You guys are ridiculous. I mean how am I almost at 30 followers on this thing? You guys. Ridiculous.
I can’t help wanting to spoil you all.
Title: The Irony of Bubblemates
Characters: Dave, Tavros, occasionally other characters. In this part we have Equius. I am not going to guarantee I wrote him well though.
Rating: PG-13 for swearing, a little bit of violence I guess, and sweating
Summary of this part: In which Tavros gets a new self-esteem, Equius shows Dave’s wall just how strong he is, and Dave considers the laundry he’s going to have to do.
Past parts can be found on this blog or the masterlist of past parts.
Again, I want to make it clear that I won’t guarantee that Equius is any good. This will more or less always be my warning whenever I have to write a new character, but I feel I have to. Sorry if I’m rubbish writing him.
Also hey! We’re almost maybe getting somewhere.
new ideas keep pushing back relationship development haha
There was something inexplicably exciting about the idea of bumping into other bubbles. The idea that just by being open to the presence of others, Dave’s bubble would start to move and make its way through not-space and meet up with other bubbles was something new. It was different.
It was hard to come by different when trapped in a bubble.
Dave had been excited when he felt the chilling sensation of invasion, knowing he had hit his first bubble during bubble surfing. It was masked, of course, only making itself know by an arch of his brow. That excitement only lasted until he opened his apartment door to find a burly looking troll frowning at him.
“Who do you think you are to come barging into the bubble of a high blood?”
“Fuck, you’re the troll with a boner for strong man-horses, aren’t you?”
“Whatever. I’m only letting you inside if you promise to not pitch a tent while you’re here.”
“Who said I wanted to come inside at all? You are very presumptuous as well as lewd.”
“Because if you didn’t want to behold my wicked way with words, you’d have just shoved my bubble off when it collided with yours. Admit it. You’re excited to get up close to the fucking king of rap battles.”
“…Is that an order?”
“You said to admit it. Are you trying to order me to do your bidding?”
“The fuck. No.”
“Ah, I see. Even so, I suppose I should recognize your social stature in human society. I will come inside.”
In truth, Dave had only tried to get Equius to come in because he thought that maybe Tavros would want to see one of the trolls again. He definitely liked hanging out with Aradia. And considering how much Dave had appreciated being around another human when Bro was around, it would make sense that Tavros might like the company of trolls.
Dave could be a considerate guy when he wanted to be.
But of course the troll shit always made a mess of Dave’s plans.
It had started out alright, although not great by any means. Tavros had been pretty awkward when faced with Equius, acting far more cowed than Dave had seen him act since way back when he told him about the culling shit. Frankly, considering they were at the point where Tavros occasionally managed to yank his chain and rub it in Dave’s face, it was weird to see him completely withdrawn.
Hell, even Equius looked awkward. Dave was curious how long the guy had been dead for. Probably not long, considering the confused look he had given Dave earlier when the teenager mentioned pushing his bubble away.
When Equius asked about why someone with as high a status as Dave was living with someone as lowly as Tavros and Dave remembered that oh yeah, there was the whole blood hierarchy thing, things started on a downhill path.
That was not going to stand in his apartment.
“Hey, Tav, would you do me the honor of escorting me to the kitchen?” Dave asked levelly, completely ignoring the question asked of him as he did. Equius opened his mouth to protest, but the teenager did not hear a word of it as he turned and walked away. Tavros mumbled an agreement and followed behind him.
Once they were separated from the bulky troll, Dave leaned back against the counter and looked Tavros straight in the eye.
“Tavros, remember what I said about the blood shit when you told me about it?”
“Uhh, that it was sick in the worse way.”
“Right. And what about how it applies in this apartment.”
“Damn right it doesn’t. And what is your status here?”
“That I’m sort of an official member of the household?”
“Not sort of. Try again.”
“I, uh, I am an official member, most definitely.”
“And what does that make us?”
“Equals. We’re equals. Got it?”
“Yeah, right, ok. We’re equals.”
“Good. Now stop smiling like an idiot because this conversation isn’t over. What is Equius?”
“A high blood—”
“Wrong. What is Equius in the Strider apartment?”
“Uhh, I dunno.”
“An equal, if not below you in terms of importance. That goes beyond here too. What you deserve is his respect, and if he doesn’t give it to you, you take it from him. Got it?”
Tavros stared at Dave with wide eyes. It was pretty clear that the troll’s brain was racing as it tried to deal with old troll ideas and the new ones being presented to him. Finally, the corners of his dark lips curled, revealing a smile that was both appreciative and a bit bemused.
“Dave, are you uh, mad at Equius on my behalf?”
The teenager kept his poker face solidly in place, even as the reaction to being caught flared up inside. Instead he simply shrugged and made sure his shades were perfectly in place. It was enough though. Something about the fact that Dave personally cared about how the troll was treated gave Tavros that final push.
“You’re right. I’m done, you know, just accepting it, even if it is from the other trolls. I really like not feeling, uh, inferior here, and don’t really want to go back to feeling like before.”
“Wow. Oh wow, this uh, this feels really, really good.”
Dave could not help smirking. “Getting high off the self-confidence there?”
“You’re kind of a lot better as my self esteem than, uh, Rufio was!”
“I’m going go and tell Equius that I am, you know, not someone he can put down anymore!”
“Dude, back up, what did you just say before that?”
With that, Tavros spun on his heels and was out of the kitchen before Dave could stop him. In all honesty, it was probably for the best since it sounded like something the teenager did not want to know.
He stayed in the kitchen for a bit, figuring he should give Tavros some space to do his thing. The troll needed to learn to stand on his own two feet – perhaps not the best phrase considering he had once been a cripple, but then again that also made it the best phrase to use.
There was not any yelling, so it had to be going alright.
“Uhhh, hey, Dave? All the towels are in the bathroom, right?”
Maybe too well.
Things went pretty smoothly after that. Once Equius had submitted to the idea that Dave and Tavros were his equals in the apartment and the two had managed to get him to sit and not touch anything – one puppet had already met a pretty brutal fate – he was practically cordial. It was like Dave had the Queen of England in his apartment, only she was a big troll with a hankering for role reversal, sweating problems, and the strength to tear anything in two.
Equius noted that Tavros had his own legs back to which Tavros replied that they were really nice and better than being crippled or having robotic legs. This was quickly followed by him stammering out that the robotic legs were really cool too, and it was really nice of Equius to have made them for him, and that they probably would have been really awesome if he had had the chance to get used to them before dying.
The bigger troll simply replied that it was a shame.
Dave was mentally adding robots to the list of things he was pretty sure Equius had a fetish for.
It turned out that indeed, Equius had acquired his bubble pretty recently. While he and Tavros had not actually died all that far apart in the timeline back in reality, time out in the middle of nowhere was messing with them. What was for Tavros many months had only been a week or two for Equius.
Equius insisted that he did not need any advice about living in a bubble, but there was no stopping Tavros once he found he could be of assistance. Not even the pride of a troll who thought himself high class could stop the unending torrent of information.
Despite his protests at the beginning – rather angry sounding ones at that, but Tavros was fueled by ridiculous amounts of self confidence and kept going anyway – Equius was soon listening with rapt attention. No doubt he was a stickler for rules and regulations and knowing how things were supposed to work. Considering he made robots, it probably should not have surprised Dave at all that he would find the mechanisms of the bubbles interesting too.
When Equius inquired as to what the turntables in the corner of the living room were, Dave simply explained that they were a part of human rapping tradition. That was not enough for him though, and before Dave could really stop him he was already examining them up close.
In truth, Dave did try to get in the way and stop him. But the effort it took Equius to shove him aside was so minimal to the troll that he did not even notice he had done it. Dave was too proud to mention he had been pushed aside like a ragdoll.
Tavros was next to him though, pointing out the controls and explaining it all. Where Equius was harsh with puppets, he was incredibly gentle and careful with the machine, and even scolded Tavros when he twisted a knob too harshly.
“You must be careful with your strength.”
“Uh, right, sorry. I’ll be better about that.”
“Good. You are good at taking orders.”
“Whoa, I thought that was just advice or, you know, a friendly warning. I already kind of told you that I’m not really taking orders from, uh, you.”
“Uh. Yes. You’re correct.”
“Dude, if you get sweat all over Bro’s turntables, I will have to end you.”
“Uhh, I think you’re maybe making it worse, Dave.”
“No, I am quite alright. I will just excuse myself for a moment.”
Dave was going to have to wash all his towels at least twice before he could use them again.
“Hey, Dave, we should uh, play some sick beats for Equius.”
“Yeah, no thanks. I don’t want him getting any ideas about rapping around me ever again.”
“Whoa, wait, does he maybe know slam poetry?”
“Dude. Don’t. Take my word for it.”
“Ok. But we could still share the track we made together, maybe?”
“Uh, why not?”
“Just not feeling it right now. Too worried about the innocence of my towels.”
“But this could maybe take your mind off that?”
“Come on, it’ll be, you know, really fun.”
“Sick beats aren’t about fun. This is super serious business. This business is so serious that the government would bail it out before letting it fall on its fucking fat ass.”
“Uh, ok, so that did not make any sense to me, but I’m still going to assume it’s probably an excuse.”
“Dude, excuses are way beneath me.”
“Then you’re going to definitely drop these ill rhymes with me.”
“No way. You’re not gonna win this one.”
“Excuse me,” Equius interrupted. He was holding a towel in his hand and lightly dabbing his forehead. “I hate to interrupt your, how one might say, moment, but I must ask where I should put soiled towels.”
Dave grimaced before tilting his head to indicate the bathroom. “Just throw ‘em in the shower.”
“Ah, thank you. Also, my congratulations to you, Tavros, for your filled quadrant.”
“I would not have believed that someone with your blood would find a worthwhile partner, but it does indeed seem that this afterlife is an odd place. Then again, perhaps it is because he is not a troll that it works. You will have to excuse me for being so lewd, but is it pale or flushed?”
“Whoa, wait, uhh, what?”
“Yes, you are right, I am being too invasive with my questions. You do not need to inform me of the sort of red feelings you two share.”
“Oh, uhhhh, wow, I mean we’re uh, not, I don’t think anyway, not even moirails really—”
“So I think I’m now the one interrupting something, but here we go. Are you guys going on about what I think you are?”
“We are discussing the delicate matter of your romantic relations. However, are you telling me I have made an error?”
Dave rolled his eyes behind his shades while Tavros stammered out, “Yeah, uhh, we’re not really in any sort of red romance, or uh even a black one, since I’m not good at things like hate and we don’t really have a third person—”
“No, we’re not getting it on. Can we move on?”
Equius and even Tavros looked at him in confusion. “That was not the topic at hand. A crude subtopic perhaps, but certainly not the main topic.”
“Uh, yeah. He wasn’t really asking about uh, that. Well, you kind of did earlier, I guess.”
“Ah, right. When I was being too invasive with my questions. Again, I beg your forgiveness.”
“No, that’s ok, really, you don’t uh, have to do any begging.”
“Perhaps that was why I confused Dave.”
Dave stared at the two before finally remembering. Right. Troll romances. He could not help placing his palm to his face. “No, nevermind. I forgot that you guys can have romances without the sex, however the fuck that works.”
There was a pause before Equius asked, “Are you trying to suggest there is something odd about moirallegiance.”
“I don’t really see the point. Might as well admit you’re just friends.”
“Look, I get that you guys think it’s romantic or something, but if you’re not able to mack on each other, it’s time to admit to the truth. You’re just friends.”
It was when Dave removed his hand to find Equius’s enraged expression that he realized that saying ‘fuck you’ to cultural sensitivity was officially coming back to bite him in the ass.
“Are you trying to suggest that Nepeta and I are simply friends? That our relationship is nothing more than the simple, juvenile nothings between people who do not have any form of romantic devotion?” the large troll asked, his voice rising in volume with each word, as if just speaking them increased his anger. For being the troll version of the Queen of England, Equius was freaky as hell when he was getting mad. Dave put up his hands, although he was not about to physically retreat.
“Whoa. Ok, maybe there was a cultural sensitivity line that was crossed that could have gone uncrossed. This is me taking my ass back across the line, alright? We’ll pretend I didn’t say that.”
“Do not mock me!” Equius shouted as his hands curled into fists. “You do not mean your words in the least! I can tell that you still feel that simply because we do not have concupiscent relations, you think we are simply deluding ourselves, and that – that is something I will not stand for! I will not have our relationship mocked by some ignorant earth wriggler!”
Equius took a step forward and Dave took one back. “Look, I don’t get it. I’m not a troll, I don’t get your quadrant things. But—Fuck, dude, give me time to talk!”
“Whoa, uh, Equius, maybe you should—”
“I am done listening to your words!” The only thing that Dave had to thank for the fact that his head was still on his shoulders was how he had been raised to be fast. He had ducked and rolled across the carpet before he heard the smash. As he was getting to his feet, Dave saw that there was now a hole in his wall.
A really big, deep hole.
“Wait! Whoa, ok, Equius, you seriously need to stop!” Tavros shouted, grabbing Equius’ shoulder as the enraged troll pulled his hand out of the ruined wall. “Humans aren’t like trolls! You could seriously, definitely kill him doing that!”
“Then so be it!”
Dave stood there and watched in shock as Tavros tackled Equius, knocking them both to the ground. The two trolls were face down with Tavros on top, his arms visibly straining to keep Equius smashed against the carpet. It was a losing battle though as Dave had no doubt that Equius was the stronger of the pair and that considering he was fuming the way he was, that strength was probably doubled. The only thing keeping him down was that he could not get his arms under him so he could get the right leverage.
“Tavros, I order you get off this instant!”
“No! I won’t let you hurt Dave! Please stop being angry!”
“But he has insulted me and my moirail! I will not stand for it!”
“I know, I know! But he can’t, you know, help not understanding? He didn’t grow up with us or, uh, on Alternia at all.”
“Ignorance is no excuse!” Equius finally managed to get a hand flat to the carpet and his elbow up so that he could push upwards. Tavros yelped, scrambling to steady himself and try to keep the other troll down. “It is his own fault if he is not willing to learn! I will beat it into him if I must, and if the lessen is too much for him, it is due to his own weakness!”
Something snapped. Dave could not name it, but to say it was like the Time Zone if it were real and not shitty was pretty close. Throw in Fight Club and horns, and that was as close as he could get.
“No!” Tavros roared and, to Dave’s horror, rammed his head down. His skull collided with Equius’, and the shock was enough to send him flat to the carpet again. Instead of lifting up and away after that, Tavros only pulled back enough to slam back down, the top of his forehead pressed to the back of Equius’ neck so that his horns ripped into the carpet and possibly even pierced through the floor. He effectively had the raging troll’s head pinned down against the ground with his massive horns. Even Equius had the decency to suck in his breath.
Dave was pretty sure he would never be able to call those huge horns goofy ever again. As it was, they were intimidating when actually used in a fight.
Really fucking intimidating.
There was a bit more shuffling, but Equius did not thrash like before. It was hard to do when one’s head is unable to move up so much as an inch. However, his whole body shook with anger.
“You will get off of me this instant!” he bellowed, gnashing his teeth as he did.
“No.” It was not a shout, but it was just as solid when it was in the air as any rageful scream. Tavros was visibly panting and straining, but there was no waver in his voice. “No. I’m done, uh, listening to what people tell me to do. Now, I’m going to tell you what to do, and that means that you’re going to, right now, definitely listen to me.”
There was a pause. When Equius did not respond, Tavros continued.
“Dave isn’t a troll. Dave grew up on Earth with other humans, and they uh, only have one form of romance. The only quadrant he can really understand is the flushed one, probably, because that’s the closest to what they have from what I kind of understand about it,” Tavros started, even and calm despite still straining his neck to keep Equius down.
“They have this, uh, I dunno, line I guess between friends and romantic partners. Either they’re, uh, in love or they’re not. Moirails are too similar to their concept of friends, or something, it’s kind of weird. They can’t have friends who are also romantic interests. They can’t do anything about that line, and uh, I don’t think they can even think about blurring it, really. It doesn’t occur to them that romance can exist when there aren’t concupiscent feelings.”
A pause as Tavros took a moment to swallow hard. His voice was getting rougher by the moment, though whether it was emotion or the strain was indecipherable. “Those are, well, just friends for them. Dave would never think that there could maybe be romance where there isn’t, uh, physical interactions. That’s just friendship to him. Dave can’t understand troll feelings.”
Equius was starting to cease moving under him.
Dave was pretty damn sure he was missing something, and the sinking feeling in his stomach told him that maybe he really did not want to think about what that something was.
Without warning, Equius slammed his fists down against the floor, his whole body trembling with the burst of violence. Then, as the tension appeared to ease out of his body, the anger seemed to go with it. The troll took a deep breath.
“I think I understand this situation now.”
Tavros stilled, blinked, and then said in his usual stammering way, “Uh, what?”
“I will respect what I understand of the situation. No harm will come to Dave.”
“I would never lie.”
“Oh. Ok.” Tavros lifted himself and his horns up before he rolled off, sitting there for a moment and rubbing his neck. Equius pushed himself back until he was on the balls of his feet, rolling his head with a few audible cracks. The two were suddenly so composed, as if it was no big deal that they had just been fighting and that there was now a huge hole in Dave’s wall along with a couple small ones in his floor.
It was making Dave feel pretty damn stupid for being on edge and confused and frankly somewhere between shitting himself and asking ‘what the fuck’. His whole body was still in battle mode, and they were sitting around like a bunch of kids that just finished a round of rock-paper-scissors.
“Uhh, oh, hey Dave.” Tavros swallowed hard but still managed a smile. “I think everything is, you know, ok now. Sorry about the holes.”
“I apologize for not fully comprehending the extent of your ignorance. However, I will be leaving the hole as a reminder that I will not allow you to disrespect moirallegiance again.”
“Yeah, ok, thanks for being cordial about having just fucking gone trollshit all over my apartment. I’m just going to leave now.”
“Oh, um, I’ll come with—”
“Dude, go get all your troll rage out or have a romantic powwow or whatever. I’ll be up on the roof when you guys are done.”
Tavros’ face fell at that, and if there was a list of moments when Dave felt like a douche, this one was definitely on it and inching towards the top. That expression was twisting Dave’s gut in all the wrong ways. But there was no way he could stay.
There were too many emotions floating around right now.
Dave had to get out.
“Sorry. See him off or something and come find me if you want after that.”
That seemed to make things a bit better, although none of the gut churning ceased. Facing death, being saved by a friend, and then having that friend talk about how he could never understand troll romance was, frankly, too much for Dave to take.
Once he was out the front door, Dave dashed up the stairs and away from the apartment as fast as he could.
“It must be difficult.”
“Having pale feelings for someone who cannot understand them. It sounds worse than having your feelings rejected.”
“Uh, I don’t know what you could possibly mean?”
“Are you truly going to play dumb?”
“I uh, I don’t really, well—um, ok, no. I don’t really know what I, uh, feel?”
“I see. I have heard that at times, feelings can shift between pale and flushed and that it is confusing.”
“That is the problem, right?”
“I kind of try not to think about it at all, actually. So I, uh, don’t really know even that much? Maybe I just, kind of, am over thinking the friendship a lot.”
“If I learned something from Nepeta, it is that it takes strength to face feelings, and even greater strength to admit to them.”
“Did she tell you that when you formed your moirallegiance?”
“Oh. She was talking about her, uh, shipping wall—”
“The circumstances do not matter. It is still true. I have learned that strength is important not just in the realm of strong physiques. It has a strong role in feelings.”
“So, uh, you think I should maybe think about how I feel?”
“Indeed. I’m sure that is what Nepeta would say as well.”
“But Dave doesn’t really—”
“He can be taught.”
“But what if he doesn’t—”
“Rejection can create strength.”
“Um. Ok. I’ll think about, uh, thinking about it.”
“You uh, feel really strongly about Nepeta, don’t you?”
“The strongest. It is hard now that I do not know how she is. She’s not here in this place, is she?”
“Um. Do you really want to know?”
“Oh. So, she was… oh.”
“I haven’t seen her, but Dave’s brother did mention her. She was happy though, or well, that’s what he said, and I don’t think he would lie? She’s just waiting around for, uh, you.”
“I see. I believe I should leave now then. I cannot keep her waiting.”
“Yeah, that sounds good. Good luck.”
“I offer you the same.”
“Uhh, thanks, I guess?”
“Oh, uh, you too?”
“And before I go, I would just like to state that you, Tavros, are very strong considering your blood.”
“Um, ok. You’re not bad for a blue blood, either.”
“I will ignore your impertinence just this once.”
“Me too, then.”
“You have changed.”
“Yeah, I guess I have, kind of. I have a new self esteem now, and he is better than uh, Rufio was. Probably because he’s, you know, real.”
“Yes, just like that.”
“That. That way of strongly admitting your feelings.”
“Uhhh, hey, Equius?”
“I’m just going to, uh, walk away now, ok?”
“Oh. Right. That is fine. I will find Nepeta.”
“Ok. Say hi for me.”
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