You must have fallen asleep properly at some point because the next thing you’re consciously aware of is someone sitting on the edge of your bed and bending over you, and your world is full of that weird awesome stuff he uses on his hair, it’s like roses but sharper, you don’t even know how to describe it. You’d been thinking things. What had you been thinking? You remember it being miserable but you’re not at all sure of the details.
“Sol,” he’s saying. “Hey, Sol. Wake up. I brought you something.”
Strider had come by and done his cute thing.
You are aware of the heaviness of your body, filling up your consciousness like water in a sack. Your skull hurts. You think you’re aware of every single bone in your head, each of them, where they stick together and rub against each other, and that vault of bone is way too tight for your bursting brain, jesus that feels terrible.
“Nngh,” you say.
Eridan rests the back of his hand against your cheek and takes it away again and says some naughty words and you look up at him: he’s pink with sun, hair tousled, he looks alive in a way you don’t really associate with him.
“Fuck, Sol, you’re burnin up. You coulda called me.”
What the actual fuck, no of course you couldn’t. hey ED iim not feeliin 2o great, why dont you throw over whatever awe2ome 2hiit youre doiing and come fu22 over my 2tupiid 2elf, you don’t think. You just let your eyes close: he’ll get bored with this and go away.
He doesn’t get bored with this and go away. Well, he goes away, but he’s back soon with...ngh, cold water, that’s too cold, it hurts, you make undignified little mewling noises and try to get away from it but he’s implacable and he undoes your shirt to get at your chest and fuck that is cold, that is terribly cold, you struggle, but your thoughts seem to be coming together with a little more ease.
“Sol,” he’s saying. “Sol, you’re fuckin scarin me, stop zonin out and just talk okay?”
“‘m sorry.” Your voice seems to be coming from somebody else, and you’re almost too tired to care.
“Sorry about what?” He’s leaning over you, fuck, that sharp rose smell is closer. The coldness goes away, comes back, as he wrings out the cloth again.
“Everything,” you say. “Fuck.”
“Sol. Seriously. What the hell are you even talkin about.”
“You and Lalonde. Never meant to...to make things weird,” you say. “Must’ve pissed Strider off. He came and laid all this bullshit on me about...her liking girls.”
“Huh?” Eridan is stroking your gross hair out of your face. You wish he’d stop. You wish he’d just go.
“Yeah. I dunno, man. Fucked up.”
“Like girls, I mean. Sol, what the hell. You’re really freakin me out here, you’re not makin sense, I’m gonna get the RA--”
You manage to find his hand with one of yours. “What?”
“Oh,” he says, and there’s something in his voice you haven’t heard before. “Oh. Sol. You thought we were.....like...together?”
“Uh, yes. Like painfully obvious. Just...just....I want to sleep, ED. Let me sleep, okay?”
“Two things,” he says, and takes the coldness away and damn that was nice, you’d liked that. Then he’s touching you and you just have no idea what to think. Cool fingers cup your face, slide over your gross stubbly jaw. “One. Rose and I are just friends. Completely awesome friends, like the best of possible awesomeness in terms of friendship quotient, shit is off the charts. Two, quit callin me Erectile Dysfunction or I will flip off the fuckin handle and not leave a forwardin address.”
You blink up at him, trying to focus without your glasses: lost cause. Presumably he reads in your expression whatever you think you’re trying to convey because he leans down and he
he kisses you
he kisses you
and you shake all over in a terrible helpless tremble and then he’s cursing and wriggling onto the bed beside you and wrapping you up in his arms, cradling your hot face against his shoulder, and you try to make your arms work and they sort of clumsily wrap around him and cling and oh god, oh god, oh god, you think your skull might really burst but this time you do not think you would actually mind.
“Sol,” he’s saying again. “Fuck. I didn’t...I thought...I thought you knew me and Rose weren’t like...a thing. Fuck. Did you...have you....”
You press your face against him, not caring how much your head hurts, not caring how dizzy you feel because this is Eridan holding you and you are pretty sure you’re totally fucking zoned out and having happy dreams. “Fell stupidly for you like...last week sometime,” you say against him. God he smells good. “Dumb of me. Sorry.”
“Fuck damn everything will you stop saying sorry.” He holds you like you’re worth something. “You were like....you got me through that fuck-awful night, I, nobody ever, I just, Sol. You didn’t even know.”
Slowly you’re becoming aware that you’re not the only one who’s been a dipshit. Oh.
Wait, this is real?
You wriggle against him until you can look him in the face, your vision hazy and unfocused but good enough at close range, and that’s him, yeah, purple eyes and dumbass hair and those big eyebrows he sculpts with a little stiff brush before going out each night.
“Sol,” he says. “Listen to me, okay? I am fuckin stupid for you. I am so stupid it’s not even funny.”
“Oh,” you say aloud, and then you bury your face in his shoulder and you just shake as if you are coming apart.
Some little time later he’s got you a lot more comfortably settled, mostly because he’s sitting on your bed with you cradled against him, he makes the best pillow ever. He says you’re still too hot but your temperature is beginning to go down with the cold compresses and the ibuprofen, and you don’t really give a shit, you just want him not to go away. You can feel his heartbeat through your back, your skin hot and slightly moist against his, and he’s pulled the sheets up over you both, his hand pleasantly cool where it lies flat against your chest.
“Tell me about the theater parties,” you say, drowsily. Your head hurts a lot less now.
He’s stroking your hair. You’re pretty sure your hair is gross as fuck, but he doesn’t seem to care. “I will. All the bits of them. But I did bring you somethin, Sol. You gonna be okay while I go up to the kitchen for a minute?”
You twist but fail to look him in the eye, and he just kisses the top of your head he kisses the top of your head what the fuck when are you going to wake up. “Mmh,” you essay.
“Good enough for me.” He gives you a little squeeze and wriggles out from behind you, and you make a small undignified noise of loss and reach for his hand. “--Sol, hey, it’s okay. I’m not gonna be gone long.”
You’re aware that you are currently a truly pathetic piece of shit, but Eridan Ampora is smiling down at you with his crazy purple eyes and that makes the world a much nicer place. You snuggle back against the pillows and allow him to free himself from your grip.
As soon as he’s gone you hurt all over again and you can just hear that little voice in the back of your head start up as if it’s been on mute all the time he was there: this is bullshit, this is not happening, he’s just fucking with you, this is all a gigantic prank, you’re dreaming, none of this is real.
Fuck you, little voice, you think, and wrap your arms around yourself. You can still smell that sharp-rose scent of him; your shirt is still undone and damp with the cloths he’d pressed to your skin. You hug yourself tight and wriggle down under your covers and the next thing you know the light’s changed, it’s not that actinic glow you get from coily fluorescent fake lightbulbs like in your lamp, it’s...it’s warm and flickering and there’s a lovely familiar smell in the room and...
“Budge over,” he’s saying, and you obey, and he clambers into bed beside you and settles you against him comfortably, just like before, and you realize that the wonderful flickery light and the warm smell are candles. Beeswax candles. And he reaches over to the dresser you use for a nightstand and brings over a big comfortably-handled mug of something.
“After we went churchyarding I made Rose and Kan drive me down the road to that pick your own farm thing,” he’s saying. Whatever’s in the mug smells amazing, sharp and sweet and heavy with the tang of honey. “They have beehives there. And honey and beeswax and stuff. I know you kind of have a thing for bees.”
You’d let him have some of your heather honey for his tea once or twice. You didn’t know he’d even noticed that it was a thing.
“So yeah, I picked up some candles. And this, they said it was the best honey for stuff like tea for people who were sick. It’s buckwheat honey, and Kan was a fuckin sweetheart and sprang for the brandy.”
You twist around to try to look up at him, but he rests his chin on the top of your head. “Just try it.”
You try it.
Oh God. It’s....okay, you can identify lemon somewhere in there and the fierce sweetness of the honey, and the spreading warmth of brandy--and there’s something else, too, something herbal you don’t recognize. It makes you feel properly warm from the inside out the way nothing has for a couple days now, and you make a dumb little noise and hug the cup against you, breathing in the steam. Eridan chuckles against your back and nuzzles you. “It’s okay?”
“‘s wonderful,” you tell him. “Thank you. Oh, fuck. Thank you so much.”
“Shh. You just drink up and get better, Sol. We got stuff to do.”
Your chest hurts, but in a rather lovely way, and while you can’t quite catch your breath you don’t actually mind.
You finish the mug and you’re so sleepy you don’t even protest too volubly when he wriggles out of your bed and pulls the covers up around you properly. “Shh,” he says. “Only sleep now. I’m around, just sing out if you want something.”
You want everything but right now you’re okay with sleep, and you curl up in a ball and you drift almost immediately. Somewhere you can hear the door opening, him talking to people, stuff happening, but you just straight-up do not give a shit. The next thing you know it’s morning.
He’s back from the showers already, his hair towel-dried and sticking out all over the place as he settles on the edge of your bed and reaches down to run his fingertips down your cheek. You smile hazily up at him. “How’re you feelin?”
“Better,” you say. You think it’s true. You’re very very hazy, but you hurt less.
“You mean that?” he asks.
You try and push yourself upright and find that you totally can and that your head only clangs a bit in protest. “Think so?”
“Awesome.” He leans in and kisses your forehead and your whole chest feels like it’s caved in, in the best way. “You feel like you might be up to a car ride and a walk of like maybe a hundred yards?”
You smile stupidly up at him. “I can probably handle that shit.”
“Good. That’s what I like to hear. Okay, first you are hitting the showers, Sol, I love you dearly but you are not so fresh right at the moment.”
You have to laugh and then his words catch up with you and you swallow. Right, he’s using it as a cute phrase, he doesn’t really mean it.
He doesn’t notice your hesitation, and you slither out of bed and grab a towel, swaying only a little bit--jesus fuck you feel high, this is so weird--and apparently he’s confident enough in your ability to not fall over that he doesn’t shepherd you to the bathroom. That’s kind of awesome.
Strider’s in there when you drift in and he looks at you and you can tell he’s looking at you despite his shades, and then he does that weird thing you don’t think is real where he looks over them at you and his eyes are red, like evil vampire red. Then he pushes the shades back up on his nose and he gives you a single coolkid nod, and you feel absurdly vindicated.
It’s...yeah, okay, it’s nice to be clean and you lean against the shower wall and you let the hot water warm you all the way up before you make your drippy way back to your room. Eridan’s already dressed and he fusses at you as soon as you get in the door, you should dry your hair properly before you go walkin around, you’ll catch cold on top a whatever you got already, jeez, Sol, and you just let him fuss. He puts stuff in your hair, and you’re almost about to protest at that but you know what, what the fuck, it makes him happy, who cares.
You get dressed. You’re still feeling somewhat shaky and feverish but you definitely would rather be up and about than lying in bed waiting for him to come back and you just hope to fuck you don’t do anything truly stupid like fall over.
He seems to read your mind, and he wraps one of his own jackets around your shoulders and kisses your forehead. “We’re drivin’ Kan’s car.”
“Aw man,” you protest.
“No aw man. You can’t drive mine right now and I sure as hell can’t drive mine. You’re gonna have to teach me, you know.”
He looks earnestly at you and you can’t help wrapping your arms around his neck and kissing him inexpertly but desperately--and he squeaks and just after a moment holds you tight. Okay. That could’ve gone worse.
He lets you kiss him--hell, he kisses back--but you have other things to do than this nonsense, and you don’t protest when after a little wonderful interlude he withdraws to get his own coat on and his derpy-ass manpurse. You are aware that you are smiling the stupidest of smiles.