Author's Notes: This was made for rage-harmonics over on deviantArt for getting second place in the recent Homestuck-Trolls contest. They did some great work, and when their request for this came through I was eager to try and do my best. Rage-harmonics wanted an AraSol fic around an Indiana Jones type adventure, and I can totally see Aradia really excited about such a thing and Sollux not being in to it in the slightest.
Sollux Captor and the Temple of Frogs
There was hardly a shortage of things Sollux Captor knew he understood with perfect clarity. He knew he was a psionic troll of amazing ability. He knew that someday he was going to be taken up to the fleet and plugged into a ship unless he could prove himself far more valuable in some other way. He understood the complexities of programming and had created viruses of unfathomable power and complexity. He understood that Karkat Vantas was a pathetic excuse for a hacker or programmer and often yielded the most humorous results. He understood physics, complex theoretical maths, how to master any computer game that came across his screen, and even how to make a pretty mean souffle.
Yet for the life of him Sollux Captor could not understand Aradia Megido.
They had met by what seemed like chance, but he had stopped believing in random circumstance a long time ago. She'd posted some pictures of hieroglyphics in a cryptography forum he frequented, and the other users had spent a lot of time hassling her and joking around while he actually looked at what she had offered and realized she had chosen the right place to look for help. They were more than merely text, they were a code in their own right that had intrigued him. That had led to them talking. Had led to him traveling to a neutral meeting ground with their lusii so he could look over etchings she had taken of the patterns.
And, ultimately, it had led to him here and now, staring at the grinning troll trying to figure out just what was going on. Was she really suggesting that...
"Oh come on, you have to have seen this in the troll Indiana Jones movies! Trust me, it really does work. I've done it like a hundred times!"
His eyes flashed from her self-assured grin to the chasm before them, to the improbably placed thick tree branch stretching out across the gap, and then back to the whip in Aradia's hand. She couldn't be serious, could she? Who actually did those kind of stunts? They were meant to look good in movies, not to function in real life.
"You can't be serious," he found himself blurting.
"Very serious," she assured him, still beaming at him and holding the whip out for him to take. Then, after a moment, her smile fell and she shook her head. "Oh, you've probably never seen it done in real life, right? Silly me. Here, I'll show you."
Her fingers loosened their grip just enough to let the full length of the whip play itself out, leaving her with a firm grip on the handle that had been wrapped in a ribbon the same color as the lipstick she wore that his eyes kept coming back to. He watched as she shifted her weight, flicked the whip out beside her as if figuring out its length, and then moved with a flawless kind of grace as her arm came forward and she lashed out. His eyes followed the motion as the whip shot across the gap and wrapped itself tightly around the tree limb. Again Aradia turned to smile at him before she tugged on the whip to check that it was secure, then ran for the chasm. It was all Sollux could do to not just grab for her with his psionics as she sailed out over the gap, clutching the whip, and started to swing easily through the air. Then, as suddenly as she had started to run, she was happily on the other side, waving cheerfully at him.
"You're insane!" he shouted as she gestured for him to catch the whip's handle before throwing it toward him across the gap. Of course he was so concerned with helpfully informing her of the fact that the handle of the whip swung right past him without him so much as making a move for it.
Across the gap Aradia frowned excessively wide, probably to make sure he could see it, and as she tilted her head the hat perched jauntily between her horns started to slip. Quickly her hands came up to hold it in place, and even as she did Sollux caught sight of a brilliant white light starting to radiate from her hand. Sollux continued to watch her, squinting to try and make out what exactly she was doing, and almost jumped free of his horns as something started to prod at his head.
"What!?" he shouted as he turned just in time for the butt of the whip handle, glowing white, to prod him twice in his shades. Immediately he grabbed the offending handle and held it away from his face before returning his attention to the once again grinning girl.
"You're telekinetic!?" he demanded. How had he missed that detail? No, more importantly, why did she bother to use such a risky and inefficient way to get across the chasm when she could just carry herself with her telekinetics?
All she did was nod. Well, that and pull the whip handle from his grip with her power and begin to prod him once again. With a sigh Sollux just stepped toward the edge of the chasm, ignoring the whip, and wrapped himself in a blanket of psionic energy and used the swirling red-blue power to carry himself across the gap. When he alighted on the ground next to Aradia she shook her head at him, looking insanely disappointed.
"That's no fun," she declared as she raised a light bathed hand once more, reaching toward the whip. Within seconds the whip had coiled up and placed itself in her outstretched hand. "Part of the value of going there is to enjoy the journey."
"All of the value of getting there is recording the symbols you found," Sollux countered, biting his lip to keep from saying that there was also something to be said in just watching someone as strange as her.
"Next you're going to tell me you never even watched the Indiana Jones movies at all!"
"Nope," Sollux agreed, confused as her expression fell. "Is this place much further?"
"No," Aradia admitted, sighing as she replaced the whip at her side and led him on.
Of course it turned out that not much further didn't mean the going was any easier. Between the chasm and the ruins they ran into a surprising number of strange and contrived situations that were clearly meant to be exciting and yet made no sense. A bridge over another chasm that seemed arbitrarily rickety and pathetic and, of course, broke as they were crossing. Aradia had handled that by whipping on to a more stable part of the rope and then climbing up, while Sollux once more used his psionics to get across. Then there was the point where they were getting into the ruins area and there seemed to be a wall of dart launchers, which Aradia had attempted to avoid by stepping on 'safe' tiles while Sollux, once again, carried himself across with psionics. And who could forget the giant boulder that rolled free after Aradia picked up a shiny bauble to show him and they were forced to run from it for a while until, annoyed, Sollux had whirled in place and blasted the thing to pieces with a psionic blast.
"Does this always happen to you?" Sollux found himself panting after the blast. It wasn't often he used his psionics so often in such a short period of time, making this more than just a normal sort of strain.
"No," Aradia chuckled, leaning in to look over him to make sure he was okay.
"So you normally just use your telekinesis to..."
"No," she repeated, smiling when he looked up at her in shock. "You sounded so excited about coming to my frog temple to check out the symbols I posted, that I figured out you were really in to archeology and all of that. So I wanted to make the experience as exciting as possible for you. Took me a few nights to set this all up."
"You... Set this all up?"
"Of course. Who else? Besides, clearly I would have triggered at least the boulder and bridge before now. Did you like them all?"
All Sollux could do for a long moment was stare at her, aghast at the very prospect of someone going out of their way to set up all of these traps and obstacles just for him. Why would someone do something like that? Who wanted to live a life like that? Who was willing to try and outrun a giant boulder just to make someone else feel like they were in a movie?
"Yeah," he said after a moment, unable to do anything else faced with the eagerness and excitement practically painted across her face. "I loved it all."
Maybe he hadn't really meant it, but they way Aradia beamed at him and spent the rest of their trip all but floating in front of him gleefully explaining other traps she had planned but hadn't found the time to create made it worth it. She just seemed to radiate a joy so powerful that Sollux couldn't help but find himself caught up in her excitement. The way she kept turning back to look at him and smile... It was breathtaking in its own way. So much that when she asked if he'd visit again in a perigee so she could make more traps and obstacles for him to enjoy he readily agreed.
Anything to have another chance to see her smile like that.