dedication: to partycannon and all my hamsteak followers over on tumblr. love youuuu.
notes: I've been thinking about this for a while. I have a notebook.
chapter title: turning saints into the sea
summary: Eridia Ampora is not prepared to be walking her moirail through the mess of bleeding gutterbeast entrails that is the beginning of the Second Rebellion. — genderbent hemo-flip; Eridan, Feferi, Vriska.
Eridia comes blowing into the shipwreck hive she and Fef have called home for sweeps, hollering for him like the world is about to fall down on them both. Her moirail is nowhere to be found—not on deck, not below deck, and the burning in her gut tells her that Fef is down below again, beneath the ocean waves. The sun's just beginning to rise, and Sisters, she's exhausted.
"Fef!" she screams out over the water. "Fef, where are you!?"
His head pops out of the water just below her, seven-sweeps-long horns first then dark hair then forehead, fuchsia eyes, and the rest of him. "Oh, oh, there you are! Glub! You were gone for nights and nights! Glub!"
"Get up here, brinesucker, yer gonne die when the sun comes up, an the daymares'll get you an I won't come out t'save you!" Eridia says, and hauls her silly moirail all the way up to deck. She pats his perfect face all over, nearly delirious with love for this silly troll boy. He smells of salt-rime and something more toxic, something clear and green, and she sighs aloud. "You've been talkin to the Sisters again, haven't you."
Fefear laughs and winds his arms around her. "One death, 'Dia. Just one, and we'll be glubbing at the top of the craptrap again!"
"Shore," Eridia deadpans. Fef loves the stupid fishpuns, and Eridia can't help herself. "I got news."
"Yeah?" says Fefear, almost absently. He's patting her down, too, searching her all over for any new cuts and bruises. As always, there are more than a few, but Eridia doesn't mind because it keeps Fefear safe.
Keeping Fefear safe is her top priority.
"The bluebloods want an uprisin, Fef," Eridia says softly. "They want a king."
Eridia sighs, long and slow, and clings to him. "They want you, love."
His face pulls into a frown or-something-like-it, and Eridia's whole being aches for him. He should never look like that—Fefear is never meant to look like that. She pats his cheeks again, keeps his face in her cupped hands, and she loves him, she loves him.
"Hey, hey, quit that, you're lookin sad, Fef!" she murmurs. Stolen gems catch alongside his mouth when he turns his face to kiss her palm and she sighs at him again. His blood'll be all over her rings, and she'll have to clean them, and it won't even be the first time.
Moron, she thinks, fond and worried and wondering if this is even close to the right thing. Fefear is—he's not always there. The ocean's pickled his brain, strung him out and made him unreal.
Eridia knows that because she's pulled him back from the edge so many times.
He can't live without her, she knows. It's okay, because she can't live without him, either. The sun's not peeking over the horizon, but already their hive is soaked in bloody golden light. For a minute, they stand there on the deck, perfectly close and perfectly content.
"C'mon, Dia," Fefear sings. The sound of it skitters over her scales. Fef's singing can wake the dead on a good night, and tonight's worse than usual. Eridia pats his face again. They've had seven sweeps to pull each other out of the mire that is. No one's died, yet, and they haven't drowned. Eridia doesn't even think Fef could drown, not even if he tried; he's too much a fish.
"About the uprisin, Fef—" Eridia starts.
The webbing at the base of his fingers is cool over her lips, and she huffs at him. He grins brightly and curls around her, the gentle press of the gill-flaps along his ribs sealed over as he breathes above water.
"We'll glub it out in the evening," he laughs into her shoulder. "We gotta sle—ep, miss grumpy-gills!"
Eridia runs the tips of her claws through his hair, and just shakes her head.
Glub about it in the morning… of course he would say that.
The pair of them slip inside, down through the cobbled-together hallways. The sea's salt has soldiered the walls together better than Eridia or Fefear ever could, and the stink of rust and ocean-breeze infect everything. The rime gets into all their clothes, but the water loves them, loves them both. The thin lime green of the sopor casts a curious sleep-drug over them as they slide through the entrance to Fefear's respite block. Eridia's gaze sweeps across the barrels bobbing in the corner sunk into the sea, and she herds Fef to his cocoon.
"Go t'sleep, shark-bait," Eridia shoves him gently in the general direction of the sopor, and waits until he's skimmed his clothes off and mostly submerged before she bops over to the edge of the cocoon and pats his face over and over again to reassure herself he's still real.
"Pale for you," he mumbles. His claws score along her cheek in the shape of a tiny diamond. Eridia thinks she would get it tattooed there if she could, but she's a vain girl, and the thought of that happening makes her want to shrink into nothingness.
"Pale for you," she croons back at him. She waits for his lashes to flutter, but they don't. He sort of just watches her like she's some incredible treasure, and Eridia knows that he's got it all wrong; he's the treasure, and she's just the sailor that stole it somewhere along the way.
(She's not very good at sharing, but then, who is?)
Eridia doesn't sleep if Fefear doesn't.
She waits and waits.
"Aren't ya gonna sleep, Fef?"
He hauls himself up and clucks at her. The suddenly he's tugging at her shirt, trying to skim it off and she thinks—oh, Fef, you're so impossible. The shirt's silk, the colour washed out to a pale lilac, and she loves it. Eridia is vain, really vain, so she figures she might as well take it off herself just so that he doesn't ruin it.
They don't really have the money to afford another one, and they both know it.
"You don't sleep enough, Dia," Fefear chuckles.
"And you do? Oi, quit it, yer gonna tear it!" Eridia complains, and she skitters out of his reach just long enough to carefully pull the shirt off over her head and fold it neatly against the far wall, where it wouldn't get wet. Her skirt went next, and the faded length of Fef-colour cloth she used to tie her hair back along with it left in a neat little pile.
He does pull her into the sopor, and it's, Sisters, it's so thin, she's going to have to get another barrel or three because this is almost as bad as sleeping cold is and she's not really in the mood. Fefear's dreams are worse when the sopor is like this, too.
"Hey, Fef," Eridia mumbles.
He makes a sleepy sound in reply.
"I won't let you get hurt," she says. "Promise."
She thinks she can hear him laughing in her ear, but then the sopor finally takes over, and the Lady of Light and Rain tempts her into oblivion.
The evening comes all too soon.
Eridia's eyes are gummed closed with sopor, stuffed up her aural canals and she thinks she's a little dizzy with it. Fuckin sopor, if she's accidentally overdosed again, she's going to have a fit.
Fefear's up on deck. She can hear him wailing out at the water—Sisters, he's probably trying to sing up some supper. With his luck, they'll get a shark or something equally dangerous that'll chomp all up in their hive's space and it'll take half a season to get everything back to normal. This mansion wasn't built in a day, and Eridia has no desire to rebuild it yet again. She's no masochist.
(Well, not really, anyway; she doesn't have a kismesis or a matesprite. She just has Fef, and frankly, he's more than enough to keep her hands full. Eridia has neither the time nor the will to keep another happy. Things even out, anyway.)
She wipes the slick shine of sopor off, shivering away the cold salt air. She's naked as a wriggler, naked of pretense and fashion and lies and all the things she uses to keep herself standing on a good day.
The bruises splotch angry and violet along her sides. Her gill-flaps have gucked up with blood and Eridia tries to breathe through them, but the pain is pan-scrambling every time she does. She presses her fingers to them, and it hurts, it hurts, it hurts.
"Sisters," she murmurs. Everything inside is tight and pulsing with the daymares that dance behind her oculars, seared bright and colourful into her thinkpan. Eridia dunks her head in a barrel of seawater to unclog her aurals and wash the sopor out of her hair. The salt-rime stings in a good way.
And then she's tying her sopping hair back and wriggling into her shirt and her skirt. They're beautiful things, her shirt and her skirt, but…
Well, Eridia is vain. She wants a dress, but never brings it up.
They don't have the money.
Not right now, anyway.
And Eridia isn't about to bring Fef along with her to the Capitol just to have a dress. She's lasted this long—she can last another half-sweep. It won't kill her. She doesn't have long to wait, not now.
Fefear doesn't have long to wait, either.
Eridia takes the stairs two at a time, and bursts out into the early evening moonlight. She sucks in air through the sharp points of her teeth, and—
A cool body slams into hers, and Eridia finds herself swung up into her moirail's arms and having him rain kisses all over her face.
"Evenin to you, too, Fef," Eridia smiles into his throat.
His claws rake through her hair, and she can almost taste his excitement. "Today, Dia, today!"
"I know, I know!" she laughs, and holds his infinitely precious face in her hands. "Fef, about Vris…"
"I'll glub like a good li—ttl—e fish!" he bubbles. He is the picture of everything good in the world, and Eridia's heart aches a little, a single loud throb of snow-pale pity in the middle of her pusher-cavity. She traces the long hooked line of his nose, and when he kisses the tip of her finger, she nearly breaks into bright purple waterworks.
"Vris is—he's different. He don't… He's not…"
Fefear's laughter is like breaking glass. "Dia, Dia, you won't hear a pe—ep outta me!"
That's not what Eridia's worried about, but she's not going to say that. "Don't let 'im under yer scales, Fef," she sighs instead. "He's gonna try, 'cos that's what Vris does. He don't mean anyfin by it, but…"
He catches the trail of her words from the corner of her mouth and follows it down her throat. His hands are even colder than hers are, but the cold keeps her afloat.
Eridia's so pale for this boy she doesn't even know what to do with herself.
"Can we go?" Fef asks.
Eridia pats his cheek, indulgent. He is so predictable (and so impatient, but that is something else entirely). "Go dunk yer glutes in the ocean, Fef, an cool yer jets. We got time. Vris ain't 'spectin us 'til—"
He grabs her hands, bounces on the balls of his feet; he can't even hold his own excitement in, and that's just so Fef. He swoops down on her again and the soft cloud of his hair sends her into fits.
"Can't we go now?" he wheedles. In the moonlight, he's striking; he's all lit up silver and fuchsia, the long shadow of his horns twisting across his face like light through seawater. He looks like he can take on the world. She knows he can take on the world.
Fucker knows she can't deny him anything.
"Fine," she puffs out.
His claws chuck under her chin, and she almost vomits diamonds.
He's going to be the end of her.
"Pale for you," Fefear sings at her.
"Pale for you," Eridia smiles with her eyes and her mouth and her heart.
"Can we go now?"
"Mhmm," Eridia hums. "Let's get yer shit 'afore we go."
Fefear tips his head, and Eridia knows he probably doesn't even realize that he's not wearing hardly anything at all. Fef doesn't feel the cold the way the rest of the world does; coldblood idiot.
"Pants, Fef," Eridia says, and he chuckles.
"O'course, Dia," he says, and points to where his clothes wave like dark flags on a line out over the water. He has the right of it, of course—seadweller all in the dark, he thinks it'd be best to blend in. Safest, that way.
Eridia's pride would never let her even think about it.
She wears her washed-out silks and her rings and her necklaces; she keeps her hip popped out so that when she walks, she sashays, and the shucking dagger she wears strapped to her thigh is visible through the press of fabric against skin. And with her vestigial gills open and flared bright fucking purple, she's a Sister-be-damned target.
She'd be a target anyway, but at least this way, the world hesitates a moment before it tries to take its due from her.
"C'mon, barnacle-brain, don't you wanna meet Vris?" Eridia asks him, mouth curling up at the edges.
He makes a whooping sound and bounces off, excited again. Eridia watches him go, and she only shakes her head fondly.
Her thoughts turn to Vriska.
Blueblood thug that he is, he's stupidly infuriating. But sometimes he makes her laugh, and it's okay between them. Eridia wouldn't quite say she cares about him—well, that's not right, either, because she does care about him. It's more like she doesn't have the words to explain quite how annoyed he makes her, and how much she just wants to shake him, sometimes.
It's not pitch, not yet, but Eridia thinks grimly that it might just go that way if she's not careful.
Vriska would rip her limb from limb, and while the burn would be a lovely, cleansing thing, there would be no one to take care of Fefear. There'd be no one to keep him bright and beautiful and clean. There'd be no one to keep him from going feral.
The thought of Fefear going feral makes Eridia want to up chuck.
(She can see it in the back of her mind. Fefear, Sister-green froth dripping from his mouth with his lips pulled away from his teeth as he hisses at her. All his bones creak and his claws aim for her blood-pusher. He rips it out from her chest-cavity and she watches without comment as he eats her, entire. There's never any pain, and all she wants is to apologize for letting him get this way. I'm sorry, Fef, she gurgles in the dream. I'm sorry.)
But then her beloved moirail there in front of her, and Eridia clings to him to remind herself that he's not feral, he's not gone, and she's got him in her hands. She watches the concern wash over him.
It's very rare that he uses her full name.
"It's okay, Fef," she mumbles, and tucks her face into the crook of his shoulder.
His arms come around her, and he sings something nonsense and off-key as he runs his claws through her hair. It's funny, because he still knows her better than anyone else on all of Alternia, and she calms under his grip.
She keeps Fefear stable, and he keeps her from losing her marbles to the gutters and the swill that leaks from the Capitol's ass-end into the ocean. Eridia looks up at him. The fuchsia flush across his gills is so familiar and so dear that she just has to pat his face to remind herself that he's quite real.
"Let's get outta here, yeah?"
Fef cackles. His grin is so bright, Eridia nearly has to look away.
"I'll krill th—em if they lookit us wrong, Dia," he breathes. "They won't hurt you, they won't!"
"Don't worry, Fef," Eridia says, and she loops her arm through his as they walk. Her little tugboat bobs in the water, and fuck if she's not bled and fought and scrabbled to make that little thing sea-tight. It's warm in the moonlight, and the salt doesn't get into the controls even on the worst nights.
"Go on, get, I need t'check somefin," Eridia says. She turns towards the lines painted along the hull, and pretends not to see the sheer glee on Fefear's face as he sails over the railings and straight into the captain's seat.
Of course he would, that ridiculous fish.
Eridia runs her claws over the propeller—there's a little rust, but the whole shit thing is rust, so she's not so worried. Fef knows not to pry with the controls, so she's not worried about that, either. The tanks are leaking a little, but then, when aren't they leaking a little?
The old girl'll get them to Vris, and that's what matters.
The ocean is calm, this early in the night. All done up in pastel shades of green and blue and purple, it is a reflection of the sky. The stars are out tonight, bright little sparks scattered across the atmosphere, and Eridia doesn't even wonder if she's ever going to see them up close.
Fefear won't get the chance, probably.
Eridia won't go anywhere without Fefear, so she probably won't, either.
They bob in the ocean, and Eridia guns the engine.
"You wanna see the mainland, Fef? We can take a detour, but you gotta go topside."
His head snaps around so fast she's afraid he's broken something important, and he nods fast and jerky. Eridia grins and says "Go on, then."
He's agile as a climb-beast as he swings himself out the window with his trident at his side. Eridia thinks she should scold him for bringing it, but she won't, mostly because if she thinks about it too long, she'll have to admit that she's secretly glad he did.
The ocean passes away beneath them.
They puff past the docks. Eridia doesn't need to look to know that Fefear is leaning far out past the observation deck's railing, leaning into the wind to reach towards the Capitol. She's scared that one day he's going to go with or without her, and then she'll lose him for good.
The blueblood haulers wolf-whistle at her boat, and Eridia rolls her eyes towards the sky. Those morons don't know what's gonna hit 'em—she brings Fefear to the Capitol, and she'd watch that city burn. She wouldn't even have to ask him, he'd just do it.
Vriska's rebellion better be worth all the shit they're going through, Eridia thinks grimly.
"Oi, Fef, geddown, we gotta go 'round the bend an s'always dangerous 'round there," she calls up to him. She doesn't even know if he hears her, because he's still staring at the docks behind them with a ferocious kind of hunger.
The pang of guilt is not unexpected, but Eridia can't let him die.
"Get down, fish-boy! Those monsters on the dock'll eat you alive, an you won't stand a chance," she calls again, and this seems to shake him of the trance. He slithers back down to her. He is tall and proud and Eridia sees a blasphemous king when she looks at him.
She loves him desperately.
And she will kill, rip, and tear to put him where he belongs if it will keep him alive. Eridia swears to all the Sisters—to all the Ladies, to even the Incoherent Sister—that she will end Alternia if it keeps Fefear alive and breathing and annoying the ever-living shit out of her.
Eridia has never been part of a rebellion.
But she will be part of one for her moirail.
Eridia's knuckles have gone a grey so pale as to be nearly white around the helm for lack of blood circulation, and she loosens her grip with practised ease. Her claws have dug into the already-chipped wood. She works them loose slowly, so that Fef doesn't notice.
She doesn't need him worrying about her, not with Vriska's hive on the horizon.
Fef's hand curls around her shoulder. It is the most comforting thing Eridia has ever had the pleasure to experience. She leans against him for a minute, lets herself be weak, and then she's all shark-teeth and steel again. She doesn't have time to be fishbellies and seafoam pale when she has a spider at her tail.
(Who is she kidding, she always has time to be seafoam-pale when it comes to Fefear.)
She touches his hand for a split-second, and then she's pulling into one of the berths, and pulling the plug on the gas. "Oi, crew-boy, c'mere and kelp me tide up!"
Fef snickers, and does as she asks.
Together, they tie up the little tugboat. Eridia's hands are quick and efficient, but Fef is faster and he does his knots all wrong just to irk her. But mostly it ends in the both of them giggling into each other's shoulders like three-sweeps-old wrigglers with too much time on their hands.
Eridia doesn't know how much more time they'll have like this.
She knows that once they're in the thick of it, she and Fef might not get the privacy they've become so accustomed to. She'll take what she can get, and hope that he doesn't spill over into her other quadrants.
She does hate to share.
But not so much that she'll keep him from meeting Vris. Who knows, it might just quench his thirst for the outside world, and they could stop having that argument.
(Eridia doesn't believe it for a second.)
They walk hand-in-hand to the castle-hive that Vriska's built for himself and his spider-mother, all hollowed-out long lines and endless high towers. Eridia would be impressed if she weren't so bored.
Fef is disgustingly excited, but she can't really blame him.
"Fef, listen to me—"
Another voice cuts her off before she manages to get anything out at all.
"Well, fuck me, look who showed!"
Vriska is long-legged death, a wild roll of tongue and teeth with matted hair everywhere, mouth wet and vibrant blue. He lopes down towards them, and Eridia can feel how tense Fef goes. She wants to pat him all over to reassure him that nothing is going to happen, but she can already feel the stretch underneath his skin when Vriska is beginning to get close.
She's just about to wrap her arms around him, when Vriska tumbles into her and scoops her up. He's laughing, all spider-fingers that send stupidly familiar shivers up her spine.
Eridia's not even fussed.
"Oi, ugly, lemme down," she says, and knocks a half-hearted fist into his stomach. Vriska sets her down and bends down to nip at her ear, and if this wasn't him, she'd say that this was way too red for her liking. But this is just kind of how Vriska is, with everyone—asshole plays grab-ass for the sake of grab-ass.
Also, she's pretty sure he's taking an obscene amount of enjoyment out of how stiff Fefear's gone.
Vris notices things like that.
Eridia bats him away.
"Vris, this is—" she starts, and she only gets those three words out before Fef is on Vriska, standing toe-to-toe and nose-to-nose and snarling.
"Fef, Fef, what're you doing—?!" Eridia panics, and pulls him away. He's raging under her hands, spitting and manic and Sisters, did he finally—what happened?
Vris is chuckling, eight pupils trained on Fef twisting underneath her claws.
"Well, well, you're the fish everyone talks about. Interesting," Vris says, and sneers down through his glasses at Fef. It only sends Fef further into his fit, and Eridia wants to lay them both out for being so stupid.
"Now is not the time for kismesis-kisses," she hisses through her teeth at Vriska, and shooshes Fef as well as she can. Her hands on his face bring him back slow, and he stills as she strokes away his rage.
Eridia shoots him the most scathing look she can manage on such short notice. It does not make him wither. She curses him in every language she knows and in several she doesn't, and makes up the swear words as she goes along. If only the docklings could hear her; she thinks they would be impressed.
Fef blinks up at her.
"Sor—ry, Dia," he mumbles.
She clutches at him, presses down as close as she can. She doesn't even care if it's obscene, god, she could fill a pale-porn mag with her and Fef alone (not that she ever would), and she doesn't care that Vris is watching.
"It's okay, it's okay, Fef. C'mon, up you get, sun's not gonna wait," she murmurs gently. They stand together, and they both look at Vris. Fef's straining for a fight, trying to reach out and sink his teeth into the soft flesh at Vriska's throat and tear him to pieces.
Vriska's grin is all teeth.
"You'll do," he says. "You'll do."
notes2: why is writing hamsteak so hard