Summary: They've got memories of lives they haven't lived in this lifetime, and deaths they've never died, but mostly, they've got each other.
Characters: Eridan, Rose, Dave, mentions of Feferi, Kanaya, John, and Jade.
Ships: Eridan<>Rose, vaguely implied Dave<3Rose.
Tags Present: incest (implied only).
Tags Not Used: none
No other Cat.1 tags apply.
Tags Present: drugs: tabacco, character death.
Tags Not Used: none
No other Cat.2 tags apply.
Ballad of the Star
It wasn’t the moon you hated. It was the secret song it sang, the drunken pixie dust it scattered in its wake of insincere dreams and short-winded ambitions. Because every night you waited, lying face down on the glassy silence, cheeks pressed against the cold and the dark. You couldn’t see the stars for all that they were crushing you. They were plummeting in fire, stealing breath after breath of stale air as you stared into the cold, cold moon. And waited. Waited for the impassive dawn, when you would run forward and reach. And with long white fingers…
They say that there are those who fall, burning white as a dying star, crashing into darkness. You have been slipping all your life. But anyway. Your name is Eridan Ampora, and you have found your star.
She walks in shimmering splendor, wavering as heat does, a goddess of vitality. Spring wells up beneath her feet, spills over, wraps in, around, and tucks itself firmly beneath your ribs. Her brother walks on her right side, all solid presence to her intangibility. You walk on her left, the moon with the sickly glimmer of unconscious hope. It seems petty and doomed next to the star and the sun.
“Put in the simplest terms, your humor is approximately as half-baked as I feel under this heat. Front shoulder up, dearest.”
“Sister, darling, do you think you need to correct me on... oh, fine. Whatever. Actually, not whatever. I don’t know. What even... it’s as if you think you could’ve taken on Ted Ray and Harry Vardon with your oh-so-God-given talents at this worthless game. Wouldn’t you say, Eridan? Absolutely worthless. I could come up with so many...”
Rose’s lips curl upward under her wide-brimmed hat, and her whole body screams “eye roll.” You sigh. Her brother can certainly be the windiest of windbags.
“Just take the damn shot already.”
“Fine, but Rose knows where to put her advice.”
“If you want to pitch your ball out of that most unfortunate lie, you’re going to have to raise your shoulder.”
Dave digs his iron firmly into the sand at his side and leans on it. “Sister, I believe there is only one expert on the course this afternoon. Now watch as I serve this ball right in for a bull’s-eye.”
“I am taking notes ever-so-studiously as I mark you up for a penalty.”
“Your club is in the sand, brother.”
You lick your lips and taste the lemon sweet on your tongue. You want to take their heat and turn it around and drink it up, this life force that seems stronger than blood. But you’re all cracked at the edges. So you settle for the feeling of her fingers tentatively wrapping around yours. You shock her with your lightning; she fills you with her light. And when Dave puts his hands on Rose’s and your’s, for that moment you create a circle of nearly unbearable energy. Rose smiles, kisses both of you on the cheek, and sighs. Her breath is an autumn wind that you wish you could catch in a jar. You just know that it would sit glowing on your desk, forever and always preserved as the essence of the star you so love.
“There’s a party being held in honor of Francis Ouimet tonight. He won’t be attending, that is.” Her lips curl sardonically, mocking her culture and New York-style living. “But I’m sure we’ll find a way to pay some twisted sort of homage to his victory during the course of the night nonetheless. Won’t you come, Eridan?”
You smile as you feel yourself shriveling. “Of course,” you answer, and you both know you won’t, but for the moment you lock arms and believe the lie.
Eridan: Go to the party
You’re terrible at loving. You’re terrible at hating. Her lips are tyrian purple and so’s her dress, and oh God don’t you deserve her, she doesn’t deserve you, and Rose doesn’t deserve you, and why does it always have to come back to the star when all you want, for just a little while, is the blackest night. You run out again, and you don’t stop running, away from the noise and the fire and the constant slipping and you need it to stop, stop right now before you lose everything. You’re in a world you were never meant to be in, and you wonder why having the friendship of a girl need the most feels so wrong. You were never meant to have it, the peace that she gives you and the calm and the silence. Here in the darkness. Here in the darkness...
Rage. Power unbridled, hope shattered, and betrayal. Betrayal so strong it mummifies and wraps and constricts and twists. At the water’s edge you feel it twisting, powerful tentacles that tear you into pieces. There’s one now, in the corner of your vision... now here, now gone. You start to see them behind Rose now and then, but she shines on, stubbornly. Until that night when everything changes.
Elegy of the Sun
Eridan: Be with Rose
Rose is quiet. Her needles move in tandem with a heartbeat, yours and hers. You sit beside her. Your thighs are touching.
“It’ll be cold soon,” she says quietly.
“Yes; only six months.”
Rose ignores your sarcasm. She holds up her project with a dismissive air. If you could create, you would never be so detached. “It’s a scarf,” she says matter-of-factly.
“Is it?” you ask with a mockingly weary sigh. She smiles charmingly back at you.
“Sparkling as always, Eridan.” She loops the half-made scarf around your neck and keeps on knitting. You slump and give yourself up to the not-so-terrible fate of another long evening in Rose’s parlor.
Dave bursts into the room, gives you a glance, and starts muttering, whether to you or himself you’ve no idea. He seems agitated. Something tastes bitter in your mouth.
“Staff in bed for the night?” He shoves his hands in his pockets and stares at something in the middle of the room.
“Yes, except for my maid.”
“Well, tell her to leave well alone.”
“She’s likely heard.”
“Excellent.” He begins furiously tamping tobacco into a pipe.
“Hey, open a window,” you snap. You half rise from your seat. Maybe it’s anger, or maybe it’s worry.
“Nonsense,” Rose answers. “We’ll all catch a chill.” She leans over and puts her hand on your shoulder. You ease back into the cushion.
“Rose,do I smoke?”
“Oh. Then why do we have this blasted thing?”
“I admit, I am a woman of filthy habits.”
“...Oh.” He stares at her. He didn’t really hear her. “Do I drink coffee?”
“No, I don’t believe so.”
“Then what on heaven and earth does a man do to relax in this household?” He stomps his foot, bares his teeth. An animal in agony. He never gets like this.
“Do you need to relax?”
“I only ask because you’re usually so... well.”
“Oh, very well.” She sets down her needles and stands up, scratching the back of her neck. She takes off Dave’s jacket. “You spend your nights out tampering with that infernal time machine of yours in the stables.”
“Don’t you think I know that, woman, I just came in!”
“Yes, and I’d appreciate it if you don’t sit on the furniture until you’ve washed up.”
“I don’t intend to wash up, I intend to...” He stomps in circles around the parlor, a man fey, a man possessed. Watching him, you can only feel as though he’s racing to a fate you can’t discern. The sun, too, is sinking. And it stings, it really stings, because you know what being left feels like. Somehow...
“I thought you were supposed to be the Prince of Hope? How is it hopeful to surrender to a murderous demon like a COWARD???”
“Dave, you’re acting like...” Rose reaches out and puts a hand on his shoulder, pulling him back to her. He turns around and shakes his head at her, eyes sad, eyes scared.
“Rose, I swear, something isn’t right. This machine...”
“I know. It’s frivolous and dangerous. You can just stop. Man doesn’t possess the ability to travel through the vortex of time. Or, at least, he shouldn’t.”
He turns his head away, bows it low. Low and soft, you can hear him chuckling. “I know, right? No shit!”
“Because last time we did, we lost them!”
“John and Jade!” He lets out a shrill, hysterical shriek... or is it supposed to be a laugh? You stand up, wrapped all around in Rose’s scarf. You take one step, another, another. Dave, he isn’t even laughing anymore. Croaking... screeching... cawing. You grab him fierce around the shoulders. He shrugs you off, so strong you stumble back. The eyes he turns on you are hateful.
Rose throws a ball of yarn at his head.
“Sorry... what was I?”
Rose nods at you, a silent question. You nod back. I’m alright. She smiles warmly at Dave, but it doesn’t work, not on you. You know her every foot tap, every finger flick. “Looks like rain,” she observes coolly.
“That’s what I was hoping,” Dave answers. “Because it’s finished, Rose. It’s...”
You hear a faint rumble, distant, but for some reason, it reminds you of those times when you were a child. You hid under blankets with the girl in front of you, fear gnawing on your gut. Fear is what you feel now. More than anything, you need her.
The wind picks up as Dave hurries you outside. The rain spits on your cheeks as he shoves you both in the stables and wheels his contraption into the open air. And he stands out there. Just stands out there.
“He’ll come in soon,” Rose assures you, “and then we can all go to bed.” You swell with anger because she’s always the one who lies for you. She’s always the one to comfort, even when she needs it more. She never asks, though, and you don’t know how to give.
“You could always just sit here with me.”
Yeah. She does that a lot.
You wake up with Rose snuggled against your shoulder and Dave tapping your forehead. “Excuse you,” you grumble. You gently shake Rose awake. It’s pouring outside; there’s lightning and thunder. Honestly, you’ve got no idea as to how you fell asleep. As you both stumble outside, lightning shreds the sky. Dave looks up at the clouds, calculating and smooth and unruffled, the true Dave again. That doesn’t seem to rid the sky of the lightning swords hanging over his head. Then he steps slowly up his makeshift stairs to a small red platform in the shape of a cog. A weather vane in the center spins wildly. He grips this with both hands. There are four lightning rods around the contraption, but they look strange, with spheres on the tops that seem to glow with an unearthly light. As the wind forces him to bend and sway, you think he’s so rigid he just might break in half.
“Dave Strider, this is ungodly! I won’t have you waste our time on your supernatural-”
You’re blinded and deafened and shattered to pieces, and you scream and it chokes you. You cling to Rose so that you don’t launch into the sky.
Everything’s gone. There’s nothing to see but fire and nothing to hear but Rose screaming.
In the next few months, you see less and less of Rose. She’s leaving you, drawing the jagged thorn out sweet and slow. She spends her days on her knees, poking and prodding at the machine. She spends her nights with you, eyes so spent on books and papers that she barely sees you for the ceiling above her bed. She thinks she’s tired.
You think she’s dying.
You realize she is. She won’t have anything to do with a world without her brother. Without her love. So you help her. You help her rebuild her machine, rebuild her hope, and rebuild her light. In these months, you don’t exchange many words. Your relationship enters an autumnal silence, a season of slowed breathing and companionable solitude. You hold your breath for the snippy Rose, the sassy Rose, the Rose who will give you anything and everything. But she seems to enjoy the quiet, so you curl your tongue and work.
She figures the lightning idea was foolish and decidedly flashy - but then again, it was Dave. You’re going with steam power instead.
And then it’s done. And then she starts it.
And then, again, something goes wrong.
Fugue of the Moon
You have descended. And there is no one here.
You take to talking to yourself. Or, talking to someone you no longer remember.
“Words. Words calm Rose down.”
Words itch at the back of Rose’s neck. Her neck itches and her hands itch and her wrists itch and the part of her brain that tells her to turn around itches. But you know that Rose never looks back.
“Who is Rose?”
Rose doesn’t look back. Behind her there is sulfur and burning and as her friends peel the fire from their faces she...
You don’t look back. In one life, you become a righteous tower of salt, but in most, you never once looked behind you.
You can’t. You don’t even know which way is up.
Memories cram themselves into your head. You are Rose Lalonde, and you lost your friends that time. Eridan tried to fight the grimdark. You were best friends.
You killed him, too.
It happens one day when you’re walking through your old bedchamber. A dusty mirror in the back of the room, next to the table you used to sit at, shows the reflection of a memory. A memory of another lifetime.
You close your eyes and put your forehead to the glass, but jump back when it burns. Eridan sits at the table in your reflection. His eyes are red.
“Eridan,” you sigh.
He jumps up from the table and looks around. “Rose?” he calls in a whisper that’s rough and rapturous.
You frown. “I... I’m here. Can you hear me?”
“Can you see me? I’m in the mirror.”
He turns around. Then Eridan Ampora bursts into tears.
You do. What you say isn’t even that important. He says it’s been less than five days. You say it’s been longer than a year. You say you suspect you are now traveling along a divergent timeline, slightly overlapping with Eridan’s, which is why you can talk to each other. You don’t know much about these things, you say. He says you’re talking differently than you used to.
You scratch the back of your neck. It’s hard remembering two lifetimes.
Then he says something that makes you regret ever having lived one.
“Rose, that girl at the party the other night...”
“Hm? Which one?”
“The U.S. Open one.”
“Ah, yes. Which girl?”
“The purple one. I... I think I knew her.”
“Really? Then why didn’t you say hello, instead of snarling at her?”
“Because... because she... because I... Rose, I swear, I swear, I... killed her. I think I killed her, but I can’t remember... killing...”
You bite your lip. It’s a habit of yours. “Neither did I, Eridan. But...”
You stop. You’re selfish. He doesn’t know, and you won’t let him.
You find out it’s other reflective surfaces, too, like your bedroom mirror and the pond in Eridan’s garden. So the two of you meet. And you talk. It’s not that often for you; time moves slowly here, but faster than Eridan’s time. Sometimes, he says, he catches you in a whirlwind of action, when you’ve been talking for too long. He has to watch you age before his eyes. That’s when he has the hardest time controlling his face. When you see his lips curl, you tend to run away so he doesn’t have to see, but you have to wonder what it’s like from week to week, as you grow older year by year.
He remembers, slowly. He tells you about Feferi and you reminisce about Kanaya. Finally, he remembers his murder, the dream bubbles, and the end of all things.
You’re sitting on the bridge above the pond. You toss sticks and leaves into the water and watch them burn. You learned twenty years ago that nothing crosses the bridge between your timelines. Eridan comes to you, crying from the memories crammed inside his head.
“I know. I know. I’m sorry.”
“You’re getting so old.”
“Nonsense, Eridan. I’m only forty.”
“I’m still twenty five.”
There’s a silence that stretches on forever. Then: “We died.”
“I killed you.”
“Yeah.” He puts his face in his hands, rubs his eyes. “I can’t do this anymore. I want to go home.”
“We can’t. Even our ghosts are dead now. Lord English...”
“I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED! I’m not stupid, I just can’t live here anymore! I’m repulsive! Look at me!”
“LOOK AT ME! You have to pay attention, you have to listen to me, and just PLEASE, Rose! Look at me!”
“...I am. I see my friend. I see my... my moirail. That’s all I see. Not a troll, and not a human. You’re just you, Eridan, even though you’ve never been able to accept it.”
He chokes. He sobs. “I just can’t watch you...”
“You don’t have to.” You poke the water with a stick. It burns. “I could jump.”
“Then I will, too.”
You shrug. “Okay.”
He scowls and you know he’s trying to get you to change your mind without begging. He wants you to fix all this and for the first... no, second time, you don’t know how. “A friend would try to stop me.”
“No. A friend would let you choose whether you want to slaughter the angels.” You clamber atop the bridge and stand on the railing. You don’t move. You barely breathe.
“You always talk me down. It’s what you do. Don’t you even care enough about me to do that anymore?”
“You’re right. I did. And you always dragged me forward. But we’re not going forward anymore. We’ve stopped. We’re dead. I’ve lived out my life. It’s up to you, Eridan, it really is, I’m not lying. You can have your choice. That’s my love. That’s my blessing.”
“I want... I want to move again. Please, Rose, I just want to be with you. You’re the only one who ever visited me in the dream bubbles.”
“Others may come. Will you want to meet them?”
“No. Let them be frozen. Let them have their chance. I’ve had mine, and I’m more sick than I ever was.”
“We won’t ever go back to that place, you know.”
“I know. Take me home... Ros.”