Ironically, for all her love of buried shit under the ground, Sollux meets Aradia because she's stopped to look up instead. She's standing in the middle of a street outside the grocery depot where he's come to pick up a (belated) monthly supply of food and drink and all the other useless crap it takes to keep his body and hive (and his lusus, he guesses) more or less together. Her head is tipped back, her mouth slightly open and her hands cupped around her eyes to block the ambient light of the city. Sollux is looking down at his feet because he's not quite sure they're going to keep going where he tries to direct them -- it's two nights since he's eaten, he's been busy, okay? -- and crashes right into her.
Neither hits the ground.
They stare at each other through the hazy shrouds of varicolored psionic lights.
"What the actual fuck," Sollux says. "Didn't you thee me coming? There'th thith amazing invention called 'feet,' you might try uthing them to move out of people'th way."
He immediately wants to kill himself. Wow, way to fucking go, that's an excellent way to alienate a person who doesn't already know you and therefore doesn't automatically hate you on sight, great job, keep up the good work. Also his lisp is still doing that shitty thing where it gets stronger the more upset he is and makes him sound like a retarded douchebag.
Weirdly, the girl just smiles. Her teeth are stupidly blunt, but he has to admit her horns are impressive -- huge flat curls against her wild fountain of hair. He supposes she's pretty, if you care about that sort of thing.
"I was seeing if I could find north just from the constellations," she says, "but I guess it's silly to try stargazing in the city."
"Thilly ith being way too nithe," Sollux snaps, appalled all over again at this blatant lack of basic common sense. "You're pthychic. Jutht feel the fucking magnetic field like a thane perthon."
He loses his grip on his telekinesis for a fraction of a second, too tired to split his attention as smoothly as normal. The girl catches his wobble and has the nerve to look concerned instead of cruelly amused at his obvious weakness.
"You look like you're starving," she says. "When's the last time you ate?"
"Why the fuck do you care?"
"Wow, you really are a wreck," the girl says, sounding almost amazed at this shocking revelation of the incredibly fucking obvious. She settles back down to the surface of the street, her faint rust-colored halo fading as she tucks her own abilities away. "Why not care? I'm the one who almost made you fall and besides, I've never met another telekinetic as strong as I am. We might have a lot in common!"
"No. Jutht, no. I don't even need to know you to know we have nothing in common," Sollux says, but since she doesn't seem like she's planning to retaliate for their collision, he gratefully drops back to the ground and shoves his psionics down. It's a lot easier to keep them quiet altogether than to make them do what he wants and only what he consciously wants when he's this tired and scattered.
The girl laughs at him... but even through his exhaustion he can tell it doesn't have the nasty, mocking tone laughter usually does when it's aimed at him. This is more like she's laughing at herself. Or maybe laughing at both of them at the same time?
She still thinks they're similar.
If she's that crazy, she might even be right! They can be completely skullfucked together! Reality-impaired psionics of Alternia, unite! They can keep each other from committing inadvertent suicide -- him in all the obvious ways, and her by pulling this instant friendship idiocy on normal trolls whose reflexes are geared toward taking revenge in person instead of through the internet. It will be the most stupidly codependent moirallegiance ever.
Sollux wants to blow his own brains out for even imagining a future that sappy.
"How ith it even pothible to be tho cheerful?" Sollux grumbles as the girl grabs his hand and twines her fingers between his own. He hasn't touched anyone but his lusus in... god, perigees. And the time before that it was just a computer store clerk trying to choke him for giving a perfectly accurate assessment of all the ways the store's products sucked.
He pries himself out of the girl's grip with a quick burst of psionics and braces for her anger.
The girl just shrugs. "I want to make the most of my life, so I decided to look on the bright side of things. I think it's worth the effort," she says. "Hey, let's go get you something to eat. And after that, do you want to go flying with me? I bet if we go high enough we can see the stars even right over the city."
"Yeah, okay, whatever," Sollux says. He's never cared about space. It's hard to get worked up about stargazing when you know the Empire is just waiting to shove you into a biomechanical harness and turn you into a mindless starship engine component once you've reached your adult size. But maybe he should take a look at what's out there, familiarize himself with the face of the enemy.
It turns out that if you hold a bubble of air around yourself and accelerate at just the right speed, you can make it to geosynchronous orbit before you run out of oxygen. The view is actually pretty fucking awesome.
The girl laughs all the way back down.
When they land in a grassy field in the middle of fucking nowhere, she flops on her back and grins up at the midnight sky. It's much darker away from the electric glare of the city. The moons are low on the horizon and a thousand stars peer from behind and between the scattered clouds.
"I'm Aradia, by the way," the girl says. "Aradia Megido. My Trollian handle's apocalypseArisen."
"Thollukth Captor, twinArmageddonth," Sollux says. "I gueth you can contact me thometime, but if you get too thtupid I thwear I'll block you."
The girl smiles at him with her adorably blunt teeth. "Okay."
Sollux lies down beside her. He still needs to pick up groceries. He ought to be hurrying home to make sure his lusus hasn't trashed the roof of his hivestem again. He is missing so much quality programming time.
He doesn't care.
He reaches sideways and touches Aradia's hand. She laces their fingers together and he clings to her, basking in the warmth of skin on skin.
After an hour they break atmosphere again. This time they share a bubble.