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 The eerie flow of teal streams streaking across the sky overhead gave an almost stormy feel to Eridan’s arrival on lotaf. He welcomed the dramatic aura with an approving hum, having already used up the adrenaline rush his previous strife with the humans gave him. His nerves had since settled back into a calm, focused, drive again; still pushing him towards the brink of a meltdown, but at least he could think straight.  Clutching the bloodied corpse in his arms, he closed his frenzied eyes and took a deep breath. He could do this. Everything had become clear these past few days, and nothing the game could throw at him could stop him now.

His search for Terezi's hive covered slopes, caves, and forests - accompanied by random hope explosions when he came across the occasion suspicious game relic. He was ready to ping Terezi herself to ask for the location when he suddenly spotted a familiar looking doll hanging from a tree. He grinned, and followed the trail of condemned plushies until he reached what he was looking for.

Terezi's treehive loomed above him, seeming taunting him and his journey as he approached the base and peered up. He couldn't hear anything, and he knew Karkat wouldn't pick up if he messaged him, so he did the only thing he could think of.

Eridan threw the body over his shoulder and gathered light in his hand, announcing his presence by blowing up a limb right outside of Terezi's respiteblock window.

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Long bouts of Smash Hatchmate, interrupted only by snack breaks and furious, surreptitious Trollian chats, tended to slip into mindless distractions and wasted hours. Somewhere around best 13 our of 25, Karkat had stopped counting wins or paying much attention to anything besides button mashing and internally repeating old conversations until his head pounded between his eyes.  So the noise of breaking and falling wood from outside startled him badly enough his character flipped right off the fucking stage.

"What the fuck was that?" Dropping the now useless controller he padded over to the window, sticking his head out and frowning around until stopping, very suddenly, at the sight of Eridan.  "What the hell?"

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The second he saw nubby horns pop up from the open window, Eridan beamed. He couldn't see his eyes from here, nor any indication of his blood color. The only thing Eridan saw was his darling palemate peering down at him from atop a lofty perch, and his saccharine smolder kicked in almost instantaneously, "Karkat Vantas, pale lovve of my life, regardless a wwhat blood color you wwere doomed to possess, you and I wwere fated to be moirails the night wwe wwere hatched."

Reaching up, he clicked something on his glasses and Troll GooGoo Dolls started playing in the background. "Clearly, some basshole deity is tryin to make our livves miserable, and its been a shitty couple wweeks with one bleary outlook on the horizon, but cod damn it Kar - I ain't afraid a some glubbin omnipotent fool wwho doesn't knoww wwhat serendipity is and nor should you be.  Evven if the odds are stacked against us, and this game is designed to see to our mutual destruction, the human band 'The Smiths' said it best; to die by your side wwell the pleasure... the pleasure is mine."

"So evven," he paused, fidgeting with something in his pocket before shoving it back and looking up again. "Evven if you don't wwant anyfin to do wwith me anymore, I wwant you to knoww that I havven't givven up on you, and I nevver will. You're my diamond, my land bouyfriend, and I'm your seadude. Forevver."

And with that, he raised up Stan's corpse, presenting Karkat with the best pale present he could offer: the mutilated body of his most hated ex hate interest.

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Scowling with his arms crossed over the windowframe, Karkat had expected another massive heap of ridiculous shit; more raving and theory about time and the game and his blood like his existence was some plan and not just the accident of some lazyfuck jadeblood.  When it didn't come, though, his frown lessened around the edges, brows unknotting and ears going reddish at the tips and pink everywhere else.  He leaned forward a bit, brows slowly lifting up across his forehead as Eridan did a pretty decent imitation of the protagonist of In which an aspiring greenblood ruffiannihilator begins flushed intentions towards a high achieving teal legislacerator candidate during their final quarter sweep etc etc. 

Then the seadweller lifted up the load draped across his shoulders and Karkat straightened, banging his skull on the fucking window like an idiot and yelping.  "Is that a fucking *corpse*?!  Is that- is that Stan, holy shit??"

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"Is what Stan?" Sollux echoed from across the loungeblock, tongue between his teeth as he tried unsuccessfully to cull the shit out of Terezi's remaining three lives.  With a hiss of frustration he jerked his hands up into the air, letting the controller fall from them before frowning off in Karkat's direction.  "Who the shit are you talking to?"

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Clutching at the back of his head and hissing through his teeth, Karkat jerked a shoulder back towards the opened window.  "Eridan culled Stan, apparently!  Since they're both rank fuckwits who can't handle a regular weapon let alone mystical miracle game powers.  And Stan pretty much fucking deserved it."  Bending again to look back out the window, Karkat's mouth twisted.  "Permanently dead or just you shits messing around and him hopefully learning a lesson?"

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Plopping the body on the ground in front of him, Eridan scowled at the second voice he heard coming from the tree and crossed his arms with a sour look about him. "No, its actually an albino troll with an ailin horn condition - a COURSE its Stan you dimwwitted scuttlebrain. I beat the shit out a him wwhen he came ovver to stomp around on your planet."

With a flick of the wrist, he pointed out the space garb and made sure to show off the damage. "He's cod tier noww, so he should revvivve sometime soon. I'd say he learned a lesson, but he's beyond pandamaged on his best day so wwe'll see about that. I made it clear he wwasn't wwelcome, but he kicked me and I killed him twwice: once for the shit he pulled on you, and secondly because-"

He shuddered, carrying up his hand to nervously stroke his neck gills. "Nevvermind. So enjoy your present, I guess.

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"You bring a dead body as a present and *I'm* the pandamaged one, right."  Eyebrows bunching together heavily again, Karkat gave the dead human a long, digusted look before looking up at Eridan again, expression doubtful.  "If I come down there to kick it are you going to flip your shit again and start tearing up Terezi's land for no fucking reason?  Or is this a desecration-safe zone, all passerby welcome, and you can keep freaking out afterwards?"

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"I've already scoured LOTAF. There ain't nothin here but saliva trails and wweird flowwy shit. No reason is right, wwaste a my time." Eridan grumbled, but then took notice of the hesitant tone of Kar's voice and his earfins began drooping. Evidently, his moirail was still wary of him despite his heartfelt performance. He was sure the speech, music, and present would have done the trick, but the look on Kar's face said differently.

Eridan pouted. The whys and reasons of his freakout were the furtherst things on his mind. He just wanted his boyfriend back without all the hangups involved. Hangups that he still didn't care to address.

"You can come down," He offered, glaring beside the space next to Kar's head in the open window. "If mister sarlacc mouth and miss con-teal-legality don't havve any /objections/."

He took a beat, his earfins still hanging low. "I wwant you back. I wwant you here."

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"I can hear you, shitstain!"  Sollux shouted, scowling as he glanced over his shoulder.  He paused, catching Karkat's eye briefly before shrugging and picking up his controller again.  "Fucking nubhard douchefin.  You gonna do it?  Should I put this embarrassing beatdown on pause?"

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Rolling his eyes, Karkat shoved up off the window (avoiding his head this time) and crossed his arms, staring hard at the floor for a long minute as he considered.  Finally he shrugged, forced and overly, deliberately casual.  "Yeah, might as fucking well.  I want to spit on Stan's face either fucking way for that shit he said earlier.  And--"

Figure the rest of this endless one way train to hoofbeastshit town out, mostly, but who fucking knew what the likelihood of that was.  Probably about the same as his being crowned Empress.

"And you're sucking anyway so the only embarrassment being interrupted here is your own.  An appealing prospect, I know."

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Terezi sighed and peeled herself out of the comfortable cocoon of her couch once Sollux turned the game off. "I don't know how much this is helping, Cherrycake," she sighed, and wandered over to the window next to Karkat. The smell of delicious cherry blood was all over the ground outside her hive, and she sneezed. Highblood posturing was nearly always pointless. She made a scornful sound in her throat and shook her head down at Eridan. "It doesn't reek of falsehood, at least. But still. Caution."

She patted Karkat on the shoulder, then walked back into her hive so she could dig more grubloaf out of the temperature regulation device. She was determined not to get more involved in feedingschool drama more than was absolutely necessary.

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With two petulant, put upon sighs, Sollux shoved himself up to his feet as well, cramming both hands into his pockets and and padding off in her direction.  "Don't take any shit," he added before following Terezi to the nutrition cube, stopping on her heels as he peered over her shoulder.

"Do you have anything that doesn't taste like a color vomit explosion?" he muttered, spinning around and jamming his shoulders up against the nearest shelf unit for a better view of Karkat's drama.

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Upon hearing his kismesis' retort, Eridan growled and hopesliced Stan's head clean off, chucking it into the open window. "Hope that got you in the FUCKIN face! Probably all the action you'vve got since I last saww you, nerdbreath."

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One leg out the window, Karkat froze as a decapitated human head sailed right past him to land inside the hive. His head snapped right back around to glare down. "Are you fucking serious? Should I just wait around with a thumb up my chute while you keep running around doing this happy fun time fuckshit you're up to, and when you're done I'll come down and you can finish whatever the fuck it is you've been planning in between busy bouts of not listening to a single god damned word that chokes its way out of my mouth and a jam packed schedule of pointless, unpacified destruction! Here, let me check my calendar- why don't we do this at half past you growing the fuck up? It's a nice time of day for feeling like utter shit on my part, and in the meantime I'll just occupy myself with taking a massive, steaming dump on the head of my other failed quadrant!"

Growling and gritting his teeth, mostly at himself, Karkat twisted and started climbing right back into the window.

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"Kar! No!" Eridan cried out, rushing towards the tree with his hands reaching upwards as to will Karkat back to him, Any thoughts of retribution or indignation quickly disapated and he was back to feeling hopeless and anxious. He could feel their beautiful moirallegiance slip through his fingers like soiled water through his gills, and his chest panged from the painful memory of both the polluted seas back home and the miserable nights he spent alone these past few weeks.

"Wwe're not... failed." He croaked, his expression turning more desperate by the second. "Please come down. I mean, it's been hell, Kar. I've been absolutly fuckin destitute, this ain't fair! Wwe can't go on like this! It's like our livves are on pause and wwe're driftin through this meaninless limbo of an existance.You- you feel the same, right? I'm... lost."

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Terezi made a gagging sound in the background, sticking her tongue out and miming an overly dramatic episode of chunk-spewing, then cackled to Sollux. "This is disgusting, hehehehe." She dug around until she pulled out a browngrub spaghetti with browngrub sauce that had been boiled until it was nearly flavorless, and handed it to Sollux. "That won't offend your delicate flavor palate too much, constable." She turned to the window again, and yelled out to Eridan. "Bloodstains take forever to get off the floor, and it disrupts the carefully constructed scent pathway! Go away if you're going to be an annoying useless lump! The tears are already smelly enough without you being a desperate loser!"

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"What the fuck, Terezi, you'd willingly stuff the entirety of your hideously cute sniffnode into a gaper if it was bright red. Shit, considering the level of stupid hoofbeastshit and general uselessness pouring out of my flap lately it's figuratively already happened! So I don't want to hear falsified testimony about my tears, holy fuck." Scrubbing both hands up through his hair before glancing at her, Karkat sighed a little and deflated. Grinding his back teeth together in thought, he finally turned back down towards the seadweller.

"Wow, not fair? It's not fucking fair?? You know what's not fair, you *promising* over and over again that color didn't matter!  And me telling you it did, and damn, another stroke of brilliance by me, because which one of us was right?! This," he jabbed a finger towards his eye, "isn't fucking fair, you running off like an intolerable douche so you can pretend it's not *really* real, I'm not a *real* freak of nature, while I fucking sit around and miss you-"

 

Stopping himself hard, Karkat flipped both middle fingers in the direction of the ground before turning to look for wherever the head rolled off and distract himself.

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"Yes yes, color /doesn't/ matter anymore, but I wwasn't thinkin a - **Kar**!" Eridan's voice squeaked upon his exclamation, and with his pulse racing, he flew over to the bottom of the step ladder.

"Wwhat, I mean are you sayin you /wwant/ to be a freak a nature? You /don't/ wwant to see if you can change back? Shore wwhats done is done, but that doesn't mean it has to stay that wway!" He argued, hysteria now seeping through his words as he proceeded to climb towards the entrance of Terezi's hive. "Come on Kar, don't be like this."

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"Change back," Karkat repeated, too disgusted by the fact they were circling back around to this - again - instead of actually talking - *again* - to even muster up a real response.  The whole thing was so stupid and rage inducing, he had somehow become so sick and angry that it circled back around into calm, a double Möbius reach around of exhaustion.

Instead he grabbed the human head from the floor by the hair before it got even more hideous gross red everywhere. Lifting it to eye level, he shot it a dirty look before glancing toward the nutritionblock.  "Change 'back,' jegus shitwarts, what the fuck is that supposed to be, back to what?? Fucking-- Is there an absorption fabric square in there?"

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Sollux shot Karkat an equally disgusted look before turning and yanking open a few drawers, peering into each of them before slamming them shut and moving on.  After a moment he managed to locate a bright, multi-colored clawcloth and he snatched it up in one hand before marching it out to the other troll.  "Yeah, here.  You need it to mop up the amazing amount of bullshit streaming from ED's flap?"

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Arriving at the top, Eridan blew open the hatch door and flung himself over. Glancing about the unfamiliar room, he began searching for the voices he only heard just behind the walls as his cape swished behind him.

"I- I don't know." He stuttered, his pace slowing as he mulled over the answer. "Somefin that wwon't make you feel so destable and lowwly. Somefin you don't need to hide from or LIE about."

"Wwhy don't you tell /me/ wwhat? Wwe can make it happen!"

 

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"We would need a bigger fucking fabric square," Karkat replied, taking the square from Sollux and tossing it down to rub up the extra blood from Terezi's floor with his foot. As Eridan burst in, though, he paused, looking over, brows furrowing deeper with every word coming from the seadweller.

"Oh my shit," he growled, free hand dragging through his hair until he'd grabbed a full fist's worth to yank, eyes narrowed.  "There's nothing to fucking go back to!!!! I'm a fucking mutant, and even if you sat around furiously squeezing magical hope powers out of every obscene orifice for hours until a true messiah miracle occurred and I woke up as a rustblood like some demented puppet turned into a *real* troll, I'd still be a fucking mutant deep down, and everybody would know!!! Fucking SHIT, just fucking LISTEN to me!"

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The ear-grating sound of Kar's freakout erupted from just behind the chalk covered wall to Eridan's left, and with a dire sense of urgency he rounded the corner and spotted both his quadrantmates standing in the nutritionblock. Kar's head was in his hands with his fingers pulling at his unkempt locks and for the love of cod Eridan just wanted to go over there and pap the shell out of him. The sheer need to quell his moirail's anguish compelled him to move forward, but his lingering uncertainty coupled with Sol's proximity pulled him pack.

So he was left standing halfway in between the door and the two trolls, eyes wide and shaking as he scrambled for an answer.

The only thing he could manage to say was a weak, "Kar?"

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"What?!?" Karkat spat back, taking half a step backwards before forcibly stopping himself. It was the first time they'd been in the same room since all that shit had gone down, and the weight of the weeks between suddenly settled down over him with a spike of misery. Karkat dropped the human head right back to the floor, spattering the absorption square as he jammed the heel of one palm against his eye. He could feel his eyes stinging with gross pink fluid and blinked, sucking in a hard breath as he tried to figure out if he was more angry or upset. "What, Eridan?!  Going to go fuck off again on a mystical quest to make me acceptable?? Kar WHAT???"

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Eridan faltered, nearly whimpering from Karkat's response as he shot Sollux a warning look and then focused back on his moirail. At first he thought he was going to start crying himself, but after a long hard look at him he sensed something different stir from within. For the first time in weeks, Eridan felt the tension in his gut start to unravel from the monstrous knot that had gathered there since that fateful day. The corners of his mouth actually started to turn upwards,  laughter escaping his lips as he exhaled a long breath and blurted out, "Stop cryin, you look terrible. Wwhens the last time you brushed your hair? If anyfins unacceptable its how spit caked your mop looks."

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As soon as Eridan started laughing, Karkat froze completely, staring back blankly with one hand still in his hair and the other pressed to the corner of one eye.  Every stupid collection of feelings and embarrassing self-recriminations running through his head stopped as his pan stuttered out for a second.  And then it kicked back in and he didn't feel conflicted anymore - just angry.

"Go FUCK yourself," Karkat snarled, voice dropping low into his throat and nearly into a growl. His hands dropped down, curling up into claws and loosening again, unnoticed, as he tried and failed to check the tears now free to fall. It was embarrassing as shit, like he hadn't already cried enough over this, and that just added another hot stab of fury to the growing flame.  "You fucking douchebag, are you that fucking stupid or is this just a big elaborate hideous purple signature on the cull warrant? How fucking hard is it to troll up and end it, if I'm so fucking repulsive?!  Or what, any quadrant's better than an empty one, as long as you can keep pretending nothing's wrong and my sad stupid ugly bullshit is temporary?!  I can't believe I've been so FUCKING STUPID and TRUSTED you!!"

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Arms crossed over his chest and still sulking in a corner as far away from this disgusting mess of fuckupery as he could reasonably get without leaving the room, Sollux's head jerked up abruptly as Karkat's voice spiked.  A sharp snarl of encouragement wormed its way out between his teeth before he snapped his jaw shut and continued to awkwardly inch sideways closer to the nutritionblock.

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Whatever provided Eridan the semblance of peace he thought he found vanished in an instant the moment Karkat raised his voice. All of a sudden, it was like they were in Kar's block again back on Lopah and he was spiraling. The moment 'end it' hit his earfins a lump formed in his throat and he wailed, covering up his face to hide his anguish - but it was of no use. Upon hearing Sollux snarl, he was shamefully reminded that there was an audience to his abject failure. But honestly, he could have been in front of the imperial guard itself and he wouldn't have been able to hold it together. This was by far the lowest point in his life, and there was only one thing left for him to do.

"I'm... I'm s-sorry, Kar." Eridan sputtered out through his sobs, "I didn't mean it, I wwas just-"

He shook his head, knowing there was no excuse worth saying for his recent behavior. "No. Kar, I thought that if I believed hard enough, that everything wwould go back to the wway things wwere. I thought- I /thought/ that if I had enough faith that wwe wwouldn't havve to suffer any longer."

Glancing up at the other troll, he attempted to take in steady breaths, buy they only came out as blubbery spurts. "But I fucked up, didn't I? You're mad at /me/, aren't you? You're not mad at the game or that you wwere hatched this wway. /I/ did this to you. It's my fault."

The realization dawned upon him like a merciless supernova of white light, and he looked down at his trembling hands with his stupid rings and just croaked, "Oh cod, wwho's the repulsivve one here? My blood might as wwell be soot colored and rancid for wwhat I put you through."

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"Gross," Terezi said, wrinkling her nose. She marched in front of Karkat and blocked his view of the sobbing sea dweller.

 

"Mister Ampora," she said, voice clipped and precise, and she tapped her cane on the floor as she spoke. "You are breaking six laws at the moment, and are clawing at the edge of a few other dubious legalities. If you don't start to comport yourself with dignity and stop tormenting my matesprit, I'm going to arrest you with full approval from the legislascerative committee." She nodded over at her line of scalemates. "The normal penalty for trespassing on legal property is culling. So shut up, ugh. Purple tears stain even worse than cherry blood."

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The sudden interruption threw Eridan for a loop, and his bout of self-pity was cut off by an overwhelming sense of frustration.

Clenching his fists, he glared at the troll standing before him and defended himself with a yelp, "Torment him? Wwhat's it lookin like I'm tryin to do This aint the time for your legislacerator tricks, I'm tryin to make things right here-"

He faltered slightly, peering across the room at his seething moirail and then down towards his hands, "Oh cod, I hope..."

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"Jegus spongefucking shit!  This is the worst grubbing bullshit I've ever laid my ocular sockets on, holy fuck.  Fuck!"  Sollux spat, finally kicking off from the wall and slumping over to stand shoulder-to-shoulder next to Terezi.  He gagged at the full-on view of Eridan's sobbing fest, a look of disgust sliding across his face as he forced himself to look at his wreck of a kismesis.  "Wow yeah, because leaking puke-colored ocular water all over everyone and calling your moirail a fakeblooded freak is going to really help your diamond out, /oh wait./  Ugh.  Ugh!  This is so fucking gross I'm going to cull myself by pulling out my nutrition sack and beating myself in the face with it.  Why the grubshitting fuck are you crying /now?/"

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The last thing Eridan needed amongst this terrible fiasco was Sollux's judgment, so getting to his feet, he made every effort to make himself look more presentable and snapped, "Just go back to your fuckin wwiggler gamefest tournament and leavve me to fuckin rot! I don't need no interrogation, I'vve wwasted too much time already concernin myself wwith somefin thats obvviously not goin to change."

Pressing the pad of his thumbs into his tear ducts, he willed his tears away and began to breathe normally, "And if thats howw its going to be, then so be it. My moirails a mutantblood."

His eyes flashed open. The reality of those words finally sinking in as he repeated mostly to himself, "My moirail is a mutantblood. Kar's a mutantblood and alwways wwil be."

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"And always HAS BEEN, you incomprehensibly thickpanned asshole," Karkat snapped. With both Terezi and Sollux blocking his view of Eridan, his anger and frustration snapped back in on itself, aimless and ready to feed right back into his self loathing.  Taking a step forward, he leaned forward to press his forehead again the back of Terezi's shoulder, still growling softly and swiping at his eyes. "What a terrible god damned tragedy."

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"Holy shit, it's a twelfth perigee miracle!  Someone hook a feed up to the video plugin so that we can record this moment for future generations.  ED finally admits obvious shit is true: front page headlines for the next ten sweeps."  Sollux rolled his eyes but refused to move away, the vomit-inducing disgust in the back of his throat loosening slightly as Eridan began to look slightly less like a weepy pile of receptacle garbage.  He twisted slightly, glancing over his shoulder at Karkat before taking a half-step to his right to give him a better view of the seadweller.  "Whatever, it's not like you aren't used to having a double-serving of mutant bullshit up in your grill anyway.  Maybe you just have a quadrant fetish."

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"Holy shit, it's a twelfth perigee miracle!  Someone hook a feed up to the video plugin so that we can record this moment for future generations.  ED finally admits obvious shit is true: front page headlines for the next ten sweeps."  Sollux rolled his eyes but refused to move away, the vomit-inducing disgust in the back of his throat loosening slightly as Eridan began to look slightly less like a weepy pile of receptacle garbage. "Whatever, it's not like you aren't used to having a double-serving of mutant bullshit up in your grill anyway.  Maybe you just have a quadrant fetish."

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The "quadrant fetish" comment earned Sollux a punch to the grubscars, which Eridan delivered gladly as soon as his eyes were dry. He was a millisecond away from shouting something along the lines of "you knoww this is different", but one glance at Kar's sulking head hidden behind Ter's shoulder silenced him.

"Wwhatevver." Eridan said instead, glaring at all three trolls and clutching his stomach as it churned in shame.  "I guess I'll go jump in the space crack and make shore none a the other humans come barrellin onto our planets. Unless-"

His eyes moved to Karkat, but his jaw hung slack. He didn't know whether to honor his request to "fuck off" or keep pursuing him. So standing there, his mouth open not unlike a gaping fish, Eridan mulled over his next course of action which he felt could make or break their endangered moirallegience.

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"Unless you go sit in the garmentchamber in the dark by yourself and think about why it is that you're so incapable of acting sane!" Terezi yelled, and marched up to Eridan to yell in his face. "You can't string him along like this or it'll kill both of you!" She reached out and pinned his limp arms to his side so she'd be able to frog-march him away if he tried to resist arrest. "I've passed a sentence for the crime of trespassing on the revered land of a legislacerator, one which is precedented in the case of Rentak vs Legislacerator Uniler. Solitary confinement in the closet where you will sit and think for as long as I see fit. You will ponder on your intolerance and on your personal insanity and on what fit of rage brought you to so callously break into my hive. Think on why you have instigated violence against an unknown and unquantified alien force. Think on why you are such a wretched sack of soggy gills! Resist and I will cull you with the full strength and approval of the law."

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So close. Eridan was so close to papping that sad, pitiful face, but like the shithead he was, he let doubt overtake him and now Terezi was getting all up in his gills. Now he was plain angry, and with a low growl he flung out his wings and struggled to get the tealblood off of him. "Under wwho's /fuckin/ jurisdiction and wwhat laww? Lawws nothin noww, or else you'd havve to sentence us both for harborin and datin a fugitivve - wwhich you and I both knoww is a cullable offense back home, yet here wwe are. So get your grubby hands off a me and let me do my fuckin job!"

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"What fucking job?  All you've done since you got here is leak from the holes in your faceplate and embarrass everyone within glubbing distance."  Sollux screwed up his face, coughing once as he rubbed at the sore spot between his grubscars that was probably going to blossom into a massively disgusting bruise by tomorrow.   Your /fucking moirail's/ been dropping hints like diseased flies all night and hey, wow, I know, why don't you just completely ignore everything he says.  Oh wait, except you already have!  Congratufuckinglations!  You hideous piece of trash."  He growled low in the back of his throat before crossing his arms and glancing back in Karkat's direction.  "Fuck this.  You can do better than that douchefin."

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Turning his attention away from Terezi, Eridan glared holes into Sollux's mutant skull as his eyes darkened into ominous orange orbs.

"Do betta? Do BETTER you say?" Eridan ripped himself away from Terezi with all his might and flung himself onto Sollux, snarling. "Comin from the piece a trash wwho cant hold a fuckin pale relationship to savve his FUCKIN life - your opinion doesn't amount to a crock a SHIT!!"

His hand traveled upwards, knotting a hunk of Sollux's hair in his claw and immediately smashed his head into the nearest surface without reservation.

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Snarling, Sollux's hand flew up to his skull, fingers pressing hard against the dripping glob of wetness seeping through his hair.  This was stupid.  Everything was fucking stupid, and he tried to round about on Eridan with the seadweller's hand still holding him down, one fist crackling blue as he swung it wildly upward.  "FUCK YOU!!   At least I wasn't an egotistical, raging shitwad while she was still alive, but hey, yeah, you're right - I'm the /worst piece of shit/ moirail ever hatched and you're an even bigger loser!  So what the fuck does that say about you?"  His fist smashed into Eridan's jaw, hitting off-center before bouncing past his earfin.  The hand in his hair stubbornly refused to leave, and with another snarl he pulled his arm back to try again.

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Eridan roared in pain as his shark teeth pieced his tongue, his earfin flagging as Sol's nails nearly cut through the tines.  After having them ripped by Stan, his earfins and gills had become even more vulnerable and having them fucked with now set off a sickening response from deep within. Struggling to stay focused, he narrowed his eyes and fought to spit out a bloody response, "It says you're shittier than a deck covvered in gullbeast droppins wwithout a sorry fuck to swwab you up. Like I could evver sink so loww - but thanks for settin the mark!" 

Letting go of Sol's bloody head , he wound his knee back and slammed it between his legs, aiming straight for his bone bulge.

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Terezi shrieked as Eridan attacked Sollux, breaking several other laws in the process. If they wanted to have a kismesis fight, they could do it in their own damn hives. She jumped in front of Sollux as he doubled over and shoved Eridan back from him as hard as she could. "Shut up!!!" It was a poor choice to thwack him across the skull, so she restrained herself with great effort. "If you're going to be nasty wrigglers who can't control their bone bulges, then get the hell out of my hive and don't drag your hideous black romance into this mess! I don't care about following the letter of the law when Karkat is involved, so I won't hesitate to commence with vigilante justice to keep him safe from your highblood insanity."

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"/Fine!!/  I'll fucking remove my useless glutes.  It's not like I'm helping grubfucking shit anyway!  Worst best friend award: oh look I guess I won again this sweep, good thing I already planned my acceptance speech, fuck!  Fuck!!"  A rush of color flooded his face, and Sollux hissed and jerked in the direction of the doorway - getting about a foot there before the hand gripping his hair stopped him again.  With a yelp of frustration he twisted around once again, noodle arms flailing as he dropped his weight and tried to rip his hair out of the Eridan's fist.  His skull stung as a satisfying handful tore away, and he swung one knee up toward the seadweller's gut to try to finish the job.

----------

Eridan let out a bloody cough and curled reflexively when Sol's shoe met his gut. Laying there in a heap of wretched fury and failure, he felt no satisfaction at Sols outburst nor resentment at Terezi's interjection. It was hard for him to feel anything besides the cold hard truth of everything he had just learned continually shocking him back to the present over and over again.

----------

Fucking- fucks, just straight, unadulterated *fuck* , and Karkat jammed both palms up into his eyes. The Grand Fistfight Fuckery Jamboree continued across the floor of Terezi's hive for absolutely no good reason. Everybody's yelling was climbing right up the back of his pan to settle in with the anger and misery and steady, pounding headache, the beat of which was spreading out down into his ears and throat until he shook his head.

"God, fucking stop," Karkat muttered, lowering his hands and looking up with a scowl. Completely grubfucking unacceptable -- especially over *his* unrelenting bullshit -- and the pulsing in his head grew louder until it actually drowned out whatever stupid counterproductive argumentative team-destructive shit they were screeching at each other. Everything felt sort of heavy and unpleasant.

"I fucking said, /STOP/!" The growl caught up in his throat, sharp and piercing and echoing around the leisureblock weirdly. "Everybody shut the *fuck* up before you all kill each other."

----------

Both sets of Sollux's teeth snapped shut with an audible "click," and he abruptly turned to stare at Karkat.  His thinkpan spun and then spun again, looking for traction and finding none, and so instead he just blinked silently at the shorter troll, claws still digging into his palms until he remembered to slowly unclench them.

----------

Miraculously, Eridan felt the searing heat blazing behind his eyes reliquish itself in a wave of clarity. It felt as though somebody from somewhere slapped him upside the head and forced him to snap out of whatever just took ahold of him. He directed his attention at Karkat now, his mind clear as crystal as all thoughts of rage and confusion fizzled out and died.

"Kar?" He perked up, furrowing his brow as he came to.

----------

The sudden silence actually surprised him, and Karkat stood there, startled for a second, before swallowing heavily.  His head - his pulse, shit - was still pounding, like he'd just run halfway around his stupid planet but without turning into a sweaty, out of breath mess of garbage.  At least it was marginally, mildly quieter now, and when he cleared his throat again it seemed unnaturally loud.  "This.  Is stupid.  We've all boarded the runaway single track goods transportation device to stupid, and now we get to watch our impending, inevitable death approaching as the device derails and crashes into the ground like an explosion of our mutual shame.  Stop fucking fighting.  We're supposed to be fucking hatefriends here, disgusting hatching defects or not. Jegus."

The sense of hyperreality wavered for a second and Karkat huffed, rubbing a hand over his face until he could feel his fucking bloodpusherbeat under his skin, and how it sped up as he looked back at his friends.  "Eridan, if you ever say shit about Aradia again I'll beat your ass myself. Go home before you ruin your other fucking relationship, until you're ready to have a fucking conversation and not a wiggler pissy fit."

----------

"Ruin?" Eridan whimpered, ready to argue the differ, but one look at Karkat's angry, weary eyes told him this wasn't the time. In fact, he was certain that "time" may not come for quite some time unless he started doing the very thing that his dear, patient moirail had asked of him since the beginning of their relationship. So, for the first time in several weeks, Eridan listened.

Lowering his dead compliance, the seadweller got up off the ground and adjusted his cape in an attempt to restore some of his appearance and dignity.

"Fine, I guess I'll troll you up later then. Or you can troll me up if you wwant." His earfin's flagged, as did his voice. "I don't know if this is a 'don't glub me, I'll glub you" type a deal."

----------

"This is a go the fuck home before Terezi arrests you for trespassing type of deal," Karkat returned, voice spiking. "/Home/, not somewhere to destroy."

----------

One of Eridan's earfins twitched, subconsciously throwing out his plan to wreak havoc on the human planets as he made his way to the nutrition block door.

"Fuckin arrestin-" He grumbled under his breath, rolling his eyes at the idea that a troll of his stature could be **arrested** at all. Still, he didn't want to risk Terezi troll-handling him again, so he threw Sollux and Karkat one last fleeting grimace and sashayed out into the hallway.

"Vvery wwell. Catch you later.. then." He called back, composed as though he hadn't been reduced to a sobbing mess not ten minutes ago.

----------

Terezi's head turned to follow Eridan as he left her hive. Her righteous anger was gone, but she still held her cane planted in front of her until he was no longer in sniffable distance. Then she turned towards Karkat, both eyebrows lifted in an expression of mild surprise although her pointy grin was emerging. "Well."

----------

Glancing from Terezi to Sollux and back again, Karkat finally let out a huge breath of air he'd apparently been holding the whole fucking time.  Everything snapped back into normalcy. For when normal meant living in a shitty video game full of aliens and psychotic highbloods, at least, and he took another breath, feeling lightheaded.  "Okay.  Right.  You two, too -- not that you're fighting each other, thank fuck, no altercation needs that many elbows -- but my point fucking stands!  Stands alone on a tall windswept cliff of what-the-fuck-just-happened overlooking the I-shouldn't-have-gotten-you-involved ocean as it churns and maliciously drowns everybody's hopes of having useful powers for once!  Jegus what the fuck am I talking about.  No more fucking - whatever, I guess.  Shit."

----------

"Yeah.  Shit.  Sorry.  Fuck, I'll just go."  Sollux absently brought his hand up to grope the stinging lump on the side of his head before absconding in the general direction of the door, shoes scuffling sideways as he avoided looking at either of his friends.  A pester to Eridan was probably in order, but for now the doorframe was looking too tempting to avoid.  "You two can get your heart on while I go home and worm around on my nutritionsack like the useless fuckup I am.  Sorry for being a raging shitpod, KK.  Bye."

----------

Terezi walked over and gripped Sollux's shoulder and turned him around, claws digging into his shoulder. She gave him a small smile and let go, letting him continue on his initial path towards the door. Then she walked back over to Karkat and let out her tension with a sigh, and grabbed his hand. She kept her teeth tight together, biting her tongue and staying silent as she wrinkled her nose at him.

----------

Karkat squeezed her hand back, scrubbing his other through his hair and looking up at the ceiling across the block.  This was so far past reasonable shit to expect of a matesprit, and he shot her a grimace.  "Sorry I dragged my shit all over your fucking hive like an inconsiderate, poop covered lusus out to make it into his nest."

Dropping his eyes back down, he leaned over and gave her a quick, firm kiss, looking almost mellow for a second before his mouth quirked down into its natural frown.  "You were really.  Something.  Something kind of terrifyingly competent, but something."

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Eridan Ampora

September 2014

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