"For the last time, cease hitting yourself," Equius said sternly, and left the remote engaged for another two seconds before Vriska surrendered with a groan.
Equius inspected her face with a glance; her dead eye now had a bruised cheekbone to go with, but he suspected she would only see it as a "badass enhancer" if he pointed it out, or at least irritatingly pretend she did. Anyways as long as she wasn't bleeding offering her healing cream might nudge a bit close to pale territory.
Sitting on the other operation table, Tavros had a hand on his mouth and his ridiculously powerful shoulders were shaking visibly. Which wouldn't have been an issue, except that Vriska was starting to glare again, and she would become unmanageable if she suspected Equius of bias.
"Was there something funny, lowblood."
"Um, no? I'm, uh. Muscle spasms." He grinned guilelessly. Equius felt his brow furrow deeper. Tavros wasn't doing anything objectionable, though, apart from daring to be a lowblood while inhabiting Equius' quadrant, but that was hardly something the wretch could help.
He bent over Vriska's shoulder again, nudged the metal cover he'd unscrewed aside so he could get at the articulation. They were well in each other's space and yet he felt little need to be on the defensive for a traitorous attack from her part, which was rather miraculous.
"It goes without saying that should either of you attempt to procure the command box for the other person's limbs I will replace said limbs with -- well, something suitably unpleasant."
Vriska rolled her eye pointedly. "Uh huh. Such as?"
Equius narrowed his eyes in warning, and refused to twitch back as she picked a lock of sweat-soaked hair off his forehead and flicked it out of his eyes with a pointed look of disgust. "Such as a braided and flower-studded hoofbeast tail. It also goes without saying that as well as being exceedingly elegant it will flick automatically to keep flies out of your face."
"... Groooooss, Fine, okay, I won't touch your command box."
As he worked, she kept picking sweaty hair with her claw-tips, all fingers but two curled out of the way. Sometimes she would roll her eyes or make faces, and she kept complaining heartily, but she kept going until it was all more or less going backward toward his ponytail. Equius' heart wasn't speeding up, per se, but it felt as if it beat stronger, deeper, moved more blood to each part of him.
It felt oddly satisfying, fussing and being groomed, and when he was done screwing the plates back in place, taking her metal wrist in hand felt like the most natural thing of the world.
She blinked at him, a blue flush rising to her face; he felt his own color peak in answer and his fingers spasmed, almost crushed the joint he had crafted for her.
But he didn't, and as her arbiter he didn't want to be seen floundering back, so he lifted her wrist to his mouth and brushed a kiss against the wires and servos where her blood should have run.
He was glad he had an excuse to turn away from her cerulean face, because the more he watched her startling innocence in matters of conciliatory trust and the worst his own blush would get. He bent over Tavros' legs without a word, the tip of his ears burning, and went about his routine check-up.
They didn't try to talk over his head -- Tavros busy watching him, which was somewhat embarrassing, and Vriska, for once, willing to wait. Maybe embarrassed herself still? Equius screwed a nerve connector in a bit too tight, and Tavros gritted his teeth and barely hissed a little bit. Equius gave his thigh a little awkward, approving pat, and couldn't make himself apologize. Did auspistices apologize to their charges? Ever? Was it proper?
"Wriggle your toes." The split-hooved design moved satisfyingly well. Tavros went through the rest of the routine without prompting, knees and hip rotation, which all checked out. Equius found himself helping him off the table without a second thought, hands cupping his elbows, supporting his weight as the lowblood's deep-chested body bumped into his.
They tested his balance, and then Tavros looked up, still very much into his space, and flicked him an oddly excited, impish grin.
He flipped Equius' grip, and then he was raising Equius' hand to his lips and kissing Equius' knuckles -- with a touch of awkwardness that betrayed the fact that this was in all likelihood his first time. He'd likely learned it off some video drama. It didn't make the feel of his soft, easily split lips against Equius' scarred knuckles any less humbling.
Equius fumbled it when he reversed their grip, fingers slick with sweat and nerves, and Tavros dared to arch his eyebrows at him, the brat, but then -- well, it was fair, he'd kissed Vriska already and, well, he was sure this was the proper way to proceed and. And.
No matter how much of an unwanted burden his two customers were, he really did feel like a properly yoked troll right now, complete with proprietary annoyance and a strange, extremely embarrassing desire to lock horns until they bowed their heads for him.
Vriska draped herself on his shoulders and back without warning and whined right in his ear, "Are we going yet? We'll miss the whole campaign because you guys were fliiirting. Eugh."
"Like you can talk, you know," Tavros replied over Equius' shoulder. "It's not my fault you're not suave and flirty like me, and couldn't take the chance to kiss him back, because you were embarrassed, and now you're jealous and--"
"Nitram." He was blushing again, he knew it. Those two were going to be the death of him. "Serket and I will kiss when we so choose, and not sooner. Now behave if you wish me to allow you to take liberties with my person ever again."
He herded them out of his workroom, and prepared to spend a frustrating evening preventing the two of them from turning their silly roleplaying game into something altogether too real.
One thing was sure, he didn't think he would have time to get bored.