your name is hal strider and it’s early january when you notice a change in your moirail, equius.
it’s after you introduce him and nepeta to eridan, feferi, and your girlfriend, aradia.
it’s after they adopt equius into their group, with nepeta trailing close behind.
after eridan and feferi break up.
after eridan and aradia become moirails.
after eridan and aradia break up.
even after nepeta and aradia become moirails.
you don’t pay enough attention to the small changes in him during that time. you get caught up in your own head, your own depression, your own issues.
you go on dates with aradia, and equius comes to pick her up. you don’t say anything, you don’t really mind it when you don’t think about it, but you can’t just ignore it, can you?
roxy always goes with you, since you can’t drive on your own yet. after your second date with aradia, you mention it to her, casual. she asked you how aradia was getting home and you responded that equius was taking the bus with her.
roxy’s face immediately sours, but she tries to keep the conversation light. she laughs, short and unconvincing, and says that it’s a long travel. you agree, because it is. you know that it’s out of his way, forty minutes just driving on the freeway, he takes the bus, but you think that maybe he was already downtown. maybe he had some other thing to do and just stopped by because she asked him to.
you decided to ignore the fact that any way you tried to rationalize it didn’t make sense.
school starts back up again and things are good. you and equius spend more time together, both at your houses and at school, and things are good. you get closer, trust him more, care about him more, love him more.
you start noticing little things. sometimes he leaves for class without letting you kiss him goodbye, or he doesn’t kiss you goodbye and doesn’t let you kiss him goodbye, or he does it very quickly and doesn’t even let you get a word in before he’s gone.
it hurts, but you ignore it. you try to convince yourself, excuse his behavior, maybe he’s having a bad morning or day or week. maybe.
sometimes he leaves early from the period you two share and you don’t question it for the first month or two. he says he has to go home early, has to go shopping, has a package being delivered. you believe him and don’t question it, don’t complain, you can survive without him.
you start having issues with aradia and finally break up with her early march. you spend the night at equius’ and he helps you write the text, cuddles you on the floor, listens to the pale music playlist that he made, picks you up and spins you around, feeds you and makes sure you drink water. he takes care of you and you love him so much. more than anything and everything.
you love him with your entire being. you feel closer to him than you think you’ll ever be with anyone. he’s your world, your universe, your stars, your planets, your water, your oxygen. he’s everything you could’ve ever asked for in a best friend, a moirail, and so much more. you love him. you trust him with everything. you’re convinced he’s never going to hurt you, that he’s different from every ‘best friend’ you’ve ever had.
you go to school and you deal. you don’t ever heal from aradia, heal from the place in your heart that you made her leave. you don’t talk to her and she doesn’t talk to you even though she asked to. you’re hurt and you’re sad but you don’t say anything.
you become more affectionate with equius and he does the same to you. you hug after every class and he walks you to your car and you cuddle whenever you can.
your heart stops when someone asks if you’re dating.
gamzee, when he asks, doesn’t mean any harm by it. you know he doesn’t, he’s not that kind of guy, but it still stops you in your tracks. you freeze, because you don’t know what to say, don’t know what he’s going to say, but you both brush it off.
it was raining and numbingly cold that day, but you came close to stabbing your math teacher with a pencil before walking out, so equius came to find you.
you hurt yourself in the bathrooms before going back to class, but he stopped you in the hallway. he sat you down against the wall right outside of the math classroom and you talked. you were both sad and you hurt him and made him worry and you felt guilty. you apologized and he told you not to so you apologized again.
you sit out there for over an hour and no one questions you. people walk past and give you weird looks but no one says anything. then gamzee walks out, and sees you both sitting closely on the ground, and decides to ask.
you can’t stop thinking about it for days.
the first time he forgets the matching necklace he made for you both, you don’t question it. he says he left it on the bathroom counter and jokes that he hopes his brothers don’t fuck with it. you believe him because why would he lie to you? you trust him with more than your everything and he has no reason to.
the second and third and fourth times it happens, you don’t say anything. it’s happened too much for him to keep ‘forgetting’ it in the bathroom in the morning. at this point you’ve incorporated putting your necklace on into your routine. you do it because you care about him and love him and it helps you feel safe.
you know something’s wrong, but you don’t say anything. you hope he comes to you about it, to listen to him, to help him. he doesn’t.
the first time you catch him in a lie is when he leaves school early to go on a date with your ex-girlfriend, aradia.
you’ve had a feeling something was up with them for a while, since january really, you found notes and texts from then, but you don't say anything. you’re not together and he can do what he wants. she can do what she wants to. you have no control over equius no matter how much you may want to, no matter how much you want to protect him from getting closer to eridan and feferi. you tell him about the issues you’ve had with eridan and he doesn’t seem to realize how serious it was, how it still fucks you up.
you try to vent to him about what your feelings are about the situation between you and aradia, but he doesn’t listen to you. he defends her and you feel upset and shut down. he doesn’t seem to care.
he lies to you more and more, lies to your fucking face, and you call him out. you ask him, beg him to tell you the truth, to not hide things from you, and he reluctantly agrees.
he doesn't change anything, though.
he keeps lying to you and you eventually give up. you start to trust him less but you still care about him with more than your entire being. it hurts and it’s hard and you feel like he’s the only one who actually cares about you.
you tell him that and immediately realize you fucked up.
you realize that when he snaps at you on the second of april. you realize that when he tells you that he’s not always going to be there for you, that he feels pressured by you, that you shouldn’t put yourself into situations where you need protecting. he tells you that he feels like if he fucks up once then you’ll kill yourself and it’ll be his fault.
you realize that you fucked up when he starts pulling away from you immediately after.
he tells you he loves you for about two weeks after that. he tells you that you’re the best moirail, that your existence keeps him happy, that he picked a star to associate with you, that he needs you to stay with him. that he wants you to stay forever.
you promise him that you’ll stay forever, that you’ll never leave, that you’ll be there for him even after he wants you gone.
he tells you sometime during the second week that he has a crush on your ex-girlfriend, aradia. he says that she’s had a crush on him since mid-january, and you feel like you’re breaking. you feel like you’re going to throw up. you want to hurt yourself and not exist and not be in the situation that he just forced you into. you don’t but you can’t so you’re stuck.
he starts defending her more, skipping classes with you more often, barely even giving you the time of day. he wears his necklace once during that second week in april and you’re dying inside. you can physically feel him pulling away but you try not to think about it too much, it hurts too much, like staring into the sun after getting your pupils dilated.
he leaves early the friday before spring break to help set up a party. aradia’s birthday was the day before and you realize after he leaves that that’s where he’s going, of course it is, he wouldn’t lie directly to your face otherwise.
he doesn’t respond to you until hours and hours later. you stay up because you want to make sure he’s okay, want to make sure he gets home safely, but an issue comes up and he gets stabbed and you’re panicking, you’re so incredibly not okay because he’s not okay and you can’t be with him and god damn does it suck.
he passes out before midnight, but that’s okay because he needs the sleep and needs to heal.
the next day he texts you that he’s going to a party. he doesn’t say where or who for or how long he’s going to be gone but you tell him okay, have fun, and that you hope he stays safe.
aradia, eridan, feferi, and equius all post about the party’s antics for you to see. they’re all on their phones, you know they are because they’re posting, but equius ignores you and it hurts.
he doesn’t text you for a full twenty four hours before sending you a link to a google doc. he says you might wanna sit down, clear fifteen minutes of your time, to read it when you can. you see it immediately.
so you read.
it starts with him saying that you asked him for the truth, so there was the truth. him and aradia started dating the saturday of the party. he talked with eridan and feferi and aradia about you, about your ‘issues,’ how to deal with you, and they advised him that you guys needed a break. that he needed a break from you. no contact, no talking. he said he’d maybe answer a few questions. maybe. otherwise, he wouldn’t respond.
he said he didn’t know when he’d be back, didn’t know how long it’d last, but that he loved you, that he wanted you to stay safe, that he didn’t want a reason to be worried about you and that he didn’t want his worry to be validated.
you tried asking him questions but he didn’t respond for a week.
you spend that week barely eating, sleeping too much, and not talking to anyone. you stay in your room, you listen to music, and you pretend that you don’t exist.
you’re lonely. you’re so god damn lonely but you can’t bring yourself to talk to people, to hang out with people, you can barely get yourself up to go to the bathroom. roxy says you’re depressed and yeah, you sure as hell are.
the next sunday, seven days after your last conversation, twelve hours before the exact time, he texted you. you saw it and you immediately wanted to throw up.
you were sitting downstairs at midnight with roxy, just talking, catching up with her about her day because you’d fallen asleep before she got home. you had gotten both of you a coca-cola with ice and were sitting with the lights off cuddled on the couch because she’d missed you and worried about you all day.
roxy told you that equius had some fucking nerve to text you. you would’ve agreed but you were more than halfway to a panic attack and holy fuck breathing was a thing.
when you calmed down, you opened the message. it was equius saying that he couldn’t come back, it was the only choice he could manage, he was so sorry. bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.
eventually you and roxy went to your respective rooms to sleep. when you woke up, you worried all day about what would happen at school. equius fucked everything up, you guys had a routine and now everything was scary and confusing but you couldn’t bring yourself to hate him because you still cared about and loved him more than anything you ever had.
you still cared about him and loved him even though he did the one thing you never thought he would, the one thing he said he wouldn’t ever do. you had yourself convinced that he was different from the others, the other ‘best friends’ that you had throughout your life, the ones that fucked you up year after year after year, who caused you to not trust people, to not let people in.
you really thought he wouldn’t leave you the way he did.
spring break ended and school started again. you told your friends what he did and they were... sympathetic. not caring and not supportive in the way you needed them, in the way equius was, but they were there and you couldn’t depend on equius anymore. he didn’t want you, didn’t care about you, so whatever, you guessed. you had roxy, and jake, and terezi, and karkat, and tavros, and kanaya, and nepeta, and porrim, and you were okay.
you don’t ask your friends if they still talk with him. you don’t know if they do, you don’t know if he talks with them, you don’t know anything. equius stays away from you as much as you stay away from him. he doesn’t spend time with any of you during breaks. he doesn’t go to the classes you had together. you’d be grateful, but it makes you feel more out of it and more upset than it would if he was there.
you find out your answers the friday of the first week back at school. your teacher lets your class go out to the park, so you go, and you see your friends, so you go over to them. tavros and terezi wave you over, smiles on their faces, and you don’t think anything’s wrong, you have no reason to.
you walk up to them and when you’re about five feet away you see equius standing there. you immediately turn the fuck around and get away from them, away from him. you don’t know if he saw you, you don’t know if he cares, but your throat is burning and you can’t fucking breathe. you are not putting yourself in that situation, no fucking way.
kanaya yells at karkat, then comes to find you. you told her immediately after equius ended your moirallegiance, so she knows how not okay you are, knows you need to be away from him, but knows you need to not be alone. she talks with you and jokes with you and tries to get you to breathe and it works. jake comes up to you both a few minutes later and he’s awkward but you appreciate him breaking off from the group for you.
kanaya goes back to yell at karkat again, which leaves you and jake to talk. you’re both awkward around each other, not super close, him not good with feelings and you not good with sharing your feelings.
shortly after she leaves, kanaya comes back. she takes you and jake over to her other friend group, over to vriska and damara and latula, and you talk with them until it’s time for the next class.
kanaya walks you to your class, keeps you away from equius and karkat, but you see them walking together, walking behind you, and you feel so fucking unsafe, but you know she won’t let them do anything, won’t let them talk to you. you appreciate her so much and you make sure to tell her that.
before you get to your class, you dip into the bathroom when you see equius is still fucking behind you. you go to the back wall and collapse into yourself, holding your head, trying to get your breathing under control, trying not to cry.
kanaya follows you in and tells you that she’s been through this before, to look at her, see how strong she is, and that you can be just as strong as she is, she believes it. you don’t fully believe her, but it makes you feel better, and you go to class.
she walks in with you, gives you a hug, tells you to text her, then leaves. you put your earbuds in and ignore everything, try to do your work, but mostly just stay in your head. jake encourages you to ‘listen to your emo music’ and it makes you smile.
karkat doesn’t look at you, doesn’t apologize, but you text him to make sure he’s okay because kanaya’s his best friend, his moirail, and you know that he has to be hurt. you also care about him and want him to be okay.
you end up leaving school early because you just can’t deal with it, with anyone. kanaya tells you to stay safe and to text her and you say you will.
when you get home, you sleep.
you don’t dream.