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In Full Clarity

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You weren’t sure what to expect, but it turns out the mysterious Kanaya drives a very boring car indeed. It’s a dark green Camry. Practical. Sensible. What the hell does someone like that have to do with people like Rose Lalonde and Eridan Ampora?

Wait, no, you can actually picture this. That much theatrical swag needs someone level-headed to stop it imploding in a vast euphoric clusterfuck of stupid clothes and pretension. You kind of feel like Kanaya Maryam must put up with a lot.

Mostly you feel like Eridan’s coat is wonderfully comfortable and it smells like him, which is kind of like being wrapped up in his arms and that is fucking awesome. “--Where are we going?" you finally think to ask him when he’s done fucking with the mirrors and moving the seat back and actually gets the car started.

“It’s a surprise," he tells you, and grins. “But I think you’re gonna like it."

The car smells like cloves, which is kind of a thing you’re coming to associate with good stuff rather than awful purple letters you can’t read. Which reminds you. “What was all that stuff you wrote to Rose? With your not-quill-pen?"

The tips of his ears go pink. He’s still wearing those little amethyst studs; they catch and hold the light like tiny purple stars. “Aw, jeez, Sol. Fuckin embarrassin was what all that was. Kinda had to do with you."

“Huh?"

“Well, after Rose turned out to be the best goddamn person ever and didn’t fuckin hate me after the spectacle I made a myself at her party, I was pretty sure I was in serious love. Like, epic love for the ages, we’d get married and have lots a purple eyed little babies--shut up, Sol, I told you this was embarrassin."

You are snickering and you can’t help it and you huddle into his coat and just grin like an idiot. “Go on."

“Fuck you. So she was real sweet in her letter about the whole uh-no-you’re-on-the-wrong-track-there bit, didn’t make me feel like an asshole about it, and then she kinda blew my mind cause she asked about you. Like, you know those dumb visual puzzle things where it’s a vase but actually that’s just the space between two faces, you don’t see it until bam suddenly there it is and you can’t unsee that shit."

You look over at him. His ears are still pink. “I was...uh, I was pretty out a it at the time, I think that was about when I started rockin the triple digits, so maybe I wasn’t as magnificently succinct and clear in my writin as I normally am." He signals and turns onto the main county road heading away from town. “Cue four fuckin pages a blitherin. In purple."

“I wanna read that letter," you tell him.

“Hell to the fuck no."

“I’m gonna read that letter."

“I refer you to my previous statement." Where the hell are you going? You don’t recognize any obvious signs that might suggest a logical destination. “The basic gist a it was pretty much ‘help i think i actually have all these feels for my weird-ass roomie what the fuck do i even do, please advise cause you are like this awesome queen a stylish womanity who knows everythin’."

You squeak. He glances over at you, then back at the road: you can tell he’s not super comfortable with driving even when he doesn’t have to fuck with gears and clutches. It’s kind of adorable.

“So yeah, then I pulled that terminally unsmooth shit with the talkin crazy in my sleep and you were all disgustingly awesome and took care a me and when I woke up Rose was there and you were gone. Kinda freaked out, actually. I figured you’d had enough a my shit, but she was all like ‘you’re jumpin to conclusions Eridan, stop jumpin to conclusions, it don’t suit you.’"

You think back. You’d been so tired and so fucking disheartened and he had scared you pretty badly with his disconnected rambling, and you’d gone off to chill with KK and GZ and you didn’t answer any of his texts until that afternoon.

And when you got back you’d had that seriously awkward conversation with him about the Facility, and that was fucked up, and then Lalonde had come back with his stupid dry-cleaning and you’d absconded out of there and talked to AA for a while, and then classes had started and you’d been just so completely at a loss as to how to deal with him.

“Anyway I was pretty sure you were totes Not Interested but I couldn’t really help bein all dumb about it and I didn’t know you were even sick, Sol, you are the most stoic asshole I ever met in all my life, jesus. Don’t do that shit again, by the way." He looks over at you again, and then he’s turning off the main road on a little wiggly drive. “Fuckin unconscionable."

“I promise I’ll keep you updated every time I feel so much as a sniffle. --Where are you taking me? Cause this is like the part of the movie with shallow graves in it."

Eridan snort-laughs a totally inelegant giggle. “Fuck, you caught me, I’m gonna murder you and make off with all your sweet-ass computer shit, that’s what this whole thing is about. Shut up, dude, we’re almost there."

You shut up, but the thought of Eridan being remotely insecure about his chances with you is enough to make your chest hurt in the most wonderful way. Jesus, the pair of you are such utter fuckwits it beggars belief.

He parks the car at the end of the gravel drive; there’s a path heading into the woods, all around you you can hear the little noises of the world getting on with the business of being alive. It’s almost as soothing as the miracle hippie hut, in a less constructed sort of way.

You get out and Eridan’s there with an arm around you, which you don’t strictly need for steadying purposes but which you’re very glad of nonetheless, and together you walk down the path and it’s not far at all before you reach a set of wooden steps that leads sharply down a hill and then you are looking at a god damn wonderland.

You’re at the rim of one of the gorges that wriggle all over this part of the state, nothing like as huge or majestic as the ones at Cornell or Watkins Glen, but beautiful nonetheless, all wet grey stone and clear deep blue-green water and bright splashes of vivid green where moss and ferns sprout from cracks and angles in the rock. The steps curve down the side to a little sort of grassy clearing overlooking the waterfalls and kettleholes, glowing in the sunlight. It’s lovely. It’s beyond lovely.

Eridan turns to you and there’s this uncertainty in his eyes you don’t think you’ve ever seen in them before. “Rose showed me this place. They come here sometimes to chill out and like rehearse shit or whatever. I thought it was kinda neat, you might like to see it."

You can actually tell he’s wondering if you like it, and hey, when did you actually get remotely okay at reading other people’s emotions, that shit is not something you’re widely known for. And you almost let the silence go on too long before you wrap your arms around his neck and you just up and goddamn kiss him.

“--whoa," he says when you both stop to breathe. “I’m guessin that’s a ‘yes, Eridan, I approve of this as the destination for my first date with you.’"

“Actually it was more of a shut up and do that again," you inform him, and he shuts up and he does that again.

Some little time later you’re sitting in his lap in the sunlit glade, his arms around you, his hands in yours, playing with his rings. They’re not all amethyst, a couple of them are a deeper redder purple, probably garnet. Or no, actually. No, with the Mercedes and everything you are betting this one right here is an actual ruby. His chin is resting on your shoulder, looking down at your fingers.

“What are you thinkin?" he asks. You can feel his voice as well as hear it, where his chest and your back touch.

“Not a hell of a lot," you say, accurately. “Kind of vaguely wondering where you got all these."

“I collect ‘em. Big surprise, I know. This one’s from Germany, this one’s like a legitimate antique, Fef gave me this one, half the others I just pick up at thrift stores." You’re still playing with them, tilting his hands this way and that to let the light dance in the stones. You like sparkly shit, you’re kind of like a magpie in that regard. You want to give him jewels, which is the dumbest thing you’ve ever wanted.

He kisses your neck. “You don’t go in for the accessorized look, I noticed."

“Never really thought about it, I guess. I got my ears pierced when I was like fourteen cause, well, fourteen, but I got tired of wearing safety pins in them after a couple weeks."

“Fuck, Sol, you are hardcore," he says, and hugs you against him. “Little adorable fuckin punk Sollux Captor. I can totally not picture this at all."

“Dude, I totally rocked the punk thing. My hair was two different colors and everything."

“Statement retracted, I can picture this as a matter a fact. You should do that again, it’d rock."

“Pff. Who’s got time to fuck around with bleach and dye and shit like that?"

“Me."

“Other than you. Besides, one douchetastic dye job is enough for this relationship."

“You love my purple hair," he says comfortably. “I like the sound a that. Relationship. All solid and shit."

“I love your stupid goddamn purple hair." You lace your fingers back with his and lean against his chest. “And if all this is just some fever dream and you’re not real, don’t tell me, okay? Just let me savor the moment."

Eridan laughs, breath warm against your neck. “Jesus fuck I am so stupid for you, Sol. It is epic how retarded I am."

“Nuh-uh," you say, “I’m the one who’s been carrying a hopeless dumbass torch for like, um, how long have we even known one another?"

“Two weeks." Fuck, it sounds crazy. “Feels like a lot longer, doesn’t it?"

“Feels like forever."

He tightens his arms around you. “The good kind a forever, right?"

“Definitely the good kind."

You don’t say anything further because there isn’t anything that needs to be said, right now, it’s pretty much perfect just sitting here in the warmth of the sun and feeling his heartbeat, his breathing, against your own. You don’t exactly know what to call this whole mess of feelings but you think that’s because it has something to do with peace or maybe contentment and those are both states of mind you are deeply unfamiliar with.

You’re almost asleep when his phone buzzes and he swears and fumbles in his pocket. “Sol, despite the profound depth a my feelins for you my ass has gone completely numb, do me a favor and move?"

Sleepy snicker. You uncurl from him and rearrange yourself to lie on your back on the grass and look up at the clouds drifting by. You wonder what time it is.

Eridan is texting. You think absently that you should maybe send Feferi Peixes a message saying that she is kind of awesome and you owe her a big fat debt of gratitude. This would require you to do something energetic like find your own phone and then type stuff, so you put it on the back burner for now.

He tucks the phone back in his pocket (you think maybe its purple case should have sparkly things on it too, just for the hell of it) and makes a face. “Sorry, Sol, we gotta get a move on. Kan wants her car back, the audacity, it’s blowin my mind."

“How dare she," you say, drowsily. “Goddamn unreasonable women."

“Fuckin tell me about it." You sit up and he gives you a hand to get to your feet: yeah, you’re still a little off, but you’re feeling a lot better for a number of reasons. He gives you a searching look. “You doing okay?"

You nod, and he kisses you, which is lovely and unexpected. You think this is one of those perfect moments that don’t actually happen in real life, and hope real life hasn’t noticed. And you have got to get him happier with that sweet-ass car of his, because independence is a fine goddamn thing and you would really rather just stay here for the rest of the day.

(How come he has a manual sports car when he isn’t even into driving?)

(What is that shit he uses on his hair? It comes in an orange bottle and it smells so good you don’t even know what the fuck.)

(Why was he in the mental hospital?)

(How are you ever going to be able to concentrate on classes when all the time you are thinking things like what is that shit he uses on his hair?)

~

-- twinArmageddons (TA) began pestering apocalypseArisen (AA) ! --

TA: hey aa 2orry for not liike returniing your me22age2
TA: iit2 been kiinda crazy round here recently
TA: iim doiing better though
AA: g00d! im glad t0 hear it. y0u seemed really d0wn last time i talked t0 y0u.
AA: had me w0rried.
TA: 2orry about that. ii wa2 kiinda out of iit, 2ome viiru2 or 2omethiing. ii feel much better now.
TA: ii kiind of have new2
TA: iit2 about me
TA: and ampora
AA: 0h my g0d are y0u guys t0gether?
AA: finally!
TA: ok what the fuck
TA: how diid you know.
AA: i really need a smiley em0tic0n right n0w s0llux its kind 0f amazing h0w much i need 0ne. y0u have t0 send me pictures 0f him, btw.
TA: ii dont even beliieve thii2 aa. you 2aw thii2 comiing?
TA: hold on kk ii2 pe2teriing me

-- twinArmageddons (TA) began pestering carcinoGeneticist (CG) ! --

TA: what ii2 iit?
CG: WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. WHAT THE LIVID INTUSSUSCEPTED SQUITTERING FUCK IS THIS I AM HEARING, CAPTOR.
TA: ehehe gro22 kk.
CG: SHUT THE FUCK UP OH MY GOD. I DO NOT FUCKING BELIEVE THIS SHIT, THIS IS LIKE, WHERE IS THE GOD DAMN TAYLOR SWIFT SOUNDTRACK, THAT SHIT SHOULD BE KICKING IN ANY FUCKING SECOND NOW ARRRGH I AM LITERALLY REDUCED TO SAYING ARRRGH AT YOU, CAPTOR, THAT IS HOW HARD I AM FLIPPING MY SHIT.
TA: ii gue22 you heard about me and eriidan huh.
CG: WOW, AND YOU JUST WON YET ANOTHER NO-FUCKING-DUH MEDAL, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BUY A GODDAMN DISPLAY CASE FOR ALL THE CAPTAIN OBVIOUS AWARDS YOU’RE RACKING UP OVER THERE.
CG: I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING. I REALLY SHOULD.
TA: then why are you fliippiing your 2hiit. iinquiiriing miind2 want two know.
CG: BECAUSE, YOU UTTER DWEEB, YOU ARE LITERALLY LIVING A ROMANTIC COMEDY PLOTLINE. DO YOU NOT SEE HOW CRAZY THIS SHIT IS. IT IS LIKE THE SINGLE MOST OVERDONE PLOT ANYONE HAS EVER MADE INTO A FUCKING TEARJERKER OF A MOVIE STARRING JULIA FUCKING ROBERTS. IT WAS HATE AT FIRST SIGHT FOR YOU AND DOUCHELORD, OBVIOUSLY YOU HAD TO END UP SNOGGING HIM. UGH. IT’S JUST. NARRATIVE FUCKING CAUSALITY.
TA: ii thiink you are overreactiing two thii2 revelatiion, kk. al2o that ii2 kiind of adorable.
CG: OH MY FUCK, I AM NOT ADORABLE. NOTHING ABOUT ME IS ADORABLE, YOU DELUSIONAL KING OF ALL NERDS.
TA: nope
TA: offiiciially adorable, riight there
TA: called iit
CG: FUCK YOU. A THOUSAND TIMES FUCK YOU.
CG: HOW ARE YOU FEELING ANYWAY, ASSHOLE?
TA: better. 2orry iif ii wa2 liike 2narly or unre2pon2iive the pa2t couple of day2, ii wa2 not at my be2t.
CG: NO SHIT. STRIDER SAID YOU LOOKED LIKE ASS AND DEATH. WHAT IS WITH THAT KID ANYWAY, HE IS SO FUCKING ODD.
TA: ii have no iidea. he got me out of bed by threateniing two draw diick2 on our whiiteboard. and he ha2 red eye2 liike dracula.
CG: I’D CALL BULLSHIT BUT BASED ON YOUR BOYFRIEND’S VIOLET FUCKING ORBS, WHAT THE HELL, GRESLEY IS NOW THE OFFICIAL FUCKED-UP-EYE-COLOR DORM, IT IS US. NOT TO MENTION YOUR DAVID BOWIE THING.
TA: ehehehe iim keepiing that one. daviid bowiie thiing. 2o youve been talkiing two 2triider have you.
CG: WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN.
CG: I HAPPENED TO HAVE A CASUAL CONVERSATION WITH HIM.
CG: ANYWAY.
CG: I NEED TO PICK YOUR EXCUSE FOR A BRAIN ABOUT THE COMPSCI HOMEWORK. ARE YOU DECENT AND NOT CONTAGIOUS OR DO WE HAVE TO DO THIS ONLINE.
TA: actually iim over at lalonde2.
TA: 2he2 iin the miiddle of makiing u2 lunch. there are actual napkiin2 and 2iilverware, kk. 2iilverware. ii thiink iit2 even 2iilver.
CG: WELL FUCK.
CG: I GUESS I’LL GO EAT WORMS THEN. WITH MY FINGERS. AND TRY TO WORK OUT THIS SHIT ON MY OWN, SO IT IS YOUR FAULT THAT I AM GOING TO FAIL THIS CLASS, CAPTOR.
CG: YOUR FAULT.
TA: ii weep for you, kk. a 2iingle cry2talliine tear gleam2 on my cheek.
CG: FUCK. YOU.
CG: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING ANYWAY, TEXTING PEOPLE WHEN YOU’RE BEING FED LUNCH THAT HAS ACTUAL SILVERWARE. RUDE MUCH, CAPTOR? PUT THE PHONE AWAY ALREADY.
TA: <3 you too. 2ee you later a22hole.

-- twinArmageddons (TA) ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist (CG) ! --

TA: --2orry aa. ii got two go. talk to you later about your 2pooky fuckiing claiirvoyance 2hiit.

-- twinArmageddons (TA) ceased pestering apocalypseArisen (AA) ! --

~

Lalonde’s and Maryam’s townhouse is pretty fucking awesome, you have to admit. They obviously do shit like vacuum and dust, for one thing, and for another they have actual furniture and an actual dining-room with an actual table in it. You have a feeling they spend as much time entwined on the couch watching shitty movies as they do drinking tea with their respective pinkies extended, however: now that you’re not seeing Lalonde through a haze of jealous unhappiness you can tell that some of her affected mannerisms are wry rather than conceited, and oh jesus fuck if you’d seen her with Maryam before you would have probably had a much less emotionally fraught several days. They are very much into one another, and they don’t even have to be engaging in sloppy displays of affection for this to be a thing that is obvious.

Maryam is possibly even taller than Lalonde and her hair is green dyed over black, which looks oddly natural on her, and she’s apparently into design and tailoring as well as topology, and you honestly look forward to getting to talk to her again when she doesn’t have to reclaim her Camry and hurry off to get shit done.

You swat Eridan’s hand away as he tries to steal the last of your quiche--he’d taken his meds before you ate without even having to be reminded, and you are stupidly glad that he seems to have a decent appetite--and you smile cloudlessly across the table at Rose Lalonde. Who looks enigmatic and china-doll perfect until that mask cracks in an astonishingly ribald grin. “I told you you’d enjoy taking me up on my invitation, Mr. Captor," she says, and you swear to fuck she waggles her eyebrows at you.

Yeah, you think. Yeah, okay. I could get used to this.