"No, Cronus! If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times-"
"Vhat?! Do you not trust me or something?"
"Don't be ridiculous, that is hardly the root of the problem here-"
"Do you not love me? Is that it?"
Kankri Vantas was officially stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The somewhat off-kilter and often stressful red relationship he had decided to risk with Cronus had been going on for nearly half a sweep, and more than once, Cronus had made sexual advances. He had tried to sweep Kankri off his feet and woo him silly, which worked to an extent. That extent was cuddling on the sofa with almost cold hands rubbing circles on a mutant-hot grey chest under a certain red sweater while a rom-com was playing, maybe a few cold kisses to the neck and ears. This elicited high, sweet giggles and squirming. Overall, Kankri was very nice to cuddle. Cronus had no complaints there. His small size and soft curves made him a fantastic little spoon to Cronus' cool, bony big spoon.
But try as he might, Cronus simply had not been able to find his way into Kankri' s ridiculously high-waisted pants.
They were sitting in Kankri' s hive, in his respite block, on a pile of baby-soft red sweaters. Though piles were more of a pale thing to sit on, the material Porrim remembered for Kankri' s multitude of sweaters was damnably comfortable and soft. They were in the middle of another 'discussion' of Kankri' s celibacy vows. For the second time that week. Cronus was still convinced that Kankri didn't trust him. Kankri was trying to convince him otherwise.
"Cronus, for the eleven and a half perigrees we have spent as a 'couple'" (Here he made bunny ears with his smallish fingers, purposely using the human term for 'matesprits')"I have come to trust you with fairly explicit details. About my life, my beliefs, and such. And, I will admit it, I have grown quite fond of you, despite the constant advances and altercations you seem to enjoy. However, my celibacy is not a negotiable subject. No. I love you, but no."
Cronus groaned. If it wouldn't have tousled his perfect pompadour, he would have slapped his forehead with his open palm. He had needs, too! He had fallen horns-over-heels for the long-winded troll over that amount of time, and he wanted to express his desire for closeness in the most ancient and well-recieved way he knew how.
That, of course, involved a pail.
And Kankri wasn't having it.
"...Okay, chief, let's strike a deal, here." When Kankri opened his mouth to object, Cronus held up his hands in a universal gesture for 'wait'. "Just hear me out on this. If you don't vant to pail, at the very least, I vant to see you undressed. I mean, you've seen me get out of my 'coon, sometimes you even help me dry off an' get the slime out if my hair, so you've seen me naked a fair share a' times. But you're alvays up, showered, and dressed, no matter how early I get up."
Kankri, with a huge amount of concentration, kept his trap shut.
"So, I kind of really vant to see you too. If that's okay. Von't touch you vithout your permission, svear to God." He drew an 'x' over his pump biscuit with a filed-down claw.
"You don't even have to decide right now. Just think about it, babydoll."
With that, he kissed Kankri' s forehead, scratching lightly at the base of his black waves, and left without another word.
- - - - -
It was an entire week before Kankri even looked Cronus in the eye again. He stayed at Porrim' s hive most of the time, debating the subject with her. She didn't exactly jump right on board.
"Personally, I think this is a bad idea and you shouldn't trust him with something as big as this. Then again, he's never stayed with someone in any quadrant this long before."
Kankri nodded slowly, working at the scrap of knitting in his claws. It was something to do with his hands, and Porrim had fabrics to spare. She sat beside him on a pile of scrap fabric, fixing a rip in her dress with a small sewing kit, her hair tied back loosely.
"I can see why you would think that, Porrim, as you have past experiences with Cronus, but...I really think his intentions might be pure this time."
"And you trust him enough to explain about..."
"...Yes, I do."
Porrim sighed, setting her sewing aside and gathering Kankri into her ample bosom. He made a small sound of discontent in his throat, but otherwise complied. She was the closest thing to a moirail he had.
"Just be very careful, Kanny. I know how touchy of a subject your vows are, and just be aware that once you show him your secret, he is able to use it to his advantage and tell whoever the hell he wants. If he gets angry enough, he will use it against you. Understand?"
Kankri rolled his eyes.
"Yes, I get it. You're not my human mother. I can make decisions by myself."
- - - - -
The next night, Kankri decided. It was calm and pleasantly cool. The sky was clear, the moons were softly shining, and Kankri was going to show himself, without the clothes he wore like armour, to Cronus.
He thought he was going to vomit.
The only person who had ever seen him completely naked was Porrim, when she had performed the task that the Cancer was so skittish about revealing. Albeit that she had tried desperately to talk him out of it, she had eventually given in,on the threat that he would do it himself. He swallowed the lump in his throat, calling downstairs to Cronus. Mercifully, he had given his matesprit space whilst he was debating whether or not to reveal his secret.
"Cronus....Come here, please."
The couch creaked. Footsteps. Deep breath in...out. Cronus' cologne beyond the door.
Just going to stick my neck into beneath old guillotine with a frayed rope, that's all.
"Pigeon? Somethin' wrong?"
Kankri stepped back from the door. He felt vulnerable and wrong and he clasped his hands in front of him. The doorknob turned and the cologne-and-hairspray smell that he associated with Cronus became stronger as he poked his head in the room, entering.
"I'm...I've decided to take you up on your request."
He felt filthy.
Cronus blinked, an easy smile spreading on his lips. The lollipop-stick that seemed ever-present dangled from the corner of his mouth. "Great news, Chief!"
"...Please refrain from...erm...peeking. I'll tell you when I'm....undressed."
Filthy, nasty, dirty words.
Cronus nodded, his smile curling bigger. He turned around, facing the wall, thumbs in his pockets.
Please don't smile, smiling during this sort of situation is uncomfortable for me, please stop smiling...
There was a soft swish as the red sweater hit the floor. Off came the boots.
Oh God Oh God Oh God
His hands were shaking as he unbuttoned his pants. The zipper was loud enough to shatter eardrums. They pooled obscenely about his ankles. How had he not noticed how hot it was in this room? Somebody was pounding down the hallway- or maybe it was just his pulse- Come on, you know how to undress, Kankri, you're a big boy, hook your thumbs under your waistband, push-
Nonononono stop abort abort abort
His boxers were the only shield he had left, thin fabric keeping him normal like everyone else, maybe he could stop here- No, Kankri, you wanted this, push them down-
His last defense was pooled atop his pants and he was trying not to bolt.
He was trying really hard.
"Everything okay back there, Kanny?"
The room was spinning as Cronus turned.
Dead white eyes swept appreciatively over Kankri' s fever-hot body, smile growing, then froze just below his waist.
PR9GRAM ERR9R A69RT A69RT A69RT A69RT-
"...Oh my God."
A69RT A69RT A69RT
Cronus looked horrified, coming closer, bending down to inspect what he was staring at, Kankri was not here, Kankri was in Sweaterville, go away please-
"....Oh my God...Kankri...."
Not 'pigeon'. Not 'doll'. Not 'babe'.
"...Vhat did you do to yourself ..."
Kankri choked out a laugh, blinking rapidly, swallowing hard.
"...When I said I'm celibate....I meant, I'm celibate."
A neat, thin line of stitches, in Porrim' s signature jade green, closed his bulge slit permanently. From where Cronus stood, he could see that the flesh was weirdly depressed, like the space behind the skin was hollow.
Like his tentabulge wasn't coiled up neatly behind it.
"Vhen did this..."
"...After my eighth wriggling day. It's quite triggering to remember..."
Hey, look, Kankri, your brain still works.
"Vhat the actual fuck!!!" Cronus screamed, standing up to look his matesprit in the face. "Did you have a fucking death vish?!!" His dead white eyes looked panicked, his face was very pale. He looked as though he had seen a ghost. If Kankri hadn't been so scared, he would have laughed.
"...It was a protest against there being a mandatory law that one was required to pail to survive-"
Cronus grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him, once.
"KANKRI, VHY THE FUCK VOULD YOU THINK THAT THIS VAS OKAY?!! THIS IS NOT OKAY AT ALL, THIS IS SELF-MUTILATION!!"
Why was his voice so hoarse and strained? Why were his eyes welling violet?
"...We're dead anyway."
Cronus still looked wild, swiping at his eyes and staring. He suddenly pulled Kankri into a tight hug, rocking him back and forth. Kankri just stood stiffly. Cronus, kept muttering 'fuck, fuck, fuck'.
Kankri cleared his throat.
"...I understand if you would find it favourable for us to not be matesprits after this, I've probably triggered a bad memory for you if you're reacting like this-"
Then he realised that Cronus was stroking lightly, gently, at his hubby horns, combing his fingers through the black mop that Kankri called hair.
Cronus was trying to calm him down, even though the Aquarius was the one who was obviously more shaken by this new information.
He couldn't have felt more pity towards him right then.
They were both so screwed up. But maybe that was okay.
They could be screwed up together.