Author: Cella [shortitude]
Characters: Terezi Pyrope
Pairings: hints at Terezi/Karkat, Terezi/everyone, Scourge Sisters shenanigans, Dave/Terezi, Gamzee/Karkat. Squint, people.
Summary: Sometimes it’s easy to forget you’re only over six solar sweeps old. TEREZI. Survivor’s guilt tastes like ash.
Spoilers: Everything up to EOA5, and speculation after that.
A/N: I AM SO FUCKING NERVOUS AAAH! First Homestuck fic, please don’t skewer me alive yet. Inspired by the fact that these are, still, kids – some decisions must be very hard to make. I hope you enjoy it.
So Stop Growing
TEREZI: Analyze your situation
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how old they are. How old you are, too, despite all proof pointing to ‘timeless’. Just because you’ve seen all the possibly outcomes, though, doesn’t make you wise beyond your years. What makes you wise, you think, is the ability to compartmentalize pretty damn well. What young troll learns the benefit of living and letting live at the age when killing for sport and killing for survival is pretty much the rule of thumb. It’s settled, though – if you five are going to build up a new world from scratch, there will be less of the tossing trolls into the mouths of carnivorous lusii, less of the blood hierarchy mentality, and less of the joining in on games that could decimate your pals just because someone said so.
To anyone else, this might sound like the innocent thoughts of a pre-teen. But to you, to Terezi Pyrope, Seer of Mind, who has seen the end of Prospit, the end of Alternia, who has hidden on a meteor and hasn’t tasted the forest on her tongue for eternity now, to you it means the slow development of the new Alternian law. And you will enforce it, when the time comes – because no-one should have to kill their sister, however wretched that relationship had turned to be, to save their world. There are collateral damages that cannot be tolerated, and sometimes, you just think you’ve shoved your pointy feet in every one of them.
For a while, you all wait. The meteor is cold, the proof of battles past still remains, tainting the walls and the floors and embedding themselves into your brain. You’re not there when they honour the fallen. You stand far from the monument they’re building, far from the scent of all the colours, mixing together. You stand, and you watch. Anyone would think that Kanaya would become the designated watcher of this poor group, but Kanaya lacks what you still have – cold blood, should the situation demand it; and most importantly, perspective.
It would be ridiculous to think that, at your age, you know exactly what everyone needs. But then again, at your age, you’ve seen a lot already, and there is only so much tragedy a young mind can witness before it changes.
Karkat hates it, of course, but then again, why wouldn’t he? That you’ve picked up your battered old dragon cape and use it constantly, claiming to be the new prophet of the meteor, blind lady justice and all around the only fun troll left everytime he scowls at you for wearing it would obviously get you the reaction you wanted.
Here’s how it goes.
Karkat needs to be distracted. He needs to spend less time alone with his guilt and his thoughts, because each day he spends doing that is a step further from all of you. Karkat needs to be the fearless leader that you have let him – helped him? – be, to start up communication with the human kids again, to pap Gamzee once every twelve hours just to make sure batshit insanity won’t be on the menu for dinner again. So you put on the dragon cape and roll over his possessions until he starts screaming at you to the point where you can picture the fifteen lines that monologue would take on trollian, and you distract him. It works, you know it does, but the circles under his eyes will always be there, just like there will be blood on the walls and guilt on everyone’s shoulders.
Kanaya needs to protect and nurture. She spends her mornings trying to grow a garden on barren soil, and her afternoons trying to nurse Sollux to health. You don’t comment on it, because Kanaya isn’t Karkat. She knows best how to take care of herself and of others, and usually, her decisions are good. But playing Florence Nightingale twenty-four seven is a task even for the rainbow-drinker, so sometimes you keep her company in the garden project. You are the only girls left, of course, but it doesn’t bond you as easily as anyone (Karkat) would expect. There is the issue of Vriska’s timely demise, and you’re still not touching that one around anyone who could see you. But you both share a concern over keeping the place as clean as possible, over making sure Karkat eats something every few hours, over Gamzee’s general state of mind, over Sollux – so it does work out, eventually.
Sollux needs…There are days when you think you know what he needs, but mostly, thinking about what Sollux needs is on the same page as thinking about the sound the blade made when it ripped into Vriska’s back. So you don’t think about it, and hope Sollux will forgive you, and hope that Kanaya will deal with his needs instead.
Gamzee needs to understand. While Karkat might have made you give up the need to hang him for his crimes, you still think that he should know them. Knowing is half the process. So sometimes you join him on the edge of a crater in the meteor, and pretend you’re looking out at the sea together. You ask him how he’s doing, he answers something vague and even if he still talks like he’s stoned, you know it’s not the same as before. You know he knows. Giving Gamzee what he needs proves to be the hardest part, because it turns out to be the one thing – troll – you might need the most, too. But you do it, and not because you can see the outcome of it in your futures and it’s grim and bloody again. You do it because, damn it all, you’re still young, all of you, and you’ve dealt with enough bullshit so far for you not see it clearly: you walk around with a cane because it’s badass, Gamzee walks around like he needs a crutch to stay sane and solid. It isn’t easy, because nothing of this caliber is, because he’s ruined your investigation, because he’s killed some of your teammates, because, because, because – but in the end, it happens. You finally come to terms with the facts: how many of you have been lead around by history repeating itself, how many have been manipulated to the benefit of a few, how many were only the trigger, but not the finger to pull it. And you forgive, impossible as it may seem. The moment you pat his hand on the shore of the dead sea and start to spin a tale about a young troll and his goat-dad for his entertainment, you can feel that impossible pale feeling filling you up.
It takes more than a week of dead time on the meteor to realize what everyone needs and somehow provide them with it. You sneak into Kanaya’s room one day, armed with chalk, and draw all the stupid and ridiculous flowers you can think of on her walls – she never comments on the accuracy, or on the decoration itself, but there’s a new scalemate sitting on your desk four days later. You sit next to Sollux and promise to teach him all about the cool ways of being blind, starting with mastering an acute obnoxiousness – you promise he’ll enjoy every lesson. You bring your scalemates to the edge of the crater and play with Gamzee, because you’re still allowed to be young, even if the stories are old and dark – and you give him a crutch, because you’ve been blind long enough to know that people need them even when they say otherwise.
You let Karkat go. It’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it’s what you both need. You know the way he looks at you has changed – the hint of something more that had been there for months has shifted, just as his concerns have shifted. Sometimes, you think he must look like that at Gamzee. But this is Karkat, and he’s an idiot, so it will probably take him five more years to realize that his quadrants have changed. Untying the knot that holds you to him is surprisingly easy, as hard as letting him go may be. You change the way you troll him, you spend more time alone, you put him on Gamzee duty every day. Time passes, wounds heal, and you’re left with your scars.
There are days, now, when you sit on the ground, two feet away from where you’d heard Vriska’s last breath, lost in your thoughts and your doubts, lost in the fact that you miss her stupid face and her stupid laugh and hate her for never letting you give her a fair trial, trying to See further, to figure out if you’re doing the right thing at all, when you swear you can still remember what she’d said.
And the irony of it all isn’t that she’d ended up being the Seer of your future, but that you can’t tell what it is that you regret the most: what you did to Vriska, or what you’re doing to yourself.
But time still passes, and silence follows you around instead of the screams of your friends, so you guess that your end of the bargain wasn’t as bad. You know everyone’s ready to settle into a new routine, but you are determined to break it. You keep finding fabric and stuffing to make scalemates with Kanaya. You keep thinking of stories for Gamzee. You keep training a silent Sollux.
And you miss Karkat – you miss him, you miss him, you miss him, even if he wasn’t yours, even if he isn’t gone – and he can’t tell the difference. In the end, it amuses you, how much he can overlook. But the contest to make him shout your ear off is still entertaining, so the separation doesn’t end up hurting too much.
Somehow, surprising as it is, you all start living again.
TG: hey tz
TG: listen up
TG: i was thinking since were practically at an arms reach
TG: or a planet or a universe or time or whatthefuckingever
TG: ive got some sweet moves so what do you say about
TG: that motherfucking dance party
TG: you there
GC: W3R3 M4K1NG 1T H4PP3N
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how old you are. But there are still ways to remember.
==> Motherfucking dance party.