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Frantic Minds

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Anyone else would have been tentative. Cautious, even. After all, you are the second strongest psionic in the galaxy. Ten minutes after you don’t answer her loud, authoritative knock, Terezi breaks the lock off your front door. This, among many other reasons, is why she’s your moirail.

To be fair to you, which is a rarity in itself as far as your own brain is concerned, you are incredibly busy and don’t have time to answer the door unless it’s for food you ordered. You have six different coding projects open on your husktop in four different languages and one of your hive mainframes is half-unstacked because you had a great idea for how to make it more productive four days ago. The low coffee table, which was a gift from Aradia because you didn’t have one after half a human year of living on this planet, is covered with pizza boxes and empty cartons of both Chinese and East Alternian food. Said boxes and cartons are also covered, with writing alternating in blue and red as you flipped between pens, from when you needed to shovel food into your face to not die (again) because your quads would be really pissed off with you if you died but also you couldn’t bear not to write down your ideas.

Terezi walks past all this, although you’re sure she’s aware of it as she’s aware of everything, god you love her. She marches right up to you, pulling your chair sharply away from the desk. As she pulls you back, you reach forward, frantically typing the last couple of letters required to not make the project explode your husktop if left alone for too long. Why do you always make bombs? She tilts your chair back, which isn’t a great idea when it’s on wheels, and you look at her upside down face with its flared nostrils, furrowed eyebrows, and bared teeth. Oops.

You think you must say the oops bit out loud, because her eyebrows do that funny twitch up then back down when she’s trying to be serious but actually wants to laugh at how dumb you’re being. You’ve had lots of opportunities to get used to that expression. You swallow, realising how dry your mouth is, and press your tongue down to release more saliva into it. You’re not sure when the last time was that you drank something, but it was probably within the last week. Probably. When you speak, you’re pretty sure it’s obvious that you’ve not been hydrating properly (when do you ever hydrate properly though? She must be used to that by now and it’s a wonder she still sticks around).

“Sup, TZ?”

She whacks you on the side of the head, her fingers clipping one of your longer horns, and you wince.

“When,” she says, righting your chair and pushing it across the recreation block towards your ablutions block, “is the last time you went outside your hive?” The time you take trying to figure out the answer to that is probably enough of an answer in itself, because she doesn’t ask again, just squeezes into the ablutions block with you and your multi-wheeled chair, closing and locking the door behind her. You remember the broken lock on the front door, and start to rise to your feet, but she gets her hands on your shoulders and pushes you back down, when did she get so strong?

“When did you get so strong?”

“When you start barely eating for two weeks, Sollux Captor,” she replies, “I somehow manage to get strong enough to push you down into a chair. I wonder if there could possibly be a correlation.” Moving past you, she leans over the trap and put the plug in, turning on both taps. You risk a joke.

“Insufficient data, more experiments needed.”

The look she shoots you over her shoulder is not an amused one. You shrug, and pull off your shirt. She does actually huff a quick laugh when it’s off, and you’re briefly very offended, before you glance down and remember the writing scrawled along both your arms, all the way up to the shoulder. She pulls her own tshirt off and sticks her elbow into the water filling your ablutions trap, stretching out one foot behind her to give your chair a light nudge. You roll backwards a few inches.

“Get up and take the rest of those off, dumbass, I know my butt is great but you need to co-operate a little here.” You hadn’t even been looking at her ass, which is not so much great as practically the only place on her with any fat, and you’d tell her so but her elbows are pointy and not to be trifled with, especially when she’s mad at you.

You stand, putting one hand on the hygiene basin for balance as you tug your pants and underwear down and not because your knees are shaking at all. You have to lift your feet one by one to pull off your socks after a couple of unsuccessful attempts to use your toes to take them off as you usually do. You should probably have eaten yesterday after all, but you needed an easy way to punish yourself for missing a vital bracket and crashing one of your husktops for two hours and wasting valuable time trying to fix it. Anyway, that’s all in the past now, and in the present you shuffle over to your moirail as she turns the taps off, ablutions trap full of water warm enough that the mirror is already steaming over. You’re a little disappointed, as that means it’s too warm for her to sit in comfortably. Sure enough, as you climb into the trap she stands up, tugging her tshirt back on and pulling what looks a lot like a front door lock from her sylladex. She ruffles your hair firmly, then picks up the wash bar and holds it in front of your face until you take it in your own hand. This isn’t going the way you expected it to when she wheeled you in, and it must show on your face because she says, “Wash your body while I fit your new lock, and I should be back in time to do your hair.”

You’re not left with much choice but to comply because with that she unlocks the door and leaves the room, closing it firmly behind her but not locking it because who the fuck has an ablutions block that’s lockable from the outside? Idiots who want to be trapped in their own ablutions blocks is who. But it’s not a problem, because your moirail is between the outside world and you, so you set to work getting a lather with the wash bar and rubbing it aggressively into your arms until the red and blue lines of text and numbers fade and disappear. Once you start cleaning yourself you fall into the habit pretty easily, running water onto a flannel TZ must have left behind a couple of visits ago because you sure as hell didn’t buy it, soaping it up and rubbing it over your face and neck, and behind your ears. Some of the buzz in your brain seems to wash away too when you rinse the flannel and wipe off the lather, although you’re still manic enough that your leg is bouncing in place, making the water ripple and wash against the sides of the trap like tiny waves.

Your malnourished torso column is the next to be attacked, and you have to dip the flannel several times into the warm water of the trap before it’s all clean. You can feel your horizontal thoracic supports through your skin as you rub soap and water and then just water down your sides, which is business as usual but also probably not a good thing. TZ is thin as fuck too, and Kanaya’s nothing near fat with her diet of troll blood and more troll blood, but most of your other troll friends have a nice weight to them. Not that you’ve been looking. (You’ve been looking.) Mituna is, of course, also thin like a particularly unhealthy twig, but you don’t like comparing yourself to Mituna.

While your brain’s been conjuring visions of your friends’ bodies, your hands have kept up their work, washing down your back and one leg, and you rejoin them in time to wash the other leg. You tuck both now-clean support struts underneath you and kneel up to wash your genitals, which is of course when Terezi walks back in. She leers at you, and you dip your hand into the water to flick some at her as she moves over to kneel beside the trap. She reaches out to rub the back of your neck, and you sink down onto your haunches, groaning quietly as it brings how tense your neck, shoulders, and back are to the front of your mind. When she lifts her hand away you whine in protest and she brushes her knuckles over your cheek instead, then gives your shoulder a light push backwards.

“Let’s finish cleaning you up first, ok?” You hide your shiver at her words by shifting your legs back in front of you, bent up at the knees because your trap is almost but not quite long enough to stretch out in, and dropping down to dunk your hair under the water. It’s warm and comfortable lying in the water, which is a soft translucent white thanks to the wash bar, and your eyes drift closed for a moment. A moment is all you get though, because all of a sudden there’s a hand on your chest pushing you down so your mouth and nose go underwater. Your arms flail out, hitting the offending arm and the side of the trap, and you surge upwards, water streaming off you.

“What the FUCK was that for?” You demand, spluttering water out of your mouth and snorting to get it out of your nose.

“You were falling asleep!” She explains, as if this is a perfect reason to dunk your moirail’s head under soapy water. True, you are now definitely awake, but your eyes are itching unpleasantly and the inside of your mouth tastes like soap. Which despite her claims to eat the stuff is a vile taste. Her fingers tap the underside of your chin and you tip your head back, letting her pour much more raspberry-scented hair cleansing solution on your hair than anyone could possibly need - even Aradia or Feferi and certainly not you. It drips around your ears and down the back of your neck, thick and gloopy and artificially sweet smelling as Terezi digs her fingers into what hair you have, rubbing it firmly between her fingers. Your moirail doesn’t know the meaning of doing anything by half measures, and she presses the pads of her fingers against your head almost hard enough to hurt, going close enough to the bases of your horns that your eyes roll up slightly and your leg shivers in place, but never actually touching them, clever fingers always skimming past the point of touch.

Some time later, when she determines this torture is done, she reaches across and grabs the head of the extendable spraying trap attachment, flicking the switch to turn the water through this instead of the main trap-filling spout and training it on your head. You give a whole-bodied shiver when the water hits your horns, almost hot enough to hurt until she turns it down. Holding the attachment in one hand, she works the other through your hair, making sure all the cleansing solution is worked out, thumb rubbing over the back of one ear and then the other, and then down the back of your neck.

She turns the attachment off, placing it back where it belongs, and reaches between your legs to tug the trap plug out. As the water drains away you stand on legs still slightly shaky, and she grabs your red towel from the rack by the wall, rising to wrap you in it as you step out of the trap. You close your eyes and stand still, letting her rub you down through the towel, leaning more and more against her shoulder until she has to stop and wrap her arms around you. She tugs, gently, and you shuffle forward, turning around at her direction until she lowers you into your wheeled chair. You’re still wrapped in your red towel, so when you feel her towelling down your lower legs and feet you crack open an eye, enough to see that she’s taken the blue one down to finish what the red one started.

Closing your eye again, you sit and drift as she dries your legs gently but with an efficiency that leaves them done in no time. Her hand strokes through the back of your hair, encouraging you to bend your head, and you do it even though your every movement feels like it’s being made through a thick layer of numbing sopor slime. You don’t even use sopor slime in this universe because there are no horrorterrors living in the ocean to corrupt your dreams. Your head is briefly covered with a towel, and she rubs your hair until it’s no longer dripping down your neck, then the towel is removed. Her hands on your shoulders tilt you back again, until you’re sitting somewhat upright, head lolling to one side. Her hands leave you entirely for a moment, and there’s a click, before you’re being turned around on the chair and wheeled forward. You have the fantastic idea to lift your feet up so they’re on the bars connecting the wheels to the central column of the chair, before you realise they’re already there, and she must have done it herself when she dried them. You tell her you love her, or you think you do because she laughs and pauses in pushing the chair to kiss the top of your head, hand squeezing your shoulder before lifting off to continue pushing.

The chair turns again, and there’s a brief jolt that she apologises for quietly. You’re trying to figure out what it was when the chair stops moving all of a sudden, and she’s pulling back the towel you’re wrapped in. You mumble a complaint at the rush of cold air on your water-warmed body, but before it can get you anything close to wakefulness, she’s there again, hands guiding your hands into what are probably sleeves. She moves away, then lifts your arms up from behind, resting them against your body because it’s apparently all too obvious that you wouldn’t be able to hold them up by yourself. She tugs the top down over your head, and then down to your waist, disappearing to fetch a pair of what are probably boxers by the feel of them as she pokes your feet through the holes and tugs the waistband up to your knees. Her hands pause long enough there that you force one eye blearily open again, just enough to make her out, kneeling at your feet. Her face is turned up to yours, and she’s smiling that soft smile that you think she might not have ever shown to anyone else.

“Hey, sleepy.” Her voice is gentle, and you guess she must be over being mad at you for- for- for whatever it was she was mad at you for. God, you’re tired. She continues talking. “I need you to stand up so I can get these on you the rest of the way, think you can do that for me Sollux?” You’re so, so tired, but you nod, leaning forward. She guides your hands to her shoulders, and you press down on them, rocking yourself up onto your feet, wheeled chair rolling away backwards as you do. As soon as you’re up, Terezi pulls the boxers up all the way, and as you sway in place she stands, carefully, hands holding you mostly upright. She nudges you to the side, and you shuffle that way, bumping your legs against your cushioned sleep platform. You pretty much fall onto it, expecting to land on top of the sheet and scratchy wool blanket, but they’re not there. A moment later, a soft, light weight is draped over you, and you lift a hand to grope at it. There’s the wool alright.

The floorboards creak and you roll over onto your other side to track them, forcing your eyes open one last time. “Staying?” You manage to croak out, and you wait until she nods before letting them fall heavily closed. You wait as she moves around the hive, turning off the lights and locking any unlocked windows, refusing your body the sleep it demands with greater strength every other heartbeat, until the mattress dips at the other side and her cool body shuffles closer under the sheet and blanket until her arm is draped over your chest, her nose pressed to the back of your neck. Then, clean and still slightly damp, with your moirail tucked up close behind you, you fall blissfully asleep.

Chapter Text

When you wake up, you’re alone on the cushioned sleep platform and the curtains are drawn, letting in the safe yellow sunlight of this world. You could almost think you dreamed (or hallucinated, which is worse) your moirail’s visit, if it weren’t for the fact that the tshirt you’re wearing has her sign on it, not yours, and the wheeled chair is still sitting at the end of the cushioned sleep platform, although the towel is missing. There is also, you realise, the smell of food that isn’t stale pizza and noodles, and more importantly than that, the smell of coffee.

You drag yourself into an upright seated position, hand fumbling across the top of the chest of drawers beside you until it locates your bicoloured shades. Your hand knocks against a pill bottle first, which is weird because you could have sworn you buried those in the bottom of your underwear drawer. You ignore the pills, and slide your glasses on, pushing yourself to your feet and shuffling out into the recreation block, which also serves as a nutrition block because dammit, it’s more convenient to have them both together. That’s something the humans have right at least.

Terezi is standing in front of the horizontal cooking slab with a frying pan and a slotted food flipping tool, cooking eggs. Her hair is unbrushed, and she too is in a tshirt and boxers, although the tshirt she has on is a little too long for her rather than too short like the one you’re in. You can’t see the front of it, but you’d bet at least $20 that it’s yours. You make your way over and slide your arms around her, resting your forehead against the back of her head. She leans back slightly, resting her weight against you, and you hum quietly. You stay like that until she gives you a gentle nudge with her elbow and you let go, shuffling back a couple of steps so she has room to serve up the eggs onto the two plates beside the cooking slab. She points the slotted food flipping tool towards the coffee maker, and you go over to make two mugs of coffee, two spoonfuls of sugar in your chipped blue mug and five in her red one. You stir them both, breathing in the steam, then pick up both mugs and follow her over to your elongated sitting platform, setting the mugs down on the table before it and taking your plate from her to tuck in, leaning comfortably against her side.

You asked her, once, how she can make such good eggs when she can’t see, and she told you she can smell the chemical changes that happen when something’s cooking, and therefore always knows the perfect moment to take them off the heat. You’re, like, 40% sure that this is total bullshit, but also that if you pestered her about it too much it might make her reluctant to cook them for you again, which would be a fucking shame.

When both your plates are scraped clean, and you’re each nursing your own mug of sweetened or obnoxiously sweetened coffee, she turns you and she has her serious face on. You curl your toes on top of her foot on the floor, and she crosses her other one over to pat yours. It’s bizarrely reassuring. Then again, bizarrely reassuring is a phrase that describes many things about your moirail. Her teeth are almost seadweller-sharp, but her grin makes you want to smile in response. And according to the society you were both raised in, her burnt out and sightless blank red eyes should make you feel disgusted and want to put her down, but all you can think about when she removes her shades is how much you love and pity her.

Terezi lowers her mug into her lap, clasping it in both hands, and clears her throat. She looks sad and still so serious, and a sudden fear spikes your blood pusher. You start to speak just as she does.

“Are you-”
“Sollux, I-”

You laugh awkwardly, and her lips twitch up slightly. She nods at you to continue, and you swallow, subconsciously mimicking her position, mug in your lap and torso turned towards her.

“Are you breaking up with me?” She looks shocked, and very briefly hurt, and then she reaches over to put her hand on your face. You lean into it, closing your eyes, and she strokes your cheekbone then bops you on the nose with her finger. You keep your eyes closed, and her hand moves to stroke through your hair. You haven’t straightened it in a while, so it’s a fluffy mess, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

“Sollux Captor, I am quite disgustingly and unshakably in diamonds with you, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Not for any reason.” You sigh shakily, but she’s not done. “Your human therapist called me yesterday afternoon, she said you’ve not turned up for several appointments, and you’ve not replied to any of her messages. You’ve not been taking your pills either, have you? I found the bottle hidden in your underwear.” You wince, although that at least explains how they’d moved to beside your glasses. Terezi doesn’t sound angry though, so you risk opening your eyes to look at her, and discover she’s worse than angry. She’s sad. Her hand slides out of your hair and back down to her lap, and after a moment of silence you realise she’s waiting for you to talk. You stall by taking a slurp of your coffee. Terezi patiently waits.

“They don’t work!” You blurt out, and once you start complaining it’s hard to stop. “The meds make me sleepy and I eat even less than usual on them and what I do eat I have to squeeze out of my waste chute like it’s the last of the fang cleanser in the tube. The “therapy,”” and you do finger enclosure talons with one hand as you say the word, “is literally pointless, TZ, because I can’t talk about Alternia or the game or anything, which is where all of my supposed issues come from in the first place, so I’d be better off spending my time at home with my fingers up my nook.”

Terezi punches you on the arm. You say “Ow!” and rub it, huffing at her, and she snaps her teeth back at you.

“Sollux when something doesn’t work in making you feel better it’s your job as my moirail to tell me! Okay?” She sticks her chin out, jaw set forward and nostrils flared in the Terezi version of a glare until you nod, reluctantly. When you do, she leans over and drops a kiss on your nose, then settles back into place on the elongated seating platform. She takes a long drink from her mug, swilling the coffee around in her mouth before swallowing. “Those are pretty common side effects for the type of pills you were meant to be on, I think.” She says quietly. “I know when I try switching between types, I’m often drowsy for a while, and my appetite changes a lot. Remember, I put on so much weight on the last ones?” You nod, but don’t reply out loud. It’s hard for her to talk about what she calls the emptiness inside her, or what most humans would say is depression, and you cover her hand with yours, squeezing it in an attempt at comfort. She leans against the back of the seating platform, turning her hand under yours and linking your fingers together. “The side effects go away after a few weeks, and it tends to be worth it, at least for me. But if it’s not a thing that works for you, then we’ll think of something different. I’m here for you, and we’re going to sort this out together.”

You squeeze Terezi’s hand again, and lift your mug, tipping it back to drink down the last of the coffee inside, before putting it down on the table beside your plate. You can feel your cheeks darkening slightly, and Terezi’s head tilts in curiosity, the expression clearing into a grin when you get the words out. “Do you want to- shall we make a pile?” God, you’ve been moirails pretty much since you came to this world, and it still embarrasses the hell out of you to ask about that. Of course, she on the other hand is only too keen to build piles with you (one time she hosted a party, she left a pile out right in plain view in her recreation block. Every time someone commented on it, you felt like you were going to die.)

Terezi grins widely, then chugs down the rest of her own coffee, placing the mug next to yours before standing and tugging you up with her. You kiss her cheek, then let go of her hand, heading across to the cupboard in which you keep your broken or otherwise not currently in use computer parts. You start loading them up in your arms when you hear a muted thump behind you, accompanied by a few squeaks. Turning, you discover that Terezi’s dumped a load of heavy books and scalemates on your usual pile-making place, in the corner between the elongated seating platform and the armchair. Shifting a computer mouse to balance it in the crook of your other elbow, you point a finger at her as she starts to build a base of books for the pile.

“You planned this,” you say accusingly, and Terezi pauses in her construction efforts to turn her face to you.

“Not at all!” she protests, and you snort in disbelief, eyeing what you know from experience to be law textbooks, flarping manuals, and the soft toys that she not only grew up with, but also made herself. Could this get any more like an obvious set up? She huffs, no doubt smelling your disbelief or something, and pulls the cushion off the chair. “I hoped we’d get the opportunity to pile, so I brought some stuff along just in case! It’s not a proper pile unless it has some of both of our stuff after all.” She has a point, but you’re still suspicious as you bring over your first armful of computer parts, helping her to shape them into a nice mound. Terezi stops you, however, and presses her face to your neck, the point of her glasses digging in behind your ear. “Is hoping to make a pile with my moirail really so bad?” She asks, and her voice has that awful, small, self-doubting tone to it that she never lets anyone hear but you. You drop the wires in your hand, and wrap both arms around her to pull her close, glasses digging into your flesh be damned. You rock her in place, hand running up and down her knobbly spine, which you can feel through your tshirt she’s wearing.

“Shhh, sh TZ, it’s not bad, I’m just being dumb.” You squeeze your arms around Terezi in a tight hug, and keep hold of her until she lifts her head, her glasses knocking against yours and pulling them down your nose. She opens her mouth to apologise, but you shake your head, kissing her on the forehead instead. “Let’s keep building this kickass pile, yeah?” You ask, and are relieved when she nods.

The rest of the construction goes smoothly, and pretty soon you have a sizeable pile. Most of the personal things are computer parts, with scalemates spread carefully throughout so as to make it a joint pile, and of course the base is all Terezi, much like your relationship. Diverting quickly from that thought before you do something stupid like say it aloud, you wedge yourself into the pile, leaning back against it, and Terezi curls herself around on it beside you, arm around your back and fingers of both hands laced with yours. She’s a bit bony, but then again you’re bonier, so if she’s comfortable that’s good enough for you. Once you’re both settled into the pile, now as much a component of it as the things you used to build it, and moving away would cause its collapse, Terezi speaks.

“So the therapy’s definitely out, because you can’t talk to them about the important stuff, that’s fine. Once we’re done here, we can call their office and cancel your future appointments.”

“We?” You say, not very hopeful that she means she’ll do it for you. Terezi helps you talk through your problems, reality-checking for you, but she makes you fix them yourself, and you do the same for her. Sure enough, she nudges your shoulder lightly with her own.

“Yeah, you’ll call them and I’ll hold your hand.” You nod, accepting that, and she continues. “I’d like you to try these pills for longer, you’ve barely had any out of the bottle so the bad side effects are all you’d notice anyway. Will you try them for at least two weeks, see if the bad effects have started wearing off by then? Think of it like a challenge in a game!” You snort, and she grins widely, straight rows of triangular teeth glinting slightly in the dim light in your apartment. She’s using your binary thing against you on purpose, and you know it, and you know she knows you know it, but it’s fucking working anyway, and you nod slowly.

“I’ll try?” It’s the best you can promise, and it seems like a pretty fucking pathetic offer; why yes TZ I will try to take the things that are meant to help make me not be so fucking useless, but I can’t say for sure I’ll be able to on account of being so fucking useless. God, you’re a mess. She seems content with it though, for some crazy reason, because she doesn’t say it should be easy to just take some fucking pills or anything like that, just sits in silence for a moment. You’re starting to think she’s waiting for you to say something, although you have no idea what that could be, when she speaks again.

“Is there anything I can do to help remind you to take them? Message you on trollian at the same time each day or something?” You shrug, sliding down a little in the pile.

“I guess it’s worth a shot?” She nods like you’ve said something profound, and leans a little more of her weight on you.

“Will you try to message me next time you feel yourself swinging into an extreme, too? I know it’ll either seem like a waste of your time or of my time depending which way you swing, but I’d really like it if you’d try, Sollux. I want to help you, and look after you when you need me, and if I don’t know when you need me then I can’t do that. We don’t live together-” You’d tried, for a couple of months, towards the end of the honeymoon phase of your relationship. It had been disastrous. “-so I need you to tell me when I’m needed.”

The biggest obstacle in this relationship, for either of you, is admitting when you need help, and that’s something you’re both painfully aware of. But, if she needs you to tell her when you need help, if you were doing it for her… you think that’s something you could manage. You nod, and she smiles, then pulls her hand free of yours to flick you on the nose.