Time passes by in a tipsy haze of sunlight and rainbows. Rose talks to Kanaya until she can no longer keep her eyes open, and then some, because when she can immerse her friend in such meaningless discussion she does not have to think about the little monstrosities creeping through her grey matter, prodding and whispering and reminding her that she is not free yet.
Even still, sleep comes difficult when she knows that she’ll find herself on Derse, in close range of the Outer Ring. Just sitting in her tower she imagines tendrils wrapped around her mind so thickly she can barely see straight. She is afraid that she will wake up dark again, identity and conscience eaten away.
I originally encountered this Homestuck story back in February, when I was looking for gen fics to rec on Valentine’s Day. Although it focuses more on Rose’s struggle to come to terms with her sexuality, I ended up disqualifying it as a gen fic since it still did have romantic content. Today, however, I have no such restrictions and I’m happy to share Show the Lights with you.
Show the Lights begins during Act 5 Act 2 with Rose’s descent into grimdarkness, but rapidly diverges from canon after that. Dave, Aradia, and Jade quickly interfere in Rose and Jack’s duel, and transport Rose back to LOLAR. In the original comic, Rose’s grimdark berserker rage is stopped abruptly when she’s killed by Jack. (She gets better.) In this fic, her recovery is not so easy. Trapped in her trance but encouraged by the distant soothing of a voice that turns out to be Kanaya’s, Rose manages to use her planet’s power to escape her grimdarkness—enough to regain conscious control of her body, at least. However, the process of withdrawal from Horrorterror power is akin to quitting a powerful drug cold turkey, and equally as unpleasant.
Amidst all this, John is MIA after his death on the battlefield. Once Rose is marginally better, the united troll and human teams start formulate a plan to retrieve him from the Furthest Ring. Rose is equally conflicted over the fact that she’s considered too great a risk to take on the rescue mission, and by her burgeoning romantic feelings for Kanaya.
I really like this fic because author partingxshot realizes that Rose, despite surviving a horrific postapocalyptic ordeal and recovering from an overdose on eldritch magics, is still a thirteen year old girl. A lot of fanworks seem to posit her as a totally self-aware and self-confident young woman, but I think that a lot of her personality is careful posturing. The idea that she is not aware that she’s attracted to women ties into this nicely. It’s very different to know objectively that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, and another thing entirely to experience same-sex attraction yourself, and Rose struggles with that as much as she struggles with the psychic call of the Horrorterrors.
While the story is not in first person, it is limited to Rose’s POV and readers are privy to all of Rose’s inner thoughts. Rose’s head is an interesting place to be at any time, but I really liked the different styles partingxshot used in the segments of the story where Rose is grimdark and where she is not.
Show the Lights clocks in at around 18k, and can be found here at AO3.