When you wake up everything hurts, your eyes don't want to open and you have no idea where you are. You try to sit up and nearly black right the fuck back out at the agony that laces up your side, making you fall limp and shuddering back onto whatever the fuck you were laying on. After a second you feel a dip in the surface nearby, making you hiss in pain at the shifting under you, but it doesn't last long, and then cool fingers are pressed against your burning cheek.
"Kk?" You recongize Sollux's voice, though it sounds muffled and woolen, and when you try to reply all you can get out is a cracked groan. The hand leaves your face and returns with a damp cloth, brushing over your right cheek and forehead. You try to open your eyes and immediately your head is full of a blinding pain, causing you to cry out and Sollux to pin your sudden writhing form down. "Kk! Thtop moving you'll only make it worthe!"
You black out again.
When you wake for the second time, you feel better than the first, but still like you'd been mauled by every lusus in the book. You've gotten a throbbing headache, focused in your left eye and your side feels kind of like you may have rolled onto a few cacti. You groan softly as you shift your right arm (the only one you can shift right now) to touch at your aching left cheek, meeting the coarse barrier of a banage of some sort over your eye. What the hell?
You try to remember why you're in this state, and after a moment of mental grasping you remember. You were fighting Strider's dopelganger, the one with the fucking star glasses and stupid giggle. He'd been easy to fight at first, and you had thought you'd had the upper hand, maybe even been able to kill one of those fuckers and even the odds between your two groups even a tiny bit.
...you had never been so wrong in your life.
He'd been toying with you the whole time, and when he got bored you realized how big of a difference there was between the two of you. He'd wiped the floor with you. You weren't sure exactly how fast it had ended, but you remembered him going from at least thirty feet away to right in front of you. You remember the terror and a flash of steel. The rest is red and pain, then blackness.
...so why the fuck were you alive right now?
You look around with the eye that's still uncovered, taking in the dank quality and recognize the makeshift sick-bay Sollux and you had set up just the week before. The door's open and you consider trying to get up and find someone and figure out how you got back here. But as you shift your legs you notice you're missing the left one again. How did that happen? The one Equius had built you hadn't been damaged that bad had it? Once again you find yourself completely amazed that you're alive.
A hand brushes your shoulder and you hiss out a curse, but lay back as it pushes you back down gently. "Yo Vantas, don't bother getting up."
"STI--" Your voice cracks painfully, and you're forced to lower it. "...Strider."
"The one and only." He drawls, weary red eyes gazing at you from over the tops of his shades, and you notice a bandage on the side of his face.
"Where'd you get that." It's not a question so much as it's a demand for information, and he sighes, stretching out on his side next to you, where you realize he must have been since before you woke up. Damn.
"Saving your pathetic ass, that's where." He replies, with a careless shrug you want to punch him for. You resolve to do so the second you're not bedridden and aching all over. He deserves it for getting himself hurt over you.
"Damn it Strider, what have I told you about fighting my fights for me?" You growl, scowling weakly (the left side of your face refuses to do so, as sore as it is) and swatting away the hand he tries to rifle through your hair with your uninjured arm.
"Yeah?" He's scowling back, and you realize this might not be the best fight to pick. "And what have we all told you about fighting those things alone, hmm Vantas?"
You don't have a response for that, or the bags under his eyes. You feel like an asshole. Swallowing your pride you look away. "Sorry."
He rolls his eyes and puts his hand on your unbandaged cheek, and the look he gives you is so unguardedly tender that you feel like you should say something, anything, but before you can he presses a soft kiss to your lips and smiles at you. "Yeah, well, you're lucky you have your knight in shining armor to come rescue your ass."
You flush brightly and try to retort, but Sollux interupts you by walking in and letting out a relieved sigh. "You're
awake then? I thought you were going to thleep forever."
Turning to look at him as he sat on your other side, you note the matching bags under his eyes to Dave's and feel another wave of guilt. "...how long was I out?"
"Five dayth." He replies and you wince. "You woke up onthe, when I wath trying to patch you up the firtht day, but you've been thleeping thinthe then."
"Oh." You reach out and touch his hand, and he grips your's back tightly. "Well...I'm up now."
"Your throat hurt?" He asked, seeming to note the softer tone of your voice. "Or did Dave already tame you for today?"
You scowl. "...the former. Strider couldn't tame shit."
Dave ruffles your hair and you huff out a tired breath. "Yeah right Vantas, I can tame your shit all night long."
You allow a slight smile at the feeling you realize is relief growing in your chest. You're alive, you get to stay that way another night, with these two assholes that you pity and as you and Sollux had adopted for Dave, love in equal measure. You'll get to see Dave nodd his head to that weird earth slam poetry, or listen to him make up his own. You'll be there to hear Sollux try to lisp his way through his daily speech patterns, and watch him throw hissy fits at Dave and you for laughing. You can spend another night wrapped up between them both, and know you aren't alone.
Your smile turns to laughter, and you don't even care that tears are running down your cheeks.
You're just glad to be alive.