Nepeta's hunting instincts were on full alert. Usually she would never be so close to this many hivestems and this many other trolls, but today warranted the danger. She kept her eyes on the scrawled address she carried in her hands, shoulders hunched.

She hated cities.

She bumped shoulders with another greenblood on her way into Sollux's hivestem, and she had to focus on a memory of Equius calming her – do not claw out the throats of trolls you do not know – as the other trolls passed. She kept her claws sheathed.

Thankfully the halls of Sollux's building were much less crowded than the streets of his city, so she reached his door without issue. She took a moment to compose herself before she knocked; she would do no good to come to him stressed. So she shut her eyes, relaxed her shoulders, and allowed an easy smile to come to her lips, as though she wasn't here for a reason.

Then she knocked, rapping her fingers one, two, three times against his door. She waited for a moment. No response.

"Sollux?" Nepeta asked, keeping her tone as sweet and non-threatening as possible. "I know you're in there. Sollux?"

No response.

So she let out an irritated growl and kicked down the door.

He was in there, alright, sitting in front of his computer. His knees were pulled up to his chest, his forehead set delicately on top. He made no indication he had heard her come in.

Nepeta had feared as much when she heard the news about the FLARP fallout from Karkat. Tavros crippled, Vriska missing an arm and an eye, Terezi blind, and Aradia was most likely dead, if Vriska's intentions were played out correctly. On a tip from Equius (who was saddled with dealing with Vriska while she recovered) Nepeta had come to see how Sollux was handling things, because he had stopped responding on Trollian.

Now she had her answer.

Nepeta inched towards Sollux, careful not to make any sudden or upsetting movements, but she could have started attacking and she felt it was unlikely he'd respond. She finally rested a careful hand on his shoulder; still nothing.

It occurred to her that this was her first time seeing Sollux in person. She knew what he looked like, of course, from the occasional group video chat, or through descriptions or pictures from her other friends. She could easily envision the several versions of him that she'd scribbled onto her shipping wall, and her heart fell when she realized how she'd have to rearrange some of the ships. After all, she could no longer ship him with Aradia if there was no Aradia left to ship him with.

Sollux shot up suddenly, as though shocked by something, and Nepeta quickly drew her hand back. He turned to face her with a half-panicked look, but Nepeta was under the distinct impression that he wasn't looking at her, but rather looking past her, at some unnamed antagonist.

Overall, Sollux looked a mess. His hair stuck up at odd angles, there were deep bags under his eyes, and there was a bit of what appeared to be dried honey on the front of his shirt. Based on the smell, he hadn't bathed since the incident.

Finally, his eyes focused, and he asked, "What are you doing here?"

Nepeta felt her heart crack.

"I'm here to help you!" she said, throwing on the smile she had prepared at the doorway.

"Help?" he asked.

"Just trust me."

And so she began, peeling him away from his computer, ordering him to strip and bathe (though of course she carefully averted her eyes), and she convinced him to take at least a short nap in his recuprecoon. It was borderline pale, but it was necessary to keep him alive.

And though Nepeta couldn't help but pity him throughout the entire ordeal, the feelings ran redder than that – she was caring for his body, not his feelings. Of course she had always had a spot for Sollux and Aradia on her cave wall – her pre-requisite canon ship – but with Aradia out of the way...

It would be an easy adjustment to make, no matter how guilty she felt.

Nepeta woke Sollux up again after two hours, determined to get him talking again.

"You're not my lusus," he lisped irritably, and she smiled. If he had the energy to complain, then hopefully he could muster up the energy to keep living.

"Well your lusus is chained to the roof, so I'll just have to stand in fur now. So get your lazy butt up!"

She covered her eyes with one hand as Sollux clambered out, handing him a set of clean clothes with the other.

"And speaking of your lusus, how long has it been since you fed-"

Nepeta was interrupted by a "ding!" from Trollian. Sollux made a dive for his keyboard, but she was sure to beat him to it; she didn't want to be back to square one if it was Vriska, messaging him just to gloat about her victory.

The messenger wasn't Vriska, but Nepeta felt her heart sink anyways.

There would be no adjustment to her shipping wall, after all.

Homestuck is property of Andrew Hussie.