Reunion Log

Jun. 9th, 2014 01:16 pm
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[personal profile] amporaeridan
It took Eridan upwards of a half an hour to prepare the customary apologetic stuffed troutbeast dinner-offering. He took Karkat’s distaste for fish into account, and slathered it with his favorite grubsauce, dressed it full of grublini filling, and topped it off by covering it with grubrito panko crispies. If there was such thing as a deliciously sacrilegious aroma, that’s how Eridan would have described the smell coming from the covered plate.

Balancing the dish with one hand, he rapped on Karkat’s hive door twice and waited there, meekly. There was a time where he could have barged in unannounced, but Eridan still wasn't sure how slow Karkat wanted to take this. He frowned at that, cursing at himself as he ran a nervous hand through his now loosely gelled curly hair.  
 
-
 
"About fucking time," Karkat muttered at the knock on the door, shoving himself back from his husktop. Taking a look around his block, he frowned. The last time they had been up here was like a heavy, suffocating weight, and the idea of climbing right hack up here and tempting another repeat made him want to gag. So with a quick grimace he capchalogged the pile and his husktop and current bag of snacks and spun on his heel to pound down the stairs and throw open the door. If he moved fast enough he couldn't overthink this shit.
 
"Hi," he started, suddenly awkward. Looking up at the seadweller's face was ridiculously difficult, for some reason, so he looked over at the tray instead.

-

The tension was so thick he could blast a hole through it, so Eridan sucked in a breath and also distracted himself with the present. “Hi Kar. This is for you. It’s a salt wwater trout – caught from Vvris’ planet. I knoww you don’t like fish, but I cooked it this time and slathered it in your favorite sauce. It’s also stuffed wwith shit you actually like. He cricked his neck and held out the plate, gesturing him to take it. “It’s kind of a thing seadwwellers do wwhen they fuck up. You givve an offerin and customize it to their tastes. Since its cooked, it’ll taste different. I thought maybe you’d givve it a try? 

-

Oh yeah the ancient and secretive seadweller rite of giving a gift, what a strange and unheard of tradition. What the fuck am I supposed to do to reciprocate here, I'm so out of my cultural depth it's like I'm a garbage-tangled wingbeast sinking to the bottom of the ocean, silently screaming." That probably wasn't an appropriate metaphor, considering the situation, and Karkat winced a little before deciding to just get through it on sheer determined bluster alone. "Okay, yeah, I missed earlymeal anyway. Turning back towards the nutritionblock, karkat started pulling out nutrition plateaus and utensils, which had the extra benefit of giving him something to do that wasn't stand around like a useless asshole and try not to fuck this up for a third time.
 
-
 
Hearing Karkat rant about something other than his list of problems was like whale screams to his earfinss, and Eridan cheered up significantly as he followed Karkat into the kitchen. “You’re not the one wwho really fucked up, so I don’t need nuffin.  The fact that you accepted it is more than I can ask for.”
 
Sitting down, Eridan breathed in the familiar, dingy scent of Karkat’s hive and exhaled with a sigh of contentment.  “There’s grublini stuffin inside, a grubrito panko crust, and I even garnished it wwith a bit a roe. I don’t know wwhat you’vve been eatin since, wwell, since I last saww you - but I figured you could use a proper meal.” 
 
-
 
"I've been eating just fucking fine, dumbass, since, you know, like most near-adult trolls I'm actually capable of taking care of myself.  What a fucking shocker, considering I've been doing it for eight sweeps, I mean, yeah, definitely questionable amounts of experience right there." Setting everything down on the food preparation surface, Karkat scowled.  "What the hell have *you* been stuffing in your maw in between busy bouts of being a retard??"
 
-
 
Eridan shrugged, “Wwhatevver I could find. I sampled the many different beasts this game has to offer, and I must say the consorts to Nep’s planet  havve been the most delectable. I should fetch us some in the future.”
 
He reminisced over his travels and retched when he recalled his time on Lobaf. “The brains on Sol’s planet taste like battery acid and paste. I wwouldn’t recommend them. That planet is a hot abyss, I don’t knoww howw he stands it. I’ll take thirty Lopahs ovver that shithole.” 
 
-
 
 
"Because he doesn't go outside, that's how."  Eyeing the fish with the serrated handheld cutter in one hand, Karkat decided to go at it directly, with as little fucking around as possible.  Hacking away at it determinedly, he scowled, sawing through small bones and guts indiscriminately.
 
"I'm not eating any fucking consorts, asshole.  Those are supposed to be for playing the game.  They give you clues.  How did you even finish your fucking quests, I swear to god, it's a damn miracle and fuck you forever for making me utter that word."
 
 
-
 
 
“Wwell wwhere else are wwe supposed to get fresh meat? I didn’t havve a bunch a tasty nativves that helped me anywway; I figured it out for myself through cunning and several greetins from my harpoon gun. Let alone my neww powers. I didn’t need no stinkin consorts.”  He boasted, a smile creeping across his face at the end of Kar’s tyrade.  He felt the urge to hold his hand or ruffle his hair, but Karkat had sat across the table from him and his hands were occupied, so Eridan settled on brushing his shin against Kar’s leg instead.
 
-
 
"Join Nepeta's fucking safari across Lopah hunting down hideously obnoxious earth beasts.  Apparently they taste good."  Sliding a plate with a rather mangled chunk of fish over to Eridan, Karkat set his scowl further and shoved a bite in his mouth, bracing for something cold and slimy.  When it wasn't -- it was sort of like imitation grubsteak, but flakier -- he blinked in surprise and knocked his ankle against Eridan's leg.  "This isn't terrible.  Why in all fuckhells would you not cook this shit all the time, this is so far superior to raw it's actually embarrassing, congratulations on having shit taste, except we already knew that."
 
Shoveling in another bite, he crunched through some of the delicate bones and just shot the seadweller a middle finger.
 
-
 
Eridan’s earfins puffed and billowed out in delight, gladly taking the plate as his smile widened to an even happier grin. “If you're glubbin about my- oh wwhat did Sol call it, 'mutant fetish', then I guess you're right. As far as the meal goes, howwevver, most a the shit that’s good for you disappears wwhen you cook it, but it’s still better than that nuked carp. I guess I’ll try a couple more baked recipes and see if you like em.”
 
Digging in, he continued their little game of footsie as he rambled on, “Speakin a Nep, I think I need to go pay Eq a vvvisit sometime soon and I wwas wwonderin howw you think I should go about that.” 
 
-
 
 
"For what?  Whatever it is you need to apologize first.  And maybe check with Nepeta anyway, just in case he decides another totally meaningless and stupid culling is in order as fair reparations for bullshit."  Karkat shook his head and kicked back a little harder than was strictly necessary.  "Don't call it a fetish, holy fuck, that is possibly the worst description of a situation ever uttered by troll or living creature."
 
-
 
“Oww!” Eridan yelped, his earfins flagging back down as he withdrew his leg. “Sol’s wwords, not mine! Go take it up wwith him and his self-depricatin ass.”
 
He lowered his gaze, bashfully, and took a stab at a large chunk of crispy fish skin. “An apology is part of it, I guess, but I also need his assistance in a project Sol and I are wworkin on. Eq's the only one wwho can do it, so I don’t havve a choice. I’d actually love Nep’s opinion too, havvin her there wwouldnt be bad either. Or you for that matter.” 
 
-
"Yeah, because no matter how pissed he is at you it will be consumed by his sudden and intense need to despise me even more like dry kindling consumed by a raging fire. Maybe I can wear his ass out playing hide-and-cull for a while and and when you ask he'll be nice and tired and agreeable."
 
 
-
 
“That wwasn’t quite the plan, but any bit kelps.” Eridan snickered, taking a couple more bites of his dinner. Yet something Kar said disturbed him, something about Eq becoming consumed with the need to despise him. Suddenly recalling his conversation with Sol the day before, he peered across the table with his jaw slightly agape and his eyes wide with concern.
 
“Kar?” He called out, placing his fork back on the table and moving his hand towards his moirail’s face. “Could, could you look at me for a moment?” 
 
-
 
Karkat stopped, mid-bite, before letting out a silent breath.  It'd been going pretty fucking well, too, or at least better than could have been expected.  That'd show him.  Tilting his head to meet Eridan's eyes head on, he slowly lifted an eyebrow.  "What."
 
-
 
Eridan flinched when Kar’s speckled red eyes met his again, noticing that there were more spots than before. His hand didn't waver, however, and with a determined gulp he extended his arm all the way and cupped the side of the other troll’s face.  The acute warmness to his flesh suddenly made sense then, and with an endearing sort of curiosity he held his gaze. “They really are comin in, aren’t they? You’re growin up so fast. Wwe’re goin to havve to size up your sickles so wwhen Eq starts up you can reel his ass in easier.” 
 
-
 
"It's just my eyes, I'm not fucking *molting,* so kindly shove the condenscention right back up your chute where it shamefully leaked from.  My sickles are fantastic as is, and outrank any shitty pseudoweapons you assholes have been waving around," Karkat snapped back defensively.  Despite it, though, he lifted his own hand to put over Eridan's, pressing it further against his face and rubbing his thumb across the back. 
 
"Shit," he said, suddenly, voice catching in his throat.
 
-
 
“Shhhh, Kar.” Eridan shushed eagerly, his own voice cracking as he attempted to tuck a lock of hair behind Kar’s ear only for it to fall back into place.  He wanted to immerse him in with paps and kisses, yet the table provided a burdensome but chaste barrier for what felt like a first date of sorts. “Oh cod, It’s gonna be okay. I’m here noww, and to be honest those eyes a yours are a sight for sore – eyes. ” 
 
-
 
"Shit," Karkat repeated, swallowing hard.  God, when the fuck had he turned into such a complete, bawling wiggler?  Even he was tired of his own shit at this point, wow.  This wasn't going to end up in another hideously overemotional fit, or he'd launch himself into the nearest red ocean.  Taking a single, bracing intake of air, he turned until he could press his closed mouth against the cool surface of his moirail's palm.  "Eyes.  Astoundingly smooth, dipshit, watch me swoon."
 
-
 
Eridan fought to stay seated, but once Kar's lips brushed against his hand he couldn't hold it in any longer. Pushing his plate away, he leaned across the table and planted his own kiss to Kar's head. His free hand found it's way to a horn, and for the first time in weeks he felt whole again. "Wwhere wwould you be wwithout my classic charm and fruitless efforts to not make fool of myself? I struggle to to say better off, but here you are." 
 
He glanced downwards, nudging foreheads as some of his loose curls brushed against Kar's cheek. "Sometimes I wwonder wwhat I must a done in a past life or cod knowws what to deservve your patience and understandin." 
 
-
 
"Understanding my ass; it's resignation.  And get off the fucking mealslab before you knock the fucking food on the floor and waste it like a spoiled highblood pupa in a tantrum."   Peeling the hand off his face with a minimum of hesitation, Karkat shoved himself up from the table before somebody ended up leaning into a pile of grubsauce. He glowered for a second, wrapping his arms around himself. "I'm still annoyed to all possible fucks about the shit you did, and don't fucking think if we hold hands it's all going away, you hear me?"
 
Looking Eridan up and down, the hard lines between Karkat's eyebrows smoothed a little. "But His Honorably Tyranny's massive pukebladder, I fucking missed you. A lot."
 
-
 
With his hand slowly falling back to his side, Eridan maintained eye contact with his moirail and nodded through teary eyes. "Same, Kar. Same. I couldn't sleep even on the best a days. I knoww I basically put myself there, but still..."
 
He sniffed, sitting back down and minding himself by picking at the rest of his meal. "The only thing that brought me any comfort wwas rememberin you in my arms - cuddlin, dancin, laughin, pappin, all of it. But then I'd be jolted awwake thinkin that it wwas all goin to be ovver unless-"
 
The seadweller paused, his eyes shaking again as he dropped his silverware and leaned into the table, hands running through his hair with violet tears dripping down onto his food."Cod I dont evven knoww. It wwas a mistake, all of it. I can't believve wwhat I did to you upstairs. I'm sorry, Kar. I'm so fuckin sorry." 
 
-
 
"I thought--" It would have been easy, really, stupidly fucking easy, to take the last two steps and drape himself over Eridan's hunched shoulders, and shoosh everything away until it wasn't important anymore.  But it fucking *was*, and it had fucking *hurt*, and if they didn't troll the fuck up and deal with it all now it was going to ruin this entire fucking second chance.  Karkat hugged his arms closer, claws digging into his shirt, and found a very interesting hole in his sock to examine.  "-- you wanted to blame it on the game and fucking fix it through bullshit fairy magic so you could pretend I wasn't actually a mutant -- like we were pale and perfect and puke inducing except one stupid fucking thing that would make you stop pitying me, so time to hope a bunch of fakey imagination wiggler games into reality and make me worth something, which, god, fuck that --"
 
-
 
"That's probably howw I came off, and that's terrible. I may have broke sevveral promises during this shitfest, but I meant it wwhen I said there's nothin in any univverse that wwould make me stop pitying you. You're wworth evveryfin to me." Eridan cried, elbows resting on the table and his head in his hands. "I honestly... just couldn't believve it. Thinkin the game had somefin to do wwith it wwas easier at the time. And I  thought you didn't wwant to be a mutant - since you wwere hidin it for so long, and I wwas tryin to see if there wwas a wway to..."
 
He was going to say "fix it", but immediately stopped himself. Straightening up in his chair, he shot Karkat a sad smile as tears continued to run down his face. "See, it wwas ridiculous." 
 
-
 
"NOBODY wants to be a fucking mutant, are you pandamaged?!  I don't give a singly flying fuck how much they get shit on, I'd sign up to be a rustblood in a flat fucking second.  But here's some basic biological schoolfeeding: even if I'd stick a pike right up the nook of the Empress herself to change it, it's not fucking *fixable*. And that's not why I fucking hid it, either, I know you're not that fucking stupid, you knew what the law was for harboring a fugitive was pretty fucking easily.  Just.  So dumb, it's unbelievable.  I'm going to become a clown cultist, I've witnessed a true miracle of stupid here."  Running both hands up through his hair, Karkat blinked up at the ceiling and took a long, unsteady breath, trying to pull himself back together before both of them became total embarrassments.
 
-
 
Eridan didn't want to admit it, but he did actually feel quite stupid. He actually took a moment to collect his thoughts and turned his chair seat around to face Karkat. "I knoww wwhat the sentence wwould a been, and I knoww wwhy you hid it. But, I don't knoww the extent a wwhat you wwent through. I don't knoww wwhat it wwas like livin back home in your position, but I imagine it wwas beyond any sort a terrifyin I could evver grasp. Evven more terrifyin than the thought a losin you, wwhich is up there - if not the top. So hearin me say all that shit knowwin absolutely nothin about wwhat your life wwas - /is/ - like must a been, infuriatin. And here I am supposed to support you..." 
 
-
 
Actual, sincere sympathy hit harder that it had any fucking right to, worming right past 'fuck you's and 'who gives a shit's straight under his pusher and squeezing.  Karkat dropped his hands, shoulders falling into a slouch as he shot Eridan a blank, unhappy look, not even sure where to start.  "It... sucked.  It sucked more bulges than existed in the empire the day before we started the game, and then some.  But it's-- most of it's, there's no drones anymore, so--"
 
Pausing, he tried again to not sound like a complete moron, to put some kind of cohesive sentence together that would even attempt to come close to explaining.  It didn't work, and instead he took a sideways step towards Eridan, hands jerking outward from his waist.  "Fuck it.  It doesn't matter.  I was going to die and now I'm not and hey, wow, thanks, universe, finally I look upon the beautiful visage of fortune without getting spat at right into my eye!"
 
-
 
Kar's sad little shoulder slouch crushed Eridan's already bleeding seadweller heart. He had been told to take this one step at a time, but the next step seemed plain as starlight despite his previous reservations. That face, that voice, and that look signaled that the little troll before him was aching for some pale attention. Ready to oblige, Eridan rushed out of the chair and stood in front of his moirail, holding for a beat, before extending his arms and gathering him up against his soft, East-Alternian cotton sweater. 
 
-
 
Karkat's arms shot out around the other troll before he could stop to think about it, holding tight as he took a few more hard, forcibly even breaths, eyes closed and face pressed against fabric. Fuck.  So much for holding it the fuck together, having a rational god damn conversation, and acting like a mature adult.  Turning until his head was up under Eridan's jaw, he snorted.  "Okay, this is enough of a fucking mess, we're tabling 'stupid shit Karkat did on Alternia' until the day it's appropriate, which is the second week of fucking never in the third dim hell to the no.  You're dumb, I'm dumb, it's a beautiful tragic circle of gross failure."
 
-
 
"Shhh, it's alright. Shore wwe're dumb, but wwe're dumb and safe. I ain't goin to be culled for harborin a fugitivve and you're not gettin culled because a some ass backwwards policy." Eridan murmured against Karkat's head, praising all that was good and holy that this wasn't just one of his memories. The warmth was real, as were the touches, and he subconsciously started swaying him in his hold before running a hand through his hair, "I just wwant you to knoww, I'm wwillin to listen to anyfin you wwant to talk about wwhen it comes to that shit. I'd lovve to knoww, honestly, since I wwant to be able to understand - evven a little. But in the same vvein, if you dont wwant to talk about it that's fine too. Wwe havve an eternity, right?"
 
-
"Nobody was going to get culled on my behalf, fuckstick, I may be a fuckup of laughably bloated proportions but I wasn't going to let that little nugget of extra hoofbeastshit hit the ground with a wet splatter. Everybody was fucking fine, none of you knew or was going to know. They can't cull you for not knowing, not if you're high enough up." He was rambling like a dumbass, but it was like a high pressure bleed and he was a stranded planetside agent with no dermal tape. Setting his teeth into his lower lip and frowning, Karkat pulled away for a moment before jerking a hand up into his sylladex, until with a slight /whumph/ the whole of the pile he'd captcha'd fell on the leisureblock floor.
 
-
 
The absent feeling once Karkat departed from his arms knocked Eridan down a couple notches, but his spirits immediately soared once the familiar pile ‘whumphed’ onto the floor.  His earfins fluttered and his violet eyes brightened at the sight. He felt like one of the pupas in his favorite story “How the Mutant stole 12th Peregrees Eve” after the Behemoth Leaving was returned and the mutant was –
 
Well, it was a good story back then at least. He made a mental note to edit the story for prosperity and change the “M” word to alien or human or something.
 
Turning to Karkat, he carefully took one of his hands into his own and asked in a delicate voice, “Really? You mean it? Right now?”
 
-
"I'm not going to have a feelings jam standing around like an asshole next to the mealslab," Karkat snapped, glaring and straightening his shoulders. "It's that or the multiseater."
 
-
 
“The pile then, the pile.” Eridan chittered and tugged Karkat over to the leisureblock.  Once facing their favorite pile, however, he settled down some and took both of Karkat’s hands into his own, grazing a thumb over his stubby fingernails. “If this wwasn’t somefin you wwere plannin to do today, though… wwe could alwways do somefin else.”
 
His cheeks tinged violet, turning away so Karkat couldn’t see just how anxious he was growing. “Though I do have a couple things wwe could glub about… I guess…”
 
-
"I wouldn't have fucking brought it up if I wasn't comfortable! If you want to glub about something besides our awful and terrible problems it'd be a fucking relief, I swear to shit, it's that or go back to eating and crying about the massive, endless mistake that comprises the last few weeks and I'm about tapped out on that particular wriggling day celebration. Get in the fucking pile or I'm going to go watch a movie." Not even waiting for an answer, Karkat dropped to sit, pointedly and straight backed, on the edge of a few crushed book spines.
 
-
 
"Fine fine, cull me for tryin to be senstivve." Eridan whined, eying the pile as though it was his first time. Taking a steadying breath, he flipped his cape out of the way and joined Karkat's side, their shoulders touching as he folded his knees against his chest.
 
“Change a scenery is nice.” he started, inching his hand over to link fingers with one of Kar’s smaller hands.
 
-
 
"Yeah, well."  Frowning, Karkat squeezed at the fingers laced between his before tilting his head, leaning on Eridan's shoulder and rolling it just enough he could sort of eye the seadweller from the corner of his vision.  "After the last one doing something different seemed like the logical fucking thing to do.  And now we can watch movies if we want, I guess, so extra brilliance points to me for that stroke of pure fuschia grade genius."
 
Sighing, he twisted his head again, until the better part of his face was pressed against cotton.  "So what's the matter besides the miles long list of obvious shit?"
 
-
 
Eridan slide back against the pile and held Karkat against his chest, afraid to let go now that he finally had him in his hold again. “Wwell, aside from evveryone hatin me wworse than they did before – wwhich wwe can glub about later…”
 
Several scenes from the fight he had with the humans flashed behind his eyes, and he closed them to focus on what was bothering him the worst. “That fight wwith Stan wwas really wweird. I wwon and all, but somefin happened wwith Kyle wwhere my powwers didn’t wwork and I can’t figure out wwhat happened.”
 
He gulped, hiding his neck even further behind his new scarf. “Not to mention wwhat that sadistic bastard did to my gills.” 
 
-
 
"What happened with your powers?"  Squirming around until he could prop himself up on one arm, Karkat frowned, eyes narrowing.  "What the fuck does that mean, didn't work?  They bounced off him or you couldn't do anything with them or what.  And why the fuck was Kyle jumping into your strife?"
 
Frown deepening and eyebrows knitting together in the center, he tugged once on the corner of the scarf.  "They're fucking fine now, though, right?  Since you regenerated.  You had better be fucking fine, or I'll shit in the mouth of every copied decapitated head we're sending him."
 
-
 
Reflexively snapping a hand up to cover his neck again, Eridan shivered and shimmied himself deeper into the pile. “He intervened after I blasted his moirail. I fired a lesser attack for him to back off since I wwasn’t out to get him, but it just seemed to glide off a him – like I wwas blastin smoke. I’m figurin it has to do wwith his rage powwers, since I havvent seen Gam use them before and I can’t think a anyfin else.”
 
He gulped, hunching his shoulders up and clamping his eyes shut. “But anyfin you do to Stan in retaliation is game in my book. I regenerated, shore, but it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten the, you know – /feelin/.” 
 
-
 
Ignoring the part about powers -- fucking great, what a extra special little bonus mode that was going to be if aspects just winked each other out of existence -- Karkat set his mouth into a thin downturned line and put a hand over Eridan's over his neck, rubbing a little.  "Yeah well, Stan's a fuckstick beyond all previous imagining.  You're fine, though."
 
-
 
Eridan sucked in a panicked breath and gripped onto the hand on his neck. "Kar, I don't think you understand. He wwent through tissue, filter, I mean I could /feel/ his dry alien fingers in my fuckin /throat/." He emphasized with a raspy whisper. "That's the kind a shit that happens to you wwhen you're exiled. Gill torture is-"
 
He shuddered again. The schoolfeeding lesson on mutiny and high treason was a hard lesson for all young seadwellers to sit through. Nothing worked as a more powerful deterrent to malfeasance than a three hour video depicting the "decommissioning" of a high ranking general. Shaking his head, he looked past Karkat with a 100 yard stare and clung onto the hand as though he were about to sink down into the murky depths of deep-sea.  "I've had dream terrors about that kind a shit, and it wwas evven wworse than I could a imagined."
 
-
 
"Shhhhhhhsshhhh.  I understand fucking fine, I'm just letting you know that, you know, you're okay, I've got you."  Finding his hand trapped, Karkat leaned back down to rest his head against Eridan's other shoulder, free hand reaching up to smooth at the soft spot where fin met cheek.  "It's not fucking happening again, so relax."
 
-
 
Pressing against the hand, Eridan felt his eyes start to prickle again as more memories of the fight resurfaced. "I kept fightin though and I kicked their asses. I didn't evven havve time to register wwhat had happened - I wwent straight to LOTAF to find you. I alchemized myself a thicker scarf and noww I can't evven bear to think about somefin touchin them." 
 
He made a sad sort a seadweller noise, burying his face in Karkat's hair to hide just how much it affected him, "It's ruined."
 
-
 
"Shoosh."  Frowning and thinking it over, he kept both hands where they were, but didn't try and push any further, fingers still for moment.  After a second, something occurred to him, and Karkat twisted his head a little, trying to find a decent line of sight and not able to with full whiny seadweller pressed into the top of his head.  "You kicked *both* their asses?  Even with the powers shit?"
 
-
 
Eridan sniffed, his shame momentarily waning as a proud little smile found its way to his lips. "Yeah. Evven Sol thought that wwas hot - you knoww, beatin another cod tier and all. Kyle wwasn't that hard once I focused a little - but I didn't initially wwant to kill him. I gavve him an out and he still didn't take it." 
 
Allowing Karkat a little more wiggle room, he released his grip to run a suave hand through his loose hair. "I guess I am the most powwerful player in the game, aren't I?" 
 
-
 
Karkat shoved himself up on both arms, scowling in surprise.  "Wait, you fucking killed Kyle?!  What the *fuck*!?!"
 
-
 
"Shhh, Kar. He ain't dead for real, he came back. Sol checked." Eridan explained, reaching upwards to rub Kar's shoulder. "They're pissed, but I mean Stan started it. I told Kyle my fight wwasn't wwith him, but he wwouldn't listen."
 
Biting his lip, he slowly made his way to Karkat's face and nervously laid a hand on his cheek. "No ones dead permanently, it's alright. I'm sorry -again." 
 
-
 
"Oh."  Karkat paused, face settling back into a normal frown, and then pressed into the hand a little.  "Okay, that's completely fucking different.  As long as he's not culled permanently who gives a fuck; especially after I warned him specifically they shouldn't be coming over here and fucking around in our session like a fun wiggler picnic on the beach, right before they all get eaten by somebody's aquatic lusus.  It's not like Stan was even in any real danger, since a dumbass bulgewaving contest of a strife is pretty much the opposite of either heroic or justified."
 
-
 
"I wwanted them off your planet and awway from you. Moreover Stan, you should a seen the look on his face after I gored him. You wwoulda loved it." 
 
Eridan felt the added pressure on his hand, and he suddenly felt like Karkat wasn't close enough. They had weeks to make up for, and this hovering bullshit wasn't going to cut it. He moved his legs to the side, giving more room for Kar to come back down as he lowered his eyelids and delivered a real, honest-to-god pap to his face. "He's shit, you certainly came up on top a this one."
 
-
 
Letting out a startled half-chirp, Karkat froze for a second -- yeah, they were in a pile, but he was still vaguely annoyed, still not entirely sure if Eridan was *actually* going to change his shit this time, but he'd apologized and been making an effort, and it'd be a really long fucking time -- before sliding down into the pap, brows still knitted anyway.  He grabbed for the seadweller's other hand, sliding their fingers together, and sighed.  "He's such a fuckwit, I'm actually past any kind of ability to describe it.  I'm speechless with stale, spoiled, old rage that's gone rock hard and stinking in the sun of his ceaseless and bottomless rays of stupid bullshit.  Humans are the fucking worst, it's the greatest tragedy of the Empire we never got to them."
 
--
 
Eridan crooned, turning the pap into jaw stroke then finished with a nice temple rub. "Wwell think of it this wway - noww that the empires gone, they're all yours to destroy noww. They'll be left at your mercy - wwhich you'll havve none. You'll be able to use your elite threshecutioner manuevers to reign them in and turn them into the neww lowwer caste." 
 
-
 
"Oh, wow, yeah!  What a fantastic glubbing idea, shitstain, let's take the stupid aliens *with bright red blood* and make that the worst caste!  That would never come right back around to screw me over, no way.  In fact I'll just get right on that like a lusus on a carrion corpse."  
 
-
 
Reeling his hand away, Eridan cursed at himself and smoothed Kar's bangs away from his angry face. "Fuck, I forgot. No castes then. You can do wwhat you wwant wwith them. They owwe you their livves anywway, wwith this frog nonsense and your patience."
 
Still frowning, Eridan added another small pap for good measure and tacked on, "As do I..."
 
-
 
"Don't be an overdramatic dumbfuck.  You don't owe me your life, jegus."  Rolling his eyes and finally reaching up to run this thumbs along the seadweller's cheekbones, Karkat snorted dismissively.  "And I don't give a fuck what happens to the humans, either, as long as they stop fucking everything up and Stan learns how to shut his intolerable wordflap before I thrust a gnarled fist down it and choke him from the inside.  They can fuck off and waste away in their shitty session, as far as I'm concerned."
 
-
 
A pleased hum escaped Eridan's mouth as a chunk of the tension that had solidified inside himself immediately dissolved. Try as he might these past few weeks, nothing could replicate the warm feeling of Kar's practiced hands soothing his rage away. It was all he could dream of to be back here in his moirail's care - and suddenly nothing else mattered.
 
Eridan's eyes closed, taking in the sensation for all it was worth and reached up to hook a hand around Kar's horn, bringing his head down to murmur against his lips, "I don't givve a fuck about wwhat happens to anyone or anyfin as long as you're mine forever." 
 
-
 
"Oh my fuck, shut up before we both promptly expire from critical shame poisoning." Growling half-heartedly, Karkat pulled away before retaliating with both hands, smoothing his fingers along the tines of his earfins.  Shifting sideways and settling deeper into the pile, he continued a half-assed glare.  "I was going to wait to god tier until I had more of this Blood hoofbeastshit mastered -- or at least vaguely understood -- but fuck that, now, if it's all going to be as fucking stupid as it's been so far.  Might as well just fucking do it now and embrace the Knight of Fuckall Uselessness shit."
 
-
 
Eridan nuzzled against the hands working his fluttering ears, jutting forward to rub foreheads with Kar once more. "You mean, go cod tier? Or kick the humans asses?
 
He snickered as a pap-happy giddiness started to settle in, kissing Kar's horn before massaging the base. "Or both." 
 
-
 
"Both. Definitely fucking both."  Sighing hugely, Karkat closed his eyes, hands on autopilot as he finally really let himself stop second guessing or hesitating.  The pressure from his hornbed radiated downward pleasantly and he kicked up a rusty, quiet purr as his fingers trailed lower, on habit.
 
-
 
The second Karkat's fingers brushed across the edges of his gills, the sensation triggered a terrified response from deep within Eridan's psyche and he sucked in a harried breath through his clenched fangs. His hands never left his moirail's horns, but his whole body froze in place as to not prompt any sudden movements.
 
"Kar," He hissed, eyes wide and fearful. "not the gills. not yet, /please/." 
 
-
 
"Shit--" Sputtering out as he jerked backwards, Karkat curled his fingers into his palms, frown plastered right over his face and eyebrows drawn down together in concern.  "Sorry, shit, I forgot."
 
-
"Shhh, no it's my bad. I just... have to get ovver it that's all." Eridan fussed, earfins down and bothered. He needed a quick way to forget his trauma at Stan's hands. Gazing down at his dear moirail's concerned eyes, the first thing he could think to do was slide his hands to the back of his neck and pull him into a mindnumbingly pale kiss.
 
-
 
Karkat returned the kiss before tugging away, nosing against Eridan's jaw and making a soft shooshing noise.  Fucking humans -- if Stan ever complained, ever, about getting kneed in the bulge again, Karkat would find himself spontaneously puking a volume of bile and organs never previously seen by living creatures.  If the universe didn't implode immediately from the sheer amount of hypocrisy.  "Do you want to watch a movie or something else equally stupid before the patron spirit of fuckuppery decides to just make this its permanent hive?"
 
-
 
"Wwhat are you glubbin about, I'm enjoyin myself noww." Eridan whined, lining Karkat's jaw with kisses now as his hands scritched the back of his neck. "This pile just aint about me you knoww, wwhat did you do wwhile I wwas runnin around like a snoutbeast wwith a hernia." 
 
-
 
"Punched myself in the face repeatedly.  Continued to try and direct a bunch of assholes who don't like to listen, except this time they were also bitching about their poor fucking planets getting wrecked.  Making decisions I'm hopefully going to live to regret and sending Vriska on sensitive missions; and before you even fucking start I'm already going to hear it from Terezi and Sollux so consider that lecture already fucking reserved.  Besides, she found the extra bodies just fucking fine and managed not to kill any of them, *somehow*-- oh, fun fucking fact!" Pulling away so he could rant properly and papping a hand right over Eridan's face before he could stop him, Karkat scowled deeply and continued. "We have extra fucking dream bodies!  Just, you know, don't expect to fucking wake up in them, apparently!  Even though that would be really fucking useful, and even if we should have fucking guessed from the number of towers, but nope, it took Vriska Serket: Mystery Solving Pirate Bitch to find that little nugget of vital information.  *After* Stan found out and stole the fucking frog that'd sneaked in there and *oh right* continued the stupid game of bulgeface. And-- oh, shit-"
 
Suddenly reminded of his last conversation with the obnoxious alien, Karkat turned to glare down at his moirail, "You weren't pretending to be me on Trollian for some completely pandamaged reason, were you??"
 
-
 
Had it not been for the pap, Eridan's mind would have been an even larger mess of confusion from the sheer amount of mind-blowing information that had just been delivered in the last 30 seconds. Instead, he stared ahead at Karkat and blinked, "No? Howw could I evven pretend to be you in the first place? Hit caps lock? I don't havve the lowwblood vocabulary to evven be convincin."
 
Shaking his head, he began processing the other information before shooting him a skeptical look, "And... unusable copies of ourselvves?" He scoffed, scratching the back of Karkat's neck before giving him a pat to the shoulder. "I think Vvris is pullin your prawn. Wwhy are you trustin her anywway?"
 
-
 
He hadn't thought the seadweller would be that stupid, or selfish, not *really*, but Stan's insistence that somebody was going around pretending to be him pretending to be some other troll didn't have any other explanation that wasn't a good cause to flip the fuck out and panic.  Karkat frowned again, mouth twisting downward at the corner as he pressed his teeth into a lip.
 
"Some utter shitstain of an idiot with nothing better to do than shove one hand up their chute and pound furiously at a keyboard with the other is fucking around and trolling the humans with red text."
 
-
 
Eridan's earfins fanned open in alarm, and then immediately pinned back in anger. Holding Karkat's face again, he attempted to will some of the other troll's anxiety away by running his thumbs from his cheeks to his temples in soothing circular motions. "Wwhat? Wwho in their right mind wwould do such an insensitivve thing? Aren't Ter, Sol, and I the only ones that knoww? Wwhen I glubbed to the one human I didn't tell him the /color/." 
 
-
 
"You, Terezi, Sollux, and--"
 
Snapping his mouth shut hard enough to make his teeth click, Karkat blinked for a second as the most obvious, stupid, clear to everyone except retarded wigglers with their heads stuck in their nooks explanation clarified.  Stan was the only other person who knew; Stan was the one saying somebody was spreading mutant red text everywhere with his picture; Stan liked to fuck with him like a pandamaged grub with no boundaries.
 
"Oh my fuck, he was making it up.  He invented a whole pile of fiction and hoofbeastshit to make me flip out even *worse* than I already was over everything else, like the feculent failure personified he is! Oh my fuck.  I'll cull him, I swear to shit; it will be the most productive thing I've done all goddamn perigee!"
 
He leaned to press his forehead against the edge of Eridan's collar, sucking in air through clenched teeth and growling.  "Piece of shit.  Piece of shit fucking aliens, you were right, who gives a flying fuck about frogs anymore, should have just dealt with all of it ages ago."
 
-
 
Holding him closer, Eridan started stroking Kar's hair and pondered over the fastest way to remedy this situation. Now that Karkat didn't care about the humans, there was nothing stopping their immediate annihilation. Or at least Stan's. Resting his chin on Kar's horn, he abruptly recalled a bit of information that he learned at the boss fight and papped Kar's face to get him to look up at him
 
"Not too late, you knoww-" He lowered his head and whispered into his moirail's ear, long nails scatching the back of his neck. "You knoww, Cod Tiers can't regenerate if they die a heroic death. That's what my Denizen told me. If wwe find a wway for him to die Heroically wwe'll nevver havve to deal wwith him again." 
 
-
"Fuck that, to die heroically requires a momentary flash of not being a selfish, self-obsessed, bulge gazing asshole of the highest fucking degree, all hail His Imperial Dickbaggery and long may it all make us want to shit ourselves in sheer befuddled disgust that someone that worthless can exist. I'm going to punch him in his soft human organs until he pukes blood and for one glorious second,never before thought to be possible by troll or dark tentaclegod alike, the sight of that much red will be beautiful to all who behold it." Despite the comforting touches on his hair and neck, Karkat found himself growling deeper, the noise dropping down into his throat and making his voice echo a little. "I was trying to be fucking mature, to not throw back a bunch of pseudo-pitch platonic non-hate, but fuck it. Fuck it, I officially don't give a shit, the shit shortage is not only critical but sadly permanent and I can't *believe* anyone would actually try and pull something like that. I thought somebody else had fucking found out. God."
 
-
 
The low rumbles from Kar's voice set Eridan back, and he wasn't sure if he should encourage his rage or try to get it manageable. So he settled on both. Like fuck he was going to cut Stan any slack. 
 
"I think you havve all the reason to launch another counter attack - a wwhole list evven." Eridan started, bringing out the big guns by slipping his hands under Kar's shirt to stroke his back and grubscars. Shushing him would be counter productive, but he still pressed a kiss to the spot just above Kar's ear and hummed into it as a calming gesture. "Say, givve him the old fashion Alternian Wwelcome the next time you see his ugly face? Or wwe can do betta, and rob him a the thing he really wwants."
 
-
"The ability to look into the mirror without regretting every twist of time and fate that led to his genetic predecessor having filled a bucket?!"
 
 
-
 
Eridan chuckled rather ominously against Kar's ear, and delivered a pap worthy of the weeks of pent up pale-need he had been saving up. It started soft, full-palmed, up from Kar's jawline, but then gradually became firm as he added a thumb graze across his eyebrow, finally cupping his cheek when he was through. 
 
"Wwe can amp up our performance and get to the battlefield before any a them do, /beat/ this fuckin game, and then rob them a any hope a gettin their wworld back." 
 
-
 
Karkat's growling cut out like a scuttlebuggy that'd had it's head sliced clean off, dropping to the ground in a hard, startled stop as he blinked several times.  The anger was still fucking there, of course, built up and more than justified by continuous idiocy and awfulness, but the building raw edge to it abruptly dissolved, and he could feel some of the ever present knots of tension in his head and stomach loosen, just a little bit.  Getting a good suggestion on top of it, something that didn't inspire completely irrational guilt over something that shouldn't even be a big deal, was the grubsauce on the meatslab, and Karkat let out a long sigh and slumped bonelessly against Eridan.
 
"Okay.  Sounds good.  That's the plan."
 
-
 
Eridan continued his papping, feeling intensely satisfied with himself once Karkat crashed back into him. He had a feeling it wouldn't take much for them to fall back into place - which was customary for star-crossed pale lovers such as they. The affirmation sent a pleasant chill through his veins, and for the first time in weeks, a steady stream of purrs began thrumming up from his throat. "Good, and howw nice wwill you feel wwhen you get to be the one to snatch it from that chum-brained, floppyjunk'd numbskull? You, Karkat Vvantas, leader a the Adorabloodthirsties and supreme Knight a Blood?" 
 
-
 
"Where the fuck did that even come from, Adorabloodthirsties is the worst fucking name ever imagined by the gibbering shithives remainders of failed and exiled journnhilators everywhere.  Did Terezi give you shits that one??  That was a private god damn conversation, the fuck is wrong with her and her horrible shrieking gorgeous mouth.  Awful.  The humans should be ashamed beyond all rational comprehension to get beaten by a bunch of assholes with the team name 'Adorabloodthirsties,' so we're keeping it."  Rambling, eyes closed, Karkat continued to use his moirail as an impressively comfortable piece of furniture, one hand patting around for a bit before landing over where his rib gills sat under his shirt and pausing.  "These are okay, right?"
 
-
 
 
"Hrk-" Eridan blurted, bristling for a moment before settling back into place. "Yes, they're fine. I could use a good gill rub anywway. Maybe it'll help me get ovver my neck ones..." 
 
He took a deep breath and buried his face back into Kar's hair, suddenly eyeing some build-up around the bases of his stubby horns. Reaching up, he began chipping away at some of it before calling up his sylladex to pull out a small little horn grooming kit. "Speakin a Ter, did you twwo do anythin wworth wwhile durin your extended stay at her hivve?" 
 
-
 
Nodding once, Karkat just kept his hand resting over the spot, brushing along the edge with a thumb as he could feel claws picking away at his horns, which admittedly probably looked like shit with flakey dead chitin.  Pressing his face further into Eridan's shirt, he snorted once and gave half a shrug.  "I embarassed myself by taking a massive verbal shit of feelings and tears all over her floor, does that count?  I wasn't on a  fabulous fucking planetleave, asshole, I was in mourning.  And playing smash hatchmates."
 
-
 
The smile that had worked its way to his face immediately vanished when Karkat mentioned that he had been in mourning on LOTAF. Fingering a piece of dead chitin between his claws, he lowered his head and combed more of Kar's hair out of the way - making a mental note that it had grown way too long and needed trimming. "Wwell, smash hatchmates sounds fun at least."
 
After chipping another piece away, Eridan paused in thought and moved to hug Kar again, earfin fluttering against the other's cheek as he muttered, "Kar - I'm, really glad that you forgavve me. Thank you for bearin wwith me through that. You certainly didn't havve to, but you did - and it means a lot to me. I'm... beyond ecstatic to be back here."
 
-
"Yeah, well," Karkat started, a little wiggle of guilt sprouting up in the back of his head. Maybe he shouldn't have, not so fast - maybe Eridan wasn't going to learn anything from it now, or maybe his anger and grief at being left when he was panicked and scared wasn't real enough, or maybe a bunch of other bullshit that was never a fucking problem before his worthless body decided to betray him and fill in his irises. "It... took a while for Terezi to deal, too, I had to give you the same break, even if she didn't act like a complete shithives loonyfuck. And I missed this. The extent to which I missed this is actually stupid, I am the new Lord of Idiottown for how much I wanted to talk to my moirail about what a fucking asshole you were."
 
-
 
Eridan smiled again, picking up the tool to resume work on Kar's horns - but not after pecking him once on the cheek. "Wwell, wwe could alwways start. I hear that basshole tried to find a wway through the space crack to go rummagin around the human planets for a so called "cure" - wwhat an idiot, right?"
 
-
 
"No, you know what the dumbest shit is?  Fucking up a perfectly good apology corpse by trying to beat a dead hoofbeast of shit that's already been debunked into paste and bonemeal.  It's actually painful how close it was before the entire thing went to utter shit, like watching the characters of a cullhorror think they're safe as they fly away before it turns out the horrible mutated killer followed them into the ship."  Leaning his head a little to provide a better angle at his headgear, Karkat glared at the opposite wall in an offended way.  "Those movies are all fucking stupid.  The AI would catch an extra body."
 
-
 
Caught in between feeling horrified at his own actions and amused by Karkat's statement, Eridan simply nodded and took in a deep breath. "That's wwhy I gavve up on cullhorror films past a certain date. I end up focusin on most a the illogical shit to evven get scared. There's a couple classics I like though. Wwe could wwatch em wwith some grubcorn and curl up somewwhere."
 
"I'll make shore to protect you from any highblood idiots wwith dead corpses theyre willin to throw into wwindows. That shit alone could beat some a the ones I wwatched recently." He joked again, deciding that laughing at himself beat feeling sorry about everything all over again. One horn was actually starting to look pretty nice, so he dabbed a bit of horn oil into a soft cloth and began massaging into the keratine. 
 
-
 
"Cullhorror as a genre is dumb as fuck.  Oh, the shuttle breaks down?  Oh, who could the fucking villain be?  Oh, probably the first fucking creepy as shit person they meet!  Here, let me fucking list the options: feral asshole, mutant asshole, asshole commander doing it to thin out the incompetents, highblood missing his pale.  Wow, with that much fucking narrative variety, how can we ever guess."  Snorting, disgruntled, Karkat folded his arms and flicked his eyes sideways up towards Eridan.  "It was going pretty good until the throwing part.  And the yelling parts.  And the fighting parts.  And the parts where I started crying like a fuckwit.  In fact, let's just all agree none of the parts after the romantic offering of a slain foe even happened."
 
-
 
"Kar, promise me if wwe evver find ourselvves the subjects of cullhorror film that you'll cull me and get it ovver wwith. I can't stand the inevvitable disappointment, it's just too much. It's much better bein assigned the role a token highblood wwho gets culled at the start to givve the audience a sense a unruly chaos aboard ship." Eridan rambled on, ending with a dramatic touch to his forehead with the back of his hand. 
 
The second horn was coming along, and as he brushed some shavings out of Kar's hair he gave a sheepish grin and added, "So... you liked the present then? It took hell to get to it, wwhich wwas surprising, but it wwas a good fight. And as for romantic, wwell wwhat can I say. I'm a natural." 
 
-
 
Distant look of vague irritation immediately sharpening into outright disgust, Karkat elbowed his moirail in the side a bit and scowled.  "Wow, and such natural, impressive modesty, too.  Is there any desirable quality Eridan Ampora doesn't manage to possess in imperial fuck tons?  Apparently fucking not, unless you count the ability not to lodge your hideously foppish shoes directly between the ever-gnashing pistons of your jaw.  Holy shit."
 
Settling back down, he rolled his eyes.  "Yeah.  I liked it since he was and continues to be fucking obnoxious and he wasn't really actually dead so there was no prolonged headache attached to his unrotting corpse.  It's the best of both moons."
 
-
 
"Apparently I ain't vvery good at Troll Mariocart, so there's that. And at least my shoes ain't comin appart at the soles. Howw do you evven fight in those old things wwithout trippin all ovver yourself? Really Kar. Betta shape up for your inevvitable showw dowwn wwith that red-text impostor, gill-torturer heathen." Eridan rebutted, finishing up the second horn with a good oil rub before handing Karkat a mirror. 
 
"There. You've gained at least another half inch on them from that treatment. Once I cut your hair, they'll look evven bigger." 
 
-
 
Taking the mirror, Karkat gave himself a long, displeased look, grimacing at his own reflection in familiar distaste before angling it towards his horns.  They didn't actually look any longer but they looked healthier, which was probably as good as he was going to get unless he had a miraculous mid-molt growth spurt.  Then he frowned, head twisting.  "I can cut my *own* hair, fuck you very much. Nobody's getting near my ears with a pair of doublebladed cutting implements but me."
 
Glancing back at his reflection, he glowered further.  "But I guess it's getting long again, shit."
 
-
 
"If you could cut your owwn hair, you wwoulda done it already. It wwas on the long side before this shitfest evven happened, so don't go blamin it on that." Eridan argued, taking the mirror back and ruffling up a portion of Karkat's hair. His fingers combed through once, twice, and on the third time he weaved it through his fingers, eying about an inch or so that definitely needed trimming. 
 
"Besides, if anyone knowws howw to be delicate around ears, its me. Earfins are bothersome little fucks wwhen it comes to hair cuts. Just give this a try and see if you like howw I do it." He added, gently moving out from under Karkat and offering him a claw. "I actually like getting it wet first, so let's movve to trap basin or a sink." 
 
-
 
"A 'sink,'" Karkat repeated under his breath, shaking his head once and crossing his arms stubbornly.  "If I couldn't cut my own hair, it would be five feet long and a single matted cord of filth.  Crabdad sure as fuck wasn't doing it.  I've just been busy."  Holding out for a long minute and looking up at Eridan, he finally snorted, and stood up.  At least it would get out of his damn eyes.  "Why the fuck would you get it wet??  It's easier to just stand there and cut it off until it's not in the way anymore."
 
-
 
"Wwell THAT explains a lot." Eridan scoffed, taking Kar's hand to lead him towards the stairs. "There's a difference betwween precision cuttin and blindly hackin it off. Wwhen it's wwet its evven, you can tell wwhere and wwhere not to cut. it's just easier."
 
Nudging his side, Eridan smirked down at him and threw an arm over his shoulder, "Don't you wwant Ter to see just howw dapper you can look?" 
 
-
 
Karkat glared, alarmed by any use of the word 'dapper' as it applied to him and already regretting having stepped out of the pile.  Dragging his heels against Eridan's arm, he snorted unattractively.  "Fuck no.  As far as she knows I'm a vague gray-black concrete-liquorice troll shaped blob barely concealing toxic cherry sewage and that's how we're fucking keeping it.  If she spontaneously regrew her fucking eyes and saw how I look, dapper or not, we'd all drown in tragic teal vomit."
 
-
 
The fact that Eridan once again forgot about Terezi's lack of sight was blindsided by how adorably pale Karkat was acting. Best yet, he wasn't planets way and hating him, he was in fact right next to him being a little snoot. Sighing in adoration, Eridan leaned down and hooked a leg around Karkat's knees, scooping him up like he did the night he made him their dream pile. 
 
"Wwell you're my vague gray-black concrete liquorice-troll shaped blob, and though part a me wwants you to stay a pitiful wwreck wwith your hair like that, practicality states you'd fight and levvel better wwith your hair out a the wway." Ending his retort with a nose kiss, Eridan sashayed towards the staircase with Karkat still in his arms. "So up wwe go."
 
-
 
"OH no, no fucking way, put me down right this god damn instant, Ampora, I swear to fuck!  I *refuse* to get carried around like a malpupated wiggler with six arms, especially by your dumb ass, *especially* up a set of fucking--"  Flailing around and shoving a hand into Eridan's face as he attempted to get his feet back under him so they could conduct themselves like actual semi-adults and not a pair of pandamaged pupas, Karkat could *feel* the instant he shoved too hard -- the shift in balance on the narrow staircase -- and yelped, loudly, as they both fell backwards despite his frantic grabbing for the diagonal balance bar.
 
-
 
Though he tried to keep his arms steady, Karkat's writhing caused Eridan to miscalculate his step and he didn't have his arms to brace himself. In an attempt to cushion his fall, he sprout out his wings in one frantic movement, but Kar's foot suddenly met his mouth and before he knew it, his head met the wall. 
 
Something in his mouth cracked upon impact, and a familiar cold, metallic taste coated his tongue and pooled around his gums. He paid no mind, however and looked around to make sure Karkat wasn't hurt. 
 
"Kar, are-" There was something loose in his mouth, something sharp. Using his tongue to feel what it was, he spit out three shark teeth into his hand. "Fuck." 
 
-
He'd hit at least three to five stairs before stopping, awkwardly, one hand finally gripping the bar to stop himself.  Not looking up, Karkat checked himself over quickly, hissing between his teeth at a shallow gash over his palm where he'd banged his hand against -- who fucking knew, what an idiot show that had been.  Tugging his sleeve down over it, he shoved it against his stomach and finally looked up, eyebrows set and bristling.  "I'm fucking fine, why the *fuck* would you think playing funtime carryshit corpsehauler on the stairs is necessary?"
 
Eyes flickering to the discarded teeth, he glared further.  "See, that's what fucking happens, now you have to wait for them to grow back because you think I can't fucking walk on my own, dumbass."
 
-
 
Eridan propped himself up with one arm, wings a little bent and drooping as he bought up a sleeve to clean up some of the blood dribbling from his mouth. He detested loosing teeth, and now he was down three of them right next to his smaller front fangs. The loss was super obvious, and with an embarrassed, aggravated grumble he combated, "It wwasn't that I thought you couldn't do it on your owwn, I wwas just tryin to wwhisk you off your feet like I did wwhen wwe wwere in lov-" 
 
He caught himself immediately, wetness beginning to form at the corner of his eyes at he shot Karkat fearful look, earfins low and trembling. "Wwere - are?" 
 
-
 
"And I've told you eight thousand damn times you can't carry me around like a sack of filthy discarded garbage on the way to dump it into the ocean. I have two legstalks and they stay on the fucking ground at all times.  I'm not a wiggler."  Grunting as he picked himself up, hand still tucked safely into his sweater, Karkat started back up the stairs to see this through or obtain pandamage trying.  "Are."
 
-
 
A switch turned on inside Eridan, lighting up his whole face as soon as the single word left Karkat's mouth. His heart began palpitating in lively, pale-struck beats and he couldn't help but beam at Karkat through his bloody, sore, crooked teeth. 
 
Making a merry seadweller glub noise, he leaped over and headbutted his moirail with affectionate gentility, his purple streak smoothing across Kar's jaw before he started prancing up the stairs. "Twwo legstalks that can't beat me up the stairs- wwiggler." 
 
-
 
"You are the worst fucking thing left in our stunted, idiotic chessgame of a universe, I swear to fuck," Karkat muttered in reply, trudging up the rest of the stairs and knocking Eridan's shoulder with his own as he passed him towards the ablutionblock.  Once there, he stopped, teeth buried in his lower lip, before looking sideways at his moirail and clenched his hand further into his sweater sleeve.  "I need a second to take care of this; try not to throw yourself back down the stairs like a moron in the meantime, okay?"
 
-
 
Rubbing his shoulder with a playful growl, Eridan caught up with Karkat seconds later and curiously glanced down at the "this" in question. Kar's hand was hidden, and after a moment or two of reflection Eridan figured that it was more than likely bleeding. Bleeding red blood. He glanced up; this is where it all went down.
 
His earfins flagged, reflecting the uncertain look on his face and he reflexively bit his busted bottom lip. "No problem, Kar. But... you knoww it ain't a big anymore deal, right? You don't need to hide from me no more."
 
He folded his arms into his chest, peering downwards with a grimace at the familiar tile flooring. "I ain't goin to freak out or nothin." 
 
-
"I'm not fucking hiding it!!" Karkat snapped, ignoring the fact that he had wrapped his shirt around it like his life depended on it. Had depended.  Probably still depended in certain circumstances and for which there was no real good reason to not hide it. Not that he was hiding. Habit was a harsh culling drone, was all. "I'm not hiding shit, I just. Don't look. It's gross as fuck and these-" his free hand jerked halfway to his eyes before falling again, "are bad enough already."
 
-
 
Eridan sighed, taking a look at his moirail and his oddly colored eyes and just nodded. "Yeah, I get it Kar." 
 
Leaning up against the nearby wall, his eyes wandering towards Kar's respiteblock, he ran a hand through his hair and called back. "You know, I kind of understand, in a wway. I greww up wwith somefin to hide too, you knoww. But in my case, I couldn't." 
 
-
Watching the seadweller from the corners of his eyes until he was fairly sure he wasn't going to move or look over, Karkat turned on the waterspout. Angling his back between the basin and his moirail, just - in case - Karkat stuck his hand under and fished for a roll of dermal tape with the other. He tried to figure out whatever the fuck Eridan was talking about, but there wasn't anything so obvious that it wasn't concealable that was grounds for being a danger. "...What?"
 
-
 
Taking a deep breath, he reached up and twirled a section of his violet streak in his fingers. "You know my hair? It ain't dyed. I'm the only troll I knoww that's got somefin like this - and I nevver figured out howw I got it. I used to get mocked for it underwwater. They called me a freak, so I culled em and left for shore. After a wwhile I just let people think I dyed it."
 
He straightened his back, still gazing at nothing in particular and made a displeased sort of grunt. "Still hurts though, so I guess I can relate."
 
-
 
Karkat stared, blankly, caught halfway through ripping off a piece of dermal tape with his teeth as he tried and failed to tell if Eridan was actually being sincere in comparing the two.  Wordlessly, he finished ripping the tape -- eyes still right on the seadweller - and pushed it down over the slowly oozing cut on his hand.  How the fuck was he supposed to take that, he had no goddamn idea.
 
"Are- are you kidding?"
 
-
 
"No. It sucked pretty bad. It got betta wwhen people just assumed it wwasn't natural, but as a pupa? Torture." Eridan responded, shooting Karkat a sympathetic look as he continued to slouch against the opposing wall. 
 
-
 
This.  This was like one of those shitty sitcoms, where the greenblooded scienterrorist complains endlessly about her newest assignment dissecting dead xenobeasts to the same archeradicator squad leader responsible for culling and collecting them at a fair amount of risk.  It was supposed to be funny, but if it was really funny those shows wouldn't need to use recorded laugh tracks.  Karkat looked away, prodding at the tape a few last times as he tried to put together an answer that wasn't one long screaming fuckword.
 
"Eridan," he finally said, with infinite, checked patience.  He was the pale stud, it was him.  "That's not the same thing."
 
-
 
Eridan perked up, allowing a moment of pause before heeding both Kar and Sol's warning. Instead of arguing the contrary or continue to talk about himself, he folded his hands and replied, "Alright, I'm listening. Wwhy ain't it the same?" 
 
-
 
"Because," Karkat continued, the calm in his voice more and more forced as he continued, "as shitty as that probably was, that's all it fucking was.  Shitty, and unfair.  And you can pretend it's dye and nobody's going to fucking know unless you tell them, and then it's even less of fucking anything besides an obnoxious lie.  Or hey, you could fucking actually dye it and then it's nothing at fucking all!  Or let everybody know anyway and just deal with getting mocked, because it doesn't mean shit for your status or make you unquadrantable or make you less of a troll!! THIS--"
 
Thrusting his hand out, he shoved the bandage in Eridan's direction, shaking just a little as he swallowed hard and lowered his volume from where it'd been pitching upwards.  "Is fucking *cull on sight*.  It's not the same."
 
-
 
As much as Eridan /wanted/ to say that standing out amongst a bunch of violent seadwellers was also "cull on sight" material, he could tell by the way Karkat's voice squeaked that this wasn't up for discussion. Instead, he glanced at the red stained bandage then back at Karkat and nodded, solemnly. "Right, sorry about that. I can't imagine howw relievvin it must a felt escapin from all that and then finally bein 'quadrantable' here in the game."
 
Extending out his arm, Eridan took Kar's injured hand into his own and inspected the wound with feather light touches."Although, evven wwhen I kneww you back home, I nevver thought you less of a troll. You wwere a model troll in my book. Then again, I didn't know back then. I guess things happen for a reason sometimes." 
 
-
The other troll's response took the energy completely out of his sails, and Karkat let out a huge, whooshing breath and dropped his shoulders.  Twisting his bandaged hand around,  he slid his fingers through Eridan's and frowned, more thoughtful than angry. "Yeah, and that reason's called don't tell your royal palecrush about your hideous blood *or* said hideous palecrush. Also, you thought I was purple, so shows what you know. I'm an awful excuse for worthwhile canonfodder, you jerks just happen to be that awful that you need my yelling."
 
-
 
Even the mention of "pale crush" prompted Eridan to flush in boyish delight. He remembered those days well. He remembered dreaming of being shipmates with Karkat up in space when they enrolled in officer training together, and the inevitable starlit confession where they'd confess their undying pale love for each other. He also remembered the nights he'd think about all of that and write down all the details in his little notebook, stroking his face all the while. 
 
Triggered by the overwhelming sense of nostalgia, Eridan took Karkat into his arms and dipped him through the doorway in the most suave way possible given the limited space. "And it's that yellin that made me fall horns ovver heels for you, Kar." 
 
Then he kissed him. Kissed him in the very hallway that their previous shitshow escalated, and Eridan thought it perfect.
 
-
 
Instinctively grabbing for something steady as he was pushed backwards, which ended up being Eridan anyway, Karkat waited for the kiss to be over before he pried one hand off the seadweller's shoulders and reached up to pap his face instead.  Smoothing out an eyebrow with his fingers, he snorted softly.  "You are the most overdramatic mess, I swear to fuck."
 
-
 
 
Eridan leaned his cheek against the warmth of Kar's hand for a moment or two before setting him back on his feet, peering down at his clean horns and puffy hair with an amused, but adoring gaze. Yet before he could respond, a yawn had made his way up his throat and he realized that he hadn't had a good day's sleep in quite some time. Batting his eyes, he papped Kar back and held both of his hands in his own.
 
"An ovver dramatic mess wwho probably needs a good rest before messin wwith your hair. Care to join me in the coon? Or are you still busy makin up for my rampage..." 
 
-
 
"Wow, believe it or fucking not I actually do have responsibilities that have nothing to do with you either damn way!  Shocker of the century, I know, just wow, let me collect all our various jaws from the floor after an informational upset like that.  I have to take care of some shit.  But you should sleep."
 
-
 
"I asked if your company, not your sass. So you can roll that back up wwith your 'other responsibilities' and make a double stacked gruburrito out of it. I could go for one wwhen I wwake up actually." Eridan made a 'mhmm' noise and flicked his cape over his shoulder, dismissing Karkat with a parting shoulder pat on his way to the respiteblock. "You and your lowwblood food. I'm goin to be all blubber wwhen this games ovver wwith." 
 
-
"My bloodpusher rends itself for you, really," Karkat drawled, rolling his eyes once and turning towards the extra block so he could use his husktop. "A life of unchecked tragedy."
 
-
 
Once he was settled in the coon, Eridan took out his communicator glasses and sent Karkar one last "<>" before taking them off and drifting off to a much needed sleep.
 
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Eridan Ampora

September 2014

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