Actions

Work Header

Fruity Rumpus Asshole Factory

Chapter Text

Your name is Karkat Vantas, and you are terrified.

You had to leave the computer block in order to be harder to track.

It's scary, here in the dark. You wish that everyone would have just stayed the fuck put, but gog forbid they listen to you. You're only their LEADER, why should they bother?

Now, you're doing the stupid thing.

You are currently traipsing through the halls of the the meteor willy-nilly, following the colourful trails of blood that, under normal circumstances, you would have run away from.

You really wish you didn't have to be here. You wish that you could be somewhere, anywhere but here. Hell, you wouldn't even mind being in your old Sgrub planet (you know? The one covered with oceans of your own mutant blood? Yeah, that one) right now -- anywhere but here would be better at this point.

However, there is also a murderous clown on a rampage, on top of the panic attack you're currently having, and if there's anyone who should confront him, it might as well be you.

It's not like you have much to live for, anyway.

You can hear the pattering of your own footsteps echo as you make your way towards certain death. You know that he's watching you -- he always is.

If it weren't for all of the stupid horns he carries, or the fact that he pretty much always smells like Faygo, you probably wouldn't even know he was there. You think you saw him in the vents once, but for all you know, it could have been Terezi.

Why the fuck does everyone around here have to be shithive maggots?

Space madness.

That's it, it's space madness, isn't it?

Just your luck.

The cold, white (grey) walls stretch far upwards, looking endlessly taller than you. The ceiling is too high, shrouded in shadows. It feels like you're trapped, stuck in one block that is both too big and too small -- as if you are being sealed in your own coffin, your own crypt, your final resting place.

You watch as the trail of indigo blood you had been following fades as you reach a fork in the path, and a new trail of purple blood begins to the left. You follow it.

This path is littered with pie tins, sopor slime, and little... yellow... thi- wait a second... Are those- are those what you think they are?

Upon further inspection, you realize that, yes, they are indeed chipped pieces of your friends' horns. You stare at them in horror, freaking the fuck out because what did he do to your friends to make this happen? You start to think about what Gamzee is capable of -- and what he could do to you if you were to (hypothetically) confront him.

Sometimes, you think you really are in a doomed timeline. All of the signs point to that, like the fact that one of you is insane, half of you are dead, and the rest of you are scattered, hiding away from the first. How could you have let this happen? Where did you go wrong?

You know that you probably aren't going to make it out of here alive, but the thought was nice while it lasted.

You turn your back on the bits of horns and press on.

You suddenly hear a honk, coming from directly behind you.

You spin on your heel, frantically looking around and whipping out your sickles, but you see nothing, apart from the path you are walking on. You really are just too paranoid sometimes.

You turn back around, only to see a sight you had been dreading.

The exact person you had been looking for, and also avoiding, is standing right in front of you.

Gamzee has always had a certain air about him, a certain way he carries himself. Before he sobered up, you never really payed attention to it. Now, you can almost feel it when he's nearby. It's almost as if malevolence radiates off of his tall, lanky frame in waves, pulsating through the air and filling you where you stand with fear.

You freeze, afraid to make a move. Gamzee has also always been unpredictable, and insanity definitely doesn't change that.

He gives you a devilish grin, before disappearing completely. You look around, and notice something on the wall to your left. It seems he has written something in his place.

The message reads: "DON'T turn AROUND".

You decide to do the stupid thing, once again. You turn anyway, despite the warning on the wall.

You see a flash of... something, and then he's gone. Gamzee did, however, leave footprints on the ground, quite obviously and purposefully leading you into his trap. You follow them like the fool you are, desperate to end this.

You track the footprints.

They lead you down various corridors, twisting this way and that, until you are completely lost. You literally have no idea where you are, or how a meteor could possibly be this big. Nevertheless, you push back the fear and anxiety, and let the prints lead the way.

Eventually, you come to a steel double-door, half of it closed, the other side slightly ajar.

There are smears of many different colours of the door, almost as if they were meticulously painted there. You try not to think too hard about what the smudges might be. You slowly, carefully push the door open, the metal weighing heavily against your arms and the hinges creaking eerily, almost as if you were in a horror movie.

As you open the doors, your senses are brutally assaulted by the sight before you.

There is blood everywhere. There is not a single surface in this room that is not covered in at least two different shades of the stuff. He has painted with it, the colours lining the endless walls and covering the various machines littered across the floor. On some walls, there are paintings depicting violent imagery and other juggalo-looking things.

There are many giant tanks in this room, due to the whole meteor being a laboratory during the game. Shards of glass and broken bones cover the floor of the block like a carpet, sickening crunches emitting from their general area with every step you take.

You know for a fact that all of the remaining creatures who once resided in the tanks have flocked to the deepest, darkest crevices of the giant asteroid.

The smell of this block in particular is absolutely revolting. It is a mixture of rotting corpses, dead flesh, burnt hair, dried blood, and Faygo. You wince as you encroach the centre of the vast block, the smell emitting from it far more potent and harsh than before.

You hear a sound from behind you, and you look over your shoulder.

The door you had entered from -- the one that you were absolutely sure was wide open -- slams shut with a rusty clang that seems ear-shattering compared to the somber silence.

Suddenly, Gamzee is standing before you, a wide grin of his face.

You feel defenceless, even with your sickles in hand, as you stare into his red, rage-filled gaze. How could you have let this happen to him?

Strangely, ironically, you really miss the old Gamzee right now -- the one who always spouted random nonsense about miracles and messiahs, the one who was always high as a kite and couldn't tell left from right and up from down, and the one who didn't currently want to cull you and mount your head on a stake over his fireplace.

He holds his juggling pins in his hands, ready to strike. You know you're dead meat at this moment. There is really no way that you're getting out of this. You had a good run, you aren't going to deny it -- the supposedly superior empire of Her Imperious Condescension had been stupid enough to not cull you on the spot, after all.

As you stare at your friend-turned-foe, a thought occurs to you. It is utterly crazy, and will most likely get you culled for sure, but really, what do you have to lose? It is so fucking crazy, it might actually work!

Gamzee begins to twirl his juggling pins through his fingers, swaying back and forth slightly as a warning sign of his imminent attack. Just as he steps forward, you toss your sickles behind you and rush forward at lightning speed.

Your arms hook around his middle, your body pressing into his as the force of your running makes you nearly slam into him. Gamzee's posture goes ramrod straight for probably the first time in his life. You can tell that he is shocked by your sudden actions, but he doesn't move, not an inch.

The two of you stay like this for a while, stock-still as the dank darkness envelopes you and Gamzee's arms do the same.

After a few moments, you hear a sort of sniffle, just softly, coming from the taller troll. You look up from where your head is buried in his shirt. The violent red sclera of his eyes has faded to a less alarming orange, and is replaced with translucent purple tears streaming from them.

You really have no idea what you're doing -- there wasn't exactly a class you were supposed to take as a grub to learn how to quell the fury of a highblood -- but what you do seems to be enough for him. You let your friend cry. You hug him and he nuzzles into your hair as you do so, muffled sobs and quiet hiccups the only noises in the entire block.

Gamzee tells you how he's been scared, how he's been afraid of the voices in his head. They tell him to do despicable things, and, as much as he tries to shut them out, they are very hard to ignore. On more than a few occasions, they have completely taken over his thoughts, and as a result, set in motion all of the destruction and mayhem before you.

He really is a mess. He knows what he's done is bad, though, and he feels terrible for it. He tells you about when he feels the worst. After they tell him to kill, he sometimes blacks out. By the time his conscious thoughts return, he is normally already standing over top of another body, his hands drenched in their blood.

He wishes that the voices wouldn't torment him, that they would leave him be. He tells you of how he misses Alternia, and his Goatdad, and his drawings. He misses how everything used to

be. He misses you -- telling him off and typing profane insults at him.

He doesn't need to tell you, you know exactly how it feels. You missed him too.

He says that, when he comes out of his trance, he normally runs back here, where no one will chance upon him and everyone will be safe. He tries to stop, tries to block out the voices in his head, but every second they come back, stronger, telling him to kill again.

He didn't think that the voices were bad when he first started listening to them. He just thought that they were another thing about him that that was different than the others. He never thought that their innocent suggestions and friendly input could turn into violent threats and hostile demands.

He started ignoring them, after that, and for a while it seemed like it would be easy. But then, they got stronger, louder, more forceful. He quickly found himself listening to them again. They made him say things, draw things, that he didn't want to. They made him hurt things and break stuff, made him violent.

It got to a point where he didn't even question it anymore, and just did what he was told. That didn't end well. He eventually couldn't believe it was half this hard to control them. He didn't know that his mind was so dark.

Gamzee breaks down crying again, and you hold him, letting him trust you to help, not to judge.

"Shoosh, it's going to be alright now, okay? You don't have to hurt anyone else. They can't make you do what they want you to anymore. As long as I'm here, they can't force you to do anything, alright?", you console him.

You've always hated your voice, so quiet and mousy, never properly able to convey how you feel and always betraying you when you need it the most. You prefer to communicate through text, because you can say whatever the hell you want, and it sounds exactly like what you want to say. You have a feeling that what you said didn't really help him, anyway.

To your surprise, Gamzee nods, sniffling and wiping his nose. You are both sitting on the floor, side by side, with him leaning his head against your shoulder. You don't really remember how you got here in the first place.

You yawn, scooting your small figure into Gamzee's lap and burying your face in his neck. All of the many horrors of the day have taken their toll on you. Almost immediately afterwards, Gamzee yawns as well, and the two of you decide to retire for the night.

You both curl up together on the frigid, metal ground, his arms around you, and though it smells awful and there's blood everywhere and you really wish you could wash your clothes right now, you fall into the deepest and most sound sleep of your life with the person you've come to trust the most.

Chapter Text

You’re a mess.

A mutant, candy-blooded mess.

And you know what the sad thing is? It took you nearly seven fucking sweeps to realize it.

You were always too caught up trying to take care of everyone else that you never had the time to look at yourself and see what a huge fucking mess you had made of your whole fucked up existence. You really thought you had what it took to lead them all to victory. You were just so

tangled with your confidence.

And what’s worse is that

you think you haven’t sinned

even though you know that’s the biggest lie in the entire fucking multiverse.

You’ve sinned more than anyone else. You fucking know it. You gave a universe cancer. You stood by as you watched your friends kill each other. You were frozen with fear in the face of your best fucking friend. You cried tears of candy red when he said he was going to kill you. You screamed and ran for your life. It wasn’t until he had you cornered with the last of your group that you made a stand.

You stood in front of your friends, shaking not out of fear or rage, but something else. Something that felt like pity. As you looked into his eyes, red and purple and wide with rage, you realized that you pitied this broken shell of a troll more than anyone else in all the infinities of the multiverse. You loved him.

You felt a sense of calm washing over you. Even as he moved towards you, clubs clutched in his hands, coated in blood. You felt no fear.

You’re unstoppable.

You realized this with a sharp pang in your chest. You weren’t afraid of him. His chucklevoodoos wouldn’t work on you.

Your walls are impassible.

And so you stepped up to meet him. Opening your arms to accept whatever he had to give you. You would take all him rage and anger, soak it right out of him, until he was himself again. You would let him beat it into you if you had to. He could kill you and you wouldn’t give a single fuck.

It was nothing short of what you deserved anyways.

 

You didn’t expect things to happen like this.

You didn’t expect him to just throw himself at you, screaming at the top of his lungs. You didn’t expect to feel your arms winding around him, squeezing for all you were worth. You didn’t expect the soft hushing noise to bubble up in your chest and break free of your lips. You didn’t expect to pap the rage right the fuck out of him in a display that was so unbearably pale it made your bloodpusher hurt.

You’re better off looking alone.

You always fuck things up. You fell ass-backwards into moirallegiance with someone you were flushed for, and you didn’t even have the courage to tell him. You should have just killed him; quieted the screams in his thinkpan permanently, instead of entering into this lie of a pale romance. But you don’t even have the courage to give him that. The very thought of it makes your pusher twist in a way that sends a jolt of pain up your spine and aches for days after.

It was fine for a while. You had him, and you kept him calm and chill, and you just kept telling yourself that was all you needed; was all he needed. It was fine.

 

Until, of course, it wasn’t.

The boys that chase your hips can just go find their way home.

He got bored; tired of your relationship. No matter how much you pitied him; no matter how much you loved him, he would never feel the same way.

And so you had to just let him walk away.

You were forced to stand back and watch as he retreated into his madness. You should have killed him then. But you still couldn’t find the strength in you to do it.

And at the end of the day, you think to yourself, “My body is a product being sold on a shelf”.

 

Tell me I can change.

You can’t go on this way. You’re screaming yourself hoarse inside your head; your heart hurts so bad. You just want it to stop.

Tell me I can change.

Something has to give. Either you break or this fever does. You were insomniac before, but now you barely close your eyes for the fear of the pain. You see his face the second you close your eyes, as if the image of him has been seared onto the backs of your eyelids. And, oh, it hurts, it hurts.

And when the pain gets to be too much, like you can’t breathe; can’t take a step further, you’ve just gotta stop.

 

Well, I know you’re laying back,

contemplating your own death.

Well, just look at what you’ve done.

Don’t you dare forget the sun, love!

 

You’ve forgotten what it feels like to have the sun shining on your skin, to have that warmth seep through and warm your bones. So cold; you’re always so cold. You almost feel like you’re already dead some days; your skin is like ice and pale as death. You were always pale skinned, but not like this. Never like this. Your skin has lost all color and is now like a layer of frost that formed over your body on a bitterly cold night.

The only thing that reminds you you’re still alive is this dreadful pain in your bloodpusher. If you were dead, the pain would go away, wouldn’t it?

You’re too afraid to find out though; too afraid because what if the pain isn’t gone? What if it just gets worse when you die? Gog, you’re a fucking coward. So afraid of all the ‘what ifs’; too scared to end your miserable existence.

 

Cold white walls keep you from your pad and pen.

You hate the color white. You hate it like you hate yourself, with a fire that burns so cold at your core. You hate the color white almost as much as you hate the color red. You’ve just seen too much white these days.

The walls of the lab on the meteor are white; always that same plain white that makes you feel like you’re in an asylum.

It makes you so angry

you just wanna stab again.

You want to take your sickles and sink them into whatever flesh they can bite, be it your own skin or your friends’. You want to scream out your rage at your own pathetic self and smash your body against the wall until it breaks.

It hurts, Gog, it hurts.

You want to end it all; to end your pathetic, sorry excuse of a life, but you can’t. And the fact that you can’t makes you want to scream and tear at your hair because you

can’t believe it’s half this hard.

It shouldn’t be this hard; not when your body is collapsing in around you and you struggle just to breathe. It should be easy to just give in and stop the shudders wracking through your body as it gasps for air. But it’s not.

It’s so fucking hard, because your body won’t cooperate and those candy red abominations on your chest flare and suck in the air greedily, with no respect for your desire to just fucking die.

You wish you could just cut them off. Grasp the handle of your sickle in one hand and one of those thin, sensitive flaps in the other and just

cut.

Them.

Off.

It could never be as painful as the ache in your heart.

 

You never knew your mind was dark.

That was when you realized you were losing your mind; going completely, irrevocably insane.

And the only one who could fix you...

The only one in the multiverse who could heal all the cracks in your soul...

Well...

He just doesn’t give a fucking damn about you anymore.

 

You’re better off looking alone.

You don’t deserve him anyways. Not with your disgusting mutant blood.

You don’t deserve his pity.

You don’t deserve his hate.

You don’t deserve his love.

You don’t deserve anything. You don’t deserve anyone.

The boys that chase your hips can just go find

their

way

home.

 

You dig so deep for scars.

There are so many scars on your body you could never count them all. But you can name the exact reason for each of them.

There are four long claw marks over your heart from when you tried to claw your bloodpusher out and smash it to a pulp on your desk.

There are two identical scars on either side of your neck—starting at the nape somewhere and ending just above your collarbone—from when hetried to choke you during one of his fits of rage, but couldn’t quite bring himself to do it, and ended up just clawing helplessly at your throat.

There’s a smaller scar just above your right hip from when Jack stab-greeted you—back during happier times, before this disease called ‘love’ twisted its way into your pan.

You never knew your mind was dark.

 

Come on and breathe with me. Oh!

Breathe with me, oh!

You can’t breathe. You’re sucking in great gulps of air like you’re drowning and you still can’t fucking breathe.

It hurts. Oh, it hurts!

 

Well, I know you’re laying back,

Contemplating your own death.

Well, just look at what

you’ve

done.

Don’t you dare forget the sun, love!

Don’t

for-

-get...

 

You won’t forget the sun. After everything that’s happened; everything that’s gone wrong, you cannot lose the sun. You can’t lose the light.

It’s so fucking dark here on the meteor. So very dark and cold.

You can’t remember what the sun feels like on your skin, but you will never forget the way its rays burn the eyes and sear a path straight through your thinkpan. You will never forget how its heat burns hotter than the lava in your veins, so you know it would burn even your skin.

 

You look down on me, so casually, in everything. I know.

You don’t know why he’s here, just that he is; his bright purple eyes staring down at you from beneath raven locks. His face is painted again, all sharp and clear like it used to be, before his spiral down into insanity.

He’s wearing a godtier hood, but you don’t know how or when he ascended. He’s all dark purple and black shadow—beautiful—floating on the edge of your field of vision.

You don’t look up to greet him. You shouldn’t care that he’s here; shouldn’t fucking care that he’s before you again; should never have acknowledged the ache in your chest at the sight of him.

You look down on me, but not right on me.

You don’t think he’s even looking at you until he says your name; softly, like the very sound of it will send you running.

You still don’t turn to him. You don’t want to look at him; seeing him in the corner of your eye is enough to shatter your pusher like glass and send the shards piercing through your other organs. How bad will it hurt if you look at him head on?

It’s not until he grabs you by the shoulders, shakes you, pushes your back against the wall, and growls,

“Did I wreck this broken home?”

in your ear that you finally look at him.

You’re forced to look at him. He’s up in your face, taking up your entire field of vision so you can’t look anywhere but at him.

Oh. Oh. It hurts. Oh, it hurts.

There’s no pity in his eyes. Just anger and rage and a pain so deep you think it runs right through him.

You’re dizzy with pity; your pusher aches to wrap him up in your arms and piece him back together. Aches to make him better. Screams at you tostop being a fuckass and FIX HIM!

But you can’t. You’re not allowed to fix him. You’ll never be good enough to fix him.

And that’s all your pusher can take.

You thought it was shattering before, but that’s nothing compared to the pain you feel now. It’s breaking; your fucking heart is breaking, shattering, crumbling. You slump to the ground at his feet and wrap your arms around yourself, as if it will somehow stop you from falling apart.

 

Dear diary, life is trying me.

Can I get a sign?

Or a two of mine?

A piece of mind.

Oh, can I get a sign?

Can I get a sign?

 

Your fucking mutant blood is boiling in your veins again, like the sight of him was all it needed to break out of its icy cage and return to a state of liquid fire.

The heat should be a welcome change from the freezing cold your body was previously encased in, but it’s not. It’s painful, hot, and all the pain you were feeling before slams into you tenfold. Before, you were numb from the cold. You thought it fucking hurt before, but now, with your senses warming and returning, it hurts even more.

You are screaming and crying and it hurts so fucking much.

...And he is just standing there, looking down on you.

 

“Lo scivita at tú látentes pionur,

hugleióanda aleon damórtem.

Líta ád caed tú quert.

Ekki osaudet obleyma sólne, ást.”

 

You have no idea what the fuck he’s saying. You only know that he’s speaking in a language all his own and it will never make an ounce of fucking sense to you.

He could be speaking gentle words at you; telling you that he cares, he’s here, he’s not going to leave you again.

Or he could be saying cruel things; telling you how he’s going to motherfucking kill you.

You’re not stupid enough to think it’s the first one, so you flinch back from him instinctively when he reaches for you.

Instead of choking, clawing, killing you, his hand just settles on your shoulder.

“Sávis lo,” he says, and his voice sounds broken. “Ledo sávis lo, isfecair.”

You look down on me, so casually, in everything. I know.

Your mutant red eyes meet his deep purple ones.

 

You look down on me, but not right on me.

“Líta ád lo,” he says, shaking you gently.

And you realize that it was never he who was not quite looking at you. It was always the other way around; it was always you who was not quite seeing him.

As your eyes focus on him, blinking past the haze you never realized was there, he sighs; almost in relief.

“Vilcár nióur, isfecair,” he says with a soft smile.

 

Is it plain to see

You can breathe again. The pain in your chest is lifting away.

that

“Lo lialoch tú, isfecair.”

He presses his forehead against yours.

“So pale for you,” he murmers.

life

Your heart aches again, because those aren’t the words you wanted to hear, but you’ll take them anyways.

Because he’s back; he’s holding you in his arms and he pities you.

is

You lost your mind.

trying

You thought he was gone.

me.

“Sorry I left,” he whispers. “I didn’t wanna all up an’ motherfucking leave you, but I didn’t have a motherfucking choice.”

 

Life is trying me.

 

“It’s okay,” you reply, even though it’s not okay.

You’re lying through your teeth and he knows it and you know he knows it but you can’t speak the words you want to say. You can’t ruin this fragile love between you.

You’ll take what you can get; you’ll give him your entire heart, but won’t ask for his in return. Because if he gives you his heart, you know you’ll break it. Your mind is too broken and tired to try and protect another heart. You’re too tired.

Your legs go weak; your whole body goes slack with exhaustion. You don’t know how long you’ve been awake for, but it’s been a really fucking long time. You think the last time you slept was the last time you saw him; watched him walk away from you.

You don’t have the strength to hold yourself up anymore, so you let yourself fall.

You expect to crumple on the floor, but he surprises you yet again. He catches you and scoops you up into his strong arms.

“I got you, brother,” he says. “You can rest easy now.”

And you do.

As you drift away, the last thing you hear is,

“At tú lon sólne, Karkat.”

Chapter Text

Your name is Cronus Ampora, and you have officially moved in with the love of your life.

It took a really long time to fill out all the paperwork, and it took an even longer time -- a little over ten years, to be exact -- for the two of you to get to this stage in your relationship, but right now you couldn't be happier.

Money wasn't really an issue when purchasing the house, because you're loaded. Well, your dad is. Whatever, at least he knows you're happy.

You are currently sitting in the drivers' seat of your car, your husband of six months dozing next to you on the passengers' side. The new house is only about two hours away from your old place, but Kankri tends to fall asleep in the car if the trip lasts for longer than thirty minutes.

You decide to cut him some slack regardless, in part since he was too excited to get any rest last night, but mostly because he is completely adorable when he sleeps.

This is a big adventure for the both of you. Before Kankri, your relationships consisted of one-night-stands, and friends with benefits (not really -- most if the time it was just crushes -- but you liked to pretend). Before you, Kankri... well, he wasn't really in any relationships, but was pretty much the same, minus a hot, sexy (goofy) husband.

You, on the other hand, have changed so much since the beginning of your relationship.

You used to be a complete jerk, a real sleaze, with no respect for your partners, or their boundaries. Now, you are basically the exact opposite. You hope. Kanny says you've changed, at least.

When you and Kankri had started dating, you realized that he was different (cliché, you know). He wasn't like everyone else you had been with. He always wanted to take things slow, and if you pushed too far, he would get really upset. Most of your partners just wanted to get in your pants (not that you minded, because that was your goal too).

You began to get very attached to Kankri, very quickly.

Then, you did something really stupid, and he broke up with you. Sure, he could handle your off-putting language and (as he would put it) "triggering" values, but that time you had taken it too far. He had gotten fed up with you.

Basically, this is what happened: Kankri was lecturing you about something, and you weren't paying attention. You hardly ever had, back then, and you're pretty sure he knew that. For some reason, you thought that a good way to get him to stop talking would be to shove your tongue down his throat and put your hands in places they probably shouldn't have been (which later would turn out to be some real nice places, once he trusted you more, of course).

Naturally, he was more than shocked by this, as he didn't allow the two of you to kiss, and he had problems with others touching him. He freaked out, trying to pull away from you and telling you that he was uncomfortable with your actions, but of course you were a big idiot and didn't stop. He managed to break free, and he told you to get out, and to never come back.

You didn't really care, at the time, because you were pretty sure that he would come crawling on his knees, begging you to take him back. Seriously, who wouldn't? You were smoking hot, and a real badass (except you really weren't, but that was pretty onvious to everyone but you). You even had a motorcycle! But you were wrong, and it took you longer than it should have to figure that out.

You had thought it was his loss, rather than yours. You still went out to bars and clubs every night. You still brought home shady girls with dark makeup and short dresses (which, hey, weren't actually that bad once you talked to each other sober). However, no matter how many drinks, no matter how many one-night-stands (it was probably only two or three), you were still lonely. You found yourself thinking about Kankri more often, almost every hour of the day.

Eventually, you started to wonder why he wasn't coming back to you, and why your relationship had been so short in the first place.

And that's when it hit you.

You had been an asshole to him. You were a complete and total asshole, and had lost a pretty amazing person because of it. You realized that you had to clean up your act. You stopped smoking and drinking (mostly -- cigs were hard to quit, and you had the odd beer in the summer when the weather was nice enough to sit out with Kanny on the fire escape of your old apartment when he'd come over), and you started treating people like they were actual human beings instead of just objects.

After a while of asking, Kankri gave you a second chance, and you never screwed things up again (well, actually, there was the first time you met his family and his dad caught you two 'having a moment' in the guest room when you were supposed to be sleeping on the couch downstairs).

You know, it sounds like something straight out of a storybook, but that's how it happened. You got married nine years later, and the rest, as they say, was history. Well, not quite, because both of you still have a lot of stuff to do, and a lot of life to live. The important part is that you will (hopefully) be spending rest of your lives with each other.

You turn right, going up the ramp and away from the busy highway.

After about ten minutes of more driving, you move over onto the gravel shoulder of the road and park. You turn off the car, unbuckle your seatbelt, and turn to your husband.

Sometimes, you look at him, and life seems surreal to you. It's almost as if you can't believe that this is happening, that this is your life. You woke up this morning, called your husband, then drove to pick him up. Now you're here, half an hour away from the house you will probably be spending the rest of your lives in.

For now, though, you have to wake him up.

You watch Kankri for a few moments, taking in his appearance. He is wearing his trademark red sweater, complete with black jeans that make his ass look pretty damn great, even if he denies it. His complexion differs a lot from yours, you being as pale as a dead guy, and Kankri having a more olive tone to his skin, thanks to the Italian side of his family (queue your envy -- you meet someone with a huge family and the only family you know of is your dad and you little brother).

It shocks you sometimes how completely and irrevocably gorgeous Kanny is.

You glance back at the golden band around your left ring-finger, smiling to yourself. You remember Kankri freaking out about kissing you on the lips, an hour before the wedding ceremony. He was in his hotel room, pacing back and forth, when you came in. He told you about his dilemma, and you grabbed his face and kissed him hard.

When the time came, the two of you stood at the alter, your fingers laced together as your lips met. It was the most perfect moment, despite all of the chaos it took to plan the affair.

You watch Kankri for a little while longer, contemplating how you should wake him. An idea comes to you suddenly, and you lean over the centre console. You get as close as you can to him without falling and probably giving your forehead a good bruise on the car door, and brush your lips against his.

Your husband is quick to stir from sleep, realizing what exactly you are doing.

After the initial panic and flailing, Kankri soon reciprocates the kiss lazily, still groggy with sleep. Your lips move together, in the same way they had on your wedding day (and fuck, on your wedding night). Pretty soon, his fingers are in your hair, and he's almost in your lap, the kiss deepening with every passing second.

He pulls away from the it though, making you pout.

"Good evening to you, too, Cronus. I have to say, that is a very peculiar way to wake someone. In the future, I would suggest that you select other methods, as this may prove to be triggering to some individuals," he gives you a look (his ears colouring red -- what a cutie), knowing full well that you would only ever wake him up like that.

"However, seeing as we are married... I will give you a break. You need to take care that you don't use methods like that on others, as it would probably frighten most. Like I said before, though, I will not hold it against you. Now, back to the matter at hand, I assume that you wanted directions?", Kankri smirks at you.

The mere look on his face sends your mind reeling and your heart hammering. Damn, why does he have to be so beautiful?

You decide play it cool.

"Oh, come on, babe. You know that there's no one I would rather kiss awake. What kind of fool would I be to not give your fine self the attention you deserve?", you ask rhetorically, putting a hand on his upper leg and making him flush in his cheeks, too, before taking it off again. "It's only a half-hour from here, right?", you question.

"Uh, y-yes, it is. But before we leave this spot, I would like to make sure that you know not to pull something like that again without warning me first. It was very triggering. If you would have provided some form of notice before you did that, I could have been more prepared for it, and would most likely have reacted in a more positive manner. You know that I do not normally allow others --you being the exception -- to touch me, especially in ways that could be construed as potentially intimate or otherwise, so you are a lucky individual.

"You have not abused your certain privileges whilst specifically being in possession of them, but mostly because of the fact that I am very forgiving of you, Cronus. Please, do not misread this as anger, I am merely chastising you so that you may learn, and so that this occurrence does not happen again. I trust you so much -- with my life, even -- and I would not want to deprive you of any physical contact, but I would appreciate said physical contact more next time if you could supply me with some sort of alert to your actions, in order to avoid the remonstrance that is being demonstrated to you thusly," Kankri smiles.

"Hey, you got it, Chief. It was just a joke, but don't worry, I'll give you a sign next time I wanna pull 'the moves' on you," you reply, making little quotation marks in the air with your fingers.

"Oh? 'Moves', you say? And what might those be, exactly?", he leered smugly.

"Well, you'll just have to wait and see, won't you? We still gotta christen the new house, after all," you retorted, buckling your seatbelt and starting the car.

The drive itself was mostly uneventful. You drove through streets as Kankri pointed out various shops and places where you could spend your free time. He chatted excitedly about the house and the neighbourhood. As you understood, it was a nice enough street. He had wanted to surprise you, so you had little-to-no say in the choice he made.

You trusted him to make a good decision; this was Kankri, after all. 

He told you to turn, off of the lane you were driving down, and you to stop at the third house on the left.

The houses around here were spaced farther away from each other than in most suburban areas. The building itself was Victorian styled, the wood painted white with black trim, as well as a wraparound porch. You drove into the driveway beside it, stepping out and staring at the house in awe.

If this is how good Kankri's judgement normally is, he should be making all of the decisions from now on.

He hopped out of the car and joined you by the trunk, your arms already full. You shut the trunk tightly, pulling his suitcase behind you and slinging your bag over your shoulder as you slowly walked up the cobblestone path to the front of your new house. You tilted your head and noticed a tower attached to one side of the structure.

"Cronus, would you please let me carry something? I am perfectly willing and able to take my own suitcase," Kankri yawned.

"Nonsense, Kan. I got this," you assure, bringing the luggage up the stairs and unlocking the large front door.

"I suppose you do. I also most certainly do not adhere you to abstain from lifting things within reason. I quite like to admire your biceps," he says shyly.

"Oh really now?", you grin, opening the door with your foot. "Well, you know, there is a tradition we have to follow that involves me doing some more lifting," you state coyly,

He looks genuinely puzzled. "What would that b-"

Kankri cuts himself off with a high-pitched squeak of surprise as you lift him up bridal-style and carry him over the threshold of the door. You proceed to walk inside a little further, taking in your surroundings.

"Cronus, could you please put me down now," Kankri pleads, clinging to your shirt.

There is no way in hell you would ever drop him, but you set him on the floor regardless. You grab the two bags from outside and put them just inside the door.

"You made a great choice, babe!", you beam.

"Do you really think so? I was a little unsure about this house, but I ended up choosing it over many choices because I very much enjoy different types of architecture, and I could definitely picture us living here better than the others," he sighs thoughtfully.

"I wouldn't rather anywhere else. I think you made the right choice," you add, taking his hand.

He squeezed your hand, and you squeezed back.

"Alright, I think the first order of business would be to do a little exploration. This house is quite big, and I would very much like to get a look at all of the rooms again. However, I think it would be more productive if we went together, since I wouldn't want you to get lost in such a big place," Kankri teases, knowing perfectly well that you had pretty much lived in a mansion for your whole life.

The two of you went around the house, looking at every room, and deciding what they should be.

The room inside of the tower will be the study, although a more suitable name for it would be a library, reserved for Kankri's book collection. The room behind that on the first floor would be the dining room. The kitchen is already behind that room. The living room would be to the right of the first floor foyer.

A grand spiral staircase leads to the second floor. The master bedroom will belong to the two of you, of course. There are some spare bedrooms and another bathroom up there, too. In one of the rooms, there is a hatch in the ceiling that leads to the attic, but neither of you really want to see what's up there.

After you have finished looking around, you both settle on going back downstairs and sitting in the living room. You and Kankri are seated on the floor, backs against each other, as you stare around at the empty space.

"Cronus?", Kankri pipes, breaking the silence

"Yeah Kanny?", you drawl, waiting for him to correct you.

"Firstly, I would just like to point out the fact that we are adults now, are we not? You really don't have to use such a juvenile nickname for someone with whom you are married. I don't find the other pet-names particularity offensive, however I do have a name, and I would like it to be used in place of the odd ways that people purposely butcher it. Secondly, I was wondering, what do you think of this house, now that you have properly and fully seen it from the inside?", Kankri interrogates.

"Yeah, it's great! Throw on a coat of paint in the rooms, and it'll be a real charmer!", you exclaim.

"Actually, speaking of paint... there is a little task that I would very much like to get started on as soo as possible. As you did just mention, we need to paint the walls... And, I'm afraid that the walls are not simply going to paint themselves. As such, I would like to request your help in getting started on these walls in particular," Kankri professed.

That is when you realized that the majority of the floors in the house were covered in cloth tarps.

"Oh, you want me to help you paint? Of course I'll help, just tell me what you want me to do, and I'll do it!", you promised enthusiastically.

"Excellent!", Kankri smiled, retrieving two full paint cans from behind a few canvas sheets lying on the floor.

Kankri gave you a big paint roller and a tray, because you were tall enough to reach the high parts with it, and proceeded to fill the tray with the blue paint. It wasn't a dark blue, or even indigo, but a light blue, as if the sky itself was inside of your very living room.

You dipped the roller in the semi-viscous fluid, wiping off some of the excess before making azure strokes along the wall. The two of you fell into a pattern after a while, with you painting the bigger parts, and Kankri painting inside the nooks and crannies. You found that it was becoming increasingly fun to paint right beside his head, just to worry him.

"Cronus, really? Why must you be so immature at times? If you get paint on me, it will not go over well, believe me."

"Relax, babe! You worry too much! I have this in the bag. It is under control. I got th-", you cut yourself off as a giant glob of blue paint dripped from your roller and onto Kankri's red sweater.

You gaped at it in horror. The spot covered the entire back of the red surface, and was definitely not going to wash out easily. You were frozen there, but the silence forced you to react.

"OhmygodIamsosorryKankri!", you apologized in a rush of one breath, coming closer to make sure he wasn't actually exploding on the inside.

Kankri turned around, crossing his arms and glaring at you.

You bit your lip, trying to think of a solution. "Uh, I'll see if I can get some water from the tap to help," you jerked your thumb towards the kitchen, turning around.

You hear Kankri shuffling behind you, before feeling something at the back of your neck. You instinctively reach to the spot, and your fingers come back covered in blue. The same blue, in fact, as the paint you were just using.

You turn around to look at Kankri, who is holding his paintbrush in his hand with a triumphant grin.

"There, now I believe we are even," he snorts.

"Oh that's it! Kankri Vantas, you have just started a full on paint war! It is on!", you shouted, before scooping up paint with your hand and throwing it at him.

Kankri ducked out of the way, escaping most of the splatter, but was not fast enough to dodge all of it. His cheek was blue as he flicked his brush in your direction, flecks of paint attaching to your white shirt. This was the last thing you would have expected from Kankri, but also possibly the best.

You grinned, grabbing a brush of your own, and the paint war began.

The two of you ducked and weaved, avoiding the paint and striking back with your own attacks. At one point, Kankri jumped in the air in order to dodge a splatter, and you dived to the floor as a particularly large amount sailed above your body.

The paint rained like gunfire in a battle, showering both you and Kankri as the war waged on.

You turned around, shielding your face from the paint. Kankri laughs as you try -- and fail -- to lob paint over your shoulder at him, the globs hitting you in the back and the brush clattering to the floor.

You feel hands on your shoulders, before your husband is spinning you around.

"Any last words?", Kankri asks dramatically, making his voice sound as deep and imposing as he can while holding back laughter.

"You're so cute when you're covered in paint," you say, flashing him a smile.

He giggles, swiftly drawing a big letter "X", from your cheekbones, over your nose, and down to the corners of your lips. You take the brush from him and paint a moustache under his nose. Kankri beams, putting his arms around your neck.

You decide to put your hands under his legs and lift him up.

"Cronus! You know that I don't like it when you pick me up! Please put me down! You know, better than anyone else I might add, that I am afraid of heights! What if you were to drop me?! What if I fell and hurt myself?! Cronus, are you even listening to me?!", Kankri wailed.

"Kanny, I hate to question you, I really, really do, but since when have you ever been afraid of heights? Last I remember, you could sit on the roof and not get dizzy," you quirk an eyebrow at him.

"Did you know that new fears can develop at any age? As an example, take the soldiers who fought for our freedom. I believe that the term is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and while this mostly applies to things that happened to us in the far past, I do believe that that does not exempt me from the illness. I could have had a harrowing experience recently that brought to light just how terrifying things that are above my regular five feet and six inches can be. What kind of husband would you be if you did not respect that?", he glared at you.

"Did you know that when we were walking around the house, you leaned over the rail of the balcony on the second floor? That doesn't sound like something that someone who is afraid of heights would do," you smirked.

Kankri looked away. "I just wanted to make sure it was sturdy," he murmured.

"And what if you had fallen? What then?", you ask, concern taking over your expression.

"Then I know that you would have been there to catch me," he whispered.

You smiled at him. Sometimes, your husband really was just too cute for words.

Kankri leaned forward, his lips meeting yours with a perfect sensation, rivalled by no other. You hummed happily into the kiss, lifting your husband higher and adjusting your grip on him. Soon enough, you were kissing him deeply, his hands entrenched in your hair and his tongue entangled with yours.

Chapter Text

“Jegus fuck, I told you you didn’t have to carry all of it,” Vantera snarled, rolling her sharp, purple eyes as her best friend came panting up the stairs after her.

Makaera just flashed one of his dopey, ridiculously cute smiles at her and didn’t reply.

Vantera stopped to wait for him on the landing of the fourth floor of Schramm Hall, their home for their first year of college. Makaera had insisted on carrying most of their bags up the stairs, leaving Vantera only two to carry. He’d had no trouble the first six flights of stairs, but by the eighth one, his breathing was getting laborious.

When he finally got to the landing, Vantera opened the door and held it open for him, allowing him to go ahead of her. They trooped down the hall, looking at the room numbers as they went. Vantera would be living in room #413 and Makaera would be right next to her in room #412. They both had roommates, but neither had ever met their roommates before, and Vantera was more than a little nervous that she and her roommate wouldn’t get along. After all, it was kind of a miracle that Makaera had put up with her for so long. Vantera just wasn’t easy to get along with.

“I’m gonna drop my motherfucking bags off in my room and meet my motherfucking roomie,” Makaera said, stopping in front of his room. “You should go meet your motherfucking roommate and I’ll be over in a motherfucking minute.”

“Whatever,” Vantera grumbled, shuffling past her best friend to the door of her room.

The RA had put up little signs on the door with the names of the people who lived in each room. Vantera scowled at the sight of hers—bright red with her name written in a loopy font. Her roommate’s nametag was dark blue and read the name “Pyra” in the same loopy font as Vantera’s.

She gave a loud sigh and opened the door.

An explosion of color hit her eyes as soon as she opened the door and Vantera could help the surprised squeak that escaped her. The room had been decorated with colorful streamers and lights and there was a rainbow carpet on the hardwood floor. Her roommate had already made her bed with a pile of bright, multi-colored blankets that were practically blinding Vantera’s eyes even with her tinted contacts in.

And there, in the middle of all the color and chaos, was a girl—just a little taller than Vantera—with a white, plushie dragon on her shoulder that looked suspiciously like Terezi’s scalemate, Pyralspite.

Hearing Vantera enter the room, the girl spun around and flashed a wicked grin in Vantera’s direction. A pair of bright red, angular shades covered her eyes.

“Welcome to my hive!” the girl cackled. “Pyra Teraz, future lawyer—or, as I like to call it, Legislacerator—at your service!”

It all clicked into place.

“You read Homestuck,” Vantera deadpanned.

Pyra cackled again.

“That I do!” she said. “If it wasn’t obvious already, Terezi is my favorite character.”

“Yeah, I kinda got that, funnily enough,” Vantera snapped back sarcastically, rolling her eyes.

Pyra didn’t seem to be put off by Vantera’s irritation. On the contrary, she seemed delighted by it. She chattered away in Vantera’s ear as she unpacked the two bags Makaera had let her carry. Vantera didn’t really listen to anything Pyra said, because she didn’t think any of it really mattered. Gog, she hoped Makaera came back soon.

Suddenly, there came a series of rather loud noises from the room beside them, ending with a disturbing boom. Both Vantera and Pyra stopped moving to look at the wall that separated their room from the next, as though it might collapse at any moment.

Then, they both jumped when they heard the occupants of the room start screaming profanities at each other. Well... one of them was screaming obscenities and the other was booming out a rather odd string of made up swear words.

“Sounds like they need and auspistice,” Pyra giggled.

“Fuck,” said Vantera. “That’s my moirail’s room.”

Without another word to Pyra, Vantera scrambled to her feet and threw the door open, charging out into the hall and to the next room.

Pyra also scrambled to her feet and followed, wondering if her new roommate would require legal assistance.

“THE FUCK IS GOING ON IN HERE?!” Vantera roared, throwing the door open.

“Excuse me, but I would much prefer it if you would not barge into my room like that unannounced,” said a tall man standing on one side of the room, facing off with a very pissed off looking Makaera.

Both of them were glaring daggers of undisguised, platonic, tear-you-to-motherfucking-pieces-and-kill-you hatred. Or Makaera was at least. The other boy was just staring down his nose at him with an expression of distaste on his face.

“I’LL DO WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT TO DO NOOKSTAIN!” Vantera raged. “YOU WERE BOTH SCREAMING OBSCENITIES SO FUCKING LOUD I DON’T DOUBT THE ENTIRE FUCKING FLOOR HEARD YOU!”

That being said, it was a miracle the RA hadn’t come to put an end to all the screaming. Vantera was even louder than both boys combined.

“YOU,” Vantera pointed at Makaera’s roommate, “GO SIT IN A FUCKING CORNER OR SOMETHING. AND YOU,” she turned her anger on Makaera, “WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T YOU TAKE YOUR FUCKING MEDICINE?!”

Makaera’s only reply was to snarl at her, his normally purple eyes dilated and glowing red.

“NO, FUCK YOU!” Vantera screamed. “TAKE YOUR FUCKING MEDICINE, FUCKASS!!”

Makaera shrank in on himself a little, even though he easily could have picked Vantera’s tiny body up with one arm and thrown her the length of a football field, but the snarl stayed on his face. It was almost as if he was just barely hanging on to sanity; just enough to keep himself from hurting anyone.

Keeping her eyes locked with his, Vantera kneeled down and rummaged in his backpack. After some digging, she found what she was looking for, took it out, and threw it as hard as she could at him. The bottle of pills bounced harmlessly off his chest, but he still flinched away like it had stung him.

Makaera glanced down at the pills, then back up at Vantera and snarled again, baring his teeth and showing his unnaturally sharp canines.

Vantera’s upper lip curled back and she returned his snarl with twice the ferocity; a subtle threat directed at him, reminding him that she was capable of being just as scary as he was when she wanted.

Vantera was a very small girl, but every inch of her five feet, four inches was pure muscle. She was fast and strong, and very, very scary when she got pissed off. At the moment, she wasn’t even truly pissed off. In fact, no one but Makaera had ever seen her when she was truly angry. Irritated? Absolutely. Annoyed? All the time. Blood rage anger? Never.

Even in this state where he wasn’t completely in control of his body, Makaera remembered what it was like to see his moirail really pissed. He had been absolutely terrified; afraid she would turn that blind fury on him; scared to death that he wouldn’t be able to pacify her into a state of relative calmness again. In the end, he hadn’t even had to lift a finger. Vantera had gone from blood rage fury to pissed off to annoyed to irritated to passed out on the floor in only a matter of seconds.

It wasn’t until the next morning that there had been some pacifying to do.

However, remembering what it felt like just watching her anger directed at someone else was enough to have Makaera kneeling on the ground and picking up the bottle of pills like a child that had been scolded. He slowly twisted off the cap and popped two pills in his mouth, swallowing without the aid of water.

The meds worked quickly. They only had to wait a minute—one very awkward minute—for them to take effect. Makaera slumped and his head lolled back, showing them his painted face with a lazy smile on it. The three other people in the room all released the breath they had been holding.

“I say, what in the world was that?” Makaera’s roommate asked, frowning at Vantera as she picked her way across the messy room to pick Makaera up and dump him on the little couch that must have belonged to his roommate.

“Multiple Personality Disorder,” Vantera snapped, scowling at him. “He’s had it ever since he was born, though it only really got bad after he was put in a fucking foster home. When he gets upset or angry, this other fucking personality comes out and makes him do stuff he wouldn’t normally do. It’s not usually this fucking bad, but the doctors have been trying to get him off his fucking meds since it seems like he’s just getting addicted to the fucking stuff without it really helping him.”

The other boy’s eye twitched and a grimace appeared on his face.

“You do realize you said ‘fuck’ at least five times,” he said.

Vantera gave him a blank stare that was really more of a glare.

“Reeeeeeeeeeally?” she said, her tone dripping with sarcasm. “I hadn’t noticed.”

The boy obviously didn’t pick up on the subtle threat he voice gave.

“Well you did,” he said, “and I would really appreciate it if you would stop swearing in my presence. To discontinue swearing at all, would be preferable, but I am not your keeper, so obviously I can’t tell you what to do. However, as it seems you are familiar with my new roommate, I believe I will have to ask that you both acquire some manners before engaging in any sort of conversation or activity with me. Or my moirail, for that matter. Her friends have had far too much influence on her language and now I must schoolfeed it out of her.”

Pyra and Vantera blinked and shared a look. They both looked over Makaera’s roommate, taking in his clothes, hair, and the sunglasses hanging from his shirt pocket. He was a dead ringer for Equius.

“You read Homestuck, don’t you,” they both said at the same time, varying amounts of excitement in their tones.

The Equius boy took a half step back, startled.

“I... uh... that is—yes,” he stammered, sweat beading on his forehead. “Erm... how did you know?”

“Well it’s kind of obvious,” Vantera said. “You look and talk just like Equius, and you also just mentioned a moirail. Speaking of which, let me guess: she’s small, leo star sign, and loves cats.”

“That sounds about right,” the boy chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck and blushing.

Vantera rolled her eyes.

“The Homestuckers are just popping out of the woodwork today,” she grumbled. “We’re fast on our way to having a full set of trolls right here on campus.”

The Equius boy blanched.

“That would be most unfortunate.”

“You’re telling me!” the Pyra girl laughed. “I think it’s great!! We can all be Homestuck nerds and best friends together!”

Vantera facepalmed at the same time as Equius gently lowered his face into his hand.

Giving a loud sigh, Equius raised his head again to look over the two girls intruding in his room.

“Excuse me,” he said, “but I do not believe any of us have been introduced yet. My name is Zahhak. I am studying to be a mechanic.”

“I’m Pyra,” she smiled. “I’m majoring in Law and Social Science.”

“Vantera: Biology major. And this moron is Makaera: Fine Arts major.”

“It is a pleasure to meet all of you,” Zahhak said politely, still looking down his nose at them. “I apologize for the disturbance earlier. Your friend, Makaera, was startled by one of my robots and ended up throwing it across the room before he began screaming profanities at the top of his lungs.”

“Oh, so that’s what that noise was!” Pyra laughed. “I was worried someone might have accidentally—or otherwise—set off that computer virus that blows up your computer and curses you and everyone you know for the rest of your lives.”

“OH FUCK NO!” Vantera shouted, recoiling from her roommate. “DON’T EVEN FUCKING JOKE ABOUT THAT, THAT’S NOT EVEN FUCKING FUNNY!”

Pyra just cackled wickedly and stuck her tongue out at Vantera.

“But making Homestuck references is always funny!”

Chapter Text

"Sol?", you squeak.

"What?", Sollux whisper-yells back.

"I think they might be gone noww. I don't hear anythin," you reply, your voice raspy from disuse.

"Be quiet, they could come back if you're too loud," he urges.

"I don't hear any a that wweird growwlin sound they make. Maybe they'vve movved on?", you suggest.

"Maybe. I wouldn't chance it, though. Just wait, ED," he rolls his eyes.

"But Sol!" you whine, dragging out the 'L' at the end.

"Shh!" Sollux quiets you.

You hate this, it's so boring! However... when things do happen around here, they are normally very, very bad things. This whole apocalypse thing started about two sweeps ago, and now, almost the whole planet is overrun with poisoned trolls.

It all started with a new product in shops -- Miracle Pills, they were called. Almost everyone bought them. They were supposed to enhance your mood, make you less irritable and anxious, and just give you a better outlook on things.

The first batch that came out hadn't even been tested, and had resulted in over five thousand deaths, including one of your dearest friends. What made it worse was that you were the first one to suggest them to Karkat.

When a newer version of the medication came out, people were hesitant to try it, and for good reason. It seems like everyone had lost a friend or more to the drug. Eventually, though, another thousand trolls were eradicated by the pills.

You could practically see Her Imperious Condescension reclining back in her throne, cackling as she counted the boondollars that had once been in the hands of your fallen comrades.

Next, the Miracle Pill became the quickest, most affordable method of suicide. That's how you and Sollux got together. You were in a dark place in your life, and you were about to end it all, when he came in. He stopped you. You didn't even think he cared.

After that, he wouldn't leave you alone. Wherever you went, he came with you, and if you were at your hive, he stayed there with you, too. You never minded, of course, because no one has ever showed the slightest bit of interest in you. One thing led to another, and then you were his matesprit. You never left his side, and he never left yours.

About half a sweep later, the third reproduction of the Miracle Pill was in stores. Only the insane and the desperate bought them. You guess that the third time was the charm, because the medication's death count had stopped. It actually worked!

...Or so you all thought.

Soon, all of the trolls who took them got sick. It started with only the people who ingested the pills getting the virus, but slowly, they passed it on to others. There are only a handful of illnesses that a troll can contract, and only one or two of them are actually deadly.

However, it was already too late for anyone inside the hospitals when the infected were admitted. Poor souls.

The disease in question was the worst to ever grace Alternia with its presence. It looked like a normal cold, or even allergies at first -- the symptoms were things like coughing, sore throats, itching eyes -- but then it mutated.

Within the next half-sweep, the sickness wasn't going away, and the thousands that had gotten it were now coughing up blood, mute, and clawing their eyes out. The lucky ones were already dead.

This is when people started to think that maybe, just maybe, something was wrong. The Miracle Pills were recalled, and store-owners stopped selling them. That, however, didn't stop the virus from spreading.

There was simply no way to help the poor trolls who were sick. You just had to avoid them, and hopefully, the whole epidemic would blow over. That's what you liked to hope. It's thoughts like that that kept you from slitting anyone's throat at night to put them out of their misery.

After a sweep, the sick started to become hostile and violet, or at least, more than trolls normally were. They traveled in packs, killing whomever they pleased for no reason -- as if they wanted to murder everyone and anyone that they so much as looked at. You had also discovered that they were growing cannibalistic.

By the time the rest of the planet realized this was a problem, it was too late. A third of the population were zombies, and another third were dead. The rest were the survivors.

One sweep later, and the world is not just in anarchy, but in pure, gut-wrenching chaos. You and Sollux used to have a party of nine other friends, but they all died a long time ago. You had only met the odd survivor here and there after that, taking them in and sharing what little you have, but they never stayed long.

You two don't have much to begin with, but what you do have is enough. You have food, water, and for the most part, shelter, which is more than most of the living and dead have. You also have each other, and that, hopefully, will never change.

The thing that keeps you going, keeps you alive (other than Sollux), is the consistency. There are only a few things in your life that are a constant, to be sure: the zombies, your routine, and the fact that no one is coming to save you.

You like to call the virus "Irony", because it is the best example of it that you will ever find. The people who took the Miracle Pills, no matter which edition, only wanted happiness, whether it was the relief the pills promised, or the death that they didn't. What they found with the third batch, however, proved to be the exact opposite. The only trolls that got anything good out of those meds were the ones who died early.

Strangely enough, you regret trying to kill yourself with them. Even though you hate every single second of the living hell that is now your life -- and you probably would have been better off if you had died -- you also wouldn't trade it for anything else.

You may be miserable, but everything is worth it again when you realize that you still have Sollux, and that nothing matters as long as you do.

You are suddenly snapped back into reality by a voice.

"ED, did you hear me? I think we can go now. It's quieter,", your matesprit nudges you, peeking out from behind your current hiding place -- a giant waste collection receptacle.

Sometimes you're jealous of the fact that he grew out of his lisp, while you still stutter. Although, you would never hold it against him, because everyone grows up differently. It just so happens that some have mastered the art of becoming an adult, and others have to deal with an accursed stutter for their entire lives.

"Huh? Oh, sorry Sol. I... I wwas just thinkin...", you trail off, not meeting his eyes.

"About what?", he asks, motioning for you to continue.

"Just about... howw this all started, y'know? And... about Kar," you frown.

Sollux gives you a sympathetic look.

He knows how terrible you feel about losing your mutual friend, such a long time ago. You were both very close to Karkat, but your feelings weren't as platonic. You had felt something of a red romantic nature -- once upon a time -- but you still don't know if it was flushed or pale. You think he may have felt something for you, too, but you never had the chance to find out.

You also experience tremendous amounts of guilt whenever you think about Karkat. Sure, he was no saint, -- he said a lot of horrible things to people, whether he meant it or not, and he used some of the most vulgar, graphic language you have ever heard -- but he had been a big part of your life.

He helped you solve your problems, comforted you when you were feeling down. He was your anchor, and he did it all without asking for anything in return. The worst part is, when you thought that maybe, just maybe, you could return the favour, you ended up killing him instead.

You suppose that living in a world where all of your friends are dead is good enough punishment, not to mention the fact that you had to watch them all die, or shoot at their zombified corpses.

You don't know why you're allowed to have Sollux, though. Frankly, it doesn't make any sense. He's the best part, a beacon, your only good thing in this world, so why wouldn't the universe take that away from you, too?

You are so lost in your thoughts that you don't even realize that you've been crying.

Sollux looks worried, trying to comfort you, and it takes a few moments for his words to register.

"... going through, Eridan," he pauses, studying you. "Are you even listening to me?", he wonders aloud.

"Er... Sorry. No, I guess I wasn't," you shrug, wiping your eyes and looking away in shame.

He sighs. "I was trying to tell you that I'm here for you. I know what you're going through. Losing someone you care about is never an easy thing, and it never gets better, especially when you feel responsible for their death. Trust me, I get it. I just want you to know that I've got you, and that we're in this together," Sollux puts a hand on your cheek, turning your head to face him.

You lean into his touch and put your hand over his.

You try to make the most of every moment like this. This is what you live for, after all. You also try to treasure every second you have left. You always share those seconds with him, whether you're sleeping next to him, eating with him, looking for supplies with him, or even just thinking about him.

You smile weakly up at your matesprit, sniffling pitifully. Sollux always tells you how beautiful you are, how sweet, how amazing, but you're nothing compared to him. He isn't beautiful, not handsome in the slightest -- he's magnificent. Everything about him is stupefying, from the angular structure of his face, to the sharp points of his fangs and claws, and especially his heterochromatic eyes, unique in every way.

And yet, despite how perfect he is, he chose you. Two sweeps ago, when everyone was still alive, you would always hear about how much everyone hated you, and rightfully so. You knew you were undesirable, right from the minute you were able to form independent, coherent thoughts.

The only thing wrong with that is the fact that Sollux changed everything. He made you see the value of life in general, as well as your own. Now, you don't know how you could live without him.

He always says nice things about you, yet he doesn't tell you how much he pities you -- at least, not as often as you would like. But when he looks at you, like you're something precious, something to be desired, and you know that he feels the same way you do.

Sollux kisses you, his soft lips addictive as they move with yours. You always thought that he tasted sweet. Your eyes slip shut. You take his hand, lacing your fingers with his, your heartbeat speeding up as the kiss continues. He always has that effect on you.

Sollux swipes his tongue along your lower lip, and you open your mouth for him without hesitation. Once inside, he explores every inch, tongue moving in a way that shouldn't be pleasurable, but is.

Your breathing picks up, and you press closer to you matesprit, drinking in his scent. Sollux smells sweet, too, not so strong that it's sickening, but just enough to be practically intoxicating. You fist your hands into his hair, trying to pull him closer. You gasp his name as he pushes you between himself and the wall.

Sollux moves his arm up to stroke your face softly with the backs of his fingers, moving down to do the same to the gills on your neck. You hum happily. He presses kisses to them as well, before resuming with your lips again. You shudder as his lips brush over the slits. His leg goes between yours, pressing upwards a little against your sheath, and you try as hard you can to not make a sound.

You fail, of course, moaning softly, but no one can blame you. Sollux knows better than anyone else that you've always been extremely vocal.

Your whole body feels electrified as he touches you, his hands trailing down your hips and up your thighs. It feels like pure lightning, making you both scaldingly hot and chillingly cold, and you think that you could probably shoot it out of your fingertips if you tried. You're on fire, and you're made of ice, all at the same time.

As soon as his fingers ghost down your sides, over your gills and grubscars, your breath hitches, and you arch towards Sollux, begging him to continue. He does, thank gog, and you smash your lips harder against his to muffle your sounds as his hands keep going down.

He suddenly breaks the kiss, and you have to suppress a whine from escaping your lips.

"I'm really sorry, Eridan, but we need to keep moving before we get caught. They might be able to smell us, and I really don't want the zombies to find us out before we get what we came here for," Sollux states, checking, once again, to make sure the coast is clear. "I promise, once we get back to the base, we can continue this," he smiles, punctuating 'this' by waggling his eyebrows.

You giggle silently as he stands and offers you his hand, your disappointment forgotten as you remember the current situation.

"Such a gentletroll," you smile, taking his hand as he pulls you up.

The two of you sneak into the medical supply building unnoticed. You creep through the aisles. There doesn't seem to be any zombies in here, but that is to be expected. The undead tend to flock towards any and every food source, and the only living trolls in your immediate viscidity are you, and Sollux.

You hope they don't know you're here yet.

"I'll keep wwatch, you go behind the counter and see if you can find anythin useful," you tell him.

"Yes, dear," Sollux obeys, licking up your earfin and kissing your cheek before hopping over the aforementioned counter.

You take a wistful glance back at him, blushing fiercely, before straightening your posture and taking your post in front of the pre-approved medicinal retrieval centre. You pull out your harpoon gun, Ahab's Crosshairs, and watch the door.

You had decided to come here in order to pick up supplies. You were starting to run low on things like gauze and bandages, so the two of you made the trek to the nearest area that would have what you needed.

However, you two didn't just come here to restock your equipment. Sollux has a plan. You both believe that -- with your combined intelligence, and some Miracle Pills to observe -- you can possibly create an antidote, or possibly some sort of repellant.

It has been gruelling work, trying to search for the cure. It's hard to do research when you have to keep finding food and water, all the while fighting for your life.

"Sollux, hurry up! I think I heard somethin!", you whisper, looking around apprehensively.

"Eridan, you're worried, I get it. It's all in your head, though. You're just imagining it. Now, calm down, and keep watch," Sollux calls from some far off corner.

You hear a banging noise, followed my some sort of clattering. It doesn't sound to be coming from this room, or behind the counter, but from behind the door that you came from. Said door is blocked from your vision by shelves, and leads to what were once offices.

"Wwhat the fuck wwas th-"

Suddenly, the front doors of the building burst open, a hoard of the undead crashing through the glass.

"Oh shit! Sollux, let's go!", you shout, every fin on your body flaring in a threat display.

"Hang on, I'm almost done!", he yells back.

"No! Wwe havve to get out of here!", you panic, firing your rifle and skewering two zombies.

"Seriously, you need to stop being so paranoid. There is stuff somewhere back here that could fix that, if you want. You are just too much sometimes! You need to relax...", Sollux starts, but trails off as he walks up behind you.

You pull your harpoon out of the body, and shoot about five more, before turning around to look at your matesprit. His eyes are wide open in shock. Suddenly, you see his eyes light up, flickering and pushing back the undead behind you.

He vaults over the counter and stands beside you, taking your hand.

"Wwe can't run. They're blockin all a the exits," you observe, looking at him desperately.

"I might be able to push them out of the way," Sollux suggests.

"No, it wwouldn't do us any good. There are probably more in the office area, and you'd only hurt yourself by tryin," you dismiss.

He glances at you, squeezing your hand. You're going to have to fight your way out.

You count to three in your head, and then Sollux unleashes the hoard.

You fire at the zombie nearest to you, the harpoon sailing across the room and landing square in its stomach. The corpse flies back, hitting two more on its way into the shelf. You run over, ripping your ammo out and shooting again.

Sollux follows your lead, throwing the corpses behind you into walls. You smile up at him as he takes down a few more. He smiles back.

You feel your rifle being ripped from your grasp. Suddenly, an infected troll has its hands on your shoulders, trying to bite your neck. You try to force it back with your considerable highblood strength, but two more take its place.

At this point, you are panicking.

You gaze flickers to Sollux, who is both preoccupied, and has his back towards you. You try to scream, but nothing comes out. It doesn't look like he's going to be able to get you out of this one. Suddenly, you remember the object that you carry with you at all times.

You pull your wand out of your pocket and cast it at the body behind you, before aiming at the one in front. The corpse in front of you flies back, dismembering both itself, and several others. You grin in triumph, jabbing the wand at a group of seven and making them explode where they stand.

Arms reach out for you, trying to grab you and pull you in, but you back away. They keep coming, though, more and more of them targeting you. You see Sollux behind the crowd, using his psionics to knock down a cluster of the undead with another zombie.

You smile at him, just as a corpse's hand circles around your wrist. It grips you, squeezing and pulling until your wand comes loose. It drops to the floor. You're screwed.

The hoard surrounding you gets closer, their hands finding various spaces on your arms as they try to drag you away. You keep your feet planted on the floor, but you can feel them sliding. You howl, you yell, but he can't hear you over the groaning.

You watch them as one bites into your forearm, and another bites into your neck.

"Sollux!", you cry out, tears streaming down your face.

He whips around. He heard you. Unfortunately, there's nothing he can do anymore. You are beyond saving.

Your matesprit's eyes widen in horror.

Sollux pushes through the crowd, his eyes focused on you as he shoves zombies out of the way. He makes it to you, forcing all of the bodies back.

"Hey, what's up, Sol?", you ask, you voice strained as your try to keep from screaming in pain.

He is speechless. You shuffle towards him, only to fall to your knees, your legs giving out. He rushes to your side, catching you just before you hit the floor and kneeling beside you.

"I'm so sorry," you apologize.

Sollux reaches forward, wrapping you in a hug and enveloping you in his scent, which is now somewhat tainted with blood. "Don't ever be sorry. You did an amazing job, Eridan. I pity you so much, you know that?", he sobs into your shoulder.

"I pity y-"

You are cut off by another corpse, grabbing your matesprit by the ankles and dragging him away.

You grab hold of Sollux's wrists, tugging him back towards you. His claws dig into your arms as he clutches onto you for dear life. You don't care, not about the violet blood leaking from your neck and arms, nor about the fact that his claws are slicing your skin to ribbons as he scrabbles for purchase.

You pull and pull, trying desperately to keep him here, keep him with you, but the corpses are too strong, and they completely outnumber you. You lose your grip on his hands, and you scramble to get him back as they drag him to his doom.

The last thing you hear from him are his claws screeching on the floors, leaving five jagged streaks behind. Your heart burns, and you wish that it could have been you.

"Sollux!", you screech in agony, crying and reaching out to the mass of legs as if somehow, that will make him come back.

You look up at the hoard, towering above you. They can do their worst, you don't care, you have nothing to live for.

The last thing you remember is the searing pain of teeth and claws, all around your body, and your blood drenching the floor, which is already covered in yellow.

 

Your name is Eridan Ampora, and you can't believe your eyes.

You have been dead for what seems like forever, and you have also been searching tirelessly for the entire time.

Being in the afterlife, you meet quite a lot of people. So far, you have come into contact with all of your friends, plus alternate versions of them. Your meeting with your universe's Karkat was nice -- you talked, and he never had any hard feelings. You had still apologized, but he just gave you a hug and thanked you.

You aren't sure if he was thanking you for apologizing, or thanking you for killing him, but you have a feeling that it wasn't the former.

You've met alternate versions of yourself, too, but those meetings were just downright agonizing. You knew that you were annoying, but you never thought you were that bad -- always begging for some sort of attention, whether it was pity or hate.

You have been looking for so long, and yet it seems as though you've found every single other person, except for the one you've been trying to find -- the person you really need.

You need Sollux. Your Sollux.

One of the many Solluxes that you have encountered in your travels stands in front of you, a little ways away. They always look the same, but as soon as you talk to one, you can tell right away that he isn't yours.

You don't even think that you should talk to him. What if he isn't the right one? You don't think you can take the rejection anymore. You don't think you should even keep looking.

You have to have hope, though. It... it could be him. But what if it isn't? He hasn't seen you yet, maybe you could get out of here before-

Fuck, he sees you.

A spark of recognition flashes across his face. He looks at you, wide-eyed, and stands stock-still. It's him, it's your Sollux. You don't know how, but you know it's him.

You don't even think. All you hear is the fictitious sound of your heart racing, the imaginary blood pounding in your ears as you sprint towards him. Nothing can keep him away from you now. You just keep running.

You start to slow down, stopping just short of your mark. Is he real? Is he really there? You reach your hand out to him, but pull back before it meets his face. What if you're wrong? Could it really be him? You briefly look into his blank eyes, then look away.

You gasp in surprise at the feel of arms around your waist. You look up at Sollux, who pulls you closer. Your hands lay flat against his chest. He hasn't held you like this for what feels like millions of sweeps. You gaze into his eyes once again, bewildered, as he presses his lips to yours.

Your eyes slip shut immediately, indulging yourself in his essence. The kiss is chaste, but it feels amazing, and it only occurs to you now just how much you missed him. Tears soak your cheeks as your lips confer with his and you start to purr.

You're gripping his shirt harder than you've ever held onto anything before. You want this to be real. You want him to stay with you, and never leave you again. You'll never forgive yourself if he slips away again.

Sollux breaks the kiss, holding you there as you sob into his chest.

"I missed you so much. Please stay wwith me," you plead, wrapping your arms around his neck in a desperate hug.

"I will. I promise, I'm not going anywhere," he smiles, holding you tighter.

You smile back, and he kisses you again. You're glad that, at least for now, he's only kissing you with his lips. You don't think you could handle more than that, because you're so shocked that he's even here. Sollux wipes your eyes of their tears and plants kisses on your cheeks.

Suddenly, you hear a chorus of "aww"'s from behind a bush.

You break this kiss this time, your head snapping over to the shrubbery. You look back at your matesprit questioningly, but he just grins. Your eyes go back to the bush, your face a mask of confusion.

Suddenly, you see Feferi, Nepeta, Gamzee, and Karkat emerge from behind the plant. They all seem to be from your universe.

"Oh, you two are just purrecious! OTP! OTP!", Nepeta squeals excitedly.

"You buoys look fintastic together! See, Eridan, I alwaves knew you'd find somemoby," Feferi beams at you.

You notice that Gamzee and Karkat are holding hands. When did that happen? You also see Gamzee hand Karkat what looks like a boonbuck. It seems that they had bet on the two of you getting together.

"Aww, ain't they just motherfucking adorable, Karbro? It just all up and makes the pusher melt and the harshwhimsies mellow," Gamzee drawls in his casual, stoned way.

Karkat crosses his arms, a smug grin on his face. "I knew you two shitmouthed ignoramuses would get together. I'm surprised that it took a fucking apocalypse," he shouts, rolling his pupil-less eyes.

You are speechless. Your gaze returns to Sollux, who is smirking at you. He knew they were watching you! He fucking knew! You look back at your friends, your mouth opening to ask what the hell is happening. Unfortunately for you, your matesprit takes your face in his hands and attaches his lips to yours.

Whatever you were going to say has been forgotten, swept up in your passion. You quickly melt into the kiss, and there are no more worries, no more struggle. There's only Sollux, his lips, and his touch, and that's all you could have asked for.

Chapter Text

CG: YEAH I DONT KNOW SOME GAME HE WANTS US TO PLAY OR SOMETHING.
CG: FUCK WHAT WAS THAT?
CG: HANG ON SOMETHING REALLY FUCKING WEIRD IS GOING ON HERE
CG: ILL BE BACK IN A FUCKING MINUTE
CG: DONT ZONE OUT AND LOG THE FUCK OFF OR SOMETHING WHILE IM GONE.
CG: SHIT GOTTA GO
CG: JUST... HANG ON ONE FUCKING SECOND OKAY?

TC: SuRe ThInG mOtHeRfUcKeR!
TC: hOnK!

 

You sort of zone out for a while, but you’re certain of one motherfucking thing; Karkat isn’t back in “one fucking second”. He’s also not back in a “fucking minute”. He’s not even back in a motherfucking hour. You don’t all up and motherfucking panic, because you’re too motherfucking chill for that, but you do worry a little motherfucking bit. Yeah fuck that you are totally motherfucking panicking right motherfucking now.

Karkat is your best friend, and you’d be lying if you said you didn’t have some red feelings for that little firecracker. Whether your feelings are flushed or pale is yet to be seen, but you sometimes get this motherfucking pity in your pusher that feels like both.

You’ve never told Karkat about your feelings for him, because you’re afraid of getting motherfucking “friend-zoned” like you did Tavros. Karkat was the motherfucker to help you through that rejection, so maybe that’s where your motherfucking feelings originated from? You don’t motherfucking know and, right now, you don’t motherfucking care. The only thing you care about is that your best of motherfucking bro’s is motherfucking missing and you are freaking the motherfuck out.

Okay. Calm down. It’s probably just taking him longer than anticipated to sort out whatever the motherfuck is happening over on his end of the motherfucking line. Any motherfucking second he’ll come back on and say “HEY NOOKSTAIN IM BACK YOU DIDNT ZONE THE FUCK OUT ON ME DID YOU?”

You sit down at your husktop and bring the motherfucking trollian chat box back up. What you see does not all up and comfort you in the motherfucking slightest.

 

carcinoGeneticist [CG] is an idle troll!

carcinoGeneticist [CG] ’s husktop has exploded!

carcinoGeneticist [CG] is no longer available for trolling

carcinoGeneticist [CG] does not exist. Please try a different troll tag

TC: MoThErFuCk

terminallyCapricious [TC] ’s message to carcinoGeneticist [CG] could not be delivered

 

You close out of the motherfucking window. Its motherfucking useless now. Instead, you troll your other friend, Sollux. Karkat had been up and talking about a game Sollux wanted them to play before whatever the fuck it was that up and happened to Karkat happened. Maybe he all up and motherfucking knows something?

 

terminallyCapricious [TC] began pestering twinArmageddons [TA]

TC: HeY mOtHeRfUcKeR
TC: cAn A bRoThEr ChIlL a PiEcE wItH a MoThErFuCkEr?

T C: AnD mAyBe AsK a FeW qUeStIoNs?

TA: a2 u2ual, you make no fuckiing 2en2e.
TA: what the fuck do you want GZ?
TA: iim kiinda fuckiing bu2y over here

TC: I wAs AlL uP aNd MoThErFuCkInG tAlKiNg To KaRbRo
TC: LiKe I uSuAlLy Do
TC: He WaS mOtHeRfUcKiNg TeLlInG mE aBoUt ThAt MoThErFuCkInG gAmE yOu WaNtEd Us To PlAy

TA: gog damniit ii told hiim two keep hii2 trap 2hut about that!

TC: DONT INTERUPT MOTHERFUCKER
TC: just shut the motherfuck up and listen
TC: MOTHERFUCK

TA: ... 8l

TC: AnYwAyS
TC: kArBrO wAs TeLlInG mE aBoUt ThE mOtHeRfUcKiNg GaMe
TC: BuT tHeN sOmEtHiNg HaPpEnEd.
TC: HaNg On LeT mE uP aNd CoPy ThE mOtHeRfUcKiNg MeSsAgEs.
TC: CG: YEAH I DONT KNOW SOME GAME HE WANTS US TO PLAY OR SOMETHING. CG: FUCK WHAT WAS THAT? CG: HANG ON SOMETHING REALLY FUCKING WEIRD IS GOING ON HERE CG: ILL BE BACK IN A FUCKING MINUTE CG: DONT ZONE OUT AND LOG THE FUCK OFF OR SOMETHING WHILE IM GONE. CG: SHIT GOTTA GO CG: JUST... HANG ON ONE FUCKING SECOND OKAY?
TC: TC: SuRe ThInG mOtHeRfUcKeR! TC: hOnK!
TC: AnD tHeN tHiS mOtHeRfUcKiNg HaPpEnEd
TC: carcinoGeneticist [CG] is an idle troll! carcinoGeneticist [CG]’s husktop has exploded! carcinoGeneticist [CG] is no longer available for trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG] does not exist. Please try a different troll tag

TA: ... oh fuck

TC: WhAt?

TA: oh FUCK

TC: MOTHERFUCKER TELL ME
TC: what the motherfuck is going on?

TA: oh 2hiit fuckiing a22nugget2!

TC: MOTHERFUCKER!!!!

TA: ii thiink the 2ame thiing happened two ED, VR, TZ, NP, and TV
TA: ii wa2 talkiing two ED and he 2aiid 2omethiing “fii2hy” wa2 happeniing and he wa2 gonna go check iit out
TA: a liittle biit later ii got tho2e 2ame exact me22age2
TA: ii thought he wa2 ju2t playiing around or 2ome 2hiit
TA: but then EQ me22aged me freakiing out 2ayiing that NP wa2 gone and he couldn’t get ahold of VR
TA: ii tried me22agiing TV two 2ee iif he knew where 2he wa2 but got that 2ame me22age agaiin.
TA: ii wa2 ju2t about two me22age KK when you me22aged me

TC: MOTHERFUCK

TA: my thought2 exactly

TC: you gotta help me solbro
TC: HELP ME FIND KARBRO
TC: i need my diamond
TC: I NEED TO FIND HIM

TA: fuck calm down
TA: we’re all meetiing at my place iin the eveniing two di2cu22 what step2 we 2hould take two fiind our mii22iing friiend2

TC: thats not soon enough
TC: THATS NOT MOTHERFUCKING GOOD ENOUGH
TC: karbro could be dead
TC: HE COULD BE DYING
TC: i need to go now
TC: I NEED TO FIND HIM NOW

TA: 2hiit okay ju2t...
TA: take your hu2ktop wiith you
TA: that way we’ll be iin touch
TA: and we can tell you anythiing we fiind out that miight lead you two KK

TC: ...
TC: thanks motherfucker
TC: A BROTHER APPRECIATES THE MOTHERFUCKING HELP

TA: 2ure...
TA: ii’ll 2end KN after you two
TA: 2he2 pretty hardy and can move around iin 2unliight 2o 2he 2hould be okay
TA: and youre a fuckiing hiighblood 2o...
TA: you 2hould be fiine?

TC: motherfuck i dont care about me
TC: I ONLY UP AND CARE ABOUT MY MOTHERFUCKING BROTHER

TA: yeah ii kiinda got that

 

You close your husktop and captchalogue it. You check to make sure your motherfucking wicked juggling clubs are put away in your strife specibus like they’re supposed to be and grab a couple of your motherfucking wicked elixirs for the road. You don’t take your pies. You’re not hungry. They make your pan all fuzzy and you need it to be sharp and clear for this.

Karkat doesn’t like you eating them anyways.

It’s still day out, but you don’t give a motherfuck. You step out into the blistering sun and, keeping your eyes downcast on the ground in front of you, you begin to run.

 

==>

You’ve never seen Gamzee run and it’s a strange sight, to say the least. He’s always seemed so clumsy, but all his movements are so fluid and smooth that it really shouldn’t surprise you to note that when he runs, he looks like he’s flying.

His long legs stretch and move so fast that they hardly seem to touch the sand covered ground. Living on the beach has clearly taught him how to move across sand without trouble. He keeps his head down and his bangs shield his eyes, probably to hide them from the blistering sun.

You yourself find the sun’s warmth a comfort, but you can understand how others would think otherwise. When you’re not used to the heat, it can be a little too hot for comfort.

The desert that stretches out from the beach is where you built you hive, so Gamzee has to pass by your home to reach the inlands. Of course, for all you know, Karkat and the other friends of yours that have gone missing could have been taken out to sea, but the mainland is probably the best place to start your search.

Gamzee looks up and you think he sees you, but he shows no sign of stopping or slowing his pace, so you turn and start jogging, picking up the pace and settling in beside him. His speed is surprising, but not one you can’t keep up with. Truth be told, he could probably run faster if it was night.

“Hello, Gamzee,” you say pleasantly. “How are you today? Aside from the obvious.”

Gamzee huffs out a short, harsh sounding puff of laughter.

“Motherfuck, how does it look like I’m all up and motherfucking doing?” he says and it’s so soft you have to strain to hear it against the pumping of your blood in your ears.

“Yes, I had guessed as much,” you say. “I am also rather concerned about this unforeseen turn of events.”

Gamzee hums—it sounds more like a growl—to show that he heard you, but otherwise doesn’t say anything.

You take his lead and keep running in silence for a while.

You are just reaching the edge of the desert and beginning of the large, seemingly endless forest that Terezi lives in, when both you and Gamzee’s husktops beep in your sylladezx’s, alerting you of an incoming message.

“Let’s take a short rest in the shade of the trees and see what our friends have to say,” you suggest.

Gamzee growls in frustration, but agrees, and you slow to a stop.

You settle yourself on a large boulder and decaptchalogue your husktop. Gamzee also takes his husktop out, but he can’t seem to sit still and ends up pacing around you while balancing his husktop in the crook of his arm.

Opening trollian, you find that Sollux has opened a memo.

twinArmageddons [TA] opened a memo in re2cue mii22iion

twinArmageddons [TA] invited terminallyCapricious [TC] and grimAuxiliatrix [GA] to join the memo

TA: hey guy2
TA: found 2ome iinfo that miight iintere2t you
TA: accordiing two
thii2 2iite here over a thou2and troll2 dii2appeared la2t day

GA: This Is Most Concerning
GA: Does Anyone Have Any Idea What May Have Happened To Them?
GA: Also, How Do Over A Thousand Trolls Disappear In One Day?

TA: there are a few 2peculatiion2
TA: but no defiiniite an2wer
TA: 2ome people 2eem two thiink iit2 a 2iign of the apacolyp2e
TA: other2 beliieve that it2 an experiiment funded by the empire
TA: but no one really ha2 any fact2 two back up theiir claiim2

GA: I See

TA: anyway2 how2 iit goiing on your end?

GA: Gamzee And I Have Just Reached The Forest Where Terezi’s Hive Is Located
GA: We Will Progress To Her Hive I Think And See If There Is Anything To Discover There
GA: Perhaps There Will Be Some Clues To Lead Us To Her And Also Karkat And The Others

TA: that2 a2 good a plan a2 any
TA: alriight we’ll be iin touch
TA: EQ and FF ju2t got two my hiive
TA: AA ii2 gonna joiin you two
TA: dont a2k how 2he2 gonna get there and fiind you ii have no iidea

apocalypseArisen [AA] responded to memo

AA: i am waiting at terezi’s hive
AA: i arrived 0nly m0ments ag0
AA: while i am waiting i will begin investigating
AA: that way we will be able t0 m0ve straight 0n if my search d0es n0t reveal any results

TA: how the fuck diid you get to TZ’2 place 2o fa2t?
TA: actually you know what?
TA: ii dont wanna know
TA: good plan AA
TA: me22age me straiight away iif you fiind anythiing

AA: 0f c0urse

GA: Gamzee And I Will Move Out Then
GA: We Will See You At Terezi’s Then, Aradia?

AA: y0u might
AA: 0r y0u might n0t
AA: see me that is

apocalypseArisen [AA] ceased responding to memo

TA: what the fuck diid 2he mean by that?

GA: Your Guess Is As Good As Mine
GA: She’s Always Been A Bit Strange Since That Revenge Incident Between Her, Tavros, Terezi, And Vriska.

TA: true
TA: well
TA: talk two you later?

GA: Most Certainly.

grimAuxiliatrix [GA] ceased responding to memo

 

You close out of the memo and turn to Gamzee. He already has his husktop put away back in his sylladex and is looking at you expectantly. You stand and take a moment to stretch your limbs.

Then, you nod to your silent companion.

“Let’s go.”

 

==>

Ughhhhh...

Everything hurts.

Your knees are protesting, pressed against something cold, hard, and unyielding. Your arms are suspended above you, spread out on either side of you, and they ache from having been held up for so long. Your shoulders are screaming in protest, you probably have a hundred knots in them. You have a crick in your neck because your head has been hanging forward, putting a lot of strain on it. You think your hands are numb, because you can’t feel anything above your right elbow and left wrist. There’s a dull pain in your stomach.

What the fuck happened? you wonder.

The last thing you remember was talking to Gamzee. Then, you heard something happening outside. You left your hive, and then...

Everything blacks out.

That’s as far as you can remember.

Why can’t you remember the rest?

Why can’t you open your eyes??

A memory comes back to you then; red hot irons in the shape of your sign, right in front of your eyes. A searing pain that seemed to split through your pan. Hot. Too hot. Painfully hot. Burning.

The fuckers burned your eyes out.

The realization of that also makes you realize the pain you’re still in. You scream in agony. You scream and scream and scream but none of it makes the pain go away.

Eventually, you just pass out again from pain and exhaustion.

 

==>

You and Kanaya run through the motherfucking day to get to Terezi’s hive, reaching it just as that unforgiving sun is setting.

Your dark purple eyes flit around in search of Aradia and, when you find her, you can’t seem to find it in you to be surprised that she’s semi-transparent. All of your emotions and thoughts are fixated on finding Karkat, and that leaves little behind to care about the state of your friends.

Kanaya, evidently, doesn’t all up and feel the same as you. She gasps when she sees Aradia. Or maybe her reaction is because of the state of Terezi’s motherfucking hive. Maybe it’s both.

“Oh my gog,” Kanaya gasps. “What happened here?”

“Soomething bad,” Aradia says in her monotone voice laced with the rustblooded accent.

The hive has been nearly destroyed, completely pulled out of the tree it had been nestled in. There are strange claw marks on the bark of the tree and walls of the house. Stranger still is the rainbow colored blood splattered on the ground. You spot Terezi’s cane lying amidst the wreckage and walk over to pick it up.

“Aradia, what—?” Kanaya’s voice breaks and she has to swallow and start again. “What happened? Did you find anything?”

She looks somewhat startled by Aradia’s ghostly appearance, but she has apparently put those feelings aside for the time being, in order to deal with the motherfucking situation at hand.

Aradia turns in midair to observe the wreckage thoughtfully.

“Many came foor her,” she says, pointing to the bloody mess on the ground. “There was a struggle. Noone were killed, but Terezi was taken.”

Where was she taken?” you growl.

Aradia points silently to the trail of blood leading away from the hive.

You don’t even spare a glance at Kanaya before you are striding away, following the trail.

“What if the trail ends?” you hear Kanaya ask as she follows you.

“I think I will be able too foolloow based oon the spiritual pressure,” Aradia replies. “Assuming that the trail is still fresh, it shoould noot be too hard.”

You barely listen to them as they continue to speak. You are too focused, too intent on finding Karkat.

Your best. Motherfucking. Friend.

You can feel it. You’re getting closer to him. If you follow this path, you will find him.

 

==>

You follow the trail of blood through the night. Aradia doesn’t need to sleep, because she’s a ghost, and Gamzee doesn’t show any signs of drowsiness. You, however, are feeling exhaustion begin to set it.

Evidently, Aradia notices, because she stops and says, “Gamzee.”

Gamzee turns and you nearly recoil from the darkness in his gaze. But then it’s gone and you’re left looking at Gamzee, exhausted and beaten.

“Sorry, Kan,” he says softly. “Guess I forgot trolls need to sleep, huh?”

“That’s alright,” you answer. “Let’s check in with Sollux before we go to bed.”

Gamzee blinks.

“Oh, yeah, I almost up and forgot that motherfucker,” he says, still keeping his voice unnaturally soft.

All three of you take your husktops out of your sylladexs and sit in a small circle on the ground.

 

grimAuxiliatrix [GA] responded to memo

GA: Sollux We Are Here For Our Morning Check In

TA: great
TA: diid you fiind anythiing at TZ’2 place?

GA: Ah Yes We Must Have Forgotten To Tell You In All The Excitement

TA: that2 okay not liike iit wa2 iimportant or anythiing

GA: Do I Detect A Hint Of Sarcasm?

TA: of fuckiing cour2e not
TA: what make2 you thiink iim beiing 2arca2tiic???

GA: I Do Apologize
GA: I Seem To Have Misread You

TA: ...
TA: that wa2 2arca2m

GA: Oh...

TA: 2o what diid you fiind?

GA: Right, Of Course
GA: Terezi’s Hive Was In Ruins When We Got There
GA: It Had Been Pulled Out Of The Tree It Was In And Was A Wreckage On The Ground
GA: I Noted Several Strange Claw Marks On The Tree And Hive
GA: There Was Also Blood Of Every Color On The Spectrum Splattered Around On The Ground
GA: Aradia Says That Many Came To Capture Terezi And, While No One Was Killed, We Can Assume There Were Many Serious Injuries
GA: There Was No Sign Of Terezi Anywhere, So I Believe We Can Conclude That She Was Taken.
GA: Have I Missed Anything?

apocalypseArisen [AA] responded to memo

AA: n0pe

TA: 2o where are you guy2 now?

GA: We Are Currently Following A Trail Of Blood That We Have Reason To Believe Will Lead Us To Terezi

TA: 2weet
TA: we diidnt fiind much out on my end today
TA: FF and EQ were makiing two biig of a fu22 over how our friiend2 are mii22iing and all
TA: ii got them 2ettled down now and theyre workiing on traciing 2ome of the other mii22iing troll2 weve come acro22
TA: lookiing through troll log2 two 2ee iif there are any clue2 left behind

centaursTesticle [CT] responded to memo

CT: Captor I have found something.

GA: Equius, If I May Be So Bold, What Happened To Your Quirk?
GA: You Know, The Bow And Arrow You Put At The Beginning?

CT: I have resolved not to use it until such time as my moirail is returned to me.

TA: what diid you fiind?

CT: It might be nothing, but this site claims to know the whereabouts of several trolls living in one of the major cities.
CT: The acclaimed location is not far from the city itself.
CT: If Karkat’s profile can be believed, he lived in that city.

cuttlefishCuller [CC] responded to memo

CC: Looking at t)(e map, you t)(ree are pretty close to Tavros’s )(ive, w)(ic)( is just outside t)(e city.
CC: I would suggest c)(ecking out Tavros’s )(ive first and see if it looks t)(e same as Terezi’s
CC: T)(--EN you s)(ould move on to t)(e city

GA: I Find This Plan To Be Agreeable
GA: Does Anyone Have Any Objections?

TA: not from me

CT: Neighther from me.

CC: M--E --EIT)(TH--ER!

AA: i have n0 0bjecti0ns t0 this c0urse 0f acti0n

GA: Gamzee?

terminallyCapricious [TC] responded to memo

TC: dont care

terminallyCapricious [TC] ceased responding to memo

GA: Very Well
GA: Once We Have Rested, We Will Continue On To Tavros’s Hive And Investigate It
GA: We Will Report Our Findings To You Before Moving On To The City, Where We Will Investigate Karkat’s Hive As Well As This Location Equius Has Mentioned.

TA: 2ound2 good
TA: we’ll keep at iit for a liitle whiile longer over here ii thiink
TA: me22age u2 before you head out agaiin
TA: you know
TA: ju2t 2o we know youre 2tiill aliive

GA: But Of Course

TA: cool
TA: talk two you iin the eveniing then
TA: we’ll keep postiing our fiindiing2 iin thii2 memo

AA: i believe it w0uld als0 be wise if we had s0me0ne awake and available t0 be c0ntacted at all times 0n either side in case 0f an emergency
AA: i 0f c0urse will be the 0ne f0r 0ur side
AA: but what 0f y0u

CT: Today, I will remain vigil. I cannot rest knowing my moirail is missing

TA: iill do tomorrow

CC: Guess t)(at leaves t)(e next day for me!

TA: are you 2ure you can 2tay up AA?

AA: i understand y0ur c0ncern
AA: but it is n0t necessary
AA: i have n0t slept in a sweep

TA: ...
TA: okay...?
TA: the fuck doe2 that mean?

apocalypseArisen [AA] ceased responding to memo

GA: Trust Me On This One
GA: You Don’t Want To Know.

grimAuxiliatrix [GA] ceased responding to memo

 

You close out of the memo and return your husktop to your sylladex.

“Yoou shoould get soome rest,” Aradia says, her eerily empty white eyes resting on you.

“Yes,” you reply, because you cannot think of anything else. “Goodnight.”

“Goooodnight,” Aradia says.

Gamzee just grunts.

Well, you didn’t expect much else with how talkative he’s been lately.

That was sarcasm, by the way.

 

==>

You are woken in the middle of the day by Aradia.

“Wazzup?” you say sleepily, but she just puts a finger to her lips, signaling for you to shut your motherfucking trap and be quiet, before moving on to wake Kanaya.

You sit up and rub the sleep from your eyes as you begin to take in your surroundings, looking for anything unnatural. It’s not until you clear the fog in your head that you hear the strange growls and the sound of shuffling feet moving through the woods. Your eyes widen and you shoot Aradia a glance, but she shakes her head.

Kanaya is awake now, eyes narrowed and ears twitching as she listens intently.

Aradia nudges you and motions to the large tree you had slept under. You raise an eyebrow at her, silently asking, “You want me to climb that motherfucker?”

She nods and floats up to one of the lower branches.

You tap Kanaya gently to get her attention and then begin to climb. You make to stop on the branch Aradia’s perched on, but she shakes her head and motions for you to climb higher. You roll your eyes but comply. Arguing won’t do you any good here, except to attract the attention of whatever is shuffling around down there.

You reach one of the middle branches and lean against the trunk, reaching one long arm down to help heave Kanaya up.

From your branch, you have a clear view of the empty sky, red sun bearing down on Alternia. The brightness of it doesn’t bother you so much now as it did the first day.

“I’m gooing too goo doown and have a looook,” Aradia whispers, appearing beside you.

Kanaya gasps and clutches her chest at Aradia’s sudden appearance, but you don’t so much as flinch.

Aradia floats down towards the ground, but keeps herself hidden in the branches. She soon disappears from view and you lean back to look at the sky again.

“What’s down there, do you think?” Kanaya whispers to you.

“Don’t know,” you grunt back.

Kanaya hugs her knees to her chest and gazes up at the sky with you.

“I know I don’t seem it,” she says softly, “but I’m scared. I’m scared for myself, for our friends, for the entire planet. Something’s wrong. This wasn’t supposed to happen. My dreams didn’t say anything about this at all and... Gamzee. I’m so scared.”

Her voice breaks at the end and your bloodpusher twitches slightly with pity. You reach out to put one long-fingered hand on her shoulder and squeeze gently. It’s all the comfort you can give her. It’s not like you can up and promise that things are going to be okay, because you don’t motherfucking know.

Kanaya seems to get your message though, because she smiles sadly at you and places a slender hand over yours.

You sit in silence again for a while, before Aradia is suddenly back, eyes blown wide with fear.

“We have too get oout oof here,” she says, no longer bothering to keep her voice down. “Noow.”

“What is it?” Kanaya asks, fear creeping its way into her voice.

“I doon’t knoow,” Aradia wails, distressed. “They looook like troolls, but they’re noot mooving right and soome oof them are coovered in blooood and all oof them looook dead!”

Her sudden display of emotion is enough to get both you and Kanaya moving, scrambling back down the tree with Aradia breathing down your necks.

As soon as you are back on solid ground, you only wait long enough to catch Kanaya as she drops out of the tree before you are moving, sprinting down the trail of blood you had been following the night before.

However, it seems to you, that there is more blood than before.

What the motherfuck is going on?

You see the first one before Kanaya and Aradia and stop dead in your tracks. You aren’t sure what to call it. It looks like a troll, but its eyes are all black—as opposed to Aradia’s white ones—and its covered in blood. Most of the blood appears to be its own, but around its mouth and on its arms and hands are multiple colors.

It’s just standing there, staring vacantly off into the distance, but then Kanaya sees it and shrieks, and those horribly black eyes turn sharply on you.

You freeze, all of your muscles tense up.

Another joins the first, then another, and another, until there’s a whole pack of them on the path ahead of you.

Aradia whispers, “Run,” at the same time as the creatures lunge at you and you all scatter.

Kanaya whips out her lipstick/chainsaw and Aradia starts throwing things around like a trollian cyclone. You pull out your clubs and start smashing anything that comes close enough. When the first drop of blood splatters your clubs, it’s all you can do just to hang on to your mind as you feel the last threads of control slipping away.

You feel your lips twist into an insane grin as you smash and bash and crush the skulls of the trollish creatures. Their blood splatters the ground as you knock their heads clean off their bodies and it paints such a miraculous picture.

You stop at last when there isn’t anything left to hit. You blink away the red haze of your bloodrage and look around. There is blood everywhere. And Kanaya...

“Kanaya!”

She’s laying on the ground a little ways from you with one of the creatures sitting on her chest. Its... its eating her heart.

Her eyes are still open, disbelief evident on her face as her eyes lose their life and fog over.

You can feel your bloodrage coming back, but before it can consume you, a tree swooshes down and knocks the thing off Kanaya. You shake your head to clear it and rush over to her.

“Gam-zee...” she chokes on your name. “Kill - me. Please, kill me... before I - become like - them.”

Looking into her eyes, you can see it happening. They are fogging with death, but a liquid black is also pooling into them, covering the yellow and beautiful jade streaked grey of her eyes.

She grabs your hand and you feel her sharp nails digging into your palm.

“Horror-terrors,” she says desparately. “It’s... horrorterrors. I - feel them... in my head. Talking... controlling... want to use my - body. Gamzee... Karkat. You... must find - Karkat. He’s...”

But you never find out what Kanaya meant to say, because her voice cuts off and her head lolls back and her mouth opens in a silent scream as her body is overcome with violent spasms. She looks like she’s in so much pain, you can’t bear it.

“I’m sorry, Kanaya,” you say, raising your club.

You bring it down on top of her head as hard as you can. There’s a sickening squish as her head is crushed beneath your club. Your pusher wrenches painfully, but you know what you’ve done is right. Kanaya asked you to, and... she was in so much pain during those last moments of her life.

Without looking at the mess of jade blood, you pull your club away and captchalogue it again.

“Hooroorterroors...” Aradia breathes. “I never woould have guessed. This must mean that the Empress’s lusus, the Emissary, is dead.”

“Looks that way,” you say and your voice is surprisingly steady.

“We shoould leave, befoore anymoore oof them turn up,” Aradia suggests.

Let them come. you think. They’ll all feel my motherfucking wrath. They’ll all know the weight of my motherfucking clubs and despair as I paint the wicked pictures with their motherfucking blood.

You shake your head again because that is definitely not a train of thought you should be following.

Karkat. you remind yourself. Think of Karkat. You have to find him. That’s your first priority.

“Which way is Tavbro’s hive?” you ask.

Aradia points.

“The blooood trail we were foolloowing leads past Tavroos’s hive,” she says. “I woould have guessed that he was their next target, but after seeing what we have tooday, I’m noot soo sure anymoore.”

You move in the direction that she pointed, trying to think of a way to reply. Luckily, you don’t have to.

“Oonce we’re away froom this place, we shoould message Soollux and tell him what happened,” Aradia says.

“Yeah.”

You aren’t looking forward to that conversation.

 

==>

terminallyCapricious [TC] responded to memo

TC: kanayas dead

TA: excu2e me?
TA: plea2e dont tell me you ju2t saiid what ii thiink you saiid.

apocalypseArisen [AA] responded to memo

AA: unf0rtunately, its true
AA: h0wever
AA: her death was n0t in vain
AA: we gained s0me valuable inf0rmati0n fr0m it
AA: gamzee w0uld y0u be s0 kind as t0 relay kanayas last w0rds as y0u said them t0 me

TC: “horrorterrors. its horrorterrors. i feel them in my head. talking. controlling. want to use my body. gamzee. karkat. you must find karkat. hes...”
TC: then she started spasming and i killed her
TC: she asked me to
TC: before that

TA: ii... ii 2ee

AA: i have c0ncluded fr0m this that the empress lusus
AA: the emissary
AA: is dead
AA: and the h0rr0rterr0rs are using their newf0und freed0m t0 c0ntr0l the minds and b0dies 0f deceased tr0lls and reanimate them
AA: based 0n this assumpti0n
AA: i w0uld guess that t0 kill them y0u w0uld need t0 st0p all brain functi0ns
AA: smashing their skull appears t0 work
AA: as d0es kn0cking their head 0ff
AA: i assume a bullet t0 the brain w0uld d0 the trick as well
AA: th0ugh i have n0 way t0 pr0ve that the0ry at the m0ment

TA: AA... how can you 2eem 2o calm about thii2?
TA: KN i2 dead
TA: dont you feel anythiing about that?

AA: 0f c0urse
AA: i had n0 desire t0 see such a kind pers0n die
AA: i am very saddened by her passing
AA: h0wever
AA: i believe my em0ti0ns are dulled due t0 my 0wn death which happened quite s0me time ag0
AA: y0u remember

TA: ...
TA: you mean...
TA: that... that actually happened??

AA: yes

TA: oh my gog
TA: AA...

AA: it d0es n0t matter
AA: it happened
AA: its d0ne
AA: we need t0 f0cus 0n the present

TA: riight... 2orry.
TA: what do you thiink KN wa2 tryiing two 2ay about KK before 2he diied?

AA: as t0 that we have n0 idea
AA: he is imp0rtant
AA: that is my guess

TA: ii dont know
TA: iit 2eem2 two obviiou2
TA: you 2aiid the2e are trollii2h creature2 that have diied and been reaniimated by horrorterrors?
TA: do you thiink KK could be the cure?
TA: liike maybe he2 got 2ome kiind of p2ychiic block and the horrorterrors cant control hiim
TA: iit would explaiin why he wa2 taken

AA: either that 0r it was just a c0incidence and he is n0w 0ne of them

TC: dont you dare motherfucking say that
TC: karbros alive
TC: i can feel it

AA: well then we must g0 with s0lluxs the0ry
AA: assuming we are c0rrect
AA: i w0uld guess that karkat is being held s0mewhere secure
AA: s0mewhere hard t0 find
AA: s0mewhere away from civilizati0n

centaursTesticle [CT] responded to memo

CT: Nepeta’s cave.
CT: Of course.

AA: yes that is al0ng the lines i was thinking
AA: it is well hidden and difficult t0 access
AA: it is als0 cl0se t0 the city where karkat lives.

cuttlefishCuller [CC] responded to memo

CC: Satellite images of t)(e area surrounding Nepeta’s cave s)(ow an unusual amount of activity
CC: UV images also s)(ow t)(at t)(e activity is mostly being done around large bodies of water t)(at werent previously t)(ere
CC: --Eit)(er t)(at or its a bunc)( of dead bodies close toget)(er

TA: then iit mu2t be NP’2 cave

CT: Yes

TA: alriight we’ll head out and meet you guy2 there

AA: im n0t sure thats a g00d idea

TA: why the fuck not?
TA: KK’2 ju2t a2 much my friiend a2 he ii2 your2
TA: even more 2o!

AA: well f0r 0ne
AA: i am already dead and thus have n0 b0dy 0r brain f0r the h0rr0rterr0rs t0 c0ntr0l
AA: and f0r an0ther
AA: gamzee is a highbl00d with incredible strength
AA: perhaps even greater than equius based 0n what i have seen

CT: Well, he is a purpleb100d.
CT: The STRENGTH of purpleb100ds is said to be rivaled only by other purpleb100ds
CT: So it would make sense that he is much STRONGER than I.

TA: back on 2ubject
TA: how doe2 any of that have anythiing two do wiith why we cant come along two 2ave KK?!

AA: gamzee and i will be very difficult t0 kill
AA: h0wever
AA: the rest 0f y0u are left in a very vulnerable p0siti0n
AA: these creatures are much faster and str0nger than any 0f us
AA: gamzee al0ne is able t0 h0ld his 0wn against them
AA: i 0nly survived because i am already dead
AA: and y0u cann0t kill that which has already died

TA: ii can 2tiill fiight!
TA: ii have my p2iioniic2
TA: EQ ha2 hii2 mon2ter 2trength
TA: FF ha2 her hiighblood 2trength and durabiiliity

CC: Sollux is rig)(t!
CC: Don’t be so quick as to downgrade our own strengt)(!
CC: We can fig)(t just as well as t)(e rest of you!

AA: kanaya was als0 an extra0rdinary fighter
AA: yet she still fell t0 th0se m0nsters
AA: if y0u are determined t0 c0me
AA: i will n0t st0p y0u
AA: after all
AA: y0ur life is y0urs t0 thr0w away h0w y0u please
AA: i just did n0t wish t0 watch anym0re 0f my friends die while i am f0rced t0 sit back and watch
AA: and live
AA: and c0ntinue t0 live this half life
AA: al0ne and in misery

TA: yeah yeah 2hut up AA
TA: we’re comiing and that2 fiinal

CC: Y--ES!!

CT: Agreed
CT: We will come
CT: And lend our STRENGTH to you.

TC: ...
TC: thanks motherfuckers

 

==>

The next time you wake up, your body is still sore and aching, but the sockets where your eyes used to be do not burn anymore.

The room you are in is silent as death and you cannot hear anything outside its walls either. However, without your eyes, you find yourself strangely alert and more perceptive of your other senses. You can hear every little noise in the room; the soft plink of water dripping, the clink of your chains as you shift, the shhhh of your bare foot sliding across stone floor. You lift your head and breathe in deeply, smelling and tasting the room. It’s wet and dank, and it smells dark.

You’re in a cave, you realize. Using your feet to feel around yourself and holding onto the chains for balance, you scope out what little you can of the room. Your hands are chained to two stone pillars on either side of you, clasped near the ceiling to keep you slightly suspended on your knees. The wall is about two paces behind you, but you don’t know where the other three are.

As you allow yourself to relax and get a feel for the room, breathing in deeply to keep the scents and tastes coming, you recognize the scent and flavor of blood. At first, you think it’s your blood, but the taste isn’t quite right. If you had to describe your blood’s flavor, you would describe it as a sweet and yet tart. Like strawberries, perhaps. This blood isn’t that. The flavor is muddled and confused, like it’s a bunch of different bloods mixed together. A dash of tangy orange here, a splash of sweet honey there, a pool of cool water here, a pinch of sugary grape there. It’s all mixed up and confusing.

You finally come to the conclusion that you are being held in a torture chamber of some sort. You are surprisingly calm about it.

You always knew you were going to be culled. You have spent your entire life preparing for it, and you are not afraid. But... you don’t want to die. There are so many things you didn’t get to do. You wanted to be in a matespritship with Terezi; a moirallegiance with Gamzee. You dreamed of Auspistizing for Eridan, if he ever got a Kismesis that didn’t fit in that quadrant. You never told all your friends how much you cared; that you didn’t hate them, you pitied them.

You guess you’ll never get the chance to tell them now.

You hope everyone’s okay.

You are about to slip back into slumber when you hear it; the sounds of battle, unnervingly close. Your ears twitch and you sit up straighter, lifting your head to smell and taste the air again. At first, nothing smells different, it’s the same dark, wet, and dank scent and taste from before. Then, you are suddenly hit with the scent of blood so strong that it sends you reeling backwards, tugging at your chains.

HOLY FUCK THAT’S A LOT OF BLOOD!

You take deep breaths to calm yourself and try to focus on the sounds you’re hearing. There’s a lot of growling and screaming going on. It’s so loud, it sounds like it’s happening right next to you.

Oh gog, that’s Sollux’s voice.

You can hear him shouting, his lisp painfully clear. Then, his voice dissolves into wordless screams of agony.

SOLLUX!” you scream, and your voice echoes around the room.

You sob but continue to listen, Sollux is still screaming; he sounds like he’s in pain. You hear Aradia shriek in rage and pain when his scream cuts off suddenly. Then, you hear Feferi. Oh gog, Feferi. Her booming voice rises above all the others almost like the Emissary herself. There’s a loud crash and the ground shakes. Then you hear Equius, he’s screaming something, you think you hear him say “Nepeta” before his voice is cut off by a feral snarl that jars you. The echoing rrrrip that comes after that sends shivers down your spine. You don’t hear Equius’s voice again. Feferi is still screaming all of her highblood rage at whatever the fuck they’re fighting, but her’s is the only voice you can hear now.

Is she the only one left? Where is Gamzee? Why haven’t I heard his voice yet? Where is Terezi? Nepeta? Kanaya? Vriska? Eridan? Tavros? Why don’t I hear any of them?

You’re still straining your ears to hear them, unconsciously straining against your bonds, when you hear the door open with a swish and a crunch. You turn towards the sound, lifting your head and tasting the air.

Grapes? No... Grape... faygo?

“Motherfuck.”

“...Gamzee?”

 

==>

Your eyes are drawn to him the second you enter the cave. His cherry red, bright and warm, contrasts with the dark cold grey of the cave. His wrist are chained to two pillars on either side of him, spread and suspended above his head so that his knees just rest on the ground. He’s not wearing a shirt, and you can clearly see the six pale scars, three on each side, that you recognize as gill flaps. His horns are glowing red, a sign of extreme pain and blood loss. Your heart wrenches at the sight of him.

Then, he lifts his head and turns towards you, and you see the blank emptiness of his eye sockets. Your throat clenches and you have to clench your fists and breathe through your nose to keep from retching. His face is stained with red, his black hair falls long like a shadow across his forehead and down his neck.

He’s only been missing a week, but he’s already broken beyond repair. You can’t breathe for the pain of it.

“Motherfuck,” you gasp.

Karkat releases a soft breath.

“...Gamzee?”

It’s all you can do not to fly across the room and wrap him up in your arms. His voice is so soft, just barely a whisper of breath, it’s almost silent compared to the volume that you’re used to hearing spill out of his lips.

“Karkat,” you say instead, stepping into the room and letting the door close behind you.

Your eyes adjust quickly to the darkness and you see a flicker of a smile on Karkat’s face.

“Gam...” he says, and he sounds... lighter. “Come closer.”

He’s leaning towards you, you realize; as far as his chains will allow. He looks like he’s about to dislocate his shoulders just to get to you, so you comply, approaching him on soft steps, like he’s a wild animal you’re afraid of startling.

When you’re right in front of him, you drop to your knees and gently place a hand on each shoulder, pushing him back slightly.

“Careful, brother,” you say. “You’re gonna hurt yourself even more if you keep doing that.”

The smile that lights his face is beautiful and radiant and it makes you want to cry.

“Gamzee,” his voice, so soft, is even lighter now. He sounds free, like he’s already loose from his bonds.

He leans his head forward and you know what he’s searching for. You gently dip your shoulder to get it under his chin and he settles comfortably against you.

“What’s happened?” he asks, after a long silence. “I heard fighting.”

Your eyebrows shoot up.

“Damn, brother, you heard that?” you say. “We were all the way down the side of the motherfucking mountain and at least half a league away.”

“Guess losing my eyes heightened my other senses,” Karkat replies. “I heard Sollux, Aradia, Feferi, and Equius, but I never heard you. Or Kanaya, Eridan, Nepeta, Terezi, Vriska, Tavros... where’s everyone else?”

You stiffen. Their faces flash in your mind, eyes black and faces twisted with snarls. You watch as, one by one, they fall beneath your club.

“Dead,” you reply, softly. “All of them.”

Karkat pulls away, a mortified expression on his face.

“How...?”

“How did this happen?” you chuckle. “It’s because of the motherfucking Horrorterrors. Emissary is dead and the motherfuckers decided to take control of all the dead bodies. And you... you’re the cure, brother, the one thing they can’t control. That’s why they took you. Everyone else was just a motherfucking coincidence, a fatality in the search for you. Terezi, Tavros, Vriska, Eridan, and Nepeta... just a bunch of dead motherfuckers. Although Nepeta I’m not sure was a coincidence seeing as they up and used her motherfucking cave as a base. Me and Kanaya went searching for you. Aradia came and helped. Sollux, Feferi and Equius helped by searching for information. When we found you, everyone came to help free you. They all died.”

Karkat swallows with difficulty.

“How did you survive?” he asks. “How did you survive when everyone else died?”

“I helped,” says the familiar monotone of Aradia from the doorway. “Reunioon’s oover, I’m afraid. Feferi is dead. They’re cooming. Its time too goo.”

You nod and reach up with both hands, winding Karkat’s chains around your wrists. With a sharp yank, you bend and break the metal, freeing Karkat. With the chains no longer supporting his weight, Karkat falls forward with a startled yelp, but you are there to catch him. You pick up his impossibly tiny frame and carry him out the door.

You reach the base of the mountain with no trouble, but that’s where the simplicity of it ends.

Waiting for you at the bottom is a hoard of the undead, claws out and teeth bared.

“Hold on tight, little motherfucker,” you say to Karkat, shifting him to your back so your arms are free to fight. “Dia, guard my back.”

Aradia nods.

You take out your clubs and sink into a crouch, you’re so ready to fight. You won’t let anyone hurt Karkat ever again.

 

==>

You slump to the ground, defeated. You don’t have enough strength to fight and, without your eyes, how can you?

That fight was over before it began. The ending was always inevitable, you should have seen it from the start. You can hear Gamzee struggling to breathe through his torn and shredded windpipes. He threw you from him as soon as he realized he was going to be overcome. You felt like you flew through the air for ages before you sank into Aradia’s ghostly arms.

She’s keeping them away from you right now, but it’s a lost cause. You’re all going to die hear.

“Karkat,” Gamzee’s ragged voice cuts through your turmoil of thoughts like a knife.

“Don’t... don’t talk,” you whisper, choking on tears. This is it. He’s going to die here.

“No, brother,” Gamzee wheezes. “Gotta... gotta tell you somethin’.”

Your hand fists in his shirt and you feel his large, much cooler one engulf it. He takes a deep, ragged breath. It sounds painful.

“I’m... I’m pale for you.”

Your air escapes you in a sharp gust of breathy laughter that’s actually more of a sob.

“Why didn’t you tell me before, nookstain?” you sob. “I’m pale for you too.”

But Gamzee doesn’t reply.

It takes you a moment to realize why.

His hand is slack on yours, his skin is rapidly cooling even more than you though was possible, and his chest has stopped shaking with the effort to draw breath.

He’s dead.

It makes your heart lurch. It makes you want to scream and cry and claw and your face and tear at your hair. But it also makes you angry. It makes you taste a rage you didn’t know you were capable of. You can see again, somehow, but it’s all red and liquid, and you realize you’re not seeing with your eyes but with your blood. And this painful rage is burning through your veins and you just want to RIP AND TEAR AND DESTROY!

With a scream so loud it feels like your vocal chords will burst, you unleash your fury, your wrath, your hatred on the creatures who killed your beloved. You toss your head back and wail. You scream for Tavros, so gentle and timid. You scream for Sollux, the best and worst friend you ever had. You scream for Nepeta, the sweet soul that she is. You scream for Kanaya, the mother of your family of friends. You scream for Terezi, the girl you loved all your life. You scream for Vriska, she had her faults, but you knew she had kindness. You scream for Equius, you hated the asshole. You scream for Eridan, who died without ever knowing kindness. You scream for Feferi, the kindest, gentlest troll you ever met, but also the strongest. And... you scream for Gamzee. You scream for his idiocies and his rare moments of genius. You scream for his kindness and the cruelty he tried to hide. You scream for his laughter and the screams of rage he couldn’t escape. You scream and scream and scream for him.

You scream until you burst, until you feel your blood wetting your skin. Through it, you see the battlefield, and you see the bloody viens snaking up into the sky, twisting, turning and impaling dead trolls like a shishkabbob. They whip around you, making your long hair blow in every direction.

You know what to do.

You pull a smaller vine away from the rest and it coils around your finger like a snake. Then, you point your finger at Gamzee’s chest.

“You... you’re the cure, brother, the one thing they can’t control.”

The slitherbeast shoots off your finger and enters Gamzee’s body. You gasp as your head is suddenly filled with images of darkness, shadow, blood, death, rage, pain. So much pain.

You feel your blood seeping through him, pushing all the corrupted darkness out through the rip in his neck. His skin warms beneath yours as your heat floods through him, filling him with life.

When the last of the corruption is gone, the vine of red slithers out and winds around his neck, sealing it shut.

And Gamzee gasps in a deep, shuddering breath.

Chapter Text

You don't know why you agreed to this. You also have no idea why your moirail decided to bring along so many of her possessions, or why she thought that it would be a good idea to be doing what she is currently.

"Latula! Please be careful! I would hate for you to become injured whilst... riding your four-wheeled-device... around my hive," you sigh, exasperated.

"Relax Kan! Don't be such a buzzkill!", Latula shouts as she "hand-plants" down the upstairs hallway.

You watch as she flips onto her feet, and proceeds to grind her four-wheeled-device down the railing, completing what you're pretty sure is referred to as an "olly" as she lands.

"Watch this!", she exclaims as she speeds down the hall, disappearing momentarily.

When she returns, she is doing another one of those "hand-plant" things. She is going much too fast for your liking, and you know for a fact that no good can come of this. She is currently riding towards a table, and you rush forward to stop her, only to get tackled as she does a hand-stand across the table's surface.

The fall knocks the wind out of you, but you have no intention of giving her the satisfaction of knowing that.

"Shit, sorry! But you know, you wouldn't get hit if you didn't stand in my way!", she giggles, picking herself up.

You sigh again. Though you do share an immense amount of platonic pity for your moirail, you find it very difficult to put up with some of her antics. You get up off of the floor, as well, brushing off the imaginary dust in a grand, exaggerated gesture.

"I didn't hurt you, did I?", she bites her lip.

"No, I can assure you that I am perfectly alright. However, next time, I would appreciate a 'heads-up' as to what, exactly, you are planning to do, before you do it. While I am sure that most others find the practice of getting run over by their diamond and their diamond's four-wheel-device simultaneously to be quite amusing and entertaining, I, unfortunately, do not," you deadpan, giving Latula an annoyed look.

"Yes, lusus. Would you like me to come back to the hive an hour before curfew, as well?", Latula glares at you.

"Please, I am no where near to being your lusus. Firstly, I am not nearly as protective, as I still allow you to have a life. Second, I am the same age as you. Thirdly, I am most certainly not the boss of you, and I do not think that I could be if I were to try. Such are three of the many arguments that I could make against the fact that you always seem to state of my being your lusus. I am not trying to assume or usurp the role of your deceased dragonmother, I am merely trying to make sure that when you go back to your and Mituna's hive, you do so unscathed. The last thing that I could possibly wish for is to make your matesprit worry," you explain.

"Okay, I get it! No more practicing in your hive! Do you wanna play a game, now? Or, we could watch a show. Take your pick: I have 'The Bilious Slick Hypothesis', 'Universal Voyage', 'Physician Whatshisface', and 'X-Trolls'. Ooh, wait! I know! We can watch a movie! That'd be so rad! I brought a lot, too!", she beams, rummaging through her satchel.

You two end up watching 'X-Trolls'. You, personally, do not particularly care for the show, but Latula has a particular affinity for the characters, so you do not complain. Next, you switch to 'Physician Whatshisface'. This show interests you more than the former, for you enjoy the plot, and the tenth troll that they chose to be the main character is an excellent actor, in your opinion.

After that, you watch a few movies. Most of them are films that Latula enjoys more so than yourself, but it is hard to thoroughly enjoy many films that you have only ever seen once.

You look over at Latula. It would seem as though she has switched from cinema to video-games. This particular game is one her more violent favourites, one involving flesh-eating troll cadavers and quite a lot of bloodshed.

The game itself doesn't bother you in the slightest, because the aforementioned blood being shed is of all shades of the Hemospectrum, and therefore is not targeting simply one caste, but implying the fact that nothing can save any one caste from an apocalypse, were one to break loose.

You watch as she plays a character who's ultimate purpose is to kill as many of the corpses as possible, all the while drenching the in-game area in gore. She is very good at the game, in your opinion, and the few times that you have seen her play it with Mituna, the carnage lasted for hours at a time.

They have both tried to get you to play, but you much prefer to watch. You like to offer helpful suggestions, and you have long since stopped routing for the peaceful solution. You had learned long ago that zombified trolls traditionally can not be reasoned with.

Currently, the character on the screen is being chased down by an enormous swarm of the undead. You often ponder the physics behind this game, because you have no idea why it would make perfect sense to re-kill something that is already dead to begin with. Latula seems to like the video-game, despite the fact that it is scientifically inaccurate, so once again, you do not complain.

As her survivor crumples to the ground in death, Latula turns to you, asking cheerfully, "Hey Kan, you wanna play?"

"No, thank you. However, do not let me stop you. I simply enjoy watching," you smile at her.

Suddenly, you hear the beginnings of a storm outside, the booming thunder sounding overhead. Latula jumps in her seat, slowly turning her gaze up to the ceiling. Her expression is terrified, as expected. You learned the hard way that she is very much afraid of storms.

Gusts of wind sweep sheets of rain over the roof your hive. Your moirail whines, letting loose a barrage of curses at nothing in particular as she curls into herself. You sigh. You personally believe that a fear of something that is a natural occurrence is a might frivolous.

Although, you cannot complain about Latula's fear's irrationality, either, because your worst fear is that someone is going to slice of the soles of your feet off, put something nasty in their place (such as bees or nails, for example), and sew them back on. Sometimes, you think that you require therapy.

Another clap of lightning follows the thunder, illuminating your surroundings, before you realize that the power has gone out. Latula is throwing an absolute fit, pulling at her hair and making high-pitched screeches every so often. You try to pap her out of her hysteria, but she simply glares at you and continues.

You knew that any physical attempts to calm her would most likely be futile, so you leave her for a moment. You head into the food preparation block. Once there, you flock to the upper cabinet where you keep all of your power-outage supplies. You grab candles, flashlights, and headphones, and return to the recreation block.

Your moirail is still freaking out, so you hand her the headphones, as well as a flashlight. She plugs them into her device and blasts some sort of music. You then proceed to set up the candles and light them, which I hard for you because holding fire makes you very nervous.

After that, you seat yourself beside her again. She has her eyes closed, clearly trying to block out the world.

You wish that you could help her further, but you would rather it if she kept the headphones in, and she doesn't normally respond well to physical contact anyway, unless she initiates it. You feel the same way, but mostly only towards people who make you uncomfortable.

Latula pacified for the moment, you pull out your cellular device and contact her matesprit.

After a few pleasantries, your thoughts are confirmed. Mituna does not seem to have any power, either. He advises that Latula should stay with you, and informs you that his moirail is present, as well. You tell him to say 'hello' to Kurloz for you, and you both say your goodbyes.

When you look back at your moirail, she is asleep. You smile at her, turning off the music. It is a little amusing to you that, after all of the panic, she can still sleep soundly.

You pull out a book, one of her favourites, and begin to read. The storm carries on, but Latula could not possibly care less, caught on the peaceful plethora of sleep.

Chapter Text

CT: D--> Nepeta
CT: D--> Are you there?
CT: D--> I require your assistance

AC: :33 < *the mighty hunterrorist wonders what ct could pawssibly need her help fur?*

CT: D--> I uh... may be in need of a meowrail
CT: D--> Fuck
CT: D--> *Moirail

AC: :3o < Equihiss!
AC: :33 < er... *ac scolded*

CT: D--> I apologize. Please do not mimic my actions and use such 100d language.
CT: D--> Can you come over?
CT: D--> I require your presence.

AC: :33 < *ac is always happy to help out her meowrail!*
AC: :33< be ofur lickedy split!

arsenicCatnip [AC] ceased trolling centaursTesticle [CT]

 

You wonder what your silly moirail has gotten himself into this time that requires you to come over and help. Probably something silly.

But that’s okay, because you love seeing your moirail, and you admit to using every excuse you can think of to get him over to your hive. He is just absolutely your favorite person ever.

You step out of your cave—that is also a hive but still mostly just a cave—and into the warm Alternian night. You point yourself north-east—in the direction of your moirail’s hive—and begin jogging, soon dropping to a lope on all fours. You run along the edge of the mountains where your hive is located, following the well-worn path that will lead you through the mountains, down to the coast, and over the rock cliffs to the place your diamond chose to build his hive when he was a grub.

When you get to his hive, you ring the visitor alarm and step inside, like you own the place. You practically live here anyways.

Arthur, Equius’s lusus, meets you at the door as you’re slipping your shoes off (Equius has this thing about wearing shoes in his hive. He doesn’t like it). You think that’s a little strange; usually, Equius would come meet you himself. Stranger still, Arthur is looking really anxious. He keeps shifting his weight from one hoof to the other and wringing his hands.

“Hi Arthur!” you purr. “Where’s Equihiss?”

His only reply is to further wring his hands and wave for you to follow him down the hall. Confused, you trail after him, wondering what the hell is going on.

Where is Equius?

Arthur leads you through the large hive to Equius’s respiteblock. He stops in front of it and turns to face you, still looking anxious. He opens and closes his mouth a few times, like he wants to say something to you, but can’t quite find the words. Then, he seems to give up and simply motions for you to go inside the block. You pause just long enough to give him a confused look, before opening the door and stepping inside.

Equius is lying flat on his back in the middle of his large pile of robot parts in the middle of the room. He’s facing towards the door, but his head is tipped back over the other side of the pile, so you can’t see it. In fact, his feet are pretty much the only part of him you can see, the pile is so high and you are so small.

It should also be known that your moirail is HUGE. Barely six sweeps old and he’s already almost the size of an adult troll. Next to you—surprisingly small for your age and bloodcaste—he’s a giant. On top of that, you swear he grows an inch every time you see him—which is three or four times a week. He always jokes that you’ve shrunk, but you both know he’s the one who’s grown.

Looking at the pair of you, most would assume he was the older troll. The truth of that matter is that you’re almost three perigees older than him.

You approach the pile, but Equius doesn’t stir. You wonder if he fell asleep.

“Equius?” you call softly, removing your cat-puns for once.

“Nnngh,” is his reply.

It’s not a sleepy ‘nnngh’ either. It...

Actually, it sounds like he’s in pain.

You nearly have a full blown panic attack right then and there, at the mere thought of your moirail being in pain. But you take a few deep breaths and reel in your panic. If he really is in pain, he needs you to be strong right now.

Cautiously, you sniff at the air—to see if the scent of his room is off—and then nearly fall over reeling backwards because holy shit that’s a lot of blood and how the hell didn’t you notice it before?!

Equius finally stirs, and it’s only to lift himself off the pile a few inches. Just enough for him to see you.

Of course, this also means that you can see him.

You almost wish you couldn’t.

You are pretty sure your eyes are as big as nutrition plateaus right now.

The entire right side of his head and face is coated with thick, indigo blood. He’s not wearing his sunglasses and you can see that his sclera have turned slightly orange, meaning he’s winding down from a bloodrage. His horns look strange, and it takes you a moment to realize why.

He broke a horn.

Literally. Snapped it clean off. Only a little under half remains.

“What the fuck, Equius?!” you hiss, eyes narrowing into cat-like slits. “What did you even do to yourself?!”

Equius frowns at you blearily.

“Please refrain from swearing, Nepeta,” he scolds you. “It is not becoming for someone of your caste to use such language.”

Your hiss becomes a snarl.

It’s actually kind of amazing that he can think about something as trivial as swearing when he’s covered in his own blood and obviously in a lot of pain. But you are just not in the mood for this.

“I will use whatever fucking language I fucking please, thank you very fucking much!” you growl. “I am entitled to say ‘fuck’ if I fucking want to, and you are in NO position to tell me I can’t!!”

Equius drops his head back down on the pile, moaning a low, pained, “Fuck it.”

It’s almost embarrassing how fast your anger evaporates, but you’ve long since stopped being embarrassed about anything with Equius. There’s just nothing for you to hide from your moirail.

You grab a towel and some bandages and clamor up onto the pile. Equius acknowledges you with a little twitch of his hand, but keeps his eyes shut as you maneuver his head into your lap. You decaptchalogue a bottle of water and some disinfectant wipes you use for cleaning cuts and scrapes you get while hunting. You’re not really sure how to go about treating a serious injury like Equius’s (you should actually call a mediculler, but they scare you half to death), but cleaning it is always a good first step.

Wounds usually look better once you’ve cleaned them anyways.

“This might hurt,” you caution.

Equius looks up into your eyes, his all soft and trusting in a way that makes your pusher do backflips in your chest.

He nods, ever so slightly, and grits his teeth.

You wet the towel with water and run it gently up the length of his horn, washing away the blood that’s there. You’re being as gentle as possible, but Equius still lets out a little hiss of pain. You apologize with your eyes, but keep going, washing around the wound. It takes a long time, because his blood is thick and viscous, and most of it has dried into this sticky mess. When his horn is entirely clear of blood, you use a disinfectant wipe to clean the actual wound itself. A surprising amount of blood comes away after the first wipe, and it makes you panic for a second, but on the second wipe, it comes away clean.

Your tried and tested theory about wounds looking better when their clean doesn’t fail you.

It’s a clean break and, aside from the initial wound, there aren’t any additional cracks or scrapes down the sides of his horn, which is good, because those can be a bitch to deal with and almost never heal right. You let out the breath you didn’t realize you were holding and move on to bandaging the wound.

“The worst part’s over,” you tell Equius, smiling gently at him.

Equius replies with this weak little purr.

You giggle and purr back at him.

You wet the towel again and begin the next task of cleaning his face. There’s a lot of blood clotting in his hair, but you’ll get at that later, when you can coax him into the ablution trap. First thing’s first, and that’s cleaning his face—which also has an absurd amount of thick, partially dry blood coating it.

Cleaning his face is a lot more comforting than cleaning his horn was, and Equius ends up purring like a motorboat under your ministrations, something he’s usually so reluctant to do.

“So,” you say, after a long moment of silence, “are you gonna tell me what happened?”

Equius stops purring and sighs softly, like he was waiting this whole time for you to ask that, but kept hoping you wouldn’t.

“How do I usually get injured?” he says softly.

You hate it when he answers your questions with a question and he knows it, but he still does it anyways. You think he’s just too embarrassed to say it.

“Did you give back just as good as you received?” you ask in a playful tone, trying to relieve the tension that’s soaked in to the moment.

“Of course,” Equius scoffs.

You smile and kiss his forehead, now that it’s clear of blood. Equius catches your hand and brings it to his lips, kissing it. He twines your fingers together and you love how, even though his hand is so big it practically envelopes yours, the spaces between his fingers feel like they were made for you.

“You are a crazy, blueblooded powerhouse,” you say, “but you’re my crazy, blueblooded powerhouse.”

Equius’s smile—something that’s so rare, even you can count the number of times you’ve seen it on one hand—lights up his entire face.

“Pale for you,” he murmurs, holding up two fingers, splayed open in half a diamond.

“Pale for you too.”

Chapter Text

Your name is Cronus Ampora, and you are too drunk on autumn leaves and candy-corn for your own good.

Tonight is Halloween -- the best night of the year, in your opinion -- and your excitement practically shoots out of your footsteps as you pass yet another costume shop. You make sure to take a splashing step through a puddle and kick through a clump of leaves on the sidewalk, effectively covering your boots with yellow and red foliage as you stroll up to your matesprit's building.

A cold gust of wind blows away any leaves that were previously in neat piles, rustling your hair and bringing a promise of the harsh winter to come. You turn left when you arrive at the streetward-side of the building, going into the alleyway, instead.

You walk another five paces or so, before spinning on your heels and jumping up. You catch the ladder of the fire-escape with ease (thanks to your considerable height-attribute) and pull it to the ground. You ascend.

You can barely contain your happiness, taking the steps two-at-a-time. You're surprised none of the neighbours hear the racket you're making. You stop when you get to Kankri's window, peering inside.

Your matesprit is cleaning, of course, duster in hand as he tries to reach one of the numerous, gigantic bookshelves that lines the walls of the room. You aren't even really sure how he gets to the books up there in the first place.

It looks like Kanny has also exchanged his normal red sweater for an orange and black one. It's funny, you didn't think he cared that much about Halloween.

You run up to the next balcony and speed-dial his number.

"Hello?", Kankri picks up.

You've noticed that he never greets you by name when he answers the phone. Sometimes you think he doesn't even check the caller ID.

"Hey, babe," you grin, definitely not almost bursting into a fit of giggles. You are way too suave for that.

"Hello, Cronus. It is nice to hear from you -- as always -- although I have to wonder why you are calling so early. As I recall, we aren't supposed to be spending time together for another three hours. However, please do not interpret that as my saying that I do not wish to talk to you, as of course that is not the case," he begins.

"Don't worry about it. You know there's pretty much no way you could get on my bad side, and even if you did, I'd forgive you as soon as you flashed me those cherry-red-"

"Cronus!", your matesprit warns, most likely appalled.

"Eyes! I was gonna say eyes!", you defend.

"I'm sure you were," Kankri deadpans.

"Hey, instead of trying to reach that impossible bookshelf, why don't you open your window?", you suggest, snickering a little.

You hear him pause for a few minutes, before seeing the window open and watching Kankri look out. He sighs, "What, pray tell, does this have to do with the reason you are calling me?"

"Step outside," you command ominously.

Kankri hesitantly obeys, rolling his eyes as he gracefully slides his slender legs out of the window. As soon as he is fully outside, you yell something, probably along the lines of "boo", but a little too incoherent to be properly labeled.

His reaction was to let out a high-pitched squeak, and jump about three feet in the air. You finish laughing and wiping the tears from your eyes while you make your way down.

Kankri doesn't look amused in the slightest, his hands on his hips as he glowers at you. If looks could kill, you would probably be a pile of ash on the concrete, long before now. You don't let him know how terrifying that look is, though, and simply wrap your arms around his waist, shaking off a bit of your laughter.

"Yes, indeed. 'Laugh it up' as they say, Cronus. Just be prepared for the extensive lecture I am about to give you, which includes details on the thoughts and feelings of others and also could contain mentions of cardiac arrest. Please inform me of any new triggers you may have developed before I continue," he sighs.

"Well for one thing, that death-glare scares the shit outta me, Kan. You might wanna think about usin' some less scalding looks on me if you want me to stick around," you joke.

Kankri does not take that as well as you'd hoped. His eyes go wide and he's speechless, before he looks away. There is obvious hurt and regret in his eyes, and he starts off on one of his many nervous habits: chewing his bottom lip.

Well, shit. You struck a nerve. You always knew Kankri was insecure -- even before your matespritship, when you were just friends -- but it had only really occurred to you just how bad it had gotten when the two of you started dating.

At first, he was the same. He talked normally, showed interest in what you had to say, and gradually accepted your advances. Then, one day, you said something about leaving him for someone who was less prudish, as a joke. You never even thought it had gotten him, until you came over the next time and he was all over you.

He wasn't clingy, he was just really flirty and was always touching you. You didn't necessarily mind, but it just wasn't like him at all. When you asked him about it, he had gotten a sad, far-off look on his face -- just like now-- and had mumbled about how he thought you had been serious about actually leaving.

Sometimes, you are such an asshat.

You take Kankri's face in your hands and force him to look at you. He's practically shredding his lip to pieces with those teeth, so you do the only thing you can think of to distract him. You kiss him.

Normally, your matesprit is very responsive to kisses, and will more often that not make little chirring sounds. Instead of happy chirrs, though, you hear a soft little sob, before you feel his wiry, little arms around your middle and his lips leaving yours.

He rests his forehead on your chest, murmuring apologies into the fabric. You try again, hugging him this time and wiping away the tears when he finally looks up at you.

"It's okay, Kankri. It was just a joke, I'm not actually breaking up with you, alright? It's gonna take a lot more than your death-glares to get rid of me," you smile, brushing the hair away from his eyes.

He nods. You've never really asked about his past relationships, but you have a feeling he was in an abusive one before you came along.

"Thank you. Now if you don't mind, I require a minute to... compose myself," he frowns.

"Take all the time you need, Chief. You're definitely worth the wait," you say honestly.

He seems a little thrown off, and steps through the window before closing it and drawing the drapes. When Kankri is upset, he tends to overlook things, which is why the curtains only get shut halfway. You peek in, once again watching him like the stalker you are.

Your matesprit sits on the floor, taking deep breaths and closing his eyes, before standing and opening the window.

When you enter his apartment, you are surprised to find it decorated. You never took Kankri as someone who would celebrate Halloween, but you're excited to find just the opposite. There are orange and black streamers taped neatly, high up on the walls, as well as around the furniture. The usual painting of waterlilies in a pond is replaced by one of a hill with a decrepit tree under the full moon. There also seem to be poison apples and small gourds littered around the living room.

Kankri watches as you enter, taking in your reaction with a smile.

"Wow, these decorations look great! I didn't realize you were so into Halloween, Kan -- you seemed pretty bored when we were makin' plans," you recall.

"Thank you for your appreciation, Cronus. By the way, while disinterest may have seemed the case, in reality, I have always had an odd liking for the holiday. Though I am not quite sure why, it has always held a particularly special place in my heart," he explains.

You take your matesprit's hand, squeezing it gently.

"I didn't mean to make you upset. Are you okay?", you ask.

"While I thank you for your consideration, Cronus, I can assure you that I was merely a little triggered. I believe that I am partly at fault for this happening, as I never did get around to informing you that the mention of a 'break-up' is one of my triggers. I do feel that you handled the situation well, given the fact that you did not know how to respond, and I must further apologize for not educating you on what to do in a scenario in which you trigger me again. Another course of action which could potentially be beneficial to the both of us would be if you could inform me of your triggers, as well, in order to prevent a reversal of what happened moments ago," Kankri suggests.

"Babe, my only trigger is seeing you upset, especially when it's my fault," you sympathize.

"There is no need to be worried, Cronus, although I must insist that you do not insinuate something like that again unless you really mean it."

"You got my word, Kankri."

"Very well, then. Just so that you are aware, I intend to hold you to that promise," he tries.

"Oh, I'm counting on it!", you assure.

Kankri looks at you sceptically, before brushing it off, "Shall we move on, then? I had not expected you to be here for a few more hours at least, but since you are, perhaps we could do another activity together? It is my understanding that we had arranged to watch Halloween-themed movies, but I believe there are other things we can do, as well. For example, I did have a desire to carry out a tradition the humans are quite fond of, which involves taking a pumpkin and carving its surface into a face, if I am correct. It does sound like it could be enjoyable. However, this does remind me that you never did tell me why you have arrived so early in the first place. Would you care to explain?"

You like the fact that Kankri doesn't even question the fact that you were out on the fire-escape. He probably got used to it after you crashed through the ceiling last year. Of course, there was also the time you woke up under his bed, neither of you having any memory of how you got there.

"Oh, actually, this is perfect. I came over 'cause I wanted to do something before we started the movies. I figured, since it's dark out now, we could do my thing first? After that, yeah, pumpkin-carving sounds great! Are you in?", you inquire.

"Am I allowed to ask what I am being volunteered for?", Kankri wonders aloud.

"Nope!", you exclaim, before you grab your matesprit by the wrist and whisk him down the stairwell and into the street.

You lead him out of the bustling city streets and onto the back roads, until the busy town dissipates into rolling country hills. It's colder, now that the sun is down, and Kankri shivers beside you. You guess, in all of the hurrying, you forgot to grab his jacket, so you shrug off your own leather coat and place it delicately over your matesprit's shoulders. He certainly appreciates it, if the pleased hum from the back of his throat is anything to go by.

You turn down another road, the gravel crunching under your feet, and stop at the huge, iron gates, the sign above indicating that this is, indeed, a cemetery.

Kankri's eyes go wide with what is most likely horror, and stares at you. You just smirk back, offering up an unspoken challenge.

He seems to take the bait, sighing in exasperation, "Why did you think this was a good idea, Cronus? Out of everything else, did it really have to be this? You do realize that this is highly disrespectful, and that the dead are buried in this place and others for that exact reason. This is a place of eternal rest, after all, and it should be treated with the utmost seriousness and dign- are you even listening to me?"

"Kan, all I'm asking for is ten minutes. That's it. Then we can go back to your place and do whatever your little heart desires," you promise, waggling your eyebrows at the end.

Kankri groans, frustrated. You know he doesn't want to go in there. You snigger as your next plan comes to you.

"Hey, it's fine if you don't wanna go in there, but I'm gonna do it. I guess I'll see you in ten minutes... If I survive that long...", and with that you step past the wrought-iron gates without so much as a glance backward.

Kankri is by your side in seconds, clutching your arm with fierce determination. It makes you chuckle, just a little.

You walk through row upon row of tombstones so old the names are all practically worn off. You couldn't read the inscriptions if you tried. Kankri tugs you along the whole way, jumping when the wind picks up and rustles the leaves. At one point, you purposefully step on a twig, which scares the living daylights out of him.

All-in-all, the two of you make it out of the cemetery after ten minutes, completely unscathed.

"See? Now that wasn't so bad, was it?", you drawl.

"I have to say, that was admittedly not as bad I would have originally imagined, but altogether quite unpleasant," your matesprit acknowledges.

"Okay, I've had my fun. Let's head home."

The walk back to Kankri's apartment is uneventful, save for the mild scolding you get for "attempting such a radical stunt", as he put it. He was pretty damn cute, though, jumping at all of the noises like a paranoid meowbeast.

As soon as the two of you make it back, you shut the door with your heel and lock it, before turning to your matesprit and pecking him on the lips. You can tell he was waiting for that, even though he gives you a look that seems to say 'are you serious?'.

Kankri takes the newspaper from yesterday and practically covers the floor with it. He then proceeds to get the two pumpkins on the table and sets them down on top of the newspaper. After that, your matesprit takes out two enormous knives from a drawer, before twirling them both in his hands gracefully, and handing one to you. You take it gingerly, because you didn't realize he knew how to scare the shit out of you like that.

He beckons for you to sit with him on the newspaper, and you do.

"So, Kan, how's this supposed to work?", you question.

"First of all, you must carve off the top, where the stem is, in order to scoop out the insides," Kankri informs you, sounding a little unsure himself.

"This sounds like a Subjugglator's wildest wet dream," you deadpan.

Kankri wrinkles his nose at that, "I am simply not going anywhere near that joke, does that sound fair to you?"

You just laugh at him.

He rolls his eyes at you again, before taking hold of his knife and stabbing it into the top of the gourd at an angle. He saws the blade up and down, making a circle. You try to follow his movements as best you can, but eventually you give up and watch the way his normally uncoordinated hands move in smooth strokes.

His hand snakes around the stem of the pumpkin, before he pulls, making the top come off like a jar. He also notices you having trouble and takes the top off of your pumpkin, as well.

Inside the gourd is a yellow-orange goo, with white seeds mixed throughout. You take some of the slime on your finger.

"Hey, babe, do you dare me to eat this stuff?", you ask, swirling it with your finger.

"While I do not possess any control over the situation, I would advise against it, love," Kankri breathes.

You ignore his warning and pop the weird, seed-filled goop into your mouth.

The taste alone makes you want to gag, never mind the slimy texture. It is probably the single-most disgusting thing you've ever had the misfortune to put in your mouth. This however, does not deter you from telling Kankri how 'delicious' it is.

"Kan, come on, you have to try this! This stuff could be the single-most delicious thing I've ever had the fortune to put in my mouth!", you beam.

"Cronus, I can see the distain you already hold for it all over your face. I've heard from many people that the insides are not to be trifled with," he laughs.

"Nyeh, worth a shot," you shrug, scooping the substance out of your pumpkin in mirror of Kankri.

The two of you continue to scoop the weird insides out of the gourds, until the clock strikes midnight.

"Y'know, if we hurry, we could probably still catch the sale going on at the costume store down the street. I bet we could even find something tight and lacy for you to slip into before the doors close!", you smile.

Kankri responds by crossing his arms and throwing pumpkin-slime at you. The orange goo hits you straight in the face, and your matesprit erupts into a fit of giggles. You retaliate by wiping the stuff off, before picking up two handfuls of it and dropping it on his head.

Back and forth, the two of you chuck the slimy substance at each other and laugh, until there is no more left and you have your matesprit pinned under you.

Kankri struggles a little, and manages to lean upward enough to kiss your lips. You both taste like pumpkin-innards, and the two of you decide to settle down in your messy clothes and watch a whole night's-worth of horror movies.

Chapter Text

You first meet him at a school-run Halloween party, the week before Halloween. You’ve never seen him before, but the school’s pretty big and you’re not much of a social person anyway. John probably knows him, but that asshole of a school president disappeared almost the moment he dragged you through the grand, double doors and into the ballroom. You were left to curl up on one of the comfy couches tucked away in the corner and avoid being noticed.

Obviously, that plan doesn’t go so well for you.

You manage maybe ten minutes before someone notices you sitting alone in your corner and decides to come over and talk to you.

You think he’s supposed to be dressed as a skeleton. He’s wearing a black body suit with white skeleton bones printed on the front and back, purple shorts, and purple combat boots. The top half of his face is covered by a white skull mask, and the bottom half is painted to look like a skull. His black hair is long and wild; tangled curls that weave around his face in a way that’s elegantly chaotic. He’s freakishly tall, but his body is built much the same as yours: slight shoulders, slim hips, long arms and legs. On you, it looks wiry and feminine. On him, however, it’s long and powerful, like a snake coiled to strike.

He flops down on the couch next to you, left leg tucked up beneath the right and one long arm draped over the back of the couch, his body angled just slightly towards you. You press yourself further against the arm and glance around the room, finding all possible escape routes. It’s an automatic response to strangers coming up to you, and only takes you a second. Then, your gaze settles on him.

“Yo,” he says, face splitting into a lazy grin.

Your eyes flit around the room again, reaffirming that your escape routes are not being closed off.

“...Hi?” you reply awkwardly.

You’re not entirely sure what to say to him. You have no idea who he is, even, but still here he is, sitting next to you. Out of all the couches he could have flopped down on, why did he have to choose yours? Out of all the people he could have talked to, why did he choose you? It’s not like you’re even that interesting of a person. You’re not even attractive. You’re five foot, four with a temper that’s four times your size. Why the hell would anyone want to talk to you?

You search the crowd for John, hoping to find him and have a reason to get away from this stranger. Why did he even drag you to this stupid party if he was gonna ditch you the second you got here? When you do finally find him, you are gonna give him a piece of your mind. A very loud piece.

“... ain’t it?”

You startle and look back at the stranger sitting next to you. He’s staring at the crowd without really seeing them, a glazed sort of look in his dark eyes.

“Huh?” you ask.

His eyes shift and focus on you, the lazy grin is back.

“I said, ‘bitchtits party ain’t it?’”

“Uh, sure... Something like that.”

“It motherfucking sucks they don’t have any beer, but what-the-fuck-ever,” he says as he pulls a Hershey’s kiss out of his pocket—how the fuck do those pants even have pockets—unwraps it, and pops it in his mouth. “It’s Halloweek, there’ll all up and be plenty of other bitchtits parties to get my motherfucking drink on.”

You blink at him.

“You’re going to spend Halloweek drinking,” you deadpan.

He throws back his head and laughs. He’s got a nice laugh, you think, deep and rumbling, and that thought makes you irritated.

“Hell yeah, motherfucker!” he crows delightedly.

Your anger, which has been lying dormant throughout the entire party, bubbles back to the surface. You’re not even quite sure why the demon that is your burning hatred for everything in the world has been roused, but you know it has something to do with this guy. There’s something about him that pisses you off to no end and, at the same time, makes you want to curl up with him and tell him everything that’s wrong with your life.

What the hell is wrong with you?

He’s still grinning that lazy grin at you when you come out of your self-induced stupor enough to realize you never replied. You also realize you’re glaring, but he doesn’t seem to notice or mind.

He tilts his head slightly to the side, as though waiting for you to reply. You clench your jaw, because if you open it, all the things you should never be saying at a public party will come tumbling out of your mouth.

He leans in slightly to poke your cheek with one slender finger.

“’Can tell you’re up and wanting to motherfucking say something,” he says, and his tone is somehow serious, something you never would have guessed was possible for him, “so why don’t you up and motherfucking say it?”

You narrow your eyes even further and bat his hand away from your face, as though swatting a fly.

“Fuck you,” you growl, thankfully managing to keep your volume from rising. “The fuck would I wanna talk to a fuckass like you?”

He chuckles and shrugs.

“The hell if I know, motherfucker,” he says. “But I got my know on as to when a motherfucker wants to all up and say something, so why don’t you up and tell this motherfucker what’s all up and addling that miraculous pan of yours?”

You stare at him, sort of stunned.

“There were so many things wrong with that fucking sentence,” you tell him. “How the fuck does a person manage to fuck up grammar that much? And also, why the hell are you even here? Out of all the people you could have chosen to talk to at this stupid party, why did you have to choose me? I didn’t even want to come to this fucking party, but my stupid shit asshole of a friend, Mr. Popularity, dragged me here! And then what does that fucking shitguzzling asshole do? He fucking ditches me! Which leaves me all alone to fend off assholes like you! What the fuck do you evenwant from me??

“It’s not like I’m even all that interesting, I haven’t done anything worthwhile in my entire fucked up existence! It can’t be because I’m attractive because I’m not! What the fuck is there to see in me?! Aside from my fucking red-eyes, which are weird as fuck and not at all pretty, there’s nothingnotable or memorable about me at all! Unless you wanna count my short as fuck temper which is about four times my size, but who the hell wants to remember that? Who the fucking hell wants to remember a guy like me?! NOBODY THAT’S WHO!!”

You flop back against the couch, breathing heavily and trying to reign in your temper, which had gotten a little out of control there at the end.Fuck. You hadn’t meant to tell him so much.

You rub at your eyes with your palm.

“Sometimes I just wish I was never even born.”

Suddenly, there’s a very large, cold hand encircling both of your wrists and another holding your chin, tugging your face around to look at the stranger who has suddenly gotten very close to you.

Your eyes are blown wide in fear, but he doesn’t do anything other than hold your there, his eyes locked on yours. You notice that his eyes are a deep blue that’s almost purple, but that could just be the lights playing tricks on you.

“Never wish that,” the stranger whispers, his breath fanning over your face.

“Wha—?”

The lights blink on and you are blinded by the sudden brightness. You squeeze your eyes shut and bring a hand up to rub at them, forgetting for a moment that they’re restrained by the stranger, but there’s no resistance. The cold, strong hand which had previously been encircling your wrists is gone, as is the one on your jaw.

You finally force your eyes open, blinking them rapidly in order to see. People everywhere are getting ready to leave, but there’s no sign of the stranger. Like the darkness, which flees from the light, he’s vanished, leaving no trace that he had ever existed in the first place.

~

The next time you see him is two days later, at John’s party, which you were once again dragged to because, well, there was just no way in hell he was letting you off the hook. You suppose you should be grateful he didn’t drag you to the party the night before. You’ve heard rumors that someone dumped a vat of pig blood on everyone and, with your hemophobia, that wouldn’t have been a pretty sight to see.

John’s part of the fraternity house, which is a huge mansion located just off campus. The fraternity’s party is supposed to be the biggest party of the week, but John says the sorority girls are going to try to outdo them this year. You don’t want to be part of any of it, but John insists that you come to his party and, when that doofus pulls the puppy eyes on you, there’s just no way you can say no.

You can face monsters and demons and even death without even flinching, but when it comes to John and his puppy eyes, you’re helpless. It’s completely unfair.

So you go to the party. You wear a tight black turtleneck and black skinny jeans, not to try and look attractive, but to blend in with the darkness. Your hope is that if people see nothing but a pale face with red eyes glaring out of the darkness at them, they won’t come near you.

Of course, that does nothing to stop Him from approaching you.

“Hey there, little motherfucker,” he says, dropping down on the loveseat next to you and grinning.

You shift onto the arm of the loveseat in an attempt to put a little space between the two of you.

“Hi,” you grumble irritably.

“Didn’t see you at the motherfucking party last night.”

You shrug.

“Yeah, well I’m not much of a social person. I don’t usually go to parties.”

His grin widens.

“You’re at a party now,” he says.

“Don’t remind me,” you mumble. “The only fucking reason I’m here is because it’s my friend John’s party and the jackass fucking dragged me here.”

The stranger laughs, rich and deep.

“Don’t seem much like the type of motherfucker to be up and dragged anywhere,” he chuckles.

“Wh-what the fuck do you mean by that?” you stumble, blushing furiously.

He laughs again and reaches out one long arm to ruffle your messy black hair.

“Chill the motherfuck out,” he advises you. “Didn’t mean nothing by it, just that even though you’re a tiny little motherfucker, you seem the motherfucking type to put up one hell of a motherfucking fight against anyone who tried to up and take you anywhere you didn’t wanna motherfucking be.”

Your eye twitches when he calls you a “tiny little motherfucker,” because you’re sensitive about your height, goddamnit. But you choose to ignore it and, instead, focus on the conversation ahead.

“John’s different,” you say. “There’s a reason he’s the fucking president. He could persuade anyone to his side; simply by batting his eyes, everyone practically fucking melts; when he pouts, the whole school fights to do his fucking bidding; if he’s crying, get out of the goddamn way or you’ll be in the way of a fucking stampede. And don’t even get me started on his puppy eyes.”

The stranger smiles fondly at you.

“Do you like him?” he asks.

“I...what?”

“Do you motherfucking like him?”

You stare at him, blinking slowly. Fuck. You said too much again. You usually try to keep your huge, embarrassing crush on John a secret, but when you talk about him you can’t help it. And now this stranger knows. He knows you’re totally fucking gay.

“If you tell anyone,” you say, fighting to keep your voice under control, “I will hunt you down, rip out your intestines and decorate my fucking Christmas tree with them.”

He laughs again and puts up his hands in a sign of surrender.

“Wasn’t gonna up an’ tell anyone, motherfucker,” he says, attempting to placate you.

You turn away, still blushing a bright and embarrassing red.

The stranger’s expression turns soft and you see him lean towards you out of the corner of your eye.

“He doesn’t feel the same way...” he says softly, and it’s not a question.

You are suddenly filled with an out of character and completely uncalled for wave of despair. You press your palms to your eyes and bite your lip in an attempt to keep the sobs from spilling out, but you have a feeling the stranger knows anyways.

“Hey... hey, don’t cry, brother,” he says softly.

You can feel his hands reaching for you, fluttering helplessly because he wants to touch you, but isn’t sure if he’s allowed to. You snort, because it’s funny, but it comes out more as a hiccupping sob. He wasn’t afraid to touch you before, so why is he so hesitant now?

You sense his palm near your shoulder, and lean forward into it. He gasps at the sudden contact, at your affirmation that it’s okay for him to touch you; to comfort you. And suddenly his hands are all over you, and he’s practically pulled you into his lap.

He’s sitting sideways on the couch, one leg tucked underneath the other one, which is hanging off the couch. He’s got both arms around you, holding you against him with your head on his chest. You can hear his heartbeat, which is a strangely soothing sound. You breathe deeply and try to slow your heartbeat to match his.

“I told him once,” you say, softly. “John. I don’t really know what I was expecting. Like, I knew he had the biggest fucking crush on Vriska, but I guess it didn’t really cross my mind at the time. Come to think of it, I was probably drunk, or high, or something. There’s no fucking way I would have told him otherwise. But that’s beside the damn point. Point is, I fucking told him.”

The stranger squeezes you gently, and you remember to breathe again.

“What did he say?” he asks.

“He said, ‘I just didn't really have any idea that you had any sort of feelings like that, so I am kind of caught off guard’,” you say trying to put some scorn into your words, but probably failing terribly. “‘It’s not that I have a problem with that kind of thing, it is just that, I am not a homosexual.’”

He makes a soft sort of sympathetic noise and hugs you tighter. You hate yourself for the way it makes you feel less like falling apart; for making the throbbing pain in your heart slightly less. You also hate yourself for opening up and saying all this... to a stranger of all people! You don’t usually open up to anyone, so what the hell is it about this guy that gets you to start talking about all the shitty things that are wrong with your entire pathetic excuse for an existence?

“If it makes your feel any better,” the stranger finally says, breaking the silence that had fallen, “I know how you motherfucking feel. I up and motherfucking know what rejection feels like. This motherfucker got himself rejected something awful once before. It’s not a motherfucking thing I’d up and wish on any motherfucker.”

You wind your arms around his middle and squeeze, feeling the inexplicable need to comfort him.

“Who’d you get rejected by?” you ask, genuinely curious about the person who would reject someone as genuine and kind as the dumbass holding you.

He gives you a sad sort of smile.

“My best bro,” he answers softly.

Your heart goes out to the asshole, because you can definitely emphasize with him. After all, John is basically your best friend. He’s one of the only people you can talk to without getting angry and throwing a hissy fit. He’s also one of the only people who doesn’t get fed up and annoyed with all of your anger issues and mood swings. He just laughs it off and tells you you’re silly.

“I’m sorry,” you say and, for once in your life, you really are.

“It’s okay, bro,” he says, smiling for real again—though you’re starting to doubt the genuity of his smiles. “It all up and happened a pretty long time ago and everything’s motherfucking chill now.”

You end up sitting in your corner with him for the rest of the party, just talking about stupid things that come to mind. He laughs a lot and, while you snarl and pretend to be irritated, you actually like his laugh.

As the party draws to an end, the stranger gets up and prepares to depart.

“It was motherfucking fun talking to you, bro,” he says, throwing you another smile, which you almost return. “Maybe I’ll up and see you at another motherfucking party this week. That’d be the bitchtits.”

You roll your eyes.

“Dumbass chucklefuck.”

He just laughs and waves his hand in a “whatever” fashion.

You surprise yourself—and him, evidently—by grabbing his wrist as he turns away.

You hear yourself say, “You never told me your name,” and internally slap yourself at how it sounds like a line straight out of a romcom.

He grins and leans down to press a chaste kiss to your forehead.

“...Gamzee,” he whispers against your skin.

And then the lights turn on and he’s gone before you can blink away the blinding brightness.

~

You spend the next four days thinking of Gamzee, watching romcoms, and crying over your pathetic existence.

That’s when John decides it’s time for you to get out of your room and go to another party, something you are really quite reluctant to do. You don’t want to see Gamzee again, because your head and heart get really confused around him. You don’t want to talk to him again and find yourself spewing forth more bullshit about your pathetic existence. You don’t want him to think you’re any more pitiful than he already does. And yet, at the same time, you really want to see him again. When you’re with him, it feels as though the whole world stops turning and everything juststops. Like it’s just him and you in your own little world, where no one else can find you and bother you.

You wonder if he thinks about you. You doubt it. To him, you’re probably just some loser he met at a party that amused him for a couple nights. He probably doesn’t even pay one thought to you outside of the parties.

“C’mon, loser. Get off your lazy ass and put this on,” says a familiar voice and you look up to see your other best friend, Dave, standing over you, holding a pile of clothes out towards you.

You push yourself up into a sitting position lethargically and blink at the clothes. Like, wow. Clothes. You’ve never seen those before.

Ugh. You have a killer headache.

Oh.

Duh. You had forgotten about getting completely shitfaced drunk the night before.

“...Why?” you ask, taking the clothes and looking at them. Ugh. Your voice sounds hoarse and scratchy. You swallow thickly.

“It’s for the party, duh,” says Dave.

“You’ve been locked up in here since you went home after my party,” John says cheerfully. “It’s time for you to get out of here and breathe a little fresh air.”

“We’ve respectfully kept our distance, but you haven’t come out in four days,” Dave says monotonously. “Ditching your bros and getting shitfaced by yourself is a jerk move.”

He picks up the movie case you were watching last night.

“Awe fuck no!” he says in mock outrage. “You did not watch fifty first dates without inviting me!! You are such an asshole, I’m hurt.”

“Fuck you,” you growl, though your words lack venom.

“Come on, dude, thought you were my friend?”

“I am your friend, jackass,” you mumble, stepping out of your sweats and pulling on the black skinny jeans from the pile Dave handed you. “I just need my own fucking space sometimes. Without the two of you hovering over me and breathing down my fucking neck like a pair of worried parents.”

You are internally screaming at the two of them when you see the top half of the outfit Dave picked out for you, but are far too exhausted to argue about it. So you just take off your shirt and start pulling on the first piece of the outfit.

“I can respect that,” Dave continues, completely ignoring your irritation over his choice of clothes for you, “but you can’t just leave your bros hanging for four days like that. It’s like, the golden rule of bromanship.”

“Whatever,” you grumble, most of your energy focused on trying to find the arm and head holes for the second shirt. “How the fuck do I get this thing on?”

John laughs and moves over to assist you, placing your arms where they need to be in order to maneuver the shirt over your head. Once it’s on, he steps back and looks you up and down. You fidget awkwardly under his scrutinizing gaze.

“Dave, come over here,” John commands. Once Dave is standing next to him, he asks, “What do you think?”

Dave looks you over, but you can’t tell what he’s thinking because of those damn shades he wears all the fucking time.

“Needs some chains,” he says finally.

“Exactly what I was thinking,” John agrees with a grin.

By the time they finish and deem you presentable to go to the party, your headache has increased to the point of pain. You’re wearing black skinny jeans that are so tight you think they might cut off circulation to your feet. You have a black tank top on underneath a white shirt that looks like it’s been put through a blender and had strawberries mushed on it. You think you’re supposed to be a zombie or something, because John said the dark circles under your eyes were perfect after you swore them both out for trying to put makeup on you.

You down a couple Tylenol on your way out, hoping that will at least take your headache down to tolerable levels, and permit them to drag you to the party being thrown by the sorority girls.

John chatters away in your ear as you walk.

“Dave’s gonna ask Terezi out at the party tonight, right Dave?”

Dave doesn’t say anything, but the light blush on his cheeks gives him away.

“Yeah, well what about you, Mr. I’ve-got-a-crush-on-Vriska-but-am-too-much-of-a-goddamn-pussy-to-ask-her-out?”

You feel a twinge of annoyance at being reminded of John’s crush. Goddamn, you really need to get yourself a boyfriend or something to get over this pathetic crush you have oh John. Your two best friends are moving on and starting to get into relationships, but you’re still stuck in a rut. Pathetically pining over John.

“If you ask Terezi out, I’ll ask Vriska out,” John says.

“Deal,” says Dave.

He spits into his palm. John copies him and they shake on it. You fail to resist rolling your eyes.

“What about you, Karkat?” John says, turning to you with an impish grin on his face. “Is there anyone you want to ask out?”

‘You,’ you think.

You go to shake your head, but freeze when Gamzee pops into your mind. Why are you thinking about him right now?

Of course, John takes your hesitation as a yes and practically pounces on you in his excitement.

“Ohmygoshwho???” he chirps loudly in your ear.

“ARGH NOBODY GET THE FUCK OFF ME!” you roar, a flare of anger piercing through you.

John just laughs and lets you go, completely unfazed by your anger, as always.

“I get it if you don’t want to tell us,” he says, “but just remember me and Dave have your back.”

Dave twirls his pocket knife, smirking ominously.

John laughs and punches his shoulder when he notices and you feel an odd sort of fondness in your heart as you look at them. Damnit, now is not the time to be getting sentimental.

Dave and John disappear with their soon-to-be girlfriends after wishing each other good luck, leaving you to find an armchair in the corner somewhere and try not to be noticed by anyone.

However, before you can find one, a fight breaks out, literally inches from you face. You jump back and press yourself against the wall as a group of boys forms around the scuffling pair and starts shouting, “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!”

You’re attempting to blend into the shadows and slip away when the circle is broken as one of the fighters is pushed right out of the ring and you get a clear look at the victor’s face.

Gamzee’s eyes are terrifying, seeming to glow purple and red. There’s a dark and evil aura all around him that makes you want to shrink in on yourself. Fear is rolling off of him in waves, but it doesn’t feel like he’s the source of the fear, it feels more like he’s playing off of the fears of those around him. It’s utterly unexplainable and absolutely terrifying.

Gamzee takes a step towards the boy cowering on the floor in front of him and the other boys go wild in a frenzy of bloodlust.

“Hear that, motherfucker?” Gamzee asks, his voice like silk. “THEY’RE WANTING ME TO MOTHERFUCKING KILL YOU. To tear you apart and offer you up to the mirthful messiahs. AIN’T THAT A MOTHERFUCKING MIRACLE? You should feel honored. TO BE A MOTHERFUCKING SACRIFICE TO THE MIRTHFUL GODS. That ain’t something many get to be. I’M GOING TO KILL YOU. Your blood will paint the wicked pictures. YOUR CRUSHED BONES WILL MAKE MY SPECIAL STARDUST. Welcome to the Dark Carnival. HONK HONK, MOTHERFUCKER.”

You don’t know what sort of crazed desperation grips you, at that moment, but you step out in front of the victim, leaving your safe spot against the wall. You just can’t bear to see Gamzee like this; half crazed and out of his mind with bloodlust. It’s not at all like the person you’d gotten to know.

“Get out of the way, motherfucker,” he says softly, glaring at you, not a shred of recognition in his eyes.

You shrug off the pain that stabs through your heart at that and shake your head.

“No,” you say.

He growls inhumanly at you.

“Gamzee, stop this,” you say, firmly, surprising yourself with how steady your voice sounds. “This isn’t you.”

He blinks at you, confused and surprised.

“HOW...” he stops, swallows, and tries again. “How do you know my name?”

You roll your eyes.

“You told me fuckass,” you say. “Do you seriously not fucking remember this? I know you were probably drunk or high off your fucking ass but come on. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten after only four days!”

You can practically see the madness draining out of him. The terrible aura that had filled the room practically evaporates and everyone sort of collapses in exhaustion. Gamzee drops to his knees and wraps his long arms around himself, trembling violently.

Sorry,” he chokes out, gasping. “I’m sorry.”

You catch him by his shoulders as he threatens to collapse face-first on the floor.

“Come on,” you mutter, pulling one of his arms over your shoulder and slipping an arm around his waist. He’s so skinny that it’s frighteningly easy to haul his ass off the floor and drag him out of the room.

You trudge up the stairs and manage to find an empty room—a study of some sort, by the looks of it—and dumb Gamzee on the couch before going back to close and lock the door.

You kneel by his head and fix him with a glare.

“What the hell was that?” you ask.

“...Voices...” Gamzee mumbles reluctantly, “in my head... make me do things I don’ wanna up an’ motherfuckin’ do. They scream the most...unmirthful shit. An’ they don’ shut up unless I do what they say. It’s so motherfuckin’ hard to ignore, brother.”

You frown and move to take off his skull mask. You startle when one of his thin-fingered hand wraps around your wrist.

“Don’ take it off,” he pleads with you. “Please, brother?”

You sigh.

“Okay.”

He offers a small, crooked smile.

“Thanks.”

“What are you hiding, anyways?” you ask. “I get if you don’t wanna talk about it or whatever, but what the fuck could be so bad that you have to hide it under a mask?”

“I-I’ll tell you,” he says softly, “but... not now.”

“Take your time, jackass,” you say. “Not like I need to know or anything. I was just curious.”

Gamzee smiles weakly at you and squeezes your hand, which, you realize with a flush, he’s still holding.

“D-don’t you take any meds or some shit for those voices?” you ask.

Gamzee shakes his head.

“Don’t got the money to pay for that kinda shit,” he tells you. “Mostly just deal with it in my own way. ‘S why I’m high or drunk most of the motherfucking time. Keeps me from hearing them motherfucking voices.”

“So why’d you flip your shit today?”

“Forgot to all up and smoke a motherfucking joint before coming,” he says.

You sigh and shake your head.

“You stupid shit.”

There’s a moment of silence in which you sit on the floor, leaning back against the couch and your hand in Gamzee’s.

“Hey...” Gamzee murmurs softly, as though reluctant to break the silence.

You turn your head to look at him.

“What’s your name?”

You pause, tilting your head slightly, remembering for the first time that, while he had given you his name, you had never given yours.

“Karkat,” you tell him. “My name’s Karkat.”

He smiles and closes his eyes, and you don’t quite feel like he’s a stranger anymore.

~

You’re not sure what madness possessed you to follow the directions of a text from an unknown number and go out to an abandoned park in a sketchy neighborhood on Halloween night, but you are starting to regret your decision. You sit on one of the swings and it creaks ominously under your weight. You glare up at the rusty hinges, as though daring them to give out on you.

You glance at your cell phone to check the time and it tells you it’s a little after eleven. You were supposed to meet the unknown number—who you assume to be Gamzee, who else says ‘motherfuck’ every other word and has such horrible grammar?—here at eleven. He’s late.

You wonder if he’s even coming at all, or if this is some cruel prank. You sigh and kick at the tiny pebbles beneath your feet.

“FUCK!” You scream when you feel two long arms winding around you from behind.

Gamzee drops his head onto your shoulder and laughs. It’s a welcome sound.

“YOU SCARED ME!” you shout and turn to swat his shoulder, laughing. “I’m so going to get you back for that!”

“I’m sorry,” he laughs, not sounding sorry at all. “I’m sorry, I motherfucking had to!”

“Oh, you had to?” you snort, not a trace of anger in your voice even though you’re trying. “So if you hadn’t scared me half to pieces your fucking ‘mirthful messiahs’ or whatever would have damned you to an eternity in hell or something?”

Gamzee just chuckles and nuzzles into your hair. You lean back into his arms and try to stop smiling, but your face won’t cooperate. You’re not even sure why, but you’re really really happy. Happier than you’ve been in a long fucking time.

“So what the hell did you call me out here for?” you ask, once you’ve managed to smooth out your face a little.

Gamzee pulls away and you bite back a noise of protest. You feel a twinge of annoyance at yourself—what the hell Karkat? You are not getting a crush on GAMZEE of all people—for the instant relief you feel when he grabs your hand. Gamzee tugs you out of the swing and away from the park to stand under a dimly lit and flickering streetlight. You are reminded of a scene in a romcom and blush at the thought. Standing next to him, you once again realize just how tall Gamzee is. He towers over you by over a foot. You also notice that, unlike the other nights, his face beneath the mask isn’t painted to look like a skeleton.

You forget all about romcoms and blushing and crushes and words when you see what Gamzee’s doing. He’s untying the mask that he’s kept covering his face since the whole time you’ve known him.

Gamzee pulls the mask away from his face and lifts his head, causing the streetlamp’s light to shine on his face. Your eyes widen at the sight of his unmasked face, because holy shit is he even human? He’s beautiful, and the light makes him shine with a sort of unearthly light. Not even the three, ugly scars that mar his lovely face could take away from that beauty. If anything, they add to it.

Gamzee’s eyes are searching your face worriedly; his teeth worrying at his bottom lip until it bleeds. You realize you’re still gaping at him and force yourself to close your mouth.

You reach up to touch the scar that cuts across the bridge of his nose.

“Is this why you hide your face?” you ask.

Gamzee closes his eyes and nods, as though bracing himself for a blow.

You grab his face with both hands and pull him down to your level so you can kiss the middle scar. Gamzee’s eyes snap open. Now it’s his turn to gape.

“You’re beautiful,” you tell him, and you mean it; with every fiber of your being.

Gamzee’s mouth makes an ‘Oh’ shape and his eyes get watery; and suddenly tears are pouring down his cheeks and he’s on his knees and sobbing into your chest, his arms wrapped around you in a bear hug. You just hold him patiently and stroke his hair and croon soft hushing noises at him in an embarrassing display of affection.

You hope he appreciates the fact that this is the most cuddly you’ve ever been in your life. Knowing him though, probably not.

After what feels like forever, Gamzee gets himself under control enough to speak.

“I’ve never... Nobody’s ever—ever told me that before,” he manages to hiccup out. “Not—not even m-my best bro.”

You hug him tightly and say, “I’ll say it a million times if I have to: You’re beautiful.”

He makes a happy sobbing sound and clings to you. You hear him mumble something, but he’s talking into your shirt, so you can’t hear him clearly.

“What was that?” you ask.

Gamzee tilts his head up to look at you with bright purple eyes that are shining with tears and happiness.

“I love you,” he says.

If it was anybody but Gamzee; anyone other than this train wreck of a human being sobbing into your shirt at eleven-thirty on Halloween night, you never would have believed them. Would have chalked it up to drunkenness. But, as it is, this is Gamzee, whose eyes and voice hold all the emotion in his heart and make it hard to disbelieve anything he says.

You smooth back his tangled mane of hair and wipe the tears off his cheeks.

“I love you too, you beautiful disaster.”