Characters/Pairings: Rose Lalonde, Dave Strider
Ratings/Warnings: PG-13, implied violence
Written for: N/A
A/N: An exploration of the crapsack timeline and how much Rose remembers. I'm going with the assumption that she might not be able to narrate all the events but does remember specific moments.
She want to scream at him, to shake him. Often. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing she’s ever done, not to grab him by the shoulders, slap him
across the face, smack him across the back of the head, shout, “Why do you suddenly not understand anything?”
Knowing the answer doesn’t make it any easier to listen to him argue helplessly about plans that don’t suck and better ways and her living.
It’s unfair, she knows, to feel betrayed, sick; it’s not his fault that everything they built themselves around, decided and fought and learned and swallowed, is suddenly – gone. He wasn’t there.
But it feels like he was. The person who was looked exactly the same, or maybe he looks exactly the same as her Dave, and really this is a ridiculous debate, because they’re the same. Two variants on the same person, like a symphony played by two different orchestras. Only the second orchestra, the one everyone says is better, leaves out all the crescendos and the jagged notes and the painful sharp cannon-blasts, the moment two months in when he broke down and sobbed against her frozen terrified shoulder, the whispery rough way his hair felt under her shaking hand while he gasped about John and Jade and fucking not fair, the hesitant touch of his hand on her shoulder and the awkward stubborn bones-and-blood-and-elbows relief of the hug he dragged her into after she did that thing with the imps that she’s been struggling not to term a massacre, the distorted too-far-from-the-computer sound of their whispers to each other, murmuring until the one off-shift finally fell asleep, the tinny-speakers version of his snoring that absolutely had to be a constant presence in her ears to reassure her that he, at least, was still alive.
The metaphor collapsed quite some time ago, she thinks, and even while still existent it had drifted quite a ways from her original point, namely, that it is not his fault he’s suddenly letting her down at every turn.
And even though some of what she expects from him isn’t logically necessary anymore – even though she doesn’t need him to say, Man, Egbert would flip his shit over this one or Harley’d go fucking nuts about that, to listen to her quiet spaces and never-minds and say, Shit, Rose, I cannot even say how much that is exactly the opposite of what Jade would think or what the fuck there is no way in hell you actually think John would go for that, because they’re alive – even though there’s no reason for the guilt-sickness that still coils around the back of her throat, she still needs his backup.
She still needs him cursing Sburb for all it’s worth like a steady litany in her ears, needs to see her hard-mouthed, cold-eyed stubbornness reflected in him, because if she looks in a mirror she looks monstrous. She needs him understanding why they have to do anything, everything, whatever they can, whatever they can’t, whatever it takes, because they cannot, cannot, cannot be trapped again. She is not going to find herself struggling against useless bullshit ever-choking paralyzing unchangeable irreversible helplessness in another doomed timeline. She isn’t slipping into sleep with the panicked knowledge that when she wakes up everything will be different, if she even wakes up. She is not going to fail again. No matter what it takes, she is not letting her friends die a second time.
“Why don’t you understand that anymore?” she screams at the sky and the frantic red text on the computer screen.
She takes a deep breath. In. Out. She cannot go to pieces. Of course he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t have those four months anymore. He’s still just a kid, expecting and reaching for the innocent determined Rose from, good God, only four months ago.
Breathe. In. Out. It isn’t his fault. Later, she’ll explain, he’ll grow up again, maybe he’ll be able to help.
For now, she’ll do this on her own.