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“I needed to get away from Maple Valley for a while. I hope you understand.”

Sollux glared. “AA, we thought you were fucking dead. You can’t just run off like that. Everyone was terrified. No, I do not fucking understand. You’ve been acting so weird lately, what the hell?”

Aradia smiled. It wasn’t her usual smile--it was a very slight quirk of the lips, barely a smile at all. “Ever feel like you’re just a paper doll? Like the universe is playing you for laughs?”

“Not really.”

“That’s how I felt, Sollux. Like paper. Like I was just being blown around by the universe and played with, only to be thrown away later. I probably sound stupid saying that.”

“Why did you come here, though? It’s not even settled, I mean, there was supposed to be a subdivision here but it never got built. It’s just dry grass as far as the eye can see.”

“Do you know what things like that are called, towns that are planned and announced but never built?”

Sollux sighed, rolling his eyes. “Lemme guess. Paper towns.”

Aradia just laughed. “We...we all just exist on paper. We’re cosmic playthings.”

“I guess we are, aren’t we? Wasn’t there something that happened before we were born? Past lives or some bullshit like that? You were always going on about it. Some place called Alternia and some race called trolls.”

“I remember everything. Heroes of Time tend to. Sit down, Sollux, I’ll tell you all about it.”

Sollux sat, and he listened.