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Buried Hatchet

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He was never supposed to be his kismesis.

The original plan had been simple. And that’s what made it brilliant. The type of brilliance only someone of his blood could achieve. Of course it did require looking a few unpleasant truths in the eye. But he had already been aware of those. It was just the looking that he tried to stay away from.

Eridan Ampora was desperate. To the point where even when he tried to ignore it and work some super smooth romantic maneuver, it was still painfully obvious to the receiving party. Which had come to include practically all of his acquaintances.

But how was he supposed to avoid it, really? One minute he had been sitting on two filled quadrants. Not only two filled quadrants, but two that were located tangentially. It meant he had a taste from all four aspects of troll romance all at once. Something black. Something red. Something concupiscent. Something conciliatory. He was a prodigy. His romantic conquests stood as a beacon of hope for all those clawing at the rocks of defeat below him, dreaming of someday being able to reach his precipice of perfection. Which they never would. Because Eridan had been on top of the romantic world, and no one could ever surpass him.

And then something happened. He really was never quite certain about what initiated the following chain of events, but he quite suddenly found himself out of both a kismesis and a moirail. Not to mention a moirail for whom he had long since acquired feelings of a decidedly flushed nature.

It had left him a mess, to say the least. Especially now, when he was forced to sit around in the lab and watch them both systematically ignore him. And he swore it was a system. As if they had developed some sort of alliance in making his life miserable. First he would be forced to endure Vris strolling past him toward somebody else, even if that somebody else was doing something hideously boring. Then, in quick succession, as if she had passed some kind of invisible baton, Fef would flounce past, arm in arm with the mustard-blooded dirt scraper whose name was not even worth the effort it took his mind to think the syllables. And then it would begin again. An endless relay race where the prize at the end was his heart—torn up, broken, and stomped on.

And so he had developed a plan. A brilliant plan. A plan in which he would do the same. Ignore both of them and shift his sights elsewhere. Not really to form romantic ties with anyone else. Though he guessed Kar or Nep wouldn’t be so bad.

But no. No, his ultimate goal was to make them realize what they were missing when he wasn’t around. They probably had just forgotten how good they’d had it with him. Like a classic case of “the lawnring is always wider around the other hive.” But if he had no metaphorical lawnring, how could they look back from their new, shittier lawnrings and see that their lawnrings were actually just that? New and shitty. They couldn’t. So he had to get a lawnring fast. By which he meant, of course, a quadrant.

The task had proven to be more difficult than he had ever expected. Kar had been the first he had actually advanced on. It was stupid, looking back on it. Eridan had just been in a really bad place at the time, and Kar had been giving him the best advice a land dweller could manage without being as ornery about it as Eridan had expected. So Eridan had let his guard down and offered Kar the opportunity to share a pale quadrant with him.

The bad-tempered wretch had back-pedaled from the offer with such furious haste that it had left Eridan stinging and sour for a long time afterward. Of course Eridan knew that such an arrangement would have been beneath him anyway, but he thought he’d been doing Kar a favor. The guy spent so much time ranting to himself on his idiotic memos that Eridan figured he’d be dying for a competent moirail. And Eridan was more than competent enough. His moirail lawnring was so big and well kept, with an enchanting view of the sea. Fef was the stupidest mother glubbing princess he’d ever had the displeasure of meeting for not being able to see it.

But no, that wasn’t the point. It wasn’t as if he wanted to share his meticulously groomed moirail lawnring with her anyway. He had played that card before, and it had ended badly for both of them. No, the plan was to reserve a more flushed and serious quadrant with her. So in the end it did not, in fact, matter at all that Kar had no interest in sharing moirallegiance. Because Fef had been there, and that was not what he wanted to try and lure her back with.

No. If he wanted any chance of getting his two personal champions of baton-passing misery back in their proper concupiscent quadrants with him, he was going to have to first make an attempt to fill one of those quadrants.

Unfortunately, the bile-spewing nook sniffer was his only truly viable candidate. A calignous pairing with him meant pulling Fef from her pathetic excuse for a flushed quadrant if she tried to interfere at all.

Sol was ridiculously easy to goad. So easy that it really was not worth the trouble Eridan put into it. Eridan was used to much more delicate kismesissitudes. Ones that could be equated to calignous waltzes in which both parties performed a series of synchronized movements of hatred, all while managing to avoid stepping on the other’s toes. Eridan was the waltz champion, of course, and so having to use his skills on someone as flat-footed as the honey-sucking psionic douchebag was just insulting.

He still remembered their first real encounter. In which Eridan started the music and began the dance.

Sol had been at his computer. It had been an opportune moment to strike, since Fef was outside of interfering distance, but inside of witnessing distance. Sitting on Gam’s stupid pile of horns or something. Not like he cared, he was just gauging her position.

He hoisted his weapon over his shoulder. Ahab’s Crosshairs. A weapon the others had come to fear after they’d seen how masterfully he had handled it against the king. It had been way better than any sort of magical garbage anyway. As if he even wanted something like that. No, his rifle was simply the best there was. And so he made sure it was quite visible to Sol as he approached.

Which was kind of pointless, looking back on it. Sol had been glued to his monitor the whole time, and so Eridan’s regal and threatening strides had likely gone unnoticed. Such a waste of good material.

He had stopped beside Sol’s computer, his chest thrown out and his chin tipped up. Perfect. He inhaled deeply through his nostrils with disdain. A subtle gesture. He held his pose--and his breath--for a few moments, waiting for Sol to turn and acknowledge his subtle advance. The inconsiderate asshole did no such thing. He just continued to scroll through one of Kar’s memos instead, one hand resting on his cheek as he leaned over his keyboard.

Eridan’s pose faltered, and he glanced sideways to see if anyone else in the lab had noticed his threatening gesture. Nobody had. And that just stuck in his craw and burned. So he grabbed Sol’s chair and swung the troll around.

Sol had nearly tipped out of his seat. Grabbing his armrests, he tilted his head up, his bi-colored glasses flashing as he did.

“What the fuck are you doing?” he’d snapped. Eridan had to hold back an eye roll. The picture of calignous grace, this one.

“I’m sittin’ here, waitin’ for you to pull your head outta your nook so you can see the business end of my rifle before it blasts it right back in again,” Eridan replied, pulling his gun from his shoulder and swinging it down so that the barrel rested between Sol’s eyes.

Sol brushed the offending weapon away as if Eridan had done nothing more than prod a pompon at him. “Oh yeah? Well here’th a better idea. How about I keep my head up my nook, and you can shove that piethe of shit up yourth.”

Eridan exhaled derisively through his nostrils, pushing the barrel of his rifle back in Sol’s face. “What’s that? Where am I supposed to shove my gun? Maybe if you didn’t try to fellate every fuckin’ word you put outta your protein chute I could understand, but seein’ as I can’t, I guess I’ll just aim this wherever I damn well please.”

Sol leaned back and held up his hands. But though his gesture seemed designed to quell, his tone was frothing with disdainful irritation. “All right, let’th back up a thecond. Theriouthly, jutht one thecond. To where I wath thitting here and reading KK’s hourly therving of bullshit. At what point did that ever tranthmogrify into thome thort of inthult to you that warranted having a gun shoved down my meal tunnel?”

Eridan still, even now, could not believe how thick Sol was. As if his mutated thinkpan had actually stunted both halves of his mind sponge. Could he not grasp the situation? Did he simply have no idea that he had almost single-handedly uprooted Fef from her moiralliegance? Eridan had every reason in the world to want to kick his ass, even platonically.

But of course that was never something he could say out loud. Not with Fef sitting only a few paces away. That would just be pathetic. He cast her a sidelong glance even as Sol continued to stare at him.

She was looking at him. Eridan snapped his gaze away from her as if her image had sent an electric bolt through his retinas. He stiffened then, his heart rising into his throat and beating the back of his tongue. He had to focus now. This was his chance.

“Maybe I just don’t like how you fuckin’ sit there jabbin’ on your computer all day, have you ever thought of that? Maybe I just hate you and your bifurcated spine bulge for a reason I don’t have.”

It was terrible. Awful. He wanted to revoke it as soon as he said it. It was as if he had laid a delicate latticework of black advances for Sol to prance about on, right before stomping it to splinters before the bastard even had a chance to look at it.

Sol stared at Eridan for a moment before he jerked back a bit, as if the realization had hit him over the head. “Holy shit, are you…? No way. No. Thith can’t be happening. I’m jutht going to ignore thith, and ignore you, and you’re going to go thit back over there on your ath and pretend that you never took your thtupid black tholithitationth anywhere near my perthon. Or even within ten mileth of my perthon.”

He pointed back to a remote corner of the lab. Eridan gripped his rifle indignantly, and also so that the heat gathering behind his eyes would stay there. He was supposed to be the master of the calignous waltz. The champion. How could he have given himself away like that?

It was all so upsetting that he actually fired on Sol. Except, in his distress, the blast went wide, and ended up blowing a hole in the wall next to Kar’s head. After enduring an especially colorful tirade in which their fearless leader told them to take their stupid asses to the lower levels if they wanted to engage in destructive flirting because he had just about had it with listening to their bullshit on top of all the other bullshit he had to deal with from everyone else, Eridan retreated.

But he hadn’t given up.

Looking back on it, it really hadn’t been the masterful show Eridan had thought it had been. In fact it was more accurate to describe it as the beached porpoise trying to tap dance its way into the night club across the street.

Still, it had done something. Sparked something. Started a chain reaction that had flared violently enough to put Eridan in the position he was in now. Pressed against the cold metal floor. His nose clogged with blood. And Sol’s hand down his pants.

Normally Eridan would avoid so much detailed reminiscence in such a situation. But Sol was never supposed to be his kismesis. And somehow, impossibly, it seemed on the brink of becoming truth.