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Summary: n. A non-convergence of rays, owing to difference in refrangibility of different colours.

Characters: Aradia Megido, Rose Lalonde, Dave Strider, Terezi Pyrope, Karkat Vantas, Kanaya Maryam, Gamzee Makara, Sollux Captor
Ships: Aradia<3Rose, Rose<3<Terezi, Rose<>Dave

Category One:
Tags Present: Body Horror.
Tags Not Used: None.
No other Cat.1 tags apply.

Category Two:
Tags Present: None.
Tags Not Used: None.
No other Cat.2 tags apply.

Category Three (Optional):
Tags Present: Anatomical imagery - pores, Hand imagery, Tentacles, Derealisation, Reality bending, Mind control.
Tags Not Used: None.
No other Cat.3 tags apply.

Additional Tags (Optional): Orbs, Distortion, Hypocrisy.

In principle at least, a lens is a marvellous thing.

Light expands; from each source, a billion beams of brilliance radiate outwards in all directions, never again to meet. Unless, of course, a lens catches them, turns them in on themselves and sets each ray to new alignment, bringing them back to a focus – one perfect point of clarity.

Or so goes the theory.

But no lens is perfect. As each beam is caught and turned, some feel greater force. Instead of one focus, there are a thousand, ranging out from maroon to lilac. Where one forms sharp lines, the other is blurred and distant, not yet fully resolved. No true image may hold both; the best that can be achieved is a muted compromise.

The effect is known as chromatic aberration, and it has plagued lens makers for centuries.

How can clarity ever be achieved, if red and violet will not coexist?


You had forgotten the bleakness of the void.

It isn’t terrifying or frightening so much as nothing. Travelling through it had been easy and the distorted, crumbling bubbles of alternate timelines had reassured you that your timeline could be cushioned and validated. You could wrap up these decisions and make a constant with them and that held you together as you wandered through the silent, heaving screams of the inconsolable.

Terezi could count out each point of change and map out in oversaturated chalk and string the events that led you to this place. And she had, through the tick tock of thudding pulses and blinking eyes that stood for three years. Had scorned and mocked your minimal understanding of the impact of each choice until your chapped lips curled and your shoulders rolled out. Had laughed at your ignorance until her throat went raw and her voice spackled in the air.

Until you told her all her knowledge of choices was meaningless if she always regretted her own.

And you had felt the ice hot laceration of her snarl straight down your spine to burn in the tips of your toes. Your relationship had frozen upwards through charting the ideal route to the new session, solidifying against her chipped and broken nails digging streams of creases in your palms like rivers through a canyon. You had known just as surely this was the best way to your desired outcome as you had known the way her wrist twisted to catch your pointed elbow.

But neither you nor Terezi could measure the opportunities Gamzee would make and take to reach his salvation; two Seers could not account for the absent variable that the Bard of Rage would present. You could demarcate and delineate the timelines, theorize and guess at the probabilities, but you could not seal guarantee in cupped hands.

You feel again the utter raw that surrounds you, itching through the sweat at your knuckles, pounding at the flicker of your eyes, twisting lukewarm through your muscles. You remember the flood of despair that led you to make empty promises for rewards of nothing the first time around and try your hardest to forgive.

But you remember the gentle, flickering light of Kanaya as you recited soft words for toothy smiles and the way she would encourage you with affectionate eyerolls. You remember the broken way your head could rest against the hole of her stomach like a macabre pillow and how you would bob as she laughed from her missing diaphragm.

And you remember the way Karkat would throw his chin to the air and belt his despair until you muffled his mumbles in the stiff cotton of your shirt and the weight of it being okay. You remember how he would arch his neck and back toward your voice as you discussed the merits of Troll Jane Austen and knitted new sweaters four sizes too large.

And you remember the way Dave’s dark, mottled skin would go plum in laughter at your worst jokes and the way his mouth would quirk as he delivered his finest lines at his largest projection only for you. You remember countless moments passing through your consciousness with only his paced heartbeat to keep you aware. You remember the singular night he croaked in stammered whispers for reassurance and remember the way you gave it to him.

And you can’t forgive yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t have known then. You made this mistake and maybe you could have avoided it. Maybe you could have prevented this all from happening. Could have prevented the tear and consumption of this meteor by the bleak, bleak void.

Could have prevented this loss.

You first feel the rapid, vibrant zig-zag of time slowing before you as you look through your outstretched fingers. You feel the unsure and encompassing pitter patter of Dave’s time stretch through you like tendons as you feel grey descending down towards fingers you no longer control. You see the determination gleam down Terezi’s blade and smell thick dried blood flaking off Kanaya’s chainsaw and hear Karkat’s assurance that you are okay and this will be okay until everything is drowned out by the taste of defeat pouring out of your pores and curling around your fingers.

If you could create light now, perhaps, you could envelope them gently in bubbles; if you reached to the swallowed pomegranate pits of your stomach you could pull spring from this winter and protect them. But there is no light to pull from this grim dark. As fast as Dave moves and as omnipresent as his time feels whipping past your cheeks, it’s not enough.

livid violet
to wrap in peach softness but
there’s not enough time



Two girls walk together
through moss covered boughs,
where the rocks are littered
with green.

In dappled shade
they do not look at each other.
They do not touch,
or speak.

They are content
to walk in dim silence,
and listen to the break
of twigs.

They do not expect
the path to clear
and the woods to open
to light.

They both stumble
at the boundary of
the cool shades
they know.

The fairer turns away
and looks to forge
a new path in

But the darker
hesitates and

She takes its warmth
upon herself and
her smile breaks
like dawn.

“Rose,” and her
companion turns
with thin lips but
eyes wide,

and she stares,
transfixed by
the brightness.
“Come on.”

Rose considers the
border between them,
glances down
and then

she steps back into
thick shadow, leaves
Aradia alone among
the grass.

But, out of sight, her
eyes stay fixed upon
the emerald scene.
She leaps.

She is
              in the



But there is another way. Colours may be split, but that need not break focus – not if the right source is chosen. Light works on a spectrum, after all, and while maroon and lilac may be cast asunder, red and orange can never be anything but neighbours.

Of course, this is still a compromise. But as the colours draw closer, the image will begin to resolve.


vibrant tangerine
to spill light in darkness for
there is always time

When you start to feel the welling, deep old of new time you are a buzz in the back of the void’s new mind. It shudders and soothes and it barely moves. It isn’t a time you recognize at all but its aftertaste is as tangy and as rude as citrine and lips that aren’t yours purse in its bitterness.

You recognize the blunt confidence of this time’s pulse as the reflection you saw in her twinkling eyes just as the billowing balloons and bubbles of it flitter lethargically like tired fireflies. Aradia digs her heels into the lost hope of this meteor and everything


There is nothing but the rounded curves of her mouth cut into her angled chin as she looks down towards you with that air of certainty and belief and you feel it quake through you stronger than any despair you’ve ever held. Because. There is no desolate loss of everything you’ve loved when you haven’t lost yet.

You cling to that twinkle in her eye and close your own leaden eyelids. You see it in your mind’s eyes and hold it in cupped hands the way certainty never fit. You feel each wave of light crinkle against your skin like crushed velvet and you let it grow. You pour every rush of adrenaline you could ever have had and focus it through a lens no longer imperfect.

For long, free moments, it is brighter than you know how to comprehend.

And then it bursts through you like a dying sun and the darkness recoils. You see the light cup Karkat’s face and twine around Dave’s fingers and clamber against Terezi’s teeth and dance through Kanaya’s stomach and you see Sollux grab a couple beams of it in hot-cold electricity with a smirk and see the smallest, brightest particles settle on Aradia’s thick lashes like morning dew.

She settles her awkwardly long legs into a graceless pile next to you. She looks like she’s lost the only battle she never wanted to win and smiles like this is a shuddering spring morning and makes eye contact with that same twinkle.

“I changed my mind,” she says. As if it is that simple.

(It is.)


(You think,

for this girl,

you are red.)


HSO 2012 Collab Round Sector 1

August 2012

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