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There are those elegant gestures in scenes of pale romance that you’ve always admired: when moirails touch only fingertips, or sit next to each other, their shoulders barely brushing. Moirails, even in romcoms, are always poised and modest, the depth of their relationship conveyed not through vulgar physical affection, but through eye-gazing and body language and dramatic declarations of pity. 

They appealed to you for the very hope they inspired, that you could maybe get away with filling your pale quadrant, even in spite of your… situation. Being close to someone while still maintaining distance, never having to explain why your blood burns hotter than possible, never having to subject the person you pity to your disgusting mutant body.

You don’t understand why, then, after you’ve finally gotten a moirail, you are disappointed that he does not hold you, that he does not nuzzle and caress you like in a cheap romance novel. Apart from that extremely public shoosh-papping you had to give Gamzee to calm him the fuck down, there has been nothing untoward happening between the two of you. You touch fingertips. And you sit together. And occasionally, Gamzee pats your shoulder awkwardly, like he’s afraid he’ll break you if he exerts the slightest bit of pressure. It should be enough.

It isn’t.

It bothers you how much he hesitates before touching you. Like he doesn’t know how. You’ve spent most of your life dodging unwanted contact, and now you long for it like you never thought you would. Even if he knows about your blood and doesn’t care, it still feels obscene to want it. 

You go back to your romcoms, over and over, and you try to figure it out. What are you doing wrong? You spend hours scouring your movies for answers. You watch scenes of pale confessions, and arguments and dates and feeling jams, and you compare them side by side. And in the end, it’s not your romcoms that help you reach your decision.

It’s when you brush your fingers over Gamzee’s wrist one day and his face screws into an expression of… something you’ve never seen before.

You find it curious and unsettling. You turn his palm over and lightly pass your thumb over his knuckles, and he watches you with the intensity of a starved barkbeast watching a feast, waiting for scraps from the table.

You twine your fingers with his, and he sighs.

It’s at this point you realize that he might need this more than you want it. It still feels selfish and reckless, but you pull him closer, and he lets you loop an arm around his waist. He leans into you—hesitantly, carefully—and you place a light kiss just below his ear.

You expect him to smile, but he just closes his eyes. You consider pulling back, but as if he can sense your thoughts, he puts an arm around your shoulders and looks at you pleadingly.

You sigh and nuzzle his neck. He clings a bit tighter.


“Shoosh,” he whispers against your temple, and holds your hand a little tighter.

You draw back a bit and look at his face. His eyes are half-lidded and his smile is vague, and though it takes you a moment, you recognize this expression as the same one he had when he was still on the sopor.

“Problem, brother?” he asks, blinking slowly at you.

“No, just—let’s sit down,” your eyes dart in the direction of the pile.

His smile widens a bit. He bobs forward, touching his chin against your forehead like he wants to kiss it, but he forgets the lip part of the equation, so it just turns into a harmless reverse headbutt, and by far the oddest gesture of affection you’ve ever witnessed. He’s terrible at this, and it just makes you pity him more.

When you finally lie down on your side, he curls up behind you on the pile, holding you much too tightly and poking you with all his sharp bony bits. He sniffles at your hair loudly, and you try not to feel exasperated by this. He probably learned it from his lusus, on the few occasions the beast bothered to visit. You were in the habit of skreeing in frustration until the age of three, so you’re not one to judge.

His hand grips your shirt like he’s afraid someone will steal you if he lets go. You can feel the tension in his shoulders in the way he hold you. There’s an undercurrent of desperation to him, of that hunger you’d glimpsed earlier.

Tentatively, you put your hand over his and worm your fingers in between his. This succeeds in making him release you sweatshirt and a little bit of his tension bleeds away. You can feel him relax against you, and as you pull his hand up to rest it with the palm against your heart, you feel him sigh in contentment.

You suddenly care a great deal less about the proper way of doing things. The pretend-moirails of a dead universe are a poor gauge for the success of a moiraillegiance when right here, right now, you can see first hand what pale means, and how much your touch seeps into Gamzee, calms him down, reassures him. 

You decide to give him nothing less than what he needs, and oh, how he needs this.