CG: HEY FUCKASS, WHY THE FUCK AREN'T YOU AT KANAYA'S YET?

Eridan groaned as his husktop beeped at him annoyingly. He turned his lightly purple tinted eyes groggily to the bright screen and groaned, his black hair sticking up at odd angles as he sighed into the couch cushion. He had failed to make it to his recuperacoon the day before and had just collapsed where he was. The throbbing between his fins was reminding him how stupid that was. His husktop beeped again in rapid succession.

CG: WHY DO I EVEN FUCKING TRY?

CG: IT'S NOT LIKE YOU EVEN CARE, YOU GRUBSHIT FOR A THINKPAN.

CG: FUCKING SHIT I MEAN THE HUMANS ARE ONLY FUCKING MAKING THE FUCKING GALAXY HOPPING EXPRESS TO FUCKING GET HERE

CG: SO, YOU KNOW

CG: NO BIG FUCKING DEAL OR ANYTHING

CA: for the lovve of cod kar its barely sunset

CG: FINALLY THE NOOKWIFFING PRINCE STIRS FROM HIS FUCKING BEAUTY SLEEP

CG: AGAIN I GRACIOUSLY FUCKING ASK WHY YOUR SHITSTAIN EXCUSE FOR A FUCKING FACE ISN'T AT KANAYA'S YET?

CG: FUCK EVEN GAMZEE IN HIS FUCKING SOPOR HAZE MANAGED TO WRIGGLE HIS ASS HERE TWO FUCKING DAYS AGO.

CG: DO YOU KNOW HOW FUCKING UNCOMFORTABLE IT IS TO HAVE TO SHARE A RECUPERACOON WITH TAVROS AND THOSE FUCKING METAL LEGS OF HIS?

CA: givve me an hour kar I don't livve that fuckin far awway

CG: WHATEVER NOOKWIFF I'M DONE TALKING TO YOU ANYWAY

CG: JUST GET YOUR ASS HERE OK?

Eridan had to smirk at the hint of concern that slid into the Cancer's final line. It had been two and a half sweeps since they returned from that nightmare of a game which they all preferred to forget, other than the humans of course. It had taken a while for the hard feelings to ease and Eridan still had the faintest of purple scars running across his abdomen as a permanent reminder of his stupidity. In fact several of the trolls would have killed each other again if not for the humans filling a quadrant or two of a few of the trolls, and Karkat's virtual screaming about getting along.

Of course their return had brought about several complications. Mainly, the humans. Jade and Kanaya had solved the travel problem being the Witch and Sylph of Space respectively, bending space to their wills. Hiding the humans in such a hostile environment had taken some creative thinking however. Feferi had come up with an elegant solution that since they were meeting at Kanaya's anyways that they stay nearby, and if they had to venture out, the troll had helped design believable looking horns that they could wear with a bit of grey makeup for brief appearances.

The humans came to visit as often as they could, typically six or seven times a sweep, and all the former players met up, though Eridan and a few of the others did it more out of politeness since they didn't have any links with them. It also lent to the exchanging of ideas, of which the group's had turned rebellious as of late. With their return to Alternia, all the trolls had been glad to see their lusus' return. Well, all save one. Gl'bgolyb hadn't returned with the completion of the game, both a blessing and a curse really. Suddenly the troll race wasn't doomed if the horror terror died, but it also meant Feferi was in serious danger of being killed as a rival to the throne. Fortunately for all of them, the Condesce had no further connection to her former lusus and was blissfully unaware of her absence for the moment. Even Eridan, who had once touted the glory of the hemospectrum, had begun to see where it had its flaws and how the empire would benefit under the rule of his former moirail.

Eridan rolled off the sofa and stalked slowly to the bathroom and the promise of a nice shower to wake him up. As the water rolled over his cool skin, his gills flared and allowed the fresh water to remove the dried flakes of sea salt it found there. As the troll toweled himself off, his husktop beeped again. He growled until he slid on his glasses and saw that it wasn't stark grey caps locked text of Karkat, but a sweetly sour yellow.

TA: hey are you comiing or not?

TA: kk ii2 freakiing out and whiile iit2 entertaiiniing a2 fuck iid prefer two have 2ome heariing left.

CA: tell him to keep his bulge in his pants

CA: i just got out of the cod damn showwer

TA: he2 ju2t pantiing 2o hard over 2eeiing the john human

TA: oh 2o you're typiing two me naked eh?

CA: if only you had a vvideo connection

TA: 2ee thii2 ii2 why you're my kii2me2ii2 because you leave me here wiith the2e blatheriing iidiiot2 then you bulge tea2e me liike that

CA: i'll be there soon enough

CA: i'm leavvin now

TA: 2ee you 2oon

Eridan chuckled to himself as he finished toweling himself off and pulled on his favorite striped pants. Sollux had fallen into his Caliginous quadrant in the game, though it took their emersion from it and half a sweep to tame it into a proper blackrom. It was an unusual relationship as far as kismesis' were concerned too on account of Sollux's bipolar disorder. There were days where he fell more into a pale status and others where his feelings were so pitch it made Eridan quiver with anticipation. Tonight must be paler.

Eridan let out a soft whistle as he wrapped his scarf around his neck and clasped his cloak on with a deep amethyst broach. An echoing whinny curled a smile on the trolls lips as the shimmery white scales of his lusus appeared on the horizon. Eridan patted his guardian gingerly before hopping on.

"To Kanaya's," Eridan sighed as the seahorse shook it's neck and let out a drawn out whicker, "Yes I knoww it's in the desert, can wwe please not havve this argument again?"

The beast snorted once before taking to the air. Eridan enjoyed the feeling of his cape swirling around behind him as his hair whipped strands of purple and black past his face. The scenery below quickly changed from ocean, to beach, to forest, to prairie, to thick dunes of a desert. As Kanaya's oasis came into view, Eridan sighed in relief. When they landed, the troll patted his lusus lovingly before letting it dive into the cool pond near where the other attending lusus where gathered. Eridan took in the sight of the oasis.

When it had become their gathering place, the trolls and humans had combined their powers and extended its reach, adding in a pond and building several smaller hives for use as temporary residences. Eridan saw the glow of a small fire near Kanaya's white tower and smirked as he clearly heard Karkat's voice swearing loudly.

"About fucking time, Ampora," the nubby horned troll snarled, "Get over here so we can get this started."

Eridan couldn't help but smirk as he entered the pool of light. Everyone had changed in the past two and a half sweeps, yet everyone still looked somewhat the same. Equius had bulked out more, Nepeta had grown sleeker, Tavros had filled out nicely, and even Karkat had grown a few inches.

"Eridan!" Feferi squealed, her fins flaring happily, "Thanks for coming!"

"You knoww I wwouldn't miss this," their problems behind them, Eridan smiled at his former moirail graciously.

"Let's get this motherfuckin show on the road," Gamzee drawled, his imposing height defeated by the slouch in his shoulders and the glazed over look in his eyes. Everyone liked him better on spoor, or maybe it was his fingers weaved in with Tavros' that calmed him nowadays. Either way, a non-murderous Gamzee was just fine for all of them.

Kanaya smiled and brought her hands together in a box formation, bringing a ghostly portal into existence in front of her. Suddenly a small gold ship popped out and hovered, four green beams shooting from its deck and materializing into four life-sized humans near the fire.

"Jade!" Nepeta pounced the black haired girl the instant she was corporal, purring loudly.

"Kaaaaarrrrkaaaat," John rolled his eyes as the troll growled at him and wrapped a possessive arm around his waist, "It hasn't been that long since you saw me."

Eridan smirked as Rose immediately gravitated to Kanaya and stole a kiss. It had just kind of worked out that the girls ended up with other girls. John and Karkat was bound to happen, but there was the wrench of John still harboring feelings for Vriska and vice versa, causing Karkat to flip between hating and pitying John and causing drama of its own. The only human who seemed uninterested in quadrant filling was the cool kid, Dave. In fact it seemed the only reason the blonde human came at all was because of the other three, much as was the reason with some of the trolls wanting to be there for their friends. Eridan didn't really harbor feeling for him one way or the other. To be fair they never really talked, and normally never would, but fate seemed to have different intentions for them.

Eridan had taken off to walk the lush sanctuary shortly after the humans' arrival. It was peaceful here, and he enjoyed that. When he finally moved off Alternia in a sweep or two, he'd decided to look for someplace green yet near enough to water to keep his aquatic nature happy. When he wandered back to the fire, it was nearly deserted.

"Wwhere'd evveryone go?" Eridan enquired upon his return.

"Kanaya was beat," Terezi cackled, "she had been up all day! Her and Rose absconded indoors. Aradia and Feferi went off with Jade and Nepeta to talk about sedition with Equius in tow of his moirail. Tavros, Gamzee, John, Karkat, and Vriska all decided to go splash around in the pond. And Sollux went inside to do some coding. Me? I'm just sitting here with Dave who isn't being very talkative."

Dave shrugged his shoulders before returning to his slumped position. Suddenly a beeping came from Terezi's pocket and she pulled out a small device, "Seems my pouncellor is in need of some of my legislaceration. Later, boys!"

With a cackle, she was gone leaving Eridan and Dave alone around the fire. Eridan considered absconding himself but decided it would be bad etiquette to leave a guest alone, even if Dave wasn't technically his guest. Sitting on one of the fallen logs, Eridan stared into the fire as the silent minutes ticked by. Finally, he cleared his throat to try and strike up a conversation, but was cut off.

"Don't," Dave's voice was flat and tired sounding.

"Wwhat?" Eridan turned a quizzical eye to the blonde.

"Look I've heard all about you," Dave sighed, "Desperate to fill your quadrants and such. Well sorry, not interested."

"Wwhat the fuck," Eridan was honestly offended, "Oh please, that ship sailed swweeps ago. I havve growwn up since then, givve me some credit. Besides, I already havve a kismesis and wwith comments like that, you'd be headin into Caliginous regions."

"Sorry," Dave hunched his shoulders and let his head hang, "Just kinda don't want to be here."

"Wwell," Eridan turned to the blonde, "Do you need to glub about your feelins?"

"What?" Dave turned a confused smirk to the purple blood.

"You knoww, like vvent what's on your mind?"

Dave snorted and turned away in silence. Eridan couldn't figure out why but he felt a little disappointed as he stared at the back of the blonde's head. The troll was just deciding to leave the human alone and go find his lusus when the man spoke.

"It's John," Dave's voice was barely a whisper, "And that fucking excuse for a troll that holds him so tightly that no one can get fucking near, not even his best friend. Why not just piss on him and claim him like any other fucking territorial animal."

Eridan's eyes grew wide. Dave was known for his aloofness and his cool swagger and to hear the human's voice with even a hint of emotion was a bit alarming. Dave scoffed and sniffled slightly, removing his shades to rub his hand across his eyes.

"Oh fucking hell," his voice was sarcastic, "What the fuck am I talking about?"

"You pity him," Eridan's voice was soft and when Dave turned a watery glance towards him he felt the need to get up and move closer to the blonde, to comfort him.

"I fucking pity him," Dave cleared his throat, concealing his eyes behind his shades again, "And not just him."

Eridan's gills flared a bit as he quirked his head to the side curiously. Their shoulders bumped together but Dave didn't flinch away from the neutral contact. In fact he almost leaned into it, needing the comfort of the interaction.

"I thought I pittied Sollux too, but he has Feferi," Dave chuckled darkly, "Then there was Terezi but she's only interested in being friends. Jade has Nepeta, and even Karkat wasn't interested in this kismesis or whatever because of John. Holy shit I'm just as bad as you are. Were."

Eridan let the insult slide, though he frowned a bit and gave Dave a sideways glance, "Wwell you can't wwin 'em all."

"I'd take winning one," Dave sighed, "Sorry I had to dump all that heavy shit on you. God when have we ever said more than a few words to each other?"

"Nevver," Eridan chuckled.

"Thanks," Dave turned back to the fire and the two sat silently for a long time.

Dave finally let out a big yawn and stood, "I better get some sleep if I'm gonna have to be here for a few days, need my beauty rest."

Eridan rose as Dave extended a hand and shook it firmly, "If you wwanna glub about feelins again, just say so."

"I'll do that," Dave smirked before releasing Eridan's hand and heading towards the temporary housing.

Eridan smiled as he watched the blonde disappear into the darkness before sitting and staring into the fire, curious thoughts playing through his head as he gazed into the flickering tongues of flame.