Chapter 1: Got a Light? (Dave ⋄ Kanaya)
Kanaya gracefully accepts the rolled up joint and brings it to her lips with enough elegance to put all the classy dames from all the black-and-white flicks that blew up with the Earth to shame. She inhales with her eyes half-closed and her head tilted slightly.
Then she breaks into a hacking fit of coughing that ruins the whole tableau, smoke escaping her mouth in irregular puffs.
You pull on your own calmly, and make little smoke donuts in the air as you exhale. You see no real need to coddle a scary vampire chick with a penchant for chainsawing dudes in half, not even for irony's sake.
“How odd, it seems my undead condition might have had more of an effect on my respiratory apparatus than I originally thought,” she says. You say nothing.
She leans back in the pile, takes another drag, and though her face pinches up, she doesn't start coughing again. She exhales a little too fast, though.
“I don't see, however, how this is supposed to help me 'loosen up' for a feelings jam,” she adds, frowning at the lipstick-stained rolling paper.
“Maryam, you can't just start the heavy lifting unless you're limbered up first,” you tell her.
“You can't,” she repeated in a perfect deadpan.
“Sure you can't. You start off stiff, and you end up with a thrown-out back and permanent emotional damage, and since I'm your sole mental health care provider, that would probably be good for business, but you'd have one hell of a malpractice suit against me.”
“And then you hire Terezi and sue me for my bottom Boonbuck and I end up dirt poor and turning tricks on the street, offering feeling jams for gushers until a kindly client sees through my rough-and-tumble exterior and falls deeply in pity with me, whisking me away from my life of struggle to make an honorable woman out of me.”
“Oh dear.” She looks mildly alarmed and also mostly confused. She takes another drag, this time less awkward than before.
“Hold it in for a bit,” you instruct. She does, for five seconds before she releases with a shaky breath.
“I don't feel anything, however,” she says. “Perhaps marijuana does not have the same effect on trolls as it does on humans?”
“You sure about that?”
She frowns slightly.
“Quite sure? The only thing I feel is slightly peckish.”
You don't smirk. Or you do, but only on the inside.
“So, Maryam, how about that juggalo?”
“Oh, don't get me started,” she huffs.
“That's the whole point of this exercise, babe,” and you smirk for real this time.
“Oh, that's right,” she says, a smile appearing in the corner of her lip. Some days, you yourself can't believe you became moirails with an alien fashionista with a literal thirst for blood, but there's weapons-grade irony in this situation, you're sure.
She holds out two spread-out fingers to you, and you touch your own fingers to the tips of hers, making a diamond. It's ironic, dammit. The sappiness is purely ironic.
Chapter 2: Tightrope (Gamzee ♣ Arsast ♣ Sephar)
Prompt: Can we request fanfic of fanfic with OCs? Because I'd like to request Gamzee♣Arsast♣Sephar from Miracle Child.
Original characters belong to bramblePatch.
Your entire understanding of the ashen quadrant comes through the lens of a funambulist. An auspistice is no different than a tightrope walker: you need to maintain balance at all times—and you need to constantly readjust to achieve this balance—knowing that failure will likely lead to death.
And in turn, your ashmates are the pole that you use to help you take each step on the wire. They play against each other, weigh you from either side, the familiar load that helps you achieve the perfect balance.
Without either of them, you are grounded.
Without one of them, however, you are swinging wildly, trying to compensate for the sudden absence.
You know it's only a psychological illusion, you know that there is no real plummet to your death waiting, but when Sephar is missing, you feel that same cold terror as after you make a mistake on the tightrope. You feel with every second you fail to catch yourself that your impending fall is getting closer.
You need Sephar as much as you need Gamzee, and you need Gamzee as much as you need Sephar. You don't know what might happen if you don't find her. You don't care to find out.
Chapter 3: Making Waves (Feferi ♣ Jade ♣ Eridan)
Prompt: Feferi ♣ Dave ♣ Eridan
or Feferi ♣ Jade ♣ Eridan
Getting together: ashen edition. Which probably means the first time interrupting a murder attempt and not being sure why the trolls now seem to think they're dating.
At first, you were sure it was only a coincidence. After all, the first time you walked in on them and stopped Feferi from giving Eridan a few new breathing holes, it was mostly by accident. As contemptible as the others found Eridan, you're sure nobody would have wanted to see him dead
They went oddly meek when you jumped between them and scolded them, and after the smiles they each gave you as you left, you congratulated yourself for a job well done.
You cannot account for the following days, when you could have been going about your day without a care in the world, and then turn a corner or enter a room to see Eridan and Feferi at each other's necks again.
It was uncanny. You could never recall running across them so often ever before. You spent some time with Feferi, true, usually when she was helping you map the shores of your new planet, and sometimes you even saw Eridan from afar during these occasions, but you sure as hell never had to split up seven fights in two days before.
And the others were no help. The trolls actively avoided coming between them—probably because of that silly hemospectrum bullshit (though that didn't explain why Karkat wouldn't get involved)—and if any other human tried to make peace, it only seemed to make Feferi and Eridan more hostile than less.
It wasn't until you had to jump in and separate them at gunpoint during one of the weekly troll/human get-togethers that you really understood what was happening, though.
“Whoa—what was up with that?” John asked you, looking from Feferi, who was haughtily sampling a tiny sandwich, and Eridan, who was curled up in a corner, sulking.
“I have no idea!” you replied. “It's weird, but they've been fighting a whole lot lately. And for stupid reasons, too. Karkat, what's their problem?”
Karkat, who had been stuffing a handful of peanuts in his mouth (just to spite John, you're pretty sure), nearly choked. John patted him on the back, looking both sympathetic and smug.
“Harley, please tell me you're not that clueless,” he said, scowling.
“Well, I obviously wouldn't be asking if I already knew, fuckass,” you shot back.
“They're flirting with you, moron,” he said. “You're their auspistice.”
John's eyes nearly popped out of his head at this. You just stared incredulously.
“Wait, Jade—you're in a quadrant with the fish trolls?”
“I think I would have noticed if I were, John.”
“That's a fucking lie, since you obviously haven't noticed that you damn well are ,” Karkat scoffed.
“Ooh, Jade, you're in a relationship with two people,” John said, grinning from ear to ear and waggling your eyebrows. “Kinky.”
“No it's not, you asshole,” Karkat sputters. “It's a perfectly standard ashen relationship. Don't muck up our quadrants with your disgusting human prejudices.”
“Wait, so this is real? I'm in a quadrant with them?” you asked, completely blindsided by this revelation.
“Fuck. Fuck . Yeah, you are.” Karkat grabbed a fistful of his own hair and pulled on it, looking completely overwrought. “I should have seen this coming. They didn't even say anything about it to you, did they? You just fell ass-backwards into it. I should have sat those douchebags down and explained that humans don't do quadrants. Now they're going to have their clubs broken and it's all my fault.”
“Who says humans don't do quadrants?” you interjected, stopping Karkat's downwards shame spiral in its tracks.
“I... bluh... what?” Karkat sputtered.
“Jade! Really?” John gasped.
“Yep! Now excuse me, I have to get my trolls and make this relationship official.”
Luckily, in the time you spent talking with John and Karkat, your ashmates had gotten themselves into another argument, this one apparently centered around Sollux. You grabbed them both by the arms and dragged them off to a more private setting. It was time for a nice, romantic, ashen date.
Good thing you've been watching Karkat's romcoms.
Chapter 4: Third Wheel (Feferi + Karkat ⋄ Gamzee)
Basically, Feferi misinterprets Karkat and Gamzee's relationship as a budding Kismesis-ship, and attempts to become their auspistice. Being firm moirails, they're both pretty confused by her actions. How it all ends up is up to you.
You nearly jump out of your skin at the voice, and clutch your chest as if you're about to have a bloodpusher episode.
Where the fuck did Feferi spring up from?
“Are you fucking cracked in the spongecase?” you hiss. “Who does that? What kind of blithering assfuck sneaks up on someone just passing through a hallway like it's open season on douchebags with delicate blood-pumping structures?”
She smiles tolerantly at you, but she's displaying more teeth than you're comfortable seeing from any seadweller, no matter how friendly and non-cull-happy they may be. You need to ditch her soon, otherwise she'll ruin another one of your pale dates, and you have enough things working against your moirallegiance without a meddling tyrian making things yet more difficult.
“What do you want?” you ask, folding your arms.
“Just wondering where you were going,” she says, casually curling a lock of her hair around a finger.
“Who the fuck made you the traffic patrol?” you scowl. “None of your business. I'm the leader, Peixes. Has it occurred to you that I may have important leaderly duties to attend to? No, because you and the other assholes spend your time fucking around all night and think everybody's life is as pointless and vapid as yours.”
“Well, I don't know what leaderly duties you have, when the only one in that direction is Gamsea,” she says, raising an eyebrow.
Fuck. She knows. That's why she's been following the two of you around lately. Looks like she's not as pan-numbingly stupid as the other morons under your command.
“Look, I don't know how you know about me and Gamzee--”
“Oh, it's pretty obvious.”
“ Fuck you, no it isn't !... I mean, shit.” You grind your teeth. You really don't like the thought of your romantic life on display. “Has anyone else noticed?”
“I don't fin so,” Feferi replies. “Or at least, I haven't reely heard anyone glub aboat it!”
You sigh in relief.
“But don't worry, Karcrab,” she continues, putting a hand on your shoulder. “I w-eel be your auspiseatice!”
You stare at her for the longest time, absolutely stunned by just how wrong a person can be about something. This is such an unfathomable depth of sheer mistaken, that it makes every single way you screwed up in the past seem like a complex tapestry of strategically brilliant decisions.
“Let's go to Gamsea now and tell him the good news!”
She drags you along easily, if only because you've been shocked into a catatonic state.
Chapter 5: Grievance (Sollux ♣ Feferi ♣ Eridan)
Two kismesis have the same romantic interest (Sollux and Eridan - Feferi? Or Karkat?) and compete for him/her until s/he gets enough and auspices between the two. (Sollux actually likes it, Eridan is heartbroken)
You feel like you could punch Sollux's shit-eating grin right off his ugly face. And you would definitely do that right away, if you weren't desperately trying not to sink yourself deeper in the incomprehensible morass that your life has become.
“What'th wrong, ED?” he asks. “Not happy with the job FF ith doing?”
Feferi turned her head to look at you and you seethe inside.
You do not want Fef in your ashen quadrant. You really don't want Fef in your ashen quadrant. Which is why punching Sollux in the face right now would work against that goal.
“Shut up, you lowblood scumbag,” you hiss at Sollux, hoping Fef won't hear.
Apparently, you weren't quiet enough, because she sets her hands on her hips and frowns.
“Do I have to come over there and shoosh you two?” she asks.
You grit your teeth and glare at Sollux. He finally got the better of you. He found a sure-fire way to torture you in the worst way possible. Sollux is the undeniable winner , and the worst part is that he knows it.
His obnoxious grin gets even wider.
Chapter 6: Compulsion (Gamzee ♣ Equius ♣ Vriska)
Instead of one person getting between two others, they all keep each other in check in their own ways. Equius and Gamzee have miscommunication issues with their relationship, Gamzee hates Vriska and she thinks it's cute when he's scared of her, Vriska and Equius are the best terrible neighbors. The clubs relationship is something they just somehow fell into without giving it much thought and they just went with it.
Nobody is completely sure how the three of you fell into this relationship. This includes you.
For all intents and purposes, the auspisticeship you have with Gamzee and Equius more closely resembles something out of a sitcom about the hijinks of some wacky hivemates. You're not sure if it's even a proper auspisticeship, since every time you wake up to a block of angry gray text on your computer trying to explain exactly in what way you fail at ashen romance, your eyes just tend to glaze over.
You're just three trolls extremely vested in meddling with each others' relationships, and it hasn't ended in a bloodbath yet, so you've just stopped questioning it anymore.
And you'd never say this out loud, but there's a comfort in knowing that every time you and Equius get into a screaming argument, Gamzee drops everything to come over and hug you guys, and help you “get your chill on”. You don't mind it—you might even like it—even if, to your horror, you've started developing a taste for his disgusting sugary soda. You don't even really mind the ashen feeling jams he enforces, because Equius is always hilariously nervous during them, scared of saying the wrong thing to the “Highb100d”.
And whenever Gamzee and Equius end up in one of their awkward social doldrums, hemming and hawing and dancing around each other nervously, it's just so fun to set them straight. This mostly involves pelting them with insults and trying to translate their awful dialects to one another, but you take a sort of savage glee out of how cowed Gamzee looks afterward, and how sheepish Equius.
You enjoy it slightly less when Equius gets between you and Gamzee, because he always puts the blame on you for what happens, and always expects you to apologize. As laugh-inducing as his hemocaste fixation can be at times, it also comes back to bite you in the ass just as much. It almost makes you want to stop arguing with Gamzee, but even when you avoid the subject of a certain brownblood , you still always end up bickering about stuff that strikes you as incredibly inconsequential in retrospect.
You can't help it, though. Maybe this is exactly what being ashen is supposed to feel like: a compulsion.
Chapter 7: Pale Imitation (Gamzee & Condesce)
Condesce⋄Gamzee forced moirallegiance with former Condesce⋄GHB, she uses Gamzee to replace her dead moirail, regardless of whether he's already got a palemate or not.
Drip, drip, drip.
The sound echoes against the walls of your thinkpan. She drags a claw against your temple, and you can feel it cold through your paint. You can feel her smile. She croons softly as she holds you down with your head in her lap, and often when she whispers her gentle nothings in your ear, it's not your name that she slips in.
It's not you she whispers her confessions to, it's not you she expects shooshes and paps from. She doesn't want you. She doesn't need you. There was only one person who did, and you don't know where he is anymore. Some nights you wish he was out there looking for you. Some nights you wish he was already dead, so you wouldn't have to ever know that he left you in her clutches for so long.
Chapter 8: The Hand You're Dealt (Sollux ⋄ Tavros)
What about a Sollux⋄Tavros, with the two of them playing games together? Either video games for Sollux or roleplaying games for Tavros, heee. These two are my pale OTP and I've read nothing for them!
The differences between you and Tavros always come sharper into focus when you also find something in common. It's not something that happens often, but you feel that when it does happen, the insight such an event offers you makes your moirallegiance stronger.
Tavros told you he likes games. You thought, at first, that you understood what he meant by this, but you naively thought he understood games the same way as you do.
You understand games through a screen, through a keyboard and an interface. For you, a game is about timing, speed, and destruction. You run the numbers, do the sequences, and watch the pixel massacre that ensues.
But Tavros doesn't think like that.
For Tavros, a game is something solid and familiar: it's in cards that he can hold and shuffle in his hands. It's sitting down across from another player—in person!—and watching for the slightest bluff.
It's the satisfaction in hearing your sigh of defeat as he beats you for the tenth round in a row.
“You shouldn't, be sad. You almost had me, that time.”
“Pretty thure you were going eathy on me, TV.”
“That, is also true.”
He smiles at you widely, every fang on display and the satisfaction of victory lighting up his face, and you wonder how anyone can say that Tavros isn't a real troll.
Chapter 9: Extreme Measures (Sollux ♣ Karkat ♣ Eridan)
Oh man, I kind of want to spam you with prompts, but let's go with:
“Alright, assholes, sit down,” Karkat growled.
Sollux and Eridan, each one trying to out-sulk the other, dropped down dejectedly onto the pile, as far from one another as possible. Karkat did not sit down, but only began to pace before them.
“Since we've established that you two bulgegobbling dramaqueens don't have even a fraction of the self-restraint it takes to keep your inconveniently public black advances to yourselves, and since you've both displayed zero fucking inclination towards obeying your wise and rightful leader, I see I'm going to need to get ashen on your asses.”
Eridan's eyes nearly popped out of his head from how wide he opened them, and Sollux's jaw dropped.
“No. Shut up.”
“Shut the fuck up, I said,” Karkat growled. It was low and serious, not like his usual histrionic yelling, and Sollux felt a shiver go down his spine. He closed his mouth slowly and leaned back.
“Now we are going to sit in this pile and hash out all your fucking baggage until we are all so disgustingly ashen for each other, that our pupils will have permanently taken the shape of little clubs. Am I clear?”
Sollux and Karkat turned to look at Eridan, who was silent, but smiling dreamily.
“What the fuck is up with you?” Karkat asked.
“I got a quadrant filled,” Eridan whispered, his voice choked with emotion.
Karkat tried to resist the urge to roll his eyes, if only because it would not help his burgeoning migraine.
Chapter 10: Knock Some Heads Together (Vriska ♣ Equius ♣ Eridan)
Perhaps the only thing more embarrassing than having to watch two kismeses fight in public is having to watch two ex-kismeses fight in public.
Everybody in the computer lab dutifully stares at their own screen, trying to ignore the increasingly loud fight Vriska and Eridan are having in public. Again. This is a difficult task when each is apparently trying to be shriller than the other.
“You will stop this nonsense right now!” Equius booms from across the room.
Everybody drops the pretense of ignoring the fight to turn and watch this new development.
Eridan scowls and turns towards Equius.
“You stay outta thiiieeeEEE—” Eridan does not manage to finish his sentence before Vriska physically lunges on him, jumping on his back and scratching his face with one hand while pulling his hair with the other.
They shriek like banshees in a feeding frenzy, and that is apparently as much as Equius is willing to take. His every step thunders as he approaches the two, and everybody tenses in anticipation, except for Vriska and Eridan, who have escalated to full on hair pulling, face slapping, spitting and hissing.
Equius reaches them, grabs the both of them by the scruffs of their necks, and slowly peels them apart, holding them at arm's length from each other. Equius has very long arms.
“You will cease such public and dishonorable manifestations,” he instructed sternly. “You are making a mockery of yourself in front of the lowbloods, and acting as a disgrace towards your betters.”
Unable to reach each other, Vriska and Eridan only glare.
“Have I made myself clear?”
Vriska scoffs, while Eridan shrugs.
Equius releases them tentatively, but the moment they're free, they jump each other again. He forces them apart once again, this time picking them up by the collars of their shirts.
“I see I will have my work cut out for me, then,” he sighs.
From her computer, Nepeta grins with feral glee. It's not every day you see your moirail fill another quadrant.
Chapter 11: Quiet (Terezi ⋄ Kanaya)
Would you be okay with some TereziKanaya on the meteor, where they bond over the fallout of murderstuck and Terezi helps Kanaya get over her anger with Gamzee?
Terezi sits hunched over the cup of coffee. Steam is rising slowly, but Terezi doesn't pay it any heed. Her tongue hangs out, slowly lapping at the rim of the red coffee cup, never really going near the black liquid.
Kanaya stares at the ceiling as if it were the third participant in this feelings jam.
“It has been quiet lately,” she says.
“Yes, that tends to be the case after a great deal of the people who made noise in the first place get killed!”
They lapse into silence again. Kanaya sighs. Terezi licks. Time crawls by.
“If you don't want to talk about it—” Terezi begins.
“No. I mean, yes. I want to,” Kanaya says. “I will. In a bit. I am just... gathering my thoughts.”
“No need to hurry,” Terezi says. “You can let them wander.”
Kanaya doesn't reply, but one of her hands brushes through Terezi's hair softly. It's as good as a 'thank you', and Terezi smiles.
Chapter 12: Taming of the Rainbow Drinker (Jade ⋄ Kanaya)
Kanaya⋄Jade! I loved their Pesterchum chats!
It is always easy to see when Kanaya's annoyance escalates to full-blown rage.
Which is to say, it's easy for you, because you've learned the signs. Trolls don't really pick up on the subtle tells that reveal a person's state of mind unless they're in a quadrant with that person. So when you see Kanaya's fingers curl, and her lip rise to reveal fangs, you know it's time to intervene and calm her down.
You remove a hairbrush from your sylladex and insinuate yourself at her elbow, leaning to whisper in her ear.
“Kanaya, my hair's a mess. Mind helping me out?”
You see the effect right away, the softening of her features, her little sigh.
“Oh, of course, Jade, I'd be glad to.”
She always pulls a bit too hard at the tangles, but you don't mind that much anymore.
Chapter 13: All Rise for the Honorable Judge Terezi (Gamzee ♣ Terezi ♣ Kanaya)
Gamzee ♣ someone♣ Kanaya
End the codpiece abuse :(
It is Dave who puts the idea into Terezi's head, while telling her about one of Earth's greatest platonic auspistice, Judge Judy. Terezi is intrigued, and Dave even goes as far as to hunt down a few episodes of the show using his timey thing.
Worse yet, he helps her build a shitty replica of Judge Judy's courtroom, and even fills the seats with the residents of Can Town, including Rose and the Mayor. Dave takes upon himself the solemn duties of the bailiff, and Terezi fashions herself a judge's robe, though it's actually a bright red sheet with little teal cartoon dragons that Dave alchemized for her. He says making it made his irony rise to over 9000, a number which makes Karkat go off on a rant regarding how unlikely it is that irony has a numerical value, much less that it would be that high if it did.
Kanaya sits at the plaintiff's table with a sour pinch to her face, while Gamzee is at the defendant's table with a vacant smile. The years of sopor use have most likely etched deep into his face the stoned expression, and not even half a sweep of sobriety could erase it.
Karkat sits in a chair to Gamzee's right, arms folded and a scowl on his face.
“I hope you all know,” he growls, “that you are making a mockery of the entire ashen quadrant.”
Chapter 14: Early Promotion (Feferi ♣ Sollux ♣ Eridan)
Ashen quadrant-flip (or rotation, I guess) from Fef auspitising between Sollux and Eridan to Sollux auspitising between Eridan and Feferi.
“—and if he bothers you again, you tell me all aboat it,” Feferi was just telling Sollux, when Eridan snorted loudly.
Sollux and Feferi looked right at him, surprised. He'd never made a sound of complaint during one of Feferi's auspisticizing sessions before.
“What now?” Sollux scowled at Eridan.
“What do ya think?” Eridan shot back, pulling his cape closer and glaring. “All this fuckin' favoritism. Can't so much as sneeze in his glubbin' direction without you jumpin' on my back, but he wipes the floor with me, and you just smile an' coddle 'im?”
“Are you saying I'm an unfair auspistice?” Feferi said, puffing up like a blowfish at the accusation.
“I'm sayin' you're the unfairest auspistice, Fef. It's you.”
“Eridan Ampora, you basstard!” she yells. “I have had to deal with your bullshark for too many sweeps! You w-eel forgive me if I know you too whale!”
“Whoa—hold on—“ Sollux raised his hands, but both seadwellers ignored him.
“Know me too well?! You don't fuckin' know me one bit! Our moirallegiance was a joke! All you fuckin' did was use me—“
“Oh don't pretend like—“
“You couldn't even tell when—“
“Guyth, theriouthly, STOP.”
If it wasn't Sollux's yelling, then perhaps it was his psionics crackling in the air that did the trick. The end result was the same. The seadwellers shut up and stared at him. Stared at him for a very long time, completely quiet.
“Uh...” Sollux wasn't sure what to do from here. They seemed to be expecting something from him.
Oh, shit. He'd tilted the clubs. He was the auspistice! What was he supposed to do now? Did he... mediate? They weren't fighting anymore. Yeah, that was it. They weren't fighting! Job well done.
“Yeah, tho that'th about it, thankth, FF.”
And then Sollux absconded, leaving behind two very perplexed trolls.
Confused was about the same as pacified, right?
Chapter 15: Paper Trail (Terezi ⋄ Rose)
Can I request a Terezi⋄Rose?
You could always tell what kind of moirallegiance two people had from the pile they built.
Rose and Terezi's feeling jams always involved massive amounts of paper.
Rose had always liked taking notes, and Terezi picked up the habit as well soon after they became moirails. The nature of their notes tended to differ greatly, however.
Rose's were mainly concerned with psychology. The opportunity to dissect Terezi's most intimate inner thoughts had given her not only an insight into troll romance, but troll psychology in general, and it seemed that at that point she could write an entire thesis on the subject.
Terezi, on the other hand, treated jams as a place to air grievances. She made extensive notes on who had wronged her, and in what way, and all the evidence of the fact. Ever the legislacerator, her every bullet point condemned and her every notation was underlined by outrage.
Their pile was a terrible mess of writing implements, notebooks and loose papers, their entire relationship documented in looping violet cursive and manic red scribbles. What one could conclude from that, however, was anyone's guess.
Chapter 16: At Odd Hours (Rose ⋄ Eridan)
Somehow, despite the fact that they'd managed to establish a convenient schedule that would not disrupt either the trolls' or the humans' sleep patterns, Eridan still managed to only show up in the odd hours that Rose reserved for respite.
It occurred to her around the third time it happened that Eridan was avoiding the other trolls and might be completely unaware of the agreed-upon timetable.
This time, however, she was already awake, though dressed for bed, and when Eridan appeared on her doorstep, small and tired, she already had the kettle on. The new planet had a few plants that were perfect for tea blends, and she had plenty of time to experiment, especially when it became obvious that nothing here was poisonous to either species.
He sat at the kitchen table awkwardly, hunched in on himself like a kicked animal, and watched as Rose poured two cups. She pushed one towards him.
“I hope it isn't too hot for you,” she said. “I think you will like the flavor.”
He carefully placed his hands around the cup and blew at the steam rising from it.
“You always make the best tea, Ros,” he said.
“I do not think I would bother, if I did not have someone who appreciated it,” she replied.
“You, Mr. Ampora.”
“Yes, really,” she said, smiling faintly.
A prolonged pause ensued.
“So does this mean we're in a quad—“
“Eridan, you're killing the moment.”
“Stop talking and drink your tea.”
Chapter 17: Might As Well (Karkat ♣ Vriska ♣ Equius)
What about Vriska♣Karkat♣Equius? With Vriska as the mediator.
If you ever wondered whether there was a limit to how loud Karkat could yell (and truth be told, there probably wasn't a person who'd ever met Karkat and didn't wonder that), you don't need to anymore. Apparently the answer is: as loud as Equius can make him, until his voice cracks.
Poor guy is completely winded now, panting like he just ran laps around the meteor, and Equius is looking at him with a mildly apologetic look on his face while sweat rolls off him in waves.
You haven't been paying much attention to the argument, but you have the vague impression that Equius is refusing to do something-or-other and Karkat is annoyed and bluh bluh, who cares? It's really hard to concentrate with all this ruckus, especially when you have so many irons you should be concerning yourself with instead.
Where's fussyfangs? You'd think the slightest whiff of conflict would draw her like blood on the air draws rainbow drinkers. The one time you want her to meddle, she's nowhere to be seen. Ugh, fine. You'll take this one. If Kanaya is so good at it, how hard can it really be?
“Hey, losers!” you yell at them, jumping out of your chair and striding towards them with as must ashen authority as you can muster. That is, in fact, all of the authority. “Knock it off!”
“Fuck off, you're not our auspistice,” Karkat sneers. That's what he thinks.
You smirk and flip your hair.
“So you admit you need one,” you say.
“I admit no such thing. Stop putting words in my mouth,” he sneers.
“Karkaaaaaaaat, why do you have to make things so difficult for yourself all the time?” you ask, heaving a sigh and putting a hand on his shoulder. “Especially when I'm doing you such a huge favor? Isn't that right, Equius?”
The blueblood looks at you with a slight frown. He is, for once, too busy being confused to sweat.
“Am I to understand that you wish to auspisticize between Vantas and I?” Equius asks.
“Well, obviously,” you reply, rolling your eyes. “And look what good job I'm doing already! Karkat isn't even yelling anymore!”
That might have been because he's busy scrunching up his face like he's smelling something bad, but hey, he's not exactly a looker even under the best of circumstances, so what do you care?
You've got this auspistice thing licked.
Chapter 18: Good Times (Tavros ⋄ Vriska)
Are you still taking requests?
Because Tavros⋄Vriska is my not-really-secret-at-all weakness.
You stir from your uneasy sleep when you feel someone whisper in your ear.
“Tavros. Taaaaaaaavros, wake up!”
You open your eyes to see Vriska's face right up to yours, grinning from ear to ear. You should probably be more surprised than you are at this development, but this is hardly the worst thing she's done, and nowhere close to the worst she's done to you , so you only grunt something in reply.
“Finally! Geez, for a guy who can't even use his recuperacoon properly, you sleep like the dead!”
“What are you doing here so early?” you ask, trying to grope your way out of the recuperacoon. Still numb with sleep, you are apparently moving too slowly for Vriska's taste.
“Here, let me help!”
She grabs you by the shirt and pulls you out onto the ramp, lying you down next to your four wheel device.
“That's, very nice of you, but it still doesn't answer my question.”
“Let's get you cleaned up, first!”
Thus, she helps you wash, change and climb into your four wheel device, albeit with plenty of impatient sighs throughout. She even makes a half-hearted attempt to clean your room, though that mostly involved kicking the cards and plushies that litter the floor towards the walls, and you kind of wish she didn't bother at all, if that's her version of cleaning up. She doesn't at any point explain her presence, though.
“Vriska, while I appreciate, your help, the fact that you are, avoiding to give an answer to my question, is making me pretty, uh, nervous. Did something, bad, happen?”
“No! Why would you think that?!” she says, looking wounded. “I just wanted to be the first to tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
“Happy wriggling day!”
You blink in surprise and just now remember that it is, indeed, your seventh wriggling day.
“You could have been the first, even over Trollian,” you point out. “You didn't, have to go through all this trouble.”
“But then I couldn't give you this,” she says, and takes out a package out of her sylladex. It's wrapped in cerulean paper and tied with a little brown bow.
She hands it to you, and judging by its small size and its heft, it's probably a pack of fiduspawn cards.
“I mean,” she goes on to say, facing the wall opposite you and folding her arms, “it's pretty rotten to complain about someone just wanting to do something nice for you, especially when that someone is your moirail!”
“Oh, my apologies. I think the traditional response to this kind of thing, is a hug,” you say, dropping the gift in your lap and opening your arms wide.
She turns towards you, and you can see now that the reason she was facing the wall was to hide her blush. Now she looks delighted and, okay, she hugs you a bit too tightly, but you think this whole evening is a good memory to have, for when Vriska is being particularly obnoxious. It will help you remember why you are so pale for her.
Chapter 19: Every Dog Has Her Day (Jade ⋄ Tavros)
I'd like to request some Jade⋄Tavros?
“It's sort of, traditional, as a show of trust, for moirails to reveal certain weaknesses to each other,” Tavros explained awkwardly as Jade paid rapt attention.
“You mean it's romantic?” she asked with a grin.
“Uh... yes. It's romantic,” and he blushed to the tips of his ears.
“Hmm.” She chewed at her lip thoughtfully for a while. “I like having my ears scritched.”
“Well, right behind my ears,” she nodded. “Bec was the same way. I guess it carried over!”
“Uh... I see. Right.... here?” he asked, tentatively raising a hand to Jade's head and scratching softly.
“Ooooh, yeah, that's the spot,” she said, her face turning into a mask of bliss.
“Yes, this is exactly the kind of thing, I was talking about,” Tavros said.
Chapter 20: Red Eye Special (Dave ⋄ Terezi)
Dave⋄Terezi? Please? ouo
“Dave, I am not speaking to you! I understand this is common procedure for humans when one has wronged the other.”
Dave sat down heavily on the pile anyway.
“Sorry, Rez, you just broke the vow of silence. You can't take it again for another thirty days. Them's the rules.”
“I don't believe you. Unless you are ready to produce documents attesting to these 'rules', I will continue to not speak to you.”
“You realize that if you don't talk, there's no way for me to know what I did to piss you off. Unless there's something you haven't been telling me about this pale business and spontaneously developing psychic powers is part of the deal, in which case, holy shit, James Randi better prepare his checkbook.”
“If you don't know what you did, then I'm not telling you!”
“Because that's procedure?”
“I have to say, this is the wordiest god damn silent treatment I've ever gotten.”
She didn't reply this time.
“How about if I let you lick my eyeball again?”
“Dave! Are you trying to bribe a legislacerator?” she asked, giving him her best shark grin.
“Is it working?”
She tilted her head, considering.
“Maybe just this once,” she said.
“Awesome,” he deadpanned. “Conjunctivitis, here I come.”
Chapter 21: A Full Time Job (Feferi ♣ Karkat ♣ The Empire)
Feferi ♣ Karkat ♣ The Empire
Karkat has the dubious honor of making sure that the new troll empress does not completely flip her shit and follow in the bloody footsteps of her ancestor.
It was impossible to go through one of these meetings without someone saying
to set off the Condesce, but at least this younger one was less prone to cull you before you even started attempting an apology (not starting to attempt an apology would still have gotten you culled by the old Condesce, but not before you'd already been wishing for death for some time).
It was also easier to realize when you'd said something completely idiotic, because the Imperial Auspistice's eye twitched in that peculiar way, and a vein on his forehead started throbbing in anticipation of the fit he was going to pitch.
The Condesce, on the other hand, showed teeth. She showed a lot of teeth, in a configuration that wasn't precisely a smile. She looked not merely like an aquatic predator, but something abyssal and utterly alien. If someone said she'd learned that expression from Gl'bgolyb, everyone would believe it, but most trolls expanded a lot of effort daily trying not to think of the Condesce's lusus.
“Please repeat that, Counsadvisor Prongfin?” Her Imperious Condescension hissed in the offender's direction, quiet and low.
The seadweller, wedged between an indigo who suddenly found the ceiling absolutely fascinated, and another seadweller who was trying to surreptitiously sink under the table, looked upon his Empress with a slightly dim expression.
“Uh... I said that—“
“He's not going to say it again,” the Imperial Auspistice said firmly. Seated to the Condesce's left, and slightly behind the throne, he sat up now and moved next to her.
“You're right, I heard him P-ERF-ECTLY the first time—“
The Condesce made to get up, but the Imperial Auspistice firmly put his hand on her shoulder and made her sit down again. To have not even a lowblood but a mutant so boldly touch Her Imperiousness in front of those of Most High Blood sent more than one Counsadvisor into a mild fit of apoplexy.
“You'll sit down,” the Imperial Auspistice instructed firmly. The Condesce puffed up her cheeks, but did not cull him out of hand, as most people in the room not only expected, but hoped. She merely sat back down and twirled her 2*3dent while glaring at Prongfin malevolently.
“Counsavisor Prongfin, can you understand the exact details of just how fucked up the thing you suggested is?” the Imperial Auspistice asked.
Prongfin looked around, finding that everybody was avoiding eye contact. His two neighbors were leaning as far away from his direction as they could while still being seated. The Counsadvisor looked, for all intents and purposes, like a wriggler who hadn't caught up on his schoolfeeding before being quizzed, and hoping desperately someone would whisper him the answers.
“I—I don't see what's wrong, since it's what we've always... done,” Prongfin defended himself, voice fading as the silence in the room turned from awkward to stunned.
As progressive and radical as the new Condesce might have been, there were times even the Imperial Auspistice looked like he wished she'd be more willing to cull some people. Prongfin was not just slow—he was slow enough to qualify as going backwards. If he'd ever had an intelligent thought in his life, its existence was a hypothetical fiercely debated by scientortionists everywhere and believed to be real only by a lunatic fringe.
The Imperial Auspistice tried to remember this before he set off on a rant, because trying to process too many words at once might well overheat the spongematter Prongfin carried around in his head just to keep himself from tipping over.
“I think what we need right now is a little understanding, on both sides,” he started, and Prongfin looked relieved, perhaps only now realizing how close he'd come to sporting a few more holes than congruent with continued survival. If he thought he was getting off easy, though, he was going to have a nasty surprise.
“First, you need to understand that Her Imperiousness has put considerable effort into improving the festering interstellar shitpile she inherited from the blithering kook who preceded her, all while you morally repugnant douchebags have been scrambling to ensure your own interests and sabotaging her every endeavor, something which you seem to believe is happening without her notice, because you're all smug but cerebrally defunct assholes who think yourselves smarter than her when pretty much all evidence points to the fact that your thinkpans might as well be filled with grubshit and rusty nails for all the use you're putting them to.”
The room didn't explode so much as implode. Jaws dropped. Faces flushed. Eyes popped. In the far end of the room, an elderly seadweller tried to rise to his feet, evidently ready to go off on a rant of his own, but the blueblood next to him, coincidentally the seadweller's moirail, stabbed him in the leg with a four-tined eating implement she'd produced from the sylladex, and the seadweller dropped back into his seat with a “hrrark” sound.
The Imperial Auspistice took notice of all this in the seconds it took him to draw in breath again, before he turned back to the Condesce.
“And you, your Imperious Condescension, need to understand that out of this entire pack of backstabbing gluttonbeasts, there is one who is clearly superior to all the others in terms of producing the most inane and poorly-thought-out statements the Empire's codices have ever had to suffer on their pages, and that is former Consadvisor Prongfin.”
“...Bwuh?” Prongfin said, a statement on par with his usual level of eloquence.
The indigo next to him, Counsadvisor Sandgall her name was, leaned over and hissed in a stage whisper, “You're fired, moron.”
“...Bwuh?” Prongfin repeated, moving not an inch from his position.
“It means you better leave now,” the Imperial Auspistice said slowly and clearly.
“Come on, put your hands on the table,” Sandgall instructed. “Now push yourself up—no, not down, up—there you go, you're on your feet now! Good, now turn around—other way! Push the chair out of the way first—good. Now straight ahead towards the door.”
The whole room watched with mixed feelings as Prongfin, still in shock, walked towards the door and managed to leave the room only on the second try, the first time having smacked against the door frame and bouncing off, as insensate as a rag doll.
Everybody in the room was still staring at the door in slightly bewildered silence long after Prongfin left, except for the Imperial Auspistice, who just looked annoyed; the Condesce, who looked appeased; and Counsadvisor Sandgall, who was immensely pleased by this development.
“He always took the chair with the comfier cushion,” Sandgall muttered happily as she switched seats.
Chapter 22: Opportunities (Vriska ⋄ Nepeta)
I'd like to see some Nepeta⋄Vriska. No SGRUB Alternia. They FLARP together. And without Equius' guidance, Nepeta is practically feral, and her aggression and blithe defiance of the hemospectrum are constantly landing her in hot water with the highbloods. Then Vriska has to be her overprotective big sister and sort everything out, and she's all like, "How did I get stuck with the only troll on Alternia crazier than I am????????" but she loves it anyway.
When people ask, you tell them that you keep Nepeta around for the excitement.
Ahahaha, yes, that's exactly the reason. She's just so exciting , all the time.
“Serket, you need to put your kitty on a leash,” a snooty blueblood in an antiquated ruffiannihilator uniform sneers at you.
“What's the matter, Pittok?” you taunt. “Scared by a little meowbeast? Did she purr at you too threateningly?”
But the truth is that you say all this because Nepeta scares you just a little bit as well. Not a lot! And it's not really being scared, so much as... exercising caution. But sometimes, when she gets in the right frame of mind, and really into the game, well... You do wish she'd stop giving you those grins she does, especially when her mouth is full of blood and it's dripping down her chin in bluish rivulets. She probably doesn't realize how perturbing it is.
“Why do you keep inviting her?” the other Flarper present asks, a teal with perfectly manicured claws. You don't know her name, just her character's name, but you know she's the one with the melodramatic speeches. You wish you could feed her to your lusus, but she hasn't lost a campaign yet.
“I don't!” you say. “I assumed you guys did.”
The teal raises an eyebrow.
“Serket, why would we invite your friend here when we obviously don't like her?”
You shrug your shoulders. You don't like any of the doofuses you're forced to Flarp with these days, but you keep playing with them anyway.
“Well, I guess we'll have to tell her she's out. Ugh,” the teal scowls. “Don't look now, she's coming.”
Nepeta bounces towards the group, smiling widely as she adjusts the animal skull on her head. You almost can't believe that this good-natured girl can turn into an absolute berserker once a game starts, but you've witnessed it plenty of times already.
“The mighty huntress greets the rest of the pack and asks when the hunt will begin,” she says, curling her hands like paws and tilting her head with the inquiry.
“Well, Serket?” Pittok raises an eyebrow at you. “Tell her.”
“Tell me what?” Nepeta asks, perking up at the possibility of a surprise.
“Nepeta,” you start, and see the teal start snickering out of the corner of your eye. When you open your mouth again, completely different words than you intend come out: “The hunt is already on! They're the prey!” And you point at Pittok and the tealblood.
Before they can even blink in surprise, Nepeta has already pounced into action. You stand for a while and watch the carnage, and realize there's an opportunity in this relationship that you hadn't considered before.
You do tear her off them eventually. It takes some doing, but you pull her off of Pittok along with a chunk of his ear, and you shoosh her tenderly.
“Nepeta, we are going to be the best team ever,” you promise her solemnly as you run your hand over her head and down her spine, just like petting a meowbeast.
Nepeta smiles her dimply little smile and purrs.
Chapter 23: Snarky Broads (Rose ⋄ Vriska)
Rose⋄Vriska, evolving into moirallegiance via generally bitching at each other. (If it ends in what would be, for the quadrant, really pornographic cuddling, so much the better!)
From the beginning, you were never sure if what you felt for Vriska had more to do with what the trolls called “pale”, or with a very human impulse to meddle. In fact, were it not for your natural inclination towards helping others cope with their psychological issues, the relationship you had with Vriska might well have qualified as caliginous.
But the troll girl was just so easy to read, so obvious in her weaknesses, so oblivious to her flaws, that it was hard not to take out your clicky pens and... fix her. You understand now the appeal in moirallegiance, the feeling of being vested in another person, though you've never witnessed two moirails who verbally spar as much as the two of you do. But that is part of the appeal too: you're tired of quiet psychological warfare, you're tired of passive aggressive maneuvering and hiding your frustrations behind a veneer of dutiful affection.
You like being able to meet Vriska sneer for sneer and jab for jab. You like picking her apart with your words and dissecting her mind, you like that she allows it. You also like that she gets under your skin as well, that she forces you to constantly re-evaluate yourself and adapt to every dizzying insight into your own character.
You don't know at what point exactly you found yourself in this quadrant with Vriska, but it sort of comes as a shock to the both of you, as if you suddenly woke up in a locked room together and are forced to acknowledge each other.
You're sure Vriska herself figured it out around the time she pulled you into a hug in public and kissed your forehead almost reverently. If nothing else, the way Nepeta shot out of the room to update her shipping wall made it official.
Chapter 24: Snarky Broads Redux (Rose ⋄ Vriska)
...and why does this work so well, this dynamic is surprisingly likely, might need a Vriska POV on it too to balance it out a bit...
You didn't think you were dangerous—which is to say, yes, you were dangerous, but not in that way which required you to be reined in, like you were some obtuse wriggler who couldn't help herself from wrecking everything around you. You didn't need to be
, is what you used to think, because all the bad things you did were done consciously and in full awareness of the consequences.
Except now you're forced to confront the fact that that was another one of what Rose calls your “self-delusions”. She informs you of this in that calm tone of hers, with a faint, condescending smile, and it's clear she expects you to argue with her and deny. And you do argue. You argue bitterly, but you don't deny, because playing into her expectations would mean that she wins.
She has a habit of doing that, finding every single hole in your defense and poking her fingers through like your psyche is a moth-eaten sweater. She judges and she evaluates, and she takes you apart one neurosis at a time, but she doesn't leave you open and raw as you would have expected from her. She tells you in that even, reasonable tone that irritates you so much how to compensate for every single one of your vulnerabilities.
Sometimes, you try to do the same to her, but you don't foster any illusions that you are as effective as she is. You take pride in the few times you throw her off balance and leave her speechless, but you don't have her focus. You're not like her, you can't just hone in one other people's weaknesses the way she can, but you have the perseverance to besiege her until something you say finally sticks, even if by accident.
It's a contentious kind of moirallegiance, but it's moirallegiance nonetheless. Pale isn't always nice, they say, and sometimes pain is required to make a person stronger. You understand that now. And you can tell, day after day, that she makes you stronger. It's nothing like kismesissitude, where everything is a battle. What you have with Rose is an unending sparring match.
And you'll get right back to that in a minute, but for now, this very moment, you need to thank her, and you kiss her forehead in the sappiest pale gesture you can think of.
Chapter 25: Reap What You Sow (John ⋄ Vriska)
John⋄Vriska pretty please? We can guess what John does for Vriska but how does Vriska return it?
You messed up. You seriously,
messed up for once, and okay, maybe the fate of the universe wasn't hanging in the balance
time, but now all your friends are angry with you and nobody is answering when you pester them, so you can't apologize, and you just don't know what to do.
It's why you're currently holed up in your room, hiding under a blanket and thinking about what you've done, just like when Dad used to ground you for doing something bad. You're a bit too old to get grounded anymore, and Dad isn't around anymore, but you try not to remind yourself that.
You didn't mean things to go so badly, though! It was just supposed to be a funny prank, and you didn't expect it to snowball out of control like that, but it kinda figures that trolls wouldn't react too well to getting startled. It's not their fault, they just grew up in a pretty crappy place. It's your fault because you honestly should have known better by now.
Karkat wasn't even angry with you. He was just so disappointed, that thinking about it makes you feel little pinpricks of shame up and down your spine, and you pull your blanket closer.
There's a knock on the door. Eight knocks, actually, so you already know who it is.
“Come in,” you call out, and Vriska walks in with a grave expression on her face. Her hair is damp, but still a faint, fluorescent green (you guess that powder must be a bit harder to wash out of troll hair). She doesn't look murderous or anything. Just super serious.
“John, is this where you've been hiding this whole time?” she asks.
You nod from under your blanket.
She plops herself down next to you.
“I thought you were still mad at me,” you mutter.
“Oh, sure I am!” she says, and gestures to her hair. “See this, John? I washed my hair nine times. Do you understand that, John? NINE TIMES.” She shudders. “And I'm still green! You messed up big time, mister!”
“I'm sorry! I didn't mean to, things just got way out of hand and mmff—”
“Shoooooosh,” she says, while covering your mouth with her hand. “Shoosh.”
You're perfectly calm now, so the hair ruffling and the face papping comes across as completely unnecessary, but you still keep your mouth shut.
“So you're not mad at me anymore?” you ask.
“John, of course I'm mad at you. I'm furious.”
“But I'm still your moirail, and as such, it was my responsibility to prevent this disaster. This whole debacle was as much my fault as it was yours.”
“Well, but, I didn't tell you what I was going to do? So I don't see how—”
“Shoosh!” She paps your face.
“Shooooooooooosh.” Pap. Pap. Pap.
“I'm shooshing, I'm shooshing!” you say, leaning back and away. All this facetouching is getting a bit unsettling.
“Good!” She grins, looking completely pleased with herself. “But now that I realized my mistake, it's time to step up my game. It was stupid of me to assume that just because you're a weak, fleshy human, you can't be as dangerous as a troll! Since I know that now, I will have to adjust my strategy! I will be the best moirail, you'll see! We'll be attached at the hip from now on.”
“Uh...” You're not sure you like the manic glint in Vriska's eye. You already thought she was the best moirail, even a bit too moiraily for your taste. You don't really want to know how she intends to step up her game. It's making you a bit apprehensive.
But then again, you did this to yourself. Even a good prankster ends up on the bad end of their own prank once in awhile.
Chapter 26: And Then Everybody Got Along (Signless ♣ Condesce ♣ Grand Highblood)
Signless/Condesce/Grand Highblood ashen-style. I have no clue who'd be the middle leaf there, but for the fun of it let's go with "not Signless." XD
Things would have gone without a hitch and the heretic could have been dead on the jut by dawn, but for the unexpected turn of events that lead the Condesce to drop in for a surprise visit and a little upgrade for her battleship.
You still don't know which blabbermouth let slip that you'd captured a powerful psionic, but you comfort yourself with the thought that whoever it was will make a nice addition to the wall in your throne room. You hope it's someone more in the green spectrum, because you do so need to touch up the greens.
At any rate, here she is, Her Imperious Condescension, taking an interest , as one of your lackeys so aptly phrased it. You've had to cede your throne room to her, and she did not even hesitate to occupy it. She has been filling her hours while her new Helmsman is being installed by playing with the psionic's friend, the one they called the Signless.
“He's a tub of laughs, this guy,” she informs you with delight as you walk through the door.
The mutant is shackled so heavily, that barely an inch of his body is showing through the chains. His nose is bleeding unholy red, and his eyes are the same color, bright and piercing as he glares at you. He can barely turn his head, but he can glare .
“He was supposed to be publicly executed by now,” you grumble, displeased. “But no, I guess having your MOTHERFUCKING LAUGHS is somehow MORE IMPORTANT.”
“A'course it is,” she says, and prods the mutant with her foot. “Should have heard the fins he was yellin' at me earlier. He's got a nasty temper once you get 'im going.”
“I hope you realize what a filthy sack of excrement you are and the epiphany makes you choke on your own puke and die,” the Signless hisses.
You deliver a perfunctory kick to his ribs.
“Yeah, kick the trussed up asshole on the floor, that sure proves you're better. Maybe later you can stomp on some grubs and kick some infant barkbeasts to show how strong and fearless you are.”
You raise your foot, ready to stomp on the motherfucker's head and scatter his spongematter all over your floor when the Condesce stops you.
“Oi! Water you doin'?” she yells, raising her 2*3dent at you. “Do I look like I'm finished with 'im?”
“He's supposed to be MOTHERFUCKING DEAD BY NOW,” you snarl.
“Killing me won't make me any less right,” the mutant mutters.
“Won't make you any less of a PIECE OF MUTANT SHIT, either,” you retort.
“Buoys, buoys, reel it in, will ya?” the Condesce tuts. “Or do I need to play middle leaf?”
“Better a piece of mutant shit than a fucking punchline to the biggest joke in the universe,” the mutant growls.
You're not sure at which point you produce the clubs, but you're ready and raring to smash every single bone in the mutant's body, when the Codesce gets out of her seat and puts herself between the two of you.
“Right, I sea I'm gonna need to step in,” she says with an exaggerated sigh. She pushes you slightly back. “Now look here, are ya gonna shut your fuckin' mouths and get along, or am I gonna have ta stick a bitch?” She twirls her 2*3dent for emphasis.
It strikes you that killing the Condesce would backfire spectacularly. At the same time, it must strike the mutant that giving any more lip to his superiors would introduce him to an entirely avoidable world of pain.
You both nod, begrudgingly.
A huge grin splits the tyrian's face as she looks from one of you to the other.
“Oh, buoy, this is so -EXCITING, I've never had my clubs filled 'til now! I'm D-EFINIT-ELY keeping this guy alive!” And she punctuates this statement with a friendly kick to the mutant's thigh.
You seriously wonder if running away would cause her to truss you up like the mutant, and decide not to risk it.
Chapter 27: Enabling (Terezi ⋄ Sollux)
I'm not sure if you're still taking requests, but if you are, can I have some Terezi⋄Sollux?
Karkat could deal with Terezi and Sollux's brand new moirallegiance. More than deal. Be glad for, even. They'd always gotten along well, those two, and ever since Sollux's blindness, it seemed like moirallegiance was the next natural step in their relationship.
And Karkat could deal with the way Sollux was embracing Terezi's passion for art, even if the two had filled the entire meteor with shitty drawings in red and blue, and the thin layer of chalk dust that covered everything nowadays was irritating as hell and made him sneeze all the time. The way they were willing to indulge each other's harmless quirks and obsessions was touchingly pale.
He could even deal with Sollux developing the habit of licking everything, even if he was a lot more intrusive about it than Terezi. Where she preferred quick darting licks, he slathered his tongue against surfaces and licked slowly and judiciously, smacked his tongue a bit, and then licked a second time. Karkat could deal with that, even when he was at the wrong end of it.
But the laughter.
Great asspunching horrorterror on a stick, the laughter .
Sollux giggled and Terezi cackled, and between the two of them, the halls of the meteor echoed with his nasal “hehehe” and her shrill “H3H3H3” at every hour of the night, like a soundtrack to life in the Land of Psychotic Glee and Hallways. The unsettling way the echoes tickled Karkat's auricular canals almost made him crack.
He even decided at one point to tell them to shut up, in the nicest way that was possible while still yelling at them, and he would have, he was all set to do it.
And then he saw them from a distance, sitting together on the floor, face to face, with their legs tangled so they'd take up as little space as possible and not ruin the chalk drawings that surrounded them on all sides. He saw them with their heads together, laughing and licking and whispering in each other's ears, and he couldn't say anything. They were content and peaceful in a way trolls could rarely achieve. His friends were happy, and he couldn't shit on that, no matter how much of an asshole he was.
So after that, he could deal with the laughter as well.
Chapter 28: A Heaping Pile Of Pale (Karkat ⋄ Everybody)
Polymoirailous shenanigans? Karkat is the pale stud. It is him. None of his quadrantmates mind.
The truth of the matter was, if Karkat hadn't started out with such rigid views on what moirallegiance entailed, it was entirely possible he wouldn't have ended up in this situation, because he would have noticed the signs very early on. But he had, and he did.
The thing with Gamzee was easy, it was straightforward. He stopped a murder spree, and Gamzee stopped him from imploding from sheer rage. It was nice and official. It was traditional.
The thing with Rose snuck up on him, though. He had no idea what 'mommy issues' were, or why it was so momentous that he'd helped her with them, but he could appreciate Rose helping him sort out his own issues with self-loathing. And then there was Kanaya, but conciliatory behavior was almost second-nature to both of them, so it wasn't really a moirallegiance so much as too much free-range paleness flying around. And Dave... he was so similar to Karkat, that he was much easier to deal with once the self-loathing impulses had been reined in somewhat. Especially after his quadrant confusion with Terezi resolved itself into the mutually supportive relationship it did.
And then he met John in person, and he couldn't help but connect to him the way only the leaders of two spectacularly failed sessions of the game could. And then Jade was there to give him a kick in the ass when he needed it. And Davesprite, who was broken in ways he couldn't even comprehend.
And, well, in some way or another, Karkat had become everybody's moirail. Not in the same ways; he didn't give everyone the same thing, and he rarely got back the same from two different people, but all of these relationships, upon careful analysis, could be recognized as pale.
It was bizarre. And a bit devastating, to realize he'd been cheating on Gamzee so freely. But then Gamzee shrugged his shoulders, smiled and offered Karkat a Faygo. “Ain't no thing, brother. Just spreading that special pale stardust all over those what need it.”
Even more maddening was the fact that everybody else (including the humans, for god's sake) had noticed it as well and were just as blasé about the entire thing as Gamzee.
“You're just helping everyone do better with their lives, so we try to help you too,” John had explained it simply. “I don't see what's wrong with that.”
“If anything, I would take this as a testament to your skills as a moirail,” Kanaya had said.
“You're looking the gifthorse in the mouth so hard you're seeing out its ass,” was Dave's contribution.
And so on, and so forth, until it became clear that not only was everyone aware of this arrangement, but they were perfectly happy with it!
“But... this isn't how it's supposed to work,” Karkat whimpered, as he was pulled into his pile, at this point composed almost solely of his own moirails.
“Shoosh,” three different voices rose up, as both his cheeks were patted by at least five grubby hands.
Chapter 29: Routine (Karkat ♣ Terezi ♣ Sollux)
Karkat ♣ Terezi ♣ Sollux?
Occasionally, Karkat would get too attached to the sound of his own screaming voice, and you would have to step in and drub some shins before he and Sollux ended up having some very public angry makeouts.
He always reacted with surprise when you did.
“Terezi, what the hell?” he would scream, emanating a scent of feeling betrayed that was much more sour than his usual citric anger.
“Serves you right,” Sollux would say, and then you'd have to knock some sense into him too. His feelings of betrayal tasted more lemony than Karkat's. “TZ, what the hell?”
“Don't mind me,” you would chuckle. “Continue your immodest public flirtation. Just remember which quadrant it should be in.”
And then they'd both contritely ask each other if they were still ashenmates, and they'd sheepishly agree that they still were, and you'd get the warm, fuzzy feeling of accomplishment that you rightly deserved to get as their auspistice.
And the whole thing would, of course, repeat itself the next day. That was ashen for you.
Chapter 30: The Deep End (John ⋄ Feferi)
If there was one thing Karkat had learned to appreciate over the years, it was John Egbert's sense of timing. Or maybe his tingling friendleader senses, if Dave was to be believed.
Whatever it was, Karkat did not appreciate more than when Feferi got that glint in her eye, when her cheeks puffed up in insult and the grip on her 2*3dent tightened just a bit. No matter how easy-going she'd been as a wriggler, as an adult, her tyrian blood had begun exacting its toll. Her smiles had become a bit sharper, her temper a bit shorter. She herself, a bit scarier.
Karkat tried not to imagine just how dead all of them would have been a long time ago if it weren't for John.
“Oh, hey, guys, what's going on?” he asked, walking into the room smiling, completely oblivious to the tension in the air.
“Nothing, John,” Feferi replied, her gaze still fixated on Karkat. “We were just discussing some fins.”
“Cool,” John grinned. “Huh. You know, your pokey trident thing is pretty sweet, Feferi.”
“Oh?” Her frown lessened somewhat, and she looked at her weapon as if she'd just now noticed she was holding it. “Yes, I guess it's pretty impres sea ve.”
John grinned at the pun.
“Can I see it?”
“Shore, how about I show you how I fish with it?”
Karkat breathed a sigh of relief as they left the room, the sounds of their discussion fading with distance.
“Do you suppose John realizes he's Feferi's moirail?” Kanaya asked after a while.
Karkat was about to categorically deny it, on account of Egbert being an oblivious douchebag with the social acumen of a grubsauce pudding, but he closed his mouth before he could make a sound.
Nobody was that oblivious. And if he knew, it certainly explained some things.
But no, he couldn't know. After all these years, he still didn't get how quadrants worked.
Chapter 31: He'd Never See It Coming (John ⋄ Karkat)
I want John⋄Karkat please
You are never going to get used to Karkat's unexpected acts of affection. You understand that the pale quadrant isn't one of the sex relationships, but it's still occasionally unsettling to be reminded that trolls consider this type of relationship to be just as romantic as humans consider marriage.
Heh. You're troll-married. That's a thing , apparently.
Anyway, yes. The, um, hair-ruffling to calm you down is strange, but kind of funny. And the way he pokes you with his bony shoulder when you sit on the couch to watch movies together is really quite endearing. When he absent-mindedly straightens your collar, it's... bittersweet, in the way it reminds you of how your dad used to do the same thing.
But his habit of coming at you out of nowhere, hugging you tightly for a few seconds and then running off is by far the hardest to get used to. You never know how to react, and before you can think of something, he is already gone.
Maybe you should try ambush-hugging him too, one of these days. See how he takes to it. Turnabout is fair game, and besides, you're fairly sure he wouldn't let you hug him if he saw you coming.
Chapter 32: Never Saw It Coming (John ⋄ Karkat)
... oh hey. Actually I'd like to see this from Karkat's POV, if you have any idea how it works? ♥
John totally should ambush him back. XD
As you pass through the hallway, you stick close to the wall, where the floorboards won't squeak. With predatory slowness, you follow your moirail as he turns a corner, far enough behind him that he doesn't notice you yet.
The hallway is empty as you turn the same corner, and conclude that he must have walked through the open kitchen doorway. You approach slowly, and listen for any sound of movement, trying to gauge his exact position, but it is completely silent.
You risk being seen by peering inside the kitchen.
Were you mistaken?
Perplexed by this turn of events, you stand in the doorway, feeling bereft. Perhaps this is the punishment you deserve for being such an ass and assaulting your moirail whenever the need for physical affection overwhelmed you. It isn't fair, this thing you're doing, where you're not allowing him to refuse your displays of paleness, but you're not sure how to go about it in any other way. Asking would be horrifically awkward, and telegraphing your intentions might well be met with a rejection you're not sure you can survive.
Disappointment and shame pool in your belly as you walk into the kitchen—only to be replaced by shock.
John jumps out of seemingly nowhere and throws his arms around you, hugging you tight enough to knock the wind out of you. He was been hiding next to the doorway, just inside the kitchen, which meant he knew you were following him.
“Surprise,” he whispers in your ear, and then he releases you and runs out of the kitchen laughing.
You remain in place for a long moment, swaying on your feet and feeling yourself smile.
Chapter 33: Can't Go Back (Dave ⋄ Aradia)
Oh man, some Dave⋄Aradia would be cool. Maybe he's helping her adjust to a re-created Earth or something. Mini-angst about missing Alternia on the side, maybe?
At night, long past sunset, she would open the window of his room and lean her head on the windowsill, listening to the sounds of the city with her eyes closed.
“Does it help?” Dave asked in a moment of embarrassingly non-ironic sympathy.
“It actually doesn't sound anything like Alternia,” she replied, smiling faintly. “It smells different, too. And the nights are a lot darker, perhaps because you only have one moon.”
“Is that good or bad?”
She remained silent for a long time.
“I'm okay with it,” she said eventually.
Dave got up and pulled her inside, closing the window.
“Don't be okay with it ,” he said. “I think you're just about due for some raging at the general unfairness of the universe.”
“Dave, you are a terrible moirail,” she said with a forced joking demeanor.
“If that's what I gotta be to make sure you don't end up dead inside, then yeah,” he said, “I am the worst motherfucking moirail this side of a galactic frog's rectum, and proud of it.”
She smiled and took his hand, kissing the inside of his wrist.
“Alright,” she said, with a playful sparkle in her eyes. “I believe you.”
Chapter 34: Family Business (Jane ⋄ Condesce)
One of the kids being a moirail for a "reformed" condesce, having to remind her everytime she starts to slip back into villainy
While Jane firmly believed family was important, certain members of it were beginning to wear on her patience. Her would-be great-grandmother was a nigh-immortal genocidal former empress of a completely different species, and while Jane honestly did believe her when she said she wanted to turn over a new leaf, actually doing so was proving difficult for Her Condescension.
“We must, of course, remove all of that mind control garbage from CrockerCorp technology,” Jane told her firmly. The alien woman only stared in confusion.
“Water you talkin' about?” she snorted. “How's anyone gonna buy anyfin from us without it?”
“We will simply have to put out better products than our competitors,” Jane explained slowly.
The Condesce's brow furrowed in thought, but after a few minutes she grinned widely, as if she just understood something. Jane had learned that this was a look that usually preceded a particularly appalling statement leaving her mouth.
“Got it,” she winked exaggeratedly, “so we krill our competitors and everyone will have to buy from us!”
“ No. ”
“Boat then how—“
“No killing, no culling, no eliminating, no executing—we made a list, remember?”
Jane pointed to the list on the fridge, written in tyrian purple, detailing all the many ways the Condesce was not allowed to cause, influence or encourage anyone's early demise. It was a long list.
The Condesce sighed deeply, like a child being denied a toy by her parents, but Jane was not about to be emotionally manipulated by sea Hitler.
“Now, back to CrockerCorp,” Jane said, moving the conversation along, “I think we should consider returning to the old logo.“
And while the Condesce spent the rest of the day sulking, at least she didn't offer any new questionable suggestions. Jane decided to count it as progress.
Chapter 35: The Coat Makes the Troll, the Moirail Makes the Coat (Karkat ⋄ Kanaya)
Karkat⋄Kanaya if it's not too much trouble. Maybe modeling outfits or just cuddling.
When Karkat bursts through her hive door, winding up to a rant of truly awe-inspiring levels of vitriol, Kanaya knows it is her cue to start picking out fabric.
Karkat seems to do his best ranting when he's experiencing physical discomfort, and as long as he is going to go off anyway, there is no reason an enterprising fashionista can't take advantage of this by having him stand perfectly still in uncomfortably rigid positions while she pins fabric to him. All that is required on Kanaya's part at this stage is silence and the occasional nod, or a polite sound of agreement now and then.
When his anger is spent and he comes out of the haze of rage blinking slowly and panting, that is when he notices that he is suddenly wearing a dapper new waistcoat or a bright-colored dress that does not in any way resemble anything he wore when he first arrived at Kanaya's hive.
He doesn't say anything though, his jaw snapping closed like he's swallowing back words, and Kanaya gives him a perfectly serene smile.
“Do you want to know what I think?” she usually says at this point.
And he nods, keeping silent as it becomes Kanaya's turn to talk, and she does so while picking out accessories to go with his new outfit.
Chapter 36: Cultural Divide (John ⋄ Kanaya)
John⋄Kanaya, with John being a <3 relationship with Vriska, and Kanaya being in a <3 relationship with Rose, so the two of them get together to complain about the flighty light bitches they're tied to.
“...And then I tried to explain why that sort of response would be completely disproportionate, but I don't think she grasped the fact that a prank war isn't supposed to
involve military action,” John said, as he sipped his hot chocolate.
“Vriska is only trying to help,” Kanaya replied, as she stirred her own tea. “She's understandably protective of her matesprit.”
“Uh, that's nice, but I'm pretty sure nobody was ever killed by a water balloon before,” John snorted. “I don't need to be protected from inconvenient dampness, I'm not a paper tissue!”
Kanaya patted his arm sympathetically.
“Which is why you should be firm with her. Don't let her set the wrong tone in your relationship, or you will find it extremely difficult to set things right,” she said.
“Mmhmm. Are you still caught in the passive aggressive crossfire between Rose and her mom?”
“These women, John. They vex me.”
“I know the feeling.”
“Interspecies relationships are difficult,” Kanaya sighed.
“Yeah. That, or...”
“Or our matesprits are the difficult ones.”
“...No, no, I'm sure it's only the cultural divide.”
“Yeah, I'm sure that's it.”
Chapter 37: Lovely Lies and Awful Truths (Dave ⋄ Terezi)
Could I humbly submit a request for some Dave⋄Terezi of a more serious nature? Like a really awesomely emotional feelings jam about fears and crushes and stuff of that nature?
There is always something sinister about the way Terezi plays with your hair, the way she strokes it like you're the fluffy white cat to her cackling lunatic supervillain.
It's not the least bit reassuring, which just makes you wonder why you feel at ease sharing your most intimate thoughts with her; probably because you've taken too many smuppet rumps to the face. Messed your perception of reality pretty fuckin' hard.
You can see no other reasons you'd admit the things you've admitted to her otherwise.
“Afraid of what ?” she asks you, because even feeling jams are like an interrogation when your moirail is Miss Ooh-justice-makes-me-so-wet. Maybe it's the reason you're more honest than you intend with her.
“I don't know, 'Rez. Of dying, of losing the game, of living with losing—“ And you know that last one's happened already, you've seen how Davesprite has come out of that ordeal, so you don't even need to make much of an effort to imagine what that would do to you. “Of a lot of things going completely assfucked sideways.”
The silence extends for a long time, only the gentle scritch of her claws against your skull disturbing the stillness.
“Well?” you say, after it becomes clear Terezi has no intention of saying anything herself.
“Well what, Dave? Those are perfectly valid fears, and not only could they happen, but in certain timelines, already did!”
“...I was expecting something more along the lines of 'everything's going to be alright, Dave', not 'your worst nightmares might still come true'.”
“But everything might not be alright, and then I would have been lying,” Terezi points out.
“Humans enjoy being lied to?”
“They do when they're on the verge of a stroke-inducing panic fit. Soothing lies are the blood thinners of the soul.”
“I will keep that in mind then. But, Dave...”
“Things still have the potential to go catastrophically wrong, for all of us.”
“Which will make our impending victory and happy ending all the more sweeter.”
Chapter 38: Unorthodox (Rose ⋄ Karkat)
It only takes her raising her wand for you to be struck by the certainty that you cannot and will not beat Rose Lalonde in a fight when she is in this state. If you were faced merely with a god tier player, that would have been hard as fuck to manage, but her death would have been just and thus still possible.
But not like this; not when darkness rolls off her in waves and everything she says comes out as vaguely sinister gibberish. You can't beat her when she's impervious to pain and has the power of incomprehensibly powerful evil being to call upon.
So you exhale, you try to calm your breath—and you drop your sickles.
They clatter in the silence, loud enough to make you wince. Kanaya gapes at you, and you can hear Terezi inhale sharply, either in shock or because she can't quite believe her nose. Strider is already rearing up for some scornful comment, you can just tell.
Rose... doesn't react. She doesn't so much as raise an eyebrow, even though it's something you'd expect from the real Rose. A sardonic smirk and her condescendingly reasonable voice going 'really, Mr. Vantas, in the middle of a fight? I expected better from you.'
No, you can't win this battle with sickles. You'll lose. If there was ever a time for unorthodox strategies, it's now.
“Rose, shoosh,” you say as you walk calmly towards her.
Rose still doesn't move, but you're sure this time it's because of surprise. You can barely believe this is happening, so you don't expect the others to.
You stop in front of her, and very slowly, touch her cheek.
Her wand hand is slowly coming down in an uncertain bobbing motion, up-down-up-down, like she's scribbling something in the air.
You grit your teeth and put a hand on her shoulder, papping her cheek.
She smells like death and the vast emptiness between stars, but you pull her close.
She goes limp against you, and her wands clatters to the ground. You can just feel everybody's eyes on you, and their disbelief thick in the air.
The silence extends for a very long time.
“I seem to have caused quite a nuisance,” Rose says against your shoulder eventually, her voice as dry as paper.
“Just about what I'd expect from a human,” you mutter without much conviction, and rub her back.
You should probably be very angry right now, but you can't really muster it. You have no idea why you're happy , though.
Chapter 39: Never Boring (Kanaya ♣ Karkat ♣ Gamzee)
Kanaya ♣ Karkat ♣ Gamzee
It takes a long while for you to recognize the fact that you've been ashen for your moirail lately.
It's his own damn fault, or maybe yours. Ever since you managed to coax him out of hiding, it seems you've been playing an extended game of keep-away with him and Kanaya. You've become familiar with the way Kanaya stiffens and scowls when she's in the same room with Gamzee, and you've learned to recognize the aggressive little huff Gamzee makes when her presence becomes unbearable to him.
He eyes her chainsaw coolly, but he doesn't step out of the way. He challenges her instead of doing the smart fucking thing and beating a hasty retreat, and you honestly thought Kanaya would have more sense than to antagonize the murderclown, but it appears that the old cliché about romance making fools of everyone is true.
You realize, of course, that you're being too even-handed in the interference you're running for it to be anything but ashen. You thought you were only pale for the idiot, you really did, but throw him in the same room with Kanaya, and suddenly, the electric tension in the air becomes irresistible, and you need to make sure it works out, you have to make it better. It's no longer about stopping Gamzee from flipping out—he won't, he hasn't committed even a light stabbing since you calmed him the fuck down—it's about jumping in between him and Kanaya and making sure both come out intact. But at no point did you stop feeling pale for Gamzee, and that's what you find troubling.
You're muddying your quadrants again. This is like the Terezi fiasco come 'round again, except a lot more embarrassing because there are more people involved.
When you tell all this to Kanaya, point out to her that you're ashen in an uncomfortably pale-tinged feelings jam, she shrugs. Shrugs!
“It's better than the alternative,” she says.
Gamzee is much worse.
“Brother, you know you stir the pale cockles of my bloodpusher like no motherfucker alive, but if you didn't step in and do your ashen miracle, the walls woulda been pretty with jade a long time ago.”
Which is a valid point. For all that Kanaya feels justified in her hostility towards Gamzee, the latter has a lot of resentment towards Kanaya as well for being the one to cut Tavros in half. Alright, it's unjustified resentment: Tavros had been thankful to Kanaya, and even if she hadn't been the one to do the deed, someone else still would have had to chop the poor bastard in half before he could get his new legs. But Gamzee doesn't understand such fine moral distinctions. He's a hormonal adolescent who saw his hopes of pailing his flushcrush dashed before his eyes. His black vitriol had been born out of one of the oldest romance tropes in history, except the whole situation is a lot messier in real life than in the sterile delineation of fictional works.
But you can't shake the feeling that you three are the most ill-fitting ashen triad that Nepeta's shipping wall could have possibly shat out into the multiverse.
Sometimes, you want to punch Gamzee in the face, which is a perfectly valid ashen sentiment, even though it's not one the auspistice is supposed to experience. Kanaya, though, possessed by her unerring instincts for making a horrorterror out of a gnat, always butts in and tries to mediate, like she has any fucking right to tell you to calm down when she's the one who moments before was ready to tear out Gamzee's protein chute with her teeth.
And Gamzee's not any better, when your rage then turns to Kanaya and he takes her side, like you're not fucking justified to be angry at the meddling vampire douchebag trying to usurp your role, and in the astoundingly idiotic and perpetually snowballing argument that usually ensues, each one of you ends up taking up the role of auspistice at least three times.
The only thing your ashen quadrant has going for it is that it's never boring.
Chapter 40: Wildcat (Equius ⋄ Nepeta)
for a long time I've wanted to see Nepeta Equius with shooshpaps. They have feeling jams a lot, but I've never seen shooshpaps being used with these two, and I want to.
Your moirail is willful and unpredictable; it's what you've come to pity about Nepeta. She does not take well to being denied, no matter that you do it for her own health and safety, and there were times, especially in the beginning, when she responded with frightful rage to such gestures.
She'd snarl and hiss during her fits of rage, and if her hair didn't stand on end like a meowbeast's, you could almost imagine it doing so. She would growl and scratch at you if you came close. Your muscles are strong, but your skin is just as yielding as any other troll's, and she'd draw blood, leave matching blue furrows on both your forearms.
She'd struggle, and she'd make it so terribly hard for you to be gentle with her, to avoid breaking her, but somehow you always managed. You always wanted to pet her hair, but you didn't dare at this point, so you would bring your mouth to her ear and say softly, “shoosh, Nepeta, shoosh”.
At first she'd yowl like an angry meowbeast, but she'd settle eventually, as you cradled her to your chest. “Shoosh, shoosh,” you'd repeat, until her vocalizations died down. After she remained silent for a while, you'd run your fingers through her hair, smoothing it around her horns. “Shoosh,” you'd whisper, more to yourself than to her. “Shoosh.”
Chapter 41: Better Luck Next Time (Gamzee ♣ ??? ♣ Terezi)
When the knock on your door comes, you allow an appropriately long pause before you answer. It wouldn't do for a cool guy like you to run like a quivering maiden expecting her gentleman caller whenever someone is at your door, or they'll think you have nothing better to do than frit away your afternoons wringing your pearls and baking cookies waiting for people to drop in on you.
So by the time you open the door, Karkat has had more than enough time to stew in his juices, and all his juices are sour, so he greets you with a scowl.
“Well, looks like you wasted a trip. You'll never get this time back. Downright tragic,” you say.
“What the fuck are you verbally polluting my ears about now, Strider?” he sneers back.
“Time, Vantas. You done lost a bunch, hombre. When you're an old dried-out raisin on your deathbed—or death cocoon, whatever—and you're wondering where all your life has gone, you'll look back on this day and think, 'wow, if only I hadn't been such a dipshit and let that awesome dude with the shades take up so much of my time telling me to fuck off because he doesn't want to be the assclown and the scary sharklawyer girl's official cockblocker'.”
“...What? What are you talking about, you don't know why I'm here!”
“Uh, sorry to be the one to break this tragic news to you, Karkitten, but yeah I do. It's the same reason you've been houndin' everybody with a freaking pulse. You want someone to run interference between your psychotic manwife and Terezi.”
He grinds his jaw, and a vein on his forehead juts out grossly under the sheer pressure of Karkat Vantas trying to rein in his temper.
“Okay, so you've got me,” he hisses. “Haha, so fucking clever, you had the requisite spongepower to figure out something even a lobotomized grub could have grasped.”
“And the answer is no.”
“Why not?” he bristles. “Because being an auspistice doesn't mesh with the overwrought and fundamentally incorrect definition of the word ironic that you tug your bulge to every day? Because humans don't do quadrants, when I know for a fucking fact that you all have enough conciliatory sentiments sloshing around your meatsacks that it's a wonder your whole species hasn't burst into a pink explosion of slime and offal? Because you just fucking hate the thought of me being happy, without my matesprit and moirail constantly finding my very last nerve and grinding down on it like an accordion? Why? Why the fuck not, just tell me!” His voice gets louder with each word, until he ends the diatribe by screaming into your face, and now he's shaking with rage, ready to take out a sickle and have a go at you if he doesn't like your answer.
“Because I'm already Terezi's moirail,” you tell him.
He slumps back immediately, all the fight draining out of him. It's almost comical to witness, and you seriously think that it's a sight that should have been accompanied by the sound of a deflating balloon.
“Oh. Oh ,” he mutters, blinking at you. “I'll just... go and see if Rose is in,” he says, and shuffles off.
You see him incredulously shaking his head before he turns a corner and disappears from sight.
Now all you have to do if track down Terezi and talk to her before he has the chance to. And if anybody asks, you'll tell her to say that you've been moirails since yesterday. It's a small price to pay to avoid associating with someone who still insists on wearing a codpiece even after the game has been over for years. You're pretty sure being in any kind of relationship with Gamzee would bump you several rungs down the ironic coolkid echeladder.
Chapter 42: She Who Laughs Last (Terezi ⋄ Vriska)
Terezi ⋄ Vriska, with the latter trying her best to sound sympathetic and not laugh when the former reveals how they gave themselves an embaressing injury trying something new with their matesprit
Your first instinct is to ask Vriska whether she and her matesprit have flipped black.
Well, no, your first instinct is to laugh at the blotchy bruise-blue Vriska's face has become around her broken nose. But you try to squelch that impulse. She smells annoyed and belligerent, hostility rolling off her in waves.
“No, we haven't flipped black,” Vriska grumbles unhappily. “I just had a very bad night, okay?”
“So you and John had a tiff?”
“No. More like an... accident.”
“An accident. Is that so?” Your voice is perfectly flat, betraying nothing. Vriska twitches.
“A minor accident.”
“A minor accident to the face,” you nod, as understanding as a moirail should be.
“I fell, alright?”
“Fell on your face.”
“No, I didn't fall on my face! What kind of loser does that? Haha, not me! Because I'm not a loser!”
“Uh huh. So you fell, and then , by complete coincidence, managed to acquire an injury.”
She mumbles something.
“Hm?” You quirk an eyebrow, waiting for her to continue.
“Other way around,” she repeats, only slightly louder. “I fell right after it happened.”
“Because of the sheer shock of having broken your nose, no doubt.”
“Yes!” she growls. “It could have happened to anyone!”
“And how does your matesprit factor into this scenario?”
“He might have been there at the time.”
“Doing something in particular?”
“He might possibly have been doing the windy thing.”
“Doubtlessly because some assailant was in the process of attacking the both of you.”
“No, we were just...” Mumble, mumble, mumble. You lean forward and prod Vriska to talk louder. “We were trying something new, okay?! Stop judging meeeeeeee!” she shrieks at you, and crosses her arms with a huff. Her face is cerulean all over, and not only because of the bruises mottled around her eyes and on her cheeks.
This is priceless. Were she your kismesis or your rival, this tidbit of information would have served you excellently. Alas, she is your moirail, and so you have to keep it to yourself whenever Vriska and John's fumbling leads to some hilarious accident. Usually it's property damage, but just like the time Vriska pulled a muscle attempting a maneuver she was hoping to impress John with, you are now obligated to keep to yourself the true reason for her injury.
It's probably not going to be for too long, though. These two are so hilariously awkward, that soon enough, someone else is going to figure out how disastrous their sexual shenanigans usually are. And you are absolutely not going to laugh when that day arrives.
Except maybe a little on the inside.
Chapter 43: Familiarity (Meenah ⋄ Aranea)
Hugging it out after everyone leaves
The visitors depart as their meteor finishes traversing Meenah's dreambubble, and eventually, only the two of you are left.
Meenah scuffs her shoes against the ground and scowls, but as prickly as she makes herself on the outside, she can't hide the warm glow of her affection from you, and on some nights, it's easier for the both of you this way. She loves her little pretenses, the persona she has built for yourself, and you indulge her.
But she also loves that she doesn't have to break character to tell you all the things that ordinarily need saying in a relationship. Meenah cheats at every opportunity she gets and avoids accountability like it's a plague.
“Yo, babe,” she says, tugging your sleeve briefly, before releasing it and pretending the momentary weakness never happened. “So how's this death business been troutin' ya?”
“It has been relatively pleasant, all things considered,” you reply.
Her white ghost eyes turn on you, and the expression on Meenah's face is almost solemn. It doesn't fit her face. You see now, more than ever, that she could not be the empress everybody expected her to be since she was hatched. One can teach a princess governance, but one cannot teach her charisma.
You smile at her.
“Yes, I suppose you could say we are,” you reply.
Meenah sighs, and her shoulders slack as tension leaves them. She bumps her forehead against yours.
“But I suppose there's no harm in talking things out for a bit,” you continue. “I'm sure we could scrounge up a pile, have a long jam to air everything out and make this reunion offishial.”
She starts groaning before you even finish talking, and she glares at you when she hears the pun. You smile innocently.
You are not trying to manipulate her, not at all. She agrees to the feelings jam by her very own volition.
Chapter 44: Aversion Therapy (Vriska ♣ Jade ♣ Tavros)
Could you do Jade unwittingly making Tavros and Vriska better people by auspiticing between them, please?
If someone were to ask Tavros and Vriska about the secret to Jade's success as an auspistice, they would, in complete agreement, answer “the newspaper”.
If the same person were to frown and ask what a newspaper has to do with mediating between them, they would reply, “no, not a newspaper,the newspaper,” as they would be referring to the same newspaper Jade used to thwack them over the head when they didn't do as she said.
“She taught me that, the real secret to having confidence, is actually, wanting someone to stop hitting you with, a rolled-up information relay sheet,” Tavros would explain with a sheepish smile.
“God, that awful thing. I'd do anything to make it stop. Not that it hurt or anything, but it was just soooooooo embarrassing. I mean, what kind of auspistice does that?” Vriska would say in turn.
At this point, the person asking all these intrusive questions about Tavros and Vriska's ashen quadrant would no doubt be boggled by this unusually straightforward approach to auspisticizing.
But they really shouldn't be. Because as Jade herself would tell them, “if it stopped Bec from peeing on the carpet, I knew it would stop those two from acting like idiots.”
Chapter 45: Bubble Empress (Feferi ⋄ Aradia)
How about some Feferi⋄Aradia?
The rubble of Aradia's hive gives the entire landscape a desolate look. You have to remind yourself that it's a memory, that you're in a dreambubble and that nothing here is real anymore, but this is made difficult by the fact that, to the inhabitant of the bubble, all of this is as real as it was on Alternia.
Aradia is here, a ghost of a ghost from a timeline that never was. She sits crosslegged on the ground and stares at the screen of her husktop, where mustard yellow is interspersed with her own dark red. Sollux told you about this, about their first conversation after she died. You know it hurt him, even though Aradia did not once accuse him of anything. His mind filled in the blanks all by itself.
You touch her shoulder—you can do that, because ghosts are as corporeal as anything in dreambubbles—and she lets you.
“I think he still blamed himself,” she says in the blandest tone, “even though I told him I was okay.”
“He does that sometides,” you agree. “But I don't think you were reely okay, and even though you lied to yourself, I think you couldn't lie to him.”
She turns to look at you, her face as blank and expressionless as her empty eye sockets.
“But I'm okay,” she says, her voice still lacking inflection. “I was okay. I'm okay,” she repeats, and blinks rapidly.
You brush a lock of hair back from her face, and the contact surprises her, even though you had your hand on your shoulder just a minute ago.
“Are you reely, though?” you ask kindly, and she hiccups. Fat, reddish tears start rolling down her cheeks. You pull her into a hug.
So many Aradias in these dreambubbles, and this one is not even the saddest of them.
You have nothing but time, billions and trillions of sweeps unfolding before you, millions of sad little bubbles and their broken owners, and you will fix
Chapter 46: Forfeit (John ♣ Dave ♣ Terezi)
Can we get some John/Dave/Terezi, with Dave being the mediator?
Three years is a lot of time to spend building awesome city vistas with someone, so you think John might sort of understand why Terezi has horned in on his territory as the main man of best-bro-land.
What you didn't take into consideration, though, is that three years is also a long time to dwell on the fact that somebody killed you in a doomed timeline. Possibly Davesprite also has a hand in this, but either way, Terezi is not helping the issue.
You and John are playing video games together, trying to readjust to your friendship in the most emotionally repressed manner possible, when she comes and drapes herself over the back of the sofa, licking John behind the ear at intervals calculated to throw off his game. She does it to you too, but you have a lot more practice in ignoring it.
“John, you smell absolutely livid,” she cackles.
John's nostrils flare in anger. He grips the controller tight and huffs, making a show of ignoring her.
She licks him again, and this time, John throws the controller to the side, jumps to his feet and yells, “Will you stop that?!”
“Right,” you mutter, deciding that it's time you stepped in. “Terezi, park your ass down here.”
You get up and point to your seat. Terezi jumps over the back of the sofa and lands neatly in that exact spot.
“John, you sit down too.”
He glares at Terezi, but resumes his seat.
You hand them controllers and explain.
“You two are going to hash out your problems right here, right now, in a duel to the death. Virtual death'll have to do. I know the grim reaper probably had to install a revolving door just for us fuckers ever since we started the game, but we're going to be civilized about this.”
“Where are you going?” John whined.
“Nowhere,” you answer. “I'll be right here, watching you two. The rules are simple. No kicking, no pushing, no touching of any kind, and when I say of any kind, I'm including any stray gray tongues that might be feeling like going for a wander.” Terezi shrugs innocently, and then gives the most devilish grin you've ever seen out of her. “Trash talking's okay, practically part of the gameplaying experience, but if you break any of the other rules, you forfeit. Do you know what happens if you forfeit?”
“What happens if we forfeit?” Terezi asked.
“Then you are fucking dead to me. Not just video game dead. Not even dead for realsies, though you'll wish you were. I will renounce you as a friend. I will not know, or hear, or see you so hard, that you'll start having an existential crisis. You will be going through life wondering if you really exist, solely on the strength of my lack of acknowledgment for your existence and the industrial strength disdain I have for you. Do I make myself clear?”
They both nod at you with identical looks of terror.
“Good. Now start playing.”
They scoot farther away from each other and begin playing in utter silence. They both suck at first, possibly because your little speech shook them up, but Terezi makes a remark at John, and he shoots one back, and soon enough they're really getting into the game and teasing each other in a reasonably friendly manner.
Huh. And Karkat said this hospicetizing thing was hard.
Chapter 47: Well and Proper (Karkat ⋄ Gamzee ⋄ Terezi)
(Karkat ⋄ Gamzee) ⋄ Terezi
Karkat bites his lower lip like he's trying to punish it for something, so you pointedly drag a finger across it, guard it from those pointy chompers, and he looks at you with reluctant gratitude.
“We don't need to be going to do this any, palebro,” you assure him with a pat on the back. “Ain't we halfway to grown trolls? We can make all proper and restrain ourselves.”
“No, it's stupid,” Karkat snorts. “We're only 'restraining' ourselves on my account. It's not... that bad, I can get over it, it's worth getting over it. It's just a stupid tradition from a dead universe. Who cares about proper? How the hell is 'proper' going to do jackshit to help Terezi?”
“You're right, brother,” you croon, running your fingers through his hair, between his cute little horns. “Up to us now to help the wicked sis.”
Karkat exhales and tension seeps out of his shoulders like your agreement's a magic ointment that soothes his nerves. You know it gets him all twisted up inside to be acting like a proper troll, having that wondrous red inside his veins. Feels like he needs to be more trollish to be seen as just as much as the next troll, or something. Terezi's gonna be good for him, you think, and maybe even good for you, if she gets her agreement going with the two of you. And maybe both of you'll be good for her.
You ain't never heard of a three way diamond before, but that just makes you feel awe at discovering this miracle.
Chapter 48: Volunteer Work (Karkat ♣ Dave ♣ Terezi)
Dave♣ (Karkat, Terezi)
Pre-scratch trolls had casual ashen hook-ups. Terezi, Dave and Karkat decide to try out the idea together in order to discover the appeal.
“God, I'd tear off your face and eat it if I could,” Karkat hissed, tightening his grip on Terezi's throat. Terezi, in turn, gave a rather breathless cackle and allowed her sword to draw just a pinprick of blood from Karkat's jawline. And then she licked her lips.
“This is really fucked up,” Dave said.
Karkat growled and turned to give Dave the most baleful look he was capable of.
“We know that, you smug asstrickle,” he retorted. “That's why you're supposed to stop this, and not just sit there like a swollen bulge boil.”
“Aww, honey, you're really pouring on the sweet talk, aren't you?” Dave said, pressing the back of his hand to his forehead dramatically.
“Should Dave and I switch roles?” Terezi asked, sounding more amused than annoyed.
“No!” Karkat snapped. “Dave is the auspistice! Though right now I don't really see why.”
“It's 'cause I was the only one who said yes,” Dave snorted. “And I only did it for the hot threeway troll action.”
“The whole point of the ashen quadrant is to avoid sex, you gibbering moron,” Karkat ground out.
“Well I know that now, kitty-poo,” Dave replied, casually putting his hands in his pockets and strolling up to them. “Wish you'd told me that before my libido vetoed my brain and orchestrated a coup d'état.”
“This was a horrible idea,” Karkat sighed. “I should have guessed--”
Before he could finish the sentence, however, he was suddenly and unexpectedly removed from Terezi's vicinity and sent flying across the room.
“That ashen enough for you, crabbycakes?” Dave asked with a smirk as soon as Karkat gathered himself up again.
Karkat responded with a smirk as well, though one with a great deal more teeth.