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No Matter Where We Turn, Well There We Are

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It’s 2AM and Terezi is studying for the Bar Exam when her phone rings. She doesn’t pick it up, assumes it’s just some recording trying to sell her something.

But then it rings again, right after it didn’t go through the first time, and she knows there’s only one person who would both be awake and not care about calling her so late at night.

She immediately pauses her screen reading software, closes her laptop, and lays down on the floor, stretching out her arm in the direction of the ringing until she grabs the phone. Maybe she should question why she's so willing to drop everything for whatever trouble Vriska is trying to get her into, but those thoughts are better stored away until daylight hours, when she can better justify the illogical.

Terezi taps the bottom left of her phone’s screen and raises it to her ear.

“Wanna go for a drive?” Vriska’s voice crackles slightly through the speaker, and Terezi can tell she’s already driving.

She thinks about her laptop, shut in the corner of her room. “Sure.”

“Be there in eight,” Vriska says, then ends the call. What she really means is she’ll be there in two, but Terezi has long since learned all of her quirks and Vriska-isms, and they go through a sort of auto-filter in her brain that makes sense from the bullshit.

She pushes herself up from the floor with her free hand and feels around for her cane. She grabs it, then puts her phone in the bag laying next to it before swinging the mini backpack over her shoulders. Gripping her cane, she walks to the door, flicking off the lightswitch on her way out.

Terezi’s apartment is on the first floor, so she thinks she’ll have to wait for Vriska, but when she passes from concrete to asphalt, a voice immediately calls out.

“Hey! Rez! Over here!”

Terezi huffs, but walks towards Vriska’s voice and the sound of a running engine. She traces her hand along the car until she feels the handle of the passenger door and pulls it open.

The smell of old chinese takeout immediately hits her upon sitting down in the worn, nylon seat. “God, you need to get an air freshener or something for this car; it smells like the dumpster behind P. F. Changs.” She says this every time she rides in Vriska’s car; almost daily. Vriska never acknowledges it.

Terezi twists around to put her cane in the back, then buckles her seatbelt. The car begins to move and the song coming through the radio, some cheesy pop punk hit from the 2000s, gets louder. She doesn’t ask where they’re going.

“How’s studying?” Vriska shouts over the music.

“It kind of sucks, but it’ll be worth it when I kill the exam.” The car stops, then keeps going. “How’s work?”

“Shitty as usual. My boss is an idiot, but whatever. The day they fire me is the day I finally get freedom and severance. I don’t know what I’m even still doing there.”

They both know what she’s doing: earning barely enough money to get by living away from her mom.

“You know…” Terezi trails off, her unspoken words sucked into the whining voice of the radio.

“Know what? Spit it out.”

“You could always live with me, if you needed to.”

The music goes silent. “I don’t need handouts, or your pity.”

Terezi shouldn’t have said anything. She knows she shouldn’t have brought it up. Fatigue clouds her mind too much to properly argue with Vriska, but she also knows offering was the right thing to do. Vriska is ambitious, and smart when she wants to be, but she's also trapped in a job that's slowly but surely sucking the life out of her.

“Jesus Christ it’s not that, Vriska; I’m just being a friend. You act like being nice is the same as looking down on someone.” Terezi rubs at her face. How did she end up here?

“Thanks, but I can manage just fine all on my own without your friendship.” The last word has bite to it, like Vriska is spitting it out.

Terezi snorts. “Yeah, sure. That’s why you called me up at 2AM to take a drive to nowhere, right?”

“Shut the fuck up.”

Another hollow argument won. It’s not difficult to beat Vriska in a logical fight, but it’s never satisfying in the way debates with others are. They always end with Terezi feeling worse than if she had lost.

They drive in silence for a while, then Vriska begins humming the song that was playing earlier. After a minute or two, she stops.

“Sorry,” she says, quietly.

“It’s okay,” Terezi answers. Because it is.

“Give me some time to think about it, alright? The moving in thing, I mean.”

“Yeah, of course.”

Vriska pulls over to the side of the road, then takes Terezi’s hand. They hold onto each other, somewhere in nowhere.

“Why do you like me?” Vriska asks, her voice a whisper. Terezi has only heard her sound like this a few times before, when they would lay together inside blanket forts as kids, removed completely from the real world.

She thinks about the question, deeply and sincerely. She think about laughter, fighting, teasing, holding, saving. About the memories weighing down strings of time.

“Because I know you,” Terezi says, and it’s true. She loves Vriska because she understands her completely, like a puzzle taken apart and put back together so many times the steps are muscle memory. It’s comforting, to truly know a person, especially one who so many are confounded by.

People will ask Terezi occasionally why Vriska is like that, and she’ll just shrug or have a clever quip, but she always knows the answer, even if it’s too complicated to ever explain. She never wants to answer, anyways. The key to Vriska’s mystery is hers, and it’s precious.

“Oh,” Vriska says. Terezi lays her head down on Vriska’s shoulder.

They never end up driving anywhere except back home.