Drifting Toward Oblivion

BY : Worlds_First_Ghost
Category: Web Comics > Homestuck
Dragon prints: 84
Disclaimer: I do not own Homestuck, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Waiting. If there was one thing that drove Rose crazy, it was being made to wait. Making others wait was more her style. It was part of her self-styled role as a therapist, a persona that was hard to shake off in even the most casual interactions with her friends. Everything she did was shaped by the doctor-patient power dynamic, one where she was the dominant side at all times. Being passive or deferent to others, like what she was doing now, weren’t skills she had in her wheelhouse. If she was in a more contemplative mood, she’d probably better appreciate what pains her friends might go through whenever she forced them to wait on her replies. At the present, her mind was more fixated on the fast depleting, precious remainder of her tenuous existence.

Ever since Dave first proposed his plan a month ago, it was the only thing either of them would talk about. He was to go back in time to prevent John’s death, thereby averting the chain of events that would cause their session to become unwinnable. This had to be done alone, meaning Rose would remain stranded while he and the others (including another iteration of her) would carry on in the offshoot timeline birthed by his actions. The way Dave described the whole thing was so straightforward and matter of fact, like he was anxious to drop the matter and get it over with as soon as possible. Rose always delayed it by pushing him into longer and longer discussions. She wanted clarity, perhaps some extra information to make the consequences easier for her to digest, because although her detached, professional demeanor would never show it, she was terrified.

It wasn’t because she was worried about it working; she had no doubts regarding Dave’s competency. He’d save the day and set things on the right path, but only in the “alpha” timeline. That was the only reality that mattered. Every other timeline, hers included, were to be tossed to the side as a temporal afterthought. As far as the game was concerned, she was garbage. And what was to be done with garbage? She had dwelled on the idea longer than what many would deem healthy. The blemished undersides of her eyes had grown saggy and swollen, the result of many a sleepless night on her perpetually bright and sunny planet. Only two possible fates were remotely feasible, both equally unappealing: she would be either be instantly wiped from existence or be trapped in a universe that would eventually die out no matter what. The only difference between the two outcomes would be if she would die fast or slow.

In the spaces of time when she wasn’t pestering Dave to rephrase the same thing for the nth time, she stoically and silently processed these anxieties, never letting him know how she was actually coping with all this. All the psychology texts she read taught her the importance of remaining emotionally neutral. The patient acts, she reacts. She was the rock, the chess master. She couldn’t let anyone else witness her vulnerable side. Especially not Dave. Their relationship was founded on a perpetual display of banter, each one attempting to crack the other’s stoic façade. If he could get the edge on her, draw out some sort of emotional response, he would lord that one small victory over her for months.

But they didn’t have months, not even days. He would’ve left already if she hadn’t stopped him. She focused on her laptop, something tangible that could distract her from this fog of doom currently immersing her mind. Endless strings of saturated pink and red text, staining her chat client like trails of blood, shimmered back at her. Dave’s last few messages would’ve been his final farewells, but she all but begged him to come over and say them to her in person. It was a silly moment of weakness on her part; she was only delaying the inevitable. But if these were to be her last conscious moments, she at least wanted them to be comforting. She could afford herself one this final indulgence, especially since time was the one thing they had in abundance.
It had been about five minutes since Dave signed off Pesterchum, but to her it felt like five hours. She contemplated briefly on knitting something to pass the time before discarding the thought. He wouldn’t make her wait long enough to warrant retrieving all her supplies. It’d be long enough to irritate her, enough to make her second guess whether or not he’d actually come. But he would. It was one of those things he’d do to get under her skin, but ironically it was also something that expressed an amount of effort and care. It was less annoying and more something she had come to appreciate, in a sort of sentimental, masochistic way. She wouldn’t allow others the opportunity to hurt her, and with good reason. But for him she made an exception. It was always exceptions with him.

Another minute trudged along and the urge to grab her knitting needles manifested in a twitch rocking her thumb and index finger. A shadow darkened the window and Rose heaved a weighty, relieved breath out her nostrils. Dave threw a leg over the windowsill and slid inside in one complete motion. Once past the barrier, he stood at full height to take in the room for a moment, his silhouette sharply outlined against the dazzling curtain of colored rain behind him. His features were brought into focus once he advanced further into the room. He wore his white Puppet Tux. Faint pastel splotches, droplets from the rain, soaked into his sleeves in spattered disarray. His oversized aviator shades hid whatever expression that could be betrayed by his eyes.

“Sup.”

“It took you long enough.” Her smile undermined the edge of mock annoyance she placed in her voice. “And such a gallant, eloquent entrance.”

“Yeah, you know me. I’m a regular heart stopper.”

“In that interactions with you are unhealthy and will inevitably afflict me with cardiac arrest?”

“That sounds about right.”

Rose swatted a cushion aside, letting it tumble off the bed and land on the ground with a muted thump. She patted the now vacant spot. Dave needed little in the way of encouragement before he glided toward her and took a seat. The mattress dipped from his weight, the perfect excuse for Rose to slide a little closer to him. He remained still, other than occasionally brushing at his sleeves to wipe away any excess rainwater clinging to them.

“So what exactly did you want to see me for?” he asked. His voice was a low, husky monotone. After years of consciously affecting an aloof tone to his speech, it was now at a point where it came out naturally. Like his shades, it was yet another shield to hide behind, keeping himself further out of her prying reach. Rose could discern any expression or intent from his voice only by relying on subtle cues. Cadence, pitch, and the muscle movements of his face apart from his eyes all helped a bit. After four months, she had gotten quite good at catching most of them.

“I thought we could just, in your words, chill out for a while. Perhaps we could jam, or have some of our classic repartee. I could even hold a psychoanalysis session for you, if you’re feeling particularly accommodating.”

“Or we could do none of that and I can get going to do our plan.” A faint, fatigued strain to the end of his words. He was tired, just like her.

“Is it really too much to ask for a personal goodbye in what might possibly be my fleeting moments of existence? Consider it my dying wish, given the circumstances.”

He wouldn’t consider it. The thought of her dying made his stomach twist into knots and sink into his bowels. She wouldn’t die… would she? He figured that by some virtue of how the timeline works, her two selves would join together at some point. Like a cosmic recycling project, the game would clean up the doomed timelines and fuse them together with the main one. This theory was pure speculation and nothing he or Rose had witnessed so far gave him any hope that this was how the game even functioned. It was the only rationalization he had that kept him from pitching himself into her planet’s garish, rainbow puke ocean. If there was a possibility that she wouldn’t entirely survive this, he wouldn’t want to either.

“I won’t because you’re not going to die.”

“How do you know?”

Dave’s bottom lip wrinkled. Two full seconds, a much longer pause than he’d usually allow himself, ticked by before he answered. “I don’t. But you can’t over think these things.”

Rose suppressed a sigh swelling in the back of her throat and rested her hand on top of his. Warm, he was always warm. Not even the dampness from the rain took away from his body’s comforting heat. He was soft, too. No matter how rugged he made himself out to be, his skin was feathery and smooth. All those brawls with his brother did nothing to spoil his natural complexion. She squeezed her fingers, pressing harder around his digits, but got no response from him. Despite the warmth from his skin, his posture was frozen and stiff like a marble statue. His gaze was locked to the bedroom’s window, set in place in a pointed attempt to avoid her. She tilted her head to the side, trying to steal a glance of his eyes out from under the sides of his glasses. The wide, dark lenses spoiled any attempts she made to get past them.

Streaks of yellow, cyan, and magenta painted the windowpanes. It hardly ever rained in the desert. Dave always found it calming, even if this rain was gaudy in its pastel palette and looked like runny printer ink. It offered a pleasant, if only temporary, distraction from the pale hand currently crushing his fingers together. He didn’t want to see its owner and what her obvious reaction to his words would be. Those anxious heliotrope eyes burned a hole on the side of his head. Not even his shades could protect him from their shine.

His paltry reassurances were more for him than for her. They were things he had been repeating to himself as a sort of mantra. It kept him focused, taking his attention away from the thoughts of Rose’s inevitable fate. But they wouldn’t convince her of anything. She was smart, way smarter than him. He could barely convince himself that his words were true, so of course she wouldn’t buy them for a second. Why couldn’t she just let him go? There wasn’t anything he could do to help her.

“Do you really think I’ll just fade away?” Rose did a good job at concealing the anguish in her calm, syrupy voice, but it was still potent enough to make Dave visibly wince. “Or will my termination be more sudden?”

“I told you not to over think it.” His foot drummed against the floor in a restless staccato. Every time he repeated those words to her, it made it harder for him to follow his own advice. “Well, this sure was fun. How much longer do you want me to stick around here?”

An hour. Another month. Forever. “No specific length of time in mind, really. But what’s the rush? You haven’t even said goodbye to me yet, which was the whole point of this meeting. Are you in a hurry?”

No. “Don’t act all coy and clueless with me. You and I both know what’s at stake here.”

“You talk as if you’re short on time. Surely the Knight of Time can grant as much time as he wishes to allow me proper opportunity to gape in awe at his presence.”

While that much was true, time wasn’t the factor he was thinking about. He needed to get away. The longer he stayed with her, the more reluctant he’d be to leave her behind. She knew this too. She’d keep him till the Reckoning obliterated the entire session. Maybe it was the sense of duty to reverse John and Jade’s deaths that called him to act as fast as possible. Or maybe it was guilt. Guilt of leaving Rose, or at least this single version of her, to die here while he went on to live. If he could just get away from her, go to the new timeline with the new Rose (no, not new, she’s still the same Rose, dammit) the quicker he could escape the guilt and pretend that everything is okay. The more he spoke with her, felt her hand clutch his, spent another second in her magnetic aura, the mounting guilt smothered his urgency to leave.

The glow from the rain-spattered window reflected off his face, bathing it in a kaleidoscopic array of color. He finally turned to Rose. She had neglected to put on any makeup today. Her eyes were normally sharp and judgmental, but the lack of eyeliner and mascara softened them. A pair of delicate, milky pools shimmering with all the brightness of a dying candle. The skin surrounding them was bruised and puffy, and Dave hated himself for that. He was the reason she wasn't getting any sleep. It made him want to turn away from her, but she did so first once she spotted her miserable expression mirrored twofold in his shades. She grumbled something resembling an apology while her plump lips scowled in disgust at herself.

“I know you’re upset, but you’re making this harder than it needs to be,” Dave said.

“Pardon me for not taking your feelings into account.” A sliver in her voice, not quite a crack. Her agitation was showing, despite her attempts to sound calm. “Being doomed to a life of solitude, or rather being wiped from existence completely, is a bit trivial compared to whatever wounds your unbearable hero complex must have inflicted on you, isn’t it?”

“See, you’re doing it again.”

“Doing what?”

“Over thinking it. You can’t do that shit unless you want go crazy. You just have to throw yourself in the moment and hope for the best outcome. Carpe diem that shit.”

“I wish I could share your cavalier approach to manipulating the delicate fabric of time.”

“Time’s not all that delicate. Sure I can’t go running around like some shithead bull in a china shop. Not the least because what kind of dumbass even buys a china these days? Unless you’re like a grandma that specifically wants plates that you’ll never ever eat off of.”

“The market for ephemeral trinkets will forever stand as long as the elderly have money to throw at it.”

“Exactly. And you’ve got Eunice and Mildred over here flipping out that they missed a stitch in the timeline, but I don’t stress that shit because I don’t do needles. That’s your thing. Mine is swords. Hacking that shit to pieces like a psycho lumberjack.”

“Wouldn’t that be axes?”

“Shit, you’re right. Oh well, if you can think someone whose job it is to swing around swords, I can sub that in no problem.”

“Unfortunately, I cannot. This half-baked metaphor will have to stand as is.”

“Okay, okay. Let’s just stop before this train of thought gets too retarded.”

“Alright.”

The ceaseless patter of rain filled the silence between them. Rose followed Dave’s gaze out through the stained window, trying to peer past the swirling patterns so she could see the planet’s chalky landscape. It reminded her of a fantasy world, mythology, Calypso and her island (what did it look like? Was there alabaster sands and golden clouds that let loose the colors of the rainbow in their showers?). Calypso loved Odysseus and wanted him to spend eternity with her. For seven years she held him, but in the end, she had to let him go. Fate had other plans for him and she couldn’t hold him back any longer.

“If you really must be going…”

Her lips brushed against his. No response from his end. Like trying to romance a mannequin, or perhaps one of his brother’s puppets. She tried again, but this time he reciprocated. Hungrily, he pressed into her and she had to catch herself before she fell over backwards. Holding onto him for support, she threw herself into him, her breasts flattened against his chest. Scattered gasps for breath squeaked past whatever minuscule gaps were left between their sealed, sucking lips.

This was far from their first kiss, but both would agree this was the most passionate. Over the last four months, they had struck up a relationship of sorts. Being the last two remaining humans in the universe may have helped to nudge them in that direction. They flirted, kissed, and bumbled along the awkward path of young courtship. They never took it any further and they liked it that way. Hesitancy, a reluctance to expose themselves, and countless other self-imposed reasons stayed their hands and prevented them from making things too serious. It was better to be complacent than risk hurting themselves. But with impending doom encroaching on at least one of them, there were precious few excuses either of them could make for not taking things all the way.

He wanted this.

She wanted this.

Though both of their efforts were concerned with the kiss, they were somehow able to partially disrobe enough for the act to take place. The zipper fell down Dave’s pants, Rose’s skirt was hiked up and her panties stretched to the side. They met and connected, sinking closer into each other until their trembling, distracted forms pressed together. They were one. Even with her eyes glued shut, Rose’s vision was full of stars. She forced them open long enough to pluck off Dave’s shades, but he didn’t seem to notice or care. Two smoldering coals, flushed with the color of freshly drawn blood, pierced her until she shut her eyes again. She nestled her face in the nape of his neck. His scent, a vinegar-like pungency of darkroom chemicals and a whiff of still-hot ash, seeped into her nostrils.

Her nails raked his back, like a scared cat digging its claws into him. Dave knew enough about cats despite not owning any himself, mostly residual knowledge from Rose prattling on about her own cat at him. When a cat has its claws stuck in you, you’re supposed to hold them tighter. It’s the same kind of counter-intuitive logic as a Chinese finger trap. They need to be assured that they have support and don’t need to hold on for dear life. He hugged her close, tightening his grip and keeping her stable. She still wouldn’t release him. Perhaps she really would die if she let him go. Maybe he couldn’t keep living if she did.

The bed frame groaned under their combined weight. Both of them needed to restrain themselves from letting their crazed, gnarled fingers from tearing the other’s clothes to shreds. The rain on glass fades to static underneath the frenzied racket of gasps, curses, and moans. The point of connection between their bodies spasmed more and more frequently, the friction of the moving parts setting their nerves ablaze. Rose came first, because of course she did. Her body wasn’t strong enough to fight against years’ worth of back and forth foreplay. She gushed out all at once, her eyes spinning in their sockets while her quivering muscles ached and pulsed all around him.

It was only a few seconds after letting her strangle his length like it owed her money that Dave’s climax arrived. And like a gentleman he pulled out. He released on the bed sheets, but dirty linen wasn't the most important thing on her mind at the moment. After they fixed their clothes and smoothed themselves out, they resumed their seated postures on the bedside as if nothing happened. The rain continued to pour, unmoved by their actions.

“We shouldn’t have done that,” Dave hissed.

“You didn’t enjoy it then?”

“No, I fucking loved it. That’s the problem. I don’t even know if I can leave after that. How will I be able to bring this up with you? I mean, the you in the new timeline.”

“If I know myself as much as I’d hope to, I’m sure she’ll take the news well. It may be foolish to think, but I’d like to imagine that a small fragment of me will continue to exist in my alternate self.”

“That’s cool. I hope that’s the case and you do end up remembering everything that happened here. I don’t want to be flapping my jaw about any recap shit. It’d be awkward as hell to have to keep this info on lockdown.”

“I hope so too.”

She leaned against his solid shoulder. To her surprise, his hand curled around her hip and squeezed it. It made her smile. With Armageddon surrounding them, their entire reality about to wither into the void, she was safe. As long as he was touching her, their bodies joined as one, she could endure the existential terror of a doomed existence. None of it mattered as long as she could hold him to her. The only source of happiness she had in this defunct world. She wished she could freeze this moment in perpetuity, but his muscles shifted away and he was standing up. His hand left her hip and she chased it, clamping it between her fingers.

“Don’t.” The word came out in a hushed gasp. Her grip tightened. He stared at her, his fiery eyes displaying no outward emotion. No anger, no pity. He was an inscrutable wall that she couldn’t read no matter how much she wanted to. Blood rushed to her pale cheeks and she felt incredibly silly, but she couldn’t let go.

“I have to.”

“Yes, I know.” Her fingers slackened and his wrist slid away from her like running water. “I just gave you the most important thing a girl has to offer anyone.” A rueful chuckle slipped past her lips. “I should have figured you would be the type to shoot and run.”

Dave’s mouth twitched itself into a sympathetic smile. Kneeling down, he looked directly into those pretty violet eyes. “Sorry about that. I promise I’ll make it up to you once I go back. Because, again, you’re totally not going to die.”

The words rang hollow in her ears, but she forced a smile in return. “If you insist. Goodbye, Dave.”

“Don’t say goodbye. It’s more like, see you later.”

“Until then.”

He leaned in at the same time she did. One final kiss. Her skin felt like it was being ripped from her mouth as his lips separated from hers. Standing upright, he turned around and skulked back toward the window. His body faded into a murky shadow with the saturated rain radiating off it like a primary colored halo. He summoned his twin time tables to his sides and with a flash of red-white lightning, he was gone. His body heat lingered in that spot for a few seconds before the overbearing chill extinguished it. The full light of the outside shone in full force without his body blocking the way, illuminating the empty room she was stranded in. He was gone and had hurt her one last time. She could only hope that somehow he was right and she’d somehow live on through another self. She’d gladly let him hurt her more if that was the case.

Streaks of his spent seed still soiled the sheets. She leaned close, her nose hovering above the mess, and inhaled. It reeked of bleach mixed with pancake batter, but also of him. The last traces of his scent lingered within the fluid, but the pungent miasma put her at a distance. She lifted her legs onto the bed and curled up at the head of it, holding herself tightly like a scared child. Dave’s words still echoed in her ears: don’t over think it. Maybe if she kept her mind blank and didn’t think of anything at all, she could fall asleep easier.

With the closing of her eyelids, the void enveloped her. Her Light was snuffed out. Like being carried out to sea, the gap between her consciousness and body widened in steady waves. Maybe, just maybe, he was right and eventually she’d be carried a light at the end of it all. One that will lead her back to him. All she could do was fool her mind into thinking he was still beside her. His arms around her as they drifted towards oblivion.



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