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Safety Restraints

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They aren't really playing against the Blue Team. They aren't even really playing against the computer. She may be dumb but she's not that dumb, and her history of allowing herself to be manipulated into doing things a part of her wanted to do anyway doesn't mean that she has to play the puppet for anyone who asks. There's nothing to compete against, there's no way to save the world or destroy it any more thoroughly, and there's no reason not to sabotage these ungrateful freaks and cripples who never even wanted her on their team. She has nothing to lose but her life.

"You aren't going to hurt him again."

Vriska slams her alchemized laptop shut to hide what she's been working on and spins around to face Kanaya, who crosses her arms and stares her down. "Don't be ridiculous," she says hurriedly. "I buried that hatchet ages ago. It is an old, dull, rusty hatchet. Besides, we're on the same team now. You would not believe how much energy I have put into stopping that loser from getting himself hurt. He is just so awful at this game! Honestly, you shouldn't be surprised if he manages to off himself even with my sage guidance."

"You are a terrible liar, Vriska," the other girl says.

"Well you're a terrible gamer!" Vriska shoots back. "You're soooooooo sloooooooow! Weren't you supposed to be through your first gate by now?" It's a pretty big problem. Vriska timed this so that she would arrive at Kanaya's house while Karkat was between gates and presumably too busy with underlings to bother peeking in. She had, of course, counted on being alone here.

"I was postponing my departure to coincide with your arrival," Kanaya explains calmly, "so that I might continue my surveillance even while away from the computer on which I have the server program installed. Also, you aren't going to hurt him again."

Well, that's just great. Trust Kanaya to hold up the game for the sake of meddling with her teammates. "You say that like it's something you've seen in a vision." She's going for low and dangerous, but as always it comes out shrill and petulant.

"No," Kanaya says in the exact tone Vriska was trying for, "I say it like it's something I've decided on. Because I have, and it isn't negotiable."

"Argh!" This is starting to go a bit beyond meddling, and Vriska is not about to put up with it. She turns her back on Kanaya and flips open her laptop. "Fine! Go ahead and stop me! You wanna be the one who breaks the chain instead of me? You want me to be the weak link instead of him? Go for it!"

Before her fingers can touch the keyboard, Kanaya steps forward, grabs her by her one flesh-and-blood hand, and pulls. Vriska is caught off guard by her strength, stumbles a bit as she's spun around and drawn in close, and half falls, half collides with the other girl, who stands firm and places her free hand on Vriska's shoulder to steady her. She might have expected it from someone who regularly swings around chainsaws, but she didn't. She could still easily overpower her with her mech arm, but she doesn't.

"I don't require precognition to know what will happen if you break the truce," Kanaya tells her, close enough that Vriska can feel her breath, and despite all her advantages she's suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of danger and vulnerability, like she's gambling something big. "You will regret it, but not enough. I won't be able to stop the others from trying to kill you, and even if they fail, the game will eventually do it for them."

"I know that!" Vriska snaps. Tries to snap. Ends up whining. "I'm not as stupid as you think I am!"

"I know you know." Kanaya lets go of her shoulder but not her hand. It would be so easy to punch her in the stupid, smug face.

"Then why are you telling me?"

"The better question is, why are you attempting this circuitous form of suicide?"

"Because this game blows! Too much co-op, not enough PVP."

For the first time, Kanaya smiles at her — a bit wryly, but it's definitely a smile. "I rather doubt that's your most scathing criticism of it."

"Fuck you," Vriska says, because she has no idea what they're talking about anymore.

The smile stays in place. "You are a difficult person to care about, Vriska Sekret."

"So stop caring." It's supposed to sound more like a dare and less like a plea, but God is she ever horrible at this.

"I've made my decision," Kanaya reminds her. "Now you have to make one. You can be childish and self-destruct, or you can come with me through the gate to play the game, fight underlings, and maybe live a bit longer."

And it finally occurs to Vriska that maybe Kanaya isn't that dumb either. She knows, she must know, that if everything blows up now, it will save everyone a lot of headaches. To keep going is to wager suffering against life, and with their luck, it isn't smart to gamble.

Silently, Vriska twists her hand in Kanaya's, locking their fingers together. It isn't smart, but addiction is a powerful thing.