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Four, Three, Two

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I awoke bright and early on a beautiful Saturday morning to the sun shining in my window. Stretching, I practically sprung out of bed to get dressed for the day. Mornings were my favorite, and I had a lot to do before noon!

My mom washed my favorite pair of shorts for me, and that about made my day. I pulled last year's pink volleyball t-shirt out of my closet to go with them. I liked it so much because I'd stayed up one night with the rest of the team and cut the sides apart before retying them like a no sew blanket. It had a lot of good memories!

I could hear my sister on the other side if the wall, thumping around in her mess of a room. She usually didn't get up until noon, so I thought it a bit strange, but I didn't question it. I thoroughly checked my fish tanks before I left my room, giving each one of my five tanks a healthy sprinkling of food.

My room was directly across from the bathroom, and seeing it was unoccupied, I let myself in.

I went right for the sink, pulling my hair brush out of the drawer to try to tame my frizzy hair. In the end, I decided it was easier to just throw it up in a cute, messy bun and call it good. Anything was better than it sticking to my neck and making me sweat. I went for my toothbrush next.

My hand froze over the sink, confused. We had a little toothbrush holder shaped like a seahorse in the bathroom Meenah and I shared. There was Meenah's gold handled toothbrush, and my pink one, but there was also an unwelcome third resting in the cup.

"Meenah?" I called though the house, "Who's toothbrush is this?"

In my peripheral vision, I saw Meenah's door slam open. My head jerked that way just in time to scramble away from her as she lunged at me. Unfortunately, I was cornered in the small space, and the second time she grabbed for me, she had me.

"Get off of me!" I screamed and tried in vain to jerk away. Why did she always have to be so grabby?

"Fef! Shh! You gotta be quiet!" My sister hushed urgently, clamping a hand over my mouth. She had my upper arm in a death grip in her opposite hand.

"Why should I?" I demanded, muffled behind her hand. "Get away from me!"

"Look, it's Vriska's toothbrush, okay? I let her stay over sometimes and I sneak her back out in the morning. You got me, just keep it down!" Meenah was pleading with me, or the closest to pleading I was ever gonna get. She took her hand away from my mouth. "She hasn't left yet, and moms awake. Please."

She still hadn't let go of me. Behind her, I noticed a black blob of long hair slinking around in her bedroom. I narrowed my eyes. 

"That's disgusting, Meenah," I spat. Seriously, she was like, almost eighteen, and Vriska was my age.

Her eyes went wide. "You got it all wrong, Fef! She just sleeps here, we don't do nothin' else."

Slowly, she released her grip on my arm. I couldn't peg the look on her face. Insecurity?

"I should scream for mom right now," I countered. 

"No, no, no!" She urged, "what do you want? Take it, take whatever you want."

I supposed my silence could be bribed. I thought about taking her salt water tank and all its fish, I thought about taking her plug in air freshener I liked, or, I could be really mean, and take her favorite shoes. No, I decided, not today.

"I want you to drive me to the mall."

"That's it?"

I nodded.

She put her palm to her forehead and exhaled loudly. "That's really all you want?"

"And I want you to buy me a slushie," I added.

"Deal," she nodded, and then hurried back to her room and shut the door.

I rolled my eyes and finally got back to my morning routine. I brushed my teeth, put on my make up, and said goodbye to my mother before I walked over to my best friend's house.

Sollux only lived across the cul-de-sac from me, and it was a short walk. The air was still crisp. The grass was still wet with dew. It hadn't even begun to get hot yet. I knocked twice on the Captor house door.

Moments later Sollux opened the door, looking quite apathetic. He was still in his pajamas.

Right away, sound flooded out of the house.

"Mituna! This is the last time I am going to tell you!" Sollux's dad shouted. 

"Fuck off!" The older Captor child hollered back.

"Good morning," Sollux greeted half heartedly.

"Good morning!" I grinned, wrapping him in a quick hug.

"We've started our morning argument without you," he replied sarcastically. He stepped to the side and I entered the house.

"Don't swear at me!" Mr. Captor asserted, "and pick up your goddamn socks!"

"Why can't you and your f-fine motor skill-skill-skills, aw fuck, fuck, fucking fuck," Mituna argued before he splintered off into a cursing fit.

I followed Sollux to the dining room where he had cereal and the milk sat out. I helped myself to a bowl from the kitchen and sat down next to him for breakfast. Sollux was half eating, half tinkering with some sort of circuit board. The Captor house was always littered with all sorts of computer parts. Monitors, towers, CD drives. All mostly on the floor. Sollux's dad worked on computers too, but Sollux was the gifted one. He was some kind of kid genius. I wished I was that smart too.

"Your over here awful early," he remarked, shoving another spoon of Cheerios in his mouth.

"Meenah and I had a um, disagreement. But I won," I smiled proudly, "she's taking me to that mall later!"

Sollux scoffed, as if my 'disagreement' was any worse than his. "That's all you athked for? The mall? You thould have took her shoes."

Something in the other room crashed and Mr. Captor's voice sounded threatening. "Mituna, I'm warning you!"

Sollux ignored the outburst in favor of asking a question. "What was your disagreement over?"

"Oh, uh, well, I'm not supposed to tell!" I giggled, but I'd tell anyway, "you know how her and Vriska Serket are a weird, gross, nasty, thing?"

He nodded, reaching for a smaller screwdriver.

"I guess, unbeknown to the rest of us, Vriska sleeps over at my house," I finished.

"Ew," he muttered, wrinkling his nose.

"I know right?" I chatted, "she claims she's not doing anything, ugh, nasty, but It doesn't matter. She can ruin her life however she wants."

"You're the only person I know that could thay thomething tho condescending in a cheerful tone and get away with it," he smirked, never looking up from his project.

"What are you working on?" I inquired.

"Oh, juth a fried circuit. Thupid thing," he responded.

Mituna picked right then to walk in, half swaying his way to the kitchen to grab a bowl in unsteady hands. I'd always thought Mituna was attractive, not in a crush way, but more like an aesthetic-y way. He flipped his hair out of his eyes and a few of the scars on his forehead showed. I watched him pour a bowl only half full of cereal, with only a splash of milk. He took it with him back to the other room. I was surprised he didn't spill any of it.

Sollux hesitated a minute, hands still, before he shouted through the house. "Tuna! You ignored Feferi. What, are you blind now too?"

"Get off my ass!" He spat back. "Hullo, Fef-er, fef, Fucking shit. Eat my dick!"

Sollux rolled his eyes and went back to working. I fished my phone out of my pocket after finished my food. Mr. Captor passed though, carrying a coffee mug. He greeted me, and when he went back the other way, he was carrying two coffee mugs. I supposed he was going to shut himself in his 'office' in the garage.

"I have a question for you," Sollux began after a while. I looked up from my phone.

"What's that?"

He turned and looked behind him, pausing for a moment. Mituna had a game on in the living room, and that was the only other sound. He frowned deeply, got up, and turned the air  conditioner on. It rumbled to life, adding more noise. When he sat back down, he was giving the table a pretty harsh look.

"Are you okay?" I asked.  

"FF, you like me right?" He countered.

"Of course!" I assured him. He'd very clearly just had one of his famous mood swing and I wasn't sure how to proceed.

When he looked up at me, he was searching for something.

"Sollux, are you okay?" I repeated.

"You don't, like, 'like' like me though, right? You just like me ath a friend?"

I was a bit taken back by that. I didn't know what the right answer to that question was. The wrong answer might set him off. I must have been pulling a face because his gaze shifted to the floor and he put his head in his hands, groaning.

I put a reassuring hand on his shoulder and smiled. "Of course I like you as a friend Sollux. What's wrong?"

"Thank God," he muttered into his hands and sighed. Finally he looked up at me again. "I'm thorry, that was thitty of me. What else would you expect from a thit person?"

"No, no, Sollux," I grinned a little wider, "it wasn't shitty. You're okay. And what did I say about putting yourself down? C'mon, what's the real problem here?"

"The problem is I'm fucked up jerk, but then again, I'm not the only one in this house," he huffed.

I furrowed my eyebrows, puzzling though his words. This was something about Mituna? Maybe?

"I've had the weirdeth crush on Latula for years," he confessed, and it hurt his pride to say it. "But I think maybe I like Terezi just as much. More."

Oh. The light flicked on. I spent the Fourth of July with my sister, mother, and cousins Jane and John. Meanwhile, Sollux had spent it at the lake with his brother and the Pyrope sisters. Ohhh.

"You should go for it, Sollux," I encouraged cheerfully, "you really should!"

"I'm not cut out for thith," he lisped, unable to meet my gaze.

"You should chase things that make you happy," I grinned, nodding, hoping he'd go along. He didn't respond. I thought maybe he was getting a migraine by the look on his face. His temples grew taut, and his jaw set. He was very clearly very uncomfortable.

"Headache?" I questioned sympathetically.

"Yeah," he agreed.

I got up, pulled the extra strength pain killers out of his medicine cabinet and set them down next to him. He needed to rest, and he couldn't rest with me here. He needed to go someplace dark, and quiet.

"Not that I don't one hundred percent care about the issue at hand here, but you should take it easy." I tried to speak evenly, knowing volume would only hurt him.

"Yeah. Thanks, FF," he muttered, uncapping the medicine bottle, "I know I thaid I'd hang out today, but I'm not tho up to it now. Thorry."

"That's okay, we have all summer!" I patted his shoulder gently. He swallowed the pills dry, but I knew they'd only do so much for his head. "Text me if you need anything, okay?"

I showed myself the door as my best friend slumped over his dining room table. This unexpected turn of events had certainly threw a wrench in my plans. Standing on his doorstep, I realized all of the stuff I wanted to do today hinged on Sollux. I didn't really have anyone else to hang out with. I decided to head home.

My mom was in our kitchen, baking a cake when I arrived. Out our back door, I could see Vriska trying to lower herself down off of our morning glory trellis, and she was doing a bad job of it. I talked with mom a while, hoping to keep her attention so she wouldn't turn around. Finally, Vriska fell flat on her ass. I could hear her curse though the wall. Fortunately for her, mom had not. Rubbing her behind, she limped out of sight, probably hopping our back fence to head home.

Meenah joined us after all the hubblub. 

"Bout time you got outta bed," my mom snarked, slinging the cake pan into the oven.

"Yeah, well," Meenah replied loftily, pulling a can of pop out of the fridge.

"She's taking me to the mall today," I chirped, jumping up to sit on the kitchen counter.

"Today?" Meenah mocked and the same time our mom said "That's nice of you, Meenah."

"Oh, right, that was today," Meenah quickly covered her own ass. "Lets hit it then, Tunafish."

It took me a moment to realize who she was speaking to. She hadn't called me Tunafish since, well, I was little. I smiled and jumped off the counter.

"Need money?" Mom asked.

"We're good, I got cash," Meenah rejected, picking up her purse and handed me mine. She picked up her car keys next. We shut ourselves in Meenah's black car, and rolled the windows down immediately to combat the heat inside. The floor was covered in McDonald's bags and her upholstery was a little sticky, but she was a pretty safe driver. If you covered your eyes.

"You wanna go to Sunset or Winterbrook mall?" My sister asked, clicking her seatbelt and starting the car.

"Oh, probably Winterbrook," I grinned. "Can we stop at the pet store on the way back? I need fish food."

"Me too. I was thinking about splitting my saltwater tank, and then putting living coral in one side," she chatted, watching behind her as she backed out.

"That would be so cool! The fish would just love it. Did you plan on getting more fish too?"

She wheeled around and stepped on the gas before responding. "I dunno. I dunno what kind of fish I want. I wish there was somewhere I could go to see the fish in real life without being accosted by fuckin' employees." She scoffed. "Like, I know how to cycle my tank, bud. I know you can't keep a school of tangs in a five gallon. Back off."

"Oh! Yeah! 'Excuse me miss, did you know betta fish must be kept by themselves?'" I asked, mocking an employee from when I'd purchased my Crowntail.

Meenah outright laughed.

"I bet an aquarium would have a bunch of fish to look at," I offered, "we could go there instead."

"An aquarium? As in, like, the one up in Birch Run?" She clarified, eyeing another car as she made a right hand turn and merged in to another lane.

"Yeah! Exactly that one!" I agreed.

"Jeez, I ain't been there in years. Hold old were you last time we went? Your, what, almost fifteen?"

I thought for a moment. My dad had still been around then. "I think I was seven? Eight?"

"Well shit, Fef!" Meenah jerked the steering wheel around, doing a straight up illegal U turn in four lanes of traffic. My eyes went wide as I clutched the door frame for safety. Horns blared all around us. "Aquarium it is!"

"O-okay," I muttered, looking behind us in the rear view mirror. Two car had swerved off to the shoulder of the road and one man was out of his truck, angrily shaking his first at us.

I really hoped we'd make it there in one piece.