In which a young authoress decides it would be a fabulous idea to delve into the pairing of Vriska and Dave, because when she prompted a friend for a character to ship with Dave, said friend listed their favorite troll.

So yeah. Here you go. Highschool AU and a pairing that is actually sort of fun to write. Also, I can't rap nor can I write raps... but I tried.

Homestuck and characters belong to Andrew Hussie.

You are a swordmaster, the blade is an extension of your arm, and the strokes you perform relate exactly to the sparring you and she have on a daily basis. So in a lot of ways, your relationship to Vriska Serket can be accurately depicted by how you wield your katana. In fact, the resemblance is almost uncanny in how easily you can connect one event to one stroke of the blade.

A most elementary move, the thrust: glide one foot just barely ahead, coil your arms, tense your legs, lean down some. Then move, fluidly, smoothly, let your arms flow forward, keep the sword straight, maintain balance, keep low. The sword lunges forward, bites into the foe like a snake, you pull back and shift into a defensive position. And of course, all of this occurs in but a few seconds.

It is a basic move, easily dodged and easily done; yet you know it is important to the entire structure of sword technique and is a move that must be mastered. In order to be any good with a blade in your hands, you must know this move so well you could do it in your sleep. That's the reason you go through the motions, over and over, alone and unwatched, feeling the sword's hilt in your palm, driving the edge towards an enemy who is not there.

It is the foundation for something great, and if it's weak, you will only rise so far before you fall, with a spectacular explosion of fireworks and failure, one hand reaching out for the faraway star of success. And that got a little flowery there, but hey, you're a rapper, you wax poetry all the fucking time so suck it.

Sophomore year, high school, early September. You're sprinting, and meeting her is entirely on accident.

You're running not somewhere but away from someone, even though you can't remember what exactly you did to piss the group off. You can feel the sweat on your palms, the hilt of your katana threatening to slip from your slim fingers, and register the pain with a faint hiss through gritted teeth as you force your legs to increase their already-speedy pace to a sprint. The worn-down buildings of your neighborhood fly by in fifty different shades of gray, old and repetitive, the single-note pattern only broken by the occasional alleyway leading to darkness and then to more of their kind.

You turn the corner into one of the dark alleys, splash through the suspiciously dark liquid located on the cracked stone beneath your feet (well, these shoes were old, anyway), burst into the next street of monotony, and hide behind the first thing you see – in this case, an unassuming square hotdog stand on wheels. You hold your breath, cross your fingers, press your back against the warm metal, and breathe a sigh of relief when the shouting, shadowy figures run past your spot, and you're rising slowly to a stand when her voice stops you.

"I understand you were running from some thugs, but please, you could have the decency not to look up my skirt." Amusement, irritation, resentment, mirth, all tied into one giant bouquet and dropped into your lap like a late Christmas present.

Your mind ceases function for half a second, unsure of how to react. Then you process the words that were spoken, and the response is automatic: you flush-pink-push-your-shades-higher-up-on-your-nose -jump-guiltily-to-your-feet, one smooth and fluid motion, and are already beginning to stammer an apology as you step back more than a few paces before you realize something.

Her razor-sharp grin widens when you mutter with a slump of your shoulders and a long, breezy sigh, "You're wearing jeans." If it is possible, the healthy blush on your cheeks – both from running and initial embarrassment – deepens to a color that could possibly be compared to the crimson of a rose.

"Correct," she crows, throwing back her ebony mane of hair over her shoulder with a practiced hand motion, laughing, cocking one hip and letting a prosthetic hand rest there. The pose and husky voice summarize her personality so very well; she is dangerous, crafty, cunning, sly, sneaky, and you could go on. But somewhere under that, you sense like a goddamn Jedi that she is caring and is a good person, given the chance that someone digs down deep enough.

You know this, because you like to think that portfolio fits Dave Strider as well.

So you warrant her a small smile and tell her with almost wistful honesty, because you'd never managed a trick like that, "You got me good."

"You bet the fuck I did." She sounds so utterly pleased with herself you can't help but snort, which she dutifully ignores. She reminds you of a crow, with her throaty voice and smug attitude and a position like fuck yeah, I got the world at my feet. You like a girl with confidence. It's kind of sad to think you lay the foundation of your friendship on her appearance, like she's some sort of sex object or something, rather than her sass and wit. (Thinking back, you feel guilty about it.)

"You're pretty good-looking," she tells you, with a gleam in her blue eyes. You have no time to respond to such common praise because you got bitches at your feet (not), because she then asks without warning, "What's your name?"

"Correct me if I'm wrong," you respond smoothly, one eyebrow quirked, hands in the pocket, "but I think it's written in the etiquette books that you don't ask people their first name the first fucking second you meet 'em."

She laughs again, crossing her arms, and you note the prosthetic left limb once again – not just her hand, but her entire arm. The grin on her face widens slightly as she says offhandedly, "Not bad. Seems like you got brains behind those ridiculous aviators of yours." You debate whether to take offense and decide not to; not worth the effort, plus she did have a point, as most coolkids who tried to be cool were not and in addition were dumber than shit. She leans forward on the stand, under the fake red-and-yellow umbrella, and grins at you, shark-like and toothy, and prompts you once again, "Name?"

"Dave Strider," you allow after a pause, relenting, and then you say, "Yours?"

"Vriska Serket," she responds, and she offers her hand, not the prosthetic one. You shake it cautiously, fingers brushing the hilt of your sword and ready to whip into action at a moment's notice. The sadistic grin remains. "You'll probably see me in high school."

"Uh… cool." You really didn't need to know that. What if she actively seeks you out? What would you do? Besides freak out, except you never freak out, so what the fuck change of subject and done.

"So," she says, leaning on the stand. She talks as if she were talking about the weather when she says, "Care to tell me why a skinny-ass douche like yourself is being chased by a bunch of criminals?"

"It's a long story, tall-as-fuck bitch," you say, eyes narrowing behind your shades, when it isn't at all. Her lips twitch into a deeper frown at the last word you utter, and then some sort of sadistic light comes into her eyes and you know you're in trouble.

"And if you don't tell it to me, I'll just call them back," she says, flipping a phone out of her pocket. You give her a questioning look to see if she's serious, and she raises an eyebrow and pressed a single number with her thumb and welp looks like she is, so you fucking bolt the hell out of there. Her cackling laughter echoes after you as you slip down the alley and resume viewing the monotonous gray of endless buildings while you tear down the street.

(You reinforce that foundation when you subconsciously vow to find why she acts the way she does – and by that, you mean like the biggest bitch on the fucking planet.)

The vertical slice is as self-explanatory as it is simple do to – downward, that is. Keep your stance balanced, stay low, lift the arms, continue moving fluidly if you don't want to stay an easy target. Let gravity do some of the work and your muscles do the rest, push your arms down smoothly, keep your grip tight, allow the blade sink into the foe, pull up and back and jump a safe distance away to ensure your safety.

The upward slice is slightly more difficult, as you prefer to employ the use of a single-edged sword. To cut upward means to shift the hilt and blade in your palm so it faces the correct angle, and that takes precious time that you can usually not afford to waste. Nevertheless, once you have done the crucial flip, you proceed in very much the same way, minus the fact you now swing upward rather than towards the earth.

It is a simple attack that is graceful and powerful, and it is a skill that, much like the thrust, must be learned and mastered before you can proceed to more complex formations. This is because most find that it can be modified and changed to suit the swordmaster's desires, with more variations that any could possibly count. It is in this way that the vertical slice is a good staple to have the ability to fall back upon, as the angles of attacks that can be used are endless.

Sophomore year, high school, mid-March. You and her don't talk extensively, mostly when passing in the halls or during free time in classes you had together. Which admittedly is more often than you talk to your buds on Pesterchum, but they don't have to know that.

You're the only one who understands her, really, and she knows you're the only one who understands her, and somehow that is the undercurrent of your relationship: comprehension. You trust her with things you'd never dream of telling your best bro, John; you know some of her deepest fears and secrets. You both know you'll never tell, and it's a relief to get some things off of your chests.

But moments like those didn't come often. Most of the time, you're simply jabbering at each other, arguing, debating, dreaming, talking, chitchatting on the rare occasion. Complaining about teachers, moaning about assignments and projects, gossiping about students, on occasion beating up the bullies together because you and her are just badass like that, you know? It's a good time, and you appreciate her company.

But in general discussion with her, you've learned there are several ways to get amusing responses, and depending on her mood your angle of attack varies. When she is feeling particularly blue, for instance, you dial back the snark and bring out more sincerity and more transparent comments, so you don't worsen her demeanor. When she is feeling peppy, you go all-out on opaque, passive-aggressive jabs, and keep everything you say sarcastic, responding to each of her attacks with one of your own.

Those are the good days. They don't come very often, most likely because that's when people have the tendency to call her a bitch. It's like her nickname, and while she pretends she doesn't care, brushing it off like it's nothing, you know each muttered remark, each mocking laugh, each face-to-face confrontation hurts her to the bone.

It all comes back to the fact your entire friendship balances merely on how well you get each other. Neither of you can explain it. The only thing you two know is that no matter how you attack, no matter what you prod or jab and poke the other with, you'll always come back for more.

Excepting your online chums, you realize that Serket is your only real friend.

Blocking is a must in sword fighting, and from there you can go from blocking to parrying to redirecting. Blocking, parrying or redirecting a blow all depends on the opponent's position. It's suggested that you don't lock your elbows and you keep your stance relaxed, as if you are too tense, you will not be able to parry or redirect correctly, and blocking will be painful if the foe hits hard.

You like to think the best defense is a good offense, so you try to be the one who is attacking, forcing the other to defend themselves. Of course, there is always a time when you must block or return a stray attack, so you are always on your guard and have several blocking techniques in your arsenal.

Parrying is a skill you have honed, for the counterattack is what gains you the most damage. In most cases for you, while you enjoy being on the offense, you often find the best style for you is to constant redirect and then attack. Your leaner form lends you more speed than your Bro does naturally, except the asshole can flashstep so that advantage is lost; thus, your skill in parrying physically when he tries to flashstep to trip you up. It is also something you are highly talented in doing verbally, which is why no one ever argues with you.

Junior year, high school, late August. After not seeing her for the three months that is summer, your relationship is largely unchanged because Serket, as it turns out, will still argue with you. That was perhaps the one thing you missed about her the most.

When you see each other in your first class, she brings up something about whether you were rapping or selling stuff on iTunes during the summer; you'd done that to scrap in more money for you and Bro, even though the latter had insisted he had it under control. She then tells you you're terrible at rapping, in true Serket fashion, so it doesn't hurt too bad, and so just to prove her wrong you get some random student to tap a beat on their desk. Then you stand and show her who's the one in the know here, though you start simple.

"You can't beat a Strider, not when he's rappin',
Sorry to tell you but it simply don't happen,
We be the best when the we drop the bass,
Ain't somethin' that can be changed in haste."

The grin on her face promises you a world of trouble when you pause and give her a nod. She's accepted your challenge, and when she opens her mouth you are pleasantly surprised at her prowess, though it's still questionable at the same time.

"That's wishful thinking and you know, I beg to differ,
You're as bad a rapper as a virgin is a kisser,
'Cept that's not really accurate but who gives a shit,
All I can say is you're being stupid and a useless git."

You push your shades up the bridge of your nose, quirking one eyebrow. Time to parry her words.

"You're mistaken, miss Serket, very gravely so,
Rappin' is an art and skill, you gotta start slow,
Seems like I'm being stupid, sure, but you gotta understand,
I'm only gettin' started, and – " You flash her your signature smirk with the slightest shake of your head – "you don't stand no chance."

"Oh, I think I'm very much correct, mister Strider,
Girls like me can drop the beat and rap so much harder,
Let me just tell you your mind's as daft as your head's thick,
You stink at this, I rock at it, and this rap seriously sucks dick."

Whoa. She's actually really good at this, though she could of course use some practice. You don't know if this is her first time, but she continuously searches your face for approval so you think it is.

"I'm not saying girls can't rap, not at all,
It's just, really, miss Serket, they spend more time at the mall,
I sincerely doubt one of the girls here can match me,
Because none of them spend time actually rapping."

"That's sexist, mister Strider, and I wasn't talking about everyone,
I was talking about me, not the others – they can't do none,
Or at the very least I'm just trying to do my best,
Because you should know that this is like my first test!"

"Not bad, miss Serket, you're not doin' bad at all, considering,
In fact, you're doing pretty well for someone who's improvising,
But you still can't top a Strider, no matter how far the claws sink,
'Cause where you got talent we've got experience – and we fucking think."

"Why, mister Strider, I'm wounded you would suggest so,
That my brain can't even function – you should know best that that is low!
I'm not the best, maybe, but if there's one thing I know,
It's that you're not and yes, those are seeds of doubt I sow."

And now she's rhyming everything single line. You're going to have to amp this up a bit, and you intertwine your fingers and stretch them out in front of you before systematically cracking each knuckle. She's grinning at you, and there are students surrounding of you and one of them is now beatboxing (she's actually really fucking good at it – you make a mental note to remember Terezi Pyrope, you know her from middle school), and the teacher comes in two minutes so you'll have to make this quick.

You take a breath, and then you fly.

"Miss Serket, miss Serket, how often must I tell you,
Dave Strider is the best, and while you know patience is my virtue,
You're pushing your fucking luck, trying to get your shit through,
Because as much as you'd like to believe it, everyone knows it just ain't true."

She thinks you're going to pause and let her butt in, but you won't, not unless she forces you to. You rap right over her next words, redirecting the attention back to you, and the challenge glints in her eyes.

"I was going easy on you because I thought you would fall flat,
And I was right, because without me givin' you a pause you can't rap,
You're stuck sitting there unless you can intervene,
But you can't because I'm the best, trust me – that's what you've all seen.

"Keep your mouth shut, you ain't seen nothing yet,
I can rap about anything, but you, I'm afraid you really can't,
I've told you once that rapping is a fucking art,
And if you disrespect those who've mastered it, well,
You're in for a world of – "

Oh, shit, you don't even know what you were going for there – none of it rhymed, the rhythm itself is iffy at best, and now that last hesitation shows you really slipped up.

Serket, bless her, notices that tiny pause and she jumps right back in, grinning like a shark from ear to ear. She probably just saved you from eternal embarrassment – or you think she did, before the words flow out of her mouth and you groan and sit back down in defeat.

"Oh, it seems mister Strider has lost his groove!
The words ain't a-comin', he don't look too smooth,
Thought he could show me up? Bah, no one can,
I mean, look at that fucker, who's the best – not that man!"

And with that, the teacher walks in, sees the circle of students, and orders everyone to their seats. You and Vriska end up sitting next to each other.

"I win," she mouths at you, smirking in victory. You sigh and rest your chin on your hand. She wasn't going to forget this anytime soon, and you weren't either – because it was the first time you had ever failed to counterattack in a rap.

The side slash is a relatively simple move, but leaves you open and vulnerable if done improperly. You have to move fast in order for the attack to be anywhere near effective, and you find it ideal to use it in a string of attacks rather than by itself. It's also useful if it is done instantly after a successful block, parry or redirect, as the sword should already be facing the correct way.

As a move, it's rapid and quick when done correctly, and as mentioned earlier, it is most effective for you when done in rapid succession with other such attacks. It's also ideal when the opponent presents an opening, and can down a foe in a single slice.

That is to say, it can be lethal when done perfectly, but more often than not it serves more as an annoyance.

Junior year, high school, end of May. The two of you are chillin' in the lunchroom eating what could described very loosely as food, because it's way too hot to be anywhere near a proximity of a window, let alone the outdoors. AC, you've both decided, is the fucking best.

But then: "Look, he's sitting with the spiderbitch again," say a few of your fangirls in passing, and they giggle, and both of you simultaneously flip them the bird, at the same time. Both of you notice this at the same time, and proceed to fistbump while staring those bitches down when they shriek in protest, and you both turn back to face each other while lowering your hands at the same time.

After a few seconds of silence, in which you look at each other without a word, you burst out laughing and Vriska gasping, "Oh my god, that was so perfect, holy shit," and you're babbling, "Fuck, Serket, that was like telepathic," and then you both high-five and only calm down when people begin murmuring about your broken poker face. It happens more and more as you get older, because you've decided you don't give a fuck about people seeing your emotions sometimes.

Once you both calm down and are able to speak coherently, you notice a smile is still lingering on her face. Naturally, this is when you choose to ask her, "Why do they call you that?" because you are Dave Strider and you are blunt as fuck when you want to be.

"What, bitch?" She sighs wearily, the smile dropping off her face to be replaced by a scowl. "You already know that." You can tell she's lost her appetite; instead of mocking the alien mush called lunch food, she is stirring it around with her knife. You feel the vague need to throw up at the pungent stench that is released.

"No, not that. Spiderbitch." You feel terrible when she flinches at the word, but make no move to offer comfort or apologies. You know she understands, though, as she saw your eyebrows knit in concern, and she gives you a tiny smile before it disappears and she responds.

"When I was younger, I, um, had this obsession with spiders," she said, shrugging helplessly. You raise an eyebrow and she shakes her head; not a topic she wants to broach right now, maybe later during some other moment of puddles of feelings. She adds, "And in middle school, once everyone learned all the naughty words – well, you see what happens."

"And they still call you that?"

"Well, I still really like spiders." You blink, and spontaneously notice the spider web pattern on the shoulder of her black shirt and the black spiders painted on her blue fingernails. Well. That took you a while. "I'm surprised you haven't noticed."

You shrug. "Didn't seem important." Her face actually lights up when you say that – you've never seen a face light up, but if that wasn't what it looked like you didn't know what did.

"Thank you, Dave," she says earnestly, grabbing your hands and smiling, and you feel your heart flip at that, though it doesn't show on your face.

"Anything for you, friend, even if you're sometimes a bitch," you respond, only to twitch when that – fuck. That was the wrong thing to say. Oh, shit, that look on her face. Wow okay you messed up big-time, time to attempt to recover. "That wasn't what – "

"So you think so, too?"

She looks so sad. She looks like she just ran a marathon and got dead last. How the fuck did you ruin a moment like – you have to control your mouth, even because you're a rapper than shouldn't have – fuck – "Serket – "

"No, it's okay," she says, but the smile is forced, and guilt settles in your stomach, a ball of chilling ice and blazing fire. You sigh deeply, leaning your head heavily into one hand, and the two of you are silent for the remainder of the period.

You're going to have to make it up to her, and it's going to have to be pretty special, considering the extent of what you've said.

(The next day all is forgiven over the spider-shaped chocolates you'd managed to get your hands on via some incredibly good fortune and some threats over a counter.)

The feint is particularly effective against novices, and, even more importantly, it can be used to trip up even the most experienced of swordsmen. You know this well, considering you Bro most likely falls into that category.

Like many other techniques, the feint varies depending on the strokes and attacks the opponent is carrying out. It's normally used to get an opening that you can exploit to successful attack and incapacitate the enemy, but given the correct circumstances it's possible that a feint may in fact become an actual blow; a feint for a feint for an attack, if you will. (You realize that makes entirely no sense, but you don't give a fuck so screw it.)

Most often, however, you find a feint being not even a move of your blade, simply a movement of your weight. Shifting to your left, for example, is something the foe can read and readily block; but when you attack in the opposite direction, they aren't expecting it and your feint was successful.

Senior year, high school, mid-October. You're on the school roof, because it's study hall and your teacher doesn't give a single fuck about your whereabouts. It's the only place that can give you the impossible: isolation. Thus you find it's a good place to train, as the only way to get up is parkour and no one can do that except you.

Well, you and Vriska, because you taught her how once she caught you doing it one day.

She pulls herself up with the grace of a cat when you're in the middle of a meditation session of sorts. Your shades are shoved up into your blond hair, one foot is ahead of the other, knees slightly bent, your eyes are closed, your fingers are clasped loosely around the hilt of your blade. Your sword point is up and forward and still as stone, and you are breathing in, out, slowly, quietly. When you were younger this was hard on your arms – your sword tip kept dropping and Bro would nudge it back up, and it would visibly shake – but now it is as relaxing as it is simple.

She doesn't interrupt you, which you are thankful, and after a moment you breathe out, straighten and look over at her, a small smile on your face. "'Sup, Serket," you greet, slipping your sunglasses over your eyes before she can see them. She doesn't mention it, of course, instead meandering over and her own eyes tracing the katana in your hands before she reaches out with one of her own.

"Can I…?" Hesitation makes her husky voice waver.

You nod, flipping the sword so the blade was down and the hilt was up and toward her. "Your blade, m'lady," you say gravely, and she chuckles as she takes the sword from you.

She wasn't expecting the weight, it seems, and she gives it a few experimental waves before speaking. "Could you show me how you did that?"

"Did what?"

"That – thing before. When you were just standing there."

"Oh." What, that's it, that's all you say. Way to be stupid, Strider. You scold yourself as you step lightly over to her. "Sure. Hold the sword like this."

You'd like to say it was only her who was nervous when you grab and press her fingers into the correct position – that it was only her breath that hitched ever so slightly when you did so. But if you did, you would be lying, because you can smell her shampoo (blueberries) and a few strands of hair are tickling your face. You let go before you work yourself up into a clusterfuck of stuttering embarrassment, and your voice wavers ever so slightly as you say, "Okay. Spread your legs out – good. Don't hold the hilt so tight, it hates being molested – now close your eyes."

She does, and you step back, noticing a problem immediately. You reach out and carefully prod the sword's tip to the correct height. "Try to keep it there," you tell her, and she nods. "But keep your grip looser than that."

"Fuck off, it's my first time," she grumbles, but she listens and her fingers cease their white-knuckled hold. The sword point drops a centimeter, and you push it back up, ignoring the little scratch you get on your finger. You absently wipe the blood on your black jeans and, satisfied that she's keeping the correct position for now, move on to the next part.

"Okay. As a general disclaimer, yes, I know how cheesy this sounds, but just do it." You nudge the sword up a fraction of an inch again and shift to her, just behind her. She flinches slightly when you murmur quietly in her ear, "Now breathe with me. In…"

You inhale quietly; she matches you, listening, and exhales when you do, over and over. It's long and slow and steady, and while she's attempting to do that and hold the sword up and keep her stance balanced and her grip loose – well, it doesn't work so well. You keep having to prod the sword's point to the proper height while still maintaining the slow breathing pattern.

She looks like a fucking goddess, you're not gonna lie. Her face is pretty in a razor-sharp sort of way, with those high prominent cheekbone, her straight nose, and slim, perfectly arched eyebrows and thin lips. And her hair – god, you love her hair, and you play with it all the time nowadays when you're both chilling wherever and whenever, combing your fingers through it, your pale skin contrasting violently with the deep ebony, and it's smooth and silky and soft to the touch.

Yes, Vriska, the biggest bitch in the school, even when she's concentrating, biting her lip and breathing in carefully and constantly readjusting her grip when you push the sword point up, looks fucking amazing. And right as you think that you realize that wow, that was extremely flowery. Maybe Rose was on to something when she mentioned something about young love on Pesterchum last night…

To the present: after a few moments of this attempted meditation, her eyes open and she sighs, shaking her hair out of her face. The long ebony locks mesmerize you, as they fly elegantly back and forth in the air, and then she's handing the katana back to you and you take it. "That's harder than I thought," she says, easing herself onto the roof itself, sitting with her knees drawn loosely up and her elbows resting on them. "You make it look so easy."

"It's a good calming exercise," you agree, adding for good measure, "Simple, elegant, the usual shit. It's also kind of pretty, when you do it right, of course." Oh, wow, that was slick, way to go Dave..

"Yeah," she replies, and you sigh inwardly in relief. It seems she didn't pick up on your last comment – privately, you don't think that's quite true, but you won't say a word. "You looked so peaceful when you were doing it earlier."

"Uh, yeah. It's… not what I like people to see, most of the time." You shift your weight, slightly uncomfortable, and decide to leave it at that.

There's a pause before she laughs and said, "I probably looked like an idiot."

"No, you didn't." It was automatic, and you said it so fast that she looks up at you, startled. You have to work so hard to keep yourself from flushing when you cast your gaze over to her. "I mean… you know."

"What?" Her eyes are glinting with – well, not mirth, like when she knows you've slipped up and she wants you to admit it – it resembles genuine… curiosity. Yeah. She's curious. She wants to know.

"What, what?"

"I didn't look like an idiot, you said."


"Why do you say that?"

You sigh, might as well come clean, this is Vriska and there's no one else around. "Vriska," and she looks at you funny because you normally address her as Serket, and so you say again, "Vriska, as much as you delude yourself otherwise, you are actually a very beautiful person."

She looks like a stunned rabbit. You can't help it; you turn your head away to cover the fact you're smiling. And then she says in a small voice, and the grin drops off your face and you feel cold with embarrassment, "You think I'm beautiful?"

"I don't say things twice," you say in a strained voice, the words forcing themselves out of your throat and through your gritted teeth, "so either you heard right or you heard wrong."

"Dave…" You look over and then back away, privately choke at the illuminated look on her face. She actually gives you a one-armed hug as she says quietly, "Thank you."

"Uh. Yeah. Um. Anytime," you respond.

You are the king of smooth, it is you.

The final blow, as it is artfully and commonly described in video games, has as many variations as outer space has stars and galaxies. There are several ways to incapacitate a foe, and you yourself perform several. There is no preference; it all depends on the situation and the opponent you are against.

Most of the time they are modifications of basic sword technique – a vertical cut, a feint followed by a side slash, perhaps a thrust if you're feeling particularly lucky. In the end, they have the same result: a defeated foe.

But in all honesty, a final blow is overrated. It's more like the last attack before the end of the battle or the beginning of the next one. But hey, you're not about to argue.

Senior year, high school, week before prom. You're both in the courtyard under your favorite tree, a large old thing with leaves that shield you from the sweltering Texan sun. Vriska has informed you the sun is the same sun no matter where you are, but you think it sounds poetic so that's how it's staying. She calls you an idiot prefaced with obscenities, and you refrain from retaliating with the b-word because she hates it so much.

Then there's a comfortable silence, in which you pick absently at her hair, straightening strands, feeling it between your fingers, just because she doesn't care and you like the silky feel of it – it's almost like a spider web minus the stickiness, so fine and smooth it is. You would never tell her that, though, because she'd laugh her ass off for weeks.

"Do you have dreams, Dave? Like, not the ones at night," which totally kills that snarky comment you were going to make, "But dreams, something you want to accomplish. Goals, I guess."

You give it some thought before you speak. "Yeah, I have dreams. Everyone does," you answer absently, plucking a blade of grass growing at the tree's roots with your free hand, the one not tangled in her locks. There is a little insect crawling frantically on it, and you ease it onto the bark of the tree before you bring the blade to your lips and blow. You fail to produce a sound, so you drop it and fish around for another one. "But you know, dreams are just wishes your heart makes. So there's a high chance it won't come true."

"I guess." She's silent. In the beginning of the year you would've cringed at the current setup: your shoulders are pressed together, with her hands folded neatly in her lap while yours are toying around with grass, and her head is resting on your shoulders and her ebony locks are brushing your face, threatening to make you sneeze.

But now? You don't really mind – you like it at lot, actually, a lot more than you'd admit to yourself; the warm feeling that burns pleasantly in your stomach when you're with her, and the calm you get when you're so close to each other like this. And yeah, rumors spread fast and everything thinks you're an item, and while before that would've bothered the hell out of you now it's just something that happens.

(Though you can't say you have anything against it, and you in fact encourage it when you can.)

It was these sorts of days that you found yourself especially attracted to her, when she asks rhetorical questions that you'd expect to come from a five year-old's mouth. Like, she was pragmatic, and yet idealistic, and the mix was one you very much liked, so much so that… well, no, you're not going there.

You put the new blade of grass to your lips, temporarily abandoning her hair, and blow. It produces a shrill sound that draws attention from all four corners of the yard, and when you continue to whistle without stopping students begin to yell at you to shut the fuck up. You only stop when you run out of air, and then, smirking, you throw it aside and give everyone a stud nod. Vriska laughs in approval; you can feel the slight vibration through her arm. You feel happy, legitimately happy, at the sound.

"I remember when I was younger that I always hoped a prince would come and sweep me off my feet," she says after a few peaceful moments, and you look down – no, over at her, she matches your exceeding height, and you begin running a hand through her hair again because it's so goddamn soft. She chuckles ruefully. "It was stupid and naïve, but… I think it's worth fighting for what's right, you know?"

"You wanting to find Prince Charming doesn't exactly fall into fighting for what's right," you respond, and then your mind goes blank when she shifts and huffs and you can feel her breath on your neck. You blink it off a few seconds later and hope she didn't notice your hand literally froze for a second before resuming its stroking of her hair.

"I know, but I think fighting for your dreams is the right thing to do," she replies, and you nod, knowing she could feel the motion against her own head.

"So you still want to find your prince?"

Her mouth opens, you can feel it, and she opens and closes it several times before the words come out. "Yeah… but I've already found him." She sighs, a breezy sound. "All he needs to do is notice me."

You wonder vaguely who it is, doing your best to ignore the piteous moan from the voice in your head, oh my god being jealous is for middle school kids. Fuck. You're pathetic sometimes. In true Dave Strider fashion, though, you simply shrug against her and ask point-blank, "Who is it?"

"Someone who is as oblivious as he is cool," she responds instantly, and while you are admittedly a little slow in the battlefield that is love, you're not actually that dense. Still, you can't stop the blood from rushing to your face, and it takes all your effort to get your tongue to formulate words.

"So, Serket," you say in a strained voice, after a few moments, "you wanna go to prom with me?"

She sits up immediately and smiles wide, a genuine happy look (you practically deflate with relief, you would've literally died had you been wrong), and both of you reach out at the same time to envelop the other in a hug. Her hair is soft against your cheek, and her body fits wonderfully against your arms, and she's so warm even with the prosthetic arm.

"I would like nothing better," she breathes into your ear, and then the two of you sit there, arms around each other, taking in each other's warmth and breathing in each other's smell and god, it's so perfect and she's so great, and the catcalls from fellow students mean nothing to you now.

Fate led you to her, you think. What are the odds of meeting someone who is sharp like a sword's blade, parrying your words with ease and blocking your attacks with a fluidity you fear you can't match? Nonexistent – you agree.

And while at first you may have been complaining, now you cannot imagine a time without her. She is an extension of you, priceless, a treasure, much like how the blade is but an extension of your arm. You can't fight without a sword; and similarily, you can't think of living without her.

You are a swordmaster, the blade is an extension of your arm, and the strokes you perform relate exactly to the sparring you and she have on a daily basis. So in a lot of ways, your relationship to Vriska Serket can be accurately depicted by how you wield your katana. In fact, the resemblance is almost uncanny in how easily you can connect one event to one stroke of the blade.

Thanks for the reviews, I never thought it would get anywhere near this popular! :)