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Love Song no. 31

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-- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling tentacleTherapist [TT] --

CG: NORMALLY I WOULD SAW OFF MY HORNS WITH STRIDER'S HALFBLADE BEFORE I WOULD GIVE YOU YET ANOTHER CHANCE TO BE A SELF-SATISFIED KNOW-IT-ALL, VOMITING PSEUDO-PSYCHIATRIC COMPLACENCY ALL OVER WHATEVER TOPIC ANY POOR FOOL HAS THE MISFORTUNE TO BRING UP.
CG: BUT I AM GOING GRUBFUCK INSANE HERE AND I NEED A FAVOR.

TT: How could I refuse such a graciously worded request?
CG: NOT REALLY A FAVOR. FAVOR IS THE WRONG WORD.
CG: MORE LIKE AN ANSWER, TO A QUESTION ABOUT YOUR AMAZINGLY SHITTY AND EMOTIONALLY COUNTERINTUITIVE HUMAN CINEMA.
CG: AND A CHANCE FOR YOU TO POSE AS A SNIPPY SARCASTIC EXPERT ABOUT SOMETHING.
CG: REALLY IT'S MORE LIKE I'M DOING YOU A FAVOR.

TT: ...
CG: YOU'RE WELCOME, BY THE WAY.
TT: I will admit that I am intrigued by your cinematic confusion.
TT: I assume from your previously avowed tastes that you have been watching that genre known affectionately if dismissively as "the romcom".
TT: And I would have further assumed that human stories of love, lacking as our culture has historically done the fourfold complexity that yours has delighted in, would be moderately easy for you to understand.

CG: YEAH I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT SO TOO.
CG: BECAUSE YOUR MOVIES ARE INCREDIBLY SIMPLISTIC AND BASICALLY SHIT.
CG: AND YOUR HUMAN ACTORS ARE REVOLTINGLY VAPID AND INCAPABLE OF PORTRAYING THE KIND OF LAYERED EMOTIONAL SUBTLETY THAT THE CALLOWEST GRUBS MANAGE BY WAVING THEIR PERAMBULATORY FEELERS IN THE AIR TO CREATE PUERILE SHADOW PICTURES ON THE WALL.
CG: EXCEPT FOR HUMAN WILL SMITH, I GUESS.
CG: AND HUMAN SANDRA BULLOCK IS DECENT.
CG: BUT ANYWAY, THAT'S NOT IMPORTANT.

TT: You astonish me.
CG: THERE IS A THING THAT HAPPENS IN THESE MOVIES.
CG: OR, NOT EVEN IN THE MOVIES SO MUCH, THE MOVIES ARE NOT THE WORST PERPETRATORS.
CG: YOUR INFURIATINGLY FORMULAIC TELEVISION SHOWS DO IT MUCH MORE OFTEN.

TT: Do what?
CG: THE THING WHERE SOMEBODY TELLS THE HEROINE'S LOVE INTEREST THAT IF HE "HURTS HER" THEY WILL MAKE HIM REGRET IT.
CG: I'VE SEEN IT OVER AND OVER.
CG: IT IS THE MOST MORONIC FUCKING THING.
CG: I SWEAR I HAVE SEEN THE SAME FUCKING SPEECH LIKE EIGHTY TIMES NOW.
CG: LIKE A PARADE OF SUBSTANDARD EARTH ACTORS SHOOTING THEIR PROTEIN CHUTES OFF IN WAYS THAT MAKE NO FUCKING SENSE AT ALL.
CG: USUALLY IT'S HER BEST FRIEND, BUT SOMETIMES IT'S HER SISTER OR BROTHER, WHICH BY THE WAY IS A THING THAT HASN'T STOPPED BEING WEIRD.
CG: OR MAYBE THAT'S JUST THE WAY YOU AND STRIDER DO THE BROTHER AND SISTER THING.
CG: ON SECOND THOUGHTS THAT'S PROBABLY IT.

TT: You can't imagine how mournfully I regret never having been the one you gifted with your inspired trolling efforts, back in the medium.
CG: WOW, SHUT UP.
TT: No really, it causes me sleepless nights to think that priceless alien meetings of mind such as this were taking place, and I was cruelly locked out of them.
TT: Condemned to instead suffer dialog with possibly the only member of your species who has ever expressed a rational thought.
TT: It haunts me.

CG: ARE YOU GOING TO ANSWER THE QUESTION?
TT: I wasn't aware you'd asked one.
CG: OF COURSE I FUCKING ASKED ONE. IT'S THE QUESTION I JUST FUCKING ASKED.
CG: JUST NOW.
CG: WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT SPEECH MEAN AND WHY DO TRAGIC EXCUSES FOR EARTH ACTORS KEEP MAKING IT IN EVERY FUCKING THING I WATCH?

TT: That's seriously your question.
TT: You want me to explain the "If you hurt my friend" speech.

CG: AFKJD;LKJD
CG: YES. FUCK.

TT: It's pretty basic.
TT: It's a very simple reflection of the stark dystopian reality of friendship as envisioned by Hollywood.
TT: That hallowed speech expresses the friend in question's simultaneous contempt for their friend's judgment and emotional stability in the face of disappointment, and their direly low requirements for that friend's future happiness.
TT: As evidenced by their satisfaction with a prospective partner for them whose emotional cruelty can only be reined in by a threat of violence delivered from a credible source.

CG: WOW, SO I HAVE THE FEELING THAT WAS PRETTY MUCH A LOAD OF RAINBOW HOOFBEAST SHIT.
CG: BUT WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS THAT THE FRIEND WHO MAKES THE THREAT GENUINELY DOESN'T WANT THEIR FRIEND TO GET HURT?

TT: That is the most simplistic reading possible, yes.
CG: WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?
TT: Karkat.
TT: What the fuck are you talking about?

CG: ?
TT: ??
TT: Wait, don't type more question marks.
TT: Do trolls not want their friends to choose partners who will refrain from hurting them?

CG: OF COURSE THEY FUCKING DON'T.
CG: LOVE IS SUPPOSED TO HURT.
CG: THE ONE THING THAT UNITES ALL FOUR QUADRANTS IS THAT THEY FUCKING HURT.
CG: I CAN'T BELIEVE I EVEN HAVE TO EXPLAIN THIS, IT IS EMBARRASSING TO WATCH MYSELF TYPE SUCH BASIC AND FUNDAMENTAL FACTS.

TT: Oh.
TT: That's not how human love works.
TT: Or not how it's supposed to, at least. If it's requited, I suppose.

CG: WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK.
CG: THEN WHAT DOES "HUMAN LOVE" EVEN MEAN, THEN?
CG: IT DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING, DOES IT?
CG: IT'S A JOKE YOU'VE BEEN TRYING TO PERPETRATE ON US, ONE OF JOHN'S UNBELIEVABLY POINTLESS PRANKS FOR MORONS.
CG: IT'S A NOTHING WORD.

TT: Shut up, I'm trying to think.
TT: It's important.

CG: OH GOD.
CG: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
CG: NO, SCRATCH THAT, I DON'T WANT TO KNOW.
CG: I'VE ABDICATED RESPONSIBILITY FOR INTERSPECIES SLOPPY MAKEOUTS.
CG: YOU'RE THE LEADER NOW, THAT WHOLE TRAINWRECK IS YOURS TO DEAL WITH.

TT: I think I'm going to pretend you didn't say any of that.
CG: WHERE IS KANAYA, ANYWAY?
TT: I can't imagine why you think that I would know.
TT: Simply because neither of us is in the computer lab with you, it doesn't follow that we are not in the computer lab together.
TT: It's a large asteroid; there are a myriad places she could be.

CG: OK, WHATEVER.
TT: As it happens she is right here.
TT: But there was no particular reason for her to be.

CG: I DON'T KNOW IF YOU CAN HEAR IT, BUT THAT'S THE SOUND OF ME BEATING MY HEAD AGAINST MY KEYBOARD.
CG: IN AN ATTEMPT TO EXORCIZE THE SELF LOATHING I FEEL FOR SITTING HERE AND ACTUALLY READING THAT FROTHING TORRENT OF CRAP.

TT: Try to avoid giving yourself a concussion, I want to interrogate you about this "love hurts" thesis.
CG: AUGH, NO, FUCK THAT.
CG: I CAN'T STAND DEALING WITH MORE STUPIDITY RIGHT NOW.
CG: I MEAN, I GUESS IT'S COOL THAT YOU'RE TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THIS STUFF, BUT BASICALLY YOU SHOULD GIVE UP BECAUSE YOU NEVER WILL, YOUR WHOLE SPECIES FAILS AT EMOTIONS AND, ALSO, LIFE.

TT: Remind me how your love life is going?
CG: FUCK YOU.
TT: As for why you would want to "deal with this stupidity", as you so charmingly put it, perhaps I will quote you.
TT: What was it you said? The chance to pose as a snippy sarcastic expert about something?
TT: I am *asking for your advice*, Karkat.

CG: ARGH. FUCK.
CG: OK FINE WHATEVER.

TT: We have been observing you, Mr. Vantas.
TT: We have taken note of your weaknesses.

CG: I CAN'T EVEN BREATHE, THAT WAS SO HILARIOUS.
TT: You don't have to breathe, just type.
TT: You said that this principle united all four quadrants.
TT: While it doesn't require much in the way of mental gymnastics to imagine that a caliginous relationship would be a somewhat painful affair, I have difficulty extending that concept to a quadrant not ruled by hate.

CG: THAT'S BECAUSE YOU DON'T EVEN FUCKING UNDERSTAND WHAT A CALIGINOUS RELATIONSHIP IS.
CG: I MEAN YES, OF COURSE BLACKROM HURTS IN TOTALLY OBVIOUS WAYS.
CG: THAT WOULD BE CLEAR TO A TWO-SWEEPS-OLD WIGGLER WITH A ROCK FOR A LUSUS.
CG: IF YOU'RE IN TRUE HATE WITH SOMEBODY, OBVIOUSLY YOU WANT TO HURT THEM.
CG: YOU DON'T WANT ANYONE BUT YOU TO HURT THEM, AND YOU DON'T EVEN WANT THEM TO HURT ANY TIME YOU'RE NOT THERE TO SEE IT.
CG: AND I GUESS FEEL IT.
CG: AT LEAST, IN THE REALLY EPIC KISMESSITUDES THE LOVERS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO ACTUALLY FEEL AND EXULT IN EACH OTHER'S PAIN IF IT REACHES AN EXQUISITE ENOUGH PITCH.
CG: BUT THAT MIGHT JUST BE AN IDEALIZED ROMCOM CONVENTION AND BASICALLY NOT TRUE.

TT: ...
TT: I think I would like to see that particular idealized convention, in a romantic comedy setting.

CG: REALLY?
CG: WAIT, THAT WAS SARCASM WASN'T IT.
CG: HAHAHAHA HOW ARE YOU SO CONSISTENTLY HILARIOUS.

TT: No, that was sincerity.
TT: I would like to see one of these films, if you have one on your husktop you could show me.
TT: They sound awful but intriguing.

CG: OH.
CG: YEAH, OK. THAT COULD BE COOL.
CG: THEY'RE NOT AWFUL THEY'RE AMAZING, BUT I GUESS YOU CAN DISCOVER THAT FOR YOURSELF.

TT: It's a shame we can't have a movie night with John.
CG: YEAH.
CG: IT IS.
CG: OK THIS IS ACTUALLY GETTING ME DOWN, LET'S TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE.

TT: You were expounding on empathetic sadism between soulmates.
CG: RIGHT. WELL THAT'S, LIKE, THE TROLL HECTOR AND ACHILLES SHIT.
CG: THE HATE ROMANCES FOR THE AGES, THE ONES THAT RESULT IN THE DEATHS OF SOLAR SYSTEMS AND THE TEARS OF A THOUSAND WIGGLERS.
CG: THEY'RE BEAUTIFUL, BUT WHO IS REALLY CAPABLE OF THAT MUCH PASSION IN THE REAL WORLD?

TT: I can never tell when you're messing with us with these cultural references.
CG: WHAT?
CG: NEVER MIND, I DON'T ACTUALLY CARE.
CG: THE POINT IS THAT IN MOST CASES, CALIGINOUS PAIN ISN'T EVEN VERY PAINFUL, COMPARED TO THE OTHER QUADRANTS.
CG: IT'S LIKE THE WIGGLER POOL OF EMOTIONAL HURT.
CG: BECAUSE YOU'RE CAUSING PAIN AS WELL AS FEELING IT, AND THAT'S EXHILARATING AND SORT OF LIKE AN ANESTHETIZING EFFECT. A KIND OF HIGH?
CG: BECAUSE UNLIKE THE CONCILIATORY QUADRANTS, THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CONCUPISCENT PAIRS IS ALWAYS EQUAL IN THAT WAY. EQUAL HURT ON EITHER SIDE.

TT: Wait.
TT: That sounded important.

CG: FUCK YOU, EVERYTHING I JUST SAID WAS IMPORTANT.
CG: I HAVE BEEN RAINING DOWN FUCKING SKY WISDOM FOR YOU HERE.

TT: It just doesn't sound plausible.
TT: How can every caliginous relationship be equal?

CG: IT'S BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY FUCKING ARE.
CG: THAT'S WHY.

TT: That was beautifully convincing.
CG: OK. FUCK. LOOK.
CG: WE'RE TALKING ABOUT ACTUAL KISMESES, HERE, NOT UNREQUITED CLUSTERFUCKS WITH MOANY BULGELICKERS WAXING BLACK FOR OTHER ASSHOLES WHO DON'T CARE ENOUGH.
CG: AND, OK, SOMETIMES A BLACK ROMANCE GETS UNBALANCED, BUT THAT BASICALLY MEANS IT'S GOING ALL TO FUCK AND IT'S OVER ANYWAY.
CG: IF IT'S ONE PARTY GETTING TOO HURT, THEN THEIR HATRED IS GOING TO SPIRAL UP OUT OF THE QUADRANT, AND THEY'LL TIP OVER THE LINE BETWEEN HATING SOMEONE SO MUCH THEY WANT TO HATE THEM FOREVER AND HATING THEM SO MUCH THEY WANT TO KILL THEM.

TT: ...
CG: AND IF IT'S THE OTHER WAY, WITH ONE PARTY STARTING TO GET LESS HURT AND NOT CARING AS MUCH AND BASICALLY FALLING OUT OF HATE, THEN THEY'RE GOING TO END UP WITH THEIR KISMESIS CHASING AFTER THEM TRYING FOR HIGHER AND HIGHER EMOTIONAL STAKES IN THEIR ENCOUNTERS UNTIL THE ONE WHO'S GETTING BORED SNAPS IN FRUSTRATION AND KILLS THEM.
CG: SO EITHER WAY BASICALLY SOMEONE DIES AND THE WHOLE THING'S OFF.

TT: I find it rather fascinating, the way you become progressively less foul-mouthed the more interested in a topic you become.
TT: It suggests that your obscenities are a cloaking mechanism of some kind; a form of defense that you drop when you feel yourself to be on your own ground.
TT: Which is intriguing, because you don't otherwise give the impression of having protective walls; on the contrary I have observed that you appear to leave yourself widest open when you are at your most furious and colorful.
TT: You effectively launch your emotional weaknesses in every direction.

CG: OH MY FUCKING GOD ARE YOU PSYCHOANALYZING ME AGAIN YOU CRAZY FUCKING BROAD.
CG: FUCK SHIT FUCK.
CG: I HATE THESE CONVERSATIONS.
CG: THIS IS ME CHANGING THE FUCKING SUBJECT:
CG: WHY ARE YOU EVEN TALKING TO ME, DIDN'T YOU SAY YOU WERE WITH KANAYA?
CG: WHAT IS SHE DOING, IS SHE JUST STARING OUT THE WINDOW WHILE YOU TALK TO ME LIKE A DOUCHE AND IGNORE HER?

TT: Of course not.
TT: She's asleep.

CG: WHAT THE FUCK.
CG: DO YOU TWO JUST HANG OUT WHILE SHE SLEEPS.
CG: IS THAT A THING.
CG: BECAUSE THAT'S KIND OF CREEPY.
CG: DOES SHE KNOW YOU'RE STARING AT HER.

TT: Of course she knows I'm here, we came down together.
TT: And I'm not staring at her, I'm talking to you.
TT: I suppose she is in my line of sight, but it is natural to direct my eyes towards her when they are not otherwise engaged.
TT: She is after all lying in the only patch of sunlight in the room.
TT: She is lit up and haloed in crisp neon green.
TT: If you want a new subject, however, I am happy to return to the original one.
TT: Or rather, to move the original one along.
TT: If the concupiscent quadrants are always defined by equal hurt on each side, does that imply that the conciliatory quadrants are always unequal?

CG: FINE, I WON'T PICK APART YOUR LAUGHABLY TERRIBLE RATIONALE FOR STARING AT MY BEST FRIEND.
TT: I appreciate the courtesy.
CG: SO, OK. THE ASHEN AND PALE QUADRANTS AREN'T UNEQUAL IN THE ABSOLUTE SENSE.
CG: THEY HAVE A SORT OF BALANCED INEQUALITY.

TT: Should I point out the oxymoron?
CG: STFU. I WAS ABOUT TO EXPLAIN.
CG: IN BOTH THE CONCILIATORY QUADRANTS, THE ONE WITH THE UPPER HAND IS THE CONCILIATOR.
CG: IN THE ASHEN QUADRANT THAT'S THE AUSPISTICE, WHO OBVIOUSLY HAS TO HAVE IT OR THEY COULD NEVER DIFFUSE THE TENSION BETWEEN TWO TROLLS WHO BASICALLY WANT TO CLAW EACH OTHER'S FACES OFF.

TT: Does that mean the auspistice needs to be the more physically powerful of the three?
TT: Please note that I expect the answer to that to be "no", I'm simply attempting to move the explanation along.

CG: HAHAHA OF COURSE THE SEER OF BULLSHIT AND RUNNING HER MOUTH ASSUMES PHYSICAL STRENGTH ISN'T THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.
CG: BUT WHATEVER, NO, OF COURSE NOT.
CG: I MEAN, ASHEN QUADRANT IS PRETTY FLUID, PEOPLE DO IT A LOT OF DIFFERENT WAYS.
CG: BECAUSE IT HAS TO BE A KIND OF CATCH-ALL FOR A BUNCH OF DIFFERENT SITUATIONS, I GUESS.
CG: BUT THERE ARE TWO BASIC FORMS THAT ARE THE MOST COMMON.
CG: THE FIRST IS WHERE THE AUSPISTICE RUNS INTERFERENCE BETWEEN THE OTHER TWO BY MEDDLING AND BASICALLY BEING UNBELIEVABLY FUCKING ANNOYING.
CG: WHICH CAUSES SOME OF THE HOSTILITY THE ORIGINAL PAIR FEEL FOR EACH OTHER TO BE SIPHONED OFF AND REDIRECTED TOWARD THE AUSPISTICE.
CG: THAT KIND OF AUSPISTICE NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND THE OTHER TWO AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP BETTER THAN THEY DO THEMSELVES.

TT: Redirecting the hostility towards yourself seems like a dubious method of procuring concord.
CG: NO SHIT.
CG: ASHEN QUADRANT IS A HATE QUADRANT, IT'S FUCKING BUILT ON *DISCORD* NOT CONCORD.
CG: AUSPISTICISM IS ABOUT DRAWING A KIND OF PEACE OUT OF THE ACTUAL STUFF OF CONFLICT.

TT: That's an unlikely kind of alchemy.
CG: I GUESS.
CG: IT'S LIKE, PEACE IN THE ASHEN QUADRANT IS MADE OUT OF KNOCKING THE ROUGH BITS OFF EACH OTHER.
CG: LIKE CONSTANTLY SANDING STONES SMOOTH, AND NOT GENTLY?
CG: WHEN IT'S WORKING WELL, ASHEN BECOMES A KIND OF PEACEFUL HATE-BASED CAMARADERIE.

TT: Let's pretend that "hate-based camaraderie" is a term that makes sense.
TT: That would make ashen quadrant something like combative three-way friendship?

CG: IT'S MORE INTENSE THAN MOST FRIENDSHIPS, BUT YEAH, SURE, IF YOU NEED TO THINK OF CONCILIATORY ROMANCES AS PLATONIC RELATIONSHIPS THEN THAT'S A NOT TOTALLY TERRIBLE WAY OF PUTTING IT.
TT: What's the other form of ashen romance, then? You said that there were two.
CG: YEAH, OK.
CG: THE OTHER VERSION IS WHERE THE AUSPISTEES CARE MORE ABOUT THE AUSPISTICE THAN ABOUT THEIR RIVALRY.
CG: THE AUSTPISTICE HAS THE EMOTIONAL RATHER THAN THE TACTICAL UPPER HAND, IN THIS CASE.
CG: YOU GET THIS KIND OF AUSPISTICESHIP MORE IN ROMANTIC DRAMAS, WHEREAS YOU GET THE FIRST KIND IN ROMCOMS AND SOMETIMES IN THRILLERS AND INTRIGUES.
CG: BASICALLY THE PROTO-CALIGINOUS PAIR HOLD THEMSELVES IN CHECK BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO LET THE AUSPISTICE DOWN.
CG: IT EVEN LENDS ITSELF TO TWO-PERSON AUSPISTICISMS SOMETIMES.
CG: IF YOU ARE IN THE THROES OF SELF-LOATHING, SOMETIMES YOU MIGHT MEET SOMEBODY WHOSE GOOD OPINION YOU CARE ABOUT MORE THAN YOU CARE ABOUT HOW STUPID YOUR PAST AND FUTURE SELVES ARE.

TT: "Somebody".
CG: SOMEBODY, IT COULD BE ANYBODY, IT COULD BE AN ALIEN GIRL WHO YELLS AT YOU AND MAKES YOU SEE HOW STUPID YOU'RE BEING, WHATEVER.
TT: I have to admit, I suspected you had a crush on her, but it didn't occur to me that it could be ashen in nature.
CG: THAT'S NOT EVEN. FUCK OFF, THAT WAS JUST AN EXAMPLE.
CG: I HARDLY EVEN KNOW HER.

TT: That's probably a semi-healthy approach to take, I suppose.
TT: Semi-healthy being the best you could hope for, given the inside of your head.

CG: OH MY FUCKING TROLL J3G4S.
CG: HOW ARE WE BACK AT THE PSYCHOBABBLE AGAIN.

TT: One moment.
TT: I believe Kanaya is stirring.

CG: ARE YOU
CG: ARE YOU SERIOUSLY STILL WATCHING HER SLEEP.

TT: Never mind, she only shifted.
TT: And as I have already said, I am not watching her, I am only occupying the same room as her.
TT: I believe she would be embarrassed if she awoke and found me gone.
TT: I am fairly sure she will wake in approximately twenty two minutes in any case.
TT: The pool of sunshine she is sleeping in is already beginning to slip into shadow.
TT: I think that when she shifted just now it was because her feet were becoming cold.

CG: TWENTY TWO MINUTES.
TT: When this patch of sunshine from the Green Sun moves on.
CG: YOU PREDICTED THE SUNSHINE.
TT: Yes. As a seer, I cannot manipulate my aspect directly, I can only see when and where a shaft of stronger sunshine might fall through the twists of spacetime.
TT: Thus I cannot prolong this source of enjoyment for Kanaya.
TT: The most I can do is ensure that she is in the right place to receive it.

CG: HOLY SHIT.
CG: KANAYA WAS PINING FOR THE SUN, SO YOU FOUND SOME FOR HER.
CG: AND THEN STAYED TO WATCH OVER HER WHILE SHE FELL ASLEEP IN IT.

TT: I try to occasionally do nice things for my friends.
TT: I realize that this practice must be something of an alien revelation for you in particular.

CG: HAHAHAHAHA IT IS EMBARRASSING HOW TRANSPARENT YOU ARE.
CG: I AM EMBARRASSED FOR YOU, YOU'RE LIKE A WINDOW.
CG: HEY.
CG: HEY WHERE ARE YOU?
CG: IT'S BEEN NEARLY THREE MINUTES.

-- tentacleTherapist [TT] is now idle! --
CG: OK FUCK THIS I'M GONE.
TT: Wait, I'm back.
CG: WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING?
TT: It looked as though Kanaya was being bothered by a lock of hair falling across her face.
CG: FUCKING HELL, WERE YOU SMOOTHING HER HAIR BACK.
TT: I
TT: No. I couldn’t, quite.
TT: I didn’t do anything.

CG: OH MY GOD. FORGET I ASKED.
TT: Excellent.
TT: In that case I should point out that after approximately five hundred words on the topic of ashen romance, you have yet to explain what you meant by "balanced inequality".

CG: OH. I GUESS I THOUGHT IT WAS OBVIOUS.
CG: IN THE ASHEN QUADRANT THE BALANCE OF POWER IS TIPPED IN THE AUSPISTICE'S FAVOR.
CG: BUT THE BALANCE OF HURT IS AGAINST THEM.
CG: YOU PUT YOURSELF IN THE MIDDLE OF A CONFLICT, AND YOU PRACTICALLY BARE YOUR NECK FOR THE CUTS.

TT: Oh.
CG: THERE'S ACTUALLY A REALLY FAMOUS TROPE IN ASHEN FILMS WHERE SOMEBODY WILL BECOME AN AUSPISTICE BY LITERALLY STEPPING IN BETWEEN THE RIVALS' DRAWN BLADES, LIKE A BABY WOOLBEAST BARING ITS THROAT.
CG: LIKE IT'S PRETTY CLICHED NOW BUT IT'S STILL USED A LOT. EVEN BULGE-GNAWINGLY PRETENTIOUS INDIE FLICKS WILL PUT IN ALLUSIONS TO IT.

TT: That's ... startlingly submissive of the auspistice.
TT: That feels like a contradiction to your claim that they have the greater power in the trio?

CG: NO, SEE THAT'S WHY IT'S SUCH A FUCKING SEMINAL TROPE.
CG: IT'S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL EVOCATION FUCKING POSSIBLE OF THE ESSENTIAL CONTRADICTION IN THE CONCILIATOR'S ROLE.
CG: IT'S A FORM OF SACRIFICE, THIS RISK YOU TAKE.
CG: BUT IT'S ALSO A CLAIM?
CG: THE ONE WHO DOES IT STOPS THE CONFLICT BY STEPPING INTO THE MIDDLE OF IT AND FACING THEM BOTH DOWN.
CG: IT'S STRENGTH PROVED THROUGH WEAKNESS, AND IT ENDS IN EITHER DEATH OR SERENDIPITY.

TT: I should probably have surmised that troll romance would be desperately life-threatening, I suppose.
CG: WELL, I MEAN IN REAL LIFE MOST ASHEN ROMANCES DON'T BEGIN THAT DRAMATICALLY.
CG: MOST PEOPLE BUILD UP TRUST AND RESPECT OVER TIME, THEY DON'T DO BIG ROMCOM GESTURES OR WHATEVER.
CG: BUT THAT'S STILL, I DON'T KNOW, THE SUBTEXT OF THE RELATIONSHIP.
CG: AND IT'S THE SAME WITH THE PALE QUADRANT.
CG: THE CONCILIATOR MAKES THEMSELVES INTO THEIR MOIRAIL'S FIRST WALL OF DEFENSE.
CG: THEY BASICALLY TAKE THEIR MOIRAIL'S PAIN AND VIOLENCE INTO THEMSELVES.

TT: I'm trying to imagine what the appeal is of offering yourself up to bear the brunt of somebody else's storm.
TT: Is it that you have a right to it? You're the only one who can help?

CG: YEAH, PARTLY.
CG: I MEAN, YOU OWN THAT FUCKING STORM.
CG: DON'T EVEN PRETEND LIKE THAT ISN'T THE MOST ROMANTIC FUCKING THING YOU CAN THINK OF.

TT: Alright, I'm going to give you that one, because it does make a sociopathic kind of sense.
TT: I have a hypothetical question for you.
TT: Say that you knew somebody who seemed to be drawn to situations featuring a certain interpersonal dynamic of inequality.
TT: Perhaps they had talked to you about a previous romantic entanglement in which they had been more deeply invested, and invested in a different way, than their partner.
TT: Or, say, when you met this person you had immediately gained and kept the upper hand, perhaps due to a greater familiarity with sociolinguistic conventions such as weaponized sarcasm, acting in conjunction with an instinctive tendency to treat all your interactions as passive-aggressive exercises in veiled antagonism.
TT: And due to their own nature this person chose to respond, despite their hurt and confusion, by engaging with you upon your own passive-aggressive terms and deliberately attempting to bring about the unequal dynamic causing their distress.

CG: HOLY SHIT, IS THERE EVER GOING TO BE A QUESTION?
TT: I'm only wondering, I suppose, whether this kind of hypothetical dynamic would make either of the quadrants that rely on equality impossible.
CG: YEAH, I HAVE NO IDEA WHETHER YOU FUCKED THAT UP WITH HER WITH ALL THAT MINDGAME SHIT AT THE BEGINNING.
CG: YOU'D HAVE TO ACTUALLY TALK TO HER.

TT: ...
CG: OH FINE, IF WE'RE STILL PRETENDING THIS ISN'T ABOUT KANAYA.
CG: HYPO-FUCKING-THETICALLY, FLUSHED IS THE QUADRANT THAT NEEDS THE CLOSEST TO ABSOLUTE HONESTY.
CG: YOU CAN'T HIDE ANYTHING WHEN YOU'RE FACE TO FACE THAT WAY.
CG: YOU ESPECIALLY CAN'T FUCKING HIDE YOURSELF.

TT: Oh.
CG: AND THE THING IS THAT IT HURTS TO BE SEEN, BUT IT HURTS MORE TO SEE.
CG: FUCK.
CG: IS KANAYA AWAKE YET, IS SHE READING THIS SHIT TOO?
CG: SHE ALREADY GOT FRONT ROW SEATS TO WAY TOO MUCH OF MY SHITSTORM OF A PERSONAL LIFE WHEN WE WERE IN THE MEDIUM.
CG: UGH, ACTUALLY I DON'T KNOW IF I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS.

TT: >:?
CG: WOW, FUCK YOU, LALONDE.
TT: I wasn't quite sure.
TT: Which quadrant it was for the two of you, I mean.

CG: IT'S COMPLICATED.
CG: ALSO NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.

TT: Kanaya's not awake, no.
TT: I don't think she's entirely asleep either.
TT: Her eyelashes are fluttering, and a moment ago she turned her face into her arm a little.
TT: But the sunshine's almost entirely gone. She would be in shadow if that were possible for her.
TT: I found some sunlight for her today, but if I could I would give her shade.
TT: Something to keep her own skin from betraying the exhausted charcoal bruises under her eyes and the uncertainty in the set of her mouth.
TT: Nobody should have to be lit up and so painfully visible all the time.

CG: RIIIIIIGHT.
CG: SO.
CG: THAT WAS AN APOLOGY, WASN'T IT.
CG: THERE'S NO WAY YOU'RE BEING SO NAUSEATINGLY TRANSPARENT BY ACCIDENT.

TT: Tell me about pity.
CG: YEAH, I'M PRETTY SURE THIS EXPLANATION IS NOW PAN-ACHINGLY POINTLESS AND UNNECESSARY.
CG: BUT HERE GOES ANYWAY.
CG: PITY IS ABOUT SEEING ALL OF THE WAYS SOMEBODY IS VULNERABLE AND A PATHETIC TANGLE.
CG: ONLY INSTEAD OF IT MAKING YOU WANT TO KICK THEM LIKE IT WOULD WITH ANYONE ELSE, IT HURTS LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER.
CG: IT MAKES YOU WANT TO KISS THEM UNTIL THEY FORGET EVERYTHING, ALL THE SADNESS AND UNCERTAINTY AND STUPID HOPE.
CG: EVEN THOUGH YOU KNOW YOU’LL NEVER HAVE ENOUGH BREATH FOR THAT.
CG: IT'S LOOKING AT SOMEBODY AND FEELING LIKE YOUR INSIDES HAVE BEEN SCOOPED OUT WITH A RUSTY CULLING KNIFE.
CG: BECAUSE YOU CAN SEE WHAT THE WORLD IS DOING TO THEM, AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO SAVE THEM.

TT: ...
CG: YEAH.
TT: I still think pity is the wrong word for that.
CG: BZZZZZZZT WRONG. YOUR CULTURE FAILS AGAIN.
TT: Mm.
CG: SO, UH.
CG: DID YOU MEAN IT ABOUT THE MOVIE NIGHT?
CG: NOT THAT I DON'T HAVE OTHER PEOPLE TO WATCH MOVIES WITH OR WHATEVER.

TT: No, I meant it.
TT: Lead me to your horrifying cinematic hatemances, Vantas.
TT: I shall expect to be blown away by these tender epics of discord.

CG: HAHA IT'S HILARIOUS THAT YOU THINK YOU WON'T BE.
CG: YOU WILL BASICALLY BE CLAWING AT YOUR FACE IN RESPONSE TO THE EMOTIONAL DEPTH AND BRILLIANCE OF THESE FILMS.

TT: Oh shit.
CG: WHAT?
TT: She's waking up.
CG: FINALLY.
TT: Fuck
TT: I think
TT: This is going to hurt.