A/N: (c/n) = course name.
Contains swearing. As per usual.
What was he doing here? Back in his hometown. He had thought that he’d left it all for the glamour of the capital cities and the rhythmic beating of the night scene. But he here he was, back in the quaint suburbs he had grown up in. This nostalgia he was feeling was less than ironic. Pushing his round shades further up, he exhaled and walked. He wondered if his old friends were still around – John, Rose, and Jade… The last he’d heard, Rose and Kanaya were on the brink of getting together. It’s about damn time, too.
(name) had betted that they would. Women’s intuition, she had said, with a glint in her eye.
He breathed out, his usually stoic features twisted with emotion. Rose had told him that she’d decided to head to their local university to study (c/n). She hadn’t been too keen on leaving the ‘burb, preferring to stay close to her friends. And… probably, she hadn’t been all too keen on following her ex-boyfriend to the city. Dave raked a hand through his platinum blonde hair, the corners of his red eyes creased, eyebrows knitted together. He didn’t know whether he was dreading or looking forward to seeing her again.
“Dave!” A female voice.
He turned around and was greeted by the familiar smile of his sister. “’sup?” He replied, watching her intently through his sunglasses.
“It’s nice to see you again,” Rose said, as she gestured for them to continue walking. “How’s your music coming along?”
“Fine.” Dave paused. “How’s (name)?”
The girl blinked – surprised and a little concerned – but replied nonetheless. “Well… she was a little shaken up by the termination of your relationship… but she’s fine now, I believe.” Rose chewed her lower lip and shrugged. (name) was a close friend of hers, and it had been difficult situation when Dave had broken up with her. For all of them, really. And she had a feeling – deep within the pits of her stomach – that it was still as delicate a topic as ever. “John and Jade are looking forward to seeing you again,” Rose said, steering the conversation away from her sibling’s ex. “Do you want to go see them? I think they’re down at the beach having a party of sorts.”
Dave raised an eyebrow. “For what?”
“Oh, for… ah, for (name)’s birthday.”
“Well, there’s no real rush to see John and Jade – even though it would be lovely for them. You must be feeling tired from the trip down here.”
“No. It’s fine. We’ll go see Dave and Jade.”
“Are you sure?”
“Did I fucking stutter?”
“All right. But do be mindful of the situation, Dave.”
[Fifteen minutes later.]
The pair arrived at the beach fifteen minutes later. It was fairly crowded, and it reminded Dave of just how sweltering it was. He should have come down during the winter months. Rose shielded her eyes from the sun, and pointed towards a group in the distance. A large, rainbow umbrella was stuck into the sand. A rather good landmark, if anything.
“There they are,” she announced. “Come on, we don’t want to miss the festivities.”
Dave swallowed, and shoved in his hands into the pockets of his pants. How was he going to face (name)? No. He straightened up and tilted his head back. Confidence. Cool. None of this nervous bullshit. Of course, that faltered when he spotted (name) near the water’s edge. She was wearing a striped halter dress, and he spied a matching bikini underneath.
“Dave!” Running up the sand, John waved at the blonde, a dorky grin on his face. An out-of-breath Jade followed suit and gave Dave an amicable smile. “You should totally join us,” Jade chimed, a plastic beach ball in hand. “Me and the trolls are gonna play beach volleyball. You want in?”
Dave shook his head. “Me and Rose have some catching up to do.”
“Well, you know where we’ll be,” Jade said, and grabbed John’s arm. “C’mon, John. You have to help me even out the teams!”
With a slow nod, Dave watched the bespectacled pair dash off towards the courts. He decided to take shade under the umbrella, and stood awkwardly to one side. From this vantage point, he could clearly see the people near the water. He spotted some of the trolls – apparently, the Alternian sun was much more intense compared to the earth’s sun and was thereby tolerable – in the water. Equius looked rather nervous as he watched Nepeta dive down and under. Dave could practically see the sheets of sweat on the troll’s grey skin. His gaze drifted across to where (name) was standing, the waves lapping at her knees. She was shouting something and was flicking her head from side to side, searching.
“What’s (name) doing?” He asked.
“Go down and see.” Rose took her black flip-flops off, discarding them on a towel and began making her way down to the ocean. Dave frowned but followed, glad that he had his shades. Now that the blonde was closer, he could see Gamzee and Karkat on the sand. The red-blooded troll was shouting; the other was rather oblivious, too busy drinking a bottle of Faygo. Rose had called for Kanaya, who was slowly wading her way back to shore.
The Strider boy watched (name) from where he was standing, the wet sand seeping between his toes. She had a deep frown on her face, and was rubbing the upper length of her arms. Dave shifted his weight from one leg to the other, unsure of whether he should call out to the girl. His earlier bravado had all but left his system, and he was a hesitant mess. How unironic. For fuck’s sake. I’m a Strider. No girl can resist me. He straightened up and raised a hand, the firstlings of his ex-girlfriend’s name on his tongue.
But, then. He stopped.
Dave watched as you smiled and moved further out into the seawater, the liquid soaking the edges of your dress. Your mouth moved to form several syllables and you laughed as a certain sea-dwelling troll surfaced. Your lips shifted again, and this time he could see what you were saying:
“Geez, Eri. How long were you going to stay under?” You asked, watching a droplet of water slide down Eridan’s cheek. He smiled at you and slipped an arm around your waist, pulling you close. You could smell the salt on his skin and you wrapped an arm around his neck, tangling your fingers in his dark hair. “See, I told you to come swimmin’,” he said. “Instead of standin’ here. Glubbin’ bored, aren’t you?”
“You know I can’t go out as far as you, Ampora.”
The troll scoffed, and pressed his forehead to yours. “You sure that isn’t an excuse?” You rolled your eyes and the troll smirked, before leaning in to seal his lips over yours. You stood like that for a moment. You enjoyed the feeling of his tongue against yours, the saltiness of his mouth a strange but pleasant taste. Eventually, you both pulled away for air and you feel the troll grasp your hand, tugging you towards the shore. “I’m glubbin’ freezin’,” he explains. Even on a day as hot as this, wind against wet skin chills.
“That’s what happens when you go swimming topless,” you say, with a wicked smile. He shoots you a dirty look and turns away with an audible sniff. What a drama queen. You walk after him, movement slowed because of the water and reach up to press a chaste kiss to his shoulder blade. The way the violet-blood shivers makes you chuckle, and you know that all is forgiven.
“Just fuckin’ hurry up,” Eridan grumbles, the grip on your hand tightening.
“Yeah, yeah. Gosh, you’re so impatient.” You look up to the sand to see Rose and Kanaya, Equius and Nepeta, and…
“What are you doin’?!” Eridan hisses, as you suddenly stop mid-stride. You merely shake your head and point to the beach. The troll glares at you – irritated but just a little worried – and turns to where you’re indicating. He sees a boy with platinum blonde hair and the most ridiculous shades in existence. He has his arms folded across his chest, his mouth set into a line; a poker face.
“That land-dweller?” Eridan asks. You nod. “You glubbin’ know him?”
“Yeah. I’d never thought I’d see him again. My ex.”
The beach is crowded in the evening; people who come to avoid the afternoon sun. Equius is setting up the bonfire, going back and forth to collect the logs that the others had collected just for tonight. Everyone has washed off and changed into more appropriate attire – the heat from the day having been lost – and are sitting around the coal-filled pit. You lean against Eridan, eyes cast to the ground and making every effort to avoid Dave’s face. The troll shifts and snakes an arm around your waist, a clawed hand resting on your hip. He’s wearing his shirt, now, and his black framed glasses. And that ridiculous purple cape of his; he wrapped it around you both.
“Let’s get this fire motherfucking started,” Gamzee drawls, and retrieves a packet of matches. Deciding that letting an out-of-it troll handle anything remotely flammable was a bad idea, Karkat snatches it from him and gets the bonfire going himself. The air burns red and yellow and black and you watched as puffs of thick smoke waft into the air. A loud whoop and you look up to see Terezi balancing the cake precariously in one hand, a wrapped box in the other. Karkat gets up and starts yelling about how fucking dangerous it is and how she could drop the goddamn cake that way, but the teal-blood merely laughs him off, coming to a halt in front of you.
“You better be grateful,” Terezi says, handing it to you with a flourish. Taking it with two hands, and place it on your lap. There are several candles stuck into it, which spell out HAPPY BIRTHDAY in bright, obnoxious colours. Karkat moves from where he’s sitting and thrusts the matches at you, almost impatiently. Shaking your head, you take them and pull one out. Everyone is watching you intently, now, and it’s a little nerve-wracking. Dave, especially. Even though you know that his expression is probably as neutral as ever. Taking a deep breath, you light the candles and you almost drop it when everybody suddenly bursts into song. It’s terrible, and almost everyone is out of tune – a cacophony of soprano and alto voices. But you smile and laugh at their gesture – especially when Nepeta pulls a party popper at the end.
“Where’s the knife?” You ask, and Rose hands one to you.
“Happy birthday, (name),” she whispers. And you know that she was the one who pulled everything together. The cake is quickly divided and shared amongst your friends, who are now chatting loudly over the music playing in the background. You’re certain that you’re all being far too noisy. Your boyfriend grabs your chin between his thumb and index, and you smile as he kisses you.
“Happy wrigglin’ day,” he mutters, pressing a small box into your palm. He turns away - thoroughly embarrassed – but sneaks a glance or two as you unwrap his gift. It’s a simple pearl – two small diamonds on either side of it – on a silver chain. You can tell that he probably found the pearl himself; it’s unpolished and imperfect, but you love it because he put so much effort into it for you.
“Thanks, Eri.” You press a thankful kiss to his cheek, and feel the corners of his mouth hook into a proud smirk. You sit still as he takes the necklace and clasps it around your neck. The pearl sits snugly on your sternum, and gleams gently in the light. “I love it.” You feel Eridan move away and stand up, and you give him a questioning look. The troll extends a hand towards you, and arch an eyebrow. “My, Ampora. Are you asking me to dance?” You hadn’t pinned the sea-dweller as a dancer, of all things. The violet-blood frowns and grabs your hand with a huff, pulling you to your feet.
“You’re so fuckin’ difficult,” Eridan mutters, and he wraps an arm around your waist. He takes your hand and places it on his shoulder, before it edges down to the small of your back.
You look up at him. “Are we going to waltz, Eri?”
“It’s the only glubbin’ way I know how.”
You chuckle and pull away gently. “You don’t waltz at the beach.” The troll lowers his arms and stares at you, puzzled and somewhat crestfallen. You shake your head and motion for Rose to start the music. The blonde complies with a grin, and you begin to sway to the beat that starts playing. Eridan watches and tilts his head, his eyes full of approval at the way you move so fluidly to the music. Your mouth curls into a smile and you grab your matesprit, who splutters in indignation, his face lighting up. “Come on, Eri. Like this.”
Somehow, you manage to get the sea-dwelling troll to dance with you. He moves awkwardly and you can tell that he is unbearably embarrassed, his face turned away from you and toward the bonfire. But, occasionally, when you’re least expecting it, he swoops in and steals a kiss from you, and you know that the troll doesn’t really mind at all. You accidentally bump into Kanaya and you whisper a quick apology. The jade-blood winks before spinning away. At some point, the other trolls had gotten up from their seats to join you in your celebration. You can barely hear the music above the laughter and the chatter. A sudden hand on your shoulder makes you jump and you turn around, expecting to see Karkat or Gamzee or Nepeta. But instead, you meet shaded eyes and you feel goose bumps rise on your skin.
“Spare this Strider a dance?”