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Of Nihilism and Nuance, Cerulean

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It's been about a month since you've met her, and you definitely have not been going over to her hive to hang out with her because you pity her. Not that it would make sense for you to pity her., since evidently you’re of the lowest of the low in this fuck shit caste society. No, you went over to Ardata’s hive because you figured she needed a genuine companion after she had opened up to you when you two met. You had no idea what it was like to be a highblood in this alien world, but the way this poor girl described her miserable life to you seemed to hit you right in the empathetic spot. You could sort of see what was happening with her, with the whole "I have to be mean & do cruel and unusual things despite having moral disconnections with it in order to not be killed because of my hereditary involuntarily decided social ranking" thing. It reminded you of some Earth movies you've seen, and hearing about these types of scenarios in real life was a bit mind-shattering.

Of course, between visits to her hive, you've made other friends & gone to many other places. You met Amisia, the cute yet ferocious painter whom you involuntarily made a donation of your rare candy red blood too. Next you met Cirava, whom you vibed with and listened to their difficult life problems that were similar to Ardata's, though they seemed more chill about it compared to her. Maybe it was because you both were high as shit. Anyway, they also got you some "tasty threadz", which you've since replaced with a robe from your eccentric new friend Tagora, who "helped" you with legal coverage following an automobile accident, plus he let you use his ablutiontrap. He also let you use some of his fancy rainbow drinker lotion, which helped with your remaining sun rash from an experience that resulted in meeting another wonderful lady friend called Skylla, whom you helped save her lusus from kidnappers. After that you stumbled into the caverns and met a pretty jadeblood girl named Bronya, who gave you a nice checkup and reassured you that your injuries and pain from your crash-landing will cease. You recall the moments of bliss with a fond smile rearing itself upon your cheeks. Those are just some of the friendship memories you’ve made so far, and you can’t wait to make more. But now you're here, about to visit your first friend again.

To reiterate, you didn’t do this because you pitied her. If she ever thought that was your intention, she’d probably throw you out on your ass. But you really loved going to her hive and sitting on the loungeplank directly beside her, the floral aroma of her soft raven hair gracing your nose and her black painted lips moving, fangs catching the gentle moonlight of her dim hive. She spilled all of her woes to you until she was a fragile and feeble husk; she was a different girl when she was vulnerable, and you assumed that only you were allowed to see her like that. It makes you feel special, your bloodpusher does a little tingly flip-flop thing in your chest when you think about her. Ardata was the first person you’d met here, who largely desensitized you to the horrors of Alternian society. And despite that, you found yourself consistently coming back for more of her.

It's a nice place, Ardata's side of town. Really fancy compared to some other places and neighbourhoods you've been to. Most of Alternia is a real shithole, particularly the bad parts of Outglut where you’ve met a decent number of friends (typically of lower caste, but you can’t judge). It reminds you of your childhood neighborhood, and it surprisingly provides a strange sense of comfort despite its toughness.

You walk up her hive's steps and firmly knock on her door. Scuttling noises seep out from inside. Her tick lusus opens the towering door slowly and you step in. The hive's floor looks like it once was pristine, but it hasn't been cleaned in quite a while, so it’s all stained up and grimy with things you probably never have even heard of, probably.
"iii'm iiin the nutriiitiiionblock, (y/n)." You hear a deep, noblewoman's voice ring through the hive. You walk reservedly through the foyer and into the livingblock. Her tick lusus closes the heavy door and scuttles away quickly. You walk through the living room until you get to the threshold of the nutritionblock to see Ardata sitting at the table in contemplation, begrudgingly offering you a gentle and pained closed-lip smile. The array of meat hooks and troll horn-based memorabilia and tools is comfortingly familiar to you, as you get lost in the memories, recalling the last time you set foot in her nutritionblock. The stench of dried blood, dust and mold stings in your nose, but you refuse to recoil physically in preservation of Ardata’s feelings.

"siiit down." She says, harshly. You comply, and she uses her psychic power to pull out a chair for you to sit on. You wince slightly at her coldness. Usually she wouldn’t be this curt, but she seems extra bitter. You ache at the feeling of her being sad, and there’s that feeling in your bloodpusher again, this time more intense and emanating in your bones.
She sighs. There is silence for a few seconds. The air is wrung with thick tension. You hope to catch her piercing gaze, but all three of her eyes are swept to the side that isn’t looking at you, her mouth daintily pressed into a feminine scowl. She breaks the silence finally with her silky voice.
"iii don't much know what to do lately. everythiiing has been so much more stressful. and the amount of shiiitblood kiiids for me to capture to satiiisfy the world's gapiiing, soulless, bloodthiiirsty diiiet has been decreasiiing." You let her metaphor sink in and keep quiet, not offering any words of advice yet. You want to let her vent. It's what you usually do when you're over.

"iiit's that juggalo and her iiindiiigo pet, iiisn't it?" She spits the words, gritting her fangs in disgust. "amiiisiiia." She growls. Oh boy. Amisia. Like your friend, Amisia? Surely there can't be more than one girl named Amisia here, and Ardata mentions that she's indigo, which you remember about her from when you became her friend.
"takiiing all the fuckiiing lowbloods so she can make her preciiious paiiint for her shiiitty art." You want to be empathetic, but one of your friends is shitting on the other. It shocks you with discomfort, so you decide to change the subject.
You inquire, "Who is the juggalo?"
She snorts at the inquisition, characteristically. "chahut maenad. iii suppose iii can't have TOO much agaiiinst her. she's one of the hiiighest esteemed members of the miiirthful church, also she’s tall as shiiit and could probably stomp me iiinto the diiirt..." Ardata trails off, zoning out. She’s talking about how Chahut could kill her mercilessly, but her tone is somewhat… lustful? like she would enjoy being killed by this juggalo woman. It intrigues you. But it seems weird to ask about.
"iii haven't met her, yet. she's pretty popular, especiiially iiin the whole busiiiness around culliiing, and when you're competiiing for lowbloods to make paiiint wiiith and use for other thiiings, such as maiiimiiing for the world to watch, the hiiigher bloods usually get them before anyone else." You vaguely understand. The fancier your blood, the more choice & supply you get when it comes to less fancier people to cull and use for whatever they wish.
"iiit's just kiiind of hard to do, what iii don't even want to do iiin the FIIIRST place, iiin order to not get culled. iii can't even go out to fiiind lowbloods anymore siiince they're supriiisiiingly scarce because of them." She sighs and lowers her head. She rubs her temples feverishly, and you so badly want to place a hand on her shoulder to soothe her.
Actually, what’s stopping you? You’ve known her for long enough.
In a swift motion you lower your arm to rest a hot palm gently on her right shoulder. It shocks her, and she startles up, a cerulean flush appearing on her cheeks.
It’s adorable.
She closes her eyes and places a hand on yours, and her skin is rough and so freezing cold. It saddens you deeply. She grabs your hand & places it on her icy cheek, your pinky snaking around her ear and touching her lovely hair, your thumb on her cheek just below her eye, as she leans into your touch. She lets out a contented sigh, and she appears to be drawing lots of pleasure from this simple motion of kindness. Friendliness? At this point, you're not sure it’s just friendliness. Touching her like this feels so fucking good, in a way that simply holding someone’s cheek never had felt at home. It’s extremely pleasurable, and you can feel your own cheeks turn pink and hot at the sensation. It feels as if you’re engaging in something scandalous with her, but it’s just a simple touch. Alien life and their romantic culture must have changed you by now; your Earth friends were always touchy, but HERE nobody ever laid a finger on one another except when they thought nobody was looking. This realization makes your insides feel fuzzy as you think about how intimate she is being with you.
You don’t ever want to let go of her cool flesh, warming it with your touch as her matte black lips curl up into an innocent smile and she lets out a soft purr. This noise startles her, and she opens up her ganderbulbs in embarrassment as her face flushes even darker.

She’s so touch starved, it hurts you.

She stands, clears her mealtunnel, and you remove your hand from her cheek. Ardata smooths her skirt as if what you were just doing with her was unprofessional.
"thank you for liiisteniiing to me vent ever so often. iiit makes me feel a lot better." She opens up to you. Wow. This girl is really fond of you. You recall when you two had first met, and how messy it was, mostly because she had a hell of a lot going on that kinda was piled on you quite suddenly. You snap out of your reverie and compare its contents to your current relationship with Ardata.
"iii've really come to thiiink of you as..."

She pauses for a bit. Your heart pulses fast. You’re anticipating ‘friiiend’, but part of you hopes for her to say something else. Something more. You selfishly hope she either doesn’t finish her sentence, or that she says she loves you more than a friend.

"...one of the only people iii can talk to, really." She speaks erratically, like she was changing up what she was going to say originally. Your eyes widen. She looks up at you and straightens her posture.

"now." She flashes her gorgeous devilish grin and crosses her arms. "why don't you make us diiinner?" She asks.
You sigh. The moment of tenderness between you two is finally over, and it saddens you. She mind controls you to get up and push in the chair. You levitate, but it's not towards the stove or the fridge. She lets you down right by her. She looks at you. Your face gets bright red under her hot glare. Your eyes are locked with her top 2 eyes. Her eyes are a gorgeously dark ocean blue and they seem to shine like pearls in the murky lighting of her hive. She smiles at you, but this time it seems authentic, not devilish.
"Do you, uh, still want me to make you dinner?" You ask moronically as your cheeks flush red. Embarrassing.
"no, iii want somethiiing better." She says cryptically, as she stands and takes your hand in her cold palms. She leads you out of the kitchen. You seize in her grasp as your mind starts to wander. Oh god. Are you ready for this kind of shit? You've never really done this before. Calm down, don’t get ahead of yourself.

She takes you down the high-ceilinged hallway to her respiteblock, where her recuperacoon sits in the corner of the room. It smells more gentle than the rest of the house, like rose hips and soft vanilla. It’s very pleasant, and it cuts through the musk of the dried blood nicely. Her tick lusus comes in. Okay, weird. You assumed lusii were like parents... and if you two were to... that's really...

Ardata's tick lusus sits down on the floor behind Ardata. She sits on it. "before iii met you, iii really had no iiidea how to cope with anything, really." she starts, averting her glare.

Here it comes.

"iii used to hurt myself because iii thought there was no way out of my professiiion. iii know iii'll be culled iiif iii'm not my onliiine persona. the truth iiis, iii don't liiike beiiing thiiis siiiniiister, but iii have to be. iii don't really want to diiie. at tiiimes when iii get liiike this, iii'll usually hurt myself. but somethiiing about you..." She pauses, and you look into her eyes meaningfully. "...makes me not want to be destructiiive. iiit makes me feel liiike there's somethiiing worth liiiviiing for, even iiif iii have to work a shiiitty job. so, um..." She stops talking and gulps. Your bloodpusher skips a throb.

"would you... want to be iiin my quads?"

The words you’d longed to hear for so fucking long.

“Of course."

You gasp, and she grasps your hand. She smiles sweetly, and then stands, breaking her smile into a sullen, sunken expression. It saddens you ever deeper now, knowing that she’s pale for you.
"now how about that diiinner?" She asks, dropping the mind control. You walk back to the kitchen with the tick lusus on your own will.

You open the fridge. There are some eggs in there, so you decide to make an omelette. You take them out and crack them in a bowl. You stir them with a spiky fork, and once they're all yolk, you pour them into a frying pan. You look in a cabinet of hers to see some herbs. She might consider you a good cook if you get fancy with some spices, another reason why you would be a good quadrantmate. You see what looks like alien parsley and you add it to the eggs in the pan. When they look fried enough, you flip it.

It's... slightly burned. But only slightly, it should be okay. Once it looks done, you set it on a plate and season it with the alien parsley. Ardata comes through the hallway and sees the plate in her spot.
"grublette, huh? well done." She says, smirking.
She sits down at her spot and you grab a fork & knife from the counter. You feed her the "grublette". Once she is done eating, she asks if you want anything to eat. You shake your head, your appetite very low from anxiety. "are you sure?" You promise her that you are fine.

It then hits you. You weren’t being psychically forced by Ardata to make that grublette. You’ve managed to memorize how she likes her food, and you even fed it to her without even thinking about it. It fills you with a sense of intimacy, like you’re part of a secret club consisting only of the people who Ardata allows herself to get personal with, but you’re the only member. Your face turns pink at the realization.

 

The tick lusus leads you to the door, and the dark and dreary outside world is soaked in a pitch black glow.

"Thank you for letting me come, Ardata." You say sweetly to her.
She smiles sincerely. "hope to see you agaiiin sometiiime soon, my sweet. come by whenever." The tender words from her tired lips make your lips turn up uncontrollably into a dumb grin.
Just as you're about to walk out the door, the tick walks in front of you and you nearly trip over it.
"What-" You mumble.
You levitate suddenly, the psychic link now back between you two, and you flip around. She pulls you closer with her mind and plants a black kiss softly on your cheek. Her lips are surprisingly warm and so ridiculously soft. You wish the moment could just last forever, it’s such a wonderful sensation.
She pulls away and smiles at you sinisterly again. You wonder just how she’s so effortlessly elegant and charming. It’s stunning, and you're entranced in the high you get from her blueberry kiss.

"off with you, now." You back away, out of the door, stunned. The tick closes the door behind you, and you hear scuttling away inside. You walk slowly down the steps of her hive and walk down the sidewalk, away from your new quadrantmate’s house. Winning her love makes you feel bubbly and floaty inside as you prance down the dark streets, alien trees lurching over you in a magenta canopy as the moon’s pouring indigo light washes your pain away.

She’s sweet and misunderstood. And you really love her for it.