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A Little More Broken

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Feferi swims.
When it’s too much, and orphaned trolls are crying for their lusii, and -Eridan’s whining and she can’t take it anymore, she hides her symbol and takes off her jewels and just swims, aimlessly. Floating free, all of her responsibilities and tasks seem to float away with the current, and she’s freed. The water is cool, calming )(er down, purifying )(er.

Eridan strifes.
When everything builds up, and he can’t do anything right, and Feferi is frustrated with him, he finds another troll and just fights. It doesn’t matter who they are, where on the hemospectrum they lie, he fights until he’s too exhausted to think straight, and all of his frustrations are gone, shot or stabbed or blown away. It doesn’t even have to be another troll. And when Fef’s at his hivve and she gets that look, he goes outside and punches the wwall, and lets off steam. And the inadequacy drains awway as the blood trickles down his knuckles.

Gamzee paints.
When he’s out of spoor and cares, when the old goat hasn’t been back in perigees, when the MoThErFuCkIn MiRaClEs build up and start streaming out of his ears, his mouth, his eyes, he takes a can of paint and shows the world what it looks like. And it’s not accurate, not by any means, but it shows the way things are, shows how the world is, what his friends are. Feferi is surrounded by clear blue water, Eridan always has his rifle which is a part of him, Karkat has an inexplicable splash of candy red, and Tavbro has motherfuckin wings. Gamzee paints and draws and colors and shows the world that it doesn’t own him, and the MoThErFuCkIn MiRaClEs stream out his fingers and onto the walls.

Equius tinkers.
When he breaks the Aradiabot again, or when he’s sweating too much for towels, or when his horns or teeth break, he makes small things. Careful things. Touching a wire here, twisting two together there. He reminds himself to be extra careful, not breaking anything, and when he breaks even a single wire he starts over from the beginning, builds something else from scratch, shows himself that he can build, and not just destroy. And when he actually begins to make whatever he’s making, he gets lost in the wires and panels and buttons, and doesn’t break anything, because he’s not thinking, he’s just doing. And when his newest robot lights up, it burns away his panic fits, relieves him of his ridiculous sweating. When he builds something, and everything cli% together and wor%, the obsession snaps and dissolves away.

Vriska plans.
When she can’t take it anymore, when her moirail isn’t enough, when Tavros is being lame and weak, she sits 8ack and takes a deep 8reath and plans. She comes up with schemes, ideas, plots. How to gain power, how to keep power, how to overthrow someone in power, it doesn’t matter except that she needs to think sideways, to twist her mind until it’s so convoluted that it snaps around straight again.

Terezi breathes.
She knows it’s unconventional, but when she can’t think, when Karkat is being an idiot, when she does something wrong and someone gets hurt, she just sits back and breathes. When she gets sick of the darkness, when she can’t think because of the lack of one of her senses, when she can’t see and it’s too much and everything is off-balanced and wrong wrong wrong she breathes and the colors flood back, but not as colors. Cerulean is calming, relaxing, loosening. Crimson is energizing, but not overpoweringly so, awakening, like cinnamon. Olive is lifting, steady, strong. She breathes in scents and the imbalanc3 dr4ins 4w4y.

Kanaya sews.
When her moirail is being too much, when she can’t auspisticize any longer, when she’s just so mad she could stab someone, she sits down and sews an outfit. Stitch by stitch, bringing everything together, all of the little bits. Making everything connected, mending any holes. Pulling the thread just the right strength, not to soft, not to hard, just right to pull it through the fabric and keep it steady. She sews and the colors and strings come together, and she binds her strengths together with her strings of worry and the fabric Swallows Them Up And Makes Them Calm.

Nepeta stalks.
When people break up, when people are mean, when even though she loves him Equius orders her around too much, Nepeta runs off into the forest and chooses an animal and follows it around. She becomes completely still, focuses all of her attention on being one-hundred-purrcent silent, and absorbs herself in stalking an animal and she can’t think of anything else. And the animal does its daily routine, hunting for food and running from predators and more often than not taking care of baby animals and it reminds her that no matter what the world keeps turning and people are people and animals are animals, and people are rather silly at that. But that doesn’t matter, nothing matters, because she’s completely focused on not being noticed, and her worries tighten up and dissipate in the not-very-silence of the forest.

Karkat screams.
When Crabdad is being too much, when Sollux is being too much of a nooksniffing idiot, when he’s just sick and tired of hiding his blood and can’t take it anymore, he finds a pillow and screams and screams into it until his throat’s raw and he can barely see. He screams and nobody hears him, but it lets off the tension, releases the pressure that’s been building up in his thinkpan, poisoning it from the inside out, and when he screams all of that pressure, tension, stress goes out of his mouth and flies off away from him, and he has no choice but to relax on the floor of his hive, and only then does the poison that his idiot past self had been building up, only then does that poison drain away.

Sollux codes.
When KK’s bugging him too much, when FF gets upset with him and ED for arguing, when he’s so sick of his 2tupiid biifurcatiion giimiick, he sits down at his husktop and writes a really long and complex code. It’s not any specific program, it just has to be so long and complicated that he gets so involved in it he forgets FF, forgets Alternia, forgets his 2tupiid biifurcatiion, forgets his psionic powers that he would love to let loose but can’t. Because if they know what he can do he’ll be taken and hooked up to a ship and be a ship and not be him anymore, but sometimes he’s just so sick of not being able to just go explode something that he knows what KK feels like and just wants to stop caring, so he goes and codes something really long and arduous in a language he doesn’t know, so that when he’s done he collapses and doesn’t have the strength to care about anything anymore and he can finally relax and the stupid bifurcation goes away.

Tavros pretends.
What, did you expect it to be anything else? No. When Vriska talks to him, when he fails to walk, when he looks out over the cliff and dreams of flight, he pretends. He dreams up other worlds in his head, worlds where he can fly and walk and everybody is, if not nice, at the very least not cruel. Where Vriska is still snarky and mean, but where she is also understanding and knows where to stop. Where Karkat doesn’t need to hide his mysterious blood color, where, uh, where everyone could just have a chance, and nobody would be hurtful. And in the imaginary worlds, he goes adventuring, and Vriska and Aradia and Terezi and him all team up and defeat the evil people along with his fears and nightmares, and he pretends that he’s strong and chases away the fears.

Aradia discovers.
Before, this was normal. When she was sick of Vriska’s taunts, when she was tired of Equius’s confusion, when she couldn’t see Sollux, she went out to the ruins to see what she could find, and immersed herself in another time. Before. Now, After, she still does this. But it has that extra element of pretending. A gh0st pretending to be a girl pretending to be in the past. A few moments when she can forget the voices of the imminently deceased, when she can focus to try and find out what happened to the ruins, the only time when she is mildly appreciative of her curse. After, when the voices urge her to do things she doesn’t want to do but has to, when Sollux grieves and she can’t comfort him properly, when Tavros needs that extra strength that she could lend. She goes adventuring and forgets about being a ghost, forgets about the voices, forgets the game that you all have to play, she can just discover, and be free.

Everyone is a little more broken than you think they are. Everyone has tension building up, invisible, unseeable tension, tension that becomes unbearable until you can scream or swim or paint or pretend the panic away. But everyone is a little more broken than you think they are, and in the end there’s only one way they can find the true rest, get calmed down, become freed. Become so lost that they lose the tension. But without proper support, the tension does nothing but return once you reemerge, and builds up until it’s truly intolerable. When you can’t stalk, or discover, or swim, or strife, then the tension builds up until one day everything snaps and you lash out and everything is suddenly over.
(AradiaFeferiKanayaTavrosEridanEquiusNepetaVriskaSollux)
And it can’t be fixed