In her dream, Diamonds is alone. She walks along a faintly glowing white path, floating in a black void. She's been dreaming this dream for a long time, the same glowing stretch of white in the same empty void. She's been dreaming this dream every night since he died. Since Scratch killed him. She thinks she's going somewhere, although where, she doesn't know yet. She doesn't care about much, recently, so she spends a lot of her waking hours thinking about the dreams as well. The vague sense of curiosity regarding where this path leads is at least slightly compelling, more so than anything else. She walks.
Diamonds, for the first time, thinks that maybe she should be arriving soon. The dream hears this, and up ahead, slowly, there comes a curve in the path. It may have already been there, but now the curve is pronounced enough that it can be seen. Diamonds keeps walking. What could have been minutes or hours--time is too fluid in dreams to know for sure--the path widens into a large, black and white spiral platform. The black blends into the surrounding void, but Diamonds knows she can't fall. A figure stands in the centre of the circle, illuminated perfectly even in the darkness. A troll, it looks like, with white hair that must be bleached and curved horns like flamberge swords from her head. The troll turns.
"Hello," the troll says pleasantly, with a slight british lilt to her speech. She waves at Diamonds. Diamonds doesn't wave back, but the troll seems to expect this, and looks unbothered. "I'm Calliope. I kind of run things around here."
Calliope studies Diamonds Droog carefully, then her focus seems to turn inwards as she closes her eyes. When she opens them, she's human. A short, brown skinned woman with the same chin length white hair she had as a troll, and bright green eyes.
"Is this better? I find people are often more comfortable speaking with their own species." the now human woman says, smiling. Her teeth are slightly sharper than a human's should be, but she doesn't feel threatening in the part of Diamond's brain that would normally react to things like that. Diamonds shrugs neutrally, but Calliope doesn't turn back into a troll, presumably seeing no reason to turn back if Diamonds doesn't specifically dislike this form.
"You lost someone," Calliope says. "You were close." It's not a question.
"I'm sorry," she says softly, after a moment. "for the loss, and for looking into your head without permission. Some people don't like it. They think it's creepy." She shrugs sheepishly.
Diamonds tilts her head, trying to look like she doesn't care one way or the other. The mind-reading does save her having to speak, and she finds it not as grating as it had been with Scratch. Calliope, who despite having just apologised for reading Diamonds' mind a moment ago has clearly just done it again, nods understandingly.
"You were close," Calliope repeats, and Diamonds nods. "Moirails?" she pulls from Diamonds' mind. Diamonds lets out a breath, speaking for the first time.
"He wanted to be. He tried to woo me for years. I think I didn't want to need calming down. I wanted the anger." She sighs.
"But he did?" Calliope replies. "Calm you down, I mean."
Diamonds nods. "I tried not to like him, but you honestly couldn't hate the guy if you tried. Too... earnest. Eager to please."
Calliope nods, smiling encouragingly.
"By the time I admitted I could use the calming down, it was too late. We got, what, a few days? Something like that, and then he..."
"It's okay, I know, you don't have to say it."
"Yeah. Thanks. But yeah, don't think I appreciated him until he was gone. Didn't notice how much he'd been helping." Diamonds paused, a ghost of the old anger crossing her face, but quickly dissipating. "Would've killed the guy who took him, under normal circumstances. I wanted to. I think it was the fact that I couldn't that hit so hard. All that anger finally had somewhere to go, and then..." She shakes her head, making a woosh sound as she gestures with her hand.
Calliope nods. "Temporal inevitability."
"Often," muses Calliope, "these things can be circumvented with a bit of creativity."
Diamonds looks at her, and Calliope looks curiously back.
"You know, I have a friend who would love this story. He's quite a big romance fan. But he does prefer happy endings over the sad ones."
"Uh," Diamonds says.
"I'll see what I can do," Calliope smiles. "I think it's about time for you to be waking up, Diamonds, don't you? Go have your happy ending. Everyone else has theirs."
The woman reaches into the pocket of her deep green suit jacket then, and pulls out a handful of sparkling powder. Smiling, she winks one of her bottle-bright green eyes, and blows the glitter right in Diamonds' face.
When Diamonds opens her eyes, she's lying on a beach, her traveling companions clustered nearby. There's just a little bit of glitter on the dusty collar of her disheveled dress shirt. She doesn't remember the dream.
Clubs Deuce is in a waiting room, and he doesn't know how he got there.
Sometimes this kind of thing happens when Diamonds kidnaps him, but he usually remembers waking up when that happens, and he doesn't remember opening his eyes or anything, he just... started being here, he guesses. He looks around the room. Not much decoration, it's honestly pretty boring in here! The walls are all white, with a white couch that he's currently sitting on and a low wooden coffee table with nothing on it. The only decoration is one of those paintings they sometimes have in waiting rooms, of puppies, or flowers, or a barn. Clubs has always loved those paintings! Diamonds had laughed at him when she found out, but that's just how she is. He doesn't mind! He always likes seeing Diamonds laugh, even if it's at him!
With a click that draws Clubs' attention, a door opens. For a second, he wonders if the door had been there before, but it must have been. He probably just missed it. He is pretty forgetful sometimes! Diamonds sometimes points it out for him, which he definitely appreciates! Good old Di.
A female voice calls out from beyond the door. "Clubs Deuce?" it says, "we're ready for you!"
Clubs stands up promptly, heading towards the cracked door. He pushes it open and steps inside. Within is a desk with two chairs, one occupied by a woman in a suit. Everything in the room is white: furniture, walls, even the woman at the desk is dressed in it completely, in a white pantsuit and hijab.
"Hello, Clubs Deuce," the woman in white greets, placing a hand on her chest rather than reaching out to shake Clubs'. He mirrors the action, and lets out a confused "Hi?"
"Where am I?" he asks, letting his claw drop back into his lap. If anyone ought to know what's happening, it's this lady, since she was already here.
"Dead," she replies simply.
"I'm dead? I don't feel dead," Clubs says, before pausing, reaching for his memories.
"Don't try to remember," the woman says, "We don't leave those memories. Can't have people remembering something particularly awful and breaking down in the waiting room. We do try to keep things neat in there."
"Oh," Clubs says, "okay." That seemed reasonable.
"Now," says the woman, "As for why you're here, you were scheduled for the afterlife, but we just got a claim placed for your soul, so you have a choice to make."
Clubs nods, to show he's listening.
"Either you head straight to the afterlife, or you take this claim, and come back. You won't be immortal or anything, just a normal troll lifespan, but apparently there's someone with power who wants you alive."
Clubs considers this carefully. He's lived so many lives already, and he remembers all of them. The one before this ended in him begging a queen to erase his code from the databanks, to let him end, but still he came back. Now he has a chance for things to finally be over, but-- he sighs. But Diamonds. It's always Diamonds. No matter how much he wants this death, he needs to be there for Diamonds. Seeing his kid wouldn't be too bad either, he thinks.
"And you're sure I won't come back after this?" he asks the woman across from him. She inclines her head in affirmation.
"Just this one life, and then you go. I know you've been through this too many times already."
"Alright then," Clubs says, "Bring me back."
"Just sign these," the woman smiles, pulling a stack of papers and a pen from nothing, and handing them to Clubs.
As soon as he finishes signing the last page--sticky notes point out everywhere his name needs to go, which Clubs appreciates--the woman gestures to a door that's appeared on the wall beside them. Clubs places the papers on the desk, lays the pen down beside them, and stands. The void through the door is black, and full of shifting clusters of stars.
"Use your time wisely," the woman tells him from her desk.
"Yep, of course," Clubs replies, turning back to smile at the woman. She smiles back, and Clubs steps through the doorway, into the unknown.
A portal opens up on the beach, dumping a figure into the waves. The figure splashes around for a minute, making his way to shore. When he reaches dry sand, he stands up, uselessly attempting to dust off his soaked pants. Further along the beach, a Waste senses the change with a cry. Grabbing her compatriots, she drags them down the beach to where the disheveled, waterlogged troll is standing. A woman in a ratty looking suit cries out, scrambling towards the troll.
"Clubs," Diamonds gasps unbelievingly. She pauses, staring at the troll momentarily, as if to make sure it's really him, before running at him, grabbing the troll in a desperate, teary hug.
"Hi, Diamonds," Clubs says into her bony, suit-covered shoulder, as he hugs her back. He made the right choice, he thinks.
Far away, the Muse of Space smiles. She does so like happy endings.