckles on the shifter knob are white between rings and he has that set intent look on his face of somebody who is sphincter-clenchingly petrified.

“Dude,” you say, stopped at a traffic light.

“What?”

“Want me to drive? This is kind of an annoying road.”

You are totally unprepared for the look of absolute vitriolic furious loathing he turns on you. He takes in a deep breath to presumably unleash a tirade of abuse but just then the light turns and the cars behind you honk, and he has to take his attention off you and get the car moving without stalling or grinding the gears.

You feel almost bad, and look away, watching the road instead.

When you get to Target he gets out without a word and slams his door, stalking away without waiting for you. Jesus, you must’ve got him good. After a couple of moments you get out too and the faint beep as the locks engage is the only intimation he’s even aware of what you’re doing.

You catch up with him inside the store. “Ampora--”

“Shut the fuck up,” he says, and his accent is stronger than ever. “Just don’t say a goddamn word.”

Well. Okay then. You shrug, flip him off behind his back, and slope after him with your hands in your hoodie pocket and your deadpan expression firmly pastede on yay.

He goes straight for the health-and-beauty section and tosses several boxes into his shopping-basket, without bothering to check if you’re there; you scan the shelves he’s raided. Um. Pepto-Bismol, Dramamine Less Drowsy, Zantac.

Guy must be feeling rougher than you thought. Where the fuck had he even got to last night and who’d gotten him wasted?

You decide not to ask him just at the present moment, and silently follow, scooping what you want off the shelves as you go. Hell yeah, tiny reese’s cups. Hell fucking yeah, you are the best of candy, there is no hope of beating you in a candy-off except when those fucking Guylian hazelnut chocolate things get involved and there is no way Target carries those.

Also Monster is on sale. Good. Serendipity. And Flaming Hot Cheetos.

You trail behind Ampora and his basketful of stomach remedies, and when the cashier asks if your orders are together you just shake your head and stick a divider down between them. When it’s your turn you ask for a carton of Camel Lights and she has to get a supervisor over and Ampora is sitting on a bench waiting for you and looking progressively more and more furious with the universe. You’re actually wondering if you have enough to get a cab back to campus if he decides to just leave you there.

Fortunately for everyone, he doesn’t, and you follow him back out to the car with your bags heavily loaded with chemicals and carcinogens. In a rare act of tact and sweet outgoing friendly kindness you don’t offer to drive again, and just stare out the window as he judders and grinds and hisses under his breath, feeling sorry for the poor goddamn Mercedes--and yeah, okay, maybe a tiny bit for this douchebag who can’t admit he sucks at something. What is he, fourteen?

~

When you get back to the dorm it’s deserted, everyone presumably off frolicking in the throes of orientation, and Ampora only pauses to open a couple of the boxes of medicine and swallow a handful of pills before grabbing his shitty laptop and his shitty manpurse/messenger bag and stalking right back out the door again.

Welp.