Yowza, guys. I want to say super sorry for not updating this, and also for giving more bad news: I cannot think of what to do in this story. Like, at all. But I felt really bad about just never finishing it, so I made this embarrassing slap-dash chapter to wrap things up, and it makes me cry inside. But it's something, right? And I swear that if I can make up something better I'll edit this puppy, but I didn't want to leave you hanging. So, uh, try to enjoy and not pelt me with flames? Danke, gracias, and all that jazz.
"Gamzee…" Tavros says. He doesn't know why he says it; he has no idea what he should be asking in this situation. He just knows that he almost died, and Gamzee kissed him, and now he's crying and Tavros has never seen the man cry before and it's really sort of terrifying. "Gamzee."
"Don't." The troll murmurs against his skin. "Please, just… don't." He sounds so tired, his voice wet and rough.
Don't what, Tavros wants to ask, but refrains because that's the sort of question that can get you into trouble.
"Okay." He offers meekly, deciding to not do anything at all just to be safe.
"Just stay like this for a while. Just like this." Gamzee sighs. Tavros nods, more animatedly than absolutely necessary. Gamzee's bed is extraordinarily comfortable, and while the highblood is bony, he's also a comforting weight on Tavros's chest. Not a heavy one, which makes Tavros worry that the troll hasn't been eating properly, but a comforting one nonetheless.
The only real downside here is that Tavros's lip and throat hurt, and Gamzee is crying, but the latter issue seems to be abating. A lack of tears does not, however, indicate Tavros's freedom; Gamzee's arms have returned to their vice-like state on Tavros's torso and show no signs of letting go. He's not as worried as he could be.
He'll worry about Eridan, and Gamzee's tears, and the kiss, and everything else when the sun is up.
For now, the bed is so very comfy, and maybe with a good night's rest he'll awake to a sharper… mind…
He awakes instead to a rather sharp knife pressing into his neck.
"Wakey wakey, little lowblood."
Tavros very carefully does not move anything but his eyes. Eridan is standing next to the bed, smiling down at him. One hand is holding the knife with a steady grip, but the other is being used to wave cheerfully at him. His bandages are nearly bled through, stark reminders of Gamzee's attack.
He shifts his eyes to the right and sees luminous violet eyes staring unblinkingly at where the metal of the knife point meets the dusky skin of Tavros's throat. Gamzee's face is curiously blank of expression.
"Sorry to interrupt your regularly scheduled nocturnal activities, but I have got a insurgency to orchestrate and none of us are getting any younger. Deader, maybe." He chuckles at his own joke and jiggles the knife just a sliver. A low rumble erupts from Gamzee, but he still doesn't take his eyes from the blade or move.
Eridan grins at him. "You know, I was actually a bit concerned about you. I mean, you're great when you need to get a murder done, but you do tend to be a bit… capricious. Hard to control. I was a wee bit perplexed as to why you were so eager to see me on the throne, because I know our interactions have been, ah, tense in the past. But then I see this little treat, and that wasn't why you helped at all, was it? You didn't want to see me succeed, you just wanted Queen Feferi dead."
Tavros's eyes snap to Gamzee at this insane accusation, but the highblood's only reaction is just a slight narrowing of his eyes and set to his jaw. No shock, no denial, nothing.
His Gamzee had tried to kill that sweet, bubbly troll girl.
He can't help the slight wounded sound that escapes his throat at the thought. Gamzee's eyes finally move, snapping to his and there's something wary there, almost scared but also anticipatory, like he can see where this is going and he isn't particularly looking forward to the journey.
Eridan lets out a sharp laugh. "I owe you an apology, scumblood. I admit I thought that you were in on the plot, and that's why your master was so eager to jump to your defense. But you don't have a clue, do you? Poor dumb slave." He leans in and coos directly in Tavros's face, patting at it with his free hand. He flinches away from the words and the cold touch. "Tell me, would you like to know why your master attempted to assassinate the ruler of the High Court of Alternia? It's a real rib-tickler."
Gamzee lurches forward, but a nonchalant flick of Eridan's wrist stills him from moving any closer. Eridan moves his sharp smile to Gamzee.
"Oh come now, your pet at least deserves to know what he's dying for." Tavros does not like the sound of that. Eridan turns back to Tavros, smiling in a patronizing way. "The real reason that he wants her dead and gone? The reason that he snuck that iocane into her goblet at the feast?" Eridan leans in until Tavros can see his own terrified eyes staring back at him in the reflection of Eridan's manic eyes.
"She was going to set you free."
For a moment, Tavros thinks he's already been stabbed. He can't breathe, and the lightning pain in his chest can only be the feeling of his lifeblood leaving him. Then he hears the shaky inhale of Gamzee from beside him.
"You motherfucking bastard."
Eridan snorts. "Seriously? This coming from a troll that attempted to murder the monarch that he swore fealty to in order to make certain that his little puppy wouldn't slip his leash? And they say I'm cold." He gives the numb Tavros an appraising glance. "I don't get why you're so taken with him. He's easy enough on the eyes, I suppose, but he's hardly the sharpest sword in the armory, is he? He must be fantastic in bed."
"I am going to rip your motherfucking tongue out."
"Over his dead body, I'm afraid, although feel free to try anyway. On that note, stand up please." Eridan says easily. When Gamzee doesn't move, Eridan presses the knife a little harder in. Tavros feels it prick through the skin, and the warm trickle of blood welling around the new wound.
Gamzee stands up.
"Oh, since we're airing all our dirty laundry here—ah, up you get too—" He motions to Tavros. The young troll shivers, but moves slowly and carefully into a standing position, the knife an oppressive weight on his neck that his collar had never matched. They are near the window now, far enough away that Gamzee couldn't reach them before…. Before. The cool breeze soothes the burn of his cuts, even as Eridan's icy arm snakes around his waist to keep him from sudden movement and makes him shiver. "I am quite interested to know why you tried to poison me in addition to the queen. You know I'd have let you keep your little toy."
Gamzee grins, dark with promise. "I REALLY don't like you."
"The feeling's mutual, I assure you. But you probably guessed that from the reciprocal poison. And I thought Karkat had screwed it up again; wrong slave, I suppose, but then they do all look the same to me." He pauses. "I suppose it's a good thing that your puppy sniffed out the poison, considering the mutual double-cross. I should thank him for saving my life."
But Eridan just smiles. "No, no. I like this. I was planning to just kill you and frame the brat, then off him too. Of course, in light of this horrific deed at the hands of a lowblood, as well as the recent death of Her Imperial Condescension—also you, Tavros dear-the political climate would be much too shaky to shift the hemospectrum laws." He shrugs. "Rudimentary, but why waste talent when no one's going to appreciate it? But you know, maybe the boy survives—quite mad, of course, to have killed two of his betters in cold blood, but the poor dear doesn't know what he's doing—and I, out of the goodness of my heart, take the lost soul in. What do you say, Tavros?"
Tavros can't really say anything, with the pointy bit of a deadly weapon pressing in on his windpipe. Eridan seems to notice this, because he chuckles but does not move the weight.
"Silence as agreement and all that rot. I think we'll have a lot of fun together." He grins at Tavros before turning to Gamzee. "So, I was giving this a lot of thought. First I thought I'd just kill you myself, but then I realized, why hog all the fun. So I think I'll let you slit your own throat."
Tavros gasps, his body jerking in an aborted movement to do something to help. Gamzee is still looking at him, and he tries to do his best to make his eyes say 'Don't you dare, we'll figure this out, but don't you dare'.
Gamzee calmly picks up one of his many juggling knives from the table and holds it up to his throat. Tavros whimpers again, daring in his desperation to shake his head just a little, widening the line of umber welling on his throat.
"Let's not be hasty now!" Eridan laughs. "I still have some scores to settle. Four scores, to be exact, for marring my beautiful face." His face twists into an ugly mockery of amusement. "Of course, I'll be fair; the throat slitting will count as one, so you only have three more to go." When Gamzee makes no move, Eridan says lowly, "Anytime now."
"Why would I want to do that?" Gamzee says slowly. "You'll try to kill me anyway." The way he says 'try' is enough to buoy Tavros's heart. Maybe he has a plan?
Eridan snorts. "Primarily because if you don't, I'm more than willing to cut your pet instead. I said it would be fun to keep him, but it's hardly necessary."
Tavros does not doubt this. Apparently neither does Gamzee, because he moves the knife before Tavros can react. For a moment he thinks that he's going to throw it at Eridan, and Eridan must too, because the knife bites hard into his throat for a moment before the first drop of lavender hits the carpet. It only took a second; Gamzee is truly a master of the blade. Three long thin slices run across his face in a mirror of Eridan's own, oozing purple blood.
It takes Tavros a moment to realize that the source of the high, hurt keening is himself. Gamzee smiles at him, soft and sweet like they're still lying in bed together, even as he raises the knife back to his neck. There's so much blood…
"It's alright, Tavros. You'll be alright."
I won't. He wants to scream. I won't. He'll kill you and then nothing will ever be alright again.
He finds that he doesn't care what happens to him. If Gamzee's gone, what does it matter? Without his horrible jokes and honking laughter, Tavros doesn't think he'd last long anyway.
"Okay, enough. Say goodbye to your old master, Tavros." The trident lets up just enough for him to speak, finally.
It hits Tavros suddenly, that if anyone is going to do something to stop this, it's going to have to be him. Eridan's too busy being psychotic, and Gamzee won't move as long as Tavros is in danger. The legendary warrior of the trolls, and he's willing to sacrifice himself so that Tavros will live. It hurts.
Tavros has never been brave. He doesn't think he is now, either. For Tavros, action has always been driven on necessity. He cannot let Gamzee die.
The cool breeze ruffles his hair as if encouraging him, the way that Gamzee does sometimes.
He swallows, careful and slow, and smiles back at Gamzee as bravely as he can. Gamzee's eyes widen, as though he can tell what's going to happen. The older troll always could read Tavros like a picture book.
And then he pushes back as hard as he can, away from the knife, and sends both Eridan and himself toppling out the window.
For a moment he's scared. It's been so long and he's afraid it won't work and he needs to live for Gamzee and then the amber wings are exploding from his back and everything stops. He hears the crack as Eridan hits the ground, but does not dare look down. He's still a bit scared of heights, to be honest.
He settles in air, flapping his wings experimentally in order to gain equilibrium, and then he looks up. Gamzee is standing in the sill of the window and staring at him with something like awe in his eyes.
Tavros smiles up at him bashfully, and Gamzee smiles, slowly, back.
Tavros finds Gamzee in the gardens, sitting on the old stone and wood bench that they'd shared before. His wounds are much better tended than Eridan's had been, sown neatly shut with stitches. Kanaya still hadn't held out much hope that they wouldn't scar, but she did say that she was going to do her best.
The troll doesn't look up as Tavros sits beside him.
"She freed you then?" He asks. Tavros looks at where Gamzee's earrings are clenched in his hand.
"F-Feferi?" The queen had insisted that Tavros call her by her given name, which was still a little awkward. "S-She, uh, said that I was, um, 'God Tier'." He says meekly. He is still getting used to the idea. He knew that most trolls didn't have wings, but he'd always just thought that his wings were another thing that made him a freak rather than something to be proud of. And now he discovers that having wings is a sign of honor and privilege that supersedes even the hemospectrum. Which of course no one bothered to tell him until now. "God Tier trolls can't be, uh, slaves. Apparently." Which would have been nice to know a bit sooner, if he's being blunt.
Gamzee flinches minutely. "Of course." He still isn't looking at Tavros. "When do you leave?"
Tavros blinks at him owlishly. "Leave? I wasn't, uh, planning to, that is, unless you want—"
"No!" Gamzee's whole body lurches into the motion that he aborts at the last second, his hand hovering awkwardly over Tavros's arm before dropping listlessly between them on the bench. At least now his eyes turned towards Tavros's own, although he still seems to be having trouble meeting them. "I just thought that those royal fishfuckers would snap you up. It's not every day that you find a troll on motherfucking God Tier." The way he says it, with such bitterness, makes Tavros feel as though he has swallowed something sour himself.
"They, ah, asked." He allows softly. It is true. Queen Feferi had offered him a permanent home in one of the pressurized estates of her homeland, and had been quite put-out at his refusals. "I said no."
Gamzee relaxes, just a little. He's still not meeting Tavros's eyes. "Why?"
Tavros thinks for a moment, because this is an important conversation, he thinks, and he doesn't want to trip over his tongue like he usually does.
"I'm f-free. I think, um, that I'd like to do what makes me happy, for a little bit at least, which sounds completely selfish, I suppose."
"I think I understand the feeling." Gamzee says lowly. Well, yes, he would, Tavros supposes. Better to gloss over that detail. It was awkward enough taking tea with a girl that had been the focus of not one but two assassinations attempts at the same meal from two men being completely selfish. As though he can sense where Tavros's thoughts are headed, Gamzee adds softly, "I just wanted you to stay, Tavros."
This conversation is getting rather awkward. Tavros is a bit unsure how to respond to that. Yes, Gamzee was willing to kill a perfectly nice troll in order to keep Tavros enslaved and near him, which is horrific on so many levels, but he also was, well, willing to kill a perfectly nice troll in order to keep Tavros enslaved and near him. Which is sort of sweet, in an extremely twisted and sort of scary way. Tavros has learned that when it comes to Gamzee, twisted and scary is about the only way that the sweetness comes. He's never minded, really.
"R-Right. Well, I was thinking, about what makes me happy. And well, I am still very u-upset with you—" understatement of the year, but not nearly as upset as he thinks he should be, "—but even so, I still think that, um. Well. I'm happiest when I'm with you." He finishes firmly, because that hasn't changed, even now.
Gamzee is meeting his gaze now, eyes wide. His dark tongue darts out to lick his lips absently, and Tavros finds his train of thought derailed for a moment as he marks its progress.
"U-um. Yes. So. Even with the k-k-kiss and the iocane and all of the secrets, I'm still happiest when I'm with you. And I don't really, um, see that changing any time soon, to be honest, because you're funny and sweet when you want to be and an amazing juggler and you make me feel like I'm flying even when I'm not and—"
He stops again, but this time only because there is once again a very insistent mouth pressing against his own and stoppering any words, yet again without permission.
Before Tavros can process this change of events, Gamzee pulls back, smiling at him and… licking his lips again, dear gog that is distracting.
"Um. So, um, two k-kisses and iocane and secrets, now." He says shakily. "A-And you should know right now that, uh, I'm not going to be staying as your slave, so, um, if that's what you're thinking you should just, uhhhh, stop thinking it, I suppose."
Gamzee is still smiling; if anything, his smiles widens. "Oh? So what you planning to stay as?" He leans in very close and makes it very hard to think.
"W-Well, uh, Feferi said that I could stay as an ambassador of her court, to, uh, oversee relations, if I wanted. Officially. But, ah, unofficially I was hoping that I could stay as, um, a friend? Maybe?"
Gamzee's answer is another peck on the lips, light as a butterfly.
"Uhhhhh…" Tavros says when he pulls back, blushing madly. "Is that going to be happening a lot?" He asks uncertainly. "Because I don't think that friends usually do that."
Gamzee grins sharply at him. "I never said I wanted to be just your friend, Tavros."
"O-Oh." He thinks about that for a moment. "Okay."
They still have a lot to talk about, the kisses not the least of them, but for now…
He reaches up and carefully threads the earrings back through his ears. Their familiar weight settles against his skin, and he sighs. Feferi had told him that earrings weren't acceptable or functional as slave markers. Her exact words were, in fact: "They look more like something that a lord would give his lady love-Oh! Tavros, what a remarkable shade of bronze!" He should probably ask Gamzee about that, when the thought doesn't make him blush so much. Gamzee watches him with dark, solemn eyes, a question clear in them.
Tavros smiles, shrugging.
"Someone very d-dear to me told me once that they suit me."
This time when Gamzee kisses him, Tavros kisses back.
Author's Final Notes: Hi, just thought if anyone actually reads this that I'd try to clear up the muddy plot line. So basically, Gamzee really likes Tavros (big surprise) and thinks that the only way that Tavros would stay with him is if he's a slave and can't leave, so he wants to kill the queen who is all for freeing the slaves in order to make sure Tavros can't leave (Hey, we are talking 24/7 Sober!Gamzee here. He's a wee bit psycho, but we love him anyways). Eridan wants to kill the queen because he's an elitist power-hungry dick (sorry Eridan, and I sort of do love you, but I needed a baddie). So, they put poison in her goblet, then double-crossed each other and tried to kill the other one, leading to poison being in every goblet (poor KK/Karkat, who was stuck being Eridan's unwilling henchman and had to put the poison in Gamzee and Feferi's Faygo, and who so totally earned his freedom in this fic). Anyhoo, so Gamzee's got some groveling to do for Tavros, but at least he didn't actually kill the queen, and since Eridan's dead they can just blame the whole thing on him (I am a horrible person, yes). The God Tier thing is shaky at best, but I really wanted Tavros to show off his pretty pretty wings, and the idea that the trolls would be like "Oh hey, you're basically a god, huh? Cool. Go make me a sandwich, slave" is... is... I mean, come on, they're not THAT dumb, right? Probably. Maybe. Whatever, Feferi's going to free the slaves Gangnam Style any second now, so we good, we good. And since Tavros is free, they can be on equal footing if Gamzee succeeds in his creepy, creepy wooing. We'll see how that goes. Um, sorry for this immensely awkward author's note, but since most people don't read them anyway, my street cred is safe. Oh, and sorry for scarring your pretty face, Gamz, but you did try to kill the queen and you do get a messed-up face in canon, so I don't feel too bad. Scars are sexy, just ask Tavros! Thanks for reading!