Title: The Harder They Fall
Author: catharticEscapism
Fandom: Homestuck
Pairing: None/General
Word Count: 1,196
Summary: When it came to blood, Gamzee was luckier than most. It'd always been easy for him. He couldn't remember ever having struggled for money or shelter. The stipend he was given every month was more than he'd ever used at once. He always had money left over and his bank account grew exponentially as the sweeps passed with minimal usage.
That didn't mean life was easy for him, just that his difficulties lay in other areas.


The Harder They Fall, by catharticEscapism

When it came to blood, Gamzee was luckier than most. It'd always been easy for him. He couldn't remember ever having struggled for money or shelter. The stipend he was given every month was more than he'd ever used at once. He always had money left over and his bank account grew exponentially as the sweeps passed with minimal usage.

That didn't mean life was easy for him, just that his difficulties lay in other areas.

Gamzee's pan wasn't quite right. Even from the earliest of ages, he'd always known there was something wrong. A voice whispering where there should have been none, an anger that didn't leave and refused to simmer no matter how hard he pushed it down. Gamzee had a lusus in name, but he could count on his fingers how many times he'd seen it since he'd pupated, much less the duration of his life.

It was only during Gamzee's earliest years that GoatDad had been around the most, doing just enough to keep him alive before receding to the furthest edges of Gamzee's periphery. "Lonely" was a word Gamzee felt like he'd been born knowing. He'd spent the majority of his life alone, closed up in a massive expanse of a hive with no one to share it and no one to talk to. They lived near the sea, isolated from civilization and a mile away from the nearest neighbor. As if in response, he'd taken up talking to himself.

Gamzee spoke until he wore out his voice — until it was gruff and barely scraped together at the edges. He spoke because even if it hurt, it felt better than the ringing silence that resounded in his head until there was nothing but screaming and blood on the walls. Sometimes Gamzee could see it, spread out like a painting everywhere he looked in a rainbow of colors — but then he'd blink and it'd be gone.

Other times, Gamzee'd belatedly realize that the blood was his own. He'd stare down at his hands, slick with his color and battered from beating the walls even though he couldn't remember having done it. Rather than clean it up, Gamzee'd left it there. It was symbolic, he decided, proof that he existed, that he was alive. It was a sign that even if he was alone, he could still feel (at least some of the time).

Not long after that, Gamzee'd gotten his first coon and his first taste of sopor. With his lusus out to sea for months at a time (if not longer), there'd been no one to tell Gamzee that the green slime wasn't meant for consumption. Even if there had been, it was doubtful that he'd have listened.

The first high had been like bliss, steadily drowning out the aggression and voices that he could never quite shake away. It'd left behind a buzz that he could feel in every nerve with each beat of his bloodpumper. It was a shaking in his organs, a vibration in his bones that had him giggling with relief. Gamzee's thoughts, always so fast and tormented, had slowed to a crawl. They were practically non-existent — and the sopor made him feel the same way.

Gamzee spent his days feeling like he was detached from his body, held together only by a small invisible cord that kept him tethered to it. He wanted to float away, but instead he spent most of his days laying wherever he found himself and buzzing aloud with the noise in his head.

The hardest part, he'd decided eventually, were the days when the sopor ran too low and he couldn't consume his fill. He'd swallow down just enough to relieve the worst of it, but he was left feeling shaky and anxious, his teeth — his very skull — aching with the need for it. It felt like someone had taken a blender to the inside of his body and he'd been left with no choice but to get more.

The walk to town always yawned ahead of him, stretched out on a horizon he felt he could never reach. He could — and did — eventually, but the effort exhausted him before he'd even reached his destination. It was a likely combination of starvation and atrophied muscles.

People — humans and trolls alike — stared at him when he was nearby, their expression twisted into something ugly and shocked. Gamzee could see their pity, their disgust, but it meant nothing to him. It took him years to realize that they were reacting to his appearance, but even knowing changed nothing.

Gamzee was tall. He loomed over everyone and was hard to miss, but for as big as his frame was, his body was equally thin. He looked like something out of a war-zone, his body starving and his stomach concave. Each rib and bone were visible, his wrists and hands nearly skeletal. The only things he ate, aside from the sopor, were sweets or fizzy drinks — an appeal to his taste-buds rather than health.

Most of Gamzee's days were spent in endless gaping silence, high out of his gourd and disconnected from his body. More often than not, he remember to eat something, however small it might be, but it was not uncommon for the thought to disappear in a haze and fall by the wayside, forgotten in the wake of his high.

The ablution block was largely untouched and it showed in his stench and appearance. Gamzee's hair was matted and stringy, hanging limply about his face or knotted unforgivably and needing to be cut out entirely. His clothes, if they were washed, stunk and were stained, ill-fitting and hanging off his body. There was no denying his place on the hierarchy, it was obvious enough with the color splayed across his clothing and his sheer size to back it up, but there was nothing else of substance to him.

Today was different than all the other days before it. Gamzee'd left his hive for no particular reason. There was no purpose or target. He'd set off walking without a destination, his body moving as if it had a will of its own. His sylladex was stocked with enough sopor for days, a precaution he'd taken to the first time he'd found himself unconscious on the side of the road during a particularly trying withdrawal.

Gamzee walked for hours. He passed the first town and kept going, strolling lazily until he'd reached the edge of the city. He'd never been there before — there'd never been a reason for him to go this far — and it made little difference. It was only as he reached the five hour mark that he found himself lagging.

Gamzee came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the sidewalk and swayed. It was as if someone had flipped a switch and all the exertions of the last few hours had hit him at once. He leaned against the side of a building (or was it an apartment? He couldn't tell), his eyes half-lidded and dazed. His legs ached and Gamzee had to squint down at them to make sure they weren't still walking without him.

Where was he?