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For Your Own Good

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         You lead him towards your shared tent, his hand tightly intertwined with yours. He's chattering on about something that happened at one of your gatherings but you haven't been listening. You can only hear your bloodpusher pounding against your eardrums and feel the nauseous swimming happening in your gut. Fuck, you might be sick. You don't think you can do this. Why did this idea ever pop up inside Kanaya's conniving thinkpan. With all your anxieties aside, you know this is the only way. This is your only choice other than kicking him out of the rebellion and you know doing that will put him in the bigger danger of becoming a living machine more than him being here with you and simply dying alongside the rest of your charade. You had agreed to this, breaking his heart, in front of those you trusted with more than just your life. In the long run, it was for his protection and for your more than likely permanent heartbreak. It was going to hurt, you know this.

         His grip tightens as he lifts the flap to the opening of the tent with his psionics, holding it up for you to come inside.  It is warm and inviting, the gentle glow of the lanterns causing little patterns to dance around the folds of the tent’s interior. There are blankets along the floor that you clumsily stumble over even though you had been stepping over it with ease each nightfall to begin your leadership duties for the past two pedigrees. You keep your eyes low, not really focussing on your physical surroundings as your internal monologue has broken out into a full argument with all versions of yourself you keep locked away inside your head. Sollux’s hand never leaves yours as he guides the two of you in, his soft voice filling up the heavy air of the tent.

         Sollux had instantly plopped down onto the makeshift sleeping pallet the two of you shared and crossed his legs. Being an outlaw had its downfalls and sleeping without the proper material was one of them. There was no way for your group to transport recuperacoons in a quick and efficient manner and sopor was something that needed to be routinely drained and filtered. Sometimes, when your following was lucky, an abundance of sopor patches would fall into your clutches and everyone would have an easy day of slumber. In the sopors absence, piles and makeshift sleeping pallets had been easily transferable from place to place and easy to snatch up in the event of a hurried escape. They didn’t protect you from daymares but they were soft and gentle to lay on.

"Kk, are you even listening?" Sollux had said, snapping you from your daze. His fingers idly played with the hem of one of your many blankets and he glanced up at you,

"Sorry, I was distracted." You pull your hood off from your head but you keep your cloak on. You don't plan on being here for very long. Sollux lets out a little snarky laugh, hands letting go of fabric to cross his arms over his chest. He smiles at you teasingly, "Must be hard to pay attention when you're constantly thinking of leadership things."

He's right, it is hard. It's so fucking hard.

"What were you thinking of this time?" He continues on, his gaze never leaving your face. There's a familiar softness to his voice and that slight lisp that always used to calm you, but now it was just forcefully ripping your pusher from your chest. You didn't want to answer, you didn't want to end this last gentle moment so soon. It was the calm before the storm and you were the idiot who played with fire. There’s a swell in your throat and fuck, you can't do it, you can't. Kanaya and the others will have to think of some other way, you can't do this. Sollux notices your inner distress as his sarcastic tone drops immediately and is replaced with a benevolent and inquiring one, "Kk? You look like you're going to be sick. Are you feeling okay?"

         He gets up and puts his hand on your forehead, eyebrows scrunched up in concentration as he tried to figure out what temperature should be normal for your blistering hot skin. Although he is low on the spectrum his skin his still cool against your own but not so far off you can’t stand to touch him. Sometimes when life just got a little too hard and you felt this whole rebellion thing was getting everyone nowhere, he’d place his hands over your eyes as you laid your head in his lap and he’d wipe the sweat and anger away until you could think rationally.  

"You're sweating. Take the cloak off before you burn up." His soft fingers are at the clasp of your hood and you grab his wrist. He looks up at you questioningly, eyes glowing faintly along with the flickering candlelight inside your tent. Your bloodpusher tightens.

"Sollux," Your tongue darts out from between your lips, moistening them before you speak, "We need to talk." Those are a bad choice of words, you realize, as his hands immediately drop. The hand that was on his wrist falls limply at your side.

Sollux lets out a noise that you guess was supposed to be a laugh, "What?" His voice is tight, like he's trying to remain calm. Your gaze falls to the rapidness of his chest, you can't look him in the eye right now.

"We..." You can't do it, you can't do it, "We need to split up." All of this is painstakingly similar to the scenes your romance novels. The scenes that always leaves you a crying pathetic mess, stupid mutant tears staining the pages of your favorite books.  Sollux takes a sharp intake of breath and holds it there. You can feel his eyes burning through you and you wouldn't be surprised if he decided to do so with his psionics right now. You're breaking his heart, for fuck's sake.

         For a minute there's nothing but silence between the two of you, the only noise coming from outside. There’s singing and laughter mingled with the faint hushed words and crunch of leaves under the feet of your followers as they pass your tent in good spirits. It was common for the group to celebrate quietly in times of low stress. There hadn’t been a raid in a long time and the Imperial Drones were currently stumped with your whereabouts. You wait as a pair of particularly loud giggles passes your tent before you finally look up at his face. You can't look away no matter how much you want to. Yellow diluted tears slide down his cheeks and land on the front of the shirt that Kanaya had made for him not even two nights before. Of all the things you have seen in your lifespan, Sollux crying was something that filled your chest with the lead. You hate seeing him like this, you hate seeing upset him and crying. It was worse knowing that it was you who caused it. He looked so pitiful.

"Is this a fucking joke?" He hisses, eyes narrowing at you.

"No," You're running on autopilot now, "I wouldn't joke like that."

"Why?" Sollux's voice breaks, his hands clenching up into fists, "Why are you doing this then?"

You swallow thickly, gaze faltering to the side before returning, "Do you want the honest truth, or a lie to make this easier?" Sollux growls low in his throat but does nothing else to threaten you. He looks like he is weighing the question over, shifting his weight from side to side as he thought it over.

"What's the lie?"

"I'm not in love with you anymore." Sollux's stance falters at the words but his facial expression remains the same.

"What's the truth?"

Of course, he'd want both answers, he always has to have two. "It's to protect you."

         Sollux snorts, tossing his head and taking a step back. He looks around the tent, bouncing on his feet like he wants to say something but he can't bring himself to. He rubs his face with one hand, the other one resting on his hip. Then he drops his hands back down at his side and then back up like he was about to say something, then down again. You decide this is your chance to explain, "It's not like I wanted to fucking do this, Sollux. If it wasn't to keep you safe, I wouldn't have agreed to it."

"Agreed? Agreed to it?" Sollux snaps at you, tears replaced with anger. "You're telling me you had some rinky-dink fucking meeting about breaking up with me? This wasn't even your idea? You were told to do this?" He lets out another snort, turning around and running his fingers roughly through his hair, "That's really great, Kk. Real great."

"Sollux, don't do this. Don't make it into something worse, alright? It's fucked up I know-"

He cuts you off, "Then why? Why do it if you know it's fucked up?"

"Because it's for your own safety!" You snap at him, your voice rising higher than you intended.

"That doesn't make any sense!" He reels back, horns zapping in a low burst of psionics.

"It would if you would listen to me," You start, "Let me explain it to you." Sollux opens his mouth to say something but quickly shuts it, teeth snapping together with an audible clink. He silently crosses his arms over his chest and you take it as a sign to continue.

         You let out a deep sigh, shoulders relaxing from where they had tensed up without you noticing. Sollux taps his foot along the animal skins that serves as your floor, courtesy of none other than one of your main guards, Nepeta Leijon. It's kind of funny to think of her like that, referring to her as a guard, let alone your guard. She isn't a child anymore, but a violent huntress who is not a force to be reckoned with. You still see her as a six sweep old troll roleplaying at a tea party with her lusus plushie, not a murderess rebel holding her fist up in front of the Empress's royal brigade.

"If it were to get out to the general public that I had a matesprit, let alone a psionic, the Empress could try to get you as a way of hurting me," You put your finger up as he began to open his mouth to say something, "I know you are going to be in danger regardless if you're my matesprit or not, the fact that you are affiliated with me in any way possible is enough to have you culled immediately without question. But if they see you as just one of my soldiers, you aren't going to be a main target."

"Then why don't we just hide our relationship then? We could keep it a secret from everyone else and the Empress would ne-"

         You shake your head, "I wish it was that simple, but hiding a relationship from not only the people trying to fucking murder us but the people that are on our side is going to be difficult. Sollux, I want to be able to hold your hand when I want to, not when no one is looking. I want to be able to keep you hidden and safe from as much harm as I can here, and I am willing to do anything it takes to keep you out of the radar. I don't want an 'x' put on your back, I don't want you used as an objective to hurt me."

         You're trying not to cry, constantly blinking back tears as you spoke and doing your best to keep your voice from cracking. You need to speed this up before you change your mind, "I'm sorry Sollux, I really am. Please just, don't punish yourself, alright? I know how you are and..let's not make this harder than it needs to be."

         You turn towards the opening of the tent, hand gripping the fabric as you turned back and looked at Sollux a last time and his disheveled form before you completely deserted him. He looked distraught, confused, but most of all heartbroken. You're the one who did that to him, too. You hesitate, swallowing thickly before saying, "Sleep well, Sollux. Try to have a good morning."

 

You left with the Alternian sun just barely peeking over the horizon, and begin your trek to Kanaya's tent, where you'll be staying from now on.

 

 

Chapter Text

         It has been half a sweep since the incident and there isn't one day or night you go without regretting it. Sleeping alongside Kanaya isn't the worst thing in the universe, but it isn't him. You're used to cuddling and having warm breath obnoxiously puffing into your ear, not a cold distance and silence that fills the entire tent. You miss hearing him mumble in his sleep, the facial expressions he makes when he dreams. You miss the gentle kisses he would press against your jaw and behind your ear as you would stare up at the tent’s top in thought. The hushed whispers, the way he would hold your hand, the tangle of limbs that the two of you knotted yourselves in each day were memories that echoed in the pang of loneliness you have set up for yourself. There were times you even miss the night terrors that had him waking up screaming.

         After the excitement was over and the fear had been sweated out, he would turn to you with mismatched eyes wide and dimly glowing. He would whisper the horrors he had seen the minute he closed his eyes to rest. You would listen and pet his hair, nod in understanding. He used to tell you that he watches you die in his dreams. Sometimes he was so sure that it had actually happened and would wake up in a fit of gut-wrenching sobs. In that case, you’d grab him by the shoulders as he punched and kicked and you would scream that you were alive, that you hadn’t died, and it was just a dream. Eventually, the glaze over his eyes would disappear and he would snatch you up in his long arms and hold you so tightly that it was hard to breathe. Later on, he told you that you're not the only one who he saw die while sleeping. It was Kanaya, Nepeta, everyone. Those nightmares tormented him and almost rid him of as much sleep as you, but they went away almost completely the more you lied with him.

His terrors returned in your absence and you can hear him screaming at day, but it isn't you who comforts him anymore.





         A whole sweep passed before he finally spoke to you directly. Maybe be found playing a game of whispers was irritating when the information came back jumbled up and wrong. The experience took you by surprise, him handing you a bowl of fruit and telling you to stop holding the paper you were studying so close to your eyes before it ruined your eyesight. The following conversations were painfully awkward, but as the nights went on the two of you became good friends again. Not to say that that awkwardness and feeling of betrayal had ever completely gone away, there are times where Sollux is cold to you. However, you don't blame him. It was you who had completely abandoned him without even a hint of doing so beforehand. Nonetheless, it's like you're six sweeps old again hanging with your best friend. The only part that puzzled you was the fact that you were not able to kiss him or hold his hand, something you were so used to. Sometimes you aren’t paying attention and the moment tells you to lean in. But there was no way you'd even have a chance to press your lips against his now without getting a fist kissing your mouth instead.





         Things were completely normal for another half a sweep until your group set dock near a shipping port. It wasn't exactly your choice, but everyone had agreed that supplies were needed and this was the only way other than stealing. You, of course, cannot go into the pier or to any of the shops there. You would be found and arrested (if not culled) immediately. You're still a terrorist in many trolls eyes and the majority still hates you. It really is a bummer, you miss being able to show your face to the general public like you had in your youth when your blood color was still a secret and no one cared who you were. Kanaya keeps you grounded though, she teaches you had to sew while a small group of your group runs down to buy supplies and whatever else they desire. When Sollux was your matesprit you never let him go off into towns or any heavily crowded areas completely alone due to the fear of some highblood snatching him up and selling him into slavery or just culling him for the fun of it. You know Sollux isn’t helpless and can handle his own but on a physical level, there was no way for him to win in hand to hand combat. The only way to secure his win was to use his psionics and in doing so put him in more danger. It only takes one meaningful flash before he’s whisked away and chopped into pieces and plugged up into a machine, no longer a troll and just an empty void. Sollux would always whine and complain at your stubbornness, but it was half-hearted as stopping for supplies meant alone time between the two of you. Yet, you don't have any say on what he does now, not that he ever listened to you in the first place. But he doesn't give any of your suggestions a thought before he is running off and being the reckless piece of shit he is. All you can do now is grumble while you try not to rip the fabric in your claws or take the needle in your hand and stab something. Kanaya just glances at you warily when you start hissing under your breath.  

         There's an extra body that comes back with your group, which isn't really a surprise. You recruit lots of people on the way. Most of the time it is just about convenience, trolls marked for culling or in hiding quickly sneak into your parties. Sometimes able-bodied trolls with similar beliefs tag along and there have been instances of ranking officers in the Imperial Army leaving their post to join you instead. Your sermons do well, but they are mostly for spreading the word and putting a thought in the bubble. There has to be some reason for a troll to give up their life and hide away from the clutches of the Empress, it isn’t an easy decision.

         But this is one troll you didn't plan on ever seeing again. Yet. here he was standing in your tent in all his glory. Kanaya makes a noise in the back of her throat at the realization and stands up, but you raise your hand to silence any violent action before it may have happened. There was a lot of bitterness between the two over past relations, and you hadn't quite forgiven him either. "What do you want, Eridan?" You didn't mean for it to come off as a hiss but you couldn't help yourself.

         "It's rude to assume I want anythin' from you without even givin' me the chance to say a simple 'hello', Kar. Maybe I just want to see how your little rebellion is goin'." Eridan pouts at you and holy shit, you want to slap it right off his face. His...really attractive face. Shit, you could have sworn that the last time you saw him he wore glasses and had a stupid scarf. The cape was still there though, but it was different and hung loosely off of the plates of armor on his shoulders. It wasn't as goofy looking as you remembered it. His attire was a little upscale for just a military officer, a fuchsia sash crossed over his middle and branded him as what he really was, a threat. The familiar violet stripe was swept back from his face and into the short black waves of hair that was neatly trimmed and styled to perfection. If it weren't for the military uniform and the large gun at his side, you could have mistaken him for some kind of movie star.

"So you come here completely loaded wearing the Empress's symbol? How am I not supposed to assume you want something or you came here to murder my ass?" You hate to admit it, but you feel incredibly small sitting down on your sleeping pallet with a fully grown adult seadweller towering over you.

He just grins, shark-like teeth glinting in the moonlight that is slipping through the cracks of the tent, "I guess that is a big red flag for you, ain't it? But you don't gotta worry, I ain't here to kill you or nothin'. I want to join you."

         You let out a loud cackling laugh full of snorts and wheezes, which is really unattractive but this is probably the most hilarious thing you have heard in sweeps. There are tears in your eyes as you grip your stomach in pain, but you can't stop laughing. Kanaya looks concerned, the fabric still tightly held in her palm as she and Eridan both stare at you. Everything is silent beside your loud cackling and Eridan looks, for the lack of better words, hurt by your response. It takes a full ten minutes of you just laughing in his face before you finally calm down and realize he is actually being serious.

"Why?" You manage out, smile gone and scowl back on cue.

"I got bored of the whole 'conquer the weak and murder the innocent' shtick, to be honest with you." Eridan sighs, running his ringed fingers through his hair, "Also...I may have been pushed towards this decision."

"By who, exactly?" Kanaya buts in, clearly not believing a word that is being said. You don't blame her for being doubtful, it does seem unlikely that Eridan would give up whatever power he has now to join your forces.

         He pauses, as if he is unsure if he should speak, and looks from Kanaya to you. A cold chill rolled down your spine as you locked eyes. His irises were completely filled in with violet, that childish gray long gone. Your own eyes were filled with a violent scarlet that you were once so afraid of, but you've come to terms with your curse. It was strange, after all this time of war and devastation that he chooses to come to you now. A part of you wants to turn him away but another part of you wants to trust him. He was an old friend after all.

"Fef."  He breathed, keeping his gaze on you.

You sucked in a silent breath and held it there for a moment, "Where is she now?"

"She is in my ship, probably worryin' her thinkpan out." Eridan smiled faintly, finally looking away, "We've been searchin' all over for you. You ain't an easy troll to find, you know. But when I saw Sol at the pier, I knew you were close by an'-"

"Sollux was at the pier?" You get up, albeit to fast and you have to take a minute to make the world stop spinning.

“Yes...he was, and I followed him along with the rest of your group back. And you know, Kar,  he really shouldn't be goin' to places like that," Eridan reached his hands out as if to steady you, but they dropped before they made any contact, "Puts him in a lot of unneeded danger, does it not?"

You try to ignore the extremely out of place caring tone in his voice, especially when it was directed towards Sollux, "I know that. You think I haven't been trying to get that through his thick skull?" You snatch your cloak from the table it was sitting on and throw it over your shoulders. "I'll chew his ass out later, take me to Feferi."

"Karkat, you really should not be going out. It is the middle of the night, what if someone recognizes you?" Kanaya is instantly at your side, a gentle hand at your shoulder. You know she is more worried about you being alone with Eridan than you being out in public. If anything does happen though, you're sure you'll be able to tear Eridan's ass a new one before he could even lay a perfectly manicured claw on you. And even if you did die, it wouldn’t be an easy kill.

You place your hand on top of Kanaya's, "I'll be fine. And besides, I have a seadweller to protect me. Right, Eridan?"  You give him a sly smile, and he darts his eyes between you and Kanaya before giving a curt nod.

"A’ course."

Chapter Text

         The whole way to Eridan’s ship left you an uneasy mess, not that you let the slimy seadweller fuck know that of course. You couldn’t help but make a few quick glances at him. The way the moons’ light reflected off of armor and how his cape fluttered in the wind made you feel like you were in some fantasy novel. You weren’t, as much as you wish you were, in any form of a fantasy. Well, you are on your way to meet a princess, but there is nothing daring and magical about it. You hold back a chuckle. You glance at Eridan and back at the tents of merchants flying past you. The trolls around you don’t look your way, not with an Imperial Soldier at your side. A high ranking one at that judging by all his glammed up attire. You could've figured that much out though, Eridan always talked about joining the fleet and being the best gunman there. He has probably met all his goals in the military department. You wonder why he wants to leave that luxury behind to squat in tents and eat unseasoned meat and drink river water.

You reach the docks and Eridan comes to a halt. You, half expecting him to pull his gun on you, reach subtly for your sickles. Instead of being blasted around Alternia and back he just smiles and shakes his head, “Sorry, I just...this is a lot for me. It’s strange seein’ a lot of you again.”

His voice warbles past you and you drop your defenses, “Yeah...strange seeing you too.” You say, the politeness of your tone making your right eye twitch.

         Eridan makes a ‘hm’ sound in his throat, his gaze on you lingering for just a moment. He then turns on his heel and continues on his path down the dock, not even glancing at the other ships around him. You do though, taking in all their vastness and glory. You wonder which one is his and almost have a guess at the biggest ship you see, but with each passing the ships get bigger and bigger and you keep getting stumped. Eventually, you are face to face with the bow of Ampora’s mighty ship. You swallow thickly as he leads you to the ramp and you stare at the dark waters underneath you as you board. There’s a twinge of fear that gurgles in your stomach but you swallow it and move forward. On the main deck, there is nothing but...cargo. Looking around you see no crew, no staff, not even a slave. You start wondering if this is his personal ship and not a military flagship. That would actually make a lot more sense. Eridan wouldn’t be stupid enough to bring you aboard a military vessel unless he planned on turning you in and as far as you were concerned there was no Empress flag to be seen. Then again it was too massive to be a personal sailboat, but this was Ampora you were thinking of and if you were right about him being successful there’s nothing saying he couldn’t own this boat.

Eridan’s voice calls you to attention, “Hey! Over here, idiot.” His words have no bite.

He is standing by a door, a hand beckoning you over. You start to have doubts again. What if this is a trap to kill you? How stupid would that fucking be? A bead of sweat rolls down your spine and the chill of the air doesn't help. Even with all forces of nature and your mind telling you no, don't go in there...you, in fact, go the fuck in there.

 


It’s his private quarters.

And on a sleeping platform sat none other than the princess herself.

“Eri-fin! Did you get those blue beads I asked for?” She calls out, fins perking at the sound of movement. She is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Her long black hair curls and falls down the length of her back and even folds along with the white quilted sheets underneath her. Her skin is smooth and pale compared to your scarred deep complexion. Despite, you assume, her training for taking down the Empress her hands look as if she had never done a piece of work in her life. Feferi looks cared for and happy, content. You feel like a speck of dirt under her nails.

         She put her book down and looked over at the door at which you were standing. Feferi’s blank expression turns into shock as she looks at you, her eyes widening. Her mouth falls open like a fish out of water and her eyes snap to Eridan. Then you. Then Eridan. Then you again. Suddenly, you couldn't breathe because a huge lady seadweller has engulfed you in her rumble spheres and was squeezing you so tight your vision went hazy. She squealed happily in your ear and shook you to and fro. You did nothing but put your hands up in surprise and laugh.

Eventually, the exciting part of the reunion had ended and she took your hands in hers, “Oh my goodness, Kar-crab! I cannot bereef it’s you!”

“I can’t believe it’s you either.” There's an unfamiliar smile tugging at your lips.
Feferi’s smile is sweet, however, her teeth look like they could rip out your throat if they wanted to. They glint in the candlelight of the room. “Eri-fin didn’t tell me you were coming!”

Eridan was beaming as bright as the second moon, “I didn’t know he was here.” He began undoing the sash around his torso branding the Empress’s symbol, tossing it on a desk you hadn’t noticed until now. It was cluttered with papers, some of which, branded huge layouts of ships and what you assumed were battle plans. Your pulse quickened. “I saw Sol in the market and followed them back.”

“You saw Sol-fish?” Feferi eyes widened further, “Why didn’t he come?” She turned back to you.

You swallow thickly, rubbing the back of your neck, “I guess he didn’t know you’d be here?”

She seemed unsatisfied with your answer, her smile faltering, “Whale, I guess I should go sea him.” The seadweller turned abruptly and marched over to the side of the sleeping platform, pulling out a bag and stuffing her book inside it along with other things you couldn’t quite catch.

Eridan stuttered, “Fef, that isn’t safe! Someone might recognize you!” He was at her side, hand on her shoulder.

“Nofin is safe, silly!” She chuckled sharply, almost sarcastically.

Eridan looked pained, glancing to you as if begging for assistance. You take a step forward, licking your lips while trying to think of something to say. Which is odd, might you add. You always know what to say. “Feferi, maybe you should listen to Eridan.” Feferi hesitates, fuschia snapping in your direction, “I know a reunion sounds...fucking amazing right now, but it’s dangerous.”

She eyes you carefully, lips pursed into a straight line, “I’ve been on this ship for weeks! Nofin could be betta than some fresh air and to see my friends.” She took Eridan’s hand off her shoulder, tying up her bag, “Me simply being alive is dangerous, I can handle a walk through a market.”

You give Eridan a look that translates as I’m not fighting with her anymore, just let her go.

He responds with one that says I’m not happy. If something happens I’m killing you.

You are surprisingly okay with this.

 

 

 

Feferi pulls on a cloak and Eridan swings his gun around his shoulder. You throw your hood over your head and start the trek back to your temporary camp.

Chapter Text

         In the past following pedigree, your rebel crew has moved around more than the organization has since its founding. It started off as a whisper, a small slither of sound quarreling in the innermost eardrum of those who wanted nothing more but the vicious red blood that pumped vigorously through your veins splattered on the walls for the entire multiverse to see. But then it grew to a chatter and its vibrations seeped into the crust of the planet and made tunnels that spread information faster than a rustblood scurries at the sound of Imperial Drones clunking their feet into puddles of innocent blood. Every night, every day, every second it gets louder and more and more trolls know your story, know your goal. There’s something deeply rooted in your thorax that rumbles with pride at every mention of your name. There is also the painful, sharp, and devastating dread that turns your searing flesh to ice when the faces you’ve come the most acquainted with flash along the screens with the bright bolded words stapled to the bottom that read: “Cull on sight.”

         They seem to know your ranks, and you have no doubt that either a spy has stolen this information from the tight claws of your own personal security or a squeakbeast weaseled its way in and is pumping precious knowledge to your enemies. You hope it’s the first option. Regardless, Kanaya’s face always appears first. The picture comes from the Alternian database, captured during the routine inspections that occur after the first adult molt. You were well hidden before then, your paperwork making officials believe you had died in a freak accident between your lusus and an altercation with another troll. Kanaya’s expression is blank, her lips pulled in a tight line. The flash of the camera lens caused a reaction in her pupils making them to take on small green glare. She looks about the same as she does now, you think, maybe with longer hair and the start of permanent wrinkles creasing her forehead. Sometimes another photo pops up of her, one of which she is mid-duel with a blueblood. You remember that day, the scream she let out as she tore the troll completely in half and the blue blood that splattered down the front of her dress. There was a reporter there that snapped the picture. The Empire uses it to claim that your organization is an act of terror when it is, a matter of fact, the group trying to end the reign of terror to begin with.

         Sollux appears second, much to his sick enjoyment, with extra labels tacked onto his wanted poster. Extremely Dangerous, Psionic, Cull on sight. In his photo, there's a cloak over his head that casts a shadow over his eyes. It’s daylight out and he is wearing extra protection so he doesn’t sizzle in the Alternian sun. The photo is slightly blurry as it was captured in the streets that was crawling with highbloods whose population always seems to grow twice in size in the first hours of light. Sollux’s expression is soft, his head turned to his right side like he was listening for something but there’s no one you recognize near him. He is completely engulfed by highbloods, all wearing some coat or cape of some kind to hide from the dangerous rays baring down. You would like this photograph if it wasn’t used as a way for others to identify and kill him. A second photo is tacked on that only flashes in higher populated areas that shows the red and blue streaks of light pouring from his oculars, his teeth bared and his claws caught in the front pullover of a tealblood. The other troll has a dagger up to Sollux’s throat but you remember shortly after that photo was taken he completely obliterated the body that hand was connected to until nothing but a black, steaming corpse was left frying on the ground in a puddle of teal.

         There’s a few more trolls’ faces that pop up before eventually, Nepeta’s darling grin swipes along the screens that take a break from propaganda every ten minutes to express the dangers of rebellion. It’s the same style photo as Kanaya’s, a routine inspection that had a tiny square identification picture on a stack of papers that eventually get recorded into the Imperial system. Nepeta’s hair is short and choppy as if she had just gotten done crudely slicing it off herself with a pair of grub scissors. That’s probably the case, you decide. She is smiling, her small nose scrunched up like she’s about to laugh. Taking a look at her now, though, she looks completely different in person than the wanted photo. Nepeta’s hair is no longer choppy and has grown a few inches now that it rests on her shoulders. It’s a black mass of knots and tangles that stick up at the ends like the whiskers of a meowbeast. She’s littered with scars and muscles that show off her strength. Out of everyone you believe it is her that has changed the most.

 

 

 


         Reuniting with Eridan and Feferi put hope in everyone’s chests and it continued to swell as the movement pushed forward. Feferi couldn’t stay within your ranks, it was too risky, and instead, she remains on a ship with Eridan, who edits paperwork to always be in your camps parameter. He does often sneak off the ship in peasant attire and lets you read confidential papers and slipping away before the moons rise. The two of you made a system of communication that has lead to some advancements in your numbers as well as progress. Luckily, the seadweller is currently off duty and continues to add time by the minute to his paperwork when able. He doesn’t tell you why he isn’t on board a military vessel at the very moment but he insists it is irrelevant. You let that slide as long as he continues to give you what you ask for.

         It doesn’t mean he is completely off the hook, you don’t entirely trust him and he knows this. Everyone in your organization has orders to kill him if he betrays you in any way and you think he is aware of that, too. Feferi, however, has your full trust and even has the same orders. There was a twinge of sadness in her eyes as she agreed to it, long hair sweeping over her cheeks and spreading out like an oil spill on the white sleeping platform she resided on. She understood why you asked her to do this and has been planning on it herself if the situation had ever arose, but you could see it bugged her so you dropped any further explanation. She already knew.

         Sometimes you would notice Eridan arriving even when he didn’t have any new information and you watched him as he would slip away into a communion tent or even sit along the fire pit with a few members of your crew. There was nothing wrong with having acquaintances, you decided, he has a right to speak with whomever he pleases. But then you noticed Sollux slowly become a part of that circle and you couldn’t look away. The two at first bickered with each other, spitting curses and insults from across camp. Eridan once even spilled a whole pint of liquid down the front of Sollux’s shirt. Sollux retaliated with mashing grub sauce into Eridan’s hair when the seadweller stayed to eat. But then they followed each other around, acting as if they weren’t doing it on purpose till eventually, they had to talk. It was infuriating to watch. Sollux started to show him his work and the two would scribble over plans. Then Eridan actually started to laugh at Sollux’s awful sense of humor and the sound made you physically sick. Then they would sneak off towards the edges of your makeshift camp and talk for hours. You’d watch as they sauntered past your tent, chuckling and pushing each other. You’d pretend not to be mad and go back to reading over the plans Eridan stole for you and Kanaya would chatter away with the other members of your court like they had no idea what was going on.

 

 

 


         There was one night you decided to take a walk to ease your mind when the moons were setting and the scorching Alternian sun was about to rise in the lavender sky. You chose this time because everyone was settling down for patrol or going asleep, and you wanted to be alone with your thoughts. You walked out of camp, pulling your hood over your horns, and settled with trailing the outskirts of your temporary claimed territory. It was a woodsy area, the enormous trunks and shrubbery hid you from view. You listened to the sounds of the busy city not too far away and the chirping of beasts scuttling around trying to find shelter.

Crunch.

         You stop, ears straining forward and focussing on your surroundings. That didn’t exactly sound like a tiny squeakbeast to you. You take another step with caution. There’s another crunch and then a giggle. You feel your shoulders relax and unclench your fists from their positions on your sickles. It was just Sollux, playing a fucking game with you. You continue forward, listening to the sounds of the yellowblood ambling around and the soft swishes of his cloak at it swipes alongside the rough ground. It would be daylight any moment, but you found yourself not caring. You quickened your step, following the sounds as it grew louder. Dodging around the trees wasn’t that big of a deal, but the roots would tangle your feet and you’d stumble and fall forward. It was losing its fun but you kept pushing forward. To the right you could see the outline of your camp through the leaves. Shadows eventually appeared at your feet and you pulled your cloak tighter to hide from the rays slicing through the canopy. Your pace dulled to a slow walk and you listened for the hushed laughter again.

         And then you heard it, just up ahead. You sighed angrily to yourself, hurrying forward to find the idiot before he burned himself. Up ahead was a clearing and there he stood, tall and wrapped up in a black cloak full of patches and rips and holes, he looked like a scoundrel. You were about to yell when a flash of violet caught your eye. Eridan appeared from around the tree Sollux was standing in front of, wearing a simple dusty cape and hood. The noise died in your throat as they embraced, your presence completely unknown and irrelevant. Then they pulled back and, wait fuck, wait a second. Eridan’s ringed hand cupped Sollux’s jaw, the diamonds flashing in the harmful light. Sollux’s hands grasped the front of the seadweller’s simplistic disguise and roughly pulled him closer. You wanted to look away but your gander bulbs were glued to the scene unfolding in front of you like some sort of sick self-inflicted torture. The distance between them grew smaller and smaller until their lips touched in a feverish, passionate kiss that you were not supposed to see.

 

 


You decided that was enough punishment and dragged your feet back to camp with a thousand pounds of iron weighing in your guts.

Chapter Text

“If you see here, there’s a forked pathway between the two cities. It has coverage,” Eridan pointed his bejeweled finger on the map, “It’s perfect for an ambush, many supply carts a’ drones pass by with important details.”

Your well-trusted councilman hummed at the idea, “But the drones? And why travel on foot and not on ship?”

Eridan pursed his lips, “Pirates are equally as trouble in this region. Better on land, suppose, than in space.”

The councilman nodded, glancing over the map and placing a small stone at the left side of the fork, “This is underbrush, yes? We could hide underneath...then grab them from below.”

You cleared your throat, the vibrations stirred a slight throb in your thorax. It had been chilly in the hills, but you can’t afford to be sick. “How do you know this, Ampora?”

Eridan’s eyes flashed your direction, “I’ve delivered before, as a trainee.”

“Didn’t you say it was drones? What kind would do such a thing, regardless?” You hissed. Not that you wished to admit it, the resentment had been festering for a while now. The sight of him angered you in the most platonic way. Not your usual set of temper, no, this one was set very deep.

“There are different models,” God, what an annoyance, “Not just pailin’ drones anymore, ya hear?” His voice was so annoying, your eyebrow twitches almost every syllable.

“It would’ve been nice to fucking know that a little sooner, you grubfucking bitch,” You growl, tongue set back, “I’m not wasting precious lives over, what? Scaps of paper? They have no promise to me. We’d be better off finding more food, you stinking fish.”

Eridan frowned, “Those documents..are valuable information.”

“Says the disgraced soldier. Blistering fuck, all you care about are papers.”

The seadweller stands up roughly, the table rocking under the weight of his hands as he slammed them down, “Have..you any idea what I am tryin’ to do for you? The more information we have, the more chances we have. What don’t you understand?”

You match his height, or at least try to, the highblood has a good head on you. The councilman gulps, standing between the two trolls, “Funny you say ‘we’, when in fact each day you crawl back to that ship, that slave ship, and put on that tyrannical beast’s symbol upon your head.”

Eridan leaned forward abruptly, but your friend darts a hand out in front of him. It wouldn’t hold him back, but the symbolism was fair, “How dare you! I’m riskin’ my life for you!”

“Oh shut up!”

“No, I won’t! You have criticized me every step of the way. But I have done nothin’ to lose your trust. I come here...each night an’ give you every message I receive. An’ It is never enough, is it?” His voice warbles, thick seatalk flooding into his accent.

“You tried to murder Kanaya.” Your lip furls as you lean in. You can feel his cold breath as he huffs in your face.

“That was sweeps ago," His expression softens with disappointment, "I’ve repented many times.” 

You don't bother to pardon this fool, nor his reasoning. He apologized at his convenience, but it was never going to be enough. The sheer violence of his grubhood that you bore witness to, and not alone, set your teeth on edge. There was a time he once tried to duel Sollux, cull him too. How Feferi stays in his quarters, you can't understand. How Sollux can pity this wreck, you can't understand. It felt as if the entire world was tilted in the opposite direction and everyone decided to fuck with you. You thought you could handle him being here, that he actually could make amends. You know now it will never happen, especially after certain events. And fuck everyone who spites you behind your back. This was more than enough.

“And your trust? Is forever fucking broken.” You jerk back, “Get out of my face, I don’t want to see you.”

The seadweller hesitates for a moment but collects his things and trudges to the tent’s opening. He pauses again, only tilting his head to utter the words: “Your jealousy will kill you if you aren’t careful.”

The emotion you felt rocketing in your chest exploded, “Get the FUCK out!” You throw the table in his direction.

Eridan got the fuck out.

 

 

 

 


“He can’t stand me,” You whisper into Sollux’s palm.

Sollux chuckled, his other hand nestled upon your hair, “Well, you aren’t very agreeable.”

The lights in the tent danced around as the two of you piled together in a heap of furs and your cape. It was chilly, even for a highblood such as yourself. It sent honkbeast bumps down the bare skin of your matesprit’s back. You traced over them lightly, smiling.

“You’re not wrong, but...I’m only tryin’ to help.”

Sollux looked down at the mess that was supposed to be some kind of fearless officer in the Imperial Army, a cheeky grin plastered on his dumb face, “Help by being the most annoying thing to exist in this galaxy, I’m sure.”

You laughed, scooting up to place a gentle kiss on his lips only for him to back away.

“Listen to me, Ed,” He whispered, bumping his forehead against yours, “You won’t win this.”

“I’m not trying to win anythin’.” You insisted, locking horns.

Sollux chirped, a noise that made your bloodpusher melt, “Stop being so stubborn. When the guy has a grudge, he’s gonna fucking die with it.”

“I’m not gonna let him continue on with this. I have changed, Sol.” You thumb over his temple, such tender flesh. Will this troll be the death of you?

Sollux doesn’t challenge it further but instead give you that kiss you’d been asking for. You cup your hand fully on his cheek, pulling him as close as you can. You swear you hear him mutter the word ‘stupid’ as he rolled on top on your chest, kissing over your scars from both previous encounters and your time as an officer. You pull him back up to kiss him on the lips again, repeating each chirp he cooed at you. It was so gushingly red, all this. It vallicated often, triggered by the most trivial things. But it was the most you’d felt for anyone, and at times you felt as if your chest would explode if not kept at bay by your thinkpan.


Both your legs tangle in your cape as you toss about but no one pays any mind. Sollux was gentle as can be when it was as flush like this, always kissing on you, loving on you. It was like the romance novels, you think. All sappy and sweet. Hardly like a troll at all. But Sollux was hardly a troll. There was barely a mark on his soft ashen skin and if there was, none was raised due to combat. No need for close range fighting, the lad didn’t need to touch a thing to obliterate someone. His fingers were long and smooth, so kind at times and trying to choke you at others. How unlike your ringed hands which were littered with scars from blisters and constant fighting. Your body was covered, too. You like to think that war treated you much better than others, but Sollux croons over your flesh like a lusus to a grub.

You didn’t mean to stay the day, you try to sneak back to the ship when you can. But Sollux holds you put, so helpless and full of pity. You decide in your clouded thinkpan to remain in his tent, spending the day pailing and laying together instead. He holds you close each time as if to protect you. You whisper in his ear how much you pity him and he will chitter at you. His mutant eyes always lock with yours, and sometimes you try to find his pupils in the midst of all that color. But you’re lost, so incredibly lost.