On Alternia, no one would dare name a bridge golden unless it was the congealed consequence of a million leaking psiioniics. You find that you prefers the human approach, which, while ranging from the counterintuitive to the downright illogical, does allow for the cinnamon smudge that rides the milky horizon to fill your nostrils with its spicy breadth.
Vriska pronounces it snoozeworthy, and pulls on your arm until you begin to think fondly about ripping it off and beating her over the head with it. The only thing really preventing you is that the symmetry would be so poetic as to grow painful. Instead you turn around so fast that Vriska has to let go of your elbow, and say, "Fine! What would you like to see?"
Vriska seems taken aback. She has seemed taken aback since you found her, quiet and recessed in a way that would look nauseatingly boisterous on anyone but her. She's Vriska, and she will always chafe, but she's-- trying, and for once in her lives her desperate efforts give off light but not heat. Maybe it's something she learned following a dead John through the streets of his winterbound city; how to fade.
You don't like it. You think you wanted it, once, more than anything.
"I don't know," she's saying, and you smell the shape of her mouth, how it fattens and thins like a fish's against glass. Through the clear salt-flavored air, it reeks of low-hanging fruit: blueberries grown glaucous and dark under leaves. "Somewhere cool. What about the Empire State Building?"
"That's in New York," you say, leaving off the dumbass. You are so full of compassion that you might vomit pity if you don't control the movement of your breath. "This is San Francisco."
"Whatever," says Vriska. "I can't keep these human names straight. They're so boring! They don't mean anything."
You think of the bridge behind you, the bay at the bottom of the hill. "San Francisco was the name of one of their saints," you tell her. You have been doing your reading. Wikipedia has no holographs and will never spit an informative grub into your lap if you hit download, but it is endearingly haphazard, like a thornbush or a person.
"What's a saint?" asks Vriska. Once she would have pretended to know.
"I'm not sure," you say. You offer her your hand, and after a moment she takes it. Her palm is cool and dry cupped over yours.
Ahead of you there is a precipitous drop, a road so steep you can't imagine why the land wasn't terraformed, leveled to lay even with the sea. But humans, lazy, kind, sometimes leave land unshaped, choosing not to soften its bitter bones.
The sun skates golden down the roofs of the parked cars. It descends stairwise; to lose itself below.