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The blindfold has become a daily part of her routine.

She wakes up in the morning, crawls out of the pile, and ties it around her head so that it covers her eyes. The feeling of the cloth tied tightly over her eyes is strangely comforting to her, like a barrier between her eyes and her hands. Her obsessive thoughts don't leave her alone; the contrary, they keep her up at night. But she manages to stop the compulsions, for a while at least. The itching feeling in her fingers grows worse, needy, but she tries to push that aside.

She's not allowed to use the bathroom on her own anymore- Rose or Karkat will accompany her there and stand in the doorway, turned the other way- and she has to keep the door to her block open so that people can wander in and out as they please. And thoguh they haven't outright told her, she swears that Rose and Karkat have made some kind of agreement to fill all her spare time. They're trying their best to keep her spirits just as high as usual and it's actually not completely terrible.

Terezi spends her flushed time with Karkat; they watch his stupid movies and he pets her hair and he says the most romantic things, followed by a stream of swear words as she kisses him and he insists she's an idiot. They kiss a lot. Terezi has started moving their makeout sessions to the food preparation block so that she can lift him up onto the counter and kiss him there, making them the same height. Everybody else is tired of their PDA- except Eridan, who walked in on them once and just inhaled sharply, staring until they waved him away. Jeez, that guy really needs to get laid.

Rose fills her pale quadrant and they spend a lot of time in the hastily piled blankets in her block- it's not as comfy as it would be if it was made out of her thick volumes about wizards but Terezi doesn't complain. She knows that humans are weird. Rose helps her to see in ways that she couldn't before. She shows Terezi books where the words are printed in little dots, so that she can trail her fingers over them and work out the words without having to consume entire novels at a time. She teaches her how to feel her way around and though Terezi prefers her nose still, she learns a lot about things on the meteor that she hadn't previously noticed.

The reason that Rose is such a good moirail is because she's gentle, yet firm. She is fully prepared to pity Terezi but she won't let her lose her independence. She still makes her do things on her own, telling her that she can bathe herself and she can read to herself. But Rose still pities her in the nicest ways.

One day, when the thoughts get really bad and keep knocking and won't go away, Rose comes to hold her and wipe her tears away, holding her in her arms and telling her that she's going to be okay. Rose keeps telling her that she's brave but Terezi doesn't agree- she used to be a hero, now she's no more than a damsel in distress. She's disgusted with herself. Maybe that's why she takes herself for a walk, flipping her coin up into the air and catching it again. Her thumb traces over the two sides, enjoying the feel of the cold metal in her hand. She's thinking about the old her, the better her, when she bumps into somebody.

Their breathing is ragged. "Hey there, sis."

"Gamzee?" She instinctively rifles through her sylladex for her cane but it's nowhere to be found; she must have left it at Dave's place, when she was playing the part of his strife practice buddy, "What the fuck are you doing here? Everybody's been looking for you."

"I know, I know." Gamzee chuckles, "Everybody's been all up and looking for me to see what I've been doing in my chill time. I been hiding away 'cos they would try to make me chill with them and I'm motherfucking done with that life. But the vents gotta get boring after a while." He inhales, "And you smell like a motherfucking miracle, Tezsis."

Terezi takes a step back. "Are you seriously trying to black-flirt with me? Because you're terrible at it."

Gamzee laughs, his voice low. "Always with the motherfucking judgements. Maybe that's what I hate so much about you, sis, is that you always jump to motherfucking conclusions without considering other options."

She clears her throat to make it nice and easy for him. "Gamzee, I'm not pitch for you."

He steps forward. "You wanna prove that?"

"Wha-?" She finds herself being pushed up against the wall, a big pair of hands pressing her wrists above her head so she can't wriggle free. His tongue slips into her mouth and she can taste burning on his tongue- he's been alone a long time and he's needy. He wants her. Maybe that's why she kisses him back, thinking him incredibly pitiful. Maybe that's why she ignores the first hand pressing cold against her hip, pushing it's way up under her shirt so that his fingers tickle her skin. Maybe, maybe, maybe. She's suddenly unsure of herself.

Terezi closes her eyes under her blindfold, hoping it will be over soon, and lets him do as he wants. He pulls the blindfold away from her, tossing it aside, and she whimpers a little. He bites down on her lower lip and she figures she should keep her mouth shut.

Afterwards, once he's shuffled away, she's left sitting there against the wall. She has no idea if they're in quadrants or not; she has no idea if she was happy that she let him do that or not; she has no idea if she should have stopped him or not. But she finds tears streaming down her cheeks, so she covers them again with blindfold. Let nobody see her weak.

It doesn't matter how long and insistent her showers are, she can't seem to remove the feeling of his cold fingers from his skin. She can't manage to wash his metallic taste from her mouth or the feeling of shame from her clothes. As she crawls into the pile with Karkat that night, she knows that she shouldn't have done anything. She shouldn't have done anything with Gamzee because he has made her filthy and now, there's no way she can ever be clean again. No matter how many times she washes herself, no matter how many times she scrubs her hands until they're raw, the feeling of his hands doesn't go away.

During their next therapy session, Rose seems to sense that something is wrong. She inspects Terezi's hands, her skin, and asks how she managed to rub it so raw. Troll skin, she says, is incredibly tough. It shouldn't be damaged at all.

"I really hope you haven't changed your coping mechanism to replace your eyeball-touching because trust me, ritualistic hand washing is just as bad if not worse." Rose tells her and Terezi shakes her head because it's nothing to do with her disorder. This is to do with the dirt that's crept over her skin, the filth Gamzee left there, and her fruitless attempts to remove it.

Rose can obviously tell that Terezi is keeping something from her. But no matter how she pushes Terezi, she will not break. She will not let anybody see her weak.

"Pale for you." Rose says, as she leaves, and Terezi just nods.

One week later and Terezi has returned to the scene of the crime, standing there with her cane gripped tightly in her hands and her blindfold tied tightly. Somehow, Gamzee still manages to claw it free. They're beginning to leave quite the mess of genetic material there so Terezi returns after dark to clean it and only returns to her block when she's satisfied. She tells herself that she won't let it happen again but then, she thinks about what Gamzee could do if she didn't show up, and she scratches at the corner of her eye.

Every time, she tells herself it's the last time.

And she begins to wash herself repetitively. Rose has told her that she has obsessive behaviours, her mind is set up to work in an obsessive way, and Terezi works this to her advantage. She cleans herself inside out, trying to shift the feeling of dirtiness. The temporary relief that follows washing is not unlike how touching her eyes used to feel. But she reasons with herself, telling herself that it's normal to shower, it's normal to wash. And if you're filthy for whatever reason, it's normal to wash it off.

She's literally burning through her clothes faster than she can alchemise them. Every single time Gamzee ruins a new shirt, a new pair of pants, she has to bury them deep in the meteor where nobody will find them. She buries her secrets inside herself so that Rose can't find them. And she can't let Karkat look at her anymore, scared he'll see what's hiding in her skin. Not a hero, just a monster that used to be one.

Until one day, Karkat confronts her. "What the fuck's going on?"

"I have no idea what you mean." She's watching a movie on her husktop, one of the human ones. She's gotta say that once you take quadrants out of the equation, the movies become a whole lot better.

"You've been avoiding me. And I'm your fucking flushed mate, Terezi." Karkat closes the husktop, making her jump, "We're meant to spend time together."

"I know, don't put pressure on me." The words spill out before she can stop, "There's no reason for you to be so needy all the time, I have other people to hang out with."

"I know you haven't been spending time with Rose because she's worried about you too." Karkat is standing right in front of her, his eyes bearing into her, "She said you've been getting worse, acting weird. Why won't you talk to us? This better not be your stupid hero complex all over again because I'm tired of telling you that you're not weak for having a disorder. For fuck's sake, loads of people have disorders!"

"Not trolls." Terezi insists, "I'm a mutant freak, remember?" She suddenly wonders if that's what Gamzee sees when he looks at her, what he pities so much, "I'm the first of our kind to be fucked in the head like this and you're telling me the drones wouldn't have culled me for this? I'm a fucking freak, Karkat, what do you want to hear?"

"Well, I'm the fucking king of the freaks." Karkat's breathing is harsh, wheezy, and it reminds her of the breath she's felt on her skin, "I had to deal with my blood colour alone for sweeps before you had to deal with this. So, why can't you just let me help you? Why do you keep pushing me away like this all the time?"

"Maybe I don't want to be in your flushed quadrant anymore!" It's the only way to keep him out of this mess, the only way to protect him when she finally implodes.

There's a pause. "... What?"

"You heard me." All the anger that's been burning inside of her begins to escape, "I don't need you in my flushed quadrant anymore and I don't want you there. You don't do anything but make me feel worse about myself." It's all lies. "I just want you to leave me the hell alone!"

Karkat storms away. Terezi heads to the usual spot.

Every time Gamzee bites down on her skin, she feels a little bit of herself slip away. It's like she's watching her lose herself- the real Terezi is disappearing bit by bit and being replaced by the monster of obsession, furiously washing, poking her eyes, doing all she can to try and fix herself but knowing that it will never be enough. All the showers in the world couldn't replace what she's done to herself.

After Karkat stops speaking to her, Rose has to take her to the bathroom. There's only one way to the bathroom via Rose's room and it involves walking past the same spot Gamzee likes to meet her. Just walking past there makes Terezi uncomfortable so she just crosses her legs and tries to go as few times as she can. When she does have to, she'll walk an extraordinarily long way to get to Rose's room and she must look like a mess by the time she gets there. Rose accompanies her to the bathroom and bites her lower lip as Terezi washes her hands.

"Are you ready to tell me what's wrong yet?" Rose says, at their therapy session.

"Nothing's wrong." Terezi says, because she doesn't want to look weak. And she fiddles with her blindfold, knowing that bit by bit, she's slipping away into herself.