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Restless nights

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There are tentacles holding Terezi’s arms behind her back. There are more tentacles wrapped around her legs, forcing them apart, and the angle is wrenching her shoulders back painfully, but that hardly matters beside the tentacle cramming itself into her nook. It’s too big, she’s too full, but the tentacle doesn’t care, it just keeps twisting and pushing and working more of itself inside her.

None of that is the worst. The worst thing is the tentacle in her mouth, stretching her jaw painfully wide as it squirms in her throat, because it’s blinding her. She can’t taste anything but slime. She can barely breathe, and when she manages to drag a frantic breath in through her nose, horrorterror slime is the only thing she can smell. She can’t tell where the next one is going to come from, she doesn’t know what they’re going to do next, and she doesn’t know if there’s anything else waiting to join in. She is completely, horribly helpless.

The tentacle forces another inch of itself into her mouth, and Terezi wakes up gagging.

She clamps a hand over her mouth and swallows hard. Her stomach roils, but her throat is clear now and she can smell things that aren’t eldritch slime. She risks licking her palm for the tang of sweat. Sometimes it helps.

At least there’s no vomit. It wouldn’t be the first time. She won’t be trying to sleep in her own stench until Rose decides she’s allowed to wash her sheets.

Eventually her stomach settles. Terezi takes her hand away from her mouth and breathes in deeply. The world rushes in: Vriska curled up tightly in the bed opposite hers, Jade’s empty bed, Jade wrapped around Nepeta in a tangle of limbs, Feferi twitching restlessly in her sleep, Aradia lying still as the grave. No Kanaya. Kanaya hasn’t been back to the dormitory for over a week now.

Bedding rustles. “Terezi?” Aradia whispers.

“Yes,” Terezi whispers back. She doesn’t want to wake anyone else. None of them get enough sleep as it is.

Aradia’s mattress squeaks. Terezi takes another sniff. Aradia’s sitting up in bed with her blanket folded back over her lap in invitation. Okay, then. 

The dormitory is never cold. They live on a spaceship; every room is kept to the same temperature automatically. Terezi still feels like she should be taking her blanket with her when she climbs out of bed and tiptoes over to Aradia. She catches a whiff of soap as she passes Kanaya’s empty bed. Kanaya has been washing very thoroughly, these last few weeks.

“Sorry,” she whispers, perching on the edge of Aradia’s mattress. “Did I wake you?”

Aradia shakes her head, her hair rustling over her shoulders. “I was already awake.” 

Terezi fumbles for Aradia’s hand and squeezes it. Aradia is reassuringly solid, bones firm under her skin, fingers bending at the joints when she grips Terezi’s hand. Nothing like the boneless flexibility of the tentacles.

"What did she send you?" Aradia asks. It's not quite a rhetorical question. Tentacle dreams are Rose's stock in trade, but she's been known to vary her repertoire.

"The usual," Terezi mutters. She doesn't elaborate further. She doesn't want to dwell on the blindness, on the phantom squirming in her throat. Aradia doesn't press her. "You?"

Aradia doesn't shudder. She rarely does. "She was sewing my mouth shut."

Terezi lets go of Aradia's hand to wrap an arm around her.

“You should go back to bed,” Aradia mutters. “Get some rest."

Terezi shakes her head. “I don’t think she’s going to let us go back to sleep.” Sometimes Rose eases off on the nightmares after they wake up. Sometimes she doesn’t. There’s no obvious pattern, but after what happened yesterday, Terezi doubts they’re in for a respite. Hopefully it’s not more than a couple of hours before they have to get up.

Aradia moves back, leaving room in the bed for Terezi to climb in beside her. The bed is narrow enough to make it a challenge, but Terezi presses up against her back, feeling the bump of an elbow against her side, the heavy curve of a horn against her skull, the movement every time Aradia breathes. It grounds her. 

It’s a long wait until dawn, but at least she isn’t alone.