Title: Recovery Time
Summary: Eternity was a long time, but it wasn't nearly enough. —Damara/Rufioh
Notes: Because we could use a little more Rufimara in this fandom.
Disclaimer: Homestuck and all related characters are property of Andrew Hussie.
Prompt #11: Eternity With You
Eternity was a long time.
Damara blew ringlets of smoke from her parted red lips, watching as they mingled with the air before quickly dissipating. Between two slender gray fingers she held a human cigarette that was burned nearly to the orange border, which she had long since figured out was the life limit for these things.
Then again, in the afterlife, where time was essentially meaningless, she supposed it hadn't been long at all.
She reached over and discarded the cigarette into the human ash tray resting on the counter of some aristocrat's dream hive's kitchen, her upper lip curling in distaste. Was this what death had reduced her to? Aimlessly meandering through a boring clusterfuck of memories while she contemplated the relevance of the very concept she had once been master over through some larger, bullshit perspective? How disgusting.
Standing on tiptoe—damn, were Beforan Westerners tall—Damara leaned over the sink to get a better view out the window. The scenery here was nothing to boast about, she thought critically. From this distance, she could make out multiple locations from several different memories, all of which crudely transitioned to and from one another with no visible rhyme or reason. Vaguely, she wondered if the memory she was currently inhabiting belonged to Zahhak. Then she remembered that she didn't particularly care.
(Except she really, really did.)
From the corner of her white, ghastly eyes, she caught a brief flash of crimson and black scurrying across the aristocrat's lawn ring. The figure was gone just as quickly as he had appeared, but the mere sight of him was enough to put an end to the borderline tranquil ambiance. Damara reached into her pack and procured another cigarette, which she clamped firmly between her teeth before promptly lighting it.
Eternity was a long time, but it wasn't nearly enough.
Damara had run into him on more than one occasion since they'd died. None of their chance meetings had ended on a good note, but then again, that was just the way Damara preferred them.
Her red flats crunched against the dirt road that lead through one of the many Beforan forests, in which she had made her home billions of sweeps ago. Trees loomed overhead—thick and full and in a soft lavender color, just as she remembered them—casting shadows over the path and shielding her from the sun's harmful rays.
It was rare for her to visit her own memories so frequently. Barely half a sweep had passed since her highly unwanted reunion with Meenah, which was the last time she had visited this particular area. Damara normally spent her time intruding on her former comrades' memories whenever they happened to occupy the same dream bubble as her. Her own memories tended to remain unexplored for dozens of sweeps at a time, but she supposed that even she could fall prey to nostalgia.
That, or she had simply grown bored of antagonizing idiots.
The path branched up ahead, each leading to the east and west sides of the forest. Without giving it a second thought, Damara turned left. She knew this trail by heart. She had traveled it countless times when she was alive, a time where the game hadn't yet stolen her simplicity and lightheartedness and replaced them with eons of bitterness. Back before love was destroyed by infidelity and friendships were tainted with the overpowering desire to win.
Contrary to popular belief, time did not heal wounds; it only made people forget the pain. Damara was no Mind player, but she supposed that the same could be said for any memory. Time blurred details and emotions until the person was left with a sense of detachment that only grew as the days flew by.
As the Witch of Time, no amount of it could make her forget.
And even if it could, there was no way she would ever forgive.
Up ahead, she could make out a familiar figure making his way down the path. Damara's lips pursed at his casual demeanor, his averted gaze, the way his gaudy brown butterfly wings stretched across the width of the road like he owned it. She found it ironic that such a fickle boy could appear so definitive.
They stopped at the same time, each keeping a safe distance away from the other. Damara crossed her arms over her chest, waiting for him to initiate the first greeting, while he kicked at the ground with typical uncertainty.
Finally, he lifted his eyes to meet hers.
"Hey, doll," said Rufioh, jamming his hands into his pockets. "It's, uh, been a while."
"It has barely been half a sweep," she responded in the East Beforan dialect only he was able to understand.
"Oh. Right." He gave her a sheepish smile. "You know how it is in these dream bubbles. Makes you lose track of time, you know what I mean?"
"Haha. Right. Almost forgot that time's kinda your thing."
"Is there something I can assist you with?" asked Damara, raising a perfectly arched eyebrow. "Or have you come to repay me with those sexual favors?"
"Er, no, nothing like that," replied Rufioh, not at all taken aback by her usual risque commentary. "I just thought it'd be nice to take a walk on the old trail. Brings back a lot of memories."
"Would these memories include your many illicit meetings with the horse man?"
"Damn, girl. Why do you always have to bring that up?"
Damara didn't humor him with an answer.
"Anyway, I gotta get going," said Rufioh after a moment of awkward silence. "I have some things to take care of. Later, doll."
The conversation ended there, and Rufioh continued walking by without another word.
Damara made no attempt to stop him.
"Hey, Damara," said Rufioh, looking far more put off than he had during their meeting almost a week ago, "you wouldn't happen to know where Tinkerbull went, would you?"
"How would I know this?" asked Damara from her seat on her tree hive's sofa, her dark brows lifting questioningly.
"I dunno, maybe because you always have something to do with it?"
"That is preposterous," she said with mock indignation. His accusation had merit, of course. The vast majority of his lusus' disappearances were initiated by her, and though they both knew this, Damara continued to feign innocence on the matter.
Rufioh sighed and ran a hand through his dual-colored Mohawk in exasperation. "Could you just give him back?"
"That is not possible. As I told you, I do not have him."
"Yeah, right! We both know that's a lie, doll."
"I am not the one who should be called a liar," Damara quipped, sending him a pointed look.
"Always so cold," said Rufioh. The sting of her words had long since stopped affecting him the way that it used to. It was a shame that the memory of his unfaithfulness hadn't lost its bite as well, she couldn't help but think bitterly. "Why can't you make this easy for once?"
Damara was silent for a moment. Her face, which had been a window to her inner contempt, became devoid of expression as she uttered her next sentence.
"Because losing you was not easy."
To her surprise, Rufioh winced at her honest tone as though her words had physically stung him. For the first time in countless sweeps, he actually looked somewhat guilty for what he had done. Damara felt a small surge of pride for eliciting this reaction from him, but it was tainted with a bitterness that rose up along with the memories of that wretched experience. She pushed them aside, determined to stay focused on the situation at hand.
"You will get him back," she said coldly, shifting her attention to her fingernails, "when you rid yourself of your cowardice and cease being dishonest."
There was a finality in her tone that caused them to lapse into a stony, seemingly unbreakable silence. Even as Rufioh's heavy footsteps fell on the wood floors, causing them to creak under his weight, Damara stubbornly kept her gaze averted. It was only when the footsteps disappeared did she look up again.
Rufioh was gone, leaving nothing but silence and a room filled with words left unspoken.
When Damara had first learned that Rufioh was seeing Horuss behind her back—before the game and Meenah's jeering and her own downward spiral into that bitter cycle of revenge—she had been upset, and understandably so. She'd suspected his infidelity for some time beforehand, but to have her suspicions confirmed had been like receiving a kick in the gut.
So, with teary eyes and a broken heart, she had fled the woods in search of someone who could sympathize with her.
"Dameowra!" Meulin had exclaimed loudly upon seeing Damara's tear-streaked face in her doorway. "Em oh gee, what happened? Are you okay?"
Despite the language barrier, Damara had never had difficulty befriending the other trolls in their group of friends thanks to Rufioh's excellent translation skills. She'd been especially fond of Meulin, who had been the most welcoming among trolls. Damara had known that she probably wouldn't be able to communicate what she had seen to the other girl, especially considering Meulin's inability to hear, but she'd attempted to anyway using what little of the West Beforan dialect she could speak in hopes that the other had gotten better at lip reading.
"Em oh gee!" Meulin had shrieked, clasping her hands over her mouth. "Rufioh cheated on you? Fur real?" When Damara had nodded, the other girl had stood up, looking positively indignant. "That jerk! I'll claw his eyes out! I mean, how could he even do that? You two were one of my favorite ships!"
Afterward, Meulin had sat with Damara with an arm wrapped around her shoulder in an attempt to sooth her. It hadn't helped, but Damara had appreciated the gesture. They had sat like that for quite some time before Meulin spoke up again.
"I remember when Purrloz and I first broke up," she had said, her voice sounding sagely despite the elevated volume. "It wasn't because we fought or anything like that, and I never held what he did to me against him. Sometimes people just grow apurrt over time.
"But sometimes time is just what people need to be close again. You know, like that saying, 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'!" She had turned to Damara, smiling sweetly. "Maybe that's all you guys need to get through this. Lots and lots of time!"
In retrospect, Damara supposed the stupid cat girl had been right about one thing. 'Lots and lots of time' was exactly what she and Rufioh had needed.
It was too bad there wasn't enough time in all of paradox space to repair the damage that had been done between them.
"I broke it off with Horuss."
That was not the opening line Damara had expected to receive when Rufioh confronted her two days later. Swallowing down the countless questions threatening to escape her lips, she calmly lifted her gaze to meet his.
"I do not believe you," she said, tucking a stray lock of dark hair behind her ear.
"I figured you'd say something like that," said Rufioh. "Believe what you want, doll, but the truth is that he and I are over."
Brows furrowed, Damara searched his face for any telltale signs of deception. What she found was a tiredness she hadn't noticed before, along with relief and another emotion she couldn't quite place. Everything about his expression and the relaxed way he carried himself suggested that he was telling the truth.
A corner of Damara's mouth lifted satirically. "It is about time."
"Yeah, yeah," said Rufioh, kicking at a stray pebble lying by his feet. "If you don't mind, could I, um, get my lusus back now?"
"Later." Damara leaned back against the tree and reached into her bra for the pack of joints she kept there. She procured two of them from the package; one she took between her teeth, and the other she held out to Rufioh. "Right now, you will get stoned with me. In celebration."
He stared at the joint for a long moment, obviously debating whether or not he should accept it. Finally, he took it between his fingers and followed her example uncertainly. He walked to the side of the tree just next to Damara's and leaned against the old, hard bark while she procured a lighter from within the confines of her shirt. She lit the end of her own joint before reaching over to ignite Rufioh's as well.
A moment of pensive silence passed between them. The air was hazy with smoke and all of the unspoken implications that filled the atmosphere whenever the topic of Rufioh had talked about breaking up with Horuss. This time, however, those implications seemed to be magnified tenfold.
"Now don't go thinking this is your big chance with me, doll," said Rufioh, almost as though he had been reading her mind. "Like I told you before, you and I are done for good, you hear?"
Though she couldn't see his face at this angle, Damara didn't miss his halfhearted tone or the way he had added the warning as an afterthought. She couldn't hold back the smirk that played about her lips.
"We shall see."
Meulin had said that perhaps all they needed was time. As Damara tilted her head upward to catch a glimpse of the sky before exhaling another obstructing cloud of smoke, she thought that maybe, just maybe, there was enough of it in paradox space to fix what had been broken.
After all, eternity was a long time.